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Racing Insights, 17th April 2021

I couldn't really have got Friday's race more wrong if I'd tried, but when two of the first three home were 33/1 and the trifecta paid over £5,300, I'm guessing not many people did call it right.

Saturday's feature of the day is the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report and our free races of the day are scheduled to be...

  • 12.25 Bangor
  • 1.40 Thirsk
  • 3.10 Curragh
  • 5.30 Brighton

Of our four feature races, only the first looks like not having a very short-priced favourite so today's focus falls upon the 12.25 Bangor, a 10-runner, Class 4 Handicap Chase for 5yo+ horses over 2m1½f on Good ground and one of the following will earn a prize of £3,594...

Swift Crusador sits second in the Geegeez ratings probably because he showed signs of a return to form last out when third in a higher grade over 2m4f at Wetherby. If truth be told, he'd struggled for a while before then and hasn't won a race since early December 2018. He might well be down in class and five pounds lower than that last win, but I don't see him triumphing here off top weight.

Pistol Park hasn't won a race since landing a 5-runner contest at Carlisle exactly and glimpses of any sign of another success have been few and far between since. He did finish second to an in-form rival back at Carlisle in February, but has disappointed since. That said, he's now on a career low mark and if running like he did three starts ago, he could sneak into the frame here.

Crooks Peak hasn't tackled fences in his last eight outings and has only been sent chasing three times in a 23-race career so far. He last jumped fences on his last run for Philip Hobbs when 2nd of 7 at Kempton over 2m2f in a higher grade than this and when you consider than he was only beaten by 1.25 lengths off a mark of 128, you'd have to consider him worthy of a chance here off 112, especially as he's now with Team Skelton, who are in great form right now and have a good record at this venue.

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Elixir du Gouet was quite well respected in France over both hurdles and fences, but has suffered a bit of a stop/start time here in the UK, racing just three times in the last two years and being beaten by 51, 124 and 61 lengths respectively. I'd look elsewhere today.

Casa Tall won races over hurdles in France, but only made the frame twice in seven runs over the smaller obstacles after his move to the UK. He was a bit sketchy over fences on his first couple of attempts but got round move times and then showed some promise when only beaten by 6 lengths last time out. He's down a couple of pounds now and if continuing to improve, could get involved.

Discko des Plages won over fences at Catterick in mid-December despite not jumping well at all, but has run consistently well in five outings since, although he did unseat his rider when leading at Uttoxeter in February. He goes off the same mark as when runner-up twelve days ago, but with Brian Hughes taking over in the saddle, will be expected to be there or thereabouts again.

Tierra Verde won a couple of hurdle races in 2018 before taking 18 months off and has tackled fences just three times, finishing 4th of 14 (bt by 4.5L) and most recently 2nd of 14, going down by just a neck. She also ran in a bumper between those chase outings and was only 1.25 lengths off the pace in third place. She'd be of serious interest, but for stepping up in class and being some 12lbs worse off than LTO as she now runs off 106, but she had a 7lb claimer on board when she ran off 101 LTO.

Some Spin won a 2m maiden hurdle in Ireland last July, but has finished 899P0 since. The P was his only effort over fences when pulled up before 2 put over 2m at Class 5 two starts ago and was 10th of 15, beaten by 23 lengths over hurdles LTO. Not for me here up in class.

French Kiss has made the frame just once in fourteen career starts (5 flat, 4 A/W, 4 hrds, 1 chs) and ran out after the ninth fence on chase debut at Newton Abbot earlier this month. Easy to dismiss here.

Secret Melody finally got off the mark at the nineteenth time of asking last time out (8th over fences) by winning here at Bangor over course and distance, but that was eight months ago and he now races from 3lbs outside of the handicap. That said, he is the only C&D winner in the field, none of his rivals have won here at all and he is carrying virtually no weight. There's no guarantee he'll fire after a long lay-off, but if kicking on from that win, might be involved again.

At this point, I'll admit to already deciding that I certainly don't like four of them here, namely Elixir du Gouet, French Kiss, Some Spin and Swift Crusador and hopefully Instant Expert will back me up, where due to the lack of winners I've selected the place form...

There we get a reminder of Pistol Park's weight difference here and we do have some splashes of green, but nothing to push me towards/away from any runner in particular, if I'm honest.

I'v looked at the pace angle here and I'm told that you either want to lead the field round or you want sit towards the back, getting caught neither here not there hasn't been a successful tactic here in previous contests...

So, Secret Melody looks like the one to lead them out, but there's the obvious danger of him not staying the trip after eight months away from the track, whilst Crooks Peak is likely to be near the back, which could well be ideal for him to pick them all off late on.

Summary

For me, Crooks Peak is the one to beat here. I know we have to take his jumping for granted after hurdling for a while, but you can be sure the Skeltons will have schooled him well. After that there's a handful of runners who could all make the frame, despite seeming to be unsuited on race profile...

Casa Tall / Discko des Plages / Pistol Park / Secret Melody / Tierra Verde...

...and I think I might have to look at who has the fewest red flags and go with the ones I have least reservations about, which leads me to Discko des Plages and Casa Tall for the places.

I'm not surprised to see the bookies in fairly relative agreement with me, as Hills have installed Crooks Peak as the 5/2 favourite here. To be honest, he should be winning this, but it's not a shoo-in and I was rather hoping/expecting to get at least 4/1 about him.

Racing Insights, 16th April 2021

Oxted wasn't quite at it today and the 8/13 favourite was beaten by three quarters of a length by the 7/1 shot Summerghand, who we'd identified as the main threat. The winner was well drawn in stall 2 and our pace/draw heatmap suggested that he'd improve his chances by abandoning his usual mid-divisional race positioning. He was held up at the best, before making his way through the field to finish strongly. Well done to everyone who got on, especially those on the £16.70 Exacta.

To Friday now, where 'feature of the day' is the Horses for Courses report, which does exactly what you'd expect, whilst our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 2.15 Newbury
  • 4.00 Newbury
  • 4.27 Ayr
  • 6.00 Ballinrobe
  • 6.50 Exeter

I had no qualifiers under my fairly strict criteria for the Horses for Courses report, but one did come close, only missing out by not having made enough appearances and that horse, Jessiemac, runs in one of our "free" races, so I think we'll cover the 4.27 Ayr, a 12-runner, Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over 3m0.5f on Good ground (that will be good to soft in places and they're watering) worth £4,956 to one of this dozen...

Major Dundee was well beaten (almost 55 lengths) on his handicap bow in late February, but ran much better next/last time out when winning by 8.5 lengths over 3m at Chepstow three weeks ago. He's up 2lbs and one class here and shoulders top weight. More improvement needed, but place chances for sure.

No Regrets finished 44678 before going handicapping where his form has improved to read 311225 and both runner-up finishes (bt by 2L and then a neck) were at this level, the latter over 3m. He was 5th of 6 last time out, 11 lengths adrift, but does drop in class here an possibly needed the run last time. That said, I don't see him making the frame.

Sultan's Pride has three wins and a less than 4 lengths defeat on heavy ground rom his four runs this season and comes here on the back of a 2 length success at Doncaster last time out. He's up 6lbs for that win, but could well come on for that last run, which came after a break of almost 17 weeks. Good chance here, I think.

I'd Better Go Now is 3 from 8 over hurdles, but finished 15th of 17 (bt by 88L) two starts ago and was then pulled up last time out on his chase debut. He has been off the track for over 4 months now and although he's down 2lbs, I'm not fancying his chances here.

Stop The World has made the frame in 5 of his 8 efforts over hurdles but has yet to win in this sphere and is only 1 from 8 elsewhere. He could only muster 3rd of 5 last time out and off a mark of 120, he's probably too high in the weights here to be competitive.

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Skipthescales will turn out to be a better chaser than he is a hurdler, but ran creditably here twice in the winter when attempting to win a couple of 3m0.5f/3m1f heavy ground handicaps from the front. He ended up 5th of 10 (bt by 4L) in a Class 3 and then he was 4th of 6 beaten by 12.5 lengths at Class 4. He's only 4lbs lighter than that run, but up in class and was also well beaten last time out on Boxing Day. Not for me, I'm afraid.

Always Resolute is likely to be quick across the ground between hurdles based on his win in a Class 3 handicap over 1m6.5f at Chester last September and he was pretty useful on the Flat in general. Hurdle-wise, he won by the best part of three lengths last time out at this grade at Newbury six weeks ago. He's up 5lbs for that win and now tackles 3m+ for the first time, but looked to have something in hand last time out and has won off a higher mark than this. Place potential here.

Off The Beat is possibly better than his form would suggest, but ran creditably last time out, finishing as a runner-up over 3m on good to soft ground over 3m at Musselburgh last month. The assessor thought he ran well enough to go up 3lbs and both his yard and his jockey (who work well together) have good records at this venue. He's not an obvious winner here, but looking at the opposition, he could well make the frame at a reasonable price.

The Ogle Gogle Man seems to have had a new lease of life since moving to Iain Jardine, finishing 23112 in his five starts, all beyond three miles and all in handicap hurdles. It should be said that they were all Class 5 too and he lost the first two by 22 lengths and then 38 lengths before winning off a reduced mark of 90. He won again off 97, but then failed by a neck last time out off 107. I'm not with him today, because he's up another 2lbs, he's up two classes and this will be his fourth 3m+ run inside 52 days and could be a step too far.

Jessiemac was the one that almost made the horses for courses list with a 25% win & 50% place strike rate in handicaps here at Ayr, making the frame 4 times (winning twice) from 8 attempts and she's one from one over course and distance (late October 2019). Since winning back to back races here in 2019, she hasn't looked the same since, although she did win a Class 4 event at Kelso last October. She has since been beaten by a combined 86 lengths in four runs since and I can't see her doing much here either.

Tomorrow's Angel is an interesting runner here. She ended 2020 with a runner-up finish at Newcastle and kicked 2021 off some 114 days later with the same result at Sedgefield, both at Class 5. She then won a Class 4 over 2m7f at Kelso breaking her duck at the 21st attempt just twenty-five days ago. She hasn't been resting, though, as she has raced on the Flat over 2m at Redcar in the last fortnight, finishing third just a length and three quarters off the winner. So, she's clearly in good nick, but she's on a career high mark tackling a Class 3 handicap for the first time. I don't think she can win this, but has a real chance of the places if things fall her way.

Manetti completes the line-up and is a much better chaser than he is a hurdler. Although beaten by over 16 lengths on his hurdling debut, he finished 3rd of 10. Since then he has failed to place in all four attempts, being beaten by 26, 11, 11 and 55 lengths respectively. He has never raced at 3m or beyond and has no Class 3 hurdling experience. A mark of 101 sees him get plenty of weight all round, but he's not one I'd want to risk money on.

At this point, I normally take you straight to Instant Expert for a full card overview of how these horses have fared in these conditions and I will do in a moment, but I think I already know where I'm going with this one. I'm actually happy to mentally rule out half of the field here and now, because I think the winner and placers come from the following (in alphabetical order)...

...Always Resolute / Major Dundee / Off The Beat / Sultan's Pride / The Ogle Gogle Man / Tomorrow's Angel...

Let's see what Instant Expert thinks/says...

Major Dundee is an unexposed handicapper after just one attempt and is only 2lbs higher than his last win, Sultan's Pride hasn't been to Ayr before, but going, class, trip and field size hold no fears for him, but he is 6lbs higher than his LTO win. Always Resolute gets the ground well enough, but a 1 from 14 record at this grade isn't good. Off the Beat is another unexposed type with little supporting data. The Ogle Gogle Man is green for all the zones he has numbers for, but we should stress, it's only based on 2 runs and he's some 10lbs higher than his last win. Tomorrow's Angel has little workable data too, but is in good nick.

Race pace / tactics might be the decider here in what doesn't strike me as being a particularly good Class 3 contest...

Sadly, that's fairly inconclusive, other than to say hold up horses tend to struggle. From a win perspective, you're better off leading, but leaders fare worst for the places, whilst hold up horses do pretty well at making the frame without converting it to wins. This suggests it's a difficult place to judge the pace of the race, if hold up horses are leaving to too late to win, but are still getting placed. Confused? I think I am!

Anyway, leaders win most often and the other three running styles tend to fill the places. Unfortunately, the above goes out of the window, because there's no pace in this race at all. The one most likely to take it on, The Macon Lugnatic, is a non-runner, so unless Skipthescales steps forward, we might be in for a 2m6f trot followed by a 2f dash to the line. Hopefully the better horses will come to the fore, if that's the case.

Summary

After the write-ups, which are a mix of form, stats and my personal opinion, I was happy to discard half of the field. We got precious little from Instant Expert and/or the pace tab on this occasion, so we're going to lean on the unquantifiable today : gut feeling! I mean, what could possibly go wrong? 😀

I'm happy with the six I had...Always Resolute / Major Dundee / Off The Beat / Sultan's Pride / The Ogle Gogle Man / Tomorrow's Angel... 

And here's how I think they might finish : Tomorrow's Angel (weight & class) and The Ogle Gogle Man (weight & too much racing) look the weakest of the six and will hopefully finish in that order, leaving us with our final three and one more discard, who is going to be Major Dundee due to him carrying top weight stepping up in class.

That takes me to where I like to be : three against the field and I'm going to go Sultan's Pride ahead of Off The Beat with Always Resolute back in third. I don't actually have much separating the three, but that's how I'm calling it. I wonder if the bookies agree?

Well, the answer is no, they don't. They have my three at 7/1, 11/1 and 5/1 respectively. I'm happy to take 7/1 about Sultan's Pride and 11/1 E/W about Off The Beat, as I think they're decent prices. Bookies are paying 4 and even 5 places on this race, but the three discards are 8/1, 9/1 and 8/1 so there's possibly not much mileage in taking those on an E/W basis, although you'd have a decent chance of a small payout.

Racing Insights, 15th April 2021

Wow! I said today's race would be a tight affair and it couldn't have been much tighter than it was. Sadly we narrowly missed out twice in a race where the first five home were separated as follows... neck, nose, nose, head! Our pick King of Stars was the 15/2 runner-up beaten by a neck, whilst the 12/1 E/W shot Muscika was fourth, a neck and two noses away from winning, but not even making the frame.

The other horse I suggested that would be a bad E/W bet either, Music Society, was fifth home at 16/1. So, although I drew a financial blank here, I'm pleased at how close we got and the only blot on the day was the poor run from eventual favourite Jawwaal, who faded away late on and probably wasn't quite as ready as he'd like first up.

On Thursdays we open up the informative Instant Expert to all readers for all races, including, of course, our free races of the day, which are set to be...

  • 1.55 Limerick
  • 3.00 Newmarket
  • 4.15 Limerick
  • 5.50 Limerick
  • 5.55 Newcastle

The race at HQ is easily the "best" of those races and although there's going to be a very short favourite, we might well be able to find a decent E/W shot for the forecast. So, today's piece centres around the 3.00 Newmarket, the 7-runner Group 3 bet365 Abernant Stakes for 3yo+ horses over 6f on ground that is set to be good (good to firm in places). The top prize is £25,520 and these are the seven hoping to land it...

Five of the seven have at least one win in their last four outings, Summerghand is the only LTO winner in the field, though and he's one of three stepping up in class. All seven have either won here or have won over this trip, whilst two (Oxted & Jouska) are course and distance winners.

Oxted is the likely short-priced favourite and he's very much well in at the weights (at least 11lbs). Five of this field have raced in the past month and only Jouska returns from a long lay-off. Now we'll look at each of them a little closer...

Emaraaty Ana won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes in 2018 but hasn't quite hit those heights since, although he was third (beaten by 4.75 lengths) in this race last year. He was gelded and had a breathing op during the 31 week break he had before returning to action at Doncaster 19 days ago when a creditable second in a Listed race. This is much tougher, though and I think he might struggle.

Exalted Angel won a Listed race on the Polytrack at Lingfield two starts and almost 10 weeks ago, just getting home by a neck and he was then a runner-up over the same course and distance a fortnight ago on Championship Day when beaten by Summerghand who re-opposes today. He's more effective away from grass and I'm not sure he could reverse those placings.

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Oxted is the likely odds on fav here and is very much best off at the weights. He won this race last year before going on to land the Group 1 July Cup. He then took 14 weeks off before going down by just over a length in the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes where he ran out of steam on unsuitably soft ground. He hasn't been seen in the UK since that mid-October run, but has had a pipe opener on the dirt in Riyadh in the past eight weeks, so should be ready for this.

Shine So Bright has been a runner-up in each of his last three starts, albeit on the all-weather at Classes 2 and 3. He hasn't actually won any of his last nine since winning the Group 2 City of York Stakes in August 2019 and although he clearly has ability, he's going to need to up his game to feature here.

Summerghand ditched his usual cheekpieces in favour of a first visor and was a winner on A/W Champions Day last month, pipping the re-opposing Exalted Angel in the process. It was a welcome return to form for this 7 yr old who now makes his 48th start here and has interestingly made the frame in 60% of them, this could be another if he runs like LTO.

Jouska is one of two fillies (both are 4yr olds) in the race and she could only manage 15th of 16 when last seen at Ascot six months ago. In her defence, that was the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes that Oxted was beaten in. She has won here over course and distance in a Listed event, but this is much tougher and she may need the run after such a long absence.

Marly is the second of those 4yo fillies and the last listed on the card. Just two UK runs to date and she hasn't set the world on fire in them, going down by a couple of lengths at Classes 2 and 3. She was a three time winner in France, but looks outclassed here and would probably prefer the ground to be a fair bit softer.

Thursday's free feature is, of course, Instant Expert, so it would be remiss not visit it here...

As expected, there's no getting away from Oxted here, proven in every category, We've plenty of amber elsewhere for the going, we've five Class 1 winners, Summerghand has a fantastic 11 wins at this trip and loves the smaller fields.

So far I've seen little to suggest the jolly will get overturned, so it might just be the runner-up we're looking for, so from a place perspective, Instant Expert looks like this...

And Summerghand looks the likeliest from that, although Exalted Angel is interesting off very few runs and wasn't far behind Summerghand last time out.

From a draw perspective, past data would tend to suggest a low (pref #1 or #2) draw is the favoured place to be, although widest of 7 has also worked out well for runners, as we can see here...

As for pace, leading seems to be the way forward here, whilst prominent runners run to par with an IV of 1. Mid-division runners have fared worst of all, but from a very small sample size, so that might not be entirely reliable, whilst held-up runners are also very close to par.

When we combine running style with draw, the ideal scenario is a low drawn leader (for fairly obvious reasons) and aside from a poor return from a small number of mid-div runners, low drawn runners fare the best full stop. High drawn mid-div runners are fourth best.

So the likes of Exalted Angel and Summerghand in stalls 1 and 2 would be best off if they tried to set the pace early doors, whilst the fav Oxted in stall 7 could let them get on with it and pounce later. This (in draw order), however, is how they've all tended to run...

Neither Exalted Angel nor Summerghand look particularly well suited, but I'm not convinced about the mid-div stats as they're based on such a small sample size and likewise for Jouska, but she has a poorer draw. The other four are probably in as good a zone on the graphic as they could be.

Summary

I don't see anything beating Oxted here based on last year's race and what I've documented above. Whether he's worth backing at 8/11 is up to you, I fully expected him to be around 4/6, so the market is about right.

If you don't want to back him at those odds and you want an E/W bet or a placer to go in a forecast etc, then everything I've written points to Summerghand and Exalted Angel being "best of the rest". They're very closely matched and were only a head apart last time out. The former, however, is a better performer on the Flat than the latter, so it's Summerghand to reconfirm his narrow superiority over Exalted Angel for me in the bid to chase Oxted home, although at odds of 13/2 and 12/1 respectively, the Angel looks a more attractive option on potential returns!

 

Racing Insights, 13th April 2021

Mixed emotions from Tuesday's race, I suppose. Rhythmic Intent didn't run and my pick for the race Hortzadar never really got into it from too far off the pace. My third and fourth rated horses, which became #2 and #3 after the non-runner, fared me much better giving me E/W returns at 14/1 and 16/1, so enough back for a socially distanced pint or two outside later 😉

Wednesday's 'feature of the day' is the Trainer Statistics report and our free races are...

  • 2.00 Leopardstown
  • 3.00 Newmarket
  • 3.25 Beverley
  • 4.00 Beverley
  • 4.40 Kempton

The 3.00 Newmarket aka the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes is the best of that handful of races, but with a small field and an odds on favourite, we'll settle for second best on this occasion and head for the 4.00 Beverley, , a 9-runner, Class 3 Flat Handicap for 4yo+ over five furlongs on Good to Firm ground that will be good in places and watering is taking place to keep it from getting any quicker. Top prize here is £6,185 for one of these...

This looks like another tight contest, the type we love to try and crack, of course. All bar two have a win in their last five outings, we've three dropping down a class, one moving up a class and one upped two classes. All nine have won at the trip, we've three course and distance winners, including a 2021 Geegeez Flat Profiles horse.

Five have raced in the last three weeks, whilst the other four are returning from breaks of 180 to 214 days and the spread on the Geegeez ratings is tight, ranging from 90 down to just 73. When bottom rated is higher than 80% of top rating, you know it's expected to be tight, but hopefully we can find the winner, starting with...

Jawwaal, who hasn't raced for 214 days, but goes best fresh, as shown by his success in back to back 5f sprints last summer when coming back from 259 days off track, including landing a valuable big-field contest at Ascot in July. He was then mid-division in two more 21-runner handicaps before calling it a day for 2020. If ready first up again, will be involved off 1lb lower than LTO.

Muscika was a 33/1 winner at York back on October and although he was beaten by four lengths on his subsequent step up to Class 2, he wasn't disgraced. He was beaten by a similar margin 17 days ago on his seasonal reappearance but is expected to go better with that run under his belt, as he did last season.

Queens Order struggled higher than Class 3 last term, but ended the season with two good runs below this level, losing and then winning by narrow margins. Now 6lbs higher than his LTO win, which was a career-best effort, this looks tough up in class.

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King of Stars was 0 from 9 before the switch tot he Appleby yard for whom he is now 3 from 7, including landing a C4 5f handicap at Bath last week. This is clearly tougher and he carries a penalty for that win last week but is definitely in form and looks like an improver.

Ginger Jam is the Geegeez 2021 profile horse in the field. His career record of 7 from 19, includes 5 from 5 over course and distance as highlighted by subscriber Nigel aka N17, which would make him of serious interest, but Nigel does say that he's to be backed at Classes 4 to 6, as that's where he has run those five races at. He's actually 1 from 4 at Class 4 overall, by virtue of a C&D win here two starts ago off a mark of 80. He goes off 83 here and is 0/2 higher than Class 4 and I expect a first Beverley defeat for him.

Victory Angel won a Class 3 at Musselburgh off 79 five starts ago but has struggled since. He's coming back down in the weights and should, therefore, be more competitive here. He does go well when turned back out quite quickly by is 2/22 off a mark over 80.

Music Society won the Ayr Bronze Cup almost 19 months ago as the culmination of a run of form that saw him win three time and finish second twice inside six outings. His mark went from 81 to 86 after that Ayr win and he hasn't managed to score again in nine efforts since. He was a runner-up at Haydock off a mark a pound higher than today and he's now 2lbs lower than that Ayr win, so is well weighted here. My main concern with him is the 180 day absence as he has failed to make the frame in four runs after four months or more off track.

Saluti won here at Beverley over course and distance last August but is now somewhere 5lbs lower. This, however, is two grades higher and he did only get home by a nose in a race where the form hasn't really panned out (field is 1/34 since). He has had a couple of C4 sharpeners on the A/W already this season, but has been well held in both and I'd be looking elsewhere today.

Nibras Again is a solid consistent performer with a 40% place record after nearly 50 runs, but he doesn't win often enough, as typified by his recent form of 33133. Only the first of those was on turf and his last win on grass was here over C&D in July. He won a Class 5 handicap by a nose off 66 that day and a mark of 75 here means he's have to do much better to be involved.

So, we know that Ginger Jam is an excellent 5 from 5 over C&D, but we've since discovered that he hasn't won at this grade of racing before meaning he's not as well suited as we thought he might be. This will no doubt be apparent on Instant Expert, which will show us who really is best suited...

In fairness, Ginger Jam still looks fine above, but the class thing is a concern. Several of these will handle the ground well enough, Muscika has three wins at this level, Ginger Jam is undoubtedly the horses for courses runner and has a good record at the trip, as does Nibras Again with others also having lots of green. Nibras Again, however, is 9lbs higher than his last win but a couple do race off marks lower than their last successes.

The draw stats are as follows for similar past races...

...and although stall 3 is low and stall 4 is high, there's actually no real discernible draw bias here, as shown by segmenting the field into thirds...

It's the blue line we use here...

So no bias, although from a profit perspective, the middle stalls are where the money has been made! As for race pace, it's probably what you'd expect over 5f on quick ground ie get out quick and stay in front...

And when we combine pace and draw...

...it still says you want to be leading, but the middle stalls have become less attractive, so now let's add our horses' previous running styles to that heat map to see how we think it might unfold...

...and the suggestion is that King of Stars will attempt to make all from the widest berth. He has made the made three times and raced prominently once in his last four and hasn't finished out of the first four home, so it's a clear tactic that has served him well.

Summary

The two I like most here would be Jawwaal and King of Stars. The former goes well first up and although conceding weight all round, is still a pound lower than LTO and drops in class, whilst the latter is in great form since moving yards and is a front-running improver.

I'm really struggling to split the pair, but I'm siding with King of Stars over Jawwaal and both are currently priced at 5/1 in a contest so tight that the bookies have five horses at 5/1 or 11/2. As for a third horse, I think there could be a bit of an upset with the longest priced horses possibly squeezing in. I have a marginal preference for the 12/1 Muscika over the 14/1 Music Society, but neither would be a bad E/W bet.

Racing Insights, 13th April 2021

We were right to oppose the 5/6 fav Kettle Hill this afternoon, as he failed to even make the frame, but our preferred pick Dawaaleeb was beaten by a neck after ditching his usual front-running tactics. This left our other identified pacemaker, Defence Treaty, with the opportunity to set the fractions and he hung on grimly to secure the win at 20/1, just holding our pick off.

Not our day, but we'll have other opportunities and I'll be keeping an eye out for Global Spirit next time. As I thought he might, he faded late on, but ran well for a long way, so would be of interest on his next appearance.

Now, to Tuesday, where The Shortlist report is our 'feature of the day' and our free races are as follows...

  • 1.00 Newmarket
  • 1.15 Newton Abbot
  • 2.35 Southwell
  • 2.45 Newmarket
  • 4.30 Newmarket

There's not a lot catching my eye from The Shortlist report for Tuesday, so I'll turn to our handful of free races for today's and seeing as the fourth on that list is not only the "best" race of the five, it also features a runner from our 2021 Flat profiling community project. So, without further ado, let's focus on the 2.45 Newmarket, which is a 9-runner, Class 2 Flat handicap for 4yo+ horses over a mile on Good ground, that might well be firmer in places. Top prize is £10,800 and it will go to one of...

We've no LTO winners in the filed, but seven of the nine have won at least once in their last five outings. Six ran in this grade last time out, but Makram is up one class whilst both Overwrite and Madame Tantzy ran in Class 4 contests. Only Maxi Boy and Rhythmic Intent are without a win at this trip, whilst we've four course and distance winners.

The Geegeez ratings are fairly close between Madame Tantzy (99), Rhythmic Intent (95), Hortzadar (91) and Scottish Summit/Dogged (both 87),  suggesting a tight affair, whilst the middle of those five, Hortzadar is the Flat profiles horse, more on that very shortly. Four of the field have raced in the past 17 days, whilst the other five have been off track for at least 12 weeks with Dogged now re-appearing after a break of almost 40 weeks!

Oh This Is Us carries top weight of 9st 12lbs off a mark of 102. He's a former course and distance winner but has laboured on the all-weather this spring finishing 9th of 13 off 104 and 9th of 14 off 103. he's back on turf and down another pound, but has no 5lb claimer on board today to reduce his effective mark below 100. He's 2 from 6 here at HQ, but hasn't won on the Flat for over 31 months and although his yard are in good form right now, I think he'll fall short again here.

Hortzadar was put forward for the Flat profiles by Gold subscriber andynic with the following short note...Distance 7f-8f, no of runners 2-10... He's 5 from 5 under those circumstances, including 4/4 over 1m, 2/2 at Class 2, both over a mile. So, conditions look ideal and he's only 3lbs higher than when last winning at Goodwood in September at this class/trip and made a promising reappearance to finish third, just 2 lengths adrift in the Lincoln last month despite a 161 day absence. He looks the one to beat.

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Maxi Boy was a promising 2 yr old who won on debut and was third in a Group 2 race here in July 2019. he struggled next time out in another Group 2 race and then wasn't seen for 455 days. The break didn't appear to affect him too much as he came within two necks of winning a Class 2 handicap on his return. The fact he hasn't raced in the 166 days since then suggests something might not quite be right with him and although he clearly has ability, I'm concerned that 1 run in 22 months isn't enough.

Rhythmic Intent had a good start to his 2020 campaign with two wins and a runner-up finish from his first four seasonal outings, so he'd be expected to be ready to go here, despite a 5 month absence. He acquitted himself well on his final run of 2020 with a good 2nd of 23 in Doncaster's Class 2 November handicap when a length and three quarters behind a winner who has won twice since. Definite chances here.

Scottish Summit is possibly better than recent form might suggest, as he went pretty well for much of his run in the Lincoln at Doncaster last month before weakening late on. He made the frame in 7 of his 9 Flat runs last season, winning twice (the last of which was here over C&D) and whilst he's possibly a tad high in the weights, could well nick a place at a decent price.

Overwrite was certainly kept busy last season, racing 11 times in 21 weeks, getting home first in two of them (won one and was disqualified in another after hanging right). He struggled in the Spring Mile last month and was beaten off this mark on the A/W at Newcastle in a Class 4 last week. This is much tougher and I think mid-division is about as good as he'll be.

Makram is a prime example of why you need to loo beyond form figures. Finishes of 21818 from his five career runs to date would spark interest, but closer analysis shows he won a Class 5, 7f, A/W novice race by half a length and a Class 4 Flat handicap by a length and a quarter. He was then 8th of 13 on his Class 3 debut last time out and although he didn't have the best of draws, he was never really in the race and now going off that same mark and stepping up another class after a 234-day absence, I'd want to look elsewhere.

Dogged won a Class 2 nursery here over course and distance back in September 2019, but has only raced three times since then and results have been disappointing, although a 5th of 10 here over C&D last time out suggested there might be something about him. He has been gelded during his long layoff and it is hoped that will spark some improvement, but even if it does, I think he'll need the run.

Madame Tantzy is an interesting sort at the foot of the weights. The only mare in the race was a winner two starts ago when landing a Class 3 handicap over course and distance last September, prior to a five length defeat on the A/W at Kempton. She's probably a little high in the weights still off 79 and will probably need a run, but I wouldn't be surprised to see her winning at Class 3 off a lower mark this summer.

We know that Hortzadar should have conditions to suit here, but Instant Expert can quickly highlight how his rivals have also fared in past Flat handicaps...

Makram and Madame Tantzy look high in the weights based off their last win, whilst Oh This Is Us is the standout horse for me from the above. Rhythmic Intent and particularly Scottish Summit are solid placers who haven't converted enough good runs into wins, whilst Dogged's figures are good from small sample sizes from a fairly long time ago.

In 47 past contests of this nature, the suggestion is that you either want to be in stall 1 or drawn high. I know that seems a little incongruent, but that's what the data tells us...

Further analysis of those 47 races says the further forward you can race, the better with 34 of the races going to leaders/prominent runners, despite them only representing less than half of the runners.

That, of course, doesn't mean that low drawn runners or those who race from further off the pace can't win here, but if you race mid-division, you need a low draw, whilst hold up runners need to be away from those first three stalls. Highly drawn prominent runners just about shade it here...

...and this is how these nine runners have raced in their last four outings. We've superimposed them in draw order onto that heat map above and Overwrite / Dogged look best suited from that.

Summary

We started with Hortzadar and his record under similar circumstances and I suggested he's the one to beat. He isn't particularly well off on the pace/draw chart, but he does have that stall 1 to his advantage. All things considered, I still think he's the one to beat here. 10/3 is a little shorter than I'd hoped for, but that still might end up being a good price.

That's the easy bit done in a way and I'm tempted to say good night at this point, but I know you like a top three and the possibility of a cheeky E/W punt, so here's where I'm at.  I like Rhythmic Intent best of the rest, he goes well fresh, tends to do his best work early season and could well run Hortzadar close, but at 11/2 is too short for an E/W bet for me.

That leaves me with one to find and this is where it's tricky. I actually think there are a couple of over-priced runners here in the shape of Scottish Summit (16/1) and Oh This Is Us (12/1). The above data and write-ups would tend to suggest the latter would be the better option of the two, but something is nagging at the back of my mind to go with Scottish Summit.

All of which is suggested to you with one caveat...Maxi Boy is a potential fly in the ointment. I suspect he's going to need the run after being so inactive for a long time, but he's certainly good enough to win a race like this. I just hope it's not this one!

Racing Insights, 12th April 2021

For Saturday's race, I said..."I think Requited (7/1), Oh So  Nice (10/1) and Lethal Blast (9/1) are all pretty close to each other"... and indeed they were only 2 lengths apart. Sadly they finished 5th, 6th and 7th and the nearest I got to calling it right was a good run from Lady Florence to finish second after being drawn widest of all.

Ah, well, that's the nature of sticking your neck out daily, I suppose, but no time to dwell on it as Monday is approaching. The PACE tab is available to everyone for all races, including our featured free races, which are...

  • 1.00 Huntingdon
  • 1.50 Redcar
  • 3.20 Redcar
  • 4.00 Huntingdon

The second of the two Flat races above is probably the best of the four free races and although it's highly likely there'll be a pretty warm favourite, (a) he might not win and (b) we might find a nicely-priced E/W bet to chase the fav home. So Monday's race in focus is the 3.20 Redcar, an 11-runner, Class 3 Flat handicap for 4yo+ runners on Good ground, that will be firmer in places. The top prize is £6,210 and it will go to one of these...

All bar two have a win in their last five starts, we have plenty of class movers (3 droppers and 4 risers), all bar two have had a run in the last six weeks and we've one handicap debutant.

Hayadh bears top weight and has won two of his last seven in a career that has seen him win seven times at trips of 7 to 8.5 furlongs, including six on ground varying from good to soft through to good to firm. Can be excused for finishing 6th LTO in this grade as it came after a 173-day break and he only went down by 3.75 lengths.

Dawalaleeb had a good winter on the A/W and has won 5 of 10 starts away from turf. He's a former course and distance winner, who was only beaten by a nose the last time he came here (also over C&D) back in September. He returned to the turf with a very creditable run in the Class 2 Spring Mile at Doncaster where he was beaten by just over 4 lengths and now drops in both class and weight to run here.

Zhui Feng won on his debut for his new yard in February and was only beaten by less than two lengths next/last time out. He's probably better suited by a return to turf and could well make the frame if things fall his way.

Kettle Hill is the likely odds-on favourite and after finishing just 5th of 8 (beaten by over 10L) on debut at Wolverhampton at the end of last June, he has won both his races since, albeit some 8 months apart. Both were over 8.5f as he landed a Class 5 maiden at Windsor by half a length and then a Class 5 Novice race at Wolverhampton by three lengths four weeks ago. The 2nd and the 7th from that race have won again at Class 4/5, but the 4th and 5th have both been beaten at Class 5. And the second's win was a Class 5 handicap off a mark of 70, so Kettle Hill might not have it all his own way here off 85.

He makes a handicap debut today and although his yard are 57 from 282 (20.2% SR) with Flat handicap debutants since 2015, those figures generate a loss at SP of over 13% and the A/E on those runs is just 0.84.

