Horse Racing

Galway Festival – Monday

29 Jul
July 29, 2013

Bad information worse than no information at all?

The first day’s racing at Galway was typically enthralling as the Ballybrit track hosted a highly competitive card. Unfortunately an old gripe resurfaced. Information available to racing supporters is at best scant and at worse, plainly inaccurate. Later going reports issued from Galway on Monday related to a softening of the surface and officially described as yielding, yielding to soft on the flat course. This information, at the time, was a boon to those attempting to pare down Tote ticket perms. Lines went through good ground horses faster than the time the bookies take to shorten a Weld runner.

Everything seemed to be going to plan, until the running of the feature race over two miles for qualified riders. Noises had been issued about the unlikely running of Domination, a confirmed good ground performer, on account of the ground. Edeymi was readily discounted as another in search of better going along with Redera, his stablemate. So imagine the consternation when on official going of yielding, yielding to soft in places, these three horses fill out the tricast between them. What was worse was the fact that the merits of Mr.S.Clements (5) were fully known to the author in a contest where pilot competency is vital.

In the same vein, it is probably virtually impossible to calculate accurate speed ratings for the meeting since rail alignments are likely to be drastically altered throughout the week and it will be a surprise if any meaningful information will be passed on. It will be worth knowing that the rails are likely to move inwards and that there will be a strong bias towards runners who race prominently on the inside of the track. But as is often the case, the exact state of the underfoot conditions will be a matter of conjecture.

Homework Club

24 Jul
July 24, 2013

What is information really worth?

There have been two instances in the past few weeks that have probably left amateur data collectors truely staggered. The most recent event is the revelation that there is a doubt over Radamel Falcao’s true birth date. Whether there is any basis to this story is not something I’m going to comment on, but the interesting part is whether any of the Colombian goalmachine’s suitors of this Summer had any notion there may have been an irregularity. The assumption, at least on Monaco’s part, is that the information supplied to clubs was taken on trust. It is hard for those outside of the game to rationalise, why with the staggering amounts of money in transfer fees and salaries at stake, that every detail of the career of a potential recruit isn’t microscopically analysed. Surely it would have paid Monaco to pay a researcher 50 K to examine Falcao’s back history when the weekly salary difference between that of a 27 year old and a player two years older would be at least that.

Ashton Agar provided magical moments of play in the Trent Bridge test match at the beginning of the Ashes series. I was confounded that no one in the commentary box or in the pavilion knew anything about this useful player. It wasn’t as if Australia had brought an unmanageably large squad with them for the opposition to scout. It was clear from the outset that England had no particular plan in order to prise the number eleven from the middle. Test match lower order batsman, as a rule, can bat and the idea that good balls would be wasted on such players is an outdated concept. The fact that Agar bats with a distinctive style, with a higher than normal backlift, probably means that there are effective methods for getting him out. Bowling short on an unhelpful wicket gave the semblance of England having no plan at all in this instance.

It’s almost bizarre that in the era of analytical enlightenment that due diligence isn’t being adhered to at the levels that those of us outside professional sport would consider standard. Monaco could well end up feeling how I did on Sunday when the 25-1 shot, Silk Hall, eliminated my ticket from the Pick6. The ‘paper didn’t say that he was wearing blinkers for the first time, because he wasn’t. Further study would have revealed that it was only his second appearance in the headgear and lack of homework again proved costly.

Champion Hurdle : Cheltenham 3:20.

12 Mar
March 12, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Hurricane Fly @9-4

The picture surrounding this year’s Champion Hurdle has changed markedly over the past week due to the change in the weather and ground conditions. Hurricane Fly seemed to be caught out last year by the very fast prevailing ground conditions and up to a week or so ago it looked as if we were set for a similar scenario. The course at Cheltenham is soft all round and underfoot conditions are set to deteriorate further. Many of the leading lights have done their best this Winter to avoid the heavier ground but events for the main day appear not to have panned out for them. In contrast, Hurricane Fly has won in desperate conditions in Ireland and few concerns have ever been expressed over his ability to handle wet ground. His hurdling this season has been sharp and he arrives off an unbeaten campaign. He deserves to be favourite to win back the Hurdling Crown and at 9-4 warrants a serious betting interest. He was posted at around 6-4 when it looked as if he was due to encounter fast ground and now finds himself at a fairer price with conditions in his favour.

Saturday horseracing : Ascot 3:15

16 Feb
February 16, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Whitby Jack (EW) @7-1

Whitby Jack finds himself at the right end of the weights in this traditionally strong handicap. While he was never probably under serious consideration for taking up his entry in last Saturday’s ultra competitive Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, but the fact that someone thought he was worth an entry indicates that he still retains a fair degree of progression. He was a decisive winner at Kempton last month and is clearly at home on a right handed track. At 7-1 it is worth finding out whether he can be competitive in this higher grade but the fact that he hails from a stable more than capable of lifting big Saturday handicap hurdles, he is worth the benefit of the doubt.

Newbury / Leopardstown : February 9th.

08 Feb
February 8, 2013

Horseracing Markets

Back Waaheb (EW) @3-1 Leopardstown 2:15

Rock Critic was a good winner for the selection’s stable at Fairyhouse on Tuesday and it was remarkable how mute the post race reaction was. Part of the explanation could be that Waaheb has been waiting in the wings and that this former top bumper performer carries the yard’s principle Cheltenham aspirations. Drying ground will greatly aid his cause where he will be able to use his speed against the one paced Champagne Fever. The latter is posted as favourite but it feels as if his position at the head of the market is by default. The upside is that Waaheb is virtually an each way bet to nothing with convincing prospects of winning the race.

Back Cotton Mill (EW) @8-1 Newbury 3:35

Cotton Mill has been tipped up in some quarters as a potential Champion Hurdle horse. It is hard to argue that he potentially still doesn’t have a progressive profile. Racing off tomorrow’s handicap mark and weight he has to make an impression on this race if he is to feature at the business end of Cheltenham’s feature hurdle. As the winner of a ten furlong maiden on the flat he is likely to have the pace to cope with tomorrow’s assignment and the fact he doesn’t have form over the minimum trip probably adds a point or two to his price. Doubts may surface over his preparedness seeing as he is yet to race this season but there have been plenty of possible alternative engagements where he could have had a much easier race in a small runner field. Instead, it is likely that he is pretty well tuned up heading into this tough handicap and a good account is expected.

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