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Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2017 Preview: Trends, Tips

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2017 Preview: Trends, Tips

Widely held to be the best middle distance race in the world, the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe brings together global formlines in a thrilling clash of continents, generations and sexes. The race revolves around Enable, a filly not yet even entered, though virtually certain to be supplemented later in the week.

There are a few strong pointers to the average Arc winner, though this year's renewal could comprise a below average field and an above average favourite. Time will tell, but first some patterns...

 

2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Trends

Arc de Triomphe: Weight and gender

A Group 1 run over a mile and a half and bringing together three-year-olds against older horses, girls against boys, means there are a weight-for-age and weight-for-gender concessions. Specifically, males aged four and up will carry 9-05, fillies aged four and up will carry 9-02, three-year old colts lug 8-13 and three-year-old fillies bear the least lead, just 8-09.

Since unbeaten Zarkava, a three-year-old filly, won the 2008 Arc, just three winners have been male. All three were three-year-olds, and all three were Derby winners: Sea The Stars, Workforce and Golden Horn. The other six winners, then, were female, split evenly between three- and four-year-olds.

To be clear, fillies and mares account for two-thirds of the winners since 2008, from just one quarter of the runners.

The last older colt to win the Arc was Dylan Thomas in 2007 and before that, Marienbard, a five-year-old, in 2002.

Key Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Prep Races

This year, the Derby winner, Wings Of Eagles, has been retired, and his closest pursuer at Epsom, and winner of the Prix Niel, a key prep, Cracksman, has declined his invitation. The pick of the British and Irish three-year-old colts looks to be Capri, winner of both the Irish Derby and St Leger.

Another interesting snippet concerns Aidan O'Brien. The man chasing a global record for the most Group 1 wins in a season has only won the Arc once since 2007. That barren decade was blitzkrieged with a remarkable 1-2-3 in the race last year, as the redoubtable Found led home stablemates Highland Reel and Order Of St George. Though Found has now been retired, there is a strong prospect of the other pair of podium finishers re-engaging this term. Found herself was having a second swipe at the race, having been parked in a traffic jam the year before.

Treve, the 2013 and 2014 winner, was also - obviously - a repeat winner. That may add fuel to the fires of those who like the chance of the O'Brien olders.

Key trials for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe have been the Derby - you know, the Derby, run at Epsom - as mentioned, and also the Prix Niel (no Arc winner since Rail Link in 2006, but plenty before then), and the Grand Prix de Paris (no winner since Rail Link). The Prix de Diane meanwhile advertised the claims of both Zarkava and Treve, a pair of exceptional fillies.

Arc Betting Market Pointers

Enable is expected to be sent off an odds-on chance in this year's Arc, and justifiably so on the balance of her form in comparison to that of her rivals.

Last year, Postponed, an older male giving weight all round, was unplaced as the 15/8 favourite in a race where no three-year-old managed better than eighth. In 2015, Treve, seeking an unprecedented Arc hat-trick could finish only (a very gallant) fourth at even money as a five-year-old mare. As a three- and four-year-old filly, she had prevailed though was favoured on neither occasion, with the UK bookies at any rate. That honour went to the kinky (not in a good way, remember this?) Orfevre in 2013 and to a John Gosden three-year-old filly, Taghrooda, in 2014.

Taghrooda had a similar profile to this year's jolly, Enable, up to a point: that point being the Yorkshire Oaks, which Enable won by five lengths but in which Taghrooda was unmasked at odds of one-to-five. Ouch.

In 2012, Camelot carried the most money, and was defeated at 2/1 industry SP. Sarafina was sunk as market leader in 2011, and Behkabad likewise in 2010. Thus, we have to go all the way back to 2009 and the peerless Sea The Stars for the last winning favourite, at industry SP at least. STS was sent off a 4/6 chance, similar odds to those I expect for Enable this term. And, as this video shows, I was lucky enough to be there to witness it. Great days...

Using betting patterns as a 'trend' is always a dangerous game, but it is fair to say that the race is usually deeper than the market credits it for. Against that, the strongest two favourites since 2008 - Zarkava and Sea The Stars - both won. With average winning odds in the last six years of 13/1 there is at least hope for those not on Enable at fancy prices.

**

2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Form Preview

Enable, trained by John Gosden, has been unbeaten in five since stepped up to the Arc distance of a mile and a half, a sequence which includes four Group 1's in a row. The aggregate winning distance in those races has been 20 lengths, each being won by five lengths, give or take a half. She's won on the road, in the Irish Oaks; and she's beaten the boys, in the King George; and she's beaten her elders, in both the King George and the Yorkshire Oaks.

She is an exceptional filly, and the best middle distance turf horse of her age group. So it seems hardly fair on the rest that she'll receive weight from the entire field unless Winter lines up here rather than in the Prix de l'Opera.

The going is currently soft but, with a dry week forecast, my best guess will be that the track will ride just on the easy side of good: perfect conditions for Enable. In truth, it is very hard to find chinks in her armour. Collateral form lines give her lengths to spare over her field; the clock says she's superior; and, she actually gets weight from her rivals when she'd be giving it in a handicap.

The track should be fine: it's right-handed with a relatively short run in, similar to Ascot, where she put five lengths into her field from the top of the straight.

She still has the game of Russian roulette that is the draw, assuming a big field show up, with which to contend. But even there, last year's Ballydoyle clean sweep emerged from 12, 11 and 16 respectively. Chantilly ain't no Longchamp in that regard. In any case, with twenty still engaged, and Aidan O'Brien unlikely to run more than four of his seven, it shouldn't be an enormous field.

No, a car park draw for Gosden's filly would make it mildly more interesting, but it probably won't change the result.

Scampering around for value in this year's Arc is a difficult game. Second choice after Cracksman's defection was confirmed is Sir Michael Stoute's Ulysses. This impeccably-bred four-year-old (by Galileo out of Oaks winner, Light Shift) has matured into a genuine Group 1 horse, something which cannot comfortably be said for most of the likely field on Sunday.

But he was on vapours at the end of the King George and, in spite of his stout pedigree, he looks a short runner to me at the Arc distance (form at 1m4f: 0142; form at shorter: 62121311). He's far more likely to get away with the trip in a race like the Breeders' Cup Turf, which is often falsely run. That's unlikely to happen with Ballydoyle peppering the Arc pot with pacemakers and Leger winners.

Pick of the home defence could be Brametot. He was as short as 6/1 before that lamentable prep effort in a Deauville Group 2. He's by an unfashionable stallion, Rajsaman, who never raced beyond a mile and a quarter; and Brametot himself has yet to go beyond the ten and a half furlongs he covered when winning the Prix du Jockey Club.

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A back injury was cited for the poor last day effort and Jean-Claude Rouget's colt is reportedly working well ahead of his Arc tilt. It's possible he'll shorten further on the PMU, but he has enough to prove at a current top quote of 12/1.

It is perhaps a measure of the shallow nature of the race that Order Of St George is co-third favourite. The five-year-old, who will give ten pounds to Enable, has yet to race over shorter than 1m6f in six starts since that game effort in last year's Arc. He's been beaten in three of them, odds on each time.

On the plus side, he went into last year's Arc with a similar long-distance prep profile. Despite a wide draw, expertly mitigated by Frankie Dettori, and a little trouble in the straight, he was ultimately outpaced by Found and Highland Reel.

The latter re-opposes, tripping the light fantastic as he does at seemingly every top table tango. He's a six-time Group 1 winner, never in Ireland oddly, and has triumphed in two of his last three starts, both at G1 level. The ground is the key to him: were it to dry out to good, he'd have a solid place chance; on softer than that, not so much. Let's contextualise that with some numbers.

G1 form on good or quicker: 513141221211

G1 form on softer than good: 62582774

It might dry out enough for him, and he comes here fresh ahead of an autumn globe-trotting tilt at the Breeders' Cup, Hong Kong Vase and then perhaps Dubai. Bizarrely, this horse has his knockers. He's an absolute superstar who has deposited over six million - count them, six million - quids in the bank for his cash-strapped owners.

Capri is more compelling than many. He was the default winner of the Irish Derby after Wings Of Eagles' injury, and was good enough to beat Cracksman that day, the latter having been second favourite before absenting from the Chantilly field. Capri has since won the St Leger, meaning he comes here off the back of two Classic wins. If Team Ballydoyle decide to run him, and he's over his Doncaster exertions, his form puts him in the frame.

Finding a dark horse for the Arc - a dArc horse, perhaps - is tricky. The key probably lies in under-rated form lines, and that normally means in the German form book. There are two in the mix to fly the flag(ship uber alles), Dschingis Secret and Iquitos. The former sprung to prominence when winning the Prix Foy, a lesser prep for older horses on Niel / Vermeilles day.

He's been quietly progressive this season, taking down the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin in the middle of a current unbeaten run of three. There he beat Hawkbill, who is a G1 place player on his day. But that's not Arc-winning form and odds of 14/1 are not tempting.

How about a 66/1 poke then? I don't even know if Iquitos - hopefully not pronounced "I quit 'oss" - is a certain starter, but in a race which looks open 'underneath', he is a dual Group 1 winner. That includes the Grosser Preis von Baden, a race which both Marienbard and Danedream won prior to scoring in the Arc itself.

Iquitos is five now, and was only second in the GPvB this year - having won it last year. But his run style leaves him a hostage to fortune in small fields: specifically he's a hold up horse who couldn't reel in the easy leader, Guignol, in his bid to double up at Baden Baden the last day. Prior to that he'd quickened smartly over a mile and a quarter in a bigger field where they went a beat faster, and comfortably saw off the Godolphin colt, Best Solution.

That form is not good enough to beat Enable - which horse in this field does have form good enough to beat Enable? - but if they go hard he'll be one of the finishers. The price makes the pennies play.

Another at a big price worth a second glance is Idaho. A full brother to Highland Reel, he was only just behind Ulysses when five lengths behind Enable in the King George at Ascot. The point here is that, if you like the chance of Ulysses at 6/1, why wouldn't you be attracted to the (eight times the) price of the horse that finished upsides that one and looks the more likely stayer?

Sure, Idaho has been bashed up in America since. But he was bashed up in America - OK, Canada - on his only other transatlantic trip. Although he won on Ascot's good to firm, he may not enjoy the officially firm Stateside sod. Either way, that race was not run to suit: he sweated up badly, and failed to get the lead he wanted throughout. On his two previous starts he won the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, and then ran that decent third in the King George behind the first two in the betting here. Whichever way you cut that, it does not make him a 50/1 shot.

*

2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Tips

I think ENABLE will win. There, I've said it. She has the best form in the race, she gets all the allowances, she has her optimal trip and probably ground, and she is trained and ridden by horsemen in the top two in their peer groups in Europe. She's not a sexy price but she is the class of this field.

I've been blethering on about her chance since her Oaks romp in early June, and I have backed her to win a few quid at 14's.

It's fair to say I've also backed a couple of others - Terrakova and Shutter Speed - who don't run. But they were double-carpet fliers and very little harm done. Moreover, I backed both the now retired Almanzor and Brametot at 20's each (10's coupled, the latter still 12's - great value!). So I'm not really minded to go in again.

But this isn't about me, it's about you if you've not yet wagered in the race. Capri is my pick of the next wave in the betting, at 16/1 (14/1 NRNB may be a better option). An improving dual Classic winner, he looks a little under-rated at this stage.

At big odds, for small money, Idaho is the wrong price plain and simple. If Ulysses is a genuine 6/1 shot for this, Idaho simply cannot be 50/1. I'd have the former longer and the latter shorter. 50/1 e/w might give you some fun in the run.

Arc winner: Enable

Each way against the favourite: Capri 14/1 NRNB Paddy

Big priced each way hail mary: Idaho 50/1 NRNB BetVictor/Betfair Sports (and perhaps Iquitos 66/1 NRNB Skybet)

Monday Musings: Trainers Old, Trainers New

The snag with writing anything with the following weekend in mind is that entries for most races are not revealed until after midday on Monday, writes Tony Stafford. This particular week, with Newmarket and Chantilly on Saturday and Arc Day in France on Sunday, the problem is particularly acute.

The decision whether or not to travel over to Chantilly on Sunday, with no obvious chance of scrounging a ride on a plane, was made for me when two potential colleagues on the early train from the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal balked at the ungodly hour. I’m used to it, indeed I’m writing this at just such an hour.

Instead I’ll make do with ITV on Sunday for as long as it lasts, with the knowledge that it will be the first time I’ve watched the show since its arrival on the scene earlier this year. Until now I’ve been content with Racing UK and now I’ve got it on my phone – “Stafford lurches into 21st Century, exclusive”, Ed – it’s even more my Channel of Choice.

In a way it’s a relief, as I’ll be travelling to Beverley tomorrow, dropping down to Goodwood on Wednesday, thence to Newmarket Thursday, and depending on how the energy levels are being maintained, off up to Newcastle on Friday, all on Raymond Tooth business. Tarnhelm tomorrow is our best chance.

I’ve never bothered with the Saturday of Arc weekend and now Cambridgeshire Day is bolstered with three big two-year-old races, the Cheveley Park and Juddmonte Middle Park, both Group 1 over six furlongs, and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge over a mile, I wouldn’t dream of passing it by for the single Group 1 (Cadran, 20f) and quartet of Group 2 races that Chantilly for the second year is minding while Longchamp smartens itself up.

Sunday is different though, and I’d detected a train (with availability) that would have got us to Calais at 7.55 a.m. French time, so comfortably on schedule for an 11 a.m. arrival at the track, situated conveniently for road users 20 or so miles to the north of Paris. Return crossings were fully booked on Sunday night, but the one I did find (1.18 a.m. next Monday) would have allowed a few hours’ luxurious dining in Paris and a leisurely drive back north. The return fare for that package on Eurotunnel would have been £53 for the three of us. Wonder how they were going to get there, but I’m sure it will have cost them many times that.

Sunday’s card has six Group One races but all eyes with be on the Arc and Enable’s attempt to finish her stellar season with another procession. For a while earlier last week, Winter was being suggested as a possible late entry into the argument, but I hope Aidan O’Brien and the boys will be content with tackling the fillies and mares in the Prix de l’Opera. The temptation to find a filly to challenge Enable for one last time must be almost overwhelming, but there’s nothing wrong with adding the Opera to an escutcheon that already boasts the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and the Nassau.

I would have liked to advance possible winners of the many other Group races that will decorate our TV screens (and my phone!) this weekend and beyond, but instead I’m going to put forward two young trainers who could have a big say in the destination of the Betfred Cambridgeshire. As Fred Done might well be saying: “Enjoy us - and it - while you can”.

With the backdrop of Betfred’s imminent withdrawal from pretty much all its sponsorship commitments (Ascot and his own track Chelmsford City apart) loads of race names are about to change. Luckily the Cambridgeshire part of this great handicap’s title has never succumbed to the wishes of many sponsors over the years to “absorb” heritage titles within the commercial name.

This year David Menuisier and Henry Spiller are two emerging handlers with decent chances of winning the race. Menuisier, a Frenchman whose accent is not too far removed from the Rene of ‘Allo ‘Allo vintage, overcame a debilitating viral problem in his stable – he is housed at the Harwoods’ Pulborough estate in Sussex – to make a decent show from mid- to late-summer on.

His Thundering Blue romped to a three-timer at Epsom (off 76), Newmarket’s July Course (83) and Sandown (87) with such good effect that it enticed Tony Hind to engage Ryan Moore for the mount. This much-improved son of Exchange Rate will need quite a few to come out to get a run, and Menuisier was adamant when I spoke to him in the paddock as the St Leger runners were pre-parading, that he would not be running in the Silver Cambridgeshire on Friday if he gets the Saturday guillotine.

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Spiller and his five-year-old entire Leader Writer need only one horse to defect to make the cut, and Hind has again been on the ball, with Fran Berry lined up to continue the winning association going on from Ascot a couple of weeks back when Leader Writer won for the first time in the UK.

Decent in France where he honourably contested any number of Group 3 and Listed races, Leader Writer followed an excellent third in a Shergar Cup race, second time out for Spiller with a fluent success back at Ascot. The 4lb extra he earned not only should not equate to the measure of his win (the handicapper has upped him 6lb) but virtually ensures his place in the line-up.

Spiller is the son of Charlie, a long-term Maktoum employee who specialises in pedigree analysis and matings planning, and Henry got the benefit of that connection by learning his trade all around the world with some of the top trainers. Some might say that ending up in the stables occupied for many years by the utterly-shrewd Willie Musson might seem an odd choice, but there he is (with Willie watching on)  and a Cambridgeshire win would be a great boost. Leader Writer is my pick from Thundering Blue.

Last year, Spiller’s team was housed in one of the twin barns at Saffron House stables on the Hamilton Road in Newmarket. Alongside was another young man in a hurry. George Scott started and remains there for now, but on Saturday at Newbury he enjoyed his first Group race success with James Garfield, owned by new father-in-law, Bill Gredley.

With a move to a Gredley-owned renovated yard in the offing, this was a timely nudge to the new old man and there can be little doubt that young George is destined for great things, not least with James Garfield, a son of Exceed and Excel who always looked the winner of the Mill Reef Stakes.

The same afternoon, hot but sadly deceased stallion Scat Daddy recorded his 13th winner of 2017 in the UK. The sire of four Royal Ascot winners - Lady Aurelia, Caravaggio, Con Te Partiro and Sioux Nation - Scat Daddy has won races with ten different horses in this country this year, but only one has recorded more than a single victory.

Step forward Mr Sundowner, the Pride of Muggleswick. Shrewdly entered in a recent qualifying handicap at the track for Saturday’s Catterick 12 Furlong Series Final, thanks to the urgent ministrations of Stella Storey, assistant to trainer Wilf, Mr Sundowner overcame being 9lb wrong in the weights and carrying 1lb overweight to win at 16-1 under Sammy Jo Bell.

Travelling like a dream throughout, Sammy calmly brought him alongside hot favourite Je Suis Charlie and popped him in front close home. Regular readers will know Wilf has been inching towards his best Flat prizemoney tally in a four-decade career. The 12k winner’s prize put him a couple of grand past the four £50,000 plus yields in the years before the Millennium and his winner score of 11 easily eclipses his previous best of eight and with far fewer horses. What a year and what an operation!

 

 

Stat of the Day, 25th September 2017

Saturday's Result :

8.40 Wolverhampton : Hussar Ballad @ 9/4 BOG 4th at 3/1 : Started slowly, pulled hard towards rear, headway over 1f out, kept on well towards finish, not reach 1st 2, paying price for a slow start beaten by just over a length...

