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Monday Musings: Criquette Declares at Seventy

Usually, when news comes through of a retirement or more distressingly and increasingly at this stage of my life, a death of someone you’ve known for a long time, one always takes stock, writes Tony Stafford.

When the retiree, as in last weekend’s case, is Christiane Head-Maarek, or Criquette Head as she has been universally known, the information is greeted almost with disbelief.

After all, her father Alec Head, is alive and still occasionally interviewed at race meetings in France, at the age of 94. Criquette, like Prince Charles, was born in 1948, so has arrived at the age of 70 after 41 years as a trainer.

Just as Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister (1979-90) almost exactly mirrored my own spell as Racing Editor at the Daily Telegraph – the remaining 20 years there were less worthily spent! – so Criquette’s honourable span as only the second female trainer in France after Miriam Bollack has been an ever-constant for me.

When you travel to some of Europe’s best races it is inevitable that the top people cross your horizon and Criquette was always happy to pass a word or two. I remember especially one day at Maisons-Laffitte when I was over to see a Raymond Tooth runner in a minor race. I bumped into her as she was having a quiet coffee in the owners’ room and we talked for at least ten minutes before the race.

Whether at the track or the major sales, there would always be a smile and a few words from this unique woman. Treve was still to come at that stage but almost two generations earlier, Three Troikas had already been bought by her at Tattersalls sales in 1977 in her bloodstock agent period which immediately preceded her taking out a licence. During her first full season as a trainer, Three Troikas was to give Criquette her first Arc success.

Ma Biche and Ravinella were two of the many other brilliant fillies that distinguished her career and I can never forget the amazing speed Ravinella showed both when winning the Cheveley Park as a juvenile and then the 1,000 Guineas the following year.

The Heads were one of the English-born training families that made such a major impression in French racing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Alec Head’s father William returned to France after serving in the British Army during the Second World War, winning the first of his two Arcs with Le Paillon in 1947. Alec had partnered the horse earlier in the year into second place in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Younger brother Freddy was in the saddle in 1966 when William’s second Arc came along with Bon Mot and now, 20 years into his own training career – distinguished with three consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile wins with Goldikova (2008-10) - he is being assisted by the fourth generation, son Christopher in his stables in Chantilly.

Criquette’s only daughter, Patricia, also has her own Arc link, as she is married to trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias, who won the 2012 Arc with Solemia. Now Criquette, who will have her final runner on February 1, will concentrate on helping to run the family’s famed Haras de Quesnay, taken over by Alec from William more than 60 years ago, and still a flourishing nursery of top thoroughbreds.

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Another trainer who has held a licence for almost 40 years and like Criquette Head has tasted the highs both on the Flat and more spectacularly in National Hunt, is approaching his 65th birthday this year on an upward curve.

If I were to set a question as to which trainer (using my admittedly incomplete records) had 55 jump wins in 1992-3, then successively 86, 72, 66, 77, 48, 40, 32, then only 9 in 2000-0, would you get it? After three campaigns with 36, 22 and 24, he then had only 6, 6, 9 and a lowest-ever 3 in 2007-8.

Happily the last decade has seen a steady revival with 19, 19, 38, 32, 27, 35, 61, 43, 43, and after two excellent wins on Saturday, 34 and counting this term. That trainer is Kim Bailey, who sat at the table behind my Ascot lunch group on Saturday and I was delighted to congratulate him on First Flow’s impressive 10-length win in the Rossington Main Hurdle at Haydock, his third victory in four starts this term.

First Flow had all the hallmarks of a Bailey win, bold jumping and stamina, accompanied by the compulsory sheepskin noseband. I wondered why he was at Ascot rather than Haydock, but that answer came quickly enough when Vinndication vindicated the locational decision by maintaining a 100% record with a dour display in Ascot’s finale.

It is easy to forget merit in trainers amidst the hunger for new talent. It’s more about fashion these days, but when you think back to Mr Frisk, winning the Grand National and then making all in the Whitbread under Marcus Armytage; and Alderbrook and Master Oats in Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup winning mode, you have to wonder how those single-figure seasons ever happened.

I loved Alderbrook, but probably not as much as Paul Eddery, who had the luck to partner him in his first five Flat starts when he was moved from Sally Hall’s stable to Bailey. There he won twice in seven Flat races, but ended with a modest run in a novice hurdle.  Starting off on 69 for Kim, he won nine more of 17 Flat races, but two of his defeats, both Group-race second places came when he was moved for a brief spell with Julie Cecil.

Either side of that he had five runs over hurdles for Bailey, winning the Kingwell first time out and then the Champion by five lengths from the high-class Large Action. After that spring campaign on the Flat,  he returned to Bailey for the following season, winning at Kempton and finishing second to Collier Bay in the Champion before routing his Scottish Champion Hurdle field, giving lumps of weight all round.

Alderbrook retired to stud, and among many decent staying jumpers, bred the high-class and tough Olly Magern before dying in 2007. His passing coincided with his trainer’s lowest ebb, but with such as First Flow and Vinndication to represent him now, the future looks bright indeed for this talented man.

First Flow runs in the colours of Nearly Caught’s owner, Tony Solomons, former boss of Singer & Friedlander, while other major owners in the Bailey yard include the Rooneys, Paul and Clare. If you approach Cheltenham on the A40 from Oxford, you will see Kim’s sprucely-manicured fences off to the left around six miles from the track. Given the upward mobility and the 70-odd horses he has to represent him nowadays, the optimistic sign which points to them is highly appropriate.

Stat of the Day, 3rd October 2016

Saturday's Result :

3.05 Ascot : Mehronissa @ 9/1 BOG 2nd at 8/1 (Took keen hold, chased leaders, headway and edged right 2f out, soon chasing winner, ridden and kept on in closing stages, always held)

Monday's pick goes in the...

4.10 Southwell :

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

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

Who?

Gaelic Myth at 100/30 BOG

Why?

Trainer Kim Bailey's record here at Southwell stands at 13 wins from 48 (27.1 % SR) for 34pts (70.8% ROI) since the start of 2012, with hurdlers winning 8 of 32 (25%) for 27.2pts at an ROI of 84.9%.

Gaelic Myth's run today will be the 4000th by an offspring of the prolific, but sadly recently departed Midnight Legend, one of my favourite (as most of you know!) sires ever. And with 550 wins under their belts so far at a strike rate of 13.75% recording profits of 518.9pts at an ROI of 14.5%, it's pretty obvious why I like backing them!

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To make such profit from backing so many horses blindly is tremendous and it does thorw up hundreds of profitable angles to take and I've covered many of them  in the near 4 years of SotD so far, so I'll try not to bore you too much and keep it simple!

Since 2009, these Midnight Legend progeny are 71/501 (14.2% SR) for 213.1pts (+42.5% ROI) in handicap hurse contests at 2m 4.5f to 3m 2f, from which...

  • those running at the same class or up/down one grade from LTO : 70/458 (15.3%) for 249.9pts (+54.6%)
  • at Class 4  : 27/182 (14.8%) for 112.2pts (+61.7%)
  • and on good to soft ground : 12/102 (11.8%) for 124.4pts (+121.9%)

Gaelic Myth was a winner when last seen, although that was at Ludlow back in May, some 148 days ago, but he takes a slight drop in trip and also drops down a class to run here, so if race-ready, this should well be within his capabilities. This is backed up by the fact that Kim Bailey's handicap hurdlers dropping down a class are 12/73 (16.4% SR) for 26.4pts (+36.1% ROI) at odds of Evens to 12/1 since 2009.

Of these 73 runners...

  • Class 4/5 : 11/63 (17.5%) for 32.6pts (+51.8%)
  • 4-6 yr olds : 10/44 (22.7%) for 46.2pts (+104.9%)
  • at trips of 2m4f to 3m1f : 8/41 (19.5%) for 33.9pts (+82.6%)

AND...4-6 yr olds racing over 2m4f to 3m1f at Class 4/5 are 7/21 (33.3% SR) for 50.1pts (+238.9% ROI) with a record of 4/9 (44.4%) for 21.9pts (+243.2%) since the start of 2014.

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Gaelic Myth at 100/30 BOG, which was offered by both Hills and BetVictor at 7.45pm on Sunday, but to see your preferred bookies' odds, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.10 Southwell.

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard...

Stat of the Day, 3rd October 2016

Saturday's Result :

3.05 Ascot : Mehronissa @ 9/1 BOG 2nd at 8/1 (Took keen hold, chased leaders, headway and edged right 2f out, soon chasing winner, ridden and kept on in closing stages, always held)

Monday's pick goes in the...

4.10 Southwell :

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

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

Who?

Gaelic Myth at 100/30 BOG

Why?

Trainer Kim Bailey's record here at Southwell stands at 13 wins from 48 (27.1 % SR) for 34pts (70.8% ROI) since the start of 2012, with hurdlers winning 8 of 32 (25%) for 27.2pts at an ROI of 84.9%.

Gaelic Myth's run today will be the 4000th by an offspring of the prolific, but sadly recently departed Midnight Legend, one of my favourite (as most of you know!) sires ever. And with 550 wins under their belts so far at a strike rate of 13.75% recording profits of 518.9pts at an ROI of 14.5%, it's pretty obvious why I like backing them!

To make such profit from backing so many horses blindly is tremendous and it does thorw up hundreds of profitable angles to take and I've covered many of them  in the near 4 years of SotD so far, so I'll try not to bore you too much and keep it simple!

Since 2009, these Midnight Legend progeny are 71/501 (14.2% SR) for 213.1pts (+42.5% ROI) in handicap hurse contests at 2m 4.5f to 3m 2f, from which...

  • those running at the same class or up/down one grade from LTO : 70/458 (15.3%) for 249.9pts (+54.6%)
  • at Class 4  : 27/182 (14.8%) for 112.2pts (+61.7%)
  • and on good to soft ground : 12/102 (11.8%) for 124.4pts (+121.9%)

Gaelic Myth was a winner when last seen, although that was at Ludlow back in May, some 148 days ago, but he takes a slight drop in trip and also drops down a class to run here, so if race-ready, this should well be within his capabilities. This is backed up by the fact that Kim Bailey's handicap hurdlers dropping down a class are 12/73 (16.4% SR) for 26.4pts (+36.1% ROI) at odds of Evens to 12/1 since 2009.

Of these 73 runners...

  • Class 4/5 : 11/63 (17.5%) for 32.6pts (+51.8%)
  • 4-6 yr olds : 10/44 (22.7%) for 46.2pts (+104.9%)
  • at trips of 2m4f to 3m1f : 8/41 (19.5%) for 33.9pts (+82.6%)

AND...4-6 yr olds racing over 2m4f to 3m1f at Class 4/5 are 7/21 (33.3% SR) for 50.1pts (+238.9% ROI) with a record of 4/9 (44.4%) for 21.9pts (+243.2%) since the start of 2014.

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Gaelic Myth at 100/30 BOG, which was offered by both Hills and BetVictor at 7.45pm on Sunday, but to see your preferred bookies' odds, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.10 Southwell.

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard...

Mouse Rules The World

As a novice hurdler he’d chased home The New One in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival, and was touted as a future Gold Cup winner.

Rule The World finally fulfilled that huge potential when winning the 2016 Grand National; incredibly his first success in 14 attempts over fences. A shuddering error at the fourth last failed to halt his momentum, and approaching the final fence his young jockey David Mullins had him on the tail of the leading pair. At the elbow three horses ran side by side, but it was Rule The World who stayed on powerfully to sweep past both The Last Samuri and Vics Canvas in a pulsating finish.

An overwhelmed winning trainer Mouse Morris found it difficult to talk when interviewed after the win. He had won the Irish National less than two weeks earlier and was clearly overcome. Speaking a little later he said: “I’d have settled for third and been delighted with it. I think we got a bit of help from someone today. He’s had two fractured pelvises and I thought before that he was the best I’d ever had - he probably was. He’s a typically National horse in that he’s big and jumps well, and has that little bit of class. It’s a dream to think he’d win a Grand National.”

Both the young winning jockey and owner Michael O’Leary were keen to praise the trainer's efforts. David Mullins, nephew of trainer Willie, is only 19 and was riding in the Grand National for the first time. He said: “Coming across the Melling Road I knew I was going well and at the second last I heard Davy Russell give me a shout, saying ‘Go on David!’, but it was only at the line I realised I’d done it. All credit to Mouse, he's a genius and the best man in the world for the big day. It's brilliant.”

“This horse could have been Gold Cup standard but for the injuries he has suffered,” said Gigginstown supremo O’Leary. “He’s nine now and after that we could retire him - I wouldn't want to bring him back here again, and Mouse will have to decide how he comes out of this race, but if he never runs again who cares?”

Trainer of the second, Kim Bailey, knows that his eight-year-old has time on his side, and is likely to have several more cracks at the ‘big one’. Bailey said: “There’s only one place you want to be at Aintree and I was lucky enough to be there with Mr Frisk. I hate being second, I can’t even explain the feeling. He travelled brilliantly through the race, the rain wouldn’t have helped but what a great run. He never made a mistake the whole way round. I hope we haven’t had our share of winning and it will be our turn next year.”

He added: “It’s the longest run-in you can possibly imagine. I was standing here screaming - my voice has gone. We’ve beaten the third horse, but another horse has come on the outside from nowhere. I’m just so proud. We’ll do it all over again next year 12lb worse off.”

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Arguably the most astounding performance came from the 100/1 shot and 13-year-old Vics Canvas, who at the elbow looked capable of winning. Trained by Dermot McLoughlin, the veteran chaser is part-owned by At The Races presenter Gary O’Brien and had won the Paddy Power Cork Grand National back in 2014. The marathon trip and testing conditions proved ideal for the Old Vic gelding, but he just found a couple a little too quick for him at the business end.

Reflecting on a thrilling performance, O'Brien spoke of what could have been, when saying: “There was just a moment when he jumped the last and he headed The Last Samuri for two or three strides that I thought he might win, but then I looked behind and I could see Rule The World in the slipstream of the two of them.

Speaking on Sunday he added: “The way he ran yesterday it is probably hard to think about retiring him as in the run-up to the race all the talk was about it being one of the strongest ever Grand Nationals and if he had not made that mistake at Becher's first time round he might have been closer.”

The 2015 winner Many Clouds trailed home last of the finishers having held every chance five fences from home. The combination of a blunder at that fence, along with hauling top-weight in testing ground put paid to his chances. Oliver Sherwood spoke of a return next year, and given a sounder surface you wouldn’t count him out.

As for Gigginstown, an incredible spell that has gleaned two nationals and a Gold Cup in less than a month once again displays the firepower they possess when it comes to staying chasers.

The National Next for Bailey’s Samuri

Though the Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, it was the Grand National that came under focus this weekend.

Several contenders for Aintree’s feature were put through their paces and though a few failed to shine, one in particular enhanced his credentials as a leading challenger.

Testing conditions certainly had an adverse effect on the field size for the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, but they caused little inconvenience to Kim Bailey’s runaway winner The Last Samuri. Always prominent, he stormed clear in the latter stages comfortably beating The Druids Nephew by 10 lengths. He jumped soundly throughout and appeared to have plenty left in the tank at the finish.

Mat Nicholls, assistant to Kim Bailey, said: “I'm delighted with that but he was ready for today and I wouldn't say he's going to improve a stone by Aintree. However, he jumped and travelled and the further he went the better he got. He won his races in small fields last season but his win at Kempton did him the power of good and he's much more professional now. He used to be a bit hot and we've taught him to settle but he's almost too switched off now, he races lazily for the first mile but then he gets into gear.”

Bailey famously won the National in 1990 with Mr Frisk, though The Last Samuri was previously trained by Donald McCain whose family are of course synonymous with winning Aintree’s illustrious event.

Allotted a weight of 10st 8lbs for the main event in April, the Grimthorpe winner has been backed in to joint favourite in many places, with the Druids Nephew also popular with punters after a promising second place finish on ground that was less than ideal. Mulholland speaking yesterday said: “It was a beautiful run. I was delighted with him and he has come out of the race bouncing. He would have preferred better ground than the soft he got yesterday, and given that was his first run for a while, it was a tremendous performance. He will certainly improve for the run and on better ground. He will go straight to the National.”

Many Clouds remains at the head of the National betting though his prep-run didn’t go as planned. The meeting at Kelso was rained off, and there’s now every chance that last year’s Aintree winner will head to Cheltenham for another crack at the Gold Cup.

Talking to At The Races Oliver Sherwood said, “I would have loved for him to have won for his confidence but it was more the gap between that race and the Grand National, which was five weeks. That was just perfect. Last year, between the Gold Cup and the National it was four weeks, this year it's three weeks, so that's huge. The one positive, if we did go for the Gold Cup again, is he's had a relatively quiet season.”

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A hard race at Cheltenham would be far from ideal, but I would expect that once his chances of winning or being placed were over, Leighton Aspell would merely school him home. Many Clouds is as big as 33s for the Gold Cup, and that price appears a fair reflection of his chances.

Whilst The Last Samuri was scooting home at Doncaster, Jonjo’s Grand National hope Shutthefrontdoor was taken off his feet at Newbury, and was eventually pulled in the Greatwood Gold Cup won by Sametegal.

The choice of prep-run was perhaps a little surprising, with the 2m4f trip proving inadequate for a horse that has been running over three miles plus for the last two seasons. Passing the post with a circuit to go Barry Geraghty was niggling at the horse as he drifted to the back of the field. Try as he might to get the horse attached to the rear of the pack, his efforts failed, and a suitable workout failed to materialise. The National remains the plan, though confidence of improving on last year’s fifth place finish has taken a serious dent.

At Naas on Sunday Goonyella advertised his Grand National credentials with a cracking second place finish in the Leinster National. The nine-year-old enjoys plenty of give in the ground, but arguably his best performance came on good ground when runner-up in the Scottish Grand National last April. Trainer Jim Dreaper was clearly pleased with the performance, saying: “I was delighted with him. He just came good at this sort of time last season too and he has been showing more spark at home. He stays really well, but is just short of pace.”

Goonyella has been allotted 10st 8lbs, and the Midlands National winner could prove a huge player in Aintree’s showpiece.

