Specifically, I'll be mentioning the weekend's winners (and losers); fantasy footy update; a top trainer who you can meet this week; 'bucket and spade' racing; salutary Sunday betting lesson; and, a nag I part-own running today. Phew! So let's get cracking.
First up, let's take a look back at the weekend's racing, and in particular the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock. Lest you didn't see it, it was an absolute humdinger of a finish, contested by the three market protagonists, 4/1 favourite Dream Ahead, and 5/1 joint second picks, Bated Breath and Hoof It.
They finished in that order, with a nose (the shortest possible margin of victory/defeat) and a head separating the trio. The fourth was a length and a quarter back, and the rest were beaten two lengths and more... which in sprinting terms is half the track.
This was a race that had a particularly lop-sided feel to it in the morning. Gavin, over at Nag-Nag-Nag, brought my attention to the fact that it was a 16 runner Group 1 race featuring NO last time out winners, which surely constitutes some sort of unwanted record.
It was a weak Group 1, and it reflected the paucity of top class sprinters in Britain and Ireland currently in my opinion. However, that said, the medalists were clearly superior to the rest and, on good ground and over six furlongs, these are the best three sprinters on the block.
Dream Ahead has been stretched out to seven furlongs and a mile with little effect. And it was no surprise to see him equal his July Cup-winning performance here when one casts a glance at his race record.
Dream Ahead has now had eight career runs, and won five. All five wins are at six furlongs! Including no fewer than FOUR Group 1 contests!!!
I unfortunately took him on - though I respected him as the only danger - with Hoof It. This horse is another who is palpably a six furlong horse (and perhaps seven), and hasn't got the toe to stick with the real quarter horses in the minimum distance races any more.
A look at his race record this season tells us what a combative and classy three-quarter mile horse he is: wins in two huge field hyper-competitive six furlong sprints and then a most decisive win in the 27 runner Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood.
He would have won here too, but for a poorly judged ride from a highly competent jockey, and the waywardness of the winner, who lugged across the track under pressure, carrying Hoof It with him.
Had Graham Gibbons, replacing Kieren Fallon on the Lee Westwood / Chubby Chandler-owned Hoof It, made his move earlier, he'd have undoubtedly won (in my mind, at least). Had he gone the other side of the errant Dream Ahead, he'd have won (in my mind, at least). Had he gone earlier, and moved to the right of Dream Ahead, he'd have won by clear daylight (in my mind, at least).
I don't like to make excuses for horses, and I generally only make them once (look at a horse like Docofthebay if you're happy making excuses - you'll go skint!). But in the case of Hoof It, I believe that Gibbons on another day, and Fallon on almost any day, would have got him home in front.
There will of course be another day for Hoof It and, on ground that is good or faster over six furlongs, I'd say he's nigh on unstoppable.
Bated Breath is a horse I'd not really considered for this contest, and that was a tad unfair of me, given his decisive next best behind Dream Ahead in the aforementioned July Cup. The balance of his previous form was below that (more Listed class than Group 1), and I'd dismissed that run as a flash in the pan somewhat.
My mistake. Bated Breath ran another belter and will surely have his day, though he'll probably need to swerve Messrs. Dream and Hoof to do it. His handler, Roger Charlton, is not one I especially rate - despite the fact he's having a very fine season this term - but credit where it's due: he is an excellent trainer of sprinters.
Further evidence, if that were needed, came in the form of fourth placed finisher, the relatively unheralded Genki. A 20/1 shot this day, Genki was clear best of the rest, and a Group 3 looks a gimme, with a Group 2 a possibility if there's no Dream/Hoof/Bated presence.
Elzaam was the only other three year old to run with credit, as Wootton Bassett (who would have been a most topical winner with the closure of the repatriation centre there this week) blew himself out before half a mile had been covered. The latter surely hasn't trained on and might come back a stronger horse next year, with any luck for connections.
The former, trained by that man Roger V(arian), has plenty of scope to improve, but might need another furlong to win a Group race.
Society Rock was drawn out of it (he was drawn 1, and finished sixth, with the other six horses filling the first seven places having been drawn 9, 15, 13, 14, 12, and 16... out of 16!). He's a good horse from the James Fanshawe yard that also houses Deacon Blues, the tip top soft ground sprinter. On another day, when drawn better, the Rock can pick up place pieces, but his slow starting style means he needs a heck of a lot to drop right for him to win.
Seven may be Society's saviour, as six is surely too short. (Try saying that after a few beers!)
