Wayne Bailey: 'Oh This Is Us the value bet at Wolverhampton'
All-weather racing is sometimes seen as a third-class product behind the flat turf and jump codes, and that feeling is especially strong as we approach the greatest racing week of all; Cheltenham.
Often, you'll hear racing fans complain that it's the same, untalented horses racing against each other week after week on the all-weather.
While there's some truth to that, it's a little unfair to some of the specialist trainers and the few decent horses who do well at it. But you do tend to see quite a few older horses who never really made it on the turf.
Watching the same pool of horses race over and over can become tiring but as with everything, it can be made a lot more enjoyable if you can make a few quid out of it.
A couple of years ago, I was sifting through some stats trying to find angles for the all-weather that could be used as a laying strategy, and I noticed that the oldest horse in the race has a poor record overall.
Since 2008, the oldest horse in all-weather contests has proved very costly to back with around 2,300 winners from nearly 28,000 bets - although that includes races where there's more than one qualifier (if there are two or more horses who are older than the rest of the field).
While some of the prices on the exchanges are high, meaning liabilities can be very large, it's worth considering opposing the oldest horses in all-weather races - and a profit of over €1,400 would have been achieved laying each of those 28,000 horses to a €1 stake (results to Betfair SP). Not that such a feat would have been easy!
That brings me to this afternoon's Listed Sunracing.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton (3.15) where I had been keen on David Barron's Above The Rest around 10/1, until I remembered the research I'd done a few years back.
Aged eight, he's the oldest of the nine-runner field, and I'll be kicking myself if he wins having circled his name as a potential back bet after a glance at the racecard.
On age figures, he's opposable, although I do concede that his record on the all-weather is pretty good with one 12/1 win in four races since 2014.
Stats alone should not dictate a bet, however, and there are other reasons to oppose with his latest two runs at Meydan below form.
Instead, I'm going to be completely unoriginal here and side with the likely favourite Oh This Is Us, which was trading at 9/4 in the early markets yesterday.
Trained by Richard Hannon, the six-year-old was placed in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp in October, and has been better than ever in his two races this year, with his Listed victory over one of today's rivals, Apex King, a career best.
I was expecting to see him chalked up around 6/4 for this, and with his Lingfield partner Tom Marquand back on board, he can justify his rating of 113 which is 5lbs clear of nearest rivals Above The Rest and Arcanada.
At Sandown, we've the Imperial Cup (2.25) to get stuck into and I reckon Totterdown is a proper value bet each-way, priced in the region of 33/1.
Daniel Hiskett claims 5lbs here and Hiskett was on board when the eight-year-old was fourth of 11 runners in a reasonably good handicap hurdle at Chepstow Cheptsow a couple of weeks ago off 137.
It wasn't a bad run, and the handicapper has been quite fair by dropping him 2lbs which isn't a million miles off his last winning mark of 129 in November.
Conditions could be soft which won't be a problem, and early favourite Monsieur Lecoq trades a little short for me around 9/2 in what looks to be a competitive affair.
Trained by Jane Williams, he's a course and distance winner having won a good handicap here last time out. But following two wins on the trot, his rating has gone up from 117 to 132 which may do its job of holding him back this afternoon.
On the same card, I'm quite keen on Whitehotchillifili, which I'm hoping to back around 9/2 in the Listed EBF Stallions/TBA Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race (3.0). It looks like Paul Nicholls' Silver Forever will go off as favourite around 2/1, and the mare is respected having won two out of three bumpers to date.
Her most recent race looked pretty good, although you could probably say that the majority of today's runners look like improvers - so it's my view that the 2/1 on offer early doors is not really a great deal.
The selection, trained by Harry Fry, has raced just twice - winning on her debut, and she wasn't disgraced when following up with a second-place spot to Yeavering Belle in a fast-paced bumper at Warwick recently.
Finally, getting back to Wolverhampton, Harbour Breeze gets the nod around 6/4 in the Follow Sun Racing on Twitter Novice Stakes (2.40). We haven't seen him in ages which is a worry, but he's shown a lot of promise in his two outings to date.