Second sight, necromancy & black magic....

Last Updated: 10.01.2017

Tuesday, 10th January 2017

Second sight, necromancy & black magic….

It appears that clairvoyance is not the dead art I believed it to be….

It seems that second sight, necromancy and all manner of black magic are being put to much productive use within the race-tipping fraternity….

News reached me yesterday – thanks to all those who got in touch to put me right – that several tipsters, forum-users and witch doctors had clearer crystal balls than I when it came to calling Saturday’s Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Sandown….

They did what I couldn’t. They made a case for Pete The Feat. And they were rewarded at prices ranging from 20s to 33s.

Of course, I tip my flat cap in their general direction. I must bow to and accept reality. Charlie Longsdon’s 13-year-old won the day.

But even now, 72-hours-later and with the result fixed in my mind, I still can’t look at the horse as a betting proposition….

  • Good points well made….

This subject has ignited some debate within the ATC readership….

A fair few readers took to the keyboard yesterday to share their thoughts and observations. And some good points were made about Pete The Feat and the case for him pre-race….

DD reminds us that the horse had dropped to an official mark of 124. And that only last February, off a mark some 6lbs higher, he’d finished 2nd in a decent race to Sandown specialist Le Reve over Saturday’s course and distance….

TL makes the point that Saturday’s race had been Charlie Longsdon’s main target for the horse since the start of the season and that he was always likely to be fully primed for the assignment….

BA draws our attention to the specific time of the year and highlights Pete The Feat’s record in chases in the month of January – one that reads 3123341. ‘It seems to be the time of year when he finds form.’

Of course, all these cases look rock-solid and watertight this morning – 3 days after they were proven to be prescient in the extreme. This morning Pete The Feat will look like a knocking good bet to many observers.

But that wasn’t how he looked to me on Friday morning. And it isn’t how the horse would look to me this morning if I were to be looking at the race all over again.

  • I’m always going to miss a winner like Pete The Feat….

I guess the bottom line is that I’m not a punter who takes too many chances on horses suddenly bouncing back from a sequence of poor efforts. I’m always going to miss a winner like Pete The Feat.

When a horse is beaten 42 lengths, 58 lengths and 33 lengths in its last three races, that is an out-of-form or unfit horse in my book. Either that, or something is wrong.

Sure, horses get beaten and you can make excuses for them. Sometimes things go wrong in individual races. But consistent margins of defeat like those Pete The Feat experienced in his last 3 runs tell me the horse wasn’t quite at the races.

The 12-month-old Sandown form and the overall record in January are both interesting points. I can’t argue with them. But they are based on what happened in the past – rather than what had been happening more recently.

Charlie Longsdon may well have had intentions for the horse. But an intention is not a guarantee. Setting the target does not mean it will be hit. Or that the arrow will be flying straight and true when it is fired.

The horse had been well-beaten in its last 3 runs – thrashed you might say. Longsdon himself had been well out of form with just a single winner from his last 52 runners heading into the weekend….

Tipsters and punters picking and betting Pete The Feat on Saturday were entirely reliant on a complete transformation in the fortunes of both horse and trainer….

Fair enough the unlikeliness and the doubt were fully factored into the price. And, hats off, the transformation did occur.

I don’t know how. Very much more often than is not, such transformations cannot be relied upon. They are the exception as opposed to the rule. Betting shops are littered with punters who never have and never will make the connection.

Longsdon himself could offer no explanation for such a stunning turnaround when called to the stewards’ room on Saturday afternoon.

We must attribute the transformation in the horse’s fortunes to an act of God. Or maybe it Longsdon who is practicing some dark and magical art back at his Oxfordshire base?

As with most of the mysteries in life, we will probably never know for sure….

  • The last word…. 

Fancy tickets for Haydock on Saturday 21st January?  The highlights on the card are the Champion Hurdle Trial and the Peter Marsh Chase….

The Daily Express has VIP tickets with hospitality and a £100 free bet (courtesy of Stan James) up for grabs.

All you need to do is figure out which year Rooster Booster won the Champion Hurdle Trial at the track. Was it A) 2001; B) 2003; or C) 2004?

Send your answer, name, address and daytime telephone number to: sport.sunday@express.co.uk.

You can get all the relevant lowdown right here. And if you don’t know the answer to the question, my advice is to go with option C) 2004

That’s all from me for today. More tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd