My Racing Week: 02/11/15

It was about time I added a weekly offering of ramblings so this is the first attempt. This will hopefully become a weekly post (on a Monday or Tuesday) whereby I look back on the previous week. I anticipate these posts will be a mixture of ‘eye-catchers’ (namely chasers), some stats of interest that I may have come across (or that are saved in my HRB accounts that I have long forgotten about) and some opinion. Life would be dull without some opinions. I will also reflect on my own punting performance, looking at what went right, what went wrong and what I can learn for the future.

So, hopefully something of use for the future and something ‘entertaining’ to read. As always your opinions are welcome. Whether you disagree, agree, have thoughts of your own on any topic/section, all are welcome…

Let’s get started…(they wont be this long every week!..maybe..)

Time for some Lasix…

I like watching the big American meetings, not that I can ‘get into them’ from a betting perspective. Not seriously anyway. Maybe one day. The Breeders Cup meeting was enjoyable as much as it was a non-betting event for me. But, one thing is for sure, that American commentator (the one through ATR) could have done with some performance enhancing drugs of his own. Just awful. His call for the horse of a generation, and most of the other races, was abysmal. A bad commentator can strip the excitement away from a race- and likewise a brilliant one can bring a race to life and lodge it firmly in the memory. 

I don’t care much for the American approach to racing. I suppose there is a health benefit of Lasix during a race (stops bleeding?) and in truth I have no idea whether it affects a horse’s health in the short-term or long term. One thing is for sure is that a Dirt surface does. I did get this from ‘Big Mac’ but apparently the ratio of injuries on dirt is far worse than on other surfaces. That makes me uncomfortable. As does the flogging to death of horses. Nothing worse than seeing a whip being used with a ‘windmill’ action. Bastads. I for one am glad we have the rules over here that we do. The animal must come first and whether it hurts them or not, there is something unpleasant watching a horse being flogged, especially when given no time to respond. 

Honourable member of the Chapman/Spencer/ fan club…

I have been wanting to write something about Jamie Spencer for a while. I think he is a brilliant jockey (so far as my armchair judgement stretches). If I was lucky enough to own horses and one in a straight course handicap, he would be the first jock I would call up. A master of his art. Guess what? He get’s it wrong sometimes. He has a well known approach – he has always said he likes to settle a horse (esp big fields), get it breathing, and get it into a rhythm so that it can finish strong. Sometimes he gets the timing wrong, runs into traffic, and loses in a photo. But, he gets it right often enough. That’s racing. 

There is nothing much more irritating that the ‘twitter keyboard warriors’ moaning through their pocket about a ‘poor’ ride – not just moaning, but hatred. Of course there are crap rides – we all have backed horses where we think the jockey cost us. But, guess what..we also back plenty of winners, where we may benefit from a misjudgement in behind. Life is too short to get wound up about such things. It all evens out in the end. And if a bad ride really gets to you, ruins your day, and you feel rather angry – I would politely suggest you are betting too much. 

Finally…Matt Chapman should be on Channel 4 racing in some capacity. A brilliant broadcaster and when he is out and about roaming the track, or sat in the studio, I always find myself smiling or shaking my head. He says what he thinks, in a way that is engaging and entertaining, and for that our sport is a better place. He is like marmite, like the best broadcasters. (I like Clarkson,who is repugnant to many) There is definitely room for him in the mainstream, a perfect foil for the super smooth and quite superb Nick Luck. 


Cue Card is back! Brilliant. The Tizzards did tell anyone that would listen – I wasnt one of them! He will add a whole new dimension to the big chases this year, especially if able to dominate around the flatter tracks. His jumping is breath-taking. We are entering a golden age of chasers. Many Clouds, Coneygree,Cue Card,Don Cossack, Silviniaco Conti,Road to Riches, + the Mullins battalions, a scattering from the Pipes, and some more progressive Nicholls chasers no doubt, and many I have probably forgotten. The next couple of years are going to be immense. Let’s hope they all stay sound. 



