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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, 28 February 2015

Trying for another winning Saturday

Another Saturday of decent jump racing and the pressure is on to continue the good run of profitable Saturday wagers posted on the blog. Last Saturday, MILBOROUGH did us proud winning the Eider Chase having been advised at 20/1 in the morning. That took the blog profit for this jumps season to just shy of £200 on total advised stakes of only £420 for the season. I know some of my followers put on larger wagers than those that I advise, and with 4 winning Saturdays from the past 5 weekends (and 5 winning Saturdays from the past 7 weekends) the bookies are feeling the pinch.

We have 3 meetings todays at Newbury, Doncaster and Kelso, so plenty of racing to choose from.

At Newbury, the feature race is the at 3:25pm - a Grade 3 handicap chase run over 2m4f worth over £28,000 to the winner. I think the top-weight and race fav Sound Investment will struggle off this mark of OR149 unless he can find a few pounds of improvement. His run LTO over 3-mile can be excused as he didn't stay the trip, but his win at Sandown in November now looks top-notch form. But I felt he was helped by the ground that day (a lot softer than good-to-soft) and so I have my eye on another in the race. The obvious one is Royal Regatta, but we have to assume that the horse - who has been running over 2-mile as a novice chaser - will stay this trip. Saint Raph is another who we have to make a judgement on as he won by a mile (actually 34-lengths) when left in the lead at the final fence LTO, and that form may be dubious based on the subsequent performances of those that were beaten that day. Venetia Williams hasn't been in good form of late, and she sends a handful of runners here today, including Benny's Mist. All his winning has been on soft or heavy ground so you may be wondering why I'm talking about him as it's good-to-soft on the chase course at Newbury (it's soft on the hurdle course). Well, he's run some cracking races in defeat on good and GS ground in the past 12 months, and he stays up to 3-mile. I have a feeling this race will be run at a good pace and that will favour Benny's Mist who will be thereabouts come the finish. Odds of 10/1 with Bet365 and Stan James who are quarter-odds a place 1,2,3 look generous to me as I'd have him at about 6/1, maybe even a bit less.

At Doncaster, the feature race is the Grimthorpe Chase over 3m2f at 3:45pm. The ground is 'good' and that is perfect for last year's winner Night In Milan, who does not want the ground to be soft. However, the last horse to win this race carrying more than 11st was that top-class chaser Cloudy Lane back in 2008, and I cannot see either of those at the top of the handicap winning this race today. I'm going for a young chaser who has had a gentle preparation this season, with this being only his 3rd race of the season - Samingarry. Today's trip and ground will be perfect for him, and he comes into this race fairly fresh and this race looks like it has been his target for the season. Odds of 12/1 (available generally), are not as generous as I'd expect, but that reflects that opposition.

Just the two selections and, as I did last week, I'm going for a big hit with a small eachway double.

Selections
Newbury 3:25 - Benny's Mist, £4 ew @  10/1 (Bet365 and Stan James)
Doncaster 3:45 - Samingarry, £4 ew @ 12/1 (available generally)
plus
£2 eachway double on the above selections
Total staked = £20

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Record of selections for the 2014-15 Jumps season

Current Profit for season = £199.62
Total Staked = £420.00
Return On Investment = 47.52%

21-Feb 15 - Milborough, £4 ew @ 20/1, WON: Profit = £105.00
                 - Tenor Nivernais, £4 ew @ 14/1, lost (£8.00)
                 - £2 eachway double, lost (£4.00)
14-Feb 15 - Balder Succes, £20 win @ 4/1, WON: profit = £80.00
                 - Mountainous, £5 ew @ 20/1, lost (£10.00)
07-Feb 15 - Houblon Des Obeaux, £20 win @ 100/30, lost (£20.00)
                 - Wilton Milan, £10 win @ 13/2, lost (£10.00)
31-Jan 15 - Brick Red, £20 win @ 4/1,  WON: profit = £80.00
24-Jan 15 - Dynaste, £20 win @ 5/2, lost (£20.00)
                 - Annacotty, £5 ew @ 6/1, WON: Profit = £36.50
                 - Saphir Du Rheu, £20 win @ 3/1, WON: Profit = £60.00
17-Jan 15 - Green Flag, £5 ew @ 13/2, lost (£10.00)
03-Jan 15 - Brick Red, £5 eachway @ 9/2, Profit = £0.62 (ran 2nd)
                - Triolo D'Alene, £5 eachway @ 18/1, Profit = £17.50 (ran 3rd)
26-Dec 14 - Boxing Day Yankee, lost (£22.00)
                  - Boxing Day Double, lost (£8.00)
13-Dec 14 - Ericht, £5 ew AND £5 win @ 10/1, lost (£15.00)
05-Dec 14 - Wilton Milan, £10 win @ 5/2, lost (£10.00)
29-Nov 14 - Vintage Star, £5 eachway @ 13/2, lost (£10.00)
                  - Midnight Prayer, £5 eachway @ 28/1, lost (£10.00)
28-Nov 14 - Big Water, £10 win @ 9/4, lost (£10.00)
22-Nov 14 - Silviniaco Conti, £10 win @ 7/2, WON, Profit = £35.00
                  - Rajdhani Express, £10 win @ 7/2, lost (£10.00)
15-Nov 14 - Master Neo, £5 ew @ 12/1, lost (£10.00)
                  - Ericht, £5 ew @ 22/1, lost (£10.00)
                  - Kapga De Cerisy, £5 ew @ 22/1, lost (£10.00)
12-Nov 14 - Foxcub, £5 eachway @ 11/1, Profit = £66.00
04-Nov 14 - Balder Succes, £10 win @ 3/1, lost (£10.00)
01-Nov 14 - Medermit, £5 eachway @ 10/1, lost (£10.00)
                  - Roalco De Farges, £5 eachway @ 8/1, lost (£10.00)
31-Oct 14 - Viva Colonia, £5 eachway @ 16/1, Profit = £11.00 (ran 3rd @ 5th odds a place)
16-Oct 14 - Greywell Boy, £5 eachway @ 14/1, lost (£10.00)
15-Oct 14 - Oyster Shell, £15 win @ 3/1, lost (£15.00)
11-Oct 14 - Gas Line Boy, £5 eachway @ 16/1, lost (£10.00)
10-Oct 14 - Black Thunder, £10 eachway @ 16/1, lost (£20.00)

Sunday, 22 February 2015

20/1 winner for the blog with Milborough

What a great result for the blog yesterday when MILBOROUGH - advised at 20/1 in the morning - stayed-on strong to take the marathon Eider Chase over 4-mile and a furlong. The form was in the book (as I wrote on my blog) and he just needed a bit of luck to ensure he got around.
I thought I was onto a double when there was a concerted gamble on my other selection Tenor Nivernais, who went off at 9/1 (advised at 14/1) but the ground did for his chances.

Even so, the blog returned a £93 profit on the £20 staked.

There were some good performances yesterday, none more so than that of Rocky Creek in the feature race at Kempton. He ran right up to his best on my assessment, which puts him just below Gold Cup class, but not by much. If it were a soft ground Festival, I'd have him running in the Gold Cup.

At Chepstow, another Festival contender won as Sire De Grugy sauntered home from a small field. He was giving away lots of weight and I didn't think he'd be capable of doing it, but he did. He was helped by a poor effort from Grey Gold (in-receipt of 20lbs) who ran about 15lbs below what he is capable of. Why do I think that? Because he only beat the OR132 rated Mister Grez by 2-lengths despite that horse being 14lb out of the handicap. As such, I've rated Sire De Grugy at 160 for this performance. Along with Sprinter Sacre, I think both these QMCC market leaders will come on for the run, but I think there is more potential from Sprinter Sacre.

I hope you were on yesterdays winner, I know more than a few were. That makes it 4 winning Saturdays from the last 5, and my confidence is running high as the Cheltenham Festival approaches.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A handicap double in the two big chase races

Followers of the blog have had a good few weeks as we've had winners on 3 of the past 4 Saturdays: Annacotty @ 6/1 (advised), Saphir Du Rheu @ 3/1; Red Brick @ 4/1, and last week Balder Succes @ 4/1. So, let's try and keep this good run of form going.

Although we have the Eider Chase at Newcastle, there are also interesting meetings at Kempton and Chepstow where Sire De Grugy attempts to get his season back on track in the 3:35. However, he will have to be at his best and more to win the handicap chase he's entered for as he's giving away 20lb to Grey Gold and 22lb to Far West. Personally, I don't think he's capable as I don't think he's OR172 at all, and I have him at 162 at best. He had a very nice run last season and made the most of it, but he's no world-beater. The ground may prove too soft for Far West, but he will have the benefit of a 5lb claimer in Jack Sherwood, and his OR150 rating is probably spot on. The 10yo Grey Gold will have perfect ground for him but I feel he's about 148 at best, so it looks like he's harshly treated on OR152. The odds of 5/2 on Far West look fair value to me, as I'd have him at 6/4 but then I'd also have Grey Gold as the 2nd fav at 5/2.

Earlier in the day, there is a handicap chase over 3-mile at 2:30 which could also go to a horse ridden by a claimer: Winged Crusader. The pace of the race was probably too hot for him LTO and he pulled-up, but this should be a more sedate affair. Odds of 9/2 are not great value though.

At Kempton, the feature race is the Betbright Handicap Chase over 3-miles, but there looks to be an interesting chance earlier on the card. The novice chase at 2:35pm over 2m4f has been won by some decent horses over the years and trainer Paul Nicholls has dominated it. He has Irish Saint running for him and although I like the horse, he looks exposed now and his OR150 rating is about right. He will therefore find it hard to contain a couple of these: notably the fav God's Own who has lost his way in recent months, but also Melodic Rendezvous. While I don't think God's Own is worth an OR160 rating he should be suited by the race conditions as he carries the same weight as Irish Saint. However, I don't think either will be able to hold Melodic Rendezvous who will enjoy the soft ground and wont be phased by the trip. This horse also receives 7lb from his 2 rivals named above and that swings the balance in his favour. Odds of 5/2 looks very fair as I think he should be the clear fav at maybe 6/4 or less for this with his rivals at 5/2 and longer.

The Betbright Handicap Chase at 3:45pm has a quality competitive field. While this race can be won by a horse carrying a big weight, it takes a special horse to do it. Personally, I  cannot see either Rajdhani Express or Rocky Creek winning this, and while I expect Fox Appeal to run well, his stamina could well be exposed in this race. For me, I'm looking at those carrying less than 11st, and a couple stand out: Renard who is a consistent performer who loves soft ground, his stablemate Tenor Nivernais who has been crying-out for a step up in trip to 3-mile; and Tap Night who is weighted to run a cracker if he stays this 3-mile trip. I think the fav Easter Day is a silly price at 9/2 for this and given the competitive field he should be more like 7/1 or longer on what he's shown on the track. For me, 14/1 about Tenor Nivernais is a value wager.

At Newcastle, the Eider Chase at 2:55pm is run over 4m1f - a real marathon. There is a place for marathon races, but we have to pay attention to the ground as they are not pretty affairs when it is heavy and the mud is flying. What is interesting is that all the most recent winners have carried 11st or more - that is unusual for a marathon race. Of the 4 horses that meet that criteria, only one looks like winning - Shotgun Paddy the top-weight with 11st12lb. He will ensure a good pace throughout and will prove tough to beat and is a worthy fav. BetVictor and Corals go 13/2 which is very generous as I'd have him at 5/1 or even 9/2. I certainly cannot see either Wyck Hill or Portrait King beating him, and the 7yo Knockanrawley could prove to be out of his depth in this. Given the success of weight-carrying horses, I'm looking at Milborough with 10st13lb to go close. He certainly stays the trip and if you forgive his LTO fall his form looks very attractive. I'm especially taken with his run at Cheltenham last March when he was beaten only 10-lengths behind Shotgun Paddy on level weights. On that form he is well-treated in the formbook and his odds of 20/1 are worthy of an eachway wager.

