Read all sorts of commentaries and tips across a range of racing disciplines on the most popular horse racing blog in Britain, from staff and guest writers.

Geegeez Gold Case Study #1

I received an email yesterday from a subscriber, Jack, who was struggling to make Gold work for him. He had a fairly set way of doing things on another site (absolutely fine, of course) and the migration to Geegeez was a challenge. Of course, we humans largely resent change - I certainly do!, so there's needs to be a good reason for making the switch. I like to think that we offer a plethora of such good reasons.

Anyway, in answering Jack's email, I thought the content might be useful to others, so I've reproduced his questions and my responses below. I will try to do occasional case studies like this to help introduce the various elements of Gold, and how you might incorporate them into your own betting.

OK, here goes - Jack's note first, and then my reply:

Hi Matt

Thanks for taking the time out for this. As I said to Chris I don't know how you guys manage to fit everything in to 24 hours/day!!??

Anyway here goes.

I use Classes 3 - 5 handicaps up to 1 mile on the flat and Classes 2 & 3 handicap chases up to 3 miles over jumps. Prefer to see no 3YOs in flat races and so prefer the 4+ races to the 3+ but they're a bit scarce after the first month or two. 3YOs can make big improvements as they grow stronger with age and gain experience but unfortunately there's no way to calculate that.

On the flat I like to find horses which have previously run well at the course and distance and have a chance when comparing today's OR to their last few runs and hopefully their run/s at today's CD, using the admittedly over-simplistic 1lb/1pt OR for each length beaten no matter the distance. I prefer the race to be at the same class or below that of it's usual races.

As an example if we stick with Joegogo in the 7.45 at Chelmsford on Thursday I can immediately see that 6 runs ago it ran in a class 3 over CD and came 4th of 6 but only beaten 2L, that it is now 6pts OR better off in today's race and, hovering over the race to bring up the comments, I note that it led in that race, faded late on and lost 2 places. I would expect it to do better in this weaker race so should at least make the frame. Looking at its last 3 races there are conceivable (admittedly a bit feeble) excuses for all of them! 3RA Wolves - came after a break so maybe not completely wound up, 2RA Southwell couldn't get the lead, LTO Lingfield, not a course brilliant for front runners and faded in final furlong over 6f. Now back at 5f.

Will be interesting to see if Adam Kirby again takes the ride although I would prefer a good apprentice to a) take a bit of weight off and b) hopefully deflect the bookies/other backers away from the horse - Adam's presence on it's back would probably lose a couple of points but would at least point to the horse being fit and well and having a chance.

All the above takes me only a minute or two, having done it for so long.

I would then switch to GeeGeez Gold to check the draw, pace and to quickly find out how the other runners in the previous Chelmsford race did as well as its last 3 races. Unfortunately this can only be a rough guide as without digging deeper there's no way of telling if those that have run since did so in better or worse races. If a horse/s still looks promising on Gold I would then go back to the RP to do the deeper digging.

Over the jumps I simply look for horses which have been running in better class races than today's. Not too bothered about the OR. Look to back those which have previously done well at the same type of course as todays, if not having run there before e.g. tight left/right handed, left handed galloping etc. So if a horse has been running well at say Market Rasen, Ludlow and Taunton I wouldn't be in a rush to back it at a left handed galloping course. Having backed horses since Blakeney won the Derby back in 1968 I know all the courses by heart so that only takes a couple of seconds. I don't bother over much with either the distance (as long as it's under 3m) or the going over jumps as I've missed winners doing that. I think the 'sloggers' come into their own once past 3m and find it difficult to evaluate those races.

In both codes I don't check how the trainer's doing - if badly then maybe today's runner will be the catalyst for a revival in stable fortunes! And if a 7lb claimer hasn't scored yet then maybe today's the day! So maybe I look a bit too much on the bright side! Also, as Gold has good info on trainers, jockeys and combos etc, I do realise that I'm not using it to its full extent but think that sometimes simple is better.

As I mentioned before all the above does not take long on the RP site as I've been doing it for years and I can fairly quickly go through all the runners in a race but it seems much slower for me when I use the Gold site. Maybe it's just a case of getting quicker as I use Gold.

The other thing that bothers me about Gold is that sometimes the draw advantage seems to come from relatively few races, especially when compared to FlatStats as I mentioned before. I like the way FlatStats lays it out e.g.'472 horses from 44 races analysed. Date range: 11-Jan-15 to 06-Dec-18' and followed by the charts. As it's free for this I tend to use it quite often.

Well that's enough of my ramblings and please don't spend much of your precious time looking for ways to help - I'm probably beyond help anyway!

All the best



Some really good and interesting points - and here is my reply...


Hi Jack

There is nothing in what you do that cannot be done on Geegeez. Regarding race selection, you can use the filters on the cards menu – I’ve filtered for C3-5 flat handicaps today in the first image below.


Race card menu filters for handicap, race code and race class

Race card menu filters for handicap, race code and race class

Course and distance form: best view is Full Form, where you can select the ‘course’ and distance’ filters. Joegogo Chelmsford example below. I’ve also checked Proximity Form there, which gives a traffic light view of how well the horse ran based on race distance and beaten lengths. Also on Full Form, you can see DR and RS columns: they tell you the draw – in this case six (of six) – and run style, in this case Led. Filtering a horse’s form by wins and/or places often highlights a pace preference/requirement; it also offers clues as to whether a horse ran well from a poor draw, or poorly from a good draw, etc. Finally, at the right side of the form line in Full Form, you can see that the race in question has R W P W% P % - that shows the subsequent form of the race. In this example, 18 runs, 0 wins and 3 places. So not spectacular in truth.


Full Form with Proximity form, Course and Distance checked

Full Form with Proximity form, Course and Distance checked


Checking Instant Expert will reveal overall form at the respective course, distance, class and field size (going too). The final column compares today’s OR with the horse’s last winning OR in this code. Again below is Joegogo, where we can see he’s four pounds below his last winning OR on the all-weather. (I have my settings to last 2 years form, and race code/hcap contextual – i.e. when it’s a handicap, this view is only showing me handicap form, and when it’s all-weather, it’s only showing me all-weather form; when it’s both, it’s only showing my AW handicap form).


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Instant Expert shows form against the race conditions, and also an OR comparison against the last win in this code

Instant Expert shows form against the race conditions, and also an OR comparison against the last win in this code


For the jumps, you could use the Class Move report as a starting point – it’s here – and sort by those dropping in class. See image below. The reports are a treasure trove, and it’s worth spending a little time messing around with them, as you’ll discover all sorts of ‘ins’ to various races.


Class Move report can be sorted to show those horses stepping down (or up) the most in grade today

Class Move report can be sorted to show those horses stepping down (or up) the most in grade today


Regarding looking for horses which have done well on today’s type of course, again Full Form has filters for course direction, general profile and specific profiles, so you can easily see how your potential class droppers have fared on similar tracks. I personally think trainer form is more important than you do (!), but I always check the place percentages as well as the wins. They tell far more of a story than the headline win numbers. (We have green and red form indicators on our racecards, but I never use those without checking the place data, as I say).

Going for me is only important when it’s heavy or good to firm (jumps, firm on the flat). Extremes isolate the proven types, and I have a ‘rule of two’: once may be a fluke, twice almost certainly was not.

On the matter of draw, I think one needs to find the right balance between enough data in the sample, and the data being relevant to today’s race conditions. For example, looking at seven runner races is not useful when considering a 16 runner race. Looking at all data is not terribly useful when considering a soft ground flat race (the draw bias can change almost 100% from firm to soft at some tracks). We have dropdowns on our draw tab, but more than that we have ‘guide lines’ which show ‘all going’, ‘all field sizes’, and ‘all races’, so you can see how the ‘micro’ dataset relevant to today’s going and field size maps against the bigger (but less specific/relevant) datasets. I’ve included an example from Southwell today, where you can see that the overall draw data (fainter lines) would mislead you when compared against the specifics for today – also note that I again tend to use place data as it is more comprehensive.


The fainter lines show that the overall draw data might mislead a bettor. There is very little bias against today's conditions.

The fainter lines show that the overall draw data might mislead a bettor. There is very little bias against today's conditions.


I do appreciate it’s a fair bit to take in, and obviously it’s different from RP because there’s a heck of a lot more on our site. But I think you’ll be able to absorb these different elements quickly enough if working on them one by one. Gravitate to Geegeez rather than trying to do it all in one go, that’s my suggestion.

Hope that’s helpful,



And that was that.

It won't be possible for me to go into such detail for all who want some pointers - and, naturally, the first port of call is the User Guide and/or the videos I recently recorded. All of that helpful content can be found on your My Geegeez page.

But I will try to occasionally share something like the above.

If you're not currently a Gold subscriber and you've read this far, you must be interested in what you might be missing. Hopefully this has been an appetising little taster. If you've never tried Gold before, you can get access to everything for your first 30 days for just £1.


Good luck!


Monday Musings: A Global Game

Racing at Sandown on Saturday was like going back in time at least 30 years, writes Tony Stafford. Traffic built up a couple of hours before the early start; car parks were packed but then came the major difference: going into the track, racegoers were funnelled through a narrow opening where the Saturday staple drug-detecting dogs had a sniff at everyone.

I don’t know whether the course releases details of the number of non-admissions as a result of the screening policy but at the time I survived the examination it was all pretty good-natured, as it remained throughout.

The main attraction obviously was the return to action of the peerless Altior in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase. The sponsors’ yellow scarves were draped around many shoulders but did little to nullify the effects of a downpour during the running of the race.

With only four contestants it might have been a relative non-event, but in the form of Un de Sceaux, such a reliable adversary, the champion was faced with a serious test.

When Ruby Walsh gathered the Irish 10-year-old for his run for home it looked as though Altior might struggle, but once the acceleration which has characterised his entire career kicked in, there was only one possible outcome. Altior won by four lengths with the other pair, Saint Calvados – who took Un de Sceaux’s customary position at the front for almost half the race, and Sceau Royal a respectful distance behind.

As all three remain among the immediate group of possible beneficiaries should Altior lapse from his present level in next March’s Queen Mother Chase at Cheltenham, it is understandable that Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old is now odds-on for that race.

The entire Sandown card provided entertainment as did the track executive’s decision to broadcast on the big screens all the action from Aintree complete with Mark Johnson’s commentary. Often going racing means you lose track of what is happening elsewhere and while you needed rather more research to dig out Chepstow, Wetherby and Navan, it could be done.

I’ve always had a good crack at solving Aintree’s Becher Chase puzzle believing that previous visitors to the Grand National fences often hold an advantage. A field of 18 included a few with decent claims and, of these, previous winners Vieux Lion Rouge and Ultragold again performed with credit, unlike Blaklion who never recovered from an early mistake and trailed home in 11th spot.

With the ground all over the country suddenly having gone to soft or even heavy, I decided to have a late, brief look for a suitable light-weight and landed on the Robert Walford-trained Walk in the Mill, a son of Derby runner-up Walk in the Park, sire notably of Douvan and Min.

