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Stat of the Day, 23rd September 2019

Saturday's pick was...

5.15 Newbury : Song Of The Isles @ 7/1 BOG 8th at 8/1 (In touch, weakened 2f out)

Monday's pick runs in the...

2.30 Hamilton :

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?

Avenue of Stars @ 7/2 BOG

...in a 12-runner, Class 6, Flat Handicap for 4yo+ over 6f on Soft ground worth £3,493 to the winner...

Why?...

As ever, I'll add some flesh to the bones of the pick later...

...but for now, it's... a 1pt win bet on Avenue of Stars @ 7/2 BOG as was available from Bet3654 & SkyBet at 8.20pm on Sunday, but to see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

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

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

SotD Update, 16th to 21st September 2019

A better week this week with two winners, two runners-up and two fairly well beaten sorts. I was little aggrieved midweek after Lady of Aran was withdrawn on Wednesday, causing us to lose 40% of the winnings from one I really fancied, and then went on to beat us on Thursday!

The upshot of the week was a near-2pt profit, which almost wipes out the deficit from the first half of the month. The strike rate is almost at par and we're probably just one winner shy of where we need to be at this point.

What this means is that with seven picks to go this month, I know exactly what's needed and two more winners should just about see us in profit for September, which after all is the target, irrespective of how we get there!

Selections & Results : 16/09/19 to 21/09/19

16/09 : Celtic Classic @ 10/3 BOG WON at 3/1
17/09 : Star Shield @ 11/4 BOG 2nd at 10/3
18/09 : Restless Rose @ 3/1 BOG (9/5 after a 40p R4!) WON at 7/4
19/09 : Gale Force Maya @ 3/1 BOG 2nd at 7/2
20/09 : Raashdy @ 4/1 6th at 5/1 
21/09 : Song Of The Isles @ 7/1 BOG 8th at 8/1

16/09/19 to 21/09/19 :
2 winning bets from 6 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +1.99pts

September 2019 :
4 winners from 18 = 22.22% SR
P/L: -0.18pts
ROI = -1.00%

2019 to date :
54 winners from 209 = 25.84% SR
P/L: +53.75pts
ROI = +25.72%

Overall:
644 winners from 2385 = 27.00% S.R
P/L: +550.16pts
ROI: +23.07%

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.

Silly Question Friday: Part 1

Thank you so much for your headscratchers, and welcome to the very first Silly Question Friday article. In this and subsequent Friday posts, I will respond to those quandaries large and small which have been rattling around your craniums (crania?) unanswered.

There is a vague 'subject matter' format, with this week's questions relating to RACING and/or BETTING.

Let's get straight to it...

 

How does a jockey judge the pace of a race?

From: Simon B

Morning Matt, I've always wanted to know, how does a jockey judge the pace of a race?
Especially over 2 miles and further when one horse scoots clear by 20 lengths or so?
Cheers mate,all the best, Simon

Geegeez writes...

Pace in UK and Irish horseracing remains somewhat subjective, though with more information being published, jockeyship can be expected to improve in this area in coming years. Pace maps, sectional timing and the like will be powerful allies to those riders who seek to improve the accuracy of 'the clock in their heads'.

Regarding how a jockey judges pace in a race, it will generally be the case that the horse they are riding will indicate to them whether the clip the leaders are going is too fast or too slow. If a horse refuses to settle, moving its head from side to side as the jockey attempts to restrain it, that is an obvious sign they're going steadily. This can be ratified by sectional split times on Sky Sports Racing (and other channels soon, hopefully).

If the leaders have gone off too fast, the field will generally be strung out with some runners being asked for effort to stay with the field.

The difficult scenario is the one you've outlined, where a single (usually) horse steals a march on its field. If the horse is travelling comfortably it has a reasonable chance to win, especially in a small field. However, often such runners have scooted clear because they are over-racing and will fail to see the race distance out. Look for how much control the jockey seems to have over the horse, and also the fluency of its jumping (if it's a jumps race, obviously; if it is jumping in a flat race, that would be a bad sign 😉 ).

Jockeys don't have the benefit of split / sectional timing, but we do; and we increasingly need to take these numbers on board. Elsewhere in the racing - and indeed sporting - world, such data is a fundamental staple of the game. It will be here soon, too. Embrace it.

*

What does ‘exposed’ mean in horse racing? And what is a ‘Conditional Handicap’?

From: Bill S

Hi Matt

Two questions which immediately come to mind.

First what is meant when a horse is referred to as being exposed or not exposed?

Secondly, what is a Conditional Handicap?

Great idea to introduce SQF

Best,

Bill

Geegeez writes...

'Exposed' is a term that means a horse has demonstrated its level of ability and is unlikely to improve markedly on that level. For instance, a horse with 20 flat runs, ten of them in mile and a half handicaps, would be considered exposed if running in another mile and a half handicap... unless there was something notably different this time, such as a first try on very different ground/all weather etc.

Even horses with lots of runs in the book can step forward for a change of race code, such as switching from flat racing to hurdling; in that context, the pedigree can offer some clues to try to fill the next context 'formbook void'.

An unexposed horse, then, is one that has had little public racing and, consequently, has the scope to improve beyond its hitherto demonstrated level of ability. Obvious examples, and horses to always give a second glance, are those running in a handicap for the first time after three runs down the field. This is especially the case if anything else is different today. For example, three runs at six furlongs in maiden races, then a first (or second or even third) run in a handicap over a mile and a quarter: this set up, especially if there was a break since the last run, might lead to an improved effort in a very different race scenario.

conditional handicap is simply a handicap open only to conditional riders. Conditional riders are the National Hunt (jumps racing) equivalent of apprentice riders on the flat. So a conditional handicap will tend to be a handicap hurdle (occasionally chase) for inexperienced riders.

*

How are horses rated? How are races classed?

From: Ian L

Hi Matt

Two basic questions that I think would be useful in this context:

1) How are horses rated?

2) How are races classed?

Cheers

Ian

Geegeez writes...

In order to receive a rating a horse must first run a few times in 'open' company; for example, in maidens or novice hurdles. That gives the handicapper, whose job it is to rate horses, a chance to see which horses a given animal has beaten and which horses have beaten it - and by how much. From this limited evidence an initial stab at a horse's ability - in ratings terms - is arrived at.

As horses race more, so they mature and their rating becomes a more likely reflection of true ability. This article, written in December 2014 but still as current now as it was then, explains more on ratings and the handicap system.

Races are classed based on the quality of animals expected to compete. In handicaps, this is simple: ratings bands, for instance 0-75, are used to restrict the runners to those rated 75 (or, in fact, 77 due to a recent +2 rule change) or lower. Depending on the top end of the rating band, a Class is attributed - in this case, Class 5 or occasionally Class 4.

In non-handicaps, the Class will be related to prize money on offer, race conditions, and so on.

Class 1 races are Listed and Group/Grade 1, 2 or 3 races, the Group/Graded races making up the 'Pattern', and Listed races showing it. All are bestowed such a classification by the European Pattern Committee. Such races can move up or down the Pattern and, occasionally (though probably not often enough), can be removed from the Pattern. More information on the Pattern can be found here.

*

Is a rated race a stakes race? What is the equivalent going to yielding, etc?

From: Stuart H

Hi Matt,

In Irish racing is a RATED RACE stakes or Hcp?

In Irish racing what are the equivalent going in UK for the Irish going, eg Yielding etc?

Regards

Stuart

Geegeez writes...

A Rated Race in Ireland is a race where horses are eligible to run based on specific race conditions, usually associated with their official rating. They are generally stakes races rather than handicaps.

Irish racing has the same going range as UK racing, with the exception of yielding (and its gradations into good or soft) and soft to heavy.

Yielding is generally held to be similar to UK good to soft.

*

What is a patent? (and other bet types)

From: JOHN C

Hi Matt

Can you explain to me what a Patent Bet is, because recently I had a Patent Bet, each way, which came home at what I thought were reasonable odds, but for this £7x2 bet, where possible returns were shown as £113.50, I received just under 20 quid, with Bet 365.

I expected this bet to be something special, so this is why I would like clarification.

Many thanks,

John

Geegeez writes...

A couple of things here. Firstly, if you're ever unsure of how/why a bet has been settled, it is important to take it up with the bookmaker that settled it. They are normally correct. But they are not always correct. Don't give up until you understand what they have done. If you are unhappy with the settlement (i.e. believe it to be wrong rather than just wished it came to more money!), you can contact IBAS for dispute resolution purposes. [NB if your bet was each way, it would have been a £1 e/w patent rather than a £2 patent]

Regarding bet types, a patent consists of seven bets across three selections as follows: three singles (selections 1, 2, and 3), three doubles (12, 13, 23), and one treble (123). This is an example of a full cover bet with singles. Others are Lucky 15 (four selections), Lucky 31 (five selections), Lucky 63 (six selections). The full cover variants excluding singles are trixie (three picks, doubles and treble), yankee (four picks, doubles, trebles and fourfold), super yankee (five picks), and heinz (six picks).

More information on bet types can be found here.

*

What is your favourite racecourse?

From: Arthur H

Your first 30 days for just £1

Morning Matt,

Which is your favourite racecourse (in the UK)? And why?

Good luck with this idea, I like it!

Arthur

Geegeez writes...

My favourite UK racecourse is either Sandown or Goodwood. Both are beautifully situated (though for different reasons), both epitomise much of the joy of the flat game, and both have pretty good viewing facilities.

But it's a tricky question. For different reasons, I love all of Ascot, Cheltenham, Fontwell, Plumpton, York, Beverley, Chester and many more.

For me it's true what they say: a bad day at the racetrack is better than a good day at the office!

*

How to play multiple system selections in the same race?

From: Paul L

Hi Matt,

I’ve got a question about systems betting particularly when the systems you use throw up more than one horse in a race.

