An update and a KISS-angle for the weekend....

Last Updated: 27.11.2019

Wednesday, 27th November 2019

An update and a KISS-angle for the weekend….

‘I might be wrong,’ said Willie Mullins yesterday....

If he was talking about thermonuclear dynamics then I might take him at his word....

But he was talking about horses....

And when Mullins is engaged on that topic, I am inclined to be a backer of his judgment rather than a layer....

  • Blue not pink....

He was talking specifically about Yorkhill – my ante-post punt for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury. He said this:

‘I’ve always thought him a three-miles plus horse. Maybe I’m wrong....’

Mullins could be wrong. The horse might not stay 3-miles. Or they might not be able to get him settled enough to stay the 3m2f trip....

This horse pulls like a demon. And that’s one reason why he hasn’t made good on expectations. He was thought of as a potential Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup winner in his early days....

It remains to be seen how much ground he can make up on those early assessments of his potential and his ability. But Mullins believes the horse is a player at 3 miles and beyond....

If Mullins is right, then we are likely to get a much-improved performance from this horse on Saturday....  

And if that improved performance comes, I’m on a live contender at a big price. That’s for sure. Because this horse is sweetly handicapped right now, as I pointed out last week....

  • Little changes....

Mullins reported a tweak they’ve made to the horse’s routine back at the yard....

It might mean nothing. It might mean everything. There’s no way of knowing. We’ll find out on the track. But I thought the detail was worth sharing because it is interesting....

Horses are flesh and blood – products of both nature and nurture – and little changes to regime can produce big changes in performance. Even changes you might think have zero importance can have huge implications....

Back at the County Carlow yard they’ve had a game of switcheroo with the work rider roster during the close season. The rider who was working with Yorkhill is now working with other horses. And someone new is working with Yorkhill....

Mullins didn’t really go into any more detail than that – other than to confirm how little he knows for sure about the outcome of his experiment....

‘Sometimes when you do that the horse goes backwards, but we will see on Saturday whether it has made any improvement in him....’

I just think it’s a sign that they’re focusing hard back home on getting this horse to a point where he can make full use of this competitive handicap mark he finds himself on. And I see that as a positive....

I may be wrong. Where racing is concerned, you’ve got to expect to be wrong at least 80% of the time – and probably more....

Make of it what you will, but the 33s has gone (and the bits of 50s that were around won’t be coming back). The horse is a best price 28s and a general 25s and 20s. He’ll be shorter still come Saturday. I’m happy with the price I got....

In case you missed it....

Newbury clerk of the course Keith Ottesen was telling punters on Tuesday about what to expect at the weekend....

But I’m not sure about the precision of his statement. I’m not much the wiser for it. He said....

‘The going is good to soft with a band of showers arriving tomorrow evening through to Wednesday. If that plays out as anticipated we should be soft all over by the middle of the week. After that it is due to be dry on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.’

So good to soft then? We will see....

  • Dig for victory....

It isn’t all about the Ladbrokes’ Trophy Chase at Newbury this weekend. It’s a two-day meeting across Friday and Saturday – and there are several decent handicaps on the cards....

Some trainers do better than others in these specific races. Some will make a point of targeting them....

These things are reflected in the historic record, of course. Dig and you will uncover. The trick is understanding how deep to dig and when....

I’m not sure that what happened at the Newbury meeting back in 1973 or 1989 is going to tell me too much that can benefit me this weekend....

For this type of pointer, I go back just a few years. In this case, 5-years. I want a sketch of who has been doing what in the races of specific interest to me most recently....

  • Performance minus profit....

Oftentimes, the stats confirm something you already know – and serve to fill in some of the detail....

Paul Nicholls does well, for example. He does at most big meetings when given the benefit of the long-term to build up the record. The detail reads four wins and 12 placers from 40 runners....

The performances are there in good volume. The place strike-rate amounts to  40% (something I look for in the handicap sphere) but it’s not the same story with prices....

All 40 runners backed to the tune of one point each-way produced a profit of five points. And that would have been wiped out had one of the 40 Nicholls’ trained horses no placed at 33s....

Philip Hobbs is another who does alright in these Newbury handicaps. His last 21 runners produced three winners and four places. But, as with Nicholls, the prices haven’t been there....

  • My KISS-angle for Newbury....

Colin Tizzard is the guy I’d be most interested in this weekend – if I was looking for a mechanical keep-it-simple-stupid angle to play the markets with....

In recent years his handicappers have been well-and-truly ‘live’ at this meeting – and the key thing is that they haven’t all been backed....

Just 16 Tizzard-trained handicappers have attended the meeting since 2014. Three of those won. Another five hit the frame....

That’s a place strike-rate of 50% – a ratio that doesn’t just happen (in my opinion) and is more the result of intent (exactly what I am looking to identify) on the actor’s part (in this case Colin Tizzard)....

The bottom line is that he’s been a profitable guy to follow in the handicaps at this week’s meeting. The market hasn’t been going in for some of his performers like they might for a Nicholls- or a Henderson-trained horse, for example....

Had you backed all the last 16 Tizzard-trained qualifiers to the tune of one point each-way, you’d be showing profits of 16 points – or a point per horse....

You won’t retire on the proceeds of this angle. But which of us is foolish enough to look to handicap racing to produce financial independence?

What we’re looking for is a fighting chance of turning a few quid on the races that entertain us. No more. No less. And that’s what we’ve got going on here....

  • A final word….

We’ve been doing a bit of spadework for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury....

If you missed those briefings, you can quickly catch up here and here ....

That’s all from me for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more handicap-focused insight and analysis....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd