Previews, tips and trends for major horse racing fixtures across the UK. Detailed day-by-day reports and info on horses, races, courses, events and more.

2019 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Trends

Run over 1m4f the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is one of Europe’s most valuable Group One contests that is open to horses of either sex that are aged 3 or older and staged at Longchamp racecourse.

In recent years the contest has been dominated by the younger horses with 11 of the last 17 winners being aged 3 years-old, while 12 of the last 17 - came here off the back of a last time out victory. Last year we saw the John Gosden-trained Enable land the race for a second time and if lining-up again in 2019 will be looking to become the first horse to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three times.

However, being drawn in stall 9 and with the race only seeing two 5 year-old winners since 1976, is the superstar mare - Enable - up against it?

As always, we are on-hand with all the key stats for the 2019 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – this year run on Sunday 6th October.

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Recent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Winners

2018 - Enable (Evs)
2017 – Enable (10/11 fav)
2016 – Found (6/1)
2015 – Golden Horn (9/2)
2014 – Treve (11/1)
2013 – Treve (9/2)
2012 – Solemia (33/1)
2011 – Danedream (20/1)
2010 – Workforce (6/1)
2009 – Sea The Stars (4/6 fav)
2008 – Zarkava (13/8 fav)
2007 – Dylan Thomas (11/2)
2006 – Rail Link (4/7 fav)
2005 – Hurricane Run (11/4)
2004 – Bago (10/1)
2003 – Dalakhani (9/4)
2002 – Marienbard (158/10)

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Betting Trends

16/17 – Had won a Group 1 race before
15/17 – Had won over 1m4f before
13/17 – Had 4 or more runs that season
13/17 – Drawn in stall 8 or lower
13/17 – Priced 10/1 or shorter in the betting
12/17 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
12/17 – Had won at least 5 times before
12/17 – Won last time out
11/17 – Aged 3 years-old
11/17 – Had run at Longchamp before
10/17 – Had won at Longchamp previously
9/17 – Placed favourites
8/17 – Female winners
8/17 – Won by a French-based yard
7/17 – Ran at Longchamp last time out
5/17 – Winning favourites
5/17 – Won by a UK-based yard
2/17 – Trained by Andre Fabre (won the race 7 times in all)
2/17 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (2016, 2007)
3 of the last 10 Epsom Derby winners that season have won
The average winning SP in the last 17 years is 7/1
Trainer John Gosden has won 3 of the last 4 runnings
Since 1976 we’ve seen just 2 winners aged 5 or older
18 of the last 25 winners were aged 3 years-old
Jockey Olivier Peslier has won the race 4 times
Jockey Frankie Dettori has won the race 6 times



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Doncaster TV Trends: Thursday 12th Sept 2019

The ITV cameras head to Doncaster racecourse this week for the 4-day St Leger Meeting – they will be covering races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – with races spread across both ITV and ITV4.
As always, we’ve got it all covered with all the TV race trends and stats – these should help narrow down the fields and also highlight the best profiles of horses that have done well in the races in the past.


Thursday 12th September 2019

1:50 - British Stallion Studs "Carrie Red" EBF Fillies´ Stakes (Nursery Handicap) Cl2 6f110y ITV4

16/16 – Had raced in the last 6 weeks
14/16 – Carried 9-3 or less
13/16 – Placed third or better last time out
13/16 – Rated 74 or higher
12/16 – Had won at least one race before
11/16 – Won by a Feb or Mar-born foal
10/16 – Placed favourites
10/16 – Had won over 6f or 7f before
9/16 – Came from a double-figure stall
7/16 – Won last time out
4/16 – Winning favourites
3/16 – Had run at Doncaster before
2/16 – Won by the Hannon team
2/16 – Won by the Richard Fahey team
2/16 – Won by the Paul Cole yard


2:40 - DFS Park Hill Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 1m6f132y ITV4

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14/16 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
13/16 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
12/16 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
12/16 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
11/16 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
11/16 – Won no more than 4 times before
10/16 – Placed favourites
9/16 – Had run at Doncaster before
9/16 – Previous Group winners
7/16 – Had won over at least 1m6f before
6/16 – Irish bred
5/16 – Won last time out
4/16 – Won the Lilly Langtry (Goodwood) that season
4/16 – Raced at Goodwood last time out
4/16 – Winning favourites
3/16 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
2/16 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/16 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has never won this race

3:15 - Weatherbys Racing Bank £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes Cl2 6f110y ITV4

14/15 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
11/15 – Finished 5th or better last time out
11/15 – Yet to win over 7f
11/15 – Won between 1-2 times
10/15 – Won from a double-figure stall
10/15 – Winning distance – 1 length or less
8/15 – Raced at York last time out
7/15 – Placed favourites
7/15 – Foaled in Jan or Feb
4/15 – Won last time out
3/15 – Winning favourites
3/15 – Trained by Richard Fahey (including 2 or the last 5 runnings)
2/15 – Had raced at Doncaster before
2/15 – Trained by Brian Meehan
2/15 – Ridden by Franny Norton
2/15 – Won by a filly
1/15 – Irish-trained winners
1/15 – Placed horses from stall 1 (third 2009)
10 of the last 12 winners carried 8-12 or less in weight

3.45 – William Hill May Hill Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 1m ITV4

16/17 – Had 1 or 2 previous career wins
15/17 – Had won over 7f before
15/17 – Had 2 or more previous career runs
15/17 – Won by a Feb, Mar or April foal
10/17 – Won last time out
9/17 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
8/17 – Drawn in stalls 1 or 2
6/17 – Winning favourites
4/17 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse
2/17 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
2/17 – Trained by Richard Hannon
2/17 – Trained by John Gosden
10 of the last 13 winners returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has only won the race once (2018)


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Doncaster TV Trends: Friday 13th Sept 2019

The ITV cameras head to Doncaster racecourse this week for the 4-day St Leger Meeting – they will be covering races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – with races spread across both ITV and ITV4.
As always, we’ve got it all covered with all the TV race trends and stats – these should help narrow down the fields and also highlight the best profiles of horses that have done well in the races in the past.


Friday 13th September 2019


1.50 - Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 7f ITV4

14/16 – Never raced at Doncaster before
12/16 – Won between 1-3 times before
12/16 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
11/16 – Drawn in stalls 3-7 (inc)
10/16 – Had won over 7f before
8/16 – Placed favourites
8/16 – Came from the top three in the betting
8/16 – Returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
7/16 – Won last time out
4/16 – Winning favourites
3/16 – Won by the Hills stable
3/16 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/16 – Ridden by Andrea Atzeni
2/16 – Trained by Roger Varian (2 of last 4 runnings)
2/16 – Irish-trained winners
0/16 – Winners from stall 1 or 2


2:40 – William Hill Mallard Stakes (Handicap) Cl2 1m6f132y ITV4

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16/16 – Drawn in stall 11 or lower
15/16 – Aged 5 or younger
15/16 – Had won at least twice before
13/16 – Drawn in stall 8 or lower
12/16 – Had won over 1m4f or further before
12/16 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
11/16 – Carried 8-10 or more
10/16 – Winning distance 1 length or more
8/16 – Had 5 or more runs that season
7/16 – Had run at Doncaster before (5 won)
6/16 – Ran at York last time out
6/16 – Winning favourites
6/16 – Returned a double-figure price
6/16 – Won last time out
4/16 – Ridden by Jamie Spencer
2/16 – Trained by Michael Bell

3:10 – Magners Rose Doncaster Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 2) Cl1 2m2f ITV4

16/18 – Had won over 1m6f or further before
16/18 – Had 2 or more runs that season
15/18 – Returned 11/2 or shorter in the betting
14/18 – Drawn in stall 4 or higher
13/18 – Had run at Doncaster before (6 won)
12/18 – Placed last time out
12/18 – Had won 5 or more times before
11/18 – Aged 6 or younger
10/18 – Ran at York last time out
10/18 – Previous Group race winners
10/18 – Winning distance 1 or more lengths
8/18 – Unplaced favourites
7/18 – Winning favourites
6/18 – Won last time out
4/18 – Trained in Ireland
Thomas Hobson (2/1 fav) won the race in 2018
Desert Skyline (2/1) won the race in 2017
Sheikhzayedroad won the race in 2016
Pallasator won the race in 2015

3.45 – Wainwrights Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 5f ITV4

15/16 – Had raced in the last 4 weeks
13/16 – Placed horses from stall 2 or 3
13/16 – Drawn in stall 7 or lower
12/16 – Had won at Listed or Group class before
11/16 – Returned 5/1 or shorter in the betting
11/16 – Won 1-2 times before
11/16 – Winning distance – 1 length or less
8/16 – Placed favourites
7/16 – Winning favourites
6/16 – Foaled in April
6/16 – Ran at York last time
5/16 – Trained by the Richard Hannon yard
5/16 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
5/16 – Won last time out
1/16 – Irish-trained winners
1/16 – Winners from stall 1


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Sat TV Trends: 7th Sept 2019

Plenty going on this Saturday –  this week from Haydock, Ascot & Kempton - with the Group One Haydock Sprint Cup the feature contest on the day.....As always we've  got all the TV trends for you. Use these to find the best profiles of past winners and whittle down the runners.

Saturday 7th September 2019


HAYDOCK Horse Racing Trends (RacingTV/ITV)

1.50 – Garswood Handicap Cl2 1m6f ITV

10/10 – Came from stalls 3-10 (inc)
10/10 – Had run in the last 4 weeks
9/10 – Had won over at least 1m4f before
8/10 – Rated between 81-89 (inc)
8/10 – Carried 9-1 or less in weight
8/10 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
6/10 – Came from stalls 6-10 (inc)
6/10 – Irish Bred
6/10 – Placed favourites
5/10 – Won last time out
5/10 – Ran at either York (2) or Newbury (2) last time out
4/10 – Winning favourites
Mekong (9/4) won the race in 2018


2.25 – Unibet Mile (Registered as The Superior Mile Stakes) (Group 3) Cl1 1m ITV

13/15 – Won over 1m or further before
13/15 – Won 3 or more times before
12/15 – Winning distance 1 length or more
12/15 – Had won a Listed or better race before
11/15 – Returned 11/2 or shorter in the betting
11/15 – Had 3 or more runs that season
9/15 – Placed favourites
8/15 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
7/15 – Ran at either York or Ascot last time out
6/15 – Winning favourites
4/15 – Won last time out
3/15 – Had won at Haydock before
3/15 – Trained by Roger Charlton
3/15 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
5 of the last 10 winners came from stalls 1 or 4
Here Comes When (3/1) won the race in 2018


3.35 – Old Borough Cup Handicap Cl2 1m6f ITV

15/16 – Had won over at least 1m4f before
15/16 – Had won at least twice before
14/16 – Had run 4 or more times that season
14/16 – Aged 3, 4 or 5 years-old
13/16 – Finished 4th or better last time out
12/16 – Rated 90 to 101
12/16 – Drawn in stall 7 or higher
9/16 – Winning distance ¾ lengths or less
8/16 – Carried 9-0 or more
8/16 – Had run over 1m6f before
7/16 – Ran at Haydock before
6/16 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
6/16 – Ran at York last time out
4/16 – Trained by Mark Johnston
2/16 – Ridden by Joe Fanning
Reshoun (6/1) won the race in 2018

4.10 - Sprint Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) Cl1 6f ITV

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15/17 – Unplaced horses from stall 1
14/17 - Aged 5 or younger
14/17 – Had 4 or more career wins to their name
14/17 – Rated 111 or higher
14/17 – Had won over 6f before
13/17 – Didn’t win their previous race
13/17 – Finished in the top 4 last time out
12/17 –Had 4 or more runs that season
12/17 – Winning distance 1 length or less
12/17 – Drawn in stall 5 or higher
11/17 – Had won a Group race before
9/17 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
9/17 – Ran at Deauville (4) or York (5) last time out
8/17 – Had run at Haydock before (3 had won)
7/17 – Drawn in a double-figure stall
7/17 – Had won a Group 1 before
5/17 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 17 years is 9/1


Ascot Horse Racing Trends (ATR/ITV)

2.45 – Cunard Handicap Cl2 7f ITV

Only 8 previous runnings
8/8 – Didn’t win last time out
8/8 – Had run at the course before
8/8 – Had won over 7f before
8/8 – Had raced in the last 6 weeks
8/8 – Winning distance 1 ¼ lengths or less
7/8 – Carried 9-0 or less in weight
6/8 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
6/8 – Irish bred
6/8 – Unplaced last time out
4/8 – Rated between 95-97
4/8 – Had between 4-7 wins already
3/8 – Aged 5 years-old
2/8 – Winners from stall 12
0/8 – Winning favourites
Ripp Orf (7/1) won the race in 2018

3.55 - Lavazza Stakes (Heritage Handicap) Cl2 1m4f ITV

Only 9 previous runnings
7/9 – Rated between 84-95
7/9 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
6/9 – Had won just once before
5/9 – Horses placed from stall 10
5/9 – Returned a double-figure price
5/9 – Carried 9-0 or more
5/9 – Had run at Ascot before (3 won)
4/9 – Horses placed from stall 8
4/9 – Won last time out
3/9 – Ran at Ascot last time out
3/9 – Winning favourites (1 co, 1 joint)
2/9 – Won by trainer Saeed Bin Suroor
Note: the 2015 running was a dead-heat
Duke Of Bronte (5/2 jfav) won the race in 2018


Kempton Horse Racing Trends (RacingTV/ITV)


2.05 – Sun Racing September Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 1m4f ITV

12/13 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
11/13 – Had won a Listed or Group race before
10/13 – Placed favourites
9/13 – Didn’t win last time out
9/13 – Had won between 4-7 times before
9/12 – Had won over 1m4f before
9/13 – Winning distance – 1 ¼l or more
8/13 – Horses from stall 2 that finished in the top 3
8/13 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
7/13 – Had run at Kempton before
5/13 – Ran at York (3) or Windsor (2) last time out
5/13 – Aged 4 years-old
5/13 – Winning favourites
4/13 – Godolphin-owned runners
3/13 – Winners from stall 2
3/13 – Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor
1/13 – Winners from stall 1
Enable (8/15) won the race in 2018


3.15 – Sun Racing 'London Mile' Handicap (Series Final) Cl2 1m ITV

13/13 – Had run at Kempton before
11/13 – Had won over a mile before
11/13 – Won between 3-7 times before
11/13 – Unplaced favourites
9/13 – Aged 4 years-old
9/13 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
7/13 – Returned 20/1 or bigger in the betting
5/13 – Rated between 77-85
5/13 – Horses from stall 9 that finished in the top 3
4/13 – Ran at Kempton last time out
4/13 – Won last time out
2/13 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
1/13 – Winning favourites
5 of the last 7 winners came from stalls 14 (3) or 16 (2)
War Glory (20/1) won the race in 2018


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TV Trends: Sat 31st Aug 2019

More LIVE horse racing action this weekend as the ITV4 cameras head to Sandown, Chester and Beverley – we’ve got it all covered with the key trends and stats to help you whittle down the runners and find the best profiles of past winners.


Saturday 31st August 2019


SANDOWN Horse Racing Trends (Live ITV/RacingTV)

1.50 – Play 4 To Score At Betway Handicap Cl3 5f ITV4

10/11 – had raced in the last 6 weeks
10/11 – Aged 4, 5 or 6 years-old
10/11 – Didn’t win last time out
10/11 – Carried 8-12 or more in weight
9/11 – Had won over this 5f trip
8/11 – Rated between 80-93
8/11 – Had run at Sandown before (3 winners)
8/11 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
7/11 – Finished in the top 5 last time out
7/11 – Drawn 7 or higher
5/11 – Rated between 85-87
2/11 – Trained by Mick Channon
2/11 – Ridden by Jim Crowley
0/11 – Winning favourites
Global Applause won this race in 2018
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 9/1

2.25 – Betway Heed Your Hunch Handicap Cl2 1m2f7y ITV4

14/17 – Had 4 or more runs that season
13/17 – Ran at Haydock, York, Newmarket or Goodwood last time
12/17 – Unplaced favourites
11/17 – Winning distance 1 length or less
10/17 – Won 3 or more times before
10/17 – Aged 4 years-old
9/17 – Carried 9-0 or more
8/17 – Had run at Sandown before (4 won)
7/17 – Returned a double-figure price
7/17 – Won last time out
3/17 –Winning favourites (1 joint)
2/17 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
Dubai Horizon won the race in 2018
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 9/1

3.00 –Betway Atalanta Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 1m14y ITV4

14/17 – Had 3 or more runs that season
13/17 – Had won over a mile before
13/17 – Priced 9/2 or shorter
13/17 – Winning distance 1 ¼ or less
12/17 – Aged 3 years-old
11/17 – Placed last time out
11/17 – Had won 3 or more times before
11/17 – Had won a Listed or Group class race
10/17 – Rated between 98 and 108
7/17 – Winning favourites
6/17 – Won last time out
5/17 – Ran at Ascot last time out
5/17 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
4/17 – Had run at Sandown before
The average winning SP in the last 11 years is 4/1

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3.35 –Betway Solario Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 7f16y ITV4

16/17 – Never raced at Sandown before
16/17 – Had won at least one race before
15/17 – Had won over 6 or 7f before
14/17 – Foaled in Jan, Feb or March
12/17 – Placed favourites
11/17 – Had 2 or more previous runs
11/17 – Won last time out
8/17 – Had won over 7f before
8/17 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
7/17 – Winning favourites
5/17 – Won by trainer John Gosden
Too Darn Hot (Evs fav) won the race 12 months ago
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 9/4


Beverley Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)


2.05 William Hill Silver Cup Handicap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 1m2f ITV4

10/10 – Returned 11/1 or shorter in the betting
10/10 – Never raced at Beverley before
10/10 – Had run in the last 6 weeks
8/10 – Drawn in stall 5 or lower
8/10 – Ran in the last 4 weeks
8/10 – Rated between 85-95
8/10 – Won over at least 1m before
8/10 – Finished fourth or better last time out
7/10 – Carried 9-0 or less in weight
7/10 – Won 2 or more times
6/10 – Irish bred
4/10 – Won last time out
3/10 – Winning favourite
2/10 – Trained by Richard Fahey
2/10 – Trained by Mark Johnston
2/10 – Trained by Karl Burke
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 6/1


3.15 – William Hill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 5f ITV4

13/15 – Winning distance 1 length or less
14/15 – Had 3 or more runs that season
13/15 – Had won over 5f before
13/15 – Unplaced last time out
13/15 – Won 3 or more times before
11/15 – Had won a Listed or Group race before
11/15 – Placed favourites
9/15 – Run at Beverley before (6 won)
4/15 – Aged 3 years-old
3/15 – Ridden by Tom Eaves
3/15 – Trained by Bryan Smart
3/15 – Winning favourites
2/15 – Trained by Ian Semple
2/15 – Trained by Dave Griffiths (last two runnings)
No winner from a double-figure draw in the last 13 runnings
9 of the last 13 winners came from stalls 1-4 (inc)
6 of the last 11 winners came from stalls 1 or 2
The horse from stall 9 has been placed in 7 of the last 13 runnings
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 7/1

Chester Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)

2.45 –
Sportpesa Chester Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 1m5f89y ITV4

16/16 – Won over 1m4f or further before
13/16 – Drawn in stall 7 or lower
13/16 – Had won 3 or more times before
13/16 – Winning distance 1 ½ lengths or less
12/16 – Aged 3, 4 or 5 years-old
11/16 – Returned 5/1 or bigger in the betting
10/16 – Carried 9-3 or less
10/16 – Placed favourites
9/16 – Placed last time out
9/16 – Ran at either Pontefract, Ascot or Goodwood last time out
7/16 – Had run at Chester before (3 won)
4/16 – Won last time out
3/16 – Winning favourite
2/16 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
1/16 – Winners from stall 1
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 11/2


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Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 4 Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 4 Preview, Tips

Friday at Glorious Goodwood - sorry, the Qatar Goodwood Festival - is one of my favourite day's racing in the entire calendar. It has the perfect blend of top class racing, a relaxed but social environment, a spectacular backdrop and, usually, good weather. I've been a regular visitor on this day for most of a decade but, alas, have had to forego such joys this year due to Mrs Matt's brother getting married. Most inconvenient!

To the races...

1.50 Oak Tree Stakes (Group 3, 7f, 3yo+ fillies/mares)

A huge field Group 3 where the seven furlong track bias will be in play. I was looking for a French filly to go with after the wins in 2015-17 by Francois Rohaut's femmes, and was leaning towards Devant at a massive price. But she has totally lucked out with the draw and looks very likely to be a sob story in the straight. I might still end up having 20p e/w on her, but stall 13 makes life very tricky.

The other French filly in the field is Rocques, drawn eight. She looked a progressive juvenile last season, culminating with a Group 3 win at Longchamp in the autumn, but has been flat as a crepe in three runs this term. Nevertheless, you have to wonder why she's been sent across la Manche if connections don't consider this appropriate. On the plus side, it's a drop in both grade and distance, and there might be enough there to legitimise an ambitious small tilt.

More obvious, and ostensibly better drawn, is Jubiloso from stall six. Her elevation from novice company to Group 1 Coronation Stakes for a trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, not known to rush his charges stuck out like a sore thumb last time and the half-sister to Frankel ran a blinder to finish third. She ought to have plenty more in the tank and is a worthy favourite, if a little short at sub-2/1.

Stall one has been victorious on six occasions since 1997, and that charmed berth will house Angel's Hideaway. Rab Havlin keeps the ride on a filly who has run well without winning a number of times this season, principally when fourth in the 1000 Guineas and third in the Jersey Stakes. From the plum draw she ought again to be in the shake up whilst perhaps being a little more exposed than some in the field.

And trap two has been blessed as well, which kind of makes sense, really, does it not? Since 1997, five winners exited this stall, meaning half of the 22 winners of the Oak Tree Stakes since 1997 were drawn 1 or 2. The 'Raif' Beckett-trained Blizzard will race from two on her second start as a four-year-old. Her final three-year-old run was a victory in a big field seven furlong Listed race at Fontainebleu, but she disappointed in a handicap on her sole spin this campaign. There's every chance she'll come on for the run but she's a good bit to find with a few of these even allowing for the advantage of her starting situation.

Those drawn six or lower have won all bar five of the 22 Oak Tree's since 1997. Beyond Reason, in stall three, is a Godolphin runner from the Charlie Appleby yard. She won twice in French Group company last term but was a little flat on her seasonal bow three weeks ago at Sandown. She has something to prove after that, though the drop back to seven and the kind draw are both positives.

Pretty Baby won this last year but she's been drawn very wide for her repeat bid. Stall 16 would be a new record for the widest winning draw and, even with hold up expert Jamie Spencer in the plate, it looks a box (or three) too far.

Seven furlong and Goodwood specialist, Billesdon Brook, is also parked wide, though perhaps not insurmountably so, in ten. She won the nursery on this card (in the picture at the top of this post) two seasons back before snaring a course and distance Group 3 later that year. Of course, she famously won the 1000 Guineas last year (beating Laurens no less) and ran with credit thereafter in G1 company, including in the Nassau here over a too-far ten furlongs.

Rated 115 at the start of the year she's now adjudged to be just 104. Thus she's gone from being the best filly in the race to the fifth best; at Goodwood, however, she can be marked up at least three or four pounds.

33/1 Lyzbeth is a heck of a price. Drawn five, she's stepping up from novice fare to a Group 3 - and a deep enough one at that - but the form of that last day triumph has been very well advertised (2nd, 3rd and 4th all won since, albeit in lower grade). On just her third outing she is entitled to improve again and she ought to get a prominent position. Whether she's good enough is another question entirely, but she's the wrong price if perhaps not massively so.

This is one of those races where the top five or six (or seven or eight) in the draw can be fairly confidently lobbed - cue 17/18/19 drawn trifecta! That makes for a bit of value about whatever you like inside, unless the draw theory comes unstuck, natch.

JUBILOSO is bred to be a champ and has shown a glimpse of such promise already. She is priced like a champ, too, and that's why I'm reluctantly, and perhaps foolishly, looking beyond her. That leaves a good number to go at. Billesdon Brook is my main each way and 'without' play. She has terrific course form, bundles of back class, and has been in fair form (at a slightly lower level) in recent times. 14/1 is fine.

Angel's Hideaway can give backers a run, but she's not for me this time even with the one stall. Rather, I'll be taking two further small flyers on Rocques (25/1, down in trip and class, presumably not sailed over for nothing) and Lyzbeth (33/1, upwardly mobile, unexposed, form decent from her last run).

It'll be an interesting race, for sure.

2.25 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (Group 3, 1m, 3yo)

This mile Group 3 for three-year-olds has a largely middling pedigree, truth be told. Last year's winner, Beat The Bank, may be about the pick from this century and, being generous, he could just be heralding a new dawn for the race. It's certainly true that there are a number of unexposed lightly-raced contenders in the Thoroughbred Stakes class of 2019.

Picking between them is tricky. Duke Of Hazzard is top on ratings, a Listed score over a mile last time coming on the back of fifth place in the G3 Jersey Stakes. That's fair enough form but no more, and it would be disappointing to think that one or two of his rivals - or indeed he himself - cannot better that.

Next on ratings are Turgenev, famously second when Frankie was racking up a huge accumulator at Ascot, and Duke Of Hazzard's closest rival last time, Momkin. The latter is consistent at around this grade without winning and he may again claim a minor piece of the pie. Turgenev ran to a good level and might, argue some though not me, have won the Britannia with a more measured ride. He's since finished fourth behind the Duke and Momkin and is another who is currently falling between handicap and minor Pattern class stools.

King Ottokar has a cocktail of Group race form, steady progression and in-form trainer which could see him go close. The Charlie Fellowes inmate was a good third to Sangarius in the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, and that stacks up well enough in this context.

Art Du Val is a dark'un: all thee of his runs since a Sandown novice win have come abroad. He followed up second in a Deauville Listed race (behind Duke Of Hazzard, where are the good French horses?) last backend with a Meydan score in February before victory in another French Listed heat, this time at Saint Cloud, completed his record to date. His pedigree - by No Nay Never out of a Rainbow Quest mare - offers mixed messages, as does his form profile. I have to let him beat me if he can.

Biometric is three from four, including being the stopper in that Britannia Handicap. Raised nine pounds for winning there, he's still only viewed as the seventh best horse in the field at this stage. That may underestimate his prospects, pretty much all of his form working out well. I like his tactical versatility and his upward profile.

I Could Do Better will have to live up to his name to enhance his unbeaten run to four career starts. He is tongue tied for the first time on this four grade rise. Turjomaan, likewise unbeaten in three (though DQ'd for being ineligible on the first of them), is another with plenty of potential most of which will need to be instantly fulfilled to win.

It's a tricky race and not one I especially like from a betting viewpoint: we have to make excuses or project forward across the entire field to make a case. Perhaps Biometric is worth sticking with. He has a combination of being almost unbeaten and having run to a rock solid level, with the promise of more to come. That makes 8/1 in a place, and 7/1 generally worth a small go.

3.00 Unibet Golden Mile Handicap (Class 2, 1m, 3yo+)

It may sound bonkers that the biggest draw bias race of the season is in a race run over a mile, but the Golden Mile Handicap - this very race - can lay a strong claim to match that billing. Twenty will face the starter, with the bottom seven stalls (after non-runners) having been responsible for 18 of the last 22 winners. That's 82% of the winners coming from 36% of the runners (+14.75). Looking at the places, 51 of the 88 placed horses (58%) came from that 36% of the runners.

And focusing on the inside three stalls (1-3) after non-runners gives us this:

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- 11 of 22 winners (50% of the winners from 16% of the runners, +34.25)
- 23 of 88 placers (26% of the placers from 16% of the runners)

Stay low. Or at least avoid high.

Here is the overall picture in all Goodwood 16+ runner fast ground handicaps over a mile (2009+, 'actual' draw, i.e. accounting for non-runners).

If you want to bet a high drawn horse you won't find any words of encouragement hereabouts. Focusing low to maybe middle, then, brings us first to the bottom three stalls.

Beat Le Bon has stall three and a progressive profile. Trained by Richard Hannon, he's won his last two, but his hold up style means he'll need plenty of luck up the paint - when any number are clambering over each other for a wider run, and lugging in to boot - to notch the hat-trick. It's a braver man than me backing Beat.

What's The Story is far more like it. Winner of a big field York handicap over a mile, he has a stalking run style and Keith Dalgleish has booked Goodwood expert (see Dirty Rascal, for instance) Tom Marquand for the gig. Stepping back from ten furlongs ought to see this five year old on the premises. 16/1 with bookies who won't take a bet and 14/1 with some who will is value.

Game Player, for the Varian team, exits stall one. He's been consistent this term including when a keeping on second over seven furlongs here two back and, if able to hold a position in the early fractions, he'll offer a run to his supporters.

Hannon has lucked in with the draw, his other entry, War Glory, getting stall four. This guy has been busy through the season so far, winning a nice pot at Chelmsford and running better than the bare result in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot. Disappointing in a brace of small field handicaps since, it could be that this return to a cavalry charge - and it's accompanying pace - suits him far better.

The favourite is Mojito, drawn nine. William Haggas's five-year-old was very well backed on his return from a year and a half off the track when winning nicely at Sandown four weeks ago, and Frankie retains the ride. Up only three pounds for that success, the question may be whether he 'bounces' second time after that marathon layoff.

Closest to Mojito at Sandown was Escobar, a regular in these big field mile handicaps. He's perennially on the premises without quite falling in, though he did pick up a relatively small prize last time at York. Stall twelve is far from ideal but shy of the death knell to his chance.

Afaak (14) and Clon Coulis (18), first and second in the Hunt Cup (I backed Clon, and was saying something similar to Afaaaaaak immediately afterwards), have tough posts and would be surprise winners in that context.

One at a bigger price whose form ties in well enough is Zhui Feng. Nominally weighted to reverse placings with Game Player on course running in May (7f), he is another who can normally be relied on to bring his game to the big handicaps. Seventh of 17 in the 2017 renewal of this race, when he led on soft ground before finishing less than four lengths behind the winner, he may hold out a little longer on expected quicker terrain from stall seven. 33/1 is chunky for all that he's pretty exposed.

A typically exciting race in prospect and I'm firmly of the view that a single figure draw is almost imperative. If I'm wrong about that, I'll have done my dough; if I'm right, I've halved the field at a stroke. The main one I want to be with is What's The Story. Ascendant this term, he's got a great draw and the right running style to take advantage of it. His rider knows the track well and 14/1 with the usual extra places is the way to go.

Mojito has fine prospects if replicating the level of his Sandown effort but there are reasons to doubt whether that's possible. I prefer chancing the May course form of Game Player and Zhui Feng at 14/1 and 33/1 respectively. There should not be that much between their respective prices: they are weighted to finish very close to each other and both are credible on draw and run style.

If you don't like betting three at double digit odds, you'll have to choose between that trio (or, obviously, back your own judgement). Me? I'll take three off the tee and cheer them all.

3.35 King George Qatar Stakes (Group 2, 5f, 3yo+)

BATTAASH just wins. And he should be a sight to behold.

What? You want more?

Well, OK...

On the form of his second in the Group 1 King's Stand at Royal Ascot last time, he wins.

On the form of his 2.5L win the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock two back, he wins.

On the form of his 3/4L fourth in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp three back, he wins.

On the form of his four length victory in this race last year, he wins.

He is miles better than these and, though I don't have enough three's to purloin a few more one's, the 1/3 is not in any way unfair.


4.10 Unibet Nursery Handicap (Class 2, 6f, 2yo)

From the sublimely certain to the perplexingly ridiculous.

