Wednesday 13 December 2017

Just Aiken for a good result

Wayne Bailey

I'VE spent a number of years trading the financial markets and one of the most common mistakes I see from both new and experienced traders alike is the practice of 'backfitting' a set of figures to come up with a system.

For example, they may notice that the FTSE rose sharply after lunch in seven of the last 10 Wednesdays.

They then conclude that the market has a 70pc chance of rising after lunch this coming Wednesday and place their trades accordingly. Of course, this approach is completely flawed and doesn't account for how randomness is distributed.

If you tossed a coin for long enough, you would get seven heads in a row at some stage. But on the next toss, heads still has a 50-50 chance of coming up.

Strangely, some people won't accept this logic and that's why it is known as 'the gambler's fallacy.' If ever you go to a casino, you can watch it happen time and time again as people bet on black or red in roulette, thinking the past results will be some sort of guide to the future.

Tempting

We are guilty of it in racing, too, and sometimes it's tempting to backfit your data to suit your selection. For example, I quite fancy the John Gosden-trained Aiken for the John Doyle Buckhounds Stakes at Ascot today (2.20) and when I checked through the records, I found that Gosden has proved slightly profitable to follow at Ascot since the turn of the century with 44 winners from 317 runners.

That's interesting in itself and if we delve a little further we notice that from those 317 runners, his four-year-olds proved very profitable to follow (€500 profit to a €10 stake), so you can see why the four-year-old Aiken may make appeal.

But betting on this basis is purely 'backfitting' and it doesn't take into account a horse's individuality. It's funny, because we see this sort of data churned out all the time and people often take it at face value.

Certainly, there are times when a trainer is worth following at a certain track (Dermot Weld at Galway is a good example), but the point I'm trying to make is that one must be wary of the stats and trends that are bandied about so freely in the racing world and it's best to judge each horse on its merits.

Thankfully, in this case, Aiken does happen to have ability and his price of 5/4 in the early markets makes plenty of appeal irrespective of his trainer's record at the course. He'd a good season last term, but was most impressive on his return at Epsom in April, where he took a tricky handicap in his stride.

It wasn't just his racing that impressed; he was in tip-top shape in the parade ring too and you could see how much his physique had improved over the winter. I've no doubt that he'll win more prize money this season and a Listed race is well within his grasp, especially on his preferred softer ground.

As regards rivals, Dawn Twister is an interesting contender and is widely available at 7/4. He won a Listed race in Germany back in 2010 and made a winning start for his new yard (Lucy Wadham) at Ripon last month. He'll handle the soft and should give the selection a bit to worry about.

EACH-WAY OUTSIDER

SHE may be running off an all-time high mark of 96, but I still believe Bonnie Brae has plenty of room for improvement and is taken at 12/1 for today's Betfred Victoria Cup Handicap at Ascot (3.25).

She'd a fine season in 2010 and brought the curtain down with a comfortable win in a competitive handicap at Doncaster.

Not all of these will handle a bit of cut in the ground, but this five-year-old loves it, and with parts of Ascot expected to be heavy, she'll find conditions at the Berkshire venue right up her street.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.10 Lingfield: Best Terms

2.20 Ascot: Aiken

3.10 Lingfield: Rougemont

3.25 Ascot: Bonnie Brae (e/w)

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