H.C.E: be careful when making those early-season selections

From reading the views of  many professional gamblers it is revealing how often they contradict each other. While one religiously backs each way selections another says they wouldn't give them time of day. As I have always thought - there is no such thing as right or wrong it's just a matter of opinion regarding our own philosophy. In a sense we are all scientists testing our hypotheses in search of significant factors.

This post is about the potential difficulty of assessing early-season  two-year-old form.

HCE uses both form and statistics to make selections. In fact, we use early race declarations, jockey bookings, group entries, betting patterns and a veritable jigsaw puzzle of other factors which can be viewed on many levels.

It is important to appreciate that in the first few weeks of the season trainers are often none the wiser to where their juveniles feature in the pecking order of their string. It may take a number of runners to gain a basic understanding of what they have. However, Bill Turner is renowned for sending his best two-year-old  to the Brocklesby and why a disappointing effort may not bode well for his other early-season youngsters. It is also invaluable to realise - as I am sure you do - that most two-year-olds are priced by the status of their trainers. It is hardly surprising to see a Richard Fahey juvenile start favourite on debut compared with a horse trained by Dean Ivory. Although there are no guarantees, these are strong indicators that should be considered.

It is imperative that two-year-olds have attained a winning level of ability before being backed. For HCE, this is a basic starting point for all form horses. In many ways this can be quite an ambiguous point. In some cases this is quite an easy process, while others are perilously tricky. If you are not confident a two-year-old has attained a winning standard, then the only alternative is to wait and see how the form holds up over time. The mistake many people make is presuming the form of an individual horse is good enough when it hasn't been fully tested. Always be brutally honest when assessing form and bet wisely. Deal with the facts rather than concluding unrealistic improvement is forthcoming or simply hoping for the best. It is very important to know that a two-year-old has achieved a basic winning standard of ability rather than take faith that it may have been placed and conclude it is simply natural progression to go one or two better and win on its next start. Often these juveniles are favourites and get beaten. Why? Because they are not proven. I have a theory that many juveniles placed in the first few weeks of the season should be viewed as potential losers rather than winners waiting to happen. Sure these candidates have fitness and valuable experience on their sides, which is normally a huge advantage. However, they have often competed in weak races - especially when contesting low-grade auction races or run at northern courses. At times, a second or third placing simply identifies a juvenile who is likely to continue to struggle to win.

Early season can be a particularly difficult time for these type of horses and gamblers, too. Generally bigger more fashionable stables are best. Be particularly careful of smaller trainers with placed juveniles. If you can latch on to a decent form line in the first few weeks of the season you can make good money. However, it pays to be very careful when assessing form. Generally, the Brocklesby yields a number of winners. This is hardly surprising when the prize money is relatively high and being a Stakes race many individuals are to all purposes dropped in class when racing at maiden or auction level.It is also fair to say that certain trainers simply do not win with their debutantes because they are much better on their second start.

For HCE the early season is a very important time but also a time to be cautious. It can take a few weeks for basic form lines to appear and why statistical bets are more likely to bring about selections in April. I am very confident in the use of our statistical information which comes from our unique analysis. However, there is no substitute for considering each horse as an individual. I have statistics which tell me a horse may have an 80% chance of being placed. But that is no guarantee. Looking at the individual can make the difference between winning and losing.

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