Good morning all,
We’ve had a few jumps fixtures now and I thought I’d now take a look to see if we can make any sense of them. Who’s off to a flyer and who’s not? Who might be worth following for the next few weeks? My thoughts on today’s main piece.
I think the first thing to say is that the racing seems to be far more competitive than perhaps it has been in recent summer seasons. I mean, that’s probably not surprising, given the Coronavirus crisis basically shunted everything back a couple of months, and plenty of horses would have been ready to have their first starts of the summer some time ago. Yes, the same old names are towards the top of the charts, but things are a little different this time around.
We’ll start with an old favourite, Dan Skelton. This is normally the time Dan mops up – get ‘em fit, find a bad race or three, rack up a sequence before the handicapper catches up with you. Those of you with good memories will remember this wasn’t quite the case last year – after a good spring, his strike rate dropped off considerably during the summer (and hit the floor in September) before rallying during the autumn and early winter. So far, this July, he’s 5-34 for a 13% strike rate, and even more strangely, a few of his do seem to be needing a run, certainly from the pictures we can see. He had a couple of winners at his beloved Uttoxeter yesterday, a track he’s traditionally done well at, but it was interesting to hear Harry Skelton say they didn’t have quite the numbers for summer that they have done in recent years.
Dr Richard Newland always figures highly when we talk about summer jumpers, but he too, whilst not struggling by any means (the majority are running to form) is only 4-22 in July, with quite a few favourites beaten. I think the point I’m trying to make is that, whoever the trainer and however good they normally are at this time of the year, you shouldn’t be afraid to take on a short one of theirs, whereas in previous seasons you might have found yourself banging your head against a brick wall with such a strategy.
Donald McCain is 1-11 to date and is a trainer whose horses are seemingly needing a run, with plenty of them getting into good positions and then not finishing their races off. With a few of his “home fixture” Bangor meetings to come, I might be looking at his on second and third runs rather than their first. Neil Mulholland is another that’s slow to get going – in fact, he’s yet to have a winner, and his need monitoring rather than backing.
Others that have made a good start, though, include Neil King, who has only had a handful of runners but one of them was a 40-1 winner and the others all ran near their marks, Kim Bailey (2-7, but probably should have been three, with Fubar beaten a nose at Rasen last week), and Jonjo O’Neill, 2-9 and only one of those nine really running badly. Amy Murphy has only had a handful of runners but two of them have won, including the Summer Plate winner Really Super, and she has hers in good heart.
I’ve deliberately left the two most interesting cases until last. Firstly, Ben Pauling. His trials and tribulations were well documented last year, and his strike rate dropped off to less than half of what it was the season before. But he came roaring back on Day 1 at Southwell with a double (which actually gave him 1/9th of his 2019 total in one hit) and I think plenty of us thought, this is it, he’s now got a yard full of well handicapped ones and we can start backing him with confidence. Since that double though, nothing, and all seven he has run have been well below form. Was that first day a false dawn? I think, having thought about it, I’d be happy to throw a few quid at anything of his that’s well enough handicapped at a double figure price in a competitive event, but happy to leave the short ones well alone.
And that pretty much goes for Olly Murphy as well, the most interesting case of all. Four winners on Day 1 at Southwell and a winner on Day 2 at Uttoxeter made it look very much like he was going to be the yard to follow. However, since those five wins, he’s not put another on the board, despite 10 of those 20 runners that have followed starting 5-1 or less. His run-to-form figure has dropped to just 38% as well. I find him the hardest of yards to read, I really do. As to what to expect from him – your guess here is a good as mine, I suspect!
One for you to keep an eye out for next time. If you don’t believe a 3m chase can be won and lost at the start, go back and have a look at the Summer Plate again. Adrrastos, trained by Jamie Snowden, likes to lead and dominate from the start but because the starter made them line up from a standing start after they came in too quickly, he missed the break completely and found himself shuffled back to midfield. Effectively his race was over in 100 yards.
You can put a line straight through this and hopefully, if he comes out again soon, especially in a small field, we might get a bigger price about him than maybe we should do. (Update – in again at Southwell on Sunday).
Today’s selection is Ocean Reach, 3.20 Chepstow.
She was second here at 200-1 two starts ago and it looked a fluke – but it wasn’t, she came out and ran just as well behind Tronada again on her latest start, and is worth her mark. She seems to be improving a little and with no track/trip worries, 14-1 looks a fair price.
Good luck with all your bets today,