Monday's pick goes in the...

4.45 Leicester :

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?

Royal Melody @ 5/1 BOG

Why?

Heather Main's 3 yr old filly was a winner two starts ago before finishing as a runner-up last time out over this trip 32 days ago, and becomes of immediate interest, because...

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...2012-17 / Flat handicaps / 5f to 1m7f / 3-5 yr olds / females / 2nd, 3rd or 4th LTO 21-60 days ago / won 2 starts ago = 142/761 (18.7% SR) for 285.3pts (+37.5% ROI), including...

  • over 5 to 9.5 furlongs : 95/450 (21.1%) for 242.9pts (+54%)
  • on soft ground : 15/86 (17.4%) for 58.6pts (+68.1%)
  • and over 5 to 9.5 furlongs on soft ground : 10/50 (20%) for 17.3pts (+34.6%)

Plus Heather Main + Flat handicaps + last two years = 8/52 (15.4% SR) for 58pts (+11.6% ROI), from which...

  • 3 yr olds are 5/25 (20%) for 15.65pts (+62.6%)
  • over 7.5 to 10 furlongs : 6/22 (27.3%) for 75.2pts (+341.9%)
  • at Class 5 : 4/17 (23.5%) for 16pts (+94.1%)
  • and on soft ground : 4/8 (50%) for 31.8pts (+398%)

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Royal Melody @ 5/1 BOG, which was widely available at 6.35pm on Sunday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.45 Leicester

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, 18th to 23rd September 2017

Not the best of weeks for us, I'm afraid, 5 losers and a non-runner meant we gave 5pts back to the layers, but September's figures remain decent enough and are very close to parity with what we've achieved historically.

That said, 2017 continues to bat well above the average ROI, so we should still be mindful of further corrections towards the norm.

Selections & Results : 18/09/17 to 23/09/17

18/09 : Addrastos @ 7/2 BOG 3rd at 7/2
19/09 : Placebo Effect @ 9/2 non-BOG 3rd at 7/2
20/09 : D'Bai @ 3/1 BOG 6th at 7/4
21/09 : Bollin Ted @ 3/1 BOG 5th at 11/4
22/09 : Heavens Rock @ 7/2 BOG non-runner
23/09 : Hussar Ballad @ 9/4 BOG 4th at 3/1

18/09/17 to 23/09/17 :
0 winning bets from 5 = 0.00% SR
P/L: -5.00pts

September 2017:
5 winners from 18 = 27.78% SR
P/L: +4.60pts
ROI = +25.56%

2017 so far:
64 winners from 216= 29.63% SR
P/L: +91.94pts
ROI = +42.56%

Overall:
504 winners from 1807 = 27.89% S.R
P/L: +466.66pts
ROI: +25.83%

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

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

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

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

Click here for more details.

The Value of Scarcity in Race Reading

Scarcity. An insufficiency or shortness of supply.

It's what makes stuff valuable: gold, bitcoin (depending on who you listen to), etc.

But it can also be manufactured to trick people into making bad investment decisions: fool's gold, bitcoin (depending on who you listen to), etc.

Returning to matters closer to home, how does it manifest in racing, and how can we use it to our advantage?

Scarcity in racing form terms equates to a trait or performance metric consistent in contenders but less prevalent in the race runner population as a whole. Put another way, the stuff which separates the winners from the also rans.

 

When trends are your friends

The most obvious use of this sort of scarcity metric is in big race trends. Most 'big races', be they major big field handicaps or top class Group races, have a scarcity about them as a matter of course: after all, there are only so many heritage handicaps, and the Pattern is only so big (though expanding inexplicably from year to year).

To compete in such a race a horse must either be within x pounds of the top-rated runner in the field (Class 2 handicaps), or possess either proven or implied class (Group races). Such animals are scarce and generally self-select - if a horse is good enough for a certain race, it will generally run in said race - but that doesn't help us punters.

We need a way to whittle the field once it is known, i.e. after the self-selection process. Trends are a popular means of doing this and, despite being bashed somewhat by employers of other methods, they can be a fine means of shortlisting.

The problem comes when data is misused. For example, knowing that nine of the last ten winners were chestnut in colour doesn't help if a) 95% of runners were that colour, and b) there is no logic to such an inference anyway.

However, knowing that nine of the last ten winners had been rested between 30 and 75 days, where only 65% of the runners matched that criterion is likely material. Better yet if such horses made the frame 78% of the time, or beat 60% of rivals - in other words, if they outperform bigger samples than just 'winners'.

We might deduce that horses entering such a race fresh are more likely to give their running than those who raced more recently or were rested too long.

With a trend like that, there is a logical scarcity. Some people like to use bigger populations of horses from which to infer meaning, for example using handicap chases over three and quarter miles or more as a starting point for Grand National trends analysis. I can see the general utility in this, but don't agree that it's a good approach for a handicap as unique in terms of distance, field size, number of obstacles and class as the National.

Another danger with trends - aside from 'unearthing' flawed patterns - is in throwing the winning baby out with the also ran bathwater. Again, this is a by-product of lazy rigidity. It can still happen of course, just as the ratings junkie can overlook the big-priced fourth top figure in favour of something with a sexier profile and a commensurately shorter price, or the form book guru can misinterpret the strength of a key formline.

As punters we have decisions to make. The vast majority of winning punters, and most losing ones as well, make many more poor - or at least ultimately incorrect - decisions than they back winners. Such is the nature of the game. But we're not in it for winners, are we? We're in it for profit. And the craic, natch.

Getting back to lazy rigidity and trends, if we unearth four or five solid looking angles which each filter out 15% or 25% of runners on a given characteristic, we can expect to be left with a short shortlist. Often zero, in fact. But the game is not to chisel away at our stone block until we have no sculpture, only chippings; rather, it is to produce the outline of a smart bet before digging into a bit of form or overlaying ratings or using some other method to cross-refer, sanity check and refine our early work.

There's no sense so uncommon as common sense, and it is that which we must apply to both the trends discovery phase and the shortlisting phase. Sometimes you'll be left with a long 'shortlist'. So what? That means you either need to take a punt at a price after further investigation, or pass the race. That, passing the race, is allowed, by the way 😉

 

Sensible everyday trends

There are plenty of schools of thought about what constitutes a solid basis for a 'trend'. I've intimated mine in reference to the National above and, for me, it's the bridge to bread and butter racing too.

The first thing I look for is what might be the most extreme element of a race. With the Nash, it's any or all of the distance, field size, number of fences and class/weight carried. I have to concede to filing that race under 'national spectacle' rather than 'punting vehicle' these days, however, and perhaps that is how it should be (except for the mug misconceptions visited on everyday horseracing as a consequence of that solitary exposure to the sport in most people's living rooms).

In more mundane - ostensibly at least: I'd rather back the winner of a Wednesday afternoon handicap than a faller at the first in the National! - events, there remain plenty of opportunities to spot material scarcity.

 

The winner of a Wednesday afternoon handicap...

Take this race from Beverley yesterday, for example, which conveniently enough popped up just as I was having a break and wanting a tiny interest dabble to recharge the flagging fingertips before round seven of my day's keyboard pugilism.

I checked the computer clock. It was 3.59pm. I had literally one minute to review the race, make a decision, and wager accordingly. Obviously stakes were kept to a minimum, but in that minute I could see it was a Class 5 five furlong soft ground handicap at Beverley. That immediately set me thinking about low draws and soft ground form.

Those, for me, are the two most important factors under such conditions. On quicker ground I'd replace going form with a speed rating over the minimum trip, but I'd still want a low draw.

Two horses, One Boy and Flash City, had plenty of soft ground placed form - at least 60% each on at least six soft ground runs - and they were drawn two and three of twelve. The clock had still not clicked over to 4.00pm by the time I'd staked a massive four quid on each. A moment later they were off. I was entertained through my tea break by the sight of the pair of them fighting out the finish.

They returned 16/1 and 16/1. My eight pound coins manifested into four twenty pounds notes, as near as damn it after the exchange had taxed it, which was all right for about 3o seconds analysis. I might have bet more if I'd taken longer to cogitate, but probably not: the wager was merely to revive the sagging synapses. [Click the images below to see my 20 second thought process visualised by Gold]

 

 

What's the point?

What's the point here? The point is this: look for those elements in a race which are both material and scarce.

In this case, there was a fixed scarcity, low draws, and a variable scarcity, soft ground lovers. There will always be low drawn horses in double-digit Beverley sprints and, all other things being equal, they will generally have an advantage up the hill and around that deceptively angular dogleg.

However, on another occasion, the ground may not be testing, or there may be an abundance of low drawn soft ground lovers, or the soft ground lovers may be drawn away from the low draws. None of those situations would have been as attractive as this setup. I'd have still wasted eight quid on the race, but I'd have been venturing far deeper into guesswork territory.

This is the way my brain looks at a race now. It is second nature, which is how I can assimilate the required intel in, literally, a few seconds. I also have tools which pinpoint what I'm looking for. So do you!

 

Example Scarcity Scenarios

Of course, it takes time to build up a picture of the requirements of a given scenario. So, in case you need a leg up, here are a few things I'm always on the lookout for. In each case, it is important to think about what is the least common, yet relevant, factor in the race.

