Saturday, 4 May 2013

Forty To Follow round up


The curtain fell on an eventful jumps season last Saturday with an excellent mixed card at Sandown. Why aren’t there more of these? Both feature jumps races went to trainers outside the big yards: Henry Daly with Quintin Collonges in the Bet365 Chase and Gary Moore with Sire De Grugy in the Celebration Chase. The latter was a particularly uplifting result, not just because I had a small win bet. I was impressed with the honesty of connections who recognised that although the horse is probably just short of the very top class, the possibilities are limitless with careful preparation and proper targeting of races. This was a deserved success for the likeable trainer. The horse featured in my 40 to follow last season and I have a generous soft spot for him. 

Which brings me to the fortunes of the 2012-13 40TF project. In summary, it was a reasonable performance. The bald stats: 
  • 167 bets with 33 winners (including each-way returns) at a strike rate of 19.7%
  • Turnover was 671pts, yielding a profit 70pts giving a return on investment of 10.4%
I didn’t back every horse every time it ran. Odds-on shots were usually avoided. The results include some successful exactas and each-way returns, but other combinations (for instance, the feverish and rash Festival acca activity) are judiciously ignored.

There were a higher number of place returns this season, without which the profit margin – scanty enough anyway – would have been much thinner.  This also explains the relatively low ROI compared to the strike rate.

The season tailed off significantly after hitting a high water mark of 118pts profit on 5th Jan. December had been good to me with 9 winners from 31 bets at a 29% strike rate and a 35pt profit. So it was inevitable that the season’s longest losing run smashed into the stats immediately after this point: Nineteen straight losing bets lasting over a month between 5th Jan to 10th Feb.

However, the profit margin was back up to around 102pts on Cheltenham eve. It’s no wonder that I entered the Festival fray with robust confidence. The carnage that ensued there is typical of the way this game can puncture the most buoyant of moods. My staking at the Festival is always higher than elsewhere in the season and it took the project a good while to recover from damage inflicted there. If you’d asked me to take a final profit of +70 in March, I’d have bitten your hand off. If you’d asked me the same question about the +118 in January, I’d have been looking for double. Deal or no deal…

For comparison, the project recorded a theoretical loss of -12 a level £1 stake measured by every running of every horse. Therein lies the value of selective punting and a variable staking strategy.

Here’s a quick analysis of the performance of the list horses.

Alfie Spinner: Flattered to deceive. Often ran and jumped fluently on the bridle but found nothing off it, even in his favoured deep ground.

Ambion Wood: Never recovered from the dose of clap that went round Daly’s yard in the Autumn. Was not fit enough on any of his runs and will retain his novice status into next season.

Arctic Ben: Looked to be going backwards until pulling out an all-the-way win at 7-1 under ideal conditions in a novice chase which paid for his keep this season.

Back In Focus: A decent horse, but not massively profitable at odds-on wins and generally skinny prices. Poor on final start.

Barbatos: Late start after injury and ran reasonably well in tough handicaps without ever threatening to win.

Benheir: ‘Highly tried’ is the best term to describe Rebecca Curtis’s handling, often over marathon trips under big weights. That said, he was short headed twice and does not lack for guts. A tad unlucky.

Big Occasion: Ended the season in profit and with enhanced credentials as a top drawer staying handicap chaser. I had my doubts though. “Doesn’t look a natural fencer” I wrote in my spreadie after a tame effort back in December.

Bold Sir Brian: A horror fall at Cheltenham in January seemed to put paid to the confidence of this previously progressive chaser. Was not the same horse in his two runs afterwards.

Call The Police: Won a couple of small field races at short prices before being campaigned too often and over inadequate trips, often on shocking going. The otherwise peerless Willie Mullins has messed this one about.

Cotton Mill: Another one who flattered to deceive. Good comeback in the Betfair Hurdle, bit failed to show up at Cheltenham and Aintree. The handicapper already had him and we never knew.

Daffern Seal: no races.

Dodging Bullets: Another who’s campaign tailed off. Looked a very lively outsider for the Supreme where his unexpectedly bad run was made believable by his equally poor effort at Aintree three weeks later.

Fascino Rustico: Transferred to Nicholls in the close season and given a breathing op after an average bumper run at the Paddy Power meeting. Champion bumper run not very encouraging.

Fashion Faux Pas: not seen since September 2012.

First Fandango: Never convinced over fences, despite getting his head in front once. Thereafter ran competitively in handicap hurdles and landed some handy place wedge.

Get Me Out Of Here: Won well on seasonal debut and then disrespectfully campaigned in the mud, over too far and then with a welter burden. Jonjo must have broken this one’s heart by now.

Go All The Way: One poor run and fall in the Autumn and not seen since.

Greyfriars Drummer: not seen since last Summer.

Hazy Tom: One win the Autumn should have been supplemented by a win in a decent event at Perth before coming down at the last. Tough asks in between.

Hidden Cyclone: High hopes for this one and indeed he started off well in a couple of decent chases. But found out big style in the Lexus at Christmas and his form never seemed to recover.

Ifyouletmefinish: Decent enough in four races without recording a win - three over hurdles and then unseating when leading in his debut over fences.

Il De Re: Quite obviously hated hurdling. Ran in three decent handicaps and lost lengths at his obstacles, backing off and skewing in the air. Back to the flat.

King Of The Wolds: One win from 6 and a couple of near misses. Didn’t quite go on as expected, but sure to make mark as a chaser. Fat lot of good for this list.

Kuilsriver: One big win at 33-1 back over hurdles. Seasonal debut in a novice chase was a disaster and his next run was a confidence builder, before an all-the-way success in a decent handicap hurdle .

Lackamon: Mixed hurdling and chasing, but was going backwards big style until a Spring revival provided a win at good odds at Sedgefield. 

Mae’s Choice: Poor season in 9 races which dented these list stats. Struggled in handicap hurdles and novice chases alike, rarely threatening. Lost her way.

Melodic Rendezvous: Star quality. Three wins from four runs, including the Tolworth in good style. Would have been great to see him line up in the Supreme but injury curtailed his season.

Native Gallery: Off for most of season before pitched into the deep end at Aintree and Punchestown. Ran well at the latter for a place finish.

Pendra: Progressed well with two wins from four in novice hurdles before running into Melodic rendezvous and then coming unstuck in the Coral Cup.

Problema Tic: Had high hopes in staying chases and was travelling well when falling heavily at Aintree in the Autumn. Knocked the stuffing out of him and under-performed in races afterwards.

Raya Star: Started this season where he left off last, but was then set some tough tasks and eventually his normally sound jumping fell apart at the highest level.

Red Rocco: Two good novice chase wins before being found out over a marathon trip in handicap company. Not seen since February.

She Ranks Me: Two wins from 6. Gutsy, tough and some talent. Progressed to listed class in mares hurdles but fell apart at Cheltenham. Off the track since.

Smad Place: Failed to make the big breakthrough. Place finishes in top rank staying hurdles (in an open season) is probably as good as he is.

Sustainability: Frustrating. Two wins at short odds from 7 and some close finishes, but often ragged jumping and uneasy travelling.  

Swinging Sultan: Being kept for a flat campaign.

Trifolium: Breathing problems blighted his season and not seen since a distant last in the Fighting Fifth. Shame. Came into the season a really bright prospect.

Umadachar: Two from five. Inconsistent season and looks a difficult ride.

Up To Something: Two wins from seven and ran into some good sorts. Nevertheless, didn’t always perform as well as his talent suggests. Tongue-tie on last start seemed to make a big difference.

Urbain De Sivola: Disappointing. Failed to threaten in any of his three runs. No obvious progression from last season.