Mishriff team looking forward to Ascot date

Mishriff is reported to be in tip-top shape ahead of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot next month.

Connections decided not to entertain thoughts of supplementing the French Derby hero for the Qatar Pix de l’Arc de Triomphe and stick to a mile and a quarter for the Group One on October 17.

Mishriff has thrived since making a triumphant return to France for the Group Two Prix Guillaume D’Ornano at Deauville and has won all his three starts this term.

“He’s bouncing, he’s going well and he’s waiting for his date at Ascot,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“John (Gosden) and the Prince made a decision and that’s where we’re going. We’ve just got to find out what we’re racing against.

“It will be exciting. It will be nice to compete in another race in England and see what he’s made of.

“At the moment he’s showing a nice turn of foot which they are not always blessed with. Let’s hope he can keep doing that when it’s needed.”

Prince Faisal has a promising two-year-old, by Mishriff’s sire Make Believe, in Third Kingdom, who was third to subsequent Solario Stakes scorer Etonian at Sandown on the latest of his two starts.

The colt could be back action again shortly after missing an intended outing at Chelmsford recently.

“He was down to go to Chelmsford the other day and just had a bit of heat in a joint and they elected not to go,” said Voute.

“It has since been looked at and is nothing serious. He should be out soon.

“The form of that second race of his has come out quite nicely so it was a shame he couldn’t go to Chelmsford as it looked like his for the taking but we’re waiting for John to give him an entry and see how good he is.

“Let’s hope he can win on his third start and we can look forward to a good 2021.”

Logician takes Doncaster return in his stride

Plans have yet to be made for Logician following his successful comeback at Doncaster last week.

The John Gosden-trained grey had been out of action for almost a year after winning last season’s St Leger, having suffered a life-threatening illness during the winter.

He faced only one rival on Town Moor and unexpectedly had little trouble in winning, but despite holding entries at Ascot on British Champions Day over 10 furlongs and two miles, no decision on whether the unbeaten Frankel colt goes there will be made for some time.

“He’s come out of it fine, I’m pleased to say,” said owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe.

“He seems to be in good shape after it and it was everything we could have hoped for actually as a race.

“It was almost a year to the day since he won the St Leger and he had been seriously ill over the winter, so we were going into the unknown a bit to say the least. But the way he came out of it pleased us.

“We’ve got no real plans as such. I think John’s inclination is to go gently and we really wanted to see how he came out of the race and see how he progresses before making a decision.”

A debrief for the Logician team at Doncaster
A debrief for the Logician team at Doncaster (David Davies/PA)

With Enable almost certain to be retired following her run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next month, Logician looks set to be a standard bearer for the team next term.

“He’s an important horse for Prince Khalid and we’re treating him very much with next year in mind,” said Grimthorpe.

“You have to treat each horse on their merits so we’ll keep monitoring him. He’s still unbeaten in six races and is a very exciting horse – hopefully there’s more to come.

“To say it was a two-runner race the other day the time was respectable, all things considered.”

Stradivarius denied in Prix Foy by Anthony Van Dyck

Stradivarius remains on course for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe despite being denied in the Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp, as Anthony Van Dyck claimed his first victory since landing last year’s Derby.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Anthony Van Dyck had finished a place ahead of Stradivarius when runner-up to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket in early June.

However, having claimed his third victory in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and a record fourth Goodwood Cup, John Gosden’s superstar stayer was the 8-13 favourite to reverse the form in his prep race for next month’s big race back over the course and distance.

In what appeared a slowly-run affair, Mickael Barzalona set his own fractions in front aboard Anthony Van Dyck, with Stradivarius his closest pursuer throughout in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

The Italian was the first of the two to draw his whip – and Stradivarius responded to close the gap.

However, 3-1 Anthony Van Dyck refused to bend in front and repelled the late surge of the market leader in determined style.

Stradivarius was narrowly beaten in France
Stradivarius was narrowly beaten in France (Dan Abraham/PA)

But Gosden was far from disappointed by Stradivarius’ performance – and confirmed the Arc as his next target.

He said: “It was a very typical French trial – they didn’t go a great pace.

“In these races you can either make your own pace, run a pacemaker or just follow – I’ve known them go even slower than they did today, but they did go pretty steady.

“I was happy with the way he finished the race – his last furlong was his best furlong. In that respect he’s run a good trial for the Arc and that’s where he’ll be going.

“He’s travelled over there now and behaved himself pretty well. I’m happy with the run as a trial.”

