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Racing Insights, 18th June 2021

Friday's free feature is the horses for courses report, whilst our daily free races of the day are...

  • 2.55 Down Royal
  • 3.40 Ascot
  • 4.05 Down Royal
  • 4.55 Limerick
  • 6.25 Newmarket
  • 8.40 Newmarket

And I think we'll look at my qualifiers from the horses for courses report for Friday...

...starting with Ballyhome in the 3.25 Market Rasen, a 7-runner, Class 3, 5yo+ handicap chase over 2m6½f on Good ground and here's his entry on the card...

He has also won a non-handicap event here taking his form at Market Rasen to read 21P112212 from which he is 3 from 6 at Class 3, 2 from 3 over fences, 2 from 2 at this trip and also 1 from at just half a furlong further and 3 from 7 on Good ground. His highest winning mark here has been 135 (-3lb), so at 140 (-5lb), he has 3lbs more to find.

Six of his eight races since the start of 2020 have been here at Market Rasen and he won twice over course and distance here last year. In his last race, six weeks ago, he was coming back from a 169-day absence but still ran a a creditable 2nd of 8 here over hurdles at a furlong longer than today's trip. Back down in distance and back over fences with the benefit of having had a run, I'd expect this 10yr old to be giving it his all as usual.

As this isn't a free race, I won't show the full Instant Expert, but trust me when I say his "line" is the best on offer in this race...

The pace stats for the race suggest you want to be at the head or close to the head of affairs, as it has proven tough to win from mid-division or worse...

..and the place stats would also back up that theory. Ballyhome, however, isn't a leader, he doesn't like to set the tempo of a race, as can be seen from this snippet below...

...which suggests Lord Bryan is likely to take the race on alone, as Ballyhome's pace position is actually the nearest to the expected leader, so I suppose technically that means Ballyhome then becomes prominent? Something for me to ponder, whilst I gather the details for our second race, the 5.40 Goodwood, a 10-runner, Class 4 apprentice Handicap for 4yo+ runners over 7f on good to firm ground and here's Sir Titan's card entry with some in-line stats...

That 3 wins and a place from 8 runs here reads 21100716 and includes 1 from at Class 4, 2 from 3 in May/June, 3 from 6 over this 7f C&D, 1 from 1 on good to firm and 3 from 5 off marks of 76 to 84, yet jockey Mollie Phillips takes 7lbs off an already interesting mark of 75 today.

He won here over C&D (C5, soft) at the end of August off a mark of 76, but then suffered a run of six defeats off higher marks before landing a Class 4 handicap over this trip at Kempton two starts ago off 73.

Things didn't quite go to plan last time out when ridden too strongly over a mile a Windsor and he faded badly late on and it is hoped that the drop back in trip will help him here. I'd also hope he gets a kinder ride from today's 7lb claimer. You might not have heard of Mollie Phillips, but she has ridden ten times in the last fortnight, winning three times and making the frame on another three occasions with some nice prices in there.

Once again, I'll only show you his entry from Instant Expert, but there was only one other horse (Colonel Whitehead) who had figures anywhere near these...

He's drawn in stall 2, which is as good a place as any from a win perspective and definitely somewhere to run from if you're looking at the place stats...

From a pace perspective, hold up horses have fared the best here and although it looks like leaders are second best, I'd treat that 14.29% record with some caution. It's only based on 14 runners, so it might not be entirely reliable. That said it's 2 more winners than mid-division runners have managed from more than twice as many attempts, so the takeaway from the pace stats is that mid-division is not the way to go...

As for his own pace, Sir Titan looks like fourth rank here, with his natural prominent racing style seeming to fit well with being drawn so low...

With Miquelon just outside him setting the pace, there's every chance he'll go with the leader, giving himself a great chance of at least making the frame. On paper, at least!

Summary

Two runners with good course records seemingly suited by conditions ahead of them and both in reasonably good form. In the Market Rasen contest, I've got Ballyhome at the top of my figures and I think that 7/2 looks quite generous, so I'll have a piece of that, whilst I also liked the look of Monty's Award at an interesting 10/1.

