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Monday Musings: Winter Scorches into Spring

Your eyes told you it was good, writes Tony Stafford. Reflection overnight on the times over the weekend more than confirmed that Winter had stepped up a notch on her 1,000 Guineas victory at Newmarket. It also suggested that Rhododendron, the runner-up that day, will be very hard to beat on Friday in the Investec Oaks.

There were two supporting Premier handicaps on the 1,000 Guineas under-card. The first, half an hour after Winter stopped the clock in 1 min 39.78 secs, was also a fillies’ race for three-year-olds. Constant Comment, rated 80 but a daughter of Fastnet Rock out of a Galileo mare, twin Coolmore influences, completed the mile a full 4.30 seconds slower than the Classic finale.

Then to finish proceedings for an epic meeting, run at a Curragh track denuded of stands and by all accounts facilities, Sea Wolf, a tough 101-rated handicapper, defied 10st1lb in beating 19 rivals. Although the difference in weights carried on the day might seem to have given an obvious advantage to Winter over Sea Wolf, an older colt or gelding would concede the identical 15lb to a three-year-old filly if they were to meet in the eight and a half furlong Diomed Stakes (Group 3) at Epsom on Saturday.

Sea Wolf’s time in a hotly-contested affair was 1 min 42.45 secs, almost three seconds more than Winter’s, reflecting a margin of around 50 yards, if you take an average 13 seconds per furlong.

Racing Post Ratings as ever were quick to offer assessments, suggesting this was a 2lb improvement on the defeat of Rhododendron. Time may well show this to be an over-cautious mark. Caution clearly is inhibiting the other big stables from tackling the O’Brien Classic generation, to such an extent that Roly Poly and Hydrangea were able to participate in yet another 1-2-3 for Ballydoyle, just ahead of Joseph O’Brien’s Intricately, but almost five lengths behind the imperious winner.

The previous afternoon, Churchill preceded his stablemate by also completing the 2,000 Guineas Newmarket – Curragh double with a fuss-free two-and-a-half length win in the Tattersalls-sponsored event. Thunder Snow, at one time travelling apparently better than Churchill until that embryonic champion’s decisive surge, rehabilitated himself after his mulish and inexplicable effort at Churchill Downs with a sound second place.

There was much made of the fact that these two Classic triumphs for O’Brien came 20 years after a similar double set him up for a total to date of 72 European Classic wins. Eleven of these have come in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Not even Mr Wenger (seven FA Cups in the identical period) can match that.

There is sure to be a blanket attack on Royal Ascot from the Coolmore partners, with the Classic hero and heroine stand-outs for the St James’s Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes respectively, while on Friday night Order Of St George warmed up for a second Gold Cup challenge with an emphatic success in the Saval Beg Stakes.

In this game, reflecting on triumphs achieved soon has to give way to concentration on future objectives. The proximity of The Curragh’s fixture to the Oaks and Derby, earlier this year due to the timing of Easter, and also relative to Chester and York’s trials has meant that any quick bounce on to Epsom from The Curragh was probably even outside O’Brien’s comfort zone. Luckily Ascot beckons soon after, though not as soon as is usually the case.

Rhododendron’s defeat at Newmarket was attributed by many as partially the fault of Ryan Moore. True he did find a little interference, but as I thought at the time, Winter showed no more sign of stopping up the final incline at HQ than than she did on Sunday. Rhododendron was flying at the finish to secure second and she looks set to make it three UK and two Irish 2017 Classic wins for Galileo, ever more the super-sire.

Without Churchill, the O’Brien Derby challenge looks more questionable, but of seven possible runners, only one, the promising Chester Vase second Wings of Eagles (by Pour Moi) is not by Galileo. Cliffs of Moher, the Dee Stakes winner, rather than Vase hero Venice Beach, seems to carry the principal hopes of connections on a day that looks sure to be characterised by observers as the chance for Frankel to put one over on dad.

He could easily do so with the Anthony Oppenheimer/John Gosden colt Cracksman proven on the track, having beaten Permian (Teofilo, by Galileo) there in the Derby Trial before Permian franked the form in the Dante Stakes at York.

Then there is 2,000 Guineas sixth, Eminent, expected by Martyn Meade to prove better suited to the longer trip, and the unexposed Mirage Dancer, who is highly regarded by Ryan Moore. He represents Sir Michael Stoute, who has a tradition of producing major forward strides with this type of horse in the Derby, but his patient trainer believes this may be too much too soon.

At present odds, there is decent value available about Mark Johnston’s Permian, who won the prime trial for the race, and the fact that the trainer has not had a Derby runner for a long time and needs to supplement him are positives. This time he has a proper candidate, but like O’Brien, I have a soft spot for the Chester trials: I was racing manager when Oath won the Dee Stakes for Henry Cecil and the Thoroughbred Corporation before winning at Epsom under a peach of a ride by Kieren Fallon.

Friday’s second feature, the Coronation Cup, has been selected as the 2017 European comeback for the five-year-old Highland Reel, whose trip to Dubai in March was doomed when the ground turned against him.

Previously, in winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he supplanted the lifetime earnings of Found, his contemporary and stablemate, thereby avenging his defeat by her when they were one-two in the Arc at Chantilly last October.

Both are over the £5 million mark and therefore their sire’s top two earners. With Found now retired, Highland Reel can be expected to confirm his status as the “new St Nicholas Abbey” by making a winning Epsom debut on Friday. Should Highland Reel be found wanting, then Idaho looks a worthy alternative in the field, should be run.

If you call a horse Profitable and he wins  a Group 1 race, then you have to take yourself at your word and take the profit, as Alan Spence did last year from Godolphin after Clive Cox’s sprinter won the King’s Stand Stakes.

Then to call a filly Priceless and watch her win the Group 2 Temple Stakes, following Profitable’s example of 2016, the only option is not to sell. She is indeed Priceless to Mr Spence and while the original idea was to go to Profitable when she retires, maybe watching the example of Wokingham winner Laddies Poker, now dam of Winter, and other sprinters, he might consider a date with Galileo. Whatever course he takes, the arch-negotiator holds all the aces.

I did notice that it is not just Derek Thompson who refers to Spence as a Director (sometimes Chairman, even) of Chelsea FC when his horses go to post where Tommo is acting as commentator. That description did apply in the Ken Bates days, but he’s now just a humble Vice-President, contrary to the Racing Post’s report on Priceless’s smart win. Had he been at Haydock rather than wasting his time at Wembley, Alan could have prevented the normally punctilious David Carr from making a rare error.

Stat of the Day, 29th May 2017

Saturday's Result :

8.00 Ffos Las : Heist @ 9/2 BOG = 3/15/1 after 30p R4 WON at 11/4 With leader, left in lead 7th, joined approaching 2 out, ridden between last 2, stayed on well under pressure on flat to win by 2 lengths.

Monday's pick goes in the...

4.50 Chelmsford...

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.


Dark Side Dream3/1 BOG


This is a Class 5, 7-runner handicap over 7f for horses aged 4 and over and I've gone with a 5 yr old gelding who was a winner two starts ago at Wolverhampton, before narrowly going down by head when starting to stay on over the same trip in a Class 4 contest last time out 21 days ago.

He now steps up in trip to 7f, which should help, based on the way he has been finishing of late and he also takes a drop in class to run here for trainer Chris Dwyer, whose horses are 3 from 7 in the past fortnight and 2 from 6 over the last seven days.

Chris' A/W handicap class droppers are 22/117 (18.8% SR) for 25.4pts (+21.7% ROI) since the start of 2013, including the following of note/relevance today...

  • those priced at 7/4 to 14/1 are 21/81 (25.9%) for 59.5pts (+73.4%)
  • those racing over 5f to 7f : 16/68 (23.5%) for 49.2pts (+72.3%)
  • those last seen 21 to 60 days back are 12/53 (22.6%) for 34.2pts (+64.6%)
  • here at Chelmsford : 6/29 (20.7%) for 14.6pts (+50.4%)
  • and 5 yr olds are 3 from 9 (33.3%) for 2.14pts (+23.8%)

In addition to the above, Chris Dwyer's runners tend to go very well on this track here at Chelmsford with 26 winners from 145 (17.9% SR) generating level stakes profits of some 125.4pts at an ROI of 86.5%, with his handicappers faring particularly well with a record of 24/127 (18.9%) for 132.5pts (+104.3%).

And of those 127 handicappers here at Chelmsford...

  • those last seen 11 to 45 days ago are 21/97 (21.7%) for 149.3pts (+153.9%)
  • males are 16/85 (18.8%) for 124.4pts (+146.3%)
  • and those racing over 6f to 1m are 16/76 (21.1%) for 155.2pts (+204.2%)

AND...from the above...male handicappers racing over 7f/1m 11-45 dslr = 8/26 (30.8% SR) for 150.7pts (+579.7% ROI) us...a 1pt win bet on Dark Side Dream3/1 BOG which was available with BetVictor & Bet365 at 10.05pm on Sunday, but to see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 4.50 Chelmsford

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


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

SotD Update, 22nd to 27th May 2017

They do say that good things come to those who wait and for our subscribers who stuck by me this month, that certainly rings true.

At "half-time" of the month, it's fair to say that a 9pt loss and just one winner from thirteen picks wasn't a great return and I did get more than a couple of less then positive emails about it! 9 picks, 6 more winners and 19.86pts profit (despite a couple of hefty Rule 4 deductions) later and May has become the latest profitable month for SotD, the 11th in a row!

Those of you who have stuck by the methodology, which hasn't changed at all, now approach the final three picks of the month with a healthy 7.61pts profit for the month, safe in the knowledge that the worst result possible now is an ROI of 18.44%!

 Selections & Results : 22/05/17 to 27/05/17

22/05 : Heir of Excitement (adv 10/3 BOG) : WON at 9/2
23/05 : Midnight Monty (adv 3/1 BOG) : 4th at 2/1
24/05 : Hope is High (adv 4/1 BOG) : 4th at 11/4
25/05 : Bronco Billy (adv 5/2 BOG = 15/8 after R4) : WON at 10/11
26/05 : Sebastians Wish (adv 10/3 BOG) : WON at 5/2
27/05 : Heist (adv 9/2 BOG = 3.15/1 after R4) : WON at 11/4

22/05/17 to 27/05/17 :
4 winning bets from 6 = 66.66% SR
P/L: +10.86pts

May 2017:
7 winners from 22 = 31.82% SR
P/L: +7.61pts
ROI = +34.59%

2017 so far:
40 winners from 121 = 33.06% SR
P/L: +84.32pts
ROI = +69.69%

480 winners from 1712 = 28.04% S.R
P/L: +457.05pts
ROI: +26.70%

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.

Two Year Old Watch: Late May 2017

As you will know, carries ratings for all UK flat races (as well as NH races between September and April). These ratings, though referred to as SR, are actually performance ratings. In layman's terms, they consider more factors than 'just' speed or 'just' form: they are a conglomerate figure. And they are attributed to horses and races as the output from a complex neural network program devised by Dr Peter May.

We license the 'master' race figures from Peter, but he has lots of background detail for those wishing to delve further into the numbers via his own subscription service (see this link).

One of the best uses of ratings, arguably at least, is in two-year-old races. Here, typically, inexperienced horses run as fast as they can for as long as they can at sprint distances (in the early part of the season). The numbers then should be revealing.

Peter has kindly allowed me to pull back the curtain (cliché klaxon!) on his latest juvenile ratings and, if you like what you read, we'll make this a periodic addition!

So, here are the top ten performers as of now.


Top Ten Juveniles, 24th May 2017

Horse PR[Going,Distance] Trainer


Note that three of the ten are Irish-trained horses; and, perhaps, especially note that Jessica Harrington's Alpha Centauri - about whom the hacks have been raving recently - is not even the best juvenile seen out from the yard so far (according to these ratings at least)! That honour goes to Brother Bear, a decisive winner over six furlongs on debut from a subsequent scorer, and he looks an interesting Coventry Stakes outsider at the Royal meeting.

Top of the shop so far, however, is Richard Hannon's twice-raced Showcasing filly, Out Of The Flames. Owned by Qatar Racing, she went down narrowly in a three-way finish at Ascot on debut. A winner on her only subsequent start, in a fillies' novice event at Windsor, she looks a viable option for something like the Queen Mary Stakes (five furlongs) or Albany Stakes (six furlongs) at Royal Ascot.

But what of the once raced juveniles? Which of those have shown most on racecourse debut? And, based on history, which are most likely to step forward for the experience?


Top Ten (and equal) Once Raced Juveniles, 24th May 2017

Horse PR[Going,Distance] Trainer


Some more interesting things to note. Firstly, Jessica (Mrs John) Harrington, has yet another high figure juvie lurking in this list in the shape of 78-rated Brick By Brick. But that one had to settle for second best behind Ken Condon's Romanised, rated 79, who was talked up as a Coventry candidate by his down-to-earth handler. It was a taking effort, Shane Foley having to manoeuvre his mount for a run a furlong and a half from home, and the son of Holy Roman Emperor quickened right away from Aidan O'Brien's Declarationofpeace (74) before passing Brick By Brick in the final yards.

That Condon's colt is 16/1 and O'Brien's is half those odds would be more to do with the relative strength of the outfits than the merit of those two horses, and you won't need me to stress any further where the value lies. Condon's two-year-olds tend to come on for the run, which is another pointer to this lad's chances.

The domestic once-raced charge is led at this stage by two five-furlong fillies, both trained by William's. William Haggas's Ertiyad was a nose behind William Jarvis's Mrs Gallagher in the Ascot maiden in which the aforementioned Out Of The Flames was a further nostril back in third. That race, run on 12th May, may be one to follow, with the seventh and tenth going close at decent prices (7/1 and 16/1) since, from four subsequent starters (Out Of The Flames won, as mentioned; Cardaw Lily disappointing next time).

Charlie Appleby has three once-raced entries in the top ten (eleven, in fact), all of them at the lower end. But Appleby is a trainer whose juvenile win rate in the last two years steps forward from a very healthy 17% first time out to a leading 29% on second start. All of Last Voyage, Aqabah, and Sound And Silence offer the prospect of marked improvement on their next outings, then.

The last named, whose Newmarket debut win has been very well advertised (2nd, 5th and 9th have all won since), is entered in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown Park tomorrow night.

Clive Cox is another trainer whose horses generally progress for the run. His win strike rate with juvenile debutants in the last two years is 11%, whereas those with the benefit of a run have converted at 20%. Cox's Koditime leapt from a 71 first time out to an 82 on second start, and a similar improvement from the once-raced Kick On Kick On, a four length debut winner at Leicester, will see him go very close in a novice event at Goodwood tomorrow, where he'll face a field of first time starters - any one of which could be well above average, of course.


The Tracker

If you want to follow any of these horses, the Geegeez Tracker is your friend. Set it up to receive email notifications either the night before or at the five day declaration stage (or both), and be sure not to miss another one you've spotted again!

Good luck,


Another tricky week for the tipsters…

...ended with a net loss on the portfolio of £161.48, had you backed every selection from our six triallists, as I'll now explain in the Geegeez System Trials Roundup to 23/05/2017.

That said, it wasn't all doom and gloom, as two of our services did actually make a profit on the week, starting with Carl Nicholson and his Stable Whispers service which made a modest £20.00 after finding two winners from eight in the closing six days of their trial. It wasn't enough, unfortunately, to see the service become profitable overall, as you'll see shortly.

Our other money-maker this week, somewhat unsurprisingly is Gaz Poole and his Bookies Enemy #1 service, who made another £82.21 over the past seven days (full details here) and the only slight surprise was that the weekly ROI from that profit was "only" 34.25% : a figure most tipsters would love to hit! Our full overview (further down this page) will show that this profit further strengthens their position at the top of our pile.

Not such good news for out other four triallists, though, as Racing Pro lost £20.00, Robert Frasers Racing Tips lost £60.15 and Big Race Bookie Busters lost £61.04, whilst this week's wooden spoon was "awarded" to the Racing Diary with a 7-day deficit of £120.00.

I should however point out that this £120.00 loss didn't stop the Racing Diary from ending their 60-day trial with us well in profit and it's a product I'd be happy to recommend to you. More on that very shortly, but first....

...our overall "leaderboard"...

System Profit Service Days Trial days Weekly P/L Full Review ROI
Bookies Enemy #1 £1,372.47 (at day 59) 59 £82.21 Click Here 58.06%
Racing Diary £570.89 (at day 60) 60 -£120.00 Click Here 41.77%
Big Race Bookie Busters £182.10 (at day 48) 48 -£61.04 Click Here 18.19%
Racing Pro £31.91 (at day 49) 49 -£22.50 Click Here 2.33%
Robert Frasers Racing Tips -£40.85 (at day 16) 16 -£60.15 Click Here -17.06%
Stable Whispers -£168.62 (at day 60) 60 £20.00 Click Here -17.56%

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

That's all pretty self-explanatory, of course and Bookies Enemy #1 goes from strength to strength and I'll be talking more about that one next week, but before I sign off for today, I want to quick point you in the direction of Carl Nicholson's Racing Diary , which as you can see made £570.89 under review at an excellent ROI of 41.77% (full details here).

This is a daily email advisory service offering bets on UK horse racing 7 days a week, promoted by the reputable Betting Insiders outlet, sending out selections via email each morning by 9am, well in time to get the bets on.

The selections are straightforward no fuss 1pt win bets from an advised betting bank of 50pts and during our review Carl's Racing Diary advised 138 bets and 23 of the 138 have won, producing profits of almost 57.1pts at an ROI of almost 41.8% from a strike rate of 16.67%.

A subscription to the Racing Diary is currently very competitively priced at £24.99 per month and all payments are handled via Paypal giving added peace of mind. An annual membership, however, offers far more value at just £199 for the year. Clicking the Racing Diary name is the easiest way to subscribe or get more information, or you could ask me!

If you need a final look at the review before committing, then click here!

And that's it from me for another Wednesday.


Irish Angle: A Trainer for Every Season

The vagaries of trainer form, those often-elusive shifts in the wellbeing of a yard’s horses, have never done anything for me as a punting angle, on Irish racing at least. With a limited programme book relative to the UK, the sample sizes are just too small be to be meaningful and fleeting veins of form seem to be constantly beyond a bettor’s grasp; it is only with hindsight that we can recognise a good or bad period. What looks like a pattern is often just noise and certainly the perception of a trainer going badly would not put me off a bet.

But what if we could broaden the sample a little and try to predict when a stable will go in or out of form? Discussions of trainer form tend to be limited to what the trainer is doing in the current moment or the weeks previous but what if we look back at how they did at the same time of the season in the previous years? At least this way we have a much greater number of races to evaluate and we can see if form at different parts of the calendar is repeatable from season to season.

For the purposes of this article, I used the excellent HorseRaceBase database [though this research can now be done using Geegeez' own Query Tool (£) - Ed.] to look at Irish flat races run with the traditional flat season from 2010 to 2016, a total of 6,538 races. I divided the season into four sections: Spring (March and April), Early Summer (May and June), High Summer (July and August) and Autumn (September, October and the odd race in the November). Not all seasons are equal however as the distribution of races far from even:


Stage of Season Number of Races Percentage of Races
Spring 804 12.3%
Early Summer 1,951 29.8%
High Summer 2,179 33.3%
Autumn 1,604 24.6%


I’m going to present the top ten trainers from each point of the season with all the usual measures with overall strikerate used as the key figure before going deeper on a trainer or two that could be worth following within that period.



Trainer Wins Strikerate Level Stakes Actual/Expected
D. Weld 88 21.4% -56.82 0.96
A. O’Brien 91 20.9% -74.77 0.83
F. Stack 38 20.4% -7.06 1.11
J. Oxx 27 17.3% -12.59 0.90
J. Harrington 21 14.0% -8.66 1.10
K. Prendergast 29 12.9% -72.19 0.83
J. Bolger 66 12.7% -75.93 0.85
P. Deegan 28 12.6% +67.96 0.98
G. Lyons 28 11.8% +10.16 0.92
K. Condon 14 10.3% -19.67 1.07


The early months of the flat season present an interesting challenge for trainers and there are pros and cons to having their horses ready from the start. Some of your opposition will be playing the long game and aiming to peak their horses later on in the year and if you can try to acquire soft ground types there are some relatively uncompetitive races out there. However, there simply aren’t very many of those races, March and April making up just 12.3% of the overall total, and even if you train a big winner you will be in competition with national hunt racing for column inches. A hot start in the first two months might feel great at the time but there is an opportunity cost here; it could be a long, lean summer if a trainer goes for everything early as their horses become badly handicapped and/or suffer a loss of form.

Two trainers that have long proved willing to pay that cost are Fozzy Stack and Paul Deegan. Obviously Stack has only recently taking out the licence in his own right but by all accounts things are basically as was in his Golden yard from when his father held the license. He wasn’t hanging about again in 2017 with seven winners in the first two months of the season and that’s something that has been a long-standing pattern with this operation; taking the season in four stages listed above, strikerate goes from 20.4% in spring to 15.9% and 16.1% in the two summer phases before dropping to 10% in autumn.

Paul Deegan’s horses are never better than early in the season, his average strikerate of 8.3% rising to 12.6% in the March and April period. The summer stages are rough on him though with May/June returns of 6.7% and 5.2% in July/August before a rebound of sorts at the backend with his autumn strikerate back up to 10% flat. Perhaps his horses take time to overcome their early exertions or it could be a case that the ground is most suitable at the start and finish of the season.


Early Summer

Trainer Wins Strikerate Level Stakes Actual/Expected
A. O’Brien 215 22.2% -122.81 0.89
D. Weld 143 17.4% -192.88 0.87
J. Oxx 68 16.9% -119.95 0.80
G. Lyons 106 15.9% -22.34 0.99
C. O’Brien 27 12.9% -6.11 1.07
J. Bolger 123 12.8% -161.62 0.86
F. Stack 36 11.7% -78.21 0.77
K. Prendergast 54 11.2% -175.69 0.73
E. Lynam 39 11.1% -96.87 0.88
J. Harrington 49 10.9% -154.00 0.81


Summer races, be they in the early or late high season, are by definition easier to win as they simply attract smaller field sizes; the average strikerates for all horses in this period is typically around 9% whereas that number drops towards the end of the campaign as trainers rush to run their horses before the turf seasons dwindles to nothing.

One trainer to make the most of these opportunities is Charles O’Brien and it was a surprise to see him rank fifth overall in strikerate at this time of the year as his general rates of return are mediocre; this is a trainer who has had just one Group race winner since 2011. But come May and June his horses appear to find form and it isn’t just the result of one or two fluky good years; in the past seven seasons, he has managed an actual over expected of 1.0 or greater five times. Though without a winner thus far in 2017, he could be about to hit form.


High Summer 

Trainer Wins Strikerate Level Stakes Actual/Expected
A. O’Brien 247 22.9% -235.56 0.91
W. Mullins 29 21.3% -30.60 0.87
D. Weld 165 18.4% -255.95 0.86
A. Slattery 22 17.9% +26.33 1.60
J. Oxx 72 17.2% -91.68 0.81
G. Lyons 96 16.1% -113.91 0.94
J. Bolger 121 14.0% -202.06 0.87
E. Lynam 54 13.7% +37.87 0.95
J. Murtagh 30 13.6% -23.59 0.90
D. Hogan 19 13.6% -3.22 1.09


Rightly or wrongly, high summer in Irish racing means one thing: Galway. It is thus no surprise to see trainers that do well at this meeting, like Willie Mullins and Denis Hogan, in the overall top ten for this time of year. The racing at Galway is very competitive with races there frequently over-subscribed but if you have your string in good order aiming at that meeting then the knock-on effect is that they will win at the many other fixtures that are on around this time.

Mullins is a high strikerate trainer by any definition of the term as we saw this past national hunt season when he retained his title despite having appreciably fewer runners than Gordon Elliott. Of his 29 winners in the period covered, seven of those came at Galway where he was top trainer last year, finally ending the reign of Dermot Weld. And remember, this doesn’t include his winners under national hunt rules! Hogan, incidentally, trained five Galway winners from his total of 19.

Andy Slattery is another trainer that does well at this period of the season but while he did have two winners at Galway in 2016 it seems more a by-product of his star horses peaking at this stage of year. Ucanchoose won six times in the months of July and August while An Saighduir won five times; both of those appear on the downgrade now but Creggs Pipes (three wins) and Sors (two wins) might fill the breach. It needs pointing out that Slattery seems to be suffering a hangover (or natural regression if you prefer) from last year’s excellent campaign and is without a winner in 2017.



Trainer Wins Strikerate Level Stakes Actual/Expected
A. O’Brien 191 17.8% -307.69 0.88
D. Weld 125 15.2% -185.97 0.85
G. Lyons 68 11.7% +11.69 1.00
M. Halford 81 10.7% -196.25 0.89
J. Oxx 40 10.4% -163.00 0.69
K. Condon 26 10.4% -52.93 0.91
E. Lynam 40 10.3% -128.76 0.85
P. Deegan 34 10.2% -42.47 0.97
F. Stack 23 10.0% -60.92 0.83
W. McCreery 38 9.7% -48.62 0.90


Almost every trainer sees their strikerate drop off at the end of the season for one simple reason; races are harder to win as the field sizes balloon. As mentioned above, Deegan is someone who sees a bounce-back while the Stack’s 10% return at this time may not be as bad as it seems; the point of comparison here probably shouldn’t be his earlier numbers but those of other trainers around him.

The reason for races being more competitive at this time of year is clear and can be seen best by placing the national hunt and flat seasons alongside one another. When the jumps season concludes, jumps racing just carries on; after Punchestown, there’s another meeting two days later and there are plenty of classy races through the summer at tracks like Killarney and Galway. When the flat stops, it stops and trainers are left with the sole option of the all-weather; to Dundalk or a winter break, you might say.

Readers may have noticed I have avoided referring to the major yards throughout this article; it was intentional as I want to return to those bigger yards next time where I will also look at what if anything all this might mean in the current campaign.

- Tony Keenan

Monday Musings: Palmer Loses Gold-en Touch?

Palmer and Galileo Gold were not at their best at the weekend

Palmer and Galileo Gold were not at their best at the weekend

Regular readers of these thoughts will be in little doubt that I enjoy digging out statistics, writes Tony Stafford. Many will be suspicious of them, indeed the well-worn phrase, popularised by the American author Mark Twain, who attributed it to the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, says “there are three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies and statistics”.

Senior politicians on either side of the Atlantic have had cause to question the worth and veracity of public opinion data following several elections, but I still go with the credo, “facts is facts”.

I’ve no idea whether the ever upwardly-mobile Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer sets much store on figures, but after the tame effort by Galileo Gold, last year’s 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner in the Lockinge Stakes, sponsored by his owners Al Shaqab at Newbury, maybe the alarm bells are starting to ring, if only sotto voce.

Before the big race, Palmer was stood in front of the exit from the parade ring, exhorting his horse’s groom to “go straight out” onto the track, only for an official to bar his way and point out the Group 1 requirement for “a parade” and therefore the need for the horses to go out in a precise order.

Palmer’s body language, and where one could hear it, audible language both suggested irritation. A second irritation soon followed when the expected pacemaker, Toscanini, there to give a lead to Godolphin’s Ribchester, missed the break.

That left the two principals out in front, and while Ribchester, leading the main group up the middle stayed there, Galileo Gold raced more freely than desirable under the stands rail where he had been taken by Frankie Dettori. He faded away into sixth, a dozen lengths or so behind the emphatic winner.

Towards the back end of last year, Ribchester twice inflicted defeats on Galileo Gold, thereby reversing the relative positions of the pair from midsummer. Here the market anticipated a similar outcome, but hardly one with such a disparity. The trainer had said before Newbury that the harmonious partnership between horse and jockey was back where it was at 2,000 Guineas time last spring, but whatever the reason, that was not the case this time.

With two stables, one on either side of Newmarket and a horse complement according to Horses in Training of 170 inmates – less the odd inevitable departure through erosion – the expectation from Palmer will be again to beat his latest annual tally of 71 winners. That followed scores of seven, then six and the acceleration to 15, 24, 34 before more than doubling that tally in 2016.

Last week at York, the Makfi filly Vintage Folly delighted her trainer when runner-up to Shutter Speed in the Musidora Stakes, encouraging Palmer to make optimistic noises in his post-race TV interviews about her prospects of going one better in the Oaks, in which his Architechture was second a year ago.

But in all honesty – no lies, or damned lies in sight – Hugo’s stats for the past fortnight have been poor, and for the past few days since Vintage Folly, simply dreadful.

From 28 runs in the two weeks analysed, with horses from Kremlin Cottage and the new Yellowstone stable in Hamilton Road, he has had a single winner of a Lingfield maiden race. Of the remaining 27, Racing Post ratings calculated that three had improved on previous figures; four, presumably debutants, got no rating and the remainder ran below form, many to an alarming degree.

The 28 runners were beaten a total of 353.5 lengths, at an average of 12 lengths per run, the precise distance by which Galileo Gold was beaten. Since Vintage Folly, beaten less than two lengths, the distances by which all his subsequent runners have trailed the race winners have been 6.25 lengths, 3.75, 13.5, 41, 18, 81, 4.5, 12.5, 28, 10, 28 and 7.75  Many of these were prominent in the betting.

Palmer’s 2017 tally has been boosted by eight all-weather wins, all with three-year-olds, from 45 runs, but on turf, his 55 contestants have managed only four wins, for a combined tally of 12. Richard Fahey, admittedly with a stable containing many more inmates than Palmer’s, has sent out 59 winners, 35 on turf.  There’s plenty of time for the tide to turn, but the combination of few wins and poor performances that have typified recent activity cannot be argued.


