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Friday Wrap…

Geegeez Racing Club horse

Geegeez Racing Club horse

Lots to share today, though nothing in particular. In this post, a further quick line on the Jim Best story, an update on the ratings competition, news of some tipping successes on this 'ere blog, a new geegeez syndicate horse running today, and the races I'm planning to cover in tomorrow's TV racing preview. Phew.

Let's start with the Jim Best story. I wrote about this yesterday, and have been very interested to read your comments and opinions on the matter. This morning, a multiple owner from the Jim Best yard added his thoughts, which are a nice counterpoint. If you've not taken a look yet, it's well worth a read. And, if you have, I've been through the Best stable runners to 'out' the next two possible plot jobs...

The first of the pair is Maria's Choice. This ex-John Oxx and Sir Michael Stoute-trained horse was rated as high as 84 on the flat, before having four quiet runs in novice hurdles for his new yard. Beaten 32 lengths, 75 lengths, 46 lengths and 30 lengths is better than some of Best's alumni prior to their big days, but a mark of 94 - granted after that thirty length loss last time - looks workable.

Expect a break of between 60 and 260 days from that last run on 13th August before he wins.

And a horse who is a far better fit to the identikit profile put together in yesterday's post, is Staff Sergeant, rated 80 on the flat. He has so far had five runs over hurdles - the last three for Best - without getting nearer than 59 lengths to the winner. Awarded a rating of 89 after that last run, that looks extremely lenient in the context of his flat ability. His last race was on 17th June, so it will be interesting to see where he shows up next.

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It's the last day for entries into the ratings competition today. There's been a really good crop of entries so far, with 66 responses.

The competition closes at midnight tonight, and I'll announce the lucky winners next week.

To remind you, the prizes are:

Overall winner will receive a Lifetime subscription to Geegeez Gold

One runner up will receive an Annual subscription to Geegeez Gold

Both subscriptions include the excellent Peter May speed ratings, as well as all of the other brilliant winner-finding content in Gold.

All details of how to enter can be found here

**

Talking of winner-finding content, after a quiet enough week last week, Stat of the Day has been back with a bang in the last couple of days. Wednesday's confident selection was Anglo Irish, nominated at 7/2 and returned the 11/4 favourite. It only takes one bet like that from the six Stat of the Day puts up each week to ensure at worst a small loss and, happily, SotD has been punching well above that level for a couple of years now.

Your first 30 days for just £1

It was little surprise to SotD's loyal and raving fan base, then, when yesterday's pick, Charlottes Day, won easily. What was surprising was that the suggested 9/2 Best Odds Guaranteed price was actually returned 8/1 starting price. Eight. To one. Those two winners are enough to cover off even a fortnight's worth of supporting losers, though it is rarer than hen's dentures when that happens.

Some people subscribe to Geegeez Gold purely for Stat of the Day. After all, at £24 a month for a tipping service that has been worth 220 points profit since it started, that's going to easily cover the investment outlay. At £10 bets, it's £2,200. At £20 bets it's, well you do the sums... but it works!

Yesterday's comments included these generous beauties (ignoring the one from me)...

Stat of the Day comments

Stat of the Day comments

If you're not a subscriber to Geegeez Gold yet, you can trial Stat of the Day and all of the brilliant racecard features, including Dr Peter May's best of breed speed ratings, free for ten days. Full details are on this page.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Congratulations to Juan in Barcelona, our latest monthly Tipping League winner. His prize is £100 cash (about six thousand euros I think, at the current exchange rate. 😉 ), and he becomes the third winner in a row to be a Geegeez Gold subscriber. Just saying!

The Tipping League is open to all registered users, free or Gold, and you can win £100 every month. Go here to play.

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Also, whether you're a current Gold subscriber or not, there are still a few Lifetime places on offer. I have done very little to advertise this because... well, because I don't really need to or want to. I only make a few of these spots available at a time, and most of this batch have been taken this week.

For those who know they love Stat of the Day, and the Gold racecards and form tools, reports and Tracker, it's a great offer. For everyone else, as you were. 🙂

The link, if you need it, is here. When the Lifetime option has gone from that page, they're all gone, for now at least. The next time I open up a few spaces, whenever that is, they'll be slightly more expensive, as a reward to those who have already committed to Geegeez Gold; but also as a reflection of the ongoing investment we're making to the Gold tool kit.

I hope that all makes sense and sounds fair.

Lovely!

**

Now then, the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted a horse entered today which is running in the Geegeez colours. He's called Nonagon, and he's having his first run for us this afternoon in the 3.25 Newcastle.

A three year old with just one run to his name, a promising staying on fourth over an inadequate five furlongs, Nonagon has been off for almost 500 days. That's due to him picking up a tendon injury. But he's been nursed back to fitness by wily Wilf Storey, a man who knows more about horses than I ever will, and who has trained some smart ones in his time, though not so much recently.

Myself, Councillor Jim, Tobacco Charlie, and Derbyshire Pete own a half between us - or an eighth each, if you prefer - and we're hoping he gets home in one piece. We're not expecting him to make the frame - and nor is the market, he's a 33/1 shot - but I'll be having a tenner each way... just in case!! But we hope to have some fun with him once he's found his level.

I do occasionally get offered horses to syndicate and, as regular readers know, I occasionally buy one to syndicate. We've had a lot of fun with the likes of Khajaaly, Priceless Art and The Geegeez Geegee in recent times, and I might be tempted to put another syndicate together in the coming months. Do let me know if that's of interest to you.

**

I'm on daddy daycare duties all weekend, starting lunchtime today, as a consequence of Mrs Matt gallivanting off to do the Three Peaks Challenge, a twenty mile hill walk across the Yorkshire Moors. She's faintly mad, and is actually going to be 'yomping' or racing it!

Anyway, the reason I mention it is because I'm aiming to preview a handful of the Saturday TV races, but time may beat me. I will make every effort to go through the Haydock Sprint Cup, a deeply competitive Group 1; and the Old Newton Cup, an intriguing handicap. Beyond that, I'll do my best.

Have a great weekend from me and team here at geegeez, and back a winner or two!

48 Hours: The Highs and Lows of Horse Racing

Slipper Satin leaps to glory

Slipper Satin in better hurdling form

Last weekend was a bizarre one for me personally, and highlighted the highs and lows of horse racing in a polar fashion.

On Saturday, Slipper Satin, a filly in which I have a share (along with Councillor Jim), was due to race at Wetherby in a novices' hurdle. The Slipper Satin story is a roller coaster one in itself: she was bought very cheaply, finished a creditable third on her hurdling bow, then ran two bad (one very bad) races on the all weather. Presuming her to be moderate at best, we'd headed to Fakenham the last day more for the hog roast than the hurdling.

Shock and horror, then, when Slipper Satin surprised us royally by duffing up the odds-on Hendo hotpot by sixteen lengths, on the bridle, with another fifteen back to the third.

How quickly slim hope becomes fat expectation... The Wetherby race had four runners when declarations closed at 10am on Friday. But, with less than five declared, the race was re-opened for a further half an hour, and another name appeared on the list. Aurore d'Estruvale was the filly in question, bought by one of John Quinn's wealthier owners after an unlucky head second (flying at the finish, should have won) in a Pau novice event, when trained by Guillaume Macaire.

From being a 1/5 chance to win the race, we'd gone odds-against, a huge frustration but part of the game.

It was a three and a quarter hour schlep from East London to North Yorkshire, and that was with a charmed run. But a small price to pay to witness the next - and potentially most exciting - chapter in the Slipper Satin novella.

She looked fantastic in the preliminaries: a good bit broader than when we first got her, and with a more confident less agitated demeanour. She actually looked like she was enjoying herself.

Myself, Tony, Roger, Charlie and Councillor Jim assembled and discussed the merit of being second to the French filly with the Triumph and Supreme entries. Then Jack Quinlan appeared, legged up and cantered down to the start.

Slipper Satin has been provisionally rated 129 by the BHA, so they clearly feel she is a filly of some ability, and today was the day when we'd discover the likelihood of that being an accurate rating. I was reluctant to agree beforehand - rating her nearer to 110 myself - but happy enough to be shown otherwise on the track.

And they were off...

Jack had Slipper Satin nicely positioned in mid-division with clear daylight all around him as they came to the first obstacle.

Up she leapt... no! Down she pitched, and off she threw poor Jack. Slipper had all but fallen, and Jack had no chance of retaining the partnership, such was the sideways arch in Slipper's back and exaggerated peck of her neck to the turf.

It was an unbelievable moment. We'd not even got to the ongoing side of the first hurdle. So. Frustrating.

These things happen of course, and the small mercies for which we were grateful were a) Jack was all right, though he looked heartbroken, poor lad; and b) Slipper Satin was all right, despite running loose for a circuit and a bit with the reins threatening to trip her up or at least bruise her tendons.

Such is her newfound jumping alacrity - normally, at least - that she jumped one of the steeplechase fences down the back straight with zesty relish (something I was to taste on my burger not half an hour later). No good to us of course and, in point of fact, not much use to connections of the Quinn filly either: they learned little in a thirteen length stroll away from extremely moderate - but upright - opposition.

For us, it was the long trek home and a likely trip to either Plumpton or, preferably, Fontwell next week, weather permitting.

"That's show business", as Noel Quinlan, our trainer, ruefully whistled through a fairly fixed smile. It was a long wasted trip for all of us.

**

Sunday was a family day, but I'd booked myself an hour or so to look through the Punchestown card, as I felt the Pick 6 (a jackpot type of bet where players are required to find the winners of the first six races) was gettable.

I very rarely play the UK jackpot, as it's invariably fiendishly tricky. But its Irish equivalent is often a case of three bankers and a dragnet through the handicaps.

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Yesterday's was like that, with the added bonus that I had a strong opinion in one of the more competitive events. But, more importantly, the pool was laced with value. The Irish tote are currently heavily promoting their multi-race bets, with - recently - a bit of headway being made.

Yesterday there was a guaranteed €25,000 in the pool. There was also a rollover of €11,000. By the time the first race was off, the pool had swollen to €21,000. This meant - and this is key - that although there was a guarantee of 25k there was actually only about €10,000 worth of 'live' tickets in the pool. In other words, the amount of people playing was relatively small, meaning a win would not have to be shared too many ways.

If you're still with me, good, because you're starting to see why I consider this to be one of the last remaining regular value bets, even if you're a pretty clueless punter which, I'm sure, you're not! 😉

Sometimes I spread out in these bets, and sometimes I don't. The play for Punchestown yesterday was a 'shit or bust' 'caveman' ticket: one perm with all selections getting equal weight, and with plenty of banker action. In fact, I took three bankers, two in one race, and six and five respectively in the big handicap hurdle and chase.

They kicked off with a novice hurdle, and the 1/2 favourite, Chancol, obliged. Just. Good news. Penalty kick number one slotted home, though with less than a length to spare you could argue the 'keeper got a hand to it.

I was pretty confident in the next race, as I had the first two in the betting, and they dominated the market. Wicklow Brave, trained by Willie, and ridden by Ruby, cruised to an easy success, but was returned the 6/4 second favourite. Good news, as the 'unnamed favourite' tickets were lost.

Leg three was a shredder for plenty of folk: it was the Pertemps qualifier. This race is notorious as one where some are trying today, and plenty are just seeking to get qualified for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival. My cursory research told me this was a race perennially won by a more mature (i.e. older) horse, and I used the RAR to do the business from there. This is how the Race Analysis Report saw the race:

First two home best suited by deep ground...

First two home best suited by deep ground...

I took Jetson, Marlbrook, Clonard Lad, Thunder And Roses, Inis Meain and Questions Answered. Jetson - with lots of green in his profile and, at nine, the right age for a race like this - prevailed at 14/1, from Thunder And Roses, the 4/1 favourite. Inis Meain was third at 10's.

Still rolling at half way, and with a 14/1 winner slimming the pool down nicely. There were 220 units still running, and 205 of them were on Arvika Ligeonniere in the feature Tied Cottage Chase. He hacked up in the style of a horse that could win the Champion Chase, but beware, he clunked in the Arkle last year (carrying my cash).

Four down, two to go, and me and 205 other folks were cheering various nags in the P.P. Hogan Memorial, a cross country chase over the banks and brooks. I had this down to two horses: Big Shu and Love Rory. Big Shu was favoured by the market but the trainer had said he'd definitely need the run, so I banked (pardon the pun) on Love Rory. He was a 5/1 shot in the morning but, by post time, the burliness of his main market rival had rendered him a strong 2/1 favourite.

Long and short, he won easily, and my boldness (which could easily have looked like recklessness had Big Shu beaten him) left me with five arrows in the last. The last was a 3m4f handicap chase - a Grand National trial, no less - and five arrows spread around eighteen runners was about thirteen less than I'd have liked. Especially considering I had neither of the 5/1 and 11/2 favourites. Hmm...

Once again, I asked the RAR to bail me out. Once again, it came up trumps. When the ground is heavy, it is my primary consideration when making a bet. Here's how the RAR looked, sorted by going and placed runs. I took #'s 1, 4, 7, 8, and 14, for what will be obvious reasons.

Heavy, heavy monster show...

Heavy, heavy monster show...

Note especially the heavy ground form of the two favoured runners, Sword Fish and Thelobstercatcher. It was not to be a good day for fruits of the sea wagerers...

Turning in, four of my quintet occupied the second to fifth spots behind game front runner, Sole Witness. They were quickly whittled away until I had only Folsom Blue in my corner. Fortunately for me, under a confident ride, he was always getting the better of the gallant Sole Witness, a horse which - had he won - I'd have cursed not including.

The wager was landed, and I shared half a ticket in the pool with 7.5 others. Gross pool of €25,000, less 30% take out, made a net pool of €17,500. Eight winning tickets settled the dividend at €2,187.50. My €30 caveman perm was worth a tidy €1,093.75. And I had the RAR, and the Irish tote to thank.

And, if you think this is hard, let me tell you that that is the fourth time I've collected on the Pick 6 since mid-November! From just eight attempts in that time!!!

Sometimes, I go in with a small caveman effort like yesterday, and sometimes a more robust ABX perm, but make no mistake, this is a winnable bet where value is doubly manifest through the rollovers and the guarantees.

Nice draw, thanks to the guarantee and the rollover...

Nice draw, thanks to the guarantee and the rollover...

If you have the RAR on your side, you have more than a squeak.

If you don't have the RAR on your side, why the hell not?! Get it here. (It's free...)

So yes, a curious weekend all told.

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Now then, on a different subject, this Thursday is the Tattersalls sale, and I'm contemplating another syndicate. Here's what I'm thinking:

 - Ten or twelve in the syndicate
- Initial payment of no more than £600 for a tenth or twelfth (depending syndicate size)
- Monthly cost of between £150 and £175

The idea would be to get a horse that is relatively fit and has some scope to be a dual purpose type. If there's sufficient interest, I'll press ahead. If not, I won't. Please leave a comment below expressing interest if it sounds like fun to you. Commenting obviously doesn't obligate you but it will help me get a handle on numbers.

You will, though, have to put up with me at the races. Every silver lining has a cloud. 😉

Matt

A New Horse…

Short post today. I blame the nights drawing in. And the boy not sleeping. As a consequence of the latter, I'm up an hour late, and as a consequence of the former, the first race at Sandown - where I'm headed - is slated for 12.35.

But there is still a good bit to share. News of a new horse, running today. And a competition. Plus why on earth am I goofing off at Sandown anyway?

Let's start with the horse.

The New Horse...

The New Horse...

I was approached through a friend - Tony Stafford, your Sunday Supplementer, no less - about getting involved in a new nag. It was an interesting and cost-effective proposition, and I watched her in her first run for her new stable seventeen days ago.

That was a two mile juvenile novice hurdle, on heavy ground. She was third, beaten eight lengths. And she failed to comfortably clear a single timber obstacle.

Previously, in Ireland, she'd been trained by a fellow called John Joseph Murphy, and campaigned at between five and nine furlongs. She even won at a mile.

But her new trainer, Noel Quinlan, feels she needs much further. In fact, he thinks Slipper Satin (4.30 Wolverhampton) will be better over further than the mile and a half she races this afternoon.

Despite that, she is expected to improve a fair bit on her Irish mile form and, if she does, she ought to have a good chance. She's 7/1 just now, and I'm on for the Christmas expenses.

My ownership only extends to a quarter, and I share that with 'Councillor' Jim Cannon, who some of you current or former geegeez syndicate members know. She runs in the geegeez colours today and, while I'm very hopeful of a decent run, it's a race full of if's and but's.

****

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Slipper Satin's chance is somewhat improved by the fact that I can't be at Wolverhampton today. As seems to usually be the way, the geegeez horses run best when I'm elsewhere, and I committed some weeks ago to a Christmas booze up meeting with some of my colleagues in the business.

So this afternoon, I'll be in the restaurant at Sandown drinking discussing ideas with the likes of Darren Power of Bet School, Michael Wilding from Race Advisor, the Agora boys, Matt Watson, Nick and Andrew from Cleeve, and - I think - Matt Nesbitt from Oxfordshire Press.

Yes, we should get very drunk lots of inspiration this afternoon!

I'll try and get a picture of this most roguish of rogue's galleries... if I remember!

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Now then, we've another competition running on geegeez just now, which is based on Sunday's UK racing. There are two meetings, one at Kelso and one at Warwick, and your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to predict the total winning distances from the fourteen races hosted at those two tracks on Sunday.

If you're closest, you'll win all - or a share, in the unlikely event of a tie - of the £100 free bet pot up for grabs.

It's a simple enough competition, and doesn't really require a lot of skill. Just think of a number, and enter it here.

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And finally, thank you very much to the almost 500 new subscribers who worked through the registration process in the last couple of days. A few of you - and it was only a few in the grand scheme of things - had issues, with which Chris and I are doing what we can to assist. We will, or perhaps today I should say, Chris will, continue to help.

But do please bear with us. And thanks again for taking time to be a registered member of your geegeez community.

I'll be back tomorrow with all the weekend specials news. In the meantime, have a great Friday, cheer on Slipper Satin, and enter that compy!

Oh, and if anyone has a good hangover remedy, leave a comment in the box below. 😉

Matt

Monday Musings: Eclipsing

Al Kazeem wins the Eclipse

Al Kazeem wins the Eclipse

I didn't get to Sandown on Saturday. I had arranged to be down in Dorset to go out on a power boat. As it transpired, there was no horse power for me of any description, as the starter motor on this monster wave cutter (top speed 90 mph!) refused to perform the task after which it was named.

On shore leave for the afternoon, then, there was nothing to do but drink cold beer in the blazing sunshine and talk cobblers with my old school mates, with whom I was supposed to be thrill-seeking around the harbour/bay. Ah well, another day.

Whilst I was busy doing nothing, some of the best mile and a quarter thoroughbreds in the world were convening in Esher for the Coral Eclipse, the first major showdown of the ages, as the Classic generation took on their elders in Group 1 company for round one of a battle that will wage for the rest of the season.

In that context at least, the Eclipse was a damp squib: just one three-year-old showed up, and he - Mars - would not be the most illustrious of his generation, though nor in fairness would he be a second-rater.

The long and short of it was that the existing world order was maintained, with Prince Of Wales's Stakes victor, Al Kazeem, plundering Sandown's richest prize. He beat the same horse in Mukhadram by a bit further than the last day, and he beat Declaration Of War - a mile winner at Royal Ascot but running on here - and the rest as well.

Al Kazeem is so good at ten furlongs that, although I may have intimated he would operate equally effectively at a mile and a half previously, I now suspect this is his optimum. If he was mine (haha, what a big if), I'd rest him now before an Autumn campaign, taking in an Arc trial with a view to stretching back out, and then toying with Santa Anita's ten dirt furlongs for the Breeders Cup Classic, and/or the riches on offer in the Far East through our winter. And that does seem to be the plan, skipping the immediate glory of the King George along the way.

Be that as it may, Al Kazeem is clearly at the top of his trade currently. The ones behind, especially Declaration Of War, mostly all showed promise for another day.The Declaration seemed to take a very long time to hit stride before running on, and I'm not sure where next given that he had the speed to win over a straight mile last time. Perhaps that's the thing with him: he's not overly predictable just yet, a notion that his floppy effort in the Lockinge when strongly fancied supports.

Mukhadram is destined to get close but no cigar, due to his brave - perhaps stupid? - front-running style. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting it's a stupid tactic - it clearly works best for the horse, and makes optimal use of his capabilities - but it is a 'heart on sleeve' style of running generally doomed to pick up place money.

In any case, this was another fine run, and he should be able to snatch a Group 2 even if leaving himself wide open with his run style.

Mars is a horse that has polarized opinion in the 'pro' ranks. Some believe he is a horse of immense promise, some feel he's over-hyped. Me? I can see merit in both arguments, and take him at face value: a nag that has mixed it with the best from a mile to a mile and a half, and generally come up a little way short. That still makes him high class, and after just five runs, he remains progressive.

