Tag Archive for: Sandown racecourse

Racing Insights, 15th September 2021

Wednesday's free feature is the marvellous Trainer Stats report which is in fact, four reports in one. It contains information on a trainer’s recent form, and their longer term course form. For each of 14 day, 30 day, course one year and course five year, users can filter by runs, wins, places, win profit/loss and each way profit/loss.

We also have a selection of free racecards, which are...

  • 2.35 Beverley
  • 2.55 Sandown
  • 3.30 Sandown
  • 3.45 Sligo
  • 6.30 Kelso

I don't have many qualifiers on my Trainer Stats report today...

...there's a Class 1 race in the free list, so we'll take a look at that. It's the 3.30 Sandown, which is a 10-runner Listed race for horses aged 3 or over. The trip is a mile, we're expecting good to soft ground and these are the runners competing for a first prize of almost £29.5k...

With so many races to consider on a daily basis I aim to quickly work through each in less than a couple of minutes and I approach races in different ways. One of the quicker methods I use is a basic process of elimination, where I just cross runners off as I go along, leaving me with a small number to consider at the end before deciding whether I want to back any or not. Sometimes there's a bet and sometimes there isn't and that's perfectly fine not to have a bet.

So, starting with the card above, I don't like Qaysar here as he's only had the odd good run in a dozen or so over the last 15 months and he's up in class after being well beaten in a lower grade LTO. He's also joint worst off at the weights based on handicap marks. Accidental Agent is another struggling for form and is more of a Class 2/3 handicapper nowadays and steps up in class from a defeat at Class 3 LTO. He's certainly not the horse that won the Queen Anne back in 2018 anyway and with negatives against both trainer and jockey, he's out of my thinking here leaving me with eight to consider going into Instant Expert...

...where the thing I see first is a line of red for Escobar. 0/7 on good to soft and a poor record at trip and class puts him in the firing line for me here. A quick check at his overall recent form tells me that he hasn't won for almost two years despite having 18 outings. He's 0 from 10 this season, of which 8 were at Class 2, so he's out too. Positives from IE are Mostahdaf's small number of runs/wins.

This leaves us with runners in stalls 1-3, 5 and  7-9 and the draw stats would suggest that those in stalls 5 to 8 would be best favoured...

...which is good for Brunch, Mostahdaf and Bell Rock from who I've got left. We talk a lot about pace here at geegeez and how important it is, but I should stress this doesn't necessarily mean we're looking for the fastest runner (although the one completing the race quickest wins!), we're looking for race positioning / tactics ie who has the best race/pace management and in this type of race, we're told that the further forward you race, the more chance you have of making the frame...

...but that leaders often get swallowed up and only 23.5% of placers who lead actually go on to win. Prominent racers win more often than any other racing style and they convert 35.6% of their places into wins. Mid-division runners have an IV of 1.03, meaning they win slightly more often than expected and their place to win conversion rate is a solid 34.5% whilst hold up horses fare poorest of all. Yes, they might win very slightly more often than leaders, but their 29% record for placers is poor.

Ideally you want a horse with an average pace score of 2 to 3 for win purposes or just over 3 for placing and here's how our runners have scored in their last four outings...

The problem we have here is not that none of these fit the bill from a pace/draw perspective, but that too many of them do and there's no natural leader of the pack...

Bullace led (4) four starts ago, but that is the only score of four in the entire field's last four runs, so this race is likely to be falsely run ie some horses will have to run differently to usual : they can't all run in mid-division.


Generally, my rule is that if a race is likely to be falsely run, you walk away from it and that would be my advice. If you still wanted a bet, then recent form, Instant Expert and that unknown 'gut feeling' will play their parts.

For me, it's a no bet race, but if I was to pick one, I think that aside from his last run when well beaten in a much stronger race, Mostahdaf ticks more boxes than any of the others and that's probably why he's the 11/4 fav. Has a great chance here, but won't carry my money. Powder dry for Thursday, I'd suggest.

PS I only know it's a no bet race for me after I typed it all out, I do the piece in real time, you see.

Racing Insights, 27th May 2021

The weather denied trainer Mark Walford the chance to improve upon an already very good record at Beverley today after a deluge rendered the track unfit for racing, so we've nothing to report upon from Wednesday, so let's move swiftly to Thursday, whose 'feature of the day' is full access to Instant Expert for ALL readers for ALL races, including, of course, the 'races of the day', which are scheduled to be...

  • 1.30 Worcester
  • 2.30 Ripon
  • 7.25 Sandown
  • 8.00 Sandown
  • 8.30 Sandown

The first of the three Sandown races is the best of that bunch, but it's only a 5-runner contest, so I'm going to focus on the next one down. We've got what looks like a very open race on soft/heavy ground, it's a Class 3, 4yo+ handicap over a mile for £5,927. Here are the 10 runners set to tackle the 8.00 Sandown...

Form : History Writer, Gin Palace and Sword beach are the only runners winless in their last five starts. Semser & Epic Endeavour both won last time out.
Down in Class : History Writer, Mustarrid & Newbolt drop down one level
Up in Class : Epic Endeavour moves up one class, whilst both Semser & Sword Beach take two steps.
Course/Distance records : Ransom & Semser are the only two yet to win over this trip, whilst History Writer is the only previous course winner.
Days Since Last Run : Seven of the field have raced in the last month. Newbolt has raced this season, 29 days ago, but Semser & Epic Endeavour are returning from long layoffs of 174 and 220 days respectively.
Age : Seven of the field are aged 4 with Gin Palace (5),  History Writer (6) and Mustarrid (7) the exceptions
Trainer/Jockey form : History Writer, Dashing Roger, Newbolt and ransom are the ones with positive icons on the card
SR ratings : With a rating of 94, Epic Endeavour is 6pts clear of both History Writer and Dashing Roger, but with three others rated 87, 83 & 82, I'm expecting a tight race.

