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Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Four Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Four Preview, Tips

The fourth day of five, and the last for which I will be previewing the action. Saturday's are for superstar punters and 'recreationals', in my opinion, and if you know you're not a superstar punter, well, you know... 😉

Parking the joy hoover and getting back to Friday's action, it doesn't get any easier. The very wet Wednesday, which turned the ground heavy, has been superseded by dry breezy days. These will suck much of the moisture from the turf leaving sticky claggy holding ground. In France, they have a 'holding' going description. Here, we call it soft but it is anybody's guess whether a horse will act on it. I'd very much like to see the introduction of a 'holding' going description. But don't be 'holding' your breath for that to happen.

Be all that as it may, we have race puzzles to solve, and we have that muddy fly in the ointment to keep aforethought, as we begin at...

1.50 Glorious Stakes (1m 4f, 4yo+, Group 3)

Eight declared for what will be a decent test of stamina in the expected conditions. With little science behind the theory, I tend to prefer horses racing close to the pace when the turf is gluey. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that it is more difficult for closers to accelerate, so that will play into these deliberations.

Keep in mind, too, that there are trends for Friday's Glorious Goodwood action here.

The clear form horse in the race is Godolphin's Frontiersman, runner up the last twice in Group 1 and Group 2 company. This then is a drop in class, but he's a quirky chap who races from the back of the field as a rule. He hung quite badly at both Epsom and Newmarket meaning Goodwood's undulations are hardly ideal. Moreover, William Buick's mount has never raced on slower than good to soft, and on that one occasion he was well beaten in a Group 3. Form pick he may be, but there are enough reasons to look elsewhere at the price.

Poet's Word won a handicap at this meeting last year over a furlong shorter, so trip and track should be fine. But that was on firm ground and in Class 3, this is soft and Group 3. He's improved since, finishing second in a Group 3 last time, but all his best form is on a sound surface (beaten five lengths both times on good to soft, though ran all right each time).

One which may lack the class of the above pair but will be suited to the conditions is Lord Yeats. He has progressed from a handicapper into a Pattern class horse this term, winning both starts, the most recent of which was a Listed contest where he beat the re-opposing Second Step. His recent improvement coincides with spins on soft ground and he is the lone pace angle in the race. 6/1 seems worth the risk.

Second Step is also interesting: he gets to run on (presumed at time of writing) soft ground for the first time since a debut neck second 20 runs back. He has been a consistent servant to connections and has been rated as high as 118 in the past. He is a deep closer which may or may not help his cause in the ground but 6/1 probably offers a degree of latitude in that regard.

The rest may not be quite good enough.

*

2.25 Thoroughbred Stakes (1m, 3yo, Group 3)

A sighter ahead of one of the big handicaps of the week over the same trip, one mile. Eleven largely unexposed three-year-olds line up and it requires an element of projection as to which may step forward the most. At least, unlike with the juvenile races, there is some form in the book.

The favourite is the French raider, TRAIS FLUORS, who represents the magnificent Andre Fabre. But while M. Fabre's overall record when hopping across to Blighty is impressive - 11 winners from 50 runners (22%) since 2009 - he has brought but a single horse to Goodwood in recent times, perhaps ever. That was the well fancied Reefscape in 2006, who could only finish seventh behind Yeats in the Goodwood Cup.

Still, it is an interesting entry, and Trais Fluors had a solid string of winning form - four career wins on the bounce - before beating all bar Thunder Snow in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat last time. That one had previously been third in the St James's Palace Stakes and second in the Irish 2000 Guineas, form which looks smart in the context of this Group 3.

And, whisper it, Vincent Cheminaud (Van-sonn Shem-ee-no) may have given the late, late runner too much to do that last day. He is the clear form choice in the race and will win if he handles the ground and VC gets the fractions right. Regarding soft ground, he's by Dansili out of a Manduro mare, which offers plenty of hope to his backers. [Non-runner]

Of the rest, Andrew Balding's Beat The Bank is three from four including an easy Listed success last time. He needs to find more - perfectly possible - and prove he acts in this mud.

Meanwhile, Mr Goodwood, Andrea Atzeni, legs up on Make Time, one of the few in the race with form on soft. The son of Makfi, out of a Lomitas mare, won his maiden by five lengths on his sole try on slow turf. That race has worked out all right, with ten subsequent winners from 48 starts, and he could be the one to benefit if the favourite falters. He looks fairly assured as an each way/placepot play at 4/1 with some of the, erm, lesser bookies. At least I hope he does...

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3.00 Betfred Mile Handicap (1m, Class 2)

This big field mile handicap has one of the strongest draw biases in the calendar. Those drawn low and with a prominent run style have a huge edge on their higher drawn counterparts. Indeed, 13 of the last twenty winners were berthed in the inside five stalls, with another two drawn in stall seven. 75% of the winners from 35% of the draw. Moreover, 54 of the 80 place positions (67.5%) came from the bottom 50% of the draw.

The imponderable, to some degree, is the ground; but it remains safest to focus on those low and front rank. Interesting against that brief are Withernsea and Birchwood, both trained by Richard Fahey (won this in 2003 with Lady Bear, drawn five).

Withernsea will exit trap seven, successful in 2015 (So Beloved, later disqualified for a banned substance) and 2010 (Sea Lord). He's a prominent racer rather than right on the speed, and should be able to settle in behind Zhui Feng and the wide drawn pair of G K Chesterton and Masham Star. His soft ground record is 21871, the most recent win coming in a 15-runner handicap at Newbury. The '8' was over seven furlongs here, where he was staying on before running out of piste; and the '7' was when badly interfered with.

Only four pounds higher than that last win and off the same mark as when an excellent third in the International Handicap (27 runners) last weekend he has a lot going for him for a 20/1 chance (Victor).

Birchwood is more speculative, a fact that is accommodated in a quote of 25/1. To date he's race exclusively at up to seven furlongs meaning an immediate doubt about stamina. His pedigree offers only the faintest of hope. And yet... he was a Group 2 winner as a juvenile, has run consistently well on a soft surface, is drawn in stall two and has a prominent racing style. Jamie Spencer takes the reins and he is an excellent judge of pace: hopefully he'll keep this lad in a forward position and ride as though stamina is guaranteed. From there we'll see. As always, the price makes the play.

Zhui Feng has a lot in his favour. What is against him, however, is a rising mark - lines up off a career high rating - and a perception that he doesn't want it on the slow side. That, coupled to a quote of 12/1, means he's not for me this time.

The favourite is Blair House. He's a lightly raced son of Pivotal who has finished first and second in his two runs on good to soft. He's untried on softer but indications are that he will handle it. Stall nine is not insurmountable, though if adopting his usual midfield style, mucho lucko may be required for a clear passage. At 6/1, he's no more than a small saver option.

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Henry Candy's Greenside, a five length winner of a soft ground handicap, has been very well backed. He may well be suited by the sodden lawns but he was racing off 76 that day and now competes off 23 pounds north. Though he's doubtless improved in the interim it remains possible that he outclassed his lower grade opposition rather than relished the underfoot.

Still, he seems to have conditions largely to suit, though the combination of his weight and draw (11) mean he's only fairly priced at 9/1, even allowing for the fact he should be able to get a handy sit.

I thought Arcanada was interesting until I saw his draw. He's got stall 21 and that may be too much to overcome. As a generally prominent racer, his jockey - Tom Dascombe - will have a fiendish task getting across near the front without using too much petrol. The alternative is to take back, sit and hope, which is not an especially attractive punting proposition; not for me at least. On the plus side, he likes soft ground and big fields, as he showed when fourth in last year's Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot; and his prep run was eye-catching. But 12/1 is a rubbish price with the draw.

I'm happy to take my chances with 25/1 Birchwood and, especially, 20/1 Withernsea.

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3.35 King George Stakes (5f, Group 2)

A classy sprint though one where not all of the principles are sure to be suited by the give in the turf. The one who will, and the one to be on, is PROFITABLE. Clive Cox's sprinter was a Group 1 winner over five furlongs on soft last year, in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot; and he's twice run second so far this term, including in the same race on good to firm. Back on an easy surface, he'll relish conditions and has a class edge on the more exposed runners in this field. 3/1 is nap material.

There are some less exposed types, however, most notably Battaash. But that one's only unplaced effort in six spins over the minimum was when encountering soft ground (and a big field) in last year's Windsor Castle Stakes. The jury remains out on his effectiveness in the wet, in spite of some terrific efforts on quicker so far this term.

Likewise, the fast filly, Marsha, has yet to race on softer than good in eleven turf starts. She was a very close fifth, beaten less than a length, in this last year, but that was on good to firm. Nevertheless, she is quite a big price - 7/1 - if you're happy to roll the dice on the going concern.

Pick of the outsiders has to be Final Venture. Paul Midgley's flyer loves soft turf, has improved this season, and is drawn close to the rail in stall eleven. 20/1 is too big in a race where plenty are either unproven or probably won't enjoy conditions.

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4.10 Nursery Handicap (6f, 2yo, Class 2)

This is filed under 'impossible', though the late Dandy Nicholls obviously didn't get the memo: he won it four times on the spin between 2006 and 2009. It might have been nice if they'd named it in his memory this year, his forays to the Glorious meeting rarely fruitless.

My lucky dart has fallen on Holy Tiber, twice a winner from three career starts and both times on soft ground. She is a handicap debutant for George Scott, whose record with 'cap first timers in the last two years is four-from-twelve. That's impressive - well above par with an IV of 3.3 and an A/E of 1.37 implying some value in the prices at which they're sent off. It's a micro sample of course but this ain't a race where there's much to go on. In the land of the blind and all that...

James Given runs Gift In Time, another having its first run in a handicap. Given's figures are also positive for both A/E and IV and this son of Society Rock was second on soft on his debut. A mark of 82 may underestimate his ability a smidge, notwithstanding that there are any number in opposition for which that comment applies.

The Richard Hannon's, father and son, have fared well, albeit from plenty of runners. Surprisingly, they're unrepresented this time. Two trainers who do saddle entries are Mick Channon and Mark Johnston. Although collectively one from 36 since 2003, they've hit the board on twelve further occasions, a 36% place strike rate. If their luck is to change this year it will be courtesy of one of Milton Road (Channon), Branscombe or Rufus King (both Johnston).

Milton Road is an experienced young man with eleven starts to his name already, the most recent of which was when thumped on soft/heavy at Sandown on Wednesday night. Branscombe was also whacked on soft last time which tempers enthusiasm, but stable mate, Rufus King, ran arguably his best race when second to the capable Cardsharp in the Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy. He is two from three at six furlongs, including last time out, and also has fair form with Coventry winner, Rajasinghe.

Very trappy stuff and we'll still have one more leg of the placepot to go if we fluke through this!

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4.40 Oak Tree Stakes (7f, fillies & mares, Group 3)

A seven furlong big field of fillies and mares, with the three-year-olds getting six pounds in weight for age from their elders. For whatever reason, perhaps coincidence, very low drawn lasses have fared way better than random: indeed those housed in stalls one and two have claimed eleven of the last 20 renewals for a level stakes profit of over 41 points at SP. Crikey. The place percentages back that up with those boxed in traps one to five having much the best of it.

12/1 chance Al Jazi had stall one last year and Frankie made the most of it for trainer, Francois Rohaut. The same team are back to defend their crown but, from stall six and on much slower ground, it will be a different test. I'm not inclined to support her chance.

Stall one this time belongs to another very interesting overseas raider, Wild Approach. This frau comes from the German stable of Dominik Moser. Moser is no mug: he's brought 13 horses to Britain in the last five years, two of them winning (33/1 and 14/1), and another two finishing second. This filly was second on soft last time in a mile Group 3 and acts on any ground. She races prominently and I'm more than happy to take a chance with her at 25/1.

Bletchley has stall two and, though her run style is more midfield, she has some decent form on good to soft. This will be the slowest she's encountered most likely, and she could conceivably improve for it.

It's a really tricky race to weigh up so the German dark horse will do for me.

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5.15 Handicap (1m 3f, 3yo, Class 3)

I'm at Goodwood socially for this Friday card, and I'll be a few bottles of that very fine Goodwood Ale into proceedings by this point. Wagering then will have been undertaken early and lightly against another fiendish proposition for the nightcap. Fourteen three-year-olds line up with eleven furlongs to cover, and you'll know by now my discomfort with 3yo handicaps.

What is remarkable, to me anyway, is that five of the last six winners have returned 4/1 or shorter, in average fields of 13. So maybe it's not one to overthink.

Sir Michael Stoute has booked Ryan Moore for the Queen's Swiftsure in the trainer's bid for a third win in the race since 2011. The son of Dubawi was second on his debut on soft ground, but beaten a long way under similar conditions ten weeks ago. He'll likely prove better in time but there are reservations about whether he wants to make a print with his hooves.

Charlie Appleby runs two: Cross Step and unbeaten handicap debutant, Walton Street. The latter, a son of Cape Cross, was comfortably the best on his only run so far, in a Pontefract maiden. Since that race three weeks ago, just one horse has raced, and it won giving the form some substance. An opening mark of 84 probably understates Walton Street's ability but he will find this a very different examination from his first racecourse experience.

Cross Step, a Kitten's Joy gelding, found it hard to justify an opening peg of 85 in a Newbury handicap over a mile and a half. That was good to firm and this is soft: the same trainer has another son of Kitten's Joy, the classy Hawkbill, who has run his best races on similarly testing turf, so there is hope in this first try on the deep.

One that will definitely act in conditions, if he lines up, is Wednesday's heavy ground winner, Londinium. He was much the best in that similar handicap over a furlong further and, if not cream crackered, has an obvious chance of doubling up in this slightly weaker race under a six pound penalty.

