Tag Archive for: PJ McDonald

Racegoers flock to Redcar as sport welcomes back limited crowds

Racegoers returned to Redcar on Monday as the seaside venue opened its gates to a crowd of almost 800.

The Teesside track was bathed in sunshine as the punters lapped up the opportunity to eat and drink outdoors and cheer home some winners – something they haven’t been able to do for well over a year.

There was a muted cheer – hardly reminiscent of Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – when the opening contest got under way, but a close conclusion meant the winner Grangeclare View was roared home.

Racegoer Chris Varley from Howarth, West Yorkshire, was especially glad to be back on course.

A sunbathed paddock at Redcar
A sunbathed paddock at Redcar (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “The last time I came as a punter was December 2019 at Southwell – it’s been a long time, a hell of a long time.

“We were here for 9.30am, we went for breakfast at the cafe down the road, went into the bookies for a couple of Lucky 15s and then came in.

“We’ve come today because we could, obviously, but we’d go to Redcar maybe half a dozen times in a normal year. It’s a lovely course, we love it.

“You can see everything, straight mile, it’s brilliant. It’s a two-hour drive but worth it.

“I did own a horse and half of another with Roger Fell, but as work dried up during the pandemic, I had to pull out of them.

“For most people racing is a hobby, but something has to give and it is usually things we enjoy.”

A new audience in attendance at Redcar
A new audience in attendance at Redcar (Mike Egerton/PA)

Geoff Baxter from Bingley, also West Yorkshire, said: “I’d go racing all the time before lockdown, twice a fortnight.

“Obviously I’ve missed going racing, but what could we do, it was down to the Government.

“Being here certainly beats watching it on TV, I’m sick of doing that. There’s nothing better than getting outside and going racing.”

Ben Bramley, from North Yorkshire, said: “It’s fantastic to hear a crowd again and there is a real buzz of anticipation, there was even a queue to get in, but people were tolerant.

“There were lots of stories about what people had been backing over the last few months, but I just think people are glad to be be back on course.

“There were a few cracks from the old boys about how they’ve never seen this place as busy, but the atmosphere is great. It’s probably the busiest it has been since some of the old Zetland Gold Cups.

“People are being very sensible, keeping distances, wearing masks inside – and hearing them cheering home the horses is fabulous.”

Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson said: “It’s strange, but it’s good and exciting. I think we’ll be close to 800 (in attendance). They are all pre-sales and when I got here this morning, we had about 70 left.

“It’s taking a little bit of reacclimatising to see people being here and walking round, but I think it’s fantastic and the weather is playing ball.

“Let’s hope this continues and we don’t go backwards in five weeks. It’s small steps. York will probably have 4,000 on Saturday, which proportionately will look about the same.

“We probably would expect the same sort of crowd for a Monday in May as we’ve got today in any case. The only difference is they’ve had to pay in advance whereas normally we’d only sell 10 per cent in advance and the rest would pay on the day depending on the weather.

“I think there is pent-up demand, which will probably wear off after two or three weeks, but then hopefully it will be steady away.

“It’s not normal and they are going to have to adapt to how things work, like going to a bar and going outside with a drink, but they can queue and collect rather than it being table service, as we can do that at stadiums, and obviously we try to encourage face masks as much as we can, but it’s not law so we can’t force that.

“Amy (Fair, general manager) has worked really hard to get it set up as we didn’t know for sure until last Monday when a document landed on the desk. There have been significant changes, but they’ve gone really well.”

PJ McDonald, president of the Professional Jockeys Association, partnered the second winner, Lasting Legacy, and said: “It takes a bit of getting used to, the parade ring feels a hell of a lot smaller now, but it’s nice.

“You can see everyone is enthusiastic to get everybody back, racing has done a great job to keep everyone safe and hopefully they get just rewards now with punters back through the gates.”

Bookmaker Richard Johnson, standing on his father Keith’s pitch, on the rails, said: “It’s been surprisingly good, I think people are trying to make the most of it.

“It’s a seaside track so we’re taking a lot of small bets, but we’ve been away so long I don’t mind. I’m just hoping the rain stays away.

“I must admit we’re busier than we’d normally be, but I suspect when we’re fully reopened we won’t get 800 here on a Monday, so we’ll make the most of it.”

Racing Insights, 31st October 2020

Matt standing in for Chris again. Friday's race went largely as anticipated, though the winner - flagged here yesterday - was a rotten price in the end! Lezardrieux made him battle and Lucky Lodge came home fourth, almost completing a trifecta from four horses in the summary (the other was sent off at 66/1 and ran like it).

We'll crack on with Saturday.

It's a terrific day of racing where the jumpers really come to the fore, and the awesome TJ Combo report is the free feature.

Meanwhile, the six free races are...

  • 12.32 Ayr
  • 14.40 Newmarket
  • 15.35 Down Royal
  • 15.40 Ascot
  • 15.50 Newmarket
  • 17.30 Wolverhampton

I've set up the Course 5 Year view on the TJ Combo report and, because there is so much good racing, I've gone with an ultra-demanding IV of 2, meaning a trainer/jockey pairing must win at least twice as often as the average at the tracks in question. That narrows things down to a workable number.


Let's take them in order, starting with the Nicky Richards/Brian Hughes combo and their 41% hit rate at Ayr in the last five years. Clicking on the row shows today's qualifier and clicking the little 'up arrow' to the left of the trainer name reveals the historical qualifiers:

There are more qualifiers than I'm showing in the above, but we can clearly see that a lot of these winners have occurred recently: five from eight in 2020 alone. However, note that Castle Rushen was beaten in a bumper here in March. Having looked at the race I'd say he's a very good chance to win (duh) and his price is about right. About right is not a value proposition to me, so I'll let him go.

Next is the hot Bailey/Bass team, who combine for two runners at Wetherby. Vinndication is a classy chap but he's in deep tomorrow, against Cyrname and co, and - again - his price is tight enough; in fact, it's a bit on the skinny side for my tastes.

But their other runner, Hes No Trouble, has a case to be made for him beyond the TJ Combo angle.

Below I've highlighted my Report Angles (the red '3' and accompany trio of rows) and QT Angle (the blue '1' and accompanying row). These tell me that Bailey/Bass are in great recent form as well as having great long-term course form; and I also note that Bailey is one of my trainers to mark up with runners on their first start after a wind op (see the W1 by the horse's name).

Also note the t1 - first time tongue tie - which implies this fellow has been struggling quite badly with his breathing.

Looking at his form, it might also be he's been struggling with distance and ground: after a win on a similarly flat track over a similar trip on similar ground and off a similar mark he was then beaten over half a mile further, on softer ground and in higher grade.

This is still a Class 3 race but he gets a shorter distance and faster turf; and of course he gets the wind tweaks. There's enough there to make 10/1 look big enough for all that it's a competitive race with plenty of other (shorter priced) options.

And I was able to make a value case for the McCain/Hughes partnership's Ayr runner, Goobinator, too.

This time it is because, rightly or wrongly, I want to be against 5/2 ish second choice, Calva D'Auge. The form of that one's wins has worked out terribly (note the 'Then What?' section on the right hand side) - the only winner from 39 subsequent starters from the Wincanton victory was... himself next time out; and there have been no winners from 19 from that Plumpton run since.

Of course,  it's a new season and Calva has a heavy ground score but he's making the market for me.

Similar to Bailey and Bass, Goobinator represents strong recent TJ form as well as longer term TJ track form, as can be seen from my Report Angles in the image below.

Their other runner goes in the 'newcomers' bumper, in which - as the name suggests - none of the field has run before. Not for me, thanks.

And the final contender from my strict TJ Combo shortlist is the Mark Johnston/PJ McDonald pairing at Newmarket. They saddle Reams Of Love, a nursery handicap debutant in a field full of unexposed types. We can see that both trainer and jockey have a great track record, together and individually: that's perhaps because Newmarket favours front-runners and most of Johnston's are ridden from the front.

Although it's far from assured, with so many yet to established a pattern to their preferred run style, what we do know is that the Johnston horse has led in both starts to date. He'll make a bold bid under a jockey that rides the course very well.


Even deploying a seriously demanding Impact Value parameter of 2 on the Trainer Jockey Combo report, I still get plenty with which to work. A number of these look degrees of interesting at the prices. I will be backing Hes No Trouble for small stakes each way at around 11/1, and may have a small win bet on Reams Of Love, too, the 13/2 in a place (BOG if you can get it with 365) feeling like a sliver on the generous side (and, in this case, it really is no more than a feeling).

Stat of the Day, 10th June 2020

Tuesday's pick was...

2.15 Haydock : Mountain Brave @ 5/1 BOG 2nd at 8/1 (Led, driven and headed 1f out, held towards finish) : right on the pace as expected, but couldn't hold on.

Wednesday's pick runs in the...

5.20 Wolverhampton :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Currently, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am 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.


Bavardages @ 10/3 or 3/1 BOG

...in a 9-runner, Class 5, A/W handicap for 3yo over 1m½f on Tapeta worth £4,690 to the winner...


This 3yr old colt has finished 112 in his last three starts, all in A/W handicaps and he has the benefit of having had a pipe-opener this season already, when a half-length runner-up on Newcastle's Tapeta six days ago. That was coming off a break of 198 days and I'd expect him to come on for the run.

PJ McDonald rides for Mark Johnston here and the pair have already had 4 winners from 14 together since the resumption and they make a pretty good team in A/W handicaps as is best shown as follows...

...and those figures include of relevance today...

  • 20/109 (18.4%) for 44.7pts (+41%) in races worth up to £8k
  • 17/61 (27.9%) for 74.4pts (+122%) on horses raced in the previous 6 to 20 days
  • 15/78 (19.2%) for 44.8pts (+57.4%) with 3 yr olds
  • 6/34 (17.7%) for 7.6pts (+22.2%) at class 5
  • and 5/32 (15.6%) for 25.8pts (+80.5%) here at Wolverhampton

Of the above, it makes sense to me to focus on the first three subsets of data and since the start of 2017, combining the three gives us this workable angle...


Bavardages' recent run was as I said, his first in over six months and trainer Mark Johnston has a good recent record with A/W handicappers at the sharper end of the market, who have only had 1 other handicap outing in the previous 90 days. It's not as complicated as it sounds, but a picture often illustrates better ie

...from which we can again apply some logical/relevant filters like...

  • 18 from 43 (41.9%) for 42.1pts (+98%) in races worth up to £8k
  • 10/20 (50%) for 27.7pts (+138.7%) for those who ran on Tapeta LTO
  • 8/17 (47.1%) for 21.75pts (+128%) at Class 5
  • 4/7 (57.1%) for 13.1pts (+186.8%) with PJ McDonald in the saddle
  • and 3/10 (30%) for 4pts (+40%) here at Wolverhampton

I won't combine the above into an angle for fear of over-diluting the sample size, but I think I've enough grounds...

...to suggest...a 1pt win bet on Bavardages @ 10/3 or 3/1 BOG as was offered by Coral and Bet365 respectively at 8.10am Wednesday, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 5.20 Wolverhampton

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


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!