Missed Opportunites

August 8th, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Looking back over the last three weeks I have to say that there have been a number of missed opportunities.

It all started on King George day at Ascot, when the rain started to pour down in early afternoon.

I have said many times that a sudden change in underfoot conditions can open up rare opportunities for the punter to obtain some real value in the markets.

This is because the opening prices are generally decided by the bookmakers in the morning and if the ground deteriorates through the course of the meeting they will still stick with the prices based on the early-morning tissue. Of course, they will respond nearer the time to market forces, but it can take a while for the money to filter through.

That is why Stamp Hill was nothing like the shock some were suggesting. I advised my clients in the morning to watch for the horse given that the ground, at that time, was good to soft. Had I known it was going to become softer I would definitely have recommended him for the race as he was back down to his winning mark, on his favoured conditions and had blinkers on for the first time. He paid over 100 on the Tote and was available at those odds on Betfair.

If, like me, you play on exotic bets then the Exacta could have been found as the first four home were confirmed soft-ground specialists.

Then just over an hour later the only two horses that had won on soft ground finished first and second in the nursery, at odds of 7/1 and 9/1.

We had a similar occurrence when the heavens opened at Goodwood last Wednesday, when the ground changed from good to soft to soft after the first race.

The 25/1 winner of the opening marathon handicap was proven mudlark Cool Sky, while the next winner Londinium had won his maiden in heavy ground.

The best opportunity of the meeting came in the Sussex Stakes, when Here Comes When just held the renewed challenge of Ribchester by a neck. Andrew Balding’s seven-year-old gelding has won five times on good to soft or good ground having not been disgraced when beaten just under four lengths by Solow in the race two years ago, run then on good ground.

Here Comes When is now back to a mark of 116 – the same as in this race two years ago – and afterwards the trainer confirmed that soft ground was essential for the horse. I acceopt that the runner-up had also shown he could handle cut underfoot, but there was still value to be had with the winner.

Most of Thursday’s Goodwood winners had proved themselves on easy ground at some point, but by then it had been factored into their prices.

Although I backed the horses featured to very modest amounts, I should have been more alert to the rare opportunities the dramatic change in conditions offered. Next time it happens I will drop everything to ensure I am free to take better advantage of the situation.

I am gearing up for York’s Ebor meeting which starts in a couple of weeks. The news came through today that dual-Class winner Churchill is likely to step up in trip to tackle his elders in the Juddmonte International, for which he is now priced at 5/1. The favourite at a top price of 3/1 is Barney Roy, with Ulysses at 4/1 and others from Aidan O’Brien’s yard at 7/1 bar.

Bye for now