Monday, August 12, 2019

Portrait of a Yankee

As any regular punter will tell you, a Yankee is a relatively cheap and very speculative bet. You select four horses and back them in a series of doubles, trebles, and an accumulator. For a small outlay you can get a very large return if all four horses win. But there’s the rub – you have to select four winners in a day. This is a task beyond most professionals and one with which even the great Barney Curley struggled in his day. However, you often get a couple of winners and if you back them each way, as I always do, you frequently get all of them placed and make a few bob. But occasionally you do strike gold – I’ve done so five or six times over the years. However, last Saturday was the best result I ever had because of the size of my outlay and the long prices of two of my four selections. Here’s a quick account of my thoughts beforehand and the consequent action. You’ll note reading this that it’s almost impossible to avoid racing journalist cliches when writing about horses. I’ve tried but failed.

The four horse I selected last Saturday were Mikmak, Indianapolis, Power of Darkness and Victory Day. My thought processes on the four were as follows:

Mikmak: He ran well at Thirsk last time when he hit the front too soon and was caught close home. He loves soft ground and is down to a weight that he’s won at. Also, he did well this time last year. My only negative was that he’s trained by Tim Easterby – a trainer whose horses run erratically, very often not living up to recent form. I rarely back him because of this. However the 12-1 on offer seemed very high so I went ahead. This was by far the most speculative of my selections. In a very competitive race, he ran on stronger than his stable-companion and won by a neck. The ball was rolling.

Indianapolis:  He’s trained by James Given – a small trainer whose horses, unlike Easterby’s, run consistently and often overachieve. Indianapolis had been running well in better races than his rivals but because Given is an unfashionable trainer he was on offer at a very generous 7-1. He was drawn very wide and for much of the race seemed to have too much to do. However he came with a strong late run and got up in the last few strides – my heart going pitter-patter the while. Two up and two favorites to come.

Power of Darkness:  This horse had won his previous race comfortably and was overall a lightly-raced horse who looked to have a lot of potential. He was favourite but the 11-4 on offer seemed generous. His trainer was Marcus Tregoning who doesn’t mess around. He raced at the rear for most of the mile and two furlongs out he picked up and won comfortably. Three out of four in the bag.

Victory Day:  My final selection, and the linch-pin of my Yankee, was trained by William Haggas – another reliable trainer who knows how to land a big race. He had been beaten narrowly in a much superior quality race at York previously and was a strong 7-4 favourite. My main concern before this race was his jockey – Jamie Spencer. He seems a very nice lad but has I feel an unfortunate tendency towards showboating. He likes to drop horses out and come with a late run to claim the spoils close home. This means that he frequently leaves things later than is wise – getting beaten on horse that should have won. Give me Sylvester de Sousa or Andrea Atzeni any day. Anyway as my heart beat faster  Spencer did the inevitable and dropped him out to near last – in a Six Furlong sprint. Fortunately when he eventually got him going a furlong out there was a large gap along the rails and he won comfortably by a length.

But don’t try this at home kids - it’s an occasional aligning of the stars in a chaotic world.