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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