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Hello.

I used to post on stabletalk but that forum has gone.

If anyone is interested in my drivel, here's my latest piece which has been posted elsewhere:

Evening all :)

Not much to add tonight. My fancy for tomorrow's Irish 2000 Guineas is ARMORY for whom I think the quick ground will be a big help.

The supporting Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes over 2050m for the older horses has nine runners. Top rated is SEARCH FOR A SONG who won the Galtres and looked very good in the Irish St Leger dishing out a beating to KEW GARDENS. I rate her as an Arc candidate and this trip is probably short of her optimum and I'm also sure she will come on for the run.

FLEETING mixed it with the very best last year. She was third in the English Oaks and runner up in the Irish Oaks. She as beaten four times by STAR CATCHER but that's no disgrace as the latter is very good. This trip may be more to her liking and she has a big chance.

LATROBE won the Irish Derby once but will be better known to the reader as the runner up in the 2018 Mackinnon. He was last seen finishing well down the field in the Melbourne Cup and I'm not convinced about him first time up. 

On Saturday there's not much quality in Britain which is not surprising this close to Royal Ascot. In Ireland it's 1000 Guineas day and 15 have been declared. It doesn't look a strong race which may be due to the proximity of both the English version and the Coronation Stakes at Ascot. ALBIGNA is favourite and clear top rated. She was two and a half lengths behind LOVE in last year's Moyglare which would have got her the runner up spot at Newmarket last Sunday. From there ALBIGNA won the Marcel Boussac before running a close fourth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. That all looks strong form and her opponents are all coming off maiden or Listed race form and will need to have improved a lot over the winter.

The supporting Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes is named after the farm in Newmarket owned by breeder Kirsten Rausing. Derby winner Sir Percy is one of the four standing stallions. Clear top rated is another Irish raider known to the Australians and New Zealanders and that's MAGIC WAND who has travelled the world in her short career.

As a 3-y-o in 2018, she won the Ribblesdale at Ascot before disappointing in both the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks. She then returned to form with second placings in both the Vermeille and the Opera before a fine fourth in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf. After a short break, she returned to America in January 2019 and ran second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational but then disappointed in the Sheema Classic at Meydan. Back to America she went for a third place in the Man O'War before returning to Europe to chase home ADDEYBB in the Wolferton at Ascot and IRIDESSA in the Pretty Polly (both the winners went on to much better things - the former in Australia while IRIDESSA won at the  Breeders Cup).

MAGIC WAND flopped when wearing first time cheek-pieces in the King George at Ascot but returned to form with a second in the Arlington Million (getting closer to BRICKS 'N' MORTAR than she had at Gulfstream in January) and then second again in the Irish Champion. From there it was off to Australia where she was fourth in the Cox Plate and tenth in the Melbourne Cup before beating MELODY BELLE in the Mackinnon. From there to Hong Kong where she ran second in the Hong Kong Cup before another second in the 2020 version of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Her last run was on Dirt in the Saudi Cup where she was well behind MAXIMUM SECURITY.

She has amassed £3.7 million in win and mostly place money. She's a remarkable mare and should pick this lot up and carry them if anywhere near fit.

Sunday's best races are in France with the re-arranged Ganay and Saint-Alary at Chantilly.

The Ganay is run over 2050m for the older horses and Waldgeist won it last year on his way to the Arc. The first four from the Harcourt on the first day of French racing resuming after lockdown re-oppose. SOTTSASS, last year's Jockey Club winner and Arc third was disappointing in fourth but is sure to have come on for the race. WAY TO PARIS was second but followed up with an impressive win in the Grand Prix de Chantilly over 2450m two weeks ago. He's a middle distance type and I just think in this company he'll be tapped for speed. 

SHAMAN won the Harcourt and as a 3-y-o was runner up in both the Poulains and the Marois. He could very well confirm the places in what looks a fascinating race.

The Saint-Alary is over 2000m for the 3-y-o fillies. 7 have been entered - Andre Fabre has two, the useful juvenile SAVARIN but I quite like the stable companion SOLSTICIA who did it nicely in a maiden the other day. It's a big jump up of course but it's a weak field.

Next week is Ascot which will be a surreal experience to say the least.

