Welcome to the World of Horseracing

Record of the blog selections

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%.


There are NO affiliate links on this site to bookies from whom the author receives over 30% of the stakes from your lost wagers.ising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Friday 20 December 2013

No valid reason for a wager

Horseracing steps up a bit today with a couple of good looking meetings at Ascot and Uttoxeter, and a fair few alert list runners. They are:-
The ground is soft at Ascot, and that usually means that it will be testing. Even so, the quality of racing today cannot be faulted, and the Grade 2 novice hurdle over 2-mile at 2:00pm looks very interesting with 5 of the 6 runners having won LTO. On ratings, the fav Volnay De Thaix is best but the German-bred Irving has only had 2 hurdle races - and won both - so could be a surprise package. I also think the ex-flat racer Prince Siegfried, who was very smart on the flat, could be a big improver today.
The 2:35 is a novice chase over 2m3f, and it looks a cracker even tho' only 4 go to post. Fox Appeal has been unfortunate to meet a decent one in his last couple of starts and has the best form on offer. Raya Star has not looked as good a chaser as he was a hurdler in his 2 starts to date, and as he never got a yard more than 2-mile over hurdles it is not easy to see him staying this trip today. UP TO SOMETHING is the best of the trio from my alert list in my opinion as he'll relish today's soft ground. Finally, you cannot discount the 4th horse in the race Mr Mole, who ran a great chase debut over 2-mile and will appreciate this soft ground, but the 2m3f trip may test his stamina. At the odds, UP TO SOMETHING is the best value at 6/1.
The Ascot 3:10 is a tricky 2m6f handicap hurdle with 12-runners. I'm not sure that this trip on soft ground is what Invicta Lake is looking for, but for VALID REASON who has won over C&D this trip will suit a lot more than the 3-mile he tackled LTO. The soft ground should not pose a problem either and (for me) the main problem's I have is the recent form of trainer and jockey. Neither trainer Dean Ivory, nor jockey Robert Thornton have won a race in the past couple of weeks, and that could be the reason for the decent odds available on VALID REASON.  That said, whenever Barry Geraghty comes over from Ireland to ride for Nicky Henderson you have to take note and so Polly Peachum has to be considered, especially as she is so lightly raced. Geraghty has 4 rides today, including Volnay De Thaix (see above) and the fav for the opener, Royal Boy; and I would expect him to win a couple today at Ascot.
Uttoxeter is a fairly ordinary meeting with nothing jumping out at me as potentially good value.
It would be great to send readers off with a winner today, but I am always loathe to wager in a 4-runner race so, that discounts UP TO SOMETHING even tho' the odds are tempting. The 11/1 about VALID REASON makes him an eachway possibility, but there has been a bit of a gamble on Andy Kelly from 13/2 in to 3/1, as well as strong support for Kilmurvy (9/2 from 15/2), so I am not confident enough to suggest a wager.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to issue a blog tomorrow (Saturday 21st) but, if not, I'll wish all readers a very merry Christmas and hopefully I'll be able to give you my annual Boxing Day "yankee" via twitter on Thursday.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Additions to the Alert List

No wagers recommended yesterday, and I missed a few short-priced losers!
After writing the blog, I thought MIDNIGHT PRAYER was nailed-on and had a personal wager at 15/8. Sure enough, he ran a great race, but he couldn't hold Benvolio. The winner had showed that he had a bright future when winning his final hurdle race in game style over 2m6f on heavy ground at Wincanton in February. He'd fallen at the 1st fence when favourite for his chasing debut, and so came into the race with something to prove. That he was able to give 3lb to MIDNIGHT PRAYER and a beating suggests he is well up to being a 150+ chaser and should be followed. Paul Nicholls (trainer of Benvolio) has his team firing on all cylinders, but the same cannot be said of Alan King's stable, and MIDNIGHT PRAYER can be given another chance.
BOBCATBILLY drifted in the betting before failing to run-on in his race and went down by under 2-lengths to be 3rd. The winner Cloudy Joker, has now won both his chase starts and both times has only done just enough to win.  MR MUDDLE lost the plot after making mistakes, and GULLINBURSTI (who had no easy task) was unable to cope with proven chasers Super Duty and race-winner Hadrian's Approach. At least King Massini scooted-up at Ludlow, having exposed the stamina limitations of Rydalis and Cootehill.
There are meetings at Exeter and Towcester today. The meeting at Exeter is a little disappointing; with perhaps the only highlight being the promise of a display of jumping from the Paul Nicholls horse BURY PARADE. Towcester is not much better, but that I have no alert list runners today helps be decide to keep my money in my pocket.
As such, I've been able to get ahead of myself in reviewing the form of last week's races in the Weekender (published yesterday), and I will be updating my alert list this afternoon. There were a couple of very interesting performances last week that caught my eye. For instance, on 10th December, BUCKING THE TREND looked a horse with a lot of potential when the 5yo won over 2m6f. He's only been raised 6lb for that win to OR128, but he looks a 140+ horse. I think I've found a few more like that, and there are also several already on my list that have slipped a couple of pounds despite running well over trips either too short or too long. For instance, both AL ALFA and SAVED BY JOHN have come down a couple of pounds.
No selections today, as there are better opportunities coming up in the next couple of days.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Is the Grand National still the toughest test?

Yesterday's horseracing wasn't up to much and didn't warrant a blog entry. As such, I pondered the jump racing scene and watched a few old video's on the internet, including a replay of the 1967 Grand National won by Foinavon. I was given a book token by one of my son's for my recent birthday, and used the proceeds to purchase the book "Foinavon – the story of the Grand National's biggest upset" written by David Owen (published by Wisden Sports Writing). This is a superbly written book which captures all the magical threads that make-up such an event, and weaves them together into a story that would make an incredible movie – except nobody would think it possible!
I remember watching the 1967 Grand National on a small black & white tv screen when I was aged only 7yo and the images are indelibly printed on my mind. It is a great shame in this increasingly commercial world that an event that happened nearly 46 years ago is not able to be shown on the internet for free except with "official" movietone or pathe film versions. The commentary of Irishman Michael O'Hehir, stationed at Becher's Brook, is one of live televisions greatest sound-bites and horseracing fans should not be denied access.
Reading the book and watching the videos has made me wonder whether, if Foinavon was running today, he would even get a run in the National. I've even started thinking - with all the modifications to the fences, the reduction in the distance of the race, and the movement in the racing calendar (from 1st Saturday in April to the 2nd Saturday in April) which virtually guarantees good ground – is the Grand National still the toughest test for horse and rider in the National Hunt calendar?
Onto today's racing, and we have a couple of decent meetings at Newbury and Ludlow. I don't like being critical of the easyodds alert system as it has done me proud over the past 4 years since I started using is but, since they updated the site about 3 weeks ago, it has become a real trial updating my alert list and it is affecting my performance. In the 12:50 at Ludlow, my alert list runner is BOBCATBILLY who impressed me when winning his chase debut LTO over C&D. He's been raised 8lb for that win to OR118 but that should not stop him, even so this looks competitive. At odds of just 2/1, he's not a value wager, and in this 8-runner race it may be worthwhile looking at an eachway wager on Be All Man who tries this 2m4f trip for the first time as a chaser but has won over 2m4f as a hurdler and is 7/1.
Next up in the 2:25 at Ludlow is RYDALIS. I'm not sure this hors stays 3-mile even tho' he's a C&D winner on soft ground (actually dead-heated having looked the winner when clear at the last fence). I was on Cootehill LTO when he only just failed over 3m2f here and he's another "plodder" beyond 2m4f who has gone up 5lb for that last run which looks harsh. As such, this race looks at the mercy King Massini, and the odds of 2/1 (BetVictor and Stan James) look generous, as he's 13/8 in places.
At Newbury, I have a few alert runners entered, starting with a couple in the 12:40 GAS LINE BOY and MIDNIGHT PRAYER. Altho' I think Gas Line Boy looks on a rating he can win from, MIDNIGHT PRAYER could end up a 150+ rated horse before the end of this season and current odds of 15/8 look very generous.
In the 1:40 at Newbury, alert horse MR MUDDLE makes a fairly quick reappearance for Sheena West and this game horse looks ahead of the handicapper and, having won over 2m5f as a hurdler, this trip of 2m2f & 110 yards is within his scope as a chaser. Again, odds of 2/1 look interesting.
Finally, in the 2:15 we have alert list runner GULLINBURSTI, and this is no easy task with the opposition – Poungach, Super Duty, Hadrian's Approach - all proven chasers. The highest rated, and best off at the weights, is GULLINBURSTI but the best odds available of just 7/4 leave no room for error.
With none of my alert list runners trading at odds of 9/4 or greater, I'm not advising a wager today.

Monday 16 December 2013

Weekend Review 14-15 December

Saturday's blog selection GRANDIOSO unfortunately pulled-up injured about halfway thru' the feature race at Cheltenham on Saturday. Early indications are that the cause was a muscle strain which probably happened at the 2nd fence when the horse stretched for a clearance having taken a jump half-a-stride too early. This was very disappointing as I'd narrowed the race down to GRANDIOSO and Cantlow, and the latter ran a great race to be 2nd. I'm sure GRANDIOSO would have been very close to, if not in front of, Cantlow on Saturday had he completed.
The winner Double Ross was a bit of a surprise for me as I did not think he was up to winning this race on good ground as all of his best form has been on soft/heavy – and even his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies admitted he nearly pulled the horse out of the race because of the ground. That said, he came into the race on a handy mark of OR133 compared to his hurdles rating of OR138 and he had run well off OR141-142 over hurdles last season. Altho' technically a novice chaser, he did have a couple of chase runs without success in October 2012, so you could say he was a 2nd-season chaser. He also runs well at Cheltenham having beaten the useful Close House over 2m5f (on soft ground) in November 2012 with some other decent horses well beaten (eg: Captain Sunshine and Ruben Cotter). That put him on my alert list for last season as a hurdler, and he repaid my support when he returned to Cheltenham for the "Martin Pipe" (conditional jockeys handicap hurdle) at the Festival in March this year when he was 3rd. By my reckoning, he didn't have to improve much on his earlier efforts this season over fences to win this but he did nearly throw it away as he is so one-paced at the finish. He does relish a strong gallop and that managed to see-off most of the challengers meaning he went into the final fence with a 5-length lead and only Cantlow – who also loves Cheltenham having run 3rd to high-class Cape Tribulation in the 3-mile Pertemps Final handicap hurdle in 2012 – looked like catching him on the run-in.
Of the other alert runners out on Saturday, LE BEC was disappointing and does not look to be improving. DRUMSHAMBO had previously run 4th in the "Johnny Henderson" at the Cheltenham Festival last March, so the track was not an issue on Saturday, perhaps he is in need of a break. GREYWELL BOY is perhaps best on a flat track as he looks well handicapped on earlier form, so I'll give him another chance. PARSNIP PETE is another thought not to have acted on the track, tho' this horse is starting to frustrate me. SAVED BY JOHN is a lot better than this run and I'd like to see him stepped-up to 20f.
CANTLOW ran a cracker (see above) and is one I'd like to see tackle further than 2m5f.  COLOUR SQUADRON continues to flatter but this was a career best effort and perhaps we'll see the best of him on soft ground.  JOHNS SPIRIT seems to have reached his handicap ceiling, but we had a good run on him with a couple of wins. SILVER ROQUE is best fresh and is on the list for when he returns after a couple of months off the track. TAP NIGHT needs it soft/heavy to show his best, and he's dropped from OR153 following his 2nd at Aintree in April.
MORE OF THAT and SALUBRIOUS came 1st & 2nd in the 4-runner Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) returning an Exacta dividend of £16.60 to a £1 stake. Both of these hurdlers are improving fast tho' the drop in trip was the wrong move for SALUBRIOUS in my opinion. MORE OF THAT maintained his unbeaten run and extended it to 4 wins. He's been on my alert list since winning his racecourse debut but, even tho' he's won 3 times this autumn, I'm yet to have a wager on him! This 5yo is a full brother to Eastlake who won the 2-mil2 & half-furlong chase earlier on the same card and, being a much better horse than Eastlake; a very exciting future lies ahead.
HAZY TOM was very disappointing and it is impossible to know when to catch this talented horse right. He beat Cantlow at level weights in November 2012, but he'd have met his old rival on 8lb better terms on Saturday and would've been well beaten. He's off the list for good.
NIGHT IN MILAN has been on my alert list since running 3rd to Chac Du Cadran in the North Yorkshire National. This horse is a very good 3-mile chaser (tho' his stamina cannot be relied upon beyond 3m1f) and he went one-better than his 2nd in the same race last year at Doncaster. This has to go down as a missed opportunity for me. He held his form well last season and so long as he's not raced on soft/heavy or beyond 3m1f, then he can be followed.  LOST GLORY has only ever won (or shown any decent form) between the months of May and October.
BLACK THUNDER won as he liked and I think he could be a real RSA horse, he has much more potential than any of the novice chasers that ran at Cheltenham.
DOLATULO confirmed the good impression he made when running well at Stratford in October. He's best at trips up to 2m4f and, so long as he's raced on good-to-soft or better ground. HI NOTE was disappointing and will probably be rested now until the Spring of 2014 as this was his 18th race of 2013 (flat and jumps).  
No selections today.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Paul Nicholls to have a grand day

There was no selection for the blog yesterday, altho’ I was right in my narrative about horse alert runner AL ALFA who stayed-on to be 4th. It was disappointing to see Wonderful Charm being beaten, but Oscar Whisky could turn out to be a very good novice chaser. I’m not sure when the last 9yo novice chaser won at the Cheltenham Festival, but he may be interesting in some of the handicaps next spring.

We have a lot of racing on Saturday with meetings at Cheltenham, Doncaster, and Lingfield. The hunt is on for a winner and there are quite a few alert runners
Cheltenham 12:40 – LE BEC
Cheltenham 3:35 – MORE OF THAT, SALUBRIOUS,
Doncaster 2:40 – HAZY TOM
Lingfield 1:55 – BLACK THUNDER
Lingfield 2:30 – DOLATULO, HI NOTE

Cheltenham starts off with a 4yo hurdle, and then a disappointing 4-runner novice chase including LE BEC. I’m not sure this horse really acts at this extended 3-mile trip as he looked lucky to hold on to the lead LTO over C&D. The 2-mile handicap chase at 1:15 looks an absolute cracker of a race and is too competitive to call.

The feature race, the 2m5f chase handicap at 2:25 looks potentially quite weak in depth. Those at the head of the market: Johns Spirit (9/2) and Colour Squadron (9/2), deserve to be their but, behind them only Grandioso (6/1) and Cantlow (9/1) look worthy challengers. I can see Johns Spirit being rated over OR150 before the end of this season so, off OR148 he looks close to his ceiling. Still a maiden over fences, Colour Squadron is poor value for a race like this at 9/2 and should be trading at longer odds. Grandioso is the most interesting as he ran like he needed a run LTO yet still produced a performance of equal to his efforts last season. He could improve a whole lot in this race and it is not difficult to see him running 10lb better than LTO when 3rd to Cantlow. GRANDIOSO meets Cantlow on 4lb better terms today and that AP McCoy has swapped Cantlow for Colour Squadron is telling. For me, current odds of 8/1 about GRANDIOSO look the best value in the race.
GRANDIOSO is my only selection today.


Cheltenham 2:40 GRANDIOSO, £10 win @ 8/1 – choose a BOG bookie such as Bet365, BetVictor or Paddy Power.

Friday 13 December 2013

Cheltenham Friday

There was no selection for the blog yesterday, tho' I did write that (should he be fit) Riverside Theatre had a huge chance at the weights, and he duly won fairly comfortably - even after looking a beaten horse 3-out. Captain Chris managed to be 3rd, so if you'd had an eachway wager on him in the morning when he was 4/1 you would have finished "even".
Onto today and there are quite a few horse alert runners at Cheltenham, plus a couple at Bangor.
Cheltenham 1:05 – AL ALFA
Cheltenham 1:40 - MAXI CHOP
Cheltenham 2:10 – EMPEROR'S CHOICE
At Cheltenham, I think WONDERFUL CHARM will really cement himself as a top staying novice chaser in the 12:30 over 2m5f. He's so far won all 3 of his chase starts to date – trainer Paul Nicholls is taking no chances with this one going to the next Cheltenham Festival in March lacking any education over fences – and he'll take all the beating today. In opposition, Oscar Whisky is on a recovery mission and I cannot see him defeating WONDERFUL CHARM. David Pipe clearly thinks a lot of CLOSE HOUSE to send him into this race on his chase debut, but I'm expecting this one to be a 3-mile chaser in time.
The 1:05 which is a handicap chase over 2m5f for conditional jockeys, has 17 runners and looks very competitive. No horse has won this race with more than 11st 5lb in the past 10 years, and the longest priced winner was 14/1, so it may be best to use those to filter the likely winner. Alert list runner AL ALFA fits this criteria with only 11st 4lb to carry and with current odds about 12/1. Also, being a front runner, he'll be thereabouts thru'out. Today's "good" ground is in his favour and he should make the 1st-4 places if his jumping holds up.
The 1:40 see's alert runner MAXI CHOP return to Cheltenham. He was 4th here last month, and both those horse that finished in front of him that have run again since have won. That was good form and this horse does not know how to run a bad race. Today's odds are tight tho' even with Uhlan Bute in the race, but it is very hard to see MAXI CHOP not being in the 1st-3 home.
The 2:10 is a handicap chase over 3m1f & 110 yards, in which alert runner EMPEROR'S CHOICE goes to post. This horse ran a stinker LTO at Fontwell in the Southern National and it could be he needed that run as trip and ground were in his favour. Today's ground tho' isn't in his favour, as he likes it soft/heavy. One horse I know well in this is Prince Of Pirates as he stopped me having a 66/1 winner with Circus Of Dreams at Kempton last February. Prince Of Pirates will love todays ground and stays this trip well; he's also only rated 1lb higher on OR136 than he was when he won last February. With AP McCoy riding he must be in the shake-up, but odds of 5/1 leave no room for value. Saying that, Hennessy 3rd Theatre Guide may well have not recovered from that race even tho' he does look well handicapped having been raised only 2lb for that run, and Monbeg Dude is another horse that would prefer it soft/heavy. Duke Of Lucca may have won at Cheltenham before but it was only a 4-runner novice chase and I don't think he'll handle this track.  As such, 5/1 about Prince Of Pirates looks interesting and he should be in the 1st-3.
The race at Bangor at 12:10 is for watching only as it looks very competitive.
No vlaue to be found in my opinion, so no recommended wagers from me today.

Thursday 12 December 2013

FOXCUB scores without my support!

Yesterday, I pondered long and hard over FOXCUB before deciding odds of 4/1 were not value. The horse completely blew those doubts away, romping home by 5-lengths with the field well strung out behind him. Even the mysterious French import (which was the main reason for my indecision) Garde Ville, running for David Pipe and in receipt of 19lb from FOXCUB, never got a look-in. The best decisions are always made in hindsight and I was being over-cautious. Then again BALBRIGGAN, who I thought was a shoo-in for the earlier chase handicap, had nothing left to give once relinquishing the lead 4-out and finsihed 3rd of the 4-runners.
Sometimes it would be a lot easier for me not to be writing the blog, as there is a responsibility to post wagers with a better chance of winning than their odds suggest. Although the blog remains in handsome profit for the jumps season to date, this recent run of results has taken the edge off my confidence. I'm sure 10 days ago I'd have had no problem making FOXCUB a solid win wager but I've gone a couple of weeks now without a winner. Yesterday evening I could not see why I'd looked this gift-horse in the mouth and rejected it.
Yesterday's blog selection SPEEDY BRUERE came in a distant 3rd behind the two market leaders. It was a case of either not being fit enough or good enough but, at the odds of 12/1 in a 7-runner race and with possibly 4 of those not being capable of being involved, it was a gamble worth taking that the selection would be in the 1st-2 home. SPEEDY BRUERE did well last season as a novice chaser and can do well again, on the back of this run, when returning to chasing.
We have a good 2-day meeting at Cheltenham on Friday and Saturday, and there looks like being some wagering opportunities coming up.  I also have my office Christmas party on Friday evening, so It is likely I'll be writing my Saturday blog on Friday afternoon as I doubt I'll have the concentration to do any meaningful form-study on Saturday morning.
There are no alert runners entered today, but we do have a great meeting at Huntingdon with the feature race being the Peterborough Chase over 2m4f & 110 yards.  The market leaders are Captain Chris and Riverside Theatre, but both of those are having their seasonal debut today. Of the pair, if they are both at their best then – at the weights – Riverside Theatre has a huge chance as he's in-receipt of 10lb from Captain Chris. The 6yo Module should be involved in the finish if his improvement is confirmed today – and he stays this trip. One who could surprise today in this is Ghizao who stays this trip and acts going right-handed, and (based on the form of his 3rd to Cue Card and Captain Chris at Ascot in February) could be bang there at the finish if he's fit enough. Given the way the Paul Nicholls horses are running, that may well be taken as read. An eachway wager on Captain Chris @ 4/1 with Stan James who are quarter-odds 1st & 2nd for the place would seem the most logical bet.
No recommended wagers from me today.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Unlucky yet again!

Yet another 2nd for the blog selection as FIRM ORDER – dropped out early and then brought smoothly thru' the small field into 2nd place 3-out when he looked the most likely winner – came to challenge the long-term leader Pete The Feat at the final fence whereupon the leader gave him a bump as he jumped, hampering our selection. FIRM ORDER was unable to get back on terms on the run-in and went down by under 2-lengths. This trip is probably at the extreme of the stamina limitation of FIRM ORDER and I think that, without the final fence bump from the eventual winner, he'd have taken the race.  We have to feel a bit aggrieved at the turn of events in this race.
It was even more painful as FIRM ORDER had drifted out to an SP of 6/1. Knowing he'd drop out early, as he had at Sandown LTO, I had another £5 on in-running when he went to 14.00 on the exchanges and altho' FIRM ORDER never went odds-on in-running; he did trade at well under 3.00. A word for the other horse-alert runner ON TREND and that is that this horse clearly needs plenty of give in the ground to show his best form. His day will come: as I wrote yesterday he needs it "soft/heavy as all his best form has been on ground with plenty of depth, and a right-handed track".
My other alert runner VALID POINT jumped well-enough but was outclassed. This race was also a good lesson in why it does not pay to wager on odds-on chances in jump racing. The odds-on fav African Gold came to win the race at the 3rd-last fence going upsides the leader, but missed a stride (being a novice chaser) and promptly walked thru' the fence going down in the process. He was very lucky he wasn't very badly hurt.
It is a fairly ordinary day of racing today with a couple of meetings at Leicester and Hexham. We have several alert list runners, who all are running at Leicester. In the 12:40 we have SPEEDY BRUERE, in the 2:10 it is BALBRIGGAN, and in the 3:10 it is our "unlucky" old friend, FOXCUB.
Firstly FOXCUB, who has today's trip in his favour, comes here in tip-top form having looked like being a runaway winner for followers of the blog LTO till he skewed the final flight and tipped his jockey out the side door. He has been raised 8lb for that effort to OR127 and I think he's capable of defying that re-rating. What worries me more is that the ground today has some give in it being good-to-soft. I think he should win this today, providing the ground is not too soft, as it looks a weak race on paper apart from the mysterious French import Garde Ville running for David Pipe. Garde Ville receives 19lb from FOXCUB and really is the spanner in the works of this race. At odds of 4/1, it hurts me to write it, but I think there's not enough value for a win wager on FOXCUB.
BALBRIGGAN should win the 2:10 as he looked a well-handicapped winner LTO over C&D and carries only a 7lb penalty for that win, effectively racing off OR122 today. I think he's an OR135+ chaser in the making, possibly OR140+ as he is only a 6yo. Unfortunately, current odds are only 6/5 and that is too short for me to recommend as a wager.
SPEEDY BRUERE is more interesting in the 12:40. This horse was chasing last season ending the season on OR123. Today's trip and ground are perfect for him and he has his first hurdle race in the UK today, so is completely unexposed in this sphere. He was off the track from August 2010 till 16th December last year and this very lightly race 7yo could be one for the forecasts in this 7-runner race. The hot-fav is the Paul Nicholls horse Silsol who is expected to win today, but the 2nd fav Algernon Pazham will need to improve on his form to-date and prove his stamina for this trip to be in the shake-up. SPEEDY BRUERE will be prominent thru'out making this a proper race and, providing he's fit enough, he could have them all off the bridle in the last half-mile. Odds of 12/1 cannot be ignored and he is an eachway selection.
Leicester 12:40 SPEEDY BRUERE, £5 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, choose BOG bookie)

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Time to place a Firm Order

Tuesday brings us a couple of meetings at Fontwell and Uttoxeter and, as you might expect after I suggested taking a back seat yesterday on the run-up to Christmas, there are several horse alert runners that look more than interesting.
The horse alert runners are: Fontwell – there are a couple in the same race; FIRM ORDER and ON TREND in the 2:10 which is a chase handicap over 3m2f & 110 yards. At Uttoxeter we have VALID POINT in the 12:50.
I quite like Fontwell as it seems to be a fair track, being level and left-handed. The ground there today is "good" and that will certainly be in favour of FIRM ORDER who ran out of puff on soft/hevy ground at Sandown on his latest run when looking like going close with 3 to jump. What I liked about that performance was the tactical speed he showed on the 2nd circuit as he went from tracking the field to disputing the lead in about quarter-of-a-mile. As such, he certainly looks up to winning of today's rating of OR124. As for ON TREND in the same race, ever since he won (he was a blog selection too) at Sandown on 2nd February this year on heavy ground, I've been waiting for an opportunity to follow-up. He's slipped in the ratings from OR139 to OR133 but I've felt that either the course wasn't right for him (he's raced at Cheltenham twice since which is a track that doesn't suit him) or the ground was too quick for him. He needs it soft/heavy as all his best form has been on ground with plenty of depth, and a right-handed track. Thing is, apart from FIRM ORDER, this race looks a bit weak and there is not much separating that pair. Of the others in the race: Pete The Feat has looked a shadow of himself since running 3rd off OR134 at Warwick in January and he races off OR135 today. Financial Climate just does not look good enough and will need a career best off OR118 to win this. Curtain Raiser is basically a novice chaser having only his 2nd outing over fences. The 12yo Eleazar won over C&D LTO on 4th October and has been raised 7lb for that win. He would need to improve a fair few pounds on that winning effort to take this and while not impossible an outcome, I'd say further improvement is unlikely.
For me, FIRM ORDER is the most likely winner. Trainer Paul Webber has sent only 6 chasers to Fontwell in the past 5 years and 3 have won, which suggests he means business today and has probably targeted this race. The fitting of a 1st-time visor further suggests that connections will be hoping for an improved run today. Current best odds of 4/1 on this runner look fair.
Unfortunately, at Uttoxeter, VALID POINT has gone novice chasing today. He's run in 3 chases before and not shown as much aptitude in that sphere as he has hurdling, so I really cannot have a wager on him today. I do think there is more scope for VALID POINT back over hurdles  
Do I have a selection today? I think FIRM ORDER has a better than 4/1 chance of winning, but then I think the same of ON TREND who is also trading at 4/1. I'd have them at 11/4 and 3/1 respectively. I'll probably have a small "saver" straight exacta on the Tote - ON TREND to beat FIRM ORDER in addition to the recommeded wager.
Fontwell 2:10 FIRM ORDER, £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally, choose BOG bookie)

