The sun is shining through the tinted windows of the Geegeez Towers office here in Hackney, and it finally feels like spring. Spring: a season of renewal, of hope and light, of fresh starts...
So it is with the National Hunt season, which officially finished on Saturday; and then officially restarted on Sunday. Ever the sportsman, Tony McCoy has decided that, in order to give the rest a chance, he'll spot them a two week or so head start in the champion jockey race. That's a race which will see him bid for a remarkable 19th straight title.
Think about that for a second. What were you doing all those years ago? It was 1995, Robson and Jerome's tortuous version of Unchained Melody was monopolizing the charts, and a fresh-faced McCoy was setting out in his first season as a pro, having won the previous term's conditional jockeys' title.
Now he's bearing down on a monstrous tally of 4,000 career wins, and has a great chance of hitting that monumental milestone this season, requiring just 175 further victories.
With the summer jumping season having started, the primary focus of racing's lens shifts away from winter game's little brother, to the flat, and the big boys. And, after a few weeks of dress rehearsals, the drama proper commences this Saturday at Newmarket with the first of the Classics, the 2000 Guineas, followed on Sunday by the 1000 Guineas.
We'll have full coverage of the meeting here, of course, and indeed you can read my full preview of the 1000 Guineas here, should you want to get a head start on the weekend's big race action.
Continuing the theme of renewal, I'd like to share with you what's about to burst to life here on geegeez.
Firstly, as you know, I'm a huge fan of the placepot, and tote multi-race bets in general. And, judging by the feedback I've had from many of you, you are too. So, I'm delighted to say that I've managed to negotiate a deal with none other than Malcolm Boyle, author of the best placepot book ever written, How to Win the Tote Placepot, to provide his daily rundown for one meeting a day.
Mal will be starting this very Wednesday, and I really hope you like his offerings. He's a great stats man and has hit many a big 'pot with his insights on another website with a slightly (ahem) larger budget than this one. It's testament to the feedback he's received from many readers to his Well I Declare (now Daily Stat Pack) content that I've (in fact, we've!) managed to persuade him to sign up for a daily placepot contribution.
So, look out for that on Wednesday.
Also coming very soon, I hope, is a tipping league. We've still got one or two little issues to iron out, like how to get the registration working properly, and things like settling bets for dead heats and rule four deductions, and the like, but we're pretty close now. Hopefully within the next three weeks, we'll at least have a beta version on the site to play with.
What does this mean? Well, it means you'll be able to choose any race and any stake (within the game's budget) you like, and you'll be able to bet win or each way. Down the line, you'll also be able to take a best odds guaranteed price or Betfair odds on your selection.
And, of course, it means competitions. Lots of competitions. Plus, naturally enough, bragging rights if you're smart / lucky enough to lead the charge.
I've been testing this over the past week with Database Dave and Johanne the Intern, and we've been having a lot of fun!
The image above is a sneaky peak of the tip history screen, with handy gold, silver and bronze colouring (click it to view full size). 🙂
Another thing which has been 'coming soon' for ages, and has actually popped in and out over the last month or so is a daily race card and result service. Today is currently a going day (!), and you can view today's racing here.
There are a few (ok, a good few) elements which need tightening up, including speed of loading, and we're working on those. The next stage after performance will be usability. That means we're going to make everything a bit slicker, with the layout enhanced; inline form which can be expanded and collapsed for any runner; trainer and jockey form; plus various other 'bits and pieces'.
And then we'll be bringing you reports to hopefully help with the process of winner (or loser, if you're a layer) finding. We'll have a pace analysis report (currently in development), plus various reports around course/distance/going/class.
And that should all be coming within the next month or so... I hope. We have had plenty of issues to date with getting this content published, and I'm sure we'll encounter a few more 'challenges' along the way. But at the end of the process, there will be lots more to enjoy and to aid your betting here at geegeez.co.uk
On a different note, one other thing to quickly mention is London Racing Club's monthly get-together will be tomorrow night, Tuesday 30th April, at 7.30pm at the Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum. This month, Racing Post chief reporter and LRC president, Lee Mottershead, will be grilling Premier League flat jockey, Richard Hughes, on his career and the horses he's most looking forward to this season. There's sure to be plenty to take note of, so do get along if you're local and you can.
Full details can be found here: http://www.londonracingclub.org/
I'm hoping to make it but a) am a little under the weather currently, and b) have used up a fair number of my passes with Mrs Matt in recent weeks.
And finally, as it's Monday and we haven't done it for a while, why don't we have a crack at that big field Towcester placepot this afternoon, in the spirit of awaiting Mal's daily placepot contributions? There's plenty of scope for falling over, but nothing ventured nothing gained and all that! So, here goes nothing:
Leg 1 - 2.00: We kick off with an eighteen runner handicap hurdle, which could immediately whittle the pool down quite severely... At this time of year, and on the advertised good going, it can pay to look beyond the bare recent form and insist on a relatively lightly raced horse suited by the conditions.
I'm going quite deep here so as to at least keep the dream alive to race two, and my A picks will be Western Kate, Zelos Diktator and Roseini. Western Kate will appreciate this better ground, and the trip and class are right for her. Zelos Diktator was a winner on his last two starts, both for today's claiming jockey, and could still be improving. In a weakish race like this, there's a fair chance he can overcome the handicapper's intervention. Roseini is right at the bottom of the weights, and won over two miles here on very fast ground last October. Any sun will be a bonus for her, and there's been a few quid in her direction early today as well.
On B, I'll slot in Trifollet and Highland River. Both are suited to today's quick ground and fair stamina test, and both come from owner/trainer setups. Trifollet drops in class here, and Highland River gets faster ground: in both cases, I'd expect to see improvement as a consequence.
Although missing the perm, I should say that I reckon Murfreesboro at the top is over-priced at 40/1 and might run better than those odds imply.
A - 3, 8, 18
B - 10, 15
Leg 2 - 2.30: With so many horses running here this afternoon, we'll have to take some chances, and I'm taking my first 'brave race' option here. Able Deputy has the best hurdles form, and has been backed, implying he's expected to run well after a four month layoff. Fast ground is no issue to him, and if his jumping is good enough, he'll be very tough to keep out of the frame.
A - 1
Leg 3 - 3.00: Trappy. Very trappy. Best suited by this set up could be Jameel and Meridiem. The former is lightly raced and comes from the respected John Ferguson yard. Ferguson's horses have hardly been flying on the soft ground this winter, but the signs are that a return to firmer footing is in their favour. Jameel's two second places were on decent ground; his pasting was on heavy.
Meridiem is a three times course and distance winner, each of them around this time of year. He loves quicker ground, two miles and Towcester and he's only a pound higher than that last win.
I'll take B picks here too, and will chance Quiet Whisper and Prize Fighter. This pair rarely win, but they're consistent enough and place regularly at around this trip and grade.
A - 2, 10
B - 9, 12
Leg 4 - 3.30: The favourite here has form figures of 4P4UP, which says a lot about the race! In Jolly Boys Outing's defence, he's been running on heavy ground which he'd have hated, and is reunited with a track and turf that are much more his bag. If we go back to his last runs on good ground, it's a far more interesting F131. Now, you'll note the amount of letters in those form strings, so he's not banker material, but he does make A.
The problem is there are no reliable propositions against him, so I'll be using the scattergun. Roi De Garde may run well on decent ground. He was a winner four starts back, which is more recently than most of these. I'll chance him on A.
On B, I'm taking some punts: One More Dinar for his consistency; Atherstone Hill for his course form (though his trainer would struggle to win a walkover just now); and Overton Lad on his second place in this in 2011 and plenty of other course silvers.
A - 2, 5
B - 1, 4, 10
Leg 5 - 4.00: Twelve Roses, banker. Next! [Note, look to lay him for a place to cover your stakes if the 'pot looks nice at this point]
A - 7
Leg 6 - 4.30: We'll have done well to still be going at this point, and there's money for lots of 'em in here, despite a shortish favourite. Henok won last week and gets a seven pound penalty for his troubles. He might overcome that, but his overall form is very patchy despite this being a bad race. I'll put him on B, in case he is up to the job.
On A, I'm rolling with Vosges and Oranger. Both are fairly consistent, with the former dropping in class and the latter in the frame in his last four including two wins. He goes ok on good ground too.
I'll bolster B with Orang Outan and Crack At Dawn.
A - 2, 4
B - 1, 3, 5
Playing for 10p's, with a 4x on all A's, and 2x on 5 A's and any 1 B comes to £51, and that'll be my placepot perm this afternoon.
Just playing A's in a straight perm would be 3 x 1 x 2 x 2 x 1 x 2 = 24 bets
Playing all picks (A's and B's) in a straight perm would be 5 x 1 x 4 x 5 x 1 x 5 = 500 bets
Here's how my eleven tickets look, using the geegeez placepot builder tool.