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daily insight into the sport of Horseracing and
Record of the blog selections for the 2013-14 Jumps Season:-
Profit = £189.04 from 76 wagers
staked = £985 (an average of £12.96 per race/wager)
19.19% return on investment
advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The weekend starts here

We have a weekend of top jump racing at Wetherby, Ascot, Ayr and Uttoxeter and - with good weather expected - there should be no excuses.
A quick apology for the lack of a blog last Saturday. Unfortnately, the internet access at home was diabolical on Saturday (thank you Talktalk) and it was near impossible to undertake any form study on the morning. I'm taking a look at the weekends racing a day early (today) and will have a draft blog written before the end of this afternoon.
So far, it has been a very disappointing start to my jump campaign on the betting front. A large part of the reason for the poor start is that my job has become a lot more busier than it used to be. I'm going to have a think over the next couple of weeks as to whether providing selections this season is a viable exercise given that my time for form-study is restricted. I've also committed myself to producing a "companion" blogsite focussing on the Cheltenham Festival and it may be prudent to relax my committment to Wayward Lad to a weekend newsletter.

Onto today's racing and the exciting meeting at Wetherby.
The feature race there is the Listed handicap chase over 2m4f & 110 yards, and the fav is Silver Roque.  I'll admit that this horse is on my alert list with an instruction to wager on him first-time-out - which is today. This horse is very good when fresh, but he comes here today on OR142 which is 10lbs more than the OR132 he won off on his seasonal debut in November 2013.  Also, his record on good ground isn't too hot and he's far better with a bit of "give" in the ground. As such, I think he's opposable. The obvious one to take him on with is 2nd-fav Trustan Times, but he's more of a 3-mile chaser as was shown when 3rd in the Scottish National when last seen.  Off The Ground looks to be harshly treated on OR143 based on his last few runs and he has something to prove today. But, a return to the form of his wins at Doncaster in Nov/Dec last year will see him go well today. Doeslessthanme will find this trip stretching him and he's a good horse over 2-mile.  Much the same can be said of Mwaleshi, but this unexposed 9yo who will be having only his 5th chase run could spring a surprise. Last season Viva Colonia started off on my alert list but, after a promising start to the season, he didn't progress. Even so, he ran to a consistent level being rated OR144 after running 2nd over 2m4f on soft in January. He was outclassed last weekend and the handicapper has given him a chance today with OR138. The ground is no problem and odds of 16/1 look mighty interesting. Shadows Lengthen won a couple in the Spring, including over 2m4f at Haydock on good ground in March off OR129. On reflection, his OR131 rating today looks very fair, as he has had a spin over hurdles to bring him to fitness, so he can;t be discounted either. I was intending on making my selection Cedre Bleu but now I've written this race review I'm not so sure. No doubt about it, Cedre Bleu is a horse with plenty of ability but with a reticense to show it. He's been called a few names by not winning races he should've, but a change of trainer - he has his first run for Charlie Mann today - could be the making of him. The odds are not generous tho, as he's best-priced at 6/1 with Bet365.  Brian Ellison has a good record here at Wetherby and that combined with his consistency last season (despite not winning) and that he had a run last week points me in the direction of VIVA COLONIA at 16/1.

Wetherby 2:15 VIVA COLONIA, £5 eachway @ 16/1 (Stan James, Bet365, Bet Victor - all go BOG and a 5th the odds a place 1,2,3)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Review of the weekends Jump Racing

Not the best of days for the blog on Saturday.
The main focus of my attantion was the 2m4f handicap chase at Chelenham which was won for the 2nd-year in succession by JOHNS SPIRIT.  As I wrote in the blog, his performance when 4th at the Cheltenham Festival in the Byrne Group Plate showed he was capable of winning off OR147. As such, he made my shortlist of 4 horses who were potential winners of the race, and the reasons why I overlooked were (1) he was 22lb worse-off with the consistent ASTRACAD from that win 12-months ago, and (2) as such, he needed a career-best run to win.
Sure enough, Astracad ran his usual consistent race and came home 4th; but JOHNS SPIRIT won in convincing style beating off the sustained challenge of Persian Snow. Long-term readers of the blog will know about Persian Snow, as he was one of my Cheltenham Festival selections when he ran a promising 6th in the Rewards4Racing Novices handicap Chase.  The form of Saturdays race looks rock-solid and I'd be keen to follow both JOHNS SPIRIT and PERSIAN SNOW when they run next-time-out.
What is more galling about the race result is that the only horse in the race on my alert list was the winner and I chose to overlook him.
I'd also be keen on the 3rd-placed ERICHT next-time-out as this was only his 6th chase race, and it was easily the best chase performance he's put up to date. It should be remembered that he was 5th in the Coral Cup handicap hurdle at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. Given he was beaten 7-lengths on Saturday it's unlikely the handicapper will be hard on him for this.
Another worth keeping an eye out for NTO is CHAMPION COURT. He always needs his seasonal debut and should improve 10lb+ for this race. He ran 7th in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last year off OR157 and then went on to contest the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon where he was just touched-off by Riverside Theatre in what was his best performance last season. I'd like to see him return to Cheltenham for another go at the Paddy Power, and this year it wont be his seasonal debut.

