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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.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Look-back at the weekends racing 13th/14th December

The feature race on Saturday was the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (Handicap) over 2m5f, and it turned out to be a cracking display from the eventual winner Niceonefrankie.

The horse didn't even show up in my pre-race review even tho' he'd won LTO at Ascot absolutely slaughtering a decent field of handicappers over 2m3f on 21st November. This was a significant oversight for me but, to be fair, Niceonefrankie won the same Ascot race off the same OR129 rating in very similar fashion (in 2nd was Double Ross off OR133 and he's now on OR159) in 2013, and subsequently ran consistently but was unable to compete off his revised rating (OR135-140).

Where I and, I expect, many others went wrong - as he started at the generous odds of 16/1 on Saturday - was that (apart from his next start at Newbury on 29Nov13) for the remainder of the 2013-14 season Niceonefrankie was campaigned over 3-mile. Also, little improvement was expected of him as he had already had 24 chase races in his short career. 

It seems fairly obvious now that his best trip is 20-21f and, given that behind him LTO at Ascot were:
King Edmund - ran 2nd (btn a short-head) on 24Nov and won on Saturday morning over hurdles (and has since won again today at Plumpton); and...
Al Alfa - won at Cheltenham on Friday (as I should know as he was on my alert list).

Full marks to Aidan Coleman for making full use of the horses strengths to make-all and build up an unassailable lead by running-on at a good pace. Much of the field were toiling about a mile out as they ran up the hill and altho' Niceonefrankie looked to be running on empty approaching the final fence, he'd managed to run the legs off his nearest challengers.

The only horse I was "right" about in the race was Barrakilla who was having only his 5th chase start (whereas Niceonefrankie was having his 25th chase start). Being a half-bro' to China Rock it was no surprise to see him staying on in the final mile, and I expect connections will try him over further next time. His half-bro' has been rated over 152 since winning a grade 3 chase over 2m7f at Punchestown in Oct-10, and Barrakilla looks to have the potential to follow him to be a mid-OR150 chaser. Definitely one for the alert list.

The only other horse to make a race of it on Saturday was Edgardo Sol. This was his best effort (judged on my ratings) since he was 3rd in the "Game Spirit" chase over 2m1f at Newbury in Feb-13. He's not won since April 2012, and it's to be hoped that the handicapper doesn't put him up for this effort as he's not a big horse and not the type to be able to give away lumps of weight in handicaps. Even so, he's a rock solid 150-154 chaser, possibly best over trips up to 2m4f.

Earlier in the afternoon, Sew On Target showed that his best trip (by a long way) is at around 2-miles - he doesn't stay any further than 2m1f with any confidence. He beat the useful yardstick Astracad very easily and had the rest strung out behind. He can defy a weight-rise so long as he's not pushed up in trip.

The remainder of the Cheltenham card looked top-notch. I couldn't quite work out why Port Melon started the 7/4 fav for the 3-mile novice hurdle, and he was comprehensively beaten by Blaklion who confirmed the form of their previous meeting. This result makes the winner of that race, Parlour Games, look very interesting in respect of next March's Albert Bartlett (being a 7yo then would not be in his favour for an attempt at the 2m5f Neptune Novice Hurdle). 

I had The New One running a career-best when taking the Grade 2 International Hurdle over 2m1f. He'll probably need to improve another couple of pounds to win the Champion Hurdle next March, but he seems a more complete horse now than he did then. However, the horse who impressed me most in this race was Olofi who, before he ran last month, had been off the track for 18-months since April-13. Remember, he won the old "Greatwood" hurdle at Cheltenham in Nov-12 off OR136 beating the usual top-quality field for that competitive handicap. As he was a well-beaten 3rd on Saturday, the handicapper is not going to be able to adjust his mark up by much (if at all), and he was looking very comfortable approachng 2-out before the front pair asserted their class. Off OR133 (or thereabouts) he looks very leniently handicapped.

