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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Are handicap chases a good betting medium?

Today we have the "Monet's Garden" chase at Aintree, a Class 2 handicap which brings together 13 of the best handicap chasers in-training but running over the trip of 2m4f on a track which many would describe as "trappy". A liking for the Aintree "Mildmay" circuit is a big positive, as well as a love for the turf there which - probably due to the loamy nature of the soil structure - is possibly the nearest horses will get to racing on an athlete's "running track".

As usual for these top chases, trying to find the winner is more than a puzzle, it is a test not just of theory but of imagination. There are so many unknowns: which of the horses are fit; which will be at their peak; which are being prepared for another day; which are racing at their optimum trip; which will be racing on their preferred ground? And then there is the fact that the race is a handicap, so you have to consider which of the horses are ahead of the handicapper, if any - and if none, which are least affected by the weights?

After watching the racing at Cheltenham yesterday it made me think if these top staying chasers were a good betting medium or if they were just too much trouble for the end benefit. I mean, a 13/2 winner is a 13/2 winner whether it's a Class 2 at Cheltenham contested by 16 horses, or a Class 5 hurdle at Kelso contested by just 11 runners - or am I just being a spoilsport?

I admit that Cogry was on my alert list at the start of last season as his run at Cheltenham in Nov'15 (4th to Sausalito Sunrise) suggested he was a possible 145+ chaser over 3-mile-plus. Unfortunately, the only race he's won since then was a 3-mile hurdle and his best races over fences have been at marathon trips. Was he a 13/2 chance over 3m1f yesterday given the opposition? I'd say no, as before the race we didn't know that he'd be given a good tow in the race by Sonneofpresenting. Also, I think when we look back next April, we will realise that had Singlefarpayment been race-fit then he would have won. I also think there were some other horses that didn't perform to their peak: such as Coologue, Viconte Du Noyer, and Southfield Vic.  That said, if Cogry returns for the 3m3f Grade 3 chase at Cheltenham on BetVictor Gold Cup day then he will have a great chance of following-up over a trip that will suit him even better. There is talk of the old Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury, but unless the handicapper rates him about 7lb higher for this win, he will likely be outside the handicap.

Later in the afternoon, in the 2-mile Class 2 chase we also saw the fav beaten into 2nd but this time by only a neck. The fav was Le Prezien who was clearly well-handicapped on OR144 based on his novice chase form but the odds available on him were silly, and they got shorter as the day wore on. I can see Le Prezien being rated over 155 by the end of this season. The winner Foxtail Hill is a horse who (in my opinion) was well-exposed and in the hands of the handicapper on OR140. To see him at his best he needs to have an uncontested lead - and he got one in this race! Having won over 2m5f at Cheltenham in January with similar tactics, it shows how good Le Prezien is to get so close to him when coming from so far back. Again, there were horses that didn't perform: Poker School and Cobra De Mai should both have done better considering they were race-fit.  My selection Vaniteux suffered a bad bump at the start and I thought Tom Scudamore did well not to have been knocked out of the saddle, instead he trailed the field on the run-up to the first fence which the horse "ballooned". He was given time to settle down, so it was impressive that he made significant progress in the final half-mile to be 7th and if he returns to Cheltenham for the Raymond Mould Handicap in which he ran 3rd last season off OR154, then he could have a great chance.

My opinion is that in both of these races, the "value" was in the fav at the early morning odds.

Did I have a win yesterday? Yes I did, and (as has been usual recently) I found a 3-mile handicap hurdle at Kelso at 4:40pm in which the 4/1 fav Just Chilly had never won in 10 career races, nor had raced beyond 2m5f. With Irish Hawke at 13/2 also never having raced beyond 2m5f, and Broadway Belle at 6/1 another that had run 10 time and never won, together with Apache Prince at 11/2 who had never won beyond 2m4f and whose best run at 3-mile was when 2nd over 3-years ago - this looked a very weak 3-mile race considering 5 of the 11 runners were at odds of  20/1 or longer. That left only 2 runners with form at 3-mile: Buckled and Too Many Chiefs - and they filled the 1st-2 places in that order. They had met last April in a race Too Many Chiefs had won and for which Buckled was the fav; however, in Saturdays race Buckled was 5lb better-off and also had a 5lb claimer in the saddle; and that weight swung the advantage.  I thought Buckled should have been the fav at under 3/1, especially as he was race-fit (very important at this stage of the season) which meant he was easy to back at up to 9/2 before the off. I took me about 5 mins to find Buckled, whereas I spent about a couple of hours (and more) on both the handicap chases at Cheltenham and ended-up only having a speculative wager on a long-odds chance who I think will come good once this season..

It has made me think about my betting strategy, and I will probably come back and write again on this. Will I be having a wager at Aintree? Probably on the chaser ASO trained by Venetia Williams as he's a horse that looks underrated on OR156 and if he ever gets his act together he could be very exciting indeed. But the horse is a puzzle regards best trip and conditions, so Aintree and the unique Mildmay course could tick the boxes; but his is also capable of dropping a leg at a fence.

Such is jump racing.

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