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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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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Blog readers on BLACK CORTON at 8/1

Quite a busy weekend of racing ahead of us with some terrific jump racing at Ascot and Wetherby today, and the Breeders Cup in America.
Unfortunately, the Good (good-to-firm in places) ground at Wetherby has meant there's a lot of non-runners today and the betting markets will likely be very fluid all day.  There in an interesting Class 3 handicap chase at 1:30pm with just 6 runners now and it may be worth taking a chance on the bottom-weight Absolutely Dylan who made all on his recent chasing debut and could do nothing more than win easily against very poor opposition. However, we do know he jumps well, and he likes to lead, also he's fit to race and there's every likelihood he will improve for that run. Current odds of 11/4 look worthy of a wager, as he could easily be a 140+ chaser in the making as there appears nothing at all special in this race.

The big disappointment of the day is the feature race at Wetherby, the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, which now has only 4 runners.  Regular readers of the blog will have taken my advice on Tuesday evening when I put my blog online and taken the odds of 8/1 about BLACK CORTON.  Right now he's the race fav at  just 13/8, and it is difficult to see the horse losing this afternoon with just 3 rivals .  I know several of you went in at 8/1 and we are now looking very smug. 

Racing at Ascot is a lot more competitive as the ground there is perfect - Good. The novice handicap chase at 1:50pm looks interesting as I'm a big fan of STERNRUBIN and if he can get to the level he was at over hurdles - he loves Ascot and won the Ladbroke (handicap) hurdle off OR134 and the William Hill (Listed) handicap hurdle off OR142 -  then you have to think his current chase rating of OR137 is very lenient and odds of 9/2 could be generous.
In the feature race at Ascot at 3:35pm, a Grade 3 handicap chase over 3-mile, I do not think the odds of 7/2 about last years winner Go Conquer are very generous as his form tailed-off last season. He's 9yo now and I think his best days are behind him, but not so the top-weight TRAFFIC FLUID who was very highly tried last season and saw his handicap mark drop from OR156 to OR140 which allowed him to win a Grade 2 handicap chaseat Cheltenham in April. He ran well recently in his seasonal debut running 2nd at Chepstow, and I can see him going really well off OR149. Odds of 5/1 are not great though but when you look at the opposition you realise he might well start less than that.

Not a day for having big money on, and I think I will sit on my wager at 8/1 on BLACK CORTON and watch the rest of the day with interest.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Thursday 1st November 2018

November is one of the most exciting months in jump racing. 
Last seasons favourites take to the course and attempt to repeat past glories; novice chasers intent on a festival prize in the 2019 take their first (hopefully not tentative) jumps in public; and "store" horses emerge with reputations to build in novice hurdles.  It's also a great time for 2nd-season chasers, and pundits like me hope to find those horses that have escaped the focus of the handicapper and start the season on a lenient rating.
There are a couple of meetings today at Stratford and Sedgefield, but the small fields do not offer much opportunity for value. The 3m3f handicap hurdle run at Sedgefield at 3:30pm will be a stamina-sapping test for the 5 runners even on the "good" ground, but one that catches the eye is WESTERN SUNRISE who stays this trip, has been running well recently, and comes here for this instead of running at Uttoxeter tomorrow (where he also holds an entry).  With neither Nemean Lion and Tickenwolf having recent form that suggests they might win, the race looks between Western Sunrise, More Than Luck and Same Circus and they are all at odds of around 3/1.  I'm discounting Same Circus as he does not appear to run well off a break and it's 150-days since his last run. More Than Luck has been running well in chase races recently, but he was not much of a hurdler and he may lack that bit of speed at the business end to win the race. For me, WESTERN SUNRISE represents the best chance of winning and current odds of 11/4 might not be bettered, as I can see him starting the 9/4 fav, he may even go off at 2/1.
At Stratford, there is an interesting 2m3f Class 3 handicap chase which last year was won by the decent, but ill-fated, chaser Starchitect.  There appears to be nothing of that quality in today's field, but you never know. 
For me, the most likely winner is the 6yo Comanche Chieftain who has won here at Stratford several times. He didn't stay the 3-mile trip at Fakenham LTO, but his ability carried him through the race and today's trip will suit him much better. The current race fav Cobra De Mai also found the 3-mile trip too much to handle when he tackled it at Chepstow LTO, but his overall performance was not as promising as COMANCHE CHIEFTAIN, and odds of 100/30 look fair although I would prefer odds of 4/1 or longer as this could be a competitive race.
I cannot advise a wager but, if you are, keep stakes small as these are early days in the jumps season, and we have a great weekend of racing ahead of us with plenty of wagering opportunities.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Big weekend coming up

My couple of selections ran fairly well without winning on Saturday, the best of the pair being CALETT MAD who was the subject of a bit of a gamble from 10/1 in to 7/1 co-fav and looked (in my opinion) like being involved in the finish on the approach to the 3rd-last but was unable to keep up with the leading pair on the rising ground on the run to the 2nd last.  He did stay on to be 4th which meant my advised wager on him returned a profit.
I'm not sure what to make of the winner, Relentless Dreamer, as this was the 9yo's 24th chase race and he had never won off as high a rating as OR134 before (previous wins were off OR132 and OR128). However, he is a consistent performer on "good" ground around this 3-mile trip (does not really stay beyond 3m2f well enough to win races).  The runner-up Cogry ran a cracker, right up to last years winning performance, but (going forward) his best performances have also been on "good" ground and so a soft/heavy ground winter season may not be to his advantage: Also, he's not won over trips beyond 3m2f despite many attempts.
My other selection Bigmatre, ran below expectation and perhaps needed the run when you consider the performance of the runner-up Duke Of Arran - on a line through that horse he should really have been in the frame. 
On Sunday at Aintree, I missed recommending a good winner in Frodon, who had very little to beat if you thought Flying Angel was unlikely to return to the form of his novice season.  It seems a long time ago now since he powered past Cloudy Dream at Aintree in April 2017 - with Frodon back in 5th and non-other than Top Notch in 3rd. The race fav was Cloudy Dream and although this horse is (to his credit) a model of consistency, he is no better than OR150 at best - you have to remember the horse has not won since April 2017 at Ayr.  By comparison, Frodon ran over 10lb superior (in my opinion) to Cloudy Dream twice last season and ran better than 150 on another 3 occassions. With Frodon recieving 2lb on Sunday from Cloudy Dream, so long as he was fit enough he was more than good enough - I just wish I'd taken the early 7/1 that was available, but the SP of 9/2 was very generous.
We have the Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday at Wetherby, and the current fav is Thistlecrack at 7/4. This horse will have to be at his peak to win and - must as I'd love it to happen - I can't see this 10yo pulling a career-best out of the bag in his first run in nearly 11 months. Last year I tipped Bristol De Mai for this, but he ran without a 6lb penalty and on soft ground. He is not the same horse on good ground but I'm sure he will run well. Clan Des Obeaux just isn't good enough based on his form last season, unless he's found about 10lb of improvement over the summer. However, Nicholls other entry BLACK CORTON is capable of winning based on his defeat of Ms Parfois by 8-lengths at Ascot in February, and he was giving that mare 7lb. Definitly Red is another horse that needs mud, and if we have mud I'd rather be on Bristol De Mai.  Double Shuffle is another who just isn't good enough to win this, unless better quality rivals don't finish the race.
Of the Gordon Elliot entries, Outlander appears to have been aimed at this race and he will go close.  But the one who could take a lot of beating if he is able to come to the races fit to run is DON POLI who will be returning from a 629-day break.
At this time, BLACK CORTON on 8/1 with Paddy Power looks the best value. He should handle the ground and providing he is not run ragged from the front, and Bryony Frost knows what she is doing in the saddle, then this horse has a great chance. I expect Thistlecrack not to last home (as happened at Kempton LTO), and I think Bristol De Mai will not "quicken" in the final half-mile on the "good" ground. OUTLANDER at 20/1 with Paddy Power could be a cracking wager for a place, but I'm not sure any of the Elliot horses will come over for the race.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Cheltenham - Saturday 27th October

The first big Saturday of the jumps season sees racing return to Cheltenham, and we also have a supporting jumps meeting at Kelso.  The ground looks perfect at Cheltenham and we should be set for a great day’s racing. The plan this jumps season is to follow the lead set last year writing a blog at the weekends and focusing mainly on the major Saturday races.  This paid-off well last season, and I found some decent winners. Already this season I’ve provided profitable wagers, for instance yesterday my narrative on the blog only highlighted one race, the 20-runner 2m 5f handicap hurdle run at Cheltenham and my shortlist of 2 against the field were FIRST ASSIGNMENT who won at 9/2 (was 8/1 when the blog went online) and CHRISTMAS IN APRIL who was 3rd at 7/1 (was 10/1 when the blog went online).  So, if you find the advice I provide to be useful and profitable, please use the donate button and “spread the wealth”.  
The action gets off to a bang with a 3m1f Class 2 handicap chase at 2:10pm and a good place to start is last year’s winner Cogry who returns to run off a rating just 2lb higher at OR135. With Sam Twiston-Davies back in the saddle there is no reason the horse cannot run a similar – or better – performance than last year.  The 8yo Laurium showed LTO that he should not be underestimated but whether he can repeat that effort off a 7lb higher rating is debateable. A better show may come from Shantou Village who was a decent novice chaser and comes here having had a busy summer. There’s no reason he won’t stay this trip on this ground (the soft beat him LTO). 
Another interesting runner is Calett Mad (stablemate of Cogry) who looked a top novice chaser but then reverted to hurdling last season. He was the fav for the 2m5f Class 1 “Summer Plate” h’cap chase LTO but that trip was too short for this multiple 3-mile hurdle winner. He looks well handicapped on OR142. 
At the bottom of the handicap, For Good Measure carries just 10st 1lb but he looks a tad one-paced for me. He should improve for the step-up in trip to 3-mile but this is only his 3rd chase race and there will be no hiding place for him. 
Finally, if the wind operation works for Braqueur D’Or then he could be on a lenient rating of OR135 as he ran a couple of decent races this time last year at Ascot and Newbury. However, all things considered, I’m favouring CALETT MAD @ 10/1 especially as Daryl Jacob rides and he has a 30% strike-rate when riding for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Some bookies are paying 5 places to a 5th odds a place.

At 3:10pm we have a disappointing turn-out for the 2-mile Class 2 handicap chase with just 7 runners going to post – but the race does look competitive. I don’t like either of the Paul Nicholls entries: Modus and Tommy Silver.  Of the pair, Modus is (in my opinion) the better horse over hurdles but he still has to prove himself as a chaser at this level.  I like the look of BIGMATRE who won 3 of 5 chase races last season so we know he jumps well. He finished ahead of Modus when they met at Cheltenham and some may consider him to be badly handicapped on that run as Modus was rated a 5lb better horse going into that race, and Modus was given an easy time when he was beat. However, I think this trip will suit BIGMATRE well and Modus does not look a natural chaser, he certainly didn’t at Cheltenham in March. Odds of 7/2 this morning (he was 3/1 last night) look fair and it would not surprise me if BIGMATRE started at shorter than 5/2.

Selections
Cheltenham 2:00pm CALETT MAD - £5 eachway @ 10/1 (Bet365 quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4)
Cheltenham 3:10pm BIGMATRE - £10 win @ 7/2 (Bet365, BetVictor, etc)

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Weekend review: 26th October - 28th October

An exciting weekend of jump racing lies ahead, with the opening meetings of the season from premier tracks Cheltenham (Friday and Saturday) and Aintree (Sunday), as well as supporting meetings at Kelso (Saturday) and Wincanton (Sunday). Let me remind you that there is no hurry to get involved with a wager - there is plenty of racing so pick and choose your wagers, and, with that in mind, the educated punter holds the advantage.
Time constraints prevented me from posting a blog last Saturday, but the suggested wager which I posted on twitter and on this blog, very nearly came off. It was an eachway double on CORONET at Ascot, and LE PREZIEN at Ffos Las and both horses came home in 2nd placed which meant the place double was successful. If you had placed a £5 eachway double (£10 staked) you would have left the bookies with over £28 in your hand. When considering an eachway double both of your selections must have a realistic chance of winning. I really thought that CORONET was the strongest horse in her race and she ran bang to form; I rate her a solid OR110 horse, very consistent, and that's what I reckon she ran on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Aidan O'Brien trained Magician managed to transfer her form over a mile to the 12-furlong trip and that was something I did not anticipate.
LE PREZIEN is another consistent performer, and although seen over fences last season, he has improved in stature and I thought he was on a lenient rating for hurdles, but he met a well-handicapped rival in the 5yo Silver Streak.
Back to racing on Friday, and the meeting at Cheltenham offers few wagering opportunities unless you fancy taking a chance on the several novice races on the card. The 20-runners handicap hurdle over 2m5f looks particularly tough to solve. What's interesting is that only one winner in the past 10 years was older than 6yo; all the other 9 winners were 5yo or 6yo.  Also, the market has been a good guide, with no winner at odds longer than 12/1. Currently, only the 5yo First Assignment @ 8/1 and the 6yo Christmas In April @ 10/1 fit those criteria, and the unexposed FIRST ASSIGNMENT looks an interesting runner.   
The amateur riders handicap chase at 4:55pm run over 3m1f is a race that I usually have a wager in, but this years race looks wide open.  There will be other days to have a wager.
Keep your powder dry.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Saturday 20th October

No time to write a blog this morning but two horses that look primed to run well and are good value are LE PREZIEN in Ffos Las 4:25 (6/1 with Paddy Power) and CORONET Ascot 2:40 (13/2 with Bet365) #horseracing ew double

Friday, 19 October 2018

MIA'S STORM wins at 4/1

Cracking result for the blog yesterday when MIA'S STORM romped home an easy 4-length winner of a 6-runner race at the remarkably generous odds of 4/1.  As I wrote yesterday, I fully expected to see MIA'S STORM exploit her OR142 hurdle rating, as she'd already won a 3-mile hurdle race plus another couple of chases since then over 3-miles and, having been rated OR149 after her latest chase win, she had to be well-in. The only realistic opposition was the fav Boreham Bill who looked to be in the handicappers grip (this was his 4th run off OR130 since winning off OR126) and it was his first race further than 2m6f, so would he stay the trip? There was a bit of a move in the betting for Coologue as he was running from OR120,  but that low rating was due to him pulling-up on all 4 starts last season, so was he still interested in racing? As it turned out, only just - he finished last of the 6 runners. The other 3 in the race were outclassed. I really could not see MIA'S STORM not winning (provided she finished the race) and advised being quick to take the early 5/2 as I expected MIA'S STORM to start at much shorter odds than that - the SP of 4/1 was a gift.

The other race at Carlisle that I looked at also came good as the horse I had my eye on - COOKING FAT - ran a very solid race nearly snatching 2nd on the line from the 3/1 fav and only finishing a length behind the winner Looksnowtlikebrian.  I will be honest, I overlooked the winner mainly as trainer Tim Vaughan had a poor season last year with only 27 wins from 344 runners; but this season he is doing a lot better especially with his chasers and Looksnowtlikebrian was his 8th chase winner from 48 runners. Also, Looksnowtlikebrian won well over 2m5f on heavy at Ffos Las last December, and followed that up with another facile win before making lots of errors when last seen at Kelso in April. If you ignored that last run, he held a good chance off OR125 and he's now won 3 of his 5 chase races.  We will see more from COOKING FAT next time.

There are two jumps meetings today, at Fakenham and Wincanton.  
The racing at Fakenham does not offer a wagering opportunity and I'm not too happy about the Good-to-Firm ground at Wincanton.  
If the ground were softer, then I would be all over CAPTAIN BUCK'S in the 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at 2:55pm, but on this fast ground I have no idea if he will run his race, or even start. The 6yo LTO winner Canyouringmeback is clearly in-form and could make a bold run but - if pushed - I'd be more interested in the 10yo SPORTING BOY who loves this ground, always seems at his best at this time of year, and if he can find a bit of the form he showed this time last year he will be thereabouts. Unfortunately, some other shrewdies have had the same thought and the early 20/1 has long gone, with best odds now being 10/1. 

As such, no wagers today.

Remember, when you read this blog is it a BOOKIES ADVERT FREE ZONE - I make money from the bookies, I do not make money taking a 30% of your losses from losing wagers that I recommend.
This blog is free, and remains free, because I love horseracing and bet with passion.
If I recommend a wager you know that I have my money on too, and it will likely be a fair bit more than the wager that I recommend (because, in my opinion, you do not have to bet big to get enjoyment).
Finally, yes the blog is free, and I know many people make good profits following my advice, so if you want to share your good fortune press the donate button and drop me a few quid from your winnings.
All the best from Wayward Lad.    

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Thursday 18th October

This Thursday in October is a special one for me as way back in 2009 before I started blogging (that was in March 2010), this was the day when I went back to horseracing in a bigger way than I had before.  Back then there were meetings at Carlisle (as there is today) and Ludlow.
Today we have jumps meetings at Carlisle and Uttoxeter. 
At Carlisle there is a fairly competitive looking novice chase run over 2-mile at 2:10pm; a Class 3 event it should have plenty of pointers for the coming season. Of interest is the runner sent by Venetia Williams, only her 2nd runner of the season so far, Du Soleil - this horse has multiple entries and may well run again this weekend. What is interesting is that both times he's run on ground better than heavy, he's won - and the ground is good-to-soft at Carlisle.
Later on the card at 3:45pm there is a Class 3 handicap chase run over an extended 3-mile with 11-runners declared, including yesterday's winner ACDC.  Many years ago I subscribed to the statistical service SMARTSIG (don't ask me what it stands for) and one of the nuggets of information I obtained from that service was the high probability of winners from horses that turned our to run again within 5-days of a previous run, and the better the first run the more likely of a winning performance on the 2nd run. If ACDC runs this afternoon, I will be surprised if he does not start the fav at 4/1 or under, which makes him a value proposition at current odds of 11/2.  With Tintern Theatre usually needing a run to show his best, and Sky Pirate not convincing me he stays this trip well enough, a bigger challenge could come from the 7yo Cooking Fat who does stay this trip and looks to be on an attractive rating of OR127 which is 5lb below his hurdle rating.

At Uttoxeter, there is a very interesting Class 3 novice handicap chase at 3:25pm run over 2m6f & 110 yards, and it looks near impossible to make a selection, however the race should provide a wealth of notes for the notebook. The next race on the card looks a better wagering opportunity, as this 2m7f handicap hurdle should see MIA'S STORM exploiting her OR142 hurdle rating. With Boreham Bill looking to be in the handicappers grip, of the others only Coologue has the potential to make a race of it running from OR120 due to pulling-up on all 4 starts last season which he started on OR140.  We know the horse stays 3-mile (and more) and he likes to front-run, but is he still interested in racing? We won't find that out til the race starts.

No recommended wagers today, but I'm expecting another win from ACDC if he runs at Carlisle, and I really cannot see MIA'S STORM not winning at Uttoxeter, but if you are going to get a decent price on your wager you have to be quick as all the bookies go 5/2 or shorter except Bet365 who are 3/1.

We nearly had a winning start to the season last Saturday when LOVELY JOB jumped the last looking like the potential winner, but faded on the run-in and probably need the run; we will recoup that wager NTO I'm sure of it.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Chepstow - Jump racing is back!

We've had the Arc de Triomphe, and while most of the "glitterati" of the horseracing world will be focused on Newmarket and the running of the Dewhurst Stakes for 2yo’s run over 7-furlongs, the attention for jump racing fans will be on Chepstow and a meeting seen as the “opening night” of the new jump racing season.
Despite there being a major rainstorm over South Wales, Chepstow seems to have escaped the worst of the weather and the course has said the ground is "good, good-to-soft in places" even though they had 21mm of rain yesterday! 
There is a top-class novices chase at 3:35pm and long term followers of the blog will remember I tipped-up a winning double on this day in 2015, including the winner of this race. As it happens, that winner – Cocktails At Dawn trained by Nicky Henderson – was the oldest winner of this race in the past 10 years at 7yo; all the other winners were either 5yo or 6yo. Henderson sends the 8yo Monbeg Legend for this and (like Cocktails At Dawn) he’s already run in an won novice chases this season. He looked particularly impressive LTO when winning over 2m6½f at Stratford in September when making-all to beat some seasoned handicappers, and the worry is that this trip could be too short for him. However, he is the only one of this small field of 5 runners that has jumped a fence on-course, and we know he can jump at speed, so MONBEG LEGEND really is the one they have to beat as he’s likely to set a good pace from the front and he will not be stopping. The one in the race that most will be watching is Master Tommytucker sent by Paul Nicholls, of whom great things are expected - let's see if he can jump a fence. A winner on this card over hurdles last season, Poetic Rhythm could well upset the apple cart but, for me, my money is on Monbeg Legend, and there is plenty of 9/4 available as I write.
 
Later on the card at 5:20pm, there is an attractive Class 2 handicap Chase over just under 3-mile. The top-weight is Coo Star Sivola but he will have to have improved a bit from where he left off last season if he’s to take this race from OR150.
The lightly-raced Step Back absolutely ran away with the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last April, and this horse really could be a serious contender for top honours if his improvement is continued this season, however it is likely this trip is a touch too short for him.
Another lightly-raced young chaser is Thomas Patrick who made-all to take a Grade 3 handicap chase at Aintree in April, leaving some decent chasers in his wake. He is the 5/1 2nd-fav for this and the 6yo could be very well-in running off a rating of OR148. 
Traffic Fluide has never looked a 3-mile chaser in my opinion, and he may have been flattered when winning LTO over 2m5f.
Rock The Kasbah won this race last season, so we know he goes well fresh and he’s now won twice at this meeting. He’s also weighted to be able to reverse form with Step Back on Bet365 Gold Cup form, and this trip will suit him better than the 3m5f of that race. However, he is very short in the betting being the 9/4 fav, and personally I would not make him the fav for this (I think it should be Thomas Patrick).
Brave Eagle is another young 6yo novice chaser who has won both his chase starts this summer, but this race is throwing him in the deep end.  
Captain Chaos usually needs a run to get to peak fitness, and Cobra De Mai is another who may find this trip stretching his stamina, as is Silverhow.  This race will likely be run at a strong pace and you need one to be "in the van" and staying the trip. 
Bigbadjohn, Our Kaempher and The Young Master have all had plenty of chances however, at 9yo, they are going to find the young guns hard to control.
Lovely Job is an interesting contender, has he only ran 3 times between 1st-Oct and 30thApril last season, and he’s improved with every run; he likes to front-run and stays this trip, he could be a dark-horse at 18/1.
As it stands, the ones I’m interested in are Rock The Kasbah, Lovely Job, and Thomas Patrick; and, for me the best value in the race is THOMAS PATRICK @ 5/1.
For a bit of fun in the race, I would not put you off having an eachway wager on LOVELY JOB at 18/1 (with Bet365 and Paddy Power) and - if you are quick - there's 20/1 at William Hill, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3.
Good Luck!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Enable joins the greats

ENABLE joined the greats of horseracing when winning the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe for the 2nd time on Sunday, but it was a close run thing.  As the 3yo filly See Of Class bore down in the final furlong, reducing the deficit with every stride, the “slow-motion” replay that focused on the leading pair close to the finish showed ENABLE blink just before they crossed the line – it was that close -  or was it?
Last Wednesday, I went through the runners for the race and, in my opinion based on known form and my own personal ratings, there did not seem to be much chance of any other horse in the race winning other than ENABLE, such was her superiority. There was so much between her and the others, which looked (on the whole) a poor opposition based on usual "Arc" fields, that I thought Cloth Of Stars (who chased home Enable last year) had a good chance of filling the same spot again - and on Wednesday the odds about Cloth Of Stars were 50/1.
There were a couple of elements which were not in Enable's favour, for instance (given the time between her previous 2 runs of 11 months) she could have “bounced” and the final result suggests that she did indeed run a long way below her 2017 winning performance. Also, the ground look particularly stamina sapping despite being described as officially “good”. Jockeys and trainers described the ground as good-to-soft, soft, and “loose-on-top”. Certainly, despite being in a clear lead entering the final furlong, ENABLE appeared to only just hold on to that lead as her energy slipped away.
However, in ENABLE’s favour was her undoubted brilliance, based on her winning 2017 performance. 

My personal ratings of the last 10 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe winners.
Year & winner                            RPR Rating                 My rating
2018 Enable                                        122                              112
2017 Enable                                        129                              127
2016 Found                                         124                              120
2015 Golden Horn                              127                              130
2014 Treve                                          126                              131
2013 Treve                                          131                              132
2012 Solemnia                                    124                              120
2011 Danedream                                128                              129
2010 Workforce                                  130                              127
2009 Sea The Stars                            132                              130     

Sea The Stars is the Racing Post’s (RPR) highest rated recent winner of the race on 132, whereas my rating of that race awarded Sea The Stars only 130 (which puts his winning performance behind both winning efforts of Treve in 2013 & 14, and on a par with Golden Horn in 2015).  The reason for my 130 rating is that I rate the performance, not the “race”, and nor do I make an allowance for potential.

I reckon the RPR awarded to Sea The Stars added a bit extra for "potential"; whereas I rate the performance 130, but Sea The Stars could potentially be 5lb or over 7lb better than that - but we will never know.  Treve, who won the race in 2013 with a superlative performance by 5-lengths and from a poor draw of 15 of the 17 runners, did not really look capable of posting a better performance than that, and never did even when winning for a 2nd time in 2014. 
My rating of Sea The Stars was based on the ability of consistent yardstick Youmzain in 2nd as that horse was also 2nd the previous year to Zarkava.  However, why I believe that Sea The Stars to be the best recent winner the manner of his win – he barely seem to be stretched, and watching the race again reminds me of the win of Sea Bird in 1965 – and suggests that he could have easily added 4 or 5 lengths to the margin of victory had he been asked for more effort.
Much has been made of the performance of the 2nd placed SEA OF CLASS as she was dropped-out to the rear of the field (as that seemed the best tactic from a draw of 15 of the 19 runners).  Personally, as I wrote on the Wednesday before the race, I did not think that the filly was on such a serious upward curve as portrayed by the Racing Post Ratings.  Certainly, she is superior to her 3yo rivals having won the Irish Oaks in a canter, but (in my opinion) she has not found further improvement since then, hence my remark that she needed to find another 10lb to trouble Enable.

So how did Sea Of Class get so close? My opinion, which I voiced on the Wednesday before the race, was that the field was substandard. I had Capri running to the same rating as he did in 2017 when 17th of 18 and over 12-lengths behind Enable. I had the 4yo Salouen, who hasn't won a race since his 2yo season (and has been beaten in 12 races as a 3yo & 4yo) yet is very consistent at around the 110 level as running to that rating - 110.  

If connections of ENABLE want to return for another go in 2019, they have nothing to fear from the current crop of 3yo's, and it all depends on whether there is something in the current 2yo crop that can take the race - it will have to be a superlative Derby winner..

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Enable & the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe

This weekend brings us the most prestigious flat race in Europe, the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe.  After a break of a couple of years when the race was staged at Chantilly, this year the race returns to Longchamp, although the ground at the revamped course has been criticised by many trainers.
I was lucky enough to be in the paddock at Kempton (being part of the Cribbs Causeway syndicate) when this years' race fav and 2017 winner ENABLE had her preparatory spin on the all-weather surface there.  She looked very well, and did what was expected that day.  What I thought interesting was how professional the connections undertook their business: very serious, no light-hearted behaviour (even though Enable's return to the track was reason enough for celebration). And gentleman that he is, John Gosden took the time to swap a few words with me as we walked from the pre-parade ring into the paddock before the race.
From what I saw, I'd expect Enable to come on a few pounds for that run, but she will not have to find much to repeat her win of 2017.  Remember, she may have been off the track for 11 months prior to that run, but her main rival at Kempton Crystal Ocean was having his 5th run of a busy season which had seen him win the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and then be beaten just a neck into 2nd by Poet's Word in the Group 1 "King George" back at Ascot on the final Saturday in July. I'm not sure that Crystal Ocean repeated that level of form when meeting Enable in September at Kempton, but he wasn't far off and was beaten convincingly enough to warrant no entry for this race and instead he likely goes next for the Champion Stakes back at Ascot on 20th October.
The worry for Enable is that she is conceding 7lb to the 3yo filly's, however the best of these looks to be SEA OF CLASS and she is (in my opinion) about 10lb inferior to Enable at this stage last season.  I really cannot see her troubling Enable. The best of the 3yo colts is KEW GARDENS, but the St Leger winner didn't look anywhere near good enough when 3rd in the Great Voltigeur Stakes (Group 2).  Of the older horses, WALDGEIST is the obvious challenger, but his best form still leaves him with a fair bit to find although this race has been his target for the past few months.  It may pay to take a chance with last year's runner-up CLOTH OF STARS filling the same place again – he's certainly good enough when he wants to be as he showed last year.
Once this weekend is over, we can start to focus entirely on the jumps season.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Weekend lookahead

At this time of year, as the days are ticked-off till the "jumps" season kicks off proper, it can be a bit difficult to write a blog. The alert list has been reviewed and pruned, the antepost lists have been assessed, and hopes lie ahead awaiting success or failure.
We still have the greatest flat race of the season to come when the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe returns to Longchamp on Sunday 7th October when we we surely see the 4yo filly ENABLE confirmed as the best we have seen in a long time, so we jumps fans have to be a bit patient yet.
However, we do have a sprinkling of jump racing meetings to keep us interested, with Newton Abbot staging a meeting today, and on Sunday we have meetings at Uttoxeter and at my local track at Plumpton, where I shall be in attendance.
I like Plumpton; a compact track where the view from the stands is a good one of (almost) the entire circuit, and the paddock and betting ring are close by.  I'm trying to gather together some local horseracing fans who would be interested in joining me in a small syndicate with a locally-based trainer (one of the trainers at Lewes) with the objective of finding a young hurdler to contest races over the Sussex circuit of Plumpton, Fontwell and Lingfield, with the occasional foray up to Ascot, Kempton and Sandown. However, finding people to come along isn't easy.
Still, I will be at Plumpton on Sunday so if you see me, say hello.
The article in today's Racing Post focusing on the life and tactics of professional punter Neil Channing was very interesting. I may have been blogging about horseracing for 8 years (writing over 1000 blogs), and I may have been profitable with my selections over that long period - but there's no way I would consider myself to be a professional punter.  As Channing points out in the article, the sums involved would be considerable: I calculated a few years ago that to obtain a £40,000 annual profit on my selections I would need to be placing about £2,500 on each selection and have a "bank" of 20 times that about, ie £50,000. 
As such, I will continue as an educated and informed recreational punter.     

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Which horses will be the stars of the 2018-19 Jumps season?

The coming jumps season looks to have a feel of being wide open with no one horse having dominance over a particular division.

For the Champion Hurdle over 2-mile it can be safely said that the 2017 & 2018 winner Buveur D'Air does not look to be the strongest contender going into 2019, and he could well succumb to a challenger. My immediate thought was that the horse he just beat at Cheltenham last March MELON could well step-up and find another 5-7lb to make him a realistic challenger, however he is yet to win a Grade 1 hurdle. As such, it is likely that the winner of the 2019 Champion hurdle will be one of last season's top novices, and the Cheltenham Festival winning pair of SUMMERVILLE BOY and SAMCRO come immediately to mind. On official ratings there is not much between them with Samcro on OR158 and Summerville Boy on OR156. What may be more informative is that Samcro won his Cheltenham race with a speed figure of 133 whereas Summerville Boy recorded a speed figure of 142. Both have only run 5 times and their current odds for the Champion Hurdle are: Samcro @ 7/1, Summerville Boy @ 14/1.  I think they both have tremendous chances at this point, and a 60/40 split-stake on the pair taking those odds looks a decent ploy.

When considering the Cheltenham Gold Cup the first place to start is with the previous running - not to find the winner but to identify those unlikely to win in 2019.  Winning a Gold Cup takes a superlative effort and only a very special horse is able to return and repeat the feat. Since Arkle won his hat trick of victories, only 2 horses have done it - L'Escargot and Best Mate (who did it twice). Kauto Star won 2 Gold Cups but not in successive years. As much as I like NATIVE RIVER he will do well to repeat the feat as we've not yet seen whether this enormous effort will have left its mark.  MIGHT BITE will be a 10yo in 2019, and that's too old to win a Gold Cup. As for the 3rd placed ANIBALE FLY he just doesn't look good enough. So, who are the possible contenders? The obvious place to start is with PRESENTING PERCY; he looked easily the best staying novice chaser of last season, he is currently the 6/1 fav and he loves Cheltenham. Certainly, Presenting Percy looked the part when winning the RSA Novice Chase at Cheltenham, and my only concern about that race is the speed figure, which suggests it was a bit slow. Also in that race was AL BOUM PHOTO who fell 2-out when certainly not out of the race, and subsequent efforts suggest he'd have pushed the winner.  At the moment Al Boum Photo is 33/1 and that looks very interesting, as I cannot see any of the other novice chasers from 2017-18 stepping-up into serious Gold Cup contenders at this stage - and I include his stablemate FOOTPAD in that assessment.  So far unbeaten as a chaser, the Arkle winner Footpad did not look like he stayed 3-mile in his only attempt at the trip as a hurdler, and I think he looks too good at 2-mile to contemplate a step-up in trip unless he is uncompetitive when facing 2-mile Champion Chaser ALTIOR.  It could be that this season is another when we see a novice chaser come to the fore in the manner Coneygree did in 2014-15.  The horses that have the potential to do that are BLACK OP and TOPOFTHEGAME, but looking for a potential Gold Cup winner from a novice chaser at this time of the season is a real guessing game.  Getting a horse to the Cheltenham Festival is a feat in itself, so I have no problem in taking odds about 2 or 3 in any of the championship races at this stage, and the 6/1 about Presenting Percy looks decent if he continues to progress, and the 33/1 about Al Boum Photo looks very generous.

My bread & butter profits will be made on the staying handicap chasers and looking at the results towards the end of last season, I'm warming to the chances of BEWARE THE BEAR.  He ran 4th in the Ultima Handicap Chase over 3m1f which was a great effort as he was a long way off the pace at one stage. His 8yo peer-group are a tremendous set of handicappers, but Beware The Best is very lightly raced for his age with just 8 chase starts and only 13 races in all under rules. The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury could be too quick for him to win as he's likey to fall too far behind, but if he goes for it he's sure to be staying on strong. A better race for him could be the 3m3f Grade 3 Chase run at Cheltenham on Bet.Victor Chase day in mid-November. That would set him up for another bid in the Welsh National. He does go well off a long break having won both his seasonal debuts as a chaser. I can see him going well at Aintree in the Grand National in 2019 (currently 50/1 for that) as the fences are much easier to jump these days which will compensate for his (sometimes) erratic jumping. He starts the season on OR148 and that's a generous mark for him as he has a bit of class, and he could easily end  the season rated 155+.

Another who could do well this year is LABEL DES OBEAUX who ran 6th in the Scottish National last April of OR147.  Although he's not won since April 2017, last season he raced mostly off OR151+ and now he has slipped down to OR146 which is 2lb below his last winning rating. He didn't really stay 4-mile LTO, but he ran well enough to suggest he has a good win in him off OR146. Dropped to a 3-mile trip on a RH track (Ascot) so long as the ground is not soft he should have a winning opportunity.  His trainer Alan King reckons he goes best right-handed and as he showed when he won at Ayr in April 2016 and the Ascot meeting on the 1st Saturday in November has the Grade 3 Sodexo 3-mile handicap chase which could be perfect for him.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Proposals for the 2018-19 Jumps season

It is that time of year again when I look back at the previous jumps season and the performance of the blog, and what I propose to do with the blog for the coming jumps season.   One of the things I like about the blog is that it gives me the opportunity to go back and read what I was thinking on a particular day - and sometimes it does not make good reading.

Last year I was reflecting on a difficult 2016-17 season when I advised only 6 winners from 55 selections - and of those selections 9 ran 2nd. As a result, my performance resulted in the 1st losing jumps season for the blog since I started writing it in March 2010.  It wasn't a huge lose, just £40.87 on stakes of £609.00 or 6.70% - but a loss is a loss.  My thoughts at the time attributed the loss as due to struggling to find the time to conduct the form study, and then to write the blog, to make it all worthwhile.  As such, I decided to scale back and reduce the burden by writing the blog only once or twice a week during the jumps season.

Overall, I think the strategy worked well, and during the season I advised a number of good winners. Because of the reduced number of blogs that I intended writing, I did not take any donations for the blog email service.  Also, as I was not seeking donations for the regular emails, I made the blog free to all, with the option for the reader to make a donation for any winners should they occur or if the reader thought the blog was worthy of a donation.  For the jumps seasons 2010-11 to 2016-17 all the selections were recorded and the performance noted: the performance is under the title of the blog: 
"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%".
In my opinion, that says it all - my betting strategy results in a long term profit.  

For the coming season, the blog will remain "free-to-all" and when published I will advice the fact via twitter. As the reduced blogging strategy worked well last season, that will also continue. I think I've as good, if not one of the best, handles on the form of the top staying chasers in the UK and Ireland and I will be endeavouring to make use of that knowledge on the antepost lists throughout the season. 

If things pan-out as I expect, this could be the last jumps season for the blog as regular readers know it. Life moves on and I'm getting older.  Maybe it's me, but I think 2019 will be a very testing year for everyone in the UK.  My profession is as a Quantity Surveyor in the construction industry and I've been doing the job since March 1980 - that's over 38 years. In that time the job has changed almost completely, and my daily tasks now are unrecognisable from my daily tasks when I was in my early 20's. With each new contract (I am a freelancer, and have been since 2002), the role I fulfil becomes more and more isolated with the main form of communication being just the laptop on my desk.  As someone who loved the banter, chat and personal relationships of the "old-style" construction site, I'm starting to feel like a fish out of water, and I really cannot see me staying in this industry much longer.  That 2019 will likely be such a year of turmoil (and I will not mention the "B" word for fear of offending some readers), and construction is already starting to feel the strain of the changes that are coming, it could be that my movement out of the industry will be forced upon me.  

If that happens (and I reckon it is odds-on) then, following the 2019 Grand National, it will be my intention to create a website featuring my thoughts, opinion, ratings and advice on horseracing - but some of those elements will only be available (before the event) to subscribers.

