Wednesday 21 August 2019

Enable too short against improving Crystal Ocean

Betting Ring

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute. Photo: Racing Post
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute. Photo: Racing Post
Wayne Bailey

Wayne Bailey

We've a big week ahead in Ireland with the Galway Festival which I'll be covering on these pages, but I'll also have a keen eye on matters across the water with Glorious Goodwood running Tuesday to Saturday.

It's hard to give Goodwood the attention it deserves with so much going on at Ballybrit, but there's great racing throughout the week.

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If you speak to any jockey who has raced there, they'll tell you that it's a tricky course to ride, and you can often run into trouble on the bends which are sharp. So it's somewhat surprising that favourites have a very good record there, in the non-handicaps at least.

Funny enough, because I don't get to spend as much time studying Goodwood as I do the other festivals, I'm forced to keep things very simple with my betting there. But very often, that's the best approach.

As punters, we've a tendency to over-complicate things at times - but the form stands up well in the top Flat races and to make money at places like Goodwood, it's very often as simple as backing the best horse in the race, usually the market leader.

Take non-handicap favourites at Glorious Goodwood for example: since 2008, blindly backing those produced 71 winners from 179 bets (40 per cent), earning a profit of €172 to a €10 stake at SP, or €243 to Betfair SP (BSP). Had you limited that to Group One or Two races only, you would have had 40 winners from 72 bets (56 per cent) and made a profit of €336 to SP, or €365 to BSP.

It's a very simple, crude strategy so you have to use your common sense too and do at least a little bit of research alongside it - but the moral of the story is that you should have a very good reason if you are going to oppose the fancied horses at Goodwood, and that's particularly true in the big Group One and Two races.

Speaking of favourites, the jolly has a decent record in today's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (3.40) and we have to go back to 1997 for the last winner priced in double figures (Swain at 16/1).

As such, a lot of people will be banking on 2017 winner Enable, which was priced at 8/13 yesterday evening. But as much as I'm a fan, and I backed her at 4/6 in the Coral-Eclipse last time, there's a limit as to how low you can go at times, especially with the likes of Crystal Ocean, Anthony Van Dyck and Waldgeist taking her on.

I can't say anything bad about her, the stats speak for themselves: John Gosden's mare has won 11 of her 12 races, mostly Group Ones including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe twice, with a third on the radar in October. She's got a 3lb sex allowance today, so what's not to like? Well, just her odds.


At 3/1, Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean might be the value bet today. Eight wins from 15 races is not quite as impressive, but there was a lot to like about his first-ever Group One win in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot last time in difficult racing conditions, with Magical and Waldgeist second and third.

He may be five, but he's hitting his peak and looks better than last year where he finished a neck-second to Poet's Word, having traded at the lowest price possible in-running: 1/100.

Enable is also five, and we all know what she's capable of but that's partly the point - if Crystal Ocean has more to come, this will not be the penalty kick for the favourite that the market suggests.

One swallow does not make a summer, and one Group One does not make a horse a superstar, but Crystal Ocean has been getting progressively better in the last two years.

Although ratings can be subjective, the son of Sea The Stars is now on 127, which is 2lbs clear of Enable and 5lbs higher than he was when narrowly beaten last year, making that 3/1 very attractive in my book.

Irish Independent

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