This ‘Weekly Diary’ covers the last two weeks and an update on 2016 to date,as usual…
Big Race Previews: 25 bets / 2 wins / 4 w|p / +10 points
Other: 2 bets / 0 wins / 0 places / -3 points
Total: 27 bets / 2 wins / 4 w|p / +7 points
March Running Total: 31 bets / 2 wins / 4 w|p / +2.5 points
2016 Running Total: 95 bets / 19 wins / 31 w|p / +116.375 points
March Trainers: 2/9 = +3.4 points
Jumps Handicappers: 1/12 = -11.8 points
Other: 1/6 = +7 points
Total: 4/27 = -1.4 points
March Running Total: 7/49 = -2.9 points
2016 Running Total: 29/189 = -11.9 points
Not too much to say when reflecting on those results. I am obviously delighted with the level of profit for the tips to date, which is what it is all about. I will keep doing my best and aim to add to that pot. It has been a decent jumps season to date and hopefully the final few weeks will be kind to us. We then have the fun of 20+ runner sprint handicaps to look forward to and the tasty 20/1+ EW bets that come with those.
The micro systems have had a quiet start to the year but are only a handful of winners away from bouncing back into profit. They will have highs and lows, much like my tipping, but there will be the odd period where lots of profits are made – and as yet we haven’t had one of those.
CHELTENHAM: SOME REFLECTIONS
Plenty of positives and a few learning points from Cheltenham 2016. A slight feeling of what could have been – probably one more winner away from being in a ‘content,happy place’ with my effort. But, we made 8.5 points on the week which is not to be sniffed at and I am sure that is better than some others in the online world performed – and of course it will be worse than many others also.
As you may be aware, my drive is a desire to ‘solve the puzzle’ – to test myself and to try and be right. Cheltenham is the greatest puzzle, especially when it comes to the handicaps, and it is a challenge I relish. I did ok, but there were a couple more puzzles that were very nearly solved...
As touched on previously there were three winners that I felt genuinely got away and that could have been tipped. 1. David Pipes handicap chase winner, 16/1. He was on the ‘profile shortlist’, was a qualifier for my David Pipe micro angle, and ran in a race where the Pipe’s had a decent enough record. In reality that should have been enough but I got too clever and put too much thought into the horse. The second was the winner of The Pertemps at 20/1 – he was in the profile shortlist of 5, but I went for two others. Ouch. What should have made him a tip? Well, ignoring the horse, he was ridden by Davy Russell. End of story really, that should have been enough! (oh, and he did finish in-front of one of my tips LTO also- Doh!) And finally – Ibis Du Rheu – 20/1>14/1 – what a numpty – Nicholls had three qualifiers for his micro angle in this, and I ‘tipped’ up the other two. I should have put 1/2 point on each, and it would have been a +17.5 point week.
Well from those three winners alone there are a few things to improve on. Don’t second guess the Pipe’s, especially in races where they have a good record/system selection! And that is a general point – if you have a shortlist and on that list includes a horse/horses from trainers with a decent race record, clearly mark them up. Don’t over-think the horse – that is another point – trying to read the form of the horses is arguably less important with my approach – the race profile/stats and trainer record should be the first major considerations (relevant for Ibis Du Rheu as well) – and jockey. That point gets onto Davy Russell and he had another brilliant festival.(the odd ‘questionable ride where he may have waited too long,and I would have liked to see him get after Don Poli sooner,but maybe that was as quick as he would go) I will do more research on jockeys next year – but if he is booked on one that is prominent on my shortlist,it will be foolish to leave it un-backed/tipped I think. Gordon Elliot is clearly a man to be feared from now on and forever more – always assume his are well handicapped,even if they do not appear to be! 🙂 (esp when they are ‘progressing’)
But, having said that, the fact that those winners were within touching distance should be seen as a positive. The race stats/profiles worked in general, with the majority of winners being on ‘the shortlist’ – the profiles were effective at knocking out at least half the field in most cases. The final winner of the meeting – Solar Impulse 33/1 – was on the ‘shortlist’ of 12 for the race – he fell down on a few other stats I used to narrow it down further – but, Nicholls had a great record in the race,his chasers had been running ok,he was clearly in form and he stuck blinkers on for the first time. That thinking alone could have led to him being a bet,esp in the context of his price. The trainer micro angles worked quite well, especially for Pipe and Nicholls this year. So, that is something else to look forward to next year.
It was another year where many favs/second favs and short priced horses romped to victory. That is worth reflecting on and as I have said before I need to work on my approach to the top end of the market. There were a few worthy ‘short priced’ horses/favs that could have been more actively considered – especially those wearing green and hold. Cause of Causes and On The Fringe (were 6/1 and 11/4 well backed) would be near the top of that list. However, there will be Festivals where a lot of winners return at over 12/1, and I can’t think the top of the market will always dominate – but who knows.
Dan Skelton gave an informative post race interview following his first Festival winner. He rammed home the point about how dominant Cheltenham now is in the thinking of trainers and connections. Maybe I underestimated that a tad, but it is clear that for the likes of team Skelton and many others, Cheltenham is forefront of the mind before the season starts. For him – clearly days rest is not a problem. His winner demonstrated that he can get them ready and that should never be an off-putting factor moving forward. I don’t mean in terms of fitness (we know he can get them fit at home)- but that winner showed he could ensure they turn up ready to run their best, to not be keen, fresh and pull etc. Maybe that ‘one run before Christmas, and saved for The Festival’, will become the norm for him. A lot of his ran really well. One to watch next year.
