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Punting Pointers: Naas Racecourse

For those of us to the east of the Irish Sea, we are having to currently having to cram on unfamiliar subjects if we have any aspirations of passing our daily wagering examinations. Today's test features a three hour 'paper', starting at 2pm, on Naas Racecourse. For those whose betting at the track has hitherto been blind, this post will attempt to at least partially sight!

Naas Course Constitution

The track is left-handed and has a straight five- and six-furlong piste. Mile and seven-furlong races begin in the chute furthest from the 'pin' on the image below, with ten-furlong and mile and a half races beginning in the straight just after the bend past the finish line.

Races at a mile and a quarter favour fast starters and/or inside draws as there is a dogleg almost immediately, whereafter the course gently arcs left-handed to about the six-furlong point. There is a further left turn with about half a mile to go meaning wider-drawn runners can have plenty of additional distance to travel; there is, however, a half a mile or so straight in which to make a challenge, so the key is not to get hung out wide on the turns.

 

Naas Draw / Pace

5f races

The five-furlong track has had a fairly pronounced low draw bias. That said, at the start of any new season it is important to look to see whether previous biases still hold; often, track maintenance undertaken in the close season can reduce, nullify or sometimes even reverse a previous bias. As things stand, then, the Naas five-furlong picture looks like this:

Those data are based on races at the track since 2009 with 10+ runners, and relate to 'actual draw' - that is, having removed non-runners from consideration (so, for instance, a horse drawn nine but with two non-runners inside him becomes 'actual draw' seven).

The Impact Value (IV, right hand column) for low-drawn horses is 1.48, which means they are nearly one and a half times as likely to win a race compared with random.

At geegeez.co.uk, we devised a metric called IV3 to smooth the curve on individual stall performance. It simply takes the average of a stall and its nearest neighbours: for instance, the IV3 for stall six comprises the sum of the IV for stalls five, six and seven divided by three. The IV3 graph for Naas 5f races looks like this:

We can see a collection from stall four to ten at around 1.0, but higher draws are significantly unfavoured while berths one to three, especially stall one, have a notable edge.

But draw is not a one-dimensional consideration. Rather it needs to be considered in the context of the early pace horses are able to show. The below heat map illustrates the impact of both draw and run style and is clear about the importance of a very prominent early position, in terms of place percentages at least. Those held up, especially from a middle draw, have neither the pace nor the track position to compete generally.

 

1m2f races

As can be seen from the course image above, the ten-furlong range suggests it should strongly favour an inside draw, especially with pace to take advantage of that track position. The data support the logic:

We can clearly see the impact of a low draw on both win and place percentages, and with a strongly positive IV. The Actual over Expected (A/E) figure of 1.32 also implies the market hasn't fully factored low draw importance at this time.

Again, the IV3 chart is unequivocal:

Overlaying pace once more reveals that a low draw coupled with a 'led' or 'prominent' run style is a very big - and profitable - edge.

 

Naas Trainer Form

Overall Trainer Form

The top trainers in flat races at Naas in the five years from 2015 are as follows:

There are few surprises at the top of the overall list, with Aidan O'Brien lording over his peer group in terms of both strike rate and number of winners. From a punting perspective, the runners of Eddie Lynam and Andrew Oliver offer cause for hope.

Naas Handicap Trainer Form

The handicap picture looks different; here we have a number of trainers with solid win rates, numbers of wins and profit figures. Samples are smaller but still not inconsequential, with the likes of Aidan O'Brien, Jim Bolger, Ger Lyons and Jessica Harrington to the fore. These are four of the pre-eminent handlers in the land and they have all been profitable to back in Naas handicaps in recent years!

A word of caution with regards Joseph O'Brien. His seven winners have come at a cost of -27.75 points: clearly they can win but the market overestimates their chance.

Naas Early Season Trainer Form

Focusing only on the months or March and April at Naas, and we are in danger of slicing and dicing our way to statistical irrelevance (assuming we'd not already passed that point!)...

Again, the big guns of APOB, Ger Lyons, and Jessica Harrington are profitable to back. The place strike rates of Michael O'Callaghan, Tommy Stack, Ado McGuinness and Damian English all support their small numbers of winners and suggest they're worth keeping on side in March and April at Naas.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jim Bolger's strike rate in recent seasons has been a cautionary note, while Dermot Weld's horses also look overbet for all that they have a very solid place strike rate.

This article was researched using the Draw Analyser and Query Tool features within Geegeez Gold.

Matt

Monday Musings: The New Abnormal

Just nine days ago my over-riding thought as I contemplated the very strong card at Kempton was still how awful it was that Goshen had been cruelly robbed of his rightful crowning as the best four-year-old hurdler in memory, writes Tony Stafford. Sympathies for Gary and all the Moore family and the owners were intruding ahead of the general feeling that I’d witnessed one of the great four days of Cheltenham.

Just over a week later, along with everyone in the country, if not the world, apart of course from China where it started and where they now claim there have been no new cases for several days - sure! – even Goshen has been put at the back of the brain.

Looking back, there we were, between 53,000 on the first day and 65,000 on Friday talking, greeting and breathing on each other. A good proportion of racegoers at any time are in the older age group. Now 1.5 million of us senior citizens around the country are to receive letters telling us to stay at home for three months to help “damp down” in Boris’s words, the dreaded Coronavirus.

I’ve already effectively remained in the house under instruction from my wife, who will not be receiving such a letter. My only relief from the embargo has been three short taxi-service one-way trips to drop her at shops that have been denuded of fresh meat and fish, bread, pasta, toilet and kitchen rolls and household products. She did yesterday, though, and much to my amazement, come home triumphantly brandishing a copy of the Racing Post, cost £3.90. I wonder what the publication’s 110 journalistic employees are doing to keep that listing vessel above water?

Every day for the past week I’ve been pondering whether I’ve had it, got it or am incubating it ready to transmit to anyone I meet – which pretty much begins and ends with Mrs S. Yesterday she started a daily exercise session, prompted by my difficulty with putting on my socks without sitting down. It couldn’t have been too taxing, but today and on subsequent days it will be ramped up. Whatever you can say about people born and brought up in the old USSR, especially in Siberia, they can be pretty relentless!

I was thinking last Tuesday that the UK racing no-spectator model might work, but that stopped after one day. Then on Wednesday the Irish decided to race on crowd-free, so on Saturday we had Thurles on Racing TV and South Africa’s two meetings on Sky Sports Racing. Somehow, my copy of the Racing Post arrived in time to have a look at the 4.10 from Thurles in which a horse I’d seen run well recently over two miles, stepped up in trip and class for a beginners’ chase.

He’d previously won a hurdle over three miles and was trained by Joseph O’Brien, so more than enough reason to have a good look. I thought he would be around 6-1, checked and found he was double those odds, and had a tiny tickle. Backed down to 9-1, Thermistocles proved once again that young Mr O’Brien can win any race over any discipline at any level and sound jumping and stamina enabled this eight-year-old to beat a strong field with some comfort.

Sky Sports Racing also had yesterday’s Sha Tin card which started at 5 a.m. and featured, almost four hours later, the Hong Kong Derby with its £1 million-plus first prize. Local jockey C Y Ho was entrusted with the ride on the 3-4 favourite Golden Sixty and as he brought him towards the straight he was right at the back of the 14-strong field; meanwhile Aussie rider Blake Shinn sent the 290-1 shot Playa Del Puente into a long lead on the inside. Ho and Golden Sixty came wide, gradually gained ground, but still had at least three lengths to find a furlong out.

Instead of the frenzied tumult had the Sha Tin stands been as usual full of punters, there must have been almost an eerie silence that accompanied the favourite’s continued run which bore fruit three strides from the finish.  The Australian-bred Golden Sixty, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, has now won ten of 11 career starts, and never had a winning margin more than just over two lengths in any of them.

While everything is on hold here – I can imagine just how frustrated the few UK trainers nowadays that concentrate on early juveniles must be feeling – Ireland actually stages its first turf Flat meeting of the year today at Naas. Joseph and his father Aidan both had entries in the first two-year-old race of 2020 in Europe but Aidan’s runner, Lipizzaner, participates.

