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Record of the blog selections

Profit for the 2016-17 Jumps Season = £84.38

from wagers on 26 individual selections (4 winners, 6 placed)

Total Staked = £280.00


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Hennessey Gold Cup - Newbury

Just the one selection yesterday and GRANDIOSO returned a small profit for our £5 eachway wager coming in 3rd at 14/1 giving us a £9.00 profit. That was our first wager of the week since last Saturday.

The alert list has gone into overdrive today, and there are far too many runners from it to mention. There are several in todays feature race, the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. They are KATENKO, HOUBLON DES OBEAUX, ROCKY CREEK, CLOUDY TOO, LOCH BA, MERRY KING and HIGHLAND LODGE. At the odds, I really think KATENKO and LOCH BA have great chances. Of the others, I feel carrying more than 11st will prove too much for Houblon Des Obeaux, Rocky Creek. And Cloudy Too. Sure, they will run good races and can be among the places and of the 3, HOUBLON DES OBEAUX at 28/1 could repay a small eachway wager. I have high hopes for Merry King and Highland Lodge, but you have to pin your hopes somewhere in a race like this. I’ll be honest and say that I took 33/1 eachway on LOCH BA on Thursday. This horse ran very well when beaten LTO by Midnight Appeal and I think that form will prove very strong as the season progresses. KATENKO, as I wrote on Thursday, is the one horse in this field who I think can go on to glory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. His form last season was without fault and he has the speed to win over 2m5f, and the stamina to win over 3-mile. Odds of 16/1 with Bet365, who pay 5-places eachway, look very generous.

Selections:
Newbury 3:00 KATENKO, £5 eachway @ 16/1 with Bet365 paying 5 places at quarter odds (BOG)

Newbury 3:00 LOCH BA, £5 eachway @ 20/1 with Bet365 paying 5 places at quarter odds (BOG)

Total = £20 staked

Elsewhere, I think VINTAGE STAR has a better than 4/1 chance in the 2:40 at Newcastle. It all depends on whether Hey Big Spender is anywhere near his best form of last season but, even if he is, he may find it tough conceding 3lb to VINTAGE STAR.


Newcastle 2:40 VINTAGE STAR, £10 win @ 4/1 with Bet365 (BOG)

Friday, 29 November 2013

Paul Nicholls loves Newbury

The 2nd day of the Newbury Hennessy meeting. The opening day, for me, was fairly uneventful apart from previous blog selection IFANDBUTWHYNOT romping home, having made-all, at the generous odds of 8/1. We were on this horse back on the 26th October at Aintree on the basis that this 2-mile specialist had started the fav for the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival off a 2lb higher rating. He was outclassed that day but, perhaps, he needed the run as, with this win in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle, he's now won on 3 of his 4 races in November over the past couple of seasons.
It seems that following-up my selections on their next couple of runs can pay dividends looking at recent results: No Planning won NTO, as did Handy Andy, Johns Spirit (which I advised) and Abnaki. I try and make sure the horses I advise having a wager on are the sort that want to win races, having shown the ability to win and the will to win.
Onto Friday, and all the alert runners are engaged at Newbury:-
Newbury 1:30 – VALID REASON, FIREBIRD FLYER, INVICTA LAKE, and TWELVE ROSES
Newbury 2:05 – THJE ROMFORD PELE, WONDERFUL CHARM, and UP TO SOMETHING
Newbury 2:30 – GRANDIOSO, THEATRICAL STAR, CANTLOW, and HAZY TOM
Newbury 1:30 – The market leader, alert horse Twelve Roses, attempts 3-mile for the first time and there is no guarantee he'll get this trip despite the confidence of his stable. Similarly, 2nd-fav Western Warrior is not guaranteed to stay 3-mile. Free To Dream runs with a 7lb penalty and will stay the trip, but will he turn up? His form is a bit erratic. Minella For Steak has been running well on heavy ground and probably wants another slog. Chiberta King beat a useful field of novices over 2m3f in January and he could be thereabouts if his stamina holds-up. Alert horse Valid Reason will be brought with his usual late effort, but he's never raced beyond 2m2f never mind won. I think this race could go to a long odds runner, and alert horse FIREBIRD FLYER may have run a stinker LTO, but we know he stays every yard of 3-mile and should handle the ground. That latest run may have cleared away the cobwebs and with 21 runners there are 4-places eachway, which makes the 50/1 very tempting.
Newbury 2:05 – it is very difficult not to see WONDERFUL CHARM not winning this race. Everything else looks outclassed, and this is another stepping stone to the ultimate target of the RSA Chase at the Festival in March (Nicholls won this race with Denman in 2006).
Newbury 2:30 – Theatrical Star has been asking for a return to 2m4f since winning at Exeter in April. He won over 2m6f NTO but that race was fairly easy and, this autumn he run over 3-mile at Chepstow, and had a couple of spins at 2-mile. Neither of those trips suited him and he's now dropped 7lb from OR140 to OR133 which is the rating he won off at Exeter! That said, I really like GRANDIOSO. He was last seen winning at Kempton in February and he could develop into a decent chaser this season as he's been brought along gently. The worry is that Nicholls horses have looked like needing a run this season. Even so, current odds of 12/1 (with Bet365) are very tempting about a Nicholls trained horse at Newbury where the trainer has a 25% strike-rate with chasers. Yes, he also runs Cedre Bleu, but he did not look like an improving sort last season and looks a tricky ride. Of the other alert horses, Cantlow should enjoy this trip but he's not progressed as a chaser. And thee time to catch Hazy Tom is 1st-time-out or when he is very fresh.
As much as it seems worth a wager, I'm going to pass over FIREBIRD FLYER as this looks a very competitive race. That said, if readers want to risk a "fiver" on a small each way wager, I would not put them off.
Selection:
Newbury 2:30 GRANDIOSO, £5 eachway @ 12/1 with Bet365

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Lull before the storm

It has been a quiet week for horseracing, other than the hacking of accounts at the Racing Post website.
All that starts to change today with the opening day of the 3-day "Hennessy" meeting at Newbury. Unfortunately, even today's horseracing is a bit dull, and there is not a single horse from my alert list running today anywhere. It will be a whole lot different tomorrow when a dozen from the list go to post, all at Newbury.
This evening, I'll be taking a look at the form for the Hennessy Gold Cup (HGC) and seeing if I can produce a shortlist from which to find a selection. Altho' there have been several recent winners of the HGC carrying more than 11st to victory, before Trabolgan's victory in 2005 with 11st 12lb, there was only one winner carrying more than 11st since 1985. A roll-call of the horses that have carried 11st-plus to victory produces some of the most evocative names in recent jump racing history.
1982, Bregawn with 11st 10lb (won a Cheltenham Gold Cup);
1984, Burrough Hill Lad with 12st 0lb (won a Cheltenham  Gold Cup);
2007 & 2009, Denman both times with 11st 12lb (won a Cheltenham  Gold Cup);
2012, Bobs Worth with 11st 6lb (won a Cheltenham Gold Cup).
Now, this list isn't exhaustive but, what I'm trying to demonstrate is that to win the Hennessy Gold Cup with more than 11st you have to find a horse with the capacity to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup. Another important trend is the age of the winner. In the past 19 years, since 1993, only 2 x 9yo's have won the race, and nothing older than that has. If you take account that one of those 9yo's was dual winner Denman (who I cheered home with a tear in my eye, even tho' I had my money riding on another horse in the race), and you realize that for a horse older than 8yo to win it either has to be very special, or very unusual.
 
Looking at this field for Saturday's race, there's only one horse with more than 11st that looks capable of winning a "future" Cheltenham Gold Cup. Yes, Imperial Commander has won a Cheltenham Gold Cup already, but he is now 12yo. That horse is KATENKO, who looked immense when winning at Cheltenham in January (at the "trials" meeting). A horse I think will run really well on Saturday is ROCKY CREEK, but his current odds of 8/1 are no value at all. For a value wager, I am very interested in the chance of CLOUDY TOO from Sue Smiths stable who could improve enough to be a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender and comes to this race in winning form. My only issue with this one as all his best form has been in fields of 11 or less, so the 20+ runners in Saturdays race could daunt him. Personally, I think the winner will carry less than 11st on Saturday, and I'm not thinking of INVICTUS who comes into this race off a break of 651 days. If Invictus wins on Saturday it will be a training feat of legendary status. However, this horse was on my alert list as a novice chaser and my thought then was that he's a much better chaser going right-handed. Even as a hurdler he only won at right-handed Ascot. I've got my eye on a horse and may have to issue an early blog on Friday evening to take advantage before the dogs start barking!
 
 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

CUE CARD: If he stays 3-mile, he wins.

What a fantastic effort by CUE CARD to take the Betfair Chase with a front-running effort for most of the race. He was there for the field to take on in the straight but fought off all challengers and won in a commanding manner. As I wrote on yesterdays blog... "CUE CARD:  If he stays 3-mile, he wins" - it was as simple as that. I have always been convinced that he is a brilliantly talented chaser who just happens to be around at the time of a complete freak of nature in Sprinter Sacre. Before yesterday, my only doubt about him was whether he would stay 3-mile. I wasn't sure, even tho' I'd wagered on him to win the 3-mile King George Chase at Kempton last Boxing Day. That day, his jumping let him down as he came to the course "wired" and made several mighty blunders early in that race that ruined his chance.

Right now, I rate his performance of winning the Betfair Chase equal to that of Bobs Worth winning the last Cheltenham Gold Cup; basically I rate both efforts at 174. As far as recent staying chasers go, 174 is 2lb better than both Tidal Bay and Long Run at their best.  By my reckoning, 174 would have seen CUE CARD beat Syncronised 6+ lengths in the 2012 Gold Cup. I feel a bit sorry for Long Run as he's been very highly tried thru'out his young life, he's only an 8yo, and is perhaps 15lb below his best now and in decline. He deserves an honourable retirement having more than fulfilled his promise and paid his dues. Silviniaco Conti is short of Gold Cup class by about 5lb. By coincidence, the previous time CUE CARD and Silviniaco Conti met as novice chasers, the "gap" between them was 5lb with CUE CARD the superior horse. There is no guarantee that CUE CARD will repeat this effort in the Gold Cup in March, but he does love Cheltenham and that is a huge positive. Of course, Bobs Worth also loves Cheltenham, but his effort in the Betfair Chase was lacklustre. Whether he would have been able to come from behind and catch CUE CARD last March had that one been leading over the final couple of fences (had he gone for the Gold Cup instead of the Ryanair Chase) is - in my opinion - debatable. Then again, Cheltenham is a stiffer course than Haydock, and the Gold Cup is a couple of furlongs further (there is some debate that the trip at Haydock was actually 3m1f or, more likely, just 3-mile). Whatever, trainer Nicky Henderson has one helluva job getting Bobs Worth back on track, and he'll likely need at least 2 runs before March to show he's the horse he was last March.

As a betting man, the horse that is "value" to take from the Betfair Chase is DYNASTE. I was very impressed at the way he was brought gently, but menacingly, into the race on the 2nd circuit by Tom Scudamore. Remember, this horse won the Feltham Novices Chase on the same card as the King George last Boxing Day, so we know he handles that track and stays the trip well - and he has improved about 10lb since then. Is there some improvement to come? Probably, as his best form is on Good-to-Soft ground (not the soft/heavy it was yesterday). We also know the horse loves Cheltenham, with his only poor run there when  flopping in the World Hurdle (that was on good ground). I'd say he has a good chance of running CUE CARD close on Boxing Day and odds of 5/1 look fair as, other than CUE CARD, there is nothing else likely to race that can beat him. I'd certainly expect DYNASTE to be more likely to stay the Gold Cup trip than CUE CARD, and the 16/1 available with Betfred for the Gold Cup looks an eachway steal. There are no dangers lurking in Ireland as both Sir Des Champs and First Lieutenant are already shown to be not good enough.

My selections yesterday were disappointing. VIVA COLONIA ran the best of the pair, but was nowhere near the level of performance I expected. Perhaps the drop in trip exposed his lack of speed to be competitive at 2-mile. Another of my alert horses, Saved By John, ran well and showed improved form; but by running so unrestrained in the first mile must have cost him plenty of energy and I'd say cost him the race.  If he can be taught to settle then he's possibly a 145+ performer. As for CHAC DU CADRAN, he had a stinker! He's run well on soft ground before, so that wasn't the problem, but he was struggling before they had completed half a mile. Having looked again at his profile, he's mainly raced in class 4, and perhaps he likes to be able to dominate, whereas he couldn't do that in this class 3 race. Food for thought.

The winner of the race NUTS N BOLTS looks a sure-fire horse to follow. His jumping in the final mile was awful, but he still saw off the challenges and stayed on strong. The horse loved the going, he's now won 5 of his 8 starts on soft/heavy but, personally, I did not think he'd stay this extreme trip.

Finally, a word for SILVER BY NATURE who returned to Haydock, the scene of his greatest triumph when beating OUR VIC on heavy ground. I rated Saturdays run by Silver By Nature at 152 and, if he can find his usual 7lb improvement for his seasonal debut, he will be right in the frame for the Welsh National, a ran he was 2nd in back in 2009.





Showdown at Haydock Park

It's a big day at Haydock with the Betfair chase bringing together all the best staying chasers in the UK. Due to Internet problems,  this is going to be a shorter blog than usual.

Ascot is a real disappointment today, with the feature race reduced to a 2-horse match. That said, I reckon we have a decent wager in the 3:15 at Ascot in VIVA COLONIA. Coming from the unfashionable Brian Ellison stable, I reckon VIVA COLONIA is underrated,  and should be joint fav with Drumshambo. That horse is akso on my alert list but, at the odds, VIVA COLONIA is the value wager at 11/2. Only 7 go to post so it's a win wager.

My other wager is at Haydock but not in the feature race. Previous blog selection CHAC DU CADRAN runs in the 1:15 and I think he should be fav for this race having trip and ground in his favour.  It was a silly fall LTO as he over jumped the fence. At 10/1 he has to be an eachway play.

The feature race revolves around CUE CARD.  If he stays 3-mile, he wins. Simple as that. But, it is a very strong race, and we just don't know how much ability Tidal Bay retains at 12yo.

Selections
Haydock 1:15, CHAC DU CADRAN £5 win & £5 eachway @ 10/1
Ascot 3:15, VIVA COLONIA £10 win @ 11/2
Total stakes= £25



Friday, 22 November 2013

Foxcub: final flight faller

The fall at the final flight by blog selection FOXCUB when over 3-lengths clear and in no danger of being caught on the run-in, has to go down as a slice of bad luck. Clearly, the moral winner of the race, FOXCUB had travelled tremendously well thru'out and then took up the running before 3-out. He soon had the field under the cosh and they were spread-eagled on the run-up to the final flight. He skewed the flight chucking his jockey out the side-door. That now makes 2 recent races that we've lost when our selection has been well clear in the closing stages of the race as Handy Andy threw away his race when 8-lengths clear on the run-in on 18th October. With a bit of luck both Handy Andy (with an SP of 16/1) and Foxcub at 10/1 could have boosted the bank by £212.50. Such events test the resolve of the punter but at least I know that I'm on the right wavelength, and my selection procedure will be profitable in the long-term.
The other alert runner SPANISH ARCH clearly did not stay the 2m6f+ trip yesterday, but he did jump his fences very well and ran well at a good pace until his stamina faded. We'll take advantage when raced over a suitable trip. What such knowledge given yesterday gives the punter is that once the 2nd-fav in the race Suburban Boy pulled-up after making a bad error (when tired) there was nothing in the race to prevent the favourite, Present View, winning. Sure, the in-running odds were not great at the time but they were in the region of 1.80 - 2.10.
There are 3 meetings today at Haydock, Ascot and Ffos Las, but opportunities for a wager look scarce. Horse Alert runners are:-
Ascot 2:40 - AL ALFA, GALLOX BRIDGE and GREYWELL BOY
Ascot 3:15 – BRACKLOON HIGH and WIESENTRAUM
Haydock 1:20 – SHANGANI
Haydock 2:30 – BLACK THUNDER and UP AND GO
Ascot looks a tricky meeting. Altho' I have 3 alert list horses in the 2:40, the market is extremely tight with 5 of the 7 runners at odds of 6/1 or less. My preference is for GREYWELL BOY but not at 3/1. The 3:15 has been won by a LTO winner for the past 5 years, and that is an interesting stat. WEISENTRAUM fits the stat having won LTO on his first attempt at 3-mile and, at 8/1, he could be a bit of value. But, this is a competitive race and the front couple in the market; Annacotty and Night Alliance are also both LTO winners. While I'm looking at Ascot, Jonjo O'Neill who has a good record here, only has the one runner today in the novice chase at 1:30 - TITCHWOOD – could be very interesting.
Haydock holds the first day of the Betfair Chase meeting and I'm expecting the ground to ride softer than "soft". Alert runner SHANGANI looks to have a chance in this as Venetia Williams has her chasers going well and she likes to have a winner at Haydock. But this 4-runner race could be a bit tactical, and I'll git it a miss. The race at 2:30 looks a cracker despite also having only 4-runners and we could have all 4 at joint fav's at 11/4, it really is that close a race. Personally, I prefer BLACK THUNDER as he looks the most unexposed.
The meeting at Ffos Las little of interest.
I'm not having a wager today, yesterday was a bit gutting and I'm more interested in finding a winner at decent odds that chasing 11/4 chances.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Trainer Symonds earning respect

There was just the one alert list runner yesterday, BEAU DANDY in the 2:10 at Hexham. As I wrote on the blog, this is a 4-mile handicap chase on heavy ground was expected to be a right slog. And, although BEAU DANDY appeared well-treated on OR99, the question mark was the extreme trip. Sure enough, it found him out and he pulled-up having weakened before 3-out. He was running well up till then, handling the heavy ground as I knew he would. So, providing this hasn't taken too much out of him, should set him up for a return to the 3-mile trip (should he contest over that) when next on the track. This shows the value of having an alert list and knowing the horse you are wagering on.
There are 3 ordinary meetings today at Chepstow, Wincanton and Market Rasen. There is some tremendous racing this weekend with meetings at Haydock and Ascot, so it is no surprise that today's racing is fairly ordinary fare. We have a couple of alert runners today: SPANISH ARCH at Market Rasen in the 1:30; and FOXCUB at Wincanton in the 1:50.
Although SPANISH ARCH ran a good chase debut and is sure to improve for the experience, today's trip of 2m6f & 110 yards is, in my opinion, the wrong one for him. His trainer Charlie Longsdon is always trying his chasers over 3-mile (or thereabouts) as the targets available at that trip are more lucrative, but SPANISH ARCH has not shown himself to have the stamina for the trip. He will, in my opinion, show his best form around 2m4f. Current odds of 11/2 are poor value as they offer no scope for an eachway wager as I'm fairly sure the horse won't win this today unless there are exceptional circumstances.
I am more confident about FOXCUB at Wincanton. When I looked at the betting forecast in the Racing Post and saw 16/1 my hopes leapt. Unfortunately, he's only 10/1 at best with Stan James and Betfred. FOXCUB was outpaced LTO over 2-mile by a couple of decent 2-mile handicappers, with the winner winning again since. Over this 2m4f trip, we can expect to see some improvement from FOXCUB. There is support for Carrigmorna King, but I feel that one is already well-exposed as a hurdler. Beachfire isn't exactly proven at this trip to suggest he's a 4/1 chance, and will prove to be best at 2-mile. The Pauls Nicholls trained Sound Investment is badly handicapped on what he's shown to date, and will need to show improvement today. So far this season, the Nicholls stable has not been firing on all cylinders, and I'm banking on this horse not firing today leaving the Symonds trained FOXCUB to take the spoils.
I'm on FOXCUB eachway and he looks a fair value wager. Shame the Racing Post aren't bookmakers as I'd have bitten their hand off for offering 16/1.
Selection:
Wincanton 1:50, FOXCUB, £5 win and £5 eachway @ 10/1 (with Betfred and Stan James who both go best odds guaranteed)
Total staked = £15

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Heavy ground makes for testing races

Yesterday's alert runner KING OF THE WOLDS won at Fakenham in the 2:30. Not recommended as a wager due to the short odds, he looked unlikely to win approaching the final fence, whereupon the race fav Dursey Sound hit the fence hard losing jockey AP McCoy and handing the race to KING OF THE WOLDS. Fortune favours the brave, so they say, and fortune certainly favoured KING OF THE WOLDS.
The Horse Alerts have been doing well lately, even if most are going un-backed due to short-odds or my opinion being too pessimistic of their chances. Just the one runner from my alert list today, BEAU DANDY in the 2:10 at Hexham. This is a 4-mile handicap chase on heavy ground, so expect it to be a right slog. The ground is certainly a plus-point for BEAU DANDY, and the horse appears well-treated on OR99 as I reckon he's a 110+ performer. The only question mark is this extreme trip. The horse ran well enough on his seasonal debut on 1st November (I was away in Cornwall that weekend so unable to write a blog) so comes here race-fit and, being a front-running horse, he should be up with the pace thru'out, which is another positive in my mind. Horses that are held-up on heavy ground in these extreme distance races can get tailed-off and left behind and generally lose interest in the race early on. I just think the current odds are a bit slim at 4/1 and I'd like a bit more considering the state of the ground and this being a marathon trip.
So, no wagers recommended today.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Patience is a (gamblers) virtue

Another ordinary day at the races today.
Yesterday, alert runner INVICTA LAKE won in convincing style at odds of 11/4. Readers of the blog will know that I thought the horse hadn't really shown much improvement but, from yesterday's performance trainer Suzy Smith has found about 15lb+ of improvement since the Spring. This leads me to the dilemma that I've had since forming my alert list – do I wager on every horse-alert runner without exception? Or, as I do at the moment, do I evaluate the race and wager as and when I think necessary?
Today there is the one runner from my alert list, and it is one that I added after a recent run (not a carry-over from last season) it is KING OF THE WOLDS at Fakenham in the 2:30. In today's case the decision is made for me by my policy of not recommending a wager when a prospective selection is trading at odds less than 9/4. KING OF THE WOLDs is currently trading at 11/8 and those odds are too short for me.
My other couple of alert list runners were both in the same race at Plumpton, UXIZANDRE and HI NOTE. Unfortunately, Hi Note was totally outclassed in this, but that was no bad thing considering her official rating as a chaser going forward. We know she is a very consistent mare who always gives her best, and that (in itself) is a big plug for UXIZANDRE. Alan King looks to have a very talented novice chaser in UXIZANDRE tho' it is probable that the horse will fall a little short of 'Arkle' class come the Cheltenham Festival.
So, no wagers recommended today but patience is a very important weapon in the armoury of the punter. You only want to place a wager when the circumstances are in your favour. It is a difficult burden to carry sometimes when you see horses winning and going un-backed (as with Invicta Lake yesterday) but you have to have discipline. There is horseracing virtually every day, so there is is no point in looking for wagers just for the sake of it.
There is some good racing later this week, and we should be able to find opportunities on Thursday, Friday and especially Saturday, from which to take advantage. At Haydock on Saturday we have the Betfair Chase with the prospect of a mouth-watering field including Bobs Worth, Cue Card, Silviniaco Conti and Tidal Bay. I've not made my mind up yet as to which horse to wager on in that race, it will all depend on the ground  conditions.
No selections today.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Quiet day at the office

