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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.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Have we seen the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup in Many Clouds?

What a cracking day of horseracing at Cheltenham on Saturday - I'm really glad I went along.
The works at the course seem to be progressing well, altho' the lack of a rail at the top of the parade ring steps could prove a safety issue come the 60,000 crowds of the Festival in March. That wasn't my only criticism: I'm not happy with the new position of the Arkle statue. He's lost his position of prominence and, as he's used as a meeting-point for many attending the racing, his new position could prove a problem.
For those who read my blog on Saturday, there should be no complaints as I gave 3 selections on Saturday morning, and 2 of them won at odds of 5/1 (Annacotty) and 3/1 (Saphir Du Rheu). My only loser was in the feature race, when Dynaste failed to haul-back the eventual winner Many Clouds on the run-in. The race was run at a slow pace (the first circuit was run at a crawl) and the time of the winner was only 16-seconds quicker than last year when the race was run on heavy ground. Going out onto the 2nd-circuit, I felt the pace of the race was playing into the hands of my selection Dynaste, and I'm sure if jockey Tom Scudamore to run the race again he'd kick-on from the 3rd last fence and try and lead at the 2nd-last.  I heard comments post-race that he didn't stay the trip and, admittedly, the trip of 3m1f stretched his stamina at this level - but he certainly stays the distance. He just isn't able to quicken and he may have fared better defending a lead than trying to make one up on the run-in.
The race winner Many Clouds cannot be faulted. He's now won 5 of his 9 chase races, and has improved with each run this season. You have to wonder how close he'd have gone in the RSA Chase last March had he not been brought down at the 14th fence by another faller (who happened to be Don Cossack). The big doubt over Many Clouds is his requirement for a going description with the word "soft" in it. He struggled on "good" ground at Aintree when he ran there at the National meeting after the Festival, and it must be odds-on to be good ground on Friday 13th March. Thing is, he is an improving chaser and he could find enough improvement when he runs at Cheltenham to counter the quicker ground. I rated the race thru' The Giant Bolster who I reckon ran up to the rating of 157 (in my book) that he won the race with in 2014. That puts Many Clouds on 165, Smad Place on 155 and Dynaste on 163. In my estimation, the performances of both Many Clouds and Dynaste would have been good enough to win last years Gold Cup (I rated Lord Windermere's winning effort at 161) and so both are worthy of going to this years Gold Cup with winning chances. It should be taken into account that "good" ground will not affect the chances of Dynaste and at 25/1 NRNB with Paddy Power, he looks the value in the betting.

It should be considered that before Kauto Star and Denman won the Gold Cup. there had been a period of 30+ years during which the winner of the Gold Cup was a horse rated 165-170. It will be no surprise to me if we revert to "norm" and have another period of 30 years of Gold Cup winners rated 165-170 with the best horse "on the day" succeeding,

I had £40 on Dynaste at 5/2, so I was a little despondent that the horse didn't win after running a very genuine race, but I was fully recompensed in the next race when Annacotty repaid my faith by snatching victory on the run-in. This run was right up to the level of his performance in the novices chase over C&D on this day last season, and while he may suffer a re-rating he should be capable of defying it NTO. The other interesting aspect of the race was TAP NIGHT running he best race since running 3rd in this race last year. I felt he just about matched that performance and, if he goes onto contest the Byrne Group Plate again, he will be running off a 15lb lower rating this time.

My day ended splendidly with a win for Saphir Du Rheu at the enormous odds of 3/1. As I wrote on my blog, the horse should have been the 6/4 fav and anything longer than 2/1 should have been grabbed. I jumped in at 11/4 about 8 mins before the off and took my place in the stands, so I missed the 3/1. All the on-course money was for Un Temps Pour Tout but he never looked like justifying his £450,000 price tag and he could prove to be a very expensive purchase. As for Saphir Du Rheu, he needs to find a bit more to be in the mix for the World Hurdle but he's not far away. I'd hope for more than the current 6/1 being offered.

Advised antepost wager
Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham on 13th March 2015
DYNASTE : £1.00 eachway @ 25/1 AND £8.00 to win @ 25/1
(with either Bet365 or Paddy Power  who both go NRNB and quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)

Total = £10 staked

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Dynaste to show Gold Cup credentials

What a tremendous day of racing we have today with meetings at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Uttoxeter over the jumps. Before we start looking at the racing in depth, some of you may be wondering why I’ve not advised a wager on SPRINTER SACRE for the Champion Chase given that I think he’s not far off (about 7lb) being the best 2-mile chaser in training based on his run last weekend. The reason is that I don’t think he’s good enough value when you factor in the distinct possibility that he won’t run at the Festival. I’d say he’s 6/4 to line up for the race and, if he lines up (without a further preparatory race between now and then) he’s a 9/4 chance to win the race. At current odds, he’s just not value in my opinion; hence I’ve gone for a horse that will almost certainly take in the race in AL FEROF.

I’m going to be at the meeting, so I’m writing this blog on Friday with the hope of being able to make a few tweaks on Saturday morning (as I’m not driving).
The day opens with the Triumph Hurdle Trial at 12:40 and the race may only have 6 runners, but it looks a cracking field. This will be a race for watching tho’, having inspected the runners in the paddock to see which seems most up-for-it, I’ll probably have a small wager for interest.
The 2m5f novice handicap chase at 1:05 looks more like it for me.  This looks a top class field of 13-runners who will all be worthwhile following for the remainder of the season.
The race of the day is the Betbright Cup, a 3-mile & 110 yard chase. There are only 6 runners but, again, it looks a class field. Personally, I cannot see The Giant Bolster repeating last year’s win in the race. He always runs well at this meeting so I’d expect him to be chasing home the winner. At the weights, this looks between DYNASTE and Smad Place, as Black Thunder and Many Clouds are perhaps 10lb inferior to DYNASTE and Theatre Guide is running only for place money. For Smad Place to be in with a chance, he has to return to his form when 2nd here in the RSA Chase last March. His run in the Hennessey when well behind the winner Many Clouds has to be completely obliterated from the memory. For me, easily the best form in the race is the LTO run by DYNASTE at Kempton in the King George when he was 2nd to Silviniaco Conti. A repeat will make winning this a formality, and the Ryanair winner loves this track. Odds of 5/2 look very fair and I'm on him today.

Next on the card at 2:25 is another handicap chase, again over 2m5f but this is a Grade 3 race. There are 10 runners with the top-weight being Quincy Des Pictons. I like to look to a younger horse in races like this and the 7yo’s Annacotty, Easter Day and Little Jon are my idea of being the winner.  Annacotty was 2nd in the novice chase over C&D on this day last season and a repeat of that would see him going close. Both Easter Day and Little Jon look under-exposed with each having only had 4 chase runs to date. Odds of 6/1 about ANNACOTTY look very fair.

At 3:00 we have the Neptune Novices Hurdle over 2m4f & 110 yards, and this race is one that I’ll be watching rather than wagering on at this stage.
I’m more interested in the Cleeve Hurdle at 3:35 over 3-miles. If SAPHIR DU RHEU retains his verve for hurdling after a few novice chase’s, and there is no reason that the 6yo shouldn’t, then this race should be a piece of cake as he’s the standout at the weights. I’m expecting him to start at 6/4 (maybe even shorter) so if you can get anything longer than 7/4 perhaps you should take advantage (see BetVictor and Paddy Power). I won’t be advising a wager, as I don’t advice anything at odds less than 9/4 over the jumps.

The final race of the day at Cheltenham is the 2m1f handicap hurdle at 4:10.

The race of the day at Doncaster is the Skybet (Handicap) Chase over 3-mile and last year I was on NIGHT OF MILAN who tried to make all, but faded about half-a-mile out and pulled-up. Then he came out and won NTO over 3m2f when returning to the same track. The worry with this horse is the soft ground, as all his wins (apart from a hurdle race over 2m4f) have been on good-to-soft or “good” ground – in 10 races on soft ground he’s never won. I like the look of the 6yo ROYAL PLAYER. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Queen Mother Champion Chase antepost advice

Since Sprinter Sacre lost his unbeaten record (in completed races) last Saturday, much has been written speculating that the horse is but a shadow of his former self. His continued presence at the head of the Queen Mother Champion Chase market, for which he is best-priced at 11/4 in the Non-Runner, no-bet category (NRNB), suggests that if you don’t consider the horse can find some improvement between now and then, that there is plenty of value in the betting for the race.
So then – is SPRINTER SACRE past it?
I watched the race live on tv, and I’ve watched it a number of times since. I’m also a big fan of the winner of Saturdays race Dodging Bullets and, as such, I think I’m able to give an unbiased opinion of the race and the horses involved.
Let’s consider the winner, DODGING BULLETS. He was a promising novice chaser, but he didn’t follow thru’ in the Arkle at last March’s Festival and came home a lacklustre 4th of 9, beaten 5-lengths. I thought that was about as good as he was going to get at the time, and it was probably a very good run considering his best form is during the winter months and not in the spring-time. Saturdays win was the 1st time he’d won in the post-New Year period from 8 races whereas pre-New Year he is 6 wins from 8 races. He’s certainly improved since last March, but probably not as much as the handicapper thinks, and I have him at 163+. If you compare the speed-ratings for Saturdays race with last years race, won by Sire De Grugy, then the winning performance is very comparable.
Considering it was his first race (if you ignore pulling-up in December 2013) since 23rd April 2013, I thought SPRINTER SACRE ran very well, as he was always going easy on the bridle behind a strong lead from Somersby (who still retains a fair amount of ability). He took up the lead - without jockey Geraghty having to use his persuader – at the 2nd-last and tho’ he was quickly passed by the eventual winner, that one was under a hard drive. Without being put under any pressure, he ran on well to be beaten only 3-lengths with the OR165 rated Twinlight toiling in 3rd another 5-lengths back.
On the basis of this performance, I’m of the opinion that Sprinter Sacre would have the potential to reverse places with Dodging Bullets should they meet in March, as he must be capable of finding about 7lbs or more of improvement. By my ratings, his performance was only 3lb short of what he ran when winning the Tingle Creek in December 2012.

