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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.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Which horses will be the stars of the 2018-19 Jumps season?

The coming jumps season looks to have a feel of being wide open with no one horse having dominance over a particular division.

For the Champion Hurdle over 2-mile it can be safely said that the 2017 & 2018 winner Buveur D'Air does not look to be the strongest contender going into 2019, and he could well succumb to a challenger. My immediate thought was that the horse he just beat at Cheltenham last March MELON could well step-up and find another 5-7lb to make him a realistic challenger, however he is yet to win a Grade 1 hurdle. As such, it is likely that the winner of the 2019 Champion hurdle will be one of last season's top novices, and the Cheltenham Festival winning pair of SUMMERVILLE BOY and SAMCRO come immediately to mind. On official ratings there is not much between them with Samcro on OR158 and Summerville Boy on OR156. What may be more informative is that Samcro won his Cheltenham race with a speed figure of 133 whereas Summerville Boy recorded a speed figure of 142. Both have only run 5 times and their current odds for the Champion Hurdle are: Samcro @ 7/1, Summerville Boy @ 14/1.  I think they both have tremendous chances at this point, and a 60/40 split-stake on the pair taking those odds looks a decent ploy.

When considering the Cheltenham Gold Cup the first place to start is with the previous running - not to find the winner but to identify those unlikely to win in 2019.  Winning a Gold Cup takes a superlative effort and only a very special horse is able to return and repeat the feat. Since Arkle won his hat trick of victories, only 2 horses have done it - L'Escargot and Best Mate (who did it twice). Kauto Star won 2 Gold Cups but not in successive years. As much as I like NATIVE RIVER he will do well to repeat the feat as we've not yet seen whether this enormous effort will have left its mark.  MIGHT BITE will be a 10yo in 2019, and that's too old to win a Gold Cup. As for the 3rd placed ANIBALE FLY he just doesn't look good enough. So, who are the possible contenders? The obvious place to start is with PRESENTING PERCY; he looked easily the best staying novice chaser of last season, he is currently the 6/1 fav and he loves Cheltenham. Certainly, Presenting Percy looked the part when winning the RSA Novice Chase at Cheltenham, and my only concern about that race is the speed figure, which suggests it was a bit slow. Also in that race was AL BOUM PHOTO who fell 2-out when certainly not out of the race, and subsequent efforts suggest he'd have pushed the winner.  At the moment Al Boum Photo is 33/1 and that looks very interesting, as I cannot see any of the other novice chasers from 2017-18 stepping-up into serious Gold Cup contenders at this stage - and I include his stablemate FOOTPAD in that assessment.  So far unbeaten as a chaser, the Arkle winner Footpad did not look like he stayed 3-mile in his only attempt at the trip as a hurdler, and I think he looks too good at 2-mile to contemplate a step-up in trip unless he is uncompetitive when facing 2-mile Champion Chaser ALTIOR.  It could be that this season is another when we see a novice chaser come to the fore in the manner Coneygree did in 2014-15.  The horses that have the potential to do that are BLACK OP and TOPOFTHEGAME, but looking for a potential Gold Cup winner from a novice chaser at this time of the season is a real guessing game.  Getting a horse to the Cheltenham Festival is a feat in itself, so I have no problem in taking odds about 2 or 3 in any of the championship races at this stage, and the 6/1 about Presenting Percy looks decent if he continues to progress, and the 33/1 about Al Boum Photo looks very generous.

My bread & butter profits will be made on the staying handicap chasers and looking at the results towards the end of last season, I'm warming to the chances of BEWARE THE BEAR.  He ran 4th in the Ultima Handicap Chase over 3m1f which was a great effort as he was a long way off the pace at one stage. His 8yo peer-group are a tremendous set of handicappers, but Beware The Best is very lightly raced for his age with just 8 chase starts and only 13 races in all under rules. The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury could be too quick for him to win as he's likey to fall too far behind, but if he goes for it he's sure to be staying on strong. A better race for him could be the 3m3f Grade 3 Chase run at Cheltenham on Bet.Victor Chase day in mid-November. That would set him up for another bid in the Welsh National. He does go well off a long break having won both his seasonal debuts as a chaser. I can see him going well at Aintree in the Grand National in 2019 (currently 50/1 for that) as the fences are much easier to jump these days which will compensate for his (sometimes) erratic jumping. He starts the season on OR148 and that's a generous mark for him as he has a bit of class, and he could easily end  the season rated 155+.

Another who could do well this year is LABEL DES OBEAUX who ran 6th in the Scottish National last April of OR147.  Although he's not won since April 2017, last season he raced mostly off OR151+ and now he has slipped down to OR146 which is 2lb below his last winning rating. He didn't really stay 4-mile LTO, but he ran well enough to suggest he has a good win in him off OR146. Dropped to a 3-mile trip on a RH track (Ascot) so long as the ground is not soft he should have a winning opportunity.  His trainer Alan King reckons he goes best right-handed and as he showed when he won at Ayr in April 2016 and the Ascot meeting on the 1st Saturday in November has the Grade 3 Sodexo 3-mile handicap chase which could be perfect for him.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Proposals for the 2018-19 Jumps season

It is that time of year again when I look back at the previous jumps season and the performance of the blog, and what I propose to do with the blog for the coming jumps season.   One of the things I like about the blog is that it gives me the opportunity to go back and read what I was thinking on a particular day - and sometimes it does not make good reading.

Last year I was reflecting on a difficult 2016-17 season when I advised only 6 winners from 55 selections - and of those selections 9 ran 2nd. As a result, my performance resulted in the 1st losing jumps season for the blog since I started writing it in March 2010.  It wasn't a huge lose, just £40.87 on stakes of £609.00 or 6.70% - but a loss is a loss.  My thoughts at the time attributed the loss as due to struggling to find the time to conduct the form study, and then to write the blog, to make it all worthwhile.  As such, I decided to scale back and reduce the burden by writing the blog only once or twice a week during the jumps season.

Overall, I think the strategy worked well, and during the season I advised a number of good winners. Because of the reduced number of blogs that I intended writing, I did not take any donations for the blog email service.  Also, as I was not seeking donations for the regular emails, I made the blog free to all, with the option for the reader to make a donation for any winners should they occur or if the reader thought the blog was worthy of a donation.  For the jumps seasons 2010-11 to 2016-17 all the selections were recorded and the performance noted: the performance is under the title of the blog: 
"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%".
In my opinion, that says it all - my betting strategy results in a long term profit.  

For the coming season, the blog will remain "free-to-all" and when published I will advice the fact via twitter. As the reduced blogging strategy worked well last season, that will also continue. I think I've as good, if not one of the best, handles on the form of the top staying chasers in the UK and Ireland and I will be endeavouring to make use of that knowledge on the antepost lists throughout the season. 

If things pan-out as I expect, this could be the last jumps season for the blog as regular readers know it. Life moves on and I'm getting older.  Maybe it's me, but I think 2019 will be a very testing year for everyone in the UK.  My profession is as a Quantity Surveyor in the construction industry and I've been doing the job since March 1980 - that's over 38 years. In that time the job has changed almost completely, and my daily tasks now are unrecognisable from my daily tasks when I was in my early 20's. With each new contract (I am a freelancer, and have been since 2002), the role I fulfil becomes more and more isolated with the main form of communication being just the laptop on my desk.  As someone who loved the banter, chat and personal relationships of the "old-style" construction site, I'm starting to feel like a fish out of water, and I really cannot see me staying in this industry much longer.  That 2019 will likely be such a year of turmoil (and I will not mention the "B" word for fear of offending some readers), and construction is already starting to feel the strain of the changes that are coming, it could be that my movement out of the industry will be forced upon me.  

If that happens (and I reckon it is odds-on) then, following the 2019 Grand National, it will be my intention to create a website featuring my thoughts, opinion, ratings and advice on horseracing - but some of those elements will only be available (before the event) to subscribers.

I'm really excited about the coming jumps season, we could be in for a cracker!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

TIGER ROLL wins the Grand National

What a terrific result for the blog yesterday.
I only looked at the Grand National, and even though I'd already placed wagers on eventual winner TIGER ROLL and on Warriors Tale (who ran well, but lacked the stamina to finish and pulled-up before 2-out when beaten) because of the ground I felt I still wasn't sure that I had a good enough handle on the race. So, I awoke at 6:30am on Saturday morning, powered-up the laptop and poured myself a giant mug of tea and started looking at the race afresh.
In a race worth £500,000 to the winner, £200,000 to the 2nd and £100,000 to the 3rd and in which even the 10th placed horse wins £5,000 you know that the race is too competitive to be won by an "also-ran". And so I gave myself some "rules" to reduce the field of 40 down to something more manageable.  One of these rules was nothing aged 12yo or older and I nearly came unstuck as the 13yo Bless The Wings ran right up to the form which has twice taken him into 2nd place in the Irish National, the latest time last April and before that in March 2016.  This old campaigner has certainly earned an honourable retirement.  The only other "older" horse to finish was the 12yo Aintree specialist Gas Line Boy who would have been in the 1st-5 but for his stamina running out after jumping the 2nd-last fence. I had thought he was capable of making the 1st-5 (see my blog of yesterday) as he did last year, but age has caught up with him.
Because of the testing nature of the ground, I also looked for form at trips beyond 3-mile and that put my antepost wager on Warriors Tale in doubt. When I placed the wager, I expected the ground to be the "usual "good-to-soft" but the rains continued and heavy ground was the last thing the horse needed. Even so, he ran well, and I expect he will back in the winners enclosure when racing over a suitable trip on better ground NTO.
Due to the ground, I wasn't expecting more than 10 to finish and in the end only 12 did finish the race and of the non-finishers 13 were pulled-up. Only 2 of those 12 to finish carried over 11st in weight: Anibale Fly who had run 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month, and Valseur Lido who had missed most of 2017 due to injury but had been rated OR169 after winning a Grade 1, 3-mile chase in November 2016.  Beyond 4-mile and on this sort of ground, weight carried over 11st is a heavy burden and it takes an exceptional horse to win the National with more than 11st in the saddle.  Even finishing the race with 11st-plus in the saddle is a considerable effort, and something to take into account next year.
The heavy ground certainly played to the strengths of Pleasant Company (just as I expected, see my blog assessment) and, in my opinion, he ran right up to the form which won him the 3m1f Bobbjo Chase in Ireland last February. He was beaten by the good-to-soft ground in this race last year, and this is what a lot or "experts" overlook when appraising the form - horses will not run to their best on ground which does not suit them.  Yesterday, Pleasant Company ran a cracker, setting a strong pace for much of the final couple of miles and was only beaten by a horse that, in my opinion, could have been placed in this years Cheltenham Gold Cup had he been aimed at that race instead of this.
What can I say about the performance of the winner, TIGER ROLL? He was perfectly placed throughout by his jockey Davy Russell, and that brings its own luck - just ask Sam Twiston-Davies whose mount Blaklion was brought-down at the 1st fence when he collided on landing with the stricken Perfect Candidate who had over-jumped and crumpled on landing.  And Davy Russell lost his irons as they headed out on the 2nd-circuit, but he kept his cool and sorted himself out without interrupting the motion of the horse.
In the end, I think TIGER ROLL ran to about the same level as he did when winning the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017. He is probably not up to Gold Cup winning standard, but he's certainly a lot better than his current OR150 rating, and should he drop back to an extended 3-mile trip for his next race then he will be worth following-up. However, I expect he will be aimed at a return to Aintree next year as he is still only an 8yo.

If you read the Grand National blog and followed my advised wagers, you would have emerged from the race with a profit of £82.50 for your £25 stake money on the 4 advised horses from the shortlist. The 4th horse on my list was Final Nudge who fell at Canal Turn on the 1st circuit before the race got going.

That's it for this jumps season.
You can still follow me on twitter on @wayward_lad and I'm usually watching the horseracing on a Saturday afternoon throughout the flat season.  It is now time for me to take a break, refresh the batteries, enjoy the summer (if we get one) and then look at building an alert list for the 2018-19 jumps season. Don;t forget, I will be posting my Cheltenham Festival blog on the pages to the right and adding to the notes there as I review each race in turn so that we can hit the ground running when we return to jump racing in October.

Good luck, and keep racing!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Grand National - Saturday 14th April 2018

We had good runs from both selections yesterday, and both finished in the places to end the day in a slight profit - Ms Parfois ran 2nd (advised at 6/1) and Ballyalton ran 5th (advised at 14/1).  Paddy Power paid 6-places on the Topham Trophy (Ballyalton's race) and many others paid 5 places).
I really thought MIN had the Melling Chase won but he just didn't have enough to beat Politilogue.  It wasn't the ground or the trip that beat him - Politilogue is one of those talented horses that once a season shows just how good he is and, for the rest of the season, he frustrates us. 

First-up today, I'm going to concentrate on the Grand National as that is the race most readers will want me to advise on.  I've already had an antepost wager at 50/1 on Warriors Tale and also a small win wager on Tiger Roll at 11/1.  However, I think this years' race is one of the trickiest I've come across and I'm not yet "hooked" on any one horse that I think holds a proper winning chance.  Obviously with 40 horses and 30 jumps you need a bit of luck, but the best horses with the best chances will make their own luck. So I'm having a fresh run through the runners, starting at the bottom and omitting any old horses (I really cannot see a 12yo or 13yo winning) and anything without any form at 3-mile-plus.  I also think the soft/heavy ground will make a big impact, and I wont be surprised to see less than 10 finish the race, so able to act on soft/heavy ground is something that I will look for.

Delusionofgrandeur 10st 5lb - ran 3rd over 3m5f at Sedgefield carrying 11:12 last November and he's won 4 from 10 chase races run over 3-mile-plus. However, he didn't stay the 4m1f on soft at Musselburgh on 03Feb and he's not on my shortlist.
Thunder And Roses 10st 5lb - Won the Irish National in 2015, and was 4th in it in 2017, he was unseated last year, and could run into 6th or 5th place as he does act on heavy ground.
Final Nudge  10st 6lb - His 3rd in the Welsh National carrying 11st 6lb was a great effort, and he ran well LTO without troubling the leaders. He could be a big surprise in this race at 50/1.
Milansbar 10st 6lb - His win in the Warwick Classic over 3m5f in January showed he's capable, and he's also twice run 2nd in a Midlands National over 4m1f. Sure to be bang there among the leaders throughout, and at 33/1 is a good eachway chance.
Baie Des Iles 10st 8lb - Ran 5th in the Welsh National as a 5yo, and then won in Ireland over 3m4f but could not win the same race last month which suggests she's not improving. Odds of 14/1 too short for me and I can't see this horse winning.
Pleasant Company 10st 11lb - Was the big Irish hope last year but the ground that day was probably too quick for him. He's been aimed at this race all season, and todays' ground will be perfect. He could run a big race and odds of 33/1 are fair value.
The Dutchman 10st 11lb - Won the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in some style, he flopped NTO on similar ground off a 13lb higher rating of OR148 which he races off here. May not be up to this.
Gas Line Boy 10st 11lb - Ran 5th in this race last year with 10:7, and won over the fences in December, he loves it here. The ground will suit him better than last year and I'm expecting a big race. Odds of 25/1 are very fair as he should at least make the 1st-5 finishers.
Warriors Tale 10st 12lb - Has been in top form all season, and handles soft ground. He's not raced beyond 3-mile except in hurdle races, but he's not shown he can't stay this trip. He's 50/1.
Chase The Spud 10st 12lb - His win in the 4m1f Midland National was off OR130 and he runs off OR149 in this. His recent form isn't great and he may not be up to this class of race.
Tiger Roll 10st 13lb - Has been aimed at this race and having won the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he has the CV of a winner. Can be an indifferent performer but he does have the class and ability. Odds of 12/1 are about right as should be in the 1st-4 home.
Perfect Candidate 11st 3lb - Pulled-up last year but the ground was too quick for him. Even so, he ran well for a long way and this softer ground will suit him. No stamina doubts and odds of 66/1 very generous for a horse that should finish.
Total Recall 11st 5lb - Won the Ladbroke Trophy Chase at Newbury in the autumn and ran well till falling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. Obviously a classy horse but OR156 looks a high enough mark for him on what he's shown to date.
The Last Samuri 11st 8lb - it will be tough on this ground for a horse with this weight to win, but he went close on similar ground when 2nd in 2016. I can see him running a big race, but another who should be in the places and odds of 20/1 are fair.
Anibale Fly 11st 8lb - 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he will need to repeat that form and better it to win this race off this weight. It's possible, but (in my opinion) unlikely.
Blaklion 11st 10lb - ran a bold race in this last year to be 4th, and he can carry big weights to win as he showed here in December winning with 11st 6lb. Another bold show expected, but his odds of 12/1 leave no room for error.

With some bookies paying 6-places (Betfred, Boylesports, Totesport) it may pay to have some long-odds eachway wagers with those and, in a race like this with such terms, I have no problem placing wagers on 4 runners in the race.

My "four-against-the-field" are:-
Perfect Candidate @ 66/1
Tiger Roll @ 12/1
Warriors Tale @ 50/1
Final Nudge @ 50/1

The horse that I think has the best chance of being the winner is TIGER ROLL, as he will stay the trip, he will handle the ground, he comes here in top form having won LTO, and in Davy Russell he has one of the best jockeys in racing to steer him around the track. He's a classy horse that could probably have run in better quality races since winning at Cheltenham in 2017 but he's been aimed for this instead of a having a "Gold Cup" campaign this season.

My suggested wager is 4 x £2.50 eachway wagers on the 4 in the shortlist, plus £5 win on TIGER ROLL - total staked £25.  Good Luck!