Saturday Selections: 31st December 2022

Last day of the soon to be old year. One final chance to find a winner and end an eventual, yet ultimately successful and profitable year on a positive note.

A proper review of the year with stats and key learnings will follow in the coming days – for now, here’s one final selection in the year that is and then was 2022.

……..

2.40 Lingfield: Class 3 Handicap, 1m

Wadacre Grace looks a standout chance in this field, as she’s one of few who’s more than happy to move forward. Simply from a pace scenario she may enjoy the perfect race, but also from a handicapping perspective she makes plenty of appeal.

That may surprise, given I said after backing her last time out, that back then she was beaten fair and square in second place and I was wondering whether I had been too optimistic about the amount of pounds she could be ahead of the handicapper.

However, after analysing the recent Southwell race in more detail, I can only conclude that the initial assessment, that lead to the bet, still holds up strongly today; that is: over a mile against her own sex she is probably well handicapped off a 69 mark, especially with little competition for the lead.

The Southwell performance was strong. From her wider than ideal draw she made swift progress, travelling wide, to grab the lead and head for home going strongly approaching the home straight.

She only went down late in the final furlong, beaten by a filly who tracked the pace in third place throughout. Wadacre Grace, though, albeit slowing markedly from two furlongs out, still slowed the least bar the winner.

The handicapper has been surprisingly lenient, allowing her to race off the same 69 mark. It means she goes off bottom weight here, in a race that looks stronger on paper than last time out, but in reality contains very few rivals that appear anywhere close to be considered well handicapped.

In saying that, all the positive arguments brought forward the last time, remain valid today:

She caught the eye significantly the last two times prior to the Southwell run, in that light the lto performance is highly credible. It also means the 3-year-old filly showed a strong level of form in five of her six runs since successfully returning from a 5 months long break in September.

She kicked it all off with victory on handicap debut at Newcastle over 7 furlongs, despite showing some inexperience, she finished incredibly strongly to get up on the line. It’s been her trademark ever since to find plenty under pressure in the closing stages (with the exception of a subsequent poor run, which she has left behind the next three runs, though).

I love that attitude, less so the way she can start her races. She can be sluggish out of the gate, and quite keen in the early stages of the race. I reckon that cost her victory at Chelmsford, when less pronounced but clearly played a part why she ‘only managed’ third place.

She completely missed the break the next time at Kempton. She benefited from a slow early pace to quickly get back to the field but nonetheless had to spend significantly more energy than everyone else and found herself in the worst position possible, too. She finished like a train, eventually.

She had a better – if not ideal – start the next time She went forward to join the leader pushing a good pace, before dropping into second. Once again, when headed, she found plenty under pressure, especially staying on strongly in the final furlong for 2nd place. That was especially impressive after pushing the pace to finish so well. 

She has only ran to a 64 speed rating to date, although that came in her Newcastle victory in September. I still feel she is better than her current mark, in any case. She remains open for improvement on her tenth career run – as long as she doesn’t mess up at the start.

10pts win – Wadacre Grace @ 9/2

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