29 Oct 2019

Cheltenham Handicap Winners

Jump racing is back, and that means access to my all-time favourite betting venue.

For people who like to land a price, Cheltenham handicaps offer world-class betting opportunities.

I make a bee-line for any meeting that serves up handicap winners at double figure prices - and nowhere serves up more of those than Prestbury Park.

Only this March I put up WILLIAM HENRY on this blog for the Coral Cup, advised at 33/1 amid a fine week at the Festival.

The mud was flying that day and it was again at the Showcase meeting last week - always a plus in my book at Cheltenham from a handicap perspective.

As soon as the ground turns properly soft you can rule out the good ground operators, but you can also rule out the dedicated front running types; unless they get a very soft lead, they simply won't get home.

The key is to sift the remainder for abundant stamina in the conditions, far above the advertised trip - shortlisting any with an interesting handicap mark (not necessarily with just a low weight).

In terms of prime candidates, that often leaves a surprisingly small number - hopefully including some at workable prices. The bigger the better - favourites are not going to pay the bills here.

I defaulted to this strategy last week at the Showcase meeting and it again paid dividends with two winners from three bets across the meeting on my ENIGMA forum thread:

Day 1: Duke Street WON 9/1 SP (recommended 1.5pt win)
Day 2: The Conditional WON 14/1 SP (recommended 1pt EW)

A tiny part of the forum feedback is published below

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12 Oct 2019

Emirates Cesarewitch Stakes (Heritage Handicap)

Today it’s the Cesarewitch, the annual cavalry charge named after Tsar Alexander II, the race that starts in Cambridgeshire and ends in Suffolk.

Prices up to 66/1 hit the frame and even occasionally win, so this is race tailor-made for each way players - with the layers vulnerable to 6 places, let alone the 7 or 8 places offered by some.

The question is how to spot genuine each way value?

Primarily, it stands to reason, you are looking for evidence of class and well-being that is somehow undervalued. Almost all horses who run well in this race ran a decent prep last time out - and for dual code runners, the successful ones always prep'd on the flat.

It's also worth noting that almost all recent winners carried less than 9-02 and many a good deal less than that. In terms of draw it starts to get tricky above stall 24, not impossible but most who try it fail.

After putting in several hours on this years' field, one who looks potentially well-overpriced is Mick Channon's BILLY RAY. Incidentally, a tangent on the subject of West Ilsley, if you've never read Mick Junior's book 'How's Your Dad?', it's excellent and very funny.

Billy Ray ran a terrific race in the very valuable Marsh Cup at Newbury this summer on the rain-softened ground that makes all the difference to him. In the process comfortably seeing off solid yardsticks Coeur de Lion and Who Dares Wins.

Afterwards, returned to fast ground, he was predictably bad in the Shergar Cup - the third time he's run badly at that venue from three starts. It looks safe to put a line through.

He wasn't stopping in the Marsh Cup and there's good reason to think this extended trip will suit. He's since had his wind tidied up and with the ground having come right they look to be throwing the kitchen sink at him today, with first time visor to boot. 

Billy Ray went up 3lbs for the Newbury run but is a net 2lbs lower as they are claiming 5lbs. His draw in 18 looks fine for a horse who travels well, buried away mid div and he has an ideal racing weight. 

I think the market has over-reacted to the Ascot run and his wind op, but we will see. Successful runners do tend to have run a good prep, but I think there are solid excuses in this case which has thrown the market off the scent. The Marsh Cup run was no fluke.

For a lightly raced stayer with an improving profile / great record on soft ground, 50/1 looks awfully big. If they have him right he could surprise a few people.

4.10 Newmarket, Billy Ray 1pt EW 50/1 to 7 places Paddy or 8 places Sky

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold betting thread on the ENIGMA forum

The Cesarewitch, the race that starts in Cambridgeshire and ends in Suffolk 


10 Oct 2019

Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap (Class 6)

With the yearling sales in full swing I've been a bit pre-occupied of late sifting new recruits for the Enigma Racing shares scheme and putting syndicates together.

However, almost all the shares are sold now and I'm back in the game, limbering up for the Cesarewitch meeting, when this one popped up on my stats for Southwell today.

For reasons that are probably obvious to everyone by now, USA-breeding (especially USA dirt breeding) is of prime interest on Southwell's fibresand surface. 

There is a clear statistical edge in taking a chance on these sorts before the market can accurately weigh their ability. But on debut they have long proved under-priced - particularly if you focus on yards who employ it as a repeated strategy.

This has been around for ages but there are far fewer USA-bred horses around here these days, and so just a trickle of qualifiers. Richard Fahey has one today:

Richard Fahey USA-bred runners on fibresand debut at Southwell; 5 wins from 22 (22.73% SR, £27.63 LSP - an ROI of 125.59% at SP).

He has a couple of runners in the 6.15 and SEVEN FOR A POUND might be the sort to do well. He has a good draw and makes his fibresand debut having only ever shown interesting career form on the all-weather, most notably at Lingfield where he didn't stay 10fl. 

He's since come down 12lbs and looks potentially set up for a winter campaign. The drop down to a mile looks a sensible move and he has to be of interesting trying fibresand for the first time, with a USA breeding on both sides of his pedigree. 

6.15 Southwell, Seven For A Pound 1pt win 15/2 various

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold betting thread on the ENIGMA forum

Enigma racing forum: 5-Star review average on Google


14 Sept 2019


Apols for the lack of a recent post, the ENIGMA Racing syndicates have monopolised my time for the past few weeks - see the latest shares with Mark Johnston, Joseph O’Brien & Richard Hannon. Prices from just £180.

Everyone is on A Momentofmadness this year, although we had the distinction of tipping him in 2018 at 25/1 – see the Blog Post.

Moreover, readers of my thread on the ENIGMA forum got 33/1 (a lesson in there somewhere).

A MOMENTOFMADNESS goes very well fresh and last year skipped York en route to here, so I was surprised to see him line up at York this year. But the way he ran shaped like putting the finishing touches to him, so despite a different prep I can’t see a reason to lose faith.

The 5.5fl trip suits him perfectly, he ran an excellent time last year and is 4lbs lower now. His whole season revolves around this race and we know he’s coming into it in good nick. He doesn’t want it rattling quick, but the watered ground should be ideal.

Clive Cox is a man to keep on side at this meeting. September is usually a very good month for the yard, and this is a meeting he increasingly targets. Since 2016, his runners have returned a blind profit; 5 win or placed from 12, for +44.05 pts LSP (EW). Cox is also a previous winner of this race (as was Charlie Hills last year).  

He fields KONCHEK who was an eye-catcher last time out and looks to have been put by for this meeting.

Konchek has been highly tried but remains a low-mileage horse who has gradually come down to a workable mark. This looks his level and, most importantly, this also looks his trip and ground. The track should also suit.

You could play this various ways for a place - if you have a Hills account it would be almost rude not to take the 7 place concession - but feeling ahead of the game after last year I’m personally content to simply take these two against the field.

1.50 Doncaster, A Momentofmadness 1.5pt win 7/1 various
1.50 Doncaster, Konchek 1pt win 33/1 various

Herbie has 3 more selections today at Doncaster and Leopardstown – available to readers of his Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA forum.

Doncaster racecourse, Town Moor. Home of the St Leger


17 Aug 2019

William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap (Class 2)

Delighted to be back from a bit of an extended summer break. With so much growth in the ENIGMA racehorse share syndicates, summer has actually become a good time reign it in, before the yearling sales season starts up again this weekend.

The Great St Wilfrid handicap has always been a favourite of mine, especially when there’s a bit of cut underfoot as it rules out so many while ruling in those with the relevant course form.

The perfect profile for this race is runners aged 4 to 7, with 1 to 3 previous course wins. So great is the advantage of winning course form, just applying this criteria to any 3yo+ or 4yo+ class 2 sprint run at Ripon since 2003 produces a blind profit of +£43 from 166 qualifiers.

Having narrowed the field, and with soft ground firmly in mind, the one I like is Mark Johnston’s LAKE VOLTA who has a great deal going for him.

Two of his best three career runs have come on soft, including over 6fl at Hamilton just 3 starts back. He’s since run at Ascot, a course where he never runs well, and faced an impossible task in the Stewards’ Cup.

He tends to be ridden to the fore which is ideal for this track and his Ripon course form over 6fl reads 3rd, 1st (3rd was in Listed company). His central draw also looks realistic, with low to middle draws usually favoured, especially in these conditions.

A few firms have put their head above the parapet, offering 6 places which looks particularly attractive.