My other selection on Saturday was Mon Parrain in the 3m1f Class 2 handicap Chase. The less said about this performance, the better. I had hoped that trainer Paul Nicholls had got this horses head straight after he won at Cheltenham in April; but no. Saying that, even if he'd run 5lb better than he did in April, he still wouldn't have won this race and may not have been in the 1st-4.  This was a tremendous performance by ROALCO DE FARGES, who  has now won 3 of his last 6 completed chases. It should be remembered that he ran 2nd to Tidal Bay in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2012 after which he wasn't seen again until February this year. He's won on both his visits to Newbury over the fences there, and if he goes for the Hennessey Gold Cup next he'll surely be one of the market leaders. It's unlikely the handicapper will raise him more than 10lb for this win. When I wrote Saturdays blog I highlighted my opinion that I thought STANDING OVATION was well handicapped, and so it proved as he ran a great race to be 2nd, but he had no chance with the winner. Had I known LE BEC would be a non-runner, then I'd have made STANDING OVATION my selection, but it would have been "win" only. STANDING OVATION may find himself vulnerable if raised more than 5lb for this. In 3rd was ALFIE SPINNER, and his horse hasn't won since December 2011, nearly 4 years ago!  He was a very good novice chaser, but he's never quite returned to that form since. However, he is another who finds improvement for a run, and I'll be interested in where he goes next after this.

My old friend FOXCUB made an error early-on in the handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, and yet still ran a respectable 5th and so he looks primed for a good run NTO.

At Kelso, the 3m2f Class 3 handicap chase went to the horses who were race-fit from a recent run: Carlito Brigante and Gleann Na Ndochais. Given the fallers early-on in the race, I thought that FILL THE POWER had the rade gifted to him, but he ran like he needed it runing-out of puff about 6-furlongs out. He'll strip a lot fitter NTO when I'll be expecting to recoup losses.

I was beating myself up yesterday for missing out on JOHNS SPIRIT, and maybe I was trying too hard to find a winner at odds longer than 8/1. A £20 win wager on JOHNS SPIRIT would have recouped the losses so far this jumps season, and this was a lost opportunity. Similarly, had I permed the 4 from my shortlist into 12 straight-forecasts hen I'd have been richly rewarded, the straight forecast paying £43.69 to a £1 stake.

What readers of the blog should take from this is that the narrative provides as much advice to make profit from as the selections (when they are successful).

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Cheltenham - the jumps are back!

Perhaps I should have been a bit more aggressive yesterday, as the 2 horses that I thought had distinct winning opportunities - VICENTE and THE ROMFORD PELE - both won at useful odds, and my opinion that THE YOUNG MASTER had been under-appreciated by the handicapper was absolutely spot-on as he won at 9/1.

While Vicente was a bit fortunate, there was never a moments doubt about THE ROMFORD PELE. I expected the early-morning odds (he was best-priced at 15/8) to shorten, and I fully expected him to start at 6/4 or maybe shorter; as such, there's no way I could recommend him as a wager. My policy has always been not to recommend a wager at odds less than 9/4, and that policy remains in place this sesaon. Still, altho' I didn't recommend a winning wager, the blog narrative was strong enough to point those who read it (and wanted to have a wager) onto winners at odds of 7/2, 9/4 and 9/1.
On to today, and while there is the “Champions Day” meeting at Ascot, I’m more interested in the jumps meeting at Cheltenham. We had spectacular success on this day last year when I posted just the one selection, Johns Spirit, which was advised at 14/1 early on the morning of the race. It was probably one of the easiest winners I found all season, almost doing cartwheels up the hill to the finish line. This is where an alert list comes into its own.

After yesterday’s confidence boosting success, I'm more than hopeful of a good result today.

Cheltenham opens with a novice hurdle and VIVALDI COLLONGES is a horse I've had on my alert list for some time. He future lies over fences, so I'm not tempted to take a short-price about him today. 

