Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Ceiling Kitty ticks all the right boxes for Newmarket strike

Wayne Bailey

Wayne Bailey

IT'S good to see the weather pick up for this weekend's racing. Normally, we have to wait until October for the strong winds and rain to come, but, on Thursday, I popped out for a pint of milk and got blown into the pub.

With winter on the way, we need to take into account the changes in the weather when studying the form.

How well a horse will run when facing into a strong wind is a variable that's almost impossible to assess. One thing we can gauge, however, is how well a horse might run on soft or heavy ground, so, as the season begins, it's worth pondering the going and how it will affect our betting.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the ground is the most important variable to consider when backing in winter.

We all love to see our old favourite jump horses make their re-appearance each season, but an affinity to animals that have won for us before often leads to sentimental betting.

On a larger scale, it can lead to false favourites in the market. Put simply, if the ground is soft or heavy, make sure the horse you back has form on that going, regardless of how many good turns he's done you -- otherwise you could be throwing your money away.

This week, I was doing some research on the going and it turns out that fancied horses, placed on soft or heavy ground in the past, have a significantly better chance of winning when tackling that ground again.

That shouldn't be much of a revelation, but it's a little surprising how many horses that are unproven in poor conditions still go off as favourite.

I had a look at how well-seasoned jumpers (at least 10 runs) performed when going off as favourite on soft/heavy ground over the past decade and found that those that had never been placed on such ground before only had only a 31pc strike rate.

Favourites placed at least twice on the ground saw their strike rate jump to 35pc. Even better, those that had been placed four times or more on that particular ground had a strike rate of over 40pc and actually showed a small profit to back over the past few years.

The data is raw and other factors come into play -- but the figures should be kept in mind over the coming weeks as the weather deteriorates.

On the flat, we've some Group One action this afternoon including the Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket (2.25). At 8/1, Ceiling Kitty ticks all the right boxes. She certainly has talent with three wins from six starts -- although the big question is whether she will stay the extra furlong today having raced exclusively at five furlongs in the past.

Following a hat-trick of wins, she could only manage fourth place in the Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster last time and, while that looks disappointing on paper, it wasn't the worst that could have happened, considering she was racing under a penalty against some fairly tough colts.

Each-way outsider

THE price will be in the region of 40/1, but don't rule out Spa's Dancer in the Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket (3.40). Often a strong traveller, the gelding took a reasonably competitive handicap at Sandown back in June and has been placed in some decent races since. He's off a fair mark today and may just spring a surprise.

Today's selections

1.55 Newmarket: Steeler

2.25 Newmarket: Ceiling Kitty

3.00 Newmarket: Beauty Parlour

3.40 Newmarket: Spa's Dancer (e/w)

4.05 Chester: Livery

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