Low draws - far side - have fared really well in this: eight of the last 15 winners exited stalls one to four.

Mark Johnston's Eton College is on a hat-trick having won a Brighton maiden and an Ascot handicap, and he'll bid to make all from trap four. There are lots of other pace angles, many of them from Johnston runners, but PJ McDonald may just be able to bounce and bag the far rail.

I'll not pretend I have a handle on this nursery form, so it's an educated guess on Eton College (geddit?!). No prices available at time of writing.

4.40 L'Ormarins Queen's Plate Glorious Stakes (Group 3, 1m 3f 218yds, 4yo+)

This is a race that always seems to struggle to pull a big field together, the last seven renewals failing to muster three paying places for punters. There will be no exception to that unwelcome rule here as just five go to post. Happily there is some quality in their midst, most notably last year's winner, Mirage Dancer.

A quick look at Instant Expert - which displays UK/Ire form lines only - reveals plenty about the Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of Frankel's affection for Goodwood, a track where his dad romped in the Sussex Stakes twice. Here, I've clicked on the 3's in the Course column for Mirage Dancer and, as you can see, it highlights the selected boxes and displays inline the relevant form lines. Which I have to say I think it pretty freaking neat 🙂

What it tells us loud and clear is that this horse is at home here, over this trip, on this ground and in small fields. He has to go close again, unless there are any wolves in sheep's clothing in opposition.

Closest of official figures (as can be seen from the blue right hand Rating 'T' (Today) column) is Desert Encounter. David Simcock's globe-trotting seven-year-old nabbed a massive pot when bagging the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine last October, picking up almost £300,000 on that transatlantic jaunt.

A subsequent stop off in Meydan was less lucrative, though he didn't return home empty-handed, and he has since taken a couple of spins to get back to his level since returning to these shores. The feeling is that he'll be gearing up towards another international mission this autumn though he does have one good run at the track, when second in the 2017 renewal of the Listed race won the last twice by Mirage Dancer.

Prince Of Arran is another to have been contesting away fixtures in his most recent runs, though they've not actually been that recent. He won a Grade 3 handicap at Flemington last November before backing up three days later with a superb third in the Melbourne Cup at the same track. There is a niggle in my mind that he's again being prepped for overseas battles ahead and he's overlooked on that basis.

Mark Johnston is doing his bit for field sizes again this week and turns Aquarium around three days after a fair effort in the opening handicap of the meeting. Although having enough to find on the book, he could be a lone pace angle against a quartet of 'after you Claude's'. In truth, that ought to set it up for one of those with a kick and a lick more class.

Baghdad completes the five. A prolific winner of valuable big field mile and a half handicaps, he'll find this gig quite different: there will be no strong tempo to finish off, no passage to negotiate through tiring horses. And, as he showed last time in a small field tactical Group 2, he probably doesn't have the turn of pace required for such a mission at this level. He'd not be for me this time.

This year's Glorious Stakes has the potential to be a muddling affair with no obvious pace angle. Aquarium is one of those rare Johnston horses which does not normally go forward, although of course he has led in his past. He remains the most likely leader in a quintet of reluctant front-rankers and he ought to set it up for one of Desert Encounter or MIRAGE DANCER. The latter has more compelling, if better advertised, claims to Glorious glory. He's unlikely to make you rich if completing the course four-timer.

5.20 TDN Australia Handicap (Class 3, 1m 3f 44yds, 3yo)

An impossible three-year-old handicap closes proceedings, as we are again asked to choose between any number of improving horses many of which are stepping up in trip and/or making their handicap debuts. At least we can use trainer records to assist.

One at which to take the smallest of speculative swipes against more fashionable connections might be Paul Cole's High Commissioner. As can be seen from the inline trainer form below, Cole is in very good recent form. As pertinent, however, is his record at the track and also an ability to win with handicap debutants.

Those comments apply to plenty of his peers in the training ranks of this field, but we're more likely to get a square price about our 'value loser' with the Commissioner; and that's the game in the long run.

It would be easy enough to make a case for almost the entire field such is the deeply competitive nature of this race, so pays your money and takes your choice. Or pass and wait for Saturday.


And that, I'm afraid, is the last of my previews this week. I tend to leave the Saturday Festival cards to braver/brighter souls and have a long lie down in a darkened room away from the glare of the screen which has been my (almost) sole companion for far too many hours in the preceding week.

I hope you've enjoyed the words and pictures I've shared over the four days, and perhaps even found a winner...!

Good luck,


Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 3 Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 3 Preview, Tips

Two days down, three to go at the 2019 Qatar Goodwood Festival, more affectionately known as Glorious Goodwood. The Thursday card has as its pinnacle the Group 1 Nassau Stakes, a mile and a quarter contest for fillies and mares. With the Group 2 Richmond Stakes and the Group 3 Gordon Stakes, a St Leger trial, in support it is another excellent card.

1.50 Unibet Handicap (Class 2, 1m 1f 197 yds, 3yo)

Another Unibet-sponsored handicap called the Unibet Handicap to kick us off, and if you're confused you're not alone. Still, it's the sponsor's prerogative I guess. Anyway, this is a ten-furlong three-year-old affair where, happily, most have a bit of form in the book.

The obvious place to start is Mark Johnston, who has won this race on seven occasions, the most recent of which was last year. He runs two this time, War Command and The Trader. Both ran at Newmarket's July meeting last time, the former contesting a mile handicap without much success. A feature of Johnston's seven winners has been that they all ran over a mile and a quarter-plus on their prior start. On that basis, The Trader might be the more playable of the pair, especially at an early 16/1.

He has failed to win in four 2019 starts but has been second in two of them, both over this trip and in this grade. Given his trainer's record, and Joe Fanning's ability from the front, he may take the son of Mastercraftsman to the front from stall two and bid to make all. He's a big price.

More obvious form contenders might be Walkinthesand, who had Korcho (second) and The Trader behind him when winning a class and distance handicap last time. He's been elevated another five pounds for that and, though progressive, he'll have to be good to win this off 110.

Korcho gets a two pound weight pull for a length beating but I'd not be at all convinced that will turn the form around, the weights and measures of British racing often failing the narrowly vanquished at the hands of classier rivals.

John Gosden runs Forest Of Dean with this eleven-week absent Iffraaj colt bidding to defy the layoff stats: only one of 93 horses to have been off the track for more than a month has won this contest since 1997. Forest Of Dean last ran in the high class London Gold Cup Handicap at Newbury where he was fourth to Headman (winner of a French Group 2 on his sole start since). Second there was Sinjaari, who himself has been away since running below par in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot. He never seemed to get going that day and is surely better than that; the 42 day rest is a minor reservation, however.

I'm not mad about Dalaalaat stepping up in trip, nor do I think this (probably) even paced ten furlongs will suit Almania who is cutting back from a mile and a half. But the Irish challenger, Wargrave, stepping up a furlong having stayed on well last time is worth a second glance. Running for the first time in a handicap, trainer Fozzy Stack has booked Jamie Spencer to do the steering. Spencer was on board when Wargrave was sixth in the German 2000 Guineas and is likely to deploy a more prominent run style than may be expected of the famously late delivering rider.

Ultimately, although this is normally won by a horse at a single figure price, I think The Trader is too big at 16/1. Walkinthesand could go in again but is priced accordingly, so I'll swing at that Johnston outsider and back him up with 14/1 Wargrave, both for small each way money.

2.25 Qatar Richmond Stakes (Group 2, 6f, 2yo)

A six furlong juvenile contest, with the horses finishing 2358 in the Coventry all showing up. The '2' in that string was/is Richard Hannon's Threat. The trainer made bullish statements prior to Royal Ascot and was only narrowly denied by a Coolmore's Arizona. With that rival not appearing here, the route looks clear for another bold bid in a race where Hannon has a fine record (won it in 2016 and 2014 from just six runners).

A neck and a place behind Threat in the Coventry was Guildsman, for whom this easier track might suit better. If that's the positive, the negative is that he's been beaten in the July Stakes since. In his defence, he didn't get the smoothest of passages there, and it might also be the case that he'd prefer a little juice in the ground. If that's right, things could set up ideally this time. As a Qatari-owned runner in the Qatar Richmond Stakes, you don't need to be Einstein to work out that he'll be primed for the gig.

The Clive Cox-trained Golden Horde was fifth in that previous match up but with few excuses. His trainer is in excellent form right now but I feel he might just lack the upside of some of these. Not a very scientific statement, I grant you, so egg on face may ensue!

Maxi Boy is the fourth from the Coventry to line up. Beaten four lengths in midfield there, he was stepped up to seven in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last time and ran well in third. He flattened out in the final furlong in a manner which suggested this return to six is favourable. Whether he quite has the toe of the top of the market I'm not sure.

David Probert rides Symbolize, who backed up a debut five furlong win with a fine fourth in the Windsor Castle. This is a step up in both class and distance which, while I hope he can bridge it, doesn't give him the credentials of some of his rivals.

It's always hard to peg two-year-olds in races such as these, but THREAT (5/2) does look a very smart and speedy colt. He perhaps needs to jump a little more alertly than he did at Ascot; if he does, he has a very good chance. Guildsman (5/1) is your 'each way bet to nothing' and there are worse (though probably not too many less imaginative) forecast plays than sticking this pair together on the same exacta ticket.

3.00 Qatar Gordon Stakes (Group 3, 1m 3f 218yds, 3yo)

The Goodwood Derby, as nobody has ever referred to this race. Ahem. It is, though, a mile and a half contest for three-year-olds only. Moreover, it has historically been a happy hunting ground for St Leger aspirants. That epithet may be a little uncharitable to a race which in recent times has produced such high calibre winners as Cross Counter, Crystal Ocean, Ulysses, Highland Reel, Noble Mission, Harbinger, Conduit and Sixties Icon. In many ways that's a more impressive alumni than the Derby itself!

As those who know their trainer onions from their tomatoes will immediately recognise from that list, Sir Michael Stoute is the man to follow, notching up seven Gordon's this century. It will come as a tonic to other handlers that SMS is unrepresented this time around. (No more cheap gin puns, I promise).

Aidan O'Brien has only sparingly used the Gordon Stakes a springboard, winning twice (Highland Reel, Yellowstone) - and placing with three more - from ten runners. He saddles the likely favourite, Constantinople, a ten furlong Group 3 winner before being beaten in a Royal Ascot handicap over this trip. In fairness, he should probably have won there, a stablemate climbing over the top of him at the death, and it was a progressive performance for all that it was in handicap company.

Constantinople is rated 110, as are Spanish Mission and Jalmoud. Spanish Mission has improved notably since stepping up in trip, first when second in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes here and then when running away with the Bahrain Trophy (Nayef Road four lengths second) at Newmarket. He looks capable of taking another stride forward and that course form is an added plus.

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Jalmoud has been campaigned largely in France this season, a forgettable last placed finish in the Queen's Vase aside. If you've been following my posts this week you'll know I'm not keen on the 2019 French form, British horses plundering seemingly at will. This lad is a case in point: he claimed a Listed prize in May before finishing second to Headman (British) in a Group 2 and then third to Japan (Irish) in a Group 1. In fairness, that latter effort - in the Grand Prix de Paris - looks solid in the context of this race; but he's had five runs already this year and lacks the scope of others.

Martyn Meade brings Technician, another to have won a Pattern race in France last time. He snaffled a Listed heat by a short neck but has more on here.

Two unexposed improvers are Dal Harrisgle and Leo De Fury. The first named has won the last three of four career starts, most recently in Class 3 handicap company. Clearly he has to leap forward to be competitive here, and being a son of Nathaniel he might be expected to appreciate the extra quarter mile. He doesn't lack pace and ought to stay so he's a lively dark horse.

Jessie Harrington has been in blistering form this year and sends unbeaten-in-two Leo De Fury across from Ireland. He's won a Curragh maiden and a little Navan race by five lengths apiece and retains 'could be anything' status. Quantifying his level of performance is tricky. What we can say is that after just two races he is likely to have more in the locker; and his trainer doesn't generally tilt at windmills.

It's a fascinating renewal of the Gordon Stakes if a hard one in which to peg the value. Perhaps the best combination of form in the book and ability to improve comes with Spanish Mission (9/2), and I'll take a chance on him at around 9/2 in a really intriguing contest.

3.35 Qatar Nassau Stakes (Group 1, 1m 1f 197yds, 3yo+ fillies/mares)

After the likes of Minding and Winter, we had a slightly sub-par renewal of the Nassau last term, and it could be the same again this time around unless dual Guineas winner, Hermosa, prevails.

She was highly impressive in beating 14 rivals in the 1000 Guineas by a length and more; and she was devastating in the Irish 1000 where she put four lengths into her closest pursuer, Pretty Pollyanna. It came as a shock when she was beaten in the Coronation Stakes at the end of what was a punishing triple Group 1 schedule. Having had six weeks away from the track, the daughter of Galileo (duh) stretches out to ten furlongs for the first time. She ought to see it out but that is not a given. Hermosa remains the pick of these on form and if she can replicate the Guineas level she'll win.

If she cannot do that, it's a much more open affair. Mehdaayih drops back in distance, having won a French Group 2 - can you spot a trend? - last time. Prior to that she was well enough beaten in the Oaks having been a ready winner of the Cheshire Oaks. She's not obviously needing a drop in trip and she's not shown herself to be Group 1 class yet. On those bases she's not for me, though connections are obviously respected.

The Prix de Diane (French Oaks) winner, Channel, comes across the, erm, channel to take on the Brits. That Group 1 is run over an extended ten furlongs so she's a distance (ish) G1 winner; but she is looking to buck a trend of French horses - three-year-olds in particular - being bashed up in their own jardins this term. The first six home there were separated by little more than a length with the only two British raiders, the 1-2 from a muddling Musidora, back in the ruck. While it is very likely she is the best French 3yo filly, it is also fairly probable that, in the European context, that is damning her with faint praise. Fair play and chapeau if she's good enough but I couldn't entertain her.

Maqsad reverts to the ten furlongs of the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes she won by five lengths (a further four lengths back to the third). That was immediately prior to travelling like the best filly in the Oaks before patently failing to stay the mile and a half there. She looks a progressive and classy filly and I'm somewhat surprised she's as big as 7/1.

It would not be a huge surprise if Rawdaa was involved in the finish either. She has run close seconds to Lah Ti Dar and Move Swiftly in Group 2 contests the last twice and this looks her trip. As a Sir Michael Stoute runner, she can be expected to improve over time.

Sir Michael also saddles Sun Maiden, a beautifully bred Frankel filly who is a half-sister to Midday, three-time winner of the Nassau for the late great Sir Henry Cecil. She has been steadily improving this term, going from a Group 2 placing to a Listed win to a Group 3 win, all at this ten furlong trip. Her form suggests she may not be as comfortable on good to firm as softer turf meaning any slight ease in the ground could be in her favour. She's a reasonable price - 12/1 - though others are preferred by this scribe.

Connections of the Japanese challenger, Deirdre, were somewhat undone by the soft ground at Ascot. Their mare is a lot better than she showed that day and, if it does ride on the quick side, she could go close to the frame. She was second in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup in December at this range.

It's a crackingly competitive renewal of the Nassau Stakes, with the clear form standard, Hermosa, looking to prevail at a longer trip after a disappointing run last time. She may very well bounce back but there is plenty of each way value in the race. My eye is drawn to MAQSAD (7/1): she was fiercely impressive in the Pretty Polly, travelled like the winner before failing to get home in the Oaks, and reverts to ten furlongs now. She's a very attractive each way play and perhaps even NAP material.

4.10 Telegraph Nursery Handicap (Class 2, 7f, 2yo)

A big field two-year-old handicap sounds like mission impossible. It may transpire as just that but history (provided by the excellent trends content at offers hope with the head of the market heading the field past the lollipop nine times in the last 22 years (and thrice in the last six years).

It is very hard to win from a high draw in a big field handicap over seven furlongs. In this race, all of the last fifteen winners were drawn nine or fewer from the rail (the two stall 10 winners came in fields where there were non-runners drawn inside them). Berths four to seven (seven of the last nine winners) seem ideal.

19 of the 22 winners since 1997 were handicap debutants. That accounts for most of the runners but still has a positive expectation.

Messrs Johnston and Hannon (plus dad prior to license handover) have bagged four of the last six, and plenty more before then (nine of the last 22). They collectively saddle five of the 17 this time. Johnston's Fred has won the last two of three career races, and steps into handicap company off a perch of 87. Fred's two victories came by an aggregate of 0.15 lengths (a head and a nose) making it tricky to peg his level. Drawn in stall seven he ticks the trendy boxes.

The same trainer's Governor Of Punjab has a very similar profile: a winner of both starts since a debut defeat, and most recently by a fine margin. He, too, has an encouraging draw, in five, and will be steered by Ryan Moore.

The final handicap first-timer in the golden draw segment is Indian Creak, ridden by David Probert. A slowish learner, he finally won at the fourth time of asking last time out on his first try at this seven panel range. He made all there to score by three lengths for which he has been elevated a reasonable-looking three pounds in the ratings. That gives him a lovely racing weight and a chance to be prominent throughout.

Pick of the Hannon pair may be Willa, a Dutch Art filly yet to win in her obligatory three runs prior to handicap bow. She's had a month off since the third of that trio of qualifiers and will jump from stall three.

Lots more with some sort of a chance, of course, but I'll pick from that shortlist. The market has proved a strong guide to the Telegraph Nursery winner. With no prices up at time of writing, I'm guessing that Fred will be close to the head of the lists but I'll take a chance with another well-drawn last day winner, Indian Creak. He was much the best on the tricky Epsom track and his trainer, Mick Channon, has 'previous' in the race, winning in 2015.

4.45 EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes (Class 2, 7f, 2yo)

Maiden. Fillies. Not for me.

One who will be primed is the Qatari-owned Hannon-trained unpronounceable Al Dawodiya (sounds like a Cockney geezer saying, "How do you do?"). Stereotypes and parochiality aside, she represents upwardly mobile stallion Gutaifan but is not ideally housed in 11.

Mark Johnston won this last year, and he tries again with a pair of fillies. Knowing nothing of the unraced African Swift, guesser's preference is for the once-raced Tulip Fields. Drawn in stall one she has a chance to attempt a repeat of her bid to make all last time. That ended in noble failure, a length second, and she'll be smarter for the experience.

The market will tell you what else is fancied. Frankly, I haven't a clue.

5.20 Tatler Handicap (Class 3, 5f, 3yo)

Here we go. A big field five furlong dash for three-year-olds only. Let's narrow things down a bit thanks to our friends at horseracebase. 20 of the 23 winners (including two in a dead heat) since 1997 ran top six on their previous start. Those off more than 60 days have not shown the requisite fitness. Just four winners since 1997 (from 68 starters) had never won previously at the distance: they have a negative expectation and are removed.

And yet we still have eleven of our 17 standing. Perhaps we ought to resort to the form... the problem with that is it is very hard (for me at least) to discern which of these has the best form.

I'll naturally be cheering David on Pink Flamingo. The horse has a chance: she's battled hardened, fit, stays further but has winning form at five, and is very consistent. The big field is a niggle but her unfashionable, though likeable, trainer Michael Attwater means he ought to be a fair price. She was bought out of Mark Johnston's yard for just £10,000 in March and has repaid that already, training fees notwithstanding.

Tinto also takes the eye. Winner over a fast five last time, the drop back to the minimum has eked out further improvement after a few unplaced efforts at six.

And a mention also for Amplify. Oisin Murphy takes the mount and will bid to get this front-ranker to the lead from the rail draw in 17. Although it will be a tough ask to repel 16 rivals, Amplify stays further and is clearly progressive having won a maiden over six prior to his handicap score over five last time. If he gets the start right he'll give supporters a run for their pennies.

Very difficult stuff to close and every chance I've failed to mention the winner.


I'm pinning a fair amount of faith in the non-staying Oaks filly this afternoon, a race which has the scope to define my wagering week. Yikes!


Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 2 Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 2 Preview, Tips

A cracking opening day produced a couple of winners for the preview, and some spectacular sport: Stradivarius doing what he does, and Pinatubo being epic.

Wednesday sees brings the Group 1 Sussex Stakes as well as a host of impenetrable handicap puzzles. Not a day for the wagering boots, but a few small interests might reward speculative players.

1.50 Unibet Goodwood Handicap (Class 2, 2m 4f 134 yds, 4yo+)

A loooong race to get us started and it was won by a looooong way last year as the super Lil Rockerfeller bolted up by no less than fifteen lengths! Sent to the front as the field raced away from the stands and up the track before taking the loop and skittling back down again, Silvestre de Sousa never saw another rival, a dose he'll surely look to repeat this time.

The problem is that this time he has a 17lb higher rating. Still it might not stop him if he can get a soft lead as he did last year. The likes of Dubawi Fifty and perhaps Mancini and Paddys Motorbike may fancy going forwards as well meaning he's less likely to get the run of things.

The Karen McLintock-trained Dubawi Fifty is interesting, with the jockey booking of Danny Tudhope catching the eye. Fourth in last year's Chester Cup, he was then second in the 2018 Ascot Stakes before reappearing on the level this season in the Northumberland Plate where only a head denied him victory. He's snuck up five pounds for those narrow reversals but still looks fairly treated and another bold effort is expected.

Rounding out the top three in the weights is this year's Ascot Stakes winner, The Grand Visir. His trainer, Ian Williams, is one of the shrewdest in the business and won this two years ago with Cool Sky; money for the top weight - just five pounds higher than when winning at Ascot - would be material. Williams also won the race in 2008 and 2014.

He also runs Zubayr, who looked rejuvenated for the change of stable when winning a competitive little handicap hurdle over this trip last time. Off his lightweight, he's the sort with which Williams could easily conjure another triumph in the day two opener.

Of those lower down the weights, Paddys Motorbike represents 2015 winning trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies. That year, Sands Of Fortune was another Goodwood Handicap winner to make all. As mentioned, there's a fair chance the trainer will ask his jockey to go forwards again, and there's also a fair chance of a contested lead early. Whoever wins that battle may win the race, if not guzzling too much benzine so to do.

Another worth a second look is the veteran Fun Mac: he will be saddled by Hughie Morrison, winner of this race in 2016. A hardy Cup horse in his prime, he's still competitive in staying handicaps as witnessed by his fifth of 15 in the Chester Cup and fourth of 19 in the Ascot Stakes this term. Most of a stone below his rating this time last year, he'd be a popular winner.

Loads more with chances in an open renewal.

From a betting perspective, the pace in the race will be pivotal - like it generally is in any race! The problem here is that it's unclear how things will pan out with any number of possible early leaders. My best guess is that SdS will kick Lil Rockerfeller on, with Dubawi Fifty and Paddys Motorbike snapping at his heels.

If that does happen, it could set up for a more patiently ridden entrant, and I'll chance my arm with two at prices for trainers who know this gig well: Zubayr (16/1) and Fun Mac. The former is an Ian Williams inmate, a handler for whom it is often the supposed second choice who prevails on these occasions. Fun Mac (14/1) is reliable and consistent, as well as high class, and might just have another day left in him.

It's just about 16/1 the pair, and the suggestion is each way with as many places as are available.

2.25 Unibet Handicap (Class 2, 1m 3f 218yds, 3yo)

Well this mile and a half three-year-old handicap really is towards the impossible end of the difficulty spectrum. Happily, the market has been a good guide in recent times with seven of the last nine (*convenient cutoff alert*) winners returning a single figure price.

Using the wisdom of the crowds to narrow things down is often a reasonable ploy - if you think your 20/1 fancy should be 6/4 it is an extreme likelihood that you are wrong - so let's go with that.

Sir Ron Priestley sits atop the ante post market for the race. He's won three of four this term, but all in small fields and his defeat was a heavy one in a bigger field at Royal Ascot. As a horse that likes to lead he'll do well to repel all challengers in the final quarter mile for all that he's clearly thriving on his racing and improving for it.

John Gosden and Frankie Dettori team up around the handicap debutant, Kosciuszko - easy for you to say! Google informs me the horse might be named after a Polish military leader or it might be named after an Australian mountain, which was in fact named in honour of the aforementioned soldier Pole. Given that he's a son of Australia, I'm going with the mountain.

After all that, it remains difficult to peg his level of ability, a mark of 91 not obviously being a gimme. Gosden's 19% hit rate with 'cap deb's is highly creditable but so is it highly unprofitable. Those up in trip for their cap deb win more often and lose less money but it is still not the way to play this race, I don't think... not that I'm presenting myself as in any way expert on the matter, you understand.

Hughie runs the progressive hat-trick-seeking Le Don De Vie. Not only has the son of Leroidesanimaux been progressive in performance, he has also stepped up in trip on each of his last two starts, from nine furlongs to ten furlongs and here up to twelve. He was a facile near-five length winner at Epsom last time, but that wasn't missed by the handicapper, who has whacked him ten pounds up the scale.

Durston has won over nearly two miles and then over a mile and a half on soft ground, both more exacting stamina tests than he's likely to face here. He's quite well fancied but isn't for me this time.

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Geegeez jockey, David Probert, is atop another hat-trick seeker in Tribal Craft. This lass won by twenty - yes, twenty - lengths last time at Pontefract. That was a three-horse race over this trip and she'd previously won by three lengths in a bigger field novice stakes at Salisbury. That novice win has worked out quite well and she's at the right end of the handicap.

My heart says Tribal Craft (14/1), but my head screams no bet!

3.00 Markel Insurance Molecomb Stakes (Group 3, 5f, 2yo)

Ah, the relative security of a juvenile Group 3 after the guess ups of the first two races!

The top of the market has a strong look to it as the unbeaten-in-two American raider, Maven, locks horns with John Quinn's three-from-four Liberty Beach. It is the second named who is favourite in the early lists, her easy win in the Listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown considered the pick of the form on offer. She's a pure speedball, as she showed in that Esher romp, and she can back that effort up with not one but two further pieces of rock solid form. On her second career start she won the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley, an effort she followed up with an excellent fourth to Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.

If there is one potential chink in Liberty Beach's armour, it is that her form has come on stiff tracks; this easy five may not entirely play to her strengths. If that is true, then step forward the Wes wunner, Maven. A winner by a thin margin in an Aqueduct maiden special weight, he was forced to abandon his tilt at the Norfolk due to the softening ground. Whilst it is not entirely inconceivable the same fate may befall him on Wednesday, the likelihood is that he'll line up. Since that Ascot absence he's taken in a Chantilly Group 3 where he made all on good to soft ground, just hanging on.

The stage is set, then, for Maven to bid to make all and Liberty Beach to attempt to mow him down. As simple as that? Well, not quite. There are eleven other juvies in the line up, all of them varying degrees of unexposed.

Clive Cox's Hand On My Heart might be the most interesting of them. The daughter of Iffraaj made all on her Windsor debut (5f, good to firm) and she is entitled to take a notable step forward on her second outing. Naturally she will have to in this rarefied company.

One at a price worth a second glance is Show Me Show Me. The Richard Fahey-trained son of Showcasing has been beaten in three runs since a debut success. But... he was held up in a Chester race that didn't pan out for him, was likewise seemingly unsuited by the turn at Pontefract behind Monoski next time before, reverting to a straight track, he ran a blistering second in the Weatherby's Super Sprint at Newbury.

At 20/1+, it is worth taking a small place punt that a fast run straight track five is what he needs.

A fascinating race is in store, with all of Maven, Hand On My Heart, Raahy, Dr Simpson and Wheels On Fire likely to vie for the lead. Wesley Ward runners normally prove to be the 'speed of the speed' and some of those others' chances may wilt in the heat of that perceived pace contention. Waited with, Maven having perhaps been softened up, will be the likes of Liberty Beach and Show Me Show Me (25/1). The former is no sort of price though she ought to finish best of all, and I'll take a tiny tickle of the Fahey flyer on the 'straight track pick up the pieces' angle.

3.35 Qatar Sussex Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 3yo+)

An intriguing rather than necessarily tip top Sussex Stakes and, with eight declared, we might just get three each way places if the win market doesn't appeal. The field is split down the middle between three-year-olds and older horses in a race which historically perennially went to the young guns. Indeed between 1999 and 2016, 12 of 18 winners emerged from the Classic clan. But three of the last four have been older horses, the most recent pair aged seven!

Where does that leave us? Ignoring age as a factor most likely... That said, closer inspection reveals that the twelve three-year-old winners since 1997 came from just 72 runners, with another 15 placing. That compares with ten winners from 100 runners for older horses (another 17 placing). The young ones still have an edge but it is not a terminal blow for mature horses.

One snippet is that all of those last 22 winners finished in the top three on their prior UK/Irish start. That's a knock for the Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Phoenix Of Spain. He could fare no better than sixth in the St James's Palace Stakes last time, behind both Circus Maximus and Too Darn Hot. Before that he'd been three lengths too good for Too Darn Hot at the Curragh so he may be better judged on that prior effort.

Circus Maximus is an improver. He ran an apparently middling race in the Derby, an effort that was sandwiched between victories in the Dee Stakes (1m2f) and at Royal Ascot. That most recent performance was at today's mile trip with the promise of more to come. There is little between Circus and Phoenix on both Ascot and Doncaster (Vertem Futurity) running, with the verdict 1-1 going into the Sussex.

Too Darn Hot also falls into the collateral form mix, via all of the St James's Palace, Irish 2000, and last year's Champagne Stakes. He has something to prove this season and I remain unconvinced by a colt whose 'redemption' thus far consists of little more than a hollow victory in France. There he beat the (Group 3) Jersey Stakes runner-up and the seventh from the St James's Palace. He beat them well, but he beat them over seven furlongs. Again, the stride boys have it that he's not a strong stayer so, while this is an easy enough mile, he's terribly short to beat horses who have beaten him earlier this term.

The older horses are represented by the last two winners of the Queen Anne Stakes, Lord Glitters and Accidental Agent. AA blotted his copybook last time when refusing to leave the stalls and, in spite of form credentials, that's the sort of horse that simply cannot be wagered next time out unless you have access to in-running facilities and wait to see whether he jumps or not.

While there was no fluke about Lord Glitters' win last month, he got the perfect storm there: a quick pace over a straight mile and a field collapsing into his lap. This race is likely to be significantly more measured in tempo and I believe it will take a horse that can accelerate rather than stay on.

The most attractive of the older horses could be Zabeel Prince. Yes, he's been duffed up in his last two starts - the Prince Of Wales's Stakes and the Coral-Eclipse - but prior to that he showed good form to win the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan over a mile at Longchamp. So, yes, that was another probably sub-standard French Group 1, but you need to be able to quicken to win them. It is his price that makes him reasonably appealing each way: 16/1 at his peak would be generous, but we have to buy into this setup enabling that peak performance.

Pace wise, it might be that one or both of Circus Maximus and Phoenix Of Spain look to go on. The likes of Too Darn Hot, Happy Power and Zabeel Prince will be in the stalking positions, with Lord Glitters, Accidental Agent and I Can Fly probably played late. In Jamie Spencer and Ryan Moore we have two jockeys who will not go bananas at the head of the peloton, so it may not pay to be too far back.

There is very little value to be had as far as I can see: the bookmakers know plenty about these guys and have priced it up accordingly. Even though I think Too Darn Hot is too darn short, he has his chance if seeing out the trip (he maybe just shaped like a non-stayer when not going through with his run in the St J P). I can see why Phoenix Of Spain is taking - presumably each way - support, as he looks like he'll get first run; and Circus Maximus likewise will have a chance to back up his Ascot success. But the latter pair are about the right price.

Almost by default, I want to look at the 'without' market and back Zabeel Prince each way without either Phoenix or Circus. After all that, it's going to be a no bet race, though, I fear.

4.10 Alice Keppel EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes (Class 2, 5f, 2yo)

A new race for two-year-old fillies, and one where most bring exposed form to the table. The pick of that form is Flippa The Strippa's Listed National Stakes win on her penultimate start. Since then she's run respectably when eighth of 25, beaten just four lengths, in the Queen Mary. This easy five is ideal for her and she'll handle ground either side of good.

Half a length in front of Flippa at Ascot was Mighty Spirit, a filly who has placed twice since including when she ought to have won at Beverley. She's got plenty of ability but is now a five race maiden with resolution doubts for me.

Mrs Bouquet is appealing. She has a bit to find on the two mentioned previously but has won her last two, in handicap company, and is progressing nicely. She's what might be termed the 'now filly', and has a bit more meat on her odds bone as well.

Archie Watson's Electric Ladyland was very fast in early season but others seem to have progressed past her now. She's not for me, while Daughter In Law has to bounce back from a flop in the Queen Mary. That's possible of course and 9/1 is reasonable if you think she can do that and step forward half a stride. I remain unconvinced.

And give a little cheer for another geegeez jockey, Mitch Godwin, who rides Glamorous Anna here. Mitch has had a very tough time, battling depression last year, but has turned a corner in 2019 with a new role at Harry Dunlop's and becoming a father last month. This filly, trained by Carl Mason, may not be quite up to the grade, but I'm thrilled to see Mitch on the big stage. He's a good lad and a decent rider when given the opportunity.

Overall, it'll be no surprise to see Flippa The Strippa revert to winning ways: she ran well at Ascot and is a Pattern race winner over five already. But at almost twice the price, MRS BOUQUET (4/1) is worth a go. On the hat-trick here, she represents Mark Johnston whose love for Goodwood is well known. It could just be a winning combination.

4.45 British EBF Premier Fillies' Handicap (Class 2, 1m 1f 197yds, 3yo+)

Sorry, too difficult. Lots of unexposed fillies, and I don't have a close enough handle on the speed figures to differentiate between them. I'll be cheering David Probert and 8/1 Ocala, but I don't know if she's the best or even the best value filly in the field.

5.55 New & Lingwood Handicap (Class 3, 7f, 3yo+)

The IV3 chart and draw/pace heat map below tell plenty about where to focus - or rather where not to focus - in this twenty runner dust up.

Quite simply, it is VERY difficult to win in bumper fields from a high draw, regardless of run style. Even making the frame can be considered success, as can be seen from the red bar above. Low to middle and front rank, or low with any run style, offers the best chance of a placed effort.

Dirty Rascal (16/1) has stall one, a prominent racing style, a light weight and consistent form in the grade and at the trip. The Hannon/Marquand axis is a potent one, too, and this fellow ought to be thereabouts again, though he does find winning difficult.

Frankie Dettori may be able to steer Lyndon B (6/1) into contention: he's drawn four, has decent maiden form in big fields, is a last time out winner (on handicap debut), and can go forward.

Another dozen or so more with chances, but in a race not obviously awash with pace, the above two against the field is how I'm rolling.


It's a day when I don't have a strong opinion so let's hope we're lucky as well as maybe a bit good...!

Good luck,


Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 1 Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2019: Day 1 Preview, Tips

Peak summer as July morphs into August means a sumptuous week on the Sussex Downs for relaxed high society, strawberries and cream, views the envy of every track in the land and, of course, five days of classy and compelling racing.

The weather for the week looks changeable, agonising territory for both meteorological and equine forecasters, though the meeting is likely to start just on the quick side of good. Here are some thoughts on the opening skirmishes, on Tuesday.

1.50 Unibet Handicap (Class 2, 1m 1f 197 yds, 4yo+)

A mile and a quarter older horse handicap with 18 declared: start as we mean to go on, eh?

Mark Johnston has a remarkable record in the race, and indeed at the entire Festival, winning this opening prize six times, albeit from a whopping 37 starters. He's added substance to that record with a further nine placed runners meaning anything 'Always Trying' saddles in the opener commands respect.

Johnston has done the decent thing this time, only entering two, Aquarium and Ventura Knight. Both are hardy stalwarts that have been kept busy hitherto in 2019, and I've backed the former a couple of times. Although I've not collected he has run better than his finishing position suggested and may again go well.

Stablemate Ventura Knight has Ryan Moore booked but has a habit of finding one or two too good. He may again be on the premises for minor money.

Cieren Fallon takes five pounds off the in form Saeed bin Suroor's Mountain Hunter. The five-year-old won a couple of valuable handicaps in Meydan in the Spring and might just be back on UK time now. He has top weight but is not out of it.

Also in the Godolphin blue is Setting Sail, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by James Doyle. He's been consistent and progressive this season, going up four pounds for a career best in a valuable York handicap last time. He may not have stopped improving yet but that extra impost could mean he's more poorly handicapped than some.

I'll take a chance on Alan King's BERINGER (15/2). Campaigned at a mile for most of his career, he finished very well over ten furlongs to finish a narrow second at Sandown last time. He was second over course and distance last season and, though his hold up style means he'll need to be lucky as well as good, he'll be playable each way with as many extra places as you can find.

2.25 Qatar Vintage Stakes (Group 2, 7f, 2yo)

A race that revolves around the trumpeted Visinari. Hyper-impressive when blitzing his field on debut, he was a little flat last time out. That was in the six furlong July Stakes and he is expected to improve for this extra furlong. His long stride has been lauded as 'freakish' by Simon Rowlands, something of an expert on such matters, and that other deep thinker of the game (and somewhat under-rated on-course presenter) James Willoughby has also pinned his colours to the Visinari mast.

I'm a believer, for now. The Visinari of that opening day romp wins just about any race he steps into this season; the Visinari of the July Stakes will find one or more too good all season. 3/1 fails to adequately reflect the upside in my view, though you do need to be forgiving by nature.

It is not a shallow race, however. The previously equally well-touted Lope Y Fernandez represents Ballydoyle, his second in the seven furlong Chesham Stakes being at the hooves of Pinatubo, who also shows up.

Pinatubo has gone from Wolverhampton to the Woodcote to a wondrous Ascot effort this season, and he fair ran away with the Chesham. This easier seven ought not to be a problem given how he coped with Epsom's six, nor ought the uneven nature of the track. He's a worthy favourite if you're not convinced by talk of strides and cadence.

Lope Y Fernandez was well enough beaten at Ascot but may improve again for the run, which will be his third versus Pinatubo's fourth. Still, on the face of it, it is difficult to see those tables being turned.

And still there is more depth. Mystery Power is a Kingpower colt trained by Richard Hannon that has gone from a Haydock maiden to a Group 2 win at Newmarket in a brace of runs. Both were over this range, the maiden working out nicely with second and third winning since (nine lengths back to the fourth). He would be the each way angle but for the dreaded seven runner curse hanging over the field.

Clive Cox's (Alan Spence's, more correctly) Positive brings an unbeaten-in-one record to the party. He was very impressive in putting five lengths between himself and his closest rival that first day and, while much more is needed here, he is potentially smart.

It's a fascinating renewal of the Vintage Stakes, as it should be with such unexposed juveniles, and I'll hold a candle for VISINARI (3/1) once more in what may be more of a watching than wagering race. Mystery Power (13/2) is probably a tad over-priced as an unbeaten Group 2 distance winner.

3.00 Qatar Lennox Stakes (Group 2, 7f, 3yo+)

The same trip but for three-year-olds and up, the Lennox looks arguably a little shy of Group 2 class this time. Most of the field are older horses unlikely to lurch forwards in performance terms and a number have already shown themselves to be not quite at the requisite standard any more.

The exceptions, unsurprisingly, are the three at the head of the market, and it would be more a disappointment than a shock were they not to lay claim to the Lennox between them.

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Favoured as I write is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Zaaki, who was just touched off in a Group 2 at Ascot last time. That was over a mile and therein lies the problem with this typically late-maturing chap: all of his best form has come at distances of eight furlongs and beyond. That allied to a hold up run style means that, while he may well be the best horse in the race he is probably not the best suited horse to the race conditions.

Fellow four-year-old Hey Gaman has the same season string of 112 as Zaaki, and represents the eminently capable James Tate. This son of New Approach, out of a Dubawi mare, has been transformed by a drop to seven furlongs this campaign, winning in Listed company at Leicester and then in a Longchamp Group 3. There was little disgrace in running second to Romanised in a Curragh Group 2 last time, that one being a bona fide Group 1 horse on his day. Hey Gaman is sure to be well suited by seven and top of the ground and may be the one Zaaki has to chase down.

The likeliest lads are completed by Space Traveller, game winner of the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. That was at this distance but he needed every yard in a truly run race to prevail on that more searching strip. Such reservations about this quicker piste are allayed somewhat by Richard Fahey's Bated Breath colt's prior form at six panels. He gets a seven pound weight for age allowance as a three-year-old, but his peers have not fared terribly well in recent years (1/13, 3 further places, from a group which included four favourites or joint favourites, and ten sent off at single-figure odds).

Of the more exposed brigade, Suedois is hard not to like. He's picked up Pattern placed purses on each of his last nine runs, and has been second and third in the last two renewals of this race. At eight years of age, he's not getting any faster, but he does know the route from stalls to jam stick better than most around these parts.

Sir Dancealot is the minister without portfolio in this field. He's lived up to his name, dancing a lot and mostly at Group 1 level in recent times; but he's been shy of the required standard at six furlongs and a mile. In his defence, his best form seems to be at seven as he demonstrated when winning this race last season. As well as that G2 score, he was a close up fifth in the G1 Prix de la Foret last autumn and won the G2 Hungerford Stakes in between. It might then be argued that he's been campaigned at the wrong distance, a line I'm sure his trainer David Elsworth will utter should Sir Dancealot double up.

There are old friends like Breton Rock and Flaming Spear down the lists but it is hard to see them being good enough.

It's a tricky race and I'm coming round to Sir Dancealot (13/2) being the value, but I just prefer the less exposed Hey Gaman (4/1). I'll probably split my stake between them 65/35 or thereabouts in favour of James Tate's runner.

3.35 Qatar Goodwood Cup Stakes (Group 1, 2m, 3yo+)

The feature race of the day and, historically, of the meeting is the Goodwood Cup. Two miles are traversed, up around the loop, and then back down into the straight.

The favourite is that magnificently consistent stayer, Stradivarius, trained by that magnificently consistent handler, John Gosden. He's won this race the last two years and is heading towards the sort of immortality reserved for the likes of Yeats and Double Trigger in recent times. Indeed, his two Goodwood Cup victories form part of an eleven race Pattern string which has seen him unbeaten in his last seven, including three Group 1's (and another, in this race, prior to two 3rd place efforts in 2017).

In spite of his invincibility through two seasons he can be backed at not far short of even money (8/11 to be precise). The most likely reason for this, given he's beaten his three closest market rivals and not raced against the rest, is that he never wins by very far. Indeed, those seven straight victories Stradivarius brings back to the Sussex party have been won by an aggregate of just nine lengths. That's an average of one and a quarter lengths.

In other words, he gives the appearance of being beatable. But he's tenacious and always seems to find enough. That trait makes him tremendously likeable and he is by far the most probable winner.

Re-opposing after defeat in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot (two and a half miles, soft ground) are both Dee Ex Bee and Cross Counter. Dee Ex Bee was stepping up from Group 3 company to take silver that day, running a career best in the process. But he looked to have a better run of things there than fourth placed Cross Counter who was given a huge amount to do and finished very strongly in difficult circumstances.

Cross Counter's CV includes wins in the Melbourne Cup and the Dubai Gold Cup, with his domestic form as a three-year-old last term including a Group 2 win over Dee Ex Bee in the Gordon Stakes (1m4f) here. I confidently expect him to reverse form with the Johnston runner and prove the biggest threat to Stradivarius.

Of the rest, Southern France seems to need a lot to go right for him and may simply not be up to this. He was a fairly close second to the favourite in the Yorkshire Cup early this season but looks a touch flattered by that run (1m6f).

Wells Farrh Go is marginally more interesting. There's no doubt Tim Easterby's four-year-old enjoys it around Newmarket's July course and his front-running style could be well suited to this track also. The challenge there is that one or both of Dee Ex Bee and Dashing Willoughby may also want to go forward.

Dashing Willoughby is one of a trio of three-year-olds, an age range with a weak record in this contest historically. Aside from Stradivarius - who has shown the calibre of Classic generation entry required to prevail - we have to go back to 1990 and Lucky Moon to find the next winner of that age. Just three 3yo's since 1973 have beaten their elders in the Goodwood Cup and that frames the uphill challenge Willoughby, South Pacific and Harpo Marx face.

The latter is very likely in as a pacemaker, which could compromise the chances of either or both of Dee Ex Bee and Wells Farrh Go, but South Pacific is not completely discounted despite being 28/1 in a place. He cost a million euros as a yearling and stayed on best of all to win the mile and a half King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot last time. A later developer with a stout enough pedigree, he wouldn't be the worst each way bet in the race and might prove the pick of his peer group.

It's a cracking contest in prospect, and one where STRADIVARIUS will obviously take a lot of beating. CROSS COUNTER (4/1) however looks a rock solid each or 'without the favourite' bet, and South Pacific (28/1) might reward small Hail Mary each way players. I'm really looking forward to this one.

4.10 Maiden Stakes (Class 2, 6f, 2yo)

You're on your own here...

4.45 Chelsea Barracks Handicap (Class 2, 5f, 4yo+)

That's more like it. 14 runners over five fast furlongs. Although there is not a lot of evidence with which to work, those drawn widest have struggled in similar contests, as have those held up.  It may be worth noting that, since 2010, only one winner has returned a single figure price, with the average winning odds in that time being a little over 18/1.

Harry Hurricane looks a probable to lead the charge, and he may take some catching on a track where he nearly won in May. 'Nearly' is the thing with this lad, though: four wins from 51 careers starts but a further 16 placed efforts underlines that suspicion.

Mick Appleby's Saaheq looks to have solid form claims on his Scottish Sprint Cup win - just four pounds higher here - but the yard is not in the best of form at the moment.

Dark Shot is a consistent performer who tends to find one too good: he's finished second six times since his last win, which was 25 runs ago. Less exposed and perhaps more enticing is the filly Maygold. A winner of four of her 14 starts, she's been in the frame on five further occasions. Her record in five furlong handicaps is 2113631241 including one over this course on good ground, her only previous visit to the track.

Another to note is Lord Riddiford, who won the 3yo equivalent race, the Tatler Handicap, at last year's meeting. Just four pounds higher here, this race will have been the plan for a while. He's drawn high enough in eleven, however, and that tempers enthusiasm.

It's good to have a 'cliff horse' or two: an animal that you know is going to bleed you of your bankroll but which you simply cannot leave unbacked. Mine for this season is currently Line Of Reason. He's high class but probably ideally wants five and a half furlongs. If he hasn't slid too far down the handicap, he might have a chance in the Portland in September; but I'll have to back him (again) here for reasons of cranial malfunction more than current form.

Koditime has fallen a long way in the ratings - back to his last winning mark in fact - and Count Otto was an easy winner over six last time for a trainer who resides nearby and loves a Goodwood winner. Both are candidates for what is quite a long shortlist.

And then there's the quirky but capable veteran Muthmir. Now nine, he has an excellent head to head record with those in the field against which he's previously raced, as can be seen below:

It's interesting/painful to note that nine of those 19 out of 21 head to head 'wins' are against my mucker, Line Of Reason!

Plenty of chances in a terrific little sprint handicap. With Ed Walker's team in such fine form, I'll take a chance on the filly, Maygold, each way.