How would you typically play this kind of scenario?  Do you just back them all because that is what you should do with system bets?  Do you take into account draw/conditions/form etc., all the things you would normally consider in selecting a bet, and use those to potentially dismiss one or more of the horses?  I’m particularly interested in situations where the prices are such that if one of the horses wins you are still down because the price of the winner doesn’t cover the loss on the other horse(s)?  I guess a similar scenario presents when back all the horses would return a profit if one wins - would you still back them all if all the other decision making factors would typically point to a no-bet or reduced bet situation?

Sorry that is actually a good number of questions, but all related.  As you might have inferred I’m wrestling with system bets based on angles I’ve set up using the Query Tool (absolutely brilliant by the way, although I’d love to be able to add some notes and use days since last run as a filter) and am probably not currently disciplined enough to use the approach to best effect so your input and feedback would be much appreciated.

Cheers,

Paul

Geegeez writes...

The idea of systematic betting is a good one: in theory it removes sentiment and helps retain sanity through the peaks and troughs of any sequence of wagers. However, it requires a certain mindset to follow qualifiers unerringly.

The results of systems are arrived at by adding the profit and loss of all qualifiers during the research period. That much is obvious. So it should follow that in order to expect a replication or continuation of performance, one must also back all qualifiers thereafter, regardless of how many appear in the same race.

If you are rigidly following a system, the answer is simple: back all qualifiers level stakes.

However, increasingly, bettors are not following systems blindly but, rather, using them to identify potential runners of interest. Thereafter, a user may eliminate runners on the basis of form considerations or vary stakes for the same reason.

I personally use Query Tool to flag runners of interest and to add further considerations into the 'fixed format' output of the racecards, draw and pace, Instant Expert and reports.

I do not follow systems blindly because I want to have more control over my betting. For others, this is exactly the reason they like to follow systems blindly.

Regardless, all mechanical angles should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain profitable and that the underlying logic still holds.

*

I have just had my account severely restricted after just 17 days. Is this a record ?

From: Bob G

Morning.

I have just had my account severely restricted after just 17 days. I haven't made any money and I am ten quid down.

Is this a record ?

Bobbob

Geegeez writes...

No, this is not a record. Bookmakers restrict accounts more often based on the price movements of the horses you've backed than the amount of profit you've made. Obviously the latter is also a factor, but if you end up on 'shorteners', you'll be caught in the algorithmic dragnet that says you're a shrewdie, and restricted accordingly.

Horseracing Bettors Forum and others are working with bookmakers to counter this, both by a 'right to reply' / feedback loop and by way of a Minimum Bet Liability (i.e. allowing bettors a bet to win at least a certain amount, usually £500). But not all bookmakers are yet receptive to such 'level playing field' concepts, sadly.

*

Why do some bumper horses have an OR?

From: Alan C

Hi Matt

I’m interested in bumper races. I asked the BHA if a horse can be handicapped on bumper form. Their answer is ‘a horse must run over obstacles to qualify for a handicap mark’. When I look at the race results on GeeGeez, ATR etc  for the bumper championship races at Chelt and Aintree, the runners are all shown with OR figures. For example, The Glancing Queen is shown with OR 124 for the G1 Champions Bumper at Cheltenham (she was 5th) and OR 122 for the G2 mares championship bumper at Aintree which she won. When I look up the OR on the BHA Ratings Database there are no results for the bumper horses. My question is where do the published OR ratings come from if they don’t officially exist?

Thanks for the chance to ask my ‘silly question’

Best regards

Alan

Geegeez writes...

This is an interesting question. As far as I'm aware, the BHA now publish 'performance ratings' for Graded National Hunt Flat (NHF, or bumper) races only. There is a distinction between a performance rating and official rating, notwithstanding that the former is used to arrive at the latter in the normal run of things.

The issue with bumpers is that they are considered a distinct racing code, and it is a code which has no handicap races. Thus, such published ratings can be considered 'for information purposes only'.

The BHA handicappers are not allowed to take account of bumper form when allocating opening hurdles (or chase) marks, meaning horses need to qualify for an initial mark in one of those before being able to race in a handicap hurdle (or chase).

Bottom line: the published NHF figures are NOT 'Official ratings' but rather they are 'performance ratings'. Official ratings in bumpers do not exist.

*

What does ‘is he off?’ mean, and how do we know the answer?!

From: Eddie F

Great stuff....

So lets light up the Q's

Starting with a full explanation (uncensored!) of "IS HE OFF?"

Cheers

Eddie

Geegeez writes...

'Is he off?' means 'is the horse trying its best today?', to which the answer should, according to the rules of racing, always be, 'yes'.

I tend to believe that generally horses are trying their best. [If you don't believe that, then betting on horses is probably not a sensible option...]

However, the better question is whether the race distance, ground, class, fitness level and so on are a 'best fit' for the horse. That is where the toolkit at Geegeez Gold (other services are available) comes into its own, and where value bets are isolated.

*

Thoughts on backing last time out beaten favourites?

From: Liam C

Hi Matt,

I do quite well backing last time out beaten favourites in lucky 15s . Ok I'm kept in the black a lot of times by the one winner bonus paid by my bookie, but have had some nice pay days and rarely lose my whole stake. Would be nice to hear your take on this, perhaps a list of last time out beaten favourites in your race card.

Thanks

Liam

Geegeez writes...

From the start of 2015 to mid-September 2019, last time out beaten favourites won about 5000 of about 27000 races. That strike rate of 18.6% was worth an SP loss of 3800 points, or a negative 14% ROI. Not good.

However, as you say, by using an approach like double odds on a single winner you've a chance of getting close to parity. More pertinently perhaps, you'll stay in the game longer and sustain your enjoyment as a consequence.

Following last day beaten favourites, or indeed any other approach predicated on a single data item, is not an approach I'd recommend; but each to their own.

BF is not something we plan to add to Geegeez cards.

*

When is the best time to bet?

From: STEPHEN C

Silly Question

When is the best to bet?

Had most of my BOG so have to rely on a guess when to bet. Never seem to get it right. When I bet early the price goes out. When I wait it always seems come in. Is some type of analysis around that might help and average out early or late?

Kind regards,

Steve

Geegeez writes...

Really good question. The first thing to say is that what 'seems' to be the case almost certainly isn't, inasmuch as you probably frequently get close to the best of the odds differential but remember the reversals more than those which go your way.

Regardless of that, the general point about when is best to bet is a good one, to which I don't have a great answer sadly.

The article here highlights some of the considerations to factor in, most of which are outside of our control. Sigh.

One thing I try to keep in mind in this context is what I know about a horse/trainer/jockey that the market will know before off time. For example, I might see that a horse is a 'lone pace' angle in a race, or has a superb record on today's heavy ground, etc. These things are rarely lost on the closing market but often take time to filter into the pricing. Here, I'd bet early.

However, with a handicap debutant from a trainer with a good HC1 record I'd probably wait to see how the market went. Trying to second guess whether a horse is just not very good or has been placed in maiden races to acquire a workable handicap mark is a volatile pursuit where the market can certainly guide. Usually, because very little money is taken overnight, such moves don't manifest until early to mid-morning.

It is at best an inexact science, but certainly an area where we should endeavour to be as expedient as is practical.

*

What in a horse’s run style suggests it wants further?

From: John

Hi Matt

What is it - apart from the obvious- that suggests in a horses style of running it needs further?

John

Geegeez writes...

Run style is not normally something which would highlight a horse's distance preferences. A trainer might want the horse to be held up if it feels the runner has suspect stamina at today's race distance. Equally, a horse with one pace but who gets the trip well might be ridden forcefully from the front. But neither suggests the horse needs further.

More characteristic might be that the horse in question gets outpaced at a point in the race - though this may just mean the animal is moderate, or perhaps unsuited by other factors (the pace of the race, ground, course constitution) - or, most obviously, if it finishes the race well.

Further clues can be gleaned from the pedigree: does the sire generally get horses that stay further? Over what sort of trip did the mare win? Was the damsire an influence for stamina?

It's not an easy question to answer; but generally I'd not be looking for anything other than finishing well, in terms of run style, to indicate a horse might want a longer race distance.

*

What does CSF stand for?

From: Aodhan O'C

CSF in results stands for ? straight forecast?

Geegeez writes...

CSF stands for Computer Straight Forecast, a nod to the computerised and formulaic calculation of the dividends.

You may request a copy of the formula from the Association of British Bookmakers, I understand, though it runs to many pages of A4 according to racing legend.

*

Does anyone really make a living from betting or trading?

From: Jeffrey O

Hi Matt

I have been trying to make money from gambling trading etc for 20 plus years and the best I can do is break even footy horses about the same.

Do you think anyone really does earn a living from it?

Jeff

Geegeez writes...

YES! I am absolutely certain some people make a living from betting and/or trading. But the key phrase here is 'make a living'. They have it as an occupation and invest a lot of time into the activity. Increasingly, that time is reduced by computer legwork, such as the kind that Geegeez Gold provides its subscribers.

More than the knowledge, as fundamentally important as that is, those whose living comes from betting or trading have an investment mindset.

That's a key point because not all of us have - or indeed want - such a mindset. For example, I bet recreationally but to make a profit. Betting is not, and never will be, my primary source of income; but I still have a positive expectation from it. I allow myself loads of action bets, and then make more 'robust' wagers when I really like a horse and its value proposition.

Lots of people are making a living from betting, but they invest a lot of time and energy both into finding the right wagers and getting those wagers on. They also have a supportive bankroll which will generally run into at least tens and normally hundreds of thousands.

*

How is the order of stalls loading determined?

From: Chris J

Hi,

My question is how do the decide what order to load the horses into the stalls. They don't seem to do it in order of draw and I don't think they do it in even then odd order either so how exactly do they decide? Quite often a commentator mentions that a particular horse is hanging back to be loaded last but surely it can't be down to the jockey to decide?

Chris

Geegeez writes...

I asked geegeez.co.uk-sponsored jockey David Probert for an answer to this one. He told me:

"The odd numbers are loaded first: stall 1, then 3, 5, 7, etc. Then the evens, 2, 4, 6, etc.

The exceptions are that all horses wearing a hood or wearing a rug for stalls entry must load first unless the trainer has 'taken a ticket', which entitles them to go in last"

So there you have it!

