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.

Wind Ops, and Win Lots!

A quick round up this morning, featuring two things: wind surgery notifications, and a brilliant prize tipping competition...

Wind Surgery Notifications

First, as you may have heard/seen already, horses having their first run since a wind surgery procedure will be denoted as such on racecards from today. Our own notation will be as follows:

Wind surgery since last run shown as W1

Wind surgery since last run shown as W1

We will further have W2, W3, W4, and W5+ to denote that a procedure was carried out two, three, four or five-plus starts back. And if a horse has a further procedure subsequently, that will 'reset the clock' to W1 again.

The horses in question today are:

Dancing Amy 1.45 Musselburgh
Alberobello 3.20 Chepstow
Dr Hooves 4.00 Musselburgh
Wimpole 4.00 Musselburgh

And we'll also be storing that info in our database so, down the line, you'll be able to learn about trainers and sires who a) invoke such a procedure most frequently and b) have more or less success with that approach.

Another thing to say on wind surgery notifications, which I hope will be obvious. This is NOT going to be a silver bullet for punters: quite apart from anything else, if it was then the edge would last for all of five minutes before the odds line moved to incorporate it.

No, happily, it will be the sort of thing that the clued in - that is, geegeez visitors and the like - will benefit from by understanding the nuances just beneath the surface. I'm sure we'll cover the implications of this information in six months or so's time.

Finally, I'd like to tip my hat to Horseracing Bettors' Forum, on which I sit, for making this happen. HBF surveyed the betting public over a year ago and the number one requested new data item was notification of wind operations. We've worked with the BHA - who deserve huge credit for pushing this through against a backdrop of extreme reluctance from trainers, owners and breeders - to get it delivered.

No change happens fast in the world of horseracing, and very little change has happened period under previous administrations. The current setup seems more go ahead, has more buy in from its tripartite stakeholders, and is quietly achieving a lot in spite of the occasional own goal along the way.

 

Win VIP Tickets to Chelt-ing-ham!

As you may have noticed, we've begun to step up our coverage of the Cheltenham Festival 2018 this week. As well as the first antepost preview - for the Champion Hurdle, here - there's also a microsite (that is, a page from which you can click to other Chelto-related content).

The Cheltenham microsite is here, and a link to it can be found in the main menu.

One of the great things about the Fez is that bookmakers see it as THE shop window for horseracing. Unlike the Nash (Fez, Nash... must stop these nasty bastardizations of convenience!), which attracts millions of once-a-year punters whose repeat business cannot be relied upon, the Cheltenham Festival is seen by both the sport and those who take bets on it as an opportunity to bring new fans to our great game.

Your first 30 days for just £1

That's why the bookies dangle carrots at this time like no other period in the year. Already we're seeing Non Runner No Bet concessions in place, even in races which look as though they'll cut up dramatically. Why? Bookies want your money in their satchel. It's a win-win.

Anyway, a few savvy operators are engaging punters further out than normal and offering some excellent reasons to get involved. One such is racebets, who have a brilliant 'Chase To Cheltenham' tipping competition running between now and the Festival in mid-March.

The prizes include VIP tickets to the Festival as well as hundreds of quids in free bets.

Specifically, the top TWELVE players will win a VIP package for two on Champion Hurdle day worth £1,000. Whoooop! Yoot! Toot!

That prize includes:

  • Club Admission Ticket
  • Complimentary Bar
  • Morning Coffee and Biscuits
  • Betting Service
  • TV Racing Coverage
  • £/€10 free bet for each race
  • Official Racecard
  • Car Parking
  • Preview of each race from RaceBets expert odds compiler

Nice!

But that's not all. The next 100 players, i.e. positions 13-112 in the tipping competition, will each win a £50 betting bank to use at the Cheltenham Festival. Sweet-o! Neat-o!

And wait, there's more! In each round - there are 17 left to play, you need to play at least five to have a chance of the big prizes - there is a £50 prize for the top points scorer. [A round consists of six races where you have to predict the winner].

Still there's more... if you don't win the round but you do beat the bookie's round score, you'll get a £10 free bet to use. You could finish second last as long as the bookie's score is last, and you'll get a £10 free bet!

So, as you can see, it's worth playing.

How to enter?

To enter you need to read the details on this page, and familiarize yourself with the rules. To qualify for the game, players must bet £10 across the six races in the round. This could be a single £10 bet on one race, or 6 x £1.70, or whatever.

Additionally, if you don't currently have a racebets account, as well as a 100% first deposit match (up to £50, enter code WELCOME when you sign up), you'll also be entered into a draw to win one of three more sets of VIP tickets for Day One of the Cheltenham Festival. Click here to register an account and get entered into the draw.

There are some really excellent prizes on offer, which may not take a huge amount of winning... so get involved!

Champion Hurdle Preview, Trends, Tips: Cheltenham Festival 2018

Champion Hurdle Preview, Trends, Tips: Cheltenham Festival 2018

It's now just two months until the tapes rise on the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, so it's high time we had a look for some betting value in the antepost markets. The feature race on Day One, Tuesday, is the Unibet Champion Hurdle, a Grade 1 run over just beyond two miles. Lasy year's Champion Hurdler, Buveur D'Air, is a strong favourite to retain his crown, but is his odds-on quote justified? Let's take a look...

Champion Hurdle 2018 Trends

Age

Five-year-old Katchit in 2008 was the first of his age group to win this race since See You Then in 1985. None has won since, from 27 to try, though Celestial Halo and Binocular did round out the trifecta behind Punjabi the following year. Another year later, Zaynar ran third for the five-year-olds but, since 2010, just Countrywide Flame has hit the board.

Defi De Seuil, sixth in the betting, is the most high profile five-year-old in the antepost lists, though his participation is subject to an improved performance after flopping on his sole start this season (stable was in poor form at the time).

At the other end of the spectrum, those aged in double digits are 0 from 21 since 1997, though venerable veterans Hurricane Fly and My Tent Or Yours made the frame since 2015. The last double-digit aged winner was Sea Pigeon, whose second victory, aged eleven, came in 1981. That was 37 years ago, which is hardly a boon if you like either Faugheen, the second favourite, or My Tent Or Yours, fifth market choice.

A focus on six- to nine-year-olds would have found all bar one of the winners in the last thirty years, but is a statistic which eliminates three of the top six in the current betting.

 

Last Time Out

Champion Hurdlers tend to be winners. Obvious, right? Indeed, 16 of the last 20 winners also triumphed on their previous racecourse appearance, from 106 runners. There were 269 horses line up in those twenty renewals, meaning 39.4% of all runners won last time. And yet they accounted for 80% of the winners, and 60% of the placed horses.

If you want to go off road a little, look also to those who finished second last time. They accounted for two of the remaining four victories since 1997 (10% of the wins) from 20% of the runners. Not so hot, but the winning pair were 11/1 Rock On Ruby and 33/1 Hardy Eustace, which would have squirreled the bank out even at Betfair Starting Price.

Still, it's best to focus exclusively on last day winners. As things stand, of the remaining three in the top six of the betting, only Buveur D'Air won last time. This can, and probably will, change between now and March, so tread carefully.

 

Key Trials

The Ryanair Hurdle, run over Christmas at Leopardstown, has been a key trial in recent seasons, seven Champion Hurdle winners emerging from the race since 2000 to take Festival honours at Cheltenham. This season, with Faugheen pulling up, it was left to Mick Jazz to see off Cilaos Emery.

Kempton's Christmas Hurdle has been a solid pointer too, with this season's festive showpiece falling to Buveur D'air who saw off The New One.

The other kingmaker race is the Irish Champion Hurdle, which will be run at the beginning of next month. Most of that race's Champion Hurdle highlighting lustre comes from Brave Inca and especially Hurricane Fly in recent times.  Faugheen is slated for a bid to redeem his reputation in the race so it will make for interesting viewing and can be expected to have a bearing on the Champion Hurdle market.

 

Champion Hurdle 2018 Form Preview

So much for the trends, which seem to put a line through all of Buveur D'air's main market rivals leaving him home free on paper. But, of course, the Champion Hurdle isn't run on paper, and thank the moon and the stars for that. Still, let's consider the compelling case for the jolly before engaging in the potential folly of trying to get him beaten.

Buveur D'Air is unbeaten in most of two years, since running third to Altior and Min in the 2016 Supreme Novices' Hurdle. He's won eight on the bounce now, including last year's Champion Hurdle, and he's not been seriously tested. His official mark of 169 is clear of all bar the historical perch of Faugheen, a figure that one hasn't run to for two years. The seven year old is in the prime of his life, has seemingly had an uninterrupted preparation and, while a mooted trip to Ireland for the Irish Champion Hurdle at the beginning of February may be wide of the mark, he could have another spin before the Festival.

Trying to find reasons to oppose Buveur D'Air is tricky, still more so if taking slightly shorter with the Non Runner No Bet (NRNB) concession. If he gets to the starting line without a hiccup, he is by far the most likely winner. If I was picking holes - or trying to, at least - you could argue his rider asked for a very bold leap at the last in the Christmas Hurdle, a risky tactic. The converse is that the horse responded gamely and cruised away from standing dish, The New One.

It is probably unfair to measure Nicky Henderson's hotpot by the horses in his immediate aftermath - you can only beat what shows up, after all. And B d'Air has mocked not just The New One but also My Tent Or Yours (twice) and Irving in four back-to-back Grade 1 wins. That trio are all card-carrying veterans and are surely susceptible to a younger, more upwardly mobile racer albeit that such a type would be mobilizing from a lower ability base.

I want to be against Faugheen. Another of the double-digit brigade, he's been seen on the track just twice in the last two years, most recently when pulling up for no obvious reason. True, prior to that he hinted at the retention of the terrific talent he formerly possessed; but that was in duffing up a couple of 155 horses, both of whose marks may be considered slightly dubious at that level.

He just has a heck of a lot to prove, and at a top price of 5/1 is no value to do so. It would be genuinely fantastic to see him back to his best but it is very hard to imagine that he's a tight single figure chance of winning the Champion Hurdle in two months time. 3/1 NRNB could be excusable, depending on what shows up for the Leopardstown race. If it's a decent field and Faugheen wins, he'll be shorter and deservedly so. If he gets beaten, that will very likely be that and money back. Although it's hardly romantic, I fear the latter outcome. Either way, he's too risky a proposition at the price at this stage.

A couple of Mullins subs are next in the market. Melon is a weird one. I can only imagine he works like an absolute tank at home, because his form simply does nothing to vindicate a quote of 8/1 best. The only race he's won since a maiden hurdle this time last year was a weak Grade 2 at Down Royal, where he was roughly the same distance in front of Coquin Mans as Jezki was the time before. And he was in receipt of three pounds!