History Writer carries top weight here, running off a mark of 93, just 2lbs higher than his last winning mark, also over this C&D. Just 2 wins and 5 places from 23 starts and no soft ground form doesn't scream "back me", but I think this six year old is better than results might suggest, as 15 of those 23 races have been at a higher grade than this. Both wins have come from 13 runs at this trip and he has 2 wins and 2 places from six visits to Sandown, where he has finished 1317 over C&D.

Dashing Roger hasn't got near the heights of his 2020 campaign just yet where he won 4 and placed in another 4 of his 12 starts, but has finished last of 7, last of 18 and 4th of 8 in three runs this term. That fourth place LTO was a step back towards some kind of form, but more is needed here and others look in better nick, although he does love the mud.

Mustarrid has a good record in soft/heavy conditions, but all of his best work has been at lower grades than today. He ran well enough at Haydock upon his return last month, but was disappointingly last home of 6 at Nottingham four days ago and although this is a drop in class, I don't see having much of a say in proceedings.

Epic Endeavour was definitely an improver last season, finishing 1211 in his last four outings, including a win at this grade, a win at this trip and two wins on soft ground and he'd be one of the main contenders here under normal circumstances. Two slight reservations from me are that he hasn't raced for 220 days and he's up 6lbs from his last run, but there's every possibility that he hasn't stopped progressing. Interesting sort.

Newbolt had a decent winter finishing 3212 in and around today's trip, albeit mainly at Class 4. The last of those runs saw him beaten by just three parts of a length at this class/trip on the A/W at Southwell before he took a 15-week break. He returned at Newbury in April for the Spring Cup (Class 2), but was out of his depth there and despite now being down in class and 3lbs lower, I'm not keen on his chances here.

Ransom is a bit of an unknown quantity in so much as he's lightly raced (just 3 starts) and has never run on turf. He's by Kingman and so you'd expect him to "get" turf and also this trip, but after winning two Class 5 contests over 7f, he was turned over by 3.75 lengths at this grade and now steps up in trip and the going might be his undoing.

Imperial Command has had a great winter/spring on the A/W up at Newcastle, winning three of five, but was only ninth in a tight race over 1m2f at this grade last time out. 9th of 11 might be a tad harsh after getting beaten by just 2.25 lengths over a mile and a quarter having weakened in the final furlong. The drop back in trip should help him here and he is 143 in 3 efforts on soft ground. I'm sure he'll give a good account of himself, but I like others more.

Gin Palace has a respectable 5 wins from 17 on the Flat, but has been beaten in his last six since winning over a mile at Class 2 off today's mark at Newmarket back in June of last year. Signs of a return to form were apparent when beaten by just 3.75 lengths at Ascot off 2lbs higher last time out and he could well make the frame here.

Semser is another unexposed type, who made the frame in all three runs for Roger Varian before being shipped off to France, where he only actually ran once for Francis-Henri Graffard, winning over 1m1f on the A/W at Lyon-la Soie. Now makes a yard debut for Gary Moore and whilst I don't know enough about him to put money down, I'll be watching interestedly.

Sword Beach completed the line-up and runs from a pound out of the handicap, he has won just one of 18 starts to date and is winless since landing a 1m Class 3 handicap on soft ground at York in October 2019, losing 11 races since. He's now on a career-low mark, some 10lbs lower than that win and although he should be competitive off 74, he's hard to like, even if he has run well on soft ground.

When the ground gets soft or "worse", form can often go out of the window and horses proven on the underfoot conditions are boosted. Feature of the Day Instant Expert is the quickest and easiest way of comparing a whole field under expected conditions from a win perspective...

...where Mustarrid and Epic Endeavour's soft ground wins are highlighted. We've no real Class 3 specialists and only History Writer has won here (2 x C&D wins). Dashing Roger and Gin Palace have the best one-mile records. Weight-wise, only Sword Beach is rated lower than the last win, with Imperial Command really up against it, as is Mustarrid.

I also realise that there aren't too many wins in that snapshot above, but we can also look at place form as follows...

...and whilst a swathe of green doesn't take us any closer to picking a winner, I use the place element of IE from a negative angle to weed out those who don't place, as if they don't place, they're not as likely to win!

*Note, Semser and Ransom have no relevant form.

When I look at the draw (I've used 8-12 runners on soft to heavy to give me some workable figures), I don't think there's a huge, discernible draw bias...

...but there's definitely a pace bias, where you don't want to be too far off the pace before the final half mile, which is a straight uphill run that will sap the energy of any runner needing to play catch up and in expected soft/heavy conditions here, sitting off the pace could well be game over from a long way out.

That lack of discernible draw bias allied to the need to be prominent is documented in the pace/draw heatmap, which would suggest low drawn runners seie the lead with mid-drawn runners tucking in behind them just ahead of those drawn high...

...and when we overlay the running styles of our horses and arrange the field in stall order, we can make an educated guess as to how they might break out in the early stages...

...where it looks like Epic Endeavour will be keen to get on with things, giving the likes of Dashing Roger and Newbolt something to set their sights on.


I did initially fancy the likes of Epic Endeavour, Gin Palace and History Writer, but I'm not sure about the latter pair now after seeing the pace stats and neither are in great form, so almost by default, Epic Endeavour is my pick today. I'm taking a gamble on his fitness, but he ended last season in great form, he looks progressive, loves the mud and has a great pace/draw make-up.

As for dangers to the selection, Dashing Roger looks like getting towed along by the leader and his own soft/heavy ground form is very good and if he can hold on, has a good chance of making the frame at a decent price. After that, I don't know enough about Ransom/Semser in these conditions, so I might just take a punt on Imperial Command. All the pace in the race is directly to his right and if he gets pulled along, his soft ground experience might just carry him into the frame at big odds!

So, it's a moderately confident shout about Epic Endeavour at 6/1 and two tentative E/W punts on Dashing Roger and Imperial Command at 12/1 and 20/1 respectively. The bookies don't agree with me, but surely they can't always be right?

Quick heads-up... I've got some family duties on Thursday and Friday, so it'll be late evening both days before this piece goes live, but don't worry, it WILL be here!

Racing Insights, 23rd April 2021

Close but no cigar at Warwick today, as two of my three against the field were the first two home, but the one I thought might win was disappointing. The main thing is that we identified the first two home via the Geegeez toolbox and it was only my own 'gut feeling' that let us down!

Friday's fabulous free feature is the Horses for Courses report, showing runners who have excelled at a given track in the past and our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 1.05 Doncaster
  • 1.50 Sandown
  • 2.25 Sandown
  • 2.30 Cork
  • 3.15 Perth
  • 7.35 Chepstow

The second of our Sandown offerings looks an interesting, top quality race, so my focus today is going to be on the 2.25 Sandown, a 7-runner, Group 3 contest for 4yo+ over 1m2f on good ground (firmer in places) worth a decent £25,520 to one of these...

As you'd expect for a Group 3 contest, plenty of 1's in the runners' form lines, but only Waldkonig has had a UK run this season. The others are coming off UK breaks of six months or more. Class-wise, Waldkonig's seasonal reappearance was a Class 2 handicap, whilst Winter Reprise has only made two Class 5 Novice starts to date, so this is a big step up.

Desert Encounter ran creditably last season despite not managing to win a race, but he did win three Group 3 races in a row in Autumn 2019. I wouldn't want to totally write him off, but at 9yrs old, it's likely his best form is now behind him and he's likely to be swamped by the young guns here.

Extra Elusive won back to back group 3 1m2f contests last August and ended his last campaign with a 9 length defeat in the Qipco Champions Stakes. Has made one appearance on the dirt in Riyadh since, but was beaten by some 31 lengths two months ago. He's better than that for sure, but probably not good enough to land this.

Highest Ground will be well liked here, as many sons of Frankel are. He beat the re-opposing Waldkonig by 2.5 lengths in a Class 5 novice race at Haydock last June off equal weights, but went down by a neck to Thunderous (who also runs here) in the Dante at York on ground that might have been a little soft for his liking that day, a theory backed up by the way he floundered on soft ground last time out. Big chances here on quicker ground, though, as his trainer looks to win this race for a fourth successive year.

Hukum has progressed nicely since finishing third on debut nineteen months ago, winning a Class 4, 1m novice race in his only other race as a 2 yr old. He opened up last season's campaign with back to back wins (C2, 1m4f & Gr3, 1m5.5f) before fading in the final furlong to a four length defeat in the St Leger. On paper, this is an easier task and he's technically best in at the weights, but I'm concerned the trip might be a little sharp/short.

Thunderous has four wins and a runner-up finish from his five career starts to date, having been beaten by 1.75 lengths in a Listed contest on last season's first run, but he bounced back well to land the Gr 2 Dante at York twelve days later. If ready to fire first up, he'll have a serious chance here and he's be unfazed by the ground as he has won on good to firm and soft ground!

Waldkonig (Forest King in German) has only raced four times to date, making the frame each time and winning twice. This will be tougher than his seasonal pipe-opener where he coated to a Class 2 handicap win at Pontefract earlier this month blowing away the cobwebs of a 41-week absence. This is by far the toughest race he's had so far, but he will be aided by the presence of a certain Mr Dettori in the saddle who shows no sign of easing up and who has won 88 of 308 (28.6% SR, A/E 1.11) Class 1 races over the last three seasons, including 8 from 18 (44.4% SR, A/E 1.33) here at Sandown.

Winter Reprise completes the line-up and probably will do so when the results are published. Just two UK runs to date, both Class 5 Novice contests where he was beaten by 18 lengths and 5.25 lengths before finishing second in a maiden in France at Clairefontaine, beaten by just half a length. Since then he was been gelded ahead of winning a 1m2f maiden Chantilly, but was last of six in a Listed race at the same track/trip 24 days later. He ended his season with a short neck defeat on the A/W at Deauville. I think this race is too good for him and on a surface too quick for him.

At this point, I'm least keen on Winter Reprise with doubts about Extra Elusive and Desert Encounter.

Next up is composite form analysis / race suitability via Instant Expert...

...which actually springs very few surprises. Desert Encounter, Extra Elusive and Winter Reprise once again don't look as good as their rivals. Highest Ground and Waldkonig lack a Class 1 win, but the former was runner-up in the Dante and the latter was third in a Listed race. Little previous track form to consider and most have a least one win at similar trips.


Despite the upward rise of the blue line, I'm not convinced there's a massive individual stall draw bias here. Stall 2's figures look anomalously low, a thought counter-balanced by the 11 wins from stall 7. You could, of course argue that stalls 5 to 7 however do represent a bias towards a high draw and it's certain the best three-stall grouping to find yourself in, but in races like this, it's often the race tactics/positioning/pace that decides the outcome.


And there's also not a massive importance about where you choose to sit during the race, aside from not wanting to be in mid-division, although that is a fairly small sample size. Leaders and prominent runners win marginally more often than you'd expect, whilst holds up horses almost hit par at IV 0.97.

I said the mid-div numbers were based on a small sample size, but they're not even hitting the places as often as the other three style either, so it's not a case of just falling short of winning.

So, if we've no real bias on pace or draw, I wonder if there's a sweet spot where a certain draw meets a certain running style or conversely where do you not want to be from a certain stall? We can show this very quickly and easily, via...

Pace & Draw...

...which is pretty self explanatory. You can win from any draw and with any running style, but certain combinations will make life easier/harder depending on where you are. What we need to do is look at how we've seen these horses run in the past.

Most of them don't have many UK runs to their names (69 UK races between them, but Desert Encounter's 33 and Extra Elusive's 16 account for 49 of the 69), so I'm just going to look at how they've raced in their last two outing sand I'll overlay it upon that heat map as follows...

I've done that in draw order, so we can see where on track (if anywhere) the pace is going to come from and it looks like Waldkonig and Thunderous might attempt to set the fractions here.


I think the middle of the stalls is where the winner comes from today. Waldkonig and Thunderous look set to make the pace with Highest Ground biding his time. They're my favoured three here and it's probably just going to be a case of when Highest Ground makes his move and how many he can pass. You can guarantee the pace will be spot on here from that front two, both jockeys are excellent at reading the pace and despite my fondness for Frankie and his brilliant Class 1 record, I think Thunderous beats Waldkonig here.

The question then, is does Highest Ground beat them both and he certainly could, but I fancy him to fall narrowly short, but to split the front runners and grab second. I'm happy with the three that I see contesting it, it's just a case of whether I've got the order right.

OK, bookies time...as expected Highest ground is fancied and has been installed as the 9/4 fav, whilst my preference for Thunderous hasn't been shared elsewhere and Hills are offering me 11/2 as fourth favourite just behind Waldkonig's 4/1. Hukum s 2nd fav, but as much as he has ability, this looks too short a trip for him.

Racing Insights, 6th February 2021

A good result for the column at lunchtime with us getting the first three home and correctly identifying the 6/1 winner as our preferred option. Well done to those who got on, especially on the forecast/tricast etc, but no time to rest upon our laurels as Saturday will soon be upon us.

The feature of the day is the wonderful Trainer/Jockey Combo Stats report, whilst our free races of the day are...

  • 1.05 Leopardstown
  • 1.29 Musselburgh
  • 1.50 Sandown
  • 2.30 Wetherby
  • 4.15 Kempton
  • 4.55 Kempton

And although I think the TJ Combo report is brilliant, it's not often that a Grade 1 is one of our free races of the day, so I can't really pass up the chance to look at the 1.50 Sandown. It's a Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2m4f on heavy ground, it's for 5yo+ runners, of which there'll be seven aiming for a prize just shy of £20k.

As it's a top quality race and just seven run, I'm expecting a competitive affair with the odds compacted to reflect that, but fingers crossed we can find the winner or even first two or three home again. Our starting point has to be the card itself. No bias here, so alphabetically, they line up as follows...

Shan Blue tops our ratings and is widely regarded as one of (if not the) the best novice chasers around right now, so he's likely to be popular, but Hitman isn't far off on our ratings, so maybe the youngest of the field might be the biggest danger. As for the other end of the scale, my initial thoughts are that Paint The Dream, Sporting John and Up The Straight are here to make the numbers up, but let's have a look at all of them to see if the picture becomes any clearer.

Dame de Compagnie is second oldest here at 8 and she's the only mare in the contest and receives 7lbs from most of the field (bar Hitman) making her best in at the weights and she comes here having won each of her last three outings. She scored in back to back big field hurdles contests at Cheltenham in the winter/spring of 2019/20 over similar trips to day including the Gr3 Coral Cup at last year's Festival and has won on heavy ground before today.

She made a chase bow at Ayr almost three weeks ago, winning a two horse, Class 4 contest by nine lengths at Ayr over 2m0.5f on her return from over 10 months off the track. The step back up in trip shouldn't be an issue here, but the actual quality of opponent might! Messrs Henderson & de Boinville are well known in their own rights and as a partnership and have some excellent stats to back them up here, including...

Hitman concedes 4lbs to the mare above, but does receive 3lbs from the rest of the field, enabling the 5 yr old gelding to carry just 11st 1lb here. This will be just his third UK start, but he was a smart hurdler in his native France and seeks to be the Nicholls yard's latest imported superstar. He won a Class 3 chase at Ffos Las by some 30 lengths on his UK debut and wasn't disgraced as a runner-up behind Allmankind in the Gr 1 Henry VIII Chase here over 1m7.5f last time out.

Neither the going nor the quality should be his undoing, but this is 2.5 furlongs further than he's ever run before and on treacherous ground, that might be a problem. Stat-wise, plenty to go at again...

Messire des Obeaux is the oldest here at 9yrs old and comes here with plenty of experience gained from 11 previous career starts. He was more than useful over hurdles, finishing third in back to back Gr1 contests in the space of 24 days at the Cheltenham & Aintree Festivals of 2017. That might now be a long time ago and in actual days, it certainly is, but in terms of mileage on his clock, it's only three races.  He was beaten by 24 lengths in a Class 2 hurdle some 1034 days after that Aintree run and was then rested for another 313 days ahead of starting his chasing career at Wincanton in mid-December 2020, where he won by just over 2 lengths in a soft ground 2m4.5f contest.

