Addeybb looks banker material for Haggas on drop in class
The Shergar Cup takes place at Ascot today, an event where jockeys compete in teams for a silver trophy of Shergar - and while it's a fairly novel idea in a sport that is usually about individuals, regular readers will know that I'm not crazy about it as a betting medium.
It's a card full of handicaps which are always tricky and I've picked just one horse I want to back at Ascot today, which is today's each-way selection. So attention turns to Haydock and Newmarket which host Group Three races, the best fare on offer elsewhere today.
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I've noticed a change in trend in the last decade or so from betting in Group Three races: the market is getting more efficient and the favourite is performing significantly better lately. From around 2008 to 2013, the strike-rate of favourites never went above 37 per cent and was actually often in the low 30s, but it's crept up steadily, and now rarely goes below 40 per cent each season.
This year, favourites have won 29 of the 64 Group Three races to date (45 per cent), and blindly backing each would have produced a small profit of about seven points. I'm not one for advising people to back horses blindly, but when we are getting to the stage where close to half of all Group Three favourites are winning, compared to a third some years back, you certainly need a good reason to oppose them.
It's easier said than done, but in Group Three races, it's best to try to find horses which are improving, and may later be aimed at Group Two races, or even Group Ones. Therefore, recent form is quite important. Keep an eye on future entries too, as it gives clues to what level the trainer thinks the horse is at.
Another simple way to help narrow down the field in Group Threes is to give careful consideration to horses at the top of the market which won their latest race.
Again, I'm not saying readers should blindly back horses without further research, but good recent form is always a plus - and backing the favourites in Group Three races which won last time out produced 243 winners from 571 bets (43 per cent) in the last decade or so, and a profit of 23 points. Not all years were profitable but the majority were, and 2019 is keeping in with the trend I mentioned, producing 17 winners from 32 bets (53 per cent) and a profit of around eight points.
That brings me nicely to Addeybb, which has been chalked up at 6/5 for this afternoon's Group Three Rose Of Lancaster Stakes (3.05 Haydock). A Group Two winner in 2018, the five-year-old also took a Listed race at Royal Ascot this year and wasn't disgraced when second to Elarqam in the Group Two York Stakes last time.
While he doesn't match the 'winner last time out' profile, it's interesting to see that William Haggas has the Pivotal gelding entered in some Group Ones later this season (he struggled at the top last term), and overnight rain is welcome for Richard Kingscote's mount.
Closely matched on form is Wissahickon, which is just 1lb clear on official ratings - but that horse must carry a 3lb penalty for a Group Three win this season.
Wissahickon also has to bounce back from his second place to Matterhorn in the Easter Classic at Lingfield last time, having gone off as short as 1/3. Despite the fact that Frankie Dettori is coming here for just this ride, I'm not quite sure his mount can be fully trusted, which is why I believe Addeybb will be very hard to beat.
We've another Group Three at Newmarket, and odds of 5/2 or thereabouts for Ultra Violet make appeal in the Sweet Solera Stakes (3.45 Newmarket). We've got less to go on here with most entries having raced only once or twice, but the selection's winning debut over six furlongs at this venuewas a real eye-catching run at 10/1. She had eight lengths to spare, and steps up to seven furlongs today.
Trained by Ed Vaughan, the Gleneagles filly also has some entries for Group One races later on, and while you can never be sure of a horse's form after just one run, she does look very promising indeed.
Finally, a chance is taken at around 10/1 on Red Starlight in the Dick Hern Stakes (2.30 Haydock). Richard Hannon's charge is a talented sort whose latest fifth of seven runners is overlooked as she was badly hampered.
Do the double
Gaelic football: We are down to the final four in the championship, to be reduced by two come tomorrow evening. Dublin remain firm favourites to lift Sam at 2/5, with Kerry next in the betting at 11/2. Both Tyrone and Mayo are trading around 8/1. I suspect Kerry will make it to the final, most likely to face the Dubs, and at 5/6, the Kingdom can put the Red Hand County to the sword tomorrow. Those odds are decent considering Kerry, like Dublin, remain unbeaten.
Racing: I'll be surprised if Burning Topic goes off as high as her forecast price of 5/4 in the Celebrate The Life Of Ann Allport Median Auction Maiden (1.45 Redcar) but if she does, it will be a great deal. Trained by David Lanigan, the filly hit 1/4 in running before finishing second to Five Diamonds in a maiden at Yarmouth last time. That was an improvement on her debut and of those that have raced before, she's by far the best.
As mentioned in the main column, I find the Shergar Cup quite difficult to punt on, but one horse that stands out as a decent each-way bet is Lancelot Du Lac, which was trading around 11/1 yesterday evening for the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (1.05 Ascot).
Hayley Turner gets the ride on the Dean Ivory-trained gelding which races off 99, a rating that seems quite fair. He was fourth of eight when rated 107 on the all-weather last time at Wolverhampton, but the result looks worse on paper than it was in reality as he was going well before running out of space in the final stages.
Others for the shortlist include Danzeno and Corinthia Knight.
1.05 Ascot: Lancelot Du Lac (e/w)
1.45 Redcar: Burning Topic
2.30 Haydock: Red Starlight
3.05 Haydock: Addeybb
3.45 Newmarket: Ultra Violet