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Monday Musings: Great Nights under the Chelmsford City Lights

I suffered from the rigours of the homeward M25 twice last week, especially when narrowly avoiding a several-hour hiatus after Epsom on Tuesday thanks to a last-second and probably illegal switch across the shaded portion of the carriageway at the Orpington exit, writes Tony Stafford. Then there was the always-fraught Friday following Sandown, so I forwent the splendours of Esher on Saturday in favour of an afternoon’s telly watching.

That allowed a good segment of the Test match, some football and plenty of racing before embarking on the often troublesome but nominally 45-minute north-easterly venture to what Derek Thompson kept referring to later in the evening as “Essex’s Premier Racecourse”.

Yes, Derek, the one-time Essex Showground – as the signs from the A120 still refer to it more than ten years after its initial identity as Great Leighs, but now firmly established as Chelmsford City, is indeed the premier track in the county. It’s also the only one!

Though more akin to a County show venue than to a traditional racecourse, Chelmsford does have one lovable characteristic. Ask the jockeys that did perform the M25/M11/A120 commute after Sandown’s Solario and Atalanta Stakes meeting on Saturday.

Messrs Moore, Buick, Doyle, Crowley, Murphy, Havlin and Bishop, the seven riders that made up the field for the second race, all found the double shift worth the trouble. On a day of multiple Flat-race meetings, Chelmsford’s prizemoney comfortably eclipsed the rest. Sandown’s two Group 3’s – the Atalanta Stakes for three-year-old fillies carried a £39,000 winner’s prize, and was won by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Veracious (Ryan Moore); while the Solario Stakes, which highlighted the obvious Classic potential of Too Darn Hot (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori) was worth £28k to the winning owner-breeders, the Lloyd Webber family.

Over at Beverley, the Bullet, won for the second successive year by soon-to-be-retired 11-year-old Take Cover (David Griffiths/David Allan), although only a Listed was well up to the Sandown class, carrying a £34k winner’s prize. Meanwhile, Chester offered £20,000 to the odds-on Duretto (Andrew Balding/David Probert) for its Listed Chester Stakes.

But Chelmsford, under its present management and (Bet)Fred Done’s ownership – having supplanted the financially-challenged original grouping which was forced to close down after a brief initial burst – have long been known for relatively lavish prizemoney.

As I said earlier, ask the jockeys. The major handicap on Saturday, the Betfred Chelmsford City Cup, advertised in the Racing Calendar of August 2nd as being worth a guaranteed £80,000, was actually boosted almost up to the £100k mark, meaning the Jeremy Noseda-trained / Doreen Tabor-owned winner Cenotaph, ridden by Moore, earned more than £64,000.

Two juvenile races, a novice and a nursery, each offered 22k to the winner. With the promise of entertainment afterwards and a brilliant cloud-free day, the crowds rolled in from quite early on. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, and made a beeline to the owners’ room, which has a great view of the paddock but absolutely no sight of the track. Space was at a premium there, even so early in the proceedings, but I saw two free seats and proceeded towards them, mug of coffee in hand, when I saw a woman having the same idea.

You meet very nice people at the races, and that was the case with Katie Fuller, who said: “There’s room for both of us” as I made signs of looking elsewhere. She said: “I’m here to watch my son, Ollie Stammers, who has two rides, including one in the first.”

The first time I heard that name was when, watching from the top of the Mark Johnston gallops viewing tower with the trainer and his son Charlie last year, as Ray Tooth’s Tarnhelm made her comeback after the first of two injuries, Ollie was involved in the gallop, I’m pretty sure riding her.

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Mark and Charlie spoke very warmly of the then 16-year-old who had only just arrived after leaving school in Essex, where the family lived, near Coggeshall, and quite close to Saturday’s venue. Since then he has ridden six winners from 56 rides, all this year, five of the wins and 38 of the rides for the Middleham stable.

Katie told me he’d always ridden and never wanted to do anything else, starting racing in pony events with his own pony. Now he’s outgrown that sport, so has the pony, which at 15 hands high is no longer eligible, and has devolved to mum’s responsibility while Ollie works away 200 miles to the north.

Charlie Johnston showed up in time for Ollie’s second ride, on last year’s winner of the big race Masham Star, one of the three Johnston horses on which he has won races. Poet’s Society, the horse with which Frankie Dettori gave Johnston the winner that beat Richard Hannon senior’s all-time record a couple of weeks back has also provided two and Ravenhoe another pair.

Charlie said: “We bought back Ravenhoe <for £5,000> late last year specifically for Ollie to ride. He’s an admirable young man and after riding four lots every morning, he’ll voluntarily come back in the afternoon for an hour on the Equicizer!” They were true to their word, Ravenhoe having provided the promising young jockey with 16 rides already on his own.

Katie Fuller could not speak more highly of her son’s employers, at the same time saying many people had told her he would be better off elsewhere. Just to put that jaundiced view into perspective, Ollie has had 38 rides for his boss:  Jeremy Noseda has had just 63 runners all year.

Six-year-old Cenotaph’s hat-trick, all at Chelmsford and worth a cumulative £97,000 for Doreen Tabor’s coffers, might well lead to renewed Coolmore patronage to the trainer after his period in the relative doldrums. One thing never in doubt has been his brilliance in training and placing his inmates.

I bumped into plenty of interesting people on Saturday, quite a few of them in the company of fashion shop and racehorse owner Michelle Fernandes, as much a regular at Chelmsford as at her local track Yarmouth,  where I first met her some years ago with my pal, Roger Hales.

In the burgeoning Fernandes party, which very sensibly took up a prime position in the comfy armchairs on the owners’ room balcony well before racing, was another nice lady who set the tone for Chelmsford’s claim as the fashion alternative to Royal Ascot.

Mandy Freke, an Essex local, was there with her husband and her 24-year-old son, and was decoratively attired in strident colours, adorned by what she unashamedly admitted to being “£275 shoes”, which caught the admiration of the remainder of their group.

Coming up to the 8.15 race, Mandy wanted to buy another bottle of Prosecco, but said hubby was too mean to do so – “although he did buy me the shoes and a new Mercedes the other day!” Brought into the conversation, I was asked if I knew what would win the next race.

Earlier I’d mentioned Nayslayer, part-owned by Mrs Paul Shanahan and trained by Sylvester Kirk to one of her friends, suggesting that its chance was obviously improved as a bottom weight by Silvestre de Sousa’s coming on from Sandown to ride him.

He was well treated with triple course winner Buckingham on earlier course form, yet was 10-1 in a field of five. Mandy searched in her designer handbag and retrieved an envelope with some coins in it. “Have £2 each way,” I suggested but then discovered the champion jockey had not made the trip.

It was only after Nayslayer had won, in a battle with the Gosden-trained/Havlin-ridden and previously-unbeaten Marhaba Milliar, I discovered he’d been ridden by the Japanese jockey Yuga Kawada, here with the Roger Varian stable for a working holiday.

After the race, Harry Taylor, arriving late after a nearby family party but in time to back Cenotaph, said he’d been on Nayslayer twice previously but didn’t play here. Happily, he did press his luck on the last-race winner Crystal Moonlight, which looked improbable until Ryan Moore plucked the prize from the blue with a powerful finish.

By that time, Mandy’s £28 had morphed into the much-desired bottle of fizz. I left her and her friends to enjoy it and the rest of the entertainment. It was a great night out at Chelmsford. Ask the jockeys!

Monday Musings: If it wasn’t for bad Luck…

Nick Luck on Sunday should be required viewing every week on Racing UK, writes Tony Stafford. This Sunday the show conveniently wrapped around racing from Hong Kong featuring Graham Cunningham who seems to have settled seamlessly into the racing there after a long career on this side of the pond, in more recent years as a regular on the channel.

In my case, disciplined as ever, I usually miss most of it. Yesterday the first segment included Hugo Palmer, who according to his stable jockey Josephine Gordon, also on the show before her dash to Goodwood, had to attend a party so left precipitously. I didn’t begin watching until after Hugo’s departure unfortunately.

That left Luck, soon, believe it or believe it not, to attain the unimaginable age of 40 with Gordon, tipster Maddy Playle and Hughie Morrison, with emphasis on the last-named’s trials and tribulations with the BHA courtesy the Wolverhampton steroids case.

As both interviewer and interviewee readily attested, the affair could easily have ended with Morrison’s losing his licence under the “strict liability” rule even though almost nobody believed the trainer likely to have been in any way involved in wrong doing.

Morrison believes it was his previously unblemished disciplinary record and the access to (if not ownership of) the excessive funds needed to challenge the BHA’s in his mind dilatory approach to the making available of evidence that ended with a satisfactory if expensive outcome on his part.

He talked about “£5,000 to send a letter and £25,000 to arrange a meeting with a barrister and the BHA”, figures which would take the cost of possible justice “far beyond the reach of most trainers”. Far beyond reason if you ask me.

Hughie, who trains three horses for my boss Raymond Tooth, also readily attested that few owners expect to make anything like a profit from their horses but that they should expect to be treated much better on the racecourse than was previously the case. He says, though, that the situation is improving at a number of courses.

Morrison cited the new facilities for owners at Cheltenham and Newbury – both top notch – but could easily have included Ascot and York at the upper end as similarly exemplary. I was at Haydock on Wednesday and that course provides another enjoyable experience for owners, but the five and a half hour trek back down the 50mph limit blighted M6 was less tolerable.

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That was after a disappointing sixth place for Raymond’s and his partners Dilip Sharma and Shahpur Siddiqui’s Laxmi in a fillies’ maiden race over six furlongs. Harry Bentley reported afterwards that she found the going too firm and the trip too short and the fact she did rally late on after getting outpaced seemed to support that opinion.

Laxmi could have run in any number of different types of two-year-old races, being an auction buy (£42,000), and also a product of a stallion (War Command) whose progeny qualify for mid-range median auction races, as well as the now ubiquitous novice contests.

The same cannot be said of all juveniles. In the old days, most races for two-year-olds at this stage of the season were either maidens or winners’ races. This year, the BHA’s race planning division – you know that part of the executive which scheduled afternoon meetings on Saturday at Haydock, Beverley, Catterick and Musselburgh to make it simple for northern trainers and racegoers – have thrown the programme into almost total reverse with previous winners being allowed into most races, both for two and three-year-olds.

Hughie Morrison was more concerned with the older division, complaining that inexperienced, later-developing maidens in their early days are habitually confronted by pattern-class horses totally schooled in racing. He reckoned most novice races for three-year-olds now go to previous winners. He implied that all this is doing is offering additional easy pickings for the most powerful stables – step forward Mr Gosden, and he does!

As an attempt to try to put myself into a trainer’s place, I had a look at the 57 two-year-old races over six furlongs in Volume 2 of the Programme Book for 2018. In order of availability there were 21 novice races, 12 novice auction, nine novice fillies’, five maidens, three each novice median auction and novice filly auction, two for maiden fillies (including Haydock last week) and one each median auction maiden and median auction fillies’ maiden.

The five maiden races were interesting. The first is at York this weekend, a Class 3 that carries a £15,000 prize fund and will therefore be very hard to win. The others are at Brighton, Windsor, with two (in a course series) at Hamilton. In all only nine are confined for maidens out of the 57. For home-breds that didn’t go through a sale to secure a mark for auction races, their opportunities are also limited, in my opinion unnecessarily so.

**

A few weeks ago I rather unfortunately chose Jeremy Noseda as an example of a small-to-medium size trainer who habitually takes on the big stables with excellent hopes of success. I was pointing to his forthcoming proposed challenge with the high-class, Phoenix Thoroughbreds-owned Gronkowski for the Kentucky Derby, even though news had come out the previous week that his colt had suffered a setback and would miss the race. I missed the news! It needed the better-informed resources of the Editor to prevent total embarrassment in this quarter. For Noseda it could hardly have gone worse in the interim.

Subsequently Phoenix, presumably in a pique that the Derby challenge was off, removed all their horses, including Gronkowski (three for three this year) and Walk in the Sun (two for two), along with 12 others. The latter has joined Martyn Meade, while the useful Lansky has gone to Robert Cowell.

It must have been galling for Noseda to read in the build up to Saturday’s Belmont Stakes from new trainer Chad Brown that Gronkowski came to him in wonderful condition. But that would have been nothing compared to his feelings after Gronkowski came from a long way back on his delayed US debut to get nearest to Justify as that brilliant colt gave Bob Baffert a second Triple Crown in three years following American Pharoah in 2016.

