2:55 York Racing Tips (13th May) LANGLEYS SOLICITORS EBF MARYGATE FILLIES´ STAKES (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (2yo)

The first two-year-old Listed Stakes of the season. Eleven fillies take part over this 5f on good to firm going. Ten with race experience and solitary debutante who needs to have ample ability to win this race on her racecourse bow. With win prize money over £25,000, it is a hot race and a number of these juveniles will be looking towards Royal Ascot in June. 

Boater is an interesting debut winner fro Mark Johnston. This daughter of Helmet won well although the opposition was either poor or needed the run. She was half a second slower than another Johnston filly Chapulla. Fair enough, that youngster is built like and colt probably has more ability than most colts. However, it does make me wonder if Boater is under priced at 2/1. Win or lose I couldn't take those odds because it seems a long way short of value and potentially a drifter in the market.

Michael Easterby fields debutante Carlton Frankie. This filly was well backed on another occasion but withdrawn. Priced at 11/1 this daughter of Equiano would have to be a lay bet. If she wins, she is bloody good. 

Richard Hannon has  a couple of has Stormy Clouds and Amlak. The former has the ability and taken advantage of a couple of so-so races. She has the ability and professional but I don't think she is top flight. 

Amlak cost 150,000G and held in some regard. She needed the race on debut at Ascot and will progress with racing. I can she this daughter of Invincible Spirit running well. 

Coolfitch and Twizzell both won a shade cosy on debut in what looked to be ordinary contests. Certainly, the former trainer by David O'Meara didn't beat a great deal although travelled very well for most. This faster ground may suit. Twizzell has pace and went clear at Beverley and difficult to assess. Has the potential to be decent but this race will test her mettle. 

Perfect Madge hails from a trainer who does well at this course. Another who looked as though she could improve for that first race. The form of that Newmarket race has given mixed signals. 

Vona is better than see. Richard Fahey's charge done little on debut and then unlucky at Chester's Lily Agnes Stakes when short of room. This is a step up in class and big odds but the type to run to the line.

Mightaswellsmile is a strange-looking filly, reminding me of those pictures of Stubbs, an old-fashioned kind of physique which is mainly due to being unfurnished, so she back looks long and rather angular from head to toe. James Given's horse looked to have no hope on debut after starting poorly and outpaced. However, she flew home and would have won in another fifty yards. That would have been a remarkable victory. The form of that race looks poor. Any semblance of a slow start over this 5f would make life difficult. 

At huge odds of 50/1 Khelly's Edge may have each-ways claims. This filly is clearly held in some regard by connections and not badly bred at all. Scott Dixon is a canny trainer and she had no luck on debut. If it could go wrong, it did, and I would expect a better race this time with experience and her share of luck.         

Love Oasis ran well enough on debut at big odds but disappointed next start and has something to prove.  

Conclusion: Trying to assess a winning horse is very difficult, especially when they win well on debut. Boater may be class and put these in their place but I couldn't bet at 2/1. The time of that race and the opposition just didn't inspire me. Carlton Frankie would be a place lay bet. She will either win or be unplaced - I can't imagine the former but if she does it would be an outstanding performance. If Khelly's Edge drifts to huge odds on the exchanges I'd be tempted to have a small each-way bet but mainly in hope, she is backed to afford a no-lose gamble if laying at shorter odds. In truth, a race for the purists and a lovely race to watch than bet.     

2:10 Chester Racing Tips (4th May) STELLAR GROUP LILY AGNES CONDITIONS STAKES (PLUS 10 RACE) (CLASS 2) (2yo)

The Lily Agnes is named after the seventeenth-century thoroughbred racehorse and winner of 21 races including the Northumberland Plate, Doncaster Cup and Ebor Handicap. She is best known for being the mare of Triple Crown winner Ormonde. In addition, she was the mother of 1000 Guineas winner Farewell in 1882.  Lily Agnes was herself exceptionally well bred being the daughter of 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Macaroni. 

The Lily Agnes has been won by a number of talented early-season two-year-olds. Rah Rah won last year for Mark Johnston. This daughter of Lonhro disappointed in the Queen Mary Stakes Group 2 at Royal Ascot but finished a respectable fourth in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket. 

Other noted winners include Mukhmal, The Lord & Star Rover. Click here to see a list of winners for the last 18 years.              

A Class 2 Conditions Stakes race over 5f  16y on good to soft going. With over £12,000 prize money to the winner, this should be a competitive heat.  From a first entry stage of twenty-three juveniles, we see a field of eight. Three colts, two geldings, and three fillies take part, all raced by the solitary debutante, Our Greta, trained by Michael Appleby. Five winners are hoping for further glory. This race is a stepping stone to Royal Ascot, which takes place in June.

A low draw can be a big advantage at the Roodee. Fiery Character, trained by Tom Dascombe, has one of the plum draws stalled two. This bay filly, a daughter of Dragon Pulse, is one of umpteen two-year-olds racing in the silks of The Roaring Twenties. This brown filly looks an inspired yearling purchase for Sackville Donald at just 18,000eur. She may have surprised connections by winning on debut at odds of 33/1. This April foal showed a determined attitude, leading from the stalls, rallying well in the closing stages to win by over one length.  The form of that race has taken a few knocks but she looks the type to enjoy this course.  

Manor House Stables field *Imdancinwithurwife who is something of an enigma. This Irish-bred daughter of Sir Prancealot started her racing career at Saint-Cloud, France. She was fancied to go well at odds of 6/1 but finished tenth. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing when she raced on her second start at Wolverhampton. In the morning, this bay filly was priced about 6/1. She won - returning odds of 16/1. In many respects, connections may have doubted she could win and, perhaps, that explains such weakness in the market. The form of that race doesn't look anything special. She looks second string and needs to improve.

Hugo Palmer is showing his class as a trainer winning his first Classic with Galileo Gold [2000 Guineas] and he knows his two-year-olds. Copper Knight ran well on debut at Newmarket when opposing form horses such as Sutter County and Tomily. That was a stiff task for any debutante but this son of Sir Prancealot was fancied to go well at odds of 10/1. He wasn't given a hard time and showed good pace to finish third, less than two lengths behind talented juveniles who are earmarked for Royal Ascot. He was fancied to win on his second start at Windsor but that turned out to be a stronger contest than connections may have wished. In truth, he did little wrong but wandering to his left in the closing stages, which cost him a win. Legendary Lunch, trained by Richard Hannon, prevailed and make no mistake this colt is a class act. Connections have Royal Ascot in their sights with this talented colt. 

Copper Knight had Awesome Allan over two lengths behind that day, although it should be noted that David Evans charge had the burden of a 6lb penalty which is a stiff task for a two-year-old. This son of Acclamation has the added problem of stall eight. If able to lead, he would have claims but that is a gamble in itself. However, he is worthy of respect.

Evans has Letmestopyouthere who slightly better drawn in stall six. It's still far from ideal. 

This bay colt, a son of Sir Prancealot, ran no race on debut when last behind Sutter County. He started a big price that day and looked limited but well backed the second start when enjoying the soft ground at Nottingham. That was a strange race. This April foal simply skipped over the ground and won well. I suspect he loves the soft ground and those in opposition that day either failed to handle conditions or needed the run. If the weather deteriorates and turning the going soft, he may well hold some hope. 

Stan Moore is a canny trainer and does well at the sales often buying yearlings for next to no money and usually proves his judgement is correct finding winners. Patrouille De Nuit is an Irish-bred son of Bushranger who cost a paltry 3,200eur. This gelding started his career in a hot maiden, behind Sutter County. He beat Letmestopyouthere. starting at odds of 33/1, he showed fair pace until tiring in the closing stages to finish seventh, beaten a long way by the winner, but so were the rest of the field. He was ridden as though fit. A small, compact juvenile, who looked good in his coat. Stall one is positive. This February foal may have the pace to lead but it seems unlikely he will have the class to trouble the major players. He may well touch shorter odds in running if that is your angle.    

I was delighted to see Steph Hollinshead's Stoneyford Lane win on debut. Both horse and jockey deserved praise for their never-say-die attitude, which saw this gelding win on the line. I thought Royston Ffrench gave this son of Bushranger an inspired ride. Hollinshead did wonders buying this yearling for 7,000gns. The soft ground made that debut run a test of stamina, which suited this two-year-old. The last two furlongs were run in a slow time and even from a low draw I would have concerns Stoneyford Lane may struggle for pace on this course which favours speedy types. That tardiness may have been due to inexperience but I would have reservations. If betting, you may get much greater odds in running and hope the leaders tire and he runs on near the line. I wouldn't bet on this horse unless the going was very testing.      

Our Greta hails from Michael Appleby's stable. He is a talented trainer and knows the score with his juveniles. This American-bred, grey daughter of Exchange Rate has a stiff task even from a favourable draw. This turning course is all about speed and few horses making their racecourse bow are wise enough to start on terms or handle sharp bends. Not a horse I would bet today.

Conclusion: To be fair this doesn't look a vintage Lily Agness. I would focus on the favourites: Fiery Character, Copper Knight, and Awesome Allan. The tissue prices suggest there isn't much value here. Fiery Character has plenty of pace and will most likely try to lead. The form of that race is still difficult to assess and you have to consider that he was something of a surprise winner on debut. Copper Knight has the best form and should travel well. He was a little wayward at Windsor when shying away from the whip, which may be  a concern. At short odds you can't afford to have any doubts and although I fancy this horse to win I would need an each-way price to be tempted. That doesn't look unlikely. Awesome Allan was put in his place by Copper Knight. It was a difficult task to haul a 6lb penalty and bookmakers illustrated that point by his odds. Now on level terms, there is hope he can challenge Hugo Palmer's juvenile. Awesome Allan could prove value. The major hindrance is a wide draw. It isn't beyond the realms he could make a bold bid to the rail being fast from the stalls on previous starts. Players may chance their luck that he can sit handy and without the burden of the penalty may have each-way claims.

* NR - Imdancinwithurwife


The Opportunities of a Professional Gambler: Eddy Murray

One year as a Professional Gambler 2004-2005

This is a post from Eddy Murray:

This was my original post on the Betfair forum about my first year as a professional gambler.  This article led Inside Edge magazine to get in touch with me, and my work for both Inside Edge magazine and The Sportsman newspaper stemmed from it.

The first week of March last year I left work to go full time, and one year on, I'd like to put this thread up as perhaps some people may find it helpful.

Being a gambler is not something I ever expected to become. The advent of the internet, and the exchanges, have changed my life (for now) dramatically. I still can't quite believe its been just twelve months, but I for one have a lot to thank Andrew Black and Ed Wray for.

The twelve months started fairly badly after nearly being killed in a car crash in Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote. That was a bit of a disappointment. However, on return to the UK, I had two or three very successful months, until suddenly I was hit by a double whammy. I had originally been winning on three different types of market, and suddenly overnight became a big loser on two of them. At the same time I had been guilty of expanding my own lifestyle and expectations (in a very human, but perhaps unwise way), and had also spent a third of my bank buying (music) recording studio equipment – the one thing which I'd always dreamed of having.

Losing half of my remaining bank in the space of a fortnight last June left me in deep trouble, and it looked like I was in danger of having made a massive mistake. There was one point where I had one final bet (not a huge one though) where I promised myself if it lost to stop and never bet ever again. It did end up winning. I asked Gamcare for advice, who were very helpful. When gambling messes up your sleeping, as well as your waking hours, it is a crushing realisation that you are in a mess.

There are no evening classes, A-levels, or MBAs in gambling. There are a small band of hardcore professional gamblers, nearly all of them at least partially on Betfair, who are literally some of the sharpest minds there are. Any amounts on any market above £100 are likely to be bets placed up there by one of them. They are equally as talented at gambling as a top barrister or doctor would be at their trade. Nobody walks into a courtroom and decides to be a top lawyer for the day, nor operate in theatre at the local hospital. The difference with betting is that everyone can (and most do) have a bet. What can be much simpler than having £10 on Manchester United to win a football match?

Last June (only three months after leaving work), I was in fairly heavy trouble. I had a certain level of my bank which I had set as a level I would try to never go below. When it reached that level, it looked like taking the gamble on becoming a gambler was one I was on the brink of losing.

At that point, the advice I received from another gambler changed everything. I was in contact with a number of people, mainly originally through Betfair's forum, but one of them I hold my hat off to, and have an enormous gratitude to, and respect for (you know who you are guv'nor). I managed to cross over and adapt my skills across a wide range of markets/sports, so that I had degrees of success in new areas. A key part of remaining a pro is the ability to adapt to a constantly changing market. You literally have to run to stand still to be successful in as fiercely competitive an environment as Betfair.

Winning money through betting is paradoxically something I feel very uncomfortable with morally. Are there people on the other side of these bets who are risking more than they can afford to lose? All the money originally deposited into Betfair has at some stage been earned in an office, a factory, a checkout, forecourt or salon. Much of it has real blood sweat and tears behind it. It makes me incredibly sad to read the figures from the big 3 that they have around 200,000 customers a year losing an average of £3,000 a year into FOBT's, as reported on a number of threads on the General Betting forum. One of my ex-girlfriends had only come to England with her mother many years ago, after her father's gambling addiction took their family to financial and emotional ruin, and her parents separated. There are real human beings out there who become just further statistics to fall by the wayside in the current pro-gambling British culture.

There's always the hope that if you do win, it's off a rich city trader, who is punting silly money for fun. Betfair has a very small number of seriously big winners (of which I am not one), but very few if any big losers. It has a vast legion of small losers. A football match can be more fun with a bet having been placed on it. The people who gamble for entertainment (whether they win or lose), as an enjoyable hobby to complement an already balanced life are perhaps the real winners. Given to this group of its customers, it is the better value and accessibility to a product they enjoy, that is perhaps Betfair's greatest success.

For every 100 winners in a calendar year, many of them will fall by the wayside the following year. One of the most famous posts on this forum has been 'The Story of Ster', who went from being a big winner to someone whose methods became horribly outmoded, and he found himself deceiving his family about his gambling problems. According to his last post he found happiness and support from his loved ones. For every passage of time, past present and future, there will be a number who are crushed through indiscipline/addiction/chasing/recklessness and/or greed.

A year full time feels like a lifetime. Gambling is neither a hobby nor a job, it is a lifestyle. One thread on here has had a user called TETO setting a target of £50 a day, whilst another has a user called 'Doubled' seeking to make £25,000 a year. Everyone starts gambling with £1's and £2's, and if they are good, that progresses to fivers, tenners, fifties, and then hundreds. There are people who bet tens of thousands of pounds per football match, horse or rugby team on Betfair, without blinking an eyelid. If you have two gamblers, one of them 5% better than the other, one could realistically make £20,000 a year from it, the second one could make £70,000. The difference between earning £26,000 a year in the workplace, and £32,000 a year could be four or five years' hard graft and promotion. A small difference in gambling skill can make an astronomical difference to the bottom line here though. The real shrewdies who use Betfair make about 10% profit on turnover, with a fairly astonishing turnover level by any layman's standards.

There is no security in the future of any gambler, bar their own ability to stash away whatever they can for a rainy day. I am 26, and I know that when I do go back into the workplace (something I hope to do) it will be at the bottom rung again. Each year spent as a full timer doesn't knock off a year of your real career at the bottom end of the ladder, it knocks off one of the best years at the end of it. It is quite a heavy burden for me, when most of my peers are doing well and forging ahead as consultants/analysts/bankers/lawyers/accountants/actuaries. Only hindsight will let me know if I did actually make the right decision at this stage in my life.

I'd like to put forward my own opinions of the kind of people who I think would make successful pro gamblers. Every school boy wants to be captain of the football team, or seeing the prettiest girl in the school. I was neither, just a quiet studious swot who probably annoyed people by continually beating everyone in the exams, as well as probably other various nerdy and equally nefarious activities. Pets don't win prizes, geeks do. If you can remember the class genius/nerd, I don't think you're cut out to be a winner on Betfair. If you were the nerd, you have a chance. As I said before, nobody expects to turn up and be a brilliant doctor or lawyer, but everybody likes to have a punt, and most are happy to bet until they've done their cobblers.

I've personally written two specific programs/models which have proved invaluable on certain markets. One has half a million variables. The other I'm incredibly proud of, and wouldn't sell for 30k. Winning at gambling is extraordinarily hard to do consistently, and it takes an armoury of graft, skill and discipline to succeed. The technical skill and wizardry behind some of the API programming is itself several steps up from a relatively small fish like me.

Nobody is ever a real winner from gambling until the day they cash in their chips, and leave the casino. There are gamblers throughout history who have won millions, and lost it all back. If somebody asked me if it can be done, could I truthfully say 'yes'? I'm not sure that I could. I could easily be one of the hundred pros who whilst being successful for the last year, may fall by the wayside over the next. There is no tragedy in that – all that a man can ask for in life is the freedom to live by the sword, and you can only do that if it's possible to die by the sword if you fail.

Starting out as a full timer is not something I would recommend to almost any other person (out of a sense of moral responsibility, not attempted protection of an imaginary part of some imaginary pot of gold). It has been the most astonishing learning curve, and in my first few months I experienced both sustained exhilaration and sustained depression. Gambling success is a fickle mistress, with incredible runs of both victories and defeats entwined illogically by fate. Value is all-important – not winners. That's the first lesson to any gambler, and one which the majority don't ever start to comprehend. The secret is not getting more heads than tails, its winning more when a coin comes up heads than you lose when it's tails.

To be a real pro, gambling ends up becoming almost like a form of accountancy, with a good staking plan, and calculation of value as and when it arises. I no longer have any thrill whatsoever from winning or losing a bet.

It has been an amazing twelve months, and I am very fortunate to have been successful for now. I'm sorry if some of this thread comes across as arrogant – it's all genuine from this side. Some people reading this will be thinking about going pro, and I'm sure other people will be reading too. If you do go pro, then try to remember how much of a rollercoaster emotionally it can be especially at first. Have a level of your bank which you will not go below, and promise yourself you won't go below it. Then make sure you keep that promise. If I've learnt anything its how unimportant money is, and how precious the people around you are.

I hope some of this helps other people. There'll be another geek out there like me who is at the stage I was at a year ago. I hope everyone finds fulfilment and happiness, which is much more than gambling in itself will ever have to offer.

Eddy Murray , Spring 2005


In Search of the Outsider: The Significance of Trainers & Starting Price

From what we have learned so far, it becomes apparent that  finding an outsider with a lively chance of winning on debut needs a certain calibre of a trainer. The problem with following the elite is that their juveniles are very much in the spotlight. As we have mentioned, their reputation precedes them to a point where many are under priced.

Few trainers, however capable, feature a level stakes profit with their debutantes. In fact, most would make truly poor bets from a blanket approach. Even looking at the individual rather than the general? To a certain extent, this would be a pointless exercise. Why? Because it is a remote chance these two-year-old could win at speculative odds. It would simply dictate they have a slim chance of winning. For example, from just over 450 debutantes, how many two-year-old winners did Mick Channon train priced over 8/1? It was in single figures. Fair enough, a large number of his juveniles were fancied in the betting. But would that inspire you to wager? I wouldn’t be interested. It is surprising how difficult it is to win on debut – at any price. And don’t forget how many win against a field of debutantes. The statistics would no doubt plummet when racing against experienced horses primed to run for their lives.

What we are searching for is this: not the biggest stables and certainly not the smallest who rarely train a two-year-old let alone a juvenile winner. What we need is that trainer who has plenty of ammunition but somehow slips under the radar. There are a number of interesting candidates.

One of the best candidates is Michael Dods. In my opinion, he is a talented trainer of two-year-old, especially on debut. He has excellent statistics with his debutantes, which, strangely, seem to have more chance of winning at speculative odds than when strongly fancied. However, the icing on the cake for his debutantes is when running on the soft or heavy ground. I’m not sure if he goes for the type of horse with hooves the size of dinner plates but they often love testing conditions. If you see one of his juveniles priced 40/1, 50/1 or even 66/1 on debut, racing in the terrible ground they make outstanding each way bets.

Now, I’m not saying all of them are going to win. Who would imagine they could! This article is simply to highlight which trainers can go well at speculative odds in the knowledge that you have a fighting chance.

My brother bets on many horses just because he likes their physical stature. In fact, he goes to the extreme of not really caring who trains them. He's had so many big priced winners it is quite astonishing. What I want to highlight from his success is that gigantic-priced horses fall into a niche area to prove victorious. It is all about looking in the right direction. That is the reason why some gamblers win and others lose. They have the skills to know that rich seam of gold is within reach while others are searching unforgiving grounds. 

Make sure you read Part 3 (coming soon)

5:30 Windsor Racing Tips (25th April) BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF NOVICE STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 4) (2yo)

An EBF Novices Stakes over 5f 10y on soft going. Originally nine two-year-olds but a couple of non-runners posted early with the testing conditions. David Evans had Deningy entered and I would watch out for this colt.  A field of debutantes bar two form horses which catch the eye and set a fair challenge to those making their racecourse bow. 

David Evan is a canny, old stick. To be honest, I think he is as crafty as a magician because he tries his utmost to get a price on a decent winning opportunity. That was the case with Awesome Allan who was well backed if not a touch lucky when winning over course and distance just over two weeks ago. This son of Acclamation looked professional and set the pace with Full Intention, looking held in the closing stages but led on post after Richard Kingsgate basically lost the race when trying to change his hands and his mount idled to be nabbed on the line. 

The form of that race looks fair.  Awesome Allan holds an entry for Ascot on Wednesday, a fully blown Stakes race rather than these pseudo-stakes races. Connections must be fancying this is an easier race especially carrying a 6lb penalty. This bay colt will most likely try to lead and has each-way claims but this may be a tougher race than Evans had originally envisaged. 

Copper Knight, trained by Hugo Palmer, will take some beating. This son of Sir Prancealot was relatively fancied on debut when contesting a strong race at Newmarket. Sutter County prevailed and shouldered a penalty, while Tomily and Copper Knight done little wrong to finish third and fourth , respectively.

This January foal was professional and showed plenty of natural pace and, at times, looked the major threat. Anglian Bloodstock has a decent juvenile on their hands for £30,000. I was hoping for an each-way price because I would be surprised if this bay colt doesn't go very well.  

The two form horses set a standard that most maidens would struggle to contend. However, there are a few interesting juveniles here from leading trainers which may have a future and worthy of consideration here. 

Ralph Beckett does pretty well at Windsor and Dr Julius No is a January foal sired by Dick Turpin out of a once-race mare. He cost £30,000 at the yearling sales. The stable can win on debut and at decent odds so one to respect although I would take a watching brief unless seriously backed. 

Brian Meehan has a couple of entrants: Jet Setter & Son Castello. The former is an Irish son of Fast Company and cost £57,000 when purchased at the yearling sales by Sam Sangster Bloodstock. He is a full brother to Maccus, who won on debut at this course, then disappointing at Royal Ascot in the Coventry Stakes Group 2. Meehan is a difficult trainer to assess with his debutantes although his better juveniles often win and progress with racing. He features a decent strike rate at the course as does Spencer in the saddle. The owner, Jonathan Harvey, has done well with Burano although the stable has sent out two horses in the last couple of weeks and both ran poorly.     

Son Castello is an Irish son of Lilbourne Lad out of an unraced mare. This £20,000 yearling was purchased by Sam Sangster Bloodstock.  Owner, J S Threadwell, has tasted success with class horse Helene Brilliant who raced at Group 1 class. Probably best watched if priced in double figures although a stable who can go well with debutantes priced 8/1 and less. 

