I expect it is not only me who is battling with this emotional feeling given the lack of opportunities for a value wager due to the dry ground. On Saturday, with much of the racing reduced to small fields of mainly seasonal debutants, I took a chance with a couple of horses who (I'm sure) will be more than capable of winning off their current ratings.
Unfortunately, the way the pair of them ran, the only conclusion to draw was that neither was race-fit.
I thought the writing was on the wall when (an hour or so after posting the blog) I read the Paul Nicholls assessment of his runners for the day, and his opinion was that Orbasa would need the race as he had struggled to get him fit following the horse having a wind-operation. With trainers, you put your trust in them that they deliver their horses to the races with sufficient fitness to ensure they run to their merit. Paul Nicholls is one such trainer on whom I can rely on, therefore it was disappointing to see the horse run so poorly. Even more so as the horse was well supported in the betting markets (as most Paul Nicholls runners are) going off the 7/2 fav. It is a tough job being a racehorse trainer but, when you are as respected as Nicholls is, there is the additional responsibility of ensuring the horse goes to the faces fit to run to its merit.
My other selection was similarly disappointing as I fully expected No No Mac to be well up for a good run having made the long trip up to Kelso in Scotland from Oxfordshire. He had also run in October, so this wasn't even his seasonal debut - but he was struggling from a long way out. One of my favourite winner-finding tools is the "long distance traveller" stats and, when a trainer sends a horse to a track over 150 miles away and that trainer has a good (more than 20%) wins-to-runs strike-rate at that track, I take notice. If the horse is the trainers only runner at the track, or is the trainers only runner of the day; that is more ticks in the boxes for me. However, sometimes it works the other way: top northern trainer Nicky Richards has a very poor strike-rate with horses sent south of Birmingham from his base in Penrith, Cumbria.
Today we have 3 jump racing meetings at Lingfield, Huntingdon and Sedgefield and at least we have the comfort that the word "soft" is in the ground description for the latter pair. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a wagering opportunity today. Thankfully, the racing looks a lot better tomorrow and there is a solid meeting at Bangor with a top-class 3-mile handicap chase on offer - let's hope the field holds up. And, of course, we have top-class racing at Cheltenham this weekend with the Bet Victor Handicap Chase (used to be the Paddy Power) the feature race of Saturday's card. With it being my birthday today (57 years young), I am planning to treat myself to a visit to Prestbury on Saturday.
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