I'm struggling to make a compelling case for anything especially, so if I'm lucky rather than good, Cross Step may improve for the easier surface and, hopefully, at a nice price.

Yes please, another bottle of Goodwood Ale - thanks!

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As mentioned at the top of this post, it will be the last of the week from this digital quill. I've alluded as to why above the little asterisk north of this sentence...

I hope the previews have added some interest, and potentially profit, to your week's betting and I wish you all the luck if you're taking on the Saturday card. I will mostly be nursing a hangover, and also heading to the Cotswolds for a week's holiday with my family; but fear not, it will be business as usual at geegeez.co.uk with punting pointers aplenty wherever you're playing.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Matt

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Two Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Wednesday Preview and Tips

The second of five days on the Downs is highlighted by arguably the race of the week, the Sussex Stakes, a mile Group 1 that sees the three-year-olds take on their older counterparts.

The action commences with a marathon handicap at ten-to-two...

STOP PRESS: Due to a forecast of torrential rain for most of the day, I've added some horses that might be suited by soft ground to the bottom of the previews.

1.50 Goodwood Stakes (Handicap) (2m4 1/2f, 4yo+, Class 2)

First, a reminder that you can view trends information for the Day 2 card here. A couple of interesting lines from there which could help reduce the eighteen-strong field are that all of the last fifteen winners were aged seven or younger; all bar two winners in that time had three or more seasonal runs; and, all bar three had won over at least 1m6f on the flat.

A good chance we've eliminated the winner from the ten who fail to match those criteria, but if we haven't it's a more manageable octet which remain: Akavit, Aurora Gray, Denmead, Frederic, Hawkerland, October Storm, Percy Veer, and Sunblazer.

Frederic (16/1) looks a likely sort. A 120+ hurdler for Micky Hammond, he's now in the care of Keith Dalgleish, having also seen service for the Cumani (flat) and McCain (jumps) yards. In three spins for his current 'employer', the six-year-old son of Zamindar has won twice at trips just north of two miles and progressed from a flat rating of 72 to 88. He was beaten last time, by the re-opposing Akavit and Aurora Gray, and is now better off at the weights with both, though neither of that pair can be readily discounted. As a hurdle winner over further he should have no problems with the trip, and he may not be done improving on the level just yet.

Mick Channon's October Storm (14/1) sneaks in at the bottom of the weights. He has some solid course form at up to two miles, and has contested decent races since staying on over two miles here three starts back. His regular pilot, Graham Lee, opts for Frederic but, in Nathan Evans, he has a talented deputy.

The favourite, Hawkerland, looks short enough. Although he's won his last two easily, stepping up from eleven furlongs to two miles in the process, he now takes two further hikes - half a mile in trip and three grades in class. That's not to say he cannot overcome them, but rather that he's an unsexy price so to do.

This race is often tricky to fathom - as winners at 33/1, 20/1 and 16/1 since 2011 illustrate - so I'll take those two, Frederic and October Storm, each way against the field.

SOFT: The most interesting pair on soft ground might be Star Rider (10/1) and Cool Sky (25/1)

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2.25 Handicap (1m 4f, 3yo, Class 2)

Aargh. A three-year-old handicap. Does anyone have a way of fathoming these? If so, please contact me! They are my blind spot in punting terms, and I would most likely be doing you a disservice by attempting to quantify the form.

What I can say is this: the winner here often goes on to better things, as in the case of the last two victors, Dartmouth and Dal Harraild, who both went on to be capable Cup horses. Pether's Moon won this four years ago, and he was a subsequent Coronation Cup (Group 1) winner, albeit in a sub-standard renewal.

So we're looking for a thorough stayer who could be better than demonstrated to date - most likely a later developer. One interesting observation from a cursory glance is that Dartmouth and Dal Harraild both came here off the back of a placed effort in the same Ascot handicap three weeks prior. One who was placed in what I presume to be the same race this year is Galactic Prince. A bit free there, he should settle better in this bigger field and is only two pounds higher. He gets weight from all his rivals, and is a 16/1 chance.

There are lots of more obvious contenders, one of which will probably win. Caveat emptor, as ever!

SOFT: The selection acts well on soft and remains the (very tentative) selection.

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3.00 Molecomb Stakes (5f, 2yo, Group 3)

A ferociously fast five furlongs contested by juveniles just below top class, as befits its Group 3 status.

Havana Grey, twice a winner on Sandown's straight five but well beaten in between at Ascot, heads up the home team. He is the highest rated on official figures - 109 - and has some margin over Sound And Silence and Invincible Army in a shallow looking renewal.

Karl Burke's grey son of Havana Gold is bound to run well, but he'll probably have to improve to catch the flying HAPPY LIKE A FOOL. Wesley Ward's filly was expected to be his banker of the whole Royal Ascot meeting, but had no answer to Heartache's persistent fleet-footedness. On this easier track, where most of the last half mile is downhill, her stamina ought to come under less scrutiny than at Ascot and, if in the same mood, she'll take the beating, though 11/4 tempers enthusiasm somewhat. I expected her to be a point shorter, so perhaps not all has gone to plan in her preparation.

Invincible Army is dropped back to five furlongs for the first time after a two and a half length beating by Cardsharp in the Group 2 July Stakes. It's possible he was just not good enough there rather than that he didn't quite see out the trip, and he may struggle to go the pace across this fast five.

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Sound And Silence however probably did fail to see out the sixth furlong on his first try at the longer range last time, in the same race as Invincible Army. Previously he'd looked very good in winning twice over the minimum either side of a poor run at Sandown when found to be 'wrong' afterwards. Charlie Appleby's Exceed And Excel colt was a good winner of the 22 runner Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot on his previous five furlong start, and 10/1 each way seems pretty fair.

Ryan Moore was due to ride Battle Of Jericho for 'the lads' and that alone would have ensured this chap went off far shorter than his current 16/1 quote. But Mike Smith is not now traveling for the favourite, so Ryan gets the plum spare. Nevertheless, BoJ was a winner over six furlongs last time at Leopardstown, though he was fading towards the finish; he could improve for a first try at the minimum. He's certainly got plenty of early dash and may reward each way support.

But I think the favourite will probably win if she's trained okay.

SOFT: Only Denaar (16/1) has won on a soft surface to date, most of the others not having tried it yet.

*

3.35 Sussex Stakes (1m, Group 1)

Nine go to post, but this looks like the latest incarnation of the 'Duel On The Downs', this time between dual Guineas winner, Churchill, and the highest rated horse in Britain (at least until Enable's King George figure of 126 was published), Ribchester.

Typically in this race, it is the three-year-old - getting seven pounds weight for age - who usurps the older horse(s), but there are reasons to believe that will not be the case this time.

RIBCHESTER (11/10) is obviously very, very good, as he proved when completing the Lockinge/Queen Anne Group 1 double. Nicely rested since, he comes here a fresh horse and one which may still be marginally on the upgrade. He was only third in this last year but has improved eight pounds according to official figures since then. And, whisper it, he probably should have won that day anyway, given plenty to do and failing by a half length to do it.

Conversely, Churchill comes here off the back of an inexplicably poor effort in the St James's Palace Stakes. Having won seven in a row up to that point, including four straight Group 1's, he could only manage fourth behind Barney Roy at Royal Ascot. He had appeared to still be improving prior to the poor effort at Ascot, but has questions to answer now. It may have been the extreme heat that day; indeed connections will be hoping it was because nothing else came to light to excuse him. Though I respect his level of form, especially with the weight allowance, there is not much in his quote to reflect that last day doubt.

Of the rest, French raider Zelzal is next in the betting, the only other runner at single figure odds. He's pretty good, as he showed when winning the G1 Prix Jean Prat last summer; but he has done all of his racing to date at Deauville (two runs) and Chantilly (five). This maiden voyage outside of France, to a notably quirky track, could see him out of his comfort zone. At least it is easy enough to overlook his prep race last time, when he might have won in any case but for a Benoist clanger.

Lancaster Bomber might be a more interesting each way play if not doing too much in the pace-pressing stakes early on. He showed courage and no little class when hanging tough to take silver behind Barney Roy at Ascot, and may again prove difficult to budge from his prominent placement in the closing yards. 28/1 in a place understates his merit.

It is difficult to make a case for the remainder, all older horses, none convincing as Group 1 class.

SOFT: Ribchester is two from two on soft. At huge prices, Lightning Spear (22/1) and Here Comes When (80/1) both have form with the mud flying.

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4.10 Fillies' Maiden (6f, 2yo, Class 2)

Tea break.

I've nothing to add here, with the possible exception of noting that Ryan Moore rides Lamya (9/2) for Richard Hannon. She did best of the trio engaged here that raced behind Spring Cosmos in a similar heat at Newmarket's July meeting, and she ought to be sharper for that run.

SOFT: Mushahadaat (11/4 fav), Pullitzer (16/1) and Naqaawa (25/1) are by sires whose progeny typically fair all right on soft ground at two.

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4.45 Fillies' Handicap (1m2f, Class 2)

A very competitive race and one which is too difficult for me. But the top weight, Skiffle, could be interesting. She's been beaten far enough recently, albeit in Pattern class, but was good enough to win the Listed Height Of Fashion Stakes over course and distance last May. So, no fears about race conditions - weight to be carried aside - but she does have to step back to something like her best. No odds are available at time of writing, and the price would justify the play: 12/1 or better would make her of mild interest.

In truth, this is a bugger of a placepot final leg, and my wagering involvement will be limited to that assuming I've been good/lucky enough to get this far.

SOFT: Indulged (7/1) won on heavy last time and has form on soft as well.

*

5.50 Handicap (7f, Class 3)

65 minutes after the fillies' handicap is a seven furlong handicap for all-comers. Why so long? Because, of course, the sponsors want an Arab race in the proceedings. Sigh. Anyhoo... high draws have struggled in the really big fields over seven furlongs, and my two against the field are Medburn Dream and Sun Lover.

Medburn Dream (11/1) has been a fine servant for Paul Henderson, winning five of his 21 career starts all on the soft side of good prior to a blitzing of his field on good to firm two starts back. He won by a heavily eased nine lengths there before running better than his finishing position implied at Windsor in a better race than this most recently. Trap nine is not ideal to make the pace, but with only Ifwecan (13) and Easy Tiger (15) expected to challenge for that honour, he should be able to race in his favoured prominent position and will be close enough if good enough, as they say.

Roger Varian saddles 5/1 chance, SUN LOVER, and gets the inside draw to boot. Andrea Atzeni will be able to choose his position atop his versatile conveyance, and will most likely sit handy ready to pounce. The danger of such an approach in a big field is getting boxed in so the wily Italian will need to keep an eye on the wing mirrors as they turn into the straight and quicken down the hill. Sun Lover has proved a touch tricky to win with, finishing second in three of his last four starts, but he's a strong traveller who should hopefully get the run of the race.

Of the rest, Cenotaph is an interesting Aidan O'Brien handicap runner, in the less familiar colours of Mrs Doreen Tabor. How happy she must be to have a 90-rated 'capper while hubby drowns in Group 1 stock! Anyway, be that as it may, Cenotaph has won no more than an apprentice maiden from nine starts to date, and has a tough post in stall 18 to overcome, too. 10/1 fails to raise the pulse, all things considered. (Cue easy victory...)

SOFT: Medburn Dream acts well on soft as mentioned, and Sinfonietta is a fancied runner who likes some cut.

**

And that's Day Two. Should be some excellent racing, though winners may be hard to come by.

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day One Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood is upon us once more and, in spite of it now being officially called the Qatar Goodwood Festival, that's the last you'll hear of the Emirati empire-builder's monicker here. So yes, Glorious Goodwood. And, oh boy is this a glorious week of racing.

The setting, betwixt rolling downs and the sea, is spectacular: perhaps the best in the land. The racing is generally high class and competitive. Winners are unsurprisingly to be cherished, by punters almost as much as owners. Over five days, we will be offered 35 wagering puzzles, starting with a septet of head-scratchers on Tuesday, day one.

Some trends for Day One of Glorious Goodwood can be found here. Current expectation for day one is that the ground will be drying out from good to soft towards good.

1.50 Handicap (1m2f, Class 2)

The customary big-field opener - eighteen runners scheduled to face the starter - and incredibly Mark Johnston, winner of this six times this century, does not saddle any of them. Struggling as I am to acknowledge the new sponsor, it would be remiss not to think that horses running in Qatari silks this week will be expected to perform well.

In that context, Abdon, whose last run was a sighter over course and distance in higher grade, should be considered. Dropping down into handicap company for the first time since a class and distance victory on fast ground at Haydock, he's trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Trip and ground look ideal for Roger Varian's Uae Prince, too, with this son of Sea The Stars racing off the same mark from which he was a length fourth in the John Smith's Cup at York a fortnight ago. As a prominent racer generally, a draw in 15 is not ideal, but no doubt Andrea Atzeni will do what is needed to either tack across or take back.

Garcia was only just behing Uae Prince in that York contest and was running on eye-catchingly. But this easier track may not be what Richard Fahey's fellow wants so he may again be finishing too late. Ryan Moore keeps the ride.

A place and a length behind Garcia was Eddystone Rock. John Best's five-year-old got a little tight for room at one point and has racked up a consistent string of efforts in competitive handicaps. He's a bit of value at around 16/1 (bet365), and UAE PRINCE (7/1) looks quite likely to run well.

Skybet are MONEY BACK AS A FREE BET IF YOU LOSE on the 1.50 (max stake £20). Click here for this offer.

Paddy are 1/5 FIVE places.

