• It was a profitable 10 to follow over the jumps. Now for the flat...

    Our ten to follow for the National Hunt season proved to be a profitable one, with a 19 point profit to a 1 point stake at SP (a rate of return of nearly 56 per cent). It also recorded an impressive strike rate. Can we repeat the dose with our ten to follow on the flat?

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  • Cheltenham Festival 2017: How was it for you?

    Another Cheltenham festival has come and gone. I sincerely hope that it went well for you. Given the results it looked like a bookmakers benefit event, with punters making plenty of hefty contributions over the four days.

    On the run up to the festival plenty of big names horses went on the injury list, such as Annie Power, Faugheen and Thistlecrack to name but a few. This took a fair bit of gloss off the main events and I think the four-day format, which started in 2005, really diluted the quality of some of the races because there wasn’t much strength in depth to some of the races.

    On day one, Labaik caused a shock in the the opening race by winning the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at 25-1. I hope you backed this one because I didn’t. How could you? Gordon Elliott must be some trainer because Labaik was long odds against to even start the race because he had refused or virtually refused on his previous three starts. However, this time he jumped off well with them when it mattered and he won nicely. The thing I took from the race was that Jack Kennedy is a young jockey going places because he managed to get a great tune out of the winner.

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  • Time for a change? The ability of horses to adapt to new conditions

    I’m not a big fan of change. Some might say that this is because I’m at a certain stage of life. You know the one. The balding, fat and post-forty phase. The fact is though I’ve never really liked change. The adventure of foreign travel to me has always been stressful. Why waste your precious holiday time by going somewhere new when you know the place you went last year will be hard to beat? For the same reasons I also like to eat at the same restaurants when I go out. The last time I tried anywhere new I got food poisoning. For these reasons I’m suspicious of change, and especially when the only reason for making a change is because someone tells you ‘it’s time for a change’. Racehorses appear to share my view on life. Unfortunately their trainers keep on insisting that they need to embrace change and keeping trying out for them new race classes, new going or new distances. The data suggests that change is seldom profitable when it comes to horses encountering new race conditions.

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  • Can you quantify bad luck in running?

    There are a great number of betting systems on horse racing that are based around a horse’s previous finishing positions. I recall that one of the first systems that I ever read was based around such a method.

    The system cost me twenty-five quid and it involved awarding points according to where the horse had finished in its last two races. As you would expect the maximum number of points were awarded to the horse that had finished first in its last two starts. A horse could only score points if it had finished in the first four. No other form factors were considered

    However, this system took form figures at their face value. What about bad luck in running ? Wuld a horse have recorded a higher finishing position with a clear run in the race? This then got me thinking about whether I could come up with a way of re-calculating form figures to take account of bad luck in running. Here are the results of my research.

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  • The weight-for-age allowance in handicap chases

    In mid-December Paul Nicholls won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham with a four-year-old chaser called Frodon. The odds of reward were a tasty 14-1. This wasn’t the only time that Nicholls has won a big handicap chase with a four-year-old. Indeed he won the same race with another four-year-old novice called Unionise in 2012. The seven pound weight allowance that Frodon received at Cheltenham made all the difference because in a tight finish he beat Aso by 1 ½ lengths, with a further head back to the favourite Village Vic. On the basis of one pound equalling one length over jumps then had Frodon not had his weight-for-age allowance then he would have finished no better than sixth!

    This got me thinking about the four-year old weight-for-age allowance in handicap chases. Do the statistics show an advantage for horses of this age?

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