After some quiet times it seemed that 2018 would herald a major revival in Noseda’s fortunes. Understandably, following the removal of pretty much all of his best and certainly most expensive horses, his yard seems almost to have ceased operations with no runner since the unplaced Laughing Stranger at Newmarket on May 17. One can only hope that a mid to late summer surge will be forthcoming.

Varian holds the key to Cambridgeshire Conundrum

The first leg of the ‘Autumn Double’ takes place tomorrow at Newmarket, with 35 runners going to post.

The Cambridgeshire is run on the Rowley Mile and is a nine-furlong cavalry charge, with horses spread across the entirety of the track. The first three from last year return for another crack at the valuable handicap. Master The World was chinned on the line 12 months ago by Third Time Lucky, with Examiner a length further back. Fahey’s three-year-old was making it four wins for the age group in the past 10 renewals.

In fairness, wins are pretty evenly split between three, four, five and six-year-olds in recent times. You have to go back to 1992 for the last seven-year-old success. Experience in handicaps has proved a key factor in performing well in the Cambridgeshire. Though last year’s winner was only three, he had already competed in a handful of handicaps prior to winning here, including a 16 runner event at Goodwood.

The amount of weight allocated to a horse is also key to winning this. In the past 20 years, only six have carried more than nine stone to victory. Educate managed to haul 9-9 and still win in 2014, but he is very much an exception to the rule.

Quite a number of horses have managed to win the race twice, with Bronze Angel the latest in 2012 and 2014. Several have won back to back, though Prince de Galles was the last in 1969 and 1970. No horse has yet won the race three times, which doesn’t bode well for Bronze Angel’s chances of a famous treble. He’s also a seven-year-old, and will be carrying 9 stone 7lbs. A almighty ‘trend-buster’ if he makes it.

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Clearly a Cambridgeshire winner has to be a strong stayer. The race is run at a serious gallop from the off, and a stiff finish makes ‘getting home’ essential. Last year’s winner was trying the trip for the first time, but had previously finished strongly at Leicester in a handicap at just over a mile. Master The World had already won at 10 furlongs and was therefore assured of seeing out the trip.

On Saturday Gm Hopkins and 2013 winner Educate have top weight to overcome. The latter finished down the field in 2014 and 2015, and in all honesty is quite hard to fancy, despite his win at York in July. Gm Hopkins finished sixth in the race last year, having incurred some difficulty in running. He never looked like getting to the winners, though with a clearer passage could well have been placed. The five-year-old ran in the Lockinge back in May, and is undoubtedly a classy sort. It would come as no surprise to see him go close, despite the weight.

Master The World is now on a career high mark of 108, which is 9lbs higher than when runner-up 12 months ago. He almost won the Betfred Mile back in July at Goodwood, but has gone up a further 4lbs since that run. Such a rise in the handicap makes him tough to fancy tomorrow.

Bravo Zolo is an interesting contender, having been trained specifically for this by Jeremy Noseda. Reported to be ‘training well’, the unexposed four-year-old has not been sighted since finishing a close second in the Lincoln back in April. That came on ground plenty soft enough, and he runs here off a 2lb higher mark. He could be well treated, and has Frankie Dettori on-board, though that lengthy absence has to be a concern.

Last year’s winner Third Time Lucky, looks set to go off favourite tomorrow, following the withdrawals of Sacred Act and Firmament. He ran well at York in August, though this is tougher, and he’s on a 5lb higher mark than when winning a year ago. He was on a steep upward curve back then, and I have my doubts that he can win again on Saturday.

The Roger Varian trained American Artist interests me. He was fifth behind Sacred Act at Sandown a few weeks back, but had been off the track since May, and should strip fitter this time. He came third when favourite for last year’s Silver Cambridgeshire, and has the required stamina and handicap experience. He was behind Dark Red at Chester earlier in the year, but gets a huge pull in the weights, and I fancy he’ll run a cracker tomorrow. His odds of 25s look fair to me.

Luck in running is sure to play a part in such a hugely competitive handicap. And no doubt the draw will also have a role to play. But the two that look ideal contenders to me, and will carry the added handicap of the ‘Keeling cash’, are Bravo Zolo and American Artist. Both look to have been aimed specifically at this, and are handicapped to go very close. Good luck to all those having a punt.

Nemoralia is More Than Ready

Sometimes when reflecting on a high-profile racing festival, one is reminded of an eye-catching performance that possibly slipped somewhat under the radar.

A number of fillies and mares impressed during the four days at York. Queen Kindly took the Lowther Stakes, and looks a juvenile of the highest order. One of the first crop by the mighty Frankel, she defeated another of his progeny, the highly touted Fair Eva. Both are fillies full of potential, with the latter more stoutly bred, and more likely to make into a potential Guineas and Epsom Oaks contender. Queen Kindly’s dam; Lady Of The Desert, was undoubtedly at her best over the shorter trips, indeed she finished runner-up in both the Sprint Cup at Haydock and the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp.

Whilst the juvenile fillies advertised the talents of a new stallion in Frankel, the victory of Seventh Heaven in the Yorkshire Oaks, chased home by Found, did plenty to trumpet the continuing success of the greatest stallion Galileo. Seventh Heaven has progressed into a formidable three-year-old, capable of galloping her opponents into submission. Found possibly needed the run more than her younger stable companion, and was of course giving the winner plenty of weight.

On the Friday of York’s Ebor meeting, Mecca’s Angel created all the headlines, when the mare rocketed to success in the Nunthorpe Stakes. I was not alone in believing that she would need more testing conditions to come out on top. However, Michael Dods’ heroine almost smashed the track record, with a truly dominant display. She’ll take some beating if continuing at this level for the remainder of the season. And the fact that she performed this well on a sounder surface allows Dods to target whichever sprint he and owner David Metcalfe fancy, whatever the prevailing ground conditions.

Despite the stunning performance of Mecca’s Angel, it was another filly that caught my attention on Friday, and continues to impress, especially with conditions in her favour.

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Jeremy Noseda has a stunner on his hands with Nemoralia. It came as no surprise when she won the Group 3 City Of York Stakes, but the performance further enhanced her soaring reputation. She’s pure class, travels like a dream, and has a devastating turn of foot. The strong gallop suited her, and under hand-and-heels she was far too good for an admittedly ordinary looking field.

Jamie Spencer, speaking to Channel 4 Racing after the win had said: “She was really impressive, she wants a mile but Jeremy wanted to run her in a race she could win. She's a real firm ground filly, she's just been unfortunate with the weather this year.” After the smooth success, Noseda said: “She was in good form and she was as Group One filly dropping back into Group Three company. She had a hard race at Royal Ascot (second in Coronation Stakes) and ran a bit flat in France.”

That Ascot defeat to classy French filly Qemah, came on unsuitable ground, and of future targets Noseda added: “The Park Stakes at Doncaster will possibly be next and then we'll head to America and look at the Queen Elizabeth for three-year-old fillies on October 14 in Keeneland. We've got the choice of races at the Breeders' Cup. We'll keep moving forward now. It was nice to get her back winning.”

Those targets may not necessarily depend on the ground, but her performance certainly will. She’ll take all the beating on a quick surface. She’s by a leading American Stallion in More Than Ready, a sire known for his impact around the globe. He’s responsible for Grade 1 winners in seven countries, and is based at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. Whilst undoubtedly best known for his progeny in America and Australia, More Than Ready is making a belated impression in the UK.

Nemoralia may be the standout, but Charlie Appleby and Team Godolphin have a promising juvenile on their hands with Boynton. He took a while to get going last time in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, when a strong finishing third. He looked a little quirky, with his head held rather high at times. He’d previously won the Group 2 Superlative at Newmarket, when ‘toughing it out’ in the final furlong.

Mokarris is another juvenile that has shown a good level of form. He proved no match for Blue Point in the Gimcrack at York the other day, though was given a pretty gentle ride once the winner had flown. Owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, this son of More Than Ready looks to be another that will improve as he steps up in trip. He travelled stylishly at York, and ought to be competitive at a very high level.

Age is no barrier to these prodigious stallions. Galileo at 18 remains the best in the business, and at 19, More Than Ready appears more popular than ever, especially in the UK. Nemoralia’s dazzling season is sure to elevate his status further, with wealthy owners taking the plunge in a bloodline likely to prove a prized asset.

Stat of the Day, 17th July 2015

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 17th July 2015

Getting 7/2 about a 2/1 winner is always satisfying and even more when your runner snatches the race right on the line and that's what happened at Leicester on Thursday for us.

Some might say it was a perfectly judged ride or that we got lucky, but things even themselves out and we've lost races that way in the past, so all's fair in my eyes!

It was good to get back to winning ways and I now want another in Friday's finale at HQ, the...

8.55 Newmarket :

A Class 5, 7 furlong handicap on good to firm ground where Jeremy Noseda's gelding Zeshov drops in trip in a bid to convert a good run last time out into a second career victory on just his seventh start.

Jeremy Noseda's record on the July course is decent at 27 wins from 133 (20.3% SR) for 32.5pts at an ROI of 24.4%.

Those running over trips of 7f to a mile are 16 from 77 (20.8% SR) for 18.1pts (+23.4% ROI), those running in handicaps are 11/56 (19.6% SR) for 17.6pts (+31.4% ROI), whilst those ridden by Frankie Dettori are 4/9 (44.4% SR) for 4.4pts (+48.5% ROI) profit.

Zeshov comes here having last been seen finishing 4th of 9 runners 8 weeks ago, but that hardly tells the whole story. That was his first run for 281 days and he was only beaten by 1.75 lengths and was only a quarter of a length behind runner-up Scottish Glen who is 2 from 2 at Class 4 since that day.

That last run was also a Class 4 affair and the drop in class should benefit him here, a theory backed up by the fact that in the last three seasons Jeremy Noseda's horses priced at 8/1 and shorter who were dropped in class, won 12 of 38 (31.6% SR) races for 27.4pts profit at an ROI of 72.2%.

Jeremy's runners also seem to do better with a relatively recent run behind them and since 2009, his horses priced at 6/1 or shorter making their 2nd handicap start in three months are 36/116 (31% SR) for 16.3pts (+14% ROI), with those running in Class 4/5 contests winning 30 of 82 (36.6% SR) for profits of 22.7pts (+27.6% ROI).

He ran well last time out and this looks an easier task and the stats do suggest he will go well again here too. That said, the market will be alive to that fact and we'll not be getting rich off the back of Zeshov today.

At the time of posting this (just before 10.30pm), the best on offer was the 11/4 non-BOG from Ladbrokes (not BOG until 9.00am) or 5/2 BOG from either Betfair or BetVictor, the choice is yours!

For the record, I think I'll sacrifice the slightly better odds to take the BOG insurance. I expect Zeshov to shorten in the market, but there's always the chance it goes the other way. To see the latest odds...

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Stat of the Day, 10th June 2015

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 10th June 2015

Tuesday was one of those nearly days for myself and Messrs Charlton & Baker. Jockey George had two rides for Roger at Salisbury, I backed them both, I beat SP both times, they both ran well and both finished second!

Chauvelin was beaten by three parts of a length an hour after SotD pick Star Fire had just failed by a neck at 3/1 after we'd taken a juicy 9/2 BOG. However you get nothing for coming second with straight win bets, so it's a point conceded to the bookies, but I'll be trying to win it back in the...

8.40 Kempton:

A Class 4 A/W handicap over 7f, where I've just taken 7/2 BOG about Ian's Memory, who Richard Hughes will ride for Jeremy Noseda.

Jeremy's record with horses priced at 6/1 or shorter in A/W handicaps since the start of 2010 is 45/146 (30.8% SR) for 13.9pts profit at an ROI of 9.5%, but since the start of 2014, the figures are much more impressive at 14/36 (38.9% SR) for 13.23pts (+36.6% ROI).

Of those 36 runners, the record here at Kempton is 7/14 (50% SR) for 7.6pts (+54.3% ROI).

Also, since 2009, jockey Richard Hughes' record in Class 4/5 handicaps here at Kempton on horses in the 2/1 to 11/1 price range is 41/203 (20.2% SR) for 55.1pts (+27.2% ROI), of which he's 36/153 (23.5% SR) for 83.4pts (+54.5% ROI) over trips of 5f to 1m2f and at those trips, he's 4/16 (25% SR) for 11pts (+68.6% ROI) since the start of 2014.

Richard Hughes doesn't ride too often for Jeremy Noseda, but since the start of 2010 in handicaps on horses priced at 4/1 or shorter, they are 7/12 (58.3% SR) for 16.8pts (+139.8% ROI) together.

Some trainers do better than others with their handicappers that haven't over-raced their horses and get better results with horses that are fresh. Jeremy Noseda has a good record with horses that have only raced once in the previous 90 days and with Ian's Memory having last raced 10 weeks ago after a 9-week break, he fulfils the criteria of Noseda handicappers with just one run in the last 90 days.

Since 2009, such runners are 32/111 (28.8% SR) for 25.6pts profit at an ROI of 23.1%. On the A/W, the figures are 16/42 (38.1% SR) for 25.2pts (+59.9% ROI) with those priced at 6/1 or shorter winning 15 of 29 (51.7% SR) for 22.4pts (+77.4% ROI) profit.

Coral are currently offering 7/2 BOG about Ian's Memory, whilst there's plenty of 3/1 BOG around as can be seen by...

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Sunday Supplement: “A rich man’s game”

California Chrome only 2nd in Meydan

California Chrome only 2nd in Meydan

Sunday supplement

By Tony Stafford

Some time just after Christmas, I bumped into Joe Fanning at one of the all-weather tracks and asked him whether he’d sorted out Mark Johnston’s then at least 100-long string of losers. Sorry not to be more precise about the timing. Joe, always affable, replied: “Doesn’t matter, we’ve just had 120 two-year-olds arrive!”

In 2014 Johnston’s two-year-olds, for all that the stable  hit the buffers at the end of the Flat season, managed 43 wins from 303 runs. Performances were broadly similar for the three previous years, 45 from 415 in 2013, and 41 from 299 and 37 from 331 in the two previous campaigns.

I hadn’t remembered him ever being over busy early on with that division. By 3 p.m. on Saturday, the first day with juvenile races programmed, he stood on three for three after wins in the Brocklesby at Doncaster and the maidens at Kempton and then Chelmsford. No-one else, not Bill Turner, not Richard Hannon, got a look in.

It wouldn’t be racing if there weren’t the usual stories. Minutes after Buratino, an Exceed and Excel Darley home-bred won at Chelmsford Simon Whitworth, now an important cog in the Barry and Charlie Hills teams said: “They told me before the race that the one at Chelmsford was better than the other two.” They didn’t tell me, whoever they were.

On the gallops at Newmarket the day before, connections of one of the soon-to-be Chelmsford victims, going through the five runners said: “Johnston’s is very bad at the gate – he’s been through twice and was slowly away each time.” Gallops tittle-tattle is vital. What happened? Johnston’s flew out and made all, amazingly starting 9-4 in a five-horse field with two stable mates having already run and won.

Now of course all the media experts will have latched onto a great system. They’ll tell you Johnston’s two-year-olds are in form and it’s the more irritating that not only does he not run anything at all today, but that a big number of entries for All Fool’s Day does not include a single juvenile.

A more serious factor lies behind the sudden change (for that surely is what it was) for Johnston, and the key must be the altered activity especially in Charlie Appleby’s section of the sprawling Godolphin operation.

Time was, long ago, when the Maktoum family steadfastly avoided all-weather racing, clearly believing it was unfair to mop up the crumbs that the biggest boys left for the smaller stables.

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Those days are no more. Appleby’s 70-plus wins on the all-weather part of the year have pretty much come with horses that in previous years would have devolved down to Johnston while Appleby (or as was Al Zarooni, whose name we must never utter in public) prepared for the new intake of two-year-olds.

I love my Horses in Training, the best £19.99 on the market, although this year it has set me back double that. The first glimpse, having generally bought it at Cheltenham on the first day of the Festival, was brief and my mistake, going to the gents and leaving it on a chair in an unnamed box – shame on you lot – meant I needed to buy the replacement in Tindalls in Newmarket High Street on Friday morning.

As Joe said, Johnston has 122 two-year-olds, considerably fewer than Richard Hannon, listed with 152 but probably with half as many again being readied to join them in assorted yards around the Berkshire/Wiltshire borders.

I’ve been up a few times recently watching Ray Tooth’s three home-bred colts going through their paces. Ray’s also in the middle of a change in policy, not quite like Godolphin’s, but he’s come to the realisation that even mid-range spending on one or two yearlings each autumn is no guarantee to success, or even being competitive.

The hope is that by using as-yet unproven and therefore inexpensive stallions that themselves were well-bred and performed to a high level on the track, with mares with a similar background, you might break the mould. Ray reasons that the extra layer of big-money buyers from Qatar coupled with a renewed energy from Dubai to keep ahead of their near neighbours has brought yearlings far outside the reach of most domestic owners at any rate.

William Haggas, who trained three fillies for Ray which are now starting out as broodmares – they are respectively by Dubawi, Dutch Art and Oratorio – said he agreed with his former client’s analysis.

Haggas, one of the most upwardly-mobile trainers, is also one of the fairest, and if your horse does not warrant expending as he says: “My expensive fees”, he soon recommends that the owner finds a cheaper option, although our trio were allowed to stay the full course.

With 172 horses, 81 of them juveniles, he has 22 (if my dodgy eyes deciphered the numbers correctly) that cost £100,000 or more, along with some choicely-related home-breds. The Queen has four juveniles, three home-breds, but one filly Oriental Cross, by Cape Cross cost £174,000!

Analysis of any of the big yards will throw up a similar profile, with loads more horses at Haggas’s coming in the £60,000 to £90,000 bracket. As the people who’ve spotted that Johnston’s juveniles are in form, give them a Horses in Training and they’ll tell you: “Racing’s a rich man’s sport.”

Johnston is one very few trainers who still tries to fill lesser-endowed orders from his long-standing clients and one of the Saturday three, David  Abell’s narrow Brocklesby winner Ravenhoe (by Bahamian Bounty) cost Mark £16,000 at Doncaster’s August sale. The other pair ran in the more regulation green and red of Sheikh Mo’s son Hamdan and were home-breds from Darley.

The Abell 16-grand winner gives us hope that Highway Robber, by Dick Turpin, at Simon Crisford’s – bought back for 15,000gns at Newmarket - and Harry Champion, a Cockney Rebel colt thought unlikely to be commercial at the sales, and now with Hugo Palmer, might punch above their weight, much as their owner has over the past near 30 years.

Being told that one of them was going along with a Kodiac and an Oasis Dream , and the second on Saturday, with another Kodiac and a Showcasing, keeps the faith going.

I’ve broken away to look at the Cricket World Cup score and it looks like Australia will not have much of a target to chase against New Zealand. Instead, reckon I’ll watch the first two laps of the Grand Prix to make sure Hamilton will have another boring all the way win.