Overall, it looks a difficult day to find value and there is a fair amount of risk attached to all the races I've looked at. The only wager that looks worthy of a "win" is Melodic Rendezvous, but it is only a small wager, as if God's Own can recover his early season for he will win this with something to spare.

Of the other big handicap chases, I am more confident of Tenor Nivernais at Kempton as he has the potential to find some improvement over today's trip of 3-mile. The worry with Milborough at Newcastle is that he is apt to hit a fence and that could prove costly at Newcastle, but he will be staying on in the final mile.

Selections:
Newcastle 2:55 Milborough, £4 eachway @ 20/1 (BetVictor and Bet365, both quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4 and BOG)
Kempton 3:45 Tenor Nivernais, £4 eachway @ 14/1 (generally available at quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
PLUS: a £2 eachway DOUBLE on the above pair

Total = £20 staked

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Terrific 4/1 winner for the blog

We hit the jackpot yesterday with a grand performance from ultra-consistent BALDER SUCCES at Ascot to win at 4/1 in the feature race of the meeting. 

As I wrote on the blog, BALDER SUCCES was top-rated (official ratings) for the race, and my opinion about the Irish challenger Ballycasey, who I considered was outclassed, was correct. I thought it may be close, as I had Balder Succes at 2/1, with Ptit Zig at 9/4 but, as Ptit Zig fell mid-race, there were no worries after that.

I had thought the day was going to be a cracker as my other eachway selection Mountainous was looking very interesting with a mile to go at Haydock, but his lack of fitness seemed to tell in the final half-mile and he lost ground rapidly. He may be interesting if contesting a "veterans" handicap chase in the next 6-weeks over a similar trip.

Back to Balder Succes, and thoughts of the Cheltenham Festival. As regular readers of the blog will know, I'm not issuing a Cheltenham Festival Bulletin this year due to time constraints (it takes about 60 hours to put together, at about 2 hrs a day over a period of about 6-weeks). I am, instead, preparing an antepost portfolio prior to the Festival and will have a daily blog before and throughout the Festival week.

Balder Succes is being aimed at the Ryanair Chase over 2m5f at Cheltenham, and I thought the horse showed nothing knew in winning yesterday. He is very consistent and this trip seems to show him at his best as it allows him the time to recover from any jumping errors, of which he is slightly prone. I have him rated at 160 which isn't good enough to make him a clear selection for the Ryanair Chase - although he could have 2 or 3lb more in him.

Looking at the Ryanair Chase, it is a bit of a puzzle. Over in Ireland yesterday, Champagne Fever won with solid yardstick Texas Jack in 2nd. I must say, I was not overly impressed. Another Irish horse, Don Cossack, is the 9/2 fav for the Ryanait Chase and he is a solid jumper of a fence. I just feel that he too is at about 160-163 based on his form this season, but he seems more ground dependent requiring the word "soft" in the description. John's Spirit is a very interesting entry, who loves Cheltenham and the 2m5f trip. He has certainly improved this season, however, he also looks 160 at best. I don't think yesterdays runner-up Ma Filleule will be able to reverse placings with Balder Succes in the Ryanair, even if she improves for the run. Two years ago, I lumped-on CUE CARD in this race and on what I've seen this season, CUE CARD could be the winner again next month. He ran well in the King George on Boxing Day, and was only beaten for stamina as he jumped the 2nd-last with only the eventual winner Silviniaco Conti in front of him. He started the King George with an SP of 11/2, yet we all knew his stamina limitations in that race over that trip. We also know that 2m5f at Cheltenham is perfect for him, and his trainer Tizzard said this week that the horse is flying on the gallops. Current odds of 7/1 (only Boylesports offer NRNB at 6/1) look very generous, and he could run 10lb below his best and still win this race next month.