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In three defeats around that hollow triumph he's run behind Labaik, Cilaos Emery and My Tent Or Yours (and The New One). I genuinely honestly for the life of me cannot fathom how that is possibly the profile of a single figure chance in a Champion Hurdle, even as shallow a heat as this looks.

If he dots up, fair enough, but it would have to be a major step forward from a rating of 159, which looks generous already.

More interesting, much more interesting, is Yorkhill. 12/1 in the all in run or not books, he's as short as 4/1 NRNB. That differential is explained by the fact he's been chasing for the last season and a bit. As unconvincing over a fence as he can be, he's still managed to win the JLT Novices' Chase at last year's Cheltenham Festival and, before that, the Neptune at the previous year's Festival.

If Faugheen was withdrawn from consideration, Yorkhill is a rock solid deputy, assuming he can still make a hurdling shape. Actually, thinking about it, that's what he's done over plenty of the steeplechase fences he's traversed! Again here, NRNB is the only route in. 5/1 with that money back concession is as close to an each way bet to nothing as is conceivable. Unsexy in the extreme, and probably the sort of play that gets your account restricted, it is very difficult to see him out of the frame if he turns up. But do not be suckered into the 12/1 on offer. He's more likely than not to run in a different race: 12/1 on an un-refunded non-runner won't get the pulse racing!

My Tent Or Yours is 16/1, 12/1 NRNB, and to be honest that's fair enough. Now eleven, he can't possibly win the race, but it's such a weak field that he could sneak into the frame. His form is closely tied in with The New One, another whose overall profile is the same: cannot win, probably runs with merit in defeat. Nigel Twiston-Davies' unfairly maligned warrior - he is a millionaire, after all - may take a different path this term in any case.

A horse I took a punt on in the early part of the season, before he flunked badly, was Defi De Seuil. He was the lad whose form lines were not already demonstrably below those of Buveur D'Air, and who could have conceivably developed into a genuine contender. But then he ran as flat as a pancake on his first and only run so far this season. Very little has come to light since, except the poor form of the Philip Hobbs yard during that part of the season.

He'd probably need to win the Irish Champion Hurdle to book his Chelto ticket and, assuming Buveur D'Air no shows, he has his chance. I've not given up all hope yet. Just most of it!

Wicklow Brave was only seventh in last year's Champion and has been globetrotting on the flat largely since, though his final hurdle run was a defeat of My Tent Or Yours in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle last April. He won't be winning at Cheltenham first time up though, and hasn't got any entries at this stage.

Min is quite interesting. As big a Supreme hype horse as Melon a year before, he ran a better race than that one to split the peerless Altior and Buveur D'air. He's won three of his four chase starts since then, but it was a big shock when he got turned over by Simply Ned at Leopardstown at Christmas. In the same ownership as Faugheen, he's another Mullins horse that could be diverted to this race. As such, he's another where the 16/1 NRNB is disproportionately more attractive than the 25/1 all in quote. After all, he's one of only two horses to beat Buveur D'Air. Moreover, the reverting from fences to hurdles route has been taken by both Rock On Ruby and Buveur D'Air himself since 2012.

Apple's Jade would be interesting if she came this route, but is far more likely for the Mares' Hurdle; Mick Jazz was the main beneficiary of Faugheen's flop last time but his overall form isn't in the same parish; Ch'Tibello wasn't too far behind My Tent but gets a bit outpaced on quicker ground; and before you know it, it's 50/1 your choice.

 

Champion Hurdle 2018 Tips

There are still a number of trials to be run, time enough for horses to shine a light on their credentials. But, as things stand, it is very (very!) hard to see past BUVEUR D'AIR. I can also confirm that night should follow day later, and that it will be February after January... So far, so bleedin' obvious.

Where, then, is the leftfield play? Well, this looks a superb 'without the favourite' race, and I'll be paying close heed to that market when it's eventually priced up. For now, however, we can do no better than muck about with the the Non Runner No Bet concessions.

In that context, Yorkhill is bombproof each way. He is unlikely to show up here if either Faugheen or Min do, in which case it's cash back in time for some 'without the fav' action. In the same vein, Min looks over-priced NRNB. Again, the likelihood is that we'll merely get our quids back; but, should he get the go ahead, he'll surely be a single figure price on the day.

Most likely winner (by a country mile) -

Buveur D'Air 8/13 NRNB Skybet

Best NRNB each way alternatives -

Yorkhill 5/1, Min 16/1 both Skybet (1/5 1-2-3)

 

One hit, two misses, a blast from the past…

...plus details of two special offers all come together as the backbone of the Geegeez System Trials Roundup to 16/01/2018. 

The hit?

Top Rated Runners, from the Betting Gods portfolio ended their trial with a 27.1% strike rate and a 15.4% ROI, prompting our reviewer Barry Gill to say..."It's been a steady performer and worth adding to your portfolio, so I am giving it a score of 4/5"... The full trial is right here and I'll have more to say on this one further down the page.

The misses?

Despite ending their trials in profit and showing signs of promise, we were unable to recommend either of Tom's Racing Picks or FA Racing, as their final profit figures only represented 0.97% & 0.40% ROI respectively, meaning that they wouldn't cover subscription fees adequately to be viable. We'll continue to monitor these offline, though and I'll keep you informed of their progress. Meanwhile, links to both reviews are below in our "league table".

The blast from the past?

Well, that would be the Racing Consultants service. We've actually reviewed this twice already, back in 2014 (when it made over £1000 in a 60-day trial : details here) and again in 2015 (when it made over £1000 again! : details here).

This is one of the very few commercial services that I follow with my own money and last year alone, they made 190pts profit at an ROI of 19% and I was speaking to Steve, the vendor, last week and he has agreed to give Geegeez readers a half price deal!

So, click here to get involved at £19.99 for your first month or £59.99 for your first quarter or email me/comment below for further info.

And the other offer?

Your first 30 days for just £1

That comes from current triallist Cleeve Racing (who, as you'll see below, are absolutely flying!), who normally charge £40 per month for their excellent service. However, for a short time, they are cutting the first month to just £10 for Geegeez readers signing up via this link.

Now, the fortnightly overview...

System Profit Service Days Trial days Fortnightly P/L Full Review ROI
Cleeve Racing £361.50 (at day 14) 14 £112.00 Click Here 50.20%
Horse Racing Network £277.25 (at day 46) 46 £234.25 Click Here 13.08%
Top Rated Runners £132.43 (at day 60) 60 £33.60 Click Here 15.43%
Tom's Racing Picks £22.92 (at day 60) 60 -£51.75 Click here 0.97%
First Class Fancies (WP) £13.90 (at day 39) 39 £139.92 Click Here 1.17%
FA Racing £12.96 (at day 60) 60 £70.83 Click Here 0.40%
Flat Flyers (WP) -£115.70 (at day 32) 32 -£40.00 Click Here -22.25%

As usual, clicking the name of a service takes you straight to their home page, whilst there are links to every review above.

Now, with the exception of one service, that's not a bad picture at all. The afore-mentioned Cleeve Racing lead the way on terms of both Cash profit and ROI and they're the most selective of our current triallists. They only bet on Class 1 & 2 racing, they offer a full reasoning behind every bet and even analyse some races before coming to a "no bet" conclusion.

The rest of the "league table" is fairly self-explanatory, so I'm not going to go over it in detail (I am, of course, more than happy to answer any queries, so just ask!)

So, finally, a reminder...

If you're looking to expand/enhance your portfolio, you could do a lot worse than Racing Consultants and/or Cleeve Racing. I think both are excellent value at full price, so I believe that taking up their offers is a no brainer!

So, if you're happy to take my word for it, click here for the Cleeve Racing offer and/or click here for the Racing Consultants offer. If you need more details, just ask!

All the best,
Chris

Tony Keenan: Making Racing Better in 2018

When I interviewed Ian Marmion last month, he put forward the view that racing may not have a betting product to sell punters from Monday to Friday, writes Tony Keenan. In Ireland, racing doesn’t even try to offer this at least at this point of the year when the best meetings are concentrated towards the weekend with moderate fare midweek and an all-weather card on Friday. Still, it’s disappointing for the sport as Marmion is as pro-racing as you’ll get in the bookmaking business but perhaps we have to deal with the new reality that racing is now a Festival and big day sport with day-to-day stuff being ever more marginalised.

Certainly that seems to be the idea around the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival next month but the sport’s popularity does abide as you can see from attendances at the recent Christmas meeting at Leopardstown; the challenge is getting those people following and betting on the sport in the weeks between Christmas and the next big event. The Irish racing authorities have not shown much initiative in that regard with entitlement often their default mode; that sense of ‘what are you doing for me?’ could fill an article in itself but suffice it to say that their central political objective at the moment is increasing betting tax (to be paid for by the punter, the people who you want to bet on your sport) at a time when only between 12-15% of Irish betting turnover is bet on Irish racing.

It is easy to get defeatist about all this but perhaps it is better to look for ways in which the sport could improve interest levels and in turn betting volume. In my mind, there are two standout changes that need to be made in the short-term: improving the quality of in-race viewing for TV viewers and the provision of sectional times at all tracks. The former is one for the masses, the latter more for the hard-core.

Both of these things will take money – what doesn’t? – but prizemoney is due to rise again in 2018, by €2.2 million, and one wonders if those funds might be better spent elsewhere; this is not to say that prizemoney is unimportant, on the contrary it is a tool to improve and maintain integrity, but one sometimes wonders if it is the only issue that HRI thinks matters.

Picture the scene: you’re at Leopardstown for one of their summer Thursday meetings, the evening sun is setting and there are a bunch of two-year-old fillies going to the start for a maiden. Among them are jockeys in Magnier navy, Godolphin blue and Abdullah green, pink and white, trained by O’Brien, Bolger and Weld, and there may be a 1,000 Guineas winner in amongst them. For those on the track, this is a rich visual experience with even a touch of romance to it but the problem is it doesn’t look like that at home on TV.

Instead, you have to watch the action in standard definition which will never capture the essence of the race. Sports coverage now – and I’m talking purely in terms of picture quality – needs to be of a certain standard and racing doesn’t meet it; viewers coming from other sports expect higher definition and they aren’t getting it. There was a time when we were delighted just to be able to watch every race on what is basically a free-to-air channel in AtTheRaces but there has been enough back-slapping about this and it is time to progress the raw visuals of the sport. This will cost money, likely quite a bit of money, but it would be well-spent and it should be a priority for AtTheRaces, HRI, SIS and the various tracks to work on this.

Another area of the Irish racing televisual experience that could be improved are the camera angles. My wife jokes that I spend an awful lot of time looking at horses’ arses but little does she know that is literally true when watching coverage from most Irish tracks!

