20 Oct 2018

Qipco British Champion Sprint Stakes (Group 1)

Champions day delivers a feast of top class racing and some excellent betting opportunities when the weather obliges with seasonal soft ground, offering something for horses that like cut, held back in mid-summer - this year more than ever.

I have pin-pointed 4 cracking bets for Champions Day on the ENIGMA forum, and will pass on one of them free here through the Pro Tips Blog.

The Sprint Stakes look a good betting race, many of the layers are offering EW terms to 4 places and talented handicappers at big prices do occasionally make it into the frame - Growl for instance was 2nd in 2016 at 50/1.

The key to this years' race is the soft going. Ascot is a stiff track and 6fl at Championship pace on soft causes plenty to run out of stamina. Horses advantaged in this race like cut, but also stay particularly well with a winning record at 7fl+, with strong Ascot form a plus.

Bacchus hugely meets this criteria. He won the Wokingham this summer from a mark of 105, needing every yard of 6fl on faster ground. He is 2 wins from 2 on soft and goes particularly well fresh, winning twice after a break.

Crucially, he's never had the benefit of both before and he gets that today - freshened up with a break of 2.5 months. He's won twice over 7fl and William Buick is booked to do the steering. 50/1 looks a crazy price.

2.00 Ascot, Bacchus 0.75pt EW, 50/1 Lads, BV, 4x1/5

To get today's other 3 selections you'll need to become an ENIGMA member for access to the Key Racing Gold thread


13 Oct 2018

Dubai Cesarewitch Stakes (Heritage Handicap)

Today it’s the Cesarewitch, the race named after Tsar Alexander II, that starts in Cambridgeshire and ends in Suffolk.

It’s also a race tailor-made for each way players, with firms offering up to 8 places.
Generous each way concessions are a gold mine in big field handicaps. The question is how to spot real each way value?

For this race the criteria I recommend is class related: focus on horses who have previously run in any sort of Grade / Group 1 or 2 race. Then look for a good prep - a top 6 finish last time out.

The final (crucial) step is to consider the the quality of track / meeting where that prep run took place.

The No. 1 track for feeding in-form qualifiers into the Cesarewitch is Doncaster, which offers prep options via the Doncaster Cup and the Mallard. Since 1998, from 13 qualifiers Doncaster has delivered 6 in the frame, including 3 winners and First Mohican 2nd at 50/1.

So, while there are lots of other successful (albeit less successful) routes to the frame in this race, in the first instance, those running well via Doncaster are the first port of call.

In this year's Mallard, Speedo Boy travelled all over the field under Ryan Moore. He didn't have the clearest run but finished close up and full of running, shaping like the best handicapped horse in the race. He’s the right type and Ian Williams excels with his flat stayers. A high draw doesn't help his win prospects, but he's a hold up horse anyway and 28/1 to 8 places with Hills looks a gift.

In the same Doncaster race, Cliffs Of Dover shaped like a thorough stayer with untapped potential. Outpaced and under pressure from a long way out, he rattled home and looks ripe to excel for this step up. This is a horse who was a juvenile Grade 2 hurdle winner and is still only 5yo.

Nicely drawn, an in-form improver with a very low weight, even before Miss Nicholls' 5lb claim. 33/1 to 7 places with Paddy, looks huge.

3.40 Newmarket, Speedo Boy 1pt EW 28/1, 8x1/5 Hills
3.40 Newmarket, Cliffs Of Dover 1pt EW 33/1, 7x1/5 Paddy Power

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at:

** Feedback: Speedo Boy duly placed for EW money, sturdy effort. Cliffs Of Dover's chance went up in smoke under bizarre ride...**

The Cesarewich starts in Cambridgeshire and ends on the Rowley Mile in Suffolk


15 Sep 2018

William Hill Portland Handicap (Class 2)

This week it's the venerable St Leger meeting, as the flat moves into the backend with the Cheltenham Showcase meeting just 6 weeks away.

The Portland is an excellent betting handicap, made all the more interesting by the 5.5 furlong trip, which may account for the fact that 6 of the last 10 Portland winners returned SP's of 14/1+. Moreover, in just the last 4 years alone 7 runners made the first 5 at prices of 20/1+. 

With several firms betting to 6 places the Portland is a solidly interesting race for value players.

I took a long spin through the various candidates and Charlie Hill's A MOMENTOFMADNESS, despite being generally dismissed by the market as an out of form 5fl specialist, looks a prime contender.

A Momentofmadness previously went close over this trip and going at York in a more valuable race, and last year was right there in this race until hampered entering the last half furlong. Even then he would have finished 4th but his jockey (literally) stopped riding when his chance had gone.

As regards current form, his last 3 runs took place when the yard was under a cloud and that's merely served to bring his mark down. He's still 4lbs higher than last year, but arguably at least a 6lb better horse this year as a 5-y-o. Back in April and May he was flying, as was the yard and they've been back in excellent form since August. 

Crucially, having won 3 times returning from a break, A Momentofmadness has been deliberately freshened up and is likely to arrive in much better form and condition than the market predicts. 

William Buick remains on board, as he has been for both wins this season and the going looks like being a bit faster than last year which is all to the good. The yard also won this a few years ago.

1.50 Doncaster, A Momentofmadness 0.75pt EW 25/1 Sportpesa, 10Bet, 6x1/5
(also Hills, Paddy, 188: 22/1 6x1/5)

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at:

** 25/1 SP WINNER! A great way to start back after our summer break. Led from start to finish, memorable display...**


21 Jul 2018

Weatherbys Super Sprint (Class 2)

It’s another big afternoon for our ENIGMA Racing syndicates as we own a piece of Group 3 winner Little Kim, who lines up for the Super Sprint at Newbury this afternoon. Not too shabby, when you consider our syndicate members paid just £192.31 each, and that included upkeep for the whole 2018 flat season. Some of them will be racing as owners at Newbury today.

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So, understandably, while we have everything crossed for Little Kim her 8lb Group penalty for this race will make life tricky. She should run very well, but you have to suspect that something laid out will be tough to beat with lots of weight in hand.

Looking at the Super Sprint is really a case of short-listing trainers. I would suggest looking most closely at: Tim Easterby, Richard’s Fahey and Hannon, plus Andrew Balding and Jon Portman.

I filter their runners with just a few criteria:
Has won a class 5 race or higher
Has not yet won beyond 5fl
No more than 5 previous career starts
Last ran 11 to 45 days ago

In short; proven ability, fast, lightly raced improvers, smoothly prepped.

Since 1998, runners from these yards who met this criteria are; 8 wins from 29 bets, +£54.70 LSP.

This year’s short-list is: Red Balloons, Ginger Nut and Good Tyne Girl.

RED BALLOONS ticks all the right boxes: nice weight, ideal draw and going. He's been laid for the race by Richard Fahey. To cap it all runners who competed at Royal Ascot have an especially good record and he’s Timeform top rated too.

So (with every fibre) we will be hoping Little Kim can step up and defy top weight, but Red Balloons looks the value - perhaps almost a shot to nothing each way. He could well win.

3.35 Newbury, Red Balloons 1.5pt EW 13/2, 5x1/5 various

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at:

** Feedback: Ginger Nut wins at 16/1, much bigger when posted. Another terrific winner for the angle, if frustrating for me personally to pick wrong! **

Red Balloons ticks all the boxes for the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury


30 Jun 2018

Irish Derby Meeting Research

Great to be posting again after a summer break.

Ballydoyle dominate non-handicaps at the Irish Derby meeting and it stands to reason the most promising runners will tend to be those arriving via the best meetings. So, in terms of finding selections, the key criteria for each runner is the venue of their last run.

Overwhelmingly, the runners to be interested in last ran in a non-handicap at: Ascot, the Curragh, Epsom or Leopardstown.

The only other filters are to put a line through anything going off 25/1+, or exposed runners with 10+ career starts.

Backing every qualifier blind in non-handicaps since 2003:

127 Bets, 48 wins +95.87 pts level stakes profit (ROI 75.49%)

Since 2005 there have only been 2 losing years, -1.52 pts 2009 and -4.8 pts 2012. Last year produced +10.61 pts, 6 wins from 14. This year is already 1 win from 1 qualifier.

In the real world you probably wouldn’t back blind, as some races with multiple O’Brien qualifiers wouldn’t make sense at the prices. But it does give you top class short list.

Qualifiers ridden by Ryan Moore make a blind profit: 8 wins from 16, +10.99 pts to date.
But by far the most profitable jockey to follow is J A Heffernan. Since 2003, 16 wins from 32, +100.91 pts.

In normal years you could probably just forget the rest and back his mounts, but with Donnacha on the scene, as we saw at Ascot, Aiden’s son is (probably) sitting on those horses right now.

The ones to look at most closely this weekend are qualifiers ridden by those two.

Today’s qualifiers are:
2.50 Fleet Review (Moore) 11/8
4.35 Van Beethoven (Moore) 10/11
5.15 Saxon Warrior (Moore) Evens

You could probably do a lot worse than put those in a Trixie. 2 out of 3 will do slightly more than return stakes in most cases, while landing all three bags a profit of around 18.00 points.

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at:

** Feedback: Two wins returned stakes plus a small profit, Saxon Warrior sadly just outstayed to deny the full house - he'll be down in trip after that **

Saxon Warrior - out for redemption in the Irish Derby