Tag Archives: Betting

Tuesday Selections: 29th November 2022

A lovely winner thanks to Thrave at Kempton yesterday afternoon. It was his day to shine, finally.

In fairness, despite the rather generous price, I was quietly confident he could go seriously close, if the handbrake is off. 7 furlongs with a solid pace, from a good draw and a career lowest mark – I couldn’t have dreamt of a better opportunity for him, as mentioned beforehand.

It doesn’t always work like that, of course. More often than not you can dream up all you want and you go home empty handed. This is an especially sweet one, though. Having tracked the gelding for the entire season it’s pleasing when it all comes together as you envisioned it in your mind.

Things look a lot brighter now. In fact, much brighter, after I realised my P/L sheet had a filter activated that hid a number of selections from a specific cohort… and with that some winners, too. This was the cherry on the cake today.

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3.50 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 5f

My good friend Pockley bids for back-to-back wins here. Of course, I backed him the two times prior to winning at Newcastle last time out. He should run well here again, but has to carry 5lb more, which may be enough to stop him from winning.

The one I seriously fancy in this field only managed to finish in 6th place, beaten more than three lengths, by Pockley, in the same race a fortnight ago. Nonetheless, there is a lot to like about Never Dark, who’s finally back racing around a bend.

He caught the eye at Pontefract and also in his last two All-Weather runs at Newcaste and showed a good level of consistency this year, too. He was never beaten more than 3.5 lengths in his last seven starts since early September, managed speed ratings of 69+ twice and often travelled quite well to suggest he’s a horse that performs in and around his current handicap marks.

Perhaps he was somewhat in the grip of the handicapper, largely down to this consistency. He finally drops below 70 now, a career lowest mark, as the handicapper gives him an opportunity, I believe.

The #5 draw is fine for his style of racing. He shouldn’t be too far off the pace. The bend will help him, if he’s up with the pace, as well.

All in all: trip, track, surface, draw, handicap mark, class, opposition – nothing to worry, but much to like.

10pts win – Never Dark @ 8/1

Monday Selections: 28th November 2022

One of those times again: not quite happening for me. Three of the last five selections placed. And then there was the the ‘killer’ on Saturday: Milbanke. Backed him a week ago with confidence, when he ran huge for third place, but then let him go unbacked on Saturday, when of course, he won. Autsch.

It’s a frustrating year, in that sense. Too many of those stories. It looks likely to be a losing year now – the first in over five years.

It was also frustrating to see my Summer Cup selection Safe Passage beaten in 2nd place at Turffontein on Saturday; he ran a cracker, but was probably doing too much too soon, going forward from the #10 draw, while the winner, gutsy Puerto Manzano, got a much more quiet ride, always sitting off the pace.

Later that evening Making Music ran a shocker; the drift to 20/1+ gave it away beforehand. I could really do with a nice winner today….

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3.15 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

I can’t avoid backing Thrave today. Somewhat a ghost I am chasing all season long. Is today the day?

If the handbrake is off Thrave will go close. No question about that. He’s racing over 7 furlongs, down t a mark off 61 – I couldn’t have dreamed up a better opportunity for the seven-year-old gelding.

Last time out the handbrake was clearly on. Even a blind man would have seen that. That run aside, perhaps the Newcastle performance prior was surprisingly poor. Especially because Thrave showed consistency this season, ran well and caught the eye a number of times all year long.

He ran four times to speed ratings of 62+ on turf, although it can be argued he’s a better horse on the All-Weather. In any case, he’s down to a career lowest mark, races over the right trip, with a good draw in a race where he shouldn’t have an issue to be right up with the pace.

Even though age may start to catch up with him, Thrave is better than those last two poor showings. This isn’t a strong field and if allowed to run on merit, is clearly overpriced.

10pts win – Thrave @ 13/1

Saturday Selections: 26th November 2022

7.20 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

Many will want to get position close to the pace. I’m tracking Eye Of the Water for a few weeks now, but still feel this isn’t quite the right race given the draw, and likely hot pace over this trip.

The filly Making Music looks much better handicapped an here with a huge chance from her #1 draw. It’s easy to forgive her latest poor showing over a trip too far.

She pulled hard over shorter, so it was no surprise to see her fading badly when stepping up to 9.5 furlongs. She lead soon crossing over from the widest draw but ran her race as the field approached the home turn.

I feel the 3-year-old is better judged on the Kempton run before, which caught my eye.

Even there over a mile, she was quite keen, not helped in that regard by the application for blinkers for the first time. Nonetheless, she travelled well into home straight, tracking the pace in third. She made her move from 2f out, which petered out inside final furlong. Most likely she paid for early exertions, still finished well in third.

Making Music is most likely a bit better than her current mark. Her reference performance is the August 2nd place at this venue over a mile, when she ran to topspeed 63 off a 64 mark, and the form has been significantly franked in the meantime.

Today she is down to a mark off 59 today. As she drops to 7 furlongs, the blinkers remain on, from an ideal #1 draw, she should be quite well handicapped in these circumstances.

She should be able to get an ideal handy position. The likely hot pace should help her to settle. It’s always a risk to back a 10-race maiden, but she is on the right mark, in the right race today.

10pts win – Making Music @ 12/1

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1.35 Turffontein: Group 1 Summer Cup, 10f

Exciting race this afternoon over at Turffontein, South Africa. 2022 Durban July heroine Sparkling Water bids for Grade 1 glory, after a highly satisfying comeback run three weeks ago.

She was such an impressive – albeit slightly surprisingly easy – winner of South Africa’s premier race. Everything worked to perfection that day. Judged on that effort, if in the same form, she’s obviously the one beat.

But, over the shorter 2.000m trip I have to oppose her, especially in this hot contest, where she also has to carry a lot more weight now, than the light weight she enjoyed at Durban.

No question, the one I am keen to her oppose her with is stable Mate Safe Passage. Especially as the odds are much bigger than I’d have ever thought you’d get for him. He’s overpriced, in my book.

Let’s not forget Safe Passage went off 2nd favourite for the July, after an ultra impressive success in the Grade 1 Daily News a couple of weeks prior, that catapulted him to the top of the market in the days leading up to the big race.

He enjoyed an incredibly season up to that point: winner of the Dingaans and Gauteng Guineas, runner-up in the Cape Derby and then that victory in the Daily News, off a nearly three months long break, which was only meant to be a prep.

This is a highly talented colt, who continuously progressed with experience, and reportedly has physically improved since July, too. He had a good comeback run in the meantime, when clearly minded in the closing stages.

I have no doubt, despite having been beaten by over three lengths in the Durban July, Safe Passage is more talented than Sparkling Water, in fact he’s the best horse over ten furlongs in South Africa. The turnaround in the weights is, beside the trip, another advantage, he’s got over Sparkling Water, today.

Looking back at the July, it’s clear things didn’t really worked out for him that day. From a wild start, to not getting the clearest of run in the home straight, to possibly having done too much too soon in the race, to truly stay the additional furlong.

The draw today is a bit wider than ideal, but it shouldn’t matter too much either. As long as there is a solid pace, Safe Passage should be able to produce his trademark turn of foot and off a fair weight could have too much to offer for the rest of the field.

Obviously with 17 other runners in the field, this could easily become messy, and someone could spring a surprise. Yet, it’s hard to ignore this rather generous price for the most likely most talented horse in South Africa, who’s fit, in good form over a trip and track he loves.

10pts win – Safe Passage @ 5.7

Saturday Selections: 12th November 2022

Oh the weekend feeling…. it would have been all the more jolly if Rose Bandit would have got a clear run last night at Wolverhampton. She would have won, I’m pretty adamant, if not for the most horrible trip.

It’s been a few light days over the last week in any case, but those selections I made ran great races; despite not getting a winner, I’m pretty satisfied with the work.

Beside the aforementioned Rose Bandit, who couldn’t have done better in the given circumstances, Pockley was also quite unlucky last Friday when deemed 2nd in what appeared, at least to the naked eye, a dead-heat (and it looked like he was possibly ahead before and after the line).

Stone Age ran a massive race to finish second in the BC Turf, and outperformed his odds by a wide margin. Even Twistaline ran really well but had simply too much to do from the back – with that in mind, is perhaps the one I may want to have back, because I knew this scenario would play out exactly this way and yet I fell into the trap of ignoring the pace bias.

That’s racing. That’s betting on horses. It’s not easy and one can only try to make good decisions, find quality bets, and the rest will take care of itself.

There’s one that caught my eye today – on what is actually quite a busy day on the All-Weather with some fine fields at Lingfield in particular. I’ll try to stick to the bi-weekly schedule and will be posting a new edition of eye catchers tomorrow.

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3.45 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 2m

A compelling races for stayers that may evolve around the pace. There won’t be many who are overly keen to get to soon to the front, and I imagine this won’t be run at a mad gallop.

If this turns out to be the case, then the ne who’s sure to move forward is Mark Johnston’s Wadacre Tir, and he could find himself in a prime spot when turning for home.

This is his second run after being gelded and he was far from disgraced over a similar trip at Southwell a fortnight ago. Whether he truly stays 2 miles remains to be seen, but first time blinkers should certainly help with sharpness.

If this isn’t an overly fast race, he may not even have to be fully tested for his staying qualities. In any case, though, Wadacre Tir should be in the right position when it matters most.

He’s a pound lower than when last seen, is still potentially open to some improvement after only seven career runs, especially now gelded, and could be seriously well weighted here off 8-13.

Interesting to see Clifford Lee booked for the ride. He’s one I quite like over longer distances. That ties in well with mark Johnston’s generally strong record at Lingfield over these marathon trips.

10pts win – Wadacre Tir @ 6/1

Friday Selections: 11th November 2022

4.55 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f

I find it really exciting to see Rose Bandit stepping up to 6 furlongs before a 2lb hike in her mark kicks in. From a good #5 draw, she looks cherry ripe to win a race.

She caught the eye about four weeks ago here at Newcastle over the minimum trip, then off 4lb higher than she’s on Friday.

She tracked the pace that day, came off the bridle over 2 furlongs from home as she tried to keep up with the leaders, which was ultimately too hot for too long for her, yet she wasn’t beaten all that far in the end and ran much better than the 7th place finish suggested.

She quite well the next two times as well; once more at Newcastle, and especially when last seen at Southwell; on both occasions over 5 furlongs. Clearly the mare is in excellent form but needs the additional furlong on the All-Weather to be seen to best effect.

She remains somewhat unexposed on the All-Weather – yet to win in five runs, but the majority of her performances can be upgraded. The last time she ran over 6 furlongs on the All-Weather was in May at Newcastle when she finished strongly, but not getting the best of runs, off a 63 mark.

She also was badly hampered and unlucky three starts back at Hamilton on turf, building a really strong case for this mare as she has kept her good form over the last weeks.

Because of her recent runner-up performance at Southwell she will go up to 56, but can race still off 54 here, 9lb lower than her last (turf) winning mark. She also ran 7x to equal or higher speed ratings in her career.

This is an Apprentice race. She has a highly inexperienced jockey on board. Although Poppy Wilson has been riding rather well, in the limited rides she got so far.

She claims 7lb. That’s a fair compensation because Rose Bandit looks a pretty easy ride. Just bounce her out, stay close to the pace and don’t fall off.

10pts win – Rose Bandit @ 7/1

Breeders’s Cup Turf 2022 Preview

8.40 Keeneland (USA): Grade 1; 1m 4f

This renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Turf doesn’t appear to have the same quality as in previous years. As a consequence it’s wide open. A full field, a tight track and likely fast ground will make for an exciting race, though.

Two horses trained by Charlie Appleby head the betting market. Nations Pride is currently favoured – one can see why. The 3-year-old colt enjoyed a highly successful season, winning four races, and lately went back-to-back in Grade 1 company in the US.