Admittedly, it was only a Class 3 affair, but to win on his chasing bow in only his second start in over 32 months took some doing. He then followed that up with a 5-length success at Grade 2 over the same course and distance 25 days later to allow him to come here defending a 2 from 2 record over fences. He's probably got the ability to win this, but might it be too much too soon? Time will tell. And some numbers?

Paint The Dream was a winner last time out, but steps up from Class 3 to Gr 1 here and is up in trip by 4.5f, which makes it difficult to expect him to improve upon a record of 1 win from 9 over fences. He has won over this trip, but that was a Class 4 novice handicap hurdle and has also made the frame here when a runner-up at Class 3 back in December 2019, but I can't see him in the first four here.

Shan Blue represents Team Skelton and is regarded as one of the best Novice chasers around at present and his jumping has been a joy to watch at times. Decent if unspectacular over hurdles, he has been a revelation over fences with three wins from three to date. He kicked off with a couple of simple back to back Class 4 wins at Wetherby last October, clear by 14 lengths over 2m3.5f and then by 16 lengths over a 3m0.5f trip.

His third and final effort was a much tougher affair, but he was up tot he task and landed the Gr 1 Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, winning by the best part of four lengths and has been well rested since. That run has to be the pick of the LTO form on offer here and just one reason why he'll be popular here, as might some of these figures be...

Sporting John looks to be well up against it and if he's not the worst here, he's not far off. That doesn't mean he's a bad horse, but this race just looks out of his depth. He won a 3m soft ground point to point (so he can jump) and then kicked off his career under Rules with three straight wins over hurdles, culminating in a career-best Class 2 win over 2m3.5f.

His final run over hurdles came at last year's Cheltenham Festival when he finished in a distressed state when beaten by 30 lengths in the Gr 1 Ballymore Novice hurdle and he was disappointing on his sole effort over fences to date, beaten by 33 lengths in a Class 3 contest at Exeter. 6th place here is where I'd put him and even the best of the relevant stats don't make too much of a compelling case for him...

And finally (most likely) we have Up The Straight, who'll be last home in my opinion if he finishes. His chase form of 2U2 actually flatters him. He was second of three at Class 3 over 2m3f, beaten by some 26 lengths and that was only because the leader fell three out. He then unseated at Plumpton before finishing second of four at Fontwell when not seeing today's trip out on heavy ground in a Class 4 contest. The rise is class/quality here looks impossible for him and there's nothing in the stats to support him. In fact, they're further proof if anything that he should be swerved here...

That makes pretty dismal reading, doesn't it?

Let's find some more positivity now, shall we? OK, this field have raced 61 times in total, making the frame on 36 (59%) occasions and going on to win 22 (36%) of them across all codes, so Instant Expert will tell us how much of that form is actually relevant to the task ahead...



Paint The Dream's lack of quality is apparent above and Hitman's inexperience is also highlighted, whilst the likes of Messire des Obeaux and Shan Blue come out very favourably and at this stage, it still looks a close contest to call. Race tactics might be the key here...

I increased the field parameters to 5-10 runners to get a bigger sample size, as 6-9 runners only had three races to show, all won by front runners. Even expanding that parameter says you really want to be up with the pace here and that's the first negative I've really found about Messire des Obeaux. If he runs like he normally does, then he'll find it hard to win here, whereas Shan Blue looks ideally positioned.


I'm more than happy to instantly write Paint The Dream, Sporting John and Up The Straight off as also-rans. Of the other four, any of them could go on to win if truth be told, but I'm against Dame de Compagnie most, I think. She's well up in both class and trip and hasn't enough chasing experience for me.

That leaves three against the field : Hitman, Messire des Obeaux and Shan Blue and there was no surprise when I looked at the market for the first time at 6pm to see them heading the market at a general 9/4, 4/1 and 11/4 respectively.

The one I prefer of the three is Shan Blue. 11/4 looks a fair price and he's been there and done it already. Hitman lacks experience and Messire will find it hard to win from the back.

Who'll finish second? I'm really not sure, I've very little between them, but if pushed I'd side with Hitman if Messire is held up. If Messire doesn't hang back, it'll be a different story, but we'll not know that until it's too late to do anything about it!

Racing Insights, 2nd January 2021

Happy New Year everyone! As you're probably aware, I've been off duty for a couple of weeks enjoying the sunshine in the Canaries and it's something I'd definitely recommend. That said, as a travel agent away from Geegeez, I'm a little biased!

Many, many thanks to two of my Team Geegeez colleagues, Matt & Sam, for stepping into the breach and ensuring continuity of service and Sam's preview of today's 1.15 race at Southwell was very interesting.

Aside from the favourite not running well at all, he did highlight the eventual 2/1 winner, whilst his comments about the runner-up were spot on "...Teston is likely to try to burn them off with his customary running style but he’s going to have to go very fast to lead..."

Teston was sent off at 10/1 and was only overhauled by the winner with a furlong to run and had you put both horses together, an 18/1 forecast was there for the taking.

But I'm back in the hotseat now for the foreseeable future, starting with Saturday's racing where the free feature of the day is the superb Trainer/Jockey Combo report whilst we offer full free racecards for the following contests...

