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Racing Insights, 1st March

We ended February with a nice result as my 1-2-3 finished 1st, NR and 2nd and although our 9/2 about Lucky's Dream was subject to a 30p Rule 4 deduction, the 3.15/1 payout was still two and a half times better than the 5/4 SP. Cardano's defection meant that anyone getting on after the early morning news he wouldn't run could also have landed a 5.7/1 forecast, so well done to those of you on that.

Monday heralds the start of a new week/month and we're closing in on the highlight of the NH season for many, but there are still several race days to negotiate first, starting here. To assist you, the Pace tab is freely available for all races every Monday and our 'races of the day' are as follows...

  • 1.00 Plumpton
  • 5.10 Ayr
  • 5.50 Wolverhampton
  • 7.20 Wolverhampton

The first of the two A/W contests above is the best quality (on paper at least) of the four free races and although only six are set to go to post, it looks a tight competitive affair, which we can hopefully unravel, as we tackle the 5.50 Wolverhampton, a 6-runner, Class 2 handicap for 4yo+ runners over 6f on the Tapeta. The winner will receive £11,828 and is somewhere amongst these...

A quick glance at the Geegeez Speed ratings also suggests a tight affair, as fourth ranked Venturous scores 97, meaning the first four are separated by just 2 points. Fizzy Feet heads those rankings, shades it on form and is one of three dropping down from Class 1 racing. Joint second rated Huraiz moves in the opposite direction, but probably has the second best recent form.

We've a couple of in-form yards and one in-form jockey, whilst we've one yard with a positive track icon and two jockeys proven here. All six runners have previously won over track or distance, one has won at both and three have won over course and distance...

Summerghand is one of the three former course and distance winners from winning a Class 2 contest here on Boxing Day 2019, but has struggled of late, finishing 8367 over the last six months. He was 7th of 9 last time out when beaten by almost 3 lengths in a Listed race at Lingfield just over three weeks ago on his comeback from 17 weeks off the track. He carries top-weight here and is rated a pound higher than his last win and I doubt he's top 3 material.

Stats-wise...

...he could do a lot worse than have Adam Kirby in the saddle, but the recent form of the yard is a worry for me.

Venturous is another C&D winner, albeit at Class 5 back in April 2019. He's been doing most of his A/W running over 5f since then, but certainly likes the tapeta, placing in 7 of 12 (inc 5 wins) races. He has won four of his last six outings, but was beaten by a length and a quarter off this mark last time out. That said, he was staying on well and might relish the step back up in trip.

Stats...

Aberama Gold was in great form in the winter winning three Class 2 6f handicaps on the bounce (also a Listed race runner-up by 0.75L in the middle of that run of form), but hasn't had the same success this year. However, his form is better than 544 might suggest and he was less than three quarters of a length off the pace last time out in a Listed contest and is a pound lower here than his last handicap run.

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Stats...

Major Jumbo returns to action after more than 23 weeks off the track since he finished 23rd of 24 in a Class 2 handicap at Ayr, prior to that he had finished 7th of 9 in back to back Listed races. He's a former course winner (1/1 here) and has three wins over this trip and has also won a Listed race, but after so long off the track, he's likely to need the run. Could struggle here.

Stat-wise, trainer Kevin Ryan was 9 from 36 (25% SR, A/E 1.65) in handicaps here at Wolverhampton during 2018 and 2019, but was 0 from 9 here last year and this is his first runner here for 2021.

Fizzy Feet is the only mare in the race and she was a winner at this trip/class two starts ago and was a runner-up beaten by just a neck in a 6f Listed contest last time out, where she was 0.5L and another neck ahead of the afore-discussed Aberama Gold. She's a former course and distance winner and has won 6 of 18 A/W handicaps to date including 5 from 12 over this trip. On recent form alone, she looks like the one to beat here.

Stats...

...and trainer David Loughnane's handicappers are 22 from 125 (17.6% SR, A/E 1.23) over 6/7f here at Wolverhampton since the start of 2018.

Huraiz makes up the field here carrying bottom weight and although he has ran creditably in his last two outings, he is 0 from 8 since landing a pair of Class 4 6f Novice contests in his first two outings back in August 2019. His two runs this year have seen him finish 3rd of 9, beaten by 3.5 lengths off a mark of 96 and then 2nd of 9, beaten by 2.75 lengths off 95. He goes off the same mark today, but steps up in class, making it difficult to see him winning, although he could well be involved for minor honours.

Stat-wise...

...not much of note, but the yard had a better second half of February than the first and might be coming into form.

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Only six run here, but with the exception of Huraiz with "just" ten previous outings, there's plenty of experience in this field. Between the six of them, they have raced 193 times, making the frame in almost half of them (96 places = 49.74%) and going on to win a respectable 41 times (21.24%). How and where they've won their races and their relevance to today's contest is clear to see on Instant Expert, of course...

Fizzy Feet hasn't the best record in handicaps here, but the rest of her profile catches the eye off a decent sample size, Venturous looks consistent if not spectacular, whilst from a percentage point of view, these are ideal conditions for Aberama Gold, but three runs aren't a lot to hang your hat on.

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The draw stats here basically say you don't want a low draw, especially not stall 1, which isn't good news for Huraiz's bid to win a handicap for the first time...

...but that doesn't mean those drawn low can't win. If they do want to win, the advice is that they're going to need to get out sharp-ish and lead and even then the numbers are stacked against them with higher drawn horses only faring worse when held-up, as shown below...

So, if we look at either end of the draw, we'd say that Huraiz would need to lead and try to make all, whilst the likes of Fizzy Feet could sit in mid-division and still have a great chance.

When we look at race positioning, we convert the above four racing styles into numbers where 1 = held up, 2 = mid-div, 3= prominent and 4 = led and here, in draw order, is how our runners have raced over their last four outings...

...and we can overlay those styles onto that heat map above to give us a suggestion of how the race might unfold...

The suggestion here is that Fizzy Feet and Major Jumbo have the best pace/draw make-up and both are likely to be up front. Huraiz doesn't seem to be too well positioned, whilst the other three aren't too far off a good position.

I have a feeling Major Jumbo will go off quickly and soon feel the effect of his lay-off and I'd expect him to go backwards from about a furlong from home, ruling him out of contention, whilst there's nothing I've seen so far to suggest Huraiz is winning this either. He might be progressive, but he isn't winning and this is his toughest assignment yet. This leaves me with four in contention and one to rule out before the summary.

The last one to go before my summery and three against the field is going to be Summerghand. The yard is out of form, as is the horse and he's carrying too much weight here. His Geegeez rating is low and I've just too many negatives about him, so he's not for me.

Summary

Alphabetically, I'm left with Aberama Gold, Fizzy Feet and Venturous. Fizzy Feet beat Aberama Gold last time out and I don't see that form being overturned here and as I think the mare is better than Venturous on form, Instant Expert and Pace/Draw placings, it means I'm going with Fizzy Feet here.

Of the other pair, I don't have that much between them, but Aberama Gold's stats are just that bit better, so I think he edges it for the runner-up slot.

Fizzy Feet currently trades at 3/1, which I think is a decent enough price, whilst the market has Huraiz as the 9/4 fav. One of us has it quite wrong, fingers crossed it's not me!

Racing Insights, 15th February 2021

Tough going for me at the moment with things not quite going my way of late, but Monday heralds a new week and six more opportunities. To assist everyone with their punting today, we make the PACE tab available to all readers for all races, included our featured free races, which are scheduled to be...

  • 1.40 Lingfield
  • 2.20 Warwick
  • 2.50 Warwick
  • 7.30 Wolverhampton

The Lingfield race is an A/W jumpers bumper and I don't like those, the first at Warwick has 19 runners and the second has just four and a probable odds-on jolly, so it's off to the Black Country for a look at the 7.30 Wolverhampton...

Nagasaki Dream is the lowest rated by the handicapper in this field off a mark of 62 and is the lowest scorer of the five runners with a Geegeez Speed Rating. With a 3lb claimer on board, he receives at least 13lbs from his rivals after all claims are considered, but I doubt that's going to be enough to get him a win.

Last of six and sixth of seven in his two handicap starts to date, both here at Wolverhampton at this Class 4 grade saw him go down by almost 14 lengths over 1m0.5f and then most recently he was beaten by nearly 12 lengths over today's course and distance off a mark just four pounds higher. I'd be very surprised if he's not last home.

Nortonthorpe Boy is likely to be popular after three wins and a runner-up finish in his last four starts, he's a former course and distance winner (the only one in this field) and he tops the Geegeez ratings.

He made all to win last time out at Kempton over a mile, just hanging on to win by a half a length over a one mile trip. That was his fourth run in 15 days and thankfully, he's been rested for 33 days since. He's likely to have needed the break as this is a sharper trip, he's up two classes and is now some 6lbs higher than his last run to a career-high mark of 74. Definite chances here, but it won't be easy.

Obtuse won four on the bounce (1 x Class 6 and 3 x Class 5) over 5f (twice) and 6f (twice) in a 40-day period to January 2nd, including two wins here at Wolverhampton. He then had 22 days rest prior to re-appearing at Lingfield 22 days ago to finish third.

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He was actually last home of three if truth be told, but that was a Class 3 contest and he was only headed late on in a 2.25 length defeat. He now drops down in class and is 7lb lower thanks to the booking of the in-form Rhys Clutterbuck, but he has yet to prove he gets 7f. If getting the trip, he'll be bang in there at the close, you'd have thought.

Praise of Shadows is very lightly raced, but has won one of his three starts to date, scoring on debut over 7f at Chester in a Class 5 contest last August nine days before a 16 length defeat at Group 3.

He has been off the track for 5 months since his last run and has had a wind op in that time away from the track. His trainer, Marco Botti does well with horses returning from a lay-off, but on an A/W debut on a first post-wind op run, this one is probably left alone.

Sweet Bertie is the highest rated by the assessor here and runs off the same mark of 82 as he did in a 5 lengths defeat on this track over 1m0.5f on Boxing Day. His sole win to date came over that trip here in November when holding on by a neck off a mark of 77, so 82 seems a little steep.

He has been steadily consistent without setting the world on fire so far and it is hoped that a drop back to 7f (where he was second and third in his last two runs) and the application of first time blinkers will do the trick today. He's in with a shout, but I'm not wild about him at this point.

Toussarok makes up the field here and he has been running pretty well without reward finishing 2233 in his last four outings, all at this class and trip and not being beaten by far off marks of 79 and 80.

He was only beaten by half a length behind the in-form Fayathaan over this track, trip and class last time out, having led until a furlong from home. Mark Johnston's horses have had a great month (13 wins from 39) and they'll be hoping for success here, I think he just might be a couple of pounds too high.

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Between them, this field have a respectable win/place strike rate, making the frame in 20 of 47 (42.6%) races to date, winning 10 (21.3%) of them and when it comes to A/W handicaps, the field have achieved the following...

I wasn't too keen on Nagasaki Dream nor Praise of Shadows from my write-ups and Instant Expert has done little to persuade me otherwise. I'm overlooking Toussarok's line of red for now, as I know he has been knocking on the door of late and with the three highlighted above all going up in weight by 5, 6 or 9 pounds, him staying on the same mark (albeit too high for my liking) might be a positive.

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We don't get too many 6-runner handicaps at this trip here at Wolverhampton, but of the last 40, it has paid to be drawn more centrally with low draws faring worst. Stall 3 has proved to be the most successful from a win perspective with runners emerging from box four making the frame most often. It's not an exact science with small fields, but those details certainly look good for Nortonthorpe Boy and Obtuse.

That said, these small-field races often end up being tactical affairs, whereby leaders tends to get swallowed up (unless they're from a central draw) and the ideal "pozzy" is to sit mid-division waiting to pounce, which what Toussarok and Sweet Bertie would probably need to do from stalls 2 and 6.

Thanks to the pace tab (free to all users today), we can quickly see how these six horses have run in the past and we can overlay those past running styles onto that heatmap above. We're well aware that this is not a guarantee of how they will run, but trainers/horses do tend to stick to tactics.

Here's that overlay...

...suggesting we could well have a hot heat on our hands. Past performances suggest Obtuse & Nortonthorpe Boy will both attempt to go forward from the off with Sweet Bertie and Toussarok just in behind. Toussarok's pace/draw make-up looks better than Sweet Bertie's and I think that might be decisive in the battle for third spot, but I'd not be surprised if the two leaders get out and stay out.

Summary

Looks like we might have a proper sprint contest here and based on what I've read & written about these horses, my preference is for Obtuse at 9/2. He was in great form prior to his 9lb weight rise last time out, but the in-form Rhys Clutterbuck now negates 7 of those 9lbs and I think that'll be enough to see him home, assuming he gets the 7f, of course..

I don't expect him to have it all his own way, though. Nortonthorpe Boy will run with him all the way and I wouldn't be surprised if Toussarok isn't involved late on too, but it's Obtuse for me at a value price and I've little separating Nortonthorpe Boy & Toussarok. The market has those pair at 2/1 and 10/3 respectively, so for forecast purposes, I'd prefer the latter to make the frame at the former's expense.

Racing Insights, 13th February 2021

The recent cold spell even caused Chelmsford to abandon today, leaving just one of today's two featured runners with a race. In fairness to Luscifer, he was closer than I thought he'd be at the finish, but I was right to even discount him from a top three finish.

Still no UK jumps racing to be had on Saturday, whose feature of the day in the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst our list of free racecards are for the following...

  • 3.25 Naas
  • 4.00 Naas
  • 4.44 Wolverhampton
  • 6.45 Wolverhampton
  • 7.45 Wolverhampton

And I think I'll combine the feature of the day with the first of our free Wolverhampton contests...

...to see if Steal The Scene is likely to win the 4.44 Wolverhampton.

From a form perspective, the top weight Broken Rifle is the only LTO winner on the field and wins have proven hard to come by for this group of late, although Seaforth has won two of his last five. Street Poet is the only class mover, dropping down from Class 5 and he's one of four previous course and distance winners, along with Seaforth, Steal The Scene and Born To reason, whilst Elixsoft has won over both course and distance but not at the same time and Broken Rifle has won here too.

Broken Rifle finally got off the mark last time out when scoring here at Wolverhampton over a furlong shorter just five days ago. He carries a penalty for that win and hasn't proved to be too reliable in the past, but his yard is in great form right now and if he repeats the standard of his last run, he's going to be there or thereabouts. That probably says more about the lack of quality in opposition, but you can only beat what's in front of you.

Seaforth has been off the track for almost 21 weeks, but did win two of his last five runs in 2020, last tasting success at Lingfield in August. He has previously won 4 of 20 here at Wolverhampton including 2 from 9 over C&D. He's still 4lbs higher than his last win and is likely to need the run here. I'd look elsewhere.

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Steal The Scene is the TJ Combo horse from above, so I won't repeat those stats, but he'll be looking to turn the clock back to late 2019 when he landed a hat-trick of wins on this track. He's now just 2lbs higher than his last win and looked like coming back to form when only beaten by a length here last time out. Jockey Rossa Ryan is in good nick and if waited with, would have a great chance.

Shine On Brendan is a 15-race maiden and in the course of 12 handicap defeats has seen his mark slide from 75 to today's 59, jockey George Rooke will take another 3lbs off but I'm not convinced that'll be enough to help him break his duck. I wouldn't totally discount him for a place, after a decent enough run here over a furlong shorter last time out. He was only three quarters of a length outside the places that day and now effectively 4lbs lower, could take his A/W place record to 6 from 13.

Elixsoft is a former course winner, but that was over three years ago and she's not been here since, although she's 2 from 19 on Newcastle's Tapeta. Off the track for 96 days since a 15 length defeat over 7 furlongs at Southwell, she's now back up in trip. She'd probably need the run to be honest, but even then she wouldn't be high on my considerations.

Bankawi has only ran on the A/W three times to date, all on Tapeta, making the frame in each of the last two, beaten by just a length each time over course and distance (she was just a nose ahead of Steal The Scene LTO). If things go her way, she's every chance of another place finish.

Street Poet is 8 from 32 here at Wolverhampton, an excellent record that includes three wins from 13 over course and distance, but hasn't run well since winning here over 7 furlongs ten races ago and has finished last of 12 and 10th of 11 in his last two outings, both on this track. After 54 career starts, he's now on an all-time low mark, but he's not for me here despite the drop in class.

Born To Reason is the lowest rated here by the assessor and seems to run here at Wolverhampton almost exclusively nowadays (10 of his last 11 have been here). He won a couple of races here in November/December 2019 and is 2 from 6 over C&D, but has struggled since. He was, admittedly, fourth here last time out but I can't see him being too close today.

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As I said earlier, plenty of these have course, distance and course/distance form, so the easiest way of comparing suitability is via Instant Expert...

As you'd expect at Class 6, not much green around denoting the lack of quality/consistency, but quite a bit of amber on display. Our original starting point, Steal The Scene, has some good numbers to his name and has been allocated stall 1, but from just a draw perspective I'm not convinced there's much of a bias anyway...

...and even the way the draw combines with horses' running styles in fairly inconclusive. There are obviously better race positions to be in than others no matter where you're drawn, but with just a few exceptions, there's no real bad pace/draw combos in similar races...

I suppose that in the case of Steal The Scene in stall 1, he'd be better off racing prominently or in mid-division and when I click to the pace tab, I find that in in his last four outings his average race position sits nicely between prominence and mid-division and in similar contests here, prominent racers have fared best.

We can highlight this when we overlay all our competitors running styles...

The upshot of the above is that I'd be loathe to discount runners on the basis of draw, pace or even the pace/draw combination and with Instant Expert also not telling us too much, we need to revert to our opening section ie recent form and gut feeling. So, with that in mind, I'm going to eliminate Born To Reason, Elixsoft, Seaforth and Street Poet from my considerations. Based on my short write-ups of each runner, none of those four eliminations should be a surprise to you.

Summary

Having jettisoned half of the eight runners, I'm left with Bankawi, Broken Rifle, Shine On Brendan and our TJ Combo horse, Steal The Scene. Of the four, I think Shine On Brendan is the weakest. He's likely to lead, doesn't generally see races out and I can see him getting caught and beaten, so he's not making my three against the field.

Of my final three, much will depend on Broken Rifle's ability to cut through traffic late on and whether he runs as well as LTO. If he manages to pull both off, I think he could well win, but it'll be tight. Bankawi looks to have an ideal pace/draw set up, is in good nick and will win one of these soon, whilst our feature horse Steal the Scene also has an excellent chance if he doesn't go off as quickly as he did LTO.

So, to return to the question we started with : can Steal The Scene win here? Yes, I think he can, but I've Broken Rifle as being marginally better if he runs like he did last time and I've got Bankawi just behind the pair of them.

Broken Rifle and Bankawi are priced at 5/2 and 10/3 respectively and I wouldn't want to back anything in this race at those prices. Steal The Scene is an 11/2 chance right now and that might well represent better value, as Broken Rifle isn't guaranteed to run well twice in a row and he might well hit traffic.

 

Racing Insights, 10th February 2021

Wednesday's feature of the day is the very popular Trainer Statistics report and our free races of the day were as follows...

  • 1.50 Fontwell
  • 3.03 Sedgefield
  • 3.10 Fairyhouse
  • 4.40 Fairyhouse
  • 8.15 Wolverhampton

Sadly, there is no jumps racing in the UK or Ireland leaving us with just the 8.15 Wolverhampton from our free list. It's a pretty poor looking contest to be fair, but it (a) looks quite open and (b) has to have a winner, so let's take a look at it.

It's a lowly Class 6, A/W handicap over 6 furlongs on the Tapeta. Twelve runners aged 4 to 11 will aim to the first prize of £2,782 and the card looks like this alphabetically...

An initial look at the card suggests that Breath of Spring (won LTO) and Kingsley Klarion (2nd LTO) come here in the best form whilst all bar Cappadocia have been seen in the last six weeks. Cappadocia is the oldest in the field at 11 and now makes a yard debut after more than year off track at a time of life most horses are heading towards retirement.

All bar Presumptous who drops down a grade for a handicap debut ran in Class 6 company last time out and unusually for a decent sized field here at Wolverhampton, we have no previous course and distance winners. Half of the field of 12 have won over this 6f trip and a quarter of them have won here before with two, Kingsley Klarion and Secret Potion, having won over 6f elsewhere as well as having a course victory to their name.

Nothing really of note from the trainer, but we've a few in-form jockeys (14 and/or 30) and a couple with good track records (C5), whilst the final column is the Geegeez Speed Ratings headed by Tool maker, Doctor Nuno and Secret Potion. I admit I'm a bit surprised about Toolmaker's rating, as I've got that one down as one to avoid along with Back From Dubai. I suspect they'll both go off longer than 20/1 and I'm happy to omit them here.

After taking those two out who have a combined 0 wins and 1 place from 15 races, we're left with 10 runners who between them haven't fared particularly well from an average of 30 runs each (skewed by a couple of old hands, of course!) The remaining ten have made the frame in 81 of 299 races, a place strike rate of just 27.1%, including only 26 winners (8.7% SR), so I'd expect the place side of Instant Expert to tell us more...

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...than the win element does...

What the two do tell us is that Cappadocia and Kinsgley Klarion have decent long-term A/W records, Doctor Nuno likes it here at Wolverhampton, Fard is pretty solid for a place at Class, Course and Distance and Secret Potion has some good percentages from a a large number of runs. From a weight perspective, Cappadocia and Secret Potion are running off marks considerably lower than their last win.

Pace, draw and the way they work together is generally very important in short distance contests, especially in large-ish fields having to navigate a bend as they do here over 6f at Wolverhampton. The analysis of the draw says there's no massive advantage for any stall in 12 runner contests over this trip, but being drawn low does look marginally advantageous...

And a similar story of no real advantage is shown in the pace/draw heatmap, where it just slightly favours high drawn leaders, then low draw prominence and mid-drawn leaders. Those drawn high don't want to stuck in mid-division, though...

And when we overlay the past running styles of our runners...

...the suggestion is that it pays to lead here, but we've no real pace setters in the race, so it could be falsely run playing into the hands of the hold-up horses. Both Quarry Beach and Toolmaker have led in one of their last four outings, whilst Breath of Spring has race prominently in three of his last four.

So where are we? Well, I've got four in mind. Doctor Nuno who comes back down in trip and has won on this track, Fard who shows up well on IE and has a low draw, Kingsley Klarion who is one of the form horses and has won here and Secret Potion who looks to be coming back to some kind of form.

