First column of the week and Monday's feature of the day is access to the Pace tab for ALL races, which is far more useful in NH races than many people think, whilst our free racecards cover the following quintet of contests...
- 12.50 Carlisle
- 2.00 Dundalk
- 2.48 Kempton
- 3.40 Dundalk
- 4.00 Carlisle
And of the five, the one I'm looking at today is the 2.48 Kempton, a 10-runner, Class 2, 4yo+, Handicap Hurdle over 2m5f on Good ground worth £9,509, which in order of Geegeez Speed Ratings looks like this...
...and reading the card columns from left to right, we can quickly see...
Form Positives : Flashing Glance, Storm Goddess and Boreham Bill
Form Negatives : Paseo, Cotswold Way
Class : All bar Cotswold Way, Who's My Jockey and Younevercall are stepping up from Class 3, whilst Boreham Bill is up two grades.
Course/Distance form : We have 3 course and distance winners (Neverbeen to Paris, Who's My Jockey and Younevercall), four distance winners (Boreham Bill, Cotswold Way, Enniscoffey Oscar and The Cashel Man), whilst Flashing Glance has won here in the past and has won at this distance, but not over track and trip.
Trainer Stats Positives : Paseo, The Cashel Man, Who's My Jockey and Younevercall
Trainer Stat Negatives : Storm Goddess, Boreham Bill and Enniscoffey Oscar
Jockey Stats Positives : Neverbeen to Paris, Enniscoffey Oscar, The Cashel Man and Younevercall
Jockey Stat Negatives : Flashing Glance, Paseo and Cotswold Way
Speed Ratings : with just a 14pt spread between the 9 rated runners, there's not a lot there to differentiate to be honest. Every uses ratings their own ways, of course, but I like to standardise them so that the top rated is scored as 100, so in this instance, our nine runners would be rated from 90.9 to 100, which signifies a tight race based purely on those ratings and as such are inconclusive for us today.
Please note that due to a 506-day absence Younevercall is unrated, adding a further complication to relying on ratings, especially as he won a Grade 2 hurdle two starts ago!
Regular readers will know that my next location is the Instant Expert tab and I'm looking purely at hurdle form here...
...and there's no getting away from Younevercall's claims there. A full line of green and running off a mark a pound lower than his last run. Neverbeen To Paris also has plenty of green and is rated lower than his last win, as is Cotswold Way and Who's My Jockey. Flashing Glance looks good too, but is 0/6 at this level and the final port of call before horse analysis is the pace tab...
...which would suggest the past running styles of The Cashel Man, Younevercall, Flashing Glance, Neverbeen To Paris and possibly Paseo would be best suited to this contest. With 6 of the the ten runners usually racing prominently or wanting to lead, we'll either get a fairly even pace or one/two might go off too quickly, leaving the door open later for a closer.
So, where does all that put me?
Well, it tells me that it's a good looking contest that appears to be a competitive one, as Class 2 races really should be. You could make cases for most if not all of them making certain assumptions/caveats, but the ones I'm keenest on (in purely alphabetical order) are...Flashing Glance, Storm Goddess and Younevercall.
Flashing Glance : Has won six times over hurdles from 2m to 2m5.5f on good or softer ground. He's up in class today as he seeks a hat-trick off a career high mark of 139 after wins off 130 and 135.
He is 6 from 22 over hurdles and in relation to this race, that includes 6 from 14 at odds of 6/1 or shorter. 5 from 17 with no headgear, 4 from 12 going right handed, 3 from 11 on good ground, 3 from 9 under today's jockey, 2 from 4 this year, 2 from 3 over 2m4f to 2m5.5f and 1 from 1 here at Kempton.
Storm Goddess : Is a useful mare who is very versatile with ground conditions, handling both soft and good to firm (where this might end up) ground. Won very nicely at Doncaster just before lockdown 1, and has been consistently there or thereabouts in three runs since, beaten by less than 3 lengths at HQ in a big field last time out.
Just two wins from twelve over hurdles so far, but she has made the frame in nine (75%) of them and her 9/12 place record includes 8 from 9 at 16-60 days since her last run including one win, 7 from 7 (inc 2 wins) at odds shorter than 8/1, 5 from 6 (inc 2 wins) on good ground, 5 from 6 (inc 1 win) wearing a tongue tie, 5 from 5 (inc 1 win) this year, 3 from 4 over 2m4.5f to 2m5.5f, 2 from 2 (inc 1 win) under today's jockey and 1 from 1 on good to firm ground.
And last but not least for today, Younevercall : Carries top weight here based on past exploits and he was a very good hurdler when last active. Now returning to hurdling for the first time since landing the Group 2 bet365 Select Hurdle at Sandown over 2m 5f (good ground) in April last year when rated at 155 by the assessor (154 now).
He has won this race twice in the past (2016 & 2018, so...) and for a nine year old, he's lightly raced after just thirteen starts, including five wins from 10 over hurdles from which he is 4/9 under today's jockey, 4/8 going right handed, 4/5 on good ground, 4/5 in fields of 7-10 runners, 4/4 over 2m4.5f to 2m5.5f, 3/4 in October/November, 2/3 in cheekpieces, 2/3 in November, 2/2 at class 2, 2/2 here at Kempton, 2/2 at this trip, 2/2 over course and distance (when winning this race twice) and 1 from 2 in a tongue tie.
A highly competitive race, but I would hope that the winner comes from my three-runner shortlist. All have obvious claims based on what I've written above, but as with any selections/predictions, they come with caveats.
Flashing Glance needs a career best effort here and has never won at this grade, Storm Goddess also needs to step up because for all her consistency, she doesn't win often enough and Younevercall carries top weight after a lengthy layoff.
If all run to their best, I'd be looking at Younevercall, he knows this track and trip, has won this race twice before and is a former Grade 2 winner BUT might just need the run, especially with having to lug the thick end of 12 stones around.