where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2019-02-09 07:59:32  
Strydom Thoughts on Racing Today

Handicapping key to betting




Hero’s Honour looks the best bet at Turffontein.


Piere Strydom


I often get approached by people who want to play the horses and it has always been my goal to encourage punters to have a bet because it is good for the industry. The bigger we grow the pools, the bigger the stakes get.

Some people are not keen to encourage others to have a bet and that disappoints me because I feel people are not thinking about the future of the racing game.

If I knew it all I would not be riding; I would become a professional punter. But unfortunately we deal with horses and sometimes an element of luck can determine the outcome of a race. For instance, racing generally should be based around handicapping. Handicapping is about establishing the ability of a horse. That is all determined by a handicapper who is human and could also make mistakes or have their hands tied by certain regulations which govern the rules of handicapping.

I have to follow the professional who makes the decision and who is right 95% of the time. But there are times I feel the handicapper has it wrong and therefore I have to use my own judgement. For example, the Assessment Plates are there to calculate the ability of all the runners. I feel the higher merit rated runners sometimes run below their best form and the weaker runners might finish closer than they should and get penalised accordingly.

Another factor to take into account is the type of horse he is racing with. People might think riding a horse is like driving a car. You have an accelerator, brake pedals and gears. Some horses don’t have a brake pedal while others are one paced and don’t have an accelerator. That’s where “horses for courses” comes into account and that is why some horses are more affected by wide draws than others.

For example last week I mentioned National Park was a good horse who is easy to ride while Hawwaam had a wide draw and tends to pull. So National Park, who is easy to ride jumped from No 1 draw and had the run of the race while Hawwaam, who had a wide draw and pulls, had to sit at the back of the field. As they both had the same merit rating they were handicapped to dead heat but the conditions made a difference. I am not making any predictions but if those two horses met again and the draws are reversed, it would probably change the result.

Today we run on the Turffontein Inside track and the draw is vital, especially in Race 1 over 1200m were we start right on the bend. The two horses who should fight it out are Towards The Sun and Chouette, but taking the draw into account Starlighttemptress could be the danger as she is drawn in pole position. The unknown horse is Boutique but she is having her first run, which is around the turn off a shocking draw. That will be very difficult to overcome.

Race 2 is an Assessment Plate and the best handicapped horse is Hero’s Honour. He did win over this distance last time and although weighted to win, the slight concern is 1600m on the Inside track. However, he should be too classy for the field as his danger is my ride, Return Flight, who is a three-year-old filly taking on a mature gelding.

Banker him in the BiPot.

Race 3 is a Maiden Plate over 1450m where a good draw is an advantage. The horse with that benefit is Chevron who is lightly raced and can improve although the horse with the best form is Over Sharing, but he has a bad draw. Include both in the Place Accumulator.

Race 4 is another plate race and the highest rating goes to my ride, Redberry Lane. Obviously she’s the horse to beat but the danger is Tamarina who is lightly raced and has won three out of five starts. For the PA put in both or banker either one. For the Pick 6 take the two as well as Being Fabulous.

Race 5 is a Maiden Plate with the main runners being Nimcha, Stalking and Mr Harrison.

Nimcha is the highest rated runner with a reasonable draw so he could be a PA banker. For the Pick 6 take those three with Verdi and Twice A Charmer.

I ride Toastmaster who has been gelded but is coming off a three-month rest. I’m not sure what to expect.

Race 6 is a handicap over 2600m. For the PA include as many as possible and for the Pick 6 you will need just about the field. The two horses with the strongest form are The Sash and Long Pond but they are unknown over the distance so consider Live In Love, Seeking Gold and my ride Glamorous Scandal. When I rode her last time I thought the distance was too far and now we are going even further. Hopefully I’m wrong because she has placed over the distance.

The race does not stop there and you could quite easily include your fancies and be right as anything can win.

Race 7 is a plate race with Cascapedia the highest rated runner. She should be good enough to win but she raced in Cape Town a few weeks back and the travelling could take its toll. You could banker her in the PA or add the next best-weighted runner in Fort Ember or go with her as a banker.

For the Pick 6 the only other to include is Silver Thursday. She won well last time with the addition of blinkers but she was handicapped to win that day and therefore did not receive a penalty. This is a stronger field so she will find it much tougher.

I ride French Navy who has been battling to keep up with the pace so hopefully this 2000m could be beneficial.

Race 8 is a handicap where Captain Courteous, Shogun and D’ Arrivee all have the same form so for the PA go with any two of those and for the Pick 6 just add Hakeem.

Race 9 is a plate race where Aurelia Cotta is the best-handicapped runner. Unfortunately she comes from way back and this track might not be in her favour. Therefore include Dame Kelly in the PA. For the Pick 6 consider Mazari, Solemn Promise and lightly raced Princess Lomita who could improve, even though she’s just won a maiden.

Race 10 is handicap where I ride Jubilee Line. He has strong enough form to win with Varimax the danger. I have the advantage of No 1 draw but Jubilee Line sometimes plays up at the start and if he does, we could lose our advantage in a second. Varimax and King Of The Delta are the dangers.


Best Bet

R2: 1 Hero’s Honour

Value Bet

R3: 1 Over Sharing.

Thanks to Phumelela  

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