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Racing Insights, 31st October 2020

Matt standing in for Chris again. Friday's race went largely as anticipated, though the winner - flagged here yesterday - was a rotten price in the end! Lezardrieux made him battle and Lucky Lodge came home fourth, almost completing a trifecta from four horses in the summary (the other was sent off at 66/1 and ran like it).

We'll crack on with Saturday.

It's a terrific day of racing where the jumpers really come to the fore, and the awesome TJ Combo report is the free feature.

Meanwhile, the six free races are...

  • 12.32 Ayr
  • 14.40 Newmarket
  • 15.35 Down Royal
  • 15.40 Ascot
  • 15.50 Newmarket
  • 17.30 Wolverhampton

I've set up the Course 5 Year view on the TJ Combo report and, because there is so much good racing, I've gone with an ultra-demanding IV of 2, meaning a trainer/jockey pairing must win at least twice as often as the average at the tracks in question. That narrows things down to a workable number.

 

Let's take them in order, starting with the Nicky Richards/Brian Hughes combo and their 41% hit rate at Ayr in the last five years. Clicking on the row shows today's qualifier and clicking the little 'up arrow' to the left of the trainer name reveals the historical qualifiers:

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There are more qualifiers than I'm showing in the above, but we can clearly see that a lot of these winners have occurred recently: five from eight in 2020 alone. However, note that Castle Rushen was beaten in a bumper here in March. Having looked at the race I'd say he's a very good chance to win (duh) and his price is about right. About right is not a value proposition to me, so I'll let him go.

Next is the hot Bailey/Bass team, who combine for two runners at Wetherby. Vinndication is a classy chap but he's in deep tomorrow, against Cyrname and co, and - again - his price is tight enough; in fact, it's a bit on the skinny side for my tastes.

But their other runner, Hes No Trouble, has a case to be made for him beyond the TJ Combo angle.

Below I've highlighted my Report Angles (the red '3' and accompany trio of rows) and QT Angle (the blue '1' and accompanying row). These tell me that Bailey/Bass are in great recent form as well as having great long-term course form; and I also note that Bailey is one of my trainers to mark up with runners on their first start after a wind op (see the W1 by the horse's name).

Also note the t1 - first time tongue tie - which implies this fellow has been struggling quite badly with his breathing.

Looking at his form, it might also be he's been struggling with distance and ground: after a win on a similarly flat track over a similar trip on similar ground and off a similar mark he was then beaten over half a mile further, on softer ground and in higher grade.

This is still a Class 3 race but he gets a shorter distance and faster turf; and of course he gets the wind tweaks. There's enough there to make 10/1 look big enough for all that it's a competitive race with plenty of other (shorter priced) options.

And I was able to make a value case for the McCain/Hughes partnership's Ayr runner, Goobinator, too.

This time it is because, rightly or wrongly, I want to be against 5/2 ish second choice, Calva D'Auge. The form of that one's wins has worked out terribly (note the 'Then What?' section on the right hand side) - the only winner from 39 subsequent starters from the Wincanton victory was... himself next time out; and there have been no winners from 19 from that Plumpton run since.

Of course,  it's a new season and Calva has a heavy ground score but he's making the market for me.

Similar to Bailey and Bass, Goobinator represents strong recent TJ form as well as longer term TJ track form, as can be seen from my Report Angles in the image below.

Their other runner goes in the 'newcomers' bumper, in which - as the name suggests - none of the field has run before. Not for me, thanks.

And the final contender from my strict TJ Combo shortlist is the Mark Johnston/PJ McDonald pairing at Newmarket. They saddle Reams Of Love, a nursery handicap debutant in a field full of unexposed types. We can see that both trainer and jockey have a great track record, together and individually: that's perhaps because Newmarket favours front-runners and most of Johnston's are ridden from the front.

Although it's far from assured, with so many yet to established a pattern to their preferred run style, what we do know is that the Johnston horse has led in both starts to date. He'll make a bold bid under a jockey that rides the course very well.

Summary

Even deploying a seriously demanding Impact Value parameter of 2 on the Trainer Jockey Combo report, I still get plenty with which to work. A number of these look degrees of interesting at the prices. I will be backing Hes No Trouble for small stakes each way at around 11/1, and may have a small win bet on Reams Of Love, too, the 13/2 in a place (BOG if you can get it with 365) feeling like a sliver on the generous side (and, in this case, it really is no more than a feeling).

Racing Insights, 30th October 2020

Chris highlighted the chance of Fanzio, a 7/1 winner available at a good bit bigger early, from three interesting runners on Wednesday; and with that he's taken himself off for a couple of days leaving me (Matt) to share a few thoughts in his absence.

Friday's racing is interesting, if tricky, and Horses For Courses report is the free feature. The six free races are...

  • 12.40 Down Royal
  • 12.50 Uttoxeter
  • 1.15 Down Royal
  • 3.30 Newmarket
  • 4.20 Uttoxeter
  • 5.30 Dundalk

There are a few 'hardy perennial' types on the H4C report...

 

...but, in spite of that, I'm heading to the last race of the day, the 8.15 Newcastle.

It's a six furlong Class 5 apprentice handicap down the straight track at Gosforth Park, where the going should be standard: the course was decompacted last week, making it ride slower, but there's been racing and rain since then, both of which help to tighten it up. According to the BHA site, the forecast is for a stiff westerly so, with the straight course running southeast to northwest - see image to the right - it'll be quite testing.

A full field of 14 are scheduled to leave the gate, and they are these:

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Let's start with the Report Angles, where both Lucky Lodge and Cloudea are worth a second glance. Lucky Lodge's angles come from the trainer / jockey partnership of Alan Brittain and Harry Russell, all of whose success has come in the past year. We can see that both handler and pilot have good records separately as well.

Messrs Fahey and Murtagh are also of interest when combining here. Jockey Connor Murtagh actually has a 4/26 record at the track (see below), and it is his handicap record that is highlighted in the angle above (16 runs, 3 wins) - the label should say that!

I Know How also has a couple of pointers towards its chance:

 

Next stop is Instant Expert, where the cases for Burrows Seeside and especially Lezardrieux are well advertised. Both are short enough in the betting; both for good reason. Neither Cloudea nor Look Out Louis has any form against the Instant Expert criteria in the last two years.

I Know How, who hasn't won in a full field (but has run well twice), has an otherwise decent profile; and Lucky Lodge also falls in here fairly consistently.

The pace setup might be instructive, especially considering that forecast head/crosswind. Historically, those who led have performed best though a win rate of around one-in-nine - albeit in 13-14 runner fields - is going to be a long time between drinks.

Lezardrieux figures to race on the stands' side and might get cover if anything goes forward far side; but, realistically, he'll be racing into the breeze. It might not stop him but it's something to be aware of, especially if the earlier races are favouring horses covered up. Burrows Seeside is likely to get plenty of cover with a middle draw and a later run style.

Reviewing Draw Analyser for the last two years suggests middle berths are slightly favoured but there's very little in it:

 

Summary

Pulling all of these strands together, nothing stands out as having an especially strong chance above all others. That said, I'm still attracted to Lezardrieux in spite of concerns about being out front in the teeth of the hooley: I'll be watching earlier races to see if horses are getting home off the lead before deciding to bet.

Lucky Lodge may get the worst of it on that far side with a prominent racing style, though of course there's always the chance that I'm massively over-stating the effect of the wind!

Cloudea is vaguely interesting in a throwaway sort of way. She won a moderate maiden last summer and hasn't been beaten far in three subsequent starts. Down in grade, this is her third start off a layoff and a penny play at 20/1+ might reward ambition.

But BURROWS SEESIDE may be the one. He looks likely to get the run of the race, was course and distance winner on his handicap debut last time - by more than three lengths, and has more progression than most of these after just four lifetime starts. He was still 5/1 with 888sport at time of publication, though shortening everywhere else.

A good few others with chances in an interesting race where the wind may be a key factor, or no factor at all!

Racing Insights, 29th October 2020

Wednesday was another good day for trainer Neil Mulholland at Fakenham with a 10/1 winner and a fourth place (Sky amongst others paid four places) from his two runners. I'm pleased to have highlighted that he'd two chances, but I have to admit to getting them the wrong way round.

Next up is Thursday, where Instant Expert is the free feature and our free races are...

  • 3.15 Lingfield
  • 3.20 Clonmel
  • 3.45 Lingfield
  • 3.50 Clonmel
  • 3.58 Newton Abbot
  • 7.45 Southwell

...and I've decided to take a look at three horses who stand out on our Shortlist report...

...and therefore by definition also score well on Instant Expert, starting with Fanzio in the 2.06 Stratford, an 11-runner, Class 3, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m3½f on Soft (Gd to Soft in places) ground. The winner will get £7,018 and Instant Expert tells us this...

He has won four races from fourteen so far, including 4 from 12 under today's jockey, 3 from 9 going left handed, 3 from 7 when not wearing his hood, 2 from 5 on Good to Soft, 2 from 5 with a tongue tie and 2 from 2 at 2m3½f - 2m4f.

