Good morning all,
Couple more for the Eyecatchers list coming up, plus a few words on the merits of such lists as a bit of a reply to Tony Calvin, who this week rather decried their use, calling them “empty-vessel” and “lazy”. Now, I like Tony a lot and he’s been a good friend to me, but on this occasion, I’m going to tell you why (in the main) he’s wrong….
Yesterday Tony Calvin took to Twitter to have a little rant about the use of Eyecatchers lists, which he called “lazy” and is clearly no fan of. I get his point and to a small degree I agree with him – there’s one Sky Sports Racing reporter/pundit that does an All-Weather eyecatchers list, and I’d suggest a blind man might have seen the majority of those, given he tends to put horses up that won/finished in the frame last time, but to me the point of an Eyecatcher list is to put horses up that might not give you an immediate return on your money, but are worth inclusion for further down the line. (And I'll update this here after Lockdown Dream won at 40-1 at Beverley yesterday, first mentioned here on the 3rd June as one to back once handicapped and stepping up in trip. Thanks for the messages I got yesterday, I know a few of you backed it.)
Tony (rightly) states that plenty of these lists just tell you that the horse in question is ready to win but make no mention of the conditions that the horse needs to bring out the best in him/her. No good putting something up for its’ last run on good to firm when it’s going to be soft this time, and again that’s something I get. I do try, when possible, to put what I think will be the optimum conditions up for the horse (not always possible, given a lot of the time you’re dealing with horses starting out on their careers) and sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m wrong. I’d say in that respect there’s not much difference between that and simply tipping something up on the day of race. Right and wrong are simply par for the course when you’re trying to find a winner, by whatever means you use.
The big difference for me is that, in going to the races (in those golden days before lockdown, remember that?) I can see the condition of a horse and I can pass on to you whether it was fit or not. In my mind, after seeing the condition of a horse in the paddock, I’ll usually try and pin down in my own mind what I expect from the horse that day in terms of both how it’ll run and a finishing position. If it then exceeds what I believe it is going to do then it’s worth inclusion on a tracker, for my money, as it should be up to winning a race once fit. And I think it’s this that Tony is missing – that for all you can read form until your eyes glaze over, there’s simply no substitute for going racing and looking at horses – it’s the final piece of the jigsaw, for me anyway. An Eyecatchers list of unfit horses that run well can be worth plenty, in my experience.
Anyway Tony, weren’t you against podcasts this time last year? And now look at you, doing a (very good) one for Betfair each week. Maybe this time next year you’ll be joining me at, say, Fakenham, looking at bumper horses. I doubt it somehow, but you never know….;-)
So here’s a couple I’ve added in in the last two weeks.
Soufyan (Milton Harris)
On the pictures I’ve seen this 2yo looks absolutely huge and is still growing into his frame, so it’s going to be autumn time before he starts to come to himself, and his exaggerated knee action says genuinely soft ground is going to suit as well, so that only bolsters the notion I have that it’ll be October/November before he wins his nursery. He’s shown a bit in his two starts so far – clueless out back for the first half of his Chepstow debut before the penny drops and he passes a few beaten ones, and at Lingfield this week he travelled better to the 2f pole before lugging left (as he did on debut) and becoming outpaced, finishing sixth. He’s basically learning on the job and I think 1m+ and soft ground on a galloping track should see him in a better light. Needs another run for a mark first, though.
Twilley (Mick Appleby)
I’ll throw another 2yo at you, one that’s beaten just two horses home in two starts but that really doesn’t tell the whole picture, as he’s recorded a couple of reasonable speed figures (at a low level, which is where he’ll operate) and shaped quite nicely at Sandown last time, travelling perfectly well against horses from some big Newmarket yards until late on and at one point looking like he might get involved for the minor placings before getting outpaced 2f out. From the furlong pole he stays on very nicely again without being knocked about, and he gives the impression of more to come.
The owners know the family well, as they also have the half-sister, the useful sprinter Abbajabba, but this one doesn’t (at this stage) look to have the same speed, the influence of sire Nathaniel suggesting stamina is more his long suit. Nurseries of 1m+ should be on the agenda once he gets his mark.
On to today and by the time you read this over your cornflakes, I'll be halfway to Fontwell as the first part of a two-day racing weekend that should take in Windsor on Saturday too, all being well. It looks like Fontwell is going to be soft and the only bet I've had so far is a small e/w bet on Mogestic in the 1.05, the 3m2f Handicap Chase. This could be a bit of a slog, which Mogestic won't mind, and the return of some headgear is quite interesting. He should strip fitter for a run last month and has a course win to his name. This is a moderate contest and I can see him going well.
Good luck with all your bets today,