All posts by Florian Christoph

Florian - not a cool kid and don't try to be one. I'm a 31 year old photographer and writer, make a living in the land of rain but am German by nationality yet free and cosmopolitan by heart. The camera is my companion at places near and far.

Wednesday Selections: January 16th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

6.00 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Another chance for Miracle Works after his recent third place finish at Newcastle over 5f. I was keen on him that day and that hasn’t change ever since, as he is stepping up to 6f again today.

The minimum trip was a bit too sharp as it turned out, nonetheless this imposing grey ran a fine race in a competitive race, finishing strongly to claim third.

Even though he continues to be a maiden, this is only his fourth Handicap start and the fact remains his handicap debut last year over course and distance off 2lb higher rates super form in this field.

Now the third time running after a break as well, after a pipe opener and the recent excellent performance, up to what appears to be his optimum trip off a mark he could still better – Miracle Works has a fine opportunity to get finally off the mark today.

Selection:
10pts win – Miracle Works @ 8/1 MB

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Tuesday Selections: January, 15th 2019

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7.45 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Today is the day the handbreak comes off for Six Strings. I was already keen on the 5-year-old the last time here at Kempton, but as it turned out he was rather on pacemaker duties for a well-fancied stable mate that day, going from the front like a lunatic.

Number One jockey Robert Winston is on board this timeand Six Strings has fallen another 3lb in the handicap mark for the latest effort – a mark he seems certain to be well handicapped of, judged on past form.

What applied on the 4th of January does aply very much today also:

Six Strings had a number of yard changes and has seen his colours dramatically lowered from contesting competitively hot class 2 Handicaps of marks closer to 90, to falling now down to class 5 Handicaps on the All-Weather, rated 72.

It has to be said that Six Strings actually ran rather decent in 2018 despite all of this – the only really bad runs, in my book at least, were the two most recent efforts, both over a mile.

He drops to 7f today, a trip that’s more what he wants, most likely. His only success came over 6f to date but the additional furlong looks a real possibility, particularly if there isn’t too much pace on and he can either set the temp himself or track a modest pace.

Selection:
10pts win – Six Strings @ 4/1 MB

Friday Selections: January, 11th 2019

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Finally a winner again after hitting the post a handful of times lately – The Right Choice (11/1) was the right choice indeed! He drew clear in the closing stages to land the 6f sprint after a hectic race that saw him under pressure at the back of the field right from the start.

……

6.45 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 2m ½f

Thresholdofadream looks certainly well in here of a rating of 55 after two highly promising efforts in October and November, her first tries on the All-Weather as well stepping up significantly in trip.

She was arguably unlucky not finish closer over 14f here at Wolverhampton and subsequently she should have won at Lingfield the way she finished, if not for her poor positioning way too far off the pace.

This race is in fact even weaker, so given Thresholdofadream remains unexposed on the AW and the trip as well as being still lightly raced, there is every chance for more natural improvement.

The only issue is the wide draw and her running style, which caused her to get into trouble the last two times. Drawn in 11 may see her confronted with the same sort of scenario. Thankfully top man Joe Fanning is on board.

Selection:
10pts win – Thresholdofadream @ 7/2 MB

Thursday Selection: January, 10th 2019

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1.20 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Acclaim The Nation took to Southwell’s fibresand in the best possible fashion in his first try last month. He won pretty well over CD, looking comfortable, despite the tight margin. He backed up an excellent Chelmsford effort when going agonizingly close.

Southwell and its 5f trip can somewhat be a specialist situation – Acclaim The Nation looks to really enjoy this particular test and looks set for another big performance. Once again he has the aid of a perfect draw here, which should be a massive help for this pacey individual.

Only 2lb raised to a mark of 80 for the 77 TS & 87 RPR effort last time. There may well be a bit of improvement in him for his second fibresand start plus a smaller field to be dominated from pole position seem an ideal opportunity to go back-to-back.

Selection:
10pts win – Acclaim The Nation @ 7/2 PP

……..

2.25 Southwell: Class 4 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Black Salt is a skinny price for all he has done – an 8lb rise is quite something to deal with. I believe The Right Choice isn’t far behind the favourite ability wise. He’s ran a couple of really nice races on fibresand and could be able to pull out more.

His 6f success in a claimer looks pretty good as the runner-up, for all his faults, is something like a 70 rated individual. On that form, it was no surprise to see The Right Choice finish a strong 3rd next time out, only tiring in the final furlong over potentially too long 7f behind a well handicapped winner.

A return to 6f should suit, if he doesn’t blow the start. He has the aid of a good draw, so hopefully on what is only his fourth start here, he can make use of it.

Selection:
10pts win – The Right Choice @ 11/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: January, 9th 2019

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5.45 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 3f

Distingo looks the dark horse, potentially well in here on his return to the All-Weather. But at given prices I’m even more interested in long-shot Gendarme.

Rossa Ryan, a good job jockey, has a fine record on Hannon runners, rides this lightly raced gelding for the first time on what is Gendarme’s second start after a break and gelding operation.

You can easily disregard his comeback run over too short 7f. He steps up to 1m 3f which will much more what he needs. The son of Lawman tries the AW for the second time in his career, a surface that should suit also.

On turf he ran well enough of his allotted marks; a 3¾ lengths beaten 5th in a hot 10f Leicester handicap on June is the pick of the form; he ran to TS 71 and a career high RPR of 78 – the forms holds up well.

Now down to a handicap mark of 69, the 4-year-old could be well handicapped with a good draw, track and trip likely to suit, so a big run is on the cards, and he could pay handsomely for it.

Selection:
10pts win – Gendarme @ 20/1 MB

…..

6.45 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Totally speculative but not without hope is Delagate The Lady here in a poor race. The filly hasn’t shown anything to the form book of note in five career runs. However, on her handicap debut over 7f at Lingfield recently she outran her 50/1 price tag significantly in my view.

She tracked the eventual winner and pace setter for most parts of the race – the winner wasn’t to catch, but she showed fair early speed crossing over from her 8 gate after the start and stretched the rest of the field by half a dozen lengths until turning home, still in front – bar the winner – entering the final furlong.

This daguther of Delegator drops to 6f which is a trip more to suit, her dam was an AW winner as well, and her mark is down to a lowly 48 now.

The draw isn’t ideal, but Kieren Fox makes the trip here for this only one ride. So hopefully that a good sign for the chances of Delagate The Lady today, on what is her second handicap start.

Selection:
10pts win – Delagate The Lady @ 23/1 MB

Tuesday Selections: January, 8th 2019

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4.10 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile 

Last week’s impressive winner Paparazzi returns here turned out under a penalty. In an even weaker race, and with the memories of his impressive success still fresh in mind, one can clearly see why he is favourite to go back-to-back.

He may well do so as the 6lb penalty looks a lenient “punishment” for his impressive win, albeit only temporarily once the handicapper had the chance to assess. But this is a much bigger field, the pace not be as fast, and both may not suit his running style.

So at given prices I leave him alone and rather focus on potentially well handicapped Traveller. This gelding has dropped to a tasty mark now as well, though ideally he would be drawn not as wide as he is.

Regardless, Traveller ran a series of fairly decent races, starting with a 3rd place finish off 65 over CD in November ending with his most recent effort in early December, another 3rd place over CD.

All three performances, even the low looking 8th place finish at Wolverhampton, were to some extend quite eye-catching as you could give him credit for the fact he wasn’t always in the best position or those horses finishing in front of him got a near perfect run through.

I don’t want to make too many excuses for horses, but these low grade individuals often need nearly everything going right for themselves in order to find back to the winning ways – as we saw with Paparazzi last week who got the perfect race.

Traveller was able to ran to a career highest TS rating of 62 (AW)- and also achieved a 70+ RPR (on AW) on five occasions in the past. He clearly is capable of being a bit better than his current handicap rating; recent performances suggest he is close to his best and close to get his head in front again.

During the 18/19 season the jockey & trainer combo of Hardie & Brittain has produced a positive ROI and a 50% place rate. Hardie rode this lad in his last starts already, which is another positive to see him keeping the ride.

Selection:
10pts win – Traveller @ 8/1 PP

…….

7.15 Newcastle: Class 5 , 5 furlongs

Quite a tight contest with most in it to win it but hardly anyone appears to be well handicapped. That makes the chance of Miracle Works an interesting one, dropping to the minimum trip for the first time while also dropping to a career lowest handicap mark.

Still a maiden, this big grey gelding has strong form to match anyone in this field to his name thanks to his handicap debut from July last year that came in a hot class 5 handicap over 6f. He went close to win that race – form that has worked out rather well.

Softish conditions on turf weren’t to his liking subsequently; after a break he returned at Kempton over 7f last months but clearly wasn’t in it to win it.

This is only his third handicap start, a drop to 5f may suit and of a 70 mark he looks one of the few here potentially capable of bettering that in the right circumstances.

Miracle Works has an engagement three days later over 6f. If the minimum trip proves to sharp, which it might – though sire stats are encouraging – he’ll certainly be of a lot of interest then once again.

