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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The Cheltenham Gold Cup antepost market 31-December

It's been a few weeks since the last blog, and with not being able to donate enough time to make selections and write a decent weekly blog, I've decided to concentrate on preparing for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
There has been plenty going on in the past few days, and here is the latest betting:-
KEMBOY - 6/1 (available generally - I do not consider the odds of 7/1 offered by 888Sport)
AL BOUM PHOTO - 7/1 (Coral and Betfred)
CLAN DES OBEAUX - 8/1 (Hills and Paddy Power)
LOSTINTRANSLATION - 8/1 (available generally - I do not consider the 9/1 offered by Betway)
DELTA WORK - 10/1 (Betfred and Paddy Power)
SANTINI - 10/1 (BetVictor and Paddy Power)
PRESENTING PERCY - 14/1 (Boylesports)
NATIVE RIVER - 20/1 (Hills and Paddy Power)
They are the front-8 in the betting and I really cannot see anything else coming out of the woodwork.

KEMBOY and the 2019 Gold Cup winner AL BOUM PHOTO head the market, with Kemboy just ahead. While I appreciate that Al Boum Photo is worthy of his position in the betting, I cannot say the same about Kemboy.
Sure, Kemboy won the Savills Chase (G1) in Dec18 beating Monalee into 2nd, and he went on to win at Aintree and Punchestown but (in my opinion) he beat CLAN DES OBEAUX and Al Boum Photo when they were possibly over-the-top after being trained for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kemboy was also trained for that race but he fell at the 1st fence.
I rate his win in the Savills Chase as his best to date (165) whereas RPR rate his wins at Aintree and Punchestown superior to that effort.  What you can take from his career to date is that he does improve for a run from a break, so he is sure to find improvement from his recent run on 28-Dec.  I hope rather than expect he will be given another race before Cheltenham, as otherwise he will go into the Gold Cup too fresh. I'm also not sure he will stay the Gold Cup trip.
AL BOUM PHOTO easily won the Gold Cup last March, and he runs on Wednesday 1st Jan in a repeat of his preparation of last season. He will be only an 8yo in March 2020 and there's no reason he cannot repeat that effort.  On the downside, I did not rate his win was in a particularly strong Gold Cup. He should win easily on 1st January and in proving his well-being his odds will almost certainly shorten to probably 9/2, so if you think he can win again in March you had best place a wager today.
CLAN DES OBEAUX easily repeated his win in the King George on Boxing Day, and he did not have to repeat his winning effort of 2018 to do so. Can he win in March? Probably not, as he's run in 4 chases beyond 3-mile and been beaten each time, which (to me) indicates he lacks the stamina to win a Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
LOSTINTRANSLATION is a tricky horse to fathom, and I'm prepared to overlook him pulling-up in the King George on Boxing Day as I do not think he enjoys going right-handed. In beating Topofthegame at Aintree over 3m1f last April he showed he was one of the very best novice staying chasers and probably would have won the RSA Chase at the last Festival. He is an out-and-out stayer and is probably the best value in the market at the moment.
DELTA WORK is a horse that needs a stamina test, as he's not the quickest and that lack of zip was exposed in last seasons RSA Chase when he went from cruising along and looking the most likely winner, to being caught flat-footed and left in a matter of strides. He was ridden more aggressively at Punchestown and was rewarded with a much better performance and one that suggested he could have won the RSA with a similar ride. As such I would expect him to push for the race early come March and make it a gruelling contest. Again, he looks value in the betting.
Personally, I do not think we will see SANTINI race again this season, as he was a shadow of himself in his race at Sandown earlier this season and we have not seen him since.
PRESENTING PERCY has - in my opinion - had his chance and that was last season.
NATIVE RIVER is still a top class chaser, but his limits were exposed at the Gold Cup last March and he will be a 10yo come March and the young guns will be too good for him.
The pair in the betting that I like are:-
Lostintranslation and Delta Work and at 10/1 it's DELTA WORK for me.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Tingle Creek showdown at Sandown

What a tremendous day of horseracing we have, with top-class meetings at Sandown, Aintree, Chepstow and Wetherby.
The feature race of the day is the "Tingle Creek" over 2-miles at Sandown at 3pm. The favourite is DEFI DU SEUIL and on my ratings his best-ever performance was at Sandown as a novice, The manner in which he won at Aintree in November suggests he's improved a lot since then, but he didn't have to show it at Aintree. The Irish raider Un De Sceaux is not as good as he was, and I really cannot see him troubling the judge today. Politologue won this race in 2017, but he has not improved on that performance since, but he is very consistent. His stablemate Dolos was swept aside at Exeter by Janika, and that makes JANIKA a top-class prospect for this. Sceau Royal was beaten out of site in this race last year and maybe Sandown isn't his best track.
Looking at the form this morning, JANIKA is a stand-out wager for me at 9/1 with Bet365.  I rated his performance at Cheltenham (on the same afternoon Defi Du Seuil won) the best of the day. We have to see if he has the speed for top-class 2-miles chases, but he certainly has the class.

At Aintree, I am swerving the Becher Chase and the Grade 2 "Many Clouds" Chase over 3m1f has only 4 runners but it looks a cracker. If NATIVE RIVER is anywhere near fit, then he will win this race, and he usually goes well off a break. But at odds-on he's not for me.

I managed to put my Tote 10-2-Follow entries in last week, but was knocked sideways when Buveur D'Air was beaten at Newcastle and injured in the process. He was one of my "core". Overall, I chose 12 horses for the list, with a core of 8, and the other 4 entered in 6 pairs (any 2 from 4).
My core of 8 is:-
Buveur D'Air
Paisley Park
Defi Du Seuil
Delta Work
Cyrname
Janika
Benie Des Dieux
Kemboy

And my other 4 are:-
Lostintranslation
Clan Des Obeaux
Scaeau Royal
Kalashnikov

My advice today is take the 9/1 offered about JANIKA he looks a very decent eachway chance at least, and I'm on for £5 win and £5 eachway.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Saturday 30th November & the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase

I expect most readers of this blog will be up and about early on Saturday morning, putting their entries in for the Tote Ten-to-follow. My thoughts and shortlist are on the blog entry below, so no need to go into it again here.
With advance going described as heavy at Newcastle, if it passes an 8am inspection, I'm loathe to spend too much time assessing the form of the racing there.
It's also likely to be heavy ground at Bangor, but at least they are expecting racing to go ahead there - no inspection planned. Only one race there is of interest, and that's the 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at 1:20pm with 8-runners declared. This looks a weak Class 3 chase and so (unusually) I'm interested in the 10yo ASK THE WEATHERMAN who may well be the oldest horse in the race, but he's proven over the trip and the ground, and he goes well fresh, so should not be too bothered with this being his first run since April.  In December last year, he won a 2m7f hurdle on heavy ground at Exeter, so he does enjoy soft ground and a good trip.
However, most readers of this blog will not be interested in what's happening anywhere else other than at Newbury, and the race they will be focusing on is the Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase run over 3m3f at 3pm. There are 24 runners, which means it will be a much tougher race than last year when only 12 ran. The ground at Newbury is good-to-soft so there will be no excuses and a decent pace is guaranteed.
The "Ladbroke" is a race I've had some good fortune in over the years and essentially you are looking for a young, improving chaser to win this. Last year was (in my opinion) an anomaly as only 12 ran, and the 10yo Sizing Tennessee (who has not raced since) took advantage to run the race of his life off a reasonable OR148 rating. Back in 2nd was Elegant Escape, who has improved since then but so has his rating. Yes he did win the Welsh National last December, but that was off OR151 and in this race he runs off OR160 which is too high. Dingo Dollar was 3rd last year off OR148 and I think the soft ground found him out, and it probably will do again.
Other than Sizing Tennessee last year, only one horse older than 8yo has won this race since 1998, and that was the mighty Denman. As such, I'm going to put a line through anything aged 9yo or older, and that's Beware The Bear, Yala Enki, Yorkhill, Robinsfirth, OK Corral, Two Taffs, West Approach, Joe Farrell, Royal Encore, and Shantou Village.  I can see one or two of them running into a place - possibly West Approach, and OK Corral - but I cannot see one of them winning.
OK Corral is one of the favourites for this, and for the life of me I cannot fathom why as his form on the track just does not justify the support.
Mister Malarkey is a stout stayer, but his form isn't strong enough to win this race off OR149.
Willie Mullins can never be underestimated and his Cabaret Queen won the Munster National LTO but this looks a tough ask to me, and there's no value in the odds.
A rating of OR149 looks tough for De Rasher Counter too, as he couldn't win a Class 3 chase last January off OR139 at Chepstow (was outstayed).
Gordon Elliot sends the Galway Plate winner Borice (in 2nd that day was Black Corton), but this one has plenty of experience and was particularly well handicapped at Galway. running off OR146 will likely find him out.
The horse I've had my eye on all week is ON THE BLIND SIDE.
Nicky Henderson knows how to win this race, and what I like about this horse is that he was given the tough task of taking on Talkischeap at Kempton in January over 3-mile. He was receiving 6lb and Talkischeap is now rated 12lb higher on OR157. so ONTHEBLIND SIDE is possibly a 155+ horse in-waiting, but he's running off OR149.
I was at Ascot when he ran his seasonal debut, and he was given a very easy time of it, only getting going in the final half-mile when he made some rapid progress not losing any ground on the leader in the process. I think this race will be perfect for the horse, and I'm very happy that Nico De Boinville has the ride.
The remainder of the card looks extremely tough, so I'm happy with my only selection being...
Selection
Newbury 3:00pm ONTHEBLINDSIDE, £5 win & £5 eachway @ 11/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4,5 with Bet365), total = £15 staked
My quandary is whether to include ONTHEBLINDSIDE in my entry for the Tote Ten-to-Follow.

One racing tipster I have followed in the past and who gives good value for money is
 The Mathematician
and this being "Black Friday" week, he is offering a special deal of
1) The first 10-days of his service available for just £1;
and
2) A discount of £100 an a quarterly membership.
The link to these deals is below:-
The Mathematician
http://www.mathematician-betting.co.uk/offers/blackfriday/default.asp
If you are interested, but do not want a long-term sign-up, he also offers a "Saturday only" service. I will be honest, and advise that I usually only subscribe to this service during the summer months.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Tote Ten to Follow #TentoFollow

It's back!
Perhaps the greatest competition of all-time, it will capture your imagination, eat into your dreams, give you heartache and joy in the same race.
It is the return of the Tote Ten-to-Follow.
For newcomers to the competition, strategy is a major part of being involved to the end.
There are 15 bonus races of which 5 are handicaps, the Ladbrokes Trophy, the Grand National, plus the Welsh and Scottish Nationals, and the Bet365 Gold Cup. If you can include the winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy in your entry then you will have a horse that is likely to be contesting graded races for the remainder of the season. Personally, I would not attempt to include any speculative horses that may have a chance of winning the next Grand National, or the other Nationals.
Irish races are included in the points scoring, which is very important. In the original competition, finding an Irish-based hurdler to mop-up a handful of Grade-1 hurdle races was a good tactic.
With 500+ horses in the list, you have to sort out the most likely highest point scorers, and you should consider the profile of a typical Grade-1 winning chaser (there are only 4 hurdling bonus races, the Irish Champion hurdle and the Champion Hurdle (at Cheltenham) plus the Stayers Hurdle and the Aintree Hurdle). I would focus on chasers more than hurdlers as, for this coming season, the hurdling division could be under a state of flux.
Finally, there is a "transfer" period just before the Cheltenham Festival when you can swap a couple on your lists, and I would use this to remove any non-performers and replace them with a couple of novice chasers likely to win at the Festival and possibly follow-up at Aintree or Punchestown.
That is the other major change in this competition. It used to end with the Grand National, but extending to the end of the jumps season means that the Punchestown Festival is included.
Therefore it seems sensible, with the strength of the Mullins and Elliot stables in Ireland, to be overweight in their representatives.
As with all horseracing, there is no room for sentimentality, and this was proven yesterday when Altior was beaten by Cyrname at Ascot. Age catches-up with every horse and the number of Grade 1 races won by a 10yo or older at the Cheltenham Festival is tiny. So my first task is to delete from the list all horses aged 9yo or older (that includes Altior). I'm also not going to include any novice chasers - not until the transfer period, anyway.
For this competition, you have to focus on proven experience. You might strike lucky and find an Espoir D'Allen, but you are more likely to find a nil-points scorer.  Every horse in your entry has to pull its weight and score points.
So, what to include in the entry?
Buveur D'Air - dual Champion hurdler and multiple Grade 1 winner, very consistent and the best 2-mile hurdler around.
Paisley Park - easily the best 3-mile hurdler in training, and could well with 3 or 4 Grade 1 races this season.
That's my hurdlers (for now).
As for the chasers:-
Defi Du Seuil - Since his chase debut, he's only been beaten by Lonstintranslation and Chacun Pour Soi, and looks destined to win a number of Grade 1 races at up to 2m5f this season.
Lostintranslation - Stepping-up to 3-mile has been the making of him as he beat the RSA winner Topofthegame at Aintree, and proved he is one of the best staying chasers in training by winning the Betfair Chase on 23rd November.
Delta Work - was considered the best Irish novice chaser going into the Cheltenham Festival, but probably came into that race a year too soon (he's a 6yo). He could improve considerably this season and provide Gordon Elliot with a Gold Cup winner next March.
They are my initial "core", and over the next few days I will return to this blog and add some more entries and notes.
Finding the winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap run on 30th November would give any entry a flying start.  However, be warned that including a horse that is not the eventual winner on Saturday will leave you at a disadvantage for the rest of the season.  If you are having multiple entries, perhaps include a "Ladbrokes" horse in only 1-in-3 entries. T
hose that look best suited (at this time 24thNov) are 
Champagne Classic - 8yo trained by Gordon Elliot, top-class 3-mile hurdler and decent novice chaser. 
Talkischeap - 7yo trained by Alan King, won the 3m5f Bet365 handicap last April. 
On The Blind Side - 7yo trained by Nicky Henderson, beat Talkischeap over 3-mile at Kempton on 28Jan19. Ran well at Ascot on 02Nov without being pushed.
Others to consider are:-
Cyrname - the highest rated chaser in training, and likely to dominate races at trips up to 3-mile. However, this favourite for the King George has yet to run over 3-miles, never mind win at the trip.
Clan Des Obeaux - Last years King George winner, so proven top-class at the trip, and may yet improve again on that level this season.
Altior - the 9yo was beaten over 2m5f by Cyrname and it's probable that he will return to 2-mile, but not before trying 3-mile for the first time in the King George on Boxing Day.
Al Boum Photo - the latest Gold Cup winner, he's likely to stay in Ireland until March and could easily win 2 or 3 Grade 1 staying chases there.
Chacun Pour Soir - I'm not so sure about this one, he easily beat Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown in April but he may have been flattered by that result - we shall see.
A better 2-miler may be Sceau Royal who is proven top-class and has won 5 of his 9 chase races.
Henderson always has a strong stable, and I've never not been impressed by Janika, and this 6yo could get to the very top this season over 2m5f.
One horse who has "Grand National" written all over him is Crievehill; already rated OR155 after winning twice this Autumn, he goes well fresh and could be put-away for the worst of the winter before emerging next April.
Don't forget the mares, as there are some top-class mares in Ireland  such as:-
Benie Des Dieux, who can win multiple graded races over there.
We have had some late developments with the reinstatement of Kemboy, and the terrific performance of Kalashnikov in defeat at Newbury. If you combine the news about Kemboy with the likelihood of Al Boum Photo not running until February, it makes sense to include Kemboy rather than Al Boum Photo in the lists. 
The revised "core" of the entry is:-
To be advised....