Good Friday. Let’s hope so anyway because today I start keeping public profit and loss figures for the column.
In truth, it is much-belated, as every tipster should have transparency attached to his punting recommendations.
I would be fairly certain of the fact that this column is healthily in profit since I started it at Aintree 2012, but my punting and tipping MO does lend itself to long losing runs. So brace yourself.
Whereas some, such as the Racing Post’s Richard Birch, tend to consistently play at the top end of the market (and if it works for him and others, then good for them), my method and brief is to try and eke out longer-priced winners.
I have been fortunate enough to find a fair few down the years – and (lucky) winners like Royal Vacation in December (win BSP 54.93) in December pay for a lot of losers – and I always back what I put up, so hopefully we can continue to register a profit after coming out of Aintree with our noses in front courtesy of Chesterfield in the lucky last on Saturday.
I will continue to issue guide prices as to the odds I am looking to play at, but I will take the good with the bad and record all bets as if they were struck at Betfair Starting Price.
It’s the fairest way, as we all know getting on at advertised prices in the wider marketplace occasionally involves a window of mere seconds, rather than minutes, on occasions, if accessible at all.
The P&L will also be kept to level stakes, as I think this is the fairest way, though I will let you know in copy when I really fancy one at the suggested guide price.
Anyway, enough of that guff, and on to the excellent all-weather action from Lingfield and Newcastle on Friday.
I am a bit surprised that the organisers of Lingfield’s All-Weather finals day have put on a rival (and very valuable, too) card at Newcastle – though I am sure they will call it complementary, and perhaps rightly so – but it’s quality action all the way.
A Magic bet for the opener
Not all Lingfield races are on ITV4 but I will deal with each of them in chronological order, and Holiday Magic is the bet at [15.0] or bigger in the opening race at 13:40.
It is easy to forgive him his below-par effort in the Spring Mile last time as he was drawn out of it in 22 – the low numbers dominated and he had no chance at all on the stands’ side – and prior to that he was in rude health.
He had run crackers in defeat at Wolverhampton and Newcastle, as well as winning at Chelmsford, and he also a course-and-distance winner round here, too.
He is versatile as regards run-style, as well as surface, but I expect him to sit handy from three, and he comes from a stable in superb form, with five winners in the last six days going into Thursday’s action. He is probably the bet of the day for me at the prices.
This would be a Reel-y big win in the Marathon
When I first looked at the cards on Wednesday morning I was struggling to see many bets. But, worryingly perhaps, the more I look, the more I find. John Reel at [70.0] and bigger in the Marathon at 14:10 at Lingfield, seems a little too big to me, for all he is only rated 93 these days and has plenty to find on official figures.
He has not been in the best of form since the turn of the year, finished last in a five-runner affair at Wolverhampton on his latest start (though not beaten far), and ran poorly as a 12/1 chance in this race last season. He could well have gone at the game – well, gone in this class of race, anyway.
But he is a course winner who was fourth, beaten under 2 lengths, in the 2015 renewal of this race and I can see John Egan bouncing him out from stall one and looking to dictate his own pace, as other forward-goers are not as well drawn, with Pinzolo in seven and Watersmeet widest of all.
As an eight-year-old he will probably find the likes of Natural Scenery and recent Wolverhampton winner Cohesion too hot to handle at the business end – the latter would have been a second tip in the race but his price of just under 6/1 has come down two points in the last 24 hours – but he looks too big to me and a first-time tongue tie at his age is an interesting angle, too.
Hopefully it isn’t a sign of desperation, and I must stress this would be a minimal-stakes play.
Thoughts on the rest of the Lingfield card
I expect market rivals Muffri’ Ha and Ashadian to dominate in the Fillies’ and Mares’ race at 14:40 – the former, in first-time cheekpieces, (though Haggas’ runners are 0 from 4 in these from 2016) may get the run of the race from the front in stall one, even if this trip is short of her best – so can’t see an angle there.
Roger Varian is 10 from 60 with horses in first-time blinkers since 2011 if you fancy the third favourite Realtra, though.
Annoyingly, Kimberella is now the favourite in the sprint at 15:10 – he was 12/1 this time last week – so that ship has probably sailed. But he is an obvious and major player after winning on his debut for Richard Fahey in a fast time here recently, and I suspect he could take plenty of beating if he gets the breaks in running.
Mythmaker was only nailed on the line by Lancelot Du Lac here last time and he could be the pace angle from stall one – and therefore a fair price at 11/1 – but I will leave the race alone now Kimberella’s price has ebbed away. He wrote, sulking.
I’ll be mightily miffed if Steel Train wins this at a massive price after backing him in the Lincoln but I can’t see it at these weights in the mile 15:40 and unbeaten favourite Ennaadd looks solid enough from stall two.
But at around [2.74] he is clearly no giveaway and I would rather back that old monkey Sovereign Debt each-way at 6/1 or bigger myself, though I do think this is a race with plenty of depth and perhaps more so than the betting would have you believe.
I would rather back Second Thought at a similar price in the 16:10, than Ennaadd, but the question mark with him is whether he will have the pace to cope back to 6f after his 7f win here last time.
The answer is probably yes – he has a real change of gear but he will make you suffer if you back him, as he will be played late – but, again, I wouldn’t put you off if you wanted to play this race by backing the likes of Tomily win and place instead. The race has a decent each-way shape to it.
Get Lucky with this Cambridgeshire winner
Convey is another obvious favourite in the Classic at 16:40 after his win here in February, his first start since being gelded, but I will take a small-stakes interest in Third Time Lucky at [14.0].
He has 10lb to find to Convey on official figures and was pretty disappointing from a good draw in the Lincoln last time, albeit off a hefty mark of 106.
But I think the step up to 1m2f for the first time could suit this Cambridgeshire winner, and he has good course form over a mile here, too. Hopefully the first-time hood could also help bring about the needed improvement (Fahey is eight from 43 with an initial hood since 2012, resulting in a healthy profit for backers) and, all in all, I think he is worth chancing.
Cases can be made for Battalion (it is game on if he starts adequately from stall one) and Elbereth at the prices, but just the one interest for me.
Cheekpieces will suit this Visage
There are also three good races on ITV4 at Newcastle, starting with a 7f handicap at 14:55.
Mon Beau Visage interests me at [11.0] or bigger here. He wouldn’t have as sexy a profile as some – indeed some may prefer his stablemate Short Work, making his debut for the yard after leaving Ralph Beckett – but he looks pretty solid to me.
He is a course-and-distance winner who has also just been touched off in a photo from just four starts here, and he comes here a fresh horse having been put away for the winter after suffering plenty of trouble in running at Chelmsford in November, for which he was generously dropped 2lb.
He can be too keen for his own good but the cheekpieces are back on here, as they were for his course win in October, and he is only 2lb higher. He will do for me.
Back Star to shine at huge odds
The 1m4f handicap at 15:25 is packed full of class, as you would expect for an 85k contest. Finding a bet is a touch harder though – I certainly wouldn’t argue with To Be Wild being favourite – and I’ll let the race pass.
The 100k conditions race at 15:55 is another step up and sees some potential Classic horses, for home as well as abroad, lock horns.
The predictable horses head the market and I was going to leave the race alone before I saw Masham Star was the complete rag. Back him at [34.0] or bigger in the win, and [7.0] plus, in the place market.
Now, he has no pretensions to winning in Group 1 company but he has been given a break since being kept very busy in sunnier climes over the winter, and I think this race will have been targeted as his “Classic” given the money on offer, whereas connections of others may have left a little to work on given more prestigious prizes down the line.
Actually, the race hasn’t always been the plan, as his trainer was apparently looking to run the horse in a valuable 0-100 handicap at Musselburgh on Saturday and he runs here instead (he is rated 101, so not eligible in that class of race), but at least he is reported in “great shape and ready to go”.
And while Masham Star is by far the most exposed in this field, he is the only one with track experience – he won off a mark of 95 over course and distance in November – and he is actually the third highest-rated in here behind South Seas and Syphax on official figures and has posted some decent speed figures. He is a decent each-way play at the prices.
Back Holiday Magic at [15.0] in 13:40 at Lingfield
Back John Reel at [70.0] or bigger in 14:10 at Lingfield
Back Mon Beau Visage at [11.0] in 14:55 at Newcastle
Back Masham Star at [34.0] win and [7.0] place in 15:55 at Newcastle
Back Third Time Lucky at [14.0] in the 16:40 at Lingfield