As for the Goodwood encounter, I've got Sir Titan as fourth best, but certainly not out of it. That said, if I've got it right, he's going to have to beat at least one of Quick Breath, Cold Stare or Flaming Spear to make the frame, but at 9/1, could well be worth a small E/W bet, especially if he can put enough early daylight between himself and those three. And depending on your own cut-off point for E/W betting, Cold Stare can be had at 8's here.

Racing Insights, 1st May 2021

Last piece of the week and the first of a new month sees the Trainer/Jockey Combo report as our free feature of the day, whilst our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 1.00 Goodwood
  • 2.05 Goodwood
  • 2.35 Goodwood
  • 3.20 Punchestown
  • 5.00 Doncaster
  • 7.10 Doncaster

It's not every day that there's a Class 1 race on the "free" list and although it's a small field and the bookies suggest it's a 2-horse race, it would be remiss of me not to tackle the 2.05 Goodwood, the 6-runner Conqueror Fillies Stakes (Fillies And Mares Listed race) for 3yo+ over 1m on Good To Firm ground worth a handy £22,684 to one of these...

I'll start with a reference to Andy Newton's TV Trends piece, where he tells us that...

9/9 – Didn’t win last time out
good for Agincourt, Amniarix, Illykato
8/9 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
good for Amniarix, Pholas, Illykato, Lilac Road
8/9 – Yet to race at the track
good for Amniarix, Pholas, Lilac Road
8/9 – Won 2 or more times before
good for all bar Illykato
7/9 – Winners from stalls 1 or 5
good for Agincourt, Lilac Road
7/9 – Horse from stall 1 placed in the top 3
good for Agincourt
7/9 – Favourites placed in the top 3
good for Lilac Road and/or Maamora
7/9 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
good for Agincourt, Amniarix, Lilac Road, Maamora
6/9 – Horse from stall 5 placed in the top 3
good for Lilac Road
6/9 – Aged 4 years-old
good for Amniarix, Pholas
6/9 – Unplaced last time out
good for Agincourt, Illykato
5/9 – Horse from stall 7 placed in the top 3
no stall 7 today
5/9 – Won over a mile before
good for all bar Illykato
4/9 – Winners from stall 1
good for Agincourt
3/9 – Ran a Newmarket last time out
no qualifiers here
2/9 – Winning favourites
good for Lilac Road and/or Maamora

The average winning SP in the last 9 runnings is 13/2, which would only really apply to Pholas and rank outsider Illykato.

Agincourt hasn't won a race since landing a Listed contest at Newmarket in late September 2019 and although this 6 yr old mare got within a head of Nazeef in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Ascot last June, she has been well beaten in three runs since and hasn't been seen for nine months and I think she'll struggle here. That said, her trainer, David O'Meara is 5 from 15 here over the last year.

Amniarix was third (beaten by less than 3L) in a Listed contest at Kempton less than four weeks ago, staying on well to grab a place. That took her A/W record to 3 wins and 2 places from 5 starts, but she's unproven/untested/unexposed on turf after just one novice outing last summer. She's not well weighted based on her handicap mark of 98 and whilst she clearly has talent, I think she might just fall short again here.

Maamora will be popular amongst punters after winning her last three UK starts. She ended her 2019 campaign with narrow wins over a mile at Sandown and Chelmsford, before being sent off to Sweden and Dubai for three Class 1 races. She returned from 6 months off the track to land a Group 3 race over a mile at Sandown last August and hasn't been seen since. That last race proves a lay-off won't necessarily stop her from winning, although it's a big ask here.

Pholas failed to make the frame in her first two career runs last August, which are still her only two efforts on turf. Since then, she has made 10 A/W starts and has put a decent run of results together this year with four wins and three places from eight runs. She won last time out over 7f at Lingfield off a career-high mark of 78 and she looks up against it here at the weights, needing a big career-best to get involved.

