Tag Archives: Southwell

Tuesday Selections: December 12th 2017

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Actually I had mushrooms for dinner…. Anyway – despite breaking slowly (again), Mach One had – as hoped – way too much in hand at Southwell this afternoon. He drew clear eventually when asked for full effort and justified market support.

Second selection Very First Blade ran a blinder in the last race on the card. He was a massive 40/1 before the off but finished much better, despite never travelling. A fine third in the end.

No winner, but it proved once again the golden highway for the low drawn horses over 5f at Southwell does exist, as explored in my recent Myth or Fact article.

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3.15 Lingfield: Class 5 Handicap, 5f

Arriving from back-to-back-wins is Entertaining Ben here; thanks to a good draw he has every chance to go close once more.

I fancy one who finished a good deal behind the last two times, though: Roundabout Magic.

Not seen to bet effect in his recent starts having to deal with wide draws, the three year old was also incredibly keen and that in combination meant he was finished before it really mattered.

As a consequence he drops to a very tasty mark: tasty because in February and March he went back-to-back off a similar- and even 4lb higher mark in similar type races.

His keenness can be an issue, however the colt has been allotted a pretty decent draw this time. So a combination of draw and falling mark should see him being competitive.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundabout Magic @ 10/1 Bet365

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6.20 Wolverhamtpon: Class 5 Handicap, 7f

Mansfield couldn’t have been unluckier the other day when conceding first run, having to turn widest and being in front just behind the line…. off the same mark here he has an obvious chance to get his head in front.

He is finally down to a realistic mark after racing in tougher competition of much higher ratings for most of 2017, which was based on one excellent performance in a class 3 Nursery back in 2015.

This lad has obviously talent and is likely a bit better than what his current OR of 65 says – so with a clear run he should be hard to beat in this.

Selection:
10pts win – Mansfield @ 11/8 William Hill

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6.20 Wolverhampton: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

Despite stepping up in grade this is not a tougher race, in fact at this course and distance Mr. Christopher has an excellent chance to run a big race.

He’s 3lb higher for a recent superb runner-up effort at Southwell and it remains to be see if this career best he has yet to achieve is beyond him.

However with conditions bound to suit to perfection – the wide draw must not be a concern over this CD as the stats prove – he is sure to go close as this most recent form looks strong and therefore the additional 3lb might actually underestimate what he is capable of right now in his third race after a break.

Selection: 
10pts win – Mr. Christopher @ 10/3 William Hill

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Monday Selections: December 11th 2017

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Before I go into detail what’s on the menu tomorrow – big shout out to the star that Sizing John is. On a day as bleak and freezing as it gets here in Ireland, the reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup champion lit up a fire at Punchestown this afternoon.

A re-match between Djakadam and Sizing John is was meant to be; the odds moved only one way: defeat for the Willie Mullins charge was out of question while sizing John was likely to need the run. Incredibly, he was available at 2/1 before the off!

In the end it looked the other way around. Sizing John, in hands of Robbie Power, appeared sharp and won as he pleased, whereas Djakadam, who won the John Durkan the last two years, seemingly needed the run this time round….

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3.00 Southwell: Class 5 Handicap, 1m

Mach One has notably improved since being gelded and switching stable during the summer. Going handicapping since then too, he won a Chelmsford handicap in November – form that looks rock solid, and subsequently ran an almighty race here at Southwell over a mile.

Widest draw, he was slowly away, but pushed forward to make up ground quickly and be up with the pace before the first turn. He travelled strongly into the straight and went to the front briefly, just be worn down by a closer from off the pace in the dying strides.

Taking all that into account that went against him, it is fair to say Mach One was the best horse in the race that day, with a clean break would have won probably quite easily, so a 4lb rise on the mark is potentially lenient. Even more so as that was only his second start on fibresand – often horses improve for their second outing here.

The third has franked the form subsequently, so the run and ratings should be legit. Only slight concern, if you will, is the fact Mach One moves up in class and has to fight off a better bunch of horses than the other day. For reasons mentioned and general improvement not unlikely I do not think this is a problem.

Selection:
10pts win – Mach One @ 11/2 Bet365

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3.30 Southwell: Class 6 handicap, 5f

Very First Blade hasn’t won for a very long time and gets into this race only on a long handicap. Regardless, a return to 5f at Southwell from a perfect draw and a low weight might see him finding back some form.

He still finished in January of a higher mark an agonizingly close second over CD and subsequently ran some okayish races. His return in October after small break was really poor, and he had another break since then. Maybe he’s just gone, but deserves another chance.

Eye-shields back on, decent 3lb claimer in the saddle with conditions he loves so much. Any return to form shown not too long ago will see him go close.

Selection: 
10pts win – Very First Blade @ 33/1 William Hill

Myth or Fact: Low Draw Advantage 5f Southwell?

Short days. No sunlight. Freezing temperatures. Yep, winter is coming. So here it starts also, with zero fanfare: the dull, ever the same boring racing on the sand. Racing fans in huge numbers hate the All-Weather with a passion. Well, I don’t. In fact love it.

That is a matter of opinion of course, and is nothing to debate here and now. However with the AW season kicking into top gear sooner rather than later, I want to highlight some interesting facts on everything sand racing over the next coming weeks.

The 5 Furlongs Anomaly 

Every man and his dog seems to know that the straight 5 furlongs at Southwell works heavily to the advantage of horses drawn low. By how much? And is it true? Well, that’s the question. Pure gut feeling and visual impression as an indicator certainly tells a story of “something’s there”.

What do the numbers say? If we focus on winter as the season we’re interested in, then the almighty Excel sheet back this up in impressive manner. I don’t want to throw numbers around, but let’s say over the last five winters significantly more races have been won by those drawn low over 5f at Southwell. Regardless of age, sex and race conditions.

Imagine this: if you would have backed blindly every runner in every race drawn between stall one and four during those years with a £1 stake, you would have made a profit of nearly £75. That’s a 32% return on your investment. Not too shabby!

Even more so if consider three of the past five seasons have produced a profit after all.

Now, flying blind is never a good idea, regardless. So why don’t you refine your criteria hence increase you chance of finding a winner while profiting even more from the low draw advantage?

Fly With Open Eyes

Say you won’t back any fillies and mares, because the numbers quite clearly tell females perform much worse on the All-Weather in winter against the opposite sex. Say you focus on races for older (4yo +) horses solely, because most races are held for them in winter, anyway:

You’ll increase your return of investment to a near 96%. Just like that! In fact you would have made a definite profit in any of the past five years (based on SP)!

Why is that? Why is there this huge advantage for horses drawn low over 5 furlongs at Southwell? At The Races seems to know: This (over 5f very high draws tend to be at a disadvantage) is because they are often forced to rail under the near side rail where the ground is slower.

Southwell In Comparison 

Fact is: compared to the only other All-Weather racetrack in Britain that offers a straight 5f track – Newcastle – Southwell is an anomaly. You would think that a straight track is fair and gives near equal chances to win from either a low, middle or high draw.

Granted, Newcastle has a Tapeta surface and Southwell is Fibresand, it is telling that we see there exactly that: an equal strike rate for low and high drawn horses. The middle fares slightly worse. Not significantly worse, though slightly worse. Probably because if you’re drawn high or low you will have more often than not the rail as an aid.

In Conclusion

We can say that there is certainly a bias over 5 furlongs at Southwell. This has not changed over the years and for punters this remains a great opportunity to exploit and profit from.

Refining the criteria of races you back horses in can yield in even better results. I gave you some very simple suggestions. If you want – of course – you can drill down even further and you find even more interesting facts to take into account (specific draw, head-gear…).

I do look forward to see how things pan out in the upcoming season. Keep an eye on these 5f contests. Southwell is back next Monday…. with three races over the straight course!

Our Duke bolts up in Irish National

What a monstrous performance by Our Duke in the Irish Grand National this afternoon. Sensational! This lad has the WOW factor. He was one of three on my shortlist but he was a short enough price given what he did up until now, but you have to say after this performance he actually was a huge price! well hindsight is a beautiful thing….

Anyway, Our Duke was able to track what appeared to be a pretty decent pace, took matter in his own hand from quite a way out and still had a lot left in locker when it mattered most. A potential Gold Cup horse? Absolutely!

It clearly puts the icing on the cake for the winning trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power – both teamed up only a month ago to land the Gold Cup at Cheltenham!

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2.10 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3f

A really poor race in terms of form, though some may find back to their best at a track they ran well in the past. The one most likely to do this is Bushel in my mind.

He is a course and distance winner of a much higher mark. Given he is a son of Street Cry this is no surprise as he has a tremendous record with his offspring at this track.

Bushel hasn’t been winning since 2015, however ran with credit a handful times on turf last season, suggesting he is still not as far of his best, however big marks caught him out. Putting in a couple of stinkers his mark has dropped rapidly to a lowly 57 now.

That comes as a result of 15l+ beaten fifth in a 14f Handicap at Southwell last month. However pretty much no other rival was able to cope with the very well handicapped winner either. It came also over a trip that clearly stretched him.

In fact he was assisting the pace early on and travelled pretty well for most parts but fell apart over 2f out. The drop to 11f will suit and the additional 3lb off the handicap mark will certainly help too.

Selection:
10pts win – Bushel @ 13/2 Paddy Power

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5.05 Newmarket: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

It will be interesting to see how this pans out pace wise with a split not impossible, despite only 11 runners, but I feel the low numbers are more likely to dominate and should be an ideal scenario for Majestic Hero who could be towed in to take it up when it really matters.

He won two races last year, including here at Newmarket and ran with plenty of credit in many more. His form tailed off toward the end of the season after a long campaign, though.

He clearly prefers this type of undulating tracks and acts very well on faster ground, so conditions should be ideal, A mark of 88 is fair judged on what he has achieved and if he can run to this rating here he must go very close with Jamie Spencer taking the ride as he did last year when these two teamed up to land the Newmarket race.

Jamie Spencer, often slated, is however clearly a bonus in the saddle, given there aren’t many that ride this course and distance better. Also Majestic Hero goes well fresh.

Selection:
10pts win – Majestic Hero @ 12/1 Bet365

Saturday Night’s Racing Talk

The Nakayama Grand Jump is quite something! Starting stalls, quirky fences and an idiosyncratic course layout that sees the horses constantly confronted with twists and turns – a bit like what we are used to see in the Cross-Country Chase. It certainly is a tremendous spectacle.

Today the 18th running of what is one of the richest prizes in jump racing (worth about €1 Million) took place at Nakayama Racecourse.

The race went to the red hot favourite Oju Chosan, who is currently Japan’s leading jumps horse and who defended his crown with this rather comfortable victory, winning back to back the Grand Jump.

Take a look at the race below:

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Racing on a bridge? I thought I’ve seen and heard a lot of different and interesting ideas if it comes to reinvigorating horse racing to make it attractive to a wider and younger audience. But racing on a bridge? Well, that’s new!

But yes, that’s right, the Aussies wanna race next year on the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge! This spectacle shall coincide with the world’s richest turf race, the $10 million Everest, which will be held at Randwick in October 2018.

And it won’t stop there according to Olly Neil from the English company GAG 403 who have invented a portable racetrack system that can be quickly laid and removed:

“We will create a global circuit of horse racing events with high-quality local horses thundering down iconic city streets ridden by the world’s top jockeys.”

Now, that sounds ambitious. Let’s first get this Sydney thing under way? At this stage I find it hard to believe, though the idea makes sense and sounds exciting. To say it with a famous commentators call during a game of Australia’s national sport, Aussie Rules Football: I see it, but I don’t believe it!

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5.05 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

Keith Dalgleish’s Dirty Randy is an interesting handicap debutante. He didn’t show a lot in three maidens last season which all came in quick succession, hinting connections were keen to get the runs into him to qualify for a hopefully lenient opening mark.

The Handicapper – that is fair to say – has not taken any chances and allotted Dirty Randy a rating of 60, which, for what he has done so far, is harsh. Shouldn’t the handicapper allocate marks for what horses have actually achieved without taking into account whether improvement may come in the future over different trips and surfaces?

Well, anyway, let’s focus on the race. Given Dirty Randy was never going to be a miler but more with a future over middle distance trips he might still have a fairly good chance to outrun his opening mark.

A drastic step up in trip to 12f should see him certainly in better light than in those maiden races. He hails from a successful family that generally tends to do better with age and the further they go, so it’s fair to assume Dirty Randy could develop into a decent horse.

