Changing Seasons Flat To The Jumps
This is the time of year that racing starts to switch main codes from the flat turf season to the jump season and these changes can make it more difficult to take the form of the horses at face value.
The weather and the going.
As the flat season nears to an end the weather can change quite dramatically over a short period of time and go from dry and sunny to wet and rainy and this obviously has an impact on the going. Horses now running on this worse going have form figures that in the main will be from races run on good or faster ground so you have to be aware of this.
This will be the same for horses that have been running through the summer jumping campaign again with form shown on decent ground now running on softer conditions. There are a lot of trainers who will only run their summer jumpers when the going is good or firmer but there will be horses who will be run on both so again be aware of this when making selections.
If the weather has not had any dramatic changes and the jump season gets going in earnest there will be trainers who are expecting bad conditions for their horses but will still run their horses never the less, so again watch for those who maybe don’t have any form on better ground.
There will also be a lot of flat horses who do run particularly well on softer going and whilst these have been running badly during the summer months, their handicap marks will have been reduced over the season and you will see lots of winners with form figures of say 907006 for example, coming in at 10/1, 20/1 and bigger. Not so much a surprise as simply a well handicapped horse now getting its preferred conditions. Find one or two of these and it can change your whole years betting around from loss into profit!
As I write this piece I look out of my office window at home and see that the sun is shining and it is forecast to be around 19 degrees today in the South of England and we are in the last week of October! This suggests that the weather does not conform to what we may consider the norm these days and whilst we have had some rain recently here, it is worth noting how different the weather can be in different parts of the British Isles on just one day.
So regarding horses who prefer the softer conditions, you may think that it is bright and sunny, so not ideal for a particular horse who is only running fifty or so miles away from where you are but the weather could be very different indeed so what I am saying is make sure you know what the likely conditions are going to be at the course in question, don’t just look out of the window and presume you know!
Some afternoons I can see the bad weather come down the country as I am watching the racing! Pouring with rain at Leicester and beautiful at Brighton but by the last race on the south coast, the going is changed from good to firm to heavy! Maybe that is slightly extreme but you know what I mean. The going can change and be different as the weather improves or worsens as it moves around these glorious isles of ours so be aware of this if you can.
Number of runs/days off the course.
Many flat horses at this time of the year will have had plenty of runs already and as the seasons change are just starting to go over the top and are ready for a break. If a horse has had 10 or more tough races at this time, it may be worth overlooking especially if they are not particularly well handicapped either.
There will be those who have only been lightly raced of course and these may still be fit and ready to win, many of whom who have not been campaigned so heavily as their trainers wait until their preferred going of softer or worse.
For the jumpers it may be a case of fitness and a lot of horses need one, two or three races under their belts before showing any decent or winning form. It may not be quite as much a case these days as training methods have improved dramatically regarding fitness but it still can be an issue, so whilst a hot favourite looks likely to win despite not running for eight months or more, it is still worth looking at the horses win record to see how long it normally likes to have in between runs.
Some horses only win after a recent run, some run very well fresh after a break and some only win on their first run of the season every year and are well worth looking out for. However those that need a few runs and are starting at a short price can be worth taking on with something that has had a run or two and can be backed at a much better price.
It is also worth listening to what trainers say about their runners, either on television or in the press as they are often heard suggesting that a horse will need the run and this can be taken as the horse not being spot on and ready today. It will most likely be trying its best but its best will probably not be good enough to win.
For the jump season and certainly the better class of runners, everything points to Cheltenham in March and some trainers will take the same race route for this years horses with a chance of running at the top meeting, as they have done before with previous horses.
A trainer who aims for a certain Cheltenham race every year, may never have the horses fit and ready to win until their last prep race before the big one, or perhaps he always gives them two runs at the start of the season when they never win, then rests until February for one more run before getting them spot on for March.
So you may be able to see when to bet these horses as they run through the season and when to bet against what is likely to be a short priced favourite if it is well known it will be heading for Cheltenham and is trained by one of the top yards..