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Record of the blog selections

Current Profit for the 2015-16 Jumps Season = £458.09

from wagers on 54 individual selections (11 winners, 10 placed, 32 unplaced or fell, & 1 non-runner)

Total Staked = £547.00


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The end of another profitable jumps season for the blog

Saturday's Grand National brought-down the curtain on another profitable jumps season for the Wayward Lad blog.  Over the next few days I will be updating the results page for the season and wrapping-up my review of the Cheltenham Festival but, once that is done, that will be it for the blog until the autumn.

If all goes to plan, I will spend July and August updating and pruning the alert list - an exercise which proved excellent practise last autumn - and then begin writing blogs on the jumps scene in late September with the aim of posting my first selection of the 2016-17 jumps season around the 1st October.

So, to my loyal supporters and donators, there is no need to make any more donations until the autumn.  I will be contacting all those on the email list in September with an invitation to rejoin the list for the 2016-17 jumps season.

The Grand National run last Saturday was a very exciting affair, and very open too as there were about half a dozen horses in with a chance of winning the race with 2 jumps to go. Unfortunately, there were none of my selections involved in the finish, as Holywell had fallen at the 2nd fence; Boston Bob was going well until he had to pull-up before Bechers on the 2nd-circuit after goung lame. While Silviniaco Conti pulled-up before completing the first circuit after running like he was hating the experience (he has never won a race with more than 10-runners, and it showed). And my "2nd-team" of outsiders fared no better as Hadrian's Approach fell at the 1st fence; Saint Are was with the leaders till heading-off on the 2nd circuit whereupon he faded and pulled-up late on in the race.  My only "finisher" was Just A Par who trailed the field for the entire race and came home a distant 15th in his own time.

Horseracing moves on and, today, we have the opening day of the "Craven" meeting at Newmarket which announces the flat season is not in full swing.  The next 8-weeks between now and Derby Day on Saturday 5th June will pass quickly in the excitement of meetings at Newmarket, York and Chester.

Keep a lookout for any recent blog selections running again in the next few weeks, especially if they are running in conditions that are considered favourable.  All the best from Wayward Lad.



Saturday, 9 April 2016

2016 Grand National

This is it, the Grand National and the culmination of a tremendous season on the jumps for the Wayward Lad blog. Yesterdays selection La Vaticane ran very well, and was coaxed into the race looking likely to be in the 1st-4 crossing Melling Road (he touched 3.55 in-running on the exchanges from a "high" of 55) but he ran out of steam and

The ground is likely to be more good-to-soft than soft on the National course, and I have already reviewed the field of 40 runners on an earlier blog (on Wednesday). From that review, I came up with a shortlist of 7 runners:

My shortlist for the Grand National:
Silviniaco Conti - In 2012, Paul Nicholls sent Neptune Collonges to win the race,  and this year he sends a better horse in Silviniaco Conti to try and repeat that win. "Conti" loves Aintree, as he's won the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl twice, and he's shown he's as good as ever this season. He's not quite at home around Cheltenham but, like Kempton, this flat Aintree track brings out the best in him. Receiving 2lb from Many Clouds, should they both finish I'd expect "Conti" to be about 5-lengths in front.  There is some debate that he does not stay the Gold Cup trip but my impression is that he's a one-paced, resolute galloper. He ran 4th in the 2014 Gold Cup, and was a disappointing 7th in the 2015 Gold Cup (behind Holywell).  He looks the sort who could win this race by 20-lengths if he gets into the right rhythm. He's 14/1 with several bookies, and most are quarter-odds to 5 places.

O'Faolains Boy - beat Many Clouds over 3-miles as a novice chaser when in-receipt of 4lb, and he's shown this season he still has plenty of ability being a lot better than his OR151 rating. He couldn't keep up the pace in the Gold Cup when he made a brave effort, but he's on my shortlist being a class horse running off a fair weight, and he should be a lot shorter odds than 33/1. On reflection, he probably does not have a winning chance, unless he gets some luck in running, and won't be one of today's wagers. As it happens, he is a non-runner.

