The Sunday Series is a new concept designed at encouraging newcomers to take in an interest in horse racing by putting on better than average racing on a Sunday evening. Supported by the likes of ITV – who will televise every race on terrestrial channels – Sky Bet, the Racecourse Media Group, and the three courses involved in the inaugural season (Musselburgh, Sandown, and Haydock) the added Sunday Series prize money has attracted larger fields and made the racing far more competitive.
Added racecourse attractions will make sure every racegoer has an experience to remember, and hopefully one that will make them want to come back racing again and again.
With £600,000 in bonuses up for grabs the racing industry has unsurprisingly been very supportive but, better still, the money goes to the owners with an extra £100,000 for any horse winning at all three meetings. Any jockey who rides seven or more winners will also bag £100,000, and on top of that, £10,000 will be awarded to the stable staff of the yard who sends out the most winners. There’ll also be an increased “Best Turned Out” award for the lads and lasses at the business end of our great sport. With so many incentives on offer and great racing, I am willing to bet right now that this will not be a one off and will in fact be expanded to even more meetings in 2022 and beyond. This will hopefully mean we see a new generation of racing fans in the years ahead.
So far, we’ve had two of the three meetings and a look at the current tables suggest that there is all to play for with seven more prizes up for grabs. Jim Goldie and Marco Botti top the trainers’ table with two wins each, William Buick leads Ben Curtis by three wins to two in the jockey’s table and no horse or owner has won more than a solitary race as things stand, so it’s all to play for.
Looking at Haydock form overall, Tom Dascombe, who has a long list of entries here, has had 82 winners at the track in the last 10 years for a strike rate of close to 17%. He also has a level stakes profit of over 65 points to one point on good or better ground, which is currently predicted on Sunday. His horses look well worth a second look here, as do the rides of Joe Fanning (+38 points) and Richard Kingscote (+31 points), all likely weapons we can use to find ourselves some winners.
Those looking to back the favourites will be horrified to learn that a loss of over 124 points would have been your fate in the same period, similar to those backing top weights in the handicaps, who would be 118 points in the red.
Other profitable angles are thin on the ground, but we do know that in 2021, the front four in the betting have, unsurprisingly, won over 75% of all races. That said, backing them blindly would not have made you any money, though you would be able to tell your friends about all the winners you had backed regardless.
Seven races on the twilight card will see us looking at six handicaps and a single maiden with prize money boosted to ensure larger than average fields. On the bright side, the average price seems sure to be boosted with a lack of short-priced favourites, but on the other hand, every contest will take some winning and be fiercely competitive.
Mark Johnston has his horses in great form in recent weeks and BOWMAN has already won four races this season. Last time out he was all out to score by a head at Leicester but that was over a furlong further than he faces here, and he was a long way clear of his field coming into the final furlong.
He races off the same mark now as things stand and actually drops in class for this race, where I am hoping the added prize money will persuade connections to let him take his chance in this field, as opposed to any of other options.
Jim Goldie and Marco Botti are currently head-to-head for the leading trainer title for the Sunday Series 2021, and both have numerous early entries for this meeting. TOMMY G looks an interesting one for the Goldie stable stepping up to the mile and a quarter plus here for the very first time, and on his 84th career start. He has won 10 of those over distances ranging from six to nine furlongs but was running on late last time out when fourth at Sandown at the last Sunday Series meeting and is well worth a try over further. Will he win? What we do know is that he will be trained to the minute by his in-form handler and he may well surprise us all and run in to a place at a big price.
As mentioned earlier, trainer Tom Dascombe has an outstanding (and profitable) record at Haydock, and you would have to hope that the wonderfully named SKITTLEBOMBZ may add to those statistics. Still a maiden after three starts, he made his debut at Ayr when beaten five lengths in to sixth after a slow start. He followed that with a second here over six furlongs when trying to make the running unsuccessfully, and a third at Nottingham when outpaced early before running on once the winner and second had flown. A mark of 77 for his handicap debut looks fair enough on that form but better still, P J McDonald is reunited with the son of Starspangledbanner, who looks to be crying out for the seventh furlong he gets here.
DO make sure you have studied the form before parting with your hard-earned money.
DO keep an eye out for any runners being well backed before the race, money often talks in this game.
DO make a note of previous winners at the track and/or over the distance and put them to the top of your shortlist.
DON’T simply back the favourite – you will find winners, but not enough of them to cover the losers if past statistics are anything to go by.
DON’T ask a horse to do something it has never managed before – of course they can win over further, shorter, or on different ground, but it certainly isn’t guaranteed.
DON’T simply follow the cash, set you own price for any horse you like, and make sure you grab some value if possible.
Racing is a fabulous sport but it isn’t all about the gambling. Over half of the fun is pitting your wits against both the bookmakers and other punters, digging deep into the form to find something others may have missed and then placing your bet, however small to see if your opinions are vindicated.
No-one has to bet in every race, or every day, so choose your bets carefully, look for the best prices available, and never bet more than you can afford to lose. Treat it as a hobby (it costs to go to the cinema for example), and set your budget to sensible levels – or even “paper trade” to start with, picking your horses to see how you get on but without risking any money on the results.
If you ever feel you are losing control, use your bookmaker tools to take a break or contact the likes of Gamcare to ask for assistance before it gets out of hand.
What is the Sky Bet Sunday Series?
The Sunday Series on September 12th is the culmination of a three-race meeting of races with enhanced prize money and bonuses designed to attract larger fields, more competitive racing, and to introduce newcomers to the sport either at the track or via ITV racing who are covering every race live.
When is the Sky Bet Sunday Series?
The first two meetings of the Sunday Series 2021 were on the 25th July and the 22nd August 2021 with the final meeting on Sunday 12th September, starting with the 4.10pm race and ending with the 6.55pm finale.
Where are the Sky Bet Sunday Series races?
The first of the Sunday Series was at Musselburgh in Scotland, the second at Sandown in Surrey, while the finale is the Sunday Series Haydock in Merseyside, Newton-le-Willows WA12 0HQ for anyone looking to attend in person – or live via your sofa on ITV Racing of course.
What time does the Sunday Series start?
The first race of the day is due off at 4.10pm on Sunday afternoon but tune in earlier to ITV4 with the programme starting at 4.00pm, giving you a chance to have an early look at the Sunday Series horses in all their glory pre-race.