It's been a while since we've troubled the placepot pools, and I do especially like these unpredictable weather days for such wagering shenanigans. The going at Nottingham tonight is currently good to soft, but the forecast suggests rain this afternoon and plenty of rain during racing this evening.
As such, I'm going to take a walk on the wild side... or at least a chance on the soft side... and anticipate absentees. It all starts at 5.25 with a nursery handicap for...
Six furlongs and staggered weights for the juvies here, and it's a pretty tough beginning. Thumper ran his best race (of four) over six sodden furlongs, and so he could improve on what we've seen to date. He's also had a little rest since his last run during which time he may have improved physically.
Secret Spirit can be forgiven her last run, where she was well beaten after getting bumped at the start over an inadequate five in the Super Sprint. Back to six and with a bit of cut, she looks to have a sound chance.
The form of Felix Leiter's Yarmouth win has been franked with both the third and sixth that day winning next time out, from just three runners out of the race. Felix should handle cut fine and, though top weight is not an easy challenge to overcome, he has only had two starts to could progress more than many in the field.
And Alpha Spirit's four defeats have ALL worked out well, with at least 17% of subsequent runners winning from each, and 37%+ placing. If he handles the ground, he might find this easier.
A: 1, 2
B: 5, 8
Ah, the precarious five runner event. The maker of many a placepot. One of the six declared has already absented, and one more would make for win only for placepot purposes. We are not assisted by the fact it's a novice stakes, where getting a sensible handle on the form is tough. Even more so given that the two top rated on official figures have produced their best work on firm surfaces.
Indeed, of the quintet, only the 40/1 poke Red Connect has run on softer than good, and he was a fair second.
Although using a lot of bullets early, I'm taking four again here, and siding with the market. Enlace and George Dryden on A, and Al Gomry and Prize Exhibit on B. If it does cut to four or less, and Red Connect is still a runner, I'll probably have a tiny saver, just in case...
A: 3, 4
B: 1, 6
A seventeen runner six furlong handicap, with four out already. That's more like it. Ahem. Here's the 'Instant Expert' for the race (click to open full size in new tab)...
Indian Affair hasn't had too many turf runs on the soft side of good, but when he has he's normally fared quite well. He's ten pounds lower than his last winning mark, and could run well tonight.
Borough Boy, Masked Dance, and Queen Hermione are all favoured to some degree by conditions, though the last named has been very in and out. There's been money for The Strig, but this lad has never even placed beyond five furlongs on turf, in seventeen attempts.
Kiss From A Rose has had less chances than most of these and faces soft for the first time. She might like it. She might not.
A: 1, 4, 7
B: 6, 11
We've fired a lot of shrapnel in the first half, and things don't get easier now, as we stare down the barrel of a 'dead eight' staying handicap with the three-year-olds getting lumps of weight from some able elders. In fact, as I write, Missed Call has come out, leaving seven, and only two places. This 'pot could be juicy (or it could be anti-climactic!)
Dino Mite was beaten out of site (sic) when only a 12/1 shot in a soft ground Sandown maiden, but he followed that up with an eighteen (!) length romp in a Southwell all weather maiden last time. The second and fourth (beaten 38 lengths) both won next time, but whether he's as effective on turf is unknown.
Zipp looks more interesting from the in form Raiff Beckett stable, and this soft ground hound should step forward from an 'ok' seasonal bow. Mark Johnston's three year olds are always to be respected in contests such as this, and Late Shipment was a non-runner as Stat of the Day on Saturday. A runner up earlier in the season on soft ground, he's been bit hit and miss since, but if he has a 'hit' day, he'll go close.
It's entirely feasible that neither of my selected pair will be first or second, but we cannot continue nominating the entire herd!
A: 4, 6
This is a good class five furlong conditions race, with some Listed level animals in the line up. All eleven stand at time of writing, though do check as late as you can (a comment which holds for all races, of course) on the weather.
Free Zone is by far the most interesting. Form figures of 00-000 are uninviting for an 8/1 chance on the face of it, but this fella loves five on the soft side of good. He's been competitive at Group 3 level and won a Class 2 handicap over five on good to soft last back end. That makes him an A player in this Class 3 event, despite the recent ovoid form string. Small fields also seem to help him.
Another of sprint king Robert Cowell's four entries is Graphic Guest, a lass who has placed on four of her five races over the minimum, the exception being the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. Soft suits best, and she too can run well.
The other joint jolly with Graphic Guest is a third Cowell runner, Speed Hawk. He's never raced on ground this soft, and is not bred for the job either. He could run well but there are enough reasons to side with reliable form elsewhere.
A: 4, 11
If we're still going by now, we could be in a good place on what looks a very tricky card. Naturally, it doesn't always pan out that way, but faint heart never won fair maiden, as they say.
The closer has been blighted by non-runners already, and the declared ten are down to seven, and just two places. Should this number dwindle further, we have an interesting insurance option, which I'll mention in a moment.
Backstage Gossip is interesting, and won her only race on soft. She's been running on the sand since and this return to turf could spark a return to winning ways. Oscars Journey likes it here, having won (on soft) and been fourth (good to soft) in his two visits.
Meanwhile, Oil Strike is a far shorter price than he deserves to be on recent - in fact, on almost all - form, but connections are hugely respected. He's added, just in case.
The remaining four (or less if non-runners arrive) can be permed in exactas to cover stakes if it looks like the payout will justify the effort. Check the running on totals here.
A: 5, 7, 8
That gives the following permutations:
A's only: 2 x 2 x 3 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 144 lines
A's and B's: 4 x 4 x 5 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 960 lines (!)
Ticket builder looks like this: