The expert behind Tony's Trends
The expert behind Tony's Trends
The Bet365 Gold Cup went to a runner who was not within the SP range at the time of the review. This serves to underline my constant reminders that using the market to include, or exclude, a horse is something that needs to be monitored by readers in the time before the race. Last week, William Hill had the best odds, but always compare prices across multiple bookies.
Hewick was a real Handicap blot and won the race really well. I may have jinxed Win My Wings, as I predicted a place unless she failed to complete. Lo and behold, what happened? She fell three fences out, just as she looked ready to get into contention for a place!
My saver drifted significantly over the days leading up to the race and would have been discounted on the basis of odds, had he been that price at the time of writing. However, the results are what they are. Unfortunately, it was an unprofitable day for followers and I can only apologise for that.
This week, I will review two races, the first two Classics of the Flat racing season, the 2000 Guineas on Saturday and the 1000 Guineas on Sunday. Both Guineas races have a long history and have been running for the past 200 years.
By the way, although you might already be wondering about why this is a two-in-one piece, there is a very good reason, which I’ll explain later.
If I was writing this article about the first 20 years the 2000 Guineas took place, it would have been easy to pick the winner. Consistently, the same trainer and owner, or sometimes teams including a particular jockey, used to win for several a few years in a row!
Here’s a few examples:
1814 - 1816: Trainer Dixon Boyce and jockey Bill Amull had three victories
1820 - 1827: Trainer Robert Robson won five renewals
1831 - 1837: One owner, the 5th Earl of Jersey, together with trainer James Edwards and jockey Jem Robinson, also won five renewals
The race continues to be dominated by a small number of owners and trainers to this day. Aiden O’Brien has trained no less than six of the last 10 winners and Jim Bolger has trained two. The English winners on those occasions were Arab-owned runners.
The 1000 Guineas was also easy to predict for lengthy periods. It was a simple case of backing Robert Robson’s runner, as he supplied all but one of the winners between 1818 and 1827, predominately for the 4th Duke of Grafton.
Recently that dominance has been replicated by Aiden O’Brien, who has won 6 of the last 10 renewals. Possibly, this could have been seven, if his principal owner had not gone with David Wachman (the trainer who married one of his daughters) who has since retired. Hannon has supplied two winners, with the last being a French-trained runner.
Both races are run over an undulating straight mile at Newmarket, with the final furlong being uphill which exposes stamina weaknesses. There is also a dip in the last two furlongs that requires the runners to stay balanced.
Whilst these races have a long history, as mentioned earlier, I will use the Trends of races since 1988 to try and find us our winners. This task is made more difficult as several runners have not been seen in public for around 200 days and will have progressed over the winter.
Both of these Flat racing Classics are for three-year-olds only and all runners carry the same weight, so we cannot use some of the usual criterion here.
Given the dominance of a small number of trainers and owners over the past 20 years, the market has been a good guide to finding winners over that time, with 31 of the past 34 winners being sent off at 16/1 or less.
Races run by previous winners is a key part of the Trends, with 24 running in a Group race, and six in Listed races, although no English winner has used this route since 2001, with just two Irish runners taking this route and using it as an in-season prep run. Eight of the past ten winners ran in a Group 1 in their final prep, the one English runner who ran in a Group 3, Night of Thunder, was sent off at 40/1 in 2014.
In short, the Trends indicate we are looking for a horse who has run in a Group race during its prep, has been placed first or third in its final race as a two-year-old and who has posted an RPR of 110, or greater.
I will start by discounting any runner who has not achieved an RPR of at least 110, or whose final race as a two-year-old does not meet the Trends requirements. This removes nine runners who are as follows (in race card order):
Finally, I will discount any English runner who is at the head of the market and ran in a Group 3 race as their prep, so here I’ll overlook Coroebus and Perfect Power.
Now we have just three qualifiers to concentrate on, which are Luxembourg, Native Trail and Point Lonsdale.
I will firstly deal with the two Aiden O’Brien runners, Luxembourg and Point Lonsdale. Luxembourg is undefeated and has followed a similar route to the other winners that his trainer has supplied. O’Brien has warned that he is similar to some others, notably Australia and Camelot, his sire, who won the 2012 renewal.