**

That's all for this first edition of SQF. I hope you now know at least one thing you didn't when you started reading this! If you've any more questions on racing, betting, Geegeez Gold, and so on, please do drop me a line and I'll add it to the list!

Matt

More on Pace in NH Racing

With the National Hunt season soon to spring fully into action, I thought I would look further to see if there were any pace angles we could take advantage of, writes Dave Renham.

In the past I have written two articles for Geegeez on this topic focusing on handicap chases over 2m 1½f or less and from 2m 6f – 3m 2f. This article looks more generally at pace in National Hunt races to begin with before focusing on all chases at all distances.

I know many of you reading this would have read some or all of my previous articles, but for new readers it is important to explain what pace in a race means here, and how we measure it. When I look at pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and position the horses take up early on. www.geegeez.co.uk has a really useful pace tool and the stats I am sharing with you in this article are based on the site’s pace section data. The pace data on Geegeez is split into four – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets are the pace scores that are assigned to each section.

The first set of data I’d like to share with you shows overall pace stats for all National Hunt races in the UK from 1/1/16 to 31/8/19, just over three and a half years’ worth:

 

Across all races there is a front running bias – an A/E index of 1.06 for front runners is positive, as (more so) is an Impact Value of 1.66.

Also if we simply compare strike rates we can see that the figures correlate with early leaders out performing prominent runners who in turn out perform those who run mid pack, while horses held up at the back have the poorest strike rate. (Plenty of horses with no chance at all spend the majority of their race at the back of the field, something which is worth keeping in mind whilst not detracting markedly from the general point about early race position and its impact on finishing position).

Of course it is important to remember that the number of runners in each pace group varies – there are far more runners in the prominent and hold up categories. Hence more important than the raw strike rates are the Impact Values (IV) and the A/E index (Actual winners/Expected winners).

See this post for more on what A/E and IV mean.

Impact of Run Style in NH Races, by Field Size

Let us break these data down by number of runners in a race. Here are the breakdowns:

2 to 5 runners

6 to 8 runners

9 to 11 runners

12+ runners

 

You should notice that the strike rates correlate once again across all groups, while the strongest front running bias seems to be in races with 12 or more runners (highest A/E index and IV figure), notwithstanding that the overall strike rate is the lowest – simply because there are more horses in these races.

On that face of it this is counterintuitive as one would assume that with more runners, there would be more challengers to eventually pass the front runner(s). From a betting perspective if you had magically been able to predict the early leader (front runner) in races of 12 or more runners you would have made a profit of £231.62 to £1 level stakes. This is based on SP returns, using Betfair SP this figure would be considerably bigger.

Sadly, such a magic predictor is not yet available; however, Geegeez Gold pace tabs provide a closer approximation than I’ve seen anywhere else.

Impact of Run Style in NH Races, by Race Code

Now it is time to split the races into codes: chases, hurdles and NH flat races.

Steeplechases

Your first 30 days for just £1

 

Chase races are where front runners have the greatest edge in terms of National Hunt races. They have the highest A/E index and IV figures. Again if your crystal ball could predict the early leader in each such race you would have been over £1100 better off to £1 level stakes to SP.

 

Hurdle races

 

Leaders have the edge in hurdle races too, but the edge is less strong. In addition you would not have made a profit backing all front runners even if you could predict them unfailingly!

NH Flat races

 

Again early leaders have the edge, but the bias is not quite strong enough to give us, as punters, a strong edge. Moreover, nearly all horses in such races have little or no form on which to base early pace assessments.

 

Cherry Picking

Now if we combine chases with decent size fields (12+ runners) the front running figures look very strong:

 

Being able to correctly predict the front runner in these races is probably the place to focus attention as if we had been able to accurately back every front runner, we would have returned a profit of 55p in the £ to SP. Handicap chases with bigger fields do have more of a front running edge than non-handicaps, but in general there are very few non handicap chases with such big fields.

Focusing on Chases

Chases clearly offer punters a front running edge so for the rest of this piece I am going to concentrate on all chases (all field sizes), starting with a review by course.

Front Running Bias in NH Chases, by UK Racecourse

Below is the record of horses that led early in chases at UK racecourses, ordered by market value (A/E). Any score over 1.00 is generally deemed to be positive, and the higher the score the better:

 

Only 8 courses have A/E indices under 1.00. The courses highlighted in red are the courses I would personally focus on as it seems the front running bias is at its strongest. Having said that it is worth checking a similar data set from say 2012 to 2015 to see if the course data correlates. This is a similar method that systems guru Nick Mordin used to employ when analysing time specific data.

This research is easily done using the Query Tool on Geegeez and I would recommend readers doing this to increase confidence and familiarity with the data. I have checked the 2012 to 2015 data and 14 of the 20 courses highlighted in red are in the top 20 in terms of A/E index in that time period too. In addition two other courses are positioned in 21st and 22nd spot.

Front Running Bias in NH Chases, by Going

A look now to see if the going makes a difference for front runners in chases:

 

Data for good to firm or firmer is limited so best not to read too much into those figures; it does seem that front runners on heavy ground have an increased edge, although personally I would have preferred to see stronger figures in the soft ground data to corroborate the heavy numbers. Again, as stated above, it is always worth checking another data set, and the 2012 to 2015 figures show heavy ground front runners have the same sort of edge (A/E 1.27; IV 1.74).

Front Running Bias in NH Chases, by (Selected) Trainer

Time to look at trainers now and their performance with front runners in chases. I have included all trainers that have sent at least 50 runners to the front – again the list is ordered by A/E index:

 

Readers will have their favourite trainers or at least a group of preferred ones. This table does indicate that certain trainers outperform others when it comes to horses that front run.

Staying with trainer data, here are the trainers who send out the highest percentage of front runners compared with all their runners:

Trainer Neil King is definitely a man to note – his is a huge percentage of horses which are sent to the lead early; in addition if you look at the previous table he has a decent performance record with them. Charlie Longsdon is another trainer to keep an eye on.

Selected NH Trainer Pace Tendencies

Finally on trainers, and finally for this article, I want to try and give an overall pace tendency for each trainer. To do this I have created trainer pace averages as I have done in some of my previous pace articles. I create trainer pace averages by adding up the Geegeez pace scores of all the runners for a particular trainer and dividing it by the total number of races run. The higher the average score, the more biased the trainer is to sending out horses that lead early or race close to the pace.

Here are the trainer pace averages for chases:

 

I hope this post will prove useful as the season moves forward, and I recommend you use the Geegeez pace tool to do your own research. Front running bias in racing is still an area where one can profit, as long as you put in a little research. Geegeez has the tools to make that both easy and fun.

Next time I will begin to focus on jockeys culminating in a final article on trainer / jockey combinations (similar to this flat article I wrote earlier this year).

 - Dave

Monday Musings: Enjoying My Afternoon (and Evening) Naps

Anyone who has read more than a few of the 300-plus weekly offerings, either Sunday Supplements or Monday Musings in this space will know that I used to tip horses for a living, writes Tony Stafford. For all my working life until I left the Daily Telegraph at the end of 2002, I was obsessed with solving the problem of every race. More often than not I had an opinion on them all too.

So you can imagine the sort of bother I could get myself into. Being regarded in some quarters as knowing something about the game didn’t square with the reality of thousands of frustrating afternoons in betting shops and on racecourses.

Then it all stopped. The analysis of races was really only brought into play in my racing manager days, from 2007, trying to derive optimism about the chances of Ray Tooth’s 30-or-so horses which were soon to feature Coronation Stakes winner Indian Ink and Champion Hurdler Punjabi.

Then Ray’s numbers steadily dropped and by early this year, apart from a few mares and young stock, was down to a trickle. As January arrived I was almost in despair at the turn of events, and then the Editor /owner of geegeez.co.uk was asked by friends if he could recommend someone to run a new project they had just bought.

Laurence Squire and Frank Crook are co-directors of Trainers’ Quotes, which as it says on the tin, relays the opinions of a number of highly-respected handlers’ runners every day to members. Over the winter the owner of a rival concern in the same sphere of activity, namely From The Stables, offered them his service for sale as he wanted to concentrate on his main activity, a kitchen-fitting business.

I visited Laurence at his place down the road from Venetia Williams in Herefordshire and also had an hour or two’s inadequate tutorial with its former owner and, by Cheltenham time, six weeks in, I still didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. Slowly the technical side worked itself out, disproving the maxim: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

Anyway, as with these articles, I’ve never missed a day since and having lost our biggest trainer to a new bookmaker sponsorship on Derby Day eve, I had the good fortune to sign Hughie Morrison, Brian Meehan, Shaun Keightley and lastly Ian Williams to cover what would otherwise have been a fairly barren flat season while our top jumping trainers were enjoying their summer breaks.

In those far-off days in Fleet Street, I was obsessed with the naps tables, with near misses a few times in the Sporting Chronicle, three wins in the Sporting Life – I’m looking at the trophies now - and a handful of monthly awards in the Racing Post.

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Now I’ve reverted to type. Whenever I was in contention I used to have the table in front of me and put a line triumphantly though other tipsters’ losers and grudgingly mark any winners. It didn’t work, in all honesty, especially the time when Teddy Davis of the Chester Chronicle had a 66-1 winning nap that wiped out my 40 points lead one February.

About six weeks ago it was brought to my attention that From the Stables was doing quite well in the William Hill Radio naps table. I hadn’t known we were even in a tipping competition until Laurence called and told me: “You’re not far behind. Try to beat Sam Turner”.

At the start of this month, I was around £4 behind Sam who in turn was a few pence adrift of Dave Lowe. I met Dave for the first time at Doncaster on Saturday. He was on duty for William Hill, for whom he works in promotions, for their sponsorship of St Leger week.

A mutual friend introduced us and I asked Dave if he knew anything about the naps table. “I do,” he said: “I’m lying third in it, why do you want to know?” “I’m leading it,” I replied and he added: “So YOU’RE From the Stables.”