He was a winner at this grade over 2m4f on good to soft at Uttoxeter two starts ago off a mark of 122, but struggled next/last time out off today's mark of 127, but in his defence he was upped in trip to 2m6f and good ground is probably too quick for him. Conditions are more in his favour today, although he is still 5lbs higher than that last win.

He likes to race prominently and that's a tactic that works well in this type of race and he's one of the ones likeliest to set the fractions here, as shown by the pace tab...

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...he's unlikely to have it all his own way, of course, but if he gets out and stays out and runs like I know he can under these conditions, he could go well again.

The next of our trio of possibles, Oh This Is Us goes in the 2.15 Lingfield, a 9-runner, Class 2, A/W handicap Handicap for 3yo+ over 7f on Polytrack worth a useful £11,972 to the winner and where this is the view from Instant Expert... 

Plenty of green once again and whilst the distance tab is amber, 6 wins and 4 places from 21 efforts over 7f isn't bad at all, effectively putting him one win away from a whole bank of green and if you add in a 2 from 2 record at 7.5f, he then has a 34.8% strike rate at 7/7.5f.

Overall, he is 13 from 57 and that includes 10 from 22 when sent off in the 13/8 to 6/1 range suggesting the market will be a good barometer for us and he's 9 from 24 going left handed, 4 from 13 on A/W, 4 from 8 on Poly, 3 from 4 carrying 9st 10lbs and has won teo Listed contests, so this shouldn't be beyond him.

He comes here off the back of another Class 2 A/W hcp success on Polytrack (Chelmsford, 39 days ago) and he's up 4lbs to a mark of 105 for that success, but he did actually win here at Lingfield over a mile last year off a mark of 113.

Stalls 5 to 9 look like the best place to be in a 9-runner, 7f contest here and it pays to lead. We've a good draw in 7, but mid-division is his running style and that might not be a negative as such, because the pace heat map...

...suggests nobody wants to lead and it might become a falsely run contest. What pace there is, should all be on the inside fo him, so he should be able to see where he needs to be, if nothing else. He is usually ridden by Tom Marquand or Pat Dobbs, but Ryan Moore (no slouch) takes the ride today and that, too, isn't a negative if you consider that the Geegeez Query Tool tells me that...

...which gives rise to some optimism. Our third and final horse under the microscope takes us back to Stratford for the 1.06 race, where Earth Moor will contest a a tricky looking 7-runner Class 4 Beginners Chase over 2m5f for 4yo+ on Soft (Gd to Soft in places) ground in a bid to win £4,289. Once again, we head straight to Instant Expert, which shows us...

He was a progressive type up to his last outing in March. It took him four bumpers to get off the mark but then won three from five over hurdles plus a runner-up finish.  Of those five runs, he had two wins and a runner-up finish at Class 3 with a 1 from 1 record at this Class 4 level, he was 3 from 3 under today's jockey Richard Johnson and he finished 121 in three soft ground runs.

He's trainer Philip Hobbs' only runner at this meeting and since 2015, when sending just one runner to a meeting, he is 69 from 254 (27.2%) when calling on Richard Johnson to ride, including 6 from 18 (33.3%) here at Stratford.

As for this type of contest, it pays to be up with the pace, but it all looks pretty even to me...

...which might mean it comes down to tactical nous and Tricky Dicky has plenty in his locker, you'd hope. For his own part, the horse is used to wining and did it quite comfortably when last seen. Clear from a good way out, he stayed on well to win by 6.5 lengths and the runner-up reappeared three weeks ago to win a Class 2 contest at Fontwell, whilst the 7th placed horse (40 lengths back) has also won since at Ffos Las on their predictably testing ground.

Summary

Surprisingly for this column, all three horses assessed have real chances here. from a win perspective, Oh This Is Us must be the best chance and 9/2 or even 5/1 as currently available looks fair. The other two runners will need to go well to make the frame, but there's no reason for that not to happen.

Fanzio is currently priced at 12/1 and I was rather hoping he'd be available at 16's or bigger, so I'm going to leave him alone, despite his obvious chances of a place. My odds requirements are because he's on a high mark and the presence of Templehills might stop him from bossing the race early on. Still has chances, but not for me at 12's.

Earth Moor is a tricky one, as he could win, but I doubt that would happen and a 7-runner field means we only get two places for an E/W bet. He makes a chasing debut after an absence of 238 days and he might be too rusty on a day where he's going to have to jump really well. I had him at 3rd or 4th best here and expecting around 6/1 about him, so was surprised to see him available at 8/1 with Bet365, which could offer some value. Not a likely winner, but could grab second if things fall his way.

Racing Insights, 27th October 2020

Sometimes, things just come together and today was one of those days at Redcar. We highlighted the 10/3 winner at 5/1 and the 5/1 runner-up E/W as a 12/1 E/W pick and I know some of you jumped on the forecast that paid out at 18.5/1, but much bigger last night at Bet365's BOG prices, I'd assume.

The favourite ran well enough but was fairly soundly beaten as I’d hoped and Striding Edge did indeed come home stone last again. All of which is excellent news for us, but is already history. We've no time to dwell as we look forward to Tuesday, where Feature of the Day is the Shortlist report  and the free races are as follows...

  • 1.30 Bangor
  • 2.10 Catterick
  • 3.40 Bangor
  • 4.00 Chepstow

And at the risk of it becoming a samey/repetitive, I'm going to do another race preview of one of our featured races, the 2.10 Catterick, which actually looks like a tricky little contest that could develop into a really good race, as all six could well win it based on my initial brief glance at the cards, so let's take a closer look at this 6- runner, Class 4 Flat handicap for 3yo+ over 7f on soft ground, where the winner will receive £5,208 for their efforts.

As ever, we start with what we already have available ie the racecard and I've sorted it into speed rating order again for you...

There's not a great deal separating the first four listed on the speed ratings, so they're initially the ones of interest to us, whilst Grace and Virtue stands out from the green icons highlighting the yard's past success at this venue.

As today's free report is the Shortlist, we'll next consider the more detailed version of it that we all know as Instant Expert, firstly by place...

...where we have plenty of green with four runners having 50% or better placing on soft ground, whilst Byron's Choice has a really return over 7f, although as seen below, he's in the frame more than the winners' enclosure...

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...again lots of green, but from small sample sizes, but the above tells me that Grace and Virtue is the one most proven on soft ground. The going is often a major factor in these small field potentially-tactical affair, where the draw is key. History tells us that in this kind of contest you want to be drawn centrally in box 3 or 4 as below...

...which could be good news for Lord Oberon and I Am A Dreamer, whilst the pace draw heat map suggests that being drawn middle to high alone isn't enough, you also need to race prominently or even lead...

...which when we overlay today's runners...

...says that Lord Oberon does indeed have the best draw for his usual running style, whilst only Ey Up It's Mick seems to be in a poor spot. However, at this point, I'm still not at a point where I've got a pick, nor am I discounting any of them just yet, so let's look at each of them in turn...

Byron's Choice : is a reasonable 4 from 21 on the Flat including 3 from 10 at 7f and 2 from 5 under jockey Callum Rodriguez. he's a former Class 3 winner and won on his only previous visit to Catterick when landing the spoils over course and distance back in June 2018.

He went on to win again two weeks later, but hasn't since won in 13 attempts over 27 months and hasn't won on Soft ground either, but show signs of a return to form when third at Ayr last time out, beaten by less than a length off today's mark.

Ey Up It's Mick : is a really consistent sort having made the frame in 9 of his last 13 outings, winning three of them, but has no win in his last six races since landing a Class 5, 6f contest on Good to Soft off a mark of 67 back in July. He was third of 13 last time out, 3.5 lengths off the pace here over course and distance ten days ago off today's career high mark of 73.

All three career wins have been at a lower grade than this, but he has won over this trip, likes the soft ground (2 wins) and has 2 wins and a place from four under today's jockey, Kevin Stott.

Grace And Virtue : Scores well on the data above and comes here in the best form of all six runners, with three wins and two runner-up finishes from her last six starts. She's 3 from 6 on turf, all under today's jockey Tony Hamilton, finishing 2141 over this 7f trip and 2 from 2 on soft ground and she receives a 2lb allowance here.

So, a surefire odds on jolly, then? Probably not, although she'll be popular, it's not all great news. All her best form is at Class 5, her worst run on turf came at this level and she's up 7lbs to a career-high 77 after winning last time out.

I Am A Dreamer : This 4 yr old carries the burden of top weight and on form of 706834 looks bang out of it, but all those six runs were at Class 2 immediately after winning in this grade seven races ago. He's only two pounds higher than that last win and he's 1 from 1 over course and distance via a soft ground, Class 4 success last autumn. And if he runs to the same level as his last two efforts at Class 2, he'll be in the mix here.

Lord Oberon : Also featured prominently in the data stack above and looks well drawn for his running style. Down in weight and class for this run, having ran at Classes 2 & 3 for his last 13 outings without too much joy since winning a Class 2 contest over this trip on soft ground almost a year ago. I do like him from the data profiling above, but form is a worry. I'd need him to be a nice price to tempt me.

In his favour however are a series of conditions that could help him back to some form, he has won on soft ground, he has two wins at trip, he's a former Class 2 winner, goes best without headgear/tongue tie, he's 2 from 4 going left handed and seems happiest with fewer rivals around him. All positives, but I'd still want a realistic price.

And finally, Praxeology : somewhat of a shock 50/1 runner-up when only beaten by two lengths here over course and distance last out under a 5lb claimer. He's up a pound for that run and with a different jockey on board, he's effectively 6lbs worse off. However, the jockey is Hollie Doyle who is (a) in continual good nick and (b) 10 from 47 (21.3%) on David Loughnane's horses since the start of 2019.

The horse himself has a win and a place from three soft ground runs and has won previously at both Class 2 & 3, but has failed to land any of his three races beyond 6f, so whether he does stay 7 is unclear.

Summary

I'm not entirely convinced that I've clarified anything here and it's still as muddy as it might well be underfoot for the race itself, but here's where I'm at. The favourite, Grace And Virtue isn't for me at sub-3/1, although she has every chance, whereas I did like Lord Oberon, but he's also looking like being dragged down towards the 10/3 and 3/1 price point, which I'm not really keen on either.

Praxeology and Ey Up Its Mick both ran well here over course and distance, finishing 1.5 lengths apart, but I think the latter is better off here.

And that leaves us with Byron's Choice and I Am A Dreamer. If the former runs like he did last time out (and it's a big if), then 5/1 might look quite generous, whilst the latter was my original preference early doors. Like Byron's Choice, we're looking for a reproduction of a past run  from I Am A Dreamer and again we're not guaranteed to get it, but again 9/2 might be a good price.

The verdict? The smart bet is no bet at all, it's too competitive, but it's an interesting contest so I might well have 0.5pts apiece on Byron's Choice and I Am A Dreamer.

Racing Insights, 26th October 2020

I liked Indian Pursuit's chances at 3/1 on Saturday and got some value with him going off at 9/4. As expected, Rocketeer set off quickly and our boy overhauled him as planned and all was going well until a 16/1 shot finished best of all, beating us by a neck. As for the second runner, Mr Wagyu, the cards and associated data said he was a no-hoper and so it proved as he finished 9th of 10 at 20/1.

Monday heralds the start of a new week for Racing Insights and the free feature of the day is access to the Pace tab for ALL races, whilst the free racecards cover...

  • 12.40 Redcar
  • 1.15 Redcar
  • 2.30 Galway
  • 3.10 Leicester
  • 3.55 Newcastle
  • 4.15 Galway

And the one I'm going to look at is the 1.15 Redcar, a 9-runner, Class 3, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ over a mile with the winner receiving £7763 and we start with the racecard sorted into Geegeez Speed rating order...

As you can see, Young Fire, Al Erayg and Stone Soldier head the rankings, whilst we should note the good recent form (14, 30) of James Fanshawe's runners (Turn on the Charm) and also jockey Ella McCain (Al Erayg) with her useful 7lb claim. Track-wise, trainer Mark Johnston (Striding Edge) looks to do well here (C5), whilst trainer James Given (Stone Soldier) and jockey Tony Hamilton (Memory Dream) haven't fared too well here of late (C5 and C1 respectively).

The draw data is fairly inconclusive with no real apparent bias on show for this type of contest, so no positives nor negatives here, as shown below...

...so with the draw alone not providing any clues and the pace tab being the free daily feature, we really should consider how the two marry together...

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...obviously we have no data for the UK debutant Memory Dream, but the heat map suggests Poet's Dawn will lead, but that's not usually a good tactic here. Not many seem to have the ideal pace/draw matchup, but Crownthorpe and Turn on the Charm seem to be best suited, whilst I wouldn't be too put off by the way Al Erayg, Striding Edge or Stone Soldier look either.

So, we've got some names being mentioned several times already, but not there's not enough in the above for me to make a decision, so let's have a look at each runner in turn to see if there's anything of note in their past performances, so in alphabetical order...

Al Erayg : Only 1 win in 25 on the Flat and that's not inspiring, but that win was here at Redcar over course and distance on soft ground, wearing cheekpieces and a tongue tie in a 16-runner handicap just two starts and 23 days ago.

Only beaten by 4 lengths in a soft ground Class 2 contest last time out and conditions will be very similar here today, as he takes a drop in class and the booking of an in-from (has won her last three) 7lb claimer is another positive.

Crownthorpe : At the end of last season, his figures said he had two wins and two places from five runs on soft ground, he had three wins at this trip and two wins at this grade.

Based on the above he'd be a real contender, but he has looked really out of sorts this campaign, making the frame just once in four attempts and although a drop in class should help him, it's hard to justify putting any money down.

Global Spirit : Has had a really good season with two wins and two places from seven starts, the latest being a career best effort to land a 16-runner affair on soft ground at York seventeen days ago.

He's up in both class and trip today and with a 5lb hike in weights on top of that, I'd say this should be beyond him from a win perspective at least, although he does go best under today's jockey, Ben Curtis, as they have 4 wins and 3 places from 10 races together.

Memory Dream : No UK form to discuss and a first start for trainer Ivan Furtado and hasn't had an outing for four months since finishing last of nine in a listed contest.

He was two from six in France, winning on soft and very soft over 7.5f, so conditions shouldn't be too far beyond him, but a mark of 97 looks excessive.

Poet's Dawn : Will probably attempt to win this from the front, a tactic that doesn't usually work in this type of race and although he did win a Class 3 handicap over 1m2f on soft ground at Ripon in August adopting the same tactics, he has been disappointing on two runs since off marks of 83 and 84.

Still rated 83, I think the handicapper has him held here and when you consider that he's 0/5 here at Redcar, 0/11 over a mile and 0/11 under today's jockey, you'd have to fancy others before him.

Stone Soldier : An A/W winner two starts ago, but is only 1/10 on the Flat and was well beaten last time out finishing 11 lengths behind the re-opposing Al Erayg over course and distance here.

He has won on soft ground previously and has also won under today's jockey. As Al Erayg is now ridden by a 7lb claimer, Stone Soldier is now even worse off at the weights, which means he's even less likely to overturn the 11 length deficit.

Striding Edge : Useful but inconsistent/unreliable type. Has won three times and placed twice from ten starts this season, but has finished 11th of 11, 13th of 13, 1st of 7 and 8th of 9 in his last four starts, which backs up the useful but unreliable tag.

In his defence, he is 1 from 1 at Class 3 on turf and has two wins and a place from four starts at this trip, but has never run on anything softer than good ground, is 0/3 under Franny Norton. He could win this at a big price, but is equally or more likely to come home stone last!

Turn On The Charm : Likely to be very popular, comes here in good form, has a top jockey on board and the Geegeez racecards suggest a good run.

Back to back wins (C4, 1m & C3, 8.5f) off marks of 77 and 82 send him here seeking a hat-trick, but he's raised another 6lbs here and has never encountered soft ground before. Major player if he handles the extra weight and the soft ground.

Young Fire : Speedy sort (top of our ratings) who was only beaten by less than four lengths over 6f in the Class 2 Ayr Gold Cup. Prior to that he had landed a Class 3 soft ground handicap at Haydock, whilst last time out, he was within three lengths of the winner in a Class 2 1m contest at York on soft.

This is a drop in both class and competitiveness and a similar effort to that York run would put him right in the mix here. He has two wins and place from five on soft ground and a similar record under today's jockey, but a 0/7 record at 7.5f-1m is an obvious black mark, as is the burden of top weight.

Summary

Turn on the Charm looks amongst the likely contenders here but at a price of 6/4 (Sunday 6.20pm), I can't back him : I can't see how the market rates him that much more likely to win than the others especially off such a high mark and on a soft ground debut.

So, the two I do like here are Al Arayg and Young Fire. Al Arayg looks long at 12/1 to me, based on what I've written above. I expected around 8/1 to 10/1, so he's a positive here, even from an E/W perspective.

Young Fire was 2.5 lengths ahead of him last time out and provided he doesn't leave his charge for the line too late, he should be a solid 5/1 pick here.

Racing Insights, 24th October 2020

Galvin was a worthy favourite at Cheltenham on Friday, with my two initial possibles finishing second and third. At an SP of 10/1, the runner-up would have been a great pick, but as you know, I ended up swerving the race. Nothing risked, nothing lost.

And now to my final piece of the week, where the feature of the day is the generally excellent Trainer / Jockey combo report, whilst our free races of the day are....

  • 2.47 Galway
  • 3.15 Cheltenham
  • 3.50 Cheltenham
  • 3.57 Galway
  • 5.07 Galway
  • 7.15 Chelmsford

...and I've decided to base today's piece on the Trainer / Jockey, Course 5 year stats from the following report...

Here, my win & place strike criteria are set at 25% & 50% respectively with A/E & IV at 1.25 and 1.50. I've chosen to look at the Quinn/Hart/Chelmsford combo, purely because they're the highest on the strike rate list with more than one runner for Saturday and I'll hope to assess each of their chances in turn, starting with Indian Pursuit in 5.15 Chelmsford, which I've sorted in Geegeez Speed Rating order...

...which tells us that our interest here sits at the top of those ratings and unsurprisingly, both trainer and jockey have the C1 and C5 icons by their names, instantly highlighting their course success.

Next up is Instant Expert...

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...which is actually largely inconclusive/uninspiring, but Indian Pursuit does at least have some amber in a sea of red.

Here at Chelmsford over 5f, pace positioning seems to have more bearing on the result than the draw, but you still wouldn't want to be left behind and a quick look at the Pace/Draw heatmap suggests...

...runners in stalls 2,3, 6, 7 & 10 seem most likely to race prominently with Rocketeer in #2 looking like trying to make all as he always does and invariably gets caught, hence a formline of 988626, which could leave the door open for Indian Pursuit, provided Rocketeer isn't allowed to get too far ahead, of course.

As for Indian Pursuit himself, he was a very creditable 5th here a fortnight over six furlongs on his first all-weather run for seventeen months and now with the benefit of having had that run he drops down to 5f off the same mark as LTO.

He's a former course winner, all eight career wins have been a 5-6f at Class 6, five of which have seen him ridden by Jason Hart. He has six wins in 8-11 runner contests, six wins going left handed and four in a visor which is reapplied here.

In what looks a pretty average race, Indian Pursuit's consistency might well be enough here.

But what of stablemate Mr Wagyu's chances an hour later in the 6.15 Chelmsford? Well to start, it's back to the racecard in speed rating order, the Instant Expert and the pace/draw details, as follows...

...ninth of fourteen doesn't initially fill me with confidence, but one set of data should never make or break a bet for you, so let's move on to IE, shall we?

Once again, Mr Wagyu doesn't really scream "back me!" here, does he and there are at least four on that report who would look  better option, so what about the pace/draw, where over the 6f trip here at Chelmsford, you don't want to be drawn centrally...

Sadly, our boy is drawn right in the middle and if he goes off quickly with Rock Sound and My Kinda Day doing the same either side of him, there's a worry those two will overhaul him late on.

As for past performances, he has no previous run on Polytrack, so that's a concern although Messrs Quinn & Hart did team with a winning Polytrack debutant here a fortnight ago. He has, however, won eight times on the Flat, all over this 6f trip including 6 in a visor, 4 under Jason Hart, 4 at Class 4 or better, 4 off marks in the 70's and twice this year.

All of the above show he has ability and the potential to go on and upset the odds to win here, but I do have that nagging doubt about him needing a run on a non-Tapeta A/W surface (he's also 0 from 2 on the Tapeta, having finished 11th of 11th and 4th of 13).

Summary

Messrs Quinn and Hart team up with two runners here, one with clearly better chances than the other. I do like Indian Pursuit's chances here and I'd be happy to back him at 3/1, which is probably just about the right price, I'd not want to be taking much less that that.

Mr Wagyu on the other hand is a strange one, the racecard and associated data suggest he's a bit of a no hoper, but with the obvious caveat of being inexperienced on the A/W, his career stats suggest he could do better than expected. He's currently priced at 12/1 and if you could get that kind of price or bigger from a bookie paying four places, then you might just have a squeak with a small E/W punt, if he takes to the surface, especially as many of his rivals are equally out of form.

Racing Insights, 23rd October 2020

Sod's Law was very much in force at Wolverhampton this afternoon, as my four-runner shortlist filled three of the four places offered by SkyBet amongst others. Sadly, the one I omitted from my final advice went on to win at 11/2. I was, however, pleased with Leodis Dream finishing fourth at 9/1, only a length and a half off the winner and backed at an advised 16/1.

As for the winner, I did say..."I thought HSB might have been a bit longer than that and although I might regret it, I'll give him a miss at 14's" and thus the law of Sod kicked in.

So, neither happy nor sad about that outcome, we move on to Friday, where the daily free feature is the Horses for Courses report and the free racecards cover...

  • 2.25 Cheltenham
  • 3.00 Cheltenham
  • 3.43 Sligo
  • 5.03 Doncaster
  • 8.00 Newcastle
  • 8.15 Dundalk

So, let's take a look at the first of our free races, the 2.25 Cheltenham (you know it's the jumps season when Chelts appears on the cards) : a 6-runner, Class 2 Novices Chase for 5yo+ over 3m on good ground, with the winner receiving a more than useful £12.5k. My initial feeling was that I liked Soldier of Love for this race with Clondaw Caitlin being a possible E/W punt at double digit odds (hopefully)

But when you already like two runners in a field of six, it pays to look closer at the race, because you might have missed something, so here goes...

Plenty of good recent form for jockeys and trainers (14, 30) and whilst we've only got six runners, their formlines are littered with wins. In fact, between them they have won 28 times in 71 efforts, a strike rate of almost 40%, so some good runners on show here.

Instant Expert for this race tells us that...

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...from a place perspective, all those who have raced on good ground have fared well enough, the top three especially so. Not much class/course achievement to discuss, whilst the four who have tackled this trip have managed to see it out successfully at least once with Doctor Duffy and Soldier of Love looking like proven stayers. I don't always set much too much stall out for field size, but a small number of runners hasn't proved a problem for these six in the past.

Sometimes, a Geegeez report will be inconclusive and I think the above doesn't really do much for us today, so let's consider the win element of the same report...

...where Soldier of Love's record at this trip is a standout piece of data here.

Now, many people think pace is mainly relevant to shorter trip Flat and A/W contests and surely wouldn't have much bearing on a 3m+ chase, but they'd actually be very wrong. The pace make-up of any race is important and in such contests here at HQ, you don't want to go off too quickly nor too slowly. You want to be "handy", shall we say? Anyway, as ever, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I''ll stop rambling...

Once again, Soldier of Love looks to have a positive pace make-up for this race, as does Clondaw Caitlin, but now let's take a closer look at the six runners individually...

Ask Dillon : Reasonable record over hurdles, including wins at 2m5.5f and 2m6f, whilst also making the frame in both starts at 2m7.5f. This is a bit further for him, but as all his hurdles form was on Good to Soft or softer, stamina shouldn't be an issue.

Fergal O'Brien's chasers sent at 14/1 and shorter are 7 from 29 (24.1% SR) here at Cheltenham since 2016, but this one has no win higher than Class 3 and has been off the track for over seven months, since being well beaten by 36 lengths here in March and carries joint top weight now.

Clondaw Caitlin : The only mare in the race, therefore receiving weight all round. A former bumper winner who was three from three over hurdles last season, including landing a Gr2 over 2m2f at Kelso back in February when taking the boys on for the first time.

Her breeding suggests she'll take to fences, but she has also been off the track for over seven months and steps up markedly in trip today, but trainer Ruth Jefferson has an 18% strike rate (18 from 100) with her runners stepping up in trip, of which LTO winners are 7 from 21.

Doctor Duffy : has already competed over fences seven times, winning twice and making the frame on three other occasions. Has finished 113F since adopting a visor and I'm happy to overlook that fall last time out, when he was bumped by a rival at the first fence. Prior to that (non)run, he had won a Gr2 at Ballinrobe followed by a third in a Gr1 at Listowel.

Galvin : Trainer Gordon Elliott has won this race twice (2010 & 2011) and will have high hopes about this one who was a runner-up at the festival here in March behind Imperial Aura.

A winner of three novice events in Ireland so far this season, including a Gr3 last time out early this month and will be expected to make bold bid of improving his yard's record of 7 wins from 34 (20.6%) in Class 2 chases here at Cheltenham since 2016.

Mossy Fen : First time over fences, but this son of super-sire Milan was 3 from 5 over hurdles, including landing a Gr2 at Warwick in January before finishing a creditable if fairly well beaten (23 lengths) firth behind Envoi Allen in the Ballymore at the festival here back in March.

He's inexperienced/unexposed depending on your viewpoint, he'll get the trip and had bundles of ability, but the lack of a chase run might undo him. Mind you, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has 17 from 71 (23.9%) record in October with first time chasers, including 13 from 51 (25.5%) in Novice contests.

Soldier of Love : trainer Paul Nicholls has won this contest four times in the past fourteen runnings and will have every chance of going five from fifteen with this seven year old gelding who has been a revelation since a wind op.

One win in seven pre-operation and a formline of F1111 since, with a fall at the last when leading at Kempton the only post-surgery blemish. The going/trip/field size will all suit him and he gets on great with jockey Harry Cobden and the only negative I have with him is that he has never raced at a higher level than Class 3.

Summary

I set about this race, because I had a gut feeling that I'd need to pick between an E/W bet on Clondaw Caitlin, a win bet on Soldier of Love or both, but now I'm really not so sure. You can actually make a good case for all six runners, whilst there are reasons for not backing any of the six.

This now looks like a really good contest and I'd expect it to be very competitive and as such, I'll not be placing a bet at all. This is perfectly fine with me and also with the ethos of Geegeez overall. If the analysis of a race doesn't make the decision any easier or any clearer, then I'm of the opinion, you leave it alone.

However, I might have highlighted something above that ticks an extra box for you and I certainly won't put you off having a bet, but I'll be sitting this one out with my feet up and a cold beer.