I think this is O’Brien putting a potential excuse in his back pocket in the event of a poor run by what I believe will be his first string, as he looks at the future career at stud. Conversely, Point Lonsdale has not followed the typical route of an O’Brien runner and was well-beaten by Native trail when they met at the Curragh last year. The manner of that defeat was emphatic and I do not see him turning the tables so I will discount him.
I will now deal with the Appleby runner, who is currently at the head of the market for this year’s race and is clearly focused on winning. Native Trail has been a beast, beating everything he has met and it is difficult to find fault with him, as he also has course and distance form.
However, there are two negative points, which are easy to see. Firstly, no winner of the Craven has followed up here since Doyoun in 1988 and secondly, that he can hit a flat spot in his races.
I will deal with the Craven issue first. Like Doyoun, Native Trail will go off odds on and many recent Craven winners have not achieved the same level of form he has. None had an RPRi n the 120’s and remained undefeated. The issue with the occasional flat spot is of slightly more concern, as against this field he may just miss the break at a critical time and at the odds, this makes punting him unappealing to me.
This is a really hard call, as one horse has been dominant and has the best form, but unfortunately, I am constrained by the Trends here. On that basis, the main selection is Luxembourg who is more closely aligned to the Trends than Native Trail and at great odds of 5/1, he offers better value. Given the nature of the race, I will not be putting up a saver, as there is not value in attempting to do that.
Given the dominance of a limited number of trainers and owners over the past 20 years, once again the market has been a good guide in finding winners over that time, with 30 of the past 34 winners being sent off at 16/1 or less.
Again, races the previous winners have been run in is a key part of the Trends. With 27 having run in a Group race and six in Listed races (although no English winner has used this route since Harayir in 1995). Three French runners used the Prix Imprudence, one from the UAE and one Irish runner. The latter used this route after being forced to run on heavy going in a Group race during the intended prep (Legatissimo in 2015).
In short, the Trends indicate that we are looking for a horse who has run in a Group race in their prep, placed in the top three in their final race as a two-year-old and who has posted an RPR of 105, or greater.
I will dismiss any prospective runner (final declarations are not available at the time of writing) who fails to meet the RPR, or has not run in a group race as their prep (excluding any French runners).
Therefore, I will dismiss the following five potential runners (shown in racecard order):
The Fred Darling Group 3 has not supplied the winner since 2000 and was used by Henry Cecil, who has since sadly passed away, so I will dismiss any runner who ran in that race namely, Wild Beauty.
This still leaves a long list of nine qualifiers to review. Three of these met when beaten by Inspiral (who will not run this year) Prosperous Voyage, Cachet and Mise En Scene. They all finished within a half a length of each other that day and it is likely they will all be close again, but the uphill finish will possibly see Prosperous Voyage run to best effect as her stamina will kick in at the right time.
Hello You looks held by Cachet on their run in the Nell Gwyn, as she faded late on and I have a question mark about her stamina as a result. Sandrine was comfortably beaten by Tenebrism (by four lengths) when they last met and is unlikely to turn the tables here, unless she has progressed more than the market suggests over the winter.
The two French raiders met in the Prix Imprudence (which is now a Group 3 race) and while Malavath beat Zellie that day, the latter is stated to have carried condition into the race and was not given a hard time to finish second. Either of those is a danger, but I will pass over both, as neither has run at Newmarket previously (like four of the previous five French winners) and all since Hatoof in 1992.
Discoveries, the Harrington runner, has not raced outside Ireland and again, has no experience of the undulations and the dip she will experience at Newmarket. Also, the last four runners of that nature had a prep race within 30 days, so I will discount her.
Given the trainer’s dominance of the race and the profile of this filly, it should come as no surprise that the main selection is Tenebrism, who is the ante-post Favourite to win the 1000 Guineas for Aiden O’Brien once again.
Unlike the 2000 Guineas, I think there may be some small value in a saver here, assuming she lines up. I have selected the Ralph Beckett-trained Prosperous Voyage, who is a much bigger price than the two rivals she beat last year.
I would also suggest a small double play on the two main selections, Luxembourg and Tenebrism, as the Aiden O’Brien yard has struck gold over the past two weeks and is still in a rich vein of form, with a 38% strike rate. Eleven of O’Brien’s last 29 runners have won, with five more placing in the top three.
As always bet safe and use key sites like Betting.co.uk and Oddschecker to get the best offers and prices, which will increase your returns when your choices come in.