Doctor Nuno won here back in November, when the best part of two lengths clear over 7f. Has been running over further of late and was beaten by just under three lengths over a mile last time out. He seemed to approach that race as though it was a 6f contest, going off too quickly and doing too much toom soon.Wears blinkers for the first time as he drops back in trip off a mark 2lbs lower than LTO.

Fard was a winner over this trip at Kempton back in October and has raced four time since including twice here over course and distance, getting beat by a head in mid-December and by less than 1.5 lengths in early January. The booking of Marco Ghiani is a positive here.

Kingsley Klarion won here way back in November 2015, landing a 5f nursery for Mark Johnston. Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then and this 8 yr old last won at Chelmsford four months and six races ago and was a runner-up here over course and distance last time out.

He was beaten by the best part of three lengths that day in a race whose form hasn't really amounted to much (just 1 places from 6 runs), but he does get to run off the same mark as LTO.

Secret Potion hasn't won any of 17 races since scoring over 5f at Chepstow in August 2019 off a mark of 65. Now rated at just 57, he's on a winnable mark and he's a pound lower than LTO when he ran better than the bare result suggests.

He was fourth of nine here over course and distance when he didn't get the rub of the green and was stuck in a poor position approaching the closing stages, but made good headway to get within three lengths of the winner and only missing the frame by a neck.

Summary

I've split my four into two groups, as I like Doctor Nuno & Secret Potion more than I like Fard & Kingsley Klarion.

Of the latter group, I don't have much between them on my workings, but a slight preference for Fard is amplified by him being offered at 15/2, whereas KK offers little value as low as 9/4 or 5/2.

As for my choice of winner, I actually like Secret Potion more than Doctor Nuno here and at 14/1 versus 6/1, I can afford to follow my instinct and cover my back at the same time. This is a poor contest, if truth be told, but Secret Potion should be able to at least make the frame, so 14/1 e/w is the call here, especially with most bookies paying 4 places.

Racing Insights, 1st February 2021

Saturday didn't quite pan out for me, as my preference Koeman was only fourth at 9/1, the best part of three lengths behind the 5/4 favourite who I could (and possibly should) have backed at double those odds.

Would have, could have or should have is pretty irrelevant after the fact, so let's focus on the new week/month starting now with Monday's feature of the day providing the PACE tab for all races for all users, including our 'races of the day', which are...

  • 12.15 Lingfield
  • 3.10 Dundalk
  • 7.40 Wolverhampton

...and with the first two being an A/W jumpers bumpers and a low grade big-field Irish A/W handicap, I'm going to look at the last of that trio, the 7.40 Wolverhampton which looks a fairly open contest that probably won't have a short-priced fav, so there cold be potential for a bet (or two). We start with the card...

...which is an 11-runner field of generally inexperienced runners. Spirit of Rowdown (11) and Arthur's Angel (9) have 20 runs between them, but the other nine runners have only a further 37 appearances between them. From a form perspective, only Go Oscar Go and Bodroy have failed to make the frame recently.

Destacado has placed in two of her three starts to date (both places over 7f on Tapeta at Newcastle), but hasn't been helped by being allocated top weight here for her handicap debut here. She has, however, looked progressive, is rated 2nd on the Geegeez ratings and clearly handles Tapeta. Jockey Billy Garritty takes a useful 5lbs off and he's riding well (3 wins & 3 places from 12 over the last fortnight). The downside is that the filly is up in trip by a furlong and a half and her yard is 0 from 20 here over the last year, 2 from 35 here overall and is 0 from 18 with all handicap debutants.

Aviary was second at Lingfield in mid-December earning herself a tricky opening handicap mark of 70 from which she was 7th of 10 here at Wolverhampton over 7f three weeks ago. She ran OK to be fair and looked like a longer trip might suit. She's up in trip by 1.5f and down in ratings (OR) by 2lbs, whether that's enough is debatable, but she should be closer than last time although others will appeal more. Her yard do have a decent record (17 from 75 since the start of 2018) with 2nd time handicappers, though.

Go Oscar Go is probably the worst in the field here and his 15 length defeat over course and distance in mid-December doesn't bode well for this race, I'm afraid, as it was a poor race to be well beaten in (field is 0 from 13 since). He fared better down in trip at Kempton last time out, but back up in trip on this surface for a handicap debut off a mark of 68? No thanks, even if the yard are 111812173 here at Wolverhampton in the last six weeks.

Bodroy will assume the role of worst in race if the above runner doesn't. He showed very little in four runs for Nick Littmoden and his new yard have had just 1 winner from 28 over the last four weeks. The horse was last of five on handicap debut at Kempton and also eased 4lbs here and dropped in class, he's still going to be well up against it. In addition to his new yard's current poor form, they are only 3 from 75 here at Wolverhampton in the last year.

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Musaytir had three modest efforts over 5/6 furlongs prior to a career-best effort on handicap debut over 1m at Newcastle 11 days ago. His jockey took a useful 3lbs off a mark of 62 today as they only went down by half a length, but I don't think it was a great race to be honest. The small field have failed to make the frame in four efforts since and off a mark of 65 today with no jockey claim, Musaytir is effectively up 6lbs for losing. He has ability, but I don't see him involved here based on what I've seen/read.

Arthur's Angel was a winner over 7f at Chelmsford in late November and his best two recent efforts have come in the past month since being stepped up in trip. he was beaten by less than three quarters of a length here over course and distance almost four weeks ago and then made the frame over a mile at Lingfield just two days ago. If taking his place here, I'd expect another bold effort if not given too much to do late on. With his jockey's claim, he's now effectively 2lbs better off than that C&D effort two starts ago and his jockey has won four of his last twelve starts. The yard hasn't gone well here at Wolverhampton of late, but does have a good long-term record at the track.

Spirit of Rowdown is the most experienced of the field with 11 races under his belt, but he accounts for 3 of the field's 56 total wins and his 3 from 8 record on the A/W includes 3 wins, 2 places from 6 on standard going, the same record under today's jockey, the same in cheekpieces and the same going left handed. He has 2 wins and 2 places from 4 over course and distance. He's the form horse in the race, rated third on the Geegeez ratings and really should be the one to beat, not withstanding he's up 3lbs despite not winning last time out.

Doonbeg Farmer was a half-length runner-up in a 6-runner, Class 6 seller over a mile last time out after two indifferent efforts in handicap company. He's up (slightly) in trip and up in class for his yard debut for James Evans, as well as it being a first crack at Tapeta. Well beaten off marks of 70 and then 68, today's 654 is far more workable, but I still think he's up against it here.

Woodview has improved each time he has run and on his fourth and latest start, he was only beaten by half a length in a Class 6 handicap over a mile. He was running on strongly that day and the extra half furlong might be useful for him today. He is, however, up in class and raised a punitive-looking 5lbs for that run, suggesting the assessor realised that he should maybe have been given a higher mark prior to that last run? 65 isn't an unfair mark, mind, I just think 5lbs for not winning is excessive in general. If continuing to improve, he has to be in consideration here despite his yard's poor (just 2 from 135) record here since 2016.

Roman Mist was third last time out in a 7f Novice event at Kempton, earning herself an opening handicap mark of 63, but in two previous efforts over course and distance here at Wolverhampton, she has finished seventh twice and was beaten by more than 10 lengths each time, so the step back up in trip and the switch back to Tapeta isn't likely (in my opinion) to be one that suits her and I suspect she'll be "out back" somewhere.

We Still Believe completes our field and is one of just three here with a past win to his name, having won last time out on handicap debut over 1m at Newcastle. All four career starts have been on that track and he won off an opening mark of 57, awarded after three modest efforts over shorter distances before the step up to a mile. The nature of that win is likely to make him popular here but a slight rise in trip, a step up in class and a 5lb rise in weight will all combine to stop this being a gimme and his win last time out was one of jockey Andrew Mullen's only 2 wins from 103 rides over the last 60 days and he's 0 from 29 here in the last 90 days.

*

The entire 11-runner field has a not so grand total of 5 wins and 14 places from 57 combined outings, so with a win record of 8.78% and 24.56% placed, I suspect we'll get more from the place element of Instant Expert than we will from the win records, but here they both are...

Spirit of Rowdown shows particularly well with honourable mentions (in card order) to Destacado, Arthur's Angel, Doonbeg Farmer and Woodview. All five of those named are drawn close together in stalls 4 to 9, so I wonder how important the actual draw might be. To get some answers, I simply click the DRAW tab on the racecard and I find that in the last 312 11-runner contests here, stalls 7, 6 and 9 have fared best (see table below) and that the ideal situation here is to be drawn high and lead. Mid-drawn prominent runners fare next best followed by mid-drawn leaders, Trying to make all from a low draw has proved fairly distastrous and this is beautifully illustrated by our unique pace/draw heat map below...

Now, we already know about the horses and where they're drawn. We also where the best draw is and how best to approach the race from the draw given, but how do we predict the race will pan out? That's where the PACE tab (freely available for all Monday's races, of course) comes in. It will tell is how the horses have run is each of their last 2,3 or 4 starts and we can overlay that information onto the above heat map to see who might be be well (or poorly) suited here, as follows...

...and our feeling is that this race may be run differently to how these horses normally go about it. At least one will have to go forward and lead them out even if the pace is slow. Doonbeg Farmer has led in the past and might take it on, whilst Spirit of Rowdown has raced prominently on a couple of occasions recently too.

If they do dawdle and turn it into a sprint finish, that will suit Arthur's Angel down to the ground as he tends to do all his best work late on.

Summary

Not withstanding that this might become a tactical affair, I can't help but keep returning to Spirit of Rowdown. I know he's up in weight here, but the stats don't lie. He's the best here so far over track and trip and if they do dawdle, he might just go and nick the race from the front. I think 8/1 looks generous, as I was expecting nearer to 9/2 or 5/1, so I'll back this one.

Next best for me is Woodview, he's also up in weight and his yard have a poor record here, but he's upwardly mobile and will seek to continue his improvement. I also thought he's be in the 9/2 to 5/1 ball park, but odds of 2/1 to 11/4 currently available look mean and don't offer enough value to me (each to his/her/their own, of course).

To complete my 'three against the field', I've little between Arthur's Angel and Destacado. The former is more exposed and the latter may have more to give. There's probably nothing between them and the market has them similarly tied. If I had to pick one, I suppose it'd be Arthur's Angel on weight and experience, but only just!

Racing Insights, 26th January 2021

Well, I got the first two the wrong way around (again) this afternoon, but managed to correctly identify the first three to finish, so well done to those of you landing the near 59/1 Trifecta. They say there's no room for sentiment in sport, but I didn't mind Mr Jack overturning Sawpit Sienna to give Andy Irvine a first winner since the sad passing of his wife, Zoe Davison.

Tuesday's free feature is The Shortlist, whilst the free races are...

  • 1.20 Down Royal
  • 2.50 Down Royal
  • 7.10 Wolverhampton

...and I'm going to look at the last of that trio, the 7.10 Wolverhampton : an 11-runner, Class 6, a/W (Tapeta) Handicap for 3yo runners. The trip is 7f, the prize is £2782 and here are the runners and riders etc...

Major J sits third on the Geegeez ratings, but has yet to win or place in five runs to date. He wears cheekpieces for the first time today as he bids to improve upon a reasonable fourth of ten at Kempton 19 days ago. Has raced here over track and trip on three occasions and was only beaten by two lengths on his last visit/handicap debut almost four weeks ago. Now rated 2lbs lower than his last two runs, could step forward here, especially with the booking of the in-form course specialist Richard Kingscote in the saddle.

