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

geegeez.co.uk Welcomes Major New Signing

As part of our ongoing efforts to make more racing fans aware of geegeez.co.uk, I'm delighted to share that we've agreed a significant new sponsorship for the 2019 season.

Alongside the existing arrangements we have to display the geegeez logo on the kit of 100+ winners per season flat rider David Probert, exciting conditional Rex Dingle, and the top class jumps stable of Anthony Honeyball, you'll now see the increasingly familiar blue and white livery on the breeches of the northern racing scene's rising star, Callum Rodriguez.

Rodriguez had a breakthrough season in 2018, riding 68 winners. That followed 39 victories in 2017 and 13 in the previous two seasons. He's already scored nine times in 2019 and looks set for another career best this year.

Riding mainly for the stables of Michael Dods and Keith Dalgleish, Callum - who is based in Malton, North Yorkshire - has won on horses trained by 22 different trainers since the start of last year, including the likes of Brian Ellison and Stuart Williams.

Last season's highlights included wins aboard Get Knotted at York, and Intense Romance in a pair of Listed races at Ayr and Ascot. His career highlight to date was, of course, winning the Ebor, Europe's most valuable handicap, in 2017 atop the durable and talented Nakeeta.

I'm really excited to see how 'Cal Rod' goes this term, and of course, I'm thrilled to see such an upwardly mobile, talented and ambitious jockey as Callum sporting our brand. He shares the geegeez.co.uk ethos and seems to be a great lad.

Welcome, then, to Callum Rodriguez!

Matt

Pace Wins The Race: 5f All Weather Handicaps

We still have several weeks of the all-weather season left so I have decided to look to see how strong the pace bias is on the sand, writes Dave Renham. I have not previously looked in detail at all weather pace bias in my Geegeez articles so now seemed as good a time as any.

Just in case you have not read my previous articles on pace I will briefly summarise a few things. Firstly when I discuss pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and specifically the position horses take up early on. Most of you will be aware that on geegeez.co.uk racecards there is a pace section, and the stats in this article are based on the site’s pace data.

This info is split into four groups - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up, and after each race all the horses are assigned points in regards to which position they took up early in the race. Leaders get 4, prominent runners 3, horses that ran midfield 2, and those held up score 1. Just over 96% of all UK and Irish runs since 2009 have been scored, the other 4% unable to rated from the comment. For clarity, at the time of writing, 1,169,760 of 1,218,499 comments have been scored.

In previous articles, I have highlighted certain distances / race types that generally favour front runners both on the flat and over the jumps. My first five articles looked at 5f handicaps where pace bias is arguably at its strongest, but I did not look in detail at any course data for the six UK all weather tracks – my main focus was turf handicaps. Hence, a touch belatedly perhaps, it is time to address that now!

The first set of data I wish to share with you is the overall pace stats for 5f all weather handicaps with 6 or more runners (the data for this article has been taken from the last 5 complete years, 2014 to 2018):

 

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 254 1137 22.3 2.04
Prominent (3) 360 2874 12.5 1.15
Mid Division (2) 67 1026 6.5 0.62
Held Up (1) 183 2735 6.7 0.61

 

These figures clearly illustrate the advantage to horses which have led, or disputed the lead, in 5f all-weather handicaps. In fact, the Impact Values - a measure of how much  more likely than normal something is to happen, 1 being 'normal' - suggest that 5f handicap pace bias is slightly stronger on the all weather than it is on the turf.

The main data cover all handicaps with six or more runners; I have next looked at splitting these data into groups – 6 to 8 runners; 9 – 10 runners; 11 or more runners. Here are my findings:

 

6 to 8 runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 119 459 25.9 1.86
Prominent (3) 138 956 14.4 1.04
Mid Division (2) 22 249 8.8 0.64
Held Up (1) 65 757 8.6 0.62

 

9 to 10 runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 85 446 19.1 1.81
Prominent (3) 146 1083 13.5 1.28
Mid Division (2) 30 435 6.9 0.66
Held Up (1) 68 1125 6.0 0.57

 

11 or more runners

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 50 232 21.6 2.60
Prominent (3) 76 835 9.1 1.10
Mid Division (2) 15 342 4.4 0.53
Held Up (1) 50 853 5.9 0.71

 

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It seems therefore the front running bias is as its strongest when there are more runners. An IV of 2.6 for front runners is extremely high for races of 11 or more runners.

Of course, each all weather course has its own unique confirmation and, consequently, its own set of stats. Here is a view on the courses individually, presented in alphabetical order:

Chelmsford

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 51 194 26.3 2.26
Prominent (3) 40 346 11.6 1.00
Mid Division (2) 22 252 8.7 0.78
Held Up (1) 30 410 7.3 0.63

 

Just over a quarter of the 5f handicap races at Chelmsford have seen the early leader going on to win. This is a very high percentage and worth noting. It is also worth pointing out that in races of 11 or more runners 9 of the 27 races (SR 33.3%) have been won by the front runner (IV 3.84). Not only that, another ten have been placed. Hence just over 70% of all front runners in these bigger field races have finished in the first three.

 

Kempton

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 23 84 27.4 2.36
Prominent (3) 24 170 14.1 1.22
Mid Division (2) 4 72 5.6 0.49
Held Up (1) 8 177 4.5 0.39

 

It is a shame that Kempton seem to have so few 5f handicaps these days as the front running bias is at its strongest here. There is a decent inside draw bias here also and it should come as no surprise that front runners from the lowest three stalls have secured 11 wins from 33 (SR 33.3%). The IV is 2.88 for those well drawn pace setters. Hold up horses have a dreadful record also which is worth mentioning too.

 

Lingfield

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 54 208 26.0 2.13
Prominent (3) 57 377 15.1 1.24
Mid Division (2) 16 227 7.0 0.59
Held Up (1) 31 436 7.1 0.58

 

Lingfield is another of the all weather courses to demonstrate a strong front-running bias over 5 furlongs. Additional insights are hard to find, although early leaders who were drawn 1 (the lowest draw) have produced 14 wins from 36 (SR 38.9%).

 

Newcastle

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 22 137 16.1 1.74
Prominent (3) 37 393 9.4 1.03
Mid Division (2) 11 183 6.0 0.67
Held Up (1) 40 473 8.5 0.92

 

Newcastle has the weakest front-running stats of the six all weather courses, almost certainly linked (like Southwell) to it being a straight five as opposed to running around a turn, but an Impact Value of 1.74 still indicates front-runners do have an edge. Hold up horses perform quite well here so it is not a course and distance I personally get too involved with.   

 

Southwell

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 27 142 19.0 1.81
Prominent (3) 94 730 12.9 1.23
Mid Division (2) 4 102 3.9 0.41
Held Up (1) 14 342 4.1 0.40

 

The second lowest IV (1.81) for front runners, and again the straight nature of the track is likely a factor at a course where pace setters do well at other distances. Note that horses which try to come from midfield or off the pace really struggle over the five at Southwell. I have found no major additional angles to profit from, but ultimately steer clear of horses that regularly are held up.

 

Wolverhampton

Pace comment Wins Runners SR% IV
Led (4) 77 372 20.7 1.90
Prominent (3) 108 858 12.6 1.16
Mid Division (2) 10 190 5.3 0.52
Held Up (1) 60 897 6.7 0.61

 

Decent front running stats for Wolverhampton, too. Front runners when drawn close to the inside rail, (draws 1 to 3), have scored 32 times from 132 races (SR 24.2%) with an IV of 2.14.

*

Before I finish, we can use these numerical figures to create course and distance pace averages. I have done this by adding up the pace scores of all the winners at each course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more ‘biased’ the course and distance is to horses which lead early or race close to the pace. This hopefully gives us the final piece of the jigsaw. Here are the 5 furlong handicap pace averages for the six aw courses:

Hopefully this article has demonstrated how strong the front running bias is on the all weather over the minimum trip of 5f in handicap races. The four turning courses offer a huge edge in my opinion. My next article is going to look at 6f handicaps on the all weather so watch this space!

- Dave Renham

Catching Up With David Probert: 13th February 2019

Another fortnight has passed and the headlines have recently been dominated by the equine influenza drama. I've actually had the flu myself so I suppose you could say I'm one of the few who wasn't impacted too much by the break from racing. I'm back in the saddle this evening with five rides at Kempton, and I've a few chances to hopefully get another winner on the board.

Tonight's Rides

5.45 Miss Crick - I've never ridden her before, but she looks an interesting ride. She's got decent form over hurdles - rated 126 - and was second last time to a progressive horse that I rode. The race looks winnable and if she can repeat her hurdle form, get handy and make it a real test she should have a good chance. If she can't quite go the early pace then they'll probably be going fast enough and we know she'll stay, so I'm hopeful.

6.15 Chloellie - She's a little superstar. I've won four on her now, including her last three races here at Kempton, and the track and trip look ideal. She's got plenty of weight and isn't the biggest, but she's very brave and has a real turn of foot - ideal for the track. She never wins by much so I guess it's quite hard for the handicapper to fully assess her level and she's another good chance on the night.

7.45 Moon Of Baroda - He's not had many runs and won quite well last time. I was quite impressed with him there: it was a stop/start sort of race and Charlie [Hills, trainer] wanted to drop him in because we weren't sure he'd stay two miles around Wolverhampton. He moved into the race easily down the back and as we turned in he was able to quicken away up the inside and put the race to bed quite nicely. He was entitled to need his first run for five months the time before and I think he's a horse that is definitely improving. The fact that he's in a grade lower this time won't hurt his chance either.

I don't know much about my other two rides yet, but will obviously be studying the videos later!

 

My Eyecatchers

As usual, I've been lucky enough to sit on a few nice horses since last we spoke, including these...