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2.25 Vintage Stakes Preview, Tips (7f, 2yo, Group 2)

The first Group race of the week is a test of speed and stamina for two-year-olds. Having not had much to crow about from nine runners up to 2008, Aidan O'Brien began to patronise this heat again in 2014. His two runners in the last three years have both won, and included the tough and smart Highland Reel. The bid for a recent hat-trick rests with Seahenge for 'the lads'.

One of just three (from 39) Ballydoyle juveniles to win on debut this year - the other pair included Chesham Stakes winner, September - that offers a clue as to Seahenge's precocity. He was, like most of his peers, held up and given something of an education that day, yet still had enough to come through under hands and heels. It's likely he didn't beat a whole lot but he will improve plenty for that experience and should relish the extra furlong.

That quiet opening run approach has long been the modus operandi of Sir Michael Stoute, and he saddles his only juvenile debut winner of 2017 - from just nine juvies to race this year - in the shape of Expert Eye. The well beaten third and fourth from that seven furlong Newmarket maiden have both won their only starts since, giving the form a solid look.

Mark Johnston runs two-from-two Mildenberger, who won his most recent start by five lengths. But Johnston has saddled eleven losers since his back-to-back victories with the smart pair, Lucky Story and Shamardal.

French raider, Cold Stare, was a Listed winner over this trip last time out, and is an interesting runner; but I expect SEAHENGE (5/2) to take a lot of beating.

bet365 are paying A QUARTER THE ODDS 1-2-3

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3.00 Lennox Stakes Preview, Tips (7f, Group 2)

The same grade and trip, this time for older horses, and a field of fifteen which includes four Godolphin runners for four different trainers.

The market is co-headed by LIMATO, a dual Group 1 winner, including over seven furlongs. Although still searching for a first win of the campaign, Henry Candy's five-year-old has made the frame in his last two starts, both in Group 1's at the shorter six furlong range. He has looked like the step up might be what he needs now, and Limato appeals as a win bet at 4/1 (bet365), looking very likely be on the premises. [NB Now top priced 10/3, which is about right in my view.]

Librisa Breeze is the other joint-favourite: he is a dual winner over seven furlongs, both at Ascot, and has also won over further. This lesser test of stamina is not expected to suit and he will probably be running on late - too late - at the finish.

From the Godolphin quartet, the most interesting pair may be Home Of The Brave and Dutch Connection. The former is unbeaten in two starts this term, and steps up again after wins in Listed and Group 3 company. Stall one will aid his front-running style, but he's never won above G3 level, however, and this looks a hot contest for a Group 2.

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Dutch Connection is a seven furlong specialist. His record at the distance reads 1131216, a string which includes a win and a second in this in the last years. He was below par at the Curragh last time but that mooted as a prep for his Lennox defence, and I like his chance, each way, especially at a tasty 12/1 (Ladbrokes).

Skybet, Betfred, Paddy, tote, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfair are all paying AFIFTH THE ODDS 1-2-3-4

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3.35 Goodwood Cup Preview, Tips (2m, Group 1)

A big field of sixteen for the Group 1 centre piece of day one, the Goodwood Cup, run over the marathon trip of two miles. Despite the large field, BIG ORANGE is a shade of odds on in the absence of recent foe, Order Of St George. Michael Bell's six-year-old son of Duke Of Marmalade has continued to blossom this term winning both the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown and the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in an epic tussle.

He is also the reigning champion in this event, having won it for the last two years, thus he attempts to match the record of the great Double Trigger in winning a third Goodwood Cup.

While I'm unexcited by his price, it is not the wrong price. He has elevated to a career high perch of 121 with the official handicapper, comes here in terrific form, and is known to relish conditions. If there is a fly in the ointment, and a reason not to pile in at 10/11, it is the prospect of a contested pace. Big Orange likes to lead. In this field, so too do High Jinx, and Oriental Fox. It probably won't stop Frankie Dettori, back from injury and reacquainting himself after James Doyle deputised the last day, from controlling the fractions, nor from winning the race.

Nearer the time there may be 'without the favourite' betting and here I'd be somewhat interested in the price of US Army Ranger. He was waited with to get the trip in the 2m6f Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting, and stayed on well to take third there. He's been a hard horse with which to win - losing run stretches to eight races now - but the first of those was when runner up in last year's Derby: he clearly has class.

In truth, it's a shallow looking affair. Apart from the above pair, perhaps the most interesting of the remainder may be the three-year-old Stradivarius. Andrea Atzeni got a great tune out of him (groan) in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot and he looks nicely progressive. With the near stone in weight for age he receives from all bar fellow 3yo Desert Skyline and the mare Sweet Selection, he could continue his upward trajectory and demonstrate he stays this far by making the frame.

bet365 are paying A QUARTER THE ODDS 1-2-3

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4.10 Maiden (6f, 2yo, Class 2)

Tea break.

More helpfully, perhaps, I can tell you that in the last five years, Richard Hannon Jr. has saddled five two-year-old maiden winners here in July and August from 43 starters. He's notched a 30% place rate which is reasonable, though as you see he does fire a lot of bullets: in this race his gun is loaded with three.

For the sponsors, Frankie rides Algam, who was second on his only start in an Epsom maiden over seven furlongs. He steps back an eighth here and will probably encounter slightly quicker ground. The similarities of Epsom's chaotic camber to Goodwood's own helter-skelter mean that initial outing will have clued the son of Kodiac up to what he'll encounter on the Downs. Nothing from the Epsom race has run since so it's tricky to peg the form.

But the one I'm betting is REBEL STREAK, under geegeez-sponsored jockey, David Probert. He was murdered in a Class 3 Ascot novice last time out, coming between converging horses and would surely have won if not for taking back alarmingly as a result of the incident. That form looks good with both the fifth and seventh winning their sole starts since, from only three horses to run again. He's 11/2 on the opening show with Paddy and Betfair Sports, if you can get on with them. Sadly I can't so will have to see what else manifests.

bet365 are paying A QUARTER THE ODDS 1-2-3

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4.45 Handicap (5f, 4yo+, Class 2)

The first cavarly charge of the week. Exposed handicappers comprise the field - no runners younger than four - and there could be a bias towards low drawn waited with types in a field this size. That would bring in last year's winner, Boom The Groom, who has slipped back to a mark of 102. He won off 98 twelve months ago and followed up in a similar race at York from the same figure as he contests this. Conditions clearly suit and he is tempting at odds of 9/1.

The one they will probably have to catch is Amomentofmadness. Charlie Hills' runner is consistent and should lead into the final furlong before perhaps giving best. He ought at least to offer a run for your money.

And what of the remarkable Pettochside? Ten runs at Goodwood have yielded nine placed finishes, three of them wins. That trio of triumphs were all recorded on soft turf, however, making the drying ground a concern; and they were all over six furlongs. John Bridger's season ticker holder should again trouble the judge.

One trainer who loves getting winners at this meeting is Amanda Perrett. Based locally at Pulborough, she runs the ex-Johnny Murtagh-trained Kasbah, narrowly denied at Sandown last time out and now five pounds below his last winning mark. He'd prefer to hear his hooves rattle, however, and may have to wait a tad longer before returning to the winners' enclosure.

Vibrant Chords, who beat Amomentofmadness over course and distance two starts back, and Dark Shot, third in that race, are others to consider in a typically open sprint handicap.

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5.15 Fillies' Handicap (1m, 3yo+, Class 3)

A low draw and a prominent run style usually gets you in the mix in big field handicaps over a mile and that's the approach I'm taking with this one. Two fillies fit the bill, Lincoln Rocks and Darkroom Angel.

The former, as the only four-year-old on the field gets to carry plenty of weight. But she's fast from the stalls, is drawn in trap three, and had held her form very well including when claiming a Listed contest two runs back. Although vulnerable to a more lightly-weighted, less exposed filly, she will give backers a run at least at around 16/1.

Darkroom Angel, meanwhile, has the inside post and has won over these undulations earlier in the year. That was over ten furlongs on quicker turf, but if she can travel off the slighter faster tempo she won't want for stamina at the business end. She's 40/1 which suggests she's probably out of her depth.

Roger Varian's Shenanigans (12/1) splits the trailblazers in stall two. Her prominent running style should mean she can slipstream the above pair and challenge in the closing stages if good enough. Unexposed on turf - just two placed runs to date - she can continue Varian's excellent recent form (24% winners, 57% placed, in July).

Skybet are paying AFIFTH THE ODDS 1-2-3-4

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And that's Tuesday. A tricky card, but a few playable at the prices. Good luck whatever you fancy. Even if you're winner-free on day one, there will be 28 further chances to put that right before the week is out!

Matt

Monday Musings: Almost Autumn, But First A Glorious Winter

Don’t look, but it’s August - or will be tomorrow, writes Tony Stafford. Darker mornings and what used to be Glorious Goodwood, but now is officially the Qatar Goodwood Festival, are upon us. I don’t believe Goodwood has ever started as late as August 1 and by the time we get to the weekend, autumn will almost be here.

It has been positively wintry the last few days, but there will not be a shred of discontent from the Coolmore/Ballydoyle contingent if Winter, the second-most predominant filly of her generation after the peerless Enable, should carry her successful run through Thursday’s Nassau Stakes.

Some people may be suited by the various switches to the Goodwood programme, but I fail to see why there is any benefit in moving the Nassau, a perfect counter-point to my mind to the cavalry charge of the Stewards’ Cup and the always-competitive consolation race which precedes it, to the Thursday.

The Goodwood Cup, traditionally staged on Thursday, goes forward a couple of days to the opening stage of the five days, but at least the Sussex Stakes remains on the Wednesday, so not too long to wait for Churchill’s attempt at rehabilitation against Barney Roy and Ribchester, a handy Godolphin double act.

It was hot enough when Churchill could finish only fourth behind his nearest 2,000 Guineas victim Barney Roy in Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace Stakes – 93 degrees Fahrenheit to my recollection. People everywhere were complaining about the heat, so no wonder some of the horses might have under-performed and maybe that was Churchill’s major reason for a sub-standard effort.

I pass on a slightly amusing story. I was fortunate enough to be based in a box that day and, arriving early with Harry Taylor, had the chance of a leisurely cup of coffee in an otherwise deserted location. Coming inside, I suggested there was a nice breeze outside as I accepted the offer of a second cup. This was greeted with the news that I was sitting with a fan whirring full on right behind me.

The King George duly provided Enable with a third successive Group 1 romp after her Oaks and Irish Oaks successes and firmly propelled her to the top of all the middle-distance ratings, and rightly so. The irony of the result is that while everyone pointed to the fact that she was getting 14lb from the older colts, so success was always highly likely, only one other three-year-old, the Godolphin colt Benbatl, even tried to take advantage of that generous weight concession, in his case 11lb from his elders.

Benbatl had been fifth in the Derby behind the now retired Wings of Eagles and then narrowly won the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot in a close finish with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Orderofthegarter. His fifth place here was in keeping with those runs and suggested that others of his generation might also have made an impact.

O’Brien ran last year’s King George winner, Highland Reel, and that admirable horse’s full-brother Idaho, but the former was clearly – and as expected – hampered by the soft ground. Fourth place, some way behind his sibling and also Eclipse winner Ulysses, who was a gallant second, represented further testimony to his toughness in adverse conditions.

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I also admired the fact that O’Brien apparently had no hesitation about running Highland Reel, never mind Idaho. The pair collected a joint £185,000 for their exertions after which Highland Reel can be rested for a time before more highly-remunerative world travel.

Enable was much too good for this group of colts and indeed the only time she has been beaten, it was her stable-mate Shutter Speed who crossed the line first at Newbury back in the spring. Shutter Speed is one of a handful of potentially-dangerous opponents for Winter on Thursday, as she returns for the first time since her close but weakening fourth in the Prix de Diane in June.

John Gosden also has So Mi Dar to make things interesting, while Nezwaat (who, like Enable, has a recent verdict over Rain Goddess), Queen’s Trust and Godolphin’s Wuheida are other likely runners.

Wuheida, unbeaten at two when she won the Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day, made a spirited return to be runner-up to the tough Roly Poly at HQ, a performance which looks even better after that winner’s follow up in yesterday’s Prix Rothschild (Group 1) on the opening Sunday of Deauville’s summer meeting.

Last week, I put forward my friend Lew Day’s Raheen House as a potential St Leger winner. Whatever his fate there, Raheen House does have one unique distinction – he is the only male yet to finish ahead of Enable as he split the two Gosden fillies Shutter Speed and Enable in that Newbury race back in the spring.

The outstanding performance on the King George undercard was undoubtedly Nyaleti’s five-length demolition of the previously unbeaten Dance Diva in the Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes. Nyaleti had been comprehensively outrun, first by September in the Chesham Stakes at the Royal meeting and then, dropping back to six furlongs, by Clemmie in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting, but got back on track here in devastating style.

Mark Johnston’s filly is clearly improving and as one pedigree student pointed out to me before and, with more energy after, the race, she probably benefited from the softer ground as her sire, Arch’s, and maternal grandsire Verglas’ produce are usually effective in the soft.

So one might think that the two Ballydoyle fillies that beat Nyaleti are the front-runners for next year’s 1,000 Guineas, but by all accounts you must think again. For hidden away last Thursday night in an otherwise anonymous Leopardstown card, which contained just the four Aidan O’Brien winners – all, incidentally, as Paul Smith might say : “In the purple and white” - was another juvenile who might be the best of the lot.

Running in the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes, Happily, a full-sister to both Gleneagles and 2014 Irish 1,000 Guineas winner, Marvellous, stretched five lengths clear of her rivals and impressed Ryan Moore. As ever, the biggest task for the trainer will be to plan a path that maximises the potential of all these, and no doubt others to come later. Already it looks as though the English trainers will struggle to make much of an impact in the major juvenile fillies’ races, Johnston and Nyaleti apart.

One of the more interesting aspects of the still embryonic jumps season has been the fantastic run of form of the Dan Skelton stable, enjoyed in equal measure by his younger brother Harry. Both are already into the 40’s for the season and a treble at Uttoxeter on Sunday even had the distinction of achieving the almost impossible – beating an Olly Murphy favourite.

While still in his first month with a licence, Murphy, son of trainer Anabel and former assistant to Gordon Elliott, has won with eight of 15 jumps runners and three of nine on the Flat, for almost a 50% strike-rate.

If the BHA handicappers keep giving his horses ratings like the 47 (won off 50 even with Jamie Spencer’s 3lb overweight at Newcastle on Saturday) for Banff (100 jumps after his second at Stratford on his Murphy debut) or the 43 allotted to Gold Class (103 jumps after beating Banff in that race), then he’ll continue to thrive, even without the obvious ability he clearly has to call on. [In both cases, the mark was achieved before the horse arrived at Murphy’s yard – Ed.]

Stat of the Day, 29th July 2016

Thursday's Result :

5.10 Nottingham : Oriental Relation @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 5/2 (Tracked leader, led over 1f out, son ridden, headed final furlong, no extra)

Friday's pick goes in the...

2.35 Goodwood :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Thikriyaat at 11/4 BOG

Why?

They say that if at first, you don't succeed, you should try again, so it's a second visit of the week to Glorious Goodwood and here's why...

Thikriyaat really caught the eye when making up plenty of ground to finish second behind Ribchester in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Ascot, just over six weeks ago.

He'd met serious trouble in running from the 19-runner field and this ended his perfect 3 from 3 start to his career, which kicked off with a win over this 1m trip. So we know he gets the trip and the way he finished last time suggests the step back up is right and with fewer rivals to contend with, a clearer passage might be all that's needed.

He was eventually just over 2 lengths adrift of Ribchester that day, but we can draw confidence in the latter's narrow (NK & SH) defeat in 3rd place behind The Gurkha and Galileo Gold in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes here over this course and distance on Wednesday.

His yard is in great form with 7 winners from 19 (36.8% SR) over the last 7 days, including 3 wins from 7 Class 1 races and stablemate Ulysses won a Group 3 contest here on Wednesday.

Looking slightly further than the last week, Sir Michael Stoute's male runners here at Goodwood are 28/121 (23.1% SR) for 22.1pts (+18.3% ROI) profits. Of particular relevance today are the facts that, like Thikriyaat...

  • 3/4 yr olds are 26/96 (27.1%) for 41.2pts (+42.9%)
  • 16-60 days since last run : 22/82 (26.8%) for 39.2pts (47.8%)
  • at 5/1 or shorter : 24/77 (31.2%) for 11.74pts (+15.25%)
  • fields of 7-12 runners : 20/68 (29.4%) for 31.4pts (+46.2%)
  • in 3yo only races : 15/55 (27.3%) for 19.2pts (+34.9%)
  • Class 1 : 8/36 (22.2%) for 13.8pts (+38.4%)
  • beaten by 1 to 4 lengths LTO : 7/24 (29.2%) for 7.32pts (+30.5%)
  • 2nd LTO : 6/23 (26.1%) for 5.28pts (+23%)
  • at group 3 : 5/16 (31.25%) for 9.73pts (+60.8%)

AND...if you backed all of Sir Michael's males here since 2009 who were aged 3 or 4, priced at 7/1 or shorter in fields of 7 to 17 runners some 16 to 60 days after their last run, you'd have bagged yourself 17 winners from 39 (43.6% SR) and a £20 stake on each of them would have made you a cool £650 at an ROI of 83.4%.

Oh, and of those 39 runners in the niche micro above, Group 3 runners are 3 from 7 (42.9%) for 13pts (+185.5%), obviously including Ulysses from Wednesday!

...all of which points to a 1pt win bet on Thikriyaat at 11/4 BOG which was available in over a dozen places at 11.15pm, but to see your preferred bookies' odds, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 2.35 Goodwood

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard...

Stat of the Day, 27th July 2016

Tuesday's Result :

2.20 Yarmouth : Theydon Bois @ 9/4 BOG 4th at 15/8 (Led, took keen hold and hung badly right final circuit, ridden and headed over 3f out, virtually unrideable and no danger after)

Wednesday's pick goes in the...

3.45 Goodwood :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

The Last Lion at 100/30 BOG

Why?

This 2yr old colt's figures currently read 13221 ahead of this Group 3 contest, with a half length defeat in a Group 2 race and then a win in a Listed contest 26 days ago his last two outings, so he's in good nick.

Franny Norton was on board LTO taking the partnership's record to 2 wins from 3 (131) and that augurs well for today, as does his yard's record here at Goodwood in general.

But I want to focus on trainer Mark Johnston's recent record at this Festival meeting, where since 2008, he has had 27 winners from 234 runners (11.5% SR) producing level stakes profits of 112.4pts at an ROI of 48.1%, from which...

  • male runners are 23/185 (12.4%) for 107.6pts (+58.1%)
  • on good ground : 17/120 (14.2%) for 91.5pts (+76.2%)
  • those last seen 11-28 days ago are 16/117 (13.7%) for 98.3pts (+84%)
  • when he has had 2 runners in the same race : 12/72 (16.7%) for 71pts (+98.6%)
  • LTO winners are 8/58 (13.8%) for 32.8pts (+56.6%)

AND...since 2012, males on good ground 11 to 28 days after their last run are 5/10 (50% SR) for 69.4pts (+694% ROI).

Plus with Goodwood not being the easiest track to ride, we need a jockey well versed in the nuances of this venue, so step forward Franny Norton with his 14 winners from 92 rides (15.2% SR) here since 2011 that have generated level stakes profits of 82.7pts (+89.9% ROI), from which...

  • males are 11/63 (17.5%) for 88.5pts (+140.4%)
  • those priced at 8/1 and shorter are 10/41 (24.4%) for 25.9pts (+63.1%)
  • with males at 8/1 or shorter winning 7 of 29 (24.1%) for 14.7pts (+50.6%)

...which all means, it's a 1pt win bet on The Last Lion at 100/30 BOG from any one of the half dozen firms offering that price at 6.45pm, although to see your preferred bookies' odds, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 3.45 Goodwood

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard...

Glorious Goodwood: Draw and Pace Angles

One of my favourite meetings of the year is Glorious Goodwood. Its setting is arguably the finest in Britain, the Sussex Downs providing a quintessentially British canvass upon which to paint the high class action, at what is one of the most casual and 'everyman' of the Summer Festivals.

When the sun shines at Glorious Goodwood, all is right with the world. But still, a couple of extra quid in the pocket upon departure aids the journey home, especially when one's carriage is the seemingly interminable rattler back to Smokey.

The purpose of this post, then, is pennies in pocket. Specifically, its ambit is to review the draw and run style data within the Geegeez Gold database in search of profit pointers.

Much is written about draw biases across the webosphere, though caution is advised due to the partial or parochial approach many authors take to what is a multi-faceted and deeply nuanced subject. Despite its many vagaries, Gold's remit is to present the information in a readily consumable format. We do that through the use of draw, pace, and draw/pace tables and visualations, using familiar colour codes to underpin the raw data.

Before I illustrate the above using Goodwood as an example, a word on how our data is collated.

Draw Information in Geegeez Gold

For draw, we offer two views: 'Card' and 'Actual'. 'Card' relates to the advertised stall number on your racecard, and 'Actual' is real draw position after non-runners have been accounted for. On wet days, when multiple withdrawals have been made, the difference can be significant.

Select going and runner ranges, and choose 'Card' or 'Actual'

Select going and runner ranges, and choose 'Card' or 'Actual'

The impact of the weather on where jockeys choose to race can also be significant, sometimes completely reversing the established draw perceptions, for example at Brighton. As such, Gold's draw information can be viewed across a 'going' range of your choosing.

Personally, I often expand the going range to be one description north and south of the official going, in order to get a slightly bigger sample size of races.

Finally, the field size can also be tweaked to your preference. Again, if the sample size is small, I'll expand this range in search of more data, albeit with a possible minor diminution in accuracy.

Once the controls have been set - or you can just leave them as the defaults, which pertain to the race as it is defined on the card - you are presented with summary and constituent views of the data, each with its own graph. Here's an example of the summary view, with the graph displaying 'place %'.

Summary draw data, charted by your preference of six data elements

Summary draw data, charted by your preference of six data elements

 

Both graphs can be viewed by Win %, Place %, Win Profit/Loss, Each Way P/L, Actual vs Expected and Impact Value. More info on A/E and IV, and how we use it, can be found here.

 

Pace Information in Geegeez Gold

To ascertain how pace affects a race, we assign a numeric value to each horse for each run. Let's be clear: by 'pace' we are talking about 'run style', and specifically where in the field a horse was in the early exchanges.

In the absence of more 'unambiguous' data, we use the in-running comment from our supplier. The geegeez database goes back to the start of 2009, seven and a half years' worth of data, and covers just over 911,000 individual runs. Of those, we have scored more than 863,000 - 94.7% - of them. The remaining 5.3% did not have clear positional data in the comment.

A dataset of this magnitude offers no concerns about the unscored 5%, with the 95% assumed to be representative of the remainder.

Horses are scored between one and four, as follows:

4 - Led, with leader
3 - Prominent
2 - Midfield, in touch
1 - Held up, in rear, etc

 

Clearly defined run styles stand out readily in Gold's pace charts

Clearly defined run styles stand out readily in Gold's pace charts

 

Despite the fairly crude breakdown, Gold's pace charts are actually incredibly effective at highlighting the shape of the race. For those who like to trade in-running, or 'dob', it is invaluable assistance. For the rest of us, who like to try to find a value winner, we need to consider pace data in conjunction with how run styles have historically fared on a given course and distance.

So we recently introduced 'pace blobs' to our output, to frame the race in a broader track and trip past performance context. Here's how they look...

 

Traffic light style pace blobs highlight favoured run styles

Traffic light style pace blobs highlight favoured run styles

 

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In this example, it is pretty clear that those racing closer to, or on, the speed have fared best. Although there is a 'natural selection' element at most courses - that is, a lot of bad horses are at the back because they're not fast enough, or not 'expected' enough, to be anywhere else - it is also the case that less can go wrong in terms of traffic problems for a front-rank racer.

This is especially true at Goodwood, where a combination of big fields and a quirky cambered track lead to countless hard luck stories. It's a course where you want to be in front, or circling your field: anything else requires more luck than judgement, and jockeys who win by coming through the pack have given rides that were lucky, not well-judged.

Draw / Pace Information in Geegeez Gold

Draw information can offer a real insight into favoured positions within the starting gate, and pace data can shine a light on which run styles are best suited by a particular course/distance combination.

The natural evolution of this is to combine draw and pace/run style data into a single view of the world. The problem with this is that often the sample sizes are small, with the number of race runners, winners and placers being divided by twelve (three draw positions - high, middle, low - and our four pace positions) in Geegeezworld.

So, while this information can be interesting, care has to be taken when the samples are limited. That is why, as well as our 'heat map' view, we also publish a sortable table of draw/pace combinations. Here's an example:

 

Overlaying run style to draw position can be highly instructive

Overlaying run style to draw position can be highly instructive

 

This example, sorted by place percentages and taken from the five furlong track at Goodwood in races of 14+ runners on good to soft or quicker, shows a general gravitation from low to middle/led (good) to high/mid-div to held up (not so good).

Phew. Still with me? Good. Although this has been a fairly extensive introduction to the actual meat of the post, I think it important to understand from where the numbers come. This helps to decide whether one is happy with their validity as well as with what they are trying to convey. I have personally found these tools to be of enormous utility, having only included draw data by popular demand (i.e. I didn't think it had merit!). That is to say, I am a convert. 🙂

Draw and Pace at Glorious Goodwood

Finally, we arrive at the heart of the subject matter: draw and pace angles at Glorious Goodwood. There was something of a spoiler in the last section when I touched on the quirks of the course, so let's see how the data bears that out.

Goodwood 5f

Front rank is the place to be, with early leaders and those racing prominently in the first furlong or two performing profitably and above expectation.

goodwood5fpace

 

Goodwood 6f

It's a similar story over six furlongs, though the extra eighth of a mile eats into the 'backability' of those racing prominently but not on the lead.

goodwood6fpace

 

Goodwood 7f

More of the same at seven furlongs from a pace perspective but, as we move onto the round course - and a fairly pronounced home turn - it is worth overlaying the impact of the draw this time. See the second image below.

goodwood7fpace

Both of the below views - constituent draw and draw/pace heat map - are sorted by place percentage, with the data based on races run on good or quicker, with 11+ runners since 2009. The advantage to low is as emphatic as is the disadvantage to high. Those racing on the lead from a low draw have hit the frame 50% of the time.

goodwood7fpacedraw

 

Goodwood 1m

If you want an archetypical example of why a midfield sit is a suicidal manoeuvre at Goodwood, the one mile pace blob view is that. With just four of 139 mid-division racers in the sample able to extricate themselves sufficiently to win, at a lamentable Impact Value of 0.28, these really are a group to avoid like the proverbial bubonic!

(Remember, a point which applies universally to this post, that we only know the 'actual' run style of a horse during and after the race. Sometimes a horse will race in an unexpected position and there's now't much we can do about that. But when a horse has displayed a propensity for a particular run style unfavoured at today's track/trip, avoidance tactics should be deployed, or a healthy chunk on the avaiilable odds demanded).

goodwood1mpace

 

Goodwood 1m1f

With just one race run over the nine furlong trip at Glorious Goodwood these days, we'll move on to the more oft-raced ten furlong range...

 

Goodwood 1m2f

A familiar story in terms of front-runners performing above random - 53% better in this case - but a profit of just £2.81 means this blob could very soon have a more honey-coloured glow to it.

(Green blobs are achieved by an IV greater than 1.00 AND a positive level stakes profit; Amber is awarded when one of those two criteria are met; and Red is for a double fail on those bases).

It is worth pointing out that midfield racers over this longer trip - with more time get themselves sorted out - have a much higher Impact Value score than at the mile distance. Despite a range of all three traffic light colours in the 1m2f blobs, there is little of punting nourishment in run style here.

goodwood1m2fpace

 

Longer Distances

The general principle that those racing closer to the pace is maintained at longer distances, though not to any noteworthy degree from a wagering standpoint.

 

Conclusions, and How To Use This Info

The data show that Goodwood, in common with most tracks, favours front-runners and prominent racers. There are nuances worth considering, and the bias is stronger at some distances - such as seven furlongs - than others.

Clearly, draw and pace are two pieces of a much broader form vista which demands careful study. Gold users have time-saving shortcut tools like the Instant Expert to assist, but regardless of the racecard you use, a holistic approach to consideration of draw/pace framework, as well as horse and trainer form is optimal. But, of course, you knew that already.

With regards to pace, none of the above will be relevant if your fancy is compromised by the run style of others in the race. Specifically, take care backing front-runners when three or more horses like to lead, and generally be apprehensive of later runners unless you can factor their probable track position disadvantage into the odds available. In other words, demand a price!

Good luck with your Glorious Goodwood punting, and I hope the above nudges you to towards a decent winner or three.

Matt

p.s. If you're not already a Gold subscriber, you can take a seven day trial - covering all of both Glorious Goodwood and the Galway Festival - for just £1. Click here to start your trial.

Glorious Goodwood 2015 Day 1 Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood Day 1 Preview/Tips

Glorious Goodwood Day 1 Preview/Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2015 Day 1 Preview, Tips

One of the Summer highlights, Glorious Goodwood is as much a treat for the casual racegoer as it is for the hardened turfistas. Five days of high class action get underway with a septet of largely insoluble shemozzles, commencing with an eighteen runner ten furlong handicap.

2.00 Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 1m2f)

Small mercy is that two are already out on account of the ground at the time of writing (3pm Monday afternoon), and inevitably punters should brace themselves for at least one further withdrawal and, therefore, one less place to shoot at from an each way perspective.

Mark Johnston's record in this race is simply incredible: he's saddled 29 horses, winning the prize five times. Not only that but he's trained another seven horses to make the frame, so his trio command close scrutiny.

The three includes last year's winner, Sennockian Star, a horse whose teak toughness is well known. He was having his tenth start of the year when prevailing last term, and will similarly be having a tenth run this year here.

The similarities continue: he is rated a pound lower than when winning last year; he again comes into the race off a fair run in the John Smith's Cup; and he is again favourably drawn, in stall four as opposed to five last year, for his prominent running style.

Sennockian Star has twice won on good to soft, so everything looks primed for another bold showing from the defending champ. 12/1 looks at least fair, and probably a tad appealing.

Fire Fighting is the second string to Johnston's bow. Though he's bidding to become the highest rated winner since at least 1997 from his perch of 110, hope comes in the knowledge that four of the last dozen winners were rated 107+.

Indeed, put another way, of the thirteen horses rated 107+ to contend this race since 1997, four have won and another three have made the frame.

This son of Soldier Of Fortune has a late running style which ought to somewhat mitigate his wide draw, but the worry is the ground: although he's won on good to soft, his best form in this grade is on quicker.

Joe Fanning would have had first dibs on the 'Always Trying' squad, and he's opted for the third runner, Zand. Formerly trained by John Oxx, he was more recently campaigning - and winning - in Switzerland. This will be his first run in a handicap and for his new trainer.

Rated as high as 99 for Oxx, he comes here off a mark of 102, which is ostensibly stiff enough. But Fanning's casting vote, allied to some of his best runs coming with give in the ground, and a draw in box one for a handy racer, offer an attractive cocktail for those prepared to make a punting leap of faith.

Many other chances, perhaps most notably Collaboration, who was seeking a four-timer when beaten only three lengths in Listed company at Royal Ascot last time. He's proven on good and soft ground so no worries on that score, and the trip is spot on. Stall 17 could be tough to overcome, but I fancy Andrew Balding's runner might have a hand in the finish under the consistently under-rated David Probert.

Mount Logan is capable of winning a race like this but might just prefer a bit further, and is a somewhat frustrating sort in any case.

A really tricky race and I'll take a chance on SENNOCKIAN STAR. Collaboration and Zand will also find their way on to my placepot ticket, along with at least a couple more!

SKYBET are offering money back as a free bet if your horses loses in this race.

 

2.35 Vintage Stakes (Group 2, 7f)

The Hannon family's monopoly of this race was usurped last year when Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel scalped Tupi with ease, and the local trainer looks to again have his work cut out with just 16/1 outsider of the field, Palawan, flying the Hannon flag.

At the other end of the market, Birchwood vies with Godolphin ownermate, Strong Challenge, for market leadership. The former has the 'got the t-shirt' credentials having already claimed a seven furlong Group 2 prize at Newmarket's July meeting.

That was on good to firm though, and he was soundly beaten on his only run on slower than good. Still, it might have been the overseas travel - for a race at Naas - or it might have been the shape of the race - he had no cover running into a strong headwind - that beat him that day.

Being by Dark Angel, often an influence for soft ground horses, he deserves another chance at least, though a top price of 3/1 tempers enthusiasm.

Strong Challenge won well last time out over six furlongs on this non-conformist strip in a time that was little to write home about. However, the horse he beat there - Gutaifan - won a Group 2 in France at the weekend to complete a subsequent hat-trick, and that clearly adds plenty of substance to Saeed bin Suroor's charge's effort.

Moreover, the horse that beat Strong Challenge on his debut, Riflescope, has since run well at Royal Ascot before winning a Listed race at Sandown. 4/1 in a place makes more appeal than the favourite based on this lad's upside potential after just two racecourse spins.

Talking of upside potential, Ibn Malik ran a very fast time on his only start to date, when making all over this trip at Newmarket. The second and third have both won their only races since, meaning this lad beat some good sticks in a field a dozen strong.

Whether he'll act with give in the ground remains to be seen - his US pedigree (Raven's Pass out of a Storm Cat mare) is less than supportive - but if he does, 11/2 will look big.

Hugo Palmer's Galileo Gold has been snapped up by Al Shaqab Racing, meaning Frankie Dettori takes over from Martin Harley in the saddle. The son of Paco Boy doubled his win tally over trip and ground last time and, while this is a step up in grade (actually, it's several steps up in grade), he is proven in conditions.

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Palmer remains in very good form, and here is another with a chance.

The same can be said about Dean Ivory's unbeaten Twin Sails. Winner of a big field Newbury maiden at a big price over this range on debut, he proved it was no fluke by comfortably bagging a Class 3 conditions event at Salisbury last month. Neither race was won in a fast time, and both were on much quicker ground. Further, the form of the Salisbury race has received few boosts from six subsequent starters.

Despite all that, Twin Sails has a pedigree that could be made for the soft side of good, and it is hardly his fault if horses he's beaten comprehensively have failed to fire thereafter. There's a chance he's not good enough, of course, but in what looks a very tough race to fathom, 10/1 for small stakes is playable.

Mark Johnston hasn't won this since completing a back-to-back brace with the fine stallion, Shamardal, in 2004. He's double handed this time, and his juveniles have been in stonking form all year. Beaverbrook has already been to many parties, and has been outdrunk, outdanced and outfought by Birchwood twice at those shindigs. He's exposed and would be a surprise winner, to this scribbler at least.

Welford, Johnston's other entry, is also more exposed than most with five races to his name but he is at least upwardly mobile, having won his last two. The form of all of his first four races has worked out - his most recent run was just a week ago - and he should run well in the ground.

I'd be fairly confident he'll finish in front of his stablemate despite being the longer priced of the pair. Joe Fanning seems to agree as he's elected for this chap. Welford's bold pace-setting style in recent times could see him set the tune for a long way before the challengers emerge and, as we all know, Fanning on the front is a tough man to pass.

So many imponderables mean this is not a betting race for me. At the prices, I think Twin Sails and Welford have more going for them than their double digit odds imply, but in truth any one of this field could win.

3.10 Lennox Stakes (Group 2, 7f)

Ah, now this is more like it. A sensible sized field, some established form, and no (major) weight-for-ability scale. Not named after the ice cream-guzzling British former Canadian former heavyweight champion Lewis, but rather the Duke of Lennox, one of the Goodwood guv'nor's monickers, the roll of honour is a mixed bag. Smart nags like Paco Boy and Iffraaj share the page with less able equines but, with five of the field rated 113+, the 2015 renewal looks well up to muster.

Top of the tree according to BHA figures is Toormore, a horse with some excellent Group 1 form, but who has found winning pretty difficult. Indeed, he's not got his head in front since his seasonal bow last year, when he took the Craven Stakes. Still, he won the course, distance and grade Vintage Stakes as a juvenile, and was a very close second in this last term.

His rating of 119 would be the highest ever for a Lennox winner, though the race was only established in 2000. Despite his poor win record in the last two years, he's perfectly genuine. Rather, it is that he has been pitched at the very top level time after time. Third, beaten a length, in the QE II Stakes last backend (on heavy), second in the Lockinge (beaten a neck) first time this season, and then fourth (beaten three lengths) in the Queen Anne Stakes reads way better than his rivals' recent efforts, and I have little doubt he's the best horse in the race.

Barring his way to victory, however, are two unanswered questions: 1. has he lost the will to win? and 2. can he overcome the seven pounds weight for age he (and all older horses) must concede to the Classic generation?

The answer to the first question is no: I've already stated I don't believe there's any lack of resolution. So we turn to the WFA scale, which when applied against Tupi and Dutch Connection, means Toormore would actually be two pounds inferior to the former and a pound behind the latter.

Dutch Connection is a seven furlong horse, and that specialism is worth a bonus tick in my box; but his form is not in the same parish as Toormore, in spite of a fine win in the Jersey Stakes backed up by a very fine second over a mile in the Prix Jean Prat. Good to soft would be a question mark, his only effort on that surface being when hammered by the never-seen-again Faydhan at Haydock.

This might come soon enough after that gutsy Jean Prat effort too so, while I respect him, I prefer Toormore. As for Tupi, all his best form is on fast ground, and I'd be a tad disappointed if he was good enough. His rating looks a little on the generous side to me.

Godolphin's Safety Check has to concede a Group 2 penalty as well as weight for age, which is fair enough given he's won five of his last seven races. All of those wins were on good or good to firm ground, however, and the two defeats were on good to soft, and over course and distance on good. He won a Class 2 handicap at this meeting last year off 96, and is now rated fully twenty pounds higher.

Conceding weight all round on ground presumed softer than ideal, he's not for me.

The best each way play might be Absolutely So, Andrew Balding's five year old an out-and-out six and seven furlong sort. Seemingly better than ever this term, he moved from a bronze medal in a Group 3 at Haydock to gold in a Listed race at Salisbury, and conditions here look plum. I remain to be convinced he's good enough, but at 16/1 with Paddy, he's worth the chance.

All told, I think this is TOORMORE territory. He might be considered an unsexy price to many at around 9/4, but if he's ever going to get back to winning ways, this ought to be spot on. I'll be looking out for any specials on him, and probably using him in a few doubles as a banker. He'll also be my placepot banker.

You'll know my fate on the day as a result!

3.45 Summer Handicap Stakes (Class 2, 1m6f)

A staying handicap over a mile and three quarters, and many chances as 7/1 the field attests. Farquhar and Notarised are a pair with solid profiles.

Farquhar won a huge field Newmarket handicap over a mile and a half last autumn and was staying on well behind Notarised last time over that same trip, and on this sort of ground. Five pounds better off with his conqueror there, Peter Chapple-Hyam's four year old will again be played late off what should be honest fractions.

Notarised has a polar opposite run style to Farquhar, preferring to set the pace when he can. As a Johnston/Fanning-controlled beast, he's good at what he does, and a placed record of four from four on good to soft (and seven from eight on soft or good to soft) says conditions are as he likes them. His last five form of 19101 has been a bit binary this season, and on that record he's due a duck egg, but on the balance of form - including a course and distance win three back - he could hang tough until very late in the day.

Far more speculative is Montefeltro, a horse whose old form gives him a fine chance, but whose three efforts this season do not. Prior to his three tame runs this year, he was off for a full season, and prior to that he won the Irish Cesarewitch - worth £48k to the winner - which was not bad for a ten grand reject buy jettisoned from John Ferguson's Bloomfields squad!

He's dropped from 98 to 95 and, with Tom Marquand taking over from Robert Tart and claiming a five pound allowance, he races off 90 now; that could see a much better effort from one who was only beaten six lengths last time despite finishing 13th in the Northumberland Plate. I reckon Brian Ellison will land a nice pot with this fellow before the season is out, and it might just be here. I'm speculating for a couple of quid, win and place, at 22/1.

Many (many!) chances, and I'll take each way interest in FARQUHAR from the top of the market and Montefeltro from further down more in hope than expectation.

4.20 Handicap (Class 2, 5f)

Fifteen of them (no fourth place) over a flying five on rain softened ground. Let's start with those who have shown they like soggy turf: Perfect Muse, Lucky Beggar, Chilworth Icon and Confessional.

