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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.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Top-class racing at Ascot and Haydock

We had a decent winner on Thursday from our only selection, and yesterdays potential selection was a non-runner which possibly explained the disparity of the early morning odds which were spread between 2/1 and 7/2.

Some good racing today and I will start at Ascot where Paul Nicholls could be in for a profitable afternoon. As I wrote yesterday, novice hurdles are not my game but his runner in the opener at Ascot Topofthegame should not be overlooked. The fav is the 8yo Beyond Conceit who is a late starter at hurdling but a welcome addition to the ranks, but this race could prove a tough assignment.

Whatever happens in the opening race, Nicholls should have the winner of the next, the 3-mile Reynoldstown Novice Chase in Arpege D'Alene who looks easily the best horse in this race at this trip, with Fletchers Flyer possibly wanting a longer trip and Bigbadjohn flattered by his run behind Thistlecrack.  Odds of 6/4 leave no room for error, but the stake money should be safe.

The 3-mile Listed handicap chase at 2:25pm is an intriguiging contest with only 7 runners going to post. I'm not confident that either Go Conquer or Chef D'Oeuvre are capable of winning this based on their form as neither look well handicapped. The 10yo O'Faolains Boy hasn't been seen since running in last years Cheltenham Gold Cup when he was outclassed, and Sausalito Sunrise has been running okay but not as well as last season. I wrote earlier in the week that I am looking forward to the run of VIRAK, and I think the horse could find the winners enclosure today.  Ascot was the scene of his last top-class run back in December 2015, and he could be the answer as he's slipped to OR147.  Tenor Nivernais just does not stay this 3-mile trip and Cloudy Too is regressing these days.   Odds of 15/2 about VIRAK look generous to me.

As for the feature race of the day, the only way Cue Card won't be in the winners enclosure is if he does not finish the race. 

At Haydock, the Grand National trial chase over 3m4f looks a tough nut to crack. There are 14-runners and the market is headed by Blaklion who was 3rd at Wetherby LTO with Wakanda in 2nd over 3-mile.  As such, even on 2lb better terms, I cannot see Blaklion beating Wakanda. The 2nd-fav Vieux Lion Rouge will want every yard of this trip, but I'm not sure he's well handicapped on OR146 following his win over the Aintree National fences LTO. This is a tough ask for the novice Vintage Clouds and I remember his half-bro Vintage Star wasn't at his best beyond 3-mile. Kruzhlinin is in the form of his life but, again, I don't think this 10yo is looking for a trip beyond 3-mile.  I reckon the 7lb hike to OR144 has done for Goodtoknow as I cannot see this horse improving again to win off this rating.  Wakanda we know about as he is slowly coming back to form and while not tried beyond 3-mile there is every likelihood he will stay the trip. Vicente has the Grand National as his target and will likely not run to his best today. The Welsh National run took a lot out of Houblond Des Obeaux and he may not yet have recovered from it. One of the remainder could run a big race but, for me, the form horse is WAKANDA.

Selections
Ascot 2:25pm VIRAK - £8 win @ 15/2 (William Hill)
Haydock 3:15pm WAKANDA - £4 eachway @ 10/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3) 

ALSO £2 eachway double (Virak is quarter-odds a place 1st or 2nd)

Friday, 17 February 2017

Military Chase at Sandown

Finally we found a good winner after a run of 2nds.  Crosspark took advantage of a decent opportunity to run-out a solid performance, so let's hope that is a good omen for the next few weeks.

Today at Sandown we have the "military" meeting and there is a good Class 3 chase at 4:15pm over 3-mile there today. The morning fav Twenty Eight Guns looks very capable should the mare stay this 3-mile trip as the form of her win LTO has worked out very well. 
As much as the crowd would love it, I cannot see Pete The Feat repeating his LTO win here over C&D as the 13yo has been raised 8lb by the handicapper.  It would be a real turn-up if the twice raced novice Knight Of Noir took this as he's not looked a natural chaser yet. Private Malone is more interesting as he looked a lot better than his current OR130 rating when racing in 2015-16, but he was absent from the track for 12-months before returning in November and it could be that he strips a lot fitter today in which case he could have a chance - possibly one to look at in the paddock, or wager on in-running.
Will the "real" Cogry turn up today? Running off OR134 he should have a cracking chance in this, if he were guaranteed to finish the race. But he's not completed in 4 chase races this season and didn't even finish a hurdle race LTO.  He looks a tricky character. 
None of the remainder give me the slightest bit of encouragement when you look at their recent form as even LTO winner King Of Glory is up 6lb for winning a Class 4 chase over 2m4f and looks like he will struggle in this.
All-in-all, Twenty Eight Guns could be a winning fav and the early 7/2 offered by Betfred (Ladbrokes are 2/1 and others are 5/2) could be worth taking as the gamble is whether the mare stays the trip. If she does then she almost certainly wins. 

Saturday provides us with 3 quality race-cards at Haydock, Ascot and Wincanton.
Let's take a quick look at the Ascot card, as that has the best quality races of the day.
The opening Class 2 novice hurdle will definitely be a race to watch and note as the previous winners have all proved to be well above average horses not just at hurdles but over fences too. It is a race that Paul Nicholls enjoys targeting and his 5yo Topofthegame is sure to figure amongst the market leaders.
Next up is the Grade 2 (Class 1) Reynoldstown Novices chase over 3-mile and while the winners of this race have usually proven to be decent chasers, it has not been good at providing Cheltenham Festival winners.   Our Kaempher looked revitalised LTO and he could be the key to this race.  However, Nicky Henderson (Laurium) and Paul Nicholls (Arpege D'Alene and Aux Ptits Soins) have won this race 5 times in the last 10 years between them from just 11 runners so anything the send should be noted.
One race on this card that I'm looking forward to is the 3-mile Class 1 (Listed) handicap chase at 2:25pm as this could prove to be very competitive.  I'm particularly interested in where VIRAK runs on Saturday as he's slipped to OR147 (he was rated OR159 this time last year after running 2nd here at Ascot on 19th Dec 15) and I'm hoping that the ground turns good-to-soft here on Saturday as I'm not sure he really enjoys the mud.
It's unlikely that Cue Card will be beaten in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, a race he won in 2013 before going on to winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
At Haydock, the Grand National Trial handicap chase over 3m4f brings together a decent field of staying chasers worthy of the great race itself. It is unusual that a top handicap chase like this has only been won by one horse aged under 8yo in the past 10 years, in fact 4 of the past 5 winners were aged 9yo or older. Top staying chase races seem to take maturity above potential to win. I really cannot see Blaklion reversing LTO form with Wakanda despite being on 2lb better terms, as that was the best run in 12-months for Wakanda and he's likely to improve again as he's not yet run to the level of his efforts in the autumn of 2015.
Of the older horses, Gas Line Boy enjoys running at Haydock and comes into this race in good form, he could run better than his current odds.

No advised wager today.   I would not want to take under 5/2 about Twenty Eight Guns as both Cogry and Private Malone could run better than expected if recovering their form from last season, and both look well handicapped on their best form.  For both, it could be worth waiting to see how they perform over the first mile of the race (and decide if their up to winning it) and wager in-running. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Good midweek racing

We have an important weekend coming up, one of the crossroads of the winter jumps season, as 95% of winners at the Cheltenham Festival next month will have run (and 55% of Cheltenham winners will have won) their final  race between Christmas Day and Monday 20th February.  I usually say the cut-off is Valentines Day as that is more easily remembered, but this weekend with the decent meetings at Haydock. Ascot and Wincanton provides ther final opportunity for trainers to get a preparation run into their horses before allowing them a decent break before the Festival.

I'm particularly interested in the Ascot card as it has some good races planned looking through the entries, especially the 3-mile handicap chase, and there are novice races just about everywhere you look.  

Today at Leicester there is a good Class 3 handicap chase at 3:10pm with only 6 runners (Morning Reggie is a non-runner), and the obvious place to start is with the early fav Mercian Prince who was going well when falling LTO at Cheltenham on "trials" day. Would have gone on to beat Royal Vacation? I doubt it, he probably would have been 2nd, but I'm not sure that effort will be good enough today. Mad Jack Mytton also looks on a tough rating of OR135 judged on his runs to date, and so the one in this races that catches my eye is Crosspark who was going well before falling here at Leicester.  I'm always willing to forgive a fall in a novice chase, and if you look at the run of Crosspark before that when 2nd at Wetherby over 3-mile then he looks very favourably treated. We know he will stay this trip and he has a good cruising speed, so it's very likely that he will be involved in the finish.  Odds of 9/2 in places looks a fair assessment, as I'd have him at about 11/4.

