It seems strange, dear reader, as it does every year, to be barely a month into the flat racing season and already have seen the back of 40% of the Classics. Annually, I whinge about the blatant anachronism of having this thoroughbred championship when most of the contenders are still wondering what these strange new hair growths are (i.e. in puberty). And no, I'm not talking about the jockeys!
However, such is the nature of our racing calendar, that ere was it so, and forever will it be so. The stuffed shirts are actually very slowly asphyxiating the sport in my opinion, with their reluctance to embrace the 21st century. But that rant is for another day.
It's time to turn our attentions to the Derby and Oaks, which will be run at Epsom in 31 days - the Oaks is a month today. As well as the 1000 Guineas, which incidentally is an awful trial for the Oaks (the winner of the longer race hasn't even run in the 1000 Guineas since 2003, and even then, Casual Look was back in sixth place), there will be trials at Chester, Lingfield and York in the next ten days or so.
It's my bet that we've yet to see the winner of the Oaks this season, but we will have by the time York has been and gone. Just don't ask me who it is.
If you do want help with that, though, Gavin's excellent Festival Trends will probably point you in the right direction. After finding 7/1 and 8/1 winners on Saturday with his only two selections, Sunday looked like taking the edge off the joy when the first two of his three picks there were well beaten, albeit at 16/1 and 14/1 respectively.
But no, he still managed to get us all a day ticket on the gravy train when Take The Hint did just that, having looked well held mid-race, before bounding up the Newmarket hill at a very tasty 15/2. Fair play to the man - he's on fire at the moment, and normal laws of averages suggest a trickier run is to follow.
However, for the sake of fifteen notes (you may have done a good many more last weekend if you were without that information), you can get his trends updates for the following:
6th - 7th : CHESTER – Cheshire Oaks, Chester Cup, Huxley Stakes, Chester Vase – Available 7.30pm TUESDAY 5th MAY
8th : CHESTER - Dee Stakes & Ormonde Stakes – Available 7.30pm THURSDAY 7th MAY
9th: LINGFIELD – Derby & Oaks Trials – AVAILABLE 7.30pm FRIDAY 8th MAY
13th - 15th : YORK – Duke of York, Muisidora, Dante, Hambleton H'cap & Yorkshire Cup
16th : NEWBURY – The Lockinge
23rd & 24th : CURRAGH – Irish 1000 & 2000 Guineas
28th : SANDOWN – National Stakes, Henry II Stakes & Brigadier Gerard
*Plus extra races to be announced*
All that for fifteen quid. I know this is a plug, and I don't really make any apology for that, for two reasons:
1. The boy's tipping out of his skin at the moment
2. If there's better value ANYWHERE in the horse racing world, please let me know, and I'll put everyone onto it!
Gavin should really be charging the monthly price per meeting. That's been suggested to him by a number of his happy followers (no doubt wanting to keep the info to themselves!), but he doesn't want to do that, preferring instead to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Fair enough I say.
Enough from me:
Racing today is at Catterick, Chepstow, Exeter, Fakenham and Southwell (AW). At Chepstow, I've a couple of fancies put up on the Flat Racing Profiles members' area (nice winners yesterday at 7/1 and 3/1 - well backed - for us yesterday).
Catterick is a tough one though. It's one of those ground dependant tracks, where on soft ground they go one side, and on fast ground they go the other. I suspect they may tack across today. If you're able to, and you want to have a bet today, I'd suggest watching to see what happens in the opening contest - perhaps the second race too - before investing.
The Summer jumps rarely catch my attention, but I do like one at Fakenham this afternoon a little. There is an odds on favourite in the race who may well win, but at the prices, Crashtown Hall looks the better value to my eye. Available at 3/1 on betfair as I write, he's from the up and coming Tim Vaughan stable, and has a certain AP McCoy in the plate.
The horse has won two from seven hurdle starts, and is dropped back into novice company after finding a handicap too tough, and not really getting the hang of chasing last time out. The fact that the champ is booked strongly suggests a big run is expected and, in a pretty weak race, 3/1 is a value price.
(Note, that means I think that if they ran the race four times, McCoy would win at least once. It does not mean I think he's a certainty - the favourite has run to a similar level of form. Apologies if this particular statement sounds like a lesson in egg-sucking for grannies...)
Good luck with your Tuesday wagers on a day of fairly uninspiring fare. Bigger fish to fry this week, starting at Chester tomorrow.