Ashforth’s Angles: If only it was this easy to find winners

Sir Mark Prescott: may or may not be a fan of Wagon Wheels

PICTURE: Getty Images Ashforth's Angles: If
only it was this easy By David Ashforth 6:00PM 29 AUG 2016

SIR MARK PRESCOTT has made it easy for us with St Michel (Goodwood 4.10).

There's no need to get bogged down in analysis – an improving three-year-old stepping up in class, up another 7lb to 93, blah-di-blah-di-blah. All we need to know is in the form figures – 212121. It's obvious, isn't it? St Michel's going to finish second. Next time he'll finish first.

Before you realise that a 0 can represent a better performance than a 1, when life suddenly becomes more complicated, figures can be enticing. Who can resist the persuasive appeal of 0432? It's got to be a 1 next, hasn't it, or what was the point of all those maths lessons at school?

To save you work, I've already looked at Tuesday's 33 races and there aren't any 0432s. On the other hand, in a maiden race at Goodwood (2.25) Heartstone brings form figures of 3322. Michael Murphy has probably already asked trainer Charles Hills if he can ride the filly again next time because she's obviously going to win at Goodwood and then win again.

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The system has the virtue of simplicity but isn't flawless. For instance, Giovanni Di Bicci (Epsom 3.45) has form figures of 111132. He was favourite when finishing third and it was a bitter blow to those who believed, understandably, that the answer to the question, what comes after 1111? is 1. It should be 1, it ought to be 1, if there weren't handicappers in the world it probably would be 1 but it isn't always 1.

In fact, the more 1s there are the less likely it is that the next figure will be a 1. This is because handicappers believe that it is their responsibility to interfere with the natural order of things, mainly by making jockeys fatter. The better a horse does, the fatter its jockey has to be. Eventually the jockey weighs so much that the next figure can't possibly be a 1.

So there's no guarantee that The Wagon Wheel (Goodwood 3.35) will convert her form figures of 11 into 111. On the other hand, Richard Fahey's filly does bring back happy memories of biscuits gone by.

Wagon Wheels still exist, complete with their marshmallow centres but somehow they're not the same. Like crisps without those blue paper twists of salt and the late lamented Spangles, Wagon Wheels seem to be from a past golden age of Barratt's sherbet fountains and packets of sweet cigarettes with pictures of footballers in them.

The Wagon Wheel has probably been running fast because she's frightened of getting eaten, a bit like Hard Toffee (Goodwood 5.20) and Toffee Apple (Hamilton 3.25).

Speaking of Hamilton, if Ninetta turns out again (4.00), can she please either win, be retired on humanitarian grounds (for the good of humans, not her) or be tried over further again, even though it didn't work before?

I liked her as a two-year-old and thought she'd work her way up the handicap this year, not down.

Nothing's straightforward, is it?

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