Holywell - went into a lot of notebooks for this race when running a cracker to be 2nd in the handicap chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. He also beat a high-class novice field here in 2014 over 3m1f on the Mildmay course, with non-other than Don CossackMany Clouds and O'Faolains Boy behind him that day on level weights. A repeat of that form will see him win this race easily and, running off OR153 and carrying just 10st 12lb, he has been given every chance. Remember, he was 4th in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup.  Odds of 16/1 are still available and most bookies are at quarter-odds to 5 places. It would be no surprise to me to see a gamble on this horse on the run-up to the race.

Boston Bob - is the mount of Ruby Walsh, and he's been thought of as a National horse since winning here in 2014 over 2m4f, but a win in the Punchestown Gold Cup NTO (in April 2014) beating a strong field, meant he was aimed at the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup instead (which he missed). This year, this race has been the target all season, and his win in the Bobbyjo Chase LTO will mean he's in peak form. He's much better than OR151 on his day and I'm surprised he's drifted out to 33/1.  Ruby Walsh did have the ride but he's not able to do it as he's injured; so Paul Townend takes the ride and he is a very able deputy.  Can trainer Willie Mullins crown an already mighty season by winning the Grand National with this horse?

Just A Par - won the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last April and comes alive at this time of year with the sun on his back, and he ran his best race since that Sandown win LTO at Exeter last month carrying 11st 11lb.  He has only 10st 6lb to carry in this and, at 50/1, Just A Par is a lively outsider, and on the shortlist.  Take the odds with Bet Victor who are quarter-odds for 6 places, and I'd be very happy if he comes 6th at these odds with my money on him.

Hadrian's Approach - also won the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, but in 2014. Very lightly raced since, his seasonal debut in February could have brought him back to peak fitness for this and Nicky Henderson will leave no stone unturned. He's another lively outsider at 66/1 as he's much better than OR147 on his day.  The worry is that he may not have had enough racing and, as such, he's passed over.

Saint Are - looked an unlucky loser last year, and looks an even better horse with his win LTO at Doncaster. Running off OR146, just 3lb higher than last year, he has a tremendous chance of winning.  This will be this 3rd Grand National and the 4th time he's attempted the National fences (he ran 3rd in the Becher Chase). The horse just loves this track (many don't) and odds of 16/1 look very reasonable, especially as his trainer Tom George is in top form.

The Grand National has changed recently, not just in trip (shorter) and fences (smaller) but in the quality of horses contesting the race. As such, in recent years 5 of the last 7 winners have carried 11st or more to victory. Horses that carry 11st or more to victory have the ability to either win a Cheltenham Gold Cup (L'Escargot in 1975 with 11st 3lb), or be placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (Mon Mome, Hedgehunter,  and Neptune Collonges all carried 11st or more to win a Grand National and were placed in a Gold Cup).  There are 3 horses in the races who could have gone close to winning a Cheltenham Gold Cup at their peak, and they are the 3 I am advising to place a wager on.

Advised Grand National selections
Silviniaco Conti @ 14/1
Holywell @ 16/1
Boston Bob @ 33/1
Wagers of £5 eachway on all 3, that's £30 staked.

I was going to advise another wager in the 3m1f handicap chase at 4:20pm, but the overnight rain has put me off as it will likely be more testing ground than I anticipated and that could mean an unpredictable race.

The best of luck to all the runners and riders, and let's hope all the horses come back safe to race another day.

Friday, 8 April 2016

2016 Aintree Festival - Day 2

A winning day for the blog with the only selection MENDIP EXPRESS running a good race to be 3rd and taking the place money for our eachway wager, returning a £10 profit on the day. As they crossed the Melling Road heading for the 2nd-last fence, I was hopeful of a stronger finish and perhaps a win, but On The Fringe showed his class and ran on strong.