These will invariably focus on chasers, some unexposed, some more exposed who may have caught my eye. Also I will throw in any ‘profile horses’ that crop up as well. I wont be highlighting a novice hurdler who hacked up by 20 lengths and telling you they could be ‘really smart, one to look out for next time’. Not my bag. 

Vintage Star 

I will get onto my week of ‘bottling it’ shortly..but I should have tipped this horse yesterday. I was as confident as I could be in the notes within the members report, without having the guts to put my head above the parapet. 7s was silly given his record fresh, his touch of class and his reduced mark. He was backed into 7/2 and hacked up. 

So, for the future, his record fresh (121-365 days) is now 3/5, 5 places. He won here off OR133 and has run well up to 141. He is an eye catcher in the sense that in the last two seasons he has ran well on his second start as well. He is 3/7, 7 places C2 <£20k or below, 0/11, 4 places in C2 £20k+ or above. He has placed in some graded races. He is a decent jumper and a galloper, the stiffer the track the better I think. Maybe he has done his winning for the year, and his price may be prohibitive next time out, but depending on the race conditions, I would be weary about taking him on. 

Son of Suzie 

He ran in the same race at Vintage Star. He caught my eye pre race as he is still unexposed as a chaser. He was also well backed from 8/1 into 4/1. Whether he found this test a bit too stiff and/or his lack of a recent run caught up with him I don’t know. But, in general he jumped well and travelled well, looking dangerous a few fences from home. He just didnt pick up. 24f somewhere may be his thing. The jury is still out on his ground preference but his is 2/3 on heavy, from his novice days. Maybe this ground was a bit too lively. He is now 0/7, 0 places on Good- Good to Soft. One to keep onside. No world beater but his canny trainer will get some wins out of him no doubt. 

Pearls Legend

What a run at Ascot. This race was won by a horse that came of the pace suggesting it was well run. In those situations you want to see if any of the pace setters stayed there near the end. That can be a good sign. This horse likes to lead, and he tried his best here – leading at times, tracking at others. They looked to go some pace and he got racing a long way out. He was sent for home a long way out too. This took its toll after the last, but he kept on battling away. This was also his first run after a break and he may come on for it. His jumping was brilliant and this performance indicated to me that he is one to keep onside. Those he was pace setting with faded away tamely while he stayed right in there. He has an unfashionable trainer which will always make his price a tad bigger than it should be. 

Chasing: he is 0/6, 3 places LH, 2/8, 6 places RH. 2/9, 7 places 16f only. 0/5, 2 places beyond so far. None of those stats are conclusive. Seems to go on most going, is 3/6 on soft. If he is the only front runner in a race I would be interested. It looks like he can win from this mark and with his jumping we should get a run for our money.

What A Warrior

He falls into a similar category to Pearls Legend. He was unable to lead by himself but didnt half try to. He seemed to be racing with another pace setter from the off and I was shocked to see him still in there pitching near the end. The fact Pendra won just sitting behind them suggests they maybe didnt kill themselves out in front entirely, but it was a brave effort and marks him down as another front runner to follow. His jumping was superb as well. Skelton did say this was his Gold Cup – he needs good ground – (2/6, 5 places Good… 0/9, 1 place any juice). So, again, he may find a race soon, or it may be a case of waiting until the spring. But, that was a great run and proved he has a few wins left in him yet. He is 2/6 RH, 0/9, 2 places LH over fences to date also. 

Double Ross/ Forgotten Gold…

Both will have caught a lot of people’s attention. The former flew home in What A Warriors race from quite far back. I can’t tell if that looked impressive because others were tiring, or he was quickening up and out staying them all. He gets 2m5f around Cheltenham – so he could well get 3m at other tracks. He has a touch of class and I wonder what the plan will be with him. The way he finished suggests he could be a long distance national type somewhere – but, to date I would be uncertain as to his stamina. He has won in small fields as well. It is a conundrum as to exactly what he wants, but he is clearly in form, and worth a second glance in his next few starts. 

Forgotten Gold dotted up at Wincanton and will be no price next time out. I am not sure what he beat there really but he couldnt have been anymore impressive. Last season was a write off for some reason and they clearly have him back to something like his best. His jumping was superb and he just kept going. He clearly stays well and this could be a springboard to much better things. He seems versatile and while he may be no price to back next time, you may well need to make a compelling case to take him on. He could have any amount of improvement in him on this showing. 


Stats The Way To Do It…

-Nicky Richards improved his impressive record at Carlisle with his handicap hurdlers with a 12/1 winner yesterday. That is now 7/20 odd since 2010. Stats guide users found him pretty easily and I know some of you were on. 

If you have still to get your guide you can do so at the link in the comments box below. 

-Sue Smith Chasers…Vintage Star improved her record at Carlisle since 2010..

  • Carlisle
  • Handicap Chase (NOT Novice Handicaps etc)
  • November to April
  • 12/1 or under

37 bets / 11 wins / 19 places / +45 SP (lots more at morning prices no doubt) 



Must Do Better 

I have started a review post looking at October- the monthly micro systems did well again, about +25. I will also write a brief post reviewing the year, as it has been nearly 12 months since I started blogging ‘properly’ with advised stakes etc and the like. It has been a decent year, but I could do better…

The performance of my ‘tips’ and shortlisted horses in October wasnt great. I need to go through the figures but the month just about wiped its face, no damage done. But, while my judgement on handicap chases has been ok, (without necessarily picking the winners) I did bottle it twice last week, so apologies. When ‘tipping’ in public you can doubt yourself when you have a few losers etc. I fancied Wakander last week and thought 8s was too big. He was backed and he won. I knew pre race I should have tipped him but didnt. The same can be said for Vintage Star – again I knew I should have tipped him pre race (not a ‘with hindsight’ thought this time). I also bottled  putting up two in a handicap hurdle from Southwell a couple of weeks ago, that came 1st and 2nd at 12/1 and 10/1. They should have been on the shortlist. (from that stats guide again!) So, plenty to improve on. Decision making/confidence can always be worked on. Getting staking wrong is frustrating as will be clear when I go back through the year. There have been numerous double figure winners where I have backed them 1/2 EW rather than having at least 1 full point on the win side. I think that has cost me in excess of 50+ points in the last 12 months. So,  a few things to work on..


Any comments and thoughts are always welcome. Fire away. (if you despise Spencer and Chapman, don’t be shy 🙂 ) 


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Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

12 Responses

  1. Hi Josh – good article and a fair reflection – Wetherby was an excellent meeting with Cue Card taking the honours 4/1 with Hills seemed generous. Kilcooley was very impressive Ruby looked pretty straight but maybe the 3 miles on very soft caught him out. Noel Fehily is excellent and maybe a shade unlucky to ride just the 3 winners you want him on your side this winter.

    1. Cheers Joe – Yes CC did make 4s look generous and well done if you got that. Yep – Kilcooley may have been too impressive? He clearly relished the step up and that could have been a very good performance- interesting to track moving forward, clearly likes it soft as well. Yep spot on about Fehily, def in top 5 riders I think. Blessed with talent in the top ranks – nice to see Brennan with a big win as well, assume he will stay with CC all season now.

  2. Thanks for the November ‘mini system’ write up, and your comment about 24 hours. If I got the selections correct.David Pipe had a 12/1 and 16/1, both 2nd. Venetia had a 12/1 winner and Clive Cox banged in a 5/1 shot at Saint Cloud, and that lot out of 7 qualifiers. Luvly stuff.
    I met Big Mac once at Walthamstow where he was a guest of the Chandlers at a dinner given in honour of my Mother in Law. Out of the spotlight he is a really likeable guy. The TV persona is just that, a caricature put on for show.

