Tag Archives: 2022

All-Weather Eyecatchers #5

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Lord Paramount
20/12/22 – 3.55 Southwell:

Moved across from wide draw enthusiastically, probably wasted too much energy fighting for his head early on. Tracked pace four lengths off, going well entering home straight. Looked awkward, then hanging badly from 2 furlongs out. Empty in closing stages.

Won well lto over 7f in Novice company. Would be interesting down in trip, too. Dam did her best over minimum trip. He ran to a 74 speed rating in second career start. Hence opening mark could underestimate him.

Tricky sort. Shown tendency to hang. Still lightly raced and well backed on every occasion. Could be a good deal better than OR 70 if he can get his act together.

Race Replay

The Cola Kid
20/12/22 – 4.30 Southwell:

Moved forward to grab the lead, did a lot in the first three furlongs. Unable to quicken in the home straight, still a solid run, in line with last two performances.

Clearly best over 6 furlongs. Was not expected the last number of times. Comes down to excellent mark. Ran to higher speed ratings last year, and looks capable if on a going day, ideally 6f with a good draw.

Race Replay

20/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Off to a quick start, led early on, then as part of duo many lengths ahead of field before fading very badly.

Some return to form, as the enthusiasm for racing is still there. One that’s hard to catch. Comes down to solid mark again. Ran 3x times to speed ratings 54+ last year.

Ran okay nto, but did too much too soon after not starting the sharpest. Ideally would like to see a couple pounds lower in the mark (<62) before getting involved over 6f .

Race Replay

Desert Dream
21/12/22 – 6.30 Wolverhampton:

Was going well for the entire race toward the inside rail, possibly coming with a winning move before badly short of room over 1f out. Got going again. Excellent run.

Consistent 9yo, in the grip of the handicapper right now; still can win, but best speed rating in last half year was only 50. Want to see him down to this handicap mark, too, before getting involved, then over 7 furlongs.

Race Replay

Healing Power
22/12/22 – 11.50 Lingfield:

Lead from the front, albeit pestered by rival throughout. Set good, strong pace early on. Still leading at final furlong, before headed over half a furlong from home. Still managed to hold on for third. Should be strong form, ran to 59 speed rating.

Lenient handicapper dropped him another 2lb. Will be really competitive in similar race over 7f off. Ran tp 64 and 65 speed rating within last half year over this C&D.

Race Replay

O Twenty Boy
22/12/22 – 5.00 Southwell:

Bit outpaced at back of the field on stands’ side from over 2f out. Made nice progress in the final furlong under easy hands and heels, though.

Probably better over 6f, especially now as an 8yo. Ran well a number of times this year, including 4 performances achieving speed ratings of 60+.

Already down to a mark of 60. any further reduction will be interesting, in particular once he goes up in trip again.

Race Replay

Eagle Eyed Freddie
22/12/22 – 6.30 Southwell:

Uncontested lead by a couple of lengths. Set blistering pace, especially in the middle part. Still a few lengths ahead over 1 furlong out but tired rapidly. Huge run, speed rating 58.

Consistent front-runner. NTO performance not so good, should help to get some respite from the handicapper. Anything below OR 55 will be intriguing over a mile with a good draw and not much competition for the lead. A drop to 7f would be incredibly intriguing, too.

Race Replay

22/12/22 – 7.00 Southwell:

Tracked pace, travelled much the strongest over 2 furlongs out but found little once again. Same story as lto when he travelled like a winner just to fade badly.

Knocked on the door multiple times but it’s obvious he doesn’t truly stays a mile. Pedigree points toward 6 furlongs, in fact. Will only back him if he drops to 7 furlongs. Then should be a cracking chance, ideally with a good draw. He’s not the sharpest starter.

Ran four times to 50+ speed ratings in the last twelve months, to 51 lto; on a mark of 51 right now, huge chance in the right race.

Race Replay

27/12/22 – 4.30 Wolverhampton:

Restrained at the back of the field travelling seriously well. Stuck in traffic and no chance until late when finishing third under hands and heels.

NTO run over 6f can be ignored as well. Wide draw, travelling on the outside keenly and big drifter on the day. Clearly better than this, and more likely in good nick as well as on a good mark. ideally drops down to 5f as best performances came over minimum trip.

Ran three times to speed ratings 60+ on turf; yet to replicate on the All-Weather. But this performance suggests he’s able to win if the handbrake is off. Has shown ability to move forward in the past as well.

Race Replay

Shark Two One
28/12/22 – 6.25 Newcastle:

Pushing pace on far side, they went a serious pace. Was still right there at the final furlong marker before getting desperately tired. Managed to hold on for 4th place.

Was capable to finish fine runner-up off 80 and running to a 73 speed rating last April. Never been in the same form again, but this was a return to some form, racing off a career lowest mark. Deserves another chance over 6f to see whether he can follow-up.

Race Replay

Billy Dylan
30/12/22 – 5.00 Wolverhampton:

Moved quickly forward and led as part of duo setting good pace. Still ahead as they turned for home before tiring quite badly. Strong race with winner went back-to-back and runner-up in form.

Off small break. Could be bang on next time out, possibly another reduction in his mark. Ideally drops down into 0-50; ran largely in better races this year.

Consistent front-runner over this course and distance. With lower mark and possibly easier race should have every opportunity to go close soon.

Race Replay

Big Bard
31/12/22 – 3.15 Lingfield:

Make good use of #1 gate and moved forward, led the field going solid clip, seemingly really enjoying himself for majority of the race. Tired from 1.5f out, though.

Ran to speed ratings 59 and 60 since September, although on turf, but career best AW SR is 59. Will be on a pretty fair mark soon. Ideally want to see him drop below 60 to become really interested.

He was beaten only by a neck off 60 running to 60 speed rating at Windsor in October with first time headgear (CP); I believe he’s as good on the All-Weather; watch out for application of blinkers potentially and/or drop into 0-60.

Race Replay

Fine Wine
01/01/2023 – 4.56 Southwell:

Quickly out of the gates and led as part of trio by a number of lengths, going a seriously hard pace. Tired badly from over a furlong out and hung to his left, but did best of front-runners holding on for 2nd.

Huge run. Went back to back prior. High mark now, may find it tough in Handicaps. More interesting on Stakes races over minimum trip. kept improving with age and this run confirms he’s as good as his current rating.

Race Replay

Modular Magic
01/01/2023 – 5.26 Southwell:

Led the field, although closely followed. Challenged from two furlongs out, eventually got behind, but stuck to it impressively in the closing stages.

Off a small break, had to carry big weight down in class. Hot race for class 5, though. Should find easier opportunities. On a good mark judged on turf performances in 2022.

Race Replay

Hit Mac
02/01/2023 – 1.53 Lingfield:

Travelled in rear on the outside off the rail, possibly wider than ideal. Moved toward the inside over 2 furlongs out, short of room and momentum stopped around the home bend. Possibly cost him the race.

Unlucky sort. Ran really well but found trouble multiple times over the last weeks. Ran consistently strong speed ratings in line with his mark of 55, 58 and 59.

Put up 2lb in the meantime. Can race more forward than here. Think he is still a win ahead with a clear run, ideally over 6 furlongs.

Race Replay

Smooth Red
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

Got significantly outpaced from halfway on, lost ground, before running on rather well in the final furlong.

Handicap debut off a break and freshly gelded, showed nothing in three starts prior. Should improve, especially up in trip. Looks to be crying out for a return to 6 furlongs. Could be interesting then.

Race Replay

Northern Chancer
02/01/2023 – 5.40 Newcastle:

A tiny step slow off the gate, before quickly moving forward against stands’ side. Led and was fastest over first half of the race but appeared to be hanging throughout. Faded badly in the last two furlongs.

Comeback run and Handicap debut. On a basement mark. Showed enough to suggest he can win a poor race. Family tends to do well on All-Weather. Sire has tremendous record over 5f at Newcastle in Handicaps.

May need to step up tp 6f to be seen to best effect. Headgear possibly needed. Wouldn’t rule out minimum trip with HG applied.

Race Replay

Thomas Equinas
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Slowly away, quickly pushed forward to bulldoze his way to the front after one furlong. Set what looked a hot pace, and resemble more like an extended 5 furlong sprint, as nobody wanted to really go ahead until he grabbed the lead.

Emptied quickly entering the home straight when put under pressure by dedicated 5f sprinter from 3 furlongs out. Winner eventually came from well off the pace.

Still a maiden after 9 runs, but showed plenty of promise, especially two runs back over this CD when he ran off 57 to speed rating 54. Should get bit more help from handicapper now. Usually moves forward.

Race Replay

Jupiter Express
03/01/23 – 2.00 Chelmsford:

Was quickly out of the gate and briefly led, before rivals took over. Keen in the first half of the race. Didn’t have the pace to match winner and third but ran on well for a 59 speed rating n only his second start on the sand.

Ran an interesting race lto over 5f on debut for the new yard also, then at Wolverhampton after a break. Is still a maiden but knocked on the door a few times and achieved some solid speed ratings.

Want to see him drop below a mark of 60 and race over 6f. Not interested in next weeks 7f entry. Will likely pull too hard.

Race Replay

Another Angel
04/01/23 – 2.50 Newcastle:

Good, quick start, led the field by a couple of lengths setting a seemingly hot pace. Travelled well but eventually caught, headed and quickly beaten over one furlong out.

Doesn’t truly stay beyond the minimum trip (0/13 over 6f). Can be upgraded here and ran better than bare form lto as well. Not getting younger but still capable of running well. Especially interesting down to 5f with any additional help from the handicapper.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
04/01/23 – 3.20 Newcastle:

Travelled smoothly tracking the pace. In a good position over 2 furlongs out, but also in a pocket with no way to really get out. Jockey kept the gelding restraint, pulling back to the rear of the field approaching the final furlong in order to find space. Finished strongly, under hands and heels.

Familiar story. Mostly a similar story to a myriad of previous runs. Obviously ready to win, but needs to have absolutely everything to go right.

Won’t back him on the All-Weather unless he finds a way to drop below a mark of 50. He should be too well handicapped to lose, unless he run backwards. Otherwise wait until turf season, with better opportunities more suitable to his style.

Race Replay

Mogok Valley
04/01/23 – 7.00 Kempton:

Good start, travelled nicely amongst group of horses up with the pace. had to switch 2f out, and again over 1f out in order for clear run, looked bit disorganised, too, lost momentum. Ran on really well.

Handicap debut. Strong follow-up performance from recent comeback over 5f last month. Looks on fair mark but can improve for step up to 7f. Sire stamina index of 9.4, dam, although a sprinter during her racing career, produced 1m 5f winner already.

The Nail Gunner
05/01/23 – 2.15 Wolverhampton:

Grabbed the lead, set solid pace. Was up there for a long time and still fought gamely even after headed in the final furlong. This is strong form, winner and 3rd came from off the pace, and were on going days.

7f is too far, especially off current mark. Is rated right to his best. Ran 64 speed rating over 6f in July. Will be competitive, nonetheless, particularly with a good draw and if not much pace to compete against.

I want him down to 6f again and dropping by a couple of pounds. May need a few runs to get there.

Race Replay

Friends Together
06/01/23 – 6.15 Southwell:

Brilliant start, super quick out of the gates and showed solid early speed, settled well tracking the pace and kicked nicely in the home straight. Tired late.

Was most likely not run on merit in all starts prior. Clearly capable off current mark. April foal with a bit of scope, especially going up to a mile interesting.

Race Replay

Praise Of Shadow
06/01/23 – 8.15 Southwell:

Caught three deep on the outside, close up with the pace from his wide draw. Travelled well into home straight, kept fighting, but slightly hampered in tight race for gaps, before eased; ran home easily.

Put up strong speed rating when winning over CD lto. In line with similar speed ratings in when running really well in defeat. Clearly in superb form.

Possibly a bit too high in the ratings to consider really well handicapped. Drop a couple of pounds and 6f with race to dominate will see him have a big chance once again, though.

Race Replay

07/01/23 – 12.35 Lingfield:

Settled in rear, always travelling wide. Switched inside for challenge in the home straight. Ran on nicely, slightly short of room 1f out before going again.

Wasn’t expected in three runs. Should get a low opening mark. Looks one I am only interested if stepping up to 10f. On pedigree a fair possibly, and could unlock improvement. I liked the way she finished and responded late to the jockeys urgings.

Race Replay

Wake Up Harry
07/01/23 – 1.10 Lingfield:

Restrained, travelling smoothly well off the pace. Still going well when turning for home wider than ideal, before unleashing a fine challenge in the home straight. Not quite the speed to get to leaders and came from too far back.

Hasn’t been racing over the right trip the last two runs. Can forgive comeback run after long break too. Clear sign of hitting some form again here, will be interesting if up to a mile.

I’d also be seriously keen to see him up to 10 furlongs again. The two previous tries can be forgiven for various reasons. If he’s turned out in the not too distinct future over 1m-10f he should be a huge runner.

Race Replay

Sun King
07/01/23 – 8.00 Kempton:

Pushed after the start to get into position, travelled a few lengths off pace tracking it throughout, still going okay turning for home, bit flat footed as pace suddenly increased over 2f out; switched inside and ran on well, not knocked about.

Comeback run since Royal Ascot in June, in the meantime gelded and sold out of AOB for GBP120k and now trained in the UK.

Still open to improvement. Well bred and full-brother to some smart mares. Took him a few start to get off the mark. But some strong performances in defeat.

Second in a maiden behind subsequent Futurity runner-up Sissoko. Caught eye at Royal Ascot in hot Golden Gates Stakes when finishing well from the rear of the field over 10 furlongs. Races off the same mark currently. Will improve for the run. A strongly run mile needed, or else a step up to 10 furlongs.

Race Replay

Betting Review 2022

376.30 points profit, 35 winners and 19% ROI. It was an eventful year with plenty of lessons learned.

2022 was a challenge on many fronts, “on and off the pitch”, so to speak. On the pitch it clearly was an ever dramatic up and down. From the absolute highs of backing the longshot winner in the Melbourne Cup to the absolute lows of backing 31 consecutive losers.

At times I struggled, stumbled and lost confidence in the process that has been tried and trusted for nearly a decade now. Ultimately, though, 2022 proved to be another profitable year.

The process is alive and kicking, still working well enough to produce winners and a green P&L sheet – at the end of the day for a sixth consecutive profitable betting year.

Raw numbers

  • 376.30pts annual profit
  • 19.29% Return of Investment
  • 201 Selections
  • 35 winners
  • 17.41% Strike Rate
  • 8/1 average odds

Selections on turf produced the majority of the annual profit with 310pts; about 141pts from UK selections alone. Irish selections were also profitable this year with about 49pts profit.

The All-Weather shows a 59pts loss. I didn’t back a winner on the sand until late October, in fact. A clear upswing since then, with 156pts profit in the last two months of the year.

As always, outside of UKI things look positive: 13 international bets produced 160pts profit.

On the flat the majority of this years profit came in class 5 and class 6 Handicaps. All but two winners came in races below a mile. No surprise, as that is my main focus, both in terms of class and distances.

Selections in races over the 7 furlongs trip yielded the highest return: 285pts profit from 38 selections. Closely followed by the minimum trip that yielded 237pts profit for seven winners from 25 bets.

In contrast 6 furlongs produced a whopping 147pts loss from 36 selections. 37 selections over the mile trip resulted in 95pts loss. Middle to longer distances were a loss-making endeavour, too.

I’m not a jumps man betting wise: 11 selections, 95pts profit, largely due to a fine Cheltenham festival with 5/8 successful bets.

Ascot has been a kind track to me this year, both in terms of producing winners as well as eye catchers that went on to win subsequently.

Newcastle (0/10) and Doncaster (0/7) have been a disaster, on the other hand. Kempton (1/12) is a track I struggled, as well; I am not sure whether I ever backed a winner at Carlisle. Certainly not in 2022.

As for the selection process (flat only): eye catchers contributed 181 pts (222pts in Class 5/6, but minus 86pts all other Handicaps), traditional form analysis added 70pts to the annual profit, the rest made up by a bunch of system bets.

A complete overview of all selections and annual data going back to 2017 can be found here if anyone is keen to dig deeper.

Key Learnings

While 2022 was a solid year, it didn’t feel like a good year at all. It could have been – perhaps should have been – a much better year than it has been, for various reasons. There are 3 key learnings I hope to transfer into 2023.

Trust The Process

Be consistent and trust what’s working well – yes, reflect and don’t shy away from change if required, but the core of the process has remained the same for nearly decade and continues to work well.

Bet the process, not the outcome….

It’s the one thing you hear every profitable punter say. because it’s true. I need to remind myself of this mantra, once in a while, especially in times when variance shows its mean face.

My process works. It’s profitable. It takes a lot of effort. But it rewards the work and effort plenty fold. It does… if I do trust it, though; even during lean times. Be consistent about the approach to finding bets (i.e. the process) and good things will happen…. eventually.

Be Patient

An extension of consistency and trusting the process. It requires patience. There are no shortcuts.

Patience also means picking and choosing your fights. In the summer, when up to 20 eyecatchers could run in a single day, the fear of missing out can led to a rushed decision-making process. This will almost certainly lead to poor bets.

There’s simply too much racing, it can be overwhelming. Instead of attempting the impossible, be selective and focus on the races that play to the strengths of the process. Be patient, it’s the long term that matters. If “one gets away”, so be it. Tomorrow is another day.

Variance is your Friend

I endured some brutal losing runs this year: 31 consecutive losers- and only one winner of 48 bets between July and September. Only one short-priced winner of 27 bets between April and May.

Tough times. And inevitable. Especially given the average odds of my bets – around 8/1.

Sequences of losing bets are nothing out of ordinary; in fact they are to be expected and statistically inevitable. It’s variance. As simple and brutal as it is.

Knowing this doesn’t make it easier to endure. I was wondering during those times whether I “lost it”.

On the other hand, a simple look back to previous years would have shown that losing runs happened every year and the up- and downswings can be quite violent, as the 2017-2022 P&L graph presented earlier demonstrates pretty well.

Where things go down they have to go up again. What followed the most horrible months of my “betting career” was a November for the ages: the most profitable single month in over four years.

Remember, it’s a never ending ultra-marathon – as long as the P&L sheet is green in the long run it doesn’t matter what happens in the short-term, as long as value is still present in each and every price taken.

2022 Favourite Winners

I backed 35 winners in 2022. Every single one is important, no matter the class of the race. But some mean more than others, if only on an emotional level. Here’s my 3 favourite winners in 2022.

Gold Trip: Melbourne Cup

Backing the 21/1 winner in my favourite international race, is the standout moment in 2022.

Gold Trip’s victory came at the right time as he kicked off a golden November. Prior to this fateful first November day, I backed a meagerly two winners from the last 53 selections. All forgotten, when you land the big one.

State Of Rest: Prince of Wales’s Stakes

A gutsy, honest colt, trained by Joseph O’Brien, State Of Rest got a peach of a ride by Shane Crosse at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s, beating odds-on favourite Bay Bridge.

This win came at the right time, after backing only a single winner in the last 26 selections. I got 8.4 on the exchanges, which looks stellar value in hindsight.

Sammarco: German Derby

Far from the biggest winner of the year, but certainly one of my favourites. I was incredibly sweet on the son of Camelot, as he caught the eye in serious fashion on his previous two career starts and I felt he could even develop into an Arc contender.

While his season ended somewhat in an anti-climax, his German Derby triumph was as dramatic as brilliant, given the way the race developed. This winner was one of 9 in a glorious July.


Finally, thank you to all readers, be it here or on Twitter, and especially those that have engaged so eagerly. 

It makes it twice as enjoyable if you can share the passion for the sport with other people, and even more so if others can derive value from this site as well. 

On to a wonderful and hopefully profitable 2023.

Saturday Selections: 31st December 2022

Last day of the soon to be old year. One final chance to find a winner and end an eventual, yet ultimately successful and profitable year on a positive note.

A proper review of the year with stats and key learnings will follow in the coming days – for now, here’s one final selection in the year that is and then was 2022.


2.40 Lingfield: Class 3 Handicap, 1m

Wadacre Grace looks a standout chance in this field, as she’s one of few who’s more than happy to move forward. Simply from a pace scenario she may enjoy the perfect race, but also from a handicapping perspective she makes plenty of appeal.

That may surprise, given I said after backing her last time out, that back then she was beaten fair and square in second place and I was wondering whether I had been too optimistic about the amount of pounds she could be ahead of the handicapper.

However, after analysing the recent Southwell race in more detail, I can only conclude that the initial assessment, that lead to the bet, still holds up strongly today; that is: over a mile against her own sex she is probably well handicapped off a 69 mark, especially with little competition for the lead.

The Southwell performance was strong. From her wider than ideal draw she made swift progress, travelling wide, to grab the lead and head for home going strongly approaching the home straight.

She only went down late in the final furlong, beaten by a filly who tracked the pace in third place throughout. Wadacre Grace, though, albeit slowing markedly from two furlongs out, still slowed the least bar the winner.

The handicapper has been surprisingly lenient, allowing her to race off the same 69 mark. It means she goes off bottom weight here, in a race that looks stronger on paper than last time out, but in reality contains very few rivals that appear anywhere close to be considered well handicapped.

In saying that, all the positive arguments brought forward the last time, remain valid today:

She caught the eye significantly the last two times prior to the Southwell run, in that light the lto performance is highly credible. It also means the 3-year-old filly showed a strong level of form in five of her six runs since successfully returning from a 5 months long break in September.

She kicked it all off with victory on handicap debut at Newcastle over 7 furlongs, despite showing some inexperience, she finished incredibly strongly to get up on the line. It’s been her trademark ever since to find plenty under pressure in the closing stages (with the exception of a subsequent poor run, which she has left behind the next three runs, though).

I love that attitude, less so the way she can start her races. She can be sluggish out of the gate, and quite keen in the early stages of the race. I reckon that cost her victory at Chelmsford, when less pronounced but clearly played a part why she ‘only managed’ third place.

She completely missed the break the next time at Kempton. She benefited from a slow early pace to quickly get back to the field but nonetheless had to spend significantly more energy than everyone else and found herself in the worst position possible, too. She finished like a train, eventually.

She had a better – if not ideal – start the next time She went forward to join the leader pushing a good pace, before dropping into second. Once again, when headed, she found plenty under pressure, especially staying on strongly in the final furlong for 2nd place. That was especially impressive after pushing the pace to finish so well. 

She has only ran to a 64 speed rating to date, although that came in her Newcastle victory in September. I still feel she is better than her current mark, in any case. She remains open for improvement on her tenth career run – as long as she doesn’t mess up at the start.

10pts win – Wadacre Grace @ 9/2

Wednesday Selections: 28th December 2022

4.55 Newcastle: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Bin Hayyan was a massive eye-catcher when last seen back in November, one few may have missed. It’s a question whether you have the trust that today is the day connections are serious about winning or not.

The early prices are probably more driven by this recent impressive run than anything else. Market moves during the day will tell us what to expect in this rather open and intriguing contest, in any case.

As for Bin Hayyan, he probably showed more to the handicapper than perhaps he should have, in an ideal world, when finishing incredibly strongly last time out. But it’s the reason I am clearly prepared to back at the prices on offer, in the hope he will run on merit.

Back then over the same course and distance he was restrained in rear, which was a disadvantage as the field crawled for the first half of the race. He made eye-catching progress from three furlongs out, travelled seriously strongly, but couldn’t get a clear run until approaching the final furlong. As he found daylight he finished by far the strongest.

He was a big price on the day (SP 25/1), and unusual race tactics were deployed. He was seen to best effect when more prominently ridden in the past.

He is almost certainly better than his current Official Rating of 69. He ran to a 71 speed rating on turf this summer, and has clearly proven his suitability to an All-Weather surface when last seen.

I also would argue his comeback run prior, off a small break, at Kempton, over a mile on his first attempt racing on sand, can be upgraded given the way he was ridden that day, over a trip possibly that stretches his stamina.

This smaller field of eight horses, with a modest pace expected, could suit Bin Hayyan really well, if he can settle closer to the pace. He is drawn close to the most likely pace setter, so should get a lead into the finish, And he has shown to be able to quicken nicely.

10pts win – Bin Hayyan @ 7/2

Thursday Selections: 22nd December 2022

I am prepared to give Havana Goldrush another chance, despite a major disappointment only a couple of days at Kempton.

It was an odd race on Monday. Certainly the winner was too well handicapped as the handbrake came off. But that had nothing to do with the poor showing of Havana Goldrush, who finished a long way beaten, in no relation to his excellent recent performances.

One of the possible reasons was the way the race developed from his wider than ideal draw in the early stages of the race. The gelding raced ide, not finding cover, and using valuable energy. He tends to be a tricky sort, so no surprise to see that it was game over before the race even really began. In any case, the performance was too bad to be true.

Hence I remain interested in Havana Goldrush once again. He was a massive eyecatcher on his penultimate run – he confirmed his excellent form, as I felt the two preceding runs deserved to be upgraded for various reasons, as well.

In the October race at Kempton, then over 7 furlongs, he had to overcome the widest draw, was bumped by a rival as the gates opened, was pushed to the outside as a consequence, and had to regain momentum. He found his stride swiftly, and then travelled strongly in the middle of the field.

Seemingly going best in the home straight, when looming large 2 furlongs from home, he failed to put the race to bed, apparently hanging in the closing stages and possibly paying for the trouble at the beginning of the race.

As touched on, his two runs prior were noteworthy as well: a strong 3rd place in September at Chelmsford over a mile, when he attempted to make all, and possibly was doing too much too soon. A few weeks earlier he finished third over the same CD, when badly hampered at crucial times of the race.

Those performances indicated Havana Goldrush is seemingly holding his form quite well, and is ready to strike, when he gets a clear run…. with the caveat that Mondays run puts a big question mark behind it all.

He’ll have assistance of a solid 5lb claiming apprentice once again. Draw and pace chart look favourable, in a sense he shouldn’t need to waste loads of energy to slot in a couple of lengths behind the leader.

10pts win – Havana Goldrush @ 9.5/1

Monday Selections: 19th December 2022

Before talking about more mundane things, such as a 0-70 Handicap at Kempton, I must mention the sublime: Charles Dickens!

South Africa has a new superstar – perhaps the most exciting colt for a long time, indeed. When someone like Mike de Kock says this, you must take note:

 “….the best I’ve seen since our own Horse Chestnut won the Guineas 23 years ago”

I’ve been following the progress of this son of Trippi for a while, and certainly felt ever since his Grade 3 Cape Classic victory he could be something special.

Of course, you hope, but you never can be totally sure whether such bonkers performances are real or simply down to some freak conditions on the day. Well, Charles Dickens followed up in similar style, before going into the Grade 1 Cape Guineas as the heavy odds-on favourite on Saturday.

He delivered in the most incredible way possible, in a strong renewal of the Cape Guineas, left his rivals standing still as he changed gear over two furlongs from home. You won’t see many easier winners in a Grade 1.

Spectacular, sublime, unreal, brilliant, outrageous… take your pick. I struggle to find actual words to properly describe this performance!


2.50 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

This is a rather competitive race for a modest Monday card at Kempton. You can make more or less solid cases for probably half the field. The pace scenario is certainly intriguing. Hard to call what’s going to happen.

Favourite Brains is handicapped to win, no doubt: the handbrake was off last time out, when he wasn’t quite the luckiest, though; same mark today, 9lb lower than his last winning mark and a solid 3lb claimer on board.

Obvious chances, however, quite a short price, one I wouldn’t want to trust with my money in a hot race as this, I must say.

There is solid opposition in Covert Mission, who may be a touch too high in the ratings now, but he loves this course and distance and has the form in the book to go close.

Buick on board of Exciting News, on her All-Weather Handicap debut. She will enjoy this additional furlong today and is dangerous off her rating, but ultimately difficult to gauge.

Lost In Time caught the eye two races back – if this is a muddling affair he’s not out of it; although I prefer to see him over 7 furlongs.

No question, though, the one I am really interested in from a betting point of view is Havana Goldrush. A massive eyecatcher when last seen, he confirmed his excellent form, as I felt the two preceding runs deserved to be upgraded for various reasons.

Last time out at Kempton, then over 7 furlongs, he had to overcome the widest draw, was bumped by a rival as the gates opened, was pushed to the outside as a consequence, and had to regain momentum. He found his stride swiftly, and then travelled strongly in the middle of the field.

Seemingly going best in the home straight, when looming large 2 furlongs from home, he failed to put the race to bed, apparently hanging in the closing stages and possibly paying for the trouble at the beginning of the race.

As touched on, his two runs prior to this most recent October race were noteworthy as well: a strong 3rd place in September at Chelmsford over a mile, when he attempted to make all, and possibly was doing too much too soon. A few weeks earlier he finished third over the same CD, when badly hampered at crucial times of the race.

Those performances indicate Havana Goldrush is holding his form quite well, and is ready to strike, when he gets a clear run.

It’s a slightly easier race today, and get the assistance of apprentice Taylor Fisher, who’s value for his 5lb claim. The downside is a wider than ideal draw, although perhaps less of an issue with only seven other rivals in the race.

Havana Goldrush tends to hang in finishes, he’s clearly a tricky sort. Nonetheless, I feel, even in this competitive Handicap, if he gets a clear run, he’s going to be difficult to beat today.

10pts win – Havana Goldrush @5/1

All-Weather Eyecatchers #4

A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing on the All-Weather.

Aberama Gold
03/12/22 – 6.20 Wolverhampton:

Soon moved forward, took lead, before heading for home as part of leading duo; tried to kick, fought gamely, before tiering inside the finial furlong.

This should be strong form, as it was a good field with some horses in decent form. He ran right up to his current rating. Has been dropped 2lb right after this. Won off 85 on turf this year.

Clearly in fine form as evidence by subsequent fine 3rd place performance at Lingfield. I want to see a drop below a mark of 85. A Handicap over 6 furlongs around Chelmsford with a good draw would be a dream scenario.

Race Replay

He’s So Brazen
05/12/22 – 6.20 Wolverhampton:

Restrained early on, seriously keen, as he was throughout, especially between 5 to 4 furlongs out. Loomed large with seemingly big challenge entering home straight. High head-carriage, looked awkward, wandering, and ran into trouble over one furlong out.

Probably doesn’t get the trip, either. He looks desperate for a drop in trip, and looks ripe to strike then. I won’t back him beyond 7 furlongs, though.

Comes from a pretty poor family. Wouldn’t want to give him many chances. Attitude needs to be monitored too.

Race Replay

05/12/22 – 7.20 Wolverhampton:

Grabbed an uncontested lead, set good pace from the front, lead for home, tired badly as he was headed. Good race for this class, form can be upgraded.

Change of tactics seemed to bring out improvement. Started well this time, unlike often in the past. Dropped another 2lb in the meantime. Seems to recapture some form for a new yard.

Should be well handicapped now. Similar type race, 7 furlongs with good draw and not much pace will be ideal.

Race Replay

05/12/22 – 7.20 Wolverhampton:

Travelled in midfield for majority of the race. Eye catching progress from three furlongs out on the inside. Had momentum slightly stopped in home straight before fully in the clear. Didn’t find too much in final furlong.

Probably not at his best over 7 furlongs. Best form over 6 furlongs. Eye catching when last seen over this trip at Newcastle. Bit too high in the mark right now. Wait for drop to 6f and I would like to see him below a mark of 78. Ideally at Southwell.

He’s a tricky customer. Can find trouble, make a mess at the start and will always be up against pace bias on the All-Weather. Below 78 he’ll be quite well handicapped though, to offset these negatives.

Race Replay

Smarden Flyer
07/12/22 – 11.20 Lingfield:

Moved forward, pushed pace early in the race. Slightly impeded over 4f out, had to take a pull. Attempted challenge over 3f out on the outside, gave ground away before finishing tired, 4th.

Solid run, 2nd after small break. had a wind operation in June. Jury is out whether he is totally fine in his breathing. He hasn’t finished a race well since then, but this was a return to some form, and he was perhaps only tired in the end.

I am prepared to give him a chance off a career lowest mark next time out over 7-8f, as he has been dropped another 3lb post race. That looks potentially lenient.

Race Replay

07/12/22 – 11.20 Lingfield:

Pushed forward from widest draw to grab the lead. Put under pressure over 2f out, got quite tired in the home straight and fell away.

Ran quite well a number of times in recent weeks; in fact this year, caught the eye in early summer on turf. Struggles to get a real chance from the handicapper, but has been dropped another 2lb and is clearly competitive.

I want to see her to drop down to a mark of 50 or lower, and ideally into 0-50 against her own sex.

Race Replay

Flying Secret
07/12/22 – 1.25 Lingfield:

Not helped by #7 draw and the way race unfolded. Outpaced at the back of the field halfway through, but finished incredibly well, the strongest in the final furlong.

Caught eye a number of times. Especially at Salisbury on turf back in May, but also excellent return of half a year off at Kempton.

Likely needs the step up to 7 furlongs to be seen to best effect. Remains unexposed and open to improvement. Has shown enough to give him a chance.

Race Replay

Champagne Supanova
08/12/22 – 8.00 Chelmsford:

Held up at the back, travelled notably well into the home straight, made nice progress on the inside under an easy enough hands and heels ride.

First start since August, trip not ideal, didn’t look in this to run to his merit. Drop to 6f will see him competitive, should drop below last winning mark too.

Strong run four runs back in March over 6f at Lingfield off 63. Won last December off 59, ran to 63 speed rating. Couple of efforts in the 50’s in the meantime. Can be tricky some days, but clearly ripe to win if on a going day and the handbrake is off.

Race Replay

May Remain
09/12/22 – 12.15 Wolverhampton:

Repeat entry to the list from Eyecatchers #3 – another excellent performance, albeit once again over 7 furlongs, which is literally a furlong too far, as was evidence here once again. Led strongly from the front before hitting the wall in the home straight.

Very game, great attitude, even when beaten. Reduction in the mark on the cards now, especially after subsequent solid, but uneventful run over 7f three days later.

The handicapper should have enough reasons to ease him in the ratings. Once the drop to 6f comes he’s gonna be a strong bet.

Race Replay

Independent Beauty
09/12/22 – 8.15 Southwell

In rear on inside, travelled well enough. Incredible progress from three to final furlong against inside rail, before tiering, Strong performance in competitive race – winner won nto again.

Still a maiden, but looks to be capable to take advantage of basement mark soon. Ran much better over shorter 6f at Newcastle lto. 7f looks ideal.

Can be ridden closer to the pace. Has entry for fillies 7f handicap next week, and there certainly of interest.

Race Replay

10/12/22 – 4.50 Wolverhampton:

Moved forward to lead, set strong fractions, part of pace setting duo. Still lead approaching final furlong and only headed late, by eventual winner from off the pace.

Seriously strong piece of form. Returned from a long break and after being gelded; looks high enough in the mark on speed ratings but not impossible to find improvement, especially with wellbeing confirmed.

Quite consistent before his break, often placed and ran with credit. Front-running tactics seem to suit; so always of interest over 6f on AW.

Race Replay

10/12/22 – 4.50 Wolverhampton:

Part of the pace setting due, kept the leader honest, racing on his outside. Still right there with a furlong to go before he got tired.

Comeback run and gelded, still lightly raced, can improve after only six career starts. Some good performances, won well from front at Kempton last winter.

Things went wrong at Southwell in hot class 3 contest before his break, when beaten by progressive Tyber Flow. Can be upgraded.

Race Replay

Sergeant Tibbs
12/12/22 – 1:12 Lingfield:

Restrained at the back of the small field, well off pace turning for home, although travelled notably well. Started move before badly short of room over 1 furlong out. Had to delay, got going again to finish fastest over last two furlongs.

Was well backed, and clearly in tremendous form, as evidence by other recent performances as well. Possibly really well handicapped, too; may struggle on All-Weather due to his racing style, though.

Probably best over 6 furlongs, seems to have pace for minimum trip, and one to keep in mind for the next turf season, unless he gets any more help from the handicapper and finds the right race on the All-Weather.

Race Replay

Aurelia Gold
12/12/22 – 1.42 Lingfield:

Moved forward quickly, led early then tracked leader, off the bridle 3f out but kept going strongly before carried over by eventual winner over 1f out.

Frustrating sort, still a maiden. Second run for new yard. Ran 4x times to speed rating 52+. Down to intriguing mark. Would be really interesting down to 7 furlongs, ideally in a fillies race; I don’t think she truly stays 1 mile.

Race Replay

With Respect
14/12/22 – 12.50 Lingfield:

Bit awkward out of #1 gate, needed encouragement to move forward, did so eventually to take lead as part of a duo. Travelled well into the home straight before finishing very tired.

Second run after two years off. Intriguing comeback run at Kempton, when bumped early, and seriously keen subsequently. Smart as a juvenile on his debut running to a 90 speed rating. Issues subsequently, and long break.

Wasn’t expected last two runs. One to monitor for the right day, possibly better over 7 furlongs if allowed to stride forward.

Race Replay

Dashing To You
14/12/22 – 1:55 Lingfield:

Possibly hampered at the start (hard to see but mentioned in race commentary), certainly slowly into stride, never really travelling before turning for home; excellent progress from 3f out, finished strongly.

Unlucky last time out as well, clearly a tricky sort. Could be quite well handicapped when he can put it all together, ran 3 times to speed ratings higher than current mark. Would love to see a return to 10f.

Race Replay

John The Baptist
14/12/22 – 3:30 Kempton:

Under drive early to get into position, outpaced from 4f out, lost many positions in the home straight until he rallied incredibly strongly in the final furlong to finish 4th.

First good run since a debut win in Ireland. Probably better than current 60 rating, as the finish to this race is a clear indication, if he ever can put it all together.

Difficult sort, as evidence by headgear combination. Will need to step up to 1m to be seen to best effect, but needs to settle to have a real chance.

Race Replay

Brandy Station
15/12/22 – 2:33 Southwell:

Prominent on stands’ side, travelled well enough but increasingly outpaced halfway through the race. Stayed on strongly in the final furlong, finishing the fastest.

Strong speed rating of 58, in line with his best performances. In excellent form. Southwell 5f specialist. Always with a chance over this CD, ideally with a low draw.

May be too closely handicapped to his best current form at the moment, though. Ideally would love to see one or two lesser runs at different tracks before returning to this CD off lower mark.

Race Replay

Arlecchino’s Gift
16/12/22 – 1:25 Southwell:

Wide draw, travelled on the outside, didn’t look entirely happy there and was pushed out even wider by a rival 4f out. Hang in the home straight, finished well beaten.

Wasn’t expected, returned from small break. Won 3 times this year, twice on the All-Weather, all over 6 furlongs. Bit too high in the ratings right now. One to wait for to drop a few more pounds and watch the market.

Race Replay

Testing Faith
16/12/22 – 3.10 Southwell:

Was quickest out of the gate, but possibly didn’t quite have the pace to stay in the lead; badly hampered 7f out, race was probably over there and then. Faded badly in the home straight; entitled to, after 111 days off.

Still a maiden, but showed some promise earlier this year. Falls rapidly in his mark to a rating he could be seriously well handicapped.

His pedigree suggests a step up to 10 furlongs will be interesting. He only had one try, right before his break, and it’s fair to conclude that run is best to forgive. Can move forward. One to keep an eye on in the next weeks.

Race Replay

Friday Selections: 16th December 2022

The eyecatchers win…. but I don’t back them. It pains me that travelling for work all week didn’t leave any time to dig into racing. it meant I missed a number of winners from the current All-Weather eye-catcher list.

But if it’s not possible to analyse a race properly, I won’t have a bet. Simple as that. No bet = no money lost, which isn’t a bad thing, in any case.

Seeing the horses run well gives me solace that the work put in has been solid. Though, you never know whether that continues to be the case, of course.

I try to make up ground on Friday. Although, the selections are much bigger prices than I would have envisioned. That could be good or a bad thing….

In saying that, I still hope racing goes ahead, because even if they run badly, it means they got a run, at the very least, and the may even better handicapped the next time.


4.25 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

I am conflicted in this one as there is four possible choices and all four have reasonable claims. I’d feel ready to support in isolation. But the strongest chance could be Surprise Picture from a good draw to attack the race dropped to 7 furlongs again.

His last three runs have all been noteworthy and eye-catching but certainly not economical rides that gave the gelding not the best chance of winning.

He drops another pound after a strong 4th place last week over 8.5f at Wolverhampton. He didn’t get home, but ran to 65 speed rating, once more confirming his excellent form.

Down to 7 furlongs again, as he ran two back at Wolverhampton when arguably a bit unlucky, he ran multiple times to speed ratings 68 plus this year, as well.

There doesn’t seem to be too much proper pace to compete against he wants to, almost certainly, move forward from a solid #6 draw.

10pts win – Surprise Picture @ 13/1


5.25 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

I was keen on Saturday when Lucky Lucky Lucky had an entry over 6 furlongs at Newcastle, before the meeting was called off, and remain interested, although would have preferred to see him race over the shorter trip

But I still think he’s got an strong chance over 7 furlongs, too, in a race as poor as this, if this lad is allowed to run on merit, i.e. the handbrake is off, and he’s trained to be fit.

Granted, on the surface it requires a little bit of imagination, when checking the form of  It’s clearly there to see, though – in my eyes, at least.

For one: while not an eye-catching performance at first glance, his most recent run over 7 furlongs at Newcastle noteworthy. For the simple fact that the gelding broke well and travelled enthusiastically, with his ears pricked, up with a solid pace early on. This isn’t your typical 17-race maiden with attitude issues.

Going back to August, on turf, at Redcar, he finished a strong third. That day over 6 furlongs, he got badly hampered in the closing stages and a clear run denied. He probably wins it if he gets a clear passage. He showed a lovely attitude that day, in my view

His more recent performances were obviously really poor runs on paper. But I believe there is enough to see a horses with sufficient appetite for the game.

In any case, Lucky Lucky Lucky is down to a mark of 49 now. Dropped another 3lb since the last Newcastle run. Although I was really curious to see him over 6 furlongs, there is not too much concern that he can’t stay stay further on pedigree as a full-brother to a listed placed Dundalk mare (1m).

Speed ratings suggest he could (should) be well handicapped now. First time blinkers are tried. It may help to sharpen him up. The jockey booking is a slight concern. Alex Jary simply doesn’t ride many winners. Nonetheless, he looks solid in the saddle visually, but largely sits on horses with no hope.

It’s different here. Lucky Lucky Lucky has plenty of hope. The additional 7lb claim, which looks good value, make the 3-year-old gelding an great chance on handicapping terms.

10pts win – Lucky Lucky Lucky @ 15/1


8.15Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Sense Of Security has been in tremendous form in her last starts. Although I tend to avoid fillies and mares during the winter as all data points to them underperforming during this period on the All-Weather, this filly ran to near career best speed ratings in her last two runs.

She caught the eye during the flat campaign earlier this year, and entered my list in October when she returned from a wind operation at Kempton over 6 furlongs.

That day she was badly bumped and squeezed right after the start, was keen in the early parts of the race, possibly as a consequence. She made good progress from 3 furlongs out, kicks well in the home straight and found plenty. The winner from the front was not for catching, and well on top, though.

She followed up a fortnight ago at Chelmsford with another huge run, finishing strongly, against the pace bias.

She ran to speed ratings 57 and 58 in those two runs, which means off her 57 handicap mark she is handicapped to go seriously close. The bonus is the step up to 7 furlongs. I believe she always struggles over the shorter trip when the pace is hot.

Obviously as a maiden after 15 runs you never can be quite sure. But I firmly believe that if her wind is okay, she will really enjoy this trip

Should be handicapped to win. Probably more so over 7 furlongs. 6 furlongs isn’t impossible, because she really kicked hard here – I really rate this performance. Class could see her through an easier race over the shorter trip off a career lowest mark.

10pts win – Sense Of Security @ 6/1

Tuesday Selections: 13th December 2022

2:13: Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Ooh Is It is back over the minimum trip and has been left untouched by the handicapper after his latest eye catching front-running performance over 6 furlongs.

That day he started quickly and set the world alight in the first half of the race. No surprise to see him tire rather badly from 3f out. Nonetheless, he still held a 1 lengths advantage at the final furlong marker.

This is strong form, a good race in my view. The winner was well handicapped and caught the eye before. Ooh Is It ran to strong 71 speed rating as well – in comparison to his current mark that’s seriously intriguing, as he’s currently on a mark of 68.

The fact he ran so well over 6 furlongs, a trip I believe is too far, means he should be in excellent form right now. Clearly he’s rated to win. He ran three times to speed ratings 70+, all his best performances over 5 furlongs, nine pounds below his last winning mark from January this year.

The #3 draw here is a positive. Even though it’s a straight five, a low draw has proven favourable over this CD. The question mark is whether he’ll be drawn into a pace battle. There is plenty of it in this race.

He’s got an entry on Saturday at Lingfield over 5 furlongs again, perhaps another prime chance, in case this one doesn’t go to plan. In any case, Ooh Is It is ready to rock.

10pts win – Ooh Is It 5/1

Review: 5 To Follow 2022

At the start of 2022 flat season I followed the trend of many racing fans and compiled a personal list of Five to Follow for the new season ahead.

It’s December, and the 2022 flat season belongs to the history books – a good time a look back and check how the five horses have fared this year.

Aldous Huxley

Despite the great name and a highly promising debut on the Kempton polytrack that landed him a spot in my list, Aldous Huxley has not quite fulfilled the early promise.

A fine runner-up behind fellow Godolphin colt New London (more on him later) in a Novice event at Newmarket, followed a neck beaten 2nd place finish in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.

Despite enjoying the run of the race, Aldous Huxley wasn’t good enough to win at that level. No surprise, because he never bettered the strong speed rating achieved on debut (90) either, suggesting he wasn’t really an improving sort.

He hasn’t been seen since this run in May and was gelded in the meantime.

It remains to be seen whether he can find improvement as a gelding next year. I would certainly hope so. He was a May foal, and his dam was a late bloomer as well.

  • Final Official Rating: 101
  • Best Speed Rating: 90


The David Simmcock trained colt seriously caught the eye when he blasted home in a Newmarket maiden at the backend of the 2021 season.

Unfortunately, he was only seen twice this year. That was at Sandown in the Group 3 Classic Trial. He was a desperately unlucky runner-up behind a certain Westover.

The French Derby and later QEII were targets subsequently, but neither materialised due to injuries. A real shame as he was so impressive on his debut and clearly trained on.

He made a belated comeback on the Kempton polytrack in November where he was a disappointing third of four starters. He travelled sweetly but hang in the closing stages.

I believe he stays in training. At least that’s what the owners mentioned a few months ago. One would hope so. This talented grey deserves a chance to show his very best. And I’d be more than hopeful he’s better than this last run.

  • Final Official Rating: 108
  • Best Speed Rating: 78


He made seasonal reappearance at the place that saw him earn a spot in my 5TF list: Newmarket. A good 2nd place behind 2000 Guineas ante-post favourite Native Trail promised something for the season ahead.

The colt, trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam, subsequently finished last in the French Derby, but that was largely down to being drawn in the car park.

However, he then delivered on the big stage, when next seen, as he went wire to wire to win the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.

This remained the highlight of his season as he was soundly beaten in the Group 2 York Stakes the next- and the last time we’ve seen him this year.

  • Final Official Rating: 111
  • Best Speed Rating: 89

New London

Without a shadow of a doubt the horse that turned out the best from my 5FT list. It didn’t look like it, initially. Even though, he won at Newmarket on his season debut, a subsequent rather lackluster run in the Chester Vase saw his Derby credentials evaporate.

He dropped into Handicap company the next time, obliged duly, proving to be a pattern horse running in a Handicap. He then went on to land the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood as he stepped up in trip.

He was subsequently installed as the new favourite for the final Classic of the season: the St. Leger at Doncaster.

Going into the Leger as the 11/8 favourite, it was clearly an anti-climax when New London only managed to finish third. He had every chance in the home straight, but wasn’t quite good enough on the day. Perhaps the softish ground wasn’t quite ideal, given his very best performance came in much faster conditions than those present at Doncaster that day.

  • Final Official Rating: 111
  • Best Speed Rating: 108


Big things were expected after the Roger Varian trained colt impressed on his sole run as a juvenile. However, he got beaten by over nine lengths on what turned out to be his only start this season, when third of four in the Listed Newmarket Stakes in April.

Connections mentioned they would take their time with this “really nice prospect”. He had subsequent entries at Royal Ascot – the Hampton Court touted as the likeliest race to run in the week leading up to the Royal racing event. He was never seen again, though.

This colt by Sea The Stars was a May foal. I would hope we may see him next year as a 4-year-old. He has been gelded in October, which may be a positive sign for a campaign in 2023.

  • Final Official Rating: 101
  • Best Speed Rating: 61