One trainer friend who has rather less regard for BHA handicappers than me trotted out his favourite phrase: “You couldn’t bend wire like them” about one piece of evidence on today’s Carlisle card. It was in response to my own pointing out the apparent idiotic handicapping of a well-known stayer.

Over the years, the now 10-year-old Teak has been up to the high 80’s and was at that point early in 2016. By the autumn he was running off 80, and his Cesarewitch 13th of 33, 14 lengths adrift of Sweet Selection, was hardly a sign of deteriorating ability, with 20 decent stayers behind him.

That race was his last Flat outing on turf, as after that he ran unplaced in a stayers’ race at Chelmsford; made a fair stab at a Newbury hurdle race, before switching his attentions to the sharp mile and a half around Wolverhampton.

It was at that track that he won the first two races he had for his new (and still) trainer Ian Williams after switching from Adrian Maguire (who I was delighted to see, beat a Mullins hotpot in yesterday’s Limerick bumper, ridden by Finny, his talented son. Let’s hope Adrian reconsiders his decision to retire soon).

Nowadays Teak, former winner of the two mile five furlong handicap at Glorious Goodwood needs further, so it was with some surprise that I noticed the official responsible for two-mile handicaps, allowed Teak’s rating to drop from 80, via 74, his all-weather mark for the Chelmsford race to 62 after the triple Dunstall Park whammy. And whammy it was, with apprentice Luke Catton, who is yet to ride even a single winner, entrusted with the mount on each occasion.

Today at Carlisle, Teak steps back into turf stamina tests in the two mile, one furlong finale, and, blow me down, not with Luke Catton, but last week’s Group 2 Dante Stakes-winning jockey Franny Norton stepping in. It’s as near to a certainty as you’d get, an 80 horse running off 62 on his next comparable appearance, and it should certainly be enough to foil Jan Smuts’ bid for victory in his 100th start.

Frankel, possibly to media relief, got his first Classic win in Japan over the weekend, but over here, six wins for his old rival and fellow Galileo-sired stallion Nathaniel, offered hopes that the Newsells Park inmate is beginning to flex his own Group-race muscles.

Natavia, carrying the Frankel colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah, was an emphatic winner at Newbury on Saturday and trainer Roger Charlton has a high opinion of the filly. Maybe the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot will suit her.

It was horrible to hear about Hughie Morrison’s predicament. The only good thing of his anabolic steroids situation is that nobody who knows him and the way he runs his stable, believes for a moment that he would ever have anything to do with giving a banned substance to a 50-odd rated filly, or anything else. He seems convinced that unless the police can uncover the true culprit, he is sure to face a long ban. I’m not so sure. The BHA writes its own Rules, so it can change them if the situation fits.

- Tony Stafford

Stat of the Day, 22nd May 2017

Saturday's Result :

5.00 Newmarket : Star Rock @ 11/4 BOG WON at 15/8 Keen early, tracked leader, led 3f out, ridden over 1f out, ran on gamely.

Monday's pick goes in the...

3.50 Carlisle...

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.


Heir of Excitement10/3 BOG


This 3 yr old gelding has previously won over 7.5f and was only beaten by a length last time out when headed deep inside the the final furlong of a one mile contest four weeks ago, so I'd expect the drop back to 7f to be to his advantage.

The data supporting my pick today is both quite simple/straightforward and listed below...

Basically, trainer Kevin Ryan's runners at Carlisle are both successful (25/147 = 17% SR) and profitable to back blindly (134pts = +91.2% ROI) since 2008 and in respect of today's particular contest, I found a whole host of relevant angles from the 147 runners and here are "just" ten!

  • On good to firm/ good ground : 16/101 (15.8%) for 57.9pts (+57.3%)
  • at class 5 : 19/98 (19.4%) for 122.5pts (+125%)
  • in handicaps : 15/86 (17.4%) for 120.4pts (+140%)
  • in May/June  : 9/60 (15%) for 55.2pts (+92.1%)
  • on good to form ground : 8/54 (14.8%) for 30.1pts (+55.8%)
  • 3 yr olds are 7/42 (16.7%) for 43.2pts (+103%)
  • those finishing 2nd or 3rd LTO : 9/31 (29%) for 9.5pts (+30.7%)
  • those beaten by less than 3 lengths LTO : 8/29 (27.6%) for 21.5pts (+74.1%)
  • those dropping down in trip by 1f : 5/28 (17.9%) for 82.4pts (+294.4%)
  • and in 3yo only races : 4/28 (14.3%) for 31.9pts (+113.8%) us...a 1pt win bet on Heir of Excitement10/3 BOG which was available with both Bet365 and Betvictor at 6.20pm on Sunday with plenty of acceptable 3/1 BOG elsewhere, but to see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 3.50 Carlisle

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


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

SotD Update, 15th to 20th May 2017

Two winners from three in the second half of the week not only ended a losing run of 9 picks, but also meant we made 2.75pts over the week, giving us a fighting chance of emerging from a difficult month with profit in the bank.

Don't get me wrong, we're not there yet, but with 9 picks left in May, three winners should just about do it!

 Selections & Results : 15/05/17 to 20/05/17

15/05 : Honey Pound (adv 4/1 BOG) : 4th at 9/2
16/05 : Ronnie The Rooster (adv 3/1 BOG) : 7th at 9/4
17/05 : Petiville (adv 6/1 BOG) : 3rd at 5/2
18/05 : Caius Marcius (adv 4/1 BOG) : WON at 13/8
19/05 : Passcode (adv 9/2 BOG) : 5th at 10/3
20/05 : Star Rock (adv 11/4 BOG) : WON at 15/8

15/05/17 to 20/05/17 :
2 winning bets from 6 = 33.33% SR
P/L: +2.75pts

May 2017:
3 winner from 16 = 18.75% SR
P/L: -3.25pts
ROI = -20.31%

2017 so far:
36 winners from 115 = 31.30% SR
P/L: +73.46pts
ROI = +63.88%

476 winners from 1706 = 27.90% S.R
P/L: +446.19pts
ROI: +26.15%

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 (Occasional) Influence of Draw

In today's video post, I've looked at the paucity of meaningful draw information on horse racing websites.

Naturally, is an exception - in fact, I strongly believe we have the most detailed and user-configurable draw tool for British/Irish racing.

But as punters, we have to be careful around draw data, because much of it is half-baked or plain wrong.

Take a look at this short video...



Register for Geegeez Gold £1 Trial

Updated User Guide, including Draw and Query Tool 'how to'


Triple threat makes Gaz the Bookies Enemy…

That's Gaz Poole to you and I and he's taking the attack to the bookies in great style, as you'll shortly see in the Geegeez System Trials Roundup to 16/05/2017, which now somewhat belatedly (after I ploughed through all the reviews) contains a running ROI figure in addition to the weekly / overall P&L figures.

So let's get straight to the chase, shall we?

The logical starting point this week is Gaz Poole and his Bookies Enemy #1 service, who were this week's top earner by a country mile with a whopping £412.50 returned and there's an argument suggesting he was unlucky! I should, of course, clarify about the "unlucky" reference. You see he landed the place element of an E/W trixie not once, but twice in the last week, so with a little more luck, the profits could very well have been astronomical.

So, Bookies Enemy #1 is this week's highest earner and that £412.50 profit has also helped to extend their overall lead at the top of leaderboard (which you'll see shortly) to a very wide margin and with this week's profit coming from just £200 staked, the hat-trick is completed, as the overall ROI of 60.75% is also the best of the current batch of reviews.

