New Year Musings: Little to cheer for Mullins’ Major Owners

I wonder how many media interviews or television guest appearances Rich Ricci will be making this New Year, writes Tony Stafford. The snappy suits and engaging banter have been a constant accompaniment to his period as husband of jump racing’s most prominent owner – his wife Susannah – but the tide (as it usually does in racing) has turned against the pair in recent weeks.

The Riccis will have been full of optimism, along with all the owners in Willie Mullins’ super-powerful Closutton stable, before the four days of Leopardstown’s and Limerick’s Christmas fixtures, but the frequent setbacks will have tested Rich’s famed equanimity.

To have 15 runners for only two wins – apart from Min’s disqualification for muscling out Simply Ned in the Grade 1 Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase – was bad enough. But when the losers included Faugheen, for only the second time; Djakadam and odds-on novice Epicuris, a former Group 1 Flat winner in France, it must have been literally too bad to believe.

Faugheen’s so-far unexplained dismal performance in the Ryanair Hurdle at odds of 1-6 topped the lot. Off in front under Paul Townend, Faugheen could never dominate and even before stablemate Cilaos Emery had moved inside him at the third and headed him before the fourth, the usual sparkle was missing.

The fact that he pulled up before two out was an irrelevance, his jockey obviously unable to comprehend such a total capitulation – his chance had gone long before that. After a fine comeback run a month earlier in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, 22 months after his previous dominant victory at Leopardstown in January 2016, the rising 10-year-old Faugheen was possibly more at risk of a disappointing effort second time back, but like this? Hardly!

Until Friday, the only blemish on Faugheen’s card had been his defeat in the 2015 Morgiana Hurdle, on his return the season after his Champion Hurdle triumph when he beat stablemate Arctic Fire. His unlikely conqueror that day was another Mullins top-notcher, Nicholls Canyon, and there was an eerie portent of things to come when that gallant stayer fell and was killed in Thursday’s three-miler won by former Mullins inmate Apple’s Jade.

Like the Riccis, Nicholls Canyon’s owners Andrea and Graham Wylie have been at the top of the jumps-owning tree ever since their brilliant stayer Inglis Drever won three World Hurdles at Cheltenham. Successful in the initial running of the race in 2005, he missed the following year through injury, but returned to collect twice more in 2007 and 2008.

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At that time Wylie, who made his fortune with his Sage computing business in the North-East, often had around 100 horses in training in Co Durham with Howard Johnson, but the trainer’s four-year ban in August 2011 for illegally running a horse after de-nerving it led to Johnson’s announcing his retirement.

Graham Wylie had already altered his approach from having a host of unproven stores and some expensive sales acquisitions joining Johnson’s yard to a more selective policy based on trainers Paul Nicholls and Mullins.

The Wylie fortunes this season have been even bleaker than the Riccis’. Eight of their horses have run a combined 20 times for just a single win for Invitation Only at Navan on December 9. Apart from the numbing loss of Nicholls Canyon, four other Wylie horses appeared over Christmas and the biggest disappointment from the rest was Yorkhill’s fading into a 59-length defeat behind Road to Respect in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase. Such is the Mullins mystique that observers were suggesting Yorkhill could step up to challenge Buveur d’Air as Faugheen’s Champion Hurdle replacement. It seems unlikely in the extreme to me that he could match the brilliant Christmas Hurdle winner.

Wylie’s only connection to Nicholls this winter has been as share-holder with three other prominent stable owners in the useful chaser Copain De Classe, third on his only run this autumn behind the smart Benatar at Ascot.

Over the four days of Christmas Mullins sent out ten winners from 49 Leopardstown and Limerick contestants. Almost half (24) started favourite and eight of them won. Eight of his odd-on shots were beaten, and as Nicky Henderson found in the years when his best horses were not good enough to win the championship races, from now until Cheltenham will be especially testing.

While even Mullins must be questioning elements of his operation, it gets better and better for Joseph O’Brien. Not content with sending out two 16-1 winners, Hardback and Alighted, for Gigginstown House Stud in consecutive Leopardstown races on Thursday, he won Limerick’s bumper the same afternoon with 11-8 shot High Sparrow  and even contrived a winning Lingfield raid with Art Nouvelle (9-2), guided to a length victory in the 6f handicap by Adam Kirby. That’s a 3,774-1 four-timer, and all within a couple of hours!

If anything, O’Brien junior is even more adventurous than his father and the rapidity with which he is progressing (Melbourne Cup and all) will be worrying for many. It should be no surprise that he is equally good with the jumpers. Both mum and dad were champion Irish jumps trainers before their mid-20’s.

The prize for the most opportunistic win of the Christmas period, though, goes to the underrated Roger Teal, who sent the juvenile Tip Two Win to collect a £46k prize in Doha, Qatar, on Friday.  There had already been plenty of interest in the Dark Angel colt after his Listed win at Doncaster in September and there was no disgrace in his Newmarket second behind the highly-impressive Mark Johnston-trained Frankel colt Elarqam who beat him a couple of lengths at Group 3 level later that month.