    1. No problem Roger- yes i think you have that right – i didnt track Pipe’s on the Sat, 16/1 drifted late but price with his is only a guide, and I had a nibble. Yes Venetia delivered the goods and that is a positive sign for the next few weeks hopefully. Yep I did see the Cox winner, I missed that, but hopefully another positive sign for this month- think he had an AW winner a few days ago as well, so all signs are good. Yes get impression Big Mac is decent chap, he is entertaining and opinionated which is great.

  3. Congratulations with Mac Gregory @16/1 – I bottled it and Zama Zama! But Port Melon was my nap @ 9/2 and I did Itsnowcato/Helium/Upbeat Cobbler/Dragon City as well, with eight losers for an extraordinary day.
    I’m a bit like yourself in that I could do even better if my nerve would hold but I undermine myself.
    I find your blogging really useful and am glad that you’ve started these weekly pieces.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly about Matt C.- as able a broadcaster as you could wish for, and he’d jazz up C4’s output and have widespread appeal, I think. They need him with their falling viewers.

    1. Cheers Chris – and well done with that pile of winners – I was surprised to see such a battling performance from old Zama Zama – good placing by his trainer. Yes Mac Gregory was brilliant and a much needed decent start to the month – when backing at a price there will be plenty of losers – results will improve if I just make sure I have 1 point on the win side of all bets, and I just have to be confident that over time the results will come, as has been the case in the last 12 months.

      Yes, I, and I am sure anyone who reads, will be interested to see how my ‘eye catchers’ go – will be nice to track a few. Yes C4 need to do something – just all gone a bit bland and beige really.

  4. Good informative read Josh and well done with Mac Gregory today.And your talk of bottling it made me think of Saturday as i went to Ascot and had a good day where i had 3 winners and bought N.Fehily on the spreads at Wetherby but was given two horses by a good source but thought no I’ve had enough bets myself today so left them alone……………..they were Pendra and Cue Card

    1. Thanks Tony. Yep,that final decision making is the crux. Can be hard to blank out losers/losing runs when posting up tips etc and can affect decision making and approach. But,as with today,must be confident winners will come. And October is usually challenging.

  5. The past 3 weeks have certainly been challenging but thought Saturday (horses) and Sunday (football) bought shirts,match performance and goals on Everton v Sunderland match were the turning points but then bang brought firmly back down to earth with a disaster day today.Love this game though Josh and certainly teaches you many things plus days and weeks arent important its the years accounts that matter

  6. Hi Josh, good article and I agree with you to some extent about Matt Chapman but he does need an edit button sometimes.

    When it comes to Spencer I won’t go near him on a 2yo, particularly a debutant. He seems totally incapable of adjusting his style to the requirements of a first time out 2yo. In most cases in 2yo races up to 7f the winner comes from the first 2 or 3 at halfway. If they are held up at the back until 2f out they are being asked to do something they have not yet learnt to do.

    It would be interesting if you could interrogate HRB to see how his record on 2yo debutants compares with his rides on the 2to onwards 2yo runners.

    Occasionally he appears to ride a blinder on a debutant but almost always this is because they have gone a suicidal pace early on and he has got lucky.

    I am not a knocker of him on older handicappers that suit his style but do think that he massively over-uses his hold up style.


    1. Hi Hugh, thanks – yes all good points well made. Agree that sometimes Matt C can go OTT, suppose that is his nature and if he ever went mainstream he made need to edit himself at times! But, overall I would rather listen to him than not.

      Good points about Spencer – and actually given how he is why he rides like he does, that approach on 2yos is no surprise. He is a horseman first and he does care about the animal – i should think his first though is to teach them how to race, he may not care much for winning – would be interesting which connections use him and for what purpose – I would suspect the horses may benefit from a Spencer ride longer term – but am just thinking out loud there, no data etc.

      Yes he can over do it, and read the pace wrong every now and then – but at least as punters we know what we are going to get in those races, and up to us to judge whether odds allow the chance etc. Hostage to fortune with traffic etc as well. He is also very good from the front let’s not forget as well.

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