My ‘Tracker Tuesday’ posts/reports are where I highlight ‘horses to follow’. I track these in my daily blog posts for their next three starts, stopping at a winner. (or discarding after they haven’t won, only for them to win on their 4th or 5th start!) These ‘horses to follow’ compliment my trainer stats, big race trends work and my growing interest in breeding angles. When trying to find tracker horses I’m generally looking for an unexposed profile, a horse that should show more one day, and is therefore well handicapped. Watching race replays is one method I use to find these horses, but also analysing ‘hot form’ races (using both HorseRaceBase and Geegeez Gold). HRB is great for historical research, using their ‘hot races’ tools, and Geegeez is brilliant for ‘on the day’ research with their superior race-cards and daily reports.
Hot Form is just that really – horses to have run in races that are working out well, producing subsequent winners- suggesting the race was competitive on the day (potentially packed with unexposed and/or well handicapped horses, who were running into form) – in theory, the horses yet to run could find less competitive races in the future and/or more suitable race conditions – eg pace of race/distance/going/track/poor draw etc. And of course, those to have come out of said races and won/placed, may well keep winning. Many of these horses may benefit for another off-season to further strengthen up.
I find it useful (even essential) to have such horses in my tracker, providing crucial context and another ‘way in’ on the day of racing, before analysing further whether they may frank this ‘hot form’ today. If I conclude a horse looks well handicapped, it should only be a matter of time before they show it! Well, that’s the theory. It doesn’t always go to plan but since I started these ‘Tracker Tuesday’ posts enough of them have won, but I’ve plenty to improve on with my race reading/replay watching. I’ll get back to recording ‘over the shoulder’ videos next week and will try and bring reports like this to life. For now, let’s see if I can find any Flat horses to follow, that ran in ‘hot races’ last season…
Stone Mason (IRE, 4YO bay gelding, OR 68)
Formerly with Roger Charlton, since sold to The Horse Watchers (the Dixon brothers) for £12k in August 2019 and I assume now in training with Mick Appleby, like most of theirs, but can’t find confirmation – they do also have the odd horse with David O’Meara.
There’s a good ‘stable tour’ on The Sporting Life with Martin Dixon that makes fascinating reading. With 49 winners from 256 runners to date, given their MO they could be an ownership worth following. Martin does highlight this horse, I quote…
“He’s one of our new ones who hasn’t run for us yet. We bought him at Doncaster in September last year, he’s a great big giant of a horse by Pivotal and he’s probably not been the easiest horse to train. He didn’t race as a two-year-old and he was big and backwards when we bought him as a three-year-old but that’s one of the things we liked about him as we were willing to turn him away immediately and just give him time that he needed to really mature and come to himself.
We do expect him to be a fair bit better as a four-year-old – Pivotals do tend to get better with age – and give his physique he is a horse we expect to have done extremely well from three to four.
He’s only got a handicap rating of 63 – on his only handicap start so far he ran in a very warm race at Newbury and might have been stretched by the mile and a quarter but it was a really good race anyway. We liked the way that he shaped and also liked a couple of his other runs too, including on his debut when trading at a short price in running.
He tanked to the top of the straight there and didn’t quite finish his race off again there but we’re just hoping that with more maturity and further strengthening up that he’ll have done through the winter can help him start to finish off his races better. We might even drop him back a little bit in trip and see where we go from there.”
My ‘way in’ was looking at ‘hot races’ within HRB and focussing on his last start at Newbury, in the 18.05 – a 13 runner, 10f, 3YO handicap on Good. (although it had been/was raining at race time) He finished 7th there, beaten 9L. Horses in this race have subsequently run 35 times, winning 12, placing in 20 (inc wins). The six horses in front of him have won six between them, the three directly behind him have won four between them and even the twelfth has won twice. As hot handicaps go, this is hot. I may ‘track the race’ as it’s not impossible a few continue to improve into this season.
On paper, a mark of 68 should look lenient when new connections find the key – and even more so if he’s matured physically, and indeed mentally. The horse behind him was OR 77 on the day and would rise to 79. The Top 5 would hit ratings of 82, 82, 90, 75, 75. It does look like the Dixon brothers and Mick Appleby have some base metal to work with, for all that he does need to improve.