So, it isn’t far fetched to suggest that without too much more work, and a bit more in-depth thought about the trainer/micro systems/jockey we could have had +50-90 points more to add to the pot. That’s frustrating,but exciting for the future. I am confident my approach,(which was new/more in depth than before,stats wise) especially when shortlisting, works fairly well. At the same time, I have to accept that I will get it wrong more than I get it right – that is the nature of the odds I play at and how competitive the racing is. There is an argument, especially if I can get to a ‘confident’ shortlist of 4,for backing the lot as well. But, one or two more winners would have been brilliant. Something to build on.
I have focused on the 3m+ chases ran at the Festival for this section…
Kruzhlinin – he ran an eye catching race in the opening 3m+ handicap chase. He was going well for a long way, up with the pace, before trying to take the 4th from home with him. That ended any chance and was given time to recover. He came here having had 66 days off and the Hobbs’ horse were a bit in and out during the week. It looks like he may need some cut, so the ground may not have been ideal (don’t think there was any soft in it from the start) – He also looks best in small fields – handicaps – he is 7/13,10 places with 11 runners or fewer, 0/7,1 place 12+. He ran as if an in form horse and this mark still looks within range. Maybe Hobbs will send him to Aintree to the 3m handicap chase he has won a few times from memory in recent years. (haven’t checked conditions and whether he would get in) One to keep onside.
Double Ross– he has been in the tracker for some time. He ran very well for a long way here, but he is no 3m+ horse, esp at this track and in a big field like this. All winning form is at 2m5f or below, and he is now 0/12,2 places when running beyond this. A fast run 2m5f may be right up his street. He is clearly in form. I am not sure if he is well handicapped but he has some class, and I am sure NTD may find something for him in the spring. Clearly he isn’t getting any younger.
Morning Assembly – many people’s fancy for this race he ran really well – and would have been a good third were it not for failing to see out the last 1f up this hill, to my eye at least. I didn’t know if he was well handicapped or not here, but this run suggests that he can win a handicap from this mark. He has some class. It was a good run. 3m may be as far as he wants to go. Interestingly he is 4/6,5 places at Punchestown and I assume there is a 3m handicap chase or something that he can go for there. The rest of the field also happened to bump into two classy, very well handicapped horses here.
Southfield Royale – was tipped by me and ran well enough in this. He was ridden very wide all the way round and that would not have helped come the end. He must have lost an awful lot of ground. He is also only a 6yo but he jumps well (esp LH) and clearly has some engine, and is highly regarded. I would be tempted to save him for next year if I was lucky enough to own him as that was a hard race, and one more this season may not help him long term. But, it will be interesting to see where he turns up. It is hard to know whether he got the trip, because of how far he went wide. He will be a smart 3m+ handicap chaser.
Vicente – ran a cracker for Nicholls in the same race, travelling well for a long way. He is only a 7yo, 3/7 over fences. Maybe this trip stretched him (seemed to slow markedly after 3rd last,before keeping on) a bit but he kept up to his work all the way to the line. He also came here after quite a break. There is more to come from him around 3m I suspect, and maybe in time he will get further.
Amigo – ran a fine race in the Kim Muir after a very lengthy break. He pushed the pace hard for most of the way and kicked for home a long way out, and still managed to plug on for 5th. He is 0/9,3 places now over fences in the UK and ran a fine race in last year’s Scottish National. I wonder if that is the target again this year. He ran like an in-form horse and he could be hard to peg back in a ‘normal’ handicap chase – jumped well. Likewise his stablemate, TopWood, who I have failed to get right this year, was going really well before falling a few from home. (still some way to go) but again was running like an inform horse who may not be done with yet this season.
Silvergrove – ran a cracker for Ben Pauling – most of his did him proud during the week – He was up there with the pace for most of the way also – his jockey deciding to sit off Amigo going over the last few – or he just couldn’t match strides. The winner was a ‘good thing’ in this, very well in, (easy for me to say after,having not backed him!) but he plugged on well and ran like a horse who could win from this mark. Whereas Amigo tired (lack of run may have caught up with him) he kept going, having been up there the whole way. He is a dangerous horse to let loose on the front end and is clearly still going the right way.
A Good Skin – well him and Silvergrove came a very close 1st and 2nd at Kempton in the race before this, and repeated that form here. Like at Kempton, A Good Skin came from further back here, and this was a good run. There was a good gap back to the rest here, and this race could work out ok. Maybe they will look for something at Perth, where I believe Tom George likes to have winners. He has a decent handicap chase in him somewhere and looks better than a c3 animal. He has generally run well this season. His running style suggests he needs some pace to aim at. Maybe Aintree for him also.
Those are the ones that caught my eye, that I know will turn up in chases that I like playing in. If there are any others, in the hurdle races etc, that caught your eye, then do share your thoughts in the comments.
The Flat isn’t too far away…
Well I usually like to put up something for you stats types (of which I am one, if you hadn’t guessed). I am working on a new publication for the flat season: Trainer Track Profiles: Flat 2016. A quick reference guide for relevant trainer/jockey stats. They will look at the last 3 complete seasons and I have gone with the ‘less is more’ approach. Anyway, each track will have one trainer based micro system, and below is the one for Beverley…
TRAINER MICRO SYSTEM (Handicaps)
- Mark Johnston
- 1m2f (10f) or further
- Top 6 LTO
- Any odds
A solid approach for Johnston’s handicappers at the track. As you can see he has been very consistent over the last 3 seasons. Those that finished 7th or worse last time out are 0/16, 1 place. For now I am happy to leave those alone. The figures above do include one horse who refused to race – clearly that is a rarity. A decent angle to add to your portfolio.
Right, that is all from this week’s offering.