This weekend the ITV cameras head to Kempton Park, with their BetBright Chase their feature contest, while they are also at Lingfield Park for the Winter Derby and the Newcastle for the Eider Chase.
As always we've got all the key trends and stats for the LIVE ITV races.
12/13 – Priced 8/1 or shorter in the betting
11/13 - Came from the top 3 in the betting
11/13 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
11/13 – Had won no more than once over hurdles in the UK
10/13 – Placed favourites
10/13 – Had raced within the last 7 weeks
10/13 – Winners that went onto run in the Triumph Hurdle (3 winners)
9/13 – Had won over 2m (hurdles) before
8/13– Won carrying either a 4lb or 7lb penalty
7/13 – Won last time out
6/13 – Winning favourites
5/13 – French bred
4/13 – Irish bred
4/13 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
3/13 – Winners that went onto win that season’s Triumph Hurdle
3/13 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
2/13 – Trained by Alan King
Zarkandar, Soldatino and Penzance went onto land that season’s Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 7/2
Note: The 2006 renewal was staged at Sandown Park
2.25 - BetBright Best For Festival Betting Pendil Novices´ Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 2m4f110y ITV
10/12 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
10/12 – Favourites that finished in the top 3
10/12 – French (7) of Irish (3) bred
9/12 – Returned 5/2 or shorter in the betting
9/12 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
9/12 – Ran in the last 5 weeks
9/12 – Had won between 1-2 times over fences before
8/12 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
7/12 – Won last time out
6/12 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 9/4
10/11 – Ran within the last 5 weeks
10/11 – Had won over 2m (hurdles) before
9/11 – Placed favourites
9/11 – Had never raced over hurdles at Kempton before
9/11 – Aged either 4 or 5 years-old
8/11 – Won between 0-2 times over hurdles before
8/11 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
6/11 – Won last time out
5/11 – Went onto run at that season’s Cheltenham Festival (no winners)
5/11 – Winning favourites
4/11 – French bred
4/11 – Trained by Alan King
3/11 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
3/11 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty
2/11 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/11 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 5/1
13/14 – Rated 139 or higher
12/14 – Finished in the top 5 last time out
11/14 – Had raced within the last 8 weeks
11/14 – Aged 9 or younger
11/14 – Won a class 2 chase or better before
10/14 – Carried 10-13 or more
10/14 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
10/14 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
10/14 – Came from the top 4 in the betting
10/14 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or more
9/14 – Raced within the last 4 weeks
9/14 – Rated between 139 and 150
7/14 – Had won at least 4 times over fences before
7/14 – Won last time out
7/14 – Carried 11-5 or more
5/14 – Aged 8 years-old
5/14 – French bred
4/14 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s Grand National (all unplaced)
4/14 – Raced at Cheltenham last time out
3/14 – Ridden by Paddy Brennan
2/14 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
2/14 – Ridden by Richard Johnson (won it 5 times in all)
2/14 – Trained by Tom George
2/14 – Trained by Philip Hobbs (won it 4 times in all)
2/14 – Ran in the King George VI Chase last time out
2/14 – Winners that went onto run at that season’s Cheltenham Festival (1 winner)
The average winning SP in the last 14 runnings is 9/1
Note: The 2006 running was staged at Sandown Park
9/9 – Raced within the last 3 weeks
8/9 – Unplaced last time out
8/9 – Rated 120 or higher
7/9 – Had won at least twice over hurdles before
6/9 – Aged 7 or older
6/9 – Had raced over hurdles at Newcastle before
6/9 – Carried 11-0 or more
5/9 – Irish bred
5/9 – Placed favourites
5/9 – Ran at Musselburgh last time out
3/9 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
2/9 - Winning favourites (1 joint)
The average winning SP in the last 8 runnings is 15/2
2.45 - Betfred Eider (A Handicap Chase) Cl2 4m1f ITV
13/13 – Had won over at least 3m before
11/13 – Aged 10 or younger
10/13 – Carried 11-0 or more
10/13 – Priced 11/1 or shorter in the betting
10/13 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
9/13 – Winning distance – 3 ½ lengths or less
9/13 – Irish-bred
9/13 – Placed in the top 4 last time out
9/13 – Winners came from the top 3 in the betting
8/13 – Officially rated between 131-139
7/13 – Placed favourites
7/13 – Aged either 8 or 9 years-old
5/13 – Won last time out
4/13 – Won over 3m4f or further before
3/13 – Carried 11-12 in weight
2/13 – Winning favourites
2/13 – Irish-trained winners
The average winning SP in the last 13 runnings is 10/1
9/10 – Rated 96+
8/10 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
8/10 – Raced 6 weeks or longer ago
8/10 – Placed favs
8/10 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
7/10 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
7/10 – Had raced at Lingfield before
6/10 – Ran at Lingfield last time out
4/10 – US bred
4/10 – Winning favourites
3/10 – Mare winners
3/10 – Trained by David Barron
0/10 – Winners from stall 1
The average SP in the last 10 runnings is 7/1
Pretend won this race in 2015
14/14 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or shorter
12/14 – Won by a horse aged 6 or younger
11/14 – Had run at Lingfield previously
11/14 – Won over at least 1m2f previously
11/14 – Priced 8/1 or shorter in the market
11/14 – Had raced at either Lingfield (7) or Kempton (4) last time out
10/14 – Winning distance – less than a length
10/14 – Placed in their last race
10/14 – Drawn in stall 7 or less
9/14 – Won at Lingfield previously
9/14 – Came from the top 3 in the market
9/14 – Won their last race
9/14 – Had raced within the last 7 weeks
8/14 – Won at least 6 times previously
7/14 – Favourites to win
Grendisar won the race 12 months ago
The average winning SP in the 14 renewals is 11/2
TRAINERS-QUOTES.COM: GET THE BEST INFO FROM 20 TOP STABLES EACH DAY - Sent direct to your in-box!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/sat-tv-trends.png320830Andy Newtonhttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngAndy Newton2017-02-24 13:00:302017-02-25 09:33:34Sat TV Trends: 25th Feb 2017
Another huge day on the horse racing front this weekend as the ITV cameras will be heading to Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton this Saturday. The Grand National Trial at Haydock and the Ascot Chase (yes, you guessed it, at Ascot) are the feature contests to look out for.
So, to help narrow down the fields, and point you in the direction of a few winners, then we’ve got all the LIVE races covered from a trends and stats angle – we hope they help!
14/14 – Priced 17/2 or shorter in the betting
13/14 – Aged either 6 or 7 years-old
12/14 – Had won between 1-3 times over fences previously
12/14 – Had run within the last 6 weeks
12/14 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
10/14 – Won last time out
9/14 – Irish bred
8/14 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
8/14 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s RSA Chase (2 winners)
7/14 – Placed favourites
7/14 – Winners that went onto finish 5th or better in the RSA Chase
6/14 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
3/14 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
3/14 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty
3/14 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
2/14 – Trained by Jonjo O’Neill
2/14 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 10/3
Only 6 previous runnings
6/6 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
6/6 – Won 1 or 2 chase wins
5/6 – Aged 8 or older
5/6 – Raced at either Ascot (2) or Cheltenham (3) last time out
5/6 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
4/6 – Returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
3/6 – Winning distance head or shorter
3/6 – Had raced at Ascot (fences) before
3/6 – Aged in double-figures
3/6 – Carried 10-13 or less in weight
3/6 – Irish bred
2/6 – Won last time out
2/6 – Favourites
The average winning SP in the last 6 runnings is 9/2
Sausalito Sunrise won the race 12 months ago
3.00 - Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap Hurdle Cl2 2m3f110y ITV
10/11 – Had won between 1-3 times over hurdles before
9/11 – Ran within the last 5 weeks
8/11 – Had won over 2m4f or further before
7/11 – Carried 10-12 or less
7/11 – Winning distance – 1 ¼ or less
7/11 – Aged either 5 or 6 years-old
6/11 – Winners that went onto race at that season’s Cheltenham Festival (no winners)
6/11 - Finished in the top 4 last time out
6/11 – Placed favourites
5/11 – Priced 9/1 or bigger
5/11 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
5/11 – Irish bred
4/11 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
4/11 – Had run at Ascot over hurdles before
3/11 – Winning favourite (1 joint)
2/11 – Raced at Sandown last time out
2/11 – Trained by Dr Richard Newland
The average winning SP in the last 9 runnings is 10/1
14/14 – Won over at least 2m4f (fences) previously
13/14 – Priced at 15/2 or shorter in the market
12/14 – Winners that didn’t win their next start
12/14 – Winners from the top 3 in the market
11/14 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
11/14 – Winning distance – 4 lengths or more
10/14 – Favourites placed
10/14 – Officially rated 158 or higher
9/14 – Priced 2/1 or shorter in the market
9/14 – Favourites that won
7/14 – Won between 1-4 times over fences previously
7/14 – Unplaced in their latest race
6/14 – Raced at Kempton (King George) last time out
5/14 – Winners that ran in that season’s Ryanair Chase (1 winner, Cue Card) later that year
4/14 – Won over fences at Ascot previously
4/14 – Won their last race
3/14 – Raced at Cheltenham last time out
3/14 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty
2/14 – Trained by Alan King
2/14 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
2/14 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
Cue Card won the race in 2013
8 of the last 10 winners returned 2/1 or shorter in the betting
Note: The 2005 & 2006 - Run at Lingfield Park
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 2/1
13/14 – Priced 10/1 or shorter in the betting
12/14 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
11/14 – Had won over at least 3m (hurdles) previously
10/14 – Aged 8 or younger
10/14 – Rated 145 or higher
10/14 – Placed favourites
9/14 – Winning distance – 3 ½ lengths or more
9/14 – Had won at least 4 times over hurdles before
8/14 – Aged either 6 or 7 years-old
8/14 – Placed in the top 4 last time out
8/14 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
6/14 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s World Hurdle (no winners)
6/14 – French-bred
6/14 – Had run at Haydock before
4/14 – Winning favourites
2/14 – Ran at Cheltenham last time out
2/14 – Ran at Ascot last time out
1/14 – Winning favourites
1/14 – Winners that went onto win the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 6/1
Note: The 2003, 2004, 2005 - Run at Kempton Park
3.15 - Betfred Grand National Trial (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) Cl1 3m5f ITV
14/14 – UK-based trained winners
14/14 – Had won between 2-4 times over fences (rules) before
12/14 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
12/14 – Finished in the top three last time out
12/14 – Had won just 2 or 3 times over fences (rules) before
11/14 – Aged 10 or younger
11/14 – Had raced within the last 7 weeks
10/14 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
10/14 – Aged 9 or younger
10/14 – Finished in the top two last time out
10/14 – Rated 135 or higher
9/14 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
9/14 – Carried 11-0 or less
7/14 – Unplaced favourites
7/14 – Won last time out
6/14 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s Grand National (all unplaced)
6/14 – Irish-bred winners
4/14 – Winners that won by exactly 15 lengths
4/14 – Ran in the Welsh Grand National last time out
3/14 – Won with 11-12 in weight
3/14 – Finished 1st or 2nd in the Welsh Grand National last time out
3/14 – Trained by Lucinda Russell
2/14 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 14 runnings is 10/1
Bishops Road won the race 12 months ago
13/13 – Raced within the last 8 weeks
12/13 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
12/13 – Priced 10/3 or shorter in the betting
11/13 – Favourites to finish in the top 3
11/13 – Had won at least 3 times over hurdles before
10/13 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s Champion Hurdle (1 winner Katchit)
10/13 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
8/13 – Aged either 5 or 6 years-old
8/13 – Rated 155 or higher
7/13 – Winning favourites
7/13 – Won last time out
5/13 – Raced at Sandown last time out
2/13 – Trained by Alan King
1/13 – Winners that went onto win the World Hurdle (Inglis Drever)
Rayvin Black win the race 12 months ago
The average winning SP in the last 9 runnings is 7/4
TRAINERS-QUOTES.COM: GET THE BEST INFO FROM 20 TOP STABLES EACH DAY - Sent direct to your in-box!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/sat-tv-trends.png320830Andy Newtonhttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngAndy Newton2017-02-17 13:10:492017-02-15 20:03:18Sat TV Trends: 18th Feb 2017
National Hunt racing begins its very own period of Lent today as there are now just 40 days until tapes rise on the opening races of the Cheltenham Festival. In recognition of the Festival's proximity, the laymen (that is, bookmakers) are beginning to lower their guard on their ante-post books. Far from abstinence, though, now is a time to begin to build the punting portfolio with some heartening safety nets in situ.
While many firms are non-runner no bet (NRNB) on the four Championship races - Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers' Hurdle, Gold Cup - we are starting to see wider NRNB provisions. As of yesterday, bet365 are NRNB on all Festival races; and they're also offering Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG), meaning if the starting price is greater than the price you take, you'll get paid at the greater odds. Nice.
William Hill also have a broad Festival concession. They will refund stakes on horses that miss the Festival entirely, but will refund as a free bet if the horse lines up in another race, on bets up to £25. Although the 'other race' concession offers less liberty to recycle the misplaced wager funds, say for example on something not related to betting, it is still a far sight better than losing your cash.
At time of writing, Thursday 2nd February, those are the only two firms offering 'every race' concessions, but if you're reading this at a later date do check for more bookies coming on board.
Why is NRNB important for Cheltenham Festival ante post betting?
Since the move to a four day Festival, owners and trainers have often found themselves with multiple big race options where previously there would have been only one. The intermediate distance races, such as the JLT Novices' Chase and the Ryanair Chase, and the Fred Winter, a four year old handicap hurdle, are three such noteworthy imponderables.
From a punting perspective, it was a familiar refrain of punters - who were either loose of trigger finger or simply unlucky - when a seemingly well made wager came unstuck at the changing whim of a big name handler. Worse still in this day of trainer blogs and 24/7 soundbites, not to mention the all-seeing eye of the exchange markets, one or two of those most heavily represented at the Festival skirt dangerously close to actually putting punters away such is the flippancy with which they jettison their verbal debris.
The message is clear: the messages will be unclear. Do not believe the messages. Clear? 😉
Put another way, bet365 and William Hill have presented the required insurance against which to take a contrarian view. Naturally they have taken their own measures, in terms of truncated prices, about such ambiguous propositions, but be in no doubt that this situation favours the backer more than the layer.
When to avail of NRNB in Cheltenham Festival ante post markets?
The simple answer is "always". But there are some situations - especially closer to race day - when the price differential between a NRNB firm and one offering 'all in run or not' (i.e. you do your dough if the nag doesn't show) will make it worth the risk.
But what about if a horse is more likely for another race? Or simply has more than one possible target? Or maybe has been the subject of an injury scare or unsatisfactory work reports?
In any of these scenarios, NRNB is a must, even if it means taking less than the top price offered by an 'all in' bookmaker.
Of course, regardless of bookie concession, we still have to feel there is value in the available odds!
So here follow ten 'no downside' Cheltenham Festival ante post bets...
Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Although Skybet - who sponsor the race - have joined 365 and Hills in going NRNB on the Supreme, there is little point betting ante post on the Festival's opening race. That is because, for recreational punters (up to £25 stakes) at least, there will be so much 'get cash in betting accounts' action going on in the 24 hours preceding 1.30pm on 14th March that you'll probably be out of pocket going in earlier. So let's save that for another day.
Arkle Challenge Trophy
The second race, the Arkle, looks sown up by ante-post favourite Altior who is borderline "bar a fall" material. With that in mind, you might be tempted by 4/6 NRNB and BOG with bet365, or by 8/11 NRNB with Hills. I'm not especially, as I don't have enough sixes to want some more fours!
If ever a race was a prime candidate for NRNB it is this season's Champion Hurdle where no fewer than four of the first five in the market are subject to injury scares or possible alternative targets.
Faugheen has not been seen for more than a year and missed his intended comeback at Leopardstown last weekend with a suspected pulled muscle. Given that Annie Power has yet to be seen this season, seven-time Grade 1 winner Nichols Canyon ran terribly recently as did Vroum Vroum Mag (albeit scraping home in front), and Min missed his late January Grade 1 target it is possible that something is slightly askew at Closutton. NRNB would be the only way I'd entertain a Mullins runner right now.
Yanworth also misses his scheduled engagement this weekend, and has been replaced by the re-routed Buveur d'Air, previously thought on target for the Arkle. And finally Yorkhill is not even entered for the Champion Hurdle and was last seen failing to convince (this eye at least) with his jumping in a moderate Grade 3 over fences.
That leaves Petit Mouchoir, winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle in Faugheen's absence, as the only 'definite' runner from the top quintet in the betting. Alas, he ran no better than mid-division in the Supreme, and may be better suited by a flat track. He's not for me at 5/1 tops.
We have two ways to go here: we either take a punt at a price, mindful that at least some of those making the market will not show up; or we take a chance on one of the possible no shows.
Faugheen is 6/4 NRNB, which is mildly appealing. Willie Mullins has shown many times he can get one ready off a layoff, and it's a shallow-looking edition of the race. He surely won't run if not spot on, and he'll be closer to even money if he does appear.
If Faugheen misses the party and Yanworth accepts his invitation, the latter would be around 5/2. His current NRNB quote of 5/1 with racebets looks very fair. Fourth in the Champion Bumper of 2015, and second in the Neptune last year having received an 'interesting' ride, his beating of The New One in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton looks rock solid in the context of this year's two mile division.
Given that Yorkhill has been training over fences this season, it's a little late to be thinking about reverting to the top table of hurdling. In any case, such notions are hardly a vote of confidence in Faugheen's wellbeing, even from the notoriously inscrutable Mullins camp.
I've perhaps never given Buveur d'Air the credit he deserves. After all, he was a good third in the Supreme last year before winning the Grade 1 Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree. But he too has been chasing this season to date, and reverts to timber-topping at Sandown on Saturday with a fair bit to prove. Even if he beats Brain Power - a general 8/1 chance for the Champion Hurdle - he ought not to shorten much, so there's little upside to him.
16/1 The New One is not as daft a suggestion as it first sounds in what could be a really hollow field, but Yanworth looks a bet with the concession at 5/1.
Not much else to appeal on Tuesday.
Neptune Novices' Hurdle
This looks tricky but Neon Wolf - who has been winning over two miles despite an assertion from his jockey, Noel Fehily, that he wants three - is playable NRNB. A top priced 7/1, he's 6/1 with Hills who will give you a free bet if Harry Fry's rising star diverts to the Supreme.
Finian's Oscar heads the market but he may also head to the Supreme, and anyway I'm unsure of the merit of beating Capitaine versus beating Elgin. Wholestone would also be a player if lining up here rather than the Albert Bartlett, and 12/1 is tempting with the safety net.
I'm loathe to back anything trained by Willie ante-post for reasons I've already alluded to. Apart from an unease about the stable health, I also feel they're generally under-priced because of recent Festival history. Let's be clear: Mullins is not heading into Cheltenham in anything like the form he has done in the last two seasons, and there are question marks about most of his top horses currently. There are still six weeks for that to change, so I don't want to be unequivocal, but at the same time this is a post about future wagers, and most of his charges represent no value in that context.
I'm against Might Bite, the only other horse in this market with a single figure quote, too. Sure, he would have been mightily impressive if standing up at the last in the Feltham at Kempton; but we all know what a different test that is from the RSA. And we mostly know that no Feltham winner has ever won the RSA.
"But he didn't win the Feltham", I hear you say. True dat, as the Hackney kids might retort - those with a form book and an eye for trends at least - but the balance of his form marks him down as flat track bully material. So do two defeats at Cheltenham, in spite of a win in a weak novices hurdle at the track when odds on (second horse has failed to even make the frame in seven subsequent starts, all at Class 3 or lower).
Royal Vacation was the beneficiary when Might Bite came down at Kempton, having not been able to go with that one in the run for home. On the stiffer test of Cheltenham's slopes he lugged 11-09 to victory in a novices' handicap chase last weekend. That race has proven a good portent to Festival handicap winners in recent times, but the last winner to carry near top weight was The Giant Bolster, who went on to challenge in Gold Cups.
Colin Tizzard has some pretty smart staying chasers (understatement klaxon) with which to gauge the merit of this fellow, and his progressive ratings - 121, 128, 131, 136, 144, 149, 155 his last seven on the RPR scale - mean he has more in his favour than many. 20/1 is the best price, but 16/1 can be had with Hills and buys 'other race/no race' insurance.
Cross Country Chase
I love this race and normally have a pretty strong view. But not this year. It reverted to a level weights race last year, and that means Cantlow will be a stone better off with Urgent de Gregaine for a three length beating at the weekend. But 7/4 NRNB is hardly pant-wetting in the anticipation stakes.
One of mild interest given his run style, stamina, appreciation of fast ground and target - I'm told deeply unreliably he's headed for the Grand National - might be Cause Of Causes. He'll have a bunch of other targets at the Festival, by which time his National mark will have been allotted, and he'll be given a "better judged" ride by regular big race pilot, Jamie Codd, next time.
Quoted in three other races, Cause Of Causes makes fair appeal at 12/1 NRNB, given his official Irish mark of 148 suggests he has an 18lb advantage over Cantlow's 130 on these level weights terms, and given that only one horse - from 59 rivals - has beaten him at the last three Cheltenham Festivals!
JLT Novices' Chase
An intermediate distance race, the JLT will accrue runners from both the Arkle and RSA challenges, and many currently quoted will defect to one of that pair of more established heats. As such it is a perfect NRNB punting proposition. Even more so, given that the 2/1 ante-post favourite, Yorkhill, jumps a fence so badly he may be redirected to the Champion Hurdle. Of course, such a detour hints strongly at his level of ability, but he simply pleads to be taken on.
The speculative dart here lands on the five year old Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon. He fell when appearing not to stay in the Feltham at Christmas, but before that took out a competitive Grade 3 handicap chase against far more experienced rivals at Cheltenham. And before that he was still cruising when making a howitzer of a blunder four from home at the same Festival track.
This looks his trip and he acts at the course making 20/1 NRNB BOG with bet365 well worth a penny or two.
Another middle distance race, the Ryanair dilutes the Queen Mother and Gold Cup - according to its detractors at least - and makes life difficult for 'all in run or not' punters.
Un De Sceaux heads the market after his rescheduled Clarence House win at Cheltenham last weekend. There he beat a fast-closing Uxizandre, who was returning to the track after close to two years off, over the minimum distance. This extra half mile-plus is likely in Uxizandre's favour, but I do have a doubt about the dreaded 'bounce' (when a horse underperforms second time off a long layoff having run very well first time back).
Six weeks between runs is probably enough for Uxi to recover and, if he brings his A game, 7/1 with Hills is big. A Cheltenham record of 2112, including a second in the JLT of 2014 and a win in this race a year later, adds further lustre to his claims.
It's really not a great race, though one who is definitely worth the 'money back as a free bet' chance is 14/1 Djakadam. Far more likely to head to the Gold Cup, for which he's a general 6/1 chance and in which he's been second the last two years, there was talk from the Mullins team of a tilt at the Ryanair. If he were to run here, he'd be more like a 5/1 chance, and if - as is likely - he doesn't, we'll get a free bet opportunity on something else.
Unowhatimeanharry is a legitimate favourite and a strong contender for staying honours, but that is borne out in a top quote of 7/4. He's unbeaten in eight since Harry Fry acquired him from Helen Nelmes, and his rating has soared from 125 to 167.
While Fry may have left something to work on at Cheltenham last weekend, he only had a length and a quarter to spare over 2015 World Hurdle winner, Cole Harden. What is most noteworthy about the former champ's performance is that he was expected to hate the soft ground and was sent off a massive 20/1, having been much shorter in the morning.
Warren Greatrex's runner is a bit of a hostage to fortune in that he likes to lead in his races, and there will be challenges for that honour in March, but so too were there here and yet he ran highly creditably. The form looks very solid with West Approach and Ballyoptic filling the next two places at respectful distances, and the old guard - including the still quite young Old Guard (!) - were well beaten off.
Hills are joint top price at 14/1, and that looks a perfectly palatable win/place play.
The Triumph Hurdle becomes increasingly impenetrable for those of us without a handle on the French form book, and I will defer in favour of more approachable puzzles, like the...
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
Let's go long here if we can. Like the race itself, where horses are usually asked to do something they've never done before, I'm looking for a horse that has thus far been taken out of its comfort zone in Graded company: horses at the head of the market, like West Approach and Wholestone, may just have too much class and not enough stamina for the spudsfest.
Invitation Only is a little shorter than I'd like, at 12/1, but he fits the bill having been badly outpaced in a Navan Grade 2 over two and a half miles last time when sent off at even money. That effort, allied to his barreling win in a three mile point suggests he'll love this longer trip, and he's likely to prove more courage than class in the fullness of time. Just the sort that wins your average Albert Bartlett.
The Blue Riband has looked a buggers' muddle all season, and I struck my first - and only meaningful - ante post wager on Djakadam at 14/1 back in November. The logic was clear: plenty had participation doubts, not least Coneygree and Don Cossack.
We now know neither will show, and Thistlecrack's hitherto aura of invincibility has just dissipated sufficiently to envisage another usurping his presumed procession to top honours.
But race looks sewn up from an ante post perspective, the bookies having a half nelson on the form.
But there might just be one at a huge price that could play a hand. Last year's RSA Chase winner, Blaklion, was less than eight lengths behind Native River in the Hennessy off level weights (less a pound).