Overall, it was a good day for punters as there were 3 winning hot fav's in Cue Card, Annie Power and On The Fringe. For me, the highlight of the day was CUE CARD winning the Betfred Bowl and showing that he'd almost certainly have won the Gold Cup had he not fallen at the 3rd-last fence. My assessment of the race is that CUE CARD did not have to run anywhere near his best to win this race, and he didn't as he made numerous jumping errors yet merely had to be shaken-up to win.This race puts the Gold Cup form into perspective, as there's no way that Don Cossack ran to 182 when winning the Gold Cup.  Annie Power was the only horse that finished that stayed the 2m4f trip in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle, and the win proved nothing.  Had The New One not fallen we may have seen a closer race.

We have another full day of top class racing today. The opening 2m4f handicap hurdle run at 1:40pm looks very tough to solve, and there are a couple of horses from my alert list running in Ibis Du Rheu and San Benedeto, and both are ridden by 5lb claimers. Of the pair, I prefer San Benedeto as he's a very genuine horse who always seem to give his best.

I'm going to give the Grade 1 Novices hurdle over 2-mile at 2:15pm a miss, but it should go to Limini who is the race-fav. The next race is more interesting, the 3m1f Grade 1 Mildmay Novices Chase where it is no surprise to see Festival winner Un Temps Pour Tout as the 2/1 fav.  Those who read my assessment of that race will know that I have taken the odds of 50/1 on this horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March, and he has the strongest form in this race (in my opinion). At the odds, I cannot advise a win wager (as my rule is no advised wagers at odds under 9/4) on Un Temps Pour Tout, but there are 3 places eachway in this 8-runner race and I do like the chance of Henri Parry Morgan who did not run at Cheltenham, but looks very exciting. Henri Parry Morgan is as long as 16/1 (5th odds a place) with Paddy Power and Stan James, and that looks generous.

The 2m4f Melling Chase at 3:25pm will almost certainly go to Vautour, who looks to be almost unbeatable at the moment. He's a bit below Cue Card on my ratings, but not by much.

The Topham Chase at 4:05pm is always one of the highlights of the season, and this year looks like being a classic. A huge field of 30 runners make this a tough race in which to find the winner. Looking at past winners, it seems that you need to concentrate on those above 10st 7lb, in other words the top-10 in the handicap. The soft ground will be against a few of these, and LTO winner La Vaticane ticks a lot of boxes.  He is unexposed, likes soft ground and is also a prominent runner and this race will be run at some pace and you don't want to be on a hold-up horse. Odds of 25/1 with quarter-odds a place to 5-places with Bet Victor, Ladbrokes and Coral look very generous.

The last couple of races on the card look tough to find the winner, and so I'm going to stick to having a wager on LA VATICANE.

Selection
Aintree 4:05pm LA VATICANE, £5 eachway @ 25/1 (Bet Victor, Ladbrokes and Coral all go quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4,5)



Thursday, 7 April 2016

2016 Aintree Festival Day 1

What a cracking day of racing we have at Aintree. We have 4 consecutive Grade 1 races to start the meeting off, and the opening race sets the stage for the rest of the day.  There has been a lot of overnight rain, and the rain looks like continuing to fall for most of the morning - so the ground will be more soft than good-to-soft.

The Manifesto Novices Chase at 1:40pm over 2m4f brings together some of the best novices seen this season over jumps. Arzal did not go to Cheltenham and he looks one of those best suited to the conditions and should prove to be better than his OR151 rating. Garde La Victoire looks an out-and-out 2-mile chaser, while L'Ami Serge was at the limit of his stamina over 2m4f LTO at Cheltenham and his only chance is if this flat track suits him better. Rock The World is another who seems best at 2-mile. The only horse to have beaten Sizing John since November 2014 is Douvan (they have met 4 times since that initial meeting), and this extra 4-furlongs 'could' bring about a further improvement in him. Odds of 3/1 look fair given his profile, and could look extremely generous if he proves to stay the trip. Odds of 13/2 about Arzal look fair eachway value as it's difficult to see him not being in the 1st-3 finishers. Of those with a win at 2m4f, only Bouvreuil looks to be capable of being placed, and odds of 14/1 look an interesting eachway play.

The 4yo Juvenile Hurdle over 2m1f at 2:15pm looks a penalty kick for Ivanovich Gorbatov and odds of 11/8 actually (to me) look generous as he's about 10lb better than anything else in the race.  If you read my review of the 2nd day of the Cheltenham Festival you will know I think we will see more improvement from Romain De Senam and he can be an interesting eachway wager at 16/1 in this 9-runner race.

At 2:50pm we have the Betfred Bowl over 3m1f, and the only way Cue Card won't win this is if he does not finish the race. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that, had he not fallen at the 3rd-last fence when putting in a short-step and thumping the fence hard, he'd have won the Gold Cup easily. Everything else, other than Don Cossack, was beaten at the time and Don Cossack did not put enough distance between himself and the exhausted Djakadam to suggest he would have troubled Cue Card in the final 3-furlongs to the line. The Gold Cup run may have brought-on his fitness and he will likely be the one chasing home the fav.  However, the Gold Cup was a hard race for both Djakadam and Don Poli.  As such, it may be the 7yo Saphir Du Rheu who won over this C&D at this meeting last year in tremendous style, if his trainer has rekindled his enthusiasm which was lacking LTO at Cheltenham.

The Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f at 3:25pm is a race with a great history, and I think it is a real shame that it has moved from Saturday to a Thursday slot. The quality of the entries has not suffered, as we have the 1st-4 from the Champion Hurdle meeting again over this longer trip, but the race demands top-billing. In 2014, The New One won this race as a 6yo, and that was the last time he ran over a trip longer than 2m1f. If he can repeat that effort then the fav Annie Power will have to pull out all the stops to win. Nichols Canyon won the novices hurdle over C&D last year, and has improved about 10lb since then. He has a great chance too, as I'm sure the jockeys wont let Ruby Walsh dominate the race on Annie Power as he did at Cheltenham in the Champion Hurdle. What of My Tent Or Yours? He has never run beyond 2m1f but, if he improves for his seasonal debut when 2nd in the Champion Hurdle, he could prove hard to beat. All the above have chances of winning, this should be a race to savour. I may well have a personal wager on The New One at 10/1.

The Foxhunters' Chase over the National fences at 4:05pm is for amateur riders, and bility in the saddle counts for a lot, as all the horses carry the same weight.  On The Fringe is easily the best horse in the race, rated OR147 and, in Mr JJ Codd, he has one of the best amateurs riding today. Pacha Du Polder is the next-best horse rated OR138 and this time trainer Paul Nicholls has put up Mr W Biddick who is another very good amateur.  If he had been in the saddle LTO then Pacha Du Polder may well have won at Cheltenham. This pair were 1st and 2nd in the race last year (On The Fringe won) and they were well clear of the other finishers. Two other horses worth a mention at Current Event also rated OR138 and ridden by the excellent Miss Katie Walsh, and Mendip Express (also rated OR138) who is ridden by Mr D Maxwell.  I think Mendip Express is capable of running a big race here and odds of 12/1 look decent eachway value, while Current Event has never run well here.  The winner will almost certainly come from one of these 4.

Only one clear fav has won the 2-mile handicap chase run at 4:40pm in the past 10 years and there have been some long-odds winners. This race looks wide-open to me as I have no confidence in the market leaders Fayette County and Solar Impulse. A tricky handicap and one to either avoid or have a small wager on a long-odds chance.  I will give the "bumper" a miss.

This looks a day for winning favourites and it could pay to wager on the fav's in the opening 3 races (Sizing John, Ivanovich Gorbatov, and Cue Card) and in doubles and a treble.  I could not wager on Annie Power at odds of 1/2 if you paid me.

I think MENDIP EXPRESS has a great eachway chance in the Foxhunters' Chase and he's my only advised selection of the day.

Selection:
Aintree 4:05pm MENDIP EXPRESS, £5 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4 with Bet Victor, Ladbrokes and Corals)