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Hello. I used to post on stabletalk but that forum has gone. If anyone is interested in my drivel, here's my latest piece which has been posted elsewhere: Evening all  Not much to

I don't just want to talk races on here but offer my thoughts on some wider racing issues up here. We are approaching the end of the second week of the resumption of racing after the Covid-19 loc

I'm not as sure there are too many AWTs there. Using less of them, but more frequently might be a negative. Horse populations and locations. A couple near London but otherwise I think there would be i

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38 minutes ago, Stodge said:

Hello.

I used to post on stabletalk but that forum has gone.

If anyone is interested in my drivel, here's my latest piece which has been posted elsewhere:

Evening all :)

Not much to add tonight. My fancy for tomorrow's Irish 2000 Guineas is ARMORY for whom I think the quick ground will be a big help.

The supporting Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes over 2050m for the older horses has nine runners. Top rated is SEARCH FOR A SONG who won the Galtres and looked very good in the Irish St Leger dishing out a beating to KEW GARDENS. I rate her as an Arc candidate and this trip is probably short of her optimum and I'm also sure she will come on for the run.

FLEETING mixed it with the very best last year. She was third in the English Oaks and runner up in the Irish Oaks. She as beaten four times by STAR CATCHER but that's no disgrace as the latter is very good. This trip may be more to her liking and she has a big chance.

LATROBE won the Irish Derby once but will be better known to the reader as the runner up in the 2018 Mackinnon. He was last seen finishing well down the field in the Melbourne Cup and I'm not convinced about him first time up. 

On Saturday there's not much quality in Britain which is not surprising this close to Royal Ascot. In Ireland it's 1000 Guineas day and 15 have been declared. It doesn't look a strong race which may be due to the proximity of both the English version and the Coronation Stakes at Ascot. ALBIGNA is favourite and clear top rated. She was two and a half lengths behind LOVE in last year's Moyglare which would have got her the runner up spot at Newmarket last Sunday. From there ALBIGNA won the Marcel Boussac before running a close fourth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. That all looks strong form and her opponents are all coming off maiden or Listed race form and will need to have improved a lot over the winter.

The supporting Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes is named after the farm in Newmarket owned by breeder Kirsten Rausing. Derby winner Sir Percy is one of the four standing stallions. Clear top rated is another Irish raider known to the Australians and New Zealanders and that's MAGIC WAND who has travelled the world in her short career.

As a 3-y-o in 2018, she won the Ribblesdale at Ascot before disappointing in both the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks. She then returned to form with second placings in both the Vermeille and the Opera before a fine fourth in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf. After a short break, she returned to America in January 2019 and ran second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational but then disappointed in the Sheema Classic at Meydan. Back to America she went for a third place in the Man O'War before returning to Europe to chase home ADDEYBB in the Wolferton at Ascot and IRIDESSA in the Pretty Polly (both the winners went on to much better things - the former in Australia while IRIDESSA won at the  Breeders Cup).

MAGIC WAND flopped when wearing first time cheek-pieces in the King George at Ascot but returned to form with a second in the Arlington Million (getting closer to BRICKS 'N' MORTAR than she had at Gulfstream in January) and then second again in the Irish Champion. From there it was off to Australia where she was fourth in the Cox Plate and tenth in the Melbourne Cup before beating MELODY BELLE in the Mackinnon. From there to Hong Kong where she ran second in the Hong Kong Cup before another second in the 2020 version of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Her last run was on Dirt in the Saudi Cup where she was well behind MAXIMUM SECURITY.

She has amassed £3.7 million in win and mostly place money. She's a remarkable mare and should pick this lot up and carry them if anywhere near fit.

Sunday's best races are in France with the re-arranged Ganay and Saint-Alary at Chantilly.

The Ganay is run over 2050m for the older horses and Waldgeist won it last year on his way to the Arc. The first four from the Harcourt on the first day of French racing resuming after lockdown re-oppose. SOTTSASS, last year's Jockey Club winner and Arc third was disappointing in fourth but is sure to have come on for the race. WAY TO PARIS was second but followed up with an impressive win in the Grand Prix de Chantilly over 2450m two weeks ago. He's a middle distance type and I just think in this company he'll be tapped for speed. 

SHAMAN won the Harcourt and as a 3-y-o was runner up in both the Poulains and the Marois. He could very well confirm the places in what looks a fascinating race.

The Saint-Alary is over 2000m for the 3-y-o fillies. 7 have been entered - Andre Fabre has two, the useful juvenile SAVARIN but I quite like the stable companion SOLSTICIA who did it nicely in a maiden the other day. It's a big jump up of course but it's a weak field.

Next week is Ascot which will be a surreal experience to say the least.

Nice to have you aboard Stodge. If you want to provide these updates on a regular basis I'm happy to set up a separate sub forum. Over to you. Just a thought.

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Not too many active royals left Mardi

Queen, did she not say, she was taking a step back from active involvement

Phillip, you could not expect him to be active anymore at his age

Andrew, gone

Harry and Meghan, gone

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21 minutes ago, Hesi said:

Not too many active royals left Mardi

Queen, did she not say, she was taking a step back from active involvement

Phillip, you could not expect him to be active anymore at his age

Andrew, gone

Harry and Meghan, gone

There's still enough - the Queen was there the day I attended - and she is a fan of the horses. But without public, I don't think there will be too many royal carriages heading down the straight at what will be Royalless Ascot this year.

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1 hour ago, Stodge said:

MAGIC WAND flopped when wearing first time cheek-pieces in the King George at Ascot but returned to form with a second in the Arlington Million (getting closer to BRICKS 'N' MORTAR than she had at Gulfstream in January) and then second again in the Irish Champion. From there it was off to Australia where she was fourth in the Cox Plate and tenth in the Melbourne Cup before beating MELODY BELLE in the Mackinnon. From there to Hong Kong where she ran second in the Hong Kong Cup before another second in the 2020 version of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Her last run was on Dirt in the Saudi Cup where she was well behind MAXIMUM SECURITY.

She has amassed £3.7 million in win and mostly place money. She's a remarkable mare and should pick this lot up and carry them if anywhere near fit.

She should be winning this. I haven't priced her as short as her quote. I have her at 2.36. She has never even raced as short a trip as this (closest being her first ever start). 

She is all class and that might be enough. But not for me at what is likely odds on.

At the odds, I couldn't entertain backing her although I might look at Crotchet.

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22 hours ago, pete said:

Nice to have you aboard Stodge. If you want to provide these updates on a regular basis I'm happy to set up a separate sub forum. Over to you. Just a thought.

Thanks for the welcome, Pete. Midnight Caller said I could post my nonsense here and it's nice to engage with some clearly knowledgeable people. 

I don't mind where and how my posts are - if a subforum works for you, that's fine by me. It's your site - I'm grateful to have a chance to post and especially as it's a busy time up here with Ascot next week. I might even point you to a winner or two (though I wouldn't count on it !!)

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I didn't think SISKIN would stay the trip but he did and in some style. Likely to go to the Sussex I believe where he could meet PINATUBO or whoever emerges from the St James's Palace next week. I wonder if they'll be tempted to send over VICTOR LUDORUM.

For those who don't normally follow Royal Ascot, there are some changes to the running order this year with some additional races (mainly consolation handicaps) but I don't bother with those. Being a typical British elitist snob, I'll concentrate on the Group 1 and Group 2 races.

On Tuesday we have the following:

Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) - 1600m Straight - 4-y-o and upwards

Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) - 2400m - 3-y-o fillies

King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) - 2400m - 3-y-o colts

King's Stand Stakes (Group 1) - 1000m - 4-y-o and upwards

Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) - 1600m Straight - 4-y-o and upwards fillies and mares

Normally, the Ribblesdale is the consolation prize for those not quite good enough in the Oaks and the King Edward VII is the same for the Derby also-rans but this year they are key trials with the classics on July 4th. The Queen Anne normally follows on from the Lockinge and is the last Group 1 Mile race reserved for the older colts. The King's Stand is usually preceded by the Temple Stakes and is one of the two 1000m Group 1 races in the UK - the Nunthorpe is the late summer equivalent and both lead to the Abbaye at Longchamp.

The Duke of Cambridge is part of the pattern for the older fillies and mares and is basically a trial for the Falmouth which leads to races like the Matron at Leopardstown, the Rothschild at Deauville and the Sun Chariot in the autumn.

 

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I don't just want to talk races on here but offer my thoughts on some wider racing issues up here.

We are approaching the end of the second week of the resumption of racing after the Covid-19 lockdown and I've a few observations.

