Placepot Pointers has moved house…

After a number of years, Placepot Pointers has completed its tenure on

My contract ended on Saturday after (literally) providing a daily column for 18 years for the Tote/Sporting Life/Geegeez.  I must have been doing something right to keep the work coming in.  Indeed, I was the longest serving freelance writer for the Sporting Life during my 16 year tenure with the company.

It’s only right for me to thank Matt Bisogno ( for his loyalty for these last few years.  Matt is simply cutting back his editorial team now and we part on the very best of terms.  Matt is one of the good guys in racing from my experience and I obviously recommend you continue to visit his site whenever you have some time to spare.

Placepot Pointers – Sat 3 March



Last year’s corresponding toteplacepot dividend:

2017: £8.50 (7 favourites – 3 winners – 3 placed – 1 unplaced)


Saturday's Placepot permutation at Lingfield: 

Leg 1 (1.45): 8 (Sea Fox), 1 (Chevalier) & 7 (Franco’s Secret)

Leg 2 (2.20): 9 (Attain), 6 (Yensir) & 3 (Slowfoot)

Leg 3 (2.55): 1 (Encore D’Or), 2 (Atletico) & 8 (Brother Tiger)

Leg 4 (3.30): 2 (Bengali Boys) & 3 (Headway)

Leg 5 (4.00): 1 (Roy’s Legacy) & 4 (Blastofmagic)

Leg 6 (4.35): 6 (Noteworthy) & 7 (Porrima)

Suggested stake: 216 bets to 10p stakes


Overview for Saturday - please scroll down to the bottom of the page



1.45: I should make the point that if Lingfield is abandoned, I will be offering a reduced service (including a Placepot permutation) at one of the other meetings if they pass their respective inspections at 8.00.  Upwards and onward in positive mode by informing that four-year-olds have won four of the six contests thus far and there is plenty of money in the positive queue for SEA FOX at the time of writing though at present, it’s not a ‘realistic’ investment against what the bookmakers are generally offering (9/2) this morning.  It will be interesting to see how the potential support develops during the course of the morning.  With CHEVALIER and FRANCO’S SECRET boasting an aggregate of eight wins between them here at Lingfield via a 35% strike rate, I’m adding both entries in my Permutation plans.

Favourite factor: Last year’s successful 11/4 favourite was the first market leader to oblige at the sixth time of asking.

Record of the course winners in the opening race:


4/14—Franco’s Secret


2.20: ATTAIN has finished in the three in 18/31 races here at Lingfield, stats which include six victories, with two successes gained over course and distance.  Archie Watson’s record is second to none relating to today’s represented trainers at the tack whereby the 8/1 (each way) odds (generally available at the time of writing) make plenty of appeal.  Others of interest include YENSIR and SLOWFOOT who represents the in form yard of Suzi Best.

Favourite factor: Favourites of one description or another have won four of the last five renewals.

Record of the course winners in the second event:


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2.55: There are worse outsiders on the card than BROTHER TIGER I’ll wager and the 20/1 odds on offer proved too big for yours truly to resist this morning.  The fact that the quote was generally available hardly installs confidence but that said, his six victories at the venue are backed up by three silver medal efforts which suggests that the price is worth taking, if only to ‘loose change’.  More realistic winners include ENCORE D’OR and ATLETICO (preferred in that order) I guess but do they equal the each way value of the tentative selection?

Favourite factor: Market leaders come to the gig on a four timer with just four renewals having been contested to date.

Record of the course winners in the third contest on the card:

2/5—Encore D’Or

2/7—Royal Birth

2/15—Boom The Grom

1/2—George Dryden

6/14—Brother Tiger


3.30: Richard Fahey’s record here this season is not good (see full stats below) but Richard’s raider BENGALI BOYS offers value for money in a race which should not prove difficult to win, not by ‘Listed’ standards anyway.  HEADWAY (William Haggas has won two of the last three renewals when represented) is the fairly obvious danger and I anticipate this pair battling out the finish with a few lengths to spare over their rivals.

Favourite factor: Favourites have secured half of the contests during the last decade.


4.00: The 5/1 quote by Paddy Power for ROY’S LEGACY appears to be a ‘bet to nothing’ from an each way angle, given his 18/27 ratio in terms of finishing ‘in the three’ at this vebnue down the years.  Those stats include six victories (all over course and distance) whereby this 20 time winner has to be taken seriously today.  Others of interest include BLASTOFMAGIC and (to a fashion) Camino.

Favourite factor: The biggest priced winner during the last four renewals was returned at just 7/2, stats which include two successful favourites.

Record of the course winners in the penultimate leg:

6/27—Roy’s Legacy

2/5—Mag’s Wag

1/10—Dreams Of Glory

3/18—Malaysian Boleh

5/61—Pharoh Jake



4.35: NOTEWORTHY and PORRIMA look fairly safe propositions from a Placepot perspective, especially as their place odds on the exchanges will be short to say the least whereby ‘laying off’ facilities will be in place if the potential dividend is looking good before flag fall.

Favourite factor: Both of the market leaders have secured Placepot positions thus far, stats which include one (4/7) winner.



All place details offered on my pages relate to an 'exact science', whereby horses that finish third in 5/6/7 runner races (and other such scenarios) are not 'placed' regarding my statistics.


Trainers with their relevant number of runners (two or more) on the Lingfield card on Saturday – followed by their ratios at the track hits season and then their five year figures + profits/losses accrued on both count:

3 runners—Tony Carroll (1/22 – loss of 5 points) – 28/241 – loss of 82

3—Richard Hughes (0/4) – 12/116 – loss of 73

3—Mark Johnston (4/15 – loss of 4) – 54/302 – loss of 55

2—John Bridger (2/20 – loss of 6) – 16/255 – loss of 102

2—Robert Cowell (4/7 +3) – 16/82 – loss of 7

2—Seamus Durack (0/3) – 12/44 +19

2—Richard Fahey (0/11) – 25/209 – loss of 45

2—Gary Moore (2/16 – loss of 10) – 30/281 – loss of 90

2—Mick Quinn (0/5) – 1/34 – level profit/loss during the last 5 years

2—Archie Watson (6/19 +22) – 13/62 +19)

+ 30 different trainers who each saddle just one runner on the card

53 declared runners


General overview - Corresponding Placepot dividends from last year:

Newcastle: £127.70 – 6 favourites – 3 winners – 2 placed – 1 unplaced

Chelmsford – No history for this meeting



A Tuesday Placepot…

It's been a while since we've troubled the placepot pools, and I do especially like these unpredictable weather days for such wagering shenanigans. The going at Nottingham tonight is currently good to soft, but the forecast suggests rain this afternoon and plenty of rain during racing this evening.

As such, I'm going to take a walk on the wild side... or at least a chance on the soft side... and anticipate absentees. It all starts at 5.25 with a nursery handicap for...

Leg #1

Six furlongs and staggered weights for the juvies here, and it's a pretty tough beginning. Thumper ran his best race (of four) over six sodden furlongs, and so he could improve on what we've seen to date. He's also had a little rest since his last run during which time he may have improved physically.

Secret Spirit can be forgiven her last run, where she was well beaten after getting bumped at the start over an inadequate five in the Super Sprint. Back to six and with a bit of cut, she looks to have a sound chance.

The form of Felix Leiter's Yarmouth win has been franked with both the third and sixth that day winning next time out, from just three runners out of the race. Felix should handle cut fine and, though top weight is not an easy challenge to overcome, he has only had two starts to could progress more than many in the field.

And Alpha Spirit's four defeats have ALL worked out well, with at least 17% of subsequent runners winning from each, and 37%+ placing. If he handles the ground, he might find this easier.

A: 1, 2
B: 5, 8

Leg #2

Ah, the precarious five runner event. The maker of many a placepot. One of the six declared has already absented, and one more would make for win only for placepot purposes. We are not assisted by the fact it's a novice stakes, where getting a sensible handle on the form is tough. Even more so given that the two top rated on official figures have produced their best work on firm surfaces.

Indeed, of the quintet, only the 40/1 poke Red Connect has run on softer than good, and he was a fair second.

Although using a lot of bullets early, I'm taking four again here, and siding with the market. Enlace and George Dryden on A, and Al Gomry and Prize Exhibit on B. If it does cut to four or less, and Red Connect is still a runner, I'll probably have a tiny saver, just in case...

A: 3, 4
B: 1, 6

Leg #3

A seventeen runner six furlong handicap, with four out already. That's more like it. Ahem. Here's the 'Instant Expert' for the race (click to open full size in new tab)...

6.25 Nottingham crystallized into a single view...

6.25 Nottingham crystallized into a single view...

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Indian Affair hasn't had too many turf runs on the soft side of good, but when he has he's normally fared quite well. He's ten pounds lower than his last winning mark, and could run well tonight.

Borough Boy, Masked Dance, and Queen Hermione are all favoured to some degree by conditions, though the last named has been very in and out. There's been money for The Strig, but this lad has never even placed beyond five furlongs on turf, in seventeen attempts.

Kiss From A Rose has had less chances than most of these and faces soft for the first time. She might like it. She might not.

A: 1, 4, 7
B: 6, 11

Leg #4

We've fired a lot of shrapnel in the first half, and things don't get easier now, as we stare down the barrel of a 'dead eight' staying handicap with the three-year-olds getting lumps of weight from some able elders. In fact, as I write, Missed Call has come out, leaving seven, and only two places. This 'pot could be juicy (or it could be anti-climactic!)

Dino Mite was beaten out of site (sic) when only a 12/1 shot in a soft ground Sandown maiden, but he followed that up with an eighteen (!) length romp in a Southwell all weather maiden last time. The second and fourth (beaten 38 lengths) both won next time, but whether he's as effective on turf is unknown.

Zipp looks more interesting from the in form Raiff Beckett stable, and this soft ground hound should step forward from an 'ok' seasonal bow. Mark Johnston's three year olds are always to be respected in contests such as this, and Late Shipment was a non-runner as Stat of the Day on Saturday. A runner up earlier in the season on soft ground, he's been  bit hit and miss since, but if he has a 'hit' day, he'll go close.

It's entirely feasible that neither of my selected pair will be first or second, but we cannot continue nominating the entire herd!

A: 4, 6

Leg #5

This is a good class five furlong conditions race, with some Listed level animals in the line up. All eleven stand at time of writing, though do check as late as you can (a comment which holds for all races, of course) on the weather.

Free Zone is by far the most interesting. Form figures of 00-000 are uninviting for an 8/1 chance on the face of it, but this fella loves five on the soft side of good. He's been competitive at Group 3 level and won a Class 2 handicap over five on good to soft last back end. That makes him an A player in this Class 3 event, despite the recent ovoid form string. Small fields also seem to help him.

Another of sprint king Robert Cowell's four entries is Graphic Guest, a lass who has placed on four of her five races over the minimum, the exception being the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. Soft suits best, and she too can run well.

The other joint jolly with Graphic Guest is a third Cowell runner, Speed Hawk. He's never raced on ground this soft, and is not bred for the job either. He could run well but there are enough reasons to side with reliable form elsewhere.

A: 4, 11

Leg #6

If we're still going by now, we could be in a good place on what looks a very tricky card. Naturally, it doesn't always pan out that way, but faint heart never won fair maiden, as they say.

The closer has been blighted by non-runners already, and the declared ten are down to seven, and just two places. Should this number dwindle further, we have an interesting insurance option, which I'll mention in a moment.

Backstage Gossip is interesting, and won her only race on soft. She's been running on the sand since and this return to turf could spark a return to winning ways. Oscars Journey likes it here, having won (on soft) and been fourth (good to soft) in his two visits.

Meanwhile, Oil Strike is a far shorter price than he deserves to be on recent - in fact, on almost all - form, but connections are hugely respected. He's added, just in case.

The remaining four (or less if non-runners arrive) can be permed in exactas to cover stakes if it looks like the payout will justify the effort. Check the running on totals here.

A: 5, 7, 8


That gives the following permutations:

A's only: 2 x 2 x 3 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 144 lines

A's and B's: 4 x 4 x 5 x 2 x 2 x 3 = 960 lines (!)

Ticket builder looks like this:

Nottingham placepot

Nottingham placepot


Ayr Friday Placepot

Today is the start of the two day Scottish Grand National meeting from Ayr, and the combination of high class racing, plus that 'end of season' imponderable makes for an interesting placepot puzzle. Indeed, even with one of the last four Scottish National Friday dividends paying £36, the average is £2,020! That's because there have been two four figure divvies, including a huge £6,760 payoff.

So it may not be easy, but it'll be worth catching if we're smart/lucky enough to land a slice. This is how I'll be playing.

Leg 1 - 2.10

It's pretty hard to see Sign Of A Victory out of the frame and, such is his market dominance, he can be layed for a place to insure the bet in leg one, assuming all five line up. Of course, before I'd finished writing the post, there's been a non-runner meaning just four now go to post. So, we need to lay in the win market at around 1.66. He's still a placepot banker with that insurance option available, and an alternative might be to back the second favourite and hope one of the massive outsiders doesn't double whammy us.

A - 3

Leg 2 - 2.40

Of course, with such a shortie in the opener, we're looking for something to happen on the rest of the card, and that might start here, where the top weight Ballybogey has bundles of track form, including when winning the opener last term. Although he's seemingly been off form in his last two runs, the first was when sixth behind subsequent Grade 1 scorer, Boston Bob; and the latter was a pulled up effort in a chase. That was his only chase start, and he's 211 here at Ayr over hurdles.

We'll add some ballast to the A tickets with Fourth Estate, Hendo's runner expected to be sharper on this sounder surface.

A - 1, 4

Leg 3 - 3.15

We're deliberately thinly spread in the first third of the bet, to save some bullets for the latter part, should we survive that far. Leg 3 is a novices' handicap hurdle, with eight runners currently. A non-runner would bring this down to two places, and that's something to keep in mind. In both recent years when the placepot has been a whopper, this race has played its part so I'm going wide and deep here in the hope of catching a result.

On A, Vicente looks a bit more solid than Ulzana's Raid, having won a similar race by ten lengths compared to the latter's battling victory in a maiden hurdle. I'll add the Irish raider, Quickasyoucan, and also the consistent McCoy-ridden Portway Flyer to the A list.

I'm taking B's here, including Ulzana's Raid, and the rag I think is over-priced is Hartforth, another consistent animal at the bottom of the handicap and with track/trip form. Kilbree Chief will complete my sextet in this race. Like I say, I'm looking for a result!!

A - 1, 2, 8
B - 3, 4, 7

Leg 4 - 3.50 

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Another really competitive race, and one in which the favourite has a poor record in recent years. Despite that, the hard to win with Tap Night looks a solid place option on this drop in class. He takes the A fight alone, but B has a pair of alternatives in Bless The Wings and Viva Colonia. The former is very well suited to conditions and is now eight pounds lower than his last win, a class, distance and going affair on a similar-ish track (Newbury).

The latter represents just about the best trainer at this meeting, Brian Ellison, and looks to have been laid out for this. Both wins have come over this distance and on this sort of going, and he ought to run well.

A - 1
B - 2, 4

Leg 5 - 4.25

Another non-runner early has reduced this field to seven and two places. I'm getting a great placepot vibe about this card!

Le Bacardy is favoured here, and he's a bit of a monkey. So much so in fact that he got his jockey banned when the horse lost his confidence (allegedly) and the rider eased him up. He's won two straight since then, and is in good form. But this is a step up in class, and the jolly has been unsighted in the only three runnings of this race to date.

Further spice is added by the presence of three Irish raiders in the seven-strong field, and I'm casting my dragnet again here. On A, I want Back To Balloo, Doynosaur and Claragh Native. The first named has form tied in with the likes of Ballycasey, Mozoltov and Djakadam, and there's nothing remotely of that ilk in this field. Doynosaur has her chance too, and has dropped a few pounds since her first couple of handicap chase starts.

And Claragh Native has perhaps the best place chance of all on form, despite being the outsider. He's dropped to an attractive mark, and this will have been the plan for some time.

On B, I want a couple more, and they'll be Le Bacardy and Ellaway Rose. It's daft to leave the favourite out completely, even though I hope he's unplaced; and the latter is another Irish raider whose best form has all come on a sound surface. She will appreciate the good to soft today.

If you're the paranoid type and the placepot pool is shaping up well before this race, you can always do a reverse exacta with the two uncovered horses - Araglen Lad and Too Cool To Fool - as insurance.

A - 2, 4, 5
B - 1, 7

Leg 6 - 4.55

Another race where the jolly's missed the party in the past two years, though with nine runners we should at least be pitching for three places. With luck, we'll already be sitting on a nice potential dividend, and the key thing to note in this race is the very strong record of the Irish runners. First and second last year (fav unplaced), their only rep the year before fell, and they had a big-priced second the year before that.

As a result, I'm covering their trio. The A team has Gordon Elliott's Clara McCloud, a winning machine with three golds in her last five starts; and also Twin Plan, for whom the step up in distance looks cherry ripe (she won the race last year).

Romantic Fashion has won her last two here, taking the ferry from Ireland on both occasions. She steps up in grade, but has a good jockey and might be under-rated. B. Bull and Bush, a progressive stayer, completes the reserve squad.

I'll nab a C too in case we've A'd all the way through, as I like the huge-priced Micro Mission, winner of this in 2012 and back to a mark two pounds below that rating. She was fifth last year too, and comes here in a little bit of form.

A - 4, 8
B - 2, 5
C - 9


On days like these, when we're swinging the haymaker in the hope of landing a knockout punch, there's always the chance that we'll return less than we staked, or even fail to collect. But faint heart never won fair maiden!

If you'd like to help geegeez, here's how you can play this. Open a totesport account through this link. If you place your placepot bets there, geegeez receives a percentage of your bet stake, whether you win or not. I like this for lots of reasons:

1. Tote multi-race bets like placepots are my absolute favourite bets

2. I want geegeez readers to win

3. I'd prefer if geegeez readers' commission went to geegeez rather than, say, Betfair or Betfred or anyone else who already has more than their share of funds. All such proceeds are ploughed back into the site, as you know, so if you don't already have a totesport account, you'll be able to help geegeez to continue to help you. Obviously, if readers can help geegeez in this way, then I'll invest more time in perhaps reviving the daily placepot posts, or at least make them a more regular occurrence. 🙂

I do hope that makes sense and comes across as fair enough. (And thanks). Please leave a comment below if you'd like more placepot features.

OK, so here's how the perms shape up:

A's only: 1 x 2 x 3 x 1 x 3 x 2 = 36 bets

A's, B's and C's: 1 x 2 x 6 x 3 x 5 x 5 = 900 bets (!)

Ticket builder perm (my preferred method), based on 10p stakes, with the multipliers as noted by the check boxes.

Ayr placepot perm

Ayr placepot perm

Aintree Day Two Placepot

Aintree Day Two Placepot

I wasn't able to cover stakes yesterday after Western Warhorse failed to place and the dividend came in a desperate £9.60.

The good news is that today will unequivocally be a higher dividend. The bad news is that that is because it is a fiendish sextet of races!

I'm banking on the favourite in the first leg, and will lay him for a place at around 2/5 to cover most of my placepot stakes. After that, it'll be a white knuckle ride through five deeply competitive events. By the finish, those still standing will - I feel - certainly be looking at a payout in the hundreds (to a £1 stake) and quite possibly in the thousands.

So it's a tilt at a big pot, as per the below. Note the presence of C selections in the last two legs. If we scrape through with a C pick, we need A selections to place in the other five legs.

2.00 / Leg 1

A – 6

2.30 / Leg 2

A – 4, 5

3.05 / Leg 3

A – 2, 6, 10
B - 3, 5

3.40 / Leg 4

A – 4, 15, 27, 28
B – 9, 29, 30

4.15 / Leg 5

A – 12
C – 2, 7, 8, 17

4.50 / Leg 6

A – 1, 17
B – 2, 6, 7
C - 4, 5, 9

This gives totals as follows:

A’s only: 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 1 x 2 = 48 bets

A’s and B’s: 1 x 2 x 5 x 7 x 1 x 5 = 350 bets

A's, B's and C's: 1 x 2 x 5 x 7 x 5 x 8 = 2800 bets (!)

The ticket builder part perm is below. More information on how these are constructed can be found here.

Aintree Day Two Placepot

Aintree Day Two Placepot

Aintree Day One Placepot

It's Day One of Aintree, and that placepot pool's going to be B.I.G. Let's try and claim a slice...

2.00 / Leg 1

A - 1, 5
B - 10, 12

2.30 / Leg 2

A - 2, 6

3.05 / Leg 3

A - 7

3.40 / Leg 4

A - 13
B - 16, 21, 22

4.15 / Leg 5

A - 4, 12
B - 1, 6, 8, 10

4.50 / Leg 6

A - 5
B - 3

This gives totals as follows:

A's only: 2 x 2 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 1 = 8 bets

A's and B's: 4 x 2 x 1 x 4 x 6 x 2 = 384 bets

Eleven ticket part-perm, using 50p multiples (the same bet with 10p multiples would cost £28):

Aintree Day One placepot

Aintree Day One placepot

Cheltenham Placepot Picks, 17th November 2013

For the second day running, we were undone by a single place and a half length or less yesterday. Racing is, of course, a game of fine margins, and they just haven't gone for us on the first two days. However, we still have 33% of the three day meeting to play with, so let's use our third life this afternoon...

I'm going somewhat boldly with a banker in the opening leg: at least if we're to go down, it will be an early bath.

Leg 1: 

A - 12 Lieutenant Miller

Leg 2: 

A - 2 Sea Lord, 4 The Liquidator
C - Lac Fontana

Leg 3: 

A - 2 Dodging Bullets, 3 Raya Star, 4 Ted Veale

Leg 4:

A - 1 Sire De Grugy
B - 3 Special Tiara

Leg 5:

A - 5 Sametegal, 6 Flaxen Flare
B - 1 Get Me Out Of Here, 4 Ahyouknowyourself, 13 Kashmir Peak

Leg 6:

A - 2 Carningli, 8 It's All An Act, 9 Neck Or Nothing

Cheltenham Placepot Sunday

Cheltenham Placepot Sunday

Cheltenham Placepot Picks, 16th November 2013

It's a big meeting, and there will be a huge placepot pool - north of £250,000 - so let's have a proper go at cracking the 'pot. Below are the numbers, split across A and B, that I'm playing this afternoon.

Leg 1:

A - 3 Royal Irish Hussar

Leg 2:

A - 3 Shutthefrontdoor, 4 African Gold
B - 2 Le Bec

Leg 3:

A - 1 Burton Port, 2 Godsmejudge, 7 Monbeg Dude

Leg 4:

A - 3 Champion Court, 4 Rajdhani Express, 8 Battle Group
B - 14 Astracad, 17 Johns Spirit, 20 Attaglance

Leg 5:

A - 4 Southfield Theatre, 8 Recession Proof, 12 Lamb Or Cod
B - 11 Silver Eagle, 15 Monetary Fund, 16 Sunnyhillboy

Leg 6:

A - 2 Timesremembered, 6 Port Melon

Just A's: 1 x 2 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 2 = 108 bets
All picks: 1 x 3 x 3 x 6 x 6 x 2 = 648 bets

Ticket Builder perm:

Cheltenham Placepot Perm

Cheltenham Placepot Perm

Sandown Preview and Tips, 18th September 2013

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Sandown Park preview and tips

Sandown Park preview and tips

A difficult evening at Stratford, made more difficult by the ease in the ground, and by the sad loss of the super-promising Killyglass, who broke his shoulder landing after the third hurdle. Tragic for connections.

We'll move on to Sandown this afternoon, and some soft ground action which includes a fascinating Listed clash at 3.55.

Clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.

2.20 Sandown: As is often the case at Sandown, we start with a five furlong dash down the middle of the course, and thirteen are still engaged after a couple of early defections. Soft ground form and a draw away from the middle is probably an ideal combination and, with that in mind, Senator Bong looks likely to run well.

He'll be ridden by birthday boy, Ryan Moore, and should appreciate the ease in both grade and ground.

Others to consider in a typically open sprint handicap include Solemn if he's not hamstrung by his middlish draw; and maybe Italian Tom who drops in class and may be well boxed in four.

A - 2 (Senator Bong), 4 (Italian Tom), 5 (Solemn)

2.50 Sandown: A two-year-old mile maiden, and seven of the nine are returning to the track after a single prior run. All can be expected to improve, and it may be a question of which one improves the most. Moreover, none of them have yet experienced ground softer than good, which adds another degree of complexity.

The pick of the form to date is probably Early Morning, who was just a neck behind Ensuring last time on his second run. Six lengths further back that day was Flag War and, even with the benefit of experience and the extra furlong, it's hard to see him reversing placings today.

Mustamir just lacked a bit of finishing zip on his debut at Thirsk, over this trip, and it might be that the soft ground plays to his grinding strengths. He'll have the birthday boy atop and that will help. Notarised was behind Mustamir then, by around three and a half lengths, and it's possible jockey Joe Fanning will bid to make all today. If he does, he could be hard to wear down. It's not really a race to bet in but the above trio should all get competitive.

A - 2 (Early Morning), 7 (Mustamir)
B - 8 (Notarised)

3.20 Sandown: An unappealing three horse contest, where none has yet run on soft ground. Xanthos is better than his last place finish in the valuable York sales race won by Haikbidiac, but whether he's better than - or better suited to soft than - the other pair is a moot point. Signposted is a worthy favourite, but I'm not excited by odds on quotes about his chance, all the same. And Peacemaker, as a daughter of High Chapparal, could improve the most for the soft ground. She'll need to as she's achieved the least thus far.

A - 3 (Signposted)
B - 2 (Xanthos), 4 (Peacemaker)

3.55 Sandown: They bet 10/1 bar two in this tidy Listed event, and I make them right. It looks very much a two horse race between the progressive Wentworth and the proven Penitent (Nap).

The former is untried on soft ground but is expected to continue his improvement on it. Time will tell on that. Certainly his win in the Betfred Mile last time gives him a right to respect in this more esteemed company and, if he does go on the ground, he'd only need to improve around six or seven pounds, which is perfectly plausible.

However, he's up against an under-rated nag in my view, and one that I backed last night at 9/4 for this as the best bet of the day. He's now into a best priced 7/4 and as short as 6/4. The reason is that he's in good form, and absolutely loves loves loves soft ground.

His record on soft or heavy is 21115. That string of 1's includes the mile Lincoln handicap and two wins here, this race in 2010 and the Group 2 bet365 Mile last year. He's been running well on unsuitably fast ground this term, including when second in a Group 3 on his only run this year on softer than good (good to soft). And I thought he was excellent value at 9/4 last evening.

I still feel he's the more likely winner, proven as he is under today's conditions and in a higher grade. Wentworth is a very worthy opponent, but has a couple of questions to answer (class, ground) which make his price on the lean side for my tastes.

