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Racing Insights, 12th June 2021

Last piece of the week from me and Saturday's free assistance comes in the guise of the excellent Trainer/Jockey combo report, whilst those looking for some free race cards can tuck into these...

  • 1.35 Sandown
  • 2.20 Hexham
  • 3.05 York
  • 3.55 Chester
  • 4.10 Limerick
  • 5.15 Limerick

And we're remaining at York for a small-field, competitive-looking Class 1 contest aka the 3.05 York, a 4-runner Listed contest for 4yo+ runners over 1m6f on good to firm ground. £22,684 is the prize on offer going to one of this quartet...

Only Red Verdon lacks a win from the last five UK races but he's the only course and distance winner here. All four raced in Class 1 company last time out, all bar Ranch Hand are previous winners here at York whilst Roberto Escobar is the only one yet to win at this trip. They've all raced in the last five weeks and bottom weight Makawee is best off at the weights based on (handicap marks) by 5 to 7lbs, whilst the Geegeez SR figures have Red Verdon shading it.

Ranch Hand is the highest rated here and carries top weight and comes here in great form. He signed off his 2020 Flat campaign by landing a 2m Listed contest at Newmarket back in September before a couple of efforts over hurdles (inc a Class 4 in over 2m1f) before bedding down for the winter.

Since returning in March, he has landed a pair of Class 2 2m races on the A/W (he's 4/4 on the A/W) then finished 6 lengths off the winner in a Group 3 race over an inadequate 1m4f before an excellent run next/last time out to finish second behind Lismore in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown (2m) 16 days ago. The trip should be fine, but the ground might be a bit quick and he's better on artificial surfaces but jockey Oisin Murphy is 9 from 43 (21.4% SR) here in Class 1 races at York over the last five seasons.

Red Verdon won a Listed race at Doncaster almost a year ago and followed that up by winning a French Group 2 race a month later, the latter under today's jockey, Frankie Dettori. Sadly that win at Longchamps was his last and he's now on a run of 11 defleats, admittedly mainly in better races than this and was well beaten back at Longchamps (Gr2) last time out less than three weeks ago.

I do like this horse, but he needs to bounce back now in a technically "easier" contest. The trip will suit him and he won a Gr 3 over course and distance here in July 2019, he won't mind the quicker ground and in Frankie Dettori he has a jockey who consistently wins more than 1 in 4 at Class 1.

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Roberto Escobarr is worst off at the weights and with just four runs under his belt, is clearly the least experienced here. In his defence he won here on his second outing (C5 Novice), before finishing a creditable sixth here in the Gr2 Great Voltigeur last August. He then wasn't seen for 262 days before returning in a 15 length defeat in Listed company at Ascot and now will need to come on for that run. He has the scope to improve, he's unexposed, has very few miles on the clock, but this will be the quickest ground he has encountered and he's never gone beyond 1.4f before.

Makawee is a 6yr old mare carrying bottom weight and is technically well in by up to half a stone. She has raced twice already this season, going down by a short head in Listed company and then by 3.5 lengths in a Gr 3 here over corse and distance last month. She's a consistent sort who has made the frame in 11 of 24 starts, but her issue (as already proved this season) is that she often tends to get close without winning and has only converted those 11 places into 4 wins. The trip will be fine but she has a poor record here at York and a worse one in decent races, winning just 1 of 17 higher than Class 4. Sure to give her best again, but it's not usually enough.

Relevant career stats in a nutshell...

For the draw stats, I've expanded the going to Good / Good to Firm and the field size to 3-5 runners to get a better sample size, but I'm not massively convinced about draw stats over 1m6f if I'm entirely honest. I'm of the school of thought that says you've plenty of time to combat a draw over such a trip and if there's only four of you running, how far adrift can you actually be drawn?

That said, some stalls have fared better than others, as you can see here...

Why stalls 2 and 3 have all the glory is unclear, but you can't argue with facts, I suppose (and that's me telling myself off!) and this is good news for Roberto Escobar & Red Verdon, whilst the pace stats based on the same parameters suggest being held up would be the best tactic...

We know how our horses have been drawn and we also know how they tend to run, because we log the running style of every horse in every race and here's how these four have raced in their last two outings...

When we look at our unique pace/draw heatmap...

...it unsurprisingly favours hold-up horses drawn mid to low, as it combines the pace stats with those wins from stalls 2 and 3. We can then overlay that running style graphic onto the heatmap to get the following prediction...

Summary

Makawee is the favourite at priced ranging from 6/4 to 9/4 and based on the weight being carried and the numbers on her form line, I can see why. Yet closer inspection has showed she doesn't win often enough, has a poor record at Class 3 or higher and has tried and failed at York many ties, so I can't be backing her at those odds.

Roberto Escobarr is worst off at the weights and has achieved the least so far. I'm not saying he won't go on to win Class 1 races, but I'm not sure it'll be this one. Up in trip on faster ground and with a tendency to go off quickly, I fear he'll do too much too soon and as 5/2 second fav offers little value to me.

In fact it's the outsiders of the field that interest me most and I'm taking the 9/2 Red Verdon to best the 3/1 Ranch Hand here.

Ranch Hand is in fine form, stays all day and has a course specialist on his back. If he handles the quicker ground, he should give a good account of himself, but I'm hoping that's as second fiddle to Red Verdon. He is admittedly on a long losing run, but generally runs in better company than this, he's a course and distance winner, he has won on good to firm, has a good draw and pace/draw make-up and will be ridden by the King of the Class 1 races, Frankie Dettori. 9/2 in a four-horse race has to be worth a quid or two, win lose or draw!

Racing Insights, 11th June 2021

Crossbar rattling today, as 6/1 shot Typhoon Ten was a runner-up for the second time in a fortnight. Overnight favourite Muscika drifted badly in the betting and was well beaten.

Attention now turns to Friday's racing, where the Horses for Courses report is the feature of the day and our free races are as follows...

  • 2.45 Sandown
  • 3.30 York
  • 4.25 Fairyhouse
  • 4.35 York
  • 6.50 Aintree
  • 8.30 Aintree

I have no qualifiers on my settings for the , so it's back to the free races I go and the best of the six is the earlier of the two at York. So today's race in focus will be a a 7-runner, Class 2, 3yo+ Fillies handicap over 6f on Good to Firm ground. It's worth £17,524 to the winner and here's the card and some associated stats for the 3.30 York...

All bar Mid Winster have at won at least one of their last five with Mejthaam being the only LTO winner and she now comes here for her handicap debut here but she steps up three classes. Brazen Belle also steps up three classes, whilst it's a two-grade rise for Shepherds Way, Noorban and Ballintoy Harbour, who is having her second crack at handicap racing today.

With Gale Force Maya dropping down from Class 2, only Mid Winster actually ran in this grade last time out! All seven have raced in the past month and the age spread is 3-5. The weight is much wider with a huge 25lbs separated top and bottom weights, partly due to the 8lb weight allowance for 3yr olds here. The Geegeez SR ratings suggest a tight contest with just 8pts separating the first four ranked.

Gale Force Maya shoulders top weight of 10-0 back in handicap company having been well beaten in a Listed race LTO. She recorded her highest winning mark of 85 in the run before that Listed race, but runs off 92 here. She's 4/8 on Gd to Fm, 5/13 at this trip and 4/14 under today's jockey, but has never won higher than Class 4 and I think she might just be too high in the weights here.

Mid Winster has a modest 3 from 22 record to date and last won almost 9 months and six races ago at Class 5 over 5f, but has been knocking on the door with some solid efforts this term (3424). She was beaten by a length and a half off this mark at this grade LTO, but is now up in trip. She'll be in the mix, but she's better at 5f.

Shepherds Way ran well on her seasonal reappearance at Thirsk at the the start of May, getting within two lengths of the winner despite being off the track for 199 days. She then toiled on softer ground at Carlisle next/last time out and a step up in trip and class probably puts paid to her chances here.

Noorban won on debut last August and was immediately pitched into the Gr2 Lowther Stakes on her second outing where she had a respectable mid-division finish, before two lesser efforts including finishing 6th of 13 on handicap debut off a mark of 84. She returned from 196 days off to finish 8th at Thirsk in early May, but has since won over 5f off a mark of 80 and was a runner-up LTO off today's mark of 84. She's up in both trip and class here, but is definitely in with a shout thanks to the age allowance.

