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 Sept 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


19 May 2018

Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (Group 1)

The Lockinge is a race most often won by well supported 4 or 5-y-o's with Group 1 winning form.

If we combine this simple criteria and focus on the first 4 in the betting:

Since 1998, 11 wins from 19 qualifiers, + 23.57 points level stake profit at SP. As big race stats go, it's a compelling one and this year there is just one qualifier.

The layers fancy Limato, but Ballydoyle are drawn to dominate and force the pace to ensure this mile is run at a furious gallop and I expect RHODODENDRON to be tough to beat.

A filly with the speed to win over a mile in a Group 1 on good-firm at Newmarket (still her career best RPR), also 2nd in a Guineas on similar going but stays 10fl strongly. She will be staying on best of all from her convenient draw right behind the pace.

She's had a prep, it's the logical race, the yard are flying, the draw has been kind (less so Limato, while Addeybb looks completely isolated), and she has pacemakers ahead of her.

The only doubt is whether the fire still burns as bright, but she has won Group 1's for two seasons running, which suggests she will be as game as ever.

They will turn this into a real test and her extra stamina will be key.

Good luck today,

3.40 Newbury, Rhododendron 2 points win 7/2 various

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

** Feedback: the race unfolded very much as expected for a memorable win **

Al Shaqab Lockinge day at Newbury racecourse


12 May 2018

Totescoop6 Victoria Cup (Heritage Handicap)

In a race like this it’s easy to get caught up with experienced runners who have dropped a few pounds, but the most successful group (by far) are improving 4 or 5yo’s with a recent run.

There are a few other filters I run the field past to create a short-list (you have to be an ENIGMA member to access that bit), however the candidate who comes out best on my trends this year is Saeed Bin Suroor’s SILENT ATTACK, ridden by SDS. 

He also comes out top on Timeform ratings and was a big eye-catcher last time out, not least for the impressive sectionals. He’s obviously gone up the handicap, but winners of this race (tending to be progressive), are invariably rated a good bit higher than their last winning mark. 

It’s probably more a case of whether he takes to Ascot, but being all-weather proven, there’s a good chance he will. 

Another potential improver is GILGAMESH from George Scott, who continued to enhance his reputation with a fine winner at Chester this week. Gilgamesh didn’t enjoy the ground at Newbury, and also ran too fresh. 

That race though was always just a prep for this, and the drop back to 7lb will suit as will the fast conditions. He’s another lightly raced all-weather performer who is sure to prove progressive this year and looks well worth a crack at Ascot handicaps. 

Looking at my pace chart I think middle to high is the place to be this year (as it often seems to be), and both are nicely drawn among the predicted pace.

Good luck today, 

Silent Attack, 1pt win 15/2 generally 
Gilgamesh, 1pt EW 22/1 5x1/5 various 

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: Silent Attack was disappointing, however Gilgamesh was a big eye-catcher and could do no more than win his side of the draw - compensation may await in the Hunt Cup **

Progressive Silent Attack, a strong trends pick for Saeed Bin Suroor in the 2018 Victoria Cup


28 Apr 2018

B365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

And so, to journey's end; the B365 Gold Cup, last hurrah of the jumps season, won by some classy types over the years and always a race to savour.

We have a good system for this race and went desperately close last year with Vyta Du Roc who (literally) arrived 1 stride too late. Let’s try and put that right in 2018.

Class is key here. The ideal candidate has previously won any kind of race at Grade 2 level, and can make that ability tell from a realistic mark.

For example, since 1999, if you had blindly backed every previous Grade 2 winner 1pt EW on standard bookmaker terms, the outcome would be 22 win or placed from 64, +92.20 pts profit at SP and some very decent prices, with winners up to 25/1.

Three runners fit the criteria this year; Houblon Des Obeaux, Present Man and Bigbadjohn.

Houblon Des Obeaux is gradually coming down the weights, but all bar one of his wins have come in a small field and in any case on the evidence of Ascot in March he will need easier opposition than this to make an impact.

PRESENT MAN interests me. He’s been fairly dismissed by the market after failing to make an impression in this race last year, however that was after winning at Ascot and this is a horse who needs to be extremely fresh.

Paul Nicholls describes him as a horse with a huge amount of ability – his chase record certainly backs that up; 5 wins and 2 seconds from 11 starts. It’s also hard to pin down the ceiling of his ability as he idles in front. The ground has come up okay, which will help him. Bryony Frost knows him inside out and claims a valuable 3lbs.

One with fewer stamina concerns is BIGBADJOHN, who remains nicely treated on the pick of his form for Rebecca Curtis, and who made a winning start for Nigel Twiston-Davies in February. He ran in the 4-miler at Cheltenham last year and was staying on strongly over 3 miles in his recent win.

An early exit in the Topham means he still comes here fresh and this trip looks much more his thing.

Good luck today,

3.35 Sandown, Present Man 1pt EW 22/1+, 5x1/5
3.35 Sandown, Bigbadjohn 1pt EW 14/1, 5x1/5

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: Bigbadjohn disappointing, but as expected Present Man was heavily underestimated and ran a huge race, landing place money **

Present Man trained by Paul Nicholls, looks underestimate for the B365 Gold Cup


14 Apr 2018

Randox Health Grand National Chase (Grade 3)

Becher’s Brook, the most famous fence in the most famous race in the world, might not be quite the test it was but, if anything, the punting opportunities offered by the Aintree Grand National are bigger. So many more trainers can prepare a quality staying chaser these days, aided by enormous prize money not seen anywhere else outside Grade 1 company.

The bookmakers’ always provide a leg up too, offering enhanced each way terms - and in any race where big prices regularly make the first 5 or 6 home, that leaves them vulnerable. Especially when some of the prices are truly spectacular.

We narrowed it down to four last year and picked up place money on Saint Are and Gas Line Boy, backed respectively at 33/1 and 80/1. From the same approach, Vics Canvas was 3rd in 2016 at 100/1. Before that, in 2013, Auroras Encore and Oscar Time were 1st and 4th respectively at 66/1.

What unites all these horses is age: they were all aged between 11 and 13. The 11-y-o’s tend to get noticed (to a degree), but anything 12+ is roundly ignored. And yet, the results conclusively prove that experience often counts when it comes to staying on into the top 5 or 6.

There are a few other points of criteria which I’ll skip over and instead move straight on to this year’s picks (for the full system just join the ENIGMA FORUM).

MAGGIO produced a career best display on the Mildmay course here 2 years ago, when absolutely hacking up at this meeting in a 25fl Listed handicap. He loves soft or heavy ground and has a superb record of completing races.

They assume DOUBLE ROSS won’t stay, but he finished strongly in the Kim Muir a few weeks ago and testing conditions slow the race down to his pace. Ran well in this race 12 months ago until his saddle slipped.

CARLINGFORD LOUGH wouldn’t be the first horse owned by J P McManus to run oddly well after pulling up last time out - National winner Don’t Push It for example. Carlingford Lough is down to a very interesting mark for a multiple Grade 1 winner, and the conditions will suit.

5.15 Aintree Maggio, 0.5pt EW 80/1 6x1/5
5.15 Aintree Double Ross, 0.5pt EW 50/1 6x1/5
5.15 Aintree Carlingford Lough, 0.5pt EW 50/1 6x1/5

Others on the 11-y-o+ short list to consider include Milansbar and Houblon Des Obeaux – both have good chances of getting round and, to be fair, just finishing today will be an achievement.

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: Disappointment this year, but the approach was again hugely effective: 13-y-o Bless The Wings was 3rd at 40/1, 11-y-o Milansbar was 5th at 25/1. In total, 4 of the first 7 home were aged 11 to 13-y-o. Onward to next year...**

Strap in for the big one


24 Mar 2018

32Red Lincoln Handicap (Heritage)

The flat is back. Time to switch codes, well for this week at least. The Lincoln is a race that throws up consistent surprises, an ideal playground for each way fishing.

Casting around for something in the shocks department, J Ryan is a name who comes to mind. The Newmarket man has a great record in the race. He won it in 2014 with Ocean Tempest who raced after coming back from a busy (and unsuccessful) schedule in Meydan to hit a completely new level of form over the straight mile on soft.

Ryan almost pulled it off again with the only other horse he's tried since, Battle Of Marathon who was 3rd on soft in 2016 only beaten 3/4 length at 50/1 - again, via an unsuccessful trip to Meydan. I honestly think Ryan gets some sun on their backs and super fit for early handicap targets back home.

GREY BRITAIN shapes like another horse sent to Meydan to get fit. Not as crazy as it sounds, because (you may not realise) Sheikh Mo pays the return transport to Dubai.

Grey Britain has a nice central draw, he likes to be on the pace and probably can get to the lead in the centre. It won't be easy to hold on, but he stays further and although his wins tend to come in smaller fields, he showed at Goodwood last summer a race like this could work for him - and it's worth pointing out he has a 6lb pull for a short head with Addeybb on that form.

G Mosse has a very good record riding on a Saturday for J Ryan and although a regular visitor to GB tracks in high summer, wouldn't normally fly over for this meeting. He rides three today, including two for Ryan and I think it's this horse that may have tempted him over. Time will tell!

3.35 Doncaster, Grey Britain 1pt EW 22/1+ 5x1/5

NoteENIGMA members were also advised to get on Addeybb antepost at 10/1 EW, which looks great value now.

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: A good day on the forum, 2pt EW on Addeybb at 10's, could be called the winner a long way out. Grey Britain failed to get to the front and faded tamely **


16 Mar 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Day 4

A nice 7/1 winner for the blog yesterday in Shattered Love; turning in it looked all over bar the jumping and thankfully she made it home. If Glenloe was a slicker jumper he too would have collected, held off by the narrowest of margins.

Thursday was also a huge day for ‘The Cheltenham File’ our fanatical Festival angles report, which flagged 11 qualifiers on the ENIGMA forum, including 3 wins and 3 placed. Anyone who subscribed before Cheltenham has already recouped their annual membership many, many times over.

So, to Day 4. It’s fitting to round things off with the Gold Cup. My approach to this race is to narrow the field with some basic class trends: handicap mark 166+, previously won a Grade 1 race of any kind and aged 6 to 9yo. These criteria make a blind profit and has shortlisted the winner every year bar one since 1999.

This year’s list is: Might Bite, Native River, Road To Respect, Our Duke.

Everyone who runs racehorse share syndicates has a ‘one that got away’ story, and here’s mine.

I run the ENIGMA Racing syndicates and we have shares in a number of horses at Seven Barrows. One day Nicky showed us a handsome, but raw and slightly unfurnished gelding he had knocking around.

JP didn’t want it, nor Munir or Buckley or any of his other big owners. Which of course was off-putting. Eventually he found someone to take it. That horse turned out to be none other than Might Bite. It just goes to show what an amazing place Seven Barrows is – where else would that happen? He buys really nice horses.

It’s bad enough he won the King George. Today I discover whether we came within a whisker of owning a share in a Gold Cup winner. Deep joy!

All that aside, this is a day of reckoning for Might Bite. He’s not the most natural jumper in the world and you would think speedier, flatter tracks would be his natural habitat. It’s hard to shake the memory of that quirky / iffy display in a very average RSA last year.

No hiding place here, every which way this is a proper race. In his prime, as he surely is, Might Bite may just win anyway, but there are some big questions to answer - not only the ground, but his King George victory also looked a pretty average renewal. Today he must answer these questions, and in the meantime I suspect the percentage call is to take him on.

I’m against Native River. I backed him last year, he ran very well but got beat and horses who fail to win and come back to try again have a terrible win record. I also think this looks a better renewal.

Which leaves Irish Grand National winner Our Duke, who is heavily fancied in Ireland and Road To Respect who does look the most underestimated horse in the field, and a knocking each way shout. They’ll do for me.

3.30 Our Duke 1pt win 6/1 various
3.30 Road To Respect 1pt EW 11/1+, 4x1/5 generally

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: The correct decision to oppose Might Bite, Native River did the business from our short-list, Road To Respect earned place money **

Day 4, the end is nigh


15 Mar 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Day 3

Another very good day the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA forum yesterday – I was just relieved to have picked one of the better ones for the Pro Tips blog in Barra, who collected the place money and gave us a great run. They kept him wide for much of the race and that just edged us out in the finish.

In the bumper Acey Milan was ridden like he couldn’t be beaten and just ended up with a target on his back which, as we’ve seen all week, didn’t end too well. The winner came from the rear.

On to Day 3. I’ve tipped in 6 races today on the forum and put up half of those on today's blog. All are in with excellent chances - well found in the market, but that’s because they look very solid in the conditions.

This race looks destined to go to Ireland and it’s really a choice between Willie and Gordon. We’ve opted for SHATTERED LOVE who ticks all the boxes and offers better value.

We all know GLENLOE is laid out. Geraghty has sat on most of the other JP entries and still rides Glenloe, who is in the right area of the handicap and looks absolutely ideal for this race.
SAM SPINNER is still progressing and the sole selection for a very good Stayers Hurdle system we operate. He doesn’t have to lead and will do his own thing. He’s the one they all have to beat.

1.30 Shattered Love 1pt win 7/1 various
2.10 Glenloe 1pt win 6/1+ generally
3.30 Sam Spinner 1pt win 7/2 (may drift, try to get BOG terms)

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: Nice win for Shattered Love, Glenloe denied by the narrowest of margins **

Day 3, sponsored by Guinness


14 Mar 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Day 2

I managed to dance around the winners for you yesterday. A 9/1 winner and a double up for my Key Racing Gold thread - Sod’s Law neither featured in the two we picked for the blog, but I will try and make amends on day 2.

Gordon Elliott had no luck at on Day 1, but the horses look well. Mossback was in the process of running a huge race when he came down. Mick Jazz ran very well and most of the flops were ground related. 

No such worries for BARRA, who was placed at the Festival last year and looks laid out for 2018. The question is whether the combo of ground and trip will catch him out, but with a great racing weight he’s well worth chancing at the price.

In the bumper, ACEY MILAN comes out very well on our stats and looks in with a great chance.

2.50 Barra 1pt EW 20/1 5x1/4 B365, Marathon, Sun
5.30 Acey Milan 2pt win 7/1 various

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: Barra made the frame and looked like the winner until edged out in 3-way finish **

Festival Day 2, bring it on


13 Mar 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Day 1

Time for the big one!

Very testing ground makes for an interesting twist this year. Although they will have fresh ground to start with it's going to be very hard work in the later races. It goes without saying we are looking for horses at home in the conditions who will stay.

I'll be pressed for time this week, but I will aim to give you one or two each day - to receive the full list you obviously need to be a member of the ENIGMA forum

4.10 Cheltenham, Le Bague Au Roi 1pt EW 15/2, 3x1/5
4.50 Cheltenham, Mossback 1pt EW 6/1, 3x1/4

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

** Feedback: no joy on day 1, Mossback fell when travelling like the winner **

Mud, glorious mud


24 Feb 2018

Betfred Eider Handicap Chase (Class 2)

Mud-lovers everywhere eye up the Eider chase to provide a suitable playground for their talents. It’s not soft or heavy there every year, but when it is the going stick usually registers 4 point something which equals a slog-fest, where just to finish counts as an achievement.

Purely taking the years where the official going was soft or heavy, gives us 9 renewals this century: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014 & 2017. You would think these would throw up some some lumpy prices, but aside from a 16/1 in 2011 all the winners were reasonably well found: 10/1 or lower. It’s a very similar story with runners in the frame.

8 of those winners were officially rated from 123 to 138 – all the 8 most recent renewals. Of these, 7 had previously raced 4 to 13 times in steeplechases and over half of those had competed in no more than 4 to 7. The only exception was Nil Desperandum in 2007, who was a Grade 1 winner as a novice and exceptionally durable. For normal horses, they need to be much lower mileage to want to do this.

Running these filters in 2018 throws up: Vinnie Lewis, Back To The Thatch & Thebarrowman.

Thebarrowman is dark horse material and impossible to weigh up as he’s never raced beyond 25fl. He’s got regular partner Roger Loughran in the saddle so that doesn’t tell us much. Chances are he’s in over his head but watch out for signs of support on the run to post.

BACK TO THE THATCH would be an unusual winner as a 6yo and takes a massive step into the unknown in terms of trip. But he will love the conditions and looks a young staying chaser going places. VINNIE LEWIS has been well found, but remains on a workable price and ticks all the boxes.

2.45 Newcastle, Back to the Thatch 1pt EW 8/1, 4x1/4
2.45 Newcastle, Vinnie Lewis 2pt win 11/2

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

Mud, wonderful mud


17 Feb 2018

Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

The Betfred Grand National Trial is always one of those good staying chases to savour at this time of year, although 2018 has produced a smallish field that rather lacks strength in depth.

Money has poured in for Wild West Wind who took a crashing fall when going well 6 or 7 out in the Welsh National. It really was a shocking exit and it remains to be seen whether the memory of that calamity dents his appetite. If not, then he has an obvious chance, but the value has long gone.