The rest? Well, they've not managed a UK pattern win in fifteen collective attempts and that's well below the standard set by the selection. Boomshackerlacker looked good on deep ground as a 2yo, including when winning a Listed race in France, and might be worth a throwaway shekel at 20/1 or so.

A - 2 (Penitent)

4.30 Sandown: A fillies' handicap for three-year-olds. These races are, as regular readers will know, a blind spot for me. Luckily I have the race analysis report to help me!

It tells me that Beautiful View might be value, as she loves soft ground, something she's not yet had in three runs this term. During that time, her handicap mark has dropped from 88 to 85, enough to sneak her in here off top weight.

Cosseted and Al Jamal are proven at this level but unproven on soft. If either acts on it, they should go close. Cosseted, a daughter of Pivotal, is bred to handle the surface and is preferred of the pair.

Of the remainder, Narmin, another Pivotal filly is on the hat-trick here and could improve for deeper turf. Not a betting race for me, but I think the top one might just be a bit of value at around 10/1.

A - 1 (Beautiful View), 5 (Narmin), 9 (Cosseted)

5.05 Sandown: Maiden fillies. Eight of 'em after Running Deer has come out. Another blind spot for me, so don't expect a tip. In trying to get through the last leg of the placepot, should we be lucky enough to still be in it, we need to be aware of the fact that a single further non-runner will bring us down to seven and just two places.

Favoured is Kalispell, a Godolphin inmate which has been off the track for a year as near as doesn't matter. She ran to within a half length of Group 2 Park Stakes winner, The Lark, on the second of those runs. That was on soft, and there's a fair chance she's been saved for rain-tampered ground. If she's fit, that form is close to the best.

Against her is the exposed Whippy Cream. Although exposed, she was good enough to finish third on the Italian Oaks earlier this year on heavy and she has an official rating of 96 as a consequence.

I can't see anything else winning, and I'm going to side singly with Kalispell on the placepot.

A - 5 (Kalispell)

5.35 Sandown: Topamichi has had more tries than most of these, but he's certainly the best equipped on known form to deal with the conditions. The main danger could be Fast Pace, who also has soft ground form, but I'm hopeful that Birthday Moore can top and tail the meeting with wins.

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Stratford Preview, Tips, Placepot 17th September 2013

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Stratford Preview and Tips

Stratford Preview and Tips

They jump at Stratford this teatime, and the going is good to soft.

Clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.

4.35 Stratford: Quite a nice little Class 4 novice chase, and Pateese is the one, I think. He's run all bar one of his five chase starts in higher grade, but the one effort in this level was a win, and it was on this sort of ground at this sort of trip. There is a possibility that he's a little paceless, but then that's a comment which can be applied to his rivals as well..

Of most interest from the rest is the ex-Irish Maller Tree. Rated as high as 138 (to Pateese's 140) in Ireland over hurdles, Maller Tree could make up into a nice chaser. But the fact he's owned by a punting 'firm' and that there hasn't been a penny for him might suggest he's expected to win a handicap at some point rather than crippling his rating by winning this. I could be wrong on that - I often am - but I won't be wagering this talented beast today.

Although Sail And Return has won on heavy, he's arguably better on decent ground, and the other two might be a bit too good for him. Likewise, Kindly Note has a stone and more to find on hurdle ratings and has looked very one-paced.

If there's an outsider to consider here, and I'm not sure there is, it might be Mountaineer, which has been persisted with after no less than 1,616 days off the track! He could travel well for a long time and, if he doesn't blow up for lack of fitness, has a touch of class.

A - 2 (Pateese)

5.05 Stratford: Killyglass is a very nice horse. He won the Aintree Grade 2 bumper (and I backed him - and tipped him on here at a price - that day). If he jumps round, he'll win. He will jump round. He will win.

A - 2 (Killyglass)

5.35 Stratford: From the straightforward to the borderline impossible. I couldn't have a bet in this, as there is no clear angle into the race. No clear pace angle, no clear class angle, no clear going angle, no clear form angle. Very tough. I'm going deep on the placepot and looking for a result.

A - 3 (Catch Tammy), 5 (Julie Prince), 6 (Cruise In Style)
B - 2 (Giant O Murchu), 4 (Rime Avec Gentil)

6.05 Stratford: A good race this, and a real chance of it being run at a robust gallop. All of Letsby Avenue, Dirty Bertie, Dawn Commander, Benbane Head and Court In Session often front run, and they can't all lead. This might well set things up for a strong-travelling closing type, such as the class rising Staigue Fort or the class-dropping Topolski.

And it's the latter I like. Winner of a nice handicap at Aintree's Grand National meeting a couple of years ago, he looked to lose his way a bit last year. But a run of real promise was produced on his first seasonal start this term, when cruising into things before perhaps running out of stamina. He drops back a quarter mile here and, with so much pace in front of him, could have this dished up turning in.

If one of the pace protagonists is to prevail it might be Benbane Head, another classy sort in the context of this race. He won a fairly moderate handicap at Ffos Las the last day, but stays a bit further than this and that bonus stamina might see him slog on when others are crying enough. Letsby Avenue is another with stamina to spare, and he's progressive too.

This is a fair step up in grade for Ironical, but he's a course and distance winner and will love the ground and the pace. He too might benefit from being kept away from the presumed burn up in the first third of the contest.

A - 1 (Letsby Avenue), 3 (Topolski), 6 (Staigue Fort)

6.35 Stratford: Let's start with the pace. Epee Celeste, a big price at around 18/1, may have this to herself early. She's got stamina aplenty too, and jumps very well. For small money, she might give you a something to cheer turning in.

At the sharper end of the market, the likes of the returning Al Alfa and the gambled Watch House hold live chances. The former is probably the only pace danger to Epee Celeste, and has been known to make it. He's had just one chase start, when second over slightly further and slightly softer, and he goes well enough fresh as demonstrated by a win in February this year after three months off.

Watch House is a more precarious proposition, as form figures of PPP1 at this trip reflect. His sole win was last time, off the same mark as today, just a week ago. I'd be disappointed if he was good enough to win, in truth, despite a career best last time. He doesn't seem the sort to rely on to reproduce that.

More reliable - as long as the ground is no worse than good to soft - could be Font, a course and distance winner last time out, and a horse that still looks well handicapped against the pick of his form. He's fair value at as big as 11/1 with Hills.

The Goldmeister is a twelve race maiden, but he's got bits of place form, and comes from a yard in form. The weight of cash for him suggests he could run well, but there just seem to be more likely candidates in the race.

Just keep an eye out for a possible improved performance from David Bridgwater's Academy General, too. He might have hated the firm ground last time, and has top weight here for a reason: he's run a better race than most of these historically, the one behind Bold Chief. It might not be today for him, but he's likely to have a day, and his trainer is likely to know when that is.

A - 2 (Al Alfa), 3 (Font)

7.05 Stratford: The nightcap is a bumper, which is unlike Stratford, who have tended to put the flat race in the middle of the card, to the consternation of some purists. Chalk It Down is a once raced winner, and is the favourite here for Warren Greatrex, AP McCoy and JP McManus. Of those with form, he has the best. He also has a seven pound penalty for his trouble.

But there are a number of other possibles, without a penalty and with form on a bit of give. Mrs Jordan ran a nice debut when fourth in a mares' bumper at Warwick. The second has won since, and the winner placed twice in Listed events. She gets a seven pounds mares' allowance which, combined with Chalk It Down's penalty means she's a stone better off than that one. That could be the difference.

Lots of dark'uns in a race to watch rather than wager, and the money for Seamus Rua and Max Ward suggests they're expected to show something tonight.

A - 1 (Chalk It Down), 11 (Mrs Jordan)
B - 4 (Max Ward), 5 (Our Boy Ben)

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Brighton Preview, Tips, Placepot: 16th September 2013

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Brighton preview, tips

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It's Monday-n (i.e. mundane) again, so let's not get too excited about the racing on offer. This time of year can be tricky as well with the going changing, some horses being 'over the top' (that is, knackered) and a general additional layer of uncertainty in the air.

OK, with that said, let's pop down to the seaside for an afternoon at Brighton, starting at 2.20 on soft ground.

Incidentally, clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.

2.20 Brighton: A selling handicap gets us underway, and perfectly illustrates the point about an absence of quality on Mondays. This is an apprentice race as well, and one of the top apprentices in my - admittedly biased - opinion is young Shelley Birkett, daughter of Julia Feilden. She's on a horse which has found winning extremely difficult, Special Report. In fact, he's a maiden after 21 runs!

But that's only half the story. You see, Special Report has placed on nine of those 21 career efforts, and in six of his last seven. He ran best of the rest behind easy winner, Uganda Glory, here on his last start and, though this is a quarter mile shorter, he has four placed efforts at the trip from five tries. His problem is that he's woefully one paced, but on the plus side he's a grinder, and his jockey can ride. That's not true of all today's pilots.

McConnell did something that Special Report has yet to do - win - on his penultimate run. That was at Southwell, which is a slogger's track, and over a mile. And that's this one's problem: his form beyond a mile is lamentable. He simply doesn't stay, probably not even in a race as bad as this.

