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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday's Irish Independent article

IT'S good to see the weather pick up for this weekend's racing. Normally, we have to wait until October for the strong winds and rain to come but on Thursday, I popped out for a pint of milk and got blown into the pub. With winter on the way, we need to take into account the changes in the weather when studying the form - but how well a horse will run when facing into a strong wind is a variable that's almost impossible to assess. One thing we can gauge however, is how well a horse might run on soft or heavy ground so as the season begins, it's worth pondering the going and how it will affect our betting. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the ground is the most important variable to consider when backing horses in wintry conditions. We all love to see our old favourite jump horses make their re-appearance each season but an affinity to animals that have won for us before often leads to sentimental betting. On a larger scale, it can lead to false favourites in the market. Put simply, if the ground is soft or heavy, make sure the horse you back has some sort of form on that going regardless of how many good turns he's done you in the past - otherwise you could be throwing your money away. This week, I was doing some research on the going and it turns out that fancied horses that have been placed on soft or heavy ground in the past have a significantly better chance of winning when tackling that ground again. That shouldn't be much of a revelation but it's a little surprising how many horses that are unproven in poor conditions still go off as favourite. I had a look at how well seasoned jumpers (at least ten runs) performed when going off as favourite on soft/heavy ground over the past decade and found that those that had never been placed on such ground before only had only a 31pc strike rate. But favourites that had been placed at least twice on the ground saw their strike rate jump to 35pc. Even better, those that had been placed four times or more on that particular ground had a strike rate of over 40pc and actually showed a small profit to back over the past few years. The data is raw and other factors naturally come into play - but the figures should be kept in mind over the next few weeks as the weather deteriorates. On the flat, we've some group one action this afternoon including the Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket (2.25) and at 8/1, CEILING KITTY ticks all the right boxes. She certainly has talent with three wins from six starts; although the big question is whether she will stay the extra furlong today having raced exclusively at five furlongs in the past. Following a hat-trick of wins including the group two Queen Mary Stakes at Ascot, she could only manage fourth place in the Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster last time - and while that looks disappointing on paper, it wasn't the worst that could have happened considering she was racing under a penalty against some fairly tough colts. Her sire, Red Clubs, has produced plenty of six furlong winners so I don't think she'll encounter any problems on that front and the fact that she was originally entered for the Nunthorpe (but didn't make the cut) shows that connections believe they have a serious performer on their hands. 
THE price will be in the region of 40/1, but don't rule out SPA'S DANCER in the Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket (3.40). Often a strong traveller, the gelding took a reasonably competitive handicap at Sandown back in June and has been placed in some decent races since. He's off a fair mark today and may just spring a surprise.
Horseracing: He's very short around 1/2, but I'd be amazed to see Jeremy Noseda's LIVERY beaten in the HE Simm & Son Maiden Stakes at Chester (4.05). He showed loads of potential when third on his debut at Sandown and on that piece of form, he could have a good deal in hand over his nearest rival Humungosaur.
Hurling: JOE CANNING was outstanding in the all-Ireland final three weeks ago and despite the fact that Kilkenny are strong favourites for the replay, the All-Star is sure to give them plenty to worry about once again this afternoon. Back the Portumna native to score a goal at any stage of the match at 5/4 (William Hill).
1.55 Newmarket: Steeler
2.25 Newmarket:
Ceiling Kitty
3.00 Newmarket: Beauty Parlour
3.40 Newmarket: Spa's Dancer (e/w)
4.05 Chester: Livery

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