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Sea The Shells makes striking impression on racecourse bow

Sea The Shells could go on to much better things after making an impressive belated winning debut at Wolverhampton on Wednesday.

Several minor setbacks kept the Mark Johnston-trained colt off the track as a two-year-old and having been meant to run last week, he got his career off to the best possible start in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Novice Stakes.

“We’re very pleased. He was due to run at Chelmsford on Friday, but that was abandoned so that’s why he got rerouted here,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.

“He’s always a horse we’ve liked. He’s from a good pedigree and had the physique, so it was good to see him deliver on the racecourse.”

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The nine-and-a-half furlong contest got off to an unsatisfactory start with the gates being opened before the reluctant Countessa had been installed.

Sea The Shells, sent off the 2-1 favourite, ran very green in the early stages – but the Derby entrant certainly got the message at the business end.

Bursting into the lead over a furlong out, Franny Norton’s mount quickly put the race to bed and scored by six and a half lengths, despite being eased in the last 100 yards.

Johnston added: “I’m surprised it wasn’t a false start, but it was far from ideal circumstances the race was started in.

“There was a moment three (furlongs) out to two out where he was quite green and came under quite stern pressure and probably looked in trouble briefly.

“Then the penny dropped and he really powered away. That would maybe make us lean towards getting a bit more experience in a similar kind of race at some point in March, and then hopefully he can be ready to step up into better company when the turf comes around in April.”

The son of Sea The Stars looks a snip at the 40,000 guineas he cost at Tattersalls Book One Sale in October 2019.

“He certainly looks cheap now,” Johnston went on.

“There’s quite a bit of speed coming from the dam’s side of his pedigree, but physically he’s a very big, strong scopey horse. A mile and a quarter is ideal for him now and I’m sure he’ll stay a mile and a half standing on his head.

“There’s lots to look forward with him.”

The stewards inquired into the start and found that due to human error the race had been started before Countessa was loaded.

They ordered a report to be forward to the headquarters of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.

Hopes fading for big weekend card at Newbury

Newbury’s Betfair Super Saturday fixture is already in serious doubt after officials announced a course inspection for Friday morning.

The Berkshire circuit is due to stage a mouthwatering card, featuring the £125,000 Betfair Hurdle, as well as recognised trials for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in the shape of the Denman Chase and the Game Spirit Chase respectively.

Dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, last season’s RSA Chase winner Champ and superstar chaser Altior are just some of the big names who are set to be on show.

However, with the track already frozen in places under the frost covers and sub-zero temperatures forecast for the rest of the week, clerk of the course Keith Ottesen is not optimistic ahead of a Friday inspection at 8.30am.

He said: “It was only minus 2C overnight, but it didn’t get above zero on Tuesday, so it’s not just the night-time temperatures that are a problem.

“It’s a cumulative effect of the temperature zero or below for a number of days. You’ve got to cover up to give it every chance, but with the forecast the way it is, the fleece covers that we use don’t offer enough protection for such a prolonged period of cumulative frost.

“We haven’t got the best forecast going forward. It’s going to be very cold tonight and into Thursday morning, the same thing Friday night into Saturday and not much better Thursday into Friday.

“At this stage it’s far too early to do anything but to call an inspection for Friday, but really we need a change in the forecast to come.

“Unless there is a complete change, it will be a struggle.”

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Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls will be hoping races can be restaged
Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls will be hoping races can be restaged (David Davies/PA)

High-profile trainers Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are among those calling for the major races to be rescheduled – and Ottesen revealed discussions are already under way about the possibility of the entire card being moved to a later date.

He added: “We’re definitely talking about it at the moment. We need a number of things to align.

“From a Newbury point of view, we’d like to run the whole day, rather than just move races here and there. We’re just working on whether we can reschedule the day in the next week when conditions allow.

“I can’t really say more than that at the moment. Obviously there’s TV, sponsors, the Levy Board and the BHA (involved). We’ve been talking about it all week to try to find a solution, obviously with the support of Betfair (sponsors).”

Wednesday’s all-weather fixture at Newcastle was called off due to snow.

The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.

That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card that day.

Armstrong said: “We’ve had something like three inches of snow, but it’s powdery, dry stuff. It’s cold, the temperatures aren’t going to start rising until later this morning and there’s the possibility of more snow.

“We’ve worked the track, but it’s got into the surface profile and it’s starting to ball up a bit, so it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.

“We’ll inspect at 10am for tomorrow’s meeting. We’ll use the windows of sunshine today to work the track and try to help it thaw out.”

Wolverhampton’s evening card was also subject to a 10am check, but the fixture got the go-ahead.

Racing has been called off at Ffos Las
Racing has been called off at Ffos Las (David Davies/PA)

There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday though, as Ffos Las’ meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Newcastle card becomes latest casualty of cold snap

Wednesday’s all-weather fixture at Newcastle has been called off due to snow.

The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.

That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card.

Armstrong said: “We’ve had something like three inches of snow, but it’s powdery, dry stuff. It’s cold, the temperatures aren’t going to start rising until later this morning and there’s the possibility of more snow.

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“We’ve worked the track, but it’s got into the surface profile and it’s starting to ball up a bit, so it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.

“We’ll inspect at 10am for tomorrow’s meeting. We’ll use the windows of sunshine today to work the track and try to help it thaw out.”

Wolverhampton’s evening card was also subject to a 10am check, but the fixture got the go-ahead.

Racing has been called off at Ffos Las
Racing has been called off at Ffos Las (David Davies/PA)

There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday though, as Ffos Las’ meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Frost claims Ffos Las card

Thursday’s meeting at Ffos Las has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Newcastle and Wolverhampton will both have to pass 10am inspections if today’s meetings are to go ahead.

Newcastle is due to stage a seven-race card kicking off at 1.30pm, but overnight snow combined with temperatures of -5C overnight forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am.

With further snow flurries a possibility, Armstrong then opted to check again at 10am.

He tweeted: “Temps currently -1.5c. Light snow flurries on & off. Course worked from early hrs at least three times. Need temps to rise to assist in melting snow mixed within the Tapeta profile. Will work again soon as temps lift further.”

Wolverhampton’s eight-race fixture starts at 4.45pm and it too is subject to a 10am inspection.

The track had a light covering of snow overnight, but officials remain optimistic of the card going ahead as planned.

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Mildenberger is determined winner at Wolverhampton

Mildenberger just prevailed in a thrilling tussle with Rainbow Dreamer to edge victory by a head in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.

Winning jockey Joe Fanning did his best to ensure a modest early pace increased with a circuit to go, taking Mark Johnston’s stayer briefly prominent for the first time as the field passed the stands.

It was a mid-race move which paid off as Outbox and eventual third Nate The Great took the hint and upped the tempo – to Mildenberger’s advantage by the time he moved to the lead entering the straight again.

Rainbow Dreamer, the 7-4 favourite to win this fast-track qualifier for the second year in succession, closed to produce a strong challenge in the final furlong.

But despite edging successfully through a gap between Mildenberger and Nate The Great to claim a rail position, Tom Marquand and the runner-up could not quite get to the 11-4 winner.

Mildenberger, who was turning round recent Newcastle form with Rainbow Dreamer, has therefore booked his place in the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship at Lingfield on Good Friday.

Fanning told Sky Sports Racing: “It was a messy race – the pace kept steadying, and every time I went to go and put a bit of pressure on they kept quickening up, and then when I came back they slowed up again.

“If they’d gone a proper gallop, I’d have won (further).”

Mildenberger, second in last year’s Group Three Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle, nonetheless responded with great determination when it mattered.

Fanning, who was riding the six-year-old for only the second time, added: “Every time this guy’s won when I’ve seen him (previously), it’s been a good gallop.

“I was just worried it was slowing up a little bit for him.

“He’s a very good horse on the turf as well, and I thought he had a big shout in that kind of race.”

Wintry Wolverhampton will always be special for Georgia King

All-weather meetings in the depths of winter rarely live long in the memory – but the one staged at Wolverhampton on January 5, 2021 will always be special for Georgia King after Gavi Di Gavi became her first winner.

The daughter of Gavi Di Gavi’s trainer Alan King, Georgia will forever treasure her breakthrough success in the Bombardier ‘March To Your Own Drum’ Handicap.

Coronavirus restrictions meant there was no crowd to welcome the 18-year-old back in, of course, but she was all smiles then and still is as she relives the four-length victory on the Camacho gelding.

“I knew I had a chance if it all went to plan, but my nerves were increased because it was against the professionals like Tom Marquand and Ben Curtis,” she said.

“I managed to get in a nice position – because I didn’t want to get wide early on. Down the back straight I got shuffled back, but it did me a favour because it gave me room on the rail.

“When they all spread out on the turn I kept on the inside. I couldn’t really believe that I won – and he ended up doing it really easily. I was just delighted.”

Working with horses was always likely for King, but making it as a jockey was not originally on her agenda.

“I was really into eventing and I represented Britain in the 2018 (FEI) European Pony Championships in Yorkshire when I was 16,” she added.

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“I was lucky to get on the British team in my last year. The dressage and cross country went OK, but the showjumping didn’t end up a personal success. I felt a bit deflated after that, because I had worked so hard to get there.”

There is normally a decisive moment which most jockeys can point to in helping them choose a career in the saddle, and King is no different.

“A few weeks after the pony championships I rode Sula Island in a charity race at Epsom,” she said.

“Everyone else had been preparing for it for months, and I found out a week or two before I would be on Sula Island in it – plus I hadn’t been riding out that long.

“Although we jumped off pretty far back, I ended up winning pretty easily because she made up ground well and it ended up being a great result.

“It was some feeling – even though I struggled to carry the saddle because it had so much lead in! But it made me want to do it again.”

Georgia King is still all smiles with Gavi Di Gavi after their Wolverhampton win together
Georgia King is still all smiles with Gavi Di Gavi after their Wolverhampton win together (Graham Clark/PA)

Having the backing of a trainer like her dad comes with its advantages, but playing an equally important role has been the support from mum Rachel.

King said: “Mum always said she was gutted that I gave up eventing and handed me over to dad – but to be fair, she has taken me to every race I’ve been to.

“She doesn’t go racing loads, but she loves coming into the parade ring with me and being really supportive. She has definitely got into it.

“Although mum was there to celebrate my first winner, she didn’t watch most of it!”

King can also call on the help of retired Classic-winning rider George Baker, who has been her jockey coach since she was granted her apprentice licence in November.

She said: “I’m pleased to have George as my jockey coach – he was the one I really wanted.

Former Classic winner George Baker is Georgia King's jockey coach
Former Classic winner George Baker is Georgia King’s jockey coach (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“He spoke to me the night before the ride on Gavi, running me through the race and telling me what I needed to do – which as a young rider was a massive boost.

“He knows everything, and if I ever need anything he is always there to ask things.”

With a winner already on the board, King is of course hungry for more but will not rush her development as a jockey.

“Over the next few months, I just want to try and get as much experience as I can and try to ride a few different horses, then when the spring comes to get on the grass and give a few a spin,” she said.

“There are quite a few good girls coming through – which is great to see, and it helps give you more confidence -while Hollie Doyle has done the sport the world of good.

“Dad is happy for me just riding for him at the moment, and then when I get more experience get a few outside rides. I know you have got to dream big, but I think I’m better off keeping my head down and working my way up.”

Amniarix takes fast-track qualifier honours at Wolverhampton

Amniarix continued on an upward curve with an impressive success in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.

The Ed Walker-trained four-year-old was a course and distance scorer in November before following up over a mile at Kempton, and she returned to seven furlongs to record a stylish effort in the first fast-track qualifier of the year for All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday.

Ridden patiently by Richard Kingscote, the Bjorn Nielsen-owned daughter of Speightstown picked up smartly when asked from the top of the straight, sweeping to a two-length victory over Shimmering Dawn as the 7-4 favourite.

Dancing Feet set out to make all under Hollie Doyle and kept on for third, another length and a half away.

Kingscote said: “She’s done well this winter and gave me a lovely ride throughout, very straightforward. I just had to trust that she’d pick up in the straight as she’d done on her last couple of runs and she did it nicely.

“I got a nice lead round, and as I say she was very smooth. Although I came wide off the turn, she was picking up nicely.”

Walker’s charge is now qualified for the Fillies & Mares Championship over the same distance at Lingfield on April 2, and while the Surrey circuit would present a different test, Kingscote feels she would adapt to it.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I think connections wanted to find out a bit more today, see where they are with her and what the future holds. She’s opened up some avenues for them.

“Lingfield is a sharp track, but she’s a good traveller and a well-balanced filly. She’s pretty straightforward and I can’t see it posing a problem.”

The victory was the highlight of a treble on the card for Kingscote, who had struck earlier in the evening through Album (6-1) and My Girl Maggie (6-4 favourite).

Racing Insights, 30th December 2020

I was right to oppose the 11/10 favourite in Tuesday's race (2nd) but my main selection was 3rd and the winner was Bay Of Naples who was well enough bred for the surface but hadn't shown enough (in my opinion) in his previous course and distance run to be of interest.

Once again on Wednesday all registered free users of Geegeez have full free access to Geegeez Gold – all racecards, tools and reports are free until the end of Friday.

Click here to become a free user and to gain full access until Friday.

So with the every race to choose from it seems best to play safe and go for an all weather race with the winter weather putting plenty of jumps fixtures in doubt at the minute. The race of most interest on Wolverhampton’s card is their 4.40pm, a class 5 handicap over 6f.

First let’s rule a few out from calculations who are out of form or badly handicapped. Harbour Project’s best run to date came in a course and distance maiden in July but in three runs to date he hasn’t really shown enough that he’s capable of defying a mark of 60 on handicap debut. Big Impact has finished nearer last than first in all four appearances since racing resumed in June and similar sentiments apply to Red Alert who hasn’t run particularly well for over a year. Sepahi has beaten just one rival home in his last three runs.

Little Red Socks’ best two runs to date have come in her two starts here. She won on debut here in March and then had two poor runs elsewhere before finishing 3rd here off a mark of 67 (runs here off 64). She then had a wind op and hasn’t run well in two starts since. Her chance completely depends on this course bringing out the best in her once again but stall 12 is a concern, course and distance runners coming out of stall 12 have the worst PRB of any stall (0.45). The second worst PRB is stall 11 and a very high draw here is not good so she’s probably up against it even if she does bounce back to form.

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Final Frontier ran well here in 2nd two starts ago but reverted to type next time out (again here) by running moderately but as if in some sort of form. He’s got a chance here on some of his form but his best runs have generally come when ridden positively, which he hasn’t been recently. If betting in running it’s worth checking what early position he takes up but it’s a leap to back him for win purposes ahead of the race.

Turanga Leela won two races seemingly out of nowhere recently before a poor run at Southwell (course debut). After her most recent win she was pushed up to a mark of 70 an all her wins in the past three years have come off marks between 57 and 65. In fact she’s been beaten on her last 24 runs off marks above 65 so she’s another who looks an unlikely winner.

Gold Brocade was 2nd on two recent runs at Chelmsford but was well below par when trying to make all at Kempton last time out. She’s run twice here at Wolverhampton off this sort of mark and although not beaten far in either race (2.5 lengths and 3.25 lengths), she was 5th of 9 and 7th of 9 respectively and probably isn’t seen to best effect here.

If all the above are going to struggle to win that probably leaves one of the likely four favourites in this as the most likely winner. Steelriver is a bit of a legend here having won at Wolverhampton seven times and finished runner up on a further five occasions from twenty six runs here. In fact he’s been in the places on half his runs here. His last six runs here have dented that stat somewhat though as they’ve all here and he hasn’t placed in any of them, although he was beaten 1.5 lengths or less in three of them. He’s back down to his last winning mark and his recent close 4th has been advertised since with the 3rd winning on his next run. He’s certainly a strong contender dropping down in class but he does need a decent pace to aim at.

Inevitable Outcome is interesting based on several angles. She’s 2lbs above his last winning mark in September but has the capable services of Laura Pearson on board claiming 7lbs. At the time of writing she has won on 5 of her last 13 rides that have started at 8/1 or less and she’s well worth her claim. The horse was 2nd here off a 1lb higher mark in September and ran well in 4th last time out over course and distance last time out against a pace bias. The jockey isn’t the only one in form. The trainer has won 8 of his last 34 runs and is producing an A/E of 1.88. Another runner with a clear form chance but another that will want a good early gallop.

Araifjan has placed in all five starts here so a not so strong effort at Lingfield last time out isn’t a concern. On his last run here he was just behind a subsequent winner and was 2.25 lengths in front of Steelriver in receipt of 5lbs. Today the 3yo is getting 2lbs from that rival so is weighted to confirm form. Both his wins have come from the front and the difference between him placing in this and winning this could be an uncontested lead.

Thowq is a slight unknown, making his handicap debut in this after just five previous runs, all over an extra furlong for previous trainer William Haggas. The trainer change report shows that Marco Botti isn’t one of the best performers over the past five years with horses making their debuts after moving yards.

He has just a 13.33% strike rate and a WIN PL of -9. He run creditably here in the past and based on that form behind Sunset Kiss his mark of 70 is a fair one but he’ll almost certainly have to improve after the stable change or for the drop in trip to win this and he’s less convincing than the tried and trusted Steelriver, Inevitable Outcome and Araifjan.

Let’s have a quick look at the pace map for this.

A lowish draw and being closer to the pace is likely to be an advantage here. There should be a decent pace on with Araifjan and Gold Brocade likely to go forward.

Verdict

Araifjan, Inevitable Outcome and Steelriver are the most interesting trio by far in this and the winner is likely to come from one of the three. It would be no surprise if all three are in the first three or four home.

Gold Brocade is arguably the horse that holds the key though. She’s led early on two of her recent runs, including the only one for this jockey, but is often happy taking a lead. If she allows Araifjan to get an easy lead then Araifjan is by far the most likely winner of this. If she takes Araifjan on early in the race the pair could end up setting this up for Inevitable Outcome and Steelriver.

Inevitable Outcome is arguably the best single play in this race assuming he’s a bigger price than Araifjan and big enough to back each way. If Araifjan was backable each way (probably won’t be) he’d be the more interesting bet.

Ben Curtis and Rob Hornby sore and bruised but otherwise unscathed

Ben Curtis and Rob Hornby face short spells on the sidelines after escaping serious injury in nasty-looking incident at Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

Hornby was unseated from Villanelle about two furlongs from the finish of the Betway Casino Handicap, while Curtis and his mount Fortultous were brought down.

The two riders were treated on track, with Hornby soon sitting up after his spill. Curtis took longer before he thankfully got to his feet and was able to walk unaided to the ambluance.

His wife Shauna came to collect him, with fellow jockeys Ben Robinson and Cam Hardie taking his car home.

“I spoke to Ben this morning. He’s in good spirits considering. He’s going to hospital for scans, but he feels OK,” said his agent Simon Dodds.

“There’s a bit of stiffness in his neck and he has a sore leg, but he’s very lucky and looking forward to coming back as soon as he’s allowed.

“He’s having precautionary scans at the hospital today, but he feels 100 per cent. Obviously he has a red mark on his medical book so he’ll be out for at least six days. All things considered Ben’s really lucky.

“It was great to see him up and walking about after the fall.”

Hornby is expected to be back in action at the weekend.

His agent Nicky Adams said: “He’s having a couple of days just to recoup. He’s a little bit sore and bruised, but otherwise he’s OK.

“He’ll probably be back at the weekend.”

Kieran O’Neil was handed a 12-day suspension by the stewards for careless riding following an inquiry into the incident.

The stewards found O’Neill had allowed his mount to shift left-handed towards the rail when insufficiently clear of Villanelle. That caused the filly to clip heels, stumble and unseat Hornby resulting in Fortultous being brought down with Curtis unshipped.

Both horses ran loose, none the worse.

Doyle confirmed as BBC Sports Personality contender

Hollie Doyle may be in line to crown her brilliant year with another major accolade after being named as a nominee for the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Doyle joins a list which will contain six household names in all – including Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton and cricket’s Stuart Broad – who could win the prestigious award when the public votes for its favourite British sports star of the year on December 20.

The 24-year-old becomes the first nomination from the world of racing since Sir Anthony McCoy – the sport’s only winner of the award to date in 2010, and also twice third, in 2002 and 2013.

Doyle has already had an unforgettable year, most recently winning the coveted Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award last month.

Among her achievements over the past 11 months, Doyle broke her own record for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey when she reached 117 in October, finished fourth in this year’s race for the Flat jockeys’ championship – and rode five winners on the same card, at odds of 899-1 at Windsor in August.

She went on to pull off a brilliant Champions Day double at Ascot in that same month – including her first victory at Group One level as Glen Shiel clung on by a nose in the British Champions Sprint.

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Doyle also claimed her first Royal Ascot win aboard Scarlet Dragon, and more recently was on her travels to ride at the Breeders’ Cup in America for the first time and in the Bahrain International Trophy.

On hearing she was on the BBC’s short-list, she said: “It is a huge privilege to be nominated for such an illustrious award.

“It’s hard to get my head around being nominated alongside the likes of Lewis Hamilton, but I’m really pleased that horse racing has been recognised alongside these sports.

“Racing can be in its own little bubble as such, so hopefully this might help to open the door to a wider audience.”

McCoy, who was also honoured with a BBC lifetime achievement award in 2015, added: “Hollie has got on with her job quietly, confidently, and successfully.

“She seems more interested in walking the walk than talking the talk.

“She lets her achievements do the talking, and there’s a lot to learn from Hollie. She keeps her head down, she works hard and understands the need to make herself better all the time.

“Honestly, I’m a little bit jealous of her – a thoroughly deserved nomination.”

Right on cue, Doyle celebrated with a treble on Wolverhampton’s Tuesday evening card.

After completing the feat with a last-to-first charge on David Evans’ 11-10 favourite Regal Eagle in division one of the Bombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Handicap, she told Sky Sports Racing: “I got shuffled back a bit further than I’d have liked – but it worked out ideally in the end.

“I just sling-shotted him off the bend, and he’s really enjoyed it.

“He shot clear … you’d like to think he’d win a few more.”

Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan, boxer Tyson Fury and Liverpool and England footballer Jordan Henderson are the remaining Sports Personality contenders.

Uncle Bryn continues progression at Wolverhampton

Uncle Bryn is a general 20-1 shot for next year’s Derby after maintaining his unbeaten record with a dominant display at Wolverhampton.

The son of Sea The Stars made a big impression on his racecourse introduction at the start of September, and was the 2-9 favourite to follow up in the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free EBF Novice Stakes at Dunstall Park.

Ridden by Robert Havlin, Uncle Bryn was sent straight to the lead and the further he went the better he looked – kicking clear under just hand driving in the straight for a four-and-a-quarter-length success over Jaramillo.

Thady Gosden, assistant to his father, said: “We’re very happy with him. He was obviously carrying a penalty and he’s still a little bit green, with it being only his second start, but he did it impressively.

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“There’s a bit of speed in his pedigree, so he’ll probably start off over a mile an a quarter next year and we’ll see whether he wants to step up to a mile and a half or not.”

Havlin was similarly impressing, telling Sky Sports Racing: “He was still a bit green in front and a bit raw – he’s very much a baby.

“Because of the size of him and letting him develop, we’ve had to ease off at certain times of his progression, so he hasn’t had the schooling that everything else has had.

“He’ll have learnt plenty today. He’s a nice type going forward and he’s going to strengthen up in the winter.”

Jack Hobbs (left) chases home Golden Horn in the Derby at Epsom
Jack Hobbs (left) chases home Golden Horn in the Derby at Epsom (PA)

Gosden is not afraid to run a high-class prospect at Wolverhampton, with the promising Waldkonig making a winning debut at the track last year and, even more notably, Jack Hobbs doing so in 2014.

The latter went on to chase home esteemed stablemate Golden Horn in the Dante at York and the Derby at Epsom, before winning the Irish Derby and later the Dubai Sheema Classic.

“It’s good to get one or two runs into them at this time of year if you can, for a bit of education,” Thady Gosden added.

Gosden and Havlin were denied a Wolverhampton double, with 4-6 favourite Alexej proving no match for Saeed bin Suroor’s newcomer Silent Escape (100-30) in the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Novice Stakes, with Hector Crouch the winning rider.

Crouch said: “She was a bit sharper than I was expecting her to be. She travelled very nicely and showed a nice, sharp turn of foot.

“She’s still very green and will improve a lot.”

Megan Nicholls posts landmark win at Wolverhampton

Megan Nicholls was “delighted” to ride out her claim with victory aboard Kryptos at Wolverhampton on Monday.

Nicholls, the daughter of 11-times champion National Hunt trainer Paul, steered the John Berry-trained 14-1 shot to a three-quarter-length success in the Betway Handicap, beating her partner Kevin Stott into second in the process.

She told Sky Sports Racing: “I’m delighted as that’s my claim gone – that was the goal for this year. Obviously it’s turned out to be a strange one, it was a bit stop-start, but the last couple of weeks I’ve been on a little bit of a roll.

“John has been good to me the last couple of years, so it’s nice to do it on one of his horses as well.

“It’s great to get it done and fingers crossed we can continue now we’re on the proper stage of it – it’s going to get hard from now on.”

Saffie Osborne taken to hospital after Windsor fall

Saffie Osborne has been taken to hospital following a fall from Zeyzoun at Windsor.

The daughter of former jump jockey turned trainer, Jamie Osborne, was unshipped from Alexandra Dunn’s six-year-old gelding after about two furlongs in division one of the Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap.

Zeyzoun was not far off the leaders when clipping heels, sending the 7lb claiming apprentice out of the saddle.

“She’s been taken to hospital for further investigation,” said Windsor clerk of the course Sophie Candy.

“She was conscious.”

The stewards held an inquiry into the incident and suspended 5lb claimer Marco Ghiani for 10 days for careless riding.

The official report read: “Ghiani was suspended for 10 days for careless riding as he had manoeuvred right-handed towards the rail when insufficiently clear, causing Zeyzoun to clip heels and unseat Osborne.”

Osborne had been successful on the 11-year-old Pettochside for trainer John Bridger in the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Classifield Claiming Stakes earlier on the card.

Pace Wins The Race: 6f All Weather Handicaps

In my most recent article, we looked at pace bias in 5f handicaps on the all weather, and as promised here is a follow-up looking at the 6f trip, writes Dave Renham.

For regular readers I appreciate the next few lines in some form or other seem to appear in all my pace articles, but for the benefit of new readers I need to clarify the following: when discussing pace the main focus is the initial pace in a race and the position horses take up early on. At www.geegeez.co.uk there is a pace tab within the racecards for each race, and the stats in this article are based on the site’s pace data. These pace data on Geegeez are split into four sections each of which are assigned points – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). For all my articles I concentrate on the numerical values to create a plethora of hopefully useful stats.

The minimum distance of five furlongs gives the strongest pace bias on the flat as previous articles have illustrated. However, there is still a bias to pace horses/front runners over an extra furlong, which I will demonstrate in what follows.

The first set of data I wish to share with you is the overall pace perspective for 6f all weather handicaps with six or more runners (the data for this article has been taken from the last 5 years 2014 to 2018):

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 325 1812 17.9 1.75
Prominent (3) 523 4448 11.8 1.15
Mid Division (2) 155 2003 7.7 0.79
Held Up (1) 357 4886 7.3 0.72

 

These stats give front runners a solid edge – it is not as strong as over 5f but it is still significant. Just for comparison purposes let us look at the strike rates (SR%) and Impact Values (IVs) for 6f and for 5f:

 

Pace comment 6f 5f   6f 5f
  SR% SR%   IV IV
Led (4) 17.9 22.3   1.75 2.04
Prominent (3) 11.8 12.5   1.15 1.15
Mid Division (2) 7.7 6.5   0.79 0.62
Held Up (1) 7.3 6.7   0.72 0.61

 

Over 6f front runners are still winning 1.75 times more often than average so we still have a decent starting point.

The main data for this article covers all-weather six-furlong handicaps with 6 or more runners. I then split the data into different field sizes – 6 to 8 runners; 9 – 10 runners; 11 or more runners. I did this ‘runner split’ for the 5f all-weather data in the previous article, and over that trip bigger fields produced the strongest front-running bias. As it turns out, this is replicated over 6f too:

6 to 8 runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 536 104 19.4 1.41
Prominent (3) 1093 167 15.28 1.11
Mid Division (2) 304 27 8.88 0.66
Held Up (1) 988 107 10.83 0.79

 

9 to 10 runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 548 100 18.25 1.73
Prominent (3) 1351 163 12.07 1.15
Mid Division (2) 549 43 7.83 0.74
Held Up (1) 1477 113 7.65 0.73

 

11 or more runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 728 121 16.62 1.98
Prominent (3) 2004 193 9.63 1.14
Mid Division (2) 1150 85 7.39 0.88
Held Up (1) 2421 137 5.66 0.67
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The IV for front runners increases as the number of runners increases. This is somewhat counter-intuitive and is therefore worth bearing in mind.

The article that discussed 5f all weather sprints looked at each course and distance individually. Once again this is the plan here, as different courses have different layouts, and also there are differences between certain track surfaces too. Let's start with Chelmsford and work through alphabetically.

Chelmsford

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 58 278 20.9 1.97
Prominent (3) 71 562 12.6 1.19
Mid Division (2) 31 422 7.3 0.71
Held Up (1) 44 671 6.6 0.62

 

Just over a fifth of the 6f handicap races (SR 20.9%) at Chelmsford have seen the early leader going on to win. This compares with a strike rate of 26.3% over 5f: not quite as strong but with an IV close to 2 the front-running bias is still clear.

It has already been noted that in bigger fields at all of the all-weather courses the front-running bias seems to be more evident. This is certainly the case here: in races of 11 runners or more at Chelmsford, the front runner has prevailed an impressive 21 times from 87 giving a strike rate of 24.1% and an Impact Value of 2.93.

The draw seems to be material here, too, with those horses drawn nearest to the inside rail performing best when taking the early lead (all 6+ runner races). That makes sense as they will be taking advantage of the shortest route. Horses that have led early from one of the three lowest draws in these big field Chelmsford 6f handicaps have won 25% of their races with an Impact Value of 2.28.

 

Kempton

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 72 388 18.6 1.85
Prominent (3) 107 938 11.4 1.14
Mid Division (2) 41 542 7.6 0.78
Held Up (1) 84 1123 7.5 0.75

 

The 6f trip at Kempton has a decent number of races each year giving punters plenty of opportunities to get involved. Front runners have a clear edge here and, as with Chelmsford, field size accentuates this.

In 6f handicaps of 11 or 12 runners (12 is the maximum at Kempton), front runners have secured 39 wins from 176 runners (SR 22.2%) with a very high Impact Value of 2.53. However, the draw data suggest there is no clear advantage to front runners drawn near to the inside rail (low).

 

Lingfield

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 68 297 22.9 2.07
Prominent (3) 76 590 12.9 1.16
Mid Division (2) 32 380 8.4 0.79
Held Up (1) 50 745 6.7 0.61

 

The statistics for Lingfield seem to suggest front runners there have the biggest edge compared with the other five UK all-weather courses. Any front runner here that is well fancied has done extremely well: horses that were either favourite or second favourite and led early over 6f here went on to win 39 times out of 80 runners equating to a win rate of nearly 50%.

 

Newcastle

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 23 143 16.1 1.74
Prominent (3) 34 394 8.6 0.94
Mid Division (2) 17 197 8.6 0.97
Held Up (1) 40 485 8.2 0.89

 

Coincidentally, the front running IV over 5f at Newcastle is also 1.74. Front runners do have an edge here but it is not a course I personally get heavily involved with, as the straight track for all distances up to a mile makes it a unique test of an all-weather horse in Britain. That greater emphasis on stamina produces the reverse to Kempton and Chelmsford, with front runners struggling in bigger fields.

 

Southwell

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 33 166 19.9 1.85
Prominent (3) 102 690 14.8 1.38
Mid Division (2) 7 124 5.6 0.57
Held Up (1) 17 491 3.5 0.32

 

A reasonable IV of 1.85 for front runners, but it is also worth noting that horses which come from midfield or off the pace really struggle here just like they do over 5f. One other area worth sharing with you is when a front runner also happens to be in the top 5 of the Geegeez speed ratings, it has won on 22 of 79 occasions (SR 27.9%) producing an IV of 2.50.

 

Wolverhampton

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 71 540 13.1 1.33
Prominent (3) 133 1274 10.4 1.06
Mid Division (2) 27 338 8.0 0.87
Held Up (1) 122 1371 8.9 0.9

 

Comfortably the poorest stats for front runners are at Wolverhampton, where there is a very small edge only and little to write home about. Indeed, pace seems to be far more balanced across the run styles at Wolves than at any of the other tracks.

*

Before I finish, in other articles I have used the various figures to create course and distance pace averages. I do this by adding up the pace scores of all the winners at each course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more ‘biased’ the course and distance is to horses that lead early or race close to the pace.

Here are the 6 furlong handicap C&D pace averages for the six aw courses:

 

Taking all the data into account, six furlong handicaps on the all weather do offer ‘pace’ punters a potential edge. It is, unsurprisingly perhaps, not as strong as over five furlongs, but still strong enough to give clued in bettors a good leg up on the opposition. All we need now is to find a fail-safe method to predict the front runner...

- Dave Renham