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Ballintoy Harbour has hit the ground running with decent efforts in all four starts to date. She was only beaten by 2.75 lengths on debut before winning back to back Class 5 Novice contests either side of a 242-day break from mid-August to mid-April. She then stepped up in class to finish third on handicap debut, 1.75 lengths off the pace, at Redcar at the start of this month. She's clearly progressing nicely and runs off an unchanged mark here, but she's up two classes and tries 6f for the first time.

Mejthaam has got steadily better in four starts so far, finishing 10th, 4th, 2nd and then 1st all at Class 5 and all on the all-weather. An opening handicap mark of 80 isn't particularly onerous, but she's up in class considerably (+3) and has never raced on turf or a quick surface. She's unexposed, but might just need that first run on grass.

Brazen Belle is a modest Class 5 handicapper if truth be told, hence her mark in the mid-70's and despite a career-best performance to win off 71 at Wolverhampton two starts ago, her flat form is poor having made the frame just once in her last seven starts. She was beaten by 4.5 lengths off this mark last time even with the assistance of a jockey claiming 5lbs and up three classes here with no claim, she's destined to struggle, I'd have thought.

Based on the above, all seven have questions to answer, but with the exception of Brazen belle, I think that any one of them could land this based on the evidence (or lack of) above, so we need more clues.

Instant Expert...

That's the general career stats under today's conditions across all races in all codes and it's good to see five winners on this quicker ground. The top two on the card have tried and failed several times in this grade, but Gale Force Maya's five class 2 defeats include four placed finishes and she's good at this trip.

And now considering purely Flat handicap form...

...where if anything, Gale Force Maya looks even stronger.

Draw & Pace stats...

We don't really have enough workable data under the draw/pace tabs for my liking for this type of race, so I'm going to use the Query Tool as a point of reference here, based on the following parameters...

Using those gives me a bigger sample sample to work with and here are the draw and pace stats from such races...

We've still, admittedly, only seven races to work from, but all the winners came from stall 2 or higher and the place stats would re-affirm that stall 1 isn't the best place to be. Stalls 2 & 3 are the best of the low draws, whilst out wide in 7 could be useful too. As for pace, it pays to lead if you want to win, but those tucking in behind the leaders tend not to fare too well. So, when I look at pace and draw together, I think I'm going to want stalls 2,3 and 8 wanting to lead or be held up and this is how this bunch have raced in recent times...

Brazen Belle is an out and out leader, but tends to not only get caught bit fails to even make the frame. Ballintoy Harbour and Gale Force Maya look like the ones most likely to take her on for the lead and whilst the latter isn't drawn well in box 1, Shepherd Way will be held up so GFM could drift off the rail into the vacated space alongside Brazen Belle. Ballintoy Harbour might end up doing too much if she approaches it like her usual 5f before being asked to go further.

The bottom three in the draw will look to sit off the pace and that hasn't always worked out here at York and probably wouldn't be a bad thing if Mid Winster made an effort to go after the leaders here on the quicker ground.

Summary

It's an interestingly tight-looking contest with no standout performer to hang my hat on, but I'd initially spilt the field and say I'm less keen on Shepherds Way (too much to do an up in trip/class), Mejthaam (big class rise and 1st time on turf) and Brazen Belle who I just don't think is good enough.

That leaves me with four and they still all have questions to answer....

Ballintoy Harbour is up two classes and tackled 6f for the first time.
Gale Force Maya isn't ideally drawn and probably carries too much weight.
Mid Winster hasn't won for a good while, has a poor Class 2 record, hasn't won on ground this quick and is better over 5f.
Noorban is up in both trip and class and a mid-div pozzy won't help.

To be honest, any of the four could win and they could come home in any order, but I'm leaning towards Gale Force Maya and Noorban as my two against the field at odds of 5/1 and 9/2 respectively. Those prices might well offer us a bit of value, but if you are playing this race, I'd advise caution on staking and just use your loose change here.

If anything, the sensible advice is to just put your money, your feet up and watch the race with the beverage of your choice, but who likes being sensible?

Racing Insights, 14th May 2021

So, our 1-2-3 from Thursday's race finished NR-1-2 and despite not getting rich off a 6/4 winner (was 9/4 last night) and an 11/2 (10/1 overnight) runner-up combining for a forecast that paid almost 17/2, it was good to see that the Geegeez Gold racecard tools are applicable at the top levels of racing, plus I'm a couple of quid better off, which is never a bad thing!

Now, to Friday...the feature of the day is the Horses for Courses report, which does exactly what you think it would and our full, free-to-all daily races are...

  • 2.10 York
  • 2.50 Newmarket
  • 4.40 Kilbeggan
  • 5.20 Aintree
  • 6.10 Hamilton
  • 6.50 Kilbeggan

Once again the first on the list is the best of the bunch and seeing as my fairly stringent Horses for Courses criteria have produced no qualifiers, I'm going to turn my attentions to the Knavesmire for a third successive day to tackle the 2.10 York, the 8-runner, Oaks Farm Stables Fillies Stakes. This is a three year olds' Listed race registered as the Michael Seely Memorial and will be run over a mile on expected Good ground.

Snow Lantern is likely to be a short favourite for the £22,684 first prize but let's take a look for ourselves at the runners and riders...

The Geegeez ratings have Snow Lantern just behind Creative Flair at the head of the figures for a race where all eight have won at least once in their last three races. The top two in those SR ratings are the the two LTO winners and five of these ran at Class 1 last time out with Kestenna up 1 class, Creative Flair making two steps up and Snow Lantern moves from Class 4.

Only Shine For You is without a run inside the last six week and she now returns from a 31-week break. None of the eight have won here at York before, but half of them (Love Is You, Creative Flair, Kestenna & Snow Lantern) have won at this trip. Charlie Appleby and Richard Hannon are both double-handed here in a race the latter won in 2014 and that only one other trainer represented here has won in the last 15 runnings : Sir Michael Stoute who won this race in 2005 & 2013.

That's the intro/background to the race done, now let's look at the runners individually, starting with...

Love Is You, who is on her second run back after returning from a 6-month absence to finish 3rd of 10 at Newmarket (Rowley) in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes on April 14th over 7f, where she was 2.25 lengths behind Sacred and just 1.5 lengths behind Saffron Beach who has since been the runner-up in the 1,000 Guineas over a mile. A repeat of that run LTO puts her right in the mix here, having already won a Listed race back in October.

Creative Flair was only sixth of ten on debut in a Class 5 novice contest over 7f back in July, but is two from two since, the latest being a 1.5 length success over this trip (Class 3) at Ascot just over a fortnight ago, despite not having raced for 249 days. She's very well bred and is entitled to improve for having had that run and she looks the pick of the Appleby pair.

Divine Light is the other Appleby runner here and this filly by Kingman (as is Love Is You) makes just her third start. She only ran once as a 2 yr old, winning a soft ground Class 3 maiden over 7f at Newmarket before returning to the same track six months later in a creditable 5-length defeat in the Nell Gwyn. That run puts her behind Love Is You and it has to be said that the form from her debut win hasn't really worked out either with the 10 runners having a combined 0 wins and 0 places from 23 subsequent outings, including 15 runs at Classes 5/6.

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Kestenna probably isn't as good as her career form line of 2112 might suggest. Her first three outings were all Class 5 novice contests over 8/8.5 furlongs and although she won the last of them by some nine lengths, she struggled at Class 2 last time out, failing to win a 3-horse race, despite being the 4/11 favourite. Hard to find many positives for her on her Turf debut, other than the looming presence of Class 1 specialist Frankie Dettori in the saddle, but I don't see him landing this.

Primo Bacio has got steadily better with each run so far and came back from a 4-month break to finish 4th of 17 in the Group 3 Fred Darling over 7f at Newbury almost four weeks ago at 100/1, going down by less than 2.5 lengths. Two of the runners further back that day have won Listed races since, but the three who beat her have all subsequently been beaten, so mixed messages on the form front. She's certainly got the breeding for a mile, but hasn't tackled the trip yet and she might find this tough.

Shine for You looks like the Hannon second stringer here and she hasn't been seen for 31 weeks since a very creditable third place in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp at Newmarket back in October. She was 1.75 lengths behind eventual 1,000 Guineas runner-up Saffron Beach that day and a similar run puts her close the standard set by Love Is You recently, but tackling 7f for the first time and coming off such a long lay-off, I don't fancy her chances.

Snow Lantern is out of quadruple-Class 1 winner (inc the 2013 1,000 Guineas) Sky Lantern by Frankel (whose pedigree needs no explanation) and the breeding alone is probably driving the odds right down. The filly, herself, only ran once as a 2 yr old, and was a 1.25 length runner-up in a 7f, Class 5 Novice contest at Ascot behind another Frankel filly, Zabeel Queen who has ran well in a couple of Class 1 races since. Snow Lantern was then back in the shed for 267 days before winning a Class 4 maiden over a mile at Newbury almost four weeks ago. This is a big step up in class, but her breeding is excellent.

Ville de Grace also returned from a long break to run at that Newbury meeting 26 days ago but she actually ran in a far better race than Snow Lantern and was less than 2.5 lengths off the leader in the Group 3 Fred Darling, just a nose behind the re-opposing Primo Bacio, despite having a car park draw in 17 of 17. Another run like that puts her right in the mix here in what is on paper, at least, a slightly easier task, but that last run was her first step up to 7f and now she's tackling a mile, so that tempers the enthusiasm a little.

Some good recent performances there, for sure, but not all will have run/won on good ground or at this class or here at York or over a mile or in a field of this kind of size. For that lowdown, you need Instant Expert on your side...

Only two of them (Love Is You & Snow Lantern) have made the frame on good ground so far with the latter the only winner, whilst the former is the only Class 1 winner on Turf, although Shine For You has been placed. None of the field have been to York before and the three to have tackled a mile in the past all won over the trip.

There seems to be a fairly definitive draw bias over this trip in 7-9 runner contests as demonstrated below, where a low draw is most beneficial, which is great news for the favourite, Love Is You and Creative Flair...

And that benefit of a low draw is well highlighted by the results from each individual stall...

And whilst I'm aware that's only based on eight races, it's hard to ignore the fact that 75% of the winners and 50% of the placers came from stalls 1-3. Now, once you've bagged a plum draw, you've still got to make the best of it and what we've found is that it's probably not the best to hare off, grab the lead and try to hold on. Leaders haven't fared well, whilst those racing prominently seem to have picked them off late on...

That said, it's still far better to lead than to drop further behind, but prominent racers do have 75% of the wins and 50% of the places, so imagine if you've a draw in stalls 1-3 and you like to race prominently?

Well, you'd be quids in, wouldn't you? Failing that, blasting off from a high draw is the next best option.

As well as knowing the draw, what race tactics work best and how those two intertwine, we also have an inkling of how these horses might approach the race too, because we log every race and here's how this octet have ran before...

...where 4 = led and 1 = held up. The average is, of course the average of the horse's runs and the Pc% is the horse's average divided by the sum of all 8 averages to give the pace percentage for the horse, so Creative Flair is expected to provide almost a fifth of it here.

We can then overlay those running styles onto the pace/draw heatmap, sort them into draw order and take what is effectively an overhead snapshot of how we think they might break out...

And there doesn't seem to be much pace around at all, aside from Creative Flair. There's a good chance she's going to try and nick this from the front with three or four hoping to pounce late on. Interestingly, the other two best-drawn horses look like they're going to have to come from well off the pace.

Creative Flair's heatmap isn't ideal, but someone has to lead them out or it becomes a slow tactical affair that would play into the hands of the finishers like Snow Lantern and Love Is You and as such Creative Flair's best chance might be to just go for it.

Summary

There's no doubting that Snow Lantern is an exciting proposition based on breeding, but I like proof and she's inexperienced and up considerably in class. She should be the best of these, but this might just come too soon for her. Either way, I can't back her at a generally available 6/4 with those doubts in my mind.

That, of course, doesn't mean she can't/won't win, but I'd be more inclined to have a pop at Creative Flair at 7/1. I think that's a big price as to whether she can get out, stay out and hold on. She might not win, but I expect us to get a good run for our money at decent odds. I'm confident she hangs on to a place in the first three home with Snow Lantern.

So who else makes the frame? In all probability, the answer (boringly) is 7/2 second favourite Love Is You, based on that Nell Gwyn run, but if the 7/1 about Creative Flair isn't long enough and you wanted a bit of a punt, Ville de Grace is available at 12/1!

Racing Insights, 13th May 2021

Well, I got some of the Musidora right. I advised against the overnight favourite Teona and said that Noon Star would be second best and that Snowfall (who eventually won) was very interesting at 14/1. If only Mystery Angel had fared a little better, but I'm happy with the 14/1 e/w about the winner and now to Thursday...

Feature of the day is full access for all users to the Instant Expert tab on every race including, of course, our free races of the day, which will be...

  • 2.10 York
  • 3.25 Salisbury
  • 4.35 Clonmel
  • 5.10 Clonmel
  • 5.30 Newmarket
  • 8.10 Fontwell

Again, like Wednesday, the York race is the best of the bunch and is another small-field, Class 1 fillies' contest that would appear on paper to be a 2 (possibly 3) horse race, but coukld there be a big priced runner waiting to steal the glory like Snowfall did in the Musidora?

To find out, I'll run through the 2.10 York, officially known as the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies Stakes, which is a Group 2 contest over the same 1m2½f as the Musidora and now on Good To Soft ground. Six 4yo+ females are set to line up for a crack at a prize worth £56,710 and here they are...

The early show at the bookies says that Queen Power at 9/4 is marginally favoured over Passion at 5/2, but only the latter makes the Geegeez ratings' top three with first place going to current 4/1 third favourite Silence Please. The rest of the field range from 15/2 to 12/1.

Only the fav Queen Power is winless in her last five outings, whilst both Chamade and Cabaleta have won twice in that period. The fav has at least had the benefit of a run already this season, as has Freyja, whilst the other four are coming back from six to eight month breaks. As it's a non-handicap, they all carry the same weight, so Passion is technically best off at the weights, as she's rated 111, some 11lbs better than Chamade.

Cabaleta has lost her last three outings since winning a Listed contest over 1m4f at Newbury ten months ago and was fairly comprehensively beaten last time out on Champions' Day some 220 days ago. I'd say she was one of the weaker options here, although she might benefit from the drop in trip and easier ground than those two soft ground losses.

Chamade has improved steadily since closing her 2019 campaign with a 7f win at Newmarket. She was beaten by 7.5 lengths over 1m2f in a Group 3 upon returning from almost eight months off and then went down by 5.5 lengths in a Listed race. Since then she has won over 1m2f at Class 2 and over this trip at Doncaster last time out in a Listed race. This is obviously tougher and she hasn't been seen for six months, but if things go her way, she could get involved at a nice price.

Freyja had a six-week purple patch last September/October where she finished 1311 progressively stepping up in quality from Class 4 to 3 to 2 and landing a Listed race over 1m2f on heavy ground at HQ on Halloween. She was only beaten by a neck in another listed race over today's trip on her seasonal bow last month, but was ran out of it in a Group 2 at Newmarket 11 days ago and she'll need to bounce back, although I suspect getting away from Good to Firm ground will be helpful.

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Passion was kept pretty active last season, racing seven times, the highlights of which were a Group 3 win over 1m6f on soft ground at Naas three starts ago and she ran really well to finish third in a 1m2f, Group 1 race on Champions Day at Ascot in October. She had no chance with the winner, Wonderful Tonight, but she stayed on well from a mid-division spot. Only the seventh placed horse from that race has been seen since and although 8 lengths behind Passion at Ascot, has since come within half a length of landing a Group 3 race. My only issue here is the drop in trip.

Queen Power showed little ill-effect from a 262-day layoff when going down by just a head in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket 11 days ago, but that was over 1m1f and on quicker ground than here. She didn't make the frame on her sole run on ground softer than good, but her overall record in this grade is excellent despite not winning any of four Group 2 races, she has finished 4232 and is expected to be there again.

Silence Please won each of her first three outings, culminating in landing a 1m2f Listed race at Navan last June. Since then she was third in another Listed race and a Group 2 runner-up, both in Ireland either side of an excellent run in the Group 1 German Oaks last August, where she was only beaten by two lengths. She hasn't raced for 243 days, but that Listed success at Navan came after 283 days off track. She'll get the trip readily enough, I'm just not sure about the going.

This looks like a really good contest here, where the lack of runners looks to have been compensated by the competitive line-up. Quality not quantity, hopefully! All are decent runners in their own rights, but who's best suited to today's conditions?

Feature of the day, Instant Expert, is the quickest way of looking how they've ran in similar circumstances from both a place & win perspective...

Good to Soft ground is a new experience for many of them, as most have either ran on quicker or slower ground in the past. The second half of the racecard looks stringer than the top half from a Class 1 placing angle, whilst Queen Power certainly gets the trip, making the frame in three of five attempts. It's still a little too early to stick my neck out, but the lower half does look stronger and that would back up the early markets.

In similar 5-7 runner contests here, it has been beneficial to be in the lower half of the draw, so that's good news for Queen Power, Chamade & Freyja...

...whilst such contests have favoured those who either led or were held-up for a run. Those caught between two stools have tended to suffer/struggle...

...and this would be good news for the top half of the racecard, which is in direct opposition to form, making this a possibly very intriguing contest. So, we now know Chamade, for example, is drawn low and likes to lead and both traits have been deemed to be good for winning such races, but do they work well together? Let's consult the pace/draw heat map...

Well, yes, it does, as you'd expect, but a little surprisingly not quite as well as if she raced a little or much further back. Mid-division is a definite no-no here. To show how he race might pan out, we'll overlay the past running styles of our six runners onto that heatmap and sort the field by draw order as follows...

The pace is definitely going to come from the middle, where Freyja looks to have the best of it. Cabaletta's best chance would be to hang on and come late, hopefully after the front two have burnt each other out, whilst Queen Power seems to have the best pace/draw make-up of the three shorter priced horses.

Summary

Do I agree with the bookies? I probably do, sadly.

Will it be easy for the market leaders? Probably not.

So, who wins? Well, based on the above, you can make a case for most, if not all of them. My interpretation of what I've put probably has Queen Power shading it over passion, but I think I want them the other way around. The step up in trip and the softer conditions underfoot are slight negatives about Queen Power, so I'm siding with Passion at a non-life changing 5/2.

Those wanting a bigger price tilt at the favs could consider Chamade at 10/1. She'd be lower in the market, but for how short the 2 favs are and I think she's batter than 10's in a 6-horse race. She's going to try and win it from the front and if things fall her way, she could hold on for a place at least, if not better.

 

 

Racing Insights, 12th May 2021

The week is going OK so far, Monday's pick drifted from 4/1 to 22/1 and was beaten, but my alternate won the race, whilst Tuesday's pick was a 7/2 winner. I'll be hoping the run continues on Wednesday, where we're all aided by full free access to the Trainer Stats report as well as the following 'races of the day'...

  • 3.10 York
  • 5.10 Perth
  • 5.50 Bath
  • 6.50 Bath
  • 7.30 Dundalk

The first of that list is clearly the "best" of the five, so today's focus is on the 3.10 York, which is the 8-runner Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (3yo Fillies, Group 3) over 1m2½f on Good (softer in places) ground worth £42,532. The bookies suggest it's a two-horse race at fairly restrictive odds, but they might not be right and even if they are with eight set to run, there could be a decent priced E/W bet to be had.

We'll never know unless we take a look, so here's the card...

Only two of these (Mystery Angel & Snowfall) ran at Class 1 last time out and the others are all stepping up two, three or even four grades to run here. All eight have at least one win in their last five outings and three have won over this trip in the past, namely Mystery Angel, Noon Star and Teona.

Auria has just three runs to her name, but has been in the frame on each occasion, winning once in a Class 5 novice event over a mile on the A/W at Kempton in November. She ran creditably in a 1.5 length defeat at Ascot last month on her return from a 168-day absence, but she's up two classes and 2½f here and you've got to fancy others more.

Glenartney is likely to be one of the outsiders here today, making just her third career start and not having run since the end of October. She's up in trip considerably (+3.5f) and moves up from Class 4, but to her credit, she did win that C4 Novice race at Newmarket last time out. The rain won't bother her, as that win came on heavy ground, but this is a tough race for her after a lay-off.

Mystery Angel is the most experienced runner in the race, having made eight prior appearances, winning three times and placing in three others. Since finishing fourth of seven on debut in August, she has never been out of the first three home and has finished 3221 in four Class 1 contests, culminating in a win over 1m2f in the Listed Betfair Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket 10 days ago. Her yard is 4 from 12 over the last fortnight and has a 36.8% strike rate with LTO winners over the last two years.

Noon Star was third of eleven in a Class 2 maiden last September and is two from two since. Her latest run came just seventeen days ago when 2.5 lengths clear over 1m2f at Ascot despite not having raced for over six months. She's very well bred, but this is a much tougher contest than the Class 5 race she won last time out, although the fourth placed runner that day has since won a Listed race and Noon Star is best off at the weights here based on official ratings.

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Quiet Assassin won a Class 5 Novice event at Beverley on debut last August but hasn't kicked on from there, finishing 7th, 7th and 6th in her three other 2020 outings. She returned to action four weeks ago after six months off and was last home of seven beaten by more than 17 lengths in a 1m Class 3 handicap and she's hard to fancy here based on her form.

Senita quite possibly needed the run when last of seven at Newbury four weeks ago over 1m2f (Class 3) after a six month absence, as she had ran well in all three starts as a 2yo, finishing 221 over 7f and 1m and only beaten by 1.5 lengths each time. Again this is a big step up in trip and class and as such, I'd suggest mid-division would be the best she could hope for.

Snowfall is certainly used to this standard (or better) of racing, as her last four outings have been at Gr3, Gr2 and Gr1 for her last two. Sadly, she has failed to make the frame in any of the four, losing her last three by an average of around 11 lengths since going down by 5 lengths at this grade at Leopardstown last August. She wouldn't be an obvious pick for me as a winner, but her experience of Class 1 racing might well carry her to a position where she has a say in the final proceedings, if she stays the trip.

Teona is the likely short-priced favourite today and she comes here off the back of two decent runs. She was only beaten by a length on debut on the A/W at Newcastle over a mile in October, before stepping up two furlongs at the same track three weeks later to win a Class 4 maiden by nine lengths. She's entitled to improve, of course, but I'm concerned about how short she is considering she's up from Class 4, hasn't raced for almost six months and hasn't run on turf yet, but if fit enough and handling the ground would be a major player here.

That gives s a quick overview of the octet's short careers so far, but in respect of the contest ahead, we can screw down into the more relevant data via Instant Expert...

And whilst I wouldn't necessarily write any of them off based on those graphics, especially those with no relevant runs, those who have run under these conditions and have been successful will always catch the eye, as they're not being asked to do something new! The field size column is the one I pay least attention to here, as that only really concerns me in very small or large fields, whilst going, class and distance all point towards the runners in stalls 1 and 2, Mystery Angel and Noon Star.

Whether they've got good draws or not, though, remains to be seen, so let's do that now...

...and yes, stalls 1 and 2 aren't bad places to be at all, but there doesn't look to be a bad draw, notwithstanding the poor result from stall 6. I generally disregard such numbers, because they're more anomalous than they are reliable. After all, stall 6 has produced more placers than stall 5, they've just not gone on to win often enough.

So, if we're not saying that any of the field are particularly disadvantaged by the draw, we should see if there's any advantage offered to any racing style...

...and the answer to that question is that leaders win far more often than par and also more often than the other three running styles. Prominent racers make the frame most often, though, whilst mid-division looks like the place to avoid.

And with the above data in mind, it's not too surprising to see that low or mid-drawn leaders fare best, whilst mid to high draws struggle in mid-division....

And if we look at our field's recent outings and overlay them onto that heatmap...

...the suggestion is that two afore-mentioned low draw runners, Mystery Angel and Noon Star might well make the running here, although Quiet Assassin did set the pace in her penultimate start. There is also a possibility that some of those who race further back might find themselves with too much to do late on now stepping up in class and trip.

Summary

On Tuesday, one name kept cropping up and Poet's Dawn did indeed go on to win. For Wednesday's race, we've got two who have consistently ticked boxes throughout the process, Mystery Angel and Noon Star. I know the bookies don't/won't agree with me, but I'm having them in that order as I think the former's experience/success at this level shades it, so it's 13/2 about Mystery Angel for me here.

As for favourite Teona, she's not for me at sub-2/1, I'm afraid and if I was to throw another into the mix for a decent priced speculative E/W shot, then Snowfall certainly knows what level she needs to get to. Whether she can get there is debatable, but 14/1 is a nice price to debate!

Stat of the Day, 22nd August 2020

Friday's pick was...

2.45 York : Yazaman @ 9/2 BOG 6th at 3/1 (Tracked leaders, ridden 2f out, weakened inside final furlong) 

Saturday's pick runs in the...

4.10 York :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

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Ben Macdui @ 3/1 BOG

...in the 10-runner, Listed, Julia Graves Roses Stakes for 2yo over 5f on Good ground worth £17,013 to the winner...

Why?...

As is often the case, the race card is our starting point...

...as it shows a 2 yr old with 2 good results (bt by 0.75L at Gr 3 LTO) and a trainer/jockey partnership to keep the right side of. You can see this for yourself, so I won't labour those points, other than to remind you that A/E & IV numbers the further North of 1.00 you can get, the better! This is explained in more detail in our excellent user guide within My Geegeez.

So, what supporting evidence to the pick can I tell you that you might not already know?

Well, we could look at why trainer Kevin Ryan is a featured trainer in another of my unimaginatively-named microsystems (LateSeas2yo), which as you've probably guessed is centred around a group of trainers who do well towards the back end of the season with their "babies". I like to keep my angles' names simple.

To this end, I like to focus on the following : Kevin Ryan + 2yo + Flat + 5f-1m + 11-45 dslr + July-September, which since the 1st July 2016 has produced 57 winners from 220 (25.9% SR) and 180.26pts (+81.9% ROI) of level stakes profit at an A/E of 1.38 and these include of some relevance today...

  • 55/174 (31.6%) for 194.81pts (+112%) in races worth less than £20,000
  • 48/141 (34%) for 209.46pts (+148.6%) in fields of no more than 10 runners
  • 46/100 (46%) for 64.43pts (+64.4%) at odds of 5/1 or shorter
  • 46/171 (26.9%) for 120.24pts (+70.3%) in non-handicaps
  • 39/138 (28.3%) for 129pts (+93.5%) at 11-25 dslr
  • 31/104 (29.8%) for 56.39pts (+54.2%) were placed LTO
  • 20/59 (33.9%) for 120.48pts (+204.2%) with Kevin Stott in the saddle
  • 15/44 (34.1%) for 0.62pts (+1.41%) with LTO runners-up
  • and 9/37 (24.3%) for 26.88pts (+72.7%) here at York

I know that many of you like me to then combine some of the above into a composite angle, but this does dilute the sample size, of course.

However, if we just focus on the first three pieces of data, we find that those sent off at 5/1 or shorter in fields of 10 or fewer runners in races worth less than £20k are 38 from 80 (47.5% SR) for 49.06pts (+61.3% ROI) profit, with Kevin Stott riding 15 winners from 27 (55.6%) for 29.14pts (+107.9%)...

...pointing us towards... a 1pt win bet on Ben Macdui @ 3/1 BOG as was available at 8.05am Saturday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 4.10 York

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 21st August 2020

Thursday's pick was...

4.20 York : Mark of the Man @ 6/1 BOG 6th at 6/1 (Held up in mid-division, not clear run and switched sharply left inside final 2f, 6th and one pace towards finish) 

Friday's pick runs in the...

2.45 York :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

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Yazaman @ 9/2 BOG

...in the 10-runner, Group 2, Gimcrack Stakes for 2yo over 6f on Good to Soft ground worth £56,710 to the winner...

Why?...

We start with the racecard...

...that shows a horse running well, for a yard in good recent form and one that has done well at York over the years. Our runner is well placed on the Geegeez SR ratings and I'd say a low draw would be be advantageous today.

Our 2yr old colt has been a runner-up in back to back Gr2 efforts this summer so far and will aim to go one better here and I'd hope/expect that his experiences at this level will stand him in good stead, but it's the trainer's record that I'm basing the bet upon today.

If you click the trainer form button below the horse's name (I've highlighted it in red), you'll see how William Haggas has performed in the last 30 days and also here at York in the last 1 and 5 years, as highlighted by 30, C1 and C5, so I won't insult your intelligence by running you through those numbers, but I will add that...

...here at the Ebor meeting since 2015, William Haggas' runners sent off at odds ranging from 7/4 to 4/1 (where we'll surely end up today) are 8 from 16 (50% SR) for 16.2pts (+101.2% ROI) at an A/E of 1.89 and whilst this is a small-ish sample size, it does include a surprisingly large number of relevant angles at play in today's contest, such as...

  • 7/10 (70%) for 18.06pts (+180.6%) in non-handicaps
  • 7/10 (70%) for 17.6pts (+176%) at 20-45 dslr
  • 6/10 (60%) for 14.75pts (+147.5%) in fields of 7-13 runners
  • 6/9 (66.6%) for 15.97pts (+177.5%) with male runners
  • 5/8 (62.5%) for 13.85pts (+173.2%) at Class 1
  • 5/8 (62.5%) for 12.51pts (+156.4%) with 2 yr olds
  • 4/5 (80%) for 12.58pts (+251.5%) on Good to Soft ground
  • 3/5 (60%) for 8.52pts (+170.3%) at Gr 2
  • 3/5 (60%) for 7.22pts (+144.5%) over this 6f C&D
  • and 3/3 (100%) for 7.81pts (+260.3%) with LTO runners-up

...pointing towards... a 1pt win bet on Yazaman @ 9/2 BOG as was available at 8.10am Friday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 2.45 York

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 20th August 2020

Wednesday's pick was...

5.20 Stratford : Mon Palois @ 4/1 BOG (2.8/1 after R4) WON at 13/8 (Jumped left but well, made all, 3 lengths ahead when left well clear at the last, eventually winning by 85 lengths) 

Thursday's pick runs in the...

4.20 York :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

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Who?

Mark of the Man @ 6/1 BOG

...in an 11-runner, Class 2, Nursery Handicap for 2yo over 7f on Good to Soft ground worth £18,675 to the winner... 

Why?...

Well, briefly, we have an in-form horse running at a meeting his trainer does well at and who also has a good record with LTO winners racing under familiar circumstances.

Enough for you? I though not, so let me add some meat to those bare bones, starting with the runner himself. A 2 yr old (obviously) colt who comes here on a hat-trick and was last seen winning a similar Class 2, 7 furlong, 12-runner Nursery at Goodwood three weeks ago, where he stayed on well to win by two lengths taking his record to...

  • 2 from 3 over 7f
  • 2 from 3 with Sean Levey on his back
  • 2 from 2 on turf
  • 2 from 2 at 13-30 dslr
  • 1 from 1 in handicaps

His trainer Richard Hannon has enjoyed recent success at the Ebor meeting with his sub-8/1 runners winning 6 of 16 (37.5% SR) contests over the last four festivals returning level stakes profits of 22.88pts at an ROI of 143%, including...

  • 6/13 (46.2%) for 25.88pts (+199.1%) with 2 yr olds
  • 6/13 (46.2%) for 25.88pts (+199.1%) in fields of 10+ runners
  • 5/9 (55.6%) for 22.25pts (+247.2%) at 16-45 dslr
  • 4/11 (36.4%) for 18.06pts (+164.2%) at Class 2
  • 2/3 (66.6%) for 13.42pts (+447.4%) with Sean Levey in the saddle
  • and 2 from 3 (66.6%) for 4.8pts (+160%) last year alone

And more generally with all his sub-8/1 runners since 2016, Mr Hannon's horses who were LTO winners at the same class/trip are 21 from 57 (36.8% SR) for 40.45pts (+71% ROI) when sent back out within 25 days of that last run/win including of relevance today...

  • 19/50 (38%) for 35.75pts (+71.5%) in races worth less than £20k
  • 18/45 (40%) for 43.75pts (+97.2%) on the Flat
  • 15/34 (44.1%) for 41.25pts (+121.3%) during June to August
  • 12/40 (30%) for 14.89pts (+37.2%) in handicaps
  • 9/18 (50%) for 30pts (+166.6%) with 2 yr olds
  • 5/12 (41.7%) for 22.5pts (+187.5%) for Sean Levey
  • and 3/7 (42.9%) for 10.56pts (+150.9%) in Nurseries

...whilst on the Flat during June-August in sub-£20k races, they are 11 from 25 (44% SR) for 34.48pts (+137.9% ROI) and these include from above...

  • 5/16 (31.25%) in hcps
  • 5/6 (83.3%) with 2 yo's
  • 4/7 (57.1%) for Sean Levey
  • and 2/2 in Nurseries

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Mark of the Man @ 6/1 BOG (or bigger) as was available at 8.20am Thursday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 4.20 York

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Dave Renham: York Draw & Pace

In my most recent article I combined my draw bias roots with a more recently acquired interest in pace / running styles to overview their collective impact at Pontefract, writes Dave Renham. This time I am going to look at another northern racecourse, York.

A picturesque Grade 1 track, York stands in the south west of the city on the Knavesmire. The racecourse is around two miles in length in the shape of what resembles a 'U', and it has a long run-in of nearly five furlongs. Over the sprint distances of five and six furlongs they race on a straight course; the seven-furlong distance starts from a ‘spur’ or chute and they do race around the tangent of the home bend; from a mile upwards they race on the round course. The 1m 6f distance starts with a two-furlong chute at the end of the back straight before they join the main course.

York has always been considered to be a fair track and when I was studying draw bias ‘24/7’ back in the late 1990's and early 2000's the mile trip offered a decent low bias but, other than that, there was little to report. The sprint trips in those days looked very even with little difference from wing to wing. However, I have noticed more recently that a sprint draw bias may have started to appear so I am hoping the stats back that perception up.

York Racecourse map

For this article, as with the Pontefract one, I am using tools available on this site, namely the Draw Analyser, Pace Analyser and the Query Tool. The initial period of study is a long one, going back to 2009, but I will examine more recent data (2015 to 2019) in detail, too, where appropriate. I will also check other variables including ground conditions and will focus once again on eight-plus runner handicaps only.

From a draw perspective, when analysing each handicap race, I divide the draw into three sections (low, middle, high). This how the Geegeez Draw Analyser does it and has always been my favoured method, too. In this way, a ten-runner race has three low stalls, four middle stalls and three high stalls; an eleven-runner race has four low, three middle and four high; twelve-runner races have four low, four middle, four high; and so on.

It should also be noted that I also adjust the draw positions when there are non-runners. For example, if the horse drawn 6 is a non-runner, then the horse drawn 7 becomes drawn 6, draw 8 becomes 7, and so on.

The differences in the percentages will help to determine the strength of the bias and, given a level playing field, one would expect the win percentages to be around 33% for each third. The more races in a sample the better: that may sound obvious, but with any data set, especially the type of small ones in which racing must habitually deal, there is an element of randomness.

Finally, in terms of framing what follows, I will reference A/E and IV stats throughout. More information on these can be found here.

Right, let’s crack on with the 5f data.

York 5 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps)

Since 2009, the period under review, there have been 105 qualifying eight-plus runner five-furlong handicap races. I have also included races over 5 1/2 furlongs of which there of which there were 21. Here are the overall draw splits: 

These figures suggest a modest low draw bias over the longer term. The A/E values below back up this theory from a betting perspective:

For the record, if you had bet every horse from the bottom third of the draw at £1 per bet you would have roughly broken even – a loss to SP of 50 pence over 523 bets to be precise! [And, though it's not the main measure in this article, blindly backing those in the bottom quarter of the draw would have netted a £55.50 profit at SP!

Time to look at each individual draw position broken down:

Draws 2, 4 and 5 have made a profit to SP and all have A/E values above 1.00 again indicating a low draw edge. It is time to look at some more recent data; for this I will focus on the last five seasons (2015-2019). Here are the win percentages for each third over this more recent time span:

It is clear from these percentages that the low draw bias has strengthened in the last five years. These are the individual stall values:

Once again draws 2, 4 and 5 have proved to be profitable and if we combine the results of draws 1 to 5 they produce a positive overall A/E value of 1.09; compare this to draws 12 and above that combine for an A/E value of only 0.43. Low draws definitely have been in the ascendancy since 2015, although it should be said that the microcosm of 2019 was more even in terms of the draw.

It is unclear, having dug deeper, whether the going has any great significance. I cannot find a strong enough pattern to elaborate on and I don’t wish to further extend the article with relatively worthless stats as it is quite comprehensive as it is. Likewise the bias is consistent in terms of field size – low draws have had a similar edge in smaller fields of 8 to 10 as they have in bigger fields stretching across the track of, say, 17 runners or more.

Let us now look at pace and running styles. Here are the overall figures (2009-19) by early run style:

There is a clear edge for front runners here, a pace bias that seems marginally stronger on ground conditions of good or firmer. Looking only at big field (16+ runners) 5f handicaps, the IVs suggest a decent strengthening of the front running bias and a commensurately tougher time for hold up horses:

 

Now a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in these 5f races:

For a straight course to see a single third of the draw (low) with an early leader figure of over 50% is unusual. Only Sandown over the straight 5f sees similar stats – the average % for all straight courses for low drawn runners taking the early lead is around 36%.

This 'early leader' by course table illustrates the point. (Note that a race can have more than one 'leader' where two or more horses contest closely).

You would expect 5f races around run a bend to have high figures like this for the bottom third leading early, as lower drawn runners should find it easier to get to the inside rail. But on the straight track at York, I cannot really explain the figures. Any suggestions welcome!

York 5f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

A low draw, ideally coupled with good early pace, or at least the ability to hold a position early, looks extremely important.

*

York 6 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps)

There have been 112 qualifying six-furlong races going back to 2009. Here are the overall draw splits: 

The ten-year picture shows a very even split which does not correlate with the 5f stats, both distances being run on the same straight piste.

The A/E values are what one would expect given the win percentages, with no-brainer profit angles conspicuous by their absence:

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A look again at individual draw positions and how they have fared over this time frame:

This table is a good example of how random draw data can actually be, and how individual draw positions often show this randomness. Stall 3 is a complete outlier with 15 wins and a £93 profit; in the context of neighbouring stalls there is no other explanation than that it's the confluence of happenstance in a small data set.

Given the ostensible long-term fairness of the six-furlong trip in terms of draw thirds, I wanted to see if there might be a draw bias when studying more recent handicap data at the distance. Here are the draw splits for 2014-2019 seasons where have been 51 qualifying races:

Interestingly, the recent data points to a very strong-looking low draw bias, with high draws having really struggled. When we split by draw we see confirmation of that in less ‘random’ looking data:

Draws 2 to 5 have all been profitable to SP and all have very positive A/E values. This adds confidence in terms of there being a robust bias.

Let us now look at A/E values in a slightly different way – I am going to split the data by draws 1 to 5, then 6 to 10 and finally 11 or higher:

 

This really accentuates the low draw edge and I am fairly confident this is a bias we can exploit when the season gets started again. Before I move on to pace data, I want to share with you the result of the last qualifying handicap race, run on 12th October 2019.

It was the Coral Sprint Trophy with 22 runners; the first eight finishing positions were drawn as follows: 1st (5), 2nd (4), 3rd (10), 4th (3), 5th (2), 6th (1), 7th (8) and 8th (7). Seven of the first eight home were drawn in single figures and all were drawn in the bottom half of the draw. For record the last five horses’ home (placed 18th to 22nd) were drawn 22, 19, 14, 17 and 18 respectively.

This race demonstrates how strong the bias can be. Now, not all races fit this pattern, and high draws will have their ‘day’, more than once, but in recent years it is clear that lower drawn horses have enjoyed a significant edge.

As with the 5f races, I found that the going makes little or no difference to the above. Field size does have a small effect, however, with large fields (17+) increasing the low draw win percentage slightly to 59%. However, with only 22 races included it is a limited sample.

Now a look at York 6f handicap (8+ runners) pace and running styles now. Here are the overall figures going back to 2009:

There is a really significant edge for front runners, much stronger than over 5f which is unusual. Normally, as the distance increases, the edge for front runners decreases. This pace bias has actually been even stronger in the last five years – front runners have won around 30% of all races from 2015 with an IV of a whopping 4.06 and an A/E value of 2.92.

Now a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 6f handicaps (2009 – 2019):

These are virtually a carbon copy of the 5f figures. Once again lower drawn horses lead far more than you would expect. Again, this is difficult to explain and unfortunately I can’t.

York 6f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

Six-furlong handicaps at York in recent years have strongly favoured lower drawn runners from a draw perspective. In addition front runners seem to have a very strong edge, too, and horses appear far more likely to lead if drawn low (though I am struggling to find a reason for this).

*

York 7 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps) 

There have been 94 qualifying races over 7f. Remember this distance is run around part of the home bend starting from a chute: 

Middle draws have had the highest percentage of winners but the figures in reality are quite even especially when I share that lower draws have the best win and placed combined record. Ultimately this looks a very fair C & D in terms of the draw. I think some people may have expected lower draws to have a slight edge but I am not sure the initial chute plays they some might imagine.

