17 Jun 2017

William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap (Class 2)

The Scottish Sprint Cup is a race the market often reads wrong. Taking all renewals at Musselburgh since 2003, put £1 on every runner and you’d almost break even (- £3.75). Any race where that happens is heaven-sent for value players.

The way to play them is to forget about picking winners, instead think carefully about horses that have a believable frame chance at a big price - over time some of those frame chances will covert to winners, so initially make your target wide.

This is a sprint where weight tends to matters more than class. You can tell that by the number of claiming riders who win or run well. In some races that wouldn't be the case at all, but here, despite what the market thinks, it's weight that's king - much more so than draw:

Riders without a claim: 8 wins from 148 runners for -42.75 level stakes profit (LSP).

Riders with a claim: 5 wins from 66 runners for +39.00 LSP
You can boost this further by sticking purely to runners officially rated no more than 7lbs above their most recent win. Just adding this logical filter improves things to:

5 wins from 47 runners for +58 LSP; or each way 9 win and placed for +61.12 LSP.

In 2017, this criteria of a claiming rider on fairly treated horses, gives a short-list of; Kimberella, Mirza, Orions Bow and Jack Dexter. However, I am not interested in well-fancied horses - we are scanning for EW value 14/1+ (the higher the better).

The one that interests me most is JACK DEXTER from the wily Jim Goldie. How sweet it would be for Jim to win the Scottish Sprint Cup with the horse named after two of his grandchildren. I think he's having a real rip at this, Goldie even laying the seeds of his excuse by reporting that Jack Dexter had a problem in the spring but is healthy again now.

Jack Dexter lines up 9lbs lower than when a close up 4th last July in a £62k handicap at Ascot, over 5fl on gd-fm. This is a horse who was 2nd in the Gr2 Temple Stakes the year before on good ground, when rated 108. He runs here off 92 and claims 5lbs. The draw is decent and there were quiet signs of revival on his recent prep run. This looks tee'd up to a nicety.

The only question is going and undoubtedly they would prefer it softer - but he is absolutely proven on decent ground over 5fl and there's no doubt in my mind if they want to try, and they definitely are, then good ground is good enough. With luck in running I suspect he's got a knocking frame chance at a big price. If it does get too quick for him, then he's one for the tracker.

Good luck,

Jack Dexter, 1pt EW 25/1 various, 4x1/4

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


** Feedback: Couldn't find a way through for his trademark late run, snatched up and finished full of running. One to follow, goes very well at Ascot so that could be his next stop ** n.b. Jack Dexter duly won a few weeks later at Ascot 5/1 [ed]

Jack Dexter looks under the radar for Jim Goldie in the Scottish Sprint Cup

3 Jun 2017

The Investec Derby (Group 1)

The 3-y-o division acquired a new star in the Oaks yesterday, but there's nothing in this field that inspires quite the same confidence. In an open renewal every man and his dog has turned up for a crack at the blue ribband, resulting in a packed field. Draw and luck in running are sure to play their part.

Through the initial twists over the 12fl course at Epsom, those drawn very low or high are at a disadvantage. Stalls 1 and 2 have to burn excessive gas to hold a position, while stalls higher than 14 have little option but to slot in towards the rear or try to get right on the pace. In fact for win purposes, unless you have a lot of talent, any draw higher than 10 makes life tricky.

This century 64 horses have been drawn in stalls 10 or higher, the only ones to win were Australia (2.38 fav) and Authorized (2.25 fav) who both had that bit of extra star quality - and in Authorised's case, head and shoulders above the field.

Cliffs Of Moher, drawn 13, looks worth taking on. He has clearly done well at home since the Dee Stakes, but unless he has a charmed run will need to be a much better horse than the one we saw there. Looking at the rest of the field, there's no doubt in my mind his main rival is CRACKSMAN.

Personally, I think it's fairly safe to assume Cracksman would come here as the Dante winner and a hot favourite if the ground had been suitable for a run at York. Despite every kind of disadvantage, he got the better of Dante winner Permian in the Epsom Derby Trial (lack of experience, greenness, luck in running and slow early fractions). Cracksman ended up in a pocket and in the circs, with greenness to overcome, did extremely well to overhaul a very tough horse, with far more experience who got first run.

Opting to give Cracksman an Epsom course gallop in 'Breakfast With The Stars' looks a shrewd move and they've been rewarded with a prime draw in stall 7. That should be enough to give Frankie first run over Cliffs Of Mohar. If Anthony Oppenheimer's colt can get to the front in the last two furlongs, I don't think anything will get past him.

Good luck,

Cracksman, 1.25pt EW 5/1 generally, 4x1/5

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


** Feedback: a close up 3rd, excellent run, easily beat the Dante winner Permian. Ballydoyle mugged the field with two strong running pacemakers, everyone fell for it and the race was set up for those held up. Cracksman the only horse in the first 5 home who was to the fore and lasted home, which underlines how well he ran **

Cracksman might prove the answer in an average quality renewal of the Investec Derby


2 Jun 2017

Investec Oaks (Group 1)

Conditions are speeding up all the time at Epsom, by this afternoon they are expecting good, good to firm in places and I suspect hoping Rhododendron won't stay will prove to be clutching at straws.

As a bit of insurance Ballydoyle have the inevitable pacemaker in for good measure and they will by hoping to dictate steady early fractions.

Rhododendron is certainly the most likely winner. Aiden O'Brien has a great record in this race and some excellent fillies to choose from, he's unlikely to have picked the wrong one. But her price is prohibitive and an each way bet looks the way to play the market.

ENABLE was mightily impressive at Chester. For a staying filly she showed an unusual touch of extra class and brilliance and Frankie was impressed. She looks a serious filly in the making who will love the trip and conditions, and we know handles a bend.

There's a good chance she can get first run on Rhododendron in this and looks very difficult to keep out of the frame at the very least and at 7/1 that's good enough. She looks a particularly nice bet if you have a B365 account where they are also offering 1/4 odds the place.

Good luck,

Enable, 1pt EW 7/1, 3x1/5 or better

Herbie is one of the resident pro-gamblers in ENIGMA


** Feedback: Enable won impressively - Ballydoyle pacemaker lost the plot and Rhododendron ended up in a dour test of stamina, outstayed by a superb filly. Friday Bonus landed **

John Gosden's Enable looks the filly to give Rhododendron most to think about in the Oaks