Perfect Muse has been in the frame in all three soft ground runs, finishing second each time. If that is a bit of a worry, so is the fact that those races were all in Class 4 or below, and this is Class 2. Three runs in this grade have yielded an unpromising 050 and maybe 12/1 is right.

Lucky Beggar looks more compelling. First or second in eight of fourteen five furlong dashes, his form on the soft side of good at the minimum reads 1442214. That string includes some high class events, including two Pattern races. With trainer Charlie Hills in good form, and plenty of pace to charge at, all looks set for a strong run.

Another racking up his tenth start of the year is Chilworth Icon for Mick Channon. I do like this horse: he's game and pretty good on his day. However, I think his day tends to come on soft ground and a slightly stiffer test than this - either an uphill finish or six furlongs. He's run well in one of his two course runs, both over seven furlongs, the good one of which was in the 2012 Group 2 Vintage Stakes behind a certain Olympic Glory.

Confessional is 97 years old (OK, he's eight, but he seems to have been around since the Pathé News days), and has winning form on soft. He ran second in this grade on this ground and over this trip as recently as last October and followed that up with a fine fourth over the same conditions. This will be his first run since on what might be a perfect combination, and the booking of Andrea Atzeni for Tim Easterby fairly knocks the eye out. I'm playing small change each way at 16/1.

The favourite is Double Up, who is attempting to do just that after a last day win. He'd be making it four from five this season, one of which was on the soft side of good. Clearly on the upgrade, and in Roger Varian's capable hands, he might be too good... but I can't look at 3/1 in a race like this. Good luck if you can.

Again, many chances, most of which I've failed to mention. At least this race has a solid favourite for those who like the 'security' of such things. He looks sure to run well again, but doesn't have much in hand on the likes of Top Boy and Humidor, and I don't especially like either of those. No, I'm going to tickle the old lag, Confessional, for a seriously left field combo of Easterby and Atzeni. 16/1 has latitude to that end. And I'll throw a couple of quid at 10/1 Lucky Beggar too, again win and place.

4.55 Maiden Stakes (Class 2, 6f)

Please don't be disappointed that I'm not going into any depth on this one. I'll leave you with a single thought: Sir Roger Moore would not be raising any eyebrows if he was to win.

5.30 Handicap (Class 3, 1m)

Having hoped to get through the card in less than 3000 words, I've done my budget with a race to spare, and that's with ignoring the preceding maiden. If only verbosity was an Olympic sport...

Draw monkeys will be vexing themselves for this big field mile contest and, depending on who you listen to, you may get strongly held but conflicting opinions. My own take is that off a strong pace, a low drawn prominent (second rank) racer ought to be favoured, though late runners should also get a shot at the pot.

With Dr Red Eye, Ifwecan, and Third Time Lucky in the field, this will most definitely be a burn up from the start.

The one I'm most drawn to is VOLUNTEER POINT, drawn in box one. A lightly raced three year old, she gets weight for age from her elders and is off a handy mark if the softer turf ekes any improvement. By Footstepsinthesand out of a Pivotal mare, there are grounds (excuse the pun) for optimism, and for one like her that has just looked to lack a gear change this anticipated rapid race might play into her slightly one-paced hooves.

If she can hold a position through fast early fractions, I'd be hopeful for her, and I've taken the 14/1 (non-BOG) with Ladbrokes each way. She's as short as 8/1 elsewhere and that looks nearer the mark.

On the other side of the coin, blazing speed could set up for a deep closer, and that might be the ostensibly horribly drawn Rembrandt. Trained by Richard Hannon, this fellow has backed up three fair maiden runs with three fair handicap runs, and the feeling remains we have yet to see the best of him. He's another taking his first steps on softer than good, and another for whom that might elicit improvement. I'm far from confident but, at 16/1, it could be worth just better than a saver for connections who generally have plenty of options for races at Glorious Goodwood.

Glorious, And Inglorious, Declarations…

It really is bloody glorious...

It really is bloody glorious...

Last week was Glorious Goodwood, arguably the finest flat race festival of them all, in terms of ambience if not race track quality. It was also a week that brought into sharp focus (again) the issue of non-runners. I have a few opinions (shock!) on both, and they form the backbone of today's post.

Let's begin with the good news, and Glorious Goodwood seems to be an annual gift from the sporting gods to horse racing fans and administrators alike. It is, quite simply, the way big summer festival meetings should be: very good, competitive horse racing (in the main); a beautiful setting; and, a relaxed informal environment from which to drink it all in, both literally and metaphorically.

I was lucky enough to be there from Wednesday to Friday, first as a Race Maker and latterly as a merry maker, and I can say unequivocally that both were tremendous fun. But before my personal experiences of the week, let's consider what it is that makes this such a special meeting.

After all, the racing is nowhere near as high class as Royal Ascot, Champions Day, or either of the Epsom and Newmarket Classic meetings. It's probably not even as good as York's Ebor meeting. But that rather misses the point.

Goodwood's triumph is to recognise its place in the racing calendar - chronologically and hierarchically - and to respond accordingly. It has had its stars, let us not forget: Giant's Causeway, Rock Of Gibraltar, Henrythenavigator, Rip van Winkle, Canford Cliffs, the mighty Frankel twice, Toronado and Kingman have all graced the feature race, the Sussex Stakes, with electric performances of varying current.

KIngman after his Sussex Stakes 'racecourse gallop'...

KIngman after his 'racecourse gallop'...

But their average SP of 11/10 confesses to the combination of the loaded dice that is 'weight for age' in this event - all bar freaky Frankel second time around were three year olds beating up older horses in receipt of weight - and the lack of depth in the field generally.

No matter, for any fan of the sport that has seen the likes of Frankel, Kingman or Canford Cliffs accelerate through the last furlong to put the race to bed has witnessed the purest essence of flat racing. Despite Wednesday's renewal of the annual feature being akin to a racecourse gallop, the manner with which Kingman initially took a moment to find stride and then barrelled his way down the track to score by a length, was striking. It was a snapshot of brilliance, and one of many pictures lodged in the memory of a fine... no, a Glorious... week.

So the actual racing plays its part, right enough, but the elements which really emphasize Goodwood's superiority in the summer festival stakes are twofold, one natural and the other entirely man-made.

The natural element is, of course, the unique unmatched setting: the Goodwood estate is a throwback to Jeeves and Wooster days, with the House and its grounds impeccably tended. That time warp bus/car journey to the course is a mere scenic amuse bouche for the feast which meets the eyes once inside.

Climb to the top of the Gordon Enclosure Stand (note, this is the mid-range ticket, not the most expensive, a microcosm of precisely why Goodwood works so well), and you have your pick of panoramas via a perspex panel.

Face the front, and you'll see the verdant helter skelter of the race track in the foreground. Beyond, and enveloping the course left and right as well, are rolling hills, trees, hay bails: things that rarely tickle the optics of us city folk.

Turn around and place your nose to the perspex - it might be glass actually, can't quite remember as it wasn't the end point of my focus - and you have a view across Chichester to the coast. A Glorious view, whichever way you look at it, quite literally.

One of the few uniforms on display...

One of the few uniforms on display... Top men!

And then there's the man-made contribution. At a time when racecourses - those that host flat racing particularly - have made bad press for their 'fashion police', nay uniform stasi, Goodwood adopts a more relaxed approach.

Sure, if you want to go in the Richmond Enclosure, gents are required to wear a suit, collar and tie. The uniform here is more pyjamas than morning suit, however, with beige or cream crumpled linen accoutred by a standard issue light blue shirt and, generally, a red tie. The number is topped in a very real sense by the ubiquitous panama hat. This is the 'posh' enclosure, and the dress code is so unimposing as to be appealing to someone for whom any kind of sartorial edict is mildly offensive.

Goodwood are essentially insisting that their members dress comfortably. Compare that to the top hat and tails dysfunction of Royal Ascot or Epsom Derby day.

Elsewhere, it's come as you are, and nobody really worries too much about it. Tailored shorts cavort happily with smart denim and the suits. Ladies love to dress up (and so, I'm told, do some fellas), and they're here too, in their thousands, especially on Thursday.

It was busy on Thursday, and on Friday, and on Saturday. The bars were doing good trade, but you don't get scraps here, at least not that I've noticed. The security is there, and it is generally well placed, well drilled, and understatedly effective. I don't think it's G4S...

There are bands: a marching band playing songs you've heard of and that were written in the last fifty years; a mobile steel drum trio; an oompah band that can turn their respective hands to fidget-forcing favourites, and who play on for a good hour after racing. Yes, Royal Ascot has its 'proms' after the last, but it's all a bit stuffy next to this.

Nick Luck suggested in a tweet after the end of the five day festival that Glorious Goodwood was 'God's own racecourse' and, while that's a bit cliché, you knew what he meant.

**

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On the Wednesday and Thursday, I was joining a merry band of enthusiasts collectively known as Race Makers. The concept will be familiar: it's unashamedly 'borrowed' from the Olympics' Games Makers who did so much to ensure the smooth running and pleasant experience of/for games goers.

Race Makers similarly have the task of supporting and assisting the many novice racegoers who attend the bigger meetings. Their role is to smile, to guide, to offer an inside line. Not on the racing you understand, at least not necessarily; but rather on the best place to get a drink without waiting half an hour; the best spot to watch the horses in the paddock; what to actually look for when watching the horses in the paddock; how to read the racecard; where to buy a hat, a programme, a hot dog; and, of course, how to make a bet.

Chutney and the 'Novices': good name for a band...

Chutney and the 'Novices': good name for a band...

On Wednesday I teamed up with Dave Massey, a chap I know from Uttoxeter Twitterati days, and from Twitter, and as one half of the fledgling tipping service, Racing Consultants. Dave is steeped in racing - mainly jumps it should be said, but he didn't seem unduly 'out of water' on a fenceless flat track. He'd Race Maked... Race Made... Made Races... whatever... on the opening day and was, therefore, a grizzled veteran next to my nervous newbie.

Here's 'Chutney Dave' with three lads playing at being novices: they're actually some very clued in and enthusiastic racing fans who hang out on twitter under the monickers @lukeelder13 @mytentoryours and @adamwebb121 - incidentally, Dave is there too as @tenembassy - they're all worth a look if you use the old tweeter...

He's excellent company is Dave, never more than a sentence from a wise crack, or a 'do you know who that is?' interjection. We strolled down to the two furlong pole, decked out in our snazzy black and white Race Maker polo shirts and, naturally, the de facto panama titfer. Then we strolled back, first stopping to chat to people and make sure they knew all they needed to; and then being stopped by people who wanted to chat or didn't know all they needed to.

That's the thing with the Race Makers: it's organic and so people don't necessarily immediately know who you are, or what you do. But, when they catch on, they're not backwards in coming forwards.

I played second fiddle to Dave on Wednesday but, coming on markedly for the run, was happy to share parity with my Race Making buddy, Graham Wilkinson, on Thursday. Graham, like Dave, knows a lot about racing. A heck of a lot. And so we ambled up to the quarter mile pole once more and, this time, we decided we'd work through every table back to the half furlong marker, and the change of enclosures.

Between us, we probably spoke to a hundred people sat at forty tables. The time from 11am to 1pm whistled by in the chatter of so many conversations. Those who knew what they were doing offered and requested tips; those who didn't asked about reading the racecards, where the loos were, what each way meant, why the odds were different on different boards, and so on.

It was great fun. And it added value. Not just to the racegoers, but to the Race Makers too. To me. And Dave. And Graham. And all the other guys and girls who gave of their time to give something back to a sport they love and, in so doing, received more in return than they probably expected.

John Hanley, who heads the team, is as genial and knowledgeable a racing nut as you could wish to meet. He's a real 'people person', which is obviously ideal for his role. He spent time working out the best pairings. He spent time (over a pint, granted) asking me for my thoughts on the Race Makers concept. He knows it works, but he wants to make it even better. That's a great sign.

John thinks Race Makers should be rolled out more widely than just the major racing festivals and, based on my experiences with novice racegoers, I agree. But I think there's a time and a place for them. They'd be ideal at Sunday 'Family Fun Day' meetings, for instance, but pretty pointless at Monday Southwell cards, where you only go if you know how to bet, and you want to bet.

Another place they'd be ideal, in my view at least, is the big concert nights. Here you have a crowd convened on a racecourse, and the vast majority of them are not even there for the racing. Whilst the traditionalists moan about the invasion, this is such a MASSIVE opportunity for the sport to engage a new demographic. And what are they doing to optimise this opportunity? *drums fingers* *checks nails* *scratches behind* *whistles into the wind*

It's plain stupid when you think about it. 22,000 guys and girls in Newmarket to watch Tom Jones last Friday night. A completely arbitrary guess would be that maybe 15,000 of them had little or no previous interest/experience of horse racing at the track. Seriously, how short-sighted can the beaks be?! (The same beaks who are bemoaning generally dwindling attendances at HQ).

These are the places where, for me, Race Makers could make an enormous difference. Though it would mean the racecourses would have to allow Race Makers in for free, and let them watch the concert... which brings me on to my next point.

**

Tony Stafford, our venerable veteran Sunday correspondent, expressed his dismay at the racecourse management of Newmarket yesterday. Their 'crime'? Failing to honour entry to the track for owners of a horse that had been declared a non-runner. In this case, the horse was unsuited by the ground. But Newmarket's problem stems from a paranoia that owners are abusing the system to get free tickets for concerts and, heavens to betsy, a free meal ticket.

To clarify, these are the same owners that pay four figure sums each month to keep a horse in training, the vast majority of whom have more chance of winning the lottery than turning a profit on their ownership forays. A free dinner? And a concert ticket? Not on your nelly, my old china...

