It's been a funny old weekend, what with one thing and another. As regular readers will know, I'm lucky enough to own bits of a few horses, and one of them had turned out to be a potential (and unlikely) star. We learned a lot more about her this weekend. Another of the 'team' runs today, and my thoughts on his chance are below.
Also, it was a fair weekend on the punting front, thanks to a familiar friend. Plus I've got updates on a couple of other hardy perennials too.
But let's start with the horses.
Slipper Satin was a very cheap buy, at around £3,500, and her job at time of purchase was to provide us with a bit of fun and maybe win a race on the all weather. On her debut for Noel Quinlan, she'd run a good third in a juvenile hurdle on heavy ground. Then, on the sandy level, she'd disappointed twice from two tries, which left us thinking she was not going to be any good.
But, somewhat out of the blue, she fair bolted up in a Fakenham maiden hurdle, again on heavy ground. The merit of the race was almost impossible to quantify, with the three main ratings agencies significantly differing in their scores. The official handicapper had her as 129, a very high figure; Racing Post rated her at 119, a high figure; and Timeform had her at just 97p (potential to improve), a low figure.
The fact that she had a 129 official rating meant that we were dreaming of a run in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham, for which 125 would normally be enough. The problem was, after two hurdle runs, Slipper Satin needed one more completed start to qualify for that race.
So we took her to Wetherby for what looked a two horse race between us and Aurore d'Estruval, an expensive French acquisition trained by John Quinn. Slipper slipped and unshipped poor Jack Quinlan at the first there, so we learned nothing new and we were still not qualified.
Then the weather intervened. A raft of entries was made for Slipper, but first Plumpton and then Fontwell - our two preferred engagements - fell to the weather. So it was that we were left with Haydock's prestigious (and competitive) Victor Ludorum Hurdle, or Market Rasen's not prestigious but still competitive Class 3 novice hurdle.
We plumped for the latter but, incredibly, the ground dried out to good to soft, soft in places. Alas, Slipper Satin's lack of speed was brutally exposed by some very promising types on that quicker sod. In a bog, she'd have galloped on relentlessly and gone close to winning. That's the key to her: she's a very genuine plodder, with limited gears.
We were beaten plenty far enough in the end - 26 lengths - and it will be very interesting to see what the handicapper makes of the run. If he drops her more than four pounds, the Cheltenham dream is over most likely. If he doesn't, the bubble will be a good bit smaller as opposed to being burst. We'll know on Wednesday, I believe.
Whatever the handicapper makes of it, she's given us a tremendous run for our money and, as well as winning a race, she picked up a bit more prize money yesterday, and will be good to run well wherever the mud is flying.
Today at Wolverhampton, another small interest of mine and Councillor Jim's (and Charlie too) runs in a maiden at 3.45. It's a weak-looking race, though there are a couple of 'springers' in the market, so it's hard to know what to make of it. I'd be pretty hopeful that Vastly will make the frame, and that's how I've bet. He promised to be a good horse in the early part of his career, but it's just not gone quite as we thought since, and we'll have to see how things progress. Hope trumps expectation always in this game, and today is a classic example. Fingers crossed.
On the betting front, it was an excellent weekend. Saturday was frustrating, as my main focus was on the Haydock Grand National Trial. In my preview, I'd narrowed the field to Wychwoods Brook and Emperor's Choice. On The Shortlist, the horse which stood out was Rigadin de Beauchene. I backed the first two, but not The Shortlist horse. Of course, that one won - at 16/1 - with Emperor's Choice coming in a very well backed second.
Wychwoods, my main bet, fell late on and looked as though he didn't see the trip out, which was the main question mark over his head. His jockey, Conor Ring, was banned for ten days for persisting with a horse clearly exhausted and, without wishing to chastise the inexperienced rider too much, it was a good call from the stewards. The horse, knackered after giving its all, didn't deserve such a crumpling tumble for its travails.
Sunday was better. I had taken the view that my investment in Slipper Satin was sufficient not to back her and, anyway, I thought she represented zero value. Of the rest, I didn't like the resolution of Certification, the morning line favourite; and I felt Lord Of Scotland had lumps of weight against promising types. So it was a pretty straightforward call to side with Kilcooley, and I managed to swipe £30 at 10/3. You may know that he hosed up in the manner of a very promising horse.
Incidentally, he was - I'm told - bandaged up for the run (I didn't spot it when watching the race), so he's clearly fairly fragile. He's also not entered at Cheltenham. But if he makes it to Aintree, a similarly flat track albeit left-handed, for a novice event he'd be of some interest. Keep Kilcooley onside.
