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Racing Insights, 1st April 2021

Wednesday's race ended up a four-runner affair that lacked any real pace after Stainsby Girl And Cash Again were both withdrawn with the eventual 11/10 favourite Bavington Bob winning a tight tactical affair.

Thursday marks the start of the new month and hopefully Geegeez readers will be no fools after using the free feature of the day, which is access to Instant Expert for ALL races, including our 'races of the day' which are set to be...

  • 1.45 Wetherby
  • 3.50 Wetherby
  • 4.45 Uttoxeter
  • 4.50 Chelmsford
  • 5.00 Clonmel

And it's off to Wetherby we go for the second of those races listed above. The 3.50 Wetherby is an 8-runner, Class 4, handicap chase over 3m1.5f on good ground and they line up as follows...

My initial expectation is that with Sigurd clearly being the form horse here, he'll be very popular and a fairly warm favourite. The rest of the field look pretty well matched, so my aim is to (a) see if Sigurd is a worthy favourite and (b) hopefully identify one at a reasonable price to make the frame.

Bafana Blue won five times and finished a runner-up once in a run of seven chases from mid-April to mid-November in 2019 and although a runner-up on his reappearance in September 2020, hasn't looked the same horse since and although he's on a mark lower than both of his last two wins, I'd be looking elsewhere for a winner today.

Billy Bronco looks a forlorn hope on his recent form line that is littered with P's, but most of his running of late has been at a higher grade, over a longer trip or both. His best recent run was at Hereford two starts ago, when dropped back down to todays trip/class where he was a runner-up on soft ground. He's not the most reliable, of course, but a similar run to two starts ago puts him in the mix in this modest-looking field and he does head the Geegeez ratings.

What A Moment is another who ran well two starts ago, but struggled last time out. He was only touched off by a short head at Plumpton at the start of last mont, but was poor at Kempton 12 days ago, finishing last of five. A bit like the horse above, it will depend which version turns out here, if it's the Plumpton run then he has every chance of being involved, if it's the run from Kempton LTO, he might as well stay home.

Station Master has ability but his temperament is questionable. he does have a tendency to fold if things aren't going his way and also sometimes when they are! He didn't seem interested when pulled on his last run in November 2019 and then his first run of 2020, being pulled up on both occasions. He was then third at Southwell before going down by just nine lengths at Class 3, before heading to Carlisle for another Class 3 contest in October. he was a clear second approaching the last and refused to jump it and on his only run since, was beaten by 59 lengths back at this grade. Not one for the faint hearted to back.

Elixir du Gouet was a handy hurdler/chaser in France winning three times and finishing as runner-up once in seven starts, but hasn't hit those heights at all in the UK, where he has made the frame just once in five races. He was pulled up on his Uk debut and has since been beaten by 34L, 23L, 51L and then by 124L LTO. That was back in December, he has only raced twice in the last two years and hasn't raced beyond 2m4.5f. He has weakened quickly in his last couple and I don't see him staying this trip.

Top Up The Fashion was a creditable second at Fakenham two starts ago, not helped by a loose horse causing him issues 3 from home over this trip. I'm not suggesting that caused him to lose by 12 lengths but he was going well and would probably have been closer at the finish but for being hampered. That was back in mid-November and then he didn't run again for over 15 weeks before re-appearing at Doncaster almost four weeks ago. He looked like he needed the run that day and was eventually pulled up before 4 out in first time blinkers. The blinkers are back on and it is hoped he comes on for having had the run.

Sigurd will no doubt be the main attraction here, having won three of his last five, but it should be pointed out that he failed to complete the other two races and that prior to this purple patch he had won just 2 of his 40 career starts. Add in the fact that he's 9lbs higher for winning here off 100 over C&D 24 days ago and was pulled up off 102 twice already this season. In fact he's won just one of sixteen off a mark higher than 100 so far and now steps up in class.

Lough Salt completes the line-up and receives plenty of weight all round, but he'll need it! 0 from 16 so far over fences and winless in his last 30 races overall since landing a 3m Class 3 hurdle here in mid-October 2017. Has made the frame in three of his last six, though, but failed to complete the other three. Now on a career-low mark, he's as likely to make the frame as he is to finish nowhere, such is his unreliability.

