After looking at two horses for Saturday, I didn't fancy either and I left them alone. As it happens, Bint Australia finished seventh of nine and Baby Alya was a non-runner (she ran Friday instead and won). Instead of suggesting bets on those tow, I preferred other runners in each race and I ended with a 13/2 runner-up (Gold Souk) and 7/1 winner in the shape of Elvrika, so looking at those two races wasn't a lost cause after all.
Monday's 'feature of the day' is free full access to the PACE tab for ALL readers for ALL races including, of course, our free 'races of the day' which will be...
- 2.05 Southwell
- 3.20 Newton Abbot
- 4.40 Ballinrobe
- 6.00 Windsor
- 6.30 Windsor
- 7.40 Ballinrobe
I'm not sure whether Windsor will go ahead and I'm not keen on the Irish card for Monday, so I'm down to two choices for my preview. Sadly, the Southwell race is a mares bumper, so we're sort of left with the 3.20 Newton Abbot! But it's an interesting-looking small field affair, as it's a 5-runner, Class 4, Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over 3m2f on Good (Good to soft in places with rain due) ground worth £3,594 to one of...
Of these five, only Mr Mafia is without a win in his last five starts, but none of them were good enough to win last time out. To aid his chances, Gangster drops in class as the only class mover. Three of the field have raced in the last three weeks, but Optimistic Bias has been off for ten weeks, whilst likely favourite Easyrun de Vassy hasn't raced for 41 weeks, but he along with Gangster have both won over this 3m2f trip before, as has Mr Mafia who did it here at Newton Abbot. None of the others have won here before. Four of the field are at the veteran stage now, aged 10-12, but Easyrun de Vassy is only 7 and he heads a tight 3lb weight spread from highest to lowest.
Easyrun De Vassy got off the mark at the ninth time of asking when winning a 5-runner chase by 5.5 lengths over today's class/trip at Fontwell off a mark of 109. He then reappeared three weeks later at the same class, track and trip off today's mark of 114 and was last home of seven, beaten by eleven lengths. That was his last run and he now has to put both that run and a 41-week layoff behind him to run here against more experienced rivals.
Mr Mafia is getting on a bit at 12 yrs old now, but won here over course and distance at a higher grade back in 2019 and when he last came here in September 2020, was a runner up over track and trip again at Class 3. He had three indifferent efforts after that, but looked like coming back to form last month when only beaten by half a length at Worcester and might still be well treated here off a mark of 113.
Optimistic Bias landed a 3m soft ground contest at Uttoxeter four starts ago (Nov '20) and although didn't fire in two subsequent efforts, ran a decent enough race to finish third at Plumpton last time out over slightly further than today, he 2lbs lower than that race now, but would need a similar or better effort to feature here.
Gangster is an out and out stayer, but inconsistent with it, as epitomised by the four runs he's had since the start of March : 6th of 7, beaten by 47L, a 14-length win over four miles and then two fifth place finishes beaten by 50L and 25L. Every so often he just throws in a good performance (he won off 9lbs higher last year!), but can't be relied upon, I'm afraid.
Ballyegan Hero has been running pretty well this summer season after finishing third of ten at Plumpton over this trip, he then stepped up to Class 3 to win by seven lengths on good to soft ground over 3m3f in conditions similar to what he'll face today. More was expected of him back down to this grade at Hexham earlier this month, but the 6th of 9, 25 lengths adrift doesn't tell the whole story. He made a bad mistake early that knocked the stuffing out of him and he never got into the race, so I'm inclined to overlook that and hope for a repeat of the previous two efforts.
Relevant form via Instant Expert says...
...that Easyrun de Vassy is best suited by these conditions, but the caveat here is that two runs is a small sample size that needs to be treated with caution, he's still 1 from 10 and is 5lbs higher than his sole win. Mr Mafia goes well here, loves any trip at 3m and beyond and the market is usually a good indicator of his chances. Optimistic Bias is certainly proven at Class 4, he likes small fields and is another about whom the market is usually right, but he'd prefer a shorter trip.
Gangster's record at Class 4 is also good and he fares well after only a short break, but I think he'd prefer a longer trip on softer ground, but if lots of rain comes, he might be happy. Ballyegan Hero is probably better than Instant Expert would suggest. He's 1 from 1 on good to soft and that's probably where we're heading, he hasn't won at Class 4, but did win at a higher level two starts ago and that was over 3m3f, so there are excuses for his poor showing on IE.
As this is an NH race, we obviously don't have stalls and therefore don't have draw data or a pace/draw heatmap, but we can tell you about pace. Pace is a bit of a misnomer in NH contests, because it doesn't really mean who is the fastest etc, it's more to do with race positioning and for this type of contest, it pays to be up with the pace, as coming from anywhere too far back is difficult to win from...
We can show you how these have tended to race based on their last four outings...
...suggesting that Mr Mafia & Easyrun de Vassy are likeliest to take it on.
Based on the pace profile above, it could well be that Mr Mafia & Easyrun de Vassy take it on and whilst history dictates that this tactic is best here in this sort of race, I'm not convinced it'll pan put here. I'm concerned that Easyrun de Vassy is coming off a long layoff to run off a mark at which he was well beaten at LTO and there's a real chance he tires and goes back through the field or pulls up.
This would leave Mr Mafia in the boxseat and the one I like from the pack would be Ballyegan Hero if can keep in touch with the leaders. He won a better race than this two starts ago and if running to that same level, has possibly the best chance of all.
I'm aware that I'm relying on ifs and buts here, but the way I see it is that if Easyrun stays, he's got a great chance, but I don't think he will stay. If Ballyegan reproduces that run from two starts ago, then he also has a great chance. I think a reproduction is more likely than Easyrun staying 3m2f from the front.
So, based on those assumptions, I'm siding with Ballyegan Hero at 7/2 with the equally priced Mr Mafia as my backup, as he's 8 from 27 (29.6%) at odds of 5/1 or shorter.
Finally a last word about Easyrun de Vassy : irrespective of whether he stays or not, he's not a 13/8 shot here in my eyes! (I await egg on my face!)