A mixed bag....

Last Updated: 07.11.2019

Thursday, 7th November 2019

A mixed bag….

It’s a mixed bag this weekend....

We step back onto the flat for the November Handicap at Doncaster....

Over the jumps, we’re down at Wincanton. The Badger Beers Silver Trophy is the primary focus there....

But the Wincanton meeting also offers-up a strong KISS-angle for punters who like a bet based on the historic statistical record....

  • KISS-angles – a refresher.... 

I wonder if we sometimes over-complicate the racing game....

I wonder if sometimes we try too hard. If the analytic process sometimes leaves us knowing less than when we set out….

Especially with the big handicaps. Big-fields take hours to scrutinize. When you’re done, you can often still make a solid argument for fifteen….

Maybe there’s a case for going counter-intuitive and seeking to do better by thinking less. It’s a line of approach we experiment with at ATC....

I wonder if locating betting value really must be the complex and demanding exercise everybody assumes….

I wonder if there aren’t simple, straight-forward and painless routes to handicap profit that stare us in the face sometimes. Routes we ignore because they don’t appear complicated enough. Because they seem too good or too simple to be true….

We’re basically looking for angles that suggest themselves and don’t require too much (or ANY) of our own intellectual input….

We’ve had a fair bit of success with this kind of approach in the past. Enough to persevere and to keep on looking out for what we call KISS angles.

To refresh your memory, KISS is simply an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid – which seems an appropriate name for this type of approach….

  • Two words....

Some KISS angles are harder to dig out than others....

This week’s angle is just about as straight-forward as they come and it boils down to two words – Paul Nicholls....

It doesn’t matter which way you slice or dice it Nicholls almost always has his string forward enough to land early-season prizes at Wincanton....

His record in November at the track over the last 5-years confirms that. 55 runners produced 24 winners at a robust rate of 43.6%....

And it is not as though they were all backed off the boards. If you’d backed them all at one point to level stakes you’d be sitting on a current surplus of 27 points.

So, there has been something to play for – and it is reasonable to believe that there will be again....

  • Slice and dice....

Following the non-handicappers has produced 13 winners from the last 22 qualifiers at 59.1% and 13.4 points profit to level stakes....

His last 33 handicappers produced 11 winners at 33.3% and 13.7 points worth of profit to levels....

You would even have won money betting the Nicholls-trained horses sent off favourite at SP. The last 20 qualifiers generated 13 wins and 7.5 points betting profit....

The bottom line is this: Nicholls likes to hit the ground running at his local track. Chances are he will be true to form and very competitive this weekend. It’s something worth knowing....

It might encourage you to look a little more closely at Nicholls-trained horses in races you are targeting for a bet....

Or – if you like low-downside bets with nice upside – you might swing the bat and put a few of Nicholls’s horses in a multiple bet to small stakes....

Or you might construct some each-way doubles about Nicholls horses up at decent prices....

I don’t tell you what to do. I don’t presume. I merely highlight possibilities....

  • The Badger man....

I’m assuming we’ll get a decent-enough sized field for the Badger at Wincanton. We usually do – one or two renewals aside. That race is my primary target for a bet this weekend....

We start where we left off – with Paul Nicholls. He’s dominated this race down the years. His last 34 participants produced six winners and an additional nine placers....

Present Man won it off the last twice off 142 and 144. He’s down to go again off 148....

The other possible for the yard is Give Me A Copper....

Nicholls trained the horse for the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival last year. And he plenty fancied it ahead of the race. It didn’t pan out. But it was instructive nonetheless....

The horse has dropped 3lbs in the weights since to a mark of 142. I think of that as bonus....

I bet Paul Nicholls does too. He was keen on the horse for the Ultima off 145 and what I deduce from that is that Nicholls thinks this horse is a 150+ animal....

Off 142 – fit and firing – this horse is a player. Make no mistake.

How fit and firing would he need to be? Who can tell? How fit and firing will he be on Saturday? Who knows?

Nicholls will no doubt provide a straight-up assessment ahead of the race in his Betfair column....

What I will say is this: Whatever does or doesn’t happen Saturday, I put you on notice that Give Me A Copper is weighted to land a nice handicap this term....

  • A dearth of reliable pointers....

Nothing has won the Badger off a mark bigger than 145. That’s across a 17-year period....

But winning marks of 143, 142 and 144 in three of the last four years suggest it’s only a matter of time before a higher-rated horse bucks the trend....

At least that’s how I look at it....

Nothing has won aged 10 or older across that 17-year period either....

Fair enough. But even if you took that stat as gospel, you won’t be scratching more than one or two on the back of it....

There’s no discernible fitness angle either....

Horses win the race on the back of a prep run. And they win it first-time-up off long breaks too. In almost equal measure....

Even Paul Nicholls veers from one extreme to the other – with his six winners split even-steven. Three won off a break. The other three had raced inside the last three weeks....

The Badger is one of those datasets that yield little or nothing that you might want to factor into your thinking....

No matter. Stats are just information. They provide context. They help shape your thinking. They help you break the race down into moving parts. They inform you about issues to bear in mind....

But, on those occasions when the stats are no use at all, it is no big thing....

For me, the stats are a small part of the whole. 80% of what I do boils down to the study, analysis and appraisal of individual horses....

That’s what I’m on for the rest of the day....

That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back tomorrow when I’ll do my usual and tell you what I’m backing this weekend – and why.

Expect bets in the Badger at Wincanton and the November Handicap at Doncaster.....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd