Tag Archive for: Beverley

Shareholder accounts for Beverley rivals – and ‘plenty good enough’ for Ascot

Shareholder propelled himself into Royal Ascot contention with a hard-fought victory in the bet365 Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes at Beverley.

The son of American sire Not This Time – whose progeny includes Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter – cost €460,000 at the Arqana breeze-up sale last month and was making a speedy racecourse bow in the colours of Wathnan Racing.

Sent off the 6-4 favourite, jockey James Doyle had plenty to contend with early on as Shareholder was slow to jump before taking a keen hold.

Once he got a bit of cover, Karl Burke’s charge found his stride and he switched to the middle of the track to launch his run around a furlong from home.

Moving Force was not going to go down without a battle though and despite having to concede 7lb to the winner, he made Shareholder pull out all the stops with just a short head separating them at the line.

Betfair make Shareholder the 4-1 second-favourite for the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Aidan O’Brien’s Whistlejacket the 7-4 favourite.

“I’m relieved as much as anything, he’s a horse with a big reputation and he was very good at the breeze-ups, but the breeze-ups are a long way from galloping two furlongs on a flat track to five furlongs up a hill here,” said Burke, speaking on the track’s X feed.

“We knew we had a good horse, but it’s nice to get the job done and I’m delighted with his attitude.

“We’ve only had him three weeks, we haven’t had a good run at him really and we haven’t got a lot of time going into Ascot. Today was just planning to see if he was good enough to go to Ascot – we thought he was on his home work and I think he’s just shown there that’s he’s plenty good enough.”

Doyle was equally impressed: “He was a little tardily away and they were going quick in the first few hundred yards, they ripped along and they got a bit of a break on me but we were just keen to try to make it as smooth as possible with him.

“He’s quite racy this fellow and when he got a slow start, he just fired up a little bit and took time to settle back into a rhythm. He moved into the race super and when he popped his head in front, he just got a bit lost and jumped the winning line but I was pretty happy he was always going to hold off the other runner.

“Obviously (the second) had experience and it was our first day at school, so you’d have to be pleased.”

Doyle admitted Not This Time is a new name to him.

“He’s by a stallion I must say I have no real knowledge of really, other than what the form book tells you and he was obviously a high-class horse just beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt. He is a smart-looking horse,” he told Racing TV.



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Perfect performance sees Ellison filly land Hilary Needler – at odds of 125-1

Perfect Part was a shock 125-1 winner of the Hilary Needler Trophy EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Beverley for trainer Brian Ellison.

The daughter of Mehmas was making her racecourse debut in the five-furlong contest after being bought for £10,000 at the breeze-ups back in April, but she made no mistake under Cam Hardie.

Favourite Maw Lam had endured a nightmare run after missing the break and getting stuck at the back in the early exchanges before Paddy Mathers managed to weave his way through, hitting the front inside the distance on the stands side.

However, Cam Hardie snuck up his inside on Perfect Part and she kept finding for pressure to prevail by half a length, with the rest of the field two and a quarter lengths or more behind.

The winning rider told Racing TV: “The owner (Keith Brown) filled me with confidence and said ‘if you’re out there to win, get stuck in but if she isn’t good enough, there’ll be another day’. The boss (Ellison) was the same as well, just see how you run first time, surprises happen and you’ve got to be in it to win it.

“She does well with her work at home and she’s not short of speed and was very professional today first time out and she got the job done.

“I was kicking myself about two furlongs out when nothing was taking me into the race, but it opened up lovely and probably helped me because she was a little bit green when she hit the front. I kind of got a tow a little bit further and it helped me out.”



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Force aiming to make Beverley impact

The red-hot Richard Fahey will attempt to land the bet365 Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes for the second year running when he saddles Moving Force at Beverley on Saturday.

The Musley Bank handler has won this with Summer Sands (2019) and Bombay Bazaar (2023) in recent years with both marching on to run at Royal Ascot and he could have another above-average juvenile on his hands judged by his taking debut at the track last month.

The son of Mehmas was always in control over the same five furlongs he faces here and his handler is taking plenty of encouragement from that performance ahead of this step into deeper waters.

“We were very pleased with him on debut, he’s a quick horse and he’s entitled to improve for that,” said Fahey.

“He does have to give weight all round which feels a bit unfair, but that’s life.

“He’s a very nice colt, we like him and we’ll find out if he’s an Ascot horse after this.”

Moving Force’s biggest danger could be Karl Burke’s newcomer Shareholder, who carries a big reputation having been recently purchased for €460,000 and has been delighting connections in the lead up to his racecourse bow.

“He was bought from the Arqana breeze-up so it is quite a quick turnaround, but when we bought him I said to Karl ‘let’s give him a chance of being an Ascot horse’,” said Richard Brown, racing adviser to owners Wathnan Racing.

“Karl hasn’t had him very long but he is very happy and did a serious piece of work the other day.

“It’s quite a quick turnaround but the horse is screaming he is ready to run. Let’s hope he is and I’ll be nervous watching, but I think he is definitely a nice horse.

Karl Burke is in great form
Karl Burke is in great form (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s a tough race and if it doesn’t happen that is absolutely fine. It will be good to get him out and get him started.

“I’ve worked with Karl for a while and when you are buying some of these sharp types, he is an obvious name to drop in the hat to train these breeze-up horses.”

Pontefract winner Regal Gem carries a similar profile to Moving Force having struck an encouraging blow on debut and will represent Tony Coyle and Kaine Wood, while John and Sean Quinn’s Jm Jhingree was tough when opening his account at Redcar and could enjoy this stiff sprint test.

Craig Lidster’s first timer Horus completes the select group of five heading to post.



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Aviation Time ready to take off in Hilary Needler

Aviation Time has the chance to play herself on to Richard Hughes’ Royal Ascot teamsheet when she takes flight in the Hilary Needler Trophy EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Beverley.

One of the highlights of the year on the Westwood, the race eluded Hughes during his time in the weighing room but he could have the ideal candidate to get on the roll of honour as a trainer.

Aviation Time made the perfect start to her on-track career at Kempton, keeping on well to strike over six furlongs.

Unsure if she has what it takes to land a blow in the Queen Mary Stakes at the Royal meeting, her trainer is keen to use this as a stepping stone to test the waters ahead of future assignments.

Hughes said: “She’s done nothing wrong so far and I think she has improved since her run at Kempton, which will give her a bit of a chance.

“She’s drawn 10 which isn’t ideal, but I have a very good jockey on board (James Doyle) and hopefully she will overcome that.

“She was a slow burner really and we weren’t thinking she would run that well first time out, but she went and won really well. She’s definitely improved since then and is a nice filly.

“I didn’t think she was a Queen Mary winner and this was the other option, but if she was to run well or win this, then maybe we can have a think about backing her up again at Ascot. It’s a nice stepping stone for her.”

Aviation Time is owned by Steve Parkin’s Bronte Collection syndicates, with Karl Burke’s Windsor scorer Storm Call another to sport their colours.

Trainer Karl Burke (right) will saddle two in the Hilary Needler
Trainer Karl Burke (right) will saddle two in the Hilary Needler (Steven Paston for the Jockey Club/PA)

Spigot Lodge handler Burke is also responsible for the Nick Bradley Racing-owned Invincible Annice, who like Storm Call, heads to the Westwood on the back of victory.

Invincible Annice was beaten by Adrian Keatley’s Chantilly hero Francisco’s Piece on debut before proving successful in a seller only seven days ago and is highly rated by her team ahead of this attempt in deeper company.

“We nearly went for the Listed race in France that Francisco’s Piece won and if he had not have gone to France, we probably would have,” explained Nick Bradley.

“I didn’t really want to run her in the seller but it was a good opportunity to win £10,000. We had to pay £4,000 to buy her back and still won £6,500 so it was nice enough and I think she will have a good chance at Beverley.”

Adrian Nicholls is another former jockey who never got his hands on this prize while riding, but would be a popular winner if his Maw Lam could follow up her taking Thirsk debut.

Maw Lam was three-quarters of a length ahead of George Scott’s Mademoiselle on that occasion and the Newmarket-based handler is looking forward to the rematch with his improving Amo Racing-owned filly.

“It’s really good prize-money this close to Ascot and therefore it is appealing for a filly like ours, who looks to be on the improve but so far has not shown enough quality to go to the Royal meeting,” said Scott.

“We were really hoping to take on the horse that beat us from a better draw and I’m disappointed to be drawn so wide in stall 12 which is going to make things difficult.

“But she seems to be improving, I think she will like the track – a stiff five should be right up her street.

“I think the winner of this will definitely earn a ticket to Royal Ascot, whether that is ourselves or someone else. If we are three or four lengths out of it then so be it, but at this stage we felt this was the more sensible option than going straight to Ascot.”

Tom Clover’s Over Spiced and Michael Dods’ Brazilian Belle are others in the line-up arriving with a victory last time to their name as a total of 15 fillies head to post.



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Bradley in the hunt for trophy riches at Beverley

Nick Bradley is set to launch a two-pronged assault on Beverley’s Hilary Needler Trophy, with the Yorkshireman keen to land a telling blow at one of his local haunts.

The conditions event is one of the highlights of Beverley’s season and has been farmed by local handlers in recent years, with the race often used as a stepping stone to more lofty targets at Royal Ascot.

And Bradley – managing director of the popular syndicates that bare his name – links up with Middleham handler Karl Burke who will saddle both Larchill Lass and Invincible Annice on behalf of the owner.

The two fillies both opened their accounts at the third time of asking recently and have been backed to be involved at the finish once again.

“I’ve had a discussion with Karl and both are going to go, I’m just waiting to hear from Sam James (jockey) which one he would like to ride,” explained Bradley.

“I’ve said if it comes up quick he should ride Invincible Annice and if it is soft to go for the other one. I think they both go there with good chances depending on where they get drawn.

“I thought it was a monstrous performance from Larchill Lass when she won at Carlisle. I’ve watched her win alongside the Hugo Palmer horse that won the six-furlong race on the card and I think she would have won that race by about 12 lengths. I thought it was a huge performance.”

Although Larchill Lass is shorter in the betting than Invincible Annice, the latter impressed when winning a Musselburgh seller only seven days ago and has since seen a timely boost of her debut second to Francisco’s Piece when the Adrian Keatley-trained runner scooped Listed honours in France.

Bradley went on: “We only ran Invincible Annice in a seller because it was £10,500 to the winner and we’ve had plenty of faith all the way through, Karl had said before her debut at Pontefract she was a very good filly.

“The Keatley horse that beat us that day won the Listed race at Chantilly Sunday and I think if the horses were drawn the other way round at Pontefract the result would definitely have been close.”



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Kerdos fires home in Beverley Bullet

Kerdos filled the shoes to be left vacant by Tis Marvellous after victory in the William Hill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes.

Both horses are trained by Clive Cox and the latter was running his final race at the age of nine after a career that has seen him register nine victories – including in the last two renewals of the Beverley Bullet.

By contrast, Kerdos is only in his second season of racing at three years old but started the contest a 3-1 shot after finishing fifth behind Highfield Princess in the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood.

Silky Wilkie and Apollo One were the 15-8 joint-favourites and were disputing the lead a furlong from home as Tis Marvellous tried to challenge on the outside, but it was stablemate Kerdos who was guided through a gap by Ben Curtis and charged ahead just strides from the line to win by half a length.

Tis Marvellous tried his best for a final success, but head to settle for fourth, beaten a total of a length.

“It was very smooth from start to finish,” Curtis told Racing TV.

“All he (Clive) said was bring him down slowly, get plenty of cover and have loads of confidence.

“He said he’s plenty good enough to win, he knows his horses. I did that and he duly went and won.”

Cox said of his stable star Tis Marvellous: “I couldn’t be prouder of the way he’s signed off. He’s a stalwart at home and at the races, he broke the record in the Robert Papin and here.

“He’s won nine proper races and he’s been with me throughout his career and been instrumental in working with really top-flight horses, Harry Angel and Profitable and the like.

“He’s a gentleman and Amy Dickens, who has looked after him from day one, is going to be having him. I’m really pleased he’s going to have a good home.

“He’s deserving and it’s just a really nice story, I’m very proud to have been involved in training him.”

Of the winner he added: “We’ve had a wetter time of things, he ran a blinder at Goodwood bearing in mind how soft the ground was there. He’s quite versatile but he’s a better horse on better ground. I really hope this is the start of a promising career for Kerdos.”

The Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp could now be a target for the colt if the ground is quick enough.

Cox said: “We’ve had such a wet time, I think once in every five years they get a dry surface over there so we could be due one.

“He’s really taken to settling now and doing what we’ve been seeing at home. He’s a really nice horse to look forward to.”



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Tis Marvellous bids to bow out with Bullet hat-trick

Tis Marvellous will bid to go out in a blaze of glory by securing a record third victory in the William Hill Beverley Bullet on Saturday.

A Group Two-winning juvenile some seven years ago, the Clive Cox-trained sprinter is set to be retired after his latest trip to the Westwood this weekend.

The winner of nine races in all, Tis Marvellous became the third horse to notch back-to-back Beverley Bullet wins 12 months ago after Chookie Heiton (2004 and 2005) and Take Cover (2017 and 2018).

Tis Marvellous returns victorious 12 months ago
Tis Marvellous returns victorious 12 months ago (Molly Hunter/PA)

The nine-year-old has been well held in three starts so far this season – finishing last in the Palace House at Newmarket and the Wokingham at Royal Ascot before coming home seventh of 10 at the Shergar Cup – but Cox believes the fire still burns bright.

“I think it’s fair to say his form has waned a small bit this year, but his work at home is better than ever,” said the Lambourn handler.

“I’m really proud and pleased that he’s been such a wonderful servant over the years and we’ve targeted this race, being a race he’s won the last two years, and I think it’s fair to say and let everyone know that this will be his swansong and we’ll be retiring him afterwards.