Lady of Desire is 0 from 4 so far and also hasn't made the frame yet. She was 7th of 11 here over course and distance last time out (2.5 lengths behind Major J and didn't seem to enjoy the step up from 6f. She's 3lbs lighter today, but will probably need more help than that.

The filly Mops Gem has also failed to even make the frame yet from six starts and has only beaten two of the 21 rivals she has faced in her last three outings, the latest of which was a 6 length defeat over 6f at Kempton. She weakened late on that day, which doesn't bode well for a step up in trip, although she does drop in class here.

And to follow the sequence, Orphiuchus is another filly yet to make the frame, although her 5th of 10, 6 lengths off the pace last time out was her best effort to date. She also drops in class to run here and whilst an opening handicap mark of 55 doesn't look too onerous, she's going to have to improve plenty to be involved here, you'd have thought.

As with the above runner, Doctor Churchill drops in class for his handicap debut and sadly like the first four we've looked at, he hasn't made the frame in five starts yet either, having beaten just 11 of his 51 rivals so far. His yard are only 3 from 46 so far this year, albeit 3 from 22 here at Wolverhampton. 54 isn't a high opening mark, but I just don't think he's that good either.

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Hallelujah! We're at runner 6 of 11 and we find that The Good Ting has actually made the frame in two of her twelve starts! In fact she has 2 wins from 8 on the A/W so far, including a win by a head last time out where she stayed on well and needed every inch of the 6 furlongs, suggesting the step up in trip might suit. She'd only been beaten by half a length in her previous outing, so it looks like she's running into some form and she's second on the Geegeez ratings. The only negative about her is her yard's lack of winners at this venue : just 2 from 134 since the start of 2016!

Spartakos was third on handicap debut back in August and was only beaten by a length and three quarters last time out in another Class 6, 7f, Tapeta (Newcastle) handicap. He's been rested for the past 20 weeks, though and now re-appears 2lbs lower. If he's ready to go first up, then he has every chance of making the frame based on that last run and the lack of quality in the horses higher up this card!

Desert Mist has been pretty consistent if unspectacular on the Tapeta, finishing 39435 so far, all here at Wolverhampton except that fifth place last out. His last visit here (two starts ago - 8th December) was his best effort to date, going down by a length and a quarter over 6f. He goes off the same mark today, but will need to find more to see the extra distance out. He'll be aided by jockey Connor Murtagh who not only claims 3lbs but is in good form right now, winning 4 of 16 over the last month.

Nodasgoodasawink is interesting here on her second handicap start. Her handlers "acquired" a handicap mark as low as 52 for her after three completely differing races : C5, 6f Std-Slow Polytrack then C5, 5f on Good and finally C4, 1m on Firm. She was then put back in her box for almost 4 months before being asked to run a Class 6 over 7f at Lingfield last Thursday. She clearly needed the run, as she was slow away but caught the eye with a decent second half to the race, making up ground to finish a little more than three lengths behind a horse rated 12lbs better. She goes off 52 again today and I suspect that we'll see a better performance here if she takes to the Tapeta. Her breeding also suggests he's better than 52.

Peppermint Truffle takes us back to the "non-placers with little hope" category, I'm afraid. Three runs to date, all at Class 5 over 7f and finished 13th of 13, 8th of 11 and 8th of 9 (beaten by over 22 lengths) last time out. he hasn't been to Wolverhampton yet, but his first two runs were on Newcastle's Tapeta track and even though he drops in class for a handicap debut carrying no weight (OR = 46), I find it hard to make any form of case for him, unless some miraculous transformation has happened in the 11 days since we last saw him.

Last and quite possibly least of the eleven is Love Baileys, who is guess what? Yes, a filly that has never made the frame yet. Five starts so far and she has beaten just 10 of 43 opponents, but her latest effort was easily her best. She was only sixth of ten, admittedly, but she was within five lengths of the winner here over course and distance three weeks ago and now drops back to Class 6 as she returns to handicaps. That was her first run for new handler Amy Murphy after leaving Richard Fahey and Amy had her in first time cheekpieces and a tongue tie. The tie remains in place, but the cheekpieces are now replaced with first-time blinkers. I can't see it having much effect, but fair play to Ms Murphy, she's trying everything to eke something out of her filly.

As you'll probably have already worked out, there aren't many I like here and I could probably skip directly to the summary. To be honest, Instant Expert isn't going to tell us much about a field that has just 2 wins and 3 places from 58 starts, but here's the place view of IE anyway (just bear in mind that The Good Ting's places were both wins)...

With so many "much of a muchness" types competing here, draw , pace and the pace/draw combo are likely to be more helpful than Instant Expert was. And in previous similar contests, there seems to be a "golden corridor" for winners with the best draws appearing to be stalls 4 to 7, whilst horses who raced prominently or led fared best. It therefore doesn't take a great leap of faith to work that if you've a prominent racer or leader, drawn in 4-7, you could be on to a good thing or a back to lay proposition at worst.

That, of course, isn't to say that hold-up horses can't win from there. The hold up is the worst of the four descriptions to be most accurate about. Plenty of horses aren't hold up horses at all, but are just not quick enough away to be anything but rear runners. Hold up horses have won nearly 31% of the above races, but because their number includes slow horses as well as genuinely held-up runners, they account for nearly 44% of the total runners.

Distinguishing between tactics and a lack of speed is difficult, but we do need to be aware that a hold-up horse might not be one by choice! I certainly wouldn't rule Major J or Nodasgoodasawink out just based on that heat map.

So, where are we? A mediocre looking contest, if truth be told, but there will be a winner and two placers. I'll start by retaining those with previous form ie past placers (The Good Ting, Desert Mist, Spartakos) and to them I'll add Major J, Lady of Desire and Nodasgoodasawink.

That narrows my pack down to six, which is still too many and the first of those to cut will be Spartakos, who I think might just need the run.

All of the above was written pre-3pm, whilst I was expecting The Good Ting to swerve the 3.10 Chelmsford, but she took her place there and finished third despite having to race too wide from a poor draw. She's now unlikely to feature here, but my post-5pm summary will still reference her below.

Summary

I left five in a the summary stage for two reasons. Firstly I had very little to separate those I ranked third to fifth and secondly because I've doubts whether The Good Ting will line up here after all (I hadn't realised when I started the piece that she was still down to run at Chelmsford which she duly did).

Before the 3.10 race at Chelmsford today, The Good Ting was my clear pick for this race ahead of Major J. I had very little between Nodasgoodasawink, Lady of Desire and Desert Mist in that order.

As things stand, I can get 5/1 about The Good Ting, but I can't back her now. She's unlikely to run and she does, she's little time to recover. Major J is now my likeliest winner, but he's 11/4 already and with a Rule 4 due to be applied if we back him now or a shorter price later, there's little value there either.

Nod is currently 5/1 with the other two priced at 10's. At present, I don't see a win bet, but I might well have small E/W punts at double digit odds on Lady of Desire (I think Amy Murphy might get more out of this one) and Desert Mist (looks value at the price).

Racing Insights, 18th January 2021

Count Otto abandoned his usual/expected tactics and ran his best race for some time, meaning my favoured runner Total Commitment was an 11/4 (from 4/1) runner-up at Lingfield on Saturday, I'm afraid.

Ah, well, Monday heralds a new week and a new challenge/opportunity. To assist us, we offer the pace tab for ALL races to ALL users, as well as full free racecards for the following...

  • 12.15 Lingfield
  • 12.55 Ayr
  • 4.05 Ayr
  • 6.40 Wolverhampton

Lingfield is an A/W bumpers meeting (say no more), the two Ayr races are a novice hurdle and a bumper, so by process of elimination I'm going to focus my efforts on the 6.40 Wolverhampton, an 8-runner (hopefully it says that way for E/W bettors), Class 3, A/W (Tapeta) handicap for 4yo+ runners, who all just happen to be geldings today. The trip is officially 1m1.5f, the top prize is £7,246 and the card looks like this...

Teston's UK record stands at 1 win and 1 place from 3 runs so far and now steps up in trip after finishing as runner up at Southwell over 7 furlongs last time out. That was his first run on the A/W in this country, but had a win and four places from 8 A/W runs over 9/9.5 furlongs in France. He also won three races over a mile on turf across the Channel before scoring on his UK debut at Doncaster over a mile in this grade last June. Bears top weight off a mark of 97, a mark unaltered from his last outing and if adapting to the Tapeta has every chance of being in the final mix.

Power of States is bang in form, albeit all at Chelmsford where all six of his career A/W runs have taken place. He has finished 121113 in those six, a stark contrast to his 0 from 11 on turf. He's three from five over 1m2f at Chelmsford, so the trip itself is well within him and his usual visor and tongue tie will be worn here. He was only third last time out off a mark of 89, so going off 90 here doesn't do him any favours and he's stepping up in class. That said, his yard are 36 from 153 (23.5% SR) here on the Tapeta with horses tackling it for the first time winning 27 of 113 (23.9% SR). Those are positive numbers, which leave me wondering why only 40 have run here more than once, but that's for another day, I suppose!

Home Before Dusk was fifth off a mark of 91 at Class 2 last time out and is eased a pound as he drops down to Class 3, so that should help him as he attempts to improve upon his own record of 5 wins and 3 places from 13 in Tapeta handicaps, including 5 wins, 2 places from 10 over 8-10f, 2 wins and a place from 5 under today's jockey and a win from two goes over this course and distance. I wouldn't rule him out totally based on those numbers, but the reality is that he hasn't run well in any of his seven defeats over the last eleven months since winning at Kempton off a mark of 92. This is within his capabilities on history, but form suggests others will make more appeal.

Mythical Madness finished 121 in his last three races, but all were on turf at Class 4 over a mile in a twelve day period seven months ago. The 10 yr old hasn't been seen since then and is likely to need a run before being seen at whatever his best is nowadays. History suggests he's better on the Flat (6/31 = 19.4%) where he wins more than twice as often as he does on the A/W (4/43 = 9.3%), but he is 3 from 16 (18.75%) here at Wolverhampton over 8.5-9.5f. Sadly his last decent run here came a month shy of four years ago, when beaten by a neck off a mark of 101. In his favour, though, is a mark of 87 today and the fact he was in good nick before his rest. If ready to go first up, he's well weighted and capable here, but I can't see it happening on the basis of history, especially stepping up in class.

Ledham is a really interesting 6 yr old and one to probably watch here with a view to possibly backing next time out. Fourth of eight on debut in August 2017, then put back in his box for 282 days before finishing 2nd of 16 in mid-May 2018. He ran four more times that season, winning a class 5, finishing as runner-up then as a winner in two Class 3 contests, before a third of ten at Class 2 in October 2018. Another long (193 days) layoff followed and then he re-appeared to finish as a runner-up in a ten-runner C2 handicap at Haydock over a mile on soft ground in late April 2019. He hasn't been seen since and now returns some 632 days later. He has won on this track before, he's down in class, down 3lbs in the ratings, was gelded back in November and moved yards last week. If he can get 1m on soft at Haydock, he should get this trip and he clearly has gone well fresh in the past, but you'd need some bravery to back him here, wouldn't you?