Monday 9 December 2013

Saturday wipe-out

Saturday was not the best of days for followers of the blog. It was a complete wipe-out. It was particularly galling as a previous "2pt win" selection RENARD stormed home at Chepstow confirming the faith I had in him LTO when he put in a lacklustre display despite starting favourite. On Saturday, RENARD went un-backed as his morning odds were less than my minimum of 9/4, and he eventually went off at an SP of 7/4.
Having missed a potential big winner on Friday at Sandown with MERRION SQUARE who went down by just a neck at 7/1, I know that all that is missing at the moment is a tiny bit of luck. Looking thru' my results from last year, I note that I also hit a dry spell in December 2012 and perhaps there is a reason for not getting the winners. Finding winners on the Aintree "National" circuit is always tricky, and none of my horse alert runners (of which there were 4) even managed to get a look in for the Becher Chase. Neither did the other couple of selections that I posted on http://www.gallopslive.com/  - ROBERTO GOLDBACK and IKORODU ROAD. Later in the afternoon, MIDNIGHT APPEAL never looked happy over the National fences despite making some progress mid-race before a mistake paid for his chance altogether.
The meeting at Sandown was no better. None of the well fancied runners MRS PEACHEY, WHISPER, UPSWING or BALDER SUCCES found the winners enclosure. I was convinced VULCANITE wanted a drop in trip to 2-mile but, perhaps, he's lost his enthusiasm for the game. Certainly SIRE DE GRUGY won well, but only at odds of 7/4. But BRADLEY, BUDDY BOLERO, and GODSMEJUDGE all ran stinkers in the London National.
At Chepstow, ROUDOUDOU VILLE stayed-on to be 4th and would have repaid eachway punters had the 33/1 UK hurdling debutant Aubusson not stayed best of all. I was gutted there was not a better effort from QUARTZ DE THAIX. This horse came good for me twice last season at this time of year over this sort of trip and ground, so there were no excuses.
So – who did come good at the weekend? It was trainer PAUL NICHOLLS, who sent out 14 runners on Saturday and recorded 5 winners at odds of 9/1, 16/1, 5/2, 13/2, and 8/1. He also sent out hjust the one runner yesterday – MR MOLE went to Warwick where he won at 13/8. There have been some who have wondered when Nicholls would "hit form", but his chasers have been winning well since 1st October – he's had 26 winners from 83 runners in chase races since 1st October, that's a 31%+ strike-rate. In the same period (1st October to 31st December) last year, Nicholls had 25 winners from 97 chase runners; that's a 25.7% strike-rate.
On the run-up to Christmas, I'm taking a bit of a back-seat mainly to consolidate my thoughts on recent formlines as it may be that I'm not being ruthless enough with my alert list selections. The blog is still showing a healthy profit for the season, but nobody likes losing runs.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Big day ahead - early Christmas present

We opened yesterday with a winner when VIOLET DANCER won easily at the very attractive odds of 9/4. As I wrote, if the fav Sweet Deal was trained by anyone else other than Nicky Henderson, then VIOLET DANCER would be odds-on – “I think odds of 6/4 are good value.“ At times, I wish I was at the races rather than at my office desk as, at 9/4 VIOLET DANCER would have been a 2pt or £80 win wager. This is why I write a narrative behind my selections: At less than 9/4 (the minimum odds at which I advise a wager) VIOLET DANCER was a “no-bet”, but – at 9/4 – he was serious good value, and I hope readers took advantage.

Unfortunately, our blog selection MERRION SQUARE was 2nd and went down by just a neck! despite looking the most likely winner at the final fence. I was certainly expecting a big run, and that’s what we got, but it was not enough on the day. Still, we only lost a few quid thanks to the place wager.
I was right to side-step Foundation Man, who looked a bit jaded and never justified being the 11/4 joint fav in the race won by The Italian Yob. Don’t give up on Foundation Man tho’, being a half bro’ to Captain Chris he’ll make good use of his lenient OR120 rating. Unfortunately, Rolling Aces was undone tactically by jockey Jamie Moore on Vino Griego. The pace was never strong enough in this 3-runner race and Vino Griego was able to stalk Rolling Aces and pick him off on the run-in. Harry Topper was exposed as a poor jumper of a fence. Finally yesterday, Bally Legend scraped-home by a nose as he idled in front and was almost caught on the line. As I wrote yesterday, Caroline Keevil’s horses don’t run well at Exeter (she’s now only 3 wins from 61 runners there) and I’m glad I took the early 100/30 to small money.

Onto today and what a cracking day of racing we have ahead, with meetings at Aintree, Sandown, Chepstow and Wetherby. Before I go on, I have written a “Guest Blog” for the website www.gallopslive.com under my blog name of Wayward Lad, and the race I have chosen to focus on is the Becher Chase. Please take a visit to the site via the link as there is plenty going on there with some great bloggers and tipsters. Whatever happens with the Becher Chase, I won’t be using the result as part of my stats record for this blog – and I’ve tipped a runner currently at 22/1 with Stan James that I think has a great chance that is NOT one from my alert list.

There is plenty to be getting on with so without further ado, let’s get stuck in. The Horse Alerts:-
Sandown 12:50 – MRS PEACHEY
Sandown 1:20 - UPSWING, and WHISPER
Sandown 1:50 – BALDER SUCCES
Sandown 2:25 – VULCANITE, and WATERUNDER
Sandown 3:00 – VIVA COLONIA, and SIRE DE GRUGY
Chepstow 12:25 – ROUDOUDOU VILLE
Chepstow 12:55 – MIDNIGHT PRAYER
Chepstow 2:00 – QUARTZ DE THAIX
Chepstow 3:10 - RENARD

I’m giving the 1:00 a miss as CLONDAW KAEMPFER is on a recovery mission. I’ve looked at the 2:05 “Becher Chase” on the website www.gallopslive.com under my blog name of Wayward Lad. The 2:40 looks a better proposition as KATENKO stands head & shoulders above these in terms of ability on last season’s form, but odds of 9/4 currently available are borderline value. The 3:15 sees the return of our 25/1 hero MIDNIGHT APPEAL and we should not overlook his chance. He may have been raised 7lb by the handicapper, but that (in my opinion) is not enough for this much underrated chaser. Current odds of 8/1 look fair value even tho’ I think he’d have taken all the beating in the 3m2f Becher Chase and would have preferred him to go for that race instead.

This meeting has lost some of its shine with Sprinter Sacre not taking part in the Tingle Creek Chase. However, we have what look like some good opportunities. In the 12:50 we see the useful mare MRS PEACHEY. When you find a good mare then is pays to stick with her as mares-only races are a bit weak The 2:25 a 2-mile hurdle handicap, looks very interesting as I’ve been waiting for some time for VULCANITE to drop back in trip to 2-mile as he barely stays a yard further. I was hoping he’d go for a 2-mile chase, but we will have to make do with this hurdle. The last time he ran in a hurdle over this sort of trip, VULCANITE won well and I think he’s a better horse now. The ground isn’t soft enough for WATERUNDER but he should be in the shake-up. The Tingle Creek Chase should go to SIRE DE GRUGY but I’m not prepared to have a wager at the current odds. This 2-mile trip is too short for VIVA COLONIA and he’s outclassed anyhow. The final race on the Sandown card is a cracker – the London National over 3m5f & 110yards.  I think all of my horse alert runners BRADLEY, BUDDY BOLERO, and GODSMEJUDGE have good chances in this race. and I will be combining them in 3 “swingers” on the Tote.

When I saw the declarations for the 3-mile chase at 2:00, QUARTZ DE THAIX stood out, and with odds at 10/1 (Stan James and Paddy Power) he has to be an eachway wager. I think RENARD has a great chance in the 3:10, but the odds are too tight for a wager. And don’t forget to look for ROUDOUDOU VILLE. Off the track for a very long time, this horse was seriously talented in 2011 (gave Midnight Appeal 13lb and a 4-length beating) and if anywhere near that level the 16/1 on offer now will look live an early Christmas present. Well worth a couple of quid if your in the bookies.

Aintree 3:15 MIDNIGHT APPEAL, £5 eachway @ 8/1 with Bet Victor & Bet365
Sandown 2:25 VULCANITE, £5 eachway @ 16/1 with Stan James
Chepstow 2:00 QUARTZ DE THAIX, £5 eachway @ 10/1 with Stan James

Total Staked = £30

Friday 6 December 2013

Rolling Aces to confirm promise

It was a very disappointing effort from Duke Of Monmouth yesterday but, perhaps, it may have been down to the awful weather that hit the Market Rasen track in the early afternoon. The high winds were accompanied with driving rain and the ground was fairly soft and, right from the start, Duke Of Monmouth was not happy. He brushed thru' the top of the 1st fence and was soon being bustled along by his rider – the writing was on the wall before they had run a mile. I'm never happy when I don't get a run for my money, but the conditions at Market Rasen looked very testing for this novice chase.
Onto today, and we have a couple of decent meetings at Sandown and Exeter. We also have a few runners from the alert list with BALLY LEGEND in the 3:15 at Exeter, and VIOLET DANCER in the 12:35; FOUNDATION MAN in the 1:10, OSCAR FORTUNE in the 1:45 and ROLLING ACES and HARRY TOPPER in the 2:20, and finally MERRION SQUARE in the 2:55 – all the latter bunch at Sandown.
I think VIOLET DANCER looks a great prospect and this half-bro' to the hurdler Chris Pea Green has a good future ahead. At odds of 6/4, he is too short for me to recommend but, if the fav Sweet Deal was trained by anyone else other than Nicky Henderson, then VIOLET DANCER would be odds-on for this race. I think odds of 6/4 are good value.
The 3-runner "Future Stars Chase" at 2:20 is a virtual dual between HARRY TOPPER and ROLLING ACES, as the other runner Vino Griego isn't up to their ability. On official ratings, ROLLING ACES is a 3lb better horse, but I'd have the difference in ability a bit more than that. I really cannot see ROLLING ACES being beaten in this race, and I snapped-up odds of "evens" on the way into work. I have combined VIOLET DANCER and ROLLING ACES in a small win double.
The 1:45 at Sandown looks a tremendous novice hurdle at this stage of the season and alert horse OSCAR FORTUNE may have his hands full in this. Connections reckon he'll be best at 3-mile and, as such, I'm going to pass over him in this race as (with only 6 runners) he will find it tough to be in the places. I am more interested in the earlier race at 1:10 which has alert runner FOUNDATION MAN. The horse has a lot of potential being a half bro; to Captain Chris and an OR120 rating could be very lenient. His odds tho' are skinny at just 3/1 and I'd prefer another half-point and 7/2. It may seem like I'm being picky, but he is a novice chaser who is having his 3rd run in 7 weeks today.
Finally at Sandown we have alert runner MERRION SQUARE in the 2:55. Before I go on, having a wager in amateur rider races is not my idea of fun as the fortunes of your chance can ebb and flow very quickly due to the inability of the riders. MERRION SQUARE has already been the subject of a wager back on 12th October and he comes into this race well prepared. All his best form is going right-handed, the ground is in his favour and he's dropped 4lb in the handicap to OR129. Currently at odds of 7/1 across the board he looks good value providing his rider stays in the saddle. Paul Nicholls loves Sandown, and these amateur races, so I expect a big run from MERRION SQUARE.
At Exeter we have just BALLY LEGEND running from the alert list in the 3:15. I had a wager on this one when he was 2nd LTO last week at Kempton and, on reflection that was a great effort. Trainer Caroline Keevil always has her horses well prepared to run, and it is unlikely that he won't run to his best today. There is just the one doubt and that is Keevil's record at Exeter which is poor, no other way to describe it. In the past 5 years she's sent 59 runners to Exeter for only 2 winners – both in hurdles. She's not had a winner from her 17 chase entries. It is important to take account of such evidence as clearly she's doing something wrong when coming to Exeter. What it is, I don't know, but it is interesting to note that her best tracks (stats wise) are the Sussex track Plumpton and Fontwell. She does slightly better at Taunton but, generally, if she travels more than 75 miles from her Dorset base her horses don't seem to perform well. Odds of 100/30 are good value when looking at the formbook, but that track record is a worry.
As such, I'm recommending having just the one wager today:-
Sandown 2:55 MERRION SQUARE, £5 eachway & £5 win @ 7/1 (Bet365, BetVictor, Stan James, Ladbrokes etc all go BOG, and are 5th odds a place)
Total Staked = £15

