Sydney pro punter Nathan Snow is back on the show this week to review the year that was and to look forward to 2016.
- His thoughts on Sydney’s leading trainers
- Two jockeys he loves to back and two he feels are over-rated
- Why he loves betting at Canterbury
- A 2yo he believes is capable of doing the Magic Millions / Golden Slipper double
- A 3yo he expects to run some big races at big odds
Today’s Guest: Nathan Snow’s NSW ratings.
Dave Duffield: G’day Snowy, I just wanted to get you on to have a bit of a chat about the year that we’ve had, and also look forward to next year. Talking about some trainers, jockeys and a few horses, but particularly some horses to follow for next year. On the training front, obviously Chris Waller dominates. How do you approach what you do, in terms of rating a race, when he is such a dominant player in New South Wales?
Nathan Snow: He continues to take all before him. He’s come from nothing, 5, 10 years ago it was in New Zealand and here he is, the biggest trainer in Australia, just keeps getting bigger. He’s now more focused on the Group 1s, and producing some real Group 1 horses, and he hasn’t forgotten the run of the mill stuff either. It’s easier to be with him than oppose him as a punter, because if you oppose him too often you’re going to get burnt.
I think there are various scenarios you can oppose him, his training style doesn’t seem to suit 2 year olds at this stage, you can oppose his 2 year olds up until about April or so with a bit of confidence. I think if you take the view that first and second up, the’re not going to be fully wound up as they’re looking to build into their preparations, I think that’s the best way to view him as a trainer, he’s looking to get his horses racing consistently for longer periods, and if that sacrifices a run or 2 early, then so be it. There’s nothing nefarious going on, it’s just not quite wound up. The riding tactics are usually to be conserved for 1 run late, and if the pace is on, and the map suits, they can still will first up. It’s generally that you want to be against him at that stage.
Dave Duffield: Basically, best of the totes and SP Waller is close to a break even proposition for 2015, which is a pretty phenomenal performance just considering the amount of runners that he has each and every week.
Nathan Snow: Exactly, including the number of runners he has week in, week out, it’s an amazing statistic.
Dave Duffield: Probably less on the easy to follow and positive side, we’ve got John O’Shea. Again, your rating individual horses, but you’re also more than interested in the trainer and the jockey. How do you you assess O’Shea typically when you’re rating a race?
Nathan Snow: There’s 2 O’Sheas and 2 Darley as far as I’m concerned. There’s Carnival Darley and then there’s the rest of the time Darley, and being such a breeding empire that they are now, a lot of the stuff is focused on the Group 1s and making the good horses, they’re happy to use the midweekers and their starting off point as a little education run, so that sort of thing. I think at this stage you’re better off opposing our horses in mid weekers, I think they start gross unders most of the time.
Rare occasions are when you want to be with them is when you think you can find a nice horse, but it could be on its way up, second up, third up, or even if 1 shows a considerable roundability, like the winner on Sunday at Kembla it was very soft in the market but that trialed well. I think it was 4 dollars out 6.50, it still won like a nice horse. They can defy the drift if the horses are nice enough, I think you just want to be with them at carnival time, because that’s when the stable will be peaking.
Dave Duffield: What about Bjorn Baker, he seems to have gone from strength to strength this year.
Nathan Snow: Bjorn’s a bit of a mystery many, he goes through a streak, where he just keeps winning, and then he goes missing for a little while, and then he’ll be back and he’s just a very hard trainer to read. The best way to handle him as a punter, you just want to be with him in the streaks, and when the horses start to train off a bit or not run through the line, you just want to oppose his horses for a little while.
Dave Duffield: What about the Snowden stable?
Nathan Snow: These 2 are the ones that could be the challengers to Waller, if they’re ever is one. They’re a good training operation, very canny operators. I just think they’ve got a lot of ability as trainers, you see them improve horses off other trainers, and I’m just more than happy to back one of their horses if I like them on form.
Dave Duffield: Do you treat them any differently from metro runners to provincial country?
Nathan Snow: No, no different across the board. That’s another why I’m backing them, kind of like Joe Pride, horses race consistently everywhere, and as a punter you like that.
Dave Duffield: What about Gai Waterhouse?
Nathan Snow: Again, Gai goes missing in action for a period, she comes back, does really well carnival time usually. Questionable with the cattle she has at the moment, her drive as well, she’s achieved a lot. She’s a grandmother, got other things going on in her life, and you just question whether the drive is still there at this point in time.