Kaser comes here armed to the teeth with a volume of stats to suggest he'll go well, as follows (easier to copy and paste than type!)...

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...chuck in his trainer's record of 11 wins from 54 (20.4% SR, A/E 1.59) in course and distance handicaps since the start of 2018 and you've certainly got something worth a second glance. Kaser, himself, is 4 from 11 over course and distance which skews the stats slightly and hasn't ran particularly well here in his two C&D efforts this winter. He was 11th of 13 and in rear throughout at this grade in mid-November and then a similar run as 9th of 10 last time out. He was ridden by two claimers in those races and recent rider Laura Pearson has been replaced by Rossa Ryan. Laura now rides Avarice here and Kaser is now effectively 5lbs worse off for that defeat, due to the jockey claim. Rossa Ryan is in good form, of course and rides this track well, but a minor place has to be the best he can hope for here.

The afore-mentioned Avarice is probably left well alone here to be brutally honest. No previous run in the UK, no previous run on an artificial surface and probably needs a stiffer test. He's not a poor horse as a run of results reading 2212 after his debut will testify. Admittedly beaten by eight lengths last time out, but that was over 1m4f on soft ground on a contest worth over £20k. He gets 1m2f on soft well enough, so even if adapting to Tapeta first up, I think this'll be too sharp for him.

Athmad makes up our octet and he's well proven at this track having finished 1141331 here over 8.5-9.5f, including 1331 over course and distance, the last of those runs being his last run overall when prevailing by a length here a fortnight ago. But he's up 4lbs and up in class for that win and has never won any race better than a low-prize (ie sub-£6k) Class 4 contest, failing to even make the frame in eight such contests. That said, all runs have to come to an end and having seen the opposition, he has every chance of being in the shake-up here. His yard is in good form too and he's definitely worth considering at this stage.

*

We know already that a couple of these should be suited by conditions, but the easiest way of checking all runners at once is via our unique traffic-light colour (green = good, amber = moderate, red= not so good) coded Instant Expert (click the tab on the racecard)...

...where only Mythical Madness looks to be struggling. Power of States is up 6lb from his last win, but is in prime form and the stats behind the returning Ledham and course specialist Athmad are clearly laid out.

In similar previous contests to this one, we get the impression that the higher the sector of the draw the better, as seen below...

...and stalls 5 to 8 have certainly outperformed those in stalls 1-4 winning 55% of the races...

History also tells us that the three best pace/draw combinations are highly drawn leaders, highly drawn prominent runners and then prominent/mid-division runs from a low draw, which I suppose makes sense as the low draw would just tuck in as the higher drawn pace setters come across...

We can then overlay the past running styles of our eight runners to see how the race might unfold as follows...

...where Teston looks particularly well suited, whilst Athmad is also in a good place. The in-form Power of States is likely to race a bit further forward, I'd have thought, as he won't want the race to be "nicked" at the front by the front-running Teston. Should he step up, that would be a shrewd move in my opinion, but even if they just actually break in that order above, he's mid-division anyway!

The two most inconvenienced by the draw/running-style combo are the the two drawn widest and that doesn't bode well for Kaser's efforts to maintain his form at this venue.

Summary

Lots with chances or reasons to at least be positive about their chances. Power of States will be popular and I expect him to go off as favourite, probably in the 5/2 type of odds and whilst he has every chance here and should definitely make the frame, the one I like more is Teston. His French form, allied to his Instant Expert showing and the pace/draw positioning make him the one to beat for me. I don't think I'll get the 4/1 or better that I was hoping for, but he's the one I fancy most here.

Elsewhere, Athmad should go well and could threaten the two I've mentioned in this summary. Kaser would be of interest from an E/W perspective, but 8/1 is too short. Home Before Dusk, Mythical Madness and Avarice hold little appeal to me and if I wanted a small E/W punt at a decent price, Ledham would be the one at 20's or bigger not withstanding he'll probably need the run and come up short this time.

 

 

 

Racing Insights, 7th January 2021

Wednesday's race has yet to run, but Monday's late action saw our three-runner shortlist provide the first and third (two necks behind) horses home. That's history now, of course and it's the future that's of interest here with Thursday looming large.

The free feature of the day is the access to the fantastic Instant Expert data for ALL races, including our highlighted free races of the day, which are...

  • 1.37 Musselburgh
  • 2.15 Southwell
  • 2.28 Ffos Las
  • 3.37 Musselburgh

And with Instant Expert being the feature of the day, I've spotted three runners of interest based on their past aptitude for tomorrow's expected conditions (if that makes any sense), starting with the 3.28 Ffos Las, a 15-runner, Class 5, Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over a 3m slog on heavy ground. The winner will receive a paltry £2989 for their troubles and the one that caught my eye was the 8 yr old gelding, Ballybreen and here's why...

The above figures are obviously excellent and are supplemented by the following...

  • 3 from 9 under jockey Conor Ring
  • 3 from 9 over fences
  • 3 from 7 during January & February
  • 3 from 4 in blinkers
  • 2 from 2 in January
  • and 1 from after 1 to 2 months rest.

He ended last year's chase campaign in early March with a 1.25 length defeat over 3m on soft ground off a mark of 93 and didn't tackle a fence again for almost seven months when last home of eight at Newton Abbot (3m2f, heavy) off a mark of 98. He led until the 16th fence but then faded out of contention and was eventually beaten by the thick end of 40 lengths. He then stepped up in class for 3m, heavy ground Class 4 hurdle contest off a mark of 101 and was pulled up 3 flights from home, so it's fair to say that this campaign hasn't got going yet.

It's quite possible that he needed that first run over fences and that something wasn't quite right in the hurdle race and he has gone well third time out in previous seasons. We should also remember that he finished 111212 in the first 11 weeks of 2020, so he's clearly at this best at this time of year. The blinkers are back on today (1112 in those) and he's back down to a workable mark of 94. That's not a definite winning mark, but it must give him more chance that his recent efforts.

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Will he win? Probably not, if I'm totally honest, but if he's in a "going" sort of mind and runs like we know he can, he'd have every chance of making the frame, assuming we can get four or even five places at a decent (14/1?) price. We'll know more when I check the prices in my summary.

*

The next race I want to look at is the 4.20 Wolverhampton, an 11-runner, Class 6, A/W handicap for 3 yo over 1m0.5f on Tapeta. The top prize is £2,782 and the horse I'm looking at is the 4-timer seeking gelding Spirit of Rowdown, whose nine race career looks like this on Instant Expert...

The above numbers speak for themselves, of course, but I'd like to add a few more of my own, such as...

  • 3 from 7 after 12-30 days rest
  • 3 from 7 in cheekpieces
  • 3 from 4 under jockey Charlie Bennett
  • 3 from 4 going left handed
  • 2 from 2 over course and distance
  • 2 from 2 off a mark of 51-60
  • 2 from 2 at odds of 4/1 and shorter
  • 2 from 2 as favourite

He comes here in fine form, of course after winning his last three outings in a 37-day period just before Christmas. He started with a win over a mile at Chelmsford and followed that up with back to back course and distance successes here at Wolverhampton 12 and 37 days later. He's had almost three weeks (seemingly his standard) rest to get over those exertions and is only up 4lbs for his last win. I say only, because he looked to have plenty in hand in all three wins, just doing enough to get home without being hammered by the assessor.

When he won here two starts ago, he was 3.25 lengths clear of the filly, Fast Emma who finished fourth and she has hopefully franked the form by winning in a tight finish at Lingfield yesterday.

Can he make it four in a row? Yes, I think he could, but this would be the toughest test yet and a 4lb rise does make life more difficult. I think he has more to give yet, but nobody knows how much. I don't think he can afford to blow the start like he did two races ago and if I can get 7/2 or 4/1 about him, I'd have to consider a bet.

*

But before I get my money out, there's one more to look at in the 7.00 Wolverhampton, which is the 10-runner, seven furlong, Class 4, A/W handicap (tapeta) for 4yo+ runners that Unforgiving Minute will attempt to land the £5,208 purse...

As expected, Instant Expert shows him in a favourable light and in addition to those numbers above, he is also...

  • 6 from 10 going left handed
  • 5 from 10 at sub-10/1 odds
  • 5 from 9 for trainer Sean Curran
  • 4 from 7 in the months of November to January
  • and 1 from 2 over course and distance.

He might well be 10 yrs old now, but there's no sense of a slowing down from this boy yet. He moved to Sean Curran's yard in the summer of 2019 and has five wins and two third-place finishes from nine starts since, taking his overall A/W record to 15 wins from 43 runs, a fantastic 34.9% strike rate. He was a 33/1 winner at this grade and trip at Lingfield last time out and is up 3lbs for the win, but importantly at his age, he's had 44 days to get over that effort.

He goes off a mark of 81 here today, but is assisted by jockey Grace McEntee's 5lb claim and it's worth noting that he did win here at Wolverhampton off 83 as recently as March. He was very impressive last time out and although life will be made harder for him here this time, has every chance of another good run.

Good enough to win? I think so, but he'd have to run to his recent best, as I think the likely favourite Beauty Choice also has a very good chance. This is by no means a gimme, but I'd expect him to make the frame again here. If I'm going to spend money, though, I'm going to want 6/1 or bigger to make it worth the risk, as it's not always easy to win from the back here at Wolves.

Summary

Three runners who all warrant a second glance based on their Instant Expert data and I'm quite happy to back all three at the right price. Ballybreen is currently available at 18/1, and whilst he's not likely to land the race, he's better than 10th favourite in my opinion, so I'll have a small 4 places E/W bet there.

Spirit of Rowdown won't have it all his own way and will have to beat the considerable challenge of Space Kid to land the spoils but 4/1 is too good a price for me to pass up, so I'm on this one too! This could turn out to be a good contest, as I was semi-interested in Arthur's Angel (16/1) and Cliffcake (10/1) as possible E/W punts.

And finally, I see that Unforgiving Minute is priced at 8/1 with Beauty Choice the favourite as I expected.  The fav is as low as 6/4 in places and I don't think he's nearly four times more likely to win than the old boy. I'm going to hedge my bets and take the 8/1 as an E/W bet, but I won't deter from going win only, if that's your preference.

Racing Insights, 5th January 2021

Yesterday's piece ended up being the proverbial Curate's egg: good in places. The winner came from the two I liked most, even if the one I had a marginal preference for didn't win. Hier Encore was indeed the worst horse in the race and Group Stage did indeed finish third.

The one that I though might be worth a tentative second glance as an E/W possible was last of the six to finish, not far behind the one I'd hoped would win. So, a mixed bag that did at least find the 4/1 winner from the two I struggled to split.

Next up is Tuesday, where the Shortlist Report is open to all readers, as are the racecards for the following races...

  • 1.10 Lingfield
  • 8.10 Wolverhampton

Only the two A/W meetings have survived the weather and sadly that has taken away any qualifiers for the shortlist, so I'm back on race preview duty and as I'm not a fan of Novice Stakes on the A/W, it's Hobson's Choice today as I'm going took at the 8.10 Wolverhampton : a pretty mediocre looking 12-runner, Class 6 handicap for 3yos on the tapeta.

The winner will receive £2781 for their connections and despite it not looking like a Classic, there has to be a winner, so let's see if the Geegeez tools (starting with the actual racecard) can steer us in the right direction...

Somebody far wiser than me (Matt) said in a video I watched that horses are 20/1 and bigger for a reason, so I'm now going to immediately remove four of the above from my thinking as I expect they'll be that kind of price, so out go The Bay Warrior, Eaux de Vie, Papas Champ and Inspiring Love to leave our card looking a bit more manageable as follows...

Form-wise, only Ladywood has shown any kind of recent form and that was a win LTO 19 days ago at Chelmsford in a 10 furlong Class 6 contest where she beat four of today's rivals by three to eleven lengths. Aside from her 1 in 6 record so far, the other 11 rivals are a combined 0 from 57 with just four placed efforts amongst them. I suppose at least that place stat will improve here.

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Baroness Rachael and Princess Elektra look to have the worst recent form, although the latter does now drop three classes for her handicap debut. The other seven under consideration all ran in this grade last time out and all have had the benefit of some rest (17 to 39 days).

Yards in form provide us with Ladywood, Baby Sham and Baroness Rachael, whilst Baby Sham's trainer has a good longer-term record on this track. The trainers of Pocketeer, Ghostly and Classy Dame have all struggled to make much impact at this venue, though and the majority of our jockeys have been amongst the winners of late.

I'm going to disregard the Geegeez ratings here as only four of the eight have run on Tapeta before and none have particularly high ratings. In a similar vein, looking at the win element of Instant Expert isn't likely to help us, but the place stats...

...show that Ladywood's win/place was on the A/W at Class 6 in a similar size of field and that she's up 6lbs for the win. The other three runners to have been placed in the past were all placed on the A/W, but none of the field have any relevant form at either trip or surface. Ghostly and Complexo were both placed at his Class 6 level, whilst Classy Dame made the frame in a Class 5 maiden six races ago.

In fairness/honesty, there's not a lot to be gleaned from Instant Expert, but perhaps the draw and the pace make-up of the race can help us out...

Low draw (1-4) have won 122 of the 341 races and have provided 347 of the 1019 places in similar contests at strike rates of 35.8% and 34.1% respectively, whilst middle drawn (5-8) horses ratios are 32% and 33.6% with those drawn highest (9-12) providing the remaining 32.2% of winners and 32.3% of placers, so I'd not say there was a considerable draw bias.

A quick look at the individual stalls' records...

...says stalls 2 to 6 would be a good place to run from, which is a positive for Pocketeer, Princess Elektra and Baby Sham. And now to the pace stats, that show...

...a clear superiority for prominent runners or hold-up runners. Most runners in these types of races try these tactics which is why they provide most winners, but the few that do try to win from the front win more often than any other tactic.  The problem here is that there's no confirmed pace setter which leads me to predict that this contest might be falsely run, although there is the possibility that Ghostly might take it on and try to win from the front as he has (unsuccessfully) in three of his last five starts including LTO over course and distance.

At this point, I've still got eight runners under consideration, but I'm now going to cast four aside that I don't see winning here, namely Baroness Rachael, Classy Dame, Complexo and Princess Elektra based on what we've seen so far. This leaves us with four : Baby Sham, Ghostly, Ladywood and Pocketeer.

Of our final four, Ghostly is going to be the odd one out. I think he'll revert to type and try to win from the front, he'll get swallowed up after 7-8 furlongs and miss out on the places, hopefully leaving my final three to battle it out and they are...

Baby Sham was 6½ lengths behind Ladywood in that 1m2f Nursery at Chelmsford 19 days ago and now wears cheekpieces for the first time on her tapeta debut. Still has a fair bit to find to catch that winner, but she's 9lbs better off at the weights here and could go very well for a yard who is 11 from 46 here at Class 5 or lower since the start of 2018 including a winner with their only runner here today.

Ladywood will be very popular and as the form horse of the race, that's perfectly understandable. She ran on well late on to win last time out, but she's up 6lbs for that run and that will make life tougher here. That was by far her best effort to date and if coming here in the same frame of mind will have every chance.

Pocketeer seems to be improving for every run and is certainly less exposed than Ladywood who beat her by 3¼ lengths last time out. Similar continued improvement gives her every chance of closing that gap now that she's half a stone better off at the weights and if taking to the Tapeta first time out could be one to side with. Jockey Ben Curtis rides her for the first time and he's in cracking form right now.

Summary

Had these three been running off the same marks as that Chelmsford race almost three weeks ago, there'd be little reason to think the finishing order would be any different. There were no hard luck stories that day, Ladywood was just better than the other two, but she's now 7-9lbs worse off and that could well even things up.

I don't actually have much separating the three, but the market disagrees. Ladywood is a best-priced 7/4 whilst the other pair are closely matched in the 15/2 and 8/1 area.

Pocketeer is definitely on the rise and with the new weight advantage, she'd be the one I'd back here if getting involved.

Racing Insights, 18th December 2020

Chris got Thursday's race pretty much spot on with his runners of interest finishing 1st and 3rd at Hereford. He'll be taking a short break from Racing Insights but hopefully the standard of analysis won't drop in his absence.

Friday’s feature of the day is the Horses For Courses report which is available in its entirety to all free registered users. The free races for free registered users are as follows:

12.37 Uttoxeter
1.35 Navan
4.10 Wolverhampton
4.30 Dundalk
5.00 Dundalk
7.00 Dundalk

All weather sprints often present a bias or two we can take advantage of so that 4.10 at Wolverhampton is of particular interest here and worth further investigation. The race is a class 6, 5f race worth £5,593 and looks an open contest.

Time To Reason has been out of form in two recent runs after a 252 day break. Both of those runs came at Southwell, a course where he had no previous form, so it’s entirely possible that the surface hasn’t suited and these two runs have got him both cherry ripe and 4lbs lower in the handicap.

His sole UK victory came off a 10lb higher mark back in February 2019 over this distance at Chelmsford and he has a solid record here at Wolverhampton with form figures of 63263022. When narrowing it down to runs here at this distance his form reads 32322 and all those runs came off marks either in the high 50s or mid 60s so that form entitles him to plenty of respect here off 54 and he may well have been laid out for this.

Jockey Richard Kingscote knows the horse well, he rides the horse more often than not and was on board for all five of those course and distance efforts. He has a place strike rate of 34.48% overall and that rises to 39.56% at Wolverhampton so this is clearly a venue he performs well at.

His partnership with trainer Charlie Wallis is much more potent on the all weather than turf. The pair have a 21.43% place strike rate when teaming up on turf and a 41.54% place strike rate on artificial surfaces.

Thegreyvtrain outran her odds of 20/1 last time out in first time cheekpieces when 3rd over this course and distance and she now tries first time blinkers in an attempt to eek out more improvement.

The Profiler is capable of shedding some light on how much difference the blinkers could make compared to the cheekpieces.

Looking at the sire data in Profiler for handicaps, offspring of Coach House have a 7.89% win strike rate and a 26.32% place strike rate in cheekpieces compared to a 7.5% win strike rate and 22.5% place strike rate in blinkers so chances are her performance here will be similar and possibly marginally worse than last time.

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This runner has a poor strike rate when it comes to getting her head in front, she’s just 2 from 37. Her place strike rate is much better though (17 from 37) and she’s finished either 2nd or 3rd in 5 of her last 8 starts. It’s easy to see why connections have been reaching for headgear.

The majority of her course and distance runs have come off slightly higher marks than today and her form figures here at 5f read 779253283 so she looks a place contender at best.

Arcavallo is another with a fairly modest win and place strike rate, Michael Dods’ gelding has 3 wins, 5 2nds and 2 3rds from 33 career starts. He’s yet to win from 11 runs on the all weather but has finished 2nd once and 3rd twice.

He’s found a fairly consistent level on her last seven starts with form figures of 4293374 but his mark has been creeping up for not winning. He’s yet to race around here but has put some decent enough efforts in on Newcastle’s tapeta surface. He doesn’t look obviously well handicapped but perhaps racing around a bend will suit this habitual front runner better than the straight track at Newcastle.

Mansfield ran poorly at Catterick on soft ground in October but has never run well in testing conditions and has been withdrawn several times on account of that ground so that effort is easily forgiven. Prior to that he had run well in defeat at Musselburgh and had won here over course and distance off a 4lb lower mark than he carries here.

He won comfortably enough on that occasion in a race where several of those behind have run consistently well since. He seems to struggle at most all weather courses except for Wolverhampton and Lingfield. He’s run six times over course and distance, winning one of those and placing a further twice. It’s worth noting that when he won here he was ridden more prominently than usual (can often be held up) and he’d also shown more early enthusiasm on his previous run too. It could be that not getting too far behind is ideal for the horse. His trainer does have just a 2.13% win record here though and a WIN PL of -86.

Red Allure, a maiden elsewhere, has two wins over course and distance but was slightly disappointing last time out here when a well enough beaten 6th. The response of his connections to that run has been to reach for a first time visor. It’s worth noting that he is 0-15 without headgear and 2-11 with headgear. When he wore blinkers for the first time he was a winner here so the switch in headgear could be what he needs.

His two wins have come off marks of 45 and 47 and he’s rated 50 here so certainly not out of it on that score but he isn’t the most consistent runner.

Superseded has a similar profile to Time To Reason in that he recently returned from a long break (257 days) and has put in two poor performances since. What’s different here is those runs haven’t come when trying a new surface, they have come here and also at Newcastle.

He's done the majority of his racing on the all weather (22 of his 30 starts have come on artificial surfaces) and both his career wins came here over course and distance off much higher marks, but that was almost 18 months ago now.

He's run poorly in all five course and distance runs that have followed those victories so it’s certainly not a case that this venue could spark a revival and it’s difficult to build a case for him in this.

The main positive is the current form of the John Butler yard.

He’s had 6 winners from his last 17 runners at the time of writing with a further 3 places in that sample.

Raspberry is potentially very interesting. She hadn’t shown much in her previous six runs (beaten 10+ lengths in five of those runs) before showing signs of life off a much reduced mark here last time out. She’s now dropped from a mark of 75 (has finished 2nd off 67) down to 48.

That run last time came off the back of an 87 day break so whatever had been bothering her may well have been sorted and that looked a decent enough race for the grade (the winner has placed since and the runner up won on Thursday).

She's finished 2nd off 67 over 5f at Newcastle, 7th (beaten 4.5 lengths) off 67 again here and 4th last time off 49. Given that last race looked stronger than this she’s of interest here off the current mark based on all three of those runs.

Jessie Allan has done most of her racing over 6f and 7f but drops back to 5f here. She’s never got closer than 3rd over the minimum distance and has been unplaced in 10 out of 11 attempts at 5f. She’s very easy to oppose on that basis.

Rank outsiders Trulove and Diamonds Dream are also easy to oppose. The former is on her last winning mark but she hasn’t placed in over a year and beat just two home off the same mark here last time out. Diamonds Dream has been beaten over 9 lengths in all 4 starts to date and was beaten 16 lengths on handicap debut last time out.

Over this course and distance there is an edge towards front runners and those who race closer to the pace, as demonstrated by the historical pace data shown in the pace tab.

The further back in the field a runner is placed, the less likely it is to perform well.

A possible contested pace here according to the Geegeez Pace Map which could compromise the chances of likely pace angles Thegreyvtrain and Arcavallo. The former looked place only material on the form check and Arcavallo didn’t have amazing claims for win or place so neither would stand out as likely bets now based on the pace map, despite the advantage pace horses often have here.

Red Allure should be well placed from his low draw and has good claims on his previous course and distance form but he's no guarantee to give his running.

