What started off fine turned into a mess though I think I have learnt something.

After an initial wobble of confidence, I felt good about backing Mister McGoldrick at the early 14/1 – the price shortened considerably. I didn’t realise that this was partly due to an early non-runner. In fact, by the time I got to the office the field of 12 had been reduced to just 5! The ground had dried out and that should have been a warning sign.

In the event, I went for a trifecta on the three longest priced – somewhat dumb as none of them featured as contenders on my odds line. The two which did came first and second, the winner being odds on and even the forecast very short.

Rather than just leave things for the day, I watched the 3-45 at Haydock, a race I had seen no value in from the early prices but now spotted 17/2 for Brave Rebellion. I waited, hoping for 9s but the off was imminent and I took 8s. He ran poorly, a hold-up horse, and likewise another daft forecast bit the dust when an unfit Sanders Road tailed off. Chronically poor betting and made worse by the winner making all at 16/1.

What do I learn from it all? Firstly, when there is a last minute change in going and numerous withdrawals, take a step back and ask if you want still to be involved. The answer should be ‘no’. I felt I might be able to make an opportunistic profit with Tote forecasts in a reduced field but any forecasts need to be prepared in advance, just as any straight win bets. If the race changes, back off – there will be other chances.

Secondly, a bet must not only be based on the numbers but feeling as well – if you do not feel good about a bet don’t make it. The feeling is most likely right, based as it is on accumulated memeory of patterns and already-seen scenarios. The best bets feel correct. Bet only of you will be satisfied whatever the outcome – winners take care of themselves, your job is to take care of the bets.

Thirdly, Haydock appeared to favour front-runners – is this a fact about the course worth noting? I believe Ascot during the summer is the same.

Fourthly and most interestingly, how come Ela Re made all to win well and at a price? And how did I come to rule her out? I looked again at the form and admit to making a basic error – she was a contender on class and recent form. Moreover, the change in distance should have sounded positive warning bells. Previously a prolific winner over 2 miles, this race was 2m 5f. Why such a leap in distance? A winning trainer wouldn’t do that for fun and it appears now to have been a classic scenario and one to note for the future: any significant change in distance, going or class relative to good recent form and by a trainer in form is a positive sign. And what do we see here? Ela Re running 5f further than previous wins and with a class drop! Classic! It also helps to check the previous form if there is a suspicion – Ela Re’s run over this distance on 25 Jan 05 was reported thus by the RP:

Worries about any lack of pace were dispelled when Ela Re anticipated the start and took a 10-length lead which he did not look like yielding for a long way. As his form is on a sounder surface, this was an eyecatching run aided by a steady slippage in rating, although the overall form is suspect.

In other words, the signs were there….

I will start a database now of trainers who do this – next time, I will be watching and make up for Saturday’s oversight. For now, a couple of days to clear my head and start afresh on Wednesday. The resolution, apart from to learn from these mistakes, is to make fewer poor bets.