Monday Musings: Trials and undulations

After 2,000 Guineas number ten, on Sunday we had a fifth 1,000 Guineas, again not with the most expected candidate, for Aidan O’Brien and so it went on with the Derby Trials, writes Tony Stafford. Circus Maximus (Dee Stakes), Anthony Van Dyck (Lingfield Derby Trial) and Broome (Derrinstown Stud Stakes) were all favourites when winning their Epsom preps, but Sir Dragonet, a Shergar-like winner of the Chester Vase, emphatically was not.

It’s just a year short of 40 since Shergar exploded around Chester to propel himself into Derby favouritism. My recollection of a 20-length margin was corrected by Wikepedia early this morning which relates to a 12-length win but in an article which suggests a non-racing author. I looked in vain once again for the 1980 form book!

What is not in question is the ten-length romp at Epsom for which I watched sat next to John Oaksey overlooking the old paddock there. For some reason I had been co-opted to “help” the Noble Lord but what assistance I actually provided I cannot recall. It was great of course to be at Epsom for one of the epic Derby performances.

Sir Dragonet is NOT a son of Galileo. Neither is Broome, although he is from the first crop of Galileo’s Derby winning son, Australia. Anthony van Dyck and Circus Maximus do have the standard Coolmore Galileo branding but Sir Dragonet is a son of Coolmore’s other multiple Derby winner producer, Montjeu.

Three weeks ago Sir Dragonet had never even been heard of outside his stable. When he turned up at Tipperary on April 25 he was a 14-1 debutant, ridden by Seamus Heffernan in a mile and a half maiden where another son of Camelot, the previously once-raced King Pellinore was a 4-5 shot.

In the manner of races where the ground changes to soft, the field swung around the final left-hand turn and aimed for the stands side, causing traffic problems for a number of horses, notably King Pellinor. Those who laid the odds soon knew their fate, Donnacha O’Brien giving up the ghost some way from home.

Meanwhile the stable neglected was being guided from some way behind to the inside, getting a clear run. He still needed a fair engine to sweep past the entire field to win by three clear lengths, so it was possibly a surprise that he could start as big as 13-2 for his Chester challenge 13 days later.

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This time Donnacha had the mount as Ryan Moore partnered the dual winner Norway (9-2) in a seven-horse field. O’Brien sat a long last as Dashing Willoughby set a good pace, but could be seen making very comfortable ground on the outside coming to the last half-mile of the 12-furlong test.

The result was never in doubt, Sir Dragonet drawing clear to win by eight lengths from a staying-on Norway with the rest trailing in at intervals. Sir Dragonet, despite no direct Galileo-ness, does have an element of the great sire’s bloodline as his dam, Sparrow, is a grand-daughter of Urban Sea, via Galileo’s full-sister, All Too Beautiful, herself runner-up to Ouija Board in the 2004 Oaks.

Urban Sea’s other main claim to fame of course is as dam of a second Derby winner in Sea The Stars, who for good measure also collected the 2,000 Guineas on the way. Camelot for his part, would have preceded the two now Coolmore-owned US Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify by becoming the first English Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970 bar Encke’s intervention. Encke, clean on the day, was subsequently found to have been one of the Godolphin horses under the disgraced Mahmoud Al Zarooni’s care to have traces of a steroid in his system.

It would require an £85,000 supplementary entry fee for Sir Dragonet to take his place in the Investec Derby in just short of three weeks, probably not an insurmountable problem. I think he’ll win at Epsom and as Aidan O’Brien has said since his Chester win, the colt needed to go there for his education. At no stage did he seem to need much more tuition and O’Brien’s and the Coolmore team’s seventh success in the Classic is most likely to come from him.

As mentioned before, Telecaster will also require supplementing for Epsom should he convince his owners, Castle Down Racing, by his performance in Thursday’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Over the years the Dante has been the best of the trials and to win it Telecaster, yet to race out of maiden company, will need to beat last year’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot (John Gosden and the Lloyd Webbers) and O’Brien’s Japan, for some time regarded as Ballydoyle’s prime Derby hope.

Like Anthony Van Dyck, so comfortable at Lingfield on Saturday, Japan reportedly had a minor setback around a month ago. He narrowly won the Beresford Stakes (Group 2) from stablemate Mount Everest last September but has not appeared since.

Should Telecaster come through the test on Thursday, Hughie Morrison and his owners, brother and sister Mark Weinfeld and Helena Ellingsen, will have to restore their home-bred to the race from which he was a March withdrawal, a few weeks before his promising second to Bangkok on debut at Doncaster.

As with Too Darn Hot, unable to take up his planned date at the yearling sale, Telecaster would normally have found other owners but nobody would pay the price and he was retained for 180,000gns.

The family race their fillies in the well-known name and black and white colours as Helena Springfield Ltd and they were prominent last week. On Friday their Twist ‘n’ Shake, a daughter of Kingman, romped away with a Nottingham maiden after making all the running; then on Saturday, Anapurna, by Frankel, cantered clear of her Lingfield Oaks Trial opposition under Frankie Dettori.

Afterwards, an elated John Gosden was happy to add her to his similarly-easy Cheshire Oaks heroine Mehdaayih as Oaks-bound. If O’Brien apparently has the Derby covered – unless Too Darn Hot or one of the others on Thursday argues otherwise - Gosden surely is more likely to collect a third Oaks rather than O’Brien recording number eight.

This weekend’s highlight will be the always-informative Lockinge Stakes at Newbury where the ante-post favourite is Le Brivido ahead of Magical and the wonderful Laurens. Le Brivido ran an astonishing first race for O’Brien – transferred from Andre Fabre – when third after rearing at the start at Naas, staying on strongly into third.

Le Brivido won last year’s Jersey Stakes in the colours of Prince Faisal bin Khaled and judged on that Naas comeback could be an upwardly-mobile performer for Prince Faisal and his new partner Michael Tabor.

*Exciting Flat Racehorse Syndicate Opportunity*

I was at Newmarket sales at the end of last week, and I put my hand up for one. He's nice, and I'd be very hopeful he'll provide a lot of fun. He'll be going to a new trainer to the geegeez syndicate roster, a shrewd man who performs extremely well with his sales acquisitions. The plan is to syndicate this beautifully bred, exciting and unexposed horse - who cost 525,000 guineas as a yearling - into twelve shares. Read on if this might be of interest to you...

The Horse

By top US stallion Speightstown, out of a well-related Listed-placed daughter of Galileo, it is no surprise that ELHAFEI made more than half a million as a yearling. He is a smasher, as you can see from the image below (click on it to view it full screen). He was originally sold from the prestigious October Book 1 sale at Newmarket in October 2016 and sent into training with John Gosden.

Elhafei parades before the Newmarket sale at which acquired him

Elhafei parades before the Newmarket sale at which acquired him

Owned by the al Maktoum family, he ran just five times in the colours of Sheik Hamdan's daughter. The first of those was when a four length fourth of eleven at Lingfield 18 months ago. There, he was slowly away, swung wide into the straight and finished off very well. Horses behind him that day included Kassar, subsequently a close second in a Glorious Goodwood handicap and now rated 96.

That was November 2017, after which he was put away to strengthen before coming back in the famous Alex Scott Maiden at Newmarket's Craven meeting in April last year. Sent off the 9/4 favourite, he finished fifth, beaten five lengths. In front that day were Ibraz (current OR 91) and winner Aurum (OR 100); behind were the likes of Epaulement (OR 97), Bawaasil (OR 88), and in total eight winners of 14 races subsequently.

Next up was a mile novice stakes at Newmarket in mid-May, where Elhafei finished an ostensibly disappointing 8th of 14. However, the form has turned out to be very good: winner Wadilsafa is now rated 112, second placed Herculean is rated 91, the third is rated 84, the fifth 105, the seventh 100. Elhafei was eighth. Behind him was Lexington Empire, now rated 89. The field has subsequently shared fifteen wins between nine individual horses.

Elhafei is led around the paddock before going under the hammer, Newmarket, May 2019

Elhafei is led around the paddock before going under the hammer, Newmarket, May 2019

That was Elhafei's third start and thus earned him an opening handicap mark. Racing off 74 in a seven furlong Yarmouth handicap, he finished second of twelve to Beachwalk. That horse was subsequently sold for 55,000 guineas to race in Qatar. Behind Elhafei at Yarmouth were Arigato (now rated 83); Real Estate, a winner yesterday; and Nicklaus, now rated 93. The field has since won 13 races between them.

Elhafei had just one more race for John Gosden and his previous owner, when disappointing a little in midfield behind Icart Point and the re-opposing Arigato. Icart Point is now known as Speedy Luck having been sold privately to Hong Kong.

Since that time, Elhafei has been used as a lead horse for some of Gosden's younger inmates. That tells us three things:
1 he has had no injury problems (though he has been gelded since his last run)
2 he is no slouch as he'll be leading Group-class juniors (!)
3 he is at least partially fit - as you can see from the images - meaning we'll hope to be on the track sooner rather than later

But who will train him?


The Trainer

Regular readers of will know I've always been a very keen student of trainer form, and particularly of trainer specialisms. Our chosen trainer is a dab hand with horses purchased from the sales, especially when they have low mileage and a potential kink to iron out. In the case of Elhafei, there are no kinks, though he was apparently not a 'good grubber' according to our man at Clarehaven Stables. That can happen at bigger yards where a one size fits all approach is adopted; so one needs a handler who takes the time to get to know exactly what is required to elicit improvement from a happier horse.

Step forward Michael 'Mick' Appleby. Mick is brilliant at eking out more from his horses, and I was amazed when I went through a few of his more recent sales purchases. Take a look at the below:

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Of course, there are examples of horses which haven't gone forward and that's the chance every buyer at the sales takes. We are no different. But, in purchasing a horse with form which is probably a few pounds better than it looks, and in selecting a trainer who has a proven track record of success with such types, we give ourselves the best chance of some fun!

Mick is based in Rutland, in a village called Langham, which is conveniently central for a syndicate whose members may be scattered across the land. I've not yet been to visit but hope to go in the next fortnight to see how Elhafei is settling in.


The Syndicate / Costs

Elhafei will be syndicated into twelve shares and he will race on the flat, both turf and all weather. The syndicate will run for one full year with the intention of offering him back at the same sale next year unless a unanimous vote elects to retain the horse. This way, all members know the extent of their financial outlay at the beginning, and can expect a return at the end of the term (assuming the horse is sold).

The twelve shares are available for £4,000 each. Alternatively, £2,500 up front and a further £500 on the 1st of each of August 2019, November 2019, and February 2020.

Approximate costs are as follows:

Purchase: 20,000 Guineas = £21,000, plus VAT = £25,200

Syndicate setup (VAT, bank account, registration, silks, etc) : c.£1,000

Training, keep, jockeys, racecourse travel, farrier, dentist, routine vet treatment: c.£24,000 for the year

Contingency: £2,000

Total: £48,000 excluding the VAT which will be reclaimed and used to support the funding of the syndicate.

N.B.: The horse will not be insured. Individual syndicate members have the option to insure their share if they'd like to.

Shareholders will receive a pro rata percentage of any/all prize money and sales revenue.

A full syndicate agreement is available by contacting me via the Contact Page here.


What do I get?

As well as being a fully fledged (part-) owner, your horse is your passport to the inner circle of racing. You will be able to visit the Mick Appleby yard, both on scheduled syndicate visits and, by arrangement, at other times convenient to you.

Further, you'll receive news and updates on Elhafei's progress, running plans and performance expectations (perhaps I should say aspirations - nobody has a crystal ball!).

And, of course, you'll be able to attend Elhafei's races as an owner, with all the privileges that go with that: access to the Owners' & Trainers' lounge, the parade ring and owners' viewing facilities. If/when your horse wins, you'll be able to stand in the winner's enclosure and have your photograph taken before enjoying a glass of fizz and watching a re-run of the race.

At the end of it all, we hope to have many great days at the races and memories to cherish. From any prize money won and from the sale of the horse at the end of the term, there will be a dividend payable to all twelve syndicate members representing 1/12th of the account balance. Although, as you can see above, some lucky owners in Mick's yard have enjoyed a positive return on investment, nobody should view this venture as part of an investment portfolio.

I know I don't need to say that, but I want to be absolutely clear: this syndicate is offered as a leisure activity which has some potential to offer a return. The strong balance of probabilities is that the return will be less than the entry fee; but that is not really the point. The point is that, through Elhafei and Mick, we have a chance to get a lot closer to the sport we love, to dare to dream a little, and to cheer our lad home whenever and wherever he runs.


What now?

As I've stated, there are twelve shares available. As I always do, I will be taking one; I have informal interest in four more without having mentioned this outside of a couple of chats with friends (who happen to be in other syndicates as well - you also get to hang out with me if that isn't a disincentive!!). I'd like to get the syndicate framed as quickly as possible so we can get on with the business of enjoying the ride, starting with a stable visit probably around the beginning of June.

If you have any questions, would like to view the syndicate agreement and/or if you'd like to reserve a share, please drop me a line via the contact form here. I'm really excited to be involved in a horse on the flat this season, and to have it trained by someone as capable as Mick Appleby, and to be able to share that buzz with like-minded geegeez readers.

So do get in touch if this is an opportunity for you.

Thanks for reading,


Stat of the Day, 28th March 2019

Wednesday's pick was...

3.35 Lingfield : Harry Callahan @ 7/2 BOG 3rd at 7/4 (Mid-division, headway over 4f out, led over 2f out, headed over 1f out, no extra final furlong)

Thursday's pick runs in the...

2.50 Wolverhampton :

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

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


Gantier 3/1 BOG a 6-runner, Class 4, A/W Handicap for 3yo over 1m4f on Tapeta worth £5531 to the winner...


Here we have a 3 yr old son of Frankel who seems to haven taken to the A/W quite well, finishing 2212 in four efforts so far and was only beaten the 0.75 lengths LTO 5 weeks ago here at Wolverhampton over 9.5 furlongs. He was staying on well enough that day against a short priced jolly and I think the extra 2.5 furlongs today will suit him. He's trainer John Gosden's only runner at the meeting and will be partnered by Kieran O'Neill, which I'm happy about, because...

...Gosden + O'Neill = 13 from 59 (22% SR) for 36.7pts (+62.2% ROI), from which...

  • 9 from 33 (27.3%) for 32.1pts (+97.2%) on the A/W, including...
  • 3 from 8 (37.5%) for 15.65pts (+195.7%) here at Wolverhampton, which isn't too surprising when you realise/consider that...

...John Gosden + Wolverhampton + Tapeta = 65/188 (34.6% SR) for 24.9pts (+13.3% ROI) from blindly backing all his runners here! If you wanted to be more selective, you could look at the following angles at play today...

  • sub-5/1 shots are 63/141 (44.7%) for 42.2pts (+30%) and you could realistically stop here
  • 3 yr olds are 33/97 (34%) for 12.84pts (+13.2%)
  • 21-60 days since last run = 23/53 (43.4%) for 27.9pts (+52.7%)
  • up in trip by 1 to 2.5 furlongs = 14/40 (35%) for 21.2pts (+53.1%)
  • over this 1m4f course and distance : 6/12 (50%) for 13pts (+108.3%)

...and from the above... 3yr olds sent off shorter than 5/1, 21 to 60 days after last outing are 11 from 24 (45.8% SR) for 10.7pts (+44.6% ROI), with those stepping up in trip winning 7 of 13 (53.9%) for 9.02pts (+69.4%).

And finally for today, with Mr Gosden having just one runner at this venue, it might interest some of you to know that since 2013 when sending just one runner to a track that day, those horses are 63/249 (25.3% SR) for 36pts (+14.4% ROI) profit in handicaps, from which...

  • 3 yr olds are 47/185 (25.4%) for 15.8pts (+8.54%)
  • 11-45 days since last run : 48/180 (26.7%) for 52.3pts (+29.1%)
  • prize of £8k or less : 40/168 (23.8%) for 11.89pts (+7.1%)
  • males : 42/166 (25.3%) for 38.3pts (+23.1%)
  • Class 4/5  : 35/140 (25%) for 20.71pts (+14.8%)
  • on the A/W : 30/124 (24.2%) for 13.6pts (+11%)
  • up in trip by 0.5 to 3 furlongs : 29/99 (29.3%) for 54pts (+54.6%)
  • and over this 1.5 mile trip : 6/23 (26.1%) for 5.7pts (+24.8%) us... a 1pt win bet on Gantier 3/1 BOG which was widely available at 5.35pm on Wednesday. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 2.50 Wolverhampton

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


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!

Early Season Turf Pointers

April trainers

With Cheltenham now a fading speck on the horizon our next scheduled stop is the cavalry charge of the Lincoln in only a few days time, writes Jon Shenton. The shackles of winter are off (hopefully), Spring has sprung, and the flat turf season is well and truly on the way.

It’s without doubt my favourite time of year, certainly in terms of the racing calendar. The promise of the long, warm summer nights and a plethora of punting challenges stokes the fires like no other.

Conventional wisdom is that bettors should tread very carefully in the opening few weeks of the season whilst form-lines are built. Whilst that might be true to an extent if you’re a pure race reader it is certainly of less relevance to the data driven approach that I primarily use.

Horses having long absences, an array of new talent on show and highly variable underfoot conditions all contribute to devilishly difficult puzzles. Data can be your friend and ally under these circumstances and it can give you an edge on the general population.

A sensible point to start would be evaluating trainer angles for April performance.

The below table shows the April numbers, sorted by A/E and only including the usual SP of 20/1 or shorter animals. All races since 2012 are analysed.


One can clearly delve into any of these further. It’s certainly of interest that the highly populated Fahey yard is profitable over a high volume of runners. The same applies to Gosden, O’Meara, Appleby (Charlie), Haggas and Beckett. If they’re delivering runners to the track in April, then these data give a degree of confidence that they are likely to be competitive.

In pole position, however, is the veteran trainer Mick Easterby. He will be 88 years-old at the end of this month! If at a similar age I’m lucky enough to be around, I’d be hugely disappointed to be still working (understatement!) so it surely shows the enthusiasm he has for the game. Those rich experiences over the years certainly seem to have been put to good use in getting the yard's runners blasting out of the stalls early.

The April output is impressive with an A/E of 1.61, a nice strike rate (19%) and an ROI of 41% is more than welcome.

Evaluating performance against SP there is no winner at 18/1 or 20/1 from 26 attempts so from an angle point of view I’m going to exclude those personally. I do realise entirely that this may be folly, mathematically you’d only expect 1-ish winner from 26 attempts at those odds. But given the number of angles I operate and the relatively high number of daily bets I’m always happy to be more selective and potentially leave a winner or two on the bench.

Taking the 16/1 (SP) or shorter only it leaves 129 runs, of which 123 are in handicaps of some description. The remaining half-dozen non-handicappers have failed to register a single win. It’s clearly a yard focussed more on handicap racing so I’m happy to trim the angle accordingly again.

I also want to understand if April performance is uncharacteristically positive against the rest of the year. It could be that the basis of this angle applies to other months.

The graph below effectively puts the notion of strong other periods of the year to bed. It overwhelmingly illustrates the peak month for Easterby is April, with spikes in both win and placed rates in the month. It’s generally downhill from there as the season progresses.


Finally, to understand the consistency of the potential angle, a check of performance by year is helpful. Doing so we get the following split:


29 wins from 123 runs, 1.79 A/E with a 78% ROI. That’ll do for me. With no fallow year since 2014 this goes into my active angles as one to follow. Ordinarily these should go through a bit of testing before committing, but where’s the fun in that? I’ll be live with this in April, trying to get early prices. A high volume, small stakes approach mitigates the risk to some degree and enhances the entertainment value exponentially!

Back Mick Easterby in April handicaps at 16/1 or less on turf

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Working down the list sequentially, the second-best performer in terms of A/E is John Quinn. The Yorkshire stable is a powerhouse of racing in the North. Around two thirds of his April runs are on relatively local Yorkshire tracks.
Starting with the April performance vs. rest of year this time we have the following by win strike rate:


On the chart I have marked the April data point with a red circle. Like Mick Easterby, it is clearly a landmark month for the stable.

A point of note, the March number is only representative of a handful of runners (15), and the same applies to November’s apparently phenomenal peak (17) so it’s easy ignore these months given the paucity of data.

Also, like the Easterby angle there is no winner at 18/1 to 20/1 so a small snip to the criteria to only take account of SP’s 16/1 or shorter is my personal choice. Looking at the annual performance there are two poor yyear, 2013 and 2014, which weirdly are also the same as Easterby. It might be that those were particularly cold or wet springs, leaving the horses a little short in their work, though that is no more than conjecture.



I’ve poked around looking for other trends or items of note with these data. In truth though, nothing stands out and there is usually little point in forcing it, such efforts usually leading to at least a degree of backfitting. Simple is best.

Back John Quinn runners at 16/1 or less on turf in April


Maiden & Novices

The onset of a new season means an absolute battalion of untried, untested and unraced 2YO’s will all hit the track for the first time. Like a lot of readers I don’t generally play in this type of race. Paddock judging is out personally, aside from worldly insight such as “that’s a big horse” and “that one looks a bit fired up” I have nothing to offer in this field, though I very much respect those who can read the confirmation, maturity and fitness of these babies. I have limited sources (i.e. none) of yard and course chat so the only thing in my armoury is my old mate, data.

From 2012 to date there have been no less than 14,911 horses making their racetrack debuts on turf as two-year olds in maiden or novice races. Changes to the novice programme in 2017 do make individual analyses on Maidens or Novice races more difficult on a like for like basis which is the reason that I’ve compiled them together.

This time I’m going to evaluate yards with a high number of runners, searching for the good and the not so good. The relatively massive table below shows first time out trainer performance in maiden and novices from 2012 onwards. I have elected to leave an SP filter out of the equation for this data set. The logic behind that is with debutants you could argue that the market is more likely to get it wrong and big priced winners could be more prevalent. This may or may not be true but that is the rationale for leaving the data as “pure” as possible.


As you might expect, there are some wild variations in performance. Firstly, the ones to potentially avoid, out at least around which to be wary.

Messrs Bell, Stoute and Easterby (Tim not Mick!) have a quite frankly appalling record under these conditions. In fact, the volume of combined winners is of such paucity that I can add it up confidently in my head without consulting any technology.

41 wins from 743 runners (I did have to check the runner number with a calculator). A strike rate of just 5.6%, with a combined loss of about 46% in terms of ROI. Good luck with that!

Of course, we know that SMS famously nurtures his charges along at a careful pace, so it makes complete sense for him to be here. The others are possibly more surprising. Geegeez Gold is of huge assistance in alerting you to these red flags on the trainer icon on the racecard, showing FTO performance of that trainer for the last two years.

Back to the macro-level data in the table relating to the last 6 years. The only trainers eking out a profit in the list are John Gosden and Andrew Balding. Gosden has the most impressive strike rate, 18.6%, on the table too. I must confess, I did find this a tad surprising so with a degree of curiosity I investigated it further.

Zooming in on monthly performance is logical in my mind. The early season calendar is rife with sprints. Short distance blasts are not something you’d ordinarily associate Johnny G with so might expect performance to be less positive early in the season in maidens/novices;

Sure enough, volume of runners, strike rate and ROI all improve as we  move into and through through the hot summer (ha ha). Indeed, Too Darn Hot (August), Cracksman (October) and Coronet (September) all prevailed on their debut run in recent years.

In general terms you might think that Gosden’s strong hand of 2YO’s will be focussed towards the future, and specifically their 3YO campaigns. In fact, it’s quite common that he waits until his charges are three before giving them their first run: La Ti Dar is perhaps the best recent case in point.

To be honest, despite knowing all this there is not enough here to generate a sufficiently strong angle for me. I have evaluated race class, sex of horse and a number of other variables but there is nothing of huge significance. That said, I’d always be very mindful of a Gosden debutant once we get beyond the summer solstice and maybe play on that basis, but it’s certainly not for me in terms of a discreet “system” to run with.

Given the sheer heft of runners (633) and the worthy A/E attainment (0.99) it would be slightly remiss not to comment on the Fahey operation a bit further. In a similar way to Gosden it’s hard to find a robust angle to recommend although there are some clues and pointers worth drawing out.

Firstly, the earlier in the season the better as the graph illustrates, April and May are very strong in comparison to the rest of the year.


There is also interest when evaluating at the SP’s of all the stable's Maiden and Novice runs. The line graph below illustrates the cumulative profit or loss position by SP. In basic terms it shows that it is most profitable if Fahey’s first time out animals have been backed to 4/1 or shorter. Virtually every banding bigger than that is loss making.


Backing all 4/1 or shorter runners would result in a £26 profit to a £1 level stake (represented by the green arrow on the graph), whereas backing all 9/2 or greater would return a £97 loss (red arrow on the graph). We know two things about Fahey Maiden and Novice performance. Firstly, April and May performance is good. Secondly, horses at 4/1 or shorter are profitable. So, if we take April/May runners at 4/1 or shorter at SP I’d be optimistic we’ll find a reasonable angle. The table below gives us our answer:

There we have it. A small number of prospective bets, and at 4/1 or shorter it should be relatively low risk if unspectacular. It’s not really my sort of usual angle or bet (I tend to favour Hollywood odds long shots) but if you are inclined to have a bet in a maiden and novice race a short priced backed Fahey charge in the spring wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Back Richard Fahey First time out horses at 4/1 or shorter in Maiden/Novice races in April and May


I hope in the above I've offered a few potential pointers for success at the start of the British flat turf season. Do feel free to play around with Query Tool on some of the other names in the big tables, and leave a comment if you find anything of note.

- Jon Shenton

Stat of the Day, 23rd August 2018

Wednesday's Pick was...

2.25 York : Persian Moon @ 5/1 BOG 3rd at 10/3 (Tracked leader, raced keenly, led over 2f out, hung left under pressure inside final furlong, headed closing stages, no extra)

Thursday's pick goes in the...

3.35 York :

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

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


Coronet 6/1 BOG

In an 8-runner, Group 1 contest for Fillies and Mares (Darley Yorkshire Oaks) for 3yo+ over 1m4f on Good To Firm ground worth £198485 to the winner...


Yes, I know that there's a well fancied short priced favourite here, but I do like the chances of this older horse to upset the odds at a nice price. Like last year's winner Enable, who she was the runner-up to, she has come here from the King George at Ascot and her career stats include...

  • 3 wins from 4 under Frankie Dettori
  • 2 wins from 4 on good to firm
  • a win and that runner-up finish last year from 2 runs here at York
  • and she's got winning form over this trip

Like last year's winner, she is trained by John Gosden (who by default therefore had the 1-2 in this race last time with Frankie riding the winner) and John's horses have been running well for a while now, including...

  • over the last 30 days : 19 from 63 (30.2% SR)
  • over the past fortnight : 10/28 (35.7%)
  • and during the last week : 5/15 (33.3%)

More generally over the last seven (including this one) seasons, Mr Gosden's runners are 25 from 106 (23.6% SR) for 12.9pts (+12.1% ROI) on this track, including of relevance today...

  • at odds of 15/8 to 9/1 : 19/74 (25.7%) for 35pts (+47.3%)
  • at Class 1 : 18/72 (25%) for 8.02pts (+11.1%)
  • over trips of 10.5 to 12 furlongs : 19/58 (32.8%) for 35.6pts (+61.4%)
  • females are 12/38 (31.6%) for 6.05pts (+15.9%)
  • in female only races : 12/33 (36.4%) for 11.05pts (+33.5%)
  • on Good to Firm : 9/32 (28.1%) for 17.2pts (+53.7%)
  • those ridden by Frankie Dettori are 10/30 (33.3%) for 11.1pts (+37.1%)
  • 4 yr olds are 8/30 (26.7%) for 6.68pts (+22.3%)
  • over 1m4f : 6/22 (27.3%) for 14.1pts (+63.9%)

And prior to the start of this year's Festival, Frankie's record over the previous three Ebor meetings in Class 1 non-handicap races stood at 6 wins from 26 (23.1% SR) for 10.93pts profit at an ROI of 42.1%, including 3 wins from 11 (27.3%) for 2.01pts (+18.3%) on those trained by John Gosden... us...a 1pt win bet on Coronet 6/1 BOGa price offered by most firms (as at 5.50pm on Wednesday). To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 3.35 York

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


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!

Stat of the Day, 13th July 2018

Thursday's Pick was...

8.10 Epsom : Related @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 10/3 (In rear, outpaced over 3f out, ridden and kept on inside final furlong, took 4th near finish, never nearer)

Friday's pick goes in the...

3.00 Newmarket :

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

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


Wissahickon @ 11/4 BOG

In a 9-runner, Class 2, Flat Handicap for 3yo over 1m2f on Good To Firm ground worth £49800 to the winner...


Just the fifth career start for this potentially very smart 3 yr old Colt who has 3 wins and a runner-up finish so far from his four previous outings. He made his turf debut LTO 13 days ago, winning a similar Class 2 contest on Good to Firm ground over slightly further than today at York and I was waiting for him to reappear today : the fact that Frankie Dettori now jumps on board is an added bonus.

He's trained by John Gosden whose record on the July track is impressive with 54 winners from 270 (20% SR) for 130.5pts (+48.3% ROI) profit since the start of the 2012 season, from which...

  • 3 yr olds are 30/141 (21.3%) for 44.5pts (+31.6%)
  • on Good to Firm ground : 28/128 (21.9%) for 79.7pts (+62.3%)
  • in 3yo only races : 18/96 (18.8%) for 32.4pts (+33.7%)
  • at Class 2 : 8/32 (25%) for 24.6pts (+76.8%)
  • tilting at prizes worth £25k to £50k : 7/21 (33,3%) for 45pts (+214.3%)
  • and with horses rated (OR) in the narrow 99-104 banding : 7/12 (58.3%) for 13.3pts (+110.9%)

And more generally away from this particular track, Mr Gosden's Flat (turf) runners who were LTO winners have gone on to win again on 144 of 470 (30.6% SR) occasions since the start of the 2014 season, clocking up profits of 156.4pts (+33.3% ROI) for those backing all of them. Those not wishing to blanket bet them might prefer one or more of the following angles...

  • on Good to Firm ground : 51/162 (31.5%) for 61.6pts (+38%)
  • ridden by Frankie Dettori : 57/149 (38.3%) for 51.5pts (+34.6%)
  • competing for a prize worth £30k to £100k : 39/126 (31%) for 118.7pts (+94.2%)
  • over trips of 9 to 10.5 furlongs : 50/125 (40%) for 59.6pts (+47.7%)
  • racing after a break of less than 3 weeks : 33/120 (27.5%) for 60.5pts (+50.4%)
  • and in July : 18/49 936.7%) for 61.5pts (+38.6%) us...a 1pt win bet on Wissahickon @ 11/4 BOGa price available from Betfair, Betfred, Paddy Power & Totesport at 5.10pm on Thursday with plenty of 5/2 BOG available elsewhere. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 3.00 Newmarket

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


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!

Harrington filly shines brightest at Royal Ascot

John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O’Brien completed a hugely successful Royal Ascot, though it was arguably Irish racing royalty Jess Harrington, that stole the show.

Better known for exploits during the winter months, Harrington is responsible for this summer’s ‘wonder-filly’ Alpha Centauri. Runner-up in last year’s Albany Stakes, this powerfully built three-year-old now stands head and shoulders above her peers. Destructive in the Irish 1000 Guineas a month ago, she was simply magnificent on Friday, when annihilating a high-class field to take the Group One Coronation Stakes, giving her trainer a first Royal Ascot success.

Sent to the front over a furlong out by Colm O’Donoghue, this mighty filly simply powered clear, storming through the line in record time. Mark Johnston’s Threading backed up her stunning performance at York, with another terrific effort, though was simply no match for the outstanding winner, some six lengths back in second. Newmarket Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook lacked the gears to land a blow, though battled on bravely for fourth.

“I’m relieved because I definitely got very wound up,” Harrington said. “I was nervous today. I know she was very good. We were under the radar in the Irish Guineas, whereas today, there we are as the favourite and we are there to be shot at.

“The ground is key to her. As you can see there, she is a very big filly, she weighs 520kgs. I think when she is on soft ground she physically can’t get her feet out. What she wants is good ground. She is a big striding filly and Colm did not want to break her stride at all.”

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There’s no doubting that this was a hugely impressive performance from a filly who looks more than capable of taking on, and beating, the boys at a mile.

The opening day of the meeting had belonged to John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. The dynamic duo struck a stunning trio of victories, with Without Parole the highlight in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes. Dettori struck for home nearing the furlong mark, and though Gustav Klimt closed him down late on, the victory never looked in doubt. Calyx had shown his class earlier in the day, when winning despite being drawn on the wrong side of the track. This is a hugely talented juvenile son of Kingman and looks a thrilling prospect.

Stradivarius was another terrific winner for the pair as he out-battled French raider Vazirabad to win the Gold Cup. Having already landed the Yorkshire Cup, you can imagine this fella going through the campaign unbeaten in top level staying events.

It came as something of a surprise when Gosden’s star performer Cracksman, could only manage a second-place spot in the Prince Of Wales’s. The quick ground may not have been ideal, as he had no answer to the speed of Sir Michael Stoute’s Poet’s Word. The pair pulled well clear of the remainder in a quick time, with the five-year-old winner yet again proving just how good the trainer is at improving these middle-distance types.

To show he’s not just a master with progressive older horses, Stoute sent out the winner of the Commonwealth Cup, when Eqtidaar caused something of an upset in defeating Sands Of Mali. The winner ran a cracker, though it was the runner-up that caught the eye, and was arguably unlucky not to have get up late on. Fahey’s three-year-old looks a class act and could be the one to take out of this race as the season unfolds.

Stoute has an outstanding record in the Hardwicke Stakes and it was no surprise to see his classy Crystal Ocean land the Group Two with something to spare. This fella looks capable of taking on the very best mid-distance types throughout the season.

Team Ballydoyle rarely leave these events empty handed, and on this occasion it was an O’Brien sprinter that shone brightest for the yard. Merchant Navy had proved top class in Oz and has carried that promise to the next level for his new trainer. The three-year-old showed real guts to hold off the French-trained City Light in a thrilling finish to the Diamond Jubilee. Harry Angel was the disappointment of the race. Following a shocking start, he was never able to become competitive, and was eased down some way out. He’s now nought from five at the track.

Magic Wand was another success for Ballydoyle. She seemed to outstay Wild Illusion when comfortably winning the Ribblesdale Stakes. With Oaks winner Forever Together skipping the event, Charlie Appleby’s filly had been sent off the favourite. She put in a solid performance, though maybe a drop back to a mile-and-a-quarter would suit.

Despite winners being tricky to find at times, the Royal Meeting completely lived up to the hype. The best in the business came and conquered, with a special lady from Ireland rather fittingly providing a moment of pure majesty.

Flat Racing Elite set for Royal Meeting

It’s more than likely that the usual suspects will be celebrating another successful Royal Ascot.

And that’s to be expected, at a meeting where major players send their ‘big guns’. For sure, the best from Ireland and the UK will be in attendance. There’ll be a scattering of French flair, and add to that a dash of American and Australian power to maximise the international flavour.

Charlie Appleby and John Gosden appear the form duo from the home nation. The former can do no wrong, with Godolphin reaping the benefits. John Gosden has suffered an early season blow, with Enable currently on the sidelines. Nevertheless, he has a powerful team primed to inflict maximum mayhem, aided by a cocky Italian with a perfect sense of occasion.

Aidan O’Brien is sure to hold a strong hand and regularly leaves the Royal meeting as the leading trainer, though punters should resist the temptation of blindly following Ballydoyle contenders. This gathering isn’t like Cheltenham or Punchestown, where following Willie Mullins automatically leads to winners. Aidan and the boys are the dominant force on the flat, but opposition at Royal Ascot is exceptionally strong.

Andre Fabre and Jean-Claude Rouget tend to send a handful of challengers across the Channel, with a certain amount of success. Le Brivido landed the Jersey Stakes for Fabre 12 months ago, whilst Rouget’s Qemah took the Duke Of Cambridge.

Wes Ward will again lead an American assault, hoping that Lady Aurelia can achieve a trio of Royal Ascot victories. Whilst Redkirk Warrior arrives from Australia with the Diamond Jubilee Stakes the likely target.

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So just who are the leading contenders from the sports elite?

Ballydoyle appear to have a hugely talented contingent, with serious challengers in numerous events. Rhododendron landed the Lockinge last time and is the current favourite for the opening race of the meeting, the Queen Anne Stakes. She’s a class act and looks sure to go close. O’Brien has had plenty of success in the Gold Cup over recent years and will have Order Of St George primed for another crack at the prize. He won the race in 2016 and went down by just a short-head to Big Orange 12 months ago.

O’Brien’s youngsters tend to make their mark at the Royal Meeting and this year’s crop look a talented bunch. Sergei Prokofiev is favourite for the Coventry Stakes following a stunning victory at Naas last time. This son of Scat Daddy is thought to be an outstanding prospect. Also renowned for producing high class fillies, O’Brien appears to have another classy duo in Fairyland and Just Wonderful. Both could line up in the Queen Mary Stakes.

Returning three-year-olds Clemmie and Sioux Nation are also expected to go well. The former was one of the yard’s best juveniles and would have needed the run when beaten in the Irish Guineas recently. The latter is a speedy son of Scat Daddy out of an Oasis Dream mare. He’s one of the best looking colts in training, and is currently favourite for the Commonwealth Cup.

John Gosden has some of the greatest flat racing talent in his Newmarket stable. His Arc heroine, Enable, is currently out of action, but he has a sensational replacement in Cracksman. The Champion Stakes winner will be lining up in the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and is rated 7lb higher than his only serious rival, Godolphin’s Benbatl.

Gosden also has Without Parole heading the market for the St James’s Palace Stakes. I must confess that I’m not a fan. He beat a handicapper at Yarmouth in April and barely scraped home in a listed event at Sandown last time. Though this looks quite a weak renewal, I’d still fancy something from the English or Irish Guineas to have a little more class than Gosden’s fella.

The trainer does have a huge chance of lifting the Gold Cup, thanks to the talented and gutsy four-year-old Stradivarius. He has Order Of St George to beat, and one can envisage a pulsating finish with little to choose between the pair.

Lah Ti Dar missed the Oaks at Epsom but is expected to make the start for the Ribblesdale. She’ll likely have Oaks runner-up Wild Illusion to beat, though quick ground would certainly help her cause. She’s looked talented thus far, though this is a far tougher assignment.

Gosden also has a couple of classy juveniles in the yard in Calyx and Legends Of War. It seems that only the former will now be taking on Ballydoyle’s Sergei Prokofiev in the Coventry Stakes, though the clash remains a mouth-watering one.

The Andre Fabre-trained Wind Chimes is set to take her chance in the Group One Coronation Stakes. Just touched off in the French 1000 Guineas by David Simcock’s Teppal, she was possibly a little unlucky that day, and there’s every chance she’ll reverse that form. She ought to go very close.

Along with Lady Aurelia, Wes Ward is likely to send Moonlight Romance and Shang Shang Shang for the juvenile events. Bound For Nowhere looks a live contender for the Diamond Jubilee having finished fourth in the Commonwealth Cup last year. And Undrafted looks an interesting entrant in the Wokingham Stakes. He took the Group One Diamond Jubilee back in 2015 and was only a couple of lengths back in sixth a year later. Though now an eight-year-old, he remains a classy type and will run off a mark of 103.

Expect thrilling clashes between some of flat racing’s most powerful yards, at the sports most prestigious event. Jump racing has Cheltenham, whilst the Flat has Royal Ascot. It’s as simple as that.

Stat of the Day, 14th June 2018

Wednesday's Pick was...

3.20 Chelmsford : Danzay @ 3/1 BOG 3rd at 5/2 (Held up mid-division, one pace when switched outside over 1f out, soon ridden, went 3rd and kept on inside final furlong, not pace to trouble front pair)

We continue with Thursday's...

4.10 Yarmouth :

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

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


Glencadam Master @ 3/1 BOG non-runner heavily backed to as low as 7/4 in places, then withdrawn at 9.18am Reason: Self Cert (Not Eaten Up)

A 9-runner, Class 4 handicap for 3yo over 1m on Good To Firm worth £5531 to the winner...


This 3 yr old gelding is making just his 7th start today and just his third at this trip, having won on his first attempt before finishing as a runner-up LTO 12 days ago. He was headed late on in the piece on soft ground it is hoped/expected that quicker conditions here will help, as should the change of jockey, which is interesting.

The actual placing of this horse into this contest and the associated conditions drew me to the selection rather than his won past form and it all centres around the trainer John Gosden and his shy retiring jockey, a certain Mr Dettori. Let me explain more in numbers!

...over the last 30 days...

  • Mr Gosden is 25 from 83 (30.1% SR)
  • Mr Dettori is 9 from 34 (26.5%)
  • and together they are 6/15 (40%)

...the last fortnight...

  • trainer = 8/29 (27.6%)
  • jockey = 5/13 (38.5%)
  • together = 3/3 9100%)

and the last week?

  • trainer is 5/15 (33.3%)
  • jockey is 3/8 (37.5%)
  • together : 2/2 (100%)

Now, there are probably very few surprises there, but they do suggest that although both are in great form, they're better as a partnership.

Which now brings me to this horse in this race. John Gosden has three runners today, but only one here at Yarmouth, whilst Frankie makes the admittedly relatively short journey to the seaside for just this one ride : he has nothing else anywhere today. I might be overplaying that angle, but  who knows? After all it's only a Class 4 handicap worth less than £6k!

Yarmouth has been very good for Mr Gosden over the years and since the start of the 2015 campaign, his runners are 16 from 43 (37.2% SR) for 31.7pts profit (+73.7 ROI), from which...

  • on good to firm : 14/29 (48.3%) for 38.2pts (+111.5%)
  • males : 11/26 (42.3%) for 16.2pts (+62.2%)
  • 3 yr olds : 10/21 (47.6%) for 32.3pts (+153.8%)
  • Class 4 : 6/21 (28.6%) for 2.6pts (+12.4%)
  • at 7/2 and shorter : 12/19 (63.2%) for 14.9pts (+78.4%)
  • over the 1m C&D : 6/19 (31.6%) for 12pts (+63%)
  • in handicaps : 5/12 (41.7%) for 30.5pts (+254.5%)
  • ridden by Frankie Dettori : 7/10 (70%) for 7.93pts (+79.3%)
  • John's only runner at the track that day : 4/10 (40%) for 12pts (+120%)
  • Frankie's only ride at the track that day : 3/3 9100%) for 2.48pts (+82.7%)
  • and John's only runner at the track & ridden by Frankie = 1/1 (100%) for 0.48pts (+48%)

And this simple stripped back approach is enough to satisfy me today...

...and reinforces the placing of...a 1pt win bet on Glencadam Master @ 3/1 BOGwhich was widely available at 6.10pm on Wednesday evening, although Ladbrokes were slightly better at 10/3  BOG for those able to take advantage. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 4.10 Yarmouth

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


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!

Can a Young Rascal sink the mighty Saxon Warrior?

Having landed the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Saxon Warrior is a short-priced favourite to give Aidan O’Brien his fifth Epsom Derby in seven years.

The latest Ballydoyle sensation is looking to emulate Camelot in landing the Guineas-Derby double and has been treading a virtually identical path. Both captured the Racing Post Trophy as juveniles prior to winning the Newmarket Classic on seasonal debut at three. Camelot arrived at Epsom with an unblemished record of three victories from three runs, whilst Saxon Warrior heads for the Derby having won all four outings to date. Even the BHA struggled to separate them at this stage of their careers, with Camelot rated at 121 and Saxon W coming here off a mark of 120.

There’s little doubt that this year’s Derby favourite holds all the right credentials to complete the celebrated double. He’s by the Japanese racing sensation Deep Impact. Peerless at home, the colt came a close third in the 2006 Arc and has found similar success as a stallion. On the dam’s side we have yet another Galileo mare, in the 2012 Oaks fifth Maybe. The pedigree suggests the trip will be ideal, indeed, Ballydoyle have hinted that the St Leger may well be targeted should all go well at Epsom. His Guineas success coupled with the continued positive reports from the stable, points to a huge run from Saxon Warrior. He’ll take some beating.

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Dermot Weld won the Derby with Harzand in 2016 and is represented by close relative Hazapour. He landed the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time, travelling powerfully throughout and showing the better turn of foot to defeat a couple of O’Brien runners in Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon. All three reoppose, though I fancy they’ll finish the Derby in a slightly different order. Of the trio I’m inclined to favour Delano Roosevelt, who finished particularly well last time. He’s a lovely imposing colt and his pedigree suggests he’ll enjoy a little juice in the ground.

Roaring Lion takes on Saxon Warrior for the third time and is currently two-nil down. He showed plenty of zip when winning a slowly run renewal of the Dante Stakes at York, though there must be a concern that the ground at Epsom (currently soft) will blunt that speed. The pace of the race is also likely to be far more testing, with the keen front-runner Knight To Behold likely to set decent fractions. Gosden won this race with Golden Horn in 2015, but I’m not convinced that this fella has what it takes.

Wings Of Eagles won at 40s last year, but it’s usually the fancied contenders that prevail in the Derby. Nine of the last 10 renewals went to horses priced at 7/1 or shorter, so in searching for the winner we ought to focus on those at the front end of the market.

One colt that looked to have huge potential when winning the Chester Vase is the William Haggas-trained Young Rascal. He’s by Intello, himself a son of Galileo, out of a Clodovil mare. The pedigree suggests that he’ll love conditions and though his inexperience is a concern, that run at Chester could prove invaluable. Despite his size, he coped admirably with the sharp turns that day and though I fancy Epsom will not be ideal, his raw talent could see him running a huge race. The Haggas team are in sparkling form, as is race jockey James Doyle.

The aforementioned Knight To Behold also lacks experience and may need to settle better than he did at Lingfield last time. He was an impressive winner of the Derby Trial that day but is sure to have more company at Epsom, with Ballydoyle likely to sacrifice one of their five runners at the front end. Nevertheless, this son of Sea The Stars looks a talented sort and may be capable of landing a place at decent odds.

Despite finishing third in the 2000 Guineas, Masar appears to have been written off by many. Currently best-priced at 25/1, this son of New Approach out of a Cape Cross mare ought to be suited by the step-up in trip. The ground may have gone against him, though his form looks as strong as any bar the favourite. Godolphin have a rotten record in the Epsom Derby, but this fella certainly has a chance if coping with conditions.

It’s difficult to see past Saxon Warrior and everything points to him prevailing. Nevertheless, I’ll be putting a few quid on Young Rascal as I believe he has the potential to put in a huge performance. Delano Roosevelt looks best of the remaining Ballydoyle battalion. Good luck to those having a punt.

Emblazoned can show that Gosden feels the need for speed

Haydock play host to the sprinters on Saturday, with a pair of competitive looking Group Two’s.

The Temple Stakes at five furlongs and the Sandy Lane at six, regularly attract elite speedsters, with both races having been won by the best in the business.

The Temple Stakes was established in 1965 and was run at Sandown until 2008. Its roll of honour is a thing of beauty, containing the names of sprinting legends. Dayjur was victorious as a three-year-old in 1990. Considered by many as the best, he went on to win the King’s Stand, the Nunthorpe and then the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp. Had he not famously ‘jumped the shadow’ in his final start in America, he would have surely added the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

In contrast, Lochsong was virtually drawing her pension when winning this race as a six-year-old. Ian Balding turned this moderate performer into a world beater during the 93/94 campaigns. During a golden period, this beast of a mare landed the Temple Stakes, the King’s Stand, the Abbaye twice and the Nunthorpe.

Sole Power was one of the modern-day sprinting sensations. On a going day, this diminutive star had a devastating turn of foot, with a running style (held up to the last moment) that made him thrilling to watch. He landed the Temple Stakes in 2012 and twice won the Nunthorpe and the King’s Stand.

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Though also a Group Two, it’s fair to say that the Sandy Lane Stakes lacks the kudos of the Temple. That’s understandable as the race is only open to three-year-olds rather than established sprinters. Nevertheless, Quiet Reflection and Harry Angel won the last two renewals prior to dominant campaigns at six furlongs. The launch of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot has given this event a shot in the arm. It’s now seen by many trainers as the perfect prep for the race at the Royal Meeting.

Battaash is the star attraction at tomorrow’s meeting, as he attempts to defy a penalty to land the Temple Stakes. This is the seasonal debut for the four-year-old, so there’s likely room for improvement. It’s his performance in the Prix de l’Abbaye at the end of his three-year-old campaign that has everyone so excited. He demolished a classy field by four lengths at Chantilly and if arriving at Haydock in that sort of form, will surely take all the beating.

The field looks a strong one, and the result is no formality. Kachy, Muthmir, Mabs Cross and three-year-old Havana Grey, are certainly no mugs. Several of these will head to Royal Ascot for the King’s Stand Stakes and Battaash will need to bring his ‘A game’ if he is to prevail.

I’ve decided to steer clear of the Temple for tomorrow’s tip, and instead focus on the six-furlong Sandy Lane Stakes. There’s no standout contender for this, though the quality of this year’s renewal remains high.

We currently have three runners at the head of the market. Clive Cox knows a thing or two about producing top-class sprinters, and may have another in the yard, with the talented filly Heartache. She was certainly one of the leading juveniles, winning the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and finishing the season with a victory in the Flying Childers at Doncaster. Those wins came at five-furlongs, though she finished strongly on both occasions, hinting that a step up to six would not be an issue. She looks a classy sort and should go well.

Invincible Army is also to the forefront of the betting and has the advantage of already having had a run. He was an impressive winner of a Group Three at Ascot earlier in the month, following on from a successful juvenile campaign. Runner-up in the Molecomb, the Gimcrack and the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes, he consistently performed at a high level and looked a horse likely to strengthen into an already powerful frame. Tough and consistent, I’m not sure he has the ‘wow factor’, though he looks sure to be in the shake-up.

Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan have had a cracking start to the season and in Sands Of Mali have an intriguing contender. He disappointed in his final starts as a juvenile, having comfortably beaten Invincible Army at York in the Gimcrack. He was hugely impressive that day on the Knavesmire, dominating from the front and staying on powerfully to fend off all-comers. There was no fluke about the result, and a repeat of that sort of performance would surely see him go very close. He has a run in France under his belt, so ought to strip fighting fit.

James Garfield drops back in trip following a decent performance in the Guineas. He defeated Invincible Army in last year’s Mill Reef Stakes, though there was little between the pair. This trip may be as sharp as he needs, as I’m not convinced that he has tons of natural speed. Nevertheless, he has a terrific attitude and will be battling on bravely in the latter stages. I have the feeling that he’s vulnerable to a speedier type.

John Gosden is not known for producing sprinters, but he has an interesting contender in Emblazoned. By Invincible Spirit out of a Bahamian Bounty mare, he looked very exciting when winning at Yarmouth last time. Unraced at two, it’s impossible to say whether he can mix-it at this level against horses that proved their ability as juveniles. Nevertheless, he looked a colt of huge potential last time. And in a race where many appear to be of a similar standard, this fella may possess star quality.

Barraquero and Unfortunately cannot be dismissed, as they also possess strong juvenile form. The former landed the Richmond Stakes before a shin problem curtailed his juvenile campaign. Karl Burke’s colt won the Group One Prix Morny prior to a disappointing run in the Middle Park Stakes. Both look capable of a big run in this hugely competitive renewal.

Whoever lands this prize will become one of the favourites for the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot. I fancy Sands Of Mali will go close, but I’m going to take a chance with Emblazoned. Though not known for his sprinters, Gosden’s colt is bred for the game and could be special. Best of luck to those having a punt.

Power and the Glory – Mullins, Henderson and Cracksman are Weekend Wonders

The curtain came down on another Jumps season with familiar trainers crowned King on either side of the Irish Sea.

There’s no doubting that Gordon Elliott has made great strides and is now a serious threat to the Mullins dominance. He does, however, still lack the quality that will finally see him fulfilling the dream of a trainers’ title. He needs several more Samcro’s if he is to wrestle the title from his rival. This was blindingly evident at Punchestown, as Mullins monopolised Grade One events thanks to the likes of Un De Sceaux, Bellshill, Faugheen and Footpad.

The Closutton master was clearly relieved, saying: “It’s nice to do it. It’s tough, as I feel for Gordon. He’s had a fantastic year and he was hoping this year would be his year. Certainly coming out of here on Tuesday evening I thought our chance was totally gone. It’s a little bit cruel, but I suppose Gordon has ended the year with over 200 winners and over 5 million euro in prize-money, so it’s probably not too bad! I’m happy to win it and I’m very happy for my staff. It’s great competition and great for racing. It’s been a huge narrative throughout the year and it’s better for the game.”

Whilst the Elliott/Mullins battle went down to the wire, over here in the UK Nicky Henderson has surged clear of the pack. Buveur D’Air, Might Bite and the phenomenon that is Altior, ensured that Henderson scooped the major pots. Paul Nicholls was again, best of the rest, though he continues to struggle in his search for new stars. Politologue was impressive at times, though lacks the X-factor. Clan Des Obeaux is a horse of huge potential and may be one for the King George at Christmas.

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Henderson was thrilled to land the title and said of his powerful battalion: “They have delivered. Like always, you have your ups and downs and it started with downs before ups when we had to stop with Altior. That was a pity, really, as it took him out of the first half the season and it was a rush to get him ready for Cheltenham, but it has been good. It has been a long, wet winter and it has been hard work, but I’ve got a great team that has in some ways swam their way through it and we are now out at the other end.

“Everything was good, the horses have been good across the board. Might Bite, Altior and Buveur D’Air had to show up again and they did, within reason. It’s not been easy (winning the title once more). Cheltenham was good and that put us at a bit of an advantage and plenty more came in at Aintree. It wasn’t until the Scottish National was over, that is when we thought we were safe.”

Of the big three he said: “I think Might Bite’s performance at Aintree was the outstanding moment as he came back from such a battle at Cheltenham (runner-up in the Gold Cup) and to come back from that was a great performance. Altior (Champion Chase) and Buveur D’Air (Champion Hurdle) were great at Cheltenham and if picking other moments, they would be two other highlights.”

The concern for the chasing pack is the strength in depth of the Seven Barrows squad. Henderson added: “They (Altior, Buveur D’Air and Might Bite) have to deliver on the big stage and if you have got them you are the guy that is under pressure, but they have been great. They are still young and some pretty good ones have come through with them, like Santini, We Have A Dream and Terrefort. There is plenty to back them up. I think Santini could be a very exciting novice chaser and I think he could be a very exciting horse.”

With the Jumps season proper, now closed for the Summer, we can look forward to the first Classics at Newmarket, less than a week away. And yesterday at Longchamp we were reminded of just how thrilling the latest Flat season could be, as Cracksman made a stunning return in landing the Group One Prix Ganay.

Sent off a short-priced favourite, Gosden’s four-year-old powered clear in the latter stages of the race, with Cloth Of Stars and Rhododendron among those swept aside.

Gosden spoke to At The Races immediately after the victory, saying: “He’s a stronger horse this year and is still growing. It was a nice pace, without being anyway near crazy. Frankie knew he was going to use the pacemaker and I particularly liked standing over a furlong down and seeing how he stretched past me. It’s a lovely run. There’s Cloth Of Stars and Rhododendron in there and we’ve shown them a clean pair of heels and the race will bring him on a lot.”

Conversation turned to the inevitable clash with Gosden’s wonder-filly Enable. The trainer confirmed that she was on target to run in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, and that the stable stars will likely meet, assuming all is well with both, in the Arc at Longchamp. For Cracksman, a trip to Royal Ascot now appears likely, with the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes a short-term target.

Stat of the Day, 26th April 2018

Wednesday's Runner was...

6.55 Lingfield : My Target @ 6/1 BOG 5th at 9/2 (Mid-division on inside, headway chasing leaders over 1f out, weakened well inside final furlong)

Our next runner goes in Thursday's...

8.35 Chelmsford :

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

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


Ode To Autumn @ 3/1 BOG

A 5-runner, Class 4,  1m A/W Handicap (3yo) on polytrack worth £7310 to the winner...


This 3 yr old gelding has won twice and made the fame a further three times from his six starts so far with finishes of 211 on the All-Weather, including 2 wins from 2 over the 1m trip, the most recent being an LTO success 69 days ago.

His trainer, John Gosden, is bang in form, as typified by...

  • 18 winners from 50 (36% SR) in the last 30 days
  • 13 from 37 (35.1%) over the last fortnight
  • and 8 from 20 (40%) over the last week.

On top of this, Johnny's LTO winners are 147/488 (30.1% SR) for 137pts (+28.1% ROI) since 2014, from which...

  • April runners are 35/85 (41.2%) for 50pts (+58.8%)
  • and Class 4 runners are 27/77 (35.1%) for 18.5pts (+24.1%)

Whilst in the same 2014-18 time frame, his runners returning from a break of more than 60 days are 134/487 (27.5% SR) for 87.9pts (+18.1% ROI), including of relevance today...

  • LTO winners : 56/163 (34.4%) for 45.8pts (+28.1%)
  • in April : 54/153 (35.3%) for 33pts (+21.6%)
  • on Polytrack : 37/107 (34.6%) for 16.8pts (+15.7%)
  • over a 1m trip : 32/104 (30.8%) for 75.7pts (+72.8%)
  • at Class 4 : 32/104 (30.8%) for 45.8pts (+44%)
  • and here at Chelmsford : 12/22 (54.6%) for 20.5pts (+93.1%)

And finally for now (!), it's worth noting that this is Mr Gosden's only runner here today and in fact his only runner anywhere all day, and when sending just one handicapper out to a meeting since 2013, he has come home with the prize money on 52 of 199 (26.1% SR) occasions rewarding followers with 47.4pts [profit at an ROI of 23.8%, from which...

  • his only runner all day : 20/89 (22.5%) for 20.7pts (+23.3%)
  • at Chelmsford : 4/12 933.3%) for 8pts (+66.7%) us...a 1pt win bet on Ode To Autumn @ 3/1 BOG which was available from 10Bet, BetVictor, Betway, Coral & SportPesa at 5.50pm on Wednesday, whilst Bet365 were a shade better at 10/3 BOG. In fact 11/4 BOG was still widely available at 8.15am on Thursday, so we should all manage to get on. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 8.35 Chelmsford

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


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!

Curtis takes the high road to Season Salvation

Joe Farrell caused a 33/1 upset when defeating Ballyoptic by a nose in a thrilling finish to the Scottish Grand National.

It’s been a challenging winter for Pembrokeshire trainer Rebecca Curtis, with the number of horses in her yard tumbling from around 50 to little more than 20. Winners have been hard to come by, so this success is a huge tonic for herself and the team.

“It’s amazing,” said Curtis, speaking to ITV Racing just after the result of the photo-finish was announced. “We’ve had a difficult season and to end it like that is just brilliant for us. I thought it was a big ask, he’s just a novice but he stays all day. It’s my first time in Scotland. I own a quarter of him, and thankfully it’s paid off. I’m drawing a line under this campaign, though this is a great way to finish.”

Adam Wedge was the victorious jockey and was clearly thrilled to have held-on in a pulsating finish. He’d kicked on with three fences to go and looked likely to win by some distance. But Tom Bellamy got a hell of a tune out of Ballyoptic late-on.

“He’s stuck his neck out,” said a thrilled and relieved jockey. “I could feel Tom Bellamy getting to me all the way, but he's tried his heart out. To come here today not knowing whether he would stay, it’s fantastic.”

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Nigel Twiston-Davies will surely have Aintree in his sights for the runner-up. Ballyoptic remains on a workable handicap mark, though may have to be campaigned accordingly next winter. A temporary switch to hurdles would not be a surprise. Vintage Clouds had led for much of the race but had to settle for third. Doing Fine arrived late on the scene to snatch a fourth-place finish. Vicente had been looking to make it three in-a-row, and ran another cracker at the track, finishing a fine fifth.

As the Jump season draws to a close, action on the Flat stepped up a gear, with informative meetings at Newmarket and Newbury.

Roaring Lion was all the rage in the Craven Stakes last Thursday, having proved himself to be one of the leading juveniles last summer. But it was Godolphin blue that shone brightest, as the Charlie Appleby-trained Masar romped to an impressive nine-length success. William Buick set the fractions and kicked for home almost three furlongs out. The chasing pack were left toiling with the winner instantly cut to single figures for the 2000 Guineas in a fortnight.

Appleby said of the winner: “William said he quickened twice, before the Dip and then up the hill. He’s got quicker but he’s also got stronger. People asked why we gave him a run in Dubai, but that was just to take the gas out of him and put some manners on him. He was always going to be a three-year-old and he looks to be a nice horse. We were confident coming into this race that we were a player and that he’d either win or finish second to Roaring Lion. The Guineas route will be foremost in our sights now.”

Just 24 hours after the Masar romp, we witnessed another stunning performance, this time at Newbury, when John Gosden’s Lah Ti Dar crushed a field of fillies over 1m2f. Stunningly bred, by Dubawi out of Dar Re Mi, this filly could be special. Apparently weak at two, this was her debut on the track and Frankie Dettori was impressed with the performance. She’s now third-favourite, behind a pair of O’Brien fillies, for the Oaks at Epsom.

Saturday at Newbury was supposed to revolve around a resurgent Expert Eye in the Greenham Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute’s colt had looked a future star when winning the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last August, but then flopped on his final juvenile outing in the Dewhurst. Sadly, he again fluffed his lines, though ran with more promise, finishing runner-up to James Garfield. Keen from the off, he came under pressure two furlongs out, and though gaining late-on, he never looked likely to get to the winner. He may well improve for fast ground, though it’s likely that he is not the star many believed him to be. The winner is undoubtedly good, though looks shy of top-class.

Raid was something of an eye-catcher back in fourth. Trained by David Simcock and owned by Qatar Racing, this was only his second career start and having been outpaced mid-race, he stayed on strongly in the latter stages. He should improve a bundle for this.

A little more than six exciting months lie ahead in this latest Flat campaign, and at its conclusion, many of the season’s best will head to America for the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This year’s glittering season finale comes from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. A few days ago, organisers announced details of qualifying races to be run around the globe.

“As international participation increases for Thoroughbred racing on a global scale, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues to support horsemen and racing stables with important incentives, such as automatic starting positions and free entry fees, to qualify for the World Championships,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “We also recognize the outstanding work by our 28 racetrack and racing association partners around the world who conduct these Challenge races and thank them for their support and commitment to the series.”

There will be 11 such races held in the UK, five in Ireland and a further four in France. Four qualifiers take place at Royal Ascot, including the Queen Anne Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee. The Irish Champion Stakes is another notable entry on the list, along with elite juvenile events at Longchamp, the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and the Prix Marcel Boussac. The winner of the Darley Yorkshire Oaks from York, for example, would automatically qualify for the Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs.

It’s a laudable effort by the Breeders’ Cup guys to promote the valuable and prestigious event across the globe, and may well tempt some to renew those passports for an early winter jaunt across the pond.

Gosden’s Lion set to Roar as Classics draw near

Newmarket is in the midst of the Craven Meeting, supplying early clues for the opening Classics in May.

The feature event takes place on Thursday, with last year’s Racing Post Trophy runner-up, Roaring Lion, set to get his season up and running. Gosden’s youngster is currently third-favourite for the colts’ classic behind Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Gustav Klimt and Saxon Warrior. Yes, the major forces in Flat racing are set to go head to head once again.

Roaring Lion will be a short-priced favourite on Thursday with the Charlie Appleby pair of Masar and Glorious Journey leading the challenge. Speaking yesterday, Appleby said: “Masar flew in from Dubai this week and is fit and well. The combination of his unfamiliarity with the dirt surface and a wide draw means that you can put a line through his latest Meydan run, but at least he has the benefit of a run. He is a colt that has shown his inexperience in the past, but he’s done plenty of racing and travelling and he has been getting better with every race. If he brings his strong Jean-Luc Lagardere and Solario form into the Craven, it will make him a major player.”

According to the markets, his other contender has the best chance of toppling the favourite: “Glorious Journey has also been in Dubai and has done very well, but whatever he does on Thursday, there will be some improvement in him,” the trainer added. “The race he won was not the strongest of Group three’s, but he couldn’t have done any more than stay unbeaten. I walked the course on Monday and I would be amazed if it is not good ground by Thursday. We know all about the Rowley Mile’s incredible drying capabilities and it will suit Masar, who is a quick ground horse.”

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The Craven has gone to classy sorts in the past, including last year’s winner Eminent, who went on to win a Group Two in France prior to a place finish in the Group One Irish Champion Stakes. Team Hannon took four Craven’s in a row from 2012 to 2015, with winners including Toronado and Toormore. The former came fourth in the Guineas, before going on to capture a pair of Group Ones. Toormore landed his only Group One as a juvenile, though had several victories in Group Two’s in subsequent campaigns, and also coming within a neck of taking the Lochinge.

Haafhd in 2004 was the last horse to win the Craven Stakes prior to victory in the 2000 Guineas. Trained by Barry Hills and owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, he was particularly potent at Newmarket, winning on four of his five visits. The final success came in the Champion Stakes run over 10-furlongs, defeating a high-class field which included Azamour, Norse Dancer, Refuse To Bend and Doyen.

Chances are that Thursday’s Craven will fail to provide a Guineas winner, though in Masar, Glorious Journey and Roaring Lion, we have horses of huge potential, with the right sort of pedigree and high-profile connections.

But, before the Colts get their opportunity to shine, the fillies will take centre-stage in today’s Nell Gwyn Stakes. As was the case with the boys, it’s been a while since the winner of this went on to 1000 Guineas glory. The front-running Speciosa was the last to do so in 2006. Having landed the Classic in May, she failed to win another of her nine further career starts.

Frankie Dettori has an extraordinary record in the race, having won seven in total, including the last four. His association with John Gosden accounts for the last two, though today he’ll be aboard Juliet Foxtrot, trained by Charlie Hills. Testing ground probably played a part in her disappointing final juvenile display at Naas last September. Sporting the familiar silks of Khalid Abdullah, she’s by Dansili out of a King’s Best mare, and will surely appreciate a sounder surface.

The Mark Johnston-trained, Threading, also disappointed on her final two-year-old start, though that came in a strong looking renewal of the Cheveley Park, won by Aidan O’Brien’s high-class filly Clemmie. She sits at the head of the betting, having impressed in the Lowther at York, though much will, of course, depend on how she has progressed over the winter.

Jim Crowley gets the leg-up aboard John Gosden’s Nawassi. A daughter of Dubawi, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned filly probably didn’t beat an awful lot at Newmarket in November but nevertheless looked a juvenile full of potential.
Soliloquy is also by Dubawi though owned by Godolphin. Charlie Appleby will be looking to build on an impressive winter at Meydan, and this filly could prove useful.

We’re sure to learn plenty in the coming days and hopefully get a few pointers for the Guineas meeting that’s just a few weeks away.