Unfortunately, serious horse racing fans were as frustrated at the close of 2023 as they were at its start.
In Public Opinion’s first issue of 2023, I wrote:
“…production of racing form and statistics, already poor, declined again in 2022. The “official” Race Programme, Track and Pools, became the doyen of inaccuracy and ineptitude often getting claiming tags wrong; race entries mixed up; form lines so far from reality they were useless; and not even reported track conditions could be taken on trust.
The Promoter wasn’t much better as its website is a travesty of navigation. It’s long past time, as online gaming finally begins to creep into Jamaican ether, for SVREL to recruit a young, ambitious computer coder to devise a customer-friendly system whereby line by line lifetime form of every horse in training is available by searching for/clicking on its name and then any of its races can be reviewed in full by clicking on the particular form line. Anything less is unacceptable and has been unacceptable for twenty years!”
Proving we should never challenge worse, The Track and Pools’ quality steadily deteriorated throughout the year until it became dangerous to rely on any information it contained including published positions at stages of past races (especially up the straight); trainer stats; distances and final times of past races; and exercise reports (none from the equine pool for months).
C’Mon SVREL! Employ a young tech-savvy programmer to upgrade your website. At least allow me to easily search for past performances of a particular horse other than on a day it’s entered to race.
But, never mind, as gluttons for punishment we must look ahead with optimism and recommend five to follow for 2024. Last year, based on sketchy and hard-to-find statistics from SVREL, the nominated five were successful enough winning 12 of 47 races. Three (Divine Force, ran 11 times; Mojito,7; Bootylicious, 6) won 3 races each. The previous year we recorded a spectacular 17 wins from 44 starts and Return on Investment of 123%.
So we try again.
INTRESTNTIMESAHEAD [3yo b.c. Bold Conquest-My Friend Lucy (He’stherealthing)] is an exciting prospect after only three 2yo starts ending with an emphatic win in the 1600m Grade 1 Jamaica Two-Year-Old Stakes. He’s two for two (on sloppy and fast tracks) since visors were fitted after a promising debut and his final time for the Two-Year-Old Stakes win (after correction for the day’s track variant) is 1.20 seconds faster than the average for the 2,000 Guineas. He should be a firm favourite come Guineas day and, on breeding, a Triple Crown contender.
Elizabeth A. DaCosta (Jason DaCosta)
MONEY MARKET [4yo b.c. Successful Native-Soca Dancer (Dance Master)] has been progressive in 5 of his 6 career starts after missing his 2yo season. Returning from a 3½ months absence on December 23, he demolished a quality field of mainly non-winners of three over 1200metres in a race restricted to non-winners of four (one three-time winner entered). His final time (corrected) was almost a second faster than Overnight Allowance so he is definitely a sprinter to follow in 2024.
We‘re Family (Ryan O. Darby)
RANI BANGALA (5yo b.m. Savoy Stomp-Palace Gold (Traditional)] has been a revelation since treated with Lasix in August winning three in a row before below form in a Grade 3 event and then scratched from an Open Allowance race won by Perfect Brew. Obviously she has suffered a setback but her three wins mark her down as a Grade One miler in the making so she should resume progress in 2024 whenever her problems are resolved.
W.B. Racing (Robert A. Pearson)
RUN JULIE RUN [3yo gr.f. Successful Native-Runaway Julie (Left Banker)] was only three lengths behind the 2yo Stakes’ winner but more than 10 lengths clear of the third. Her two defeats before this race came at the hands of classy importee Digital One so she is clearly the best filly around at this time. Her half sister Artesia (by Sensational Slam) stayed 1600+ so she’s a top candidate for the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks.
Karen A. Parsard and Henry J. Pratt (Ian S. Parsard)
SENSATIONAL MOVE [4yo ch.c. Sensational Slam-Money Move (Burning Marque)] was entitled, as a genuine non-winner of four running against mostly non-winners of three, to slaughter Division II of the race won by Money Market and did so by nine lengths in a time 3/5th of a second faster than Money Market’s. A tongue strap seems to have done him wonders on his last four outings and his corrected time equals Grade One standard so he is also a sprinter to follow.
Barsher (Gary A. Subratie)
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of track conditions’ effect on official times to arrive at “real/corrected” times); TVs are expressed in fifths of a second; “minus” (-) means a fast track; “plus” (+) a slow track (e.g -2 is fast by 2/5th second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
DECEMBER 26, 2023 [TV+0.5 per 200m (round) +2 (straight)]
ANONYMOUS/EAZY PEAZY (-3) dead heated after an exciting stretch duel 12½ lengths clear of the third (Race 7; 3yonw2; 1400m; TV+3.5) while clocking a very fast 1:26.3 on a slow track! Their joint CTs (1:25.4+) is 3/10th second faster than Overnight Allowance standard so both should win again. The second has a 4yonw2 as a gift. Standard times for 4yonw3/4yonw4 are 1:28.0/1:27.1 respectively. They are both well in advance of these averages.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
The Baltimore Ravens are looking the best team in the NFL this season but their odds on offer for a Super Bowl win are not very attractive. On the other side of the “draw” the DALLAS COWBOYS are looking to have the motivation and work ethic needed to overcome the more fancied San Francisco Forty-Niners and Philadelphia Eagles to reach the Big Show so take the double-digit odds still available on them to go all the way.
Over in the English Premier League I’ve fancied LIVERPOOL to win it all ever since they came from 0-2 down with ten men and beat Newcastle some time ago. That’s the kind of effort that usually gets rewarded in the long run and nothing has happened since to cause me a moment’s concern.
On the Professional Golf Circuit(s) ignore the noise surrounding the PGA Tour traditionalists versus the LIV Golf commercial chiefs and expect TOM KIM to break through at Augusta; RICKIE FOWLER to win either the PGA Championship at Valhalla or the U.S Open at Pinehurst (or both). I expect RORY MCILROY to win whichever one Rickie doesn’t and ROBERT MACINTYRE to win the 2024 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
Last year at this time I accurately predicted that Jon Rahm would win the Masters and, in 2021, that Matthew Fitzpatrick would win the U.S. Open. Let’s see if lightning can strike three times in a row.
Here’s a Notebook Horse for your Cheltenham Festival ante-post portfolio:
THELEME [6yo b.g. Sidestep-Utopia Gem (Okawango)] is shipping in from France with an impressive record having won ten of his seventeen starts over hurdles showing further progress on two of his last three stepped up to three miles. He has raced exclusively at Auteuil (a flat, sharp, figure of eight course) on very soft ground closing off last time out with a facile win in the Grade 1 Prix Serge Landon (3 miles; heavy) by 10 lengths as the 30-100 favourite. Once the English spring weather co-operates he looks nailed on for a big run in the Stayers Hurdle (March 14).