In the intervening few weeks, the old habit of making a list and crossing through the losers has become almost my major activity. It hasn’t been helped as over the past nine racing days I’ve had a run the like of which I cannot ever remember when it was a major focus of my employment.

It started on Saturday a week ago at Haydock, when the Ian Williams-trained Time to Study won at 7-1; then Oliver Sherwood’s Archimento won at Fontwell, starting 7-4. Monday’s winner was Morrison’s Escape the City, 4-1 at Brighton, followed by Byron Flyer, Williams 11-8 at Worcester, and Shaun Keightley’s Trouble Shooter, 7-1 at Kempton.

Two losers followed but then Meehan slipped in a 13-8 winner, Top Buck at Bath on Saturday, and Williams completed a memorable nine days when Blue Laureate stormed home by seven lengths at Ffos Las at 15-2 yesterday.

As a result almost embarrassingly I have to report that From the Stables is almost 30 points clear at the top of the table. Many of William Hill’s staff contributors to its radio commentary service and their betting shop studio programming are among the 24 fellow tipsters. My role, apart from ensuring that the trainers’ comments are faithfully recorded, is trying to evaluate which of “our” runners have the best chance.

That itself is not always easy. Top Buck was one of 16 contenders on Saturday and he was actually the only winner. The process of ending up on the right nap does I think stay with the died-in-the-wool tipster. In my case it’s taken a long time for me to get back to looking at the races in the way I used to and I have to thank all the trainers, those I inherited and the new boys, for being so helpful in guiding our readers in the right direction.

As I understand it, it costs £30 a month to receive the service. No doubt as a result of the good performance we might get some new members. It would be typical for them to catch us on the way down. What is most satisfying is that our present profit of more than £38 would give us a £7 lead if we were competitors in the Racing Post naps table.

So it’s thanks to my friend Matt Bisogno for the suggestion and as a result giving me the chance to rekindle my love for finding winners. The downside is that I’m going to be as insufferable as I always used to be, and no longer the mellow old man I believed I’d become.

*

Important matters again have to find room at the bottom of these thoughts but I’m sure they will be given more than justice elsewhere in this publication. Pinatubo, so impressive in the National Stakes at The Curragh yesterday, must be one of the best juveniles to have been seen out for a long time. I think it’s fitting that the always-approachable and ever-modest Charlie Appleby has such an outstanding 2,000 Guineas contender in his care.

Messrs Gosden and O’Brien were both efficient in hoovering up the majority of the other big Group 1 prizes in the UK (nice St Leger winner, Logician), Ireland and France and I enjoyed Magical very much on Saturday in the Irish Champion Stakes. Could she possibly beat Enable in the Arc this time?

Joseph O’Brien’s Group 1 winner Iridessa was a big moment for Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez and husband John Murrell, incorrectly-spelt recently in the Shaun Keightley article with an “a” for “u”. As long as they keep winning Group 1 races with fillies destined for the December Sales, John I’m sure wouldn’t mind if we called him John Gosden!

- TS

Stat of the Day, 16th September 2019

Saturday's pick was...

2.10 Chelmsford : Intuitive @ 3/1 BOG WON at 10/3 (Mid-division, headway and switched right over 1f out, led inside final furlong, ran on well to win by 2.5 lengths)

Monday's pick runs in the...

7.30 Kempton :

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?

Celtic Classic @ 10/3 BOG

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...in a 14-runner, Class 6,  A/W handicap for 3yo over 1m4f on Polytrack worth £3,105 to the winner...

Why?...

Since the application of blinkers four starts ago, this 3 yr old gelding has enjoyed an upturn in form (and who doesn't want one of those?), finishing 1432 in those races and only beaten by a length over this trip last time when finishing strongly in what looks a stronger contest than today.

That was his first crack at today's trip, but he has already won at this grade over 1m3.5f, so I'd expect another bold effort today.

His jockey today is Rossa Ryan, who comes here in good touch with 9 winners from 46 (19.6% SR) generating 61.8pts (+134.3% ROI) over the last fortnight, including a nice 8/1 winner yesterday (Sunday) at Ffos Las and when riding for today's trainer (Paul Cole) over the last two seasons, Mr Ryan has 7 winners from 29 (24.1% SR) for 36.3pts (+125.2% ROI) profit, including...

  • 6/24 (25%) for 37pts (+154%) in handicaps
  • 6/19 (31.6%) for 20.8pts (+109.6%) at odds of 8/1 and shorter
  • 5/14 (35.7%) for 36pts (+257.1%) at Class 5/6
  • 5/12 (41.7%) for 36.8pts (+306.8%) on 3 yr olds
  • 4/11 (36.4%) for 32.6pts (+296.6%) over trips of 10 to 12 furlongs
  • 2/4 (50%) for 8.6pts (+215%) at Class 6
  • and 1/2 (50%) for 1.54pts (+77%) over this 1m4f trip

...whilst Rossa + Cole + 3yos + C5/6 hcps @ 8/1 max = 3/4 (75% SR) for 15pts (+375% ROI) with 2 winners from 3 at Class 6.

There's a good chance of our pick going off as favourite today, but whilst it's foolish to blindly back favourites, over 30% of them do win, so it's just a case (as ever) of backing the right ones! With that in mind, you could do a lot worse than backing the ones with Rossa Ryan on their backs, as his record on All-Weather favs stands at 25 from 64 (39.1% SR) and a £10 bet on each would have made you £149.30 profit at an ROI of 23.3%, including...

  • 15/33 (45.5%) for 14.33pts (+43.4%) on 2/3 yr olds
  • 12/28 (42.9%) for 15pts (+53.7%) on Polytrack
  • 11/31 (35.5%) for 5.74pts (+18.5%) at Class 6
  • 9/22 (40.9%) for 5.91pts (+26.8%) on 3 yr olds
  • and 5/11 (45.5%) for 3.16pts (+28.7%) in 3yo contests

...whilst on 2/3 yr olds at Class 6 on Polytrack, he is 3/7 (42.9% SR) 5.19pts (+74.1% ROI).

And finally, back to trainer Paul Cole, whose runners are 10 from 53 (18.9% SR) for 111.6pts (+210.6% ROI) over trips of 9.5 to 12 furlongs during the past 12 months and this include of note/relevance today...

  • 7/38 (18.4%) for 56.7pts (+149.1%) with 3 yr olds
  • 5/21 (23.8%) for 35pts (+166.8%) over trips of 1m3f to 1m4f
  • 4/11 (36.4%) for 32.6pts (+296.6%) with Rossa Ryan in the saddle
  • 4/9 (44.4%) for 31.4pts (+348.7%) at Class 6
  • and 3/12 (25%) for 79.3pts (+661.1%) on the All-Weather...

...and with 3 yr olds winning 4 of 19 (21% SR) for 31.56pts (+166.1% ROI) over trips of 11/12 furlongs...

...I'm happy to place... a 1pt win bet on Celtic Classic @ 10/3 BOG as was quite widely available at 5.10pm on Sunday with Stoke City's backers Bet365 offering a little bit more. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 7.30 Kempton

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

SotD Update, 9th to 14th September 2019

Last Sunday I wrote..."Five straight losers (albeit three making the frame) wasn't the way I wanted to kick off the new month, but thankfully a 9/2 winner on Saturday eased the pain and turned the week's losses into a more manageable figure.

I'm sure we can recoup the half point dropped next week and then get the month going properly"...

Roll forward another 7 days and substitute the 9/2 winner for one at 10/3 and the half point for 1.67pts and it's pretty much deja vue. Once again, we found ourselves just short of making decent profits during the week before needing to be rescued on the final day.

I'll be honest and say that I'm finding it pretty tough going at present and 2 from 12 at the halfway point of the month is quite a way short of where I'd want to be, but the beauty of playing at the prices we do, means that even if lean times, one winner would make all the difference. 8 of the 12 picks this month have made the frame, so 60% of the losers have been placed and we're only 2.17pts down : this means that had just one of them held on, we'd actually be in profit.

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Thankfully, as it's a daily feature, I get another chance to put things right tomorrow (Monday).

Selections & Results : 09/09/19 to 14/09/19

09/09 : Long Call @ 4/1 BOG 3rd at 9/4
10/09 : B Fifty Two @ 4/1 3rd at 11/2
11/09 : Redarna @ 3/1 BOG 7th at 4/1
12/09 : Invincible Larne @ 7/2 BOG 2nd at 5/1
13/09 : Benadalid @ 11/2 BOG 4th at 7/2 
14/09 : Intuitive @ 3/1 BOG WON at 10/3

09/09/19 to 14/09/19 :
1 winning bet from 6 = 16.66% SR
P/L: -1.67pts

September 2019 :
2 winners from 12 = 16.66% SR
P/L: -2.17pts
ROI = -18.08%

2019 to date :
52 winners from 203= 25.62% SR
P/L: +51.76pts
ROI = +25.50%

Overall:
642 winners from 2379 = 26.99% S.R
P/L: +548.17pts
ROI: +23.04%

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.

Monday Musings: Makin Good After Career Switch

Two young people, their promising careers as jockeys abruptly ended by injury after near-calamitous race-riding accidents, have joined forces in a bold and visually spectacular training project, writes Tony Stafford. Well Close Farm is on the A19, ten miles north of York racecourse and a couple of miles to the south of the picturesque market town of Easingwold, population 4,627 (and 51 Grade 2 Listed buildings).

Whoever spotted the potential of the 44-acre farm previously occupied by E Drury & Sons, self-promoted as “Europe’s leading distributor of industrial motors, gearboxes and drives”, and additionally of clear float laminated glass – nice diversity there! – take a bow.

His or her foresight led to the “sale by private treaty” being withdrawn last year and by November 30, PJM Racing was incorporated with two directors, Phillip Makin (incorrectly listed with one “l” on the article of incorporation), racehorse trainer, and Samantha Joanne Bell (Sammy Jo to me and you), assistant trainer.

Now the life and business partners are reconciled to their new dual roles: Makin was age 34 and presumably with at least a decade to go as a jockey when on August 25 last year, riding the Mrs Doreen Tabor-owned Eyecatcher for Simon Crisford, he appeared likely to win when the gelding fell and was fatally injured. Makin broke a bone in his neck in that incident and has not ridden since. His final tally of UK wins stands on 951.

