Triple Charm can cast winning spell
ALTHOUGH we still have Aintree and Punchestown ahead of us, it's now time for punters to get into flat mode, with the Irish season already under way and the British season kicking off with the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster today.
You can't beat the excitement of the National Hunt, but from a punting perspective, I prefer the Flat as I think the formbook stands up better under that code.
I'm often asked for my opinion on the upcoming season at this time of the year and one of the strongest pieces of advice I can offer is to ignore the rumour mill and focus on proven performers instead.
Leonardo da Vinci once said that "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" and, when it comes to the big flat races this season, I'll adopt my usual strategy of simply backing the best horses.
There are so many hyped-up young horses every season which never live up to expectations and, when it comes to the top races, sticking with class horses with proven form still pays dividends.
I'd define a classy sort as one rated above 120 and such animals have performed particularly well in the Group One races in recent years. Indeed, had you backed each horse rated above 120 in UK/Irish Group One races since 2003, you'd have had 68 winners from 217 bets (31pc) and shown a profit of €378 to a €10 stake.
Often, you get more than one qualifier in each race, so it's up to the backer if he wants to 'dutch' them (ie, back both) or make a judgment call on which is better value.
The strategy performed particularly well in 2011, with 16 winners from 40 bets (40pc) and a profit of €200. While most of the selections were priced at the shorter end of the market, there were a number that went off at working men's odds, including Cirrus Des Aigles (12/1) in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, Rewilding (17/2) in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot, and Dream Ahead (7/1) in the July Cup at Newmarket .
While I'm not suggesting that readers should follow this as a system blindly, it does highlight that good form usually stands up in flat racing.
We've no Group races in Britain today, but there's still a chance to make a few quid by backing Triple Charm at Kempton (4.40).
She took a reasonably strong handicap at Lingfield last time, which has seen her raised by 7lbs, but she's still slotted in at the bottom of the weights and should have more to come off this mark.
While the selection's wide draw in stall 12 is not ideal, she can be backed with confidence at 4/1.
With a formline reading 90000-7, it's easy to see why Light From Mars is unpopular in the betting at 20/1 for the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster (3.15). But he looked reasonably fit at Wolverhampton last time and is now 2lbs below the mark on which he won the Spring Cup at Newbury last year.
Conditions will suit and he's a good chance to earn some place money at the least.
• Last week's each-way selection, Reve De Nuit, was placed at 7/1.
2.05 Doncaster: Reve De Nuit
2.20 Kempton: Arctic Cosmos
3.15 Doncaster: Light From Mars (e/w)
4.40 Kempton: Triple Charm