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Record of the blog selections
Profit for the 2016-17 Jumps Season = £84.38
from wagers on 26 individual selections (4 winners, 6 placed)
Total Staked = £280.00
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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.
Saturday, 21 January 2017
I thought we would have a good day of racing with 3 jump meetings at Ascot, Haydock and Taunton - but we have lost Ascot and Taunton to the frost and so only Haydock is left.
This is disappointing as I thought there was some potential value at the Ascot meeting in Un De Sceaux who would have taken all the beating in the Clarence House Chase, and in Kylemore Lough who looks ore than capable of beating the field in the Class 2 handicap chase.
Haydock puts on a grand meeting and has a couple of races that may provide us with a wagering opportunity. The Grade 2 novice chase at 1:30pm looks a cracker with the Paul Nicholls trained Politologue but he wont have things all his own way as Its' A Freebee, Waiting Patiently and Maximiser all look decent prospects as chasers. At the odds, Waiting Patiently at 4/1 may be worth a nibble as I am sure OR142 under-rates his ability and were he with a "premier" stable then he would possibly be rated 7lb higher already. Were this a handicap then I would have no hesitation to be on him, but there may be enough in the 3lb concession he has to swing the race his way.
The Champion Hurdle "Trial" at 2:40pm over 2-miles may be a close run race. He may be having to concede weight, but The New One should be capable of beating L'Ami Serge on these terms and on this ground - if it turns heavy then he will have a problem, but he should be capable on soft ground. I just don't think L'Ami Serge has shown enough "zip" over hurdles to win this, and the 15/8 about The New One looks generous to me.
The next race on the card is the "Peter Marsh" handicap chase at 3:15pm and run over 3-mile, and this is one of the races that I enjoy tackling during the jumps season. We have a big field of 14-runners and the current fav Definitly Red will need to find some improvement to win off OR149. He will handle the track, ground and trip but may find one or two too good for him. Bristol De Mai looks a better prospect in this now he has shown he is competitive at 3-mile. Alary is one that I cannot consider on his UK chase debut, however his form may look in France. Bishops Road is perhaps on too high a rating and probably wants heavy ground. I'm not sure about Otago Trail as he may be a horse that goes well fresh, but his odds of 10/1 look fair enough. Sausalito Sunrise will not be far away as he does enjoy a slog through the mud and he looks fairly treated. Virak has yet to recover his form of last year and the remainder look out of it.
At the odds, OTAGO TRAIL at 10/1 (he is 12/1 with Stan James) looks fair value as he beat both Definitly Red and Bristol De Mai at Newcastle, and that form looks top notch. At todays weights he should be able to confirm the form and as such he should be trading at 5/1 in my opinion.
Haydock 3:15pm OTAGO TRAIL, £5 eachway @ 10/1 (generally available quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Thursday, 19 January 2017
The cold snap I've been experiencing this week apparently exists only over the South-East of England, but there is an inspection at 8am at todays Wincanton meeting, though Ludlow has no issues.
There is a 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at Ludlow for amateur riders at 3:35pm which could provide a wagering opportunity. The 9/4 fav is Still Believing but he does not look capable of winning at 3-mile at this level. Yes, he has won here twice (once on heavy ground) but he's been raised 10lb for his latest win to OR126 and that puts a different complexion on things. For me, the 2nd-fav Port Melon is more interesting as he is the quality horse in the race, and lightly raced for a 9yo. Port Melon goes well fresh (won first-time-up in Nov15) and his run at Kempton last April suggests that he could be well-in by about 7lb. My worry is that the ground may be a bit too soft for him. The 10yo Valleyofmilan is just too unreliable to be considered. Capard King has slipped down the ratings from OR139 to OR127 today - and he's won 3-mile chases off OR135 and OR136 - but both those wins were at Southwell and Ludlow is a completely different track to that one. Will he be able to handle it?
Royal Palladium could possibly dominate throughout from the front, that's where he likes to be and there does not seem to be another in the race to challenge him for the lead. He ran well in this race two years ago off OR124 till falling 3-out, but that was only his 4th chase race and I can excuse him that error. If he is challenged for the lead then he will throw-in the towel. The ground probably is not soft enough for I Am Colin, and the remaining pair of Gallery Exhibition and Gone To Far don't look capable of winning this.
Trainer Paul Nicholls does not send many horses to Ludlow and although PORT MELON isn't the main reason for coming here today - he runs the fav Amour De Nuit in the opening 2m5f maiden hurdle and he could be heading for the Cheltenham Festival - it looks like the horse has been prepared with this race as his main target. Odds of 9/2 look fair to me as he is unlikely to be out of the 1st-3 home.
At Wincanton, the Somerset National Chase Handicap over 3m2f is the feature race of the day. The race-fav is Dawson City who was my Boxing Day selection but the race was voided. He followed that up with a good 2nd at Plumpton which suggested he would have gone close on Boxing Day. He was also 2nd in this race last year off OR125, so off just 2lb higher in the handicap he should not be far away, and we know he's in good form. There is no way I can consider the 12yo Alfie Spinner, and Onderun looks held by the fav judged on their meeting at Plumpton LTO. Also in that race was Sartorial Elegance who unseated his rider 4-out when going well, and he looks unexposed. The winner of that Plumpton race, Morney Wing runs off a 5lb higher rating of OR128 and that may well find him out, though he should run well again. The 10yo Saroque has slipped from OR132 to OR119 today, but his recent form looks poor and I cannot see he turning that around today. Abracadabra Sivola was a highly tried novice chaser who has needed his runs this season and it's hoped that he is fit to run to his best form today which would be enough to put him in the picture. All-in-all this looks a tricky race to fathom, and it looks like any of those that ran at Plumpton LTO (Dawson City, Onderun, Sartorial Elegance, or Morney Wing) could go close in this race and the market looks to have this race about right.
Although PORT MELON should be in the places, amateur rider races are not the best of betting mediums and so there is no advised selection from me today. There is some good racing this weekend and I'm hopeful of finding a decent winning wager then.
Saturday, 14 January 2017
We have been knocking on the door of a good win recently, with two named horses on the blog last Saturday but I selected the wrong one for the wager as the other one won at 9/2, and on Thursday I thought we had a great chance of a long-odds winner but the jockey came late with his challenge and was a fast-finishing 2nd.
Today we have several good meetings at Kempton, Wincanton and Wetherby; but the feature race of the day is the Warwick Classic Chase over 3m5f which looks very open.
If Sego Success can run to the level of his win at Doncaster last season then he will be tough to beat if he stays this trip, but he doesn't look a marathon horse to me.
There are no such doubts over Shotgun Paddy who won this race 3 years ago on 2014 (he was my selection that day). He comes here fresh and running off OR139 the handicapper has given him a chance. No problems with the soft ground.
Kiki De La Prix does not look good enough nor capable of staying this trip, and another potential non-stayer is Viva Steve.
The 6yo Ballycross is too young for this trip and it could break the horse. I would like to see a lower-age limit for races longer than 3m1f.
Doctor Harper is the possible value as he is a winning 3-mile hurdler and a good one too. Lightly raced as a chaser, his run LTO over 3m2f at Cheltenham bodes well for this race and he will handle the soft ground. Remember he was the 4/1 fav for the Kim Muir at the Festival last March off OR141 and he runs off OR143 today - odds of 11/1 look fair value as I would have him at the joint-fav for this race.
I cannot see One For Arthur winning off OR137 as that looks to be his ability ceiling.
However, old friend Houblon Des Obeaux showed when 3rd in the Hennessy LTO that there is life in the old dog. Running off OR152 on soft ground will see him in his element and he should be thereabouts come the final fence.
Spookydooky is interesting as he ran well (beaten only 7-lengths) in the Midlands National last March off OR141, and he runs off only OR131 today. He has run only 3 races since then, pulling up in the Scottish National on unsuitable ground, and running without zest on unsuitable good ground twice this season. He could be chucked-in off OR131 in this and Jonjo O'Neill has a habit of getting his horses right on the day that matters.
The only other horse that catches my eye is Knockanrawley who reappears today after 14-months off through injury. Running off OR136 if he can run as well as when we last saw him then he will go close today as he is a prominent runner who stays all day long. Possibly one to wager on in-running after he has jumped a couple of fences to judge if he has come out well.
A tricky race and I would have a shortlist of Spookydooky, Shotgun Paddy, Doctor Harper and Houblon Des Obeaux.
At Kempton, the 2m4f handicap chase at 12:55pm has cut-up and we have only 7 runners going to post including the 11yo ERICHT. He may be long in the tooth but he has been running really well this season, and I thought he was most unlucky to meet Astracad on a good day LTO. That day I rated him at 140, which puts him 8lb ahead of the handicapper as he runs off OR132 today. He won here last season over C&D and if he goes close to that form today then he will be very hard to beat, and odds of 11/4 (he is 3/1 in places) look fairly decent value as he probably should be about 2/1.