If Sprinter Sacre can find another 7lb of improvement, then there is only one horse he will need to be afraid of. No not Sire De Grugy, as he’s but a 164 chaser at best on my ratings, it will be AL FEROF who has the 2nd-highest official rating of the entries at OR168 (Sprinter Sacre’s rating has been wiped off the record). Not only that, but AL FEROF is in the form of his life this season, and goes to Cheltenham as a previous Festival winner. He ticks a lot of the QMCC trends, and the current odds of 9/1 NRNB being offered by Bet365 and BetVictor look very generous, as I’d have him on a par with his stablemate Dodging Bullets at 5/1. He could well start at odds under 5/1 on the day, especially if one of either Sire De Grugy or Sprinter Sacre do not turn up.

I certainly cannot resist those odds and I’m on eachway. My suggestion is that you also take advantage as this could be a weak race.

Advised antepost wager
Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on 11th March 2015
AL FEROF : £6.16 eachway @ 9/1 AND £7.68 to win @ 9/1
(with either Bet365 or Bet Victor who both go NRNB and quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)

Total = £20 staked

Monday, 19 January 2015

Blog focus on the Cheltenham Festival

This coming weekend we have the Cheltenham “Trials” day, which features the Triumph Hurdle trial, the Betbright Cup Chase (essentially a Gold Cup trial), and the Cleeve Hurdle which is an excellent trial for the World hurdle. There are also some really good supporting handicaps which can provide decent pointers to the Festival itself.

Weather permitting, I will be going to Cheltenham on Saturday, and I will be endeavouring to produce a full preview of the meeting once I have a copy of the Weekender on Wednesday. This will probably be online on the blog early on Saturday morning.

So far, this jump racing season has been a transitional one for me. In a way, it has reflected the general economy as I began writing the blog when I was midway through a period when I worked only 10-months out of 24 between July 2009 and July 2011. Since July 2011, I have been lucky enough to have almost continuous employment (I’m a freelance contract worker) and my roles have become more managerial than “hands-on”. This has had an impact on the blog, in that I’ve not been able to write has often as I would like to and, due to the additional responsibilities, I’ve not been able to spend as much time studying the formlines as I’d normally expect. My latest role is my most senior role for a long time, and due to the workload I won’t have the flexibility to donate time to the blog. I’ve therefore made a decision that I won’t be producing a Cheltenham Bulletin this year.

This – personally – is a disappointment for me as, in each of the past 3 years that I’ve issued a bulletin, sales have grown. I’m very proud of the bulletin as I feel it has given readers a unique insight into aspects of the Festival that may have been overlooked elsewhere. My intention this season was to upload a “sister” blog-site focussing solely on the Cheltenham Festival but, due to time constraints, I just haven’t been able to get it finished and (being realistic) it won’t be finished before this year’s Festival. My intention is to work on it throughout the rest of the year (I should have plenty of time during the summer) and have that site online before 1st November 2015.

From now until this year’s Cheltenham Festival concludes, I will be concentrating solely on finding winners at the Festival. I will be putting together an antepost portfolio of wagers on the “Championship” races and issuing my handicap assessments (previously sent out to donators only) via the blog.

If I am having any wagers on day-to-day horseracing, you will find these on my twitter account @wayward_lad. Last week (Thursday), I posted 3 selections on twitter, and 2 won: Firebird Flyer @ 4/1 and No No Mac @ 4/1. Generally, I don’t have many wagers during the week so, if I do put a wager up on twitter, take note.

In the meantime, please keep visiting and reading the blog, and (with luck) we should have a very successful Cheltenham Festival.

All the best from Wayward Lad.