Racing Insights, 22nd October 2020

I highlighted Serenading as the pick of my four-runner shortlist for Wednesday's race with Dancing Feet in seciond. Serenading was withdrawn whilst the Watson/Doyle combo grabbed the win with Dancing Feet.

Thursday's free feature is the Instant Expert tab for all races, whilst the free racecards are for the following...

  • 12.35 Carlisle
  • 1.20 Navan
  • 2.15 Carlisle
  • 2.50 Carlisle
  • 3.40 Navan
  • 5.20 Navan

And with Instant Expert firmly in mind, I've decided to take a look at the 4.05 Wolverhampton : an 11-runner, Class 2, A/W Handicap for 3yo+ over 5f on Tapeta that's certainly worth winning at a prize of £11828.

We start with the racecard in Geegeez Speed rating order, where I've purposely hidden the odds, as I find they can have an unhealthy sway on our decision making process in the early stages...

Working on the assumption that green is good and red less so, Verne Castle (form and jockey track record), Top Breeze (form and trainer track record), Han Solo Berger (Trainer and Jockey both have good track records), Watchable (form and jockey/track) and El Guanache (form and jockey/track) are all positives early on, whilst Fizzy Feet, Embour and Verne Castle head the Speed Ratings.

Next in my process is a look at the Instant Expert (place) tab...

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At present I wouldn't get too hung up about the field size tab, but I am interested in any runner with any green anywhere else ie Ornate, Leodis Dream, Pistoleeto, Fizzy Feet, Embour, Benny and the Jets, Han Solo Berger and most particularly Top Breeze with a full line of green. Then I like to see how that translate to regular placers turning those runs into wins and the Instant Expert win tab tells us...

...that again Leodis Dream, Pistoletto, Fizzy Feet, Top Breeze and Benny and the Jets continue to score well, with Leodis Dream probably edging it here, especially with a such a good record over this minimum trip and as this is a 5f sprint, we really should consider pace & draw and the Geegeez heatmap, which suggests being on the front end and preferably not in the middle stalls (these are better just off the pace) would be the best place to be...

and when we add the horses and their recent styles, we get this suggested order of events...

...which also augurs very well for Leodis Dream, drawn against the fence and a confirmed front runner, whilst similar applies to Ornate but the draw hasn't been as kind there, but if Fizzy Feet and Verne Castle also crack on from just inside Ornate, that could well help the latter.

And whilst that's a full run through of what area on the card, I'd be looking at, I  could/should mention that several of these runners also feature on my own "stats checklist" for this race...

Wolv Trainer 16:05 Wolv Fizzy Feet
TapSprSire JC1 16:05 Wolv Han Solo Berger
GGZ SL Wolv Trainer 16:05:00 Wolv Leodis Dream
Wolv Trainer 16:05 Wolv Pistoletto
GGZ SL 16:05 Wolv Top Breeze
TJC1/5 16:05:00 Wolv Watchable

...which I'll briefly explain...

Fizzy Feet's trainer David Loughnane's Wolverhampton handicappers sent off at 3/1 to 14/1 are 29 from 143 (20.3%) at an A/E of .50 since the start of 2018 and he also trains Leodis Dream, who features on the Geegeez Shortlist, as does Top Breeze.

Han Solo Berger is by Lord Shanakill, an American sire, whose offspring are 5 from 20 (25%, A/E 1.81) in handicaps over 5f to 1m on Tapeta since the start of 2017, whilst his jockey Jack Mitchell is 35 from 137 (25.6%, A/E 1.39) in handicaps here over the same 2017-20 timeframe.

Pistoletto is trained by John Ryan who is 8 from 34 (23.5%, A/E 1.43) with Wolverhampton handicappers sent off at Evens to 12/1 since 2018, whilst Watchable represents the two Davids, O'Meara & Nolan who have combined for 10 winners from 18 (55.6%, A/E 2.64) here at Wolverhampton since 2017 at odds of 8/1 and shorter.

And after all of the above, I've got four horses on my shortlist, which (in alphabetical order) are Fizzy Feet, Han Solo Berger, Leodis Dream and Top Breeze.

Summary

It's at this point that I'd then look at the market to see whether I'd want to back any of my four possibles and the market suggests a two-horse race between Top breeze and Benny and the Jets. We can get 11/4 about Top Breeze and that's a fair price in my opinion about an in-form runner knocking on the door, so I'd be happy to have a couple of  quid on that.

If the market is right about it being a two-horse race, then the door is open for a decent-priced placer and Fizzy Feet, Han Solo Berger & Leodis Dream are currently quoted at 9/1, 14/1 and 16/1 respectively.

I thought HSB might have been a bit longer than that and although I might reget it, I'll give him a miss at 14's. But 9/1 about Fizzy Feet and particularly 16/1 about Leodis Dream look decent and I'd be happy to take both of those E/W.

It's rare that I'd back three in a race, I often don't back any after analysing it, but Leodis Dream has every chance of going well at a silly price if he gets out quickly and toughs it out, of course.

Racing Insights, 21st October 2020

Intrinsic Bond was indeed on the premises at Newcastle and ran well for a place, beaten by less than two lengths, whilst Skyace was a faller two from home over in Ireland without ever looking like winning, whereas Molly Shaw was disappointing, hanging right and weakening late on. She was too short for my liking anyway and I'm glad I swerved that one.

And now we turn our attentions to Wednesday, where the feature of the day is the wonderful (IMO at least) Trainer Statistics report and our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 1.50 Hereford
  • 3.20 Newmarket
  • 3.30 Gowran Park
  • 4.45 Hereford
  • 6.15 Kempton

What I'm going to focus on today is a separate race from the above, but one that has particular relevance to our feature of the day. I've chosen to look that the Trainer, 1 year course handicap figures with my parameters set at a 20% win strike rate and a 33% place strike rate from a minimum of 15 runs in the last year. As ever, my A/E is set at 1.25 and above, whilst my required IV is at 1.50 and above.

Feel free to set your own parameters of course, but I use these to get a decent amount to look at without having too much to consider. And here's the report...

As you've probably noticed, we have four possibles (Adelante, Dancing Feet, Rubia Bella and Serenading) in the 7.15 Kempton : an 8-runner, Class 4 Fillies Handicap for 3yo+ over 7f on Polytrack with the winner receiving £5,208 for their troubles. So let's go through the tools to see if we can form an opinion...

Racecard in Speed Rating Order :

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...where we have the top-rated, third, joint fourth and seventh ranked with Serenading standing out with quite a big margin, although she is now stepping up in class/weight.

Pace/Draw Heatmap in draw order : 

...suggests horses running in mid-division, preferably the middle of the stalls, tend to fare best. All four possibles seem to be drawn well for their running styles and the pace in the race looks to be in stalls 1-4, which might pull Rubia Bella along a little quicker than she'd like.

Instant Expert : 

Dancing Feet's previous A/W (and course) success is a positive here, whilst Serenading's 10lb hike for back to back wins is an obvious concern, especially as this is a far tougher contest than her previous races.

Now we'll take a brief, closer look at each of the four in alphabetical order, shall we?

Adelante : Trainer George Baker's 7 from 27 record here over the last 12 months is actually a little misleading as in the whole five years from 2015 to 2019 inclusive, his handicappers were only 4 from 59 (6.8%) here  including 2 from 22 at Class 4, 2 from 16 over 7f and 0 from 14 with female runners.

For her part, Adelante has lost her last eleven races and was was an 80/1 11th of 14 home here over course and distance, last time out a fortnight ago. One to avoid.

Dancing Feet : has a better profile than the runner above, but that's not hard really. An overall 2 from 4 (1 from 2 here) on the A/W is promising and she's from the formidable Archie Watson /Hollie Doyle team, which is 6 from 31 (19.4%) here overall, including 3 from 9 at Class 4, 3 from 17 with fillies and although they're 0 from 6 at 7f, they have won 4 of 15 at 6f.

She has won at both 6f and 7f on the A/W and has won under Hollie Doyle. Both career wins have come when not wearing cheekpieces (0/4 in them), but they're on again today, as they have been in all her handicap outings, including when beaten by 3.5 lengths in seventh behind the re-opposing Clinician last time out and she's on worse terms this time around. That alone suggests she'd not be our winner here today, irrespective of how she stacks up against the others.

Rubia Bella : is very lightly raced and therefore a little of an unknown quantity. A half-length runner-up on her sole start as a 2yr old (here at Kempton at Class 4 over 6f), she then won fairly comfortably on her seasonal reappearance over 6f at Wolverhampton, but was quite well beaten last time out when 6.5 lengths off the pace at this grade, track and trip two months ago.

She was 4.5 lengths behind Dancing Feet that day (she did have Adelante 3.25 lengths further back, mind), but she's 4lbs better off at the weights here, so should be closer, but the yard's 2 from 19 record over course and distance since 2015 is a worry.

And last, but my no means least, we have the form horse Serenading, who comes here on the back of four progressively better runs (3211), seeking a hat-trick after back to back wins at Newcastle over this distance, once at Class 6 and once at Class 5. On form/progression, I think there's more to come from her, but she's 0/4 going right handed, 0/2 here, 0/2 at Class 4 and runs off a mark 10lbs higher than last time out.

