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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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Tuesday 26 July 2022

Pyledriver and the "King George" at Ascot

 There has been a fair amount of debate over the running of the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) at Ascot on 23rd July 2022, a race won by the 5yo colt PYLEDRIVER.  The main consternation being that the winner was the rank outsider of the 6 runners; going off at an SP of 18/1 having traded at odds of up to 28/1 on the day of the race.  

Many of the comments on Twitter were from disgruntled punters who, on the basis of the result, thought the "game was gone"!  From my perspective, as a value punter, I had posted a comment on Twitter about 5 hours before the race stating that Pyledriver was no forlorn hope despite being 25/1 (at the time).   

Why did I post that comment? First reason is there were only 6 runners in the race, so for any horse to be 25/1 in a race with so few runners then it must be well outclassed, or running in a race which is unsuitable (wrong trip, wrong ground). This race is run at Ascot over a mile & a half (12 furlongs) and Pyledriver went into the race as a Course & Distance winner (on 16June2020, Group 2), so no issues on that score. Furthermore, he went into the race with an official rating of OR119, with his highest rated rival being Mishriff on OR125; so again he was not really "outclassed". On official ratings only 8lb covered the six runners so, on paper, it looked a competitive race - yet the race fav was the 3yo Westover who went off at odds of just 13/8.

Further measure of the competitive nature of the race warrants a quick review of the other runners:
Torquator Tasso: winner of the 2021 Prix de L'Arc De Triomphe and rated OR123 (my rating 117).
Mishriff: winner of Group 1 races Juddmonte International; Sheema Classic, and the Prix Du Jockey Club coming into the race on OR125 (my rating 120).
Broome: recent winner of the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over C&D, and rated OR120 (my rating 115).
Westover: recent winner of the Irish Derby and rated OR120 (my rating 116).
Emily Upjohn: the only filly, and recently beaten a short-head in the Oaks at Epsom, rated OR117 (my rating 115).

How did I rate Pyledriver coming into the race? He was 2nd at Shatin over 12f in December, and repeated that level of form at Meydan in March in the Group 1 Sheema Classic, and he'd won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Epsom in 2021.  Sure, he'd run below form on his previous race at Epsom when 2nd in this years Coronation Stakes to the consistent Hokum but, at his best he was capable of 120+ and I rated him 116+.

My idea of the most likely winner of the race on Saturday morning was Mishriff: he had the highest official rating and I also rated him highly; but he had been beaten in this race last year which suggested Ascot's 12f was too far for him after a similar preparation (ran placed in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown). So he wasn't one to take short odds about. His odds of 5/2 were about right, and there was no value in him.
Although my next highest rated was Torquator Tasso, his best form was on ground with some give and I thought the quick good-to-firm at Ascot would find him out. I thought he was a 12/1 chance, and so odds of 16/1 were interesting, but I just could not see him winning on this quick ground.  
With Broome a consistent failure at Group 1 level, he could not be considered a potential winner of this race, and his odds of 18/1 reflected his chance.  
I thought the betting significantly overrated the chance of the filly Emily Upjohn who was the lowest on official ratings and my personal ratings.  She should have been 25/1, and not 3/1 which made no sense to me at all. 
The fly in the ointment was Westover, and I swung away from him on the basis of 3yo's having poor recent form in this race and my opinion (based on the way he won at the Curragh) that perhaps the race would not be run as he wanted it. His odds of 13/8 were far too short - unless he was the "real deal" - but the form of the Derby and the Irish Derby had been let down, and he was more of a 3/1 chance.
The only runner in the race whose odds represented value was Pyledriver: his recent form was strong, he was more than capable of winning this race at his best form, and he was a C&D winner.  I thought odds of 4/1 fairly represented his chance before the race, and so the early 25/1 was a gift and I'm not surprised some value-seekers took that and he went off at 18/1.

I'm sure some will say it's easier to see in hindsight, but I'm not posting this to brag - I'm posting this to advise.  The betting market is what it says: it's a market where the bookies sell odds and if you don't think the odds represent value, then don't buy. I'll be honest: if I had been at Ascot my £40 would have been staked as £30 win on Mishriff, and £10 win on Pyledriver.   

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