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Record of the blog selections

Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Friday, 29 May 2020

You are never to old to learn

Nobody can not be aware of the recent events which led to a close-down of horseracing in the UK and Europe.  Thankfully, for the industry, that close-down is coming to an end on Monday 1st June, when we have the first meeting of the new flat season run on the all-weather surface at Newcastle.
During the forced break, along with millions of others, I was required to work from home on "furlough" from 23rd March and managed to keep myself busy.
Then, on 8th April, I noticed something - horseracing was still operating in Hong Kong.
Having lived in the city for 7 years between 1990-97, and been a regular visitor to Happy Valley, as well as a very regular punter, I was more than interested in resuming an old relationship.
That first day was exploratory: I knew nothing of the horses, jockeys, form. A couple of small eachway wagers lost, but my enthusiasm was rekindled and I vowed to be back for the following Wednesday on 15th April. I chose the best race on the card that I had the best chance of finding the winner in - a Class 3 over 1200m - and I chose well, having an eachway wager on Island Shine at 8/1.
Since then, I've used the Hong Kong racing to review and reflect on my betting strategy.
I make no secret (via my twitter account) that I regularly revisit the Nick Mordin book "Winning Without Thinking" for inspiration and a confidence boost, and I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone who wants to place a regular wager on horseracing to read this book (with a highlighter and post-it notes).
There amongst the pages was advise that has really fine-tuned my gambling in recent weeks: nobody who seeks to gamble on horses with any degree of success does so unless they produce their own odds-line, and you cannot produce your own odds-line unless you produce your own ratings.
Producing ratings has been the backbone of blog since 2010.  Not everyone agrees with them, but that's the point - ratings are your OWN estimation of the form of the horses. If everyone had the same ratings, betting on horses would be a whole lot less profitable.
As soon as I became interested in Hong Kong's horseracing, I started producing ratings, and with just 2 meetings a week and every race televised, that was a simple operation.
Producing an odds-line was a bit more difficult.
For that I had to go back nearly 20 years to 2002, when I was a subscriber to a mail-only racing club called "Smartsig" (there was also an email forum, as this was before the days of the internet as it is now).  The raw data produced by Smartsig was groundbreaking stuff, and formed the basis of my odds-line calculations.
What I was striving to do was remove any unconscious-bias from my selections. I wanted to select horses based purely on race-form combined with the most likely circumstances that produced winners. I wasn't interested in gossip or hype, gallop reports, jockey opinion, or bookmakers publicity. So I produced a spreadsheet in 2002 that ran (luckily) in Excel which rated the horses in a race dependent on the data that I input, and that values attributed to that data.
Guess what?  It worked! Brilliantly in fact.
The first race I reviewed of the spreadsheet in its final form was a 3-mile chase at Folkstone, and the spreadsheet came up with a 12/1 chance in a field of 10 (trained by Paul Henderson). A tentative eachway wager came up trumps when the horse won easily.  Why didn't I continue? It was taking me nearly 2 hours to input the data per race, so I could only review one race a day.  My day-job (plus my complex personal life) was in the way, and the spreadsheet was saved to the hard-drive - until 13th May when I used it to prepare for the Happy Valley meeting that day.
I reviewed 4 races, and the spreadsheet came up with "best value" wagers on
Smart Leader - Won @ 9/4
Blastoise - 2nd @ 7/1 (beaten a neck)
Surrealism - Won @ 4/1 
Shamport - unplaced @ 11/2 (given poor ride, carried wide)
Since then, the spreadsheet has highlighted well-handicapped horses, that are fit, in-form and well-drawn, and available at value odds, and my profits have reflected that advantage.
I'm rethinking how I approach UK racing again, almost certainly reducing the number of races I look at and wager on, almost certainly produce ratings for more races than is required.
You are never too old to learn new tricks!

