9 Sep 2017

Chapel Down Handicap (Class 2)

This is the sort of weather that can fry your brains trying to find a decent bet, but after a good hunt round this morning there is one horse who looks underrated at Ascot today.

When Tony Carroll sends a sprinter to a southern Grade 1 track, you should give the horse a second glance. He's an 'under the radar' trainer at these venues, despite enjoying great success with quality sprinters like Boom The Groom, Caspian Prince and Time Medicean - so the prices are often attractive.

And Mr Carroll does look like he's got his hands on another interesting one in DOC SPORTELLO who ran a very taking debut for the yard at this venue in the Shergar Cup - motoring home from the rear in the final furlong, but shaping with promise throughout.

The extra furlong today looks ideal and the testing ground, if anything, could suit him better than good to soft.

He does have an in and out profile, but the signs last time were that he's thriving, and at the price looks well worth a speculative bet.

Good luck,

5.05 Ascot, Doc Sportello 1pt EW 22/1+, 1/4 odds to 3 places

Herbie is one of the pro-gamblers in the ENIGMA forum:

Ascot racecourse, more rain on the way this afternoon


2 Sep 2017

Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes (Listed)

This weekend its time for the Beverley Bullet, which thanks to a heavy draw bias is always an interesting race for a bet.

After an overnight shower the going is gd-fm (good in places), and a dry day is forecast with a gentle cross wind predicted, but nothing to trouble those on the pace.

Historically, anything drawn in stall 9 or lower can win, but in practice stalls 1 to 4 enjoy such an advantage it's better to focus there and just keep an eye out for something a bit special drawn 5 to 9 (like Tangerine Trees was in 2011).

To help sift those drawn low in stalls 1 to 4, apply these filters:

Handicap mark, 96+
Weight carried 8-11 to 9-7 (before any riders' claim)
Has run in the last 6 to 75 days

Which brings us down to three this year; Mirza, Kimberella and Take Cover.

On a line of collateral form this summer through Battaash (versus Take Cover), Mirza could end up a lot closer in this than the market suggests - especially as he doesn't carry a penalty. He was 2nd in this race in 2014, a heroic effort held up from stall 9, and he can sit on the rail here tracking the pace under the excellent Joe Fanning. A fast pace to chase and stiff finish are right up his street.

The negatives are he would rather be held up further back, which will dent his finishing effort, and his win record - just one victory since 2015. He has possibilities in the Betfair place market.

Kimberella should be thereabouts. It's a logical race for him, he's held up in touch and will stay strongly, I just wonder whether he'll arrive in time over 5fl on gd-fm. On paper the race looks something of match between him and Take Cover. I couldn't argue if you decided to dutch them against the field

TAKE COVER has plenty in his favour. He's likely to bag the plumb far rail and lead and will take some getting past from there. He has a great record in Listed company and remains very fast in the right conditions.

I'd be slightly more confident if the ground was gd-fm all over, but he's very effective when he gets things his way and is worth a bet at around 5/1.

Good luck,

3.15 Beverley, Take Cover 1pt Win 11/2, Fred, Tote, Black

Herbie is one of the pro-gamblers in the ENIGMA forum:

** Feedback: A smooth victory for Take Cover, who bagged the far rail and was allowed to dictate the fractions, he wasn't stopping and nothing came close to getting past. Those drawn in stalls 1-4, filled 4 of the first 5 home ** 

Take Cover...it's the Beverley Bullet


26 Aug 2017

Betfred Ebor Handicap (Heritage Handicap)

York Day 4 and time for the big one - Europe's richest handicap, the one and only Ebor.

The percentage call with big field, top class handicaps is almost always to look for each way value and take advantage of bookmakers' enhanced place terms. The Ebor is no exception, with a rich history of big prices not only making the frame, but winning too.

Hunt for candidates with this criteria:

Aged: 4 to 7-y-o
Has come either 1st, 2nd or 3rd sometime in last 10 runs
Highest class career victory: either a class 2, 3 or 4 handicap, or a Group 1 or 2.
Has previously run in any sort of race over a trip between 2 miles to 2m 6fl.
Available odds: 16/1+

Since 1997, 87 horses have met this criteria - producing 19 win or placed on standard EW terms, for a £1 level stakes profit of £302.75. Extra 5th place terms would have added several more placed at 20/1+.

At the time of writing, this years' qualifiers are: Winning Story, Natural Scenery, Seamour, Soldier In Action. I would suggest the two to concentrate on are Seamour and Natural Scenery.

Seamour was 5th last year on similar ground, from a similar wide draw, from a mark of 103. He lines up today on 102 and takes off a further 5lb via talented claiming rider Ben Robinson. Last year Seamour was ridden aggressively from the break to slot in and track the leaders - quite an ask for a much less experienced jockey. He's also had an interrupted prep.

NATURAL SCENERY comes here after a fine run in the Northumberland Plate, where she raced prominently. She's drawn in 6 today which will suit her positive style. The trip holds no fears and Saeed Bin Suroor deals with the 2lb rise, by employing top 3lb claimer Edward Greatrex who has performed very well this year in the Godolphin silks.

Natural Scenery lines up with an improving profile from an ideal position in the handicap. Goodwood proved she goes well on turf, and these drying conditions should suit her a lot more than the testing ground she encountered there.

Good luck,

3.35 York, Natural Scenery 1pt EW 16/1, 1/4 odds to 5 places 188bet

Herbie is one of the pro-gamblers in the ENIGMA forum:

** Feedback: Got clear too late, finished like a train into 3rd to land place money and would surely have gone very close with a smooth run...shame didn't hold a better early position **

Natural Scenery, EW value for Saeed Bin Suroor in the Ebor Handicap


19 Aug 2017

William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap (Class 2)

The chance of a passing shower or two at Ripon today for the Great St Wilfrid, with the ground looking like it will end up somewhere between good and good to soft.

Winners have a long history of being drawn in stalls 1-13 and there is a 20 mph cross-wind predicted today, which will buffet those drawn high, so it looks a good year to stick with that formula. Winners also tend to be aged 3 to 7-y-o and rated between 80 and 101, with an improving profile (i.e. rated higher than last win). 

We're also looking for some evidence of being in form in the last 5 runs or so, and obviously we'll ignore anything with a dire record at the track.

Plug all that into this years' field and you build a short-list of: Flying Pursuit, Pipers Note, Robero, Classic Seniority and Snap Shots.

We used to be involved with CLASSIC SENIORITY via the Enigma Racing syndicates and we know first-hand he's a nice horse. He's named after Richard Hannon Senior who liked him from the get-go and at one time owned a leg himself. 

Classic Seniority has been a very slow burner - too slow for us - but bit by bit he's clawed his way up from claimers all the way to the Scottish Stewards' Sprint Cup, which is a huge credit to the horse, who to be fair has a striking win record. The trip and ground are perfect for him here -  he's also a course winner and could well improve again. With his handy draw he could run very well.

Given the price and the trainer (Tony Coyle), I am also temped to give SNAP SHOTS the benefit of the doubt. He was 6th in this as a 4yo last year, winning his side of the race - he loves Ripon, so trip, track and going are all ideal and the last time he met Pipers' Note over CD they were separated by only a whisker or three.

Perhaps crucially though, Snap Shots has age on his side. He's a 5-y-o in his prime, with an an excellent piece of recent form at York - there is a good race in this horse. He just blotted his copy book last time in a prep here when refusing to race in a first time hood which sensibly they've left off today.

Clearly he comes with risks (but then what doesn't) and if he gets out of bed the right side today, 33/1 could end up looking awfully big.

Good luck,

3.15 Ripon, Classic Seniority 0.75pt EW 25/1, 5x1/5 (PP, Coral, BFSB)
3.15 Ripon, Snap Shots 0.75pt EW 33/1, 5x1/5 (PP, Lads, Coral, BFSB)

** Feedback: 3 of our short list made the top 5, including Snap Snots who bagged 4th with the far side draw dominating once again **

The improving Classic Seniority looks a big price today for Marjorie Fife


5 Aug 2017

Qatar Stewards' Cup (Heritage Handicap)

Another welcome drying day as we arrive at the final day of Glorious Goodwood. The forecast is dry, and the going somewhere between soft and good to soft.

I worked through the Stewards' Cup two ways. First up, I sifted the trends to narrow the field - finding there are lots of small pieces of criteria that connect 15 of the last 20 winners:

Aged between 3 and 6
Official rating between 91 and 104
Current rating at least 2lbs higher than last win
1st, 2nd or 3rd in last three starts
Has won previously in at least class 3 or higher
Previously won over further than 5fl
No more than 33 previous career starts
Last ran between 6 and 75 days ago

In other words, a progressive 6fl+ sprinter, in his/her prime, who has already won a decent quality race, in form and fit. It does make sense.

The shortlist this year is; SHANGHAI GLORY, AL QAHWA, Upstaging, Stake Acclaim and Solar Flair. Of those, in the conditions, Shanghai Glory and Al Qahwa make obvious appeal for the in-form teams of Charlie Hills and David O'Meara. I like them both. Whether a far side draw is the place to be remains to be seen.

Glorious Goodwood is also a meeting heavily targeted by a small clique of top trainers - and it pays to be very aware of the usual suspects. In this particular race, no one is more profitable to follow than William Haggas: 2 win from 7 runners for +£47 points to SP (+ 77.65 BSP). He's a great EW bet, with 4 win or placed for +£64 to SP, including last years' 3rd, RAUCOUS, who lines up again from the same mark.

Raucous has previously won on soft and there's plenty of encouragement too from the pedigree. I think there's a chance he could improve with cut in the ground. He's also conveniently drawn on the other side to the two noted above, which gives us some cover stands' side.

Good luck,

3.35 Goodwood, Shanghai Glory 1pt win 16/1
3.35 Goodwood, Al Qahwa 1pt win 14/1
3.35 Goodwood, Raucous 1pt EW 16/1 5x1/4

Herbie is one of the pro-gamblers in the ENIGMA forum:

** Feedback: Shanghai Glory and Upstaging won place money from our stats shortlist - Al Qahwa repeatedly hampered, eventually snatched up and lost all chance. Raucous, no chance from high draw, all the action developed far side - but ran a quietly eye-catching race (one for the notebook) ** 

Raucous 3rd in the 2016 Stewards Cup for race specialist William Haggas