Mid division is probably as far back as you want to be here, even with contested pace, and Raspberry and Time To Reason plus outsiders Trulove and Diamonds Dream are likely to be placed there, but the latter two are drawn wide and therefore may have to race wide or race even further back than ideal.

In this field size there is an edge for those that are drawn middle to low. The PRB (Percentage of rivals beaten) highlight an advantage to those in the lower stalls and an equal disadvantage to those that come from the higher numbers. That would be a slight concern for Arcavallo who is drawn in stall 6 which is on the middle to high end of the scale in this field.

Summary

The main trio I would be interested in here are Time To Reason, Red Allure and Raspberry. Time To Reason would be an interesting place only bet given his course and distance record but he does look vulnerable for win purposes and will probably find one or two too good. Red Allure is interesting but risky. He’s not the most consistent and is trying new headgear which is a bit of extra risk but chances are he will run well too over a course and distance he generally enjoys.

Raspberry stands out at the early prices though. She’s been rated much higher in the past, seems to go pretty well on tapeta over the minimum distance and gave a strong hint last time that she was on her way back in what was probably a better race. The fact that her best effort by far during that run of six poor races came here is an added bonus.

Racing Insights, 15th December 2020

Well, we nearly had ourselves an 11/2 winner today, but the gutsy Up Helly Aa King was headed after the last fence and went down by a length. The original favourite King Capard was indeed over-rated, Crank 'Em Up was the worst of the finishers, but the big surprise was the winner, Strong Economy who defied all stats/logic to win, but fair play to him for doing so.

And now somewhat belatedly (I've just got home from a 5pm appointment in Liverpool), Tuesday looms large on my horizon. Our feature of the day is the Shortlist report, whilst our free racecards will cover...

  • 12.35 Wincanton
  • 2.05 Wincanton
  • 2.45 Newcastle
  • 3.05 Wincanton

If I'm honest, I don't really fancy any of those four contests from a betting perspective, but there are a couple of high scorers at the top of tomorrow's Shortlist report, so let's take a look at them and assess their chances, shall we?

Maaward has never ran at Newcastle, but has an otherwise perfect score, whilst Athmad's only "weakness" is that he has fared best in 12-runner fields. Our job is to work out whether tomorrow's conditions will suit, starting with the 4.20 Newcastle...

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Maaward has two wins and a place from six all-weather runs, including two wins and a place from three on Standard to Slow going, a win and a place from two over a mile and one win from two at Class 4. Conversely, he has no run at all on a straight track, or under today's jockey or on tapeta! He's 0 from 5 overall when sent off longer than 6/4 and is 0 from 2 for this yard.

He has finished last of 11, last of 19 and last of 10 in his last three outings, beaten by 14L, 26L and 29L respectively with increasingly poor results despite his mark going from 95 to 87 to 80. He now sports a tongue tie (that's going to be some tongue tie if he gets him to win!) for the first time and runs off a mark of 72 here, which you hope would be light enough to beat something home?

His yard and jockey have both fared poorly at this venue, which doesn't inspire confidence, but he's drawn well (stalls 7-9 have won over half of similar races recently : 17 of 33) and his prominent running style suggests he might make a better fist of proceedings here.

*

And now onto our second tapeta contest, the 5.10 Wolverhampton featuring Athmad...

 

Athmad is in great form, finishing 1141 in his last four runs, all here at Wolverhampton in the last six weeks with two wins at 1m0.5f and a win over this 1m1.5f course and distance last out. having ran on the A/W just six times, his three wins from six is a healthy return including that 3 from 4 here at Wolverhampton, 1 from 2 at Class 4 and 1 from 1 at this this (CD LTO), whilst he's also 2 from 2 after just 8-15 days rest.

Instant Expert backs up those stats and unusually, the draw and pace tabs neither help nor hinder us based on the numbers above, but if you look a the draw stats more closely you'll see that the line does rise the higher the draw, but there's not enough in it for me to worry, when a high draw is 13.02% against a low draw of 11.83%. The lack of a significant draw bias means that the better horses have more chance of winning no matter which box they're in, but it also makes the pace analysis even more important.

The pace tabs tell a slightly different story with both prominent and held-up horses faring best, but leaders/mid-division runners faring less well. Athmad's 2.25 rating over his last four outing is skewed by a 1 rating in the race where he finished fourth having been held back too long and failing to catch the leaders, That aside the other three of his last four runs (all wins) came from prominent runs and I'd expect to see that continue today (the prominence, I mean!), Prominent runners are 68 from 166 (41% SR)  from those races above, which bodes well for our boy here.

Summary

A little shorter than usual, but I think I've covered the necessaries here. If Maaward isn't the worst in his race, he won't be far ahead of the one who is and at 40/1, the market agrees. I'd leave this one alone if I were you.

Different kettle of fish re : Athmad, though. In fantastic nick, he looks the best of the pack here and although this will be his toughest assignment yet, I feel he's got enough about him to get home again. Personally, I'd have liked a bit more than the 7/2 on offer from Bet365, but I've had a couple of shillings on anyway.

 

Racing Insights, 5th December 2020

Worsening ground caused Bit On the Side to pull out of today's contest and that heavy going allied to conceding 15lbs to the eventual winner put paid to Whitehotchillifili's chances of winning. She was game and gutsy in a three-length defeat, but the weight took its toll late on up the hill.

And now to Saturday, whose "free feature" is the Trainer/Jockey combo report and the free races are...

  • 12.00 Navan
  • 12.05 Sandown
  • 2.25 Sandown
  • 3.00 Sandown
  • 3.22 Wetherby
  • 4.30 Wolverhampton

And as my full race profiling seems to be a bit out of kilter right now, I'm going to take a look at a couple of runners from the Trainer/Jockey report. I've set fairly demanding criteria that has produced just three qualifiers, one of which I'm really not interested in. Fillies' Junior Bumpers aren't my (or many people's) bag, so it's off to Wolverhampton we go...

Red October runs in the 7.00 Wolverhampton...

Red October hasn't been seen at this best in his last two runs when down the field on soft ground at York and then 6th of 10 at Chelmsford last time out in a higher grade. Nevertheless, he has finishes of 2116 from four A/W starts including 116 on standard going, 211 at 16-30 days since his last run, 116 going left handed and he's 1 from 2 in cheekpieces and 1 from 1 at Class 3, but now makes a Tapeta debut.

His trainer Hugo Palmer was 6 from 8 over the last fortnight prior to today's action and has an excellent 38 from 156 (24.4% SR) record here at Wolverhampton since 2013, which includes 5 from 13 for jockey James Doyle, 4 from 20 at 1m4f and 3 from 8 at Class 3.

Jockey James Doyle also has some good numbers behind him with 4 wins from 16 over the last week and 31 from 80 (38.75% SR) here at Wolverhampton since 2016 including 3 wins from 6 at Class 3.

Red October only sits fourth on the Geegeez Speed Ratings, but Instant Expert shows him in a very favourable light...

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The draw stats suggest he isn't too well drawn in stall 1, but over the course of a mile and a half, the draw shouldn't be the reason for a horse getting beat...

...whilst the pace make-up of the race suggests horses who prominently win more often than not...

44 of the 96 (45.8%) winners were prominent racers, whilst those held up for a late run won 36 (37.5%) times, also backing up my theory that the draw might not be as important here as it is in other contests.

When you overlay the pace and draw together...

Red October actually seems to have as good a running style as you'd need from stall 1. Perhaps he could press on a little to enhance his claims, but he's not badly positioned there.

*

Next up is Atalis Bay in the 5.30 Wolverhampton...

Like Red October above, Atalis Bay was disappointing last out, finishing 9th of 11 beaten by almost 12 lengths over 5f on soft ground. In his defence, that was the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket and this represents a major drop in class/quality. Prior to that run, he had won three on the spin showing versatility on Good to firm, Standard to Slow and then Goods to Soft ground over both 5f and 6f.

He's 3 from 3 at odds of 6/1 or shorter, 2 from 3 under today's jockey Andrea Atzeni, 2 from 2 at 6f, 2 from 2 in fields of 7 runners or fewer and 1 from 2 at Class 2. He has no run on Tapeta yet, nor has he gone left handed before.

Trainer Marco Botti's horses have been running well of late, even if they're not winning as often as he's like. Over the past fortnight, his 18 runners have only produced 3 winners (16.66%), but that's not a disaster, but the fact that 12 of them finished in the first three home suggests they're going well. The jockey booking is interesting, as this is Andrea Atzeni's only ride of the day and he comes to a track where he has ridden 17 winners from 72 (23.6% SR) since 2015 including a 6 from 14 (42.9%) record over this 6 furlong track and trip.

Instant Expert backs up the horse's stats and reminds us that he's a tapeta debutant...

Don't be too alarmed that he appears to be rated 13lbs heavier than his last win, that was just his last A/W win, he did win off a mark of 93 at Haydock two starts ago, so despite being 5lbs heavier here, it's not quite as bad as it first looks.

Over 6f, Atalis Bay's draw might well be important than the afore-discussed 1m4f contest, so let's work out whether stall 3 will be good or bad here...

Stalls 2 and 4 seem the most successful in this type of contest with a definite bias towards the lower end of the draw, whilst in these sprints race positioning is key...

...suggesting that no matter where you're drawn you want to be up with the pace.

The above figures back up that suggestion, as leaders have won 34 (30.1%) and prominent runners 59 (52.2%) of the 113 races in focus. So, with a record of almost 5 in 6 going to prominently ridden/leading horse, we know where we need to be on the heatmap...

...which also reinforces the stall 2 to 4 supremacy from earlier.

Summary

Both Red October and Atalis Bay look very well suited to the task ahead, but both carry the same baggage as each other. Both disappointed last time out (last two for Red October), both are carrying more weight than they've won with, neither has raced on Tapeta before and Atalis Bay has never run left handed.

They're both likely to be fairly high up in the market and as such, there are too many question marks about both for me to want to back them, I'm afraid. I'd say Atalis Bay had the better chance and 4/1 isn't a bad price about him, so if we wanted a bit of fun, we could have a couple of quid on him for some interest, but no real money. Red October, I'm not sure about, so I'll leave him be.

Racing Insights, 24th November 2020

Return Ticket beat last night's favourite Gaelik Coast by 6.5 lengths at Musselburgh today, so well done to all of you who joined me on it at 7/2 and we also saw a nice run from Swaffham Bulbeck back in third, vindicating my thoughts that he was the best of the outsiders.

And now to Tuesday, where our free feature is the Shortlist report and our races of the day are...

  • 1.25 Lingfield
  • 1.37 Southwell
  • 3.00 Punchestown
  • 3.25 Lingfield
  • 4.30 Wolverhampton

None of those five really appeal to me, so let's have a look at The Shortlist and see if there's anything for us there. Otherwise, this'll be the briefest piece I've written in all my years here at Geegeez!

I'm now drawn to looking at that 6.00 Wolverhampton race, as we've two possibles there in that 11-runner, Class 2, A/W handicap for 3yo+ over 5f on the Tapeta worth £11,828 to the winner. I'm not going to do a full race preview on this one, I'm going to just focus on the prospects of both Top Breeze & Leodis Dream, as they feature on the shortlist.

So we start with the card itself...

...where our runners are 8th and 11th of 11 on the Geegeez Speed ratings and Top Breeze looks the better of the two on form, although of the others, Venturous looks the one to beat. Both are runners have won over course and distance, whilst Leodis Dream's jockey is on good nick and has a good record at this venue (30 C5) The 1 under Leodis Dream's name also signifies one of my saved angles which tells me that trainer David Loughnane has done well here in recent years in handicap contests.

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Instant Expert provides us with an expanded numerical overview of the Shortlist report...

Both horses look well suited to the challenge ahead with Leodis Dream's record over this trip the standout figure for me, whilst the swathes of red elsewhere put our runners in a very favourable light.

I'd expect pace and draw to be key here, so we should spend some time dissecting both sets of stats before seeing how the runners might fit into the puzzle...

The blue line indicates a fairly linear reduction in success the higher drawn a horse is in similar contests to today, suggesting Top Breeze drawn in stall 1 should have a much better chance that Leodis Dream in box 10, now onto race positioning...

...which tells us that up front is where you want to be and the further back you race, the less likely you are to be winning and over their last four races, here's how this field has been positioned...

As you can see, Top Breeze does like to get out quickly, but he'll have some opposition from Ornate in stall 5 for the lead, whilst Leodis Dream's usual prominent running style would be a disaster. To give us a clearer picture, we can overlay past running styles with past draw data to produce the unique Geegeez pace/draw heatmap as follows...

Once again Top Breeze is shown in a very favourable light and at this moment, he's the one I'd want to be on in a straight pick between the two shortlisted horses. So let's now take a closer look at each to see if there's enough there for me to hang a bet on.

We may as well start with Top Breeze, who has been knocking on the door of late finishing 2233 in his last four outings, all over 5f and only beaten by a combined distance of three lengths across the four races. He was third over course and distance two starts ago and got the same result at Lingfield last time out.

Bot of those last two runs were off a mark of 91 and he's eased a pound here today down to 90, as he seeks to build upon an impressive All-Weather record of 3 wins and 2 places from eight starts, including 2 wins and a place from 5 over this 5f trip, a win and two places from three efforts at this Class 2 level and 1 win, place from two runs here at Wolverhampton, both over course and distance.

Leodis Dream on the other hand looks desperately out of form if you look at his 035946 results from his last six outings, but in each of his last two starts, he has been just three quarters of a length behind Top Breeze, but he now re-opposes for third time a pound worse off in the weights, making it unlikely that he'll overcome that 0.75l deficit.

He has won two of his nine starts on the A/W, including 2 from 6 over 5f, 1 from 5 at Class 2, 1 from 4 here at Wolverhampton and 1 from 3 over course and distance. He has ability, for sure, but I can't see him beating Top Breeze here and I'd expect him to be a big price.

Summary

Top Breeze is clearly far more likely to succeed here and the bookies odds of 5/1 vs 12/1 would seem to back that up, but how do I think they'll fare? To be honest with you, I can't see Leodis Dream beating more than a couple or three to the finish, whilst sadly I think Top Breeze will be an also ran. I don't think he'll be too far away, though and if things really fall his way, he has the ability to land this, but I've not even got him in my top three for this one.

I wasn't doing a full preview and technically, I'm calling this a no bet for me, but for those of you wanting my top three, they'd be Venturous, Ornate and Royal Birth. Venturous will be popular after winning his last two, but he's up in grade and up 4lbs for a one length win at Newcastle last week, so 5/2 looks skinny to me.

Ornate on the other hand is priced at 9/1 and would make a decent E/W punt in my opinion and if I decide to have an action bet later, that's probably how I'll play it.

Racing Insights, 22nd October 2020

I highlighted Serenading as the pick of my four-runner shortlist for Wednesday's race with Dancing Feet in seciond. Serenading was withdrawn whilst the Watson/Doyle combo grabbed the win with Dancing Feet.

Thursday's free feature is the Instant Expert tab for all races, whilst the free racecards are for the following...

  • 12.35 Carlisle
  • 1.20 Navan
  • 2.15 Carlisle
  • 2.50 Carlisle
  • 3.40 Navan
  • 5.20 Navan

And with Instant Expert firmly in mind, I've decided to take a look at the 4.05 Wolverhampton : an 11-runner, Class 2, A/W Handicap for 3yo+ over 5f on Tapeta that's certainly worth winning at a prize of £11828.

We start with the racecard in Geegeez Speed rating order, where I've purposely hidden the odds, as I find they can have an unhealthy sway on our decision making process in the early stages...

Working on the assumption that green is good and red less so, Verne Castle (form and jockey track record), Top Breeze (form and trainer track record), Han Solo Berger (Trainer and Jockey both have good track records), Watchable (form and jockey/track) and El Guanache (form and jockey/track) are all positives early on, whilst Fizzy Feet, Embour and Verne Castle head the Speed Ratings.

Next in my process is a look at the Instant Expert (place) tab...

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At present I wouldn't get too hung up about the field size tab, but I am interested in any runner with any green anywhere else ie Ornate, Leodis Dream, Pistoleeto, Fizzy Feet, Embour, Benny and the Jets, Han Solo Berger and most particularly Top Breeze with a full line of green. Then I like to see how that translate to regular placers turning those runs into wins and the Instant Expert win tab tells us...

...that again Leodis Dream, Pistoletto, Fizzy Feet, Top Breeze and Benny and the Jets continue to score well, with Leodis Dream probably edging it here, especially with a such a good record over this minimum trip and as this is a 5f sprint, we really should consider pace & draw and the Geegeez heatmap, which suggests being on the front end and preferably not in the middle stalls (these are better just off the pace) would be the best place to be...

and when we add the horses and their recent styles, we get this suggested order of events...

...which also augurs very well for Leodis Dream, drawn against the fence and a confirmed front runner, whilst similar applies to Ornate but the draw hasn't been as kind there, but if Fizzy Feet and Verne Castle also crack on from just inside Ornate, that could well help the latter.

And whilst that's a full run through of what area on the card, I'd be looking at, I  could/should mention that several of these runners also feature on my own "stats checklist" for this race...

Wolv Trainer 16:05 Wolv Fizzy Feet
TapSprSire JC1 16:05 Wolv Han Solo Berger
GGZ SL Wolv Trainer 16:05:00 Wolv Leodis Dream
Wolv Trainer 16:05 Wolv Pistoletto
GGZ SL 16:05 Wolv Top Breeze
TJC1/5 16:05:00 Wolv Watchable

...which I'll briefly explain...

Fizzy Feet's trainer David Loughnane's Wolverhampton handicappers sent off at 3/1 to 14/1 are 29 from 143 (20.3%) at an A/E of .50 since the start of 2018 and he also trains Leodis Dream, who features on the Geegeez Shortlist, as does Top Breeze.

Han Solo Berger is by Lord Shanakill, an American sire, whose offspring are 5 from 20 (25%, A/E 1.81) in handicaps over 5f to 1m on Tapeta since the start of 2017, whilst his jockey Jack Mitchell is 35 from 137 (25.6%, A/E 1.39) in handicaps here over the same 2017-20 timeframe.

Pistoletto is trained by John Ryan who is 8 from 34 (23.5%, A/E 1.43) with Wolverhampton handicappers sent off at Evens to 12/1 since 2018, whilst Watchable represents the two Davids, O'Meara & Nolan who have combined for 10 winners from 18 (55.6%, A/E 2.64) here at Wolverhampton since 2017 at odds of 8/1 and shorter.

And after all of the above, I've got four horses on my shortlist, which (in alphabetical order) are Fizzy Feet, Han Solo Berger, Leodis Dream and Top Breeze.

Summary

It's at this point that I'd then look at the market to see whether I'd want to back any of my four possibles and the market suggests a two-horse race between Top breeze and Benny and the Jets. We can get 11/4 about Top Breeze and that's a fair price in my opinion about an in-form runner knocking on the door, so I'd be happy to have a couple of  quid on that.

If the market is right about it being a two-horse race, then the door is open for a decent-priced placer and Fizzy Feet, Han Solo Berger & Leodis Dream are currently quoted at 9/1, 14/1 and 16/1 respectively.

I thought HSB might have been a bit longer than that and although I might reget it, I'll give him a miss at 14's. But 9/1 about Fizzy Feet and particularly 16/1 about Leodis Dream look decent and I'd be happy to take both of those E/W.

It's rare that I'd back three in a race, I often don't back any after analysing it, but Leodis Dream has every chance of going well at a silly price if he gets out quickly and toughs it out, of course.

Racing Insights, 13th October 2020

Tuesday's feature of the day is the Shortlist report, so that's where I'm going to base this piece.

So, without further ado, here is the Shortlist for Tuesday...

...where one horse, Beau Geste, leaps from the page with a maximum score of 15. He's currently available to back at around the 11/4 to 3/1 mark and I want to take a closer look at him to see if he justifies being towards the head of the market and also whether he's possibly worth sticking a quid or two on.

We'll start with the racecard...

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...which immediately alerts us to two wins and two places from his last five runs, he's dropping in class (↓1) from a 4th place finish (on turf) 44 days ago and he'll be ridden by Hollie Doyle, who herself has a good record at this venue (C5). His Geegeez Speed Rating of 79 is well clear of the next best rated, which is also another bonus.

The Instant Expert tab on the racecard adds numbers to the colours indicated on the Shortlist, as follows...

...based around the above, I can also tell you that his entire A/W career form reads 12113, all at Class 6, including the 3 from 3 here at Wolverhampton over 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs and he has finished 1211 under jockey Hollie Doyle, who herself has the C5 icon next to her name on the racecard.

In fact, since the start of 2019, Hollie has a near 1-in-5 record on this track, winning 40 of 202 races, including 32 from 89 (36%) at odds of 6/1 and shorter, 25 from 108 (23.2%) on male runners and 19 from 97 (19.6%) at Class 6, whilst she is 8 from 25 (32%) on Class 6 males sent off at 6/1 and shorter.

I don't want to labour this too much, but it's probably worth looking to see how trainer Tony Carroll fares here at Wolverhampton, as I prefer not to see trainers relying on one horse for winners and thankfully my fears on that score are allayed as he has a marginally better than 1-in-7 record here this year courtesy of 12 winners from 82.

They include 11 from 64 (17.2%) from horses with a run in the previous seven weeks, 10 from 62 (16.1%) for male runners, 9 from 30 (30%) from those sent off at odds ranging from 5/4 to 9/2, 8 from 51 (15.7%) from 3/4 yr olds and 6 from 23 (26.1%) over trips of 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs, whilst his 3/4 yr old males at 5/4 to 9/2 are 5 from 10 (50%) having ran in the previous 7 weeks and they include 2 from 2 in the last 6 weeks alone.

Whether Beau Geste goes on to win here or not, there are plenty of useful angles above that you can put into your query tool to generate future runners/winners going forward. Research is always a long-term project and whilst instant success is always welcome, it's not the be all and end all.

Summary

Beau Geste is currently the 11/4 favourite in the early market and the above analysis would appear to back that up. He's better than his last 4th place effort would suggest when staying on under hands and heels after being hampered on ground probably a bit to soft for him.

Can he win here? I'd say so, despite him being a hold-up horse. The pace profile of this contest suggests that he shouldn't win, but with a 3 from 3 record at this track, being held up hasn't stopped him yet. He might need some luck in running, but Hollie Doyle knows what she's doing and the braver amongst you might wait until the race goes in-play for a higher price on the exchanges if he is held up again.