Monthly Archives: March 2011
Paddy Brennan is no longer stable jockey at the Twiston-Davies yard. Sam Twiston-Davies will be the stable’s first choice, although Brennan will continue to ride for the yard on a freelance basis.
Head of the Our Friends In The North Syndicate Ian Robinson said, “It’s sad but probably inevitable, given the rapid rise of Sam who after all is the trainer’s son. Paddy will retain the ride on Imperial Commander until he decides he doesn’t want it, his relationship with the horse has been a critical part of our success. Paddy has 100% belief in the horse and the horse has 100% belief in Paddy. We also have 100% belief in Paddy, he is one of the very top horsemen in the business and we will look to use him on our other horses whenever we can”
Thoroughbreds are nervous creatures. Many are calm around the familiarity of the yard but start fretting as soon as the horsebox ramp is lowered. At the centre of attention in the parade ring, PA announcements ringing out, music sometimes blaring from ‘on-course entertainers’, highly strung horses can get into a lather, physically and mentally.
You need only stand by the paddock rail to see ears flicking, eyes rolling and jittery movements (and, as the old one goes, the horses are just as bad).
At the 2011 Cheltenham festival, some trainers fitted earplugs to their horses in the hope that ‘hearing no evil’ might help them remain calm and conserve energy. Prior to the use of earplugs, there is no telling how many anxious horses left their chances (and punter’s money) behind the stands.
The use of earplugs need not formally be declared by trainers so I don’t know how many festival losers wore them. But two winners did: Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly and Gold Cup winner Long Run. Both horses were well supported in the market.
Racing Enterprises Ltd CEO, Rod Street’s recent blog entry contained these words:
“On the subject of betting, whilst we’ll wait for the detailed review of our recent survey, I do sense that racing does not maximise what should be a symbiotic relationship with existing punters who have telling and knowledgeable contributions to make. Again, social media provides the platform for feedback from punters who often feel at the wrong end of the queue when it comes to representation in the industry and regularly cite a lack of transparency over the industry’s workings. This is a challenge racing must meet. We need to find a means through which those punters know that their constructive viewpoints can make a difference”
Rod has the toughest job in racing, in my opinion, but he is steering the industry in the right direction; public airing of his views on testy subjects like the importance of off-course punter are refreshing. I doubt he would have put those words down without thorough consideration.
So it’s time the words were backed up with action. £20,000 is needed to fund database changes so that punters can be informed when a horse is fitted with earplugs. The fact that the information should be out there seems not to be in dispute. The problem is the admin costs in making appropriate changes to the database – put at £20,000.
Austerity is in vogue but trying to make a virtue of it for such a paltry sum in a £billion industry is plain daft.
Racing wants more from ‘the betting industry’: the betting industry is funded by the punter. He is paying the piper and is entitled to call the tune, even if an animal he bets on might be unable to hear it.
Imperial Commander won’t run again this season. Ian Robinson, head of the Our Friends in the North syndicate said “I have spoken to the other members and to the trainer and jockey and Imperial Commander will now head to Ireland for his summer holiday.
“The horse is well but he is best fresh and we wanted to end the speculation about a run at Aintree or Punchestown. Hopefully he will be back next year for another crack at the Gold Cup”
Why bother studying festival form? Should we just back Ruby and Mullins, lay AP and PFN for a fat profit?
Figures for the past five festivals suggest a cold-blooded approach to profit might well be best served by backing certain jockeys and trainers and laying others. But is it as straightforward as it seems?
Listed below are the records for jockeys, trainers and Ruby/trainer combinations over the past 5 festivals.
In order the list reads:
number of runners/rides
number of winners
return on investment at Betfair odds where 100% = break even
cash profit/loss at £100 unit stakes (Betfair commission omitted)
NB this combination ran at a slight loss before the victory of Final Approach last week
Interesting that the 100 non-Walsh ridden runners for PFN produced just 4 winners and a substantial loss for backers. Also, the 70 (from 100) non-Walsh ridden Mullins horses also managed just 4 winners.
Ruby’s 7 ‘outside rides didn’t provide a winner. Following Ruby when riding for his two main ‘suppliers’ brings this result:
Building a ‘system’ on betting Ruby’s mounts would need to be a long-term strategy. Had you begun following Ruby on day one of the 2007 festival, you would not have gone into profit until he rode American Trilogy (returned at 22.2 on Betfair) to win the County Hurdle in 2009.
Also, layers will be a shade wiser come next March and Ruby’s mounts will get tighter in price though whether they are ‘overbet’ to the extent that AP’s are (on the basis of these figures) is debatable.
Still, AP backers since 2007 would never have reached profit at any time; the bottom of their punting pit, at £100 stakes, being as low as £4,351 in losses.
A judicious combination of backing Ruby and laying AP might prove the best solution.
Paddy Power’s democratic Studio Team chose 1 selection each and came up with the winning entry:
Big Bucks Won 10/11
Hurricane Fly Won 11/4
Cue Card 4th
Sizing Europe Won 10/1
Total return £148.16
The team – Thom Malone, Patrick Kennelly, Paul Ryan and Robert Catteson has won a £250 free bet on the John Smith’s Grand National courtesy of Iain Turner at WBX.com, proceeds to go to the charity of the team’s choice.
