York Placepot Picks, 21st August 2013

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Wow, that was a toughie. 10/1 and 25/1 filling out the places and, in truth, my next pick was only good enough for third, so I'd definitely not have had that one, alas. Onwards, to the first big pot of the week on the Knavesmire. These picks are based on my Day One York Preview here.

1.55 - Leg 1: Eighteen of the twenty are still standing as I write, and we should get four places here. It's a dangerous approach but I'm putting all bar one of my eggs in the high draw basket here. On A, I'm keen on Above Standard, Lady Gibraltar and Bogart; whilst on B, last year's winner, the big priced Tax Free, and Goldream, a more obvious choice.

A - 9 (Bogart), 19 (Above Standard), 20 (Lady Gibraltar)
B - 14 (Tax Free), 16 (Goldream)

2.30 - Leg 2: The Grey Gatsby should run well and is A banker material, while I like the look of Il Paparazzi's form for B.

A - 4 (The Grey Gatsby)
B - 3 (Il Paparazzi)

3.05 - Leg  3: Despite being dubious about the merit of Telescope's form to date, the trainer is respected immensely, and the horse gets A status on that basis. He's joined by Secret Number.

A - 4 (Secret Number), 6 (Telescope)

3.40 - Leg 4: A tough race to predict, and a great race to watch. The percentage play is to bank on Al Kazeem, and hope there's some pace in the race, perhaps provided by Trading Leather. So that's what I'll do.

A - 1 (Al Kazeem)

4.20 - Leg 5: This is the hardest race of the day for me. Broxbourne is a filly in form, and she was unlucky last time. And Wyborne looks the type to improve today. Willie Wag Tail has been well supported, and will be the third part of my A triumvirate.

I'm taking B's here too, in the shape of Suraj, Eagle Rock, Martin Chuzzlewit and Crackentorp. Phew.

A -10 (Broxbourne), 11 (Willie Wag Tail), 14 (Wyborne)
B - 2 (Suraj), 8 (Crackentorp), 12 (Martin Chuzzlewit), 13 (Eagle Rock)

4.55 - Leg 6: There just remains the small matter of a fifteen runner nursery handicap to close this thing out. Two absentees have already reduced the available place pool from four to three berths, so we need to be on our mettle. I'm a big fan of Jazz (the horse, not the musical genre), and I think he might have won at Goodwood last time with a soupçon more luck.

I also like Tiger Twenty Two and Tanseeb.

On B, I'll have the unexposed ones: Ventura Quest, Les Gar Gan, and Blurred Vision.

A - 4 (Tanseeb), 6 (Tiger Twenty Two), 7 (Jazz)
B - 11 (Ventura Quest), 13 (Blurred Vision), 17 (Les Gar Gan)

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York Placepot Picks

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Leicester Placepot Picks, 20th August 2013

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Back on the winning trail yesterday at Worcester, though in truth nominating the first four winners at cumulative odds of 2,816/1 deserved better than the paltry return we received. It was a profit, but barely.

Just horrific fare on offer at the beaches - Yarmouth and Brighton - today, so we'll wait for tonight and have a crack at some bigger fields at Leicester.

5.00 - Leg 1: Maiden fillies over the minimum kick us off, and the market ought to be about right here, with Shilla and Kanz likely contenders. Shilla ran a nice race behind a decent yardstick in Autumn Sunrise, and having been smartly away there, the drop back in distance should be all right. Kanz was beaten a length and a half by Autumn Sunrise on her penultimate start, and wouldn't have as much improvement as Shilla who has had just the one run.

Of the pair, Shilla looks the more likely to go on, and gets a tentative banker nomination. Those of a nervous disposition can lay the place at around 1.25 but just keep an eye on the non-runner situation, as two would leave such a tactic exposed.

A - 9 (Shilla)

5.30 - Leg 2: Ah yes, you little beauty! A sixteen runner Class 6 nursery, already reduced to fifteen and therefore three places. Oxlip, a winner last time, was beaten in a seller a couple of starts back and surely is under-priced as favourite here, especially given that she had the run of the race last time in a five runner affair. This is much different from that.

Mister Mayday - form 677 - has been well backed, and a reasonable case can be made for him. He's been racing in two classes higher in Newbury maidens, and not being disgraced despite having been held up in the manner of a borderline non-trier. But of course, I didn't say that. He'll be ready to rumble here and these are a lot softer (and a softer lot) than the Newbury good'uns he's faced to date. Top weight and a mark of 65 is justified.

Dovil's Duel was second in a Class 5 nursery last time, and is the most experienced in the field, having started out in the Brocklesby, the opening two year old race of the season. He'll appreciate the drop in class and could run well.

Desert Colours has been beaten far enough in three runs to date and I'd think others might have more scope than him. Rockie Road is interesting for one simple reason: he's got no form whatsoever and yet has been heavily wagered! A precautionary B placement for him. Krackerjill on the other hand does have a form claim. Not beaten far on any of her three runs, she's looked like this trip with a level break could see her win, and today might be the day.

Almost Famous is well enough bred but has shown nothing in three seven furlong starts, the last two over Epsom's undulating quirks. It could be that a furlong less and a flatter track bring about a good amount of improvement and, indeed, it will need to. Chance Of Romance drops back in trip after failing to stay in her last two runs.

I'll take two from the top and four from anywhere else, please, Carole.

A - 1 (Mister Mayday), 3 (Dovil's Duel)
B - 6 (Chance Of Romance), 7 (Almost Famous), 9 (Krackerjill), 12 (Rockie Road)

6.00 - Leg  3: Gravitational drops in class and could win, as could the four-timer-seeking Jubilee Dancer, who rises in class. The other four can be permed in exactas if we get a decent result on the preceding race, to cover stakes.

A - 1 (Gravitational), 3 (Jubilee Dancer)

6.30 - Leg 4: A funny race this. A couple of rags with back class chances are Hot Spice and Flying Applause, and they'll form the B side. On A, Young Jay steps up in trip for his handicap debut for Mark Johnston, a trick he loves to perform; and Forget Me Not Lane has obviously been showing a lot more at home and may be back to his best.

Don Padeja, the jolly, is tough to weigh up. He showed nothing on his sole turf start, and has looked a better horse on all weather. While it's too early to write him off as a turfer, he's too short to make A on what he's done, for me.

A - 1 (Forget Me Not Lane), 11 (Young Jay)
B - 3 (Hot Spice), 5 (Flying Applause), 8 (Don Padeja)

7.00 - Leg 5: Some historically decent nags in here but little in the way of recent form. Albaqaa might be the most solid option, and has verdicts over a few of these; while Alakhan drops a quarter mile to a much more appropriate trip and should give his running this time. I'll take my chances with this pair against the field.

A -4 (Albaqaa), 6 (Alakahan)

7.30 - Leg 6: And if we're still rolling, it's a big field seven furlong handicap to finish. Incredibly, as I write, all sixteen stand, but expect at least one non-runner and therefore just three places to play with. Alluring Star looks a solid favourite, off near top weight, and easily makes A in her bid to make all. Shamrocked joins her as a consistent type that often runs well in big fields on fast ground.

Boy The Bell goes well for inexperienced riders, and has both won here and won for today's inexperienced pilot. And Whistable Native ticks a few boxes and is back to a workable mark.

A - 3 (Alluring Star), 4 (Shamrocked)
B - 6 (Whitstable Native), 7 (Boy The Bell)

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Leicester placepot

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Worcester Placepot Picks, 19th August 2013

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Running late and uninspired, we head off to Worcester.

1.45 - Leg 1: A handicap chase over two and a half miles to start us off, and there's a warm favourite in Spice Hill, a horse who is a professional loser. Eleven rules starts have yielded no wins and, even in a dreadful race, he's hard to be bullish about.

Mac Beattie has been well backed and wouldn't have to do anything special to get involved today, while Crack At Dawn could go well for today's amateur. He's generally amateur-ridden and has course and distance form. This is Nigel Twiston-Davies' time of year, so Brousse En Feux could be of minor interest too in a shocking opener.

A - 5 (Spice Hill), 7 (Mac Beattie)
B - 2 (Brousse En Feux), 3 (Crack At Dawn)

2.15 - Leg 2: Featherintheattic looks reasonably strong in another weak race. Quarton has had less tries than most of these and has a bit of back class.

A - 2 (Featherintheattic), 5 (Quarton)

2.45 - Leg  3: A better handicap chase this time, and one in which Palace Jester may try to make all. Alas the balance of his form gives him a fair bit to do even if getting his own way on the front. More likely candidates are Lawney Hill's Brough Academy and Jonjo's Full Of Joy. The former was quietly fancied when second over course and distance last time, and the latter comes from in form connections too.

Arenalin Flight has normally been found out at this level, but conditions aside from class are all ideal, so he's given a chance on B, along with Special Account.

A - 2 (Full Of Joy), 6 (Brough Academy)
B - 1 (Special Account), 5 (Adrenalin Flight)

3.15 - Leg 4: An interesting little mares' bumper, and Fountains Blossom catches the eye. Favourite Miss Sassypants is a once raced winner, beating second favourite, Dorkas, there. The weight differential between the two is the same here and it's hard to see how the form can be reversed.

A - 1 (Miss Sassypants), 8 (Fountains Blossom)

3.45 - Leg 5: According To Sarah is a strong favourite here on her racecourse debut. In race where all of them are either having their first run or have been worse than moderate so far, she's a banker.

A -2 (According To Sarah)

4.15 - Leg 6: This race revolves around last time out winner, Orthodox Lad. That was a dreadful race but he did it nicely and has to be included. I'll pair him up with Up To The Mark, who looks set to lead and ran a good second in a novice hurdle over half a mile further last time.

A - 5 (Up To The Mark), 6 (Orthodox Lad)

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Ripon Placepot Picks, 17th August 2013

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After a week of shilly-shallying with small fields and pretty desperate racing, it’s great to see some really competitive stuff everywhere this afternoon. The big fields have drawn me in at Ripon, and it’s to be hoped that the dividend justifies the adventurous approach!

2.15 - Leg 1: It's stake preservation in leg one, as there are some big battles to fight later on, and this six furlong maiden has been won by Messrs Fahey, Easterby (T), and Burke in seven of the last ten years. Easterby's main hope from his pair of entries looks to be the experienced Heroique, and she looks set to run well back at six furlongs.

Fahey and Burke are unrepresented, but Kevin Ryan - who took this in 2009 and has saddled a number of placed horses in it too, runs Zal Zilhom, who looked to fail to get the seven furlongs on his debut last time. This easier six and the benefit of a run could see improvement, and those are my pair against the field.

A - 2 (Zal Zilhom), 4 (Heroique)

2.50 - Leg 2: With just that flimsy nouvelle cuisine appetizer to tickle our palate, we move straight into the all you can eat buffet of the consolation race for the Great St Wilfred Handicap, a twenty runner six furlong charge of the (too) light (to get into the main race) brigade. Five of the first six home last year were draw in the bottom ten and that's a trend that replicates itself in the main race, with a strong low draw bias (assuming the pace supports it, natch).

So we want far side, a pace presser on this pace-favouring strip, in form and proven on six good furlongs. Say hello to Fast Shot, who bizarrely appeared somewhere in my dream last night, and has a perfect profile! He's a 16/1 shot and I've had to have a small serendipity wager as a consequence... ahem.

Backing him up from the low drawn batallion on my ticket will be Best Trip, Powerful Presence and Love Island. All are well drawn, and have chances, and of the trio I like Love Island the most. He looks almost certain to run well.

A - 3 (Love Island), 9 (Fast Shot)
B - 7 (Powerful Presence), 17 (Best Trip)

3.30 - Leg  3: The main event, and comments outlined above are valid here too. Low drawn, pace-pressing, proven class, and proven in big fields are what I'm after. In form nags get the nod over back class. Step forward a favourite of mine, Spinatrix. She's just a super-consistent mare, and a triple course and distance winner to boot. Drawn against the rail is perfect for a trailblazer like her, and she's a fair bet.

Prodigality has lucked out with the draw again, though not by too much this time. Drawn 18 in the consolation race last year, he ran a blinder to be second, and drawn 13 this time, he can run a stormer again with highly rated 'bug' rider, Oisin Murphy nicking seven off his back.

Both Rodrigo de Torres and Blaine are well drawn pace-pressers, and they make B in what is a risky looking play for such a race.

A - 5 (Spinatrix), 6 (Prodigality)
B - 8 (Blaine), 13 (Rodrigo De Torres)

4.05 - Leg 4: Perhaps tougher than the two preceding sprints is this mile handicap. Dubai Dynamo, Swiftly Done and Anton Chigurh are all reasonable options at prices, and will form the B set. On A, I'm risking Annina - once raced and 'could be anything'; Hakuna Matata and No Poppy. I told you we needed to save some ammo!

Desert Creek has shown nothing in two starts this year, but 50/1 is huge about a horse for which conditions are ideal.

A - 9 (Annina), 12 (No Poppy), 13 (Hakuna Matata)
B - 1 (Anton Chigurh), 4 (Dubai Dynamo), 6 (Swiftly Done)

4.35 - Leg 5: Supplicant is a mile clear and should win. Lay on Betfair if the 'pot is looking tasty, just in case.

A - 1 (Supplicant)

5.10 - Leg 6: I Say would have needed it last time, and is very well thought of. But she's short enough for one that might need the ground softer and is so inexperienced. As such, I'm siding with proven handicap form in the shape of the top pair, Hot Rod Mamma and Nemushka. Hot Rod Mamma has won twice here and also won last time out off the same mark as today, so she ought to run her race. Nemushka has been in great form too and is only a pound higher than her last winning mark. The ground and trip should be fine for her.

On B, I'll add Maybeagrey and the aforementioned I Say, with the former being proven under conditions but exposed, and the latter the potentially blot.

A - 1 (Hot Rod Mamma), 2 (Nemushka)
B - 3 (I Say), 5 (Maybeagrey)

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Newbury Placepot Picks, 16th August 2013

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Well this is all rather frustrating. A small profit on the A ticket yesterday, with all six winners as well! The cumulative odds for those were 4,328/1, yet the placepot dividend was a miserly £28. That's just how it is at the moment, and it's to be hoped the sequence changes (and for the better!) soon.

Newbury today, and an challenging set of puzzles.

1.50 - Leg 1: We kick off with a two year old maiden over seven furlongs, and three unraced horses fill the first four morning market positions. That makes life unpredictable somewhat..!

Hills have obviously laid a decent bet on God Willing, the Ed Dunlop newcomer, as they go 3/1 about a horse available at 11/2 (as I write) elsewhere. It's ridden by Harry Bentley and that's immediately enough to put me off. His stats betray the general media feeling that he's a fine jockey, and he's certainly not to my tastes. He'll almost certainly win now, of course!

Then there's the Ryan Moore-ridden, Sir Michael Stoute-trained Eye Contact. It was pointed out to me a little while ago that Stoute debutants very rarely get hit with the whip and that's something I've seen to be quite true as a general rule. Therefore, this lad will have to be good enough to contend without the persuader. Obviously, connections are massively respected, and Stoute did win a division of this with a first time starter in 2011. But he won't be the firmest ridden in the race.

If experience is to make the difference then Clive Cox's Raise Your Gaze is the most apparent player. He ran fairly well in a Class 5 maiden at Sandown last time, and will be straighter here. The market speaks very well in his favour.

Eve Johnson Houghton also has a once raced entry, What About Carlo, and he too has been wagered this morning. Part owned by the late Mel Smith, this one missed the start last time, but made a good mid-race move to get involved before paying for those exertions at the business end. That form looks solid and it will be poignant for connections if he's able to oblige.

There have been bits and pieces of money all the way down the card, testament to the unknown nature of things, and I'm taking a bit of a chance by limping in here.

A - 8 (Raise Your Gaze), 11 (What About Carlo)

2.20 - Leg 2: More unraced mysteries in the second division, and this time I'm taking an even bigger chance by banking on the first timer, Zerfaal, on A. Trained by Johnny G, this home bred son of Dubawi has some fancy entries (Dewhurst, Racing Post Trophy, Derby) and clearly he is thought a capable beast.

I think I'll shore things up slightly with another Clive Cox runner, Winter Spice. This fellow has a race to his name, albeit not an especially enticing one. But he was given a very gentle introduction there, and there has been plenty of support for him this time. He could be an interesting dark horse if the result goes the way of rags.

A - 10 (Zerfaal)
B - 8 (Winter Spice)

2.50 - Leg  3: A high class rogues' gallery for this seven runner claiming race. Five of the seven are rated 80+ and all are 71 or higher: not bad for a Class 5 contest worth just two and a half grand to the winner.

Balducci is very 'well in' at the weights, and David O'Meara has again booked Kieren Fallon for this second start for the yard. The first start? Well that can be pretty much written off, given that it was on soft ground, a surface he'd never previously encountered. Back on a more bouncing turf surface, he should go close.

Next best is Balty Boys, a very good two year old, who never quite got to grips with the three year old improvers last year. This season, some leniency from the handicapper has seen him prevail again, although the balance of his form does seem a little patchy. All being well, however, he is very well treated against most of these and, while I think Balducci looks a fair bet, Balty Boys may not be too far behind him.

A - 2 (Balducci)
B - 3 (Balty Boys)

3.20 - Leg 4: A staying handicap where the three year olds get a juicy weight concession from their elders of eleven pounds. Mark Johnston is one of a couple of trainers that seem notably adept at exploiting the weight for age rule in middle distance handicaps, and I almost backed his Statutory last night. The reason I didn't was because I missed the price (11/4 early, now 2/1 best). Despite not backing him since the value's gone (I may go in if he drifts to 5/2 in the on course market), I think he's the most likely winner and hits my tickets accordingly.

Top weight, Continuum, has only had four runs - all this season - despite being a four-year-old. He's progressed from run to run, and could continue that momentum over an extra quarter mile.

A few of the others have chances too, including the rag, Uriah Heep, who might do well in handicap hurdles over the winter for his shrewd trainer, Alan King (also owns him currently too).

A - 1 (Continuum), 6 (Statutory)

3.55 - Leg 5: A Listed race for two year olds over five furlongs. I banked on Wind Fire and had a decent bet on her too when she flopped last time, and I'm a little wary having been bitten there. However, she's dropping in both class and distance, and that should see her run well. Lilbourne Lass has been a fantastic buy, having won over sixty grand already and she deserves this grade increment. With three places to go at, though, I'm trying to get her out of the frame as she'll be a very popular selection.

Abbakova raids from Ireland for unfashionable connections, and that's a recipe I like in the context of a race like this. She's battled hardened, looks to be pace agnostic, and has a pleasantly progressive profile. A short break should have freshened her up for this, and I wish the Dundalk Racing Club, in whose colours she runs, good luck.

Autumns Blush, running in the Krypton Factor silks of Fawzi Nass, takes a giant step up here from a Class 5 maiden at Yarmouth to a Newbury Listed event. That in itself is a pointer to the regard in which she must be held, as Jeremy Noseda is not a renowned windmill-tilter.

In a race where it's entirely possible that Lilbourne Lass will be placed and scupper my fancy-pants plans, I'm taking three against her across A and B.

A - 9 (Wind Fire)
B - 1 (Abbakova), 2 (Autumns Blush)

4.30 - Leg 6: We wind down with a six furlong sprint for three year olds, and it's wide open to my eye. Assembly showed significant improvement to win last time, but that was in a Yarmouth maiden handicap and that's about as bad a race as you can get. True, he's capable of improving again, but that's something he'll have to do even from his lowly perch in this.

Grand Denial looks much more solid. Consistent at this level, he's been placed in six of his seven starts, and was fourth on the other one, last time out. That was in a decent race for the grade at Ascot, and he ought to get competitive in this.

Jontleman is a seasoned campaigner with eleven runs to his name already this year. He's been first or second on five of those eleven runs and that includes a narrow defeat in this class and at this trip last month.

Aye Aye Skipper is a bit in and out, but when he's good - as he was last time, winning a Newmarket handicap over this distance - he's well up to this sort of level. The six pound penalty he's incurred for that win is less than ideal, though, and may just anchor him this time. Secret Missile looks better at five than six and is opposable for me on that basis.

Panther Patrol catches the eye. Winner of back-to-back all weather handicaps, the latter in Class 4, he was then stepped up to Class 2 on the turf and was well beaten. A drop to Class 3 elicited no better, but last time out - down in Class 5 - he ran a strange race before claiming silver. He's unexposed on turf and might sneak into the podium positions once more.

Hartwright drops back to six furlongs after being outstayed and, in truth, outclassed the last day. He also drops down in grade and might return to his formerly consistent ways.

A - 4 (Grand Denial), 8 (Jontleman)
B - 2 (Hartwright), 7 (Panther Patrol)

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Salisbury Placepot Picks, 15th August 2013

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I spread out yesterday looking for a result or two, and it simply didn't happen. The upshot was that we got the 'pot but lost money, a regular issue and one which we just have to stomach. Looking around today, it's scrappy stuff, and I think we'll stay at Salisbury, though with a tighter perm the priority.

1.50 - Leg 1: The first of two seven furlong maiden divisions, and the clear starting point is debut second Starlight Serenade. She gets weight all round here due to the race conditions, and that second place finish, over six furlongs here, is close to the pick of the form. On the down side, the time of that race wasn't too hot and they might go fast here. Plus, she's been off for two months, and Beckett's horses are normally pretty forward first time out too. She's very short in the market meaning she'll take plenty of placepot ticket hopes, and I'm going to take a second A with her and try to get her beaten.

Crystal Nymph is a Hannon newcomer that has seen market support this morning, and is expected to know its job here. They'll do.

A - 4 (Crystal Nymph), 12 (Starlight Serenade)

2.20 - Leg 2: Division two of the seven furlong maiden. Warrendale looked in need of further when green and running on over six furlongs on her debut, and she's a solid favourite here. I'm against Jersey Brown (favoured by the draw at Goodwood last time), and Ninety Minutes (beaten far enough in a similar race on debut), and instead favour Bright Cecily, who was only three and a half lengths behind the winner despite finishing ninth. That was in a fair Ascot maiden, and this looks winnable for her.

A - 2 (Bright Cecily), 10 (Warrendale)

2.50 - Leg  3: Another maiden, this time for older horses, and Paradise Watch looks a place certainty. He's been second and third in his two runs to date, and the form of both is working out well. There are a couple who could improve enough to win, but the pick really ought to make the frame at least.

A - 6 (Paradise Watch)

3.25 - Leg 4: At last, a handicap, and a seven runner fillies' affair at that. Chances. Java Rose has been well backed but I prefer the 3yo's in middle distance handicaps at this time of year, as they're generally well favoured by weight for age concessions, and have more improvement to come.

With that in mind, Shalwa and Bantam, who fought out the finish at Windsor a few weeks back, look most interesting. Java Rose is included on B, along with Pivotal Silence, who gets support from the saddle from Richard Hughes for the first time today.

A - 4 (Bantam), 5 (Shalwa)
B - 3 (Java Rose), 7 (Pivotal Silence)

3.55 - Leg 5: A fascinating Group 3, despite just the six runners. Afsare is quirky for sure, but he is effective at a mile despite racing generally over further in his career, and he's officially rated a few pounds higher than these. Snowboarder has been progressive this season, and was a bit unlucky not to be closer to Montiridge last time. That's solid Group 3 form, and gives his a chance with conditions optimal for him here.

Fulbright has form to win this too, and may be sent on, either as a pacemaker for Snowboarder or in his own right. He's a dogged ex-Johnston performer and either way, I think he could hang tough for quite a way down the lane. He's won at Listed and Group 2 level, and was placed in three mile Group 2/3 races in Meydan in the Spring. He was disappointing last time, but that was his comeback run and I'd expect him to be sharper now.

Andrew Balding runs Highland Knight, a horse I can never get right. The trainer is bidding for a third straight win in the race, with a third different animal, and Highland Knight is certainly capable of mixing it if putting best hoof forward.

Professor has a bit to prove with regards the trip and indeed whether he's quite good enough, while Boom And Bust probably isn't up to this, despite a fine run last time (best drawn and got a soft lead).

A - 1 (Afsare), 6 (Snowboarder)
B - 3 (Fulbright), 4 (Highland Knight)

4.30 - Leg 6: There's every chance that the big-priced Dawn Catcher will take them along here, and she could take some pegging back. Ignore her last run where she got by far the worst of a speed duel, posted wide throughout. It's also possible she didn't enjoy the all weather surface and, back on turf, she's very interesting after a break.

My Own Way Home is an obvious contender. On a four-timer here, she's been in the places on her last eight starts. Can she make it nine? Quite possibly.

Amber Heights has been well backed but her form profile implies she's better on the all weather (just one turf win, no places, from twelve runs). Although the trainer is respected, I'll overlook her today. Likewise, Commandingpresence, who has an excellent history but is trying to win off a career high mark at the age of seven and on her 84th start.

Jonny Portman loves a winner here (won this race in 2010), and he runs Tregereth, a fourteen race maiden, but one that has been placed second or third on seven of twelve turf starts! Three-quarters of a mile is her trip, and she's now down to a mark of just 56, on ground that should suit. Renoir's Lady has never won off higher than 50 and she looks to need to drop a pound or two further from her current 54.

A - 2 (My Own Way Home), 4 (Dawn Catcher), 9 (Tregereth)

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Salisbury placepot picks

Salisbury placepot picks

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Salisbury Placepot Picks, 14th August 2013

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A big pot yesterday and one which we missed, alas. There were some good pointers amidst the previews though, including a nod to 66/1 Cheyenne Red (2nd) and a banker selection of Toto Skyllachy (4/1 winner). It's Salisbury this afternoon for us...

2.20 - Leg 1: Captain Bob sets the form standard but has been quite weak in the market today, and the drop back in trip doesn't look ideal either. As such, it's probably worth looking elsewhere. Likely candidates are Richard Hannon's certain improver, Decimus Maximus, and the unraced Illegal Action who, mercifully, doesn't have Harry Bentley (usual stable jockey) on board. Major Jack takes a big drop in class from his Class 2 debut over course and distance, and ought to be a lot more clued up this time.

A - 4 (Decimus Maximus), 9 (Major Jack)
B - 2 (Captain Bob), 8 (Illegal Action)

2.50 - Leg 2: A nursery over a mile, with all runners stepping up in trip. The favourite, Truth Or Dare, may be very tough to beat and is an A selection. But I want to add a bit more support in what might be a more competitive tussle than first meets the eye. Mawzoona is the one bred to appreciate the step up - by Authorized - while Street Force has been very highly tried and drops in grade markedly here. Brownsville is a big distance mover for Mark Johnston, which raises a metaphorical eyebrow here.

A - 2 (Truth Or Dare)
B - 1 (Street Force), 5 (Brownsville), 6 (Mawzoona)

3.20 - Leg  3: Russian Realm gets in here very lightly and looks the one. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, a man whose only two runners in the eight year history of the race both won, this lad ran a noble third in that white hot maiden won by Remote (all of the eight subsequent runners from the top ten there have won since!).

I think he'll probably win, though the price has gone to that end. He's a banker here though.

A - 8 (Russian Realm)

3.55 - Leg 4: Bana Wu, Bana Wu, Bana Wu, I love you. Yes, I am a member of the Bana Wu fan club, and this filly has plenty of them at Andrew Balding's stable including the trainer's wife! She (Bana Wu, not the trainer's wife) ran a blinder at Royal Ascot from a nightmare draw in the Listed Wolferton Handicap and, with a plum draw here for last year's winning trainer, she looks to have a lot in her favour. A.

Rock Choir is the jolly and she's a progressive 3yo. Three-year-olds have finished first and/or second in all of the last ten renewals, and have actually placed 40% of their runners since 1997. The top-rated is the Hannon-Hughes' Light Up My Light. She clearly didn't give her running last time, but was a good second in Listed class before that. Today she's up in trip and is bred to make a go of that. Hippy Hippy Shake might be a more reliable proposition though, as a Listed winner over this trip last time.

In what looks a trappy enough contest, I'll take a few.

A - 2 (Bana Wu), 9 (Rock Choir)
B - 1 (Hippy Hippy Shake), 7 (Light Up My Life)

4.30 - Leg 5: A non-runner makes it seven going to post, and therefore only two places. There might be a fair bit of pace on here, with all of Danehill Dante, Lisa's Legacy, and Ingot Of Gold liking to get on with things. That being the case, it could pay to side with something held up close ish to them, and that might be Red Shuttle. It's pretty tough to gauge who is best in here, in truth, and I'm again loading up.

On B, I'll have Danehill Dante, Superciliary, both at big prices; and on A, I'll risk Ingot Of Gold along with Red Shuttle and the first time handicapper, Silk Route.

A - 2 (Red Shuttle), 6 (Ingot Of Gold), 7 (Silk Route)
B - 3 (Danehill Dante), 5 (Superciliary)

5.00 - Leg 6: The finale is an apprentice handicap where whips are carried but not used. Whitstable Native has been heavily backed and has strong seven furlong decent ground form, as well as the services of the capable Nora Looby. Ivor's Princess represents the Millman father/son team, and will again get support from the saddle that some of these won't. He's dropped to a very tempting mark and the money suggests far more is expected today after some horror efforts in recent runs (different trips).

Annes Rocket will need some pace in order to pass tiring nags, but she might get it with both Perfect Mission and Pink Mischief pace-pushing protagonists. If we get through this, the pot should be worth having, so fingers crossed.

A - 2 (Annes Rocket), 3 (Ivor's Princess), 5 (Whitstable Native)

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Salisbury placepot picks

Salisbury placepot picks

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Carlisle Placepot Picks, 13th August 2013

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So it was a winning placepot yesterday if you follow A's only, the 24 units returning 2 x £23.40 (or your share thereof). Ticket builder players like me were left with a loss, despite collecting on two tickets, such is the way when so many fancied runners hit the board.

The greatest asset of the placepot in my opinion is that you can be so wrong - as I was yesterday with both Baytown Kestrel and Excellent Jem - and yet still catch a winning wager. 🙂

To today, and a trip up to Carlisle, where the first race looks a bit more open than the betting might suggest...

2.15 - Leg 1: It's a two year old maiden, where the favourite, Omaha Gold, is shorter than 2/1 and a has a '2' for her sole run to date. She's sure to take plenty of placepot support after a 3/4 length defeat at Beverley on debut, but she was smartly away there and had the best draw in one on that notoriously biased sprint track. She again has a fair draw, but she'll be overbet on the 'pot.

Against her are a number with chances. Blue Bounty drops back to six furlongs after seemingly not staying over Chester's seven last time. He was also drawn quite wide there and used a lot of energy early to get across. All things considered that was a good run and probably an improvement on a debut second behind subsequent Listed winner, Miracle of Medinah. He's a danger here.

Beltor has been running well enough at massive prices, and has also been screaming for this step up in trip, being a son of Derby winner, Authorized. He too can run well. Nowinaminute is another that could take more money in the market than she ought to, given that '3' next to her name. That was in a Class 6 claimer and she seemed sharp enough for her debut.

Newcomer Lexington Abbey has been well supported and is of more interest than Nowinaminute and Omaha Gold. And one at a price that could run all right is Neuf Des Coeurs. Very slowly away on debut, she ran on pretty well in a fair Windsor maiden. The extra furlong and the benefit of experience could see her outrun 16/1 odds if she breaks more alertly.

A - 1 (Beltor), 4 (Lexington Abbey)
B - 2 (Blue Bounty), 8 (Neuf Des Coeurs)

2.45 - Leg 2: A big field handicap with a lop-sided book headed up by Natures Law, clear-cut winner of a maiden on her second start last time. That was 103 days ago however, and she's likely to have had an issue or two since then to justify the layoff. In such a bad race, she has to make the ticket, and I'll chance her alone on A with some support on B. That support will come from old stagers, Captain Royale and China Excels and younger buck, Blue Shoes.

Cheyenne Red may run better than a 66/1 shot. And he may not...

A - 8 (Natures Law)
B - 4 (Captain Royale), 5 (Blue Shoes), 7 (China Excels)

3.15 - Leg  3: We've discharged a fair amount of firepower already with two lots of B's in the opening two legs, so it's belt-tightening time. A seven runner nursery isn't an obvious place to embark on such a placepot diet, but with a hat-trick-seeking Prescott horse in the mix we might just get away with it.

Threetimesalady has won twice for Rosie Jessop and is bidding to make it three times for the lady here. The drop back in trip ought not to be too much of a hindrance, and she's obviously progressing. I'll lob in Soul Instinct - very well backed already - to give us a second shout.

A - 1 (Threetimesalady), 3 (Soul Instinct)

3.45 - Leg 4: A messy claimer, and one where Toto Skyllachy has a very good chance to get back on the winning trail. He's got a proper jockey back on board today, and has been running competitively in much higher grade this season (including at Royal Ascot!), and he's the best part of a stone and more 'well in' with these. I'm banking on him. Gulp.

A - 2 (Toto Skyllachy)

4.15 - Leg 5: Save The Bees is fit and in winning form, going for a triple here. The ground might be quick enough but he's hard to overlook, so I won't. Euston Square gets a stone from that one and has been peppering the target of late without getting his head out front. He's decent placepot fodder today.

Wyldfire is relatively lightly raced and has been consistent at around today's trip, to which he drops back this afternoon. There have been bits of cash for him and it's easy enough to see why. The very lightly raced Obboorr also has claims with his mildly progressive profile.

A - 3 (Save The Bees), 9 (Euston Square)
B - 4 (Obboorr), 7 (Wyldfire)

4.45 - Leg 6: We close with a messy old thing, where most of them could beat most of the rest of them. True Pleasure and Dance For Georgie are the obvious ones, and I won't be looking too far beyond the obvious here.

Berlusca looks a bit poor, Secret Empress doesn't necessarily want this step up in trip, and Birdy Boy seems (a good bit) better on all weather. Moral Issue is bang out of form, and Cheers Buddy has been off a long time. So too has Indian Giver, though he at least ticks a few forms boxes and is a massive price.

Yep, let's stick with the obvious.

A - 2 (Dance For Georgie), 4 (True Pleasure)

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Carlisle Placepot Picks

Carlisle Placepot Picks

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Wolverhampton Placepot Picks, 12th August 2013

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Monday is never a striking day to rejoin placepot battle lines, and it may again be the case today. No matter, for where there are races, there are upset prospects, and we'll have some fun trying to spot the pretenders amongst the contenders. Enough with the pre-ramble, and on to Dunstall Park for a 2.15 start...

2.15 - Leg 1: This looks like a thoroughly uncompetitive opener and, while Trinity River has had a three tries now, and though none of them have been on the all weather, she still seems by far the most likely prospect. In a race where none of the four newcomers have taken support, Oakley Dancer may not be completely bereft of place prospects at 40/1 BOG, but it's Trinity River banker to get us going.

Those of a nervous disposition can place lay at around 1.08 to cover any accidents here.

A - 10 (Trinity River)

2.45 - Leg 2: This is much more like it. A seven runner claimer with a distinctly shaky look to the top end of the market. Highest rated, and short priced favourite, is Baytown Kestrel. But this 400 Guineas purchase looks a dodge to me. She ran a monstrous race first time up when winning at 50/1, and was unsurprisingly outclassed in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. Since then, she's finished second twice - the first time in a seller - and then fourth of seven last time.

As well as being eminently beatable, she is also rated six pounds higher on all weather than turf, which seems harsh on the balance of her form. What really puzzles me though is that firstly she was entered in a seller, and now she's in a claimer. That implies connections don't think she's that much cop, or may be regressive/an early season filly. That suspicion is further aroused by the notion that she can be claimed here for £12,000. This is the most weight she's carried and I wouldn't be sure she'd be up to lugging it either.

Basically, I think Baytown Kestrel is opposable at 6/4, and I'll be doing just that. But with what? Well, I'm taking two against her on A: Black Treacle and Limegrove. The former is trained by Wolves master, Keith Dalgleish, and has taken a bit of time to find his stride, both literally and metaphorically. But a win the last day after a slow start hinted at a fair bit more in the tank, and he might go well on the surface change too.

One that definitely will go fine on the surface is Limegrove, a fill that missed the kick here on her debut and still stayed on to be third of eight at 25/1. David Evans is a master of the self-handicapping art of claimers, and she'll be positioned perfectly in the weights. Her all weather form reads 312 and she ought again to be thereabouts.

Marilyn Marquessa was behind Limegrove on the latter's debut, and she doesn't look to have progressed at all. She's a very short price here, and a tempting place lay. Her rock bottom weight gives her a theoretical chance, but it's far more likely to do with the fact that she's extremely moderate.

Bill Turner has had a poor season by his standards, and his Lovely Lily might go better dropped back in trip here. She was sharp enough first time over six furlongs, and wasn't beaten that far at the death. She might get third, but it's hard to see either or both of Limegrove and Black Treacle not getting placed.

A - 1 (Black Treacle), 4 (Limegrove)

3.15 - Leg  3: Another odds on favourite in the form of Simple Magic, for Johhny G. He sends a fair number of his lesser nags here and, while 25% of them win, only 16% of his two-year-old maidens have done so since 2003. In the last two years, just one of eleven has won. Obviously, Simple Magic has a form chance on her turf performances, but she needs escorting with some B ballast.

Elite Freedom has run competitively in both her starts to date and, whilst not really improving last time, she can't be written off yet. B. And both Alquimia and Exceed Areeda ought to improve a bit on what they did on their sole starts so far, though Alquimia might want further rather than shorter and could be a handicap plot in a couple of runs time...

A - 11 (Simple Magic)
B - 1 (Alquimia), 3 (Elite Freedom), 5 (Exceed Areeda)

3.45 - Leg 4: It's fillies' handicap time, over seven furlongs. The draw favours inner berths though this short field of seven may not be too much of an issue for wider drawn lasses. Just two places to go at, and the track form of Amethyst Dawn and Miss Avonbridge looks something to side with.

Amethyst Dawn has won two and placed on a further three of her six starts here, and seven furlongs looks optimal for her. There's a bit of pace on, with Silkelly and Miss Avonbridge likely to push forward from the start, and that will suit Amethyst's stalking style. Of course, if there's little pace on early then Miss Avonbridge could be best placed to take advantage of a dawdle, being a front runner drawn 3. She is one from one here, having broken her maiden over course and distance back in November last year. She's been extremely consistent except when probably hating the track at Southwell last time, and looks fairly priced around 5/1.

The favourite is Clear Pearl, a lady who has been performing very well at Yarmouth. I just don't trust Yarmouth form so, while she might be good enough to get in amongst it here, I'm inclined to look elsewhere (perhaps foolishly). Summer Dream did well from a poor draw over course and distance last time, and that was against the boys too. Battling the girls here, and drawn better in 2, she'll be a challenger today, I think.

A - 2 (Amethyst Dawn), 6 (Miss Avonbridge)
B - 5 (Summer Dream)

4.15 - Leg 5: Another seven furlong handicap and a bigger field. The favourite, Angel Cake, is drawn nine, and will need some luck from there. She's also got a lot of weight to carry here with her penalty. Nevertheless, she was an easy winner last week over course and distance and cannot be left out of calculations.

Glenridding is a standing dish here, and is most dangerous when allowed to lead. He's drawn one today, and there's not much other pace in the race, meaning he could get just the set up he likes. A place player, without doubt.

There's been money for Excellent Jem and, whilst he's yet to see this course, he has had twelve winless races so far. True, he's placed on two of his three all weather attempts, but both were at Kempton, and there's a big enough doubt about translating that form to ignore him here, particularly at the price.

Time To Begin is much more interesting, stepping back to the distance of his best run - a close second at Dundalk - and he looks quite appealing for smart connections.

A - 1 (Angel Cake), 3 (Glenridding), 6 (Time To Begin)

4.45 - Leg 6: And so to the lucky last, a surprisingly decent Class 4 handicap over a mile and half a furlong. Mount Tiger won well here over course and distance on his penultimate start, but never got involved back on turf last time where he may have pulled his chance away. Drawn wide enough, he's short enough, but has definite place chances all the same. Included.

Classic Colori has plenty of weight in this, but his Wolves form is the winningmost: three wins from seven starts. It should be noted that two of those wins were in sellers and the third in a claimer, so top weight in a Class 4 handicap might be asking a lot. Then again, given a second and a win earlier this season in this grade, it might not. As you can tell, he's a hard horse to weigh up. He has lugged plenty of lead on numerous occasions to win, so on that basis he makes the ticket.

Invisible Hunter is really interesting in here. He's been campaigned in higher class to date, and had form with some good animals last term. Things really haven't panned out for him this year so far, but this first try at Wolverhampton, a first time visor, and a drop in grade might help. The young lad, Ahmad al Subousi has one win and four places from his eight public rides here to date, and I reckon his mount could run well this afternoon.

Ocean Tempest is a consistent stick and is certainly worth including too in what is a fascinating closing placepot leg.

A - 2 (Ocean Tempest), 7 (Mount Tiger)
B - 1 (Classic Colori), 3 (Invisible Hunter)

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Wolverhampton placepot picks

Wolverhampton placepot picks

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Glorious Goodwood 2013 Preview, Trends and Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Preview / Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Preview / Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Preview, Trends and Tips

It's my favourite flat meeting of the year is Glorious Goodwood, hosted on one of the most beautiful racecourses in the world, and I'm disappointed that I'll likely only get there one day this year.

But that won't stop me from punting every day, and this idiosyncratic track has plenty of clues for the savvy wagerer. In this introductory piece, we'll take a look at course constitution, running styles, any draw bias, and those handlers and riders that traditionally do well at Glorious Goodwood...

Then, all of Glorious Goodwood week, you'll find full in-depth previews, trends, tips, and placepot selections for every day of the Glorious Goodwood festival. Let's get started with the general 'need to know' information.

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Course Constitution

Goodwood Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Preview, Trends, Tips: Course Constitution

Goodwood's racecourse is situated atop the Sussex Downs, and so it makes sense that these are undulating pistes. There is a straight strip, on which all five and six furlong sprints are run; the remaining contests involve galloping around at least one very sharp turn.

Goodwood has two home bends, one each on its inner and outer loops, the sharper of which is on the inner loop. It generally takes quite a fairly agile horse to act on such a demanding course, and it's not all horses will be suited by this up-and-down left-and-right track.

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Pace Analysis

Goodwood clearly favours a front-running run style. Proform, the brilliant form analysis software, tells me that horses who led there since 2006 won 16.67% of the time.  That's exactly one in six horses that led in their races won.

For prominent racers, that strike rate drops to 10.26%, and those held up for a late run won just 7.43% of the time. This means that front runners win 62.5% more often than prominent racers, and two and a quarter times as often as hold up horses.

If you're backing one that comes with a late rattle at Glorious Goodwood, get your prayer mat out! (Or, better still, try not to back closers).

From a betting angle, backing all horses which led in their races here since 2006 was worth £197.47 at SP, and a monstrous £458.12 at Betfair SP. This pace bias holds up in all field sizes and in handicaps and non-handicaps alike.

Of course, we don't know for sure which horse will lead until the race is off, but there are some clear pointers in the form and it's well worth taking the time to review them. The message is straightforward: favour front runners, and expect a boring night listening to sob stories if your mate insisted on backing hold-up types. 😉

Glorious Goodwood 2013 Draw Bias

There may be a slight advantage to be drawn low on the straight course, i.e. over five or six furlongs. However, in reality and like almost everywhere else, it is generally more important to be drawn close to the early pace in the race over such distances.

On the round course at up to a mile, there doesn't seem to be the bias there once was. At nine furlongs, where they race around the tight inner bend, there is a pronounced bias towards high numbers.

In fact, in races of 14+ runners, horses drawn 10 or higher have won 55% of the races from just 43% of the runners. Again, though, it bears repeating that racing on or very close to the pace is beneficial. Combining a forward pace position with a high draw in races over nine furlongs is a good thing to do!

Goodwood Top Trainers

There are certain trainers who target this meeting with unerring accuracy. Top man is Mark Johnston, who since 2006 has bagged 26 Glorious Goodwood races, for a level stakes profit of 77.29 points at SP. Last year, he saddled an impressive seven winners (from 23 runners, 30% strike rate) for a huge 44.71 units profit at starting price. He's THE man to take seriously here.

Less lucrative to follow, but still a winner of plenty of Glorious Goodwood races, is Richard Hannon. The problem with Hannon is that he throws a LOT of mud at the wall, and some of it sticks. In fact, last year, he ran 39 horses (!), with three winning. His 25 winners since 2006 have come from 203 runners.

Other trainers to note for both profitability and strike rate at the Glorious Goodwood meeting include Dandy Nicholls, Alan Jarvis, Ralph Beckett, William Haggas, William Knight, Chris Wall, Jeremy Noseda, and Team Cecil.

Glorious Goodwood Vidcast

Now then, if you fancy getting a few clues ahead of Glorious Goodwood, then how about tuning in to a special 'vidcast' (internet telly type thingie). The bad news is that I'm on there. The good news is that the excellent Dan Kelly, sometime Geegeez writer and form student; Cathryn Fry, multi-talented radio and print journalist; and the superb Rory Delargy, of timeform; are also on the panel.

It's free to watch (of course), and is below.


Glorious Goodwood Day One (Tuesday) Preview, Tips

And so to Day One of the 2013 Glorious Goodwood meeting. For each day, I'll be previewing the races; looking at any material trends; offering a tip or six; and suggesting some placepot plays. With that in mind, let's jump straight into it, starting with the opening race on Tuesday, the bet365.com handicap stakes.

1.55 BET365.COM STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2)

As you'd expect, this is a competitive handicap. There are twenty runners and we're looking for a horse that likes to race prominently. I'm especially interested in anything that Mark Johnston saddles, as he's won this race three times in the last six years, and he's had two fourths in the non-winning years as well.

He sends out Fennell Bay and Reset City this time, and Fennell Bay looks the pick of the pair from his berth in stall five. He's a prominent racer and could sit handily and make his challenge two out. He was good enough to run fourth off a two pound higher mark in another ten furlong handicap at the Glorious meeting last year, and a true run mile and a quarter might be ideal for him these days.

Vasily looks set to lead them, and might be joined by either Labarinto and/or Fast Or Free. All three of these are drawn in double figures, so will have to expend some energy to get a position, a resource consumption which could compromise their chances at the other end of the race. The same comment applies to Tepmokea and Strictly Silver, making up a quintet of high drawn horses that normally race on the pace. This could make for some interesting manoeuvring in the early furlongs...

With so many of the probably pace setters seemingly inconvenienced by their draw, it might be that a hold up type runs over the top of them, as does often happen at this trip. High drawn horses, like Landaman last year, are best placed to employ this tactic; and of the hold up nags, Whispering Warrior may fare best.

He's racing off a career high handicap mark, but that's something he's done five times in his last six starts already. A two length winning margin the last day, when coming from last to first, would suggest he's still improving, and he'll try to circumnavigate the lot of 'em to win. This is clearly a tougher race, but Whispering Warrior is on a very tidy upward curve.

The other Johnston runner, Reset City, is drawn in the middle, which might not be ideal, but if Franny (combined record 521621) can get her dropped out, and not have to go too wide for a run in the straight, she's capable of making the frame. She's taken a while to get the hang of things, and is off a light weight as a consequence. The one negative might be the ground, as she seems to like it very quick.

Blue Surf and Nabucco both have strong form claims if getting a run. Blue Surf has plenty of good form - including a win - here, and trainer Amanda Perrett has a very good record at the track. This fellow does seem to be collecting hard luck stories though, and they're not generally my kind of wagering tipple.

Nabucco is on the up having had just the seven runs to date. He is stunningly well bred, being by Dansili out of Cape Verdi (won the 1000 Guineas, and was actually sent off favourite for the Derby despite being a filly!) He can also run pretty well, as two wins - both over ten furlongs - in those seven starts attests. He beat a number of his rivals here the last day, when holding on well, and he could just be a yard ahead of the handicapper.