Frosty Secret stays this far and further, but he has no form on the ground and that's a big negative; while Drummond acts on soft and this is his trip... but he's an eighteen race maiden!

As you can see, it's going to be possible to have a tickle of a big priced horse which might just come back to form, so bad are the proponents in this dog race. But it won't be the formerly useful Benandonner, for whom this is too far and too soft.

It's A Girl Thing has at least had less failures than most, and is bred to appreciate some cut in the ground. In here, that's interesting.

But the one that really catches my eye (at least as far as this terror event is concerned) is Hendry Trigger. He's having his first run in a handicap after three mediocre maiden runs. He'll stay this trip and could improve for the ground (as a son of stout stayer, Double Trigger, he'll be plugging on at the end), and he's just less exposed than the rest.

Special Report is the most reliable place prospect, but Hendry Trigger is of mild interest at a price - currently around 12/1.

A - 8 (Special Report)
B - 2 (Hendry Trigger)

2.50 Brighton: For anyone thinking this could be a piece of cake for Panettone (geddit?!), think again. Although he's the favourite here, he's a bit of a donkey. His one win came here, over course and distance, but on good to firm. On softer than good he's been beaten out of sight on both times (i.e. more than ten lengths), and that looks a real worry here. Plus, he's just bad value for a horse that's won once in his career.

Cantor and Mr Fickle both offer more hope from a ground perspective, and both are better prices. The former has been off for over a year, so fitness has to be taken on trust somewhat, but he's taken support implying he might be ready to run today. His win two starts back was in higher class than this, on soft ground, and on a similarly undulating track at Epsom. That's a lot of positives to offset the layoff negative.

Mr Fickle loves soft. He's been in the first two on three of four tries on it. But they've all been over shorter trips, and there's a doubt about his stamina on his first attempt at this mile and a half.

Anginola is a course and distance winner, and she's won on heavy. She's also won off this mark and five pounds higher than this mark, so she's well enough handicapped too. She should go well.

Green Earth on the other hand is surely only running here to get his handicap mark back down a bit. He has no form on soft ground.

A - 2 (Mr Fickle), 3 (Anginola), 6 (Cantor)

3.20 Brighton: Nine left in this mile handicap, and Brown Pete heads them in the market. Coming from Violet Jordan's stable of questionable intent, one always needs a market check. Today looks like a going day, judging by the amount of blue on the odds comparison panel, relating a market contraction.

On form, Brown Pete has a chance: he's been placed three times on soft, twice here, and once at the trip. But he's another that is hard to win with.

Mind you, in his defence that's a comment which applies to pretty much all of these old laggards.

The one that stands out for me is Santo Prince. He's a soft ground winner here, and has done little in five fast ground starts so far this term. He's been lightly raced - this will be his twelfth career effort - and actually finished 'just' ten lengths behind Toronado last year when midfield in a Newbury maiden. That form would win him this by a distance if it could be relied upon. Alas, it cannot.

Nevertheless, he's got to be a player having dropped to a mark a stone below that heavy ground winning mark in an awful race.

A - 5 (Brown Pete), 6 (Santo Prince)

3.50 Brighton: A difficult juvenile maiden, with most of them encountering one or more of soft ground and seven furlongs for the first time. My Anchor showed nothing in three tries at seven poles, but seemed a revelation when stepped up to a mile. He's the favourite here and, if able to replicate that last day run, will be hard to beat. Given that his three prior efforts had earned him a rating of 45, though, there has to be a doubt about whether he's really a 66 horse, which is what his revised rating says he is.

Nice Arty is top rated on 68, but he's probably going to struggle with the ground, and has to bounce back after a poor run last time at Wolves. Of more appeal is Olly Stevens' Fisher Bridge, one of the horses he pointed out to me earlier in the season as a nice type for the autumn. Well, here we are in the autumn and this fellow may have his day in nurseries rather than maidens, but this is a weak maiden.

And Sweet P, a daughter of Sir Percy, might be able to grind her way into the frame too.

A - 1 (Fisher Lane), 8 (My Anchor), 10 (Sweet P)

4.20 Brighton: Two down in this six furlong spring, leaves six. It's a typically trappy heat, but the one that ticks the most boxes is Amenable, outsider of the party and refugee of that aforementioned dodgy barn of Violet Jordan's. Anyway, ignoring whether or not the horse might be 'off' today, he's won on soft and at this track, and in this class, and historically off a rating as high as 84. Today he races off 73, but jockey Oisin Murphy takes another five pounds away meaning 68, the same as his last winning rating just four starts back.

10/1 is value if he's on a going day.

It's a race where none of them can be confidently discounted, and it's a race I'm playing four against the field on the placepot.

A - 5 (Royal Reyah), 6 (Amenable)
B - 7 (Cardinal), 8 (Olney Lass)

4.50 Brighton: A race that revolves around the favourite, Speedfit Boy. If he acts on the ground, he'll win. If he doesn't, he could be nowhere. So far, in seven races, he's never raced on slower than good, and only once on slower than good to firm. That leaves a doubt in my mind, sufficient that I'll play a B against his A banker status, and also sufficient that I couldn't be tempted to bet in the race aside from the 'pot.

Silvee might race prominently enough to see this out, and if she does, she's a danger. And Wishformore has failed less times than some on this ground, and has a respectable profile turf notwithstanding.

A - 1 (Speedfit Boy)
B - 3 (Wishformore), 4 (Silvee)

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Doncaster St Leger Day Preview, Tips, Placepot: 14th September 2013

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Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot

Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot.

It's St Leger day at Doncaster, and the supporting card looks pretty strong too. Ground closer to soft than good is expected, so looked for those that handle that type of turf.

Incidentally, clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.

2.05 Doncaster: It's the Group 2 Champagne Stakes to get the ball rolling on Leger day, and the ground has already seen two defect, leaving five. One more and we'll be in the dreaded 'win only' territory for placepots, so do keep an eye out close to the off.

Outstrip is market top, and deserves to be after a neck second to Toormore on good to soft ground in the Veuve Cliquot Vintage Stakes (well, he is trained by 'Champagne' Charlie, after all). We know he stays, we know he goes in the ground, and we know he's up to this class. That's a lot to like about his chance.

The thing about this race I can't fathom is why The Grey Gatsby is half the price of Treaty Of Paris when the latter beat him last time. I mean, sure, TGG was very green behind TOP and was closing rapidly at the line. But there's a lot factored into the price of the former, given he's yet to race on a sodden surface and isn't necessarily bred for it. The same comment is true of the latter, and I think they've both got it to do to beat Outstrip.

The one which could be the fly in the ointment is Toormore's trainer, and winner of the last two renewals of this race, Richard Hannon's Anjaal. This fellow has won his last two, including the Group 2 July Stakes last time out, when needing every yard of the six furlongs there to get up. The seventh eighth looks ideal, though I'd be less confident about the ground being plum. Nevertheless, at the prices, he's a value alternative to the favourite. But I think the favourite will win.

A - 4 (Outstrip)

2.40 Doncaster: The Portland Handicap is next, a rare breed of top race run over five and a half furlongs.. Those extra 140 yards are likely to break at least one equine heart late in the play, so it's sensible to favour a nag that gets six, especially given the soft.

I've backed Bogart for this, so let's start with him. He was a winner last time out at York, on fast ground over five furlongs. But his record on good to soft is impressive: two wins and a third, and a close ish eighth in a six furlong Group 2 earlier this season where he led until being run down in the last half furlong.

And that I think is the key to this race: you want a horse that doesn't quite seem to get there over five normally, and doesn't quite last out six normally. Oh, and one that goes in the ground.

Others to fit that bill are Ajjaad and Doc Hay, and perhaps the frustrating Racy as well.

This is a race about which I could write two thousand words and add little value, so I'll just tell you that the pace is spread across the track, and they're likely to split into groups. My advice is to take one high and one low, and look for horses proven in the ground and in big fields.

Thus, my high horse is Racy and my low horse is Bogart. I'll chuck in a middler in Ajjaad to boot. Steps is a worthy favourite too, given a win over this course and a predilection for soft, and given his trainer's stellar current run. [Note, I think I've picked most of them there...!]

A - 2 (Bogart), 4 (Steps), 8 (Doc Hay), 10 (Ajjaad), 15 (Racy)

3.15 Doncaster: The Park Stakes and there's one I really like here at a price. He's Caspar Netscher, and he's simply too big at 16/1. This is a Group 2 over seven softish furlongs. His record in Group 2's reads 311124. His softer than good ground form reads 11042 (0 in 2000 Guineas, and 4 also in Group 1 Prix du Moulin). His form at seven furlongs reads 124, with that 4 coming last time out when he didn't really settle behind Gregorian.

He will need to switch off better to win this, but if he does, I think he has an excellent chance and is a fine price.

The danger is probably Gregorian, who recorded a career best when winning the Hungerford Stakes last time. He loves soft ground and seven looks optimal. He's short enough at 3/1 though, in a race with a bit of depth.

Aljamaheer had been consistent prior to a thumping last time in France, but the stable was under a cloud then, and is flying now. He wouldn't want it too soft, but he's classy.