Thursday 5 December 2013

Close call for Cootehill

My racing mind continues to play tricks with Pickamus yesterday making a real monkey of me by staying-on to hold off the one horse in the race that I thought looked value, Cootehill in the 2:10 at Ludlow. I did write that Cootehill was a bit one-paced at the business end and, sure enough, that was his only fault yesterday (tho' a poor jump at the 3rd-last didn't help). I did think Pickamus had run out of puff about 5-out when he really clouted a fence and looked unsteady afterwards but, fair play, his jockey coaxed him back into a good rhythm again. Cootehill cruised thru' the 2nd circuit and looked the most likely winner before 3-out but a mistake at that one did for him and he had nothing left in the tank to pass the leader. Still, I hope readers took the 10/1 eachway (as I did) as you certainly got a run for your money.
As for Pickamus, I  have a long connection with this horse as he was on my horses-to-follow list for the 2010-11 jumps season when I thought he'd develop into a 140+ chaser over 20-22f. I've never really thought of 3-mile (or further) being his optimum trip, and I still don't. He's not had much luck since I put him on my alert list back in 2010, but his best ever performance in my opinion was his 2nd at Stratford on 22nd October 2011 over 2m6f when he ran to a speed rating of 131. That matched the speed rating he achieved at the same track on 18th April 2010 over 2m4f.
There are a couple of meetings today at Leicester and Market Rasen, but the fare on offer looks fairly drab and unexciting. That said, there is a horse alert runner of mine out today, DUKE OF MONMOUTH in the 1:20 at Market Rasen. This is a 3m1f novice chase, and Duke Of Monmouth won LTO on his 2nd chase race. I always thought this horse was only lacking a change of gears at the business end to be a decent staying hurdler last season, as he is very game but just a bit one-paced. Chasing could well be the making of him and this race looks a bit weak, apart from the promising John Quinn trained Distime. That horse has been off the track a long time, not having run since 27th Oct 2012 and, altho' I respect John Quinn a lot, Distime hasn't shown the stamina to stay this trip in a couple of attempts over hurdles and his best form in that sphere was over 2m4f. There is also some support for Young Hurricane who also won LTO and trainer Dr Richard Newland has secured the services of AP McCoy in the saddle. DUKE OF MONMOUTH was a much better hurdler than Young Hurricane and is only conceding the latter 1lb today and, at 5/1 (available generally) the value looks to be with DUKE OF MONMOUTH to come on again for his recent win.
This weekend, the racing available is top notch and there is probably too much quality racing for one day. We have a couple of races over the National fences at Aintree, the fantastic "Tingle Creek" meeting at Sandown, plus supporting meetings at Chepstow and Wetherby. I've already scanned the entries this morning on the way to work and there are a couple that stand out for me, and we could be having a maximum wager on Saturday. The only disappointment is that my recent 25/1 winner MIDNIGHT APPEAL goes for the "Grand Sefton" chase over 2m5f & 110 yards, rather than the Becher Handicap over 3m2f. I think the race his trainer (Alan King) has opted for is the more competitive, and I think he'd be a shoo-in for the "Becher".
Just the one selection today and, being a novice chase, just the minimum wager.
Market Rasen1:20, DUKE OF MONMOUTH, £10 win @ 5/1 (Bet Victor, or Betfred who  both go best-odds-guaranteed)

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Decent meetings for a Wednesday

Wouldn't you just believe it! What did I write about BILLY CUCKOO yesterday?
If Billy Cuckoo was back to the form he showed last season, he could be interesting. He is a confirmed front runner and quite a game one at that, so this tight Southwell circuit will play to his strengths. Billy Cuckoo did need a run last season but his seasonal debut 6-weeks ago was so dire only his owner could fancy him today. Current odds of 14/1 are tempting tho' for a "back-to-lay" play on the exchanges as, with only 7 runners going to post, a place-only wager may be a bit optimistic.
Sure enough, BILLY CUCKOO set a strong pace from the off and on the 2nd-circuit of this tight Southwell track, it was quickly apparent that he'd seen off most of the field. One of the first to flag was LAST SHOT who was probably feeling the effects of a few recent races. BILLY CUCKOO briefly lost the lead at the 3rd-last fence to race fav Moorlands Jack, but had regained it by the next fence where the exhausted race-fav duly fell, leaving BILLY CUCKOO in a clear lead. The safe jumper that BILLY CUCKOO is meant taking the final fence was a formality and, apart from wandering a little on the run in, victory was assured.
Last season, BILLY CUCKOO was on my alert list as being a game front-runner he's apt to trade very low in-running even if he doesn't win his races. I took him off my list this after several poor runs culminating in his dire seasonal opener when I thought he may have lost his enthusiasm for the game. As it was, yesterday he was reluctant to start and needed a good kick and a slap with the "persuader" to get him to jump-off. I thought he was a 120-125 horse last season and, being able to handle soft/heavy ground, he should be in the frame a few more times in the coming months.
We have a couple of meetings today at Catterick and Ludlow. Catterick provides little entertainment, but the Beginners' Chase at 1:50 has some interesting entries in Holywell, Barrakilla and 2012 Cheltenham Festival winner Son Of Flicka. This sort of race is not the type I enjoy having a wager in, but the 3-mile handicap chase at 2:50 is. Unfortunately, early odds on this race do not indicate much in the way of value. Last years winner Nodform Richard is interesting, but he won this with the benefit of a "pipe-opener" last season. The race-fav Categorical is well exposed having run 43 chase races, and he seems best on soft/heavy ground. Sporadic chaser Everaard would be respected if the race were on soft ground and, with O'Callaghan Strand being untried beyond 2m5f except as a hurdler and having real stamina doubts, there's only Honest John and Noble Witness left. Of that pair, Honest John has not had much luck in-running recently but has won a 3m2f hurdle at Catterick and a couple of 3-mile chases. There is also no stamina doubts about Noble Witness, who won a chase over 3m1f at Towcester in May. Noble Witness is the 14/1 outsider of this 6-runner race and, with so many doubts over the others, he could be worth a small wager. As Billy Cuckoo showed yesterday, there is more to reading form than sticking to the obvious.
Ludlow has a great meeting for a Wednesday, with a couple of Class 3 handicaps. The 3m1f & 110yd chase at 2:10 has a competitive look about it and there is sure to be a good early pace from Pickamus. Personally, I think that horse doesn't stay 3-mile-plus, so he's unlikely to be the winner. Talkonthestreet has a lot to prove as a chaser after 3 lacklustre runs in this sphere, and even his recent hurdle race left an air of disappointment. You can never tell what sort of mood Charingworth will be in, and so that brings me to the likes of Faultless Feelings who is unexposed as a chaser yet has put in a couple of decent efforts recently. As for Union Jack D'Ycy from Venetia Williams, I'd like to see how this horse jumps a fence first before having a wager, as Venetia does not school her novice chasers at home – they learn to jump at the track! For me that leaves Cootehill. He loves Ludlow, and always runs a game and honest race. He is a bit one-paced at the business end, but with a strong early pace set by (non-stayer) Pickamus, there might not be much left in the tank of a few of these come the run-in and Cootehill may plod on to victory. Certainly, odds of 10/1 make Cootehill a prime eachway wager candidate.
No selections today as I like to wager on my horse alert runners, and there are none out today.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Winter wonderland