Global Spirit has a big chance here, if ready to go first up after a break of 168 days. He had two wins and three places from seven on turf last season and was only beaten by less than four lengths at this class/grade/mark last time out. He'd clearly need to improve to win and you are always taking fitness on trust after a break, but on pure ability, he could make the frame.

Brother McGonagall is the first of four in the race that I don't want to even think about backing. He was 9th of 10 last time out, beaten by almost 12 lengths in a Class 4 handicap some 262 days ago and that race came after a 289-day absence, so purely based on that last run and the fact that he has only raced once in the last eighteen months, it's a no from me.

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Home Before Dusk would be in my calculations if this was an all-weather contest where he has a 26% strike rate in handicaps, but he's actually 0 from 14 on turf. This, of course, will be easier than the Class 2 Spring Cup he contested last time out where he was more than 11 lengths behind Dawaaleeb, but even though he's 5lb better off for the "re-match", I don't think he can reverse the placings.

Give It Some Teddy is a Jekyll & Hyde character and is totally unreliable, making him my second "unbackable" here. Don't get me wrong, he's got ability, as he won here over C&D at Class 2 off a pound higher back in October 2019, but since that day his story reads...293 days off / 11th of 11 at Class 4 / 4th of 15 at Class 4 / 10th of 10 at Class 3 / 137 days off and then 8th of 8 in a Class 4 last time out. Not for me, I'm afraid.

Defence Treaty has also been unreliable in the past and has a shaky record of just 1 win and 4 places from 16 on the Flat, but should come here with some hope after seeming to be reinvigorated by a winter on the A/W at Southwell and Newcastle, showing his versatility for underfoot conditions whilst winning twice and finishing as a runner-up twice in seven starts. Up in class, but off the same mark here and has an outside chance of the frame if translating his winter form to the Turf.

Jewel Maker is just 1 from 21 on the Flat and although his form figures over the winter on the all-weather look impressive at 2314413, the two wins were at Class 6 (by 2.5L) and then by a head in a Class 5. This race is much tougher and he was beaten by more than 8 lengths off this mark in a Class 4 last time out. He was admittedly 2nd over C&D here on his last turf run, but that was also a Class 6 contest and he carries 20lbs more here. He's my third unbackable.

Motawaafeq makes up the field and pretty much just helps to make up the numbers here as my final stage 1 reject. His only saving grace is that he's getting weight (plenty in some cases) from the rest of the runners, but comes here having finished 19th of 20 in that afore-mentioned Spring Mile, more than 27 lengths off the pace and whilst he's down a class, he has only been dropped a pound by the assessor. That was his sixth run on turf and when you consider the previous results were 2nd of 4, 6th of 9, 6th of 16, 4th of 11 and 6th of 11 at Classes 4 and 5, you see why he's not for me today.

So, at this point, I'm discarding Brother McGonagall, Give It Some Teddy, Jewel Maker and Motawaafeq ahead of assessing race suitability via Instant Expert. As I'm looking for a decent priced placer as well as the winner, I'm going to consider both win and place records in past Flat handicaps..

Not a lot to write home about from a win perspective, but my notes would be that Hayadh gets the ground,  Zhui Feng's rating is interesting at 20lbs lower than his last Turf win, Kettle Hill is on handicap debut, hence no figures, but his yard haven't excelled at HC1, Home Before Dusk is, of course, winless on turf and Defence Treaty might be carrying too much weight.

From a place perspective for E/W betting...

...they all look better than the win graphic bar Home Before Dusk, whose figures are still unappealing. The first three all look like solid placers, but it's Global Spirit that catches the eye if primed to fire first up.

Pace...

Not many have tried to take it on from the get go, but those who have tried, have been rewarded with a couple of wins, but have generally failed to cling on to a place once caught. From a place perspective, hold up horses have fared best and across the board, I'd say mid-division was the worst running style to have in a contest like this.

Draw...

Here, the extremes seem to have it from a win perspective and although stalls 4 to 6 have picked up 10 of the 36 available places, I'd suggest that berths 4 to 8 wouldn't be ideal for our runners today.

Pace & Draw...

Based on the above individual pace / draw stats, the huge swathe of red through the middle draw won't be a surprise, but what might not have been expected is the fact that mid-drawn leaders have had the most success followed by low-drawn mid-division runners.

And now based on their most recent runs, here's how we think this race might unfold using the pace and draw stats...

Brother McGonagall and Home Before Dusk look to have the best pace/draw make-up here, but I don't see either of them going on to make the frame never mind winning. I had seven runners in my mind after completing the write-ups and then five after the Instant Expert analysis and they were Defence Treaty, Dawaaleeb, Global Spirit, Kettle Hill and Zhui Feng and although the above pace/draw heat map also makes a case for Hayadh and Home Before Dusk, I think I've already found enough negatives against them.

Summary

We've taken eleven down to less than half, but I can't go with five against the field, so let's start at the obvious starting point : Kettle Hill. Only Hills had a price up at 5.40pm and this horse was 11/10. That's a really short price for a horse I don't think is too well treated off 85, runners from his past races haven't set the world on fire and his yard are just OK with handicap debutants. He could be a great horse, but he could be nothing. Bottom line for me is that there are too many unanswered questions to back him at 11/10.

Next up is Defence Treaty, who looks set to be up with the pace which is a tactic that not only hasn't really panned out for him in the past, it's also one that regularly fails in this type of contest from a high draw. Add in his dismal record on turf and he's now gone.

This leaves me with Dawaleeb, Global Spirit and Zhui Feng to consider. Dawaaleeb has ticked boxes everywhere we've looked and his pace/draw make-up isn't dreadful. I fancy him to lead early, see off Defence treaty and attempt to hold on. He ran really well for a long way in that Spring Mile and he's the biggest threat to the favourite for me and you can get 7's about him. He'd be the winner from that trio for me, if the fav doesn't fire as the market expects.

Global Spirit might end up running on fumes or from memory late on, but if ready to go first up, has excellent credentials at 14/1 E/W. Zhui Feng is too short for me at 13/2 and isn't drawn well for his running style.

So, I like Dawaleeb & Global Spirit here and the fav will no doubt be involved somewhere along the line!

Racing Insights, 10th April 2021

Saturday aka Grand National Day is almost upon us and to aid us in our quest to beat the bookies, the excellent Trainer/Jockey Combo Stats report is open to all readers, as are the following free 'races of the day'...

  • 1.25 Lingfield
  • 2.15 Dundalk
  • 2.50 Dundalk
  • 3.35 Aintree
  • 4.00 Chepstow
  • 5.30 Newcastle

And I think I'll go with the first of those races, the 1.25 Lingfield, a 9 (was 10)-runner, Class 6, A/W (poly) handicap for 4yo+ horses over a 5f which is worth £2322 to the winner and here's how they line up...

It's an open looking, if low quality contest with very little in the way of good recent form, but these can be good races to get stuck into. There's very little separating Shecandoo, Lethal Blast and Oh So Nice at the top of our ratings and we've three retuning course and distance winners in the shape of Requited, Bernie's Boy and Lady Florence. The first two of those former C&D winners are also the only two male runners here today, an outnumbering you rarely see. All bar Fairy Fast and Edge of the Bay have raced in the last five weeks and we've no LTO winners.

Shecandoo heads the weights and probably the market, because although she's now 0 from 10, she has made the frame in 4 of her 9 A/W starts, beaten by less than two lengths on all four occasions. She's now down in class and to a career-low mark of 55 and the last time she ran in a Class 6, 5f contest, she was only beaten by two necks off 58, so she should have a great chance here.

Requited was a course and distance winner here in mid-August of 2019 off a mark of 63 and won here over 6f in early August of 2020 off 65, but has struggled in eight races since, not making the frame in any as his mark has tumbled to today's 55. Mind you, he was off 57 last tout and finished 10th of 11, more than 10 lengths adrift over 6f at Wolverhampton, so he'd really need to improve here.

Edge of The Bay hasn't been seen for well over five months since finishing 4th of 9, beaten by 4.5 lengths at this class/trip at Chelmsford after doing far too much early on. She's now 0 from 10 and has made the frame just three times and she's hard to fancy here off 2lbs higher than LTO.

Bernie's Boy does at least have a win visible in his recent form on the card and that came over 6f at Wolverhampton in early January when he grabbed the win on the line by a short head, but has run pretty poorly since. He's definitely unreliable, but has slipped to his lowest mark in over a year and has already won over course and distance, so it depends which horse shows up.

Lady Florence could be excused for finishing 8th of 9 last time out over course and distance, as she was returning from an absence of 178 days and in her further defence, she was only beaten by less than 4 lengths, having gone well until inside the final furlong. She had ended her Autumn 2020 campaign by winning here by 2.5 lengths over course and distance and then finishing third at Wolverhampton before her break and she's now 3lbs lower than that Wolverhampton run.

Terri Rules is an experienced 6 yr old mare with 51 runs under her belt and certainly will know what she's up against, despite coming here off a modest run in a non-handicap event at Wolverhampton last time out. After just nine days rest, that race probably came a little soon for her, becuase she had been running quite well before that. She was a runner-up, beaten by just a neck at Kempton two starts ago and although she's now gone 15 runs and 18 months without a win, she might have to something to say here.

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Fairy Fast certainly hasn't lived up to her name so far, winning just 1 of 22 career starts and losing all 13 A/W encounters. Since the start of 2020, she has raced exclusively here at Lingfield, failing to make the frame in any of her half dozen outings, beating just 12 of 49 rivals and losing by an average of around 8 lengths each time.

Lethal Blast is 0 from 8 and has been a bit hit and miss. Three poor novice runs prior to going handicapping where her results have been up and down. She ran reasonably well last time out on her debut for her new handler, going down by just two lengths off a pound higher than today, despite coming off the back of a 193-day break. She's entitled to come on for the run and whilst she's not an obvious pick to win, she could well get involved in a poor contest.

Oh So Nice runs mainly at Wolverhampton, where she has made 7 of her 8 A/W starts, without any real joy. She was a 2.5 length runner-up three starts ago after a 144-day absence and just hasn't kicked on as connections would have hoped. In fact she has been 10th of 10 and 6th of 9 since. She has, however, raced here once over course and distance back on New Year's Eve 2019 and although she was only 5th of 10 runners, she was actually less than a length behind the winner. Terri Rules finished second that day and is the only one of the four to beat Oh So Nice that hasn't won since.

*

So, a fairly nondescript bunch to deal with. Often in these low-grade contests, you've got some class-droppers looking to return to form, but this, sadly, is just a bunch of poor runners, if truth be told. That said, one of them MUST win, so let's try and find it. You'll not be surprised to read that these 9 horses have won just 8.9% of their previous combined 237 career races and made the frame in just 31.2% of those contests, so when we consider A/W form on Instant Expert, we're probably going to need to look at both win and place stats...

Shecandoo looks solid on place form with a line of green, but has failed to convert them into wins, whilst Requited's only places have been wins and he goes off a mark 10lbs lower than his last success. Edge of The Bay is another with solid place form that hasn't translated into winners and Bernie's Boy has form and experience on going/class and is rated 3lbs lower than his last win.

Lady Florence's numbers are all based on small sample sizes, but there's plenty of green going on, but the problem here is that she's still 6lbs higher than when she last won. Terri Rules, Lethal Blast and Oh So Nice all look much of a muchness on those graphics with some bits of place here and there, although Terri Rules has won at least and is now 4lbs lower than that last win. Only Fairy Fast is a total negative from the above and she didn't get the best write-up either.

We have a non-runner here, so Lady Florence will effectively be running from stall nine and I don't think that there's a massive draw bias here today, but let's check the stats, shall we?

I'm going to say that stall 4's numbers are anomalous and that aside from not wanting to be out in stalls 8 or 9, the rest of the field should have a pretty even chance from whichever of the seven inside stalls they're berthed in, so it might well come down to early pace, race positioning and tactics and we can tell you about the successful way of running races like this is...

...that the further forward you can place yourself, the better your chances of winning. Leaders are more than twice as likely to win as prominent runers, who in turn are almost twice as likely to win as either mid-division or help-up runners.

And when we combine the draw with those prevalent running styles...

...the ideal scenario is quite clearly a draw in stalls 1-3 and get out quick! Numerically we're talking 18 winners and 6 placers from 43 runners (W41.9%, P55.8%) at an A/E of 2.91 and an IV of 3.57. If you're drawn 4-6, however, leading or racing prominently is the best course of action and those in 7-9 really need to get out sharpish to stand any chance here.

As we already know the draw, it's time to superimpose our horse's assumed running styles along with the draw onto that Heat Map from above and when we do, this is what we see...

...which looks particularly good for the likes of Requited and Oh So Nice from the low draws. Lethal Blast doesn't look to unfairly treated in #4, whilst Lady Florence looks the best suited of the rest, but she's going to struggle to get to the front here.

Summary

Shecandoo is already as short as 9/4 and I can't consider backing here at that price based on form, draw or pace, so if I was into laying horses, I'd see if she shortened and then possibly lay her. That's not my cup of tea, though, to be honest, so I'll just oppose her here. The good thing about her being so short is that we're now talking about an odds range of 6/1 to 10/1 for six possibles, after discarding Fairy Fast (fails on all departments) and Bernie's Boy (likewise and unreliable).

The logical step for me in a race full of fairly well matched runners is to go back to Instant Expert and the pace/draw heat map and I can't pull myself away from thinking the winner comes from Requited, Oh So Nice, Lethal Blast and/or Lady Florence. Lady Florence is up against it out in stall 9, so she's going to be the final discard ahead of my "three v the field".

Of the three, I think Requited (7/1), Oh So  Nice (10/1) and Lethal Blast (9/1) are all pretty close to each other, but I think I want them in that order. 7/1 looks a tad generous about Requited, so that's the play there and I might also back the other two on an E/W or even a 25/75 win and place basis.

 

 

Racing Insights, 9th April 2021

The rain I expected in the North West never really materialised and Native River was left to toil on ground too quick for his liking. That said, the way Clan des Obeaux ran today, he'd have been tough to beat in any conditions, so hats off to him and his team, who realised how tough it is to win here after running in the Gold Cup.

Native River plugged on to take third as my final five in the field contained the first four home and a faller and the first three home came from my last four, so those doing the crossed exacta/trifecta bets might have made a quid or two at least.

As for me, I lost a couple of quid, but no dramas. I just pick myself up and go again. Friday's 'feature of the day' is the Horses for Courses report, which does pretty much what it says on the tin and our free 'races of the day' are scheduled to be...

  • 3.05 Sedgefield
  • 4.05 Aintree
  • 4.50 Wexford
  • 6.55 Wexford

I'm going to focus on the Horses for Courses report today, which has a couple of qualifiers on the A/W to consider...

Both have made the frame in more than half of their runs here at Kempton and have won at least a quarter of their visits. Both are also profitable to back here from a win and E/W perspective, so let's dive in. We start with Phoenix Star, who runs in the 6.40 Kempton, a 9-runner Class 5 handicap for 4yo+ over 6f worth £2862 ...

Phoenix Star has four wins and a place from eight efforts over this course and distance, including two wins from three at Class 5. He might actually be a touch high in the weights off a mark of 68 today, but went very close over 5f at Newcastle last time out. He was running on well at the finish and the extra furlong should help here, but he is up another 3lbs back in Class 5 company. On his day, he'd have every chance here.

Most of his A/W form above relates to Kempton, as he's actually 0 from 15 at Chelmsford, Newcastle and Wolverhampton, so that defeat by a neck last time out at Newcastle as probably his best non-Kempton run.

He's drawn nine of nine here, which isn't ideal if truth be told, as you probably want to be in boxes 3 to 6 in a contest like this...

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...but at least he'll be able to see the entire field inside of him.

Races like this have tended to be won by horses running just off the pace or in mid-division, so there's no need for Phoenix Star to try and bolt out to grab the lead, he just doesn't want to be held-up, based on the following...

If we then combine the draw stats with the pace stats, we can then suggest the best way to approach the race from wherever your horse gets drawn...

...and this suggests that Phoenix Star's best chance would be to race in mid-division from his high draw and such a draw/pace make-up is actually the second best available here...

Unfortunately, he seems to prefer to run in a more advanced position and whilst that won't kill his chances here, I'm not sure if it will enhance them. That said, nobody (possibly Production) seems particularly well placed on that last graphic.

Something for me to ponder, but first I need to look at Chloellie who goes a little later in the 8.10 Kempton, an 11-runner, Class 5 Fillies handicap for 4yo+ over 1m also worth £2862...

This 6 yr old mare had seemed a little out of sorts for a while after finishing as a runner-up here at Kempton over 7f back in October, labouring under too much weight, but she ran really well off a lowly mark of 58 last time out to finish second at Southwell over a mile, going down by just a length and three quarters.

Like Phoenix Star above, her best form comes here at Kempton as she is just 2 from 13 at other A/W tracks. In fairness, she's better at Class 6 than Class 5 and better over 7f than over a mile and despite racing here 19 times, she's only tackled the one mile trip once here previously when she was 9th of 13, beaten by over 10 lengths way back in September 2019 and you'd have to think this might be tough for her, but might get close off a mark of 59.

She's drawn in stall 5 of 11 and whilst there's not a huge draw bias for this contest, stall 5 is a pretty good place to be, proving to be second best for wins and third best for places over a series of previous similar races...

Ideal racing position over this 1m trip today is right up front and if you can't lead, don't try to chase it. Sit back in mid-division and bide your time without letting the front runners get too far away, of course...

The way the draw and pace have worked together in the past suggests Chloellie's middle draw would lend itself best to a mid-division race positioning...

and here's how we think she (and her rivals) will run...

...and that's really promising for her and Hashtagmetoo as well. The obvious caveat here is that there's no pace on offer from that graphic, so they might not exactly break out like that, as someone will have to take it on and Hashtagmetoo, Ruby Gates and Dramatica have all been known to lead in the past, perhaps one of them will take it on.

Summary

Phoenix Star looks really well placed to land another Kempton handicap, but he won't have it his own way. The favourite Show Me A Sunset is clearly the one to beat, but at 11/2, Phoenix Star is worth taking a punt on.

Chloellie, on the other hand, looks less likely to win, but not for a lack of ability or application, as I expect another decent run from her here. I just feel that there are better horses here and things would really have to fall her way for her to land this one. There are three or four I like better than her, but if things did go right for her, she has every chance of making the frame, but odds of around 8/1 are a bit skinny for me, so I'll probably leave her alone. I'd expect the 9/2 shot Hold Fast to win this one and if I was looking for a small E/W play, I'd probably be more interested in the likes of Lady Alavesa & Capriolette at 11/1.

 

 

 

Racing Insights, 8th April 2021

Ah, the perils of early season Flat racing! Not a lot went right for me at Catterick earlier, although in some form of hollow victory, I did say that Suwaan would finish third! It's probably best to put that one behind me and move on to Thursday, whose 'feature of the day' is full access to Instant Expert for all readers for all races, including our selected 'races of the day', which are...

  • 2.50 Aintree
  • 3.40 Taunton
  • 4.00 Gowran Park
  • 5.30 Taunton
  • 7.20 Chelmsford

And I think I'll do the feature/race of the day combo again, using the first of our races above, the 2.50 Aintree, which is the Grade 1 Betway Bowl Chase for 5yo+ runners over 3m1f on Good to Soft ground. The winner will receive just over £84k and will be one of the these nine geldings...

A very open looking contest in which Native River heads the Geegeez ratings, is best in at the weights and is the only previous course and distance winner in the field. Clondaw Castle brings the best set of recent results into the race* and alongside Tiger Roll is one of two last time out winners. More than half the field are aged 10 or 11, but I don't think age will be a factor here.
(* form numbers are only relevant when put into context)

As they all carry the same weight here, we'll look at them alphabetically, starting with Aso who is quite disadvantaged at the weights being second worst off and was beaten by 52 lengths when 8th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup just over three weeks ago. It's fair to say he's not the same horse as finished in the places in two Ryanair Chases and hasn't won a race since New Year's Day 2019, as his jumping has started to let him down. I suspect he'll be nearer the back than the front here.

Clan des Obeaux, on the other hand, is likely to be quite popular here and will probably go off as favourite. He won the King George in back to back years (2018/19) and has med the frame in all three runs this season (Betfair/King George/Denman chases), but hasn't quite recaptured the heights he was hitting a year or so ago. He's certain to give it his best shot, but he might not get it all his own way and has looked weak in the finish at times.

Clondaw Castle brings the best set of results to the table with finishes of 121321 since the start of 2020 and both his yard and jockey are in good form, but his own results need closer analysis, as his wins were at Class 2 (twice) and a Grade 3 last time out when 2 lengths clear in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase. The other three runs (232) in that six-race sequence were all at Grade 2, so he's still got improvement to make if he's going to feature here, but has a chance of making the frame, I think.

Militarian is a respectable Class 3 handicapper (3 wins from 4) and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but he has failed to win any of nine attempts at a higher grade, making the frame just once and I think he'll be outclassed here. He's worst off at the weights and he'd be my idea of last one home, if he completes the course.

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Mister Fisher is a useful chaser who is 2 from 2 in Grade 2 contests, including landing the Peterborough at Cheltenham two weeks before Christmas, where he had to tough it off to see off some decent sorts like Kalashnikov and the afore-mentioned Clondaw Castle (he's 3lbs better off than CC here too). His jumping wasn't quite at it last time out, but ran well for a long way in the Ryanair at HQ before pulling up 2 out. Not an obvious winner here, but holds serious place chances.

Native River is tough and doesn't know when he's beaten. He was imperious with some bold jumping when landing the Gr2 Cotswold Chase in early February and showed his grit when fourth in the Gold Cup last time out. He had to dig deep that day from a long way out, but stayed on resolutely, as tends to be his trademark. This is no pushover of a race, but it looks a little easier on paper and I suspect he'll be better than fourth here in favourable conditions.

Real Steel won a Grade 1 and two Grade 2 races in Ireland between May 2019 and January 2020, but seems to lack stamina over these longer trips. Since that last win at Thurles, he has failed to complete two of his four starts and was 6th of 12 and 3rd of 4 in the others. He has ability, but a shorter trip Grade 2 race would probably have suited him better.

Tiger Roll won the National here in 2018 and 2019 but swerves this year's contest on weight. He regained his form by winning the Glenfarclas Cross Country at Cheltenham by 18 lengths last month, but had struggled in three outings between the 2020 and 2021 runnings of that race. There's absolutely no disputing the quality of this horse, but I do wonder in 3m1f isn't a little sharp for him nowadays and he's only 1 from 8 at 2m6f to 3m5f.

Waiting Patiently is a proven Grade 1 runner, but just doesn't win often enough. He won on his first crack at this level, when landing the Ascot Chase a little over three years ago and has raced exclusively in Grade 1 chases since, finishing U23323. The unseat wasn't really his fault in fairness, but despite his solid consistency does seem to always run into one (or two) just slightly better and my other concern is that 13 of his 15 career starts have been over 2m5.5f or shorter.

Today's 'feature of the day' is, of course, Instant Expert and these horses have won 73 races between them, so I'm expecting a lot of green on the charts, starting with overall career records...

Native River is the obvious standout there, proven at class and trip off a decent sample size and he clearly likes Aintree. Plenty of others have decent profiles for this race with only Aso and Real Steel looking like they might struggle.

We can then filter the above to just include their records over fences as follows...

...which, if anything, seems to improve Native River's percentages, but also keeps plenty in the hunt if looking at it from a purely statistical viewpoint.

I did say it was an open looking contest though, so let's try and work out how we think things might unfold. Most runners have had three or more outings this season, so I've set the pace analysis to last three runs, I've opened up the number of runners slightly to get a more workable/reliable sample size and as the ground is good in places, I've done the same there for the same reasons and if they go as we predict they will, then...

Native River might well attempt to set the pace of the contest and if allowed to do so, will be difficult to beat late on as he seems to stay forever. Tiger Roll is likley to be up there too, but the trip is probably too short for him. The bottom four on the graphic are probably in most danger, as this sort of race doesn't really lend itself well to horses who are held up.

Summary

Based on the pace graphic above, I'm happy to consider discarding Aso, Real Steel, Militarian and Waiting Patiently. Aso and Real Steel were negatives on Instant Expert for me and I think my write-ups were dismissive of all four's chances of winning here, so they're all gone.

