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Southwell – The Story So Far…

Good morning all,

My local track, Southwell, changed surface from Fibresand to Tapeta last year and has had quite a bit of racing on it since, with January a particularly busy month. The track is still evolving and bedding in to a certain extent, but has it thrown anything interesting up in terms of any draw biases as yet? I've been logging the winners and where they come from since it reopened, and my thoughts are on today's main piece.

The new Tapeta surface at Southwell has been in for some seven weeks now, and it is fair to say it is taking time to settle in. Indeed, it seemed there were one or two concerns on Monday night, with officials taking a look at the track to make sure there was enough of the surface in place.

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Part of the reason for the Tapeta going down was that the old Fibresand surface had simply worn out over time, and froze too easily, meaning that it had to be worked through the night when temperatures really went sub-zero. The new surface only needs the tractor going round once when racing is on, normally at the half-way point, although I did notice it was worked a bit more often last week, resulting in a couple of results that I might not have expected. I’m not saying that was responsible for those results, but it’s something I’m keeping an eye on – does working the track more balance out what I think is a bias towards middle/outside on the round track? We will see.

Back on the old Fibresand, low numbers were often favoured over 5f and it’s certainly no disadvantage on the new surface either. 3 winners from stall 1, 4 from stall 2, and two each from stalls 3, 4 and 5 indicate it’s still more than possible to win from the middle here. Going hard early was the key on the Fibresand, but tactically you can win either from the front or near the pace now. Still hard to come off the back, mind.

On to the round course. At 6f there seems to be a slight preference towards middle at the moment, with stalls 1-4 throwing up just 4 winners, stalls 5-8 9 winners and stalls 9-14 five winners, although nothing from stalls 12 or 13 yet. Tell ‘Em Nowt’s win here last week from stall 14 shows that you can win from the outside, but it is worth pointing out that race lacked any early pace, and he was able to get a position very easily.

The spread of winners is more even over seven furlongs (including an 80-1 winner from stall 11 of 11 last week, coming from way off the pace and right down the near side) but over a mile – much as it was on the old surface – the inside isn’t really the place to be. Visibility’s win off the back from stall 1 here on Monday was the first from the inside stall, and there’s only been one from stall 2 and one from stall 3 as well. Compare that to seven winners from stalls 4-6 and seven from 7-9 as well, and this might be an angle to keep an eye on as the track continues to bed in.

11f is a trip not often used at the track but again, just one winner from stalls 1-5 compared to seven from stalls 6-10 is something I’m watching closely. There was a strange anomaly on the Fibresand where a few milers could actually stretch their stamina out to 11f (but no further) and I wonder if a few trainers might try this on the new surface as well.

Back to the tractors. A couple of weeks ago, rather than just going round at the halfway mark, they went after races 1, 4 and 6. That night, the inside was not as disadvantaged as it sometimes has appeared to have been. At this early stage that could, of course, be nothing more than coincidence and it could just as easily be that jockeys, as they continue to shun the inside rail and come more down the middle, much as they did on the old surface, will balance out the stats over the next few weeks. Indeed, the past week has seen much more of a migration towards the middle and near side, resulting in a couple more stall 1 winners on the round course since I wrote this article as they come more up the middle than far side. As I say, it’s all still shaping up, but I do think the mile on the round course is where the biggest advantage at the moment – middle to high – might be worth following.

I'll be at Doncaster today, where I think Phil Kirby might have a winner or two. Tommaso in the 3.00 is one with a good chance – he's well weighted purely on his Flat form alone here, but then gets a 13lb allowance as a 4yo, yet I can tell you from seeing him in the flesh he doesn't look a 4yo, having plenty of size about him. He must have a solid chance on his handicap debut today, especially if he can be held onto a bit longer.

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Today's selection – Tommaso 3.00 Doncaster

Good luck with all your bets today,


6 thoughts on “Southwell – The Story So Far…”

  1. I think we’re falling into the trap of overthinking the surface issue I spoke to one trainer on Monday who told me that the jockeys had told him that the surface was riding too fast!You can ask ten different people and get ten different opinions the bottom line is that it’ll work itself out over time

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