Advised antepost wager
Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on 12th March 2015
CUE CARD : £5.00 eachway @ 12/1 AND £10.00 to win @ 7/1 
with Paddy Power at quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)

Total = £20 staked

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Balder Succes to prove a point

This weekend represents the final chance for trainers who expect their horses to be in with a realistic chance of success at the Cheltenham Festival next month, to get a run into their horses. It's not impossible but, generally, my stats suggest that horses need a break of at least 21-days prior to "winning" at the Festival.

So then, all eyes will be on today's meetings of which the one at Ascot looks a cracker. There are also meetings a Haydock and Wincanton.

I'm out of touch with novice chase form this season, but the Reynoldstown Novices Chase over 3-mile at 2:05 could prove a wagering opportunity. Paul Nicholls won this race in 2013 with Rocky Creek, and the roll of honour holds a host of good chasers. Today's fav is Virak, but on the formbook suggests that there is not much between him and DEPUTY DAN . When they met in October over 2m4f there was little between them, and over this trip I prefer Deputy Dan, especially at the odds of 100/30 (Bet365, Paddy Power and Stan James).

The "listed" handicap chase over 3-mile at 2:40 could provide a wagering opportunity. Clondaw Knight looked a transformed horse when stepped-up to this sort of trip LTO and even tho' he's been raised 13lbs he is going to be competitive. I'm not sure Carole's Destrier is competitive off a mark of OR142, and I think that the veterans Hey Big Spender and Ballyoliver will give the likely favourite the most to do. The Venetia Williams trained Ballyoliver goes well when racing right-handed and if he can repeat the form of his October win at Carlisle then he'll be tough to beat. With only 6 horses going to post, the 11/1 about Ballyoliver (Ladbrokes and Bet365) looks an eachway wagering opportunity (quarter-odds a place, 1st & 2nd); especially as I was going to make him my selection for Haydock's Grand National Trial race.

The feature race, the Betfair Ascot Chase over 2m5f, looks worthy of the Festival, with a high-class field. At the weights, the obvious fav should be BALDER SUCCES who is top-rated at OR162 and (in my opinion) is about 4lb superior to the 2nd-fav Ptit Zip, who is unbeaten over fences. I don't think they will be troubled by the Irish challenger Ballycasey, who looks outclassed in this. The interesting other runner is Ma Filleule who, if in top form, could benefit from having the 7lb mares allowance. Even so, I'm a form follower, and the best form is that of Balder Succes. Unfortunately for me, I took the 100/30 last night, yet he's 4/1 (Ladbrokes, Bet365 and Betfred) with Ptit Zig at 9/4 and I think those odds are great value as in my opinion he should be the 2/1 fav (I'd have Ptit Zig at 11/4).

At Haydock, The Grand National Trial at 2:55 is the feature race. I remember being here in 2005 when Forest Gunner won, but he was unable to follow-up in the big race at Aintree. I think today's fav Broadway Buffalo will need to find about 7lb of improvement to win this race, and I cannot see him winning what will likely be a gruelling race. The 2nd-fav Monbeg Dude stays all days long, but he's still 6lb over his last winning rating and while I expect him to be placed, I doubt he will win. Benvolio has probably the best recent form in the race, just being headed on the line in the Welsh National. However, he's up 6lb for that and carries top-weight of 11st 10lb, which will prove tough on today's soft ground. I'm going to go out on a limb in this race on a horse who has finally come down to his last winning rating of OR137, and that win was in the Welsh National - MOUNTAINOUS. For a 10yo, he's been very lightly raced and this will be only his 13th chase race. He pulled-up LTO in the Welsh National contested by Benvolio, Monbeg Dude, Benbens and Gas Line Boy, and so he avoided a hard fought race. Today's ground and trip will hold no fears for him, and odds of 20/1 look huge (he was 14/1 for the Welsh National), and he looks great eachway value, especially as trainer Richard Lee has his horses in fine form.

Selections
Ascot 2:50 BALDER SUCCES, £20 win at 4/1 (Bet365, Betfred both go best odds guaranteed)
Haydock 2:55 MOUNTAINOUS, £5 eachway at 20/1 (available generally, BOG quarter-odds 1,2,3)

For those who are interested, I have taken 11/4 about SPRINTER SACRE for the Champion Chase.

Monday, 9 February 2015

This years Gold Cup is starting to hot up - is it the time to bet like a man?

Just two weeks ago, having watched Many Clouds take the "Betbright" Cup Chase at Cheltenham, I wrote that we may have seen the next Gold Cup winner. Now, having watched Coneygree take apart a decent field in the "Denman" Chase at Newbury, we may just have seen another potential winner. This years Gold Cup is starting to look very interesting indeed.

I rated the performance of Coneygree at 166 (Racing Post Ratings have it at 169) and I looked back to my rating of Silviniaco Conti in 2013 when he won the race as a 7yo on soft ground (as it was on Saturday). I gave Conti a rating of 171 that day (RPR rated it 175) and - for true comparison - Conti carried 11st 10lb, whereas Coneygree carried just 11st 5lb. Would another 5lb have slowed Coneygree? Personally, I doubt it and he'd clearly have won anyway last Saturday, maybe even with another 10lb on his back. What you also have to consider is that when Coneygree won the race on Saturday, it was run in a significantly faster time - 11.69 secs to be exact, and on similar ground - than Silviniaco Conti in 2013. Interesting. So, am I right to rate Coneygree on just 166 when - by comparing the race-time - he could have finished 40-lengths in front of Conti?

Before I expand on that thought, let's consider the relative merits of the leading Gold Cup contenders.
Silviniaco Conti - possibly the best, and most consistent, 3-mile chaser we've seen in the past couple of years. Holds an OR174 rating which is possibly a bit rich for me as I have him at 170. He is basically one-paced and that cost him the Gold Cup last season as he led over the last fence, but only by a length. I reckon he needs to be about 5-lengths clear jumping the final fence to win, otherwise he will be vulnerable to a challenger. What he does possess is immense stamina and, with a good pace certain to be guaranteed, he'll be on the premises turning for home.

Road To Riches - the Irish challenger has come from nowhere to emerge as their best hope, according to the betting markets. Sure, he won the Lexus Chase on soft/heavy ground from a high quality field, but the proximity of Sam Winner (trained by Paul Nicholls who also trains Silviniaco Conti) suggests the performance isn't as good as at first glance. His best performance in my opinion was when beating another Paul Nicholls trained horse, Rocky Creek, by 11-lengths at Dromore in November, and I rated that 166. His stylish victory in the Galway Plate over 2m6f in July proves he handles "good" ground, and we know soft/heavy wont inconvenience him. The doubt for me (based on his win in the Galway Plate) is whether he will have the stamina to win a Gold Cup.

Many Clouds - I've already looked at his chances and, for me, if we are to see his best form the word "soft" has to be in the going description. Stamina is not an issue, nor the track. I have him at 165 and there is possibly some more improvement to come.

Carlingford Lough - in winning the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on 8th Feb (yesterday), this horse has thrust himself into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture. You do have to wonder how good that form is tho' as he was well beaten in the Lexus Chase (won by Road To Riches) and he also failed to act at Cheltenham when contesting the novice RSA Chase at the last Festival. For me, I'm not sure if he has the ability to win the Gold Cup, and I have him at 160.

Foxrock - beaten into 2nd behind Carlingford Lough at Leopardstown on 8th Feb, this was an improved performance from the 7yo, and it is likely that there is more improvement to come. The worry is the ground, as he's only a single win from 6 starts on going better than soft, and that was in a novice chase. I rate him 159(P).