Every selection / result from the last two months is listed right here.

Now, before I bring you this week's updated "league table", I should also highlight the efforts of the Big Race Bookie Busters team, who had seven profitable bets (mainly E/W) from just nine selections this week, enabling them to make £132.03 at a weekly ROI of 122.25% :  see here for details.

...and now our overall "leaderboard"...

System Profit Service Days Trial days Weekly P/L Full Review ROI
Bookies Enemy #1 £1,290.26 (at day 53) 53 £412.50 Click Here 60.75%
Racing Diary £659.39 (at day 53) 53 -£48.50 Click Here 52.75%
Big Race Bookie Busters £243.14 (at day 43) 43 £132.03 Click Here 26.42%
Robert Frasers Racing Tips £19.30 (at day 9) 9 £29.50 Click Here 20.30%
Racing Pro £54.41 (at day 44) 44 -£88.75 Click Here 4.42%
Target Tips £67.38 (at day 60) 60 -£50.00 Click Here 3.30%
High Rollers Betting -£515.25 (at day 60) 60 -£47.92 Click Here -13.13%
Stable Whispers -£188.62 (at day 54) 54 -£110.00 Click Here -21.43%

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

That now clearly shows the triple success of the Bookies Enemy #1 service and also shows that it was the end of the road for two triallists, neither of whom did enough to get our approval.

High Rollers Betting was an easy one to reject, but our reviewer had a little more indecision about Target Tips and the final figures show why. The service had a good strike rate in excess of 36%, but the ROI at Betfair SP was just 3.3% and there's a distinct possibility that there'd be better returns at BOG odds, apoint I made reference to in last week's roundup. Then again, an ROI of 3.3% might suit some of you as a bank builder!

See you next week,


Monday Musings: The Blooming Flat Season

After three days at Chester’s May meeting, when the improving weather encouraged all-comers to show off their finery, thoughts are already turning to the Derby and Royal Ascot, writes Tony Stafford. There seems no limit to the appetite of the female of the species for horse racing and Nottingham on Saturday continued the trend.

It’s always been said that Nottingham has a much higher proportion of females to males in its population than anywhere else in England, so if the racetrack chose to declare any meeting “Ladies’ Day”, as Colwick Park did on Saturday, then a large attendance would almost be guaranteed.

Well they did and it was, 5,000 and more turning out for a strong card featuring the Listed Kilvington Stakes for fillies. In the Directors’ Room, chairman Richard Pilkington entertained the connections of the German-based filly Artistica, and they were later delighted to collect the bulk of the £40,000 prize with their 33-1 chance.

For one reason and another I didn’t actually stay for the race – needing to get home fairly sharply I claimed – but more possibly as a result of a disappointing run by the boss’s Stanhope, the first sub-standard effort of his career, in the opening maiden.

Paddock duties meant I didn’t get the chance to talk to the filly’s owners, Gregor and Julia Baum, who run under the Gestut <stud in German> Brummerhof banner, before the race and they were busy with the excellent lunch when I returned. Unfortunately for the Racing Post reporter, he assumed the stud’s name was also the owner’s, but he did correctly point out that Herr Baum owns Hannover racecourse.

Not that I was entirely remiss in approaching the visitors. They had a familiar face among the entourage, namely Billy Newnes, who spent a long time riding in Germany and since retirement has advised the Baums and their trainer Dominik Moser, who was having his first winner in the UK, and we had a lengthy chat.

Newnes told me that the Baums had three or four other fillies of a similar standard in their stable and they were keen to get a handle on their level in relation to British and French fillies before planning their season. He was also delighted that Henry and Virginia Candy were expected and Billy looked forward to remembering the days when he was Time Charter’s regular pilot.

Richard Pilkington, son of Sir Thomas, took over from Peter Jensen, now the boss at Sandown, for this year and he is one of the rising stars in the Jockey Club Racecourses hierarchy. He was fulsome in his praise of his senior management team at the track, and the show they put on certainly impressed Gregor Baum who, according to Newnes, gets big attendances at Hannover.

Yesterday was a big day for Champion Jockeys, with Ruby Walsh (38), Johnny Murtagh (47) – who impressed with his insights on ITV at Chester, and Bob Davies (71), triple jumps champion in the 1970’s, all celebrating birthdays. Davies is father to Karen Quinn, wife of Mick, trainer of Stanhope, whose run mystified us all.

Clive Cox never got anywhere near the title during his time with Fred Winter, though he did emerge with a friendship with his long-term landlord, John Francome. He was also born on May 14, which was his 53rd birthday. Clive had a promising first-time runner in our race, but was in France for Profitable’s seasonal comeback second place in a competitive Prix de Saint-Georges, won emphatically by Signs of Blessing. He’ll be on top form for next month’s attempt for a second King’s Stand at Ascot.

We have our first horse with Clive this year, Raymond Tooth’s juvenile Nelson River, a big, well-developed son of Mount Nelson, who is waiting for ground and seven furlongs.

Chester proved almost a straight match between the two major protagonists for the British Flat-race trainers’ championship. Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have quickly moved ahead of the field in prizemoney terms, and without Gosden’s double intervention, the fixture would have been an O’Brien benefit.

The visitors collected the Chester Vase (Venice Beach), Dee Stakes (Cliffs of Moher) and Huxley Stakes ( Deauville), but had to give best to Gosden in the Cheshire Oaks, where Nathaniel’s daughter, Enable, beat favourite Alluringly; and the Ormonde, won with a last-stride thrust by Western Hymn and Frankie Dettori, who just outstayed US Army Ranger and Ryan Moore.

Sources close to Ballydoyle were suggesting Alluringly might be their best chance of the week and afterwards they reaffirmed that continued faith in her would be rewarded. As to Derby prospects, the late-developing Cliffs of Moher might well be a strong candidate, but whether he will supplant Churchill as number one is questionable.

Coolmore may have little impact on the three days of York this week, with some of the Aidan O’Brien apparent lesser lights in the Dante where Joseph O’Brien, among the winners under his jumping guise yesterday, may have better prospects with the Lloyd Williams-owned Rekindling.

Like 1,000 Guineas winner Winter, Rekindling was with now-retired David Wachman as a juvenile, but moved to the younger O’Brien and duly beat a trio of his father’s in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last month. He could prove a big threat to Gosden’s Frankel colt, Cracksman, whose Epsom Trial win has been well advertised. It will also be interesting to gauge the progress of David Elsworth’s Swiss Storm, another Frankel colt, who could not be readied in time for the 2,000 Guineas, but of whom his experienced trainer has a high opinion.

Elsworth had a long association with Chris Harper, renting his yard at Whitsbury for many years before relocating to Newmarket. He has also had a strong connection with products of the flying filly Swiss Lake, who was the fastest to grace the colours of the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman’s Thoroughbred Corporation.

Swiss Storm is one of nine winners from the mare, owned by Lordship Stud’s Trevor Harris and whom he owns in partnership with Godolphin. In that regard it is unsurprising that Elsworth has a son of Swiss Spirit, whom he trained with some success and is also out of Swiss Lake, listed in his string for 2017.

Swiss Spirit stands at Whitsbury Manor, where fellow resident Foxwedge had a decent first season last year both in the UK and his native Australia. Over there he was a sprinting rival and contemporary of the Darley stallions Helmet and Sepoy, but John Gosden clearly believes there is stamina to find in his DNA.