*

Well, I had to second-check the racecard after those write-ups to see if it really was a Class 4 contest, as it's got low-level Class 5 written all over it and shouldn't take a lot of winning. Unfortunately, this bunch aren't known as winners with a combined strike rate of just 12.6% (25 from 198) and a place record of 31.8% (63/198), but Instant Expert will tell us if their past wins are relevant in this contest..

...and it doesn't tell us too much, but I was surprised at Bafana Blue's consistency, although his data would have looked much better a year ago. Sigurd doesn't look a warm favourite on that data above either. Racing off a career-high mark at a higher level than he's been successful at previously might prove difficult here.

We don't have an abundance of pace data for similar contests here at Wetherby, but I can tell that those who want to lead and those who want to hang back tend to struggle with those racing just behind the pace or in mid-division faring best. What we do have. however, is how these horses have raced in the past and based on their last four runs, we expect they'll run as follows...

What I think might well happen here is that Station Master and Top Up The fashion will attempt to set the pace and take each other on, leaving the door open for the likes of Billy Bronco and Sigurd to overhaul them later on. Once passed, neither seem to have the resilience to hold on for a place and will probably both be susceptible to others coming from further back as the pack closes in.

Summary

I think, as I said above that Billy Bronco & Sigurd will overhaul the leaders and I think it's between this pair as to who wins. On my figures/reckoning, Sigurd is the better horse and probably just about shades it, but I've already stated my reservations about him. He'll probably go on to win, but is he a 2/1 horse here? I'm not sure.

Billy Bronco looks good for a place, though and at 11/2 would be a nice price if he could beat the fav and as for one from the pack to finish third, I think I like What A Moment most for that role, if he's in the mood for it. The booking of Tom Scudamore is a positive there and they're currently 5/1.

 

Racing Insights, 23rd March 2021

Tuesday is my 20th wedding anniversary to the long-suffering Mrs W. To mark this suspicious auspicious occasion, we open up the Shortlist Report to ALL readers, along with full access to the following "races of the day"...

  • 12.30 Huntingdon
  • 1.15 Wetherby
  • 2.20 Wetherby
  • 4.05 Clonmel

Sadly, there's not much jumping out at me from the Shortlist Report and of our four feature races, the first of the two Yorkshire contests probably lends itself best to my analysis. It's not an ideal race to assess, as it looks a two-horse race on paper, but our processes are still the same and even if we conclude it will be a two-horse race, we might just find ourselves a decent E/W punt for the third place in the 1.15 Wetherby, a Class 5, Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle over two miles on good to soft ground, where they line up as follows...

Aquitaine Boy and Top beak are someway clear of the pack on Geegeez ratings, whilst the latter is one of two LTO winners, along with Peltwell, who sits third on the ratings.

Our Rodney had one decent run over 6f on the Flat, when narrowly winning a maiden back in September 2018. Hasn't really shown much in nine runs since on A/W, Flat and over hurdles with his best effort coming when third in a 2m0.5f hurdle at Stratford last August. That said, he was still 10 lengths off the pace and although down in class/weight here and the yard back amongst the winners (3/13 in the last fortnight), he looks an unlikely victor here.

Lleyton seems to have been everywhere, having raced in Ireland and the UK on the A/W. the Flat, in bumpers, over hurdles and even chasing. He won a couple of A/W handicaps over 1m6f last October and was a runner-up in a bumper two starts ago, but was pulled up before the last hurdle over a longer trip last time out. Has the chance of a place, but jumping can be sketchy.

Rukwa was running well in A/W staying handicaps at Newcastle before Christmas, but hasn't tackled a hurdle since mid-October 2020 when beaten by 25 lengths off just four pounds higher at Huntingdon, so improvement is needed here, especially for a yard desperately out of form and with a poor record at this venue.

Top Beak has been second and then first in his last two outings, both handicap selling hurdles. he was beaten by 18 lengths on soft ground at Fakenham a month ago before winning by 7.5 lengths on good to soft at Catterick 13 days ago, taking advantage of a 3lb drop in weight. He's up 6lbs for that win and with his jockey's claim reduced to 3lbs here, he's effectively 10lbs higher than LTO and might not be the shoo-in people think.

Argus hasn't completed a race over hurdles since finishing last of 10 at Bangor back in October 2017, beaten by some 65 lengths. He had been running pretty well on the A/W in the interim, though, before reverting to hurdling in January. Sadly, he was pulled before 2 out in both hurdles starts since the switch back to this sphere and he's not one I'd want to have to rely on.

Brawny is an unusual runner, in so much that I'm struggling to find anything positive at all to write about him. Yet to make the frame in 17 attempts across A/W, Flat, Bumpers and Hurdles, I fully expect that to become 0 from 18 here. His narrowest defeat over hurdles is 13 lengths and that pretty much sums him up for me.

Aquitaine Boy was well beaten in two bumpers but suggested promise/ability when fourth on hurdles debut despite being off the track for 293 days. Sadly he hasn't kicked on from there and in three runs since he has been pulled up and then beaten by 74 lengths and 51 lengths. He's only a pound better off here and 51 lengths is a lot to find!

Peltwell took full advantage of a dropping handicap mark to narrowly win a big-field handicap at Wincanton last time out. She was just a short head clear at the post over 1m7.5f hanging on gamely. She might have only just edged it, but she was 12 lengths and more clear of the rest of the pack, so she can be judged to have run a decent race. She raced wide at times that day and hit a couple of hurdles. A tighter line and improved jumping could see her go in again and defy a 7lb rise. There's an interesting jockey change here with in-form Danny McMenamin (6/26 in the last fortnight) taking the ride, which could also help.

Just Got To Get On doesn't inspire me to get on, if I'm honest. A close third on bumper debut just over two years ago is his career highlight. Since then, progressively bigger defeats of 30, 64 and 115 lengths preceded him being pulled up last time out. The only thing I can think of here, is a series of poor runs designed to get him a lowly opening mark. After all, there's no way he should have been in a Listed race last time out.

Farocco has made the frame over hurdles on just two occasions from twenty and they came in back to back contests in June/July 2018. He generally gets beaten by 20 to 40 lengths and there's little to suggest that won't be the case again today.

Kisumu completes this sorry excuse of a field and comes here "boasting" a 0 from 51 record. Yes, 0 from 51! But that's not just over hurdles, he's "only" 0 from 35 over hurdles and has made the frame five times. And in his defence, he was a one-length runner-up over course and distance in this very race last year. Mind you, he was sent off as the 15/8 fav that day and that won't be happening here either. Plus as if his poor recent form wasn't enough of a hindrance, he's 4lbs out of the handicap here.

*

Well, you can definitely tell that we're in that between Cheltenham & Aintree dead zone, where the programme is full of poor horses in poor races and this is no exception. Between the eleven of them, this field have raced on 270 previous occasions, making the frame just 54 (20% SR) times and going on to win just 19 (7%) of them. I might be wrong (but I probably won't be), but I'm guessing we'll not glean too much from Instant Expert from a win perspective and that even the place stats might not great reading, but let's try anyway...

Not many surprises there and the three "best" placed on the win graphic are all carrying much more weight that their last win, but at least they've won recently! Hopefully the pace stats will help me out, otherwise I'm relying on form, my write-ups and gut feeling here.

Up top or nearby is ideally where you want to be here at Wetherby...

...but the last four runs for this bunch say there's absolutely no pace in the race at all and we think it might well be falsely run. Here are the four-race averages...

...which is inconclusive, but if we then consider the horses' two most recent efforts...

...it might well be that Top Beak will try to win this off the front end with Kisumu possibly attempting to keep him company early on.

Summary

This isn't as cut and dried as I hoped it would be after analysing the data/evidence, but I'm happy enough to share my thoughts/opinions on what looks a poor race. I don't give many of these a chance of winning and many of them are perennial losers, but the three I fancy to do best are (alphabetically, of course!) Lleyton, Peltwell and Top Beak. Lleyton offers the best E/W value at 8/1 and I've got him in third.

This means I've ended up where I feared I might, the original two-horse race, but I'm not siding with the fav here. My preference is the 7/2 Peltwell ahead of 2/1 Top Beak. The latter won't be the shoo-in people think and I think he'll just miss out whilst conceding weight to this gutsy mare. Sometimes in this low-grade contests, grit and determination can make up for some ability and she showed she had something, if not balls, last time out.

 

Racing Insights, 8th March, 2021

Saturday's 1-2-3 finished 3-2-1, as Cloth Cap made light of being badly off at the weights. He made all and won rather easily if truth be told. So, close but not close enough for my liking, but we get to do it all over gain for Monday, where 'feature of the day' is free access to the pace tab for ALL races for ALL readers irrespective of membership status. We also offer everyone a full look at a selection of races for free every day and for Monday, they are...

