Eddie Wood continues his fascinating series about how altitude can help find winners at British race courses
Continuing his series about the characteristics of British courses
Following on from last month, we have the rest of the Flat courses from Leicester to York. Once again, I must stress the importance of our racecourse configurations. All races are influenced by many factors and again the bet-wise, course-wise, draw-wise and horse-wise content will inform your betting and lead to increased profitability. My findings on altitude combined with these variables have lately given me several winners which, without the altitude factor, I would not have backed. The altitude factor’s impact on results is often missed by most racegoers and professionals alike.
LEICESTER (LEICESTERSHIRE) - ALTITUDE 90 METRES
BET-WISE: the Barron/Ben Curtis combination have a high win strike-rate here.
COURSE-WISE: this is right-handed oval circuit of nearly 14f, with a long run-in of just over 4½f. There is also a straight mile course on which all races up to that distance are run. It is downhill to half-way then rises for 2f before finishing on the level. DRAW-WISE: low numbers have an advantage in races up to a mile, more so in testing conditions.It is equally important that a prominent position is found in the early stages of any race. High-drawn horses are favoured on the straight course over 5-7f. HORSE-WISE: early season 2yo’s can find this a real stamina test.The outright galloper is ideally suited to this track.
LINGFIELD (TURF) (SURREY) – ALTITUDE 50 METRES
BET-WISE: the horses from the stables of Clifford Lines and Kristin Stubbs should always be closely scrutinised here.
COURSE-WISE: the track has an extended 7f straight with a left-handed loop. It leaves the straight 1½f out and returns for 4f out.The round course is flat for the first half, then rises gradually and falls to the home straight, continuing downhill thereafter. This section of the course prompts comparisons with Epsom. The straight course first runs sharply downhill, becoming shallower after passing the round course. The emphasis is on speed and adaptability and the round course does not test stamina so much as balance and agility. DRAW-WISE: high numbers tend to have an advantage on the straight course, more so when the stalls are on the stand side.
MUSSELBURGH (EAST LOTHIAN) – ALTITUDE 6 METRES
BET-WISE: Connor Beasley’s mounts require more than a second glance, especially those trained by Keith Dalgleish.
COURSE-WISE: the track is a righthanded oval measuring just under 1¼m with a ½m run-in. There is a straight 5f course and the track is flat with a few undulations and a gentle rise from the distance to the winning post. However, the bends are sharp especially the one into the straight. DRAW-WISE: when the stalls are on the stands side, low numbers have a major advantage in 5f races and high numbers when the stalls are on the far side. In all other races, high numbers retain the advantage.On the round course, low-drawn prominent horses are often best. HORSE-WISE: the striding galloper is at a disadvantage on this course.
NEWBURY (BERKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 81 METRES
BET-WISE: apprentice Georgia Cox rides this course as well as most senior jockeys. John Gosden and William Haggas have around a 40% strike-rate in particular race categories here; Gosden in group/listed races and Haggas in 3yo plus handicaps. COURSE-WISE: the round course comprises a left-handed oval of 15f, with a long 5f run-in. There is a straight mile which is slightly undulating throughout and races on the round mile course start on a separate extension. This is an essentially flat track with easy bends.
DRAW-WISE: low numbers are slightly favoured on the round course; high numbers are favoured on the straight course when the ground is soft or heavy. In other ground conditions, middle to low drawn horses are favoured. HORSE-WISE: Newbury is an excellent course to introduce a 2yo. It is great for the long-striding stayer but not a track for horses lacking in stamina.
NEWMARKET( JULY) (SUFFOLK) – ALTITUDE 33 METRES
BET-WISE: whether it is autumn, spring or
summer, the record for favourites will rarely pass the 33% mark; think seriously about backing them. COURSE-WISE: the July track is just over 2m in total and shares the Cesarewitch course for the first mile. The straight bunbury mile has undulations for the first 6f before running downhill into a dip, then uphill to the finish. DRAW-WISE: Low-drawn horses appear to have a slight advantage.
HORSE-WISE: like the Rowley course, this suits long-striding horses and will find any lacking in stamina as it has a testing finish.
