Tag Archives: Review

Tuesday Selections: 19th April 2022

After a disappointing run for Chief Little Hawk at Wolverhampton on Monday it’s back to the green grass on Tuesday with a confident selection in the Epsom opener.

Before we look what’s on the menu there let’s take step back and see what happened on Easter Monday in the Irish Grand National. Willie Mullins was sending out exciting Novice Gaillard Du Mesnil, who went off the 11/2 favourite on the late evening as Fairyhouse was basking in sunshine.

The 6-year-old gelding travelled well for most of the race in the hands of Paul Townend, although he was a bit tight for room two fences from home. This didn’t have any impact on the result, though. Because the winner travelled equally well, only to find more than anyone else in the closing stages.

Lord Lariat, a 7-year-old gelding won the Irish Grand National as a 40/1 shot, outrunning those odds in some style. Remarkably he’s done it for the same trainer and jockey as twelve months ago when Freewheelin Dylan claimed an amazing 150-1 triumph for local trainer Dermot McLoughlin and 7lb claiming jockey Paddy O’Hanlon.

For one of the smaller yards this is a near unbelievable achievement. Especially as neither Lord Lariat nor Freewheelin Dylan were supported by the public in the betting at all.

All questions whether Lord Lariat would stay the 3m 5f trip where comprehensively mastered and clearly horse was well managed through the season by McLoughlin. He won like a good thing.

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1.50 Epsom: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

This will be fast and furious as races over the minimum distance down the Epsom straight tend to be. Progressive Electric Love is of interest, so is Recon Mission of a reduced mark. Thegreatestshowman appears a touch overpriced back on turf.

But the one I am really keen on is Mokaatil. No surprise, he was on a recent eye-catcher list for his season opening run at Doncaster. That day I felt he looked full of enthusiasm late in the race despite the trip being not quite his optimum.

He ran with credit at Lingfield in a hot Handicap since then but wasn’t fancied and neither was I interested in him that day. It’s a different story over five furlongs at Epsom.

Mokaatil is down another couple of pounds in his rating, drops back into class 3 and down to the minimum trip. He is the reigning Epsom Dash winner from exactly the same 82 handicap mark, followed up at Musselburgh to win of 86 and run to 85 and 80 topspeed ratings in those races.

In combination with the well-being confirmed in the referenced recent races he’s an obvious shout the marked doesn’t miss. Yet, having a highly capable apprentice on board claiming additional 7lb – and looking good value for the weight allowance – Mokaatil is a big chance and still underestimated in the betting.

10pts win – Mokaatil @ 7/2

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Chief Little Hawk was a big disappointment today. He missed the break and the race was basically gone from there. He made bit of late progress without ever challenging.

I’ll keep the faith for another day. Ideally on turf. There is a race in him to win, for all the reasons mentioned in the preview.

Eye-Catchers #3 2022

A list of horses that have caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

After John
09/04/22 – 2.05 Thirsk:

Travelled in rear of the field. until making excellent progress from three to 2 furlongs from home. Confronted with a wall of horses to pass he has to switch wide, taking the “scenic route” in order to get a clear run.

This move cost time and momentum and by the final furlong marker it’s too late to catch the eventual winner who always travelled isolated away from the field.

It’s fair to assume on a different day After John finishes a whole lot closer to the winner. He’s certainly responded to the change of scenery having moved yards on this first run for Ian Jardine.

He’s down to a handicap mark of 64 and on past form he’s well handicapped, no question. He ran four times to topspeed ratings of 65 or higher and performed well of a mark of 67 in 6f Handicaps last season.

I am hoping the handicapper won’t bee too harsh after this run and leaves him on 64. If that’s the case I reckon After John will be a big runner over 6 furlongs wherever he pops up next.

Race Replay

Andromedas Kingdom + No Patience + Breach + We’re On The Way
10/04/22 – 5.20 Curragh:

This was a wild race with as many hard-luck stories as you want to pick out. I could make the case for more than a handful of horses that ran better than the bare result suggested. But “only” four individuals find their way into the tracker.

Andromedas Kingdom travelled well on the heels of the main bunch on the stands’ side. Having to pass everyone with nowhere to go she was switched to the middle of the track in the hope for greener grass. She made dramatic progress from 2 furlongs out and finished well under hands and heels.

