Well, dear reader, I'm almost literally just in the door after a long weekend in the beautiful city of Berlin. Quirky, thought-provoking, a mix of old and new styles and great to be around... but enough about me, Berlin was marvelous 😉
Whilst I was away, the Irish National came and went, and yet again it was a perfect trends horse that won the races. My great mate Gavin flagged the winner up as both the most likely trends winner and the top-rated, so those of you who took advantage of his free trends guide (why wouldn't you?!) may well have been pleased with the 25/1 and upwards about that 'chicken dinner'.
Of course, for me it was a hugely frustrating affair. I'd posted my copy for the race fully two weeks ahead of time and - predictably I guess - the top three in the handicap all failed to run, meaning the weights rose a full seven pounds.
As a result of that, about half a dozen horses who I considered either wouldn't get in to the race or wouldn't be in the handicap proper, did get into the race and were in the handicap proper.
Naturally, the Bluesea Cracker was one such beast. And naturally, she satisfied all of the criteria I'd used in my piece.
So, I can't claim the winner. But I can claim to be thoroughly p.... off aggrieved.
Well done to Gavin for an excellent 25/1 shout, and well done to anyone who followed him in.
Well, such is the whirlygig nature of British and Irish horse racing that no sooner has Fairyhouse concluded its National celebrations, than the Aintree Festival throws open its doors to welcome the racing world for the Liverpool leg of the Racing Roadshow.
Headlining on Saturday, obviously, is the Grand National, and newspaper coverage is reaching something akin to fever pitch.
The runners are sorting themselves out, and I'll have a final review of the race on Friday once the weights are published (yes, I've learned my lesson!).
For now though, I want to share with you a brilliant little Aintree system that I stumbled upon when I was playing around with the data for the big meeting.
I was going to give this as a bonus to anybody who bought Gavin's Aintree trends guide through my link. But what the hell, I'd rather just give it to everyone, as a thank you for being my reader.
Actually, while we're on the subject, if you want to get Gavin's excellent trends guide through my link, you can do so here:
[Note, there are four different options - my suggestion is to either grab the season ticket to the end of the calendar year, or the Aintree guide for a tenner.]
OK, getting back to the system (or systems, in fact), let me firstly explain the rationale behind it.
Aintree falls just three weeks after the highs and lows of Cheltenham's four day March extravaganza, and offers a host of top class racing for all categories of National Hunt horse, as well as - of course - the big race itself.
But Aintree is not Cheltenham, and the vagaries can catch the unwary bettor with his zipper undone, if he is not careful.
Many punters fail to realise just how different Cheltenham and Aintree are in nature. Despite both being left-handed and extremely difficult to win at, the two courses have absolutely no similarities in terms of their constitution, and the commensurate demands placed on aspirant equines.
In addition, as stated, Aintree comes just three weeks after the Cheltenham Festival itself â€“ and itâ€™s not as often as backers believe that a horse will recover from its exertions in the Cotswolds in time to win here too.
Indeed, since the Aintree meeting in 2000, 74 Cheltenham winners have lined up and just 14 of them managed to win (a strike rate of 18.9%). This would have resulted in a loss of Â£16.08 to Â£1 level stakes at SP.
These beaten 'good things' included the likes of Master Minded (at 2/5); Wichita Lineman (4/6); Samakaan and Voy Por Ustedes (both 10/11); and Rooster Booster and Captain Cee Bee, who were both sent off at 5/4.
Luckily for the enlightened minority (and if you're reading this, that includes you!), punters tend to ignore these facts.
They latch on to Festival winners believing that â€“ because the market suggests theyâ€™re tough to beat, and because they had the quality to win at Cheltenham â€“ they have some kind of right to follow up at Aintree.
The harsh reality is that it doesnâ€™t happen very often at all, and knowing this fact allows us to gain a real advantage over the general betting public.
So what is the winning Aintree formula, if it is not following Cheltenham winners at Liverpool?
By sticking with in-form horses who are coming here unexposed, we provide ourselves with the perfect opportunity to find a big-priced winner or two.
As I say, I've managed to systematize this to provide a very profitable angle to finding Aintree winners.
We are simply looking for lightly raced horses who have shown form on their last two starts. Specifically, shortlist horses who finished in the first six last time out, and in the first three on their penultimate start.
From that shortlist, we need to identify those who have run between 30% and 70% of the average number of races contested by runners in the race (over the same obstacle type as today's race).
For instance, if the average number of hurdle runs by horses in the Liverpool Hurdle is ten, we'd be interested only in horses who had had between three and seven previous hurdle runs.
If you'd taken the time to find and follow these horses, you'd have bagged 24 winners from 164 starters, and a whopping Â£88.40 profit to a Â£1 level stake at SP.
Thursday's potentials are:
2.00 Silver Token
2.35 Al Qeddaaf
3.10 What A Friend
4.20 Safari Journey
4.55 The Nightingale
Another shortcut to finding massive priced Aintree winners can be to ignore Cheltenham form completely.
Every year, the shortest priced horses in the betting for almost every race had their previous starts at the Cheltenham Festival. And every year, about half of the races are won by those horses.
But roughly half were not, and these 'against the crowd' horses have been hugely profitable to follow, especially over hurdles and in the flat races.
How else could last time out winners be returned at odds of 14/1, 16/1, 25/1, and a truly eye-watering 66/1 last year? Or 16/1 and 25/1 in 2008?
The rules for this fun system are as follows:
- Aintree in April
- Non-handicap hurdles or flat races
- Won last time out
- Didn't run at Cheltenham last time out
- Ran between 8 and 47 days ago
That simple little ruleset found 11 winners from 113 runners (9.73%) since 2003, for a profit of Â£154.50 to a Â£1 level stake, or 136% ROI.
(Note, because of the odds of the horses identified, the strike rate is low at just under 10%, so patience and / or small stakes should be invested in this one).
One of the features of this approach is that we concentrate on runners who may have been contesting lower class races, as opposed to the highly competitive graded events held at courses such as Cheltenham throughout the course of the season. Such horses will be coming here without having to exert too much energy in the process, and will likely be much fresher on the day.
Thursday's contenders are:
2.35 Drussell, Me Voici, Nafaath, Super Kenny
And that's it. I'll post Friday's and Saturday's selections here over the next couple of days.
In the meantime, if you want to get Gavin's excellent trends guide, you can do so here:
Finally, I know a number of you have had problems receiving the training emails from me. This is mainly - though not exclusively - due to a problem with ntlworld.com email addresses. You should contact ntlworld.com to complain about this if they are your email provider, and if you get a chance.
To shortcut those issues, links to all of the training (so far) can be found here.