I suggested that Que Amoro would be the biggest danger to Liberty Beach at Haydock on Saturday, but she was a non-runner eventually and Liberty Beach got home by a neck, but was always holding the runner-up.
Monday heralds the start of a new week and rather than give everyone free access to a specific report, we give full free access to the racecard pace tab to ALL readers for ALL races including, of course, our free races of the day, which are set to be...
- 2.00 Wolverhampton
- 2.20 Ludlow
- 3.20 Ludlow
- 7.45 Windsor
I fancied a crack at the Windsor race with it being a 5f heavy ground sprint, but there are only 5 entered and the short-priced fav looks like winning it. The two races at Ludlow are a maiden hurdle and an apprentices race, so almost by default, I'm going to tackle the 2.00 Wolverhampton, a 10-runner, Class 5, A/W Handicap for 4yo+ over 1m6f on Standard Tapeta worth £2,862 to the winner, who will be one of these...
Half of the field have a win in their last five outings, half the field are also class movers with Bad Attitude and Juriste dropping from Class 4 and Stormy Night, Dynali and Thawry all stepping up from Class 6. Only Bad Attitude, Thawry and Stormy Night have won here before and the latter is the one to have won over this trip and he is also a course and distance winner.
Of the ten runners, six are aged just four and the field have hardly been prolific in the past, making the frame in just 28.8% (47 times) of their combined 163 outings, going on to win just 9.2% (15) of them. The SR ratings suggest Bad Attitude is well clear of the pack, although two runners don't have a rating due to a lack of recent relevant form.
The Dancing Poet struggled on soft ground at Nottingham last time out, but now returns to the all-weather for the first time in 15 months, since he was beaten by just a short head over 2m0.5f here at Wolverhampton meaning he has made the frame on both visits to this track and today could well be three from three.
Storm Chaser is a bit of an unknown quantity, as she makes a handicap debut, a yard debut and a UK racing debut all at once. She hasn't raced for 278 days since finishing fifth in an 8-runner maiden at Clairefontaine over a similar trip to today, but on soft ground. I'm told she was pretty one-paced in the closing stages, going down by eight lengths. To be honest with you, I don't know enough about her, so I'd have to just give her a miss for now.
Trinity Girl won at Chelmsford back in November (C5, 2m), but has been beaten fairly convincingly in four starts since and went down by 16 lengths at Kempton (C5, 2m) 19 days ago. I'm not sure a drop back in trip helps here either as I suspect she'll be in the second half of the results list.
Aldrich Bay won over 1m4f at a lower grade at Lingfield just before Christmas and ran a decent race in a first-time visor at Chelmsford almost four weeks ago at this class/trip when only just held off by a neck. He's only up a pound for that run and could be prominent again here.
Bad Attitude hasn't quite lived up to his performances in late 2020 where he ended the year with a run reading 22311. All five runs came at Class 6, but after the turn of the year he stepped up to Class 5 and dropped in trip to 1m2f, which is probably his best distance to tackle. He clearly has ability, but 1m6f might be too far and he's still higher than his last win, which was here back in December.
Stormy Night won here over course and distance two starts and five weeks ago when he made all and stayed on strongly to win by more than three lengths off a mark of 58. He was raised 5lbs next/last time out just ten days later and was a runner-up over two miles on soft ground at Chepstow and although he was beaten by six lengths that day, he proved his stamina by being 12 lengths clear of the third placed horse. He's up another 2lbs for that run, which makes life harder, of course, but he's definitely one to consider, especially with the in-form, course specialist William Buick booked to ride.
Juriste was third of seven here over course and distance at a higher grade four starts ago at the start of February and is now 8lbs lower than that run after three admittedly dire performances that have seen him finish 8th of 12, last of 6 and most recently last of 9 tailed off by 94 lengths at Thirsk. The run here in February off 8lbs higher says he could have a big part to play, but recent form is so bad that I'd not want to risk it, unless he was a massive price for an E/W punt.
Beat The Breeze completed a hat-trick of class 6 A/W wins over 1m2f and 1m4f in his last hree outings of 2020 and also made the frame as a runner-up in successive outings in March/April. I'm happy to overlook his 15 length defeat at this Class/trip 16 days ago on soft ground, as his A/W record is better than most in this field and he definitely has place potential for me.
