GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Fri Jan 07, 2022 4:21 pm

8 JANUARY - 2.25 SANDOWN - TOLWORTH NOVICES’ HURDLE (GRADE 1) 4YO+ OVER 2 MILES

Based on historic trends, this is a relatively strong event with an average winning RPR of 149 (min 145 max 154) during the past decade.

Two of the four winners to have recorded winning RPRs of 150, or greater went on to win a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

This year’s renewal revolves around CONSTITUTION HILL who produced a scintillating performance when winning over this course and distance on his hurdles debut.

He recorded an RPR of 148 for that effort, which Paul Keeley reported in the Weekender is the highest figure awarded to a hurdling debut during the past 12 years (fact not checked).

In addition, an RPR of 148 would have been sufficient to win this race on 4 occasions, plus dead heat in a fifth renewal during the past decade, so the fact that he has the scope for significant further improvement, suggests that he is going to prove very difficult to beat.

He faces 5 rivals, of which 4 runners have shown fair form over hurdles, but they appear to be fairly closely matched based on what they have achieved so far and their latest RPRs suggest that they have between 18-22 lbs to find to match the debut performance of CONSTITUTION HILL.

Whilst the final member of the field, has probably been handed a baptism of fire, as he will be making his debut over hurdles, albeit he was awarded a career best RPR of 103 when winning a flat handicap at Saint-Cloud on his penultimate start.

CONSTITUTION HILL is by far the most likely winner, but his current odds at around 2/5 to 1/3 appear to be about right, as they suggest that he has in the region of a 70-75% chance, in which case he offers no value in respect of either a back, or lay investment.

With 6 runners, there are 2 places on offer to reward each way/place only, or without the favourite investments, but with so little to split the next 4 horses in the market, choosing the most likely candidate to beat the rest of the field, is in my opinion almost impossible.

Therefore, for the purpose of both this thread and the OLBG tipping competition, I intend to sit this race out, albeit I will continue to monitor the market until the time of race, just in case an opportunity arises for a value bet.

I will also closely watch the race and analyse the result, as the eventual winner will be added to my tracker.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:58 pm

WEEKLY REVIEW

Although I was unable to place a bet on the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle on Saturday, it was pleasing to witness another impressive performance from CONSTITUTION HILL, who handled the slow ground to land cramped odds of 2/5.

He tanked along behind the leader for most of the race, jumped well and powered away from his rivals after the penultimate hurdle to win by 12 lengths from his nearest pursuer JETOILE, to confirm the promise of his debut run over hurdles.

His debut RPR of 148 was 18 lbs superior to that of the runner up, so he was entitled to win, by a significant margin, in what proved to be a very weak renewal of this Grade 1 event.

However, the fact that he still appeared to have plenty of fuel in the tank at the finish, suggests that he remains open to further improvement.

A winning RPR of 151 represents the top performance seen in a Novice Hurdle so far this season, albeit he will need to find further improvement if he maintain his unbeaten record over hurdles in the Supreme at Cheltenham in March, in which the average winning rating during the past decade is 160.

I have added him to the National Hunt Tracker and plan to consider supporting him both at the Cheltenham Festival and when making his debut over fences, in due course.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:15 pm

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

When adopting a specialist approach to betting on horses, it is often tempting to try to find at least one bet in every qualifying event, especially when there are only a relatively small number of races during the year.

However, I have found from past experience that not all Group/Grade 1 races provide attractive betting propositions, so it is important to choose which races to play in carefully.

In my opinion there are a number of reasons for deciding that a Group/Grade 1 race should be swerved from a betting perspective, such as:

A significant number of contenders have shown similar levels of recent form, suggesting that the race is likely to prove to be very competitive.

There is insufficient data to be able to complete an accurate analysis of all the runners in the race.

The underfoot conditions, likely pace profile of the race, or draw suggest that the runners with the best chance of winning based on form analysis may be inconvenienced.

The available odds for my selection(s) do not offer value.

In the case of turf events in the USA, heavy rain may result in the race being transferred to the dirt track, after my bet has been placed.

Whilst I am prepared to take a relatively flexible approach when assessing a race, I am always wary if one, or more of the above criteria are likely to prevail, in which case I prefer to leave the race alone from a betting perspective and wait for a better opportunity to have bet.

Saturday’s Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle was a good case in point, as whilst I felt that CONSTITUTION HILL was by far the most likely winner I was unable to secure value for my investment.

Taking this stance cost me a winner and a small profit, but I have found from bitter experience that forcing bets where I am not comfortable for one reason, or another results in overall reduced profits over the course of a year.

So I am more than happy just to watch these races to try and identify possible future opportunities and try not to think about the missed profit when my unsupported selection does win.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Thu Jan 13, 2022 8:52 am

NATIONAL HUNT - MARES ALLOWANCE

Whilst undertaking some analysis for my next article relating to the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival, I was reminded of an issue that has vexed me for some time.

The question is whether it is reasonable for fillies and mares to receive the 7 lbs allowance in open Grade 1 races?

Over the past decade, Fillies and Mares have been successful in 9 Grade 1 events that are open to both sexes at the Cheltenham Festival.

The list of Grade 1 winning females is as follows:

ANNIE POWER - Champion Hurdle (2016)
BURNING VICTORY - Triumph Hurdle (2020)
EPATANTE - Champion Hurdle (2020)
FAYONAGH - Champion Bumper (2017)
HONEYSUCKLE - Champion Hurdle (2021)
PUT THE KETTLE ON - Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (2020), Champion Chase (2021)
RELEGATE - Champion Bumper (2018)
SHATTERED LOVE - Marsh Novices’ Chase (2018)

On each occasion, these Grade 1 winners have been in receipt of the 7 lbs fillies and mares allowance.

Although the following analysis is fairly crude, as there remains the possibility that the winner may have been capable of better had the need arisen, only 2 mares recorded the highest RPR in the race, suggesting that they would have won even without the benefit of the allowance, namely:

HONEYSUCKLE - Champion Hurdle (2021) dead heat with SHARJAH
SHATTERED LOVE - Marsh Novices’ Chase (2018)

This clearly suggests that the mares’ allowance is required if members of the fairer sex are to have a reasonable chance of winning open Grade 1 events.

Perhaps I shouldn’t comment on this issue, as I have made a profit from backing most of these winners, with the exception of BURNING VICTORY and PUT THE KETTLE ON (both occasions), but I can’t help thinking that in view of the fact that the Grade 1 races at Cheltenham are considered to be the most prestigious National Hunt events in the British Racing calendar and should therefore be won by the best horse on the day, rather than a runner who has benefited from an allowance.

I guess some readers will feel that 7 assisted victories from 128 Grade 1 races during the past decade is not a major issue, but I suspect that any punter who has backed the runner who produces the best RPR in the race, yet does not get paid for the win portion of the bet may disagree, let alone the connections of SHARJAH, who has suffered defeats behind EPATANTE and HONEYSUCKLE in he last 2 Champion Hurdles, but would have been successful in 2020 and shared the spoils last year had the mares’ allowance not existed.

Although I have concentrated on the impact of the filly and mares’ allowance on results at the Cheltenham Festival, I suspect that the situation is similar for all Grade 1 events throughout Britain and Ireland.

My personal opinion on this issue is that the fillies and mares’ allowance should be removed for all open Grade 1 races, especially as there is a fairly comprehensive set of graded events for the fairer sex on both sides of the Irish Sea.

However, I doubt that the racing authorities either side of the Irish Sea will take any action, in which case the best horse on the day will not always win the race, the top fillies and mares will continue to accumulate prize money and praise that they may not fully deserve and punters like myself will either continue to profit from backing mares that are assisted by the allowance, or suffer losses when the horse recording the best performance falls foul of an assisted mare.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:50 pm

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2022 - EARLY THOUGHTS - Unrestricted Grade 1 Hurdles

I must admit that I am rather surprised to note that there is currently a complete lack of discussion regarding this year’s Cheltenham Festival on the OLBG Forum, despite the fact that the festival has a historic dedicated section to itself.

In my opinion this is a crying shame, as in previous years it was always worthwhile viewing the numerous posts in the run up to the festival, as there were invariably plenty of well informed comments relating to specific races/horses to assist punters with their deliberations and potential investments over the most prestigious four days of the National Hunt season.

Despite this apparent lack of interest amongst fellow members to get involved in the pre-festival discussions, I will persevere with my series of articles regarding the Grade 1 races, which this week focusses on the 3 non- Novice Hurdle races.

CHAMPION HURDLE - 2 MILES 1/2 FURLONG

There are 23 entries for the most prestigious Grade 1 hurdle in the UK, for which the winner is generally required to record an RPR of at least 165, after taking into account the 7 lbs Mares’ allowance.

Applying this criteria to this year’s entries has resulted in a shortlist of just 4 contenders:

APPRECIATE IT - top novice hurdler of last season, who demolished his opposition when winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s festival by 24 lengths. He was awarded an RPR of 165 for that effort, but has not raced since and will need to improve by at least 8 lbs to match an in form HONEYSUCKLE, albeit that is not impossible as many previous Supreme winner have achieved this feat in the past.

EPATANTE - multiple Grade 1 winning mare who was successful in this race in 2020, when beating SHARJAH by 3 lengths to record a career best RPR of 163. Although she has since won 3 (dead heated once) further Grade 1 events, she appears to have deteriorated as her RPRs have been disappointing with her best effort (RPR 158) coming in this race last season when finishing third behind HONEYSUCKLE.

HONEYSUCKLE - Irish trained mare who has won all of her 13 starts over hurdles, including 9 Grade 1 events. She recorded her best RPR to date of 166 when beating SHARJAH by 6 1/2 lengths in this race last year. She has a great opportunity of defending her title in receipt of the 7 lbs mares allowance, especially as it is difficult to know just how good she is as she has never been beaten.

SHARJAH - has won 9 of his 23 starts over hurdles, including 5 Grade 1 events. He has finished runner up behind EPATANTE and HONEYSUCKLE in the last 2 renewals of this race and may be considered unlucky not to have won both contests, as he recorded the best RPR on both occasions, but couldn’t cope with the mares who were in receipt of their 7 lbs allowance.

MARES HURDLE - 2 MILES 4 FURLONGS

There are currently 28 entries for this Grade 1 Hurdle which is restricted to fillies and mares, which has been won by Irish trained runners on 9 occasions during the past decade, with the winner generally needing to record an RPR of at least 146.

CONCERTISTA - Irish trained mare who has won 3 of her 9 starts over hurdles and has recorded the top RPR in this event of 156. She finished runner up in this race last year and has won and finished second in her other starts at the Cheltenham Festival, but has yet to win at the highest level and has won 2 Grade 2 chases this season, suggesting that she is more likely to run in the Mares’s Chase, for which she is currently favourite.