That leaves us with five, of course and still too many to take forward to the final decision process. Tiger Roll is rapidly becoming (if he isn't already) an Aintree legend, but all good runs come to an end (even Bolton lost at Newport on Monday!) and I think his past few runs over shorter trips have highlighted a chink in his armour and I'm omitting him on trip here.

So to the final four and this bit is a bit easier for me, as I like Native River for this quite a bit more than I like any of the others and he's currently 6/1 in places, which might be a tad generous. Of the remaining three, there's probably not much to choose between Mister Fisher and Clondaw Castle at 8/1 and 15/2 respectively, but the former did beat the latter in December and is now effectively 3lbs better off, so I'll keep those two in that order.

That leaves me with Clan des Obeaux to consider and I think he beats the above pair into second place. He'll try to give native river a run for his money late on, but he doesn't finish as strongly in my opinion.

So, hopefully, it's Native River / Clan des Obeaux / Mister Fisher / Clondaw Castle.

Racing Insights, 7th April 2021

Wednesday's 'feature of the day' is the tremendous Trainer Statistics report, which will hopefully assist you in finding winners across the card, including our free races of the day, which are set to be...

  • 1.45 Catterick
  • 3.30 Lingfield
  • 4.05 Lingfield
  • 4.30 Gowran Park
  • 6.30 Gowran Park

And today. I think I'll combine the feature of the day with a race of the day and also pay a small homage to SotD as we assess the chances Eric Alston's Captain Corcoran in the 1.45 Catterick. Eric's five-year handicap record at Catterick looks like this...

...and he has just the one runner on the card and the 4 yr old gelding is set to compete in this 8-runner, Class 6, Apprentices Handicap over 5f on Good to Firm ground, that will be good in places and they're watering the track to keep it that way. It's a race for 4yo+ horses, so all should have plenty of relevant experience for us to assess and here's how they line up...

Before I look at the runners in individual detail, let's quickly look at Eric Alston's record here. We already know that since the start of the 2017 season, his handicappers are 13 from 41 (31.7% SR) here at Catterick, but under today's conditions, those 41 are...

  • 10 from 24 (41.7%) at odds of 6/1 and shorter
  • 9 from 33 (27.3%) from male runners
  • 8 from 23 (34.8%) at Class 6
  • 6 from 14 (42.9%) after making the frame LTO
  • 5 from 12 (41.7%) over this 5f C&D
  • 3 from 12 (25%) as 4 year olds
  • 3 from 10 (30%) in fields of 6-8 runners
  • 1 from 5 (20%) on Good to Firm
  • 1 from 2 (50%) in April
  • and 1 from 1 in Apprentice handicaps...

...all of which suggests Captain Corcoran might well have a chance here. He now returns to action after a break of some 28 weeks since finishing as a runner-up over 5f at Redcar where he was on the wrong side of the draw/pace, but beat his "section" of the field. Josh Quinn's 3lb claim will be useful here, as he goes off the same mark as last time and he retains the hood in which he has finished 4142.

He won't want the ground any drier than it already is and he might well need the run, but the yard has been amongst the winners over the last month (3 from 9) and if he's ready to go first up, he has every chance here, especially as Eric Alston has a decent record with Flat handicappers winning after a 6 month-plus layoff (1 from 1 this season so far after Jabbarockie's win on Saturday)

And now to the rest of the field, starting with top weight Not On Your Nelly, who has 2 wins and 2 places from 5 handicap runs to date. She's the only filly in the race and is the only other in the race without a recent run, having not been seen for 175 days since being beaten by 2.5 lengths at Nottingham. Faye McManoman retains the ride, but can't claim her usual 5lbs here, so that's going affect the filly's chances off the same mark and the places are probably the best she can hope for here.

Ustath is better than his 0 from 7 Flat record would suggest and has 3 wins and 4 places from 11 starts on the A/W (all at Southwell) since the start of November. He was gutsy stepped up to 7f for the first time three weeks ago, when only beaten by 4.5 lengths and a similar effort off a pound lower could him get involved here.

Harrogate might sound like the champion Arrogate to us Northerners, but that homophone is as close as they'll ever get. This version is 0 from 15 in the last 21 months, making the frame just twice. He has, in fairness, got closer to the winner in his last two starts, going down by just 2 lengths and 1.75 lengths in two 5f runs at Newcastle last month. Unfortunately, his flat mark is 3lbs higher than his last A/W mark, so he's going to have to improve plenty here.

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Alsvinder is a former course and distance winner (July 2018), but has failed to score on any of his last twenty runs! He has, however, continued to run creditably in defeat and was only beaten by three parts of a length last time out. That was over 6f off a mark of 70 just 12 days ago and he might be dangerous here off just 57, if 5f isn't too sharp for him and he'll be aide by one of the better apprentices in the form of Billy Garritty.

Blackcurrent has a win and two third-place finishes from his last four runs, all on the A/W at Southwell, but was beaten by the thick end of eight lengths last time out, seeming to toil from 2f out after a 3lb rise to a mark of 52. He goes off the same mark here and with no disrespect intended to today's jockey Gemma Tutty, he won't have the skills/experience of Hollie Doyle in the saddle to coax him on.

Carlovian is much better on turf than he is on the A/W, but a flat record of 7 from 53 isn't earth shattering either. On the Flat, he has run her eat Catterick more times than anywhere else and has won 3 of his 16 visits, but is 0 from 3 over this 5f C&D. In fact, he's just better over 6f and 7f and I don't fancy his chances here.

Bottom-weight Suwaan runs off a feather light 45, but that's probably because he is 0 from 35 since the end of August 2017! And that would make him a write-off for many readers, but closer analysis shows he has made the frame in 11 of his 27 Flat runs, which at 40.7% is a decent return for a horse with just 1 win from those outings. He ahs only been beaten by an aggregate of 6.5 lengths over his last three runs and whilst he's highly unlikely to win here, he could very well surprise a few by making the frame again.

When we look at the entire field as one and consider their career performances across all spheres, this is what we see...

...lots of amber which is promising and a few splashes of green. Our focus horse, Captain Corcoran looks well suited, as do all of the top five in the weights bar Harrogate to be fair with only Blackcurrent looking like one to avoid at this point. The next thing to consider is actual Flat handicap form, with the obvious caveat that none of them have raced on turf for some time...

Here Ustath doesn't look as good as he did, but we expected that from a 0/7 record all at a higher grade than this, but the flip side is that Carlovian's numbers are improved. There are also some very interesting weight differences here with three runners running off marks much lower than their last win.

From a draw perspective, the sweet spot in similar past races has been stall 3, which is more good news for Alsvinder, with those boxed either side also faring well, so ticks for Nellie & Suwaan here...

It is admittedly a fairly small sample size, but we've a rough idea of where we'd want to be, so how to approach a 5f dash here? Well, essentially, lead or race prominently...

and with those draw and pace stats in hand, we can amalgamate them into the pace/draw heat map...

...which basically says low to mid-draw leaders fare best and it can be a struggle from elsewhere. In fact, low drawn leaders have 2 wins and 3 places from 5 runs, so it's now time to superimpose on to the heatmap how recent history suggests our runners will break out from their respective draws and in draw order...

...we could well have a bit of a tear-up on our hands with four of five going at it from the off. There is, of course, the danger that one or more of them does too much early on and opens the door for Alsvinder and Suwaan to pounce late and only Not On Your Nellie looks inconvenienced, although stall 2is almost as good as she could have hoped for.

Summary

We started by looking at Eric Alston and his gelding Captain Corcoran and I do like the horse here. He's probably as good as anything he faces in this contest, but I'm just concerned that he'll need the run after 196 days off the track, especially as he was well beaten on his 2020 reappearance after 236 days rest, albeit in a better race than this off a higher mark.

I don't think many will beat him, though, if he does lose and I see the main danger coming from Alsvinder, who has ticked boxes all along and I reluctantly make his my preferred pick here ahead of Captain Corcoran. The market would seem to agree at 5.30pm, installing the two as 11/4 and 7/2 principals, but for my third pick, I've got a feeling that something at bigger odds will cause a surprise and make the frame.

To this end, I'm looking at Suwaan and even Ustath at 17/2 and 11/1 respectively. I don't have much between them but the former just shades it and it looks like he's attracting money already. I won't try to dissuade you from having a small E/W (or win & place at the exchanges) tickle on Ustath, but I just feel Suwaan is marginally better placed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racing Insights, 6th April 2021

My top rated pick for Monday, Before Midnight, was a well backed 6/4 winner from an overnight 10/3 price, whilst my E/W fancy Zoffee was third at 9/1. Sadly, there was a non-runner, meaning there was no payout for the placer.

Now to Tuesday, where 'feature of the day' is The Shortlist, whilst our free 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 1.00 Pontefract
  • 2.00 Pontefract
  • 3.10 Bath
  • 8.00 Chelmsford

I think I might hang fire before diving straight into the new Flat season, so we'll assess the last of our four free races, the 8.00 Chelmsford, a 6-runner, Class 5 handicap over 1m2f on the Essex Polytrack and here's how they line up...

Only six are set to go to post, but it looks a fairly open contest as many of these low grade handicaps are, especially when most of the runners have got some fairly recent winning form. The Geegeez ratings' top three are fairly closely matched on score, so it could well be a tight affair with the likes of Morlaix and Eaglesglen probably heading market in the 5/2 to 11/4 type of pricing.

Nawafeth is the only filly in the race. She won on her last start in Ireland, when winning over a mile at Dundalk, but has struggled in three UK runs for her new yard since, albeit in a higher grade than this. She looks the weakest of the six here.

Morlaix has two wins and a place from his last three runs and looks more than capable of going well again if continuing to improve. He's on a career-high mark of 72 here, however and he was beaten by 4.5 lengths over 1m3f at Southwell off 68 and has also failed to make the frame in any of his five previous runs on polytrack.

Bayston Hill certainly loves coming to Chelmsford, having won five times here and also making the frame on four occasions, all from just ten visits and all over course and distance! He did, however struggle off this mark last time out and it is hoped that the return of Dan Muscutt to the saddle will inspire a return to winning ways. Dan is 5 from 18 on the horse and he's riding well right now with two wins and a runner-up finish from his last four rides and it should be noted that the horse also drops in class here.

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Bad Attitude is another with favourable conditions here. He has 2 wins and 2 places from 6 here at Chelmsford and has won three of the five races in which he has been ridden by Kieran O'Neill, plus he's two from three in cheekpieces. That said, he was beaten by just under three lengths last time out (also over C&D), but has been eased a pound for his yard debut for Alice Haynes.

Le Magnifique is difficult to assess based on UK form so far, as all five runs have been over hurdles where in fairness he has acquitted himself quite well. he own a Class 4 contest, finished mid-division in a Listed race and made the frame at Class 2 last time out. He did race on the Flat three times in Germany during 2019/20, sent off three times as favourite, but generally disappointed. He could be something, he could be nothing, best watched I suppose.

Eaglesglen makes up the field carrying bottom weight and is looking quite well treated off a mark of 63, the same as when only beaten by three quarters of a length over course and distance last time out. That was a decent effort coming some 145 days after his previous run, when he won here also over course and distance off 59. He's up in class here, but is entitled to improve for having had that run on Thursday.

A few of these have won inside their last few runs, but Instant Expert is the best guide to relevant form...

Bayston Hill and Bad Attitude certainly show up well there, but only Le Magnifique (with no relevant runs) and Nawafeth look out of contention from that graphic, but the latter does at least run off a mark 5lbs lower than his last win.

In similar 6-runner handicaps, stall 2 seems to have produced more than it's fair share of winners, but I'm not entirely convinced there's a discernible draw bioas here...

...but there is a definite/distinctive pace bias here. The plan has to be to get out and stay out as leaders win far more often than they'd be expected to...

...and this is, of course, reflected in our unique pace/draw heat map...

...which says lead if you can, but if you've not got a low draw and you can't lead, then it's best to hold back for a late run to try and overhaul a tiring pacesetter. As you know by now, we log how every horse runs every race and we can then make an informed assumption of how they might run next time out and we can then overlay this predicted running style onto that heat map above, like this...

...where we expect Eaglesglen to set the fractions, but Bayston Hill in stall 1 has an equally good pace/draw setup, meaning the pace maker won't have all his own way, but will have the opportunity to control the race from the front. Neither Bad Attitude nor Morlaix look particularly well positioned.

Summary

When I started writing the piece, the race tissues suggested a tight affair with Morlaix and Eaglesglen likely to be very closely matched at the head of the market. Based on the write-ups, Eaglesglen at 5/2 was going to be the suggestion, but I've now discovered that he's not going to run after all, which leaves me a little frustrated if I'm honest.

Morlaix is the likely winner, but I really don't want to be backing him at 13/8 and Le Magnifique is already as low as 5/2 in places with no relevant form to rely on, so I can't go there either (not that I was going to!). Nawafeth looks out fo his depth and carries too much weight, which leaves us with Bad Attitude and Bayston Hill. Both love it here, but weren't at their best last out, the latter has a great course and distance record and has abetter pace/draw make-up, so if I was to get involved here, I'd want to be on Bayston Hill. He's 11/2 in places and that's pretty big for him in a 5-runner contest.

 

Racing Insights, 5th April 2021

We had three of the first four home on Saturday and despite my preferred pick failing to complete, we did highlight the eventual 9/2 winner as a good 12/1 E/W bet, so not all was lost!

Easter Monday (yes, we work all through the holidays here!) is next up for us and we make the PACE tab available to ALL readers for ALL races, including our free 'races of the day', which take us to England, Wales and Ireland as follows...

  • 2.05 Fairyhouse
  • 2.35 Chepstow
  • 3.10 Chepstow
  • 4.20 Fairyhouse
  • 4.40 Cork
  • 5.25 Plumpton

And it's the second of the two Welsh contests that interests me most, the 3.10 Chepstow, an 8-runner, Class 2 handicap chase over two miles on good ground and the horses aiming to land the £10,034 top prize are...

Amoola Gold is having a great season, having won at Wetherby in October after 229 days off track before following up in a Listed event at Ascot. He was then second in two subsequent races after successive rises of 6lbs and 5lbs before the final combined straw of another 3lb rise and the step up to Grade 3 racing saw him finish 8th of 19, 18 lengths off the pace in the Grand Annual at the recent Cheltenham Festival. he's back down in class here, but might still find his unchanged mark of 146 a little too much to bear. A positive stat is that his jockey is 7 from 34 here at Chepstow over the last five years, including 7 from 31 for trainer Dan Skelton.

Ashutor was also well beaten in the Grand Annual, a place and a length and three quarters further back than Amoola Gold. Prior to that, however, he had taken well to chasing, finishing 21132 in five efforts and with a 2lb drop in weight to a mark of 137, he could go close again here.

Larry was a reasonable Class 3/4 hurdler back in 2018 and had a decent early 2019 over fences finishing 1421, including a win at this level off a mark 3lbs higher than today, but struggled in two runs in November 2019 and hasn't been seen since. Highly likely that he'll need the run here and is probably best watched.

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Vado Forte was knocking on the door for some time ahead of landing his first chase success at Doncaster back in December, but hasn't kicked on in three runs since and although he's now only a pound higher than that win, he's probably best avoided up in class, even if the yard is 11/44 here over the last five years and his jockey is 12/65 in the same period.

Before Midnight arrives here in good consistent form on the back of landing his third bumper win from four attempts. Yet to get off the mark after six cracks at fences, but the fact he has finished 2232 in his last four suggests he's on the verge of winning soon, especially off the same mark as his last two runs. His yard are going well too with 5 wins from 12 in the last month, whilst the Trainer/Jockey record of 6 from 15 over the last year is excellent.

Zoffee was more comfortable than a length would suggest when winning over fences for the first time at Exeter in a 3-horse race back in October, but hasn't really progressed in three outings since and has been pulled up ands then beaten by over 15 lengths in his last two. He is, however, on a much more workable mark of 128, some 4lbs lower than that win, so a return to form wouldn't be out of the question here.

Solar Impulse is an interesting/difficult one to assess. He's not getting any younger at 11 yrs of age and has only won 4 off 4 over fences. His career stats say he shouldn't be anywhere near winning this one either, but won off this mark six races and eight months ago and then made the frame on his next two contests. A couple of poor efforts followed, but he was a decent runner-up last out, less than 3 lengths off the pace. Having made the frame on five of his last seven, you'd have to consider him, but I'm worried about him possibly needing a run stepping up in class after 16 weeks off the track.

Court Royale was a reasonable hurdler winning 3 of his 11 starts and has already won twice over fences from his last six outings and although he made the frame last out, he was beaten by more than 16 lengths at Class 4. He's up two classes here and runs from a pound outside the handicap and I expect this to be a bit of a struggle for him.

We don't actually have a great deal of relevant chase handicap form but here's what we do have...

...and if I'm honest that doesn't correlate perfectly with what I've written above actually doesn't show the ones in a great light that I thought would be the main protagonists, although the weight for Zoffee is interesting at 4lbs lower than his last win. Hopefully there's more for us via an assessment of the pace data ...

...which also shows Zoffee in a very good light and doesn't actually favour any of the others.

Summary

I feel like I've done half a job here or only achieved half of what I set tout to do, but race analysis is often like this. I chose this race, because it's a Class 2 contest which should be a decent standard and it looked a tight competitive affair where I felt that at least half the field could well lay claims to winning.

For the record, before I starting writing my head was saying it was between Amoola Gold, Ashutor, Before Midnight and Zoffee. After I did the write-ups, I felt the same way, but only Zoffee backed up my thoughts on Instant Expert and via the pace tab.

However, none of the other four have forced their way into my thinking, so I've no real reason to change my opinion. On my own ratings that I standardise to a maximum score of 100, I've got the four separated by just 3.7pts with scores of 75, 73.4, 71.9 and 70.3 and I've got them in this order...

...Before Midnight / Zoffee / Ashutor / Amoola Gold, but there's so little in it that I believe any of the four can win and the four could finish in any order. That seems a little unhelpful, but the data hasn't simplified the race enough for me, so I'll not be advising a bet on the winner here, although at 7/1 Zoffee is the value play and I might just have a small flutter!

 

 

Racing Insights, 3rd April 2021

No shirking off on Good Friday here with racing to cover for Easter Saturday. We'll be aided in our quest by free access to the wonderful Trainer/Jockey Combo report as well as the following races of the day...

  • 1.30 Haydock
  • 3.35 Musselburgh
  • 4.33 Carlisle
  • 4.55 Cork
  • 5.30 Cork
  • 8.00 Wolverhampton

I haven't got many qualifiers from my settings on the Trainer/Jockey Combo report, so I'm looking at the free race list and whilst it's not the best of the six on offer, I'm going with the one that looks the most open, the 4.33 Carlisle. It's a 10-runner, Class 4, 2m4.5f Handicap Chase on good to soft ground and here's how they'll line up...

Kayf Adventure carries top weight here, but is the highest rated on the Geegeez ratings. A fairly useful chaser for Philip Hobbs from 2015 to early 2020. Ran adequately well in a couple of hurdles races and a bumper for his new yard before reverting to fences a fortnight ago to be beaten by just 3.5 lengths here at Carlisle. Now down in class and weight plus aided by a 3lb jockey claim, he could be closer still today.

Caltex won by 22 lengths over fences back in February 2020 off a mark of 118 and was raised 9lbs for it and has struggled in his half dozen races since. His jumping is generally sound and his mark has now eased to just a pound higher than that easy win at Leicester. His yard have had 3 winners and 3 placers from 14 in the past fortnight, whilst his jockey has made the frame in 11 of 18 rides in the past month. Place claims again here.

Cooking Fat last won over fences off a mark 2lbs lower than he is now, but that was 33 months ago. He hasn't tackled a fence in almost two years and it's 28 months since he last completed a chase and has only raced three times since then. I'd want him to complete a chase again before i would think about backing him.

Do Wanna Know won two of his three starts last season, all in Novice Hurdles, falling in the one he didn't win and including winning a 2-horse match at odds of 1/25. This season's form has more letters than numbers and that's never a good sign, as his jumping has been suspect. I can't back back a horse with 3 falls and 2 pulled-up runs from his last 7 outings, even if his stablemates are running far better than him (2 wins, 3 places from 10 in the last fortnight)

Uptown Harry got off the mark in a maiden hurdle at Kelso just after Christmas 2019 and was a runner-up beaten by just 2.5 lengths here at Carlisle over course and distance at this fixture a year ago on his chasing debut, a result he repeated last time out three weeks ago. In-form Ross Chapman (won on Bafana Blue this week) jumps back into the saddle as this 7 yr old wears cheekpieces for the first time off the same mark as LTO. Looks to have a great chance here.

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Kalaharry is still relatively unexposed over fences after just three efforts, but was beaten by five lengths here over shorter in mid-February and then by ten lengths at Ayr a month ago. He does drop in class here, though, potentially making this an easier contest, but based on his more extensive hurdles form, I think he needs further and on softer ground, but Class 4 is definitely his realm. He also seems to fare better in bigger fields.

Blow By Blow might well be dropping two grades here, but he still looks outclassed to me. He hasn't run in over 14 months since going down by 114 lengths in the Edinburgh National and he's certainly not the horse deemed worthy of a string of Class 1 runs in 2018/19. He has failed to complete of has come home last in seven of his last ten and is best avoided here.

Pookie Pekan seems to have lost his way somewhat. In great form during 2018 and 2019, but ended the 19/20 season tamely finishing last of 5, beaten by 31L. This season hasn't gone well either and his last four runs have seen him pulled up twice and then beaten by 25L and 20L. Others hold more appeal here, even of his yard are going quite well of late (2 wins, 3 places from 10 in the last fourteen days)

Ettila de Sivola is another struggling to repeat last season's form which saw him win at Newcastle and then only be beaten by 3 lengths and 6 lengths off 5lbs higher. he was 8th on his reappearance here at Carlisle back in October, 48L off the pace and has been pulled up and then beaten by 26 lengths in two shorter runs since. Jockey Danny McMenamin might well be averaging a strike rate over 20% of late, but even his talents won't get this one home upped in trip.

Doktor Glas, however, might see this as his best chance of one last win at the age of 11. A winner here over course and distance at this meeting three years ago, he was then off the track for 950 days and was only beaten by 5.5 lengths as a runner-up despite stepping up in weight and class. he has finished third and fourth since and not humiliated in either, so might have an outside chance here off 2lbs lower and receiving weight all round.

*

As ever, Instant Expert will highlight relevant chasing form...

...and the takeaways for me from above are Kayf Adveture's win at this class and the fact he's 13lbs lower than his last win. Caltex is 2 from 5 in this grade, whilst Pookie Pekan would have every chance if he could recapture his old form. Doktor Glaz probably stands out here, but hasn't raced much in the last three years.

In similar races here in the past, horses who like to lead have done very well, but not quite as well as those racing in mid-division., as you can see here...

My inference from reading between the lines is that prominent racers end up doing too much to try and keep close to the leaders making them susceptible from mid-division runners from behind, whilst those held-up are left with too much to do up the hill to the finish. The place strike rates of leader/mid-division runners would also appear to back up my theory (but it is just a theory!).

We have, of course, looked at how these runners have run in their past four outings and should they stick to previous tactics, then we think they'll break out like this...

...which looks good for Kayf Adventure, but not for Cooking Fat!

Summary

My task of narrowing the 10-runner field down to a workable shortlist of three or four runners is made easier today by the fact that I simply don't like/fancy many of them! I think I'd seen enough after the write-ups to narrow it down to four runners : Caltex, Doktor Glaz, Kayf Adventure and Uptown Harry.

I've split these four runners into two distinct groups, the battle for first place and who gets third. The two that I like most from a win perspective are Kayf Adventure and Uptown Harry and if I'm honest, I have very very little between them, but Kayf Adventure might get to dictate this race from the front and if that happens, then the 10/1 on offer from Hills might be huge, so it's Kayf Adventure ahead of Uptown Harry for me.