Highland Acclaim - I've known this lad a long time, since he was at Andrew Balding's back in 2013. He's been rated as highly as 103 and is a different horse around Epsom, where he just seems to be so balanced and really enjoy the test there. But he's showing some great form on the all weather at the age of eight as well, winning the last twice and bidding for a hat-trick on Friday. He'll have a chance again if he can stay close to the pace. Not bad considering he was 0 from 23 on the all weather before those two wins!

Cirque Royal - Ended up in a bit of a match with his stable mate, who had the benefit of a prior run. Charlie [Appleby, trainer] said to me he thought this horse wanted a mile and a half - we raced at 9 1/2 furlongs here - and that he'd probably be very green. He was quite coltish on the way to post, which wouldn't have helped. Charlie said to take a lead and that he doesn't do anything quickly, so I wanted to get him rolling before the turn in. The winner had too much class for me that day, but we were miles clear of the rest and he'll progress nicely as the season goes on. It shouldn't be too long before he gets his head in front.

Wings Of Time - Another horse I rode for Charlie Appleby, I wanted to try to keep everything straightforward with him but it ended up being a messy race. He missed the break and then we had to sit and wait on the inside as another horse hemmed me in down the back. I had to use a fair bit of him there so I didn't want to get after him in the straight. I wouldn't say he was idling close home but he was always doing enough, and I'd say he won a shade cosily under hands and heels. Given that they went pretty slowly - I think the time was seven seconds slower than standard - it was quite a nice performance to get it done in the circumstances.

Minoria - Rae Guest's filly was second at the end of January over seven furlongs. That was only her third start, and she was slow away so I had to drop her in and try to make my ground up. It never really opened up for me, but she ran on well to be second and I think she'll improve again for a further step up in trip: she'll probably run over a mile next time. I was surprised she won over six furlongs, because this day she never really travelled for me until the tail end of the race. I'd imagine there's more to come from her.

 

Riding The Tracks: Chelmsford

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A flat one mile oval with even proportions: quarter mile straights and bends. The track has just been riding a little inconsistently in recent times, and I think they're still using pretty much the same surface as they were ten years ago. Maybe they've added a bit of wax but not much and it might just be in need of re-laying. That would likely sort things out.

It's been proving fairly difficult to win from off the pace and the kickback is quite severe. They put great prize money on and try to do things right, but the inconsistency of the track is a little bit frustrating. I'm not saying you can't win from off the pace, because you can: if they go very quick you can weave your way through.

And they normally go a good gallop at Chelmsford - you rarely get a slowly run race round there. If I had a horse that needed a quick six furlongs or seven furlongs I'd take them to Chelmsford.

At five furlongs, it's pretty much point and shoot: try to get close to or on the lead in the furlong before the turn, hold a position through the turn and then kick into the straight. Very few horses come from the second half of the field over five here.

The same is true up to a point over six and seven, though they can sometimes go too hard and set it up for a midfield stalker or occasionally a deeper closer. The problem over seven is that you normally have about 14 runners, so you're likely to get people drawn fourteen down to ten trying to go forward so you get a right good gallop into that first bend.

Also down the back, just before the four furlong pole, there's like a little path which is kind of raised up and you can sometimes see a horse when it encounters that it will switch leads a couple of times which makes it quite tricky for a horse sometimes to get balanced around that top bend.

Draw wise, you can get away with being drawn out wide as long as you have tactical, or early, speed. The only disadvantage is over five because you're almost straight into that turn.

The mile races start in a dogleg chute on the turn after the winning post, and those drawn lowest can sometimes get squeezed up as the field cuts a tangent onto the arc of the bend on the main track. It's similar to the seven furlong chute at Wolverhampton: you've got about half a furlong before things open up as you hit the turn.

At longer distances it's pretty fair, though it can get a bit scrimmage-y going into the first turn at a mile and a quarter, but other than that it's pretty fair. That said, being in the first half of the field is a positive at any trip around Chelmsford.

There isn't really any part across the track more favoured than the rest. You will often see jockeys swinging wide into the home turn but that's more tactical race riding than looking for a quick strip. You can certainly win up the rail anyway.

 

Riding The Tracks: Southwell AW

Southwell is a unique track, mainly because of the deep fibresand surface they have there. Generally it pays to be aggressive and go forward from the outset. It's a real horses for courses track, not many horses act around there, and the ones that do seem to do very well.

I tend to think you need a horse with a lot of speed and one capable of winning over a furlong further than it's racing over. If you want to take your time around Southwell, you're probably better off conceding a few lengths on the bends and down the back straight to stay out of the kickback, which is fierce. The wide trip is compensated by the inside generally riding quite slow, so you're not losing as much ground as logically it might seem like.

The kickback is pretty tough. When I'm riding there I carry a pair of stockings and wear one as a mask. And three pairs of goggles!

The five furlong straight track doesn't seem to have a positional bias left to right. Instead I think if anything it's a pace bias, but usually it's simply the fittest, quickest horse wins on the day.

I don't think I've ever ridden a horse there which has travelled from the start to the finish. You're either flat out to get and keep the lead, or you're flat out playing catch up.

I prefer being drawn outside, especially if I have one that needs to take a lead off something. I'd rather be three or four horses wide than on the rail, and just stay out of the kickback as much as possible. It's so thick sometimes it's almost like being behind a gritter. Trying to get your horse to breathe is the main thing. Plenty of them can't handle the kickback and it interferes with the pattern of their breathing.

At longer trips there's more of an even gallop. Obviously it's hard to maintain a frenetic tempo for a longer period of time, so races tend to be run a bit more sensibly and with more consistent results. I've had a bit of luck at Southwell actually, especially at longer trips.

That's all for this blog. Speak to you again soon, good luck.

- David Probert

 

Social Discourse – 12th February

Welcome to a joyous, joyous edition of Social Discourse, as British racing makes its return from a six-day break caused by an outbreak of equine influenza (EI), which had put the sport into shutdown and caused concern over the Cheltenham Festival, due to commence a month today (allow yourself another little cheer).

Thanks to what one must say was quick and decisive action from the BHA, we are now set to return from tomorrow, albeit with caveats, giving (most) trainers a resumption of normality along with jockeys, owners, media outlets and the rest. There’s still time for Festival trials, too. Whoop!

As ever, hit me up at @KeejayOV2 on Twitter or just leave a comment below.

 

  1. The Wait……

1:57 PM · Feb 11, 2019:

9:12 PM · Feb 11, 2019:

10:23 PM · Feb 11, 2019:

11:19 PM · Feb 11, 2019: (Yes, that's right, the Irish Field got there first).

11:21 PM · Feb 11, 2019:


  2. The Joy…..

After what was nearly a ten-hour wait – although the last hour and a half was perhaps more stressful than the previous nine - it’s fair to say that this had brought the normally fractious social community of Racing Twitter together. A recap for you, if you couldn’t stay up, or just need that good feeling again.

 

3. The Super, Super Saturday Ahead 

We waited, and now good things are coming to us. Everyone within 10 miles of Cheltenham will still be breathing outwards with relief, but in the more immediate future, there are races to be won and more than a few Festival trials to be rescheduled.

Ascot’s card this coming Saturday was always going to be spectacular but, with the quick transfer of Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle and Game Spirit Chase to the Berkshire venue, it means we are set for a truly phenomenal day of action – the last chance for many high-class horses to run before Cheltenham.

 

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2-mile novice chasers get a last chance to tune themselves up for a very open-looking Arkle Chase with the Kingmaker moved from Warwick to boost Sandown’s Friday card; there’s a Mares’ Hurdle which now moves to Haydock from the same card, and Wincanton gets a Mares’ Chase from Exeter.

 

Don’t Forget: If Ascot is getting you excited, then Haydock also has a feature – the William Hill Grand National Trial, plus a Mares’ Hurdle – and Wincanton features the Kingwell Hurdle as well as the Mares' Chase. Best cancel those Saturday plans if you can.

Trigger-Happy Punters: Markets will have to be remade, with the BHA having to work out which yards can send runners, and the entries will come through at 1.30 today. So if anyone wants to get a jump…. Then have a sneaky tab open around 4 this afternoon.

 

4. The Caveats

It’s not as simple as some might think, however.

- No entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated in the previous six months.

- Added to this, trainers of all horses are required to submit a health declaration, the documentation for which needs to be with BHA staff at racecourse before a horse can be unloaded at the track

- If there happen to be any overseas runners, then they won’t be allowed to run unless there’s evidence of a negative test within last 72 hours.

- The ruling that all horses need to have been vaccinated in the last six months has put a spanner in the works of many plans. Already we know that Silver Streak will not be able to run in the Kingwell, whilst 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur won’t be able to run thanks to needing another jab.

A list of yards that won’t be able to run at least in the next week has been speculated on twitter, and it could include Nicky Henderson, based on what we’ve seen here.

https://twitter.com/muffinmannhc/status/1095255812413497344

Those berating the BHA for not advising trainers of the need to get their horses a booster jab are wide of the mark, as this tweet shows:

As with all that has preceded it, the BHA is doing everything it can to support the sport, including announcing the provision of some additional races for circa 23rd February to enable those without booster jabs to get vaccinated and have a prep before the Festival:

5. Getting Jiggy With It

Meanwhile, racing in Ireland continued unabated and we were treated to a pair of good cards over the weekend with Punchestown having their Grand National Trial on what was at the very least an informative day.

Gigginstown can do no wrong at the moment and they gave themselves a tremendous hand in both the Aintree and Fairyhouse versions as Dounikos came right back to his best to beat Wishmoor by four and a half lengths, with General Principle just a half-length behind.

In what was a dominant showing for the O'Leary squad from start to finish – all three of their charges raced prominently – Dounikos put himself down as a major contender for either the Grand National itself at Aintree or the Irish equivalent, targets that Wishmoor and General Principle, the winner of last year’s Irish Grand National, will also be looking at.

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Dounikos, speaking to Tony O’Hehir of the Racing Post: "Dounikos might go to Aintree or Fairyhouse, we'll see the Aintree weights this week," he said. "I made a lot of entries and I could end up running 12 or 15 in the race. One of those could be General Principle, and Elliott added: "He ran a good race today and Aintree might be the job for him this year."

 

Be smart: Dounikos is generally a 33/1 shot for Aintree (as big as 40/1 with Bet Victor) with the weights due out tomorrow, and General Principle is around the same price.

 

6. Over The Water

A good card at Naas saved ITV, who combined quickly and effectively with the HRI to show a decent card in absentia of Newbury’s Super Saturday.

The highlight was arguably Pravalaguna, who gave a fine front-running display to take the Listed Opera Hat Chase.

Sent off at just 8/13 after strong support, the only scare came when jockey Paul Townend appeared to lose an iron briefly at the fifth last, but he regained full control before taking the next obstacle and from then on she didn’t put a foot wrong before marching to a 14 length success from Baie Des Iles in second.

On the same card, we saw another Festival contender in the shape of City Island, who justified long odds on favouritism with a facile win in the Connolly's Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Novice Hurdle at Naas.

Mark Walsh could have written this column whilst he was sat onboard Martin Brassil's six-year-old, and when he gave him his cue, he picked up trailblazing The Echo Boy and won by an easy seven lengths. Cut to as short as 9/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, he now goes as one of the main players.

Death, taxes, and Joseph O’Brien having smart juvenile hurdlers are the three certainties in life just now, and Band Of Outlaws joined a growing club by coming from last to first to take the EMS Copiers Rated Novice Hurdle.

In a slowly run race, JJ Slevin had Band Of Outlaws fifth of six most of the way round but when push came to shove, he comfortably had too much speed for long-time leader Maze Runner after the final flight to win going away by four and three-quarter lengths.

The Festival now? Well do be careful – the runner up was only seventh in Leopardstown’s Grade 2 at Christmas and O’Brien, if anywhere at Cheltenham, may send him for the Fred Winter although that is not certain at this stage.

 

Even when O’Brien loses, he wins: The new JP McManus purchase Konitho was a disappointing fifth of sixth, not finding anything like the response of his stablemate, although O’Brien felt that the slowly run race did not suit him. "You'd have to say he was a little bit disappointing. The race probably didn't suit him as he's bigger, more of a staying type of horse.”

Jessica Harrington could have a runner in the Cheltenham Festival Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in the shape of the wide margin maiden hurdle winner, Emily Moon. Robbie Power, having his only ride of the day, took the race by the scruff of the neck and she never saw another horse, eventually finishing 14 lengths clear of Debuchet.

Winning rider Robbie Power was impressed: "I was very impressed with her. She's improved a good bit and probably dropping back half a mile in trip suited her better as she loves jumping out and rolling. Over two miles you can let her go, you're not worried about the trip."

Onto next week we go - should be a quiet one..!

- William Kedjanyi

Monday Musings: UK Racing Reels from Point Blank Jab

Every autumn, while the days are still long and temperatures warm, the messages start, writes Tony Stafford. Either as SMS’s or calls from the surgery’s land line. “Don’t forget your ‘flu jab. It’s free!”

Boots the chemist also makes regular calls to one and all to take advantage of the offer for much of the pre-winter period. From my surgery the urgency increases with time. Obviously they have so many units of the stuff they simply do not want to be left with any. After all, who’s going to bother taking precautions once you get past Christmas?

A few years ago I succumbed to the onslaught, much as regular (possibly annual, although seemingly constant) demands to have one’s type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, eyesight, weight, feet and God knows what checked punctuate life for over 65’s in the Britain of the 21st Century.

So I have the flu jab each year and, while it does not guarantee immunity, I have never had what goes for “proper” flu when you are stuck in bed for a week and end up with agony in the bones and joints. Then again I’d never had more than a cold in any of the previous six-and-a-bit decades before Mr Flu Jab entered my senior life.

Every racehorse in Great Britain has to be fully inoculated against Equine Influenza before it ever races and each year has to have a booster injection. Just as my insurance against the worst potential effects of flu is no guarantee of escape from infection, so horses’ immunity is also not inevitable.

When Wednesday’s news of Donald McCain’s stable’s having three confirmed cases of EI was revealed it shocked and stopped racing in its tracks. These were revealed by the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket after swabs on the three horses were taken by vet Alasdair Topp on McCain’s instigation as those three horses had been exhibiting “worrying signs”.

All McCain’s runners since the previous Monday were monitored. Immediately the BHA ordered that every stable that might have had a horse possibly coming into contact with one of the McCain animals at those racecourses should go into “lockdown”. The race was on to test every horse in what amounted to 174 stables, and equally to get the swabs to carry out the tests. Soon after, three more McCain horses, including one of three from the stable to have raced in the days immediately before the revelation, were discovered to have the virus.

Those veterinary practices that were quick off the mark apparently bought up all available swab supplies, leaving some stables to have to wait in limbo for days before being tested. The vets have been to the forefront in this procedure as racing underwent an initial week-long hiatus, one that could well be prolonged further after Sunday night’s news that four Simon Crisford stable inmates have tested positive.

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So, most worryingly, especially for the sport’s top practitioners, Newmarket is not clear. Crisford, while at the moment concentrating more with his runners at Meydan, did have a beaten odds-on shot (Sajanjl) at Newcastle last Tuesday but not on a day that McCain had a runner there. Crisford is in an interesting, nay privileged, position, hardly surprising in view of his long previous career as Sheikh Mohammed’s racing manager at Godolphin.

Overseas trainers are allowed runners only on the days of the Carnival in Dubai, but alone, apart from Charlie Appleby and Saeed Bin Suroor, Godolphin’s main trainers in the UK, Crisford can also run horses at non-Carnival fixtures there. He is operating a satellite yard in the Emirate, so counts as a local trainer.

It did not take long for opinion to question the need for such stringent action. Nigel Twiston-Davies vociferously echoed the thoughts of many stablemen who believe that as all these horses have been immunised, the fact that a few cases have been revealed is little different from the run of the mill situation in all stables where runny noses and temperatures are a daily fact of life.

One trainer, not affected by the lockdown, said that for weeks around the country marts talk has been of rampant flu in non-racing animals in the UK and Ireland while he had heard that one of France’s leading trotting yards has voluntarily closed itself down.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, and clearly the BHA had to be seen to be acting to contain such a contagious disease, the costs for owners will as ever be considerable. Apart from missed opportunities at the track – who says the Betfair Hurdle prizemoney will ever be collected? – the blood tests must be paid for by somebody. My contact reckons the vets are the only winners in this costly exercise.

It was timely that Luck on Sunday chose this week for his principal guest to be Michael Dickinson, 36 years after his unique and much-celebrated Famous Five Gold Cup when Bregawn led home Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashley House that March day in Cheltenham.

Dickinson seems hardly changed in his appearance since those days, but more than 30 years on from his departure to train in the US after his sacking as Robert Sangster’s trainer at Manton, he is uniquely placed to assess such problems as the present veterinary crisis.

Luck asked how equine flu is dealt with in the US, to which Dickinson said that the system of training at racetracks makes it easier to handle any problems. With each stable and trainer having his own barn, any infected horse and therefore trainer’s barn can be quickly closed down and put effectively into isolation.

Just as when international runners go over for events such as the Breeders’ Cup, they have to go onto the track for training after the main body of domestic horses are exercised, so any barns with horses showing signs of infection have to exercise at separate times.

Newmarket stables identified as being in lockdown are similarly being required to exercise their horses in the afternoons, until clear returns for all those horses are established. As anybody that’s ever spoken to a trainer will tell you, horses have to be exercised every day once they have been brought to racing fitness, for their own and stable staff’s welfare. Monday morning traditionally, after a quiet Sunday, was always the day when lads expected a fiery first few minutes before the weekend “fizz” was extinguished.

Much of the 40 minutes of Luck and Dickinson devolved into a thrust and counter-thrust of the Mad Genius berating the Boy Wonder on his love of dirt racing. Dickinson, contrarily, while conceding the Triple Crown is safe, reckons dirt racing’s time may be coming almost to a conclusion.

As the developer of the Tapeta racing surface, as he revealed the result of 53 different elements – “we had them all in boxes” – his championing of turf and synthetic over dirt is hardly unexpected. But he backed his point of view with compelling statistics of the level of fatalities in dirt racing.

He said that the biggest complaints about racing in the United States were ”medication, facilities and dirt”, while agreeing that when Da Hoss won his two Breeders’ Cup Mile races two years apart, he did race with both Lasix and Bute.

Luck called that hypocritical, but Dickinson would not be shamed saying, “Lasix moves a horse up four lengths. If we’d not allowed him to use it, we wouldn’t have won and you wouldn’t be interviewing me now”. The “four lengths” theory explains why Frank Stronach, boss of Gulfstream Park in Florida wrote a condition in the two multi-million dollar Pegasus races recently allowing 7lb for horses not using any medication. Aidan O’Brien took the option and was rewarded with a highly-lucrative second place from Magic Wand in the Turf race.

Dickinson armed himself with a number of quotes. In one a New York racing secretary said that if he writes a maiden race on dirt, he’ll get two entries. The same conditions for a maiden on turf would attract 18. The writing it seems is on that particular wall, but then the fact that turf tracks are susceptible to wear and tear is a constant downside for US racecourses that may race every day for weeks on end.

Dickinson also offered a quote from Aidan O’Brien, perhaps understandable after the shocking experience of Mendelssohn in last year’s Kentucky Derby: “Dirt racing has an aggression approaching the level of savagery.” Point taken! As for racing here, let’s hope enough of the swabs come back clean so that it can resume before too much more damage is done.

SotD Update, 4th February to 9th February 2019

A truncated week for reasons you're surely all familiar with, a subject that many people have had their say on, so I'm fairly positive you don't need my take on it!

That aside and no clear date for a return to action, we had just three runners this week, but with Macs Blessing duly obliging on Tuesday, it was a good week for us profit-wise, adding 1.5pts to our bottom line.

Hopefully racing will resume sooner rather than later, so we'll keep our fingers crossed on that one.

Selections & Results : 04/02/19 to 09/02/19

04/02 : Mrs Burbidge @ 13/2 E/W BOG 8th at 5/1 
05/02 : Macs Blessings @ 7/2 BOG WON at 7/2
06/02 : Magic of Milan @ 7/2 BOG 7th at 7/4
07/02 : NO UK RACING
08/02 : NO UK RACING
09/02 : NO UK RACING

04/02/19 to 09/02/19 :
1 winning bet from 3 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +1.50pts

February 2019 :
1 winner from 5 = 20.00% SR
P/L: -0.50pts
ROI = 10.00%

2019 to date :
11 winners from 28 = 39.29% SR
P/L: +31.25pts
ROI = +111.61%

Overall:
601 winners from 2206 = 27.24% S.R
P/L: +527.65pts
ROI: +23.92%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is
here.
Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are
now available here.
Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here
And here is the full story from 2017.

2018 was the latest full year for SotD and the yearly review is right here

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

Click here for more details.

British racing cancelled today due to equine flu

The decision was made last night to cancel all British racing today, Thursday 7th February, due to three confirmed cases of equine influenza in vaccinated horses.

Further information can be found on the BHA site here, and in Chris Cook's excellent summary in the Guardian here.

The meeting in Ireland, at Thurles, is expected to go ahead.

UPDATE 16:30 THURSDAY 7th FEBRUARY

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has this afternoon taken the decision that racing will not resume in Britain until Wednesday 13 February at the earliest, including fixtures programmed by the Point-to-Point Authority.

The BHA’s veterinary team has today been in contact with more than 50 trainers and veterinarians to allow it to make an informed assessment of the risk of equine influenza spreading. Whilst no further positive tests have been received, at least three more days are required before it will be possible to make a decision about whether it is safe to resume racing.

The disease can take up to three days before symptoms are visible, meaning it will take until Sunday at the earliest before the BHA can gather all the information required. This approach will allow samples to be collected and assessed by the Animal Health Trust in order that a fully informed decision can be made on Monday. This may then allow declarations to take place on Tuesday in time for racing on Wednesday, with 24 hour declarations for all fixtures on this day, should racing be able to resume. Declarations for Thursday would revert to the usual procedures.

We are grateful to trainers and veterinarians for the rapid flow of information and feedback  we have received today. Because of this, we have been able to make an informed decision earlier than we expected and before we have any test results back from horses from the affected yards that travelled to the three meetings.

Trainers support a precautionary approach and we thank them for the collaborative manner in which they have worked with us to address this unfolding situation.

This precautionary approach is intended to ensure we put the health of the horse population and control of the virus first, and avoid any unnecessary risk that might come from returning to racing too quickly. We appreciate the impact that this may have on the sport commercially, but disease control in order to mitigate the risk of further disruption to the sport – and safeguard the health and welfare of our horses – must be a priority.

A plan will be constructed for the rescheduling of key races – and those which may provide important opportunities for horses to run – which are lost during this period,

Separately, as a precaution, all of the trainers who had runners at the fixtures at Wolverhampton, Ludlow and Ayr this week have been informed that their yards have been placed under a temporary hold which means that they will not be able to make any declarations until their horses have been tested and cleared.

Further information and guidance

It remains the case that anyone visiting a racing yard should exercise appropriate caution and check with a trainer before visiting, and trainers are advised to limit where possible the movement of people to and from their yard, and put in place appropriate biosecurity measures. There is a Code of Practice for dealing with infectious diseases on the website of the National Trainers Federation.

All British thoroughbreds are vaccinated against equine influenza however cases have been seen in vaccinated horses. The disease may be serious in unvaccinated horses, although symptoms in vaccinated horses are usually mild and transient. Symptoms may include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge. It is highly contagious. Humans are not at risk from the virus, though can spread the virus on clothes and equipment.

This is a wider horse health issue which is not confined to horseracing. Unlike thoroughbreds in Britain, it is not compulsory for the wider horse population to be vaccinated against equine flu. Whilst the BHA is not specifically responsible for non-racehorses, the general advice to owners would be to contact your vet if you have concerns.

The Animal Health Trust are the equine monitoring agent for disease surveillance in the UK and information is posted on their website and twitter feeds.

BHA-issued Equine Influenza Q & A

Below is a Q&A designed to give as much information as is currently possible  in relation to the current outbreak of equine influenza.

Our main priority is to do all we can to prevent the spread of the equine influenza virus and to protect the welfare of our horses. We stopped racing today to restrict horse movements. When we have received the results of further tests, we will make a decision on racing over the next few days. That is likely to be by early evening, but it is important that we are led by the scientific evidence and follow established protocols for dealing with infectious diseases. We ask trainers and owners, in particular, to be patient and thank them for their support.

How serious is this strain of equine influenza? Is it likely to prove fatal or is it a mild form?

It is a requirement that all racehorses be vaccinated against flu, as this is an important barrier preventing spread of the virus and will mitigate the impact. However, the presence of the virus in vaccinated horses demonstrates that it’s not completely effective against this strain.

The disease may be serious in unvaccinated horses, although symptoms in vaccinated horses are usually mild and transient. Symptoms may include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge, and a horse’s performance is affected. It is highly contagious.

What symptoms have appeared in the cases detected yesterday? Are they serious?

They are showing typical signs of mild infection, i.e. nasal discharge, cough, raised temperature. There is nothing to suggest that these particular cases are unusually serious, but implications for the wider horse population and horse movement are potentially serious and we must prevent further spread of the infection as quickly as possible.

What’s the treatment for infected horses?

Much the same as for human flu. Rest, and other medications for symptoms as needed. Anyone with concerns about their horse or horses is advised to contact their vet immediately.

How long does the flu last?

Your first 30 days for just £1

In vaccinated horses, typically 24-48 hours, though with performance potentially affected for several days, or sometimes weeks. If a horse is unvaccinated, it can range between 2 – 10 days.

Is there any risk to human health from the equine influenza virus?

There is no known human health risk associated with the virus.

How did the virus arrive in this country and how has it spread?

We are working to identify the most likely source of the outbreak but we have not confirmed this yet. We expect there is a link between this outbreak and other recent outbreaks elsewhere in Europe.

When did you first know about this strain and what did you do?

We first became aware of the European outbreak in December 2018 and notices were issued by the BHA in relation to this. Trainers were advised to vaccinate any horses which had not been vaccinated in the previous six months and were reminded of the appropriate biosecurity precautions.

Should you have taken steps to stop foreign horses coming into the UK or British horses going overseas where they might risk picking up the infection?

This is a wider horse population issue, not a racing specific one. Equine influenza is endemic in the UK. Whilst the racehorse population is vaccinated, and owners of other horses often choose to vaccinate their horses, up to 70% of horses in UK may be unvaccinated. Stopping movement of foreign horses would therefore be unlikely to prevent spread of disease in this country.

Whilst racehorses don’t generally mix with other horses in their stables or on racecourses, situations inevitably arise where they may come into contact with unvaccinated horses.

What restrictions on movement are in place now?

Trainers whose horses may have come into contact with affected horses will be contacted today and will need to quarantine all horses in the yard. This means that these horses must have no contact with any other equines (e.g. separate lots on gallops) until restrictions are lifted. This is likely to be until samples have been taken from horses and negative test results received.

What steps have you taken since you were notified of the outbreak yesterday evening?

The first step was to call off racing. We have also stopped some Irish horses from returning home after racing in Britain on 6 February. These horses are now in quarantine. We have put restrictions in place on horses from yards likely to have been in contact with horses from affected yards. Testing of all horses on stopped yards is taking place, funded by the Levy Board.

What’s your advice to trainers?

a) If they think their animals may be infected?
b) If they want to protect their animals from infection?

Immediately isolate any animals who may be infected. They should contact their vet as soon as possible to arrange testing. All confirmed cases must be reported immediately to the BHA.

What should be done about race entries and declarations?

Entries and declarations can be made as usual until advice is given to the contrary. Trainers in affected or potentially affected yards will be contacted with specific guidance.

How should trainers get in touch if they have any concerns?

Their first contact should be with their vet if they have any concerns.

The National Trainers’ Federation have an excellent code of practice on their website which documents all the steps trainers should be taking. We are working closely with them.

What is the advice to people working with racehorses?

Everyone should be vigilant and alert to possible clinical signs. They should put increased biosecurity measures in place - as a minimum, hand washing and change of clothes should be required on arrival at any yard.

What is the advice to owners of other horses not part of the racing industry?

We can’t speak on behalf of other equestrian sports or the leisure industry, but the general advice if anyone has any concerns is to contact their vet.

When will the ban on racing be lifted? Might it be lifted partially in some areas of the country?

We will issue a further update on racing fixtures as soon as possible. For fixtures on Friday 8 February, and the weekend of 9-10 February, we expect to provide an update this evening (7 February).

How serious might this be? Could this be as bad as the outbreak that hit Australia in 2007?

The situation in Australia was very different. The virus is not endemic in Australia and horses were not vaccinated and had no immunity to the virus. As such, we would not expect an outbreak here to be as serious or significant.

Did you have contingency measures in place for dealing with this kind of outbreak?

Yes, these include the measures enacted in the last 24 hours. We will continue to put restrictions on racing and the movement of horses as appropriate.

Have you been in contact with DEFRA/Welsh/Scottish governments? What’s their role in managing this outbreak?

While Equine influenza is not a notifiable disease in the UK and therefore not controlled by Government, we will be in touch with Defra to advise them of the situation and the actions being taken.

Could the Cheltenham Festival be under threat?

It is far too early to say.

In general, we would not expect the situation to be as bad as in Australia in 2007, when racing was stopped for an extended period, as British horses are vaccinated and the virus is endemic in the UK. The situation is very different in Australia where the virus is not endemic and horses and not vaccinated.

How many horses will you swab – and how, when and why?

A vet would take a nasal swab. We will be swabbing all horses from in-contact yards tomorrow, as testing is most reliable 48 hours after likely/possible exposure.

In general, swabs are taken if symptoms are identified. We recommend that owners or trainers immediately contact their vet to arrange this. All swabs for racehorses are paid for by Levy Board funding.

Rumours are circulating that particular yards have been affected. Can you confirm which yards have been affected?

We’re not going to identify any specific yard affected, but we did need to confirm at the earliest opportunity that the yard concerned had runners at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday 6 February, and/or at Wolverhampton on Monday 4 February, so that other trainers could take appropriate action immediately. However, we wish to emphasise that horses in the affected yard had been vaccinated.

We would strongly request media and other members of the public to stay away from any yard they believe to be affected, as this could risk further spread of the flu virus.

If this can be identified through visible signals, should the trainer have identified this her/himself? Could the trainer have done more to prevent the spread in her/his yard?

A cough and nasal discharge are common respiratory signs seen in horses and the majority of cases would not be equine influenza. Under rules, trainers are not required to report these symptoms and therefore movement is not stopped until we are aware there is a confirmed influenza result.

You have been aware of the outbreak for weeks, could you have done more to prevent this? Should racing have been shut down earlier?

BHA have made efforts to communicate to all trainers and other participants that an outbreak was occurring in Europe. It would have been disproportionate to shut down racing, based on the evidence available at that stage.

The decision to stop racing made within hours of the confirmed outbreak on 6 February.

Social Discourse – 5th February

A weekend with so much action that even this bumper edition struggling to fit it all in, writes William Kedjanyi. We like a challenge here, however, so here goes with a round up of all the latest movers and shakers on the bumpy highway to the Cotswolds next month…

 

  1. How’d you like them Apple's?

She’s going: The brilliant Apple’s Jade, a wide margin winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle, is now more likely to head to the Festival’s first-day showpiece than not. In the aftermath of her brilliant performance at Leopardstown, where she stole the headlines on the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival, Eddie O’Leary, speaking on behalf of owner Michael, had suggested that she would still go the Mares' Hurdle route in lieu of a tilt at the bigger race.

"We'll go to the Champion Hurdle if you can run a gelding in the Mares'. Did she win the Mares' Hurdle last year? No." – Eddie O’Leary, speaking to Nick Luck on Racing TV in the aftermath of Apple’s Jade’s stunning win.

But overnight, trainer Gordon Elliott and owner Michael O’Leary appeared to have a change of heart.

 

Gordon Elliott, trainer, speaking to Luck On Sunday:  "Buveur D'Air is obviously a very good horse and just does what he has to do every day, but we’ll take him on. Nothing is concrete, but I'd say it's likely."

Michael O’Leary, owner: "If you are going to lose, I’d rather lose trying to win a Champion Hurdle than a Mares’ Hurdle, now that we know she can run a fast two miles."

Looking ahead: If she stays sound, then a delicious clash between Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air will be the highlight of the first day at Cheltenham.

Best of the rest: Supasundae ran well once again to be second, although his connections are between a rock and a hard place regarding Festival targets: he would be unlikely to reverse form with Apple’s Jade but the emergence of Paisley Park in the staying division makes life difficult there also.

 

  1. Anything you can do….

Dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air responded in kind with victory in a hack canter in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown, having to make some of his own running before easing clear of Vision Des Flos and winning the race for a third time.

Nicky Henderson’s charge has been following the same route as last season, albeit with a defeat in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, and aside from that sprint to the line where Verdana Blue beat him, he’s looked as dominant as ever. Slicker through the latter stages of the race this time than at the Sunbury venue last, he briefly looked under pressure before finding top gear and putting the race to bed.

However, we know he is likely to face perhaps his biggest challenge since becoming the Champion Hurdler in the shape of Apple’s Jade, and we didn’t learn much about him here aside from his wellbeing.

Nicky Henderson, speaking to Sky Sports Racing: “It was a muddling old race. He led down the back and then Barry took a pull and let another horse take a lead. I thought he jumped a bit slicker than at Kempton where he made one howler, but I'm not saying that as an excuse. I'm very happy as he did need this race and the timing was perfect. I was very nervous when I thought it might be off and I had Kelso as an alternative.”

Battle lines are now drawn - Britain vs Ireland, girls vs boys, Henderson vs Elliott, champ vs contender - for a Tuesday in mid-March: bring on the show!

 

  1. Joseph and his Multi-Coloured Triumph Brigade
Your first 30 days for just £1

Joseph O’Brien has quickly established himself as one of the leading National Hunt trainers in the game – on either side of the Irish Sea – and using his high-class resources, he has emerged with a fine team of juvenile hurdlers.

Sir Erec, strongly fancied for the race beforehand, was an impressive winner of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown over the weekend when beating stablemate Gardens of Babylon by five lengths. In so doing, he launched himself to the head of the Triumph Hurdle betting, where he’s now 9/4 generally, from 7/1 before Sunday.

Joseph O’Brien, speaking to the Racing Post: "Making the running with Sir Erec wasn't ideal but he's very straightforward and he did it very well. Stamina is probably his forte but he quickened well from the second last. It was only his second run over hurdles, whereas Fakir D'Oudairies has more experience, if not quite the same engine as this fellow."

 

In winning convincingly here, he displaced the wildly impressive Cheltenham trial winner, Fakir D’Doudaries, from the top of the market. That was the second 1-2 for the stable in major Triumph trials, as Fine Brunello was a 13 length second at Cheltenham on Trials Day.

Be smart: Given his incredibly close proximity to high-class flat horses, O’Brien could have much success in this sphere, including with horses making their jumping debut. Also, with so many options – and the backing of JP McManus to help – we could still see some targets being switched.

 

  1. Defi-nitely Maybe

Onlookers at Sandown were treated to a thrilling tale of revenge, as Defi Du Seuil reversed Cheltenham form with Lostintranslation in a battling victory to take the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase.

 

 

Flashback: Only ten weeks ago, Defi was being trashed by Lalor in the Racing Post Arkle Trial, ballooning each fence and looking like he’d confound Phillip Hobbs once again after his great juvenile hurdling season two campaigns ago.

But Hobbs has managed to coax the required fencing improvement from him on each run since that clumsy display, and he battled back determinedly under a fine Barry Geraghty drive. In so doing, he cast aside any lingering apprehensions about his finishing effort after Lostintranslation worried him out of the Dipper on New Year’s Day, albeit with a 3lbs weight turnaround.

Favourite Vinndication didn’t travel with any zest at all and stayed on fairly well to finish third, beaten just a couple of lengths. Kim Bailey reported that he didn’t like the ground – which was sticky 'holding' turf – so he adds further intrigue should the three re-engage in the JLT.

Philip Hobbs, after unsaddling Defi Du Seuil: “Barry was delighted with him, particularly with the way he jumped and coped with the ground. Where we go from here, a lot will depend on the ground, but he certainly saw the trip out well.”

 

  1. Here’s what else happened
  • Bellshill took a thrilling Irish Gold Cup, albeit in a decimated field, as he was driven home by a short head to beat Road To Respect under a great Ruby Walsh drive. He was cut to cut to a general 12-1 (from 16) for the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

  • Walsh was just as good aboard Klassical Dream, who is now as short as 8-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after a dramatic Grade 1 success in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, just touching off his stablemate and past Grade 1 winner, Aramon.

 

  • La Bague Au Roi struck a notable success for Britain with a gritty front-running success in the Flogas Novice Chase, holding off 33/1 outsider Kaiser Black after Delta Work was withdrawn. It’s probable she’ll miss Cheltenham for Aintree, and it is also to be hoped that Winter Escape will bounce back after bursting a blood vessel.

  • Envoi Allen booked his Cheltenham ticket on Saturday, winning the Matheson (C&G) I.N.H. Flat Race at Leopardstown. The favourite stuck his neck right out to the line and beat the closing Meticulous, owned by Michael Tabour and trained by Joesph O’Brien, and is now being aimed at the Festival Bumper.

 

  • Commander Of Fleet proved himself a promising stayer with a battling victory over Rhinestone in the the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff Novice Hurdle. He relished the step up in trip and might go further in the Albert Bartlett as Battleoverdoyen looks set for the Ballymore. Champion Bumper winner Relegate finished with a wet sail to take fifth but she must learn to jump better.

  • Min repeated his 2018 win in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown but the race was marred by a fatal injury to Special Tiara.

 

  • Le Richebourg cemented his claims as a leading player for what is now a very competitive looking Arkle with a smooth win in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase

 

  1. The Fast Show

The Dublin Racing Festival will mostly be remembered for performances on the track – as it should be – but the track itself was the subject of much attention as firm ground in places on the chase course led to a glut of non-runners on Sunday. 22 of the 26 non-runners with were withdrawn because of the ground, unusually quick for a jumps meeting, especially at this time of year.

The Irish Gold Cup was decimated, with Al Boum Photo, Balko Des Flos, Monalee, Edwulf, Noble Endeavor and Anibale Fly all withdrawn, leaving a four-runner heat that somehow still served up a fine duel, albeit a diminished one.

 

Be smart: This was a perfect storm of weather conditions. Below average rainfall had led to quicker underfoot already, and then low temperatures trapped the ground staff with nowhere to go. This might continue to be the case in future, with higher average temperatures leading to drier and drier winters. However, we could still be in for a nasty shock when the spring comes, as wet weather could make for very soft ground at Cheltenham and Aintree, just as it did last year.

Lorcan Wyer, Leopardstown’s Clerk of the Course, speaking to the Racing Post’s Richard Forristal: "In the lead into this meeting, ten days before this fixture, we were given a forecast by Met Eireann of 40-50mm of rainfall. We got maybe 20mm of that, and we started off on the Monday of this week with a forecast of 20mm to 40mm of rain, sleet or snow, and sub-zero temperatures all week. Watering with that forecast, particularly with the sub-zero aspect, would be alien to me. I'm not sure any other track would go along those lines."

Being Sensible; Noel Meade, trainer of Irish Gold Cup runner up Road To Respect: "It's a Catch-22 situation. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. The way it's turned out today, you would have loved if they had watered, but hindsight is a fine thing. They were in an impossible situation."

**

The countdown to Cheltenham's Festival continues apace, and next weekend the focus will be on Newbury, where the Betfair Hurdle, Denman Chase and Game Spirit Chase all offer Festival aspirants the chance to rehearse ahead of the big week in March. Join us early next week for another thrilling instalment of Social Discourse!

- William Kedjanyi

 

SotD Update, 28th January to 2nd February 2019

With just one winner and two placers from five runners, last week failed to live up to the high standards we'd already set in the first four weeks of the year but this is/was to be expected as I've often suggested in the past.

This meant we gave a small amount (1.25pts) of our profit back, but it's hardly worth worrying about right now. That aside, it was a landmark week for us with Monday's winner not only making January one of those rare 10-winner months, but it was also our 6o0th winner for this feature, whilst Tuesday's runner was our 2200th!

The snow seems to be clearing and milder weather is coming, so I'm hopeful of some better NH racing to look at, with a view to making February a good month too!

Selections & Results : 28/01/19 to 02/02/19

28/01 : French Mix @ 11/4 BOG WON at 5/2 
29/01 : Mumgos Debut@ 5/1 BOG 3rd at 4/1
30/01 : Generous Jack @ 3/1 BOG N/R
31/01 : Portledge@ 11/4 BOG 2nd at 3/1
01/02 : Swiss Cross @ 11/4 BOG 5th at 3/1
02/02 : Scofflaw @ 13/2 BOG 4th at 9/1

28/01/19 to 02/02/19 :
1 winning bet from 5 = 20.00% SR
P/L: -1.25pts

January 2019 :
10 winners from 23 = 43.48% SR
P/L: +31.75pts
ROI = +138.04%

Febuary 2019 :
0 winners from 2 = 0.00% SR
P/L: -2.00pts
ROI = -100.00%

2019 to date :
10 winners from 25 = 40.00% SR
P/L: +29.75pts
ROI = +119.00%

Overall:
600 winners from 2203 = 27.24% S.R
P/L: +526.15pts
ROI: +23.88%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is
here.
Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are
now available here.
Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here
And here is the full story from 2017.

2018 was the latest full year for SotD and the yearly review is right here

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

Click here for more details.

Jon Shenton: Heading Further Leftfield

This is the second of a two part article. In the first piece, which can be found here, I highlighted a number of training operations worthy of a second glance if their horses ran well enough last time to finish in a placed position.

This follow-up will explore the other side of the equation: trying to find those trainers whose horses perform well after a moderate or disappointing run, specifically having finished unplaced last time out (LTO).

 

The Leftfielders

You may recall I named this group of trainers the “leftfielders” for what are obvious reasons, hopefully. In basic terms, these yards appear to deliver a winner seemingly irrespective of whether the horses ran well last time out or not. In the same format as that last article, the table below covers National Hunt handicap runs from 1st Jan 2012 where horses have had a starting price of 20/1 or shorter.

 

 

The data is split by trainer, showing performance by horses that placed last time out (left hand block) and horses that were unplaced LTO (right hand block). This table of leftfielders is sorted by the variance in performance between the two separate datasets. In this case it’s showing the yards who are exceeding market expectation with their runners who were unplaced in their last race.

And here is the same info represented graphically (using A/E).

 

 

I find some of this data striking. All these yards outperform market expectation with runners that had a moderate/unplaced last run. That’s certainly interesting, however, the real insight for me is the variance in comparison with their in-form runners.

Perhaps it’s labouring the point but if we take Joanne Foster’s data, the A/E of her placed LTO animals is 0.55 (based on market evaluation of 8 wins from 86 runs) and the A/E of her unplaced equivalent is 1.48 (based on 26 wins from 157).  That's a variance of 0.93 in A/E performance between the two datasets. The graph shows the scale in difference with the Keevil, Stronge, Coltherd, Dalgleish and Spearing yards all showing notable deltas between their placed & unplaced performers.

Another way of appraising the data is by analysing strike rate. The graph below illustrates the same dataset but by winning percentage across the placed/not placed variants.

 

 

Here we can see that not only do these trainers beat the market with their unplaced last time entries, but their strike rates are at least comparable with their more in-form (as measured by last day placing) charges. In other words, last time out finishing position is less relevant for these yards. Taking the Foster yard again, a horse placing LTO prevails in its next race 9.3% of the time, compared to 16.56% for those unplaced last time. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a big difference and should be ripe for punting angles.

Let’s zoom in on the Joanne Foster data as a case study. The Yorkshire-based stable is another small, focused outfit. Exactly the sort of yard that I like to follow. Having had a total of 39 winners from 407 runs in National Hunt racing (since January 2012) the ability to track the stable runners and performance closely should be attainable. Incidentally, nearly a quarter of the yard's runs have been at Sedgefield (15 wins from 97 with a ROI of 0.1% at starting price) so entries at that track from Foster should always be noted.

Returning to the placed/not placed data, there are three aspects of the Foster yard that I think can be drilled down upon to make the healthy starting point of her overall unplaced LTO data (27 wins from 156, A.E 1.48, ROI 33% to SP) potentially even more profitable.  They are starting price, going and days since last run.

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There are three data tables below showing the splits:

The reason that I’ve shown the three separately with the same data (the 27 wins from 146 runs) is that if we'd gone through sequentially it could seem like a heavily back-fitted approach. By keeping the larger data set and analysing the variables against that broader info we can be slightly more confident that the data is indicative of a general trend in performance.

The numbers outlined by the red border in the tables show moderate performance, which I’m happy enough to remove from the equation. Horses returned at an SP of 17/2 or greater have a 5-from-90 record losing 19% of funds overall; while horses running on “non-winter ground” have a 5-from-56 record, and those having had more than 45 days off the track are a wretched 1-from-32.  All of these 'chuck outs' are rational and explainable too.

Removing the red border runners gives us:

 

 

A very small micro angle – but a high strike rate (39%), A/E at 2.53 and 166% ROI. One of the reasons I’ve laid out the components is that the angle is probably strong enough for you to choose which elements or not you’re comfortable including or excluding. For me, I’m going for it, this is in my systems portfolio until further notice!

Back Joanne Foster runners at 8/1 or less, on Good to Soft or softer where the horse has run within the last 45 days

 

I could go into more detail on any of the trainers on the master table at the start of the article hunting for micro angles! After all, there are some massive names on there (Gordon Elliott, and Anthony Honeyball of this parish, to name but two). However, the key message is that all these yards have a propensity to deliver irrespective of a low-key last run by one of their charges.

When trying to unpick a handicap race we all like the comfort blanket of a nice recent run for our potential wagering proposition. But over the past year or so my mentality is changing / has changed and I take my comfort from data such as this instead.

Finding a horse from one of these yards that I like and which bombed LTO gives a ripple of excitement, after all I think I know something that the punting masses generally don’t. Naturally, it doesn’t always work and clearly an unplaced run LTO can be a symptom of a horse with limitations or being out of form rather than an off day. Nobody said it was easy!

 

Like Shelling P's

As I’ve been writing this, looking out of the window on another frosty Leicestershire morning, something else has occurred to me. As an extension of the theme I’ve been wondering if there are some of the training establishments whose horses bounce back specifically from being pulled up in their last run.

My hypothesis would be that some trainers could offer instructions to the jockey to pull up more readily than others (it could of course be the jockey too), or that they are more inclined still to run a horse when the weather conditions have gone against the horse, or, well, for any number of other reasons. Regardless of reason or theory, it’s worth a quick look.

 

 

Now isn’t that interesting?  The table shows trainers where a horse was sent off at an SP of 20/1 or less and had pulled up in its previous run. To qualify for the table an A/E of greater than 1.00 is required.

There are some National Hunt behemoths on here: Nicholls, Henderson, Tizzard and Hobbs for example. It does make sense to an extent. They generally house animals with greater talent so you’d expect them to be more capable of bouncing back after a bad run in comparison to other stables. It does appear, though, that the market might not always fully factor that in. That’s perhaps understandable; after all backing a horse with a P as its latest entry on the form-line requires a degree of bravery. However, in general terms there will be value plays where these trainers listed in the table are in the game.

The clear leader here is David Pipe so let's have a look at his data in more detail.

31 wins from 161 runs, A/E 1.75 and ROI of 62%.

We could leave it there, that’s strong!  But let’s check a bit closer anyway.