ECHOS IN RAIN - Irish trained mare who was won half of her 8 starts over hurdles, including a Grade 1 novice event at the Punchestown Festival in April 2021. Her best RPR of 151 suggests she holds sound claims, but she has disappointed in both starts this season, having been beaten 15 lengths behind SHARJAH on both occasions in open Grade 1 events and has yet to race over further than 2 miles 1/2 furlong.

HEAVEN HELP US - experienced Irish trained mare who won the Grade 3 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle at last year’s festival, for which she was awarded an RPR of 148. She has been well beaten on both attempts in Grade 1 company and appears to be coming into peak form, despite having been beaten in her 3 starts this season.

INDEFATIGABLE - experienced British based mare who recorded her career best RPR of 149 when finishing fourth in this race last year. She has won twice from 6 starts at Cheltenham, but lacks the scope to improve as a 9yo with 20 hurdle starts under her belt.

MOLLY OLLYS WISHES - British trained mare who has won 5 of her 14 starts over hurdles including 2 Listed events for mares. Her career best RPR of 152 reads well in the context of this race, but she has failed to run to form when raised in class in a couple of open Grade 2 contests, so may struggle in this Grade 1.

ROYAL KAHALA - Irish trained mare who has won 3 of her 6 hurdle starts, including a Grade 3 mares’ hurdle at Leopardstown on her latest start, in which she narrowly beat HEAVEN HELP US and TELMESOMETHINGGIRL.
She was awarded a career best RPR of 151 for that effort and still has scope for further improvement, but was well beaten behind TELMESOMETHING in the Grade 2 mares novice event at last year’s festival.

STORMY IRELAND - experienced Irish trained mare who has won 9 of her 23 starts over hurdles, including a Grade 1 mares’ hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April 2021. Her career best RPR of 152, plus her recent victory against geldings in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day suggest she should be competitive in this event, albeit she may lack the scope to improve unlike some of the less exposed runners.

TELMESOMETHINGGIRL - Irish trained mare who has won 4 of her 12 starts over hurdles, including the Grade 2 mares’ novice hurdle at last year’s festival, for which she was awarded an RPR of 143. She has been beaten in her 3 subsequent starts, but returned to form with a vengeance when finishing a close up third behind ROYAL KALAHA at Leopardstown, where she recorded a career best RPR of 154.

WESTERN VICTORY - experienced ex-Irish mare who has yet to race for Emma Lavelle. She has won 6 of her 19 starts over hurdles, including a Listed event at Gowran Park in October. However her career best RPR of 147 was achieved last time out when winning a conditions event over 3 miles, which suggests that she may prefer a longer trip and it is unlikely that she has much room for improvement as a 9yo.

STAYERS’ HURDLE

There are 33 entries for this event for which the winner will probably need to achieve an RPR of at least 162, with only LISNAGER OSCAR (RPR 159) failing to achieve this level during the past decade.

The shortlist based on entries that have recorded an RPR of at least 162 during their recent runs, is as follows:

CHAMP - useful chaser who has a career best RPR of 170 over fences, but has also recorded 2 Grade 1 hurdle victories, including on his latest start in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, when finishing ahead of a number of entries for this race (THYME HILL - second and PAISLEY PARK - third).
He was awarded an career best RPR over hurdles of 165 for that effort, but may be capable of better in light of his Chase rating, albeit he is also entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so is not certain to run in this event.

FLOORING PORTER - Irish trained gelding who improved significantly last season culminating in Grade 1 victories at Leopardstown and in this race, where he finished of SIRE DU BERLAIS and THYME HILL who finished second and third. He recorded his career best RPR of 169 when finishing runner up (btn 2 lengths) behind KLASSICAL DREAM at Leopardstown over Christmas, but was perhaps unlucky as the victor ‘stole’ around 8 lengths at the start.

KLASSICAL DREAM - Irish trained gelding who won 3 Grade 1 events as a novice, including the Supreme Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019. Injury kept him on the sidelines for the whole of 2020, but he has since returned to action with 2 victories in Grade 1 staying events over 3 miles at the Punchestown Festival and most recently at Leopardstown, where he beat FLOORING PORTER. He recorded an RPR of 171 on both occasions, which sets the standard for this race.

PAISLEY PARK - recorded a career best RPR of 168 when winning this event in 2019, but has since finished seventh and third in subsequent renewals. He has failed to win any of his last 5 races and appears to be on the downgrade, but he did manage an RPR of 163 when finishing third (btn 5 lengths) behind FLOORING PORTER in this event last year.

SIRE DU BERLAIS - Irish trained gelding who won a highly competitive Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle over 3 miles over course and distance at the festival in 2019 and finished runner up (btn 3 1/4 lengths) behind FLOORING PORTER in this race last year. His career best RPR of 165 qualifies him for the shortlist, but he was recently pulled up behind KLASSICAL DREAM at Leopardstown.

THYME HILL - has won 5 of his 9 starts over hurdles, including the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree last April, but that was a fairly weak event and he has been beaten in his 4 other attempts in top level events over around 3 miles. His career best RPR of 163 suggests that he will struggle to win this race unless he can find plenty of improvement, against top notch opposition.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If HONEYSUCKLE runs to form, it is difficult to see her get beaten in the Champion Hurdle, but if she has an off day, then SHARJAH appears the best option to pick up the pieces, whilst at worst he should again secure a top 3 finish to reward each way investments.

The Mares’ Hurdle appears far too competitive and I shall be placing the race in the ‘too difficult’ file until the final declarations have been published, although I believe that it should be long odds on that an Irish trained mare will taste success.

With regards to the Stayers’ Hurdle, I believe that irrespective of whether CHAMP turns up, either KLASSICAL DREAM or FLOORING PORTER will win and at current odds, punters could do worse than ‘Dutch’ the pair.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Sat Jan 15, 2022 4:40 pm

BOB OLINGER AND GALOPIN DES CHAMPS

Over the past couple of months we have witnessed two exceptional performances by exciting young novice chasers making their debut over fences, with BOB OLINGER recording an RPR of 155 over 2m4f at Gowran Park, whilst GALOPIN DES CHAMPS was awarded a phenomenal figure of 163 over 2m5f at Leopardstown.

To put these RPRs into perspective, I have listed below the RPRs for some of the best chasers when making their debut over fences, since the turn of the century:

BEST MATE - 151
VAUTOUR - 152
KAUTO STAR - 152
DOUVAN - 153
SPRINTER SACRE - 154
ALTIOR - 160

In my opinion, the figures for BOB OLINGER and GALOPIN DES CHAMPS raise a couple of key questions:

Are these RPRs realistic?

It is exceptionally difficult to assess a novice chaser based on just their debut performance, especially when the quality of the opposition may be debatable.

On the face of it BOB OLINGER’s performance has been franked by MASTER MCSHEE who finished third (btn 16 1/2 lengths) and went on to win a Grade 1, novice chase at Limerick over Christmas, where he was awarded an RPR of 154.

In addition, BOB OLINGER was a dual Grade 1 novice hurdler last season during which he recorded an RPR of 162, suggesting that his debut figure is realistic in relation to the level of form her achieved over hurdles.

Based on his past performances, BOB OLINGER should be capable of winning a Grade 1 chase before too long and whilst I will not be getting involved in the Grade 3 Kildare Novice Chase at Punchestown on Sunday, it will be interesting to view the race and analyse the result, with an eye to the future.

As for GALOPIN DES CHAMPS, it will probably be a few weeks before the form of his race is tested, but it is interesting to note that the runner up AIN’T THAT A SHAME was awarded an RPR of 136, which is 9 lbs higher than he achieved on his Chase debut, when finishing 15 lengths behind STATTLER, despite having been beaten 22 lengths by GALOPIN DES CHAMPS.

GALOPIN DES CHAMPS also won a Grade 1 novice hurdle last season, for which he was awarded an RPR of 161, so is clearly a very talented individual, albeit I believe that his debut Chase rating has been inflated by around 9 lbs, suggesting that his rating should probably be closer to 154.

Even if my belief is correct he still rates as an exceptional novice chaser, who like BOB OLINGER has the potential to become a star chaser and should therefore be winning Grade 1 events before long, assuming he can build on his debut success.

How good will these chasers be at their peak?

Some quick analysis of the improvement made between debut and peak performance by the 6 star chasers of the past detailed above shows that the average level of improvement was 30 lbs (min 23 lbs - max 39 lbs).

If both BOB OLINGER AND GALOPIN DES CHAMPS improve by the minimum figure of 23 lbs, their peak ratings would be 178 and 184 (177, if latest RPR has been inflated), respectively.

An RPR of 177 would have been sufficient to win half of the renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup during the past decade, whilst a figure of 184 would have ensured success in all renewals during that period.

However, if either, or both novices improve by the average of 30 lbs, or more) from their debut figure, then they will almost certainly prove unbeatable in all the top staying chases in which they compete, unless of course they they face each other, in which case we can hopefully look forward to some titanic battles.

With both novices being trained in Ireland, there is a real chance that British trained rivals are going to struggle in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for some time, which is yet another sobering thought, in relation to the ongoing discussions regarding the disparity in quality National Hunt horses on each side of the Irish Sea.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:12 pm

WEEKLY REVIEW

Although there were no Grade 1 races in the UK, or Ireland over the weekend, Warwick and Kempton provided three interesting Grade 2 contests on Saturday, which may have provided some useful pointers for the future.

THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE (RPR 156) was successful in the Hampton Novices’ Chase, but although his figure was slightly above the 10 year average for the event (RPR 153), he will probably need to improve by a further 10 lbs to win at the highest level this spring, albeit he is a sound stayer, who may be suited by the demands of the Grade 2 National Hunt Chase over 3 miles 6 furlongs at Cheltenham.

STAG HORN (RPR 134) won a weak renewal of the Leamington Novices Hurdle, but his winning figure was the lowest seen in the race during the past decade, suggesting that whilst he was a useful stayer on the flat and remains unexposed over hurdles after 2 winning attempts, he is unlikely to be competitive in a Grade 1 event, in the short term.

MISTER FISHER (RPR 165) returned to form to beat just 3 rivals in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton, but has been beaten (2 x PU and UR) in all 4 attempts in Grade 1 contests over fences, whilst each of his 4 Chase victories have been achieved in fields of 8 or fewer runners, all of which suggests that he should be swerved in both the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and if also turning up at the Aintree Festival.

My attention turned to Punchestown on Sunday which provided Grade 2 and 3 contests.

DYSART DYNAMO (RPR 153) maintained his unbeaten record with a facile 19 length victory over GRINGO D’AUBRELLE (previously btn 10 1/2 lengths behind STAGE STAR in the Challow Hurdle) in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. The form of this race appears strong despite the fact that the second and third favourites were both pulled up, as this gelding has recorded the highest RPR in Novice Hurdles, so far this season. Willie Mullins has a seriously talented novice hurdler for either the Supreme, or Ballymore novice events at the Cheltenham and/or Punchestown Festivals.

