Canford Cliffs the clear value option
AS someone who hated maths in school, it's a little strange to find myself involved with the horseracing scene, and in particular, the betting world -- where odds, prices, fractions and percentages rule the day. My old schoolteacher tried his best with me but I didn't really care what X was when you multiply by Z squared.
It's funny though because when you get older, maths can become much more interesting; especially when there's money involved -- and I now spend a good portion of my day number crunching and odds-compiling at home. This brings me nicely to the 202nd running of the 2000 Guineas where, according to the market, St Nicholas Abbey has a 42pc chance of winning if he goes off around 11/8 as expected. I certainly don't want to give you a maths lecture in your Saturday paper but if you struggle with the concept of value when picking your horses, converting the odds to percentages can be extremely useful.
It's also quite easy to do as you just add one to the odds and then divide into 100. So a horse priced 4/1 should have a 20pc chance of winning (four plus one equals five, and 100 divided by five is 20). Close your eyes and think about St Nicholas Abbey crossing the finish line in front today for example. Now ask yourself how likely is that to happen? If you think there's a 50pc chance of that happening, then you've found a value bet this afternoon. But for me, I have the chances of that happening down at 30pc or thereabouts, so the logical thing to do is take him on and don my layers cap at these prices.
We all hope to find another horse like Sea The Stars this season but there are a number of negatives that 'Abbey backers are overlooking far too quickly. Firstly, there's the weather. I know there was some rain forecast overnight but the track dries out very quickly and temperatures are expected to be warm around the Suffolk area today, making good to firm in places a possibility.
The fact is we simply don't know how he'll handle faster ground as he's never raced on anything firmer than good. He may be one of those versatile horses that can handle anything but such horses are few and far between. Even if the ground has a little bit of softness in it, you have to ask yourself if his breeding makes him an ideal candidate for the mile distance now that he's three.
Yes, he's proven at the trip already as a two-year-old but as the Montjeu offspring mature, they often find the middle distances more suitable and St Nicholas Abbey could well be a proper Derby horse instead. Supporters will point out that Sea The Stars did the Guineas/Derby double no problem last year but he really was a freak of nature and it's, quite simply, too early to compare.
Don't forget too that Sea The Stars went off at 8/1 for the Guineas amid all the hype around Delegator. In other words, there was a superstar in the field other than the favourite last year and we just didn't know it -- that could well be the case in 2010. I'll agree that his turn of foot in the Racing Post Trophy was breathtaking but if you watch that race again, you will see that the pace wasn't particularly fast so you'd have to wonder if it would have looked so awesome if the other horses were going a little quicker. His turn of foot is his best asset but I'm not so sure we'll get a chance to see it in the Guineas and at cramped odds, he can be opposed today (3.05). If I'm to offer an alternative, I'd suggest that Canford Cliffs is a very solid each-way option around 8/1.
I'm reliably informed that his work at home has been phenomenal and I strongly doubt he'll be out of the top three. Concerns have been raised that he won't get the trip after his defeat to stablemate Dick Turpin in the seven-furlong Greenham Stakes, but that was the fastest renewal on record and he got a little tired in the closing stages. Richard Hughes is adamant that he'll come on for the experience and I'd definitely agree with that assertion. He tends to hang left sometimes but the draw in stall four means Hughes can bury him in beside the rail where he won't be able to wander.
3.05 Newmarket -- Canford Cliffs (each-way)
3.05 Newmarket -- St Nicholas Abbey (Lay, 3pts liability)
4.50 Newmarket -- Wigmore Hall
3.20 Newmarket -- Special Duty (tomorrow)