Good luck!

3.15 Ripon, Lake Volta 1pt EW 9/1, 6x1/5 (Hills, Paddy)

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

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Ripon - Yorkshire's garden racecourse hosts the Great St Wilfrid handicap


15 Jun 2019

Pavers Foundation Sprint Handicap (Class 2)

I’ve barely noticed the weather this week as I’ve been sifting through research ahead of Royal Ascot, but bobbed up to take a good look at this handicap, which is one I always enjoy as it has a history of landing excellent prices – 6 at double figures in the last 10 years, and 3 of those at 20/1+

The reason is simple, it’s a 3yo only race, wide open to improvers – whereas the market tends to run short of inspiration and overbet form in the book. While soft ground helps to keep Arab-owned hotpots away and maintain a nice open affair.

The fact that neither Moore or Doyle are riding for Haggas today suggests Victory Day is not necessarily a good thing. Doyle can do the weight and is riding for Haggas earlier on the card but appears to not have wanted it.

Moreover, Danny Tudhope surely had the choice of Victory Day and SECRET VENTURE and rides the latter (having ridden both last time out). I don’t lay horses by inclination, but if I did I’d be laying Victory Day.

Secret Venture was unsuited by the ground on reappearance and lost a shoe. He’s a lightly raced improver for a top northern sprint yard and should appreciate the conditions. He looks well drawn too, but more of that later.

Perhaps less obvious is another runner from the Kevin Ryan yard, YOUSINI. It’s worth watching his last run at Newmarket where he travelled into the race like a proper horse until flashing his tail and backing out. It’s a fine line with him – he really wants some juice but can cope with goodish ground if it’s loose on top (but didn’t that day.)

He’s by Siyouni and has always wanted some ease, but last summer that was impossible to find and by autumn he needed wind surgery, so was put away. We have a share in him via the ENIGMA Racing Syndicates, so we’re aware of all this. Finally, he has it all in place today. 

Yousini is in very good form at home and if he disappoints it will only be that his suspect wind has come to haunt him (which I don't think it will.) The yard think he’ll run a big race and I’m pretty hopeful too.

As regards draw, I looked back over the last 17 class 2 sprint handicaps run at York (ie since 2016), run on gd-sft or wetter, and every winner was drawn 1-11. Both the above are drawn low and looking at the stats that certainly doesn’t feel like a negative.

Royal Ascot

I will try and post the odd thing here during the Royal meeting – however if you’d like to follow me bet for bet (which historically is a productive thing to do), it's good moment to join the ENIGMA Forum, where you can subscribe to my Key Racing Gold thread to receive an email with each bet.

Good luck!

3.35 York, Secret Venture 1pt EW 14/1, 5x1/5
3.35 York, Yousini 1pt EW 33/1 5x1/5

** Secret Venture disappointing, Yousini 5th to collect excellent place money - Victory Day beaten for lay bettors (but only just!) **

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

The Knavesmire, Ascot of the North


1 Jun 2019

Derby Day 2019

I chipped in the Oaks winner yesterday for my Key Racing Gold thread which is having another excellent month on the ENIGMA FORUM and I think there’s every chance I can complete the double as we eye up the boys’ event.

With Sir Dragonet in 13 and Telecaster drawn 2, the Frankie factor looks to be at play in the Derby market with the well-drawn Circus Maximus an EW compromise bet, Dettori riding for Ballydoyle.

Circus Maximus is a decent trends match. You are looking for unexposed, improving runners (2 to 5 career starts), top-3 last time out with a prep at Chester, Leopardstown, Newmarket or York.
The kicker is they need to be drawn in stalls 4 and 15. Lower than 4 and you need a lot of luck to overcome traffic problems. Above stall 11 it becomes tricky, but if you have the class to inhale your peers, you usually get the bonus of a clear run.

The qualifiers this year are: SIR DRAGONET and Circus Maximus. After Frankie’s performance yesterday Circus Maximus has attracted support (he looks a frame chance), but it’s questionable whether he has the brilliance to win.

But then again few horses in this field have firmly hinted at the combo of brilliance and stamina that marks out a really good one. Only two appeal as having such potential, Sir Dragonet and Telecaster, and I'd rather be drawn in 13 than 2. It's not the biggest Derby field, stall 13 isn't a disaster for a horse with class, but Telecaster will certainly need luck in running.

The Dash

As you know, we are also active with a very successful racehorse share scheme. Amazingly, we have a stake in 2 runners today at the Derby meeting (a thrill in itself), and at least one of them deserves a mention.

HAROME is a fast horse who likes to lead and the Epsom Dash has long been the race they’ve had in mind. He also loves fast ground and arrives here cherry-ripe on a nice mark from a decent draw.

Roger Fell is an excellent trainer. He was David O’Meara’s landlord and assistant in his ‘magic period’ and Fell now trains in his own right from the same premises with much the same result. In short, Harome is in very good hands.

His recent run at York put the finishing touches to his fitness, whilst running an eye-catching race from the wrong side of the draw. ENIGMA FORUM members took 25/1 EW midweek, but he’s still very backable and we’d like to think can be bang there.

3.45 Epsom, Harome 1pt EW 16/1, 5x1/5 various
4.30 Epsom, Sir Dragonet 2pt win 3/1 various

** Harome blew the start and finished like a train from dead last into 6th - so frustrating, would surely have gone very close. Sir Dragonet, ultimately, not good enough **

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

The Investec Derby Stakes 2019 Group 1


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

** Unplaced, nice trends match but it wasn't wet enough for him **

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.

** 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...** 

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

Day 2 of the 2019 Aintree Festival


15 Mar 2019

Cheltenham Festival 2019 - 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

** 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 ** 

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


14 Mar 2019

Cheltenham Festival 2019 - Day 3

Handicap winners at 14/1 and 33/1 so far this week on the ENIGMA Forum has been a great start. One of our members, who resides in France, messaged me yesterday to say he bagged William Henry at 56/1 on the PMU!

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:

Spend a few hours on the JLT and one and you just can't get away from DEFI DU SEUIL having a great chance. Geraghty got him beat when going too soon in the Dipper and put that right at Sandown.

Defi Du Seuil has a great course record, won't mind what the weather does and is surely the one they all have to beat. Improving mare Pravalaguna with her allowance might be the EW play, but she's probably striving for 3rd at best and she's not the biggest.

JP looks in the driving seat on this one.

1.30 Cheltenham, Defi Du Seuil 2.5pt win 10/3 various

** WINNER! A touch of inevitability about it...they can't live with his kick **

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


13 Mar 2019

Cheltenham Festival 2019 - Day 2

Winners yesterday at 6/1 and 14/1 on my ENIGMA Forum thread, so it was frustrating to pick the wrong one to put up on this blog. Aiming to fix that today.

Nicky Henderson's WILLIAM HENRY has a similar profile to the stable's Beware The Bare who bagged the Ultima yesterday following an excellent run in the same race (in similar conditions) 12 months before.

William Henry also goes particularly well at Cheltenham and like Beware The Bear runs here after a wind op. He is also on the same mark as last year - albeit he's lost James Bowen's 3lb claim.

Nico is on board suggesting William Henry is going very well at home and I can't help noticing he's been kept fresh, having won no fewer than 3 times previously coming off a break.

There's every reason to believe the stars are aligned here for a big run at a big price.

2.50 Cheltenham, William Henry 1pt EW 33/1, 5x1/5

** BOOM! Into orbit with William Henry a 33/1 winner - the Milky Bars are on me! 

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA forum - 
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12 Mar 2019

Cheltenham Festival 2019 - Day 1

Time for the big one!

There's a bit of rain about and the going is likely to be softish. It's a wintery, windy day 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 access all my bets you obviously need to be a member of the ENIGMA Forum.

So, to today.

The dogs are barking for the Gordon Elliott runner who is a triple qualifier on our 'Cheltenham File' stats report for the yard. Rain no issue, can be a little sketchy but has a big engine and if he gets round looks sure to run a very big race.

2.10 Cheltenham, Hardline 1.25pt EW 5/1, 3x1/5

** For whatever reason didn't fire on the big day...we move on **

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


9 Mar 2019

Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

It’s that time of year again. Imperial Cup day, followed by a week of the finest jumps racing on the planet. It doesn’t get better than this, so it would be nice to set off with a winner.

You don’t get to win a race as competitive as this by accident. Horses prepared specifically for the race will always tend to be at home in soft conditions - so it's a relief to see the ground described as soft (heavy in places) on the hurdles course. Things don’t feel right at Sandown on the jumps course unless there’s ease underfoot. Anything else and I tend to lose interest.

Other than a liking for the conditions, the other key pre-requisite is to arrive in good form. Winners have almost always recently confirmed their well-being, even if smuggled into the race on a protected mark. 

They also have to be at their best going right-handed (or at least not disadvantaged).

Other things to look for. A prep run 16 to 60 days ago. Not too much weight - ideally no more than a net 11-02 - and the ability to stay further than the bare trip. Given the strong galloping, testing nature of the race it’s a real challenge just to run to your mark. The ones that do stay well.

Plug all this in and the one who ticks all the boxes is Paul Nicholls' MALAYA. Stays further - a stiff 2 miles on soft looks perfect - goes RH, ideal weight, excellent career record and an improving profile. Looks thoroughly laid too out after a deliberately quiet (but excellent) prep.

Henderson controls the handicap but has inadvertently set things up to a nicety for Malaya, although it’s worth having a saver on his own runner, DREAM DU GRAND VAL, who is improving fast and could have more untapped potential.

Looking further ahead, this would be a very timely moment to obtain ENIGMA Forum access. Once a member, it's free to subscribe to my Key Racing Gold thread and receive a copy of all my bets throughout the Festival. Roll on Tuesday!

2.25 Sandown, Malaya 1.5pt win 5/1
2.25 Sandown, Dream Du Grand Val 0.5pt win 7/1

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

** Malaya Wins 7/1 SP - jockey confirmed she had been laid out for months and was given a quiet confidence booster ahead of the big day...roll on Tuesday ** 

Mud, mud, glorious mud


23 Feb 2019

888Sport Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Today we are off to the park, and the Jockey Club's least-loved racecourse. Their disingenuous slogan for this meeting "it may be wet, it may be windy, but it will be wonderful". No thanks to you!

Good old Kempton has the last word, with a glorious forecast of 15 Celcius.

This is an excellent betting race, with a long history of wrong-footing the market. Ideal betting fodder for value players.

There have been 5 winners at double figure SP’s in the last 10 years, including 25/1 and 28/1. While the favourite in the last 3 years has finished 9th, 9th and UR.

There are several outsiders to pick from, but the one I've had my eye on is CATAMARAN DE SEUIL, who has shown this year that preconceptions about him being a purely a soft ground performer were misplaced.

The 7yo is in career best form and looks ahead of his mark over the right trip, even without improvement. He isn't going to Cheltenham because he needs a flat galloping track. Crucially, on decent ground, he also needs a trip and today he gets it all.

Catamaran was a fast finishing 2nd to Calipto last time out over an inadequate 2m4fl - staying on very strongly after the last, while giving that one a net 5lbs. In hindsight an impossible task - even after a 5lb hike and the loss of his 7lb conditional riders' claim, Calipto came out and won a Listed chase at Ascot last weekend. All the while Catamaran’s mark has not changed at all.

The key to this race is often simply being in good form: just backing every runner with a top 3 finish LTO since 1998, produces: 18 wins from 138 +42.83 to SP. Exactly half of those winners came directly from good races at either Aintree, Cheltenham or Wincanton, so he's a decent trends match.

Moreover, Catamaran de Seuil has a great race record: 1st or 2nd 10 times from 15 chase starts and he's with a quality trainer in Dr Newland. My main concern is whether the yard are firing yet after giving all their inmates flu boosters this month. Hopefully, they will shake that off this weekend.

If he does disappoint, I suspect that's all it will be and Catamaran will be of interest wherever he goes next. In the meantime, lets hope he can make a mockery of his 141 rating today.

3.35 Kempton, Catamaran Du Seuil 0.75pt EW 20/1, 3x1/5

** Ran impressively until getting tired - the yard aren't firing just now and compensation with this one will come in due course ** 

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

Show Homes over here


22 Feb 2019

Devon National Handicap Chase (Class 3)

I spent quite a while on this race and one horse does pop out as offering a value angle.

Owner Brocade Racing used to quite regularly play the PU last time out trick with the Pipe yard, ahead of a serious crack at a little staying pot at a provincial track, and they have an interesting runner with that profile lining up today.

The market assumes SANDY BEACH is a horse losing the will to compete three runs after wind surgery - and that may be the case - but the gelding was previously PU in his only start at Sandown and I think it's just as likely that last run was intended to drop him a few pounds ahead of today. It's not as though he was running especially badly before wind surgery.

