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Rowleyfile Preview: Portland Handicap

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Simon Rowlands analyses Saturday's Portland Handicap at Doncaster and picks out his best bet - a 12/1 chance.

As impossible-to-solve 22-runner handicaps go, Saturday’s William Hill-sponsored Portland Handicap has more angles in than most. Whether or not that means we will land on a winner or placed horse remains to be seen, but at least the battle seems less unequal than usual.

The best place to start is with an analysis of the effect of the draw from the past 10 renewals of the race, alongside a pace prediction, for it throws up some interesting findings.

Those figures for % of rivals beaten are remarkably poor for those drawn right against the far side on this straight 5f and 143y and remarkably good for those drawn middle to high and quite close to the stand side. The reason for this is not entirely clear, but there you go.

It is also the case that there is surprisingly little pace in Saturday’s race as judged by Timeform’s unique Early Position Figures. Only one horse – Abel Handy (drawn 17) – has been a habitual front-runner, but a few others tend to press, including three among those low stalls.

There are also some thought-provoking “trends” in other areas, with Place Impact Value (factor by which horses in a given category have made the first four compared to chance) along with %RB being the most meaningful measures.

Four-year-olds and five-year-olds have done best by age-group, as have horses which finished second to sixth inclusive on their most recent starts, having run between three and five times in the season in question (no declared horse on Saturday has run less often than that), and with a good chance on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings.

That first finding is especially interesting given there are five three-year-olds in this year’s Portland, more than double the 10-year average. Three-year-olds tend to do well in open-aged handicaps more widely, right through until around now, but much more so at longer distances than shorter.

For followers of “trainer form”, Amanda Perrett (63%, Open Wide), Nigel Tinkler (60%, Roundhay Park) and Michael Dods (58%, Holmeswood and Dakota Gold) come out best in terms of %RB in handicaps in recent weeks.

After going through the runners’ credentials more closely, I found myself particularly interested in those two Dods-trained four-year-olds, both of whom look like they could have a decent handicap in them before long.

But, while the talented if somewhat frustrating Holmeswood (neutrally drawn in stall 9) is an overwhelming favourite, Dakota Gold (better off in stall 15) is a double-figured price. That looks tempting.

Equally effective at 5f and 6f, Dakota Gold has turned in a couple of fine efforts in sizeable fields on his last two starts, second to Gunmetal in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon then third off today’s mark at Thirsk despite seeing more daylight than probably ideal.

In addition to being a well-drawn four-year-old, from an in-form yard and with a recent placed effort to his name, Dakota Gold has a good chance on Timeform form ratings and an even better one on timefigures.

He goes off the same mark as at Thirsk, 1 lower than at Ripon, and fully 6 lower than when placed twice at this time last year. He seems as good as ever, and there is plenty to like.

It is also the case that the Portland is an attractive race to tackle from an each-way point of view: the win book is 126% but the place book is just 104% per-place at early prices, and the latter may be improved upon if shopping around.

The others I thought should be towards the front of the market are Golden Apollo (though his draw may not be ideal), last-time winners Orvar and Encrypted, Blue de Vega and the aforementioned Holmeswood.

But Dakota Gold looks more over-priced than those and is the sole selection as a result.

Recommendation:

1 pt e/w DAKOTA GOLD at 12/1, one quarter the odds first 4 places 

 

 

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CHELMSFORD CITY 7:15

Tuesday 25 September
2. DESERT FROST (IRE) 109
Oisin Murphy silk Oisin Murphy
Saeed bin Suroor hot trainer
5. REPTON (IRE) 106
Tom Queally silk Tom Queally
Richard Hannon
13. HOLIDAY MAGIC (IRE) 105+
Rob Hornby silk Rob Hornby
Michael Easterby
Go to Full Race

LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

9:00 NEWCASTLE

1st Ben Curtis silk 7. COUNTER SPIRIT (IRE) 11/102.1f
2nd Tony Hamilton silk 2 8. BIBBIDIBOBBIDIBOO (IRE) 25/126
3rd Luke Morris silk 1 2. ROMAN SPINNER 9/110
J: Ben Curtis  
All 10 ran.
FULL RESULT

8:30 NEWCASTLE

1st Connor Murtagh silk 5. TOP OFFER 6/17
2nd Jamie Gormley silk ns 7. CLARY (IRE) 5/16
3rd Paul Hanagan silk 2 3. JOYFUL STAR 7/18
J: Connor Murtagh (5)  
All 12 ran.
FULL RESULT

8:00 NEWCASTLE

1st Franny Norton silk 9. HARRY GEORGE (IRE) 9/25.5
2nd Cam Hardie silk 5. TOTALLY MAGIC (IRE) 7/24.5
3rd Ben Robinson silk nk 3. SUMNER BEACH 3/14f
All 12 ran.
FULL RESULT

7:30 NEWCASTLE

1st Jason Hart silk 11. MY UKULELE (IRE) 5/23.5f
2nd Callum Rodriguez silk 5. NAUGHTY NIGEL 25/126
3rd Shane Gray silk nk 6. SMASHING LASS (IRE) 9/25.5
J: Jason Hart  
T: John Quinn  
13 ran. NRs: 1 
FULL RESULT

7:00 NEWCASTLE

1st Frankie Dettori silk 6. TURGENEV 8/151.53f
2nd Luke Morris silk 6 2. DURRELL 14/115
T: John Gosden  
5 ran. NRs: 5  7 
FULL RESULT

6:45 FAIRYHOUSE

1st C. O'Donoghue silk 2. STILL STANDING (IRE) 5/23.5f
2nd R. P. Cleary silk 0 10. NEW DIRECTION (IRE) 12/113
2nd S. M. Crosse silk nk 8. ARTHURIAN FAME (IRE) 11/43.75
11 ran. NRs: 4  6 
FULL RESULT

6:30 NEWCASTLE

1st Franny Norton silk 1. ALDANA 5/23.5
2nd David Allan silk hd 2. COASTLINE (IRE) 12/113
3rd Tom Queally silk 8. MATERIAL GIRL 9/110
All 11 ran.
FULL RESULT

6:15 FAIRYHOUSE

1st D. M. Redmond silk 5. DUCKY MALLON (IRE) 12/113
2nd T. P. Madden silk ½ 14. HATTON CROSS (IRE) 14/115
3rd D. P. Linehan silk ¾ 1. SHORE STEP (IRE) 9/25.5f
4th D. E. Hogan silk hd 2. DANDYS GOLD (IRE) 16/117
J: D. M. Redmond (2)  
16 ran. NRs: 11  19  3 
FULL RESULT

6:00 NEWCASTLE

1st Andrew Mullen silk 2. VIVERNUS (USA) 20/121
2nd Franny Norton silk 10. EXCLUSIVE WATERS (IRE) 6/17
3rd Jack Garritty silk ½ 11. NADINE 8/19
12 ran. NRs: 6  7 
FULL RESULT
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