He's had one disappointing run since, at Wetherby on Boxing Day, and on ratings he's probably ten pounds below making the frame in a normal Gold Cup; but I'm not convinced this is the deepest renewal.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' eight-year-old stays well, handles the track and goes in any ground. There's a good chance he lacks the requisite class but at 50/1 he's worth a tiny dabble BOG NRNB with bet365.
From here, all roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival and, with bookmakers finally lowering their guard by offering non-runner no bet across all races, it may be time for some preliminary skirmishes. Most, if not all, of the ten horses flagged above will either start shorter or not run - triggering cash back or a free bet in lieu - and a single winner would at least go close to covering the losers.
p.s. those are my plays in the NRNB markets. What truffles have you snouted out from your own ante post foraging? Leave a comment and share the hope!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/CheltenhamFestivalBookmakerOffers5.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2017-02-02 14:56:032017-02-02 15:22:1410 'No Downside' Cheltenham Ante Post Bets
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the underlying trends that give us hope of finding a few winners at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
My analysis will be less stats driven, (that’s Matt’s speciality) but rather more observational. I’ve been heading to the Cotswolds in March for many years now, and hopefully can put some of that experience to good use, in at least guiding punters in the right direction, if not necessarily singling out individual winners.
Today’s piece will focus on the incredible impact of King’s Theatre progeny on Jump racing’s greatest festival.
Classy, if not top-class on the Flat, he was retired to stud in 1997, standing at Ballylinch in County Kilkenny. He was the Champion National Hunt Sire on a couple of occasions, and forever among the leading half dozen. Sadly, he died in June 2011 at the age of 20, but his influence on jump racing goes on. In recent years, the number of Cheltenham Festival winners that he has produced is quite incredible.
An important factor in the King’s Theatre success story is undoubtedly the drying conditions during the spring festivals. Though the offspring are generally adaptable towards ground conditions, they do tend to prefer a sounder surface. Prestbury Park in March is often ideal.
Cue Card was once a perfect example of the typical King’s Theatre progeny, though in recent years he has developed into a racehorse capable of performing to the highest level in all ground conditions. Nevertheless, in his younger days, a sounder surface was thought ideal, and when he romped home in the Ryanair Chase of 2013, it was his speed that set him apart from runner-up First Lieutenant. He’ll be back for another crack in March, possibly looking to add another Ryanair success to his impressive CV.
Phillip Hobbs has trained several that have brought Cheltenham Festival success the way of the outstanding jumps sire. Back in 2010, Menorah caused something of an upset in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when getting the better of Get Me Out Of Here and Dunguib. Captain Chris was another Hobbs inmate that landed a Grade 1 at the showpiece event, when taking the Arkle Chase in 2011. When he returned 12 months later, he could only manage fourth in the Ryanair behind yet another from the prolific sire, in the Nicky Henderson trained Riverside Theatre.
The New One has become something of a National Hunt hero, and he’ll be back at Cheltenham in March, though a target has yet to be confirmed. Yet another from the phenomenal King’s Theatre production line, he has been unsuccessful in his attempts at lifting the Champion Hurdle, yet we must not forget that he did claim a Cheltenham Festival victory when romping home in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle back in 2013, defeating Rule The World and Ponte Alexandre in the process.
AP McCoy gave a riding masterclass, when winning the William Hill Trophy aboard Wichita Lineman at The Festival in 2009. The horse was far from orthodox over a fence, but the Champion Jockey cajoled, bullied and up the famous hill, threw everything at Jonjo’s fella to get him home by a neck in a truly thrilling three-mile chase. Yet it’s easy to forget just how good a hurdler Wichita was, as that was his second Cheltenham Festival win, having captured the Albert Bartlett, (then the Brit Insurance} by a country-mile in 2007.
Another King’s Theatre hurdler that took the Albert Bartlett by storm, was the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze. Tragically killed when escaping from his paddock just months later, he had looked a future star having defeated the well-touted Boston Bob at The Festival in 2012.
Others from the prodigious bloodline to strike at Jump racing’s greatest meeting include; Fingal Bay, Balthazar King, Diamond King and the classy mare Glens Melody. And there’s numerous others that have come frustratingly close in recent years. Southfield Theatre got within a nose in the Pertemps Network Final. Voler La Vedette was unfortunate to run into the mighty Quevega in 2010, then lost out to the almighty Big Bucks two years later.
If those were luckless in not appearing on the Cheltenham Festival roll of honour, then spare a thought for the Willie Mullins trained Shaneshill. Currently a three-time runner-up on the main-stage, could he make it fourth time lucky in March. Chances are that he will be running in the World Hurdle. Like so many by King’s Theatre, he appears at his best when the ground dries out, and undoubtedly raises his game at the ‘home of jump racing’.
And there’s other fancied types that will be hoping to add to the prolific King’s Theatre Festival record.
It’s hard to imagine Shaneshill not going close once again, but what of stable companion Bellshill? Another owned by festival regular Graham Wylie, he has failed to spark on his previous two ventures to the track, but a step-up in trip may well help to put the record straight. He’s made a seamless transition to fences, and looks set to contest either the JLT or the RSA in March. The latter appears most likely, and his pair of victories thus far over the winter, suggest that he’s one of Ireland’s leading novice chasers.
I mentioned earlier in the piece that Diamond King was already a Cheltenham Festival winner. He took the Coral Cup last year, and has one victory from his three starts over fences. Highly tried in his last two, he looks just short of top-class, though was running a huge race in the Drinmore Novice Chase, before getting in close at the last and losing all momentum. He’s now on a handicap mark that could make him competitive in the Festival Plate over 2m5f. He’s currently best-priced 25/1 for the race. Better ground is vital for this fella, and he will be an interesting each-way proposition wherever he turns up.
In my review of Warwick on Monday, I commented on the performance of Peregrine Run, in conditions he would have hated. He’s undoubtedly a King’s Theatre progeny that requires a sounder surface. I’m of the opinion that this year’s Neptune lacks depth, and I maintain that Peter Fahey’s fella is a live each-way proposition. I’ll certainly be throwing a little ‘Keeling-Cash’ at him.
Born Survivor, William Henry and Royal Vacation will also be of interest, when a battalion of King’s Theatre offspring gather for the four-day extravaganza. Last year, of the 21 horses representing the stallion, a third finished top four in their respective races, though only Diamond King struck gold. In a few weeks, selecting the winners from the also-rans will once again become an all-consuming task.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Cheltenham-Festival.jpg275579Nigel Keelinghttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngNigel Keeling2017-01-18 07:48:132017-01-18 07:49:54Cheltenham Festival Pointers - King's Theatre
Last night I took part in London Racing Club's National Hunt season preview. The panel was comprised of four estimable gentlemen of the fourth estate (Rory Delargy, Tony Calvin, Alex Steedman and Paul Jacobs, with Paul Kealy guest starring as well)... and me!
In truth, I was the weakest link, the others being far more polished - and more in tune with the NH form book at this stage of the season - but sadly I don't have their notes. 😉
What follows are the notes I made for the evening, covering this weekend's racing (especially the BetVictor Gold Cup), some of the major races up to the turn of the year, and some horses to follow this season. Hopefully there are a few bobbins of interest in their midst.
Steel Plate and Sections Novices' Chase – Recent winners: More Of That 3rd RSA, TdS 1st JLT, Dynaste 2nd JLT (then Jewson), Grands Crus 6/5 fav RSA, Time For Rupert 7/4 fav RSA.
THE WINNER IS WORTH NOTING
Hyde Nov Hurdle – Recent winners: Shantou Village 7/2 fav Alb B, Parlour Games 2nd Neptune (13/2), Coneygree missed Fest, won GC following year; Fingal Bay missed Fest, 2nd G1 Sefton Aintree; Champion Court 4th Alb B; Tell Massini 10/3 fav Alb B; Diamond Harry 3rd Neptune; Massini’s Maguire WON Neptune (20/1)
THE WINNER IS WORTH NOTING
BetVictor Gold Cup
Thanks to HorseRaceBase for this… Since 1997,
Horses with between 3 and 10 UK/Ire chase starts: 15/175 (8.6%SR) -12.75 SP
Horses with 11+ chase starts: 4/122 (3.3%SR) -78 SP
More Of That rock solid on form. 11113 at the track incl. course/distance. Ground agnostic, classy. But… trainer out of form 0/47 since 21st October (only 6 placed).
Obviously that can change, so keep an eye on his runners between now and then.
Frodon 4yo getting weight for age, unbeaten in three over fences, on a four timer but he’ll face more rivals here than in four UK wins combined. Won a G2 when last man standing last weekend. Hoping Harry Cobden, who writes a blog for geegeez, can do it. No such worries about trainer (or jockey) form with this lad.
Bouvreuil – Very lightly raced, 2nd in novices’ handicap chase at Festival (course and distance, Old). 7lb higher here, but no doubt still improving.
Stilletto – Johnny Farrelly 57/404 in handicaps 14% SR, +44pts. Cheltenham form not great (tailed off, fell) but loads of upside after just nine runs (six chases)
Sizing Granite – Stepping up from two miles, has stamina to prove. Good enough to win G1 at Aintree last year, first run for Colin Tizzard (going well at the moment), first time in a handicap. 25/1 tempting.
Double Shuffle – 4.5L behind Bovril in nov hcap chase at Fest, no real reason to expect reversal of form on same terms here.
Aso – Beat Ballyalton at Warwick last year, collateral form that gives him the beating of both Bovril and Double Shuffle at the weights. Fair enough run in the Arkle and won a reasonable chase since then. Not sure what sort of form the Venetia stable is in.
Sizing Platinum – still to prove he stays this far, and rain not in his favour (all best form on top of the ground)
Johnny Og – 5/10 in chases, incl. last 3 completed starts. Fell having been used inefficiently in the four miler at the Fest, will not be allowed his own way in front. (NON RUNNER)
Wide open, as you’d expect. Buywise and Annacotty will have to be better than ever to top the charts this time.
MORE OF THAT rock solid if Jonjo can show a bit of zest with his runners in the rest of the week. Hoping for a big run from FRODON and Harry. If he runs, Sizing Granite is attractively priced at 25/1 and Aso would be over-priced on soft ground.
The sponsors are paying six places.
Thoughts on THISTLECRACK
Gorgeous beast. Great athleticism at Chepstow, where he only met one on the wrong stride. Fiddled it with ease. Beat a 150-odd rated horse with plenty in hand. He probably should be GC favourite – Coneygree not seen for a year, is he the same horse? Don Cossack back in Jan/never; Valseur Lido a possible but can’t be fav for the race.
Do I want to back him at 7/2? Not even with your money! A lot can and will happen between now and middle March, and if most of it doesn’t happen to Thistlecracker then he’ll be 2/1 on the day. That’s more playable than 7/2 now if you’re into backing shorties in the Gold Cup.
The World Hurdle winner from the previous year is available at 33/1 for the GC currently, its stated seasonal target; and Thistle’s trainer has another interesting GC prospect himself (that isn’t rising eleven – more on that later!)
*Anthony Honeyball may run Ms Parfois in the Mares’ bumper. She’s very nice and worth following, but might want further. She’d be one of his best two mares for this season. Tacenda, who could run Monday at Plumpton, is the other.
Sternrubin good 3rd in County off 142. Trainer/owner won this with Rooster Booster and Detroit City. Philip Hobbs has also won with Garde La Victoire two years ago, and Menorah in 2010.
Paul Nicholls has had 6 of 16 placed (3 winners). Modus form tied in with Sternrubin – Ascot. He gets two pound pull for 3/4L. Probably depends which comes on most from seasonal debuts. At prices, Sternrubin’s 12/1 more appealing than Modus’ 8/1
Winter Escape is three from three and, if he can win this, he’ll become the British hope for Champion Hurdle honours in a very weak-looking domestic division. I can’t back him at 5/2 or 3/1 though.
Last two winners went on to win at the Festival (SS and Uxi). Henry de Bromhead remains in great form, in spite of losing the Potts’ horses, and his Special Tiara is the best of these on ratings. He is a bold front runner who will probably get his way at the head of affairs, so as long as the ground is no worse than good to soft, he’ll take some pegging back.
BIG RACES LATER ON...
Native River is a horse I want to be with this season. He stays very well, has class, and could make up into a GC contender. Looking like getting in here off 11-0 or so, he ought to go well. 7/1 is unexciting though probably about right, but 33/1 for the GC is more of a dart than 7/2 Thistlecrack, imo.
Un Temps Pour Tout is another with the right profile for the race (age, weight, rating) . He’s second favourite, though so I’m afraid this isn’t a race in which I have any meaningful insights.
Too far away to get buzzed up for just yet, but Coneygree’s Feltham run was almost as scintillating as his Gold Cup win. If he showed up, especially with a prep in the bank, he’d be the one to beat.
I hope I’m wrong but it might be that Cue Card – eleven on Jan 1st – will struggle to retain his crown.
HORSES FOR THE SEASON
2 Mile Hurdlers
WPM has a stranglehold here, in a division where Britain is searching for a new star. With the likes of Altior and Buveur d’Air going novice chasing, and Yanworth possibly stepping up in trip, there is very little to excite this side of the pond.
Whatever wins the Greatwood – assuming it’s not totally exposed – will probably get a Champion Hurdle quote in the absence of anything else. Hopefully it will be Winter Escape.
Sceau Royal is rated higher – 156 after his most recent run – but that still gives him a stone and a half to find on a peak form Faugheen.
Very unlikely Faugheen and Annie P take each other on in the Ch Hdle – in the same ownership let alone same trainer, with so many alternatives at the Fez.
2 Mile Chasers
Douvan just wins when he stands up. Impossible to crab the brilliant Sprinter Sacre. What he did last season was the stuff of scriptwriter’s wet dreams. But he’s going to be eleven in January, and even at the height of his power would have had a race on his hooves against Douvan. Douvan is more versatile pace wise than UDS and wouldn’t evaporate on the lead like that one did in the QMCC in March.
VVM exciting. ‘Only’ rated 155 by the Irish ‘capper at the end of a season where she won 5 from 5, taking her UK/Ire record to 10/10, she won from two miles to three miles, from good to soft to heavy, from ungraded to Grade 1, and in fields of four to 19. Oh, and over hurdles and fences, and against boys as well as girls. She is amazing, and will surely face tougher tests this season. She’s the ultimate utility player, which is to say she is untouchable as an ante post proposition except in Hills’ “to win any race” market (though 2/1 reflects her versatility).
Nichols Canyon should be going to the World Hurdle, and ought to shorten from his current 10/1 quote with Coral. Whether he win a World Hurdle is a moot point, but at least we know what rough plan with this chap.
As well as Thistlecrack, we must hope that Don Cossack and Coneygree make it back into the fold and show their old lustre.
Djakadam will only be eight next year, and he’s been second in two Gold Cups. If he can get his jumping together a bit more, 14/1 about his GC chance is perfectly fair if you’re into a/p wagering at this time of year.
Alpha Des Obeauxwas much the most credible danger to Thistlecrack last season and, if the latter goes the open company route, AdO looks the major player in staying novice chasers. Kind of interesting that he’s already run three times in minor events in the past few weeks, though.
Battleford, second in both the Chelt and Aintree Festival Bumpers, is going staying hurdling and could form part of the Mullins battalion in the potato race. Should pick up a G1 before then.
Horses to Look Out For
Ar Mad and Traffic Fluide from the Gary Moore stable. Both looked exciting prospects last season, both got crocked. Both are on the way back, both may have racecourse gallops soon, before both are scheduled to run in the Tingle Creek (against another Moore inmate, Sire de Grugy).
Traffic Fluide could potentially go up in trip to the Ryanair distance but showed plenty of toe behind UDS at Aintree in January before injury intervened.
Ar Mad won the G1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown and the G2 Wayward Lad at Kempton, as well as an egg and spoon race at Plumpton ahead of his own early bath. Fingers crossed they can pick up where they left off and challenge the Irish.
Ms Parfois and Tacenda, as mentioned earlier, are worth following. Whether they stay in mares’ bumpers or go novice hurdling I’m not sure.
Ms Parfois is a powerful mare who probably wants three miles in time; Tacenda was going to win her maiden point when unseating (very soft) at the last. She’s filled out beautifully.
Act Now has a mark of 98 with which to go handicap hurdling this season. On very soft ground, she could be progressive.
And Pure Vision is a lot better than he’s shown over hurdles so far – I hope. Still awaiting an opening mark, he’ll win handicap hurdles this season before going on to be a very nice chasing prospect next term.
Finally, The Geegeez Geegee has had a wind op since he was last seen and, if it makes any positive difference, he has to be competitive now dropped to the basement grade. (Apologies for lowering the tone!!)
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/lrcNHpreview.jpg320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-11-10 12:04:442016-11-10 12:04:44The NH Season Cometh...
Breeders' Cup XXXIII (or 33, as we like to say over here) was a feast of high class racing action. Although many of the main characters, let alone the bit part players, would be unfamiliar to most European viewers, the quality and competitiveness of the racing will have shone through the cathode ray tube in even the most grizzled of black and white tellybox households.
The problem with quality competitive races is that it makes punting fiendishly tricky. Last year across the same weekend, I'd managed to land on some bumper payoffs, and shared those suggestions with subscribers to the geegeez Breeders' Cup Compendium. Winners at 25/1, 14/1, 12/1, and on, were unlikely to be repeated; sadly, the reality was that winners of any colour were very hard to come by at a meeting where just one favourite obliged, and he was 12/1 for most of the day in UK.
Although there is a silver lining to this story, here in unnervingly realistic technicolour is my take on the picks in that report, race by race, along with the videos, so you can judge for yourself whether we were unlucky or I am merely deluded.
It started Friday night GMT, with the
½ pt win GOOD SAMARITAN 6/1 - 3rd 5/2 (horror run, never nearer)
Three decent value calls here, all easily beating SP. Good Samaritan was comfortably the best horse in the race but suffered a tough trip. He's one to follow.
"On the first turn, it looked like the horse in front of me clipped heels so I had to take a hold of Good Samaritan and wait a little longer. After all of the (early trouble), he responded very nicely. He´s a good horse" - Joel Rosario, jockey
¼ pt e/w POINT PIPER 28/1 - 6th 33/1 (held up, never nearer)
This was really all about Dortmund, who was massively disappointing. Many people's banker of the weekend - including mine - he was cooked turning in, along with a number of my own good-looking multiples.
Juvenile Fillies' Turf
¼ pt win LA CORONEL 9/1 - 6th 5/1 (held up wide, headway 2f out, kept on, never nearer)
¼ pt win VICTORY TO VICTORY 14/1 - Non-Runner
¼ pt win NEW MONEY HONEY 14/1 - WON 9/1 (prominent, quickened, kept on well)
¼ pt win RYMSKA 25/1 - 5th 20/1 (held up, kept on well, never near to challenge)
"I was further back than I wanted and was five, six wide so it was very difficult for La Coronel to win from there" - Florent Geroux, jockey
A winner, albeit for fun stakes, and good runs from our other pair to make the line up. All well in front of SP again.
Stellar Wind lost this at the start: she gave the other two at the head of the market five lengths or so at the gate, was sent wide rather than inside around the home turn costing more ground, and stayed on behind the duelling leaders inside the final quarter. This looked a pretty average big race ride to me.
1 pt win YELLOW AGATE 6/1 - 10th 11/2 (short of room and hampered, lost position, steadily weakened)
1 pt e/w JAMYSON N’GINGER 12/1 - 5th 12/1 (held up, kept on, never nearer)
Yellow Agate had a troubled passage - almost clipped heels - but was probably not good enough in truth. Jamyson N'Ginger was last at the end of the back stretch and managed to pass six of her rivals, but the birds had flown. She too got chopped at the start.
½ pt e/w CATCH A GLIMPSE 25/1 - 8th 20/1 (led then tracked from 2nd, weakened final furlong)
An inspired Frankie ride on Queen's Trust to win this, and I got the bet here totally wrong, not that I'd have been on Frankie in any case. Seventh Heaven is more of a 12f filly than 10f, and she ran like it. Catch A Glimpse was a fair call, running well for a long time, but the bet was over-staked - should have been ¼ pt e/w.
1 pt win A.P. INDIAN 2/1 - 4th 9/4 (chased leaders, soon ridden, lost 3rd late on)
The Indian had been on the go a long time, and that may have been the issue here. So too may have been the trip west, though he's proven on the road having won at four different tracks in 2016. Either way, he didn't bring his A game to the table, and was never in this. Disappointing effort. Hats off to the winner, another huge Baffert improver.
½ pt e/w HOLY LUTE 16/1 - 6th 20/1 (midfield, pushed along entering straight, outpaced)
½ pt e/w CELESTINE 10/1 - 12th 7/1 (in rear, soon beaten)
½ pt e/w AMBITIOUS BREW 14/1 (midfield, hung on the bend 2f out, weakened)
Ugh. I was happy to take three shots here, but they should have all been penny plays in a wide open race. I over-staked by two here. Amazingly, this was the one race the favourite won in the entire meeting. He was a 'class turnback' horse (Grade 1 performer dropping to 6.5f), the same as Celestine and A Lot; and that angle seems to hold sway at the moment over the course specialists when the Turf Sprint comes to Santa Anita. It's a wacky race...
½ pt e/w THEORY 10/1 - 10th 12/1 (tracked leaders, soon beaten)
¼ pt e/w LOOKIN AT LEE 33/1 - 4th 33/1 (held up, kept on, never nearer)
Another wide open race. Theory ran a limp sort of race, but Lookin At Lee was a place away from hitting the board. In fairness, he was a couple of lengths behind the third but his jockey might have asked for more earlier. No real complaints though. The second horse, Not This Time, was a bit unlucky and quotes of 14/1 for the Kentucky Derby for a locally-trained colt who should relish the longer distance are reasonable, though not especially exciting.
2 pts win FLINTSHIRE 5/2 - 2nd 2/1 (prominent, kept on but no chance with winner)
¼ pt e/w MONEY MULTIPLIER 40/1 - 6th 25/1 (in touch, outpaced a furlong out)
I wrote this in the guide:
I have backed Flintshire. I think he has a rock solid chance to become the first horse aged six or above to win the Turf, and I will win a pretty penny if he does. My historical hoodoo in the race, however, means you’d probably be foolish to follow me in, even though his price on the day ought to be slightly shorter than the current 5/2 (11/4 Betway if you can get on with them). Found deserves enormous respect for her exploits over the past two seasons, and she’s an incredibly consistent top class mare. But surely this is a bridge too far. Surely! Highland Reel is a slightly fresher horse, and the pace – or lack of it – in the race could play into his hands. He has real class, and I think he’s the biggest danger. Of the rest, there will be worse each way bets over the weekend than Money Multiplier, and Ulysses would not be a shock winner if living up to the murmurings.
The winning ride was as enterprising as it was predictable, and I should have had a saver on it in the picks. But it should have probably not been necessary had Javier Castellano not been caught in a trap - horses front and right - at a key juncture in the race. The pain of this race just keeps burning...
2016 2nd Flintshire
2015 2nd Golden Horn
2014 2nd Flintshire
2013 2nd The Fugue
2012 3rd St Nicholas Abbey
2011 6th Midday
2010 3rd Bekhabad (I still can't believe Dangerous Midge won!)
2009 WON Conduit (whoop)
2008 4th Soldier Of Fortune
2007 5th Dylan Thoma (possibly my worst Breeders' Cup result ever, though a number of contenders are in this list)
2006 Ah, enough already - 6th Hurricane Run for the record...
I. Hate. This. Race. (I just watched the tape again, and it looks worse every time I see it...)
½ pt win TEPIN 3/1 - 2nd 7/2 (held up, chased winner but always held)
I have no idea how Tourist won this. He showed hitherto unseen dash to repel Tepin's game charge. Maybe it was the sizzling pace which he's not faced too often in his races. Ironicus did what Ironicus now seems to do, and finish fast and (too too) late. This race rather summed things up, with the win bet finishing 2nd and the each way play smashing SP and finishing 4th.
2 pts win ARROGATE 11/4 - WON 7/4 (prominent, headway 2f out, got up last 50 yards)
1/5th pt e/w HOPPERTUNITY 28/1 - 4th 20/1 (held up, ran on, not reach leaders)
1/10th pt e/w WIN THE SPACE 100/1 - 9th 100/1 (in rear, soon beaten)
A winner of the finale, and a terrific race, too. We might have nicked a couple more place shekels as Hoppertunity just failed to collar Keen Ice in the last stride. The top two were eleven lengths clear, and are probably the best pair of racehorses in the world right now. If you haven't watched this year, it's worth the time. Arrogate is a machine.
At the end of it all, as a result of some tough races, some tough luck, and some poor staking/picking, we finished down 15 points. Ouch. It was five weeks of work to produce 15,000 words, pace charts, stats tables, form summaries and so on... and when it pans out like 2015 it is a thing of wonder. When it pans out like 2016, it is a desperate waste of time. Alas, we only know after the fact which it will be: the effort expended was the same, the results achieved polarically different.
It will be little consolation to most that I crashed and burned as badly as those who followed me in. However, what may be of some consolation is the following...
I mentioned on Saturday that I had decided to donate £10 (50%) from every gross sale to the Injured Jockeys' Fund in light of the unthinkable news about Freddy Tylicki. Partly as a result of how things went picks-wise over the weekend, and partly because it's just a decent thing to do, I'm not going to send them 50%. I'm going to send 75% of the gross revenues.
201 of you signed up for a copy of the Compendium - you can download it here if you want to have a flick through - for gross sales of £4,020. Although I have to pay a handful of affiliate commissions, plus VAT, PayPal fees, and tax on all of those sales, I will pledge £3,015 to IJF on behalf of the geegeez readership. I'll take a small hit financially, and write off a lot of work time. But so what? It's irrelevant in the grand scheme when sat next to, well, most things in truth, but certainly the events of Kempton Park last week and the distinctly unwelcome lasting legacy of that afternoon.
I'm really sorry results were so frustrating/disappointing/naff* (*delete as applicable), but at least we've been able to support a fantastic charity at a time of keen focus.
In the coming days, when I work out how to, I will add permanent buttons for visitors to donate directly to either of IJF or Racing Welfare any time they'd like to. That is, of course, entirely optional, but if, say, you have a nice win - perhaps because of the toolkit inside Geegeez Gold - you might like to send a couple of coins to a worthy cause.
Thank you so much for supporting the Compendium and, for those who only signed up because of the charitable element, special thanks. To all, I'm really sorry it didn't work out better this time.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Highland-Reel-SAnita-1A.jpg308500Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-11-08 22:28:542016-11-08 23:30:50Breeders' Cup 2016: Punting Debrief
The 2016 production of Breeders’ Cup poses as many questions as any of the 32 renewals that preceded it, with two days of high class closure promised against that film set backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains this weekend.
Three of the most poignant riddles can be found where the shortest of the thirteen Breeders’ Cup race favourites are reposed: in the Dirt Mile, the Distaff, and the Classic itself.
Dortmund (Dirt Mile), Songbird (Distaff) and California Chrome (Classic) have shown themselves to be champion material, but are they more likely to get the job done or come unstitched by the elevated company, and the specific demands, of this weekend’s assignments? In short, is this trio comprised of bankers, or blowouts?
My thoughts below are primarily based on an interpretation of market value, as opposed to who the most likely winner may be. That ought to become apparent as you skip through.
Dortmund is favoured, at around even money in the early wagering skirmishes, to prevail in the Dirt Mile on Friday. Maligned by some as the easy option for Chrome-dodging Classic contenders, it shaped to be a more intriguing – if less high class – encounter than the showpiece until the defection of Frosted to that latter finale.
Of those who are engaged, Dortmund’s form in not winning towers above his ‘Dirty Mile’ rivals. A sequence of second-third-second relates that he was closest to California Chrome twice, and only bested by that one and super-smart mare, Beholder, when settling for bronze in between.
He’s two from two at a mile, albeit in lesser company, and ‘turns back’ to that distance here, a tactic consistently adopted by Dirt Mile winners (perhaps offering credence to those who say this is the slot for failed Classic aspirants).
The big danger, possibly the only danger, was Frosted, Godolphin’s gorgeous grey. But he turns his back on the turn back, even after recording a monster 123 Beyer speed figure in the Metropolitan Handicap over a mile three starts ago.
In Frosted’s absence, the market has Runhappy and Gun Runner as the most credible alternatives. This pair of runners don’t look cut from the same cloth as the horse named after a German city, and which runs in the colours of the stars and stripes.
Regular readers will know of my hitherto unwavering affection for Runhappy, a horse who shunned raceday medication when thrusting a small town girl trainer into the limelight as he seared home in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
But it’s been more Unhappy than Runhappy since then. An acrimonious split between horse and trainer has seen the four-year-old son of Super Saver race just twice more. The first of that pair was in the Malibu Stakes last December, when he was good enough to beat Grade 1 opposition over seven furlongs.
The second was more than nine months later, five weeks ago, in the Ack Ack Handicap, a Grade 3 over a mile. On that first attempt at the mile, he weakened out of it in the final eighth. Of course, there’s every chance he’ll improve for the much-needed run; but still, that wasn’t the sort of performance that strikes fear into a horse of the class of Dortmund.
Gun Runner is a three-year-old who was good enough, and precocious enough, to be third in the Kentucky Derby in early May. He’s been on the go ever since, racking up seven starts and three wins in 2016. But his Grade 1 scorecard is blank with a pair of bronzes rounded out by a fifteen-length trouncing at the hands of the enigma that is Arrogate – more of him anon.
It is possible that Dortmund could be compromised by a battle for the early lead with Runhappy, but more likely is that he’ll track that one’s superior sprint toe and pick him off somewhere in the final 330 yards.
To my eye, and through my wallet, Dortmund looks banker material, and I’ve played him as such in a dutched double with Lord Nelson and A P Indian in the Sprint.
Eleven runs, eleven wins, by an aggregate of 60 ½ lengths. What is not to love about the beautiful Songbird? Honestly? Nothing. And yet…
If we poke a little deeper into that spotless record, there are a couple of niggles. Three in fact.
The first is the clock, or at least the Beyer interpretation of ol’ tickety-tock. Songbird has troubled the triple digit trackers only once in that eleven-race sequence when she recorded a 101. In her defence – not that she needs my support there – that career high speed figure was produced in her only try at the nine-furlong Distaff distance. Moreover, it is not her fault that she’s been unextended to bash the daylights out of every filly reckless enough to line up alongside. And yet…
In four juvenile starts she raced exclusively against her own age group. There’s nothing wrong with that of course – it’s absolutely the norm. But in seven races this term, she has still yet to face an older rival. Here she is then, stepping out of Under-21 class and into Open company for the first time. Is she good enough? Probably. Possibly. It depends on the quality of the open company she will face.
And therein lies the third niggle. She is facing not one but two extremely talented older horses in Beholder and Stellar Wind.
Beholder was considered the main – many felt, the only – danger to American Pharoah in the 2015 Classic until spiking a temperature after a troubled ride to Keeneland and scratching from the main event, where she was bidding for a record third Breeders’ Cup win in three different events. There are no such travel headaches here, on her home sand, where she has a record of 13 wins from 15 starts.
She was second in the other two, once in 2013 and then last time out, a neck behind Stellar Wind. Beholder is six now and, though she carries her class brilliantly – she’s notched Beyer figures of 101-101-106-110 in her last four starts – there is an aura of aging susceptibility about a finishing position sequence of 1222 in that quartet of rapid shemozzles.
It can readily be argued that she was unlucky to record a 110 and get beaten – not many horses do that each year – and it was against Stellar Wind to whom she gave best, by no more than a neck, in a thrilling stretch battle. Her conqueror, a four-year-old daughter of Curlin, has been lightly raced this season, competing just three times.
Beaten into second by Beholder on the first of those, she has turned the tables in both subsequent matchups, and her form cycle has a likably upward trajectory to it. She looks set to enjoy a good trip just off the heels of the leaders – expected to be Beholder, I’m A Chatterbox, and possibly Songbird – and if she can match or better her last run she is the biggest danger to Songbird’s unbeaten sequence.
It looks a fantastic race, and one which is very hard to call. My heart says Songbird, my value head says Stellar Wind.
Songbird: Blowout (but I hope I’m wrong)
And so to the main event, and the coronation of a homecoming king, California Chrome. That’s how things look betting-wise, but is it as cut and dried as that? An almost full field tells you that plenty are prepared to buy a ticket in this $6 million lottery. Sadly for some wannabe’s in that midst, not all tickets are issued equally in this draw.
The Classic credentials of Chrome are as immediately appealing as those of Songbird in the Distaff: an unblemished six-for-six record in 2016 that has taken in the $10 million Dubai World Cup amongst two other Grade 1 scores.
Chromey’s consistency on the clock is confirmed with ratings of 111-113-112 in his last three outings, numbers that would usually be good enough to claim a Classic. And that might well be how it comes to pass: there may be a coronation but there is unlikely to be a procession in the manner of American Pharoah’s Beholder-less romp last year.
Here, even if you discount the prospects of Frosted, as I do – form of 42375 at 1m2f and beyond, his blitzkrieging 123 speed figure recorded over a mile, the Dirt Mile the obvious slot for him – there remains a monumental fly in the ointment.
His name is Arrogate and, if you’ve never heard of him, that’s all right. Very few people outside of the Southern California scene had prior to his last run. There, he vanned from coast to coast to rock up as an ‘also ran’ 12/1 poke in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, having compiled a four-game unbeaten streak in maiden special weights and optional allowance claimers: not the stuff of Grade 1 winners as a rule.
