Well just two more Monday columns before Cheltenham. I know, it’s like when you were a child waiting with eager anticipation for Christmas morning and all that present opening .
I have resisted the temptation to spend the whole of this Monday’s column looking at next week’s festival.
In today’s post. I am looking at the going or specifically what is meant by ground on the dead side. I will also be looking back at a couple of performances from Saturday’s Newbury card.
All this plus much more can be found inside…
The Jockeys Describe the Going As Dead
The one going description that you never see is dead ground. Yet often, including last Saturday we hear jockeys describe ground as dead. So, what does it mean?
Incredibly I can’t find anywhere that actually describes dead ground. Which is highly surprising given how often you hear that the racing is taking place on “dead” ground. Not just in winter but almost throughout the year.
You will often here that ground is dead when the going description is good or good to soft. Now I am not sure about you, but I thought good ground indicates a nice quick surface. So, if good ground is riding dead it must be riding slow. Confused? Me too!
What Does Dead Ground Mean?
Does it mean that horses who like soft ground will like it? Or does it mean that horses who like quick will appreciate it? Let’s just say it doesn’t make it easy to work out which horses will act on “Dead” ground.
Now when I started betting in the 80s, I never heard the term “Dead” ground used. However, since more racecourse’s artificially water these days, you seem to hear it used more often. Is there a correlation between the two?
In summer, after a dry spell ,which is followed by some rain ,good ground becomes a little sticky but not soft enough to warrant a change to good to soft. Likewise, good to soft ground in drying conditions can start to dry out without quite getting to good.
Do the soils at certain tracks lead to dead ground being more prevalent than at courses with different soils? That's not something I can really answer but it's probably worth further research.
During the winter season we will often hear a trainer say his or her horse didn’t like jumping out of the dead ground? Again, it would be good if we had some explanations of what that ground means.
Is Artificial Watering Causing More Dead Ground?
Artificial watering of good ground which then sees some unexpected rain and you will often hear the words, “the ground is riding dead”
Here’s what I think dead ground means? On such ground a horse doesn’t bounce off the ground like they would on quick ground or get into it like they would on softer.
We seem to hear about “Dead” ground most when the going is changing from soft to almost good to soft.
Now with Cheltenham on the horizon how likely are we to hear jockeys after a race say the going is sticky or on the dead side? Given this winter weather with the likelihood of more artificial watering next week. I think it’s pretty much a given we will hear it.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over!
If you had backed Theatre Guide, on Saturday, like I did. Coming to the last in the Veteran’s Chase you must have been counting your winners. The 12-year-old had gone over ten lengths clear jumping the last. Up until that point he had jumped boldly and all he needed at the last was a half decent jump.
Sadly, he didn’t get it and he just blundered his way over it. It was then a case of whether eventual runner-up Carole’s Destrier would catch him on the long run in from the last. Unfortunately in the final 50-yards he did overhaul Theatre Guide. He was an unlucky horse who deserved to win and not just because I backed him either.
In the same race a couple of potential Grand National runners were in action: Abolitionist and Milansbar. The former had been nicely backed in the ante-post market was having his first run for 112-days and only his third start since August 2017. The 11-year-old ran like he needed the run in taking 5th and could well take in a race at Cheltenham before a tilt at the Aintree race.
Milansbar, put up his best effort of the season so far in finishing one place ahead of Abolitionist. The 12-year-old would have preferred much softer ground than he got here. All his top five Racing Post Ratings (RPR’S) have come on soft or heavy. He’s just a real one paced staying chaser whose dropped down to an appealing handicap mark when he gets his ground.
Something for The Weekend:
The big betting race on Saturday is the Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown. Like many such races in the run-up to Cheltenham its a race that lost plenty of its old prestige. Still the race should attract a competitive field of handicap hurdlers.
2:25 – Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – 2m
If you are looking for some trend’s pointers to shortlist contenders for the race. Here are a couple of trends both positive and negative from the last 11-years. The results contain 11 winners from 212 runners 41 placed.
Weight Within Top-Weight: Top or within 9lb – 0 winners form 46 runners -47 10 placed 22%
Days Since Last Run: 16 to 45 days – 10 winners from 127 Runners 27 placed
A poor days’ racing. This weeks Monday tip runs at Wolverhampton
5:45 – Final Attack, the 8-year-old twice a course winner including C&D looks on a winnable mark. He was a close-up 2nd here just 6-days ago off today’s mark. A reproduction of that run should see him go close again in a moderate looking field.
Final Attack – 15/2 @ William Hill
Until next week.