NEWMARKET (ROWLEY) (SUFFOLK) – ALTITUDE 33 METRES
BET-WISE: always consider any John Gosden horse who is having his first run after being gelded. He has around a 25% strike-rate in most seasons. The stats are more favourable for Hugo Palmer when his charges wear first-time blinkers at around the 40% mark. COURSE-WISE: the Cesarewitch course is 2¼m in extent with a right-handed bend after a mile.The last 1¼m is straight across to the Flat. There are undulations for the first mile of the straight then the course runs downhill into the dip and uphill to the finish. It is a very wide track and this can be a daunting experience for a thoroughbred. DRAW
WISE: there is an occasional fluctuating advantage for either high or low numbers in big fields. Prominent horses drawn on either rail are often favoured whereas lowdrawn prominent racers appear to be favoured with the stalls on the far side.
HORSE-WISE: Newmarket (Rowley) favours the long-striding horse but the testing finish will challenge those with suspect stamina.
NOTTINGHAM (NOTTINGHAMSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 23 METRES
BET-WISE: any Clive Cox runner ridden by Adam Kirby is worthy of a second look, as are any runners ridden by Andrew Mullen for Tom Tate. COURSE-WISE: this is a left-handed oval of about 2½m with a 4½f run-in. There is also a straight 6f course which serves as a start for races of 2m or more. Both courses are completely flat with easy bends. DRAW-WISE: when the stalls are on the far side, low numbers are favoured although soft ground cancels out any advantage. High numbers are preferred in sprints when the stalls are on the stand side, more so in soft going. HORSE
WISE: the course is well-suited to the long-striding horse and is an excellent place to introduce a two-year-old.
PONTEFRACT (WEST YORKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 35 METRES
BET-WISE: any Richard Hannon runner wearing cheekpieces requires serious consideration. COURSE-WISE: this track is an oval left-hander and at just over 2m. It is the longest flat track in the country despite having a short run-in of barely 2f. There is no straight course and the bend into the short straight is sharp. There are many gradients and undulations, culminating in an uphill climb to the finish for the last 3f. DRAW-WISE: a low number in the sprints is an advantage if the horse breaks smartly. Otherwise, as the runners move across the rail before the bend and the short run-in, it can be a disadvantage. Over 1m-2f, low numbers are especially favoured. HORSE-WISE: long-striding types are at a disadvantage.
REDCAR (NORTH YORKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 11 METRES
BET-WISE: Michael Bell and Kevin Ryan’s horses in 2yo non-handicap races should be closely scrutinized. They both have a 50% plus strike-rate on this course.
COURSE-WISE: the track is a left-handed oval measuring approximately 1¾m ,with a long 5f run-in. This is part of the straight mile course and all races of up to a mile take place on this extension. Despite being somewhat narrow, the track is perfectly flat throughout with easy bends.
DRAW-WISE: high numbers have a definitive advantage over five and six furlongs. No obvious bias this year.
HORSE-WISE: galloping types are very much at an advantage.
RIPON (NORTH YORKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 20 METRES
BET-WISE: never let a runner in a 3yo handicap escape your attention if it is from Marjorie Fife’s stable or from the yards of David O’Meara or Richard Whittaker. Whilst Bryan Smart’s older handicappers do well, you can swerve those contesting in 3yo handicaps. This is also the case with John Quinn’s yard. COURSE-WISE: the track is a sharp oval circuit of 13f with a 5f run-in. There is also a straight 6f course which is pretty much uphill all the way, apart from one small dip a furlong out.
DRAW-WISE: low numbers enjoy the advantage in 5 and 6f races when the stalls are on the stand side. Middle to highdrawn horses are preferred in sprints in fields 13 runners or less. In larger field sizes where the runners often split into two groups, low-drawn horses come into the mix. High numbers have the call in races over a mile. HORSE-WISE: agile, adaptable types are suited to the Ripon track and long-striding horses are somewhat unsuited to it. There are several other slight undulations and the sharp bends make this a track for the agile, adaptable type. Gallopers often become unbalanced turning into the straight.
SALISBURY (WILTSHIRE) - ALTITUDE 128 METRES
BET-WISE: Serve any runners from the stables of Mark Johnston and David O’Meara wearing first-time blinkers.
COURSE-WISE: Salisbury is almost a straight course of almost 1m long. It is uphill all the way and has a notorious dogleg about 5f from home. Longer races use a sharp right-hand loop which runs away downhill from the main track, before climbing again to re-join it about 6½f from home. Although there are only minor surface undulations, the last 3f are uphill and it becomes a very testing track when the ground is soft. It is essentially a galloping course. DRAW-WISE: middle to high draws seem best up to one mile.
SANDOWN (SURREY) – ALTITUDE 25 METRES
BET-WISE: Michael Stoute’s handicappers are always worth scrutiny. Stewart Kittow has sent three 3yo handicappers to this course and has won with two of them. Chris Wall also has a good record in this same race category; the 40% plus mark in most seasons. COURSE-WISE: this is a right-handed oval course of 13f, with a still 4f run-in. It is steady uphill until near the finish where it levels out.The back stretch is level and there are no surface undulations to throw the long-striding horse off balance. There is also a straight 5f course bisecting the round course, uphill all the way. Long-striding gallopers are very much at home here, but being unable to see out the trip is of the upmost importance, more so when the going is soft or worse. DRAW-WISE: low-draws are best in sprints. HORSE-WISE: many jockeys make the mistake of starting their challenge too early, only to run out of steam in the last one hundred yards or so.
THIRSK (NORTH YORKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 37 METRES
BET-WISE: Michael Appleby and John Holt have excellent records in 3yo handicaps. Swerve any Tim Easterby horse in 3yo plus stakes races. COURSE-WISE: the track is a left-handed oval of 10f with a 4f run-in. There is also a straight 6f course
which is also used to start long distance races. The straight is slightly undulating, while the round course is pretty much flat throughout. DRAW-WISE: in sprints, high-drawn horses are best. HORSE
WISE: Despite the easy turns, the track is on the sharp side and long-striding gallopers seldom have time to settle into their stride.
WETHERBY (YORKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 26 METRES
BET-WISE: in 3yo plus handicaps, Eric Alston’s runners are worth respect. The David O’Meara/Philip Makin combination should always be seriously considered as should David Brown’s 3yo handicappers.
COURSE-WISE: Wetherby is a lefthanded and principally galloping track. It is 1m4f in circumference with a 4f slightly uphill straight. DRAW-WISE: at the moment, there is insufficient information for me to be definitive in this area.
HORSE-WISE: one of my favourite trainers of all time is Les Eyre and when his charges sport first-time blinkers, especially a hood, they can be seriously considered.
WINDSOR (BERKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 20 METRES
BET-WISE: in 3yo plus handicaps, runners from the Rod Millman and Ed Walker stables should be seriously scrutinized for both sport around a 60% strike-rate.
COURSE-WISE: Windsor has a unique and idiosyncratic figure-of-eight layout of 12½f. In races of 1¼m or more, both right and left-handed turns are encountered, while one only meets the former over shorter distances.5 and 6f races start on an extension but there is no straight course as such since there is slight right-hand bend 3f from home. The course is perfectly flat throughout. DRAW-WISE: middle-to-high drawn horses are favoured in big field, 6f handicaps. HORSE-WISE: whilst the bends seem to favour sharp types, the turns are easy and the 5f run-in gives the galloper plenty of time to act. Any horse wearing first-time blinkers from the Gary Moore stable is worth a second look. YARMOUTH (NORFOLK) – ALTITUDE 1 METRE BET-WISE: when Owen Burrows engages Jim Crowley to ride his runners, you should register some interest as well as those from the David Simcock stable ridden by Martin Harley. COURSE-WISE: the round course is a narrow left-hander measuring about 13f with a run-in of 5f. There is also a straight mile course which joins the main track just after the home turn.The bends are easy and, apart from a slight dip on the final bend, the track is level throughout. There are seldom extremes of going here and large fields are rare on this narrow track.It is a very fair test of the thoroughbred, especially twoyear-olds. DRAW-WISE: high numbers are best on the straight course, especially when the ground is on the soft side. Low-drawn horses are moderately preferred on the straight course HORSE-WISE: you should always seriously consider any Dean Ivory horse wearing cheekpieces.
YORK( YORKSHIRE) – ALTITUDE 17 METRES
BET-WISE: any Luca Cumani 2yo is worth more than a second glance, as are the 2yo from William Haggas’ stable. David C. Griffith’s handicappers show results with a 25% win strike-rate. COURSE-WISE: the track is a wide, almost perfectly flat Ushaped left-hander. It is 2m in extent with a 5f run-in. There is a straight 6f course and 7f races start on a spur off the home turn. It has easy bends and no surface undulations. DRAW-WISE: middle to low drawn horses fair best in sprint races, particularly on soft going. HORSE-WISE: The great width makes this a course suited to the long-striding galloper, but no type is unreasonably favoured, and it is probably the fairest course in the country.
In the next two months, we continue with the key characteristics of the allweather and National Hunt courses. Until then, take care and good investing.