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Monday Musings: Being AP

AP McCoy aboard his 4000th winner, Mountain Tunes

AP McCoy aboard his 4000th winner, Mountain Tunes

Funnily enough, I never really fancied seeing “Being AP”, the documentary film about the period leading up to the 2015 retirement of Sir Anthony McCoy, which had its limited cinema opening and DVD release later that year, but was screened late last night on BBC2, writes Tony Stafford.

It was rather inconveniently placed if you were caught up with the competing snooker final on Eurosport which ended halfway through the McCoy film, but I compromised and saw the bulk of what proved compelling watching.

We knew for many years all about the almost manic drive which characterised 20 consecutive jump jockey championships, but saw here first-hand his total unwillingness to allow such trifles as injury to prevent it happening for the final time.

The domestic trappings of success and his high-level income as J P McManus’ retained jockey were evident as he forced himself through the various periods of rehabilitation onto yet another 200-plus seasonal tally.

This was the season (2014-15) of his fastest ever first 50 winners, designed, as he graphically says: “to sicken everyone else” and make them see the inevitability of the eventual outcome.

But McCoy admits to a glass half-empty mentality. Dave Roberts, his equally-driven agent, who slipped out of the shadows for a rare public appearance throughout the piece, tells him that it will be impossible for anyone to match his 4,000 winners.

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“To get 2,000”, says Roberts, “Someone will need to get 100 winners for 20 years.” McCoy has doubled that, yet his slant on that is “yes, I have had more winners than anyone else, but more losers and more falls.” Always, for Sir Anthony, it has been a case of fearing not becoming champion. In this final season, the early dominance led to hopes of a first-ever 300-winner campaign, but when injury ruled that out, the eventual decision was to announce imminent retirement on reaching 200, as he did on Mr Mole on February 7 2015 at Newbury.

Roberts was on hand to escort him back to the paddock, presumably to make sure he would stick by the planned announcement, and sure enough, as Rishi Persad moved in, microphone pushed into the rider’s face for the first interview, remarking on “yet another 200”, AP said: “That’s the last one, I’m retiring at the end of the season”.

For once the press corps was stunned. It was a big enough event – Betfair Hurdle Day – for the bulk of the media to be on hand, and the news was self-perpetuating, with wife Chanelle later fielding umpteen messages from friends as the couple drove home.

Clearly, Lady McCoy has had a serious challenge to compete with her husband’s riding and admitted selfishness – you have to be selfish as a sportsman, he maintains - but she has come through as an equally strong character.

Many of the nicest images are the way in which she supported him as he rode in races. “Come on Honey” was the usual exhortation from the missus as she watched races like the last Grand National on fourth-placed Shutthefrontdoor. On the day he received his 20th championship title at Sandown, she had both their children with her. In the midst of great emotion all around, the lasting image for me was her ginger-haired infant son Archie oblivious to it all in his mother’s arms, nonchalantly munching endless soft sweets.

Naturally JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill were equal participants in this unique story and I expect they both approved of the outcome of what could have ended up an embarrassing sequence of wins and self-satisfaction. Sir Anthony McCoy’s character meant that could never be the case, and indeed the fact he was so worried about what retirement would mean for him also proves he does have some human frailties.

There were plenty of JP stars around over the weekend, with Yanworth not exactly stressing his almost-favourite status for the Champion Hurdle with a narrow win in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle, but eight years ago Punjabi failed to win that race before beating Celestial Halo and McCoy on Binocular at Cheltenham.

Maybe more worrying for the owner was Jezki’s odds-on defeat by Tombstone at Gowran Park, the latter horse overturning previous form between the pair. Still, Forthefonofit, Dream Berry and Sutton Place, the last-named in a Grade 2 at Navan, kept the green and yellow colours to the fore. Maybe Jezki should try the three miles of the Sun Bets Stayers’ (ex-World) Hurdle, worth a highly acceptable £170,000 to the winner this year.

At nine, Jezki still retains most of his ability, but until Saturday, Zarkandar, another probable for the Stayers’ race, was looking an habitual non-winner, having gone almost four years since his last triumph in the UK. Paul Nicholls’ 10-year-old did win a French Grade 1, easily beating the talented if enigmatic Gemix at Auteuil more than two years ago, but his Haydock win on Saturday offers hope for one more big Festival effort. Winner of the 2011 Triumph Hurdle, Zarkandar appeared at the fixture for the next four years but was absent in 2016.

It must be hard for a smaller trainer to eschew running a decent horse at Cheltenham, but Tom Symonds, 32 today, who escorted Punjabi back to the winner’s enclosure in 2009 when joint assistant trainer at Nicky Henderson’s with Ben Pauling, will not be sending Don Bersy there.

The French-bred, another notable find for Claude Charlet and his France-based ally Joffret Huet, made it three wins in a row for Tom when collecting the Victor Ludorum at Haydock, giving 8lb to the runner-up.

“We didn’t enter him for the Triuimph, and he won’t go to the Fred Winter. We might look at Liverpool,” said Symonds, as ever under the radar. This observer hopes he will break into the next level and owners Sir Peter and Lady Gibbins, who also own the smart pair Hollywoodien and Kaki de la Pree, can help him with that ambition.

On a weekend of some successful and some less-so old-timers, the best performance by far was Cue Card’s 16th win in 35 career starts in the £85,000 to the winner Betfair Ascot Chase. The 2010 Cheltenham Bumper winner and Ryanair Chase victor four years later, it’s hard to see why he shouldn’t go close in a race he might have won a year ago bar a late fall. I trust Michael O’Leary is not too fussed that after his Kempton King George defeat by Thistlecrack, handicapper Phil Smith chose to drop Cue Card  from 176 to 170 before Saturday’s tour de force!

The Best Exploiter of ‘The System’?

Jim Best wins the races..?

Jim Best wins the races..?

I wrote the below piece on 4th September 2014. But, in light of yesterday's verdict in the Jim Best case, it is both topical and prudent to revisit it, and consider - as well as the man himself - the wider implications, and what we as punters need to do to stay on the right side of such plots.

***

It was a contentious day at the office for British racing yesterday, as a plot unfolded in dramatic circumstances.

The race in question, a handicap hurdle at Southwell, looked a typically low grade Wednesday heat, the ten declared runners all being rated 100 or lower. Notably, trainer Jim Best was responsible for two of the ten. Tony McCoy was due to ride Into The Wind, the second favourite, and Rhys Flint would pilot apparent outsider, Saint Helena.

But, between declaration time on Tuesday and off time on Wednesday, a suspicious sequence of events transpired...

First, the more fancied of the two Best runners was withdrawn on account of the ground. Next, with McCoy now apparently without a ride in the race, Flint was 'jocked off' Saint Helena and the champion assumed the steering duties. All the while, market support for Saint Helena was strong, from before the notification of Into The Wind's absence right up until off time.

Saint Helena, a 9/1 shot in the morning, was eventually sent off the 11/10 favourite. As it transpired, she won, just, requiring all of McCoy's strength and race-riding nous to get the job done.

If you fail to see anything untoward in the above, that's probably because you're not party to Saint Helena's form history. A six year old mare, Saint Helena was good enough to win three times on the flat, off ratings as high as 79, and all on good to firm ground.

In her seven prior hurdle starts, she had run no closer to a winner than when a 69.75 length eleventh of twelve in her last race. That was a novice hurdle, and it was the latest bid from the trainer to get this horse handicapped.

**

The racing game in Britain and Ireland is predicated upon a few good horses running in stakes and conditions races, with the vast majority of the remainder running in weight for ability races once they've qualified.

The qualification criteria to receive an initial handicap rating are fairly straightforward, on the face of it at least:

In most cases a horse will have run on three occasions before being allocated a handicap rating. When handicapping a horse for the first time, it is necessary for there to be a clear correlation between the horse’s various performance figures and the handicap rating. Ideally from a handicapping perspective, the three qualifying runs would all be to a similar level, allowing a degree of confidence that the initial handicap rating is accurate.

If a horse returns performance figures of 60, 60 and 60, the Handicapper would almost certainly award an initial handicap rating of 60. The difficulty arises in three very different performance ratings, particularly in the case of a good run followed by two moderate performances. Generally the Handicapper will err on the side of caution with a handicap rating, giving emphasis to the best performance figure as long as that race looks solid.

Obviously, the official handicapper has a frequently horrific job in trying to nail form jelly to the ratings wall. And this was a case in point. Saint Helena, clearly a talented animal on the basis of her flat form on fast ground, had run seven times - four more than the minimum requirement - almost exclusively on soft and heavy, before being awarded an initial handicap rating.

Spot the difference between the win/placed flat form and the mark-seeking hurdles efforts. (Click the image to enlarge)

Saint Helena: Spot The Difference

Saint Helena: Spot The Difference

The British Horseracing Authority, via the on course stewards, called Jim Best in before the race, to explain the absence of Into The Wind. They then called him in after the race to explain the 'apparent' improvement in form of Saint Helena.

The released notes on that second 'chat' are thus:

The Stewards held an enquiry to consider the apparent improvement in form of the winner, SAINT HELENA (IRE), ridden by A P McCoy and trained by Jim Best, which had never previously been placed. They interviewed the trainer who stated that the mare, who had been a very buzzy type in the past, settled better today and had benefited from a break of one hundred and twenty-five days since her last run. He added that the mare was suited by the firmer ground on this occasion. Having heard his evidence they forwarded his explanation to the British Horseracing Authority so that the previous performances of SAINT HELENA (IRE) could be reviewed. The Stewards ordered the mare to be routine tested.

It is almost certainly true that Saint Helena was "better suited by the quicker ground" - after all, her best flat form was on quicker. Equally, she looks sure to have "benefited from a break of one hundred and twenty-five days since her last run" on the basis that she might have actually been trained for race fitness during that time.

The case has been referred to High Holborn, and we'll see what the beaks in town make of it.

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**

An interesting story for a Wednesday in its own right, the Jim Best plot saga is actually a little older than 24 hours or so. Indeed, Best has multiple 'previous' for such coups, almost all with a matching fingerprint.

A quick 'system builder' query for Jim Best-trained, Tony McCoy-ridden horses running in handicap hurdles without a prior win for the trainer reveals a 47% win rate (15 from 32). Amongst this group of horses, all of which received the McCoy assistance for the first time, were the likes of:

6/08 Noble Minstrel  form F0775 - mark of 72 awarded - 58 days off - wins at 4/1

1/09 Rocky Ryan form 005 - mark of 90 awarded - 61 days off - wins at 15/8

6/13 Planetoid form 089F70 - mark of 85 awarded - 169 days off - wins at 5/6

8/13 Sugar Hiccup form 00070P - mark of 79 awarded - 239 days off - wins at 5/6

7/14 Money Money Money form 40P0 -mark of 80 awarded-250 days off-wins at 5/1

8/14 Kiama Bay form 09503 - mark of 104 awarded - 91 days off - wins at 7/4

9/14 Saint Helena form PP9P080 -mark of 82 awarded-125 days off - wins at 11/10

And the similarities don't end there.

Consider Planetoid. This was a horse that was due to be ridden by Mattie Batchelor, a Jim Best stable stalwart, but with a (seemingly) lamentable record of 0 wins from 71 rides for the yard.

What atrocious luck then to experience "car trouble" on the day of Planetoid's success, having ridden him on three of his unsuccessful prior starts. Lucky for connections, at least, that McCoy was there to take the spare mount. Ahem.

Here are the stewards' notes from Planetoid's win after interviewing the trainer about the apparent improvement in form:

The Stewards held an enquiry to consider the apparent improvement in form of the winner, PLANETOID (IRE), ridden by A.P. McCoy, and trained by Jim Best, which had never previously been placed. They interviewed the trainer who stated that the gelding had problems with his jumping last year and has been given a break in order to re-school him over hurdles. He further added that PLANETOID (IRE) was suited by this quicker ground and running for the first time in a handicap. Having heard his evidence they forwarded his explanation to the British Horseracing Authority so that the previous performances of PLANETOID (IRE) could be reviewed. The Stewards ordered the gelding to be routine tested.

And these are the stewards' notes after Sugar Hiccup's win:

The Stewards held an enquiry to consider the apparent improvement in form of the winner, SUGAR HICCUP (IRE), ridden by A.P. McCoy, and trained by Jim Best, which had never previously been placed. They interviewed the trainer’s representative who stated that the mare was suited by the faster ground and, having been off the course for 8 months, had been freshened up. Having heard his evidence they forwarded his explanation to the British Horseracing Authority so that the previous performances of SUGAR HICCUP (IRE) could be reviewed.

Finally, here's Money Money Money's post race stewards chat:

The Stewards held an enquiry to consider the apparent improvement in form of the winner, MONEY MONEY MONEY, ridden by A P McCoy, and trained by Jim Best, compared with its previous run at Fontwell on 13 November 2014 where the mare finished tenth of thirteen, beaten 110 lengths. They interviewed the trainer who stated that the mare had benefited from a break from racing and appeared to appreciate the better ground.

**

What it means for punters...

So a very clear pattern emerges to these Best 'job horses' and, in a racing jurisdiction so heavily based around the art of handicapping, it is a part of the punter's job to be aware of trainer behaviour. Jim Best is not the only exponent of mark manipulation. In fact, some higher profile handlers on the level - Luca Cumani and Sir Mark Prescott, for instance - are positively admired for their ability to 'get one ready'.

When betting in handicaps, punters must ALWAYS be aware of the material differences between today's race and a horse's recent efforts. That's where value lies, perhaps not in heavily gambled animals like Best's, but certainly with the smaller stables who are having a few quid on but passing serenely under the radar.

First time in a handicap always merits attention, especially when combined with a material change in circumstance, such as a step up in trip or markedly differing ground. A break between qualifying for a handicap rating and running in a handicap can also be a sign of expected improvement. After all, if a horse runs a week after qualifying for a mark, that doesn't leave a lot of time to get the beast fit, does it?

A drop in class can often help, as can to a lesser degree the fitting of headgear (especially a hood). These are considerations the smart bettor must make, and they are part of the game. Making those considerations in the microcosm of trainer patterns can be most instructive, and there are no Jim Best's in the list of 'most effective first time in a handicap hurdle after a break'.

No, sir. That list, which in truth probably never existed until now, contains four high profile National Hunt trainers: Nigel Twiston-Davies, Evan Williams, Anthony Honeyball, and Philip Hobbs. How many Class 5 Taunton handicap hurdles do you suppose they've carved up between themselves? And yet, these events pass largely without comment or question.

I guess the key difference is that Best's modus operandi is to take a proven flat performer and 'bugger about' with it to get the mark, whereas the jumps boys are dollying around in novice hurdles and bumpers beforehand. Which is worse, or better? I'm not sure.

What it means for the authorities...

The exaggerated game of cat and mouse between trainers and the official handicappers is one of great importance to the sport, both from an integrity, and from an interest and engagement perspective. And, the truth is that there is very little the authorities can do about things, as they stand.

Jim Best operated within the current rule set.

It is perfectly acceptable for a jockey change to occur when a better option becomes available due to a non-runner in the same race (cf. "25.3.5 the substitute Rider was declared to ride another horse in the same race but the horse is unable to run" from the Rules of Racing).

It is perfectly acceptable for a horse to be self-certificated on account of the ground, or indeed anything else, as long as the trainer does not breach a 15% of declarations threshold (cf. "8.3 For any Trainer, where the rate of non-runners in Jump races measured as a percentage of the Trainer's declarations in Jump races is 15% or more, the Authority may suspend the Trainer's ability to self-certify non-runners in accordance with Rule 97.3 for up to twelve months." from the Rules of Racing).

It is perfectly acceptable for a horse to 'apparently' improve markedly, as long as the trainer or his representative can explain the improvement after the race, should the local stewards deem it appropriate.

To borrow that hackneyed Dickens quote from, I think, Oliver Twist,

If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.

The BHA's eyes have been opened by experience. They are all too aware of the issue here. They spoke to Best both before and after the race; and they are due to call him in again in due course to discuss the matter further. (That said, they're still due to discuss the Planetoid run with him, fifteen months after the race. Perhaps they can discuss them, along with Sugar Hiccup, Money Money Money, and Kiama Bay, as a job lot... with the emphasis on the word 'job').

The key question for the BHA to answer themselves, rather than necessarily bring Best to book, is around the allocation of a handicap mark. It is usual practice for a horse to receive a mark after three runs, if not winning once or placing twice before that time. The handicappers already have discretion to await further evidence, and this discretionary power has been invoked in six of the seven cases mentioned above.

I am led to believe by the twitterati that Saint Helena's seven runs before a rating was allocated constitutes something of a record. But, while that insistence of further evidence is to be admired - and may be the solution to the problem ultimately, at least in part - it is unclear why the 'capper relented after seven inscrutable efforts.

It should be reasonable for the official handicapper to require as many runs as is necessary to give an opening mark or, alternatively, to give a deliberately cautious mark - to the tune of two stone, let's say - in agreement with the trainer. All trainers have a dialogue with the handicappers, and I imagine the next chinwag between David Dickinson, under whose remit most of the above cases fell, and Jim Best will be interesting...

Perhaps a horse should be initially required to run in three handicaps within x% of the race distance of those it raced in to qualify for a mark. That might make it more difficult for trainers to run horses over the wrong trip. Or perhaps a horse must run over the trip for which it is most obviously bred - with a percentage of latitude - prior to being awarded a mark.

These suggestions are somewhat left field, and I'd hate to see any of them introduced for the simple reason that they'd be a triumph of job creation, whilst most likely opening up new loopholes for trainers to figure out and subsequently exploit.

Nope, I think that whilst the governance of self-certification and the allocation of initial handicap ratings can - and must - be improved, the game can - and should - be allowed to continue largely unimpeded by further legislation.

We now all know the hallmarks of a Jim Best punt, so at the very least, the next time one is afoot, we can get involved!

Matt

p.s. what are your thoughts on this most contentious of issues? Leave a comment and let us know.

2015 Scottish Grand National Preview, Trends, Tips

2015 Ayr Scottish Grand National Preview Tips

2015 Scottish Grand National Preview Tips

2015 Scottish Grand National Preview, Trends and Tips

The last of the Nationals is the Scottish Grand National, run at Ayr racecourse, over a distance 110 yards further than four miles. As with many of these extreme handicapping tests, the Scottish National lends itself to a spot of trends analysis, and I've unearthed some interesting data with which to rationalize the 2015 field.

2015 Scottish Grand National Trends

Almost all data is derived from horseracebase.com and covers the eighteen renewals since 1997. Let's begin with the basics... Age, Weight, Last Time Out

Age: Although every winner since 1996 was aged between seven and eleven, the two immediately prior to that were twelve and six respectively. Moreover, the number of older/younger runners in the race is small, and their place to runs ratio is at least competitive with the perceived 'optimal age range'. This looks a red herring, and isn't worthy of consideration. (Only the six-year-old Royal Player is outside of the 7/11 range, and he's no worse than numerically disadvantaged).

Weight: Another over-played 'trend'. It is often noted that most winners were weighted 11-03 or lower. However, look more closely and you'll see that most runners were also weighted 11-03 or lower. Indeed, since 1997, 15 of the 18 winners carried no more than that figure. That's 83% of the winners. Alas for lazy trend-noters, those five-sixths of the winners came from nigh on nine-tenths of the runners (89.3%).

If more evidence was needed - hint, it's not - let's look at the place data. Those weighted 11-03 or below bagged 61 of the 71 available places (86%), but that was from 368 of the 412 runners since 1997 (89%). That's an place strike rate of 16.6%.

The heavier group - carrying 11-04 or more - won three and placed ten times. From just 44 runners. That's 17% winners, and 14% places, from 10.7% of the runners. And the place strike rate in the group is 22.7%, which compares favourably with the 16.6% place strike rate of the lighter-weighted horses.

We saw with the Grand National just last Saturday the folly of ignoring a horse on the basis of the lead it's allotted. As with age, the lightweights have a significant numerical advantage in the field - just Sam Winner and Houblon Des Obeaux will lug more than eleven stone - but that doesn't mean they're statistically better off.

Last Time Out: Although this was a buster last year, it actually does seem pertinent to have recorded a competitive finish last time out. Specifically, the data points to a cut off of sixth place. That might seem arbitrary - heck, it may well even be arbitrary - but there is a noticeable depreciation in the prospects of horses that failed to be in the first six to cross the line.

Just one of the 168 horses to finished seventh or worse (or fail to finish) last time out managed to win the Scottish Grand National. That was Al Co, a 40/1 chance, last year. That group of 168 horses represents 40.8% of Scottish National starters since 1997, meaning the other 17 winners (94%) came from 59.2% of the runners.

The place data backs this up, to some degree at least. 55 of the 71 place positions went to horses finishing first to sixth last time out. That's 77.5% of the places from the same 59.2% of the runners.

Despite last year's setback, I'm happy to demand circumstantial evidence of a good run last time, in the form of a top six finish.

Now how about a slightly more left field angle with which to attack the score and ten intended Ayr Nash runners? Try this one for size...

Class Move: The top of the market for this race tends to feature unexposed novice or second season chasers more often than not. But the actual race winners have often been plying their trade for longer, and generally in lower grade, than the vaunted novice brigade. Whilst the likes of Godsmejudge (2013) and Joes Edge (2005) have landed the spoils, before that we go back to Paris Pike in 2000 and Earth Summit in 1994 to identify the last four novice winners of the race.

No, I'll politely decline the fashionable profile of an up-and-comer in favour of a more streetwise slugger, albeit usually at a class peg or two below the over-bet boys. Oh, sorry, I was forgetting myself. How about the evidence?

Those stepping up to this Grade 3 contest from Class 2 or Class 3 last time out have won 16 of the 18 renewals since 1997 (88.9%) from just 53.4% of the runners (220/412). I found that snippet fascinating. Keep in mind that this includes the likes of Joes Edge, who won a Class 2 novice chase at the Aintree meeting prior to scoring here. And when Godsmejudge ran third in the 2013 National Hunt Chase that too was a Class 2 novice chase.

The ceaseless expansion of the Pattern means both of those races have now been elevated in class, so the position on novices and class moves is moot for now. But still, four wins in 21 years is hardly a robust trend, especially in light of the counter-argument for the older mob.

Quonky, eh?

So if I was looking for a trendy type, I'd side with a horse stepping up in class from a top six finish last time out. That's not a profile for the Ayr National you'll have heard before, but it would have netted you 15 of the last 18 winners (83%), and 39 of the 71 places (55%), from just 38% of the runners. Those are numbers I personally like. Very much.

The downside is that you'd be backing roughly nine horses each year, which is not to everyone's tastes. And your nine picks last year would have got to ate pea soup. Or, poor punning aside, a form string of 8PPPPPPPP. Unsexy.

Against that, your four in 2013 would have nailed the winner and third; and, though perming thirteen in combi trifectas is a game of incremental gains even for shrewdies, a 15/2-25/1-40/1 trio paying £13,532.10 pays for a few losers... (It's 1,716 lines in case you were wondering).

A 1-3-4 from eleven picks in 2011 would have been painful, and might have put even the doughtiest of combi trifecta boxers off stride for that monster payout the following year. And I won't even mention the twenty-five grand trifecta in 2010, mainly because it was secure from no less than eighteen of the field!!!

So the question is, who does that leave this year? Well, before I answer that, I should say that I was inclined to leave those top six finishers from the National Hunt Chase in the reckoning. But I decided against it, because the class elevation has come as a consequence of the removal of a previous rating ceiling. In other words, better horses are allowed to enter the race now, and the better horses tend to come to the fore. Those better horses are higher rated and have not (yet) shown themselves to be commensurately competitive in the Scottish National. Ye follow?

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Right, as we were then, and I've a not especially shortlist of ten: Milborough, Yes Tom, Samstown, Wayward Prince, Harry The Viking, Amigo, Carli King, Man With Van, Drop Out Joe, and likely drop out, second reserve Carrigdhoun.

2015 Scottish Grand National Form Preview

we'll look at the form in two parts. Firstly, those near the head of the market will be considered, and then I'll sift through the trendier types, according to my somewhat skeletal interpretation of what they are. It's 10/1 the field and many bookmakers are paying out five places, so any win or place will be worth having.

The favourite in most lists is Gallant Oscar, third in the Festival Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last time out. He's trained by Tony Martin, an Irish handicap plotter with few peers. But the Irish have a lamentable record in the race: no wins and just two places since 1997, from 18 runners (small sample, granted). Indeed, so far as I can establish, there hasn't been an Irish winner of the Scottish Grand National since it moved from Bogside to Ayr in 1966.

Ignoring the historical, and focusing more firmly on form, Gallant Oscar is inexperienced over fences with just four starts to his name. While on the one hand that gives scope for upside, on the other he's already a stone higher than his peak hurdle mark. Moreover, the going - likely to be good (and perhaps, unofficially, good to firm) is a complete unknown. At the price, and with Tony McCoy having opted to ride something else (though that horse, Benvolio, has been withdrawn due to the ground), he's not for me.

Broadway Buffalo and Catching On are the next pair, both 12/1 shots.

Broadway Buffalo ran a stormer in the National Hunt Chase to be beaten a length and a half by Cause Of Causes. But, while he's won on good ground before, that was in a bumper - no jumping required - and over obstacles his record is a less attractive 884. Although I don't know for sure, it's not unreasonable to assume a horse named 'Buffalo' is on the large side, and his overall predilection for sodden conditions (all six other wins on soft or heavy) lends credence to the nominal suspicion.

Catching On is a third novice at the top of the market, and he was oh so impressive at Exeter when fair lagging up on heavy ground. The form of both that run and his prior win over A Good Skin has worked out really well, and a fall in the Midlands National may have done him a favour, coming fairly early as it did. However, that winning form was on soft and heavy. Comfort comes from the fact that Catching On's sole run on good was a win, at Southwell in a novice handicap hurdle, and he looks more likely to cope with quicker than the others mentioned so far.

If his jumping stands the test, he's a player, and may yet get the services of Tony McCoy.

Sego Success is yet another novice in the race, and is 14/1 fourth choice. Trained by Alan King, he's following the same handler's Godsmejudge's route, by running well in the National Hunt Chase before attempting a win here. Godsmejudge managed that, but he was more stoutly bred - my Beneficial stats are worth repeating here: at distances beyond 3m4f, Beneficial progeny are 1 from 78. That one winner was the stallion's very first horse to attempt the marathon distance, G V A Ireland, who won the Midlands National in 2006. 0 from 77 since then.

Of course, there have been placed horses since, but Sego Success travelled really well at Cheltenham and emptied out like a non-stayer. It's possible that the easier track at Ayr and the quicker ground will enable him to see it out, and it's even possible that he'll win (of course), but he's not for me at 14/1 with that breeding reservation.

Last year's winner, Al Co, is taking support for the in form Peter Bowen stable. We know he stays and we know he goes on the track. And, with a season geared heavily to Aintree's Grand National, he's had a relatively easy time of it thus far. Indeed, that stroll through the term was extended when he dumped rider Denis O'Regan off at the the very first fence. He's in here off just five pounds higher than last year, and though that would have been enough to beat him then, it might not be now.

The record of Aintree quick returners is terrible, but not many of those fell at the first!

I had a fairly strong fancy for Lie Forrit last year, but horlicksed and bungled his way round before pulling up. He's been in excellent form since, winning his last two in marathon events, both on deep ground. He does have form on good ground, however, and cannot be discounted on that score. Further, his jumping seems much improved this term. And, quirkily, this 3m5f winner's damsire is Beneficial, perhaps undermining the aforementioned stat.

But still... I can't erase the memory of his errant effort last year when arriving in similarly good form, and I suspect it will all happen a bit too quick and too crowded for him. Not for me, not this time, though he'd be the one I haven't backed which would bring me most joy to see win.

We're firmly into the 16/1 shots now, and top weight Sam Winner is in their midst. Good ground and a flat track is no issue to him. Nor is soft and an undulating circuit, such is his admirable versatility, and a horse good enough to run in the Gold Cup last time was good enough to win the Aintree Grand National this season.

That one, Many Clouds, benefited from discretionary handicapping, however, and this one doesn't. That translates to a leaden impost of 11-12, with only Houblon Des Obeaux within a stone of his lumpy burden. Weight stops trains, they say, and in more everyday parlance it stops plenty of good horses. And yet, we know that if a horse is good enough when lining up for the Ayr Nash, weight will not stop it. Grey Abbey, Young Kenny and Belmont King all won this carrying 11-10 or more since 1997, so it can be done. None of that trio pulled up in the race the previous year, mind.

A trends buster that just has to be a player is Trustan Times. High enough class, he was third to Al Co last year, and after a targeted campaign returns two pounds lower than then. He looks to have been laid out for this, his only chase run in his last three being a fine fifth in the Haydock National Trial. That was sandwiched between a pair of fitness-retaining hurdle spins, and he wasn't really put in to that heavy ground Haydock contest, according to my binoculars at least. With top of the ground known to suit, 16/1 for five places looks all right.

Enough already of the market principals. Time for the profile squad. Let's start with Milborough, a winner of two of his last three including the Eider Chase last time over this trip (give or take a hundred yards) and on this ground (give or take a millimetre or two of the wet stuff). His handicap chase wins have come off marks of 129 and 134, and he's ten pounds higher for that last day win. Although he was getting on top at the end, ten pounds in this context looks a lot. He's 18/1 if you disagree.

Yes Tom is next in the weights, representing those wily Crawford's (along with another trend shortlister, Man With Van). Although they're based in Northern Ireland (Co. Antrim), they send so many runners to Britain - Scotland especially - that they could almost be considered locals. Yes Tom moved to his current barn this time last year and made an immediate impact when winning a chase at Down Royal. But a subsequent thumping in the Scottish National last year suggests stamina is lacking for this four miler. He comes to the party in similarly good form this year, but has done nothing to enhance his prospects of getting home. 33/1 with the sponsors, Coral.

Samstown is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, he's a course winner on good to soft, so track and ground should be at least okay. Second, five of his six wins have come at beyond three miles (though none beyond 3m3f). He was given a nice little run over hurdles last time to put him spot on without necessarily impacting his chase mark and, though he's six pounds higher than his last (and highest) winning rating, he's still improving as an eight year old. He comes here fresher than most, too, with just five starts this term. The 25/1 is being nibbled.

If Samstown is still improving, Wayward Prince most certainly is not. Now eleven, he won the Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle five years ago, but like many Sefton winners, his career didn't really go on from there. Good ground is a must for him, which he'll get here, and while the trip is an unknown he's in as good a form as he's been for some time. That's largely thanks to the leniency of the handicapper, who has dropped Wayward Prince from a perch of 155 in December 2013 to 137. (He actually sunk to 126, but then dotted up in the Grimthorpe (3m2f, good ground). There's no question there are worse 33/1 shots in this field.

I love this one: Harry The Viking. Like Wayward Prince, he's not getting any younger, and his recent propensity for running up has meant he's been elevated most of a stone for not winning. Such is the handicapping game, and unfortunately, personal sentiment aside, it's hard to see a horse winning in that context, though I have huge respect for both the horse, and his shrewd Borders trainer, Sandy Thomson.

Another old mate, Amigo did me a very good turn when winning at Chepstow two years ago. He looked a horse on the up and up that day, but is 'only' a stone higher now with ten further runs under his belt. Still, that's hardly regression, and he does have abundant stamina. A win on good to soft (at this track) and a solid second last time over 3m3f at Newbury on good suggest he'll cope with conditions, too, and he is another of interest at 25/1.

Not many more to come under the Geegeez microscope, with the next being Carli King. Caroline Bailey is not in the best form at the moment, but this chap has plenty to like. Two easy wins at trips beyond three and a half miles on top of the ground bookended a disappointing effort at Catterick over a similar range. It is entirely possible that the middle run came too soon after the first of the three - just 13 days later - and, if that's the case, then this boyo has brighter prospects than a general quote of 33/1 implies.

The wins were facile. Both of them. By fifteen lengths, eased down; and by eleven lengths, heavily eased. True, he's stormed up the weights as a result of those victories, but he needed to, and gets in here with ten stone, and just a pound out of the handicap proper.

He goes from the front, which is no bad thing in this race - six of the last eight winners were no worse than midfield early. He probably does need to lead - all wins when he's led - and there's a pretty good chance of that, with only Lie Forrit a confirmed front runner in this field.

Stuart Crawford's other runner is Man With Van. He was just a head away from a three and a half mile win last time, and is an experienced novice with seven chase starts to date. He had a sighter of the track a month ago and looks to have been primed for this most of the season. I question whether he's quite good enough, though.

Drop Out Joe completes the preview. Another novice, with flat track good ground form to his name, he's not without a chance. He'll be Charlie Longsdon's first runner in the race, and he's only two pounds out of the handicap. Certainly capable of better than he's shown thus far, he's more lightly raced than most this season (and overall). With two wins from 13 career starts, and another five places, he's the sort of plodder who could keep on running a la Forrest Gump and may conceivably be good enough to outrun them all.

2015 Scottish Grand National Tips

As you'd expect in a thirty runner big prize handicap chase, there are lots with chances. On pure form, I quite like the look of Trustan Times, for whom conditions will be spot on and who has been managed into this well.

And from the trendy types, I'd be happy to take a trio of swings with Samstown, Amigo and Carli King. All look to have the requisite stamina, and all have fair allocations of weight in relation to their overall form profiles. Most importantly, all look to offer value in a race that has returned winners at 66/1, 40/1, 33/1, 20/1 and 18/1 in the past decade.

1 pt win Carli King 33/1 general

1 pt e/w Trustan Times 16/1 general (look for FIVE places)

0.5 pt e/w Samstown 25/1 general (look for FIVE places)

0.5 pt e/w Amigo 25/1 general (look for FIVE places)

5 points staked

**

Two quick lines, as well as the above:

1. Chasing Tomorrow, the juvenile in which I have a share and about which I blogged here, makes his debut tonight. We're hopeful but not expectant. Everything is crossed!

2. Geegeez Gold is in great form. Stat of the Day has had three good winners already this week, and is +22.5 points in April. The Shortlist found five winners from five races two days ago, the acc'a paying 1841/1.

Gold race cards are the very best available in Britain - according to hundreds of users - and the overall service offering (tips, reports, cards, form tools, tracker) is unbeatable value at £24 a month. Better still, you can test drive it for two weeks for just £5.

STOP PRESS: Opening Batsman's win this afternoon has nudged the monthly Stat of the Day profit up to +25.8. That's £258 for £10 stakes. An ANNUAL subscription to Geegeez Gold costs £197. You do the math... 😉

TRIAL GOLD FOR TWO WEEKS FOR A FIVER HERE

Good luck!

Matt

Stat of the Day, 27th May 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 27th May 2014

We needed every ounce of Richard Hughes' know-how to get home yesterday. He switched Links Drive Lady inside and grabbed the rail moments before the penny dropped with the other jockeys.

This enabled our horse to take the lead inside the final furlong, a lead she dourly held on to, winning eventually by just a short head at 9/2, a full point shorter than advised.

So, profit ensured for the week, let's try to build on it with the...

7.20 Huntingdon:

Where you can currently get 11/4 BOG with SkyBet for AP McCoy's mount Parlour Games, who is not only making his NH debut after winning 4 of 15 races on the flat/AW, but is also running for new trainer John Ferguson for the first time.

1. To date, John Ferguson has a record of 16 winners from the 53 horses sent off at 12/1 or shorter on their first run for his yard, since coming in from other yards with at least 4 runs under their belts. This 30.2% strike rate has, so far, returned profits of 11.63pts (+21.94% ROI) from a 1 pt level stake, whilst the record at 4/1 or shorter reads as 15 winners from 43 for 6.72pts (+15.63% ROI).

2. The booking of AP McCoy is interesting too. There very few profitable micro-systems that revolve around the champion jockey, but...

...if you back him on horses priced at 6/1 or under in non-handicap hurdle races at 2m1f or shorter, there is a trend worth following. Over the last four years, there have been 333 such qualifying bets and if you had placed a £10 bet on each of them, your bank balance would be £925 better off, an ROI of some 27.8%.

Not bad for following someone who generally offers little value from a betting perspective. This is because 133 (40% SR) of the 333 have gone on to win. He's more profitable on those sent off in the 5/2 to 6/1 region (our usual SotD betting zone) with a 45/151 (29.8% SR) record producing 79.24pts (+52.5% ROI), but it's borderline whether Parlour Games will stay at 5/2 or higher.

3. Although this is the horses first effort in this sphere of racing and has such has no official rating to work from, he has won off a mark of 89 on the flat and competed in Listed class off 97, before eventually rising as high as 99. So technically, if not exactly, Parlour Games now runs off a mark lower than his last winning effort and John Ferguson has a good record with hurdlers running below their last winning mark after a run of at least five defeats (this horse hasn't won in six starts!).

His record with those horses is 11 wins from 25 (44% SR) for 42.7pts (+171% ROI) profit, but more tellingly (perhaps), that record with horses who haven't run over hurdles before is 5 wins from 11 for 18.53pts profit.

4. John Ferguson's overall record in non-handicap hurdles here at Huntingdon is good, too: 7 winners from 27 equates to a 25.9% strike rate and the resultant 17.3pts profit are the same as 64.1% of all stakes.

Today might be Parlour Games' first run over hurdles and his first run for his new yard, but he really couldn't have gone to a better home and he's got the best pilot on board. There will, of course, be doubts over his race-fitness after a nine-months absence from racing, but if ready enough, he should see out the trip fairly comfortably.

Speed between the hurdles shouldn't be an issue, he has won four races at distances ranging from 8.5f up to 14f and was considered good enough to run in two Listed races, after winning at Class 2 level.

There's enough to keep us interested there and I feel pretty confident that I'll be going back to the well to collect on my 1pt win bet on Parlour Games at 11/4 BOG with Skybet (just reinvesting one point of yesterday's 5.5pts profit!). Betfred are also offering the same price, as you'll see for yourself, as soon as you...

...click here for the latest betting on the 7.20 Huntingdon

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REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 19th May 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 19th May 2014

Saturday was a strange, but pleasing conclusion to a bit of a topsy-turvy week here at SotD. After a run of unsuccessful selections, we bounced back to form, culminating in Barkston Ash's repeat win for us on Saturday.

He won for us on 17th April and then again on 17th May, so keep an eye out for him on 17th June 😀 , as it was I'd advised a 5/1 bet, in the belief that I was actually happy with 7/2, so I thought I was stealing a point and a half. As it was, the market didn't fancy him and he got home at 7/1: a really nice bonus.

Monday today and the usual type of fayre to start the week: diplomatically I'll call it mediocre. There are possibles at Windsor, but there's no value in the prices, there are the regular USA-bred runners at Southwell, but too many qualifiers with similar profiles running against each other, so I've finally settled on a little bit of a punt in the...

3.10 Towcester:

Sometimes we run with smaller sample sizes than normal to try to identify trends/stats and we hope that they are true trends and not just numerical coincidences. That's the case today, whereby the percentages look plenty good enough for SotD, but we're working from a smaller / more recent basis for analysis.

To this end, I'm backing Lion On The Prowl at 6/1 BOG with SkyBet for this Class 5 hurdle over the minimum trip.

1. Lion On The Prowl is trained by Mrs Alex Dunn, who some of you might not have heard much about. In fact she has only had 97 runners in her short training career, but when her "jumpers" have a bit of market support they tend to go well. With her sub-10/1 runners, she has saddled up 11 winners from 41 (26.8% SR) for level stakes profits of 21.3pts (+51.9% ROI) and if we discount/discard those priced below 5/2 (I don't often go lower than that for SotD!),  we end up with a record of 7/29 (24.1% SR) for 25.7pts (+88.7% ROI) profits.

(From the final subset of 29 runners, hurdlers are 5/17 for 23.5pts profit!)

2. Lion On The Prowl has an eyecatching jockey booking in the shape of champion jockey AP McCoy, who is certainly more than capable of getting this horse home. Now we all know about AP's thousands of wins over the years and we all know that it's largely unprofitable to follow him blindly, but there are a couple of worthwhile angles we could pursue with the Champ.

In fact, over the last four years, if you'd followed him in 2m non-handicap hurdles contests, you'd have landed 89 winners from 239 bets (37.2% SR) and resultant profits of 47.1pts, or 19.7% of stakes. We can then further refine this according to the odds of the horses he has ridden...

At 12/1 or under: 79/204 (38.7% SR) for 69.5pts (+34.1% ROI)
At 6/1 or under: 75/174 (43.1% SR) for 57.0pts (+32.7% ROI)
At 6/1 or under: 70/149 (47.0% SR) for 45.9pts (+30.8% ROI), you can see a successful pattern emerging.

3. Lion On The Prowl is currently officially rated at 122, but when last hurdling regularly a couple of years ago was in the 130 to 134 range. He's been off chasing since and recently won a point to point race to sharpen him up. He's an interesting proposition back over over hurdles and if he can regain some of his old form, the booking of AP could prove genius.

I think the market is set up for a possible "steal" today and at 6/1 BOG with SkyBet, you could take the E/W option, but they say that fortune favours the brave, so I'm all in with a 1pt win bet on Lion On The Prowl at 6/1 BOG with SkyBet

For all the other firms' prices, simply...

...click here for the latest betting on the 3.10 Towcester

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REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard.

P.S. Moments after I went to press, Stan James also offered 6/1 BOG!

Stat of the Day, 4th February 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 4th February 2014

Our 16/1 shot Leith Hill Legasi could only finish 5th yesterday and whilst that doesn't look too bad a result from a long odds E/W bet, the truth is that he never looked like getting placed and the fact he finished 33 lengths adrift of the third-placed horse tells you more about how close he was to netting us some profit!

More soft ground action today, as we head to Lincolnshire for a more realistic proposition in the...

3.50 Market Rasen:

Steve Gollings' horses are going pretty well at the moment, even if they're not quite setting the world on fire. A strike rate of 20% over the month and some 53% of his runners making the frame isn't a bad return at all.

He has a good recent record here at Market Rasen. In the last two years, his jumpers (not bumpers!) have won seven of the fifteen races they've competed in, when sent off at odds between Evens and 6/1. That's an excellent strike rate of 46.7% which has rewarded his followers with a profit of some 22.62pts in that time: that's a return of 150.8% above stakes invested.

Steve has two runners here today: Ballinderry really looks up against it at 25/1 BOG in the 2.50 race, but our selection goes an hour later, when "The Champ" rides Honest John. Mr Gollings doesn't get to use the services of AP McCoy very often, but when they team up they have a great record together.

Since 2010, they have teamed up with 23 horses, netting 10 winners and 5 places for a win strike rate of 43.5% yielding level stakes profits of 16.9pts, or 73.4% of stakes. Their joint record here at Market Rasen is 3 winners and a place from 6 efforts for 6.38pts (+106.3% ROI). That's with no filters imposed or anything.

All 10 of those winners came from the 21 runners priced below 9/1, which improves the figures a little more and the record here reads 12411 for 7.38pts profit.

Honest John has already won a couple of races on soft ground in the past and although he hasn't actually won at today's 2m6.5f trip, he stays all day and has won at 3m and beyond in the past.

He looked to be getting back to his best form when finishing third at Doncaster over 3 miles five weeks ago, but was disappointing last time out at that same track three weeks later. He actually led for much of both od those races, but faded late on and the drop back in trip today allied to the booking of AP McCoy make this race a much more viable option for him.

We're able to get a decent price here today, thanks to the presence of Divine Intavention, who was runner up to Salsify in the Foxhunter at Cheltenham last year and is probably the best horse in this race. He has been off the track for almost nine months now and it's more than possible he'll need the run and has to go from the same mark as last time out when beaten at Fontwell.

All of which means that today's advice is a 1pt win bet on Honest John at 4/1 BOG with PP. BetVictor are also offering the same price, so why not...

Click here for the latest betting on the 3.50 Market Rasen

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Here is today's racecard!

Stat of the Day, 17th December 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 17th December 2013

Makethe Mostofnow was sent off at 15/2 (from our advised 10/1) and although he never looked like troubling the winner, he did stay on well to snatch 3rd on the run in.

We'd gone E/W about a horse who loves the tough going at Ffos Las and he netted us a small, but welcome 0.5pts profit from the race: a sum I'd settle for every day if truth be told.

Today's quest for profit leads us to the...

3.10 Catterick:

Irish trainer Stuart Crawford has a remarkable record in bumper races with 18 winners from 57 runners since May 2009. That represents a strike rate of almost 31.6% and has produced level stakes profits of some 44.27pts, or 77.67 pence in the pound!

There's no big winner skewing the returns there either, as his record with runners priced at 6/1 or under is 16 wins from 38 (42.1% SR) for 40.87pts (+107.55% ROI). And from those 38 runners, four have raced here at Catterick at odds of 6/1 or under, finishing 1212 for 4.5pts profit.

Stuart is represented is this contest by Beatu, who showed plenty of promise when 3rd over this course and distance on his debut under Rules thirteen days ago. He was held up for a run that day before staying on well to finish five lengths shy of the winner. he'd have got much closer had he raced a little more prominently.

That said, he still put 7 lengths daylight between himself and the next horse home. The booking of "the Champ" AP McCoy is interesting here for sure. I'm pretty certain that his amateur handler gave it his best shot last time out, but I'd expect better with AP doing the driving on a horse sure to have benefited from the run over course and distance.

Beatu is a half-brother to the useful Dani California who won four times over today's trip, including the 2009 Irish Cesarewitch. He definitely needs to improve to land that first victory, but conditions seem right for him here.

I'm staking a 1pt win bet on Beatu and I'm taking the 7/2 BOG on offer from SkyBet (this is also available at BetVictor), but as always the advice is to...

Click here for the latest betting on the 3.10 Catterick

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Here is today's racecard!

Sunday Supplement: 4000, BC (and Donny)

AP McCoy with Pipe and Johnson in the old days

AP McCoy with Pipe and Johnson in the good old days

Sunday supplement

By Tony Stafford

Not much happened in the past two weeks, just the Breeders’ Cup, AP McCoy’s 4,000th winner and the end of the 2013 Flat-race season at Doncaster on Saturday.

I suppose pride of place must go to AP, a man who until his 3,000th win or thereabouts would have qualified for Mr Grumpy, such was his unwavering ambition and drive above all else. But like so many driven characters, a happy marriage and two doted-on children have transformed him.

Where once there was apparent disdain, now there is an awareness of his role that almost single-handed has given racing a focal point. Much praise should also heap on Great British Racing, who helped orchestrate the final push to 4,000 and kept the press and TV fully informed and helped develop the public’s awareness.

Your first 30 days for just £1

McCoy’s embracing of the event at Towcester, with family at the forefront before he painstakingly excused himself to weigh in – “I’ll be straight back” – and then the celebrations with JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill, the pair who have accelerated the momentum for this unique character’s latter active years as a jockey.

Then it was off to the Outside Chance in Manton village, a pub I know better than almost any other since my Fleet Street days at any rate, where AP’s celebrants included Toby Balding, the man who brought him across from Ireland all those years ago from Jim Bolger’s yard; and Martin Pipe, the ideal collaborator in many of his championship seasons.

Pipe and his main patron, the late David Johnson, with McCoy were an irresistible trio for many years and it was a poignant moment on Saturday at Wincanton when David’s old colours were carried to victory by Standing Ovation, trained by David Pipe on a day when McCoy set off on his fifth thousand with yet another winner at the same track.

Johnson chose a reverse version of the late Robert Sangster’s colours and such was his success that they were more often visible than Sangster’s in the prime Pipe years. Strangely, McCoy, a non-drinker, is now a partner in the Outside Chance with Robert’s son Guy as well as Howard Spooner. The pub is just a five-minute drive from the Sangster family’s Manton estate.

Toby Balding’s health has not been brilliant, but as well as joining the McCoy celebrations, he was fit enough to make it to Doncaster where his Astral Hall ran in the Listed fillies’ race. It was an awful day and my choice to leave the sports jacket in the car and don the raincoat despite sunny conditions at midday, paid a big dividend.

The ground was desperate, but with winners like Jack Dexter and the William Haggas-trained Conduct, who ran away with the November Handicap as the trainer ended like Andrew Balding with his first century, it was quite a classy day.

There was quite a feel-good factor too. Doncaster’s big days bring out the locals who generally dress very well especially in the top enclosure and it was heaving with people. One thing for sure is that young females of this generation have much longer legs than their predecessors – ask trainer Ian Williams, who cast an approving eye on at least one set as I happened to be walking past.

The Breeders’ Cup was sensational. When I used to tag along with the Thoroughbred Corporation a decade and more ago, two of my regular comrades were Willie Carson, European racing manager to Prince Ahmed bin Salman and Gary Stevens, the stable jockey in the US.

Gary, who also spent time in England with Sir Michael Stoute and then in France, has had a long and involved career, but now aged 50, he has come back from seven years’ retirement, a brilliant acting role in Seabiscuit and a TV pundit’s career to win the Classic and the other big race - the Distaff - on Beholder on the Santa Anita card.

Willie was there too, winning with partners Christopher Wright and Ellie Asprey via the Charlie Hills-trained Chriselliam in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, with Richard Hughes in the saddle.

Ryan Moore had a fair couple of days too, especially with his riding of Magician in the Turf race. Of Britain’s four best-known current jockeys, only Frankie Dettori missed out following that freak injury at Nottingham which cost him big-race wins on Treve and Olympic Glory.

I don’t know whether Hughesie is too bothered about football, but I do know that AP, Ryan and Frankie will all be cheering in the same direction as me as Manchester United try to stave off the Arsenal juggernaut this afternoon. The worry for me is that United often get a penalty – a la Chelsea – and we have someone sent off, maybe Flamini? Can’t wait, whatever the outcome.

Trainer Stats: 31th Oct 2013

JONJOWith the jumping action starting to hot up Andy Newton’s got 5 NH stables to look out for at the moment…… Read more

Sat TV Trends: 6th April 2013

Grand National

It's GRAND NATIONAL Day..........

It's the biggest day on the horse racing calendar this Saturday as Grand National fever sweeps the country - Andy Newton's covered the big race from a trends angle, plus the other LIVE C4 races from Aintree........ Read more

Sat TV Trends: 23rd Mar 2013

Doncaster

It's Lincoln Day At Donny.....

Weather permitting it’s the William Hill Lincoln Handicap this weekend, while the C4 cameras also head to Newbury for a decent NH card – Andy Newton’s got all the key trends & stats...... Read more

Sat TV Trends: 9th Mar 2013

Sandown

Imperial Cup Day At Sandown

The C4 cameras head to Sandown, with the Imperial Cup their feature, plus they are also at Wolverhampton for two races that include the Lincoln Handicap Trial. Read more

Sat TV Trends: 2nd March 2013

Newbury

A Decent Card A Newbury.......

Some decent action this week as the C4 cameras head to Newbury and Doncaster - Andy Newton's got all the TV races covered from a trends angle.... Read more

Sat TV Trends: 15th Dec 2012

Cheltenham

A great card at Cheltenham this Saturday

We've got all this Saturday's LIVE C4 action from Cheltenham and Doncaster covered from a trends and stats angle..... Read more

Trainer Stats: 4th Dec 2012

Harry Fry Making A Name For Himself

See which batch of trainers have made it onto Andy Newton’s ‘hot-list’ this week....... Read more