Finally, the 9yo Rock On Ruby took the Relkeel Hurdle over 2m4f & 110 yards with a performance which wasn't far short of his best. While unlikely to win a Champion Hurdle again (unless a few of the better hurdlers don't show up), it would be no surprise should he line-up for the race next March that he comes in 3rd or 4th. He doesn't look the sort to go for the 3-mile World Hurdle but that does look a weaker race in-depth than the Champion Hurdle. In 2013, Solwhit won the World Hurdle on his first attempt at 3-miles, and I'd have Rock On Ruby a 7lb better horse over the Champion Hurdle trip than Solwhit ever was. Current odds of 20/1 for the World Hurdle would be interesting if connections could guarantee that he'd line-up for the race, but it may be that their prime objective will be another attempt at the Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f next April.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Buck Mulligan doesn't buck the trend

Yesterday just about summed-up my season so far over the jumps. There were only a couple of horses from my alert list running, and both were in the same race: Buck Mulligan and Al Alfa. Personally, I thought Al Alfa was best suited to "sharp" tracks where he was able to exploit his ability to make-all and dominate a race, and Cheltenham isn't that sort of track. Buck Mulligan is a frustrating horse: he should be rated about 10lb above his current OR124 rating (he has been rated OR135 before) but he just won't see his races thru' when victory is in sight - and yesterday was a case in point. He could never be a "win" wager with any confidence. In my write-up yesterday, I thought the race was a poor one on paper and I couldn't understand why Liberty One was the 7/2 fav on what he'd shown to date. At least I knew my alert-list pair were both consistent (if frustrating) performers and I should have stuck with them in combination forecasts, as the Exacta paid £54.70 to a £1.

On to today, and the only race I'm looking at while typing this is the feature race at Cheltenham - the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (Handicap) over 2m5f. Only 13-runners go to post, which is a bit disappointing but, even so, there should be some value in this race. The race-fav is the recent Paddy Power Chase winner Caid Du Berlais who is up 5lb for that win. As such, he'll need to find some improvement to win this race. The 2nd-fav Barrakilla ran very well on his seasonal debut in what has turned out to be a solid handicap. He should improve for that run today and OR135 looks lenient - he could run to 142+. Also in that Sandown race was No Buts, who has since won and re-opposes Barrakilla on 10lb worse terms, so it is hard to see him holding Barrakilla on ground that may not be soft enough for him. Darna is the fly-in-the-ointment in this race as LTO after 2-years off the track he won a class 3 chase over 2m4f in a canter. He's up 10lb for that win to OR144 but, when he won at Ascot as novice chaser in April 2012, he looked well capable of being a 150+ chaser in time. There is a "bounce" factor to contend with, but I don't think this horse is the sort to do that (ie: run well below form on 2nd outing after a long break) as he was so well handicapped LTO that he merely had to finish the race to win it. At odds of 12/1 he looks very interesting as an eachway wager. The 8yo Attaglance was unlucky not to win at the Cheltenham Festival last March, but he's rated OR143 now and his trainer Malcolm Jefferson has a poor record at Cheltenham, so I have to overlook him. Not so the trainer of Ericht - Nicky Henderson. This horse was my selection for the Paddy Power Chase won by Caid Du Berlais, and he was bang there in it still when clouting the 2nd-last fence. As such, he comes into this race on the same OR137 rating, and that Henderson and Geraghty have returned for this race suggests they think he probably should have been in the mix LTO.

That's good enough for me, and odds of 10/1 (available generally) look good value to me.

Selection:
Cheltenham 2:00 ERICHT, £5 eachway AND £5 win @ 10/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Total Stake = £15

All the best from Wayward Lad

Friday, 12 December 2014

Cheltenham Friday 12th December

We  have a good meeting at Cheltenham, and it is a meeting that I've had some success at in the past.