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When Call It Magic, trained by Ross O’Sullivan, husband of the enchanting Katy Walsh, as seen on Luck on Sunday yesterday, was still well clear at the third-last fence, victory seemed probable. That was until you noticed Walk in the Mill, who found a strong burst around the outside and by the penultimate fence he looked unassailable. Denied a run in last April’s big race by an injury, he will be a contender next time round.

One For Arthur, the 2017 Grand National winner appeared on the Aintree card, in his first outing since, but in the Betway Many Clouds Chase over the smaller Mildmay fences. Unfortunately he blundered and unseated Tom Scudamore at the third fence leaving prolific winner Definitly Red to make all under Danny Cook. Brian Ellison has the Gold Cup firmly on his agenda.

Willie Mullins looked the trainer to follow in Ireland yesterday, with established and emerging stars sprinkling both the Punchestown and Cork cards. Mullins is fortunate to have – apart from a stable chock-full of brilliant horses – two authentic champion jockeys. So Ruby Walsh, fresh from his multi-tasking at Sandown, was at Punchestown, while Paul Townend took the road south to Cork.

Townend got the better of the day numerically winning four races while his senior colleague had a favourites’ treble. Townend was off with a rush, collecting the first two maidens with Maze Runner and Come To Me for his boss, then teaming up with Pat Fahy to collect the Hilly Way Chase (Grade 2) with Castlegrace Paddy after Mullins’ 4-7 shot, Great Field (Jody McGarvey), departed at the second fence.

Then Camelia de Cotte made it four in the mares’ novice chase before what looked a certain five-timer was narrowly denied in the finale. Here, Mullins’ well-backed Eight and Bob strolled clear before two out in a 20-runner novice handicap hurdle, but a scruffy jump at the last was all the encouragement fast-finishing Ronald Pump and jockey Robbie Power needed to get up late.

The aforementioned Min was the centrepiece of Ruby’s Punchestown treble, but the multiple former champion needed all his steel to overcome some tactical room-denying by a couple of his rivals coming to the closing stages of the John Durkan Memorial. In the end Min had a little to spare over Gordon Elliott’s Shattered Love and, with stable-mate Footpad, is one of the leaders in the group paying homage to Altior among the two-milers.

Sunday was an uncharacteristically barren day for Elliott, with none of his 12 runners getting top spot after three the day before at Navan. The last straw must have been the defeat of odds-on Santana Plessis in the concluding Pro-Am Flat race, where the honours went to Tom Hamilton on the Joseph O’Brien newcomer, Embittered, a son of Fame and Glory.

Joseph was not there to witness his winner although the communications from Hong Kong would have enabled him to see it. O’Brien was on track at 6 a.m. GMT, almost ten hours before his home winner, for the Longines Hong Kong Vase where his Irish Derby winner Latrobe was one of eight European contenders for the £1 million plus first prize.

Latrobe could manage only 11th of the 14 runners. Best of the Europeans, behind the four-year-old Teofilo gelding, Exultant, was Dermot Weld’s Eziyra in the Aga Khan colours. She picked up just shy of £200k while fifth-placed Waldgeist (Andre Fabre) collected just over £60,000 for fifth. None of the other visitors collected a cheque. Best of these in seventh was the much-travelled Rostropovich (Aidan O’Brien), with Charlie Fellowes’ Prince of Arran in eighth and Salouen, Sylvester Kirk, ninth. Ed Dunlop’s Red Verdon beat just one home, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mirage Dancer, who continued Ryan Moore’s run of overseas disappointments.

David Elsworth also sent over a challenger on the day, but his Sir Dancealot probably found the hotly-contested Hong Kong Sprint happening much too quickly after a busy season, and was never in contention, finishing last of eleven.

After her strong-finishing fifth at the Breeders’ Cup it might have been expected that William Haggas’ One Master would make an impact in the Hong Kong Mile, but while best of the three Europeans, she was still unable to collect any money for finishing a well-beaten eighth. Andrew Balding’s Beat the Bank was 11th and the Fabre-trained Inns of Court last of 14 behind Beauty Generation.

The Hong Kong racing pattern occasionally throws up horses in the mould of this New Zealand-bred six-year-old. Beauty Generation had won only one of his first ten outings as a developing horse. Since those days he has improved consistently and here completed a five-timer in the major mile races of the season at odds of 1-2. His earnings exceed £6,000,000 and it would seem he will continue to dominate for trainer John Moore and rider Zac Purton.

Stat of the Day, 10th December 2018

Saturday's Pick was...

1.55 Chepstow : Steely Addition @ 3/1 BOG WON at 10/3 (Held up and behind, steady progress 8th, went 2nd approaching 5 out, challenged 3 out, ridden to lead flat, stayed on to win by 2.5 lengths)

Monday's pick runs in the...

2.30 Lingfield :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Jennys Surprise @ 11/4 BOG a 4-runner, Class 3, Veterans Handicap Chase  for 9yo+ over 2m4f on Heavy ground worth £7849 to the winner... 

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Here we have a 10 yr old mare, whose suitability for the task ahead is shown by her following achievements to date...

  • 5 wins and 3 places from 15 on soft/heavy ground
  • 3 wins and 3 places from 11 under jockey Paddy Brennan
  • 3 wins from 7 at Class 3
  • 2 wins and 2 places from 7 on heavy ground
  • 4 wins from 4 at odds of 3/1 and shorter

Her trainer, Fergal O'Brien, is 11 from 37 (29.7% SR) for 29.9pts (+80.7% ROI) with 10yr old chasers sent off at Evens to 9/1 since the start of 2013, from which Class 3 runners are 6/14 (42.9%) for 28.1pts (+200.8%).

In addition to the above...O'Brien + Brennan + Hcp Chases + 2014-18 = 47/255 (18.4% SR) for 64.5pts (+25.3% ROI), from which...

  • over 2m4f to 3m4f : 40/196 (20.4%) for 67.1pts (+34.2%)
  • November-April : 27/128 (21.1%) for 81.1pts (+63.4%)
  • over 2m4f to 3m4f in November-April : 23/101 (22.8%) for 76.4pts (+75.6%)
  • at Class 3 : 22/91 (24.2%) for 72.3pts (+79.5%)
  • over 2m4f to 3m4f at Class 3 : 18/71 (25.4%) for 66.1pts (+93.1%)
  • at Class 3 in Nov-Apr : 13/51 (25.5%) for 61.9pts (+121.4%)

...and over 2m4f to 3m4f at Class 3 in November-April = 11/41 (26.8% SR) for 58.3pts (+142.2% ROI)... us... a 1pt win bet on Jennys Surprise @ 11/4 BOG, as offered by a dozen firms at 5.20pm on Sunday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 2.30 Lingfield

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

SotD Update, 3rd to 8th December 2018

It was another frustrating week for myself and SotD followers alike, albeit thankfully a profitable one.

Let me explain why I was frustrated...yes, it was great to pick up two winners from six runners and 3.33pts profit to boot, but a pair of placers and a late faller could really have changed the perspective of this piece. Sumkindofking battled on really well and was unlucky on Wednesday when beaten more by conditions far worse than advertised, whilst Bermeo looked really well placed before coming down late on Thursday.

But, of course, in the long term, these things even out and we'll nick a couple of races via late falls etc, but the short term pain is still annoying! That said, we edge ever closer to ensuring that 2018 ends in profit, despite how difficult the past few months have been. December obviously has fewer betting days than most months due to the (short!) Christmas break, but we've still 17 more opportunities to add to our bottom line.

My initial target is definitely to find the two winners that will guarantee the year is profitable at the very least, hopefully I'll be telling you about both of them next weekend!

Selections & Results : 03/12/18 to 08/12/18

03/12 : Boscastle @ 3/1 BOG 11th at 4/1
04/12 : Wotadoll @ 3/1 BOG WON at 4/1
05/12 : Sumkindofking @ 11/4 BOG 2nd at 9/2
06/12 : Bermeo @ 3/1 BOG fell at 3/1
07/12 : Cap St Vincent @ 11/4 BOG 3rd at 4/1
08/12 : Steely Addition @ 3/1 BOG WON at 10/3

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03/12/18 to 08/12/18 :
2 winning bets from 6 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +3.33pts

December 2018 :
2 winners from 7 = 28.57% SR
P/L: +2.33pts
ROI = +33.29%

2018 to date :
64 winners from 279 = 22.94% SR
P/L: +11.08pts
ROI = +3.97%

587 winners from 2161 = 27.16% S.R
P/L: +497.32pts
ROI: +23.01%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is here.

Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are now available here.

Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here

And here is the full story from 2017.

Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take the plunge and get involved right now?

Click here for more details.

Your Questions, My Answers

Last week, I invited you to send in your questions. About, about racing, about betting. And you did. In your droves. So today, I've recorded a video to answer them all. It's long - two hours - so underneath the video box is a list of the questions and subject headings, as well as some resources to which I've referred in the recording. I hope you'll find (at least some of) it useful.


p.s. I've also managed to create a podcast version should you prefer to listen to the audio.

n.b. The number before the questions below is the point in the video at which you'll find that answer.

Your Questions

The number before the questions below is the point in the video at which you'll find that answer.

*Race Types and betting*

1:45 - How do you work out handicaps? - Kevin Clarke

Click here for a blog post about how to look at handicap races

22:55 - My Question is I am not sure what I am looking for in looking for winners.  I use first expert to sort out horses that fit the greens this is the dogs. Then I look at pace to see if the selection has the credentials then I go to draw if flat and look at that. Then I pretty much lose the plot what do you look for after this.  Thanks love the videos learnt so much From Geegeez. - John A

27:40 - I am a massive Placepot nut , any advice on this type of bet with regards to Gold would be much appreciated.  What do you think of Colossus Bets which now offer this bet and any advice on the Cash Out option ? - Simon B

How to win the placepot

Geegeez placepot ABCX ticket builder

How to use the ticket builder

36:15 - I wonder if you could come up with a good query tool to able to lay a short price horse successfully.  I do lay, I am down money and I need to turn things around. - Gerry M

- First up I enjoy reading your articles. My question is what feature in geegeez you would use and how would you use it to find small priced lays if that is possible. - Murray S

43:00 - Would you kindly expand on the relative values of Pace in Chase, Hurdles and NH Flat. I'd find that very helpful. Many thanks. - Keith B

Article on pace in 'speed' handicap chases

46:55 - What do you do to improve your strike rate - James T

49:35 - I would like to see more guidance on how you as an expert would go about picking a selection or 2, maybe a guided bet for a Saturday and big meetings. - Steve S

51:25 - Breeding and sales data snippet there is numbers after the stallion name, like 6,7f. What that figure means? What is your personal opinion about a very big break before start? Like over 200 days. I mean in the betting perspective. Is it better to leave those kind of horses without a bet? Thank you for excellent site! - Jussi A

