Is it just me, or has this flat season been one long squib of the damp variety? Festival meetings aside, I've found some of the day to day fare desperately uninspiring, and a real concession to quantity over quality. Roll on the jumps, I say!
Before that, though, and in fairness to flat race fans, there are some big meetings still to come: the St Leger meeting from Doncaster, Arc weekend at Longchamp, Champions Day at Ascot, and of course the Breeders Cup from Santa Anita. Before all that, though, we have York's Ebor Festival from Wednesday to Saturday this week.
And, after the famine since Goodwood, it'll soon be time to gauge ourselves once more on the feast of top class competitive stuff.
To that end, there are a few golden rules to keep in mind throughout the week. Mine are highlighted in the below overview of the week, starting with some track info.
York Ebor Course Information
The course is a fairly flat ovoid shape of around two miles. It has a roughly five furlong straight to the finish line, and has chutes for the six and seven furlong races at the top of the straight (the seven furlong chute dog-legging left onto the main drag).
I’m not completely sure of the influence of the draw now on the straight course, and it might be that being drawn near to either rail is an advantage (it is on many straight track races). However, recent results suggest that jockeys have favoured the near side (stands) rail, and as a consequence it’s probable that high may be favoured on the straight track (five and six furlongs).
At seven furlongs, with that dog-leg shortly after the start, high is generally favoured.
There is a pronounced bias on races of a mile to a mile and a quarter, due to the very tight home bend which is navigated at racing speed and often fans horses very wide in big fields. The danger for high drawn horses who choose to tack across to the rail and stalk is that they are by no means guaranteed a run when the horses race up the far rail.
Recently, a number of meetings have seen all runners head for the near side stands rail, so keep an eye out for that, as it implies that high drawn would be favoured in York sprints.
Golden rule #1: The draw may be confusing and, while high may be slightly favoured on both the straight and round courses, don't let post position govern your wagering.
York Ebor Meeting Trainer Analysis
This is a Yorkshire party. The clue is in the name, right? Because of the tasty prize money, however, plenty of Newmarket raiders make the trek north, and that makes for some interesting betting propositions.
When carving through the data, what surprised me most was the excellent record of Yorkshire-trained juveniles at the meeting. Indeed, since 2009, ten of the 62 2yo's priced 20/1 or shorter and trained in Yorkshire have won. They placed at a rate of one in three, and returned 42.25 points at SP betting win only.
Betting each way when the odds were 5/1 or more (but 20/1 or less) returned 53.55 units on 53 bets, with a 32% strike rate.
Golden rule #2: Note all fancied (20/1 or shorter) Yorkshire-trained juveniles at the Ebor meeting.
That's all well and good for the seven juvenile races, but what about the rest?
Well, I found that focusing on the fancied (20/1 or shorter) younger (two to five years old) horses from the Yorkshire stables of the Easterby's (both Tim and Mick), John Quinn and Kevin Ryan was a very good practice. They collectively have a decent strike rate of 17% at the meeting, and that was worth 38.5 units since 2009. Each way punters enjoyed a one in three return, and a profit of around 59 units during that time.
Golden rule #3: Note all fancied (20/1 or shorter) younger (two to five years old) horses from the Yorkshire stables of the Easterby's (both Tim and Mick), John Quinn and Kevin Ryan.
Now then, there was one other Yorkshire trainer that I haven't mentioned, and that is Richard Fahey. Fahey is a prolific saddler of Ebor meeting nags. Indeed, since 2009, he has sent out 55 horses priced at 20/1 or shorter but only greeted two of them back in the winners' enclosure. That's a strike rate of 3.64% and was bad enough for a loss of 43.75 points at SP.
With a place strike rate of just 18%, he is a trainer to be most wary of at a meeting where he's likely to be heavily represented.
Golden rule #4: Beware Mr Fahey!
York Ebor Meeting Jockey Analysis
I think people can get too hung up on jockeys. After all, the best jock can't win on a bad horse. Moreover, many jockey stats owe more to their retained trainer relationship than anything else.
A couple of notable exceptions are the big boys - Kieren Fallon, Jamie Spencer and William Buick - who have enjoyed good success at recent Ebor meetings. And a surprise inclusion in the form of Phillip Makin, who has five Ebor meeting wins to his name. Three of those were for Kevin Ryan, but he's also bagged 'outside' ride winners for Willie Haggas (Yorkshire trainer, based in Newmarket) and Michael Dods.
That quartet of jockeys has ridden eleven winners from 48 (20/1 or less) rides for Yorkshire-based trainers, a combination that was worth 57.5 units profit since 2009.
Golden rule #5: Respect Messrs Fallon, Spencer, Buick and Makin in the plate... especially when riding for a Yorkshire-based trainer.
There we are, five golden rules, all pinned on logic and the evidence of the form book, and all designed to be easy enough to follow. For those of you unsure who the Yorkshire-based trainers are, below is a list of the top ones. Nota bene, it's not exhaustive, and there are others!
I'll have partial previews this week, due to time pressures, but will attempt to cover as many of the races (certainly the handicaps and pattern races) as possible.