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The Idiot’s Guide to J&B Met Day

Oscar Foulkes January 29, 2014 Horse Racing No comments
On the assumption that not everyone’s going to be ogling eye candy all day (or, that even the most ardent oglers will have a bet at some point during the day) here’s my quick and dirty guide to the day’s racing.

Before I get to that, I need to point out a few house rules:

  1. We aren’t doing anything more than making reasoned ‘predictions’. No-one really knows what is going to happen.
  2. Practice money management. Pick an amount you’re willing to spend on entertainment for the afternoon, and split it between the races you’re interested in. I wouldn’t advise an all-out bet on the first horse that crosses your path. Whatever you do, don’t chase your losses by drawing more cash at the ATMs.
  3. You can do exotics as fractional bets. So, if you’ve worked out a super-duper Pick 6 that costs R1000, but you don’t want to spend R1000, simply take it for R200 (20%).
  4. Place bets are a great way of gently having fun all afternoon, because there are three opportunities for payout in every race.
  5. While on that subject, I’m a big fan of the good, old-fashioned ‘each-way’, which is a win and place on the same horse. If the horse is 5-1 or better, the place bet will cover the losing win portion of the bet. If it wins, you collect both parts of the bet.

I’m involved in the development of mobile-optimised racecard that you can access at It has all the runners, with ‘expert’ comments, as well as a predictor based upon a best-handicapped calculation for the Graded races (I think it’s great, but I’m probably more than a little biased!). The idea is that you can use it on your phone without having to schlepp piles of paper around the racecourse with you.

Race 1
Quite an open race, but as always, the Snaith stable holds a strong hand. Most of the field will go off at 5-1 or better, so place payouts will generally be at least R2 (R1 of that is your initial stake). If you make it to the course by 11.30 you could get your toes wet with a little warm-up bet. Keep your powder dry.

Race 2
Top of the boards here are two unbeaten three-year-olds, DARING DAVE and TEE JAY AR. The latter wouldn’t have made the trip from Joburg if he wasn’t something special, and the former wouldn’t have followed up his Maiden win with a six-length romp if he himself wasn’t well above average. It will be interesting to see how they shape.

What the presence of these two do to the odds on other runners is to increase them. The proven form amongst these is pretty solid. AZINCOURT won very impressively last time. SAIL SOUTH is a decent sort, and if you are willing to look at him, there are several others that come into the picture. The lurker could be SOVEREIGN SOUND, who is currently quoted at 40-1 (theoretical 8-1 for a place) and carries just 52kg. CAPEL TOP is lightly raced, but shows promise.

Race 3
First leg of the PA (you have to pick placed horses in seven consecutive races, and the bet is a permutation).

This is a decent field. Heading the betting is HAPPY FOREVER, fresh from his fourth-place finish in stronger company last week. I’ve been following him for a few starts, so shouldn’t really be deserting him. However, the likes of TIGER TIGER, CAPTAIN’S RESERVE could give him something to think about (both are currently quoted at an each-way-friendly 5-1). Joey Ramsden provides another long-odds lurker, in SHADES OF INDIGO, who is quoted at 20-1. The poor chap carried 64kg last time out (must have been a relief for heavy weight jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe to not be under weight pressure!), conceding 9.5 kg (more than 7 lengths) to the winner.

For the PA, one may get away with bankering Happy Forever, but I’d probably include Tiger Tiger as well.

Race 4
These are young, inexperienced horses, prone to running ‘green’ or showing dramatic improvement. Have a bet if you must, but keep it small in relation to the rest of the day.

ARRIA is a justified favourite, but doesn’t look like value at 16-10. My biased interest is AZARENKA, who was bred by my mother and is part-owned by my brother. In my opinion 15-2 offers value (especially for the each-way punter).

An upset is possible, so I’d probably pick at least two or three for the PA.

Race 5
There’s another hot favourite here, in the form of FUTURA, a winner on debut and then touched off at his second start. He’s by boom stallion Dynasty, he represents the Crawford/Hatt combination, and he carries just 53kg. It’s not a great field, so these credentials may be all it takes to get him home.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the likes of TELL ME MORE pop up, and I’d certainly include TOLD YOU SO in the trifecta if I were taking one.

Race 6
CAPTAIN AMERICA is a champion in the making, the real deal. I’ll be bankering him in my PA. POWER KING wasn’t far behind him in the Guineas, and is bred for every inch of the Kenilworth 2000m.

The Snaith runners all have strong place chances (some of them try their right distance for the first time), and they are all at attractive odds.

Race 7
BEACH BEAUTY shouldn’t be anything other than favourite for this race. She is a champion. But, she races from the widest draw against a strong field. What I’m getting at is that 8-10 doesn’t look like value. If she fails, there are probably half a dozen who are in contention.

The bad draw shouldn’t stop her being a PA banker, but it wouldn’t hurt taking a small ‘cover perm’ that includes a couple of others (there will be a big PA payout if she runs unplaced).

Race 8
In big handicaps, like the Durban July or Summer Cup, top weights rarely win. However, in the J&B Met, horses carry weight that is based upon weight-for-age, with penalties added for Grade One races won. The penalty is limited to 2kg, so unlike handicaps, there is a limit to the spread of weights between top and bottom weights. This means that top weights have a very good strike rate. JACKSON is the kind of top weight that can win the Met. Ignore his run in the Queen’s Plate, 1600m is not his game.

However, a top-class four-year-old that has managed to avoid penalties has a 2kg (about 3 lengths) advantage. This explains MASTER OF MY FATE’S position as short-priced favourite.

The ‘older horse without penalty factor’ creates interest in a bunch of other horses, especially at long odds. In no particular order: KING OF PAIN, ROYAL ZULU WARRIOR, WHITELINE FEVER, HOT TICKET, ICE MACHINE, LAKE ARTHUR, JET EXPLORER, or perhaps even HILL FIFTY FOUR.

It’s obligatory to have a filly in the race; this year it’s DO YOU REMEMBER. She was a close second in the July, but bear in mind that Olympic Duel was the last filly to win the Met, when carrying just 2.5kg less than the top weight (Igugu was getting 3kg from Bravura when she won). It won’t be easy for her.

Race 9
As the betting suggests, this is a wide-open race, so probably one to avoid from an outright bet perspective. If you’re taking a PA you’re obliged to make a selection. I’d be inclined to play wide (i.e. include three or four) on the assumption that the favoured runners have all been placed in the Grade Ones, and I’d be looking for some upsets to improve the payout.

Race 10
This is the final leg of the PA. If your perm is still alive, well done. I’m inclined to banker ROMAN MANNER. He ran a cracker in the Guineas. At his next start he appeared not to stay 1800m, but still managed to finish 1½ lengths behind the winner. He carries just 52kg here, which gives him a big shout. Odds of 3-1 look like good value.

If you’re taking a trifecta, be sure to include BIG CAT. He ran very wide on the bend last time.

Race 11
By now you should be re-hydrating. If not, the three-year-old pairing of ZACHARIAS and PRINCESS OF THE SKY are the obvious choices. They would have outside place chances in the Grade One Majorca Stakes, but run against less exalted fillies here. I have a soft spot for SHOWDOWN, since I had an each-way nibble on her at 20-1 when she was third at her last start.

Race 12
(Phew, this is exhausting!)
Like the Met, the weight terms of this race are weight-for-age plus penalties. Over 2800m, every length equates to 1 lb, so the top weight JEPPE’S REEF is really up against it. I like the look of ILHA BELHA under 54.5kg, but the race has an open look to it. PADDY O’REILLY, RIVER CROSSING and GIFTED FOR GLORY are all well treated at the weights.

Remember, these are simply the musings of one person. Try to make your money last the entire afternoon, and have fun (you’re not trying to win enough money to pay for an overseas holiday). There are some very interesting contests during the course of the afternoon, so even if you’re not betting there’s plenty of racing action to keep you amused.

And, if all else fails, there is always the eye candy.



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