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Class 4 handicap hurdle on heavy ground: There are lots of handicap hurdles, and lots of Class 4 handicap hurdles. But there are not so many heavy ground races. The further away from middling going a track is, the more interested in proven ability to handle such terrain I am. Heavy and firm are polar opposite turf states and they tend to appeal to specialists. Better still, very often such horses will look moderate under most other conditions. Their unsexy form figures will add currency to their trading price, in the early go at least.

Instant Expert gives me pretty much all I need to know for a route in to such races.

Class 2 3m4f chase: Stamina and class are needed, but mostly stamina. I'd rather be with a Class 3 animal I know stays three and a half miles than a Class 2 beast stepping up from three miles flat, especially if the track is testing. The first thing I'm interested in is which horses have won beyond 3m2f and, ideally, between 3m4f and 3m6f.

Again, Instant Expert is my friend.

Class 2 3m4f chase, five runners: In small fields over longer distances, I'm on the lookout for a horse which might get a soft lead. A habitual front runner against hold up horses may steal four or five lengths with a quarter mile to go. If the leader is not outclassed, it will take a rare smart stayer to make up that sort of ground late in that sort of race. Almost all staying chasers are grinders; granting an easy lead to a horse in a staying chase and expecting to pass it late on would not be a good proposal for your mortgage advisor.

A two second glance at the pace map will reveal how things are projected to play out; check Instant Expert and the ratings to ensure the horse has the class and the contextual ability to contend.

Seven furlong heritage handicap, 22 runners: Big field, specialist trip. In big fields, I want to know if there's a track bias or a pace bias, or both (and are they aligned). I then want a horse drawn on what I believe to be the correct part of the track, that is proven in big fields; and I want them to have seven furlong form. If the going is soft or slower, or good to firm, I want evidence of effectiveness on that, too.

Draw tab first here, sorted by place for the bigger sample size that offers; then pace tab sorted by draw position to map out where the field looks likely to race; then Instant Expert (place view) Field Size column to see which horses have run into the frame consistently in big fields - and fit on other form-based credentials.

And so on.

 

Don't force it, and be careful...

It's important to remember that there isn't always an exploitable 'scarcity' element to a race. Indeed, there generally won't be such an angle. But on any given day they'll be lurking like truffles in the mud waiting to be snouted out by keen punters.

If you can't find anything material and scarce about the runners in the context of the race, then pass and move on. Or use a different approach to the puzzle.

Also note that this approach works best - perhaps exclusively - when all runners have exposed levels of form. That is, when all runners have had at least a couple of attempts at most of today's race factors.

Caution is advised when looking at horses doing things for the first or second time, especially if their human taskmasters have 'previous' in a given context. Horses can, and very often do, step forward markedly on their first or second run in a handicap; it is rather less common to see a horse improve ten pounds on its twelfth or fifteenth start in weight-for-ability races.

 

Summary

This post has attempted to offer a morsel of food for thought regarding an approach to the search for value in a horse race. We're looking for horses whose overall recent profile may not be terribly compelling but which are noteworthy against a material race factor where many/most rivals are not.

Demand a price about a horse in this context. If the market has already factored in significant improvement, move on.

Work out what your key differentiators - material elements - are; they're probably different from mine.

Have fun with it. This is just another of the myriad routes into picking a horse in a race. It can be done in very short order, which is part of the attraction for a busy person like me and, most likely, you. As well as the nags flagged at Beverley above, I used the same approach to snaffle those recent big-race Saturday winners (25/1 Mattmu, 14/1 Nakeeta) as well as last week's 8/1 runner up, Vibrant Chords. And each time I invested no more than five minutes into the process.

Now, sure, I fired two darts at those targets; and sure, over another three week period they all run rank. That's not the point at all. The point is the process - as Tony Keenan mentioned earlier this week in this excellent post, "Trust the process".

Don't expect instant success; don't use just one approach: different types of puzzle demand different tools from the box. Do enjoy mucking about with it. Don't bet the farm. Do look for some meat on the odds bone.

Hone your handicapping skills, and enjoy the trip. After all, if it's not fun we may as well get a job, right?

Matt

Appendix

For whatever it's worth, some of my 'material factors' - the ones which spring to mind while penning this - are listed below. Don't take them on trust; do your own digging, but hopefully there is enough herein to help you turn the first few shovels of soil.

Course Form: Ascot, Bath, Cartmel, Cheltenham, Epsom, Fakenham, Hexham, Kelso, Stratford, Towcester, Worcester

Going: Heavy, Firm

Distance: 5.5f, 7f, 1m1f, 2m2f, 3m4f+

Field size: 6 or fewer, 16+

Class: 1, 2, 3

Draw: Numerous, check Draw tool

Front runners: Catterick, Chester, Chelmsford, Newmarket, Pontefract, Yarmouth

 

Anthony Honeyball Stable Tour: 2017/18 NH Season

The nights are drawing in, the St Leger is behind us, and thoughts are turning to the winter code of racing. With that in mind, I recently spoke to the consistently excellent Anthony Honeyball about his team for the upcoming season.

The audio is supplemented with form histories for the horses being discussed, and there is a chronology beneath - including snippets from Anthony's recent stable day - in case you are interested in specific horses.

 

 

VIDEO CHRONOLOGY

00:50 - Acey Milan

02:33 - Act Now

05:16 - Black Prince

08:00 - City Supreme

10:15 - Coeur Tantre

13:51 - Cresswell Breeze

15:45 - Don Lami

A FEW SHARES STILL AVAILABLE IN DON LAMI - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

18:00 - Drops Of Jupitor

20:09 - Duhallow Gesture

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25:38 - East Wing - Geegeez syndicate horse

28:15 - Fact Of Life

29:43 - Fountains Windfall

32:33 - G For Ginger

34:21 - Gift From God

35:50 - Hideaway Vic

37:50 - Le Coeur Net

39:22 - Lechlade Magician

42:12 - Midnight Tune

43:49 - Mozo

45:31 - Ms Parfois

47:12 - My Dance - Geegeez syndicate horse

51:00 - Nocturnal Myth

51:54 - Our Sox

53:23 - Pure Vision

56:03 - Regal Encore

58:59 - Represented

59:42 - Sam Brown

1:01:58 - Shapiro

1:03:10 - Sojourn

1:04:08 - Solstice Son

1:05:50 - Solstice Twilight

1:07:25 - Soulsaver

1:08:26 - Tacenda

1:11:25 - Urca De Lima

 

 

Four Traits of Effective Punters

Literary events in the gambling world are infrequent to say the least, writes Tony Keenan. Unless twice-yearly horses to follow annuals are your thing there’s little to get excited about in books on the subject but the launch of Harry Findlay’s autobiography ‘Gambling for Life’ earlier this month was an exception. Few who like a bet will have failed to pick up a copy and I’ve been reading with a strange mix of fascination and fear at the tales of Findlay’s life.

Some of the events described might draw out the swash-buckling punter in us all but in truth most of it is far removed from the world of the typical gambler. It’s much more about Findlay’s extraordinary character than a how-to manual (thank god for that!) but as is the case when I read any such material it sets me reflecting about gambling in general. What are the things that make gamblers tick? Are there traits that are common across those who succeed in the punting world? Here is my best guess about the four aspects of character that might be most important though excuse me if the paragraph titles sound like they come from an ill thought-out self-help book.

 

  1. Consistency

‘Trust the process’ is a phrase beloved in American sport and has been most recently used by the Philadelphia 76ers executive as their basketball team was mired in bad results for seasons as they accumulated draft picks to rebuild the side. The process became such a tagline that one of their stars Joel Embiid took it on as a nickname but it is ultimately an approach that worked as the 76ers are now on an upward curve for the first time in years.

Punters would do well to nurture a similar attitude and concentrate on process rather than results. This is easier said than done, especially when on a losing run, but as someone who writes a weekly tipping column on a busy website it is one of the only ways to get back on an upward curve. If you have a method that works over time, you need to apply it consistently regardless of short-term outcomes. Ironically, betting profits tend not to come in dribs and drabs but in large globules and their spaced-out nature can be challenging to deal with.

But sticking to consistent methods of form study, staking, time taken studying a race meeting and such like is important with ‘rinse and repeat’ the phrase to remember. Real life can obviously impinge on this if there are bins to be put out or a crying baby to be soothed or simply real work to be done [God forbid! – Ed.] but the punter that can keep things pretty level tends to prove more effective than those that cannot.

 

  1. Creativity

Imagination would hardly be high on the list of things one might think as important for a punter but I defer to the great Andy Beyer in his book ‘Beyer on Speed’ about the topic of creativity: ‘handicapping is an art, a test of man’s creative intelligence, not merely a puzzle to be solved by applying the right formula.’ In recent years I have come to believe that betting is at least as much art as science and that feel and intuition are vital tools to getting an edge; the unfortunate thing for novice punters is that these things only come with time.

We live in the big data age where seemingly every aspect of life can be boiled down into a number or a chart and betting is no different. High-end punters are using figures to get ahead as we have seen in articles about Tony Bloom and his quants crunching data at Starlizard. One cannot but admire their rigour and many good bets will come from such a grind but against that a more subjective approach will always provide an edge for the very fact that it is personal to each punter.

Maybe you have seen something in a replay that has been missed by everyone else, a hood that was removed half a beat too late or a subtle bit of shuffling back that has not been commented on anywhere. Perhaps you’ve read an insightful trainer comment on a low-key website that has provided a new angle into a horse. Sometimes a horse or a bet has all the figures and the model may say it will win but there is something more intangible that plays against it winning; when you have the imagination to spot this, you are on to something.