Runner-up was Ben Aitken
Loosen My Load Jewson 3rd 11/2
Divers Centenary Chase Won 10/1
On The Fringe Foxhunters 4th
Sir Des Champs M Pipe Conditional Hdl Won 9/2
To all the brave Celebs who agreed to take part, a big . . .
Highly respected trends and stats author and blogger, Ben Aitken, whom many of you will know as @Narrowthefield, is the only remaining unbeaten celeb tipster.
Anyone bold enough to to take on the Centenary Novice H’cap chase, let alone name the winner is worth highlighting when he still has three good-priced runners to come
Loosen My Load Jewson – Today
Divers Centenary Chase Won, 10/1
On The Fringe Foxhunters Tomorrow
Sir Des Champs M Pipe Conditional Hdl Tomorrow
Good luck to Ben and anyone following him
UPDATE: OFFICIAL GOING AS REPORTED BY TIMEFORM THIS MORNING IS GOOD TO SOFT, GOOD IN PLACES, SO BEST HOLD FOR JOCKEYS REPORTS
Seasonal form figures of 4FP are the type that give a horse a bad name and a big price coming into a Grade One race at the festival. Albertas Run, last year’s Ryanair winner, has had a poor season by his standards; he fell when under pressure against Master Minded at Ascot then pulled up in the King George next time (jockey thought AR had ‘gone wrong’ but the horse finished sound).
An RSA trophy alongside his Ryanair one didn’t prevent the ruthless boys at Timeform giving him the dreaded and thoroughly undeserved squiggle (all they needed to do was check his going requirements).
He has won seven of his nine races over jumps on good ground (Timeform going description used). In the other two he was 2nd to Kauto Star in the King George and 3rd to Madison Du Berlais at Aintree. Assuming good ground tomorrow as forecast, failure to make the first three would be a career first, yet he can be backed each way at around 6/1.
His Ascot fall was his first ever (he can hit the odd fence) and it might have left its mark mentally, but at 6/1 I am willing to take the chance that his favourite surface and track (won 3 of his 4 races over jumps at Cheltenham) will see him back to his best.
We invited the racing professionals on Twitter to send us their best four bets in the form of a Yankee. The horse nominated first in each group is that person’s nap.
Iain Turner, PR guru for WBX.com and racing manager for horses like Walkon and Mille Chief, very kindly agreed to put up a prize of a charity bet with WBX.com on the John Smith’s Grand National of £250 to the winning tipster – £500 if all 4 horses are successful in the winning Yankee.
So, here they are. Good luck and thanks to all who entered.
Respected journalist and broadcaster of long standing Mike Vince offers his four:
I’m Singing the Blues
Four from the man who brought twitter terror to the turf layers with Tenor Nivernais, Richard Hoiles
Tenor Nivernais Fred Winter
Big Bucks Stayers
Big Zeb QM
Habbie Simpson Albert Bartlett
From James Knight, Coral odds guru, racehorse owner and journalist:
Sparky May David Nicholson, Mares Race
Grands Crus World Hurdle
Wishfull Thinking Jewson
Head of Communications at the British Horseracing Authority, Paul Struthers offers these . . .
Dunguib Champion Hurdle
Rock Noir Arkle
Kalahari King Ryanair
Get Me Out Of Here County
Simon Rowlands, Timeform’s Head of Research/Handicapping, nominates his four (you’ll note the CAPS on his nap):
TENOR NIVERNAIS Fred Winter, Weds
Cue Card Supreme Novices’, Tues
Time For Rupert RSA Chase, Weds
Shoreacres J Henderson, Fri.
From Simon Walton, founder and MD of ProForm Racing
Big Bucks World Hdle
Peddlers Cross Champion Hdle
Zarkandar Triumph Hdle
Woolcombe Folly Queen Mother
Phil Taylor, jockey’s valet of 25 years standing, sends us these:
Sparky May Mares
Cue Card Supreme
Peddlers Cross Champion Hurdle
From Ian Robinson, syndicate Supremo who has won wtith 92.7% of the horses he’s bought including Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander.
Sprinter Sacre Supreme
First Lieutenant Neptune
Gagewell Flyer Albert Bartlett
A Yankee from the top team at The Racing Forum
Champion Hurdle – Binocular
Supreme Novices – Cue Card
RSA Chase – Time For Rupert
Ryanair – Albertas Run
Robert Gibbs who authors the Becher’s Brook blog protests ‘I’m not a Celeb!’. He is in my book having tipped half a dozen or so winners in the past few days, among them 66/1, 20/1 10/1. Robert specialises very successfully in the lower grade racing but happily has agreed to offer us this Yankee for the festival:
Maljimar x country
Cannington Brook NH chase (sub: Williams Wishes in the Grand Annual)
Realt Dubh Arkle
The Giant Bolster RSA
The highly esteemed Graham Cunningham of RUK fame and much battle-scarred elsewhere sends us these:
Steve Mullington, Aintree fanatic, manic tweeter with a huge Blog following sends us his Yankee:
Kalahari King Ryanair
L’Ami Cross Country
Oh Crick Grand Annual
Cathryn Fry, freelance racing journalist and linch-pin of the Owners & Trainers reception at Aintree, offers these:
Hurricane Fly CH
Big Zeb QM
Plan A Fred Winter
On The Fringe-Foxhunter
Stats superstar Paul Jones, author of Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide
sent us these:
Eight-times champion jumps-jockey, Peter Scudamore tweeted this entry:
Master Of The Hall RSA
Big Bucks World Hurdle
Imperial Commander Gold Cup
Top blogger Ian Dykes, our Wayward Lad comes into the festival on the back of a 14/1 winner on Saturday – his sole advice
GHIZAO for the Arkle.
PEDDLERS CROSS for the Champion Hurdle
For the Ryanair, POQUELIN
Gold Cup, IMPERIAL COMMANDER
Highly respected trends and stats author and blogger
Ben Aitken, sends his selections:
Loosen My Load Jewson
Divers Centenary Chase
On The Fringe Foxhunters
Sir Des Champs M Pipe Conditional Hdl
Top Flat jock, James Millman has kindly sent us four:
Kalahari King Ryanair
Tony Coleman, Paddy Power’s racecourse PRO in the UK and writer for Horse & Hound offers these wine-fuelled selections:
Some Target NH Ch
Great Endeavour Stewart Family Hcap Ch
The Giant Bolster RSA
Junior Kim Muir
Paddy Power’s democratic Studio Team got together to nominate 1 horse each in the following:
Good luck to all entrants and for taking the time to offer these, a big . . .
My good friend Gary Smith tells me that after many months of work his bet settling app is finally on sale for the iPhone.
You can get it for £1.19 for a limited time. It settles just about any bet, and you can pass the time doing lightning-quick calculations of all your punts, real or planned.
- Perms from up to 20 selections.
- Configurable bonuses for Alphabet, Lucky 15, 31 & 63 bets.
- Configurable Each Way options, including Equally Divided.
- Rule 4, Dead Heat for win or place & winning Joint Favourite.
- Automatic conversion between Fraction, Decimal and American odds format
More information here.
Cheltenham’s clerk of the course, Simon Claisse has very shaky form with his going descriptions for day one of the festival meeting. Good to soft has been his verdict in four of the past five years (soft in 2008).
Timeform, using race times as well as other information, has disagreed with that description four times in the same period. Simon Rowlands’, (head of research and handicapping at Timeform), article on this is here.
Many readers know that the going is the key factor for most form students. Millions will be bet on Cheltenham runners over the next four days but until we hear the verdict of the jockeys after the first race each day, no one who is serious about their betting can back a horse with any real confidence.
Accuracy advocates put plenty work into trying to get things changed.
A thread on the Betfair forum, faithfully noted official going descriptions and compared them with time-based ones, publishing the results, for two full seasons. One of the architects of that thread voted in my blog poll and left the following comment:
“His (Simon Claisse) stick readings defy belief , He has Champion Hurdle day (2010) as softer than when Grand Crus won the Cleeve!!!!! But until you dig around and find out when a lot of the readings were taken(up to FIVE days old!!) then you are not going to get a lot of sense out of them
Take them 2 hours before the first and an hour after the last if you want them to have ANY meaning”
So, who cares? It’s Cheltenham, the NH season’s X Factor now, with almost all other big races being treated as an extended equine ‘boot camp’ for contenders. Maybe many people don’t care. The ‘holiday’ atmosphere of the festival, tempts them to abandon discipline for the duration and treat their bank as spending money.
A week ago I opened a poll on this blog based on the question Do you agree with festival policy on producing easy ground for day one? I placed a link on my home page, inviting votes. The home page has over 2,000 views yet only 198 people chose to click through to the poll. Of those 198, just 70 voted. The top ‘answer’ with just over 31% was “I don’t mind, so long as the going description is accurate”
Only 10% opted for ‘Yes, it’s the best strategy for welfare and safety‘ (You can see all results by clicking here then clicking ‘View results’ on the bottom left of the panel)
I’m no pollster. I intended to be objective in compiling and wording the options though perhaps I missed in that aim thus discouraging people from voting. The result was as I expected – most of those experienced in betting on horseracing, don’t care what the going is so long as it is accurately described.
How much will be bet on the Supreme tomorrow and what percentage of that on Cue Card? He’s seen as a banker by many yet, based on Timeform’s going descriptions, his only hurdles defeat has come on good ground.
Just 70 voters would cut little ice with statisticians, I suspect, the sample size being considered too low. But isn’t it time Racing for Change started looking seriously at this subject? Much of RFC’s focus seems to be on attracting newcomers, yet every marketer will tell you that it is much cheaper to retain current customers than to recruit new ones.
Racing’s dilemma here: the more that people learn about horseracing, the less attractive it will seem as a betting medium compared with sports where full and accurate information is available. A description of the going, which punters can trust, at every track, is essential to the long-term financial health of the sport. It might not be an easy objective to achieve, but we must find a solution.
For a start, when racecourse execs sit down to compile their list of “stakeholders”, they ought to add, close to the top, “off-course punter”