Dave Duffield: You’re big on the speed maps. If she’s not quite at her best, how does that affect when you’re drawing up a speed map, and obviously rating the race, when what you may have expected in the past to be a good tough Waterhouse on pacer, may not be the case anymore?
Nathan Snow: Oh, they’re still going to maintain the same racing patterns, they’re just not going to be as strong when they’re down on the straight. In terms of map preparation, it doesn’t make a heap of difference there.
Dave Duffield: Is there an up and coming trainer that you’re keen to keep an eye on in 2016?
Nathan Snow: Two trainers that I love backing in the country and provincially, they’ve probably only got 10 or 12 horses each of them. One of them’s a bloke called Jason Attard out in Hawksbury, I think he does a tremendous job with his horses. When they race at home they’re very hard to beat. Young bloke down in Moruya, Joe Ible, he only has 6 or 8 horses, most of them are passed off that he got from elsewhere, improved every one that he got. I think if he gets some decent horses and a bit of horseflesh, I think we may end up seeing a bit of him. A young bloke called Michael Cross, who I think I mentioned last time, hasn’t quite kicked on yet but I’ve still got faith in him that he will. They’re 3 young trainers that I think punters can look out for.
Dave Duffield: Switch to jockeys then. What about James McDonald, particularly recently he’s been in fine form. What are your thoughts on him?
Nathan Snow: He’s a very good rider, but in a sense is a bit overrated. I think he gets the pick of the rides in most races. He’s got a plum job with Darley there, and gets the pick of Wallers often. I just find him a little inconsistent for my liking for a top jockey, and he’s at his best, he’s up there with the best of them. His worst is a little way off that for me at the moment. Like I said, when he’s on he’s on.
Dave Duffield: When you say his worst, you’re talking about getting back too far, missing a run, what is it in particular?
Nathan Snow: Just seems like he doesn’t have a plan B sometimes, he gets out there and he gets a bit lost. If things don’t go to plan, like they should out of the gate … He seems also a guy who is really motivated by the big races. A lot of the other jockeys, there’s not much between their group 1 and their midweek, but you’ll find him, he’s a real group 1 rider.
Dave Duffield: Like a Glen Boss, then?
Nathan Snow: Yeah, sort of Glen Boss, not that bad but yes.
Dave Duffield: Someone that normally has a plan B would be Hugh Bowman?
Nathan Snow: Yeah, he’s the number 1, and I’m pretty sure he’s the one that all the jockeys in the room consider number 1 as well. He’s a real horseman, he’s got the balance that others don’t have, he’s got the tactical nous, and he’s just got … He’s a very good judge of pace. He makes fewer mistakes than the rest of them, he’s the number 1.
Dave Duffield: What about Brendan Avdulla?
Nathan Snow: I think he’s number 2 with a bullet and hot on his heels, there’s no more improved rider in the last year. In terms of making mistakes, there’s no jockey that makes fewer at the moment, he’s just outstanding. He just needs to get on the better horseflesh. What he’s done now, he’s gone from outside the top 10, to the top 5 at the premiership, with barely a ride from Waller, O’Shea, Waterhouse, he doesn’t ride for them he’s always riding for the second string trainers like Baker and Lees and Gerald, trainers that don’t have the horseflesh of the others, and he gets the job done. He’s the one I’m happiest backing, because the market hasn’t found him as well as I have.
Dave Duffield: Are there certain scenarios where you really want to be on him, certain race shapes, or distances, anything like that?
Nathan Snow: Nah, pretty versatile, happy to be on anyway.
Dave Duffield: Blake Shin, how do you rate him?
Nathan Snow: Again, I find him a bit in the J-Mac category of being a shade overrated. He gets a lot of the good rides, and looks good at times. He has gone missing in action the last 2 months, he’s been very quiet, he’s been putting in some very ordinary rides. But I guess like most sportsmen they’re confidence creatures and I’m sure his confidence will be back soon. He’s a top 5 rider, don’t get me wrong, he’s very good, I just think he’s a bit overrated by the market.
Dave Duffield: When you say put in a few very ordinary rides, to the everyday punter that’s probably not watching a hell of a lot of replays or analysing it at the same depth that you are, how would they pick that up themselves when they’re watching a race?
