It's Friday, dear reader, and the racing ramps up in quality terms between now and tomorrow evening, so why don't we do something a little different and have a dig at the placepot?
For those who don't know - where have you been?! - the placepot is a fantastic bet where it's possible to win a lot while staking a little. It is also possible to lose a little while staking a lot; and to lose the lot irrespective of your stakes. But hey, that's the game!
So, in the interests of Houdini-esque escapology (or simply Houdini-esquapology, perhaps?), let's take on the toughest card of the day, at York. Not only that, but the ground has changed to heavy, and there are stacks of non-runners. Perfect placepot territory. 🙂
I've written extensively on placepotting before - here's a key piece - and the first thing I do is look at the 'shape' of the meeting. What I mean by that is, what type of races are there (handicaps, maidens, claimers); how many runners (important from a number of places available perspective); and, where are the hotpot favourites.
Here's today's six race card from York:
Nurseries are handicaps, so we have three handicaps, two maidens and a conditions stakes. That's a fairly typical make up.
We can also see that there will be the following number of places to play for in each respective race: 3,2,3,3,4,3
But... the ground is heavy and there could be more non-runners. So I especially note races where there are five or eight runners, as a single withdrawal would move these from two and three places to win only and two places respectively.
That makes the second, fourth and last legs potentially trappy/lucrative. See, I told you it was a bugger of a card today!
Next, let's have a quick look at the forecast odds, to see if there are any well backed or very short priced favourites. Without going through all the screens here - http://odds.geegeez.co.uk/horse-racing/2012-10-12/york - the answer is not really. There is a fairly strong favourite in the last leg, and this is something I often play up to. More on that in a moment.
Now then, 99%+ of placepot punters bet the wrong way. I appreciate that's a bold statement so let me explain. The prevailing approach is to either a) do a straight line (i.e. one selection per race), or b) perm more than one selection per race on the same ticket.
Adopting strategy a) is fun and keeps the investment right down, but it also severely limits your chances of winning a decent amount, as your fellow players will have much broader coverage through the races.
Taking strategy b) implies that you have the same level of confidence in all of your picks on the bet, as they all have equal weighting. Given that you might have an odds on shot and a 16/1 on the same ticket, you are very unlikely to have the same confidence behind both/all picks.
So, the way I structure a placepot is by perming across a number of different tickets. This allows me to weight the bet differently depending on how many of my stronger/weaker fancies are on each ticket. I use A, B and occasionally C selections, where A's are my strong fancies, B's are my fair chances, and C's are my dark horse outsiders.
I then use a tool I had developed - which is here - to combine any 5 races with A picks with one race with B picks; any four races with A picks with any two races with B picks; and any five races with A picks with any one race with C picks. And, of course, all races with A picks.
I hope this will make sense as I go through the bet now. I'm going to start back to front, by 'singling' or banking on the favourite in the last leg. That's Gabrial The Thug, who is around the 9/4 mark. The reason for this will be revealed shortly.
Now going back up to the top of the card, and the opening race, an extremely difficult Class 2 thirteen runner juvenile handicap (or nursery), to be run over a heavy six furlongs.
I feel strongly that I'll need a number of picks to get through this race, and these will be spread across my A and B boxes. The problem with a race like this is that looking only for heavy ground horses won't be enough, as plenty of these will not even have run on ground that soft, so we cannot know that they won't act well on it.
That said, we should start with what we DO know, and that is that Bachotheque and Bond Club have both won their only starts on heavy. That alone gives them prominence in my selection process, and the fact that both have won at the trip is a positive too. Bachotheque is 7/2 favourite; Bond Club a 12/1 shot. They'll go on A and B respectively.
This is a Class 2 race, and Bond Club only won a Class 5 maiden last time. That might be a better race than the grade, but only time will tell on that, so that's why he's on B.
Others to have run well in soft ground and decent class include Effie B, who may be over-priced at 20/1, and Bircham, who should relish a return to softer ground. Both go on B.
The A side of things is looking a little thin, and I'm going to add Rod Millman's Shahdaroba there. He was 11th in the valuable Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury, over a heavy five furlongs, but was beaten less than four lengths that day. This will be his second try on deep ground and, with an extra furlong (he was staying on at Newbury), he might go close.
Polski Max will also enjoy the ground and he completes the A ticket.
So that's 5, 7 and 8 on A; and 6, 9, and 14 on B. Lots of fancied runners don't make my bet, so there's a fair enough chance of an 'early bath' today...
Leg 2 is the five runner conditions stakes. Indeed, since I started writing there has been a further withdrawal, making this a win only contest. Excellent news from a placepot perspective... assuming I can find the winner without going four deep!
The truth of it is that this is really hard to fathom. Expense Claim will probably take them along, and could get an easy lead. His soft ground form and overall form level, however, is probably not quite enough to stay out in front. Prince Siegfried was second in a heavy ground Group 1 as a 2yo, far and away the best form in this race. But that was back in 2008, and a replication of anything like that would be enough here. I doubt he's capable of achieving it, though.