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54:15  - Hi Matt, forgive me if I’m wrong but I didn’t notice the ‘bringing it all together’ section on your last web tutorial thingy.  I’ll admit to still struggling with gold as there is so much to look at & whilst i feel like I understand all of the individual components of full form, pace, draw & the reports,  I’m still really struggling to know which ones to give the most weight/credence to & which ones to ignore as obviously they’re all pointing at different horses. If you could show how you sit down & attack a race cold or what starting points you use that lead you to a bet then that would help somewhat I think. I feel like you say ‘that horse could be of interest depending on other factors’ for example but then we didn’t really see you carry on that selection process to the end in any of those web shows. I appreciate you may have reservations about doing that as there’s so many different ways of using gold & you don’t want to ‘prescribe’it to us but I feel, if like me, you’re a new member who has previously tried & failed to make gold work for them, it’s incredibly frustrating to know that the relevant information is in there but i just can’t land on it with any confidence! - Iain M

59:07  - So, all in all, I’m probably in the mode of not being able to see the wood for the trees, almost too much information and not knowing how best to use it.  I’m also probably guilty of looking for big priced winners rather than just winners and of the old fear of missing a winner so backing it regardless. As a rule, I have always been led by Horses for Courses, Ground specialists and runners back to a winning handicap mark and since joining Geegeez I do like the TJ combo. So, I guess this is a very open ended ‘question’ and probably not one you can easily answer, but given all of the above (and below) can you give me a steer to start making this excellent service pay for me a bit better please?  I’m not looking to retire early or win a million, just nice steady returns and a bit of fun along the way. - Lee

*Technology *

1:03:30 - Can you see yourselves developing a geegeez mobile app in the future? Roy N


1:05:15 - First time headgear (report, and QT)

1:07:20 - Is it possible to add to the racecard, a going filter, to see if any of the red/green figures are changed, and the form figures can relate to such an update? Instant expert does show most of this but not if the trainer's or jockeys record without having to use full form screen. - Terry S

1:10:30 - why does the contextual breeding data/trainer data etc update so late in the day before the race?  Before I used Geegeez I used to pick my horses at around 11am (just after declaration) and then place the bets in the evening. My mornings and evenings are busy so this worked best for me. I understand that you obviously wouldn’t change the way you do things just or me, but is it possible for this data to be uploaded earlier in the day? - Tom F

1:12:20 - would it be possible to add in a horses current Official Rating onto Full Form? Just that when you're looking at its past ratings, you need to minimise the window to look at the race card to see its current OR. - Eddie K

1:12:40  - Hi Guys, can I check the previous high /low prices of horses inplay if a particular horse has generally shortened in running - Michael M

*Staking / Tipsters*

1:13:30 - I am really  disappointed with SOTD , I am a yearly subscriber, it is very difficult to get BOG without being gubbed , however I do like you and your apparent honesty that's why I rejoined, but this service Stat Of The Day, leaves a lot to be desired, as I understand SOTD is found using your stats , so what does it say for using your stats. I hope that this does not come across as a knee jerk reaction , but this has been a long time coming, you asked for comments so here is mine ! - David H

1:18:40 - Do you have a forum/ group chat where you and other members send out their selections for the day? - Joe D

1:19:30 - I follow 3 or 4 racing tipsters, all have long term profitable records. However often they will tip different horses in the same race. What strategy should one adopt? Cover all, (split stake or not?) and therefore reduce overall return. Or if they tip same horse, should i increase stake? I would use separate betting banks, but wonder whether better to focus on just one tipster? - David E

1:21:28 - For many years l believed that doubles, trebles etc., were a mugs game and always stuck to win only successfully until l read somewhere that if you knew what you were doing with your selections they could be lucrative so brought this into my betting and found this so far to be true. What is your opinion on this? - Thomas

1:24:35 - I believe that you once wrote that raising stakes during a losing run was better than raising them during a winning run. Is my memory right. If not, what are your thoughts on staking. - Barry C

1:28:30 - When a new service goes live, why do all the tipsters I follow, have to blitz it, day afterday after day? It's blimmin annoying ,and 9times,out of 10, it turns out to be less than useless. But I'm at the stage now, where I am just deleting, and unsubscribing;  so you can guess that I've missed some of the ones that, actually work.  Could you just tell me, are they being paid ,for mentioning that service(which they've said they have proofed for infinity years)??  Actually, my own service is amazing: You'll never get any winners, but at least I'm up front, about it!! - Steven S


1:34:10 - Around the time of Goodwood Matt Chapman suggested that there were several odd SPs. Who determines the SP? Is this something the Bettor's Forum is concerned about. I think most bettors will put up with the occassional horse which wins out of the blue having been well backed. They like the idea of an old fashioned coup landed. The idea that the whole system is skewed against them is a different ball game. - Ben S

1:38:20 - As I consider the going on the day to be very important.Is there a way to get round the lies that most Clerks and the Bha are sending out. All the best and thanks for all the help over the years, - John

1:43:30 - I was told that Sportsbook at Betfair was covering single bets, with a pay out of up to £500.00 without having your account closed, is this really true? If so what about multiples, would they stand a higher amount on these? I am thinking mainly of football bets. By the way who owns Sportsbook or managers it? - Philip P

1:44:30  - Could I ask if you have heard of any bookies who have gubbed or restricted accounts offering reasonable bets on Class 1 or 2 races? - William J

1:46:30  - I have had my account with Skybet restricted although I don't think I have won much from them. Is this common as for the stakes I am using I cannot imagine I am much of a threat. I do only bet a small number of bets per year, maybe 70-80. - Geoff W


1:47:15 - I'd like to be pointed in the right direction regarding using the query tool please. I am sure this is a feature I do not use due to not understanding it - Paul E

1:49:05 - Thanks for being so open with your wealth of knowledge … much appreciated . I am a “systems” man and was just wondering what I should be accepting as a minimum figures for my systems if I would want to make it work on a more professional basis  =  win % /  roi % sp / roi % bfair /  “ a/e “ and or “chi”  ?? (are the last 2 the same ?) - Brian C

1:53:35 - Would it be possible to re-do the QUERY TOOL recording I get the gist of it but your teaching has a lot to be desired. I take you have never taught in a class room as you have no synchronisation what so ever or lesson plan talk about wing and a prayer Or as you put it WINGING IT - Frank R

1:55:15 - I understand A/E and I/V at least in so much as anything over 1 is good. But if A/E is say .81 and I/V is say 1.3 does  that indicate a  negative stat .....I'm presuming that it does. - Mick S

All change, all change!

As the Flat season has eventually given way to the jumps, November also saw a large number of reviews come to a conclusion and the subsequent replacement of those completed trials, as you'll now see in the latest Geegeez Systems Reviews monthly roundup.

The highlight (as you'll see shortly) of those completed trials was the performance of Loves Racing, whose 60 betting days showed a profit of some £1354.35 at an ROI of 36.55%, very healthy numbers indeed, so let me tell you a bit more about it.

Firstly to get to 60 betting days from Loves Racing, our trial actually lasted 40 weeks, which is great for those not wanting to be placing bets every day, but not so good for those wanting a busier service. During the trial (all bets are logged here), the service had 58 winners from 249 for a strike rate of 23.29%.

Obviously service fees are going to eat into your profit, but our trial was only geared at £10 per point and based on the infrequency of action, I'd probably want to be staking £20-£30 per point myself, which would negate some of the fees.

Those fees are set at £59.99 per month and if that's of interest, you can sign up via this link.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Now to the overall picture (in order of ROI achieved)...

System Profit/Loss Service Days Trial days Monthly P/L Full Review ROI
Racing Diary £555.50 (at day 60) 60 -£50.00 Click Here 51.92%
Loves Racing £1,354.35 (at day 60) 60 £438.00 Click Here 36.55%
The Wizard of Big Odds £149.50 (at day 16) 16 £149.50 Click Here 28.88%
Trends Experts £222.50 (at day 5) 5 £222.50 Click Here 16.39%
Rhodium Racing £171.26 (at day 25) 25 £171.26 Click Here 15.42%
Stable Whispers £143.33 (at day 60) 60 -£125.00 Click Here 12.80%
CD Racing £238.66 (at day 90) 90 £187.25 Click Here 10.16%
The VIP Service £40.86 (at day 60) 60 £27.82 Click Here 8.62%
Architect Tips £100.41 (at day 90) 90 -£75.00 Click Here 2.60%
Ron Williams Racing £3.65 (at day 60) 60 -£293.00 Click Here 1.85%
MK Horse Racing Tips -£19.31 (at day 25) 25 -£19.31 Click Here -2.67%
Star Horse Tips -£17.50 (at day 12) 12 -£17.50 Click Here -7.00%
The Shortlist -£703.72 (at day 58) 58 -£366.87 Click Here -10.26%
The BSP Tipster -£309.21 (at day 54) 54 -£270.06 Click Here -11.30%
Snowy Bets -£279.00 (at day 14) 14 -£279.00 Click Here -21.46%
Overpriced Horse Tips -£54.50 (at day 12) 12 -£54.50 Click Here -36.33%
October's Completed Trials
RL Rated Racing £98.09 (at day 60) 60 £0.00 Click Here 6.76%
The Press Man £35.25 (at day 60) 60 £0.00 Click Here 2.45%
Racing Excellence 5f Lays -£54.48 (at day 60) 60 £0.00 Click Here n/a
Racing Expert -£144.51 (at day 60) 60 £0.00 Click Here -10.86%

As is normally the case, clicking a service's name will direct you to their homepage, where you'll find more info and no doubt be offered the opportunity to take out a subscription.

The above is pretty self explanatory, of course, but if anything's unclear, feel free to ask. You'll notice the new additions over the last few week and you'll also see that quite a few reviews will end before the January edition of the roundup (2nd Jan IIRC). This, of course, means that I'm going to need to source a few new services to trial, so if there's a product out there that you'd like me to review or that you think we should review, please do get in touch.

Other than that, I'm done here for another month and I'll leave you with another reminder to check out our review of the Loves Racing service maybe even with a view to subscribing.

Thanks for taking the time to read this today,


Southwell Statistics: Horses for Courses?

There are few racing betting mediums as divisive as Southwell All-Weather, writes Jon Shenton. I know people who barely acknowledge its existence, and yet, in the other camp, are people like me: I absolutely love it with every fibre(sand) of my being!

Indeed, I love winter all weather racing, full stop. It’s probably as a result of me getting some (well earned) gardening leave from January to March 2017, when I really started to immerse myself in the world of racing. Those halcyon days of studying my new toys (Geegeez Gold being the main one) in the morning and watching the racing in the afternoon on ATR will live long in the memory.  I was drawn to Southwell because it seemed a bit easier to navigate than the complicated world of National Hunt racing.  No vagueness on ground, no fences or hurdles to consider, and a whole stack of course form to evaluate.  Perhaps some moderate, relative early success helped too.

Whilst it may not be to the taste of everyone, supporters assert that the deep, stamina sapping test provided by the track offers a unique challenge and adds to the rich tapestry of UK racing. Arguably, it serves as an outlet for horses to show their ability who aren’t ordinarily suited to other racing surfaces.

It also has the important attraction of familiar names returning year after year, which as we know isn’t then norm for the racing on the level. It may be a stretch to claim superstar status for the main protagonists, but there are legends such as La Estrella (16 wins from 21 runs at the course) and General Tufto, who has run no less than 125 times on the fibresand over the last 10 years. 125 times and still counting!

To be honest, that’s even more frequently than I’ve attempted to explain odds and probability to my poor, not really interested, long suffering and very tolerant partner. Yes, on occasion I’m surprised I have one too! Anyway, let’s crack on. What follows are a few thoughts and insights which I hope will inform your Southwell wagering hereafter.


USA Bred horses at Southwell

It’s relatively well documented that horses with a pedigree originating from the good ‘ole US of A are worth consideration on the fibresand.  There is certainly logic in this given the perceived proximity between the Southwell surface and the dirt tracks of America.  The table below illustrates track runners by sire origin, for all races in 2012 onwards (three major countries only included)


Origin of Stallion Runs Wins Win% P/L (SP) Place% ROI (SP) A/E
(GB) 7881 892 11.3 -1815.6 29.3 -23.0 0.86
(IRE) 5919 700 11.8 -1327.8 30.1 -22.4 0.85
(USA) 1248 225 18.0 155.6 38.8 12.5 1.03

Southwell (AW) runners by country of origin, 1st Jan 2012 to present


The picture is pretty clear: US-bred horses outperform their UK- and Irish-bred counterparts significantly, winning more often (18%), beating market expectations (1.03) and returning a profit (12.5%) at SP.

Having said that it’s not ‘backing blind’ territory in my opinion, especially given the fact there are some exceptionally big priced winners in the sample. The biggest of all was a 100/1 shot, the Derek Shaw-trained Hammer Gun, who is definitely worth putting in the tracker for future Southwell entries as we will see shortly.

The Hammer bolted up in that particular race and, if you’re going for the Hail Mary play, I can think of worse places to do it than backing a US-bred runner at Southwell who is unproven on the surface.

As USA horses have a positive record at the track it would make some sense for American stallions to have similarly favourable numbers.

The below table shows sire records at Southwell for the same period.  This time I’ve only considered runners with a maximum SP of 20/1.  The usual reasons apply: I’m looking for angles which will return with a modicum of regularity.  Whilst there can be value at larger prices if you look hard and wait long enough, it’s not a game I want to play, or perhaps I can’t afford too long between drinks.  20/1 works for me, I know some of you prefer shorter. If you do, the data is there in the Geegeez Query Tool – go play!


Stallion Runs Wins Win% P/L (SP) Place% ROI (SP) A/E
Key Of Luck (USA) 67 15 22.4 21.8 47.8 32.5 1.39
Dubawi (IRE) 79 26 32.9 64.2 45.6 81.2 1.34
Ballet Master (USA) 53 9 17.0 1.3 43.4 2.4 1.30
Poets Voice (GB) 53 11 20.8 35.2 54.7 66.4 1.26
Refuse To Bend (IRE) 64 16 25.0 -5.2 40.6 -8.2 1.23
Speightstown (USA) 85 20 23.5 8.2 51.8 9.6 1.21
Street Cry (IRE) 129 35 27.1 40.5 50.4 31.4 1.21
Invincible Spirit (IRE) 130 32 24.6 22.0 37.7 16.9 1.20
Showcasing (GB) 55 10 18.2 24.0 45.5 43.6 1.12
Captain Gerrard (IRE) 105 21 20.0 54.3 40.0 51.7 1.10
Clodovil (IRE) 58 11 19.0 3.8 34.5 6.5 1.10

Sire performance at Southwell (AW) 1st Jan 2012-present at 20/1 SP or less


The table of top Southwell AW stallions has smattering of USA sires on the list, no major shock there. And, in the case of Street Cry, he was raced on dirt in America and latterly Dubai, winning the Grade 1 Stephen Foster in US and the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup in Dubai.

Ordinarily I’d now be searching through these data, trying to find a few nice angles to share and adopt over the next few months. In general, though, Southwell is a different proposition. Angles still have relevance but the number of course specialist horses can paint a different picture. I’ve already referred to the fact that one of the joys of the track is the number of repeat runners. Taking the top of the stallion charts (Key of Luck) we can see where the problem lies in angle creation.


This graph shows all of Key of Luck’s runners by individual animal, illustrating runs (blue) and wins (orange). The conclusion rapidly emerges: all of Key of luck’s progeny wins have been delivered by three individual horses, with 14 of the 15 coming from The Lock Master and Serenity Now! Even the most prolific stallion on the list, Street Cry, sire of the Australian darling, Winx, has a third of his victories from just two horses, namely Tatting and Fluctuation.

Based on this I don’t feel like many genuine angle opportunities exist in sire data. The samples are too small and the number of progeny involved are insignificant in many cases. No, for me, finding the right individual horses is the key. Then tracking and following them closely can be a productive method with which to approach the fibresand puzzle. Having said that, any Key of Luck or Street Cry progeny running at Southwell are still of interest and I’ll be watching them all closely and backing where conditions appear to be right.


Southwell trainers

Like any track across the world there are handlers who seem to know what is required for the unique Southwell test. Using the same approach as the sire table above here is the equivalent view for trainers, again sorted by A/E.


Trainer Runs Wins Win% P/L (SP) Place% ROI (SP) A/E
Carroll, D 101 24 23.8 37.6 41.6 37.3 1.63
Fell, Roger 55 11 20.0 33.8 38.2 61.4 1.48
Bailey, A 84 17 20.2 59.8 40.5 71.1 1.29
Furtado, Ivan 60 12 20.0 18.0 33.3 30.0 1.28
Brown, D H 67 15 22.4 -6.8 43.3 -10.2 1.25
Nicholls, D 103 22 21.4 32.9 37.9 31.9 1.25
McCabe, A J 184 34 18.5 31.1 36.4 16.9 1.19
Dwyer, C A 82 19 23.2 14.3 53.7 17.4 1.16
Shaw, D 251 44 17.5 5.5 41.8 2.2 1.15
Burke, K R 118 28 23.7 28.7 40.7 24.3 1.13
Kirby, P A 60 11 18.3 -11.6 40.0 -19.3 1.11
Butler, John 75 19 25.3 9.8 45.3 13.1 1.10
Bowring, S R 209 33 15.8 -12.4 35.9 -5.9 1.09

Southwell (AW) runners by trainer from 1st Jan 2012 to present at 20/1 or less SP


As is becoming tradition it feels right to have a quick delve into the top name on the list, in this case Declan Carroll.  The Malton-based trainer sends a high proportion of runners to the Nottinghamshire track. Indeed, the only course that is frequented more by his team is Thirsk, relatively local to the outfit.

Again, like the Key of Luck data, on the face of it, it seems that backing the Carroll stable representatives blindly is a good idea. In truth, it might be: there is a healthy strike rate, fantastic A/E performance and a reasonable return on investment.  On closer inspection though, we run into a familiar theme.

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This graphical representation shows Carroll horses that have had 3 or more runs on the fibresand track from 2012 onwards at an SP of 20/1 or less; we can see quite clearly that Monsieur Jimmy and Shearian with their six wins apiece (the orange line) account for over half of the trainer’s wins during the nearly six years analysed. I think this illustration reinforces the fact that successful horses generally return to the track time and time again.

In other words, there is a selection bias in these small samples. It’s a repeat of the sire analysis scenario, and again begs the same question: is it worth following specific yards on the fibresand, or is it worth following specific horses?

The answer is difficult, as are all such responses to small sample sizes skewed by individual elements. What is not in doubt specifically is that Carroll knows what it takes to nurture a successful Southwell career for a horse and, once he knows he has one with the right aptitude, he isn’t afraid to keep running them.

By way of example, let’s examine the record of Shearian at the course under the tutelage of Carroll (he was with Tracy Waggott previously).



Impressive stuff. In spite of a remarkable track record, Shearian still, however, went off at a price of 15/2 on the 12th November this year. This, despite him winning in his previous run over course and distance.  Granted, he hit the crossbar on this occasion, in a grade where he’d largely struggled, but netted the rebound three days later with a comfortable victory back in Class 6. However, considering his price shortened significantly on the 12th throughout the day the bet represented potentially great value.

That value was present due to his previous eight runs (four on tapeta, four of turf) being fairly unproductive. To Shearian followers that is absolutely of no consequence whatsoever: his lamentable record away from Southwell is 61 spins for just two wins, both as far back as 2013. The cynic in me would point towards a summer of official rating reduction in preparation for a bountiful winter campaign cruising around the Rolleston venue, his AW rating having reduced from 73 to 65 over the period in question.

I recognise that you can always find examples to fit any given narrative; however, it does seem that Southwell form offers more reliability for predicting future prospects at the track.


Horses for Southwell

I’d love to be able to statistically assert and prove that course form is more important at Southwell than most places and I think I can do that, at least partially.

The graph below is quite simple in what it’s trying to show but not so easy to explain.  It contains data for all AW runners, by track, from January 2012 for 3YO+ and 4YO+ handicaps only.  I’m selecting these age groups due to the likelihood of more horse runs, and logically more course form to check. It’s the journeyman (or woman) type of horse that I’m interested in here.

Anyway, the graph below shows win rate by how many victories a horse has had at the track previously:



The thick blue line represents Southwell.  What it depicts is that, compared to the other all-weather tracks of the UK, a previous course win means the horse is more likely to win again at the same track. Newcastle is an interesting newcomer, and runs it close, albeit sample sizes are tiny for the three and four previous wins data points for that course.

This statistical evidence is all well and good, but it still doesn’t quite sit right. That is due to the fact that field sizes could have a bearing on the data.  If we take the black line above (Kempton) we can see that it languishes at the bottom, or close to it, across all bandings.

The only reasons that can be the case are either that Kempton has larger field sizes, i.e. more horses running equals lower strike rates, after all only one horse can win (dead heats not withstanding); or because course form doesn’t stand up as well as elsewhere.  The fact Kempton is “poor” in all categories does point to it having a higher than average number of runners per qualifying race.  The table below confirms this, to some degree at least:


Track Average field size Multiplier
Southwell 9.15 0.94
Chelmsford 9.02 0.93
Wolves 9.66 1.00
Lingfield 9.21 0.95
Kempton 10.52 1.09
Newcastle 10.89 1.12
Overall 9.70 1.00

Average field sizes for AW races from 1st January 2012 onwards


Kempton does indeed have notably larger fields than the average AW line up. Interestingly, however, so does Newcastle, a potential course specialist track in the making. So what does this mean, and for what can we use it?

In the table it confirms that a win at Newcastle is harder to get than a win at Chelmsford, and indeed anywhere else in the UK all weather landscape, based purely on field size. To prevail at Newcastle a horse has to be the best of 10.89 animals on average. At Chelmo, the cream of the crop rises above 9.02 horses, a significant 1.87 (17%) fewer.

To try and obtain a like-for-like comparison of course form, effectively taking field size out of the equation, we have to boost Newcastle and Kempton performance to take account of the higher volume of runners per race. Conversely, we’ll be downgrading Chelmsford, Lingfield and Southwell accordingly by deploying the multiplier column in the table above.

It leaves the following picture:



These data appear to show that in the pursuit of finding winners previous course form is considerably more valuable on the tapeta of Newcastle than other all-weather courses.  The new surface at Gosforth Park is still relatively new having only been in place for racing for just over two years, so the picture may change over time; but the fact that all races at up to a mile are on a straight track is a notable difference from the remainder of the all-weather scene and may contribute to it emerging as a "specialists' track".

However, even with the adjusted numbers previous course form still holds up well in comparison for Southwell.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily directly translate to profitable angles, as course specialists are often well found in the market after all. But using data intelligently to assist in constantly improving our race reading ability has to be a good thing. If we find a course specialist with a favourable looking setup in terms of pace and draw (for another article, or check out Dave Renham’s excellent general series), we’re looking at a bet on the assumption that the price is reasonable. 


A Dozen Fibresand Masters

Let’s wrap things up. Much of this article has referred to course form and the longevity of horses who run at Southwell on a repeated basis. The below table shows some of the stars who thunder around the Notts oval with regularity. Each has had at least one run at Southwell during the past 12 months, and the table is sorted by A/E, with a minimum of 10 runs required to qualify.


Horse Runs Wins Win% P/L (SP) Place% ROI (SP) A/E
Custard The Dragon 10 6 60.0 18.8 80.0 187.5 2.75
Hammer Gun  11 6 54.6 111.6 63.6 1014.4 2.64
Piazon 13 6 46.2 20.3 61.5 155.8 1.90
Luv U Whatever 21 9 42.9 15.6 81.0 74.3 1.41
Stand Guard 14 6 42.9 -3.7 71.4 -26.6 0.88
Captain Lars  15 5 33.3 5.3 33.3 35.5 1.37
Philba 12 4 33.3 5.5 66.7 45.8 1.87
Shearian 21 7 33.3 25.6 47.6 122.1 2.28
Razin Hell 22 7 31.8 26.3 59.1 119.6 1.61
Royal Marskell 16 5 31.3 21.6 50.0 134.9 1.89
Pearl Nation  13 4 30.8 -0.1 61.5 -0.9 1.14
Samtu  13 4 30.8 29.3 46.2 225.0 1.43


Record breaking Stand Guard has since retired and there may be one or two others who have hung up their racing shoes, but the list should still be broadly active and, hopefully, profitable. Piazon and the aforementioned Shearian have already got their 2018 winter campaigns off the mark and I’m sure some of the others will be troubling the judge in the coming months. I’ve got a keen eye on Hammer Gun, and Samtu if reverting back to the flat, in particular. Here’s to a productive Southwell campaign for us all and a bit of Hammer Time over the festive period!

 - Jon Shenton (@jonnyshents on twitter)







Monday Musings: Joseph is coming!

Something remarkable happened at Fairyhouse yesterday, writes Tony Stafford. Joseph O’Brien had six runners on the second stage of the track’s December Festival as it was billed and none of them won! Has the magic run out? I bet a few trainers at the top of the Irish jumping scene will be hoping so, not least Gordon Elliott, who will have noticed the drift of a considerable number of Gigginstown House horses into the young genius’s care.

I invoke the term “genius” in the clear knowledge that it is something Joseph and his entire family will prefer to shy away from. Having been the first of four products of champion trainers either side of his pedigree, he has been brought up in an atmosphere as far as one can judge by second-hand observation where to err on the side of modesty is the way to proceed.

Born as recently as May 1993, Joseph O’Brien, just like his siblings Sarah, Anastasia and Donnacha, has been immersed in horses and racing all his life. In May 2009 he finished third in the European Pony Show Jumping Championships and by the end of the same month, had his first riding success on a racecourse.

Such was the progress that by the end of the following year he shared with two others in a triple tie for the Irish Apprentices’ Championship; a first Classic success came on Roderic O’Connor the following May, and by the summer of 2012 he had collected the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby with Camelot. Together they only narrowly failed to record the first UK Triple Crown since Nijinsky and Lester Piggott in 1970 when denied by Encke in the St Leger.

Irish riding championships followed that year, and again in 2013 when 126 wins easily exceeded the previous record. As recently as March 2016 he announced he would stop riding, having succumbed at the age of 22 to the struggle with his weight. Like his younger brother, Donnacha, who will surely have to think about his future sooner rather than later, O’Brien is very tall for a Flat-race jockey.

I mentioned yesterday’s blank at Fairyhouse, which was all the more surprising when considered alongside Saturday’s exploits at the same track. He won four of the seven races on the jumps card, and none of the quartet started favourite. The cumulative odds, if you had managed to put them together, exceeded 700-1.

Two of the four were for Gigginstown, the 10-1 shot Mortal, making a seasonal comeback in the opener, and the former Mouse Morris-trained Desir du Large in the bumper. J P McManus, easily his biggest supporter over jumps, picked up a maiden hurdle with Lone Wolf, one of seven wins in the green and gold hoops between Newcastle, Newbury, Bangor and Fairyhouse on the day.

Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Michael O’Leary of Ryanair and managed so skilfully by his brother Eddie, has so far this term had 16 Joseph O’Brien-trained runners, and at this relatively early stage of the winter season the brothers must be highly satisfied that ten of them have already won, five on their only start to date for the campaign.

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It has become commonplace, especially since O’Leary’s split with Willie Mullins, to see multiple Gigginstown horses, mostly trained by Elliott, contesting  the most valuable handicap chases, but big Gordon will not be getting complacent.

No doubt, with 95 for the campaign to his credit already, he’ll be happy enough, but the stats for the young man in a hurry make spectacular reading. Over jumps, starting two winters ago, his figures are 38, 67, and 49 for the campaign already with exponential growth suggesting somewhere near three figures by the end of April.

On the Flat, his fast-developing training career brought 23 wins in a truncated 2016; more than double up to 52 last year and again doubling up to, so far, 106, with more sure to come before the end of the year at Dundalk where he is so successful. That makes a total 335 wins at the two codes in a little more than two and a half years.

He has yet to train a UK jumps winner from eight and then 16 runners in the past two seasons, and no raiders yet this time. The horseboxes have been only sporadically launched on the Flat, too, with five wins in all, two this year. He sent over a few all-weather runners early in 2018, winning a small race at Kempton in January. The other, Iridessa, obliged in rather more exalted company, defeating his father’s Hermosa in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in the autumn.

As a trainer who is yet to send out a UK jumps winner, it might be fun to ask a British bookmaker to name a price he trains at least a couple of Cheltenham Festival winners next March?

One race O’Brien – and all the other leading Irish trainers – will struggle to win is the Champion Hurdle, dominated for the last two seasons by Buveur D’Air. That gelding is now the overwhelming favourite to make it a third next March having treated Elliott’s Samcro with contempt in the BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

Buveur D’Air came into Saturday’s big race with a record of 10 wins from his 11 previous hurdles starts; two from two in novice chases early in the 2016-7 season before switching back to hurdles when Altior was sent chasing. Two defeats in his four bumper runs are the only other blemishes. In that context it is hard to make sense of Samcro’s starting marginal favourite in preference to him on Saturday at level weights, especially after his comeback defeat by Bedrock at Down Royal last month.

Buveur D’Air’s sole hurdles lapse to date was behind stable-companion Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, when Min was a seven-length runner-up. Buveur D’Air, at the time the accepted Nicky Henderson second string, was only third.

Since then the Henderson pair have each gone unbeaten, Altior into unchallenged pre-eminence among two-mile chasers and Buveur D’Air, with his exceptionally-fluent hurdling, in line to emulate Istabraq as a three-time Champion Hurdle winner for J P McManus.

The owner’s Saturday seven-timer featured three more victories for Henderson, one at Newbury and two at Newcastle;  one for Paul Nicholls at Newbury and a 50-1 shot for Philip Hobbs at Bangor as well as Lone Wolf at Fairyhouse. As ever, while many smaller teams have been waiting for the weather to break, the top stables seem to have the resources in all regards to keep going.

The ground is set to ease this week. We have been waiting for Ray Tooth’s Apres Le Deluge to make his jumps debut and have had him pencilled in for some time at Exeter on Friday. In anticipation of softer ground, 47 horses were entered for his race and because of the paucity of available stabling, and no chance of a division only 13 are likely to get a run. We have an elimination number of 25, so it looks as though eight of those with higher numbers or none at all will need to miss the race for him to get a run. Not very likely is it?

Stat of the Day, 3rd December 2018

Saturday's Pick was...

1.50 Newbury : Speedo Boy @ 4/1 BOG 3rd at 9/2 (Shade keen tracking leaders, 3rd and one pace from 2 out, blundered last)

Monday's pick runs in the...

5.15 Wolverhampton :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Boscastle @ 3/1 BOG a 13-runner, Class 6, A/W Handicap  for 3yo over 1m1½f on Tapeta worth £3105 to the winner...


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This 3 yr old filly was a decent second off this mark at Chelmsford last time out, that was over slightly longer (1m2f) over at Chelmsford 18 days ago and a similar level of performance now switched to slightly shorter on Tapeta could well be the key to her breaking her maiden tag.

She's actually been running pretty well with two runner-up finishes sandwiching another couple of decent efforts in her last four outings and in what looks a fairly weak (albeit open) contest, she could well finally go one better.

I mention the switch of surface possibly being a help today and this is backed up by the fact that since the start of 2015, offspring of Sea The Stars are 8 from 42 (19.1% SR) for 8.9pts (+21.2% ROI) in A/W handicaps on Tapeta, having not run on the surface last time out. Of relevance today and from those 42 runners...

  • those who ran on the A/W LTO are 6/20 (30%) for 21.63pts (+108.2%)
  • 3 yr olds are 5/20 (25%) for 3.6pts (+18%)
  • females are 5/19 (26.3%) for 22.2pts (+116.8%)
  • over trips of 1m to 1m2f : 5/18 (27.8%) for 18.56pts (+103.1%)
  • after a short 11-20 day break : 4/14 (28.6%) for 22.5pts (+160.7%)
  • at Class 6 : 3/11 (27.3%) for 19.9pts (+180.9%)
  • and those who ran at Chelmsford LTO are 2/8 (25%) for 11.2pts (+139.5%)


7lb claimer Oliver Stammers is in the saddle today and in his short 10-month career so far has won 10 of 84 (11.9% SR) races, which is a decent enough start, but of those 84 races, he has done particularly well in A/W handicaps, winning 6 of 35 (17.1% SR) for 18.4pts (+52.5% ROI) profits, including...

  • at Class 6 : 5/25 (20%) for 21.6pts (+86.4%)
  • over trips of 1m1.5f and beyond : 5/16 (31.25%) for 33.07pts (+206.7%)
  • and at Class 6 over trips of 1m1.5f and beyond : 4/14 (28.6%) for 28.3pts (+202.2%)


Plus there's a distinct possibility that our pick will go off as favourite today and considering that blindly backing favs is a quick way to the poor house, you might be surprised to discover that backing favs trained by Hughie Morrison is actually a profitable venture.

Blindly backing such runners has turned a profit in 10 of the last 12 years and since the start of 2011 (having made a loss in 2010!), those favs are 142/411 (34.6% SR) for 33.8pts (+8.2% ROI), from which the last five years have seen 89 winners from 253 (35.2%) for 29.3pts (+11.6%) profit including...

  • in handicaps : 61/189 (32.3%) for 26pts (+13.7%)
  • female runners are 36/101 (35.6%) for 13.5pts (+13.4%)
  • female handicappers are 24/72 (33.3%) for 12.14pts (+16.9%)
  • and female handicappers on the A/W are 13 from 33 (39.4%) for 7.27pts (+22%)

...pointing to... a 1pt win bet on Boscastle @ 3/1 BOG, as offered by Betfair, Paddy Power & SkyBet at 5.35pm on Sunday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 5.15 Wolverhampton

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

SotD Update, 26th November to 1st December 2018

I said last week..."I'm going to need 3 winners to make November profitable. That's going to be a tall order, but I'll certainly be giving it a go."... I certainly can't be accused of not giving it a go or getting close, but ultimately I failed in the quest. Damn you November!

What it meant that 4 winners from 25 was a couple shy of where we needed to be to at least break even and although I'm not one to make excuses/blame others etc, I'm still encouraged by the fact that 15 of the 25 (ie 60%) of the picks were placed in the first three with 8 of them finishing as runners-up.

I'm not saying we were unlucky, I'm not saying we deserved more, but I am insisting we're backing the right kind of horses. The second half of this year has been the toughest I've encountered in over 30yrs of backing horses, this is borne out by others in the game also struggling. But the fact we're constantly there or thereabouts gives me the fuel to go again (and again!).

I didn't want to be going into December with a current yearly profit of just 8.75pts either, but that's where we are. So, my immediate aim is to ensure profit for the year and then to try and add as many points to the bottom line as possible in the hope/belief that 2019 will be better!

Selections & Results : 26/11/18 to 01/12/18

26/10 : Val Mome @ 5/1 BOG 2nd at 11/4
27/10 : Ecu de la Noverie @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 11/2
28/10 : Theflyingportrait @ 5/2 BOG WON at 9/4
29/11 : Livvy's Dream @ 4/1 BOG 7th at 2/1
30/11 : Kupatana @ 11/4 BOG 2nd at 9/4
01/12 : Speedo Boy @ 4/1 BOG 3rd at 9/2

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26/11/18 to 01/12/18 :
1 winning bet from 6 = 16.66% SR
P/L: -2.50pts

November 2018 :
4 winners from 25 = 16.00% SR
P/L: -7.52pts
ROI = -30.08%

2018 to date :
62 winners from 273 = 22.71% SR
P/L: +7.75pts
ROI = +2.84%

585 winners from 2155 = 27.14% S.R
P/L: +493.99pts
ROI: +22.92%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is here.

Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are now available here.

Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here

And here is the full story from 2017.

Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take the plunge and get involved right now?

Click here for more details.

Monday Musings: Almond’s Japan Cup Record

Early yesterday evening I was flicking through the channels and was slightly surprised to land on Eurosport’s showing a recording of the closing stages of the Japan Cup, run overnight in Tokyo, writes Tony Stafford. The winner was named as Almond Eye and my ears pricked up when the announcer related that the race had been run “in record time”.

In the matter of such eventualities, I immediately did some research and found that Almond Eye, a three-year-old filly, making only her fifth career start, was a 2-5 chance defending an unbeaten record in a 14-runner field. In the 38th running of Japan’s most celebrated race, she sliced 1.5 seconds off the previous best time, set in 2005 by the Frankie Dettori-ridden and Luca Cumani-trained Alkaased.

I was interested in how Capri had done but sadly the 2017 St Leger winner’s truncated season did not end on a high note. Only a few Europeans have managed victory. In its third running, 1983, Epsom-based jockey Brian Rouse won aboard the Frank Dunne-trained and family-owned Stanerra.

That well-travelled mare also collected a couple of times at Royal Ascot for her Irish connections, owners of Dunnes Stores, and previously and indeed subsequently patrons of Jim Bolger’s stable. Stanerra’s record of over-achievement from her small private yard also included an Ascot track record.

Still early in the Cup’s history, Clive Brittain won with Lady Tavistock’s home-bred Jupiter Island, while also before the turn of the century Michael Stoute (pre-knighthood) took successive renewals (96-7) with his great middle-distance world prospectors, Singspiel and Pilsudski.

Clearly it takes a decent horse to win the Cup. Alkaased was a hard-knocking five-year-old when holding off the very talented Heart’s Cry and Christophe Lemaire by a head in a race where the four-year-old filly Ouija Board finished only fifth. That great Ed Dunlop trainee returned a year later to record a highly-creditable third to Deep Impact, the outstanding stallion in Japan over the past decade and sire of Saxon Warrior.

In his turn, Deep Impact is a son of Sunday Silence, horse of the year in the US in 1989, but denied the Triple Crown the previous year by career-long rival Easy Goer, with an eight-length defeat in the 1988 Belmont Stakes after his own narrow victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

I had the good fortune to visit Japan in 1992 and that trip included a trip to Shadai Farm in Hokkaido where we saw Sunday Silence just before the momentous stud career which transformed Japanese racing and breeding. The son of Halo, another great, Sunday Silence died in the same year, 2002, in which Deep Impact was foaled.

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My itinerary also took in visits to Tokyo for the Cup, and Hanshin racecourse near Osaka for an international jockeys’ event at which Pat Eddery was among the contestants. My Tokyo tour included a stop off at the office of Mitsuoko Haga, owner of the great Michael Kauntze-trained filly Kooyonga, who had been an intended runner in the Cup until her form tailed off at the end of that season. Mr Haga, a golf course developer at the time of spectacular growth in the sport in Japan, had a window in his office in which Mount Fuji was perfectly framed.

I was intrigued by the Almond Eye time, as to take a full one per cent, one and a half seconds, off 142.1sec seemed quite excessive. We get used to shaving rather than slicing. I wondered whether the components of Almond Eye’s pedigree offer the clue. I have a friend who believes emphatically that the dam is at least as important as the sire, and as he has only three horses and two of them are the high-class pair Spark Plug and Raheen House, it is easy to listen to his opinion at least.

Almond Eye’s dam Fusaichi Pandora also ran in the 2006 race won by Deep Impact and like him is by Sunday Silence, indeed they were among six by him in that 11-horse field. Fusiachi Pandora ended her career in the corresponding race a year later, finishing unplaced behind Admire Moon and retiring with a career tally of two wins in 12 starts, all in good company.

But it is when we come to Almond Eye’s sire, Lord Kanaloa, that we strike gold. The 2008-sired son of multiple champion stallion, King Kamehameha, won nine of 13 races culminating on his final start in the 2013 Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin, beating Sole Power by five lengths.

In that far-reaching career he only once raced as far as a mile – narrowly winning the 18-runner Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen – but in first-crop product Almond Eye, he has already clearly demonstrated the ability to get his progeny to stay much further.  No wonder the filly has been promoted to the front of the Arc betting for next year.

The Japanese have had dreadful luck in that race, which was one of only two defeats for Deep Impact when he finished third – later disqualified for a banned substance – behind Rail Link and Pride but ahead of 2005 winner, Hurricane Run, in 2006. Incidentally the same Heart’s Cry, narrowly beaten in the second-fastest Japan Cup, was the only horse to defeat Deep Impact in Japan, when regular jockey Yutaka Take gave the champion too much to do in the Arima Kinen (Grand Prix).

Meanwhile, on domestic shores, I had an unusual experience at the weekend but one which still afforded me much of the excitement of a great day’s racing. Owing to a staff crisis, I was a late addition to the racecourse bookstall at Ascot, run by war hero, one-time bank official and protector of old school manners, Sir Rupert Mackeson.

Having had a few weeks when Mrs S was hampered by a broken leg and ankle, needing wheelchair accompaniment around Tesco – every little helps – and support of crutches (happily at an end) around the house, I marvel at how Rupert manages with a severe disablement caused by a broken back. His long stick, effective as a weapon when necessary, is his means of mobility, but he is still limited and further hampered by an irritating driving ban. How he can run a book stall with all the humping about, I cannot conceive, but manage heroically he does.

We had a couple of nice signings from authors of Christmas-suitable volumes, Colin Tizzard popping up on Friday to put his name to his book on Cue Card, quite a favourite, and then Henrietta Knight and David Ashforth on Saturday for their offerings respectively on The Jumping Game and Fifty Shades of Hay.

The still-hirsute Ashforth retains an impish quality far beneath his years and he – or his publisher – certainly has a gift for knowing what will stop especially ladies of a certain vintage in their tracks as they peruse the stand. Henrietta’s presence was especially valued by me as she reported on last week’s school by Ray Tooth’s Apres Le Deluge, also passing on the news that he’ll be back again for a final top up on Wednesday before next week’s hurdling debut at Exeter. Hen said: “I never bet, but I’m going to back him!” I think we should take note and don’t miss Say Nothing at Wolverhampton on Wednesday either.

Stat of the Day, 26th November 2018

Saturday's Pick was...

8.15 Wolverhampton : Fume @ 7/2 BOG 2nd at 11/4 (Chased leaders, ridden to lead inside final furlong, headed towards finish and beaten by a neck) 

Monday's pick runs in the...

2.25 Musselburgh :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


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Nice and simple today with a 5 yr old gelding who toughed it out to virtually make all when winning at Bangor two starts ago. He was then only 7th of 14 on his handicap debut at Kelso next/last time out, having weakened very badly in the closing stages from a position where he had every chance 2 out. He has, however, had a wind op since then and if that does the trick, a mark of 115 might be too low for this one.

Stat-wise, it's pretty simple as I intimated in my pre-amble : trainer Donald McCain + Musselburgh + 2012-18 = 45 from 195 (23.1% SR) for 56.1pts (+28.8% ROI), from which...

  • Class 4 runners are 21/82 (25.6%) for 51.3pts (+62.6%)
  • 2016-18 = 15/65 (23.1%) for 34.7pts (+53.4%)
  • over this 2m trip : 24/62 (38.7%) for 59.5pts (+96%)
  • 5 yr olds are 14/39 (35.9%) for 19.3pts (+49.6%)
  • and his handicap hurdlers are 6/27 (22.2%) for 26.6pts (+98.7%) since the start of 2016... us... a 1pt win bet on Val Mome @ 5/1 BOG, as offered by at least half a dozen firms at 5.30pm on Sunday evening. (extra point is available from Bet365) To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 2.25 Musselburgh

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

SotD Update, 19th to 24th November 2018

Just like the previous week, this last one has proved to be a frustrating one. Like the previous week, it was once again just a one winner from six week that has shown a loss of 1.5pts. The frustration was compounded on Saturday as those fine margins reared their ugly head again as Fume went down by just a neck.

I'm not one to lament losses, but with a touch more luck, I could well have been telling you about a great fortnight. The reality, however, is that with just five more selections left this month, I'm going to need 3 winners to make November profitable. That's going to be a tall order, but I'll certainly be giving it a go.