If this proves correct, then it was mission accomplished and he lines up realistically treated at a track he likes, over an ideal-looking trip in the advertised conditions. 

Colin Tizzard also has an excellent record in the race: 2 wins from 8 runners with 2 also finishing 4th in 14 runner fields. In fact, he's a man who in general has a habit of popping up with well-treated horses to do well in decent handicaps of all sorts.

Speculative, and it may not be pretty to watch even on a going day, but Sandy Beach has the whiff of value about him and looks fairly priced to find out.

4.20 Exeter, Sandy Beach 0.75pt EW 16/1, 3x1/4

** Great run, fast closing 3rd to collect place money, just given a bit too much to do **

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

It's Devon National day at Exeter racecourse


16 Feb 2019

William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle (Grade 2)

This race has tended to be a graveyard for favourites over the last decade, although soft or heavy ground doesn't apply today which may assist Yanworth who comes back from nearly a year off.

A good criteria for value in this race is to focus on horses who ran on a Saturday last time out and have previously run in a race of at least a 3 miles. This has short-listed the winner 16 times since 1998 (16/83 +25.08 to SP). 

This improves to (16/75 +33.08), if excluding horses with a mark lower than 138. This angle has each way potential as when it misses the horse that finished 2nd is almost always short-listed too.

This year the qualifiers are Shades Of Midnight and 2018 winner Donna's Diamond. 

It's easy to side with Shades Of Midnight, the latter is considerably up in weight from last year, lacks his preferred testing ground and finished 76 lengths behind Shades Of Midnight on their last start at Kelso.

If the Yanworth of old turns up there will only be one winner, but Shades Of Midnight looks to have Clyne (who would definitely much prefer it a lot softer) to beat for 2nd, comes into this in-form and looks a fair price.

1.55 Haydock, Shades Of Midnight, 1pt EW 9/1 various, 2x1/4

** WON - set the fractions, Yanworth beaten a long way out. Ran out a comfortable winner **

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

Haydock Park racecourse


2 Feb 2019

888Sport Masters Handicap Chase (Class 2)

I’m relieved the racing has survived at Sandown as finally we have a meeting run in the kind of conditions we’d expect for the time of year.

Moreover, the ENIGMA Racing syndicates have a stake in Divine Spear who runs there today in the most backable handicap on the card, and there are good reasons to think he may be about to outrun his current quote of 22/1.

Divine Spear is quite a big unit and it took him a while to fill out his frame. He’s a very solid jumper, chasing was always going to be his game and last year body and mind came together and we got a glimpse of the horse he could be. A freak injury on the very eve of the 2018 Festival spoiled the party as he’d been primed to arrive there at his peak.

Going into that we were confident he was well-handicapped, and he’s since come down a couple of pounds. Rated 139, we think (and hope) he’s destined to wind up well into the 140’s over fences.

With regard to today, it’s worth bearing in mind that Divine Spear's half-brother Jadanli was a Thyestes Chase winner who loved it soft and I think this is the sort of race the Spear been building up to his whole career.

Put a line through the run last year at Musselburgh, that was purely for fitness – he’s better judged on the prior run when hacking up at Ascot on soft by 10 lengths in a novice chase (giving 5lbs to Exitas who is now rated 142). Divine Spear has often run well right-handed and, crucially, today he finally again gets his conditions.

At Cheltenham on reappearance this year the yard thought he would run well, but the ground was very firm underneath and he didn’t travel a yard. Nico eased him down a long way out to save him for another day. We know he’s a lot better than that. He’s largely unfancied today coming off that run.

It is possible that he’s lost his appetite for the game, but there’s no doubt in my mind he is overpriced to find out. My bigger concern is whether he’ll stay the 3-mile trip in these conditions at a course as stiff as Sandown. That is a journey into the unknown but his jumping, breeding and liking for the conditions give him a shot. Nico hasn’t lost faith in him either.

3.35 Sandown, Divine Spear 0.75pt EW 22/1, 5x1/5 various

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

** Nico reports the Spear travelled great but simply didn't stay. 2.5 miles is his trip, especially in testing ground. He jumped and travelled, compensation awaits in due course **

Divine Spear looks underestimated today at Sandown in ideal conditions


1 Feb 2019

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