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It would be bad enough if we had to put up with bad angles at provincial tracks like Tramore and Sligo alone but it is also the case when watching action from premier jumps courses like Leopardstown, Punchestown and Fairyhouse. You simply cannot gauge what is happening in the race properly when they go past the stands at Leopardstown with the way the angles are currently set up.

I admit to a complete bias towards all things time-related in racing as sectionals and time-figures are my thing, at least at the moment, as I think they provide an edge. I’m less interested in information on wind operations and horse weights but as a punter you should never be against more data. Racing is a sport that is simply made for new data points with so many novel areas that are yet to be explored. To paraphrase a commenter on a recent article on this site (Scott Ferguson), more data would lead to more systems and analysis techniques which should lead to a broader spread of bets and risk being diversified.

It was disappointing to see the reaction of a number of racing people to the decision that wind operations should be declared as their responses seemed to be self-serving, perhaps wanting the information for themselves, perhaps not wanting their star stallion prospect to be tarnished by having to declare a wind problem, perhaps simply not wanting the hassle of having to do more administration. Then there were those who argued that punters wanted the silver bullet of a wind operation declaration to solve all their betting woes, as if bettors are simply looking for a letter that points to a winner; the reality is that all information points are only part of the puzzle with the challenge becoming one of analysis more than anything.

To return to the main point, it is important to remember that sectional times were promised at all Irish tracks from January 2017 onwards and over a year on we have barely heard a thing about them. HRI could argue that there has been no clamour for them but people are not known to argue for something they don’t understand and it is only by instituting them that the understanding will come. Furthermore, this would not be a laborious process and does not necessarily need extensive GPS technology. Timeform do them manually (albeit not furlong-by-furlong) and while that may bring in some human error, staffers can get up to speed quite quickly, doing a full meeting in less than an hour, and the Irish racing calendar is hardly an arduous one. That might be a job for an intern or a new entrant at HRI though it could shine some unwanted light on rail movements that seem to appear without any details of how they affect race distances.

Anyway, those are my two, not unrealistic, hopes for Irish racing in 2018; what about yours? Leave a comment below with your own thoughts.

- Tony Keenan                                                  Follow Tony on twitter at @racingtrends

Monday Musings: RIP Bryn Crossley

Bryn Crossley, who sadly passed away this week

Bryn Crossley, who sadly passed away last week

Somebody died a week ago, writes Tony Stafford. It is not often one can say this, but the accident of our meeting made a bigger impact on the second part of my life than anything else. That person was Bryn Crossley, who was only 59 when he passed away in Spain following two seizures, the second of which proved fatal.

The news was relayed to the media by another important person in my life (and for considerably longer than Bryn), former jockey and trainer Vince Smith, who trained Richie Boy, the last horse to win in what were then mine but are now David Armstrong’s red and white colours.

Back in 1981, Geoff Huffer invited me to look after the rides for Bryn, who had joined his stable at what are now the Cheveley Park Stud premises in Newmarket. Crossley had joined the previous year after a spell with Robert Armstrong and was a 5lb claimer who could do light weights.

Very few jockeys at the time had agents but one notable exception was John Reid who had been managed by Steve Taylor of the Sporting Life for some time and with considerable success. Steve and me had two similarities, age (I believe he’s a little younger) and a North London-ish accent, as well as the newspaper connection.

One advantage for both of us was early access to information as the Press Association, my previous employer, sent out racecards for four days hence at teatime every day. We needed to prepare them by marking them up at that stage for when the overnights came through three days later, merely “knocking-out” the overnight absentees before sending them down to be “hot-metal” printed.

Having offered to find rides for the young Mr Crossley, I was dead keen to look through the Racing Calendar, which in those days came through every Thursday from Weatherbys, as it does now, but with a number of differences. Firstly, they covered races three weeks ahead and all the entries were made at that stage.

All the horses were listed and you could see from a long way off where certain trainers might well want to run. For my first look for Bryn, I targeted a race at Doncaster on the opening Saturday of the season – no all-weather in those days – and it was a three-year-old handicap. I settled on a horse trained by Ben Hanbury, called Marking Time, and had the effrontery to ring Ben that night asking if Bryn, who could do 7st3lb, could ride it if it ran. Amazingly he said it would and he could, and three weeks later it did and Bryn gave it a highly-competent winning ride.

That was the first of 45 wins in a season that would provide the cheerful young man from Prestatyn in North Wales the apprentice championship. The world should have been his oyster and after his wedding in November in Tunbridge Wells to Jaci, Monty Court wrote in the Sporting Life that he was a potential champion jockey. Sadly, that was not to be.

But merely the act of looking through that Racing Calendar and at that particular race was to have a much more telling effect on my life for the next decade at any rate.

The previous year I had got to know Sean Graham, the leading Irish bookmaker and, during a wonderful Sunday lunch at the Inn on the Park hotel at the bottom end of Park Lane and Piccadilly, he told me that he had entered an ownership venture with an up-and-coming Dublin-based trainer. Jim Bolger was the trainer and they had gone in 50-50 with ten horses. “He’s a very clever man and a brilliant trainer,” said Graham. “If you meet him, be sure to mention my name.”

Well at the foot of the handicap in which Marking Time was so well placed, there was another name, Lynconwise, trained J S Bolger, Ireland. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw it had more than a stone less than the Hanbury horse.

Rapid investigation showed he had done very little for David Morley, but at the end of the 1980 season, transferred to Bolger, he appeared in two Irish maidens – we had the Irish form book at the Daily Telegraph, I doubt the English handicapper did – and was placed behind decent animals.

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I took my life in my hands and called Jim Bolger. “Mr Bolger,” I started tentatively, “I was talking to Sean Graham and he said to mention his name if I talked to you. Well, I’ve been looking in the Racing Calendar and I think that if you were to bring your horse…” at which point I was interrupted.

“Before we go on, no names.” So obviously the old manual exchanges in Southern Ireland must have had a fair degree of leakage, enough to keep Bolger cautious. In the end we missed what was planned as a triple assault over Easter – Lynconwise had a setback, but he came for three runs over the Whitsun.

In the meanwhile I’d started speaking to Jim on a regular basis, and after his filly Condessa had run a highly-creditable race in the Lingfield Oaks Trial on Friday, I noticed later that evening that she was declared for York’s Musidora Stakes the following Tuesday. I called and asked where she was: “On the way to the ferry in Doug Francis’ wagon!” said Jim. I suggested she might be re-routed to York – “She can’t be out of the frame.” She went to York and beat the 1,000 Guineas winner Fairy Footsteps and Paul Kelleway’s good mare Madam Gay! We were pals for a while after that.

Lynconwise duly came over and went to Doncaster for a mile handicap on Whit Saturday. The weather was dreadful as I drove Bryn north from Newmarket, but as it often does, cleared ten miles from Sunny Donny. We were fourth and when Bolger called on our way back asking: “Should we bring him home?” I said “It’s pouring near Leicester, so it should be soft enough on Monday.”

Bryn was in the saddle and got down to 7st2lb – for the first of only two occasions, the other when runner-up on Harry Wragg’s three-year-old filly, Popaway, behind Lester and Popsi’s Joy in the Cesarewitch – and they careered home ten lengths clear in the bottomless ground, at 9-1!. The following day Mark Rimmer deputised as Bryn was ineligible to ride, and he won the apprentice handicap at the same track with almost equal ease under his penalty.

For the next decade, we had a great relationship with owners like Virginia Kraft Payson (St Jovite), Henryk de Kwiatkowski (owner of Danzig) and Paul Green coming Jim’s way. No doubt we would have stayed in close touch bar my capacity never to keep hold of any of the money that came into my possession, and the subsequent inability to clear a bank overdraft he had helped arrange for me.

The Bryn Crossley connection led to my contacting Huffer’s former secretary, Julia (“Tick”) Vergette, a couple of years later to enquire whether Fiefdom, which her father George trained, could be bought. He had lost his form and was miles behind in a selling hurdle over Easter immediately after my enquiry. After some negotiation with Tick, who was back home by then, I secured him for a song, sent him to Rod Simpson and he won twice after finishing fourth under Celia Radband in the Ladies race – then a non-handicap – at Ascot on King George Day.

Celia, a long-standing extra on Eastenders, recommended Fiefdom to her friends and fellow lady amateurs, Fiona and Stella Storey, as a potential jumper. This led to Wilf’s calling me one day asking if he could still be bought – another trainer had the chance but did not show with the money at the Telegraph office as arranged on the morning of his first win at Folkestone. Later, that trainer told all and sundry I’d reneged on the deal!

I told Wilf I’d be keeping him for now – he actually ran in the Ayr Gold Cup later that year, nice preparation for a jumper! – but that I would come back to him when ready. In the meantime, liking Wilf’s style and politeness, I sent him Santopadre after he was mucking about one morning on the Lambourn gallops. “Shoot him,” said Rod. He had won three times, all with plenty of office support, by the time I was ready to sell Fiefdom.

The price was reduced and later Wilf told me he had expected to receive a wreck as he’d been busy. In the end he was surprised to receive a fine, big horse, which could run off a lower jumps mark than his Flat rating rather than the more normal 40lb higher. First time he won by ten lengths from 10lb out of the handicap at Sedgefield under Kieren Teelan, well backed -  even by me - at 9-2! Afterwards the shrewd and sadly late Alan Amies said in Chaseform Note-Book – “a certainty on his recent Flat form”. Fiefdom went on to win three Ekbalco Hurdles and a host of other races for Wilf. We’ve been friends for more than 30 years since then.

As for Bryn, the catalyst for those two life-changing relationships, he and his new wife decided he didn’t need an agent – “waste of money” was the official reason – and he soon slipped into the mid-range of jockeys, despite winning the following year’s Lincoln on King’s Glory for Philip Mitchell. In all he rode 220 winners by the time he retired in 1993 to join the Godolphin work-riding team. His marriage didn’t last very long either, the first Mrs Crossley sadly soon transferring her allegiance elsewhere.

Stat of the Day, 15th January 2018

Saturday's Result :

9.15 Wolverhampton : Mouchee @ 5/1 BOG 2nd at 7/2 Held up, hampered over 7f out, headway on inside over 1f out, strong challenge inside final furlong, just failed by a nose....

We now start a new week in Monday's...

1.45 Ayr :

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.

Who?

Raised On Grazeon @ 11/4 BOG

A Class 4, 4yo+ Mares' Handicap  over 2m on Heavy ground worth £4,809 to the winner...

Why?

This 7 yr old mare has had seven top three finishes from eight starts so far with 4 such finishes in all four efforts over hurdles, including a win last time out over 2 miles on soft ground when ridden by today's jockey, Danny Cook, for the first time.

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Her trainer JJ Quinn's handicap hurdlers have been profitable to follow blindly over the last six years, winning 25 of 159 (15.7% SR) for 29.5pts (+18.6% ROI) profit, from which...

  • those racing at trips shorter than 2.5 miles are 20/97 (20.6%) for 61pts (+62.9%)
  • those who last ran 11-30 days earlier are 18/81 (22.2%) for 45.8pts (+56.6%)
  • from November to January inclusive : 9/46 (19.6%) for 16.3pts (+35.4%)
  • at Class 4 : 6/38 (15.8%) for 13.3pts (+35.1%)
  • females are 6/22 (27.3%) for 19.5pts (+88.7%)
  • and here at Ayr : 2/5 (40%) for 19.4pts (+388%)

In addition to the above, one of my saved microsystems tells me that over the last five years in UK handicap hurdle contests NOT run on Good to Firm or Firm ground, horses who won a novice hurdle race last time out 11 to 90 days earlier went on to win again on 160 of 879 (18.2% SR) occasions generating profits of 155.1pts (+17.7% ROI).

Of those 879 runners, those racing at the same class and trip as that LTO Novice hurdle win are 19/68 (27.9% SR) for 22.5pts (+33.1% ROI)...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Raised On Grazeon @ 11/4 BOG which was widely available at 7.15pm on Sunday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 1.45 Ayr

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

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, 8th to 13th January 2018

If the first week of the New Year was a bit of a disappointment (-1.3pts), then week two more than made up for it with three nicely-priced (7/1, 4/1 & 7/1 again) winners from 5 runners giving us 16pts profit for the week. Just imagine if the 5/1 Mouchee hadn't missed out by merely a nose on Saturday night!

What it all means is that with over the half of the month left to run, our worst case scenario is a loss of 0.3pts and that the service currently stands on the brink of breaking the 500pts barrier in 74 months. We did actually go beyond 500pts on Friday before Saturday's runner just missed out.

Selections & Results : 08/01/18 to 13/01/18 

08/01 : Steel Native @ 4/1 BOG non-runner
09/01 : London @ 7/1 BOG WON at 7/1
10/01 : Tb Broke Her @ 7/2 BOG WON at 4/1
11/01 : Workbench @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 13/2
12/01 : Fly Home Harry @ 5/1 BOG WON at 7/1
13/01 : Mouchee @ 5/1 BOG 2nd at 7/2

08/01/18 to 13/01/18 :
3 winning bets from 5 = 60.00% SR
P/L: +16.00pts

January 2018 :
4 winners from 10 = 40.00% SR
P/L: +14.70pts
ROI = +147.00%

Overall:
527 winners from 1895 = 27.81% S.R
P/L: +499.48pts
ROI: +26.36%

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

Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take your £1, 30-day trial right now?

Click here for more details.

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud – Flemensfirth Time

They shouldn’t be pigeon-holed as mud-lovers, but there’s no denying that Flemensfirth offspring tend to enjoy a drop of rain.

The wonderful National Hunt stallion, who stands for the Coolmore team at The Beeches stud in County Waterford, is in the midst of another stellar campaign, currently among the leading five Jumps sires when based on number of winners. A particularly wet winter is certainly aiding the ongoing success, though to be fair, it’s a while since he’s slipped out of the top six. That occurred as far back as the 2007/08 season.

By dual Arc winner Alleged, Flemensfirth was bought by Sheikh Mohammed as a yearling for $290,000 in the mid-1990s, and sent to England to be trained by John Gosden. He only had one outing as a two-year-old, when comfortably winning a maiden at Nottingham.

He won the Group One Prix Lupin early in his three-year-old campaign before finishing down the field in the Prix du Jockey Club and the St James's Palace Stakes. A mile and-a-quarter proved his ideal trip, and in the autumn he was sent back to France to win the Group Two Prix Dollar. He returned from injury a year later to capture the same race, before heading to Italy to win the Premio Roma. He retired the following year and though failing to make a mark as a sire of flat-race horses, he became hugely successful as a sire of jumpers.

His greatest success as a stallion came with Imperial Commander. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the gutsy staying chaser was twice a winner at the Cheltenham Festival. In 2009 he took the Ryanair Chase, and 12 months later captured the Gold Cup. Producing talented chasers has proved Flemensfirth’s strength. Tidal Bay won the Arkle, and later in his career the Lexus at Leopardstown. Flemenstar and Pandorama were also high-class over fences, and for a while, Time For Rupert threatened to be a star.

Pandorama rather typified the mud-loving rugged and relentless galloping progeny blueprint. A few weeks back, Emperor’s Choice did what he does best, when handling testing conditions better than the rest to win a handicap chase at Haydock. Venetia Williams’ chaser had won the Welsh National in similar conditions back in 2014.

One from the bloodline that has impressed over the winter, and shown the potential of becoming top-class, is the Fergal O’Brien-trained Poetic Rhythm. Already a Grade One winner, thanks to his success in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury, his trainer believes the win came despite testing conditions, rather than because of them. For me, he lacks gears, and his ability to cope with heavy ground will aid his progress. He’s not the biggest, but I’m still convinced that his best days are ahead of him, and when he inevitably switches to fences.

Waiting Patiently is undoubtedly one that loves testing ground, and may well be back in action this weekend at Kempton. A Grade Two winning novice last season, when defeating Politologue at Haydock, he is trained in the north by Malcolm Jefferson. He gave 6lb and a beating to Belami Des Pictons on his return at Carlisle, but coughed before an intended trip to Cheltenham last time. Undefeated over fences, his rating forces him to take a step-up in class, but with ground to suit he’ll take some beating.

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Another from the Flemensfirth line that returned to action in style, was Irish raider Coney Island. Ed Harty’s seven-year-old has looked adaptable as regards ground conditions, and was impressive when returning from injury to win at Ascot last month. As a novice chaser, he matched-up closely with Our Duke and Disko, and that sort of form suggests he’ll be a player at the Cheltenham Festival in March. As short as 10s for the ‘big one’, he’s also 16s for the Ryanair, should connections decide to follow the Imperial Commander example and choose the shorter race for his first Festival foray.

And there’s plenty more that have caught the eye in recent months. Red Rising may have lost last time at Cheltenham, but this sizeable seven-year-old, trained by Dan Skelton, will surely come into his own when sent over fences. A point-to-point winner in 2016, he’s a horse worth following when taking on the larger obstacles.

Fergal O’Brien looks to have another useful youngster in bumper winner Time To Move On. A half-brother to Barney Dwan, this five-year-old was mightily impressive on debut at Exeter when romping to victory in testing ground. He’s a big fella, and though it’s early doors, he looks a talented sort with a bright future.

Chooseyourweapon is trained by Evan Williams, and is undefeated in two starts under rules. He’s a huge unit, and was impressive in the mud at Chepstow last time. He could run in the Ballymore Novices’ at Warwick this weekend with the ground likely to be ideal. He’s still only five, and anything he does as a hurdler will surely be surpassed as a chaser.

The Tizzard’s can’t be left out, and they have their own ‘Flemensfirth with a future’, in Ainchea. The five-year-old lost out to Tikkanbar at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, though that looked a strong race. He’s another big fella that will certainly jump a fence, and looks hugely promising.

Another that shouldn’t be overlooked is the Willie Mullins-trained Invitation Only. He fell in his first attempt over fences, but was then foot-perfect when winning well at Navan in December. A possible runner at Punchestown this weekend, he’s plenty more to give, and may still progress into a top-class sort.

A word of caution with these Flemensfirth progeny. They don’t always do that well at the Cheltenham Festival in March. It’s further evidence of a soft-spot for true winter ground. The likes of Imperial Commander and Tidal Bay are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to the spring festivals. For punters, the advice is to strike now, while conditions remain in their favour.

More New Bits on Gold: Pace Granularity

As promised, we've added a couple more new bits to Geegeez Gold - with plenty more to follow in the coming weeks.

Today, I'm pleased to share with you improved pace granularity and the addition of the HCAP/ALL filter on Report Angles. Let's deal with the latter first.

Report Angles: Handicap Only option

On a number of Gold reports, including Trainer and Jockey Statistics, Trainer/Jockey Combo, and Trainer and Sire Snippets, it is possible for a user to select the data based on ALL races or handicaps (HCAP) only. Well, by surprisingly (to me, at least!) popular demand, we've added these filters to the new Report Angles feature.

PLEASE NOTE: We're aware of a problem with the Trainer Snippets HCAP options on Report Angles, and working to fix that. For now, please leave them set to ALL if you you use Trainer Snippets within Report Angles.

It looks like this:

On selected reports, you can now opt to view Angles data for handicaps only, or for all races

On selected reports, you can now opt to view Angles data for handicaps only, or for all races

 

Once you've set the angles up - don't forget to save them - you'll be able to see your chosen parameters both in your Report Angles report, and on the racecards themselves, as follows:

If you've selected HCAP on the settings page, you'll only see handicap race data on your Report Angles

If you've selected HCAP on the settings page, you'll only see handicap race data on your Report Angles

 

Report Angles appear inline on the selected race types

Report Angles appear inline on the selected race types

Your first 30 days for just £1

 

Pace Granularity

Our pace information is incredibly instructive for understanding how a race will be run. The pace maps are rarely far from what comes to pass and are a must for the serious punter. But, when it comes to understanding how the shape of today's race overlays onto history, we had hitherto adopted a 'one size fits all' approach.

That is, we lumped all races over a given course and distance combination together, regardless of whether there were five or fifteen runners; or the going was firm or heavy. Clearly that's a little too imprecise to be optimal, so we've addressed it.

From today, we have implemented going and field size ranges to better capture today's race shape against its historical precursors. The short video below explains all:

 

 

There is plenty more in the pipeline, and I look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Matt

p.s. if you have any issues with getting the new elements to work, please do consult this FAQ before contacting our support. Obviously, if you've done that and are still having problems, let us know!

Irish Point Notes 2017/18: Part 1

In the first of a series of Irish point notes, David Skelly offers his thoughts on the early weeks of the season between the flags in Ireland. Plenty of horses for the Tracker contained herein...

Week 1: Autumn point-to-point season

 8/10/2017: Castletown-Geoghegan (yield-soft)

4yo maiden:

The 2017/18 point-to-point season got off to a somewhat belated start this year and Wexford’s Colin Bowe, champion handler for the past three seasons, wasted no time in getting off the mark in the 4yo maiden with:

Napoleon Blue (Colin Bowe) by Beat Hollow 23- (R90)

He cost Bowe €18,000 as a 3yo in Goffs but was unsold last June following his placed efforts in two maidens earlier this year. Presumably, the decision to buy him back in has been rewarded with this victory although it is unclear as yet where his new home may be.

Pedigree: he is the eighth foal out of a 1992 unraced Le Bavard mare whose only winning sibling was Arthur Moore’s Torrent Bay, a useful hurdler and chaser over 2-2.5 miles in the early 90’s. Napoleon Blue’s standout pedigree listing is his half-brother Ninetieth Minute who won the 2009 Coral Cup (2m5f) at Cheltenham for Tom Taaffe.  Two other half-brothers have scored.

His sire is very interesting and could easily be missed as a potential star. Beat Hollow stood in Ireland for the first time in 2012 so these four-year-olds represent his first true National Hunt crop. A relative disappointment when standing in Banstead Manor as a flat stallion his appeal as a NH sire is clear from a 2009 foal who grew up to be Wicklow Brave. From just six runners in Irish point-to-points from his 2013 crop he has had 3 winners and two placed runners so, obviously, his entries in this sphere command the greatest respect. His flag bearers prior to Napoleon Blue have been Some Man (ran twice for Paul Nicholls) and Stay Humble who has yet to reappear.

To date the collateral form of the three races Napoleon Blue has contested does not set the pulse racing and winners of this particular maiden in the past – typified by the likes of Jack Steel - have tended to be future winners in modest handicaps, so perhaps one should not have too many ambitious hopes for Napoleon Blue. I think my personal lesson from this research is the potential of future Beat Hollow recruits to pointing.  Pat Doyle’s Southern Nights, recently second in a Dromohane maiden, may be one such nominee. It is very early days for the sire’s track runners from his first crop so I shall be watching with interest.

 

5yo maiden:

In recent seasons the older maiden has been more fruitful in terms of track winners with Baku Bay, Gowanauthat, Shanroe Street and De Dollar Man (looks a promising handicap chaser) all going on the win under Rules since 2013 – a 100% record in four years.

Flash The Steel (Jonathan Fogarty) by Craigsteel 4- (R88)

was the 2017 winner and he has already joined Dan Skelton (who bought him privately. Craigsteel is a reliable enough sire but expect Flash The Steel to be a capable handicapper at best. He ran a fine race to finish second in a bumper on his first start before Christmas.

 

Week 2: Autumn point-to-point season

14/10/2015 Loughanmore  (soft)

4yo maiden:   “A hell of a horse”

You can set your watch about Colin McKeever having an early one ready for a 4yo maiden and he duly obliged with his first runner at a northern meeting.

Blue Flight (C McKeever) by Blue Bresil 25- (R92)

McKeever and his patron Wilson Dennison produce a steady stream of very capable winners and this gelding looks no different. Already with Nigel Twiston-Davies, who acquired him privately, he finished second in a Chepstow bumper on his first start.

By a French Group 2-placed stallion who now stands in Britain Blue Flight’s attraction to Dennison was obviously a family with lots of winning relations including Paul Nicholl’s Ibis Du Rheu (by Blue Bresil) who won the Martin Pipe handicap at Cheltenham in 2016 off a mark of 139. Nicholls also has charge of his sire’s highest-rated runner, Le Prezien, who has won 5 times for JP McManus. Twiston-Davies trained this horse prior to his sale to McManus so he is very familiar with the sire.

After his victory here, McKeever said “He will be a hell of a horse in time”.

 

Winners Of Two:

I don’t often recommend a 6yo from the pointing circuit but I think an exception should be made for Captain Cj especially since this three-time winner in 2017 has run third for Dermot Anthony O’Loughlin in what looks a decent Fairyhouse bumper in early December.

Captain Cj (D McLoughlin) by Westerner 23/11- (R97)

Every time this horse won the statements afterwards were very positive and my guess is that there is a LOT of future hope invested in his track career. His bumper run was eye-catching and connections will probably be dreaming of having a useful horse that they probably acquired reasonably with just placed maiden form as a 6yo. Having reviewed his bumper run it was clear he was staying on again after two miles and he will be best over a trip in excess of this. Another great run at Leopardstown over Christmas (third at 7/1 in a bumper) would tempt you to save up for this horse when his sights are lowered or if he goes jumping.

 

15/10/2015 Loughrea  (soft/heavy)

4yo maiden:

A second 4yo winner within a week for Colin Bowe this time with:

Rath An Iuir (C Bowe) by Flemensfirth 33- (R91)

who scored on the line in a last gasp effort against a Pat Doyle-trained opponent. First impressions are not hugely positive as the calibre of opponent in his first two late-Spring maidens looks weak but horses can improve massively over the summer and, indeed, the impressive Blue Flight (see above) finished well in arrears of Rath An Iuir on his debut last April. He fetched £100,000 at the November Sale and has since joined Rose Dobbin in Northumbria.

On account of an attractive pedigree (half-brother to 6 winners) he was an expensive store purchase at €62,000 and connections took him home from the 2017 Tattersalls Ireland June Sale mirroring the experience of Napoleon Blue covered in Week 1 i.e. they felt they weren’t getting the value deserved. His win here secured a decent profit and Colin Bowe will be on very good terms with himself so early in the season.

Foxrock won this race in 2012 followed by winners Uppertown Cave (career cut short) and Fact Of The Matter (5 wins for Jamie Snowden) although the last two winners have yet to score under Rules. Something of a curate’s egg! This looks a big buy for Dobbin – the only previous pointer purchase I can find cost her £20,000 – so there will be a lot invested in him.

 

5yo maiden:

Canyouringmeback (Thomond O’Mara/Con McSweeney) by Robin Des Pres 3- (R89)

Third to Minella Encore – winner of a recent Fairyhouse bumper for Willie Mullins - last January on his only start Canyouringmeback was an odds-on fancy to collect here and duly obliged under Jamie Codd. That January maiden looks very strong with fourth-placed Cowboy Des Long placed third in two maiden hurdles for Jimmy Mangan whilst the fifth-placed White Moon is already a dual hurdle winner for Colin Tizzard. What’s less encouraging is that the second in this Loughrea maiden, Well Tom, has been beaten out of sight in a recent maiden hurdle. However, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and I suspect Well Tom’s campaigning has been a little unplanned. Incidentally, this maiden was won by Cheltenham winner Brindisi Breeze in 2011.

Canyouringmeback has joined Nick Gifford for £52,000 and is the fourth foal and by far the best progeny, so far, of a dual bumper winner who saw plenty of action during her racing career. Can this sometimes have a negative effect on a mare’s offspring? McSweeney will have been thrilled with this result as he paid just €7,000 for the 3yo store.

Predictions on Canyouringmeback’s UK career are straightforward based on the trends of history: Of 8 previous maiden point winners (4 & 5yo maidens) by Robin Des Pres, who died in January 2017, 7 subsequently moved to the UK and all except one won under Rules. They achieved success at a modest level and usually needed a number of runs to get their eye in. My glance at past results suggests they tend to be reliable performers when they are fancied in the market. The only horse to remain in training in Ireland is Oliver McKiernan’s All For Joy and following his point win last April was recently a decent second in a Thurles bumper in November on his only subsequent start. It was a taking performance – he had a Mullins’ hotpot in third – and he could be worth noting.

 

Week 3: Autumn point-to-point season

22/10/2017 Rathcannon  (soft/heavy)

4yo maiden:

It seems a long time ago and it is – 2007/08 in fact – since Eric McNamara trained 25 winners in a National Hunt season. Many lean years follow but last season (2016/17) showed an upswing in his fortunes when 9 winners were trained so it’s good to see him back again.

There’s not a lot to be gleaned in studying McNamara’s previous point maiden winners although I do recall following his 2008 scorer, Flemensford, over the proverbial cliff when he was in training: he subsequently won three races on the track.

The win here for

I Can’t Explain (E McNamara) by Getaway Unraced (R91)

simply looks like a point-to-point investment for one of his stable employees coming through. Bought for €15,000 as a 3yo he is now in Seven Barrows with Nicky Henderson and if he is in that august stable that is good enough for me. He is by far the best of five foals out of a mare who is a half-sister to 2003 Hennessy winner Strong Flow so that will, presumably, also have appealed to Henderson. I often feel it’s significant when these horses are sold privately pointing to relationships based on reliable information especially as avoiding the strong auction rings for these horses is a risk in itself.

I have had a soft spot for this maiden ever since it was won by Run With The Wind in 2010 and has consistently produced some useful sorts.

 

22/10/2015 Tinahely  (yield-soft) 

4yo maiden:

Whisperinthebreeze (T E Hyde) by Kayf Tara Unraced (R92)

Tim Hyde operates in the higher echelons of the flat breeding game but has always retained a love of the jumps game – his father rode Prince Regent to Gold Cup success in the forties – and usually produces something of interest in the 4yo maiden sphere between the flags. Robin Roe and Walking In The Air have been two of his last four winners in points in recent times that have tasted success in the UK whilst Brewin’upastorm has yet to race for Olly Murphy - he is a £250,000 purchase after winning for Hyde last April.

It appears Whisperinthebreeze is now housed in Jessica Harrington’s stables in Co. Kildare and if the Twitter-sphere is correct he is a horse to follow. Up to 2015 every winner since 2008 had gone on to track success in the UK. Last year’s winner has only had three outings under Rules, so far.

 

5yo maiden:

Shantaluze (R Black) by Shantou 5- (R89)

Richard Black from Bunclody, Co. Wexford. Who?

He trained his third consecutive winner here and 6 weeks later (December 3rd) Mount Rushmore made it four-in-a-row over an 18-month period. Clearly, a young man who knows what he’s doing. The reason the sequence wasn’t broken with the above’s first run (finished 5th) is that Black only took charge of the horse thereafter.

His two previous winners were Thomas Do – yet to win in three starts for Donald McCain (cost £70,000) - and the mega-expensive Maire Banrigh who is with Dan Skelton and cost an eye-watering £320,000. When I relate that this is for a winning point-to-point mare I have to say I’m staggered.She was 8th of 12 in a maiden hurdle on her debut. Ouch.

In any event Shantaluze has also joined Donald McCain (this time for £40,000) so that looks a vote of confidence in both Thomas Do and Shantaluze in my view. £40,000 is not expensive in today’s market and it will be interesting to observe the progress of this “nice, genuine horse”.

My review of Mount Rushmore will follow shortly (Week #9).

 

Week 4: Autumn point-to-point season

28/10/2017 Lisronagh  (soft/heavy)

4yo mares maiden:

Ratings of 81 and 82 has not been a particularly strong recommendation in the past for winning 4yo mares compared to the ratings for geldings which have inflated by between 5% and 10% over the past 10 years reflecting higher sales prices predominantly. Make of that what you will!

Division I: Daylight Katie (Aidan Fitzgerald) by Bonbon Rose F- (R81)

My records on 4yo mares’ maidens extending back to 2009 suggest that winning mares from these maidens should be treated with caution despite the market for mares being very frothy at the moment. By a relatively unknown French sire and from a winning family, the £110,000 paid for Daylight Katie at the recent Cheltenham Sale looks pricey in my book.

 

Div II: Lust For Glory (Denis Murphy) by Getaway Unraced (R82)

There’s a lot more hype about this mare although, ironically, the time of this division was marginally slower than Division I. She changed hands for a whopping £240,000 at the same Cheltenham Sale and I would also be very concerned about this valuation. She cost just €4,500 as a 2yo store and that tells me its own story.

This is how the sale was reported in the Racing Post:

"Lust For Glory is just drop dead gorgeous," Anthony Bromley (Highflyer Bloodstock) added of the daughter of Getaway who landed a four-year-old mares maiden at Lisronagh in late October. "She was coveted by everyone here. Harold Kirk was underbidder to me and he's a good judge!"

These mares do occasionally win under Rules but they are not the most reliable conveyances for your cash. I will produce a summary of all Autumn 4yo mares’ maidens since 2008/09 over the coming weeks.

 

4yo maiden:

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Division I: Getaway Trump (Vincent Halley) by Getaway 34- (R92)

The sire, with his first 5yo’s in 2017, is doing okay but has yet to produce a star. So far, he has just three horses rated in the 130’s with Henderson’s Verdana Blue, a triple hurdle winner, being the best of them.  This winner of Division I of the 4yo maiden - run slower than even the two mares’ divisions – has joined Paul Nicholls for £90,000. Paco Jack, a Soviet Star half-brother to the dam, won 7 races for Joe Crowley. The dam was 4th in a bumper on one of her only two outings. There is no record of her first two foals.

Run at Lisronagh, within hailing distance of Ballydoyle, one might expect this maiden to throw up very good horses but the record since 2010 has been patchy enough with the best winners being Dreaper’s Goonyella in 2011 and Willie Mullins’ Minella Beau in 2015.

A review of handler Vincent Halley’s point record is very much a case of peaks and troughs. He hit the big time in 2012/13 and 2013/14 training a total of 21 winners but runners and winners have fallen dramatically since with just a single winner recorded in each of the three seasons prior to 2017/18. This fall off arose from a concentration on racecourse runners where he has had an average of 4 winners in each of the last 4 seasons. Interesting to note that of his three single winners mentioned above, two were 4yo’s and they both were sold to the UK with Tanarpino winning 3 races for Jennie Candlish and Abbotswood winning for Charlie Longsdon.

As Getaway Trump has also been sold to the UK, the hint should be taken.

 

Division II: Danny Kirwan (Pat Doyle) by Scorpion Unraced (R96)

This is the talking horse of the early season. A son of Scorpion out of a mare placed in all three bumper starts, from a nice, if unspectacular, French family, Danny Kirwan is a half-brother to a dual hurdle winner whose highest winning mark was 109.

Great things were expected of Scorpion who retired to stud in 2008 at Coolmore National Hunt but he was pensioned off to England in 2016 following some disappointing results. As often happens, his best runner has come since his departure with Might Bite winning the 2017 RSA but at least it proves Scorpion can sire a very good horse.

Doyle paid €60,000 for Danny Kirwan’s store half-brother earlier this year based on the homework of his 4yo and I understand Danny Kirwan has since joined Paul Nicholls. The hype surrounding this horse and the stable he has joined are likely to guarantee his initial outings will have him prohibitively priced in the ring. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if he can further redeem Scorpion’s reputation causing, perhaps (see below), further regrets in Grange Stud.

Postscript: I felt my work here wasn’t done until I examined the record of previous winning 4yo pointers by Scorpion and what a sorry tale it reveals. There have been 8 previous winners since 2013 and only the Willie Mullins/Gordon Elliott Tell Us More has achieved anything of note by collecting a Grade 3 chase in November 2016. With a purchase price of £290,000 this is a relative disappointment as he has collected less than €60,000 in earnings. All five other winners to race have failed to score under Rules (!) and two winners from spring 2017 – Sending Love with W Mullins and Another Barney (J Harrington) have yet to race. All in all, a very poor record and surely one to temper any exuberance over Danny Kirwan. I wonder what he made in the private sale?

Danny Kirwan appeared in the pre-Christmas edition of The Irish Field “Future Stars feature”.

 

5yo maiden:

Duhallow Tornado (Louis Archdeacon) by Golden Tornado P52- (R88)

Golden Tornado is a workaday stallion who gets a few winners from limited chances and his best horse has been surprise 2010 Albert Bartlett winner Berties Dream for Paul Gilligan. His only other notable runner, rated over 140, from double-digit crops is Michael Hourigan’s three-time scorer from 2010-2013 Dancing Tornado so one can expect Duhallow Tornado to be of modest pretensions. He seems to have changed hands for £25,000 to pursue a career in the UK and this is the best place for him.

From eight previous foals the dam of Duhallow Tornado has produced a single track winner in Clashnabrook who won 5 low-grade handicaps over hurdles and fences for Eoghan O’Grady which looks a nice bit of training.

Since 2008 Archdeacon has handled just six previous 5yo maiden winners and all bar one – Captain Ocano was retained to win one very modest chase from numerous outings for Archdeacon – went across the water to be trained. Only Forgotten Gold proved to be useful winning six for Tom George and the remaining 4 remained maidens or won at a low grade so, based on recent history, one could not be too confident about the chances of Duhallow Tornado at this early juncture.

That said, it is also worth noting that Archdeacon trained recent Listed Mares’ Bumper winner, Duhallow Gesture, to win her maiden point, albeit in a 5yo & 6yo maiden. That mare is part-owned by Mr Geegeez, Matt Bisogno!

 

28/10/2015 Portrush  (soft/heavy)

4yo maiden:

Weakfield (G Cromwell) by Court Cave Unraced (R91)

WEAKFIELD battled to an impressive success on his debut here. The four-year-old made smooth headway into contention before the second last and was produced to challenge at the last. The Court Cave gelding looks a promising sort and is nicely bred from the same family as Dancing Tornado. He looks to possess the speed to be competitive in a bumper and win races on the track. (According to P2p.ie)

It’s coincidental I have just mentioned Dancing Tornado in the context of the last winner and this 4yo winner is from the same family. He’s a half-brother to Sretaw who won thrice in one-mile handicaps for Cromwell but he only ran once without success over hurdles. His dam is related to Farmer Brown, a three-time handicap chase winner (R100) for Tony Martin.

Court Cave is a useful sire and is capable of getting good winners. He has an impressive record with his pointing 4 & 5yo maidens and prior to Weakfield had sired 15 individual 4yo maiden winners. His subsequent record on the track is puzzling in that his first batch of winners – horses such as Joseph Mercer, Hellorboston and Court Dismissed were all good winners - but up to recently the trend had taken a turn for the worse with many failing to live up to expectations. 2017 has seen something of a revival with The Holy One running second on his only start in a bumper for Jessica Harrington while Invincible Cave won his bumper for Gordon Elliott. It is possible that the trend reflects a higher quality mare in recent years as Court Cave started to prove him since from 2010 onwards.

Weakfield has changed hands for £90,000 – bought by pointer-lover Phil Martin in the UK – and I like the post race comment that “Gavin thinks a lot of this horse and he is the nicest 4yo we have in training” so he could be profitable to follow closely. It may be worth noting also that Cromwell’s only other 4yo maiden winner was Kilronan Castle who joined Donald McCain for £27,000 and subsequently won three handicaps at a modest level.

This Portrush autumn fixture was run for the first time in 2016 and no less a horse than Finian’s Oscar (R93) was successful for Denis Murphy so, no pressure then!

 

5yo maiden: 

Shumaker (Karen McNeilly) by Whitmore’s Conn 7-0 Rules; FF- (R90)

An emphatic victory for the Karen McNeilly-trained Shumaker who was unlucky not to have won at the same venue last year when falling at the last. He cruised into the lead at the second last and won very easily. He looks as though he could quickly pick up a winners’ event if not returning to the track.

Shumaker’s 3yo Doyen half-brother sold for €33,000 last summer – Shumaker was unsold as a foal – and he is a brother to a 125-rated maiden hurdle winner for Tom Symonds (he found it hard to win for Michel Hourigan in Ireland – placed 6 times) with his unraced Fruits Of Love dam a half-sister to a dual Group 3 winner. McNeilly was delighted with this performance and thinks the gelding may return to the track where he needs another hurdle run to get a mark. He has modest pretensions but might be interesting in a handicap hailing from a relatively unknown yard.

 

29/10/2015 Dowth Hall  (yield-soft)

4yo maiden:

Good Man Jim (Michael Goff) by Martaline 5- (R94) 

A strongly run four-year-old maiden from flag fall which produced a very decent performance from the race winner.

GOOD MAN JIM (FR) looks an above average sort, even by the current high four-year-old standards. Making all, the Martaline gelding eased home despite making what could have been a race ending mistake five-out. Within strides of that error, the grey gelding was back on an even keel and travelling very strongly. Such was the pace he set, few of his rivals ever got in a challenging blow as he dominated from the front. The result was clear from a long way out and this is a horse with plenty of pace, that speed being used to good effect by Shane Fitzgerald. A bumper winner in waiting, he could prove to be high class indeed, likely over middle distances.

Well bought for just €14,000 as a yearling he fetched a whopping £360,000 at the recent Cheltenham Sale when bought by Roger Brookhouse, who has bought from this source before including bumper winner Clondaw Cracker.

Goff is an excellent trainer and seems to make this pointing game pay handsomely. The sire of Good Man Jim, Martaline, is French-based and is an excellent producer of good horses such as Dynaste and Disko to name but two. Good Man Jim will have a high-profile trainer and is rated to carry high expectations.

Good Man Jim featured in the pre-Christmas edition of The Irish Field “Future Stars feature”.

 

5yo maiden: 

Double You Be (J.P. Dempsey) by Yeats 2P4S- (R88)

A small field was assembled for this five-year-old maiden which appeared to be lacking notably in depth.

DOUBLE YOU BE (IRE) is a horse who had shown real promise on his debut at Punchestown last February, before his form tailed off over a number of his subsequent starts last term. Making his seasonal re-appearance, the son of Yeats was sent to the front in a decisive move along the back straight and soon had his rivals under pressure with the change in tempo. It is difficult to judge how far he has progressed given the quality of this race, but he is certainly entitled to hold claims on the track.

Three of the last four winners of this maiden have scored in England with successes for Otago Trail (120), Tomngerry (135) and last year’s dual scorer Bordeaux Bill. Ordinarily a runner with four previous runs is a dubious selection but his form tailed off after an excellent second to Gallaghers Cross last February, a recent winner of a Galway bumper.