In her defence, she has finished 43211 with PJ McDonald on her back and he's 21 from 134 (15.7%) in handicaps here since 2016, including 6 from 34 (17.7%) at this trip.

Summary

If I was to put the four runners in an order that I think they might finish, then i'd go with Serenading, Dancing Feet, Rubia Bella and then Adelante, who I'd be surprised if she wasn't in the last two home.

I don't have much separating Dancing Feet and Rubia Bella and I don't expect either to make the frame, but Serenading is the standout of the four and although she'll face tough opposition from the two market principals, I think that at odds of 5/1 or bigger, she could well be worth a small punt. I see her as a 7/2 to 4/1 chance, so 5's could offer some value, win or lose.

Racing Insights, 20th October 2020

Very happy with the way Monday's race panned out. I initially eliminated four of the seven runners and my final three were the first three home. Had I been a bit braver, I'd be celebrating a 3/1 winner, but I'd wanted a bit more juice in the price.

So, with a moral victory of sorts behind us, let's move on to Tuesday, where the free feature is The Shortlist and the free racecards cover the following contests...

  • 12.25 Yarmouth
  • 12.55 Yarmouth
  • 2.15 Exeter
  • 2.40 Tipperary
  • 3.40 Fairyhouse
  • 4.20 Yarmouth

Of the six races above, only the Exeter one was of initial interest, but there's likely to be an odds-on favourite in there and the going is likely to see a few pull out, so I've decided to leave it alone and look at The Shortlist report to see if any of the runners featured might be worth sticking a quid (or more) on.

So, without further unnecessary ado...

A trio to consider with plenty of green to look at, so let's go in time order and start with Intrinsic Bond...

He has been in good form for some time now with 3 wins and 2 places from 7 runs over the last year (more on that shortly) and hails from a yard with three winners from seven (42.9%) so far this month and a decent record here at Newcastle including 7 winners from 33 (21.2%) this year, of which those racing over this course and distance are 3 from 7 (42.9%)

Next up, Instant Expert...

This is what gets him on the shortlist and over the last year, he has 3 wins and 2 places from 7 starts, including 3 wins and a place from 6 on a straight run, 3 wins and a place from 5 where the market deemed he had a chance, 3 wins and a place under Jason Hart, two wins and a place from four over 6f, two wins from three at Class 4, but just one placed effort in this grade and he won on his only previous visit to this track (over course and distance).

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He's drawn right out in 14 of 14, but that's not always a negative, as (a) there are no bends to contend with 9b) our pace/draw heat map suggests he could actually be in a decent spot out wide...

Overall, I'd expect him to be well suited to the task, but he's up 3lbs for a nice win on soft ground at Redcar last time out and also steps up in class. He handles the surface well enough and gets on great with today's jockey and his yard is in decent general form and also more long-term at this venue. Definite chance here.

And now to Skyace...

Trainer John Joseph Hanlon's runner here makes a second attempt at landing a handicap but the stats aren't good on that front, as the yard's stats with 2nd timers stands at just one win from the last 23 efforts, although that win was just 2 qualifiers ago. The hanlon runners are 4 from 15 (26.7%) here at Tipperary since the start of 2019, which is promising, but at 1/5 over hurdles, 0/5 in handicaps and 0/2 in handicap hurdles, the optimism does diminish.

But how might this one fare under today's conditions...

Well, he has two wins and a place from five efforts over hurdles, but after winning his first two, has struggled under weights of 11 stone-plus, toiling to a combined deficit of some 114 lengths in the three defeats since, but he's not on the shortlist for no reason, as his three placed finishes came in less valuable races like this one, he has won in a hood and did win here over course and distance.

In such races here at Tipperary, it has paid to remain in touch, but not race too prominently as shown below...

...but I feel a change of tactics would be needed here, as he has tended to race a bit more keenly of late and that's not going to be beneficial here.

Overall, he's out of sorts and represents a yard with a poor record with 2nd time handicappers and a poor record at this venue in this kind of race. He clearly has ability, but carries too much weight again here for my liking and I'm calling him as one to avoid.

Last up for today is Molly Shaw, who goes in one of our free races of the day, a 16-runner, Class 6, 6f  soft-ground "sprint", so you can see why I wasn't keen on a full race analysis of this one, but let's see if Molly Shaw might be in with a shout...

As the snippets show, the yard has done well here at Yarmouth over the past year, whilst Jack Mitchell has enjoyed plenty of success riding the Wall runners. Incidentally, on the trainer/jockey/course angle, the last five runners have finished 11152 including a win for today's runner back in August.

For her part, Molly is 113 in handicaps, all over a straight 6f strip including 2 from 2 at Class 6, 2 from 2 under Jack Mitchell and despite no run on soft ground, she did win her only attempt on good to soft ground.

Pace/draw-wise, it looks like wide-drawn prominent runners hold the key to success in this type of contest...

...and whilst Young John looks set to get out and make the pace, he's probably 20/1 for a reason and if our girl follows him, she could be expertly placed to pick up the pieces as the leader weakens late on, as reports from 5 of his last 6 outings suggest he will.

Summary

I've little/no interest in the Tipperary runner, there's not much in what I've seen that would make me believe he'll suddenly start winning again, but our other two runners have serious chances, but you'd want a price on them.

Both run in very competitive big-field contests and Intrinsic Bond is up in weight and class and is unproven at that level, whilst Molly Shaw has no form on soft ground at all. That doesn't mean she won't handle it, of course, but it's a big unknown. I expect both to give good accounts of themselves.

Both should be there or thereabouts and if she handles the ground Molly Shaw could be a nice pick at odds of 7/1 or hopefully better. Ideally I'd want at least 8's if not double digits, so you could then take a 4-place E/W run at her.

As for Intrinsic Bond, I do like him, but I'm not sure he's quite good enough at this level and he's already as low as 10/3 which is too short for my liking.

Racing Insights, 19th October 2020

Saturday's race went pretty much as I expected and we were only denied identifying the winner by a head, but that's history now, so we need to look forward to Monday, where our free feature is the pace tab for all races and our free racecards are for...

  • 1.30 Windsor
  • 2.50 Pontefract
  • 3.35 Gowran Park
  • 5.00 Wolverhampton
  • 7.00 Wolverhampton

I'm not a fan of going in relatively blind in maiden and/or novice auction contests, so that rules out Windsor, Gowran Park and the later Wolverhampton card and I'm going to focus on the 2.50 Pontefract, a competitive-looking Class 4 Handicap for 3yo+ over 1m2f on Soft ground with a £5.5k prize for the winner...

We start, as ever with the racecard...

...which gives us a supposed pecking order in terms of the Speed ratings and also tells us that Awake My Soul & Gold Souk come from yards with good records here at Pontefract (C5), whilst Ian Williams, trainer of Idilco has found winners hard to find of late (14).

One additional stat I would mention that jockey Ben Curtis & trainer Roger Fell are 5 from 18 (27.8% SR) when teaming up in handicaps here at Ponty over the last three seasons giving Cockalorum a positive.

Jockey-wise, Cockalorum, Gold Souk, Cruyff Turn and Viceregent are positives with their jockeys having ridden well here in the past (C1 and/or C5), whilst James Sullivan aboard Awake My Soul looks out of form and hasn't done too well here previously either.

If we then look at the Instant Expert tab, the win figures don't actually tell us too much...

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...but the place returns are a better indication of potential...

...where Bendalid would be of serious interest had he performed better on soft ground. Cockalorum and Awake My Soul have done well enough on soft ground, at Class 4 and at 1m2f, whilst the other "greens" are from pretty small sample sizes.

Monday is free pace tab day, so it would be remiss of me of not to take a look at that here to see if we get any pointers...

I switched the order to show how we think they might run based on previous efforts and it they run how we think, then Gold Souk looks well positioned provided he doesn't go off to quickly, whilst Bendalid might just need to push on a bit more than usual, as would Cruyff Turn.

Racecard data and tabs aside, what else do we know about these seven?

Cockalorum : Fifteen months and fourteen races have passed since he last won, but that was also another Class 4 soft ground handicap and he showed signs of a return to form last time out in a similar contest to todays.

He got going a bit late but was staying on well and a similar effort could put him in the mix here, as he has certainly shown that conditions will suit.

Bendalid : A six-time winner from trips ranging from 6 to 12 furlongs, but I believe he is best suited to 10/10.5f, so should be happy here and in fact only went down by a neck over course and distance two starts ago with both the winner and third placed horse having since gone very close at a higher level.

All that aside, he continues to creep up the weights and a lack of soft ground success is a concern.

Awake My Soul : Ticks a lot of boxes from an E/W perspective on Instant Expert, but at 11 yrs old with no win in 13 races over two years, it'd be hard to convincingly believe this could be the day. However, he was third in this race last season off a pound higher and wasn't disgraced as a runner-up last time out.

