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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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Saturday, 15 January 2022

Saturday 15th January 2022 - Warwick Classic Chase handicap

After a quiet period of horseracing, we have a fairly decent day to take a look at with good meetings at Kempton, Warwick and Wetherby.  There are a couple of top races on: at Kempton there's the £100,000 Lanzarote handicap hurdle over 2m5f; and at Warwick there is the £100,000 "Classic" handicap chase over 3m5f. My preference is to stick with the chase races. 

In the "Classic" at Warwick at 3:00pm; last years winner Notachance runs off the same rating of OR139, but while last year he carried 10st 5lb this year he carries 11st 9lb. This looks a tricky race to fathom, but I keep coming back to the topweight Corach Rambler @ 6/1 and Gericault Roque, the fav @ 4/1.  Those odd do not look value to me, and if I was pushed to have a wager on the race then I'd be looking at taking an ew punt on something like Minella Encore who - while he is unlikely to win - should be in the 1st-5 should he complete the race, and 14/1 (5-places ew) with several bookies looks fair.

Kempton has a cracking card of races, but it's a bit disappointing that the 2m4f chase at 1:32pm has been reduced to just 7 runners from 16 entered midweek. I'm happy to oppose the fav Champagne Court on two counts: he's the oldest horse in the race at 9yo, and I think this trip could just stretch him a bit. The 2nd-fav Foxboro looks a horse who is hard-work for the jockey, and so I don't think putting a 5ln claimer in the saddle is a good idea. Just over 12 months ago, it was an impossible task for Falco Blitz (OR139) to concede 7lb to Killer Clown (now OR142) over C&D, and he had no chance over 3-mile on his seasonal debut LTO.  This trip could see him go well, and odds of 5/1 (11/2 in places) look fair.  I also like Kap Auteuil but think this trip could be a bit sharp for him and he probably will want a strongly run race to figure at the finish, but I think his next win will be over a trip of 3-miles. I just cannot see the other 3 runners - Fanzio, Lock's Corner or Twenty Twenty - winning this race.  So, for me, the Nicky Henderson trained FALCO BLITZ @ 5/1 (sorry, the 11/2 has gone while writing, and he's 9/2 in places now) looks the WIN wager - £10 on.

Kempton's 3-mile handicap chase at 3:15pm looks a good race for a punt: just 8 runners and they are all well-known chasers. The fav for the race is Caribean Boy trained by Nicky Henderson, and question is will the horse stay this 3-mile trip? His best race (on my ratings) was when 7th in the "Plate" handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March carrying 11st 11lb in this top class handicap.  He was running off OR153 that day, and he has a real chance today off OR145 if his stamina holds out.  There are no stamina issue's about Kitty's Light, but will he handle the soft ground well enough to show his best form?  The consistent Smarty Wild won his only chase (from 9 starts) here at Kempton, but that was over an extended 2m4f. Again, the question is will he stay the trip? I'm never happy placing my money on 12yo horses, and although Double Shuffle who loves it here at Kempton could run a big race (and the emphasis is on the word "Could") I'm passing over on A Toi Phil and Wishing And Hoping. Christian Williams has done well finding 3 races to win for Strictlydancer, but this looks a tough ask given he isn't the quickest of horses. The Peter Bowen trained Mac Tottie is interesting, as he stays this trip, handles soft ground, and he's won going right-handed at Market Rasen. I just feel he was flattered when winning over the National fences at Aintree in November, and a rating of OR141 is possibly 7lb too high - but he does tick a lot of boxes, in a race with many having question marks.  If Caribean Boy stays this trip then he's the most likely winner, but with just 8 runners and Skybet offering 4-places and 11/1 about MAC TOTTIE, that has to be the value eachway wager for me.

