Aussie warrior 'Redkirk' ready to bounce back
The phrase "nothing is certain, except death and taxes" is usually attributed to one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, and he did pen something similar in a 1789 letter regarding the new Constitution.
However, the phrase seems to have an earlier origin, and an English actor and dramatist by the name of Christopher Bullock wrote in his 1716 work of satire The Cobbler of Preston: "'Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but death and taxes."
There are very few certainties when it comes to betting on horses, but there was one strategy I used to use on the flat for earning money which, for a time, seemed almost as certain as death and taxes. I first mentioned the strategy in this column quite a few years ago, and it was to simply back top-rated horses in Group One races, provided its rating was above 120.
The cream, it seemed, almost always rose to the top and I got quite confident backing such selections with big enough stakes, as they usually brought home the bacon. In 2011, for example, there were 13 winners from 19 races and a profit of 17pts to SP.
The 2012 strike rate was slightly better with 13 winners from 18 races, and although it didn't perform as well from 2013 to 2016, it still made a profit or broke even each year. But I began to reduce stakes in 2017 as the strike rate dropped, and the year finished with eight winners from 23 bets, and a loss of 2pts.
When a betting strategy stops being profitable, it's usually one of two things. Firstly, if the strike rate remains the same over the years but the profits dwindle, it means the strategy itself might still be robust but the betting market has adjusted to the edge.
Most profitable betting angles will be closed off over time as the market adjusts - making it a constant game of research, and cat and mouse, with the bookmakers. But if the strike rate drops along with the profits, it means that the strategy itself may no longer be working.
At times, it can be hard to come up with an explanation as to why something no longer works, but it happens. That's the case here, with 2018 proving to be a woeful year for the strategy, with just one winner from eight bets so far, and that winner (Cracksman) was priced as low as 2/7.
It's probably stretching blame to say the handicappers are doing a poorer job rating horses lately - the assessors are usually consistent and conservative, especially when giving a horse a rating in the 120s. Perhaps it's just a bad run of things, and if you toss a coin often enough, a certain side will eventually come up a number of times in-a-row, yet it doesn't mean the coin is broken.
It's a small sample size so a random poor run could be the cause. Still, until I see a change in fortunes, I remain cautious. As such, I've been debating in my head whether to back Redkirk Warrior, which is the top-rated horse at 121 in the Group One July Cup at Newmarket (2.15).
The Aussie raider failed to fire in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last time, a race won by Merchant Navy, which he beat before in a handicap at Flemington. But overall, I think he simply had an off-day and he's said to be working extremely well in the run-up to today's big race.
Despite the 2018 stats mentioned earlier, I've decided to have a punt, the 10/1 on offer proving too tempting to resist. At the time of writing, Charlie Appleby's Blue Point is popular in the betting around 11/4, but that's a little short for me in a fairly open race in which a number have claims, including US Navy Flag, Eqtidaar and Sands Of Mali.
Now aged six, 2016 winner Limato seems to have gone off the boil this term, but he's one I've backed occasionally down through the years and it would be nice to see him go close.
Finally, at Ascot, Beat The Bank looks overpriced around 7/2 in the Summer Mile Stakes (1.20).
Trained by Simon Crisford, Mordin has become a little frustrating to follow, finishing second in his latest three races. He traded odds-on each time in-running, and was a little unlucky not to win on those occasions. But he's put in some great runs lately and a mark of 94, which is unchanged since his last race, seems fair.
At 14/1, he's worth a few quid each-way in the John Smith's Cup Handicap at York this afternoon (3.40), with four places up for grabs.
1.05 Newmarket: Certain Lad
1.20 Ascot: Beat The Bank
2.15 Newmarket: Redkirk Warrior
2.35 York: Dal Harraild
3.40 York: Mordin (e/w)
Do the double
SOCCER: It’s been an enjoyable World Cup with plenty of shocks and surprises along the way. Croatia deserved their win against England on Wednesday, but I get the feeling they have hit their peak having been brought to extra time on three occasions. Didier Deschamps and his France side may have more to come, and are worthy match favourites at 10/11.
RACING: Priced around 6/5, the Group Three John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes appears to be a straight-forward penalty kick for William Haggas’s Dal Harraild under jockey Andrea Atzeni at York (2.35). I’m willing to overlook his latest flop in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan last time as he looked out of sorts. He’s best judged on a previous run at Chelmsford, which he won in style by ten lengths.