  • 1.20 Leopardstown
  • 2.20 Leopardstown
  • 2.45 Wetherby
  • 3.15 Wetherby

The only handicap of the four above is the first of the two English races, so today's focus will be on the 2.45 Wetherby. It's a 10-runner, Class 5, Novice Handicap Chase over 1 mile 7.5 furlongs on good to soft ground and the top prize is a paltry £2,989.

I don't normally get too involved in these novice handicap chases, but there were plenty of reasons for avoiding the other three races.

Pure Country is a lightly-raced (2 x A/W, 3 x hrd) six year old gelding, whose best run came on his debut in October 2018, finishing 3rd (bt by 2L) of 13 over 1m4f at Kempton and it has been pretty much downhill since. Has been beaten by 50L, 15L and 39L over hurdles so far and unless a switch to chasing suddenly unearths some massive potential, I'm not expecting this one to live up to his father's superstar status.

Dexcite looks like one that punters might get dexcited (sorry!) about here. He won a couple of hurdles contests at similar trips to this and was second in a Class 4 handicap chase two starts ago on soft ground. He was going well in his latest run too but fell at the last when not far off the pace and a similar run to those last two would have him involved here.

Shady Oaks is still a maiden after 16 efforts over fences, but looked like his time was coming with back to back decent runs at Southwell inside a week in late November/early December, but struggled last out when dropped down to Class 4 over 2m4.5f on soft ground. We've better ground here, the drop in trip should help and he's down in class again. Could this be the day?

Rollerruler is another class dropping maiden, but was a runner-up at this grade two starts ago. He was beaten by just over five lengths over 2m on heavy ground at Carlisle, tiring in the mud. This is slightly shorter, the ground is quicker and he has been eased a pound by the assessor. Not one you'd instantly think "winner" about, but he's every chance in a poor race.

Follow Your Fire has actually won a race, getting home by a neck in a 2m4f C4 soft ground hurdle at Sedgefield five starts ago. Unfortunately, the weight he gained for that win has seen him finish 85L, 57L, 14L and 42L off the pace since and now tries the bigger obstacles for the first time off a mark 2lbs lower than his hurdle rating.

Gris de Pron was a runner-up beaten by 1.5 lengths over 2m3.5f (C4) and then won over 2m3f (C5) a dozen days later in late August 2019, both over hurdles but it hasn't gone well for him since. He had a 113-day break in late 2020 and returned to action and chasing (where he's now 0/13) at Southwell just before Christmas, where he probably needed the run, made a few errors and was pulled up before the last fence. Nearer the back than the front for me.

Go To Court is a 13-race maiden (6 x hrd, 7 x chs) who was pulled up in her last start just before Christmas 2020. In her other five efforts over fences in 2020 since moving to Joanne Foster's yard, she ran creditably but without much joy, losing each of the five by an average of around 16 lengths. I'd expect a similar result today and I'd guess her usual 5th or 6th place might be as good as she could hope for here.

Champion Chase is a fanciful bit of wishful thinking, I'd guess. No wins in nine over hurdles and 19 over fences, it's getting to a point where you think he'll retire a maiden, but he did run well a few times in early 2019 to early 2020, finishing 2243322, suggesting he could be one of those who place regularly without winning. He's actually made the frame in 10 of 19 starts over fences and was a decent enough third at Ffos Las last time out. It might say more about the quality of the race than the horse himself when I say he might be a possible E/W bet here, despite running from 4lbs out of the handicap.

Silken Moonlight also runs from 4lbs out of the handicap and has also failed to win any of her previous 14 starts, including 5 on the Flat, 3 on the A/W, 5 over hurdles and a bumper! She makes a chasing bow here, probably because it's the only thing she hasn't tried (and failed at!) yet. Her last three runs have been a Class 5, heavy ground 2m5.5f handicap hurdle, a 2m 0.5f Class 5 bumper and and Class 6, 1m6f A/W handicap. She has been beaten by 24L, 11L and 29L in those three and now is asked to tackle a Class 5 chase : she probably doesn't know whether she's coming or going, but I'm fairly confident she's doing nothing here.

And finally (most likely!), we have Rann of Kutch, who is another maiden mare making a chasing bow from out of the handicap after little joy elsewhere. 6th of 8 (67L) in a bumper was followed by defeats of 84L, 40L and 62L over hurdles to get her a handicap mark of 73, since when she has failed to complete both of her handicap runs. Not finishing last here will be deemed success, I think.

*

I accept that the above is a fairly damning critique of the runners here, but it has to be said sometimes. This is, unfortunately, standard pre-Cheltenham fare. Poor horses thrown together in poor contests, so why do we look at them? Quite simply, because one of these horses will actually go on and win a race and two others will make the frame. Admittedly, if they could all lose, I'm sure they'd find a way of doing that, but let's see if we can find something the market and other punters can't.

*

I'd normally turn to Instant Expert here to see which horses are most likely to relish conditions, but when the group has made the frame just 30 times from 157 runs (19.1% SR), winning just 6 times (3.82%) between them, we might not get much from IE, but perhaps the place side of things might help us whittle them down...

Still not a lot to be gleaned, even after I opened up the going, distance and field criteria to increase sample sizes, but Champion Chase's place credentials look decent from the above, whilst Pure Country, Dexcite, Rollerruler and Go To Court at least have some colour other than red on their form.

What about pace? Might that help us out? I hope so!

So, you want to lead or race in mid-division ideally, although most runner try (and fail) to win from a prominent or held-up position. Shady Oaks looks set to lead them out here and take it on alone. The question is whether hew can create a big enough lead to hold on too and whether he'll have the stamina to repel opposition late on.

Well, he stays 2m3f and beyond, made the frame over 2m5f at Class 4 on good to soft last November at Southwell and might just fancy his chances here.

Summary

Honestly, I'm not particularly enthused by any of these runners and here's where the Geegeez adage of "there might not be a bet in every race" rings truer than ever.

And normally I'd say walk away, but in the spirit of the daily piece and seeing a job through to its conclusions, let me start by narrowing the field by telling that I DON'T like Go To Court, Gris de Pron, Pure Country, Rann of Kutch or Silken Moonlight based on what we've seen above.

So, that's half the field gone.

I noticed that Dexcite was the 5/2 favourite here, so he's gone too! I'm not backing 10yr olds at that price in a poor race after a fall last time out and no great chase form, you might as well back a longshot for a place. That leaves us with four : Champion Chase, Follow Your Fire, Rollerruler and Shady Oaks. They're all of a similar standard/quality, any of the four could make/miss the frame, but if I was having a bet here, I'd want a nice price for an E/W punt on one/some/all of them, depending on your own risk aversion!

Follow Your Fire is the longest at 10/1 and Shady Oaks next at 8's. I don't play E/W below 8's, so if I'm having a bet here, the process of elimination leads me to these two.

Racing Insights, 17th February 2021

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.

Summary

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.

Racing Insights, 26th December 2020

Matt here again, on Christmas Day duty, and wishing you all the very best of the day/season.

It's a bumper Boxing Day menu though, understandably, not quite as bulging as usual. No problem for us, of course, as there is more than enough to go at.

Today's free races of the day are ALL OF THEM!

Today's free feature of the day is ALL OF THEM!

Register here if you've not already to access all we have from now until New Year's Day.

So much to go at is not always a positive, so a little bit of considered whittling is required. Using the card filters and selecting handicaps only, 8-10 runners helps considerably: 41 races down to five!

There is no real standout race from those, but the one with the most exposed form and, therefore, the least guesswork - in theory at least - is probably the 1.28pm from Wetherby, a 2m3f handicap chase on soft ground. Due to rail movements it is actually a 2m4f race, an extra 168 yards added to the advertised distance.

My first port of call is to see if there's any sort of pace bias and, in this case, the pace blobs tell us that this track/trip/going/field size combination seems pretty fair, with the exception of held up runners who have struggled.

That tempers enthusiasm in Demi Sang based on recent run style history but leaves the rest of the field as credibles.

Instant Expert is next, from which it is clear that the favourite Johnbb is well suited.

Indeed, clicking on the distance block for him shows he was a course and distance (and class and going) winner last time out. As a six-year-old against older, generally more exposed, horses he has more scope to step forward again; and as a prominent to midfield runner he should have no issues with being too far back.

Another last day winner, Mercian Prince, has won on soft but his overall profile (1 from 8, just one further place) is uncompelling, and his three wins in recent years have all been on good ground. He has back class and looks otherwise well suited to conditions but that going concern is not especially factored into odds of 4/1 to my eye.

Time To Get Up is hard to weigh up. He's run well in defeat a few times and this is his second start in a handicap. We can see from the bottom row that Jonjo O'Neill, his trainer, does very well with those running under such a circumstance. He is also in excellent recent form.

