The Carnival continues apace, and we might not see too many of the big guns between now and Super Saturday, but plenty exciting fare still on show.

Just a 'stat for starters'. Charlie Appleby's last nine runners over the last two Thursdays have been beaten over 192 lengths. Ouch. Last year they all fell away after first runs, and the pattern is in danger of repeating. Safety Check did buck the trend earlier this month by doubling up, but precious little sign of positivity elsewhere.

TWO Carnival cards this week,and while I might not be able to produce a full blog for Saturday's card, will endeavour to preview a few of the races at least on here, so hopefully you'll look in - i do already have one strong fancy! 

AS EVER, BETS NEAR THE BOTTOM.

A few general thoughts on my betting in this entry, before this week's race by race preview. Do skip by all means if you want to jump to the chase! :)

Lots of kind comments last week, thanks for that. One or two criticisms  though, as well, of the blog. No problem whatever, but difficult to give a fair reply in 140 characters. One or two not liking an odds-on (albeit just, at 10/11) Nap in particular.

For what it's worth, my 2p on that topic. I'd say my betting strategy revolves around good and bad favourites, looking of course to take on what I consider bad ones. A Nap, to me, should be the horse I think most likely to win, of course an element of that is also determined by price, I appreciate the need for balance there. I'm unlikely to Nap what looks a cert at 2/9.

@progambler47 on twitter is an erstwhile Poker Champion and he tweeted he felt almost 'dirty' backing a 6/4 shot the other day, the lowest he'd backed, he said, in something like 30,000 wagers.Each to their own, but some do win, Tony!

The desire for value does seem ever more dominant in people's betting, and I'm all in with that. Price is often the dominant factor in any bet, though no two people have the same strategy, and i respect many very different approaches.

As one example, Dutching is widely popular. I rarely do it, as I feel I'm betting against myself, (as with backing two or more in one race, unless it's the Grand National or a huge field handicap for example) to me that displays uncertainty and therefore maybe it's better to leave the race alone. Another will be along in a few minutes, but fully understand why it can appeal to others.

In truth I probably have an average of 3-4 bets a day when i have a chance to look properly - and don't feel any urge to have a bet in the majority of races. Meydan though is my bread and butter through January and February, where many other days I might not have a bet atall, so it can be a few more.

That said, I think maybe sometimes it's possible to go too far down the line of opposing favourites, to the point where some end up opposing All favourites, sometimes just for the sake of it, thus missing some cracking good bets.

Favourites are there for a reason, they normally have an identifiable, decent chance. I only put up favourites if they fit a decent set of criteria, e.g. usually top rated vis-a-vis the weights, often class droppers, preferably should have a decent mix of track, trip and draw numbers. Speed figures, trainer form and jockey booking are other important considerations.
Depending on the price a punter probably needs 2 out of every 3 to win to turn a decent profit. Not easy but hence the strict (though never purely scientific) assessment.

I do my own tissue, so Cladocera last week i had in at 4/7 (went off 1/2); therefore 10/11 overnight looked, to me, a value bet. Happily both that and Hunter's Light, the two I put up, won fairly comfortably. Add in the PS, Forjatt, my third short priced pick last week, which won at 11/10, and so on this occasion we had 3/3.

Won't always be like that, of course, but the point i suppose is that favourites can also be value on occasion. 

If i find a 7/2 shot on my tissue, priced at 8/1 (as per Hunters Light a few weeks ago) then obviously it's 'sexier' and more can be made more quickly, but when I feel the time is right,  I'm happy to go with favourites still.

As it was last Thursday the one-a-race finished 2,4,1,3,1,4. Only Haatheq, 15 lengths behind at halfway and a short head fourth at the finish, missed the e/w money (field was down from 16 to 15). Found to be lame afterwards as well, the blog was that close to a profitable pick-up in all six races.

As I've said this is an amateur blog, and I'm always looking for ways to improve, so do keep the views coming! I mean that genuinely, constructive criticism is absolutely welcome.

26th FEB.

I'm swerving all Charlie Appleby runners because of my above stat, however if they have a successful day, at least will get the chance to reconsider for Saturday
A seven race card with a mix of relatively uncompetitive looking small fields, and big field near impossible handicaps.

6.15. 10F Turf

One of my eyecatchers of the Carnival thus far was FLYING THE FLAG (e/w) NB. Stayed on from the rear when wide and a never nearer sixth, beaten less than 3 lengths, behind Samurai Sword, over a mile. Has a Group Three win over 10f at the Curragh on his dance card and a return to that form should see this one go very close. I wouldn't read too much into the fact that Johnny Geroudis keeps the ride, while Christophe Soumillon has an outside ride.

Tha'ir is likely to be favourite having bounced back on turf last time and will be hard to beat,  He had Berling and Belgian Bill in second and third and I think can frank that form, but Mushreq threw in a rare stinker last time and has something to prove. The frustrating Validus is in good hands and showed some signs of form behind Umgiyo, but requires a leap of faith on the balance of his form.

5.05 7F Dirt

I can't tip the new kid on the Meydan block, Pazolini, even though is probably the most exciting horse in the race, because of the Charlie Appleby stat mentioned at the top of the article. At least this is a first time outer, where the stable stats are decent historically, but recency bias puts me off.

Several of the others tie in closely, either on form lines with each other, or through ReynaldotheWizard. Muannad might well try to nick it from the front, but there's a chance Pazolini will give him grief. Boomshackerlacker is 2lbs better with Muannad for about a length, but might be more effective at 6f, because despite a mile win in a Minor listed event in Frankfurt, the balance of form is at 6f, Colmar Kid has finished last on his last two starts, while none of Encipher, Mashaaref or Tamaathul are progressive., though at least Mashaaref is in solid form.

By process of elimination we come to SHAISHEE (NAP). A fine third to Faulkner on reappearance, then ran on turf in Safety Check's race, before being slowly away over 6f behind ReynaldotheWizard but not beaten far in the end.
The return to 7f looks sure to suit and i think he'll overturn the neck he was behind Boomshackerlacker there. Hopefully this is the day.

2.45 6F Dirt

Nawaar is 10lbs better in for about a 4 length beating by RAFEEJ over course and distance in December. The former has been kept busy with 4 runs since, running to a decent level mainly on turf, but is winless on the dirt and so the latter is preferred to frank the form, despite reportedly 'making a noise' last time, but on the dirt, i would imagine most horses make a noise!.
Strategical was a smart two year old but showed no signs of having trained on last season, so we'll keep it simple and give the vote to the selection.

OTHER RACES IN BRIEF. 

3.15 1 Mile Dirt

A race I won't be getting involved in, a non-Carnival event with three last time out dirt winners, while Mundahesh, who has winning form on the Tapeta here, looks as interesting as any of them with solid recent form not far behind the likes of Almoonqith and Fils Anges. However ONE MAN BAND is having a cracking season and would be a token suggestion in a race that makes no appeal.

3.55 9.5F Dirt

Last week with Cladocera I suggested that I feel it rarely pays to get clever in races which are basically re-runs of trials over similar conditions. Same here applies for me. The only one not to run in the race 21 days ago was Icecapada, and she was a long way behind LOCAL TIME, the winner, before that. Probably unbackable though. 

4.30 7f Turf

Another race where the majority of the 11 clashed 21 days ago, while the other three lack a recent outing. Mastermind, who had the run of the race out in front, was all out to hold the late challenge of Volatile. The latter is not an easy ride, but has the ability to just about turn the tables if getting away more on terms this time, but that's no guarantee.

The three without a recent run all demand a fair bit of guesswork, too much for my liking, though Tashbeeh in particular has been well talked up, and could bolt up, but this is not a race that appeals from a betting angle. If pushed, MASTERMIND e/w .would just about suffice.

5.40 1 Mile Turf

A cracking contest. Charlie Appleby having the two highest rated muddles the picture because of the aforementioned stable form, so Safety Check and Outstrip are both passed over. Anaerobio and Darwin both disappointed on latest start, so I think this might fall the way of one of the in-form horses. Dark Emerald is well worth a try at this level after two fine wins on last two starts, and Johann Strauss was reportedly given too much to do when just failing to reel in Ertijaal at Abu Dhabi, but the speculative vote goes to Hugo Palmer's SHORT SQUEEZE e/w.
 
An eyecatcher behind Safety Check, then just failed to reel in Samurai Sword last time, another in the given too much to do category. In a wide open contest he gets a very tentative e/w vote.

MAIN BETS. SINGLES, E/W TREBLE: First prices added.

2.45 Rafeej 7/4 Betfair Sportsbook
5.05 Shaishee NAP e/w 5/1 Paddy Power (Nice e/w shape to race, 8 runners, but keener on the win angle really!)
6.15 Flying the Flag e/w NB 7/1 Hills

Others, observations; One Man Band e/w, Local Time (likely to be unbackable), Mastermind e/w, Short Squeeze e/w.

PS:
No Selection this week with a second Carnival card on Saturday.

I will endeavour to produce an abbreviated blog for that card, but won't probably be able to do a preview for every race.

Happily, though, another winner for the (I'm told, popular!) feature last week, as Forjatt just got the better of Silver Galaxy (put up as the danger) in the Jebel Ali Mile. Think that form is worth following.
Muarrab won in a very very fast time, sadly an unbackable price though, as feared, and must be one for the end of season sprint, though the year younger Morawij is open to further improvement at 5f after a grand effort in second. 

And off the press, would you believe previous PS, Roi De Vitesse, has won in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday (no betting here sadly! ).

Thanks as ever for your time, do look in for Saturday's selection(s) this week :)