It's a logical Monday, dear reader, after an extended weekend due to yesterday's Bank Holiday, so it's as good a time as any for a bit of Monday Mish Mash. In today's post pourri, I have a York review; part six in my occasional series of Geegeez gloats (!); and, news of a couple of new additions coming up on the site.
But let's start with the racing from last week and, specifically, the spectacles on the Knavesmire. York's Ebor meeting is always a belter, and winners are always tough to find. Luckily for us, the first day had one cast iron bolted on certainty of a winner, in the brilliant form of Frankel.
Frankel is an absolute monster of a horse. To watch him go down, he looks more like a Chippendale table than a racehorse, with those exaggerated muscle bulks at the top of each leg.
But when the racing starts, there's no doubt about this fellow's metier: he's a racehorse, pure and simple. Having destroyed every single noteworthy turf miler in Europe over the course of the past two seasons, he finally - and gloriously - stepped up to a mile and a quarter at York to run in the Juddmonte International Stakes, a race sponsored by his owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah.
With the prince, and a visibly ailing Sir Henry Cecil watching on, Frankel did what he'd done so many times before: stuffed his rivals out of sight; only this time it was a different herd of genuine Group 1 horses.
Having already seen off the likes of Canford Cliffs and Excelebration in the mile battalion, the step up to middle distances resulted in a seven length mauling of Farhh and Saint Nicholas Abbey. The multiple ten furlong Group 1 winner, Twice Over, was another six lengths back in fourth.
Make no mistake, there was nothing hollow about this victory, despite some commentators implying that the horses in behind were either unfavoured by the trip and/or not genuine Group 1 class. I'm not having a bar of that, as Farrh would have won two Group 1's but for the presence of Frankel, and nobody says that Excelebration isn't a genuine Group 1 horse, despite him having been beaten by Frankel five times!
As for Saint Nick, there's little doubt that he's better at a mile and a half, but this is the horse who had the speed allied to stamina to win a Group 1 over a mile at two. Twice Over may well have run below his best - he was also given an awful ride - but he's a four time ten furlong G1 horse, including this race a year ago.
No, this was a strong enough field, and they were fair blown away. Anything is now possible for Frankel, and the shame of it - for greedy gallop fans like me at least - is that he will run only once more, so we're told. Whether that is in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, or in the Arc at Longchamp, or in the Breeders Cup, we don't know.
Well, in truth, we can be fairly sure it won't be on the dirt oval of Santa Anita, as that is too much of a risk for a hundred million quid's worth of bloodstock (I hope he's not a jaffa!).
Wherever he runs next, and if that is to be his last run, try to see it. Be there in person if it's possible. Watch it on telly if it's not. But catch this horse of a lifetime before he drifts into the mists of history, and acquires a mythical air. You'll be able to tell your grandchildren you saw the mighty Frankel.
If Frankel was the icing on the cake of York's Ebor meeting, and possibly the cherry on top as well, there was much to like about the cake itself. A superb waiting ride in the five furlong Nunthorpe Stakes aboard Ortensia was another demonstration of why William Buick is a rider without pace judgement peer just now. He is, quite simply, the best jockey in the weighing room this season, and his cool steering of Ortensia off a ferocious early gallop was as typical an example as you could ask for.
Fully seven lengths back, in a five furlong dash, Buick sat tight, mindful of the carnage likely to ensue in front of him as trailblazer after trailblazer would self-combust within sight of the jam stick.
And so they day, each one's weary legs clagging up with lactic acid, as the Aussie speedstress sauntered through late and with panache to see off Spirit Quartz and the rest by a comfortable neck and more.
An excellent sprinter and an excellent jockey, both with the opportunity to demonstrate their talents in extremis.
Incidentally, this adds some fairly strong lustre to a certain Black Caviar, who had herself blitzed Ortensia on the only occasion they met.
The Ebor itself, the race whose name the meeting takes, was a typically strongly contested heat. My stats and interpretation of the form had it between Willing Foe and Number Theory - at the prices - and, bizarrely, I only backed Number Theory and only to win!
Of course, Willing Foe won and Number Theory was third, meaning despite them being 12/1 and 16/1, I collected nothing. Silly boy.
In amongst all the top class goodness, I offered readers a full preview of each of the first three days action. Finding winners at York is a very difficult task, and trying to do this publicly for thousands of people has its downsides (!!!), so I was delighted when I finally managed to bag a couple of winners, and read a couple of races correctly, on Friday.
In truth, the horse which led to York showing as a profitable meeting on the blog selections front, was a hybrid of reason and random in the last contest on Friday, an impossible nursery. It was, however, also a perfect example of why - when a race looks very, very difficult - it makes sense to demand a price about a horse with a chance.
In that case, 33/1 Mary's Daughter was the filly in question. She was far (very far) from my strongest fancy of the week, but the purpose of those posts is to a) cover all races on the days I'm previewing, whether I have a strong view or not, b) try to articulate my thought processes in the hope that it might help some readers to take that approach on themselves, and c) try to make a profit.
On point c), it's important to note that it is easier to make a profit hitting one 33/1 winner than it is hitting ten 2/1 winners. At big meetings, there are often reasons to take on the top of the market. Strength in depth abounds, and the market retains its biases: recency, leading trainers/jockeys, course form. This means there's plenty of value away from the top of the market, and finding one (or two or three) winners at prices will almost always be easier than finding ten (or twelve or sixteen) winning favourites.
I was just looking through some of the old review posts for the big meetings this year. I've put up 33/1 Countrywide Flame at Cheltenham; 66/1 (advised, returned 50/1) Follow The Plan at Aintree; a 66/1 second at Aintree; and a 33/1 winner at York, as well as a 66/1 4th in the Nunthorpe.
Glorious Goodwood was gloriously profitable too, and Royal Ascot finished a nose and a neck in front.
Stat of the Day, responsibilities for which I share with Chris, is over 100 points up since inception last November.
All of this profitable content follows the same principle. When we're right, it's spectacular. When we're not, it rarely hurts the pocket because we're rarely piling into shorties. This is the way betting should be: fun, a challenge, engaging, and beyond the obvious.
I've learned how to do this over the years, and I'm going to share some of my tactics in coming weeks/months, when time allows.
One final thought: if you back favourites, you will lose 70% of the time, and you have no chance of making it pay long-term. You also show an alarming lack of creativity when it comes to solving the horse race puzzle. So, come on, try a different tack! 😉
Seeing as I'm in gushingly self-serving mode, a couple of other pats on the community back. Geegeez has grown this year. A lot. It won't be to everyone's tastes, but the visitor numbers are off the scale compared with last year.
In fact, take a look at the below graphic regarding this year compared to last.
If you click on the image, you can view it full size.
Basically, the excellent news coverage of Ian Sutherland; the brilliant insights from Mal Boyle, and the three Tony's (Newton, Keenan, and most recently, Stafford); the Stat of the Day feature; and, to some degree, my own blusterous word-fests, have all contributed to make Geegeez much more of a site than it was.
And the numbers back that up. But wait, there's more...
Yes, I'm always looking to add new items of value to the site, and coming soon I hope we'll have two new components.
Firstly, I currently have in development a tipping module. This will enable us to have tipping competitions here on site. I'm pretty excited about this, and it's in the latter stages of build and test just now, so hopefully before the National Hunt season starts, we'll be up and running. So we'll see who the top tipsters really are! Fingers crossed that this will be ready soon.
The second item I'm looking into is the possibility of getting race cards and results onto the website. Now, to do this properly (i.e. licensed), this is very expensive, so I need to investigate the options. I've done this a couple of times previously but have always failed to find the right deal. I'll keep looking though, as I really think it's the way to try to close the gap with the 'big guns' in the UK racing space.
You already know the editorial content here kicks their asses, but we need to bring the overall offering into line in order to compete. And that's something I'd love to do if funds allow.
And one final 'shout out' to the Geegeez community. Not only are we a growing number - almost two million pages viewed this year alone, by over 151,000 unique visitors - but we are also a pretty smart mob too.
To this end, the Geegeez Super League is now second overall in the League of Super Leagues, in the British Champions Series Fantasy Racing competition. See below:
We're just eight points off the lead, and the plaudits go to the top five of Rob Samme, Dan Tory, Gary Camplin, Chris Humphreys, and Tony Hadfield, whose averaged scores have made this figure.
Close up and also possible contributors are Ken Weall, Martyn Currie and Graham Cornick in positions six to eight. The best I can currently muster is 13th, but I'm hoping for a top ten finish...
The top league of super leagues wins a prize as well as the obvious kudos of gloating rights which, as you'll have gathered, is a subject close to my heart!
Good luck all, and keep making those selections. Next BCS race is Saturday 8th September, and the Haydock Sprint Cup.
And finally, finally, a question.
I've been playing a little bit of online poker over the past few days, and I've enjoyed it. Of course, it helped that from four three-table (27 player) tournaments I finished second twice, and then won last night. 😉
But it got me thinking... would anyone be interested in a poker night? If there's any interest, I'll set it all up and you'll just have to register to play. It will have a very low entry fee - assuming I can't wangle a freebie prize from one of the online operators - and should be good fun.
Anyways, let me know below. If there's sufficient interest, I'll get it rolling.
That's all for now.
Have a great (short) week!
p.s. How was York for you? Winner? Loser? Drinker? What about the Bank Holiday weekend? Anything interesting happen? Leave a comment and let us all know! 😀