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Stat of the Day, 13th June 2018

Tuesday's Pick was...

7.50 Lingfield : Fanfair @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 4/1 (In rear, headway 2f out, not clear run [poorly positioned IMO] and switched right over 1f out, edged left inside final furlong, ridden and ran on, couldn't reach winner, beaten by a head)

We continue with Wednesday's...

3.20 Chelmsford :

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

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

Who?

Danzay @ 3/1 BOG

A 10-runner, Class 5 handicap for 3yo over 1m on polytrack worth £4399 to the winner...

Why?

here we have a 3 yr old gelding who was a winner over 1m2f at Goodwood just five days ago when making all. The truth however is that he was hanging on for the last 2f and the line couldn't come quick enough for him. The good news here is that (a) a drop back to a mile should therefore help him see this one out better, (b) he's unpenalised for that win, as it was an apprentice handicap and (b) the wily Franny Norton now takes over in the saddle : an excellent judge of race pace.

And although his trainer Mark Johnston has a 15.8% strike rate at this venue (47/298), he's not profitable to follow blindly, however...

...if you backed all his 2 to 4 yr olds here sent off at 7/2 & shorter, you'd have 33 winners from 89 (37.1% SR) and 15.2pts (+17.1% ROI) profit, from which...

  • at trips of 7 to 10 furlongs : 21/52 (40.4%) for 15.2pts (+29.2%)
  • at Class 5 : 13/30 (43.3%) for 11.2pts (+37.2%)
  • and at Class 5 over trips of 7 to 10 furlongs : 11/19 (57.9%) for 15.9pts (+83.8%)

More generally, since the start of 2013 at trips of 6 to 8.5 furlongs on UK polytracks, horses who won or were beaten by less than lengths LTO and were turned back out just 2 to 5 days later, went on to win 141 of 562 (25.1% SR) quick follow-ups recording profits of 172.9pts at a healthy ROI of 30.8%. These are not trainer specific, just blindly backing quick returners who weren't well beaten LTO.

And finally, seeing as this one did win so recently, it's worth noting that Mark Johnston's Class 5 handicappers who won last time out are 35/95 (36.8% SR) for 26.3pts (+27.7% ROI) profit and these include of relevance today...

  • 27 winners from 69 (39.1%) for 23.8pts (+34.5%) for those last seen 4-25 days earlier
  • 31 from 64 (48.4%) for 21.8pts (+34%0 at odds of 9/2 and shorter
  • 24 from 55 (43.6%) for 32.7pts (+59.4%) from those running at the same class as LTO
  • 17 from 35 (48.6%) for 23.4pts (+66.8%) in the June-August quarter
  • and 9 from 24 (37.5%) for 3.93pts (+16.4%) on polytrack

...and derived from the above, you could back those priced at 6/1 and shorter at the same class as an LTO win 4-25 days earlier for 20 winners from 38 (52.6% SR) and 23,2pts profit at an ROI of 60.9%...

...which would prompt...a 1pt win bet on Danzay @ 3/1 BOGGENERALLY. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 3.20 Chelmsford

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Stat of the Day, 9th June 2018

Friday's Pick was...

6.30 Goodwood : Oeil De Tigre @ 3/1 BOG WON at 9/4 (Pulled hard in touch, headway over 2f out, led over 1f out, soon hung badly right but ran on well to win by 3.5 lengths)

We continue with Saturday's...

3.15 Beverley :

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?

No Lippy @ 11/4 BOG 

A 13-runner, Fillies Conditions Stakes for 2yo over 5f on Good ground worth £21788 to the winner... 

Why?

Well, as per the summary at the foot of our racecard, the last 17 runnings of this contest have been won by 11 LTO winners and 3 debutants and with just 3 LTO winners and no debutants today, I was drawn to this filly, who has previously run well enough in better company.

Her form to date reads 1191 with the "9" not being as bad as a 9 normally looks, it was actually a 3 length defeat in a Listed contest on the quickest ground she's encountered to date, so no disgrace there.

Otherwise she's 3/4 at 5 furlongs, 2/3 with today's jockey (PJ McDonald who won for us on Thursday with Quantatmental), 2/2 at Class 2 and 2/2 on good ground.

It pays to be up with the pace over 5f at Beverley and she's one of just two who like to lead here and although it's generally perceived that a high draw (she's in 12) isn't great here, the data on our Pace/Draw analysis says otherwise and she'll also be helped by the other pace angle being next to her in 11.

And the stats behind the pick?

Well, I ignored the obvious/easy route of telling you to back Mark Johnston runners at Beverley, as much has already been made of this both in this column and elsewhere and whilst it is of course valid, we do like to find you something different for SotD.

So, yes it is a Mark Johnston runner at Beverley, but did you know that since the start of 2014, his runners who won LTO 1-25 days earlier at the same class & distance are 28 from 98 (28.3% SR) for 57.4pts (+58% ROI)?

And of those 98...

  • those who won by just a neck to 2 lengths LTO are 17/63 (27%) for 67.6pts (+107%)
  • at Class 2 : 6/31 (19.4%) for 52.7pts (+170%)
  • on good ground : 4/13 (30.8%) for 48.5pts (+373%)

...and Class 2 runners who won by just a neck to 2 lengths LTO are 6 from 24 (25% SR) for 59.7pts (+248.7% ROI), with a 2/5 (40%) record on good ground yielding 53.67pts at an ROI of 1053.4%. This allied to MJ's well-documented Beverley record...

...gives us...a 1pt win bet on No Lippy @ 11/4 BOG which was available from Ladbrokes & Paddy Power at 5.55pm on Friday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 3.15 Beverley

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Newmarket Classics taking shape

We’re just days away from the opening Classics at Newmarket, and the line-ups are taking shape.

Aidan O’Brien has been dominant, winning three of the last six 1000 and 2000 Guineas. He again appears to hold the aces, with Gustav Klimt and Saxon Warrior towards the head of the market for the Colts and Happily the bookies favourite for the fillies.

Gustav K won the Superlative Stakes as a juvenile and returned to action with a win in the 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. O’Brien spoke after the win, saying: “We’re very happy. Obviously, the ground was far from ideal, but it was nice to get a run into him as it’s a long time since he ran. Ryan said he was very impressed with the way he quickened in that ground. He’s a real good-ground horse. Newmarket is the plan if everything is well.”

The Superlative form has taken a few knocks, but this son of Galileo, out of a Danehill mare, appears to have the right kind of profile.

Saxon Warrior is unbeaten and was last seen winning the Group One Racing Post Trophy. He heads to Newmarket without a prep, as did previous winners Churchill and Gleneagles. A colt by Deep Impact, he looks sure to stay further having landed all three juvenile victories at a mile.

The home challenge is led by Godolphin’s impressive Craven winner Masar, who is trained by the in-form Charlie Appleby. Despite having a fitness edge over his rivals, it’s hard to imagine any of the Craven victims reversing the placings. Roaring Lion was almost 10-lengths back in third, giving the form a particularly strong look.

The Mark Johnston-trained Elarqam is also fancied to go well. Unbeaten in just two juvenile starts, he is the product of two Guineas winners, in the mighty Frankel and the brilliant Attraction. Johnston knows all about the latter, having trained her to that famous 1000 Guineas success back in 2004.

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The handler took the colt for a racecourse gallop at Newmarket during the Craven Meeting and was reportedly pleased with the build-up to Saturday’s Classic. “It wasn’t exactly a hard piece of work,” Johnston said, “and he hardly ended up seeing the other two horses, but he needed the experience of a day out and it’s a concern for me going into the QIPCO 2000 Guineas with only two runs under his belt.

“Elarqam has to improve but I have a lot of faith in his ability. And in a lot of ways it’s more exciting than it was with Attraction as being by Frankel out of Attraction, he’s the best-bred horse I’ve ever trained, the best-bred horse by a country mile that I have ever taken to a Classic. The implications of what sort of stallion he would be, or how popular he might be as a stallion, if he won the 2000 Guineas don’t bear thinking about.”

James Garfield recently captured the Greenham Stakes at Newbury, and it looked likely that Silvestre de Sousa would pick up the ride, but a bruised foot saw the withdrawal of Without Parole, meaning that Frankie Dettori will now be onboard. The Italian said: “He has won a Greenham, which is one of the main Guineas trials. George is very happy with him and we've got to give it a go. He is a bonny little horse and he really tries. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he should give it his best.”

Scott is thrilled to have Dettori back aboard, saying: “I feel for the connections of Without Parole, who clearly has a massive future regardless of missing the Guineas. I felt it was hugely important to have Frankie on board. He knows the horse so well and he has a lot of confidence in the horse. He is the magic man and if anyone can pull it out the bag he will.”

Assessing the 2000 Guineas, Scott added: “Although it looks a more open race this year, there is plenty of depth to it. I think Masar goes there with the best recent form. He is a course and distance winner and he was an emphatic winner of the Craven. Charlie's (Appleby) horses are flying and if we didn't win, I'd love to see Masar win as Charlie is a good friend of mine.”

Qatar Racing has a pair engaged, with the Craven disappointment Roaring Lion joined by the Greenham Stakes fourth Raid. The latter shaped as if Newmarket’s Rowley Mile would suit, and he may prove an interesting longshot. Of Roaring Lion, Gosden said: “We are going to do a little breeze (on Wednesday) and then make our minds up. I think he has come on a lot for his last race.” He’ll certainly need to, if he’s to trouble Masar.

Aiden O’Brien’s Happily is one of 18 fillies confirmed for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on Sunday. She’s an experienced filly, having won four of her seven juvenile starts, including successive Group One triumphs in the Moyglare at the Curragh and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly. That latter success saw her defeating the boys, including Godolphin’s Masar. She disappointed on her most recent appearance at the Breeders’ Cup, though that did come at the end of a hectic two-year-old campaign.

The Ballydoyle maestro is set to send five fillies to Newmarket, including the highly touted I Can Fly. September is a notable absentee.

Charlie Appleby also holds a strong hand in the fillies Classic. He has the Group One-winning filly Wild Illusion and has supplemented impressive Nell Gwyn heroine Soliloquy at a cost of £30,000. The latter is a daughter of Dubawi and proved mightily impressive when accounting for Altyn Orda. Wild Illusion is another by Dubawi and was last seen winning the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly.

Karl Burke’s Laurens is also fancied to go well. She won the Fillies’ Mile at the end of her juvenile campaign, defeating the talented Ballydoyle filly September, by a nose. That looks a strong piece of form, and Burke has been happy with her progress, recently saying: “She did a little bit of work and did it very well. If she runs in the Guineas, she'll go straight there.” She now looks sure to take her chance.

Stat of the Day, 2nd May 2018

Tuesday's Runner was...

4.15 Yarmouth : Ramblow @ 9/2 BOG 6th at 4/1 (Close up, ridden over 1f out, weakened final furlong)

We continue now with Wednesday's...

5.35 Brighton :

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?

Rastacap @ 5/1 BOG

A 7-runner, Class 5,  7f Flat Handicap (3yo) on Good To Soft worth £3752 to the winner...

Why?

Firstly, I started with the racecard (usually a good place to start!) and the Geegeez pace/draw tabs give a good indication of how similar races to this one have played out in the past. I quickly saw that horses who like to lead were most successful and that horses drawn low fared best from that perspective.

So, back to the card itself and I see that not only is our girl drawn in stall 1, but she's the only one who likes to get on with it leading to the Pace Forecast to suggest that Probable Lone Speed would be the outcome today ie she might well get out fast and hope to hold on. Brighton is a tricky place to win from behind in such contests and there's every chance we could nick it from the front and with Luke Morris on board, I'm confident that he'll judge it best.

And now the numbers!

This 3 yr old filly is trained by Mark Johnston and is one of seven runners representing the yard today, but the only one to be sent on the long trip to Brighton, but that's not a worry to me, because Mark's runners here are 31/140 (22.1% SR) for 47.1pts (+33.6% ROI) since 2008. To show, I'm not leaning on old data, they were 7/19 (36.8%) for 4.6pts (+24.2%) last season.

Of those 140 Brighton runners, handicappers are 21/90 (23.3% SR) for 62.2pts (+69.1% ROI), from which...

  • 3 yr olds are 17/64 (26.6%) for 37.5pts (+58.5%)
  • those who last raced 1 to 4 weeks earlier : 17/62 (27.4%) for 70.6pts (+113.8%)
  • over the last 5 seasons : 13/53 (24.5%) for 15.7pts (+29.6%)
  • at SP odds of 6/4 to 11/2 : 14/51 (27.5%) for 10.24pts (+20.1%)
  • at Class 5 : 6/31 (19.4%) for 4.4pts (+14.1%)
  • yard's only runner at the track that day : 9/25 (36%) for 13.9pts (+55.6%)
  • and Luke Morris is 1/1 (100%) for 2.5pts (+250%)

Based on the above, you could concentrate on the following...last 5 seasons / 3 yr olds / Class 4+5 / SP odds of 6/4 to 8/1 and who last ran 1 to 4 weeks ago. Backing such runners stands at 10/22 (45.5% SR) for 29.8pts (+135.3% ROI)...

...whilst more generally over the last two years, Mark Johnston's runners on the Flat over trips of 6 to 7.5 furlongs on ground no worse than soft are 116/679 (17.1% SR) for 162pts (+23.9% ROI) profit, including...

  • those last seen 11-30 days earlier : 62/363 (17.1%) for 82.4pts (+22.7%)
  • females are 46/285 (16.1%) for 161.8pts (+56.8%)
  • Class 5 : 44/189 (23.3%) for 48pts (+25.4%)

AND... Class 5 females returning from a short 11-30 day break are 8/39 (20.5% SR) for 53.5pts (+137.2% ROI)

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Rastacap @ 5/1 BOG which was available from Betfair & Paddy Power at 5.10pm on Tuesday.To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 5.35 Brighton

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Stat of the Day, 29th September 2017

Thursday's Result :

3.10 Newmarket : Summer Chorus @ 7/2 BOG 7th at 9/4 : Steadied start, took keen hold, held up in rear, pushed along 3f out, ridden over 2f out, soon beaten...

Friday's pick goes in the...

3.00 Newmarket :

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

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

Who?

Nyaleti @ 10/3 BOG

Why?

A Group 3 winner two starts ago and then only narrowly beaten at Group 2 last time out. That was over a mile 15 days ago, when she was headed late on, so the drop back to 7f should work in her/our favour as she bids to build on her record of 1 win and 1 place from 2 runs on good to soft ground.

Her trainer, Mark Johnston is 40/335 (11.9% SR) for 139.7pts (+41.7% ROI) on the Rowley track over the last seven seasons, with the following of relevance today...

  • 6-15 days since last run : 26/121 (21.5%) for 263.4pts (+217.7%)
  • at odds of 5/1 and shorter : 26/66 (39.4%) for 33.3pts (+50.4%)
  • at Class 1 : 10/59 (17%) for 15.3pts (+25.9%)
  • on good to soft ground : 6/46 (13%) for 145.9pts (+317.1%)
  • lost by 0.25 to 2 lengths LTO : 5/42 (11.9%) for 168.6pts (+401.4%)
  • runner-up LTO : 7/39 (18%) for 26.5pts (+67.8%)
  • and at group 1/2 : 5/23 (21.7%) for 31.74pts (+138%)

And she's by Arch, whose 2 yr olds are 16/83 (19.3% SR) for 77.6pts (+93.5% ROI) since 2012, including...

  • over 7f : 9/41 (22%) for 29.1pts (+71%)
  • females : 8/37 (21.6%) for 35.6pts (+96.1%)
  • and Class 1 : 3/10 (30%) for 21.31pts (+213.1%)

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Nyaleti @ 10/3 BOG, which was offered by both BetVictor & Coral at 5.55pm on Thursday with plenty of acceptable 3/1 BOG generally available. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 3.00 Newmarket

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Stat of the Day, 14th September 2017

Wednesday's Result :

4.20 Doncaster : Lahore @ 4/1 BOG WON at 7/2 : Held up behind, headway 2f out, led over 1f out, clear inside final furlong, winning by four lengths...

Thursday's pick goes in the...

2.25 Doncaster :

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.

Incidentally, Roger Varian's only other runner on the Doncaster card was also a winner, also in a Class 2 handicap!

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?

Nyaleti @ 10/3 BOG

Why?

A valuable Group 2 contest here for 2 yr old fillies, but perhaps somewhat surprisingly no big blockbuster list of facts and figures!

I'd several angles in with this one and in the end there was too much going on for it all to be purely coincidental, so let's just take a quick look at some of the positive lines of enquiry I discovered...

  1. She's 2 from 4 so far in the UK and won a group 3 race when last seen
  2. Trainer Mark Johnston (admittedly not always the easiest to call right stat-wise) is 4 from 11 (36.4% SR) for 6.07pts (+55.2% ROI) on this track this year with 5 of the 7 losers making the first three home, whilst those priced at 9/2 or shorter are 4/5 (80%) for 12.07pts (+241.4%)
  3. James Doyle rides today, refreshed from a rare day off on Wednesday, yet despite missing out on potential winners by resting is still 12/45 (26.7% SR) over the last fortnight
  4. She's by Arch, whose 2 yr olds are 16/82 (19.5% SR) for 78.6pts (+95.8% ROI) over the last six seasons, including...
    ...over 6f to 1m : 16/76 (21.1%) for 84.6pts (+111.3%)
    ...in non-handicaps : 13/67 (19.4%) for 81.4pts (+121.4%)
    ...females are 8/36 (22.2%) for 36.6pts (+101.6%)
    ...and at Class 1 : 3/9 (33.3%) for 22.3pts (+247.9%)
  5. And a quick look at the pace tab of the Geegeez racecard suggests possible lone speed in this race and we're also told that horses who lead do best over 1m here. So, with an average pace score of 3.75, a whole point clear of her nearest rival, she could well nick a soft early lead and control the race from the front.

...prompting me into... a 1pt win bet on Nyaleti @ 10/3 BOG, which was offered by ten different firms at 5.40pm on Wednesday, so, as ever, the choice is yours! For what it's worth, I'm on with Hills, because if she wins by 2 lengths or more I get a 15% bonus! To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 2.25 Doncaster

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Monday Musings: Expectation vs Reality

I fully expected to be writing here about a nice win for Tarnhelm at Chelmsford City on Saturday evening, but a bad bump from the opponent drawn immediately to her right in the stalls for the five-furlong four-runner contest, put her on the back foot from the outset and there she stayed, writes Tony Stafford.

Trainer Mark Johnston had flown himself back from the sales at Baden-Baden, taking two hours, forty minutes and said: “It’ll be another hour and a quarter to fly home”. He apparently agreed with most people’s expectation that she should win, conveying that opinion to Derek Thompson in a televised interview before the race.

On a night when Boyzone were responsible for a large influx from the environs of mid-Essex, Johnston still had a couple of winners, including a 1-2 in the most valuable handicap, the Betfred Chelmsford Cup to bring him to 174 for the season. Would have been nice if it were 175!

The good thing about racing, though, is that there’s usually another day. Take for example the American four-year-old Gun Runner, third behind at-the-time unbeaten Nyquist and the tough Exaggerator in the 20-runner Kentucky Derby in May of last year. Almost 11 months later he beat all bar Arrogate, the 2016 Travers and Breeders’ Cup Classic hero, in the Dubai World Cup.

It is extraordinary how few horses campaigned at the top level on dirt in the United States, stand the clichéd test of time. Nyquist turned up at the Preakness last year defending an eight-race sequence, but lost his Triple Crown chance when Exaggerator took his revenge at Pimlico. Neither horse ran in the Belmont, but they met again in late July in the Haskell when Exaggerator won again with Nyquist dropping back.

The defining day for the pair came next time out in the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx (Philadelphia Park) when they ran a tag team sixth and seventh back in Churchill Downs order behind Connect while Gun Runner was a battling second, half a length adrift of the winner. Both Classic heroes ended their track careers that day while the smart Bob Baffert-trained Cupid, a disappointing eighth there, has managed only a single run since for his Coolmore owners, admittedly a win in a Santa Anita Grade 1, on May 28. Connect has competed only twice since, again winning both times, in an Aqueduct Grade 1 in November last year, and in May this year in a Belmont Grade 3. Such inactivity suggests training issues for both colts.

The erosional aspect of dirt competition at the top level seems to have at least temporarily debilitated even Arrogate, beaten on both runs since Dubai, first embarrassingly tailed off, and the last time showing a lack of concentration before belatedly staying on for second to stablemate Collected in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Maybe the effects of that spectacular triumph at Meydan have stayed with him. It took a special performance to shrug off the very tardy start he made that day, and perhaps even more significantly, the effort of beating the battle-hardened California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic which possibly left a bigger mark than was expected at the time.

Meanwhile Gun Runner has put together a set of six excellent displays, with only Dubai on the negative side of the ledger, if it is possible to describe a second prize of £1.6 million a “negative”. Since Dubai, Gun Runner, a Steve Asmussen-trained son of Candy Ride, has secured three of North America’s most-prized  Grade 1 races: the Stephen Foster, at Churchill Downs by seven lengths; and two Saratoga highlights, the Whitney, and Saturday’s Woodford in progressively authoritative fashion.

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The double-digits Woodward margin makes him my overwhelming pick for the Classic at Del Mar this autumn, whether Arrogate turns up or not. As they used to say about boxers: “They never come back” and I reckon it will take a character-transplant for Baffert to get Arrogate competitive enough to dent Gun Runner this time.

It is difficult to imagine much of a threat coming from this side of the Atlantic, such are the differing demands of dirt and turf. No doubt, though, the European challenge in the Breeders’ Cup turf races will be as strong as ever and the imminent Irish Champions weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh will provide plenty of clues.

Before that there’s an interesting race at Ascot on Friday, for Team Tooth anyway, as the card features a sire-restricted event. The seven furlong two-year-old race is limited to horses sired by stallions that won over 10 furlongs or more and only 19 – compared with 50 in a race worth half the money over that trip at Sandown last week – are entered.

Raymond has a homebred colt by Mount Nelson, called Nelson River, in the line-up and hopefully he will take his chance. Three Frankels and two Nathaniels are among those set to take on Clive Cox’s well-grown colt so it will be a decent examination for sure.

Mark Johnston has one of them, Elarqam, a 1.6 million guineas buy for Hamdan Al Maktoum, who is by Frankel out of Mark’s multiple champion sprinter-miler, Attraction. When I quizzed him he said, in typically forthright manner: “The race is meant to give an opportunity to staying-bred horses, and Elarqam does not really fit that profile, being out of Attraction”, or words to that effect, without suggesting whether he might be “expected”.

As usual there’s a mix of lightly-raced promising types and well-connected debutants representing major stables, but Clive has been pleased with Nelson River’s progress and we hope he will give the proverbial “good account” if he turns up.

One former Tooth inmate, the Wilf Storey-trained Adrakhan, participated last week in an epic day for the Co. Durham trainer when sharing in a Musselburgh double initiated by Mr Sundowner, the only Scat Daddy ever to be sighted in Muggleswick .

Regular readers will know that I have had a connection with Wilf and his family for more than 30 years. He’d been training for quite a while before that and until this year, the most Flat winners he’d sent out in a single campaign was eight, achieved in 1996 and 1997. In those days he was more active in National Hunt, but the near-inevitability that one day most jumpers’ careers will end with some kind of injury persuaded him to change tack.

Adrakhan won one novice hurdle for Dan Skelton before losing his form and Wilf eventually acquired him. A number of Tooth “culls” had already taken that path and the sheep farmer, capably assisted by chief work-rider, box driver and parade-ring escort – daughter Stella – has eked out wins from has-beens that others would hardly bother with.

The two Musselburgh winners were both in Storey’s own colours, because as he says: “Nobody seems to want to have a horse with us nowadays. The other day I heard what some trainers are charging. What they want for a week’s keep will pay for nearly three weeks here!”

The double made it ten for the year, and with at least half a dozen potential winners still active, optimism is high in sheep-rearing country. “It’s made a big difference having the all-weather at Newcastle. It’s a brilliant track – all the other all-weathers are a long way from here – and we can get there in about half an hour. I wish they’d built it 20 years ago,” he says. Needless to say Storey can’t wait for the busy Newcastle winter programme where he hopes to add a few more to that total.

- Tony Stafford

Permian Death – A Time For Reflection

Sioux Nation established himself as the leading juvenile with victory in a cracking renewal of the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

It’s a race that Ballydoyle have dominated, with this success bringing up an incredible 16 for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Gordon Elliott’s Beckford was defending an unbeaten record, and lost little in defeat, going down by just half a length. The winner had captured the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot on quick ground, and again had conditions to suit. He swept to the front a furlong from home, before holding off the strong finishing runner-up.

Sioux Nation is a substantial unit, and clearly impressed jockey Ryan Moore, who said: “I loved him at Ascot, but I think he's got to have fast ground. At Ascot he took me into the race really easy and he did the same today. I think he's a very exciting colt. He’s bigger than Caravaggio, and I think and hope he's got a big future.”

O’Brien was similarly impressed, saying: “I think his turn of foot won it, he travels very well and quickens very well. Though he's a big horse, he's got a lot of speed. The ground would be a help and you probably wouldn't want to run him on soft. He's by Scat Daddy, like Caravaggio. I don't know if we'll stretch him to seven this year, if we did we could come here for the National Stakes and if we didn't he could go for the Middle Park (at Newmarket).”

It proved to be a weekend of vastly contrasting fortunes, with the disturbing scenes in America of three-year-old Permian breaking a leg as he crossed the line in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. Sending out distress signals turning for home, Mark Johnston’s gutsy colt quickly became tailed off from his five competitors. He’d clearly been feeling something, and the problem became clear as a crumpled at the post, sending jockey William Buick to the turf.

This was the three-year-old’s eighth outing in four months. And though it is impossible to say whether such a hectic campaign could have played any part in his demise, it’s surely worth debating the amount of racing the young horse had experienced between April 14 and August 12.

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This subject is sure to stir a passionate response from all sides, and people will leap to the defence of trainers and their connections, who know a lot more about their horses than I. Nevertheless, the physicality of a horse is such, that great strain is placed on those four fragile limbs. Permian had been running at trips around a mile and a half throughout this campaign, and had been asked for maximum effort in thrilling finishes on five of those eight occasions. The ground at Arlington on Saturday could not have run quicker. Rattling firm ground is not uncommon in the summer sport, but is obviously an added strain on those flimsy legs.

Of course, this tragedy could have happened to a horse on debut, or to one with relatively few miles on the clock. But it’s the intensity of the packed Permian campaign, over a relatively short period of time, that would surely have put strain on muscles, tendons and young bones. Studies at the University Of Melbourne in 2016 found that a high percentage of catastrophic injuries came about due to an accumulation of damage, rather than one singular injury. The make-up of the thoroughbred is such, that our sport will always be prone to such tragedies, and therefore apportioning blame is not the answer.

Johnston was clearly upset with some criticism he received on Facebook and Twitter, when saying: “Social media was fantastic for seeing all of the condolences coming in but there were also bastards blaming us for giving him one run too many. He wasn't even the horse who'd had the most runs in the race, and yet people latch on to him as if he'd had a huge number of runs. Aidan O'Brien's horse who finished second [Taj Mahal] had more runs than Permian, as Aidan's commonly do, because he, like me, believes in racing them.

“He was out there for everyone to see. We didn't hide him away and run him once every three months. That's what made him special in such a short space of time, and we really imagined he'd be racing on again as a four-year-old, and maybe even five.”

Johnston’s comment regarding Taj Mahal is slightly misleading. He is correct in saying that O’Brien’s colt has more career starts than Permian, but he had one fewer outing this term. And though Ballydoyle’s fella has run in good company, it would be hard to argue that he had been involved in so many epic finishes as Johnston’s gritty hero.

There’s no doubting that Mark Johnston and his team will be devastated at the loss of one of their yard. And our thoughts also go to William Buick who took a shuddering fall from the stricken horse. The racing fraternity will no doubt come under further scrutiny from the likes of Animal Aid and PETA, and as such must have as many answers as possible to tough questions raised. If those answers are not forthcoming, then research should be funded to make the sport as safe as possible for those brave creatures that run for our enjoyment and entertainment.

Much has been done to improve the image of our sport, and this work must continue, with horse welfare at the forefront. The Attached piece from Melbourne University is worth a read; Close to the bone

Ascot Showpiece Taking Shape

Frankie Dettori appeared thrilled with Enable as the pair prepare for Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

After taking her for a spin on Tuesday morning, the Italian jock announced that both he and the Oaks heroine are ready for the challenge: “She is just full of herself right now and raring to go. It's been a tough rehabilitation but I'm delighted to report I'm feeling good and getting stronger every day. I'm glad to say the physio is all done but I'm still training myself in the gym and I can't wait for this weekend.”

Sounding pretty revved-up at the prospect of getting back aboard the flying filly, Dettori added: “I got allotted 8st 7lb in the King George which is my bare minimum, so I need to keep my weight down. She was the reason I came back from injury so early. She really is special. I pushed myself so I could ride her in Ireland and it was worth it. The King George is a tough race but I'm really excited. She's getting a big weight allowance (a stone from Highland Reel) so she's entitled to be at the head of the market.”

The opposition looks strong, but the ground is also set to play its part, with the forecast remaining changeable. The jockey continued: “Highland Reel is obviously the biggest danger to our chances. He ran very well at Ascot before, and we know he stays. He's just got a great CV. Her pedigree suggests the ground shouldn't be any issue. I'd never tried her on soft ground until this morning. It was only a small ‘breeze’ but she seemed to handle it. We shall find out on Saturday.”

With the ground likely to run on the soft side of good, the bookies expect Highland Reel to drift further in the market, with Enable possibly shortening to odds-on. O’Brien’s globetrotting star has appeared at his best on quicker ground, though the trainer has confirmed that the five-year-old will take his chance. He looks to emulate Swain (97 and 98) in winning the race in consecutive years.

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“All is well with Highland Reel and Idaho," said the Master of Ballydoyle. "The better the ground, the more it will suit both of them. But whereas they wouldn't want really testing ground, we think they'll be quite adaptable if it is a bit on the easy side. The King George is always a very good race and that will again be the case on Saturday.”

O’Brien then spoke of Gosden’s filly, saying: “Enable has been very impressive winning the Oaks and the Irish Oaks. We've had fillies take her on three times this year, at Chester, Epsom and the Curragh, and we've been very impressed by her each time. She's obviously a very high-class filly.”

Team Godolphin have had a successful campaign to date, and John Gosden looks sure to let Jack Hobbs take his chance, on ground that ought to be more to his liking. Speaking to At The Races, the trainer said: “We always wanted to run him in the Prince of Wales's, but the fact it turned out to be the hottest June day for 40 years and the ground lightning fast was entirely the wrong thing for him. Obviously he's got no problem with a mile and a quarter. He's run brilliantly twice in autumn ground there, but a mile and a half with cut in the ground is right up his street.”

Along with Charlie Appleby’s Hawkbill and Frontiersman, the ‘Boys in Blue’ are set to run three-year-old Royal Ascot winner Benbatl. He’s trained by Saeed bin Suroor, who has won this prestigious event on five occasions. He believes soft ground will help his horse, saying: “Benbatl worked on the Limekilns on Monday and he worked really well. It's so far, so good and he's ready to go – we're just waiting for the green light from the boss. It's a top-quality race, obviously, but he deserves his chance after winning at Royal Ascot. The more rain the better.”

One that now seems likely to bypass Ascot, is Mark Johnston’s surprise package Permian. He’s proved a sensation during a hectic summer, and assistant Charlie Johnston told Sportinglife.com: “I’d make it odds-against that he runs in the King George. We’ve got four options for him on the table at the moment, the two in the UK being the King George and the Juddmonte International and the Secretariat in America and a Group One in Germany in mid-August.

With the priority being to capture a Group One, Johnston added: “If the photo in France last time had gone our way (runner-up in Grand Prix De Paris) and we had that Group One in the bag then we might’ve started rolling the dice at races like the King George or the Juddmonte. But, it didn’t, so the priority in the short term has to be to try and get that Group One under his name and I expect the best chance of doing that would be going abroad.”

As the race starts to take shape, there’s no doubting the calibre of the entrants. This has the look of a stellar renewal. The weather is set to play a part in adding to the intrigue. Nevertheless, in Highland Reel and Enable, we have a talented duo capable of rising to the challenge. This should be a cracker.

Stat of the Day, 20th July 2017

Wednesday's Result :

3.25 Lingfield : Mamselle @ 7/2 BOG WON at 10/3 Tracked leaders, not much room 3f out, led over 2f out, clear inside final furlong, stayed on well to win by 4.5 lengths.

Thursday's pick goes in the...

7.35 Epsom...

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?

Star of Lombardy @ 3/1 BOG

Why?

A fairly short and straightforward explanation for this one.

Epsom is quirky at best and although this is no Derby or Oaks, previous course experience is very handy to have here and our runner is one just two in the contest to have been here before and ours is the only course winner on display.

That win came over course and distance last time out, a fortnight ago and her career stats suggest she'll feel right at home again today, as she's currently...

  • 3 from 9 in this grade
  • 3 from 8 running 5 to 15 days after her last run
  • 3 from 7 in fields of 5 to 7 runners
  • 3 from 6 at odds of 5/2 to 4/1
  • and 2 from 6 under Franny Norton who also rode her here last time out.

Added to the above, we have a small dataset regarding the trainer/jockey/track combination as Mark Johnston's handicappers priced at 10/1 and shorter here at Epsom are 3 from 8 (37.5% SR) for 9.95pts (+124.4% ROI) profit when riden by Franny Norton, whose own record here at Epsom with horses priced at 12/1 and shorter stands at 4/10 (40%) for 26.17pts (+261.7%) since the start of last season alone.

...and so, it's...a 1pt win bet on Star of Lombardy @ 3/1 BOG which was available in several places at 6.30pm on Wednesday with some 7/2 BOG on offer at Bet365 for those able to do so!. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 7.35 Epsom...

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Beverley Preview, 18th July 2017

I'm heading up to Beverley today where my good friend and geegeez forum contributor, Tony Mac, is sponsoring a race. He publishes the Each Way Double Dutch in the forum, and also runs a website called irishbigracetrends.com, which is the name of the 4.45 race this afternoon.

Anyway, seeing as I'm going there, I thought I'd waltz through the card and try to pick out a couple of bets. The video below is my attempt to do just that...

It's a fun day at the track for me - is there any other kind? - but there are a couple I'm having a crack at, as showcased above. Have a great day, and good luck!

Matt

Ding Dong – It’s the Carlisle Bell

It’s rare for a race day at Carlisle to take centre-stage, but today the Cumbrian track holds its most prestigious meeting of the season.

The Carlisle Bell and Cumbrian Plate Day is a truly historic event. Carlisle Races most famous contest (Carlisle Bell) was first run, quite incredibly, in 1599. The race is named after the two miniature bells which were awarded to the winners of the race back in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. They are thought to be the oldest horse racing prizes in the World that continue to be contested for.

The Bells have travelled north from their temporary home at the wonderful National Heritage Centre in Newmarket, where they have been on display in the Under Starters Orders gallery. In 1599 they were presented to the winner of the Carlisle Bell Handicap, having been donated by Lady Dacre of Naworth Castle, just north of Carlisle in Cumberland. The family later had built, and resided in, the better-known Castle Howard.

The prestigious trophies are usually held at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. Geraldine McKay, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said of the historic meeting: “It will be great to have the Bells back here for race day. It’s amazing a prize given out in the days of Queen Elizabeth I has survived 458 years. They have been around for 16 monarchs, 76 Prime Ministers, and the thing we are most proud of – for more than 400 runnings of this most treasured race here in Cumbria.

“We are very excited Bell and Plate Day is here again – it’s our Derby Day – the day that stops Carlisle as thousands take the day off work and head here for a great days racing.”

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It’s a racecourse that is well worth a visit. Just north of the glorious Lake District, the track is located at Blackwell village, a short drive from Carlisle. Facilities are good, and viewing is terrific. The atmosphere is friendly, and all aspects of the course are easily accessible.

The Carlisle Bell Handicap is run at just shy of a mile, and is ably supported on an excellent card by the Cumberland Plate and the valuable fillies Eternal Stakes, formerly run at Warwick, but now permanently a fixture at the Cumbrian track.

Though lacking the fame of others on the day, the fillies event for three-year-olds and run over seven furlongs, attracts classy types, with Mick Channon’s Opal Tiara storming to success in last year’s renewal. With a prize fund of £40,000, the race has again drawn talented fillies from far and wide. Ralph Beckett provides the race favourite in the Qatar Racing owned Bletchley. A comfortable winner at Leicester on seasonal debut, she looks a classy sort.

Roger Varian and William Haggas travel north for the event, and take on last year’s winner Mick Channon, along with a regular powerhouse of the northern circuit, Mark Johnston. Regulars at the course, Kevin Ryan, Richard Fahey and David O’Meara, also have runners on the card, supporting what is set to be a great day.

Racecourse general manager Geraldine McKay is clearly thrilled, and added: “For us to get eight-plus quality runners shows we are getting great support for the race. On the very same day, we have the history and tradition of the Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate and it all adds up to make for a very special day of racing.”

Gates open at noon, with the Red Rum Bar likely to be heaving by 1pm. Get there early, and sample a great day’s racing in the north. The first race is at 2pm, and let’s hope the great British weather stays fair.

Stat of the Day, 27th June 2017

Monday's Result :

5.45 Wolverhampton : Rattle On @ 4/1 BOG 8th at 5/2 Tracked leaders, went 2nd over 3f out, ridden and no impression with winner 2f out, weakened inside final furlong.

Tuesday's pick goes in the...

4.00 Beverley...

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?

Katebird @ 11/2 BOG

Why?

I'll start with a statement of the obvious, this is NOT the best field of horses assembled for a race, even at this lowly Class 6 level! In fact the 10 runners have already raced 60 times between them, clocking up just two wins! The good news, however, is that our pick is 2 from 15, so she has at least won.

She's trained by Mark Johnston, who does well here at Beverley with 109 winners from 452 runners (24.1% SR) here since 2009, generating 95.3pts profit at an ROI of 21.1%, which on its own is an excellent reason to back his runners here, but closer examination of those 452 runners applied to today's race conditions show that they are...

  • 99/397 (24.9%) for 133.5pts (+33.6%) at odds of 11/10 to 12/1
  • 99/364 (27.2%) for 125.6pts (+34.5%) from those with 1-16 previous runs
  • 74/302 (24.5%) for 97.6pts (+32.3%) in handicaps
  • 75/287 (26.1%) for 102.3pts (+35.6%) after a break of just 4-25 days
  • 64/255 (25.1%) for 90.7pts (+35.6%) from 3 yr olds
  • 45/202 (22.3%) for 30.4pts (+15.1%) ridden by Joe Fanning
  • 54/178 (30.3%) for 104.2pts (+58.5%) over trips of 1m2f and beyond
  • 41/164 (25%) for 85pts (+51.8%) in 3 yr old races
  • and 19/55 (34.6%) for 70.5pts (+128.2%) at Class 6

And as Katebird is highly likely to go off as favourite, it's worth noting that jockey Joe Fanning is 152 from 379 (40.1% SR) for 27.93pts (+7.37% ROI) on Turf favourites since the start of the 2013 season, including...

