Racing Insights, 1st January 2021

My main runner of interest on Thursday wasn't amongst the places but was much better than the bare result and she did outrun her odds. She would have been seen to much better effect had she been ridden prominently. Blushes were salvaged slightly by the runner flagged as the main danger winning the race.

This will be my final day filling the Racing Insights hot seat, Chris will be back to continue shining the light on some nice bets in the new year.

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I mentioned earlier in the week that I find Geegeez Gold extremely useful in analysing races at Southwell with course form and/or being bred for the surface so important and this is where I’ll be heading for Friday’s preview. The 1.15pm is a class 3 handicap over 7f and looks an interesting contest to get stuck into.

Only seven runners in this but Instant Expert is still going to save us plenty of time in shedding light on those that have gone well here in the past. First let’s check out the place data.

The majority of these have run consistently well here in the past with nothing standing out as not liking the surface. Both Teston and Irreverent have yet to run here.

Now let’s see the win only data.

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Fieldsman was the least interesting of those that have run here before based on the place data and that’s definitely reflected in the win only data here, he’s won just two of this fourteen runs here in handicaps.

In terms of winning records here something is going to have to give with Stone Soldier, Ayr Harbour and Borsdane Wood all having a 100% record here to date.

Before we look at the sire data in Instant Expert we should first pick up any other snippets from the Instant Expert screenshots above. Ayr Harbour strong across the board for win purposes and is crucially the only runner proven in this class and here at Southwell. Fieldsman on the other hand does have a fairly consistent place record here but he scores poorly for all categories for win purposes on Instant Expert.

The sire data in Instant Expert should tell us more about the chances of Teston and Irreverent who will both be making their course debuts.

Rio De La Plata, sire of Teston, comes out as the top sire here from those with runners in the race but unfortunately he’s had just one runner here is seems. So that 100% place record certainly needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Iffraaj, sire of Irreverent, doesn’t have an amazing place strike rate here with his runners but it is still better than that of Invincible Spirit (Borsdane Wood) and Dandy Man (Fancy Footings). Both of those runners have run well here in the past so we can’t confidently rule out Irreverent (or Teston) based on the surface.

Stone Soldier is likely to be the early favourite. He looked an exposed 3yo until trying this surface for the first time on his stable debut early in December and he looked a natural on that occasion, winning by over 4 lengths from a reliable yard stick. That 2nd was a neck from victory on his next run over course and distance and the 3rd won next time out so overall that was strong form.

Stone Solider followed that effort up with a narrower victory up at a mile. He’s up another 5lbs now and may be short enough in the betting but what is potentially most interesting is this horse has run seventeen times but has only run over 7f twice, winning on both occasions.

He does have some decent stats in his favour here, particularly the IV produced by this trainer and jockey partnership.

Ayr Harbour is the horse that brings slightly classier form into this contest having won a class 2 handicap two starts ago at Chelmsford before recording a 2nd last time out in this class. His course win hasn’t worked out well though and his recent wins have been at a mile so he could be opposable if on the short side here.

Borsdane Wood was the other interesting one based on course form, having won both his previous runs on fibresand. Both wins were over this distance too but the issue is they came 13 months ago for a different trainer. He managed just two runs in 2020 (both poor efforts in June) and has possibly not trained on or at the very least had some serious soundness issues – perhaps both. It’s possible the return to this venue will spark a revival (it certainly needs to) but he’s a hugely risky proposition. Market support would be interesting though.

The trainer change might be a positive here with Julie Camacho producing an IV of 1.81 with recruits from other yards on their stable debuts.

Fancy Footings is difficult to weigh up. He seems to run very well or absolutely terribly with little to predict what is coming. He won here by over three lengths off just a 2lb higher mark just over a year ago and followed that up with a decent 3rd over course and distance off a 6lb higher mark than he carries here. A return to that sort of form may see him win this. He was less impressive back here in January though when beaten 7 lengths off a 4lb higher mark than he contends with in this. He’s one you can’t rule out but he’s difficult to back.

Fieldsman is very much exposed here and although he has only won twice from fourteen runs here, those victories have both come in the past six weeks. He’s only 7lbs better off with Stone Soldier for a 7.5 length beating though here earlier in December and it’s difficult to make a case for him reversing that form.

Teston has some interesting form and could be a contender here. He’s got plenty of form on artificial surfaces from his time in France and he’s only 7lbs higher here than when victorious by 7 lengths at Doncaster in June. He ran well in listed company after that effort. He’s been in lesser form in three runs since but there have been some excuses for that (heavy ground, then much faster ground, then the distance).

Irreverent is well handicapped on some older form but hasn’t quite been firing recently, running okay but not as if about to win. He’s running here for the first time and is wearing a first time visor so there are reasons why he could suddenly run much better but also reasons why he’ll run terribly!

It pays to be up with the pace here but we may well see a contested pace.

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. There are plenty of prominent runners here as well as front runners so we could see a few having to go wide round the turn as they jostle for position.


A difficult race in which to find value with the bookies looking to have got this market pretty much right. Neither Stone Soldier or Ayr Harbour look brilliantly handicapped but they’ve both shown the classier form and they have the least questions to answer.