Nathan Snow: For instance a ride on Saturday, and the fence was completely gone on Saturday, a horse called Shutterbug that is going to settle mid to back and it drew Gate 11. You couldn’t imagine he would be anywhere other than 3 –wide with cover and then come down the centre of the track, for some reason he was 3 –wide with cover but then went back to the fence and was the closes jockey to the fence on Saturday. I think it was just a strange ride, like I said, it was very un-Blake Shin-like. He’s just a jockey out of form.
Dave Duffield: That’s trainers and jockeys covered. What about tracks? Is there a particular metro track that you’re even more excited betting into than any of the others?
Nathan Snow: I love Canterbury, I think it’s a great track. Gives all horses there a chance, people sometimes think it’s a bit on-paced, but I just think it’s a fair track governed by pace. If they go quick enough you can run on, if the leaders get a soft run they are very hard to catch. It’s the quickest drying track in Sydney, it can be slow to heavy the night before and it will be dead to good the next day if there is sunshine out, it just races so well. The others tend to go to pieces a bit when there’s a bit of rain around.
Dave Duffield: Now some pro’s love bias because they factor it in and/or they react quickly, others just like a true track each time…are you on either side of that argument?
Nathan Snow: I’m one who puts stuff out in the morning, and prices them, whatever, of course you prefer a true track. But the beauty of our system is we can adjust it during the day, and find things that are swooping down the outside or the leaders. We’ve had some of our best on days like that. It’s a tricky one. You want the Average Joe out there betting with confidence, and when they see horses coming down the centre of the track, they tend to lose interest in the meeting. From a pure perception point of view, you’d prefer a fairer track.
Dave Duffield: How do you approach betting at Rosehill?
Nathan Snow: Rosehill, you sort of play it by ear. Some days its rail, some days its down the centre. It’s a bit moisture related, it’s a bit rail placement related. It’s a lot to do with the wear and tear there as well. Rosehill’s one of those tracks where you really can’t go in with too many preconceived notions.
Dave Duffield: Is it the same for Warwick Farm?
Nathan Snow: Yeah, Warwick Farm, generally they want to be betting off the fence if there’s any moisture in the track, and the more moisture and the closer it is to the true position the more true that is.
Dave Duffield: As we look ahead to next year, are there any horses in particular you want to highlight for people to keep a close eye on?
Nathan Snow: I just naturally start with the 2 year olds, and this Capitalist really does look 1 out of the top drawer. It was a super win first-up in the Breeders Plate after trialing enormously. It’s on the Magic Millions path and trialled a couple of days ago, and wow, did it easy, good time. I think it’ll be winning the Magic Millions, I think it’s a type that can win a Magic Millions and a Golden Slipper after that. In terms of the second best 2 year old, is clearly Yankee Rose for mine, a really underrated little filly from Van Dyke. It can sprint home really well, I think it’ll be a Sires and Champagne horse at this stage. 3 year olds are tough, I thought you could have a look at the 3 year old fillies, just because they were a really weak lot in the spring.
The one that was really unlucky in most starts, was just in first preparation and will come on a lot more than the others, is a horse called Ocean Tempest, from the James Cumming stable. Horse we’ve backed a couple of times, is pretty stiff. Won a maiden first up, and was unlucky in a midweeker at Warwick Farm, and then went to a good filly’s race behind Alart and Flamboyant Lass, should have won that day, and then went on to the Flight Stakes and it was over the top. I think it’s the sort of horse that can come back in the autumn, and really be dominant in the 3 year old filly races.
Then you get to the older horses, and the obvious here is Winx it really does look a bit of a freak, doesn’t it? Can overcome difficulties, reel off a sectional and win from 1300m to 2000m, just make good horses look second rate as it goes past them. I think whatever they set it for, it’ll just keep winning. One out of left field that we found, that I might have found here, is a horse called Flashing Speed. Won a maiden at Hawksbury and then a Benchmark 72 just at Canterbury, but both wins were really progressive and really grabbed me. I think we’ll see a bit more of this horse in better grade races. And being Anthony Cummings he’ll probably have it in a Group 1 first-up and we’ll be on at the 100’s each-way.
Dave Duffield: What in particular impresses you about that horse, because I know you look at the data and it’s part of what you do, but it’s not the dominant part. What in particular impressed you?
Nathan Snow: It’s got a real turn of foot when you push the button, and just a real little professional. I really like it, it is a solid horse.
Dave Duffield: Excellent. All right, we’ll leave it there for now, we’ve got a few horses, trainers and jockeys to follow for the next year. Appreciate all your efforts this year Snowy, and we’ll catch you for 2016.
Nathan Snow: Excellent, talk to you soon.
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