 

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  1. Openness to Change

It is a truth universally acknowledged in betting that edges dissipate and eventually disappear whether it is through growing bookmaker awareness or sheer weight of market support. Punters need to be on the look out for the next edge and likely guard it closely to prolong its longevity. I cannot understand why some are dismissive about newer approaches to racing like sectional times when as a gambler this is exactly the type of angle you want to be developing; perhaps it will all turn out to be a nonsense (though I doubt it) and clearly no method of tackling a race is going to work in every case but doesn’t it at least make sense to explore the possibilities?

This brings us on to the question of what might be the next big edge in racing analysis and in truth it is likely being practiced quietly by a few sharp operators at this very time. I wonder if it might be something to do ground loss and gains around turns and the impact that it has on races. The use of Trakus for racing in Dubai has revealed the importance of how far a horse travelled in a race and the effect it had in the finish but we in Ireland and Britain find this type of thing harder to grasp as it is so difficult to quantify.

Another thing at play might be that the lost ground angle works against our natural thinking biases. I suspect the eye is drawn to the horse tanking along the rail that is struggling to get a run rather than the one that has been trapped out wide conceding ground all the way; at the very least we have been conditioned to view the former in a more positive light than the latter by the racing media. But that horse has not only drawn all the attention and thus will be a shorter price than it might merit next time but it has also had the benefit of going the shortest way and having the all-important cover that can be key to getting a horse to settle.

 

  1. Ruthlessness

I’ll begin this final section with a disclaimer; I am probably nowhere near ruthless enough myself as a gambler though that is probably a good thing in life in general! But a ruthless streak can be important for gambling success as we have seen in a number of high-profile cases where punters have exploited bookmaker weakness through spotting loopholes in their risk management systems and hammering them for all they were worth.

This necessitates burning bridges with bookmakers – you might catch them out once but not a second time – but the truly ruthless punter doesn’t care about this; he has other ways of getting on. The whole getting on process is another area where we can see this ruthlessness at play. The ruthless punter may use the accounts of others for a period of time – these things always have a shelf-life – but these people are kicked to the curb when their usefulness is exhausted. Some would argue this is simply the gambling food chain, and there is probably merit in that view, but while cutting ties with bookmakers is one thing, doing the same to friends whose accounts you might have burned is quite another, especially if they are fond of a bet themselves.

Your stance on this issue might say something about your whole attitude to gambling and indeed your broader personality. Some see gambling as being all about going for the one big touch, ‘the face-spitter’ as Steve Palmer might call it, but the problem with reaching for that single epic punting moment is that it cannot be achieved without first putting in the grind to build up your skills. I’ve always been more about the grind, not least because I enjoy it; let’s face it, studying a good race meeting is more stimulating than sitting down to a night in front of ‘The X-Factor’!

Perhaps this brand of ruthlessness is born of the fact that gambling at its heart is a selfish endeavour; it is your money that you are wagering and ultimately the responsibility stops with you. My own experience tells me otherwise however. I find gambling is much more satisfying when done in concert with a few close betting partners where you can share successes; perhaps you don’t maximise profits completely but there are more important things in life. I might be alone in this but I would rather win less and enjoy the experience more.

- TK

Monday Musings: The Legends Behind The Leger

The biggest gripe about modern-day breeders is that they are so obsessed with speed that potential middle-distance sires are badly neglected in favour of young sprinting stallions, writes Tony Stafford. The perceived decline of many top staying races, including the St Leger, has long been cited as proving that point.

For many years Ladbrokes’ sponsorship bolstered the St Leger, steadfastly at the same time staving off calls for the race to be opened, like its Irish counterpart, to horses older than the Classic age of three. William Hill, now supporting the event after the Levy impasse between bookmakers and the BHA , find the race in its rudest health for many years.

Saturday’s Classic will go down in history as having been won by Capri, one of four Aiden O’Brien-trained colts, all sons of Galileo and also winner of the Irish Derby back in July. He will earn the win on his career resume while the other ten clock up defeats.

Remarkably ten is also the total number of career defeats accumulated by the six stallions with runners in the 2017 St Leger. The others were Sea The Stars, with three runners, and Dalakhani, Frankel, Dubawi and High Chaparral, with one runner each.

It doesn’t take much for memories of even the best racehorses to fade, but listing the field and its various sires, suggests that as only the truly great were represented, something out of the ordinary is indeed needed to challenge at this exalted level.

So just to remind ourselves – I needed that refresher as much as the next man – here goes. Frankel, obviously, was the greatest. By Galileo, he won all 14 career starts, including the 2,000 Guineas and the only ‘blemish’ if you dare call it that was his non-appearance in the Derby or any other mile and a half race. Any doubt he would have stayed that (or a longer) trip must have been dispersed by his seven-length romp in the 10.5 furlong Juddmonte International at York.

Frankel raced throughout his career for his breeder, Khalid Abdullah, and with only two crops on the track, is making a strong case of becoming the chief challenger to Galileo and Dubawi going forward.

Galileo, of course by Sadler’s Wells, won his first six starts, encompassing the Derby, Irish Derby and King George before succumbing to the highly-talented Fantastic Light in the Irish Champion Stakes. His only other defeat was when proving unsuited by US racing in the Breeders’ Cup on his final start.

Dubawi, the joint least-raced with Galileo among our sample, also had eight races. He lost three times when fifth in the 2,000 Guineas, third in the Derby and runner-up in the QEII. Basically a miler, he was an unbeaten Group 1 winning juvenile and collected the Jacques Le Marois as a three-year-old.

High Chaparral raced 13 times, one fewer than Frankel, and lost three times, as many as Dubawi. The defeats came, typically for a Ballydoyle inmate, first-time out at two, and then, less so, in successive Arcs de Triomphe, in the second as a four-year-old he was third behind Dalakhani. On the plus side were impressive victories in the Derby (from stablemate Hawk Wing), Irish Derby and two Breeders’ Cup Turf races.

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Dalakhani, principally regarded as a sire of stayers, won eight of his nine races for the Aga Khan, his owner-breeder. Dalakhani’s only failure came when as an odds-on chance for the Irish Derby (having won the French) he finished half a length behind the John Oxx-trained Alamshar, also an Aga Khan home-bred. His son Defoe, with four successive wins before Doncaster, was one of the few major disappointments in the race.

That leaves Sea The Stars, a son of Cape Cross, bred and raced by Christopher Tsui and still owned by that family. He is a half-brother to Galileo and was trained by John Oxx throughout a career that began with a narrow defeat as a juvenile, but soon cranked up with wins in the 2,000 Guineas, Derby, Irish Derby, Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion and the Arc, for eight out of nine in all.

Two of three representatives, Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius fought out the minor placings half a length behind the determined Capri, and were separated by a short head. They will take divergent paths, Crystal Ocean going the mile and a half route for Sir Michael Stoute and owner-breeder Sir Evelyn Rothschild. Meanwhile, Stradivarius, home-bred by Bjorn Nielsen, looks the obvious major home challenger to Order of St George for Cup honours, starting with the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on October 21. The third Sea The Stars, Raheen House, seemed not to get home after looking dangerous two furlongs out.

So here were the sons of six stallions, all winners at two mostly at Group level, although Galileo’s sole run as a juvenile, in a late October maiden, produced a 14-length victory romp. The result was an enthralling race, with the “team tactics” element there for all to see. The Anvil’s fast pace, probably in itself insignificant in that the others largely ignored him, was still effective in that the other Aidan O’Brien trio were the nearest to him until he capitulated. The race was run in a fast overall time, suggesting good ground at worst.

It still took a supreme effort by the winner and an inspired Ryan Moore, who had confided in close friends that he feared Crystal Ocean might beat his mount. These were three high-class animals which should go on to win many more races. In passing it is worth mentioning the fine effort in fourth of Rekindling, trained and ridden by Aiden’s two sons Joseph and Donnacha. Expect this colt, markedly smaller than most of Saturday’s opponents to make hay when he goes to Australia for owner Lloyd Williams. Maybe the 2018 Melbourne Cup will be on his radar?

There were winners on Saturday’s card for both Dubawi and Frankel, but the speed sires did get a look in with Zebedee and Acclamation collecting the William Hill Portland (Spring Loaded) and Park Stakes (Aclaim, does his spelling irritate you, too?). The one name which will provide a “what-might-have-been” moment for the Coolmore partners is Scat Daddy, who died late in 2015 just after his stud fee at Ashford, Kentucky, had been raised for the following season to $100,000.

Scat Daddy’s son Seahenge was the apparently lesser-fancied of two O’Brien runners behind Ryan’s mount Mendelssohn, but came through under Donnacha to win the Champagne Stakes. Seahenge had been well beaten behind the smart Expert Eye at Goodwood, but as a first-time winner was something of a rarity among O’Brien youngsters and showed it here.

Scat Daddy, a son of Johannesburg, was originally owned by Joe Scatuorchio, but Michael Tabor acquired a half-share and the colt won a number of races for them including the Grade 1 Florida Derby before a troubled, disappointing 18th of 20 on his last start in the Kentucky Derby led to his retirement.

Sire principally of Caravaggio and the smart No Nay Never, already turning heads at the yearling sales, Scat Daddy was the hottest ticket at Keeneland September when Coolmore’s J P Magnier and agent Kerri Ratcliffe were clearly intent on snapping up the best of his final crop of yearlings, several for seven figures. If the great Mr Sundowner (a good second at Catterick last week over a mile and a half) is anything to go by, Scat Daddy could even produce a Derby or indeed a St Leger winner from his final two crops.