Despite those good runs, Tip Two Win did not make the cut for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race in California, so Teal shrewdly picked out Doha as an end-of-year benefit for owner-breeder Ann Cowley. She bought Tip Two Win’s dam, Freddie’s Girl, for £9,000 at Goff’s Kempton sale and won three races with her when trained by Stef Higgins.

Tip Two Win is her first foal and he has now won three and been placed in the other three of his six races. Roger Teal was quick to report that he’s not for sale. All they have to do now is win a Group 1 and they’ll be home free.

Another set of well-known colours, those now billed as Ann and Alan Potts Limited after the deaths of both Gold Cup-winning owners, have been subject to a number of reverses, not least Gold Cup hero Sizing John’s capitulation in the same Grade 1 that featured the Djakadam and Yorkhill disappointments.

But for me, the run which most clearly summed up racing’s cock-eyed valuation especially of jumps horses came in the two and a half mile bumper at Leopardstown on Thursday. Here the Potts team sent out well-fancied Madison To Monroe but after making the running for the first mile and a half under trainer Jessica Harrington’s daughter, Kate, he soon dropped to the rear and came home 100 lengths behind the winner.

Said victor was Carefully Selected, powerfully ridden by Patrick Mullins in the portion of the Mullins operation, unexposed bumper horses, still bucking the trend. Madison To Monroe had won his only point-to-point back in February. Five got round in that eight-runner affair, after which the Potts team forked out €300,000. It would seem on this evidence that there’s little chance of recouping much of that.

Stat of the Day, 7th November 2017

Monday's Result :

4.10 Plumpton : Mab Dab @ 13/2 BOG 3rd at 7/1 Prominent, driven to challenge after 3 out, soon every chance, kept on same pace

Tuesday's selection goes in the...

4.50 Wolverhampton

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

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


Jack of Diamonds @ 11/4 BOG

A Class 6 apprentice jockeys' handicap over 1m0.5f on tapeta...

...with an 8 yr old gelding who has won 7 of his 42 (16.7% SR) starts on All-Weather tracks to date including...

  • 6/36 (16.7%) in handicaps
  • 6/28 (21.4%) going left handed (5/24 = 20.8% in hcps)
  • 6/22 (27.3%) at odds of evens to 10/1 (5/18 = 27.8% in hcps)
  • 4/11 (36.4%) here at Wolverhampton, all in hcps
  • 4/8 (50%) over 8.5f, all in hcps
  • 4/8 (50%) over course and distance, all in hcps
  • 2/6 (33.3%) in November runs, all in hcps
  • and 2/4 (50%) at Class 6 (1/1 = 100% in hcps)

His trainer, Roger Teal, is 9/36 (25% SR) for 48.8pts (+135.5% ROI) profit on the tapeta here at Wolverhampton from 2014-17 and these include...

  • 8/31 (25.8%) for 48.1pts (+155%) in handicaps
  • 7/24 (29.2%) for 33.4pts (+139%) from his male runners
  • 6/17 (35.3%) for 50.2pts (+295.2%) over this 8.5f course and distance
  • 5/15 (33.3%) for 12.56pts (+83.8%) at Class 6
  • 6/9 (66.6%) for 22.95pts (+255%) at odds of 5/1 and shorter
  • and 5/9 (55.6%) for 56.43pts (+626.7%) with horses returning from a 31-46 day absence

Our boy drops down a grade today and Roger Teal + A/W hcp class droppers + 2013-17 = 11/34 (32.4% SR) for 35.6pts (+104.6% ROI) at odds of 10/1 and shorter and these contain of relevance today...

  • at trips up to today's 8.5f : 11/30 (36.7%) for 39.6pts (+132%)
  • those dropping 1 class are 8/27 (29.6%) for 32.4pts (+120%)
  • males are 7/23 (30.4%) for 33.06pts (+143.7%)
  • those coming off a break of 16-35 days are 6/15 (40%) for 32.4pts (+216.1%)
  • at Class 6 : 3/13 (231%) for 2.62pts (+20.1%)
  • and here at Wolverhampton : 2/5 (40%) for 5.61pts (+112.1%)

3lb Claimer Ben Robinson takes the ride today and he's having a great 2107 by apprentice standards, riding 33 winners from his 279 (11.8% SR) rides and following him would have resulted in profits of 138.1pts at an ROI of 49.5%, with him winning 6 of 34 (17.65%) for 27.66pts (+81.4%) here at Wolverhampton.

Of Ben's 6/34 record here this year, he's 5/32 (15.6%) for 26.5pts (+82.7%) in handicaps and 4/23 (17.4%) for 26.7pts (+116.1%) in Class 6 handicaps, so he should what lies ahead of him today... us... a 1pt win bet on Jack of Diamonds @ 11/4 BOG, which was widely available at 6.40pm on Monday, but if you can grab the 10/3 BOG from Bet365, you should! To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 4.50 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!

Stat of the Day, 29th May 2015

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day

Stat of the Day, 29th May 2015

Another evening of frustration in Yorkshire, but I'm not the first from the "right" side of the Pennines to feel that way and I certainly won't be the last!

Cut The Corner ran well enough without being spectacular, got a bit squeezed and bumped a little in the closing stages which seemed to slow him down, but I'm not convinced he had enough in the tank to win even with a clear run.