Holywell (whom I rate 160+ on a good day) has questions to answer, but has undoubted talent on his day. Much as his supporters would like, Bobs Worth (rated 155+) is also looking a spent force these days. As for last years winner Lord Windermere (who I rated at 161 when winning last year), he should have the race run to suit him again, and there is nothing to suggest he wont be finishing best of all. so long as he's not too far off the pace (he was struggling so much last year, I thought he'd be pulled-up - and then he won the race) he could well end up in the 1st-3, but I can't see him winning.

As for Coneygree, his win on Saturday puts him amongst the best rated in the race. and he's 2nd only to Silviniaco Conti. The worry I'd have about him is that he'd going to be fighting for the lead for much of the race with Road To Riches, and they could well cancel each other out and leave the race open for another strong traveller, such as the race-fav Silviniaco Conti.

It was a blow to have Dynaste pulled-out from the race through injury last week, as I thought he had a great chance of being placed at 25/1. In looking for a replacement, I'm much more tempted to take the 12/1 NRNB about Coneygree than the 8/1 NRNB for Road To Riches, as Coneygree looks to have more stamina. Also, his half-bro' Carruthers won the Hennessey Gold Cup (handicap) at Newbury on "good" ground, so I'm also not as worried over the ground as I am when considering the chances of Many Clouds who looks to need soft.

I'm not tempted by the odds of 3/1 on Silviniaco Conti as I think he'll be longer odds on the day but, if Coneygree goes to post he'll certainly be shorter odds than 12/1, so I'm taking them, as if the ground is "good" he could well be vying for favouritism on the day.

A time to bet like a man?

Advised antepost wager
Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham on 13th March 2015
CONEYGREE : £5.00 eachway @ 12/1 AND £10.00 to win @ 12/1
(with either Bet365 and Betfred who both go NRNB and quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)

Also, Ladbrokes and William Hill go 16/1 without the NRNB guarantee.

Total = £20 staked

No winners on Saturday as main selection Houblon Des Obeaux was beaten by Coneygree, but my wager was the value call as I never expected Coneygree to emerge as a Gold Cup candidate from the race.

I've also learned that Al Ferof is a non-runner at the Cheltenham Festival as he's had surgery to correct a respiratory ailment. So both of my early anteposts have come to nothing - thank goodness for NRNB.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

It's cold out there

This weekend represents one of the final opportunities for trainers with genuine Cheltenham Festival horses to get a run in before the festival itself. My own stats, going back to 2002 (the year after the Festival was lost to foot & mouth disease), calculate that a typical Cheltenham Festival winner comes to the festival off a 36-day break, with its latest run being between Christmas Day and Valentines Day.

There are several meetings this weekend, Newbury being the feature meeting, and there are supporting meetings at Warwick and Uttoxeter. The feature race of the day is the Betfair Hurdle (handicap) over 2-miles & 110 yards at Newbury at 3:35pm and, with 24 runners going to post, it looks like a nightmare for the punter. I'm not going to attempt to find the winner of that race, and I'm looking for easier targets. The past couple of Saturdays, I've advised 3 winners (at odds of 3/1, 4/1 and 6/1) from just 4 selections, so I'm loo king for something similar. For instance, the Grade 2 Denman Chase at 2:25pm has only 6 runners going to post, and I'd be happy putting a line through a couple of those (Taquin Du Seuil and Double Ross). Last year, Harry Topper took this race apart but then he came into the race is good form; not so this year so whether he can recapture that form is debateable. In my book, there is about 10lb between Unioniste and Houblon Des Obeaux -in favour of the latter. Add that to the 4lb weight allowance and Houblon Des Obeaux has a lot in his favour. The "fly" could be the novice chaser Coneygree, but he has to find 15lb and more to win this and while he may do it, odds of 7/2 do not reflect that chance - I'd want more than 6/1. On all known form, and Houblon Des Obeaux ran 2nd in the Hennessey Gold Cup here at Newbury behind Many Clouds, you have to say that HOUBLON DES OBEAXU should be 5/4 to win this race, and not 100/30 with Paddy Power.

All eyes with be on Sire De Grugy to see if the Champion Chaser can come back from injury, and this looks a good opportunity if he's fit to run to his best. Personally, after such a long break due to an injury, I'd doubt he's going to be at his peak. That let's in the others who have had the benefit of a recent run and come here race-fit and in good form; of which (in my opinion) the pick is Mr Mole. I can't be tempted to have a wager on this race as if Sire De Grugy is fit and well, he will easily win this race but, if he isn't, then Mr Mole looks to be the one to take advantage.

As for the Betfair Hurdle at 3:35pm, if I was forced to have a wager, then I could be tempted to have small eachway punts on the John Quinn pair of Forced Family Fun (40/1) and Chieftain's Choice (16/1) who both look like they have been aimed at this race since winning LTO.

The is an interesting race at Warwick at 3:50pm.
It's a handicap chase over 2m4f & 110 yards with just 7 runners, of which the likely fav is the 5yo French import Camping Ground who will be having his UK racing debut. I say likely fav as I'm influenced by the Racing Post betting forecast, but the early odds for the race are all over the place with Camping Ground ranging from 7/2 with Bet365 to 7/1 with Ladbrokes. I can't see LTO winner Five Star Wilsham being successful as he merely outstayed the opposition LTO to win. There is nothing much between Tenor Nivernais and Ackertac on their running LTO at Ascot and I think there wont be much between them in this race either. Ackertac (7/1 at time of writing) has been dropped 2lb so holds a weight advantage, but the soft ground will favour Tenor Nivernais (5/1 at time of writing). Also in the race is Ohio Gold who is very well treated if recovering his form, but his last couple of runs have been poor. Al Alfa is a fav horse of mine, but he's handicapped to the hilt on OR127. That leave WILTON MILAN with whom the 5lb claimer Jack Serwood has formed a great relationship, and he showed LTO that on his rating of OR134 that he's competitve. Sure, he was outclassed LTO by Close Touch, but there is nothing like that in this race. I'm on already at 13/2 as think the bookies have misread this race.

Selections:
Newbury 2:25 Houblon Des Obeaux, £20 win at 100/30 with Paddy Power
Warwick 3:50 Wilton Milan, £10 win at 13/2 with various bookies


 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The formbook is starting to look good

A great result for the blog yesterday with just one selection posted, and it was a winner with BRICK RED holding off the challenge of the runner-up to secure the spoils at an SP of 3/1, although readers of the blog should have been able to avail themselves of the advised early odds of 4/1.

And we very nearly followed-up later in the afternoon, when Theatrical Star - of whom I thought had a great eachway chance - managed to run well enough to be 2nd at an SP of 7/1. Although I didn't advise him as a firm selection, those of you with the bookies money from the success of BRICK RED in your wallet may well have taken the odds eachway.

The race won by BRICK RED was a good result for the formbook, and also was a good lesson in the merits of value punting. On known (recent) form, BRICK RED was the horse holding the best chance of winning at the weights. There were a couple of other horses with recent form - Ballygarvey and Arkaim - who may have raised their game to form a decent challenge; and there were another couple - French Opera and Festive Affair - that had shown decent form last season that put them in with a chance of winning if able to repeat it. That's why I thought that BRICK RED had a 5/2 chance of winning, and anything longer than that was "value". If he'd been available at just 2/1, then I would not have had a wager as those odds would've been too short to represent his chance of winning the race - and he came close to getting beat!

The ground at Sandown - described in the morning as "good-to-soft" - turned out to be heavy in places, and no better than soft. The Cleark of the Course needs a new going stick, if you ask me. Although a winner on heavy ground, BRICK RED's best form has been on soft, and it showed yesterday as he made some jumping errors and looked laboured coming past the "pond" on entering the home straight. As it happened, his closest challenger was the 20/1 outsider My Brother Sylvest who was having his first run since November 2013. He never came into my calculations, having been off the track so long and having shown all his form on much better ground, but he appears to have come back better than ever, and this was a great reappearance run. Let's hope the handicapper isn't cruel on him,