Selection: Fennell Bay 14/1 bet365 BOG
Alternative: Whispering Warrior 9/1 bet365 BOG

Placepot Picks

A - 2, 9, 13

2.30 BET365 MOLECOMB STAKES (Group 3)

A tricky little two year old race that has thrown up some high class sprint handicappers in recent years, and some Group class sprinters too.

Molecomb Stakes Trends

8 of the last 16 winners won last time out; four more were second; and two more were third to fifth (including last year's winner, Bungleinthejungle).

13/16 were returning to the track within 30 days of their previous start

10/16 had had four or five prior starts

All sixteen had previously won at the five furlong trip, but only two had won beyond that distance.

Trends shortlist: None!

Molecomb Stakes Preview

We're looking for an out and out speedster here. Probably one that has already run in Listed class or better, and certainly one that has shown winning form at the minimum. In that context, Ambiance is a great place to start. This lad is 06 in his two runs beyond five furlongs, and is 141 in three goes at five-eighths.

Better yet, the 4 was in the Norfolk Stakes behind the beast, No Nay Never, and the subsequent 1 was in Listed class at Sandown. Two years ago, Zebedee used that Sandown race as a springboard (geddit?!) for this, and I think Ambiance is over-priced here.

Anticipated is another dropping back from six to five after failing to match his previous level of performance over the longer trip. He was a winner of his first two races, and then a good third to Extortionist in the Listed Windsor Castle. But Group 2 form is better than Listed form so I can't see how this one is a shorter price than Ambiance.

Justice Day and Brown Sugar have both won over further, suggesting - a notion supported by recent history - that they won't have the raw speed for this. This may well be Sleeper King's trip - for now at least - but he doesn't look good enough on the basis of his three runs to date, and has something to find with Ambiance on Windsor Castle running.

Supplicant is favoured and, again, I'm struggling to see how he can be a shorter price than Ambiance. Supplicant was beaten by Langavat, a horse that Ambiance beat easily (albeit favoured by the draw that day). Supplicant ran second in the Listed Windsor Castle. Ambiance ran fourth in the course record-smashing Group 2 Norfolk Stakes. Supplicant had the best of the draw in the Windsor Castle too.

Reroute is interesting in that she's only had two runs, including a defeat of Royal Mezyan (himself then sixth in the Norfolk), and a close up run behind Rizeena in the Group 2 Queen Mary. The fillies have had a decent record in this over the years, with seven of the last sixteen winners being ladies.

In summary, I might be wrong, but I think the betting here is skew whiff. Ambiance and Reroute ought to be sharing favouritism in my book, and that makes them both value at 6/1 and 5/1 respectively. I especially like Ambiance at 6/1 each way with bet365 paying a quarter the odds.

Selection: Ambiance 6/1 bet365 BOG (NAP)
Alternative: Reroute 5/1 BetVictor

BetVictor will return your stake as a free bet if the SP favourite wins, so if you fear Supplicant (most likely), you might want to bet with them.

Racebets will return your stake as a free bet if Richard Hughes wins, so if you fear Anticipated, you should bet with them.

Placepot Picks

A - 1, 9

3.05 BET365 LENNOX STAKES (Group 2)

I've been through this race in the video preview above, so will pick out salient points on a form basis, as well as the full trends view.

Lennox Stakes Trends

Nine of the thirteen winners finished first or second last time out.

All thirteen have been won by a horse aged three to five. All bar three places also claimed by that age range.

11/13 had run within sixty days

11/13 had won at the distance

Trends shortlist: Aljamaheer, Producer, Professor

Lennox Stakes Preview

The clear starting point is Aljamaheer, a Group 2 winner last time out over a mile. Prior to that he'd been placed in two Group 1 races, also over a mile. The big question with this chap is whether he's as effective over a furlong shorter. Looking at his form profile reveals that he's run twice at Listed level, winning once and finishing second to the useful Producer. He also finished third in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes last year, implying that he does act at this trip.

Aljamaheer has an obvious form chance, which is reflected in his price of 5/2.

Next in the betting is Producer, for the Hughes/Hannon team. He's a Group 3 winner over course and distance, but the best horse in that race was rated 110. Here, he'll face seven better-rated rivals. Although conditions like optimal, I doubt whether he's quite good enough against these better horses.

The one I like is Caspar Netscher. He's not run for 317 days but goes well fresh - a winner in both seasons to date - and he's a triple Group 2 winner whose only run at seven furlongs resulted in a Group 3 win in the Greenham. Although he's been off for quite a time - firing blanks at stud, so the story goes - he'll be fit enough for this, based on his previous first time up efforts, and I think he's a solid each way play, especially as he seems to act on any going.

Although Garswood doesn't need it soft, it might help his chances. Seven furlongs looks to be his trip, and he has a bit more scope than some of the older horses, as well as getting five pounds from them. The booking of Ryan Moore is hardly a negative...

Professor has never won above Listed class, and has done most of his racing/winning over six furlongs. Although he clearly has the winning knack, it's a leap of faith to believe he can translate that to Group 2 and seven furlongs, and 9/1 doesn't excite me in that context.

Krypton Factor has bags of speed, as a Group 1 win at six furlongs (and a G1 3rd as recently as two starts back) demonstrates. He might be a toenail slower than he was, and he does stay seven furlongs. As such, he's the pick of the outsiders here, with Kieren Fallon another eye-catching jockey booking.

Fencing strikes me as a horse that has been ultimately disappointing. His odds of 6/1 are not even close to tempting for me. Two wins in Listed class from nine career runs compare extremely unfavourably with the likes of Caspar and Aljamaheer, and he's a lay to my eye. (Cue win on the bridle...)

Selection: Aljamaheer 5/2
Each way play: Caspar Netscher 11/1 (bet with BetVictor, and get money back on win part if second to the favourite)

BetVictor will return your stake as a free bet if the SP favourite wins, so if you fear Aljamaheer, you might want to bet with them.

Racebets will return your stake as a free bet if Richard Hughes wins, so if you fear Producer, you should bet with them.

Placepot Picks

A - 1

3.40 BET365 SUMMER STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2) 

A staying handicap which has tended to go to a higher weighted horse. Luca Cumani is the top trainer here historically, but he's unrepresented this time, and Mark Johnston's two winners were back in 2003 and 2005. Nine of the last ten winners were aged four or five.

Oriental Fox could be the one to put Johnston back in the winner's enclosure from his pair of entries. The Fox has been raced in Germany and Switzerland prior to this year, when he's been no better than second in five British starts. Two of those were in big fields over this sort of trip, including a short head defeat in the Northumberland Plate.

His usual pace-setting run style (not deployed in the Plate) sets him up to be shot at, but he's clearly a tough little bugger, and in my opinion, Joe Fanning is a peerless rider from the front.

Clowance Estate is stepping up in trip and will need to settle better than when third of nine last time over a mile and a half. In a race like this, there's a good chance he will settle better, and he could be a Group grade stayer in the making. If ridden more handily, I think he'll run a career best.

Alan King won this back in 2009 with Manyriverstocross, and tries again with Ardlui, a horse just a pound higher than when winning over two miles in Class 2. This slightly shorter trip should be ok, and he'll be close enough to the pace to deliver his challenge. You'll at least get a run for your money if you back this one, and he might be the fellow to again break Oriental Fox's heart.

Harris Tweed may ideally want it a bit softer these days, but he's dropped ten pounds since this time last year and, though no spring chicken aged six, he's hardly past it either. 16/1 is tempting.

Dangers abound, of course, but I'm happy siding with something close to the pace, weighted to win, that goes on the ground and will stay. The above trio tick most of those boxes at the very least.

Selection: Oriental Fox 9/2 BetVictor, Hills
Each way alternative: Clowance Estate 9/1 PP

BetVictor will return your stake as a free bet if the SP favourite wins, so if you fear Oriental Fox, you might want to bet with them.

Racebets will return your stake as a free bet if Richard Hughes wins, so if you fear Duke Of Clarence, you should bet with them.

Placepot Picks

A - 6, 11, 13
B - 2, 5


A juvenile maiden run over six furlongs. No horse has won this first time out in the last decade, so I'm definitely siding with experience. Sacha Park brings Group level form to the table, but he had only a neck to spare on Mystique Rider in their Salisbury race, and the latter has much the better scope to improve. Of course, he'll need to given then Sacha Park has himself performed to a six pound higher RPR since.

Brazos and Fiftyshadesofgrey have also run with merit in their races to date, and this is no 'Sacha Park banker' affair for me... though that one may well make the frame.

I won't be betting in this race, because I don't really have a clue, but hopefully it will be important for us to progress on the placepot.

Each way selection: Mystique Rider

BetVictor will return your stake as a free bet if the SP favourite wins, so if you fear Sacha Park, you might want to bet with them.

Racebets will return your stake as a free bet if Richard Hughes wins, so if you fear Sacha Park, you might want to bet with them.

Placepot Picks

A - 11
B - 2, 3, 9

4.50 POKER AT BET365 STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 3) (3yo+ 0-90)

A big field mile handicap, and one where a low drawn prominent racer should be favoured. The two which best fit the bill are Mark Johnston's Copperwood, and Hugo Palmer's Ascription.

Copperwood is a good old boy, and has nothing left to hide from the handicapper. But his level of form is decent, and he's been winning lately. Indeed, he's won fourteen times - and been placed 39 times - in a 96 race career! He's only ever raced once in this Class 3 grade, and finished a decent third of nine over a slightly inadequate seven furlongs.

Ascription is at the other end of the exposure spectrum, having had just eight runs. He's only won one, a mile handicap on soft, but he's backed that up with a couple of good placed bits of form. From stall one, he should go well with Buick aboard.

Bronze Prince is seven pounds lower than his last winning mark, and he's got some decent efforts on this strip to his name. I was surprised to see he was 33/1 in a place. That's too big, despite the car park draw for this front-running sort. And, right down the bottom, Kyllachy Star is another that hasn't won for a long time but is very nicely handicapped. This return to a good ground mile handicap could be the key, and a low draw for the some time pace presser might also be optimal. 16/1 is tempting too in a race won by 16/1 shots in the last two years.

Albaqaa is a third veteran that could be well in, and he's been running eye-catchingly of late too. A win and two seconds in his last six runs give him place prospects at least at around 18/1.

Uppercut beat Bancnuanaheireann in this last year, and both try again this time around. Both were better drawn last year, and of the two, I'd slightly favour Bancetcetc on this occasion.

Captain Cat and Desert Revolution could both be ahead of the game as very lightly raced individuals. It's impossible to know how they'll cope in a cauldron such as this, but they cannot be ignored in a wide open race where they bet just about 10/1 the field.

One other to mention is Country Western. He's been running with merit in higher class races and, if he can skulk across to the rail from a fairly wide draw, could make the frame.

Tentative each way two against the field: Kyllachy Star 16/1 bet365, Copperwood 12/1 general

BetVictor will return your stake as a free bet if the SP favourite wins, so if you want another on your side, you might want to bet with them.

Racebets will return your stake as a free bet if Richard Hughes wins, so if you fear Democretes, you should bet with them.

Placepot Picks

A - 7, 16, 18, 20

5.25 MOBILE AT BET365 STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 3) (4yo+ 0-90)

And we close with a really tough sprint handicap, for small stakes only. Course and distance winners, Blanc De Chine and Lady Gibraltar, both have strong form chances, though they might be drawn on the wrong side. Specifically, there seems to be a lot of pace in the high numbers, with Fair Value, Hopes N Dreams, Mata Hari Blue, Cadeaux Pearl and Whitecrest all happiest when getting on with it.

If things pan out in that way, it could set up for a high drawn closer, and two that potentially fit the bill are Waseem Faris and Cruise Tothelimit. The former is interesting on a number of slices of his CV and, though he doesn't win very often, he's rarely beaten far. This looks tailor made for him and, at around 25/1 I'll take my medicine if he again gets stopped in his run.

Cruise Tothelimit was actually fifth in this race last year off a pound higher rating, and ought to go well again at around 14/1.

It's not a race to take too seriously, and those two will do for me, small interest stakes only.

Two interests against the field: Waseem Faris 25/1 bet365 (five places), Cruise Tothelimit 14/1 bet365 (five places)

BetVictor will return your stake as a free bet if the SP favourite wins, so if you want another on your side, you might want to bet with them.

Racebets will return your stake as a free bet if Richard Hughes wins, so if you fear B Fifty Two, you should bet with them.

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Just A's - 3 x 2 x 1 x 3 x 1 x 4 = 72 bets

All picks - 3 x 2 x 1 x 5 x 4 x 4 = 480 bets

Ticket builder optimized perm - see below.

Glorious Goodwood placepot

Glorious Goodwood placepot

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Glorious Goodwood Day Two (Wednesday) Preview, Tips

To Wednesday, and the Duel on the Downs, amongst many other mouth-watering contests. we start with a marathon handicap.

1.55 UBS GOODWOOD STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo+ 0-95)

This has been won by National Hunt or dual purpose trainers in five of the last eight years. Messrs Hendo and Johnston have claimed a brace apiece in the past decade. That duo are responsible for all of Lieutenant Miller, Courtesy Call, Broxbourne and Good Morning Star.

Lieutenant Miller stays this sort of trip well enough on the flat, as he showed when third in the Ascot Stakes, a race the same trainer's Ghimaar was fourth in before winning this in 2010. He's progressive, and has a verdict over Broxbourne recently too.

Courtesy Call didn't quite get home in the Queen Alexandra Stakes over 2m6f last time, and he might just need it to be like a road. The recent rain means that's less likely, and on balance I'd be looking elsewhere.

Broxbourne won a good little Ascot handicap the other day, where he was very much suited by the run of the race. He's been tremendously game and consistent though, and is hard to leave off placepot tickets at least.

Good Morning Star gets an entry here despite having shown little since her good fifth in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at this meeting last year. She did produce a fair effort when sixth in the Chester Cup, beaten just over three lengths, and that form wouldn't leave her too much to find off a rating of 91. But she's pretty in and out, and wouldn't be a reliable proposition.

Those at the top of the weights have done well in this in recent years, and Gassin Gulf is an interesting contender. Formerly with Sir Mark Prescott, he was sold for 130,000 Guineas last October, and not done an awful lot since then to justify the price. He has finished second on both completed starts, either side of a Triumph Hurdle flop, and a stiff stamina test here might be perfect. The trainer has booked Mickael Barzalona, and he should give a good account.

Beyond runs for David Pipe's stable (second in 2010), and this chap will likely track the pace and stay on. His trip over hurdles is three miles, so there won't be any stamina doubts and, with his run style and proven stamina, he might be able to improve on last year's fourth place.

Seaside Sizzler was second in this in 2011 and sixth last year, and is weighted to again run well. A third place in the Queen Alexandra Stakes will have put him spot on and he deserves to find an elusive second turf win.

There is one at the bottom that is super-interesting, but may be 'gone'. Ermyn Lodge was good enough to finish second in the 2011 Cesarewitch, but has been stuffed out of sight ever since. Wily connections might have been managing this fellow's handicap mark and, if they have, they'll be delighted that the handicapper has dropped him down to a three year low of 79. He stays this trip, and has the game to contend IF he's 'off' and not 'gone'...

Selection: Lieutenant Miller
Each way alternative: Gassin Gulf

Best Bookie Offers: Both SkyBet and RaceBets are paying 1/4 odds on the first FIVE places. Paddy and Boyles are offering money back as cash if your horse finishes second. BetVictor will refund losing bets as a free bet if you're second.

Placepot Picks

A - 1, 5, 6
B - 4, 8, 12


Seven runners go to post for this traditional trial for the St Leger, and they're headed by Charlie Appleby's Irish Derby fourth, Cap O'Rushes. Appleby is the new boss at Moulton Paddocks, former home of Mahmood al Zarooni, and he'll be keen to put his own stamp on things with a few decent winners in these early days. Indeed, he recorded his first winner on Sunday on only his second day sending out runners, so he's off the mark already. Let's have a quick look at the trends first though.

Gordon Stakes Trends

15 of the last 17 (dead heat back in 1998) winners were placed 1-2-3 last time out

10 of the 13 winners to have a rating in that time were scored at least 102, and as high as 118

14 of the last 17 winners ran between 16 and 60 days ago

Trends shortlist: Excess Knowledge

Gordon Stakes Preview

Cap O'Rushes is the highest rated in the field, and has been staying on in his races suggesting he wants further than this mile and a half trip. I think he might be a St Leger sort but I'm not convinced this race will set up to his strengths.

Elkaayed is one of three colts rated four pounds behind Cap O'Rushes on 106. He was outpaced a little over a mile and a quarter last time, and I'd be far from certain on breeding that this extra two poles is what he wants. Excess Knowledge on the other hand looks made for middle to staying distances, being by Monsun out of a Dansili mare.

This will be only his fifth start, and he was screaming for further last time. This could well be Johnny G's Leger colt, and his record in that race is excellent (three winners in the last six years). He's a 16/1 shot for the St Leger currently, and that is sure to halve if he wins here. I've had a little nibble as I think he's the most likely winner of the Gordon. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The third 106 musketeer is the other Godolphin runner, Secret Number, trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Let the blue brigade battle begin! Secret Number looks like a step up in trip will suit, but it could be that he's just not quite good enough to win at Group level. Three comrehensive defeats would imply that squarely enough, in my view. Not for me.

The same comment is probably true of Havana Beat, though he was a little unlucky not to win last time over a furlong further. Again, I don't think this trip will show him in his best light and, while he might win a staying Group race, it's unlikely to be the St Leger.

Testudo is well regarded in the Meehan stable, and he's a very progressive horse. He was fractions behind Havana Beat in the Bahrain Trophy last time, and there shouldn't be too much between them again. If anything, Testudo might have slightly more scope to progress, and he ought not to mind a drop of rain either. If there were eight runners, he'd have been a reasonable each way play. But there aren't. So he's not!

Selection: Excess Knowledge

Best Bookie Offers: Money back as a free bet with BetVictor if your horse finishes second

Placepot Picks

Your first 30 days for just £1

A - 3


And so to the Duel On The Downs. Part Two. Except that, with Declaration Of War joining Toronado and Dawn Approach here, it might have more accurately been called the... erm... Menage a Trois on the Wedneday... or something.

Sussex Stakes Trends

All of the last sixteen winners placed first or second last time out (eleven winners, five second places)

Nine of those sixteen were 3yo's; four were 4yo's; and, two were aged five. Four year old's have the weakest win and place percentage within this range.

Trends shortlist: Dawn Approach, Toronado, Declaration Of War

Sussex Stakes Form Preview

This is a very good race, as you'd expect. Dawn Approach shades favouritism, after recording two verdicts over Toronado. The first of those verdicts was clear cut, in the 2000 Guineas; the second was marginal, in the St James's Palace Stakes.

Given Toronado's home reputation, his Guineas run was too bad to be true, in the same way that Dawn Approach's Derby run was. Forgive a horse a bad run, the old adage goes, and both of these have justified punters' absolution by running hum-dingers to be separated by a short head that last day.

Of the pair, Toronado arguably has more progression, with just six runs to his name, versus nine for Dawn Approach. But Dawn Approach showed a serious winning attitude when refusing to be beaten at Ascot. This one can be over-thought: the fact is there won't be much between them if they both bring their A games and, as such, if a bet must be struck, it must be struck on the bigger priced of the pair.

But that ignores the big blue elephant in the room. Declaration Of War is a very good miler. He won the Queen Anne Stakes over that trip the day before Dawn and Toro locked hooves at Royal Ascot. I wasn't convinced he truly stayed a mile and a quarter in Group 1 company last time, and I thought he 'hung tough' in the circumstances to get placed.

Back at his optimal - at least, what I perceive to be his optimal - he has very little to find on the book. Yes, he's giving his youngers eight pounds here. But if you subscribe to the weight-for-age scale, which has been shown to be generally accurate down the years, then that's fair enough. That would give DoW three pounds to find. He's only had nine career starts himself, so is hardly incapable of further development. And we know he won't mind what the ground is, a comment which doesn't apply equally to his key market rivals.

Again, if there were eight of them, he'd be an each way bet to nothing. But there aren't. So he's not!

This is a race to watch, rather than wager.

Selection: no bet

Best Bookie Offers: Money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second to Toronado with totesport

Placepot Picks

A - 5
B - 7


A seven furlong Group 2 for juveniles, this has been won by Richard Hannon for the last three years, and he is two-handed in the bid for a four-timer.

Vintage Stakes Trends

Twelve of the last sixteen winners also won last time out. Three more were second last time

All sixteen winners had had one, two or three prior starts

Trends shortlist: Expert, Outstrip, Parbold, Toormore

Vintage Stakes Form Preview

Toormore is a short price here on the basis of his neck defeat of Ertijaal on debut. There have been plenty of winners from that race so far, including second placed Ertijaal, and that form is solid. The one slight worry is that Toormore has been off the track for 64 days, which implies he might have had an issue. Nevertheless, he comes here unbeaten and the pick of Richard Hughes, who could also have ridden Expert.

Expert is a thrice-raced son of Mastercraftsman, and he's already won over this seven furlong trip, taking a nice Newmarket maiden just last Saturday. I'm not sure if this race might come a bit quick for him, or even if he'd be good enough, but he will stay and - judging by the breeding on the dam side - he ought to be effective with any cut in the ground too.

Parbold is the market rival of Toormore, after a clear second best performance behind the dazzling War Command in the Coventry. That's the standout piece of form on offer here, and he can improve markedly from second to third start. On breeding at least, the trip might be far enough for now, though of course it's better to let a horse demonstrate it can or cannot cope with further before writing it off.

Outstrip, like Toormore, is a once-raced winner, and he bagged a Newmarket maiden from True Story, subsequent conqueror of Expert, over seven. Outstrip was slowly away that day, and was doing plenty of good stuff at the business end. He'll be a fair bit sharper here, and I think he's fairly priced at around 5/1. At the prices, he might be the best value, though I'm unlikely to get involved in this race.

Lanark is more experienced than most here, with five starts already to his name, including wins at six and seven furlongs, and on good to firm and good to soft ground. Although six lengths behind Parbold in the Coventry, he's improved a bit since then. But he doesn't have the scope of some of these, and it would be a little disappointing if he was able to see them all off, despite his toughness.

Recanted was extremely disappointing the last day, albeit in a Group 2, and it is far from impossible that he could bounce back. If he did, he'd be a danger. Fairly big 'if' though.

Value selection: Outstrip

Best bookie offer: Money back as a free bet with BetVictor if your horse finishes second

Placepot Picks

A - 4
B - 3


A six furlong fillies' maiden changes the tempo somewhat, and it hasn't been a race to catch the eye in previous years especially. Brian Meehan has had two winners since 2007, and he's got the unraced Fashion Fund this time. Unlike in Tuesday's maiden, four winners in the past decade were unraced, so Fashion Fund might be worthy of a market check at the very least.

Those with experience are headed up by the Hannon/Hughes rep, Autumn Surprise. She again ran second - and again ran with great promise - in a Newbury maiden twelve days ago. But Hannon hasn't won this in the last ten years, and his losing tally is at fourteen during that time. Autumn Surprise was beaten that last day by J Wonder, an unraced filly from the same owner/trainer as Fashion Fund, so the team will know what they need to do here, and the market should guide.

Valonia was a huge price when just failing on her first run three weeks ago. She'll not be showing at such generous odds this time, but is a serious player granted normal improvement.

Aqlaam Vision and Much Promise may also go close, but the other one to catch my eye is Jeremy Noseda's Merletta. This lass was slowly away, and green as purest green, on her first run. Like many Noseda horses, she can be expected to leave that form well behind on this second start, and that might be enough to win. Alas, she's now a non-runner.

It's not a race to bet in especially, but I'll be interested in a market scan of Merletta (non-runner) and Fashion Fund, both of which might be nice fillies.

Tentative selection: Fashion Fund

Best Bookie Offer: Money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second (BetVictor)

Placepot Picks

A - 3, 14
B - 6, 9


The sixth leg of the placepot is a nine furlong handicap, where it might pay to be close to - but not on - the pace and low drawn. Jabhaat might have been an ideal candidate were it not for the splish splash splosh of a billion raindrops across the course in the last 48 hours, meaning her predilection for tarmac-like conditions is unlikely to be sated.

The one which looks like being best suited by conditions might be Eastern Destiny. She's run two very nice races on good to soft recently, both of them in higher class than this. She races close to the pace, and while stall nine isn't perfect, it's not terrible either; and she's pretty consistent. George Challoner takes five pounds off which mitigates to some degree the nine pounds weight for age she concedes to the three year olds. She's won off 81, has improved since then and is effectively racing off 84 here. Definite chance.

Great Timing for the Charlie Appleby yard may also race close to the pace from trap seven, behind likely leader, Saucy Minx. Great Timing has raced only on a sound surface so far, and breeding doesn't give that much hope that softer will suit. But she's yet to disappoint on such turf, so she can't be discounted. Saucy Minx herself has won here over seven good to soft furlongs, and she's bred to be suited by both soggy underfoot and a longer trip. With plenty floundering on the ground, she might make a bold bid from the front, if she get across from stall eleven.

Selection: Eastern Destiny
Alternative: Great Timing

Best Bookie Offer: Money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second (BetVictor)

Placepot Picks

A - 3, 4


Another impossible handicap to close the card, this time over seven furlongs. A low draw is again a useful attribute, and luck in running will obviously also play its part in a field of twenty.

My Kingdom sneaks in here off near bottom weight, and he's back to something close to his best just now. Barzalona has been booked, and a prominent showing from his trap six draw looks on the cards. He's got loads of track form, including two wins at this trip and, though he wouldn't want it too soft, good to soft will be just dandy.

The horse with the best - indeed, pretty much the only - soft ground form in the field is Esprit de Midas, for the hot Dean Ivory yard. This chap is well drawn in box three as well and, though he'll need luck in running, will be favoured by conditions if it pelts down again. Of course, if it doesn't, he probably has no chance!

In a race where getting too financially involved is a reasonable indicator that you've been at the Pimm's all afternoon, I'll take those two for pennies against the field.

Pennies against the field: My Kingdom, Esprit De Midas

Best Bookie Offer: Money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second (BetVictor, totesport)


Placepot perm

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Just A's - 3 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 2 x 2 = 12 bets

All picks - 6 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 192 bets

Ticket builder optimized perm - see below.

Glorious Goodwood Picks

Glorious Goodwood Picks

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Glorious Goodwood Day Three (Thursday) Preview, Tips

It's the middle day of Glorious Goodwood's five day fiesta, and that means it's Goodwood Cup day. That showpiece shares the card with six other good races, starting with the...

2.15 GORDON´S STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2) 

This is a ten furlong three-year-old only handicap, and it's been an excellent race for punters, with five favourites winning and all ten winners returning 9/1 or shorter. John Gosden has won three of those ten but is unrepresented this year, but Mark Johnston does saddle runners as he bids to match Johnny G's triple in the race.

His brace - Broughton and Mushaakis - are both seriously match fit, with five and six seasonal runs respectively. They'll both race off the same mark here too - 86 - which is lower than any runner in the last decade has won this with. Indeed, all ten winners were rated 91-99, so that's probably a sensible range in which to focus.

Red Avenger looks to have a strong chance if the ground is good or better. He beat Broughton in a three runner affair the time before last, and found only the Group class (I suspect) Maputo too good last time. True, he was beaten six lengths by that fellow, but he was given a fairly exaggerated waiting ride, and the bird had well and truly migrated for sunnier climes by the time the Avenger got going.

I imagine Red Avenger will get more prominent support from Ryan Moore this time, and I think he'll make the frame. At least, I hope he will.

Code Of Honor is also in the right part of the handicap and improved a fair whack when upped to this trip last time. He's won on soft before, though I'm not sure he'd want it that way, and he's a big player on the evidence of that three length duffing up of Mushaakis, especially given they race on the same weight terms here.

Cruck Realta was good enough to win a Listed race over this trip three starts back, and she's been in the frame on nine of her twelve career starts, testament to her consistency. But she may have just slipped off the boil a tad in her last two runs where she's only managed to beat one of twelve rivals home. True, one of those races was a Group 1, but the other was 'only' Listed class. I'd expect her to run well enough without winning.

Alan Jarvis is a trainer for whom I have a lot of respect, and chooses his Glorious Goodwood runners selectively. It is of note then that King George River gets the call up in this handicap, having run with a degree of merit in Listed and Group 2 class in his prior two starts. Although that Group 2 run was below the level of his previously progressive profile, it's perfectly plausible that he was simply 'worried out of it' by much better nags that day. On his second to French Derby winner, Intello - with 2000 Guineas second, Glory Awaits, behind - he'd have an exceptional chance.

Of course, it'd be dangerous to take that piece of form too literally, but it certainly puts him in the picture for this Class 2 handicap, despite the lead he'll inevitably have to lug. Kieren Fallon is an eye-catching booking too.

Right up at the top of the handicap, Tha'ir might have a lot to do after taking his time to pass Sennockian Star (himself a winner before and since).

Selection: Red Avenger
Each way alternative: King George River

Placepot Picks

A - 2, 3, 4


This is a very good race, won by the likes of Dick Turpin and Libranno in recent years. Both of those two were trained by Richard Hannon, and only Mark Johnston's Heavy Metal stopped Hannon from notching an incredible five-timer in the Richmond last year.

The trends for the race are inconclusive in the main, but one which does stand out is that six of the last sixteen winners had yet to win at six furlongs, but no winner had won more than one race at a shorter trip.

Hannon runs what is presumably one of his best juveniles here in the shape of Thunder Strike. This fellow had been impressive in rattling in a four week hat-trick, culminating in a Listed success in the Woodcate Stakes at Epsom. He then ran up to par when fourth in the Coventry, but his last effort - an eight length clunker behind Miracle Of Medinah - is hard to explain.

Forgive a horse one bad run goes the cliché and I'm happy enough to do that, given Hannon's phenomenal record in this race. Thunder Strike has shown that undulating tracks hold no fears with that Woodcote win, and on either of his previous two runs he'd have a sound chance. He has, though, won twice at five furlongs, suggesting he might not quite see this six out as well as some of his rivals.

Miracle Of Medinah may represent unfashionable connections, but Mark Usher's Milk It Mick colt didn't fluke that Rose Bowl Stakes win, and was completing a hat-trick in the process. He's shown a bit more in each of his five starts, and who is to say that he has no more improvement to come?

Of the more lightly raced entries, Figure Of Speech is a contender based on a neck second in the Group 2 July Stakes on only his second career start. He had Jallota just behind that day, but is capable of far more progression than the third there. I'd be surprised if he doesn't confirm that form. Brown Sugar was further back still - probably didn't give his running - and he won the Group 3 Molecomb on Tuesday.

Of the bigger priced horses, Andhesontherun looks mildly interesting. He'd looked in need of this extra furlong when getting a bit outpaced in the both the Listed National and Windsor Castle Stakes over five. Upped to six for the first time the last day, he was galloping away from his three rivals at the line. I'm not saying he'll win this, but he could give a run for small money at a big price.

Selection: Figure Of Speech
Each way speculative: Andhesontherun

Placepot Picks

A - 5


The big race of the day and, for some traditionalists, the week. It's a Group 2 run over two miles.

Goodwood Cup Trends

13 of the last 16 winners finished 1-2-3 last time out

Winners have been spread from four to ten years old

11 of the 13 with an official rating were rated 109+. Nine were rated 114+

Eight favourites and three second favourites have won in the last sixteen years

12 of the last 16 winners ran 31-60 days ago

[thanks to horseracebase.com for the above]

Trends shortlist: Brown Panther

Goodwood Cup Form Preview

Godolphin, Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O'Brien have each won this twice in the last eight years and, this year, only Godolphin is represented. Indeed, the boys in blue are triple-handed, with Ahzeemah, Cavalryman and Colour Vision.

Let's start with Colour Vision, third in this last year. Good enough to win the Gold Cup at Ascot last year - and finish fourth in it this year - he's got a strong chance on the form book as long as the word 'good' appears somewhere in the going description. He should be ridden positively, and Silvestre de Sousa is his regular pilot (since Frankie's departure at least).

Cavalryman is the old servant in the trio, and this is his trip, class and ground. 10/1 or thereabouts seems fair in that context, especially given he's the second highest rated horse in the field.

Ahzeemah is a very consistent type, having been placed first or second in his last eight starts. That sequence includes two Group 3's and a Group 2, as well as a run over this two mile trip, when second to Cavalryman at Meydan. He's never been out of the first four in fifteen career starts and that run could be extended here without him being quite able enough to beat all.

The highest rated is the enigmatic (read, hard to predict/unreliable/expensive) Mount Athos. You may detect a hint of disdain in my tone there, and you'd be right. In a nutshell, I always get him wrong. He's won plenty - eight in fact - including two Group 3's at 1m5f. Not only that, but he was fifth in the Melbourne Cup last year over this trip.

He is clearly a capable animal, and the balance of his form - in fairness - is good enough to win this. But he hasn't won over this far, despite running well at similar distances multiple times; and he hasn't won in this grade, despite a couple of decent efforts in similar class.

And that, I think, is the rub. He's just a bit over-rated. Sure, he might win this. But for my money there are a number of others with similar - perhaps more - compelling cases, and at multiples of his circa 7/2 odds.

Two of them, both rated 113, are Brown Panther and Glen's Diamond. The latter has been under-rated, given that he's won a Group 3 and a Group 2. He has had a couple of cracks at two miles in pattern class and fallen a drop short both times, which is a concern, and he might just be better at a quarter mile shorter.

Brown Panther on the other hand looks to have a good chance. The sole trends pick, the Panther seems effective on all ground; and has run some good races in Group 1 company at shorter. But he was disappointing on his only previous try at the trip, albeit on heavy ground in France.

He's definitely worth another try at sixteen furlongs, but I do have a reservation about his stamina. That aside, he looks to have a decent squeak.

One which has no such trip tribulations is Caucus for Johnny G. This chap has done well since stepping up to Cup races and has won a couple of Listed contests in recent runs. The problem for him, though, is the grade, which is a couple of notches above what he's been winning in. He has been progressing gradually, but it would take a slightly lacklustre effort from four or five of his rivals to see this one prevail. That seems unlikely.

The conundrum is Saddler's Rock. He won this last year, to conclude a fine run of form that included an Ascot Gold Cup third, and a Doncaster Cup success. But... he's been out of form pretty much ever since. That's a run of seven races without making the frame, and it's just too much of a leap of faith to expect him to come right back to his best.

More interesting than him is the German raider, Altano, who flew for fifth in the Gold Cup when given way too much to do. Presumably his rider will have learned something from that, and based on four Group 3 wins at the distance, all on good ground, he will have a decent chance at around 12/1.

In summary, there are quite a lot in here that don't look quite good enough for one reason or another. The ones on my shortlist are Colour Vision, Cavalryman, and Altano and, at the prices, I think I'll side with the last named.

Value pick: Altano
Dangers: Colour Vision, Cavalryman

Placepot Picks

A - 2, 6, 7

3.45 Lillie Langtry Stakes (Group 3)

A newish race, established in 2003, and with a couple of strong trends to perhaps help to highlight a winning chance.

Lillie Langtry Stakes Trends

Nine of the ten winners to date finished first or second last time out. 19 of the 26 win and place positions were also claimed by horses finishing 1-2 last time out.

Four and five year olds have the best record, with eight wins from 56 runs (14%). Three year olds have two wins from 27 runs (7%)

Nine of the ten winners had yet to win at the distance, though they comprised the majority of the runners too. Indeed, eight of the fifteen runners to have at least one distance win claimed at least a place in this.

Trends shortlist: Miss Cap Estel, Souviens Toi, Wild Coco

Lillie Langtry Stakes Form Preview

The obvious starting point is with Wild Coco, last year's winner. She hasn't run for 322 days, which in normal circumstances might be considered a negative. In Wild Coco's case, however, she was absent for 349 days before winning last year! She is effective on any ground with the word 'good' in the going description and, as a lightly raced 5yo, she must have every chance again. She's a fairly short price to do that, but she deserves to be, as there are no concerns about conditions and she's rated eight pounds-plus superior to everything else in the contest.

The filly she beat into second last year, Jehannedarc, re-opposes here, and she again has place prospects. The problem with her is that she's hard to win with. Indeed, just two victories from 17 starts is hardly Group class form. Her frailties are brought into stark clarity when we note that she has been second twice and third no less than five times in that string of runs.

Although Jehannedarc has been second on both her runs at this track, in Listed and Group 3 class, I'm going to look for something else to take silver this time.

Sir Michael Stoute's Elik is the second market choice, but this lass is a three-year-old and I'm not certain she needs this step up in trip yet. She does have a course win here, over ten furlongs, so we know she'll handle the track, but she may not be best suited by ground on the soft side of good. On balance, those are enough reasons to look elsewhere, especially when 5/2 is about the pick of the available prices.

Former Italian race mare, Souviens Toi, makes more appeal. Although she's yet to win in three UK starts, she's been close up over a mile and a half behind proven pattern class older horses, Khione, Moment In Time, and Brown Panther. In her case, I think a bit further looks ideal, and she will go very close to the places in my view. The fact that she doesn't mind how the ground plays, as long as it's not firm, is another plus.

Of the bigger prices, trends shortlist filly, Miss Cap Estel is stepping up out of handicap class for the first time. It's worth noting that four of the ten winners of this race ran in handicap company last time out, and three winners - like Miss Cap Estel - were rated in the mid-80's. We'll see worse 33/1 shots this week. I've had a nibble each way.

Selection: Wild Coco 5/4
Big priced each way tickle: Miss Cap Estel 33/1

Placepot Picks

A - 6


I obviously don't have much of an idea in here, with fourteen of the nineteen runners yet to have performed in public. Of those with form, Amazing Maria sets the standard, but it's debatable whether that standard is good enough to win, or even place, here.

Ejadah pulled too hard on her debut over this seven furlong trip at Newmarket, and was slightly impeded in her run too. It was a decent first spin, and she gets the hood applied for the first time here. That combination of beneficial headgear and experience, allied to the prospect of a slightly better pace in this big field, gives her a squeak.

With so many unraced contenders, there's a decent chance that we see the first debut winner since 2003 and, if that's to be the case, then the usual suspects will be in pole position.

Richard Hannon saddles both Remember (Hughes) and Angleterre (Dobbs), and both are bred to be above average. And Cayman Cry represents Brian Meehan, who is having a terrific season. And Sir Michael Stoute introduces Radiator, who could run hot or cold (geddit?!).

A market check is required here, and that will be factored into my placepot picks.

Selection: no bet

Placepot Picks

A - 2, 7, 15
B - 3, 5, 13

4.50 TATLER STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2)

Like the mag whose name it takes, this is a high class handicap, over seven furlongs. Andrew Balding has won this twice in the last five years with horses sneaking in towards the bottom of the handicap, and he looks to be planning a similar assault this time with the unexposed Melvin The Grate.

This fellow had been running well at seven furlongs in his first four starts. In fact, a debut second was followed by two wins on the all weather, and a third place when running way too freely. Then, stepped up to a mile and back on turf for the first time since his debut, he ran a clunker. He's been off since that run - in mid-May - and, if that which was ailing him has been resolved, he has the look of a bit of a plot. A draw in 13 is less than ideal, however.

A couple with much more obvious form claims, and more weight as a consequence, are Pythagorean and Homage.

The former, trained by Roger Charlton, has yet to finish out of the first four (seven of eight runs in the first three) and he was unlucky not to win over this range the last day. All eight of his runs have been at seven furlongs, including a second place here last September, on soft ground. He seems sure to give his running once more.

Homage is improving fast, and ran his best race when just touched off behind Ashaadd at Sandown last time. He's been given time off since then and can be expected to have improved during that intermission. On the downside, he too may be compromised by a very wide draw.

Regal Dan is another compromised by the draw, but otherwise is interesting with Ryan Moore booked. Better drawn, in six, and with the pace to take advantage of it, is Shafaani. This lass ran in the nursery here last year and, though only seventh there, was beaten just a length and a quarter in a blanket finish. She's likely to make a bold bid from the front and, at a price, could be worth a small interest.

Czech It Out, from stall four, is also drawn to run on the pace, and this thrice raced son of Oratorio has the best man for the job - Joe Fanning - on board. Amanda Perrett loves a winner here and she has a chance in this.

And Kyllachy Rise has been well managed since winning his maiden. A fine run in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot was followed by a decent effort at Sandown behind a couple of these last time. But he's now back down to a mark of 82, and Jimmy Quinn will give him every chance if he's close/good enough.

As you can tell, it's wide open. If pushed to bet - and I won't be! - I'd side with those drawn low, and would be most interested in Czech It Out and Kyllachy Rise.

Token selection: Kyllachy Rise

Placepot Picks

A - 4, 13, 14
B - 5, 10, 15


We close with a big field apprentice handicap over nine furlongs. Ideally, we're looking for a (relatively) experienced jockey, who sit close to the pace, and quicken from the two pole. Oh, and a horse that will allow him/her to do that!

Maverik may be the answer in that context. Patrick Hills is one of the leading apprentices, and isn't able to claim here. He's drawn three which will suit the pace-pressing style of his mount. Granted sensible fractions, he could go close. As a bonus, he's won over this specialist nine furlong track, and that at Epsom, a similarly undulating and quirky course.

Copperwood runs again for Mark Johnston, after failing to get close to the pace on Wednesday. This time, he should get on the speed, and his jockey - Michael J M Murphy - is one of the better pilots (won this for Johnston last year). He too is a former Epsom nine furlong winner.

At the other end of the spectrum, Benzanno is drawn 18 and is a hold up type. Should they go too fast early - and there's a pretty good chance of that - he'll get the perfect tow into the race, and will be flying down the outside under the excellent Thomas Brown. Andrew Balding's horses have been just under-performing a little compared to their normal high summer zip, and that could change at any moment.

Finally, I have to mention Shelly Birkett, daughter of Julia Feilden, who is riding brilliantly this season. She's atop the difficult Silver Alliance, and has already won on him three times this year. A victory here would be something for all the family to savour, and would be a welcome fillip for part-owner and long-time supporter of Julia, Dick Creese. Get well soon, Dick.

I won't be getting too carried away here, but at least some of those four should get into the mix.

A couple each way against the field: Maverik, Benzanno


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Glorious Goodwood Friday Placepot

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Glorious Goodwood Day Four (Friday) Preview, Tips

I will be arriving in France as they jump off for the first race on Day Four of Glorious Goodwood, so this is written in advance (as will be Saturday's preview). Should the rain come down, or the sun bake the track, please keep that in mind as these comments are based on a good to soft track. We start with a glorious race...

1.55 GLORIOUS STAKES (Group 3)

This mile and a half Group 3 is for older horses only, and has been a race in which Luca Cumani has enjoyed particular success. Alas, he's not represented this time, so we'll need to dig deeper than merely the trainer column on the race card (as if we'd ever base an opinion on such a flimsy case!!!)

Glorious Stakes Trends

Although five last time out winners have taken this in the last sixteen years, that means that eleven horses were beaten the last day. Indeed, eight were not even in the first three.

Six year olds have the best wins to runs ratio in that time, claiming five wins from just twenty runners, and another three places to boot. Four year olds have the best record in number of winner terms, with a haul of nine wins and 25 places, albeit from the lion's share of the runners. For some reason, and I suspect it's a statistical anomaly, five year olds have a weak record. No horse older than six has even placed since 1997.

Fifteen of the last sixteen winners had run within two months of turning up here, something which two notable members of the field this time cannot boast.

Trends shortlist: Lost In The Moment

Glorious Stakes Form Preview

Lost In The Moment, the trends pick, is a reasonable place to start. He's found it hard to win since his first full season - just two wins since, on the first run of his second full season, and last time out - and that's a bit of a worry. That last time out win was in Listed class over this trip in a field of four. It's hard to be confident of him repeating the feat here, and in any case, his trainer Saeed bin Suroor's record in this race has been lamentable since Mamool took the spoils in 2005.

But what of the oppo? Well, we have the eight year old, Forgotten Voice, so impressive at Royal Ascot when running away with the Wolferton Handicap. That was over ten furlongs, and he's won good races over hurdles too, but will he stay this trip on the flat against Group-class rivals? I don't know, is the honest answer, and at eight years young, I'm not especially disposed to put my cash down to find out.

Mijhaar is the sole entry for the Five Year Old Club and, if you ignore a sub-par run last time, he has a chance. It's fairly easy to excuse that run, which was over further and on faster than he's ever raced before. He probably didn't stay and he probably didn't like the ground.

Back to a mile and a half on a fairly easy surface, he'll try to make all, I think. And in a race where there are knocks against most, he's got a chance to do that.

The four year olds are up against it on ratings, ostensibly at least, but that hasn't stopped five of the last sixteen renewals being claimed by a horse rated 105 or less. Sheikhzayedroad has progressed well this term, and was a bit unlucky not to catch Forgotten Voice the last day. Before that, over this distance, he was way too good for a field of decent handicappers at Epsom, and he'll be swooping late again here.

Montaser likes small fields but is surely better over further these days. I'd be surprised if at least a couple of these didn't have too much speed for him. If it was to become attritional then his stamina would kick in, but with just Mijhaar likely to go on, I don't see that happening.

And then we have the long-time absentees, Masterstroke and Aiken. They're the top rated pair in the field, and both have Group 2 wins to their name. But they've been off the track for a long time. Why? Masterstroke was actually third in the Arc last year, a piece of form which would make him head and shoulders above these if he'd had a run this term. It's quite possible he's being readied for an Autumn - or perhaps even winter - campaign in Europe and then Asia. If that's the case, he'll come on plenty for this seasonal bow, and I hope he's well backed because he'll make the market for anything else we fancy.

Aiken was tried at Cup distances at the end of last year, which implies he might be short of a bit of pace. He's a likable sort, with a winning habit, but he too may just be sharper after this run than during it.

A trappy old race, and I'll take a chance with Mijhaar, who should get the run of things up front, and could stay there. Sheikhzayedroad might make the jump to Group class and is a danger, amongst many dangers.

Selection: Mijhaar
Danger: Sheikhzayedroad

Placepot Picks

A - 5, 7
B - 1, 4


The Thoroughbred Stakes is next, a mile Group 3. There are absolutely no meaningful trends here, expect to note that Messrs. Hannon, Meehan and Johnston have each won it twice in the last nine years. Johnston is unrepresented, but Hannon has two - Baltic Knight and Montiridge - and Meehan has one, Whipper's Boy.

Montiridge offers the best form, courtesy of his head second in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. While that was over seven furlongs, he's got plenty of winning form at a mile and is bred for the trip too. Without revealing my hand too soon, I think he'll win.

The top rated is Glory Awaits, the horse closest to Dawn Approach when he duffed up all-comers in the 2000 Guineas, beaten five lengths there. Although that looked a fluke at the time - he was a 150/1 chance after all - he has since run to within five and three quarter lengths of the same horse at Royal Ascot in the St James's Palace Stakes. Those are both good efforts, but Montiridge should have too many guns for him.

Most of the rest of this field have had a goodly number of goes already, and thus have limited to scope to improve dramatically, an act which in many cases their rating suggests they'd need to do. Baltic Knight has at least been maturing well, and the form of his last day Listed win has worked out reasonably well. Trip and ground should be fine and Ryan Moore has a first crack at this chap.

Tawhid also ran in the Jersey last time, finishing a length and a half behind Montiridge there. They've both skipped between seven and eight furlongs, but Tawhid doesn't seem to have progressed this year from a fine win in the Group 3 Horris Hill at the end of last season. I'd be a bit disappointed if he was good enough to nab this.

That leaves the lighest raced of these, Whipper's Boy. I'd not spend too long looking through his form if it wasn't for the fact that his trainer has a fine record in the race, his two winners coming from just four runners. This lad hasn't been seen since under-achieving in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last year. That's a long time to be off, though he'd previously comfortably accounted for Zanetto, now rated 107. If he's fit, he might run well at a decent price.

Selection: Montiridge
Interesting at a price: Whipper's Boy

Placepot Picks

A - 4

3.05 BETFRED MILE (Heritage Handicap) (CLASS 2)

A big field mile handicap, where draw and trends are strong. Allow me to evidence that...

Betfred Mile Trends

Eleven of the last sixteen winners have been drawn within five stalls of the rail; 14 were drawn nine or less boxes from the rail.

Thirteen of the last sixteen winners finished in the top five last time out, with four winning last time, and four more finishing second.

Fifteen of the last sixteen winners were aged three to five. Six year olds plus have won just once from 78 runners.

Trends shortlist: Cap Peron, Fire Ship

Betfred Mile Form Preview

Regular readers will know that in big handicaps, I'm normally happy to roll with the trends as far as possible, on the basis that wading through the form chance of 22 nags for a likelihood of no return is not my thing.

In that spirit, Fire Ship looks like a belting bet, and I've backed him at 16/1 already. Drawn seven, he likes to race prominently, and a mile on the soft side of good is perfect. Winning a Listed race five days beforehand is hardly a negative (three of the last sixteen winners had raced in the previous week), and he is a box-ticker among box-tickers.

Fire Ship has been in the frame in thirteen of his seventeen turf races, and trainer William Knight has an excellent record at the track.

The other trends horse, Cape Peron, is clearly very good. He is also unexposed, and could be a Group class colt. But... he'll need a minor miracle to get a run with his hold up style out of trap five. A similar comment applies to the talented Dance And Dance, who has the best of the draw, but doesn't have a run style to avail of it. The same comment applies to the well touted Stirring Ballad, good enough to win the Tatler Stakes at the meeting last year. She will need luck, and plenty of it.

Windhoek has been slightly disappointing since a win in the Listed Newmarket Stakes, albeit that he was contesting Group races for two of those three efforts. He's a prominent racer, and could easily return to form here for last year's winning connections.

The thing with so many hold up horses drawn low is that it does open the door ever so slightly to a higher drawn nag with tactical speed. If that holds true come race time, then Asatir comes into it from box eleven (assuming he doesn't fluff the start, as he can do). He might be one to bet in running after a furlong, even if you're taking a couple of points shorter. If he misses the break, save your shekels.

Even Johnny Murtagh won't be able to get Es Que Love home from stall 22. Pity, as he has a decent chance on the form book.

Selection: Fire Ship
Alternatives: Windhoek, Asatir

Placepot Picks

A - 9, 12, 14
B - 13, 18, 19


This is a big field five furlong Group 2 sprint, and it promises to be a cracking spectacle. The trends are fairly strong, as we'll see.

King George Stakes Trends

121 horses have been sent off 14/1 or bigger in the last sixteen years, and none have won. Just six made the frame from a possible 48 place positions.

3-6yo's have won fourteen of the last sixteen renewals, with the older two year bracket having the best wins to runs ratio.

Ten of the last sixteen winners finished 1-2-3-4 last time out.

Thirteen of the last sixteen winners ran in Listed class or better last time out.

Trends shortlist: Ladies Are Forever, Tickled Pink, Bettolle, Jwala, Bungle Inthejungle

King George Stakes Form Preview

Not a race that has provided many shocks down the years, in fact no winner has returned bigger than 11/1 since at least 1987 (couldn't find records before that!). I'm looking for a horse that is a confirmed speedball for this fast five furlong fling. And ideally, I want them to have winning form on both good and good to soft ground.

Those which fit the bill are Bungle Inthejungle, Jwala, Masamah, Moviesta, Smoothtalkinraskal, and Spirit Quartz.

Bungle Inthejungle and Jwala actually both fit the trends profile too, and I'm especially drawn to Bungle. He won the Molecomb here over the same distance at last year's Glorious Goodwood meeting, and closed out his juvenile season by beating Garswood in a soft ground Group 3. He's found life harder this term, but was only five lengths behind Sole Power in the Group 1 King's Stand at Royal Ascot, and again ran fairly well in the Coral Charge behind Tickled Pink, Kingsgate Native and Mince.

He had Duke Of Firenze and Spirit Quartz behind him that day, and a return to Goodwood might see a return to top form, although a draw in fifteen might need them to come down the middle rather than along the far rail.

Jwala dead heated in the closing sprint on this card last year, and she's improved a stone since then. Indeed, she followed up two second places in Listed dashes with a deserved win in the same class the last day. She's won on all goings with the word 'good' in them and will not be beaten by the ground. Her draw in six is a mild positive too, and she ought to run well.

Masamah is a speedball, and proved it by winning this two years ago. He has a very good draw in four to try to lead all the way and, though he's not getting any younger, he was good enough to outpace a big field of experienced handicappers last time. You'll get a great run for your money if you back this fellow. Neil Callan takes over from Jamie Spencer, who is claimed by his retained owner, Qatar Racing.

He's claimed for Spirit Quartz, like Jwala (and Kingsgate Native) trained by Robert Cowell, a man who specializes in sprinters. Spirit Quartz has run two clunkers in his last two runs, but prior to that had won a Group 2 - same grade as this - over in France. A draw in twelve is somewhat in no man's land, and on balance I'd be looking elsewhere.

The three-year-olds Moviesta and Smoothtalkinraskal are both stepping up from handicap company. The latter is drawn 18 and might be a horse destined to be 'unlucky', due to a combination of tough draws and a hold up style. He was beaten far enough in two tries at pattern company last year, but does deserve another try. It will be exciting to watch this one try to thread a path if you back him, but he's not for me.

Moviesta is rated 104, and has gone up 21 pounds so far this year. He's still upwardly mobile and with a nice low draw here, he should get involved.

One I haven't directly mentioned because I'm not sure the ground will be quick enough for him, or if he's young enough to win this, is Kingsgate Native. This old boy - eight now - has been a high class equine all right. He can boast two Group 1 wins, two Group 2 wins, and a Group 3 win on his CV, and his last Group 2 was as recently as May of this year. That was on firm ground, and if it dries out, he's going to have a fine chance again. He won this back in 2009, and was second in the Molecomb way back in 2007!

Selection: Masamah

Placepot Picks

A - 1, 8
B - 2, 12, 14


The murder scene for many a placepot of mine over the years, there's every chance that this year will be no different! You see, normally this race has ten or twelve or a maximum of fourteen runners. But, for some reason, this year there are 22 entries. TWENTY-TWO. Juvenile handicappers! I have never seen anything like it.

Since 2008, there have only been four 20+ runner 2yo handicaps, and the winning SP's were 28/1, 20/1, 16/1, 7/1. I don't know how to profile this and it's an absolute crap shoot as far as I'm concerned. Somehow, ideally without taking 19 picks, we have to get through the placepot too.

I've had a look at the 21 such races since 2003, and come up with a couple of things which may or may not help.

1. 15 of the 21 winners were returning to the track within 25 days

2. 14 of the 21 winners were in the top five last time out

3. 57% of the winners and 58% of the placed horses came from the top ten in the weights, a slight top heavy bias

4. Six of the last nine winners in such races had already finished top six in a field of 15+. Two more had placed in a field of fourteen.

So, in the absence of anything at all really, I'm looking for a recently raced, top ten in the weights, who was placed top five last time and has big field experience.

That gives me a shortlist of two: Yorkshire Relish and Major Crispies (though the latter has been off the track four days longer than ideal).

Yorkshire Relish actually looks a cracking sort for a race like this. He's won in a field of fourteen (albeit a very valuable Class 3 seller), and then he got mugged in his run over an inadequate five furlongs on the Weatherby's Super Sprint at Newbury. He was still good enough to claim seventh of 24 there and, back up to six furlongs and with Jamie Spencer on, he must have a chance in what will clearly be an open race.

Major Crispies ran behind Toormore on his debut - that one won the Vintage Stakes here on Wednesday - and then finished within half a length of the winner on both his subsequent starts, the first of which was a Class 2 maiden. This guaranteed fast pace will play to his strengths and he's a chance at a price no doubt.

Kevin Ryan, trainer of Yorkshire Relish, also runs Belayer, a debut winner who needed all of Beverley's stiff five to get up, and who looks sure to enjoy the extra yardage here. Richard Hannon has won this twice, and presumably Hughes is on the pick of them, Speed The Plough. He defaults into the placepot perm.

If he's a price, I might have talked myself into a little bet on Yorkshire Relish here!

Strangely confident each way selection: Yorkshire Relish

Placepot Picks

A - 7, 8, 10, 19
B - 11, 15

4.50 OAK TREE STAKES (Group 3) (Fillies & Mares)

A very strong trends and draw race is the Oak Tree Stakes, so we'll start there...

Oak Tree Stakes Trends

Ten of the last sixteen winners were drawn in the two stalls closest to the rails. Given that this is virtually always a double digit field, that looks material. No winner has won from more than ten stalls from the rail.

The place story is similar, with 26 of the 46 available places (57%) being claimed by horses within four boxes of the rails. 32 of the 46 placed horses were within six boxes of the rails (70%). A low draw is important.

Fourteen of the last sixteen winners were in the first five home last time out.

3yo's have won eleven of the last sixteen runners, but from most of the runners. The best wins-to-runs ratio is provided by four and five-year-olds.

Fourteen of the last sixteen winners were either top rated officially (two) or within ten pounds of top (ten).

Fourteen of the last sixteen winners were either unrated (two) or rated 98+ (twelve).

Trends shortlist: Winning Express

Oak Tree Stakes Form Preview

The shortlist is short! Let's start with Winning Express, fourth in the 1000 Guineas, and then an easy winner of a Listed race at Warwick. Basically, she's a seven furlong filly who ran to a very high level of form in both the Nell Gwyn (7f, third) and the Guineas (a mile, faded in the last half furlong, fourth). She showed her true colours when beating an admittedly weak field the last day with disdain.

This is her trip, she has shown Group 2 form in the Guineas, she is well drawn (especially given her prominent run style), and I think she'll win.

There is one higher rated horse - Shuruq - and one on the same mark of 107, Nargys. Shuruq is hard to weigh up in the context of a race like this, because her rating was achieved on the tapeta surface at Meydan in a Group 3 there, the UAE Oaks. Whilst tapeta is not a completely incomparable surface to turf, she has little grass form to weigh up. Indeed, she has just her debut effort in a very good six furlong Newmarket maiden, where she finished third. That was on soft, this likely won't be. It's just too much of a guess to back her, even from stall four and with her being a pace presser.

Nargys has been a bit in and out, but she was very much 'in' when fourth in the Listed Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot. She then flopped next time, when she was 'out', and frankly where my wallet's concerned, I'd not be wanting to shake it all about in support of her. (Please yourselves!)

But here's the thing with her: it's entirely possible her best trip is seven furlongs. She's run over that range four times, finishing second in good races thrice and disappointing when second choice in the Nell Gwyn. Just one win in eight starts, and trap nine to boot, mean she's not for me.

Agent Allison returns to seven furlongs, a trip she was good enough to run up to Maureen in the Fred Darling on her seasonal debut. Since then she's weakened badly twice at a mile. Back in trip here, and very well drawn, she could cruise into this with her hold up style. Jim Crowley does the steering here, and it's not hard to see a resurgence of form bringing her close to the frame. It is quite hard for me to see her beating Winning Express, though.

Pavlosk can be forgiven her fading effort behind Sky Lantern in the Coronation Stakes, a Group 1, last time; and she is still improving after just three runs. It says something of her level of ability that Sir Michael Stoute was happy enough to run her in such esteemed company so early in her racing life, and she'll almost certainly have more to offer during the rest of the season. But from stall eleven, she has it to do here.

The rest don't look good enough and/or are badly drawn.

Selection: Winning Express (NAP)

Placepot Picks

A - 13


we close Friday, as we close every day, with a nigh on impossible handicap (though not, in truth, as difficult as that nursery). This time it's a furlong shy of a mile and a half, and there are fifteen three-year-olds. At least each way punters know they'll not get paid on fourth without having to wait for the obligatory non-runner!

In eight runnings, it's been claimed by horses priced at 14/1, 16/1, and 25/1 twice, so I won't be screaming for a bet here. But we ought at least to have a gander...

Northern Meeting may be an unoriginal starting point, but he's likely to end up being a lot better than 77-rated. That's the mark he's been allotted after winning a Class 5 Carlisle maiden by five lengths last time. That run has already worked out better than the first race in which he ran, where no fewer than thirty starts have been accrued by runners there subsequently, and only Northern Meeting has managed to win!

Clearly, he needs to step up on what he's done. Equally clearly, he will. With a couple of exceptions, his rivals look somewhere between moderate and exposed, and he must go close with peerless Ryan Moore (I think I'll coin that as his new nickname on here) managing his resources.

Mark Johnston has a twice-raced last time out winner in here too, as does Lady Cecil. The Johnston colt is called Statutory, and he's having his third start in 24 days: a typical Middleham baptism of fire. It's impossible to know what to make of him, but connections are some of the best in the Glorious Goodwood business and the fact that he was their pick here - from a vast battalion - tells us something.

Lady Cecil runs the temptingly-named Retirement Plan, and she ran in one of the hottest maidens of the year at Newbury, behind Remote, Dare To Achieve, Bantam, Testudo, Asbaab and Aficionado (all winners since). She then won a much softer race, and one which hasn't worked out nearly so well. But she's (stunningly) bred to perhaps enjoy slightly easier ground than the good to firm there - by Monsun out of the excellent race mare, Passage Of Time - and she also may prove significantly better than her current mark of 88.

In its short tenure, this race has thrown up good winners like Eastern Aria and Sanbuch, and it's possible that either Retirement Plan or Northern Meeting can emulate them.

Selection: Northern Meeting
Alternative: Retirement Plan

Glorious Goodwood Friday Placepot perm

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Glorious Goodwood Friday Placepot Picks

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Galway Placepot Picks, 29th July 2013

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Last week was a bit of a write off for this column, and it's to be hoped that we return to form pronto with both Galway and Glorious Goodwood aforethought this week.

We'll warm up with a bit of Galway this evening, where there should be plenty of interest...

5.10 - Leg 1: The first thing to say is that Dermot Weld's horses place here almost 60% of the time and he's won this first race five times in the last nine years. In the three of the other four years he was represented, he had a placed horse. We'll take Diplomat to get us on our way and consider a cheap place lay, just in case of the dreaded EB (early bath).

A - 5  (Diplomat)

5.40 - Leg 2: If the first leg was (hopefully) straightforward, the second is a minefield, as a full complement of twenty will scrap this out. Making things even more interesting is the fact that the first reserve will probably be favourite if he runs...!

One thing which stands out here is the historical performance of the higher weighted horses. Specifically, since 2006, all winners carried at least 10-13. Most of the runners up also carried eleven stone plus. I was already interested in the chances of the top three horses, despite their prices, before noticing this.

Anshan Dreams has top weight, but his jockey takes five pounds off. He won here on similar ground last September, and will have been kept back for these. He's only five pounds higher this time, and will make a bold bid from the front. Liberty's Gift is another prominent racer weighted to go close. The ground and trip are fine and, again, the jockey takes some weight off his back.

Ted Dolly was good enough to beat Pique Sous last season, and returns to slower ground. That should be in his favour, but as a hold up horse, he might struggle to get a run. USA looks under-priced on the basis of three stuffed-out-of-sight efforts at this idiosyncratic track. He wouldn't be for me.

Wither Hills could be more interesting, especially with Davy Russell booked to ride. This fellow has been running well on quicker ground and slightly more give should suit. He ought to race close to the pace too, and looks a player.

I've yet to find one at a shorter price than 16/1 yet, which is a bit of a worry... and 20/1 Carlowsantana is not going to change that. He's got plenty of track form, including second in a big field here last year. At ten, he's not getting any younger, but two wins in his last five starts show he's no back number just yet.

Of the more fancied runners, Hurricane Ridge looks to have a good chance. Jessie Harrington's youngster is in good form, is weighted just above eleven stone, and has run with credit around here before. Regusci can't be ignored, simply because he might be ignored by plenty of people. He'll only run if there's a non-runner, but with twenty going to post, there's a fair chance of that.

A - 1 (Anshan Dreams), 6 (Hurricane Ridge), 12 (Wither Hills), 21 (Regusci)
B - 2 (Liberty's Gift), 13 (Carlowsantana)

6.10 - Leg  3: Just seven runners here, and it looks a two horse race. Dermot Weld runs his better flat maidens at the track, whereas Aidan O'Brien doesn't. That tips the balance in favour of the once raced Mustajeeb, who achieves banker status here.

A - 5 (Mustajeeb)

6.45 - Leg 4: Another big field handicap over two miles, this time on the flat. Dermot Weld has won this four times in the last six years, and he runs Notable Graduate. Not the most obvious form pick, he has at least run well at the track before and could be raced more prominently than usual to take advantage of a good draw.

There are plenty of course specialists in here, none more so perhaps than Shadow Eile, a winner of three of her four starts here, including two last year. She's just two pounds higher than when winning at the meeting last term, and could run well again. Cry For The Moon's course form in the last two years reads 222, and all were in big fields. He is a nice placepot type.

And Call Me Bubbles, from Willie Mullins' pair, looks to have sound chances too. Versatile with regards to ground, he's won here over a mile and a half and the step up has suited well in recent starts. Rossvoss is also one from one here and has been running well in competitive contests. He's trained by shrewdie Ted Walsh, and ridden by daughter, Katie. Trap one is a plus for a prominent showing, and the money for this one looks significant.

Takeyourcapoff may need luck in running, but he's got verdicts over plenty of these and could run into the frame for sure.

A - 4 (Shadow Eile), 6 (Call Me Bubbles), 8 (Notable Graduate)
B - 10 (Cry For The Moon), 16 (Takeyourcapoff), 18 (Rossvoss)

7.15 - Leg 5: Another handicap, this time over a shorter trip and you don't want to be too far from the front, or too far from the rail. Dermot Weld has saddled the favourite here five times in the last decade and has yet to even make the frame! That includes the last three jollies. As such, Peace Accord, a horse without an obvious form chance, and one which is badly drawn to boot, makes no appeal whatsoever, despite the chance that he's a good bit more able than he's thus far demonstrated.

Target Acquired is slightly better drawn and races prominently. He's a seven furlong specialist and looks set to run well. Rock On Coco is getting the hang of things, and is both well drawn and a prominent racer. With new wonder kid Connor King in the saddle, expect a bold bid from the front.

Strapless may have needed the run last time on her seasonal bow, and comes from the powerful Bolger yard.

A - 1 (Target Acquired), 7 (Strapless), 15 (Rock On Coco)

7.45 - Leg 6: Irish Bulletin returns to the track within 48 hours of his last run, a win over this mile and a half trip. He's been well backed to double up. The favourite, Pay Day Kitten, represents the Dermot Weld yard, and is on a hat-trick too. This is a race that has thrown up a few shocks over the years, so I'll take some B's as well.

Those B's will be the O'Brien pair, Great Explorer and Waver, both of which race prominently in a race that could turn into a sprint finish. While Melanippe doesn't make the ticket, she's an interesting one given the fine record of lower weighted horses in this race.

A - 1 (Pay Day Kitten), 8 (Irish Bulletin)
B - 2 (Great Explorer), 3 (Waver)

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Galway Placepot Picks

Galway Placepot Picks

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Ascot Placepot Picks, 27th July 2013

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It's been a frustrating week on the placepot front. All six jollies made the frame yesterday, and the pot paid £41, which was pretty good in the circumstances. That first race Stoute beast did for us though. Onwards, to some big fields at Ascot again.

2.05 - Leg 1: There are not generally too many surprises in this 6f Group 3 for 2yo's, and the favourite, Wind Fire, sets a good standard. Third to the machine, No Nay Never, he was only a head behind Coach House, and this extra furlong should suit as she's bred for middle distances. I think she's sure to run well and she's a banker in the first race. Please don't let it be another early bath this week. I'm clean as a whistle already!!

A - 10 (Wind Fire)

2.40 - Leg 2: If we got away with that, then we can spread out a bit over the next two races, as we may well need to. A few of these are taking this on en route to the Betfred Mile at Glorious Goodwood next week, and it's the hold up horse Cape Peron I like most (though I don't like him for his follow up race!)

With Mark Johnston's tough guy, Henrytheaviator, set to take them a long a good number of pace chasers, there should be an honest gallop here and that will suit Cape Peron perfectly, who looks primed for a late charge even with the burden of top weight.

Tarikhi is another doubly entered, and his prominent racing style should allow him first run on the fav. That second place at Royal Ascot implies he can make the frame here. On B, I'll take some chances: Fehaydi, Makafeh, and Machete Mark all have form to put them in the  mix in what is a wide open contest.

A - 1 (Cape Peron), 4 (Tarikhi)
B - 6 (Fehaydi), 7 (Makafeh), 10 (Machete Mark)

3.15 - Leg  3: It's the usual suspects here, specifically Bertiewhittle, Redvers, Compton, Es Que Love and Shamaal Nibraas. Big field seven furlong handicap form. It's not rocket science. 😉

And, because I'm a chicken, I'll add the unnamed favourite on B. Unheard of!

A - 8 (Es Que Love), 11 (Bertiewhittle), 13 (Redvers)
B - 9 (Shamaal Nibraas), 28 (Compton), FAV

3.50 - Leg 4: Cirrus Des Aigles is better than these, but I'm not sure he stays a truly run mile and a half. But he's better than these, and I'm not sure he doesn't stay a truly run mile and a half! Forget his last run: he's clearly been targeted at later season pots. Indeed, in six seasons of racing he's NEVER won first time out. He's a class act. Maybe the class act, and he's a cert for A.

It's just whether or not we take something with him. I think I'm going to chuck in Trading Leather, because a) he's got very good form (Irish Derby winner), and b) he looks suited by the pace, being a presser off what should be a strong gallop set by Universal and/or Ektihaam.

A - 1 (Cirrus Des Aigles)
B - 8 (Trading Leather)

4.25 - Leg 5: My word. A big field lady amateur riders' race. Karaka Jack is ridden by Miss A Deniel, a competent jockey who has won on the horse before. That counts for a lot. Capaill Liath bids to give Hayley Moore a hat-trick in the race and this course and distance winner must have been the choice of the jockey.

And Serena Brotherton rides Graphic, a decent horse with a decent jockey. They're my A trio.

On B, I'll roll with Red Seventy and See The Storm, both of which have won in recent starts at this trip.

A - 1 (Capaill Liath), 4 (Karaka Jack), 6 (Graphic)
B - 9 (Red Seventy), 12 (See The Storm)

5.00 - Leg 6: A race won by Toronado and Raven's Pass in recent years, so very much one to keep an eye on. It's tricky, with just seven runners, and perhaps Safety Check will get first run. But the prominent racing style of both Washaar and Emirates Flyer means they should be close enough if good enough. I'd imagine it's between that trio, and I'll take Emirates Flyer and Washaar.

A - 2 (Emirates Flyer), 6 (Washaar)

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Ascot placepot picks

Ascot placepot picks

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Ascot Placepot Picks, 26th July 2013

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Apologies for no placepot picks yesterday. I actually wasn't feeling 100%, and the racing did less than inspire me. In the circumstances, I thought it better to pass. Anyway, back at the helm today, we'll take in Day One of Ascot's three day King George meeting, which kicks off with a 'stab in the dark' kind of affair.

2.00 - Leg 1: Eighteen two year old fillies, most of them unraced and, like the police in The Two Ronnies gag where the station loos had all been nicked, we've got nothing to go on.

Actually, there is one piece of form from Heartstrings which merits inclusion on the ticket, on the basis that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Heartstrings ran second on her debut at Newbury over a furlong shorter than this seven-eighths contest. There have already been two winners from that race, run just three weeks ago, so the form looks at least fair.

Raajis missed the break there that day, and will appreciate this stiffer test as well, so could reverse form possibly.

Ralph Beckett's Full Day, though, ran over very similar conditions to these at Sandown (7f, good to firm) and was a tenderly handled third there. It may not have been the best race, but she showed a fair bit there and should come on for that.

Of the unraced mob, Sir Michael Stoute's filly, Psychometry, may be overbet. Sir Michael has just an 11.7% win strike rate with 2yo first starters (compared to 20.6% with all runners), and the place stats are little better: 31.6% place for juvie debutants against 45.9% overall. She can win or place, of course, but she's unlikely to be a value addition to our permutation.

Instead, I'll take Johnny G's Likelihood, and the well backed Dascombe newcomer, Crowley's Law.

A - 4 (Full Day), 16 (Raajis)
B - 2 (Crowley's Law), 8 (Likelihood)

2.35 - Leg 2: A seven runner nursery and, while 5/4 jolly Banaadeer has an obvious chance, the price is pretty poor in a race where they're all open to improvement and may or may not have given their best running to date... Stormy Paradise will have the services of Ryan Moore here, and returns to his winning distance off a fair looking mark, while Mr Matthews has been consistent and may have hit the front too soon last time in a fair bit higher grade.

A - 1 (Stormy Paradise), 2 (Mr Matthews), 5 (Banaadeer)

3.10 - Leg  3: This two mile handicap is unlikely to have an honest gallop, and that could find out both Highland Castle and Mawaqeet, a pair of hold up hosses that probably need a true run contest to show their best. I like them both, but I can't them today on that basis alone.

Mysterious Man will probably try to make all and, in such a short field, could do that. He led them into the last quarter of the two and a half mile Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting, and won't get hurried as he was there. Strong chance.

Homeric is another that might get tapped for toe off a tactical pace, but I trust Ryan Moore more than most not to get caught out.

The fly in the ointment could be Broxbourne, from the Johnston/Fanning axis. Not normally a front-runner, Fanning is feared whenever he bids for trap-to-line glory, such an excellent judge of pace is he, and on such fit horses.

A - 2 (Homeric), 4 (Mysterious Man)
B - 6 (Broxbourne)

3.45 - Leg 4: This is a good Listed race for fillies over a mile. The favourite, Ultrasonic, has had plenty of chances. She may again need luck in running, but has plenty of talent. She ought to make the frame and is included as a 'ballsy banker' and a fairly cheap place lay if things are looking interesting.

Annecdote is probably under-rated, despite ostensibly being poorly in with Auction. And Falls Of Lora and Zibelina represent the stronger two-thirds of the Godolphin triumvirate.

A - 5 (Ultrasonic)

4.20 - Leg 5: Despite just the four runners, a hard race to guess. Vasily is likely to go on, with favourite, Sennockian Star, close at hand. The remaining pair, Viewpoint and Tenure, will try to close. But I reckon the pace-pressing pair are best suited by class, distance and going and, though none has won off such a high handicap mark, they might fight out the finish.

Again, if things are looking 'fruity' in terms of the possible payoff, a cheeky win bet on the other two could cover expenses.

A - 1 (Vasily), 3 (Sennockian Star)

4.50 - Leg 6: There is still much work to be done, even though we're five-sixths of the way through the wager, as this five furlong handicap has seen money for plenty. Gladiatrix and Rowe Park are suited by conditions, and both have multiple verdicts over many of their oppo here in recent weeks and months.

Best Be Careful also ticks a lot of boxes, and should get a nice tow into things. At 18/1 with Stan James, and being nine pounds lower than when winning this last year, she's of some wagering interest. I've had a little each way nibble.

Rylee Mooch drops in class here and could get competitive too.

A - 1 (Gladiatrix), 4 (Rowe Park)
B - 5 (Rylee Mooch), 14 (Best Be Careful)

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Ascot placepot picks

Ascot placepot picks

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No placepot picks today

Geegeez Placepot

Geegeez Placepot

Apologies all, but due to unforeseen circumstances (and absolutely embarrassingly dreadfully poor racing), there will be no placepot today.

Normal service resumed tomorrow, though we would all be well served to keep powder generally dry for Glorious Goodwood next week...

Leicester Placepot Picks, 24th July 2013

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"I'm going to take a punt that it's softer than that. If I'm right about that, we can also expect a few non-runners to throw spanners in the works."

And so it was that the soft ground caused two non-runners in the previously nine horse second race. Banker selection, Junior Jack, finished third with only two places paying. One non-runner and that would have been fine. As it happened, I thought the placepot should have paid a good bit more as the results weren't all that easy to get, in my opinion. Anyway, it was no good, and we roll on.

Today, I'll be brutally honest: if I wasn't writing this piece, I wouldn't be even remotely tempted to open my wallet for a shocking day's racing, where quantity simply overpowers quality. As it is, I'm going to take a look at Leicester. The Leicester of five evils, you might say.

5.40 - Leg 1: We start with a handicap for novice amateur riders, whatever that is. I think it means they're inexperienced even in the context of amateur riders. So, essentially, we kick off in a tombola. I'm looking for a horse with the usual form credentials, but also one that has gone well for an inexperienced rider, if possible.

Unsurprisingly, there's been money for nothing - so far - and perhaps even more depressingly, the original seventeen runners in this handicap are now down to fifteen and, therefore, only three places. On the bright side, if we get through, a lot of others likely won't!

The best jockey here is probably Mr J Harding (three wins, two more places, from ten rides. He's also riding tonight for the hugely in form Paul Cole stable, and those two pointers are more than sufficient for A status. And he's joined by Boy The Bell, an ideal horse for such a race: he's won six times in his career for six different jockeys, four of them apprentices!

I'm also going to try a trio of longer priced speculatives in what could end up being a 'pot-defining heat. Rio Cobolo has been placed in three of his four runs at this track and his jockey was second in a similar novice amateur race yesterday, albeit riding the favourite. Adiator has only had four starts and has been nibbled at in the betting. He's the likely jolly here and makes B on little more than those two points.

And King Of Wing has only won one race. That was over seven furlongs seventeen starts ago. Today he races over the trip for the first time since! In a race where we're clutching at straws, he could go close.

A - 1 (Stormbound), 9 (Boy The Bell)
B - 2 (Adiator), 5 (Rio Cobolo), 7 (King Of Wing)

6.10 - Leg 2: Sedenoo is the obvious one, running under a penalty for a recent success. Tempting as it is to bank on him, there are better bankers later, so I'll spread out in the hope - possible, for sure - that he fails to run to that level again, with just two places up for grabs here. So there's definitely space for fellow last time out winner, Deepest Blue; and Dumbarton Rock, who finished four the last time he raced over similar conditions. From that race, the first, second, third, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth have all won since. The seventh horse hasn't run since!

A - 1 (Sedenoo)
B - 3 (Deepest Blue), 4 (Dumbarton Rock)

6.40 - Leg  3: A seller, and a moderate one even by that grade's usual standard. Mandy The Nag is rated 68, though her three turf runs probably amount to a stone below that level. It's tempting to leave her out completely but instead I'll take another with her. Reconsider Baby has a fair chance on her best form, including a staying on third in a better race than this over a furlong short. She ought to go very close in a weak race.

Nordikhab is part-owned by a geegeez reader, and the feeling with him is that he's not trained on. They're not too hopeful.

A - 1 (Mandy The Nag), 6 (Reconsider Baby)

7.15 - Leg 4: Mankini should win this, especially now that Nave is a non-runner. However, all three have some sort of chance, so Kittens and Almagest are included on B, in case tactics and/or ability undo the jolly.

A - 3 (Mankini)
B - 1 (Almagest), 4 (Kittens)

7.45 - Leg 5: Port Alfred. Banker.

A - 1 (Port Alfred)

8.20 - Leg 6: And we close with a competitive little handicap. Azrael looked to have a decent chance, if not getting caught in a burn up on the front, but he's a non-runner.

Illustrious Prince may have won well last time, but he's hardly unexposed and this step up in class will see him face a much sterner test. He's too short for me, even for the placepot. Skytrain actually won a higher class (3) handicap last time, and steps down in grade here. He'll bid to make all, and has a very taking winning attitude (five wins in fourteen starts).

Broctune Papa Gio is interesting, and his form on good to soft or quicker over seven furlongs reads 23121. He'll sit in behind the pace and will be well placed to strike in what may be optimal conditions. I'll also include the well backed Creek Falcon.

A - 3 (Creek Falcon), 6 (Skytrain), 9 (Broctune Papa Gio)

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