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daily insight into the sport of Horseracing and
Record of the blog selections for the 2014-15 Jumps Season:-
Profit = £231.12 from 39 wagers
staked = £460 (an average of £11.79 per race/wager)
50.25% return on investment
advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Time to Bet Like A Man - CONEYGREE advised on 9th Feb @ 12/1

That's what I wrote on the blog on 9th February, and what a result for the blog yesterday's Gold Cup was! CONEYGREE (advised as an antepost wager at 12/1 on 9th February) made-all to blotz his rivals into submission in a performance reminiscent of Denman in his pomp.

Yesterday morning, after a night of rain and with rain continuing to fall on Cheltenham, there was a slight doubt in my mind that Coneygree would be able to make-all on ground that was very likely to be soft. I truly thought that Nicholls would order that Silviniaco Conti to push on and make a move on the 2nd-circuit but, as they headed up the hill, Coneygree pushed on harder from the front and you could see some serious horses (Bobs Worth, Sam Winner, Houblon Des Obeaux) starting to struggle and lose touch. At this point, Silviniaco Conti was in 5th  and tho' he did take closer order, I knew he wasn't going to win. As they reached the top-of-the-hill, Coneygree came back to the following group, and I thought he may be starting to feel the pinch, but his jockey was just giving him a breather. At that point, I thought the main danger was Many Clouds. However, as they turned the corner to come down the hill again, Coneygree picked up the pace and soon there was only the Irish pair Road To Riches and Djakadam going with him. This race certainly identified the plodders from the quality horses. Some exemplary jumping from Coneygree, who was only having his 4th chase race, kept him to the fore, and his stamina never failed him as he galloped resolutely to the line.

This was a seriously better quality Gold Cup than the 2014 renewal won by Lord Windermere (who pulled-up this time never having improved from a tailed-off last position). I've rated the race thru' Road To Riches who I thought ran a cracker. Remember, Road to Riches beat Rocky Creek (now rated OR163) by 11-lengths at level-weights last November. I reckon Road To Riches ran a career-best of 168, which is 3lbs better than I rated him when he beat Rocky Creek. That puts Coneygree on 171, which is 10lbs better than the rating I gave Lord Windermere when he won the Gold Cup last year. This works in nicely with Holywell (beaten nearly 10-lengths into 4th) who matched his highest rating in my book of 162. The surprise of the race for me was the 6yo Djakadam, who himself was only having his 6th chase race. He completely defied my opinion of him and finally showed why there was such a gamble on him for the Hennessy Gold Cup last November, a race he competed in off a rating of OR142. It was only lack of racing experience that cost him that day as he was at least 20lbs well-in.

Coneygree's win has made this jump season the best ever for me and those who follow the blog selections.

PROFIT = £337.12
Total Staked = £595.00

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Friday, 13 March 2015

Cheltenham Gold Cup Day 2015

No advised winners yesterday but we came close in the World Hurdle with Saphir Du Rheu, and there was also a good word for Call The Cops who won in a convincing manner in the Pertemps Hurdle.
The performance of the day, perhaps the meeting (we will see) was Vautour in the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f - absolutely stunning performance.

Overnight rain may have softened the ground.

1:30  Triumph Hurdle for 4yo’s (2-miles & 1-furlong)
Since the introduction of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap  the Triumph Hurdle has developed into a serious Grade 1 contest in which the best 4yo hurdlers can show their promise. 
·         17 of the last 21 winners won LTO.
·         17 of the last 21 winners had won at least two hurdles;
In recent years the race has been dominated by Nicky Henderson (who provided the 5th & 6th in 2013), Paul Nicholls (who provided the 2nd & 3rd in 2013) and Alan King who have each sent out 2 winners. Henderson has 3 entries including the fav, but I prefer his 2nd-string Top Notch.

No selection advised.

2:05  Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2-miles & 1-furlong)
My favourite race of the final day and (as it happens) one of the most competitive of the NH season, a real cracker of a race. 
·         5yo’s have won 9 of the last 16 runnings;
·         Irish trainers have won 6 of the last 8 runnings;
·         4 of the last 5 successful UK trained winners were trained by Paul Nicholls;
·         The last 9 winners were rated between OR131 and OR139 
·         8 of the last 13 winners ran in either the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown, or the Betfair Hurdle run at Newbury.
Based on the trends you have to consider the 5yo's Max Dynamite, Aso, and Forced Family Fun, but not Nicholls entry Dormello Mo who has not had a recent run. The bottom-weight Forced Family Fun is 50/1 with a number of bookies who all go 5-places eachway.
No advised wager, but worth a "tickle".

2:40  Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (3-miles)
Introduced in 2005, this race celebrates its 11th anniversary and, in my opinion, it already has a roll of honour that makes it a worthy addition to the Festival race roster.
·         Just 2 of the 11 winners started at longer odds than 9/1
·         No previous winner raced on the flat.
·         7 of the 11 winners had previously run at Cheltenham
·         7 of the 11 winners had run a race over 3-miles
There is no hiding place for those lacking in stamina and it will likely that the winner will already have won over the 3-mile trip but (as with 2011 Bobs Worth) that is not a necessity.  In my opinion, the ability to stay 3-mile at this Grade 1 level is comparatively rare, especially amongst novice hurdlers.
The unexposed Out Sam has only his 3rd hurdle race today having won both his other starts, and he could be capable of a lot of improvement today. He's 16/1 with several bookies.
OUT SAM, £5 eachway @ 16/1 available generally.

3:20  Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (3-miles and 2½ furlongs)
The race considered to be the climax of the meeting.
·         14 of the last 16 winners had already won a race that season;
·         13 of the last winners were in the 1st-3 in the betting;
·         Only Best Mate (in 2003 & 2004) has retained the Gold Cup since L’Escargot in 1971, 
·         No winner aged 10yo or older since Cool Dawn (aged 10yo) won in 1998 (and he was a 25/1 outsider) and before that Cool Ground (also 25/1) who was also a 10yo when winning in 1992.

It is very likely that readers will have already formed an opinion on which horse they will be supporting in the Gold Cup. It is that sort of race, a race of strong opinions and the taking of sides. Virtually nothing that I write here will persuade anyone to alter their opinion. Last year I was solidly behind Silviniaco Conti and he looked the most likely winner jumping the 2nd-last fence. However, he's a stayer with no change of gear and was unable to withstand the challenge of others on the run-in. Even so, he wasn't beaten much, and I expect this year he will be sent on earlier and make it a real stamina test on the 2nd-circuit.
I've had an eachway wager on Coneygree at 12/1 antepost, and he could be the one that beats him as he is unexposed at this level and we've seen already this week how bold jumping front-runners can dominate chase races.
However, I feel that Silviniaco Conti is guaranteed to be in the 1st-3 should he get round safely, and odds of 9/2 look fair value.
SILVINIACO CONTI, £10 eachway @ 9/2 available generally.

No further selections as I'll hopefully be on the Guiness aftger the Gold Cup.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Cheltenham 2015 - Day 3 (Thursday)

The end of an era with the defeat of Sprinter Sacre. I doubt we'll see him on the track again. 

1:30 JLT Novices Chase (2-miles & 4-furlongs)
The day opens with the 5th running of this intermediate distance championship race for novice chasers. Race trends are thin on the ground. That said,
· All 4 winners have been rated (at one time) OR142 or better meeting the same criteria of “Arkle” winners and were above average hurdlers.
- All 4 previous winners contested a hurdle at the previous year’s Cheltenham Festival.
I’d stick to the tried and trusted LTO winners (certainly no worse than 2nd) selection method. This is a tough 2m4f, so your selection should have proven stamina over this trip but not, in my opinion, a win over trips in excess of 2m6f – that is a negative.
Just about the entire field meet the criteria, so looking just on chase form I'm of the opinion that PTIT ZIG is the best value in the race. I'm not convinced the form of Vautour is strong enough, and possibly trainer Mullins is of the same opinion which is why he also has Valseur Lido in the race. Odds of 7/2 don't leave much room for error. 
No wager advised.