I'm really excited about the coming jumps season, we could be in for a cracker!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

TIGER ROLL wins the Grand National

What a terrific result for the blog yesterday.
I only looked at the Grand National, and even though I'd already placed wagers on eventual winner TIGER ROLL and on Warriors Tale (who ran well, but lacked the stamina to finish and pulled-up before 2-out when beaten) because of the ground I felt I still wasn't sure that I had a good enough handle on the race. So, I awoke at 6:30am on Saturday morning, powered-up the laptop and poured myself a giant mug of tea and started looking at the race afresh.
In a race worth £500,000 to the winner, £200,000 to the 2nd and £100,000 to the 3rd and in which even the 10th placed horse wins £5,000 you know that the race is too competitive to be won by an "also-ran". And so I gave myself some "rules" to reduce the field of 40 down to something more manageable.  One of these rules was nothing aged 12yo or older and I nearly came unstuck as the 13yo Bless The Wings ran right up to the form which has twice taken him into 2nd place in the Irish National, the latest time last April and before that in March 2016.  This old campaigner has certainly earned an honourable retirement.  The only other "older" horse to finish was the 12yo Aintree specialist Gas Line Boy who would have been in the 1st-5 but for his stamina running out after jumping the 2nd-last fence. I had thought he was capable of making the 1st-5 (see my blog of yesterday) as he did last year, but age has caught up with him.
Because of the testing nature of the ground, I also looked for form at trips beyond 3-mile and that put my antepost wager on Warriors Tale in doubt. When I placed the wager, I expected the ground to be the "usual "good-to-soft" but the rains continued and heavy ground was the last thing the horse needed. Even so, he ran well, and I expect he will back in the winners enclosure when racing over a suitable trip on better ground NTO.
Due to the ground, I wasn't expecting more than 10 to finish and in the end only 12 did finish the race and of the non-finishers 13 were pulled-up. Only 2 of those 12 to finish carried over 11st in weight: Anibale Fly who had run 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month, and Valseur Lido who had missed most of 2017 due to injury but had been rated OR169 after winning a Grade 1, 3-mile chase in November 2016.  Beyond 4-mile and on this sort of ground, weight carried over 11st is a heavy burden and it takes an exceptional horse to win the National with more than 11st in the saddle.  Even finishing the race with 11st-plus in the saddle is a considerable effort, and something to take into account next year.
The heavy ground certainly played to the strengths of Pleasant Company (just as I expected, see my blog assessment) and, in my opinion, he ran right up to the form which won him the 3m1f Bobbjo Chase in Ireland last February. He was beaten by the good-to-soft ground in this race last year, and this is what a lot or "experts" overlook when appraising the form - horses will not run to their best on ground which does not suit them.  Yesterday, Pleasant Company ran a cracker, setting a strong pace for much of the final couple of miles and was only beaten by a horse that, in my opinion, could have been placed in this years Cheltenham Gold Cup had he been aimed at that race instead of this.
What can I say about the performance of the winner, TIGER ROLL? He was perfectly placed throughout by his jockey Davy Russell, and that brings its own luck - just ask Sam Twiston-Davies whose mount Blaklion was brought-down at the 1st fence when he collided on landing with the stricken Perfect Candidate who had over-jumped and crumpled on landing.  And Davy Russell lost his irons as they headed out on the 2nd-circuit, but he kept his cool and sorted himself out without interrupting the motion of the horse.
In the end, I think TIGER ROLL ran to about the same level as he did when winning the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017. He is probably not up to Gold Cup winning standard, but he's certainly a lot better than his current OR150 rating, and should he drop back to an extended 3-mile trip for his next race then he will be worth following-up. However, I expect he will be aimed at a return to Aintree next year as he is still only an 8yo.

If you read the Grand National blog and followed my advised wagers, you would have emerged from the race with a profit of £82.50 for your £25 stake money on the 4 advised horses from the shortlist. The 4th horse on my list was Final Nudge who fell at Canal Turn on the 1st circuit before the race got going.

That's it for this jumps season.
You can still follow me on twitter on @wayward_lad and I'm usually watching the horseracing on a Saturday afternoon throughout the flat season.  It is now time for me to take a break, refresh the batteries, enjoy the summer (if we get one) and then look at building an alert list for the 2018-19 jumps season. Don;t forget, I will be posting my Cheltenham Festival blog on the pages to the right and adding to the notes there as I review each race in turn so that we can hit the ground running when we return to jump racing in October.

Good luck, and keep racing!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Grand National - Saturday 14th April 2018

We had good runs from both selections yesterday, and both finished in the places to end the day in a slight profit - Ms Parfois ran 2nd (advised at 6/1) and Ballyalton ran 5th (advised at 14/1).  Paddy Power paid 6-places on the Topham Trophy (Ballyalton's race) and many others paid 5 places).
I really thought MIN had the Melling Chase won but he just didn't have enough to beat Politilogue.  It wasn't the ground or the trip that beat him - Politilogue is one of those talented horses that once a season shows just how good he is and, for the rest of the season, he frustrates us. 

First-up today, I'm going to concentrate on the Grand National as that is the race most readers will want me to advise on.  I've already had an antepost wager at 50/1 on Warriors Tale and also a small win wager on Tiger Roll at 11/1.  However, I think this years' race is one of the trickiest I've come across and I'm not yet "hooked" on any one horse that I think holds a proper winning chance.  Obviously with 40 horses and 30 jumps you need a bit of luck, but the best horses with the best chances will make their own luck. So I'm having a fresh run through the runners, starting at the bottom and omitting any old horses (I really cannot see a 12yo or 13yo winning) and anything without any form at 3-mile-plus.  I also think the soft/heavy ground will make a big impact, and I wont be surprised to see less than 10 finish the race, so able to act on soft/heavy ground is something that I will look for.

Delusionofgrandeur 10st 5lb - ran 3rd over 3m5f at Sedgefield carrying 11:12 last November and he's won 4 from 10 chase races run over 3-mile-plus. However, he didn't stay the 4m1f on soft at Musselburgh on 03Feb and he's not on my shortlist.
Thunder And Roses 10st 5lb - Won the Irish National in 2015, and was 4th in it in 2017, he was unseated last year, and could run into 6th or 5th place as he does act on heavy ground.
Final Nudge  10st 6lb - His 3rd in the Welsh National carrying 11st 6lb was a great effort, and he ran well LTO without troubling the leaders. He could be a big surprise in this race at 50/1.
Milansbar 10st 6lb - His win in the Warwick Classic over 3m5f in January showed he's capable, and he's also twice run 2nd in a Midlands National over 4m1f. Sure to be bang there among the leaders throughout, and at 33/1 is a good eachway chance.
Baie Des Iles 10st 8lb - Ran 5th in the Welsh National as a 5yo, and then won in Ireland over 3m4f but could not win the same race last month which suggests she's not improving. Odds of 14/1 too short for me and I can't see this horse winning.
Pleasant Company 10st 11lb - Was the big Irish hope last year but the ground that day was probably too quick for him. He's been aimed at this race all season, and todays' ground will be perfect. He could run a big race and odds of 33/1 are fair value.
The Dutchman 10st 11lb - Won the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in some style, he flopped NTO on similar ground off a 13lb higher rating of OR148 which he races off here. May not be up to this.
Gas Line Boy 10st 11lb - Ran 5th in this race last year with 10:7, and won over the fences in December, he loves it here. The ground will suit him better than last year and I'm expecting a big race. Odds of 25/1 are very fair as he should at least make the 1st-5 finishers.
Warriors Tale 10st 12lb - Has been in top form all season, and handles soft ground. He's not raced beyond 3-mile except in hurdle races, but he's not shown he can't stay this trip. He's 50/1.
Chase The Spud 10st 12lb - His win in the 4m1f Midland National was off OR130 and he runs off OR149 in this. His recent form isn't great and he may not be up to this class of race.
Tiger Roll 10st 13lb - Has been aimed at this race and having won the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he has the CV of a winner. Can be an indifferent performer but he does have the class and ability. Odds of 12/1 are about right as should be in the 1st-4 home.
Perfect Candidate 11st 3lb - Pulled-up last year but the ground was too quick for him. Even so, he ran well for a long way and this softer ground will suit him. No stamina doubts and odds of 66/1 very generous for a horse that should finish.
Total Recall 11st 5lb - Won the Ladbroke Trophy Chase at Newbury in the autumn and ran well till falling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. Obviously a classy horse but OR156 looks a high enough mark for him on what he's shown to date.
The Last Samuri 11st 8lb - it will be tough on this ground for a horse with this weight to win, but he went close on similar ground when 2nd in 2016. I can see him running a big race, but another who should be in the places and odds of 20/1 are fair.
Anibale Fly 11st 8lb - 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he will need to repeat that form and better it to win this race off this weight. It's possible, but (in my opinion) unlikely.
Blaklion 11st 10lb - ran a bold race in this last year to be 4th, and he can carry big weights to win as he showed here in December winning with 11st 6lb. Another bold show expected, but his odds of 12/1 leave no room for error.

