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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.
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Sunday, 30 October 2016
I did think then that our selection was about to be swamped but, no, he stayed-on in game style and held on the 2nd place. Hopefully, you all got on at odds of 18/1 at least (he was 20/1 with a lot of bookies from around 11am till 3pm) but he never looked like a long-shot to me. This trip (perhaps) just found Junction Fourteen out, and he might just be a "Bet Victor" Gold Cup (was the old Paddy Power) horse at Cheltenham on 12th November - if he were entered!
The winner Antony went on my alert list after winning his chase debut at Sandown last December when he looked to hold a lot of potential. Looking back, perhaps I underestimated that effort, but then he pulled-up NTO, found 2-miles too short at Kempton in March, and was 3rd behind Junction Fourteen at Sandown on 23April over 2m4f when he looked to be staying-on. I thought that Junction Fourteen held him on that form, but the step up to 3-mile benefited Antony more than Junction Fourteen and he was a 10lb better horse at this trip yesterday - something which even took his trainer Gary Moore by surprise judging by his reaction afterwards.
My other selection in the race, Tea For Two, sweated-up badly beforehand for his first run since February, and this was (remember) only his 4th chase race and the fastest ground he'd encountered as a chaser. He was bang there with 3 to jump, having jousted for the lead with Junction Fourteen throughout and it was probably a combination of the ground, the weight (he had 11st 12lb) and that it was his first run off a long break that did for him. I had this run about 9lb below his effort (when race-fit) in winning the old "Feltham" novice chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. He beat Southfield Royale that day - who ran 4th as the 5/1 fav for the 4-mile NH Chase at Cheltenham NTO - and Native River - who ran 2nd at 7/1 in the same race at Cheltenham, and then won the Grade 1 novice chase at Aintree ending-up rated OR 154 as a chaser (and I rate him a lot higher than that!). I'd have thought Tea For Two was perfect for the Hennessy Gold Cup to be run on 26th November, but he doesn't appear to be entered (yet).
My overall reading of this race was (in my opinion) just about spot on.
The fav Saphir Du Rheu was a false one, with his form of last season in no-way suggesting he was a handicap "blot". His trainer Paul Nicholls reckoned beforehand that the horse was "fat" and while he may come on for the run, he's never improved for racing before in his career and, judged on his effort yesterday, the handicapper has him about right at OR152 as a chaser. He may be improved should he drop down half-a-mile in trip for the renamed "BetVictor" Gold Cup on 12th November.
The 7yo A Good Skin looked to find the pace of this 3-mile trip too quick, and (as I wrote yesterday) I think he needs another quarter-mile or more. A very safe jumper of a fence, with a good cruising speed and a prominent runner to boot - he has "Grand National winner 2017" written all over him. Another to take out of the race was the 7yo Fourth Act (trained by man of the moment, Colin Tizzard) who was staying-on well in the final mile on his first attempt at a 3-mile trip. He will also appreciate softer ground, and he could be one to follow NTO if the word "soft" is in the going description.
Before I go on, there is no selection today as I looked at the Class 3, 3m2f handicap chase at Carlisle (we had the winner in the race last year, advised at 12/1 Vintage Star won with an SP of 7/2 ) and I cannot see anything winning this race other than Belmount or In The Rough, who are joint-favs at 9/2. Something may come out of the others in the race, for instance Kilbree Chief has potential as a marathon horse (and Carlisle is a stiff track), and the 7yo Askamore Darsi should come on a lot for his recent close 3rd to the 11yo Carrigdhoun; but the market looks about right to me.
The Charlie Hall Chase result was a strange one to decipher.
Irish Cavalier (who eventually won) took-up the lead too early at the 3rd-last fence and was running on empty for the last quarter-mile. He's not a Grade 1, 3-mile chaser and never will be having been well exposed at that grade in last years King George at Kempton (btn 39-lengths) and Cheltenham Gold Cup (btn 22 lengths). As such, to measure the worth of the form, I've looked to runner-up Menorah who at least we know stays 23f to the best of his ability, and has been running at his peak all summer, winning at 2m6f at Sandown in April, and running well over a trip beyond him in June. I've rated Menorah at 160, which puts Irish Cavalier at 157 and Cue Card on 158.
I cannot see either of Irish Cavalier or Menorah winning the Betfair Chase next month, and, unless there was a good excuse, I can't see Cue Card finding the 12lb of improvement from yesterdays run to win it either. I was happy with the performance of my selection VIRAK who gave his usual battling, game performance on ground that was much too quick for him. We will see a much better run on softer ground and Virak is one of a very strong hand of entries for the Hennessy Gold Cup for which he is available at 33/1. Although he was behind Blaklion (16/1 for the Hennessy) yesterday, Virak wasn't pushed hard in the final half-mile and I'm confident that he will turn the tables NTO.
Looking to the Betfair Chase (to be run at Haydock on 19th November), with Cue Card looking dodgy, and Coneygree only running if the rains come (and it will be his first run in 12 months), it may pay to take the odds on one of Willie Mullins horses Djakadam or Vautour at 7/1 and 12/1 with Paddy Power respectively. Should one of them make the trip over, and there is no reason why they shouldn't, I can them being under 3/1 on the day. The Betfair Chase betting market is on the verge of collapse, the Grade 1 staying chasers division has no depth, it is held together by if's and maybe's. When you think there are some who consider that Thistlecrack should go for the Betfair Chase - which would be only his 2nd chase race - that shows you how little depth there is. As such, I can see the canny Irishman Mullins, sending over one, or maybe two, of his stable stars to Haydock for this major prize - and with the £1 million bonus on offer it has to be VAUTOUR.
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Ascot hosts a tremendous meeting and the opening race is a cracker of a novice chase handicap. I have a soft-spot for Paul Nicholls San Benedeto, but this ground will be too quick for him. Another on my alert list is Ballybolley, and he won LTO just 10-days ago and looks well handicapped. With chasing debutant Crimson Ark best watched today, and Master Dee (another LTO winner) possibly wanting further than this 2m3f, Ballybolley @ 4/1 in this 6-runner race may be the best option.
The 2:25pm 2-mile handicap (Listed) chase looks wide-open to me. The market leaders Yorkist and Pearls Legend both look vulnerable and weighted to their best, as such there is no value in their odds. There is only one runner from my alert list in the race, and that is Germany Calling. This horse won LTO over 2m4f but he does have the speed for this trip and will love the ground. His trainer Charlie Longsdon did us a favour last weekend with Coologue, and also sent Pendra to win on this card last year (and we were on). At odds of 10/1 Germany Calling looks an interesting eachway wager (quarter-odds 1,2,3).
I will give the handicap hurdle a miss and move on to the 3:35pm Sodexo (Grade 3) Class 1, 3-mile handicap chase revolves around the early fav Saphir Du Rheu: was his win at Aintree back in April 2015 as good as it looked? If it was, then he's home and hosed; if (as I suspect) it wasn't then his supporters will be in for a rude shock.
Going right-handed at speed in these top handicap chases takes some doing and, if a horse cannot handle the bends, any weakness will soon be exposed. It would seem that after the success of Pendra last year (readers of the blog were on Pendra @ 8/1) trainers have decided that a decent 2m5f horse (like Pendra) is best suited to this sharp 3-mile at Ascot. However, this year there are a couple of "proper" 3-milers in the race who may upset that particular apple cart.
I have several of these runners on my alert list: including Tea For Two, A Good Skin, Antony and Junction Fourteen. The Emma Lavelle trained Junction Fourteen is an interesting horse over this trip as it could expose any stamina limitations. He's won 3 of his 6 chase races, 2 of which were going RH and 2 were on "good" ground including when smashing a decent field at Sandown over 2m4f in April this year. He made-all that day and he goes onto my shortlist - it will take a good one to beat him. He holds Antony in my book, and Antony will find easier targets than this. On Friday eve he was 20/1 - odds which were an insult - and I I expect him to be in the 1st-3 home, his odds are tumbling. I like A Good Skin, he did us proud a few weeks back when 3rd on his seasonal debut, and he always runs a good race. I feel I know him well, and therefore I think he wants just a couple of furlongs more than this trip, which is actually 40 yards short of 3-mile. That said, we know he goes well RH and he enjoys a strong pace, he just hasn't shown any "zip" recently at the business end in his races to win.
I thought Tea For Two was a potential RSA winner when he won at Kempton on Boxing Day (the race formerly known as the "Feltham") which was only his 2nd chase race. He ran again after that when 3rd at Sandown over 2m4f, a trip that was inadequate. He looks unexposed, and possessing huge potential, and I think he's at leave 5lb well-in running off OR153. He does have to carry 11st 12lb and give weight to every other runner in this handicap but if he's a potential Gold Cup winner then he can do it. I think a strong run race will expose the stamina limitations of Voix D'eau who is another from my alert list. I'm expecting Tea For Two to win today and the 5/1 available looks generous for a horse with his potential. However, I also cannot ignore the 18/1 (Stan James) available on Junction Fourteen and I advised those on my email list to take that eachway last night (Corals go 20/1).
At Wetherby we have the feature Class 1 (Grade 2) Charlie Hall Chase over 3-miles. Can Cue Card resume where he left off and win? Maybe he can but, at odds-on of 8/11 he will not be carrying my money. I advised those on my email list on Wednesday to take the 16/1 about VIRAK for this, and he's 11/1 now. Why VIRAK - because at the weights he is the 2nd best in the race behind Cue Card, for instance he is 2lb better than Blaklion on official ratings, and carries 5lb less than him. If Blaklion is a 6/1 chance, surely VIRAK should be shorter odds as he holds a 7lb advantage over Blaklion? The trip will be perfect, as will a strong pace. There is a debate over the ground, but if Nicholls runs the horse then he should cope.
There is also a meeting at Ayr where there is a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m4f at 4:20pm. Throthehatch always held potential to be a 125+chaser once he sorted his jumping out, and he will go well off OR116. However, FINAL ASSAULT looks very well handicapped on the best of his form from this time last year, and the horse loves racing at Ayr. This trip and ground is perfect for him and at 7/1 in this 6-runner race, FINAL ASSAULT should be in the 1st-2. If we are ahead at this stage of the afternoon, I will be having a wager on FINAL ASSAULT.
Very tricky making selections today as I don't want to give readers a hand-full of wagers.
Wetherby 3:20pm, VIRAK, £5 eachway @ 11/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a placed 1,2)
Note: I will measure against the 16/1 I advised taking on Wednesday
Ascot 3:35pm TEA FOR TWO, £5 each way @ 5/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Ascot 3:35pm JUNCTION FOURTEEN, £5 eachway @ 18/1 (Stan James, Bet Victor and Coral)
Total staked £30
Friday, 28 October 2016
It was a tricky race, and the fav duly flopped (almost certainly due to the ground being too quick). It was one of those races that you wanted to tell everyone what to put their money on after they had run a mile of the 3m4f trip. Buachaill Alainn looked an almost certain winner a long way out (when Ready Token blundered away his lead at the 16th of 24 fences) - yet was still available at around 5/1 in-running on the exchanges. He has probably been aimed at this race since the summer by his canny trainer Peter Bowen. Don't read too much into this race though as, I wrote yesterday, there was no depth to this race at all and this form may not be worth much going forward.
More interesting is the mare Indian Stream but whether she will be good enough off her current rating is debateable. She does not have the stamina for 3-miles, and she looked flattered by the margin of victory of her win over 2m5f in June. She will need to run very well to win this giving 16lb to ABRICOT DE L'OASIS.
Thursday, 27 October 2016
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Monday, 24 October 2016
Sunday, 23 October 2016
It is onwards and upwards now, and today we have a Sunday meeting at Aintree with the feature being the "Monets Garden" handicap chase over 2m4f. The fav as I write is the 6yo Three Musketeers @ 3/1. This horse certainly has potential to improve but, in my opinion, he will need to to beat some of these rivals. He was last seen at Cheltenham coming 4th to Black Hercules over 2m4f and I reckon the handicapper has him about right at OR152. God's Own is next in the market, and this C&D winner - and a Grade 1 winner at that - sets a high standard. This trip suits him better than the bare 2-mile, but I believe his OR166 rating is a bit rich. I cannot understand how Vibrato Valtat is rated OR160 after a season of poor efforts, so I cannot see him winning unless he's the only finisher. We all know Sire De Grugy does not stay a yard beyond 2-mile, and Smad Place is surely using this race as a prep for another bid at the Hennessey Gold Cup in a months time. Third Intention is interesting as - if he repeats the form of his seasonal debut of November 2015 when he met Vibrato Valtat, God's Own and Sire De Grugy in the Haldon Chase at Exeter - he will beat them all as he races off at least 10lb better terms (and 16lb better-off with God's Own). And then there is Royal Regatta, and old fav of the blog from last season, if he can run to the level of his Ascot win in Dec15 he will massacre this field. The ground will be the key in my opinion, Royal Regatta will be better on good-to-soft, while "good" ground suits THIRD INTENTION. The 7/1 about this horse, with the others having so many issues, looks too good to ignore. Let's hope he's fit.
Last year I looked at the veterans chase and virtually pointed to the winner without naming it. As with most veterans chases, they are dominated by 10yo's as these horses still retain most of their ability. The current fav is Double Ross but, if you are a long term reader of the blog, you know I do not think this horse is a true 3-mile chaser. He scraped home LTO and, over an extra 330 yards, he looks vulnerable. His best performance last season was when 4th in the 2m4f Paddy Power handicap and I just cannot see him winning. Some horses have stamina doubts such as Eastlake (trying 3-mile for the 1st time) Bearly Legal and Dineur. Some are just slow, like Masters Hill and Baileys Concerto. If you take out those older than 10yo, then you are left with FORGOTTEN GOLD. He won a veterans chase at Ascot last April over 3-mile, and only found one better NTO at Cheltenham over 3m2f off a 7lb higher rating of OR139. He goes well fresh, stays the trip well, handles good ground and, with 2 wins from 5 starts last season, was as good as ever when last seen. I would have him the 5/2 fav, and as he's 7/2 with most bookies he looks a fair wager.
There is a trappy 3m2f handicap chase at Wincanton at 3:30pm with only 4 runners. I do not like these small field races as they can become too tactical. However, the morning fav I'm In Charge may stay the trip but he's not (in my book) an OR120 chaser. When the handicapper put him up 15lb after winning last May (his 13th chase race) it was seriously over the top in my opinion. The mare Miss Serious will also stay this trip well enough, and split a couple of NTO winners when 2nd on 16th September at Newton Abbot. However despite falling earlier this week when racing at Exeter, providing she hasn't lost any confidence she will go close. With Gentleman Jon not looking like he can stay this sort of trip, we move to Cernunos who is on my alert list. When you look at the form of his races last season at Kempton in Feb/March over 2m4f you have to consider him a lot better than OR132. However, since coming 2nd on 19Mar16, he's only run in snatches. Will he stay this 3m2f trip? That's debateable, as the sire is virtually unknown in the UK, and his dam has only produced one other foal, that raced on the flat as did Cernunos. It's too big an ask, even if he is the best horse in the race, and odds of 3/1 are not good enough. Miss Serious seems the most obvious one to go for here.
Aintree 3:50pm THIRD INTENTION, £10 win @ 7/1 (Betfred, Bet Victor, Ladbrokes)
Saturday, 22 October 2016
As I wrote, trainer Paul Nicholls loves to target this meeting and he duly sent 3 winners in El Bandit @ 6/5, Marracudja @ 3/1 (though he only just held-off the fast finishing 9yo Presenting Arms), and Cliffs Of Dover @ 100/30.
In my main assessment of the 3m2f amateur riders handicap chase, I was spot-on about older horses (that is 9yo or older) as 3 of the 1st-4 places - including the winner Troika Steppes - were aged 8yo or younger. Perhaps I should have stuck with my original thoughts and gone for the eventual 2nd placed Azure Fly. But, had my selection Conas Taoi run to form, then I'm sure we would have been on the winner. My main concern before the race was his rider, but Mr Deegan rode very well. It looked like the horse just wasn't fit enough for this as with 3 to jump I felt confident he would be in the 1st-4 but his tank emptied as soon as he hit the rising ground after the turn for home.
Onto today, and the meeting opens with a cracking handicap chase. First, let's look at some of the other races on the Cheltenham card. The novice hurdle at 2:25pm isn't my cup-of-tea, and the same for the Class 2 hurdle at 3:00pm. However, while the fav Adrien Du Port could well end up rated a lot higher than OR147, do not underestimate Wolf Of Windlesham who won at this meeting last year and, if race-fit, will push the fav if that one isn't fully wound-up.
My focus is on the opening race and this 3m1f handicap chase looks wide open with 7-runners priced between 8/1 - 10/1 on oddschecker as I write. There are 4 runners in the race from my alert list: Coologue (possibly best on softer ground), Cogry (more of a marathon horse), Full Shift (looks well handicapped, but the trip may stretch him), and Racing Pulse (well handicapped on his win in January). I like the chance of Henryville as he was an OR152 hurdler over 3-mile, but he's not shown he stays this sort of trip as a chaser. I think Keltus will run well, as he's fit, but I just think he needs to find improvement to win this, and I'm not sure he's a true 3-miler. Bucking The Trend is the sort who could win if it's his day, but will it be?
The two that I keep coming back to are Coologue and Cogry. The 7yo Coologue never seems to run a bad race, and he comes here fresh. He will almost certainly be rated a lot higher than OR140 by the end of this season, and he handles good ground and stays this trip. The 7yo Cogry ran a cracker over 3m3f on his seasonal debut here at the November meeting last year, but he was staying-on and my fear is that he does want a longer trip.
With Charlie Longsdon having his horses fit (he sent out Azure Fly yesterday) the 8/1 looks fair eachway value about Coologue.
Cheltenham 1:50pm COOLOGUE, £5 eachway @ 8/1 generally @ 9@30am went sent out to those on the email list
Friday, 21 October 2016
Thursday, 20 October 2016
Saturday, 15 October 2016
It's not so bad though, as our losing wager yesterday was the first to entirely wipe out the stake. My post-race thoughts were that as my reading of the form envisaged it being just a 2-horse race, perhaps I should have suggested a straight forecast wager on the main danger (Keltus) to beat my selection. That would have paid £11.57 to a £1 stake - and that's food for thought going forward. This, if my regular readers need any reminding, is why I write the narrative and don't just put the time of a race, the name of a horse, and the minimum odds to take. Please read the narrative, consider my opinion, and marry it to your own risk profile.
Onto Saturday, and what a busy day it is with a very entertaining flat meeting at Ascot as the headline act. But we are not interested in overblown flat-racing. Our game is the jumps, and we have 3 meetings to contemplate at Stratford, Market Rasen and Ffos Las.
The 3:15pm at Stratford is a 2m5f handicap chase in which I think there is a lot going for MOUNTAIN KING as he has the best form in the book and has the stamina to stay up to 3-miles. He ran on mainly soft ground last season which did him no favours, and transferring to Gordon Elliot plus racing on "good" ground rewarded him with a win LTO. I think when he's at his best he will be rated 145+ so with just a 3lb adjustment for his latest win he will race off OR136. I fully expected him to be 2/1 this morning but there has been a move for Top Cat Henry and I'm not sure that is justified based on his racing history even though he ran with promise LTO. As such you can get 7/2 about MOUNTAIN KING and I think that is great value. For me, he has more to fear from Mont Royale as Top Cat Henry wasn't finding much LTO and was already being rousted along when he was badly impeded and brought-down at the 2nd-last fence.
The Welsh Champion Hurdle is an interesting race at Ffos Las at 4:10pm as I reckon it is more open than the betting suggests. Welsh Shadow will need to show improvement to win off his current handicap mark, and I'm not sure Garde La Victoire (even though he's on my alert list) will be capable of winning this race as he reverts to hurdling from a decent novice chase season last winter. I do like the look of Tommy Silver, who is very unexposed; and also Henderson's Cardinal Walter who looked a potential top class novice hurdler in 2014-15 but missed the 2015 Cheltenham Festival through injury. If he is fully recovered then he will make a mockery of his 9/1 odds (he's 10/1 with Stan James) but it is a risky proposition as when last seen on the track he was tailed-off.
Just the one wager today,
Stratford 3:15pm MOUNTAIN KING, £15 win @ 7/2 (available generally)
Friday, 14 October 2016
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Monday, 10 October 2016
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Since sending out to those on the email list, the 15/2 has gone and the best odds are 7/1 which still represents value as I reckon the horse is a 5/1 chance.