The horse himself was second to Monkfish, subsequent Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winner, beaten 11 lengths. That one had a hurdles mark of 152 when winning the Albert Bartlett meaning 133 is potentially very well in for this fellow. He's easily the most interesting horse in the race.

Ravenhill Road has fallen the last twice, which must surely have dented his confidence. Moreover, a high winning rating of 127 against a today rating of 133 about this relatively exposed nine-year-old means he's not for me.

While Twotwothree has had less goes than many of these, and tries a different combination of trip and going, he doesn't excite me as a win proposition for all that it wouldn't shock if he won.

Demi Sang is capable on his day, but his day is generally on quicker turf and he'll  likely be ridden quietly at the back: as we've seen above, that's not normally the way to prevail here.

Of the trio of outsiders, Mr McGo makes most appeal: he has a good seven-pound conditional making him rating/weight competitive and, except for his most recent race - a clunk - had been in the mix in his previous seven contests.

Verdict

Probably not as competitive as it first appears. Johnbb looks a legit contender and, if it is either 'not today' or 'I don't like getting my head in front' for Time To Get Up, he has a very strong chance of winning again. But that Monkfish formline is outstanding in the context of this race; and the O'Neill runner is entitled to step forward for his second spin after almost a year off.

It's one of those where I'd kind of like to see what happens with the market: if Time To Get Up was strong around 11am he's probably the bet at 5/2 or better. If he drifted towards 4/1, maybe there's something missing.

At the prices, I'd want to be against Mercian Prince, who looks better suited to quicker turf in recent years, though he may get the run of things on the front. From an each way perspective, Twotwothree and Mr McGo are moderately compelling, but this race centres around the Jonjo runner for me.

- Matt

Racing Insights, 14th October 2020

Wednesday's free feature of the day is the Trainer Statistics report, one of my favourites as you'd probably guess, so let's head straight there and it's the Trainer + Course 5 year form that interests me today and I've highlighted Jedd O'Keeffe purely because he has more than one runner tomorrow, but doesn't have too many to look at in one article...

As you can see he's comfortably above all my parameters for number of qualifiers, win & place percentage, A/E and IV, plus as an added bonus he's profitable at Industry SP at a rate of more than 50p in the pound. Tomorrow he runs two Class 3 hurdlers over 2 and 3 miles respectively on Good to Soft ground (with more rain due), both to be ridden by regular jockey Joe Colliver.

Both have been off the track for around seven months, but both were in great form when lockdown arrived and will be seeking to pick up where they left off, but you'll see that for yourself shortly on the racecards.

I want to start by looking at Jedd's 8 from 32 record here at Wetherby, because it's very important to understand exactly what a stat represents and not everyone might be aware that Jedd is a dual purpose (ie Flat & NH) trainer and that Wetherby is a dual purpose track, so for the purpose of today's analysis, I want to disregard hie Flat and Bumper (NH Flat) runners at this track, leaving us with the following over the past 41 months...

Even better figures that the starting point with the ROI more than doubling and with respect to today's races, those 14 Wetherby jumpers are (and forgive me if I go a bit statty here)...

  • 5 from 13 (38.5%) under Joe Colliver
  • 5 from 12 (41.7%) from male runners (not ideal for Miah Grace admittedly)
  • 4 from 12 (33.3%) with the word soft in the going description
  • 3 from 12 (25%) over hurdles
  • 2 from 8 (25%) over a 2m trip & 1 from 2 (50%) over 3 miles
  • and 1 from 2 (50%) at Class 3

Not huge sample sizes to hang your hat on, but the win % figures are promising and I now want to turn away from the query tool to look at the racecards, speed ratings, instant expert and the report suite for each race, starting with Mr Scrumpy as follows...

As you can see, Mr Scrumpy has two wins and a runner-up finish over the last year, he was a winner last time out at Newcastle in a Class 2 contest on Soft ground, having kicked off that sequence/season with a win here at Wetherby in early November in a 15-runner soft ground Class 3 affair. He'd been off the track for 201 days that time around, yet stayed on to win by four lengths, so a 214 day layoff doesn't concern me too much.

The reports back up the trainer statistic details and also show how well Jedd's horses get on with Joe Colliver on their backs generally and not just here at Wetherby.

The speed ratings for the race are as follows...

...and they too offer encouragement for those seeking to place a bet at a reasonable price. next up is the Instant Expert tab of the racecard and that doesn't really tell us very much...

