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Record of the blog selections

Profit for the 2015-16 Jumps Season = £227.19

from wagers on 99 individual selections (13 winners, 19 placed)

Total Staked = £1,042.00

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This blog is based on finding winners - if you want to lose your money then read another blog.
advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Finally, an 8/1 winner!

It took a little longer than expected, but we finally hit the back of the net with an 8/1 winner in COOLOGUE yesterday. It was the only selection for the blog, and it was a very welcome winner. The race went even better than I expected as several of the fancied rivals either fell (Cogry & Racing Pulse) or pulled-up (Henryville & Full Shift) early in the race. Even so, our selection was pushed all the way to the line by the 6yo Keltus who we knew was race-fit, but we also knew we had our money on the better horse. What I learned from the race-report afterwards was that Coologue had the benefit of a breathing operation during the summer and now looks almost certain to end up a 150+ rated chaser.

It is onwards and upwards now, and today we have a Sunday meeting at Aintree with the feature being the "Monets Garden" handicap chase over 2m4f. The fav as I write is the 6yo Three Musketeers @ 3/1. This horse certainly has potential to improve but, in my opinion, he will need to to beat some of these rivals. He was last seen at Cheltenham coming 4th to Black Hercules over 2m4f and I reckon the handicapper has him about right at OR152.  God's Own is next in the market, and this C&D winner - and a Grade 1 winner at that - sets a high standard. This trip suits him better than the bare 2-mile, but I believe his OR166 rating is a bit rich. I cannot understand how Vibrato Valtat is rated OR160 after a season of poor efforts, so I cannot see him winning unless he's the only finisher. We all know Sire De Grugy does not stay a yard beyond 2-mile, and Smad Place is surely using this race as a prep for another bid at the Hennessey Gold Cup in a months time. Third Intention is interesting as - if he repeats the form of his seasonal debut of November 2015 when he met Vibrato Valtat, God's Own and Sire De Grugy in  the Haldon Chase at Exeter - he will beat them all as he races off at least 10lb better terms (and 16lb better-off with God's Own). And then there is Royal Regatta, and old fav of the blog from last season, if he can run to the level of his Ascot win in Dec15 he will massacre this field.  The ground will be the key in my opinion, Royal Regatta will be better on good-to-soft, while "good" ground suits THIRD INTENTION.  The 7/1 about this horse, with the others having so many issues, looks too good to ignore. Let's hope he's fit.

Last year I looked at the veterans chase and virtually pointed to the winner without naming it. As with most veterans chases, they are dominated by 10yo's as these horses still retain most of their ability. The current fav is Double Ross but, if you are a long term reader of the blog, you know I do not think this horse is a true 3-mile chaser. He scraped home LTO and, over an extra 330 yards, he looks vulnerable. His best performance last season was when 4th in the 2m4f Paddy Power handicap and I just cannot see him winning. Some horses have stamina doubts such as Eastlake (trying 3-mile for the 1st time) Bearly Legal and Dineur. Some are just slow, like Masters Hill and Baileys Concerto. If you take out those older than 10yo, then you are left with FORGOTTEN GOLD. He won a veterans chase at Ascot last April over 3-mile, and only found one better NTO at Cheltenham over 3m2f off a 7lb higher rating of OR139. He goes well fresh, stays the trip well, handles good ground and, with 2 wins from 5 starts last season, was as good as ever when last seen. I would have him the 5/2 fav, and as he's 7/2 with most bookies he looks a fair wager.

There is a trappy 3m2f handicap chase at Wincanton at 3:30pm with only 4 runners. I do not like these small field races as they can become too tactical. However, the morning fav I'm In Charge may stay the trip but he's not (in my book) an OR120 chaser. When the handicapper put him up 15lb after winning last May (his 13th chase race) it was seriously over the top in my opinion. The mare Miss Serious will also stay this trip well enough, and split a couple of NTO winners when 2nd on 16th September at Newton Abbot. However despite falling earlier this week when racing at Exeter, providing she hasn't lost any confidence she will go close. With Gentleman Jon not looking like he can stay this sort of trip, we move to Cernunos who is on my alert list. When you look at the form of his races last season at Kempton in Feb/March over 2m4f you have to consider him a lot better than OR132. However, since coming 2nd on 19Mar16, he's only run in snatches.  Will he stay this 3m2f trip? That's debateable, as the sire is virtually unknown in the UK, and his dam has only produced one other foal, that raced on the flat as did Cernunos. It's too big an ask, even if he is the best horse in the race, and odds of 3/1 are not good enough. Miss Serious seems the most obvious one to go for here.

Aintree 3:50pm THIRD INTENTION, £10 win @ 7/1 (Betfred, Bet Victor, Ladbrokes)

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Good-time Charlie to seek the spoils

Yesterday showed how you can have it so right, and yet end up so wrong.
As I wrote, trainer Paul Nicholls loves to target this meeting and he duly sent 3 winners in El Bandit @ 6/5, Marracudja @ 3/1 (though he only just held-off the fast finishing 9yo Presenting Arms), and Cliffs Of Dover @ 100/30.
In my main assessment of the 3m2f amateur riders handicap chase, I was spot-on about older horses (that is 9yo or older) as 3 of the 1st-4 places - including the winner Troika Steppes - were aged 8yo or younger.  Perhaps I should have stuck with my original thoughts and gone for the eventual 2nd placed Azure Fly. But, had my selection Conas Taoi run to form, then I'm sure we would have been on the winner. My main concern before the race was his rider, but Mr Deegan rode very well. It looked like the horse just wasn't fit enough for this as with 3 to jump I felt confident he would be in the 1st-4 but his tank emptied as soon as he hit the rising ground after the turn for home.

Onto today, and the meeting opens with a cracking handicap chase. First, let's look at some of the other races on the Cheltenham card. The novice hurdle at 2:25pm isn't my cup-of-tea, and the same for the Class 2 hurdle at 3:00pm.  However, while the fav Adrien Du Port could well end up rated a lot higher than OR147, do not underestimate Wolf Of Windlesham who won at this meeting last year and, if race-fit, will push the fav if that one isn't fully wound-up.

My focus is on the opening race and this 3m1f handicap chase looks wide open with 7-runners priced between 8/1 - 10/1 on  oddschecker as I write. There are 4 runners in the race from my alert list: Coologue (possibly best on softer ground), Cogry (more of a marathon horse), Full Shift (looks well handicapped, but the trip may stretch him), and Racing Pulse (well handicapped on his win in January). I like the chance of Henryville as he was an OR152 hurdler over 3-mile, but he's not shown he stays this sort of trip as a chaser. I think Keltus will run well, as he's fit, but I just think he needs to find improvement to win this, and I'm not sure he's a true 3-miler. Bucking The Trend is the sort who could win if it's his day, but will it be?

The two that I keep coming back to are Coologue and Cogry. The 7yo Coologue never seems to run a bad race, and he comes here fresh.  He will almost certainly be rated a lot higher than OR140 by the end of this season, and he handles good ground and stays this trip. The 7yo Cogry ran a cracker over 3m3f on his seasonal debut here at the November meeting last year, but he was staying-on and my fear is that he does want a longer trip.

With Charlie Longsdon having his horses fit (he sent out Azure Fly yesterday) the 8/1 looks fair eachway value about Coologue.

Cheltenham 1:50pm COOLOGUE, £5 eachway @ 8/1 generally @ 9@30am went sent out to those on the email list

Friday, 21 October 2016

Friday 21st October

Today we have the opening day of the 2-day Cheltenham meeting, and there are a lot of interesting novice races over both hurdles and fences which you should take note of for future interest. You can never tell just how good the horses are going to be at this stage of the season, but some trainers - such as Paul Nicholls - target this meeting to bring perhaps the best of their novices out.

