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Racing Insights, 15th November 2021

The racecard PACE tab is Monday's free feature and this will be available to ALL readers for ALL races, including the following 'free' races of the day...

  • 2.45 Plumpton
  • 3.00 Leicester

Not much racing to go at on Monday (can't remember such a sparse weekday for), but we'll take a look at the first of those two races above, the 2.45 Plumpton, which is a 7-runner, Class 4, 3yo+ handicap hurdle over 2m4½f on good ground. They'll go left handed and tackle 12 hurdles in a bid to land the £3,594 first prize and here's the card...

Manning Estate is 3lbs lower than his last win, achieved back in February 2020 over 3m½f at Doncaster, but hasn't really run well in seven starts since, failing to make the frame in any and going down by an average 34 lengths each race and his yard in 0/23 in the last month.

Soldier On Parade is an OK hurdler, I suppose and is often there or thereabouts, but doesn't seem to be able to win many. His results show a lack of consistency and if he isn't fairly close to the winner, he's invariably well off the pace, as shown when 5th of 6 last time out, beaten by more than 65 lengths.

Glashas Peak is the only mare in the race and she has yet to make the frame after seven attempts (2 X NHF, 5 x hrd). She was going well enough last time out here at Plumpton, though, but was brought down at the 9th. Others hold more appeal here.

Jens Boy tends to lead or race prominently before running out of steam and finds little late on, but has 2 wins and 2 places from 13 efforts over hurdles.
Ran well here at Plumpton LTO, when although only 4th of 12, was less than 2.5 lengths off the pace, clearly benefiting from not being asked to run 3m+. Down another half furlong here, could very well step forward again.

Cremant has made the frame in each of his last three starts, all off a mark of 107 and now 2lbs lower here, you'd expect him to be involved once again. A former Irish PTP winner, he did also win over hurdles around this time last year. Trip is ideal, be he'd probably have wanted it softer.

Mr Yeats probably looks the one to beat in a modest contest, but only got off the mark at the 11th time of asking when winning at Wincanton a month ago in a Class 4 handicap. He then dropped a class but went up 3lbs and won again at Huntingdon six days ago and he's now back up in class and up 7lbs for that second win. That definitely makes life tougher, but he could be the one here.

Harry Hazard hasn't made the frame in any of his eight previous starts, hasn't raced since 22nd October 2020 (only 3 runs in last 31 months), hasn't got within 17 lengths of a winner and races from outside the handicap here. He also makes a yard debut for a trainer with 2 wins from 40 since the start of April. As for the positives? I'm sure he's a lovely horse.

We've a modest bunch here who made the frame just 27 times from 102 attempts (26.%), winning just 11 (10.8%) of them, but that's across all spheres. Instant Expert tells us how they've performed in similar conditions to today's race...

As expected, the win percentages aren't great, but Mr Yeats and Jens Boy were probably the two to take from that graphic, whilst based on place form, you'd probably add Cremant to that pair. The pace stats here suggest that mid-division or further back is the best place to launch a challenge from...

...although prominent runners do make the frame quite often. The one I thought stood out so far, Mr Yeats has raced in mid-div and as a hold-up horse in the two races he has won recently...

...so that should stand him in good stead here. Cremant who also looked good on Instant Expert is another who gets waited with, but Jen's Boy likes to lead. That said, he's down in trip and almost held on last time out.

Summary

A pretty modest race if truth be told and although has hasn't had much of a breather and he's up 7lbs, it's hard to see Mr Yeats not completing a fairly quick hat-trick. We're not getting rich at bet 365's 9/4 odds, but they're probably about right, if not a little long.

As for the place(s), I'm referring back to Instant Exert here and it's between Jens Boy and Cremant and I think the latter edges it on form, Instant Expert and pace. There's no disputing that he'd prefer the ground a bit softer but with Jens Boy not being guaranteed an easy lead with Soldier on Parade around, I'm going with the 9/2 Cremant as second best.

