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 **