The novice chase at 2:45pm over a trip of 2-miles is one that Nicholls has sent some of his very best novice chasers to win in the past, so it will be interesting to see how well Marracudja performs today. He has already won over fences at Newton Abbot LTO, so we know he can jump, however today will be a much sterner test. Having the thoroughly exposed 9yo Presenting Arms in the race, who is a rock solid 140-143 chaser at around 2m4f will be a good benchmark.

My focus has been on the Class 3 handicap chase over 3m2f for amateur riders at 5:05pm. I usually leave these amateur rider races alone, but we may have a serious opportunity in this race. 

I will come clean - I do keep one eye on race statistics as a pointer, and in this race horses aged 9yo and more have a poor record. The last 9yo winner was Mister Apple's in 2009, and so I'm going to oppose those aged 9yo and older, and that include the race-fav Cecil Corbett.  Before we move on from the fav, let's look at his form. Cecil Corbett won just 9-days ago over 2m6f in Ireland and so has a 7lb penalty today for that win. That was only the 5th chase race for the 9yo and (in his previous race) he was 3rd to Heist before that over 3m 1f at Kilbeggan on 02-Sept.  He ran like he did not stay the trip that day, and Heist went on to on to beat Azure Fly at Ludlow when they recently met. On a line through Heist, Cecil Corbett has to find at least 8lb improvement over a trip half-a-mile longer than he won over LTO, to beat Azure Fly, and he looks a dodgy stayer to me especially on this testing track.

Based on that formline, I was seriously considering advising Azure Fly, especially as when he ran here in in April he ran a cracker for much of the race.  However, he was easily beaten that day by CONAS TAOI.  This horse also ran in that race at Cheltenham in April and left Azure Fly for dead over the final half-mile but only just failed to catch the eventual winner Any Currency.  I think this 7yo should be the fav for this race, in fact I'd have him much shorter than his current 13/2 if we knew more about his rider - the 5lb claimer Mr R Deegan. He's a mystery to me, this will be (as far as I can ascertain) his first visit to Cheltenham.  It will be a big ask, but he rode his latest winner in September for Irish training legend Willie Mullins, so if he's good enough for Willie he will do for me. The horse is being aimed at the Becher Chase to be run at Aintree in December but, to guarantee an entry, he needs a handicap mark of at least OR125 and he's on OR122 today.  So, I'm expecting this horse to be fit to race and win as he was every time we saw him last season.

The current 2nd-fav is the 6yo Fingerontheswitch who was a useful hurdler but in his two runs over fences has yet to sparkle. This longer trip may suit him better, but he's to short in the market for me.  His inexperience over fences may be his undoing as, with Troika Steppes likely to go off at a rate of knots and with other decent travellers in the race (like Azure Fly and old friends Handy Andy and Cloudy Bob) there will be a lot of pressure put on his jumping.

It is difficult for me to see CONAS TAOI finishing outside the 1st-4 places unless he falls (or loses his rider) and 13/2 represents excellent value in my book in what looks a very weak race full of older horses chosen only as they are safe, reliable jumpers of a fence. 

Advised wager:
Cheltenham 5:05pm CONAS TAOI, £5 eachway and £5 win @ 13/2 ( available with Bet365 and Bet Victor, quarter-odds a place) 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Looking forward to the weekend

What a weekend to look forward to - the first 2-day Cheltenham meeting of the season opens on Friday; and on Sunday we have the "Monet's Garden" meeting at Aintree. Not only that but we have some great supporting meetings at Kelso on Saturday, and Wincanton on Sunday.
Have I missed any out?

There's no rush at the moment and, with my 5 selections to date resulting in 2 x 3rds and 3 x 2nds, I'm looking for a bit of value to bolster the trading account.