Selections & Results : 19/11/18 to 24/11/18

19/10 : Darksideoftarnside @ 3/1 BOG 6th at 11/4
20/10 : Too Much Too Soon @ 11/4 BOG 5th at 5/1
21/10 : Solstice Star @ 10/3 BOG WON at 7/2
22/11 : Finoah @ 10/3 BOG 3rd at 13/8
23/11 : Scented Lily @ 3/1 BOG 5th at 3/1
24/11 : Fume @ 7/2 BOG 2nd at 11/4

19/11/18 to 24/11/18 :
1 winning bet from 6 = 16.66% SR
P/L: -1.50pts

November 2018 :
3 winners from 20 = 15.00% SR
P/L: -6.02pts
ROI = -30.10%

2018 to date :
61 winners from 267 = 22.85% SR
P/L: +10.25pts
ROI = +3.84%

584 winners from 2149 = 27.18% S.R
P/L: +496.49pts
ROI: +23.10%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is here.

Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are now available here.

Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here

And here is the full story from 2017.

Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take the plunge and get involved right now?

Click here for more details.

What about wind ops?

The pursuit of optimising ability in racehorses has stepped forward in leaps and bounds through the past decade. Training methods, pharmaceuticals, and surgical intervention have all progressed apace in the quest to squeeze every drop of talent from ever more expensive thoroughbreds.

But, from a wagering perspective, these advancements are largely hidden from sight: there is no official record of injuries; training patterns are discernible only from a deep dive into the form book; and the influence of veterinary care is entirely 'black box' for the average punter.

One vulnerability in racehorses, especially in larger ones, is a difficulty breathing when under significant pressure from exercise. Technically known as DDSP (dorsal displacement of the soft palate), it is the temporary movement of a piece of fleshy tissue into an area through which oxygen flows. In other words, it causes a restriction to the amount of air a horse can breathe in during the business part of a race. Seeing as oxygen is needed to keep the muscles working, this is a bit of a problem.

Those who raced horses historically sought to address the issue via a procedure called tubing, whereby, as the name suggests, a metal tube was placed directly into the airway allowing air to bypass the obstructed area. However, tubing became outmoded with the evolution of internal surgical procedures and, in October 2012, 'tubed' horses were no longer permitted to race in Britain.

Whilst, as usual, there were derisive howls at the time - change is always greeted in such a way in the racing fraternity (and, in fairness, in most other walks of life) - the rise and rise of the 'wind op' quickly ensured that horses hindered by breathing difficulty during racing had another potential mitigant.

There is an array of possible interventions which vary in gravity; and, until the beginning of this year, the general public had no awareness as to which horses had had surgery, still less which procedure was undergone. Happily, and partly as a result of calls from the Horseracing Bettors Forum, a group attempting to improve the lot of British punters and which I currently chair, the BHA fended off the Luddite clamour from within racing to pronounce that, from January 19th, wind surgery (in its generic form) was required to be declared at the time of entering the affected horse.

There was the usual dissent from within the ranks, including from otherwise sensible and generally cautious individuals such as the excellent Gary Moore, who proclaimed, "It will be about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike, a complete waste of time."

In fairness, many of his peers took a more pragmatic stance, and punters (and breeders and other owners and trainers) have been aware of the vet's intervention for ten months now. Whilst the public is not privy to exactly which operation has transpired, it is generally reasonable to assume that the appropriate level of procedure for the affected animal has been undertaken.

So, ten months in, what do we know?

Let's start with the caveats. As mentioned, we don't know which procedure took place and, naturally, all procedures are not alike. So it may be that intervention A has a much higher success rate than interventions B or C. At time of writing, we must assume that proportionate action was taken and that the outcome of that proportionality across the impacted population is the same, by and large. That may very well not be a correct assumption, but in the land of the blind and all that...

Secondly, ten months into this new degree of awareness, we are still dealing with a relatively small sample size. From January 19th to November 18th there were 4,007 UK runs by horses which had had wind surgery. To be clear, that might be the first or 21st run after surgery. That is in the context of 79,861 total UK runs, which is as close to 5% of all runners being impacted by wind surgery at some point as doesn't matter.

On that point, a third proviso. I have yet to see two wind surgery data sources with the same numbers. We've done a good amount of work with ours, and I'm pretty confident that our data are cleaner than other sources I've seen; but it may very well not be precisely perfect. That doesn't really matter when looking for general patterns: this information will never be used to inform a life or death situation, but it may lead a punter to weight in favour of one horse over another. And it may not. The ultimate caveat is caveat emptor: your money, your choice. As always.

OK, scene set, what of the data?

Overall performance by runs since a wind op

Here is the overall picture, in terms of win strike rate by run number after wind surgery. Again, for the sake of clarity, 1 is first run after surgery, 2 is second run after surgery, and so on; 0 means the horse has not undergone wind surgery.

Win strike rate, by runs after wind surgery, all UK runners 19/1/18-18/11/18

Win strike rate, by runs after wind surgery, all UK runners 19/1/18-18/11/18

I wanted to start with a chart because I think it shows a quite interesting pattern, viz. the slow but steady improvement in the win strike rate of horses who have undergone wind surgery, up to their fifth post-surgical run.

That fifth start column looks an anomaly, and in the absence of any sensible theory to explain its high performance, I'm happy to ignore it as such.

Here is the tabular version, this time with other data elements presented:

Table view of horse performance by wind surgery run, 19/1/18-18/11/18

Table view of horse performance by wind surgery run, 19/1/18-18/11/18

It may be interesting to note that, on first run after wind surgery, while the win strike rate improves, the place rate is notably lower. Again, I'm not sure whether this is anything but an anomaly, notwithstanding that there are over 1100 runs in the sample. Generally speaking, horses who have undergone wind surgery place at a slightly higher rate than whose which have not, but not necessarily on that first run post-intervention.

In truth, what we see here is that there is little more than a marginal gain overall as a result of wind surgery. But there are just about enough data to look into sub-divisions of the superset, so let's do that.

Impact of wind surgery by race code

The first cut of the data I'd like to review is by race code and, specifically, comparing flat races with jumps races. Now, check this out:


The starting point - left hand side - of the line is the control, i.e. no wind surgery for the horse. National Hunt (NH) horses strike at a slightly higher rate generally because NH races have fewer runners generally. But look how the lines diverge as they move away from the control.

The orange line, representing performance by number of runs since wind surgery in flat races, gets progressively worse and never out-performs the 'no intervention' control group during up to four subsequent starts.

Conversely, the blue line shows that the impact of wind surgery on National Hunt runners is increasingly positive up to the fourth run subsequently (and indeed beyond, not shown here).

The pattern of the data is clear but explaining it is less straightforward. My best guesses are that a) the selected interventions on flat horses are of the more cosmetic type, or at least at the lower end of the range of procedures available; and/or b) that wind surgery in flat horses is a 'desperation measure' when an exasperated - and doubtless notably less wealthy than pre-purchase - owner has exhausted all 'homeopathic' options.

I couldn't say that either of those theories is credible, and perhaps you have an alternative to throw into the mix. If so, do please leave a comment below to that effect.

Impact of wind surgery by length of layoff

One dissection which could shed some light on the severity of intervention is days since a run, the theory being that the longer the layoff the more pronounced the procedure. There are, of course, many reasons for time off, notably the changing of the seasons and summer/winter breaks (the most obvious and opportune time to intervene in this way), but it is still worth reviewing the numbers.

In this case, I am interested specifically in W1, that first start after surgery, and how it compares with horses running off a similar layoff but without ever having had wind surgery.

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Comparison of flat to NH, W0 to W1, by time off course, UK 19/1/18-18/11/18

Comparison of flat to NH, W0 to W1, by time off course, UK 19/1/18-18/11/18

The above, slightly confusing, table allows for comparisons between various things. The data are broken down by race code and length of time off, and includes only horses which are having their first run post-wind surgery (W1) or which have never had wind surgery (W0). As can be seen, there are some very small sample sizes here, so additional caution is advised.

Looking first at the 'Flat W0' group - horses running on the flat which have never had declared surgical intervention - we can see that horses returning to the track within two months of their last run (Flat W0 0-60) fare a lot better than flat runners laid off for longer. That is consistently true for both win and place, the win element reflected in a positive impact value of 1.06.

Comparisons with the flat W1 group are tenuous due to the tiny samples in that set but, for what it's worth, there does appear to be a contrast, especially in the 0-60 window. Horses returning to the track within 60 days after wind surgery on the flat have significantly lower win and place percentages. The flat W1 61-120 group offers mixed messages, but using the slightly larger body of place evidence suggests that these runners are also under-performing.

But look at the longer layoff W1 flat horses - those absent for four months or more - and you'll note that there are across the board improvements on their W0 counterparts, albeit that the 180+ place numbers are the same.

If any conclusions can be drawn from that, and I am unconvinced that they can at this stage, it might be that the impact of (presumed, based on length of absence) minor wind surgery on flat horses is somewhere between neutral and negative.

With National Hunt horses, where there has been no wind surgery, we can see that the longer the layoff the less likely a horse is to win: horses backing up a run within four months having an impact value of about 1.04, whereas those returning after four to six months off drop to an IV of 0.97, and those absent for six months-plus are at 0.9 in IV terms.

Compare that high to low trend line with the National Hunt W1 runners, and we get an interesting - if less clear - pattern. Like their flat counterparts, the W1 quick returners win less often than the W0 quick returners; but, thereafter, those returning after a breathing operation out-perform those that are not.

The sample sizes are small here, and I don't think there is any confident inference to be drawn.

Impact of wind surgery by race class

Is it possible that horses running in a given race class fare better than others? Could such action allow classier horses to prevail more often, or is it more likely to positively impact low grade animals? Or does race class have no bearing?


On very limited sample sizes, it seems that there is an uplift in impact value in the better races - Class 1 and 2 - and that, otherwise, impact in terms of IV is minimal. First time after wind surgery may be worth marking up in better races.

Impact of wind surgery by race distance

I wanted to look at whether the extent of the stamina test faced by a horse, as opposed to more of a speed test, would be material from a wind surgery perspective. In the below, I've grouped all runs post-intervention as W+, and compared it with the W0 control once more. I've also broken down by flat and National Hunt, flat W+ tables first.

Performance of "W+" horses on the flat, by race distance and race distance group, 19/1/18-18/11/18

Performance of "W+" horses on the flat, by race distance and race distance group, 19/1/18-18/11/18

This is a deeply inconclusive set of figures, the comparison with W0 runners bearing that out below. That said, it may be reasonable to argue that flat horses running beyond a mile derive more benefit from wind surgery than those racing at shorter distances.


Perhaps the NH perspective will shed a little more light:

Performance of W+ horses in National Hunt races, by distance

Performance of W+ horses in National Hunt races, by distance


That's more like it. The race distance Impact Value comparison between W+ and W0 horses articulates the point more succinctly.


The blue bars represent the performance of National Hunt runners whose wind has been declared as addressed at some point. They have a performance edge, in terms of Impact Value, at least up to about three and a quarter miles. After that, the data are as inconclusive as they are sparse.


Impact of wind surgery by trainer

Some trainers are keener on wind surgery than others, though that may be on the 'off chance' it might eke out an iota of improvement rather than based on a deep consideration of the particular horse. This table shows all subsequent runs by horses since they first had officially declared wind surgery (i.e. W+).

W+ performance by trainer, 20+ runs, sorted by Impact Value

W+ performance by trainer, 20+ runs, sorted by Impact Value


As can be seen, Nicky Henderson appears somewhat selective with his use of breathing intervention, thus far at least; whereas others, perhaps notably Dan Skelton, are more inclined to tweak. In Dan's defence, plenty of his horses have run multiple times - he'd be far more of a campaigner than Henderson for example - and, furthermore, the results Skelton has achieved from his wind op runners are excellent, particularly so given his is more than twice the next biggest sample size in the set.

Looking only at W1-W4, and 15+ runs to qualify a trainer into the table, gives us this:

Performance by trainer, 1st four runs after a wind op, 15+W1-4 runners only

Performance by trainer, 1st four runs after a wind op, 15+W1-4 runners only


These tables are presented 'as is', readers invited to consider their content for themselves.

Please keep in mind that the sample sizes are tiny and have every chance of not being replicated in the future. Nevertheless, they at least offer a flavour of which handlers (or their owners) might be keenest to explore the procedural route. Further, there may be a note of caution around trainers whose overall performance is significantly better than that of their runners in this context.



This article contains a lot of words, numbers, tables and charts but, ultimately, very few solid conclusions.

Perhaps the most reliable takeaway is that wind surgery does appear to be more effective in the National Hunt sphere than on the flat, and that there may be an increase in performance from first to second, second to third, third to fourth, and fourth to fifth runs post-surgery over jumps. Maybe also that horses returning from a 60+ day layoff (and likely a more material intervention) are more likely to benefit from the W1.

Again, these are not confident inferences from the data, nor are they a route to blind profit; which solitary data element is? The key here is to understand the general impact of a factor and to incorporate it into your betting.

Blindly backing W1 or W2 or W3 or W4 or W5 runners will send you skint as sure as night follows day; but knowing that in some circumstances those runners may be expected to demonstrate a small uplift on previous performance levels is a powerful insight which can contribute to improving your bottom line.

We are a mere ten months into this project - what has happened for years can be quantified now for the first time - and there remain insufficient data to take unequivocal positions; but some clear patterns are emerging. The savvy bettor will keep them in mind.

- Matt Bisogno


p.s. this article was researched using Geegeez Gold's Query Tool. It is available to Gold subscribers as a part of your existing subscription. Moreover, all users have access to extensive notation of wind surgery on our racecards. Here is an example of a horse having its fifth run post-wind surgery. To access racecards click here. To take a trial of Geegeez Gold, click here.

2018/19 Jumps Season: Four Things to Note

The National Hunt season, official or ‘proper’, has a number of starting points but the Morgiana card at Punchestown seems to represent as good a beginning as any, writes Tony Keenan. This year, however, things may not get going until we receive a substantial blast of rain and, with some forecasts suggesting that may be coming this week, now seems a reasonable time to set the scene for four story lines set to unravel over the next five and a half months.

  1. Rachael Blackmore, Record Breaker

Rachael Blackmore is already a record breaker: her 56 winners thus far in 2018/19 are far ahead of the previous best tally in a season by a female rider, Nina Carberry’s 39 winners in 2009/10. That is comparing apples and oranges, however, as Carberry was an amateur and limited in terms of the number of rides she could take, though that brought some advantages too: she generally only took a mount when it had at least some chance of success.

Blackmore hasn’t always had that luxury and as recently as last season was taking rides wherever she could find them. Consider the final table in the jockeys’ championship from last season with the added column of number of trainers ridden for:


Jockey Winners Rides Yards ridden for
D. Russell 119 588 56
P. Townend 83 419 65
J. Kennedy 63 325 26
R. Walsh 61 214 22
S. Flanagan 59 514 84
P. Mullins 54 155 22
M. Walsh 51 378 56
A. Lynch 39 591 104
R. Power 38 307 42
Danny Mullins 35 431 94
R. Blackmore 34 375 88


There are a few points of interest here.

First, Andrew Lynch continues to be one of the hardest working riders in racing, breaking three figures in terms of different stables ridden for, while at the other end of the spectrum, neither Ruby Walsh nor Patrick Mullins take many outside rides, relatively speaking. Jack Kennedy also rode for a surprisingly small number of other yards. But Blackmore is right up there in terms of yards ridden for, third overall to Lynch and Danny Mullins of the top 11.

That shows willingness to graft but her endgame is to reach a stage where she doesn’t have to do that so much and instead gets on better horses for the top yards; with Gigginstown giving her plenty of opportunities already and a link-up with Willie Mullins too, that point may not be far away.

Winning the jockeys’ title will be difficult but it is not the 100/1 chance that Paddy Power rated her back at the end of August, that company now having her at 9/2. A more realistic aim in the short-term might be a Grade 1 and/or Cheltenham Festival winner. Nina Carberry was the first female jump jockey to win a Grade 1 in the UK and Ireland when taking the Champion Bumper at Punchestown in 2006, a feat she repeated in 2007. Lizzie Kelly was the first woman to win a Grade 1 chase  in the UK and Ireland when Tea For Two won the 2015 Kauto Star Novice Chase and the same horse gave her another in the 2017 Aintree Bowl. Since then, Bryony Frost won the same Kempton race on Black Corton last season.

Carberry and Katie Walsh, two of the Irish jockeys Blackmore is commonly compared with, have seven and three Festival winners respectively. The first of Carberry’s wins came in the 2005 Fred Winter with the remaining six coming against amateur competition (four wins in the Cross Country, two in the Foxhunter), something Blackmore is restricted from. Meanwhile, Walsh won both County Hurdle and a Champion Bumper, races that might be just up Blackmore’s street given the numbers Willie Mullins tends to throw at them.


  1. Ruby at the last, part two

Ruby Walsh coming off horses at the final obstacle is becoming a thing again but part of that is the narrative: of the ten mounts he has fallen or unseated from in 2018, only two were at the last but they were in consecutive races at Naas recently. That eight of those ten rides were sent off favourite means his spills inevitably attract more attention than any other rider but what is clear is that Walsh has fallen or unseated off a far greater percentage of his mounts this year than previously. The figures below take in his rides in all National Hunt races in the UK and Ireland by calendar year.


Year Falls/Unseats Mounts Fall/Unseat Rate
2011 25 472 5.3%
2012 29 583 4.9%
2013 28 537 5.2%
2014 13 249 5.2%
2015 18 430 4.1%
2016 20 385 5.2%
2017 19 366 5.2%
2018 10 69 14.5%


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A large part of this is just messing around with numbers; this season’s figures represent a small sample size and it is highly unlikely that he finishes 2018 with such a high rate though there isn’t much of the year left. What is interesting is that his fall/unseat rate is so consistent throughout his career, and even looking back as far as 2003 he only once went over 5.9% for a full year.

Over that period it is also notable that not once between the years of 2003 and 2009 did he take fewer than 700 rides; since than he has only gone over 500 mounts twice. Part of that is injury, part of it is reduced workload after he left Paul Nicholls in 2013, and part of it is also choice.

If the past few weeks are anything to go by, those choices are going to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the winter. Already we have seen Walsh opt not to ride the beginners’ chases over the weekend of November 10th and 11th nor did he ride Kemboy or Camelia De Cotte over fences at Clonmel last Thursday. He also bypassed possible mounts in the Florida Pearl Novice Chase on Sunday, one of which included the winner Some Neck, ahead of Faugheen running the Morgiana Hurdle.

All of this might help Walsh’s longevity but one thing the past few weeks have shown us is that it is difficult to predict when a chaser might fall; even the best jumper, or what might have appeared the best jumper, can fall as was the case with Footpad. There is such a degree of randomness in fallers that not even one of the greatest jumps jockeys may be able to predict them.


  1. Festivals, festivals, everywhere

2018 will be remembered as a year without a spring - where winter, with the help of Storm Emma, stretched out through April and then everything turned balmy in May. That meant that all of the spring festivals were run on soft ground and we also had a new meeting, the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, to kick the whole thing off.

Such festival races, often run at a strong gallop, take plenty out of horses and there was a trainers’ title on the line too, Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott taking each other on with more frequency than might typically have been the case as the battleground moved from Leopardstown to Cheltenham then back to Fairyhouse and Punchestown.

I made it 24 horses that took in all three of Cheltenham, Fairyhouse and Punchestown with the list as follows: Getabird, Sharjah*, Pietralunga, High School Days, Invitation Only*, Al Boum Photo*, Dounikos*, Shattered Love, The Storyteller*, Blow By Blow, Outlander*, Tycoon Prince*, Josies Orders, Cut The Mustard, Dawn Shadow, Squouateur*, Bleu Berry, Scarpeta, Duc Des Genievres*, Real Steel*, Barra*, Let’s Dance, Augusta Kate and C’est Jersey. [The ones with an asterisk also ran at Leopardstown so may have had an extra-hard time of things].

Of those 24 horses, 13 were trained by Mullins, eight by Elliott and three by others which, to my mind, is clear evidence of Mullins being affected by Elliott: five seasons ago, when his title was not under threat, there is no way Mullins would have run his horses so frequently. It will be fascinating to see how this cohort of horses does in 2018/19 and while in some ways it was entirely natural for them to run in these races, it may not have been beneficial that they ran in all of them.

Each will need to be judged on a horse-by-horse basis and while the likes of Sharjah were able to bounce back and win not only a Galway Hurdle but a Morgiana, others tailed off completely. Dounikos, for instance, was pulled up at Cheltenham, Fairyhouse and Punchestown while Scarpeta ran a really promising race in the Neptune but didn’t build on it at all afterwards and finished up his season getting beaten at 2/5 on the flat.


  1. Mullins, Elliott and the rest

The emergence of Mullins and Elliott as super-trainers has been felt in every aspect of the Irish national hunt scene but nothing has been altered more than the graded race landscape. Consider where we were in 2010/11. That season, there were 99 graded non-handicaps jumps races run in Ireland. Willie Mullins had 88 runners and Noel Meade was next with 44 out of a total of 717 runners, their combined percentage coming out at 18.4%. 148 different trainers had runners while 40 had a graded winner.

Compare that to the last three seasons:


Season Total Runners Mullins and Elliott Runners Mullins/ Elliott

Percentage of Runners

Individual Yards with a Runner Individual Yards with a Winner
2015/16 615 223 36.2% 106 28
2016/17 683 291 42.6% 110 18
2017/18 712 366 51.4% 90 13


Last season may prove an aberration in terms of number of yards that managed a graded winner as already in 2018/19, 12 different yards have won such a race, among them some unexpected names like Iain Jardine, Colin Kidd, Aidan Howard and Gavin Cromwell. Gordon Elliott, surprisingly, has only won one graded race to this point in the season, the Lismullen Hurdle with Apple’s Jade.

There was a time when a win or two in such a race would sustain a smaller yard for the season but now they are struggling to even manage a runner; we are in a very different place to 2015/16, much less 2010/11.

- Tony Keenan

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