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He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Actually A Really Good Wager…

When the going gets tough...

When the going gets tough...

I backed a winner yesterday. Believe me, if you've endured my recent form that's more a resuscitation than a boast or, heaven forbid, an aftertime.

Anyway, it won at 10/1 after I'd backed it at 7/1 (ever the judge, me), and it reminded me of an old post I wrote which was the inspiration for yesterday's bet as well as many other good ones in the interim.

That post is below, refreshed and updated - including a very appealing update on the systematic suggestion originally posited on 31st January 2014, three years less a fortnight ago.

**

Heavy horses are a breed apart

Rain, rain, incessant infernal rain. It seems just now - and, actually, at around this time most years - that pretty much all of the jumps racing is either abandoned or run on heavy ground.

Moan, moan, grumble, grumble, go the form students. "This ground throws up all sorts of freak results", etc etc, blah blah.

Well, guess what? It's a load of old cobblers. What those naysayers are implying is that they find it difficult to deal with a change in the ground. Me? I love it, because it often makes the job of handicapping easier, not harder.

Let me expound on that.

Heavy ground is the most extreme level of sodden turf on which horses are asked to race. Whilst it takes on varying degrees of mud and splosh depending on the track, it is always more testing than merely 'soft' ground. So, whereas most horses can be expected to perform, at least to some degree, on middling terrain - good to soft, good, and good to firm - only a subset of the equine population will perform close to their optimal on very quick or very slow turf.

In this study, I'm going to focus specifically on National Hunt handicap races, for two reasons:

1. There are not that many flat handicaps run on heavy ground (though results are similar to the below)

2. In non-handicap events - novice races and the like - it is as likely that a horse outclasses its rivals as it is that a horse 'out-acts' its rivals on the prevailing squelchy grass

Let's first look at the performance of horses in handicap races being run on heavy ground. The table below is sorted by number of previous heavy ground wins.

 

Nh Hcap performance by previous heavy ground wins

National Hunt Handicap performance by previous heavy ground wins

 

As we can see, the vast majority of horses have yet to win on heavy ground, and many of them will have never encountered such a test before. Indeed, after failing on a first attempt in the deep, many will never encounter such a test again.

Materially, note the correlation between number of heavy ground wins and the win percentage in subsequent heavy ground handicaps. Ignoring the small group of 5- and 6-time heavy ground winners that failed to score a further mud success, we can see a fair relationship between number of heavy ground wins and subsequent heavy win strike rate.

Whilst that is fairly logical and, in itself, not especially helpful, what is perhaps more surprising is that following multiple (two-plus) heavy ground winners in National Hunt handicaps run on heavy ground is a profitable strategy to embrace blindly, at Betfair SP or early prices at least.

Let me emphasise that with the following table:

 

Comparison of multi-mud winners versus 0 or 1 win

Comparison of multi-mud winners versus 0 or 1 win

 

The American author, James Quinn, talks throughout his book, The Complete Handicapper, about 'the rule of two'. This rule, again entirely sensible and a very good way of avoiding bad value bets, is predicated on the market overreaction to a single instance of an event.

That could be a single good run, a single heavy ground performance, or a single bad run. Or anything else which has not been replicated or built upon before or since. Hence the two-plus heavy ground wins proviso demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that a horse is likely to run to form on that sort of surface, all other things being equal.

 

How to optimize this knowledge

Getting to within 5% of parity at starting price with a simple stat like that opens a window of research opportunity through which we may be able to spot pockets of value.

Poor run last time out

One trick here, from a value perspective, may be to see if horses with a poor finishing position last time can improve the ROI. Focusing only on those runners which finished outside the top five on their previous start has a profound impact on the figures.

 

2+ heavy wins, outside the top five last time out

2+ heavy wins, outside the top five last time out

 

Firstly, it reduces the number of bets to roughly a half. Secondly, it retains an acceptable strike rate of 11% win and 27% place. Thirdly, the ROI is now around 10% on a meaningful number of bets at industry SP.

 

Mature. But not over-ripe...

Without tampering questionably with the dataset it is worth evaluating performance by age, as there do seem to be a fair number of octogenarians (in horse years at least) asked to persist with a fading career on heavy turf. The data bear that out:

 

Multi-heavy NH 'cap winners, not top 5 LTO, by age

Multi-heavy NH 'cap winners, not top 5 LTO, by age

 

The strike rates for horses in the prime of their careers - from ages seven to ten (using the more reliable place strike rates as guidance) - are significantly better than their older and younger counterparts.

And, in case you were wondering, that shape is not replicated when one removes the 'heavy going' factor. Overall, horses tend to place at a fairly consistent percentage (c.25%) under the other conditions outlined above from ages four to six, before dropping to 24% aged seven, 23% at eight and 21% at nine and ten. Older than that and the general population running in this context hit the board at less than 20%.

It probably makes sense that most horses would mature into sloggers at a slightly later time than those naturally equipped to race on faster terrain, and that is certainly what the data say.

Focusing only on those horses aged seven to ten with proven (multi-winning) heavy ground form in NH handicaps who were outside the top five last time gives this:

 

Multi-heavy winners, aged 7 to 10, in NH handicaps, who missed the top 5 LTO

Multi-heavy winners, aged 7 to 10, in NH handicaps, who missed the top 5 LTO

 

A 25% ROI on 1000 bets at starting price is pretty nifty. But, clearly, any approach with a 12% strike rate will suffer extended losing spells, and the figures above include two fairly painful downturns in 2010 and 2013.

One way to take the edge off that is to consider betting each way. Although not always a good strategy, with these fellows making the frame 30% of the time, it will definitely keep the shorter of bankroll engaged for longer, and help to ride out the worst of the inevitable corrections.

Backing each way at 9/2 or bigger in 5+ runner fields (i.e. each way races) gives 84 wins (10.1%) and 227 placed horses (27.28%) from 832 bets, for an SP profit of 335.12 points. Obviously, backing each way requires a two point stake (one win, one place), meaning the ROI is slightly diminished at 20.14%, but that's more profit overall and a more consistent draw.

 

"The Rules"

The 'rules' then, such as they are, go like this:

- Heavy ground National Hunt handicaps (hurdles or chases)
- Multiple (2+) previous heavy ground winner
- Finished 6th or worse, or failed to complete, last time out
- Aged seven to ten

 

In terms of explaining the 'system' in a sentence - something you should be looking to do when developing your own mechanistic approaches - we can say the following:

"On extremely testing going, look for proven ability from a horse in its prime that may have been badly outpaced last time"

I appreciate that, for some, the age brackets and last day finishing positions may seem too arbitrary. Fair enough, though it is worth noting a 'tapering' in the datasets at the edges of the ranges which lends a credibility to the numbers.

Regardless of that, one thing is clear: if a horse has shown it can win on heavy ground, and it ran a clunker last time, be prepared to forgive that clunker back on the quaggy stuff.

**

Finding this kind of horse

So, how to find these diamonds in the mud? Why, with the geegeez racecards of course! Here's an example from last week.

Courttown Oscar fits the bill snugly

Courtown Oscar fits the bill snugly

 

The Instant Expert tab reveals that Courtown Oscar was one of only two horses to have previously won twice or more on heavy ground, the other being Bryden Boy. But looking at their respective last time out figures, we can see that Bryden Boy won whereas Courtown Oscar was pulled up.

 

Courtown Oscar finished outside the top five last time

Courtown Oscar finished outside the top five last time

 

Also, take a look at how Oscar performed on heavy ground the last time he encountered it.

 

Impressive handicap previous on heavy

Impressive handicap previous on heavy - he won again

 

Courtown Oscar won at 8/1.

And if you look at the top form line in the image above, can you see who was second? Yes, Bryden Boy, the other multiple heavy ground winner.

The exacta paid £87.60, and no, of course I didn't have it!

[As an aside, One For Arthur - who Oscar beat on his previous heavy start - won the Warwick Classic Chase at the weekend; and Bryden Boy sandwiched his second place to Oscar with heavy ground scores either side. The form looks pretty solid!]

 

So, to recap, in order to find these horses:

  1. Look for meetings run on heavy ground (and be sure to check for going changes when the weather is closing in)
  2. Check Instant Expert ('win' button) for two or more going wins on heavy
  3. Check age and last time out finishing position on the card
  4. Er, that's it

You might also want to look at the overall previous form profile on heavy ground and, obviously, the depth of competition in the race from a going perspective. Though, looking purely through the system lens, that is not necessary.

**

Instant Expert and Full Form Filter are two components of the Geegeez Gold visual form book. If you're not currently a subscriber and would like to know more about what we offer, you can discover us here.

Good luck!

Matt

p.s. there's one runner today of interest in the context of the above... 😉

30 Days of Geegeez Gold for £1

Monday Musing: On Passing Kempton…

 

You’d better hurry. If you want to go to Kempton Park before the bulldozers move in as planned in 2021, there are only around 300 chances, writes Tony Stafford. If it’s jumping you want to see rather than all-weather, floodlit or otherwise, it’s somewhere around 45 meetings, based on the present fixture list.

It’s a funny thing about Kempton. While it’s going along in an untroubled, unspectacular manner, almost nobody loves it, but the minute its future is threatened, the over-my-dead-body brigade sharpen their metaphorical pencils.

Unless there are feet of snow or temperatures at around minus 5 Centigrade, meetings are rarely even threatened to be abandoned on the turf track, while during the now almost 11 years of its life as a Polytrack Flat circuit, it has become the venue for decent younger horses on the way up the ladder even if nobody is there to see them. Decent telly and bookmaker fodder nonetheless.

Now, though, the one-time Kempton Manor, first enclosed in the 13th Century and a racecourse since the 1870’s , is to be sold (the OMDB brigade notwithstanding) for housing. The overall 210-acre site is expected to realise around £100 million and initial plans are for 3,000 homes to be built.

Kempton’s owners, Jockey Club Racecourses, want to build, as replacement, an all-weather track at Newmarket as part of a £500 million group future investment. Unsurprisingly, the plans have brought extremes of opinion, with the OMDBs the more vociferous so far.

Anyone reading these notes will be aware that one of my main obsessions is with time. For instance, it has always intrigued me that if I project back the 87 years of age of my great-grandmother (who died when I was 11) before her birth in 1870, we’d get to 1783!

I first went to Kempton, on the old Hackney-based Fallowfield & Britten coach, picking up at Clapton Pond. The firm were actually taken over by George Ewer (Grey-Green Coaches) in 1952, but kept the old livery for a while. We certainly were regulars at the Easter meeting by the late 1950’s and the main recollection is crawling along in a great crocodile of coaches beside the retaining wall that goes all the way from the old Jubilee start 10 furlongs from home.

Another memory of those days is viewing from the stand at the top of the straight, a full three furlongs out and watching them flash by, then shaking my head when the end result was nothing like the order when they passed us.

That fixture featured both the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas Trials, and one name that has stuck is that of the 1964 1,000 Trial winner, Gwen (maybe Jack Jarvis and Lord Rosebery), who beat subsequent 1,000 Guineas heroine, Pourparler, to my great delight. Winding back the near 60 years from my first visit there – we went to Newmarket in 1952! – you get to 1900. To think that 70 years from now it’ll be 2087.

It seems strange enough that there are two courses as close together as Kempton and Sandown Park, which is likely to be the main beneficiary of any Kempton closure as the expectation is for the King George VI Chase to be transferred there.

When you drive the seven miles from Kempton to Sandown, you pass within a short walk of another well-known track, the now defunct Hurst Park, which closed in 1962. Hurst Park was built on part of the old Hampton Court Racecourse (closed in the 1880’s) plus some extra land and staged the Victoria Cup, now at Ascot. I believe I saw the last running of that race, and for many years always told whoever would listen that I backed the winner, King of Saba. I did back it, but I found out recently it finished second.

The differences in the make-up of the two tracks – Kempton is Pancake flat, Sandown tight around the bends but stiff uphill at the finish – bother some observers who believe that the King George’s traditional nature will be lost.

A major bug-bear for me over the years has been the insistence, even among leading trainers, especially Nicky Henderson, Kempton’s major spokesperson, that Kempton is a notably sharp course. Non-stayers rarely win three-mile races there as they are usually truly-run, while the King George itself, with a high-class field and winter going is always a true stamina test.

I’ve had a lot of luck at Kempton, most notably with a horse called Tangognat. He lined up for his second start under Rod Simpson’s care for the three-year-old maiden on Easter Monday April 8 1985 after finishing third on debut in a Leicester claimer.

Starting 20-1 in a field of 10, he swept to the front two furlongs out and won by 20 lengths from Fire of Life, later winner of the Italian St Leger for Ian Balding. Four days later we went back to the track for a conditions race and won by 15 lengths, each time loving the rare (for Kempton) heavy going. After two flops on faster ground, he went on to win a couple of nice juvenile hurdles around Cheltenham before fast ground in the Triumph effectively ended his career.

In more recent times, Kempton has been a good winning venue for Ray Tooth’s horses, Fair Trade winning both over hurdles and in a jumpers’ bumper, in which now abandoned category, Cousin Khee was also successful. I can still picture Skeleton’s rocketing home, passing almost the entire field in the last furlong under Silvestre De Sousa while an always fond memory is of Lawyers Choice.

The late Pat Eddery trained this filly to win twice, at 16’s at Wolverhampton and then at 25-1 at Kempton in my first year on the Tooth team. She has since proved a diamond as dam of both Dutch Art Dealer and Dutch Law, the latter sold for 150k last autumn after a four-year-old campaign when he won £80,000 for his owner-breeder.

Dutch Art Dealer, now six, raced for the Paul Cole stable until changing hands for an almost unbelievable 3,000gns last backend. He had his first run for new trainer Ivan Furtado at Newcastle recently and bolted up off 80 and I reckon that even though 6lb higher, he can follow up back at Kempton tomorrow night.

I think of Chelmsford and Newmarket almost as my local tracks, but it is 45 miles to the old Essex Showground and 60 to HQ. Kempton, if I go the direct (thus traffic-strangling) route through Central London, is barely 20 miles away, and that was always the balancing factor as I strove to get there each night meeting a few years back when I was lucky enough to host the evening entertainment in the Panoramic Restaurant.

Kempton featured some talented performers in those days, along with excellent food and one of the regular and most admired singers had been a contemporary of Kate Winslet’s at stage school. She recalled the future star of Titanic was just “OK at singing and dancing, and a little better at acting”. Not much different from attitudes in racing among trainers and their relative abilities.

Those evenings were a highlight in my later incarnation. From those days, so many of the Kempton personnel have gone on to bigger and better things in Jockey Club Racecourses, notably Paul Fisher, who signed me up, and Amy Starkey, now the boss at Newmarket. Good luck to them. I’m sure they’ll shed a collective tear, like me, if and when their alma mater goes.

SotD Update, 9th to 14th January 2017

Another consistent week of results (312124) kept the recent good form going for SotD and with the winners paying out at 5/1 and 4/1, a profit of 5pts was returned, taking us to a healthy 9pts for the month at the halfway point.

And whilst it's pleasing to be able to report profitable weeks, the monthly/quarterly/yearly figures are more important, but we're well on the way to securing January already. We've another 14 opportunities this month and we're already in a position where 1 maybe 2 more winners will be enough. Ideally, our normal strike rate will lick in and we'll grab 4, but let's see how it goes!

Selections & Results : 09/01/17 to 14/01/17

09/01 : Palenville (adv 9/4 BOG) : 3rd at 5/2
10/01 : L'Inganno Felice (adv 5/1 BOG) : WON at 11/4
11/01 : Stay Out Of Court (adv 11/4 BOG) : 2nd at 3/1
12/01 : Midnight Jade (adv 5/2 BOG) : WON at 4/1
13/01 : Speed Freak (adv 7/2 BOG) : 2nd at 3/1
14/01 : Ericht (adv 7/2 BOG) : 4th at 7/2

09/01/17 to 14/01/17 :
2 winning bets from 6 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +5.00pts

January 2017:
4 winners from 12 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +9.00pts
ROI = +75.00%

Overall:
444 winners from 1603 = 27.70% S.R
P/L: +381.73pts
ROI: +23.81%

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.

Stat of the Day, 16th January 2017

Saturday's Result :

12.55 Kempton : Ericht @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 7/2 Jumped left at times, tracked leaders, left in 2nd place 6th, lost 2nd 8th, outpaced and never going from next, tailed off

Monday's pick goes in the...

2.35 Plumpton

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?

Kid Kalanisi @ 11/4 BOG

Why?

This 6 yr old was a winner last time out three weeks ago under today's jockey Nick Scholfield, who is 6/28 (21.4% SR) for 8.43pts (+30.1% ROI) here at Plumpton since the start of 2015.

And since the start of 2008. trainer Jeremy Scott's handicap hurdlers who were LTO winners within the previous 30 days, "doubled up" on 17 of 70 occasions (24.3% SR) for profits of 37.4pts (+53.4%), including...

  • those priced at 11/8 to 9/1 are 16/50 (32%) for 40.6pts (+81.2%)
  • those last seen 6-21 days ago are 11/36 (30.6%) for 16pts (+44.4%)
  • those that were Jeremy's only runner of the day are 6/29 (20.7%) for 8.33pts (+28.7%)
  • those ridden by Nick Scholfield are 8/27 (29.6%) for 6.97pts (+25.8%)
  • and on Soft ground expected today : 3/8 (37.5%) for 4.02pts (+50.2%)

I mentioned just there about This being Jeremy's only runner of the day and I had a closer look and found that he does pretty well when only having the one out. Since the start of 2011, 58 of his 342 (17% SR) "solo flyers" have been winners, returning level stakes profits of 244pts at a verey healthy ROI of 71.4%, of which Nock has ridden 24 winners from 162 (14.8%) for 155.9pts (+96.2%), whilst Class 4 races have seen 28 winners from 153 (18.3%) and 142.9pts (+93.4%) profits.

...pointing to...a 1pt win bet on Kid Kalanisi @ 11/4 BOG which was offered by Bet365 and about 17 others at 8.35pm on Sunday, so we should all be able to get on! To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 2.35 Plumpton

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

When Classy Hurdlers Go Chasing…

There is understandable excitement when a high-class hurdler proven in open company goes chasing, writes Tony Keenan. The horse may have been Champion or Stayers Hurdle level with a mark in the high-150s or even 160s and the expectation is that they will translate that form to fences. However, I’m generally sceptical of this kind of prospective chaser, working off the truism that it is difficult to teach older horses new tricks.

Just as in the human world where a young child can pick up a new language with relative ease, older people tend to struggle with learning a foreign tongue. It makes sense that this would apply with horses too. The typical national hunt horse might start its career in bumpers at the backend end of its fourth or fifth year, run two or three times before being put away for novice hurdles the following season where it might have four or five runs. As a then six- or seven-year-old, it would then go chasing rather than stay over hurdles. Those horses that do stay over hurdles seem at a disadvantage as a larger proportion of their short careers are spent doing something other than chasing and this lack of practice can prove detrimental to their prospects over fences.

That’s the theory at least but with all theories it’s best to test them against a body of evidence. Ideally, I wanted to look at the record of horses going chasing that had varying numbers of hurdles runs but unfortunately the excellent HorseRaceBase didn’t have the facility to run that system which must be the only thing missing from their database; if any readers have access to other databases they might like to look at the figures for themselves. So instead I took a different tack and decided to look at the records of the best chasers in Ireland along with the best hurdlers (non-novices) that went chasing in the same jurisdiction.

I began with the 50 top-rated chasers in Ireland currently, a listed that is topped by Don Cossack on 177 and completed by Mozoltov on 149. Of those top 50, only five were better over hurdles than over fences and in many cases the differences were minimal; they were Champagne Fever (chase 156, hurdle 157), Rule The World (153, 156), Shaneshill (153, 156), Zabana (153, 155) and Identity Thief (150, 159). Of the 27 chasers rated highest, only one (Un De Sceaux) had more than one season over hurdles and the average seasons spent hurdling across the top 50 was 1.2, the average hurdle runs being 6.6. The vast majority of our top chasers have gone over fences directly after their novice hurdle season with their average hurdles mark being 141.9 and their average chase figure 156.6, an improvement of just over a stone, and a number we’ll return to later. This improvement is readily explainable as there is only so high most novice hurdlers can rate given the races in which they run.

Next, I looked at the record of the best Irish horses who spent at least two seasons over hurdles that later went chasing. Starting with the 2006/7 season to present, there were 31 such horses and they are listed below with their peak hurdle and chase marks (for those that didn’t get official marks I made an estimate based on what they achieved):

 

Horse Hurdle Mark Chase Mark Difference Chase Runs Chase Wins
Taglietelle 154 125 29 5 0
Monksland 157 149 8 7 2
Identity Thief 159 150 9 3 2
Alpha Des Obeaux 158 147 11 5 2
Diamond King 157 148 9 3 1
Lieutenant Colonel 156 149 7 4 1
Gwencily Berbas 151 130 21 3 0
Briar Hill 155 142 13 4 1
Kitten Rock 160 148 12 4 4
Tiger Roll 150 146 4 10 3
Rebel Fitz 155 155 0 9 6
Un De Sceaux 156 172 -16 10 6
Oscars Well 162 152 10 12 2
Rule The World 158 150 8 15 1
Tarla 150 144 6 6 2
So Young 158 115 43 2 0
Whatuthink 152 143 9 21 1
Donnas Palm 161 140 21 17 2
Blackstairmountain 152 147 5 6 2
Oscar Dan Dan 151 128 23 4 1
Shinrock Paddy 150 136 14 10 0
Powerstation 157 130 27 9 2
Muirhead 158 143 15 21 3
Catch Me 164 141 23 10 1
Aitmatov 160 131 29 8 0
Sizing Europe 167 177 -10 31 17
Jered 158 142 16 8 1
Harchibald 166 143 23 1 0
Sonnyanjoe 150 116 34 5 0
Adamant Approach 151 142 9 16 4
Rosaker 154 120 34 1 1

 

The most obvious point to make about classy hurdlers going chasing is that they regress for the switch to the tune of about a stone. There are exceptions, notably Sizing Europe, but also Un De Sceaux and Rebel Fitz; but as a general rule this is probably a negative move which brings up the question of why connections might want to do this. If the motivation is that the horse will improve for fences, the evidence suggests this is unlikely but if it is simply that they want to pick up some soft races back against novice chasers then it is probably a fair move; the horse may have reached its ceiling in open company over hurdles and be disqualified from races it can win whereas the switch to fences opens up other avenues.

Jumping would be a concern with these switchers but it is not necessarily backed up by the statistics; this group of classy hurdlers had a fall/unseat rate of 8.1%, which is below average. I covered this in an article last year and the national average in the period covered is around 10%. That said, I do wonder if these horses are more careful at their fences than those who went chasing earlier in their careers.

Of the 32 horses listed above, Noel Meade had seven of them (Monksland, Donnas Palm, Muirhead, Aitmatov, Jered, Harchibald and Rosaker) and it’s hard to make a case that any of them were much of a success over fences: Muirhead may have won a Munster National but that feels fluky along the lines of Tiger Roll’s win the in the same race and Rule The World’s Grand National victory this past year. If any punter found that pair, I admire your perseverance and hope your bank was still intact!

Willie Mullins had six such horses and Un De Sceaux has been a triumph, especially given his early jumping woes, but Henry De Bromhead is the one that stands out. From a single classy hurdler going chasing, he produced Sizing Europe which gives hope for the long-term prospects of currently injured Identity Thief who fits a similar mould.

It has been understandably difficult for these classy hurdlers, many of whom will have competed and even won at Grade 1 level over hurdles, to compete at the top level though there is an interesting contrast to how such horses do over different trips. Both Sizing Europe and Un De Sceaux won a number of Grade 1 chases around two miles as did Blackstairmountain, Barker and Mansony. The record of such horses over staying trips however is dismal with only Zabana at the most recent Punchestown Festival winning a Grade 1 chase over three miles or further.

Interestingly, this is backed up by the hurdles record of the winners of the feature chases at the Cheltenham Festival. Recent winners of the Champion Chase like Sire De Grugy, Dodging Bullets, Sizing Europe and Moscow Flyer all spent an extra season over hurdles but we have to go back to Imperial Call in 1996 to find the last Gold Cup winner who didn’t go straight over fences after its novice hurdle season.

All of which brings us nicely on to the current season where Thistlecrack is making a mockery of any such concerns in the staying chase division. But great horses will always make general rules seem silly and I’d be more interested in how the more typical classy hurdler going chasing will do. In the current season, we have seven such horses and the early returns have been ordinary. The group comprises Taglietelle, Identity Thief, Alpha Des Obeaux, Diamond King, Lieutenant Colonel, Gwencily Berbas and Briar Hill. While Identity Thief might yet make the grade over fences – he has both trip preference and trainer in his favour – most of the others are likely to compete over further and history points to them falling well short of their hurdles high in this sphere.

- Tony Keenan

SotD Update, 2nd to 7th January 2017

My first roundup of 2017 is a happy one, as we started the new year in pretty much the same vein as we ended the last one. A run of results reading 13361F would be more than satisfactory every week and with winners at 7/2 and 9/2, it meant a 4pt profit to kick the month off to a flyer.

It also means that the last fortnight has produced 5 winners from 12 for 16.5pts profit, an ideal tonic for those of you suffering from the post-Christmas blues and a clear indication that we intend 2017 to be yet another profitable year for SotD, whilst from a landmark point of view (non-runners aside), we should be giving you our 1600th selection this week!

Selections & Results : 02/01/17 to 07/01/17

02/01 : Shimba Hills (adv 7/2 BOG) : WON at 9/4
03/01 : Proud Gamble (adv 11/4 BOG) : 3rd at 7/1
04/01 : Bollihope (adv 11/4 BOG) : 3rd at 2/1
05/01 : Elusive Cowboy (adv 3/1 BOG) : 6th at 9/4
06/01 : Dreams of Glory (adv 9/2 BOG) : WON at 5/2
07/01 : Fox Appeal (adv 9/2 BOG) : fell at 4/1

02/01/17 to 07/01/17 :
2 winning bets from 6 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +4.00pts

January 2017:
2 winners from 6 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +4.00pts
ROI = +66.66%

Overall:
442 winners from 1597 = 27.68% S.R
P/L: +376.73pts
ROI: +23.59%

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 Musing: Channel Hopping and Interrupted Airwaves

No Bank Holiday this week? Then I’d better crack on, writes Tony Stafford. There has been an unreal feel to the past fortnight, but everyone should be getting back to work, unless they travel on London Underground, that is, where I understand there’s a strike today; or Southern Railway, where there usually is.

One good friend, Prince Pippy, called yesterday for his tri-monthly catch-up and our chat touched on those travel difficulties which often prevent his sister’s managing to reach London from Brighton. Of more concern to him was the damaging stand-off between the Arena Racing Company (ARC) and several major bookmaking chains over the broadcasting of pictures from the 15 tracks they control – those of the original Arena Leisure group and Northern Racing tracks formerly owned by the late Sir Stanley Clarke.

William Hill, whose yearly results are due this morning when the City are anticipating the green shoots of recovery <nice cliché, Ed>, and Paddy Power are in the “in” corner, having agreed, along with a sizeable number of independents, to pay ARC for their pictures. Ladbrokes and Coral, their merged main rivals for supremacy, and Betfred, staunchly refuse to join them.

I didn’t plan to visit a betting shop later today, and if I did it would almost certainly be to a William Hill outlet as they have almost a monopoly around here. And, more critically, it’s possible to park for free nearby – a rarity in the London Borough of Hackney.

I’ve had a bit of an Internet look at the William Hill situation, whereby it appears they have been attempting to find a suitable successor to James Henderson, their last Chief Executive, who resigned last year apparently because of the “digital decline of its online verticals”. If, like me, you are still mystified, look it up on the net.

But to return to Pippy, as he suggested, Ladbrokes and their allies in this dispute will be unable to show action from any of the three fixtures from Doncaster, Lingfield and Wolverhampton, all ARC tracks. I first got wind of this last week, when another pal, Roger, called from Yarmouth asking if I was watching the racing at home.

I was, and then he said: “are they near the start?” “Where are you?” I replied. “In Ladbrokes, but there’s no pictures, can you give me a commentary?” Apparently someone had had a decent bet and was shocked that he couldn’t see what was happening. Needless to say, the horse lost. They always do when you can’t see it. And when you can.

According to Charlie Brooks, writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ladbrokes intend relaying an in-house commentary, without pictures, from an employee watching in an office at their HQ. There are also plans for the firm to offer their shop punters an app (getting the hang of this techno talk!) enabling them to get the pictures on their mobile phones.

As usual it’s all about price, as with the always-contentious Betting Levy which Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has recommended should be based at ten per cent of gross profits from both retail and online bookmakers in the Levy replacement scheme to be implemented by April 1.

The Sports Minister, born in Ashford, Kent, and an old girl of Folkestone School for Girls and the University of Hull, might sometimes rue the fact that her local course, Folkestone, also under the ARC banner, remains frustratingly closed. Could she not intervene?

The chat is mostly about televising of racing in these early days of 2017. The much-heralded hand-over of terrestrial free broadcasting of racing from Channel Four to ITV has brought varying degrees of approval, presumably on the grounds of previously-held opinions on the broadcasters that have found their way onto the “new” team.

I did switch over during Saturday’s racing from Sandown a couple of times, but remain more attuned to Racing UK. The one thing I found grating was the repeated screaming of Luke Harvey that Finian’s Oscar was “a champion” after his 32 Red Tolworth Novice Hurdle win, when runner-up Capitaine was brought to a complete standstill by a mistake at a crucial part of the race. The fact Capitaine recovered to take second, five lengths behind the admittedly easy winner, up the run-in makes Luke’s insistence somewhat questionable.

Harvey has history. On Attheraces he portrays himself basically as a buffoon. His tipping skills are negligible as is the blatantly off-the-cuff manner in which he has historically arrived at them on his two-man show with Jason Weaver. To his new audience, though, he is presented as an expert. Time will tell. One of the many critiques of the new team I’ve seen reckoned that, in their initial broadcast, four people seemed to be talking at the same time. That’s Luke.

It was with some surprise that I discovered that what goes for terrestrial television may not be what it seems. One pensioner – she must be old, she’s my age! – down in Cornwall is in an area which cannot receive ITV4, on which subsidiary channel most if not all the new team’s output will be restricted until the Cheltenham Festival.

Even though ITV4 is on Freeview, it is unavailable in certain outposts of the country, including where that particular pensioner lives. She’s a big fan of racing. If there’s a Ladbrokes anywhere near, she can go there today and listen to the commentaries, but she won’t see too much! <Or she could get the internet or use her phone, Ed>

It appears ITV is unlikely to get any better in recognising Jack Quinlan’s talents in the saddle than the other broadcasting outlets. After he rode an exemplary race to win on the Amy Murphy-trained Mercian Prince, coming late and strong up the final hill in a competitive handicap chase, trainer and her father Paul, the owner-breeder, along with the horse, got all the plaudits. Naturally he didn’t get a mention at all in the Racing Post the following day – what’s new?

We’ve had no action with the Raymond Tooth horses since well before Christmas, but the home-bred juveniles are now all but one – hang on a bit longer Mick Channon, he’s been gelded – with their intended trainers.

It was planned to have a runner at Wolverhampton on Friday, but Mick Quinn decided against running Circuit – hope he enjoyed Liverpool’s gallant draw with Plymouth yesterday. In the event, it was slightly irritating in that Camaradorie, the horse which finished third at 100-1 and should have won the race with any luck in running, was a place behind Circuit when Ray’s filly made her debut at Chelmsford.

Mick has one of the two-year-olds, a daughter of Mayson and the Dubawi mare Grass Green, but he was especially happy to take renewed charge of six-times-placed Stanhope, who returned from Shropshire having dropped two stones, but has rather more than that to shed after his grass-gorging break. The trainer and owner will be disappointed if he doesn’t get that first win on the board pretty soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Stat of the Day, 9th January 2017

Saturday's Result :

2.05 Wincanton : Fox Appeal @ 9/2 BOG fell at 4/1 Close up when field came into view 6th, led narrowly when came into view again briefly 4 out

Monday's pick goes in the...

5.05 Wolverhampton

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

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

Who?

Palenville @ 9/4 BOG

Why?

A quick look at the Trainer Snippets 2yr report on Geegeez Gold suggested to me that Simon Crisford's A/W runners were worth a second look, especially his handicappers and with a career record of 27 from 127 (21.3% SR) for level stakes profits of 29.6pts at an ROI of 23.3%, it's an excellent pointer.

Of those 127 runners...

  • handicappers are 15/60 (25%) for 27.4pts (+45.7%)
  • here at Wolverhampton, its 11/32 (34.4%) for 10.78pts (+33.7%)
  • 4 yr olds are 5/20 (25%) for 13.57pts (+67.8%)
  • and in Wolverhampton handicaps : 7/18 (38.9%) for 14.24pts (+79.1%)

Palenville comes here in decent if not quite sparkling form, having made the frame in each of her last three runs (232), the latest coming as a runner-up at Kempton 26 days ago when she probably needed the run after an absence of 133 days, she's entitled to come on for having had the run.

She also becomes of interest in her own right, because since 2013 here at Wolverhampton over 6 and 7 furlongs, 4 & 5 yr olds who finished second or third in each of their last two starts and have been rested for at least 11 days since they last ran, are 21 from 88 (23.9% SR) for 68.1pts (+77.4% ROI) with the following of relevance today...

  • handicappers are 18/74 (24.3%) for 66.2pts (+89.4%)
  • on Tapeta : 13/54 (24.1%) for 48.6pts (+89.9%)
  • over 7f : 16/50 (32%) for 61.5pts (+123%)
  • at class 5 : 9/32 (28.1%) for 21.5pts (+67.1%)

...leading to...a 1pt win bet on Palenville @ 9/4 BOG which was widely available at 8.50pm on Sunday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 5.05 Wolverhampton

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

Harry Cobden “Conditionally Speaking” 3rd January 2017

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you've all gorged yourselves on turkey and the trimmings while us jockeys have been on the usual diet of gruel and water!

Quite a lot has been happening since my last blog, what with it being a busier time over the festive period with lots of rides to share around. Saying that, I've only had four for the boss, but it's been a case of quality over quantity there.

One of the rides for Mr Nicholls was on the smart hurdler, Mr Mix. He won the Pertemps Qualifier on Boxing Day at Wincanton (one of the lads has dubbed it 'Wincobden' (!), as I've ridden 16 winners from 36 rides there) off a mark of 139. He probably did it a little better than the winning margin of three-quarters of a length suggests: having got hampered at the top of the hill, I had a lovely run down the inner and when he hit the front he just dossed a bit. That may be just as well as it could keep him a stride ahead of the handicapper with luck, and I'd be hopeful there's a bit more in the tank. He's a very nice horse who is now qualified for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.

If Mr Mix was the Boxing Day high I didn't have to wait long to be brought back down to earth with a bump. 35 minutes later I rode a mare called Antarctica de Thaix. She'd been left in the lead at the third fence, and was cantering a distance clear before just crumpling on landing at the third last, giving me no chance. I felt very sorry for the owners, but they were quite calm and understanding.

