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

ENIGMA is a racing club devoted to betting and shared racehorse ownership - everything horse racing - where you can connect with people who share your passion through a quality members forum.

The forum has grown to host an array of quality betting threads, while our members now own shares in over 50 horses in GB and IRE, including National Hunt horses with Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, David Pipe and Ben Pauling.

You can take ENIGMA for a test drive, completely risk-free, with our


Join now and be with us for the Open Meeting and every big meeting in the jumps calendar through to the Festival and Aintree.


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