Returning to horses, Lingfield stages its well-endowed Good Friday card for the second year and it has attracted nine Charlie Appleby’s and a couple of Saeed bin Suroor entries. Saeed took Charlie’s thunder on Dubai World Cup day yesterday, winning the World Cup with old-timer Prince Bishop from the American pair California Chrome and Lea. Apart from the opener won by the local favourite, whose “luck” in getting a good draw in each of four runs this Carnival hardly amused Jeremy Noseda. His Sloane Avenue started from 15 of 16, got an early bump and failed by a short head to get up.

Otherwise it was all Europe and Mike de Kock, with pride of place going to Michael Owen and the admirable Brown Panther in the Marathon and Sole Power for Ireland in the Sprint. Add in the usual French excellence and you have a normal World Cup day. So what, unless you’re the ones picking up the big bucks, nowadays it’s a bit of an irrelevance.

Cousin Khee is guaranteed a run in Friday’s marathon as only 12 were confirmed. His 40-1 odds reveal him as a major outsider, but if gets in the first six, which he could, it’ll be a nice follow on to Two Jabs’ highly-promising second at Wolverhampton the other day. We’re still in the game, rich man’s or not.

Stat of the Day, 27th November 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 27th November 2014

Connor Hoban gave Dalewari a really good, patient ride on his handicap debut and waited until deep into the final furlong to run on and hit the front. He kept the horse handy, but covered up until the time was right, before quickly sweeping to front to stay on and score by half a length or so.

This meant yet another Dundalk winner for trainer Michael Halford who remains in imperious form and the icing on the cake came when we went to get paid out. I said 5/2 was a little on the short side for an SotD pick, but that I thought there'd still be a bit of value. Well, the SP was 7/4, meaning we got paid out at 143% of SP.

Another late A/W show in prospect for Thursday as I've found a consistent sort in the...

7.25 Kempton:

A Class 4, 3yo+ A/W handicap over six furlongs on the polytrack, where I've just taken 6/1 BOG with SkyBet about Jeremy Noseda's 3yr old filly, Mia San Triple. I know that 6/1 BOG is towards the upper end of the odds range for SotD, but I feel she's likely to run at around 4/1 and seems a little overpriced at present.

Jeremy Noseda has a good record in these 3yo+ handicaps on the all-weather and is one of a number of trainers I keep an eye on under certain conditions. Jeremy's runners falling in to the following categories tend to go quite well in these events : UK A/W 3yo+ handicaps, aged 3 to 7, running at two classes lower to one class higher (inclusive) to last time out and within -2 to+2 furlongs of that last run.

Since 2010 Jeremy's record with such runners is 21 winners from 78 (36.9% SR) for 28.4pts (+36.5% ROI) profit and provides a good starting point for to dig out these numbers that are more relevant/pertinent today...

Female runners : 9/30 (30% SR) for 25.4pts (+84.6% ROI)
3 yr olds : 17/59 (28.8% SR) for 30pts (+50.8% ROI)
At same class as LTO : 11/46 (23.9% SR) for 7.4pts (+16% ROI)
and running at a trip within half a furlong (to allow for course variances) of LTO : 16/47 (34% SR) for 32.2pts (+68.4% ROI).

Mia San Triple has already proven herself to be a consistent and reliable performer, but is still relatively unexposed after just 8 starts (32321123) and has placed twice from three runs on the all-weather (placed once from two runs here). She's been placed twice from three runs at this level and three time s from efforts over today's trip, including two wins in the summer at nearby Windsor. She's not concerned about having plenty of company either with a 2321 in races of more than 10 runners.

It's no surprise to see her running well at this level/trip, since her father is Invincible Spirit, who won 7 of 12 races over today's trip, including a group 1, two group 3's and two listed events. That, of course, was all 12 to 15 years ago, but his offspring have a good record at this type of trip too. Since 2010, his progeny running 6 or 7 furlongs on the all-weather at Class 5 or better have won 101 of 525 races, a 19.2% strike rate yielding 216.2pts level stakes profits at an ROI of 41.2%.

As earlier, we can further break these figures down to give us some more relevancy in the following manner :

Female offspring are 46/215 (21.4% SR) for 168.4pts (+78.3% ROI)
His three year olds are 40/190 (21/1% SR) for 88.6pts (+46.6% ROI),
whilst those running here at Kempton are 38/215 (17.7% SR) for 110.5pts (+51.4% ROI).

Jeremy Noseda has had a quiet time of it of late with just six runners this month, Three of them have won, though, including a Listed success at here at Kempton with his last runner, 8 days ago. 3/6 shows the yard may well be coming into a bit of form, if they can get some more horses to the track, whilst more long-term, they are 13/57 in the last three months which is still pretty good.

We could have done with a better draw here for Mia San Triple, but she likes to get out and on with it early in the contest and with Spring Fling just inside her, there should at least be some early pace in her quarter of the draw.

We are compensated for this draw in the price currently available, where I was pleasantly surprised to be able to place a 1pt win on Mia San Triple at 6/1 BOG with SkyBet. All the other firms range from 9/2 to 11/2, so you should all get a decent quote from your chosen bookie, whose odds you'll find when you...

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Stat of the Day, 9th May 2014

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 9th May 2014

We absolutely smashed the SP on yesterday's runner, Teajaybe who was steadily backed in from our 3/1 advised price to be sent off as the 11/10 favourite, meaning we'd certainly got the best value we could.

Them the stalls opened and that's where the good news ends, I'm afraid. He was well beaten (10 lengths) into sixth place with just two behind him. The commentators were being kind/diplomatic when they suggested the 3lb weight rise did for him. I just think he ran poorly, as horses sometimes do.

No point dwelling on a defeat, when there's racing every day, so let's look for a winner in the...

5.20 Lingfield:

Where I've backed Jeremy Noseda's 3-year-old yard debutant Mia San Triple at 3/1 BOG with BetVictor, on the back of her decent form shown in three starts for Peter Chapple-Hyam last season.

1. In the last few years, Jeremy Noseda's horses have performed well here at Lingfield with 26 of his 88 runners priced between Evens and 14/1 going on to win. This 29.6% strike rate has yielded 44.33pts profit at level stakes, a return of 50.4% on investment. I admit, that we don't often bet at 14/1 for SotD, but i wanted to give you an overview.

If we look at those priced at 7/1 or under, which is more our usual "zone", then he has still had a decent amount of success with 24 winners from 72 representing a 1-in-3 strike rate and the resultant 25.9pts profits are the equivalent of almost 36 pence from each pound wagered.

Interestingly, from the 72 above, his three-year olds have contributed 16 winners from 39 runs (41% SR) for 29.1pts (+74.6% ROI)

2. His record since 2011 in these 3yo+ maidens is also very encouraging with 26 winners from 97 runners for a 26.8% strike rate, which has to date produced 51.4pts profit at Betfair SP, an ROI of 53%. From those 97, he is 6/20 for 21.3pts here at Lingfield.

3. And since the turn of 2011, his 3yr olds have won 16 of 43 maidens on the all-weather when sent off below 7/1. It is a relatively small sample size, but it would be foolish to disregard at 37.2% strike rate that has already yielded 19.7pts at a return of 45.8%.

4. Mia San Triple will today become just the 38th 3yr old to be sent off at single-digit odds on debut for the Noseda yard, but 9 of the previous 37 have won (24.3% SR) producing 16.2pts profit (+43.7% ROI) and this is also encouraging.

The money is likely to come for newcomer Winter Thunder, whose pedigree suggests he'll be much better than this level in time, but I think he'll possibly need further than this trip and he might just need the run on debut for a yard that just isn't quite firing at present. Add to that the fact he's currently as short as 5/4, which offers no real value at all.

Mia San Triple, however, has the best form of those here, who have run previously, finishing 323 with some promise before switching yard. She was only narrowly beaten late on in her last Polytrack effort at Kempton two starts ago and she was third at Warwick last time out, 3.5 lengths behind Artistic Charm who was then rated at 85 for a group 3 contest at Newmarket three weeks ago.

Mia San Triple is rated 78, 3lbs lower than the other horse with any reasonable form, Inkerman, but we are carrying 17lbs than that one today. All of which makes me happy/confident enough of a 1pt win bet on Mia San Triple at 3/1 BOG, that's with BetVictor, but we realise other bookies are a available and you can see their prices, if you just...

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Trainer Stats: 15th Oct 2013

This week Andy Newton’s got three NH trainers and three flat yards to look out for…… Read more

Trainer Stats: 1st October 2013

Nigel-Twiston-Davies-001

Cheer up Nigel - Your Horses Are Winning!

Andy Newton's got 3 NH yards and 3 flat stables to look out for this week...... Read more

Stat of the Day, 4th September 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 4th September 2013

A nice 4/1 winner for us yesterday, as Captain Royale just about got home for us after a patient ride by Barry McHugh. Barry held the horse up for a late run and waited for a gap to appear inside the final furlong.

The eventual runner-up moved to one side allowing him through and Barry steered him home to score by a neck. In hindsight, the runner-up blundered by creating the gap, but the gods were shining on us this time (we've had plenty of narrow defeats!) and the extra half from the drift in the betting was quite welcome too!

A Class 5, 6 furlong Maiden for 2 yr olds awaits us today in the...

2.20 Lingfield

Where Jeremy Noseda runs Outback Traveller, my 11/4 selection who makes only his second appearance on a racecourse after finishing 4th at 16/1 on debut 11 days ago. He was unplaced that day, but not disgraced by any means, finishing just 3 lengths adrift of the 9/2 winner (and SotD pick!) Ghazi.

Jeremy Noseda's horses regularly improve on their second run, especially when unplaced on debut, but not beaten out of sight ie finishing within 10 lengths of the winner. His record in the last three seasons with such horses is 16 winners from 43, that's a strike rate of 37.2% generating level stakes profits of 22.4pts, or 52.1% of stakes invested. The vast majority (14 of them) of those 16 odds winners fell into the Evens to 7/1 or under odds range, where the stats read 14 winners from 30 (46.7%) for 32.2pts (+107.2% ROI).

Outback Traveller cost 92,000 gns and is closely related to quite a few winners, notably including his half-brother Monsieur Chevalier who won six times and made the frame twice from just 9 runs as a 2yr old, including victories in Listed company and a Group 3 success, ending that season on a mark of 109.

Our selection showed plenty of promise on debut at Newmarket, despite being unfancied (sent off at 16/1), that was over a similar 6f trip, but the going was good to soft that day. He's expected to come on for having race experience as well as the natural progression Jeremy Noseda's horses tend to show. It is also expected that, like his relatives, he'll be better suited by today's faster conditions.

His previous race was a Class 4 race and he drops down in grade today, this is something that the Noseda yard tend to have success with too.

In the last three seasons they have had 19 winners from the 71 runners dropped in class, a strike rate of 26.8% for modest profits of 9.7pts, a return of 13.6%. However, the market tends to be a good guide with these horses dropping down, as 17 of those 19 winners were priced at 9/2 or under.

Those 17 winners priced at 9/2 or under come from a sample size of just 38, an excellent 44.7% strike rate, showing decent profits of some 21.3pts or 56.1% of stakes.

Tellingly, a combination of the two stats ie horses dropping in class for their 2nd run and priced below 5/1 SP have won 7 out of 11 times: the 63.6% strike rate giving rise to profits of 14.2pts (+129.2% ROI).

So, with the expected progression and the slightly easier task in hand, I'm happy to place a 1pt win bet on Outback Traveller at 11/4 BOG. This price seems to be the norm this morning, so I'll stick with Paddy Power and use some of yesterday's winnings, but I recommend that you...

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Stat of the Day, 12th August 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 12th August 2013

Full marks to those of you who spotted my lazy error yesterday, as Chris Catlin actually rode twice for Rae Guest at Windsor. Both were ultimately beaten, although our selection did manage to fill the runner-up berth at 3/1, jut over a length behind the winning favourite.

Monday heralds the start of a new week, so let's crack on and look at the...

7.40 Windsor

Where I advise you to take the 6/4 on offer about Regal Silk whilst you still can!

I accept that 6/4 is a little bit shorter than I usually punt at for SotD, but I feel this one may well go off at evens or even shorter than that, so there's still the possibility of some decent value, but there is enough to suggest we'll be collecting later.

Regal Silk is a 3yr old bay filly, making just her fifth start today (2271 in maidens) and her handicap debut for trainer Jeremy Noseda.

As tends to be the case, the Noseda horses are going well at present with six winners and eight others placed from just thirty in the last four weeks, earning his followers 19.2pts (+64% ROI) at SP in the process. This is no fluke, as the months of July & August have seen the yard have a career strike rate of over 20.6% from all runners. For the period 2011/13, that figure is up to 23.9% (42 winners from 176) for profits of 46.3pts (+26.3% ROI).

If, as we have today, we have a Noseda-trained runner priced below 4/1 in a handicap at this time of year, the record is 14 wins from 46 (30.43% S/R) for 11.5pts (+25% ROI) profit.

Mr Noseda's horses also tend to go well here at Windsor with 13 winners from 38 in the same 2011/13 timeframe and this 34.2% strike rate has yielded a return of some 14.63pts, or 38.5% of stakes invested. With Windsor runners priced below 5/2, those stats become 8 winners from 13 (61.54%) for 8.83pts (+67.9% ROI).

Regal Silk makes her handicap debut today, after some good displays in maiden contests, the latest of which was her first ever win, coming over today's course and distance three weeks ago. She was ridden  by Ryan Moore that day and he resumes duties here once again this evening.

As well as having good form a this time of year and a great record here at Windsor, Jeremy Noseda is also a dab hand at getting horses to win on their handicap debut, as figures of 11 winners from 48 (22.9%) in the last three seasons will testify. Thos eleven winners have helped generate level stakes profits of almost 28pts (+58.25% ROI). With horses making their handicap debut for the yard and priced below 4/1, the strike rate is near enough 30%.

All of which gives me enough faith to place my 1pt win bet on Regal Silk at 6/4 with Paddy Power. This price is still dropping, but remains available in a few places, so please...

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Stat of the Day, 2nd August 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 2nd August 2013

No flying start to August I'm afraid, as West End Lad was well beaten. No excuses to be made for him in a competitive race, other than he may have got going a little too late. That said, he still lost by over 6 lengths having drifted from my advised 5/1 out to 8/1 at the off, meaning I also got the market wrong too.

Today's selection runs in a Class 4 handicap contest over a mile on good ground and is one of nine runners expected to line up for the...

5.50 Newmarket

Today's selection is Investment Expert and there are a number of stat-based reasons why I'm siding with this one today.

1. He is trained by Jeremy Noseda, whose yard is in excellent form: six winners and three placed from fifteen in the last fortnight. The 40% strike rate producing over 30pts at SP.

2. Jeremy Noseda has an excellent record here at Newmarket on the July course with 45 winners from 211 runners (21.33%) in the last 10 years, accruing profits of 47.3pts in the process (+22.42% ROI) from all runners at all odds. That record more recently reads 18 winners from 76 in the last 4 years, a 23.7% strike rate, producing 27.6pts (+36.4% ROI) profit.

And when the money is down for one of his runners here (ie 4/1 or under), the record over the last 4 years is 13 winners from 28 (46.4%) for 17.4pts profit (+62.14% ROI)

3. Investment Expert makes his handicap debut today and in the last 4 years, the yard has had 19 winners from 94 horses making their handicap debut: a strike rate of 20.2% producing level stakes profits of 18.2 pts (+19.4% ROI) with that strike rate rising to 30% (15 from 50) with runners priced at 4/1 or under.

4. Investment Expert won last time out and is a former course and distance winner here. In fact it was his latest run a fortnight ago, when he won over C&D at 10/1. Returning C&D winners coming back to Newmarket off the back of a win last time out have a 12/52 win record (23.08%) for profits of 26.08pts (+50.2% ROI) and when we consider just those that fall into our usual SoTD odds range ie 2/1 to 11/2, then we see 9 winners from 24: a 37.5% strike rate that almost doubles your stake money with profits of 23.2pts.

So, here's the racecard for today's contest.

Investment Expert improved greatly last time out when grittily taking a C&D maiden here a fortnight ago and I think that his opening mark of 74 looks quite lenient. He runs here for an in-form yard with a good record at the track and also with handicap debutants. I think that this horse will improve again today in this company and has the best recent form of all nine runners in this race and although we're not getting rich here, a 1pt win bet at 5/2 BOG with bet365 looks a good prospect.

When I wrote this up, not all firms had prices available for this race, so I strongly advise that you...

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Stat of the Day, 29th July 2013

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 29th July 2013

We backed Dream Walker yesterday at 7/2 and he was eventually sent off as the 6/4 favourite. He didn't let his backers down either, as he took the lead with a furlong to go and kept on well to score by half a length.

Back down South today for an evening six furlong, Class 4 fillies handicap, where the ground is likely to be good / good to firm for the eleven runners contesting the...

7.30 Windsor

Jeremy Noseda's horses are going really well at present with 5 winners and 3 placed from 12 runners in the last fortnight. This is no surprise to me, however, as Jeremy does tend to be very successful at this time of year anyway.

In the 2011/13 period Jeremy has a record of 13 wins from 58 in handicap races during the months of July and August. This 22.4% strike rate is responsible for excellent profits of some 50.05pts, an ROI of 86.3% and he's currently 3/7 in handicaps this month.

Of those 58 runners above, 32 of them ran to an SP of below 6/1 and those 32 runners produced 10 winners (31.25% strike rate).

In addition to performing well at this time of year, it should also be noted that the yard has an excellent record here at Windsor too with 13 winners from 41 (31.7% SR) over the last couple of years producing 11.6pts (+28.3% ROI) and 13 winners from 36 (36.1%) producing 16.63pts (+46.2% ROI) with those runners priced below 8/1.

Jeremy has just one entrant in a handicap race today and that's here at Windsor in the guise of Maria Lombardi, who makes only her third start today.

She's clearly far less exposed than any of her rivals and was impressive when scoring at the first attempt just holding off the advances of Cape of Hope who then went on to record back to back successes. Although our selection didn't fare as well on her second outing in a 7f handicap, the drop back to today's 6f should help her again.

As a relative newcomer to handicaps, I'm not entirely convinced the handicapper has her measure just yet and she does dangerous today from a lowly weight, where she'll get 8lbs from the favourite.

The final piece of the jigsaw for me is the booking of Ryan Moore for the first time: Ryan is undoubtedly one of the sport's top jockeys and without putting any of his rivals down, I think he might just be able to squeeze a little more out of Maria Lombardi today.

As she's still a fairly unknown sort allied to her disappointing effort last time out (3rd of 4 behind Jontleman and Ceelo), we're able to get a decent price this morning. To that end, my call is a 1pt win bet on Maria Lombardi at 5/1 BOG with Ladbrokes. Other bookies are, of course, available and for the easiest way to find out what price they're offering...

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