Sammy Jo had already called time. The Northern Ireland native is one of many to have started out from Jim Bolger’s stables, more than a few of them - A P McCoy comes to mind – from the six counties. Her ten victories in Ireland were supplemented by 72 more in Britain, 51 of them for Richard Fahey. The two winners she rode in the 2015 Shergar Cup when still an apprentice illuminated her career, but a pelvic injury in the following season led to ten months’ absence.

There was a brief revival in 2017 but after a final winning ride on All My Love for Pam Sly in October of that year at Catterick, she finally retired. On Sunday morning in the kitchen of their refurbished stone farmhouse she said: “But I hope I will get a ride for Richard Fahey in the Legends’ race on Wednesday at Doncaster”. We’ll know later today when the declarations are finalised.

Neither Makin nor Bell, particularly the ever-active Bell, seems any larger than jockey size. Makin said: “When you ride horses for a living, you think you are busy enough. When you train it’s altogether different, always something to do and it takes over your life.”

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The development of this impressive training centre, totally private, is going on apace. There is a four-furlong all-weather (waxed sand) circuit and a seven and a half furlong gallop that joins the circuit and is visible from the trainer’s office on the upper floor of a converted barn. “But when the indoor ride is completed that view will be obscured, so we’ll need to build a new viewing platform to watch the work”, he says.

There are 50 boxes already in place in large converted barns with another ten to come. A feature of the farm while operating as an industrial business was the quality of the grassland and there are around 25 small turn-out paddocks designed to keep the horses fresh.

Makin and Bell have the support of a number of local businessmen and the 30 horses in training have recently been bolstered by the arrival of seven yearlings. No doubt Ascot sales tomorrow, the next spot on the talent-seeking treadmill will provide one or two more. “We’ve a potential owner who’s looking for a ‘cheapie’ and I told him we might find one there,” said Makin.

It was not until early this year that Makin announced his plans to train and the first winner came just over a month into the new season when Galloway Hills won at Redcar. The tally is up to seven now and when we went to York races later in the afternoon, Fennaan, once with John Gosden, was fancied to run a big race. Unfortunately it seems that his questionable wind continues to hamper his progress.

There are two planned runners at Doncaster on Wednesday, but the trainer is looking further ahead to Ayr. His candidate is Lahore, originally with Roger Varian, when racing in the colours of Invincible Spirit’s owner-breeder Prince Faisal. The five-year-old was a 99-rated horse when acquired for just 11k at the autumn sales last year, a price that suggested some problems. Makin’s team has clearly sorted them out and Lahore has been running well all year. A Ripon win early last month was followed by a short-head second of 16 to Bielsa at Thirsk, a run which led to his rating going back up from 93 to 97.

Makin’s hope that Lahore might squeeze into the Gold Cup’s top 25 seems destined to disappointment as he’s number 61 in the list, but that should easily ensure his place in the Silver Cup. “He loves soft ground and we’ll be running 4lb well in so I have to like his chance.”

Whatever happens, the young man who made something of a habit of riding Raymond Tooth winners at Carlisle, “I remember Rainbow Zest for Wilf Storey and I Say for William Haggas”, he says – so do I – has all the cards in place to make a big splash.

It doesn’t hurt that he has recently added Lee Enstone to the team. Lee rode 140 winners in the UK, 47 of them for the late Patrick Haslam, but it’s amazingly ten years since he last rode in public. The Chester native had been working at Michael Owen’s stables for Tom Dascombe, but as he told Rachel, queen of the owners’ badges at the top northern tracks for the past 23 years, “I’m back!”

Enstone was given a fair compliment a little earlier as Fennaan toured around the pre-parade ring, by David Easterby, son and assistant to the venerable Michael. Easterby junior, presumably fully refuelled by the excellent owners’ room roast beef lunch – no I didn’t have one! – told Makin: “Lee came along at the same time as Paul <Mulrennan, who was riding Fennaan> and probably had more talent.”

A little research showed both careers started in 2000, Mulrennan with no wins and Enstone four.  “But Paul”, he added, “was much more determined”. Speaking to Enstone later, it was clear he is taking his new job as a major opportunity. “There are some nice horses, including later-developing two-year-olds and a great work atmosphere. I can’t wait to get going,” he said.

The small team of stable staff will no doubt need to grow but with Well Close Farm’s facilities and several local owners prepared to spend money to buy success, PJM Racing should have a bright future.

*

One week I’ll have the space to write up properly the continuing success story of the Alan Spence horses. Last week Revolutionise won a little handicap at Kempton to follow Positive’s Solario Stakes at Sandown. This Saturday it was Salute The Soldier, owned in partnership with Mr and Mrs Hargreaves, that made all, showing great resolution, under a big weight in the valuable seven-furlong Cunard Handicap at Ascot – which Ray Tooth won with Dutch Art three years ago.

Salute The Soldier, bred by Spence and the Hargreaves’, was running off 101, so even a small rise, maybe 3lb, will concentrate the attention of talent-seekers for Hong Kong or the Middle East. When I asked Alan whether the offers had been flying in, his “not yet” was delivered in the quizzical sort of way that suggested: “but they will!”

Thence to Doncaster and his Golden Horn filly, West End Girl, who goes for Group 2 honours in the May Hill Stakes. Airport duties – Mrs home from hols in Mexico – might hamper my trip north that day but, as Alan says: “What will she be worth, a first crop Group 2 winner by Golden Horn?” He’s always known the value of a pound note has Spencie!

Stat of the Day, 9th September 2019

Saturday's pick was...

4.25 Kempton : Streamline @ 11/4 BOG WON at 9/2 (Chased leaders, went 2nd over 1f out, ran on to lead final 100 yards, won going away)

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.50 Brighton :

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?

Your first 30 days for just £1

Long Call @ 4/1 BOG

...in an 8-runner (was 9), Class 5, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ over 1m2f on Good To Firm worth £3,429 to the winner...

Why?...

Over the last year, this 6 yr old gelding has finished on the first three home on four of six occasions, winning twice, including a course and distance success here LTO some 32 days ago under today's jockey, pulling clear as the finish unfolded, yet is only raised 2lbs for that effort, but does drop down in class.

To date he has 2 wins and 3 places from 6 runs on Good to Firm ground, 2 wins and a place from 3 attempts at this 10f trip, he's 1 from 1 here at Brighton (C&D LTO) and 1 from 1 under jockey Tom Marquand (also C&D LTO).

His trainer, Tony Carroll, is 4 from 13 (30.8%) over the past week and jockey Tom is 6 from 29 (20.7%) in the same period, whilst together they are 11/45 (24.4% SR) for 56.5pts (+125.7% ROI) in Flat handicaps this season, including 5/13 (38.5%) for 28.9pts (+222.4%) here at Brighton.

More longer-term, Tony's Flat handicappers racing over 6f to 1m2f here at Brighton are 39/204 (19.1% SR) for 101.2pts (+49.6% ROI) profit over the last six seasons, including...

  • 34/164 (20.7%) for 92.6pts (+56.5%) from males
  • 35/148 (23.7%) for 147.9pts (+99.9%) at odds of 9/4 to 14/1
  • 22/100 (22%) for 48.7pts (+48.7%) on Good to Firm
  • 10/49 (20.4%) for 33.2pts (+67.8%) in 2019
  • 8/38 (21%) for 13.5pts (+35.6%) from those dropping down a class
  • 10/35 (28.6%) for 20.8pts (+59.4%) in September
  • 11/33 (33.3%) for 46.3pts (+140.2%) at Class 5
  • 6/28 (21.4%) for 15.1pts (+54%) from 6 yr olds
  • and 5/24 (20.8%) for 20.4pts (+85.1%) with Tom Marquand in the saddle

...from which...males at 9/4 to 14/1 on Good to Firm are 16/62 (25.8% SR) for 68.2pts (+110% ROI) and this includes 8/26 (30.8%) this year, 4/15 (26.7%) using Tom Marquand and 3/8 (37.5% SR) for 26.7pts (+333.3%) for Tom this year.

And finally for today, you might be interested to read that Tony Carroll's LTO C&D winners are 9 from 14 (64.3% SR) for 21pts (+150% ROI) at odds of 5/1 and shorter in UK handicaps since the start of 2018, including 2/2 for 5.94pts here at Brighton (and 3 of the 5 losers still made the frame!)...

...all pointing towards... a 1pt win bet on Long Call @ 4/1 BOG as was widely available at 5.10pm on Sunday, although Bet365 were offering an extra half point at that time. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

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

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

SotD Update, 2nd to 7th September 2019

Five straight losers (albeit three making the frame) wasn't the way I wanted to kick off the new month, but thankfully a 9/2 winner on Saturday eased the pain and turned the week's losses into a more manageable figure.

I'm sure we can recoup the half point dropped next week and then get the month going properly.

Selections & Results : 02/09/19 to 07/09/19

02/09 : Melody of Scotland @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 5/2
03/09 : War Eagle @ 3/1 BOG 3rd at 2/1
04/09 : Demi Sang @ 3/1 BOG 5th at 7/2
05/09 : You're Hired @ 5/1 BOG 2nd at 9/2
06/09 : Wild Edric @ 4/1 BOG 10th at 11/4 
07/09 : Streamline @ 11/4 BOG WON at 9/2

02/09/19 to 07/09/19 :
1 winning bet from 6 = 16.66% SR
P/L: -0.50pts

September 2019 :
1 winner from 6 = 16.66% SR
P/L: -0.50pts
ROI = -8.33%

2019 to date :
51 winners from 197= 25.89% SR
P/L: +53.43pts
ROI = +27.12%

Overall:
641 winners from 2373 = 27.01% S.R
P/L: +549.83pts
ROI: +23.17%

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

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Punting Angles: Chelmsford City Racecourse Part 1

After a short summer break recharging the batteries (in theory) it’s time to get back to work and begin preparations for the onset of winter, writes Jon Shenton. That doesn’t mean National Hunt yet, I’m afraid. Rather, we’re going to get stuck into the polytrack of Chelmsford, hopefully stealing a march by doing some early research before the real all-weather schedule starts to kick in.

Chelmsford Overview

‘Chelmo’ has been a fixture of the racing calendar from 2015, ignoring its brief prior incarnation as Great Leighs in 2008, and is widely known for offering impressive prize money. In 2018 £5.2m was shared across 63 fixtures according to the official website. That, as well as the track’s proximity to the Newmarket training centre, has arguably led to a better quality of racing on this artificial surface than any of the others.

The track constitution is illustrated in the course map below. It is just about a mile in circumference and the turns are relatively broad and sweeping in nature, sufficiently so to develop a turf track to sit inside the current AW oval. There are chutes for the seven- and eight-furlong starts, more of which later.

 

Chelmsford Top Trainers

Before checking out specific race distances, we’ll adopt our usual tactic of scanning the trainer ranks for potential profit.

Usually in this series of articles data relates from 2012 to present day. However, as Chelmsford has only been up and running for four years, there are obviously less data to go on in terms of overall duration. However, that is more than compensated for by the fact that in its brief existence there have been over 17,000 runners at the track. To put that into perspective there have been fewer than 7,000 runners at Epsom from 2009 to date. All data in this article covers racing up to Friday 30th August 2019.

 

Trainer Performance

Using geegeez.co.uk’s Query Tool, the below table shows all trainers with an A/E performance of greater than 1.00, concentrating only on runners sent off at 20/1 or shorter; and there needs to be a minimum of 100 runners for a trainer to qualify.

 

 

The top pair of Charlie Wallis and Derek Shaw are certainly of interest, perhaps David Simcock too.  Aside from that at this helicopter level, there isn’t too much to get excited about.

 

Charlie Wallis

Wallis’s stable is based in Essex so the relatively high volume of runners at his local track makes sense. It’s noteworthy that the yard has a real all-weather specialism, with over 70% of their total runners appearing on artificial surfaces. Being a relatively new team (training since 2015), this may change as the operation develops and progresses. Until then, runners from the team are well worth monitoring here.

Analysing Wallis animals by the distance at which they have competed results in the following splits:

 

Sprinting is obviously a key focus. A large proportion of runs, wins and returns have been sourced over the 5- and 6-furlong ranges. For angle building I’m only interested in these short distances although you could easily argue that the sample sizes over further are insignificant and, in time, they may show similar performance to the sprints. That might be the case but I’m happy to stick with the larger samples up to three-quarters of a mile.

Wallis over 5&6 at Chelmsford puts up some nice numbers without too many more filters. If I were being a perfectionist, it’s preferable that one of his has had a recent run. Using horseracebase.com to drill down further, the yard has never had a winner (on any course) when a horse has been off the track for more than 90 days and, ideally, a run in the last 45 days would be optimal for this angle.

 

SUGGESTION: Back Charlie Wallis runners at 20/1 or shorter over 5 and 6 furlongs at Chelmsford, [Optional, exclude horses that have not run in the last 45 days.]

 

Derek Shaw

Moving on, Derek Shaw is another cornerstone of UK all-weather racing and, much like Wallis, a similar proportion (70% or thereabouts) of the yard’s activity is focused on the ‘sand’.

Checking the performance of his 248 runners by SP provides something on which to chew. The data below are for horses running at Chelmsford with an SP of 12/1 or bigger.

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With only five winners from 81 bets and a strike rate of a smidgen over 6% in my view it’s marginal whether it would be worth fishing in that pool long term. However, taking all Shaw Chelmsford runners at 11/1 or shorter we build a potentially compelling picture when further analysing by race class:

 

It’s crystal clear that there is a division between performance in classes 2 and 3, and in classes 4-7. I think it’s not unreasonable to assert that the Shaw string wouldn’t contain the best raw materials in terms of racing talent with which to work. Perhaps some of the better class races are just a notch too high for the animals at Shaw’s disposal.

 

SUGGESTION: As always, simplicity is best and that’ll do for me, back Derek Shaw at Chelmsford in Class 4-7 races where the SP is 11/1 or shorter.

 

Without too much delving, those are two straightforward angles to file away in your QT Angles for use over the main all-weather season and beyond.

 

Ian Williams

One other worth bringing to your attention, though just bubbling under the 100-runner level (with 96), is Ian Williams. I don’t propose to go into detail here, but his numbers are worth keeping in mind (and perhaps researching yourself if you have the time).

 

Short Priced / Fancied Runners at Chelmsford

As you may have noted from previous columns, I’ve started to get a bit of a taste for angles focusing on shorter price runners. The table below simply illustrates the record of trainers where runners have an SP of 5/1 or shorter (50 runs minimum).

 

Obviously, there is some duplication with the trainer data presented earlier; Wallis and Shaw predictably are prominent (Williams too). Of the others, at first glance Messrs. Dwyer, Tate and Easterby appear to be potentially worthy of shortlisting when the cash is down. No doubt that some of these could stand alone as angles. However, before piling in it would be highly advisable to check consistency of performance. Based on samples of this relatively small magnitude it is perfectly plausible that the inclusion on this table is attributable to a golden year or two.

 

Specific Chelmsford Race Distance Analyses

One mile races

One advantage of the all-weather is that we can almost take one of the key variables in racing out of the equation. Changes in underfoot conditions are less prevalent, though weather variance can affect the surface more than the official going relates; so, coupled with the abundance of meetings on the AW tracks, there is nearly always a rich source of data regarding pace and draw to delve into.  Virtually all races at Chelmsford are on Standard, however, there are a handful of Standard/Slow contests included in the analysis from this point onwards.

Our first zoom into the profile of a specific trip is over the mile. If we refresh our memories from the course map, the start is located in a chute and there is approximately a furlong and a half of racing prior to the first left hand bend, where the runners join the main track. That does not give much time to secure a good early position, and being trapped deep on that first bend is a realistic danger.  In other words, there is a whiff of low draw bias about the set up here, especially in bigger fields.

I’ve compiled the draw and pace data and attempted to consolidate it in a single table. At first glance it may appear complicated, but hopefully with a small bit of explaining will be quite simple.

 

The table is basically a mash-up of draw bias (using the draw analyser IV3 numbers) and the pace profile (Pace Analyser with IV) consolidated on one table by number of runners.

A quick refresher of what IV3 means: it is simply the average Impact Value of a stall and its nearest neighbours. For instance, the IV3 of stall six would be the average IV of stalls 5, 6 and 7

The numbers are one thing, and the colours are another, but what does it mean and how can the insight be used to optimise our chances in finding potential winners?

Broadly speaking, the greenish tinged numbers represent good performance with the red ones conversely not so good (as Sven might say).

Without doubt, there are more green shades in the lower box numbers, indicating the expected low draw bias. This appears to hold true for all field sizes too: an inside draw is a positive when assessing the merits of an individual horse.

Moving across to the pace box to the right, the green numbers are concentrated around the leading and prominent runners.  At first glance it looks like an early-to-the-lead horse is the most desirable.  On closer inspection, however, we see that a prominent runner is arguably as valuable in terms of winning potential for most field sizes. The deep green relating to leaders in 13/14 runner races fields (data based on small samples of 24 and 20 respectively) gives a possible visual skew to the data.  What is in no doubt is that being up with the speed is highly desirable and, related, hold up horses generally have it to do.

Low daws are good, and early speed is good, but what happens when they are combined? That’s where our old friend the draw/pace heatmap (found at the bottom of the DRAW tab on flat race cards) can offer some valuable insight.

Evaluating races where the number of runners is between 7 and 10 inclusive over a mile (chosen as they are the most common field sizes so sample size is larger) and consolidating in the heat map (IV) we get the following composition.

Heat Map of mile races at Chelmsford with 7-10 runners inclusive using IV

 

The heat map paints a very clear picture:

  • Low draws are desirable irrespective of run style
  • For those drawn in the middle, a prominent or leading style is preferable
  • For those drawn high, a front running style is the only favoured approach 

 

7 Furlong races

Before wrapping up, from reviewing the course map I thought it may be interesting to use the same approach over the seven-furlong trip. The hypothesis is that a low draw may be of less relevance as horses and riders have a full three furlongs to get a position before the first turn. Thus, it ought to be possible to negate the risk of being trapped out wide and, therefore, potentially ease the sort of draw bias seen at the mile distance.

 

Alas, the hypothesis doesn’t hold true as the data indicate that there is still a form of bias towards lower stalls when viewing through the prism of IV3. That said, the draw doesn’t appear to have too much effect until field sizes of nine or more are experienced. In the broadest terms stalls 1-6 seem to be better off than stalls 7 and above in almost any circumstances.

For larger fields of 13 and 14 runners there appears to be a strong bias to the lower numbers although, again, sample sizes are smaller. Usually that can be attributed to getting out of the gates and securing good track position early on, ordinarily up with the speed and avoiding hazards in running brought about by a congested field.

Again, a quick check of the heat map can help:

Heat Map of 7f races at Chelmsford with 13-14 runners inclusive (IV)

 

This view is only comprised of 41 races but it’s clear that a horse in a low stall has a stronger hand to play than its wider-drawn competitors in the biggest field sizes. If that same low drawn horse leads it has an IV of 3.81 which means, it’s nearly 4 times as likely to prevail as the average!

In the second part of this Chelmsford epic, I’ll cover sires, jockeys, the fate of favourites, as well as the impact of draw and pace on 5- and 6-furlong races.

Until then, thanks for reading.

- Jon S

Rodriguez Returns After Enforced Absence

It was a lovely sunny morning in late May. I was slurping on a coffee next to the boating lake in Victoria Park, London, musing on the simple pleasures in life when the phone rang. The tone at the other end was subdued, overwhelmed even.

The voice belonged to Callum Rodriguez, rising star of the weighing room prior to a six month ban imposed for a failed drug test in February. He'd called to tell me that he was struggling, that the situation had got the better of him, and that he was headed to Liverpool John Moores University for some help and guidance from their specialist jockey support team.

