THERE was a familiar pattern to last week’s losing bet. Chelsea to win without conceding against Southampton felt as if it was nailed on right up until Ben Chilwell gave away a needless penalty. Romelu Lukaku to score in that imagined victory felt inevitable right up until the Belgian had a goal ruled out for straying a millimetre offside then hit the post from inside the six-yard box. It was another one of those weeks.
In an attempt to prevent writing a similar column of lament next Saturday, we’re going back to the formula that so nearly took us into the black a fortnight ago: horse racing trends. There is a type of bettor that frowns upon trend betting – and it is understandable – few trends have a 100 per cent strike rate and those that do tend to be largely predictable: a horse with four legs has won this race 20 times out of the last 20 or no jockey over 6ft has won this race. Simply put, there isn’t much whittling down done in races that are for limited age groups and especially not in high-class fields with group race winners.
Nevertheless, the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket today presents us with an opportunity to apply some pretty strong trend lines. For a start, there are only eight runners so there’s no endless schlepping through the Sporting Index website to discover where your fancy raced last time out (quick hint: it’s a thumbs up for Goodwood, Longchamp or the Curragh) and not so encouraging if it was Newmarket itself – or indeed at any time – because horses that have raced at the Suffolk venue previously have a less-than convincing record at seven wins from 19 renewals of the race. But, as always, we’ll not throw the baby out with bathwater and, instead, apply a mark to each stat which is weighted accordingly.
The most convincing trend is a horse with three previous season runs which is bad news for Aiden O’Brien’s lightly raced Glounthaune and Doncaster winner Dubawi Legend which also fall down on the 49 days since the horse’s last race stat which applies to 12 out of 12 previous winners. We can lose a further three from the shortlist in the form of Go Bears Go and Berkshire Shadow on the basis that they have not won at the distance, not won last time out, nor do they fill any of the other most convincing trends and Dhabab, which barely ticks any at all.
The one horse that does come out on top based on that strict selection criteria is Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten Native Trail which, unsurprisingly, is the odds-on favourite to make it four wins from four.
This is a seven furlong race that often throws up a 2000 Guineas winner of the future. Ideally, we are looking for something from near the head of the market, drawn in a low stall (although the smaller field will possibly negate some of that advantage), foaled in February or March and placed last time out. Again, a caveat: the trends are not the be-all and end-all but if they are accurate here then it’s take your pick from Native Trail, Straight Answer or Bayside Boy. The latter, trained by Roger Varian, lowered the colours of Reach For The Moon when winning the Champagne Stakes last month while Straight Answer should be there or thereabouts. Native Trail is a worthy favourite but there is not enough value for my liking so the selection is an each-way punt on Bayside Boy, who has been aimed at this race since that win over the Queen’s horse at Doncaster.
Selection: Bayside Boy (5/1, ew)
Season’s total: -£24