As far as racing is concerned, all has gone pretty well but the facade of bonhomie hides some problems and offers some opportunities for the future. The first problem is we've had a lot of racing - the normal 6-8 race cards have become 9-11 race cards. This is fine in a spectator-free environment but the problem has been the racing has been mainly at the top tracks and has been steered toward three groups - the top horses (trials for Ascot, Epsom and of course the first two Classics), juveniles and 3-y-o. Frankly, it's been a resumption tailored for the top end and the more moderate animals (of whom there are a great many) aren't getting a look in with programmes framed toward the top end as well as providing maiden and novice opportunities for 2-y-o and 3-y-o.

The problem is it's the smaller trainers, owners and jockeys who were hit hardest by the suspension of racing and in its initial plan to resume in mid-May, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) seemed to focus on the more moderate levels promising plenty of opportunities for Class 5 and Class 6 horses let alone the number that operate below that. To my knowledge, there hasn't been a selling race since resumption and very few claimers.

There have been so many races at the better end the population just can't support it anymore so tomorrow at Newbury a Class 3 handicap for the 3-y-o over 2000m has just 5 runners while the Class 5 handicap preceding it has a full field with runners balloted out.

Next week will be dominated by Ascot and again the moderate horses will be pushed to the margins. It's all very well the media claiming racing has an opportunity to showcase itself before the return of football next week but as we know even the odd lower league match gets shown - you never see a Class 6 or a seller on live television outside the specialist racing channels.

The other point is a more nuanced one - for many courses, the summer evening fixtures are their big money spinner. The weather's good, people turn up in their thousands, eat and drink to excess (despite the dubious quality and expensive nature of racecourse food and drink) and often pay even more for some live music. This year, those meetings won't happen and instead we'll see evening meetings behind closed doors with 8-10 races which will, once football and cricket return, be ignored by most.

Racing therefore becomes racing for the industry, not for the spectators and I'm wondering whether this may be a trend for the future. "Open" meetings with full spectators and "closed" meetings behind closed doors - available on the specialist channels and in the betting shops but that's all. Four of Britain's tracks have been mothballed through the summer and while no one is saying anything, the longer this goes on the greater the pressure on the big race course owning groups to either cut prize money back further or close one or two tracks. With all-weather racing providing a significant part of the fixture list (and said tracks much easier to maintain), there may well be pressure to reduce the racecourse numbers.

However, I think there are too many all-weather tracks (we have six) and it's absurd tracks which could race 100-150 times a year only race 30-40 times. I would mothball three of the AW tracks now (the other three can provide both winter and summer action). 

There are those who want and think the outcome of Covid-19 is life will return to exactly what it was before the virus. I suspect not - habits have changed, views have changed. IF the economy struggles and unemployment increases racing will feel the pain if no one has any money to spend. Perhaps that's true of all sport.

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BLUE CABACHON is 9/2 but faces an O'Brien juvenile in FINEST from the first crop of The Gurkha. Ballydoyle juveniles don't usually win first time up and those that do tend to be the very best - Saxon Warrior being one example.

MUBTASIMAH is now 7/2 favourite with three morning withdrawals so the value's probably gone. I prefer MISS CELESTIAL who will enjoy the extra 200m and had a decent pipe opener at Haydock last weekend.

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While the afternoon's fare is underway, a chance for me to look ahead to day one of Royal Ascot with the 72-hour declarations rule meaning Tuesday's fields are now finalised.

The ground currently is Good, Good to Soft in places but with a generally settled week apart from a risk of a shower on Thursday, it may be the ground will improve to the quick side by Friday or Saturday.

Queen Anne Stakes:

16 go to post and it looks wide open. CIRCUS MAXIMUS is favourite which is understandable on his 3-y-o form which included a win in the St James's Palace but that was on the round track and this is the straight mile which is a real stamina test. That won't be a problem for TEREBELLUM who won the Dahlia over 2000m at Newmarket last Sunday - she has a huge chance. FOX CHAIRMAN has been off since last July and while his second in the Hampton Court reads well, his form is all on soft ground and I think that may be an issue.

I fancy MUSTASHRY at a price - he didn't enjoy the slow conditions last year in this race. He won the Lockinge last year and I can't fault him failing to live with ENABLE in the Eclipse. At 12/1 he looks an each way bet though to be fair I thought so last year as well.

