Thanks to Neil and Paul for meaningful responses to my email. I’ll use my reply as an opportunity to start a discussion in this thread.
Firstly I assume that Neil’s apologies are tongue in cheek. Otherwise I’ve lost the ability to express what I mean to say.
I’m not unhappy with the similarity of our teams, just that they were more similar than I expected.
Re: Neil’s comments on Rouge Vif, Goshen and Sire du Berlais, none of which can I really disagree with. I can understand the hesitation with all three and as I said Goshen was rather a heart over head selection. I’ll be delighted if he is a Katchit and he could be, but he could also be a total disappointment. The upside and downside are both considerable. I would however completely ignore his recent flat form, his last run was as good as anything he’s previously achieved in his moderate flat career. But that won’t be enough to reassure anyone including my own head that he is destined for a successful NH season. I am however happy that I’ve included Sire du Bergais in six lines. The inclusion of all three is part of a theoretical argument as to whether one should include risky horses which do at least have a chance of a big upside.
In an entry of 5 or 6 lines one is going to stick to mixing and matching around 13 of the safer more likely stars, with perhaps one or two other horses appearing in one or two “lines”. In fact in my own entry my first 5 odd entries do not include any of the riskier horses and are based on the core most popular horses as they are popular for a reason. But as I progress through the entries more and more horses of the Goshen, Sire du Berlais type appear in my teams until the last entry included Delta Work, Allaho, and Abracadabras which hadn’t been used up to that point.
My total entry is nearly as large as the syndicate entry and while one approach would be to continue to concentrate on a mixing and matching one’s own top 13 or so horses which would give one a great chance of winning or going close if one’s core group was pretty good, a couple of injuries would mean that the rest of your selections would have to be pinhead perfect. The decision between this approach and a wider selection doesn’t, I think, have an objective answer. In fact one thing that does support the use of a small core of horses even with a 20 stable entry is that I’ve found in the past that including a horse just once in your entry hasn’t been successful as the rest of that entry has to be very very good or otherwise the risky successful selection is a waste of time. That’s why when I decide to include a horse, (before the last minute one or two entries which are put in to include horse that I haven’t used before, and which are usually my poorest performing lines) I include it in 4-6 lines, so that if for example Saldier miraculously stays fit, I still have a chance that his entry was useful, as I’m not dependent on a single specific line.
Again the point that Neil raises of not restricting a huge potential horse to as few as 75% of entries is largely a combination of the number of entries that one makes AND personal preference. Even if both Envoi Allen and Shishkin turn out to be essential I’ll still have around 12 lines which are still in play. And if one or both are duds due to injury or whatever, I’ll still be in the game. However the main point why I’d argue for including some risk is that you could win with say three horses blanking up to March as you can dump two, but you cannot win if you don’t include at least 4 or 5 of the biggest point scorers. And as I said above if you are including a potentially great but risky selection having it in just one line is less likely to pay off.
As regards the three you didn’t touch, I’m already already wondering if I was right to include 5 Samcro; I agree that Fakir’s form left a little to be desired but I have a “feeling” and so I won’t wonder about the soundness of this choice until he’s run a couple of times; Saldier I’d still argue for, as he’s fine on yielding or soft and MIGHT get that both at Leopardstown in February and at Cheltenham. There’s a potential 100+ points right there IF
he ever turns up.
The question of whether one should delay putting certain horses in from the start is a tricky one. Clearly if a horse is unlikely to run much before Cheltenham one should be hesitant, but often there are two or three horses which weren’t obviously pickable at the beginning of the season but who by early March appear to be must haves. If you have a couple of horses that you were “waiting for”, you may have a problem. Saldier can’t really be waited with, (rejecting him completely is a different matter) as you’d want him to win the Irish Champion in early February. Waiting is clearly best for novice hurdlers unless there’s a huge chance of running up a sequence as apart from uncertainty about their true NH quality, there are no bonus races for them at any time. Certainly for any given “line” I’d never be wanting to wait for more than one horse. Although you are pretty sure that you’ll be needing to make transfers due to injury or poor form, the only effect on one’s initial selection should be not to go mad on risk. While you still have complete freedom to bring in whatever two horses you want, your transfers out will often be constrained. If you have two horses out for the season, there is zero freedom. Unlike fantasy football where you can transfer who you like both in and out.
As regards the approach to transfers, I don’t think that picking stables based on having one of your transfers already earmarked is a sound strategy even though occasionally it may pay off.
One key aspect of this game is similar to fantasy football where your ideal team changes in your mind from week to week. Unlike fantasy football, here you unfortunately can’t take any corrective action. But this doesn’t mean that you should adopt a minimal risk free strategy. For among other reasons all your stables will be very like thousands of other stables and you’ll need to land on a pinhead to win. The ideal solution is to have a few minimal risk teams and others which are riskier.
Moving onto Paul’s main points. I hope that we are not the only two who feel that this thread is the best place for us to air our thoughts. As regards his conclusion that as the probability that the horse selected in place of an Envoi Allen/Shishkin will do really well is low (agreed), you should include those horses in all your lines is solid in a single digit number size of entry, I disagree with that conclusion for larger entries. But hey ho, it’s all subjective and given the luck element in the game, the views of losers and winners are often equally valid. It would probably need a doctoral thesis to determine which is the better long term approach in a number of TTTF selection issues.
This weekend we probably all have some interest in the Betfair, while after Goshen’s withdrawal, there is limited interest at Ascot other than Imperial Aura. There are also several of our horses likely to be involved in Ireland this weekend, and in this afternoon’s Presenting Percy, Monalee, Kemboy clash. Weekend highlights could be Minella Indo who has a potential penalty kick if he turns up at Navan on Sunday. While at Naas on Saturday Fakir D’Oudairies faces Notebook and Cash Back.
Anyway among my ramblings I hope I've addressed the points in Neil's and Paul's emails.