Just a couple of months previously an agreement had been reached for geegeez.co.uk to sponsor Callum for the next two years; I was excited about the prospect of adding this talented young rider to our portfolio of jockeys, and about having a presence on northern racecourses alongside David Probert (principally) in the south.

But, just 17 rides and three winners into the new agreement, Rodriguez's world was turned upside down with the news that he would have to sit out half a year due to the presence of a metabolite of cocaine in a random test. The day before he called, the enormity of his situation and its implications had become almost too much. He broke down in front of his mum before contacting the PJA who quickly put him in touch with professional assistance.

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Up to that point, his was an ascendant career that looked set to flourish in 2019. Five wins in 2015 were followed by eight in 2016 before a leap to 39 in 2017, including Ebor success aboard the Iain Jardine-trained Nakeeta, and 68 last year. The momentum of that impressive trajectory was firmly checked when, on the dozen winner mark in 2019, he was obliged to take that enforced sabbatical.

Rodriguez is contrite about events, recalling that it was a "stupid mistake" and a "one off incident" for which he has paid dearly. He is not alone in succumbing to the temptation, joining names as big as Kieren Fallon and Frankie Dettori as well as, more recently and a more direct parallel, Kieran Shoemark.

The issue is not unique to the jockey community, as cricketer Alex Hales can attest. Indeed, in cricket a first such incidence is treated as a 'health and welfare' issue rather than a punishable offence. A second failure results in wider public awareness though still no ban. It is only after a third failed test that a lengthy veto is administered by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

That stance seems to be too lenient, but it does serve to highlight the severity of penalties imposed on riders by the BHA, where a zero tolerance approach means first offences carry a brutal sting.

Six months on, after what must have seemed like an interminable hiatus, Rodriguez has continued to ride out for his boss, Michael Dods, as well as for his other major patron, Keith Dalgleish. And it is for Dods that he will enjoy his first spin back, on the flying mare Intense Romance in a top class five furlong handicap at Haydock on Saturday. The combination has previously enjoyed success in five of their ten unions, most notably in a brace of Listed events last autumn.

Understandably, Rodriguez just wants to look forward now, and to repay the faith of his main supporters. "I can't wait to get back out there, get my head down and re-establish my reputation. Of course I want to thank Mr Dods, as well as the owners in the yard, for their loyalty, and I'm really looking forward to riding as many winners as I can for them."

It may be the experience of Shoemark upon whom Rodriguez draws most in the coming days. Since his return to race riding in June, the Lambourn-based pilot has added 22 victories to his tally and is now firmly re-established in the weighing room community.

I'm delighted that Callum will continue to fly the flag for geegeez.co.uk as he resumes his career, and all of us here wish him every success for the future after what has been the most difficult period of his young life.

Shares Available: 3yo Ready to Run

Forseti happy in his new stable

geegeez.co.uk is excited to have acquired a horse from the recent Ascot August Sale, shares in which are available right now.

This is your chance to get closer to the racing action, as an owner with all that that entails.

Details of the horse, trainer and syndicate are below. Do have a read through and get in touch if you're interested.

The Horse

Formerly trained by Andrew Balding, FORSETI has won three of his ten starts to date including on his penultimate run for his previous trainer. By triple Group 1-winning stallion Charm Spirit out of a Raven's Pass mare, he cost 60,000 Guineas as a yearling.

Five runs at two saw him win on his second start in a Salisbury maiden (made all) before running an unlucky seventh of 17 in the Glorious Goodwood nursery (comment: Athletic; looked well; steadied and bumped leaving stalls, held up in rear, closed when not clear run and switched left well over 1f out, headway and not clear run again briefly inside final furlong, stayed on well towards finish).

This season, as a three-year-old, Forseti won on his first run, at Lingfield against two horses now rated 80 (and subsequently sold for 70,000 Guineas to race abroad) and 83. That remains his only start on an all-weather track, so he is unbeaten in that context!

Two moderate runs at Chester, one of them on soft, followed and it might well be that he simply doesn't get on with the very tight track there. Indeed, as can be seen from the below image, his best form is on straight tracks.

He was then dropped in grade and won as he liked, easing a length and a half clear of the second, with four lengths back to the third. While that wasn't much of a contest he came from last to first and won going away. Moreover, his previous owners went to £14,500 in the public auction afterwards to retain him.

A single run since, in a big field mile race where the hood was left off for the first time in his career, was his worst and is a 'chuck out' in his overall profile.

Indeed, as the image below shows, he seems to have a preference for a straight seven furlongs. Even when he won over a mile at Lingfield, it was a steadily run race where a change of gear was the key attribute.

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Before acquiring FORSETI, I spoke to David Probert about the horse, and he told me:

He’s a good mover and wind is clean; he might ideally need a mile and wears a hood to help him settle. He is probably better than 77 [Official Rating].

Forseti having a good look around his new garden!

Despite being a buzzy type who wants to get on with his races, Forseti has done best in smallish fields, though he has also performed creditably both times in bigger fields where he's been able to settle slightly better off a stronger pace.

My suspicion is that a big field straight seven, where he might switch off at the back and be delivered late, could be ideal. But, as we get to the later stages of the turf season, I also have an eye on an all weather campaign, Lingfield perhaps ideally suiting that change of pace.

In case you are wondering, FORSETI is the Norse god of justice and reconciliation, so wikipedia tells me...

A hammer price of £12,000 (+VAT) seems very fair for a sound horse with a 30% win rate, untapped potential in a couple of areas, and who is pretty much fit and ready to run.

STOP PRESS: FORSETI has an entry to race next Tuesday at Catterick. If he wins, he will return half of his purchase price almost immediately!

FORSETI is fit and ready to go!

FORSETI is fit and ready to go!

The Trainer

FORSETI will be trained by Mick Appleby in Langham, Leicestershire. Mick was last year's all weather Champion Trainer, so there will be no concerns about our horse not running through the winter.

Mick's forte is improving horses from other yards, and almost all of the horses he trains win at some point, many of them multiple times before being sold on at a profit. He is the fourth trainer on the geegeez.co.uk roster, and this is our second horse with him, alongside Elhafei (about whose all weather prospects we are excited).

Mick's record can be viewed here.

 

The Syndicate

The plan is to race FORSETI up until either May or July 2020 - a period of nine or eleven months - before sending him back to one of the Newmarket sales held in those months. That makes for a known financial commitment and an easy 'exit strategy' at the end of the term. It also gives us most of a year of fun and a chance of a return at the end of the period. NB if you're considering that as a factor in getting involved, you should plan for a negative return, and only hope for a positive one!

FORSETI is syndicated into TEN shares, each costing £3,000. That includes VAT, which will be reclaimed by the syndicate and used to fund training and racing expenses. All expenses are fully transparent and no 'admin charge' is levied on any geegeez.co.uk syndicates.

That contribution will take us to the May sale, at which point we will decide whether to continue for another two months, funded either by prize money won or a further contribution of around £400/member. If agreement cannot be reached, he will go to the May sale.

Syndicate members are, of course, entitled to their pro rata (10%) share of any prize money and sales revenue accrued by the horse as well as any residual funds in the account, after all training, racing and sales expenses have been accounted for.

Furthermore, syndicate members will be entitled to an owner's badge whenever our lad runs, and I will arrange a yard visit some time in September or October. Members may go to the yard (by appointment) outside of the formal visits to watch FORSETI work.

The horse will NOT be insured. Individual syndicate members may considering insuring their share and I can provide details of insurance brokers if that is of interest.

I already have four SIX firm commitments for shares, meaning six FOUR TWO remain (I will update this figure as new commitments come in).

To express your interest and request a copy of the agreement, click here to email me.

Bouncebackability: Profiting from out of form trainers

Form is temporary, class is permanent; so goes the old adage.

Whilst that is demonstrably true in most walks of life, including horse racing, I wondered if there was a way for punters to profit from it. I'm not talking here about the yins and yangs of weekly or monthly form cycles, but rather those tempora horribilis that leave the license holder despairing for his or her livelihood.

These longer cold spells are often as a result of an as yet undetected microbe uncomfortably cohabiting with the equine residents. Such bugs are not respectful of reputation and strike down yards large and small on a frustratingly frequent basis.

When a stable is succumbing to 'the virus' it has no choice but to sit tight and sterilize, praying for an early reversion to the norm. But what should we as punters do about such situations?

Inspired, if that's the right word, by a recollection of Philip Hobbs' tough season in 2017/18, I wondered whether such protracted poor form left its mark on the betting ring; and if, as a consequence, it was possible to take advantage of this temporary blind spot.

Here's what I did next...

Method: Identifying Bouncebackability

What follows is somewhat arbitrary but is designed to ensure reasonable sample sizes and sensible periodicities. Taking the 2014/15 to 2018/19 seasons (five), I looked at all trainers with at least 150 UK runners in that time and a strike rate of 17% or more overall. I used the excellent facility at horseracebase.com to do the crunching.

These are the trainers, along with their overall records for the period in question:

 

The overall profit / loss at Betfair SP, and with 5% commission applied, is -655.60. It goes without saying that's not ideal, though it represents a negative return on investment of just -2.9%.

From that list, I compared each trainer's overall five season win rates and Actual vs Expected figures with their individual season records. And, from that, I identified those seasons which were either their worst in the sample period or more than 3% net worse than their five season average; and I separately identified those seasons which were -0.1 or greater away from the five-season A/E figure.

Those tables look like this, with the negative outlying season figures highlighted in yellow cells.

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Difference between five-season mean average win rate and individual season win rates, UK NH 2014/15 to 2018/19

Difference between five-season Actual vs Expected and individual season A/E rates, UK NH 2014/15 to 2018/19

 

Unsurprisingly, there is a similarity between the shaded cells in the two images, but they are not the same. As such, it makes for an interesting comparative when attempting to gauge the utility (or otherwise) of following stables the season after a difficult campaign.

What happened next?

The hypothesis goes that, through a combination of punter disaffection and downward-moving handicap ratings, following trainers in the term immediately prior to a poor season could prove profitable; or, at the very least, less loss-inducing.