Stradivarius is a best-priced 16-1 for the Arc, with the O’Brien-trianed Love the marginal favourite ahead of Gosden’s brilliant mare Enable, who will be bidding to win the great race for a third time.

Stradivarius puts Arc hopes to the test at ParisLongchamp

Stradivarius gets the opportunity to rubber-stamp his Arc claims in the Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

John Gosden’s popular chestnut has dominated the staying scene over the past three seasons, with a hat-trick of wins in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and a record four Goodwood Cups meaning his status as a great of the division is already assured.

However, with Bjorn Nielsen keen on a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this year, Stradivarius drops back in distance in a recognised trial for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest over the same course and distance.

“He’s sharpened up as a stronger, more powerful horse. He’s not what I call a big, one-paced staying type at all – he’s got a lot of speed this horse, so we’re looking forward to running him over a mile and a half,” said Gosden.

“He’s in good form and I’m very happy with him. He’s worked nicely.”

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Stradivarius proved he is capable of mixing it at the top level over a mile and a half when third behind Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup earlier in the season.

Frankie Dettori is on board this weekend, but is expected to partner stable companion Enable in the Arc as she goes in search of a historic third victory in the race.

Gosden has admitted to tweaking Stradivarius’ training ahead of his first trip across the Channel.

He added: “We don’t know how the race will be run – these French trials can just be run from the head of the straight. We’ll leave it to Frankie, but we couldn’t be more pleased with the horse.

“We have trained him to sharpen him a bit, but he’s wanted to and let us do it. He has sharpened in his work, which was very much the plan, but we haven’t done anything dramatically different because he rather likes the way he’s been trained.”

Among the five horses taking on Stradivarius is Aidan O’Brien’s Anthony Van Dyck, who was second in the Coronation Cup before finishing only fifth when favourite for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. Mickael Barzalona takes the ride.

The fillies get their chance to shine in the Prix Vermeille, for which Jean-Claude Rouget’s Raabihah is a hot favourite.

Dame Malliot lines up for the Prix Vermeille
Dame Malliot lines up for the Prix Vermeille (Francesca Altoft/PA)

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa and the Ger Lyons-trained Irish Oaks winner Even So carry Irish hopes, while Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot and David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight represent Britain.

Dame Malliot impressed in the Group Two Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket in July before finishing third in a German Group One under Hollie Doyle. Dettori takes over in the saddle this weekend.

Vaughan said: “I’m delighted to have Frankie available to ride. He came and had a sit on her earlier in the week and I was very pleased.

“The filly seems in very good form. Hollie felt she didn’t handle the track that well in Germany and said the ground rode quite rough.

“They’re talking about good ground on Sunday, which will be fine, and a big, galloping track like Longchamp should suit.”

2020 Irish Champion Stakes Trends

The Group One Irish Champion Stakes is staged at Leopardstown racecourse and run over a distance of 1m2f.

In recent years, the race has been dominated by trainer Aiden O’Brien – he’s won the race eight times since 2000, including twelve months ago with Magical. Can he make it nine in 2020?

Horse racing trends expert Andy Newton is on hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday 12th Sept 2020.


Irish Champion Stakes Recent Winners

2019 – Magical (11/10 fav)
2018 – Roaring Lion (8/11 fav)
2017 – Decorated Knight (25/1)
2016 – Almanzor (7/1)
2015 – Golden Horn (5/4 fav)
2014 – The Grey Gatsby (7/1)
2013 – The Fugue (4/1)
2012 – Snow Fairy (15/8)
2011 – So You Think (1/4 fav)
2010 – Cape Blanco (6/1)
2009 – Sea The Stars (4/6 fav)
2008 – New Approach (8/13 fav)
2007 – Dylan Thomas (8/15 fav)
2006 – Dylan Thomas (13/8 fav)
2005 – Oratorio (7/1)
2004 – Azamour (8/1)
2003 – High Chaparral (4/1)


Irish Champion Stakes Betting Trends

18/18 – Previous Group 1 winner
17/18 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
16/18 – Won 4 or more times before
16/18 – Had won over 1m2f before
15/18 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
15/18 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
15/18 – Ran at York, Sandown or Ascot last time out
14/18 – Had 4 or more previous runs that season
13/18 – Rated 120+
13/18 – Placed favourites
10/18 – Trained in Ireland
10/18 – Aged 3 years-old
9/18 – Won last time out
8/18 – Winning favourites
7/18 – Previous course winners
7/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
5/18 – Returned odds-on
3/18 – Trained by John Gosden (3 of the last 7)
2/18 – Won the Coral Eclipse last time out
2/18 – Trained by John Oxx
2/18 – Ridden by Seamie Heffernan
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 4/1








Logician makes victorious return at Doncaster

Last year’s St Leger winner Logician maintained his unbeaten record with a facile victory on his eagerly-awaited return in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Conditions Stakes at Doncaster.

Facing only one rival in Charlie Appleby’s Mythical Magic, Logician was sent off a 1-12 shot and the manner of his win reflected that price.

A sick horse over the winter, he was back on track almost a year to the day since his Classic success on Town Moor, but he was racing over half a mile less.

Frankie Dettori bounced him out of the stalls and John Gosden’s grey was keen enough early, but he was not going fast enough for Mythical Magic, who took over briefly turning into the straight.

Once Dettori asked Logician to quicken, his sole rival could not go with him and he was ridden out with just hands and heels for a comfortable seven-length win.

Gosden said: “We’re very happy. He came here very composed and I always think in a race like that, go and set your own pace.

“William’s (Buick) horse (Mythical Magic) was keen in behind, so as soon as they got to the top of this long straight, he came and joined us. It was a nice, proper stretch – he’s finished very well and comfortable under hands and heels.

John Gosden gives Logician a pat after his comeback win
John Gosden gives Logician a pat after his comeback win (David Davies/PA)

“He’s having what I call a nice blow, not a stressful blow. You’ve got to remember this horse had two months in intensive care and I can have nothing but praise for the veterinarians at the Newmarket Equine Clinic for saving his life twice, so that he can be here today.

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“We’re very pleased to see him back – it’s been a long road.”

As for the future, Gosden said: “There’ll be no immediate plans. He’s well entered in the autumn, but I’d like to see how he is in the next 10 days before even thinking about another race.

“If you’d seen him in the clinic, as I did – I thought I’d never see him again. Just to get him back here is extraordinary in itself.

“We couldn’t be more pleased at this stage, but I don’t want to commit to anything now.

“Anything is possible. We’re on the cusp of the autumn if we want to run again this year, but the horse will tell us.

“I think having missed most of this year, next season for a big, strapping horse like him, as a five-year-old, is very much a key option. I think one might have one’s mind focused on that, as much as anything else.

“We know a mile and a half is spot-on for him, so next year he’ll have races like the King George as an absolute target.”

Dettori told Sky Sports Racing: “It was a good effort by the team. I have hardly seen him this year, obviously. It’s well documented he’s been sick.

“I rode him the other morning. He didn’t give me the feel he gave me in the Leger, but he came to the races today, he went through the gears, he was moving well. OK it was a non-event, but at least we got him back.

“He’s a long way from where he was, but hopefully this race will bring him on and we’ve got him for next year, I hope.”

Line Of Departure completed a hat-trick for Roger Varian in the Weatherbys Racing Bank £200,000 2-Y-O Stakes.

After the colt failed to get his head in front in his first three starts, his Newmarket handler decided to dispose of the blinkers – and it seems to have done the trick, with Line Of Departure opening his account at Yarmouth before following up at Ascot last month.

A 15-2 shot for his latest assignment, the son of Mehmas responded to David Egan’s urgings to score by a length and a quarter from 7-2 joint-favourite Yazaman.

Varian said: “He’s done nothing but improve. I ran him in his first three starts in blinkers, because he didn’t show anything at home.

“I don’t know where the ceiling is with this horse – he gets better and better.”

Egan doubled up aboard the Richard Spencer-trained Bernardo O’Reilly in the Jaguar Land Rover Doncaster JCT600 Handicap.

Spright (left) claimed victory at Doncaster
Spright (left) claimed victory at Doncaster (David Davies/PA)

The Karl Burke-trained Spright (10-1) secured her third win from five career starts under a well-judged ride from Clifford Lee in the British Stallion Studs EBF “Carrie Red” Fillies’ Nursery.

Burke said: “I thought she was well handicapped and I twisted the arms of the owners, including David Redvers, to let her run.

“David definitely wanted to go for a Listed race to try to get some black type and make her more sellable, but it would have broken my heart to leave a £50,000 race behind without having a runner in it.

“We’ll definitely give her a shot at black type now. She’s in the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy (October 3), and there’s also the Bosra Sham at Newmarket at the end of October.”

Following the earlier triumphs of Logician in the opener and Indigo Girl in the May Hill Stakes, Gosden completed a treble on the card with 12-1 shot Haqeeqy in the Price Promise At bet365 Handicap, ridden by Jim Crowley.

Stat of the Day, 25th July 2020

Friday's pick was...

3.00 Beverley : Global Exceed @ 7/2 BOG 5th at 3/1 (Slowly into stride, held up in rear, headway on wide outside chasing leaders 2f out, soon every chance, weakened towards finish) 

Saturday's pick runs in the...

2.15 Newmarket :

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

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


Indie Angel @ 9/4 an 8-runner, Class 3 Fillies Flat handicap for 3yo+ over 7f on Good to Firm ground worth £9,962 to the winner...


Early post tonight, as I'm out on a trip first thing tomorrow, but as usual, the unique Geegeez interactive racecard contains more supporting evidence/data than you could throw a stick at and it's all pretty self-explanatory.

In addition to that weight of evidence pointing towards a decent run for our money, we have an LTO winner dropping in class after an impressive victory over course and distance a fortnight ago.

All in all, there's enough above to hang a bet on, but SotD wouldn't be SotD if I didn't try to highlight an angle that might be unfamiliar to at least a few of you, so let's look at...

...trainer John Gosden's contribution to my "Late Summer Flat Hcps" microsystem. The name tells you exactly what I'm looking for and Mr G is one of a number of trainers of interest in what is usually the later part of the season. For the Gosden horses, I look at those running in Flat handicaps during July to September since 2016 and this gives me a starting point of...

...pretty solid numbers from blindly backing them, but they include of interest here...

  • 47/188 (25%) for 12.24pts (+6.5%) with 3 yr olds
  • 39/146 (26.7%) for 31.4pts (+21.5%) in races worth less than £13k
  • 34/130 (26.2%) for 55.17pts (+42.4%) in 3yo+ contests
  • 21/69 (30.4%) for 30pts (+43.5%) at Class 3
  • 17/68 (25%) for 7.16pts (+10.5%) with females
  • 17/58 (29.3%) for 42.41pts (+73.1%) from class droppers
  • and 8/21 (38.1%) for 20.69pts (+98.5%) for today's jockey Nicky Mackay...

...whilst 3 yr olds in Class 3 3yo+ contests worth less than £13k are 14 from 36 (38.9% SR) for 16.9pts (+47% ROI), including 6 winners from 9 dropping down 1 class... us... a 1pt win bet on Indie Angel @ 9/4 as was widely available at 9.35pm Friday, but as always please check your BOG status (*most are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race... here for the betting on the 2.15 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!

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

Monday Musings: Rapid Start Far From Flat

The two unbeaten favourites didn’t collect the first two Classics of the UK racing season as many, including the bookmakers, were expecting, writes Tony Stafford. Pinatubo was a slightly one-paced third as Kameko gave Andrew Balding a second UK Classic in the 2,000 Guineas, 17 years after Casual Look was his first in the Oaks. Yesterday, Love made it six 1,000 Guineas triumphs for Aidan O’Brien, four in the last six years, as the Roger Charlton filly Quadrilateral also had to be content with third place.

For quite a while in Saturday’s big event, staged behind closed doors of course, it looked as though O’Brien would be celebrating an 11th “2,000” – from back home in Ireland as he left on-course matters to be attended to by his accomplished satellite team. Wichita, turning around last October’s Dewhurst form both with Pinatubo and his lesser-fancied-on-the-day stable companion Arizona, went into what had looked a winning advantage under super-sub Frankie Dettori until close home when the Balding colt was produced fast, late and wide by Oisin Murphy.

The young Irishman might already be the champion jockey, but the first week of the new season, begun eight months after that initial coronation last autumn, suggests he has a new confidence and maturity built no doubt of his great winter success in Japan and elsewhere. A wide range of differing winning rides were showcased over the past few days and Messrs Dettori and Moore, Buick, Doyle and De Sousa clearly have an equal to contend with.

It was Dettori rather than Moore who rode Wichita, possibly because of the relative form in that Dewhurst when Wichita under Ryan got going too late. This time Arizona got his lines wrong and he had already been seen off when he seemed to get unbalanced in the last quarter-mile. Kameko will almost certainly turn up at Epsom now. Balding was keen to run Bangkok in the race last year despite that colt’s possible stamina deficiency. The way Kameko saw out the last uphill stages, he could indeed get the trip around Epsom a month from now.

The 2020 Guineas weekend follows closely the example of its immediate predecessor. Last year there was also a big team of O’Brien colts, including the winner Magna Grecia, and none was by their perennial Classic producer, Galileo. The following afternoon, the 14-1 winner Hermosa, was Galileo’s only representative in their quartet in the fillies’ race. This weekend, again there were four Ballydoyle colts in their race, and none by Galileo. Two, including Wichita, are sons of No Nay Never. As last year, there was a single daughter of Galileo in yesterday’s race, the winner Love. Her four and a quarter length margin must make it pretty much a formality that she will pitch up at Epsom next month.

Love was unusually O’Brien’s only representative yesterday which rather simplified Ryan Moore’s choice. It will surely be hard to prise her from him at Epsom whatever the other Coolmore-owned fillies show at The Curragh and elsewhere in the interim.

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With Irish racing resuming at Naas this afternoon, attention will be switching immediately to the Irish Classics next weekend. What with those races, which Ryan will sit out under the 14-day regulations, the Coolmore owners and their trainer will have a clear course to formulate their Derby team and Oaks back-up squad. It would appear that the good weather enjoyed in the UK after which so many big stables, notably Messrs Johnston, Gosden and Balding, have made a flying start on the resumption, has also been kind to Irish trainers.

I know that sometimes in the spring the grass gallops at Ballydoyle have barely been usable by the time of the first month of action. The delayed and truncated first phase should continue to be to the benefit of the more powerful yards and maiden races, just as those in the UK, are already looking like virtual group races, especially on the big tracks.

Aidan O’Brien has 11 runners on today’s opening card, including four in the second event for juveniles, where Lippizaner, who managed a run in one of the Irish Flat meetings squeezed in before the shutdown, is sure to be well fancied. A son of Uncle Mo, he was beaten half a length first time out and the experience, which is his alone in the field, should not be lost on him.

The shutdown has been a contributor to a denial of one of my annual pleasures, a leisurely look at the Horses in Training book which I normally buy during the Cheltenham Festival but forgot to search for at this year’s meeting. The usual fall-back option of Tindalls bookshop in Newmarket High Street has also been ruled out, and inexplicably I waited until last week before thinking to order it on-line.

There are some notable absentees from the book and it has become a growing practice for some of the bigger trainers to follow the example of Richard Fahey who for some years has left out his two-year-olds. John Gosden has joined him in that regard otherwise they both would have revealed teams comfortably beyond 250.

Charlie Appleby, William Haggas, Mark Johnston, Richard Hannon and Andrew Balding all have strings of more than 200 and all five have been quick off the mark, each taking advantage of a one-off new rule instigated by the BHA. In late May trainers wishing to nominate two-year-olds they believed might be suitable to run at Royal Ascot, which begins a week tomorrow, could nominate them and thereby get priority status to avoid elimination with the inevitable over-subscription in the early fixtures.

In all, 163 horses were nominated with Johnston leading the way with 11; Charlie Appleby and Fahey had eight each; Hannon and Archie Watson seven and Haggas five. All those teams have been fast away in all regards but notably with juveniles. The plan, aimed at giving Ascot candidates racecourse experience in the limited time available, has clearly achieved its objective.

Among the trainers with a single nominated juvenile, Hughie Morrison took the chance to run his colt Rooster at Newmarket. Beforehand he was regretting that he hadn’t realised he could have taken him to a track when lockdown rules could apparently have been “legally bent” if not actually transgressed. Rooster should improve on his close seventh behind a clutch of other Ascot-bound youngsters when he reappears.

When I spoke to Hughie before the 1,000 Guineas he was adamant that the 200-1 shot Romsey “would outrun those odds”. In the event Romsey was the only other “finisher” in the 15-horse field apart from Love and, in getting to the line a rapidly-closing fifth, she was only a length and a half behind Quadrilateral. So fast was she moving at that stage, she would surely have passed the favourite in another half furlong. The Racing Post “analysis” which said she “lacked the pace of some but kept on for a good showing” was indeed damning with faint praise. Hughie also could be pleased yesterday with a promising revival for Telecaster, a close third behind Lord North and Elarqam in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Haydock despite getting very warm beforehand.

