One race looked at so far, my prices and the earlies:

Newbury 2-40
Pepsyrock 7/4 4/6
Kelrev 6 16
Sole Agent 7 8
Rapide Plaisir 8 9
It’s Crucial 12 10
Farmer’s Lad 20 8

Pepsyrock has a lot going for it, not least a cute name, but I am always wary of odds-on follow ups – somehow I don’t see they can ever be guarenteed and, by definition, there must be a ‘bargain’ elsewhere. He is still the Most Likely Winner though – highest Topspeed and Racing post ratings, only 7lb higher than his latest easy win at Sandown, clearly progressive and fit to win. If you are happy with the price, back him.

A funny race otherwise – I mean, everything seems to have some sort of chance though some way behind Pepsyrock odds-wise – there is nothing ‘clearcut’ so to speak. I am encouraged that the early prices reflect my own assessment in that regard – only Farmer’s Lad and Kelrev are out of line.

Farmer’s Lad fails on winning form and trainer form, though his ratings are not miles behind Pepsyrock’s. His only win is in a lower class though and there is nothing to suggest he is progressing in any way – why back a horse at the bottom of the handicap if you believe class has any meaning? I have also marked him down on distance and going – all in all too many doubts.

On the other hand, Kelrev, at the top of the handicap, is taking a drop compared to his recent runs. Is that recent form so bad? His last race was 3 miles and he struggled after the 14th fence – the distance too long? Prior to that, deadheat 3rd, the winning group 15 lengths clear of the field. Both runs, significantly, in Class 2 company. In other words, good recent form in a higher class plus a distance change – any change needs to be noted.

His trainer, A King, is in top form. The only significant negative are the first-time blinkers though the break since December may be a good thing. I make him 6/1 so the early price of 16s has to be taken.

Who will take the lead in this, given a number of ‘hold-up’ types? Sole Agent made all at Folkestone last time but appears to be a horse-for-course and may prefer softer ground.

Bet Kelrev 16/1 early, value price 6/1.

Pre-race: Farmer’s Lad now 6s from 8s.

Post-race: Couldn’t get to watch the race (musical commitments) but Kelrev appears to have ran poorly after all, though backed from 12s into 8s. Pepsyrock won comfortably despite dodgy jumping, with front runner Sole Agent 2nd at 16s. Farmer’s Lad fell, 11/2.

The Racing Post report says, ‘Kelrev, dropping back from 3m, was having his first outing for 62 days and met some support. The first-time blinkers evidently failed to suit, however, and he was a long way below par.’

‘Pepsyrock somewhat belatedly came good for connections at Sandown a week previously and he followed up under a penalty, but things were not always plain sailing. He was patiently ridden and moved like by far the best horse in the contest, but he met the third-last all wrong and was also none too clever at the final fence. He still had any amount in hand at the finish and is obviously progressive, but he will need to improve his fencing if he is to defy a likely higher mark when bidding for the hat-trick as he was already due to race off 5lb more in the future.’

‘Sole Agent, back to winning ways at Folkestone a month earlier, gave a decent account of himself from the front yet simply found the winner in a different league. This was no disgrace from a 7lb higher mark, on ground he would have found lively enough, and he is now clearly back in decent heart.’

I think a reasonable analysis on my part, identifying the winner (including the doubts), the front runner and not the only one to support Kelrev (getting on at twice SP.)