  • over 7.5f to 1m4f : 79/164 (48.2%) for 42.7pts (+26%)
  • at Beverley : 19/44 (43.2%) for 5.88pts (+13.4%)
  • at Class 6 : 17/43 (39.5%) for 10.03pts (+23.3%)

...pointing to...a 1pt win bet on Katebird11/2 BOG which was offered by both Betfair & Paddy Power at 6.20pm on Monday with plenty of more than acceptable 5/1 BOG elsewhere. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.00 Beverley...

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

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

Stat of the Day, 7th June 2017

Tuesday's Result :

4.40 Wetherby : Golden Apollo @ 11/2 BOG 3rd at 3/1 Tracked leader, keen, led over 3f out, headed over 2f out, rallied over 1f out, kept on same pace closing stages.

Wednesday's pick goes in the...

8.35 Ripon...

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?

Pumblechook11/4 BOG

Why?

This 4 yr old gelding has one win and two placed from finished from just five career runs to date and was a very creditable 3rd of 12 runners on his yard debut when last seen 12 days ago.

He'd been out of action for almost 8 months prior to that run and now that new handler Mark Johnston has had a bit longer with him and the cobwebs have been blown off, further improvement can be expected, especially now that he runs off the same mark, but at a lower grade than LTO.

The yard is going well of late with 18 winners from 89 (20.2% SR) in the past fortnight, whilst here at Ripon since the start of the 2015 campaign, Mark's runners are 22/95 (23.2% SR) for profits of 83.7pts at an excellent ROI of 88.1% and these runners include the following of relevance/note today...

  • males are 15/60 (25%) for 81.7pts (+136.2%)
  • those priced at 2/1 to 8/1 are 15/55 (27.3%) for 22.8pts (+41.5%)
  • those last seen 11 to 45 days ago are 14/53 (26.4%) for 47.7pts (+89.9%)
  • at Class 5 : 10/31 (32.3%) for 84.7pts (+273.3%)
  • whilst those ridden by Silvestre de Sousa are 5/8 (62.5%) for 10.6pts (+132.2%)

AND... males priced at 2/1 to 8/1 some 11-45 days after their last run are 7 from 20 (35% SR) for 14.9pts (+74.5% ROI) profit, with Silvestre de Sousa having a perfect 2 from 2 record yielding 7.53pts (+376.5%)...

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Pumblechook11/4 BOG which was available from Betway & Ladbrokes at 7.05pm on Tuesday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 8.35 Ripon

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

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

Time for a Middleham Derby

The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman

The decision of trainer Mark Johnston and owner Sheikh Hamdan to stump up the £85k to supplement Permian for tomorrow's Derby opens the door to a rare event in racing: a Derby winner trained at Middleham, in the heart of Wensleydale. Indeed, so unusual would it be that I can assure you that none of you, your parents, or your grandparents would have been able to remember the previous occasion.

The 1840s was the decade when the first postage stamp, the Penny Black, was issued; the first Morse code transmission took place, and Jane Eyre was published. In 1843 Richard Wagner conducted the premiere of his opera, The Flying Dutchman, and in 1848 a horse of the same name began his racing career. Unbeaten in five races as a two year old, The Flying Dutchman faced a tough task in the Derby the following year, not least because it was his first race of the season and took place at an Epsom racecourse that had been drenched with three days of rain beforehand.

The Flying Dutchman went straight into the lead and continued in front for the first mile. Then he was to be tested. Hotspur was the strongest of his 26 (!) rivals, and appeared to have settled the race as he took over and pulled a length clear. It was time to see what the Dutchman was made of. He had never really been extended in his juvenile races, so when jockey Charlie Marlow picked up his whip, nobody could be sure how the horse would respond. Two taps showed the onlookers, and close to the finish The Flying Dutchman put his nose in front once more.

The Rubbing House

The Rubbing House

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The most unusual feature of his success was the approach taken by trainer John Fobert. His stables, Spigot Lodge, where Karl Burke now trains, lay midway between the Low and High Moor gallops. Go to the High Moor now and you can see the Rubbing Houses, a block of five stalls, one now fallen down, where horses were subjected to the Yorkshire Sweats. An explanation of them can be seen on a panel close by.

"The main use of the Rubbing Houses was during the training of the horses and the method known as the Yorkshire Sweats. The horses would be well wrapped in blankets and galloped over long distances before returning to the Rubbing House to have sweat removed and blankets replaced.

In the 18th century horses did not run just one race on race day. They ran in heats. Rubbing Houses were used between the heats when the sweat was scrubbed off and horses were kept warm until the next heat.

The Rubbing Houses were used for this purpose for a very short period of time as the Yorkshire Sweats method of training fell into disfavour and was replaced by other more favourable training routines."

Running a horse in more than one race a day continued for many years, and The Flying Dutchman had won two of his juvenile races on the same day.

What of this year's Wensleydale contender, Permian? I have to own up to hoping he wins, as I was staying in Middleham barely 100 yards from Mark Johnston's base when Permian won the Dante the other week. It's a connection of the heart for sure, but there are good racing reasons to support him. He knows the track and has no bother with the expected good ground. It won't bother him if it firms up or if there's rain.

Permian is priced at 11/1, whereas Cracksman, who beat Permian by only a short head in the Epsom Derby Trial in April, is only 4/1. And Cracksman missed the Dante because of the soft ground, and so comes to Epsom after only one race last season and one this. I'm with Permian to join the likes of St Paddy, Shirley Heights, Reference Point and Golden Horn and complete the Dante/Derby double.

Oh, and by the way, if you are at Epsom, you can visit The Rubbing House for yourself. It's the pub on the inside of the track just beyond the winning post. Have one for me.

- Ian Sutherland