The A/E values do suggest though that for win purposes middle draws have offered some value during this 11 year period:

The last five seasons have seen a similar pattern with a fairly even playing field; again, middle draws have arguably fared best, winning around 44% of all races.

Let us now look at each individual draw and their stats since 2009:

A few stalls have proved profitable, but it is highly unlikely this will be replicated in the future as there is no real pattern to it. It is interesting to note that the very highest draws (16 to 20) have provided just 1 winner from 121 runners. Hence in big field contests it looks best to avoid those with 'car park' berths.

In terms of going it seems that higher draws struggle when the going gets on the easy side. On good to softer or softer the draw splits are as follows:

The A/E values for those same good to soft or softer races correlate thus:

It should be stated that there have been only 28 races on this softer type of going, far too small a sample about which to be completely confident. However, the win and placed stats are also very poor for higher draws suggesting that it is certainly possible that this trend towards low to middle will continue.

York as a course rarely gets soft or heavy and only eight qualifying races have been run on that going in the last 11 years. However, worth sharing is that of the 28 win and placed horses, only three came from high draws (11 from low, 14 from middle).

From a draw perspective then a middle draw maybe optimal with both middle and low readily preferable to high: higher draws seem to struggle on going softer than good, and very high draws struggle all the time.

Onto to pace and running styles now. Here are the overall stats:

Front runners have a very slight edge but ultimately there seems no strong pace angle here over 7f. As the ground softens it seems that front runners and horses that track the pace start to have more of an edge but, as mentioned above, the limited sample of 28 races on good to soft or softer would temper confidence in the figures.

Finally let us examine the draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 7f handicaps:

Low draws are more likely to lead as they are closest to the inside, and therefore have least distance to travel around the part-bend. However, whilst I alluded to the starting chute may help lower draws, it may also be that occasionally horses not well away from low draws get snatched up on the inside as wider-drawn rivals attempt to cut the dogleg.

We can see from this draw/run style heat map, which shows place percentage for 8+ runner 7f York handicaps, that those drawn low and held up have the poorest place rate of the waited-with participants.

York 7f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

To conclude 7f seems to offer draw and pace punters no significant edge, though exercising caution around high draws may be prudent.

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York 1 mile (8+ runner handicaps) 

Onto the 1 mile trip – a distance at which I am hoping to see a relatively strong low draw bias as historically was the case during my 'draw fever' days. The configuration of the track, with a shortish run to two sharp left-hand bends in close proximity to each other. Horses trapped out wide can forfeit a lot of ground.

There have been 71 qualifying eight-plus runner mile handicaps going back to 2009: 

 

The raw stats clearly favour lower drawn horses. Middle draws are next best and, in turn, have an edge over higher drawn horses who look to be quite disadvantaged. In spite of this quite well known - and indeed obvious when one looks at the course configuration - advantage, the A/E values help back up the raw win percentages and imply a small profit to be had from backing low draws indiscriminately:

This increases confidence in the bias.

Looking at the going the bias is less strong on very fast ground (good to firm or firmer), but on good ground or softer low draws have prevailed in 27 of the 45 races (SR 60%).

So to the individual draw data now:

Looking at the lowest six draws as a whole they paint a relatively strong picture. Clearly not all six stalls were going to be profitable but you only have to look at wins, strike rate and A/E values to see these figures are strong in terms of their grouping. Combining all these stalls would have seen a small 3p in the £ loss backing all 426 runners ‘blind’, and their combined A/E value is an impressive 1.15. Compare this to draws 7 to 12 whose A/E value is just 0.35 and where backing all runners ‘blind’ would have lost you over 61p in the £.

Focusing on more recent data to see whether the bias has been as strong over the past five seasons (2015-2019) remains a smart ploy. There have been 34 qualifying races giving the following draw stats:

These stats mirror the 11 year data so the inside bias seems as strong as ever. Below is the constituent draw data for those last five seasons:

Again stalls 1 to 6 are the group of stalls that we are drawn to (pardon the pun!). Their combined A/E value stands at 1.20 and you would have made a small profit backing all runners drawn 1 to 6 to the tune of 7p in the £.

For real system punters out there backing horses drawn 1 to 6 that were also in the top six in the betting would have yielded 22 winners from 111 runners for a profit of £46.96 (ROI +42.3). Now I am not personally an advocate of systems but this illustrates how some punters could theoretically have made money over this track and trip in recent years. There is enough logic supporting the angle to suggest it has at least a fighting chance of continuing to pay its way.

The going stats noted earlier in the 11 year data are essentially the same with the more recent data subset. 59% of races on good or softer ground have been won by the bottom third of the draw (low).

A look at the pace / running style figures in mile handicaps (8+ runners) next:

A small edge for front runners and generally the closer to the pace you are the better. Front runners seem to enjoy a stronger edge as the ground gets firmer as the following table shows:

Data is limited which we must take into account of course; that is why I have added the placed stats too, which support the general direction of travel.

So onto the draw performance for front runners in mile handicaps:

Higher draws lead less often as one might expect, but I am surprised middle drawn horses have led slightly more often than lower draws. Perhaps some jockeys have the desire to overcome an ostensibly poor middle stall by gunning from the gate; if that is true, it would make it commensurately more difficult for the widest riders to execute the same strategy.

The Draw Analyser image below shows - for qualifying races run on good or firmer ground - first a draw table by IV3 (average Impact Value of a stall and its immediate neighbours), and secondly, a draw/run style heat map by Impact Value (IV). The benefit of a low draw and or pace pressing early position is clear, as is the difficulty faced by wider drawn runners, especially if held up.

York 1 Mile Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

The mile trip shows a strong low draw bias and, from a punting perspective, it gives us a potential edge. This is underscored by very strong A/E values. The betting market has not taken the bias fully into account yet, and long may that continue!

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York 1 mile 1 furlong (8+ runner handicaps) 

The final distance I wish to look at, but only briefly as there have been just 26 qualifying races in the last 11 years. With data so limited I am simply going to share the very basic stats. Here are the draw splits:

Low draws seem to have a very strong edge. My guess is that it would not be this strong with a much bigger sample of races, but as the distance is only a furlong more than the mile races we just reviewed, one would expect low draws to still comfortably hold sway. Here are the A/E values:

 

These correlate with the draw percentages as one might expect. For the record, stall 3 has provided ten of the 26 winners!

Pace wise, only two of the 26 races have been won by front runners with an A/E value of 0.93. Prominent racers have enjoyed the most success from the small data set and have won 13 races with an A/E of 1.55.

For the record, and mindful that there are just 26 races in this data set, here is the draw/pace heat map by place percentage:

York 1m1f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

I think it may make sense to group this distance with the 1 mile data in the future, but low draws and a prominent run style looks optimal, albeit from an unreasonably small sample of races.

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York Draw / Pace Summary

In summary, York is a course where the draw clearly has a role: knowing where these biases potentially exist ought to help us with our battle to make  long-term profit.

Pace wise, the sprint distances of 5f and 6f appear to offer a solid front running edge, especially when combined with a low draw.

And at a mile and nine furlongs, the value of being draw away from the outside, ideally close to the inner, should not be understated.

Hopefully you have found this article useful; now it’s time to look at the next course!

- Dave

York Ebor Stats: Draw, Pace and Trainer Profiles

It's York's Ebor meeting next week, with its smattering of Group 1 features as well as the first ever £1,000,000 handicap in British flat racing, attached naturally enough to the race which gives its name to the meeting (and which in turn was derived from the name, Eboracum, the Romans gave to a fort which resided on the site of what is now the town of York).

In view of four heady days on the Knavesmire, with what general information should punters at York arm themselves? This article, revised since last year's meeting, should help.

York Racecourse Configuration

The track at York features a six furlong straight down which races at up to that distance are run. There is a dogleg start from a chute for seven furlong races, and a pretty tight bend into the home straight for races longer than that. You can find more York racecourse insights on our dedicated York course info page.

 

York Draw Information

So what impact, if any, does the shape of the racetrack - and indeed drainage - have on draw positions? The weather is set fair for the week and the going is currently good to firm, good in places - the clerk has stated that he will water to ensure broadly that ground. Using geegeez.co.uk's Draw Analyzer tool, offers the following insights:

Five furlong draw at York

Looking only at bigger field handicaps on good to soft or quicker, we can see that there is a slight bias towards lower drawn horses. It is important, however, to check for an even spread of pace across the track: if high numbers have the most early dash, that could be enough to overcome any implied bias in the data.

 

Six furlong draw at York

Over the longest piste on the straight course, low again seem just about to have the best of it, particularly when reviewing the place data: this reveals a gradation from low (best) to high (worst). There is nothing insurmountable in these straight data but, all other things being equal, lower numbers may shade it.

 

Seven furlong draw at York

On the dogleg, there is a small advantage to be drawn middle to high. Looking at the constitution of the track, that makes sense as such runners can cut the corner of the dogleg, especially if breaking alertly. Again, though, it probably won't make the difference between a horse winning and losing, it's just a mild negative for those drawn low.

1m/ 1m1f draw at York

The mile and nine furlong trips are the first we've considered which take in that sharp bend quite soon after the start of races; that can make life challenging for those trapped wide. As a jockey, do you use up petrol trying to get handy, or take back and ride for luck? This challenge is borne out in the data, which shows those on the outside winning far less often - and placing less often - than those inside (low).

This time I've illustrated using the full draw chart table as well as a chart showing IV3, a unique geegeez perspective of draw based on the average Impact Value* of a stall and its immediate neighbours.

*Impact Value is the name given to an index created from the number of winners having a certain characteristic compared with the number of runners having that same characteristic. In this example, we are looking at the exactly 1000 runners to race in 8/9f 12-runner-plus York handicaps since 2009 (good to firm through to good to soft) which contested the 61 races in that sample.

So, for instance, we can see that the number of stall 1 winners was five, and the number of stall 1 runners was 61.

Our calculation is:

(number of stall 1 wins / number of stall 1 runs) divided by (all wins in the sample / all runs in the sample)

Numerically that's

Your first 30 days for just £1

(5 / 61)    /    (61 / 1000)

which equals

0.0819672131 / 0.061

which equals 1.34 (see the IV column, second from the right)

The IV3 for stall 4, for instance, is the mean average of the IV of stalls 3, 4, and 5. That is, (2.96 + 1.88 + 1.88) / 3 = 2.24

Of course, you absolutely do not need to understand how it is calculated to know that it is useful in probability terms. Not necessarily in profitability terms, which is a different fish entirely. (We use A/E - Actual vs Expected - more of which another day, or here).

All you need to know is that 1.00 is 'par', 'standard', 'normal' and/or otherwise unremarkable. The further away from 1.00 you get the better or worse such horses have fared, bigger numbers being better.

Management summary: numbers greater than 1.00, especially on bigger sample sizes, imply a greater probability of success.

Hopefully that makes sense - don't get bogged down in the method, but do take note of the meaning.

Draw at longer trips at York

There is no noteworthy draw advantage over longer distances at York.

 

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York Pace Information

So that's draw, but what of pace? Are particular run styles favoured on this expansive track with its near five furlong home straight?

As with most courses, the front is the place to be in sprint handicaps: front runners at York in big field 5f or 6f handicaps win around two-and-a-quarter times as often as random, and are very profitable to back blindly. See the image below, taken from Gold's Pace Analyzer.

Of course, the problem is that we don't know which horse will lead until the race is underway. However, we can often project that fairly accurately based on historical run styles. Naturally, Geegeez Gold will inform you of what you need to know with a couple of mouse clicks.

There is no discernible pace bias at seven furlongs in big field handicaps, though when the going is good to firm those on the speed have a better chance of seeing it through.

Over a mile, it doesn't pay to be too far back as this somewhat linear chart attests. Although the fewest number of races were won from the front, the number to attempt that feat was commensurately small: a win strike rate of 12% compares favourably with the other run style cohorts. We can see from the table below (Place% column) that these data are backed up by those horses to make the frame.

 

There are no nine furlong races at York's Dante meeting, and at ten furlongs there is no discernible pace bias. That said, those trying to make all are 2 from 78 (-40 points, IV 0.4).

And at a mile and a half, it pays to be played later: those which led or raced prominently in big field twelve-furlong handicaps are a collective 21-374 (5.6% strike rate) for a starting price loss of £205.75.

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Top York Handicap Trainers in August (Ebor meeting)

You may well have seen lists of trainers to follow elsewhere, and fair play to the publishers. Here I want to look at trainer performance overall, and by race type.

York Ebor Meeting: Overall Trainers, 25+ runners, 2014-2018

There are some interest headlines here. First, Mark Johnston runs a lot here but wins with very few. The 21% place rate is way down on this yard's overall rate, normally hitting the frame at around 36%.

Next, Aidan O'Brien. Tony Keenan established chapter and verse on the Ballydoyle Ebor efforts in this excellent post, and it can be seen from the below that York's meeting is not a hugely successful one for the Coolmore head handler: five wins from 56 runners, 0.65 A/E is moderate for this preeminent operation.

Richard Fahey, Brian Ellison, and Richard Hannon are others about whom to be apprehensive in the general context, though further digging below may shine a more favourable light on some sections of their entry.

On a more positive front, William Haggas, famously a Yorkshireman exiled in Newmarket, relishes the opportunity to plunder pots at his home racetrack; and he does so regularly. His 11 winners in the last five years is four better than the next best haul, with Haggas even managing to chisel out a profit and a positive A/E for followers.

And it's been a good meeting for the Godolphin blue, especially the Charlie Appleby team, which has recorded positive punting figures from seven victories. A 24% hit rate is exceptional given the depth of competition at this fixture.

Andrew Balding and Charlie Hills are both solid operators with a mildly positive wagering expectation.

York Ebor Meeting: Handicap Trainers, 15+ runners, 2014-2018

Specifically in handicaps, there is little of value to be gleaned from this table, except perhaps that the place records of Richard Fahey, Tim Easterby and notably William Haggas - whose overall record is so strong - suggest that caution is advised.

Ebor meeting handicaps are notoriously difficult to win and, as such, the hat-tricks notched by Messrs. Ryan, Balding and Appleby (C) are meritorious. In each case the place rate backs up the higher profile statistic.

 

York Ebor Meeting: Pattern (Listed or better) Race Trainer performance, 10+ runners, 2014-2018

In the good races at the Ebor meeting, we see the emergence of Charlie Appleby as a main man. Just nine runners in such races have yielded three winners, and a further placed effort. Although those numbers are unlikely to be completely lost on the market, there may remain some punting nutrition in his Pattern entries.

William Haggas has claimed two wins from ten runs, with four more placed: excellent figures and testament to the 'target' nature of this meeting for his better horses. Note that Haggas has saddled a 20/1 winner and a 14/1 second in that small group.

Nobody else has managed more than two winners.

On the downside, Mark Johnston's zero from 11 is poor, as is an 18% place rate. I'd be against them, on balance. Aidan O'Brien has an overall win rate in UK Pattern races of 15.78% (16th August 2014 to present), which makes his 5.56% Ebor Festival hit rate highly unsatisfactory. Indeed, just three places from 18 runners in this context in the last five years suggests the meeting is not a material consideration for Coolmore.

 

York Ebor Meeting: Class 2 or lower Non-Handicap Trainer performance, selected, 2013-2017

Here we are essentially talking about maiden and/or novice races, and we can see that man Haggas sits top of the tree. Richard Hannon's otherwise middling record at the meeting is solid if not bankable in this race type.

Local lads Ryan and Fahey look to be largely entertaining owners at their marquee home fixture and their entries can be pretty much overlooked in this context, though the latter did hit his mark with 33/1 Red Balloons last year - which paid for a lot of losers!

 

Ebor Trainer Summary

Overall, one does have to be careful with small sample sizes and current trainer form. But, accounting for those, the main trainer takeaways from the last five Ebor meetings are:

- Beware Johnston, Fahey, Ryan and O'Meara. They've collectively won 19 of the 127 races at this fixture since 2014, having saddled 353 of the 1660 runners. An Impact Value of 0.70 compares with their overall five year IV of 1.23 across more than 24,000 runners. It's likely they'll win four or five of the 25 races, but they're also likely to send out around 70 runners most of whose prices will be more indicative of the 'better than peer group' global IV rather than the poorer local IV. That's a verbose way of saying they'll represent poor value overall.

- William Haggas is the man to follow in non-handicaps.

- Charlie Appleby runners should be given two looks without exception.

- Aidan O'Brien appears not to target the meeting, so his runners may make the market for anything else you fancy.