Gold Souk : Looks badly out of form which must be a worry for connections. He finished his 2yo season in fine form with results of 122 and not beaten by more than a length in either defeat, but this season has been a nightmare for him, beating just one rival across four races at a total combined losing distance of over 73 lengths. One to avoid.

Cruyff Turn : Hard to fully assess him on the basis of his five race career so far. He acquired a mark of 72 after three nondescript runs over glaringly inadequately (IMO) short trips, before setting off on a handicap campaign. A win was followed by a step up in trip to a mile last time out, where he was beaten by a couple of lengths staying on well.

Breeding (on his dam's side) suggests he still needs further than that mile, he's in good form in this grade and is fancied to go well again. The caveat? He is unproven on soft ground, but his yard are 6 from 30 (20% SR) over 9/10f on soft ground these last two seasons.

Idilco : Best (?) known as a hurdler who probably peaked when winning on debut two years ago. Just two non-NH runs to date finishing 12th of 12 beaten by 18 lengths over this trip at Newbury and then an improvement of sorts on the A/W at Kempton when 11th of 12 and "only" 16.5 lengths off the winner. A similar fate beckons : one to avoid.

Viceregent : Some decent efforts in a 7-week spell from mid-July to finish 231 on Good to Soft and Soft ground over 10.5/11 furlongs, but was well beaten by 12 lengths last time out, four weeks ago.

Now steps up a class and is 3lbs higher than his win, he's still of interest because stamina won't be an issue trip-wise and he does handle soft ground.

Summary

As expected, a competitive race. I really don't like Gold Souk and Idilco for this one, but that does still leave five in the mix. I can't bring myself to believe Awake My Soul will suddenly win and I'd be leaving Cruyff Turn out based on a lack of experience at trip and/or going. That's not to say he can't/won't win, but I can't back him. All of which leaves me with three.

Bendalid hasn't handled soft ground well enough for my liking and looks too high in the weights, Viceregent tends to find at least one too good for him and the step up in class could undo him, which leaves me with Cockalorum, almost by default.

I won't be having a bet here, because I'd probably want at least 4/1 about Cockalorum, but if we're disregarding odds, then he's the one that interests me the most.

Racing Insights, 17th October 2020

On Saturdays, the Trainer / Jockey Combo report is free to all users and it shows up plenty of successful partnerships for tomorrow's program. As ever, the selection parameters are my own for the 30-day form, but you can play around with it yourself. If you want fewer qualifiers, just make the criteria more stringent.

From an initial list of 13 trainers, I want to look at three for tomorrow and one simple reason, they've all got a runner in the 4.31 Market Rasen, but more on that in a moment. Firstly here are the relevant stats for the three highlighted trainers...

For the purpose of the piece, I'm going disregard Horizon Bleu (unraced bumpers aren't my bag!) and just focus on the three runners in our chosen race : the 4.31 Market Rasen, a well worth winning, valuable, 10-runner, Class 2 Handicap Chase for 4yo+ on good ground worth over £22.5k to the winner, as shown on the card below...

Taking our runners Mellow Ben, Beggar's Wishes and Court Master in racecard order, they are joint 4th, unrated and joint 4th on our Geegeez ratings, whilst the pace makeup of the race...

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...would tend to suggest that Court Master would fare best of our trio, whilst Instant Expert...

...also points towards Court Master, albeit from a small sample size. Now we probably need to take a closer look at our trio of hopefuls, again in racecard order, starting with...

Mellow Ben, whose trainer has the 14 and 30 icons by his name to signify good recent form, whilst jockey Tom Cannon has a good record at this track (C5), has won twice over fences, but was some ten lengths off the pace when finishing fifth last time out. That, however, was probably his best run since winning those races back to back last September/October.

Perhaps he's an autumn runner? He also has the benefit of being eased a couple of pounds to do his last winning mark and over fences he's 2 from 3 on Good ground and has a Class 2 win to his name. Sadly that's where the good news ends, as he's 0/6 beyond 2m5.5f. 0/3 going right handed, 0/3 as a 7 yr old, 0/2 here at Market Rasen (both over course and distance) and despite winning two 6-runner chases, he is 0 from 6 in fields any bigger than that.

Beggar's Wishes comes from the highly successful Bowen yard and jockey Sean is going well right now (14, 30), This horse has four chase wins to his name and on paper, his chasing record looks good including 4/10 under Sean Bowen, 3/8 in blinkers, 2/5 at Class 2, 3/4 at 2m5f to 2m6.5f, 2/4 on Good ground, 2/3 in October/November and 1 from 1 here at Market Rasen, over course and distance.

But, it's not quite all rosy in the garden, he last won a race just over two years ago, has struggled in five runs since and hasn't been seen on a racecourse for the small matter of 79 weeks. I've a feeling he might need the run, although he is now 7lbs lower than his last winning mark.

And finally, we come to Court Master, who our racecard details suggest might be the most likely. He comes here in good form, having won at Warwick sixteen days ago despite having been off the track for 250 days. Sometimes turning back out fairly quickly after a long lay-off can backfire but this time last year he won after a 248 day absence and then again 23 days later, so there is a precedent.

That recent win took his chasing tally to three from four (no disgrace in losing a Class 2 chase at the January Cheltenham meeting, is there?), he's certainly not over exposed nor over worked and receives weight all round here today. Of his 3 from 4 record over fences, he is 3 from 3 at odds of 8/1 and shorter, 3 from 3 without the tongue tie, 2 from 3 under Brendan Powell and 1 from 1 on Good ground. Not the biggest sample sizes, but all positive stuff.

Summary

We ran through our three possibles in racecard order, so I'll sum up the same way. I'd expect Mellow Ben to finish mid-division at best. There's clearly ability there, but he doesn't seem to "get" this track or trip and doesn't fare well going right handed. He doesn't seem to like too much company and is probably best left alone.

And if you're leaving him alone, you can put the bargepole away for Beggar's Wishes, as I'd be highly surprised to see him involved. He comes off a really long lay-off and wasn't running well before being out back in the shed. If he does go well, then the Bowens will really have pulled a rabbit from the hat.

Which all brings us to Court Master. The racecard and its tabs pointed to this one, my write-up of him was all positive and there's plenty to like about him. It's a pretty competitive contest, as you'd expect from a Class 2 race worth over £20k, but I expect him to be there or thereabouts. Yes, he's on a a career-high mark, but he still looks progressive and receives weight all round.

Of the three, it's Court Master for me. I'd be pretty surprised if he's not in the frame and I think he's every chance of winning here.

 

 

Racing Insights, 16th October 2020

On Fridays, the Horses for Courses report is free to all users, so let's take a look and see if there's anything of interest, shall we?

Obviously you can set your own parameters and the lower the required Win Strike Rate, then the more qualifiers you'll have, but I want to look at these with a record of 1 in 3 or better who have made the frame in at least half of their course appearances to see if they're likely to improve upon the figures shown.

I've merely arranged them in time order with no other reasoning and let's consider each in turn starting with Fact Flow...

On the plus side, this 11 yr old gelding has two wins and a place from six handicap chase efforts on this track, he has won twice in eight starts under today's jockey Robert Dunne and is two from seven in the lower prize funded Class 4 contests.

He is now running off a mark some 10lbs lower than his last win and despite this being a 17-runner contest, he did win a 16-runner affair here over 2m6.5f in 2018 and was placed third in his only previous effort over course and distance.

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However, he has no win in ten since scoring here over 2m4f back in November 2018 on good to soft ground and is 004 on soft. He has never won beyond 2m6.5f, has never won after more than four weeks rest and comes here having been soundly beaten by a combined 92 lengths in his last three contests.

Next up, we have Everyhouronthehour...

We've the bonus of an in-form (14) jockey with a good course record (C5) aboard this 4 yr old gelding who has finished 521419 in six starts here at Dundalk.

He recently won over a mile on turf at Gowran Park and ran a very good race as runner-up off today's mark at the Curragh, also over a mile when last seen almost three weeks ago.

In addition to that, he has finished 14191 when sent off shorter than 5/1, so the market seems to be a good judge of his chances, he has a win and a further place from three runs wearing a tongue tie and was a winner on the only previous occasion that Colin Keane was in the saddle (at Gowran two starts ago).

The downside is that he hasn't even made the frame when dropped into a 7f contest, finishing 059 with the last two of those coming here at Dundalk, but he does like to press on, so that might help here. He was a creditable second off today's mark of 62 last time out, but that's 5lbs higher than his previous highest winning mark.

And finally, we turn to Castle Quarter at Newcastle...

This 4yr old gelding is 13137 here at Newcastle, all over 7f and tries a mile here for the first time. He was only beaten by three lengths last time out when seventh here and has now been eased a couple of pounds in the weights.

He has won at this grade and is one from two under today's jockey David Nolan whose C1 icon signifies a good record on this track over the last year. It's interesting to see a return to cheekpieces after wearing blinkers for his last five runs, but he has run well with the 'pieces in place previously, finishing 183.

There is however a doubt that he doesn't "get" further than seven furlongs, having to failed to win any of his four attempts, but he does like this track and this might represent his best chance to win at a longer trip so far.

Summary

I personally feel that today has been a very worthwhile exercise in reinforcing the Geegeez message that you have to use stats as a starting point, but look beyond them before making a final decision.

On face value, the Horses for Courses report suggests we've three "live" chances for Friday, but my personal opinion is that you should leave all three alone : I'm certainly doing just that.

Fact Flow isn't getting any younger (I feel and share his pain) and probably won't have many more bites at the cherry, but if connections feel he's one more win in him, then the recent wind op will need to be a miracle worker. He's bang out of form and 33/1 for a reason. I'd expect him to finish nearer the back than the front.

Everyhouronthehour on the other hand is more than capable of winning, so why won't I back him? Well, taking 11/4 about him in a 14-horse contest doesn't float my boat from a value perspective, especially when ou consider he hasn't won at this shorter trip and is at a career-high mark. I think I'll pass, meaning he's likely to win!

And Castle Quarter is unproven beyond 7f and has only one win in ten at this grade. If there was such a thing or horse, he's a Class 5.5 runner or plain Class 6.  This is too much for him off this mark.

Racing Insights, 15th October 2020

Thursday's "free to all users" racecards are as follows...

  • 2.05 Curragh
  • 3.36 Carlisle
  • 5.35 Wincanton
  • 6.15 Southwell
  • 6.30 Chelmsford
  • 7.30 Chelmsford

...whilst free feature of the day is Instant Expert.

I'm going to focus on the latest of the free races for today's piece...

This is now a 9-runner contest where eight of them have won over today's 1m trip, six of them have won here at Chelmsford, four of them have won over course and distance, two of them are stepped up two classes and two others are moved up one grade.

Johan and Lord Neidin are the form horses with the former hailing from an in-form (30) yard. All of Pactolus, Home Before Dusk, Johan and Pinnata's yards have a good five-year record at this venue (C5), whilst of the jockeys, those on Assimilation and Lord Neidin look in best form (30 & 14 respectively) with both jockeys riding this track well (C1 & C5), as do the pilots of  Pactolus, Gallipoli and Auchterader, who heads the Speed ratings.

As today's free feature is Instant Expert, it would be rude not to have a look at it immediately after considering the Shortlist report which is often seen as "IE Light".

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Again Lord Neidin & Johan feature prominently, but the stand out here is Assimilation with a whole bank of green. Other highlights from the above table include War Glory's record at this track at 4 wins from 10, plus another 4 placed efforts for a place strike rate of 80%, whilst Pinnata has made the frame in 13 of 19 starts at this trip, winning six times.

Next up, we need to consider the draw, as in 9-runners contests here at Chelmsford, you ideally want to be drawn in the lowest third of the field, as this provides 43.6% of all the winners (24 of 55), so that's a tick in the box for Pactolus, Assimilation and Lord Neidin.

And then we need to see how running style is reflected in this type of race via the pace heatmap...

...which is actually more informative when you overlay it with the horse silks and the draw as follows...

...where Auchterarder looks easily best placed, despite coming from a wider draw than you'd initially think was ideal. Basically, you want to be drawn low and ridden just off the pace or held up completely, but from a middle draw, you've a good chance if you for it from the off. There's a distinct possibility that those drawn in 1,2 and 3 will shift towards prominent racing if Auchterarder looks like nicking a soft lead and if any of the three do follow him, it should enhance their chances.

And that's pretty much how I'd normally mentally whizz through a race to see if one or two names keep cropping up. The process is done far quicker than it has taken me to put it together visually and it's done far quicker than the time taken to read it, but it is a really quick and often very effective way of scanning for possible bets.

If you do this and nothing stands out, leave it and move on. If something does stand out, jot the name down on a daily shortlist of possibles and then move on.

Summary

Racecard positives : Assimilation, Aucterarder, Johan, Lord Neidin

Speed Rating Positives : Auchterarder, Home Before Dusk, Lord Neidin

Shortlist/Instant Expert positives : Assimilation, Johan, Lord Neidin

Draw Positives : Assimilation, Lord Neidin, Pactolus

Pace/Draw Positives : Assimilation, Aucterarder, Lord Neidin, Pactolus

Lord Neidin ticks all five boxes above with Asssimilation only falling down is the speed ratings, whilst Auchterarder would make up my potential three to consider.

It's then only at this point do I even take a first look at the market, as it's too easy to let the odds make your decisions for you. And I expected Lord Neidin to be the favourite, but not at 6/4. I expect he'll go on to win, but there's no value in him at 6/4 for my own risk/reward criteria, so I'd not be getting my money out there.

If I was pushed to place a bet, then Assimilation would be a relatively attractive E/W or place only proposition. If you agree with the way I process the card and you also think Lord Neidin wins, then the bet on Assimilation should be a place only, as not to waste the win side of the stake.

 

Racing Insights, 14th October 2020

Wednesday's free feature of the day is the Trainer Statistics report, one of my favourites as you'd probably guess, so let's head straight there and it's the Trainer + Course 5 year form that interests me today and I've highlighted Jedd O'Keeffe purely because he has more than one runner tomorrow, but doesn't have too many to look at in one article...

As you can see he's comfortably above all my parameters for number of qualifiers, win & place percentage, A/E and IV, plus as an added bonus he's profitable at Industry SP at a rate of more than 50p in the pound. Tomorrow he runs two Class 3 hurdlers over 2 and 3 miles respectively on Good to Soft ground (with more rain due), both to be ridden by regular jockey Joe Colliver.

Both have been off the track for around seven months, but both were in great form when lockdown arrived and will be seeking to pick up where they left off, but you'll see that for yourself shortly on the racecards.

I want to start by looking at Jedd's 8 from 32 record here at Wetherby, because it's very important to understand exactly what a stat represents and not everyone might be aware that Jedd is a dual purpose (ie Flat & NH) trainer and that Wetherby is a dual purpose track, so for the purpose of today's analysis, I want to disregard hie Flat and Bumper (NH Flat) runners at this track, leaving us with the following over the past 41 months...

Even better figures that the starting point with the ROI more than doubling and with respect to today's races, those 14 Wetherby jumpers are (and forgive me if I go a bit statty here)...

  • 5 from 13 (38.5%) under Joe Colliver
  • 5 from 12 (41.7%) from male runners (not ideal for Miah Grace admittedly)
  • 4 from 12 (33.3%) with the word soft in the going description
  • 3 from 12 (25%) over hurdles
  • 2 from 8 (25%) over a 2m trip & 1 from 2 (50%) over 3 miles
  • and 1 from 2 (50%) at Class 3
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Not huge sample sizes to hang your hat on, but the win % figures are promising and I now want to turn away from the query tool to look at the racecards, speed ratings, instant expert and the report suite for each race, starting with Mr Scrumpy as follows...

As you can see, Mr Scrumpy has two wins and a runner-up finish over the last year, he was a winner last time out at Newcastle in a Class 2 contest on Soft ground, having kicked off that sequence/season with a win here at Wetherby in early November in a 15-runner soft ground Class 3 affair. He'd been off the track for 201 days that time around, yet stayed on to win by four lengths, so a 214 day layoff doesn't concern me too much.

The reports back up the trainer statistic details and also show how well Jedd's horses get on with Joe Colliver on their backs generally and not just here at Wetherby.

The speed ratings for the race are as follows...

...and they too offer encouragement for those seeking to place a bet at a reasonable price. next up is the Instant Expert tab of the racecard and that doesn't really tell us very much...

...other than the first note of caution. Mr Scrumpy runs off 129 today, a career high and some 5lbs higher than his last run/win, so a best-ever performance is needed. That said, this is technically an easier race to win that either of last season's two successes and if in the right frame of mind first time up, 5lb might not be able to anchor him. After all, it's only a bag of spuds 😉

And now to the 5yr old mare, Miah Grace (reminds me a little of my 15 yr old daughter, Mia who herself is a bit of a mare sometimes but without the grace)...

...who like stablemate Mr Scrumpy was in fine form pre-lockdown, winning three times and placing twice from five efforts over hurdles under Joe Colliver. The runner-up finish was her only previous crack at the Wetherby hurdles, when beaten by just a length and a half over course and distance on soft ground. In fairness, that was a Class 2 contest and this should (on paper if nothing else) be an easier task.

Like the earlier race, the speed ratings show her in a favourable light...

...whilst Instant Expert again doesn't tell the whole story, but does point the way...

All her hurdling has been done on soft or worse ground at +/- half a furlong of today's trip under today's jockey, so she'll certainly be used to the conditions faced here, but like Mr Scrumpy, she also needs a career-best effort after being bumped up 9lbs for her last run/win of the previous campaign, so that might explain why she's twice the price of her stablemate.

Again, she's another who goes well after a break, her opening run/win last season came after six months off the track, so once again I'm not too peturbed about the lack of a run.

Summary

The stats point to good runs from both O'Keeffe hurdlers at Wetherby and I like the look of both. The only potential fly in the ointment has to be the increase in weight, but both horses have performed well in a higher grade suggesting they might be better than they'd need to be here. Clearly with a smaller hike in weight, Mr Scrumpy would seem to have a better chance, but at double digit odds, the mare might be a nice E/W flutter too.