We had to settle for 5th place, beaten by nearly 4.5 lengths despite being heavily backed in from our 5/2 to an SP of 5/4. I find myself repeating the mantra that constantly beating SP will provide long-term profit and it really will, but I could just do with some short-term relief (oo-er, missus! 😀 )

Hopefully that will come in Friday's...

4.30 Brighton:

And what looks a truly awful standard of race, but I believe we've got the best of a (very) bad bunch in the shape of the 11/4 BOG Tilstarr. She might well be 0/15 on turf and just 2/31 in her entire career, but unbelievably her 6.45% career strike rate is the best of the 7 runners here, who collectively have only won 8 of 180 races!

She was a runner-up just nine days ago in a better standard (and class) of contest than this and was only beaten by the in-form (111221) I'm Harry, having possibly expended too much energy in the early stages chasing a runaway leader, who faded to a 14.5 lengths defeat.

Better handling by a jockey with a decent record on this course might help her cause today, as John Egan's career record here at Brighton reads as 25 winners from just 142 (17.6% SR) rides. He had no rides here between June 2009 and early October 2014, but snce coming back to Brighton almost 8 months ago, he has won 7 of his 12 races here, the 58.3% strike rate yielding 72.6pts profit at an ROI of 605%!

I know these are small sample sizes, but Brighton has its quirks and it would seem that John understands them, which has to be a positive sign. He's 5/10 for 65.6pts in handciaps, he's 4/7 for 52.2pts at Class 6 level and below 4/1 he has ridden 4 winners from 6 for 10.9pts etc etc!

Trainer Roger Teal has also done well at this lower level here at Brighton, despite not sending too many runners here. Since the start of the 2012 season, he's had 4 winners from 11 runners (36.4% SR) for 10.2pts (+92.7% ROI) profits in  Class 5/6 handicaps at odds of 15/8 to 6/1.

As I mentioned a little while ago Tilstarr ran at a higher grade when finishing second last time out and since 2010, Roger Teal's handicap class droppers priced at 14/1 and shorter (he's had quite a few longshots!) are 13/80 (16.25% SR) for profits of 30.4pts at an ROI of 38%.

Those running within 3 to 21 days (ie fresh but not too soon) of their last run are 7/21 (33.33% SR) for 45.6pts (+217.3% ROI), whilst those finishing 2nd or 3rd last time out are 4/15  (26.7% SR) for 15.2pts (+101.3% ROI) and those running here at Brighton are 2 from 8 (25% SR) for 10.7pts at an ROI of 133.9% ROI.

Tilstarr is nowhere near being the best horse we've selected for SotD, she's not even the best this week, but I think she's the best in this race and has the stats to back up the selection.

So, the call for Friday is a 1pt win bet on Tilstarr at 11/4 BOG, I'm on with Bet365, but the same price is offer from both Hills and BetVictor, as you'll see after...

...clicking here for the betting on the 4.30 Brighton

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

just click here for more details.


Here is today's racecard.

Stat of the Day, 27th March 2013

Stat of the Day: 27/03/13

Stat of the Day: 27/03/13

Stat of the Day, 27th March 2013

No joy yesterday, as Wild Ground trailed home in 5th place, some 34 lengths or so off the winner and around 20 lengths away from the places. It is quite remarkable that he finished the race at all to be honest, as his journey was littered with jumping errors. He crashed through the first fence and his jockey James Best did well just to stay on board. The mistakes eventually took its toll and our selection petered away from 2 out.

There's not much catching my eye at Wetherby, so it's back to the All-Weather again and today we'll head to not-so-Leafy Lingfield for a 12-runner Class 6 handicap. The trip is six furlongs for the...

3.00 Lingfield

In the last few months, trainer Roger Teal has tackled handicap events here at Lingfield with a great deal of success. In the last 5 months or so during the winter campaign, five of his seventeen entrants in handicaps here have gone on to win: this impressive 28.4% strike rate producing a very healthy 24.8pts profit at SP, ie some 146% return on stakes invested.

E/W backers haven't gone unrewarded either, as a further five of the losing dozen made the frame giving a place strike rate of 58.8% and level stakes profits of 34.13pts, a shade over doubling your money. Another such result would be welcomed today from Mr Teal's sole runner Johnny Splash.

This 4 yr old comes here in decent nick, having only finished outside the first three home in one of his six races this year, further opening up the prospect of an E/W bet today. He has already recorded two victories at this track in 2013, the most recent being a course and distance win in a similar standard of handicap just under five weeks ago. He was subsequently raised 3lbs for that in and then didn't shine next time out at the minimum 5f trip. He finished 5th of 5 that time, but in fairness only a length and a half covered the entire field.

He is partnered by Nathan Alison today, who will take five pounds off and this reduction allied to the step back to his favoured 6 furlongs should seriously help the cause.

There's enough juice in the early morning price to take a cautious approach and I've gone for a 0.5pts E/W bet on Johnny Splash at 15/2 with BetVictor but please do take the opportunity to...

Click here for the latest betting on the 3.00 Lingfield,

Whilst the full racecard for this race is right here.

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