Mijhaar has very good soft ground form, but can pull hard. If he can settle today, he's the most likely winner for me. Beaten Up has never raced on softer than good and there must be a serious doubt about his ability to handle it.
A will thus consist of Price Siegfried and Mijhaar, and B will house Beaten Up. Depending on how the first race goes (i.e. if the placepot cuts up due to outsiders placing), I may back Expense Claim to win, to cover 50% of my placepot stake.
It doesn't get any easier, and the third leg is now a thirteen runner one mile Class 2 handicap.
Osteopathic Remedy and Suits Me are confirmed mudlarks, and both merit consideration on that basis alone. Osteo has the better recent form, but goes on the B ticket, despite running off two pounds higher than his career best winning rating. Conditions are ideal for him.
Able Master is stretching out to a mile for only the second time in his career, and he might be ready for that now. His recent form is good and he has the beating of a number of these. A. The unpronounceable Bancnuanaheireann joins them as does Vainglory, a type of placepot horse I like. The reason I like him is because he has no obvious form (looking at his recent finishing positions) but is fancied in the market, and his staying on style ought to see him pass plenty of these in the last quarter mile.
Credit Swap loves it soft, comes from a gambling yard (Michael Wigham) and has been backed today. He makes A too.
The 3.40 is a bit of a nightmare race, and one in which I'm going to have to be bold. They bet 3/1 the field in a maiden of just eight runners. This is a potentially carnage situation, and I'll need to use the market for guidance here, in the absence of much form.
Shrimpton has had plenty of chances, albeit generally against better horses, and is reluctantly overlooked. Bluegrass Blues has taken bits of support and is by a sire whose progeny do all right in deep ground sprints. Again, reluctantly overlooked.
Anderton has more experience than Bluegrass Blues but has yet to race on soft. However, he didn't improve from his first run to his second and that's a negative, notwithstanding that he may not have enjoyed the firm ground (sire's progeny do tend to handle firm).
This is a race in which I'm going to do something I rarely do, and enter 'unnamed favourite' on A. Quite simply, I'll be guided by the late market, and hope they're right. It's the placepot equivalent of 'Ask The Audience'!
I'll add Ann Duffield's Rangooned to the A ticket too. This lass ran on Tuesday, and ran promisingly. It's often a positive to be racing soon after a prior start on the flat, and she might have got herself fit enough to trouble the leaders here.
And that tentative fourth leg position brings us to the penultimate 'pot conundrum, an eighteen runner ten furlong handicap. Awkward...
In what could well be an attritional affair, I want trip and ground form over anything else. Those with ten furlong deep ground form are Deepsand, Doc's Legacy, Natural Bloom and Ingleby Angel. That quartet will do for me, in a race that could be over-thought.
And that just leaves me with my banker, Gabrial The Thug, in the last. If I'm still alive after the fifth leg, I will be looking to lay this horse for a place and guarantee myself a return.
For example, suppose the placepot is looking likely to pay £1000 for £1, and I have 60p running on, I stand to win £600 (less stakes). If Gabrial The Thug is 1.56 to lay on Betfair (as it is currently), then I will lay it to win around £350. The cost of laying will be around £200 which added to my stake leaves me in a position to guarantee a profit whether GTT is placed or not.
If we get this far, I'll explain in an addendum to this post what I did, and how it worked out.
Here's how the tickets I'm playing today look. (Click the image to view full size).
I do appreciate that this bet cost isn't for everyone, and in truth, I wouldn't normally stake so much, but I do feel that today's York placepot will pay a few quid and, therefore, is worth chasing.
It's the approach which is the main thing I wanted to share, and I hope you've found some value in that.
In other news, it's been a great week on the tipping front here at geegeez. Chris has been in fine form on Stat of the Day duty, and has found nice winners at 6/1, and 7/2, and placers at 8/1 and 12/1. Yesterday's pick was backed from 16/1 into 9/2 favourite! The fact that it 'only' finished fourth and therefore just out of the frame shouldn't detract from the value which is what SotD is all about.
Oh yes, and for those who followed my Arc preview last weekend, there was the small matter of me nominating the winner of the Arc, Solemia, which was available at 85 on Betfair. I know this, because those are the odds at which I backed her!
She returned 41/1, and I think a few of you backed her with bookies at odds ranging from 40/1 to 66/1. Great stuff. 😀
If you backed a winner thanks to geegeez this week, do leave a comment below. I'd love to know how many of us are winning from the bookies in what is traditionally the hardest part of the season, as we change over from flat to jumps.
And, of course, if you've any placepot related questions, do ask away on those too. I'll be happy to help if I can.
Have a great weekend, and good luck at York this afternoon, and Newmarket tomorrow if you're playing.