Ribblesdale Stakes:

12 go to post for what is essentially the key Oaks Trial. John Gosden has a stranglehold with MISS YODA, the Lingfield Oaks Trial winner, returning but she's second favourite to FRANKLY DARLING. On form, MISS YODA is superior - FRANKLY DARLING trotted up in a Newcastle maiden on the day racing resumed but this is a big step up. She's a daughter of Frankel out of a Daylami mare who was herself fifth in this back in 2004 so will she do better than her mother? Frankie Dettori is on board which may explain why she's 2/1 favourite. TREFOIL was well held behind RUN WILD in the Pretty Polly but the others have plenty to prove on bits of maiden form.

I note Aidan O'Brien is running ENNISTYMON who comes from a Leopardstown maiden last Wednesday. At 12/1 she may be a tempting each way option in what looks a weak race.

KIng Edward VII Stakes:

Just six run but Ballydoyle look to have the cards with MOGUL who was Derby favourite briefly last summer but whose reputation came unstuck when only fourth to KAMEKO in the Vertem Futurity. I think he's crying out for his trip and the Ascot track will suit and he looks a good thing to this observer.

ARTHUR'S KINGDOM beat MKFANCY in the Criterium de Saint Cloud last autumn but that was a slog in a bog to be honest and while he may well be decent I think he'll needto have improved to take on MOGUL.

KIng's Stand Stakes:

11 go to post but it looks to be all about BATTAASH who is 8/11 favourite. Take out the retired Blue Point and we'd be lauding him as the dual winner of this bidding for a hat trick. He couldn't cope with the mud on Arc day in the Abbaye and the drier the ground the better in all honesty. He was brilliant in the Nunthorpe and while I think the flat fast tracks play to his strengths he should be too good for these. 

GLASS SLIPPERS improved for wet ground last autumn and I'm to be convinced she will be able to go with BATTAASH on this ground. EQUILATERAL has possibilities if on a going day - his form in Meydan in the winter would give him place prospects in this field but the sprint division is currently lacking strength in depth.

Duke of Cambridge Stakes:

11 once again but this looks a very open heat. JUBILOSO, LAVENDER'S BLUE and MAGIC LILY are equal top rated on the official numbers. LAVENDER'S BLUE didn't stay in last year's Oaks but came back to win the Atalanta at Sandown before running a close fourth in the Sun Chariot. She holds JUBILOSO on that while MAGIC LILY was second in the Jebel Hatta and third in the Dahlia so we know she's fit.

Favourite is NAZEEF who beat former Guineas winner BILLESDON BROOK at Kempton the other day. In what looks another weak race, NAZEEF is probably the answer. 

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On 6/12/2020 at 9:19 AM, mardigras said:

She should be winning this. I haven't priced her as short as her quote. I have her at 2.36. She has never even raced as short a trip as this (closest being her first ever start). 

She is all class and that might be enough. But not for me at what is likely odds on.

At the odds, I couldn't entertain backing her although I might look at Crotchet.

And win it she did easily. And somewhat as per my price assessment, she drifted out (to actually the odds I had her at). Before shortening back to odds on. 

And Crotchet a non-starter.

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Very informative,  Stodge, thanks.

Interesting that you feel there are too many AWT's - six - as here, in NZ  there are plans afoot to install three.  I think they are supposed to be the 'silver bullets' , although most I have spoken to are not convinced at all.  Not to mention the ongoing costs which will not sit well with a heavily cash-strapped industry.   I feel that 'white elephants' would be the most likely description.

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All Weather Racing Surfaces: Polytrack, Fibresand & Tapeta Explained

All Weather Racing Surfaces

All Weather Racing is a massive part of the UK Fixture List. Six tracks use All-Weather surfaces.

However, there’s a massive difference between the different racecourse surfaces!

In this article, we’re going to explain the differences between Polytrack, Fibresand and Tapeta, along with a description of the UK All Weather courses…

All Weather Racing History…

Did you know that all weather racing was originally meant for the jumps!? Not many people realise this.

Back in the 1980’s they had the idea that jumping on all weather surfaces would be better during the winter but as it turned out, it was a terrible. Horses kept finishing lame, jumps racing was cancelled and that gave way to flat racing.

All Weather racing had a very poor reputation at the start. Owners and Trainers took the view that it was only for poor quality horses. It took more than ten years to change that view.

It’s incredible when you think about where we are now with all weather racing compared to at the start…

However, it would be fair to say that a lot of punters still take a dim view of all weather racing. Even with the invention of the All Weather Championships. You get top quality horses racing at the six tracks now.

Differences Between Polytrack, Fibresand & Tapeta:

Polytrack is the most popular choice of surfaces for all weather tracks in the UK. Most trainers prefer Polytrack over everything else because it is the fairest surface for horses to race on. It’s a fast surface, with little jar and basically no kickback. Horses can enjoy their racing and because it quickly regains it’s shape after being racing on that means there’s less stress on tendons.

Tapeta is very similar to Polytrack. There’s almost no kickback and they say that it’s more versatile than Polytrack. It’s a very fair surface to race, and would be quite similar to Good on a turf track – as similar as all weather could be anyway!

A while ago Wolverhampton changed their course from Polytrack to Tapeta and now Newcastle has it too.

Then we have Fibresand at Southwell. It’s completely different to Polytrack and Tapeta and Southwell is the only course to use it. It’s much slower than the other two surfaces, and it’s a lot harder work for the horses. If Polytrack was similar to Good ground on turf, then Fibresand would be very similar to Soft. That would be the best way to understand the differences.

Unlike Polytrack and Tapeta, Fibresand produces a lot of kickback which some horses hate. Of course, you will have horses who love Southwell; but the majority of horses would prefer to race on the two other surfaces.

All Weather Racing Guide (Individual Courses)

All-Weather-Racing-Surface-Example.jpg

Lingfield

Lingfield is the most prestigious all weather track in the UK. It hosts the All Weather Championships each year on Good Friday. The surface at Lingfield is Polytrack and it usually favours speedy horses. You generally get very fast finishes at Lingfield around a tight track. Generally we get fast finishes because it is believed that you can’t win from the front at Lingfield; so that leads to them starting slow and finishing fast! The track is slightly downhill too which adds to the speed the horses can generate – it is the fastest all weather track in the UK.

Southwell

Southwell is the only track that uses Fibresand in the UK. Fibresand is the slowest all weather surface so you tend to get very testing races. You need plenty of stamina to win up the long Southwell straight. The course favours front runners because of the kickback and the slow nature of the surface. Fibresand is quite deep and from time to time the work on the track can throw up some incredible track bias. It’s generally viewed that the middle of the track is the best place to race, but this can quickly change on a certain day! You need tough horses to win at Southwell, and they need to race towards the front too.

Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton racecourse actually started with Firbesand, but then went on to use Polytrack in 2004 but after that they changed to Tapeta in 2014. As we explained above, Tapeta is very similar to Polytrack and with Wolverhampton being such a tight track – it suits speedy horses but because the straight is so short you need to race towards the front to hold a good position. Wolverhampton was actually the first to stage racing under lights in the UK, and it is generally accepted that they view racing as quantity rather than quality!

Wolverhampton AW Course

Kempton

Kempton replaced it’s flat track with a Polytrack in 2006, and has staged all weather racing year round since. They managed to keep their high-quality flat races so you see a lot of top quality horses race on the all weather at Kempton. Aside from the All Weather Championships at Lingfield, Kempton is the best all weather track is terms of quality horses racing on it. It’s a very flat oval track but it has two very different finishes. The inner course really favours speed and being towards the front for a good position, while the outer course has almost three furlong of a finishing straight so horses can really get into a stride and finish strongly.

Chelmsford City

Chelmsford City was originally opened as Great Leighs in 2008, but they closed very soon after opening and after a six year wait, opened again as Chelmsford City. They use a Polytrack surface on a fairly straightforward oval-shaped course. It’s a very popular course with trainers as they see it as being very fair to their horses; and you could see some very useful horses make their debut here. It is a lot more of a galloping track than Lingfield, Kempton and Wolverhampton with big sweeping bends and it’s generally a very fair place where there isn’t many hard luck stories.

Newcastle

Newcastle is the newest all weather track in the UK. They dug up their turf track and opened their all weather track in the 2015/2016 winter season. Like Wolverhampton, they use a Tapeta surface and it’s very different from the other all weather tracks because it has a straight mile. They managed to keep their major fixture on the flat, the Northumberland Plate meeting, and with the long finishing straight you generally get the best horse winning. It’s very rare to have the long straight that Newcastle has on all weather racing.