Racing Insights, 8th February 2021

Of the three I felt most likely to win Saturday's featured race, my pick Shan Blue did indeed come out best, but sadly had to settle for second place behind the unfancied Sporting John, who outstayed our runner to land Richard Johnson the first leg of an unlikely 1068/1 treble on the Sandown card.

And so to Monday, where we make the PACE tab freely available to all users for all races, including the featured 'free races of the day', which are...

  • 12.25 Newcastle
  • 12.30 Carlisle
  • 1.20 Fairyhouse
  • 3.20 Plumpton
  • 3.30 Fairyhouse

and it's the fourth on that list that I'm looking at today : the 3.20 Plumpton, a Class 4 handicap hurdle for 4yo+ runners over 3m 1.5f on heavy ground and the £3,964 top prize will go to one of these alphabetically arranged horses...

Abbey Street was a runner-up in back to back handicap hurdles over similar trips to this one in May 2018, but was then off the track for 30 months. He hasn't been the same since and was fairly well beaten (13L) when 4th of 14 here over C&D last time out. His yard are just 1 from 22 over hurdles here at Plumpton since the start of 2018 and I'd be inclined to look elsewhere, despite his third place on the Geegeez Speed Rating.

Black Centaur is currently with a third trainer, despite only making seven career starts, but his run for Chris Gordon LTO was easily his best effort to date, when a runner-up just three lengths off the pace at Hereford almost two months ago, where he was some 16 lengths clear of the third placed horse and looks well set for another placed finish if not more.

Trainer Chris Gordon is 30 from 125 (24%) over hurdles here since 2016, whilst overall his heavy ground hurdlers are 15 from 75 (20%) since 2017. Jockey Tom Cannon also has a good record over hurdles here, winning 26 of 128 (20.3%) since 2016, including 22 of 72 (30.6%) for Chris Gordon.

Call Off The Dogs was a winner two starts ago over 2m6f on soft ground at Fontwell and was then only beaten by a little more than two lengths over a similar trip here at Plumpton last time out, despite being raised 5lbs. He does look like one of the more likely contenders here but another 2lb rise, an extra half mile and a step up in class make this far from a simple task.

His yard, however, are in good nick with 5 winners from 25 (20%) over the last fortnight and are 13 from 57 (22.8%) in Class 3&4 handicap hurdles here at Plumpton since 2016.

Crown Hill is 11 yrs old now but is by no means here to make up numbers. He's had a stop start time of it over the last three years or so, but looked back in form last time out. He won over 3m2f at Warwick in mid-May 2018 and was then off the track for almost 18 months. On his return he was pulled up twice on the bounce inside 8 weeks and then went back in the box for over ten months, where he was then pulled up again at Ffos Las (8th Nov).

A drop down two grades to C5 did the trick in early December, when only beaten by four lengths and then last time pout, he was back at this Class 4 grade to be beaten by just a nose over 3m1f on soft ground at Huntingdon, where he was unlucky to be carried left at the last hurdle and then got caught on the line. His yard are 5/21 (23.8%) in handicap hurdles here and more generally their hcp hurdlers are 13 from 60 (21.7%) over 3m to 3m3f during September to February.

Get An Oscar is another who looks to have a chance here based on her last effort over hurdles and ignoring her LTO run over fences where she was pulled up at Ffos Las. Prior to that, she was third of eight on heavy ground and has proved she stays beyond this trip. She needs to bounce back from that recent disappointment, though.

Jockey Sean Bowen is 33/117 (28.2%) in heavy ground hurdles contests since 2017, including 20 from 63 (31.75%) at Class 4.

Jungle Prose is a 6yr old mare who has made the frame in each of her three efforts over hurdles since winning a bumper in September of last year. She has finished 323 in those contests and was then a runner-up in another bumper a week ago (A/W jumpers bumper to give her a run after 11 weeks off). Having had that run, I'd expect another strong effort here, but more will be needed, as this is five furlongs further than her last race over hurdles, although that too was on heavy ground.

Stat-wise, it isn't great, her yard is shy of winners lately with just 1 winner from 34 over the last 11 weeks and just 2 winners from 38 in all Plumpton handicap hurdles.

Lugg River was reasonable in bumpers but hasn't really done anything over hurdles if truth be told and was beaten by 48 lengths when fourth of eight last time ouit on her first effort beyond 2m6.5f. Yet to even make the frame in four efforts over hurdles so far, she was some 45 lengths behind the re-opposing Back Centaur LTO, so I can't see her overturning that form when only 3lbs better off.

Her yard, however, was 14 from 49 (28.6%) in handicap hurdles in 2020, including 10 from 28 (35.7%) at Class 4, 7 from 22 (31.8%) at 3 miles and beyond and 4 from 12 (33.3%) at C4 over 3m and further.

Robsam is an unexposed 6 yr old who looks an improving type. A ruuner-up last time out when beaten by just over two lengths at Hexham in mid-September, but will now have to overcome the effects of a 21-week break and he has also to prove himself on heavy ground and at this trip. He wa beaten by 37 lengths over 2m7f (soft) and by 127 lengths over 3m (heavy) on his two runs prior to LTO, so he has work to do here.

He does, however, get to call upon Richard Johnson's services in the saddle and Dicky is on fire right now, making the frame in 9 of his last 13 rides, winning five of them.

Tzar de l'Elfe is an 11yr old gelding who has only won 2 of 21 starts split across both jumps codes. He is though, the only runner here with a course victory and a distance victory to his name, achieved when winning here over course and distance three starts ago. However, that was over fences and more than 14 months ago.

He hasn't tackled a hurdle since being beaten by 23 lengths over 2m7f in mid-November 2018 and was disappointing LTO when coming off a 9-month break to be beaten by 50 lengths at Fontwell. One to avoid here, I'd say. Jockey Niall Houlihan has 3 wins and 3 runner-up finishes from his last nine rides but I'm struggling for any other positives about this one.

Woulduadamandeveit makes up our field here and although placed on three of his four bumper outings, has failed to make the frame in any of seven starts over hurdles. The closest he has been to a winner was a 12 lengths defeat over 2m3f two starts ago and I don't see him being anywhere near here, especially coming off an absence just a few days shy of a year (Valentines Day 2020 was his last run). Perhaps a change of jockey for the first time might work? I doubt it, but let's wait and see.

*

From a field that has only won 7.6% of 131 previous outings (10/131), but has made the frame on 47 occasions (38.9%), I expect we'll learn far more from the place element of Instant Expert than we will from the win side of things...

From the place perspective, it's good to see four horses with some heavy ground form and Crown Hill/Jungle Prose are the standouts on the place graphic with honourable mentions going to Get An Oscar and Tzar de l'Elfe, but only Crown Hill emerges from the win side of things with any real credit.

From a pace perspective, mid-division runners tend to win more than other running styles with horses racing prominently filling the frame. Based on how these horses have run in the past, here's how we expect them to break out...

Summary

To be honest, this race has proved tougher to work out than I thought/hoped it would, but here goes.

Alphabetically, I definitely don't like Abbey Street, Lugg River, Robsam, Tzar de l'Elfe and Woulduadamandevit for reasons that should be fairly obvious from my write-ups. This removes half of the field and I now need to get rid of two more so that I've got my three against the field as I like to do.

Conversely, I do like Call Off the Dogs and Crown Hill, so I suppose that takes me to a 1 from 3 position for my final pick and I think that based on the evidence I've presented above that I'd have to plump for Black Centaur marginally ahead of Jungle Prose.

Of the two I liked most, I think it might be tight, but I'm going to side with the old boy Crown Hill who currently trades at 11/2. Call Off The Dogs is up in trip, weight and class, so seems riskier to me.

Lots of names bandied about, so for clarity, I'm calling it as Crown Hill - Call Off The Dogs - Black Centaur.

Racing Insights, 25th January 2021

Although I ended up with no bet on Saturday after Sam Brown became a non-runner, I was pretty pleased with the way the two races panned out from my preview. I'd identified Royale Pagaille as the best horse in Sam Brown's race and he duly prevailed by 16 lengths at 11/5.