No doubt I’ll be returning to Horses in Training quite a lot in the coming weeks, but just as the long list of Galileo colts and fillies was dominant among the Ballydoyle juveniles for many years, the numerical power of Dubawi among Charlie Appleby’s team is now rivalling it. Last year, when I admit I didn’t really notice it, there were 40 Dubawi juveniles: this year the number has grown to an eye-opening 55. At the same time the yard has gone well past 200, reflecting his upward trajectory ever since taking over the main Godolphin job ten years ago. I’m sure Pinatubo has some more big wins in his locker.

I always look forward to seeing the team of Nicolas Clement, French Fifteen’s trainer, in the book, and he is there as usual with his middling-strength team. Nowadays much of what used to pass for free time for this greatly-admired man is taken up with his role as the head of the French trainers. He confessed that carrying out his duties over the weeks in lockdown and then the changes in the areas in France where racing could be allowed had been very demanding.

This weekend, Nicolas along with everyone in racing had a dreadful shock when his younger brother Christophe, who has been training with great success in the US for many years, suffered a terrible tragedy. On Saturday a Sallee company horsebox, transporting ten Clement horses from Florida to race in New York burst into flames on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing all ten animals. One report suggested that the horsebox had collided with a concrete stanchion. It added that the two drivers attempted to free the horses but were unable to do so.

At the top level, where both Clement brothers have been accustomed to operating on their respective sides of the pond, the rewards can be great. But as this incident graphically and starkly shows, there is often a downside for trainers and owners, though rarely one of quite this horrific finality.

- TS

Following John Gosden Debut Winners

Feeling inspired by the quality content on this very site in relation to two-year-olds I wanted desperately to join the (virtual) party, writes Jon Shenton. I remember reading something a while ago which suggested that following juvenile races from the premier UK tracks paid dividends (I don’t remember where from, sadly).

I’ve always wanted to check this out in detail and now is the right time! Of course, with a rehashed racing calendar for 2020 the findings may be of less relevance this year, so are thus presented with even stronger caveats than usual. However, whatever happens over the next few months, I do think that the article is of the “cut-out and keep” variety and should reward in time if not straight off the bat.

Initially, I’m going to focus on two-year-old races and runners from the headquarters of British flat racing, Newmarket. It’s the logical starting point: by my calculations this course alone accounts for approximately 10% of non-handicap races for the juvenile division in the UK. Through a little bit of micro-focusing on these races I’m hopeful of finding a few tasty morsels.

Newmarket 2yo Trainers

A simple spin through trainer data is a pragmatic first port of call. As usual, a focus on those runners with an SP of 20/1 or shorter will be applied. For context, horses starting at a price above this are collectively 33/2345, a strike rate of 1.41% at the course in these races. I’m happy to leave well alone (although I did note that Martyn Meade is two-from-two at these gargantuan prices).


I’ve elected to only include data for currently active yards, technically 100 runners were required to qualify. However, as Mick Channon was comfortably leading in A/E terms and being so close to the century of races, he is included as an act of practicality and utility.

I had little intention to delve any further into Channon’s performance in this article, but you know what’s it’s like... Curiosity abounds, after all there is no harm in looking and, before you know it, you’re onto a nice micro-angle!

Here are the windmill-armed maestro’s runners by race class:

Collectively, the upper echelons of class 1 and 2 racing attained a solitary bullseye from 43 darts. No thank you! Class 3 and lower delivers a total of 16 wins from 53 attempts with a 121% return of £64 to a £1 SP level stake! It needs acknowledging that Channon's Newmarket juvenile runners have been sparse in volume over the past couple of years, but it’s worth keeping an eye on for future developments at the very least.

Back to the main data table and, Channon aside, there are other handlers worth further discussion. Significantly, the behemoths John Gosden and Charlie Appleby produce profit by backing blindly even at this basic data level. That’s of certain interest, as is the less than stellar performance of some other prevalent names for banana skin avoidance purposes.

John Gosden Performance

So, on to Gosden: there are always two specifics worth checking with any potential angle for this elite yard, namely, race distance and time of year (especially regarding juveniles). Generally, sprinters under-perform, and a while back this very site published data in an article regarding a late season surge in Gosden’s performance in specific circumstances, which stuck in the mind.

Here are the Wizard of Clarehaven Stables's distance data for 2yo's running at Newmarket:


As sure as eggs is eggs, the shorter six furlong race numbers are less appealing than the longer distances (1m 2f sample too small to draw conclusions), though the place percentages are largely comparable.

Excluding the six-furlong data and progressing onto the time of year by month looks like this:

Again, there we have it. His two-year-old brigade get rolling from August onwards, certainly in comparative terms to the earlier knockings of the season.

Ordinarily, that may well be solid enough. However, by utilising a value lens on the runners from August through to November and greater than six-furlongs in distance, there is an interesting variance based on the number of visits the horses have had to the track previously.

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The table clearly shows that win strike rate is marginally superior for those animals with prior experience. However, those making their bow pay handsomely in comparison. The 'fear factor' of backing unproven talent seemingly manifests itself in the form of attractive prices: fortune seems to favour the brave in these cases.

Whilst there is no harm in backing all Gosden juvenile runners at Newmarket, the selective punter need only focus on those untried potential future superstars.

Suggestion: Back John Gosden horses first time out at Newmarket August to November where race distance is greater than six furlongs and SP is 20/1 or shorter.


John Gosden: Debut Winners

Writing the words “potential future superstars” got the old cogs whirring a bit and some tangential thoughts occurred. A consequence of these reflections was to research the subsequent form of Gosden’s debut winning two-year olds.

It’s instructive to note that those Gosden inmates which prevail on their first outing go on to generally excel through their Classic campaigns. Conversely, those winning during later runs as two-year-olds generally only have so-so three-year-old seasons, in the round anyway. As Gosden isn’t a renowned producer of gold with first time up horses (although his 17% hit rate since 2010 is well above par) it could be inferred that if one of his is victorious on its maiden voyage, it is worth following. Let’s investigate further.

Gosden two-year-old debut winners

In total, I make it that to date Gosden has had 118 winners on their 2YO debut on turf tracks in the UK and Ireland (the Newmarket angle above is included within). I’ve expanded the remit to cover all Gosden FTO winners contained on horseracebase, not just those from 2010. The data goes back to as far as 2003. For clarity, there are no filters for distance, SP, or time of year applied to get the cohort of 118.

Firstly, evaluating this debut winning group in terms of the remainder of their juvenile campaigns on the turf is a sensible and hopefully useful starting point.

The table below illustrates this:

The data is segmented by Newmarket and non-Newmarket regarding where the debut win was attained. That’s mainly to perform checks and balances on the possibility that Newmarket alone could be driving the exemplary performance as inferred by the earlier article findings.

I needn't have worried: the numbers are positive regardless of debut win location. Indeed, it could very well showcase the basis for an angle which is as low risk as I can remember: a 37% winning strike rate, returning a healthy 21% at SP is not to be sniffed at.

The table below demonstrates performance by SP:


In truth, it’s a healthy picture all round. However, horses returning an SP of 13/2 or greater are 2/26 in terms of wins against runs. Undoubtedly, these pay handsomely as individual bets. But to a £1 level stake you’d return £5 profit from these 26 wagers, returning empty handed from the bookies on more than 90% of visits. That's fine if you can stomach losing runs but a similar rate of profit can be returned from fewer wagers. The below graph hopefully assists in terms of explanation.

The graph illustrates the cumulative rate of return attained from backing all runners at the price notated (and all shorter prices) on the x-axis, moving from left to right. I’ve noted the “three peaks”, all of which deliver a similar return on investment. It doesn’t overly matter if this is a difficult graph or concept to follow. The individual peaks are explained below which hopefully will help.

Peak One : This covers backing all horses at an SP of 6/4 or shorter, returning 27 wins from 36 runners with a 25.5% profit to SP (level stakes)

Peak Two : This covers backing all horses at an SP of 6/1 or shorter (inclusive of the peak one data), returning 45 wins from 101 runners with a 21.6% profit to level stakes at SP

Peak Three : This covers backing all horses at an SP of 20/1 or shorter (inclusive of the peak one and two data), returning 47 winners from 125 runners with a level stake SP profit of just over 23%.

The bottom line is that all three of the annotated peaks deliver a very similar return rate on your hard-earned. Selecting peak one as a method of wagering means fewer bets and missing out on the bigger payday potential. Peak three promises dry spells (relatively speaking) but very similar returns overall.

Personally speaking, and as previous readers will be aware, I’m a volume bettor, small stakes fired at a high quantity of bets so I’m probably more inclined to go into bat at the speculative end of the spectrum. Although, writing this, it does beg the question whether playing only in those smaller priced pools with larger stakes would be a more fulfilling and sustainable long-term approach. Ultimately, it's personal choice and the graph certainly offers food for thought.

Suggestion: Back John Gosden 2yo debut winners on turf for all subsequent runs for the rest of their two-year-old campaigns. (SP appetite and approach a personal choice)


Gosden three-year-old debut winners

The major objective of this section is to evaluate these 118 two-year-old debut-winning turf horses as three-year-old performers.

Here are the overall numbers for the classic generation:

Backing every one of the 118 first time out two-year-old Gosden winners throughout their three-year-old campaign on turf is a rewarding exercise! A quarter of runners win and an there is a 15% return on investment based on level stakes.

However, as we've seen already, it makes sense to apply a distance filter to the runners.

There are no rea; surprises based on what we've discovered hitherto: whilst strike rates are broadly fine it doesn’t pay to follow Gosden's horses over sprint distances. It’s also a marginal call on those running between a mile and a mile and a quarter. Races of 10-furlongs plus are undoubtedly where there is most interest, particularly the specific 10-furlong distance (including 10.5f) where performance sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Whether backing the protagonists at a mile or so is a worthwhile exercise is debatable but there are certainly worse ways to gamble. However, for the sake of this article I’m only going to evaluate runners at 9-furlongs or further for a final lap of analysis.

Firstly, SP pricing, I’m not going to go into detail here (for the sake of relative brevity) but I’m only going to include horses with an SP of 12/1 or shorter. Horses running with SP’s of greater than this only deliver a solitary win from 22 attempts. I’m happy to leave these benched.

There is one additional step which delivers a cherry on our Johnny G cake and that’s evaluating by race class:


It’s clear that the upper echelon performance is better than the rank and file output. Class 1 and 2 races garnered a combined 40 victories from 112 runners (36% strike rate) with a profit of £76 to a £1 level stake (ROI of 68%). That’ll more than do for me.

For completeness/tracker purposes, the 2019 crop of two-year-old debut winners on turf from the yard were, in chronological order:

  • Verboten (Yarmouth 17/7/2019)
  • Leafhopper (10/8/2019 Newmarket)
  • Palace Pier (Sandown 30/8/2019)
  • Enemy (Ascot 6/9/2019)
  • Cherokee Trial (Ascot 7/9/2019)
  • King Leonidas (23/10/2019 Newmarket)
  • Tuscan Glaze (1/11/2019 Newmarket)
  • Heiress (2/11/2019 Newmarket)
  • Moonlight in Paris (Nottingham 6/11/2019)

That’s nine horses to follow through this condensed 2020 season and if any of them run over 10 furlongs or further in a class 1 or 2 race they will be getting maximum focus!

Suggestion: Back John Gosden First time out 2YO turf winners over ten furlongs or further in all class one and two races in the UK where the SP is 12/1 or shorter

Final thoughts

The more I’ve researched this the more I’ve discovered, the net result being that I’ve had to exclude a reasonable amount of solid angle content. This article is long enough already, but I did want to just point towards a couple of other interesting Gosden juvenile data angles for consideration.

It appears horses with a single autumnal run in their juvenile campaign perform very well in their first run as a three-year-old, irrespective of how well they performed on their debut. With filters of race distance over a mile and a cut off regarding sensible odds (12/1 or shorter) there is definite utility to be attained. My personal angle along these lines is 32/82 with an A/E of 1.30. Although as it has been quiet in terms of qualifiers in 2018 and 2019, I excluded from this article.

Finally, all of the data in this article relates to turf runs only. I had a quick check of all Gosden All-Weather debut winners and applied similar logic / parameters to those (the only difference from turf is it appears as though runners over a mile are productive on the AW). Again, as a cohort they are worth following with a record of 40/117 from their three-year-old campaign. However, there is an interesting difference through analysing by race code.

Yes, it’s a small sample of artificial surface runners; however, it appears as though a 2YO Gosden debut winner on the all-weather is worth tracking on a similar surface during the following campaign: maybe a case of horses for courses. Cobber Kain, Tiempo Vuela, Waldkonig, Hypothetical and Desert Flyer are the AW horses winning on debut as two-year olds in 2019. If they run on the AW in 2020, they will be worth more than a second glance based on these numbers.

I didn’t get the chance to evaluate Charlie Appleby in anything like the same detail. I always find working through John Gosden-related data a fascinating exercise. Consequently, a much deeper immersion - a veritable soaking! - occurred than originally intended; I guess some tangents are just worth following.

I’m looking forward immensely to seeing how these angles pan out, even in this strange upcoming 2020 season. Seems like I’ll be having a bet in some marquee races after all!

Until next time, look after yourselves and take care.

- JS


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:

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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


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