There was still time on the same day to get stuck in a ditch when a melee ensued in a handicap chase which had to be declared void when none of the horses managed to complete; and to ride a promising sort in the closing bumper. Johanos was his name, and I think he will win a novice hurdle in due course. He's a big scopy type who definitely wants more of a trip, and could be one to look out for at a price given his trainer, Nigel Hawke, isn't the most high profile handler.

Sadly, I was on the deck again the next day, as Richard Woollacott's Millanisi Boy was just backing out of it having run a fair race to that point in a decent three mile handicap hurdle. He's likely to go novice chasing now, and might be worth a second glance if the ground comes up heavy.

My last winner of 2016 was for Warren Greatrex. Warren has been looking around for 'best available' after both of his main stable jockeys, Harry Bannister and Gavin Sheehan, have suffered fractures. On this occasion, I rode Reilly's Minor in a Taunton handicap. He'll defintiely stay further and could be ten pounds better when going left-handed (hangs notably left). He runs in the Cole Harden colours, and should win again now he's got his head in front.

My last ride of the old year was on board Lucy Wadham's Game On. He is another big scopy type, by Gamut, and looks capable of going close in a novice hurdle.

Perhaps the nicest horse I've ridden since my last blog is Robinsfirth, who did it really well in a fair beginners' chase on New Year's Day. He's a lovely jumper, travelled like a dream, and stayed on very well. He'd already been given a mark of 135 ahead of this effort and might be a candidate for the novices' handicap chase at the Festival, depending on his revised rating.

He's a big unit - at least 17'2 - and is pretty unexposed after two years off the track. He is a very nice prospect and definitely one for your Geegeez Tracker.

Earlier in the afternoon, I finished second on Michael Blake's Coole Cody. He is a free going type and he travelled really well. I thought I was going to give the winner a run for his money but he just got a little outpaced in the last furlong. He might pay for this performance with the handicapper but, for five grand, the owners look to have bagged themselves a bargain.

In the conditional jockeys' title race, I'm now on 38 winners. Dave Noonan is on 26, Jamie Bargary 25, and Harry Bannister 22.

Here's to more good winners for all of us in 2017.

- Harry Cobden

Monday Musing: New Beginnings

You can take a horse to water, the saying goes, but you can’t make him drink, writes Tony Stafford. You can put racing back on ITV for the first time in 32 years, but if Racing UK and Attheraces start showing races before the new team’s 1 p.m. New Year’s Day opening time, you can’t make us switch over.

So my appreciation of the first offering from the totally “new” team of Ed Chamberlain, Luke Harvey and Sir A P McCoy can only be derived from other people’s appraisals. To think I missed both Luke and Matt Chapman! Now I’ll have to wait until the Festival to see them on ITV proper, as they’ll be on ITV4, while the main channel is apparently showing some compelling 32-year-old movies.

I was, though, able to see the arrival onto the Cheltenham scene of new trainer Samuel (as the racecard says) Drinkwater, at 26 the same age as his better known sporting namesake, Danny, the driving force behind Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League title in 2015-16.

Sam Drinkwater started out as a teenage amateur attached to the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard at a time when both Sam and Willy were at a similar stage in life. In eight seasons’ riding he managed 14 wins from 166 rides under Rules, of which 14 unsuccessful efforts for Nige were presented to him at a time when the trainer averaged around 600 runners per season. Hard to get in there!

He operated mainly in points and hunter chases and in the latter sphere collected three of his wins at Cheltenham, all for Fergal O’Brien. Bradley, 16-1, Dammam 14-1 and the 2-1 favourite Creevytennant were the Prestbury Park triumphant triumvirate from very limited rides for the O’Brien stable.

Sam’s been training pointers for a couple of years now and one of them, the now 15-year-old Working Title gave him an initial success when strolling home at Sedgefield on Boxing Day, having been backed from 20-1 overnight to 5’s, ridden by the trainer’s brother Joe, 20.

Joe Drinkwater had won nine points on the one-time Nicky Henderson horse – rated 142 as a young hurdler – between December 2013 and last March and now was in the plate as he took full advantage of the purely guess-mark of 99, which will no doubt be upgraded tomorrow.

Working Title won pretty much all his pointing starts, apart that is when the trainer stepped in twice, and more publicly and dramatically less successfully when Victoria Pendleton failed to get round on her two acquaintances with the old boy.

Victoria, of course, is another of the new ITV team, and I think she should be made aware that there will be plenty of people trying to get her to buy another “great prospect” or two for between the flags as she maintains her horsey obsession.

But Sam Drinkwater will always be remembered in that his first Cheltenham training success came with a 50-1 shot, recently recruited from the Twiston-Davies stable. He was multiple winner Tour Des Champs, who stayed on bravely to beat Doctor Harper and Tom Scudamore by a short head in the long-distance handicap chase.

Luck seems to stick with the same people and the signs are that young Sam is going to be a chosen one. But for the fact that his licence had not come through when entries for the Coral Welsh Grand National were made, his gelding would no doubt have been admiring Native River from behind as he soared to victory. Thus this target was selected instead.

There are 50-1 chances and then Sam Drinkwater 50-1’s. The local Gloucestershire Live issue of December 30 featured an article saying that while the family celebrated the trainer’s first winner, they were looking forward to Cheltenham and the stable debut of Tour Des Champs.

Sam is quoted as saying that: “Tour Des Champs is a big, stuffy horse, but he’s done twice as much work as our winner”. He goes on to say he trains in a yard with access to 1,000 acres with woods and lakes to keep the horses happy. He has 11 inmates with room for nine more. It won’t take him long to fill them up if he carries on like this.

Raymond Mould’s widow Caroline wanted to sell on a couple of her Twiston-Davies horses, but her daughter Katy suggested offering him to Sam rather than sell him at a sale. Seems like a great idea all round.

When you look in the BHA site, Sam Drinkwater’s only horse with an official rating is Tour Des Champs, the Working Title entry just missing the December 20 deadline. We’ll all be looking closely at anything else he runs, starting with Working Title again at Hereford on Wednesday. He would be carrying 12st5lb, including a 7lb penalty, but the trainer has until the morning to see whether to wait for the new mark.

Willy Twiston-Davies has, unlike his elder brother, been confining his talents to the Flat over the past five seasons, clocking up 189 wins, but the unequal task of keeping his weight down seems to have been lost. Before switching to the Flat aged 18, he’d ridden only eight jumps winners, including once on Tour des Champs.

Yesterday his recent return to jumping brought its first win, with Cogry from whom his previous regular rider, and Willie’s best friend, Ryan Hatch suffered a serious leg injury when falling in a chase over the course last month. Twiston-Davies senior sent him back over hurdles for a confidence boost, which will also have provided Willy with optimism for the immediate future.

With brother Sam fully occupied in his role as Paul Nicholls’ number one, Willy could well have a good few weeks until Hatch comes back.

Another with an optimistic slant on life after a New Year double was Lizzie Kelly, who said afterwards that the stable had been in a miserable phase, with them expecting the horses to run moderately when they did go to the track. So let’s hope for better luck for the very talented Lizzie and the Williams/Kelly family in 2017.

That wish goes out for all trainers, jockeys and owners, although as we know for most it’s an uphill battle. I just had to break off from this for a while for a call from a trainer friend, who can often come up with a witticism.