The run from our selection Mountain King at Stratford was a little disappointing. 
Through the race he jumped fairly well with only a couple of slight errors, nothing to worry about, and he travelled well.  He looked the most imposing horse in the race and, when he moved-up to join the leader (and eventual winner Roman Flight) I expected him to go on and win easily.
Unfortunately, when Roman Flight kicked-on after jumping 3-out, Mountain King found little.  Sure, he had enough to hold off the challenge of Top Cat Henry (how this horse was the 3/1 fav beats me) but that was not unexpected.  What disappointed me was that he looked decidedly one-paced when up against a rival who had recently looked a non-stayer at this level over this trip.
The other race I looked at on Saturday, the Welsh Champion Hurdle run at Ffos Las, went to the one horse running in it from my alert list - Garde La Victoire. Had I known trainer Nicky Hendersons entry, Cardinal Walter, was going to be a non-runner, then it's likely that I'd have put up Garde La Victoire as a selection. Although his hurdling was a bit sloppy at times, he looked a lot better than his rivals over this trip, and the performance bodes well for when he reverts to chasing this season.

Today brings us meetings at Carlisle, Newton Abbot and Ludlow; and there are a couple of likely races that may provide us with a wagering opportunity.

At Carlisle there is a Class 3 handicap chase over 3m2f at 3:55pm.
If you are a new reader of the blog, let me advise you that I do not consider races of lower grade than Class 3 and usually stick to chase races, unless I can see a particularly good value wager over hurdles.  Selections have to have odds of 9/4 or longer. There will be no wagers advised on selections at odds of less than 9/4.

We finally have some soft ground at Carlisle, and this 3m2f will take some getting as I consider Carlisle to be a stiff track due to its undulations, even though many in the game reckon the fences on the chase course to be some of the easiest on the racing circuit.
Unfortunately, this looks to be one of the weakest Class 3 races I've come across, and I'm hard pushed to find any in the race that I think are capable of winning it. For instance, I could consider the chance of Nakadam who at 6yo is the youngest horse in the race, and who won LTO back in April if I thought the horse was race-fit.  Unfortunately, his trainer does not have many horses in the stable and he took a fair few runs to get the horse fit last season. As such fitness cannot be taken on trust.
Another I could consider is Lord Brendy as although he hasn't run since June 2015 (16 months ago), his form when he was running was fair to good for the grade and he did win a Class 3 chase at Kelso over a similar trip. Will he be fit enough to win this?
The top weight Benzel has some winning form at 3-miles, but it was a slowly run race and he only beat 3 other rivals - one of which lost his rider mid-race, and another was a certain non-stayer.
Morney Wing has, perhaps, a better chance than most as he loves soft ground and stays this trip (and further) well.
Having his 12th race at Carlisle, his 9th at this trip is the 5-time C&D winner Basford Ben.  He could be thereabouts had he not gone up 7lb to OR113 for his LTO win here last May. He showed with 2 races last autumn over this C&D (in Class 3) that he's probably out of his depth at this grade. 
If push came to shove I'd have an eachway wager on Morney Wing at 7/1, but this race is wide open in my book.  I could see all 10 runners priced between 5/1 and 12/1, with 4 or maybe 5 co-fav's at 5/1.
There are no suitable races at Ludlow, although there is a Class 3 novice chase in which I have a runner from my alert list in After Eight Sivola.  He managed to win his chase debut LTO after the odds-on fav Old Guard virtually fell at the 1st-fence and was pulled-up. Even so, he was on my alert list from last season as he's a half-brother of Reve De Sivola and likely to be seen at his best over 3-miles when chasing. As such, he doesn't strike me as a winner of this 2-mile handicap chase, but he will (in time) be a lot better than his current OR122 rating.

There is nothing suitable at Newton Abbot either, and I'm going to wait until the Cheltenham 2-day meeting commences on Friday and see what that holds.  I'm fairly confident we'll be having a wager or two over the weekend.