Richard Hannon needs little introduction at Windsor and Legendary Lunch is quite interesting. This chestnut son of Dragon Pulse cost £78,000 when purchased at the yearling sales by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock. This is one of four two-year-olds entered to run at Ascot (Wednesday) which looks a very hot contest. This could well be a sign of confidence and a horse to respect from a plum draw.  

Hawridge Glory is best watched. 

Conclusion: Awesome Allan is no mug and a proven winner. That was a fair race although he will need to use every bit of his experience to defy a penalty and one or two hearty opponents. I can imagine a bold front-running display but I would be fearful there will be something better. Copper Knight ran very well on debut. He travelled well and held every chance and wasn't hard pressed. Hugo Palmer will be expecting a win and that will most likely happen. The only quandary is whether even money relates to value. There isn't much meat on the bone at that price and although a hard horse to beat I couldn't bet at those odds. Legendary Lunch is worthy of respect but once again the odds seem to offer very little value (tissue price 5/2). A watching brief unless Copper Knight drifts markedly in the betting.  


A Stakes race over 5f 59y on soft going. Seven two-year-olds take part: five colts and two fillies, three horses have race experience. 

Of the raced horses, Bill's Delight showed good pace on debut but tired rapidly. This daughter of Compton Place doesn't inspire and displays a poor running action. The type of horse you might wish to lay in running if leading because I don't think she will be winning. 

Sheila's Lad was earmarked to run n the Brocklesby Stakes, which isn't a bad sign for one of Stan Moore's two-year-olds. I expected a fair show at Leicester even though huge odds were on offer and this gelding ran on well and looked a threat for a stride or two. Statistically, this stable do quite well with juveniles on their second start. The form of that debut may not amount to a great deal and Lucata running no race next start doesn't help bring any insight. This son of Lilborne Lad is far from a physical specimen looking leggy and unfurnished. In fact, the look of this gelding on debut made me think he had little chance. Perhaps that was a poor race. Looks aren't the bee all and end all with juveniles but it certainly puts me off betting this February foal. 

Spin Top achieved little on debut at Kempton where he ran off the course after becoming impossible to steer. Joseph Tuite is a decent trainer and would have been bemused by the antics of this son of Acclamation. The mare was a very talented horse, winning her first three starts at two for Richard Fahey. She was placed at Group 2 class and achieved an official rating of 103. Spin Top cost 42,000eur at the yearling sales. I often make the quote with two-year-old that look horrendous on debut: ''The worse they look, the better they turn out to be.'' This bay colt was relatively fancied that day and at huge odds may show a different side to himself on this second start. At speculative odds could be worth a punt. 

The debutantes hail from respected trainers. 

Robert Cowell doesn't have that many early two-year-olds and Visionary is well owned by Khalifa Dasmal. This son of Dream Ahead is a home-bred but was sent through the sales ring and bought in for 20,000gns by the trainer. I find Cowell a difficult trainer to assess with his debutantes. They can win at the first time of asking but many look very disappointing. I would have to take a watching brief. 

Mick Channon has struggled over the last few years with a depleted string and the quality of his two-year-olds has dropped. However, Raffle King, a son of Kodiac, was a fairly expensive yearling purchase at 48,000gns. This youngster is owned by Taplin and Bunney Partnership. I wonder if that is Steve Taplin of Two-Year-Olds publication? Channon's debutantes can will when fancied in the betting and worthy of respect.

April foal, Swell Hill is trained by Richard Hannon. Their two-year-olds have been running with credit this season if not overshadowed by Mark Johnston's talents. This daughter of Foxwedge (AUS) is out of a poor mare and a cheap foal at 5,000gns.Owners, Rockliffe Stud, done well with Age Of Empire in 2015. The breeding of Swell Hill doesn't inspire confidence but if strong in the betting worth of respect. If very weak in the betting I would give this filly a miss. 

Charlie Beer Punt hails from Tom Dascombe's stable, whose juveniles have been running with credit and especially so on debut where they have looked fit, ready and professional. This son of Nathaniel is owned by The Roaring Twenties who have a seemingly endless supply of colts and fillies. A relatively cheap yearling purchase at 9,000gns. The betting is te best guide. If priced 7/1 and less sp has sound each way claims.   

Conclusion: Quite an open-looking race and the betting should tell the  story. Swell Hill, Raffle King, Visionary would have claims if fancied but I'd watch if weak. I would watch Visionary. The betting is key to Charlie Beer Punt. If priced 7/1 and less sp has each-way claims. Spin Top may well be worth a punt at speculative odds.     


2:35 Beverley Racing Tips (13th April) WELCOME BACK TO BEVERLEY NOVICE AUCTION STAKES (CLASS 5) (2yo)

A Novices Auction Stakes over 5f on good to soft going. Not the most competitive of race types - which usually favour form horses. A field of eight two-year-olds, three with form, five debutantes. 

This looks an ideal opportunity for Decadent Times, trained by Tom Dascombe, in the ownership of The Roaring Twenties. This bay colt tried to match strides with Sutter County on debut and paid the price in the closing stages when caught by the eventual second Stringybark Creek. He put up a bold display when battling with another fair juvenile in the shape of Stormy Clouds, who won with something in hand. To all purposes this is a drop  in class and I'd expect Liam Jones to gain an easy lead and hope to hang on in the closing stages. This is a very good chance for this colt to taste victory for the first time. 

The betting suggests Jollydee is the main danger. This bay filly, ran on in the closing stages of the Brocklesby Stakesto finish fourth. I would have slight concerns she was flattered, being huge odds that day, and many of the leaders tied up quite markedly, failing to finish the race with any verve. 

Richard Fahey does well at this course and one of few trainers who makes it his business to win on debut. Melesina is a daughter of Dark Angel who cost 22,000gns at the yearling sales. may need the favourite to disappoint to be winning on this racecourse bow but a filly to respect in this class of race. 

Tim Easterby doesn't have the best strike rate on debut although he can fire one up and they can show the way if fancied in the betting. Our Charlie Brown hails from the Ontoawinner syndicate and partners. This bay colt, a son of American Post is out of a once-race winning mare. She cost just £12,000 at the yearling sales, purchased by the trainer. Best watched unless backed to 13/2 & less sp. 

Karl Burke's Lavender Sky showed little on debut but was unfancied that day. Looks to have a lot to do but would be a different proposition if seriously backed. 

Brian Ellison is a canny trainer and a few of his two-year-olds have run well on debut at Beverley for noted owner Keith Brown. Orewa is a son of Helmet and cost 18,000eur at the yearling sales when purchased by his present owner. Interesting colt, mainly due to his appearance at this course. 

The rest are best watched. 

Conclusion: I'm not telling you much that Decadent Times has plenty of boxes ticked here. I can see a bold front-running show and that could well be enough to have most of these waving the white flag. Melesina is the most likely opponent simply because Fahey can ready a two-year-old debutante. However, this is a drop in grade for the favourite, which makes it difficult for the inexpensive juveniles to test. Most will struggle against a horse with experience and pace. Our Boy Charlie and Lavender Sky would be interesting if seriously backed, especially the latter. Orewa hails from a stable/owner combination who have done well at this course before. Favourite should win. 

1:50 Southwell Racing Tips (7th April) TOTEPOOL BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF NOVICE STAKES (CLASS 5) (2yo)

An EBF Novice Stakes race over 5f on standard going. Nine two-year-olds take part: five colts, one gelding and three fillies. A mix of stables. Two horses have raced once. 

Mark Johnston has been in tremendous form and his juveniles have been firing on all cylinders. Rusumaat proved why is pays to be careful because however good a stable each horse should be judged on its merit as an individual. That colt drifted markedly in the betting - which rang alarm bells - and was never competitive. 

Mailshot hasn't tempered enthusiasm and priced even money at the time of writing. This home bred chestnut colt is a son of Hard Spun out of an unraced mare. The betting suggests this juvenile is fit and ready to go. Keep an eye on the betting. The stable have a very good line with multiple winners and if weak in the market it would be a concern. I wouldn't be betting at even money on a debutante unless I was convinced about its ability so a watching brief.

In many respects this doesn't look the easiest of races to assess and the betting although helpful may not tell the total story with a few of the debutantes. 

David Barron is an interesting trainer who has an excellent strike rate with his two-year-olds at this course. Wick Powell is a January foal, a son of Sakhee's Secret and 32,000EUR yearling in the ownership of Miss N J Barron. Debutantes fancied in the betting have pretty respectable win and place claims. One to take note of and if drifting out in price could well have each way claims and merit value. 

Bill Turner has had little to rave about with his juveniles this season, especially the major disappointment of his Brocklesby hope. Who Told Jo Jo is best watched after showing limited ability on his racecourse bow and behind Red Mohican.

Red Mohican was sent off 50/1 in a hot race, where Sutter County won with ease and looks a very talented horse. Phil McEntee's filly, a daughter of Harbour Watch, cost 12,000GNS as a yearling. A wide draw didn't help her cause at Wolverhampton and traffic problems hindered her chances of ever being competitive. This little filly was beaten a long was and needs to improve to figure here although the form of that first race is better than it looks and if starting better will run better than her odds. 

Tom Dascombe's two-year-olds have started this season much brighter than last and most have looked very well in their coats and clearly going well on the gallops. The Roaring Twenties syndicate have come out all guns blazing and The Fossil is another to represent this game bunch. This bay colt is a son of Bushranger out of a debut-winning mare who was Listed placed and campaigned at Group class. The betting is the best guide. If priced 7/1 and less has fair win and place claims. If weak in the market best watched. The stable do have a line with their juveniles so they should have a good idea of what this April foal can do (not quite two).

Richard Fahey has been a touch quiet with his two-year-olds this season. Vona is a bay filly sired by Dark Angel out of an unraced mare. She cost 15,000EUR at teh yearling sales. Fahey's two-year-olds can win at a price and his debutantes are generally fit and primed. If particularly weak in the betting I would take a watching brief but another if fancied has to be respected.   

The first juvenile of the season to run for Ann Duffiled. Poppy Pivot is a daughter of Pivotal and cost £18,000 at the yearling sales where she was purchased by her present owner Craig Buckingham. The stable don't have the best strike rate on debut although they can go well when priced 13/2 & less. The betting suggests this April foal with be a bigger price than not and best watched unless substantially backed.

Kevin Ryan is a trainer who can ready a juvenile to win on debut although a large number of their runners (about 40%) are priced 13/2. Not surprising that the majority of their winner are priced 13/2 and less. The betting is a very good indicator although they have debut winners priced up to 14/1. Percy Toplis is an American bred gelding by Kheleyf out of a poor mare. A cheap yearling buy at just 7,000GNS she is owned by the trainer's wife ( I think...Mrs J Ryan). The betting suggest this horse is not fancied. Money would bring more confidence.

Karl Burke is a trainer I have made a lot of money backing his two-year-olds over the years. He is an excellent trainer who delivers when expected. Graton is a February colt by Camacho is a owned and bred by P & L Partners. The mare was similarly own and trained by Linda Stubbs and pretty poor. The stable's debutantes can go well and if priced at 10/1 and less have respectable win and place claims. If weak in the betting I'd take a watching brief.

Conclusion: A funny old race in ways. Mailshot is short priced so plenty of punters shoveling coal on the fire and if going off a short price has to be respected. Johnston has such a line with their juveniles that if they are ultra confident you have to listen. Once again, if very weak in the betting I would stay clear. Not a bet for me at prohibitive odds simply because debutantes can prove hard work if at all inexperienced. Wick Powell has each way claims and if drifting to 8/1 - 10/1 (not over) would be of interest. The betting is the best guide to The Fossil, Vona, Poppy Pivot, Percy Toplis and Graton. The former hold claims if priced 7/1 and less. The later, Graton, if 10/1 and less. If all are weak in the betting I would watch them. Red Mohican may go better than the price although I think she will struggle to get a place. A tricky race in ways but interesting.    


