Midweek is upon us already and Wednesday aka Hump Day features the Trainer Statistics report as our free-to-all item, whilst our free racecards are for the following races...
- 2.40 Wetherby
- 2.55 Dundalk
- 3.05 Hereford
- 4.20 Wolverhampton
- 4.45 Kempton
And whilst the Trainer Statistics report is an excellent tool, the first of our free races is the second most valuable race all day and it's an open looking Class 2 contest, so today's piece will revolve around the 2.40 Wetherby...
Nine runners are set to go on soft (heavy in places) ground and I'd expect eight of them to fit within a fairly small odds range of maybe 3/1 to 10/1 with Secrete Stream likely to be twice as big again.
Midnight Shadow concedes weight (and plenty of it to some rivals) all round, but he is the only class dropper here. Miah Grace, Nightboattoclyro and West To The Bridge all step up a grade, whilst En Meme Temps ran at Class 4 last time out.
All nine have had a run in the last 10 weeks or shorter and all have had around four weeks or more rest since their last outing so none are thrown back in, but none should have got rusty and we've plenty of positive stats for trainers and jockeys here, especially with the likes of West To The Bridge, Secrete Stream, No Comment and Good Boy Bobby, whilst our Geegeez Ratings are headed by Miah Grace (144) just ahead of Albert's Back, En Meme Temps and Nightboattoclyro all on 142 : suggesting a tight encounter, perhaps.
Individually, here's how I briefly see the nine runners...
Albert's Back is a more than useful hurdler, winning four of five (runner-up after a 423-day break in the other) including three from three here at Wetherby. He's 3 from on soft over hurdles and won his only heavy ground contest and has won at 2m3f, I'd expect him to be a major contender here seeking a hat-trick despite another 8lb rise.
En Meme Temps has had a wind op in the past to help him out, but looks out of his depth here. Just one (class 4) win from 13 attempts to date, his form at this level reads 360. He was, admittedly, only 2.5 lengths off the pace when a runner-up last time out, but he's up 4lbs, 3 furlongs and two classes here, so it's very hard to make a case for him in this one.
Good Boy Bobby's hurdle form reads 1311, but he hasn't seen a hurdle for over 22 months since winning by seven lengths at Ffos Las. Since then, he has two wins and four places from eight efforts over fences, including a 4th of 17 in a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham two months ago. Overall he has 6 wins and 5 places from 13 on soft/heavy ground, he's 2 from 2 here and stays a couple of furlongs beyond today's trip. If re-adjusting to the smaller obstacles should be a major player.
Miah Grace is, at 6 yrs old, the youngest runner here and the only mare too. She's a useful type who after making the frame on both bumper runs, has gone on to win 3 times and make the frame a further 4 times in her nine efforts over hurdles. She's never won here in five attempts at Wetherby but has made the frame four times, she has 3 wins and 4 places from 8 on soft/heavy and stays 2m5f. She's not an obvious winner here, but must make a shortlist of possibles.
Midnight Shadow is probably the class horse of the race and a winner of 4 of his dozen starts over hurdles. That's not as prolific as some of his rivals here, but most of his running has been done in Class 1 company including two wins and a place from four Grade 2 attempts. He acts well on soft and heavy ground. He didn't seem at this best last time out, finishing weakly and there's a worry that he's carrying too much weight here, but he is dropping down from Grade 3 today. He'll be in with a shout, but others appeal more to me.
Nightboattoclyro comes here on a hat-trick, but step up a class and is 5lbs higher than last time out (8lbs inc jockey claim). He's going to need a career-best effort here, but he remains relatively unexposed. His recent form will make him popular in the market, but I just fear that a lack of experience at this level and the likelihood of not having things all his own way might just foil him here. I'd not be amazed to see him in the frame, but I'm not sure he wins this.
No Comment isn't getting any younger at 10 yrs old but was only beaten by a short head last time out, having been caught on the line over a furlong further than this contest. The drop back in trip is sure to help, but he's up 3lbs for not winning and isn't known for stringing back to back decent efforts together. In an easier race, I'd give him a chance but there are too many stronger-looking runners here.
Secrete Stream might well be a former course and distance winner who only lives down the road from here, but I'm not convinced he'll cover the diesel bill to get here. He's probably the weakest of the nine runners here and it's over a year now since he last ran well. he probably needed the run when beaten by 32 lengths last time out, but you have to wonder how much a 12 yr old can bounce back. As you'll see very shortly, his career form stands up well on Instant Expert, but I don't see him doing anything here, sadly.
West To The Bridge represents Team Skelton who are both in good form and have a good record at this venue. Sadly, this horse isn't one of the yard's superstars and although he has won four times over hurdles and gets soft ground, has disappointed in recent runs and was beaten by 27 lengths in a lower grade last time out. He's clearly capable over hurdles, but this looks too good for him.
This filed have won 39 races between them and have plenty of form in the mud, so a quick look at Instant Expert should highlight who'd be best suited to the task ahead...
...which suggests that No Comment and En Meme Temps are likely to be up against it in most areas. West To The Bridge doesn't score well on the going and that's a key element here, so I'm going to eliminate those three along with Secrete Stream from my calculations, giving me just five to consider as I assess the pace angle.
That pace angle suggests that you want to be up with the pace to succeed in this type of contest...
...which doesn't bode well for Nightboattoclyro and I'm now discarding him at this point.
We've no obvious front-runner from our highlighted quintet, but the disregarded En Meme Temps is quit likely to take up the pace and lead them round for a while, so hopefully it won't descend into a falsely-run tactical affair and my preferred quartet can run their normal race.
Of my four to watch, Albert's Back is the logical pick/starting point and I've got him right at the top of my workings alongside Good Boy Bobby. Betway have Albert's Back at 4/1, whilst Good Boy Bobby is currently as long as 9/1 with Hills. The latter seems long at that price and I wouldn't dissuade you from backing either, especially if you went E/W on Good Boy Bobby. I really have very little separating the two and the latter looks great value.
As for the minor honours, Miah Grace shades it for me over Midnight Shadow, who despite his class and breeding just isn't striking the right notes with me. A mix of poor finishing and top weight just put me off him here. Miah Grace has ability and if she goes with the expected leader, could well put too much distance between herself and the field for her to not get caught. She's very interesting at 7/1, albeit a little short for an E/W punt.
Whatever happens here, I think this will be a cracking race.