Some thoughts for Chester’s May meeting

Chester's May meeting is an early season highlight, offering socialites, more serious racegoers and the occasional Derby aspirant the chance to peacock around the Roodee. The famous bullring circuit, just nine furlongs in circumference, is fiendishly tight and there is a commensurate bias to those who are agile - and fast - enough to slide around the inside banister. has more information on Chester racecourse here. But what can we say specifically about the May meeting at Chester?

Chester May Meeting: Trainers

Using's new Query Tool (QT) enables us to look at recent trainer form for a specific event like this. To do so, select the month of May, and Chester in the course area:

Specifying Chester's May meeting in geegeez's Query Tool

Specifying Chester's May meeting in geegeez's Query Tool


By placing a check in the circle to the left of the 'TRAINER' parameter and clicking 'Generate Report' again, we can see trainer performance for the Chester May meeting. I've sorted by number of wins in the image below.

Outstanding training performances by Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden at Chester in recent years

Outstanding training performances by Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden at Chester in recent years


The performance of Messrs. O'Brien and Gosden is spectacular, the former recording a 43.5% win strike rate, the latter a 63% in the frame record. And that from approximately five runners each per year.


Handicap trainers

But what of the handicaps only? There are some super competitive heats over the three days and, at that slightly lower level, different training names come to the fore. Let's add HANDICAP to our list of filters, and do the same 'Group by Trainer' report:

Andrew Balding and Ed Dunlop have excellent records, and Sir Michael Stoute has been very unlucky in Chester May handicaps

Andrew Balding and Ed Dunlop have excellent records, and Sir Michael Stoute has been very unlucky in Chester May handicaps


It is easy to see that Ed Dunlop and, from a larger sample, Andrew Balding have fared really well in Chester May meeting handicaps. But it is also worth noting Sir Michael Stoute: his two from fifteen record is unremarkable, until we note that more than half of them have hit the board. It would be no surprise to see Sir Michael's fortunes change this week.

What about the top races?

Selecting Class 1 (i.e. Listed or Group) races only confirms the stranglehold that Team Ballydoyle has on the big races at Chester's May meeting.

Aidan O'Brien has a mighty record in Class 1 events at Chester's May meeting

Aidan O'Brien has a mighty record in Class 1 events at Chester's May meeting

Your first 30 days for just £1


Aidan O'Brien has won 16 of the 40 Pattern races run at Chester in May since 2009. That's 40% of them, from just 34 runners. His performance is incredible and looks set to continue this week with a typically strong hand of three-year-olds and older horses.


Chester May Meeting: Draw

As alluded to in my introduction, the draw at Chester has a huge bearing on how races are run, especially over sprint distances. Using's Draw Analyser tool, we can see just how relevant a good draw generally is, especially when the going is on the quick side. The forecast is largely dry for the week and the current going description is good, good to firm in places.

Five furlong handicaps

Let's plug that into our Draw Analyser, along with a selection of handicap races only and 10+ runners; and we'll initially look at five to five and a half furlong races.

Low is heavily favoured at the shortest trips; and high is heavily UNfavoured

Low is heavily favoured at the shortest trips; and high is heavily UNfavoured


I wanted to include the constituent draw table so that you could see the strong linearity in the place percentages of finishers by stall position. That stall 1 has made the frame in two-thirds of all five and five-and-a-half furlong sprints in big fields on quick ground since 2009 is telling. No wonder so many absentees emerge from the car park post positions.


Six and seven furlong handicaps

So far so obvious, perhaps, though it is always interesting to note the concrete evidence data provides to support or resist a general perception. But what of longer sprint trips? What of six- and seven furlong handicaps? A quick change to the distance ranges and we have our answer:

Still an inside draw bias, but it is less pronounced over 6 and 7furlongs at Chester

Still an inside draw bias, but it is less pronounced over 6 and 7furlongs at Chester


As you can see, there is still a bias towards those drawn low but it is not nearly as pronounced as over the shortest distances. Indeed, middle drawn horses have fared pretty much as well as those on the inside, but it is still the case that a high draw is a very difficult condition to overcome.

Notice at the bottom the Heat Map. This is a simple chart that attempts to overlay the historical draw positions against a horse's run style. The arrow formation top right in the chart implies a bias towards early speed and an inside to middle draw.

Conversely, note the relatively poor performance of those drawn high, regardless of run style; and it also looks difficult to overcome a low draw if you're a hold up sort racing at six or seven furlongs in a double digit field.

None of the sample sizes used here are particularly big, so keep in mind that the above is indicative rather than assertive. But it confirms what is often said: it is very difficult to overcome a wide draw in a big field on fast ground at Chester.


Chester May Meeting: Jockeys

Can a jockey make a difference at Chester? Most riders are, to a large extent, hostages to the fortunes of their trainers and horses; but at the more unconventional courses, can it be an advantage to have an experienced pilot in one's corner?

Although the answer is probably yes, there is a degree of cause and effect in that if a jockey gets a reputation as being skilled over a certain circuit he is more likely to pick up the plum rides. The flip side is that, if a jockey is retained by a particular stable, he will be susceptible to the form of that yard.

Regardless, here is QT on Chester May meeting jockey performance, in handicaps only.

The top handicap jockeys at Chester's May meeting since 2009

The top handicap jockeys at Chester's May meeting since 2009


Some interesting gen comes to light here. First, that example of positive discrimination: Francis Norton is widely held as the 'go to guy' for Chester, and he certainly does ride the track very well as can be seen from his seven handicap winners at this meeting since 2009. But they've come from 64 rides, an 11% clip, and just 0.85 on the A/E scale.

Compare that with Jamie Spencer, supposedly a hold up rider on a speed-favouring track. His nine winners have come from just 48 rides at an A/E of 1.54. Not only that but he can back up a 19% win rate with a 44% place rate. Jamie Spencer, in fact, is one of the best judges of pace in the weighing room, from the back or the front of the field. He gets it wrong sometimes - that's an occupational hazard - but I'd never be put off a bet at any track with Spencer in the plate (and yes, I have changed my position on this in recent years!)

Lower down, Steve Donohoe is an interesting name. His three handicap winners from 20 rides is fine - good even - but nine podium finishes is a very solid effort. He could be worth keeping onside.


Chester May meeting: Summary

We're all set for three excellent days of racing on the Roodee. With a little luck we'll come out in front by noting the above. In some ways, there is nothing new in trumpeting the form of Aidan O'Brien in Class 1 races at the meeting, nor in flagging that inside draws have the best of it in bigger field sprints on fast ground.

But such awareness can become the cornerstone of a betting strategy for the week. If playing placepots or intra-race bets like exactas and trifectas, knowing that Jamie Spencer is a high strike rate handicap jockey, or that Andrew Balding and Ed Dunlop should always be in mind in Chester handicaps, or even that Aidan's horse probably will win the Derby trial, will help frame decisions about when to go narrow and when to go deep.

Good luck with your Chester May meeting wagers - it should be a terrific three days!


p.s. if you'd like more race-by-race statistical lowdown, check out these Chester TV Trends: Wednesday


Market Moves as the Betway Lincoln Handicap approaches

Doncaster Racecourse

Doncaster Racecourse - Home of 'The Lincoln'

We are now just days away from the start of the Turf Flat season; though not officially of course; with the curtain-raiser being the 'Lincoln meeting' at Doncaster on Saturday.

Traditionally the first big handicap of the season, the Lincoln was established in 1853, and it will come as no surprise to learn that it was run at Lincoln Racecourse. When that venue sadly closed, the race was transferred to its new home at Doncaster and has remained there since 1965. The event takes place over a straight mile.

Your first 30 days for just £1

This weekend’s renewal will be as competitive as ever and it’s certain to be a task and a half to find the winner. Over the last day or two a huge gamble has taken place on the Ed Dunlop trained Zarwaan. It looks as if his four-year-old will take up his entry rather than waiting for the Irish version at the Curragh on Sunday.

Owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Zarwaan has halved in price to his current odds of 8-1. Dunlop said: “He was confirmed for the Lincoln and he remains in the Irish equivalent. We entered him in a seven-furlong conditions race at Kempton on Saturday, but the plan at the moment is to go to Doncaster." He was fourth in a listed race at Newmarket in his final appearance as a three-year-old last July off a rating of 102.

Marco Botti spoke to At The Races about the hopes for his Lincoln entry Moohaarib. He appeared confident of a decent run saying: “You need a horse rated around 100 to have a chance in the race.” Having wintered well and working great at home, Botti was hoping for rain at the Yorkshire track with the Oasis Dream colt at his best with some cut in the ground. He was third to race favourite Mange All at Ascot last July when giving away half a stone.

The William Haggas trained favourite has also been popular with the punters. By Zamindar out of a Montjeu mare, a win for Mange All would give Haggas a record-equalling fourth victory in the race he last won with 3-1 favourite Penitent in 2010.

Gm Hopkins sits alongside him at the head of the market, and the two met in the Silver Cambridgeshire last September. Gosden’s gelding won rather cosily on that occasion after travelling powerfully through the race. However he was slightly disappointing in his final race of last season when behind Moohaarib at Nottingham.

A maximum field of 22 will line up for the famous season opening puzzler. Those missing the cut will take their chance in the Betway Spring Mile. It’s sure to be a cracking card with huge prize money on offer to winning connections of the prestigious handicap.

Stat of the Day, 27th October 2014

Stat of the Day, 27th October 2014

A storm and a late night power cut mean we're running late today, but here goes...

Tokyo Javilex was pulled up on Saturday, having been sent off at 6/1, half a point longer than what I'd actually thought was a good price to take at 11/2.

All of which pretty much summed up a desperate week for SotD, with Tuesday's 9/1 runner-up the sole highlight of the week and even that horse managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As October comes towards a close, normal service will hopefully be resumed today in the...

1.00 Leicester:

Where Ed Dunlop gives a handicap debut to Machiavellian Storm...

Your first 30 days for just £1

Ed doesn't seem to send too many runners here to Leicester for some reason, but I'm sure it's not because his horses don't run well here.

Over the last four seasons, his handicappers have won 6 of 16 races (37.5% SR) for level stakes profits of 22.6pts (+141.3% ROI) with those running in the 3/1 to 9/1 bracket winning 5 of 9 (55.6% SR) for 26.8pts (+298.1% ROI) profit.

He now switches Machiavellian Storm back to the turf after acquiring an opening mark of 60 from three unplaced efforts in maidens (debut at Yarmouth and two runs at Kempton). She showed signs of promise last time out at Kempton, catching the eye with a good second half to her 7f race 12 days ago after being outpaced early on.

It is expected that the softer ground will help her here today, as she's by Dark Angel, whose 2 yr old offspring have a decent record on soft (or worse!) ground, winning 16 of 108 (13%) for 16.6pts profit (+15.4% ROI) and a record of 11/71 (15.5% SR) for 27pts (+38% ROI) running at Class 4 or lower.

As I mentioned at the top of the piece, today is Machiavellian Storm's handicap debut and in the last three seasons, 13 of Ed Dunlop's 57 handicap debutants have been winners. This 22.8% strike rate has generated 51pts profit (+89.5% ROI) to level stakes, with those running at Class 4 or lower winning 12 of 42 (28.6% SR) for 55.1pts at an ROI of 131.1%)

Ed's handicap debutants running over a trip of a mile and shorter are 8/30 (26.7% SR) for 48pts (+160% ROI) profit and if you wanted a little micros-system to take away from this today, you could do worse than to note that...

Ed Dunlop's handicap debutants running over 6 to 12 furlongs at Class 4 or lower  are 9/19 (47.4% SR) for 35.7pts (+188% ROI) when sent off below 10/1.

She did show signs that there'll be more to come in handicap company and I think she'll handle the softer ground better than some of her rivals and in a race that seems to lack quality, she could be the answer at a reasonable price.

Today's advice is a 1pt win bet on Machiavellian Storm at 9/2 BOG. This price is very widely available, so for your preferred bookie... here for the latest betting on the 1.00 Leicester

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day,

just click here for more details.


Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 28th August 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 28th August 2014

It's A Yes From Me failed to display the X-Factor (I can almost hear your groans!) at Kempton on Wednesday evening, despite being well backed into 4/1 favouritism from our advised 8/1 odds.

So, value was on our side, but the result wasn't. In truth, even a placed finish never really looked on the cards and any effort we got was shortlived, culminating in a defeat by six lengths and four lengths shy of a consolation payout.

I'm still scratching about for a bit of form but I think we've a decent chance of a winner in Thursday's...

4.05 Ffos Las:

Courtesy of a 1pt 5/1 BOG win bet on Ed Dunlop's in-form 3 yr old Taqneen in this Class 4 3yo+ handicap over a mile on soft ground.

Since the start of the 2011 campaign, Ed Dunlop's record in these open age handicaps is decent enough, as testified by his 31 winners from 192 runners. This 16.2% strike rate has generated 54.4pts at an ROI of 28.3% to date and those running on soft ground have won 10 of 30 (33.3%) for excellent profits of 41.6pts, or 138.7% of stakes invested. His record in 3yo+ handicaps at Ffos Las in that period is 3 wins from 6 for 18.8pts (+313.4% ROI)!

Today he gives a handicap debut to Taqneen and 15.7% of his flat handicappers have won on debut since 2008. The 24 winners from 153 debuts have produced 51.3pts profit at level stakes for an ROI of 33.5% and from those figures, his 3 yr olds have won 18 of 110 races (16.4% SR) for 43pts (+39.1% ROI) profit.

All Ed's focus is on Taqneen today, as this is his only runner of the day and he tends to do well with single entrants. Since the start of the 2011 season, if his only runner of the day has been sent out to contest a handicap race, he has had a winner on 16 of 76 ocasions, as trike rate of 21.1% and profits of 54.4pts or 71.1% of all stakes invested.

As for the horse himself, he comes here after a great run of form in his debut season after being unraced as a 2yr old. He was 4th of 5th on debut at Newcastle back in April, where it seemed to be the trip rather than the soft ground that found him out, as he went down by 9 lengths over 1m2f.

Since then he has contested four maidens all at today's 1 mile trip and has a record of 2221. He was narrowly beaten (Nk, 1l, 0.5l) in three Class 5 races before stepping to today's Class 4 level to win by 3.5 lengths on soft ground.

The ground will be similarly soft for him here today and he gets to run off the same mark of 79 as last time out, further aided by a 6lb weight for age allowance, which should make him even more competitively weighted. He's has almost four weeks rest after that maiden win and as he's still unexposed may still some improvement to come.

Taqneen looks a little overpriced to me at 5/1 BOG with BetVictor and he is as low as 7/2 in some places, but I'm on at 5's and I hope you will be too. If BetVictor's price has changed by the time you read this, I suggest that you... here for the latest betting on the 4.05 Ffos Las

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day,

just click here for more details.


Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 22nd August 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 22nd August 2014

The good news from yesterday was that, once again, we smashed the SP on our chosen runner, taking 4/1 BOG about a 15/8 favourite and in the long run, that will prove to be profitable.

In the short-term, however, that wasn't the case, as Lysino was beaten by two lengths into third place. He was held up towards the rear of the field for much of the contest, but steadily made ground in the final half mile or so until it got to the point a furlong from home where he had every chance of going on to win.

He had a couple of lengths to make up, but had no extra injection of pace when needed and couldn't close the gap.

It has been a frustrating week so far, but these are the fine margins that we deal with on a daily basis and I'm hoping for a little more in today's...

6.15 Goodwood:

And an 11/4 BOG bet on Ed Dunlop's 2 yr old filly Arethusa who makes only her third start after racing twice last month, securing a runner-up finish on her debut and a comfortable win a big field at Newmarket last time out. That was five weeks ago and she had What A Party 3.25 lengths behind her in third place that day, with that horse going on to win both of his two subsequent races (one maiden and one handicap/nursery).

After her maiden win, this is Arethusa's handicap bow in a Class 4 Nursery...

Ed Dunlop has a good record with handicap debutants and since the start of the 2008 flat season he has saddled up 23 winners from his 151 debutants for a strike rate of 15.2% and resultant level stakes profits of 49.3pts, which equates to 32.6% of stakes.

He hasn't fared too well in better quality handicaps, but at Class 3 and lower, the record is very impressive with 22 wins from 131 (16.8% SR) for 58.3pts (+44.5% ROI) profit.

She's stepping up a class today, too...

Ed also has a good record with his handicappers stepping up in class, especially if there's some money about for them. As in the same 2008-14 timeframe, his handicappers running up a class and at odds of 7/1 or shorter have won 22 of 94 races at a rate of 23.4% and the 21.8pts profit generated is worth 23.1% of stakes.

Incidentally, from an admittedly small sample size: 19 horses have satisfied both criteria to date with 10 (52.6%) of them making the frame. Four of the nineteen (21.1% SR) were winners, generating 11.2pts profit at an ROI of almost 59%.

Arethusa seems to have been treated on the lenient side with an opening mark of 76, which looks very workable in a field of runners where she's the only one to have previously won at the trip. I'd expect her to shorten as the day goes on, so I'm happy to take the 11/4 BOG on offer from BetVictor.

Not all the firms had priced this up at close to 1am, so for their prices, I suggest that you... here for the latest betting on the 6.15 Goodwood

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day,

just click here for more details.


Here is today's racecard.

2:2 for Cadeaux as Fiorente wins Melbourne Cup

Oliver and Waterhouse prepare Fiorente

Oliver and Waterhouse prepare Fiorente

There was huge disappointment for Ed Dunlop and the Red Cadeaux team as they were again pipped at the post in the Melbourne Cup in the early hours of this morning. Read more

Newmarket Trainer Stats 12th October 2013

Rowley MileAs we gear up towards the excellent Newmarket card this Saturday, Andy Newton gives you three yards that do well at the track, plus three that you might want to avoid..... Read more

Stat of the Day, 25th August 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 25th August 2013

Four winners from six for Mickael Barzalona at Newmarket highlighted how strong he is at that venue and he has certainly helped my profit/loss figures this summer. He also helped SotD to a 4.5pts return yesterday as he cajoled Ghazi to a win on debut. The horse had to be firmly ridden from a long way out, such was the greenness of his running, but finally with less than two furlongs to go, the penny seemed to drop and he straightened up for home.