Viztoria loves the soft, and she ran a blinder behind Sky Lantern in a strong renewal of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. That was her last run though, some 85 days ago, and fitness is taken on trust. Moreover, she's never won above Group 3 level and a number of these have. She might win - as might any of them - but she's little value.

Horses like Sirius Prospect and Sovereign Debt have soft ground form, and bits of strong form too. But I don't see why they should be shorter prices than Caspar, and I've bet accordingly.

A - 3 (Caspar Netscher), 4 (Gregorian)

3.50 Doncaster: The St Leger. Probably a moderate St Leger. But a wide open one, all the same. I previewed this race here, and I'm on Excess Knowledge at 16/1 for a little bit, and Secret Number (16/1) and Great Hall (33/1) for bits too.

I think Excess Knowledge will win, and I think Foundry, Libertarian and Secret Number are other likely players.

A - 2 (Excess Knowledge), 3 (Foundry), 8 (Libertarian)

4.25 Doncaster: A mile and a half Class 2 handicap on quite competitive it looks too. Bishop Roko ran a clunker in the Ebor three weeks ago on very soft ground, and he seemed not to get home over that mile and three-quarters. Here, on slightly better turf, and over a quarter mile less terrain, he has a sound chance despite lugging maximum lead.

This is back to his preferred conditions and, with just five runs under his belt, it's likely we've not seen the best of him yet.

David Brown's Guising is another with a chance, and this chap has been pretty consistent all season, winning twice and placing twice more, also from just five runs.

Hanoverian Baron is a lot more exposed than those two, but it well enough suited to today's challenge, and can be forgiven his last three runs (didn't stay in the Ebor, hated the firm ground the two previous starts). He should get much closer this time.

A - 1 (Bishop Roko), 6 (Hanoverian Baron), 9 (Guising)

5.00 Doncaster: Two of the nine original declarations for this mile nursery have sent sick notes leaving seven, and two places to aim at. It will take some getting for these babies, so the distance winners, Fire Fighting and What About Carlo, are immediately marked up.

Fire Fighting comes from the Mark Johnston stamina factory, and he's had six runs already, showing his best form as the range has increased. He also won his mile race on the soft side of good so that's another thing less to worry about.

There are numerous unexposed sorts in this contest, but Fire Fighting sets a robust standard.

What About Carlo has had three runs, winning the last of them, over a mile at Goodwood on good ground. He has a bit more scope than Fire Fighting, but is yet to race with cut in the ground.

Extra Noble gets a ten pounds pull from a dead heat with Fire Fighting at Kempton: how useful that is on a different surface at a different trip remains to be seen but he should have more to come after just two races.

Showpiece is another with a chance. By Kyllachy, he should enjoy a bit of juice in the ground, and he's ready for this step up in distance. I'm not sure he'll see it out as well as some of these, but that's why he's 5/1.

It's a tricky old race, and I think What About Carlo has a fair chance.

A - 1 (Fire Fighting), 5 (What About Carlo)
B - 2 (Showpiece), 4 (Extra Noble)

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Doncaster Day Three Preview, Tips, Placepot: 13th September 2013

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Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot

Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot.

After a first race one-two yesterday, joy was pretty hard to come by. Maureen was most disappointing, though Clon Brulee and Tha'ir ran very well to record a last race one-two. Alas, little to cheer in between.

Friday looks really tough, with small fields abundant.

Incidentally, clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.

1.40 Doncaster: It's the Group 2 Flying Childers to start, a five furlong dash for juveniles. Ambiance sets the standard on his Molecomb third two runs back. Last time, he was stepped up to six and didn't quite get home, albeit that was a Group 1 contest. Dropped in trip and class, and with a slight ease in the ground he is the form hare for the others to chase.

Wind Fire is another consistent type, and she's mixed it in good company. Her third to Lucky Kristale last time in the Lowther Stakes over six give confidence that she'll see this trip out as well as any. However, two wins from six starts, in a Class 5 maiden and a weak Listed contest, suggests she shouldn't be good enough to win this.

Thunder Strike has run some blinders and been most consistent with the exception of an inexplicable blip at Newbury, but he probably doesn't want it soft (all form on good or faster so far). And Sleeper King has been beaten by a number of these so it would be disappointing if he was good enough too.

Extortionist could be interesting at a price. He won the Windsor Castle Stakes in a big field at Royal Ascot, and then it all went against him over six furlongs at Maisons-Lafitte. Back at five will suit and he could run well at a fair price.

Green Door is another which has been beaten by a few of these and, despite the trainer's high hopes that he'd be a flag bearer for the yard, he's not performed to the same level as Extortionist and perhaps even Lightning Thunder. He could surprise - they like him - but it's hard to wager that on the evidence of the form book.

A - 1 (Ambiance), 9 (Wind Fire)

2.10 Doncaster: A small field for the Mallard Stakes, a Class 2 handicap run over the St Leger trip. Camborne has a decent profile for this, with one exception: he's not looked to see out the trip in three races over similar range. That Johnny G persists with him over a distance, then, is interesting, and with everything else in his favour, he's worth a small tickle in a tight puzzle.

One for whom the trip will be issue is the recent course and distance scorer, Shwaiman. He'll enjoy the ground too and, while this is a step up in class, the extra distance really seemed to be the making of him that last day.

Pether's Moon looks on the upgrade too and, like Shwaiman, will get a handy weight for age allowance. He won cosily at Goodwood last time and he should stay.

Tenenbaum looks perhaps the most interesting of all. He's been running on ground a lot quicker than ideal, and he was also coming back from a break last time. Stripping fitter today and on slower ground, this Listed winner and Group 2-placed horse is the value play.

A - 3 (Tenenbaum), 8 (Shwaiman)

2.40 Doncaster: Next up, the Doncaster Cup, a Group 2 over two and a quarter miles. Last year's winner Times Up bids for a repeater, and he looks to have a bullet-proof profile for the task. He'll love the ground, has bundles of stamina, and has a great course record. That man Ryan Moore will give him plenty of help from on top. I think he'll win again.

If he doesn't, perhaps the best equipped to usurp him is David Lanigan's Biographer. This is a step up in class and trip for him, but he's up to both, according to his trainer. The evidence of a close up second at Sandown lends credence to his stamina, and he may improve for softer turf. And, although a world away, he actually won his maiden here on good to soft last June.

High Jinx is a really nice Cup horse, but he's been beaten twice by Times Up last year, and does tend to find one too good, as he has done on four of his last five starts. He'll be thereabouts, but there will probably be something in front of him!

The rest are either out of form (Colour Vision) or unlikely to be good enough (Chiberta King et al).

A - 8 (Times Up)

3.15 Doncaster: The May Hill Stakes now, a juvenile fillies' Group 2 over a mile. This is a strong stamina test for the baby girls, and it has been won by some smashing lassies in recent times, including Lyric Of Light, White Moonstone, Certify and Spacious.

Godolphin have monopolized it in recent seasons, winning the last three, and they again have a strong hand to play this year with both the first two in the betting wearing the blue silks.

Ihtimal took her time to get the winning knack, but finally broke her maiden in the Listed Sweet Solera last time. Before that she was a fair third in the Chesham Stakes, against the boys. The trip should be fine, though the ground is taken on trust after four runs on good to firm.

There is confidence behind the thrice-raced Majeyda too who, in her three runs so far, has recorded two wins, the latter of which was in Listed company at Sandown over seven furlongs. That stiff test should set her up nicely for this, and she's had a break since. There's little between the pair of Godolphin entries and, at a bigger price, she's more appealing than Ihtimal.

Qawaasem finished behind Majeyda and in front of Halljoy in her last two starts, and she's likely to do so again today, with little reason to expect either piece of form to be reversed.

Lustrous is unbeaten in one, a Class 3 maiden at Salisbury eight days ago. That was before the rains though, and it's hard to know how she'll cope with softer ground and higher class. She's not shown she can't handle that combination, but 6/1 isn't really enough to tempt me that she can handle it.

A - 5 (Majeyda)

3.50 Doncaster: Gosh, it doesn't get any easier, does it? Another juvenile race, with a small field full of promising sorts. I won't be betting in this.

Be Ready and Barley Mow head the market, with the former thought good enough to pitch straight into Listed company on debut. He managed a good second there, albeit beaten nearly five lengths, and he'll come on for the experience.

Barley Mow is well regarded, and won his debut gamely over the same distance as today's race. It's hard to know the level of that form, though the third has won since from just a handful of subsequent runners.

In a field of unexposed sorts, Invincible Strike is another unbeaten-in-one animal, but he'll find this a lot tougher than the Hamilton maiden he waltzed away with on debut.

I don't like this race one bit, and I hope that either Be Ready or Barley Mow will be good enough to lift the (limped in) placepot to leg six.

A - 2 (Barley Mow), 3 (Be Ready)

4.25 Doncaster: At last, something to really go at: a six and a half furlong handicap with fourteen runners. Elusive Flame has a lot of positives in her profile and this is a step down from a Listed race she contested on her previous start. She'll not be inconvenienced by the ground, has course and distance form, and usually goes well in big fields.