On the day at Newbury where Shutter Speed won her Listed race decisively, Gosden collected the fillies’ 10-furlong maiden with Gracious Diana, who holds the Oaks engagement. Then on Saturday, another daughter, Hertford Dancer, outstayed O’Brien’s Pocketfullofdreams in the Lingfield Oaks Trial over just short of a mile and a half. No doubt we’ll see her in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot.

Stat of the Day, 15th May 2017

Saturday's Result :

7.30 Warwick : Brahms de Clermont @ 3/1 BOG 3rd at 5/4 led, went right 3rd, joined 3 out, headed before next, kept on same pace, no impression with front pair from last.

Monday's pick goes in the...

5.30 Towcester...

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.


Honey Pound4/1 BOG


A 9 yr old gelding who was a winner LTO over course and distance under today's 3lb claimer jockey, Alan Johns, 32 days ago.

Trainer Tim Vaughan is 18 from 33 (54.6% SR) for 29.85pts (+90.5% ROI) here at Towcester with sub-9/2 shots since 2010, of which...

  • hurdlers are 10/17 (58.8%) for 23.8pts (+140%)
  • handicappers are 8/16 (50%) for 13.78pts (+86.2%)
  • and handicap hurdlers are 5/9 (55.6%) for 12.76pts (+141.8%) including Honey Pound LTO.

And with Alan Johns claiming 3lbs again, it reminds us that Tim Vaughan + 3lb claimer in NH hcps + 2012-17 + 14/1 max odds = 51/226 (22.6% SR) for 107.6pts (+47.6% ROI) including...

  • those ridden by Alan Johns = 28/121 (23.1%) for 30.1pts (+24.9%)
  • and here at Towcester @ 5/8 (62.5%) for 19.5pts (+243.7%)

And the final string to today's bow is the following micro... 2008-17 / hcp hurdles / C&D win LTO = 241/1175 (20.5% SR) for 163.7pts (+14% ROI) with 9 yr olds winning 26 of 98 (26.5% SR) for 60.3pts (+61.5%) us...a 1pt win bet on Honey Pound4/1 BOG which was widely available at 7.15pm on Sunday an to see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 5.30 Towcester

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


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

SotD Update, 8th to 13th May 2017

May continues to prove problematic for me and the second week of the month was a very trying one indeed.

Six picks with one non-runner left five bets to aim at. All five went off shorter than our advised odds, so we won on value.

Four of the five made the frame, so we won on quality/consistency. None of the four placers actually won a race this week, meaning that despite ticking the boxes for value, quality and consistency, we lost 5pts in monetary terms.

This means that it's almost half-time for the month, we're 6pts adrift and we need winners! We've 15 more shots at the bullseye to come in May and we're probably going to need 5 winners to stand a chance of breaking even. I'm up for it, are you?

 Selections & Results : 08/05/17 to 13/05/17

08/05 : Yorkist (adv 11/2 BOG) : 2nd at 9/2
09/05 : Logi (adv 5/1 BOG) : 3rd at 7/2
10/05 : Requinto Dawn (adv 3/1 BOG) : 7th at 2/1
11/05 : Capla Dancer (adv 5/2 BOG) : non-runner
12/05 : Swift Emperor (adv 11/2 BOG) : 3rd at 3/1
13/05 : Brahms de Clermont (adv 3/1 BOG) : 3rd at 5/4

08/05/17 to 13/05/17 :
0 winning bets from 5 = 0.00% SR
P/L: -5.00pts

May 2017:
1 winner from 10 = 10.00% SR
P/L: -6.00pts
ROI = -60.00%

2017 so far:
34 winners from 109 = 31.19% SR
P/L: +70.71pts
ROI = +64.87%

474 winners from 1700 = 27.88% S.R
P/L: +443.44pts
ROI: +26.08%

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.

Irish View: Grading the Trainers – 2016/17 NH Season

Well, that was rather good, wasn’t it? The 2016/17 Irish jumps season may not have delivered a horse that will echo down the ages but by other measures it was highly enjoyable; not only did we get some deeply competitive racing but also a battle for top trainer that legitimately went down to the last days of the campaign.


Willie Mullins – Grade: B+

It was the depth what done it. When Willie Mullins looks back on how he won the title for the tenth consecutive time, it won’t be the stars he has to thank. Many of them were missing for all or some of the season and one need only look at his top ten money earners in Ireland to see a more workmanlike group that may not have won every time they ran but were available to race throughout the campaign and pick up chunks of prizemoney even in defeat. In order, they were: Clondaw Warrior, Westerner Lady, Wicklow Brave, Ballycasey, Airlie Beach, Bacardys, Nichols Canyon, Great Field, Djakadam and Bapaume.

One of the features of past seasons at Closutton has been unbeaten horses hammering through the winter to the spring festivals but Great Field was the only real example of that in 2016/17 with, bizarrely, Bacardys being the next closest thing; on jockey bookings at least, he seemed unfancied for his two Grade 1 novice wins but his only defeats came when bad luck intervened. Douvan would likely have proven one of those unbeaten stars but for getting injured at Cheltenham but while that was a freak occurrence, keeping horses sound was an issue for Mullins all season. I’m unsure whether getting horses to the track is down to trainer skill or luck; readers can decide themselves but one area where Elliott holds the edge over Mullins is in having his horses run frequently.

With Douvan below-par and in the absence of Annie Power, Faugheen, Min and Vautour, Mullins did very well to extract six Cheltenham winners from this team. While Yorkhill, Un De Sceaux and Let’s Dance were in the mould of typical Mullins Festival winners, well-backed horses with standout form claims, the other three were anything but. Nichols Canyon had looked a bit sour on previous starts and was trying a new trip for the first time, Arctic Fire had been off the track for a long time, Penhill had been running in summer novice hurdles in 2016. All three represented good training performances though it was interesting that none of the six Cheltenham winners were able to win again before the end of the season, again proving how important depth was with all sorts of down-the-pecking-order types winning races at Punchestown.

In terms of raw numbers, Mullins actually surpassed his previous best in total prizemoney though that might say more about what was going on in the middle reaches of the trainers’ table than anything else. This was not a flawless season by any means however and I wonder if the Ricci team are getting a little edgy about their suddenly depleted team: Annie Power seems destined for retirement, Faugheen and Min remain out, Djakadam continues to struggle against the very best while their best novice was probably Let’s Dance and she was exposed as the season went on.

Mullins also remains without a championship chase winner at Cheltenham, Douvan unable to make the breakthrough this year, and his media engagement remains as frustrating as ever. It is fine for racing writers to say that he is easily accessible on the phone, something that is not the case in many other sports, but what is the point if he is simply putting out misinformation?

Whisper it quietly, but was this season the beginning of Ruby Walsh’s decline? One never knows how a great athlete’s career will taper off; it may be a slow drop-off or a rapid plunge towards the mediocre. It could be simply recency bias but Walsh wasn’t at his best at Punchestown, his rides on Nichols Canyon, Melon and possibly Un De Sceaux questionable from a pacing and sectional time perspective.


Gordon Elliott – Grade: A-

Elliott’s ascent to the pinnacle, or near-pinnacle, of Irish jumps trainers has not be gradual; it has been meteoric. Consider his record over the past five seasons, made all the more impressive by his not having the advantages of family connections in racing.


Season Winners Runners
2016/17 193 1,234
2015/16 123 790
2014/15 92 533
2013/14 56 435
2012/13 55 329


The number of total runners here is staggering and there is a sense that he accumulated his prizemoney total through brute force; run them out there often seemed the rule of thumb and get them into the valuable handicaps. His top 10 money-earners back this up: Ball D’Arc, Lord Scoundrel, A Toi Phil, Apple’s Jade, Death Duty, Noble Endeavor, Wrath Of Titans, Bless The Wings, Outlander, Fayonagh. Five of that group won a graded handicap chase while another was second in the Irish National. Ball D’Arc was a fine advertisement for Elliott’s method, running to form in seemingly every available race, and if I were an owner I would enjoy his aggressive approach to campaigning; what is the point of having a horse if it does not run?

There are arguments against this method however. Some horses simply thrive with time between their races and one wonders if Elliott will be able to adapt when faced with such a horse. Furthermore, there was something unsporting about his running so many horses in both the Thyestes and the Irish Grand National, especially when a few of those had taken part in gruelling races just days before. He seemed to be using economies of scale to keep other horses out of the race though it should be pointed out that Willie Mullins has not been above variations on this theme in graded races over the years, often entering a raft of high-class types to scare off potential rivals.

Elliott obviously had an excellent Cheltenham, winning with horses with less than obvious form claims; Labaik got it all together on the day that mattered as did the often poor-jumping Tiger Roll while Cause Of Causes in the Cross-Country was a sharp bit of placing in a weak race and getting in extra schooling session over the course a clever spot. He did well with a number of the Gigginstown horses that arrived from other yards, at worst maintaining Apple’s Jade’s level while improving Outlander and Empire Of Dirt. He also had his best Punchestown yet. After just nine winners at the meeting since 2010, he had three Grade 1 winners this season and made Mullins fight to the end.

There was a lot to be proud of here for Elliott but it was bittersweet too. I suspect he will be champion trainer in time but circumstances fell right for him in 2016/17 and they may not be as suitable in the coming seasons. His rise through the ranks has been so rapid one has to wonder if he can go any higher and there might be some regression next time; after all, he did equal the record of winners trained in a season despite finishing second. Sport is about grasping opportunity when it presents itself as one never knows when that window will close. Elliott did so this season and still came up a little short but given his upward trajectory it would be hard to count out further improvement.


Henry De Bromhead – Grade: B

Horses moving yards was the story of Henry De Bromhead’s season, his stable seeing a high turnover with the Gigginstown horses arriving and the Potts horses leaving. The new arrivals helped in bringing the trainer a career-best season in terms of total winners and prize-money with five horses standing out in terms of improving for the switch. Petit Mouchoir won two Grade 1s and rose from 147 to 164, Sub Lieutenant (145 to 162) was placed three times at Grade 1 level, Champagne West (152 to 167) sharpened up his jumping and landed a Thyestes while both Valseur Lido and Some Plan won Grade 1s. That should certainly be enough to keep the results-driven Gigginstown operation happy.

There is an elephant in the room here however. De Bromhead had a Gold Cup winner in his midst over the last few seasons and seemed not to know it though it could be argued that no one else did either; Sizing John was 270 on Betfair to win the race a year beforehand. Even so, that’s not the sort of thing you want to miss and it wasn’t an isolated example. Other Alan Potts-owned horses like Supasundae, Sizing Codelco, Viconte Du Noyer and Pingshou improved for the move to other yards. If anything, his whole season was an object season for owners in the value of not being too loyal as there are positives to be derived from mixing up trainers.

Special Tiara winning the Champion Chase at the fourth attempt was the highlight of De Bromhead’s season though he was a fortunate winner with Douvan not performing in a race that came apart at the seams. Even so, the trainer deserves credit for keeping him so sweet for so long, much like his former stablemate Sizing Europe. Identity Thief was a much more disappointing horse, the wheels coming off from Christmas on, and it will be interesting to watch the development of Petit Mouchoir over fences next winter. They have very similar profiles, with Petit Mouchoir a slightly better horse, but the extra season over hurdles is rarely of benefit to a prospective chaser.


Noel Meade – Grade: B+

Given his history at the Festival, any season with a Cheltenham winner is a good one for Meade, his Road To Respect winning the Festival Plate in fine style before following up in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase where he took advantage of the errant Yorkhill. Indeed, a number of Meade’s Festival runners acquitted themselves well, Disko, Snow Falcon and Monksland all running decent races, with the first-named the great hope for 2017/18. Subsequent events at Punchestown might suggest Disko was in the wrong race at Cheltenham and certainly his stamina wasn’t drawn out to full effect in the JLT; only a six-year-old, he is a live Gold Cup outsider at 33/1.

Meade did well for Gigginstown this season, their Ice Cold Soul a big handicap hurdle winner at Leopardstown to go with Waxies Dargle winning a similar race at Fairyhouse pre-Christmas. Meade can be streaky as a trainer but his horses held their form well all season and were healthy too, a criticism that could fairly be levelled after the last few seasons.


Jessica Harrington – Grade: A+

In terms of pure winners, this was not Jessica Harrington’s best national hunt campaign; she recorded higher winner totals in both 2007/8 and 2008/9 along with a number of seasons where she produced broadly similar figures. It’s probably harder to hit those totals now though and you have to go back to the days of Moscow Flyer and Macs Joy to find a time when she had such top-end quality. Basically, she had two really high-class animals in Sizing John and Our Duke along with a few good if not great horses backing them up. One could ask what were her third, fourth and fifth best horses this season and ponder it for a while with the likes of Supasundae, Rock The World and Jezki in the mix.

But she simply went on beast mode in the spring, winning valuable prizes at Cheltenham, Fairyhouse and Punchestown, with her placing and training of the two kingpins excellent. To get three Gold Cups out of Sizing John was a monumental achievement, especially when he wasn’t even on the radar for races beyond two and a half miles at Christmas. The decision not to enter Our Duke at Cheltenham was a brave one, one that I questioned at the time, but she spotted the value of the Irish National and he went on to put up one of the chasing performances of the season at Fairyhouse.


The rest

While we will remember 2016/17 for Mullins versus Elliott, the untold story of the season is the squeezed middle of the Irish training ranks. All of the top five trainers mentioned above had good seasons, a few doing better than ever before by one measure or another, but if the big are to get bigger (which is what happened this season), then something has to give.

That has been the middle rank of Irish trainers and in the past year we have seen two of their group stepping away from the job in Colm Murphy and Sandra Hughes. I don’t feel comfortable doling out grades to trainers who may be struggling financially and while this group is worth a statistical study in their own right, one small point of comparison is worth making. Five years ago in the 2011/12 season, there were 12 trainers that had 20 or more winners while this season that number was down to seven. The top five trainers back then are the same as they are now but consider how the rest of the top 12 in 2011/12 did this season:


11/12 Rank Trainer 2011/12 Winners 2016/17 Winners
6 D. Hughes 34 8*
7 T. Martin 33 11
8 E. O’Grady 25 8
9 C. Roche 25 3
10 C. Byrnes 24 16
11 J. Hanlon 23 20
12 J. Kiely 21 11

*Sandra Hughes total winners


All seven have seen their winner numbers drop with some falling off a cliff. There is something dramatic going on here and whether that is for good or ill is for others to decide; one thing is for sure, the races that would typically be won by medium-sized trainers are being swallowed up by the bigger handlers. Perhaps this simply means that employment is being shifted to the top five yards and the jobs are still there but even that is less than ideal for staff that are used to working in a particular area and now have to move.

Let’s end on a brighter note though. Rookie trainer Ellmarie Holden was one of the revelations of the season with twelve winners on her first go around. Triumph Hurdle fourth Ex Patriot was the star, and he might have done even better but for bolting before the start, but her winners to runners ratio of 62% was an even bigger achievement. That was best of all the trainers with a meaningful sample size with Willie Mullins next in at 59% and shows that there may be hope for the smaller yard yet.

- Tony Keenan