Blanket coverage of any yard is generally not advised, so aspirations were initially camped towards the 'less loss-inducing' end of the P/L spectrum.

The task then was to take a trainer's figures from the season following a 'yellow cell' campaign, and add those to a new performance table. I did this for both the win strike rate group and the A/E group.

Win strike rate 'Next Season' results

The results for trainers highlighted by win strike rate are as follows:

 

These figures are remarkable given the profile of a number of the trainers contained in the sample. What is even more remarkable is that, last season, all three of Messrs Hobbs, Quinn and Richards were in the black at Starting Price.

Overall, the profit from blind backing these win strike rate 'tough season' trainers in the following season was 214.27 points at Betfair SP, after commission. That represents a not immodest ROI of 6.64% on more than 3000 bets.

 

Actual vs Expected 'Next Season' results

The results for trainers whose 'tough season' produced a dip in A/E of -0.1 or more from their overall five-term figure were as follows in the subsequent campaign:

This more betting-focused approach produces strong parallels to the previous section, both in the trainers/seasons contained in the table and, related, in the bottom line. In this case, there was a Betfair SP profit of 216.72 units, negligibly above the 'win rate' surplus. However, those profit points were accrued from roughly 200 less bets, thus making for a slightly more impressive return on investment of 7.19%.

 

Summary: Worth Noting?

It bears repeating that there is significant overlap between the 'Actual vs Expected' cohort and the 'win strike rate' one. Nevertheless, the two approaches are subtly different: the first focuses more in terms of absolute winners, the second fixes its gaze on the market.

Ten of the twelve A/E trainer seasons were replicated in the 'win strike rate' table. Given that overlap and the commensurate bottom line similarities, it may be that the approaches are somewhat interchangeable, though it is logical that the method which focuses on market (A/E) ought to be the better way forward.

The fundamental question I was trying to answer was, "are trainers who have bad seasons worth noting in the next term?". Whilst the definition of a 'bad season' is arbitrary and others will have a different notion of what constitutes one, the general principle appears to be that it is reasonable to expect high strike rate handlers to revert to (something like) the level of success they previously enjoyed.

There are occurrences - see Elliott and Lacey on the win rate table - of two notably below par seasons in a row. And there are sequences of more than two below par seasons, though not sufficiently poor to trigger my not-quite-random yellow box thresholds. In short, there be variance hereabouts. And there be a small sample of trainers and seasons, and there be some outliers in the winners which are magnified on Betfair by their distance from the top of the betting lists.

Enough with the pirate speak, here's the rub: the yellow cells for trainers who endured a tough season in 2018/19 might be expected, as a collective, to fare a good bit better this term, perhaps even turning a profit at exchange starting price. As such, Harry Fry, Anthony Honeyball, Keith Dalgleish and Warren Greatrex may be worth marking up as late summer morphs into autumn and for a while at least thereafter.

Caveat emptor.

- Matt

Monday Musings: Second Time Lucky for Keightley

A former jockey who according to the meticulous Derek Thompson was the “first man to ride on every racecourse Flat and jumps in England, Wales and Scotland” 20 years on from his final ride during a four-year stint in Australia, is now making waves as a trainer at Exning in Newmarket, writes Tony Stafford.

I first knew Shaun Keightley ten years before that when, on one memorable – and more than a little frustrating – Oaks day in the late 1980’s, he rode one of three winners in a four-horse raid on Catterick (afternoon), Carlisle and Leicester (both evening) of a Peter Hudson-trained quartet owned by Sheikh Mohamed Al Sabah from Kuwait.

The Sheikh, a larger-than-life character who was prone to through-the-night four-hour telephone conversations with interminable pauses and ancient English idioms – “er…and so on and so forth” was perhaps the favourite – was also prone to excess in most other areas.

He had a 50-horse stable, Linkslade, in Lambourn, where Willie Muir has trained for many years now, originally under the care of Stan Mellor and then briefly Fred Ffitch, Stan’s assistant. The Sheikh was looking for a permanent replacement and soon after my friend George Hill had interviewed Hudson following his first winner on an outside reporting day for the Daily Telegraph, the appointment was made.

Hudson, previously assistant trainer to Barry Hills at Manton where he was also estate manager, had only recently gone out on his own. The old Etonian instantly got on well with George, an old Edith Cavellian - Haggerston (alma mater of Rodney Marsh) and the appointment soon ensued.

The Sheikh had some nice horses and after a quiet spell told me he was intent on landing a gamble. Money duly collected from the United Bank of Kuwait, various friends, family (well Dad anyway), Telegraph employees and Dad’s dog trainer Paul Philpott were despatched around East and South London, Kent and Hertfordshire placing multiples on the quartet, with a total of 300 establishments being targeted.

It needed the first, Absolutely Perfect at Catterick, to set the bet in motion. Carrying the deep red and white colours of Al Deera Bloodstock, the Sheikh’s ownership name, he duly obliged at 11-2 under George Duffield. Thirty minutes later a rather more significant moment in British and European racing came in the Oaks on that June 10 day when Aliysa, after passing the post first under Walter Swinburn for the Aga Khan and Michael Stoute, was disqualified in favour of Henry Cecil’s Snow Bride and Steve Cauthen.

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That would prove to be a road with no turning as the Aga Khan almost immediately decided to take all his horses from England, basically his strong representation in the Stoute and Luca Cumani yards. They were moved to France and Ireland and the same status quo persists to this day. It even extends to his sales policy, using Arqana in France and Goff’s in Ireland to the exclusion of Tattersalls.

Even before those two races, it had been a red-letter day for Shaun Keightley. With most of the big riding guns down at Epsom, he was enlisted by Ben Hanbury for the mount on Weldnaas, a 20-1 shot, in the Listed John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock. Despite putting up 1lb overweight (8st7lb, really Shaun?) he made the most of his first ride on the horse to gain his own sole Listed winner on the Flat. Weldnaas never ran again.

That was five minutes before Absolutely Perfect and half an hour before the Oaks. Then it was a two –hour gap until the first of two Leicester runners, Careful Lad, under Steve Dawson in the seller. The odds of 11-8 were not easily landed. In a 13-runner field, he got up by only a head.

Keightley by that time had completed the ride north to Carlisle up the M6 with Peter Hudson. His mount Radish’N Lemon was a 3-1 shot in the maiden, and strolled home by six lengths with never a moment’s doubt. In view of what happened to the last leg, there now is a feeling of “swings and roundabouts” for me as Radish’N Lemon later had the race taken away on technical grounds.

That left Pharaoh’s Delight, a 100-30 second-favourite on debut behind Bright Flower, an odds-on shot ridden by Frankie Dettori for Cumani – that’s right 30 years ago and Frankie was already winning! She was the one we reckoned to be the banker. Ask Dave Dineley?

But Eddery could finish no nearer than sixth after easing her when beaten and came in to tell George Hill: “Bad luck, she’ll win at Royal Ascot”. She did, by six lengths in the Windsor Castle, and followed up, first in the Princess Margaret at Ascot on King George day. Then soon after came her crowning glory in the Group 1 Heinz 57 Phoenix Stakes at now-defunct Phoenix Park while family Stafford was returning from New York on the QEII. He knew what he was talking about Mr Eddery!

Pity she was wasn’t ready first time. I recall having more than £50k in cash on my living-room floor after the boys managed finally to bring it all home, usually needing three or four goes to get the money. If the filly had won it would have been more like £250k, but had she done so, the cry of “foul” would have come from the bookies and the team would have had even more bother in getting the cash. Anyway that’s all conjecture.

So let’s fast forward at least a couple of decades. Shaun Keightley, following an initial spell between 2002 and 2006, reappeared after a gap of 12 years in his late 50’s as one of the oldest “new” boys in the game. He set up in Darryl Holland’s yard in Exning, next door to Gay Kelleway, but it was when building contractor Simon Lockyer sent him Rail Dancer to train in the spring of 2018 that the success story really began.

For many years his main mentor had been John Morrell, owner of the La Manga resort in Spain, with Shaun often taking care of his pre-training horses. Morrell’s family horses are run in the name of John’s wife Chantal Redalago-Gonzalez, best known for the 2015 Oaks winner Qualify, trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Morrell, true to character, supported Keightley’s latest training venture and in San Carlos they have a nice three-year-old who is sure to continue to pay his way. After taking some time to come right, Rail Dancer produced a quick-fire winning double within five days in May, setting in motion a memorable first full year as a trainer.

Working largely with low-grade animals, and following on from two wins in 2018, Shaun has now hit the impressive figure of 15 this year. Simon Lockyer, who is now comfortably his principal owner says: “It’s amazing. He had seven winners in August alone, four of them in the last fortnight from only nine runners.”  Three of the four winners had won their previous race and defied either a penalty or a rise in their rating.  “The owners are all delighted with how it’s going,” added Lockyer.

A man who partnered almost exactly 200 winners (150 jumps, 50 Flat) in his 20-year riding career might not be expected to remember everything about them all, but when I told my friend Peter Ashmore that Raymond Tooth was sending Keightley a horse, he said: “I remember him”.

Back in the late 1970’s Peter had a share in Captian <correct spelling> Cheeko, a hurdler with Philip Allingham at Lilley, near Luton. He said it had finished second in a three-horse seller with Keightley, then a 7lb claimer, riding. “Yes, he was a flashy chestnut with a white blaze and four white socks,” Keightley recalled.

Another equally impressive feat of memory was when he met another friend, Shaun Ellery, a great pal of the late David Wintle, at Chepstow when Trouble Shooter won there a couple of weeks ago. Keightley said:  “Are you Shaun Ellery? I came to your night club, The Bank, in Cardiff back in the 1980’s.” Right on all counts, says the man known universally (as long as you’re old enough!) as Sonic.

As a last word I’d like to congratulate Alan Spence on the Solario Stakes win of his Positive at Sandown on Saturday. Not as clear-cut maybe as the betting had predicted but the way he battled and Adam Kirby’s glowing endorsement makes a 2000 Guineas aim realistic.

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