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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.
Friday, 9 December 2016
As expected, Waiting Patiently won his 2nd novice chase at Newcastle and while it was disappointing that Ash Park fell before the race got going, he will be back on another day. Then at Warwick, the market leader Briery Belle and the game Desert Queen dominated the race after both of the "talking" horses The Organist and Rock On The Moor failed to mount a serious challenge.
Sometimes, the value in the betting market lies with the early favorite!
Onto Friday, and we have a few cracking races at Cheltenham, including a Class 3 chase over 3m2f at 1:30pm in which I really want to have a wager in and yet the market odds look to be about right. The early fav is Southfield Theatre and but for a last fence fall at Wincanton LTO he would have won. Even so, the handicapper has put him up 7lb in the handicap to OR154 which leaves little room for error in my book, but this trip should suit him well as will the ground, and we know he handles Cheltenham too. I feel the next pair in the market of Sausalito Sunrise and Out Sam are in the grip of the handicapper, so it is my old friend A GOOD SKIN who catches my eye as I reckon he found the sub 3-mile trip too short LTO, and this race over a trip about 550 yards further should suit him well. He was 2nd over C&D last March, and so his stamina is proven. I just think 7/1 is a bit skinny as there are a couple in this race who (if they put their best foot forward) they could go very well. They are Shutthefrontdoor who could be well treated if he is fit to race off OR148, and Cogry, who (to be fair) is well handicapped on OR134 but has failed to complete in his 3 chases this season. Albeit he was unlucky at Cheltenham, and he may well have not enjoyed his Aintree experience last weekend.
One horse that is on my radar at Cheltenham is in the 3-mile hurdle at 2:40pm and that is VALHALLA who looked unsuited on the soft ground here last month, but was game enough to stay on to be 4th. Dropped a 1lb by the handicapper, he could be well-in and we know he stays this trip, handles the track and todays ground suits. Odds of 8/1 look fair in what could be a weak 3-mile handicap and I'd have thought he would start the fav for this.
At Bangor, there are 14 runners in the 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at 1:15pm. The fav Kaki De La Pree ran some good races without winning last season, and came out and won a novice chase last month. I just think he's a bit slow, but he is a reliable safe jumper who stays this trip. We haven't seen Willoughby Hedge since he ran in February and he just might need the run. I like Waldorf Salad, and soft ground here will be in his favour, but I don't think he stays this trip as he was very tired at Ascot in February when tackling 3-miles on soft ground. The horse I like in this is SUBTLE GREY who was going well in the Midland National in March till impeded by a faller and being pulled-up. He looks to be on a fair mark of OR135. Gonalston Cloud should run better this time despite pulling-up on his seasonal debut last month, and Audacious Plan is well handicapped on his best form, but will he show it? Odds of 10/1 on SUBTLE GREY look very fair as I thought he'd be a tad shorter in the market around 6/1.
I am expecting A GOOD SKIN to run well, but he does have a habit of finding one too good for him, so I will pass him over. I think SUBTLE GREY would have gone close in the Midlands National had he not pulled-up after being impeded, and I think he will end this season a lot higher than his current OR135 rating. Whichever way I look at it it's difficult to see VALHALLA not being in the 1st-3 home.
We have a big day at Cheltenham tomorrow, and I will be pouring through the weights as soon as the final declarations are known this afternoon.
Bangor 1:15pm SUBTLE GREY, £5 eachway @ 10/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Cheltenham 2:40pm VALHALLA, £5 eachway @ 8/1 (Bet365, PaddyPower, and William Hill quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Thursday, 8 December 2016
Opportunities for value wagers have been thin on the ground the past couple of weeks but, come Friday, that could all change as we have a solid couple of days of racing action with meetings at Cheltenham, Bangor and Doncaster.
Today (Thursday) we have 3 meetings at Newcastle, Taunton and Warwick but value opportunities are thin on the ground. At Taunton we have good-to-firm ground in December and, as a result, several of the races have 4 or fewer runners including both the class 3 chases.
At Newcastle, where the ground is a respectable good-to-soft, there is an interesting Class 3 novices chase at 12:40pm. The 5yo Waiting Patiently went into my notebook when he won his debut chase last month and although the handicapper has rated him at OR136 he looks potentially a 10lb better horse than that. He should be capable of beating Forest Bihan who also won his chase debut last month, and who is a more experienced hurdler. While Waiting Patiently stays 2m4f, Forest Bihan does not appear to hold similar stamina reserves and that could be essential in what looks a decent novice chase. Also in the race is Ash Park who ran 2nd in his chase debut over 2m4f when he (perhaps) did not see out the trip, but he did have a couple of NTO winners behind him including the useful looking Knockgraffon - so maybe that form is a lot better than it looked. There is plenty of 11/2 available on Ash Park, and he could be the one to put into a forecast with the fav Waiting Patiently.
At Warwick at 1:20pm there is a very decent "mares" Listed chase over 2m4f, and were it over 2-mile then I am sure Stephanie Frances would be the fav. However, it is debatable whether she will stay this trip, as she didn't as a hurdler. Briery Belle has been aimed at this race since winning her chase debut last month at Carlisle over 2m4f when she looked an impressive, natural chaser - as such she is a worthy fav. Desert Queen also won her debut chase when beating a useful experienced rival over 3-miles. Se will not be far away, but having to concede 6lb to the fav Briery Belle will be tough. Rock On The Moor was the best of these over hurdles, coming 2nd at Cheltenham in the "Mares" hurdle over 2m4f. She has had a run over fences in Ireland which showed she needed more experience at jumping, and it is interesting that her capable trainer has sent her over from Ireland to Warwick for this. She will need to improve a lot on what she showed LTO though. The Organist beat Briery Belle at level weights over 3-mile in March, and she probably would have won her debut chase but for a bad error at the 2nd-last fence which cost her the race. Today she has Barry Geraghty in the saddle and this is the ride he's come to Warwick for (he has only one other booked ride on an exposed horse in the NH flat race). Odds of 9/2 are generally available and they look enticing in what should be a very informative mares chase race.
You can never be too sure in these novice chases so, unless you are super confident, it is best to keep stakes small. No advised wagers today, but those amongst you who are more adventurous have some scope in the races described above. I'm sure we will have a wager tomorrow.
Monday, 5 December 2016
No selections advised on Saturday, but there was plenty of pointers to winning wagers for those who read the blog.
The highlight was Un De Sceaux winning the feature race of the day, the Tingle Creek at Sandown. I wrote on the blog that Un De Sceaux had the best form on offer, he held all his rivals on known form and that as I considered him a 5/4 chance his morning odds of 2/1 looked value - and, sure enough, his SP was 5/4. I know I certainly took advantage of the 2/1, and while it may have looked a close-run race with Sire De Grugy running to his best form, had Un De Sceaux not hit the 2nd-last he would have won comfortably.
For the final race at Sandown on Saturday, I wrote on the blog that should Doing Fine run to the level of his 3rd at Chepstow in Oct-15, then he'd likely win this race as he was very well treated running off OR126. He cruised through this race and - to me - looked the most likely winner a long way out, and I'm sure he would have won had he not been impeded in his progress by the faltering eventual 3rd, Morney Wing. On the run-up to the last fence, Doing Fine had to switch ground as Morney Wing was clearly tying-up, and he was again impeded as they came away from the fence certainly lost more ground than the losing margin of a "neck" to Rocky Creek. While this was a good effort from the 10yo Rocky Creek, who loves these right-handed "London" tracks of Sandown, Kempton and Ascot, it was about 12lb below his peak and he may struggle if the handicapper is hard on him for this. His future is in veteran's chases.
The Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree almost was won again by last years winner Highland Lodge - I did write in Saturday's blog that he had been well prepared for a repeat bid. The 20/1 chance only faltered in the final 100 yards and had he been kept to the far rail (along which eventual winner Vieux Lion Rouge mounted his challenge) then he'd likely have held on. It was a tremendous run by The Last Samurai with 11:12 to be 3rd as I considered the handicapper had lost the plot rating him at OR159; even so, he may have trouble running as well over a standard track off this rating. In winning the race Vieux Lion Rouge looked made for this course and, since winning at Towcester in May last year he has improved with every run. He is a big horse, and that may make him seem "laboured" in his action, but he is relentless and a "National" of some kind must go to him this season.
Later in the afternoon, Many Clouds put in a run that was as good (if not better) than when he was 2nd in this race to Don Poli last season, and this previous Grand National winner put himself back in the picture and amongst the top staying chasers of this season. Had he run in the Hennessey GC last week, he'd have gone close based on this run and, if connections are of the opinion, he is worthy of a place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup line-up.
Last month I tipped As De Mee for the BetVictor handicap chase at Cheltenham; unfortunately he couldn't cope with the hurly-burly of that race but, at Aintree on Saturday, over the National fences he came alive again. This was his 2nd race over these fences as he ran in the Topham Trophy last April when he was well beaten off OR145, and he had shown inklings of better form last season such as when 2nd at Sandown in February to suggest he was well handicapped at OR137 (which was 2lb lower than his rating at Cheltenham last month - I missed that re-rating). He is only a 6yo so if the handicapper does not react too harshly, he could find himself another race this season.
Finally at Chepstow, my reading of the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase was right on-the-mark, as I wrote on the blog that if Lamb Or Cod retained his ability then he was on a lenient mark and would be hard to beat. Further, I wrote that Potters Cross held the key to this race as he'd won over C&D in October and was unsuited by the conditions he ran in LTO. Sure enough, this pair were 1st & 2nd with Lamb Or Cod chasing long-time leader Potters Cross from 6-out and the pair drawing well clear of the remainder of the field.