Selection:
10pts win – Miracle Works @ 12/1 MB

The Good, Bad & Ugly – Week #1:2019

It’s a new year – the time for a New Year’s Resolution: be more active on the blog again! Plain and simple.

The last year in particular I’ve focused on the betting side neglecting the other rather important side of why I initially started this blog a good eight years ago: to write about all the things I love about horse racing – the sport, the horses, the global aspect of the game!

So, with the new year still fresh, I gonna try to be a bit more (pro-) active: a few more insightful (hopefully!) columns, opinion pieces, educational stuff and so on – starting with the introduction of a new weekly column right here:

The Good, Bad & Ugly – a short review of all the good and not so good things in racing that caught my eye and lit up my emotions during the past week. Let’s get started with Week #1:2019!

good.pngThe Good:

Do It Again – he did it again, indeed! This imperious looking son of the great Twice Over and reigning Durban July champion, has followed up on his biggest triumph with another massive success.

On Saturday he was one of nine starters in South Africa’s premier 1 mile race, the Queen’s Plate, that took place at Kenilworth racecourse.

The powerful gelding overcame a slow pace and produced another stunning performance to get his head in front when it mattered most:


The Candy Man
– What a lovely name for a horse, isn’t it? The performance of this lad in a Handicap on Sunday at Australia’s Sunshine Coast was certainly as sweet as candy!

The grey missed the start completely, still standing in the gates while the others flew out to race. He was trailing the field by half a dozen lengths for half the race, until making a swift move to the rear of the field as the pace slowed. He then unleashed a devastating turn of foot in the home straight – WOW!

Watch a replay of this unreal performance here.

First winner of 2019 – It was the perfect start: first bet, first winner! Paparazzi strolled home on Wednesday in a Newcastle handicap to win as easy as he liked, despite a 12/1 price tag.

It’s those magic moments when the picture you painted in your mind beforehand comes to fruition in reality, as I concluded in the preview:

“This is the poorest opposition Paparazzi will encounter for quite some time. If a slow start doesn’t see him falling back too far too early he should run a huge race today.”

bad2The Bad:

Racing’s Staff Crisis – Becomes one of the biggest threats to the industry. It was reported over the weekend that there’s an estimated shortfall of around 1,000 staff in the UK. Brexit fears enhance the feeling of uncertainty in relation to employing foreign staff to offset the shortfall in yards.

Often long hours, not enough off-days and low pay – those are the main concerns brought forward. Understandably so: the stable staff is preparing the horses day in day out, hence they play a pivotal role in the industry.

If they can’t be retained in numbers enough to keep the show going, plus if the jobs aren’t attractive enough for new people to join, then the game is in incredible danger. Falling prize-money surely isn’t helping, particularly for smaller yards it adds even more pressure.

A viscous cycle: working long hours, physical work, often starting very early in the morning, ordinary pay at best – that isn’t attractive to a lot of young people these days.

Stable staff does it for the love of horses. Without this love and duty of care for the welfare of our equine athletes these wonderful people show any given day, horse racing would be long gone.

Add to this the rather low pay at times where everything else becomes more expensive and the possibility of Brexit which could make it harder for yards to employ foreign staff – there you have an existential crisis.

It was surprising to see it so blatantly called out by the biggest names in the sport over the weekend. Nicky Henderson commented that the threat is no longer only a threat but  it “has already become a reality”.

Now, not everything is black and white. Not all staff are impacted by issues the same way. Plenty love their job, enjoy their day to day doing, are paid well enough and feel treated fairly.

Not all, though, and there is, no doubt, a balanced and fair discussion needed right now – a solution oriented one that addresses issues. Because the issue of staff shortage is at the heart of the game.

badThe Ugly:

 A Bad Loss – “I’m excited as heck because I feel Blue Harmony could be supremely well handicapped in this race!”

I got that spectacularly wrong. Blue Harmony finished nearly last, never went a yard. There was zero confidence in the market either. The filly was obviously not as well in as I felt she is.

Well, that’s racing. Can happen. It was a 16/1 shot. But it hurts. Particularly if you go and shout it so loud as I did in my preview.

Irish racing video archive – Gone. Since Racing TV has taken over the rights to show Irish racing, the complete video archive of all races prior to 1st January 2019 are no longer accessible – neither on ATR, the Racing Post- and Sportinglife website and certainly not on the RTV site.

You couldn’t make it up, could you? They had months and months time to prepare for this transition. But they didn’t seem to think about this rather important piece – or shall we say didn’t care – which shows a complete disregard for the racing public.

Please also read my latest opinion piece on the matter: Racing’s Problems bigger than ATR vs RTV

Got your own ideas of what was good or not so good in the the last week? Want to share feedback? Let me know in the comments!