“He’s giving us every confidence in his well being at home and he’s getting to the time of life now where we’re keen to give him a last roll of the dice on a course that he loves so much.

“Hopefully he can put his best foot forwards. From what we’re seeing at home there’s no doubt he’s in good form with himself and it will be really nice to give him another opportunity to have another run on a track he’s been so productive on.”

Tis Marvellous and team following his Beverley win in 2021
Tis Marvellous and team following his Beverley win in 2021 (Molly Hunter/PA)

Among those looking to deny Tis Marvellous the perfect send-off is his stablemate Kerdos, who was beaten just a neck in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes at Royal Ascot and was last seen finishing fifth behind star sprinter Highfield Princess at Goodwood.

Cox added: “Kerdos has been a work in progress, but he’s a horse we hold in high regard.

“He had an amazing run at Royal Ascot and hopefully this is a perfect step for him to take at this time of year really.

“Both horses deserve to be there, so we’ll see what happens.”

Other contenders include Julie Camacho’s 2019 Beverley Bullet hero Judicial, Karl Burke’s course and distance winner Silky Wilkie and the consistent Apollo One from the Newmarket yard of Peter Charalambous and James Clutterbuck.



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Emotional Hanagan wins for Rob Burrow Racing Club

The Rob Burrow Racing Club celebrated its first winner on Thursday when the Craig Lidster-trained Macarone came home clear at Beverley.

The club was set up to raise money for several charities, but principally the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), the illness which former Rugby League star Burrow was diagnosed with in 2019.

Macarone, a two-year-old by Havana Grey, was having his first run for the club after finishing second at Bath last time out and the well-backed 7-2 winner was roared home.

Macarone and Paul Hanagan before their winning run
Macarone and Paul Hanagan before their winning run (BigBangPR)

Former champion jockey Paul Hanagan, a keen Rugby League fan, punched the air on crossing the line and admitted the result meant a lot to him.

Hanagan said: “I’ve been blessed to ride a lot of winners in my career and I can safely say today is bang up there with the best of them. It was definitely emotional with Rob and his family being here too. It really doesn’t get much better.

“The reception we got coming back in was something I’ll never forget, and I can’t tell you how chuffed I am. You always know it’s something special when the other jockeys start applauding you when you come back in the weighing room.

“It was a very special day and hopefully this will be onwards and upwards for the Rob Burrow Racing Club.”

Burrow said: “Well done Macarone! You’ve given the Rob Burrow Racing Club our first win, and I couldn’t be prouder!

“Racing can be tough at times, and just like rugby, it has its ups and downs. Macarone has given us a perfect result today though. It’s been worth the wait.”

Burrow’s wife, Lindsey, added: “I was screaming so loudly I might have lost my voice!”

Barrie McDermott, a former colleague of Burrow’s at the Leeds Rhinos, and an ambassador of the club, told Racing TV: “We’ve had a few scripts that haven’t gone to plan, but today did.

“Paul is such an experienced rider, he talked us through his plan and he executed it to perfection.

“We’re delighted, delighted for Rob and Lindsey (Burrow) and all the members.

“The club is evolving all the time, we’re trying to turn it into a 12-month membership while raising money for charity. MND is an awful disease and Rob’s desire is to make people understand how it affects everybody and what they can do to help.

“He’s such an inspirational man. He’s not been burdened by the inevitability of what is in front of him, he’s been campaigning so those that follow him can have a bit of an easier path and for that we all love him.”



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Joanna Mason hoping riding return is in sight after injury

Joanna Mason, who suffered a leg fracture in a gallops accident last month, looks set to return to the saddle “in two or three weeks”.

Mason, 33, who was sidelined for 10 days when kicked in the knee by Jazz Samba following his win at Beverley on May 1, suffered more bad luck when three pigeons flew out of bushes adjacent to the gallops at her grandfather Mick and his son David Easterby’s yard, spooking a filly she was riding and unseating her.

The Malton rider raised her profile significantly on a wider stage earlier this year, producing a superb performance in February’s International Jockeys Challenge at the Saudi Cup to finish as leading woman rider and in third place overall.

On her rehabilitation, she said: “It’s going well, not doing too badly. I’m not a 100 per cent sure. I’ve increased stuff this week in the hydrotherapy pool, the physio and in the gym, and am doing a lot more weight-bearing. I’m hoping I’ll be back within the next two or three weeks.

“I definitely couldn’t get on a horse yet. I am just body-weight loading and doing that with heel raises, but I’m getting there.

“The knee is still a bit sore, because I was over-using it and hopping around while I was nursing my left one. There is not as much pressure, and it doesn’t hurt. I’m not doing too badly. I suppose your body will tell you when you are ready, but the process always takes longer than you think.