Overall Outlook On All Weather Racing

All Weather racing continues to thrive in the UK. We can only see more all weather courses being added over the next few years. Yes, tracks like Southwell and Wolverhampton may have some low-quality racing but overall with the success of the All Weather Championships and some top quality racing at Lingfield and Newcastle you have to say that all weather racing will only continue to grow.

It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but we will continue to see one or two all weather meetings daily and especially during the winter months. In terms of trading, sometimes you can get burnt out with so much racing – but isn’t it good to have a choice? You don’t have to trade every meeting; but having the option of all weather racing all year round is always nice to have.

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I'm not as sure there are too many AWTs there. Using less of them, but more frequently might be a negative. Horse populations and locations. A couple near London but otherwise I think there would be issues getting sufficient entries on less courses. That's just my view from the sidelines without living there, so may have that wrong. Also, not all the AWTs use the same product as the track surface (even though the BHA may handicap them based on the classification of AWT).

In saying that, I don't think NZ should be getting any AWTs. We simply are not in a position to invest in them. It would likely take 10 years before they became more of an accepted fabric of our raceday environment. That's a long time and a lot of investment which will be effectively losing money over those 10 or so years.

If we were a healthy racing industry (or at least a lot healthier than we are), you may want to look at that investment on the basis that in 10 years time, you will be providing the industry with more choice into an area where acceptance has gradually become more the norm. (They will likely never be seen as mainstream, but may reach a more general acceptance).

That's a bit like me investing in R&D on new oven technology for my bakery, where the technology carries high cost and high risk and a long payback time. Rather than repairing/upgrading my current ovens with current technology to at least get my bakery running properly first.  

The money is much better directed elsewhere given the state of 'standard' racing here. 

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The one being built at Cambridge is Polytrack, with 2 more to be built at Awapuni and Riccarton, both Polytrack I presume, and Govt funding part approved as part of the $72.5mil bailout

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12298726

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/racing/121766750/winston-peters-drops-in-to-check-on-13m-track-upgrade-at-cambridge-jockey-club

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The problem is that despite the initial government funding, the industry still has to find the $20m to install them and generate sufficient from that investment for maintenance, especially top-up and replacement requirements. My understanding is that the Cambridge one will become redundant if and when the Greenfields project is completed as proposed in the Messara report. It's not like we currently have a significant deficiency in training facilities, or winter tracks for that matter. And even if we did, that doesn't seem like it should be a priority target for a $20m investment.

It seems to me that it would be a lot more efficient and cost effective to reduce or minimise winter racing to match the existing track capacities.

Edited by curious
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23 hours ago, Stodge said:

BLUE CABACHON is 9/2 but faces an O'Brien juvenile in FINEST from the first crop of The Gurkha. Ballydoyle juveniles don't usually win first time up and those that do tend to be the very best - Saxon Warrior being one example.

MUBTASIMAH is now 7/2 favourite with three morning withdrawals so the value's probably gone. I prefer MISS CELESTIAL who will enjoy the extra 200m and had a decent pipe opener at Haydock last weekend.

Got 4-1 on the impressive Mubtasimah

Solid run by Blue C, taking nothing away from the Harrington winner but the ground looked a little quick for Blue C.

Nothing on today but with the Harrington stable on fire, I will be keeping an eye on  Lady Anner, in what is a strong race.

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15 hours ago, mardigras said:

And win it she did easily. And somewhat as per my price assessment, she drifted out (to actually the odds I had her at). Before shortening back to odds on. 

And Crotchet a non-starter.

She bolted up didn't she?

Where will they go with her? I imagine the plan is to campaign her at 2000m - will she come to the Eclipse and take on ENABLE? Races like the Juddmonte and the Irish Champion must be tempting though LOVE may be a real thorn in her side though the latter could be kept at 2400m if she wins the English Oaks.

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14 hours ago, Freda said:

Very informative,  Stodge, thanks.

Interesting that you feel there are too many AWT's - six - as here, in NZ  there are plans afoot to install three.  I think they are supposed to be the 'silver bullets' , although most I have spoken to are not convinced at all.  Not to mention the ongoing costs which will not sit well with a heavily cash-strapped industry.   I feel that 'white elephants' would be the most likely description.