From a punting perspective, his problem is that he has never been the price he should be. He's playable at a value price, because he is probably capable of winning a Group 1. Probably. But 9/2 in a race like the Eclipse was, as I wrote in my preview, a bit skinny.

Miblish is a Listed horse running above his class, but he keeps picking up bits and pieces of prize money, and might steal a Group 3 this term. He's entered in the Tattersalls Sales this week and it will be interesting to see what price he fetches.

The last two home, Pastorius and The Fugue, were both disapppointing, the former more predictably so. The Fugue is better than this, but she may go back against the girls now in a bid to get her season back on track.

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Lovely price on Al Kazeem

Lovely price on Al Kazeem

Talking of Al Kazeem, I hope at least some of you took the 3/1 available with the sponsors on Saturday morning. If winning at this game is about finding value, then turning a blind eye to standout offers like that is akin to admitting defeat.

Obviously, there was a good chance that something would beat Al Kazeem. But as I wrote in my Eclipse preview here, the front four in the betting were all playable at a particular price.

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My price for Al Kazeem was 5/2, so 3/1 was - in my opinion - cracking value. Of course, if you felt he should be 7/2 or bigger, then you wouldn't have backed him. But, seriously, who could possibly make him that price?! 😉

So, yes, I hope you backed him, because win, lose or draw, that was knocking value. I'll continue to bring such standouts to your attention. They won't all win, but they will all (or in vast majority at least) have a fair bit better chance of winning than the bonus odds imply.

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Top class racing remains a feature through July, with Newmarket's literally-named July meeting running from Thursday to Saturday. It's my great hope to get there one day this week, but work pressures might preclude it alas.

In any case, aside from an embarrassingly low turnout in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes - just five declared - it should be three wonderful days racing. I'll try to preview at least a couple of races each day on here, if time allows, and perhaps all if we go the placepot route there.

Then all roads lead to the Glorious G's: Goodwood and Galway, and there will be plenty of previews, free bets, tips and placepots in support of those high summer jamborees. Can't wait!!

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Back to more mundane (pronounced Monday-n) fare, and we still have Stat of the Day, Daily Dabble, placepot picks, and Mal's Stat Pack. If you want to be notified of their publication, the easiest way is to follow @geegeez_uk on twitter. All geegeez blog posts are notified there as soon as they're posted.

That's especially helpful if you follow my placepot picks, as I can be a bit unpredictable in terms of posting time, depending on what else is happening on any given day.

So do give @geegeez_uk a follow on twitter. And, while you're about it, you might like to follow me on there too (and you might not!!). I'm @mattbisogno and can normally be found ranting about something on there...

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One other thing to mention today is the tipping league. Have you joined yet? It's free to enter and there is £200 in free bet prizes up for grabs if you have a BetVictor account.

You can register for the tipping league here. (Just click the register button)

And you can sign up for BetVictor by clicking BetVictor.

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The new Geegeez geegee

The new Geegeez geegee

Finally today, something a little out of synch with the time of year, granted.

Stalwart of the geegeez horses, Khajaaly, is heading to the sales next week. He's been a grand servant, winning three times and placing in the top four seventeen times in his 36 race career, and we hope someone outside of Newmarket will take a chance on him. He's certainly handicapped to win but maybe just needs a change of scenery to re-ignite his enthusiasm a tad.

In his place, we'll welcome a brand new unraced four-year-old gelding by top National Hunt stallion, Beneficial. He's been broken and ridden now, and will be put out in a field next for a couple of months, before coming into training in September with a view to running towards the end of the year.

There he is on the right, and here's a link to his catalogue page, where you can see how nicely bred he is.

He's being trained by the excellent Anthony Honeyball, a man with one of the best strike rates in the country, especially in bumpers, where our boy will start his racing adventure.

He will need a name - the best I've come up with so far is The Geegeez Geegee, and I'm pretty sure we can do better than that!!! - and he is being syndicated into sixteenth shares. Twelve are already spoken for from existing syndicate members or people who responded to my email about this a week or two ago. That means there are a couple of shares remaining if you might be interested.

Shares are £1,200 and then £120 per month, and that covers everything bar major surgery and foreign travel. In both those cases, we'd need a majority verdict from members to go forward with it.

Just drop me an email at info@geegeez.co.uk if you'd like to know more, and I'll send you all the lowdown.

Have a great day!
Matt

Friday Catch up: Horses and stuff…

Khajaaly

Khajaaly

It's been a while since I wrote, and there's a fair bit to catch up on. In today's post, I've got news of a geegeez horse... and in fact all the horses I've got an interest in; there's a few words about a rare day at the races for me yesterday; and an interesting report you can download.

I'll also have a full Hennessy preview later on. Woohoo!

OK, let's get cracking.

This evening, dear old Khajaaly, geegeez.co.uk's three-times winning flat horse, runs again at Wolverhampton. Wolves is his spiritual home, and he's won all three of his races at the track, the last of which was off today's handicap rating of 70.

In truth, we think the race is a bit tough for him tonight, with a few in there who have a touch more talent. But, as ever, he's trying his best and if they go off quickly enough, a number of them will come back to him. His running style is to be held up a little off the pace and pass beaten horses, and that's a route which has seen him in the first four on nine occasions at Wolverhamption (from thirteen tries).

If he finishes in the top six tonight, we'll be happy. If he makes the frame, we'll be delighted. Soon enough he'll be in his rightful grade, which is 0-70 handicaps.

Now Khajaaly is not the only horse syndicated through geegeez.co.uk. We also have a National Hunt horse in training called Priceless Art, who is in training with the excellent Anthony Honeyball. He's yet to run for us, but was bought from Alan Swinbank's stable and already has some very nice form. Indeed, he's won nine and been second/third in seven more of his 21 races!

There are a couple of shares available in Khajaaly. Contact me or Julia directly if interested.

We're very much looking forward to seeing him run, hopefully in a few weeks, and we'll be tilting at windmills until he tells us to get sensible! If we're really lucky, we'll be able to go for a Cheltenham handicap, though he'd need to improve about a stone on his current mark to do that. Hope springs eternal.

The Priceless Art syndicate is sold out.

Elsewhere, and I have an interest in another horse at Julia Feilden's yard, called Vastly. Vastly is an interesting fellow. Firstly, he's not yet raced, despite being a month off his fourth birthday. Secondly, he was in training until a month ago with Sir Henry Cecil. And thirdly, he is closely related to Await The Dawn, Putney Bridge, and Spruce (trained by Julia to win four on the bounce back in 2010).

He's going nicely and looks an interesting horse. There are a couple of shares available in Vastly. Contact me or Julia directly if interested.

And I have a very small share in a horse in training with Clive Mulhall, called Think. He's not very good, in truth, but hopefully he'll win a little race over hurdles, which is where he's headed next. Shares also available in that one. Contact Clive directly.

Then there's the clubs!

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I'm in the Popbitch Racing Club, which has leased George Baker this season. (The horse, not the trainer!)

GB has run five times for that club and, though moderate  on all of the first four, he suddenly came good last time, winning at 8/1. Unfortunately - for me at least - I didn't have a penny on. Forgot all about it. Doh!

And I'm also in the Anthony Honeyball Racing Club. This club costs £300 for a year, and for that you get an interest in three or four horses, flat and jumps. Currently, only the now retired Cresswell Crusader has won for the club, but we have some interesting horses for the winter and further winners ought not to be too far away.

Details of that one are here.

And that's it! Phew. Actually, when I list them all out like that, I do think I should cut back a bit. But fractional ownership, via clubs or syndicates, is a great value way to get involved in racing, if you're that way inclined.

********

Uttoxeter twitterati

Uttoxeter twitterati (and half a burger)

Yesterday was a rare day at the races for me - actually it was the second rare day at the races in eight days, as I'd been to Folkestone last week - and I was at Uttoxeter on a sunny but bracing afternoon for the #uttoxetertwitterati meet up.

I imagine that the vast majority of you have no idea what I'm going on about that, so let me enlighten you. The 'twitterati' are merely people who are on twitter, and the Uttoxeter twitterati are a group of racing nuts who are on twitter.

A very fine group they were too, and here's some of them in a picture. Unhappily for me, the snapper caught me mid-burger (such filth!), but as you'll see twitter is for all ages, and boys and girls.

It was an excellent afternoon in the company of passionate National Hunt racegoers and, whilst I was the only one not to find a winner, that failed to detract from a very pleasant diversion from the laptop for a few hours. 🙂

My thanks to @chutneydave (Dave Massey) for arranging and for being such a hospitable host.

I should add that there's lots of good racing conversations on twitter, and I gatecrash some of them! You can join twitter by clicking here. And you can follow me by clicking the 'follow' button here.

If things go right, and the weather doesn't intervene, I may actually get a third day at the track this side of Christmas next Thursday at Wincanton's Racing Welfare meeting. There is a charity race on the card, with trainers riding (yikes!), and I'm hoping to sponsor one of these formerly good riders. More in due course...

********

And finally in this whistlestop roundup, I've news of a very interesting free report, which has been released by one of the students, Nicky Doyle. Nicky chooses his area of focus carefully, and is selective in his wagering. His report has some decent lessons/reminders for all of us, and it's worth a read over the weekend.

You can download it here.

********

I'll be back later today with a full preview of Saturday's Newbury card, featuring the Hennessy Gold Cup, so stay tuned for that.

Matt

Stat of the Day: 9th Jan 2012

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day: 9th January 2012

Yet another winner for us yesterday, meaning we finished with five  winners from seven in the week! Given that the odds were 14/1, 4/7 (heavily backed), 4/1, 7/2 and 7/4 (well backed), it was one of those Midas weeks and we should expect the fickle finger of fate to give us the bird sooner rather than later… 😉

With that in mind, I'm going for a longer priced selection today, but one that I think has solid enough credentials, in the

2.25 Wolverhampton

Frank Sheridan is a man to keep an eye on at Wolves. He trains on the track, and so his horses all know their way home there. And when they win, they generally win at a price!

One I know quite well, having backed him in savers against Khajaaly around this seven furlong polytrack oval, is Needwood Ridge.

He's a hold up horse who runs on late in his races, and has been inconvenienced - like our own Khajaaly - by the really slow pace in his recent starts. In fact, in four of his last six starts, he's raced against Khajaaly.

That sextet of starts included a second place finish, and he's also won over the course and distance... beating Khajaaly by a neck!

Today, he has the car park draw (12 of 12), which is tough for a front-runner, but for a hold up horse like Needwood Ridge might be ideal. His last win was in Class 5 off a mark of 66. Today, he has dropped to a Class 6 race and has a rating of just 65.

He has been 1-2-3 in five of his eleven all weather starts and is far less exposed than most of these. I'm taking some of the 10/1 each way with a best odds guaranteed bookie.

Click here for the latest betting on the 2.25 Wolverhampton.

Tuesday Roundup

It feels a bit like the calm before the storm today, what with the big York Ebor meeting due to start tomorrow. That fixture now runs for four days, with the Ebor itself being run on Saturday for the first time in its history. Read more

This Week At Geegeez

This Week at Geegeez...Just a quick line to share the 'menu' with you for this week here on Geegeez. I'm actually going to be away for a few days, but I don't want you to miss out on some excellent content here on the site, just because you didn't get an email from me pointing you to it! 😉

So, before I tell you what's happening this week, let me also tell you what I'm up to right now... Read more

Geegeez Racing Club Day Review

Geegeez Racing Club's Khajaaly

Geegeez Racing Club's Khajaaly was centre of attention at the Geegeez Racing Club Day in Newmarket

Saturday saw members of the Geegeez Racing Club and their guests convene for a day of horse-related interest in Newmarket, the headquarters of flat racing in the UK.

It actually all started on Friday night, when around sixteen of us met for a glass (or two) at the Rutland Hotel in Newmarket town. Stories and jokes were traded at breakneck pace, and many of us - particularly me, I have to concede - had subsequent trouble with the early morning rise on Saturday. The lock in at the Reindeer where we were staying didn't help... 😉

So to Saturday and after the aforementioned struggles with surfacing and donning finery, we gathered at the National Stud under a breezy but sunny sky. There were 35 of us in total, hosted by Julia herself and, as we boarded the bus to head for Hamilton Hill gallops, Julia gave us some tour notes about the local trainers and celebs on the Hamilton Road. One of those residents - known for being a wily old fox and bookies' scourge - was to have a minor bearing on my evening much later, but more of that in due course.

Once we'd arrived at the viewing space on Hamilton Hill gallops, we were treated to what can best be described as a 'fly past' of some of the Feilden stable's string, including Bavarica and Khajaaly, who were both having their final 'breezes' prior to runs this afternoon. Generous Genella also whizzed by prior to her Monday entry but she was balloted out unfortunately so will have to await another day.

[Khajaaly was in the middle of three in the second group.]

After the 'fly past', the horses stopped by us on the way back for further photos, and our chap, Khajaaly was an absolute gentleman, handling the 'media attention' of his fans and owners in his substantial stride. He has a pretty good temperament and looked extremely well in himself.

Khajaaly (right) under the watchful eye of  Julia Feilden

Khajaaly (right) under the watchful eye of Julia Feilden

He's really bulked up since we first got him, when he had quite a big frame but not a lot of meat on him. Now he looks much stronger in the shoulder and has filled out a fair bit of that frame, so much so that we're toying with trying a sprint trip with him at some point. But not today, when he will contest the 4.40 at Wolverhampton. Again, more on that below.

We reboarded the bus with our next destination being Harraton Stables, in Exning. It's a beautiful corner of England, and a real shrine to 'doing things the right way'. There are no gambling owners (well, maybe one ;-)), no mass production line of animals all fed pellets and left to fend for themselves.

Harraton Stables is a boarding house for equines of the highest order. Something of a boutique affair, if you will. All of the residents are treated with the best care, and have a diet that is probably unsurpassed by four-legged creatures across the town (with the possible exception of the Newmarket butcher's dog!)

Khajaaly, with handler Zak

They say owners start to look like their pets... Khajaaly, with handler Zak 😉

We got to see and befriend recent winners, Sail Home (owned in majority by Geegeez Racing Club members) and Sancho Panza; as well as two year old winner, Red Hearts, and high class filly, Emma's Gift.

We also waved to Night Orbit ('Olly') who was away in a field after his fine run at York last week, when he was sixth of seventeen over an unsuitably short trip of 2m2f (!)

And we met 'the beast', an unraced 2yo called Acer Diamonds. He's a remarkably physically precocious sort, and looks like a 4yo sprinter already! He's also a feisty customer, as one of our number can especially testify: she was the recipient of a fairly toothy 'love bite' from Acer. (Katherine, I hope you're fine after that :-).

John, Julia's husband, gave us the feed talk before we headed off. I've seen and heard this presentation about half a dozen times now, and I never tire of it. It is impressive and satisfying to understand the level of care our horses have there, and this is exemplified by the stuff they scoff at their (five!) meal times each day.

Only the best, including specially prepared dishes each day, and twice a week a special 'broth' that John cooks - literally - and a liberal dollop of God's linctus, manuka honey.

Your first 30 days for just £1

We bade farewell to the nags there and clambered back onto our bus for the much-awaited (especially by those, like me, who'd had no breakfast) trip to The Wheatsheaf, Exning's trainer-run pub, in the capable hands of handler Ken Clutterbuck and Julia's sister, Poppy.

The bacon and sausage sandwiches were heaven sent for strugglers like myself, as was the decent coffee being dispensed. I almost felt human again after that... almost!

By now, the unfamiliarity of so many disparate part-owners brought together through a website had dissolved and the banter was flowing as quickly as I was knocking back caffeine infusions. A number of us were to return to The Wheatsheaf that evening for a 'debrief' and a further glass or two.

Butties polished, the bus awaited us once more for the final leg of our driver's trip, back to the National Stud. Once there, we were joined on our own bus by Malcolm, an articulate, entertaining and somewhat 'cheeky chappy' guide, who gave us a fantastic hour of insights around the National Stud.

On our way round, we were able to say hello to many of the stallions there, including Cockney Rebel who has his first juvenile crop running this season and has already thrown dual winner, Cockney Fire from a handful of starters to date; and Myboycharlie, another having his first crop out this year.

The covering barn was next and, with the lights romantically dimmed (ahem), we were treated to a spiel on how the job gets done. We were also shown some interesting toys and accessories, about which I'll say no more and leave your minds to wander. Some will clearly wander further than others! 😉

Before our stud tour concluded, we were lucky enough to meet the newest arrival on the farm, a three DAY old foal and his mum. This tottering little creature was a sight to behold, and the comparisons with Bambi were perfectly fair. He was a curious little fellow and, tentatively, made his way towards the part of the fence where we'd congregated.

His mum, shrewder and obviously more worldly than junior, allowed him to approach only so far before gently herding him back with a subtle brush of her head against his. But our lad wasn't that easily deterred and headed still closer before flashing the gummiest of smiles - think Albert Steptoe and you'll be in the right ballpark!

It was now a shade after 1pm, four and a bit hours had whizzed by, and we had an engagement at the track for afternoon racing. The quality, for Newmarket, was moderate it should be said and, whilst those around me all managed to find winners so far as I could tell, I got what I deserved: no research is not a strong foundation for fairly heavy wagering, and I was cheerfully 'uncashed' by the bookies. Just desserts for pathetic indiscipline. 🙁

Me (left), my great mate Gavin (centre) and Mrs G, aka Sam (right)

Me (left), my great mate Gavin (centre) and Mrs G, aka Sam (right) in the comfy Premier Enclosure seats

Gavin and Gary both hit big-priced winners, so well done to them (except that they didn't share their fortune with me!)

The lovely Mrs Matt keeping an eye on my ear (near left, in familiar glass to mouth pose)

The lovely Mrs Matt keeping an eye on my ear (near left, in familiar glass to mouth pose)

No matter, for even such irritations could not deter my enjoyment of the company of friends and fellow club members. After racing, and a brief hiatus for a snooze, the quintet of us in the Reindeer (myself and Mrs Matt, Carole; David and Melanie; and, Neil) taxied over to The Wheatsheaf to meet with other thirsty members of the group: Jim, Charlie, Karen, James, Dave, Freddie and Thelma, and of course John and Julia.

Food and wine flowed, as did tales of past glories and disasters, as the night descended towards a watery closing time. At around 11.30, it was time to draw stumps and grab a taxi. Successfully ordered ('ten to fifteen minutes, mate'), I returned to the bar to finish the last of my Guinness and await the car's arrival along with my fellow Reindeer residents.

Half an hour passed and no taxi, so I called the firm and enquired about its whereabouts. "Oh", said the controller, "that taxi was taken - was it not by you? The driver did call in and say he'd been rerouted to the Hamilton Road. I'll send another one".

I went inside, suitably miffed, and explained to Ken, the landlord what had happened. "Ah yes", he said, "that was Michael Wigham, Newmarket's shrewdest - he's always doing that".

I'd been Wigham'ed and vowed that I'd follow his next punt to get my own back!

In seriousness, it was a short wait until the new cab arrived and we made good time back to the Reindeer. Such good time, in fact, that there was sufficient remaining on the clock for a last nightcap before bed.

A truly excellent day for yours truly, which I hope was enjoyed at least half as much by the other attendees (actually, I know it was, because many of them have already been in touch to say as much!)

Thank you to all for your company, and I'll look forward to doing something similar in October in the new Geegeez Racing Club year.

Here's the video I took last year with the National Stud and the stables on it.

Finally, as I mentioned Khajaaly runs this afternoon in the 4.40 race and it's a pretty decent contest for the grade / day. Our boy is in great form, and we're very hopeful, but there's a few tough nuts to be cracked if we're to reach the winners' enclosure for a third time.

Khajaaly is a general 5/1 chance and the race should be run to suit, with lots of pace off which Jimmy can try to make a sustained late run. The pace will also suit likely favourite and big recent improver, Polemica, and he's probably the main danger.

I've had a good bet, each way, and am hopeful rather than confident.

Four Geegeez Horses Running This Week

Khajaaly bids for more glory next week...

Khajaaly bids for more glory next week...

Just a quick post to tell you that, after Smarties Party's disappointing run last Friday at Ripon, the other three horses I have interests in all run this week... and an ex-Geegeez Racing Club horse also runs tonight.

Now it's entirely possible that they'll all get turned over, but it's quite exciting to have so many mini-interests. I feel a bit like Sheikh Mohammed must do on a quiet week! 🙂

Anyway, Smarties Party - in whom I own a small share - has been a little disappointing recently but she'll be back at Sedgefield, where she won her only race, next time on May 18th.

Between now and then, a quartet of current or ex-Geegeez / Bisogno equine interests contest races up and down the country.

This afternoon, at 4.50, on the Norfolk coast (Yarmouth to be precise), Sail Home will carry topweight in a 0-60 contest with Adam Beschizza doing the steering. She's capable of winning in the grade and is going well at home, but... but... the ground is plenty firm enough for her. Indeed, if Adam decides it's riding genuinely firm in his earlier races, she'll not run.

If she does, and she doesn't mind the hoof-rattling experience, she ought to go close.

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Then, later tonight, up at Sedgefield (7.45), former Geegeez Racing Club inmate and confirmed stroppy mare, Always De One, bids to break her duck in an amateur rider's handicap hurdle. Now trained by Ken Clutterbuck, there will be much for the Geegeez Racing Club mob to discuss with Ken at his Newmarket boozer on Saturday morning over bacon sandwiches should this one win or go close.

[About forty of us are descending on Newmarket for our biannual club day, and Ken is providing a refreshment stop at his pub, The Wheatsheaf, before we head on for the rest of our activities: gallops, stud, stables, racetrack, pub!]

In truth, ADO has something to find, but in a race where none of them can be especially trusted (with the possible exception of the Veronicas Boy), she might have a chance. First time visor is a negative for me, though.

Then, on Thursday, I'll be at York for the Dante meeting. Night Orbit will be too, where he'll take on seventeen rivals including teammate, Blackmore, in the 4.45 race over two miles two furlongs. Greg Fairley again takes the ride after a fine performance in the saddle the last day at Pontefract (2m6f on the flat!), and - whilst it's a Class 4 race, which is better than he normally contests - he'll definitely stay and the likely quick pace will be in his favour.

Blackmore is a good horse. He's rated 75, which is fair, and he'll win more races this year. Obviously, there will be an interesting stable battle ensuing here, and the champion jockey, Paul Hanagan, can't hurt his chance.

But Night Orbit has a decent each way squeak, and I'll be betting accordingly.

Finally, after Newmarket's day at the races on Saturday with no particular personal interest, Khajaaly is likely to get an entry for Wolverhampton on Monday. He's very well and we've just been waiting for a race for him. Fingers crossed that he will again be competitive and, who knows?, maybe even win for a third time this season. That would be too much to ask really, but that's why we do it! 😀

Watch out for these and cheer them on, whether you back them or not. They need your support!

Back tomorrow with a look at the York meeting.

Matt

Cheltenham December Meeting Review: Festival Pointers

Racing at Cheltenham is rarely anything other than top class, dear reader, and the weekend just passed was like a 'mini Festival' with so many trainers keen to get a run into so many horses when they'd normally try to avoid meeting each other prior to the March meeting.

So what did the action tell us, aside from the fact - pointed out to me numerous times - that Faasel is not quite as reliable a stick as I'd envisaged. Trying to explain to people who simply want winners the concepts of value and the long term benefits of using trends can sometimes be pointless. So, to those who just want winners, sorry but you'll not find any guarantees of that here on any given day.

But for the vast majority of you who understand that if you generally take 14/1 about  horses that start at 11/1 (as Faasel did), you'll come out in front.

Onwards. What did we learn at the Cheltenham December meeting? We learnt the following:

1. Spirit River is a hurdler. He hates fences, and has now fallen on both attempts in novice chase company. Anyone who takes the 20/1 with Betfred (or even the 33/1 best price with William Hill) wants their head examining. As it stands, he must be half those odds to even line up in this race, given his high class form over the smaller obstacles. And running in a 2m5f race is a curious preparation for a two mile championship contest, in any event.

Reve De Sivola

Reve De Sivola - not one for the mortgage...

2. Reve De Sivola is not one to rely on for a Cheltenham win. Despite taking the novice chase that Spirit River fell in, this was his first victory in seven attempts at the Cheltenham HQ of jump racing. The horse to take from the race was probably Wishfull Thinking, who finished a length and a bit behind RdS,  having been badly hampered by fallers on the way round.

Wishfull Thinking would have appreciated a bit more pace as he travels very well, and he might make up into an interesting contender for a race like the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual which, these days, is the last race of the Festival I believe.

3. Midnight Chase not only has a touch of class, he also has some guts to back it up with. I had expected the weight and the slightly stiffer competition in the Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase to find Neil Mulholland's charge out on Friday. But he proved me wrong in fine style. Despite lugging more lead than all bar the increasingly apathetic Neptune Collonges (should be retired probably, or sent hunting at least), he had a great time of it out in front, gradually raising the tempo under a spot on Dougie Costello ride, to overhaul the only horse who dared to challenge his front-running rate, Presenting Forever.

The second horse was in receipt of seventeen pounds from the winner, and they were strung out like Christmas fairy lights behind. Whether this was a Gold Cup-challenging performance is a moot point, as the horse should be considered on his (and his connections') merits to date in my opinion. I will say this though: I feel quite strongly that this is a changeover year in the Gold Cup hierarchy, and as an eight year old there's likely more improvement in Midnight Chase than any of Imperial Commander, Kauto Star or Denman. There will need to be!

4. Al Ferof may take a while to get over his tumble. Second behind Cue Card in the Cheltenham Bumper in March, Al Ferof made his eagerly awaited hurdling bow in the last race on Friday. He received robust support in the betting exchanges, and cantered to the front before two out. He then proceeded to make a total horlicks of the obstacle, and took a nasty fall. Al Ferof obviously has lots of class, and a very high cruising speed.

Those two elements alone will win bumpers and other flat races, but you have to be able to jump if you want to get to the top of the National Hunt tree. I'd be wary of taking short odds about this chap until I've seen him put in a full round of jumping. Nevertheless, he remains a bright prospect with that caveat firmly in mind.

5. Woolcombe Folly may not be done winning yet. I took an interest in this one last year, when I hoped he'd run well in the Arkle. In fact, he ran a stinker at 25/1. Prior to that, he'd won his last five chases and hurdles races, and since then he's racked up another three victories, including two at Cheltenham - this being the second of those. He'll likely have an entry for the Champion Chase now. Having been available at 110 on Betfair last week for that race, I'm not too keen on taking the 10/1 now.

That said, if you can forgive his bad Festival run in March, there's a lot to like about this fella. While Master Minded, Big Zeb and co. may be a different kettle of kippers entirely, it's far from folly to suggest that Woolcombe will win again between now and the Festival.

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6. Sam Winner is by far the best juvenile novice seen so far. So far, being the operative phrase. Before you pile into the 9/2 best price, bear in mind that only one of the last seven winners of the Triumph Hurdle had run over hurdles in UK prior to December. Katchit was the exception, and five of the last seven winners were not seen on the track before this Wednesday's scheduled Newbury meeting.

Of the horses in there, it's Sam Winner's stable mate, Empire Levant, that looks the most interesting. He's unraced here, having won three and been nosed into second in a fourth contest in France, and has Sir Alex Ferguson as one of his owners... Of the other pre-entries, Rare Symphony was highly rated on the Flat and may be expected to perform well in the Newbury race and subsequently truncate in the betting for the Triumph. Although that's speculative in the extreme, it's probably a better option than 9/2 about the best novice seen so far...

Time For Rupert

Time For Rupert? It could well be...

7. Time For Rupert is the best staying novice seen out so far. Whilst juvenile hurdlers are generally brought late to the party prior to winning the Triumph, the same is not true of RSA Chase winners. Indeed, you have to go back to 1998 to find the last RSA Chase winner to debut over fences later than the end of November. That was Florida Pearl. In that context, Time For Rupert must have a favourite's chance as, with the exception of the long absent Mikael d'Haguenet, there's very few unexposed horses in the race.

Rupert's Cheltenham record is impeccable with three wins and two seconds from five starts. That the two second's were behind Tidal Bay and Big Buck's over hurdles, says a heck of a lot about the class of this chap and, despite the RSA being a race where outsiders have a good record, he's a worthy favourite and would be much shorter if trained by Messrs. Henderson or Nicholls.

8. Zaynar is a recalcitrant monkey. If you're still keeping the faith with former Triumph Hurdle winner Zaynar, you're either very patient or very stupid. Ahem. Either way, you're probably skint, as the horse is an absolute recalcitrant monkey. He's been beaten in his last five runs, four of them as favourite, including SP's of 13/8,11/8, and... wait for it... 1/14 (!!!!!) On that 1/14 day, there was a 'shrewdie' who got the 1/12, trying to win a hundred quid for an investment of twelve hundred. Pity for him, especially if he's been on a money-back mission ever since.

Quite simply, do not touch this horse. If he wins, fair play. But there's bound to be far more reliable propositions - at better prices - in his races.

Master Minded

Master Minded: Brilliant when he jumps 'em!

9. Master Minded is a machine. OK, so he was disappointing at the Festival in March, when only fourth to Big Zeb. But the balance of Master Minded's form is exceptional, including a facile win against a strong field in the re-routed Tingle Creek on Saturday. It was his first win at Cheltenham since the Queen Mother Champion Chase of 2009 (two losses since), and the way he gobbled up the ground between the pace setters and himself turning in was mightily impressive.

He's no price for the Champion - 2/1 best and as short as 6/4 in places - and I just wonder if there's any chance of him running in the Gold Cup. As preposterous as that may sound (and may also turn out to be!), he's 300+/1 on betfair for the longer race, and that's a route that the same connections' Kauto Star has taken in the past (Kauto fell when 2/1 favourite for the Champion Chase in 2006, before winning the 2007 Gold Cup). With both Denman and Kauto Star celebrating their eleventh birthday on January 1st, and Master Minded due to be eight on the same day, he's clearly the future. Whether he stays that far is obviously the subject of conjecture, but stranger things have happened. I've had a throwaway tenner at odds of 323.26!

Talking of the Gold Cup, perhaps the best performance with regards to that was the staying-on third from Somersby. Also a staying-on second behind Sizing Europe in the Arkle last season, this boy seems to be crying out for further. He's quoted in the Champion Chase (two miles), the Ryanair (2m5f), and the Gold Cup (3m2f), and ante-post punters have to second guess connections as to which race he'll choose. For that reason alone, I couldn't advise a bet at this stage. But the way he finished here, you'd hope they'd step him up to at least the Ryanair trip.

10. Menorah is a credible Champion Hurdle contender. The Grade 2 International Hurdle was a fascinating contest, in that it brought together three horses of immense potential in Menorah, Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti. The latter two were unbeaten novices and putting formidable home reputations on the line. Both were usurped in unambiguous fashion by Philip Hobbs' Menorah, and he is rightly being touted as a strong Champion Hurdle contender.

Whilst I wouldn't back him at 7/2, or even the best priced 9/2, I don't need to as I already backed him at 27.34 way back when I advised him on here in August. Here's that post again. And here's my own position now:

Date Name Event Odds Stake Returns Bookie Win/EW
12-Aug Menorah Ch Hdle 27.34 £60.00 £1,640.40 betfair W
12-Aug Summit Meeting Ch Hdle 353.84 £5.00 £1,769.20 betfair W
12-Aug Oscar Whisky Ch Hdle 200 £6.55 £1,310.00 betfair W
12-Nov Cue Card Ch Hdle 21 £73.00 £1,533.00 SJ W
23-Nov Peddlers Cross Ch Hdle 15 £100.00 £1,500.00 totesport W
23-Nov Solwhit Ch Hdle 25.34 £25.00 £633.50 betfair W

So, whilst I'm very pleased with the ante-post position I have on the race (and I hope some of you followed me in), I do think much / all of the value has now gone and, if anything, Menorah and Peddlers Cross may be bigger prices on the day than the 4/1 and 6/1 respectively they are now.

Binocular

Binocular: bizarrely, he's probably the best value in the race now

Solwhit remains interesting. He's 16/1 in a number of places and 10/1 in a number of places. That disparity is marked in a race such as the Champion Hurdle and indicates a real discord in terms of bookies' perceptions of the merits of his ability. He certainly has a level of form that is at least as good as what Menorah and Peddlers have achieved to date, and in that regard, he has a modicum of value in the 16/1 still available.

Ultimately, the best value in this race may now be with the reigning Champion, Binocular, who is surely too big at 5/1 with bet365. Sure, he got beaten in the Fighting Fifth, but he was beaten in that race last year. He was eased by McCoy once his challenge petered out that day, and he's sure to be MUCH more combative in March. The big question is will he win his next race and truncate in the market? Or will he go even longer? Either way, no horse this season has run to the level he did when winning last year's Champion Hurdle, so 5/1 must be at least fair odds on the repeat.

There are only three months to go now, and the storylines are blending in fascinating fashion for the next few chapters before the revelations of mid-March. It just never ceases to intrigue and excite! 🙂

Matt

p.s. Just a quick word on dear old Khajaaly, the Geegeez Racing Club horse, who won his second race in a row on Friday. He had to work a little harder than when dotting up at 25/1, and the odds were 'only' 3/1 this time (backed by many from 4/1), but he still did it cosily, and there may... may... be more in the locker. It's more than we dare hope for, but hope is most definitely what we have.

12-Aug Menorah Ch Hdle 27.34 £60.00 £1,640.40 betfair W
12-Aug Summit Meeting Ch Hdle 353.84 £5.00 £1,769.20 betfair W
12-Aug Oscar Whisky Ch Hdle 200 £6.55 £1,310.00 betfair W
12-Nov Cue Card Ch Hdle 21 £73.00 £1,533.00 SJ W
23-Nov Peddlers Cross Ch Hdle 15 £100.00 £1,500.00 totesport W
23-Nov Solwhit Ch Hdle 25.34 £25.00 £633.50 betfair W

8007/1 Treble That Got Away…

Khajaaly at Kempton

Khajaaly at Kempton

Doh! As Homer Simpson so succinctly put it, dear reader, I rather cocked it up over the weekend. It all started when the Geegeez geegee, Khajaaly, ran for the first time in 73 days, in an innocuous enough event at Wolverhampton...

To remind you, we bought Khajaaly in early Summer, and had high hopes for him. Alas, in his first three runs he seemed to be alarmingly regressive. Hindsight, being the wonderful thing that it is, clearly shows that poor old Khajaaly was feeling the effects of a hard season having had six races this year prior to our acquisition.

Three subsequent runs made nine in total and one knackered beastie. Step forward Julia 'The Judge' Feilden. Training horses is a game I will never know more than scraps about, and I am always happy to leave my affairs in the hands of people better qualified than me.

So, when Julia suggested some time off, I immediately agreed. Firstly, as I say, she knows infinitely more than me about the nuances and foibles of nags, and secondly, to be frank, I was at my wit's end in terms of what the hell to do with him!

Seventy-three days later and Khajaaly was ready to roll again. Julia, John and the team were all making positive noises about how he was looking, much fresher apparently. They said he was working well and, when I spoke to Julia on Friday morning, she said something she very rarely says.

Julia said to me, "I think he'll win today". In all the time I've known her (ten years), I can remember her saying that maybe four times. Once was when Spruce was backed off the boards (16's into 5/2) on UK debut and was beaten a fast diminishing head, prior to running up a sequence of four straight wins. Once was when Love's Design won a seller by FIVE lengths, and once was last Friday.

I told the members and backed him accordingly. All morning he'd been 10/1 and 12/1 with the bookies so I thought 18/1 on Betfair was great value. When he went 28/1 on Betfair I went in again. When he went out to 46 (!!) on Betfair I couldn't justify any further depth to my wager, so I let it ride.

He opened up 33/1 on course, before some of the Geegeez Racing Club members punted him into 25/1. To render an even longer story ever so slightly shorter, he cruised through the race and - though only winning by an official margin of half a length - he bolted up. The jockey had no need to resort to more than hand urging.

If you have Racing Post membership, you can watch the race here:

http://www.racingpost.com/media/media_centre.sd?view=archive&race_id=519138&type=C&horse_id=728594&siteRef=rac-rac-racingpost

If you have attheraces membership (free), you can watch the race here:

http://www.attheraces.com/VideoConsole/?va=WOL_2010_11_19_02_1645

When I spoke to Julia afterwards, using what very little remained of my voice, I must have sounded like Barry White with laryngitis. I was hoarse from yelling at our horse!

Anyway, Julia told me that Khajaaly had been working as well as Spirit of Sharjah, another horse in her yard, rated 97. Given that Khajaaly was rated 60, I wondered if this meant Spirit was no good or Khajaaly was flying. As luck would have it, I was able to find out on Saturday, when Spirit of Sharjah ran in a very competitive Class 2 handicap at Lingfield.

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He had an ugly 'car park' draw in 13 of the 14 runners, and I had a very small bet just out of interest. He cruised through the race in the same way that Khajaaly had done around 24 hours earlier and, although only winning by a short head, he too was value for more as the jockey only got serious in the last 100 yards after Spirit had trouble getting a clear run. He returned 10/1.

So, Spirit of Sharjah will now be rated 100 or so.... and our boy Khajaaly has been working alongside him! And he's going to be rated 65 or so! Of course, life is never as simple as first appearances suggest, so our ostensible handicap snip may well end up getting rolled over. But I have to say, in 0-65 company, I'd REALLY fancy him to double up. 🙂

[STOP PRESS: I've just heard that Khajaaly went up four pounds to a rating of 64. His next run is currently mooted to be Wolverhampton on 11th December, but that may change.]

As if that wasn't enough, Julia had one more - extremely unlikely - ace up her sleeve. Rated just 48 on the flat, and having her third run over hurdles, Baggsy had recorded eighth and tenth places in her previous two attempts at distance and obstacles. But one thing this daughter of Statue of Liberty adores is soft ground.

She'd run by far her best recent race on the soft at Yarmouth and it had come up soft again at a notoriously testing track, Towcester. This was a selling hurdle, and to call it moderate is to overstate the quality of beast on display. Baggsy opened up 40/1 and was backed into 28's at the off. I had two quid win and place, much more in token hope than any kind of expectation.

As the race progressed, Mattie Bachelor kept her out the back. For the first mile, it was hard to tell whether this was the jockey's choice or a necessity for the horse! But they went off too quickly for the grade and ground, and they came back. Oh boy, did they come back.

Baggsy never threatened to win until the last furlong but she still had five in front of her. Five yards from the line, she was still second, four yards from the line, she had prevailed. Amazing, and hope now springs eternal that in bad ground juvenile selling hurdles, perhaps over slightly further than two miles, Baggsy might actually win again!

Undoubtedly it was a red letter weekend for Julia, John and the team at Harraton Stables and, whilst I managed to back all three - to wildly disparate stakes - the 8,007/1 treble alluded me (and, I'm guessing, every other punter in the country)!

Onwards, and upwards!

********

On a completely separate subject, my sincere thanks go out to all of the 36 people who applied for my 'apprentice' position. In actual fact, it's more of a 'right hand man' role than an apprentice.

I'm not being flippant when I say the quality of the applications surprised me. I'd expected to have a couple of standout emails, from no more than a handful of missives in total

Wrong! It's fair to say that around two-thirds of the applicants would have been able to help me, and picking amongst them was tough and required an objective head.

Eventually, I managed to whittle down to five super candidates: three currently run websites that you may very well frequent; one ran a football forum for five years; and the fifth was a senior IT manager before a recent lifestyle / career change freed up much of his time.

I spoke with all five yesterday, and that did little to make my task easier! Today, I'm ruminating and will be in touch with the quintet tomorrow. It's been really inspiring to learn that so many people want to be involved in a more hands on capacity in the Geegeez community and, without sounding like too much of a 'happy clapper', I'm humbled yet again by what a fantastic mob you are. THANK YOU!

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I'll be back later in the week with an ante-post view on the Gold Cup. Without spoiling the surprise too much, I'll say this. The last horse older than ten to win the Gold Cup was... What A Myth in 1969.Ten year olds do okay, but you have to go back to the Cool's, Dawn and Ground in the nineties to find the last winning horse with a double digit age.

Given that Denman and Kauto Star are both to be eleven on January 1st, and that Imperial Commander (currently sidelined with a minor injury) will be ten, and that the fourth favourite, Big Buck's is an odds on shot for the World Hurdle (and can't jump fences anyway), I make the race absolutely wide open!

Whether I can find the winner is a moot point for sure, but taking out the first four in the betting will certainly assist in the quest for value!!

More on Friday.

Best,

Matt

Football League Preview – 2010/11 Season

And now, dear reader, for something completely different, as the old Python's used to say. This Saturday sees the start of the football season for 'real' fans, i.e. those whose team does not play in the Premier League, and I have a thought or three on the subject. So here goes...

There is one team in the three divisions that stands out as a very short price. That is the 12/5 best price on Southampton. To be truthful, in a division with 24 teams, that is a joke price. They might win. So what? 12/5 is a joke price. They've got fierce derby matches against Bournemouth and Brighton to contend with, as well as road trips to the likes of Carlisle at the other end of the cosmos (or England at least). 12/5... joke price.

Also bear in mind that a favourite hasn't won this division in the last eleven seasons, and that includes Leeds twice (at 3/1 and 4/1), Nottingham Forest three times (at 7/2 and 5/1 twice), and Cardiff at 13/5. Joke price.

Every team in the division wants to beat the moneybags side, and Southampton are not going to be gifted too many games this year. Sure, they have a strong squad with a lot of striking firepower in the likes of Rickie Lambert, but defensively, they might need shoring up.

There's also strong rumours of dissension between wealthy chairman and manager. Never a good sign. Saints have a chequered recent past and this looks a fairly combustible powder-keg of a situation. If Pardew doesn't start well, he might not be there by October.

Give the Saints the swerve. Lay them if you don't mind tying up capital for nine months, but I just can't have them at 12/5. As I may have mentioned, it's a joke price.

So who's going to beat them then? Well, my man who knows about low league football gave me two teams ages ago, and the price has gone on both of them to some degree. Nevertheless, I still think one of them offers cracking each-way value.

The two are Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield, and the team I like are Huddersfield. They scored bundles of goals last year, but were a bit shaky defensively. Manager Lee Clark has addressed that in the close season, with the eye-catching acquisition of middle of the park kicker (a man after my own heart!), Joey Gudjonsson, and octogenarian Gary Naysmith (actually, much to my surprise, he's only 31 - seems to have been around forever).

They've also added some goals and width in midfield with the loans of Joe Garner from Forest and Lee Croft from Derby. They are rock solid at the Galpharm Stadium (I preferred stadia before they were sponsored), but do need to improve on their away form.

8/1 looks decent value indeed, and they must have a great shout of troubling the judge at more than three times the price of Southampton.

Sheffield Wednesday have made some headline signings, like Neil Mellor and Clinton Morrison, but it'll take more than a fat journeyman and a thin journeyman to turn the tide in the blue half of the city of steel. Add to this the fact that there are some fairly serious financial problems at Wednesday, and they look opposable at odds as short as 9/2 (6/1 available).

Peterborough, relegated horribly last season, will be much stronger this time with excellent manager Gary Johnson in the hot seat, and League One penalty box executioners, CMS (that's Craig Mackail-Smith to you) and Aaron McLean, set to fill their boots. But they were awful last year, and I just wonder about their temperament. Wouldn't surprise me to see them up there.

Finally, I have to give a mention to my own team, the Super Cherries of Bournemouth. Last season, Eddie Howe did exceptionally well to get us promoted in second place, with a transfer embargo in situ for pretty much the entire season. Cherries were playing with as few as three of the allowed seven subs, and including the 33 year old assistant manager Jason Tindall, last year due to the burden of the fiscal misdeeds of the previous administration.

My own reservations regarding the new chairman, Eddie Mitchell (ostensibly a property developing wide boy), have all but dissipated and he deserves immense credit for turning a £1.4 million debt into about £300k, which should be paid off by October, without dipping in and bailing out.

In other words, he's introduced some sound (and hard nosed, I might add) business acumen to a football club. Of that, we Bournemouth fans can be justly proud.

The two Eddies have worked hard to instill a fierce sense of club loyalty, and that has been borne out by manager Howe's refusal to consider - let's face it - better offers higher up the league ladder.

Having retained the entire squad from last season, and bolstered it with some canny additions - including Howe's half-brother, the reasonably prolific SPL striker, Steve Lovell; Marc Pugh, a well regarded midfielder who scored 13 goals for a relegated side from midfield last season; Michael Symes, another goalscorer; and previous club defenders, Stephen Purches - returning from Orient after three seasons away, and Rhoys Wiggins - finally signed on a full-time contract after two seasons on loan.

I'm not saying Bournemouth will win the division but they are a buy on the spreads for total points at 55 (50 would likely see them relegated!), and are definitely worth a look in season match bets too.

My two against the field are: Huddersfield Town and Peterborough

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********

Heading back up to the Championship, it's a much harder league to call - on the face of it at least.

With much discussion in recent years about Rangers and Celtic coming to play in the Championship south of the border, that will virtually happen this season as former Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, has brought four SPL players, three of them from the Auld Firm.

Boro were truly awful last year, and the ever-patient chairman Steve Gibson was right to get shot of insipid Gareth Southgate. The only frustration about that is that we're now obliged to listen to his guffing on ITV sport football. (Seriously, has there ever been a worse studio pundit squad than ITV's at the World Cup. With the notable exception of Marcel Desailly's passion, they were just horrible. Watching Adrian Chiles is like watching Murun Buchstansangur!)

Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, Middlesbrough and Championship. Maybe, but not for me at the price.

It's another division where the favourite hasn't won for a long time - in this case, Manchester City back in 2001-2 at 7/2. So look for value...

Relegated clubs have an excellent record of 'bouncebackability' from this section, so Burnley and Hull are interesting on that score. Forget Pompey, who look to have a long, hard road just to stay in business.

Burnley are much preferred and, having retained most of their players, look primed for a decent charge. They'll miss Steven Fletcher and Robbie Blake mind you, so 10/1 looks only fair.

Reading finished last season very well: the forty points they secured in the second half of the season was only bettered by promoted sides, Newcastle and West Brom. They've not done much business in the window, but they're a capable outfit and, if a charge begins to manifest itself, the chairman will likely cough up for signings. Again, 12/1 looks fair rather than generous.

A side worth looking out for here are Sheffield United. They weren't far away last season, finishing eighth, and they were ninth and third in the two previous seasons. Granted a decent run, they should be looking at a play-off spot, and automatic promotion is not beyond them. Bet 365 are standout at 20/1, but there's plenty of 18's available.

My four against the field are: Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading and Sheffield United

********

Down in the basement division, League Two, it's very tough. This one looks wide open this year, and is a brave punter who piles in here.

Of the relegated sides, I think Wycombe will do well, and so does my football man. Funnily enough, so did the Racing Post footy pullout yesterday, so the price may have contracted by now. Wanderers have had a very good pre-season, and are a goalscoring team.

Rotherham look best of the League Two sides who try again this year and, in Adam Le Fondre, have a dead-eye striker at this level. They still have talismanic manager, Ronnie Moore, in the hot seat and - after a serious summer of wheeler dealing - they ought to do better than last term's 5th place.

Teams who come up from the Conference (or Blue Square Bet Premier to give it the current title) have done well in League Two. Dagenham and Redbridge are the latest to jump up to League One, and a number of sides - including Carlisle, Exeter and Doncaster (now nicely embedded in the Championship under former Cherries boss, Sean O'Driscoll).

So Stevenage are worth more than a cursory glance at 16's. They've strengthened the squad which hacked up in the Conference last season, and will smash a fair few of the 'dead wood' sides in League Two.

My three against the field are: Wycombe, Rotherham, and Stevenage.

I'm looking at a perm trixie, which is 50 bets for two, three and four teams as above. Be careful with e/w bets though, as it comes to a LOT more lines!

********

Now you'll know that the new Geegeez Racing Club horse, Khajaaly, had his first run for us yesterday at Newcastle. You may also know that he finished fourth in the end, of the seven runners, and beaten a fair way.

Given that he was sent off the 11/4 favourite, it is probably OK to say that this was a disappointing run, for which there may have been a number of reasons.

I'll not go into those here, as I have already discussed with members by email. Suffice it to say, we look forward to another day with Khajaaly.

Today, Julia is at Haydock with a 2yo newcomer, Generous Genella. I know that she works very well at home, beating the stable's Albany Stakes 5th, Emma's Gift, always. But... Emma's is not much of a home worker, so it's hard to know what to expect.

All I can say is that stable are extremely hopeful. They've another five runners across Brighton and Yarmouth, and all are entered with hope rather than expectation, though most are in the right grade so have a chance.

That's all for today.

Matt

How Some Latin Love Warmed Up My Weekend…

It was an interesting and exciting weekend, dear reader, as I tested out a new idea with a 'new kid on the block', Tony Mac.

We'd been exchanging emails over a period of time and he'd been sending me his views on various big Irish meetings. I was pretty impressed with the detail he'd unearthed and I couldn't see this stuff anywhere else, so I thought it would probably be of interest to those who bet on the major Irish races.

Of course, what I think and what is the case are often at odds with each other, so I tested the idea out over the weekend. Tony and I produced a report covering six races at the Irish Oaks meeting from the Curragh. Although it's of little use now, except to get a feel for what we were doing, you can download it here.

As I say, we covered six races, and broke each race down into what I called primary and secondary trends. By doing this, we were able to identify a shortlist after the primary trends from which we believed the winner would come. Using the secondary trends, we could then narrow the field further and come up with a selection (or two).

Moreover, for each race, we gave an indication - via a traffic light system - of the historical strength of the trends available.

So, how did it fare? Well, pretty well really. We covered just the one race on Saturday with a green status (i.e. strong trends), the Minstrel Stakes, and had three on the shortlist: Duff, Free Judgment, Air Chief Marshal.

In the final reckoning, I foolishly ignored the trends which pointed squarely to Air Chief Marshal, and plumped for Free Judgment. The result? 5/1 Air Chief Marshal beat 14/1 Duff. Straight forecast £75.31. Lesson learned.

Onto Sunday, where we'd reviewed five races. The Anglesey Stakes had an amber status - that is, we weren't hugely confident about the trends - and my selection, Rudolf Valentino, finished 3rd of 4, albeit as the 12/1 outsider in the race.

Next up came the Kilboy Estate Stakes, a green race, and a race where the shortlist after the primary trends consisted of one horse (from a field of seventeen!).

The secondary information also pointed to the same horse, and I noted in my commentary:

"One horse stands out with a perfect trends profile. Latin Love has twice finished second over this somewhat specialist distance, including in this race last year behind She’s Our Mark, and has been placed all three times she’s tried the trip.

Having had four runs this season, her last being three weeks ago, and with requisite official and Racing Post ratings, Ryan Moore looks a ‘job’ booking.

Despite a bumper field of 18 runners [one non-runner], Latin Love looks sure to go close and is a confident each way selection."

Ryan Moore gave her a brilliant ride, getting a great position, pushing her clear over a furlong out, and she was never in trouble, winning by one and a quarter lengths at odds of 9/1 (Betfair SP 12.0).

I had a decent bet, and I hope some of you did too.

Moving on, and the Irish Oaks was next. Another green status race, the shortlist consisted of four horses: Hibaayeb, Meeznah, Rosanara, and Snow Fairy.

With the absence of Rosanara, that left three, and again I plumped for the wrong one in the final reckoning, siding with Hibaayeb, who hated the ground (which changed to soggy overnight).

As you probably know, Snow Fairy annihilated the field in the style of a very smart filly, winning by EIGHT lengths and with the rest of the field strung out all over County Kildare.

Again, I'd found it difficult to narrow the field, as the secondary trends pointed to the exact quartet (reduced to a trio by the non-runner) as the primary stats. I wrote:

"Whilst I’m confident that the winner is in those four, Hibaayeb is no more than a tentative selection after her authoritative win in the Ribblesdale last time out."

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(Tony was actually much sweeter on the Epsom Oaks value than I was, and he was right.)

We then had an amber and a red race to finish with, the first a ladies' handicap. The trends left us with a none too short shortlist, and we plumped for the favourite Park Ranger, who couldn't quicken in the ground and was well beaten.

Tony also produced some interesting jockey stats that pointed in the direction of a couple of lasses I'd not heard of in Miss A Foley and Miss P Ryan.

I backed them both each way, and nearly nailed it when Miss A Foley's mount, Taralga (12/1) went on a furlong out. Alas, she was caught by an 11/1 shot close home. Miss P Ryan, meanwhile, finished a never nearer third on Zarinava (11/2) landing two place wagers.

Most would not have got these, but the info was there!

The last race - a red on the history-ometer - was a competitive event, and the shortlist was two from the eleven starters: Luisant and last year's winner, Just For Mary.

I sided with Luisant and, in a thrilling finish where five or six came there with a chance, Luisant was just touched off by a head to finish second at 8/1.

A great day's sport and a couple of winners, including the lovely Latin Love which, alongside copping the placepot at Market Rasen on Saturday to the tune of £325, made a nice punting weekend.

If you liked the Oaks report, or if you missed out but are interested in the future, Tony is currently working on a report for the Galway race meeting which starts next Monday. It's a marathon seven day meeting, and we'll be focusing on quality not quantity, with no more than three races each day covered.

I'll have more info later in the week, if that floats your betting boat.

********

News from Julia Feilden's stable now, and firstly I'm delighted to report that the last of the shares for Khajaaly was sold over the weekend, so we're full up and all systems go.

Khajaaly is well, despite suffering the unkindest cut of all. Yes, when he arrived at Julia's he was in possession of all his faculties. Alas for him, he is now a couple of elements short and won't have to concern himself with the latter career as a stallion...

He's in full work and we hope he'll make his debut for us in early August.

Baggsy and Always De One, previous club horses, are out of training at the moment. Baggsy will go to the sales on 4th August, and Always is in a field prior to coming back into training in August.

Night Orbit, in whom I also have a share, is fit and ready to run, but needs the ground to soften a little before being let loose.

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A couple of things you may have noticed on the blog recently, and can expect to notice going forwards:

- More news. Each day, there are two or three major news stories covered, to give a bit more depth to the racing coverage here. It's not intended that Geegeez will become a rival to sportinglife or racingpost, but for those of you who are regular visitors, you'll always find fresh content even when I've not rambled or pontificated in my bloggies!

- More system trials and reviews. You asked for them, so I'm bringing them. The Full Circle and On Course For Profits are currently being reviewed, and they're set to be joined by two or three more this week. The trials will be performed by guest reviewers, so a) please bear with them while they find their feet, and b) you can be sure the trials are 100% independent (not that they wouldn't have been if I was doing them, but you know what I mean..!)

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So what's up  this week? Well, it's all about the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes from Ascot, which is the centrepiece race of their three day meeting.

In truth, it's a very disappointing turnout with just eight entries at the five day stage. But this is all about quality over quantity, as the octet includes Derby heroes, Workforce (Epsom) and Cape Blanco (Irish), as well as crack older horses, Harbinger, Youmzain, Dar Re Mi, and Daryakana.

If the race is truly run, and Sir Michael Stoute has three in there, presumably with a view to (Work?) forcing it somewhat, then this could be a thriller despite the shortage of beasts.

Personally, I'd love to see Workforce win with the same panache he demonstrated at Epsom, but this is altogether tougher, and I suspect that one of the older brigade may pop his balloon. Time will tell.

How was the weekend for you? Did you back (m)any winners? Did you use the Irish report? Any good? Got a system you'd like reviewed?

Leave a comment and let me / everyone else know!

Matt

Coral Eclipse 2010: The Worst Ever?!

Another sizzling month of sport has commenced, dear reader, and the initial racing showpiece - the Coral Eclipse - was run last Saturday at a sun-drenched Sandown Park.

In a month which features the finals from Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the World Cup Final, and Glorious Goodwood (as well as Newmarket's July meeting this week), horse racing has a lot to compete with for the attentions of the all-round sports fan.

And this is one of flat racing's frailties when it comes to the perennial 'let's revamp racing' discussions, because there is actually very little that can be done about this particular impediment. (For my views on the others, click here!)

Twice Over wins Coral Eclipse 2010, Sandown

Twice Over wins Coral Eclipse 2010, Sandown

But what a horribly disappointing turn out on the equine front for one of the great races of the Flat season, the Coral Eclipse. This is traditionally the first time that the Classic generation of three year olds draw battle lines with their elders, and they do it over the intermediate distance of ten furlongs, or a mile and a quarter if you prefer.

Six runners were to face the starter, but the recalcitrance of Mawatheeq reduced this to five. Five runners for a Group 1 worth just about half a million in prize money. Sheesh! With prize money down to fifth place, and Zacinto - who occupied that position - virtually pulling up, Always De One could have bagged £13,450...

I just wonder which races the owners of Group 1 nags are saving themselves for when a race like this transpires with barely enough horses to qualify as an each-way betting contest. True, there is competition in the racing calendar for the entries. But not this weekend. There's nothing else of note for three year olds and up beyond a mile (though there was a key mile contest yesterday, more below).

Sandown must be hugely disappointed with the turnout, as must the sponsors, Coral. Trainers like John Gosden bemoan the end of racing (see this post), and they have some credence to their concern despite the melodramatic wrapper within which they express them. But they simply do not help themselves by failing to support the biggest events in the calendar.

To Johnny G's credit, his Dar Re Mi - one of the top older females - was present and finished fourth, only the third time she's been out of the first three in seventeen starts. She needs further these days, but connections will be happy enough with the £26,850 they snaffled for beating a pulled up horse...!

The winner, Twice Over, is not a horse that I rate as truly top class, although he is a decent enough stick. He won the softest Group 1 in the racing calendar, the Champion Stakes at Newmarket in October (all the best horses swerve this for either the Arc meeting in Longchamp or the Breeders Cup stateside, or both!).

But fair play to him. He's putting together a decent CV, and looks to be improving with age and racing. He did actually travel to California after winning at Newmarket and finished a gallant third behind the remarkable record-breaking racemare, Zenyatta (17 starts, 17 wins, 15 in Grade 1 or 2 company, prize money of four million quid!!). But that was a pretty poor championship event too, barring the winner.

He was also silver medalist behind the improving Byword, who looks to have a shot in the Breeders Cup Classic later in the year, as his trainer believes he will not stay a mile and a half.

And he could do no more than win here. The runner-up, Sri Putra, was 33/1 on Saturday and did well to grab second. Third was O'Brien's Viscount Nelson, a horse who hasn't won for seven starts, and never in higher than Listed class. And the other two, Dar Re Mi and Zacinto, clearly didn't run their races.

Although the 2008 renewal was below par, this must be a contender for worst Eclipse ever, and Sandown have a serious job on their hands to reignite the passion and prestige that this race once had. It is probably fair to say that the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, a Group 3 over the same course and distance, has become a more competitive and high quality affair in recent years (with the obvious and notable exception of last season's Eclipse, where Sea The Stars beat Rip van Winkle, Conduit and Cima de Triomphe, with Twice Over a well stuffed seventh).

Enough with the Eclipse bashing. Suffice it to say, I hope they find the answer to the problem, as it is a race that deserves to draw the pick of the Classic and older generations in hoof to hoof combat.

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Dick TurpinOver at Chantilly yesterday, Dick Turpin finally got the win he deserves this season, when prevailing by a fat four lengths in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat. Although confined to the three year olds, this surely was the race that Sandown wanted, with our gallant highwayman seeing off Siyouni, Xtension and Hearts Of Fire, with French Guineas/Derby hero, Lope de Vega running no race down the field. The German Guineas winner, Frozen Power, was also present but could only finish fifth.

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The result of this race seems to confirm that Canford Cliffs is the best three year old miler in Europe, and stablemate Dick Turpin is the second best. (He'd finished runner up three times in Group 1's this season before getting his schnozz in front yesterday).

Again, Aidan O'Brien entries were notable only by their absence and, despite a 1-2-3 in the Irish Derby, I maintain his Classic set are below average this year.

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This week's main meeting is the Newmarket July meeting, from Wednesday until Friday, featuring the July Cup, a Group 1 sprint, amongst its many jewels.

I'll be back with a few thoughts on that as the week progresses.

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Finally today, I'm delighted to report that we are now 76% full for the Geegeez Racing Club syndicate. That means there are just twelve 2% shares remaining.

If you've been toying with getting involved in what must be the best value syndicate in the country (every single penny goes on buying the horse, training the horse, entering the horse, and racing the horse - except for the few pennies per share that go towards paying for four days out for syndicate members), then it's 'make up your mind' time.

If you've not seen the video about what you'll get when you join, and what you need to do to be involved, you can watch that here.

To recap, you get:

-          Twelve months membership and 2% ownership of the horse

-          Nothing else to pay if you pay in full now, or pay by 4 x £175 quarterly installments

-          Two stable days, and two further race days (one in the north and one in the southwest)

-          Owner’s badge each time the horse runs

-          Regular updates on the horse from the yard, plus occasional news on other horses in the yard

You can get your share below, by clicking the relevant link:

Option 1 - One off payment for full twelve months, with nothing more to pay.


Option 2 - Easy payment plan of £175 now, and then three further payments of £175 quarterly.

Click here to join with four quarterly payments.

Option 3 - To pay by bank transfer to our Weatherby's Racing Account, click here. This will open an email for you to send me requesting this method. Alternatively, email me for full details at: info@geegeez.co.uk

Julia Feilden, our trainer, is off to Newmarket sales on Wednesday and Thursday to secure our new inmate, and I'll have more news in a few days.

I'm dreaming of the Winners' Enclosure, and landing a nice touch along the way. Obviously, I can't promise either of those things, but I can promise at least the prospect of both... Don't miss out if you're tempted! 🙂

I hope to welcome you aboard later today.

Matt