“The physios are really happy and I’m doing enough to push it without it hurting.”



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United comes home in Front for Oisin Murphy

Oisin Murphy made a rare visit to Beverley worthwhile when taking the bet365 Handicap aboard Mick Appleby’s United Front.

The jockey had a full book of rides on the Westwood and after finishing second in the first two contests, he partnered the 5-2 joint favourite in his third bid for victory.

This time he was successful as the six-year-old found a nice spot on the rail in the handicap and burst through a gap between the race leaders in the final half-furlong to prevail by a length.

“He was in the right race, Mick Appleby’s horses are in good form,” said Murphy.

“He was very straightforward and it’s nice to ride a winner here, I had two seconds to begin with so I needed to start winning!”

Another triumph then followed as Andrew Balding’s Sovereign Spirit took the Price Promise At bet365 Handicap at 7-1.

The gelding made the running as the pace was a steady one and held on resolutely to claim a short-head victory in a photo finish.

“He’s quite a tough horse because the race wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be,” Murphy said.

“He had a look at the stables and I was off course and wasting time as I drifted out, then down the back I thought the only way I could get him to really relax was by letting go of his head.

“He pricked his ears when I eventually got to the front and up the straight he found plenty for pressure.”

Murphy was then narrowly denied a third success on the card when Michael Dods’ Berry Edge (16-5 favourite) was defeated in the Best Odds Guaranteed At bet365 Handicap by Dandy’s Angel (12-1).

Kevin Stott helped George Boughey’s Abbadia get off the mark in the bet365 Very British Raceday Restricted Maiden Stakes.

The Mastercraftsman filly had come closest to winning when second over course and distance in a handicap in April, and the bay again showed her liking for the Yorkshire track after starting at 100-30.

She made almost all of the running and crossed the line a length and a half ahead of his nearest rival.

“It’s the first time I’ve ridden her, I got to the front pretty easily and had the race pretty easy, really,” Stott said.

“I just had to pick it up inside the two (furlong pole) and she’s hit the line good. George said she’s been working really well and that she’d have a good chance.

“You have to have a horse that travels around here and she really did that.”



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Bombay Bazaar swoops late for Beverley honours

Bombay Bazaar continued a good afternoon at Beverley for Richard Fahey when taking the bet365 Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes.

The Kodiac colt was a winner on the Westwood last time out when landing a course-and-distance event by four and a quarter lengths.

Prior to that he was third in a good quality contest on his debut when ridden by Oisin Orr, the same jockey who took the ride for the Two Year Old Trophy.

Sent off a 4-1 chance, the bay was ridden patiently and found his path blocked ahead of the two-furlong pole, but upon finding a gap he was able to accelerate away from his rivals to win by three quarters of a length.

The success followed Midnight Affair’s victory in the Hilary Needler earlier on the card, with both horses now bound for Royal Ascot having earned their place in these Beverley trials.

“They’re two great two-year-old races that I’d always like to win, but to win them both on the same afternoon is fantastic,” said Fahey.

“That was quite impressive there, he came home well. It didn’t look a bad race, looking at the individuals, so it was a good, solid performance.

“He is definitely getting better, he is a homebred and he just missed out on going to the sales – he has improved drastically.

“I would think the owner (Hussain Alabbas Lootah) would be very keen to go to the Windsor Castle. I will speak to him but I know they are keen to go. There’s no reason for him not to go, so we’ll see.”



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Midnight Affair strikes Hilary Needler gold at Beverley

Midnight Affair is Royal Ascot bound after a neat performance in the Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Beverley.

The Richard Fahey-trained bay was denied a clear passage on her debut at Newmarket in May, but still ran with promise and was highly fancied on the Westwood as a result.

Starting as the 5-6 favourite under Danny Tudhope, she made light work of the five-furlong event and was not stretched in crossing the line a length and a quarter ahead of Andrew Balding’s Flora Of Bermuda.

Royal Ascot is next on the agenda, with owner Steve Parkin of Clipper Logistics aiming for the Queen Mary Stakes to retain the trophy Dramatised landed for him 12 months ago.

He said: “Richard has been saying he likes her a lot and she’s done that really well there. He says that he can’t get her off the bridle at home and she gets all the others off the bridle.

“She must be quite good and it’s lovely to see her do that on the track.

“We’ll go for a crack at the Queen Mary now as it’s a race we haven’t done too badly in!

“I won that with Dramatised last year and we hope she can develop into another really nice filly like her.”

Fahey echoed his words, adding: “We do like an her an awful lot at home, she always works really well.

“We feel she’s still learning. The better ones don’t always come off the bridle, but she’s learning and that was a good performance. She’s very uncomplicated, we’re very happy with her.

“Steve’s very keen to go for the Queen Mary and that’s where we’ll aim with her. He won it last year, it’s his race now!”

Paddy Power make Midnight Affair an 8-1 chance from 11s for the Queen Mary.



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All eyes on Cuban Slide at Beverley after exciting debut success

Karl Burke expects to have a clearer idea of Cuban Slide’s capabilities after he contests the bet365 Two Year Old Trophy at Beverley on Saturday.

The Spigot Lodge handler has been firing in juvenile winners left, right and centre this season and few were more impressive on debut than this son of Havana Grey.

Cuban Slide was an odds-on favourite for a five-furlong novice event at Musselburgh and justified the cramped odds with a nine-length demolition job.

But while that Scottish success was visually striking, Burke is not convinced of the depth of the race and is anticipating he will learn more about his colt’s big-race credentials in East Yorkshire this weekend.

“I think he’s a nice horse, he’s obviously got good ability and he works well at home,” he said.

“I don’t think it was much of a race that he won, so we’re on a finding-out mission as much as anything.

“I do think he’s useful, but whether he’s top class or not I’m not sure. Stepping up to six furlongs could see him to good effect, but he’s not slow and a stiff five with a good draw should be fine.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him run and learning a bit more about him.”

Richard Fahey is represented by Bombay Bazaar, a Kodiac juvenile who also comes into this in winning form having been victorious over the course and distance last month.

He was previously third in a Thirsk maiden when beaten four lengths, with Kevin Ryan’s Sergeant Wilko the winner and Dominic Ffrench Davis’ Valadero the runner-up.

The latter was previously second in the Brocklesby, while Sergeant Wilko has some positive collateral form having finished second on debut to Hugo Palmer’s Balon d’Or – subsequently third in the Lily Agnes and second in the Woodcote.

Next time out Bombay Bazaar got off the mark by an easy four and a quarter lengths and Fahey is looking forward to seeing him return to the Westwood.

Richard Fahey (right) saddles Bombay Bazaar at Beverley
Richard Fahey (right) saddles Bombay Bazaar at Beverley (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

“He improved a lot for his first and second runs and he seems to have gone on again,” Fahey said.

“I don’t know what he beat that day (at Beverley) but he beat them well, he will be a better horse again and whether or not he’s good enough, we’ll see.

“The form will do and we’re getting better, so we’ll see.”

Other contenders include the Ryan-trained Room Service, who was a debut winner at Wetherby, and Richard Hannon’s Fusterlandia, second on his introduction at Leicester late last month.

Andrew Balding’s Loaded Gun, David O’Meara’s Scoops Ahoy and the unraced Mehigburn from Roger Fell and Sean Murray’s yard complete the field.



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Ziggy’s Phoenix seeking to rise to Hilary Needler challenge

Ziggy’s Phoenix makes a swift return to action as she bids for a third win this season in the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley on Saturday.

The two-year-old, who is owned by Middleham Park Racing, won a Ripon novice earlier in the season and was then victorious in the Lily Agnes at Chester.

She subsequently headed to Chantilly in search of Listed honours in the Prix la Fleche, but could finish only fourth of eight runners in the hands of Gerald Mosse.

Richard Hannon sends the Kodiac filly back into battle just six days later, with connections “hopeful” the quick turnaround will not be a problem.

“She got caught out on a wing and raced away from the rail in France, but she kept on well to the line,” said Middleham Park’s director of racing, Tim Palin.

“She is down in grade a notch to a level she’s already been successful at and escapes a penalty.

“We’re backing her up quite quickly, but she’s got a decent draw (stall four) this time and we go there hopeful.”

Richard Fahey saddles Midnight Affair, a daughter of Dark Angel who caught the eye finishing second to the Royal Ascot-bound Soprano on her debut at Newmarket last month.

Midnight Affair was unlucky not to make more of a race of it after meeting traffic problems and is a hot favourite to go one better on the Westwood under Danny Tudhope.

Midnight Affair (second left) ran a fine race on her debut at Newmarket
Midnight Affair (second left) ran a fine race on her debut at Newmarket (David Davies/PA)

“She ran a good race first time out. Things didn’t happen for her, but she still went well for a first run,” said Fahey.

“She’s drawn in stall six and I’d be happy with that.”

Other hopefuls include Charlie Johnston’s Never Fear, the winner of a Wolverhampton maiden, and Andrew Balding’s Flora Of Bermuda, who was beaten just half a length when fourth at Sandown on debut.

Tallulabelle (David O’Meara), Alfa Moonstone (Craig Lidster), Callianassa (Brian Ellison), Miss Woo Woo (Robert Cowell) and La Boo (Mick and David Easterby) complete the field.



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Draw Bias 2022: Part 1

It has been a couple of years since I wrote some articles on the draw and, with the flat season hitting stride now, it is a good time to revisit the subject, writes Dave Renham. The draw will always have special place in my heart because it was essentially where my racing journey began.

Sprintline 2002: The Effects of the Draw - co-authored by Dave Renham

Sprintline 2002: The Effects of the Draw - co-authored by Dave Renham

While at university I became interested in horse racing stats and I soon realised that there was a potential betting edge in focusing on certain sections of the draw at a few specific courses. Back then, in the late 80s and early 90s, the courses and distances with the strongest biases were at Beverley over five furlongs, Thirsk over five and six furlongs (especially on firmer ground), Chester from five to seven furlongs, Lingfield (turf course) five to seven furlongs, and Sandown over five furlongs when the stalls were placed on the far side. The beauty back then for draw punters like myself was that there was a decent edge for those of us who considered ourselves ‘in the know’. I was able to find plenty of betting opportunities that represented good value.

Unfortunately, if predictably, it was not long before draw biases started to be shared in racing articles which were then followed by comprehensive books on the subject. Indeed, I co-authored one of them!

As with many things, when a good source of highlighting value bets is found, within a few years the edge starts to disappear. This is very much a horse racing trait: good ideas have their initial edge because the majority of people are not aware of that value finding approach. As time goes on, however, the betting public and the bookmakers catch up and, as a result, prices tend to contract and the value begins to erode. This has happened to some considerable extent with the draw over recent years.

Using Chester’s five-furlong trip as an example, let us examine what has happened to the prices of the ‘best’ two stall positions over the past several years. The stalls in question are draws 1 and 2, those closest to the inside rail. I am looking here at handicap races with eight or more runners where draw bias tends to be more consistent:

 

 

Chester’s tight track has long shown a bias to lower draws and this has generally been well documented and widely understood. However, nowadays your average punter has had more exposure to draw biases than they did twenty years ago which explains the diminishing price pattern. The graph above shows that horses drawn in stall 1 had an average decimal SP price of 6.58 from 2003 to 2007, dropping to 5.19 over the most recent five-year period. Likewise, we have seen the prices of horses drawn in stall 2 dropping from 9.06 to 6.46.

Some statisticians may observe that despite the relatively solid sample sizes average prices can be skewed by an occasional bigger-priced runner. That would certainly be possible, so it make sense to compare the median prices as well. To remind you of your school maths class, median is the middle value when all are ordered from lowest to highest. This gives us another type of average, the findings of which are here:

 

 

Once again we see the same pattern: the prices for both draws 1 and 2 have dropped quite significantly over the period of study.

A further measure to illustrate how the draw affects the prices at Chester is if we look at all stall / draw positions from 2017 to 2021 and compare their average prices. We already know that the average for horses drawn in stall 1 has been 5.19 and stall 2 is 6.46. I have graphed the average prices for each stall over 5f at Chester, although due to small sample sizes in higher drawn runners I have combined those drawn in stall 8 or higher:

 

 

As we can see, despite a slight ‘blip’ with stalls / draws 6 and 7, the average price increases as the stall position increases (and is thus further away from the favoured inside rail). Looking at these data, we could confidently argue that at Chester over 5f the draw impacts on price more than any other factor.

 

I briefly want to go back to discuss the price reduction we saw earlier in the lowest two stall positions when comparing 2003-2007 average SP prices with 2017-2021. This has actually not coincided with the draw bias getting stronger; in fact, the draw bias has stayed roughly the same. This can be illustrated when breaking our draw data into three time frames between the years 2003 and 2021. The actual draw positions are also split into three: low third, middle third and high third.

 

 

As can be seen, low draws have continued to dominate in each time frame. This is further evidence of the fact that the price reduction is almost certainly down to more punters being aware of how fundamentally important the draw is to the business of finding winners at Chester over this minimum 5f trip. From a betting perspective, therefore, much or all of the value in lower drawn horses has now evaporated. This can be illustrated in terms of percentage returns (ROI%) if backing all horses from the bottom third (low) of the draw over different time frames.

 

 

I still find it remarkable that up to 2015 you could have made a blind profit at SP by backing all low drawn horses in 8+ handicaps over five furlongs at Chester. All good things come to an end, however, and that has not been the case in recent years. In the five year period 2016 to 2021, losses accrued were 13.7% of stakes. Ouch.

Appreciating and therefore deploying draw bias is not merely about looking at the performances of different sections of the draw; no, we also have to be acutely aware of how the market adjusts for such factors.