Stat of the Day, 18th September 2017

Saturday's Result :

3.15 Chester : Dan Troop @ 7/2 BOG WON at 5/2 : Tracked leaders, closed going well 2f out, led over 1f out, ridden inside final furlong, reduced lead towards finish, won by half a length...

Monday's pick goes in the...

3.35 Worcester :

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?

Addrastos @ 7/2 BOG

Why?

I might be tempting fate here, but this 5yr old gelding never seems to run a bad race and has finished in the first three home in all of his eleven starts to date, including a two from two return since switching to these bigger obstacles.

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He won over this course and distance on his chasing debut by four lengths and then followed up 25 days ago with a 10 lengths success at Stratford.

His trainer Jamie Snowden's handicap chasers are 55/345 (15.9% SR) for 68.9pts (+20% ROI), including...

  • at Class 1 to 4 : 45/257 (17.5%) for 90.4pts (+35.2%)
  • 5/6 yr olds are 23/128 (18%) for 55.6pts (+43.4%)
  • since the start of 2016 : 18/76 (23.7%) for 54.1pts (+71.2%)
  • LTO winners are 11/47 (23.4%) for 13.4pts (+28.6%)
  • in August/September : 7/33 (21.2%) for 12.4pts (+37.5%)
  • here at Worcester : 4/22 (18.2%) for 10.4pts (+47.3%)
  • and those ridden by today's jockey Gavin Sheehan are 4/18 (22.2%) for 5pts (+27.8%)

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Addrastos @ 7/2 BOG, which was offered by at least half a dozen firms at 5.50pm on Sunday. For what it's worth, I'm on with SkyBet, but to see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 3.35 Worcester

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, 11th to 16th September 2017

Two winners on Wednesday & Saturday from 5 picks over the week plus two placers represented another decent time for SotD followers.

Another 4.5pts in the kitty, as we make our way toward the 100pt mark for the year and even better for me, my inbox is quiet again.

Selections & Results : 11/09/17 to 16/09/17

11/09 : Johnny Go @ 4/1 BOG RACE VOID
12/09 : War Glory @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 3/1
13/09 : Lahore @ 4/1 BOG WON at 7/2
14/09 : Nyaleti @ 10/3 BOG 3rd at 4/1
15/09 : Aqabah @ 10/3 BOG 3rd at 7/2
16/09 : Dan Troop @ 7/2 BOG WON at 5/2

11/09/17 to 16/09/17 :
2 winning bets from 5 = 40.00% SR
P/L: +4.50pts

September 2017:
5 winners from 13 = 38.46% SR
P/L: +9.60pts
ROI = +73.85%

2017 so far:
64 winners from 211= 30.33% SR
P/L: +96.94pts
ROI = +45.94%

Overall:
504 winners from 1802 = 27.97% S.R
P/L: +471.66pts
ROI: +26.17%

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

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

Click here for more details.

Competitive look to Doncaster Classic

The World’s oldest Classic, the St Leger, takes place at Doncaster on Saturday, and may well prove to be one of the most competitive for many a year.

As ever, Aidan O’Brien is set to send a battalion across the Irish Sea, with Irish Derby winner Capri the leading hope. With the ground likely to stay on the soft side of good, conditions look to be ideal for the Ballydoyle hopeful.

It seems likely that he will be ridden by Ryan Moore, and speaking earlier in the week, the trainer appeared hopeful of a strong performance, saying: “Capri missed his intended run in the Great Voltigeur at York, but he seems fine now and I am happy with him. His work has been good at home. He won the Beresford last year on heavy and he has plenty of form with cut in the ground so I would say that the going at Doncaster, if there is some ease in it, will not be a problem to him.”

Venice Beach was thrashed by Cracksman in the Voltigeur, but O’Brien has said that the horse would ‘come-on’ for the run. He appeared confident that the Chester Vase winner would see out the extended trip well. Nevertheless, his form looks a fair bit shy of that of his stable companion.

As the rains came earlier in the week, so did the money for Roger Varian’s Geoffrey Freer winner Defoe. He was impressive that day, travelling powerfully through the testing ground and finishing off the race strongly. With a pair of winners on the opening day of the Leger Meeting, stable confidence will be high leading into the weekend showpiece.

Andrea Atzeni has won the Donny Classic on two of the last three occasions, and sounded confident when speaking to At The Races yesterday: “He's in great form, I'm looking forward to riding him. He needs to improve, which I think he has. The ground should suit him, and we'd be very hopeful.”

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Roger Varian is convinced that conditions will favour his horse, saying: “Testing ground should suit our guy and I’ve been very happy with him since Newbury. I love how he’s come up through the ranks and he’s been very straightforward to train all year. He’s got good stamina, he’s got a great mind and he can quicken – he’s not just a galloper. We’ll find out on the day whether he is good enough, but I think that’s really the only question. Everything else ought to be in his favour.”

Sir Michael Stoute last won the race in 2008 and his Crystal Ocean is jostling for favouritism. He impressed on soft ground in the Gordon Stakes last time, yet the team believe better ground would aid his chances. Stoute's assistant James Horton said: “We were very pleased with Goodwood and we're very pleased with where he is now. He's still a big, weak, frame of a horse who we think is going to be a better horse next year. He won on soft ground at Goodwood, but stepping up against a better class of opposition, the better the ground the better for him.”

The bare form suggests Raheen House has a little to find with Crystal Ocean, yet Brian Meehan remains confident of a strong showing from the son of Sea The Stars. He looked impressive when winning the Bahrain Trophy last time at Newmarket, and the trainer said of his challenger: “He’s a very generous price. I thought he’d be shorter. He’s in great form at home, his preparation has been good and everything has gone to plan.”

Meehan added: “Raheen House doesn’t mind a bit of cut. Soft ground is fine for him but some of the others would want it better. Capri and Stradivarius stand out on form but my horse has a huge chance. Confidence is definitely high. We’ve been careful with him with this in mind. He has the pedigree for it and 12-1 is big.”

John Gosden has won three of the last 10 renewals, and looks set to fire two shots at the target. Stradivarius won the Goodwood Cup, though Gosden has voiced his concern over conditions should Town Moor get further rain. Coronet is the only filly in the race, and booked her place in this with a decent performance behind Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks. Speaking at a St Leger press event, Gosden's wife Rachel Hood said: “The plan is to run both Stradivarius and Coronet. We're not worried about the ground for her (Coronet). I think she's very ready for the race.”

Max lays on a lovely spread…

...but not the picnic type, as you'll now see in the Geegeez System Trials Roundup to 12/09/2017!

Max is the brains behind Sports Spread Betting, the first spread betting service we've reviewed here. This service trades mainly in football, cricket & horse racing and in the last fortnight has achieved a 50% strike rate (12 from 24), earning subscribers an average of 7.94pts per trade.

It's difficult/unfair to judge a spread betting service via its ROI, as the potential losses aren't realistic. Let me give an example... last night (Tuesday), Sports Spread Betting advised to "buy completed passes" at 820 in the Man Utd v Basel match. Now this means we needed 821 passes in the game to make a profit and therefore by definition the loss could be as high as 820pts. An unrealistic loss, of course as there was always going to be some passes in the game.

So, I'm happy to overlook supposed ROI for this one (and a couple of others), whilst advising you to keep a close eye on Sports Spread Betting  who have already made almost 260pts profit under review :  the full story is right here.

Using a £2 per point stake made that service our second highest money earner of the fortnight, beaten only by the high-frequency Rod's Runners , who hit 21 winners from 145 (very busy!) since my last report and this 14.5% strike rate helped them to a profit of almost £410 at an ROI of over 28%! The exact figures along with every selection can be found here in Barry's review.

And our weekly top three money makers are completed by Back & Win (Fire & Forget), another one that I'm not too bothered about compiling ROI figures for. This one is one of a couple of Stop at a Win services that we're also trialling for the first time (I warned you last time around that we were introducing something different!).

Back & Win (Fire & Forget) basically backs favourites to make a profit of 1pt, stopping as soon as a winner is landed. It would be unfair to compare this one on an ROI basis, as the maximum profit is 1pt per day, but at our nominal £10 per point stake, this one has made 10pts/£100 in 10 days, so whilst the ROI might not be the best, the strike rate is technically 100%! Phil's review explains the service in a little more details and logs every bet for you.

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Aside from these three who made just over £890 between them, four other services showed a combined profit of £207, with a further four services losing some £259. Brief details of all these products are in the "league table" below, whilst clicking the links to their respective reviews will give you the bigger picture.

... and now here is that updated "league table", ordered by overall profit this time...