That is followed by what looks to be a very competitive 2m4f handicap chase - the one won by Johns Spirit last year, and Johns Spirit comes back to try and win it again. His performance when 4th at the Cheltenham Festival in the Byrne Group Plate showed he's capable of winning off OR147 over todays C&D. Whether he'll be fit enough today is debateable, but he was certainly was last year. In 2013, Astracad gave him 13lb, but today he gets 9lb - that's a 22lb turnaround. As such he has to be on the shortlist as he's so consistent at this trip. Ackertsc is another who's had trouble finding the winners enclosure yet is very consistent and well handicapped today off OR137. Another I think is well handicapped is Persian Snow who also ran well at the Festival. The winner should come from those 4 in my opinion. Johns Spirit will need a career-best to win today, but being only a 7yo (he seems to have been around for ages) he should still have some improvement to come. Personally, I think he'll prove better at 3-mile this season (that's where he was aimed as a novice chaser). So, at today's weights I'm going for ASTRACAD who should be in the mix. He's best-priced at 8/1 with Ladbrokes who go a 5th the odds a place.

The days feature race is a 3m1f handicap chase and the top-weight Le Bec is on my shortlist as a potential 155+ chaser. So, if he's up to that level then he'll prove hard to beat today. My old friend Midnight Appeal remains on my shortlist, but he's likes soft/heavy ground and Cheltenham hasn't been his favourite track in the past. Personally, I don't think Dursey Sound has run well enough to be rated OR141, but Standing Ovation has certainly shown himself to be better than OR129. He ran a cracker at the Festival in the race won by Holywell, and runs off a 2lb lower mark today. There are some poorly handicapped horses in this race (eg Mart Lane, and Duke Of Lucca) so those that are well-in should do well as they should break-away in the final mile. MON PARRAIN is one such horse and he is still lightly raced for an 8yo. The trip and ground will suit him today and at 16/1 he looks a real eachway steal. He won over C&D in April when he last ran, and his OR144 rating looks lenient on what he's done in the past. He's had his issues but, on his day, he's a very talented horse.

Finally, another from my alert list - FOXCUB. I really like this horse as he's very consistent and always gives his best.  He ran a great race at this meeting last season (he ran 3rd over 2-mile) but improved on that when sent over this sort of trip. He had a good pipe-opener at Fontwell recently when 2nd, so comes here race fit, with ground, trip and track in his favour. Unfortunately, he has a big weight to carry 11st 8lb, and no horse has carried more than 11st 2lb to win this in recent years. I can see him being placed but it may prove tough for him to win, so I'll be on him place-only.

Cheltenham 2:35 ASTRACAD, £5 eachway @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes, 5th odds a place BOG)
Cheltenham 3:45 MON PARRAIN, £5 eachway @ 16/1 (Bet Victor and Stan James, quarter-odds a place BOG)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Cheltenham to welcome a new master

Yesterdays selection Greywell Boy gave us no sort of run as his stamina gave out half-a-mile out. This has been the worst start to a jumps season for me since I started blogging, so I'm going to be a bit more selective with my selections.
We are at Cheltenham for the 2-day meeting, but todays races look lacking in opportunity for me. The opening novice hurdle race looks between Vicente and Blaklion to me, as this can only be a pipe-opener for Present View en-route to the Paddy Power Handicap Chase here in November. Altho' Blaklion has won recently nd is race-fit, I don't expect VICENTE to arrive here unprepared and on what we've seen of him he looks the better horse. He also has a 5lb advantage on the weights and the odds of 4/1 (avaibable generally) about him for this look tempting.
The 3-mile handicap hurdle at 3:15 is another race that looks interesting as I have a couple from my alert list in this race. They are ON THE BRIDGE and SAMINGARRY.
ON THE BRIDGE looks interesting in that he ran 4th in this race last year off OR139 and he runs off OR137 today. He comes into this race in form and fit and odds of 10/1 look fair. I'm not expecting much from Samingarry as this run is a seasonal pipe-opener before going chasing.
The 3-mile novice chase at 3:50 looks to be a "match" between THE ROMFORD PELE and Highland Retreat. I think it's a big ask of of Highland Retreat to take on THE ROMFORD PELE, even when in-receipt of 15lb, on her chase debut as she'll need to run 135+ to win. She might well end up 150+ but a chase debut at Cheltenham is tough.  Odds of 15/8 about THE ROMFORD PELE look interesting.
The amateur riders handicap chase at 5:00 over and extended 3-mile looks a tricky race. The blog went close to finding the winer last year with Handy Andy who was left 6-lengths clear jumping the last before failing to stay up the hill. I have never thought the race-fav Balbriggan is a "proper" 3-mile chaser and I expect his stamina to be exposed today. The one I think may do the winning is THE YOUNG MASTER, as the handicapper has very little to go on (just one race) in allotting him a rating of OR121 and he should be "in-the-van" for most of the race. Odds of 9/1 (Stan James and William Hill) look fair in the circumstances for this 5yo.

I'm not making a selection today, as I want to find one at odds of between 3/1 - 6/1 that I can make a straight "win" wager and, while I VICENTE fits the odds criteria, novice hurdles isn't really my strongpoint.

All the best from Wayward Lad.