5.15 Unibet Fillies' Handicap (Class 3, 1m, 3yo+)

Day One closes with a fillies' handicap over a mile. In bigger fields, low draws tend to be favoured over a mile but this is not as big a field as some of the mile handicaps this week, and I'd not completely dismiss a wider drawn filly.

It is a devilishly difficult race and, as the seventh of the afternoon, one in which us multi-race place/win players need not fret. That is my 'get out of jail free' card and I'll deploy it. Too difficult.

If you really insist - you shouldn't, for your pin will be at least as adequate as mine - the most token of token selections is 'Raif' Beckett's Chaleur. Beckett won the inaugural running in 2016 and all three winners to date have been three-year-olds. This three-year-old filly will have come on for her seasonal reappearance at Newmarket a fortnight ago and has a workable middle draw.

Good luck,


Sat TV Trends: 8th June 2019

Another busy Saturday of horse racing ahead with this weekend's LIVE ITV4 coming from Newmarket, Beverley and Haydock - we've NINE LIVE races across the three venues with the Hilary Needler Trophy (Beverley) and the Group Three John Of Gaunt Stakes (Haydock) two of the highlights.

As always, we’ve got all the LIVE races covered from a trends and stats angle – use these to help narrow down the field and find the best profiles of past winners.


Saturday 8th June 2019

Newmarket Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)

2.10 – Bentley Cambridge Handicap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 7f ITV4

Two previous runnings
Trainer Mick Channon won the race last year
Last two winners drawn in double-figures
Trainer Andrew Balding has a 29% record with his 3 year-olds at the track
Trainer Brian Meehan has a 25% record with his 3 year-olds at the track


2.45 – Bernard Sunley Memorial Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 1m6f ITV4

Two previous runnings
Amazing Red won this race 12 months ago
Trainer Ed Dunlop won this race in 2018
Trainer Mark Johnston won this race in 2017
Trainer Mark Johnston has a 28% record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has a 25% record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Ian Williams has a 24% record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Andrew Balding is just 1 from 30 with his 4+  year-olds at the track


Haydock Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)


1.45 Betway Middle Distance Handicap Cl3 (3yo) 1m4f ITV4

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One previous running
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has a 38% record with his 3 year-olds at the track
Trainer William Haggas has a 30% record with his 3 year-olds at the track
Trainer John Gosden has a 27% record with his 3 year-olds at the track
Jockey Frankie Dettori has a 31% record riding 3 year-olds at the track


2.25 Betway Pinnacle Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m3f ITV4

16/16 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
14/16 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
13/16 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
13/16 – Rated 92 or higher
12/16 – Placed favourites
12/16 – Had won over 1m4f before
12/16 – Aged 4 years-old
11/16 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
9/16 – Drawn in stall 5 or lower
6/16 – Had run at Haydock before
5/16 – Winning favourites
4/16 – Won last time out
2/16 – Trained by Roger Varian
2/16 – Trained by John Gosden
2/16 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 11/2


3.00 Betway Achilles Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (3yo) 5f ITV4

10/10 – Returned 14/1 or shorter
9/10 – Aged 5 or older
9/10 – Had raced in the last 10 weeks
9/10 – Won between 6-8 times before
9/10 – Didn’t win last time out
9/10 – Had won over 5f before
8/10 – Drawn between stalls 2-7 (inc)
7/10 – Had run at the course before
7/10 – Winning distance 1 length or less
7/10 – Had finished in the top 5 last time out
5/10 – Unplaced favourites
5/10 – Winning favourites
2/10 – Trained by William Haggas
The average winning SP in the last 9 runnings is 13/2


3.35 Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 7f ITV4

15/16 – Rated 107 or higher
15/16 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
14/16 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
13/16 – Came from the top three in the betting
13/16 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
13/16 – Had won over 7f before
11/16 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
11/16 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
11/16 – Drawn in stall 3 or lower
10/16 – Had won at least 4 times before
9/16 – Favourites placed
5/16 – Had run at the track before
4/16 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
3/16 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/16 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
2/16 - Aged 9 years-old
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 7/1


Beverley Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)

1.25 Dadie Oughtred Memorial Handicap Cl3 (3yo+ 0-95) 7 1/2f ITV

No previous runnings
The Richard Hannon yard have a 42% record with their runners at the track

2.00 Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies’ Conditions Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl2 (2yo) 5f ITV

12/14 – Had raced in the last 5 weeks
11/14 – Had won over 5f before
11/14 – Had won just once before
11/14 – Irish bred
10/14 – Had raced in the last 2 weeks
10/14 – Had raced between 1-2 times before
8/14 – Won last time out
7/14 – Placed favourites
5/14 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
3/14 – Trained by Kevin Ryan
3/14 – Raced at York last out
3/14 – Winning favourites
2/14 – Trained by Tim Easterby
2/14 – Ridden by Jamie Spencer
1/14 – Winners from stall 1
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 13/1
The last 9 winners drawn 9 or lower
7 or the last 9 winners were foaled in Feb or March
7 of last 10 winners have been drawn in stalls 6-9 (inc)


3.15 Truckingby Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Colts & Geldings Cl2 (2yo) 5f ITV

10/10 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
10/10 – Feb, March or April bred
10/10 – Drawn in 6 or lower
8/10 – Raced in the last 4 weeks
8/10 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
8/10 – Won over 5f before
8/10 – Won at least once before
7/10 – Favourites placed
7/10 – Had raced twice or more
6/10 – Irish bred
6/10 – Won last time out
5/10 – Winning favourites
4/10 – Drawn in stall 1
3/10 – Trained by Mick Channon
The Richard Hannon yard have a 43% record with their 2 year-olds at the track
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 10/3



Trainers Quotes



Victoria Cup Handicap 2019: Video Preview

In this week's Geegeez Gold video showcase, I attempt to deconstruct the 27-runner Victoria Cup handicap at Ascot. Using a variety of tools in the Gold kit bag, I land on two horses which look to have robust each way prospects. Grab a glass/cup of something tasty, and click the video box below to tune in...

[Naturally, if you like what you see, you might want to JOIN GEEGEEZ GOLD]

Lingfield TV Trends: Good Friday (19th April 2019)

ITV4 are at Lingfield Park this Good Friday (19th March 2019) to show SIX races from the lucrative All Weather Championships Meeting – Finals Day – and here at we’ve got it all covered for you!

There are plenty of the power-house flat stables bringing horses to the Surrey track and it’s no surprise with mouth-watering prize money on offer, including £124k for the winner of the feature race – the Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championship Conditions Stakes.

Like all big race days we take a look at all the LIVE races from a trends angle, including the best positive and negative trainer/jockey stats – we hope they help point you in the direction of a few winners!




1.30 – Sun Racing All Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap Cl2 (4 yo+) 7f SKY

Two previous runnings
Trainer Simon Dow won the race in 2017
Last two winners came from stall 1 and 5
Last two winners carried 8-13 or more in weight
Trainer Richard Spencer has a 40% record (4 from 10) with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Robert Cowell has a 27% record (8 from 30) with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Tom Dascombe has a 25% record (16 from 65) with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Nick Littmoden has a 23% record (7 from 31) with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Jockey Cameron Noble has a 27% (4 from 15) record riding 4+ year-olds at the track
2018 Winner: TAKE THE HELM (8/1)

2.00 - Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes Cl2 (4 yo+) 1m7f169y ITV4

Five previous runnings
All five winners aged between 4-6 years-old
4 of the last 5 winners came from stalls 8 or lower
3 of the last 5 winners had won at the track before
2 of the last 5 favourites have won
2 of the last 5 winners came from stall 8
2 of the last 5 winners ran at Lingfield last time out
All five past winners finished in the top 3 last time out
The favourite has finished 1st (twice) or 2nd in the last 5 runnings
Watersmeet was second in the race in 2017 and third in 2018
Trainer Neil King has a 42% record (5 from 12) with this older horses at the track
Trainer Seamus Durack has a 29% (7 from 24) record with his older horses at the track
Trainer James Fanshawe has a 25% (9 from 36) record with his older horses at the track
Trainer Nick Littmoden has a 23% (7 from 31) record with this older horses at the track
Trainer Mark Johnston has a 23% (22 from 96) record with this older horses at the track
Jockey James Doyle has a 29% (11 from 38) record riding older horses at the track
Jockey Joe Fanning has a 22% (+42) record riding older horses at the track
2018 Winner: FUNNY KID (7/2)


2.30 – Ladbrokes All weather Fillies’ and Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes Cl2 (4 yo+) 7f1y ITV4

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Five previous runnings
Just 1 winning favourite in the last 5 runnings
4 of the 5 winners were aged 4 years-old
4 of the last 5 previous winners were Irish-bred horses
Horses from stall 3 have been placed in 4 of the last 5 runnings (2 winners)
Favourites placed in 4 of the last 5 runnings
3 of the last 5 winners had run at Lingfield before (2 had won)
4 of the last 5 winners finished in the top 4 last time out
Trainer William Haggas has a 27% record (7 from 26) with his older horses at the track
Trainer James Fanshawe has a 25% record (9 from 36) with his older horses at the track
Jockey James Doyle has a 29% record (11 from 38) with his older horses at the track
2018 Winner: DIAGNOSTIC (7/2 fav)

3.05 – Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes Cl2 (4 yo+) 6f1y ITV4

Five previous runnings
Trainer Richard Fahey won this race in 2014, 2016 & 2017
Two winning favourites in the last 5 runnings
3 of the last 5 winners were Irish-bred horses
4 of the last 5 previous winners had raced at the track before
4 of the last 5 winners came between stalls 5-9 (inc)
All five winners drawn in stall 7 or lower
Paul Hanagan has ridden 2 of the last 5 winners
2 of the last 5 winners came from draw 5
Trainer Tom Dascombe has a 25% (16 from 65) record with his older horses at the track
Trainer Robert Cowell has a 27% (8 from 30) record with his older horses at the track
2018 Winner: CITY LIGHT (8/1)



3.40 – Ladbroke 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes Cl2 (3yo) 6f ITV4

Two previous runnings
Last two winners came from stalls 5 and 6
Both previous winners were favourites
Trainers William Haggas (2017) and Archie Watson (2018) have won the race before
Trainer William Haggas has a 23% (15 from 66) record with this 3 year-olds at the track
Trainer Hugo Palmer has a 21% record (13 from 62) with his 3 year-olds at the track
Trainer Archie Watson has a 20% record (10 from 50) with his 3 year-olds at the track
Jockey Ryan Moore has a 36% (14 from 39) record riding 3 year-olds at the track
Jockey James Doyle has a 32% (18 from 57) record riding 3 year-olds at the track
2018 Winner: CORINTHIA KNIGHT (5/4 fav)


4.15 - Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships Conditions Stakes Cl2 (4 yo+) 1m2f ITV4

Five previous runnings
All five previous runnings went to the favourite (or joint fav)
All five previous winners returned 3/1 or shorter in the betting
All previous winners aged between 4-6 years-old
3 of the 5 winners were Irish-bred horses
All five winners ran at Lingfield last time out
All five previous winners drawn in stall 4 or lower
4 of the past 5 winners had won over CD before
Horses from stall 4 have won 3 of the last 4 runnings
Horses from stall 2 placed in 3 of the last 5 runnings
Ryan Moore has ridden 2 of the last 5 winners of this race
Trainer William Haggas has 27% (7 from 26) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Mark Johnston has 23% (22 from 96) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer John Gosden has 22% (6 from 27) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Jockey Frankie Dettori has a 38% (5 from 13) record riding older horses at the track
Jockey James Doyle has a 29% (11 from 38) record riding older horses at the track
2018 Winner: VICTORY BOND (3/1 jfav)


4.45 – Sun Racing All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes Cl2 (4 yo+) 1m1y ITV4

No winning favourite in the last 5 runnings
All previous winners aged between 5-8 years-old.
All five past winners drawn 8 or lower
All five winners came between stalls 5-8 (inc)
4 of the last 5 winners didn’t win their last race
4 of the last 5 winners had run at the track before (2 won)
2 of the last 5 winners came from stall 8
Trainer Richard Spencer has a 40% (4 from 10) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Mark Johnston has a 23% (22 from 96) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Tom Dascombe has a 25% (16 from 65) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Roger Charlton has a 21% (4 from 19) record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
2018 Winner: LUCKY TEAM (40/1)


Trainers Quotes





Festival Reflections 2019

The stands have once again fallen silent after four breathless days of racing on Cleeve Hill, and the Cheltenham Festival 2019 is now confined to the memory banks and the history books. It was a captivating, challenging, emotional roller coaster of a week; these are my Festival reflections.

Champion Hurdler?

In the build up to the opening day, pundits and punters alike were relishing a duel between Apple's Jade and Buveur d'Air - or in some cases a three-way-go including Laurina - but what came to pass was one of those everyday 'you couldn't script it' scenarios for which racing's glorious uncertainty is known.

First, Apple's Jade was taken on at a helter-skelter lick by Melon, her chance seemingly compromised by this manoeuvre as she faded tamely into sixth. Meanwhile, reigning two-time champ, Buveur d'Air - with his trademark slick low jumping - took a liberty, and a consequential tumble, at the third flight. In so doing, he brought down Sharjah.

With the top two out of the race, as well as one of the key form line horses, surely it was Laurina's Champion Hurdle to lose? Lose it she did, the talk of her ascendancy proving some way wide of the mark. She was the only one of the supposed main three that had the chance to run her race, and she failed big time on this step up in grade. No obvious excuses there.

For Apple's Jade, it was a fourth visit to Cheltenham and a third defeat at a track where she seems to be beset by misfortune whether it's being in season, getting compromised on the lead or something else. It is not unreasonable to assume, given the full body of her work, that she is unsuited by the track.

And what of the winner and the placed horses? Espoir d'Allen, a progressive five-year-old bringing an eight-from-nine career record to the party, enhanced that to nine out of ten on this second attempt at Grade 1 company. He was soundly enough beaten in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, his sole previous G1 effort, in February last year but may have been unsuited to the steady pace there.

This was fiercely run. Mark Walsh sat in midfield, away from the crazy tempo up top and, avoiding the fallers, came through almost in his own time to saunter fifteen lengths clear of a gallant but spent Melon, with 80/1 poke Silver Streak back in third.

Handicapping the race is difficult, especially for those intent on literal interpretations. Fortunately, some clever bods - notably Simon Rowlands in this piece on the ATR website - have confirmed what the peepers were suggesting: that they went way too fast early and slowed up dramatically late.

To contextualise that, Rowlands notes that the Champion Hurdle was run four seconds - about twenty lengths - faster to the third flight, and yet the differential at the line was a mere two-and-a-half lengths. Pace collapse territory. That enabled Mark Walsh and Espoir d'Allen to record even fractions throughout in a sort of tortoise and hare setup - if it's not beyond rude to refer to a Champion Hurdler as a tortoise!

The fact that Melon, spoiler-in-chief for the favourite, was able to cling valiantly to second in spite of running remarkably inefficiently anchors the form in my book. Five-year-olds have a notoriously weak record in the Champion Hurdle and, while that alone is far from sufficient to crab the victor, the nature of the run of the race with - as Rowlands again notes - the first six home in the Supreme bettering the Champion Hurdle runner-up's time leads me to downgrade the race in form terms.

Projecting to this time next year, Espoir can certainly win another Champion Hurdle: he'll be a year older and stronger, and he has that crucial track experience to boot. But he's a lousy price at 7/2 in a place (6/1 tops still not enticing). Buveur d'Air will be nine next year, an age that didn't stop Hurricane Fly or Rooster Booster this century, and won't stop him if his appetite is undiminished after this spill. Apple's Jade will surely not contest this again; ditto Laurina. Melon at 25/1 could be interesting each way though he's shown himself to be beatable, albeit in very different setups and where he's run above himself both times.

