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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, 25 February 2017

An Eider / Betbright Chase double

A really decent day of horseracing with a terrific card at Kempton, with some top novice hurdle races which will almost certainly have an impact on the markets for the Cheltenham Festival. 

My focus is on Kempton is on the Betbright Chase (handicap) over 3-miles, and this is one of the races we will lose when Kempton closes its doors in a few years time if the BHA have their way.
Looking at the market leaders for this race, I can sense an upset as they all look vulnerable.  The current 5/1 fav Double Shuffle has been raised 7lb to OR149 for his LTO win over C&D, but I feel that could be a bit too much for him. He is in form though, and he does seem to hold his form well, and he stays this trip so his odds are about right. Also on 5/1 is Irish Saint and if he can recapture the form of his novice season (he missed a year through injury) then he is well-ahead of the handicapper on OR146 as I think at his peak he was about 154-156. However, he hasn't looked like running to that level this season. This is a new trip for THREE MUSKETEERS but, when he won over 2m5f LTO, he looked as though a step-up in trip would not trouble him.  He is unexposed, but has a touch of class and looks to be on the upgrade so the current odds of 8/1 look very attractive especially as those at longer odds do not offer much hope of being involved. This is a race that tends to be won by a horse in good form and the only other couple of horses tat hat been running well recently are LTO winner Fingerontheswithch, who has been raised 13lb by the handicapper for that win (which seems very harsh) and Aso who probably will not stay this 3-mile trip as he seems to only just about stay 2m5f.

Newcastle stages the 4-mile Eider Chase and it is likely to be gruelling. You really need a horse that stays these marathon trips well, speed is not in any way required to win this race at Newcastle, just the ability to finish the race. It is therefore no surprise that Shotgun Paddy heads the betting, but I feel he lacks that final edge to win these days and he hasn't won a race since January 2014.  Mysteree goes well at Newcastle and was 4th in this race last year but the horse that stands of for me is KNOCKANRAWLEY who ran a cracker LTO given it was his first run in 14 months.  Even better, the handicapper has dropped him 3lb to OR133 and he is a horse who looks made for this marathon trip.  He jumps well and usually runs up with the pace which I think is always an advantage in these marathon races.  Odds of 11/1 look very attractive and I expect that Kim Bailey has had this race marked in the calendar for a long time. 

The internet has been playing-up here hence the delay in sending out this email.

Selection
Newcastle 2:45pm KNOCKANRAWLEY, £4 eachway @ 11/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4 available generally)
Kempton 3:35pm THREE MUSKETEERS, £4 eachway @ 8/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3 available generally)
ALSO
£2 eachway double
Total = £20 staked

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Top-class racing at Ascot and Haydock

We had a decent winner on Thursday from our only selection, and yesterdays potential selection was a non-runner which possibly explained the disparity of the early morning odds which were spread between 2/1 and 7/2.

Some good racing today and I will start at Ascot where Paul Nicholls could be in for a profitable afternoon. As I wrote yesterday, novice hurdles are not my game but his runner in the opener at Ascot Topofthegame should not be overlooked. The fav is the 8yo Beyond Conceit who is a late starter at hurdling but a welcome addition to the ranks, but this race could prove a tough assignment.

Whatever happens in the opening race, Nicholls should have the winner of the next, the 3-mile Reynoldstown Novice Chase in Arpege D'Alene who looks easily the best horse in this race at this trip, with Fletchers Flyer possibly wanting a longer trip and Bigbadjohn flattered by his run behind Thistlecrack.  Odds of 6/4 leave no room for error, but the stake money should be safe.

The 3-mile Listed handicap chase at 2:25pm is an intriguiging contest with only 7 runners going to post. I'm not confident that either Go Conquer or Chef D'Oeuvre are capable of winning this based on their form as neither look well handicapped. The 10yo O'Faolains Boy hasn't been seen since running in last years Cheltenham Gold Cup when he was outclassed, and Sausalito Sunrise has been running okay but not as well as last season. I wrote earlier in the week that I am looking forward to the run of VIRAK, and I think the horse could find the winners enclosure today.  Ascot was the scene of his last top-class run back in December 2015, and he could be the answer as he's slipped to OR147.  Tenor Nivernais just does not stay this 3-mile trip and Cloudy Too is regressing these days.   Odds of 15/2 about VIRAK look generous to me.

As for the feature race of the day, the only way Cue Card won't be in the winners enclosure is if he does not finish the race. 

At Haydock, the Grand National trial chase over 3m4f looks a tough nut to crack. There are 14-runners and the market is headed by Blaklion who was 3rd at Wetherby LTO with Wakanda in 2nd over 3-mile.  As such, even on 2lb better terms, I cannot see Blaklion beating Wakanda. The 2nd-fav Vieux Lion Rouge will want every yard of this trip, but I'm not sure he's well handicapped on OR146 following his win over the Aintree National fences LTO. This is a tough ask for the novice Vintage Clouds and I remember his half-bro Vintage Star wasn't at his best beyond 3-mile. Kruzhlinin is in the form of his life but, again, I don't think this 10yo is looking for a trip beyond 3-mile.  I reckon the 7lb hike to OR144 has done for Goodtoknow as I cannot see this horse improving again to win off this rating.  Wakanda we know about as he is slowly coming back to form and while not tried beyond 3-mile there is every likelihood he will stay the trip. Vicente has the Grand National as his target and will likely not run to his best today. The Welsh National run took a lot out of Houblond Des Obeaux and he may not yet have recovered from it. One of the remainder could run a big race but, for me, the form horse is WAKANDA.

Selections
Ascot 2:25pm VIRAK - £8 win @ 15/2 (William Hill)
Haydock 3:15pm WAKANDA - £4 eachway @ 10/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3) 

ALSO £2 eachway double (Virak is quarter-odds a place 1st or 2nd)

Friday, 17 February 2017

Military Chase at Sandown

Finally we found a good winner after a run of 2nds.  Crosspark took advantage of a decent opportunity to run-out a solid performance, so let's hope that is a good omen for the next few weeks.

Today at Sandown we have the "military" meeting and there is a good Class 3 chase at 4:15pm over 3-mile there today. The morning fav Twenty Eight Guns looks very capable should the mare stay this 3-mile trip as the form of her win LTO has worked out very well. 
As much as the crowd would love it, I cannot see Pete The Feat repeating his LTO win here over C&D as the 13yo has been raised 8lb by the handicapper.  It would be a real turn-up if the twice raced novice Knight Of Noir took this as he's not looked a natural chaser yet. Private Malone is more interesting as he looked a lot better than his current OR130 rating when racing in 2015-16, but he was absent from the track for 12-months before returning in November and it could be that he strips a lot fitter today in which case he could have a chance - possibly one to look at in the paddock, or wager on in-running.
Will the "real" Cogry turn up today? Running off OR134 he should have a cracking chance in this, if he were guaranteed to finish the race. But he's not completed in 4 chase races this season and didn't even finish a hurdle race LTO.  He looks a tricky character. 
None of the remainder give me the slightest bit of encouragement when you look at their recent form as even LTO winner King Of Glory is up 6lb for winning a Class 4 chase over 2m4f and looks like he will struggle in this.
All-in-all, Twenty Eight Guns could be a winning fav and the early 7/2 offered by Betfred (Ladbrokes are 2/1 and others are 5/2) could be worth taking as the gamble is whether the mare stays the trip. If she does then she almost certainly wins. 

Saturday provides us with 3 quality race-cards at Haydock, Ascot and Wincanton.
Let's take a quick look at the Ascot card, as that has the best quality races of the day.
The opening Class 2 novice hurdle will definitely be a race to watch and note as the previous winners have all proved to be well above average horses not just at hurdles but over fences too. It is a race that Paul Nicholls enjoys targeting and his 5yo Topofthegame is sure to figure amongst the market leaders.
Next up is the Grade 2 (Class 1) Reynoldstown Novices chase over 3-mile and while the winners of this race have usually proven to be decent chasers, it has not been good at providing Cheltenham Festival winners.   Our Kaempher looked revitalised LTO and he could be the key to this race.  However, Nicky Henderson (Laurium) and Paul Nicholls (Arpege D'Alene and Aux Ptits Soins) have won this race 5 times in the last 10 years between them from just 11 runners so anything the send should be noted.
One race on this card that I'm looking forward to is the 3-mile Class 1 (Listed) handicap chase at 2:25pm as this could prove to be very competitive.  I'm particularly interested in where VIRAK runs on Saturday as he's slipped to OR147 (he was rated OR159 this time last year after running 2nd here at Ascot on 19th Dec 15) and I'm hoping that the ground turns good-to-soft here on Saturday as I'm not sure he really enjoys the mud.
It's unlikely that Cue Card will be beaten in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, a race he won in 2013 before going on to winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
At Haydock, the Grand National Trial handicap chase over 3m4f brings together a decent field of staying chasers worthy of the great race itself. It is unusual that a top handicap chase like this has only been won by one horse aged under 8yo in the past 10 years, in fact 4 of the past 5 winners were aged 9yo or older. Top staying chase races seem to take maturity above potential to win. I really cannot see Blaklion reversing LTO form with Wakanda despite being on 2lb better terms, as that was the best run in 12-months for Wakanda and he's likely to improve again as he's not yet run to the level of his efforts in the autumn of 2015.
Of the older horses, Gas Line Boy enjoys running at Haydock and comes into this race in good form, he could run better than his current odds.

No advised wager today.   I would not want to take under 5/2 about Twenty Eight Guns as both Cogry and Private Malone could run better than expected if recovering their form from last season, and both look well handicapped on their best form.  For both, it could be worth waiting to see how they perform over the first mile of the race (and decide if their up to winning it) and wager in-running. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Good midweek racing

We have an important weekend coming up, one of the crossroads of the winter jumps season, as 95% of winners at the Cheltenham Festival next month will have run (and 55% of Cheltenham winners will have won) their final  race between Christmas Day and Monday 20th February.  I usually say the cut-off is Valentines Day as that is more easily remembered, but this weekend with the decent meetings at Haydock. Ascot and Wincanton provides ther final opportunity for trainers to get a preparation run into their horses before allowing them a decent break before the Festival.

I'm particularly interested in the Ascot card as it has some good races planned looking through the entries, especially the 3-mile handicap chase, and there are novice races just about everywhere you look.  

Today at Leicester there is a good Class 3 handicap chase at 3:10pm with only 6 runners (Morning Reggie is a non-runner), and the obvious place to start is with the early fav Mercian Prince who was going well when falling LTO at Cheltenham on "trials" day. Would have gone on to beat Royal Vacation? I doubt it, he probably would have been 2nd, but I'm not sure that effort will be good enough today. Mad Jack Mytton also looks on a tough rating of OR135 judged on his runs to date, and so the one in this races that catches my eye is Crosspark who was going well before falling here at Leicester.  I'm always willing to forgive a fall in a novice chase, and if you look at the run of Crosspark before that when 2nd at Wetherby over 3-mile then he looks very favourably treated. We know he will stay this trip and he has a good cruising speed, so it's very likely that he will be involved in the finish.  Odds of 9/2 in places looks a fair assessment, as I'd have him at about 11/4.

Kelso stages a really good meeting, but the heavy ground has reduced a few races to just 4-runner affairs and they look uncompetitve. The 2m6f handicap hurdle at 3:35pm looks a possible wagering opportunity as these staying hurdles can take some winning, and if you find a horse that stays well in the mud it it always worth sticking with them. As such, top-weight Rowdy Rocher who has won his last two races on soft and heavy ground at Ayr over trips of 3-mile and 2m5f could take some beating. For an 11yo he does not have many miles on the clock and this will only be his 17th race of his career, and he's won 6 of his 16 races.  He has always hinted that he may be better than average and the handicapper has only put him up 2lb for his latest win. There does not look much depth to this field and it may not take much winning.  It is doubtful whether Maxie T has the stamina for this trip on this ground, and it will also be a step into unknown territory stamina-wise for Rhymers Stone who won LTO over 2m4f on soft ground. In the circumstances, odds of 3/1 about Rowdy Rocher look fair.

I'm going to focus on the chase handicap at Leicester for my advised wager, as I think that Crosspark has a strong chance in this race and trainer Caroline Bailey has a good record with her chasers at this track.

Since sending these notes out to those on the email list at 8:00am this morning, the money has come in for Crosspark and (at 11:15am) he is 3/1 generally and 7/2 with only Paddy Power.

Selection
Leicester 3:10pm CROSSPARK, £10 win @ 9/2 (BetVictor, Ladbrokes and Coral)

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Slim pickings for a Saturday

Despite there being 3 jump meetings at  Newbury, Warwick and Uttoxeter, wagering opportunities are thin on the ground.  For instance, the meeting at Newbury has some potentially great chase races but they have all cut up to small noncompetitive field with no value available. Uttoxeter has no races better than class 3 (and I don't advise wagers on races lower than that), while Warwick has a very decent, but tricky, card on offer. 

Looking at the Newbury card, the 3-mile handicap hurdle at 1:50pm could provide an opening as the 5yo Scotchtown has plenty of potential and the drop in trip from 3m2f LTO - when he was beaten by today's fav Tobefair - could be to his advantage. The fav Tobefair has won 6 hurdle races on the bounce going up from OR81 to OR134 today and was racing off OR126 when beating Scotchtown LTO, which shows how valuable it is to latch-on to a decent horse when it is trained by an unfashionable trainer. Scotchtown is rated OR130 for having beaten 4 rivals in a Class 4 maiden hurdle at Ludlow in November, but then he is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. I think there is not much between this pair, and the remainder look well exposed or plain not good enough. Odds of 7/2 about Scotchtown look fair in the circumstance.

The "Denman" chase has been reduced to a 3-runner race and, as such, anything could happen as the jockeys are likely to try and be tactical. Now that we know Bristol De Mai stays 3-mile well, he is the one who is possibly the best in the race.  However, if Bristol De Mai and Native River take each other on then it could be down to which one jumps the best, in which case I'm still with Bristol De Mai.

The "Game Spirit" chase (how many of todays crowd will remember Game Spirit?) has been reduced to just 4 runners and as I do not rate Fox Norton at OR167 (I have him under 160 on my ratings) this should be a formality for Altior, who looks a novice chaser going places.

The 2m7f Novice handicap chase at 4:10pm looks weak for a Class 3 and therefore the fav Vieux Lille at 3/1 looks value to me as he ran well LTO and seems to be going the right way. Lessons In Milan is probably a lot better than OR133 if he gets things his own way but he doesn't have enough speed for this and might well want a marathon trip.

I don't have a handle on 2-mile hurdle form to be able to give an insight into the Betfair Hurdle, but I will be watching closely with Cheltenham in mind.

Warwick provides us with a good novice chase at 2:40pm.  Unfortunately, there is not much to split them on known form and with two of the market leaders aged 9yo and 10yo it is tempting to consider the younger couple of 7yo's in the race, Knockgraffon and Two Taffs. But the odds offer no value, especially on Knockgraffon. 

Paul Nicholls finally seems to have accepted that Vibrato Valtat is not a Grade 1 chaser and sent him for a handicap chase and he may well have found him a winning opportunity.  He will have to be at his best though, as he carries top-weight of 11st 12lb.  He should have the class to win but odds of 6/4 are extremely poor value. 

I'm really struggling to find a wager today as the odds on offer are poor about the horses I consider have a winning chance. I cannot recommend a wager, but I will be watching the odds closely on Scotchtown and Vieux Lille, and hoping for a bit of 4/1 on both.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Another winner gets away

Another winner-less Saturday from the selections, but the blog narrative provided a decent 3/1 winner in Top Notch. This seems to be a recurring theme of late: 3 or 4 races reviewed, 2 selections advised of which one comes 2nd and the other runs unplaced, and the other reviewed race provides a winner.

As such, the blog is treading-water at the moment when, with a bit of luck on our side we could have had one or two decent winners. The ground caught up with Sandy Beach on Saturday at Sandown and when it is bottomless there the 3-mile chases are grueling. Up to 2-miles I thought Sandy Beach was going well enough and would be involved in the finish but, in a matter of strides (just before the railway fences) his stamina emptied out and he was gone. I still think he has a good win in him in a suitable handicap especially on better ground, and the handicapper may even relent and drop him a pound or two.

It was a bit disappointing to see Otago Trail stay on strong to lead from 2-out as we were on him LTO at Haydock when he was 2nd to Bristol De Mai; but that was a hard race at Haydock and although he won on Saturday his odds of 4/1 were not value.  That was demonstrated by how close the 11yo Loose Chips finished to him as, to be fair, Loose Chips had no right to be in the places running off OR139  (a career-high rating for him following a win over C&D in a veterans race in November). With the 3rd Irish Saint and 4th Rock The Kasbah pretty much proven non-stayers at 3-mile, you have to wonder whether the 7/2 fav Beg To Differ would have gone close to winning but for unseating his rider 2-out. This was another good plug for Bristol De Mai and his chance in the Gold Cup.

Earlier in the afternoon, Top Notch was impressive when winning the "Scilly Isles" Chase over 2m4f and I rate this top form for the 6yo Nicky Henderson trained novice chaser.  I like my "Arkle" selection at the Cheltenham Festival to have winning form over 2m4f, and we know Top Notch was a very good - near top-class - 2-mile hurdler, and he ticks a lot of boxes.  Bet365 go 10/1 for the Arkle about Top Notch, while Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Corals go 16/1.  That's because the market considers him more likely to go for the 2m4f JLT Novices Chase at the Festival instead, and Top Notch is priced at 7/1 generally for that race.  I know he wasn't an advised selection, but I do hope readers of the blog latched-onto my confidence about Top Notch and took the 3/1 available in the morning.

Up at Musselburgh, my of other selection of the day Gonalston Cloud again ran a terrific performance without managing to get his head in front at the line. I thought I read this race well as Azure Fly ran well but was again exposed by his lack of a finish and so plodded on to be 3rd.  From the formlines, it was difficult to know if the eventual winner Dancing Shadow would stay this marathon 4-mile trip, as he was essentially a 2m4f hurdler (he did run over 3m2f over hurdles in July 2016 when his trainer was trying to end his long losing run - but he was struggling throughout) and has never suggested this sort of trip would suit, but it did on Saturday.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Top Notch racing at Sandown

A decent day of racing with meetings at Sandown, Musselburgh and Wetherby, and some good chase handicaps.

The Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown looks very competitive.  However, I think the fact that Paul Nicholls enters both Clan Des Obeaux and Le Prezien suggests that he is not sure of either winning, and so in my eye the focus is on TOP NOTCH who I think is a top notch novice chaser and if you can get some of the 3/1 then that looks value.

The rain is likely to make Sandown very soft and it could be a bit grueling in the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase at 3:35pm.  The early fav is Beg To Differ who ran his best race in 12 months when 4th in the Welsh National at Christmas time, and his last win (and last piece of decent form) was when winning here over this 3-mile trip on soft ground beating the decent yardstick Loose Chips in the process. He beat Loose Chips easily that day yet meets him on 1lb better terms in this race. I just feel he may need further than this 3-mile. Next in the market is Otago Trail who we wagered on 2-weeks ago and who was a brave 2nd to Bristol De Mai at Haydock. and while he will love this ground that Haydock race was a tough one.  Rock The Kasbah does not look a 3-mile chaser, and Antony was going well LTO (after winning well over this trip at Ascot in October) but went wrong and has questions to answer on his first race since November. He could be worth watching in-running. Irish Saint does not look a 3-mile chaser as he's failed at the trip in the past. Both Loose Chips and Turban are outclassed and that leaves the one that stands out, to me, in this race - SANDY BEACH  We were on him LTO and possibly he didn't run as well as expected but was still a good 3rd.  At 10/1 he looks the value in this race. Well worth a £5 eachway wager is SANDY BEACH.

The 4-mile chase at Musselburgh looks like providing a possible wager as the 6/1 fav Alvarado is at about his level at OR135 and I just cannot see him improving on his run at Cheltenham last October. The 2nd-fav Five In A Row just doesn't strike me as a marathon horse although he should be able to plod on to a place. As such, with the front 2 in the market opposable, there looks to be value in the others.  Just A Par should go well but the burden of 11st12lb may prove too much and I think his target is Aintree. Dancing Shadow lost his maiden tag LTO and while he should go well, it all fell right for him then. There are two in the race who should go close: Gonalston Cloud and Azure Fly. We were on Gonalston Cloud LTO and he only just failed to catch the winner staying on strong. He's gone up 3lbs to OR133, but I feel this 10yo could be better than that and we know he stays all day long.  Azure Fly is on a losing run of 11,  but he stays well and jumps well and just lacks a change of gear to win races. Odds of 7/1 about Gonalston Cloud look fair as I'd have him the fav for this race based on his run LTO at about 4/1.

Selections
Musselburgh 2:05pm Gonalston Cloud - £5 eachway @ 7/1 (available generally)
Sandown 3:35pm Sandy Beach - £5 eachway @ 10/1 (available generally)

Selections