News also arrived yesterday that Long Run may take his chance at Aintree. Robert Waley-Cohen said: “Long Run is cantering away and seems in great form. We want to get one run into him before Aintree as you can't really expect to go for a race like that having not run for two years. I have got a couple of hunter chases pencilled in and I would hope he will have a nice experience and come back all fired up for the National. It is going to be tight time-wise but it is certainly not out of the question.”

Now an 11-year-old, the former Gold Cup winner would be another exciting addition to an already powerful looking line-up.

Stat of the Day, 29th January 2016

Thursday's Result :

2.40 Southwell : Rupert Boy @ 100/30 BOG 4th at 5/2 (With leader, driven halfway, weakened over 1f out)

Friday's runner goes in the...

2.40 Huntingdon :

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

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

Who?

Un Ace @ 12/1 E/W BOG

Why?

Trainer Kim Bailey record here at Huntingdon since the start of 2011 stands at 13 wins from 56 (23.2% SR) for level stakes profits of 29pts at an ROI of 51.7%, from which...

  • hurdlers are 6/28 (21.4% SR) for 16.7pts (+59.7% ROI)
  • handicappers are 8/27 (29.6% SR) for 21.7pts (+80.2% ROI)
  • and handicap hurdlers are 4/11 (36.4% SR) for 20.1pts (+182.5% ROI)

Of those 11 hcp hurdlers, there's a 2 from 3 record from those ridden by David Bass...

...who himself is 10 from 50 (20% SR) for 63.2pts (+126.4% ROI) here at Huntingdon since the start of 2011 and those 5o runners are...

  • 6/31 (19.4% SR) for 19.3pts (+62.3% ROI) over hurdles
  • 6/28 (21.4% SR) for 45.3pts (+161.9% ROI) in handicaps
  • and 4/20 (20% SR) for 26.3pts (+131.7% ROI) in handicap hurdles.

Of those last 20 rides above, he is , of course, 2 from 3 for Kim Bailey and today they team up with Un Ace who has won 5 of 16 his races (31.25% SR) to date for profits of 41.4pts (+258.8% ROI) and in those 16 races has achieved the following strike rates in relation to this contest...

  • 100% here at Huntingdon (1/1)
  • 66.7% going right handed (2/3)
  • 60% running 16 to 30 days after his last run (3/5)
  • 55.6% in races of 4 to 11 runners (5/9)
  • 44.4% on good to soft ground (4/9)
  • 37.5% when rated 140 to 145 (3/8)
  • 30.8% since moving to Kim Bailey (4/13)
  • 25% under David Bass (1/4)

and now he drops back from Listed class to Class 2 today aiming to improve upon Kim Bailey's decent record with handicap hurdlers dropping down a grade, which has seen 7 winners from the 38 (18.4% SR) priced at 9/2 to 16/1, generating profits of 26.7pts (+70.4% ROI).

And in addition to all the above Un Ace is Kim's only runner at this track today and since 2009, Kim's sole representatives at a track have won 123 from 698 (17.6% ROI) races for 127.5pts at an ROI of 18.3% with those running here at Huntingdon winning 8 of 27 (29.6% SR) for 13pts (+48.1% ROI).

And finally (!), not only is Un Ace Kim's only runner here at Huntingdon, he's also the yard's only runner of the day and such horses are 97/484 (20% SR) for 171.1pts (+35.4% ROI) with those ridden by David Bass winning 11 of 40 (27.5% SR) for 18.7pts (+46.8% ROI).

And my recommended bet, based on my data and prices available at 10.30pm is...

A 0.5pt E/W bet on Un Ace and that's at 12/1 BOG which is widely available, so to take your pick of the firms, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 2.40 Huntingdon

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard...

Bailey’s Ace Looks Each-Way Shout

The main event at Kempton on Saturday is the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle.

The listed handicap is run over 2m 5f and was won last year in sensational fashion by Nick Williams’ talented gelding Tea For Two. In what appeared to be a competitive renewal, the then six-year-old romped to a 10 length victory. A year earlier the race went to Paul Nicholls with one of his most talented inmates Saphir Du Rheu.

Nicholls has taken two of the last seven renewals, though Nick Williams is very much the most successful trainer in recent times with three wins from the last five. However, he won’t be adding to that tally on Saturday as he has no entries in this year's event. Nicholls on the other hand is likely to be represented by the well-fancied Ibis Du Rheu. The five-year-old ran a promising second at the Hennessy meeting in November, just failing to overhaul Royal Guardsman over a slightly shorter trip. Chances are that the step up in distance will suit, though he has to improve plenty to take this far more competitive affair.

Harry Fry and Philip Hobbs shared honours in the last major handicap when Jolly’s Cracked It and Sternrubin hit the line together in The Ladbroke at Ascot. Sadly Fry’s imposing gelding will miss the remainder of the season due to a tendon injury.

Nevertheless, the Dorset trainer will be hopeful that he can add another prestigious handicap with Unowhatimeanharry currently favourite for Saturday’s showpiece. He won an Albert Bartlett trial at Cheltenham in December, though that was over three miles. He had been successful prior to that at two and half, and heavy ground holds no fears. The horse is undefeated since joining Fry in the summer.

Yala Enki is another that should enjoy ground conditions. Venetia Williams is often the ‘go to’ trainer when the mud is flying, and this French import has already impressed this winter when cruising to victory at Exeter in November. He was then a little too keen at Haydock in the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle, though he battled on for fifth having looked likely to fade out of sight turning for home. He has a lovely race weight, and looks a serious player.

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This race often goes to unexposed types rather than seasoned handicappers, and Nicky Henderson’s Bivouac certainly fits that description. The five-year-old has only run seven times over hurdles and has a far superior record running right-handed. He won at the track last December and was successful at Huntingdon last time out when having the fast improving Lil Rockerfeller in behind. The ground should be ideal, and it’s no surprise to see him towards the head of the betting.

Dr Richard Newland is always to be respected in these competitive handicaps and he has an interesting contender in the lightly raced Westren Warrior. He’s another who will enjoy the testing conditions; having won an ordinary novice hurdle by miles last time at Lingfield in heavy ground. He’d chased home recent Cheltenham winner Singlefarmpayment prior to that, and clearly that form now looks pretty strong.

Gary Moore can do no wrong this winter, and he has recent course and distance winner Baron Alco entered here. He looks to be improving at a rate of knots and has a tasty pedigree being a son of Dom Alco out of a Network mare. He’ll need to step up again, but looks to have the potential to do exactly that.

Finally a mention for Kim Bailey’s eight-year-old Un Ace. He’s a hugely talented horse who is back over hurdles having had a productive time over fences. Though French bred, he is probably slightly better suited by a sounder surface. However, he has a fair looking race weight and the trip is perfect. He’s run right-handed only twice before and won both times. He looks a decent each-way proposition.

It’s another hugely competitive handicap to get excited about and finding the winner as ever will prove one hell of a task.

Stat of the Day, 4th January 2016

Stat of the Day, 4th January 2016

Saturday's Result :

2.40 Ayr : Shades of Midnight @ 9/2 BOG non-runner (Withdrawn 2 hours before race due to swelling)

Monday's runner goes in the...

1.35 Ludlow :

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

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

Who?

Crazy Jack @ 7/1 BOG

Why?

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I don't know what was in jockey David Bass' Christmas Punch, but he's absolutely flying after the resumption of duties. Since returning from the sport's short Christmas break he has ridden 7 winners from 13 with a 4 from 6 record over hurdles: astonishing!

And it's not often I get to tell you that a jockey is blindly profitable to follow long-term either, but David is. And if you backed every single one of his 867 hurdle rides over the last seven years, you'd have collected 129 times (14.9% SR) for a total of £636 to £10 stakes at an ROI of 7.33%. The ROI isn't huge, but it's solidly consistent and is a good starting point for further analysis as follows...

  • In handicaps, he is 64/497 (12.9% SR)( for 192.2pts (+38.7% ROI)
  • On horses rated 105 to 138 : 67/313 (21.4% SR) for 172.8pts (+55.2% ROI)
  • At Class 2/3 : 30/180 (16.7% SR) for 71.5pts (+39.7% ROI)
  • On soft ground : 30/154 (19.5% SR) for 50.2pts (+32.6% ROI)
  • Over the 3m trip : 9/54 (16.75 SR) for 25pts (+46.3% ROI)
  • Here at Ludlow : 6/37 (16.2% SR) for 9.72pts (+26.3% ROI)

And today David rides Crazy Jack for Kim Bailey, a trainer who has a decent record of his own here at Ludlow over the last three years, as his Class 3 to 5 runners at this venue have gone on to win 9 of 47 races (19.2% SR) for 26pts profit at an ROI of 55.3%, from which...

  • 4 to 8 yr olds are 9/44 (20.5% SR) for 29pts (+65.9% ROI)
  • those carrying 10-7 to 11-8 are 8/37 (21.6% SR) for 33pts (+89.3% ROI)
  • Hurdlers are 5/32 (15.6% SR) for 11.6pts (+36.3% ROI)
  • Thoes priced at 8/1 or shorter are 7/29 (24.1% SR) for 9.4pts (+32.4% ROI)
  • Male runners are 7/27 (25.9% SR) for 25.2pts (+93.3% ROI)
  • And to tie all the data together, those ridden by David Bass are 5/14 (35.7% SR) for 9.6pts of level stakes profit at an ROI of 68.3%.

And my recommended bet, based on my data and prices available at 10.30pm is...

A 1pt win bet on Crazy Jack and that's at 7/1 BOG with either Paddy Power or BetVictor, but I advise you to...

...click here for the betting on the 1.35 Ludlow

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

just click here for more details.

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 4th January 2016

Stat of the Day, 4th January 2016

Saturday's Result :

2.40 Ayr : Shades of Midnight @ 9/2 BOG non-runner (Withdrawn 2 hours before race due to swelling)

Monday's runner goes in the...

1.35 Ludlow :

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

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

Who?

Crazy Jack @ 7/1 BOG

Why?

I don't know what was in jockey David Bass' Christmas Punch, but he's absolutely flying after the resumption of duties. Since returning from the sport's short Christmas break he has ridden 7 winners from 13 with a 4 from 6 record over hurdles: astonishing!

And it's not often I get to tell you that a jockey is blindly profitable to follow long-term either, but David is. And if you backed every single one of his 867 hurdle rides over the last seven years, you'd have collected 129 times (14.9% SR) for a total of £636 to £10 stakes at an ROI of 7.33%. The ROI isn't huge, but it's solidly consistent and is a good starting point for further analysis as follows...

  • In handicaps, he is 64/497 (12.9% SR)( for 192.2pts (+38.7% ROI)
  • On horses rated 105 to 138 : 67/313 (21.4% SR) for 172.8pts (+55.2% ROI)
  • At Class 2/3 : 30/180 (16.7% SR) for 71.5pts (+39.7% ROI)
  • On soft ground : 30/154 (19.5% SR) for 50.2pts (+32.6% ROI)
  • Over the 3m trip : 9/54 (16.75 SR) for 25pts (+46.3% ROI)
  • Here at Ludlow : 6/37 (16.2% SR) for 9.72pts (+26.3% ROI)

And today David rides Crazy Jack for Kim Bailey, a trainer who has a decent record of his own here at Ludlow over the last three years, as his Class 3 to 5 runners at this venue have gone on to win 9 of 47 races (19.2% SR) for 26pts profit at an ROI of 55.3%, from which...

  • 4 to 8 yr olds are 9/44 (20.5% SR) for 29pts (+65.9% ROI)
  • those carrying 10-7 to 11-8 are 8/37 (21.6% SR) for 33pts (+89.3% ROI)
  • Hurdlers are 5/32 (15.6% SR) for 11.6pts (+36.3% ROI)
  • Thoes priced at 8/1 or shorter are 7/29 (24.1% SR) for 9.4pts (+32.4% ROI)
  • Male runners are 7/27 (25.9% SR) for 25.2pts (+93.3% ROI)
  • And to tie all the data together, those ridden by David Bass are 5/14 (35.7% SR) for 9.6pts of level stakes profit at an ROI of 68.3%.

And my recommended bet, based on my data and prices available at 10.30pm is...

A 1pt win bet on Crazy Jack and that's at 7/1 BOG with either Paddy Power or BetVictor, but I advise you to...

...click here for the betting on the 1.35 Ludlow

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

just click here for more details.

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 31st December 2015

Stat of the Day, 31st December 2015

Wednesday's Result :

3.15 Lingfield : Kristal Hart @ 9/2 BOG non-runner (withdrawn on morning of race due to abcess)

Thursday's runner goes in the...

1.10 Warwick :

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

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

Who?

Battle Dust @ 9/4 BOG

Why?

Battle Dust appears to be in fine fettle at present, finishing 121 in his last three appearances. He closed off his PTP career with a win over 3 miles on heavy ground when carrying 12 st 2lbs to a 5 lengths victory at Dungarvan in January.

He was next seen as recently as six weeks ago when making his debut under Rules at Southwell, where he stayed on well and finished strongly on soft ground, but the line came too quickly for him, despite it being a 3m slog first up.

The ground was worse for his only other outing, when he needed every inch of the 2m 7.5f on heavy ground at Chepstow 26 days ago to just get home and the manner of both runs suggest the extra 2 furlongs today should be right up his street. He's 1 from 1 with today's jockey and has already demonstrated a firm liking for bottomless ground.

Another step into the unknown today, as he makes a handicap debut, but his trainer Kim Bailey has shown in the past that he can get his 'cappers to win first time up, as since 2008 his NH hcp debutants are 14/105 (13.3% SR) for 30.9pts (+29.4% ROI) profit, and with today's race in focus, those runners are...

  • 13/90 (14.4% SR) for 42.8pts (+47.5% ROI) when rated at 120 or lower
  • 11/83 (13.3% SR) for 36pts (+43.4% ROI) at the ages of 4 to 6
  • 9/90 (11.3% SR) for 31.7pts (+39.6% ROI) over hurdles
  • 13/55 (23.6% SR) for 30.6pts (+55.7% ROI) when sent off at 8/1 or shorter
  • 3/8 (37.5% SR) for 52.1pts (+650.8% ROI) on heavy ground

Kim's 4-6 yo hcp hurdle debutants priced at 8/1 and shorter are 8/32 (25% SR) for 29.4pts (+92% ROI), with all 8 winners coming from the 27 (29.6% SR) runners rated 90-120 with the resultant 34.4pts profit equating to some 127.6% of stakes invested.

And my recommended bet, based on my data and prices available at 7.40pm is...

A 1pt win bet on Battle Dust and that's at 9/4 BOG with any one of at least half a dozen firms, so I advise you to...

...click here for the betting on the 1.10 Warwick

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

just click here for more details.

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard.

Crossed wires on the cross country

Cross country at Flagg

Cross country at Flagg

The Cross Country race at Cheltenham has attracted strongly differing views since it was introduced in 2005. This year it was no different, with several factors contributing to boost the opposition to the race. Read more

Sat TV Trends: 29th Dec 2012

NewburyAnother busy Saturday with seven more LIVE C4 races from Newbury, Doncaster and Leopardstown - See all the races covered from a trends angle here.... Read more

Locals target Cheltenham’s International

Astracad - dual Cheltenham winner

Gloucestershire trainers are gearing up a strong contingent of horses for the feature steeplechase at the Cheltenham International meeting next month. Read more

Stat of the Day: 23rd May 2012

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day: 23rd May 2012

And so the drought continues. Valid Point didn't have the race run to suit last night, but still was disappointing. And, after a glut of non-runners, he was sent off as short as 6/4 and favourite, having been a 4/1 shot when nominated.

We kick on from there, to the…

6.20 Worcester

One of the tools I use in my betting, and occasionally for Stat of the Day, is the 'Stat Attack' feature in horseracebase. It always has an interesting cross-section of the data for the day's runners, and today is no exception.

For instance, did you know that La Estrella (3.50 Southwell) has won eleven times out of eleven at the track? Or that The Lock Master has been in the frame six from six times over today's 4.50 Southwell course and distance? In fact, The Lock Master has form figures of 322122222222 at Southwell over trips of a mile and a half or shorter. At a mile in Class 4, 5 or 6 (today is a Class 5) at Southwell, he is 312222. Placepot bankers maybe, but not quite SotD for today.

The reason they haven't made the cut is that La Estrella is a prohibitive 4/11, and The Lock Master, who is much more likely to be placed than to win, is 9/2 meaning a small loss on stakes.

So it is that I find myself in beautiful Worcester, virtually at least, and siding with an unconsidered - so far today anyway - beast, who may just be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Or, more correctly, a Lion On The Prowl in horse's clothing.

This Kim Bailey inmate has recent form figures of 096P, which are hardly encouraging. But that the whole story does not tell. Those runs were all in high class handicap hurdles, where Lion On The Prowl last ran off a mark of 130.

He had earned that mark by running consistently very well in novice hurdles and bumpers, fields where he made the frame in seven out of seven runs. Non-handicap form of 2232121 brings him under consideration in tonight's non-handicap beginners' chase.

This will be his fencing debut, so a fair bit has to be taken on trust. But that's why he's a 14/1 shot.

The pick of the opposition, Enfant de Lune and Top Smart, were rated 125 and 120 respectively over hurdles, a fair bit less than our SotD pick. Next in are Francesa, Indian Daudaie and Teenage Kicks. They have hurdles ratings of 110 (best form on soft), 135 (last of four on chase debut), and 119, all significantly below the mark allotted to Lion On The Prowl; or, in the case of Indian, a horse bang out of form and running as though something amiss.

Am I saying the Lion will win? No. Am I saying he looks to be decent each way value in this field, given his liking for good ground and his non-handicap form? Absolutely.

Lion On The Prowl at 14/1 each way. We ought at least to get a run for our money…

Click here for the latest odds on the 6.20 Worcester.

Cross the Channel for the Cross Country

Chriseti - bids to double up in Anjou Challenge

A field of 17 is due to line up in the Prix Anjou-Loire Challenge this evening, with last year’s winner Chriseti (Etienne Leenders) going for back-to-back victories. The race takes place at the Lion-d-Angers racecourse, some 20 km North west of Angers in the French Loire Valley. Read more