Here is the distribution by starting price.

 

A bias towards the shorter end of prices here, it appears as though we are on relatively safe territory ignoring all runners at 12/1 or greater, where a combined record of 3-from-65 and a £20 loss to a £1 level stake is persuasive enough for me. That leaves the following consistent performance over several years (notwithstanding the solitary runner in 2019 so far).

 

 

And Just like that another micro is added into my portfolio:

Back David Pipe runners sent off at 11/1 or less and which were pulled up in their previous run

Sometimes it can be that easy finding angles, other times I can sit for hours searching high and low for snippets worth exploring.  I like this one though and am looking forward to seeing how it pans out over the coming weeks, months and maybe years!

That just about wraps up this edition. A final word, though. If you have any theories or hypotheses that you think might be worthwhile looking into please drop me a line, either via the comments below or on twitter

I can’t promise I’ll investigate everything but I’m sure there is some gold worth panning for in the collective minds of geegeez.co.uk subscribers / readers.

Speak soon!

Jon Shenton

Monday Musings: Klassical keeps the Dream alive

Last August, I had a brief drink before racing at York with Mark Smith when he told me about a horse his closest friend John Coleman had bought from France and sent to Willie Mullins, writes Tony Stafford. Sadly, since buying Klassical Dream, the name of the horse, John had died. “You must remember John, he always came racing with me, especially to Cheltenham,” said Mark. I did and do.

“It’s such a shame. He’s a really good horse and Willie loves him, but although he ran in some good hurdle races in France he didn’t win one. I don’t know if Joanne, John’s wife, will be able to keep him though,” Mark added.

The connection between that brief conversation and events yesterday in Ireland was lost on me until, post-race, Gary O’Brien mentioned the name Mark Smith, and blow me down it was that Mark Smith being interviewed by Nick Luck in the winner’s enclosure along with another pal.

I’d never had the retired-at- an- embarrassingly-early-age former City trader down as emotional, but in full view of the cameras it was as much as he could do to get out Joanne’s name and the fact of the “three boys watching at home”.  Clearly he was delighted at the turn of events, Joanne indeed keeping the horse and getting a Grade 1 prize, the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, to help defray expenses.

Now Mark Smith will have a good reason, as if he ever needs one, to be at the Festival next month when the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle will be the target. Klassical Dream, who battled back under Ruby Walsh to hold stable-companion Aramon by a head, is 8-1 for that championship race.

I know whenever I refer back to horses that have run at Cheltenham or anywhere else in my old colours, I have to pinch myself at how long ago it all was. No doubt Mark will be amazed that next month will be the 25th anniversary of his greatest day as an owner, when Balasani was awarded the prize for the BonusPrint Stayers Hurdle after narrowly failing to catch Avro Anson, who was disqualified.

Like Klassical Dream, Balasani was a French import, in his case an Aga Khan-bred who won on the last of three races in his homeland, at Saint-Cloud in April 1989.He never went through a sales ring as far as my researches could reveal, and if Mark had phoned back yesterday – he said around an hour after the race: “I’m with some people, I’ll call later” - the mystery might have been cleared up.

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Suffice to say, Balasani eventually appeared from the John Jenkins stable from where he ran a total of 15 times on the Flat and over hurdles. Despite the best efforts of Messrs Piggott, Eddery, Asmussen and Dunwoody and several others, he never managed to win.

That took him to early 1991 and the switch to Martin Pipe. Second time out, at Worcester, Balasani won at 10-1 and was in a winner’s enclosure seven more times before Christmas. He ran off a modest 91 at Worcester and by the time of the last of five jumping victories that year, the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown, he beat a field of 21 decent handicappers from 4lb out of the weights and a mark of 129, just 38lb higher! Some trainer, Pipey.

In between had come a Flat hat-trick, Lester contributing once and Darryl Holland the other two starting off in the 40’s.

Then, in the manner of Martin Pipe, Balasani was re-born from being a decent two-miler to a top staying hurdler, at the same time mirroring that progress on the level. In March 93, after a fallow 1992, he began with victory over one mile seven furlongs off 65 at Warwick before romping away with the Ascot Stakes (2m4f) from 10lb higher.

Now it was big races all the way. Next time he was runner-up, giving plenty of weight to the winner Highflying in the Northumberland Plate (off 83) and was jolted up to 91 when predictably stretched by the weight in the Cesarewitch. All that remained for that winter were three hurdle runs. He was fourth to Sweet Duke in the Long Walk at Ascot; and beat the smart Cab On Target easily in the Rendlesham Hurdle in its then home at Kempton before the Cheltenham win which showcased his ability to sprint up hills at the end of long-distance races. Post Cheltenham, he was the beaten favourite for the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot.

Presumably that was one test too far as he was off the track for more than 18 months, returning for a low-key five-race farewell tour for Pipe, who managed to fashion one last success as a 10-year-old in a long-distance claiming hurdle at Newton Abbot. Another break was the prelude to a final few runs for permit holder John O’Neill, also a one-time City man.

Mark has never lost his interest in racing, despite leaving ownership to others and is one of the shrewdest punters around, like his one-time City colleague and now Racing TV betting pundit Dave Nevison, who would have enjoyed yesterday’s win from his trackside pitch. One day Mark asked me whether I could arrange with the Daily Telegraph for his elder daughter to do her work experience there. She did, as also did her younger sister a few years later. Both have had long careers associated with newspapers and publishing. As Alan Newman might say: “It’s not what you know”!

I was delighted when Sir Erec made all the running in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle to confirm the overwhelming strength of Joseph O’Brien’s Triumph Hurdle hand. Racing TV’s Irish team, O’Brien and Donn McClean, seemed surprised beforehand that Sir Erec was shaping to make the running, but having finished a close third to Stradivarius in Ascot’s Qipco Champions Long Distance Cup last October for Aidan and the Coolmore boys, he would hardly be lacking in stamina.

Then after he sprinted away, putting six lengths between himself and the equally well-fancied J P McManus-owned stablemate Gardens of Babylon, the suggestion from the team was, “he had the run of the race”.  I often find that a nonsensical concept, but surely the way for him to find out the other runners’ limitations was to press on from the start. The question for the Triumph will be whether he or Cheltenham winner Fakir d’Oudairies will be the one. Don’t ask me.

The very limited English challenge over the two days of the Dublin Racing Festival was pretty much limited to La Bague Au Roi in the Flogas Novice Chase over two miles, five furlongs. Richard Johnson had the Warren Greatrex-trained mare in front from the start, and she stayed on as bravely as ever to make it 14 wins in 19 career starts. She remains unbeaten in four chases and looks another banker for the Festival, presumably in the RSA Insurance Novice Chase.

I left Leopardstown to Harry Taylor – more air miles than Judith Chalmers – in favour of Sandown on Saturday, where the best clerk of the course in the business, Andrew Cooper, once again played the percentages to get the meeting on. No frost covers – “if we had it would have cost 30k and we couldn’t have lifted the snow off” – but temperatures were helpful over the previous two days so the judgment call paid off with a good crowd and competitive racing, headed up by Buveur d’Air.

Sandown remains the best viewing course in the country and, according to Peter Jensen, its chairman, racegoers can expect a number of easily-visible improvements before the end of 2019 as the track undergoes the first phase of a multi-million pound re-development.

In the near future some rather more spectacular re-structuring is promised and with Spelthorne Borough Council seemingly strongly against any closure of sister-track Kempton, prospects for racing and racegoers in the area are bright indeed. That’s just as well in a period of increasing gloom in the sport, especially if the news of Sheikh Mohammed’s questioning of the financial extent of his involvement goes much further.

- Tony Stafford

Stat of the Day, 4th February 2019

Saturday's Pick was...

6.45 Kempton : Scofflaw @ 13/2 BOG 4th at 9/1 (Took keen hold, led early, prominent, ridden over 1f out, kept on final furlong op 7/1)

Monday's pick runs in the...

6.25 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?

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Mrs Burbidge @ 13/2 BOG

...in a 12-runner, Class 6, 4yo+ A/W Handicap over 1m4on Tapeta worth £3105 to the winner...

Why?

We're looking at a trainer, jockey and horse who both individually and collectively fare well in today's conditions. Here are some of the specifics:

Trainer Neil Mulholland has a 16% win rate at the track in the last five years (16/100, +19.98), which improves to 18% (13/72, +34.48) when we home in on low grade (Class 5 or lower) handicaps.

The booking of Adam Kirby looks significant. Kirby leads the All Weather Jockeys' Championship at the moment, and has a 22% win rate at the track in the last year, for a profit at SP of 25.26 points.

When pairing up, Mulholland and Kirby are 8 from 22 in the last two years (36%, +22.13); and when pairing up in low grade handicaps that record improves to 6 from 14 (43%, +13.73).

The horse herself is a nine-year-old now, and she's run at Wolverhampton seven times before. While she's only won once, she's hit the frame on five occasions, with a full form string of 1522332.

This is the first time she gets the Kirby treatment and, on her last two runs here, he'd only have to find a length of improvement to convert those narrow course and distance defeats (by a length and a neck) into victory

 ...giving us a rare 1/2 point each way bet on Mrs Burbidge @ 13/2 BOG which was available with Betfair and Paddy Power at 5.35pm on Sunday evening (Betbright 6/1, 11/2 general). To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 6.25 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

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!

Gold Upgrades: Video

A few new additions to Geegeez Gold in this past week, and the video below showcases them.

The highlight is probably the extension of Instant Expert to display form profiles for trainers, jockeys and sires as well as horses. That's an especially powerful angle in races where this is very little form to go on.

We've also added Official Rating (OR) to Full Form, as well as the latest odds; and we've included a Reset button for those who, like me, use the filters a fair bit.