  • 1.38 Cork
  • 2.25 Sandown
  • 3.23 Cork

And I'm going to ease myself back in with a look at the 2.25 Sandown, the 7-runner, Grade 1, Unibet Tolworth Novices Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m on heavy ground worth almost £20k to the winner (£19,932.50 to be more precise). I don't normally look at the market before previewing a race, but I have already seen that the bookies suggest a 2-horse race here with 5 of the 7 runners priced at 6/1 or bigger, but shorties don't always win, do they?

We start, as ever with the racecard itself...

...that tells us that six of the seven have won at least one of their last two races (Tile Tapper won three starts ago), we have two LTO winners and three have already won twice this season.

Metier, Shakem Up'Arry and Tile Tapper all step up one class from LTO, whilst Smurphy Enki won a Class 4 LTO and this represents a big hike in quality for him. He's also entered in a Class 4 at Plumpton on Sunday and I wouldn't be surprised if he bypasses this one for the less challenging option.

All seven have won at least one contest at or around the 2m trip and all have raced in the last four to seven weeks or so, whilst Galice Macalo's 7lb mares' allowance makes her marginally best in at the weights, narrowly ahead of current favourite Metier.

Not much to discuss regarding trainer form, but Oliver Sherwood's (Grandeur D'Ame) jumpers are 7 from 42 (16.7% SR, A/E 1.22) here at Sandown over the last six years, whilst the trainer of Metier, Harry Fry, is 8 from 19 (42.1% SR, A/E 1.81) in Novice contests over the last seven weeks and is also 5 from 21 (23.8% SR, A/E 1.22) with hurdlers here at Sandown since 2015.

From a jockey perspective, the riders of Do Your Job, Smurphy Enki and Tile Tapper have struggled of late, which isn't the case for Aidan Coleman and Sean Bowen on the two horses highlighted by the trainer form above. Sean also rides this track well, As does Shakem Up'Arry's Daryl Jacob.

Despite both yard and jockey being out of form, Do Your Job isn't written off here, as he clearly tops the Geegeez Speed ratings ahead of a rather clustered pack behind him. Grandeur D'Ame is unrated, as his two career runs have both been in bumpers and although second in Listed company last time out, may find this a tough introduction to hurdling.

Still too early for me to make a decision, but it's not difficult to see why Metier is such a warm favourite. Perhaps Instant Expert will help me one one to beat him? That said, with just 38 races between the seven of them, I'm guessing I'll glean more from the place settings...

...than I will from the wins...

Essentially, all those who've tried heavy ground have made the frame once, but only Do Your Job, Grandeur D'Ame and Metier have won in the mud. The first two of that trio have also been placed in a Class 1 contest previously, as has Galice Macalo who is also the only one to have been to Sandown before when second a in 2m Listed handicap on heavy ground LTO.

The pace make-up of the race is interesting, as I think it might well be falsely run here, as the pace tab says...

...that hold up horses have won 6 of 14 (42.9% SR) of similar previous races and have taken 15 of the 35 (also 42.9%) places on offer, yet at least five of this seven runner field look like they'll want to take it on. Our pace prediction says possible contested speed and I've a feeling the jockeys will be wary of doing too much too soon. This'll mean no runaway leader(s) and the so-called hold-up horses won't be that far away either, so I'm sensing a more tactical affair that might not resemble our heat map too much in the end.

So, where am I on this one?

Well, Metier certainly looks a worthy favourite, but is he a 5/4 or 6/5 clear fav here? I'm not sure, I'll need a closer look at the others first.

Do Your Job has two wins and two runner-up finishes from five efforts over hurdles and despite going down by four lengths in a Listed contest LTO, I feel there's still more to come from this half-brother to three winners and the ground shouldn't pose too much of an issue to a horse who won on heavy at Ffos Las in October, whilst stamina shouldn't be a problem either for a former winner of a soft ground 3m PTP race.

Grandeur D'Ame looks up against it here and is likely to be the rank outsider. Ran well in a Listed Bumper LTO at HQ, but this is (a) a big step up in quality and (b) the first time he'll have been hurdling competitively. I'm sure he'll have a decent career, but his success story won't start here.

Metier was a modest Flat horse in Ireland, winning just one £8k maiden from eight starts, but then had a year off and a wind operation, was sent to the UK to Harry Fry and is now 2 from 2 for his new handler and beat the re-opposing Tile Tapper by 5.5 lengths despite conceding 5lbs in weight LTO. Hard to see TT overturning that on equal weights today and Metier looks a prime contender here.

Shakem Up'Arry is just one from six over hurdles, but was deemed worthy of a run in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices Hurdle at this year's Cheltenham Festival. Only ten of the twelve starters finished and he was sadly last of the ten home, some 56 lengths off the pace and I'm not sure that augurs well for this contest. On a more positive note, he was a heavy ground runner up at Newbury almost a year ago and has won a 2m contest on soft this season, but this is too big a step up in quality for my liking.

Smurphy Enki is lightly raced over hurdles but has made the frame both times. A runner-up beaten by just a neck on heavy ground at Chepstow in early November ahead of a win by seven lengths at Plumpton almost four weeks ago. This is much more difficult and I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls out to return to Plumpton on Sunday instead. If he does run here, he could well put in a decent performance at a big price, but would need some luck from somewhere.

Tile Tapper ran well to be a runner-up on his hurdling debut LTO, but now meets the winner, Metier, on 5lb worse terms and although he has every right/chance to improve for having had the run, I just don't see him overturning the favourite here. He could well threaten the place position(s). Breeding suggests he'll stay further than this in time, but if showing any improvement here, could run a big race at a silly price.

Galice Macalo is the only mare in the race and as such receives a 7lb allowance effectively making her best in at the weights. She was only caught and headed late on last time out when beaten by just a length and a half in a Listed contest here over course and distance four weeks ago on similarly heavy ground. This is, of course, a tougher ask but she looks more than capable of improving here.


I don't like Grandeur D'Ame nor Shakem Up'Arry for this one and I expect Smurphy Enki to swerve this race (if he does run here, that might suggest his yard rate him highly, so keep an eye on him).

Of the other four, you'd have to expect Metier to be the one to beat, based on everything above and I'd have the mare, Galice Macalo, as the one most likely to challenge him, but at prices as low as 6/5 and 9/4 respectively, I'm not too keen on backing either (even the forecast won't pay much).

So, although I'm fairly confident that I've found the first two home, there's always scope for a decent priced E/W surprise in these type of races and I'd not deter you from a small (very small) punt on Tile Tapper at 33/1. I was half interested in Do Your Job, but 6/1 is far too skinny for my liking.

Racing Insights, 4th December 2020

It's tough right now and Thursday's race kind of fell apart for us as the overnight Soft (Gd to Soft in places) ground became Heavy and that, as we know, changes the whole complexion of the race. Trans Express became a non-runner, changing the pace make-up of the race and Gortroe Joe ended up leading, but fell at the last. My third shortlisted horse and second rated did eventually finish as a runner-up, beaten by half a length behind one I'd never have picked out in a month of Sundays.

And so to Friday, where the Horses For Courses report is open to everyone as are the cards for the following races...

  • 2.05 Exeter
  • 3.25 Sedgefield
  • 3.35 Sandown
  • 4.00 Dundalk
  • 4.15 Newcastle

And it's the middle race of the five that appeals to me most from a preview perspective. The others have too many runners, too few runners, too many runners and a bumper! Which leaves me with the 3.35 Sandown, a 9-runner, Class 3, Mares Handicap Hurdle for 3yo+ over 2m4f on Soft ground for a top prize of £9,747 and here's the card...

Whitehotchillifili returned from 233 days off the track to finish fifth in Listed contest on soft ground almost five weeks ago. She was beaten by less than 12 lengths that day and the third placed horse who beat her by five lengths has since won a Class 3 hurdle. This 6 yr old now drops down two classes to run here on handicap debut for Harry Fry whose hurdlers are 5 from 19 (26.3% SR) here at Sandown since 2015, whilst jockey Richard Johnson is 10 from 37 (27%) over the last fortnight and has a 20% record over hurdles her at Sandown since 2013.

Vegas Blue has has two runs this season, winning a Class 4 over this 2m4f trip after a break of 292 days and then finishing third at Kempton last time out, getting turned over at very short odds. She steps up in class for her handicap debut for trainer Nicky Henderson, who not only has a 24% strike rate over the last month, but also has a near-30% strike rate with hurdlers at this track since 2014 whilst jockey Nico de Boinville has a 1-in-4 record over the past month and is 17 from 44 (38.6% SR) here at Sandown over the last three years.

Kentford Heiress is a daughter of my favourite sire, but at 10 yrs of age she's not getting any younger/better (I share her pain) and although she's 10 from 59 (16.95% SR) as a career-stat, the fact is that she hasn't won any of her 11 starts since completing a hat-trick 18 months ago. Despite that losing run, she's still only 2lbs lower than that last win and her yard is on a run of 35 losers in the past five weeks. As much I'd love the old girl to win here, I can't see it happening and I'm crossing her off at this point.

Bit On The Side is an interesting 5yr old mare, who has certainly been kept busy by "Team Twister". She's actually had five runs since the end of lockdown 1 back in July, finishing 113 in novice hurdles , winning over 2m4.5f and 2m5.5f and then finishing second (beat by less than 4 lengths) in a handicap chase and then 4th of 6 in a Listed chase. She's back down at Class 3 now for a second handicap run (but the first over hurdles) for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies whose hurdlers are 6 from 20 (30% SR) here in handicaps at Sandown since 2016 (inc 2/3 at C3).

Miss Honey Rider also makes a second handicap start today, but she'll need to fare much better than she did on debut last time out in this grade. She weakened out of contention and was eventually pulled up before 2 out, making that two PU's in four runs. She did however finish second and then first in the two of those four that she did complete, albeit in a lower grade. Her previous runs suggest more rain would be welcome as she tends to go best on soft or worse. She scores well o the Geegeez Ratings in third place with a rating of 9.4% of the leader, but her yard is out of touch right now with no winners from 48 over the last six weeks. She's also a no from me at this stage.

Misty Bloom won a Class 2 over 2m5.5f on good to soft ground almost 11 months ago, but at 12th, 5th, 13th, 6th, PU and 8th since, has disappointed at both Class 2 and 3. Now back at Class 3 and eased another couple of pounds in the weights, she's really going to have to improve to get anything here. Her yard is just 8 from 94 (8.5% SR) over the last nine weeks including 5 from 58 (8.6%) over hurdles. Misty Bloom might well top our rankings, but it's the only thing I see her winning here and it's a no from me.

Penny Mallow, on the other hand, is a different propostion. Ignoring her last two runs (a 3m soft ground hurdle and a handicap chase after nine months off), her other most recent runs were two wins and a defeat by a neck, all over hurdles over 2m3.5f to 2m5f on soft / heavy ground which is more like today's conditions. Trainer Venetia Williams is hitting form as she invariably does in mid-winter and her runners are 8 from 26 (30.8% SR) over the last fortnight, whilst her Class 3&4 handicappers are 17 from 53 (32.1% SR) in the Decembers of 2018/19/20 so far.

Ruby Yeats is an other interesting case, she struggled last season over fences where here form looked more like a game of scrabble than actual race form (BU3UP) before she ended the season with two efforts over hurdles at Class 4. She won both, firstly over 2m6f on soft ground and then over 2m5f on heavy after a 6lb rise in weight. She's up another 7lbs and her fitness will need to be taken on trust, as she hasn't been seen for nine months since that 6 lengths win at Plumpton, but if ready for it will relish conditions. She's trained by Gary Moore whose Class 3/4 handicap hurdlers sent off at 8/1 and shorter are 6 from 15 (40%) here at Sandown since 2015, so keep an eye on the market.

Emmpressive Lady, like Ruby Yeats above sits at the bottom of the handicap here receiving weight all round. She won by just under four lengths last time out in a scrappy race that threatened to fall apart at any time and she's now up in both class and trip for her handicap debut, whilst the runner-up from last time out has been beaten again.

And now to assess suitability under today's expected conditions, we turn to Instant Expert...

...which tells us that we've three dual winners in the mud, three dual-winners over this kind of trip, all ahve won in fields of 8-11 runners and Bit On The Side is running off a lower mark than her last win.

The place element of Instant Expert...

...reiterates the above, but turns Whitehotchillifil green for going and distance.

Two and a half miles in difficult conditions on a stiff trip with an uphill finish might take some getting, so the race positioning could be more important than ever and that's where the Pace tab can help us...

...where prominent racers have won 12 of 24 (50%) similar contests, favouring the top four on that graphic.

So, where are we at? Well, we've still got six runners in contention and I need to start whittling away. First to go will be Emmpressive Lady, even though she's bottom weight and an LTO winner. I'm not convinced that the race she won was any good and she's up in both class and trip here. Add in the fact that her yard is only 23 from 348 (6.6% SR) since the start of 2018, I'm not persuaded easily to back her.

Next to go will be Penny Mallow. She was interesting based on past form and her yard is bang amongst the winners again, but she hasn't jumped a hurdle competitively for almost ten months and her only run this season was over fences, so I'd be inclined to give her a watching brief with a view to backing her next time out, provided she isn't dreadful here, of course.


Summary time, Chris?
You've still four runners, despite just writing off the top two in the betting, Chris!

Yes, still four at play and here's why. The one I like the most is the Harry Fry horse, Whitehotchillifil, who at 13/2 would appear to be an excellent price, win or lose. It then becomes difficult, because I've very little on my figures/reasoning between Bit On The Side, Vegas Blue & Ruby Yeats just about in that order. I can't back four in a race and I wouldn't advise you to, either. So I suppose, we let the market decide for us.

Bit On The Side is currently 15/2, so has good possibilities as an E/W bet here, so she'd be my second option. I wouldn't put you off the other two at 11/2 and 13/2 respectively, but I can't be backing all four!


Stat of the Day, 7th August 2020

Thursday's pick was...

5.20 Stratford : See The Sea @ 3/1 BOG WON at 13/8 (Led until narrowly headed 4th, pressed leader, in front again 2 out, clear when ridden before last, stayed on well run-in to win by two lengths) 

Friday's pick runs in the...

1.45 Sandown :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Garsman @ 11/2 BOG

...in a 7-runner, Class 4, Flat Handicap for 3yo over 5f on Good to Firm ground worth £4,690 to the winner... 


As usual, we start with a quick glance at the racecard...

Which tells us that we've a consistent sort ridden by a jockey who fares well at this venue. You can see the last six runs from this 3yr old, but he has run seven times this year, winning his first one, so he's actually 1151222 in 2020. Those three wins include two over this minimum 5f trip and one at today's Class 4 and it's his recent string of runner-up finishes that interests me today, as I do look out the 222's as I call them.

Essentially, it's like this... in UK Class 2-5 contests since the start of 2016, horses with a recent form line of 222 who were beaten by less than 10 lengths LTO 6-45 days earlier (not as complicated as it looks in print) are...

with the following of relevance today...

  • 136/504 (27%) for 97pts (+19.2%) at odds shorter than 12/1
  • 86/394 (21.8%) for 60.2pts (+15.3%) in handicaps
  • 102/377 (27.1%) for 150.7pts (+40%) in fields of 6-12 runners
  • 59/205 (28.8%) for 30.3pts (+14.8%) on the Flat
  • 46/201 (22.9%) for 16.7pts (+8.3%) at Class 4
  • 34/148 (23%) for 24.6pts (+16.6%) over trips of 5-7 furlongs
  • and 26/83 (31.3%) for 26.2pts (+31.6%) on Good to Firm...

...whilst those sent off shorter than 12/1 in 6-12 runner handicaps are 66/256 (25.8% SR) for 80.2pts (+31.3% ROI), including...

  • 33/99 (33.3%) for 64.2pts (+64.8%) on the Flat
  • 18/66 (27.3%) for 41.5pts (+62.9%) over 5-7f
  • and 16/38 (42.1%) for 44.7pts (+117.6%) on good to firm ground...

...which somewhat belatedly explains... a 1pt win bet on Garsman @ 11/2 BOG as was widely available (inc several BOGs ) at 8.00 am Friday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 1.45 Sandown

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Sandown and the Scilly Isles

I have sometimes wondered when I've been watching The Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown what the connection was between former Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s favourite holiday destination and Surrey. Read more