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Monkey business at Chepstow and fitness questions elsewhere – plus what is a Tragus Chart?

Hello racing aficionados, and isn’t it just amazing how a sport of sunshine brings smiles all round, not to mention the possibility (make that probability) that all race meetings will go ahead as planned this Saturday for the first time in what feels like god knows how long – happy days indeed!

Last week needed to be filed under “F” for Forget it to be honest with both my suggestions failing to run any kind of race though luckily I can use the atrocious ground as my excuse (and it is an excuse).  The rest of the week passed with little incident I suppose though I really ought to mention the sad passing of ex trainer and racehorse owner David Barker who I may not have known personally, but who I am told was a thoroughly likeable person and thus a rarity in this game. 44 years old is far too young for anyone to leave friends and family behind and this larger than life character will be sorely missed, especially on the northern circuit, and my thoughts go out to his family at this sad time.

Other news seems to involve other disappointments starting with Time For Rupert who was the subject of a serious gamble this week that went largely unreported. Despite a lack of recorded cash bets at the track his price contracted from 9/2 to 11/4 in the final moments before the off before getting beaten an easy two lengths by Tranquil Sea in the veterans race, though this was an improvement on recent runs and I will not be writing the ten year old off just yet. Certify also disappointed big time in Dubai when she was a well-beaten fourth in the Balanchine Stakes behind L’Amour De Ma Vie thus losing her previous unbeaten record.  She may not be the horse they hoped but more interestingly, I discovered something called Tragus Chart in among the detailed result. I do not profess to understand it (yet – give me time), but it seems to record the distance each horse actually travelled in a race, telling me (and I assume it is accurate?) that runner up Flotilla (beaten a length and three quarters) ran two lengths further than the winner, ditto the third (beaten less than two lengths as well), but more importantly, can you imagine what a weapon that would be for punters if it was in operation at every track? We are actually saying that the runner up was the moral victor at the weights and we could (theoretically), back the second to turn the form around at the same weights next time out, something we would never even dream of normally!   I doubt it comes to pass in my lifetime but we can ask, and in the next few weeks watch this space as I try to find out a little bit more about who does it, why, and how it works as it would surely be a serious game changer for punters everywhere!

Looking ahead (I hope that wasn’t too dry but it is a very exciting possibility), and who should we bet on this weekend without the benefit of Ron’s Podcast and his statistical analysis? Three horses have come to my attention as I run through each and every card starting at Chepstow where I will keep a careful eye on the betting ahead of the hurdling debut of Monkey Kingdom in the 1.20pm. Trainer Rebecca Curtis is back among the winners again and has a 23% strike rate with her maidens and with two bumper wins to his name, this six year old clearly has an engine. There may be less depth to this race than the fourteen runners suggest and as long as he is fit enough to do himself justice, I could well be tempted in to a bet.

Talking of fitness, Grandeur is clearly the best horse in the race ahead of the Lingfield Winter Derby Trial, but is he fit enough to win after 76 days off track or does he have other loftier targets? Fact is his last run was when beaten less tan four lengths at Sha Tin in the Group One Hong Kong Cup which is light years ahead of this contest, and if the betting speaks in has favour, I will be happy to add him to any multiples dependent on his price of course?

Lastly, I am heading of to the main meeting at Kempton when Paul Nicholls finally gets a race in to French import Alcala in the 2.05pm. I am not really certain what they think of the son of Turgeon who has already won at Vittel in a bumper before finishing second to As De Ferbet at Auteuil over hurdles followed by a trip over the channel.  Still entered in the Triumph Hurdle they must think quite highly of him even though he was not paraded on my recent stable trip, though I am wary this may be a case of just giving him a run before deciding whether to heads to Prestbury Park – on the other hand, he could hack up at a price and as a greedy punter, I just cannot risk that happening today.

Selections this week:

Monkey Kingdom 1.20pm Chepstow

Grandeur 3.30pm Lingfield

Alcala 2.05pm Kempton

Horses to follow: No recent amendments in this weather.

Jumps:

Lily Mars – one run in a bumper was enough to catch my eye and I feel she caught a tartar at Wincanton on her debut when she looked in need of the run. With that experience under her belt she ought to be placed to pick up a race, which should be enough to make us a profit.

***Fourth last week but worth keeping on the list***

Rolling Star – a well-regarded young hurdler who won with any amount in hand at Haydock and seems certain to come on again for the run as per the Henderson yard this season

***Entered Cheltenham 14th March***

African Gold – a classy hurdler expected to be even better over fences, he rather let the side down on his chasing debut but is I am assured far better than that – he will win races over fences.

***No entries at present***

Opera Og – hopefully well handicapped off a rating of 117 (when last seen), the seven year old looked all over the winner at Bangor before fading badly to finish third. The lack of a run was clearly his undoing and with that run under his belt he should win next time out provided connections keep their sites lowered to a sensible level.

***Entered Wincanton 26th February***

Champagne Fever – on target at home for the Arkle Chase, held in the highest regard and schooling well for Willie Mullins, likely to have Ruby Walsh in the saddle, what more can a punter ask for?

***No entries until Cheltenham at present***

Sire De Grugy – won as he pleased on his return and sure to improve considerably for the race for Sussex trainer and ex jockey Gary Moore.

***No entries until Cheltenham at present***

Flat:

Mutakayyef – trained by William Haggas I had a quandary this week – do I or don’t I back the son of Sea The Stars? As with all the stable juveniles he was a shoe in to improve for the run but he is spoken of in glowing terms by gallop watchers in Newmarket. Fact is he ran as expected – slowly away, green as grass, and hampered as well, he will learn plenty from the experience and can be ignored at your peril.

***No current entries***

Freemason – a once raced juvenile owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Harbinger (a posh syndicate), he cost a whopping 150,000 Guineas so ought to be half decent – word is he is all that and more, so one to stay on the right side of.

***No current entries (unless you include the 2014 Derby!***

Idea – twice raced two year old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and said to be flying on the gallops. Won after a poor run at Windsor when last seen looking as green as grass and very much one to keep on the right side of – originally nominated by a post racing reader!

***No current entries***

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