Overall, it was one of those days when I could have put up 4 selections and been wiped-out, and the racing was very competitive. I've been thinking these past few months that finding value is getting much tougher these days, especially with the lack of decent midweek races. Maybe it is the effect of the plethora of information on the internet with so much data freely available to the ordinary punter, and the various specialists who are closing the "gates" on trends, trainer-stats, sire-preferences and the like which (combined with bookies unwilling to go against the flow and produce their own odds) is starting to constrain the betting market.
Saturday, 3 December 2016
Azure Fly went close yesterday, but 2nd wasn't good enough. We can take some comfort from the fact we had the value having obtained 6/1 on Thursday evening.
Plenty of racing on Saturday with meetings at Ascot, Sandown, Chepstow and Wetherby and some top class racing as well. Having pondered the cards overnight I think that with the earlier start times on a Saturday for the race meetings that, in previous seasons, I've put myself under pressure to get selections out on the blog before I have properly considered the races. As such, I am going to restrict my wagers to horses that I consider tick all the boxes, and not rely on an element of "gut feeling".
At Aintree today we have the Becher Chase at 1:35pm with a huge field declared, and while I'd love to put one up for this it is too big an exercise to analyse in full. Some of these ran at Cheltenham a few weeks ago, and my selection in that 3m3f race (which was won by Viconte Du Noyer) was Cogry who was (unfortunately) brought-down by a loose horse. Cogry was going well that day and he could be the answer as these modified "National" fences are not the big-issue that they once were. I'm expecting a better run from Silvergrove, but his trainer only has the National in mind this season as do a few others. Ziga Boy is another that fits this "National target" bill. Alvarado ran a cracker at Cheltenham as the ground was a lot softer than he likes, and I'm expecting a big run from him even if he'd prefer a longer trip. There is some quiet support about last years winner Highland Lodge who has been well prepared to repeat the win by trainer James Moffatt.
Later in the afternoon, the "Grand Sefton" handicap chase over 2m5f of the National course looks just as competitive a race. They won't hang about in this with Troika Steppes likely to lead from the off. Overall, the racing at Aintree looks entertaining but tricky for the punter.
At Sandown we have a fairly competitive looking "Tingle Creek" over 2-miles at 3:00pm; even so, it will be a surprise to me if the 8yo Un De Sceaux is beaten given his brave front-running display at Cheltenham last March. That is the best form on offer, and he should be able to win this. I don't recommend wagers at odds under 9/4 but, given the opposition, I would have Un De Sceauxat 5/4 for this so the current offer of 2/1 (available generally) looks generous to me. The 6yo Ar Mad has to find about 10lb to win, the others are held on known form.
Perhaps the most interesting race at Sandown is the last of the day at 3:30pm, the London National over 3m4f. Based on his 3rd at Chepstow 14-months ago over a 3-mile trip off OR132, Doing Fine looks well-treated here off OR126. He's down the handicap having lost his form, like a lot of horses did, when with Rebecca Curtis last season. She's turned the corner now, and her stable has returned to form, but connections of Doing Fine evidently decided to give their horse a change of scene. He ran well over hurdles last month and that should have set him up for this. There are a couple of others in the race that look capable of winning: Jimmy The Jetplane and Five In A Row. Both will likely stay the trip (though JTJ is more of a proven stayer), and both will handle the ground - my feeling is that Jimmy The Jetplane is the least exposed and more likely to find improvement. Belmount was exposed LTO. I cannot see Loose Chips beating this level of opposition off OR139 even though he loves Sandown, and if he cannot win the neither can Court By Surprise. I am not confident Cona Tois can be effective off OR121, and I will have to see it first. It is nearly 2 years since Rocky Creek won the Betbright Chase at Kempton off OR154, and while he is possibly capable of a decent effort, it is unlikely he will put it together.
The "good" ground has swung me towards JIMMY THE JETPLANE as on a similar surface he is 5 wins and 4 x 2nd's from 10 runs, whereas many of the others including Doing Fine will be wanting softer ground. The odds of 11/1 look more than fair about JIMMY THE JETPLANE and he's worth an eachway selection. However, be aware that should Doing Fine replicate his run at Chepstow of October last year, then he wins this.
Chepstow has a 3-mile handicap chase at 3:20pm and with Champion Jockey Richard Johnson riding here there is lots of support for Lamb Or Cod. If he has retained his ability then he is on a very lenient handicap mark and will be hard to beat. If you hasn't, then there are a couple of others that come to the fore: Fergal Mael Duin and Potters Cross. Colin Tizzards Fergal Mael Duin ran well LTO and because of the stable form he has attracted a lot of support, but that race at Fontwell fell apart somewhat and his best form has been on soft ground, whereas it is good ground there today. As such, I reckon Potters Cross holds the key to this race as he is a prominent runner who did not enjoy the loose, soft ground at Cheltenham LTO but, before that won over C&D here in October and is a very lightly raced 9yo. Odds of 10/1 look fair eachway value but with only 3 places on offer the odds are too short for me to recommend a wager.
A busy day, but a day for small stakes and watching with interest from the sidelines.