As for third place, I also didn't have much between Caltex and Doktor Glaz, but if pushed to split them, I'd just about keep them in that order with Caltex looking quite appealing as a 12/1 E/W shot with Bet365.

So, a couple of nice double-digit punts if I've read it correctly. It could be a big if, of course!

Racing Insights, 2nd April 2021

Friday's fabulous free feature is the Horses For Courses report, whilst our 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 2.00 Lingfield
  • 2.15 Newcastle
  • 4.07 Chelmsford
  • 5.07 Chelmsford

I think I'll take a break from full race profiling today and have a look at my qualifiers from the Horses For Courses report...

...which gives me three horses across two races.

We'll start with the 5.15 Lingfield, a Class 2 handicap over 7f...

...where Count Otto heads the Geegeez ratings and comes here on a hat-trick after back to back wins on this track over 6f at Class 3 and then at this class/trip last time out sixteen days ago. In fact, his last eight outings over the past four months have all been here at Lingfield and he has three wins and a place from those. His win last time out was a career best effort off a mark of 88, but another 3lbs might not be enough to anchor him in his current mood. That said, he'll have plenty of opposition here today!

Instant Expert gives us an overview of his past record in similar conditions to today...

...and as you can see, he's pretty well suited to the task ahead. Overall he's actually 6 from 22 (27.3% SR) on the A/W and they include 5/19 when not the fav, 5/16 after 8-30 days rest, 4/12 when sent off at 6/1 and shorter and 3/5 in blinkers. He hasn't run on the A/W during April or May before, but he is 5 from 12 during January to March.

He's drawn in stall 9 and whilst there's no massive draw bias here at Lingfield for this contest, stall 9 does look a handy place to be, based on the win and place stats below...

Being well drawn is one thing, of course, but it's also very important to tackle the race in the right way, especially in a decent standard, big-field contest. We see so many runners trying and ultimately failing to win from too back here at Lingfield and that's not anecdotal evidence either. As you've come to expect, we have the data to back it up!

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...basically lead! And if you can't lead, try to keep handy.

That said, because there's no distinct draw bias, you can win from anywhere here at Lingfield and the most advantageous pace/draw setup is actually a mid-drawn (stalls 6 to 9) racing in mid-division or maybe slightly further advanced...

We already know that Count Otto has bagged one of those central stalls, but how will he run? Well, based on his last four outings, out pace/draw heatmap has him like this...

...which looks a pretty favourable place to be. So he's in good nick, has good stats in similar contests and is well drawn. His running style works well with his draw and he should have every chance. He would, however, be setting a new best to win off a mark of 91 and he's in a big field of useful sorts. Something for me to ponder.

*

But before I make a decision on Count Otto, I want/need to head to the 5.30 Newcastle, a Class 4 5f sprint across the Tapeta...

...where we have two H4C possibles to consider.

Kind Review comes here in better form than Another Angel and also tops the Geegeez ratings, so you'd expect him to be the more likely to succeed here, but let's look more closely.

Since the 7th October of last year, Kind Review has only raced here at Newcastle, making the frame seven times from nine starts and going on to win three of them, the most recent a career-best effort to land a Class 3, 5f sprint off a mark of 78. He's up 3lbs for that win, but does drop in class here and in fairness, he made all last time out and controlled the race from the front. He could well have won by much further.

Another Angel, on the other hand, has now gone 13 races without a win since scoring in a Class 5, 5f sprint here seven months ago off a mark of 69. A subsequent 6lb rise was too much for him and his mark has gradually crept back down to the point where he was back off 69 in Class 5, 5f sprint here last time out, but he could only finish 7th of 10, two lengths off the pace. He's up in class here off the same mark, so that would suggest he's going to struggle.

And now over to Instant Expert for race-relevant stats...

Once again, Kind Review has the edge here and the only slight negative is his A/W record at Class 4, I suppose. But of the 5 defeats at this grade, he has made the frame four times and has won one of two Class 3 runs. He has three wins and four places from nine under today's jockey Tom Eaves here at Newcastle and has won three times and placed once from the five occasions he was sent off at 4/1 or shorter here in the past.

In Another Angel's defence, he's now back to his last winning mark and has an impressive 7 wins and 6 places from 23 efforts over course and distance, although it is some time since he last won and the market is usually a very good indicator of how well he's going to fare.

The pair are drawn alongside each other in stalls 5 and 6 and he draw stats for this type of contest are a little strange with the 17 wins being very evenly distributed across six stalls, yet those in boxes 4 and 6 have failed to win...

...I'm happy to overlook the zeroes and suggest the draw doesn't play a massive factor here for winners, but if you're looking for an E/w bet, then stalls 5 to 7 do seem to do well from a place perspective.

As for running styles, my initial thought is that you can win from most places in the pack, but don't loiter/dawdle at the back, as it's tough to win here (and most places!) over 5f from the back of the field...

And when align the running style stats with the draw stats, a clearer picture begins to form. Those not drawn high should try to lead, those drawn high should let the others lead and drop in behind and if you must be held-up, pray for a low draw!

All that we need to do now is look at how our pair have run recently and drop them onto that heatmap as follows...

...that would suggest that both look well positioned but Kind Review could do even better further forward. A closer look at his last three running style show scores of 4, 2 and 4, where 4 = led. Line that up with his form of 121 and you see he does best when leading. It's also useful to note that the two wins were over this 5f course and distance, whilst the defeat albeit by just a head came over 6f when he was held back off the pace. I suspect he'll be closer to the front that the heatmap might suggest.

Summary

Two A/W sprints to consider, 7f on the polytrack at Lingfield and then a 5f dash across Newcastle's tapeta strip.

Count Otto goes in a decent looking contest, as you'd expect on Good Friday at Lingfield and I'm very confident that he makes the frame. In fact I've got it down to him and Lord of the Lodge. I have a marginal preference for Count Otto here and 5/1 looks fair, whilst the Lord is available at 7/1.

Fifteen minutes later at Newcastle, we have two runners and Kind Review looks far more likely than Another Angel. In fact, they could well finish first and last! That's a little harsh on Another Angel, of course, who clearly has ability, but really needs to step up to get involved. he could make the frame, but I don't fancy him here, not even at 12/1. Kind Review, on the other hand, looks very much like a winner and whilst the 15/8 on offer in places is a touch skinny, you can get 9/4 about him.

So, two races and hopefully two winners. That would be a Good Friday!

 

Racing Insights, 1st April 2021

Wednesday's race ended up a four-runner affair that lacked any real pace after Stainsby Girl And Cash Again were both withdrawn with the eventual 11/10 favourite Bavington Bob winning a tight tactical affair.

Thursday marks the start of the new month and hopefully Geegeez readers will be no fools after using the free feature of the day, which is access to Instant Expert for ALL races, including our 'races of the day' which are set to be...

  • 1.45 Wetherby
  • 3.50 Wetherby
  • 4.45 Uttoxeter
  • 4.50 Chelmsford
  • 5.00 Clonmel

And it's off to Wetherby we go for the second of those races listed above. The 3.50 Wetherby is an 8-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 3m1.5f on good ground and they line up as follows...

My initial expectation is that with Sigurd clearly being the form horse here, he'll be very popular and a fairly warm favourite. The rest of the field look pretty well matched, so my aim is to (a) see if Sigurd is a worthy favourite and (b) hopefully identify one at a reasonable price to make the frame.

Bafana Blue won five times and finished a runner-up once in a run of seven chases from mid-April to mid-November in 2019 and although a runner-up on his reappearance in September 2020, hasn't looked the same horse since and although he's on a mark lower than both of his last two wins, I'd be looking elsewhere for a winner today.

Billy Bronco looks a forlorn hope on his recent form line that is littered with P's, but most of his running of late has been at a higher grade, over a longer trip or both. His best recent run was at Hereford two starts ago, when dropped back down to todays trip/class where he was a runner-up on soft ground. He's not the most reliable, of course, but a similar run to two starts ago puts him in the mix in this modest-looking field and he does head the Geegeez ratings.

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What A Moment is another who ran well two starts ago, but struggled last time out. He was only touched off by a short head at Plumpton at the start of last mont, but was poor at Kempton 12 days ago, finishing last of five. A bit like the horse above, it will depend which version turns out here, if it's the Plumpton run then he has every chance of being involved, if it's the run from Kempton LTO, he might as well stay home.

Station Master has ability but his temperament is questionable. he does have a tendency to fold if things aren't going his way and also sometimes when they are! He didn't seem interested when pulled on his last run in November 2019 and then his first run of 2020, being pulled up on both occasions. He was then third at Southwell before going down by just nine lengths at Class 3, before heading to Carlisle for another Class 3 contest in October. he was a clear second approaching the last and refused to jump it and on his only run since, was beaten by 59 lengths back at this grade. Not one for the faint hearted to back.

Elixir du Gouet was a handy hurdler/chaser in France winning three times and finishing as runner-up once in seven starts, but hasn't hit those heights at all in the UK, where he has made the frame just once in five races. He was pulled up on his Uk debut and has since been beaten by 34L, 23L, 51L and then by 124L LTO. That was back in December, he has only raced twice in the last two years and hasn't raced beyond 2m4.5f. He has weakened quickly in his last couple and I don't see him staying this trip.

Top Up The Fashion was a creditable second at Fakenham two starts ago, not helped by a loose horse causing him issues 3 from home over this trip. I'm not suggesting that caused him to lose by 12 lengths but he was going well and would probably have been closer at the finish but for being hampered. That was back in mid-November and then he didn't run again for over 15 weeks before re-appearing at Doncaster almost four weeks ago. He looked like he needed the run that day and was eventually pulled up before 4 out in first time blinkers. The blinkers are back on and it is hoped he comes on for having had the run.

Sigurd will no doubt be the main attraction here, having won three of his last five, but it should be pointed out that he failed to complete the other two races and that prior to this purple patch he had won just 2 of his 40 career starts. Add in the fact that he's 9lbs higher for winning here off 100 over C&D 24 days ago and was pulled up off 102 twice already this season. In fact he's won just one of sixteen off a mark higher than 100 so far and now steps up in class.

Lough Salt completes the line-up and receives plenty of weight all round, but he'll need it! 0 from 16 so far over fences and winless in his last 30 races overall since landing a 3m Class 3 hurdle here in mid-October 2017. Has made the frame in three of his last six, though, but failed to complete the other three. Now on a career-low mark, he's as likely to make the frame as he is to finish nowhere, such is his unreliability.

*

Well, I had to second-check the racecard after those write-ups to see if it really was a Class 4 contest, as it's got low-level Class 5 written all over it and shouldn't take a lot of winning. Unfortunately, this bunch aren't known as winners with a combined strike rate of just 12.6% (25 from 198) and a place record of 31.8% (63/198), but Instant Expert will tell us if their past wins are relevant in this contest..

...and it doesn't tell us too much, but I was surprised at Bafana Blue's consistency, although his data would have looked much better a year ago. Sigurd doesn't look a warm favourite on that data above either. Racing off a career-high mark at a higher level than he's been successful at previously might prove difficult here.

We don't have an abundance of pace data for similar contests here at Wetherby, but I can tell that those who want to lead and those who want to hang back tend to struggle with those racing just behind the pace or in mid-division faring best. What we do have. however, is how these horses have raced in the past and based on their last four runs, we expect they'll run as follows...

What I think might well happen here is that Station Master and Top Up The fashion will attempt to set the pace and take each other on, leaving the door open for the likes of Billy Bronco and Sigurd to overhaul them later on. Once passed, neither seem to have the resilience to hold on for a place and will probably both be susceptible to others coming from further back as the pack closes in.

Summary

I think, as I said above that Billy Bronco & Sigurd will overhaul the leaders and I think it's between this pair as to who wins. On my figures/reckoning, Sigurd is the better horse and probably just about shades it, but I've already stated my reservations about him. He'll probably go on to win, but is he a 2/1 horse here? I'm not sure.

Billy Bronco looks good for a place, though and at 11/2 would be a nice price if he could beat the fav and as for one from the pack to finish third, I think I like What A Moment most for that role, if he's in the mood for it. The booking of Tom Scudamore is a positive there and they're currently 5/1.