Today sees part two of two of the results of the 2011 Geegeez Survey of readers. In this part, I'll be sharing your general betting habits and a few snippets about you (collectively). I've also got news of Julia Feilden's five runners today, and a couple of fancies of my own. So let's get started. Read more
Day Two of the York May meeting is headlined by the pre-eminent Epsom Derby trial, the Dante Stakes. This year, the first three in the betting for the Blue Riband go head to head (to head) in the Dante Stakes, so we are bound to see some serious shaking up in the ante-post Derby betting subsequently.
(Last year's Derby winner, Workforce, became the first horse beaten in the Dante to go on to win the Derby. He was beaten by Cape Blanco, who himself went on to win the Irish Derby).
That trio of Derby fancies lining up this afternoon are Seville, Carlton House and World Domination, representing the powerful yards of Aidan O'Brien, Sir Michael Stoute and 'Sir' Henry Cecil and owners Michael Tabor/John Magnier, Her Majesty The Queen, and Prince Khalid Abdullah respectively.
And what of their chances? Well, as ever with Derby trials, there are plenty of imponderables. All horses will have been lightly raced, all expected to improve this time, and all are likely to have something left to work on between now and Derby day. With that in mind, betting is tricky. But let's consider the merits of this trio, as well as anything lurking in the rest of the field that might have a chance.
The form pick is Seville, who was last seen at the end of last season running up to Casamento in the Racing Post Trophy. That form has worked out quite well, despite the 'too bad to be true' run of the RP Trophy winner in the 2000 Guineas. Native Khan, who was fourth in the Trophy, subsequently won the Craven Stakes before a gallant third in the 2000 Guineas.
Master Of Hounds, third in the Trophy, finished a staying on fifth in the Kentucky Derby last weekend. Dunboyne Express, fifth in the Racing Post Trophy, won the 2000 Guineas Trial, a Group 3, on his only subsequent run.
Even ninth placed Dubawi Gold won two Listed races on the all weather before a superb second spot in the 2000 Guineas behind 'the beast' Frankel.
What I'm trying to say is that the form of Seville's second placing in the Racing Post Trophy is far and away the best public form in the race.
Against him are two, presumably, rapidly improving types who are handled by masters of their craft. Between Sir Michael and 'Sir' Henry, they've amassed nine Derby's, with Stoute just edging it 5-4. In fact, Stoute has the best recent record, having won three Derby's since 2003 (Kris Kin, North Light and last year's with Workforce).
'Sir' Henry last bagged the Blue Riband back in 1999, when Kieran Fallon booted home Oath. Both are obviously to be respected in the context of this race. In fact, the scoreline for the Dante Stakes is 6-5 to 'Sir' Henry, albeit that his last winner in the race was Tenby way back in 1993.
So that's the history lesson, but what of the two equines they send to post today? World Domination has had just the one run this season, when carting up in a warm looking Newbury maiden. Only three horses have come out since, with third placed Reflect scrambling home by a neck in a Salisbury maiden and two down the field runners, Sirius Superstar and Camporosso, finding the frame (the latter from two starts).
World Domination will clearly improve for the run and connections are obviously extremely hopeful. They did however have Arizona Jewel flop badly yesterday.
Carlton House is bidding to give The Queen her first Derby winner since, well ever so far as I can tell. (Leave a comment if this is wrong!). Carlton House is a son of teak tough US dirt horse, Street Cry, who won at up to a mile and quarter, today's race distance. He's out of a Bustino mare so there's stamina on the dam's side too, which gives hope that he'll stay the Derby trip though I'm not certain of that. Any dosage fans out there care to take a look at the four generation view? 😉
What about the form? Carlton House was second on debut in a race that hasn't worked out terribly well (two winners from 21 subsequent starters), before decisively crushing a large field by nine lengths in a Newbury maiden. That was on good to soft, and his debut was on soft, and he may well improve for faster ground.
That second run has worked out better, with four subsequent winners from the top ten in that race, including Yaseer, who reopposes today.
Of the rest, Yaseer was then beaten by Native Khan, which gives him plenty to find with both Carlton House and Seville; Pisco Sour is exposed and not good enough; and Ashva was beaten in a Class 3 handicap last time (say no more).
It's Seville for me, as long as he's fit enough on debut. He is a clear form pick and the improvers will need to find something like two stone even if Seville hasn't himself improved, which he probably has. That's possible of course, as they are both less exposed than the selection...
I shall be there this afternoon to cheer Night Orbit in the last, but the card kicks off three and a quarter hours earlier, at 1.30, with an impossible sprint over five furlongs. The three winners of this race were priced at 11/1, 16/1 and 33/1, so I'll take a speculative chance on something at a price.
Five furlongs on good ground looks ideal for Judge 'N Jury, and his York record (5th in this last year, 2nd of 20 here since) means he could be thereabouts. On the minus side, he hasn't won since 2009 and may be slowing up at the age of seven. Nevertheless, he's a (well backed) 16/1 shot today, and might run well.
In the 2.00, the Middleton Stakes (Group 2), we've a treat with top mares Midday, Music Show and Timepiece heading the field. Midday is undeniable the best of these, but... she hasn't won on her first start in any of her three racing seasons, and she will certainly be geared at bigger contests later in the season. On that basis, I think there's value to be had opposing her at around evens.
Timepiece is another who has taken a run (or three) to get match fit in her two racing seasons, and in a warm race the one I'd side with each way is Music Show. She deservedly won her Group 1 last season in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket's July meeting, having been unlucky in the 1000 Guineas (drawn on the wrong side) and third in the Irish equivalent.
I don't believe Music Show is a better mare than Midday, or even than Timepiece necessarily, but she will be fit to fight today, having had a seasonal debut in the Sandown Mile, another Group 2, against the boys. The reservation with her is the trip, as this is the first time she'll have stretched out beyond a mile and the extra quarter mile may be too far for her.
At a bigger price, Nouriya appeals a little too. She was on the up and up last season and a run against the boys last time will have got her to concert pitch for this afternoon. Her trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has won this race three times in the last eight years, and he is a whizz at improving older horses. She may well run better than odds of 16/1 suggest.
My Dante thoughts have been shared above, and the next race is the Hambleton Stakes, a Listed handicap over a mile, at 3.00. Julia Feilden's Spirit Of Sharjah runs here and, whilst the trip might be a little beyond his optimum seven furlongs, the grade is spot on.
He finished seventh in this last year off a five pound higher mark, and he'll give us a run for small each way wagering.
Taking the Feilden blinkers off, another I like in this contest is last time out winner, Light From Mars. He has Tom Eaves on rather than the brilliant Mickael Barzalona this afternoon and that is a small negative (no offence, Tom), but that was a very solid run and over optimum conditions, he should run well.
It should also go without saying that these massive field handicaps are not my speciality so I won't be betting big and I wouldn't encourage anyone else to take a strong view on what is little more than a token offering.
The 3.35 follows, and this is conditions sprint with an odds on favourite, Night Carnation, bidding to double up after a last time out success. She has a good chance of doing just that, but at 5/6 she doesn't tempt me. We'll get paid three places unless there are two non-runners, so each way is the play.
The second favourite, Margot Did, would have been the one if this race was six furlongs. She's got no five furlong experience and may just find this a bit too quick. Certainly at the price she has a little to prove, though not too much to find if she's as effective at the shorter trip.
Fillies have won both runnings to date of this both sex contest and whilst the two mentioned above are also the fairer sex, the each way tickle for me here is Shoshoni Wind. She's another last time out winner, and might have as much improvement as the favourite. At 11/1, she'll pay more for a place than Night Carnation will to win, and she'll do for me.
the 4.10 is a two year old maiden with lots of unraced babies. I'm following the form of Hamza's race and as such will be having a tiny tickle - each way again - on Art Dzeko, who was well beaten by Hamza the last day. He's a 33/1 chance who will improve for the run. Whether he's (anywhere near) good enough to make the frame remains to be seen.
At the business end of the market, Mick Channon's Noor Zabeel may be the one. Channon has a good handle on the juveniles having saddled Gatepost to the most impressive performance so far from the 'baby brigade' and he'll know where he is with these. Of course, something unraced could easily trump the experienced entries, but I do like the juniors to have the benefit of a run, so Noor Zabeel is the suggestion.
Finally, and most interestingly for me, the 4.45 is a two and a quarter mile handicap, featuring two Feilden inmates, Blackmore and Night Orbit. The latter is part-owned by me, and I've donned my best suit to cheer him home.
He's a tryer, albeit at a moderate level, and he will appreciate the ground, trip and pace of today's race. Greg Fairley again takes the mount, which is another positive and, without meaning to get too excited about his chances, I think he could make the frame. I'd certainly hope that he beats more than beat him but, in a field of eighteen, that won't necessarily reward financial support.
Blackmore is a better horse, with more class. He also has seventeen pounds more in weight to lug here, and I'd be hopeful that we can beat him with the concession. Of course, the Blackmore mob are themselves hopeful of a good run and such is the blinkered manner of horse owners!
With a bit of luck both can make the top six, and with a massive stroke of luck, one of them might win.
Last year's winner, Hollins, is a big danger if he's back to that sort of form; and Hawrdige Star is capable of winning first time out.
Best of luck to you with your Thursday picks, and come on Night Orbit!!!!! 😀
Just a quick post to tell you that, after Smarties Party's disappointing run last Friday at Ripon, the other three horses I have interests in all run this week... and an ex-Geegeez Racing Club horse also runs tonight.
