British 2yo Racing - 2009 Season
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Racing Preview - April 26th 
Races :-
  • Brighton 2:10, 5.3f Maiden (5)

  •   April 26th Summary : 
    •  Link to - VP - for Brighton with Kings Aphrodite & Little Perisher (a bit blurred).
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    • An 8 runner maiden at Brighton and worth remembering that this is the longest race of the season so far with an extra 3/10ths of a furlong to cover. The course has a reputation for being tricky with a left hand bend early on leading to a downhill section where horses can become unbalanced and lose ground. The final furlong is uphill though and presents a chance for the outpaced runners to claw some ground back. If the leaders have gone too fast on the quicker sections they will not get home up the final hill. The later stages of the track are also tilted towards the far rail causing tired horses to roll around and often 'fall' onto the rail. The course also has a reputation for attracting a lot of lower quality runners. A number of larger stables will use the course to send their less able maiden types (say OR64-73 range) on STO+ runs to try to get an open race win before they try handicaps, claimers or selling events. 
    • It's 'difficult' reputation in terms of cambers and hills means that people will say it is not a good course for newcomers. To go back to the general 'Stats' discussion yesterday the recently published 2yo betting book says that since 94% of races at the course are won by horses with previous experience. The conclusion drawn is that this means you should avoid newcomers at the track. As with many 'Stats' you can play about with the number in different ways to prove what you want and draw inferences, which fit the result you require, even though the causation is unproven.
    • The book's use of percentage of races in places is a problem and we could try looking at the Brighton debut runners another way. Since 2002 there have been 124 debut runs at the course over all distances. 9 of those have won which is a Strike Rate (i.e. wins per runs) of 7.26% which is above the overall average across all 2yos in a season which is 6-7% successes across FTO efforts. On that basis newcomers do better than average at the track. The book does not use P&L figures much but what has been the return on the debuts winners at Brighton in the period? The winners have been a mix of SPs but overall you would have made a total 66p profit if you had bet £1 on every newcomer at the course. 
    • Hang on, now we have a 'System' don't we? Well, there cannot be many people who bet like that hoping for the next 33/1 winner across a seven period to spring them into the black. But, it does prove you have to be careful with what you think you are proving. To toss in an idea the book treats percentage of races won by newcomers as a straight correlation with the technical difficulties of the course. In the case of Chester, for example, B2yoR would be pretty much in agreement with this. But looking through the other courses you could suggest that quality is as much of an influence. Why do horses win FTO at all? Better ability is a major factor. 
    • When trainers like Mark Johnston & Clive Brittain send better 2yos to the course they can win and both have had two FTO wins since 2002. If many of the trainers who avoid Brighton for debut runners because they believe it to be unsuitable sent better runners here the more newcomers would win on quality alone. Mark Johnston can be a contrary soul but what goes with it is his willingness to go against the establishment wisdom which has a strong effect in a conservative sport like horse racing. Mr Johnston will try horses on debut anywhere and has a good record at both Brighton and Epsom on courses where many large stables would never send a newcomer on it's reputation as topologically tricky.
    • At this point we should make a very relevant point to today's race. Those 9/124 debut wins have been at distances from 6f upwards and the record over today's 5.3f is 0/25 with just 5 places (and one of those in a 3 runner affair). Take those out and your 66p bonus is going up nicely. Why should 5.3 be different? Perhaps it really is trickier than longer distances at the course with no time to get balanced before the downhill stretch and less time for newcomers to get back at the experienced ones.
    • The overarching question with all Stats and approaches to working through 2yo races is what are you actually going to do with odd nuggets? Even when they are proven profitable and not just apparently interesting. They are all filters to try to cut down the field to as small a list of possible winners as you can. Ideally you would be able to integrate all of the available information with trainers, sires, jockeys, form and on-and-on. Most people would not have the resources to do that in the manner that some professional organisations have done and you end up with a company sized outfit. 
    • Anyway, a big subject which we will pick away at we go along but what about the actual field of runners at Brighton today? The first point to note is that we have three newcomers in a field of eight and below what would be typical in a race this early in the season. Those newcomers represent Simon Dow, Ron Harris & Mick Channon. Mr Harris has managed one winner (not on debut) with 24 juveniles he has run since he got his training licence and has made his name with older sprinters. Miss Roma is a solid price by his standards but she should not be able to compete here and not a strong case for her managing to win with experience. 
