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Racing Insights, 23rd February 2021

A nice 10/3 (SP 3/1) winner to kick off our week and we also had the first four home. Sadly my 1234 finished 1423, but you can't win them all.

Next up is Tuesday, of course and the 'feature of the day' is the Shortlist report which highlights horses running in conditions that they have previously performed well in, whilst our 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 2.15 Wetherby
  • 2.30 Taunton
  • 5.10 Newcastle

The middle of those three races above is another of those open-looking heavy ground affairs that I like to take on, so today's focus is on the 2.30 Taunton, an 8-runner, Class 2, handicap hurdle over two miles and half a furlong on the afore-mentioned heavy ground. The winner will take home £9495 and will be one of the following...

Pic D'Orhy heads the weights here, but is only 4lbs higher than when winning the Grade 3 handicap Betfair Hurdle over this trip at Newbury just over a year ago. He hasn't tackled a hurdle since and hasn't looked the same horse over fences, but does drop in class.

Has plenty of good hurdles form on very soft/heavy ground in France and has won at trips ranging from 1m7f to 2m2f. If hurdling like he has in the past, will be a major player here and he hails from a yard with a 29% strike rate (40 from 138) over hurdles here at Taunton since 2016, including 17 from 55 (30.9%) for jockey Harry Cobden.

King Roland won both his bumper starts and has finished 212 over hurdles so far, the last of which was in a Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham 13 months ago where he was just 2.25 lengths behind the winner and the same distance clear of the third placed horse Protektorat who has finished 1122 over fences since.

KR hasn't raced over hurdles since that Cheltenham defeat, though, firstly taking 9 months rest and then making a chasing bow where he finished third beaten by almost seven lengths after attacking the race a little too keenly. With a run like that last one at HQ, he's right in the mix here.

Masters Legacy makes just a fourth career start, having finished 211 so far, all over hurdles here at Taunton. He was beaten by 2.25 lengths on debut in mid-November 2019 over 2m1f on good ground at Class 5, before opening his account over the same track and trip (C4, Gd-soft) four weeks later. That was followed by a similar break before winning another Class 4 contest, this time over 2m3f on soft ground.

He's up two classes here and tackles heavy ground for the first time, but he does look a progressive type and his yard are 11 from 44 (25% SR, A/E 1.41) over hurdles here since the start of 2018. My major concern with this one is the fact he is coming off a break of 413 days.

Rockadenn has only ran twice in the UK before now, finishing 2nd of 6 (beaten by 6.5L) in a Class 2 hurdle over 1m7.5f on heavy ground at Haydock, just over a year ago and then ran out at the 5th over fences at Musselburgh just over a fortnight ago upon his return.

That doesn't inspire confidence, but he did sign off his French career with four straight wins (3 x chs, 1 x hrd) over trips of 2m0.5f to 2m4f on very soft or heavy ground. In fact he's only ever run in the mud!

Totterdown is one of two ten year olds in this contest and has won four of his sixteen hurdles races including three from six on heavy ground and four from fourteen at 2m/2m0.5f, but that's where the good news ends, as he's been below par this season.

He was last of three in October on his comeback from a near 10-month absence, he fell 4 out at Ffos Las and then was beaten by a combined 72 lengths in two outings over hurdles. He tends to be a bit too keen and likes to lead but generally weakens late on.

Getaway Fred has won just one of his eight starts to date and that was a Class 4 novice hurdle back in November 2019. Hasn't ran well this season so far in three Class 3 chases, being beaten by 52L, 6L and 52L and although he handled heavy ground well enough on his only attempt, I'd not be rushing to back him here, stepping up in class and hurdling for the first time in 11 months and hailing from an out of form yard that has had just 3 winners from 81 over the last two months and whose hurdlers are 1 from 52 over the last 11 weeks.

River Bray is an unreliable, temperamental sort, but doesn't lack ability if you can get him to run. He's often reluctant to race/get involved but has behaved a little better of late with two decent runs at Wincanton over 1m7.5f at Class 3.

He was only beaten by three quarters of a length off this mark last time out on similarly heavy ground and did manage to make the frame on his only previous visit to Taunton way back in December 2017. He was a runner-up on soft ground that day, going down by just 0.75L in a 14-runner contest. The gamble here is what mood he's in. If he's up for it, you could be in the money, if he's not willing, you might as well burn your cash.

Pinson du Rheu is the second ten year old in the contest, he carries bottom weight and is another with very little UK racing under his belt, having raced here just the once. He was a useful jumper in France winning 5 of 33, albeit with a better record (4/24) over fences than he did over hurdles. All his French wins came on very soft or heavy ground at trips of 2m1.5f to 2m6f, so stamina should be fine.

Connections must think something of him to bring him over as a 9 yr old to make a UK debut in a Cheltenham Grade 3 last November, but sadly he didn't perform and was pulled up. My fears here are that he hasn't ran well for some time, the trip might be too sharp for him and it's more than 100 days since he was last seen. He'd be better over fences, I think.

*

Race suitability is assessed by Instant Expert, which record all UK runs, so I suspect that there'll be some gaps in our coverage here with a couple of these having very little/no UK form. The overall achievements in the UK by these eight runners stand at a respectable 45.7% place strike rate (32 from 70), including 20% winners (14 from 70). As ever, i expect the place element of Instant Expert to be more informative than the win element, so I'll put both up for you...

From the above, there's no getting away from King Roland's record at the trip, Master's Legacy at Taunton and Totterdown on heavy ground. There's nothing in the above to really put me off any of the runners, so time to assess race tactics and pace etc.

And the stats tell me that you really want to race prominently, but let someone else lead. They also say if you can't race prominently, you should be as far forward as you can, being held-up isn't a good tactic in these conditions, it's as damaging as trying to win from the front, as shown below...

That doesn't look good for either of Totterdown or Pinson du Rheu, but wouldn't necessarily end the chances of any of the other six here, although my previous two sections might have already done so!

Summary

I can easily remove Totterdown & Pinson du Rheu from my equations based on my write-ups and their pace profiles. Getaway Fred is in as bad a run of form as his yard right now and Rockadenn hasn't seen a hurdle for ages and when he does see one, he's better over fences!

So, I'm down to half the field, namely King Roland, Master's Legacy, Pic D'Orhy and River Bray. You can make cases for and against all four here, but I've got to take one of them away and I think the combination of top weight on a career-high mark tackling hurdles for the first time in over a year makes Pic D'Orhy the most vulnerable of the four.

This means my "three against the field" are King Roland, Master's Legacy and River Bray. To be honest, I don't see much between them and I suspect the market will reflect this and whilst I'm fairly confident that these are the best three here, I'm not super-confident of putting them in the right order. At this point, I can almost hear you shouting at me to pull my finger out, so if pushed I'd line them up as Master's Legacy / River Bray / King Roland.

The market has the three at 10/3, 13/2 and 5/2 fav with my discarded Pic D'Orhy as 5/1 3rd fav. I thought it might be tight!

Stat of the Day, 17th March 2020

Monday's pick was...

3.40 Kelso : Calle Malva @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 7/2 (Held up in 5th, outpaced after 3 out, rallied chasing leaders before last, went right and every chance last, ridden and no extra run-in, beaten by 2 lengths)

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

3.25 Taunton :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.15am 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.

Who?

Seeanythingyoulike @ 7/2 BOG

...in an 8-runner, Class 4, Novices Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over 2m2f on soft ground worth £5,458 to the winner...

Why?...

On a dismal-looking day of racing with small fields on poor ground, I see a lot of fancied runners at such short prices that they offer little value to us and I admit to having scratched around a little looking for a selection, but this horse just kept popping up on my lists of angles qualifiers.

There's precious little decent form on offer from any of the runners here, but our pick did at least win by 21 lengths three starts ago on New Year's Eve on similarly soft ground. He was 3rd of 12 last time out, but that's a little flattering, as he was actually beaten by 28 lengths that day, but I feel it might have been one race too many as it was his third in a month, which might have been too much for a 9 yr old on constantly poor ground.

Now rested for 44 days and eased 3lbs by the assessor, I'd expect a better show today, especially with him appearing in many of my daily stat lists and here are just a handful of those angles...

1. Trainer Jeremy Scott's runners are 13 from 30 (43.3% SR) for 20.9pts (+69.7% ROI) here at Taunton when sent off at Evens to 6/1 since the start of 2016.

2. Of those 30 runners, today's jockey, Matt Griffiths has 6 wins from 14 (42.9% SR) for 12.2pts (+87.3% ROI)

3. In fact, Jeremy only sends on average three handicap chasers per year to this track (19 since the start of 2014) and aside from being 0/1 here so far this year, he has had a winner in each of the last six years in a record reading 6/19 (31.6% SR) for 27.1pts (+142.8% ROI), including..

  • 5/13 (38.5%) for 14.6pts (+112.3%) at odds of 6/4 to 6/1
  • 3/7 (42.9%) for 14pts (+200%) for Matt Griffiths
  • and 3/6 (50%) for 15pts (+250%) for Matt Griffiths at 6/4 to 6/1

4. More generally in that same 2014-20 period, Jeremy Scott's Class 4 handicap chasers sent off at 4/1 and shorter are 27 /75 (36% SR) for 31.1pts (+41.5% ROI)

5. Whilst since the start of 2017, his NH handicappers sent off at 5/1 or shorter on soft or worse ground are 27 from 86 (+31.4% SR) for 23.6pts (+27.5% ROI)

...all of which led me to...a 1pt win bet on Seeanythingyoulike @ 7/2 BOG as was available from BetVictor & Hills at 8.10am Tuesday with plenty of 10/3 BOG elsewhere, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.25 Taunton

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

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!

Race Histories 8 – 6 Rifles B Company Novices’ Hurdle

Didn't know we had to build the jumps.....

Earlier forays into race histories have looked at some of the well known and long established races in the calendar. Today, we turn our attention to a brand new race, as we head to Taunton, where the Territorial Army is moving into new …territory. The first race at Taunton today is the 6 Rifles B Company Novices’ Hurdle. It was to have been run earlier in the season, but rain led to the cancellation of the meeting, and not even the combined power of Army equipment and track ground staff could save the day then. Read more