Finally, we've cosmetically enhanced the racecards menu layout to make the colour scheme congruent with the dark blue throughout the site, and we've added horse names as well as numbers for non-runners on our results page.

Check out the latest version of the User Guide from your My Geegeez area, or watch the video below for more information.

 

Catching up with David Probert: 30th January 2019

In the second of jockey David Probert's geegeez blogs, he highlights some interesting horses to follow, talks us through the intricacies of Lingfield's all weather track, and offers some views on the whip debate.

Update on the last fortnight

It's been a really good start to the year for me, with 14 winners on the board in January already. My agent, Neil Allan, is doing a fantastic job and I'm riding for a lot of trainers and owners just now, which is great. The next few weeks might be a bit slower on the entries front, what with the sales being on, so we'll just have to see how we go. Considering I didn't start back in the UK until March last year, every winner I can get between now and then is a bonus.

I've ridden nine winners since we spoke a fortnight ago, and a few of them might be quite handy types to follow.

Target Zone of David Elsworth's won nicely at Kempton over a mile and is one to keep on side. He was still very green at Lingfield the time before, but that race has worked out well with the winner, fourth and sixth all winning next time as well as this lad. He carried his head a little bit high but he's still growing and he was pretty straightforward at Kempton. He looks an interesting one for the season.

Mr Elsworth is going very well at the moment, and another of his I managed to win on was Songkran for the King Power team. He said before the race that Songkran might just need the run, and we were drawn wide as well which didn't help. I was able to sit around halfway back but didn't have the best of runs through the field either. In spite of getting stopped two or three times, he still managed to put the race to bed quite nicely. I'm not sure what he beat but he's got a change of gear and he won decisively. He'll definitely come forward for that run and he should be another one to look forward to in the spring.

Rectory Road also ran in that hot Lingfield novice, finishing sixth when Target Zone was second. He was too keen there and I don't think he really came down the hill, things just didn't seem to go his way. But he had surprised us the first day when he won by six lengths at Kempton, and we were thinking, "jeez, what have we got here?". So this time the plan was to get him amongst horses and to switch off and relax, which he did, and he jumped into the race at the quarter mile pole and took me to the front near enough on the bridle. He's progressing quite nicely, he's athletic - well put together, and he's taken his racing in his stride too. As a dual winner, he'd have to carry a double penalty in novice company, so it is probably more likely he'll go either handicapping or they'll try and find something a bit higher grade for him next. Not sure what the plan is yet.

I also rode a few interesting non-winners, including Ron Hodges' sprinting debutant, Bequest. Ron said that this horse had been working with some of his better horses and he was hopeful of a big run. The horse was quite forward-going on the way to the start, so I thought we'd hit the gates and sit handy; but that plan was scuppered when he was slow away. He was quite keen at the back of the field, too, but he finished his race really well and I think he'll win soon, no problem. He wasn't quite switched on mentally there but he ought to be spot on next time and is definitely one to look out for. I hope to be riding him when he wins!

Probably the most frustrating ride of the last fortnight was Cosmeapolitan. He got caught in some traffic when I wanted to make my move, and I ended up getting fanned very wide and a little unbalanced coming into the short straight at Lingfield. I had to wait for him to straighten up and he's run to the line like the winner, but half a stride too late. I was kicking myself really because the plan was to be handy - I knew the pace was going to be slack - but we missed the break and I had to bide my time at the back. He'll probably go to the Classic on All Weather Finals day if he gets in: he might need to win again between now and then first, though. He's a lovely horse and he loves that all weather, especially at Lingfield.

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Seeusoon is a horse who came on a lot from his debut, and we were thinking he might just need it again but he was a lot more professional at Kempton, eventually finishing a decent fourth. He's another who will be winning races soon, and a mile and a half is his trip.

At a lower level, Tilsworth Sammy made his handicap debut in a two mile event at Lingfield. He's been tried over a range of distances and the longer trip there seemed to suit. They went very hard early on and I couldn't really get in touch until the second half of the race; this two miles was still sharp enough and if we can just find a race over two and a half miles, it'll be ideal! On a more serious note if he can learn to jump and travel early on, he'll have a great chance of getting off the mark.

And One Liner also gave it a good go earlier in the week. He's no superstar but I'm surprised he hasn't won yet. He finished really well there and can pick up a little race with a bit more luck in the run. He certainly didn't seem to miss the hood and tongue tie, which were removed this time.

 

What about the whip?

There's been a lot of talk about the whip in recent weeks. When they introduced the rules as they are now, they actually had a variant first that wasn't good. Loads of jockeys were getting days off and the authorities reacted quickly. I think the way they are now is actually pretty good. But if we have situations where jockeys - inexperienced riders maybe - are hitting their horse ten or fifteen times, that's not ideal and they're going to have to come up with some stiffer penalties to address things.

The way people are talking now I just can't see us carrying the whip in ten years time. I think we definitely need to at least have the whip for corrective purposes. I rode over in Oslo where jockeys aren't even allowed to carry a whip, and it's actually really quite dangerous because you've got no real control over your horse. Sometimes you just need a little flick to help a horse switch from an outside lead to an inside lead.

In terms of the rules, I do think it is unfair when you've kept within the rules and someone else hasn't and you've got beaten a short head. I think that's very unfair because, you know, I could have gone above the permitted level and probably won the race.

I think we definitely need to carry the whip and I think banning it, in terms of encouraging a horse to go forward, will be terrible for racing. I think most jockeys would struggle to adjust to such rules, through second nature as much as anything else. It's a difficult one, and I'm mixed minded on it. Whatever they decide to do, I imagine there will be ructions as a result!

 

Riding The Tracks: Lingfield AW

We talked about Kempton last time (see this article), and today it's the turn of Lingfield. It's probably the most idiosyncratic of the all weather tracks because of the hill. It's pretty level from the mile and a quarter start and down the back, but from the four furlong to the two furlong poles you're running down that hill. Some horses don't handle the hill which makes it a tricky track to ride; many of the jockeys will start to make their move at about the three - halfway down the hill, on the home bend - trying to get some of their rivals off balance. That's where you'll see most of the manoeuvres, jostling for position, trying to either get an inside run or slingshot off the bend if a little wider.

In five and six furlong handicaps, you want to be handy, and perhaps ideally with a middle draw to cut the corner a little. That gives you the most options. They're both tricky starts, the five in a little chute on the crown of the bend, and the six just before the bend on the main track. Inside draws need to be very quick away and edge right a bit to get a position, because if you don't you'll be in a pocket and it'll be hard. The six furlong trip is a bit more forgiving because you've got half a furlong or so before the bend, but you still need to jump and get a position quickly.

But over longer trips, certainly beyond a mile, it's very hard to make the running and win. I try and sit third or fourth, and one off the rail. If you're on the rail you can get boxed in as horses vie for positions and then you have to wait for them to pass before making your run. It's certainly a tricky track and one where you need to be in the right place at the right time.

Lane wise, it's pretty fair in the straight: I've seen horses coming up the rail to win, and horses fanning wide and winning, so there doesn't seem to be any advantage to one or other path in the last quarter. And the kickback is mild, probably the least of all the all weather circuits.

That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed reading, and catch up in a couple of weeks!

- David

Stat of the Day: The 2018 Review

A little over four weeks ago was the end of SotD's seventh full calendar year since its inception as a non-tipping piece back in November 2011. I should possibly clarify for those who haven't been with us all that time!

SotD was designed to give some statistical pointers as to how you could frame a bet without relying purely on the formbook or the racecards, which as we all know were (and largely still are ) inadequate back then. So, whilst we don't expect all of them to win, we do expect a fair run and often the stats we quote will pinpoint winners elsewhere too, so it's really more than a tip.

We know that we acquire lots of new subscribers every year thanks to previous years' successes from this service and also due to more savvy punters looking for better data, information and racecards than they'll find anywhere else on the 'net, 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 in the early evening before racing (preferably by 6.00pm) where possible but occasionally due to home-life, travel plans and/or holidays, it can be later, but there's a selection every day except Sundays and we don't take Bank Holidays, Easter nor Christmas off!

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We try to find runners priced around the 11/4 to 6/1 mark at BOG prices and look for some value in the odds achieved, but sometimes we have to stray outside those parameters a little. 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 did manage to make a profit yet again in 2018, but it was a real tough slog and easily our worst year so far, which was made even more acute following on from 2017's stellar performance!

Normally at this point, I'm typing this out with a fairly satisfied smile on my face, but the bulk of 2018 from Easter onwards gave me little to smile about to be honest and the only real cause for celebration is that we managed to secure another yearly profit, our 7th on the bounce. We're rightfully proud of our 7 year record for what is essentially a free add-on to the Gold toolbox package, but we're aware that 2019 needs to be better.

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 2018 was as follows:

Number of bets/selections/pts wagered: 292 (two fewer than 2017!)
Winning Bets: 67 (well down from 83 in 2017)
Strike Rate: 22.95% (2017 = 28.23%)
Average payout from winning bet : 3.57/1 (2017 = 3.89/1)

Yearly Profit: 14.16pts (2017 = 112.05pts)
Profit on Stakes Invested: 4.85% (2017 was 38.11%)

Our overall bottom line is still very impressive and one that both Matt and I (it's a team game) are rightfully very proud of, but we're well aware that 2019 needs to be better for both of us and more importantly for you, our loyal subscribers.

That said, the first four weeks of this year have gone well and we're already guaranteed to be in front for the at the end of next month, so we're now hoping to kick on and make 2019 something more like 2017 than 2018!. The challenge now, of course, is to extend January's form for as long as we can throughout the year.

Thanks for sticking with Geegeez and SotD,
Chris, Matt 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.

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