    • Mr Dow is an interesting case in that he has had far fewer horses in recent years and has seemed on the brink of retiring at times despite being only in his 40s. Go back to 1990s and he was getting places in Brocklesby and early wins. He appeared to have little interest in 2yo racing in recent years and saw it more as a development process to 3yo+ careers. He has had a single win in the last 5 seasons and that was on the horse's 13th outing. Curtains has a good pedigree being by the new sire Dubawi who has a big crop to represent him and they sold very well as yearlings. He ought to make his mark this year although 5f winners may not be the area. The dam was a 6f 2yo for Hannon and rated above OR90 after a few goes in better races. The fact that Curtains only cost £26,000 at the 2yo breeze-up sales suggests he is a moderate to average type given the pedigree positives. A reasonable chance of being a winner on profile but with development, if at all, with Mr Dow's current approach.
    • So, two of the newcomers are from smaller stables who do not get FTO successes and typical for the course. In the context of the preceding discussion and for the outcome of this race a prime question is what to make of Nadeen. Mr Channon is a major 2yo force and different in that regard. Like Mr Johnston he doesn't just follow the traditional knowledge if he thinks it is not valid or worth trying something else. Now, he does not get many debut winners except at certain times in the year and often for a small range of owners. Near the top of the owner list would be Jaber Abdullah who owns Nadeen and also Grand Zafeen who won FTO at Pontefract on Monday. 
    • Anything owned by Mr Abdullah has the chance of being a 'special case' that might be a better than average debut for the trainer. Grand Zafeen was an obvious example being bred by the owner out of two horses that raced with distinction for him. Nadeen is less obvious with an ordinary pedigree by a solid 2yo sire out of a Hamdan owned 8f 3yo dam. If Mr Abdulla now has him he ought to be average maiden quality though. The real issue is that just a so-so debut effort by Channon's standards would do ok in this race.
    • That is where the 'Stats' get interesting because the 2yo book says that Channon is "0/36" with debuts at the course. No wins in 36 goes? Reading the book again it is actually 0% debut wins and 36% places and another indication of the tricky way the book deals with the data. Looking at his debuts here since 2008 he has three places from 8 x FTOs and only three of those horses won at all as 2yos (including 2 of the placers). The Market was some help with only three of the runners at single figures and two of them placed. But the 14/1 place for later winner Norman Beckett (a trainer bred who often start at longer odds than the general) and a 2nd of 3 runners for one placer on debut lessen the belief the Market really had a handle on which were the good ones. 
    • Let us put Nadeen to one side for a moment and look at the STO horses. Four of them are from smaller stables and one is for Richard Hannon who made an invisible debut at Windsor after drifting in price. Flapjack broke awkwardly and lost a couple of lengths and the jockey made no real effort to make any progress in line with the Market vibe. The trainer apparently has a 30% Strike Rate with STO runners at the course and has a good record in this race. In 2002 he won it with Hurricane Alan (1/3f, 3TO), also in 2003 with Micky Thin (4/5f, STO) & 2007 with Cracking (5/2 & supported, STO after debut in same Windsor race as Flapjack). The one runner not to win was at 7/1 and a non winner at 2yo and indicative that the Market should tell you what Flapjack is. If she is poor she will be 5/1+ and supported at 3/1 & under if she is OR74+ and ok. The use of apprentice Patrick Hills seems to suggest she may well be at the longer odds.
    • True Red is a limited horse and her STO place was assisted by being allowed an easy lead in a weak race. She is probably barely seller class by season end and very vulnerable to anything with a bit more go here. Safari Camp looked a small but ok built compact sprinter on debut and with a bit more power than True Red. He got into a pace duel and faded later in the race. He should go well here but the type you could see setting the race up for something close onto him in the uphill stretch.
    • Little Perisher looked a usable little type in review FTO and not tight for debut and perhaps an OR69 type which would be competitive here. But his trainer has an indifferent record with 2yos and you cannot trust them to run consistently from one run to the next. He also showed some of the liveliness and fizz that the stable's 2yos normally show which relates to the inconsistency. Kings Aphrodite ran in the Nottingham race last week which King's Approach has come out from and won. He was fizzy and mentally immature in the prelims but showed decent pace in the race to be second through halfway before fading. He has some size as a positive but look a frame of a horse that needed to fill out in review but certainly not a lost cause and one to track.
    • In summary, some combination of True Red, Safari Camp & Kings Aphrodite should hook up to put a good pace to the race. True Red appeals least of these three although probably the most competent and Kings Aphrodite will have needed to grow up a lot to see the race out. Safari Camp may be a speedy short runner who goes well but fades on the uphill section. The Market should be helpful with sorting out whether Flapjack & Nadeen are competitive OR70+ types for their stables who can get involved. Nadeen has a lot of Stats against him but some element of a special case. A good example of how Paddock Review gets you out of the 'Stats' bind by taken that model and pushing it through the filter which asks exactly what physical type are they and how do they compare to the rest of this field?

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