Same rail (6m), Same penotrometer (6.34)
2017 winners generally found the rail in run:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the spring of hope; it was the winter of despair”
I last used Charles Dickens’ immortal opening in a doomed Lions’ Youth-of-the-Year Quest in 1982.
Thirty-four years on, I found myself in Anzac observance at Flemington, basking in brilliant autumn sunshine and bathing in the buzz of a race meeting with verve.
My emotional and professional attachment lay with the programme at Randwick, yet Flemington’s public holiday offering, with its Saturday prizemoney and St Leger feature was immensely more fulfilling.
Why were we, in the Emerald City, stripped of our Holiday showcases? Sydney Cup day and Metropolitan day are but cherished memories from the distant past.
Both cities conducted dense Saturday cards two days prior. Yet Sydney’s horse racing enthusiasts were offered a lacklustre Monday meeting with the nadir of split-sex maidens notable for their failure to face the starter in town at their most recent appearance.
Victorian punters, based on the local TAB win pool, wagered 40% more on Flemington than their NSW counterparts bet on Randwick.
Sydney’s comparatively poor turnover is mitigated by an inferior surface, lower prizemoney and VicTab’s bolstering by other states’ betting flowing into their pool.
Nonetheless, we have the better horses, and, ostensibly, the poorer horseracing product. Borne out by the respective comparison on Thursday last.
NSW raced at Beaumont, a provincial course with access to city horses and riders. Victoria scheduled their meeting for country Wangaratta, in the far north of the state. And Wangaratta was forced to compete for contestants with the other NSW meeting at Albury, less than an hour away.
Yet the lowly southern programme held 30% more on its eight races than its Novocastrian counterpart.
The NSW jurisdiction compares unfavourably with Victoria for a number of structural reasons.
Foremost, in my opinion, is geography. The Great Dividing Range is true to its name, and populous NSW centres are relatively far flung. Thus the “tyranny of distance”.
By contrast, Victorian towns are relatively adjacent, and additionally linked by a more sympathetic topography. Victoria’s regional framework is not only comparatively, but in reality, vibrant.
Proximate in significance is our access to the apex of the breed. Catering for the best horses, likely trained by illustrious horse-people, and steered by elite riders, makes the task of presenting an evenly-graded contest unenviable.
Adroit programming is required to overcome this handicap.
One of the earliest Midweek programmes I attended was on March 9, 1983. Bob Hawke had just swept to power and the STC staged a 9 event card at Canterbury with 134 acceptors. Prizemoney for each race of $8,000 equates to $24,000 in today’s money.
Six and a half years later on November 29, 1989, the STC can still attract 122 acceptors for a 9 race Wednesday card at Canterbury. Prizemoney has inched up to $11,000 per race, valued at $22,000 today.
Contrast those with the current Canterbury midweek offering of seven $40,000 races. Acceptors a mere 73. Standard fare in the modern era.
The Canterbury cards from three decades back starkly differentiate from the contemporary programme not just in races and runners. THERE WERE NO MAIDEN RACES.
Quite simply, maidens are a turnoff for enthusiasts. Throughout the course of my lifelong passion for the turf, fellow devotees have bemoaned the presence, initially at the provincials, then in town, of multiple maiden events.
Punters despise Maiden races for their lack of grading and winning profiles. The maidens for 3yos last Wednesday attracted TAB win pools of just $40k.
I referenced earlier the Anzac Day maidens. Texas Rebel was the only contestant to have STARTED in the metropolitan area in the three months prior.
Why would the retailer ply his customers with goods they don’t like and don’t want?
I propose we replace maiden events with races for those who are yet to win a race at the current level or beyond, thereby offering openings to winners from inferior circuits, keen to try their luck against the unproven at the higher purse.
Midweek maiden races would then become events for horses who have not won a race worth $40k. Provincial maiden contests are now for those yet to win a race worth $22k.
And a new Saturday race type beckons entrants who have not won a race worth $85k.
In Rosehill we trust
Yet another benign surface greeted punters at Rosehill last Saturday for a solid collection of competitive events. After the vagaries of the Randwick track, Rosehill offers dependability and trustworthiness.
I was intrigued as to how those with last-start Randwick runs would perform, theorizing that the group might over-achieve on the firmer, faster ground. The hopeful thirteen produced only Hetty Heights in the winners’ stall when 2 firsts may have been expected, although Unequivocal and His Majesty were near misses.
The analysis may persist into the next Rosehill fixture.
I deemed the 3yo contests to be of prominent interest on the card.
Race one comprised the reincarnated Reincarnate versus predominantly Waller resumers. Notably the favourite lost his control, up in grade and back in distance, and percipient layers were amply rewarded by his plain performance.
Meanwhile, Waller bookended the race, Sir Bacchus demonstrating a devastating turn-of-foot that will carry him far while the strangely untrialled Wudang Mountain derived valuable match practice of the on-pace variety. Alas, his father is his greatest liability.
Imposing Lass continued her revelation in Race four. She sprinted sharply after setting a moderate tempo, leaving her fancied but dour filly rivals in her wake. Falkenberg and Chandana are clearly destined for longer assignments.
James McDonald may have learned from his ride on Moher, a horse he might best have driven to the lead given its one-paced proclivity. Forty minutes later he took no prisoners on Muy Bien, perhaps recognizing the virtue of your rivals being off-the-bit and chasing.
Heady rides will be of considerable value as we head into winter, and those with acceleration head elsewhere.
Hi Marc, Glenn and Gordo,
People often write in to say that they’ve started to take their punting more seriously, want to frame their own markets and ask what advice can you give.
It’s actually a very hard question for you guys to answer because you don’t know what skills the person asking actually possesses.
Are they very good at maths? Can they program? Where are they on the knowledge/ability ladder?
Your answers also assume that they have some basic knowledge of markets such as what does it actually mean to frame a market to 100%? I’m not so sure that most punters who ask the question actually know.
I was reminded today of how I started doing things, which over time got combined with my computerised rating to become the computerised price that I work with these days.
Sunshine Coast race 1 was a 6 horse race and I’ve had a place bet on Little Miss Monaco. You could get $101 at the jump and it was easily the rank outsider in the field with the next best runner being $15. The horse ran 4th and I happened to be with a mate at the time who commented on what a hopeless bet it was and what did I expect at those odds? I pointed out that the horse was 6th ranked in the market but had finished 4th, which was the reminder of how I started approaching pricing way, way back in time.
Without first looking at the market I went through a meeting and ranked each horse in each race into what I thought would be the correct market order. I then looked at the pre-post market and added the market rank next to my ranking. Once the race was run I added SP rank and, finally, finishing position.
I kept the results in a spreadsheet and the improvement I made was obvious after just a few months in terms of my ranking getting closer to SP and finishing ranking. Getting that right obviously allows you to identify horses that will firm, which then creates a profit opportunity.
If you can’t create a market order that is reasonably close to the SP market order often enough then you are almost no hope of moving to the next stage and creating a profitable price.
It was a good way to start and it’s something that those who want to improve their punting can do regardless of their maths ability, programming talent, or ability to read a race etc.
Keep up the good work!
It was a while in the waiting but the trip up to Sydney from Melbourne was booked.
My best mate and I were off to Day 1 of The Championships at Randwick in a month and we were absolutely jumping out of our skin.
The races themselves were one of the reasons we decided to head to Sydney, but meeting the three gentleman that give us ‘The Rant’ and ‘The Preview’ week in week out was at the top of the ‘to do’ list.
An email to ‘the ranters’ asking for a friendly catch up at racing rant park after our flight was duly obliged and our excitement levels grew exponentially.
So there we were, two young keen 23-year-old race-goers just off our flight from Melbourne hurtling in a cab through the suburban streets of Sydney on our way to Racing Rant Park.
As we approached our destination, my mate and I looked at each other and there was a realisation that resonated between us, a moment of ‘are we really here?’
The Preview was being recorded as we entered the hallowed grounds of Racing Rant Park and we waited with angst as it finished up.
We introduced ourselves like kids meeting their heroes.
Glensta had to leave early but Marc and Gordo were able to stick around for a chat about the races.
We had no idea that lunch with a few quiet beverages were in the beckoning and we genuinely appreciated Marc and Gordo sharing their knowledge and wisdom of what is a tough game.
‘It was $3.2 this morning Gord,’ Marc said
‘Yeh into 2 point 2 now Roguish,’ Gordo responded.
And there was our first winner on the trip. Hyeronimus hopped off the fence at the transferred Gosford Guineas meeting to get Roguish home.
Marc was then the next to head off after a night of form analysis that rendered him to a state of exhaustion.
It was left to Gordo my best mate and I to kick on with proceedings with the idea that we’d continue to find winners.
A pub up the road with a TAB was our next destination and the three of us put $50 each into our punting kitty that would last us long enough to pass time.
Up and down up went the kitty, until we decided to go all in on the David Pfieffer trained ‘I thought So’ in the Gosford Guineas.
I made the lads aware that ‘our only danger is the 11.’
Ironically, the 11 beat us in a photo finish that I could have sworn we’d won.
I copped a bit of banter for the next hour or so from Gordo about not playing the 11, but I guess that’s the game we all play. They go your way one day and the next day they don’t. Luckily it didn't deter us.
We thought it might be a good idea to finally check into the apartment we were staying at and then head off for some dinner.
We ended up at The Dog Hotel in Clovelly for a few more drinks. It was here that Gordo realised that my best mate was ‘The Lebanese Glen Pollett.’
My best mate is definitely not a racist, he just hates everyone equally. My best mate isn't outspoken, he just says as it is. Political correctness is something that he believes is a ridiculous concept. Safe to say the similarities to Glensta are uncanny.
A night on the karaoke at The Dog ensued as the tunes were belted out.
It was then time that we pulled the pin on an eventful day and night to recharge the batteries for what would ultimately be a very interesting beginning to The Championships.
The sun shone down on a beautiful Randwick track that had only seen rain for the last month.
Property was the push from the mounting yard before the first and duly saluted. As the races went by it was clearly evident to all that fence in running was crucial.
“Welcome to barrier 1 land,’ Marc exclaimed!
The next push from the mounting yard at odds was Diddums. An alignment of Marc’s selections and Glensta’s push combined for a deadly result for the bookies.
“You can’t breath without it boys,’ Glensta proclaimed to us.
Chautauqua on top from the yard from the TJ. 8s, into 7s, into 6s, into 5s. The money tumbled in for ‘The Grey Flash.’
‘It’s gonna be history at Randwick,’ as the Glensta continued his on-course antics
As English dashed to the front we all could have had millions on her at the 100m mark….that was until ‘CAN HE DO IT? CHAUTAUQUA HE’S FLYING………YES THERE’S HISTORY!’
Silence in the betting ring. Silence around the course.
It was almost as if no one cared what happened for the rest of the day.
My best mate and I gathered ourselves saw it all out and heaved through a tough few results to round out the card.
A final acknowledgement and thanks to Glenn, Gordo and Marc as everyone headed off in their own directions to assess all the results of what was an encapsulating day of racing.
Back to Melbourne the day after and the ritual began again. Waiting for the notification that ‘The Rant has now been posted.’
A piece from the vault:
A Tale of Two Classics
The Sydney Cup and the Oaks, both set down for decision this Saturday, have a lengthy history of well-defined lead-ups, rendering them ripe for analysis.
The Cup has been principally fed by two events; the Group One Tancred (BMW) at weight-for-age, and the Group Two Chairmans, a handicap.
The Tancred is obviously a higher quality event, but the Chairmans’ potency lies in its closer proximity to the Cup along with the fact that shares the same track.
The past twenty-five runnings have seen 8 winners emanate from the Tancred, whilst the Chairmans has supplied 14 winners.
Of greater interest is the subsequent performance in the Cup of the best finish in each of the lead-ups.
The SP of the Tancred highest placings equates to an expectation of providing 6.5 wins in the Cup, i.e. their cumulative SP percentage is 650%, yet only 3 Tancred highest placings have been victorious.
This meagre return contrasts with the highest placed Chairmans having an expectation of 4.5 Cup winners and actually achieving 5 winners.
The dishonour roll of Tancred participants is extensive. Hartnell unplaced at 4/6, Kellini unplaced at 13/8, Bluetigeroo unplaced at 7/4, Miltak unplaced at 6/4, Subzero 3rd at 6/4.
It is not that the Tancred is an unsuitable lead-up, rather that the conditions are sufficiently dissimilar in both actuality and intent, to render the Tancred hierarchy irrelevant.
This year Who Shot The Barman carries the Tancred curse. It may be that Almoonqith warrants greater attention than his likely quote.
The Oaks narrative is similar. The Storm Queen (Vinery) is a set-weights Group One, the Adrian Knox a Group Three handicap.
Once again, the Storm Queen carries greater esteem, while the Adrian Knox has the characteristics of The Chairmans, i.e. more proximate, same course.
This time it is the Storm Queen that supplies the bulk of Oaks winners, 12 of twenty-five, while the Adrian Knox has provided 7.
However, a similar story unfolds when each of the lead-up’s highest placings are put to the test. The Storm Queen runners have an expectation of 7.86 winners for a return of 6 winners, while the Adrian Knox outperforms its more vaunted cousin, expecting 3.56 winners and achieving 5 Oaks victors.
Some of the shorter-priced Storm Queen Oaks aspirants to founder include Lucia Valentina 3rd at 4/5, Faint Perfume a distant 2nd at 5/4, Saleous inglorious at Evens, and Northwood Plume 3rd at 4/6.
Streama managed to land her Oaks assignment at 2/5, but was gravely threatened by the unheralded Aliyana Tilde.
This year’s Oaks renewal carries less applicability with Single Gaze from the Storm Queen likely to have limited market presence.
Nevertheless, the above preliminary/final relationships are worthy for the future’s reference.
Reproduction of Pearla's analysis of last years' Sires Produce:
April 2, 2016
A quarter of a century ago, TIERCE, subsequently contentiously, appropriated the Sires’ on his Triple Crown romp.
The Sires’ Produce has long been a discomfiting assignment for the Slipper runoff. Different course, different distance, and often a stop-start tempo.
And, in TIERCE’s day, with a purse a mere ten-per-cent of its meretricious forbear.
Nevertheless, of the ensuing 14 renewals, 12 victors emanated from the Slipper, with VISCOUNT the only unplaced Slipper contestant.
The contemporary Sires carries nearly treble the prizemoney of its antecedent relative to the Slipper, yet of the past ten runnings, only 4 Sires’ winners have even contested the illustrious lead-up.
And again, the past decade has seen only 4 Golden Slipper winners tread the Triple Crown path by proceeding to Derby Day.
Interrogation of Sires’ winners form characteristics back to 2003 is made possible by a marvellous data resource at http://www.racingandsports.com.au/en/breeding-groups.asp?gpage=summary
Of the 13 winners, only three lined up with fewer than 4 career starts, two of which had their runs well spaced.
Today’s renewal comprises 3 slipper runners, while fewer than half the field have had 4 or more career starts.
TELPERION fits the classic mould, attacking the line in the slipper. His preparation seems ideally seasoned, 4th-up into today’s race.
It may be timely to republish my WEEKEND WISDOM from last year's BMW card at Rosehill. Note that Preferment has also remained WINLESS subsequent to his 2016 triumph. Jameka has a cross to bear!
At the dawn of the new millennium, high hopes were cherished for the continued excellence and pre-eminence of the Tancred Stakes, Australia’s mile-and-a-half classic at WFA.
Mercedes had just presided over an unprecedented run of elite Tancred winners; Might and Power sandwiched by back-to-back Octagonal and Tie The Knot.
It was the shock victory of Curata Storm in 2001, using a Hawkesbury “B” grass Class One as a stepping stone to infamy, that signalled the commencement of decay.
Tie The Knot at 8/13 was a floundering 4th.
And the perversity of the turf would see Curata Storm fail to place in 20 subsequent outings.
Exit Mercedes, hello again BMW. Cups darlings Ethereal and Makybe Diva bookended victories by the undistinguished Freemason and Grand Zulu.
Since then journeymen such as Blutigeroo and Cedarberg have raised barely an eyebrow as the once proud classic continues its decline.
Clearly the final nail was the elevation of the Queen Liz in 2014 from half a million to 4 million, together with the pruning of three-quarters of a million from the Tancred purse.
Amazingly, the past five Tancred winners have failed to win since. Cedarberg 0/2, Manighar 0/17, Fiveandahalfstar 0/4, Silent Achiever 0/11 and Hartnell 0/6.
Curata Storm has company.
And Hartnell’s odds-on defeat in last year’s Sydney Cup takes on a new meaning.
Saturday’s Tancred renewal certainly provided thrilling theatre, while the purposeful victory by triple-major Preferment appears to have a credibility-restoring aspect.
However, it may be notable that Preferment went to the start winless in 6 group one appearances away from Flemington.
The Waller juggernaut cracked the nut with a sledgehammer trifecta, five previous years offering a Beaten Up 3rd, albeit with limited market presence.
Clearly observable was the conveyor-belt that supplied the placings together with the strung-up/shuffled-back of the junior and the mare.
And the early thrusting indicator of a now ready-to-fire Storm The Stars.
Saturday’s Storm Queen (Vinery) culminated with a fairytale aura.
Single Gaze debuted at Rosehill back in November 2014, jumped at $230 on the exchange, and was last standing as firstly Exosphere, then Counterattack, folded in front of her.
Her last-to-first victory was visually impressive, but clearly a product of an excessive early tempo bringing her fancied rivals unstuck.
In 9 subsequent runs she adopted what became a customary rearward position, loitering near the back, often running home into a place past tiring rivals.
They were valuable placings; Magic Millions 2yo, Black Opal, Magic Millions 3yo. But her racing style is just the kind sophisticated players love to oppose.
Single Gaze returned to Sydney this Autumn in the Surround Stakes with new purpose and a different approach. She settled OUTSIDE THE LEAD.
Welcome, lady, to the world where winningness is constructed, by participating in a race.
She has gone on to breakthrough in the Keith Nolan and defy them in the Storm Queen, racing one-out-one-back each time.
Enough of the victor, the race itself requires some commentary.
The Storm Queen is one of 7 majors set aside for 3yo fillies. Way too many, in my opinion, for the collective worth of the cohort.
However, Saturday’s group one stands alone for simple lack of a lead-up race.
The concept of a Grand Final/Group One is one of culmination.
The Flight is preceded by the Tea Rose, 1000 Guineas by the Prelude, VRC Oaks by the Wakeful, Australian Oaks by the Storm Queen, Australasian Oaks by the Auraria, and the Queensland Oaks by the Doomben Roses.
The Storm Queen, in the past 14 runnings, has been won 4 times from the Coolmore beaten brigade, and 4 times via the Kembla race, a Group 3 conducted at a provincial racecourse.
This is an ill-fit, rendering this particular major dubious.
Special Harmony failed to place in 7 subsequent runs. Hollow Bullet, 11 unplaced runs post Storm Queen. Serenade Rose annexed the Oaks thence one 3rd in her last 5 runs. Miss Finland won the Memsie first up in her following campaign then winless in 8 appearances. Faint Perfume failed to place in 8 four-year-old appearances.
Even Mosheen, despite having beaten the males in the Randwick Guineas prior to her Storm Queen win, succumbed to the curse, seriously underperforming in 4 runs the following Spring.
But best of all, Mirjulisa Lass, winning from a midweek 3rd, failing to place again in 16 further career starts.
The Ansett sponsorship from 1992-2001 certainly left this race a legacy.
The Rosehill component of our Autumn carnival has concluded with the focus upon Randwick for the next three Saturdays. This poses the obvious question; how will the Rosehill form translate when tested in the coming weeks?
Last Saturday’s rail position of 5m seemed to offer some advantage to those close to the pace, with the inside lane performing solidly throughout the programme.
The fact of a significantly wide rail will encourage me to oppose many at their subsequent start who I perceive to have been assisted to some degree. However, it may be argued that a “box-seat” run, i.e. 3rd on the fence is not always advantageous when the rails is fair.
I would often observe Nash Rawiller in such a position, hang well back from the leader in front of him, as far as possible. The conclusion I drew from this was that he was endeavouring to provide opportunity to build the horse’s momentum before seeking the desired split when making his run.
Valley Girl in the Storm Queen found herself box-seating after a positive start from jockey Prebble. The gentle tempo of the race caused the development of a “sprint home”, and Valley Girl’s amalgam of a distance drop from her last start and having to await the opening of a run rendered her box-seat position decidedly vexatious.
Another in-running position offering scant succour was the death-seat, its most notable occupant the fading Solicit. Her stablemate Angel’s Beach, likewise, covered herself in shame after sitting outside the lead. Man of Choice swapped photogenia for ambulance accompaniment.
I have previously extolled the virtue of Storm The Stars. Entirely Platinum, the only runner tried to beat red-hot It’s Somewhat, earns an honourable mention. Run of the day is awarded to the gallant Cosmic Cube, only 2nd-up with bright prospects for the preparation ahead.
And the flashing-light performance of 66/1 chance Obscura in the Ballieu casts grave aspersions on her rivals. The form from race 2 is the “debris of the day”.