Saturday, 14 March 2020

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival Blog performance

What a cracking final day of the Cheltenham Festival for the blog selections.
We went into the day with a £57.50 profit (typo y'day) on cumulative stakes of £141 - that's a 40% return on investment. Plenty of professional tipsters will be bragging about 25% ROI.
On the final day I advised wagers in just 3 races.
First-up was the Triumph Hurdles, and the jungle drums had been sounding out that GOSHEN was the best horse trainer Gary Moore had ever handled. I suggested a £5 win wager at 11/4 and a straight-forecast Goshen to beat Sir Psycho (the Paul Nicholls 2nd-string). If anyone watching the race thought Goshen would not win with half-a-mile to run, they must have been on the wacky-baccy.  coming to the final flight he was 15-lengths ahead - then disaster. Jumped a tad early, hit the hurdle but stood up, and then catapulted the jockey out of the saddle! The horse cantered on riderless for another 150 yards before the eventual winner caught him up. that's racing for you.
Next up the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
for me there was only one horse to wager on, and that was last years winner AL BOUM PHOTO. Talking to a horseracing sage before the event, we concluded that in Al Boum Photo we were getting 3/1 about a 6/4 chance - this was a Mullins trained Gold Cup winner going off at 3/1.
With that thought fresh in my mind I doubled my usual stake.
Was there ever any doubt?
The advised wager of £20 @ 100/30 was indeed very generous and another £66.65 into the profit.
I was full of confidence about the final selection of the day and of the week SHANTOU FLYER, as he had everything in his favour. The only danger I could see was the Mullins (as ever) trained Billaway who was tricky to rate. For the first 3-miles of the race, I thought Shantou Flyer was in the driving seat, but then Billaway started to make ground along with the 66/1 outsider It Came To Pass (last seen in January, pulling-up in a point-to-point at Kilfeacle in Ireland - I don't know where that is either - before that, he was 7th of 16 on Boxing Day at Down Royal when he was 23-lengths behind Billaway and carrying 2lb less). I can accept being beaten by the Mullins trained Billaway, but a 66/1 rank outsider? The only inkling of ability is that he's a half-brother to the Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere.

After a tremendous final day, and had Goshen jumped the final flight it could have been a much better result for the blog, we ended up with profit of £104.16 to recommended stakes of £186.00 - that is a return on investment of 56%.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading the blog, with my thoughts and reasons, and following me in on the wagers. It has been a great year. If you fancy buying me a pint for the pleasure, use the donate button and send me a few quid. All the best, and keep safe for next year.

Over the next few weeks I will make a full review of the results and give my thoughts for lessons learned.

Day 1 - Tuesday
Cash Back LOST (£10.00)
Mister Malarky LOST (£10.00)
THE CONDITIONAL - WON - £54.00
Ballyandy LOST (£10.00)
Conerstone Lad LOST (£10.00)
Lord Du Mesnil LOST (£10.00) 
Carried Forward = £4.00 profit
Staked = £64.00

Day 2 - Wednesday
Copperhead LOST (£20.00)
EASYSLAND - WON - £35.00
Carried forward = £19.00 profit
Staked = £30.00 (cumulative = £94.00)

Day 3 - Thursday
Itchy Feet LOST (£10.00)
MIN - WON - £25.00
Frodon LOST (£2.00)
Spiritofthegames LOST (£10.00)
CONCERTISTA - WON - £22.50
BOB MAHLER - 3rd (advised eachway) £13.00
Carried forward = £57.50
Staked = £47.00 (cumulative = £141.00)

Day 4 - Friday
Goshen LOST (£10.00)
AL BOUM PHOTO - WON - £66.66
Delta Work LOST (£5.00)
Shantou Flyer LOST (£10.00
Profit for the Week = £104.16
Cumulaive Stakes for the Festival = £186.00
Return on Investment = 56%

Friday, 13 March 2020

Cheltenham Festival - Day 4 (Friday)

We went into the 3rd day of the Festival holding a £15 profit on £94 staked over 5 races.
Day 3 is probably the trickiest as it holds 3 handicaps, alongside 3 championship races and a mares hurdle. Unfortunately, the selection in the 1st race, Itchy Feet, fell. However we were back in the game with the 2nd race when my narrative suggested that TOUT ES PERMIS would give you a good run for your money, and he ran 3rd after looking a like a winner 2-out. The Ryanair Chase saw the blog in profit pn the day as I advised a £10 win wager on eventual winner MIN at 5/2 (£25 profit).
The Stayers Hurdle threw-up a shock winner, but again the narrative suggested a long-odds placed horse in BACARDYS at 33/1.
In the handicap chase, we just missed a payday when selection Spiritofthegames came 6th, just a nose behind the 5th horse. Keep an eye on this one next time he runs, as he was left at the start and rattled home in the final mile and should have in the 1st 4.
There was no mistake over what won the Mares Hurdle: selection CONCERTISTA romped home (£5 win advised) at 9/2; that's £22.50 profit.
Finally, the Kim Muir, and I thought I'd found a handicap blot with Bob Mahler. Had he kicked-on after jumping the 3rd-last and opened up a lead, he would not have been caught. He stayed-on strong from the final fence to take 3rd (£5 ew advised at 18/1 = £13 profit).
Into the final day with £75.50 profit on £141 staked.

To be honest, I thought earlier this week that we would be watching these races being run behind closed doors, but the course will be open for business.

1:30 Triumph Hurdle over 2-mile and 179 yards
The whisper in the industry is that Goshen is the best horse trainer Gary Moore has ever had, and when you see how he's won his 3 hurdle races to date, you can see why. Which all makes you wonder what the handicapper was smoking when he rewarded Solo with a rating of OR157 for his debut (and only UK) win in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton? That is 6lb higher than GOSHEN. Of the others, Allmankind was impressive when winning LTO on 27Dec, but that 77-day break is too long to come here off for me (ave 34 days, Zaynar in 2009 was 55 days). Aspire Tower fell LTO and the record of fallers LTO winning at Cheltenham is dire, can anyone name one? He's a talented horse, but maybe on another day. Paul Nicholls (who trains Solo) also has Sir Psycho in the race, and this horse has improved for every run and was also impressive LTO when winning on 15Feb. While Solo may be the stable star, it would not surprise me to see this one trouble Goshen most.
Suggested Wager:
GOSHEN: £5 win @ 11/4
and £5 Exacta (Forecast) 5 (Goshen) to beat 9 (Sir Psycho)

2:10 County (handicap) Hurdle over 2-mile and 179 yards
Of the last 12 winner, 8 went off at odds longer than 20/1.
Stick to horses which have NOT won over trips longer than 2m1f, and 5yo and 6yo horses have a good record. The LTO winner CHRISTOPHER WOOD trained by Paul Nicholls looks interesting. He wasn't far behind Pentland Hills in a G1 at Aintree last April and he had a wind-op since then. He could be a lot better than his OR145 rating, and he looks a bit of a dark horse in this, he's 33/1 with Ladbrokes, and I only put him up as a "fun" wager if you want to get involved.

2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle over 3-mile
You would think that a championship hurdle race over 3-mile would be a decent betting race, but in the past 6 years the shortest SP for the winner has been 11/1 - last years winner Minella Indo went off at 50/1 and there was silence from the crowd! To be honest, I have not a clue about this race, and with 19 going to post, it would seem that the majority of trainers don't know either and that's why they are chancing their arm with an entry. The current 28/1 chance REDFORD ROAD has won over C&D which is (perhaps) useful information, and he seems to need a stamina test as he was one-paced when dropped to 2m4f NTO, but again I only put him up as a "fun" wager if you want to get involved.

3:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase over 3-miles 2-furlongs & 70 yards
This is the big one of the day, and it looks an intriguing race.
Last year, I wrote that I was surprised Ruby Walsh wasn't riding AL BOUM PHOTO in what turned-out to be his final Cheltenham Gold Cup. There was a doubt back then over the stamina of Al Boum Photo, but the way he won the race last year he blew those doubts away. Personally, on my own ratings, nothing since has bettered that run, and Al Boum Photo could be one of the better Gold Cup winners of recent years.  I'm expecting him to win again, and put himself in the record books.
So what can beat him? Delta Work has improved immeasurably this season and they will get a better run out of him in this than they did in the RSA Chase last year, but there is also (in my opinion) a doubt over the jockey Mark Walsh, who rides the horse for the 1st time. I don't doubt his ability, but this will be a tough race to ride a horse for the 1st-time in.
I was at Cheltenham in January when Santini beat Bristol De Mai, and that day I didn't think we'd seen a Gold Cup winner. Bristol De Mai made a bad error 3-out and though he got back into the race, the effort told on the run-in. For me, Santini has to improve at least 7lb on that run to win this race.
Last year I was on Clan Des Obeaux, and he held every chance 2-out but he didn't stay the final 2-furlongs. He has since repeated his win in the King George at Kempton over 3-miles and that looks to be his best trip, and I would be looking for more than 12/1 to tempt me to placing an eachway wager on him to be placed as I just cannot see him winning.
Lostintranslation is interesting, when you look at his form in the autumn, but that he pulled-up LTO at Kempton and hasn't run since, plus his trainer Tizzard is having a terrible Festival (just 1 placed from 12 runners) you have to question his chance in this race.
Kemboy was a 1st-fence faller last year, then went on to win 2 x G1 chases including beating his stablemate Al Boum Photo at Punchestown. unfortunately, he's not looked the same horse so far this year, and will need to improve to win.  I'm also not happy that the amateur PW Mullins is riding as he's much better in hurdle races than as a jockey in chases.
Nothing else really has a chance in this, unless there are multiple fallers, and so I think this is between AL BOUM PHOTO @ 100/30, and Delta Work @ 5/1.
The odds are not great, I'm already on Al Boum Photo at 9/2 and Delta Work at 7/1 (see earlier blogs from this year).
Suggested Wager:
AL BOUM PHOTO: £20 WIN @ 100/30 (available generally)
DELTA WORK (saver bet): £5 WIN @ 5/1 (available generally)

4:10 Foxhunters Hunter Chase over 3-miles 2-furlongs & 70 yards
Last years 1st Hazel Hill and 2nd Shantou Flyer return, and this race is between that pair, the race fav Minella Rocco who was 2nd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2017, and has looked a decent hunter-chaser this season, and the Irish challenger Billaway.
Minella Rocco has the beating of Hazel Hill from when they met on 1st Feb, and the Irish trained Billaway does not look good enough to me being only 8yo and rated only OR135.
So, can SHANTOU FLYER beat Minella Rocco? Absolutely!
He loves Cheltenham, he is still relatively young at 10yo (the same as Minella Rocco) but he's a much more professional horse, with no issues. Since being 2nd in this last year, he has switched stabled to Mrs Rose Loxton and lookes back to his best form - remember in March 2018, he was 2nd in the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Festival running off OR152. Odds of 11/2 look good to me, and I'm rounding off my Festival with a win wager on him before heading off home to Brighton.
Suggested Wager:
SHANTOU FLYER: £10 win @ 11/2 (available generally)

Many thanks for reading the blog, it has been (again) a successful Festival for me. Whatever happens today I will be in profit for the week, and you cannot ask for more than that.  If you have enjoyed it, please send your thanks via twitter on @wayward_lad.
I've had to close the comments section on this blog to followers only due to repeated abuse, otherwise I would appreciate your response.
Aintree next!




