It seems a long time since I last sat down to type an article for racingtv.com. Indeed the last piece I wrote for the website was a tipping column back on March 16, just a few days after the end of the Cheltenham Festival.
Since then there has been a lot of talk about 'the new normal’ as the world tries to get to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic. I’d hoped that having found two winners from three selections in that last column, a new normal might be a 66 per cent strike rate with my bets. Unfortunately that won’t be the case.
However, I do have a new normal so far as this website is concerned and it doesn’t involve any tips at all, but rather pointing readers in the direction of a few horses, races and angles to either follow or oppose in the coming weeks.
For all that I’ve never been a punter who keeps a lengthy list of horses to blindly back next time they run, I’ll be highlighting a few recent runners I feel are well-handicapped and potentially ready to strike granted suitable conditions. In addition along the way I’ll be trying to unearth a piece of form I expect to work out, a stable or angle to note, plus a race or winner that I’m taking a less positive view on.
So, just over a week into the delayed Flat season, it’s time to get started on my new normal. I hope you enjoy reading and it helps you find some good bets and winners along the way.
The idea here is to spot a piece of form that I believe will work out before it has been tested. As soon as a race has thrown up winners it’s often the case that the value of the form is obvious and as a result is more heavily factored into the market. By trying to pinpoint those races before the form is tested there’s an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.
One of the features of the action since the resumption last week has been the competitive nature of the races. The handicaps have been extremely tight-knit and with the fitness edge gained by some of those to be out early may well mean that they work out short term.
One race I’m fairly sure will throw up a fair number of winners is the 12.45 at Yarmouth on June 3. A 10-furlong three-year-olds' handicap, the race was won by the progressive Celestran whose Wolverhampton win in November is looking like good form.
Four of the first five home in this race arrived on the back of a win and with several of the field looking potentially well-treated beforehand it appeals as strong race. Not all the races will be as warm and connections of those that ran well should be able to find some less competitive events in time, especially when getting a crack at the more exposed older horses.
Remind yourself of the names of the horses involved in that Yarmouth race or add them to your Racing TV tracker - click here for the result.
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There’s been no shortage of positive notes on horses over the past week or so but here are four runners I view as well-handicapped and capable of striking soon granted a suitable test.
Bodyline – Sir Mark Prescott
The runner-up in the race mentioned above, I’m hardly going for one from left-field here but I fully expect Bodyline to improve plenty during the course of his next few runs. An opening mark of 82 wasn’t exactly a gift based on the balance of his juvenile form but like so many from his stable he always looked certain to be suited by longer distances at three.
A hike in trip was the latest catalyst for improvement and his strong finish from the back of the field sends out the signals there is even more to come, especially when tackling even longer distances. A half-brother to four black-type performers, his pedigree is also a pointer towards further progress and the 3lb rise the handicapper has given him for this run is unlikely to be enough to stop him getting back to winning ways soon.
Moll Davis – George Scott
Steadily progressive during a three-year-old campaign that yielded two wins last year, Moll Davis suggested she’s progressed again at four with an eye-catching seasonal return on the all-weather at Newcastle.
Dropped out in last spot, she was already impossibly positioned prior to meeting trouble two furlongs from home but finished off well and had plenty left to give at the line. She hasn’t always been one to back up her good runs in the past but is in at Newbury on Friday and that race looks likely to suit. Whatever she does there, I’m certain she’s better than a mark of 92 and has black-type potential.
Arch Moon – Michael Dods
Juvenile form suggested Arch Moon started his three-year-old campaign on an attractive mark and he immediately proved that point by making a winning handicap debut at Haydock on Friday. That was despite the fact his connections opted to start his campaign over the same one-mile trip he’d raced over at two and he once again looked like a horse who will progress plenty as his stamina is drawn out.
A son of Sea The Moon out of a 10-furlong-winning mare, his pedigree is a pointer to longer distances being sure to suit and I suspect he’s the type of horse who the handicapper will take a while to get to grips with as he moves up in distance. Yet to try fast ground, such conditions would be an unknown but he’s already proven himself very effective on good ground and softer and he’d ideally turn up under similar conditions next time.
Amplify – Brian Meehan
The five-furlong track at Kempton is one of the biggest pace-favouring tests over that trip in the country and never looked likely to suit Amplify on his seasonal return. Being messed around at the start compounded the issues he was already likely to have over such a sharp five furlongs but he was running on in encouraging fashion until his momentum was halted inside the final furlong.
Ultimately finishing with running left in the tank, he shaped like a horse who had returned in form and the switch to either a more demanding five or stepping back up to six furlongs would suit.Overall I don’t think this was a strong race, but I do believe Amplify has more races in him and could be the type to pop in at a fair price at some stage this season.
One to take on
I’m probably going to end up with plenty of egg on my face here as in finding a horse to take on I’m trying to highlight one who will have an obvious list of positives next to their name next time and as such they will likely be prominent in the market. That type of horse win lots of races but by taking a more critical view of the form the hope is to pinpoint horses who are likely to offer poor value in betting terms and as such provide an opportunity to lead towards good betting opportunities among their opponents.
It was hard to not be impressed by the manner in which Oakenshield stretched clear of the field at Newcastle on the opening day of the season as he landed a six-furlong handicap by three and three-quarter lengths. After just three starts he remains open to progress and he comes from a much-respected stable.
However, I took the view that he beat some averagely-handicapped rivals and as a result the 11lb rise in the weights he was hit with on Tuesday morning might leave him vulnerable in the short term. He’ll be contesting better races off a higher mark and as such will he’ll need to progress significantly to go in again.
The time of the race wasn’t great so I’ve no reason to change my view of the form in that sense and I’d also be a bit concerned that his half-brother Yousini seemed to throw a race away earlier on the card, suggesting there might be some temperament in the family.
Angle to watch
Nigel Tinkler has registered his best-ever seasonal tallies in each of the past two years but is rarely one to hit the traps well and the evidence of the past week is again that his horses are likely to need their first run or two of the campaign.
There have been bits of promise in the outings of a few of the runners from the stable in the last week though and with some already well-handicapped horses likely to edge down the weights a shade further, I’ll be keeping a keen eye on horses from the stable over the next couple of months as I expect the yard could hit a real hot spell at some point this summer.
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