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The PHE and the PGA – Statistics only tell half the story

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup was the former Racing Correspondent of various BBC regional radio stations and was the gossip columnist on the now-defunct Odds On magazine. He now runs Nick Boyd's large, privately owned reputation, which is widely regarded as a sporting, not-for-profit endeavour.
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A reader writes that she is confused by my writing about “ball games”, and that “strokes in regulation” means nothing to her. I am much the same with equestrian tack, racing bridles and bits. The Triabit is in every sense a bit of a mouthful, (ED: Stop that immediately) and do not get me started on a Bungee Martingale. Anyway enough on the subject of marital aids and back to the marginally more important subject of golf.

A cracking start in the main for our selections in the USPGA, with 28/1 Jason Day holding a very narrow lead on Day 1 and the other selections all on par or under. A very healthy position, although the-winner-I-never-backed, Brooks Koepka,  remained a threat. Yesterday’s second round started to see various wheels come off the wagon, at about 2:00 am this morning. Shane Lowery managed to snap an iron, Day double-bogeyed and Xander Schauffele was busy trying to stay above the cut-line. Which brings us neatly to what is promising to be a great final two days. The current leader Li Haotong will crack, I think, in Round 3. He gets over-enthusiastic and over-confident. Tied 2nd we have Jason Day with the man you can’t shake off, Brooks Koepka. Those guys are not alone, however, with the chasing 2nd place pack also including Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood. That means we have three Brits (including Paul Casey) within 3 strokes of the leader. Outstanding. Our own selections mostly remain on the Leaderboard: Jason Day (-6) T2nd – Xander Schauffele (-4) T11th – Dustin Johnson (-4) T11th – Shane Lowery (E) T44th – Kevin Na missed cut. I think that’s a pretty healthy position going into the last 36 holes, with the potential for a late Sunday night.

Most of my golfing and betting selections are divined by studying statistics coupled with form. At it’s simplest one is saying that “He/She has done this three times before and played/run/hit/driven better than when he/she didn’t do whatever-it-was. Let’s see if we can make a case for them today, based on those performances.

This is by no means a perfect route to success, but it doesn’t appear to be as flawed as the mathematical models that PHE seem happy to dredge up. The figures PHE select often seem designed to create an impression of dedicated professionalism – “making busy” as my dear old nanny would say, whenever Mama was on the prowl. If PHE ran horseracing it would tell you that all horseraces are the same, in that there is a race, often several horses statistically, and a racecourse is always used. They wouldn’t mention weights, distance, ground, and any wooden objects in the way. But they would tell you that statistically there was a huge chance of catching a cold if you stood in the rain at Cheltenham, watching a 3m Chase in the lashing rain, with a wind-chill factor of -1, wearing a tee-shirt. Common sense might tell us that and we wouldn’t spend £200m on it.

Which is what PHE has spent on producing their statistic, that the overweight chap (me) is 25% more likely to die from COVID 19, than skinny Jorge, the Brazilian Barista from Benidorm. To put that into context, if the Mortality Rate is 5% of infected people and infected people are 0.05% of the population, then I think I have moved from 48-1 to 44-1. Except, of course, I’ve already had the Chinese Give-Away and didn’t die; I didn’t even spend the night in chokey, (I use the term advisedly). That makes me 95-1 against dying from C19 unless I get hit by a car driven by a 98yo man who has a coughing fit at the wheel, bought on by catching the damned thing at Madame ZouZou’s Oriental Massage Parlour. (OAP discount every Thursday – Hands-On to Help-Out Vouchers accepted).

Statistically, and sadly, that means another Tubby’s chances of keeling over has just increased exponentially. I hope not.

Waiter… one portion of cheesy Chips and a Pint of Bloody Mary, please. My life span just increased! Meanwhile, let’s find some winners to pay for it all…

1:50 ASCOT ITV Home Of Terrestrial Racing H’cap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 6f 10 runners

Andrew Balding’s CHIL CHIL and Richard Hannon’s THEOTHERSIDE both look capable of improving enough to take this. The latter won LTO at Newmarket with Will To Win and Hamish Macbeth both behind. There is nothing to suggest a reversal of that form is on the cards, but equally, it might not be good enough to keep CHIL CHIL at bay – especially with Oisin Murphy in the plate – who bought home 3 Balding favourites yesterday at Sandown. The form looks reliable and she’s fit and ready to kick on again. GRACEFUL MAGIC looks a perfect play for a Betfair Exchange punt. Back GRACEFUL MAGIC for 1 pt to win at around 36. Then place a Lay bet for 3 pts at 5.5. The hope is that this return to 6f will get this black-type girl, (½l 2nd to Rose of Kildaire in G3), back onto the podium. I would be surprised if she won, but my suggested bet guarantees a profit if I’m right.

CHIL CHIL win – GRACEFUL MAGIC Bet before off and then Lay in running (or very small e/w)

2:05 HAYDOCK BetVictor British EBF Dick Hern Stakes (Listed Race) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m 9 runners

You know you’re in trouble when you narrow a 9-runner field down to 3. I had ICONIC CHOICE as my first selection and then changed my mind and went for VERACIOUS, who has the best form in the race as reflected in her price, and finally FINAL SONG. This latter was 6th over 7f at Haydock on GS and received a bump in running and was the denied a clear run from over a furlong out. I suspect that her Royal Ascot possibly came a bit quick after the Guineas and I’m not convinced she likes, as opposed to handles cut, and back with her own sex in Listed company, her price looks wrong at 7s. I ‘d back her at 4s all day.

FINAL SONG e/w

2:25 ASCOT Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Celebration H’cap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-100) 1m 10 runners

GAME PLAYER has some limited appeal, but my selection is SHELIR who we recommended for The Buckingham Palace. He has now had four starts since joining David O’Meara from Dermot Weld and, while he hasn’t troubled the judge, keeps suggesting his time will come. Today is for my wallet at least, The Last Chance Saloon. It could be argued he was unlucky in the Buckingham Palace here in June, and then soft ground and 8f at Haydock didn’t suit and then back here for Thew International last month, once more arguably having no luck in running. Maybe better ground, a smaller field, less weight….

If that doesn’t excite you then HATEYA caught my eye at Goodwood when short of room 3f out. Cieren takes 3lbs off and that might be enough for a decent priced podium.

SHELIR win – HATEYA e/w

2:40 HAYDOCK BetVictor Rose Of Lancaster Stakes (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f 7 runners

GLOBAL GIANT should win this but as you know, odds-on shots have limited appeal for me.  The move to John Gosden has already paid dividends when winning and beating a couple of these at Newbury LTO. There is probably more to come – but this is a step up. ZAAKI is his main threat and is tried in cheekpieces for the first time but this might be a furlong too far – we just don’t know.The Balding horse with an Arc entry FOX TAL has some appeal at the odds, but Mick Channon’s CERTAIN LAD represents better value for the e/w bet. His 2nd in the John Smith’s was a strong marker for The Cambridgeshire.

CERTAIN LAD e/w – ZAAKI win

3:00 ASCOT Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire H’cap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-100) 2m 11 runners

This is tricky and I wouldn’t put you off AUSTRALIS nor KALOOR. This latter hasn’t won since 2018 but he doesn’t have many miles on the clock with only ten starts – three of those with new trainer David Menuisier this season (ie since June). They’ve tried him at 14f at Sandown and he ran well despite having his run impeded by traffic, and Jim Crowley can help him get the trip. Paul Nicholls’ bottom-weight RED FORCE ONE is race fit having won over hurdles at Market Rasen LTO.  However, the one I’ll be backing is EDDYSTONE ROCK who effectively won this race last year when it was the Shergar Cup stayers. Cieren takes a valuable 3lbs off and this could give him a double for the day.

EDDYSTONE ROCK e/w

3:20 NEWMARKET (JULY) Betway Sweet Solera Stakes (G3) (Fillies) Cl1 (2yo) 7f 9 runners

TheTimeform Capital P for FLY MISS HELEN almost suggests she can’t lose. Some value might be from STAR OF EMARAATY.

FLY MISS HELEN wins – STAR OF EMARAATY e/w

3:35 ASCOT Thames Hospice H’cap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 1m4f 12 runners

MEDAL WINNER e/w

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