Thursday, 12 March 2020

Cheltenham Festival - Day 3 (Thursday)

What a start for the blog!
Okay, I didn't post a wager for the 1st race won by the odds-on ENVOI ALLEN, but I did write this "The unbeaten Grade 1 winner will prove difficult to beat, and it may pay to combine the fav with his stablemate Easywork, for a Gordon Elliott one-two" - the Exacta paid £9.60 to a £1 stake. It pays to read the blog!
Copperhead was disappointing, but not as disappointing as Defi Du Seuil.
In the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, again I didn't post a wager, and again I provided a gem of advice; "If you want to have a wager, perhaps the Gordon Elliott trained BLACK TEARS might oblige as this mare ran a cracker at Leopardstown on the 2nd Feb, and then followed up with a good run in a Grade 2 hurdle. Could be under the radar." Black Tears ran 2nd @ 12/1.
Finally, the blog selection EASYSLAND ensured that we go into the 3rd day £15 up after he won well in the X-Country Chase - I did write that you might not find an easier 7/2 winner this week!

Onto today, and the 3rd day of the Cheltenham Festival is my favourite, because I am usually there (I will be today), and I've found some good winners over the years, especially in the handicaps.
The day opens with a really decent novice chase.

1:30 Marsh Novices Chase (Grade 1) over 2-mile & 4-furlongs
A really strong race, and one in which Graded race-winning form is important. Race-fav Itchy Feet ticks the boxes having won the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown LTO, and he was also 3rd in the Supreme Hurdle last year. If Faugheen wins there wont be a dry eye in the house. We will know more about his chance after watching Allaho in the RSA on Wed.
Melon was a top-class hurdler and could certainly be the best of these, but he flopped LTO and has yet to run over this trip as a chaser. For me ITCHY FEET should be the 7/4 fav and, as such,odds of 4/1 look mighty generous.
Suggested Wager:
ITCHY FEET: £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally)

2:10 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle over 3-mile   
A front-runner that stays, that's the ideal horse for this race, and I can't see one that fits the bill. I'm tempted by Third Wind as trainer Hughie Morrison has done really well with a small string of hurdlers and bumpers, but this would be a step into the unknown stamina-wise for him. A horse that looks very interesting is TOUT ES PERMIS trained by Noel Meade who has sent only 3 horses over for the Festival, and this is the best of them. Rated OR155 as a chaser, he runs off OR136 in this hurdle and we know he stays 3-mile, travels well, and Meade has put a talented 7lb claimer on. I've been reminded that Meade has a poor Cheltenham record, but there is a lot to like about this horse, and there is plenty of 20/1 about this horse who could give you a good run for your money.

2:50 Ryanair Chase over 2-mile 4-furlongs & 127 yards
One of my favourite races.
There has been a huge gamble on A Plus Tard, who won  the Novice H'Cap Chase over 2m4f last year in a canter, so (on his day) he's a decent horse, but he will need to improve 7lb on that run to win this. I think he will meet his match in MIN who was unlucky to be up against Altior over 2-miles and steps up in trip. He's won Grade 1's over 2m4f at Aintree and Punchestown and he can win again here. Frodon ran the race of his life to win this last year, and he may have to do the same again this time - I'm not sure he will, but the horse that beats him will surely win. What's in the favour of Frodon is that he stays 3-mile at Cheltenham and he could just run this field ragged.
Riders Onthe Storm is the new kid on the block. When he won at Ascot LTO my immediate thought was that he'd follow up in this, but now I think he will need to find another 7lb of improvement to win. The others look outclassed at this trip and it will be a huge surprise if they are involved.
For me, A Plus Tard is a false fav, and the true fav should be MIN on 7/4 which makes MIN the value wager.  Frodon is the only runner that I can see beating MIN and so a saver wager on him is worthwhile as he's 5/1.
Suggested Wager:
MIN : £10 win @ 5/2 and FRODON : £2 win @ 5/1 (odds on both horses are generally available)

3:30 The Stayers Hurdle (Grade 1) over 3-mile
Paisley Park won this last year and there is nothing to suggest that he won't do it again, except that I think he will be pushed all the way by not one, but two horses - Summerville Boy, who chased him home in the Cleeve Hurdle over 3-mile in January; and Penhill, winner of this race in 2018. The thing is, will either of them be able to beat him? As the ground is soft/heavy which will favour PAISLEY PARK then likely not, and though this might suggest a forecast wager opportunity, I'm expecting Summerville Boy and Penhill to fade in the run-in and a solid 3-miler like Bacardys might well stay-on to take the runners-up spot.  Willie Mullins would not send this horse for this if he didn't think it had a chance of being placed, and while he runs Penhill thatmay be more on sentiment.

4:10 The BA & M Stable Plate Handicap Chase over 2-mile & 4-furlongs & 127 yards
As always, a tough handicap to fathom.
Simply The Bett is the fav as he won the C&D h'cap here on Trials Day in January beating Imperial Aura who won his handicap on Tuesday. Recent winning form is a good sign, and Oldgrangewood loves it round here, but he ran in this race as a 7yo off the same OR147 rating and was pulled-up. Another old favourite is Spiritofthegames who was 3rd in this off OR147 last year, he's now only 2lb higher, he must be in the frame. Another LTO winner is Springtown Lake who was 5th in a h'cap chase here (won by A Plus Tard) last year off OR141, he's a better horse now. the mare Happy Diva won here in November off OR142 and isn't out of it off 7lb higher.
A tricky race, and I keep coming back to SPIRITOFTHEGAMES who was unlucky to bump into a well-handicapped Cepage LTO who held-up that form on Tuesday in the 3m1f h'cap and while 2lb up in the handicap on last year, he's carrying 3lb less weight on his back.
Suggested Wager:
SPIRITOFTHEGAMES: £5 eachway @ 16/1 (available generally, 5th odd a place 1st-5)

4:50 Mares' Novice Hurdle over 2-mile 1-furlong
Not a race I usually look at, but the front-3 in the market look like providing the winner of this. The fav Minella Melody beat 3rd-fav Colreevy when they met on 25Jan, and though on a 1lb worse terms, it is difficult to see colreevy reversing the placings over this furlong-shorter trip. So that points the finger at CONCERTISTA trained by Willie Mullins (as is Colreevy). The form of her run when 3rd to Black Tears on 02Feb was confirmed when that horse ran 2nd in the Coral Cup h'cap off 8lb higher. It looks like Concertina is coming to her peak again for this race, as she was just beaten a short-head in this race in 2019. She can win this, and odds of 4/1 look fair.
Suggested Wager:
CONCERTISTA: £5 win @ 4/1

5:30 The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir h'cap Chase over 3-mile 2-furlongs
One of my favourite races and don't forget it is for amateur riders. Punters have no cottoned-on that only the best amateurs can win this, and the usual suspects are all on the market leaders: JJ Codd (Le Breuil), Derek O'Connor (Champagne Platinum), William Biddick (Deise Aba), PW Mullins (Fitzhenry).  I cannot see Le Breuil repeating his win in the NH Chase last year, in this. His form this year isn't close to what's required. Deise Aba won well LTO on 01Feb at Sandown, and looks to be on the upgrade, and a 7lb hike to OR142 may not stop this 7yo. The Irish-trained Fitzhenry has been knocking on the door of a h'cap win in Ireland all season, and looks most likely to be placed. This trip will test the stamina of Champagne Platinum, so odds of 4/1 look a bit tight. The partnership of Greatrex and McParlan teamed-up to win this with Missed Approach in 2018, and they have BOB MAHLER a LTO winner over 4m1f, so stamina is no issue, and Bob Mahler is treading the same path. He also won a 3-mile h'cap chase here last April so handles the course, he's a good jumper and should be there at the finish, he's 18/1 with Bet365 and Bet Victor.
Suggested Wager:
BOB MAHLER: £5 eachway @ 18/1 (5th odds a place 1st-5 with BetVictor)