There were no rules when Arrogate smashed his field to smithereens in the manner of a UFC champion gone doolally at an amateur boxing club. At the first call he had a lead of half a length. Half a mile into that ten-furlong top class event, he’d extended his advantage to a length. After six furlongs, he was two up, and at the mile the lead had stretched out to seven and a half lengths over a field of genuine Grade 1 horses.
In the last quarter, he ran them ragged, adding another six lengths to the second horse’s distance beaten tally, under little more than hand urging.
It was a mesmerizing, sensational, jaw-dropping, clock-stopping performance. A new track record over an oft-run distance at a Grade 1 track, Saratoga. Despite what was close to a perfect trip, there was no fluke about this effort.
Arrogate has trained up to the Classic since then, a tactic at which his trainer, Bob Baffert, is a past master. His works have been ridiculous, causing clockers to get uncomfortably moist in that corner of Santa Anita racetrack to the right of the stabling. Can he back that Travers effort up? That, dear reader, is the six-million-dollar question. If he can, he almost certainly wins.
It will be extremely interesting to watch how the Classic unfolds: both California Chrome and Arrogate are blood and thunder front runners generally, and what a sight it would be if they set to it from the gate, had the rest beaten off by the home turn, and slugged it out up the straight. These things almost never go according to such a populist script, but maybe, just maybe, this Classic will be that classic tussle.
As a footnote, there is a third possibility that the two prime contenders burn each other out, setting things up for an unconsidered closer. It happened in 2011 when Drosselmeyer outstayed them at Churchill Downs, and front running is not normally the way Classics are won.
With a terrific race in prospect, Cal Chrome is too short at around even money, in spite of his obvious win chance. I think Arrogate is the most exciting horse in the world right now and, though I’ve missed the price while deliberating the repeatability of that Travers phenom, I will be in his corner come Saturday evening.
California Chrome: Blowout (just)
To get the full lowdown on each of the 13 Breeders' Cup races across Friday and Saturday, click the banner below:
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/songbird_BC15.jpg320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-11-01 07:19:302016-11-01 21:50:30Breeders' Cup: Bankers or Blowouts?
The pre-entries for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, hosted at Santa Anita, California, have been announced this afternoon. Europe has 28 of the pre-entries, though a number require luck to make the cut, and are currently hovering in the ‘Also Eligible’ lists.
Aidan O’Brien is responsible for 18 of the European pre-entries, five of them cross-entered in multiple races, and outlined his plans earlier today. Of his trio in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, Promise To Be True is more likely to run in France this weekend, but both Roly Poly – who has stamina to prove – and dual Group 1 runner up, Hydrangea, are expected to board the plane from Ballydoyle on Monday.
O’Brien is doubly pre-entered in the Juvenile Turf as well, with another Group 1 second, Lancaster Bomber, joined by Intelligence Cross.
On Saturday, the Coolmore squad spread out across the turf races and may also saddle Found in the Classic. Seventh Heaven will attempt to show her Ascot Champions’ Day effort to be all wrong in the Filly and Mare Turf, where she could be joined by stablemate, Pretty Perfect. Alice Springs is also entered here, as a second preference to her more likely appearance in the Mile.
Washington DC has been engaged in what could be a fascinating Turf Sprint, and Highland Reel is the main Ballydoyle runner in the Turf. The latter may also be joined by Mondialiste, whose official preference is for the Mile, but is understood to be under strong consideration for the longer event; and Sir Michael Stoute’s “forgotten” horse, Ulysses, could lay claim to being ‘the wrong Euro’ this time around in a race which rarely goes according to the European hierarchy.
Arc winner, Found, will attempt to become the first Ballydoyle winner of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, in what would rank as one of the most remarkable CV’s in horse racing history. Found already has that Arc victory as well as a Breeders’ Cup Turf title to her name.
Henry Candy affirmed his excitement about running Limato in the Mile, a race in which Britain has not had a winner since Barathea in 1994. Limato flies out on Saturday, and will likely do very little on the Santa Anita track prior to his big date a week later.
No decision has yet been made about the application of Lasix, though the trainer is cautiously leaning towards running without the raceday medication.
The wise guy horse in the Mile may well turn out to be yet another Ballydoyle entry, Cougar Mountain. O’Brien confirmed earlier today that he was an intended runner, saying, “He loves fast ground and a good pace, like [when a length third] in the Queen Anne – that’s when he gives his best running”.
Bettors and racing fans now have slightly more shape to the race programme across Breeders’ Cup weekend, with the next – and final – stage being the post position draw and field confirmations next Monday.
Readers keen to get a head start on their Breeders’ Cup homework may be interested to know that geegeez’ Breeders’ Cup Compendium 2016 is available now. Full details can be found here.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/santaanita.jpg280700Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-26 17:00:202016-10-26 17:03:33Breeders' Cup 2016 Pre-Entries Announced
One of the hardest to swallow Breeders' Cup stats - if you're British or Irish at least - is that those two nations are zero from their last 52 runners in the Mile, a sequence stretching all the way back to Ridgewood Pearl in 1995. Mondialiste went close last year, but it was US mare, Tepin, who got it done, and she will be favoured for the repeat in a race which has seen plenty double - or even triple - up.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16mile.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-24 13:23:532016-11-01 07:28:53Breeders' Cup 2016: Mile Video Form Guide
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16fmturf.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-24 12:51:542016-11-01 07:30:37Breeders' Cup 2016: Filly & Mare Turf Video Form Guide
Not hugely lauded here in Blighty, the Juvenile is one of the main events for the Stateside audience, heralding as it does the early Triple Crown protagonists. Last year's winner, Nyquist, went on to Kentucky Derby glory this season, and these lads will be aiming for a similarly noteworthy double.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16juvenile.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-24 12:13:272016-11-01 07:31:28Breeders' Cup 2016: Juvenile Video Form Guide
The Breeders' Cup Turf has been a tremendous battle ground between Europe and America over the years, and the 2016 edition looks another evenly matched contest. Flintshire will be the main US hope, his defeat last time attributed to the ground more than anything, but he faces a strong raiding party headed by teak tough globetrotter, Highland Reel. Here are some tapes to help the form study process.
Breeders' Cup Turf 2016 Video Form Guide
John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (1m2f, Santa Anita, firm)
American St Leger Stakes (1m5 1/2f, Arlington, firm)
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (1m4f, Belmont, yielding)
Canadian International Stakes (1m4f, Woodbine, firm)
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (1m4f, Ascot, good to firm)
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16turf.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-24 11:23:082016-11-01 07:32:29Breeders' Cup 2016: Turf Video Form Guide
"The Best Is Yet To Come" is the Breeders' Cup slogan, and it certainly was apt last year when Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, routed his field in a procession. A year later, and the bookmakers believe California Chrome will do likewise in the 2016 renewal, but do these race replays display any chinks in the Chrome armour?
Breeders' Cup Classic 2016 Video Form Guide
Travers Stakes (1m2f, Saratoga, fast)
Awesome Again Stakes (1m1f, Santa Anita, fast)
Pacific Classic Stakes (1m2f, Del Mar, fast)
San Diego Handicap Stakes (1m1/2f, Del Mar, fast)
Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (1m2f, Belmont, fast)
Whitney Handicap Stakes (1m1f, Saratoga, fast)
Woodward Stakes (1m1f, Saratoga, fast)
Metropolitan Mile Stakes (1m, Belmont, fast)
Kentucky Derby (1m2f, Churchill Downs, fast)
Haskell Invitational Stakes (1m1f, Monmouth Park, sloppy)
Santa Anita Gold Cup Stakes (1m2f, Santa Anita, fast)
Oaklawn Handicap Stakes (1m1f, Oaklawn Park, fast)
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16classic.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-23 22:09:022016-11-01 07:33:18Breeders' Cup 2016: Classic Video Form Guide
Fast, furious, and generally a war of attrition down the lane, the Breeders' Cup Sprint is historically the toughest race to predict. A median win dividend of $27.60 when the race has been run at Santa Anita is trumped only by the median exacta return of $270.70 at Arcadia. Do NOT expeect a repeat of last year's top of the market 1-2!
Breeders' Cup Sprint 2016 Video Form Guide
Alfred G Vanderbilt Stakes (6f, Saratoga, fast)
Forego Stakes (7f, Saratoga, fast)
Ogden Phoenix Stakes (6f, Keeneland, fast)
Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (6f, Santa Anita, fast)
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16sprint.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-23 21:36:082016-11-01 07:34:49Breeders' Cup 2016: Sprint Video Form Guide
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/bc16fmsprint.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/gg-logo-new.pngMatt Bisogno2016-10-22 21:14:272016-11-01 07:35:07Breeders' Cup 2016: Filly & Mare Sprint Video Form Guide