When you watch the race back it’s clear he runs much better than his final finishing position suggests. He was anchored right out the back (no doubt to get the trip) and came with a big effort as they approach 2 out – he got within 2L of the leaders, only for his run to flatten out 1f from home. He did run there like a non-stayer there, at that stage of his life anyway.
Of course, until a horse wins a race, there’s always a slight question over them and connections still don’t know his ideal conditions. I wonder if they’ll try an aggressive ride over 8f at a galloping track. It could be he simply needed more time to develop and 10f will be well within range this year. He’s also been gelded, which may help. Clearly Mr Charlton doesn’t want many/any 68 rated 4 YO in his yard, but 12k could look a decent price in time. Connections will dream of getting him up into the high 80s.
Lucius Tiberious (IRE, 5YO Bay Gelding, OR 104)
This son of Camelot is trained by Charlie Appleby and he has an interesting history. Bought for €200k as a yearling in 2016 by MV Magnier, then sold to Godolphin for 320K Guineas in October 2018, so far he’s amassed 133k in prize money (32k for Godolphin). Not that money matters to these connections of course but they don’t appear to have won the lottery with this one. However, I suspect Appleby may want to win a nice handicap pot with him and there’s a few pieces of form to suggest he could. As he was racing in Meydan in February I assume he’s been kept in training and will be seen again over here. He’s still listed on the Godolphin website. It could be, aged 5, he now comes into his own. That is the age many flat horses reach full maturity.
Last July he finished 2nd in the Old Newton Cup Handicap at Haydock, off 101. The winner franked the form in another handicap two starts later, winning off 105, going up to 109. The 3rd, 4th and 5th subsequently won 5 races between them. The 3rd reaching a mark of 102, the 4th and 5th, 97 and 98. This was a competitive race and he was surrounded by horses that hadn’t finished winning for the season. He’d run ok the time before at Royal Ascot, which followed on from a neck second in a decent York Handicap off 100. His best form has come in big fields, on Good to Firm – in handicaps he’s 2/5,4p on the surface. 0/4,0p on everything else. A strongly run 10f may be best but it does look like he stays 1m4f. He tends to race ‘up in the van’ also. Maybe a more patient ride in these big field races would unlock further improvement. He looks a tough sort and with any luck will get his head in front again. (now 21 career runs, 3 wins, 3 seconds, 3 thirds)
It may be that his mark needs to come down a few pounds, but his canny trainer may yet land a decent pot with him this season.
Ned Pepper (IRE, 4YO, Bay Gelding, OR 71)
Trained by Alan King, I can only conclude that he’s chucked in off 71 – it’s just a case of when it clicks, and whether he’ll be a backable price.
This horse has only had six runs in his life, and they’ve given him plenty of time. On TV pictures he looks a big raw horse and I suspect he’s done rather well over the winter.
He had three turf maiden runs, sent off 66/1, 50/1, 50/1. He then made handicap debut at Newbury, stepped up 2f to 1m4f, sent off 25/1. He was held up in last here but stayed on well enough into 2nd, beaten 1L, not really knocked about.
The form of that race (Newbury/6th August) looks solid – Tavus beat him there and he’d win 4 of his next 6 starts, winning his final Flat handicap off 72 (before switching to Jedd O’Keeffe for two wins over hurdles) The two behind him, in 3rd and 4th, won two each, from three starts – hitting marks of 81 and 75.
His mark was raised to 72 before having 72 days off and running twice on the AW, at Wolverhampton and Kempton. I’m not sure either track/pace set up suited him really. He never had enough time to get rolling. At Wolvs he finished like a fresh horse but the race had gone – I’m not sure his jockey could decide whether to get stuck in or look after him! At Kempton he was trapped wide and again wasn’t knocked about, before staying on well enough past beaten horses. But the winner was long gone. 2020 could be a decent year for him. I’d like to see him at a galloping track, maybe over further and given a more positive ride. But, fundamentally, a mark of 71 does look lenient, and even more so with natural development over the winter. His last three Racing Post Ratings have been higher than his official mark, which is usually a positive sign… 75 / 77/ 74. Maybe his dual-purpose trainer will try him over hurdles at some point!
That’s all for today. Hopefully you found that interesting/useful. I’ve gone through around 40 handicaps from last season to find those three horses and there’s plenty more for me to flick through when time allows. I’ll find a few more from last season but there’ll also be plenty of ‘hot form’ races developing over the weeks and months to come.
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