Unless there is a ton of money for Borsdane Wood the best play in the race might be a straight forecast on Stone Solider to beat Ayr Harbour. The drop in trip for Stone Solider should suit better than it does for his nearest market rival.

Racing Insights, 29th December 2020

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So we’ve got full pick of all the races on Tuesday. I’m always keen to go through the Southwell handicaps, using Instant Expert to save a lot of time seeing which horses either have a strong record at the course or are bred to go well here. The 4.30 looks an interesting race with a hot favourite potentially setting this up as a nice each way race.

Southwell is such a course specialist’s course due to it’s unique fibresand surface (which is going to be replaced by tapeta in the not too distant future). The first thing to check here is the Instant Expert place data.

We immediately see here, without having to trawl through each runner’s form, that five horses have a strong record of placing here. One runner has placed here more than any other but has a more mediocre place ratio whilst three of the field have run here and failed to place and a further two entrants will be making their fibresand debuts.

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Bay Of Naples and Emneshing both look opposable based on their limited form here so far. The same comment applies to Zeyzoun but it’s worth noting his form here is over 7f and 1m. The step up to 12f doesn’t look an obvious move but it does make his course form over much shorter distances a little less relevant.

In order to get an insight into whether these three runners do have potential on this surface and also whether the two course debutants should be expected to run well we can look at the sire data in Instant Expert.

Exceed and Excel, sire of Bay Of Naples, actually has a very good place record here at Southwell. However the horse was beaten 17 lengths here less than two weeks ago over course and distance (was only a length behind the 2nd in fairness) so we’ll be keeping a line through that runner.

Mastercraftsman, sire of Emneshing, also has a decent place record on Southwell’s fibresand surface but this horse has been beaten an average of over 40 lengths in each of his last five runs yet has only dropped 5lbs in the handicap for some reason so we can happily put a line through him too.

Ebqaa and Violet Princess are the pair without any course experience. Their sires are Cape Cross and Native Ruler respectively and they are amongst the poorer Southwell sires so it would be impossible to back either horse with much confidence regardless of any form they’ve shown elsewhere.

Star Ascending is the horse that has raced here more than any other. In fact the rest of the field have run here a combined 20 times and Star Ascending has run here 24 times! He’s placed here on eleven occasions so has a decent enough strike rate and clearly copes with the surface. He hasn’t got within 5 lengths of the winner on his last five runs and this looks a very competitive race so if he runs to form he’ll finish outside the places.

So this leaves four runners with a 100% place record here (at least one of those will have to sacrifice that record) and one runner who has a 50% place record. Mister Universum is the horse with a 50% place strike rate here but his place came on the hurdles course and this is a completely different test. He was beaten over 10 lengths on his only run on fibresand, albeit over two furlongs further, and he’s another who can probably be safely opposed.

So we’re down to four runners, all of whom have at least placed in all starts here. This race likely revolves around hot favourite Exotic Escape who won by no less than 18 lengths on her only run here, which came here nine days ago over this distance. She appears here carrying a 6lbs penalty and she’ll presumably be much tougher punished when reassessed but it’s difficult to know what to make of that win. It’s worth noting the odds on favourite could only finish 3rd so was almost certainly well below par and the runner up had been well beaten in previous attempts at the trip. She hadn’t shown that kind of form anywhere else and she may just prove a much better horse here but on balance she looks very opposable in this much better race.

Grimthorpe Castle is clearly the very solid choice given he has placed in all seven runs here. He’s been beaten 2.5 lengths and 2.75 lengths on his last two runs here (3rd both times) and has perhaps been nailed now by the handicapper. Interestingly he met Fortultous here 6 weeks ago off level weights and Fortultous came out on top by just a short head. Fortultous is now 4lbs better off and seems extremely likely to confirm that form this time around.

Fortultous was brought down when going well last time out at Wolverhampton and does look very interesting returning here. He was 2nd on his previous run over course and distance, 27 lengths clear of the 3rd, and the winner has since won well again off an 8lb higher mark so that was clearly a strong run too.

That leaves Lucky Robin who is a very big price at the time of writing. It was no surprise to see him well beaten last time out away from Southwell where his only flat win has been gained, over two miles which he doesn’t really stay. He’s had two runs here, a non staying but respectable 3rd over 2m followed by a narrow win off a 1lb lower mark over 14f. It’s worth noting that the runner up won next time out and then finished 2nd so a 1lb rise for that was very fair. He does need to prove himself as good over this distance of 12f though.

So how will this race be run?

This race looks set to be run at a decent enough clip with reliable front runner Grimthorpe Castle likely to take the field along. Lucky Robin and Fortultous should also be well enough placed at a course that suits those that are ridden positively.


Exotic Escape may well win but she’s one of those favourites that could just as easily bomb terribly so she has to be completely taken on, for both win and place. Grimthorpe Castle looks sure to run well enough but also very unlikely to beat Fortultous who should be a length or two too good for his old rival.

Lucky Robin is difficult to weigh up. She should definitely do much better back here than last time at Wolverhampton and she’s the value in the race but she would be a much safer bet at 14f rather than this 12f.

So the two against the field would be Fortultous and Lucky Robin with Grimthorpe Castle considered for possible forecasts or tricasts with the other pair.