Now it's entirely possible that they'll all get turned over, but it's quite exciting to have so many mini-interests. I feel a bit like Sheikh Mohammed must do on a quiet week! 🙂
Anyway, Smarties Party - in whom I own a small share - has been a little disappointing recently but she'll be back at Sedgefield, where she won her only race, next time on May 18th.
Between now and then, a quartet of current or ex-Geegeez / Bisogno equine interests contest races up and down the country.
This afternoon, at 4.50, on the Norfolk coast (Yarmouth to be precise), Sail Home will carry topweight in a 0-60 contest with Adam Beschizza doing the steering. She's capable of winning in the grade and is going well at home, but... but... the ground is plenty firm enough for her. Indeed, if Adam decides it's riding genuinely firm in his earlier races, she'll not run.
If she does, and she doesn't mind the hoof-rattling experience, she ought to go close.
Then, later tonight, up at Sedgefield (7.45), former Geegeez Racing Club inmate and confirmed stroppy mare, Always De One, bids to break her duck in an amateur rider's handicap hurdle. Now trained by Ken Clutterbuck, there will be much for the Geegeez Racing Club mob to discuss with Ken at his Newmarket boozer on Saturday morning over bacon sandwiches should this one win or go close.
[About forty of us are descending on Newmarket for our biannual club day, and Ken is providing a refreshment stop at his pub, The Wheatsheaf, before we head on for the rest of our activities: gallops, stud, stables, racetrack, pub!]
In truth, ADO has something to find, but in a race where none of them can be especially trusted (with the possible exception of the Veronicas Boy), she might have a chance. First time visor is a negative for me, though.
Then, on Thursday, I'll be at York for the Dante meeting. Night Orbit will be too, where he'll take on seventeen rivals including teammate, Blackmore, in the 4.45 race over two miles two furlongs. Greg Fairley again takes the ride after a fine performance in the saddle the last day at Pontefract (2m6f on the flat!), and - whilst it's a Class 4 race, which is better than he normally contests - he'll definitely stay and the likely quick pace will be in his favour.
Blackmore is a good horse. He's rated 75, which is fair, and he'll win more races this year. Obviously, there will be an interesting stable battle ensuing here, and the champion jockey, Paul Hanagan, can't hurt his chance.
But Night Orbit has a decent each way squeak, and I'll be betting accordingly.
Finally, after Newmarket's day at the races on Saturday with no particular personal interest, Khajaaly is likely to get an entry for Wolverhampton on Monday. He's very well and we've just been waiting for a race for him. Fingers crossed that he will again be competitive and, who knows?, maybe even win for a third time this season. That would be too much to ask really, but that's why we do it! 😀
Watch out for these and cheer them on, whether you back them or not. They need your support!
Back tomorrow with a look at the York meeting.
Well, what a fantastic day that was, dear reader, as a small throng of us descended onto Newmarket with the express purpose of allowing ourselves to be entertained by horses. And so it transpired!
Our day took in several Newmarket staples: the National Stud, Julia Feiden's stable in Exning, Newmarket's Rowley Mile racecourse, and finally the Rutland Arms on the High St (not to mention Mrs Merry's magnificent boarding house at the top of town!)
We all convened in the cafe at the National Stud, prior to our 2pm appointment with Jane, our tour guide for the afternoon. A pedagogue for sure, Jane was also extremely knowledgeable about her subject and was excellent company - and value - for a full ninety minutes of commentary and interaction.
Our first stop was the stallion house, and 'the boudoir' as it's known (where the boys and girls go bunky-uppy!). We were treated to a parade by a National Stud stalwart in Pastoral Pursuits (winner of the July Cup in 2005, and daddy to ), and a newbie in Cockney Rebel (winner of both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas in 2007).
The latter was a good bit more feisty than the former, as he's not yet settled into his new job...
Now then, it's a tricky subject to cover is covering, so let's get it over with (a sentiment echoed by one of the boys here too!). Covering is the act of a stallion hopping on and doing the biz with a lovely young lady horse, with the intent of making a lovely (or at least athletic and therefore lucrative) baby horse.
There's a real science to it, and we were all in the thrall of Headmistress Jane as she shared the why's and wherefore's of the covering process.
Key stats are that Pastoral Pursuits broke a nine year old record just two days ago, by 'finishing up' in just 45 seconds. On the other hoof, Myboycharlie is clearly somewhat more leisurely as he regularly tops the ten minute barrier.
(The mind boggles at what effect this has on the covering crew whose task it is to oversee these amorous activities!)
Then it was time for 'here's one I prepared earlier', as we went and bade good day to a relatively new-born foal. I can't quite remember his breeding now - perhaps one of the attendees wrote it down? Leave a comment if you did, please - but he looked a skittish, happy camper. Mum seemed relatively unperturbed by the large gathering who'd convened too.
There was barely time for a swift toilet break before we hurtled headlong through Newmarket to the neighbouring village of Exning, home of Harraton Stables and John and Julia Feilden (and some furry friends of ours).
We got the full stable tour, including an introduction to a grey horse, Emma's Gift, who won on Wednesday night at Bath (you can see her in the video - she's pretty laid back); and a look at the new recruit who is waltzing by Emma on the gallops.
Whether she transfers that talent to the track remains to be seen, but the yard is pretty excited about that one.
Then, of course, we went to meet our ladies. Baggsy looked really well, and is entered on Monday at Wolverhampton. There is a number of horses in the race that need to absent from their declaration in order for Baggsy to get in, which is a shame because she needs some action. (Don't we all?!)
Always De One came out next, somewhat reluctantly, and she appears to be something of a madam. Physically, she's a beast. A big strong sort who looks like a four mile chaser, she needs to apply herself the job a bit better mentally. Whereas Baggsy welcomed all-comers for a stroke and a polo, it was for the brave and foolhardy only approaching Always with good intentions!
Night Orbit was also on parade, and he looks fantastic. He's going to race in the next fortnight, all being well, probably over two miles on the flat, prior to a tilt at novice chases over the summer.
After spending a fair amount of time with the Geegeez geegees, John did his party trick, by showing us the full on cordon bleu diet that the horses are indulged with each day. Everything from a multi-vitamin syrup that looked like it was being poured from a can of Castrol GTX to the famously healing (and infamously expensive) manuka honey makes its way into our four-legged racing machines, via molasses, cider vinegar, oats, and the Lord only knows what other natural goodness.
Seriously, if there is a better fed string of horses in Britain, I want to grow another pair of legs and live there!
After the stable trip, it was time to hit the track. And, ostensibly at least, the track hit back! Results were tough to predict. Luckily for us, though, we had a number of judges in our midst - including Gavin's big-price-tipping brother, Gary, who rolled in with 16/1 Follow The Flag (also put up by Kieran, well done men!), and Tom Folan at 8's in the last.
Sadly, I had my own ideas and, with beer fueling betting (a fatally potent cocktail), I threw much cash at the 'away' meetings, and sustained reasonably heavy losses.
No matter, for the weather had done its best all day to crack a smile, and we would now retire to the bar at the Rutland Arms. (Too) many glasses of the black stuff later, and I retired shortly after midnight to my very comfortable lodgings at Mrs Merry's on Birdcage Walk (highly recommended).
This morning was difficult, hangover fully resident in cranium, and again I have Mrs Merry's marvelous culinary skills to thank for absorbing as much of my drunkenness from the night before as could have been expected.
All in all, we had a wonderful time, and the video below gives a little window on the day for those who weren't with us. (I stopped filming before the races, in order to concentrate fully on drinking and losing money...)
p.s. Remember to keep an eye out on Tuesday, for a brilliant freebie I've got for you!
p.p.s. Have a great weekend! 🙂
What a few days it's been, dear reader, and what a week we have coming up. From Scotland to Ireland; from David Peat to James Fitzmaurice; and from Pall Mall to Wolverhampton; it's a veritable mixed bag in today's post...
So let's get to it.
Firstly, a quick gloat about the big race on Saturday, the Scottish Grand National. My choices were highlighted here earlier in the week for all to see (and aligned remarkably with a number of other sources of online goodness, notably Gavin's Festival Trends).
Thirty runners and four miles of racing later, Merigo stayed on well to repel all challengers, principally last year's runner up, Gone To Lunch. In so doing, they managed a 1-2 for my trio against the field (the other, Auroras Encore, ignominiously parting company with the jock at the very first fence).
18/1 was the price of the winner; or 24/1 on the tote; or 26.71/1 Betfair SP.
For those adventurous enough to play the forecast (that certainly wasn't me!), the exacta paid Â£207.70. Nice.
OK, gloat over. Onwards and downwards!
Now then, unless you've not signed up to a single email list in your life (and if you're reading this, it probably means you have), you will have received one or more mail notes regarding a certain James Fitzmaurice, who runs the website at bettingsystemtruths.com.
Whilst I don't know James personally, I have followed his progress online (as I do with many others), and I've been impressed with the niche he's carved for himself.
As far as I can tell, James started out with some questionable ideas a few years back, but has since had a sort of online epiphany and become a straight talker, and someone who tries to steer systems buyers towards the good products.
Clearly, in so doing, he will upset some product owners. That's the nature of his approach.
However, the email that was sent out - upon which I've no desire to dwell - had at best tenuous and circumstantial evidence within it, and at worst libelous acerbic invention.
It's not my job to defend James (he's big enough to do that for himself), but it could just have easily have been me that was the subject of such an attack (and indeed I don't rule out the possibility of that happening despite my stainless reputation, such is the seemingly arbitrary nature of these emails).
Anyway, my point is that in my opinion James is a decent bloke trying to do right, and I was surprised and disappointed at the lengths that this anonymous (naturally) spammer had gone to.
Changing the tone completely, I've got a new poll up where I'm trying to learn something about you wonderful people, as a whole. It's a demographic question, oh yes.
I want to know in which decade you were born. The whole thing is completely anonymous, so don't fret about being 'outed' as ten years older or younger than you typically present yourself 😉
Anyway, it's also optional so if you don't want to share, then don't. If you don't mind though, it helps me understand to whom I'm writing. (And, of course, helps to better write to you and for you).
Thanks a lot in advance.
Next up, it's the Punchestown Festival this week: a five day puntathon that will test the mettle (as well as the wallet and the liver) of even the hardiest wagerers.
I did some research for the Irish Field around favourite performance, and came up with some interesting findings, depending on whether the horses had run at Cheltenham's Festival or not.
You can find those finding on my horse-racing.ie site here: Punchestown Festival 2010 Pointers.
Good luck if you're going to Punchestown, or simply punting on it.
You'll note that this is a shortish post today, despite the breadth of subject matter. The reason for this is of course the big live events this Thursday and Friday, on London's Pall Mall.
I'll be hosting two days of instruction, with fun and sandwiches to boot.
I finished my presentation materials yesterday, and now I'm really excited about the events themselves, which will be the springboard for twenty or so new players in the market over the course of the next year. You're sure to hear about many of them here in coming months.
It does however mean I will be heavily distracted this week, so if you don't get a reply to your email in the normal time frame, please bear with me. And if there isn't much going on here on the blog this week, please bear with me.
I've promised to give my undivided attention to my Platinum group, and that is exactly what I am committed to doing.
Normal service will resume here in a week or so's time. Thanks for bearing with me between now and then.
Also this week, the Geegeez geegees return to the track!
Tomorrow, Always De One has an engagement in the 4.45 at Wolverhampton and, whilst she's almost top weight in what (according to the handicap range at least) is a moderate contest, she might struggle against some unexposed types.
There are four runners (from a field of thirteen) who have had the obligatory three maiden starts to get a handicap rating. Often these horses leave their previous level of form behind when they hit handicap company.
The one that might be 'darkest' is Lucky Traveller, who was outpaced in his three starts... over five and six furlongs. He now races over a mile and quarter! Hmmm... He might be just a poor horse, or he could improve considerably for the extra half a mile! Time will tell.
That said, on known form in the book, Always has a decent chance. She's second best on speed figures, sixth best on Racing Post Ratings, and third best on official ratings.
The application of cheek pieces will hopefully keep her focused, as she can run a little lazily in spots, and she's well enough drawn.
Finally, the fact that I cannot attend tomorrow (for reasons already highlighted) give her an excellent chance. Despite owning bits of winning race horses through this century, the last time I was actually present at the track when one of my interests won was...
21st February 2001Â !!!!
I'll be backing her each way and hoping for a bold show.
Later in the week, on Saturday to be precise, Baggsy is entered in a fillies' race at the same venue. She's towards the bottom of the ratings bracket for the race, so may or may not get a run. We can forget her last race (as she was in season), and she'll be ready to give a good account of herself. I've yet to see the entries so can't say whether she might trouble the judge at this stage.
Finally, Night Orbit is now in fast work. He'll have a run or two on the flat when the ground eases, and then we'll plan a summer novice chasing campaign with him. As a 124 rated hurdler, he'd have a chance of winning one or two little races before the big boys come out to play in October/ November. Early days but a lot to look forward to there.
Finally, did you get hold of David Peat's free systems compendium yet? If so, I hope you liked it.
If not, you can grab it from the link below. You can also sign up for his bang in form Horse Profiles services which, as I explained on Friday, is excellent value at around Â£8 a month (Â£57 one time payment).
That's all for today. If you backed the winner in the Scottish National, or if you took a look at David's stuff, or if you have a fancy at Punchy this week, or if you know James or have a view on 'that' email, or if you've anything else you'd like to mention...
LEAVE A COMMENT! I love 'em!
[Aaaaargh, apologies for the ridiculous email subject which might have brought you here.Â A fatal copy and paste cock up from yours truly... Sorry, sorry, sorry. One of those weeks!]
A short-ish post today, dear reader, to mention a few dispatches. One of my horse-y interests is running today at Huntingdon, I'm updating you on the results of the Betfair Conspiracy (what a hornet's nest that's proven to be!), and I've got a spot of Thursday Fun to boot.
First up, dear old Olly runs at Huntingdon in the 3.35 race. There's only five runners in a novice hurdle, but two of them are rated 140+, and trained by Messrs Henderson and Nicholls.
My suspicion is that they might not go that searching a gallop, and that will probably find Orbit out. However, that said, I'd hope that he'd be able to nick third, with a bit of luck. Again, and mainly because I'm a hopeless romantic, I'll be backing him each way, but I couldn't really recommend the same to anyone else!
Incidentally, and I wonder if they know, but a bizarre quirk of fate will see Orbit race against one of only three siblings from his mum's side. His ma, Dansara, has been a great mare, producing four race horses: Self Defense (high class hurdler), Dance World (won four races, including a hurdle for Julia, Olly's trainer), Olly himself (flat turf, all weather, and hurdle winner), and Sarando.
Sarando opposes today, and he himself is already a hurdles winner from four starts.
Good luck Olly, and - along with all the others - come back safe!
Onwards, ever onwards, and although I wasn't planning to, I think I'll track the Betfair Conspiracy selections for a week or two. I've put the ones I've sided with up on the blog over the last couple of days, and will continue so to do for several days to come. (Note, we all know that such a microcosm is far from ideal in terms of system tracking, but it does serve a purpose for those who've purchased to compare their picks with mine - and they don't need to be exactly the same).
Today, I'm going in with the 2.00 Huntingdon and, somewhat more contentiously perhaps, the 7.40 Kempton.
For those following as users, I discounted the Hun 3.35 because of trip concerns; the Hun 5.10 due to fitness and trainer; the Sou 2.10 for fitness and track; Sou 2.40 collateral form (wouldn't have bet anyway, too short); Sou 3.45 because of the pilot / track; and the Kem 6.10 on form, or lack thereof.
Conscious that that will mean little or nothing to most, I hope it adds some colour to the systems owning and paper trading minority.
I'll also start to publish the cumulative results from tomorrow. One horse made late headway to finish 4th, beaten a neck out of the places yesterday, which was the only blot on an otherwise unblemished copybook.
At Betfair SP, I'm currently showing 3.2% up on my starting bank. If I'd included the horses that I excluded because they were too short (i.e. 1.25 or less), I'd be showing 4.3% profit. [This will all mean more from tomorrow, when you're looking at the same numbers I am...]
Lastly today, just time for some Thursday Fun, which kind of sums up my mood these last few days. How easy it is to be misconstrued when you're just telling it like it is...
Well,Â dear reader, as eventful race meetings go, Newbury on Saturday was up there with the best of them. And, as obvious as it sounds, it was the jumping that decided these jumps races.
First up was my own (part) dear old Night Orbit, who was sent off a slightly unflattering 40/1 for the 2.00, a 19 runner 0-140 handicap hurdle. Hadden Frost came in the for ride, as AP McCoy decided he didn't want to take any risks ahead of his date with Denman destiny in the subsequent race.
'Olly' (as we call Night Orbit) was to set the pace, and Hadden had received his instructions from John (Julia's husband) and eight of us(!): he was to make the running, not worry about Olly hitting a flat spot as he gets a bit lazy in his races, and keep asking him, because we know he responds for pressure.
Off they went to post and - as the tapes went up - all was looking spot on for us. We'd worried that there might be competition to lead, but there wasn't so Olly and Hadden got their own way out in front. After a full circuit, and two of the three miles of the contest, Olly was still there in front, but with an ominously packing fields breathing down his neck, across his withers and all over his tail.
It was at the eighth flight that possible triumph was supplanted by instant tragedy, as a bungled take-off by Olly led to an excruciating landing for Hadden. I've watch the re-run of this hurdle over ten times now, and I can tell you that our horse did his pilot no favours. He sort of 'forgot' to lift his legs at the obstacle - which he does occasionally do, because he gets so switched off in the race - and in the process of righting himself on the landing side, went down on his knees.
The customarily imperious rhythm of horse and rider was sent into upset and, as Olly came up to the running position, so Hadden was still going down to the 'hang on to the horse's neck for dear life' position. Alas, there would only be one winner of this difference of opinion, and young Frostie was catapulted from the saddle, and directly under the hooves of a peleton of the full complement of the remaining eighteen riders, at least six of which were in a direct - and uncircumnavigable (if that's a word) - line behind Olly/Hadden.
The long and short of this long, short story is that Olly sustained a cut to one of his hind legs as another racer jumped into the back of him.
Hadden was less fortunate. His face was streaming with blood when he came back in, testament to the fact that he'd taken a nasty kick in the chops. In fact, when he did return, he was also carrying two of his teeth, though a suspected broken nose proved inaccurate (thank heavens for small mercies. Here's how the Racing Post reported it (with my artistic, and slightly cheeky, artistic interpretation of how that photo might look now):
Of course, it's usually no laughing matter when the partnership of equus racingus and homo sapians detaches, and it's a stark reminder of what these brave (foolhardy?) boys and girls do up to seven times a day for a hundred quid a throw. Get well soon Hadden, and I hope the chops are as sparkly in due course as they previously were.
Now then, aside from my self-indulgent and meandering Night Orbit story, that was the nub of this post anyway. Those large fence like impediments between the start of a race and the finish are what prevent National Hunt racing from being Flat racing (with the exception of bumpers, natch).
So, apart from the stamina to deal with the extended distances, horses require one other non-Flat attribute: the ability to rise at speed whilst lugging ten stone of humanoid and a smattering of lead and leather, and to land at similar speed t'other side of the aforementioned obstacle, whilst still transporting their cargo.
Most do, and occasionally some don't. Night Orbit may have been the first to unglue his jockey, but he wasn't the last, and by no stretch of the imagination was he the most significant in 99.99999% of racing enthusiasts' minds, at least.
That dubious honour fell the a certain champion jockey aboard a certain former champion 'steering job'. As has been well documented elsewhere, though from much the same source (such is the strength of the Press Association these days), Denman made a horlicks of the third last and then, excuse me, fair twatted the second last, giving McCoy no chance whatsoever.
So what are we to make of this most unexpected and quite unsatisfactory fencing debacle? Here are my thoughts, for what they're worth:
1. Denman was not going brilliantly at the time of the first error, and McCoy clearly expected to be a good bit further in front of the virtually upsides Niche Market. A sound judge with whom I watched the race suggested Denman was emptying out, and may not have won even with a clear round. Whilst that's obviously moot conjecture, it is an interesting perspective from someone who is a fine reader of races.
2. It is of greater concern that, after hitting the third last, neither horse nor pilot were able to regather themselves sufficiently to make any attempt at clearing the second last. It's harsh to blame McCoy for this, as he'd have had to pick Denman up and lob him over to get to the other side. We've seen McCoy metaphorically do this numerous times, but Denman's a far bigger unit than most, and takes more lifting and - seriously - more knowing. This was a partnership that was still in the awkward 'not sure what to say to each other' stage of courting on the eve of Valentine's Day.
3. What happens next? Two things:
3a. Firstly, and - I hope - obviously, Denman was probably 75-80% fit yesterday. Paul Nicholls, his many times Champion trainer and Gold Cup trainer extraordinaire, would have left plenty (PLENTY!) to work on in the next four and a half weeks. He's always done that. Let's face it, the Aon Chase is not the Gold Cup, and there's no point winning at Newbury if it means not winning at Cheltenham.
3b. You can be confident that Mr McCoy will be spending a fair amount of time down in the Southwest, getting to second base with Denman: schooling the life out of him, and cementing their relationship.
Remarkably, Denman is no worse for his calamitous howler at Newbury - which is more than can be said for the fence that he demolished - and, at 7/2 - he rates genuine value in my book.
Look at the Gold Cup. Barring a complete surprise (which could of course happen), this is a two horse race: Kauto vs Denman. Kauto is rightly now favourite, as he seems to have ironed out the late race jumping blunders that were a feature of his early career (though he's still prone to the odd amateur leap). But 4/5? In the Gold Cup? Against Denman?
If you're on already, fair play, and good luck. If you're not, there's only one horse to back for me. Denman has been less consistent, but his brilliant best - like when giving stones away and winning the Hennessy Gold Cup again - gives him the same solid chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as he had prior to the events of Saturday afternoon last. In my book at least.
[Disclosure: By the way, did I mention that I'm a card-carrying life member of the Denman Appreciation Society? ]
The totsport Trophy followed next, and for me it was as incalculably unfathomable as ever, my wager on Spirit River proving punting water under the bridge. For countless others though, it was easy-peasy, as nap hand seeking Get Me Out Of Here (how apt for AP McCoy who did the steering) duly completed the five timer, despite an error close home.
He was sent off the 6/1 co-second favourite and, judging by the number of hollering Home Counties young adults in my environs, he was clearly a popular pick. With form figures of 1111, sometimes we (I) really do make this game tougher than it is!
After the ad libbing of the Aon Chase, the Nicholls yard had another A List celebrity trying to get his lines spot on ahead of his curtain call at Cheltenham.
This time, it was enter stage left for Master Minded, brilliant two time winner of the Champion Chase, and still only a seven year old. Master Minded has looking infallible prior to his last time out third behind Well Chief and one of Saturday's opponents, Mahogany Blaze. It subsequently transpired that MM had cracked a rib during that previous run, so it was easy enough to forgive him.
What required slightly more of a leap of faith was backing him at 8/13 to show he was - if not back to his best - at least capable of seeing off these B-List and cult classic rivals.
I backed him to win, as I considered him far and away the best form horse in the race, and also knew that he'd not be there if he hadn't fully recovered from his injury. I rarely back odds-on, but I considered Voy Por Ustedes to be regressive (see my horse-racing.ie Friday post), and the rest to be nowhere near good enough.
Master Minded sauntered through the race, and was twenty lengths clear and laughing at the opposition approaching the final fence. And then, in classic Kauto Star fashion, he made an absolute hash of things. Ruby Walsh, who immediately took the rap for a particularly shabby presentation of the leading man at his big closing line, was bounced high into the air, and quite how he stayed on is beyond me. I'm bloody glad he did though!
Even allowing for that loss of momentum and energy, Master Minded still cantered home by thirteen lengths from the reliable yardstick (but limited at top class), Mahogany Blaze, and has rightly gone odds on in the Champion Chase.
This race, the Game Spirit, was crying out for MM to reassert his authority on the two mile chase brigade, and it'll take significant improvement from Kalahari King or any of the others to lower the hat-trick seeker's colours in four weeks from now.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable, and eventful, afternoon at the races!
Talking of afternoons at the races, I shall be boarding the 1123 rattler to Wolverhampton today, to witness the debut run of Geegeez Racing's new nag, Always De One.
Lest you weren't aware, Obvious, our original filly, injured her knees whilst racing and, despite us giving her plenty of time to recover, she would have required medicating to race again. That carried a (far) stronger than palatable chance of her breaking down, and none of us wanted that.
So, she's to be sold for broodmare duties, and we dipped into the reserve pot for a replacement. Step forward Always De One, an impressive looking specimen, claimed out of the Mark Johnston yard.
She's taken a bit of time to grow into her sizeable frame and, in truth, her strong finish in a selling race last time - where she was just denied by an even stronger finisher - was her first real demonstration of track ability.
As you'll infer from the fact that we claimed her from a seller, we don't have aspirations of winning Group races! But then we never did. It's all about having some fun, and having a chance of a winner in the right grade.
Today, at 3.40, Always De One takes on just three rivals. Although she's guaranteed to be in the first four (!), the strong possibility of there being little or no pace is against her, as she needs a lot of stoking and outstayed all bar one last time out.
In essence, I have no idea how she'll run today. I'll be backing her to win, and I'll be hoping against hope for a bold show. But I'll know a lot more when it's too late...
Four weeks tomorrow until Cheltenham starts... I can't wait!
It seems, dear reader, that everyone has a 'Cheltenham Banker' come mid-March, and most of them get rolled over... so it might be strange for me to flag up a banker fully two and a half months prior to the big meeting... but you already know I'm a bit strange! 😉
So, without further shilly-shallying, let's get on with it.
The last nine winners, and their best run prior to January, look like this:
|Year||Winner||Best Run Prior To January|
|2009||Master Minded||1st G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
|2008||Master Minded||2nd G1 in France|
|2007||Voy Por Ustedes||2nd G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
|2006||Newmill||3rd G1 Hurdle|
|2005||Moscow Flyer||1st G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
|2004||Azertyuiop||2nd G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
|2003||Moscow Flyer||1st G2 Chase|
|2002||Flagship Uberalles||1st G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
|2000||Edredon Bleu||3rd G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
[Remember, foot and mouth disease claimed the 2001 Festival]
We can see then that the Tingle Creek is THE key prep race, with 6 of the 9 Queen Mother Champion Chase winners finishing on the podium in the Sandown heat. Note, though, that three of those podium finishers failed to win at Sandown before triumphing at Cheltenham in the biggie.
Let's now look at the Queen Mother Champion Chase winners' best run the previous season:
|Year||Winner||Best Run Season Prior|
|2009||Master Minded||WON Queen Mum Chase|
|2008||Master Minded||Won Auteuil 4yo Chase|
|2007||Voy Por Ustedes||WON Arkle|
|2006||Newmill||Won G2 Novice Chase|
|2005||Moscow Flyer||Won 3 G1 Chases|
|2003||Moscow Flyer||WON Arkle|
|2002||Flagship Uberalles||1st G1 Chase (Tingle Creek)|
|2000||Edredon Bleu||2nd Queen Mum Chase|
Unsurprisingly, all won (including Eddie Bleu, whose best run was actually a 2nd place finish in the previous QM Chase). Four of the nine had won at the previous year's Festival, and seven of the nine had prior course and distance form (note, I am including both old and new courses here, so it's not technically all CD form).
|2007||Voy Por Ustedes||French||5-1||Yes||6|
Interestingly, perhaps, we note that all of the victorious nonet were French or Irish bred.We can also see that eight of the nine won at odds of 5-1 or shorter, and 7 of 9 were 6-9 years old.
Actually, age is interesting as follows:
Only French breds have won aged 7 or younger since 1997; and only French breds have won aged 6 or younger, EVER!
It should also be noted that, although dear old Well Chief will be 11 next March, Moscow Flyer scored for this veteran bracket back in 2005, so it can be done.
So that's the stat attack - but what does it all mean?
Well, applying the numbers to the nags produces the following:
|7-4||Master Minded||Won QM x 2|
|10-1||Twist Magic||Fell twice, 6th of 8|
|10-1||Kalahari King||2nd Arkle|
|10-1||Big Zeb||Fell only try|
|16-1||Well Chief||1st Arkle, 2nd & Fell QM|
|33-1||Petit Robin||3rd QM last season|
|33-1||Planet Of Sound||3rd Arkle|
|Odds||Horse||Tng Crk 123||Age '10||Fr/Ire?|
|7-4||Master Minded||No||7 French||Yes|
|10-1||Big Zeb||No (4th)||9||Yes|
|33-1||Petit Robin||No||7 French||Yes|
|33-1||Planet Of Sound||No||8||No|
Master Minded is justifiably favourite, as a two time winner of the race, and current Champion Chaser. But he was less imperious last season than in 2008 (not saying much maybe, as his 2008 triumph was one of the most visually stunning performances I've ever seen!), and he was beaten in a new race at Cheltenham in November.
That race, the Connaught Chase, featured four of the first six home in the 2009 Champion Chase, and it was Well Chief who prevailed. We can expect a much more match-fit Master Minded in March, but this run was disappointing nevertheless. The fact that he was also beaten by Mahogany Blaze, who is a good enough stick, but limited at the top level, says a lot too.
It should be noted that he's only been beaten in UK on his first or last runs of the season, which bodes better for MM fans. He might well win again. But 7-4 is not for me thanks.
Moving down the card, and they then bet 10-1 (top price) each of four: Twist Magic, Kalahari King, Big Zeb, and Forpadydeplasterer.
Twist Magic is a marvelous horse at Sandown, as he again proved when winning the Tingle Creek. However, his Cheltenham performances have been, umm, less sparkling. Two tumbles and a tailed off does not a Champion Chase winner make. A place lay for me come the day...
Kalahari King was just touched off in last season's Arkle, and is relatively unexposed. The problem is that he hasn't run this season and may not run before February. That can't count in his favour, and nor from an ante-post perspective can the fact that the Ryanair Chase has not been discounted yet.
Too many question marks to make him a betting proposition.
Big Zeb is a swerve as well. This horse makes mistakes, especially in top class races where he's not able to dominate. His only Grade 1 chase wins were in Ireland in a novice and a very soft looking Leopardstown affair. I liked his chance last year, and he let me (and, more notably, himself) down with more dodgy jumping. The way he bungled his way round Sandown behind Twist Magic was further fuel to an already over-heated fire. Readily passed over.
Which leads us onto Forpadydeplasterer. The only horse to have ticks in all boxes, he's got CD form having won last season's Arkle (as did Voy Por Ustedes, Azertyuiop and Moscow Flyer first time) ; he was second in the Tingle Creek (as were Voy Por Ustedes and Azertyuiop prior to winning at Cheltenham); he'll be an eight year old next season (which is the optimum age - three 8yo's have won in the last nine years, more than any other; and ten since 1985, way more than any other); and, he's Irish bred.
Forpady runs best on decent ground, which he's quite likely to get for the Festival (trainer Tom Cooper was quoted as saying that he hated the going at Sandown behind Twist, and it was only guts and determination that kept him in the runner-up berth).
As if all that wasn't enough, he's certain to run in the Queen Mum (barring accident or injury), and his chase record is two wins and six seconds from eight starts.
That number of silver medals has to be a concern, but it's worth noting that his two chase wins were the Arkle where he got his preferred ground, and a very soft novice event on debut over fences.
He's 10/1 pretty much everywhere, and all firms go 1/4 the first three, so a tenner each way would return Â£35 for a place. I can't see him being out of the frame (though I could see him chasing one home), and I've backed him accordingly.
Of the others, Well Chief is loveable in the extreme. In my experience, 'loveable' horses tend to be expensive to follow, as when I backed him in the 2008 renewal where he bailed at the second fence as the even money favourite. I wasn't gloating about my 2/1 voucher any more... He could win, but there are too many negatives (including the fact that he's got glass shins) and he might not even make it to Chelts.
Barker is the 'dark horse'. He's got no Cheltenham form - in fact, he's got very little form. He does have a cut and dried verdict over Forpady, though again the ground would have been against my boy and in favour of the plumper of the Two Ronnies... Moreover, he's never raced outside Ireland, and his Topspeed figures give him an absolute mountain to climb. Too dark - don't believe the hype.
Petit Robin and Planet of Sound round out the top mob in the betting, and the former was third in the race last year. He's in the right care (Nicky Henderson), is the right age, a French bred (won the last three, and four of the last six), and has scope for improvement.
The 33/1 is certainly tempting with the slight caveat that he was withdrawn from both the Tingle Creek and the Peterborough Chase in recent weeks. Still, he's been close to Master Minded twice, and has a bronze medal from last year's Champion Chase, so 'double carpet' may represent very good value.
Planet of Sound is a British bred, which is a negative in the race in recent years; was beaten over five lengths in the Arkle by Forpady; and he's been racing over further than two miles, suggesting the Ryanair Chase may be the Festival route.
Most Likely Winner: Master Minded (7/4, no bet)
Best Each Way (nap): Forpadydeplasterer (10/1, most firms)
Best Long Shot (e/w): Petit Robin (33/1, Stan James, Ladbrokes)
I'm finally back in dear (c)old Hackney, after my sojourn in the States. That was truly an amazing experience, and I'm very fortunate to have crafted a business that allows me to operate anywhere on the planet (as long as there's mains electricity and internet capability - oh, and ideally beer and horse racing!).
When time permits, I'll write up my journey for any of you who are interested (no problem if you're not, it's obviously off topic). But, as a reminder of just how long I was away - six and a half weeks - I've finally managed to get the Breeders Cup video onto youtube. It was a very big file and kept crashing out on me, but it's up there now, and you can view it - should you so wish - by clicking the box below:
[SIDE NOTE: if you're not fussed for the US National Anthem, you can move the time slider from 1:24 to 2:52... All American viewers are honourbound to listen to the full video ;)]
As wonderful a trip as it was, it is fantastic to be home, despite the temperature differential (from 25C to 0C is a bit of a shocker), and despite my bags failing to arrive with me for the THIRD time during my travels (unbelievable).
I'm really looking forward to getting back into the equine swing of things, and have lots planned for next year. In fact, next year, I will be embarking on an additional new role, where I'll be offering some of you the chance to follow in my virtual footsteps (or, more correctly, fingersteps) and start your own business online.
If that might be something of interest to you, look out for more news early in the New Year - and if it's not of interest, don't worry, I'll still be offering my thoughts on racing, races, and racing systems (because that is my true passion; although running an internet business is becoming quite a consuming pastime too!)
Many thanks to those of you who applied for the Irish racing article writer role. Your time and effort in applying is very much appreciated. I'll be going through your submissions over the next couple of days, and will be in touch with all of you to personally thank you and to let you know how things will move forward.
Applications are no longer needed, so if you didn't email me already, there's no need to now.
Finally, I've news of the Geegeez geegees.
Obvious had her first run after a three month injury break last Friday, and it would be true to say we were all rather disappointed. She was going very well at home and, despite it being a weak looking contest,Â she was well beaten.
I was traveling so unable to be at the track, and it subsequently transpired that she had a very bad four hour journey in the horse box, due to snow and ice. When she got to Southwell, she got very upset as well. Some of you may have noticed her drift on Betfair, and I imagine the two events were related.
As if that wasn't enough, her usual jockey, Amir Quinn, was also struggling to get to the track due to the weather. In the event, we had a claimer on board, and he put Obvious into a six-way battle for the lead. She was very stressed already, and gave best quite rapidly.
The long and short is that a) her handicap mark will diminish as a result of this, and b) she is better than she showed.
Her next race is likely to be mid-January, and we will hope for considerably better.
Baggsy, our other club horse, continues to train up after a slight knock from her last race, and she's being aimed at a race in mid-January as well, probably at Lingfield. This will be her third run in a maiden, after which the handicapper will pass his verdict and we'll see what happens after that. We're very hopeful of finding a race (or two) with her, as the winter progresses.
Finally, Night Orbit is doing great. He was pulled from the Ascot race last Friday, and is instead entered at Wincanton on Boxing Day. It's a qualifying race for the Pertemps Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival, and the dream at this stage is to be present as an owner at that great meeting. Running placed or winning is too much to hope for probably, but just being there will be amazing. Fingers, toes and other appendages are firmly crossed.
That's all for today and, as there's nowt to note between now and Boxing Day, I'll be taking a few days off from the blog (busy working on those other things I've mentioned in recent posts), but will be back before the New Year.
In the meantime, please accept my very warmest wishes to you and your families for a
VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS
Still a little bleary-eyed here in the Geegeez bolthole in Mission Beach, San Diego, dear reader, after a weekend of highs and lows (some of them literally) in Mexico City. More of that in due course. First, let's review the weekend...
There were two Champion Hurdle trials, in consecutive races, on Saturday. And, bizarrely enough, my very own (part share of) Night Orbit was engaged in one of the two contests! I'll get to that in a moment.
The first of the pair, the Boylesports International Hurdle, offered us a rematch between last season's Champion Hurdle 1-2, Punjabi and Celestial Halo. Both are well regarded by me with a view to this season's championship decider next March, and I was most interested to read about the race.
As it turned out, though the Halo was sent off at odds on, both he and the Punjabi were usurped by Nigel Twiston-Davies' hoss, Khyber Kim. That beast saw off all comers in very slick fashion and, whilst there was no fluke about this stylish win, KK clearly relished the sodden turf more than his labouring rivals.
He's a 12/1 shot for the Champion now, and it may be 12/1 that he gets ground this wet, which I believe he'll need to overthrow his pursuers again. The 10/1 about Celestial Halo, eased from 13/2, should be snapped up if you don't already have him in your portfolio (and even if you do). He'll beat KK on better ground.
Punjabi was in need of the run and performed respectably - though no better than that. Medermit remains very interesting. In my Champion Hurdle preview back on 21st November, I'd noted that he had a similar form profile to Binocular but was eleven times the price. He's still 40/1, and I reckon he'll be on the scene come March at a fat juicy price.
Next up, and the last race on the card, was the Relkeel Hurdle. This featured a walk in the park for unbeaten 4yo, Zaynar. Up against him were an above average, but not exceptional, lot. And Night Orbit!
Zaynar was sent off at 1/5; Orbit at 66/1. In the finish, the race panned out as a stroll for Zaynar. He quickened nicely to win as he liked. Dear old Orbit was beaten less than twenty lengths by the new Champion Hurdle favourite, and finished a very gallant fourth in this Grade 2 affair. I may never get to see a horse in which I have an interest run in a Graded event again, so I was gutted to miss Saturday's race.
Two things to note:
1. Zaynar should not have shortened in the Champion Hurdle betting for beating a group of horses who are not even quoted for that race! 7/2 is a joke price, and more reflects the fact that the other horses keep beating each other.
2. Night Orbit was clearly flattered. The fall of Golan Way at the 2nd robbed the race of the most likely front runner and, though 'Ollie' does sometimes go from the front, he had an easy enough time of it, sharing duties with eventual 2nd, Cape Tribulation. The time was slow, and Orbit ran his usual race. No better (in fact, slightly worse) than his Aintree 2nd, according to the speed numbers.
He's come out of the race in excellent fettle, and is entered on Friday at Ascot in a Class 3 handicap hurdle. If the handicapper indicates he'll increase his rating, then Orbit will run on Friday. It looks a tougher assignment to get close to my eye, as they're sure to go licketty-split in the likely big field. More as the week unfurls.
News from the Geegeez Racing Club... Obvious is now back in fine shape, after her long absence caused by an injury she sustained when running at Goodwood last time.
Indeed, she's entered in not one but two races this Friday. She's more likely to contest the 2.40 race at Southwell (a classified stakes), and a fairly average affair it appears too.
Of course, it is a challenge to keep our hopes to sensible proportions and - after three months on the sidelines - Obvious may be a little ring rusty. I'll be backing her nevertheless!
Baggsy, our other club interest, continues her own recovery from a niggle, and will hopefully be back on the track in mid-January, with a following wind.
The last few shares in Baggsy are still available, and you can read about the Geegeez Racing Club package here:
This might make a very nice Christmas present... so feel free to send the link to a loved one, if needs be! 😉
Back over this side of the pond, and one of the issues with Mexico was that my internet connection would not allow me to access certain sites. Annoyingly, one such site was www.geegeez.co.uk! As a result I've not been able to update you on the performance of Betfair Renegade.
The up to date position is a little disappointing, with a couple of painful reverses over the weekend leaving us at -8.4 points.
The full stat story is thus:
|Total win odds||98.65|
|Av Win Odds||4.110417|
The material stat for me is the percentage over SP which, at just 11.75%, suggests that the system is worth persisting with, despite it's (temporary?) blip in form.
Betfair Renegade has now been pulled from the market, a week later than quoted.
This week I'll also be sharing details of a couple of other blogs that I consider well worth a read. First up is my colleague and friend David Peat, who many of you will know from either Flat Racing Profiles or Horse Profiles. David has had a blog for a while, but has recently upgraded it as part of his horseprofiles.co.uk website.
You can take a look at it here:
(If you sign up to get notifications, you'll always know when it's updated. David is a habitual system builder, and gives away loads of stuff free... I'll say no more.)
It should be said that I am not in any danger of becoming a tourism ambassador for Mexico: it's natural beauty is somewhat subsumed by a level of poverty and a rich/poor divide that serves only to remind me how lucky we are in UK (even those who consider themselves unlucky).
A newspaper article on Friday blared in bold font that 65.8% of Mexicans have no access to Social Security. That in a country where that's probably a conservative estimate of the number of people who need it. But it's not my place to make such observations on the socio-political situation there. Rather, I should comment on my tourist experience.
On that latter point: despite their poverty (and how easy it is for me to say), the people of Mexico should treat tourists better if they want build a sustainable tourism industry. I will not go back, because I hate being ripped off. The same taxi ride cannot cost twice as much a hour later. Food bills should not have nefarious additional items added to them. And haggling is not a way of life I especially enjoy (though I know others who do).
But... but it is a beautiful city, and one full of hope. While we were there, we shared a Christmas parade with this (ostensibly) most devout Catholic country. To see the joy in the children's faces was to be blinded by hope for the future. For someone as cynical as I can sometimes be, that was truly beautiful.
And the pyramids are pretty amazing too:
So it seems I may be staying in San Diego for Christmas (and New Year too?) after all. My original flight was for 29th December, but I had a change of heart which led to a change of flight to 23rd December, arriving in London on Christmas Eve.
Little did I know that the cabin crew at British Airways, with whom I'm flying, have decided to strike from 22nd December until the New Year. At this stage, it looks as though my flight will be canceled, and I will be stranded here.
Now of course, there are many worse places to be stranded, but nevertheless being away from friends and family at that time will not be fun. My fingers are crossed that the flight is not canceled or the unions find a resolution with the BA management. Currently though, it'll be turkey and all the trimmings on my lonesome... (cue violins)
Enough rambling from me...
Many is the time, dear reader, when I've watched four runner races for valuable prize money and cursed people who don't enter their horses. Well, now the boot is finally on the other foot...
Yes, on Saturday at Cheltenham, in none other than the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle (previous winners include Black Jack Ketchum, Mighty Man and Lough Derg in recent seasons), my very own (in part) Night Orbit has been entered!
Let's be clear about a couple of things:
1. He is rated 38 pounds inferior to Zaynar, and probably has no chance of winning.
2. There is prize money down to 6th place, from a Â£42,500 race fund, and there are only eight entered - including one complete no hoper. If they all stand their ground (unlikely), we have to beat the plodder and one other.
3.Orbit will love the trip, ground, and stamina testing track, and he is a valiant battler. (His class is questionable, and it may be this that finds him out here... but we'll see!)
4. I'm gutted I can't be there to see it!
It's both exciting and tilting at windmills, but at least I'll be able to say we didn't leave the prize money on the table...
Moving on, and a quick word on Mick Kinane, who announced his retirement today. After many westward ho! wagers as a result of Kinane's misjudgments at the Breeders Cup over the years, I'm not a fan. But... his riding of Sea The Stars this season was impeccable, especially in the Arc where his rivals (human and equine) did everything they could to make it difficult for him.
I salute him for that. And I salute him for his longevity - over thirty years at the top is hugely impressive. And, finally, I salute him for having the good sense to quit after what may well be his crowning achievement with Sea The Stars. Off to stud you go, Mick. Well done, even if you weren't always in my corner.
Betfair Renegade update:
another water treading experience today - three winners and a 2/1 loser putting us exactly where we started the day:
Overall stats look like this:
|Total win odds||37.27|
|Av Win Odds||3.388182|
Tomorrow, there's a lot of potential action so we should break the stasis, one way or the other!
It's been almost a week since last I posted, dear reader, and there have been many horsey happenings in the interim. Today's post will bring you up to speed with that, as well as - for those who might be interested - my geographical whereabouts.
Firstly, cast your mind back to last Friday / Saturday and the heat and pomp of Santa Anita, where the Breeders Cup was once again demonstrating its prevalence as an end of season flat festival. It doesn't always attract the best animals from around the world, but there were many worthy champions over the two days, including Midday, Goldikova and Zenyatta.
Funnily enough, all three of those are fillies. The first named was a game winner for 'Sir' Henry Cecil; the second was a brilliant repeater for Freddie Head and Olivier Peslier; and the last named was an ultra-impressive winner of a sub-standard (in my opinion) Classic. But my, how she flew!
I learned a few things while I was there. Having had my worst betting day EVER on Saturday, these lessons are bought and paid for, and will not be forgotten in a hurry:
- Avoid A P O'Brien at the Breeders Cup. He doesn't use Lasix like pretty much every other trainer does (this drug seems to give horses a performance boost when used and, whatever your stance on the use of medication in racing, from a pure punting perspective, it's like conceding five lengths from the gate).
And he's had just four winners from over sixty runners in recents years, making him extremely expensive to follow.
Having not backed Man of Iron, but bet pretty much all the rest, I can tell you I'll be avoiding him next year.
- Avoid Johnny Murtagh. If you watch re-runs of the races, you'll see he tried to take every single horse up the inside rail. He always does. Watch the Yanks, and you'll see they win from all over the track. Murtagh is a top jock on British and Irish tracks, but he's totally one dimensional in the States, and they know it: they box him, worry his horses, and generally mess his chance up. He needs to help himself by watching a bit of American racing!
- Stick to these races if you want to back the Euros: Marathon (Yanks don't stay that far!); Turf, Mile, Filly and Mare Turf, Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Fillies Turf (we won't win all of these races, but the Euros are much better turf horses generally); Juvenile (despite being on the synthetic surface, our two year olds have more experience and stay better than the Yanks - this race also finds upset winners like Vale of York and Wilko in recent years).
Closer to home, and typical enough as I'm now out of the country, two of the Geegeez interest beasties ran this week.
Firstly, on Sunday at Market Rasen, Night Orbit was bidding to concede seven pounds in a novice hurdle, and beat off all bar 28/1 shot The Giant Bolster. That one had run two nice races prior to Sunday, and it wasn't the biggest surprise that he won. Disappointing though, and summed up my punting weekend.
Orbit will now be stepped up in trip again to somewhere between 2m6f and 3m, and we'll hope to outstay the rest (the Bolster had too much speed at the end of the race for our boy, who now has one win and FOUR runner up spots from his five hurdles runs).
The form looks solid enough though, meaning we have a nice hurdler to look forward to, I think.
Then last night, Geegeez Racing Club members watched our Baggsy run her second gallant race. Those of us who were at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago knew she was working well - she took Night Orbit and Obvious down (albeit at a favoured trip against Orbit and a significant fitness edge on Obvious) - and she continues to please in decent maidens at Kempton.
Baggsy now needs one more run to get handicapped, and that will hopefully come in the next couple of weeks. It will be most interesting to see what the handicapper makes of our young'un, as she's very well related to winning all weather horses.
There are still a couple of shares left but a number of them have been snapped up in the last few weeks (I haven't had a chance to update the Club page figure), so if you might be interested in following Baggsy's progress between now and next July as a part-owner and contributing to a charitable cause as well, check out the Club page.
Lastly on the geegees front, a quick update on the 'chase outsiders' system I gave away about three weeks back. As I had mentioned, the strike rate is low (around 10%), but as a fun system it's hard to crab.
After finding the big 33/1 winner at Ascot at the end of October, it has also picked out 16/1 Kelso winner Justwhateverulike (paid 23 for Betfair SP), and 6/1 Carlisle winner Treehouse (paid 8.83 Betfair SP). The system is good until the end of November, and definitely worth a check.
If you missed it before, you can download it from http://www.horseracingexperts.co.uk/downloads/system.pdf
(to save it locally, right click the link above and select 'Save as' or 'Save target as').
Now then, I've been drowning my punting sorrows in a bit of a travelfest Stateside. So far, I've had three internal domestic flights, and the last of them actually brought my bag along too! (Yes folks, I've already had two lost baggage claims...).
My trip to date saw me spend three days in San Diego, doing a reconnaisance as this is where I'll be based for five weeks from the end of November.
Then it was up to Pasadena for the Breeders Cup (three days there); then Venice Beach for three days; and now I'm in cool but sunny San Francisco until tomorrow.
Thereafter I'll be headed to Napa Valley for some wine-glugging with the missus; then Yosemite National Park; then we'll be road tripping down the Pacific Coast Highway, before arriving in San Diego on 25th November, just prior to Thanksgiving on 26th (a B-I-G deal over here!).
I've butchered a little map below to illustrate where I've been...
Finally, some Thursday fun. Seeing as I'm in US, how about that awesome car chase from The French Connection (even though that was based in New York, some 2,500 miles away, the cab drivers here drive like this!)?
Have a nice day!
Another fairly packed post today, dear reader, with news of a new trial, a survey that I really hope you can help with, the last word on the weight for age debate, and a horse for today.
So let's get to it.
First up, regular readers will remember that I asked if you'd be kind enough to help a lady who is doing some very serious academic research into online gambling habits. She's not trying to 'stitch us up' or anything like that. Rather, she's trying to measure the effect of gambling online, as opposed to other forms of gambling (physical casinos, lottery, betting shops etc).
To aid her in her research, lots of readers (somewhere between 125 and 150 of you) were kind enough to offer thoughts when I asked previously. The reason I'm making this request again is because the research phase is drawing to an end, and this is the last chance Caroline has to get some more thoughts on the subject.
Obviously the more data she can collect, the more meaningful and reflective the study will be. Caroline for her part has promised to share her findings with me, so that I can share them with you. It should make for very interesting reading.
Anyway, if you'd like to contribute, just click the link below and you'll be taken to the survey (in another window, so you can finish reading today's blog!):
Next, I want to tell you about a couple of things we've been trialing here on the blog through most of May and some of June, and what's coming next.
First, we'd been looking at a laying service called Lowlay, which had been doing rather well after an atrocious start. Kevin, who had been trialing it, was due to post his final review last Monday. But he's had an arduous week, having been diagnosed with a gall bladder problem. The offending item of anatomy (!) has now been removed and Kevin, I'm pleased to say, is on the mend.
He's promised to try to do the review today: I've obviously told him that there's no rush. So hopefully that will appear on the blog later. If not, you'll understand why.
I've also managed to secure an interesting new trial which will start either over the weekend or early next week. The service is called Racing Trends, and is run by a chap called David Renham, who some of you will know from the Raceform newspaper and his stints on Attheraces.
The service is not a tipping line as such, but rather identifies a selection of meaningful statistical information for the day's racing. I'll say no more for now, except that a) we'll be sampling that over the next fortnight or so, and b) there'll be a free trial offer for you to take up, should you so wish.
Lastly, on the subject of trials, I've been learning a thing or two about FX trading. It's not something I've previously ever been drawn to, but I have to say that Graham's posts on the subject are both informative and mouth-watering. He does an excellent job of leading us newbies (well, me at least) by the hand on a new adventure.
No problem if it's not for you. This is after all primarily a horse racing blog. But I know from the last poll, that more than 1 in 7 of you are interested in FX, so those posts are for you. (By the way, if you haven't taken part in this week's poll question, you can do so by looking top right on this page for the Question of the Week).
The weight for age discussion, which started a couple of days ago, produced lots of excellent debate from varying sides of the fence, and it is perhaps fitting that the last word should go to my buddy, Rob Pacitto. While not quite conceding his point (he never would, trust me!), he has certainly taken on board our collective views.
His comment is recorded below, and the whole discussion can be seen here.
Yesterday's racing was more than a bit frustrating for yours truly. Having passed on a good word for a horse called Arcano in the first at Newbury, I also told you that I strongly fancied Apple Charlotte in the third race.
A small interest bet in Arcano was rewarded at odds of 7/2, but a much fatter wager on the Apple of 'Sir' Henry's eye was lost when a filly in the care of Luca Cumani, called Splashdown, burgled her right on the line for a short head verdict. Dash and botheration... (were two words I was not heard to explete).
Today's racing looks fun with Sandown and York taking centre stage this afternoon. There is a strange draw bias in the 1m4f races at York, where - in decent sized fields - you really need to be drawn in single figures. Those with a wider draw get fanned out towards Harrogate and have little chance (apologies to all Yorkshire readers for my doubtless errant geography).
For that reason, I've sided with Harry The Hawk in the concluding apprentice handicap. It's my conjecture that the bias will be amplified by the young inexperienced riders and, as such, I think Harry - ridden by the very good Slade O'Hara - has a fine chance from the 4 box. Spirit of Adjisa would also be of interest from trap one, with Charles Eddery an effective pilot in this peer group.
The favourite, Joe Jo Star, has a chance from 8, but is plenty short enough in the betting, and not a play for me.
Also racing today is dear old Night Orbit. I couldn't make it to Liverpool this evening, but I will be absenting myself from whichever hostelry I'm parked in shortly before 8.20 tonight.
I make the race a four runner affair, between Quell The Storm, Gonebeyondrecall, Starr Flyer and Orbit himself. To be honest, I reckon the Irish raider, Gonebeyondrecall is the likeliest winner. But I'll be disappointed if Orbit isn't in the three and he looks a very good each way / place wager.
I'm not too keen on Paul Nicholls' Quell The Storm, who is likely to make the market for the others. Incidentally, he's owned by a certain Sir Alex Ferguson, who may just have around Â£80 million to gamble this Summer...
That's it for now. Have a great Friday, and if you've got five minutes to spare, do please help out Caroline with her study. Here's the link again: Click Here to share your thoughts
So here we are at Thursday already, dear reader, and another week seems to be fizzing by without me noticing... I've got a packed post today, including the great weight for age debate; The Life System; the man with the most bulging eyes in the universe; and a Night Orbit update to boot.
So let's get cracking!
First up, thanks to all those who added their weight (terrible pun) to yesterday's discussion point. Seeing as it was so popular, I'm going to try to get my anti-establishment thinking buddy Rob to share some of his other pearls of wisdom in the future. Rob, if you're reading, do you fancy sharing your views on the futility of jumps racing? 😉
Some excellent points, and I'll try to look into the effects of weight in handicaps, by race distance, and by going. Incidentally, the research I did was based on flat racing. It seems a little unseasonal to undertake similar research for NH races, but again - at some point (if I remember) - we can look at that too. I have the technology!
One or two (actually, more like eight or nine) of you have been asking me about The Life System, and whether it's any good. I've had a copy since Monday, and I've the following observations.
It's certainly an interesting system, taking as it does a 'dutching' approach to the racing. That is, it advocates betting more than one horse in a race. Now, of course, I'm not going to give the game away here, but suffice it to say that this system WILL find big-priced winners.
The question is whether it will find them regularly enough to cover it's losses. I don't know the answer to that point, so am watching the live results page with interest. You can view that results page here:
My advice regarding this system is, despite the threat of price rises, to hang fire and check the results. If the results are good, and it costs Â£15 more, I think that's better than paying Â£15 less and the results being not good.
Hope that makes sense...
I've had a quick squint at today's racing, and there's one I have a fancy for later on.
Before that, though, I can pass on a good word for a horse called Arcano in the opener at Newbury. It's been working very well ahead of debut today and, if getting the hang of things first time up, is expected to run well.
The one I really like though, in the 2.40 at the same venue, is a course, distance, grade and going winner.
Apple Charlotte ticks a helluva lot of boxes actually, and if box-ticking is your route to betting (as it often is mine), then she's got to be of interest.
Although circa 11/8 is not everybody's mug of Tetley, and today's race has a number of unexposed young ladies preparing to reveal a bit more leg (sorry, lost myself in an exposure analogy there!), I think 'Sir' Henry's filly looks spot on, and will be punting accordingly.
Moving on to tomorrow's racing - hang on Matt, we haven't even started today's racing yet! - and Night Orbit is taking the looooooooooooooooooooong trip up to Aintree for a novice hurdle. It's a step up in class and in trip; I'm not certain the flat track will be in his favour; and he has to concede 7lbs to some dark ones further down the card.
Moreover, there are some sneaky Irish raiders in the field that, as they say, could be anything.
And... as a last time out winner, he's likely to be overbet and therefore represent no value.
Despite all of these negatives, I'll be punting him as I am honourbound to do. And, should he have a chance on the run-in, I'll be hollering to the fullness of my lungs' capacity!
The one thing Night Orbit does have in his favour is that he's a tryer. He's a little bit slow, but he's definitely a tryer.
Good luck fella!
Finally today, as the fourth day of the traditional working week, named after the Norse god of war (I think), Thor, it's time for some Thorsday Fun. And I was reminded the other day of the legendary Marty Feldman, and his ridiculous and utterly brilliant 'Just One More, Please' sketch. Alas, not for the first time I wasn't able to find it on the web, so can't share it with you.
However, I did track down the rather marvelous (well, I think so anyway) 'Loneliness of the Long Range Golfer'. Gorgeous soundtrack too...
Many thanks, dear reader, to the number of you who emailed me about yesterday's tardy email regarding the chances of Night Orbit, the beast co-owned by me. I had said he was fancied and indeed he duly romped home at a tidy enough 5/2.
Alas, in order to communicate with you I'm required to use something called an autoresponder: this is simply an email sending contraption, and I have to say it is a very good one at that. But... occasionally, presumably due to the number of other people who also use the device, my notes to you get jammed in the pipe and can sometimes take up to two hours to arrive. They normally get to you within ten minutes.
The truth is I didn't send yesterday's email until 1pm, as I'd been out enjoying my Sunday morning (as I hope many of you were too). I thought it only fair to mention that the horse was running, seeing as I know many of you look out for the old mule and are almost as invested in him as me!
Well, the note arrived - depending on which email I pick from the virtual postbag - somewhere between 2.08 and 2.17pm. The race of course was at 2pm. As you mostly correctly identified, this was as useful as a chocolate teapot or a beach hut in the Arctic.
My favourite of over fifty emails was from 'Mooner', who was indeed very cheeky! He replied at 4.45pm, saying,
" Thanks for the tip, I have a horse running in the 3.20 Fakenham called Rackalackey and the trainer said he should win, the danger might be Leopold so do a reverse forecast as well - just in case.
Haha, very funny mate!
Seriously, I was gutted that the note didn't get to you in time. Orbit actually fair bolted up, with the slightly stiffer track, tackier going, and longer trip all playing to his strengths (i.e. stamina over speed!). The horse in 2nd was Dinarius, beaten eight lengths, and he was rated 122, with a well backed McCoy ridden debutante (strong flat form) back another four lengths in third. It was 30 lengths and more back to the rest.
The proximity of the highest rated jumps horse and the best backed horse gives the form a solid look, and it's possible that Orbit might be rated around 120 in due course over hurdles. He's definitely found his metier, having struggled to catch slightly quicker animals over inadequate flat race trips, and - as a novice, and if the tracks stay soggy - he'd be capable of winning a couple more novice hurdles and perhaps a handicap or two in due course.
Whether you got on yesterday or not, there look to be further races to be won by 'mighty' Night Orbit!
Now, partially by way of apology, and partly because I was going to it anyway... ok, mostly because I was going to do it anyway, but it's turned out to be timed rather well... I've got a week of freebies for you.
As well as the The Insider sports betting magazine that you can trial for free here, I've got a load of trainers to follow in the next few weeks, and two interesting systems that work especially well in low grade races (of which there are many!).
Today though, I wanted to tell you the names of five trainers you ought to keep on your side over the next few weeks. Their horses are in form currently, and their records in May for the last two years have been equally impressive. Clearly they are early season flyers and worth tracking:
|Trainer||May 07&08||May 09 To Date|
|Strike Rate||P/L||Strike Rate||P/L|
|C F Wall||13-68||+29.96||3-15||+13.25|
|Sir M Prescott||10-47||+17.08||2-9||+4.50|
|H Candy||9-55||+14.39||2-14||-2.00||(8 of last 9 runners 2nd-5th)|
|P W Hiatt||6-42||+9.25||1-9||-4.50||(less winners, bigger prices)|
|D R C Elsworth||12-97||+21.45||4-23||-8.00||(watch for 'Elsy' at Newmarket)|
Now I know the last three are currently in negative equity for this month, and that - consequently - a leap of faith is required. However, Henry Candy's runners are all performing creditably and, with a modicum more fortune, he would be nicely in front again. His string are clearly well.
Peter Hiatt is something of a speculative inclusion, and one might be a tad more circumspect with one's staking with this chap's runners. When they win, they are bigger prices. But they don't win so often.
Finally, my old mate David Elsworth will be banging them in again soon. His record at Newmarket is particularly impressive and, along with John Gosden, I always look for his runners there.
Tomorrow, I'll bring you a little system that's done very nicely over the last few seasons; Wednesday we'll take five more trainers; Thursday another system; and, Friday, a further five handlers to follow.
Don't forget to keep an eye out for the daily system trials - remember you can most easily find them by clicking the 'Current System Trials' button in the top bar:
So, back to work for many of us today, dear reader, after what will hopefully have been a refreshing and perhaps even a profitable Easter weekend.
Although my Night Orbit could only manage 2nd behind odds on Sam Lord at Plumpton, he was 7/1 and rewarded each way support comfortably. I had an email from Julia Feilden this morning telling me the plan. Basically, he may be stepped up in trip for his next hurdles run (he finished full of running), but that will not be until after May in order to protect his novice status. He'll probably run on the flat before then.
Up at Musselburgh, the draw selection Rothesay Dancer, sent off 10/1, managed to find trouble in running and finished 4th, just out of the each way places, and beaten just a length and three quarters (never nearer).
But of course, as many of you know, the real 'juice' over the weekend was in Ireland, where Niche Market stayed on resolutely for Dorset trainer Bob Buckler, and regular pilot Harry Skelton, to land the Irish Grand National at fat odds of 33/1.
It was heart warming for both Gavin and me to read about so many of you having tenners, fivers, two quids, whatever... some money on the Niche. And, better yet, most of you had availed yourselves of two or three times the SP using the betting exchanges. The comments from yesterday's post are well worth a read if you haven't already - click the link back to the post at the bottom of this one.
I won't tempt fate by trying to find a winner today (nothing floats my boat), but suffice it to say that for FRP members, there will almost certainly be some draw action tomorrow.
For those of you who don't read Gavin's blog at Nag Nag Nag, WHY NOT?!!!! Haha, only joking. What I meant was that if you don't read his blog, you may not know about the brilliant freebie he's giving away, with more of the trends action for this week's Newmarket meeting.
The races at Newmarket feature the European Free Handicap, the Craven Stakes, and the Nell Gwyn Stakes, all of which are traditional trial races for the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas.
To get your copy (I've had a look and it's the same great stuff he produced for Cheltenham and Aintree, but for the flat), just pop over to this page and grab it.
Finally, and I know this won't appeal to all, I wanted to quickly mention the only other service (aside from FRP) that I run, called Laying System. It's actually a members' service, where you log in to the members' area each day to get the selections. And, as the name suggests, we're looking at horses to lay, not back.
You can have a look at the results here. If you like what you see, and would like a gratis 7 day trial to see if its for you, then just click this Laying System link. Remember, as with all trial periods, it's important to 'paper trade' (i.e. see what would have happened without investing any cash) before taking the plunge.
Bye for now,
p.s. Comments regarding Niche Market are at the link below... 🙂