The meeting opens at 12:30 with a novice chase over 3m1f & 110 yards which has been won by some decent types in the past. As such, we should pay attention to all the runners with an eye for the future.  Kings Palace looks the most obvious to do best after beating Sausolito Sunrise LTO. Kings Palace was also a very high-class novice hurdler and even tho' there is a turn-around in the weights of 8lb for a 4-length advantage, I can't see Sausolito Sunrise reversing the places. Don't overlook Vivaldi Collonges who is having his chase debut for Paul Nicholls, as this well-related 5yo is destined to be a much better chaser than hurdler and odds of 9/1 look interesting given he has an 8lb advantage.

The 2m4f handicap chase at 1:05 could provide a wagering opportunity. The front-running Al Alfa was 4th in this race last season off OR117, so it's unlikely he will improve on that running-off OR123.  The obvious form contentender is Gallery Exhibition, but I'm not sure this drop in trip will favour him today. Buck Mulligan has been running consistently without winning off OR124, but his best form is at around this trip (he doesn't stay much further) and the ground will suit him too. At 14/1 he looks a fair eachway wager opportunity in a race which should be run at a good pace but with questionmarks over a fair number of the runners.

The 2m1f handicap hurdle at 1:40 was last won by Nicky Henderson in 2009 and he sends the unexposed Lough Kent to be ridden by Barry Geraghty. It is hard to say how good this horse is, but Henderson thought he was worth a "County" hurdle entry at the last Festival. Street Entertainer will  enjoy this trip and wont be far away. The 2m5f trip here LTO found him out and he was passed on the run-in and, as a result of that effort, he's been raised 2lb - but I think he's the value in this at odds of 11/2, if Lough Kent isn't a handicap blot.

The 3m2f handicap chase at 2:10 has been won by some good handicappers, usually those on there was to a Grand National bid next April. It won't be easy for Hadrian's Approach with 11st 12lb, but expect this consistent chaser to run a cracker. I'm not confident that Cowards Close will go close in this as he doesn't seem to be improving.  You can't say the same of The Ould Lad who has won his last couple of chases and runs here effectively off OR127 (carries 10st which is 4lb less than the OR131 rated Standing Ovation). As he's been rated OR130 following his latest win, he's well-in and this lightly-raced horse looks exciting. While I can't see the 11yo Charingworth repeating his LTO win, I am expecting a big run from the 7yo Standing Ovation who goes well here. His run when 2nd on the "Old" Course over 3m1f in October looks good form now, but his run LTO in the "Badger" (a race he won in 2013) has left a questionmark as he pulled-up a long way out. Of the others, Samstown won a hurdle LTO and he looks a cracking staying chaser in the making - however, he's up 20lb for his last chase win to OR136. Lamb Or Cod seems to be at his best between April to October (4 wins from 8 starts), as he's only won once in the months of November to March from 12 starts and he pulled-up LTO.  The Ould Lad is the worthy fav, and odds of 4/1 could looks generous after the race, but Samstown at 10/1 (available generally, and 11/1 with Stan James) looks interesting as an eachway wager.

Of the other meetings, at Bangor at 2:30 the hurdler No No Mac should be able to recoup the losses from his seasonal debut when 2nd at Sandown LTO. Unfortunately, as his odds are less than 9/4 he can't be recommended as a wager - but 13/8 offered by Ladbrokes and Coral looks dangerous.

No recommended wagers from me today, but I'll be placing Buck Mulligan, Street Entertainer, and Samstown in small-stakes eachway doubles and trebles.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Look-back at the weekends action - Tingle Creek and Peterborough Chase

There was some great racing over the weekend at Aintree, Sandown and Huntingdon, and some interesting results which could well be pointers (or false-hopes) for future glory at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The Aintree meeting started with what looked like a promising performance from the 5yo novice hurdler Ballybolley when making-all to win. Admittedly, he was a strong 6/4 fav - but this was no mean feat to make-all. While I can't see him winning at Cheltenham, he should make an interesting chaser next season.