...other than the first note of caution. Mr Scrumpy runs off 129 today, a career high and some 5lbs higher than his last run/win, so a best-ever performance is needed. That said, this is technically an easier race to win that either of last season's two successes and if in the right frame of mind first time up, 5lb might not be able to anchor him. After all, it's only a bag of spuds 😉

And now to the 5yr old mare, Miah Grace (reminds me a little of my 15 yr old daughter, Mia who herself is a bit of a mare sometimes but without the grace)...

...who like stablemate Mr Scrumpy was in fine form pre-lockdown, winning three times and placing twice from five efforts over hurdles under Joe Colliver. The runner-up finish was her only previous crack at the Wetherby hurdles, when beaten by just a length and a half over course and distance on soft ground. In fairness, that was a Class 2 contest and this should (on paper if nothing else) be an easier task.

Like the earlier race, the speed ratings show her in a favourable light...

...whilst Instant Expert again doesn't tell the whole story, but does point the way...

All her hurdling has been done on soft or worse ground at +/- half a furlong of today's trip under today's jockey, so she'll certainly be used to the conditions faced here, but like Mr Scrumpy, she also needs a career-best effort after being bumped up 9lbs for her last run/win of the previous campaign, so that might explain why she's twice the price of her stablemate.

Again, she's another who goes well after a break, her opening run/win last season came after six months off the track, so once again I'm not too peturbed about the lack of a run.

Summary

The stats point to good runs from both O'Keeffe hurdlers at Wetherby and I like the look of both. The only potential fly in the ointment has to be the increase in weight, but both horses have performed well in a higher grade suggesting they might be better than they'd need to be here. Clearly with a smaller hike in weight, Mr Scrumpy would seem to have a better chance, but at double digit odds, the mare might be a nice E/W flutter too.

Stat of the Day, 2nd March 2020

Saturday's pick was...

6.30 Southwell : Charlie D @ 10/3 BOG WON at 9/4 (Made all, clear from 2f out, ridden over 1f out, stayed on strongly and won unchallenged by 2.5 lengths)

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.40 Wetherby :

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?

Casual Cavalier @ 4/1 BOG

...in a 7-runner, Class 4, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m3½f on heavy ground worth £4,809 to the winner...

Why?...

This 12 yr old gelding was a winner last time out when scoring at today's class and trip under today's jockey on soft ground at relatively nearby Catterick 31 days ago and despite going up in weight, he still runs off a winnable mark today.

He now has 6 wins and 6 further places from 23 efforts over fences and today's conditions look ideal for him as those 23 races have yielded...

  • 6 wins, 5 places from 17 at odds of Evens to 5/1
  • 5 wins, 6 places from 20 at Class 4
  • 5 wins, 6 places from 19 in cheekpieces
  • 5 wins, 4 places from 14 after less than 5 weeks rest
  • 5 wins, 4 places from 14 off a mark (OR) of 100-110
  • 5 wins, 3 places from 11 at trips of 2m½f to 2m4f
  • and 2 wins, 2 places from 6 on heavy ground

...and Casual Cavalier is 4 from 6 (66.6% SR) for 12.12pts (+202% ROI) when sent off at Evs to 5/1 wearing cheekpieces in a Class 4 chase over a trip of 2m½f to 2m4f off a mark of 100-110 after less than five weeks rest, including 2 from 2 for 4.81pts on heavy ground.

His trainer Tristan Davidson has had an excellent last couple of years and has been profitably follow blindly across all three (Flat, A/W & NH) disciplines, a feat rarely achieved, but we're obviously just going to look at his record in this code today, because...

...his NH runners are 22 from 72 (30.6% SR) for 52.33pts (+72.7% ROI) over those last two years and here are just 10 of the ways he got those winners under conditions faced today...

  1.  21/61 (34.4%) for 59.8pts (+98%) in races worth less than £8,000
  2.  20/62 (32.3%) for 49.9pts (+80.5%) from male runners
  3.  20/52 (38.5%) for 64.4pts (+123.8%) within 65 days of their last run
  4.  18/60 (30%) for 50.9pts (+84.9%) with Harry Reed in the saddle
  5.  18/41 (43.9%) for 30.8pts (+75.1%) at odds of 5/1 and shorter
  6.  16/54 (29.6%) for 31.7pts (+58.7%) in handicaps
  7.  12/32 (37.5%) for 51.1pts (+159.8%) over trips of 2m½f to 2m6f
  8.  12/32 (37.5%) for 32.6pts (+101.9%) at Class 4
  9.  6/11 (54.6%) for 25.6pts (+232.4%) during March to April
  10.  and 5/14 (35.7%) for 8pts (+57.1%) over fences...