Dempsey trained the 4yo maiden winner at this fixture in 2010 and The Baler stayed with him and won twice over fences. Dempsey is not as prolific in the pointing field as he once was due to a burgeoning career under Rules and has produced just two 5yo maiden winners since 2014 in Subtle Grey and Derrinross. The former is rated 135 and has won 4 races for Donald McCain whilst Derrinross has stayed with Dempsey and although a maiden under Rules has some very decent form from just four runs and looks sure to win at some point. I think both these horses offer encouragement in determining what enthusiasm to offer for the future chances of Double You Be.

Yeats is in his third season of National Hunt runners since converting from the flat and whereas he has yet to produce a star he gets plenty of winners under Rules and between the flags with a decent strike-rate.

In addition to the above I have compiled a list of horses-worth-noting who caught my eye for various reasons: ran well in defeat, unlucky, fancied in the market, great pedigree and a few other angles of interest. Here they are, from the first weeks of the season:

 

THE DARK HORSES

Week 1: Autumn point-to-point season

 8/10/2017: Castletown-Geoghegan (yield-soft)

4yo maiden:

This race provided some other horses of interest:

Hitdroadjack (by Wareed) trained by Dan Lordan, who finished second to Napoleon Blue seemed to improve markedly from three runs last spring.  He has since joined Henry De Bromhead but was pulled up in his only start in a Clonmel maiden hurdle. It may be significant that De Bromhead won the race and that this was a mere “sighter” for Hitdroadjack. Handicapping will be his forte if he is any good and he has a long way to go. Probably close observance of his next races will be instructive.

If there is a “dark horse” in this race it could be the pulled-up beaten favourite, Two Sams (by Dubai Destination), who was trained by Michael “Trixie” Barry. It’s obviously a shot in the dark but having studied Barry’s handling of winners Cols Corner, Sraid Padraig and Sweet As A Nut over the years they rarely won without some confidence behind them. This may well be a long term project but is of interest nonetheless.

Finally, for those who follow pointing closely, I am always on the lookout for mares that run well against their male counterparts in maidens and Tashunka (Ashleigh Murphy) was in third when falling at the last. A subsequent disappointment in a mares’ maiden she could be of limited ability but is just the type to surprise against her own sex having shown up well here. She goes in to my point tracker.

 

5yo maiden:

My “also ran” from this race was the beaten even-money favourite, Robin De Broome, who was disappointing  following a couple of placed efforts but who has since joined Brian Barr in Dorset. He is the kind of horse I like to follow in an unassuming yard and it will instructive to see what Mr Barr can wrest from him.

 

15/10/2015 Loughrea  (soft/heavy)

5yo maiden:

As I mentioned above Brindisi Breeze is a former winner of this race and it has produced track runners in Moyross (Enda Bolger-2016), Leg Lock Luke (C Tizzard-2015) and Just A Par (P Nicholls-2012). For this reason I am nominating the 2014 winner Teds Island as one to follow: he remains a maiden on the track although he has only run under Rules five times. He has won three points (trained by John Walsh) but is under the care of Wexford’s Michael John Murphy for his track career. The 5 runs I mentioned have yielded three second-place finishes at Wexford (twice) and Clonmel over the past 18 months and he is due a turn. Murphy has not trained a winner in 50 attempts since 2006 and these three seconds have been the closest he has come. I may be a masochist but, if he could only be dropped a few pounds – run him on winter ground that he dislikes! – then he is likely to go very close. He hasn’t run since last June so Teds Island will go into my tracker for now.

 

22/10/2017 Rathcannon  (soft/heavy)

4yo maiden:

I think the unlucky last-fence faller, Chateau Marmont, from this race should also be followed. Trained by Pat Doyle, he is a Flemensfirth gelding out of a Milan mare who won her only start in a Limerick bumper in 2011 trained by John Queally. Costing a reasonable-looking €22,000 as a store he has been bought by Phil Martin for £100,000 and will continue his career in the UK.

 

28/10/2017 Lisronagh  (soft/heavy)

5yo maiden:

Perhaps a horse to note from this maiden is Ballyegan Warrior, trained by Derek O’Connor’s brother Paurick who looked to be going best when falling at the last (R89). Mind you, he has since been beaten in a four-runner maiden so enthusiasm is tempered. If he could come right again he would be of interest back on the track where he has a bargain basement rating of just 85 from when he was trained by Robert Tyner.

 

28/10/2015 Portrush  (soft/heavy)

4yo maiden:

If the winner is rated 91 then the runner-up, Brace Yourself, at 90 is also entitled to some attention. A Mahler gelding trained by Warren Ewing, he almost made double that of Weakfield at £165,000 and has joined Noel Meade. Possessing a superior pedigree his half-brother won a handicap hurdle off 114 for Ben Pauling whilst the flat-bred dam was a bottom-drawer stayer but also a half-sister to five winners the best of whom won a 3m handicap chase off 120 for Paul Webber. Mahler’s first crop are now 7yo’s and his best representative to date has been Elliott’s Sutton Place, winner of two Grade 2 hurdles and rated 160.

David Skelly is a chartered accountant by profession based in County Tipperary and his views on various aspects of the industry can be found on www.theturfaccountant.com. Enquiries and comments are welcome at dskelly@davidskelly.ie

 

SotD Update, 1st to 6th January 2018

2018 hardly started off brilliantly, but in a tough opening week, we did at least land our first winner of the year. Unfortunately, not only was it subject to Rule 4 deduction, it was also accompanied by just one placer, two unplaced runners, one who was pulled up and a non-runner who'd gone lame!

All in all, a loss of 1.3pts on the opening week of the new year, but (a) we've got plenty of time to claw that back and (b) we're up and running for 2018 if nothing else!

Selections & Results : 01/01/18 to 06/01/18 

01/01 : Arthurs Gift @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 7/2
02/01 : Shamshon @ 3/1 BOG 5th at 3/1
03/01 : Mixboy @ 3/1 BOG (2.7/1 after R4) WON at EVENS
04/01 : American Life @ 3/1 BOG 3rd at 2/1
05/01 : Magic Mirror @ 7/2 BOG non-runner
06/01 : Play the Ace @ 3/1 BOG PU at 9/4

01/01/18 to 06/01/18  :
1 winning bet from 5 = 20.00% SR
P/L: -1.30pts

January 2018 :
1 winner from 5 = 20.00% SR
P/L: -1.30pts
ROI = -26.00%

Overall:
524 winners from 1890 = 27.72% S.R
P/L: +483.48pts
ROI: +25.58%

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

Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take your £1, 30-day trial right now?

Click here for more details.

Monday Musings: Of Youths, Veterans and Eternal Optimism

Chepstow Racecourse. 06.01.2018 The Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Steeple Chase. James Bowen in the winners enclosure with the Welsh Grand National Trophy after riding Raz de Maree to victory. Photo Andy Watts / Racingfotos.com

Chepstow Racecourse. 06.01.2018
The Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Steeple Chase.
James Bowen in the winners enclosure with the Welsh Grand National Trophy after riding Raz de Maree to victory.
Photo Andy Watts / Racingfotos.com

After two weeks’ adjustment to Sundays in deference to the holidays, we’re back in the Monday swing, writes Tony Stafford. The past few days have been dominated by heavy ground, veteran horses and one extremely talented and youthful jockey. It seems James Bowen is as rapidly-maturing as was a certain Mr O’Brien, who at age 24 has long gone past winning Classic races in the UK and Ireland and setting record riding championship tallies in his home country in favour of training at a high level.

James Bowen is eight years younger and for the foreseeable future will have none of the weight constraints that curtailed Joseph’s riding career at 22. He’s done as little as 9st6lb when allowed to and since his 16th birthday in April has ridden 214 times, three times without reward during the last days of the previous season. All 35 of Bowen’s winners, culminating in the record-breaking ride on the veteran Raz De Maree in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Saturday, are therefore included in the present season’s stats.

As Joseph will testify, it helps when the old man has a few around the place on which to get you some initial practice. Peter Bowen, even though having his middle (of three) son Sean to consider – Mickey, the eldest, is a point-to-point trainer - has utilised James 71 times for 13 wins.

That was the starting point but, including Gavin Cromwell, the Irish farrier who attends to Gordon Elliott’s horses and doubles as a rapidly-emerging trainer in his own right, Bowen has been employed by 64 outside trainers. His connection with Nicky Henderson’s stable has been a bit of a slow-burner, if anything about this child prodigy can be so described, but you can imagine some big-race handicap opportunities at the Festivals coming his way from Seven Barrows.

Talk of the Festival – that’s all there ever is once the turn of the year arrives – reminds me that the opening day is only nine weeks tomorrow. Just 64 days of hopes being lit and then extinguished almost before the thought has appeared on web sites and social media. Newspapers were always prone to “chip-paper syndrome”; now their print versions, sad to relate, are in danger of imminent oblivion.

We have the odd anomaly of reluctant early-morning daylight – it’s still as dark today as on the shortest day, December 21 – thanks to the non-uniformity of the earth’s curvature, or something like that, but it’s getting lighter at night. A ballpark figure is ten minutes extra daylight both morning and night every week. Cheltenham arrives a week and a half before the clocks go forward just in time for proper Flat racing.

I like the new programme book, which now actually is a book and not a bunch of loose leaves you have to slot into some reluctant metallic clips. All trainers and other interested parties apparently find the programme irritating in the extreme in that there never seems to be enough races of a certain category to suit their horses.

Since my boss Raymond Tooth’s now four-year-old Apres Le Deluge made a winning debut at Hereford just before Christmas, barely in daylight, my thoughts have turned to seeking out a potential follow up race once Hughie Morrison signifies an imminent resumption in hostilities.

I love the At The Races feature on my phone that allows me to have endless repeat showings of the race, and every time I watch it, I marvel at the acceleration the son of Stormy River shows. I badgered my mate Noel Quinlan to have a look to see if he agreed with me about the merit of the performance and when he eventually watched it he said: “……g …l, haven’t you had anyone asking about it? If it had been a four-horse slow-motion Irish point-to-point or some nothing race at Nowhere-sur-seine in France, the agents will have been driving you mad!”

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Having won a race, Apres’ next appearance needs to be carefully selected. In the time up to Christmas there were 14 junior bumpers, the Hereford one being the only full-length affair, with the remainder beginning at a mile and a half. The one Acey Milan won at Wincanton was the next longest at a mile and seven furlongs.

Acey Milan came out again to win the Cheltenham 4yo bumper (1m6f) on New Year’s Day impressively for Anthony Honeyball’s stable and he stands top of the four-year-old group. His obvious possibilities as a dual winner are the Listed race on Betfair Hurdle day at Newbury (February 10), when he’ll carry a Class 1 4lb penalty before the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham on day two of the Festival where he would receive 8lb from the older horses.