The Becher Chase over the National fences went to veteran 13yo Oscar Time, who was given an exemplary ride by Sam Waley-Cohen. The place to be over these National fences is "in-the-van" and that's were Oscar Time was throughout the race; leading over the first few fences then settling-in behind the front runners until chasing and passing the weakening race-fav on the run-in. Behind him, I was taken by the run of Saint Are who ran-on to be 3rd. This 8yo didn't run in the National last April, but was a finisher (ran 9th) behind Auroras Encore in April 2013 off a rating of OR142.  He's slipped to OR127 and will struggle to get a National start off that rating (min OR138 in 2014) - but he's capable of running to 137+ on my ratings so he's clearly coming back into form. In 2nd was Mendip Express, who never seems to run a bad race. He is a very consistent performer who I reckon ran up to his OR144 rating - however, he seems to have reached his ceiling.
What was very upsetting was losing Balbriggan to a fatal injury. He appeared to jump the 9th fence well but sustained a leg-fracture a few strides after jumping the fence. I was disappointed that 5lb claimer Ryan Hatch was unseated from Benbens at the 12th fence, just as the horse seemed to be getting involved. The horse remains well-handicapped and relatively unexposed and one to keep on the right-side of.

Later in the afternoon, the Sefton Chase was won by Poole Master who has always been capable of running to his OR142 rating, but never seems inclined to do so - hence his SP of 25/1. Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen was in rare form having won the Becher Chase earlier and, in this, he was riding the talented - but lazy - Cedre Bleu, who looked like winning easily jumping the last fence but (as usual) found nothing. This horse is proving exasperating and, since he last won in March 2013, he's been 2nd x 4 times. He's at least 7lb better than his OR138 rating, possibly more than 10lb better, but he doesn't like putting his head in front.

At Sandown, the feature race was the Tingle Creek, and the result was a bit of a surprise as both the joint-fav's (God's Own and Balder Succes) made jumping errors and ran well below form. I'm prepared to forgive both these horses this run. Balder Succes ran the better of the pair, looking like being involved in the finish after jumping the 3rd last fence, but he'd made a succession of jumping errors over the "Railway" fences and these must've taken a lot out of him - and it must be remembered that he ran a stinker when well-beaten in the Henry VIII novice chase on this card last year. It could be that Balder Succes just doesn't like Sandown. I've rated this race thru' Somersby who is a consistent yardstick. Even so, I don't have him at OR162 as he hasn't run to 160+ since he was 4th to Cue Card at Ascot in Feb 2013 in my book. For me, he ran to 155 (just 3lb below his QMCC performance when 2nd to Sire De Grugy in March), and that puts the winner Dodging Bullets on 158 which is a probably his best chase performance to date. As such, had he jumped cleanly, I'm sure that Balder Succes would've won on Saturday, and so he's still my idea of the QM Champion Chase winner next March.

I was out Christmas shopping yesterday, so missed a cracking opportunity in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, where Wishful Thinking maintained his rich vein of form this season when winning at 13/2. Although he's sneaked up to OR159, the 6yo Wonderful Charm has never looked better than 155 in my book, so he looked held on the weights and will likely struggle in handicaps. And while the race fav Eduard has improved with every run as a chaser to-date, he hasn't entirely convinced me that 2m4f & 110 yards is his trip and, sure enough, he was unable to peg-back the eventual winner after jumping the final fence. Rajdhani Express was very disappointing (again) and was reported to have finished lame. I'll give Rajdhani one more chance, but I'm begining to think that his 3rd in the Ryanair (won by Dynaste) flattered him a bit - maybe he's more of a "Spring" horse.So, Wishful Thinking merely had to run up to the form of his handicap win at Cheltenham last January to win this and he probably had about 7lb in-hand at the line. Sending him off at 13/2 was a real Christmas bonus for connections and his supporters.