2:05 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (3-miles)
Before Fingal Bay won as the 9/2 fav last year, you had to go back to 2003 to find the last successful fav, and to 2005 for the last horse to win at odds under 14/1. This race has been a tricky one for punters to solve over the years.
· 15 of last 22 winners carried between 10st 7lb and 11st 3lb (both of the last 2 winners carried more than 11st 3lb);
· 11 of the last 23 winners won LTO.
A maximum field and not one to take a short price on. Even so, the Henderson horse CALL THE COPS won with a fair bit in hand LTO only 12-days ago and has just a 5lb penalty for that win.

2:40 Ryanair Chase (2-miles & 5-furlongs)
This race is now firmly established as a worthy Festival Championship race, and is producing winners of the highest order.
· Winning course form at Cheltenham – 9 of the 10 winners previous winners had won at Cheltenham (Riverside Theatre in 2012 was the exception).
· Winning form in a Grade 1 chase – 6 of the last 7 winners (since the Ryanair became a Grade 1 chase) had previously won a Grade 1 chase (Imperial Commander in 2009 was the only exception).
· The Irish have yet to win the race.

The fav is Don Cossack and he has the best form going into the race, but my worry is that the ground may be a bit quick for him as his best form is on soft.  I prefer the chance of the mare Ma Filleule who, if repeating last years performance here will go close (she was 2nd to Holywell in the handicap chase). Balder Succes is very consistent and he needs to improve to win this. Johns Spirit ticks a lot of boxes in this, but may not be quite good enough. Foxrock looks the type who wants 3-mile. Hidden Cyclone had his chance last year (ran 2nd) and is too old at 10yo. Both Tarquin De Seuil and Eduard aren't good enough and neither are the rest of the field. Not an easy race to fathom and, if pushed for a win wager, it would have to be Ma Filleule. However, Johns Spirit was running well in the King George when last seen until his stamina gave way and this trip is his best. At 11/1 with Paddy Power he looks the best eachway wager as he always runs a good race. 
Johns Spirit, £5 eachway @ 11/1 (Paddy Power)
All bookies are quarter-odds a place 1,2,3.

3:20 World Hurdle (3-miles)
For the first time since 2009, BIG BUCKS isn't the main talking point.
Likely trends:-
· The age of the winner should be between 6yo and 9yo;
· Good recent form is very important and the winner will likely have run 1st, 2nd or 3rd LTO;
· The betting market is usually good at highlighting the winner and it is unlikely that the winner will not be amongst the 1st-4 in the betting (certainly at odds less than 10/1);
· It is very likely that the winner will have run at last year’s Cheltenham Festival;
· The last horse to win this after taking part in a Champion Hurdle was Nomadic Way in 1992.

The overall quality of this years race is below the usual standard, hence we have a massive 17 runners. I feel that Zarkandar should have gone close last year if he was good enough (I had my money on him) and he's not shown that he's improved this season. I was on Cleeve Hurdle winner Saphir Du Rheu when he won here in January, and for me that is the best form in the race - and I think he's capable of better! I think Lieutenant Colonel will be outclassed, and Whisper should be close but he's never been as good as Saphir. The only other potential winner Un Temps Pour Tout will need to find about 15lb of improvement on his run LTO and I can't have him. Paddy Power go 6/1 Saphir Du Rheu and that looks great value as I think he should be the clear fav at about 7/2.
Saphir Du Rheu, £5 win AND £5 eachway @ 6/1 with Paddy Power (BOG, and quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)

4:00 Festival Plate (was Byrne Group) Handicap Chase (2-mile & 4½-furlongs)
This race has had winners at odds of 25/1 (three times), 33/1, 50/1 and 66/1 in past 10 years, so don’t be afraid of backing your own judgement and opposing the market.

· 18 of the last 22 winners carried under 11st;
· 13 of the previous 17 winners came here off a break of no more than 39 days;
· 20 of the last 22 winners were rated between OR128 – OR141;
· Irish trainers have only won this race once since 1951.

You places your money and you take you chance - good luck!

4:40 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge (for Amateurs) Handicap Chase (3-miles, 1-furlong & 110 yards)
This is another Festival race suffering from“handicap compression”.
As such, the overall interpretation of the long-term weight trends for this race are changing as most of the field will be carrying more than 11st.

· 6 of the last 10 winners have carried 11st 6lb or more
· No winner in past 20 years younger than 7yo;
· Only 6 of the last 35 winners was a 7yo;
· Last year Spring Heeled was the first Irish trained winner since Greasepaint in 1983.
Being amateur ridden, you need to consider the talents of the jockeys - as happened earlier in the meeting with the excellent JJ Codd winning on Cause Of Causes. I reckon the winner will be ridden be one of the followind, Codd, O'Connor, Carroll, Waley-Cohen, Bannister or Legg as the winning jockey is always one of the best amateurs. The one I like the look of is the 7yo Clondaw Knight ridden by JT Carroll as this horse was going to be my selection in the opening days handicap chase but has been diverted to this instead. He is improving, stays 3-mile, handles the ground and is usually ridden handy to the pace. Odds of 20/1 with Paddy Power and BetVictor look generous to me. 
Clondaw Knight, £5 eachway @ 20/1 (Bet Victor or Paddy Power both BOG and quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Cheltenham 2015 - Day 2 Preview

What a great day yesterday was for the blog!
Both selections were placed, and returned profits of £22.50 (Indian Castle) and £15.00 (Horizontal Speed) respectively making £37.50 in total. I also had a  personal eachway double that paid over 15/1. 
Not only that, but I gave a very strong word for the winner Cause Of Causes, who won with a fair bit in hand. 
There will be a complete review of the Festival in the next week or so on the blog.

1:30 Neptune Novices Hurdle (2-miles & 5-furlongs)
A select field of 10 runners for this, perhaps the best novice hurdle on the calendar.
Essentialy, you are looking for a LTO winner with at least 3 hurdle runs. of which at least 2 have been wins.
Given the performance of horses from his stable yesterday, you have to respect the chances of his runners Nichols Canyon and Outlander in this race. NICHOLS CANYON looks the best of the Mullins pair, and they are likely to be well ahead of the English challengers. The odds of 4/1 on Nichols Canyon look very generous.

2:05 RSA Novices Chase (3-miles & 110 yards)
Again, you are looking for a horse with at least 3 chase starts and at least 9 NH starts (don't included NH Flat races). Experience here is the key to finding the winner, but you don't want to side with a top-class hurdler - no winner in 23 years had been placed in a Graded or Listed hurdle over a trip less than 2m3f
Yet another Mullins novice, this time a chaser in Don Poli. However, I think he will come unstuck in this race due top lack or experience. It won't be The Young Master (not shown he's up to this class), nor Kings Palace (who ran a stinker here last year), but by SOUTHFIELD THEATRE. This horse was just beaten in the 3-mile Pertemps Final handicap hurdle last year, and since then he's done nothing wrong. He looks an tremendous chaser in the making and odds of 15/2 with Paddy Power are great eachway value.

2:40 Coral Cup handicap hurdle
Not a great race for me and I'll maybe come back to this later.
It is not unusual for horses carrying big weights to do well in this race.
You need to look for a horse on the upgrade, preferably with no more than 3 runs this season.
Unusually, this is a race for which a runner needs to come into off a long break, ie more than 45-days.

3:20 Queen Mother Champion Chase (2-miles)
Much will be written about this race, but for me I'm sticking with SPRINTER SACRE. His run LTO was on a par with the effort from Sire De Grugy, yet the manner in which they raced was very different. Of the others, there is some interest for Champagne Fever who could run them ragged if he's in the form of his Arkle 2nd last year. However, odds of 7/2 look far too big about SPRINTER SACRE.

SPRINTER SACRE, £10 win @ 7/2 
Note: I have already struck an antepost wager for £20 @ 11/4 on SPRINTER SACRE