This was her first run in Handicap company also also her comeback run coming off a 251 day break, while having changed yards in the meantime. She is a half-sister to 100 rated sprinter Boundless Power, but I imagine she will improve going up in trip. A mile looks highly possible on pedigree. With more improvement to come a mark of 55 could easily underestimate her.

No Patience raced in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side for the majority of the race. He was boxed in and couldn’t improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.

He’s an experienced individual and we know all about him. However, given 6 furlongs is likely on the sharp side these days, I do rate this run as a strong performance.

He’s down to a sexy mark (turf and All-Weather), given he won off 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 10lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past. He looks rejuvenated for having changed yards and is ripe to win back up in trip.

Breach travelled in rear of the main bunch and is another one who had nowhere to go. She also got badly hampered over two furlongs out when running into the back of a horse. She’s switched moments later and finishes easy as you like in eye-catching fashion.

This filly has been hidden. She has raced over wrong trips since her move to Ireland. She almost certainly stays a good deal further. The dam was a 10 furlong winner. Watch out for when she moves up in trip. Her day will come.

We’re On The Way was yet another significant hard-luck story. He had no chance, was multiple times hampered and had any momentum stopped from over two furlongs out. Given a bit of reign in the final furlong he picked up seriously well, though.

He also is one you would think has no business to run over 6 furlongs. He will stay further and should improve going up in trip. Watch out for that. This was his seasonal comeback run which enhances the performance as he was not fancied at all on the day.

Race Replay

Secret Eagle
11/04/22 – 5.50 Pontefract:

He made perfect use of a low draw to chase the early pace and be in a good spot given the nature of the track. He continued to drive forward from three furlongs out and attempted to steal the race from the front turning for home while the fellow pace setter faded away.

He was finally caught with one furlong to go but continued to rally impressively to keep the 3rd spot.

This was a clear return to form and evidence that a recent wind operation has worked. Secret Eagle is down to a solid mark, having ran to topspeed 71 as a juvenile and having been placed of 3lb higher last August (a strong piece of form).

He acts over 5 furlongs as well as 6 furlongs, on softish as well as decent ground. Though, I suspect he’ll need a bit of cut in the ground for the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Ebtsama
12/04/22 – 7.45 Wolverhampton:

This filly was already on the #1 2022 list. She caught the eye here once again in a hot race. As mentioned earlier this month I want to see her stepping up in trip before backing her, so I let her run without my money.

Perhaps in that context it was disheartening to see how much she pulled in this 6f contest. Nonetheless, with more experience and a solid pace I maintain that 7 furlongs will be ideal.

Turning for home she was following the eventual winner who kicked on 2 furlongs from home. Ebtsama didn’t quite seem to have the instant change of gear to follow but also found herself boxed in, denied an opportunity to unleash her own challenge.

This could be a blessing in disguise because she may be dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper for finishing last. She appears seriously well handicapped once stepping up in trip – and if she can relax. Perhaps head gear in some form is an option.

The form of the race looks strong on topspeed ratings. Most horses have ran to their handicap mark too – always a good sign in my book.

Race Replay

Harry Three
13/04/22 – 1.50 Newmarket:

He travelled in rear for the first half of the race. Made his move from 3 furlongs out, but crucially toward the far side, away from where the actual race would eventually develop.

He quickened in impressive style – backed up by strong sectionals. But he had to do it all on his own in the closing stages. In the end he was just beaten by two horses on the stands’ side.

He looks like a colt who is progressing as a 3-year-old after showing a lot of promise toward the end of last season as a juvenile. He is lightly enough raced to imagine he can improve again.

He didn’t always got the best of runs the last two starts he was beaten before coming here to Newmarket. All in all, over the 6 furlongs trip he clearly can win off his current handicap mark – granted the handicapper won’t treat him harshly for this effort.

Race Replay

Thursday Selection – 14/04/2022

Third day of the Craven meeting. But my eyes are drawn to Bath for an eye-catching betting proposition. Though, I also want to take a look back at the Craven Stakes.

Native Trail was the main act on Wednesday at Newmarket. The way he won the Craven Stakes was impressive. Even though, one could also argue this was expected after what he had done as a juvenile.

Personally I think the performance was impressive for the simple fact that we have seen often enough in the past how these top-class 2-year-olds wouldn’t train on or simply lose their edge as the rest of the pack has caught up physically and mentally.

That sort of fate may still beckon for Native Trail later the year. For now he must be considered the prime candidate for the 2000 Guineas, though, and the betting market says as much. There’s no secret here.

However, the fact he ran out an easy victory yesterday, achieving a topspeed rating of 100 on his seasonal reappearance, is impressive in my eyes. He’s ran three times in a row to TS 100 now. That’s the sign of a quality colt. And I would be more than hopeful that he can improve on that if properly asked for full effort in the Guineas.

My eyes were naturally drawn to Claymore in the Craven. Having called him out as one of my 5 To Follow I was anxious whether the bubble would burst as early as his first run as a 3-year-old.

It didn’t. He finished a gallant runner-up. Clearly still green, raw and what Jane Chapple-Hyam called a “big baby” afterwards – who was also seriously unruly before the race – he’ll learn plenty from this experience. He’s not quite cracked topspeed 90 here, but improved on his debut 83 from last year. Surely there is more to come.

Chapple-Hyam mentioned the French Guineas as the likely target as opposed to the Newmarket classic.

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4.20 Bath: Class 6 Handicap, 5.5f

As uncompetitive as this Bath opener looks, as much does experience tell us that these races can be pure carnage and tend to produce many hard-luck stories.

I still have to back favourite Fristel. He was one of my eye-catchers from last week and I feel this test over 5.5 furlongs will represent the ideal race for him. He finished much the strongest last Monday at Windsor on his turf debut while not getting a run until very late.

In this class and of his current mark I feel he is seriously well handicapped, particularly with another 3lb off the weight with apprentice Stefano Cherchi on board – which is his sole ride today.

This is Fristel’s 6th career start, only the third in Handicap company. He caught the eye as juvenile on the All-weather as well and as long as he gets a clear run, which is the main danger more than anything in this field, he will have a major shout.

Money is coming all morning so prices may vanish soon. any additional money is an obvious positive pointer to his chances.

10pts win – Fristel @ 7/2

Tramore Racecourse: An Irish Racing Pearl

A friendly track with plenty of charm, fine facilities and stunning panoramic views of the Waterford coastline – Tramore is a place where racing feels celebrated.

It’s certainly a place steeped in history: racing at Tramore dates back to the 19th century – at least. While racing in the existing location has taken place since 1912.

History is in the air and you can feel it, smell and hear it when approaching the entrance to the track, with the spectacular coastline standing tall in the background. This isn’t the shiny new Curragh or a renovated Leopardstown. Racing at Tramore feels raw and real.

No surprise, you can sense the age of the place everywhere you go but that doesn’t distract from the fact that the facilities are well maintained. Yes, some wear and tear is visible, which only adds to the charm of the place, though.

The layout of the actual racetrack is interesting. This is a tight, roller-coaster like 7 furlong circuit. It’s up and down, ever turning and I can see how some horses love it while others won’t travel a yard.

This is perfect from a racegoers perspective because you are able watch the horses pretty much the entire race. No big screen needed. You can get a superb look of how the race develops especially once the field races down the hill on the far end of the track before turning for home.

As for filling the empty stomach or quenching the thirst: Tramore simply gets it right, There is lovely bar for pints from the tab. Enough space to sit with screens to follow the racing.

Food options are varied thanks to a fine bistro that offers a variety of fresh food options. There is also a dedicated fish and ship shop at the track. Prices are fair, taking into considerations we’re on a racecourse. It was €15 to get in, a coffee €2.50 and the food is reasonably priced.

Getting around is easy. Parade ring, stands, betting ring and all the other facilities are in close proximity. Despite the age of the racecourse everything here is clean, tidy and as well maintained as can be. Also a big shoutout to all the staff. Every single one had a smile on their face.

A highlight of Tramore’s location is the spectacular scenic view you can get from the parade ring toward the Waterford coastline. You can see the waves crashing on the beach in the background and smell the salt in the air.

The racing on the day of my visit wasn’t spectacular. Maiden Hurdles, low-grade Handicap Chases and a bumper – but it’s the atmosphere that matters. And from that perspective it was a stellar day.

A bumper crowd in attendance marveled in the victories of household names Rachel Blackmore and Paul Townend. Particularly Blackmore’s winning rides were popular with the local crowd.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the Champions Parade of Cheltenham heroes Honeysuckle – the two-time Champion Hurdle winner, Energumene – the reigning Champion Chaser, and A Plus Tard – the 2022 Gold Cup winner.

A Plus Tard

I wasn’t sure what to expect when heading for County Waterford. In any case: all expectations where certainly exceeded. Tramore Racecourse is a stunning place to go racing. I loved every minute. It’s pushing hard to become my favourite track in Ireland, I must admit.

The combination of coziness, rural charm and history with scenic views, fine facilities and a lovely atmosphere make this a place where the sport of horse racing feels celebrated.

All Photos © Florian Christoph

Grand National Recap

The Grand National is still THE race. Whatever the talk of the race having become a “glorified Cross-Country Chase”, the National continues to dominate headlines and has people talking in positive terms about racing.

Perhaps it isn’t the race it used to be. Perhaps it’s not quite the same challenge for horse and rider as it used to be. Perhaps for some people it’s not the unique spectacle it once was. Doesn’t matter. Because it’s still the biggest race in the calendar.

Why? People talk about it. People who’d have no clue what the Cheltenham Gold Cup is. Mainstream media is talking about. Mostly in positive terms. This is racings shopping window. The race that proves the sports relevance to a wider public.

Nothing of that concerns pure racing fans. But it concerns the long-term health and future of the sport.

Therefore a Grand National that bridges the gap between safety and spectacle can continue to write great stories that capture the imagination of racing fans and people outside the bubble in equal terms – as opposed to stories about fatality numbers. This is crucial to any survival of the race and the sport of jump racing.

It’s surprises me again and again how many people inside the industry don’t grasp this correlation.

As for positive stories: the 2022 edition didn’t disappoint. All horses were reported to be back in their stables post-race. Zero fatalities is a win for the safety and for the sport. And a loss for the radical animal welfare brigade who had their social media campaigns ready to launch wit the click of a button.

The story of the race, though, is of course the fairytale victory of Nobel Yeats. The first 7-year-old to win the national since 1940. A rather inexperienced horse with only seven chase runs up until today. He went jumping a hurdle under rules only 13 months ago. This was a 50/1 shot, one who preview articles awarded a 1* star rating out of five possible – basically a no-hoper.

And there’s the rider. Sam Waley-Cohen. An amateur. A hugely successful one, mind. Who announced his retirement before the race. Cohen’s final ride and he finishes his career with a Grand National! Fairytale stuff. Stories only the National can write. Or at least the one race where those stories resonate outside of the racing world, too.

On a personal note: looking back at my shortlist of ten horses and comparing with the eventual first ten horses home I’ll give myself a pad on the back for not having been too widely off the mark:

1st: Noble Yeats
2nd: Any Second Now
3rd: Delta Work
4th: Santini
5th: Fiddlerontheroof
6th: Longhouse Poet
7th: Freewheelin’ Dylan
8th: Coko Beach
9th: Escaria Ten
10th: Romain De Senam

Truth being told, though, I wouldn’t have given the winner Noble Yeats neither and Santini – despite all his former class – nor Romain De Senam any chance whatsoever to win or even finish close to the placings.

My two selections Fiddlerontheroof finished 5th and Longhouse Poet 6th. These where fine, fine runs. Longhouse Poet appeared a bit more dangerous for most parts of the race. Ultimately both horses didn’t quite get home in the end.

No shame in that. I’ll got great runs for my money. And the horses have done themselves proud. If I’d have been an each-way player they would have paid handsomely for their placings. I am not, of course.

What matters to me, though, is I that feel correct in my assessment that prices around 20’s where underestimating their chances, hence they where value odds – and the fact both went off a good deal shorter confirmed the notion.

In conclusion I can only say I seriously enjoyed this years Grand National. Great field, great race, great performances from horses and jockeys, everyone’s home safe and we got a fairytale winner. What’s not to like?

Edit: It has just emerged that #21 Discorama has sadly been lost post-race. He was sensibly pulled when things went wrong during the race but couldn’t be saved. Devastating news.

My Betting Review 2019

2019 is over! It’s been a year that has flown by like Paco Boy thundering past his rivals in the 2010 Lockinge Stakes! The last twelve months were intense. Certainly on the betting front: a real roller-coaster year!

As in 2017 as well as 2018 I like to do a detailed review of my betting year: overall results, what worked, what didn’t work, plus key lessons for the new year.

2019 in numbers:
  • 635pts Profit
  • 20.09% ROI
  • 336 bets
  • 45 winners
  • 13.39% Strike Rate

Overall it was a good year once more – the third profitable one in a row, with 9/12 months in green.

2019 was also about an ever increasing difficulty in “getting on”. My accounts with any high-street bookmaker are limited to cents now. Liquidity on exchanges for the low grade races I am usually interested in isn’t always a given either.

Nonetheless, compared to to other years I placed more bets than ever before, however, for lower profit and lower ROI than in 2017 and 2018. Which is perfectly fine – 20% ROI is plenty and any profitable year is a good year after all.

In reflection I have to be critical of myself as well because there were days when I simply gave in to my urge to have the bet because I somewhat fancied the horse without having all boxes ticked on my “checklist”. Something to address: no bet, no problem – my mantra, which I want to follow even more rigidly in 2020.

It was also a year where I missed out on some big scores. Some massive prices denied on the line – in fact my selections hit the post a whopping 80 times!

The Good:

Turf delivers the goods: A 385pts profit! I was losing in this sphere last year so I am delighted to see my slightly revised focus on how to approach the turf paying off. UK only posted 485pts (without class 6 Handicaps, a massive 615pts!).

Highlight was clearly the 1000 Guineas victory of Hermosa at 16/1. The majority of winners came in the lower grades though, class 4 and 5 Handicaps – which really is no surprise as it’s always been my happy hunting ground. Windsor and Brighton turned out to be the most lucrative tracks.

1m & 2 furlongs: The mile and a quarter trip is a clear standout profit wise: 465pts+ profit, 9 of 26 successful bets – British racing provided all winners (of 20 bets, +515pts).

Jump racing: 275pts profit, thanks to another decent Cheltenham Festival, including 22/1 selection Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup. City Island (11/1) landing the Ballymore was another fine winner during the Festival week.

Lately the French Diesel D’Allier’s success in a Cross-Country Chase at the Cotswolds venue helped boosting a profitable 2019.

I wanted to be much more selective here, as the last years taught me my knowledge and understand of the day to day world of jump racing is simply not good enough to make it pay in the long run. The bigger races, though, have always yielded a fair return as more data – and reliable data – is freely available that helps me to make quality calls on races.

The Bad:

The All-Weather: My bread and butter. A 15pts loss! To compare: 605pts profit in 2018. Something went badly wrong here. I don’t think my selections were poor. A lot of big prices hit the post. However I know that in autumn in particular I lost focus a bit and made selections there were not quite up to the high quality I would expect of myself.

Class 6 Sprinting: A total disaster. Regardless of the surface, a 200pts loss is a clear sign for what to avoid moving forward. Across the board from 5 furlongs to 7 furlongs, in the lowest grade I struggled badly. It’s such an issue in higher classes, though. Apart from the minimum trip, specifically on turf. These are trends manifested from years before as well.

25 losers in a row: Not a single winner in October – tough autumn. It’s those long losing runs that test your mentality as a punter. However it also shows how tight the margins are: if Delphinia would have got up in the super tight finish on British Champions Day it all would have looked a little bit different – a 25/1 shot denied on the line.

2020 Outlook:

Hopefully another successful year. Potentially even more selective, with less bets and more quality, that’s the aim. Combining several different data points with my own form analysis will remain the method of choice in identifying potentially well handicapped horses, likely in lower grades.

If I can’t answer the question “Is the horse well handicapped” with a resounding YES I’ll revert back to “no bet, no problem”.

Avoiding class 6 races on turf altogether. Be properly diligent in my assessment on anything below class 5 on the All-Weather before placing a bet while swerving sprint races on the sand.

The odd group races will still keep me entertained. Speed ratings tend to hold up well in those competitions therefore they remain of interest in the right circumstances. I also enjoy writing more complete and in -depth previews of the big Group 1 races.

Become even more selective on Irish racing. Don’t get sucked into the excitement of the bigger meetings. I always struggled to make it pay.

Complete Betting Record

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