Nations Pride only got beaten this year in the Epsom Derby and in the Belmont Derby when an unlucky runner-up . At the same time he clearly proved versatility, a preference for fast ground and the ability to sit handy and quicken nicely when asked to change gear.

Those are all characteristics that do enhance his chances. He’s a fair favourite in my view. But also beatable. Nations Pride is no superstar.

Otherwise he wouldn’t have been running in the US so often this season. This US form isn’t always easy to quantify, but almost never on par with European top-level competition.

Nations Pride’s European form is solid but hard to be too excited about. Also: in six starts outside the US his career-best speed rating is a modest 89 figure, dating back to his sole run at Meydan.

A #7 gate isn’t ideal here. He may have to spend quite a bit of energy if the aim is a prominent racing position. Otherwise he may be too far back in the field. He’s not always a sharp starter, either. It’s a tricky situation for William Buick in the saddle. At 11/4 I give Nations pride a miss.

Stable mate Rebel’s Romance comes here in red hot form. He landed the two most important Group 1 races in Germany lately, doing so in fine style, as he got the better of German Derby winner Samarko along the way – personally I really rate the German colt.

Unbeaten in his last four starts, he stays the trip and is fine on fast ground. However, his career-best on the rating front dates back to last year, at Meydan; how the recent soft ground form from Germany truly translates to Keeneland is a bit of a question mark. I have some doubts.

A year ago Mishriff would likely have been a red hot favourite in this race. This time he’s a 6/1 shot. Unlucky in the Coral Eclipse at the start of his season, he never looked the same horse again.

Drawn in #11, blinkers on for the first time in his career; this me strike as a somewhat desperate move. I struggle to find him attractive in these circumstances.

Broome has a good draw, in comparison. The six-year-old continues to run well at the highest level. He was an impressive winner of the Hardwick Stakes at Royal Ascot, and wasn’t disgraced in the Arc when last seen on unsuitable ground.

He’ll be a solid place chance if he doesn’t miss the break, which he’s now done a couple of times.

It’s difficult for me to properly assess the form of the home squad. The mare War Like Goddess looked pretty good – although, not brilliant – when landing the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic four weeks ago. She’s likely to be up with the pace from the #2 gate. Hence must rate a competitive chance.

Nonetheless, for betting purposes I’ll stick with the horses I know well enough to make a proper assessment.

With that in mind, the one that I was thinking about all week for this race was the other Aiden O’Brien runner, Stone Age. In truth: generally I am not a massive fan of him, opposed him at every opportunity this year.

However, I have come to the conclusion that he’s going to be a huge runner against this opposition in these circumstances, and certainly appears to be significantly overpriced.

Stone Age has a lovely draw to attack the race from. He’s Ryan Moore’s choice, who knows him well. The 3-year-old colt likes to race bang up with the pace, and can also make it all, as often seen this season. From the #3 gate he’ll be right there towards the front of the race.

I’m pretty sure if you sit more than four lengths off the pace with three furlongs to go your chances are doomed in this race. Stone Age will be right in the mix. He’s not the best horse in the race. But he may well be the one most favoured by circumstances.

He’s been to the US twice this year. On both occasions he ran with plenty of credit, as he had to overcome wide draws. Both Saratoga- and Belmont Derby runs can be upgraded. So can be his last two performances at the highest level against top-class opposition in the Irish- and British Champions Stakes.

He led the field in those races, possibly did too much too soon, but wasn’t all that far beaten in the end, in either instance. I believe he will enjoy the better ground at Keeneland – in combination with the track and his draw, it’s a real positive. And this is a much easier race than the rivals he countered the last two times.

Let’s not forget Stone Age was once a highly fancied Derby shot. Obviously, he’s not that good. Certainly I never thought he was. His speed ratings are consistently not good enough to be considered a proper Group 1 horse in Europe, too.

Yet, here I am: strongly fancying Stone Age. He’s got a proper chance for Group 1 glory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. This race will suit him more than most in the field. He has the stamina, the finishing kick, the draw and won’t mind the ground.

10pts win – Stone Age @ 9/1