Tag Archive for: Mick Appleby

Raasel takes Charge in Sandown sprint

Raasel continued his rapid improvement by winning the first Group race of his career in the Coral Charge at Sandown.

Since joining Mick Appleby, he has gone from winning a Goodwood handicap off a mark of 73 in September 2021 to booking his ticket in all the remaining big five-furlong Group races for the rest of the season.

He has now won eight times for his current connections, who bought him for just 10,000 guineas in August 2020.

A Listed winner last time out, he was sent off a 5-2 chance to add a Group Three to his resume but was made to work hard for the victory.

James Doyle found himself at the rear of the field and was made to come around runners, something not traditionally favoured on Sandown’s sprint track, but the turn of foot he showed was impressive as usual.

His main market rival Mitbaahy suffered traffic problems against the rail and once in the clear he was closing with every stride, but unfortunately for his backers, the line came too soon and he went down by a neck.

The winner was given a 14-1 quote for the Nunthorpe and was trimmed to 8-1 from 12s for the King George Stakes at Goodwood by Betfair.

“I hope he keeps progressing. I was more worried about the track than the opposition because I don’t like it!” quipped Appleby.

“It is a weird old track, the five furlongs here, but he got the job done and that’s all that matters. He is improving and I think there is still more to come.

“Obviously we picked him up relatively cheap from the sales and he had a few issues. We ironed them out and he has just kept progressing since. Hopefully he’s still got a bit more (progression).

“More than likely we will go for the King George (at Goodwood.). He likes Goodwood. That will be perfect for him.

“He is very much a five-furlong horse. We have a few options. He is in the Flying Five (Curragh), the Abbaye would be a possibility if the ground were OK – it is normally heavy ground, so he might not cope with that.

“There are options. He is the best sprinter we have had. Obviously he is still improving, but at home you wouldn’t think it. He works on his own, but he is not flamboyant at home. You don’t win anything at home! Who knows what his ceiling will be?”

Goodwood main target for Achilles winner Raasel

Mick Appleby is hopeful there is more improvement to come from Raasel following his Achilles Stakes success at Haydock on Saturday.

The five-year-old joined Appleby’s yard in 2020 after being purchased for 10,000 guineas from Shadwell via the sales ring at Tattersalls in Newmarket.

After a quiet early season on the all-weather, he turned to turf in the autumn of 2021 and went on to win five successive races over five furlongs.

This year the chestnut has been upped in grade, taking on a trio of high-class handicaps over the same sprint trip before beating dual Group One runner-up Dragon Symbol on his Listed debut on Merseyside.

While the next plan of attack is not set in stone, Appleby has the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in mind after a potential tilt at the Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh.

“He’s very well, the handicapper has stuck him up 7lb, so he’s on 108 now,” said Appleby.

Mick Appleby has high hopes for Raasel
Mick Appleby has high hopes for Raasel (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We did half think of supplementing him for Royal Ascot, but we’re not going to go down that route.

“We’re not 100 per cent sure where we’ll go next, we’ve got Goodwood in mind but we’d like to find something before then.

“He might go to the Rockingham at the Curragh, he’s got any entry there so that’s a possibility.

“Hopefully he can improve even more and he could possibly end up an (Prix de) L’Abbaye horse if he just keeps progressing the way he has done.”

Raasel rockets to Achilles success at Haydock

Raasel continued his ascent up the sprinting ladder with a clear-cut victory in the Betfred Nifty Fifty Achilles Stakes at Haydock.

A 10,000 guineas purchase out of Marcus Tregoning’s yard a couple of years ago, the Mick Appleby-trained five-year-old has proved another shrewd buy for successful ownership group The Horse Watchers.

Having racked up a five-timer last season, Raasel opened his account for the current campaign at Goodwood in April before filling the runner-up spot on his latest appearance at York.

The five-year-old was an 11-2 chance stepping up to Listed class on Merseyside and powered home inside the last of five furlongs to get up and beat 9-4 favourite Dragon Symbol – runner-up in the Commonwealth Cup and the July Cup last season – by three-quarters of a length.

“He’s certainly come through the ranks and I remember saying at the end of last season that he could be a lively horse this year,” said winning jockey James Doyle.

“York didn’t set up great for him last time, but it set up perfectly for him today. He’s got bundles of speed and a good kick.

“He has been kind of learning job and these sharp tracks play to his strengths.”

The Horse Watchers syndicate is partly managed by Chris Dixon, who was not present as he was on television duty at Beverley.

He said: “It sounds daft, but I’m not really surprised that he’s done that. Obviously if Dragon Symbol was going to be at his best then we weren’t sure, but he’s just so quick and he’s kept on progressing.

“We got to the point where we wanted to go for a big handicap if we could, but it was a little bit of a wait for a proper five-furlong one so we thought we’d take our chance here and see if he was ready for this kind of grade.

“Apart from at Nottingham at the backend of last year when the ground was probably too soft for him, he’s never really been off the bridle in a race.

“I would think we’ll find him a Group Three somewhere if we can, but the main aim for a while has been the Group Two at Goodwood – the King George Stakes.”

Racing Systems: Flat Trainers, Part 3

In the past couple of articles - here and here - I have been researching and sharing some trainer-based systems for flat racing (turf and all weather combined), writes Dave Renham. And in this piece, I have one more group of flat trainer systems to share. Once again, the focus will be on UK racing from Jan 1st 2009 to Dec 31st 2021 with all profits quoted to Betfair Starting Price (less 5% commission).

As a researcher and writer I feel my job is to share facts and figures and, from there, the reader can make an informed choice. Systems do not have to be rigid: we can use them that way of course, but we have options that allow the selection process to be more flexible. With that said, here are the final four of twelve trainer angles for the flat.

 

Ralph Beckett – The 3yo system

Ralph Beckett was discussed in an earlier article when the focus was solely all weather racing. Here is a different system which could be employed on both the turf and the sand. It has very few rules:

  1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
  2. Trainer – Ralph Beckett
  3. 3yo runners

I have discussed before that in general the simpler the system the better – this is a case in point. Here are the overall stats for the last 13 seasons:

 

 

These are sound figures overall, especially across nearly 3000 qualifiers, and the system has produced returns in excess of 8%. Here are the stats broken down by year. The graph below shows the yearly Return on Investment % to BSP. I am using ROI% as I tend to do with bigger sample sizes:

 

 

There have been nine winning years and four losing ones, with three of the losing years back in 2012 or before. The last five years have all returned a profit so there's some good overall consistency, which is backed up when we look at the yearly win strike rates of these 3yos:

 

 

In twelve of the 13 years, Beckett has returned a strike rate of 15% and above, and only in 2009 did he not exceed this figure (SR was 14.1% in that year). This gives greater confidence in the base line figures.

Digging a little deeper we can see there is further consistency when we split the results by distance. Dividing into three we get the following:

 

 

All distance ranges have made a profit and the returns have been similar at that.

This angle in its raw form will give us a decent number of qualifiers each year. For me it is a case of looking at each qualifier on an individual basis and examining the races they are contesting in more detail. From there I will decide if the horse looks a value bet or not.

Andrew Balding – The 2yo non-handicap system

Andrew Balding has successfully followed in the footsteps of his father Ian starting back in 2003. His strike rate in all races is solid, averaging around the 15% mark, and he is at or near this figure year in, year out. The system I want to share with you relates to his juvenile runners. The rules are:

  1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
  2. Trainer – Andrew Balding
  3. 2yos in non-handicaps

 

This system has produced the following results:

 

 

That is an absolutely huge profit over the past 13 years. There have been a good number of bets again and here is the annual breakdown data, via Return on Investment (ROI%):

 

 

As can be seen from the upward spikes, there have been several extremely profitable seasons, with ten in the black and just three losing years. However, as you might suspect, this system has been blessed by several big-priced winners: in fact, ten winners have returned at a BSP of over 50.0! Clearly, then, a good proportion of the overall profits are down to these runners. The results are definitely a touch skewed.

However, before thinking this may not be the system for you, it should be noted that horses whose industry SP has been 10/1 or shorter have made a profit as well. OK, we are only talking about 9%, but if your shorter priced runners are making a profit, then I think this type of approach has ‘legs’. To reproduce the amazing profits of the past 13 years it will need the odd big-priced winner, but even if these are less frequent, there is a good chance this system will still make a long-term profit.

Finally I want to share the Balding stats in terms of ground conditions (going). He has been profitable on all types of turf going as well as making a profit on the sand:

 

 

Clive Cox – The 3yos in 3yo+ races system

Clive Cox has saddled over 850 winners and, last year, saw his highest tally of winners, 79. Indeed, since 2009, if you had backed ALL of his runners in every single race you would have made a profit of 8p in the £. Not bad considering the sample size is in excess of 5,200 runners. Also, six of the last seven years would have produced a blind profit which is impressive.

Clive Cox has done especially well with his three-year-old (3yo) runners since 2009, especially when they are racing in 3yo+ races. The system reads:

  1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
  2. Trainer – Clive Cox
  3. 3yos in 3yo+ races

Again, there are very few rules which, as I have stated before, is important for the logic to stand up. The overall results show good profits:

 

 

Looking at the annual breakdown, the below figures using BSP profit to £1 level stakes:

 

 

2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018 were all very profitable and these years are why the system has an overall profit. What is interesting, though, is that Cox has not really had any bad seasons. Even in 2019 and 2020 the losses were very modest considering the raw nature of this system. So, despite four seasons contributing to virtually all the profit margin, this system shouldn’t in my opinion be written off due to inconsistency. Whether it is the type of system for you, only you will know. Again my personal approach would be to highlight qualifiers using the rules and then take a more pragmatic approach by doing further research into the horses in question and their rivals in the highlighted race.

A couple of extra pointers: firstly Cox has done better at shorter distances (less than 1m 1f). Secondly, horses that finished in the first five last time have produced 126 winners from 609 runners (SR 20.7%) showing a profit of £299.44 (ROI +49.2%). Breaking the annual results down for this second subset of runners sees an impressive twelve winning years out of 13. Of course we need to ask, is using a last time out finish in the first five back-fitting? Possibly, but even with extra stipulation this angle still has very few rules. Also, if you had restricted to a finish in the first three last time out, the results would have been similar.

There is no easy answer sometimes to whether an extra rule or two is a good idea to a very simple system. If the additional rule(s) has logic then you could argue it either way; if it is not logical then there is no argument – it is definitely back-fitting!

Mick Appleby – The 3yo handicap system

Mick Appleby started training in the summer of 2010. He had just three winners that year followed by 15 in 2011. From 2012 his stable increased in size and, over the next two seasons (2013 & 2014), he saddled 101 winners. In the last five years, Appleby has saddled at least 90 winners each time.

The system is thus:

  1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
  2. Trainer – Mick Appleby
  3. 3yos in handicaps

 

Again a system with very few rules. They have produced some decent returns as we can see in the table below:

 

 

This time we have a slightly lower strike rate than the other angles I have shared, but in handicap races this is generally likely to be the case. Here is the annual breakdown.

 

 

It's a bit of a roller-coaster, truth be told. 2016 and 2021 were huge years but both had one very big-priced winner which helped the bottom line considerably. In 2016, Mick had a winner that effectively paid 253/1, while in 2021 he had one that paid around 194/1 (prices adjusted to account for commission). This takes the overall profit figure down to £246 which still equates to a tidy profit of 18p in the £.

Regarding outliers, Appleby had only one other winner that paid over 50/1 (it paid 70/1 after commission). Restricting the Oakham trainer's runners to an industry SP price of 14/1 or less, his figures remain good: 156 winners from 919 runners for a profit of £154.52 (ROI +16.8%).

Another point worth sharing is that his record is considerably better in 3yo only handicaps. In such contests, the strike rate increases to 14.2% and profits stand at £655.45 (ROI +94.7%). Overall it would have given a much smoother ride from a yearly perspective.

Most systems that solely use handicap races are likely to fluctuate somewhat and hence come with risk. Thereafter, it is the old risk / reward conundrum. For me, once again this system is a case where I would be noting the qualifiers and undertaking further research to determine whether a horse is a betting opportunity or not.

*

So there you have it, the last four trainer systems from a group of 12. It will be interesting to see how they fare over the next two or three seasons. Time will tell.

- DR

Veteran Danzeno delivers in Nottingham feature

Danzeno showed his younger rivals the way with with a hard-fought victory in the It Pays To Buy Irish EBF Conditions Stakes at Nottingham.

Mick Appleby’s evergreen 10-year-old got the better of his four opponents in the closing stages to register the ninth success of his career.

Dubai Station made the early running with Motagally and Tarboosh close up and Danzeno looking to have plenty do at one stage.

However, he found another gear when switched to the far side by 3lb claimer Ray Dawson. Asserting in the final half-furlong, Danzeno (9-4) got home by half a length from Dubai Station.

“It was good to get his head back in front again,” said Appleby.

“He’s not up to these big sprint handicaps any more. The problem is he has to stand in the stalls for so long and he’s not very good in the stalls. With these smaller fields he’s not in them as long.”

Danzeno showed he was still a fighting force just a few days after his 12-year-old stablemate, fellow sprinter Caspian Prince, was retired.

“He’s probably got another year in him, or two,” added Appleby.

“We’ll probably try to find another conditions race for him. They suit him.”

Aristobulus overcame a slow start to make it two wins from three starts in the Moorgate Training Nursery Handicap.

Dropped back to six furlongs after being beaten over seven on his previous start, the James Ferguson-trained youngster appeared late on the scene to land the spoils.

The 9-4 favourite was patiently ridden by Daniel Muscutt, who produced the Adaay colt on the far side of the track to lead inside the final furlong and win by three and three-quarter lengths from International Boy.

“With a bit of ease in the ground today he couldn’t have done it much better,” said Ferguson.

“He was still a little bit green in front and this experience can only bring him on. He was the least experienced horse in the field and if he can build on that, he could have a bit of a future. Hopefully he can progress.

“I may be forced to run him next week, depending on what the handicapper decides to do, but he’s a big boy and whatever he does and whatever plan is made for this year, we need to have next year in mind as he looks a three-year-old rather than a two-year-old. He doesn’t need to do too much more.”

David Probert achieved his fastest century with victory on Typewriter (13-8 favourite) in the IRE Incentive Scheme EBF Restricted Novice Stakes.

Andrew Balding’s filly opened her account at the third attempt by seeing off the persistent challenge of Flaming Lord by a length.

“It is great to reach 100 winners. It is great to get aboard one of Andrew’s as the yard has been in great form,” said Probert.

“It has been a great season so far and I’ve been lucky enough to sit on some nice horses along the way. 

“I’ve never done it this early in a year before, so to reach it in August is a great achievement and a feather in my cap. Hopefully there is more to come.”

Of Typewriter, Probert added: “She gallops well. Last time at Goodwood the seven furlongs was sharp enough for her. She got a little bit off her feet early on but stayed on well and hit the line nicely.
 
“The step up to a mile suited her nicely. She is nice filly with a good temperament and hopefully she will go on to better things.”

Gentleman At Arms (6-1) put up a spirited staying performance under the steadier of 10st 5lb to land the Dave Gee 50th Birthday Handicap.

Jim Crowley managed to get the Harry Dunlop-trained four-year-old to the far rail from his wide draw to lead and he kept pulling out more when challenged in the long home straight to score by half a length from Yagood.

Paul Midgley’s Latin Five (7-2) won for the only second time in 24 starts when hanging on from Boudica Bay in the Moorgate Drink Drive Rs Handicap under Kevin Stott while Secret Potion (11-1) denied Shamarouski by a short head for trainer Ron Harris and jockey Trevor Whelan.

Don’t Joke (12-1), trained by Ruth Carr, had the last laugh when getting off the mark at the 21st attempt in the concluding muktubs.co.uk Apprentice Handicap under Aiden Brookes.

Caspian Prince out to continue Dash domination

Veteran sprinter Caspian Prince bids to win the World Pool “Dash” Handicap for a fourth time from seven attempts at Epsom on Saturday.

The admirable 12-year-old has taken the prize for three different trainers – Tony Carroll in 2014, Dean Ivory in 2016 and Tony Coyle in 2017.

He has also finished down the field three times – for Carroll in 2015 and in 2018 and 2019 for his current trainer Mick Appleby.

The Rutland-based handler reports his stable stalwart to be in fine shape, although he would have preferred a higher draw than four.

Mick Appleby, trainer of Dash regular Caspian Prince
Mick Appleby, trainer of Dash regular Caspian Prince (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He’s in good order. Hopefully he should run well,” said Appleby.

“He’s not got the best draw, though. We could have done with a better one and I hope they don’t get much rain.”

In contrast, Tim Easterby is hoping for easier conditions and is not sure if high numbers for his two runners – 19 for Sunday Sovereign and 16 for Copper Knight – is as much as advantage as it used to be.

“You don’t have to be drawn high these days. A lot of the winners have been coming from low recently,” he said.

“Both are in good form and as long as the ground is good and not too firm, both will run well. The softer the better for both of them.”

Two past winners – Ornate in 2019 and Duke Of Firenze in 2013 – represent Bawtry trainer David Griffiths.

Ornate was in action only last Saturday in the Listed Achilles Stakes won by King’s Lynn, and Griffiths feels that is what he needed ahead of going for the Dash again.

“He came out of the race really well. He had a good blow. He runs off a good mark,” said Griffiths.

“He’s in good form, he loves Epsom and I think his run at Haydock last week will have put him spot on Saturday.”

Duke Of Firenze, who is aged 12, sneaks into the contest right at the bottom and runs off a feather weight.

He has been as busy as ever and will be running for the 15th time in 2021, including on this course when he was third to Recon Mission in April.

“He’s had two wins this year. He’s been running well and ran well at Epsom,” said Griffiths.

“He didn’t run brilliant the last twice, but that’s probably because of the (soft) ground and he likes Epsom. He comes alive there.”

Century Dream goes for a third win in the Cazoo Diomed Stakes.

Trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, the seven-year-old was successful in 2018 and again last year when it was run at Newbury.

Duke Of Hazzard makes his first appearance at Epsom but connections expect him to handle the track.

The five-year-old, trained by Paul and Oliver Cole, is a three-time winner at Goodwood which has similar undulations.

Duke Of Hazzard goes for the Cazoo Diomed Stakes
Duke Of Hazzard goes for the Cazoo Diomed Stakes (Joe Giddens/PA)

“He’s in the best form of his life. We’re very happy with his work. He’s a well-balanced horse so I think the track will suit him,” said Oliver Cole.

A fascinating contender would have been Maximal as the only three-year-old in the field, but persistent rain on Friday led to him being declared a non runner.

The Galileo colt, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, has finished second behind two Classic hopefuls, Hurricane Lane (Cazoo Derby) and El Drama (French Derby) in two races over a mile and a quarter in the spring.

There are four three-year-old fillies in the other Group Three on the card, the Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

Martyn Meade, trainer of Statement, believes the 12lb allowance given to the younger fillies could help give her the upper hand.

Martyn Meade is expecting a big run from Statement in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes
Martyn Meade is expecting a big run from Statement in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Nigel French/PA)

“It is a very generous weight allowance and she is in great form. I think she’s pretty well in,” said the Manton handler.

“It’s a different race to what she has run in before, but I think she can step up to that taking on older fillies.”

Illykato, Nazuna and Thank You Next are the other three, while the older ones include two five-year-olds in Maamora and Posted.

Caspian Prince kicks off 2021 campaign in Dubai Dash

Veteran sprinter Caspian Prince begins what is likely to be his final season in Meydan on Thursday.

Part-owned and trained by Mick Appleby, the speedster officially turned 12 this month but showed throughout 2020 he is far from a back number.

He has had 106 races, winning 21 times and is approaching the £1million mark in prize-money earned. He will be beginning a fifth Dubai campaign in the Dubai Dash, which unusually for him sees him carrying a good deal less than top-weight.

“He still seems in good order. He went out last week and if he’s in the sort of form he showed last year, he should give a good account,” said Appleby.

“It’s unusual for him not to be in a handicap with top-weight, hopefully he should go well.

“He’s got a big following – people like these sprinters, they can follow them year after year. I imagine this will be his last season, hopefully he can get a win and try to go out on a high.

“He’s won almost £1million and, sadly from my point of view, horses like him don’t come along very often.

“He broke a track record at Yarmouth last year and there still won’t be many as fast as he is over that first furlong.”

At the head of the weights is the former Roger Varian-trained Ekhtiyaar, who is now with Doug O’Neill, while Charlie Hills’ Equilateral and Charlie Appleby’s Lazuli also line up.

Danzeno set to bypass Ayr Gold Cup date

Leading Ayr Gold Cup fancy Danzeno is likely to miss the race, trainer Mick Appleby has confirmed.

The consistent nine-year-old has been towards the head of the ante-post lists for the big betting race of the weekend after finishing second in the Portland at Doncaster last week.

Danzeno has never run in the race before and Appleby is favouring a contest at Nottingham instead.

Appleby said: “He was unlucky not to win at Doncaster the other day, it was just unfortunate something came out the other side and beat him.

“He is in the Ayr Gold Cup and though he definitely gets in, he is more than likely not to go and we have near enough decided that.

“I think it is more likely that we will go to Nottingham the week after, as there is a 0-105 handicap there. He has done well this season and held his form well.”