Kelso stages a really good meeting, but the heavy ground has reduced a few races to just 4-runner affairs and they look uncompetitve. The 2m6f handicap hurdle at 3:35pm looks a possible wagering opportunity as these staying hurdles can take some winning, and if you find a horse that stays well in the mud it it always worth sticking with them. As such, top-weight Rowdy Rocher who has won his last two races on soft and heavy ground at Ayr over trips of 3-mile and 2m5f could take some beating. For an 11yo he does not have many miles on the clock and this will only be his 17th race of his career, and he's won 6 of his 16 races.  He has always hinted that he may be better than average and the handicapper has only put him up 2lb for his latest win. There does not look much depth to this field and it may not take much winning.  It is doubtful whether Maxie T has the stamina for this trip on this ground, and it will also be a step into unknown territory stamina-wise for Rhymers Stone who won LTO over 2m4f on soft ground. In the circumstances, odds of 3/1 about Rowdy Rocher look fair.

I'm going to focus on the chase handicap at Leicester for my advised wager, as I think that Crosspark has a strong chance in this race and trainer Caroline Bailey has a good record with her chasers at this track.

Since sending these notes out to those on the email list at 8:00am this morning, the money has come in for Crosspark and (at 11:15am) he is 3/1 generally and 7/2 with only Paddy Power.

Selection
Leicester 3:10pm CROSSPARK, £10 win @ 9/2 (BetVictor, Ladbrokes and Coral)

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Slim pickings for a Saturday

Despite there being 3 jump meetings at  Newbury, Warwick and Uttoxeter, wagering opportunities are thin on the ground.  For instance, the meeting at Newbury has some potentially great chase races but they have all cut up to small noncompetitive field with no value available. Uttoxeter has no races better than class 3 (and I don't advise wagers on races lower than that), while Warwick has a very decent, but tricky, card on offer. 

Looking at the Newbury card, the 3-mile handicap hurdle at 1:50pm could provide an opening as the 5yo Scotchtown has plenty of potential and the drop in trip from 3m2f LTO - when he was beaten by today's fav Tobefair - could be to his advantage. The fav Tobefair has won 6 hurdle races on the bounce going up from OR81 to OR134 today and was racing off OR126 when beating Scotchtown LTO, which shows how valuable it is to latch-on to a decent horse when it is trained by an unfashionable trainer. Scotchtown is rated OR130 for having beaten 4 rivals in a Class 4 maiden hurdle at Ludlow in November, but then he is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. I think there is not much between this pair, and the remainder look well exposed or plain not good enough. Odds of 7/2 about Scotchtown look fair in the circumstance.

The "Denman" chase has been reduced to a 3-runner race and, as such, anything could happen as the jockeys are likely to try and be tactical. Now that we know Bristol De Mai stays 3-mile well, he is the one who is possibly the best in the race.  However, if Bristol De Mai and Native River take each other on then it could be down to which one jumps the best, in which case I'm still with Bristol De Mai.

The "Game Spirit" chase (how many of todays crowd will remember Game Spirit?) has been reduced to just 4 runners and as I do not rate Fox Norton at OR167 (I have him under 160 on my ratings) this should be a formality for Altior, who looks a novice chaser going places.

The 2m7f Novice handicap chase at 4:10pm looks weak for a Class 3 and therefore the fav Vieux Lille at 3/1 looks value to me as he ran well LTO and seems to be going the right way. Lessons In Milan is probably a lot better than OR133 if he gets things his own way but he doesn't have enough speed for this and might well want a marathon trip.

I don't have a handle on 2-mile hurdle form to be able to give an insight into the Betfair Hurdle, but I will be watching closely with Cheltenham in mind.

Warwick provides us with a good novice chase at 2:40pm.  Unfortunately, there is not much to split them on known form and with two of the market leaders aged 9yo and 10yo it is tempting to consider the younger couple of 7yo's in the race, Knockgraffon and Two Taffs. But the odds offer no value, especially on Knockgraffon. 

Paul Nicholls finally seems to have accepted that Vibrato Valtat is not a Grade 1 chaser and sent him for a handicap chase and he may well have found him a winning opportunity.  He will have to be at his best though, as he carries top-weight of 11st 12lb.  He should have the class to win but odds of 6/4 are extremely poor value. 

I'm really struggling to find a wager today as the odds on offer are poor about the horses I consider have a winning chance. I cannot recommend a wager, but I will be watching the odds closely on Scotchtown and Vieux Lille, and hoping for a bit of 4/1 on both.