A fairly quiet day at the races today, with meetings at Leicester and my local track at Plumpton.
Taking in the Plumpton meeting first as that's where my horse alerts are running, I have a couple in the 1:20 which is a novice chase over 2m4f:  UXIZANDRE and HI NOTE. One of my favourite horses, the Sheena West trained mare HI NOTE always gives her all and has won me some decent money in the place-only markets despite not winning in her last 3 starts. I doubt she'll win today either as UXIZANDRE looked a seriously good novice chaser here a couple of weeks ago, managing to win despite a serious error at the 2nd-last fence. That said, there is only about 7lb between them on hurdles form and it would not surprise me to see HI NOTE chase UXIZANDRE all the way to the line. There is a 14lb weight difference in favour of HI NOTE today, and that is not insignificant.  The other runner from my alert list is INVICTA LAKE in the 3:20, a 2m5f handicap hurdle. I added INVICTA LAKE after he won at Fontwell in Dec'12 beating another Sheena West horse Ya Hafed. He's not really improved since then and altho' he won LTO at Fontwell beating a large field with 16 rivals in a good time, he's been raised 9lb for that win which looks very harsh. I'm passing him over for this as I think he'll struggle from this rating, and I think he's the sort who will find his best form when going chasing.
Looking at the Cheltenham results yesterday, DODGING BULLETS looked decent in winning the 2-mile novice chase, and he should be capable of a lot better based on his hurdle form and the fact that he's only a 5yo. Next up, and SIRE DE GRUGY showed that he is not up to the very top class as a 2-mile chaser and Sprinter Sacre has nothing to fear from him, in fact there are very few chasers in the 2-mile division better than OR160+ in my knowledge (tho' I'm sure I'll be reminded of some when I post this). Finally, top prospect RED SHERLOCK made it a great day for trainer David Pipe by taking the bumper, making it 3 wins from 3 for him. He's going hurdling now and is surely Festival bound.
No selections today.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Johns Spirit does the biz - another winner!

The blog returned to winning ways after the disappointment of Friday.
JOHNS SPIRIT was given a tremendous ride by his jockey Richie McLernon and altho' he hit the front a bit too soon and idled on the run-in, when he was challenged by the runner-up in the final 50 yards he picked up again and maintained the advantage. I thought he matched his performance when 2nd to Katenko at Sandown earlier this year and there could easily be another 10lb+ improvement in him. Remember, Jonjo O'Neill has been in this position before with a 6yo winning the Paddy Power off a rating of OR139 - Exotic Dancer!
Exotic Dancer had a similar racing style to JOHNS SPIRIT, coming from way off the pace and, while it is early days with this horse, nothing is impossible in horseracing. Exotic Dancer went on to win again at Cheltenham twice that season before running 2nd to the great Kauto Star in the Gold Cup earning a rating of OR168.
With a bit more bravery on the selection from, it could have been a very good day as the novice chaser LE BEC who was on my alert list, won in very catching fashion earlier on the card. He looks like a marathon chaser in the making. In respect of the 3m3f & 110yards Murphy Chase (handicap) passing it over was a good play. Race winner Alverado had shown a liking for Cheltenham when 3rd here in April off OR131 and, dropped 2lb yesterday, was weighted to be in the picture. The runner-up Knockara Beau ran right up to his best form, but it wasn't good enough. It was another step back for 3rd-placed Bradley who was runner-up in this last year. Then, I gave him a rating of 149 when 2nd to Monbeg Dude but, for yesterday, I only award him 133. If his return to form continues, I'd love to see him go for the Welsh National where (on soft ground) he could be a handicap snip. Monbeg Dude ran a brave race in 4th, and at one point I thought he'd win. But, he's handicapped to his ceiling now at OR138 and that's as good as he gets. He is the classic example of finding a horse running much better than his rating and taking advantage. I'd spotted the horse when he won his chase debut in Nov'11, and followed that up with a eye-catching run at Newcastle in Jan'12. He is the horse that I look out for and he rewarded up with a couple of long-odds wins last season before the handicapper caught up with him.
I chose the wrong one with my other selection DENALI HIGHWAY, favouring him over my other alert runner No Planning who one the race. I'm still not convinced that No Planning stays 3-mile well enough as he clouted the 2nd last hard, and that's the sign of a tired horse. Unfortunately, Denali Highway could not take advantage and did look in need of the race. I'd expect DENALI HIGHWAY to go well NTO and I'd not be put off whatever trip is tried between 21f - 25f, as he looks like a 3-miler yet has a bit of speed about him. As for No Planning, I think he'll struggle once re-rated over 3-mile and he'd do better dropped in trip to 20f-22f.
It's too late to post some selections for Cheltenham this afternoon, but here are the runners from my alert list:-
Cheltenham 2:10 Raya Star and Dodging Bullets
Fontwell 1:50 Emperor's Choice
Fontwell 2:25 Dolatulo and Foxcub
Cheltenham 2:40 Sire De Grugy
Cheltenham 3:15 Ahyaknowyerself and Cash And Go
Cheltenham 3:50 Red Sherlock

I do like CASH AND GO and, having run 2nd in this race last year, we know he'll love it. FOXCUB at Fontwell looks value to be in the places and should go well.

Onwards and upwards into next week.


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Paddy Power Chase selection

Not a great day yesterday, with the main selection RENARD running an absolute stinker of a race. He was the subject of a sustained gamble and started the race as the 11/2 fav (from 8/1) so there was clearly a lot of support behind him and I was not wrong in my assessment of his chance. Unfortunately, right form the off it looked like he lost his chance as he was held up in the rear of the field. As such, he had to use valuable energy (and this is a horse that gets no more than 17-furlongs) climbing the hill in the back straight trying to get into contention. He was lying in about 8th of the 17-runners at the top of the hill but couldn’t improve on that and the run to the 2nd-last after which his chance was gone. Not a great ride from his jockey. The upside is that he remains on his attractive mark of OR129 and, as he was a most consistent performer last season, the expectation is that he will come good NTO.

My other selection RUBEN COTTER looked like he did not stay the 3-mile trip here, altho’ he was ridden widest of the small field thru’out. He was under pressure a long way out and a drop to 2m6f is probably on the cards. His failure was all the more galling as HANDY ANDY who I tipped when he last ran went on to win at 15/2. I had considered the run of HANDY ANDY before the race and expected him to benefit from the additional pace-setters in the field, such as the race-fav Standing Ovation, but I thought he’d be no better than 3rd or 4th in this race. As such, I passed him over as a potential each-way selection.

So, £50 dropped yesterday and I’m not happy with that at all, with neither horse giving us a decent run for our money.