Against her, Shropshire will love the ground and has run well here loads of times. He doesn't win as often as he should, but he'll be bang there again today despite top weight.

Three at bigger prices which are no forlorn hopes are Corporal Maddox, Mac's Power and Spiritual Star. Corporal Maddox is stepping up in grade, but he bumped into a well handicapped rival last time, and won a huge field handicap at the Curragh before that. He might not be done yet.

Mac's Power has been a bit in and out this season, but has pieces of form to figure in this, and won't mind a bit of juice in the green. He's not the most obvious winner, but 20/1 affords a bit of fun in his direction. Ditto, Spiritual Star, for whom the ground is a concern. That said, his only run on softer than good was when well beaten in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, which is a measure of the esteem in which he was held. Since then, he's run with merit on occasion and 33/1 is tempting for half a crown.

A - 1 (Shropshire), 8 (Elusive Flame)
B - 2 (Spiritual Star), 9 (Mac's Power), 14 (Corporal Maddox)

5.00 Doncaster: This is a horrible race in which I have no view. I can't recommend a bet, so I won't!

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Doncaster Day Two Preview, Tips, Placepot: 12th September 2013

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Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot

Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot.

A number of shortlisted winners yesterday (Braidley 9/1, Justineo 4/1, Danas Present 12/1, Sir Pedro 7/1), but not many selected as the best wager, alas. Rain changed the going a little in the latter part of the first day of the meeting, and we commence day two on officially good to soft. We're forecast for a dry day until after racing at least, so that's what we'll work with.

Incidentally, clicking any of the race times will take you to the card, where you'll also find the magnificent Race Analysis reports and Full Horse Form Filters. They're well worth a little play if you haven't done so already.

1.40 DoncasterWe begin, like yesterday, with a nursery: a two-year-old handicap. For fillies only! Six and a half furlongs is the trip, and I'll be looking for a baby that gets seven furlongs with soft in the going description.

Ticking Katie and Aqlaam Vision are the two for me. Katie was green as grass on debut, but in four runs since she's finished first or second in all of them, including over seven furlongs on good to soft at Newmarket last time. She was only beaten a neck there, and she might have thrown her chance away by hanging. If charting a straighter course, she'll go close.

Aqlaam Vision has also run consistently well in her four starts, including in a Class 2 maiden on good to soft at Goodwood. She stays this trip and further (second over a mile last time) and is another set fair to run on into the mix.

Les Gar Gan received a shabby Mulrennan ride last time to blow my (and many of your) placepot(s), and he's replaced by Silvestre de Sousa this time. The horse continues to show promise but I wonder if she might turn into one of those frustrating sorts. Certainly she seems to need a bit to go right for her. On the plus side, she's won on soft and that automatically puts her near the top of the pile here.

A - 3 (Ticking Katie), 9 (Aqlaam Vision), 11 (Les Gar Gan)

2.10 Doncaster: My friend Yuichi from the Japan Racing Association may well be presenting the prize for this JRA-sponsored Group 3, and I wish him well if he is (or if he isn't!). It's a good race for the grade, and my nemesis from Goodwood, Annecdote, faces nine rivals, including the filly I backed - and she beat - there, Winning Express.

Maureen is favourite though, despite the Hannon yard not having the best time of it oop north. Ignoring the stable record, and the nag has a fine chance. She's two from two on good to soft, including a win in the Group 3 Fred Darling, over seven furlongs, earlier in the season. She's subsequently run well in defeat in three successive Group 1's, and the ground may well be the key. She's a serious player.

Annecdote must be a fantastic filly to own. She's won five of her ten starts, four of them over today's trip, and she won her maiden on soft ground, having finished second to... Maureen... when that one lost her maiden tag, on good to soft. I wouldn't be sure she'd appreciate the soft as much as Maureen, but she's incredibly likable and should again run her race.

Winning Express was in front of both that pair in the 1000 Guineas, and has since won a Listed race at Warwick before running up to Annecdote in the Oak Tree Stakes. Her issue might be that she's unproven on softer than good, and she's a less reliable proposition than the other pair in that context. Of course, she could be even better on it, but that's conjecture and her price is too skinny to accommodate such whimsy.

The rest look various degrees of outclassed, though Nargys has a decent race in her at some point. But I think Maureen will be tough to beat here, and Annecdote may well make the frame too.

A - 4 (Maureen)

2.40 Doncaster: Yikes! 22 of 'em over six and a half furlongs for a typically impossible sales race. Six of the nine winners of this to date returned an SP in single figures, and four were favourite, which gives some hope amongst the volume of horseflesh on parade. That said, in 2011, the result was 20/1, 33/1, 66/1 (with Aidan O'Brien saddling the winner!)

Ben Hall is the top officially rated, and he's run well in better races than this, as his rating implies. He has a fair run on good to soft under his belt, and the trip should be ideal. He'll make the placepot ticket in a race where stakes should be kept to minimum, and 'pot perms should be wide and deep!

Coulsty has to be a dodge. His dad, Kodiac, throws tons of quick ground horses and very few soft surface winners. This boy has yet to race on slow turf, and he's an opposable favourite for me.

Tanzeel is short enough on the balance of his form after just two runs, the latter being a win in Class 5. That said, he was thought highly enough of to debut in a Class 3 race, so perhaps there's a fair bit more to come. An official mark a stone below the best of these means he's little value at 7's.

Art Official is interesting. He's on a hat-trick here, and has won in this grade. Moreover, he encounters softer ground for the first time since a close up debut second to that good horse, Parbold. Ryan Moore rides, and this fellow is on my shortlist, no question. As a son of Excellent Art, he's likely to appreciate the return to soft.

Then I'm looking for some B rags to bolster the ticket. I can make bits and pieces of a case for the likes of Tanseeb (should go in the ground, trip looks ideal); Suzi's Connoisseur (Listed winner last time); and Mawfoor (ran ok in the Coventry last time, and trainer Brian Meehan has won this twice).

Plenty of others with squeaks in a tough, tough contest.

A - 4 (Ben Hall), 8 (Tanzeel), 9 (Art Official)
B - 3 (Tanseeb), 7 (Suzi's Connoisseur), 12 (Mawfoor)

3.15 Doncaster: The Group 2 Park Hill Stakes is the feature of the day, for fillies and mares only, and it's run over the extreme distance of a mile and six and a half furlongs, the same as the St Leger itself. So this is sort of the Ladies' Leger. Or the Silver St Leger. Or something.

The Lark is short, but for a reason. She goes on the ground, ran well in the Oaks, and has a touch of class about her. And three-year-olds, with their hefty weight for age allowance, have done well in the Park Hill. As a daughter of Pivotal, stamina has to be taken on trust and, at 7/4 or thereabouts, I'm hunting around for a bit more value.

Alta Lilea might be that. She's the second highest rated, has won on this ground, and is sure to stay. 8/1 offers more scope to be wrong than 7/4 does about the jolly, especially as she could get an easy lead and dictate steady fractions to the pursuing plodding petals (or staying fillies and mares, if you like your lingo more prosaic).

Seal Of Approval is untried on the ground and at the trip, but she won a Listed race last time over a mile and a half, so she has some stamina and some class. James Fanshawe is not known to tilt at windmills, which adds lustre to her chance.

Jathabah will stay all right, but she was beaten by Alta Lilea at Goodwood, and I see no obvious reason why the form would be reversed here. Strange then, that Jathabah is a slightly shorter price.

A - 6 (Alta Lilea), 9 (The Lark)

3.50 Doncaster: We're in juvenile maiden territory, and this one is over a mile. Allied to the ground, that's a serious test of stamina for such young horses. The race has been won by some good priced sorts from leading stables, and all bar one of the last ten winners were having either their first or second run.

The obvious place to start - and perhaps, to end - was the once raced Alpine Retreat. Alas, he's a non-runner, which throws a horse-sized cat amongst the unraced pigeons, if you see what I mean. I don't like Pupil, a horse that was sent off favourite on its only run, and should have fared better with no obvious excuses. So we'll be market guessing and pedigree projecting.

The other Godolphin entry, Fast Delivery, is an Authorized colt, out of a Catcher In The Rye mare, and that's a good staying pedigree. He's bound to know his job, and SdS will steer. Should he fail to fire, Hard Divorce - a son of Hard Spun, a stallion whose progeny, including Moviesta, do surprisingly well on soft - might be the one. His trainer, David Brown, has a 41% place strike rate with juvenile newcomers and that's impressive.

Richard Fahey also saddles an Authorized first timer, Come On Sunshine, and his record with unraced juvies is also impressive: 14% win rate, and 36% placed.

Looking only at horses priced 20/1 or shorter, and Brown's and Fahey's record improves to 46% and 42% placed respectively.

A - 5 (Fast Delivery)
B - 2 (Come On Sunshine), 6 (Hard Divorce)

4.25 Doncaster: A glut of non-runners in this six furlong sprint, due to the change in going since the 48 hour declarations were made. But no change in my three against the field, which are If So, Lupo d'Oro, and Mayaasem.