Selections:
Kempton 1:32pm FALCO BLITZ - £10 win @ 5/1 (available generally)
Kempton 3:15pm MAC TOTTIE - £5 ew @ 11/1 (Skybet 5th odds a place 1,2,3,4) 

Monday, 3 January 2022

Cheltenham Festival - the Arkle 2-mile novice chase

Putting together an antepost portfolio for the Cheltenham Festival requires a bit of thought: not in finding the best horse for the race, but in ensuring that you have a likely runner in the race.  The "Arkle" has been contested by only a handful of runners in some recent years:-
2021: Shiskin beat just 4 rivals,
2020: Put The Kettle On beat 10 others,
2019: Duc Des Genievres beat 11 others,
2018: Footpad beat just 4 rivals,
2017: Altior beat 8 rivals
When the fav is odds-on, the number of runners is likely to be in single figures - is Ferny Hollow likely to go off the odds-on fav?

 Current betting as at 3rd January 2022


The fav for the race is Ferny Hollow trained by Willie Mullins. The 2020 Champion "Bumper" winner, beating stablemate and subsequent 2021 Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Appreciate It in the process, won his only novice hurdle race beating subsequent 2021 Ballymore Novice Hurdle winner Bob Olinger into 2nd place. Injury curtailed his hurdling season, and he returned to racing last month with a facile win at Punchestown. He's followed that up with a good win at Leopardstown on Boxing Day giving 13lb to the useful Riviere D'Etel, and that form makes this quality horse the 2/1 fav for the Arkle. It is likely that Ferny Hollow will run again in the Irish "Arkle" on 5th February at Leopardstown, and a win there could see him start at 6/4 (or even shorter) come the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The best of the UK challengers is Edwardstone, trained by Alan King. He probably wasn't as good a hurdler as Ferny Hollow, but he is very consistent and has taken that consistency into his chasing. His win on 27th Dec at Kempton was a top-class performance for a novice chaser, and Alan King has suggested that he will go to Warwick for the "Kingmaker" on 12th February. What I like about this horse is that he never runs a bad race, and he also looks like he will stay 2m4f.  While Alan King has not done well at recent Cheltenham Festivals, he does know how to win the "Arkle".  

Blue Lord is another Mullins-trained horse, but his form is trickier to fathom, as his best performance on paper was when falling at the final hurdle in the Supreme Novices hurdle last March.  He looked like coming home a good 2nd that day; but his form before or since then does not suggest he's an "Arkle" winner.

As referred to above, Bob Olinger won the 2021 Ballymore Novices Hurdle in impressive fashion, and before that he'd "mullered" Blue Lord. He didn't look too convincing on his novice chase debut, but he did win, and Master McShee - also on his chase debut - in 3rd (btn 16 lengths) has since won well. That was in November and unless we see Bob Olinger run again soon, and win in decent fashion, then I don't think he will be winning the "Arkle".  He is the 6/4 fav for the "Turner" (used to be the RSA Chase) over 3-miles, but those odds look silly.  

It's not unusual to see Mullins have multiple entries in the novice races at the Festival, and I was impressed with the chase debut of Haut En Couleurs at Leopardstown on the 27th Dec. There were some good words from Mullins after that win, and it has to be remembered that he placed the horse on his debut for the stable in the Triumph Hurdle last March, in which he ran 3rd.  It would not surprise me to see this horse improve over 10lb next-time-out, and he looks very exciting.

At this point, it seems likely that there will be fewer than 10 runners in the race, with Ferny Hollow going off the odds-on fav - especially if he wins (as is likely) the Irish "Arkle" on 5th February.  This is a time & tested route to the Arkle for Willie Mullins, and he was successful with Footpad (in 2018) and Douvan (in 2016), but it is not guaranteed. I think there is better value in finding a likely runner that will be placed in the race, and the two that jump out are Edwardstone and Haut En Couleurs.  There is no "non-runner, no-bet" offers available on the Arkle yet, so there is the risk of losing the stake, but the 14/1 about Haut En Couleurs offered by Bet365 looks very tempting, especially as in my opinion he could be a 160+ 2-mile chaser.

Suggested Antepost Wager:
Arkle 2-mile Novice Chase:
HAUT EN COULEURS - £5.00 eachway @ 14/1 with Bet365, 5th odds a place 1,2,3 

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Thursday 30th December 2021 - 10 weeks till the greatest show on earth

We are on the final countdown, in just a little over 10 weeks we will (hopefully) hear the roar of the crowd at Cheltenham heralding the start of the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the commencement of the Cheltenham Festival.  It's time to start looking in earnest at building the Cheltenham portfolio: a select set of wagers at odds much longer than can be obtained on the day of the race, about a horse that holds an outstanding chance. 

The highlight of last years portfolio was a £20 wager on Stayers' Hurdle winner Flooring Porter at 14/1, and in doing so he made a significant contribution to the profit for the blog selections. For the 3rd year in a row, I posted a profit on the week, and in 2021 it was £183.50 profit on total stakes of £237.00; that's 77.47% Return on Investment.

I'm going to try and make it 4 years of profit in 2022, but to make things a bit spicier, I'm going to try and find a "gamble": a horse to try and win over £500 for the blog. I'm looking for another "Cue Card" who I tipped to win the Ryanair Chase in 2013; or a "Coneygree" who I tipped at 12/1 to win the Gold Cup in 2015.  It's not easy finding such winners, but I'm going to try an find an outstanding candidate.

There has been some great racing over the past week, and let's take a look at some of the results and the implications. Boxing Day brought us the "King George" at Kempton, and we had a surprise winner in the Mullins-trained Tornado Flyer. It was only TF's 2nd run over 3-miles, his previous effort being when well-beaten in the Savills Chase on 28betDec 2020 behind A Plus Tard. It was a good effort in the "King George" but the race did fall apart somewhat. Both Henderson horses (Mister Fisher and Chantry House) ran stinkers; Lostintranslation isn't the horse he was before injury; Minella Indo looks to have a breathing problem; and Saint Calvados doesn't stay a yard further than 2m5f. To be honest, had Asterion Forlonge not crumpled on landing at the final fence, I think he'd have stayed-on best and won. He has had some jumping problems, as when 3rd in the "Marsh" to Chantry House that was only his 3rd completed chase race. But his handicap chase win at Punchestown in April was a cracker of a performance, and if he can complete a race (he also unseated when going easily in the "John Durkan") he is the sort who could run a massive race in either the Gold Cup or the Ryanair.  Given Asterion Forlonge looks capable of a 165+ performance, odds of 25/1 (available generally) look massive for the Gold Cup, especially when Minella Indo looks unlikely to repeat his winning performance of last March, and nothing longer than 25/1 in the betting looks capable of beating him. 

At Leopardstown on 28th Dec, A Plus Tard was beaten on-the-nod by Galvin, with good yardstick Kemboy in 3rd just under a length behind. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the run of APT; he picked-up well on the run-up to the 2nd last, then went clear into the final fence.  It was on the run-in that he was caught, and as he had the eventual winner under a hard-drive from after the 2nd-last, it is possible that APT idled in front, or that his jockey thought the race was won. Both these horses are Festival winners, so the Cheltenham hill holds no worries for either: I just feel that of the pair I'd expect A Plus Tard to win next time they meet as he has better tactical speed and can put the race out of reach of Galvin.   Also, I think APT is about 10lb better than this performance at his best (such as when he won at Haydock) and for me he is the one to beat in the Gold Cup come March.  At current odds he's 7/2 (available generally), but I cannot see him starting much shorter than 3/1 on the day (if he goes there next) so hold on before placing a wager until you can get non-runner - no bet.

Dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo is due to run at Tramore on New Years Day, and while I've already suggested that he's a decent each-way wager for a place (that was when he was 20/1; he's now best-priced at 16/1) he will be a 10yo in 2022, and I just cannot see him winning the Gold Cup in March.  I'm more tempted by Asterion Forlonge from the Mullins stable, especially as he's in the same ownership as Al Boum Photo.