Now, there may very well be a nefarious undertone to a subset of the withdrawals. While that's not for me to investigate, it does raise two fairly simple candidate solutions to a problem which is actually far broader than Newmarket on a music Friday, and which is causing consternation to a deeper population than merely racecourse managements.

So what to do with a problem like non-runners? There is a lobby which suggests that the non-runner problem arose out of the 2006 decision to move from 24 hour to 48 hour declarations. That lobby contends that in requiring connections to 'finally' decide on running plans two days ahead of time, the vagaries of the British weather system come in to play, as does the scope for twice as many health issues to occur as with a 24 hour declaration.

Whilst clearly there must be some truth to that line of reasoning, it's not the nub of the issue. The cause of that is the ability for trainers to withdraw runners on a 'self-certificate'. Furthermore, it is the lack of control over the number of times a horse may be withdrawn, or a trainer may use his veto right. This has plainly led to abuse and, ultimately, to smaller field sizes, less attractive 'product', and lower betting turnover.

My - glaringly obvious, granted - solutions then are as follows:

1. Racecourses should introduce - and make owners aware of - a clear policy with regards to the hospitality rights extended to those whose horses fail to run on a self-certification basis. If a horse is withdrawn under vet's advice, or at the start, or due to a marked change in the going - say two going differentials - from the time of declaration and prior to racing, then in my view, the hospitality should be honoured.

Of course, the fine points are for the courses to establish, but the key is that a) they should establish clear rules, and b) they should communicate them. (Many tracks mail owners with entries to tell them about parking etc, so this can be very easily centrally administered).

2. Rules governing self-certification should be tightened ASAP. Self-certification was introduced in March 2008, and the number of absentees has rocketed in the six years since then. The idea is a good one, and it was introduced in good faith. But, as with most things, as soon as a loophole is discovered it gets used/abused. Currently, the only restriction on a withdrawn horse is that it cannot race within a six day period of the initial race date.

There are some trainers, and some horses, who persistently fail to run. If a horse is injured, or the going changes, or other unforeseen events occur (e.g. horsebox breaks down), then a self-certification is not normally required. This covers most eventualities, so the rise and rise of the self-certificate is more like self-mutilation to the sport, and it requires fairly urgent triage.

Changes could be straightforward to introduce. How about no more than two self-certificates for a horse within a one year period? Or perhaps an additional week of ineligibility for each self-certificate? Remember that in most cases, there are other ways to demonstrate the need to withdraw a horse, when that is a legitimate course of action.

Trainers who self-certify the absence of more than 5% of their entries (percentage is arbitrary and could well be wrong, principle holds) to receive a written warning as to their conduct, and notification that their right to self-certify may be withdrawn. Again, the details are for the authorities to fathom, but the principle is simple, egalitarian, and workable. I really don't know why this issue still hasn't been sorted (though I do know the BHA are all too aware - and frustrated - by it).

**

And finally, well done to Gary Johnson, aka ionianson, whose staggering £1,382.63 profit haul secured July's Tipping League first prize. Alfieboy, Elected, and Andynic all scored a profit of £750 or more, but in truth Gary was a furlong clear last month, and will be £100 in cash richer as soon as the postman rings his bell.

August's competition is underway. It's totally free to enter, and you could be getting some beer/betting/something else more practical tokens this time next month.

Click here to enter, or simply use the 'TIP' icon next to the horse you fancy on the geegeez racecards, and follow the prompts. Good luck!

**

What did you make of Glorious Goodwood? Enjoy it? Back any winners? And how about non-runners? Any thoughts on what to do about that? Leave a comment and let us know - I love to hear your thoughts, and so do others, as they're often/generally more well reasoned than mine! 😉

10 Races To Raise The Roof This Week

Galway's Festival will require a lot of stamina...

Galway's Festival will require a lot of stamina...

It's one of my favourite racing weeks of the year. We are blessed with both quality and quantity, on both sides of the Irish Sea, and shenanigans can be expected both on the track and off it!

I am of course referring to the week where Glorious Goodwood's glamour and glitz clashes with Uproarious Galway's clamour and kitsch.

If that seems a little unfair on the party of all racing party's in the far west of Ireland, then forgive a laboured scribe in his quest for an elegant rhyming couplet.

Between the pair of them, Galway and Goodwood will race through twelve days, an overlap of which compresses the action into one week. This week. And what a compression it is: 81 races will be won and lost by supper time next Sunday.

Stories will be written, heroes will be worshipped, and punting fortunes will be won and lost.

Allow me, in the midst of this triumph largely of quantity over quality, to point to ten contests which have the capacity and the class to elevate themselves above the throng.

Tuesday

Lennox Stakes

The third race on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood, the Lennox Stakes is a Group 2 event that sees a clash of the generations, and one in which the three-year-old contingent have had the upper hand in recent seasons. Indeed, from just 30% of the runners since the race was introduced in 2000, the vintage crop have nabbed half of the fourteen renewals. Moreover, blindly backing them turned a profit.

This year, just two of the ten strong field are aged three, but they include likely favourite, Toormore. Richard Hannon's Group 1-winning juvenile has thus far fallen a step short of matching those endeavours in 2014. Still, the year is young, and the step back to seven furlongs - and drop in class - may fit the bill for Middleham Park Racing's finest.

He'll meet stiff opposition from the likes of Johnny G's Gregorian, last year's winner Garswood, and the German raider, Amarillo; and this looks a heat set to ignite the atmosphere across a most beautiful of sporting theatres.

Topaz Mile

Three and a half hours later, and 543 driving/ferrying miles northwest of that early skirmish on the downs, Galway will unleash its first big pot of the week. The Galway guys and gals will already be ten races into their session by this point, with only sporadic outbreaks of quality displayed thereto.

But this is where it gets interesting. A flat handicap over - funnily enough - not a mile, but a mile and half a furlong, the Topaz Mile is a race where pace and position have almost as much bearing on the outcome as weight and class. If you think I'm being pedantic by referencing the half a furlong, watch the leader paddling and screaming for the line after they've turned for home!

In a race generally contested by sixteen-plus runners, a low draw, and the tactical speed to use it, has been a sizeable advantage. Eight winners since 2000 were drawn six or lower, and raced no further back than mid-division.

Almost all of the big field flat handicaps at Galway have hard luck stories, such is the configuration of this endearingly quirky track, but if you can find a prominent racer drawn low you at least eliminate a part of the scope for in-running carnage.

Wednesday

Sussex Stakes

Ah, the good stuff. Ignoring all the faux hooplah about duels on the Downs and the like, assuming the key protagonists rock up, this will be the best quality race of the week. Of many a week.

Kingman is the star draw, but the dual Group 1 winner is still not a confirmed runner. With the going currently good, good to firm in places, and Kingman a winner from soft/heavy through to good/firm, it's unclear (to me at least) what exactly the turf issue is, but there's no such haziness about the magnitude of the disappointment should Juddmonte's juggernaut sidestep the Sussex for the Jacques le Marois.

Against him, assuming he runs, are the Qatari boys' Olympic Glory and Toronado, both of which are 'jocked up' at time of writing; Sir Michael Stoute's rapidly improving filly, Integral (In-tuh-gruel, unless you're American in which case In-teg-rule is gratingly acceptable); and any one of a trio of Ballydoyle bullets, where War Command could be the most explosive. Godolphin don't want to miss this party either, and they could send Outstrip into combat.

If Kingman stands his ground, he's expected to win (4/6 on the current boards), and three year olds do have a belting record. But against the massed ranks of Qatar, Dubai and, erm, Kildare, he'll need to bring his A game. No wonder Prince Khalid is mulling his options.

Should they all stand, never mind a Duel on the Downs, we could have a Celebrity Death Match on our hands... Bring it!

Galway Plate

Pond-hopping once more for the evening shift, and a change of gear entirely is in the offing for the Galway Plate, a 22-runner two-and-three-quarter mile handicap chase, for a juicy prize.

Expect JP McManus to set both commentator and punters alike a merry cap identification test - he currently has fifteen of the 52 declarations - and with three winners in the last four years, we can probably expect at least one of those caps to appear in the photography at the business end.

Testament to the competitive nature of this shemozzle is the fact that Messrs. Weld and Mullins (WP) have just five wins between them since 1988. Willie, Irish racing's monopolist trainer, has but one of that quintet, and he'd be far less likely to ready one for Galway than Dermot, the Master of Rosewell House. And yet even he of the 27 (TWENTY-SEVEN) Leading Trainer awards at the Galway Festival hasn't bagged this brute since 2005, when Ansar doubled up on his win the previous year.

Look to recent form (1st or 2nd last time out won twelve of the last seventeen), youth (six and seven year olds have won ten since 1997, from just 29% of the runners), and those towards the bottom end of the handicap. And good luck in picking out your cap!

Thursday

Goodwood Cup

As with Royal Ascot, the big race of the week from a historical perspective has long since ceased to be the major class race, or the major betting race. No matter, for the Goodwood Cup is almost always a great race, and often offers value to punters smart enough to decipher its form book code.

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At this stage, the venerable veterans (relatively, at least), Cavalryman and last year's winner, Brown Panther, head the ratings. They've mopped up some good prizes this season, with the former grabbing Group 2 glory the last day, and the latter snaffling a brace of Group 3's on terra softer.

But all eyes will be on HRH's Estimate if she shows up, and hopes will be that she's over her accidental (presumably) bout of morphine-induced squiffiness. In truth, it looks for all the world like a legitimate - and most unfortunate - case of smoke without fire; so let's hope she runs - and runs well - and that the other matter is left to the forensic mobs to unravel, rather than the conspiracy theorists.

There are others in the entries - notably, Eye Of The Storm, perhaps - that can sway the verdict too in what should be a typically exciting two miler for the Cup.

Galway Hurdle

Thursday is the turn of the hurdlers to take centre stage, for a relative sprint at the minimum worth €150,000 to the winner. Even at the current exchange rate that's about two hundred quid so well worth getting. (Irish lads, I'm joking! 😉 )

The Welds, Mullins and Hendersons will all be glad that Michael Winters isn't showing up this year, because 'who he?' has nicked the last two renewals of this valuable handicap, and with different horses to boot. There will be no Missunited this year, and no Rebel Fitz either. That's largely because most winners, that pair included, go on to bigger and better things.

So the question to ask when looking at this punting minefield, is "Which horse looks most likely to go on to bigger and better things?"

Unsurprisingly, recent progressive form is a core factor in the profile of Galway Hurdle winners, and ten of the last sixteen winners won or ran up last time. Of course, that won't be enough to either isolate the winner or make a profit, but it's a start.

Ally to that the strength of the domestic runners - just one British raider, subsequent Champion Hurdle second, Overturn, has spoiled the local party in the last two decades - and a leaning towards youth once more (five to seven year olds have won the last nine, and occupied 28 of the 36 place positions in that time). The Gigginstown pair, The Game Changer and Desertmore Stream, may be interesting in that context, granted a run.

Friday

Betfred Mile

There are higher class races on Friday's Glorious Goodwood card, but there is nothing more likely to entice the punter than the Betfred Mile. Despite being a mile race - or perhaps because of it, given that the trip snakes around a tight bend - this event has a notorious draw bias.

To that end, in a field which is habitually a score deep, just three horses have overcome a berth of ten or more. A double digit draw is not quite terminal, but it's a death sentence with little chance of reprieve.

It's not enough merely to be gifted a single figure draw, though. No, a likely winner also needs the early toe to grab a position from which to optimize the good fortune of the post position tombola. Well drawn prominent racers will form a small subset of the field and have historically accounted for a majority of winners of this race.

Age, and its relationship with experience - and therefore the prospect of the 'capper catching on - has been material. Horses in their third year have the best recent winners-to-runners record (five from 54 since 1997, 9%). They're followed in somewhat linear fashion by four-year-olds (7 from 113, 6%) and five-year-olds (4 from 86, 5%). Six-year-olds continue the linearity with a sole victor from 38 starters (3%), and 44 older nags have failed to register since 1997.

Oh yes, and as with pretty much every single race at the Sussex track all week, pay close heed to the Johnston contenders. He's won this race thrice in the past five years, and didn't even have a runner in one of the other pair!

Guinness Handicap

The weekend starts here. At least, in most weeks it does. Naturally, at Galway in Festival week it starts on Monday. Which is to say the previous Friday. Jaysus, as the locals might say, it's a long way home for the faint-livered.

Friday is highlighted by the Guinness Handicap, a mile and half dodgem race. That is, of course, assuming you're not more drawn to the Love Shack Dolls, who will be playing live music all night. I'm imagining a hybrid of the B52's and the Pussy Cat Dolls, but I'm uncertain how that might manifest itself...

It's probably best for a keyboard-basher of my age and ignorance in such matters to focus on the fetlocks, and there be plenty declared here. Jim Bolger's entry is bulging with talent: he has four of the seven rated 100 or more, and it's safe to assume he'd be keen to win the race. The other trio of top-rated turfers all call Ballydoyle home.

And yet this has been a race for the little guy - relatively at least - and generally for those further down the rating lists. Friday night might be better spent with a pint in hand, rather than a betting slip. For those who insist on both, good luck in this one!

Saturday

Nassau Stakes

Although Galway still has two days of play left, it's the punting equivalent of trying to drink through a hangover in the hope that it makes you feel better. Funny, then, that a noteworthy proportion of attendees will be attempting a literal version of just that. And I wish them well with it.

Meanwhile, on the Downs, the ladies will be preparing to strut their Group 1 stuff. It's another of those lip-smacking clashes of the generations and, though Taghrooda won't be here (having won the King George a week prior), there are many to stir the loins of a top drawer stallion in due course.

This has been a most streaky race down the years. Sir Michael Stoute won it in 2002 with Islington. He then repeated the dose in 2003 and 2004 with Russian Rhythm and Favourable Terms. Then, in 2007/8, it was Aiden O'Brien's turn to back up, this time courtesy of Peeping Fawn and Halfway To Heaven. 2009 was Sir Henry's time to triumph, and the magnificent man sent out the magnificent mare, Midday, to a hat-trick of victories.

At the end of Midday's - and Sir Henry's - reign, it was Johnny G who took over as Master of the Nassau, and arguably as senior trainer in Newmarket (though Sir Michael may not quite concur). His Winsili was best in 2012 and The Fugue triumphed last year, all of which means that in the last dozen years only six different trainers have tasted Nassau glory.

Johnny G has retired The Fugue - still entered here - and Taghrooda won't run, as stated. But he still has three viable options in Sultanina, Pomology and Eastern Belle. The first two fought out the finish to the Lancashire Oaks, and have the requisite combination of stamina and class to go close in what should be a fitting cameo of class in the closing act of Goodwood's 2014 production.

Stewards' Cup

32red? What?! Yes, there's been a hullabaloo and hooplah about a name change for the Stewards' Cup. Well, it's all rather distasteful, isn't it? Let's just stick with the Stewards', shall we?

Whatever it's called, these remain the facts.

1. It's a six furlong handicap

2. It will be contested by not many less than thirty horses

3. It's a bloody hard race in which to find the winner

Those stats and trend boys (and girls) will tell you that, despite the numerical vastness of the cavalry charge, the numbers point to a clear profile type. I'm not sure whether to believe them or not but, in the absence of a better idea, these pointers might steer us in the right direction...

- Horses aged four to six have won all of the last 16 Stewards' Cups

- All of the last nine winners were rated 95+

That narrows the 144 current declarations down to 36 possible winners. Hey, you're welcome!

**

It's going to be a punishing endurance test this week, for sure. The smart punter will choose his battles and limit her intake of alcohol. For the rest of us, we'll just have to take our chances!

Good luck, and/or Sláinte.

Matt

A Glut of G’s on Geegeez…

Don't back a Giraffe at Galway or Goodwood!

Don't bet Giraffes at Galway/ Goodwood!

It's GG season here on geegeez. In fact, it's G/GG season. Perhaps even KG/G/GG season. Yes, the end of July and beginning of August sees a star-studded triptych of G-related race meetings, beginning this afternoon at, erm, Ascot.

Ascot's meeting, which runs to three days, is highlighted by the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, generally abbreviated to King George. Following on almost immediately from the King George meeting's closing furlongs on Sunday afternoon, is the marathon Galway Festival, which begins on Monday - and runs right through to next Sunday.

And, concertinaed 'twixt Galway's alpha and omega triumphs of quantity over quality, is the majestic mid-summer serenity that accompanies Glorious Goodwood, probably my favourite of all the summer race meetings.

Although we try to bring you deep insights into as many of the big meetings as possible, this confluence of Festivals has come at a tricky time for the workers at geegeez.

Essentially, Chris is off sunning himself in North Africa, leaving me to try not to mess up his fine work with Stat of the Day and Double Dutch. And, as if that wasn't a big enough stretch, I'm also undertaking Racemaker duties at Goodwood on Wednesday and Thursday next week, meaning I'll be at the track three days (drinking on Friday!).

The number of remaining hours into which I can cram race analysis and consequent scribbles are clearly numbered few. But I'll do my best to at least cover a couple of races a day from Goodwood, and at least one a day from Galway, especially as there are some very fat 'pot guarantees both sides of the Irish Sea next week.

Goodwood's placepot pools should get up and over £250,000 each day, and Galway will have some fat rollovers and guarantees to go at, as follows:

 

Date
Pick 6
Placepot
Jackpot
Monday 28th July €100,000 €30,000 €30,000
Tuesday 29th July €100,000 €30,000 €30,000
Wednesday 30th July €100,000 €30,000 €40,000
Thursday 31st July €100,000 €30,000 €40,000
Friday 1st August €100,000 €30,000 €30,000
Saturday 2nd August €100,000 €30,000 €15,000
Sunday 3rd August €100,000 €30,000 €15,000

 

The jackpot bet - find the winners of four races - is one I'm especially fond of, and will be playing it every day. If you're not already a Tote Ireland account holder, you can find out more about why they're a great value opportunity here.

Yum Yum!

Your first 30 days for just £1

I loves me some guaranteed 'pottage. 😉

**

You may also have noticed things have been a little quieter on geegeez this week. Far from resting on our laurels, we've been looking at what next for the site. We believe, and more importantly hundreds of you agree, that we've put together the best set of racecards and form tools available in Britain today.

I don't say that lightly, because I spend plenty of time rummaging around other sites for things we could maybe find inspiration in or improve upon.

And now we want to share this goodness more widely. So I've recruited someone to help me 'improve my conversion'. No, he's not a drop goal specialist, nor is he the lead missionary for the South Pacific Pentecostal Brotherhood. Rather, he knows about making nice web pages and faster websites, and that sort of jiggery-wizardry. (I, as you can tell, do not!)

On top of that, I'm in the early stages of planning a launch, where I'll be inviting readers of other websites to join Geegeez Gold. That should hopefully go ahead in September some time.

And on top of that, I've been working on the 'wish list' for the next phase - Phase 8 - of Geegeez Gold. I'll save the contents of that wishlist for after I've spoken to my techies and understood the cost implications for such bold aspirations! Suffice it to say, as always, we're innovating and raising the bar in terms of providing more/better information in a much easier to use way. That, I think, is what sets the Geegeez cards apart.

**

Now then, with regards to Chris' duties, he sloped off into the sun yesterday afternoon, so I've written Stat of the Day and Double Dutch today. Stat of the Day's race looks competitive, and my selection has drifted from its early price, meaning potentially more value (to my eye, at least).

Double Dutch, meanwhile, is on the cusp of a historical double. We started this concept 275 betting days ago and, in that time, we've recorded 99 winning doubles and 298 individual winners. That means that two race winners today would give us 100 winning doubles, and 300 individual winners... on the same day!

That would be pretty freaking awesome, as they say on the other shore of the pond, and I'm hopeful rather than confident of hitting the big Double Dutch double whammy. Whereas Stat of the Day is part of the Gold service, Double Dutch is free - and very pleasantly profitable. It's also a really fun little bet, in my opinion.

Double Dutch, like Stat of the Day, can be found from the Horse Racing Tips menu item (where else?!), or by clicking this link: Double Dutch

That's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow with a view on the big TV races. While it will be (extremely) difficult to repeat the big-priced hat-tricks of the past two Saturdays, that doesn't mean I won't be trying!

Matt

p.s. check out the racecards if you've not done so for a while. They really are something very useful indeed.

p.p.s. Can you help? I'm looking for a quality, reliable, consistent ratings service that might be receptive to a licensing deal. In plain English, do you know any great ratings people that I could speak to about publishing their numbers on geegeez cards? Please leave a comment and let me know! Thanks

Sat TV Trends – 3rd Aug 2013

Goodwood GGIt's the final day of the Glorious Goodwood Meeting, plus the C4 cameras are also taking in two races from Newmarket - Andy Newton's got all the key TV trends. Read more

A Glorious Week of Racing…

Dermot Weld: Tony's Galway Nemesis

Dermot Weld: a man to follow at Galway

It's one of the most glorious weeks of racing in the whole year, dear reader, whichever side of the Irish Sea you call home. Here in Blighty, we have a meeting so glorious they put it in the title: Glorious Goodwood; while over in the west of Ireland, they'll be going bonkers from today until Sunday, which is a very long time in bonkers mode.

In today's post, I've got news on Goodwood and Galway, plus a tipping league update, free money, and a time out for yours truly.

Let's start with Galway, seeing as that one begins today. As I've said, they're racing all week, and that's a heck of a lot of racing. As a consequence, it's difficult to sustain a high quality threshold across fifty-plus races. Galway, to its credit, doesn't try! It mixes flat with jumps, good with moderate, maidens and novices with handicaps with Graded action.

And, naturally, it's all stirred up in a dangerous cocktail of booze and craic (that's Irish craic, not to be confused with that other type of crack, which I'm given to understand is not nearly so much fun).

There's a few things to say about Galway. Firstly, if you're betting, take care not to get carried away in every race. You'll do well to get to Wednesday evening in such context! Note that the course has some quirks (understatement) and that a draw close to the rail and a prominent run style are useful. Also be aware that those trying to make all generally come unstuck.

If you want some more help, then let me point you in the way of two excellent information sources, one where you'll do some digging yourself, and one where it's all done for you.

Firstly, Tony Mac of Irish Big Race Trends has put together a killer system guide for Galway Festival 2013, and you can download that free of charge here:

http://horse-racing.ie/wp-content/uploads//Galway-7-Day-Secret-Winning-Trends.pdf

If trawling through the numbers isn't your thing, or even if it is, you might well be interested in Nicky Doyle's Galway advice service. The great thing about this is that it's rolled into his monthly service, which has been performing very well indeed since launch last December.

Last year, he found both the Galway Plate and the Galway Hurdle winners, as well as a couple of other 16/1 winners.

And, better still, you can join for a month for just £15. For that, you'll also get his Goodwood selections plus his regular service picks for the rest of the month.

It's excellent value, and you can read more about that here. (p.s. Nicky was one of my buisness mentoring students and has provided an excellent service to his clients, both in terms of selections/results, and in terms of customer service/support).

I'll be having a crack (craic?) at the Galway placepot this afternoon too, so stay tuned for that later on. There's a €40,000 guaranteed pool and it's likely to rise a good bit higher than that.

If you're following @geegeez_uk on twitter, you'll get a message as soon as that's posted. And you'll get a message as soon as any new content is posted here, including SotD, Daily Dabble, and all of the other regular goodies.

Click here to follow @geegeez_uk if you're not already.

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Next up, Glorious Goodwood. Yes, the best racecourse in the UK (in my humble opinion) hosts five days of flagship high summer racing and, for the first time in ages, I won't be able to get there. Pressures of writing full previews allied to the fact that I'll be out of the country for the last two days (rank bad planning!) have conspired against me, alas.

But no matter. I shall still be watching and punting from my office bunker here in darkest Hackney.

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I'll have the first day's preview in full for you tomorrow morning - or maybe late this evening (you'll hear it first if you're following geegeez on twitter!) - but in the meantime, here are a few pointers for you.

To get you familiar with the course constitution and draw bias - both really important at Goodwood - as well as the trainers to follow, check out this Glorious Goodwood 2013 preview post.

Secondly, if you want some expert opinions (and mine!) in a TV show format, sort of, then try this 45 minute show we recorded on Friday evening. If you have watched it, or you do watch it, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought. It's something that could be introduced to geegeez at some point if enough people find it interesting/entertaining enough...

Below is Friday's Glorious Goodwood TV preview show, featuring timeform, geegeez and Racing UK pundits.

There will of course be a placepot offering for this Glorious meeting every day from Tuesday to Thursday, and a few strong hints for Friday and Saturday too.

Finally, good old BetVictor have another excellent big meeting concession for punters. They'll refund all losing bets as a free bet if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite. If you fancy one, but fear the jolly, this is a very good offer, and well worth availing of. I make no apology for plugging Victor. They are consistently the most innovative of the major players at the big meetings, in my opinion.

********

Onto the tipping league, and it's been a truly excellent first month's full competition, with 191 players contesting the prizes (a share of £200 between the top three).

Trendy Guy has been having a fine tussle with Odiemax, and Sports Quiz is within hailing distance too. That trio, whose performance has been staggeringly good, is clear from kendot and the rest this month, and it would be an impressive finishing kick to see anyone else trouble the leaders.

Between the top two in the last week, they've nominated some incredible winners: 33/1 Galician, 20/1 Naledi, 20/1 Yeager, 20/1 Mr Dream Maker. And that's since last Wednesday!!!

Of course, it's hard to maintain winning picks at that level and price, but if you want to see what they're backing today, and you're a registered geegeez user, just click 'League', and 'July' and then click the tipster's name.

There will be a new monthly competition starting on Thursday (1st August), so why not get registered now and have a practice before Thursday?

You can register for the tipping league here.

Just one point to note: in order to to win a prize you'll need a BetVictor account, as they are the competition sponsors, bless 'em! For the reason highlighted above, you should get one anyway if you're betting at Goodwood. 😉

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Now then, as some of you will have noticed, there are a few things which registered users can get access to that unregistered users cannot. One of them is the tipping league, and another is our exclusive automation tool that takes the legwork out of getting bookie free bets.

As well as that, I've now published - and you may already have downloaded and read - a free report explaining how to turn bookie free bets into guaranteed cash, with zero risk. It's quite a straightforward method, once you get your head around it, and it could make you over £400 for just a few hours 'work'.

You can download the report without registering. But if you want us to help you with the faff of account opening, you'll need to register, which is a five minute job max, and will save you up to an hour of tedium subsequently.

The report download is here.

Click here to register.

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Phew! That's a whole lot of links to other stuff today. I hope at least some of it is useful to you, and adds value to your betting in what will be a test for even the most robust of wagering constitutions if you're playing both Goodwood and Galway.

Finally, I just want to remind you that I'll be taking a few days off from the end of this week until Monday week. You'll still find plenty on the site while I'm away, but there won't be any placepots and there won't be any waffles from me on a Monday or a Friday. (You may very well be relieved to read that!)

It does also mean that I'll only be providing an 'urgent' email service, as I'm trying to stick to one hour a day while I'm away (on pain of death from Mrs Matt).

Best of luck with your G G and G wagers.

Matt

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