Being able to exploit the draw to one's advantage has also been affected in recent years by racecourse officials using other means of negating any potential bias. One way this can be done is by moving running rails which potentially changes part of the ground over which races take place as well as sometimes subtly changing the race distance by a few yards. The other, more notable, fly in the ointment has been the change in watering systems that most tracks now use. Some 20 or 30 years ago many course watering systems were badly affected by wind speed and direction, and hence certain parts of the track remained drier - and therefore quicker - giving rise to draw biases. Nowadays, though, the equipment has become more sophisticated and the water is spread much more evenly.

I mentioned earlier that Beverley over five furlongs used to be one of the strongest draw biases back in the day, and this can be seen when you look at the data. From 1998 to 2003 in 8+ runner handicaps the low third of the draw housed the winner 63.3% of the time, while the highest third won just 10% during that period. From 2004 to 2009, the strength of this bias appeared to dip a little but the low third still accounted for 53.4% of all the winners (high won a still dismal 15%). However, from 2010 to 2015 the low win percentage dropped to just under 42%, while high had narrowed the gap with 23.1% winners; and, from 2016 to 2021 it dropped to 40.8% low and 26.5% high. Over time, that's quite a big change. Yes, low draws are still favoured but the huge edge that there once was is no more.

Exactly why this has happened I cannot be sure; it is probably down to better watering and maintenance of the track. However, what is interesting is the fact that the prices on the best drawn horses have not changed much. Comparing the 2003 to 2007 segment with 2016 to 2021 here are the average prices for stalls 1 and 2:

 

 

Horses drawn in stall 1 have, on average, started at slightly shorter prices in the last five seasons (12 versus 11.42); stall 2 has seen an increase but a modest one when you consider the draw bias is nowhere near as potent these days. The median prices back up the raw average data as the table below shows:

 

 

What seems to be happening here therefore is the market at Beverley is still assuming the draw bias is as strong as it was back in the early 2000s. Unlike the Chester market, which has adapted as one might expect, this Beverley market has not: in reality, the odds should on average be higher than they currently are. The bitesize takeaway is that lower draws are generally poor value.

Another thing that has changed markedly in the past few years is the general appreciation that draw bias does not only occur over sprint trips. Pontefract, for example, over a mile and a mile and a quarter, boasts two of the strongest draw biases currently in play. Looking at 8+ runner 1 mile handicaps at Pontefract, it can be seen that this is a case of the betting market now cottoning on to the draw bias. This is in stark contrast to data gathered in 5f handicaps at Beverley.

Let’s compare once again the same two time frames - 2003 to 2007 with 2017 to 2021. Here are the average prices for stalls 1 and 2:

 

 

The average price of horses drawn in stall 1 has nearly halved; the figures for horses drawn in stall 2 have also contracted quite noticeably. Once again the median prices correlate strongly:

 

 

What this means, therefore, is that although low draws hold a significant edge over 1 mile at Pontefract the current prices on offer are so low on average, that they too are now generally poor value. We can see this in black and white when I share the fact that from 2009 to 2013 backing all low drawn horses at Pontefract over 1 mile in 8+ runner handicaps would have yielded a 13% profit; from 2017 to 2021 this flipped to a 22% loss.

This Ponte pattern mirrors the change we saw earlier in the Chester 5f prices and subsequent poorer value of low drawn runners in recent seasons.

In order to fully make the most of draw bias, or indeed perceived draw bias, it is clear we need to be aware of market factors, not just the raw draw data splits. Let us close with a look at Catterick over six furlongs – again focusing on 8+ runner handicaps. Because this six-furlong trip is contested around a bend there is a perception that lower draws have a slight edge. This is borne out when we compare the combined average prices of the three lowest drawn runners with the three highest drawn runners going back to 2016.

 

 

A difference on average of two and a half points. That may not seem much of a difference but over several races it can make a critical difference to our bottom line. During this time frame both sections of the draw have won virtually the same number of races (26 versus 27), implying that there is no bias to lower drawn runners at all. At least partly as a consequence of this perception, backing the three lowest drawn stalls would have produced crippling losses of 45.8% to SP, while blindly supporting the top three stalls would have produced a profit of 10.5%.

One observation when comparing odds over time might legitimately be that field sizes truncating has had a bearing on prices. While that impact should be spread across the full range of stalls anyway, this final chart also helps to imply that field size is likely not the main factor at play here.

 

 

It is a little 'busy', but essentially we have two lines which we might expect to be correlated - perceived win chance (expressed as SP) and actual strike rate (expressed as win %). Although the win strike rates jump around a bit, the blue dotted 'trendline' shows no advantage; compare that, however, with the orange trendline for average win odds which rises from low to high.

 

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The aim of this article is to illustrate the important links between draw position and price, and to highlight the changing nature of some draw biases. Profitable betting is about getting value – well drawn horses only offer us value if the price is right. Also, we need to be aware that 'poorly' drawn horses can also offer value, but again only if the price is right.

- DR



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