First up, the alert runners:-
Cheltenham 1:15 LE BEC
Cheltenham 1:50 ON TREND; MONBEG DUDE; TOUR DES CHAMPS; GODSMEJUDGE; BALLYBOUGH GORTA; GOULANES
Cheltenham 2:20 TAP NIGHT; JOHNS SPIRIT
Cheltenham 3:00 BALLY LEGEND; RECESSION PROOF; CLOSE HOUSE
Wetherby 2:05 DENALI HIGHWAY; NO PLANNING

Saturday’s racing starts with the Triumph Hurdle Trial followed by the 3-mile novice chase which includes the promising LE BEC. This looks a top-class novice chase and LE BEC may be in too deep here.

The Grade 3 Handicap Chase over 3m3f & 110 yards is a real slog of a race, and I managed to find 3 of the 1st-4 in this race last year including the winner Monbeg Dude who I advised as an eachway wager at 40/1 (SP 25/1). As such, I’m aware of BRADLEY who was 2nd then and who re-opposes on 23lb better terms! There are only 13 runners and with the 1st-5 in the betting all 8/1 or less, eachway wagers are out of the question, accept were MONBEG DUDE is concerned at 14/1. For me, the horse with the most potential in this is GOULANES the 5/1 fav, but those odds are too skinny. On Trend at 667/1 is interesting but he’s best on a right-hand track.

The Paddy Power Chase is ultra-competitive and see’s the return of JOHNS SPIRIT who won for us a few weeks ago. At 9/1 with William Hill as I write, we know he’s in form and we know he loves the track and ground. I had him at 144 we he was 2nd to Katenko at Sandown and I reckon he’s improved since. He’s my eachway selection.
I go to Wetherby for my win wager today, DENALI HIGHWAY in the 2:05. Both Grouse Lodge and No Planning have not shown the stamina for 3-mile and DENALI HIGHWAY looks a lot better than OR128. Odds of 11/4 look fair.

Selections:
Cheltenham 2:20 JOHNS SPIRIT, £5 eachway @ 9/1 with William Hill (BOG)


Wetherby 2:05 DENALI HIGHWAY, £10 win @ 11/4 available generally

Friday, 15 November 2013

Into Cheltenham with a 2pt wager

No selections yesterday following the 25/1 winner given on Wednesday. Many thanks to those who donated from their winnings, it is certainly well appreciated.
Onto today and the 1st day of the "Open" Meeting at Cheltenham. There are a stack of horse alert runners today, here goes:-
Cheltenham 1:05 STANDING OVATION, HANDY ANDY, IMPERIAL CIRCUS, RUBEN COTTER
Cheltenham 1:35 RENARD, THEATRICAL STAR, PARSNIP PETE, BALLYGARVEY
Cheltenham 2:05 THE ROMFORD PELE
Cheltenham 2:40 UPSWING
Cheltenham 3:15 VIKING BLOND
Cheltenham 3:50 MAXI CHOP
Newcastle 1:45 NEXT SENSATION
There will be a lot of support about Standing Ovation to win for the 5th time in as many weeks and, with just a 7lb penalty for his latest win meaning (effectively) he's on OR127, he looks well-in. The handicapper has hiked him up 13lb in the ratings to OR133 for that win, and while that may be too much, today off 6lb less he has a favorites chance, but he's not a 6/4 chance - more like a 5/2 chance. I've a feeling that his amateur rider won't be able to hold him back and he'll use up vital energy mid-race (he wandered a bit on the run-in for his latest win) and he could be vulnerable on the Cheltenham hill. From my alert list, Handy Andy should have won here LTO but was left alone for too long in the lead. He will benefit from having Standing Ovation in the race, but that may not be enough. Imperial Circus is up 7lb for winning a weak race LTO and he's only ever won with Richard Johnson riding. That leaves RUBEN COTTER who won his debut chase beating the useful Vintage Star by 8-lengths. RUBEN COTTER was rated OR139 off that race but, unfortunately, fell NTO at Wincanton. I'm expecting him to be a 150+ chaser this season so, off OR139 today; he can run a big race. Current odds of 10/1 look very attractive with Bet Victor and Bet365.
The 2-mile chase at 1:35 is a race I've been waiting for, as RENARD returns to his optimum trip having ben campaigned over 2m4f+ for his last 3 races. As such, his rating has dropped from OR139 in March to OR129 today. Based on his 2nd at Chepstow last Feb over 2m1f, I rate him 145 at his best, which suggests he's thrown-in here off OR129.He was well there LTO until 2-out when 7th behind Johns Spirit over 2m4f, and so he comes here race-fit and running for a trainer bang in form. Of the others, Theatrical Star is best at 2m4f or thereabouts and has 15lb to find with RENARD; Ballygarvey beat RENARD when they last met in that Chepstow race in Feb but they meet today on 19lb worse terms for the 4-length deficit. Finally, Parsnip Pete is rated 8lb higher than his last chase win and then he beat Kruzhlinin who has found his forte as a 3-mile chaser. I feel that his OR133 rating may not have enough scope for improvement in what will be a competitive race (he flopped at Cheltenham when faced with 22 rivals off OR134). RENARD looks a handicap snip.
The Romford Pele is in a 4-horse race which will no doubt be tactical, and Viking Blond is in the Cross-Country chase which (I feel) will not play to his strength which is stamina; so I'm passing them both over. Maxi Chop was carried over from last year's alert list following his good run in February, but (on reflection) he's not developing quickly enough and probably should have been dropped before now.
As a reward to donators this week following my 25/1 winner, I sent out my advice on selection RENARD last night when he was available at 8/1 with Bet Victor. Now he's best-priced at 6/1 and, while still a good wager, is not as good as last night. RENARD is my first maximum 2-star (2pts) selection of this season, and I have a great record with my 2pt selections, so I'm very confident. They can't all win, of course, but I'd price RENARD at 3/1 for this race if I were a bookmaker.
Selections:
Cheltenham 1:05 RUBEN COTTER, £5 eachway @ 10/1 (use a BOG bookie like Bet Victor or Bet365)
Cheltenham 1:35 RENARD, £40 win (or 2pts) @ 8/1 (Currently 6/1 across the board, but I'm taking 8/1 as those are the odd I obtained last night.)
Total Stakes £50

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Tremendous 25/1 winner from sole selection

What can I say? The blog came back with a bang!
Just the one selection yesterday, and what a selection. From the moment I opened the Racing Post website (I don't buy the newspaper version) on my way into work at 6:30am, MIDNIGHT APPEAL stood out as an exceptional wager – and best odds at that time were 14/1. By the time I arrived at my desk, he was 25/1 with Ladbrokes (20/1 elsewhere) and the wager was a "no-brainer". As I wrote yesterday, in season 2011-12 MIDNIGHT APPEAL was a very decent chaser running 9 times in 12 months recording 5 wins and 3 placings, with a fall at Cheltenham when 10/1 for the "Kim Muir" Chase off OR136 denying him a 100% place record. He was then given a season of hurdling to exploit his lenient hurdle rating. As such, running off OR132 yesterday for his return to chasing, he was exceptionally leniently treated. All this I wrote hours before the race, this is not hindsight talking. I honestly thought he should have been at about 7/1. I did think Our Mick had a favorites chance and was (realistically) the most likely winner on most recent chasing form. But, with MIDNIGHT APPEAL at 25/1 the potential for a lucrative ew wager was enormous.  It's highly likely Our Mick did not handle the heavy ground (it was soft, heavy in places) and I'd keep faith in him NTO.
I know a fair few people read the blog yesterday before the race (by my stats, there were 351 visits), and a good number sent congratulations afterwards. So I'm hoping that those who had a successful wager on the back of that tip have the good grace to make a donation. Remember, I'm not tipping 7/4 chances and asking for £100 a month for the privilege, nor am I giving readers the names of 10 or 12 horses and then shouting my praises for having 1 or 2 winners a day from that double-handful. I bet myself (usually double or triple the stakes advised) on what I write about. Many thanks to those who have donated from their winnings, some very generously. This time last year I was considering going "subscription only" and, as it's easier for me to send out an email than to update my blog from my workplace, it would be no hardship for me to go subscription only. I have about 60 regular donators and they'd be the ones to benefit first.
There is only one runner from my alert list today, RYDALIS who runs in the 2:00 at Ludlow. She was a near winner LTO when only failing for lack of race fitness. I've thought this mare was a 125+ performer for some time and so, running off OR118 today, she has an enormous chance. Her odds tho' leave no room for error as she's 9/4 across the boards. Those are the lowest odds at which I recommend a wager, but I'm going to pass today as I don't think they offer value. There are a couple in this who look to have decent chances, Lava Lamp who won here at Ludlow LTO over 2m4f; Raduis Bleu who has proven to be a better chaser than hurdler; Jayandbee who will stay every yard; Inside Dealer who is a very experienced chaser on a favourable mark compared to his best efforts; and Kings Lodge who has undoubted class but has yet to perfect his jumping to show it. As such, I'd be happier recommending a wager on RYDALIS at odds of 4/1 or, better, 9/2 as there is no value in her current odds.
For new visitors to the blog following yesterday's 25/1 winner, I am essentially a value punter. That is I appraise a race and find a selection that should be one of the market leaders and, if the actual odds available are much greater than that (for instance, if I think the horse should be at odds of 4/1 and the actual price is 8/1) then I have a "value" wager. Next, I try and wager only on horses that I am familiar with and know the form of. I have created my own alert list of over 200 horses: each selected due to having shown form capable of winning races and having demonstrated a winning attitude. For instance before yesterday, Midnight Appeal had won 7 of his previous 17 races over a period of 2 years & 8 months. Finally, these horses have shown they are capable of form better than their current official rating. Hence, I try and wager only on horses from my alert list.
No selection today but I reckon I will have one tomorrow.
Profits this jumps season since the end of September are now £344.10 to advised stakes of £215; that's a return on investment (ROI) of £160%. Most tipsters who charge subscriptions brag about having an ROI of 20% to 30%.  Unfortunately they cannot all win – I only wish they did – so there will be losing wagers. I will endeavour to keep them at a minimum. Betting on the horses is a long-term project with long-term profits the target. Remember, patience is the ultimate weapon for the punter.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Major value at Bangor today

Another day without a winner yesterday as the selection SALMANAZAR unfortunately lost his legs jumping the 3rd-last flight (while still in contention) and never recovered. Today we have a couple of meetings at Bangor and Exeter, and some great racing.
Possibly the best race of the day is the 3m & ½f chase at 1:50 at Bangor. There are 5 alert runners of mine in this from the 9 runners: Quartz De Thaix, Our Mick, What A Warrior, Midnight Appeal, and Loch Ba. From these in my opinion it is Our Mick who has the favorite's chance based on last seasons for. He goes well fresh, is a strong traveller and will handle this trip and the soft ground.  His rating of OR145 is fair given he is potentially a 150+ horse. Last year's winner (who I tipped) Quartz De Thaix is now rated 18lb higher on OR148 and he will go well as I also think he's 150+ horse. What A Warrior is a tricky horse to assess, but I don't think he's up to staying this trip against this opposition, and he may be best around 2m6f. There's no doubt Loch Ba came of age last season with some tremendous displays, notably when winning at Newbury in January over 3-mile. He's also won his seasonal debut for the past couple of seasons, so we know he goes fresh. Thing is, compared to Our Mick and (especially) MIDNIGHT APPEAL he looks poorly handicapped. I also wonder if he's happier going right-handed as other than when winning at Newbury, which is a vast flat left-handed oval track, all his best form has been on right-handed tracks. Not only that, he's not run well on his last couple of runs on LH tracks at Aintree and Cheltenham. That leaves me with MIDNIGHT APPEAL. He spent all last season exploiting a reasonable hurdle rating after a very promising chase season when he won 5 of 9 races, being in the 1st-3 every time he completed. His only failure was when falling at Cheltenham when 10/1 for the "Kim Miur" Chase off OR136. He runs off OR132 today which I think is exceptionally lenient. Consider that he hammered Loch Ba when winning at Sandown in Feb 2012 at level weights (he gets a 1lb from Loch Ba today).
MIDNIGHT APPEAL goes well fresh, is very consistent and almost certainly under-rated as a chaser, we have a wagering opportunity – especially as the odds are so generous at 25/1 with Ladbrokes and 20/1 with Betfred, and Bet365. Only 9 go to post so the wager has to be eachway at those odds. Sure, I can see OUR MICK taking this race, but I'll be happy for 2nd or 3rd at 25/1.
Only the one selection today:-
Bangor 1.50, MIDNIGHT APPEAL, £5 eachway @ 25/1 with Ladbrokes

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Alan King can upset the odds

I have a couple of alert runners out in Vulcanite and De Blacksmith.
Vulcanite runs at Huntingdon over 2m4f & 110 yards, and I don't think he stays much beyond 2-mile as a chaser. So, I'll be passing-over him today and waiting till he returns to 2-mile.  I am more confident about the chance of De Blacksmith who I reckon will prove a much better chaser than hurdler. He never took advantage LTO when the race-fav made a huge error, but he will have learned a lot from that and comes into the race fit to win.  However, this race – the 2:00 at Lingfield, will not be easy as there is a case for 3 of his 4 rivals and his current odds of 3/1 do not look value in the circumstances.
Going back to the race involving Vulcanite at Huntingdon at 2:10, there looks to be a wagering opportunity with one of the others. David Pipe sends Broadway Buffalo, his only runner here today, and he looks to have a big chance. But I think his OR141 rating is a bit high and I'm looking elsewhere. I think this trip will be too much for Zuider Zee, but one who will not find the trip or soft/heavy ground a problem is SALMANAZAR. He's 6/1 across the board, so look for a bookie offering best odds guaranteed like Bet Victor, Stan James, or William Hill. Trainer Alan King has his stable firing and this is the sort of horse, and improving 2nd-season hurdler, that he usually does well with.
The only other horse that picks up on my radar is O Ma Lad trained by John Quinn and running in the 1:20 at Sedgefield. This is John Quinn's only runner today and comes here fit from a run on the flat. He's won on soft on the flat, where he had an OR86 rating, so ground is no issue today. Currently only 5/2 in the market (11/4 with Stan James) I'd be more comfortable with greater than 3/1 (say 100/30). He's worth a small wager if you're in the mood.
Only the one selection today:-
Huntingdon 2:10, SALMANAZAR, £10 win @ 6/1 (Bet Victor, Stan James, or William Hill, all go BOG)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Internet issues resolved

Yesterday (Saturday 9th) was a very frustrating day for me due to internet issues. For most of the day I thought it was the lack of bandwidth from my provider (Talk-Talk) but it turned out that it was actually my laptop that was at fault. I had to close the thing right down and then re-boot (rather than just closing the lid). A simple solution but infuriating none the less.

As such, I missed advising a superlative wager via the blog on the winner of the "Badger" chase at Wincanton - STANDING OVATION. I did advise a wager at about 1:00pm via twitter on the horse when he was trading at 4/1 (eventually started at 5/2) and he won the race very easily. I did think that there was too much use made of him as he took up the lead before 3-out and was quickly pushed clear. He started to look like he was wandering on the run-in and I (briefly) thought he may be caught by the runner-up. A such, I don't think he'll take much of a rise in the handicap from his OR120 rating.