Illykato won a Class 5 maiden over 6f on her second start and was immediately propelled into Class 1 company, where she ran creditably in a couple of Group 3 races before going down by 8 lengths in a Group 1 contest. It was only after that race that she stepped up to 7 furlongs for the first time, when beaten by over 10 lengths on her seasonal reappearance. She's now tackling a mile for the first time, isn't particularly well or bad treated at the weights and is probably best left alone.

Lilac Road completes the line up and is best in at the weights. She has won two of her last four, including last time out at Kempton four weeks ago when defying a 6-month break to overturn a 4/11 favourite by 3.25 lengths over a mile. She was fourth in the Group 2 May Hills Stakes at Doncaster last September and was beaten by less than two lengths, but the form from that race doesn't seem to have worked out yet (0 from 7 at Class 1), but she is still only 3 yrs old and has potential to improve.

Instant Expert highlights the flat form in a nutshell and we've three good to firm winners in the field. Agincourt and Illykato have racked up several Class 1 defeats between them, whilst Maamora is well proven at the trip...

Just six runners can often mean a tactical affair, where draw and pace become of paramount importance. I looked at the draw stats for similar 4-6 runner contests and there doesn't seem to be huge bias, but there is a massive anomaly in the fact that stall 4 is 0 from 10. Stall 1 is 3 from 10 and stalls 5/6 combine to give 3 from 11, which backs up the trends data, but with both stalls 2 and 3 having a couple of wins, I have to say that the numbers for box 4 are just a freakish outlier.

With regard to pace, this type of race can easily be won from anywhere, but those racing prominently have suffered for trying too hard early on. Those setting the pace have done very well, but with four hold-up horses also winning, idling at the start won't automatically mean the game is up.

And if there's no huge draw bias and you can win from most running styles, it's therefore unsurprising that there are plenty of successful pace/draw combos...

...which is good for the sport itself if not necessarily for us punters trying to get an edge from the data. What it means is that if you can win from any draw or running style, then the best horses should win. Ah, if only life was that simple!

As always, we then overlay our runners onto the pace/draw heatmap as follows...

...where only Illykato looks disadvantaged. Agincourt would be better hanging back a little, whilst it looks like Lilac Road will set the pace. If Lilac Road does take it on, I fully expect Maamora to push on slightly to keep tabs and it could well become a shootout between the two market principles.

Summary

Lilac Road (2/1) and Maamora (5/2) head the market, as we pretty much knew from the start. I haven't found anything yet that says they shouldn't be the first two home either . My preference is for Maamora, despite her absence and the fact that Lilac Road is best in at the weights. She has gone well fresh before, this is a weaker race than she last faced and she's very consistent.

Of the rest, the bookies probably have it right here too with Amniarix.

It could well be a cracking/close contest and fingers crossed, I've got it right!

 

 

Racing Insights, 30th April 2021

Friday marks the end of April, the year is whizzing by now! Our feature of the day is the horses for courses report, whilst our free races of the day are as follows...

  • 2.20 Chepstow
  • 4.05 Musselburgh
  • 4.25 Goodwood
  • 5.35 Cheltenham
  • 6.00 Punchestown
  • 8.15 Cheltenham

And I think we'll head off to West Sussex, where I've noticed another of those tricky, tight 7-runner handicaps where several should have a chance of winning. On your cards, it's the 4.25 Goodwood, a Class 4, 4yo+, flat handicap over a testing 1m6f on good to firm ground that they'll be watering to keep it that way. Top prize here is £4,860 and it will go to one of...

We've no last time out winners and only Thai Terrier and Prince Imperial have won in their last four outings. The latter is the only class mover in the field dropping down two grades, whilst Solar Screen makes both a handicap debut and a yard debut for David Simcock, who I believe does well with Flat stayers (more on that shortly, if I've remembered that correctly).

Platitude is the only previous course and distance winner, but three others have at least won over this trip, no other course winners, mind. Four of the field have raced in the past four weeks, whilst the others have been absent for 6 months or more and Solar Screen & Zuba look well clear on the Geegeez ratings.

Thai Terrier carries top weight here, wears number 1 and will run from stall 1. He ended 2020 with a run of four runner-up finished over trips ranging from 1m4f to 2m0.5f before winning at Chelmsford over 2m in January. He hasn't been the same since after 5lb rise and has incurred defeats of 6L, 30L and 20L in three outings. He's down 3lbs here, but that's still higher than his last win and he wouldn't be an obvious winner for me, dropping back in trip.

Prince Imperial ended his last campaign by finishing 3rd over 1m3,5f at bath and then he won at the same track over today's 1m6f trip/class. He was gelded over the winter and looked like he needed the run at Kempton earlier this month, when beaten by seven lengths. In his defence, he was stepping up to Class 2 (back at C4 here) for the first time, tackling 2m for the first time and he'd never run at Kempton before.

Throw in a 4lb weight rise and a 173 day absence and you'd have to say he did well to get within 7 lengths. He's a real contender for me here, plus Frankel's offspring are 39/118 (33% SR, A/E 1.50) in Class 4 handicaps including 8 from 10 over 1m6f/1m6.5f.

Platitude won here at class/track/trip off a mark 22lbs higher than today. Sadly, that was a month shy of 3 years ago and he hasn't won any of 21 starts since and had a really poor season last time around and hasn't been seen of 201 days, but all is not lost! He has run well fresh in the past, he's now on his lowest mark ever and his best form has been here at Goodwood. Good to Firm is his preferred going and 1m6f is probably his optimum trip, whilst he is 2 from six over course and distance. He could actually go well here today, but he could also bomb out!

Orin Swift similarly comes off a long break and is also on a long losing run. It's 2 years to the day and a dozen races since he won at this class/trip at Nottingham off a mark just 1lb lower than today and he ran creditably in defeat last season. His problem seems to be that when he runs well, he narrowly fails and manages to find one or two just too good for him, whilst on a bad day, he gets beaten by a long distance. Either way, I won't be rushing to back him just yet.

Solar Screen is very lightly raced and was only seen once as a 2yr old when beaten by just under five lengths over a mile on soft ground at Newmarket (Class 2). He reappeared nine months later in a 4/5 length defeat as a runner-up over 1m4f at Doncaster and was 3rd of 10 last time out. Now returning from 258 days off track off a reasonably fair opening mark of 79 for a yard debut under David Simcock, I'd expect him to give a good account of himself.

The yard will have done the fitness work needed and they excel at this sort of contest with 16 winners from 57 (28% SR, A/E 1.52) with handicappers over 1m5f to 1m6.5f since the start of 2019, whilst from a breeding perspective, Golden Horn offspring are 46 from 147 (31.3% SR, A/E 1.31) beyond 1m3f.

Zuba signed off last season by finishing 3rd of 10 at Kempton over 1m4f in October, but has sharpened his fitness over the winter with three efforts over hurdles, the latest just 19 days ago when beaten by 8 lengths. Ability-wise, he has the potential to make the frame here, but his application on the Flat has often been found wanting and he has yet to win in this sphere after 11 starts.

Cry Wolf is probably the worst on show here, if I'm brutally honest. An overall record of 4 from 43 isn't brilliant, but take out his 4 from 26 on the A/W and his Flat/hurdles form stands at 0 wins and just 1 place from 17 attempts. He hasn't raced on turf since mid-August 2019 when last of 8, beaten by 33 lengths over 1m4f at Newbury and although 13 lbs lower here, I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar result.

At this point, there's only Cry Wolf that I'm ruling out of contention, but I do already like some more than others. So, I then turned to Instant Expert to look at how they'd all previously performed under today's conditions and if I'm honest, I didn't see much I didn't already know...

...but the place form gave more information to help us...

Not many are proven on ground this quick, but Platitude's historical numbers are good and Zuba looks like a nearly-there horse. Thai Terrier, Zuba and Orin Swift are regular placers at Class 4 and the latter seems to like it here at Goodwood, as does Platitude, who has struggled at the trip, though. Yet the most striking thing about Platitude is that mark of 80 : I'm torn between the "he's finished" thought and the line of reasoning that says he weighted to win. I'm not mentioned Frankels lad, Prince Imperial, because there's no much to go at, but he has done well.