...whilst males sent off at Evens to 5/1 under Harry Reed for less than £8k within 65 days of their last run are 12 from 19 (63.2% SR) for 34.4pts (+181.1% ROI), including...

  • 10 from 16 in handicaps
  • 8 from 12 at Class 4
  • 6 from 8 over 2m½f to 2m6f
  • 5 from 5 in March/April
  • and 3 from 7 over fences...

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Casual Cavalier @ 4/1 BOG as was available from BetVictor, Hills & Unibet at 8.00am Monday, with plenty of 7/2 elsewhere but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.40 Wetherby

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!

Stat of the Day, 2nd March 2020

Saturday's pick was...

6.30 Southwell : Charlie D @ 10/3 BOG WON at 9/4 (Made all, clear from 2f out, ridden over 1f out, stayed on strongly and won unchallenged by 2.5 lengths)

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.40 Wetherby :

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?

Casual Cavalier @ 4/1 BOG

...in a 7-runner, Class 4, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m3½f on heavy ground worth £4,809 to the winner...

Why?...

This 12 yr old gelding was a winner last time out when scoring at today's class and trip under today's jockey on soft ground at relatively nearby Catterick 31 days ago and despite going up in weight, he still runs off a winnable mark today.

He now has 6 wins and 6 further places from 23 efforts over fences and today's conditions look ideal for him as those 23 races have yielded...

  • 6 wins, 5 places from 17 at odds of Evens to 5/1
  • 5 wins, 6 places from 20 at Class 4
  • 5 wins, 6 places from 19 in cheekpieces
  • 5 wins, 4 places from 14 after less than 5 weeks rest
  • 5 wins, 4 places from 14 off a mark (OR) of 100-110
  • 5 wins, 3 places from 11 at trips of 2m½f to 2m4f
  • and 2 wins, 2 places from 6 on heavy ground

...and Casual Cavalier is 4 from 6 (66.6% SR) for 12.12pts (+202% ROI) when sent off at Evs to 5/1 wearing cheekpieces in a Class 4 chase over a trip of 2m½f to 2m4f off a mark of 100-110 after less than five weeks rest, including 2 from 2 for 4.81pts on heavy ground.

His trainer Tristan Davidson has had an excellent last couple of years and has been profitably follow blindly across all three (Flat, A/W & NH) disciplines, a feat rarely achieved, but we're obviously just going to look at his record in this code today, because...

...his NH runners are 22 from 72 (30.6% SR) for 52.33pts (+72.7% ROI) over those last two years and here are just 10 of the ways he got those winners under conditions faced today...

  1.  21/61 (34.4%) for 59.8pts (+98%) in races worth less than £8,000
  2.  20/62 (32.3%) for 49.9pts (+80.5%) from male runners
  3.  20/52 (38.5%) for 64.4pts (+123.8%) within 65 days of their last run
  4.  18/60 (30%) for 50.9pts (+84.9%) with Harry Reed in the saddle
  5.  18/41 (43.9%) for 30.8pts (+75.1%) at odds of 5/1 and shorter
  6.  16/54 (29.6%) for 31.7pts (+58.7%) in handicaps
  7.  12/32 (37.5%) for 51.1pts (+159.8%) over trips of 2m½f to 2m6f
  8.  12/32 (37.5%) for 32.6pts (+101.9%) at Class 4
  9.  6/11 (54.6%) for 25.6pts (+232.4%) during March to April
  10.  and 5/14 (35.7%) for 8pts (+57.1%) over fences...

...whilst males sent off at Evens to 5/1 under Harry Reed for less than £8k within 65 days of their last run are 12 from 19 (63.2% SR) for 34.4pts (+181.1% ROI), including...

  • 10 from 16 in handicaps
  • 8 from 12 at Class 4
  • 6 from 8 over 2m½f to 2m6f
  • 5 from 5 in March/April
  • and 3 from 7 over fences...

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Casual Cavalier @ 4/1 BOG as was available from BetVictor, Hills & Unibet at 8.00am Monday, with plenty of 7/2 elsewhere but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.40 Wetherby

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!