He was relating why he prefers not to use a particular jockey, whom he says he’s so laid back it’s as though he couldn’t care less. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a lovely lad, but he just never follows instructions. He often comes back and says, ‘You know what, he’d have run much better if I’d have done what you told me!’”

 

 

Stat of the Day, 2nd January 2017

Saturday's Result :

2.40 Lingfield : Natural Scenery @ 9/4 BOG 3rd at 10/11 Raced wide in touch, headway 3f out, led 2f out, ridden and headed inside final furlong, kept on but lost by a length.

Monday's pick goes in the...

3.50 Plumpton

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?

Shimba Hills @ 7/2 BOG

Why?

This 6 yr old gelding was a winner last time out, when ridden by today's jockey over course and distance three weeks ago, so conditions are hardly alien today!

He's trained by Lawney Hill, who is 10 from 47 (21.3% SR) for 59.9pts (+127.5% ROI) here at Plumpton over the past seven years, of which...

  • males are 9/40 (22.5%) for 61.2pts (+153.1%)
  • those returning from a 16-60 day break are 6/30 (20%) for 61pts (+203.3%)
  • hurdlers are 4/24 (16.7%) for 32.3pts (+134.7%)
  • Class 4 runners are 5/21 (23.8%) for 60.5pts (+287.9%)
  • and those ridden by Nick Scholfield are 3/7 (42.9%) for 17.9pts (+255.7%)

Meanwhile, Nick himself is 5 from 25 (20% SR) for 8pts (+32% ROI) at this track in the last two years, winning 4 of 18 handicap contests (22.2%) for 12.5pts (+69.6%) and 2 of 6 (33.3%) Class 4 races for profits of 16.3pts at an ROI of 271.7%.

With regards to Shimba Hills, since 2008 handicap hurdlers with CD next to their name on the racecard and who were also winners (anywhere, any trip) last time out are 322/1636 (19.7% SR) for 203.2pts (+12.5% ROI), of which those who did win over course and distance LTO are 233/1125 (20.7%) for 178.3pts (+15.9%).

Of those 1125 LTO C&D winners....

  • males are 194/925 (21%) for 164.5pts (+17.8%)
  • 6 yr olds are 64/302 (21.2%) for 67.8pts (+22.5%)
  • here at Plumpton : 8/26 (30.8%) for 33.9pts (+130.2%)
  • those ridden by Nick Scholfield are 4/13 (30.8%) for 11.6pts (+89.4%)

And finally...he's Lawney Hill's only runner at this track today, but since 2009 when sending just one runner to a meeting to run in a hurdle contest, she has 43 winners from 294 (14.6% SR) for 101.2pts (+34.4% ROI) profit, including...

  • handicap hurdlers : 31/204 (15.2%) for 76.8pts (+37.6%)
  • Class 4 runners : 20/141 (14.2%) for 90.8pts (+64.4%)
  • and here at Plumpton : 4/12 (33.3%) for 44.3pts (+369.3%)

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Shimba Hills @ 7/2 BOG which was available from my preferred Bet365 and at least 9 others (so we should all get the same price!) at 11.20pm on Sunday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 3.50 Plumpton

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

Stat of the Day: The 2016 Review

Saturday saw us reach the end of the fifth full calendar year for Stat of the Day, which was Geegeez' first real venture into daily tipping.

We know that we acquired lots of new subscribers over the year thanks to previous years' successes, so a brief overview of SotD is as follows...

Whilst form and other variable parameters come in to play when normally making a bet, SotD's first port of call is find runners who fit a stat ( or usually a number of stats) suggesting they will go well.

We aim to have the selection online by the time most people rise for breakfast, where possible and it's usually done well before midnight the night before the meeting.

We try to find runners priced around the 3/1 to 6/1 mark at BOG prices and look for some value in the odds achieved. A large proportion of our selections run at much shorter odds than we advise and constantly beating SP is a key in making long-term profits. Basically, our profit figures aren't massaged by some freakishly long priced winners, nor is our strike rate bolstered by a string of odds-on jollies.

What we do have is a consistent approach that aims to highlight one value selection per day and although this "one-a-day" stats-based approach to bet selection suffers all the obligatory peaks and troughs associated with betting on horses, we have managed to make a profit yet again this year.

Without blowing the collective trumpets of myself, Matt and now Steve, we're very proud of the figures accrued to date and we can safely say there aren't many (if any!) better services around. In fact, most paid-for services would kill for our figures.

Where possible, I'd like SotD to cover your subscriptions to Gold, making the rest of the site free to use as you see fit and in 2016, a level stake of £5.38 was all that was needed to cover a £249 per year annual subscription.

A full month-by-month analysis of SotD's results can, of course, always be found at
http://www.geegeez.co.uk/stat-of-the-day-month-by-month/ , but the overall picture for 2016 was as follows:

Number of bets/selections/pts wagered: 294 (quite a few non-runners this year)
Winning Bets: 70
Strike Rate: 23.81%

Yearly Profit: 46.24pts
Profit on Stakes Invested: 15.73%

These are quite impressive figures considering we give a selection every day rain or shine, if we say so ourselves and we'll be doing our level best to maintain our success in 2017.

Thanks for sticking with us/SotD,
Chris, Matt, Steve and the whole Geegeez team.

***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 now?

Click here for more details.

SotD Update, 26th to 31st December 2016

Three winners and two placers from six selections not only brought another month to a satisfactorily profitable conclusion, it also rounded off another good year for Stat of the Day, more on that to follow in due course, though.

It was also the perfect response to a run of seven consecutive losses pre-Christmas, as we weighed in with 12.5pts profit over the week. And I say we, because SotD is not all my own work. Sometimes, I'm on holiday, sometimes I'm just unavailable and when that happens, Matt and Steve are there to provide cover.

And so it was on Thursday, I was at a wedding and Steve stepped in and picked his first of what I'm sure will be many winners for you and at 4/1 backed in to 2/1, also represented excellent value.

Selections & Results : 26/12/16 to 31/12/16

26/12 : Chakisto (adv 7/1 BOG) : WON at 3/1
27/12 : Pobbles Bay (adv 9/2 BOG) : WON at 9/2
28/12 : Foundation Man (adv 4/1 BOG) : 2nd at 6/1
29/12 : Fern Owl (adv 4/1 BOG) : WON at 2/1
30/12 : Thello (adv 5/1 BOG) : 5th at 5/2
31/12 : Natural Scenery (adv 9/4 BOG) : 3rd at 10/11

26/12/16 to 31/12/16 :
3 winning bets from 6 = 50.00% SR
P/L: +12.50pts

December:
8 winners from 23 = 34.78% SR
P/L: +18.00pts
ROI = +78.26%

Overall:
440 winners from 1591 = 27.66% S.R
P/L: +372.73pts
ROI: +23.43%

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

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.

The Pick of the Posts in 2016

It's been a tremendous year for content on geegeez.co.uk. As well as our one-a-day tipping service, Stat of the Day, adding 47.24 points to its own bottom line (having been -27.22 at the end of April), we also introduced Race of the Day as a free daily post showcasing various Gold components. Although not a tipping piece per se, Race of the Day does highlight horses which might be favoured by conditions, including 50/1 Hartforth and 28/1 Barton Gift in the last fortnight alone.

Away from the tipping, I believe the standard of editorial has stepped up a notch in 2016, and has set a high bar for 2017 - a challenge to which the geegeez team will doubtless rise. Before then, though, here is the pick of the posts from the last year.

On Betting and Handicapping

The Handicapping Process: An Approach
Reverse Handicapping Process
Value: The Reverse Rule 4 Method

Data Nuggets From Which To Profit

Why Horses Fall
Playing with the Favourite/Longshot Bias
Jockey Ratings: A Few Thoughts
Trainer Angles: Point and Shoot vs Education
18 Golden Trainer Snippets

Punting Editorial

"Any fool can back 35% winners"
Why Sectionals Matter
Gigginstown/Mullins Split
IE Snare Update

Racing Editorial

Farewell to a Friend
Do Jockeys Get Enough Respect?
The 'Best' Exploiter of the System?
10 Things from 2016, 5 More for 2017

Geegeez Gold Adver-Tutorials 😉

The Instant Expert
Geegeez Q&A
Just One Way To Profit from Geegeez
Finding Winners When There's No Form in the Book

Tony Stafford’s Extra Mince Pie…

So I ate an extra mince pie rather than keep to the schedule, writes Tony Stafford. If apologies are in order, then sorry, but I’m sure you had something better to do rather than read about horseracing, at least my sometimes oblique slant on it. It was probably also that I knew I would be having a bit of a rant.

A few hours’ sleep would mellow me a little, I thought, but all night long, visions of something I hadn’t fully believed at the time, intruded on some fitful slumber. It’s all too easy to criticise a jockey – in the country’s 8,809 (March 2016) betting shops, people who watch every day will show you how with a vengeance – but I rarely notice, which suggests they (jockeys) might be generally competent.

But once in a while a ride is so out of kilter with the norm that even my customary lethargy is disturbed. Such a ride was perpetrated at Kempton Park on Boxing Day by Daryl Jacob, and I’m sure that after Might Bite’s last-fence fall when as the Racing Post reported, he was 18 lengths clear, trainer Nicky Henderson and owners The Knot Again Partnership will have been looking for an explanation of the latter portion of the ride.

Lining up for the two and a half mile Grade 1 Kauto Star Novice Chase, Might Bite was rightly one of the leading contenders, having won four of his eight career starts over three seasons and one of his two novice chases, for each of which he’d started 2-1 on favourite.

Firstly on chase debut at Newbury in November he was rallying under Nico de Boinville, his hitherto regular partner, when a blunder at the last fence resulted in a half-length defeat. Then earlier this month at Doncaster, with Jacob replacing the injured de Boinville, he made all, was left clear at the tenth, hit two out and then allowed to coast home.

Yesterday, once again Might Bite was ridden prominently, and after some initial skirmishes, went clear readily from the fourth-last fence. By the straight it seemed only a fall would prevent connections from collecting the £40,000 first prize. At the second-last he was well clear, whereupon Jacob had a look round at his toiling rivals, but unlike at Doncaster, for some reason he decided to go for broke.

He could hardly have detected danger from behind, but he proceeded to administer three strong left-hand blows with the whip and as they stretched ever further clear, kept riding vigorously and hurled him at the final obstacle. I must say I fully expected the outcome, a heavy fall, and there has been nothing since to convince me that a more measured performance from two out would have given the team a more than adequate winning margin.

Had he got over the last, he’d have won by an official “distance”. Instead it was left to Royal Vacation, at 33-1, to collect the trophy and the accolades for the seemingly-blessed Colin Tizzard stable. While Henderson was in the process of enduring a most un-Henderson-like Kempton Boxing Day – he had two minor winners elsewhere – Tizzard was enjoying the benefits of unworldly stable riches. As he said later, once Thistlecrack – yes I’ve finally got round to him – was aimed at the King George and a clash with Cue Card, then he was looking around for “something for the novice” and the solid, dependable and now top-flight winner Royal Vacation fitted the bill.

You’ll read plenty about Thistlecrack elsewhere, and his exemplary performance in just his fourth chase, beating Cue Card and a rallying Silviniaco Conti – unwilling to adhere to his unflattering 20-1 odds - with great authority.

So he’s a general 5-4 shot for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with the likelihood of a second novice winner of the race in three runnings after a 41-year gap between Captain Christy, whose victory I’ve just reprised on the internet, remembering my winning bet, and Coneygree last year, who had previously run over fences only three times.

In that regard Thistlecrack will have an experience edge on his predecessor, and will also, at nine next week, be a year older than the Bradstock family horse was when he won the Gold Cup. Coneygree missed Kempton, having chased home Cue Card at Haydock last month, but could well be in attendance at Prestbury Park in March having missed the race in 2016.

There might not seem, at first sight, to be too many similarities in the breeding of these two outstanding stayers. Coneygree, winner of nine of his 12 career starts, is by the multiple Group 3 winning miler/10 furlong performer Karinga Bay. John Oaksey, looking for a mate for Coneygree’s mother Plaid Maid settled on Karinga Bay because he was a son of the Noble Lord’s favourite horse, Ardross.

By contrast, Thistlecrack is a son of Kayf Tara, twice winner of both the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Irish St Leger and the perennial champion jumps stallion based in the UK. He is now 22 and will stand for a private fee at Overbury Stud next year.

But then the plot thickens. Ardross, also a dual Gold Cup winner, appears in Thistlecrack’s pedigree, as the maternal grand sire and father of the Tizzard champion’s dam, Ardstown. So they both have pedigrees packed with stamina. If anything, Thistlecrack carries a double dose of staying power and with 13 wins in 18 starts so far, it looks as though he’s just getting going.

For his first ten outings, he was beaten, then won, five times in a row, explaining perhaps why in his eighth start, in the long distance novice hurdle at Aintree in April last year, he started 25-1. The margin of success might have been less than the eventual 13 lengths had the weakening Alpha Des Obeaux not fallen late on. Beaten next time in Ireland, he has since won nine in a row in his last 19 months’ action.

It is interesting to delve further into the respective abilities of the two broodmares. Both raced over fences – Ardstown exclusively, collecting three pointing wins for the Knipes, who bred Thistlecrack, and four over fences from 23 career starts.

Plaid Maid won once over hurdles, and like her counterpart, four times over fences under rules in 19 career outings. She was a year younger than Ardstown, and eerily the pair met on the racecourse at Newbury on March 24 2001 in a decent 12-runner field which also included the former Champion Hurdler, Collier Bay.

The then 10-year-old Ardstown had been confined to hunter chases in both 2000 and the early part of 2001, but trainer Venetia Williams, considering the lightly-made mare unsuited hefting big weights, found her a suitable race over the three-mile trip. She was 4lb wrong in the weights, meaning her official 107 rating was swollen to 111 for the race.

Plaid Maid was conceding 7lb and at the finish Ardstown and Norman Williamson had a six-length margin over her and A P McCoy. That equates to an almost identical level of ability for the pair. Ardstown never won again, whereas Plaid Maid had one more payday next time out, before they both went on to their real purpose in life – producing jump racing legends.