My last column of the week and Saturday's feature of the day is the brilliant Trainer/Jockey Combo report, which is exactly what you'd think it would be, whilst our free racecards cover the following half dozen contests...
- 12.40 Wincanton
- 1.30 Doncaster
- 1.35 Aintree
- 2.45 Doncaster
- 3.15 Doncaster
- 8.00 Chelmsford
And as I love the TJC report so much, that's what I'm working from today and the 1 year handicap form in particular. Now, Saturday's are always busy and I think there are over 500 horses set to race across the UK & Ireland, so I'm going for some fairly restrictive criteria for my report settings today...
And I picked the McPherson/Lilly partnership for one reason alone : they have two qualifiers, so we get two bites at the cherry! We start in the 1.07 Kelso (I love these unconventional; race times) with the 6 yr old mare The Distant Lady, who will tackle an 11-runner, Class 3, 4yo+ Handicap Hurdle over 3m2½f (5670 yards +112 yards rails adjustment) on Good To Soft ground worth £6,238, whilst the 2.52 Kelso features Homing Star, a 5yr old mare who also runs in a handicap hurdle on good to soft ground, but she runs at Class 5 in a 3yo+ contest over 2m5f (4589 yards +80 yards rails adjustment), where the winner receives £2,924.
So, let's start by assessing The Distant Lady's chances in the 1.07 race...
Not a massive amount of detail there, I'm afraid, but top ranking in the Geegeez ratings is always a good sign and we've runner with at least one win on this going and one at this trip, whilst her held-up running style looks perfect for this type of contest.
She doesn't win enough races, if I'm being critical but she has been running consistently well, finishing 313U3 in her last five starts. She unseated at Kelso two starts ago after stumbling coming away from the last hurdle when travelling well alongside the leader and her win four starts ago came over this trip at Southwell back in July upon her seasonal reappearance.
I think her run to finish third of five last time out was a better run than the bare result would suggest, finishing just five lengths behind a horse she was giving 11lbs to. She was running off the same mark (116) as today and whilst that's (a) 16lbs higher than her last win and (b) probably too much for her, she does now get the benefit of Lilly's 5lb claim. I'm not sure she's been treated fairly by the assessor of late but there's not much we can do about that.
I'd expect Lilly to have a right go late on, but if unsuccessful, she's going to want to win on Homing Star at 2.52...
Again, we have the top-ranked horse on the Geegeez ratings and if running in mid-division should benefit from that approach. Not so good is her record of just two placed efforts from 10 starts over hurdles, but she did win a 1m4f handicap on the Flat at Ffos Las on heavy ground. Both placed hurdles runs came from the five times Lilly Pinchin has been on board and she (the horse!) was wearing cheekpieces both times too. She has made the frame at both Class 4 and Class 5 and once over today's trip.
That said, both placed efforts were her last two outings, suggesting she's actually in as good form as she's ever been which is possibly/probably because the yard is going pretty well right now too. And if you think her numbers aren't that great (which I admit they aren't), you should look at the rest of the field. This is a mediocre (at best) contest and wouldn't take much winning.
Two mares running in pretty poor contests, both head the Geegeez ratings, both appear to have the right kind of running style for the task ahead and both will benefit from the 5lbs being claimed by the more than useful Lilly Pinchin who has proven to be particularly adept at longer trips (14 from 77 = 18.2% SR at 2m5f to 3m3f).
Any number of horses could make the improvements needed to land either of these races, but I'd expect both of the McPherson runners to be there or thereabouts on Saturday, so we must now look at the markets.
I expected The Distant Lady to be in the top three of the market at around 5/1 and bet365 are the first to break cover at 9/2, whilst I had Homing Star at around 9/2 and again in the top three of the market, so I'm a little surprised to see her as short as 11/4 and 3/1. That said, it really is a poor race and she does bring the best recent form to the table.
I think I'll probably back both, but we're talking small change here for a bit of interest. Maybe a fish supper if either win and no dramas if I lose a couple of quid. And if both win, I might feed the wife too!
Whatever happens, enjoy Saturday's racing (there's some better stuff at Doncaster) and have a great weekend.