This could be the right opportunity for 9-year-old Secretfact to strike again. I have been waiting for the right conditions for the veteran sprinter ever since his interesting comeback run at Bath in April when he shaped a lot better than the 7/7 result.
He followed up with a number of solid performances, even though things didn’t always go his way, including in a strong front-running CD run last month off a 5lb higher mark than today.
His most recent 4th place finish at Bath has once again confirmed his wellbeing. On ground too slow he had to do all the donkey work from the front but only went down fighting in the final furlong.
He dropped another couple of pounds in his rating today. Clearly he’s on a dangerous mark, especially on fast ground. I hope the warm weather helps to make the ground even firmer come race day. The faster the better for him.
This is a competitive race. Others are dangerous too. I do have slight concerns that the ground won’t be quite fast enough eventually. it’s a risk to take given he’s a CD winner, proven wellbeing, ran well the last few weeks, has a top jockey on board and looks overpriced here.
10pts win – Secretfact @ 11/2
8.25 Haydock: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Kraken Power is really well handicapped today if on a going day after dropping another couple of pounds in the ratings. He caught my eye at Ayr four weeks ago when he made a big move mid-race on the outside. He couldn’t sustain the effort but it was the sort of spark needed to imagine he can win a race again.
He ran better than the bare on his seasonal reappearance at Thirsk. You can discount the most recent Hamilton run. There was no pace early on, he got a bit bumped or at very least found himself in a tight spot on the rails soon after the start, was lit up and as a consequence too keen in soft conditions.
The drying good to soft ground today shouldn’t be an issue. He’s drawn wide but close to possible pace setters, which should give him an ideal scenario to launch his move in the closing stages.
William Buick booked for the ride is eyecatching too. He’s 3/3 for Jim Goldie in 2021/22. Kraken Power has talent – he was rated as high as 86, was placed in good races of 82 last season, as well as ran to topspeed 80. With that mind mind, he is seriously overpriced today.
It’s bank holiday here in Ireland and I am looking to one of the big Handicaps at the Curragh to sweeten the day with winner.
4.40 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7f
Normally, these competitive Handicaps with tons of runners wouldn’t be quite my cup of tea, I have to admit. However, I can’t look past the potentially well handicapped No Patience here.
He was a massive eye-catcher last month in a similarly hot Handicap at the Curragh, then over 6 furlongs. It was his first run since February and for the John C McConnell yard over a trip possibly a touch too sharp these days.
That race was utter carnage and you could pick out a number of unlucky horses. No Patience showed good early speed, then settled in midfield of the main pack on the stands’ side. He was shuffled back from three furlongs out and boxed in without the option to improve his position until about half a furlong from home when he ran on strongly under an easy ride.
He finished really well, proving his wellbeing and you would hope he can improve from the run now stepping up to an ideal 7 furlongs again.
He’s down to a sexy mark of 59 now, given he won of 65 over 7 furlongs at Dundalk last April, ran a good race in a hot Leopardstown Handicap last September from 11lb higher than he’s rated today, and achieved a 71 topspeed rating in the past.
Apprentice Cillian McConnell claims valuable 4lb – it’s the cherry on the cake. He’s riding really well over the last number of weeks and months, albeit with a limited number of rides lately.
There are a few solid dangers in the field but the biggest danger is no getting a clear run. Drawn in stall one is probably not ideal. Patience will be key. If No Patience gets a run for home, he’ll be a big chance, regardless, I reckon. He’s simply so well handicapped now.
A mouthwatering prospect. The champion two-year-old versus the ante-post Derby favourite. But there’s more to it. A number of highly promising colts line up for the first Classic of the new flat season.
#1 – Berkshire Shadow: won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Found out in the Dewhurst Stakes. Dwelt in majority of his races. I am not sold on the mile trip.
#2 – Boundless Ocean: won a maiden earlier this month, albeit over 10 furlongs. Most likely has a future beyond a mile.
#3 – Checkandchallenge: fine winner of the Listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle recently. Has more to offer on only his third run. Proven match fitness. Has loads to find on topspeed ratings, though.
#4 – Coroebus: a lot of hype about him. Justified? We’ll see. Won the Group 3 Autumn Stakes when last seen. Possibly unlucky in Royal Lodge Stakes. Achieved fine 91 and 96 topspeed ratings. My feeling is he’ll be much better beyond a mile. Course form is a big plus.
#5 – Dubawi Legend: quite experienced with 4 lifetime starts. Dewhurst runner-up. Failed to land a blow at the Breeders Cup. Needs to settle to have a chance over a mile. Tongue-tie fitted for the first time.
#6 – Eydon: race fitness assured after two runs this season. Impressive runaway winner of the Feilden Stakes three weeks ago. May need more of a stamina test when racing at the highest level. Low topspeed ratings are a question mark.
