A mixed bag today, dear reader, a bit of a post pourri if you will, as I catch-up after a few days away in the South of France.
Firstly, I did manage to catch a certain 'Sir' Henry trained three year old having his seasonal debut at Newbury on Saturday. Frankel was the beast's name - you might have heard of him 😉
He won the Greenham Stakes by a good four lengths from a reasonable - and improving - sort in Excelebration, at odds of 1/4. So what did this tell us? Well, that's hard to quantify, in my opinion.
The time was ok but not great; the opposition was ok but not great; and Frankel settled in the race not great but ok.
To be fair to Frankel, he couldn't have won much more easily, but the worry for me is that his only real rival on 2yo form, Strong Suit, ran no race and finished last, so there may be grounds for reservations about what specifically he beat here. Despite that, there were ten lengths back to the third, so this was at least a decent run.
Those who are tempted to pile in for the Guineas should bear in mind that there hasn't been a Greenham winner double up in that race for 35 years, when Wollow did the biz for 'Sir' Henry ridden by a chap called Dettori. (In fact, it was Gianfranco, father of Lanfranco 'Frankie').
So what?, you might ask. Well, none of the above means that Frankel can't or even won't win the Guineas. It just directs readers to facts rather than hype in the hope that they may be armed with sufficient knowledge - as opposed to newspaper editors' hot air - when it comes to post time on 30th April.
The absence or limitations of information on many of the other runners, and the fact that we've been able to see that Frankel is still the same beast as last year, even if he hasn't yet demonstrated that he's trained on, means he remains by far the most likely winner. But 1/2 is not my sort of price in a race like this - you only have to go back to last year to find the last beaten odds on favourite in the race, St Nicholas Abbey - so I'll be trying to bleed some each way value nearer the time.
What I am sure of is this: if Frankel pulls like he did in the Greenham he has little chance of getting the twelve furlongs of the Derby trip. He is as short as 7/2 and generally a 4/1 shot for that, which hardly represents anything remotely related to value. Again, I don't say he can't win the Derby, merely that I don't think he deserves to be those odds. He's not even certain to run in the race!
One I have backed for the Derby at a big price, and I was therefore very pleased to see win his maiden t'other night, is Zanughan. This John Oxx-trained son of Azamour made his debut in a strong maiden at the Curragh the day Geegeez sponsored a race there.
Aidan O'Brien's Marksmanship won that day - and I've backed him for the Derby too - with Notable Graduate second and Zanughan a fast finishing third over the heavy ground ten furlongs there.
Both the second and third have won since, with the fourth beaten a little further by Zanughan when grabbing a third place behind him in Z's winning maiden. In other words, the form is robust.
Zanughan goes for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on 8th May next, a race which has been won by the likes of Sinndar, Galileo, High Chapparal, Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Fame And Glory and Midas Touch since the turn of the century.
Marksmanship may also head there for a rematch and it's fair to say that the winner of that contest will be around an 8/1 shot for Epsom glory, possibly shorter. So the big prices I have might look better then!
Marksmanship is still available at 36 on Betfair, and generally a 25/1 shot with bookies, whilst Zanughan can be backed at 40's with Betfred (everyone else shorter, including Stan James who are just 20/1).
I like a bit of value on my toast, and one or both of those should hopefully make it to Epsom at a shorter price than is currently on offer.
Now then, how about a trainer to follow? What about one that you might not have even heard of? Roger Varian is his name, and if that's a new name to you, then what if I told you he has taken over Michael Jarvis' string?
Jarvis was a brilliant trainer, but heart problems allied to prostate cancer have meant that recently he's suffering from increasingly poor health. Varian, as his assistant trainer, was the obvious man to take the reins, and has started with a bang.
Since taking over in mid-February, he's trained four winners from nine runners, for a level stakes profit of over 55 points! Now, before you start rushing to lump on, that nonet did include a 50/1 shot, which has obviously skewed things somewhat.
Nevertheless, it is highly likely that Varian is doing nothing different from what Jarvis was doing previously. So, given that Jarvis was actually in the top ten in the trainers' championship and that it would appear that Varian is not considered in the same vein as him just yet, there may continue to be value in tracking the yard's runners.
In fact, Jarvis' strike rate of 25% last season was the highest of any of the top trainers, and if Varian can keep the meter ticking at 15%+, he's likely to finish the season in front to level stakes.
Varian had been assistant for ten years prior to taking over, and Jarvis is still there in a sort of 'director of football' capacity. For those who might want a few horses to follow from the yard, this is what Varian had to say:
â€œWe have some very nice older horses with proven ability, Laaheb is a five-year-old now and he won twice in Group company last season. Alainmaar is back too having had his season cut short last year, but heâ€™s a very exciting horse.
Weâ€™ve also got Sri Putra, who is a proven older horse, and also some nice four-year-olds who could step up to the plate with the likes of Hot Prospect and Ferdoos, who made good progress at the end of last season.
â€œWeâ€™ve got some nice maidens in the three-year-old division who weâ€™ll look to get a bit of experience into through April and May, and while itâ€™s early days, weâ€™ve got a nice looking bunch of two-years-olds."
Make no mistake, Roger Varian is a man to follow this season. [Typically, he doesn't have many horses entered in the next few days, but Eton Forever will be bidding to follow up his win in the Spring Mile when he runs in the bet365 Mile on Saturday. That Group 2 has some formidable entries, but I'll be taking a small interest in the Varian runner irrespective of who lines up against him.]
Finally, just a quick reminder that my online business training video tutorials will be continuing tomorrow, with the next in the sequence. If you're on board already, great, look out for the email.
If not, you can still get involved by clicking the link below.
In summary, I'll be showing you how to set up a website (hint, it's a LOT easier than you think); how to make it pretty; how to create something to sell; and how to start getting some traffic to the site.
In other words, I'll be showing you all the steps you need to get going... for free. Why? Well, two reasons really.
Firstly, I'm a nice guy and I'd love to hear your success stories in the future.
And secondly - and this probably won't come as a surprise - I've got something to offer at the end of the free training which will be of interest to some.
I can't say any more at this stage except this: the free training is just that - free. And it will definitely give you enough information to get started online should you so wish. Thereafter, your challenge will be to build on that. 🙂