BOB OLINGER (RPR 165) who was the joint subject of the previous article was a comfortable 4 3/4 length winner from the well thought of CAPODANNO, with a further 27 lengths back to the third home, in the Grade 3 Kildare Novice Chase. Although 3 fences were omitted due to low sun, he appeared to jump better than when he won his chasing debut and in my opinion this effort has consolidated his position as one of this season’s top novice chasers, suggesting that he is highly likely to progress into a Grade 1 performer before the end of this season.

It was as an interesting weekend, despite the lack of betting opportunities and hopefully I have identified a couple of angles that will assist me when assessing Grade 1 events during the remainder of the National Hunt season.

However, I am looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into the top class action next weekend.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Wed Jan 19, 2022 4:52 pm

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2022 - EARLY THOUGHTS - GRADE 1 NOVICE CHASES

The third article in this series focuses on the 3 Grade 1 Novice Chases.

As with the previous articles, my shortlists will include contenders who have already achieved an RPR which would be sufficient to either win, or at least go close in most renewals of the race during the past decade.

However, at this stage of the season, there are likely to be few qualifiers based on this criteria alone, so I will also include the contenders that appear in my National Hunt tracker in my write ups for each race, which will detail whether the horse in question should be supported, or opposed.

In addition, it should be noted that the shortlists are likely to be highly volatile, as some of the entries for each race are likely to make significant progress in their prep races between now and mid March.

ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY NOVICES’ CHASE - 2 MILES

There are 24 entries for this Grade 1 Novice Chase, for which the winner is probably going to need to record an RPR of at least 161.

Only 2 of the possible contenders have achieved that level of form so far and they both happen to appear in my tracker as previous winners of a Grade 1 event that should be supported in their next 3 starts.

EDWARDSTONE - failed to complete (UR and BD) on his first 2 attempts over fences, but has be victorious in he subsequent 3 starts, including the Grade 1 Henry VIII and Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chases.

He was awarded his career best RPR of 164 in each of those events, which suggests that he holds sound claims and leaves him rated 2 lbs below FERNY HOLLOW who is the current hot favourite for this race.

FERNY HOLLOW - highly talented Irish trained gelding who won the Champion Bumper at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, prior to inflicting the only defeat to date of BOB OLINGER in his sole race over hurdles. He has taken well to fences, winning both starts including the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on his latest start, for which he was awarded his career best RPR of 166. That figure currently sets a high standard for this race, especially as he remains unexposed and therefore open to further improvement.

BROWN ADVISORY NOVICES’ CHASE - 3 MILES

There are currently 47 entries for this Grade 1 novice event for staying chasers, for which the winner usually needs to record an RPR of at least 162.

Despite the relatively large list of entries there are only 3 possible contenders that have achieved this level of form so far, namely:

BOB OLINGER - Irish trained gelding who registered 2 Grade 1 victories as a hurdler, including the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s festival and has since recorded huge RPRs of 155 (debut) and 165 (last Sunday at Punchestown) when winning his first 2 starts over fences. The latter figure sets the standard for this race, but he is more likely to run in the Turners Novices’ Chase over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, for which he is already the hot favourite.

BRAVEMANSGAME - won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December 2021, but could only finish placed in top level events at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals last Spring. He has won each of his 3 starts over fences, including the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, for which he was awarded an RPR of 162. However, he has only faced 3 rivals in each of his starts over fence, so is unproven in the hurly burly of bigger fields, whilst he has been earmarked as a horse to oppose in my tracker based on the fact that previous winners of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase have a poor record in their next 3 starts.

GALOPIN DES CHAMPS - Irish trained gelding who won the Class 2 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last year’s festival, prior to winning a Grade 1 Novices’ event at the Punchestown Festival. He was awarded a massive RPR of 163 when winning his only start over fences by 22 lengths, which is the highest figure seen for a debut over fences for at least 12 years. That effort suggests that the sky is the limit for this gelding, but in my opinion he needs to produce another dominant display at the Dublin Racing Festival in February to prove that he warrants such a lofty figure.

There are also a couple of entries in my tracker that warrant a mention:

BEACON EDGE - Irish trained gelding who won at Grade 2 level as a hurdler and finished fourth (btn 5 1/2 lengths) behind FLOORING PORTER on his first attempt at 3 miles in last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle. He finished runner up on his debut over fences, but won the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase next time out over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Fairyhouse for which he was awarded an RPR of 153. That figure suggests that he has plenty to find against the highest rated novices, in addition he is marked in my tracker as a horse to oppose in his next 3 starts.

FURY ROAD - Irish trained gelding who won at Grade 2 level over hurdles, but was pulled up in Grade 1 events over 3 miles at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals last Spring. He could only finish placed in his first 2 starts over fences, including when finishing third (btn 1 1/2 lengths) behind BEACON EDGE in the Drinmore Novice Chase, but made amends with victory in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase over 3 miles at Leopardstown. He recorded an RPR of 159 on his latest start, which suggests that he should be competitive in this race and his Grade 1 victory marked him down as a horse to support in his next 3 starts.

TURNERS NOVICES’ CHASE - 2 MILES 4 FURLONGS

There are 44 entries for this Grade 1 Novice event over the intermediate distance of 2 1/2 miles, for which the winner tends to need to record an RPR of at least 164, or 157 if receiving the 7 lbs mares’ allowance.