#7 – Light Infantry: unbeaten in two runs as a juvenile, including Group 3 over 7 furlongs. Open to improvement but needs to find loads of it to feature.
#8 – Lusail: precocious as a 2-year-old. Twice Group 2 winner over six furlongs. Fine runner-up in the Geenham Stakes on seasonal reappearance. Questionable stayer.
#9 – Luxembuorg: unbeaten top-class juvenile. Impressive winner of the Beresford Stakes and Grade 1 Futurity Trophy. Already ran to 100 and 102 topspeed ratings. He’s the Derby favourite. Most likely his optimum trip lies beyond a mile. Race fitness and whether he has the speed on fast ground over a mile against the very best are key questions.
#10 – Native Trail: unbeaten champion two-year-old. Impressive Dewhurst winner and excellent successful seasonal reappearance in the Craven Stakes recently. Sets the standard on form. Consistently fast and high-class performances. Ran three times to topspeed 100.
#11 – Perfect Power: two-times Group 1 winner as a juvenile, including the Middle Park. Brilliant comeback run in the Greenham. Achieved highest topspeed rating in this field (105). Stamina is a concern. He looks like a sprinter. 7 furlongs could be the maximum.
#12 – Point Lonsdale: experienced and progressive juvenile. Won four of five last year, only beaten by Native Trail in the National Stakes. Should improve for going up in trip. Career-highest 90 TS means he has a bit to find at this stage.
#13 – Royal Patronage: ran down Coroebus in the Royal Lodge last year. Possible excuses in Futurity Stakes. Should have more to offer, albeit likely needs a longer trip. Could make this a stamina test to suit himself if going hard from the front.
#14 – Tacarib Bay: only win came in a maiden in three starts. Solid runner-up in the European Free Handicap. Could improve if he stays the additional furlong. Has tons to find with better fancied horses, though.
#15 – The Wizard Of Eye: some solid runs in defeat in Group races but ultimately not good enough even on Group 3 level. Impossible to fancy.
I may eat my words in a few hours time if I say this: this edition of the 2000 Guineas is a two-horse race.
Native Trail and Luxembourg should lead the way home. Saying that the X-factor could be Perfect Power. If the pace is somehow slow enough for the race to become a sprint home and/or he truly stays the trip no matter what, he’s obviously highly dangerous.
What a about Coroebus? I don’t buy the hype (yet). Charlie Appleby’s second string is obviously a talented colt. But I reckon he will be a much better horse over 10 furlongs (being fully aware there are contrasting opinions available).
In theory the same could be said about Luxembourg. There is a major difference, though: Coroebus didn’t crack the 100 topspeed barrier last year. He has the potential, I’m sure about it. Yet, he didn’t do it last year and with the question mark whether the mile truly brings out the best in him, he slips down the packing order for me.
Perfect Power is most likely the fastest horse in the race. Judged on juvenile form he certainly is, in fact. As much as I adore this colt, he looks a sprinter to my eyes, nonetheless.
A good case can be made for Point Lonsdale to be competitive. Despite ample racing experience as a juvenile, I feel he can still improve this season. Especially tackling the mile trip. Whether he is quite in the category of the market principles is hard to know at this stage.
On paper there is not much between Native Trail and Luxembourg. What speaks for the Godolphin horse is match fitness and that he encounters perhaps his ideal scenario: 8 furlongs, Rowley Mile. I agree with the market in so far as he’s the most likely winner.
And yet I feel Luxembourg is the much stronger bet with more upside. He had two runs less than native Trail last year and comes fresh to Newmarket. The factors experience and race fitness count against him, but are possibly overrepresented in his price.
The other factor that drives his price is the notion that he’s the Derby favourite and as a son of Camelot sure to do his best work beyond the mile trip. Nonetheless, Luxembourg was mightily impressive over a mile in his three lifetime starts.
He also achieved topspeed ratings that match Native Trail. In fact his Beresford Stakes victory earned him a 102 TS rating, which is better than Native Trail’s best of 100. It’s fair to say there is every possibility Native Trail can run much faster when needed, of course. The same can be said about Luxembourg as well.
Watch the replay of the Curragh race and you see a horse as green as the Irish grass in spring. Luxembourg followed up in the Futurity Stakes. He quickened nicely in soft ground on the outside of the field despite racing without cover for the most part, and held the challengers with ease in the closing stages.
I am pretty certain Luxembourg is the most talented horse in this field. The only question mark is how much have team Ballydoyle left to work with the Derby probably the key target. I am prepared to take the risk.
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:
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!
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 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.
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.
Analysing horse racing is a lot of fun but also exhausting. What would I do without a good cup of coffee? This site would probably not exist. If you enjoy the content I’ll genuinely appreciate if you buy me a coffee. 🙂