Later on in the afternoon, Vaniteux and Vibrato Valtat cross swords in a 4-runner chase over 2m4f which I think puts the advantage with the Paul Nicholls horse Vibrato Valtat. While Vaniteux does run well at this trip, he is vulnerable and he will have to be at the top of his game to beat the consitent Vibrato Valtat who is available at 9/4.
Then at 3:15pm we have a cracking 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase in which SANDY BEACH holds a tremendous chance at the weights. He has won over 2m7f so he should stay todays trip and that is the only doubt over him, as I have him about 6lb ahead on my ratings. The danger in my mind is the top-weight Volnay De Thaix at should stay this trip - he tries 3-mile for the first time - but his rating of OR150 surely underestimates his ability when you look at his form as a hurdler. However, I cannot see him conceding 15lb to SANDY BEACH who could be rated in the 140's after this race. Odds of 9/2 look fair about SANDY BEACH and he is my main selection today.
Kempton 3:15pm SANDY BEACH - £10 win @ 5/1 (Betfred and Tote)
Thursday, 12 January 2017
This week is transitional for me as my current contract ends in London and from Monday I'm working just a few minutes from my home in Brighton. Overall, not only will the move be good for my health as I won't be rising at 5:40am every morning and not returning home until after 7pm - but the extra hours of "freedom" will allow me more time to put to important form study. It used to be a simple exercise to read the race-form on the internet on journeys on the train into London, but a combination of more complex websites - and the RacingPost website with it's flashing add-on's and pop-ups doesn't help - and more people demanding bandwidth to stream tv programmes and movies has meant that reading the form on the train using the internet is near impossible.
This week has also brought us a string of bad news stories in horseracing. It started with the confirmation that Coneygree would not run in the Gold Cup, and that was followed by the news that last years Gold cup winner Don Cossack has been retired due to injury; and - in between - we learned that Kempton Park racecourse is to close sometime after 2020. With the news of the latter, there is already a "Save Kempton" campaign but, with no further investment heading down the A3 to the Sunbury track, unless a "buyer" can purchase the track from its current owners then that campaign is doomed to failure. I just hope readers followed my advice and took the 20/1 about Native River for the Gold Cup on the morning before he won Welsh National.
Today brings us interesting cards at Catterick and Leicester, with the 3m6f "North Yorkshire Grand National" being run at Catterick at 2:50pm. This extreme trip will take some staying and my initial thoughts were Gonalston Cloud and Doing Fine both of whom will be suited by this trip and ground. Another that you cannot ignore is course winner Straidnahanna who won here last February over 3m1f on soft ground, but he's looked short of that level since. Gonalston Cloud is also a two-time course winner, so there is a lot in his favour. Ballyben has run well this season for his latest trainer Malcolm Jefferson but he's gone up 12lb in the handicap in the process to OR127 and his last win was off OR114. Alto Des Mottes is clearly a soft/heavy ground horse with both his wins on heavy and his 2nd here (only 5 finished from 12 starters) was on soft ground. Ballyculla possibly also prefers soft ground judging by his decent run at Punchestown 20 months ago, and while he should come on for his run LTO there is no guarantee he will. I really cannot see Harry The Viking winning off OR127 although he is in good form and should go well.
Currently priced at 12/1 (quarter-odds eachway 1,2,3) GONALSTON CLOUD is a lightly-raced 10yo who runs prominently and stays all day long. We know he appreciates this Catterick track and the ground will also suit him, as such I'm expecting him to run a big race as he's only been raised 5lb for his win on Boxing Day over 3m3f. It would be no surprise for him to start the 6/1 2nd-fav to Doing Fine but, if we get some more juice in the ground, the conditions will suit Gonalston Cloud more than any other that I can see in this race.
Catterick 2:50pm GONALSTON CLOUD, £5 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally)
Fridays cards look poor, but Saturday brings us several decent races to consider.
At Kempton the 2m4f Class 2 handicap chase at 12:55pm brings together a couple of well handicapped horses in Ericht and Dusky Lark. Later in the afternoon it will take a good horse to beat Aso in the Class 1 "Listed" chase over 2m4f. And I expect Sandy Beach to be a warm favourite in the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase - he looks a very exciting prospect. The other meetings at Wetherby and Warwick will depend on the weather over the next couple of days, and it is likely that racing plans will not be firmed-up until Friday morning. One horse I am hoping can recapture his form is Virak who in entered in the 3m5f Betfred Classic handicap chase to be run at Warwick.