All eyes are focused on the Aintree meeting today, which starts off with a cracker of a race – the rematch of Big Bucks vs Grand Crus. As per my assessment prior to the World Hurdle at the Festival, in my opinion Big Bucks has yet to be fathomed out – we just don’t know how good he is. Based on what we saw at Cheltenham, I reckon Big Bucks is a 10lb better horse (at least). It will take a change in tactics (Grand Crus to force the pace?) and a trip into the unknown for both these horses if we are perhaps to see a different winner. A race to watch and savour.
I have had good fortune in the past in the novices hurdle and while this race looks likely to be dominated by Zarkandar and Grandouet, the Aintree “Mildmay” circuit favours bold front-runners and PALAWI has certainly got his act together since a poor run at Cheltenham last November. Trainer John Quinn has an admirable strike-rate at Aintree, which improves to 4 wins from 15 runners with hurdlers, and this is his only runner today. He may not win, but he may not win, but 5.50 in the place-only market looks fair value.
The feature race is the Totesport Bowl, a Grade 1 chase over 3m1f. The fav is Denman and, while I thought he was a cert to be placed in the Gold Cup last month, this circuit and the fact that the race comes so quickly after that means that the “layers” are after him and he’s currently 11/8. If you think he is still capable of a 170+ performance, then he should win. But, I reckon the Gold Cup performance was not as strong as it has been rated, and my assessment of that form (rightly or wrongly) is at 163, and that puts CAROLE’S LEGACY with her 7lb mares allowance right in the mix. CAROLE’S LEGACY stays 3-mile plus (whereas Punchestowns, Deep Purple and Nacarat are doubtful stayers), and she will be in-the-van and able to test the jumping ability of Denman which we know can fall to pieces when under pressure. At 13/2, she looks the value in this race for a small wager.
The Foxhunters is the amateurs “National” and jockey skills plays a big part in finding the winner. I’m not impressed by Willie Twiston-Davies on Baby Run. I’ve no complaints with Sam Waley-Cohen, but his mount Turko can make appalling mistakes, as he did at Sandown – and that race was won by MISTER APPLE’S. He’s run twice since coming back off a 467-day lay-off and almost beat Ice Tea on that comeback run, but he ran a gutsy performance to win at Sandown LTO. Talented rider Mr R Mahon (who rides for Paul Nicholls and will be on The Tother One in the National on Saturday) is in the plate and I’m confident he should be shorter than 16/1 for this.
I’m going to give the Red Rum Chase a miss as this usually goes to a surprise winner. The Manifesto Novices Chase should go to WISHFUL THINKING, whose form at the Festival was top class, even in defeat. However, I was hoping that the presence of Medermit and Royal Charm would mean we would get odds of 11/4 or longer, so at the moment I’m not tempted. The final race on the card looks a real headache, so I’m not tempted to go there.
Grand National news, and I’ve learned that Northern Alliance is now a non-runner. He was my first-choice, so back to the drawing board. Coming into the race are Skippers Brig, Royal Rosa and Golden Kite. Skippers Brig is one from my Horse Alert List and tho’ he’s won twice for me this season, I fear he’ll need it to be good-to-soft at least and also I doubt he stays much beyond 3-mile. Of my shortlisted runners (see adjacent page), I am starting to focus on THE TOTHER ONE and GRAND SLAM HERO, but sneaking into my thoughts is previous National winner COMPLY OR DIE who I feel has been given an outstanding chance with just 10st 8lb to carry – which is 1lb less than what he won with.
Aintree 3:05, CAROLE’S LEGACY, ½pt win @ 6/1 (Bet365, best odds guaranteed)
Aintree 3:40, MISTER APPLES, ½pt win @ 16/1 (Bet365, best odds guaranteed)
Total = 1pt staked
If you want to play these as “eachway” selections, please do.
I have added a new page to the blog which provides a list of all the selections advised during the jumps season from 1st November 2010 to 31st March 2011. There is also an analysis of the types of bet (win or eachway) with a profit/loss calculation. Remarkably, despite a pretty awful Cheltenham Festival, as at 1st April the blog was still in profit from advised selections to the tune of 3.5675pts. I have checked the figures (and checked again to make sure), but if you do spot an error then please advise me via the “comments”. The overall conclusion is that ‘eachway’ wagers should be avoided from now on. What I reckon that I’m doing is looking too much for that elusive quality, “value”. But there is not much point in finding a horse at 16/1 if its “true” odds are 8/1 – and then it comes in 4th of 12. I have read somewhere before, and I think I need to pin it up above my desk, that an eachway selection should be capable of winning the race it’s in, before you strike the wager.
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