DON’T MISS A FEAST OF RACING FROM BETDAQ: Daqman marks your card for the big autumn season of top-class racing as new names emerge, only to do battle with the stars of spring and summer in the year’s championship deciders.
There’s yet another new hand from the pack. Every few weeks, this year’s racing turns up top cards and trumps old aces. Only yesterday it was Treasure Beach and Power. Today it’s Reliable Man and Born To Sea. Yesterday it was Midday and Goldikova. Today it’s Sarafina and Galikova.
In theory, they will all come together in end-of-season showdowns in races like the Queen Elzabeth 11 Stakes, the Champion Stakes, the Arc De Triomphe and the Breeders Cup series.
At the same time, we have the major handicaps of Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch. There’s a veritable feast ahead, for which some – Sir Michael Stoute – are still hoping for their first decent plateful, others have tucked in already like John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien, and for others like Alain De Royer-Dupre and John Oxx the main course has only just begun.
The traditional autumn starter is the Ayr Gold Cup. It’s been another year for the flying dismount of Frankie Dettori but a not-so-hot sprint to the line for David Nicholls.
The Ayr Gold Cup (Saturday): Dettori goes for a hat-trick and trainer Nicholls attempts a seventh success in Saturday’s big race.
Three-year-olds used to win it frequently (four out of nine between 1987 and 1994) but have scored only once in the last 16 seasons. In that time, four-year-olds have had nine successes.
High numbers in the draw – from 15 to 22 – have won four years in succession but, in the four years before that, low prevailed (2 to 10). Last year’s winner, Redford, started 7lb below his previous winning mark, had raced in a top handicap inside the previous month and had finished within four lengths of the winner the previous year.
Like the 2009 winner, Jimmy Styles, he had competed in the Pattern at Listed level, a picture emerging in many handicaps as the weights close down and only better quality horses are able to run.
I’ll be looking closely at the Gold Cup later this week, as the declarations and the draw reveal the shape of the race and betting patterns emerge.
Cambridgeshire (September 24): Three-year-olds are overdue a win; they scored back to back in 2006-7 but light weights like Lear Spear (3-7-13), the winner in 1998, and even Formal Decree (3-8-9) in 2006 have difficulty getting in the crowded-at-the-top tighter handicaps of the last four years.
Last year, 8st 7lb was the lowest weighted second-season animal; the other three-year-olds were set between 8st 11lb and 9st 9lb. However none of the last 12 winners has been rated higher than 102.
One man who goes with the flow when times change is John Gosden, the leading late-season trainer, who has already grabbed a St Leger double.
He won the Cambridgeshire back in 1994 but, if anyone can adapt to the new-style handicaps, Gosden can: and, sure enough, he landed back-to-back wins in 2007-8. The first six home last year all raced on the far side.
Arc De Triomphe (October 2): One clue to the Arc is the draw: there’s been no winner in the last seven years from a stall higher than 8. Be warned that the betting market often changes dramatically when the draw is published.
In fact, the only horses to beat the deadly high draw in 12 years have been Sakhee (2001) and Dalakhani (2003). This bias and the short straight at Longchamp often produce a rough race.
But it is equally true that great horses emerge no matter what, with Dylan Thomas, Zarkava and Sea The Stars among the very recent winners, going back to the heydays of Flat racing in the 1960s and 1970s when it was won by Sea Bird, Vaguely Noble, Mill Reef, Allez France and Alleged.
Cesarewitch (October 8): Because of the marathon trip, light weights are still favoured in this handicap. Though the parameters 9st 1lb to 9st 8lb trapped three out of four winners between 2005-8, the last two years saw triumphs for 8st 6lb and 7st 13lb.
In fact, 12 of the last 16 winners of the Cesarewitch carried less than 9st 1lb. So that 2005-8 patch was highly unusual and accounts for all bar one of the high winning weights since 1994.
Six-year-olds have the strongest record (three of the last six, for instance) and National Hunt trainers also have a 50% record (in the last 12 seasons).
Darley Sun (2009) was the first three-year-old to win since 1998 and only the second in 19 years. Only two favourites have scored in 18 years.
Champion Stakes (October 15): Not the race it was in the days of Sir Ivor (1968) and Brigadier Gerard (1971-72) but this years entries are mouth-watering, if only some would stand their ground: Frankel, Midday, Misty For Me, Nathaniel, Reliable Man, Roderic O’Connor, Sarafina, Snow Fairy, So You Think, Treasure Beach.
Which way will they go, the new stars and the old? Follow this web site daily as we try to find the answers and the winners.
BET 5.5pts win JUST LILLE (2.20 Musselburgh)
BET 2.2pts win and place OUTLAW TORN (4.10 Kempton)
BET 2.8pts win (nap) BOUNCY BOUNCY (5.00 Brighton)
LAY to win 10pts MISSILE ATTACK, and 3.5pts win SANDWITH (5.20 Musselburgh)
LAY to win 10pts SENNOCKIAN STORM (5.50 Musselburgh)