There were a couple of other horse alert runners that were on my shortlist for wagers yesterday, but there is no point in going over them. Time to put yesterday behind me and to move on. The heavy ground brought out some specialists, the most lucrative one being the win at Sandown by heavy going specialist Fine Parchment @ 14/1. He gave his rivals a right run-around and had them all struggling from 4-out as he relished the ground and jumped like a stag. One from my alert list who also loves heavy ground runs at Ffos Las today, FIREBIRD FLYER in the 3-mile hurdle at 2:30. He won on similar ground on Boxing Day last December and, if you can get longer than 7/2, he's worth a small wager. He's currently at 3/1 across the board and those odds are too skinny.

Another from my alert list running today is BALBRIGGAN at Market Rasen in the 2:15. I'm not sure he a true 3-mile chaser even tho' he was just pipped on the post over 3m2f &110yards LTO at Newton Abbott. This race over 3m1f may leave him exposed to a horse with a better turn-of-foot on the run-in.

No selections advised today, but keep an eye on the odds about FIREBIRD FLYER.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Congratulations AP McCoy

A moment in horse-racing history was witnessed on Thursday with AP McCoy winning his 4000th race over the jumps at Towcester – and he did it with a trademark McCoy ride. Looking beaten on the run-up to the 2nd last, he kept his mount going and on a straight line where other jockeys may have given up and let their mount settle for an easy runners-up spot. Still not looking the most likely winner jumping the last flight, AP got to work on his mount and built-up some momentum to pass the leader with about 75 yards to go and cross the line with half-a-length to spare. What a remarkable achievement for AP McCoy, and this is from somebody who remembers Stan Mellor being the 1st jump jockey to ride 1000 winners way back in 1971 – and there was talk then of that feat never being repeated!
I sincerely hope that AP McCoy is granted a greater honour than his OBE (awarded in 2010) and, personally, I'd think it fitting if the man was knighted – Sir AP McCoy has a good ring to it.
Unfortunately, the day wasn't quite as successful for the blog, even if it was for me personally.  There was just the one runner from my horse alert list, VALID POINT, and had I been quicker off the mark with my blog and taken the early-doors 10/1 available in the morning, then I'd have certainly nominated him as an each-way selection. Frustratingly, he was freely available at up to 12.00 (approx. 11/1) on the exchanges minutes before the off, despite starting at an SP of 7/1. Re-reading my write-up yesterday, I can't believe that I didn't put him up as a selection, as he's now won 4 of his 5 races at Towcester. I did have a small stake on him myself personally, as I wrote on Twitter (my handle is @wayward_lad), but I'm kicking myself that I didn't make a recommendation to my blog followers. Admittedly, he only got up in the final strides to lead on the line and win by a head, and for much of the race he was held-up at the rear of the field. But that was always expected and, as I wrote yesterday, being a winner over 3-mile at Towcester with its notorious uphill run-in, he was always going to come with a rattle at the end. As such, I was surprised to see his odds drifting to the low 20's on the exchanges in-running. Putting him up as a selection yesterday would have been an early birthday present to my followers (I'm 54 years old today), and I just hope some of you had more strength of conviction than I. As I wrote earlier, I was on the horse on the exchanges taking advantage of the drift (courtesy of the market strength on the AP McCoy horse) and my £15 was on at an average of (just under) 11.00.
There are no alert list runners today, but there looks like being more than a few tomorrow. We have a couple of interesting meetings tho', at Hexham and Musselburgh and I'll give you my thoughts. At Hexham the going is soft, but I reckon it is more heavy than soft with a going-stick reading of 4.80. As such, stamina will be at a premium there. With this in mind, it may prove profitable to find proven stamina rich horses with form on heavy ground. One such is in the novice chase at 1:20 over 3-mile – Notonebuttwo. This horse is having his chase debut today, which has its own risks, but the horse has winning form as a hurdler over 3-mile on heavy. It is also trainer Chris Grants only runner at Hexham. An OR91 rating looks fair given his hurdle form and means he's carrying only 10st 7lb today. At current odds of 15/2 he looks an interesting wager to small money. At Musselburgh the ground is "good" and there is an interesting race at 3:35 which sees the return of Aikman to the track after a break of over 20-months. He's not shown the level of form over fences yet that he had as a hurdler and, as such, given the break he's had I'm wanting to oppose him. One that is fit and in-form is Diamond Frontier who won over this 2m4f trip at Kelso in April and, at 5/1, he could represent a bit of value for a small wager.
No recommended selections today but, as with yesterday, if the odds about those I've discussed – Notonebuttwo and Diamond Frontier – look like presenting a bit of value then it is up to you to take advantage. That is what happened with Valid Point yesterday with the disparity in odds between bookies and exchanges.
That's it for today – it's my birthday and I'm out for a good meal tonight at one of Brighton's better restaurants.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Frustrating day

Another frustrating day for followers of the blog. There were 3 horse alerts runners and they were all placed in their respective races; BALDER SUCCES winning @ 8/15; THE POTTING SHED coming in 2nd @ 5/2 and BALLYWATT coming in 3rd @ 5/1.
In the race contested by The Potting Shed and Ballywatt, I was right to oppose the race-fav Forest Walker as he couldn't get involved and finished 4th. It can be misleading to follow novice chase form as sometimes the ability of horses in these races is mis-matched and what are ordinary winning performances are made to look something special when the opposition is weak. As such, when judging early season novice chase form, I pay a lot more attention to the clock and speed-ratings, as well as the race-readers' comments and (finally) my own opinion based on 45 years of watching jump racing on tv. As such, I'd have been happy to "lay" Forest Walker who started with an SP of 15/8, but laying is not the intention of this blog.
I did think The Potting Shed would take advantage of the over-rated race-fav, but it was not to be as Rockchasebullett was able to record his 1st win under rules (this was his 2nd chase run) on this better ground than he had on his chase debut. As he's only a 5yo, and he was able to make all in winning this, he's going onto the alert list. I'll leave The Potting Shed on for his next run as he was conceding the winner 13lbs, but I'm removing the 3rd placed Ballywatt. This horse (Ballywatt) has now run 12 races under rules and 12 point-to-points and is yet to win a race. He is consistent in that he flatters to deceive, but he has not "zip" in his performance. He probably will win a race, but only when stepped-up in trip to 3-mile and on heavy ground where he is left as the last horse standing.
AP McCoy was able to edge closer to the 4000 winner mark as he jocked-off the conditional rider James Huxham to take the ride on Minella For Steak and his win on that horse takes onto 3999. He has a couple of rides today at Towcester and probably the best chance he has is on Mountain Tunes in the 3:10. McCoy has a ride earlier in the afternoon on Church Field in the 2:10 and tho' this horse is also fancied he current odds do not (in my opinion) represent his chance. There is one from my alert list in this race, VALID POINT. He's not won for 2 years but he is a fairly decent hurdler who is better than his OR117 rating at his best, he's probably in the 125-130 region. There are a number of positive points: the horse loves Towcester having won on 3 of his 4 visits here over todays 21f trip and over 3-mile – so he won't be lacking stamina. He's also trainer Jim Old's only runner today and Jim Old has a great strike rate at Towcester. What I also like is that when Old puts-up Jason Maguire in the saddle then he usually means business. Unfortunately, the early 10/1 has gone and current best odds of 7/1 are a bit too skinny. He is possibly still a place-only option, as I feel place-only odds on the exchanges do not represent chances of being placed. I've written about this before, so you may want to do a search of the blog to read about my opinions on place-only wagers.
At 10/1, I'd have had a small each-way wager on Valid Point but, at the current odds, I can't.
Before I write-off, it's my birthday tomorrow (geez… 54 years old), so I may write a blog or I may give it a miss and be back on Saturday when I'm planning on spending the afternoon watching the racing on the tv – bliss!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

No fireworks for McCoy

It was an interesting day of racing yesterday at Exeter, not least because despite the media attention AP McCoy was unable to edge any closer to the 4000 winner mark from his 3 rides there. He has a couple of rides today but none look capable of winning.
Blog favourite CUE CARD was unable to repeat last season's win in the Haldon Gold Cup but, even so, ran a great race if you consider he was conceding the winner Somersby 17lb. I did write yesterday that Somersby was the favorite's biggest danger and the old boy ran right up to his current rating og OR155, which is about 7lb short of his best Whether he'll come on for the run is debateable, but before yesterday's race Henrietta Knight (who is now Mick Channon's assistant trainer) suggested he would. That would make him interesting if going for the Amlin Chase at Ascot.
My personal Alert List runner yesterday, RYDALIS, very nearly won. Apologies to the horse yesterday as I called the mare "him". It seems Venetia Williams horses can now be followed as she had the race won at the final fence, but faded on the run-in and she'd little left to give once passed by the eventual winner. We know she improves for racing so, as long as the handicapper does not go overboard – and there is no reason he should – she will look very decent NTO. The main thing tho' was we missed-out on backing a loser. Close isn't enough in this game and I'm happier not betting on losers. Personally, as I wrote yesterday, I had a small back-to-lay wager and was on at 10.50 and laid-off mid-race at 4.20. Considering there was plenty of money traded at under 1.40 (she actually touched 1.08 on the run-in) there was opportunity a-plenty. The winner - Gas Line Boy – has had very little racing and this was only his 2nd chase. He could be a real blot on the handicap if he continues his rapid improvement.
There are a couple of meetings today but, at the time of writing, nothing looks interesting. I have a couple of alert list runners at Warwick: BALLYWATT and The POTTING SHED in the 1:20, and BALDER SUCCES in the 2:20.
I'm not sure about Ballywatt; the horse does not seem to have any gears at the business end of the race and I'm sure he'd prefer some give in the ground anyway. I think he'd prefer a step up to 3-mile. My other alert list horse in the same race, THE POTTING SHED looks a better proposition. Currently available at 7/2 this very lightly raced 6yo has plenty of scope to improve and should rate above OR130 this season. The race fav Forest Walker is also lightly raced, but I reckon he wants 3-mile and this shorter trip of 2m4f & 110 yards should play into the hands of THE POTTING SHED.
I cannot see BALDER SUCCES being beaten this afternoon, but neither can the bookies and he's well odds-on.
Selection:
Warwick 1:20, THE POTTING SHED, £10 win @ 7/2 (available generally, go BOG)


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Bonfire celebrations for McCoy?

No wagers yesterday and it was a good idea to side-step the chase debut of Duke Of Monmouth. He'd been on my alert list most of last season when he was very consistent as a 3-mile hurdler but, as regards a chase career, he has some work to do.
The major news from yesterday was that AP McCoy moved to within 2 winners of the 4,000 mark and he could well reach that milestone today at Exeter – the course where he rode his first-ever winner way back in 1994. I'm expecting McCoy to take the opener at Exeter with FLEMENSON in the novice hurdle, tho' he'll be a skinny price. It may not go his way tho' as there is plenty of support for Champagne West.  Unfortunately, McCoy does not have a ride in the feature race, the Haldon Gold Cup.  Blog favourite, CUE CARD goes for a repeat of last season's win in this race. He's giving away 17lb and some to the 5 other rivals in this year's race, but CUE CARD should have enough class to dominate the race and win. There are plenty who are willing to oppose him tho' and the unbeaten chaser William's Wishes is the one carrying their money. I'm not so sure about this one being able to take on CUE CARD, and I'm more afraid of Somersby who always runs his best race when fresh. In receipt of 17lb, he looks the one to chase the fav home.
AP McCoy has another ride in the 3:50 with Well Hello There, but this looks a competitive handicap chase. There is one runner from my personal Alert List running today and it's in this race – RYDALIS. His form looked to tail off last season after a bright start having won the 1st-2 of his 6 chases of his novice season. RYDALIS has won at Exeter before (over hurdles) and todays ground (good-to-soft, soft in places) will suit him. We know the stable is in form (3 winners on Saturday) and, in my opinion, RYDALIS is a potential OR125+ performer, which makes his mark today of OR115 very attractive. The only downside is that he's usually needed a run to get him race-fit, even last year when the Williams stable were flying in the autumn, RYDALIS needed a run. As such, I can't recommend a win wager and the odds of 6/1 do not represent value for an eachway wager either. He's a fairly good traveller, so there may be opportunity for exchange players to have a "back-to-lay" wager and try and nick a small profit by laying-off in-running.
Personally, I'd like to see AP McCoy riding Tarvini in the 4:20, as this 3-mile trip will really suit the horse who is a good staying hurdler. The ground is against him but, should there be a drying wind blowing and McCoy has managed to pick up a winner during the day, I can see AP jocking-off the lad and taking this ride to close the day.
No selections, but fingers crossed for AP McCoy.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Exciting times ahead

What a cracking weekend of jump racing and I happened to miss most of it being in Cornwall for the weekend. Don't think I was swanning about enjoying the sun there – it lashed it down with rain for most of the time and was blowing a hoolie with it!
I had a couple of small private wagers over the weekend, but no winners – just a couple of 2nd's with HUMBIE @ 14/1 on Friday at Wetherby, and MERRY KING @ 8/1 on Saturday. I've had my eye on HUMBIE since he won at Carlisle in October 2011, and this close relative of Denman is a horse who could find a lot of improvement when tackling 3-miles. He's not had much racing for a 9yo, but has managed to finish in the places on 11 of his 17 starts to date, winning 5 times. As for MERRY KING, I thought he'd slipped under the radar on Saturday morning and I half-expected him to start the race as the fav given his progressive profile. What I hadn't counted on was Venetia Williams sending out a hat-trick of winners from her 4 runners at Ascot on Saturday, including picking-up the 2 major chase handicaps with Houblon Des Obeaux defeating Merry King, and Drumshambo taking the 17-furlong handicap earlier on the card. It looks like Venetia has her stable firing as well as it did this time last season. Both the Williams horses were on my alert list carried over from last season, but I overlooked both on the basis that I wasn't confident that Venetia had her stable at peak fitness. Drumshambo won 4 of his 6 starts between October and the end of the year in 2012 and should be followed in the coming weeks.
I missed a trick with Houblon Des Obeaux. I was at Ascot when he ran 2nd to Rocky Creek in February, after which he ran a couple of poor races including one at the Cheltenham Festival. I also thought he'd be better on soft-heavy ground but I forgot he'd run a cracker on good ground at the Festival in 2012 (4th in the Pertemps hurdle) and he also had winning form on good-to-soft. Add that he'd won his 1st-couple of races of the 2012-13 season last autumn and (in hindsight) it wasn't difficult to see him running a big race on Saturday. I think Venetia Williams has another "Mon Mome" in this one.
I was also taken with the display by BLESS THE WINGS in this race as he was done for stamina in the final half-mile. A return to 20-21 furlongs NTO should see him in the winners enclosure.
There are a couple of meetings today at Kempton and Plumpton and, at the former meeting, I can see DUKE OF MONMOUTH running a big race if he's learnt to jump a fence well enough. This is his chase debut and, as a front-running hurdler with stamina to burn, he looks a ready-made staying chaser. This 3-mile trip is right up his street and Kempton does suit a front-runner. This is his debut tho' so it is a watching brief only.