System Profit Service Days Trial days Fortnightly P/L Full Review ROI
Rod's Runners £619.63 (at day 16) 16 £409.63 Click Here 37.78%
Sports Spread Betting £516.80 (at day 15) 15 £380.90 Click Here N/A
Back & Win (Fire & Forget) £100.00 (at day 10) 10 £100.00 Click Here N/A
Back Lucrative (WP) £75.83 (at day 7) 7 £75.83 Click Here 36.11%
First Class Fancies (WP) £55.50 (at day 1) 1 £55.50 Click Here 111.00%
Target Tips £50.63 (at day 7) 7 £50.63 Click Here 14.47%
Omaha Racing £128.06 (at day 44) 44 £25.10 Click Here 13.28%
Pinnacle Racing Tips -£129.55 (at day 14) 14 -£9.55 Click Here -14.89%
Sequence Lays -£66.93 (at day 11) 11 -£66.93 Click Here N/A
Flat Flyers (WP) -£70.00 (at day 3) 3 -£70.00 Click Here -100.00%
Platinum Winners -£112.61 (at day 12) 12 -£112.61 Click Here -30.44%

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

With the vast majority of these reviews still around the quarter point of the trial (or even shorter), it's clearly far too early to start making too much judgement about any of them, but it's patently obvious that both Rod's Runners and Sports Spread Betting are worth keeping a close eye on, as their very reasonable membership fees are already generating excellent profits. Sadly the same hasn't yet been the case for Platinum Winners, but after just 20% of their trial, there's still every opportunity for them to come good.

If you've any queries about any of these (or others we're not covering) services and their reviews, please don't hesitate to ask me or post a query at the bottom of the review. We're only too happy to assist. Failing that, I'll be back in a fortnight with half-time reports on many of the current batch!

Chris

Pace Maps: Predicting the Future Just Got Easier…

The whole point of betting on horses - betting on anything - is being able to accurately predict what will happen in the future. The more 'yesterday' information we have, the better able we are to forecast 'tomorrow'.

In Britain, horse racing punters were traditionally in the dark: for years, there was nothing more informative (ahem) than the little alphanumeric sextet of recent finishing positions to the left of a horse's name. 'Professionals' bought the Sporting Life and, more recently, Racing Post. This gave them a huge leg up on other newspaper readers, but was still seriously deficient in terms of projecting what might actually happen in a race.

The advent of the internet has, slowly it must be said, changed things; finally, punters are able to access a raft of insightful data which genuinely can give them the edge over the bookmakers. This edge is greatest in the early markets, where many of the horse race odds lines are algorithmically constructed: Deep Blue versus Kasparov this is not. The software creating the early markets is not exactly sophisticated, which means we don't need to be chess grandmasters to find the ricks.

Looking at past form cycles and profiles - that is, when a horse comes into form and under what conditions - is a blind spot in the algos, which focus too heavily on recent form. The starting price markets are much more efficient of course, but nobody bets SP, do they? Do they?!!

One of the last major vestiges of unpublished form, in Britain and Ireland at least, is pace. Pace can mean different things: it can be precise, by virtue of sectional times; or it can be more general, defining a horse's run style. In most of the established racing betting nations - Hong Kong, Japan, US - sectional times are ubiquitous. Commentators are able to quantify the speed of the horses in-running by a split time stopwatch in the corner of the screen.

Here, we have no such aides - the usual "who's going to pay for it?" arguments - but what we do have, and more so than in many of the aforementioned racing jurisdictions, are detailed in-running comments. These allow a bettor to work through past performances and develop a picture in the mind's eye of each horse's run style. It's laborious, for sure, and I know for a fact that most jockeys riding in Britain gather their understanding of how the races they're riding in will unfurl in this manner. Until now...

Geegeez Gold has had pace information, in the form of a data table, for quite some time. And, yesterday, we moved things up a notch by converting the numbers into a picture: a pace map. Pictures are much easier for us humans to understand than words and numbers. Consequently, we can get the gist of something - like, for example, how a race will be run - in just a second or two when the data is presented in pictorial format.

So, welcome to Geegeez Gold's new Pace Graphic view. It's not Deep Blue, and nor was it imagined by the genius of Kasparov (it was me, actually), but it does instantly visualise how a race might be run based on the last four UK/Ire runs of the horses in it. And that means its users have a significant edge on other punters, either in time or awareness terms or, in most cases, both.

It lives in the existing PACE tab, and looks like this:

In this race, Whos De Baby looked like he'd get a clear lead. That's exactly what happened, allowing him to finish 2nd at 12/1

In this race, Whos De Baby looked like he'd get a clear lead. That's exactly what happened, allowing him to finish 2nd at 12/1

 

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In this example from yesterday, Whos De Baby was predicted to be 'Probable Lone Speed', meaning he was expected to be able to set his own pace and try to make all. He very nearly did, finishing a good second at odds of 12/1.

Below is a video where I show you the what and how of the new Pace Graphic. If you're familiar with pace and how to use it in horseracing there may be little new therein. But if you're still trying to get to grips with the importance of pace, and which scenarios to look out for, you really should watch it.

 

 

There is more information in the User Guide, which can be downloaded from your My Geegeez page here; and there is an 'introduction to pace' video here.

Geegeez Gold continues to be committed to provided the best information for punters in the most consumable, readily understandable format, so you know more than your competition (other punters, not bookmakers) in less time.

If you're not yet a Gold subscriber, you can join us here. That page includes a link where readers who have never tried Gold before can get their first 30 days for just a pound. Thereafter, Gold is £30 per month. If you're serious about getting ahead with your horse racing betting, I don't know how else you can have this sort of a chance for less than a pound a day. Granted, I am a tiny bit biased... 😉

Good luck, and thanks for reading/watching.
Matt

Placepot Pointers – Tuesday 12th September

LEICESTER – SEPTEMBER 12

 

Last year’s corresponding toteplacepot dividend:

2016: £62.20 (7 favourites – 3 winners – 3 placed – 1 unplaced)

 

Tuesday's Placepot permutation at Leicester: 

Leg 1 (2.25): 1 (Shepherd Market) & 2 (Aim Of Artemis)

Leg 2 (2.55): 2 (Beautiful Memory) & 10 (Verve)

Leg 3 (3.25): 6 (Little Poem), 4 (Felisa) & 8 (Still Got It)

Leg 4 (3.55): 7 (Near Kettering), 6 (Harebell) & 8 (Maori Bob)

Leg 5 (4.25): 7 (Graphite Storm), 6 (Qeyaadah) & 2 (Taurean Star)

Leg 6 (4.55): 5 (Morning Wonder) & 1 (Lynwood Gold)

Suggested stake: 216 bets to 10p stakes

 

Overview for Tuesday - please scroll down to the bottom of the page

 

2.25: The general 9/2 quote for SHEPHERD MARKET looks dangerously close to becoming a ‘bet to nothing’ from an each way perspective, especially with the Clive Cox yard in such ripping form.  Clive’s January foal is ‘only’ asked to give her rivals three pounds despite an emphatic Chepstow victory at the second time of asking.  I appreciate that Chepstow form rarely fails to impress further down the line but as the first of Clive’s three raiders on the card, I will be investing if 5/1 appears on the horizon.  AIM OF ARTEMIS is the obvious danger but I have long since learned that taking 5/1 about a juvenile winner over an 11/8  favourite with its maiden tag still intact is the right way to go – win, lose or draw (each way).

Favourite factor: This contest (having a novice prefix attached) is a new race on the card.

 

2.55: There is always a danger of homing in too heavily on unraced juveniles from a Placepot perspective because let’s face it, jockeys are seldom hard on newcomers once their chance of winning is gone, no matter what the media (and trainers) might tell you!  That having been said, it’s hard to get away from BEAUTIFUL MEMORY here for quite a few reasons, the main ones being that Saeed Bin Suroor’s Invincible Spirit filly is the only horse not drifting in the market at the time of writing, notwithstanding her ‘Rockfel’ entry.  Add the fact that Saeed is at last beginning to match the type of strike rate this season that we are used to witnessing down the years and we have a ready-made selection for the race.  VERVE is taken to follow Saeed’s March foal home, hopefully being well held at the line.  The reserve nomination is offered to REVALUE.

Favourite factor: This is the second division of the opening event.

 

3.25: Ten different trainers have saddled the winner of this selling event during the last decade.  Hopefully the dead eight we are left with following an early defection will remain intact which should be the case on good ground.  The fact that there is no evidence of rain on the radar in Leicester on the run up to the meeting today should ensure that the projected going prevails.  FELISA and LITTLE POEM are the first two horses to be included in my Placepot mix though I must emphasise that any thoughts of placing a win bet in this contest disappeared when I failed to note any market moves at the time of writing.  Fancied horses have a reasonable record from a win perspective as you can see below via my ‘favourite factor’ feature, whereby I will add STILL GOT IT into the equation.

Favourite factor: Four winning favourites have evolved during the last decade, whilst the top priced winner during the study period was retuned at 8/1.  That said, only one of the six market leaders which failed to win their respective events finished in the frame.

 

3.55: The last seven winners of this all aged handicap have carried a minimum burden of nine stones whereby the bottom horse in the weights (Pheonix Dawn) looks up against it, albeit in an ordinary contest. That said, supporters of Martin Dwyer’s mount are not totally without hope as three-year-olds won the first six renewals of this event, with Brendan Powell’s raider being one of five representatives on this occasion.  Preference however is for the relevant trio of NEAR KETTERING, HAREBELL and MAORI BOB, even though the pilot’s claim aboard the last named Michael Bell raider takes the Big Bad Bob gelding below the superior weight barrier.

Favourite factor: Three clear market leaders and one joint favourite have prevailed via eight renewals thus far.  Seven of the ten favourites have secured Placepot positions.