The Grand National through the Years

The Grand National has been something of a grand occasion for over 200 years. With its roots in the early 1800’s, the Grand National has transformed into the spectacle that it is today. In its humble beginnings, the horses had to jump over a stone wall, cross a stretch of ploughed land and finish over two hurdles. Today betting on the Grand National is a spectacular event, being watched this year by over 600 million spectators worldwide in 30 countries. 

The Beginning

The first Grand National race was won by Lottery in 1839. The current Grand National course was first opened during a period of economic difficulty for Aintree in the post-war years. These difficulties led to the sale of the Grand National grounds to a property developer. Thus striking concerns around the future of the Grand National.

In 2014, for the first time, the Grand National boasted a 7 figure prize which was brought back in 2015.

The Spectators 

As always the spectators thronged to the Grand National from the outset. Men donning their three piece suits and women tottering around in their heels. Pictured below are spectators at the 1922 and 1925 races respectively. 

From the overflowing Georgian styled gowns of the 1800’s to the fitted cocktail dresses of today, fashion has always been in focus at the Grand National. Ladies attending the event have been carefully putting together their outfits for over 200 years. 

Spectators at the 1931 races. 

A women horse racing spectator of the 1950’s.

Tipsters have also always been a common occurrence on the race grounds, as depicted by the below image of a tipster in a fortune teller inspired costume at the 1948 Grand National races. 

2:20 Lingfield Racing Tips (4th April) CANTERING CUISINE NOVICE MEDIAN AUCTION STAKES (CLASS 5) (2yo)

A Novice Median Auction Stakes over 5f  6y on standard going.  Quite a restricted race type for two-year-olds whose sire of yearlings in 2015 feature a sales median price of not more than £19,000. 

Ten juveniles takes part: four colts & six fillies. A handful have raced. Mark Johnston has been imperious this early two-year-old season - as he was last - and without a doubt the bookies are running scared. There is little doubt that his youngster could well be under priced and prove little value as a whole - but they can't stop winning! Rusumaat is a son of Arcano out of an unraced mare, in the silks of Hamdan Al Maktoum. He was purchased at Doncatser Premier Yearling Sales 2015 for £45,000. I must admit I couldn't bet on a debutante at short odds. I don't think with the success of the stable that their two-year-olds can represent value but it would be a brave man to take them on. I will be taking a watching brief. 

Richard Hannon was eclipsed by Johnston's exceptional start last season and they must be left with the feeling someone has stolen their thunder. Stormy Clouds had to play second fiddle to Chupalla (I wonder who trained that horse!). This daughter of Sir Prancealot was beaten six lengths but she trounced the third by over three lengths herself, and time may tell that was a fair race. It was over half a second faster than the earlier division which equates to about six lengths, which would have been enough for Stormy Clouds to have gone very close to winning. This Irish bred bay filly was fancied in the betting that day and perhaps a touch keen but a compact type, with plenty of early dash, and simply beaten by a bigger, stronger, talented filly. Experience counts for a lot and a low draw will mean this youngster blazes a trail. Once again, the odds are pretty restrictive but this February foal must have most of these toiling in her wake without much fuss.

Of the other form horses Madam Prancealot and Hot And Sassy ran in the same race, behind Mark Johnston's Boater, who ran a significantly slower time than Chupalla (with reference to Stormy Clouds). The former, trained by David Evans, is a small filly who was unfancied in the betting at Kempton and comprehensively outpaced by the speedy leaders but ran on at the finish. Hot And Sassy wasn't best away from a wide draw and a much bigger type than Evans' two-year-old. She was a cheap 4,000eur yearling purchase. Stan Moore's juveniles often improve for the debut and will progress with racing. Both were left standing on their racecourse bow and it would seem unlikely they have the ability to challenge the favorites.

Gay Kelleway is a trainer to respect and it is probably a sign of confidence that King Of Castilla made her debut in France, racing over 4.5f at Saint Cloud. This son of Sayif was joined by two other British raiders, with this bay colt the best of them in seventh. A relatively cheap yearling purchase at 9,000gns, he wasn't disgraced on debut. That was a maiden with win prize money just short of £10,000. It is worth noting that he was also earmarked for the Brocklesby Stakes so I would suspect connections fancy they can win a race or two and this limited race type is clearly considered easier than some.    

Interesting to see how Richard Hughes goes with his two-year-olds this formative season. Until I have some data to assess the merit of him as a trainer and the quality of horse he fields, it is difficult to hold strong views.Jumping Jack is a son of the prolific Sir Prancealot by the talented mare She's A Character. The mare won on debut, raced at Group class as a two-year-old and had a highest official rating of 97. This bay colt cost £35,000 at the yearling sales (53,000eur at foal). The betting suggests others are more fancied but if substantially backed could hold some hope. 

Decedent Times looks a biggish price (12/1) after being put in his place by the physical specimen and talent Sutter County [pictured]. This son of Art Connoisseur was relatively fancied in the betting at Wolverhampton, in a race with good prize money. Mark Johnston's winner may suggest this colt is not the fastest by any measure but he was very professional that day, showing plenty of pace, looking well in his coat, and tried to win the race against a superior horse which could well make Tom Dascombe's charge look worse than his finishing position. These early races are difficult to assess and form lines take time to build but the second Stringybark Creek (a big price on debut) won on Saturday. To be honest, he took advantage of his experience and others fluffing their lines but it gives so aspect of ability. A wide draw isn't ideal but I can see Kingscote making a bold bid and could well touch shorter odds in running. I would have fears he isn't as good as a couple in here but may sneak a place. 

Snoozy Sioux, Masquerade Bling and Angie Baby are best watched.  

Conclusion: The Mark Johnston bandwagon is hurtling along at a hellish speed and although I wouldn't be tempted to bet on a debutante at short odds his successes mean I respect the market. Rusumaat may well be another winner. Stormy Clouds looks a professional, compact filly who could well take some catching from stall one. If Johnston's debutante is slow from the stalls it will need to be very good. The form of her debut looks solid on times although you have to be careful assessing form at this time of year. The horse to beat in my opinion. Of the others, King Of Castilla could be something of a dark horse. I can't imagine Kelleway going to Saint Cloud without fair hope of winning and the Brocklesby entry is a sign of confidence. Wouldn't surprise me to see this horse hit the frame. Decedent Times probably deserves a little bit more respect than that debut suggests. He was flattened by a very good horse and if this turns into a crawl or he gains an easy lead he could have each way claims. I would be hopeful this two-year-old would touch shorter odds in running.   

