30 Sept 2017

Cambridgeshire Handicap (Heritage)

Regular readers will know I make a bee-line for the enhanced place terms offered in top quality big field handicaps; so I've been rubbing my hands this morning as they don't come much bigger than the Cambridgeshire.

A strongly run handicap over the unusual 9fl trip on a straight course is perfect fodder for big prices in the frame. Especially, in the case of Hills or Sky, where that frame is 8 places.

Every year, this handicap is like 2 races. The upwardly mobile improvers with marks up around 100 and the lesser lights with perhaps more experience and lighter loads who can run to their mark, or a little better, in a very strongly run race.

Almost every year the RPR's of the first 5 or 6 home jump around all over the place. For example in 2015 the first 5 home were awarded RPR's of; 106, 111, 96, 98 and 104 (the winner 106). The horses who achieved RPR's of 96 and 98 were priced at 50/1 and 20/1 respectively. That's just one year.

If you go back far enough over the last 20 years, you'll even find a winner of this race at 100/1. Clearly, you could do your brains trying to root out a horse like that, but there is a nice way to check whether the field might hold a likely candidate:

Age 5 or 6
Handicap mark same as last win or up to 7lbs higher
Weight 8-6 to 8-9 (before any riders' claim)
Finished 1st or 2nd in any of last 3 runs

The fairly-weighted, in form, competitive 5 and 6yo's are heavily overlooked. To be fair you don’t get too many of the right kind but they do crop up. Over the last 20 renewals there has been just 14 qualifiers, but 7 of those either won or made the frame. The most recent example was Bronze Angel in 2014. Many will also remember Prince of Johanne winning in 2011 at 40/1.

There is a qualifier this year, NICHOLAS T trained by Jim Goldie.

A late bloomer, he's been in career best form this season and quietly improving. He's also very flexible, coping equally well with turf as different as Ayr, Ascot or York.

The most recent run at York was very interesting: stepped up to 10.5fl in a high quality handicap, he was bang there with a furlong to go, fading quickly. However the run needs marking up, as he had no chance racing on the slowest part of the track. That was a very strongly run race, and he proved he could go toe to toe for 9.5fl. The drop to 9fl looks plumb perfect here.

He's drawn low and that may or may not work out the place to be. He would also probably appreciate good ground rather than gd-sft - although he ran a very big race recently at Ascot with cut. He's a standing dish at Ayr where the ground soon gets very holding and I suspect Newmarket gd-sft will be fine if they avoid more rain.

At the prices though, I'm more than happy to pay to find out.

Good luck,

3.35 Newmarket, Nicholas T - 1pt EW 100/1, 1/5 odds to 8 places Hills

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

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** FeedbackUnlucky yesterday, Sands Chorus, 2nd at 100/1 carried 8-05, just 1lb outside the criteria used. Suffice to say we've amended the weight range for next year! Great example though of the angle...the TV pundits completely bemused! Nicholas T out of sorts, keep an eye on him, he's much better than that but likely needs better ground and/or flat track **

Nicholas T, looks well suited to a 9fl trip in the Cambridgeshire for Jim Goldie


9 Sept 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:

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** Feedback: well beaten, not the horse the yard thought he was on this evidence **

Ascot racecourse, more rain on the way this afternoon


2 Sept 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's the Beverley Bullet