In between the sparse live fare available, there have been some interesting offerings on the specialist channels and one commentator for whom my regard has grown greatly in recent months has been Mick Fitzgerald. I confess it took ages to get past that gratingly-harsh accent but in a long discussion with John Hunt on Sky Sports Racing the other day he spoke very intelligently on the challenges facing trainers and jockeys, not to mention owners. His thoughts, not least his compassion, equated to the attitude of the Prime Minister and Chancellor as they announced the tightening up of measures to stop the virus.

But now I must return to Goshen. Anyone who saw the Triumph Hurdle on Friday the 13th of March will have been convinced that the margin – some say a dozen lengths – that he held over his toiling rivals coming to the last where he made his calamitous, race-ending mistake, would have been considerably extended by the line.

David Dickinson, the BHA handicapper responsible for two-mile hurdle assessments, had the job of putting the race on a numerical footing. We don’t see the Irish ratings, so the two horses that finished first and second under sufferance, Burning Victory and Aspire Tower, the latter who had a 152 mark pre-race, do not appear on the BHA ratings list.

But Allmankind, Navajo Pass and Sir Psycho, who finished third, fourth and fifth, went into Cheltenham on ratings respectively of 148, 139 and 147 and finished within a couple of lengths, close behind the second who was almost three lengths adrift of the winning Willie Mullins-trained filly.

Dickinson has left Allmankind and Sir Psycho on their existing marks, choosing to raise Navajo Pass to 147, which neatly makes this race a true ratings barometer. If Allmankind is 148 then presumably Aspire Tower could be dropped to 149 from 152 in Ireland and then the winner 152 (less the 7lb filly allowance she benefited from) thus around 145. Of the others Solo, rated 157 after his Kempton Adonis Hurdle romp, ran a stinker and has dropped to 152.

So what to do with Goshen? He was 151 going into the race and on the way he just scooted away from as we have seen some already decent opposition into an overwhelming last-flight superiority, I thought it the best performance (until he exited of course) ever by a four-year-old. I think it was probably only challenged by Our Conor’s 15-length victory seven years earlier which brought a 161 rating.

If the eventual winner had been male, the rating would be 152 and she was hardly going to reduce the margin, yet Dickinson has bottled it! He has chosen to raise Goshen to only 158, in other words suggesting he would have beaten the runner-up by six lengths. Ridiculous, indeed shameful! Not only have Goshen’s connections been robbed of a massive prize and well-earned recognition, the performance has been dimmed for no other reason than small-mindedness.

Goshen should have got at least 165 as I suggested here last week, and that would only have reflected his maintaining the margin to the line, when that seemed a conservative prospect. It’s not an easy job, I realise that, but when it hits you between the eyes, have the decency to admit it!

- TS

Stat of the Day, 23rd March 2020

Saturday's pick was...

3.10 Thurles : Sizing Pottsie @ 9/4 BOG fell at 9/4 (Led, mistake 7th and slight mistake next, pushed along and joined when fell 2 out) Aside from the fall, the jumping wasn't really up to scratch for this level.

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.30 Naas :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.15am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

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

Who?

Hong Kong @ 10/3 BOG

...in a 14-runner, Flat Handicap for 3yo over 7f on heavy ground worth £26,549 to the winner...

Why?...

This 3 yr old colt has already won in the mud here at Naas when scoring by two lengths over 6f last October and his breeding suggests he'll be better in time than his current mark of 88 would intimate.

He is trained by household name, AP O'Brien, who has won this race twice in the last seven runnings and is also 55 from 170 (32.4% SR) for 36.5pts (+21.5% ROI) here at Naas on the Flat with horses sent off at 7/1 and shorter over the last three seasons, including...

  • 37/111 (33.3%) for 38.8pts (+35%) over 6f to 1m
  • 24/78 (30.8%) for 25.5pts (+32.7%) with 3 yr olds
  • 19/68 (27.9%) for 17pts (+25%) in big (ie 12+) fields
  • and 7/19 (36.8%) for 12.6pts (+66.2%) on Soft to Heavy/Heavy ground

...whilst for a broad AP/Naas micro, try 2 & 3 yr olds @ 6f-1m in fields of 7-16 runners = 28/75 (37.3% SR) for 47.1pts (+62.8% ROI).

And that's possibly/probably enough to justify the selection today, but as Hong Kong is now returning from Group 3 action at Newmarket to make a handicap debut here, it's also worth looking at AP's runners making a handicap debut on the Flat and if we do that we see 38 winners from 164 (23.2% SR) for 105.4pts (+64.3% ROI) over the last six seasons, including of note/relevance today...

  • 34/122 (27.9%) for 102.2pts (+83.8%) at odds of Evens to 10/1
  • 28/116 (24.1%) for 85.7pts (+73.9%) with male runners
  • 26/110 (23.6%) for 95.7pts (+87%) with 3 yr olds
  • 19/65 (29.2%) for 91.4pts (+140.6%) over the last two seasons
  • 17/62 (27.4%) for 83.3pts (+134.4%) in races worth £13-75k
  • 9/26 (34.6%) for 37.8pts (+145.4%) at 7f
  • 7/23 (30.4%) for 28.3pts (+122.9%) here at Naas
  • and 5/25 (20%) for 32.3pts (+129.2%) under today's jockey, Seamie Heffernan

...and an AP/hcp debut micro? 3yo males at Evs to 10/1 over last two seasons = 8/23 (34.8% SR) for 28.3pts (+123.1% ROI)...

...but first...a 1pt win bet on Hong Kong @ 10/3 BOG as was offered by BetVictor, Hills & Ladbrokes at 8.05am Monday whilst Coral were a fraction longer, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.30 Naas

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, 23rd March 2020

Saturday's pick was...

3.10 Thurles : Sizing Pottsie @ 9/4 BOG fell at 9/4 (Led, mistake 7th and slight mistake next, pushed along and joined when fell 2 out) Aside from the fall, the jumping wasn't really up to scratch for this level.

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.30 Naas :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.15am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

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

Who?

Hong Kong @ 10/3 BOG

...in a 14-runner, Flat Handicap for 3yo over 7f on heavy ground worth £26,549 to the winner...

Why?...

This 3 yr old colt has already won in the mud here at Naas when scoring by two lengths over 6f last October and his breeding suggests he'll be better in time than his current mark of 88 would intimate.

He is trained by household name, AP O'Brien, who has won this race twice in the last seven runnings and is also 55 from 170 (32.4% SR) for 36.5pts (+21.5% ROI) here at Naas on the Flat with horses sent off at 7/1 and shorter over the last three seasons, including...

  • 37/111 (33.3%) for 38.8pts (+35%) over 6f to 1m
  • 24/78 (30.8%) for 25.5pts (+32.7%) with 3 yr olds
  • 19/68 (27.9%) for 17pts (+25%) in big (ie 12+) fields
  • and 7/19 (36.8%) for 12.6pts (+66.2%) on Soft to Heavy/Heavy ground

...whilst for a broad AP/Naas micro, try 2 & 3 yr olds @ 6f-1m in fields of 7-16 runners = 28/75 (37.3% SR) for 47.1pts (+62.8% ROI).

And that's possibly/probably enough to justify the selection today, but as Hong Kong is now returning from Group 3 action at Newmarket to make a handicap debut here, it's also worth looking at AP's runners making a handicap debut on the Flat and if we do that we see 38 winners from 164 (23.2% SR) for 105.4pts (+64.3% ROI) over the last six seasons, including of note/relevance today...

  • 34/122 (27.9%) for 102.2pts (+83.8%) at odds of Evens to 10/1
  • 28/116 (24.1%) for 85.7pts (+73.9%) with male runners
  • 26/110 (23.6%) for 95.7pts (+87%) with 3 yr olds
  • 19/65 (29.2%) for 91.4pts (+140.6%) over the last two seasons
  • 17/62 (27.4%) for 83.3pts (+134.4%) in races worth £13-75k
  • 9/26 (34.6%) for 37.8pts (+145.4%) at 7f
  • 7/23 (30.4%) for 28.3pts (+122.9%) here at Naas
  • and 5/25 (20%) for 32.3pts (+129.2%) under today's jockey, Seamie Heffernan

...and an AP/hcp debut micro? 3yo males at Evs to 10/1 over last two seasons = 8/23 (34.8% SR) for 28.3pts (+123.1% ROI)...

...but first...a 1pt win bet on Hong Kong @ 10/3 BOG as was offered by BetVictor, Hills & Ladbrokes at 8.05am Monday whilst Coral were a fraction longer, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.30 Naas

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!