Dynali has made the frame just once in ten starts, finishing third of nine, beaten by more than five lengths at this trip in a lower grade Chelmsford six months and five starts ago. Has been racing over longer distances since, but I'm not convinced a tapeta debut over a shorter trip is the key to getting him to win, despite a career-low mark. He's a Class 6 horse at best.
Thawry is a previous course winner (C6, 9.5f), but hasn't won any of 18 races since scoring at Southwell last October over 1m4f. He's still 4lbs worse off than that run and although he's only carrying the weight of a small child (8-8) here today, I still think he's overburdened.
If the above was all I had at my disposal to make a decision about this race, the first thing I'd do would be to eliminate Dynali, Juriste, Thawry and Trinity Girl based on what we already know about their pasts. I'd also be discounting Storm Chaser because of what I don't know!
Thankfully I and all Geegeez readers do have more to go at, so let's turn to Instant Expert for past relevant form. I already warned that this field don't win (or even place) often enough, so I'm not expecting the win element of IE to yield too many clues and that's why I think it's beneficial to start with place form first...
Backing up my initial post-analysis thoughts, Juriste, Thawry & Trinity Girl look weak whilst Storm Chaser has no relevant data. Dynali's numbers look better than expected, though. And now to the win data...
...which gives me a sneaking suspicion of where my attention should be focused : those with green!
The four with the green blocks above aren't sadly all drawn together, they're strung a cross the track in stalls 1, 4, 7 and 8 and to see if that has any bearing on the result, let's quick check the draw stats for similar past races...
And in graph form (it's the blue line we're interested in) from previous 10-runner handicaps...
The inference here is pretty clear, you can win from any stall, but stall 1 isn't the advantage it can be at other tracks and that stalls 5 to 8 seem to be the best place to be. This data isn't great news for Aldrich Bay, but does seem to favour Bad Attitude and The Dancing Poet from our four "greens". That said, this race is a mile and three quarters long and the draw has plenty of time to either take effect or even be negated depending on the horses' running style(s) and in similar previous contests...
...prominent racers with an IV of 1.02 set what looks like "par" from a win perspective, but are easily the best place to be to make the frame. Hold-up horses outperform par by some 23%, whilst leaders and mid-division horses have struggled. Leaders seem to either get swallowed up by the prominent runners or end up tiring late on and become susceptible to the fast finishing hold up horse who has conserved energy for the final dash to the line.
With the above in mind, you're probably thinking that you now want to be on a hold-up horse drawn in the higher half of the draw?
If so, you'd not be far wrong, but for the vagaries of deciphering what is mid (4-7) and high (8-10) in a 10-horse field. Our next task is to see how our runners have raced in their previous outings and how that lines up with the heat map above...
...where I suspect that Dynali in stall 10 and Beat The Breeze in stall 9 will tack across towards the rail and try to remain ahead of Trinity Girl and Stormy Night. Whether they'll have to expend too much energy to do that is open to debate, but the heatmap doesn't advise that tactic and the graphic says that The Dancing Poet and Thawry have the best of the pace/draw make-up.
In low quality races like this featuring unreliable/inconsistent runners (9.2% strike rate, remember?), it's often not a case of "who ticks all the boxes?" but more a case of "who has the least red crosses next to their name?" And with that in mind, I'm looking at Aldrich Bay, Bad Attitude, Beat The Breeze, Stormy Night and The Dancing Poet as my "division 1" if I was to split the field in two.
From that five, it's pretty easy to discount Aldrich Bay from my winner-finding perspective. He's badly drawn, doesn't have a good pace profile and ultimately looks out of it on the pace/draw combo, leaving us with four.
So, who's not making my tricast list? Well, there's not much between Beat The Breeze and Bad Attitude for me, but I think that not only does the former shade it, he'll probably offer more value with the bookies.
And the winner is... Again, a tight call, but I prefer The Dancing Poet marginally over Stormy Night, he's well drawn, has the right pace profile and has ran well here before. Plus like my choice for third place, I suspect he'll offer more value at the odds.
Over to the bookies... my 1-2-3-4 is The Dancing Poet to beat Stormy Night and then Beat the Breeze to beat Bad Attitude. My pairings are fairly closely matched and the bookies have them at 13/2 & 11/4 and 25/1 & 12/1, meaning I've ended up with the longer priced pick of each pairing.
I'm happy to back The Dancing Poet at 13/2 and I may well have got this wildly wrong, but I'm going to have to back Beat The Breeze at 25/1 e/w. The lattr really is a bet to nothing based on what we know.