Tanya Stevenson
Tanya Stevenson's Racing UK Blog
Thursday 15th May 2014

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Not even the York sun could tempt out the layers

Bathed in sunshine:

I have had my first Frappuccino of the year!  It was boiling on the Knavesmire and en route to the course on Thursday I’ll be popping into the supermarket to purchase the sun cream. 

Temperatures are set to rise and the ground was drying out rapidly all through Wednesday. 

All in time for True Story to take his chance in the Betfred Dante Stakes. I wouldn’t dismiss Arod too easily, however.  I loved his Windsor performance, it’s just the manner of True Story’s Newmarket’s victory resonates with me and I hope there is more to come.

The one niggling factor is his behaviour upon stalls entry at Newmarket. Fingers crossed there is no repeat of that at York.  Also it’s a hot day, plenty of people, colour and noise, which are all things he has yet to encounter on a scale that York promises.  It will be a good test though ahead of the bubbling cauldron of excitement and anticipation that is Epsom. 

Ahead of that we see some very talented fillies in the Middleton Stakes. Just who is going to take home the prize is a difficult puzzle. I’m going to go for Thistle Bird.  I think I’m hinting at a return to form as I tipped Baccarat on Wednesday and he put in a storming run.  He was going well until I looked up, having taken down the starting prices.   

Bookmaker numbers drop alarmingly:

According to past records two years ago, 105 bookmakers attended the first day of the Dante meeting at York. Last year that figure apparently dropped to 69. If that is correct the alarm bells should have sounded a long time ago. In fact it should have been a deafening siren. 

For me a healthy industry can be judged in part by a thriving betting ring.  Today there were 61 bookmakers, 21 on the rails and 40 in the main Tattersalls enclosure.  Perhaps not included in final calculations last year were the number in the centre of the course, which on Wednesday totalled 23.  Still 105 in 2012 to 84 on a glorious sunny day is not great.

Add to the scenario there were many bookmakers with more than one pitch on course.  FairBet had two, Geraghty Racing had two, John Hughes had two, Keith Johnson had three, Paul Johnson had two.  So that’s another six pitches you can subtract from the total. 

Now the York betting ring was easily absorbing more money than the three days at Chester put together, or indeed any normal Monday to Friday collection of meetings. 

When a substantial wager comes in the ring seems to digest it rather than panic and give a knee-jerk reaction.  A £200 each-way wager at 33-1 on Tahira was the first bet laid for one of the on-course bookmakers, yet the 33-1 remained on his board. 

There may well be the observation that it was probably bigger on the exchanges and it would only have been shoved straight on there.  However, for the bookmaker in question it would be highly unlikely, instead he just waited for the next stream of wagers. 

I witnessed a man have a £300 win on Valbchek in the sprint and smiled inwardly when the 20-1 shone even brighter.  Earlier in the day the office money could only shorten Rye House a point from 5-1 to 4-1. I know that’s enough, but anywhere else the sort of money going on would have moved the horse to 3-1 or even 5-2.

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Wednesday’s racing:

The Musidora Stakes sprung more questions than it answered. First of all it was hard to get your head round the price of Cambridge. 

Here was a filly who was 10-1 for the Investec Oaks, yet for the Group 3 Musidora at times she wasn’t even favourite, in fact she was still as big as 11-2 as the last couple went in to the stalls. Just 50+ bookmakers were offering 9-2. The rare few offering 11-2 were proper bookmakers, and in their opinion they just didn’t fancy her or couldn’t lay her.  In scenarios such as those when bookmakers chase after a horse it acts as a deterrent for us all having a bet. They are then left with very low turnover.

Madame Chiang sprung a surprise in the race, which is not often said about an 8-1 winner but from being 50-1 for the Oaks beforehand she was soon quoted between 10-1 and 20-1 for Epsom.  

The real fallout from the Musidora was that Taghrooda shortened, with the 5-2 disappearing in the blink of an eye. Before you knew it she was 7-4!

Earlier in the day in Saint-Cloud, Shamkala made her own mark in a very slowly-run race. She was long odds-on to win, but at present there is no real conviction for her to come to Epsom - before the race she was 14-1 for the Oaks.  If plans change I believe her form merits her to be a solid second favourite.

Bookmakers PR reps are on my case the whole time – it is fantastic and it builds the atmosphere and expectation on a day.

My favourite quote just for the enterprise and amusement was that from BetVictor; 66-1 Clever Cookie, the winner of the extended 10-furlong handicap, for the Champion Hurdle.

Pure genius. 

Quinnbet

Tanya Stevenson’s Thursday tip:

2.15 York: Thistle Bird at 7-2 with BetVictor

Tanya Stevenson's Thursday pointers:

1.45 York:

No favourite has won any of the six runnings although the market leader has managed two thirds and a second

The six winners have all been drawn in single figures

2.15 York:

Seven of the last ten favourites have won the Middleton Stakes

Nine of the last ten winners have come from the first two in the betting

Eight of the last ten winners have been trained in Newmarket

Eight of the last ten winners finished no worse than third on their previous start

Eight of the last ten winners finished ran in a group race on their previous start

2.45 York - Dante Stakes:

Seven of the last ten had won on their most recent start

Seventeen of the last 20 had finished first or second on their last start

3.15 York:

Seven of the last nine winners came from the first three in the betting

Eight last nine winners were single figure starting prices

Navajo Chief has run nine times at York resulting in three wins and three places