Suggested Antepost Wager:
Cheltenham Gold Cup:
ASTERION FORLONGE - £5.00 eachway @ 25/1 with William Hill or Bet365, 5th odds a place 1,2,3
and
Ryanair Chase:
ASTERION FORLONGE - £2.50 eachway @ 16/1 with Bet Victor or Bet365, 5th odds a place 1,2,3
Total staked = £15.00

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Sunday 26th December - the Boxing Day blog

Merry Christmas to readers of the blog, and let's hope today is a good one! It's the Boxing Day blog and there is a real feast of horseracing today.  Big days like this give choosy punters a host of opportunities to find a winner and make a profit.

There are going to be plenty of changed plans and so a fair-few non-runners, so review your planned wagers as some races could end-up being very easy to find the winner in.  There are meetings at Kempton, Wetherby, Sedgefield, Market Rasen, Fontwell, Huntingdon and Wincanton, as well as Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal in Ireland - so there is no need to just stick to the major, competitive races.

Some people reading this blog will be focusing on the feature race of the day, which is the "King George" Grade 1 chase at Kempton. This race takes a truly exceptional horse to win this aged 9yo or older; the last two horses to do that were Cue Card aged 9yo in 2015, and Kauto Star aged 11yo in 2011. As such, I have to go against the 9yo's Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon and Lostintranslation. The most likely winners of this race - in my opinion - are Chantry House and Minella Indo. At the official ratings, Minella Indo is head & shoulders above this field on OR175, and with 1st-time cheekpieces applied odds of 4/1 (and 9/2 with William Hill) look massive. The only "doubt" is that when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Minella Indo showed form perhaps 15lb better than he's shown in any other race - hence why he started at 9/1 for that race. Trainer de Bromhead does not send many across the Irish Sea, but when he does we should take notice.

The other race I love on Boxing Day is the "Rowland Meyrick" handicap chase at Wetherby. There is a strong field for this Grade 3 chase over 3-miles, and again the majority of winners are aged no older than 8yo (the last "older winner being the 10yo According To Pete at 33/1 in 2011). So I'm happy to omit Top Ville Ben (9yo), Lake View Lad (11yo), Takingrisks (12yo), and Windsor Avenue (9yo) from calculations. This is a step-up in trip from 2m4f for Silver Hallmark, and I think odds of 5/2 are too short to consider him for this race. For me, it's Good Boy Bobby who was only just touched-off LTO at Newcastle. I also considered Empire Steel as trainer Sandy Thomson only has 2 runners today, both at Wetherby (the other is The Ferry Master in the chase at 1:00pm), but the form for this horse is difficult to assess. The Ladbroke Trophy Chase winner Cloudy Glen usually goes best fresh, and that win was a tough race for him. 

There is an interesting mares' novice chase at Wincanton at 12:53pm over 2m4f; with just 6 runners.  The fav is Precious Eleanor, but I think this one can be opposed as she's a bit one-paced. Trainer Nicky Henderson entered 3 for this race, and sends chase debutant Fantastic Lady who is well regarded by the stable.  Jockey Tom Cannon has the ride, and he is 2 wins from 7 rides for Henderson in the past 5 years.  This is more of a speculative selection, but as Henderson has only one other runner at Wincanton with a 7lb claimer riding, there may be something in this.

I love having wagers in 3-mile hurdle races as they can be very weak contests. At Fontwell at 12:32pm 3m2f hurdle race looks like a good opportunity. Khan won at Lingfield over 2m7f beating subsequent winner Dolphin Square (who had Certainly Red well behind when they met at Newbury). Khan was 3rd to the fav Not At Present when they met LTO, and on better terms and can reverse the placings this time.  Odds of 7/2 are freely available (4/1 with Bet365).

That's my Boxing Day Yankee:
Fontwell 12:32pm KHAN @ 4/1 with Bet365 (7/2 available generally)
Wincanton 12:53pm FANTASTIC LADY @ 10/1 with Bet365 (8/1 available generally)
Wetherby 2:10pm GOOD BOY BOBBY @ 9/2 with Bet365 (9/2 available generally)
Kempton 3:05pm MINELLA INDO @ 9/2 with Bet365 (4/1 available generally)

£2 win Yankee - 11 bets - £22 staked