If So has won three from five this term, including on good to soft over this range. The negative with her is that she was tonked on her only try at this elevated level, and she may still not be up to it. Otherwise, conditions favour her.

Mayaasem has no such worries, after a half length third of fifteen at Newmarket in Class 3. That was on good ground, and he'd previously finished a close up second on good to soft, also in this grade. He's consistent and, if he doesn't fluff the start, can trouble the photographer.

Lupo d'Oro is a bit more speculative, but he has run well at this track and on softish ground. He's got plenty of big field form, including in a Class 2 sprint albeit over five furlongs, and he seems equally effective at this 20% longer trip. He's 28/1 which is playable for small stakes each way.

A few fair judges have been trumpeting the chance of Thunderball, who ran better than his finishing position intimates last time from a poor draw. He's a cracking placepot horse because he's got no 'obvious' form figures, and makes the ticket accordingly, especially given a liking for soft ground.

A - 5 (If So), 20 (Mayaasem)
B - 4 (Thunderball), 9 (Lupo d'Oro)

5.00 Doncaster: Four out in the last so far, leaves ten, to race over a mile and a quarter in this Class 2 handicap. The best suited to the ground, on what they've shown so far at least, are Greek War, Clon Brulee and Tha'ir. The trip is spot on for all three as well, and Tha'ir might just be the best value, given that he's top rated of those still running, and gets five pounds weight for age. He should run well, and 8/1 is playable.

Greek War, the other Godolphin runner from the other Godolphin stable, is feared most. He's been lightly raced and, despite finishing last on soft (when something clearly amiss: didn't race for a year afterwards), he won last time on good to soft, and deserves this step up in class.

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Doncaster Day One Preview, Tips, Placepot: 11th September 2013

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Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot

Doncaster Preview, Tips, Placepot

It's the first of four days on the Town Moor in Doncaster today, which will culminate in the race that gives the meeting its name, the St Leger. We get underway at 2pm, with a competitive looking nursery. The ground is currently good officially.

2.00 Doncaster: Two-year-old handicappers get us started, and there are some old friends of me already in here. The likes of Finn Class and Master Carpenter have provided me with decent returns in their short careers, but there's no place for sentiment here.

The best profile fits according to the Race Analysis Report are Braidley and Fair Ranger. Braidley has run well on all three starts, and only found one too good in this grade last time. That was over a mile, though his maiden win was over today's trip of seven furlongs, so that looks a positive. He ought to be thereabouts.

Fair Ranger is a Hannon juvie and is respected on that basis alone. However, he has more to recommend him than just good stabling: Richard Hughes takes over for the first time, and he's looking to build on a decent effort in the York sales race on his previous outing. Before that, Fair Ranger had won on his only attempt at seven poles and run the talented Cool Bahamian to a neck in this class.

Of the rest, I've been following Jazz closely since his third in a strong nursery at Goodwood that's worked out all right. He was sixth last time in another strong nursery, and I'm fairly sure he's got one of these in him. At around 4/1, his price is a bit skinny, but he's a chance, for sure. And Finn Class dotted up last time to take his distance record to three from three. That was a low enough class race, but he won with plenty in hand and gets in here with a nice weight, especially as jockey Louis Steward claims seven pounds.

A - 2 (Fair Ranger), 8 (Finn Class)
B - 4 (Jazz), 6 (Braidley)

2.30 Doncaster: Just five go to post for this juvenile conditions race, and the betting is interesting. Despite Justice Day being clear top-rated by eleven pounds on official figures, he's only the third favourite. But that feels wrong to me, as his three length defeats in both the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes and the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes are about the pick of the form.

Expert has also competed at Listed and Group 2 level, both times over seven furlongs, and both times beaten far enough. I can't see why he'd be a shorter price than Justice Day.

Lightning Thunder has the most scope to improve after just one run, a win in a Newbury maiden. But the ten runners to have come out of that race and compete again have yet to record a win between them.

The other two, Free Code and Scruffy Tramp, have both picked up a couple of wins so far. Of the pair, Free Code is the one I prefer, and he completely missed the break in Ireland last week having been pretty well-backed (including by me!). He's better than that and might just prove it here, as the best value in the race to my eye. Justice Day is the other I like in a race where either I've got the market wrong, or the market has it wrong. (Note, I suspect I know which one it is... ahem)

A - 1 (Justice Day), 3 (Free Code)

3.00 Doncaster: The Scarborough Stakes, a Listed five furlong sprint, and plenty of familiar names line up, most notably the eleven-year-old, Borderlescott. It's a very open renewal, and the two I like against the field are Justineo and Excelette. Both like to be on the pace, and plenty of others in here do too, so there's a chance of a burn up compromising a fair number of chances but, despite that, these two tick all boxes.

Specifically, they both have placed track form; both have plenty of form on the ground; both have gone well in this elevated company; and both may be capable of a little more than they've shown so far.

Masamah, another who'll chase the pace, is a horse I love. I just suspect, however, that he's lost a quarter stride of speed since his heyday, and that might be the difference between winning and losing. On the bright side, Ryan Moore climbs atop for the first time, so he'll not be wanting for a robust steering job.

And though three year olds have a poorish record in the race, I'm drawn to young Bungle Inthejungle, a hold up horse in a sea of speed. It's just possible that if they all fly forward and if he isn't totally outpaced, Bungle Inthejungle could saunter over the top of them late in the play. It will be exciting stuff to watch should that happen, though it's far from a percentage call! His form this year is better than it looks - he's been running in Group 1 races over the minimum and not beaten too far - and this represents a drop in class. At 20/1, he's playable for small money.

A - 4 (Justineo), 9 (Excelette)
B - 6 (Masamah), 8 (Bungle Inthejungle)

3.35 Doncaster: What?!!! Yes, it's the Legends Race. Old boys (and girls) to you and me. Fifteen line up for this mile Classified Stakes and, if we're lucky, none of the 'former glories' riding will have passed on to the other side before they've passed the post...

I'm not really a fan of sticking these types of novelty event in the middle of the card: they're rarely run to form and they bugger up placepots. Mind you, that said, the three runnings of this particular novelty event have all been won by the favourite, so maybe that's the line to take. In which case, Callmeakhab, ridden by Michael Hills and trained by brother, Charles, could be the one.

There's no doubt Michael will have insisted on being put up on a fit one, and he's about the most recently retired of these riders, so those are reasons to be cheerful. As a three year old (the horse, not Michael Hills), he's getting a bit of weight for age and, in a very, very tight ratings span - just three pounds separate all fifteen runners - that's another plus. With a fair chance he's been laid out for this, Callmeakhab makes the ticket.

Winslow Arizona is progressive, but has been hit quite hard for his win off 50 last time, going up ten pounds. He may be able to overcome that, but wouldn't necessarily be well handicapped. Dana's Present on the other hand steps back up to a sensible trip having run over six furlongs last time, and been unsurprisingly outpaced in the process. In fairness, that was so that he could run on the beach at Laytown, and he's back to more familiar conditions today.

All four wins to date have been over this trip, and he should run well in what could be the placepot-busting race.

A - 3 (Dana's Present), 14 (Callmeakhab)
B - 9 (Piceno), 10 (Sardanapalus)

4.10 Doncaster: Five runners again, and a quintet of largely disappointing types. Elkaayed has done less wrong than most of these, and at a higher level. The drop back in trip will suit, and I think he'll probably win. Gatewood returnds after a failed Australian experiment, and if recapturing his best form, he'd make the pick pull out all the stops. Currently, that has to be a medium-sized 'if', though.

The others probably aren't good enough.

A - 4 (Elkaayed)

4.45 Doncaster: That's better. An eighteen runner seven furlong handicap, and this is best left to the specialists. Regal Dan, a course and distance winner, has much to recommend him. He's been in the frame on all four starts on this going; has been placed on four of six runs in this class; and habitually runs well in big fields.

The one niggle is that he doesn't win that often: just once in his eleven race career. Ryan Moore will help him get his nose in front this time, and that's always a positive.

Secretinthepark is a specialist in this sort of race, and is unbeaten in two races at seven furlongs. He was staying on when just failing in a big field over six last time, and this looks spot on.

The other secret, Secret Art, should also go well. He stays a bit further than seven-eighths, but is fully effective at that trip nevertheless. Purcell is interesting after being withdrawn from his intended race last weekend. He's stepping up to seven furlongs and should stay just fine. He normally races close to the pace so will have first run on many of his rivals; while Life Partner is unexposed and deserves this step up in class after winning over the trip at Newmarket last time.

A - 2 (Secretinthepark), 15 (Secret Art), 16 (Regal Dan)

5.15 Doncaster: And we close with a massive field five furlong sprint. Course specialist Eland Ally is at the right end of the handicap to make a good fist of things, and he's drawn amongst the pace on the low side of the stalls too.

Trainer Tom Tate is in form, and 25/1 is a very big price about a horse with plenty of placed form under today's conditions (although, in fairness, his win record is poor).

Of the more obvious contenders, Threes Grand, Sir Pedro and Even Stevens are fancied to run well. But in such a big field, I'm demanding a big price and rolling with Eland Ally.

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