With some bookies paying 6-places (Betfred, Boylesports, Totesport) it may pay to have some long-odds eachway wagers with those and, in a race like this with such terms, I have no problem placing wagers on 4 runners in the race.

My "four-against-the-field" are:-
Perfect Candidate @ 66/1
Tiger Roll @ 12/1
Warriors Tale @ 50/1
Final Nudge @ 50/1

The horse that I think has the best chance of being the winner is TIGER ROLL, as he will stay the trip, he will handle the ground, he comes here in top form having won LTO, and in Davy Russell he has one of the best jockeys in racing to steer him around the track. He's a classy horse that could probably have run in better quality races since winning at Cheltenham in 2017 but he's been aimed for this instead of a having a "Gold Cup" campaign this season.

My suggested wager is 4 x £2.50 eachway wagers on the 4 in the shortlist, plus £5 win on TIGER ROLL - total staked £25.  Good Luck! 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Aintree Festival (Friday) 13th April

Not a bad start to the Aintree Festival.  As usual, I advise to read the narrative and if you did then you would likely have been on the winner L'Ami Serge who was 7/1 when I posted the blog, or you should have at least layed the fav Supasundae. Of my main selections; Cyrname set far too strong a pace in the opener and paid for it on the soft ground; Bristol De Mai ran a cracker but was not good enough to hold Might Bite, but he was a profitable eachway wager; and Bun Doran just faded out of the places coming home 5th.
I thought MIGHT BITE ran to a higher rating than he achieved in the Gold Cup, and he benefited from running over a shorter trip on this flatter track. The strong pace set by Bristol De Mai also helped Might Bite set, in my opinion, a personal best.

The Grand National course looked fantastic and possibly not as testing as was expected. So long as the rain stays away (and that is the expectation) we should have perfect racing ground on Saturday.  Yesterday I suggested having a wager on topweight Minella Rocco, and there are rumours that he may be withdrawn from the race. Hopefully, if you placed a wager you did so with a "non-runner, no bet" bookie.

Friday is a trickier card and I'm going to ignore the opening couple of hurdle races and go straight to the Novices Chase run at 2:50pm over 3m1f.  This is a race which is usually won by a top, if not the top, staying novice chaser of the season that's trained in the UK.  If Terrefort - 2nd in the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f last month - can improve for this step up in trip then he will be hard to beat. However, I think Terrefort may struggle over this trip and I'm looking at other proven stayers. With the mares 7lb allowance Ms Parfois is technically rated 153 and she will have no problem with the trip having just failed to win the 4-mile NH Chase. A very game mare, she should be thereabouts at the end. If the other mare in the race Mia's Storm had had a recent run (she last ran at Xmas) then I would be very interested in her in this race, but not having had a recent run is a worry.  The rest of the opposition is just as talented, however I think the 6yo's Coo Star Sivola and Elegant Escape will appreciate a break and be better in the autumn. A horse that I admire but who ran poorly at Cheltenham is Black Corton, and if he can return to his best (he easily beat Ms Parfois at Ascot in February over 3-mile) then I'd be on him in a flash. This is a tough race, but when push comes to shove I think the 6/1 about Ms PARFOIS is fair value as she ticks all the boxes.

The JLT Melling Chase over 2m4f run at 3:25pm looks to be between MIN and Balko Des Flo, and I have no doubt that MIN is the better horse, it is just this trip which may catch him out. This 2m4f trip is perfect for Balko Des Flo, but I felt he was at the limit LTO and it may be that he was flattered by the way the race panned out. The horse that may run a lot better than his odds is Le Prezien but I cannot see him beating Min even if he improves 10lb.  At odds of 5/4, MIN could be the wager of the day as I think he should be odds-on, probably about 4/7.

There is a full compliment of 30 runners for the 2m5f Topham Trophy  run at 4:05pm, so to be involved at the finish the winner of the race will need some luck.  After the Cheltenham Festival when writing up my notes, one horse caught my eye with regards this race and I placed a wager on him - BALLYALTON.  The 11yo has slipped from OR149 to OR138, but has run well without winning as his rating has dropped.  He was 4th LTO at Cheltenham in the 2m5f Grade 3 handicap chase and he was "in-the-van" throughout the race, which is where you want to be in a race like the Topham.  Available at 14/1 for this, he is as good an eachway wager as any other in the race.

I will give the remaining hurdle and "bumper" a miss as chases are my speciality.

Selections advised
2:50pm Ms PARFOIS - £5 eachway @ 6/1 (available generally)
4:05pm BALLYALTON - £5 eachway @ 14/1 (available generally)

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Aintree Festival (Thursday) 12th April

The opening day of the Aintree Festival and we kick-off with 4 x Grade 1 races.
Before that though, some of my early thoughts about the Grand National. The ground will have a huge bearing on the result and at the moment we could have anything ranging from Good-to-Soft to Soft (heavy in places) depending on the weather.  What we can be sure of is that the word "soft" will be in the ground description.
While we may have had winners of the Grand National that have carried more than 11st, in the main those carrying less than 11st have dominated the race in recent years. As such, I usually shy away from those with more than 11st but there is one horse that I think could have a great chance - even on soft ground - if he's in the mood, and that's MINELLA ROCCO who has top-weight with 11st 10lb. He's won the 4-mile NH Chase (with Native River and Vicente behind him that day); he's powered thru' the mud at Cheltenham to be 3rd in November16 when he looked the most unfit horse in the paddock beforehand (I was there); and he was 2nd in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he's still only an 8yo!   He also ran a cracker to be 4th on 28th Dec behind 1st Road To Respect and 2nd Balko Des Flo over 3-miles; not bad form that.
Jockeyship will come to the fore, I expect, as keeping the horse going when he wants to stop on soft ground is not something every jockey can do (watch Red Marauder win the National when only 2 completed, as Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy remounted to take 3rd and 4th, which they can't do now).  As such, Davy Russell on TIGER ROLL is looking a good booking, and I'm liking this horse more and more.
If VINTAGE CLOUDS gets a run he will not be 40/1, but I'm not sure enough (he needs another 5) will withdraw. 
It's possible Total Recall will not run, and nor will Vicente, and perhaps there are a few that would be better not bothering. Mullins will also probably pull-out Childrens List.  If pushed, I expect Sue Smith would rather have Vintage Clouds run than stablemate Delutionofgrandeur, but will the owner agree? 

The day opens on Thursday with the 2m4f Manifesto Novices' Chase run at 1:45pm.  Only 6 runners go to post, and the favourite is likely to be Nicky Henderson's Brain Power, however I have not thought this trip would suit him. So far, Brain Power has only run at around 2-miles.  As such, it may pay to oppose him with one of the pair sent by Paul Nicholls: Cyrname and Modus.  The latter disappointed at Cheltenham when he was outclassed, but he will appreciate this ground and this looks an easier race.  Cyrname missed Cheltenham but had already shown he was a decent novice chaser at this trip when just beaten by a neck at Sandown in February. The winner that day was Terrefort, who went on to be 2nd at Cheltenham in the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f. 
CYRNAME looks the most likely winner and odds of 9/4 are fair.  

Next up at 2:20pm is the Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle run over 2m1f, and again the race is dominated by Nicky Henderson who sends We Have A Dream and Apple's Shakira. At the odds I'm not interested in either horse, and this race is probably best watched.

The Betway Bowl Chase run over 3m1f at 2:50pm could be a classic.  Last years' winner Tea For Two returns, but this race is all about Might Bite and how much did the Gold Cup defeat take out of him.  Obviously, if he can repeat that form then Might Bite will not be beaten in this race.  However, that will be a big ask and as Bristol De Mai comes here fresh and having had a wind-op he could be capable of running to his best on this flat LH track which will suit him.  After his run in the Gold Cup, I'm wondering if Definitly Red was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when winning the Cotswold Chase in January at Cheltenham. Other than these three, I cannot see anything else getting into the race, and at 11/2 with Paddy Power BRISTOL DE MAI looks an eachway steal (5th odds a place 1,2,3)

The trip of 2m4f will really suit Supasundae in the Aintree Hurdle at 3:25pm, but he will need to be at his best to hold off the old boys The New One and My Tent Or Yours who have both shown that - on the day - they can run to near their best. It is also interesting that Henderson runs L'Ami Serge in this race as most of his hurdle races have been over 3-miles, but he did win the Grade 2 Select Hurdle at Sandown last April (The New One was btn 9-lengths into 4th) and that suggests he won't be far away either. A race in which I will be laying the fav if he remains at "evens" for the race in the betting.  

I've never had much luck in the Foxhunters over the years, my selections either fall or have no luck in running - so I will give this race a miss. 

The "Red Rum" Chase (handicap) run over 2-miles at 4:40pm is one of the best 2-mile handicap chases of the season and this years race looks very competitive.  I feel that King's Socks will prefer a longer trip, and as much as I like the consistency of Theinval, he's had too many races to find much improvement to win off this mark of OR141.  Last year, BUN DORAN started the 6/1 fav and his 3 runs since then this season have shown he's capable of winning off this mark of OR139, and odds of 8/1 (Bet365) look good value for an eachway wager - he is generally 7/1 which is still fair value. 

My advised wagers today are:-
1:45pm - CYRNAME - £10 win but ONLY if you can obtain 9/4 or longer
2:50pm - BRISTOL DE MAI - £5 eachway @ 11/2 with Paddy Power
4:40pm - BUN DORAN - £5 eachway @ 8/1 with Bet365

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The 1000th Wayward Lad Blog - and a Grand National selection

My thousandth blog - what a milestone.  Had anyone suggested back in March 2010 that I'd be writing this blog today, 8 years later in 2018, it's likely I'd have thought they'd gone bonkers. There was never any intention to write the blog for this long, I started off just testing the water, putting my thoughts down and wondering if anyone else was interested in them.

In those early days, some of the stalwarts of twitter and horseracing blogging quickly lent their support to the new kid on the block, people like Ben Aitken (@narrowthefield) and Steve Mullington (@mulldog), and that support was much appreciated. Blogging took a bit of getting used to: finding something to write about, then finding the time to do it and, most importantly, writing the blog early enough in the day for the information to be useful to the reader. Although my first blog was written  in March 2010, the blog became more regular in May of that year, as I became caught up in the excitement of the flat season in the run up to the Derby and Royal Ascot. When I look back at those early blogs the writing is simple and the messages short, but the information I am sharing with the reader is 1st-class: on 13th May 2010 I make subsequent Derby and Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce my selection for the Dante Stakes at York on the back of his solitary win in a maiden as a 2yo. The next day I suggest that 2000 Guineas 3rd Canford Cliffs can be this seasons top miler - and he was, winning a string of Group 1 races over a mile.

Over the years I have tried to vary how the blog is presented and, during that first summer, I tried to give the blog a "bulletin" feel as I considered at the time starting an alternative newsletter sent out by email to subscribers, but that idea never fully flew - however, I did write and issue a Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for several years until the volume of work required to put it together became too much. 

In the Autumn of 2010, the first selections for the 2010-11 jumps season were posted, and I decided to record my performance, and a record of that performance - and that of subsequent years - is available to review on the blog. That first season I managed to record a small 10pt profit on 109.50pts staked, but it was touch-and-go until the Grand National when I tipped the winner Ballabriggs at 16/1 the evening before the race - and (to put that tip into context) not a single tipster in the Racing Post named Ballabriggs in their "four-against-the-field". That Grand National blog holds the all-time record for readers: 610 on the day - and did I receive any donations for tipping the winner? No, not a penny.

Do I have a selection for the 2018 Grand National? This year looks a tricky race (as always) and given the weather, much will depend on the state of the ground on the day: if it is soft, then stamina will be at the forefront, and luck. The horse that I have taken antepost odds on is WARRIORS TALE trained by Paul Nicholls.  The horse stays 3-mile well and is, in my opinion, well handicapped on OR149 as it should mean he has less than 11st to carry. I also think that as he's recently been bought by Trevor Hemmings (who won the race with Ballabriggs and Many Clouds) connections think the horse has a better than 40/1 chance in this race. The ground could be an issue if it is soft on the day, not because he cannot handle soft ground (he can) but because it could make the race a bit more unpredictable. But I think he should be half his current odds and, given he's been recently bought to run in the race, it will only be an injury sustained on the gallops that prevents him from running, and on the day he will be amongst the market leaders at between 12/1 - 16/1. 

The season 2011-12 was when I first came to know Cue Card. When running in the Arkle in March 2012, I had suggested readers take the 3/1 without the fav (Sprinter Sacre) and Cue Card had pushed the winner all the way.  After that run, Cue Card was rated OR157 - can you believe that now? At the time, I thought he was exceptionally well handicapped and - if he'd been mine - he would have gone straight for the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November, a race won by Al Ferof off OR159 - and Al Ferof had been hammered by Cue Card in the Arkle at Cheltenham.

The summer of 2012 was when I first took a summer vacation from blogging, returning for the 2012-13 jumps season in the November.  The break did me good, as I was able to assemble an "alert list" of well-handicapped and improving horses, and go into the season fresh and confident of success.  On reflection, it was probably the most successful jumps season I've had as a blogger as I finished over 50pts ahead.  Not only was I able to capitalise on my confidence about Cue Card - who I tipped at 5/1 antepost to win the Ryanair Chase - I also tipped Monbeg Dude to win the Welsh National at 12/1.

For season 2013-14 the winners continued, he highlight being spotting the well-handicapped John's Spirit who I tipped to win twice at Cheltenham at 14/1 and then at 9/1 to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup. But the highlight of that autumn was Midnight Appeal on 13th November 2013, who I tipped to win at Bangor at 25/1.  The winner resulted in the largest amount of individual donations that I have ever received for posting a winner. 

However, the blog is not just about donations (although they are welcome) it is about the joy of horseracing and jump racing in particular.  For me, there is nothing that beats standing at the course, feeling a chill in the air from the breeze, listening to the sound of the hubbub of the crowd, feeling the sense of anticipation.  I do not think there is an experience that beats it, and when a crowd comes together to witness and support both winner and loser in a race such as this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup which contained bravery and excellence in equal measure, there is no superlative to describe it.

I love writing this blog, I love being able to witness jump racing and be a part of the fabric, and long may it continue. If you appreciate this blog, I would be very pleased for you to make a comment.