An interesting couple of days for us over the weekend and before I crack into the review of the 5f sprint at Sandown from Friday I just want to tidy up a few loose ends.
As far as his role as a BDH runner is concerned it’s job done and thank you very much. On Friday he was very much a ‘well drawn horse’ and he rewarded us all at some very tasty prices. It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does but for the purposes of this here blog he happily moves off the BDH list. Good job Doc.
DUKE OF FIRENZE
I think what Duke of Firenze (I’m going to call him DOF from now on!) confirmed to me on Saturday was that he needs the big fields to produce his best. Small fields tend to congregate and cluster up into 1 group, causing plenty of traffic jams for hold-up runners, such as DOF. In large field races the runners tend to fan out at the end of the race and gaps appear between runners as the petrol gauge starts to flicker on empty, gaps that Duke of Firenze obviously loves coming through in the closing stages. When the runners are spread across the track they naturally open up and fan out as the energy levels drop in the closing stages, this is where I feel Duke Of Firenze can be seen at his best.
He certainly met plenty trouble in-running on Saturday and he was hindered at least twice when looking to make forward moves. As mentioned this is more likely to happen in small fields when they cluster up so as frustrating as it is, it also isn’t surprising.
For now he remains on the BDH list.
Now onto the meat of today’s post…
Race in focus: 2.20 Sandown (05-07-2013) – LONDON’S RACE TRACKS RACINGANDMUSIC.CO.UK HANDICAP (Class 3 Handicap) 5f (14ran)
How the race played out…
As is generally the case with sprints at Sandown it is the runners drawn low and up with the pace that come out on top and it was no different in this contest. There was some fine analysis pre-race on Racing UK by Eddie ‘the shoe’ Fremantle about the effect of the draw at Sandown over the 5f trip, where he pointed out the advantage of being drawn in the low stalls. He himself had walked the track before the race and stated that there was a distinct advantage, in his opinion, to those drawn low. That was purely from him having walked the track and tested the underfoot conditions himself. As it turns out he was spot on and it was also something I had indicated in my Blog post on Friday. It is very much something to keep in mind when punting in these types of races at Sandown although obviously the bias is somewhat negated in the smaller fields (7 or less runners).
The pace map tells us that the pace was set by FAIR VALUE in the 6 box and he tracked across to the far rail early on. DOCTOR PARKES got a good break from the 2 box and that allowed jockey Neil Callan to position him just where he wanted him, something that proved pivotal in his victory. JOE PACKET didn’t break quite as well and he was maybe just a quarter step behind where he wanted to be for most of the race, nevertheless he was still in a decent posi compared to some. Possibly the most interesting aspect of the pace was the fact that the top 5 stalls (boxes 10-15) all made the early decision to switch in behind the pack and run held-up. That isn’t too unexpected as they all generally run that way anyway but in truth it was also their only real option from their unfavorable draws. Unfortunately it was also a moved that severely compromised their chances. Of the 5 of them the smartest riding came from Thomas Brown on STEPS who kept his mount on the outer of the main group, leaving him room to try and bullet home late with an unblocked passage (ooh er missus!). He did, however, have the ‘best’ of the wide draws and was in a prime slot to make that decision.
The end result…
The winner DOCTOR PARKES was well drawn, in the prime position throughout and took full advantage. This was a good performance and he won fairly readily in the end. He will possibly now be pushing on to a mark that he will start to struggle with, as always it will be interesting to see the handicappers reaction. Second placed JOE PACKET possibly didn’t get the best start and had to fight his way back into it a bit but it was a solid run and there is every suggestion that he can win from this mark. He may just be better suited to being stepped back up to 6f. Third placed STEPS ran a very sound race from out wide, he was one that didn’t have a great draw but the fact he stayed wide probably benefited him as he had a clear passage to the line. He is running from a career high mark at the minute but still remains competitive, it is a close call whether the handicapper has him in his grip or not; personally I would like to see him dropped just a couple of lbs. FAIR VALUE gave it fair effort from the front but just couldn’t keep the closer’s at bay and faded slightly in the final yards into fourth. His recent runs suggest he could well pick a race up from this mark though and an easy 5f is probably his best option. Fifth place TAAJUB didn’t really take advantage of his good draw and found trouble by being held up. He is another that suggests he could win from his current mark. As previously mentioned it’s hard to win from out the back and out wide over Sandown’s flying 5 furlongs so for that reason I would be willing to crank up DUNGANNON’s 6th placed run a notch or 2. It was an extremely difficult draw to win from and he did well to get so close and he did motor home once the gaps appeared; to only finish 2.5 lengths in arrears was a fine effort.
BDH(s) to follow…
DUNGANNON (6th) (A Balding)
This 6yo gelding put in some decent late work once the gaps appeared and whilst his finishing position probably doesn’t fully justify his effort it should be enough to keep him under the radar of most punters.
Possibly the most interesting angle with this horse is his current handicap mark of 88. That is a full 7lbs lower than his last winning mark and 2lbs lower than his 2nd highest winning mark. If we also consider the fact that he has run well from marks as high as 99 & 97 then it isn’t hard to make the assumption that he is currently sitting on a pretty handy mark.
It’s also interesting to note that all his wins have come when returning within 28 days or less of his last run (on Friday it was 32 days since his last run)…
Form when returning within 28 days of last run – 010061013571
Form when returning after a break of 29 days+ – 569252678055
He doesn’t necessarily run ‘poorly’ after longer breaks but the fact all his wins have come off shorter breaks suggests that ideally we want him on the track within a month.
He looks fairly adaptable when it comes to ground and to a certain extent distance (winning form over 5f, 6f & 7f) so his options should be open enough with regards to future targets. His handicap mark is clearly the most interesting aspect about him and I would be surprised if he can’t take advantage of it very soon, especially off the back of his run at Sandown last Friday.
Conditions – Ideally we are wanting him back on the track within the month, the 28 day window looks his optimum and there should be plenty of targets for him to be aimed at. He has winning form over 7f but personally I think 5f or 6f would be the ideal trips for him, again there should be plenty of openings for him within the next few weeks.
DUNGANNON now enters my Proform ‘Horse Watcher’ tool and I will post on the Blog when he is due to run next.
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