Today hails the start of the three day Dante meeting on the Knavesmire in York, one of Britain's most beautiful tracks.
As well as the second most important Derby trial, the Dante itself, there are another twenty races for us to get our teeth into, so I've pulled together a few facts and figures that might help.
Firstly, the draw can be significant. That's not to say it always is. But, in fields of 14+, it often plays a hand. So where to be ideally berthed?
Well, on the straight course, which hosts five and six furlong races, middle to high is usually the place to be.
On the seven furlong course, which begins up a dogleg chute to the straight course, there doesn't seem too much clarity - at least on my research - about where to be, though low may just shade it. Essentially, the draw shouldn't be the reason your horse doesn't win over seven.
In big field handicaps over a distance of between a mile and a mile and a half, low are generally favoured when there's a decent gallop. Note that when they go slow, and stack up, the low drawn horses can get boxed in and concede first run to wider drawn horses. So do check the pace setup of the race, if you're able to.
If that didn't more hiinder than help, let's move on...
As regular readers will know, I like my trainers for courses, and especially for the big meetings. Most of the content I've written on this this season has been housed inside the Betfolio membership site, but for this week's meeting I'm sharing my views more widely.
Of course, as with everything else, past performance is no guarantee of future performance, but it is at least a nod and a wink in the right direction.
So, my four to follow on the Knavesmire this week are... Mick Easterby, Silvester Kirk, Richard Fahey, and Saeed bin Suroor.
However, I will only be tracking their fancied handicap runners. (I define fancied as 16/1 or shorter)
Over the last five Dante meetings, this quartet has won nineteen such handicaps from 84 runners, and generated a surplus of 88 points.
Today, their potential qualifiers - depending how the odds go - are (current qualifiers in bold italics, do check nearer the time if you're able to):
1.30 - Majestic Dream (currently 40/1), Space War (22/1), Area Fifty One (10/1), Flag Officer (4/1)
2.00 - Valery Borzov (25/1), Kaldoun KIngdom (25/1), Coolminx (11/1)
3.35 - Mica Mika (6/1)
4.45 - Nameitwhatyoulike (9/1), Baccarat (11/2)
The other thing to note about Yorkshire trainers is how much they LOVE a win at York, and again, especially at the big meetings. This, obviously, shouldn't surprise us. But there does still seem to be something of a southern bias when looking at handicaps, and this manifests itself most profitably in the lowest class races at this meeting, the Class 4 handicaps.
Basically, the Newmarket-based Group-class wolves running in handicap sheep's clothing are found in the better handicaps. But the 'weaker' divisions are often fought for amongst the local chaps... and often at rewarding odds.
In fact, for this system, I want to guarantee the odds would reward each way support, so I favoured horses priced between 6/1 and all the way up to 40's. Again, from an each way perspective, I was only interested in races with at least twelve runners, thus paying a quarter the odds for placed qualifiers.
And finally, I found that the boys out-performed the girls (as they generally do in any racing system), and that younger horses were clearly the place to focus.
The upshot of all that leads to a focus on:
- 3 - 5yo's
- Male horses only
- 12+ runner Class 4 handicaps
- Yorkshire-based trainers
Now, when betting at decent prices like this, one must expect fairly taxing losing runs. However, backing each way can be rewarding and take the sting out of the barren spells.
Specifically, since 2008, there have been eight winners from 52 qualifiers (15.38%) at the May Dante meeting, for a profit of 93.5 points. Backing each way increases the strike rate to 32.69% (17 placed from 52), and the profit to 136.88 points, albeit from double the stakes (for win and place, of course).
Today, the following will represent this angle:
3.35 - Eagle Rock, The Fun Crusher, King Kurt, and Mica Mika.
Of course, you'll find more help elsewhere on geegeez in your quest for York winners.
Try Well I Declare, for a start.
Mal has been through the cards for the most pertinent angles, and a further breakdown of the draw.
You can read that here: Well I Declare.
And finally, on a completely different note, an update on the Geegeez Racing Club horse, Khajaaly.
For those who don't know, Khajaaly runs in the colours of geegeez.co.uk, and is owned by a group of site readers. He had his first run for us back on 4th August 2010, and since that day at Newcastle, he's represented us nineteen times.
Most of those runs have been at his 'spiritual home' of Wolverhampton, where he has an excellent record for us of three wins, two seconds, two thirds, and two fourths from twelve starts.
Those three wins came at odds of 25/1 (!), 3/1, and 8/1, and we've had many a good day at Dunstall Park, and elsewhere along the way.
Earlier this year, a couple of things happened which changed the way the racing club was to be run.
Firstly, the administrative challenge of a group of fifty members was too much to handle alongside everything else I have on my plate (not complaining, just saying!), and so we decided to move to a smaller group of just ten members.
And secondly, since around the middle of last year, Khajaaly had developed a lump on his leg. It didn't seem to be troubling him - and indeed it wasn't troubling him - but it was growing.
The vet examined him and took x-rays and it transpired that he had a bone tumour. Whilst this was benevolent, it did begin to cause him discomfort in that it was a big enough size.
Ultimately, it was necessary to operate at about the same time that the club year ended. So, we sent Khajaaly to the sales ring with the intention of buying him back. An under-bidder, who was clearly not put off by the cricket ball-sized lump on the parading Khajaaly, forced us up to £1,100 to buy him back.
Khajaaly then went 'under the knife' that same week. It was expected that his convalescence would mean he'd be out of action for up to six months, and all members of the revised club were braced for paying for his 'holiday', and looking forward to a rejuvenated horse in the Autumn.
His operation, which was conducted under a general anaesthetic, went smoothly. And, most importantly, he was able to get up fine after the op. I'm told this is the most worrying time for a horse as they don't always get up afterwards, alas.
So far so good.
Khajaaly had a kind of swab stitched into his leg as it was healing, which caught all the fluid and kept out infection, and he had his stitches out yesterday.
[As you can see, the swab bandage is a curious looking thing, but it seems to have done the trick!]
And, after the stitches came out yesterday, the vet's bulletin was surprisingly upbeat.
In fact, he told us that our young man can go on the horse walker from today, for two 45 minute stints a day to start to get his mobility and fitness back.
And, better still, assuming all goes well, he can be ridden again within a fortnight.
This was both surprising and delightful news, and augurs well for a swifter return to the track than any of us were expecting.
Obviously, things need to continue to go in his favour, but the signs so far are hugely promising, and we're REALLY looking forward to seeing him, firstly at the Geegeez Racing Club day at Newmarket on 8th June; and then, later in the season, back on the track.
He's still only five, and there are plenty more races to be won with him!
There are two shares still available in Khajaaly, if you'd like to join us.
Please contact me directly if that might be of interest.
Good luck this afternoon at York if you're playing and, if you didn't already take advantage of Skybet's generous free £10 bet offer (you need to be a new registrant of their), then click the link below this post and get yourself a decent free bet. There's no deposit required, just sign up and they'll immediately credit you.
Let us know if you back a winner in the comments!
And also let us know if you fancy anything at York this afternoon - I need some help with my placepot picks. 😉