My only other bet was a limpy Pick 6 over in Ireland. Again, regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of this bet. The key differences compared with the UK jackpot bet are 1) there are almost always a couple of straightforward bankers which generally come in, and 2) the shallowness of the pool and the frequency of rollover money in it mean that it's a bet which presents standout value.
I spent €56 (about £45) across five tickets. The results were as follows:
Leg 1: 2/1 FAV
Leg 2: 11/4 2nd FAV
Leg 3: 4/5 FAV
Leg 4: 5/4 FAV
Leg 5: 4/6 FAV
Leg 6: 10/3 FAV
As you can see, it was a really hard bet to land (ahem) and, if this was the UK jackpot, it would have paid around £200 for a similar sized pool, I'd guess. The SP accumulator came to €328.81. The Pick 6 dividend was €619.20, roughly three times my estimate of the UK version and almost double the SP return. I had it twice.
You might consider that a somewhat gloaty piece about which to write, but if you do, you're missing the point. So let me labour it (again!) for you:
THE QUEST FOR VALUE IS AS MUCH ABOUT KNOWING WHERE TO LOOK AS IT IS ABOUT BEING 'CLEVER' WITH YOUR PICKS.
There, I've said it. I mean, sure, I use my nifty ticket builder tool to stake the bet optimally. But come on, five favourites, three of them 5/4 or shorter, and a second fav. It's hardly the Scoop 6 is it?!
Where else does value lie? Well, I'm going to be offering a lot more on this in the next couple of months. But, suffice it to say that there are two main hidey holes for value:
Market value is exemplified in the above Pick 6: when there is free money in the pool - yesterday's pool had €21,000 carried forward from previous days when the bet was not won - the value pendulum often swings in our favour.
Another example is tomorrow, when bet365 are doing their 'in play special' offer on the football. That's basically them giving punters £30 to £35 free money. I'll show you how/why tomorrow. But it's another example of when the betting market is in the punters' favour.
If you're familiar with a product called All By The Book, that's another example of systematically exploiting market value.
If you're not, then you are surely familiar with Best Odds Guaranteed bookmakers. If you're a form bettor, and you don't bet best price with a BOG bookie, you are passing up the best possible opportunity of consistently making money from betting on horses. (And please, don't complain when bookies shut you down or restrict you: the BOG concession is the greatest innovation for punters... ever! Better even than Betfair).
OK, so that's that.
Another means of systematically exploiting the markets is to trade them. This is what my man Steve does superbly, and he is (and I am) looking forward to meeting his new group of Going Pro traders next Sunday in Manchester. There is still one space left, so if you want to start taking your betting seriously, and get smarter about how you bet, then click here. If the page is closed, the space has been taken.
February's Tipping League competition is in full swing and, as ever, there have been some excellent performances. But with twelve days in the month still to go, there's plenty of time for new and existing players to get into the coveted top three money positions. To remind you, the winner receives £120 in free bets, the second collects £80 and the third £40.
You do need to have a bet365 account, and placed £20 in bets with bet365 in the month to qualify for the prizes. And, as they're Best Odds Guaranteed on all races, offer a whole raft of concessions, and are going to give us some free money tomorrow, you really ought to have an account with them anyway!
If you're reading this and you still haven't registered as a member of geegeez, you're missing a LOT. Not only the tipping league, but also the awesome racecards, and the superb free tips. Chris (chief tipster) and I are really proud of our free tipping services, Stat of the Day and Double Dutch.
Stat of the Dutch started in November 2011 and, in the last two and a bit years, has recorded 158 points profit, from one bet per day.
Double Dutch is a much newer innovation, and has landed 52 winning doubles in 143 days, for a profit of 32 points.
There's no clever staking or anything like that. It's just one point win at BOG prices for Stat of the Day, and 4 x 0.5 point BOG doubles on Double Dutch.
We like to keep it simple here. 🙂
That's all for today. But what else is coming this week? Well, as I say, I'll have that free money post for you tomorrow. Then, later in the week, we'll be looking at another Cheltenham race, maybe two.
So far, I advised Al Ferof at 6/1 non-runner no bet in the Ryanair. He's now a 5/1 chance with the NRNB concession. I also suggested Menorah as an interesting outsider in the race at 20/1 with BetVictor (non-runner free bet). He's now a top price of 16/1 and 14/1 with Victor.
Then, in the Arkle, my top fancy is Trifolium. He's still available at 6/1 non-runner free bet with BetVictor, and I still think it's a great play.
This week I'm going to be looking at one of my favourite races, the Cross Country Handicap Chase, and another of the Championship events. So stay tuned for that!
p.s. how was your punting weekend? Leave a comment and tell us about any triumphs or disasters on that front...