While Acey Milan has that option, of the 90-odd remaining bumper races available before the end of March, none is restricted to four-year-olds, save one for fillies at Wetherby this Saturday, entries for which close at noon today. Two other races are designed for four- and five-year-olds, but one is a maiden and the other at Newbury is confined to graduates of Goff’s sales and run the week after Cheltenham.

So for Apres Le Deluge, the choice is stark. Either take on older horses while carrying a 7lb penalty in one of the standard-issue £2,274 to the winner products that so many of the six-figure buys are forced to contest, or go for broke and run next month at Newbury and/or in the race at the Festival.

Cousin Khee went that way as a four-year-old, finishing eighth in the hot race won by Cheltenian before joining the Tooth team. A nine-time winner for the boss, he’s now back owned by Mary Morrison and ran a good race in second at Southwell the other day. Hughie’s touch with older horses should ensure further gainful employment for this admirable veteran.

Four-year-olds won two of the Champion Bumper’s first four runnings after its inception in 1992 but since the top-class Dato Star won in 1995 for Malcolm Jefferson and Mark Dwyer only Cue Card in 2010 has been successful for the age group. When he won, striding well clear of 23 opponents, there was only one other juvenile in the line-up.

Returning, though, to the earlier theme, it is odd that nobody in race planning has seemingly ever thought about having at least a few races confined to four-year-old bumper horses. True, like Apres Le Deluge they are often Flat-race bred, but in his case his mother, Ms Cordelia, ran twice over jumps, finishing second on debut at Catterick for the David Pipe stable. Apres Le Deluge was too big and backward to do anything much before now.

With so little going on apart from those long-distance mud-fests – Sandown Saturday and Plumpton yesterday also featured lung-bursting marathons – I also seize the opportunity to offer some self-centred optimism about Ray’s other recent runner Sod’s Law. Just foiled at 50-1 in the last stride of his Kempton debut a month ago by Jamie Osborne’s Rusper, Sod’s Law got a boost at the first time of asking when Rusper won a 0-85 handicap at Lingfield off 84 on Saturday.

Rusper had already won around Lingfield before following up at Kempton where Sod’s Law must have given jockey Dougie Costello the fright of his life. The Osborne gelding will go up to close to 90 after this and four of those that finished behind us at Kempton are entered for a sure-to-be-divided similar affair back at Kempton on Wednesday. There might be even more encouragement to come?

Stat of the Day, 8th January 2018

Saturday's Result :

3.20 Chepstow : Play the Ace @ 3/1 BOG PU at 9/4 Prominent, pushed along after 5th, not fluent 9th, weakened before 4 out, pulled up before 2 out....

Next up is Monday's...

2.30 Hereford :

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.

Who?

Steel Native @ 4/1 BOG

A Class 5, 5yo+ Handicap Chase over 3m1f on Soft ground worth £3,509 to the winner...

Why?

Your first 30 days for just £1

The in-form Jamie Bowen is in the saddle here, so it's worth noting that over the last 30 days, he has ridden 12 winners from 45 (26.7% SR) attempts generating 32.9pts (+73.7% ROI) of level stakes goodness, from which he's 9/34 (26.5%) for 33pts (+97.1%) in handicaps and 5/13 (38.5%) for 34pts (+261.9%) in chases : all in handicaps.

He now gets the leg up on a 7 yr old gelding who has won two of his last three, including a heavy ground win and one on Soft grounds over 3 miles, so he shouldn't be getting done for stamina. In fact his last three results on soft ground read 221, so he's not afraid of a bit of mud!

His trainer David Rees is 29/184 (15.8% SR) for 109.8pts (+59.7% ROI) with chasers since 2010, of which his handicappers are 26/170 (15.3%) for 110.8pts (+65.2%) and of these 170 handicap chasers...

  • males are 23/153 (15%) for 120.4pts (+78.7%)
  • at Class 5 : 9/52 (17.3%) for 35.3pts (+67.8%)
  • over trips of 3m to 3m2.5f : 8/52 (15.4%) for 50.1pts (+96.3%)
  • on Soft/Heavy ground : 11/48 (22.9%) for 101.4pts (+211.2%)
  • in 2017 : 9/36 (25%) for 47.3pts (+131.4%)
  • on soft ground : 7/33 (21.2%) for 51pts (+154.6%)
  • and LTO winners are 8/23 (34.8%) for 37.1pts (+161.1%)

...giving us...... a 1pt win bet on Steel Native @ 4/1 BOG which was widely available in half a dozen places at 7.55pm on Sunday, although Hills were offering 9/2 BOG to those able to take advantage. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 2.30 Hereford

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

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!

New Gold Features Coming Soon in 2018…

New Year, New Year.

Happy New Year to you.

After a quiet spell, we're ready to kick things up a notch both in terms of editorial and our premium racing form provision. In today's post, I'd like to share with you what's coming next to Geegeez Gold...

Right Now

We made a couple of very small changes yesterday to:
- include official ratings on full results
- publish the winning time on full results
- add Report Angles to the report dropdown

Here's how those all look:

 

In the next fortnight

Meanwhile, being put through its paces on test as I speak are a couple of more meaningful changes.

HCAP option on Report Angles

The first of them is the addition of a HCAP option to Report Angles. When we released Report Angles a month or so ago, the first response was 'Wow!' - after we got over a couple of teething issues, that is. The second response was, "Can you add a handicap only filter, please?".

Well, we're here to bring you the stuff you want, so yes, we heard you and I'm happy to say this will be live in the near future. It's already up on my test setup, as you can see from the below image:

We've added 'Handicap only' filters to Report Angles in line with the individual reports

We've added 'Handicap only' filters to Report Angles in line with the individual reports

 

Pace tab: enhanced focus

The second enhancement is to the Pace tab. "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king" has been our motto on this front to date. That is to say that, because nobody else is doing anything meaningful on pace (which, incidentally, is the singlemost under-rated element of form study in this country, in my view), our Pace content stands apart at making it easy to see how a race will likely pan out.

But... it's been an irritant to me for some time that, for instance, the historical pace profile of a big field fast ground race may very well not be the same as for a small field soft ground race over the same course and distance.

So we've addressed that, by adding going and field size dropdowns to the Pace tab.

This is Chelmsford's 8.15 race tonight, a 7f contest between eight runners. As you can see from the top part of the image - with all going and all field sizes selected - it has been advantageous to be on the lead. Indeed, 21% of winners have raced that way for a profit of £34 to a £1 level stake.

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But look at the bottom part, where we focus on standard going (which is most of the runs, of course) but also on a more targeted runner range of seven to ten. Now we can see that those horse which led have a 28% win rate and a £1 level stake profit of £73.71.

Hopefully you can see how this granularity will be useful. I'm very excited about sharing it!

[One caveat is that it will often produce small sample sizes. That's why we have the dropdowns so users can extend the ranges to get a more meaningful sample.]

Field size has a major bearing on run style effectiveness

Field size has a major bearing on run style effectiveness

 

**

Next six weeks or so

A little further down the line we have still more planned. I don't want to go into too much detail yet, mainly because I haven't got screenshots to show you.

But there are a couple of extra reports (class move, and SR differential) which will be interesting.

We're also looking at an Instant Expert 2.0, which will allow users to filter by Handicap/All Races, and by different time periods.

And we'll be creating some filters on the racecard menu, so you can see those races which interest you. Not interest in small field races? Only want handicaps to display? Want to exclude Irish, or UK racing? Only interested in sprints? Just want the better class stuff? You'll be able to filter by all of these things, and have your racecard menu presented to you... very soon.

Next three to six months

Looking further down the line we're working on making Geegeez Gold less prescriptive and more in line with what you want to see. We'll be enabling you to create and save angles in the Query Tool; and you'll be able to see angle qualifiers right within the racecard.

For those short on time, we're also working on a Bet Finder feature. This will identify horses running today that meet certain fixed criteria outlined by you.

Lots of exciting developments in the pipeline, and I hope they'll provide you with even more of an edge over your fellow punters.

Matt

Tom’s Turn To Top The Table…

...after coming a close second last time out, as is now documented in the Geegeez System Trials Roundup to 02/01/2018. 

I'm talking about Tom's Racing Picks whose profit of over £163 for the fortnight wasn't quite enough to secure top spot in my pre-Christmas roundup, but they have managed to provide the best results of our triallists over the festive period, adding another £141.78 to their bottom line. So, with over £300 profit in the last four weeks, they've hauled themselves out of the red and look to be in fine form. Each and selection is, of course, set out here in James' review.

It was a similar story for Horse Racing Network, who also pulled themselves out of the red courtesy of £78.00 profit over the last 14 days, making the second half of their trial look a little more hopeful than it seemed last time. Ray is reviewing this one for us and his report can be found right here.

Elsewhere, there were modest gains for FA RacingFirst Class Fancies and Top Rated Runners who added £99 profit to the banks between them, whilst just two services lost money over Christmas & New Year, with both Cleeve Racing and Flat Flyers (WP) losing the same sum of £30.00. Links to all the reviews, highlighting every result, can be found in our updated "league table"...

...which is right here...

System Profit Service Days Trial days Fortnightly P/L Full Review ROI
Cleeve Racing £249.50 (at day 12) 12 -£30.00 Click Here 43.77%
Top Rated Runners £98.83 (at day 52) 52 £23.23 Click Here 12.53%
Tom's Racing Picks £74.67 (at day 52) 52 £141.78 Click here 3.70%
Horse Racing Network £43.00 (at day 33) 33 £78.00 Click Here 3.31%
FA Racing -£57.87 (at day 50) 50 £52.38 Click Here -2.22%
Flat Flyers (WP) -£75.70 (at day 29) 29 -£30.00 Click Here -15.77%
First Class Fancies (WP) -£126.02 (at day 28) 28 £23.45 Click Here -13.55%

As usual, clicking the name of a service takes you straight to their home page, whilst there are links to every review above.

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Now, as you can see, there are no real outstanding results there from either a negative or positive outlook, other than I suppose, the opening shots fired by Cleeve Racing, who despite the recent small loss have already put some decent money on the board.

I actually like this service a lot. They don't put up bets every day, they only bet in the better races and offer a full reasoning behind every bet. They also offer write-ups on races they've not even made a selection in, so that you can be pointed towards a shortlist of possibles.

Cleeve Racing is run by people who seem to really know their stuff and at £40 per month (or substantially less for longer subscriptions), you could do a lot worse this winter. If you want to read more about this service, click here to visit their site.

Other than that, all that's left for me to do today is to wish you all a very happy New Year on behalf of myself, my excellent review team and all at geegeez!

All the best for 2018,
Chris