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Wednesday, 26 December 2018
The 2018 Welsh National at Chepstow
There are 20 horses going to post, and they are headed by Ballyoptic (rated OR155) with 11st 12lb. This race has a great history and there are plenty of trends to help you find the winner. Last year the race was postponed and rescheduled for January, and the finish was dominated by two 13yo's. This was an anomaly, and the race is nearly always won by a horse aged no older than 8yo.
Another excellent trend is weight, those horses capable of winning with more than 11st are usually capable of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Native River won with 11st 12lb in December 2016 and then won a Gold Cup in March 2018; Synchronised won with 11st 6lb in December 2011 and then won the Gold Cup in March 2012. In 1994, Master Oats won with 11st 6lb and then won the Gold Cup in March 1995. Ask yourself if those horses with more than 11st are capable of winning - or even competing in - a Cheltenham Gold Cup?
I think that Ballyoptic (11:12); Yala Enki (11:11); Vyta Du Roc (11:4); Vintage Clouds (11:3); and Folsom Blue (11yo) can be discounted on age and weight. Baie De Iles wasn't good enough last year and is unlikely to do better this year..
The David Pipe pair of Vieux Lion Rouge and Ramses De Teillee are both worth a 2nd-glance. Vieux Lion Rouge will stay every yard and handle the ground, and the course should suit him even though he's not won at Chepstow, and 11st 3lb should give him a chance.
Ramses De Teillee loves Chepstow and testing ground and he should stay this trip, and I'd expect him to be there at the finish. However, he was well beaten by Elegant Escape at Exeter last February and I think Elegant Escape is poorly handicapped; which suggests Remses De Teillee is also.
Raz De Maree at 13yo is too old; as is the 11yo Regal Flow. Ron's Dream is too exposed, this will be his 25th chase race.
Looksnowtlikebrian is on the upgrade and the trip should prove no problem. Although he's won on soft/heavy ground his bed form is on good-to-soft; but he is a very good candidate.
FINAL NUDGE managed to come 3rd in this race last year carrying 11st 6lb, this year he has just 10st 9lb and his form looks no worse coming into this race, and so he must hold an outstanding chance. He's 13lb better off with Vintage Clouds who he beat in this race last year.
Kansas City Chief, Dawson City and Mysteree all look out of form; Holly Bush Henry does not seem to be capable of running a big race (he's a bit of a plodder), and Jenny's Surprise is also a bit one-paced at extreme trips.
For me, the most likely winner is FINAL NUDGE and odds of 16/1 quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4,5 look generous in what looks to be a weak race for the grade.
My Boxing Day Yankee made a good start when the first runner Willie Boy won very easily at 11/4, but the next couple Crosspark and Just Georgie were disappointing. I thought I had a double coming when the odds-on fav Kaputana fell, but Little Miss Poet was unable to capitalise on the opportunity.
The King George VI Chase went to CLAN DE OBEAUX who ran about 10lb better than he did at Haydock when 4th in the Betfair Chase behind Bristol De Mai. My opinion is this was the best staying performance we've seen this season, and I know the race lost both Bristol De Mai and Waiting Patiently, but I doubt either of those would have won this. The good yardstick Thistlecrack gives confidence to the form, and I'd expect Native River to improve going left-handed as he looked very unsuited by Kempton.
I've just taken the 12/1 offered by Bet Victor for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as I reckon Clan Des Obeaux should be joint fav with Native River at 4/1 for this, and Presenting Percy - who is yet to run this season and confirm his ability - should be no shorter than 7/1.