Lady Aurelia can spearhead a 'jolly' good day
Published 24/09/2016 | 02:30
There are not too many types of race where the bookmaker fails to make a profit but if you sift through the data, you will find that Group Ones are quite punter-friendly.
Since 2008, the clear favourite has won 162 of the 378 top-level Flat races in the UK and Ireland (43pc) and you would have earned, on average, just over a penny for every euro blindly bet.
While the profit is minuscule, it compares favourably to races like Flat (turf) Listed contests, where you can expect to lose around ten cent for every euro bet on the jolly.
In other words, you need a good reason to oppose the favourite in the top races, as I've argued numerous times in this column.
I suppose I'd better come clean, and admit that these stats are a handy way for me to deflect from the fact that I'm going to be completely unoriginal today by talking up the favourites in the big races at Newmarket.
Racing hacks often get stick when they tip the jolly and no doubt someone on the Twitter machine will call me a lazy so-and-so, but value can be found at both ends of the market, including odds-on.
For some reason, most punters associate so-called 'value betting' with big-priced horses - but a value bet is simply a horse which you believe has a better chance of winning than the market suggests.
If a bookmaker offered you 11/10 on the flip of a coin, that's a value bet as it should be even-money. It doesn't mean that the bet will definitely win - but if you back enough coin tosses at 11/10, you will earn money over time.
On the other end of the scale, backing a horse at 33/1 when it should be 50/1 is not a value bet, even though the price you are getting is big. I suppose punters want to read about horses which will offer them a good return on their money and that's fair enough. It's the reason I always try to find a big-ish outsider for my each-way section of the page.
But take Lady Aurelia, which has been chalked up at 4/6 in today's Group One Fillies' Cheveley Park Stakes (2.55 Newmarket) as an example.
Those odds suggest she has a 60pc chance of winning but I think her chances are more in the region of 65-70pc, which means for me at least, 4/6 is a good price. Of course, she may well lose and I've been left red-faced with these hot-pots before, but I'm happy with the price I'm getting here.
Without getting too bogged down in data and prices, there are other positives too. Favourites have a cracking record in the race itself and it's worth noting all winners in the last decade came from the first three in the betting. Past races aside, Wesley Ward's filly looks an outstanding prospect.
She bolted up in an incredibly fast time to win the Queen Mary at Ascot and although her following win in the Prix Morny at Deauville wasn't quite as visually impressive, she still had buckets in hand despite taking some false steps, according to Frankie Dettori.
The Italian is back on board today and this is surely a straightforward penalty kick.
Aidan O'Brien (pictured) has saddled 11 horses in this race since 1997 without success so it will be interesting to see if Roly Poly goes off near her forecast price of 11/2.
In the following Middle Park Stakes (3.30), Blue Point deserves a price of 11/10 or thereabouts in the absence of Caravaggio. Another very good race for favourites, Charlie Appleby's colt put his Richmond Stakes loss behind him when powering clear to win the Gimcrack Stakes at York, and my own ratings have him 5lb clear of nearest rival Mehmas.
If I mention yet another favourite, I'll probably be fired on the spot so Dino Velvet gets the nod around 6/1 in the Sam Quek Celebratory Olympic Gold Handicap at Chester (5.25), ahead of Pleasure Dome, which is likely to go off around 4/1.
Racing out of stall one, Alan King's gelding is yet to run in Britain but has shown some useful form in France and won a minor event at Cagnes-sur-Mer by four lengths last time out in May.
Richard Fahey's Third Time Lucky has a serious chance in the Betfred Cambridgeshire (4.10 Newmarket), even though he's up around 5lb (jockey's claim considered) since winning this race last year.
However, bookmakers are taking no chances and have chalked him up at 7/1 in this 35-strong runner field so preference is for stablemate Gabrial's Kaka, which risks being overlooked around 40/1.
The six-year-old finished mid-division in this race in 2015 but has put in some good efforts this season, winning a couple of competitive handicaps and finishing second in three more.
While he's been disappointing in his latest two starts, the assessor has eased his mark to 94 and a break of a month for this busy sort will have done some good. A drop of rain would help.
2.20 Newmarket: Best Of Days
2.55 Newmarket: Lady Aurelia
3.05 Chester: Tomily
3.30 Newmarket: Blue Point
4.10 Newmarket: Gabrial's Kaka (e/w)
4.50 Chester: Musharrif
5.25 Chester: Dino Velvet