Hopefully draw, pace and the pace/draw combo will clear things up in my mind? The draw stats are based on a small sample size and whilst not massively conclusive, they'd suggest stalls 2 to 5 might be the place to be...

The pace stats are a little clearer, however, and the consensus here that it's best to try and be in control and the ace yourself and set the fractions from the front...

...whilst from a place perspective, the further back you race, the harder it is to make the frame, as leaders have placed 46.1% of the time as opposed to the 21.4% for hold-up horses. And when we combine pace and draw together, we're told that the best combo is mid to high drawn leaders with a 33% record, whilst all other racing styles for high draws have performed poorly.

And when we look at our runners' past running styles and arrange them in draw order, we can overlay them onto that heat map for some indication of how it might all pan out.

Unfortunately, there's not a great deal of pace in the race, so this might be a falsely run affair. That said, Thai Terrier did set the pace last time out, orin Swift has been known to lead and Solar Screen has raced prominently in all three starts to date, so I'd expect them to take it on and I predict Zuba and Prince Imperial might "shift to the right a little" to not be too far off the pace.

Summary

A tight-looking interesting contest, even if it's not top quality. I don't really fancy either of Orin Swift and Cry Wolf, which narrows the field down to five for me. At this point, I think I know who I like most/least of the five, it's just the middle I'm struggling with. For me, Thai Terrier is the weakest of the five and the one I'd want to be with is the son of Frankel, Prince Imperial. He's currently 4/1 and I think that's a good price.

After that, I've got a struggle on my hands to separate Platitude, Solar Screen and Zuba. I think Solar Screen is a bit short at 9/4, but Zuba is as long as 16's in places. I've just got a sneaking suspicion that Platitude might nick second, though. At 7/2 or 4/1, he's not particularly attractive, so I'd only have him for forecast purposes. What I would suggest you consider is 12/1 e/w about Zuba with Betfred, as they're paying 3 places.

 

Stat of the Day, 30th July 2020

Wednesday's pick was...

2.45 Goodwood : Sardinia Sunset @ 9/2 BOG 6th at 4/1 (Took keen hold, tracked leaders, ridden over 1f out, faded inside final furlong) 

Thursday's pick runs in the...

1.10 Goodwood :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

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?

Electric Ladyland @ 9/2 BOG

...in a 9-runner, Class 3 Flat handicap for 3yo over 5f on Good ground worth £9,452 to the winner...

Why?...

Another crack at landing a Glorious Goodwood winner, but not quite at the same level as yesterday's contest, but every race has a winner so let's see what the racecard tells us at first glance......

So, briefly from above, a yard in form with a reasonable enough record at this track from a small number of runners and the yard also does well in sprints and also with LTO winners.

The horse looks like one of the speedier ones, according to the SR figures and whilst Hollie Doyle has no form icons by her name on the card, there's no doubting her talent and she tends to ride the Archie Watson horses well as I'll hope to highlight shortly.

But first, the horse herself, a 3 yr old filly, who has three wins and three places from her last seven starts and a good overall return of 5 wins from 14 so far, including of relevance today...

  • 5/12 at 5f, 5/8 at odds below 9/1 and 4/6 at Class 3-5 (but also has won at C2)
  • 2/5 in cheekpieces, 2/2 under Hollie Doyle's steering and 1/2 here at Goodwood
  • 1/2 on good ground and 1/2 over course and distance (also at Class 3)

And now, I'll finish off with a quick look at the afore-mentioned record of trainer & jockey together. In the context of this race, I'd tend to focus on the Watson / Doyle combination in Class 3-4 handicaps with runners sent off at 8/1 and shorter and doing so gives me 18 winners from 49 (36.7% SR) for 36pts profit at an ROI on 73.4%, including at play today...

  • 15/37 (40.5%) for 36.83pts (+99.6%) during the 6 months from May to October
  • 10/21 (47.6%) for 25.41pts (+121%) at 21-45 days since last run
  • 8/17 (47.1%) for 22.36pts (+131.5%) during May-Oct at 21-45dslr (*this looks like an MO)
  • 5/16 (31.25%) for 15.64pts (+9.7%) from female runners
  • 5/14 (35.7%) for 8.15pts (+58.2%) from LTO winners (better than the yard's overall LTO winners) 
  • 4/15 (26.7%) for 9.43pts (+62.9%) at Class 3
  • and 1/1 here at Goodwood from this horse's 6/1 win three starts ago

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Electric Ladyland @ 9/2 BOG as was widely available (inc at least a couple BOGs, whilst Bet365 were a standout 11/2 BOG!) at 6.20am Wednesday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 1.10 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

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

P.P.S. Please note I left for Greece on Monday 20/07 for two weeks to look at some hotels for my travel agency business and to get some R&R, so whilst I'll still be posting each day (except 04/08 when cover has been arranged), the timings may well be different to normal.

Stat of the Day, 29th July 2020

Tuesday's pick was...

2.00 Ayr : Mr Wagyu @ 3/1 BOG WON at 5/1 (Made virtually all, ridden inside final furlong, ran on well to win by 2.25 lengths) 

Wednesday's pick runs in the...

2.45 Goodwood :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

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?

Sardinia Sunset @ 9/2 BOG

...in the 10-runner, Group 3, Molecomb Stakes for 2yo over 5f on Good ground worth £22,684 to the winner...

Why?...

A rare foray into Class 1 racing for me/SotD today and as usual, the Geegeez racecard offers some obvious pointers...

...ie in-form trainer, jockey with a decent (albeit from a small sample size) record at the venue and an LTO winner who heads the Geegeez Speed ratings. I'd hope all of the above is pretty self-explanatory by now and is all covered in the excellent user guide that (a) you can find in your "My Geegeez" area and (b) we recommend you all read.

I'm also not going to go down the route of a big-race preview as others here on the Geegeez team are better placed to do that and I'd wager they already have 😉 (I don't read any previews until I've done my own thing!)

So, what can I tell you that you might not know, but could be of use framing today's selection?

How about Roger Varian's female LTO winners sent off at 2/1 and bigger on the Flat? Yes Chris, tell me about them! Well, since 2014, they are 23 from 132 (17.4% SR) for 105.98pts (+80.3% ROI) profit, including of relevance today...

  • 19/94 (20.2%) for 107.5pts (+114.4%) at 11-60 days since last run
  • 18/90 (20%) for 75.54pts (+83.9%) in 7-12 runner contests
  • 14/76 (18.4%) for 83.64pts (+110.1%) in non-handicaps
  • 12/69 (17.4%) for 78.11pts (+113.2%) at Class 1
  • 11/42 (26.2%) for 100.56pts (+239.4%) in races worth 21-40k
  • 8/23 (34.8%) for 86.98pts (+378.2%) at Group 3
  • 6/27 (22.2%) for 42.04pts (+155.7%) with 2 yr olds
  • 3/10 (30%) for 9.27pts (+92.7%) in July
  • and 2/4 (50%) for 8.1pts (+202.5%) here at Goodwood...

...whilst those racing in 7-12 runner, Class 1 non-handicaps worth £21-40k after a break of 16-60 days are 5 from 10 (50% SR) for 55.53pts (+555.3% ROI)...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Sardinia Sunset @ 9/2 BOG as was widely available (inc at least a couple BOGs) at 5.45am Wednesday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race...

...click here for the betting on the 2.45 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

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

P.P.S. Please note I left for Greece on Monday 20/07 for two weeks to look at some hotels for my travel agency business and to get some R&R, so whilst I'll still be posting each day (except 04/08 when cover has been arranged), the timings may well be different to normal.

Punting Angles: Goodwood Racecourse

With the Goodwood May festival upon us it seems as good a time as any to apply a little focus to the Sussex track, writes Jon Shenton. The hope is we'll discover a few snippets of info along the way to boost our chances of a profit at the course over the rest of the summer and beyond.

Racing has been an integral part of Goodwood history since 1802. The track is synonymous with the Glorious Goodwood festival with its three Group 1 races taking a prominent position in the racing calendar. There’s much more to racing at the course than that shiny centrepiece, however, and there are plenty of other meetings and notable races to enjoy throughout the flat season.

As usual, let’s start with the training performances at the track.

Goodwood trainers

The table below shows the trainers who have high-quality records at Goodwood. The data within relate to runners with a maximum SP of 20/1, and are sorted by descending A/E and include all races from 2012 onwards. To qualify the yard must have had a minimum of 50 runners during the period.

 

For those of you who have been following these articles over the recent past, you may remember the Mark Johnston editions. I don’t want to trample over old ground but suffice to say Johnston handicappers who have had a recent run (last 25 days) are a serious proposition. Whilst this angle wasn’t as lucrative in 2018 as previous years the performance has been consistently impressive over time. Those are horses to keep on your side. A link to that article is here.

The other notable name to take from the trainer table is William Haggas. It’s the Impact Value of 2.52 which immediately draws the eye, especially on what is a healthy relative volume of runners. As you might expect with stats such as these there is a general all-round excellence contained within.  The only significant and justifiable enhancement I could establish is associated to the age restrictions of races.

The data show, amongst other things, that his record with 2yo's and in 4yo+ races is perfectly respectable. It isn’t, however, quite as sharp as the races containing horses aged 3. It’s low volume stuff though, with the place performance consistent across all  groupings indicating that I might be looking for something that is not there. As a result, I’m not convinced that there is an angle beyond keeping Haggas horses firmly in your cross-hairs at Goodwood.

Moving on, those yards which currently have less than desirable records at the track we get the following picture:

I was very surprised that Saeed bin Suroor is top (or bottom) of the pile with an A/E of just 0.52. Messrs Fahey, Varian, Hannon and Balding are all on the list too with Fahey’s runners returning a strike rate of a meagre 6.6%. Perhaps these yards are too proficient to stay on this cold list indefinitely and the cream will rise to the top in due course. Here and now, though, the numbers demand we proceed with caution.

To complete the trainer view, the table below contains the best trainers (in terms of A/E) for Goodwood during the month of May, perhaps offering a couple of clues for the next few days. Not that I’d advise anyone to back runners from these yards blindly but there are some impressive numbers in here, Roger Charlton most notably.  That said, there is a danger of the data reverting towards the mean based on such small volumes.

 

 

Jockeys

In terms of the pilots, the data below show all active riders with an A/E of greater than 1.00. William Buick probably has the stand-out record. Again, all round excellence means dedicated deeper focus angles are difficult to find.

The deadly duo of Norton and Fanning have a very close association to the Goodwood-friendly Johnston yard. Therefore, it would be reasonably logical to assume that their records could be attributable to the trainer connection. The intel below shows that whilst that is undoubtedly true, when they are jocked up on rides for other trainer, performance remains largely in line.

 

Whilst this may be of limited interest in isolation, I think it may lead towards a question of pace. In general, Fanning and Norton are considered to be enterprising riders at the front of a race. Perhaps they prosper at the track irrespective of who is employing them because of their propensity to effectively judge pace from the front? More on that shortly.

 

Straight track pointers

As the course map below illustrates, Goodwood has a complex array of starting points, routes and undulations.  The least confusing element is perhaps the confirmation on the map that there is a straight track for races up to 6 furlongs in distance.

 

Before searching for clues on how best to tackle the straight course, it must be noted that analysing the factors of pace and draw (like I’m going to here) in a broad way is a challenge. There are several variables that need due consideration, field size and ground conditions being the primary drivers of variance in determining how the race unfolds from a pace and draw perspective.

Fields here can range from 2 to 20-something, and underfoot conditions obviously can vary meaning that many multiple permutations can exist. All the same, there is merit in attempting to decode the data.

 

Draw

First let's look at the draw.

Using the draw analyser tool in Geegeez Gold the table below shows the performance of horses, by draw segment and based on the number of runners in the race, using Impact Value. I’ve only analysed races with six or more runners and I've used the actual drawn position (i.e. accounting for the effect of non-runners) rather than the race card drawn number.

 

The data covers all race ground from Firm through to Soft.  As noted in the above paragraph going conditions can have a significant impact on draw stats. However, in the case of Goodwood it’s fair to assert that the numbers on display are reasonably representative of the whole spectrum of ground challenges faced by the animals.

Here is a graphical representation of the very same data.

 

I include this as I think it illustrates a clear picture: horses that are drawn in lower or middle stalls are far more likely to prevail than horses drawn in high stall numbers on average. This applies to all nearly all field sizes (apart from arguably in 8-10 runner fields where the delta appears marginal) and to both 5- and 6-furlong distances.

The red line (representing those animals with a high draw) deteriorates the larger the field in general terms, especially if the race comprises of 11 or more participants.

The highest drawn are stationed on the stand side rail, nearest the cameras, the numbers thus progressively moving lower towards the centre and beyond to the far side. Racing usually develops between the middle and that stand side rail as a few horses generally tack across in that direction.

A rail is often an asset to have nearby but for this track it appears to be far from the case. Let’s complement this with a sprinkling of pace data using the Pace Analyser tool in Geegeez Gold.

The table below is based on the same conditions as the draw data above:

 

It is perhaps unsurprising that being on the speed early is an advantage over the sprint distances.

Putting both pace and draw together you’d expect a low/middle draw with a prominent or front running run style to be optimal. We can validate this by checking the draw/pace heat map (in Geegeez' Draw Analyser).

This picture covers  5- and 6-furlong races, on Firm through to Soft where there is a field size of 9 through to 12.

Interestingly, it appears as though a high draw is acceptable if the horse can zip out of the gates and secure an early lead. It could be claimed, using this data, that pace is of more importance than draw. High drawn horses who get to the front are 1.43 times more likely to win than the average in spite of the ostensibly challenging stall position.

That makes sense: racing room can be at a premium at Goodwood and it’s very feasible that horses get boxed in, especially in a big field. Those high drawn animals can have nowhere to go if horses congregate and the race develops on or around that rail or side of the track. The jockeys starting their journey from the low and middle numbered stalls should have more options to avoid trouble in running; unless of course the field sizes are so large that the low numbered stalls are situated on the far side rail as in, for example, the Stewards' Cup.

A heat map taking account of field sizes of 14 or more confirms the thinking:

 

In large fields even prominent racers struggle to get the run of the race from a high stall position, probably due to the relative lack of options in running. Horses drawn low retain a degree of flexibility in how they approach the race and can win from off the pace. Now all that remains is to find the right horse that this might apply to on race day!

 

Round course and longer distances

The 7-furlong trip has just shy of a quarter of a mile from the stalls to a tight right-hand bend into the straight. Most races develop on the far rail, the opposite to the straight track races.

Again, early speed holds sway. Attaining good track position at the bend is clearly of primary importance. Evaluating the draw for the trip over seven using the graphical format (below) shows the significance of stall position.

Whilst it’s reasonable to say that low draws generally have an advantage it only appears to become a concerted one in double digit field sizes. In these larger fields low drawn speed merchants around the bend are very much of primary interest!

In smaller fields pace is still an advantage but, naturally enough, draw appears to be less relevant. Like the straight course, high draws are perfectly fine if you think your horse can get to the front early and control the fractions. In basic terms, if you can pick the leader early in the race consistently over seven furlongs at Goodwood you will have a strong hand to play over time. The same principles apply over the mile too.

 

Distances greater than a mile

The races between nine furlongs and two miles are represented from a pace angle in the data presented below. There is perhaps a marginal preference for front running speed in general apart from the shorter relative distances (9 & 10f) where early speed is a significant advantage.

It’s repeating the same message: the major takeaway from the data is the reinforced view that it is  difficult for hold up horses to win in larger fields.  That makes perfect sense given the tight and undulating nature of a track where hard luck stories seem commonplace. Let’s hope that you’re not on  one that falls out of the stalls!

 

That’s it for another edition, I hope you find things of interest in the above and I’ll certainly be watching Goodwood races with a keener eye than usual over the next few days and months. Good luck!

- Jon Shenton