Quick mentions for Kingsgate Native (gone at the game, and won't carry my money any more); Delegator (another money-sucker who is decent enough on uncomplicated seven furlong strips, but tends to get tonked under any other conditions); and, Masamah (a five furlong trail-blazer who needs a trail-blazer's track, like Epsom or Goodwood, to be seen to best effect. A strongly run six was never going to suit this gate-bouncing speedball).
The rest didn't, and don't (in the context of Group 1 six furlong sprints) count.
Onwards, and mixing up the 'mish mash' a bit, I've news of the first Fantasy Football Manager of the Month. A mammoth 221 contenders are vying for the prize - a collection of eminently readable and informative racing books - and the level of competition is a lot deeper than the Haydock sprint mentioned above!
Mid-table mediocrity seems to be my natural habitat in such affairs, and so my current position of 135th reflects that pretty fairly.
At the bottom end, the likes of tony1montana, Parkside and Wibbles Wobbles (names withheld to protect the guilty!) need to do better. Come on guys, you must be able to catch me!
But focus must go to the top of the table and some impressive early season performances. Extremely honourable mentions to Jonathan Sutcliffe's Clueless Chickens (2nd), Ian Shutt's Dances With Wolves (3rd), and Mark 'Bond' Bassant's Sharp Shooters 007 (4th), butÂ the top of the pile so far, with a tidy 221 points, is Jim Kennedy's Clonora Reds.
Jim is, I believe, a Norwich fan, and is in position 12,213 overall (out of 2.4 million entries), which is a good effort indeed. Jim, please drop me an email at info AT geegeez.co.uk so I can sort your prize, a month's worth of free arb alerts, courtesy of the chaps over at ucantlose.co.uk.
It's still very early days, of course, so if you're sick as a parrot or over the moon at your seasonal start, remember that it's a marathon and not a sprint! 😉
Where to next on this Monday mish mash? How about my (roughly quarterly) betting lesson. I used the word 'salutary', meaning producing good benefits, in the preamble. And, whilst that might seem odd in the face of the idiotic losses I sustained yesterday, you'll understand why before I'm done.
You see, yesterday was a day when I actually awarded myself some time off, and didn't do a great deal (specifically, I did the pre-Challenge and Day One of the Challenge proper - see below; played some Football Manager 2011 as Bradford City; had a pub lunch; and, played some more Football Manager - it's that sort of a game!).
But in that hazy, lazy Sunday stupor, where I wasn't really focused on anything in particular, I thought that the claiming race at York looked interesting. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but that claimer was more like a US version, with good horses running for reasonable prize money under high-priced claiming tags.
In fact, five of the ten horses who ran were rated 80 or higher, which is generally Class 2 handicap territory. I had taken the view that very few of the runners actually had their conditions - ten furlongs on the sticky side of good - and that a horse called Overrule, who had a few lengths to find at the weights, might run a good race.
As it was, he ran a borderline non-trier race under his three pound apprentice. The jockey used the whip twice inside the final furlong and the horse, although finishing only sixth, was beaten just six lengths.
I don't believe he'd have won, so I'm not making excuses. Rather, I'm suggesting that this chap will be ready another day (betting drifted yesterday) and I'll hope to remember to back him when that day comes.
But that wasn't the problem with my Sunday wagering. Alas, my dander slightly up at this mild reversal, I then followed it up in the novice hurdle at Fontwell with the highest rated flat horse in the line up, a first time hurdler called Trovare.
Backed each way at 9/2 (further demonstrating my lack of conviction in the wager), Trovare jumped as though he'd not been schooled and evicted Colin Bolger at the fifth. To add insult to self-inflicted injury, the winner - a 12/1 shot - was trained by one of my favourite TTS trainer-track combo's, Brendan Powell at Fontwell. Bugger.
Digging a hole for oneself is never a great sensation, and I knew what I was doing but remained powerless to put down the shovel. Next up was a race that I'd NEVER bet in under normal circumstances: a TWENTY runner sprint handicap.
Despite having watched none of the earlier races on the straight track, I'd decided that high was the place to be, and backed three horses with high draws - Capone, Valery Borzov and Piazza San Pietro.
The nearest any of them got to prevailing was ninth placed Capone, a 25/1 shot. The first five home were drawn 13, 2, 8, 11, 12 suggesting that middle to low were favoured.
This was an object lesson in the facility with which a fool and his money is parted, and at this point - spitting self-stuffed feathers - I retired hurt. I lost more money than I wanted to - a fair bit more, but not a whole lot more - and I was bloody irritated with myself.
Like I say, roughly once a quarter, I find myself in these punting doldrums, where I have no view on the racing; no angle in; no stat-based consideration; and yet I hurl cash at the nags anyway.
Each time, I suffer a self-inflicted wound. And each time, the memory of that self-harm keeps me away from bad bets for around another three months or so.
So, take stock of your own moments of lunacy. Don't chase them down the next day, or subsequent days. Rather, acknowledge that in the long term, these lessons are a small price to pay if they keep the discipline in check, at least for the most part. Truly, a salutary lesson.
Enough of the past, it's now time to head forth into the eminent yonder, or today and this week to be precise.
This afternoon, at Newcastle (5.20), a horse I'm involved in will make his second flat start. He's called Think (apt enough after yesterday's buffoonery), and realistically he has little chance in a strangely competitive maiden for the track. His odds of 40/1 reflect that, and I'm looking for little more than a promising run and with luck a top six or eight finish.
Saying that, a mile on good to soft should suit well, and in due course when he gets to handicap company, these will be nigh on optimal conditions. But I just feel that he's up against better beasts this afternoon.
Good luck to my fellow syndicate members who are up there this afternoon. 🙂
Now then, I've got news of two wildly different racing events, both taking place this Thursday evening. Frustrating that, as on any other week, I'd have attended both. Oh well, as I'm fond of saying, you can't do everything.
So, the first of the two is the London Racing Club are getting together this Thursday evening at the Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum, from 7.30pm. I'm a member of the London Racing Club, and they offer tremendous value for money, and excellent insight from people who ought to know.
So who is this insider with insight this week? None other than Jonjo O'Neill, who will be walking attendees through his stable, and offering his thoughts on the state of racing and the ones to follow this National Hunt season.
It promises to be a fantastic night, and I'm really sorry I can't make it. If you'd like to go, full details can be found on the London Racing Club site, here: http://www.londonracingclub.org/
If you do go, I'd love a quick email on the ones to follow... 😀
The reason I'll not be there this time is because quite soon I'm going to be 'celebrating' a certain birthday from which life is supposed to begin... and in honour of this looming shadow of reality biting, Mrs Matt is taking me over to Ireland for a couple of days for some 'bucket and spade' racing.
As far as I know, it's the only race meeting in Europe held under rules on the beach. It's a real novelty and, whilst the racing won't be much of a standard, I'm expecting the craic to be top drawer. It's just the sort of quirky race event I love.
I'll try to remember my little Flip camera, and try to remember to take some footage. But I can tell you right now, it won't be anywhere near as good as this fantastic little vid I found on youtube.
And finally, as they say, thanks to all of you for checking out the Challenge page yesterday. I know some people had problems with the links in my emails, but that didn't stop over a thousand of you clicking on through.
I'll say it again: if you have any interest whatsoever in understanding how online business works, then you really ought to take a look at this free training. It's top, top drawer.
For those whose links were failing yesterday, click here and get registered.
If you've already signed up, and you're up for the challenge... or should I say, The Challenge... then brilliant! I want you to join my group so that I can help you, and you can maybe help other geegeez members along the way.
We all have different skills and experiences and, even if you think you don't have any, one of the joys of the Challenge is that you will realise that you have a lot more latent talent than you might have thought.
In any case, please click this link and introduce yourself if you're already signed up. (You might have to register for the forum, which I did through facebook by simply clicking the 'facebook connect' button).
Challenge forum team room - http://challenge.co/forum/showthread.php/5190-Team-Geegeez
I'm happy to help by answering people's questions in that area, but please understand that questions like 'How do I get the webinar to work?' need to be directed to more technical brains than mine.
It might be heartening for you to know that, whilst in five years online I've learnt a few bits and pieces about internet technology, I'm still a klutz who makes at least one major mistake every time I do something significant online.
And guess what? It doesn't matter! Making mistakes is all part of the process. It may sound a bit cliche'd but the more errors you make (and allow yourself to make - important nuance there), the better you'll be.
So, come join the Challenge party. Make some cock-ups, learn some stuff, and with any luck you'll make a few quid/bucks/yoyo's (my thanks to Cossy for pointing out that the Euro is affectionately known as the yoyo for its propensity to be always up or down...!)
Here's the link again: join the Challenge here.
That's the monster Monday mish mash all done. Lots to reflect on from the weekend, but more importantly, lots andÂ lots to look forward to, so do get involved if you'd like to. I'd be thrilled to hear stories from some of you of how you surprised yourself, and maybe made a buck or two to boot. What could be more satisfying?
p.s. in case you're not sure, there are billions of areas in which to consider, and horse racing systems is just one. Personally, I am going to try the challenge in a completely different area. 🙂