Only 2 entries have qualified for the shortlist based on their RPRs:

BOB OLINGER - Irish trained gelding who has a career best RPR of 165 and is the current Evens favourite for this race. He is also entered for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (see above), but is more likely to run in this event.

FERNY HOLLOW - Irish trained gelding who sets the standard for this event based on his RPR of 166 and is also marked as a horse to support in my tracker. However, he is the current favourite for the Arkle (see above) and has yet to run over further that 2 miles 1 furlong under rules, so is unlikely to be declared for this race.

In addition there are 2 further entries who appear in my tracker:

BRAVEMANSGAME - although he won the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, he appears in my tracker as a horse to oppose in either this race, or the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (see above).

FURY ROAD - improved for the step up to 3 miles when winning the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase and is marked in the tracker as a horse to support, but is unlikely to run in this event over this shorter distance, especially as he is also entered for both the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase over 3 miles (see above) and the Grade 2 National Hunt Chase over 3 miles and 6 furlongs.

FURTHER THOUGHTS

It is difficult to be dogmatic with regards to the novice chases at this stage, as with 2 months before the start of the festival there is still plenty of time for a late developer to stake a claim, plus plenty of the top novices hold multiple entries.

That said, it would not surprise me if Ireland made a clean sweep of the 3 Grade 1 events with FERNY HILL (Arkle), GALOPIN DES CHAMPS (Brown Advisory) and BOB OLINGER (Turners), as they are all strong favourites with very sound form claims (if running to, or improving on their current RPRs) in their respective races.

That said, EDWARDSTONE appears likely to be competitive at reasonable odds in the Arkle, whilst FURY ROAD appears interesting in the Brown Advisory, which would make a fun each way ante post double, especially if betting in the NRNB markets. Albeit the latter would also appeal as the possible winner of the National Hunt Chase, if connections decide to send him over an even longer trip.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Thu Jan 20, 2022 7:04 pm

21 JANUARY - 3.10 MEYDAN - UAE 2000 GUINEAS TRIAL (CONDITIONS) FOR 3YO OVER 7 FURLONGS (DIRT)

Although this is not a Group 1 event, this race provides me with a opportunity to get involved in the Dubai Carnival through an entry in my UK Flat Tracker.

ALBAHR was added to the tracker when winning the Grade 1 Summer Stakes over 8 furlongs at Woodbine (Canada) in September for which he was awarded an RPR of 105.

The winning figure suggests that this was a typically weak renewal of this Grade 1 event, which was probably no better than a Listed/weak Group 3 contest in the UK/Ireland and marked ALBAHR as a colt who should be opposed in his next 3 starts when either tackling Group/Grade 1 contests, or when racing on Dirt.

This will be his first attempt on dirt, albeit his breeding (Sire - DUBAWI and Dam Sire - STREET CRY) suggests that he should handle the surface at Meydan, whilst the drop in trip to 7 furlongs should not inconvenience him, as the slow surface at Meydan places an emphasis on stamina.

In addition, his tendency to race prominently is well suited to racing on dirt and he should obtain a good racing position from stall 4.

In view of the positives mentioned above, I am not keen to directly oppose ALBAHR by laying him on the exchanges, but with 8 declared runners, there appears to be an opportunity to back one of his rivals each way.

Although there have been a couple of very weak renewals of this race during the past decade (winning RPRs 90 and 94) the remaining 8 events required a minimum RPR of 100.

All of the contenders are relatively unexposed, but the performances to date of most of the field suggest that they will need to improve by at least 18 lbs to win the race, which is unlikely.

This leaves just the two Uruguayan trained compatriots to consider in more detail:

QUALITY BOONE - won a 7 furlong maiden at Maronas (Uruguay) in June and has since won over today’s course and distance in a 15 runner handicap, for which he was awarded an RPR of 90. That figure still leaves him needing to find at least 10 lbs to achieve the level required to win most renewals of this race, but he is at least clear of most of the field.

KIEFER - showed better form than QUALITY BOONE in Uruguay, winning two Conditions races and a Listed event at Maronas. Based on those efforts, he has been allotted an Official Rating of 108, which suggests that he should be capable of running to an RPR in the low 100s, which in turn ties in with my personal rating for his Listed victory of 99. If he can reproduce his Uruguayan form on his first attempt at Meydan, he holds sound claims of winning if ALBAHR fails to shine and should at least finish in the first 3 to reward an each way investment.

In respect of the OLBG tipping competition, my selection is as follows:

0.5 pts each way on KIEFER @ 7/2 BOG

Although I have taken odds which will result in a small loss if KIEFER is placed, I am hoping that he will drift due to UK punters underestimating the strength of Uruguayan form.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Fri Jan 21, 2022 5:07 pm

22 JANUARY - 3.35 ASCOT - CLARENCE HOUSE CHASE (GRADE 1) FOR 5YO+ OVER 2 MILES 1 FURLONG

It is unbelievable that only 4 runners have been declared for this valuable event, where the fourth placed finisher receives almost £8,000, when owners and trainers continually harp on about both the lack of opportunities for decent 2 mile chasers at this time of year and the poor prize money that is generally on offer.

However, the lack of quantity is negated by the quality on show from the 3 candidates who have qualified for my shortlist, namely:

ENERGUMENE - Irish trained gelding who has won all 5 starts over fences, including 2 Grade 1 novice events. He recorded his best RPR of 174 in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase at Cork on his seasonal debut, but has never raced outside Ireland, so has to prove that he can cope with travelling across to Britain.

FIRST FLOW - has won 7 of his last 9 starts, including last year’s renewal of this race, in which he recorded a career best RPR of 170. However, he faces stiffer opposition this time around and as a 10yo he may lack further scope for improvement, so his hopes of winning probably rest with both ENERGUMENE and SHISHKIN failing to run to form.

SHISHKIN - unbeaten in 6 Chase starts, including the Grade 1, Arkle Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. He recorded his joint best RPR of 175 on his recent seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, when beating GREANATEEN by 10 lengths. That figure just about sets the standard for this event, albeit there is very little between him and ENERGUMENE based on both Official Ratings and RPRs.

I have calculated the chance of either of the main market rivals winning this event is 88%, but the market has overestimated their chance of winning based on the best odds on offer, which means that neither SHISHKIN, nor ENERGUMENE can be backed at value odds.

The one runner who does offer value based on my calculations is last year’s winner FIRST FLOW who has a theoretical chance of 11%, so any odds greater than 9/1 offers reasonable value to the punter.

Had their been 5 runners, I would have considered a speculative each way investment on FIRST FLOW, in the hope that either SHISHKIN and/or ENERGUMENE have an off day, but the declaration of just 4 runners blew that idea out of the water.

I will therefore reluctantly keep my powder dry, but look forward to watching what could prove to be the best National Hunt race of the season, after which punters will need to consider the ramifications on the Champion Chase market.

PS - I will be posting my thoughts on the 2 Group 1 races at Sha Tin (Hong Kong) late Saturday afternoon, but don’t delay viewing these as the race times are 6.00am and 8.05 am on Sunday.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Sat Jan 22, 2022 4:35 pm

23 JANUARY- SHA TIN (HONG KONG)

Sunday provides the first opportunity to visit the Hong Kong racing scene as Sha Tin racecourse hosts two Group 1 events.

6.00 - CENTENARY SPRINT CUP (GROUP 1) FOR 3YO+ OVER 6 FURLONGS

There are 8 declared runners for this Group 1 sprint which is worth almost £650k to the winner.

My shortlist contains 3 candidates, all of which ran last time out in the even more valuable Grade 1 Hong Kong Spring in December.

The result of that race was unsatisfactory due to a 4 horse pile up on the bend entering the finishing straight, which took out the first, second and fourth favourites in the betting.

HOT KING PRAWN - has won 12 of his 26 career starts, but his recent efforts have been patchy (3 wins from 16 starts), albeit he recorded a career best RPR of 125 when winning this race last year. He has failed to run to that level in his 3 subsequent starts, including when finishing fourth (btn 2 lengths) behind SKY FIELD in the HK Sprint. He will need to improve if he is to successfully defend his title, but that may be possible, as he ran to a similar level in the HK Sprint before last year’s victory.

SKY FIELD - has won 6 of his 18 starts and finished third (btn 1 1/2 lengths) behind WELLINGTON on his Group 1 debut back in April. It is debatable whether he would have won the HK Sprint had all the field stayed on their feet, but he finished well to record an RPR of 121, which is just 1 lb shy of his career best figure. He appears to be an in form, improving sprinter, who is likely to run his race.

WELLINGTON - has won 7 of his 12 starts, including the Chairman’s Sprint Cup in April on his Group 1 debut, where he recorded a career best RPR of 122. He has finished seventh in both starts this season (RPRs of 115 and 100), albeit he did suffer minor interference when beaten 7 lengths by SKY FIELD in the HK Sprint. He is likely to improve on his latest effort, but has only once recorded an RPR greater than 120, which suggests that he still has plenty to prove at the highest level.

Recent form suggests that SKY FIELD is the solid candidate in this race but as a deep closer, he needs a strong pace to aim at and there is always a danger that he may struggle to find an opening when he needs it.

Therefore, he makes little appeal at likely odds as a win, or each way bet, so I will not be making a selection in the OLBG Tipping Competition.

However, for those punters like myself who can place investments on the Hong Kong PMU, via an online bookmaker, he has sound claims in the place only market.

8.05 - STEWARDS’ CUP (GROUP 1) FOR 3YO+ OVER 1 MILE

There are 7 declared runners for this event, which is again worth almost £650k to the winner.

Although I have a shortlist of 4 candidates based on their recent performances against previous winning RPRs, this race revolves around just one contender.

GOLDEN SIXTY - the current Hong Kong Horse Of The Year has won all but one of his 20 career starts. He has been successful in 5 Group 1 events, including this race last season and during his career he has inflicted multiple defeats on two of his rivals who have also made the shortlist, namely MORE THAN THIS (7 defeats) and WAIKUKU (4 defeats), whilst his career best RPR of 130 is 6 lbs higher than his nearest rival’s best figure. The final shortlisted runner is RUSSIAN EMPEROR, who has yet to face GOLDEN SIXTY, however he has produced his best efforts over 10 furlongs and is likely to find this race an insufficient test of stamina.

Based on past performances this looks like a perfect opportunity for GOLDEN SIXTY to claim another Group 1 victory, however there is a potential tactical issue which may derail his attempt for an eighteenth straight win.

He is drawn in stall 1, from which the natural racing line is to travel against the inside rail and he therefore runs the risk of being trapped in a pocket behind the leader and boxed in by other challengers at the time when he needs to make his challenge.

Perhaps this is just a theoretical risk, but it does temper my enthusiasm to back him at very short odds.

As an alternative, I intend to play a quirk of the Hong Kong PMU, which offers 3 place dividends in race with 7 runners.

Although MORE THAN THIS has finished behind the favourite on 7 separate occasions, he has yet to be beaten by more than 3 1/2 lengths and has racked up 3 second and 2 third place finishes, which would have rewarded place only investments.

Although the return on this bet, if successful, is likely to be fairly small, it will probably yield a similar dividend as backing the favourite to win, but at least the selection only needs a top 3 finish to reward the investment.

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Re: GROUP/GRADE 1 RACING 2022

Postby Robmull » Tue Jan 25, 2022 2:59 pm

WEEKLY REVIEW

I will start this week’s review with some comments regarding my only selection for the OLBG Tipping Competition.

Friday was disappointing, despite the fact that I had correctly identified that the previous Grade 1 winning ALBAHR should be opposed on dirt at Meydan, as he finished fifth of the 7 runners at 5/6 favourite.

However, the horse that I chose to support each way, KIEFER was given too much to do and could only finish third at 9/2 (bet placed at 7/2 BOG).

So far so good, especially as I had predicted that he would drift in the market, however instead of securing a return of 0.90 pts for a minimal loss, I lost the full 1 pt stake, as a 33/1 outsider was withdrawn from the race at the start by the stewards, leaving just a field of 7 and therefore just 2 places on offer.

Clearly the betting gods were against me!!!

My other bets over the weekend were placed at Sha Tin, where I encountered mixed fortunes.

SKY FIELD couldn’t quite reach the winner (btn a Head) of the Centenary Sprint Cup, but his second place finish was enough to reward my place only investment for a dividend of 1.45.

The unimaginable happened in the Stewards’ Cup where WAIKUKU beat GOLDEN SIXTY for the first time in 5 attempts, to prevent the 1/100 favourite notching his seventeenth straight victory.

My place only investment of MORE THAN THIS failed, as he could only finish fourth (3 places on offer), but to be honest he never looked likely to provide me with a return.

However, the annoying thing was that if I had chosen either of the other outsiders from the shortlist of 4 runners I would have picked up a reasonable return.

The Graded National Hunt events provided plenty of food for thought.

The Grade 1 Clarence House Chase certainly lived up to pre-race expectations with SHISHKIN (RPR 181) swooping late on to win by 1 length from runner up ENERGUMENE (RPR 179) with last year’s winner, FIRST FLOW trailing in 18 lengths further behind in third place.

Both the first and second home recorded career best RPRs, which would have been sufficient to have won each of the past 10 renewals of this event, whilst SHISHKIN is only the sixth 2 mile chaser to have exceeded the figure of 180 since RPRs have been calculated.

Injuries permitting, they will lock horns again in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March and on this form it is difficult to imagine they will not finish first and second, albeit it may be difficult for ENERGUMENE to gain revenge at a left handed track in light of his tendency to jump to the right on occasions.

Earlier at Ascot, MOLLY OLLYS WISHES (RPR 138) returned to winning ways in the Grade 2 SBK Mares’ Hurdle over 2 miles 7 1/2 furlongs, but her winning figure was 14 lbs below her career best RPR, which suggests that she will need to find plenty of improvement if she is to be competitive in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

There were also four Grade 2 events at Haydock.

MINELLA DRAMA (career best RPR 151) returned to form with a 9 1/2 lengths victory in the Altcar Novices’ Chase, but his figure suggests that he will need to find plenty more improvement if he is to be competitive at the highest level.

JONBON (RPR 146) maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles in the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle, but his performance was workmanlike rather than spectacular and whilst he will have learned plenty for the experience, he will probably find at least one of his main market rivals too good for him in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. It is also worth noting that the time of the race was fully 5 seconds slower than the Champion Hurdle Trial, which leaves him yet to run a reasonably quick time and therefore unproven as to whether he will cope with racing at championship race pace.

TOMMY’S OSCAR (RPR 157) took the transition from handicaps to graded races in his stride with a comfortable 5 length victory in what appears to have been a weak Champion Hurdle Trial. Although he is to be aimed at the Champion Hurdle, he probably needs to improve by at least 14 lbs to hold a chance of winning the race.

ROYAL PAGAILLE (joint career best RPR 171) won the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase for the second consecutive year, but is again likely to struggle if declared for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as he could only finish sixth (btn 49 lengths) in that race last year. Very testing underfoot conditions at Cheltenham would assist his cause, but I even then I suspect that a place will be the best he could possibly achieve.

The Grade 2 Horse and Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles provided a couple of Cheltenham Festival pointers on Sunday.

ALLAHO (joint career best RPR 178) enjoyed a comfortable 12 length victory over FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES (RPR 166),to cement his position at the head of the betting for the Ryanair Chase. This was his second straight victory in this race and the third consecutive occasion in which he has beaten the runner up, having beaten that rival by 12 lengths in last year’s Ryanair Chase and 8 lengths in the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase.

FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES still remains on the shortlist for the race, albeit as a possible top 3 finisher, at best.

My final thought regarding the weekend’s action relates to EDWARDSTONE, who is due to run in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Since his 16 length victory in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December, not only has he won again, but both the runner up WAR LORD (career best RPR 151) and fifth home MINELLA DRAMA (career best RPR 151) have franked the form with next time out victories over this weekend, which suggests that the form of the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase is rock solid.

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