He was never to enjoy the fast All-Weather surface at Newcastle, however his sire has shown his offspring can outrun the odds at the slower and more demanding Southwell fibresand.

So things fall right here for Dirty Randy in that sense, with trip and track likely to suit. He likely to be sharp enough on his seasonal reappearance, with cheek-pieces fitted for the first time. A fine 5lb claimer makes life a bit easier.

The Dalglish yard goes pretty well at the moment and it looks significant that Dirty Randy has two more entries for next week, which may suggest they hope for a strong run here to turn him out quickly again.

Selection:
10pts win – Dirty Randy @ 5/1 PP

Wednesday Selections

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

Three All-Weather meetings on a Wednesday – flat racing at its finest! Ah, well, not quite, I guess. But soon the proper racing on the green grass is back in all its richness. Until then we have to deal with what we got and that is low-class sand racing.

It’s still a surprisingly compelling day of racing with some interesting fields across the board at Southwell, Lingfield and Kempton. And while I try to stay away from these type of races as much as I can these days, I couldn’t help myself but find three horses to back:

2.30 Southwell

Comprise looks a fair favourite and is likely hard to beat if anywhere near full race fitness which looks assured with Spencer coming to Southwell for this single ride. But there is at least a small question mark on that front as well as whether the gelding has wintered well.

Hungarian Rhapsody will enjoy the step up in trip after running well the last too times when fancied in the betting. But newcomer Bowed Not Broken looks value at 11/2 in a race where only these three horses appear to be in with a realistic chance.

The daughter of classy sprinter Casper Netscher has the assistance of the excellent Martin Harley in the saddle, while the Burke yard goes strongly recently and did well in the past in these type of races here. It also looks significant that a hood is fitted for the first time.

Selection: 
10pts win – Bowed Not Broken @ 11/2 Sky

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3.50 Lingfield

Muthraab Aldaar has been treated leniently by the handicapper despite a massively eye-catching return after a seasonal break last month at Kempton. He broke very badly that day, was still last with two furlongs to go but made incredible headway marching through the whole field to finish what looked moments before an unlikely runner-up.

He should come on for the run and given he is down to a career lowest rating after having been put up way too high as a three year old after a maiden success he’s here a huge chance in my book.

The trip is a slight worry because he stays a good deal further and Lingfield is a speedy track, but with so many things on the plus side he looks a good thing at tasty odds.

Selection:
10 pts win – Muthraab Aldaar @ 5/1 PP

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6.55 Kempton

Those with race experience seem vulnerable so chance is taken with well bred newcomer Altyn Alqa. The filly favours well in the weights and has a fine draw to start off her career in a very winnable race.

The Cox yard didn’t have many runners lately but those send out ran extremely well. Furthermore Clieve Cox did well in these Kempton maidens and can get them ready for their debut Luke Morris in the saddle rides this track and trip quite well too.

Selection:
10pts win – Altyn Alqa @ 9/2 Bet365

Al Khan can land Suthwell Feature

Wet Dundalk Polytrack

1.40 Southwell: Class 3 Handicap, 7f

A quite intriguing contest with a handful of course and distance scorer. It’s easy to see why Westwood Hoe is well fancied though, given he overcame some trouble in a better class over CD three weeks ago. He’s certainly well treated off only 2lb higher today.

Certificate also scored when last time seen, then at Lingfield. He’s trying the fibresand for the first time and that is always a concern but if he handles it he must have a serious shot in this race.

Previous course and distance winners Philba and Showboating can’t be discounted. The former one in particular is progressive on the fibresand and has the advantage of a low weight.

No love in the betting for top weight Al Khan, although he’s also has been successful at Southwell in the past. However the gelding is 5lb above his last winning mark, but managed a head-beaten runner-up effort in a hot Ayr Handicap off his current rating back in September.

Since then Al Khan was largely a disappointment, result wise even though he was never far beaten. When last seen at Lingfield he finished well from an impossible position, suggesting he might be in better form than bare results suggest.

A return to the fibresand may well help him to turn things around. From a good draw he should be able to track the pace which I expect to be red hot, which should suit him perfectly.

Al Khan @ 12/1 William Hill – 5pts Win