Record of course winners in the fourth contest on the card:

1/1—All My Love (heavy)

1/1—The New Pharaoh (soft)

 

4.25: It’s interesting to note that seven of the last ten winners of this seven furlong event have emerged from the lowest three stalls, with ‘trap one’ registering five victories.  GRAPHITE STORM (stall three) represents Clive Cox who has his team in fine fettle, with three of his last five runners having won with plenty of other gold medallists having being saddled during the last few weeks.  Although market leaders have a poor record in this Class 3 handicap, it’s impossible to ignore Clive’s Delegator colt, particularly from a Placepot perspective.  Other to consider include QEYAADAH and TAUREAN STAR.  Stall one has been allotted to course and distance winner EASY TIGER.

Favourite factor: Only one 9/2 (co) favourite have obliged during the last decade during which time, four winners have scored in double figures (within the last seven years).  That said, seven of the twelve market leaders have finished in the frame though as is (seemingly) so often case, the shortest priced (5/4) favourite finished out with the washing.

Record of course winners in the fifth race:

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1/1—Smokey Lane (good to soft)

1/1—Easy Tiger (good to firm)

 

4.55: From what I can detect, Ryan Moore is having his first ride of the season for Kevin Ryan aboard MORNING WONDER who ran a marvellous race to finish second on his first day at school having seemingly ‘left home’ without his satchel, lunch box and uniform, such was his greenness on the day!  LYNWOOD GOLD went one better on debut when sauntering to victory at Epsom under fast conditions and this going should not stop Mark Johnston’s Mastercraftsman colt from going mighty close, despite having to give six pounds to all of his rivals.

Favourite factor: This is another new novice event on the Leicester card.

 

All place details offered on my pages relate to an 'exact science', whereby horses that finish third in 5/6/7 runner races (and other such scenarios) are not 'placed' regarding my statistics.

 

Trainers with their relevant number of runners on the Leicester card on Tuesday – followed by their five year ratio at the track + profits/losses accrued:

4 runners—Michael Appleby (0/22)

3—Clive Cox (2/13 – loss of 1 point)

3—Richard Hannon (4/31 – loss of 9 points)

2—Michael Bell (0/6)

2—Peter Chapple-Hyam (0/2)

2—Paul Cole (1/6 – loss of 3 points)

2—Simon Crisford (0/2)

2—Tom Dascombe (2/14 – loss of 4 points)

2—David Evans (2/21 – loss of 2 points)

2—John Gosden (1/9 – loss of 7 points)

2—Charlie Hills (2/12 – loss of 5 points)

2—Barry Leavy (0/5)

2—Saeed Bin Suroor (0/6)

2—Mark Tompkins (0/7)

2—Ed Walker (0/5)

2—Chris Wall (0/4)

+ 42 different trainers who each saddle just one runner on the card

78 declared runners

 

General overview - Corresponding Placepot dividends from last year:

Catterick: This is a new meeting on the fixture list

Worcester: £24.00 – 7 favourites – 2 winners – 3 placed – 2 unplaced

Newcastle (A/W): This is a new meeting on the fixture list

 

Monday Musings: Better to have loved and lost?

I often wonder what the seller of a good horse feels when that animal goes on to do ever better than expected, writes Tony Stafford. What for instance were Peter Ridgers’ emotions as his one-time pride-and-joy Harry Angel stormed away with Saturday’s 32red Sprint Cup through the Haydock Park mud on Saturday?

Equally, how do David and Emma Armstrong react every time Ribchester, twice beaten in their colours after a 105k Euro purchase from the Irish National Stud, wins yet another major race, as he did in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (and £220,000) in the same Godolphin colours now sported by Harry Angel.

And on a similar theme, imagine the inner turmoil every time either horse turns out with their normally spectacular results in championship races, experienced by John Ferguson, the man who sourced both top-class animals for his former employers.

Ribchester was a notable coup, after those two initial second places, but as the latter had been as a 25-1 shot in the Gimcrack Stakes, the risk was probably at worst only a sporting one. Big Dave got the cash, and Godolphin the future winner of the Jersey, Jacques le Marois, Lockinge and Queen Anne before yesterday’s prize.

Harry Angel’s sourcing came in the spring after he broke Haydock’s track record with a scintillating display over the same six furlongs he graced in such devastating fashion over the weekend. He was beaten by Blue Point at Ascot before that, but gained revenge over his new ownership-mate when runner-up to Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and had him well behind on Saturday.

In between, Harry Angel also avenged his Ascot reverse with Caravaggio in the July Cup at Newmarket. Cox will have been an interested observer at The Curragh yesterday when the Aidan O’Brien colt resumed winning ways (he is now seven for nine) in the Group 2 Flying Five following a messy run in Deauville’s Prix Maurice de Gheest. A summit-meeting rematch between the pair beckons with most of the momentum behind Harry Angel.

Trainers who buy at the sales – Cox acquired Harry Angel for £44,000 at Doncaster’s Premier Yearling sale – need to follow a system with so many youngsters to assess and as the trainer stated in an interview, “it helps when you know the families”.

Clive certainly knew Harry Angel’s family as he had bought the colt’s older brother Golden Journey, who also ran for Mr Ridgers, for 70,000 Euro as a yearling in Ireland. One win (at 10 furlongs) from nine runs might have been sufficient encouragement to buy him, but the eternal conundrum of race breeding is how far up the ability scale different members of a family might go. The pair may have expected more speed from a Dark Angel rather than a Nayef, but a champion sprinter, and potentially an outstanding one – probably not!

On a stellar weekend for the handler, Lady Macapa, who joined the Lambourn stable after being sold from William Knight’s team for 88,000 guineas at the end of her three-year-old season, gained her first victory for Cox in the Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert at Chantilly, stepping up on all previous form.

Then another Cox discovery, the juvenile Snazzy Jazzy, retained his unblemished record, adding to Goodwood and Windsor victories by collecting 147,500 Euro for his defeat of 28 other juveniles in the big Tattersalls sales race at The Curragh. He cost 65,000 Euros at the qualifying auction and no doubt the trainer will have that venue high on his shopping agenda again this autumn.

Ascot holds its first full-blown yearling sale tomorrow and one colt I’ll have a metaphorical eye on is the Sepoy youngster, owner by Jack Panos, out of Anosti. Sadly, Raymond Tooth’s Tarnhelm, that colt’s half-sister has yet to win, but connections, as the saying goes, remain optimistic. Her trainer, Mark Johnston, will not be in attendance, as he has joined the annual migration to the Keeneland September sale – wish I was still able to get there – but he promised Jack when they met at Ascot on Saturday, that he’ll have him looked at.

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Not everything that Clive Cox gets his hands on automatically goes over the line in front, and Raymond’s first meeting with him the previous day, also at Ascot, preceded a last of ten finish for his giant home-bred colt, Nelson River. Predictably green, he finished a satisfactory 10 lengths or so behind the winner, Herculean, one of three sons of Frankel that offered great optimism for the future over the long weekend.

Herculean, a big, flashy chestnut home-bred of Khalid Abdullah’s, trained by Roger Charlton, carried plenty of cash and strong recommendations before the race. He came home comfortably ahead of another Frankel product, Wadilsafa, trained by Owen Burrows. Ryan Moore, at the start of what might have been, for others less sanguine, a traumatic weekend, reported him a fine prospect, and it didn’t take long for talk of the Classics to emanate from the bookmakers and media. Then yesterday Elarqam justified Johnston stable confidence with a fluent debut victory at York.

No doubt that elusive Group 1 will soon be forthcoming for the stallion and quite possibly from Cracksman, who did his Arc de Triomphe prospects no harm with an albeit routine (and slow) win in yesterday’s Prix Niel at Chantilly.

There was more substance to the Prix Vermeille success of French-trained Bateel and she could emerge as a longish-price each-way shot on October 1. It seems the Arc is on the agenda again for Order of St George, third last year, and now a dual Irish St Leger winner having possibly been the recipient of Ryan’s general ire when driven well clear to win unchallenged.

Having been mugged late on in the Matron on Winter by 20-1 stablemate Hydrangea, and similarly foiled close home by another former mount, Happily, on Magical in the Moyglare yesterday, he seemed not in the mood for similar frustration on the champion stayer. It probably would not have mattered if Big Orange had stood his ground, and those of us who could not believe “George” had not picked up Michael Bell’s favourite at Royal Ascot, felt reassured here.

Another of Ryan’s weekend reverses came behind a Frankel, namely Nelson, trained by Aidan for ‘the lads’. Ryan was on the favourite, Delano Roosevelt, but was never going well enough as the winner set a strong pace. No doubt he’ll be on this nice colt next time.

Going back to Ascot Friday, we got plenty of encouragement going forward to longer trips for Nelson River. When Alan Spence saw him at the stable Open Day in the spring, he suggested we’d have to wait at least until the autumn. Isn’t it annoying when someone tells you something unsolicited and is proved right?

Of course, Mr Spence was another beneficiary of John Ferguson’s talent spotting for his old boss, Sheikh Mohammed and apparently is still counting the notes from the sale of Profitable last year. He smiled when Priceless, still in his colours, finished ahead of the older horse when they were fifth and sixth in the Nunthorpe. Has he booked that cover to Galileo yet, or will it be Frankel?

On a slightly lower level, Ray’s lightly-raced filly Betty Grable runs off bottom weight at Catterick (0-80) tomorrow and do not be surprised if she proves competitive. I’ll be there rather than Ascot or Keeneland and Wilf has done well to get Sammy Jo Bell to ride at 7st13lb. The old boy’s playing a big part in her rehabilitation after that bad injury.

- Tony Stafford

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