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LOSS for the 2016-17 Jumps Season = £40.87

from wagers on 55 individual races (6 winners, 12 placed)

Total Staked = £609.00


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Beaten by the weather

Not the best of Saturday's for me, with both selections being beaten - unfortunately both races were won by another horse off my alert list and that I'd overlooked.  In both cases, I overlooked the winning horses because of the ground.

At Doncaster, the going description was changed at 11am on Saturday morning (well after I had posted my blog online) after persistent and sustained rain had got into the ground making it very soft. As the overnight forecast suggested good-to-soft ground this meant the 3-mile chase in which my selection Straidnahanna was running in would be very testing and stamina sapping. As the weather made the ground softer, the advantage swung towards another from my alert list, Sego Success who last won when he raced in similar conditions at Warwick over an extended 3-mile in January. As I wrote in yesterdays blog, Sego Success was always going to enjoy ground softer than the forecast, and he relished the mud yesterday, and never looked like being beaten. He skipped away from his only realistic challenger on the run-in to win with plenty in hand. Sego Success looks the sort to do well in the Welsh National run at Chepstow on 27th December especially if the ground is soft, as it likely will be. The only worry I'd have is that race is on 15-days after this winning effort, and it may come a little too soon for him.

As for Straidnahanna, he is unlikely to be re-rated for this run and should remain on his OR131 mark, which - in my opinion - is very lenient. I reckon he's a 140+ horse, maybe 145+ at his peak which we wont see until 2017; so this is one that we will return to another day.  What we've learned is that he's not happy on very soft ground, nor does he like to work hard to get to the front.

At Cheltenham, the withdrawal of Irish Cavalier robbed me of what may have been a profitable wager, but nothing could have beaten the eventual winner Village Vic. As I wrote in the blog, the hints were there with jockey Richard Johnson almost certainly starving himself to make the 10st weight. Before this ride, he'd not ridden under 10st 5lb in the previous 14-days, and most of his rides have been over 10st 12lb - so to make 10st he really had to waste. Village Vic went onto my alert list after winning at Wetherby on 14th October; in fact the 1st-3 in that race went onto my alert list - and Village Vic has now won 4 of his last 5 completed chase races (he pulled-up last April when running over 2-miles at Haydock - no obvious reason why). He is clearly improving or, rather, fulfilling his potential as he ran in the 2012 Champion "Bumper" (won by Champagne Fever) at the  Cheltenham Festival and was highly tried as a hurdler. What I cannot understand is that he's previously struggled on soft (or worse) ground, and Cheltenham was certainly soft ground.  It could be that he had so much in-hand at the weights in the handicap, that was enough to overcome any disadvantage caused by the soft ground. If that's the case then when he races on better ground he could still be well handicapped, even after his re-rating.  Given his recent record, I took a look at the horse that was the last to beat him in a race, and that was Owen Na View who beat him by 11-lengths. He also ran yesterday at Cheltenham, but in the 2-mile handicap chase were he came in 5th at 66/1. He's been up to OR135 (from OR118 when he beat Village Vic) and is now on a rating of OR123 - but he's raced 14 times since they met in March! I'm not quite sure what trainer Fergal O'Brien is up to with this horse, but I reckon a race over an extended 2-miles on "good" ground should see him back in the winners enclosure if running off OR123.

As for my selection in the race Johns Spirit, I thought he'd been given an easy time when beaten when running in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but it seems my impression was incorrect and he's running about 15lbs below his usual level of last season, and about 25lbs below his very best. It could be that trainer Jonjo O'Neill is giving the horse an easy time of is at home, in the hope of getting the horse down the handicap with the intention of a last hurrah at the Cheltenham Festival next March.

I've rated this race through Buywise in 4th who ran his usual race arriving too late on the scene to win, but he is very consistent. On the basis that he ran to 150, I have rated Village Vic at 143 but he has the potential to reach 150 if he stays injury free for the remainder of the season. Champagne West must go onto the alert list as he ran a cracker off such a long break and over a trip possibly half a mile too short for him. This 7yo should have a very productive 18-months ahead of him. As for Buywise, he needs 2m6f+ if he's going to see the winners enclosure.

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