Hesi's analysis of the AW tracks is very accurate and fair.

The one part with which I disagree was they were originally for jumping. They were to provide racing of any sort - in the 1980s we had a few bad winters and particularly when the Christmas programme was wiped out, it was a big hit for the betting industry and for the Government in terms of revenue. The racing authorities looked at America where Dirt tracks could function in very cold conditions but there was no appetite for that and instead they turned to the early artificial surfaces such as Equitrack (the original surface at Lingfield) and Fibresand. 

My view on AW tracks is more nuanced - they do provide a useful function especially in winter as a way of keeping the "smaller" stables,  owners and jockeys with some income. The problem is the BHA want to "improve" the winter flat racing season - I wouldn't. Keep it for the moderate animals, the smaller trainers, the lesser owners and jockeys. As a punter I don't care if I back a 5/1 winner in a Group 1 or a Seller.

The other time when AW tracks are useful is during periods of more extreme weather - when it is wet in spring and autumn, Polytrack and Tapeta surfaces provide a much smoother option which is particularly suitable for juveniles or other inexperienced horses. I'd have no issue with AW cards of maidens and novice events in October and November, fixtures put on at short notice to give inexperienced horses a run without them having to deal with heavy mud. In high summer when tracks are fast (and we water far too much up here), a properly harrowed AW track can provide an easier alternative. Both Polytrack and Tapeta can be harrowed deeper to produce a slower surface.

The AW courses can put on meetings at short notice to satisfy a demand from trainers for a particular type of race or a particular surface. They could be held "behind closed doors" (as now) to reduce costs further - one example could be a card of Class 6 handicaps which would be fine for media and the betting shops and provide some opportunities for smaller stables.

I accept the geographical argument for tracks in the north, midlands and south (I also think Southwell as the sole Fibresand track has a niche). That means Newcastle, Wolverhampton and one of Lingfield, Kempton or Chelmsford.

The second issue is one of media rights - we have two specialist racing channels in competition (Racing UK and Sky Sports Racing). That is itself absurd but SSR has the bulk of the AW fixtures with RUK only having Kempton and Chelmsford. That means if the turf jump racing is off, RUK subscribers were often left with nothing for their money while SSR had plenty of admittedly low-grade racing over which their (often) admittedly low-grade presenters and analysts could salivate.

It's very hard to stand up here and say we have too much racing in the UK - we do and we don't. There is too much racing geared to the top end of the horse population and too little geared to the bottom as I've argued elsewhere. The other thing you can't say is there are too many racecourses - there are but try to close a track and the yokels come after you with pitchforks. 

AW tracks could race 150-200 days per year - they simply don't have the track maintenance costs or the need for the surface to recover. All the tracks bar Lingfield now have floodlights so they can race on evenings in the depths of winter but they are criminally under-used because there are a) too many of them and b) they have to yield to the turf tracks in the summer.

The industry "could" seek to have more AW fixtures and close down a few turf tracks or, and I offer this as personal preference, mothball a couple of the AW tracks for now and IF the horse population increases or there is demand, they can be re-opened as was Great Leighs/Chelmsford. 

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13 hours ago, Hesi said:

The one being built at Cambridge is Polytrack, with 2 more to be built at Awapuni and Riccarton, both Polytrack I presume, and Govt funding part approved as part of the $72.5mil bailout

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12298726

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/racing/121766750/winston-peters-drops-in-to-check-on-13m-track-upgrade-at-cambridge-jockey-club

I don't know enough about NZ weather but I do know waterlogging in winter can be an issue so I can see the argument for winter artificial surfaces at existing venues. The French seem able to have BOTH turf and artificial surfaces (Chantilly, Deauville) as does Hong Kong so the model is out there.

The questions for me would be a) would NZ racing be planning to have additional fixtures on the artificial surfaces in the spring and autumn and b) is the plan to have fixtures behind closed doors at "unsociable" hours for potential sale into the global betting market?

I mention the latter because we already have Irish Greyhound meetings starting at 7.30am so they can be fed into the evening Asian and Australasian betting markets. If you had a meeting near to a training centre starting at 7am, that would be 8pm the previous evening and we could see it in the UK. Horse people get up early (Very early) so it's not logistically impossible to have a "closed door" meeting on an artificial surface with floodlights starting early and "sold" into the overseas betting market.  

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