Tag Archives: All-Weather

Racing is Back!

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Racing is back! At least in the UK. We here in Ireland have to wait for another week.

Although it was only sand racing, having full fields at Newcastle this afternoon was certainly welcome… compared to none at all over the last while. Plus it’s only two more days until racing on green, lush turf returns as well.

It’s gonna be a packed schedule with top class racing over the next couple of weeks also. Those Classics are coming thick and fast right, left and center. France and Germany with their Guineas races today. Others will follow soon. Exciting times!

Looking back on the first day of the flat season 2020 I have mixed feelings, nonetheless. One the plus side I’ve also got an intriguing eye-catcher for the tracker for those readers who make it to end of my ramblings.

Racingpost is Poor Value

The sport I love is back: great! The print edition of the Racingpost is back: great! Not so great: one would have thought the editors had plenty of time to think about how to improve their product for when it returns to the shelves in a bid to entice prospective customers to buy a paper that comes with a whopping price tag of €4.20.

I’m afraid there was nothing in the “Bumper Edition” of the Racingpost that inspired me to pay such a steep price for something that would end in the recycle bin only half a day later.

Racing back in the UK. Top class races in France and Germany – there was plenty to cover. Yet the paper felt thin on actual, valuable content.

An interview with Lester Piggott on his remarkable career. That’s alright – I’ve got all respect for the man and his story – though, it’s hardly anything original these days. You can find plenty of similar interviews and articles with him for free (in fact RP published some under the “PR Classics” banner only recently).

A stable tour of Richard Hannon’s. Plus the usual tipsters and some race previews. Add racecards. That’s it.

In the day of online and mobile where everything is a swipe away all the time, publishers face an uphill battle, particularly with a niche print product such as the Racingpost. If you produce a paper that in essence has not changed in two decades and offers little real incentive to buy because of a lack of original content then you’ll struggle even more so.

I really wanted to buy the Racingpost this morning. Really wanted it. But a hefty €4.20 for what you get is simply no value for money. I’m not saying there is no value. Of course there is. For some people more than for others. But is it worth the price? I don’t think so. And that’s a shame.

More Data Please

I have thoroughly enjoyed dipping my toes into Hong Kong racing over the last weeks. Doing so, what becomes blatantly obvious – now that racing returns to more familiar places – what sets their product apart from ours here.

Hong Kong racing is all about providing relevant information, a myriad on data and a level of transparency with the aim of improving customer experience. Data that is freely available and easily accessible to all punters and racing fans alike for them to analyse- and better understand what- and why certain things happen in a race.

Free replays in excellent quality with different angles to chose from. Sectional times as well as every little detail on all the horses – be it their racing weight, injury history, or track work. Heck, even rather accurate Speed maps are produced.

Given the importance of racing for Hong Kong as the HKJC is the largest taxpayer there, this makes perfect sense, of course: if you want punters to come racing and gambling you need to provide an enticing product that people can believe in due to its transparent nature.

Granted there are only two tracks in Hong Kong, a small horse population and fewer variables. That makes it a lot easier to track all these things. It’s unrealistic to copy everything Hong Kong does and bring it over to the UK or Ireland. Still, more can be done and lessons can be learned from Hong Kong if racing over here wants to appeal to new and younger generations.

People these days are much more familiar with looking at- and using data. Many of us do it for work in some form or another. Not only for work, though. In a betting environment think about sports like football, hockey, basketball and so on that offer tons of data – from simple to “advanced stats”. Often available for free, easily accessible. Quite like it’s the case in Hong Kong for their racing product.

For UK and Irish racing data is expensive to get hands on (Flatstats, Proform….) and racing media tends to speak in plain and banal language anyway, as if the general punter would be too stupid to understand anything that goes beyond the numbers associated with naked form.

Baby steps are being made, though. Sectionals and stride data start to become more readily available for certain tracks. This really provides great insights into how races are run and why horses finished a certain way. This has to become a universal thing, though. It’s 2020 not 1985.

Newcastle Eye-Catcher

Ghadbbaan – Race 1 – 7th place: One could easily overlook this well beaten 4-year-old gelding. However this was a fairly decent seasonal reappearance, given he was drawn in gate one, which can be a negative for horses who already have starting issues. So it was no surprise to Ghadbbaan walking out of the gate. Hoe was then firmly driven forward to chase the lead.

He surly did much more than ideal in those early stages of the race and tired over two furlongs out to finish side by side with the pre-race favourite. That’s not the whole story, though.

He switched yards over the winter and was gelded, after two low-key efforts as a juvenile. He didn’t fulfill the hopes connections once had when in care of Michael Stoute.

However, Ghadbbaan is quite nicely bred, although clearly looks to have a future beyond a mile. He is a full-brother to smart 103 rated Listed 1m 2f winner Sound Of Cannons out of a Listed placed- and 1m2f winning mare  and by French Derby winner Intello.

Today was only his first handicap start. A fair pipe opener. Once Ghadbbaan steps up in trip he should improve readily and be able to exploit his current 64 Official Rating.

Saturday Selections: March, 14th 2020

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Cheltenham is over. It didn’t deliver the goods on the betting front as it did in the last years. At the very least it delivered some relieve in the sense some of my selections were successful. Many more ran really well. That’s a big positive after the worst start to any betting year I ever had.

There is a bit a question “would, could, should”. But those type of thoughts rarely lead to anything good.

I got the Gold Cup spot on, though: Al Boum Photo was the one to beat and he had everything you need to go back to back. He didn’t quite have the same dream run through as last year but he had a super sharp Paul Townend in the saddle who made the right decisions in the right moment to ensure ABP endured as little trouble as possible.

He beat Santini in a brilliant finish. In third, my selection, Lostintranslation, ran a massive race. The two possible improvers were good enough to beat the rest of the field, as was my expectation before the race. But they were not quite good enough (yet?) to beat the defending champion.

After the week didn’t start too well for Paul Townend, he finished it off with a week that’ll go down in history. Champion jockey and the man who steered a horse to defend the crown in the Gold Cup. He doesn’t always get it right. But who does? Ruby and AP didn’t. What matters is that Paul Townend got it as right as it gets at the grandest of stages. That makes him a top top class jockey.

I will review Cheltenham tomorrow afternoon on Dublin City FM. Tune in if you like. Beyond that, I gonna struggle on in an attempt to get by betting back on track. Thankfully the flat is around the corner.

………..

6.00 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f

The money is pouring in for Taurean Dancer who returns from a break with a first time visor fitted and Rossa Ryan in the saddle for what is his only ride on the card.

Whether this Taurean Dancer’s optimum trip is a question mark, given his career best topspeed rating came over further. However hes form over shorter as well, having been beaten only by a neck at Kempton over a mile of a much higher rating in the past.

I imagine he’ll be ridden forward in order to set a good pace and use his undoubtedly existing stamina. As he can be keen, this should suit him well in a race that is wide open.

Selection:
10pts win – Taurean Dancer @ 11/1 MB

Friday Selections: March, 6th 2020

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6.00 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

It looks this could be the day Street Poet is finally let loose. I have been eyeing this day for a while, ever since the gelding caught the eye very much at Wolverhampton in early January.

Always travelling wide, a bit keen, yet going quite well for an awful long time, he only tiered once turning for home without ever being asked any question whatsoever – he also ran clearly over a trip way too far.

he gradually stepped down in distance ever since. Two more jobs later, here we are back over his preferred 7 furlong trip, with the mark fallen dramatically since he won back to back over this CD last summer.

This race looks wide open and is clearly for the taking. The draw isn’t totally ideal, given Street Poet wants to be rather up with the pace. That’s the risk that if he breaking cleanly he will be in trouble.

First time tongue-tie is an interesting addition as it strengthens the case that today connections mean business.

Selection:
10pts win – Street Poet @ 7/1 MB

Friday Selections: February, 14th 2020

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5.10 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Equidae has caught my in all of his last three starts. In my book he ran much better than the bare form of those races suggest. He didn’t receive hard rides in of those, while running well to the line, even if things weren’t in his favour on multiple occasions.

The two Newcastle runs over a mile a visually quite taking, although his latest run here at Southwell over the shorter 7 furlongs trip is equally compelling, as Equidae was mad keen early on, pulling loads of energy away  but still managed to finish a fair 4th.

Another couple of pounds off, he will race off 7lb less than when winning over this course and distance last May. Equidae also matched or battered his current mark on topspeed ratings multiple times.

Cheek-pieces on for the first time may help him to settle a bit better as he has the tendency to race freely.

Selection:
10pts win – Equidae @ 3.6/1 WH

………..

5.45 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3f

Earl Of Bunnacurry has probably the key piece of form with his 3rd over 1m 6f back in December – form that worked out tremendously well. The gelding made most likely too much early on and ultimately didn’t have anything left in the tank when it mattered most.

He changed yards, was largely disappointing in two starts for new connections since, particularly when send off 4/1 on stable debut.

However, back over a possibly suitable trip, at Southwell where he usually runs rather well, with two pounds off his mark and new headgear, I feel Earl Of Bunnacurry is an intriguing runner in a race where there is little to fear.

A return to that December form will see him having a massive chance to get his head in front again.

Selection:
10pts win – Earl Of Bunnacurry @ 8/1 MB

Saturday Selection: February, 1st 2020

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4.45 Kempton: Class 7 Handicap, 1 mile

Mrs Benson caught the eye on her return a eight days ago at Lingfield. Off for 141 days she had to overcome the widest draw and as a consequence travelled widest for most of the race and had to do more than most to be in a decent position turning for home, as sectionals clearly show.

Sectionals clearly show also that this was quite a good performance taking everything into account and she was for that plus the fact that this was her first run in half a year entitled to tire in the final furlong.

Dropping another pound as well as in class, with a much better draw today, she must have a massive chance if she can follow-up. That isn’t a given, as Mrs Benson is inconsistent and remains a maiden after 18 starts.

On the other hand she ran four times to 55+ tospeed ratings, including Kempton as well as twelve month ago over a mile at Lingfield, achieving a 61 TS.

Only three starts back, in summer on the flat, she was a fair third in a Salisbury handicap – the form looks rock solid – she did it of OR 53 that day and there isn’t an indication she isn’t as effective on the All-Weather as on turf. With that in mind, she could be well handicapped today.

Selection:
10pts win – Mrs Benson @ 12/1 MB

Saturday Selections: January, 25th 2020

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It’s bad. Well and truly horrible, in fact. I’m in the midst of what only can be considered my worst losing run in the last three years. Whatever I touch turns to a solid piece of shit. This January so far has been tough on many fronts – betting is certainly one of them.

My selections are rotten. They either drift and finish last or they get backed and finish down the field regardless. It’s in these times that one can easily wonder: “did I lose it?”. The touch for making good decision, that is.

I hope not. Truth is, the majority of selections I made this month I’d do again. Trust the process….. I do, but a winner would really help the battered morale.

………

6.00 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f

Even though still a maiden, Thunderoad has been knocking on the door a number of times, none more so than when last seen at Wolverhampton. Travelling always strongly, making nice progress and going much the best turning for home it was merely a matter of putting it to bed.

A move toward the inside rail by Shane Kelly turned out fatal, though, as the gap was rapidly closing and Thunderoad was badly hampered one furlong out, losing his momentum, while the eventual winner had clear passage and kept his momentum.

Thunderoad ran to a topspeed rating of 58, matching his current mark. He has been running to 71 in the past already, so clearly he is potentially better than this. However, now 0 for 17, the 4-year-old keeps finding ways to get beat.

That is a concern. So is the widest draw. Even though, that is less an issue, given he’d be ridden off the pace either way. I don’t like to see that on the All-Weather, usually. But Thunderoad appears to be going so well, second up here after a small break in a very winnable race that here’s hoping today is the day.

Selection:
10pts win – Thunderoad @ 13/2 MB

 

Wednesday Selections: January, 22nd 2020

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1.10 Lingfield: Class 5 Fillies’ Handicap, 7f

Even though she hasn’t been running badly, Chloellie has fallen 5lb below her last winning mark. Granted the majority of her victories came at Kempton, though I don’t see a reason why she shouldn’t perform at Lingfield as well.

The mare had a small break before returning in early January, performing with credit at Southwell. Now back on poly, and down to a 64 handicap mark against her own sex, she is a major player of a decent draw.

As recent as October she matched her current OR with a 64 topspeed rating, having ran to 67 in spring 2019 also.

Selection:
10pts win – Chloellie @ 7.2/1 MB

………..

3.55 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Roundabout Magic looks vulnerable of his current mark. Surely a contender, but not one who’s desperately well-handicapped.

Warrior’s Valley in contrast drops to a tasty mark while back on polytrack with a good draw over the minimum trip should help see him find back to form.

The five-year-old gelding hasn’t been at his best at Southwell in his last two starts, though before that – particularly his final run in 2019 at Lingfield – were decent efforts.

He’s 2lb lower today than than the aforementioned Lingfield race. That’s six pounds lower than his last winning mark while he ran three times in 2019 to topspeed ratings of 68+, including twice over this course and distance where he also produced his career highest RPR.

Franny Norton on board today is another plus. In a race where the favourite is vulnerable and the rest of the field hardly frightning this appears to be a super opportunity for Warrior’s Valley to find back to the winning ways.

Selection:
10pts win – Warrior’s Valley @ 15/2 WH

Sunday Selections: January, 19th 2020

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

12.50 Lingfield: Class 6 Apprentice Handicap, 1m 6f

Favourite Wanaasah won under an enterprising ride in sensational style recently here at Wolverhampton over a few furlongs longer. She should go well again, albeit, under a 5lb penalty and with most likely not given an uncontested lead things will be more difficult.

I am interested in Mark Johnston’s Grenadier Guard. Clearly a talented individual; clearly one with quirks who’s gone wrong at the same time.

He is tried in a visor for the first time today. I am not pinning solely my hope on that piece of headgear, but it may well help the gelding to focus better. I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt that he needed his last two runs after a break potentially; certainly a first start at Southwell is always something to forgive.

He drops down to a mile and six furlongs, which looks a more suitable trip. At the same time Grenadier Guard continues to fall in the mark. He showed promise last summer on turf when running to some good level of form, winning at Haydock and following up with a fine 2nd in a competitive Novices race.

That day he also ran to a 85 topspeed rating which looks believable. Hence there is a bit of talent that is better than a January class 5 Handicap at Wolverhampton. I take the risk and give Grenadier Guard another chance to live somewhat up to last summers promise.

Selection:
10pts win – Grenadier Guard @ 10.5/1 MB

Saturday Selections: January, 18th 2020

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

12.30 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

Presence Process makes a lot of appeal dropping further and further in his mark, now below 50. His latest effort over course and distance was positive, given there looked a spark there for first time headgear.

He probably got a little bit too much locked up in an early battle for the lead, subsequently was pulled back and then didn’t quite have the kick in the home straight, nonetheless finished well enough to see him winning again.

He loves this CD, has ran multiple times to higher speed ratings than his now lowly 49 rating and must have a prime chance in a poor contest.

The key will be the early parts of the race, though: drawn in 9 is a negative.

Selection:
10pts win – Presence Process @ 8/1 MB

……….

2.25 Ascot: Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle, 2m3½f

It’s probably not the best of signs that he is on the drift with the high street, but I remain quietly hopeful at the very least that Pic D’orhy is a good deal better than his 146 rating and will show it today.

Connections have always said he’s a chaser in the making. Nonetheless, he showed plenty of promise in France over hurdles, in deep ground and I feel the trip and conditions today will suit him.

Granted it is a competitive field. 2m3½f fell the last time at Autil in Grade 1 company a long way from the finish. He made his Nicholls debut at Cheltenham in the Triumph Hurdle where he travelled strongly until a blunder at the second last that ended his chances.

He’s still a young horse, will little millage on the clock and more to come. If he’s a class horse for the future he will need to show something good today against this opposition. At given prices I am inclined to be on his side.

Selection:
10pts win – Pic D’orhy @ 13/2 MB

……….

4.25 Meydan: Handicap, 7 furlongs

One that caught my eye two weeks ago here at Meydan in a competitive mile handicap was Moqarrar. He started well but was soon pulled back and before hitting the turn switched to the widest outside of the field travelling five deep.

As a consequence Moqarrar lost a lot of ground and had to do more than others in order to stay in touch burning vital energy. The gelding fought on gamely though hitting top gear entering the home straight and looked in with a good shout for the placings but faded eventually.

That was a strong performance taking circumstances into considerations. He can race of 2lb lower today, although drops to 7 furlongs, which may not be a big deal as he won over this trip as a juvenile in the UK.

I imagine he’ll jump out of the gate to be much closer to the pace today in hands of Jim Crowley and if getting a clear run should have a strong chance to outrun his price at the very least.

Selection:
10pts win – Moqarrar @ 11/1 WH

Friday Selections: January, 17th 2019

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4.45 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile

Destroyer was a non-runner last week. Hopefully he takes his chance today as not much has changed in my interest in him, with this being a weak race once again:

Seven-year-old gelding Destroyer drops down to class 6 with another couple of pounds off his rating and appears certainly well-handicapped if finding some form again.

It’s his second run after a break, so he should strip fitter for the latest – arguably poor – showing over this course and distance last month.

Only four runs back though in September he still finished a fine third only a lengths down at Pontefract of a 67 handicap mark, also matching a 67 topspeed rating, suggesting there is life and enough class to be competitive in a low-grade handicap such as this.

True, Destroyer is without victory on the All-Weather but his career best speed rating was achieved at Kempton (79). He also acts on tapeta as proven when a 1¼ lengths beaten 4th over a mile here in November 2018 of a 13lb higher mark than today.

He may well have enough of racing, as he’s not getting any younger, and his last three efforts are concerning. If back in the same mood at Pontefract, though, he’d have a massive chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Destroyer @ 13/1 MB