Done The Old-Fashioned Way …

May 9th, 2021 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

One of the features of the last few months has been the number of gambles that have been landed, some of them supported from exceptionally long odds.

We had another couple yesterday, both of them well-nigh impossible to have predicted beforehand.

The first was on Call Me Freddie in the second division of the 80-95 Mallow Handicap Hurdle at Cork.

This six-year-old was available to 50/1 at an early stage and came into the race with form figures of 4208/97090 – having been beaten 70 lengths, finishing 16th of 18, when last seen in a 2m 5f 82-102 handicap hurdle at Limerick in December.

The son of Black Sam Bellamy had been beaten 139 lengths, 31 lengths, 54 lengths, 36 lengths and 70 lengths in his five races in Ireland and came into this handicap from a mark of 85.

To add further intrigue to the story original jockey booking Ian McCarthy was replaced by Rachael Blackmore after the jockey apparently incorrectly completed his Covid registration forms.

In a tight finish Call Me Freddie responded gamely to strong driving to prevail by a neck after looking in trouble approaching the last.

The stewards inquired into the horse’s improvement and trainer Sam Curling attributed the improved performance to the better ground.

In fairness the horse had shown ability for former trainer Jedd O’Keeffe, running second of 14 in a Carlisle bumper in November, 2019.

Harder to explain was the gamble that took place later in the day on Danilo D’Airy in the 3m 0-100 conditional jockeys’ handicap chase at Warwick.

A staggering 38lb out of the handicap, the eight-year-old was available at 100/1 in a place when the market opened having been beaten 93 lengths, pulled up and 98 lengths in three novice and maiden hurdles, the last of them on 18th February at Fontwell.

Rated on just 35 for this handicap debut, he had to run off 73 and he was immediately sent into the lead. Jumping well in the main, he was soon a few lengths clear of the field and he kept up the gallop to win by nine lengths, eased down at the line.

His only sign of form prior to this was when he won the second of his two starts in point-to-points, an open event at Larkhill in December, 2018, which he won by four lengths.

There is an interesting back narrative to this. The eight-year-old is trained by Robert Bevis, who runs a show jumping yard at Tilston in Cheshire. He is the brother of Richard ‘Sparky’ Bevis, head lad to Nigel Twiston-Davies, who used to train Sartene’s Son, who won for the trainer at Bangor in January.

There may still be links to the former handler, but the remarkable aspect of this was his performance from his original mark. Taking into account his margin of victory, he will probably be allocated a rating in the mid to high 80s, possible the low 90s, which would be around 55lb higher than his rating going into the race. This would represent as big a rise for one race as I can ever remember.

In both cases these were potentially life-changing gambles which were probably a very long time in the planning. The improvement was in part attributed to the ground, soft in the case of Warwick and better in the case at Cork.

I have prided myself over the years on spotting potential gambles, but in both instances – as with Dreal Deal at Navan back in September – I would suggest these were impossible to predict.

I have no idea how much money was made. It would not have taken much to bring the odds down given their big early shows.

Well done to connections in not only engineering the gambles but also in managing to contain the plots for such a long period of time.

It just goes to show that it can still be done.