It might not be a vintage day of racing on Saturday but there are plenty of competitive handicaps to get stuck into. One of the more interesting races of the day, which unfortunately won’t be on terrestrial television, is the 7f handicap at Haydock being run at 3.50pm.
Haydock is well known for receiving plenty of rainfall so there is fairly limited data available for handicaps of this field size run on the forecast good to firm ground. When there is limited data the PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) is particularly useful. There isn’t a whole lot in it but it seems preferable to be drawn low or high rather than in the middle over 7f on fast ground at Haydock. Just 15.63% of placed runners have come from the middle third of the draw.
As far as pace advantage over this course and distance is concerned, on fast ground we are again dealing with slightly limited data but it seems anywhere but prominent is ideal for win purposes. Prominent racers have yielded zero winners from 24 runs in qualifying races. The best place to be positioned could be mid division with a level stakes profit of £3.50 for those runners. It’s worth bearing in mind though that win ratios can be misleading with limited data and when looking at the place data for the same qualifying races it’s actually very even and slightly favours those ridden prominently.
One of the best features of Geegeez Gold is the ability to compare both pace and draw simultaneously. The draw pace heat map (using PRB data) for races of these conditions again backs up the assumption that middle draws are less favourable and that a high draw might be more favourable than low unless you are likely to be held up in the rear, in which case low is better than high.
With no strong data regarding pace advantage it’s best to concentrate on how each individual race is likely to be run and that’s what makes this race more interesting than many on Saturday.
With three possible front runners here we are likely to see contested speed and that should swing things in favour of those held up in mid division or the rear. That leaves the entirety of the remaining field with no recognised prominent racers. As previously discussed those drawn in the middle could be seen at a disadvantage which would be bad news for Irreverent, Young Fire, Dutch Decoy and Arbalet, who are drawn 5,6,7 and 8 respectively.
Of those drawn lower, War Glory is drawn lowest of all but has only won once in 30 attempts on turf and probably needs a stiffer test. Indian Creak is drawn in stall 2 but has been well enough beaten in both starts this season and whilst his 7th in a 7f handicap last month at Sandown might look okay form on first inspection, the Geegeez future form display tells us that 11 runners have come out of that race and all been beaten since. Cold Stare completes the low drawn runner list who should be ridden with patience but all his form is on soft ground.
So what about those drawn higher? The remaining runners are Triggered (drawn 9) and Northernpowerhouse (drawn 10). Triggered is likely to be held up in the rear and based on the data we have he would probably have been better off with a low draw assuming the same tactics are used again. He hasn’t been seen to best effect this season and is stepping up to 7f for the first time. He’ll need to improve for the trip to figure but on the way he runs that’s very possible.
Northernpowerhouse seems to have plenty in his favour with a high draw and a fast pace forecast. He is generally held up in mid division rather than right at the rear of the field so has an ideal draw on that basis. He seemed to improve over the winter on the all weather and was clearly not expected to transfer that improvement to turf when sent off a relatively unconsidered 22/1, despite being a last time out winner, at Redcar in June. He proved those odds wrong though with a narrow win. That wasn’t the strongest of contests in hindsight but many of his races have worked out well, particularly his most recent all weather win where he beat five runners who would win on one of their next two starts.
Last time out Northernpowerhouse was beaten 8.5 lengths but he was badly squeezed up on that occasion and whilst he wasn’t going well enough to win that day, he may well have reached the placings. The faster ground here may also be in his favour.