It’s the time of year when gender and age trends are flipped. Punters should pay attention.
Turfites should understand that 3 year olds are just like teenagers, so they are not yet fully developed. Especially when it’s remembered that all thoroughbreds, for administrative reasons, have January 1 as their official birthday, although some weren’t actually foaled before May, you’ll understand that many 3 year olds are big babies.
Yet, 3 year olds regularly compete against older, more seasoned campaigners. At least in the first half of the year, they can’t cope. Many lose to their older counterparts but, because 3 year olds are the source of so much hype leading up to the classics, they tend to lose as short-priced favourites. Like every betting edge, this age factor is more telling the farther the race, so sometimes, especially below Overnight Allowance level, 3 year olds do prevail in sprints (1000m to 1200m) but, even there they’re vulnerable unless clearly superior to the opposition. Also, readers should never forget the over-riding objective when placing a bet which is the search for VALUE. So, we definitely don’t bet on any 3 year old running against older horses as odds-on favourite.
The first race on February 3 pitted two 3 year old fillies (My Sister and Nadeshico) against four 4 year olds (the best being A.P.I and Armageddon) over 1200 metres. Ante-post favourite A.P.I was top rated on speed but had become inconsistent and lost in a lower grade on her last run, so it looked like the improving 3-y-o filly My Sister was the bet. This is why the job of a public tipster is so difficult because, as soon as the Tote opened it became clear that the word was out and My Sister was all the rage, eventually starting as 4/5 favourite. It was therefore obvious that the value lay in backing Armageddon who duly trotted up at a decent price of 5/2. My Sister, always prominent, briefly challenged over 400m out and faded into 5th, beaten 5 lengths.
Pre-race analysis is only the beginning of the betting process. The condition of the starters in the parade is also vital. Finally, you must develop the knack of making your own morning line and comparing your anticipated odds against those actually offered by the Tote to locate the value in the race (a.k.a. “overlay”) which you’ll find when the Tote odds are longer than those in your morning line. Only after all these factors — many unavailable to public tipsters — are known can you bet with confidence.
During the autumn I urged you to back fillies that had been out of form in the summer. Now the tables are about to be turned as February rolls into March; the weather heats up; and the breeding season begins. Watch out for those short-priced fillies competing against males, especially going beyond sprints. Avoid them like the HIV virus!
It’s time for our regular review of local performances based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” means a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside individual horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
I warned you on January 26 to beware of backing “Clocked In” horses in unsuitable spots. I wrote:
“Papa Albert, about which I concluded on December 8 ‘will win any claiming race’ was 1 ½ lengths behind My Way (5th) on January 17. Since December 8, he was entered at $450,000 claiming (January 1) but stretched out to an unsuitable 1500m (led 1100m; hampered top of straight; weakened; finished 7 lengths 5th). Sigh.”
It didn’t take long. On January 27, Papa Albert was entered in a $450,000 claimer over 1000m (straight). He cantered over rivals, winning by over 4 lengths. Unfortunately, the column must have been widely read because he started 4/5 favourite but was still an overlay based on my morning line where I rated his chances of winning as deserving odds of 1/2.
Lots of interesting results on that day:
January 27, 2018 [TV -0.6 per 200m (Rd); -3 (Adonis) -6 (remainder; str)]
Without Exception (-11) couldn’t have been more impressive at this time of year (Race 1; Imported 3yonw3 and maidens; Native Bred 4yonw3/OT and 3yos; 1400m; TV-4) beating a classy 4yo and “Clocked In’ Horse, Secret Traveller (-9) by three lengths in 1:24.4! The winner’s CT (1:25.3) is already 2/5ths second faster than Open Allowance standard. This establishes him as a leading 2,000 Guineas contender. The second (CT 1:26.1) improved again and his CT equals Overnight Allowance standard so a 4yonw3/0T (Standard 1:27.1) is his for the taking.
Old Braeton (-12) confirmed he didn’t need a distance of ground (Race 5; 5yonw3; 1100m; TV-3) when destroying a good field by 4½ lengths (the third a further 4½ lengths away) in 1:07.0! His CT (1:07.3) is at least 4/5ths second faster than 5yonw3/0T’s provisional standard (1:06.2) and 1/5th second faster than the average for $450,000 claimers. He’s a cinch at 5yonw3/0T or $350,000 claiming and should prove very competitive at $450,000 claiming over 1300 metres.
Pakman (-13) scored a facile victory (Race 7; 4yonw2; 1400m; TV-4) by 6½ lengths in 1:26.3! His CT (1:27.2) is 3/5ths second faster than nw3 standard and equals $550,000 claiming standard. He should win again soon.
Orpheus (-11) seems finally ready to confirm early promise (Race 9; Overnight Allowance; 1400m; TV-4) slamming a high quality field by 5½ lengths in 1:24.0!! His CT (1:24.4) equals the Grade 1 standard so he’s going places fast.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Tomorrow’s feature National Hunt race is the Grade 3 Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Newbury over 2 miles 110 yards. Early favourite Lalor is still a maiden after three hurdle races on tracks with stiff uphill finishes. All three of his bumper wins came on flat, sharp tracks. Although Newbury isn’t as stern as Ascot, Cheltenham or Exeter (venues of his 3 races over timber) it’s still a galloping track providing a stiff test. It may be best to give him the old Spanish Archer (“El Bow”).
The one for money is the Nicky Henderson-trained Jenkins (opened at 33/1, now 10/1) two for two since fitted in blinkers this year including winning a Grade 3 Ascot Handicap Hurdle (2 ½ miles; January 20) by over 2 lengths from Air Horse One. He gets in off an identical handicap mark but could find this drop in trip against him despite winning a maiden hurdle over course and distance in November 2016. That was long ago. At Ascot he was noted stating on well on the run-in which suggests 22 to 24 furlongs could be his optimum trip. At 10/1, all the juice has gone out of his price.
Kalashnikov lost his right-fore shoe in a Grade 1 novices’ handicap at Ascot on last and also his unbeaten record, but stuck to his task after coming under pressure before the home turn and should be kept onside. He probably wants spring ground and further (dam a sister to Gold Cup hero Kicking King) so is another fancied contender to watch for the future but swerve tomorrow.
Knocknasuss has the ability but has gone up 11lbs for his last win at lowly Fontwell and is reportedly not easy to keep sound so is bypassed. The two to concentrate on seem to be improvers Kayf Grace (a year off before somewhat disappointing when too free at Ascot in November then, on the soft ground she relishes, won a shade cosily at Kempton over 2 miles; should continue to improve for a longer trip and fences in time) and Irish Roe (improved markedly on soft last time to win a Grade 2 mares hurdle at Doncaster). The latter is a progressive mare and just gets the nod.
Now another early horse for your Cheltenham Festival portfolio:
“Our Duke [7 b.g. Oscar – Good Thyne Jenny (Good Thyne)] closed off 2016/17’s season with a most exciting looking win in the Irish Grand National beating a high class field by 14 lengths. He had previously succeeded at Grade 1 level just 19 days after a winning chase debut. This is a serious Cheltenham Gold Cup contender and punters shouldn’t be put off by his two below-par efforts on soft ground to start the new season. Come the spring and drying ground, he’ll take all the beating.