The second race included Le Coeur Net, who wasn't in my top three for the race and it was my top three that filled the places with the trifecta paying an excellent 293/1, well done to those who took the punt : sadly I didn't.

And now to Monday, where we offer the PACE tab to ALL users for ALL races, including our "races of the day", which are...

  • 4.20 Plumpton
  • 6.45 Kempton
  • 8.15 Kempton

...and it's the first of that trio, the 4.20 Plumpton, that I'll look at today. It's a 12-runner, Class 5, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m½f on Soft ground with a top prize of £2,989. We start, as ever with the racecard itself...

...where the three clear "form horses" are Mr Jack (who won LTO), Darkest Day (runner-up LTO) and Sawpit Sienna, who not only tops the Geegeez Ratings, but also has a win and a runner-up finish in her last two outings.

We've got five class droppers here, in the shape of Nelson's Touch, Mr Jack, Air Hair Lair, Hymn and a Prayer and the Imposter, whilst the afore-mentioned Mr Jack, along with Magen's Moon are both previous winners over course and distance.

From a trainer form perspective, both Darkest Day and Air Hair Lair hail from yards with good records at this track (C5), whilst Nigel Hawke (The Imposter) is without a winner in 23 races since Boxing Day with very few going on to make the frame either. The most positive jockey booking seems to be Joshua Moore aboard Air Hair Lair as he's in good recent form (14 30) and has regularly ridden well here in the past (C1 C5), Bryony Frost (Hymn and a Prayer) also rides this track well, as does Sawpit Sienna's Robert Dunne, although he's currently on a 30-race losing run over the past three weeks.

This field of twelve have just 10 wins from 195 previous outings (5.13% SR), but have made the frame on 44 occasions (22.56%), so I'm going to guess that the place element of Instant Expert will tell us far more than the win element could...

Yes, the place element certainly gives us more than the win element, but on the win graphic Magen's Moon is the most interesting, but the the second image suggests we focus on the top half of the card with the exception of Sawpit Sienna taking the place of Military Dress. Air Hair Lair and Hymn and a Prayer are both moderately interesting, but I see my top three coming from runners 1-5 plus number 7 right now. Perhaps pace/race tactics will alter/shape my thoughts?

The stats would suggest that the further back you are off the pace, the less likely you are to win a contest like this and although the pace graphic doesn't really highlight any natural leaders over their last three races (I set it at three, because The Imposter only has three qualifying runs), it does look like Sawpit Sienna and/or Queen Among Kings might be the ones most likely to take it on and if we look at just the last two outings for these horses , which would also be Sawpit Sienna's best two runs, we get...

Harry The Norseman doesn't actually run here, so the suggestion is that Sawpit & Queens are the most likely pace-setters.

Queen Among Kings comes from the bottom half of the card and having failed to make the frame on any of her eight starts to date, I don't think today's going to be her day either and the three remaining from that final pace image are the three that I think will make the frame here, based on the racecard information, Instant Expert and Pace all combined.

Mr Jack was a winner here over course and distance last time out 22 days ago when overcoming a 14-month absence to win on his yard debut for Zoe Davison, who very sadly passed away that same day after a long battle with cancer. Husband Andy Irvine is now in charge of operations and although the card will show a change of trainer, it's still very much the same as it was.

That win was Mr Jack's first after 13 previous unsuccessful attempts, although he did have 7 top four finishes, suggesting he was due a win. A drop in trip and a wind op would most likely have helped his cause that day. He's up 4lbs for the win, but drops in class here and the booking of 5lb claimer Niall Houlihan more than accounts for the extra weight. The race last time out sort of fell apart and suited him and having been 0/13 prior to that run, there has to be question marks about his ability to back it up, especially at the top end of the weights rather carrying next to nothing as he was last time.

Darkest Day was only beaten by three lengths over course and distance last time out, 12 days ago and although still a maiden after ten attempts, he has made the frame four times, including 3 from 7 on soft/heavy, 3/7 under today's jockey, 2/4 here at Plumpton and 2/2 over this trip. He's on a low/workable mark and although not an obvious pick to win, he should be there or thereabouts in a poor-looking field.

His trainer Gary Moore has a 16.9% strike rate with his jumpers this season and has won 15.9% of races here at Plumpton over the last 5 seasons.

Sawpit Sienna makes only her third start in a handicap and also her third run for current handlers, but having finished first and second in the previous two she's certainly in form. She returned from a 309-day absence to win by three lengths at Fakenham in a Class 5 over 2m4.5f on good ground and then was a runner-up at Wincanton a fortnight later. That was also at Class 5, but over 2m4f on soft ground having been raised 5lbs.

She ran perfectly well that day, but was headed at the last eventually going down by 3.5 lengths, so it is anticipated/hoped that a drop back in trip here will benefit her. She's also carrying 11lbs less than the other two on my shortlist, which could prove decisive, especially if the ground gets any worse.

Summary

I expected Mr Jack to be the favourite here, but Sawpit Sienna currently holds that title, She's best priced at 3/1 and I think that's a fair price and she's the one I prefer ahead of Mr Jack. The rest of the field doesn't hold much appeal to me, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see Darkest Day complete the 1-2-3.

If I was to look further down the market for a value pic as an E/W bet , then Nelson's Touch seems best suited from an ability to price ratio. He's more than capable based on past exploits although he's inconsistent and hasn't been seen in the best light recently. But then again, that'll explain why he's 18/1, I suppose. It'd be a tentative suggestion, though.

Racing Insights, 13th January 2021

We were right to swerve the shortlist runners today. The Fairyhouse race ended up a 3-runner affair and Sizing Pottsie was sent off as 4/9 fav! In fairness, he had the race won with an eight length lead approaching the last, but sadly fell and the race eventually went to the one I highlighted as the danger.

At Wetherby 10 minutes later, Domaine de L'Isle also failed to win but did complete, finishing fourth beaten by some 33 lengths with two of the three I liked more finishing in front of him. So, we'd no bets but breaking even was better than losing two points on this occasion.

Maybe, I'll have a bet on Wednesday after consulting the free-to-all Trainer Stats report or via the free racecards for...

  • 1.30 Plumpton
  • 2.10 Leicester
  • 3.10 Leicester
  • 3.40 Leicester

And it's to the Trainer Stats report that I'm turning today. As usual, I have fairly demanding criteria to narrow down a list of possible selections...

Which gives us two to look at, starting in the 2.40 Leicester...

This horse returned to action on 5th December after 266 days off the track to finish third of six at Wetherby in a Class 3, soft ground handicap hurdle over 2 miles. He was beaten by nine lengths after a mistake at the last slowed him down and the winner has since finished third in a similar contest despite being raised 10lbs for the win. Our runner has been eased a pound for that run/defeat and has had a wind operation for weeks ago.

He's a fairly useful if not brilliant hurdler, having made the frame three times from seven efforts, but winning just once. Based on the conditions faced today, he has the following records...

  • 0 wins and 2 places from 6 under jockey Brendan Powell
  • 2 wins from 3 in 8-11 runner fields
  • 1 win, 1 place from 3 on heavy
  • 0/1 at this trip, but has won at 2 miles
  • 0/3 at Class 3

He'll be hoping, however, to continue trainer Michael Scudamore's excellent recent record at this venue, despite sending hardly any runners here. Since the start of 2018, he has had just six runners here, but three wins and a place represents an excellent return, including of relevance today...

  • 3/5 in handicaps
  • 3/5 at odds of 10/1 and shorter
  • 2/3 with 6-8 yr olds
  • 1/3 from LTO placers
  • 0/3 at Class 3
  • 2/2 with males
  • 1/1 for Brendan Powell
  • 1/1 on heavy
  • 1/1 at 31-45 days rest
  • 1/1 in January
  • 0/1 over course and distance
  • 0/1 over hurdles

So, a bit of a mixed bag based on form and the stats of the horse/trainer, so I wouldn't completely discount his chances just yet. In similar contests to this one, it has paid to sit in mid-division during the race...

...and whilst his averaging positioning is slightly ahead of that point, he does sit in the middle trio of the overall pace map with four runners ahead of his group and four runners behind, so if they run to plan, he should end up mid-div after all...

That said, when he did win five starts ago on heavy ground, he set off quickly, made all and ended up 8 lengths clear. A revert to those tactics might not be a bad call here either.

*

And now to the 3.30 Plumpton...

This 7 yr old gelding failed to make the frame in three bumpers and six hurdles contests but was third on his chasing debut two starts ago, when beaten by just three lengths on this over 2 miles on soft ground at Hereford in late November. He clearly relished the larger obstacles in the mud and backed that run up with a good 5.5 lengths success just over a month ago when landing a 2m1.5f Class 5 race at Bangor. He still looked full of running at the finish and although we've only two runs to go on, a 6lb rise in weights might not inconvenience him too much.

Like Michael Scudamore's record at Leicester above, Eurkash's trainer, Paul Webber, is a successful if infrequent visitor to Plumpton and like Michael at Leicester, Paul has 3 winners and a place from 6 runners at this track since the start of 2018, including...

  • 3/5 in hcps, 2/5 with males, 2/4 in chases, 3/3 in fields of 7-11 runners
  • 2/3 after less than 5 weeks rest, 2/3 at 7/1 or shorter, 2/2 at Class 5
  • 1/2 on soft, 1/2 from LTO placers, 1/2 in January, 1/1 over C&D
  • 1/1 using jockey Gavin Sheehan and 1/1 with 7 yr olds

Quick note re: jockey Gavin Sheehan, he's another who doesn't come here too often, but is 7 from 20 (35% SR, A/E 1.87) over fences here since 2014, including 2 wins from 4 over course and distance. Plenty of promise from the above and whilst we don't have a great deal of pace data to hand for this type of contest...

...I'd say that a mid-division "pozzy" might well be the right approach here.

Summary

I had the Leicester runner, Thor de Cerisy as fourth, possibly fifth best in my own rankings and I didn't have him that far behind a top three berth, so he's certainly be of interest from an E/W perspective if we could get a decent enough price on him. He ran well last season and his last effort after a long lay-off was as good as could be expected of him. If the wind op has an immediate effect, then 10/1 seems more than fair for those of you fancying a small E/W flutter, as both When You're Ready and Oscar's Leader have more appeal from a win perspective.

Eurkash is the type I'd be all over at Plumpton, based on his two runs over fences, the stats that I've quoted and a 3/1 price tag, but for the presence of a near odds-on favourite in the shape of hat-trick seeking High Up In The Air. The fav drops in class and trip here and his 7lb hike in weight is offset by the booking of a 7lb claimer.

That's not to say that the fav is a given, he has won back to back races when making all and has done most of his running over longer distances. He'll have competition up top this time, the trip is sharper and his jockey has only won 2 of his last 45 over fences. I have the favourite down as best in the race, but I rate Eurkash a clear second. If you think that there's enough doubt around to swerve an even money (odds-on in places) fav, then the 3/1 Eurkash should be the one to profit.

Racing Insights, 16th November 2020

The start of a new week and the daily free feature is the Pace tab for all races, whilst our free full cards cover the following races...

  • 2.20 Plumpton
  • 2.45 Dundalk
  • 4.10 Wolverhampton
  • 4.40 Wolverhampton
  • 7.30 Kempton

As you know, races in extreme going conditions are always of interest, as are small-field races that might turn into tactical affairs. Throw in the possibility of a short priced favourite and you've got the perfect storm and thankfully for us, we get in the 2.20 Plumpton,  a 6-runner, Class 4, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m1f on heavy ground worth £4,289 to the winner.

Our card looks like this...

...which tells us that...

Le Coeur Net reappears for the first time in over nine months after a good season that unfortunately fizzled out post-Christmas. Trainer Anthony Honeyball is in good form, has a good record at the track and also does well with lower grade chasers in general, whilst jockey Ben Godfrey is riding really well having won two from five in the past week.

Wenceslaus ran well two starts ago, but was disappointing last time out and both yard and jockey are struggling for form. Horse also rated last on our ratings.

Court Duty looks like being a fairly short favourite and won well eight days ago, but jockey Richard Johnson has an unusually poor record at this track (0 from 38 since the start of 2016!)

Darling Alko is second on our ratings and makes his seasonal bow some 252 days after ending last season with three top three finishes from his only three efforts over fences. Very lightly raced so far but has shown an aptitude for soft ground. Jockey Max Kendrick is going well and should be good value for his 3lb claim.

Bad Boy Du Pouldu tops our ratings, comes here in great form and hails from a yard that has historically done well at this venue. From the cards alone, he's the standout for me, as opposed to the likely favourite.

Robin Des Mana looked like he needed the run last time out when well beaten (almost 70 lengths) at Fontwell four months ago. Will need serious improvement to be involved here, you'd have thought, based on the card data.

The next place I go, is Instant Expert, of course...

...which shows that three of the six have won on heavy ground previously, whilst Wenceslaus has a particularly good record at this venue. All six are running off higher marks than their last win and although Robin Des Mana has a win at this trip to his name, a 1 in 7 record is actually a negative to me, as his is record on heavy ground for the same reason. 0 from 5 on heavy is also another red mark against the potential fav, Court Duty.

And as the Pace tab is Monday's free feature, we really should take a look at that and see if it offers us any pointers...

Darling Alko looks well positioned there to try and make all from the front, but the reports from his past races are littered with the word "weakened", suggesting that although his usual tactics often work here at Plumpton, they don't actually work for him! This then, of course, sets him up as a sitting target for the ones in behind him and judging from that pace map, they'll probably all be fairly close together. For what it's worth, I wouldn't be putting money on him holding out, especially coming off a break of over eight months!

So, Darling Alko isn't for me here, nor is Le Coeur Net. He has obvious ability, but ended last season poorly yet has been offered little/no respite from the handicapper. I'm certain that LCN will win races this season and he could well win this one, but I can't back him first time up after the way he ended the previous campaign. The remaining four have all had at least one run this season and three of them have put at least one decent effort in, the exception being Robin Des Mana, who I think is the worst horse in the contest, so he's out too!

And now we're down to three...Bad Boy Du Pouldu, Court Duty and Wenceslas.

Bad Boy Du Pouldu has been beaten on both efforts on heavy ground, but stamina shouldn't be his undoing having won at both 2m1.5f and 2m2f, he also has a couple of Class 4 wins under his belt and his trainer Gary Moore is 23 from 95 (24.2% SR) since the start of 2014 with chasers sent off at 7/1 and shorter here at Plumpton.

Court Duty won well last time out at Ffos Las, but he's up 7lbs for that win, hasn't had long to rest and his jockey hasn't won at this track for years. The horse himself is 0 from 5 on heavy ground and hasn't looked like winning, losing by a combined 144 lengths in those five efforts. On the plus side, he's a far better chaser than he was at NHF/hurdling (3/13 vs 1/12), stays half a mile further than this and has won at a higher grade.

The last of our trio is Wenceslaus, who flopped somewhat fifteen days ago, but had run really well on his seasonal bow four weeks earlier. Perhaps the first run had taken too much out of him and he needed a bit longer to recover. Showed some promise last season when winning three of five over fences. He is three from four here at Plumpton including two from two over fences. One of those wins here was over 2m1.5f on heavy ground where he prevailed by the best part of ten lengths.

Summary

Of the three I've shortlisted, I like Bad Boy Du Pouldu the best. I'd not be having Court Duty as short as 7/4 early doors and I don't think there's too much between him and Wenceslaus.

With just six runners, we only get two places for an E/W or place only bet, but if that's the route you wanted to go, then Wenceslaus is currently 7/1 and if he's in the mood to run like he has done here in the past, that could be a good bet. I'd be leaving Court Duty alone as Bad Boy Du Pouldu is the one to beat in my book. Currently priced at 3/1, which seems pretty fair.