The official winning distance was a mere half-length, but in truth it was all quite cosy in the end. He's sure to be asked to go further in time and may well be one to watch as he progresses. There's no Barzalona/Newmarket combinations today, I'm afraid, but I do have an interesting entry in the highly competitive...

5.00 Goodwood

Three year old horses running in open age handicaps receive a weight for age allowance and this allowance becomes far more noticeable in races of a mile and a half or further. As with any angle in racing, some trainers are more adept at exploiting this allowance and whilst Mark Johnston is the master of this, fellow trainer Ed Dunlop is no slouch either.

In the past three seasons Ed has had six winners (and four others placed) from just seventeen such entrants with this 35.3% strike rate generating level stakes profits of 15.7pts, a return of 92.4% of stakes.

This is also the time of year when Ed's horses are usually at their peak with his record in handicap races in the months of July & August over the past three seasons reading as 26 winners from 118 runners priced at 12/1 or under. This gives a very healthy 22% strike rate and profits of 34.1 pts or 28.9% of stakes. It should also be noted that 41% of those runners made the frame, making these two months very profitable for the yard.

Today, Mr Dunlop employs the talents of Frankie Dettori to ride the 3 yr old filly Bantam, a horse developing into a really consistent sort who was 5th of 15 on debut at Newbury back in May, but has made the first two home in each of her five subsequent outings on turf since (22121) despite being asked to run on ground conditions varying from Good to Firm right through to Heavy!

Both of her wins to date were over today's kind of trip (1m 3.5f at Windsor and 1m 4f at Salisbury last time out) and she showed a good turn of pace to win her latest contest. She is making steady progress, having risen from a mark of 75 to today's 84 in the space of her last three runs. She ran well enough off 80 last time out and today's extra 4lbs is more than negated by that 10lb (in real terms) weight for age allowance as above, meaning she's effectively competing off 74, despite having won off 75 & 80.

The booking of Frankie Dettori today is interesting too. He may not be the rider he used to be, but he's still one of the best around. His deployment here today, allied to the trainer's record in handicaps at this time of year, as well as the weight allowance makes the 9/1 BOG on offer look really attractive. The prudent call is, of course, to hedge our bets. Therefore today's play is a 0.5pts E/W bet on Bantam at 9/1 BOG with BetVictor. This price is also currently available at Betfred and William Hill.

I wrote this at midnight and prices are subject to change, so I'd strongly recommend that you...

Click here for the latest betting on the 5.00 Goodwood

***Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service
every day, just click here for more details.***


Fairy story comes to an end

Snow Fairy stretches out

Snow Fairy stretches out

The recurrence of an old injury that has plagued Snow Fairy for the past two years has led trainer Ed Dunlop to call time on the racing career of one of the top mares of recent years. Read more

Leicester ready to welcome Dettori back

Dettori raring to ride again

Dettori raring to ride again

Monday 20th May promises to be that rarity - a Monday raceday with some real interest to it. That comes not from any of the races themselves, but with the first race riding appearance for six months of Frankie Dettori. Read more

Trainer Stats: 23rd April 2012

MJWith the new flat season hotting up Andy Newton’s got six trainers that have got their horses in tip-top order...... Read more

The Tiger only whimpers for Dunlop

the tigerTrainer Ed Dunlop must have made his New Year resolutions a bit early, as he put one of them into practice at Fakenham yesterday. And although he didn’t have a winner with his first ever runner over jumps, The Tiger showed enough to suggest that Dunlop won’t be giving up on his resolution just yet. Read more

Trainer Stats: 28th Nov 2012

'Phil' Your Boots With Hobbs' Horses

The weather might be causing havoc around the country this week but Andy Newton’s still got seven trainers to look out for..... Read more

Red Cadeaux virus free as Melbourne Cup prep continues

Racing Victoria has scotched fears that last year’s Melbourne Cup runner up Red Cadeaux might have caught a virus that could jeopardise his bid to win the race this time round. Read more

Trainer Stats: 26th Sept 2012

Anything Willie Mullins Runs Should Be Respected

Andy Newton has six in-form trainers to look out for this week...... Read more