Kempton 3-40
Royaleety 7/4 4
Laredo Sound 9/2 9/2
Mendo 6 12
Shannon Springs 9 12
Owlesbury Dream 10 16

First day back, full of good resolutions and a nice couple of Class 3 races at Kempton. I may look at the later race sometime but for now the 3-40 presents a mild dilema; the longest price value rule means Owlesbury Dream is the bet but I have chosen to go with Mendo, 12/1 at Ladbrokes. Distance, going and class explain his recent form figures and 12/1 is surely value – indeed, without Owlesbury there would be no question. Is Owlesbury genuine value then? Just, a borderline case though – I may have erred on the side of optimism in which case Owlesbury is more likely 11s or even 12s. Either way, the discrepancy would not be sufficient. At 20s, sure, otherwise I feel this is not a major misdemeanour. Basically, she is the outsider of the odds range so could conceivably not make the cut oddswise.

Let’s see what happens – if she wins I will be more convinced of the ‘longest-priced’ rule as an actual rule, if not then some leeway will remain. It’s not ideal given that I kept in mind, during the form reading and scoring, that any horse getting a score (i.e. remaining a contender) would be a bet at the right price.

Of course, there can always be more than one value horse in a race so Mendo remains value anyway – it’s just the thought of a 16/1 payout :-)

Incidentally, a copy of Quinn’s ‘Recreational Handicapping’ arrived yesterday. The Americans are light years ahead of the British in this game – published in 1990 it pains me to think that I have only now read what he has to say on value. Basically, it’s exactly what I have arrived at myself (the hard way). Never bet underlays, for one thing. The whole realm of exotics beckoning to ‘pay boxcars’ (my expression of the week now :-)) In short, I am in the wrong country when it comes to true individualistic entrepreneurship, yet, irritatingly, in the right place for betting opportunities – in the US I don’t think you can take a price, just the pari-mutuel pool odds, unknown before the off. If you can make it pay under those conditions, we should be laughing here in backward old Blighty.

Furthermore, is this an an omen? On an impulse I picked up a couple of old photo albums from the secondhand store here. A bit sad, I thought, that someone had clearly been on the holiday of a lifetime to the USA in 1989 and gone to the trouble of collecting the whole thing in a scrapbook – postcards, photos, entry tickets, even flight tickets and bording passes. It looked as if they had then died and the collection was sadly part of a house clearance. Anyway, the ‘omen’ was my finding two $1 bills tucked in there. Given my longheld wish to go to the ‘Land of the Free’, I shall put them towards the fare.

Post-race: That was a good bet to start the week! Mendu came second at 13/2 and looked the winner at the last but for Earth Dream making rapid headway to finish several lengths in front – I had dismissed him in my assessment after some thought though he would not have been a bet at the 11/2 SP. I am very pleased with this play as it came as the result of careful form reading and a nicely constructed odds line, plus the decision to back the longest-priced value and without reference to the forecast line. My decision to make the cut-off before Owlesbury Dream was vindicated – she came 10th at 20/1, but I have to confess to some woolly thinking in the form of a small CSF with Mendo to beat Owlesbury. I have to work out and assimilate a proper (that is, consistent) exotics strategy – no more forecast bets until that’s worked out – the straight win singles should keep me happy for now :-)

Reading James Quinn I am reminded of his distinction between selections and decisions. He went into this in his hi-tech handicapping book from the 1980s (now a neat read for it’s retro feel and predictive accuracy in this age of online form and betting.) He mellows somewhat in the Recreational book, in that selections are recommended in some instances e.g. when there is a clear most likely winner and it’s odds are acceptable i.e. an overlay. I will bear that in mind but tend towards the decision approach, of which today’s bet was a nice example – I decided on the odds range and backed the longest-priced.

I didn’t look at the 4-10 but maybe should have done as Green Gamble made all at odds of 16/1. I can’t say I would have backed him but make a note that 7 runner fields can also be a source of value (or at least longer priced winners.)

Nothing of sufficient quality tomorrow so a rest before the weekend (which apparently starts Thursdays :-))