But the one which might be most appealing for long-range forecasters is City Island. The Ballymore winner has a much better record than the Supreme winner in the Champion Hurdle, and Martin Brassil's six-year-old was comfortably the best with all the right horses close enough behind to suggest there was no fluke to the performance. Enthusiasm for the 33/1 is tempered markedly by connections referencing the Stayers' Hurdle (for which he is 20/1) as his target in post-race debriefs; with that in mind, splitting stakes may be more sensible (if taking a price 359 days before an event is ever sensible).


National Hunt Chase 'Disgrace'

The National Hunt Chase is the second oldest race at the Festival, after the Grand Annual, but it has been run the most times due to the latter named being dropped for a chunk of the late 1800's - so wikipedia tells me, anyway. I also learn there that the race was considered the second most important, after the Grand National, in the calendar until the 1930's.

It is a four mile race for novice chasers ridden by amateur riders. For as long as I've been blogging and previewing Cheltenham - which is eleven years now, gulp - I've made mildly condescending noises about it. That's because I'm not a traditionalist, you see; I view most races through the prism of the sport as I see it and, naturally, as a wagering conduit.

This year, with welfare and good intentions aforethought, a number of jockeys in the race - notably Declan Lavery, who rode third placed Jerrysback - got into hot water with the stewards for persisting when their horses were considered by the arbiters to be too tired. These decisions have been roundly lambasted by horsemen of all vintages.

I am neither a traditionalist, as mentioned, nor a horseman, and additionally I have sympathy with the less militant parts of the welfare lobby, which leads me to an often conflicted head space on jump racing, a pursuit I love more deeply than flat racing. In that confused context, here's where I've got to: there WAS a problem in the National Hunt Chase - there simply has to be when, despite changes to attract a better class of horse and despite amateur jockeys being closer to their professional counterparts in ability terms than at any other time in history, eighteen horses set out and only four finished.

Of the fourteen non-completions, eight fell, one of which sustained fatal injuries.

Quite frankly, that is bullshit.

I happened to watch the race with a fairly senior member of the BHA, and we both audibly winced when the wonderful mare Atlanta Ablaze came down two out. It was a bridge too far for a pair of hardened NH spectators.

Here's the thing: this race is hideously anachronistic. It is probably twenty years past its sell by date, hence the ongoing tinkering with its conditions.

I know that the trads will lobby for its retention and I understand the reasons why. But it cannot be countenanced for another year in its current format. Blaming the jockeys for trying their best in a race which makes extraordinary demands of both humans and equines, each group inexperienced in the context of the meeting as a whole, is big-time deflection.

The issue here is the race, or rather its conditions. Here is a suggestion, not intended as a 'we should do this' blueprint, but as a strawman starting point to be discussed, pulled apart, iterated and refined.

The National Hunt Chase should be run over three and a half miles. It would still be the longest main track race at the Festival but it would be one-eighth less attritional. It should be contested only by horses with a defined level of experience and also, potentially, with an approved level of jumping ability. It should have a ratings ceiling to prevent the dilution of the RSA Chase, and a floor to prevent horses being outclassed and put at risk. Horses should be six or older (almost all are), and carry eleven stone rather than 11-06 (and jockeys will have to be able to do the weight without wasting/fasting). Jockeys should have a defined level of ability/experience to ride.

All of the above would make the race less testing; none of the above would make the race less compelling. Let's sort this crap out and stop blaming jockeys for the errors of history and the programme book.

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Joyful Thursday

If racing has a propensity to shoot itself in the foot, it also continues to produce human (and equine) interest stories of almost universal appeal. Last Thursday's racing looks set to be as enduring as it was endearing - it truly was one of the great days of racing.

Victory for the resurgent former Triumph Hurdler, Defi Du Seuil, was a terrific start. JP McManus is one of the more likeable of racing's mega-rich, for all that he is domiciled in Switzerland for tax efficiency purposes (he does distribute funds across a number of sports in Britain and Ireland which, I guess, is a more expedient direct contribution to racing), and his colours were worn to victory three times on this day.

Defi is a bit of a forgotten horse in a way. Considering he's won eleven of his sixteen races, and five of seven races at Cheltenham, he has been spoken of in somewhat disrespectful tones in the lead up to the JLT Chase. But he showed his usual class and some of his more occasional mettle to repel a regular rival, Lostintranslation, and confirm the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase form. This was the first winner of the Scilly Isles to double up in the JLT, breaking a sequence of second places.

That was but an amuse bouche for a couple of scintillating main courses. Before those, there was the Geraghty master class on Sire du Berlais, a horse that was sent off 4/1 favourite but traded as high as 240 in running. He looked cooked but BJG conjured a magic ride to get by one challenger and repel another in a tight finish.

Then came those delicious appetisers, starting with the Ryanair. This is a race which has been - rightly, in my view - called out in the past as a hiding place for second tier Champion Chase or Gold Cup prospects; but the 2019 renewal was a proper horse race, one packed with legitimate two-and-a-half-milers and legitimate Grade 1 horses.

From the veteran Un De Sceaux to Gold Cup non-staying fourth, Road To Respect, to Arkle victor, Footpad, to Cheltenham specialist, Frodon, all were worthy players for whom, with the possible exception of Footpad, this was undoubtedly the right race. Chuck in last year's winner Balko des Flos and another winner from Festival 2018, The Storyteller, as well as high class second season chaser, Monalee, and it was truly a deep and classy field.

Sometimes such setups disappoint, runners failing to show their true ability left and right. Not this time. It was a super race from start to finish, with a fairy tale outcome.

Frodon, incredibly, has only recently celebrated his seventh birthday and yet seems to have been around forever. Since joining Paul Nicholls he's made Cheltenham home, winning five of nine chase starts at the track. That palmarès was rounded off prior to Joyful Thursday by a huge performance off 164 (and top weight) in handicap company, and a battling victory in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase over a trip beyond his comfort zone. Here he added a first Grade 1 success in typical front-running heart-on-sleeve style.

In the aftermath it was left to Frodon's rider, Bryony Frost, to speak for her horse. Her affection for their partnership, her joy at what they'd just achieved together, and her youth and exuberance are the sorts of PR racing can't buy. Her post-race anthropomorphism of Frodon to any microphone that was turned on was beautifully sincere, faintly bonkers and, frankly, absolutely bloody marvellous. That Bryony adorned many of the newspaper front pages as well as their other covers on Friday morning was a much-needed shot in the arm for a sport sometimes struggling for relevancy in a world that increasingly fails to 'get it'.

And, if that wasn't enough, Cheltenham Thursday - so often the poor relation of the four day meeting - was able to sustain the Festival feel-good factor through the day's other championship event, the Stayers' Hurdle. This time it was Andrew Gemmell, a racing nut who has been blind since birth, who was the centre of attention.

His Festival had already been noteworthy when Discorama, a horse he part owns, ran a brave second in the National Hunt Chase. But this lad, owned outright and a strong favourite for the long distance hurdle crown, was the one that carried his hopes and dreams. Trained by Emma Lavelle and ridden by Aidan Coleman, both seeking their first Festival Grade 1's, those who could watch the race were left in no doubt from some way out about who would win; at least not until a horlicks at the last which would have floored a more fatigued horse.

Gemmell, reliant on the on-course commentary, would also have heard a cacophony of gasps to attest to the late drama which unfolded at the final flight. But Paisley Park, and Coleman and Lavelle, and Andrew Gemmell were not to be denied this joyful moment on Joyful Thursday.

What a day of racing that was. Alas, racing is never all 'up'.


Triumph and Disaster

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

Kipling's these days almost trite verse about the journey to manhood will rarely have been more apposite than in the case of the boy-man Joseph O'Brien and the emerging brilliance of his four-year-old, Sir Erec. O'Brien is more than a chip off the old block, he is a carbon copy of the determination, diligence and intelligence of his father, Aidan.

Not 26 until May and rider of the winners of two Derby's, a 2000 Guineas and a St Leger, he already has a Classic victory and a Melbourne Cup win as a trainer. Although not named on the license at the time of Ivanovich Gorbatov's Triumph Hurdle win of 2016, he was widely rumoured to have been the trainer then; this was his chance to get a first Grade 1 win at the Festival.

But disaster tragically did strike. On the landing side of the fourth flight, Sir Erec broke a leg - I'm not sure how, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the recording yet - leading to his inevitable euthanizing.

As I've already said, I'm an animal lover and a fan of the sport. In these days of heightened sensitivity in all walks of life - it sometimes feels like we're returning to a 17th century puritanical era - harmonising those two attributes, animal lover/NH fan, is increasingly difficult to explain to those who don't follow the game.

How can you love a sport where horses of the quality, beauty and, yes, purity of Sir Erec are allowed to be sacrificed? It's a deep and nuanced question, and it has different answers depending on who is asking. It's a huge issue, maybe for another day, but suffice it to say that I was reminded of Our Conor and that difficult day, and the nausea in the pit of the stomach remained through the rest of Friday afternoon.

But there is more to life. Indeed, JPOB probably couched it better than anyone when he was quoted as follows:

Horse racing in the moment is everything, but when we pull our heads from the trough and see the stuff going on outside...


Gold Cup win no silver lining

We need to talk about Willie. Again. Some won't hear of such as what is to follow, but the evidence is growing and only faintly masked by the excellent performance of Al Boum Photo in winning the Gold Cup. At a time when, as mentioned already, racing is fighting a battle against a rising tide of animal welfare sympathisers, faller - and especially fatality - rates are something which are going to be closely scrutinised.

Any horse can fall of course, and misfortune is as accepted as it is unwelcome in the winter game. But some incur greater levels of misfortune than others. To paraphrase the peerless Oscar Wilde (without intention to belittle the subject),

To lose one horse may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness

The Mullins stable saddled two of the three horses fatally injured at last week's Festival.

Obviously that's a tiny number and could easily be noise. Indeed it is very likely noise in and of itself. But, when looking at larger datasets, we see a similar pattern. Here, for instance, are the fall/unseat rates at this year's Festival:

Total Fall/Unseat - 32/498 (6.4%)
WPM Fall/Unseat - 5/59 (8.5%)

That's still a tiny sample, so let's expand to 2009+ at the Festival, eleven years and all of the data in's Query Tool:

Total Fall/Unseat -  368/5315 (6.9%)
Total Fall/Unseat excl WPM - 327/4852 (6.8%)
WPM Fall/Unseat - 41/463 (8.9%)

Regardless of how many more competitive runners the trainer has, this is a significant outlier at the top of an unwelcome chart. Comparing with his most immediate Cheltenham Festival peers - Messrs. Elliott (14/181, 7.7%), Henderson (19/401, 4.7%) and Nicholls (23/321, 7.2%) - fails to improve the picture by relativity.

And yet still some may contend that the samples are too small. So, as one final set of data, here are the fall/unseat figures (chase races only) for all starters in UK and Irish races since 1st January 2015 for a select group of top trainers:



The obvious next question is, "Why?".

It is not for me to answer that: I don't have any 'in' on the yard nor do I think value is added by speculating on the basis of nothing. However, I will reference this quote from the trainer regarding Cilaos Emery, a horse who missed the Festival, that might just offer a window on this world:

He pulled a muscle schooling in Navan the other day. That's why you didn't see him this morning. We'll have to wait and see how he's going to come out of it. If he doesn't come out of it in the next seven days, then I think we might have to draw stumps for Cheltenham. That's a disappointment, but when you school them you take your chance.

When you school them you take your chance...


Give Back Friday

On a wagering note, the week went well for me personally, and also for keen followers of the previews I penned on here. 40/1 advised William Henry was an obvious highlight from an odds perspective, though I was far more invested in shorter-priced runners, including my biggest bets of the week on Road To Respect - who blew his chance by bungling all of the last three fences - and Native River, who ran a creditable race which was only good enough for fourth. I'd had an overstaked each way bet on Anibale Fly at 33/1 which took some of the heat out of the Gold Cup situation but that, and small nibbles at big prices on Hazel Hill, could not quite cover the Friday losers elsewhere.

The County Hurdle (We Have A Dream 2nd at 25/1), Grand Annual (failed to have a small bet on the 66/1 winner, first time I've not backed him in four spins in this race) and Martin Pipe (over-staked bet on Dallas Des Pictons 2nd at 7/2) are races where you're not supposed to pick up. In fact the first and last of that trio were perfectly gettable - just not by me.

Adding into that a personal and perennial inability to identify the winners of either the Gold Cup or Triumph Hurdle, and the crap shoot that is the Albert Bartlett and oftentimes the Foxhunters as well, you'll see why I consider it 'Give Back Friday'; though of course that assumes that you've borrowed some off those lovely bookie types from Tuesday to Thursday.


How was it for you? Feel free to leave a comment below - I'd love to hear your thoughts.



Sat TV Trends: 16th March 2019

It's always a bit quiet this weekend with the Cheltenham hangovers, but there is still ITV Racing to take in with the cameras heading to Uttoxeter, with the Midlands National the feature, while they are also at Kempton Park.

As always, we are  on hand with all the key trends and stats for the LIVE ITV races. Use these to whittle down the runners and find the best profiles of past winners.

Uttoxeter Horse Racing Trends

2.25 - Brit Plant Direct Novices' Handicap Chase Cl2 3m ITV

12/15 – Aged 8 or younger
12/15 – Carried 10-9 or more
11/15 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
10/15 – Had won between 1-2 times over fences before
10/15 – Had won over at least 3m (chases) before
10/15 – Placed last time out
10/15 – Never raced at Uttoxeter before
10/15 – Returned 7/1 or less
8/15 – Unplaced favourites
9/15 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
7/15 – Aged 7 years-old
5/15 – Won last time out
2/15 – Trained by Alan King
2/15 – Trained by Harry Fry (last two runnings)
2/15 – Ridden by Daryl Jacob
2/15 – Winning favourites


3.00 - Marston's Pedigree Handicap Hurdle Cl2 2m4f ITV

Only 7 Previous Runnings
7/7 – Carried 10-13 or more in weight
6/7 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
7 – Winning favourites
3/7 – Aged 8 years-old
Clyne (10/1) won the race in 2018

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- Marston's 61 Deep Midlands Grand National Chase Handicap (Listed Race) Cl1 4m1f110y ITV

14/15 – Aged 9 or younger
13/15 – Had won between 1-4 times over fences before
13/15 – Carried 10-12 or less
13/15 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
12/15 – Had raced within the last 8 weeks
11/15 – Won by an Irish bred horse
11/15 – Had never run at Uttoxeter before
11/15 – Unplaced favourites
10/15 – Officially rated 133 or less
10/15 – Carried 10-9 or less
10/15 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
8/15 – Aged 7 or 8 years-old
8/15 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
8/15 – Returned a double-figure-price in the betting
5/15 – Won last time out
4/15 – Trained by David Pipe
3/15 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
2/15 – Winning favourites

Kempton Park Horse Racing Trends

2.05 – Get Switched On With Matchbook Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) Cl3 2m ITV

11/12 – Returned 7/1 or shorter in the betting
10/12 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
8/12 – Carried 11-0 or less
8/12 – Ran in the last 5 weeks
8/12 – Won at least once over fences before
7/12 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or less
5/12 – Unplaced last time out
5/12 – Aged 8 or 9 years-old
5/12 – Won last time out
5/12 – Won 3 or more times before over fences
4/12 – Winning favourites
2/12 – Trained by Tom George (2 of last 6)

2.40 – Matchbook VIP Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle Cl2 2m5f ITV

Only 5 previous runnings
Nicky Henderson has won 2 of the last 4 runnings
No winning favourite yet from the last 5 runnings
All 5 previous winners carried 11-12 or more
Kildisart (5/1) won the race in 2018 (Ben Pauling)


3.15 – Matchbook Silver Bowl (A Handicap Chase) Cl2 2m4f110y ITV

Only 5 previous running
1 winning favourite (co) from the last 5 runnings
4 of the last 5 winners carried 11-2 or more
Trainers Venetia William, Tom George, Ian Williams, Paul Nicholls, Tom George and Jonjo O’Neill have won the race so far
Cepage (14/1) won the race in 2018



Trainers Quotes




Follow Andy Newton Here - @NewtsDailyLays

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day Four Preview, Tips

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day Four Preview, Tips

And so to day 4, Friday, Gold Cup Day, the last of the quartet. If you're in front, well done; if you're behind, there's still time. Either way, the last day is traditionally the trickiest so keep that in mind as you peruse the prose below.

1.30 Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m1f)

The four-year-old hurdle championship is often a confused competitive affair. But this time it might just be a tad lop-sided. That is certainly how the market perceives things, with Sir Erec heading the betting at even money. Plenty of horses arrive at this race off the flat and/or after earlier starts to their hurdling careers in France. This fellow has an extremely high class flat profile, evidenced most obviously by a third place finish behind Stradivarius in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup on British Champions' Day last autumn. He was sent off just 5/1 that day suggesting there was no fluke to that run. He jumps proficiently, stays well and has oodles of class.

If there is a reason to take him on, and I'm not convinced there is, it might be in a faintly interrupted prep where he was the victim of a stone bruise. But the vibes - #thevibes - seem to be that he is completely over that and he's unlikely to have missed any work as a consequence. I think he will win and win well. But I cannot bet him at even money.

So where to from here? Betting without the favourite is our friend: it offers fair odds without having to do half the stake on an unlikely win prospect. Away from Sir Erec, it's a fascinating betting race. Fascinating, but not easily deciphered.

Tiger Tap Tap was very close to Sir Erec on their respective Irish hurdling debuts, but further back when they re-engaged last time. He may step forward for a more truly run race and represents the Mullins/Walsh axis.

Best of the Brits is probably the, erm, French horse, Quel Destin, who has experience aplenty and comes here unbeaten in five small field races. Although it's hard to crab a horse that just keeps winning, it feels to me as though the Irish juveniles are a cut above their British counterparts; if that's correct then the likes of Tiger and Gardens Of Babylon are worth a second glance in the without market. Gardens Of Babylon won a big field maiden hurdle before getting chinned on the line next time; he then got closest to Sir Erec at Leopardstown on his most recent outing.

The je ne sais quoi factor is brought to the race by Pic d'Orhy, a high class French import yet to race here. He was second in an Auteuil Grade 1 last November before being snapped up by owner Johnny de la Hey. Whilst it is often difficult to project how such horses will fare on their UK debuts, and this is hardly a quiet jog round in which to get started, new trainer Paul Nicholls has 'previous' for getting this job done: he has effected it at least twice, with Diego du Charmil and Aux Ptits Soins, in the Fred Winter and Coral Cup respectively.

Adjali looked to have limitations exposed first by Quel Destin and then by Fakir d'Oudairies, the latter a form line suggesting Irish primacy in these ranks. Pentland Hills won his only hurdle start but is rated more than two stone inferior to Sir Erec on the level.

Willie Mullins also runs French Made, and she could be better than a 40/1 shot. She won her only start for Mullins in a big field maiden hurdle where the second and third have both won since.

Triumph Hurdle Pace Map


Triumph Hurdle Selection

I think, and indeed hope, Sir Erec wins, because he's as classy a recruit to the juvenile hurdling division as we've seen in a long time. He's capable of winning this, the Ascot Gold Cup in June and maybe even a Champion Hurdle one day.

But evens is not generally my thing. The without market is a place to play, and in that context both Tiger Tap Tap and Pic d'Orhy appeal more than Quel Destin. French Made may go better than a 40/1 shot, too.

Suggestion: Back either Tiger Tap Tap (Victor 11/2 1/5 123) and/or Pic d'Orhy (Victor 11/2 1/5 123) each way without the favourite. And perhaps have a tiny each way in the same market on French Made (Victor 18/1 1/5 123).


2.10 County Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap, 2m1f)

Too difficult for me, so token thoughts only. But then I did manage to back 40/1 William Henry on Wednesday and I've tipped a 50/1 winner in this before (Silver Jaro - oh, the scenes..!). Small stakes obviously. Runners aged seven-plus have won six of the last 21 so it's hardly the death knell but the percentage play is to side with younger, less exposed types. Five year olds have an incredible record, and those a year older have also gone well.

My shortlist, which comprises those youths with Graded form, is We Have A Dream, Mr Adjudicator, and Due Reward.

Mr Adjudicator is the shortest of the three, at around 16/1. He has finished 11222 in hurdle races, including a victory in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle last season, beating subsequent Triumph winner, Farclas. Last time out he was beaten eleven lengths by Espoir d'Allen, a performance which would have got him closer to the subsequent Champion Hurdle winner than the runner-up in that race, Melon, if taken literally. Whilst one should not take that literally it was nevertheless a very good effort.

We Have A Dream is also a Grade 1 winner, in last year's Finale Hurdle at Chepstow, and also makes his handicap debut. He stays further and has obvious class, but whether he's quite battle hardened enough for a scrap like this, I don't know.

The trio is rounded out by Due Reward, an experienced handicapper who was found out in a small field G1 two starts back. Given a rehearsal ride at Leopardstown last time, this is gala night and Henry de Bromhead will have him ready to roll.

Whiskey Sour is the favourite and for good reason. He ran a tidy race when third in this last year on his first handicap spin, and has plenty of Grade 1 form, including a win in novice company last term. He's commensurately short in the betting but his case is easy to make.

County Hurdle Pace Map

County Hurdle Selection

Obviously impossible, so the guesses are as presented above. Whiskey Sour will surprise nobody if winning, but bigger prices are available about equally talented - if less handicap proven - alternatives in We Have A Dream and Mr Adjudicator. Due Reward is also interesting.

Suggestion: Small interest each way on any or all of We Have A Dream (25/1 general), Mr Adjudicator (16/1 general) and Due Reward (25/1 general)


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

The potato race. A war for relatively inexperienced horses where the ability to stay stay and stay is aforethought. The last five winners were all sent off at double figure prices, two of them at 33/1, so this is not a race in which to be all in on the jolly.

The thing here is that this big field slog is a far greater test than the five- and six-runner bimbles horses encounter earlier in the season, and it demands a tougher - often less classy - animal to see it out. Experience is a crucial factor with twelve of the 14 winners having had four or more (and as many as ten!) races in the previous year.

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If we use that experience criterion we immediately remove three of the top five in the market and, while there's a fair chance we've lobbed the winner, I'm happier taking a flyer at a price in a race which has rewarded such ambition in recent years.

And I'm also focusing on those to have already won over at least three miles, as nine of the 14 winners had. That truncates the field from twenty to seven. Nice. Potentially.

The shortest of my remaining squad is the uneasy favourite, Lisnagar Oscar. Trained by Rebecca Curtis, whose At Fishers Cross won this in 2013, this son of - you know it, Oscar - was second over course and distance in December and has since won a big field novice hurdle at Chepstow and a three mile Grade 2 at Haydock. He deserves his position in the market and would certainly be shorter if trained by a more fashionable handler.

Derrinross is next on my list but his wins have come in a brace of six-runner fields and he's exactly the sort I want to be against. Doesn't mean he can't win - his soft ground score in a Grade 2 last time is obviously decent form - but this will be run at a very different clip, making 10/1 unattractive.

Gordon Elliott's Dinons ticks the experience box in spades - he's had ten runs, and five wins, in the last year - but he got whacked on his first step into Graded company last time and would prefer a sounder surface. That said, he did bolt up in a Class 2 novice hurdle over course and distance (on the other track) in October. Small field of six. He's not been seen for 110 days.

Nadaitak hacked up as outsider of four last time out in the Grade 2 River Don at Doncaster. That was on good ground as is most of his form, and it was in a small field - not what he'll encounter here. Ben Pauling is having a brilliant Festival (Le Breuil winning, Bright Forecast third in the Ballymore) so no worries on the stable form score, but I don't think he's quite shown enough mettle for this challenge.

And then we get to the interesting ones, from a price perspective at least. Noel Meade saddles Cap York, who got outpaced before staying on in Derrinross's Grade 2 two starts back. Last time out he raced in open handicap company in a bigger field over three miles, and won comfortably. That kind of race setup is far more akin to an average Albert Bartlett than the small field G2's which seem to abound, and I think this seven-year-old could go well. He does have slightly less experience than is ideal in terms of number of recent runs.

Colin Tizzard won this last year with Kilbricken Storm, and he has a similar profile type this term in Rockpoint. The six-year-old son of Shirocco has had a dozen hurdle starts, improving significantly in recent runs for the step up to three miles. He won the three mile Grade 2 over course and distance in which favourite Lisnagar Oscar was second, and yet he's 33/1 in places. True, he's since finished behind the same horse at Haydock, but that was on good ground and a flat track in a race run at a dawdle - this sort of attrition is much more his condition.

Plenty at the head of the market with proven class but unknown levels of fortitude, that latter attribute the primary requirement for the gig.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Pace Map

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Selection

In a race where outsiders go well, I'm taking two against the field. Cap York could be the pick of the Irish, in terms of stamina and resolution at least; and Rockpoint, a Grade 2 winner over course and distance, looks a forgotten horse for last year's winning trainer. They'll do for me.

Suggestion: Back Rockpoint (33/1 Victor 1/5 1234) and/or Cap York (25/1 Victor 1/5 1234) each way


3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1, 3m 2 1/2f)

The Blue Riband. I previewed the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2019 here, and nothing in my perspective has changed since.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Pace Map


Cheltenham Gold Cup Selection

I nominated Native River at 6/1 on 5th March in the above preview. He's now a top priced 9/2 which is still reasonable in my book, if not spectacular. Bellshill was my other suggestion: he was 14/1 and is still available to back at 12/1 in spite of Ruby Walsh riding. I'd imagine he'll shorten and is probably the bet if you're not on something already.

Suggestion: Think about Native River at 9/2 (888sport) and also Bellshill at 12/1 (Victor 1/5 1234)


4.10 The Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase (Class 2, 3m 2 1/2f)

We're into 'after the Lord Mayor's Show' territory now. If you're not in front, it will be pretty difficult to claw a result from here on out.

My handle on the point/hunter chase form is limited, but I was extremely taken by the performance of Hazel Hill when he routed a strong field at Warwick in late January. A prolific point winner, he is now three from three in hunter chases, nothing getting within ten lengths of him in that discipline. One firm went 25/1 about his chance here in the immediate aftermath; sadly, they only stood me £8.80, but still that was better than nothing and, in truth, will probably save me a quid or two when he runs a gallant second!

Two Irish horses head the market, Stand Up And Fight and Ucello Conti. They have very different profiles, the former being a lightly raced seven-year-old who placed in staying Graded novice hurdles two seasons ago; the latter a seasoned ex-handicap chaser who was second in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown during their 2017 Christmas Festival. Ucello was running a bold race in last year's Grand National until unseating his rider four out and I'd be inclined to take that form over the class and youth of Enda Bolger's favourite. Young horses have won this race in the recent past - think Salsify and Cappa Bleu and Kingscliff - so don't let me put you off if you like the jolly.

Road To Rome is a winning machine. He's on a current streak of seven - three points and four hunter chases - but it has all been on flat tracks. He's an admirable horse, no doubt, though this looks a bridge too far.

And what of Pacha Du Polder? He's 20/1 having won this for the last two years. And if you think that price says he has no chance, keep in mind that those two wins in the race were returned at 16/1 and 25/1. His full record in the race is 511. No twelve-year-old-plus has won this since Earthmover in 2004, trained by... Pacha Du Polder's trainer, Paul Nicholls. Nicholls has won the Foxhunters a record-equalling four times and relies on Pacha in his bid for sole primacy.

Foxhunter Chase Pace Map

[Note that this pace map only features races run under Rules, i.e. no point to point pace figures are included]


Foxhunter Chase Selection

A fascinating race but, unless you're a bit of a judge of such things - I'm not - it's one to watch more than wager. Small interests on any of the top three in the market - Stand Up And Fight, Ucello Conti, Hazel Hill - should give you a run for your money. And if you want to cheer a big-priced story horse, Pacha du Polder is the one.

Suggestion: Back any of the top three and try a tiny each way on Pacha Du Polder (20/1 general)


4.50 Grand Annual Chase (Grade 3 Handicap, 2m 1/2f)

The last two races are not really my thing. I'll be nicely inebriated by this point, in the Brown Bear on Leman Street as Gold Cup day tradition dictates. This was a very difficult watch last year with a number of equine fatalities as the riders went hell for leather from the outset. Moving it from the last to the penultimate race is unlikely to positively affect the early speed which will almost certainly be set by the rapid Gino Trail.

Kerry Lee's lightning bolt clung on valiantly for second in last year's Grand Annual and has the same mark this time around. It's a very big ask to go wire to wire in this, mind.

The horse to beat him in 2018 was Le Prezien, who again locks horns. He is a mere pound higher now and ought to again get on the premises granted safe passage. But Le Prezien's trainer, Paul Nicholls, has been making bullish noises about another of his runners, Magic Saint, throughout the preview circuit. This lad is only five, was formerly trained in France by Guillaume Macaire, and has progressive form here. He'll not have seen anything like this kind of set up previously, however, and is awfully short. Palarshan won as a five-year-old in 2003, and six of the dozen that age hit the frame.

Bun Doran could be suited to conditions though he's up a chunk in the weights for an easy win two back. Trainer Tom George has been quiet in the past fortnight, too.

This race is named in honour of Nicky Henderson's dad, so we can be sure that Whatswrongwithyou will be an emotional winner. He comes here on a hat-trick having beaten two rivals twice; this will be a somewhat different experience.

Gary Moore's progressive novice, Not Another Muddle, was impressive at Sandown last time and is likely not done improving yet. He has a nice light weight and appeals as the type to finish through a lot of tired horses. That sort of run style demands a ton of luck in the run, however, something which may not be fully factored in to a price of 8/1.

The Irish have out-performed their numerical representation in recent years, scoring three times and hitting the board with another five, from 28 runners. Only Mind's Eye lines up for the away team, Henry de Bromhead's seven-year-old bidding to replicate the feat of A Plus Tard in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase on the opening day. The son of Stowaway has been running in Grade 1 novice chases so is clearly considered capable of a classy performance.

Grand Annual Pace Map


Grand Annual Selection

Magic Saint has been well touted by his trainer who saddled last year's winner, Le Prezien. I prefer the latter at the prices, and I also quite like Not Another Muddle if he can get an untroubled trip - a big ask of any horse in this field. But perhaps the pick of the prices is the sole Irish entry, Mind's Eye, a novice who has been jogging round in small field Grade 1's and who might just find this more rapid tempo right up his street.

Suggestion: Try Mind's Eye each way at 14/1 (Victor 1/5 12345)


5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m 4 1/2f)

A very difficult looking finale for the 'lucky last'. That said, recent renewals have been notable for the class their winners have subsequently shown over fences. Don Poli, Killultagh Vic, Ibis Du Rheu, Champage Classic and Blow By Blow all showed themselves to be Graded performers, most of them at Grade 1 level.

Thus I'm only interested in an unexposed potentially very high class horse. To that end, Dallas Des Pictons - who is priced at just 7/2 - looks just the man for the job. Winner of a Class B handicap hurdle last time, he was second off level weights to Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner, City Island, prior to back-to-back big field wins. He may be a short price but he already has Grade 1 form on that City Island line.

Defi Bleu, Getareason, and Early Doors all fit the ascendant Graded class runner mould, though less snugly than Dallas. That is reflected in their prices, all of which are 8/1+.

But my Festival will be over by this point, and I'll simply be looking to identify the right cap colour on the favourite (it's the purple one).

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Pace Map


Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Selection

Not a race in which to go mad. Keep your powder dry for the Midlands Nash on Saturday! I'll be having a bet on the obvious horse, Dallas Des Pictons, who looks the best animal in the race and can be supported at 7/2 to back up that contention. Unexciting, but we're in 'a winner is a winner' pub chat territory now...!

Suggestion: Back Dallas Des Pictons (7/2 general) and cheer it home with everybody else.

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