11 May 2019

Pertemps Long Distance Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)

If you followed me in last week, I hope you enjoyed Magna Grecia's win in the Guineas. It all fell nicely and I think he'll be underestimated over his next two starts (unless he bolts up). He's a very strong stayer at the trip and yet lacks nothing for pace.

Magna Grecia was my only bet of the day, but today is trickier. I've backed several in my Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA FORUM and choosing between them isn't easy as I like them all.


At this Haydock meeting, one of the prime angles is to know which meetings / races supply the majority of winners. For instance, did you know that just 5 courses have supplied the last 21 straight winners of the Swinton Hurdle? Moreover, did you know that all 21 ran last time out in a class 1 or 2 hurdle?

It's just that kind of meeting.

So, with this in mind what can we know about the Long Distance Hurdle? For me, the prime takeaway is the return generated by top-five finishers in class 2 handicaps at the Cheltenham April meeting:

Since 2004, 24 qualifiers staked 1pt EW have produced 14 win or placed for a level stakes profit of +£87.25 pts (standard EW terms.)

NO HASSLE HOFF is the sole qualifier this year and has a very strong frame chance, but at the price I'm just going to try for the win. The course, going and step up in trip all look perfect too.

2.00 Haydock, No Hassle Hoff 2pt win 9/2, maybe more on the exchanges

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

It's Swinton Hurdle day at Haddock


4 May 2019

Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1)

Sir Charles Bunbury was the man responsible for setting up our first classic of the flat season - a trifle unlucky to found a race remembered for it's prize fund than named in his honour. Doubly so, because he also co-founded the Derby and stood aside for the Earl of Derby to label that one.

The straight (but bumpy) Rowley mile course was intended for the aristocracy of England to test their sporting blood and eye for a thoroughbred, but times have changed. The richest source of winners in the modern era are colts grazed and nurtured in Ireland.

The hallmark of a live Irish contender is to go straight there without a public prep. Since 1998, if you had combined these factors with horses who were Group winners as 2-y-o's, the outcome would have been: 11 wins from 32 qualifiers (+30.26 pts to SP).

Moreover, since 1998, every winner bar one either ran over 7 or 8fl last time out. The last one to step up successfully from 6fl was Island Sands in 1999. Unsurprising, as they usually go too fast so the Guineas is a race that really tests stamina. A big negative for Ten Sovereigns.

MAGNA GRECIA is the sole qualifier this year and a Group 1 winner last term. The form of his close 2nd to rising Frenchstar Persian King over C&D lends credibility to his form in the Futurity Stakes, even if the race itself looked suspect.

As Donnacha was on board for that he may well have had the pick here - but whatever the politics, it would be no surprise if he's on board the Ballydoyle No. 1.

3.35 Newmarket, Magna Grecia 1.5pt EW 5/1, 4x1/5 various

** Feedback - WON going away, never really in doubt with an assist from the draw **

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

A worm's-eye view of the 2019 Qipco 2000 Guineas


6 Apr 2019

Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

The jumps world seems to evolve very quickly and the Grand National already feels an altogether different race to the one we knew even 10 years ago. So, from a trends perspective it pays to focus on very current things.

As the handicap is now less artificially compressed, what we'd expect to see (and what we do see) is a shift toward better quality types on a fair weight, rather than out and out handicappers smuggled in on a low weight. Handicappers do still win, but the balance has shifted and with probability you always want to be working with the gradient, than fighting it.

On this theme, one interesting filter is the strength of results from 2013 to 2018 achieved by runners who ran last time out in a non-handicap chase of any kind, and who have career winning form in Listed company or better - i.e. better than handicaps. Especially of course, those lining up here on a fair mark.

After chewing the fat on this approach JURY DUTY comes out a very strong each way candidate for Gordon Elliott. I put him up at 25/1 EW on the ENIGMA Forum a few days ago, and he's been widely touted since but 16's is still not a disaster.

Meanwhile, if he gets round in one piece, the impressive RATHVINDEN is a nailed-on stayer with a massive chance on the form book for Willie Mullins. Again, we backed him some time ago at much better prices - as did loads of people - so I'll put him up. His claims are there for all to see and hopefully you are already on.

But this is the Grand National, so why stop at 2. We need an outsider too!

I've backed MINELLA ROCCO, principally because JP McManus horses who record a 'Pulled Up' last time out have an uncanny habit of winning nice races the next day. Like many seasoned JP watchers, I've been selectively following and writing about this angle for years.

Don't Push It for example - ran a shocker at Cheltenham and was then backed off the boards on course at Aintree before winning this very race.

Minella Rocco had an almost carbon copy prep a few weeks ago (if prep is the word). Perhaps, too bad to be true. I'm not sure you would even actually send a horse here who is that out of form. Would you?

If the same thing happens today with Minella Rocco, I couldn't bear not to have a penny on a past winner of the 4-miler and 2nd in a Gold Cup in this ownership. The ground is coming right for him too.

The way his campaign has shaped since wind surgery, the whole season may have been planned around getting into this race on a workable mark. And being a JP horse, whatever he did last time out is best turned on it's head - it's just as likely to be have been about sending his price out.

The yard form is a concern. Tedham ran a shocker for Jonjo yesterday, for one of his biggest owners, when expected to run really well. They did have a Grade 2 mares' race winner in the past 2 weeks, and she ran very well. So, like Lostintranslation who hacked up yesterday for Mr Tizzard, whatever their tribulations, neither yard is entirely on the canvas.

You can also pick holes in Minella Rocco's jumping, but for 50/1 you can't have everything and he jumped great in the Gold Cup on good ground. He's fallen twice in his career, which would be one more than you'd like to see for a potential National horse, although coincidentally Don't Push It had the same number of prior falls. At the end of the day it's a punt, but crazier things happen every day.

For JP, Minella Rocco is a dart at the board and with his colossal stamina, for a lightly raced 9yo in that ownership, it's entirely logical that this has been the plan for some time.

5.15 Aintree, Rathvinden 1.5pt win 9/1 Coral, BFSB, Sportingbet
5.15 Aintree, Jury Duty 1pt EW 16/1 6x1/5 various (some 18's Redzone)
5.15 Aintree, Minella Rocco 0.75pt EW 6x1/5, 50/1 Lads, Coral

** Rathvinden ran well but Tiger Roll was all over the winner from miles out...outstanding **

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

It's time for THAT race again, Aintree Grand National 2019


5 Apr 2019

Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Kemboy and Pentland Hills did the business for me yesterday in my Key Racing Gold thread on the Enigma Forum. This blog is just a small sample of the bets I put up there.

Since Cheltenham I have put up just 8 bets, producing winners at 7/1, 4/1, 9/4, 9/4 plus a place money profit on an EW treble. In March alone my forum thread was over 50 points up.

ENIGMA is a very different kind of betting forum. Because it's relentlessly high quality, you have to pay to get in. But once you are in, everything is free.

To get involved, simply go here: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

Onwards to the Topham.

How often does a CD specialist line up in this race at prices up to 20/1, when that horse has 9lbs less to carry than last year and is still only 9yo.

Admittedly from a few pounds out of the handicap, but that's how the market values Kilcrea Vale today, despite a brilliant record over CD, a very attractive weight and the fact he runs for Nicky Henderson who has an great record in the race.

The icing on the cake is they've recently given him a bit of practice in headgear to sharpen him up. In every way he looks laid out to a nicety.

If he gets around in one piece, and he hasn't failed to complete any race since 2015, then he has an outstanding frame chance and hopefully more.

4.05 Aintree, Kilcrea Vale 1.5pt EW 18/1+ 5x1/5

I got some price boosted with Hills at 22/1 and the rest at 20's. But there is plenty of 18's elsewhere, some to 6 places.

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

** Took up a nice position but soon back-pedalling, I know he was highly fancied by the yard so they will be most disappointed. We move on...** 

Day 2 of the 2019 Aintree Festival


15 Mar 2019

Cheltenham Festival - Day 4

Defi De Seuil did the business for us yesterday in the JTL. The last 6 bets on the Pro Tips Bog have served up winners at 33/1, 5/1 (7/1 BOG) and 10/3.

BUT, in that time readers of my Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum have also bagged EXTRA winners at 14/1, 6/1, 6/1, 10/3 and 7/4.

ENIGMA is a very different kind of betting forum. Because it's relentlessly high quality, you have to pay to get in. But once you are in, everything is free.

To get involved, simply go here: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

And so, onwards to the Gold Cup.

Thistlecrack interests me EW, but the yard's horses just lack that bit of extra sparkle at the moment. Clan Des Obeaux obviously has a question to answer in terms of stamina in partly-testing ground at a stiffer track, over an extended trip. It's not hard to see him wandering about on the hill.

Presenting Percy is a magnificent beast and perhaps the most likely winner, but clearly so inexperienced he's tough to back at the price (but good luck to him). If he drifts I'll probably have a few quid late. Native River is the reigning champ, ticks the boxes, but it's back to the Tizzard thing.

Maybe this year is ripe for an upset. If Might Bite couldn't win it last year it's a bit of a stretch to see him winning it now. Kemboy really wants very decent ground, ideally a bit faster than this and Ruby seems to be sitting on Bellshill more in hope than expectation. All this probably means Presenting Percy wins, but I think I'd rather go the outsider route.

The mare SHATTERED LOVE hosed up last year in the JLT (Kemboy well beaten), so we know she loves the track - she also needs going with soft in the title. There is also an interesting form line with Clan Des Obeaux via Terrafort in that race.

She's been disappointing this season but has not had suitable ground and has also had wind surgery. The yard regard her as a very strong stayer and they clearly think a great deal of her. She must be working well to be here.

If Gordon has got her right, then she has that all important Festival form to run a big race with her mares' allowance. The ground will hopefully just about be okay. I think she'll be ridden for a place and can get in the frame, but if Percy clobbers one the whole thing could end up wide open.

Also a quick mention for the Foxhunter Chase. The only qualifier this year on a strong trends system I use is UCELLO CONTI - he ticks every box and has the Coddfather on board for Gordon Elliott. Has to be worth a few quid.

3.30 Cheltenham, Shattered Love 0.75pt EW 25/1, 4x1/5
4.10 Cheltenham, Ucello Conti 1.5pt win 5/1 various

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.ENIGMARACING.NET/RACING-FORUM

** Right idea, wrong outsider for the Gold Cup which proved hugely open. While Ucello Conti ran okay without ever managing to land a serious blow **