4:30 Doncaster Racing Tips (2nd April) BETWAY BROCKLESBY CONDITIONS STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 4) (2yo)

The first two-year-old race of the turf season. It's a shame the Brocklesby Stakes isn't the first juvenile race of the 2016 Flat season, which it used to be in the good old days. 

Thirteen two-year-olds take part over this 5f on soft ground: nine colts, one gelding and three fillies. 

A number of very talented horses have won this race including Hearts Of Heart [pictured], for the late Pat Eddery, winning at Group 1, Mind Games, trained by Jack Berry, who was a class horse who won at Group 2 but never quite the ability to win at the highest grade. Two exceptional horses.

Here is a list of the winners since 1988.   

The 2016 Brocklesby Stakes field is made up of debutantes - a mix of trainers including Wesley Ward from the United States of America. It is worth noting that a number of winners will come from this race. 

The soft ground and draw bias could make this a tricky race to assess. 

Absolutely Awesome, Heavenly Cry, Mont Cinq, Paisley Abbey & Jollydee are best watched. 

Billy Boots is bred,owned & trained by Mick Channon. The betting is key for this son of Winker Watson. If pried 8/1 and less has fair each-way claims but the betting suggest this horse is best watched. 

Tallinski is a chestnut son of Mayson, who cost £50,000 at the yearling sales. Brian Ellison doesn't have many two-year-old debut winners although General Alexander ran a creditable third in this contest last year and a fair juvenile for the same connections Mrs J A Martin. Ellison's Brocklesby entrants have often gone very well on their second start. On balance a horse I would watch but quite a costly February foal who will progress with racing. A high draw may or may not be good news. With soft ground it is possible low numbers are favoured and earlier races are the best judge to any bias. 

Tom Dascombe is a talented trainer who can ready a two-year-old debutante. Both of his juveniles this season have shown ample pace and looked good in their coats, which gives confidence. They are certainly running better than last season which took an age to get going and with limited success bar one or two horses. Full Intention is a son of Showcasing out of a winning mare. This bay colt is a full sister to Quiet Reflection who won at Group 2 level as a juvenile last season and this colt cost £54,000 at the yearling sales, racing in the familiar silks of John Dance. Dascombe should have a fair line to this horse as his two runners this campaign were far from disgraced. The betting is the best guide. If priced 7/1 & less has fair each-way claims. At present this youngster is weak in the betting but if backed to the best betting guide it would bring build confidence. A middling draw may give options and that could be a valuable asset.

Richard Fahey is a superb trainer of two-year-olds and has done well in this race over the years. His first juvenile of the season was somewhat disappointing and Springwood, a son of Zebedee isn't fancied in the betting at the time of writing. This chestnut colt, racing in the colours of Fahey's syndicate, cost £26,000 at the yearling sales. The stable can win with horses of any price on debut but it would be a slight negative if totally unfancied in the betting. 

Another horse who seems forgotten in the betting is Keith Dalgleish's Simmy's Temple. This bay filly, a daughter of Royal Applause cost £12,000 at the yearling sales and races under the ownership of Middleham Park Racing. The mare was a multiple winner but at a very low grade. Best watched.

Bill Turner needs little introduction when it comes the the Brocklesby Stakes because it is a race he tries very hard to win. I have said year after year that he sends his best two-year-old to contest this race and Crucial Moment, a son of Pivotal, should be respected. This bay colt was purchased at the yearling sales for £40,000 by owner Eric Brook who has a fine record in this event, especially teaming up with Turner. A relatively high draw is difficult to assess at this stage although the horse is bred to enjoy some cut in the ground. Turner has done done remarkably well in this race and this two-year-old will be a measure of his string. He has had a couple of juveniles race this season showing limited appeal. A fair each-way bet at respectable odds.   

Finally we come to the big guns and talking horses. 

Mark Johnston has put Richard Hannon and all early-season two-year-old trainer in the shade with a trio of wins this term from his first three juveniles. All won impressively and a couple give the feel of Royal Ascot prospect even at this early stage of the year. The Last Lion is guaranteed to be priced at relatively short odds simply because Johnston has the Midas touch. This February foal is a son of Choisir out of a winning and Group 1 placed mare. He was purchased by the trainer at the yearling sales for 82,000eur. A horse to be respected although not owned by Sheikh Mohammed. A low draw (3) could be good news if their is a bias to the far rail.

It is great to see the Brocklesby in the news and the major reason for this is due to entry of Wesley Ward's filly Create A Dream, who has flown to the UK as part of a select team of juveniles, trained at Manton, making an early start in preparation for Royal Ascot. This daughter of Oasis Dream is out of a twice-winning French mare who went close to victory at Group 1 class four times, losing by a neck to Zanyatta. Connections have been bullish about this April foal, who isn't quite two. St Elias Stables Ltd own this juvenile who wears blinkers first time (not usual for American race horses). A high draw may be a plus or negative. The reputation, interest and past success of Ward with Royal Ascot winners means this horse will start a very short odds. I'm delighted to see this horse running in the Brocklesby and sure this filly has ability. 

Conclusion: The Brocklesby is a race I have always enjoyed and it is often a race which details many future winners. Soft ground and potential draw bias makes it a tricky race to asses. Create A Dream, The Last Lion & Crucial Moment make most appeal. Wesley Ward's filly could be a class act but I would always be a touch reserved on debutantes at short prices. The performance of Mark Johnston's juveniles this season (also last year) mean The Last Lion will be a shorter price than not. I would take a watching brief. Crucial Moment would be a tentative bet at each-way odds because Turner targets this race with his best two-year-old. The betting is the best judge for the rest. If Full Intention is substantially backed to 7/1 & less it would figure, too.     

NR - Create A Dream, Billy Boots, Full Intention