This Grand National Trial is the obvious next step for The Dutchman, who has been raised 13lbs for winning a substandard Peter March and also has a question to answer at the trip. Three Faces West is another coming back from a fall. Silsol looked a shade of each way value at when 12/1+, but represents more of a frame than winning chance.

BLAKLION was 2nd in this last year, in a better renewal, 18 lengths clear of the 3rd. His 9-length romp in the Becher Chase means he lines up 9 pounds higher this time, but nevertheless it’s going to take a good one to stop him and Sam Twiston-Davies swerves the claims of Silsol to take the ride.

Thanks to the strength of Wild West Wind the layers have been forced to push him out to around 3/1 (Blacktype are 10/3 as I pen this), and that looks an opportunity to be taken.

3.15 Haydock, Blaklion 1.5pt win 3/1+


This week we are at Haydock Park Racecourse for the Grand National Trial


3 Feb 2018

Notes for Sandown & Musselburgh

A couple of pieces of advice that I think will guide you in the right direction this afternoon:


Sandown hosts a really good Grade 3 staying handicap hurdle, the Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle at 3pm.

Being Sandown in early Feb, over a stiff 3 miles and invariably run in pretty testing conditions, it’s no surprise that weight has tended to be the crucial factor.

16 of the last 18 winners carried no more than 10-12, including every winner since 2005. The ones to concentrate on are aged up to 9yo and no higher than 20/1 SP. And qualifiers regularly litter the frame. For instance, last year there were 6 qualifiers, they finished: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9.

If you had backed every qualifier since 1997, £1 EW at standard EW terms, you’d would be +£54.11 with 37 win or placed (33.33% SR). And that’s before any bookmakers’ EW concessions for 5th place. That 5th place, if you can get it, would have paid out an extra 9 times for 46 win or placed.

You might want to take a close look at this years’ possible qualifiers, who are: Flemcara, Golan Fortune, Okotoks, King Of Fashion, Dashing Park, Forth Act, Man Of Plenty. You could do a lot worse than back 2 or 3 EW who are either firmly or at least not unsupported on the way to post.


A few notable NH trainers are sending horses on a long trip (280 miles+) to Scotland today. Two to be aware of when that happens are Fergal O’Brien and Paul Nicholls in hunter chases, maiden or handicaps.

Paul Nicholls; 11 wins from 44, 25% SR, +£30.50 LSP
Fergal O’Brien; 17 wins from 44, 38.64% SR, +£49.78 LSP

O’Brien uses a variety of riders, but none more so than Paddy Brennen. When Brennan is in the plate they are 11 wins from 26, 42.31% SR, +£34.78 LSP. Brennen takes the ride today on 12.55 Muss, Imperial Eloquence & 3.15 Muss, Bells N Banjos.

The only fly in the ointment is that they have been cleaning up mid-week, so on a Saturday they are up against a hoard of Paul Nicholls runners. The current returns for Saturday only are:

Paul Nicholls; 6 wins from 28, 21.43% SR, +£15 LSP
Fergal O’Brien; 0 wins from 3, 0%, -£3.00

It would clearly be unwise to reject the O’Brien runners out of hand; Paddy Brennen is going a long way to take the rides. They all need considering, and between them are likely to produce a few winners this afternoon.

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

Sandown Park racecourse


27 Jan 2018

Sky Bet Handicap Chase (Class 2)

Nice to be back blogging today after a bit of downtime for the Festive season. So, without further ado.

UPSILON BLEU has been popular at Doncaster today, and in our opinion rightly so, but there’s enough useful opposition to keep the price fairly honest at 4/1.

Harry Whittington’s Bigmartre is a young improver stepping out of novice company, he’s open to improvement but will need to in these deeper waters.

Upsilon Bleu is a Doncaster course specialist with course form of 2,1,1 – his last two last career wins coming at this time of year at the Yorkshire venue, including this race last term.

He’s back on the same mark of 142 today, arrives in very good form and drops to his best trip after a nice spin at Musselburgh. He handles the ground – in class 2 company at Donny he’s won on good and soft.

Trip, track, distance, class, going, form. There are ticks in every box and he looks a major player.

3.50 Doncaster, Upsilon Bleu 2pt win 4/1 various

Good luck,


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Upsilon Bleu, major player in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster