PACAFI (Friday 15 October 2021)

Posted by Paul Moon in Blog | Leave a comment

ITALIAN SPIRIT 1.38 Fakenham at 8/11

Champions Day On Sky Sports Racing Maiden Hurdle (Class 4) 2m4f


Trainer Form: 4-29 for 14%           (9)     
National average: 17%               (10)
Course Strike Rate: 22%             (10)        
RPR: 122                            (10)                          
Optimum Ground: Good                (10)
Distance: 2m4f+                     (10)
Jockey: Aidan Coleman               (10)
National Average: 17%               (10)
Course Strike Rate: 12%              (9) 
Trainer/jockey combination: 20%     (10)
Total:                              (98)
Danger: Loved Out

Italian Spirit was an €85,000 3yo and a good-topped gelding and a first foal. The dam is an unraced half-sister to winning hurdler/useful chaser (2m-2½m winner) Arctic Skipper.

Impressed on hurdling debut

Italian Spirit really impressed on his hurdling debut in a class 4 novice race at Newbury in March, over a distance too short. Today's class 4 maiden is nowhere near as strong and over 2m4f. We are not saying Aidan Coleman schooled him at Newbury but he was very tenderly handled and never asked to race fully after being off the track for 4 months. The three in front had much more experience and all previous winners of races. So there was definite promise and it looks certain he is open to any amount of improvement.

Distance and ground conditions to suit

He had previously confirmed debut promise when landing a bumper at Market Rasen (16.5f) in December and it was noticeable how he stuck his head out at the finish which counts for plenty, especially as a national hunt horse. That win was on soft ground and we do not believe that his his optimum conditions, tomorrow's good ground is expected to suit much more.

Trainer form

Tainer Olly Murphy has won the last 2 runnings of this race (fields of 4 & 5 runners) whilst Aidan Coleman rode the winner last year and has a strike rate of 41% on winning favourites. There is a negative attached to the race in that the trainer could be in better form, but as always we seek context. In the last 6 weeks or so he shows just 4-29 but there have been 7 second places and 4 third places, so an extra winner would change his strike rate to a requisite level.

Murphy clearly targets Market Rasen (39), Fakenham (31) and Uttoxeter (21) and knows what sort of horses to race there. His strike rate at Fakenham is 22% so 5% above his national average. Since July 2017 he has now trained 294 winners so eagerly looking forward to hitting 300 and should happen in November. The combination with Aidan Coleman records 82-406 for 20% so nicely above the trainer's national average. Coleman has a national average of 17% also.


Apart from the hurdles and tactics Loved Out looks our only danger. He has an exposed look about him (0-12) though still a 4yo. He has been placed four times in Ireland and runner-up on British debut. He looked a fairly useful maiden on the Flat and showed fair form over hurdles. He left Thomas Mullins for £25,000 and was then made favourite at Newton Abbot last time where he ran respectfully over 2m167y with no extra on the run-in.

We are a little surprised about the big step up in trip at this stage especially as he likes to front run, which will suit our Pacafi. His sire is Requinto who was an out and out sprinter, whilst the dam Love Thirty won one race over 6f. She has produced 10 other mediocre offspring winning a total of 9-87 for not much prizemoney, but the furthest any of those have won over is 1m2f on the AW in a very weak class 6 handicap. Loved Out's full brother Rishworthian has won 2 races over 6f and 7f, so hard to see how 2m4f is anywhere near optimum, and if it was why did Thomas Mullins not try it? It all seems a bit strange to us and we are clearly missing something! We know Evan Williams is not a fool!


A fairly useful winner in bumpers, ITALIAN SPIRIT shaped with abundant promise when running on for fourth in a Newbury novice hurdle back in the spring, whilst considerately handled. Open to significant improvement, he can take this on return, with Loved Out, who is proving most consistent, rating the clear danger.


The 8/11 looks to be on the north side of perceived value, just. We would not have taken anything shorter even though we are convinced the Pacafi is the best horse in the race but some distance!

Italian Spirit traded at a low of 4.20 and BSP of 7.28 when losing last time, a race in which it raced towards the rear: Loved Out traded at a low of 1.55 and BSP of 2.42 when losing last time, a race in which it led.



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