Just a couple of meetings over the jumps today, at Southwell and Sedgefield. The meeting at Sedgefield looks poor. It is very hard to get excited about a class 5 novice handicap hurdle in which only 1 of the 12 runners has had a recent win (Ravi River @ 25/1 in the 2:30). The other races at the meeting are in a similar vein.
At Southwell, we have an alert runner – LAST SHOT in the 12:45. Unfortunately, this Venetia Williams trained horse is currently 6/4, and those odds are too short for me. In the same race, if Billy Cuckoo was back to the form he showed last season, he could be interesting. He is a confirmed front runner and quite a game one at that, so this tight Southwell circuit will play to his strengths. Billy Cuckoo did need a run last season but his seasonal debut 6-weeks ago was so dire only his owner could fancy him today. Current odds of 14/1 are tempting tho' for a "back-to-lay" play on the exchanges as, with only 7 runners going to post, a place-only wager may be a bit optimistic.
The next race has a better profile as finding horses that can truly stay 3-miles is always a good long term policy. There is only one horse in this novice hurdle with proven stamina "under-rules" over 3-mile, and that is MIDNIGHT MACARENA who happens to be a C&D winner. There is a lot of support for the fav Sego Success, but he's only won over 3-mile on the point-to-point field. His full brother did not win beyond 2m3f, which suggests this trip may stretch him.
I managed to have a successful small-odds win double on Sunday with Tutchec and Balbriggan, and LAST SHOT and MIDNIGHT MACARENA may be another. I'll not be putting this up as a wager, but I'll be having a £10 win double on the pair at odds of 6/4 and 4/1 with the likes of William Hill. If they both win then I can take the girlfriend out for a steak.
Still no movement with the ratings on the Racing Post website. It is extremely frustrating for me as my modus operandi if finding horses who I think have been overlooked or under-rated.
We are now in the winter months and it is likely that some of the weekday blogs may be a bit brief as I intend to post my blogs at least an hour before the 1st race of the day (or thereabouts). If nothing else, I want to give readers at least an hour to get their wager on, if there is a wager recommended. I think that is only fair.
No selections today.

Monday 2 December 2013

Review of the Hennessy

The Hennessy Gold Cup had a terrific finish even tho' neither of my selections were involved in the finish.  Race winner Triolo D'Alene has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 9 months. Highly tried on his debut UK season 2011/12 after being imported from France, he showed promise but clearly needed more time. All seemed to click into place at Aintree last April when he won the Topham Trophy over the National fences despite making a number of jumping errors. He followed that up with another win at Huntingdon showing he had the stamina for a good-paced 3-mile. After a fair seasonal debut at Ascot, which we all possibly overlooked, he came into Saturday's race primed for a decent run and with stable jockey Barry Geraghty abroad. Quite where he goes now is a tricky one, as he's not quite good enough without a fair bit more improvement to be contesting the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March but he must be considered a Grand National contender for the 2014 race in April. Some may think he's blown his handicap, but I've always considered the Hennessy a great trial for the National and current odds of 20/1 look very fair considering we know the horse can handle the Aintree fences and stay well enough to win a Hennessy Gold Cup with 11st 1lb.
Runner-up Rocky Creek ran a great race and looked like running-on to take the prize at the final fence, but the extra 4lb stopped him. Providing he hasn't had his spirit broken in this race, I can see him improving a fair bit for the run. Yes, he was prepared for this Hennessy bid since April, but the Nicholls horses have all seemed to come on for a run the Autumn. Theatre Guide in 3rd was a bit of a surprise as I thought the horse didn't have the stamina for this race. Highland Lodge showed that he's come on again for his recent 2nd at Wincanton giving 26lb to the winner (Standing Ovation who has won again since). In 5th, Merry King ran another great race but probably needs further again; he's one for the Welsh National methinks.
It was always expecting too much of Invictus to run well in this race off such a long break. Personally, I thought it was a foolish decision to run, despite the possible handicap snip of his rating. There was a gallant run from old warrior Imperial Commander, and I'm glad he came out of the race unscathed. Of my selections, Katenko fell when still going well – I'm sure he'd have been involved in the finish. As for Loch Ba, there were possibly too many rivals in the race and he may fair belter in a smaller, less competitive field.
My other selection on Saturday, VINTAGE STAR at Newcastle went down by just a neck to the 10yo Hey Big Spender. There was no disgrace in being beaten by such a small margin by a horse who, on his day, is a grade 1 chaser. The OR140 rating for Hey Big Spender let the 10yo in lightly on a track which he'd won over C&D before. Seeing as he retains a fair amount of ability, Hey Big Spender could be set-up for a lucrative season in the "veterans" chases. There will be other days for VINTAGE STAR.
Finally, I'm getting very fed-up with the "broken" Racing Post website. I like to review racing and set my own ratings using the site, but the current problems Racing Post are having means that I'm not able to rate races and save the results. While I greatly respect Steve Mason's ratings (RPR) in the Racing Post, he can be swayed into the realms of "ratings inflation". Hence, why I like to keep my own ratings, especially for the top end of the chasing divisions.
No selections today

Saturday 30 November 2013

Hennessey Gold Cup - Newbury

Just the one selection yesterday and GRANDIOSO returned a small profit for our £5 eachway wager coming in 3rd at 14/1 giving us a £9.00 profit. That was our first wager of the week since last Saturday.

The alert list has gone into overdrive today, and there are far too many runners from it to mention. There are several in todays feature race, the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. They are KATENKO, HOUBLON DES OBEAUX, ROCKY CREEK, CLOUDY TOO, LOCH BA, MERRY KING and HIGHLAND LODGE. At the odds, I really think KATENKO and LOCH BA have great chances. Of the others, I feel carrying more than 11st will prove too much for Houblon Des Obeaux, Rocky Creek. And Cloudy Too. Sure, they will run good races and can be among the places and of the 3, HOUBLON DES OBEAUX at 28/1 could repay a small eachway wager. I have high hopes for Merry King and Highland Lodge, but you have to pin your hopes somewhere in a race like this. I’ll be honest and say that I took 33/1 eachway on LOCH BA on Thursday. This horse ran very well when beaten LTO by Midnight Appeal and I think that form will prove very strong as the season progresses. KATENKO, as I wrote on Thursday, is the one horse in this field who I think can go on to glory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. His form last season was without fault and he has the speed to win over 2m5f, and the stamina to win over 3-mile. Odds of 16/1 with Bet365, who pay 5-places eachway, look very generous.

Newbury 3:00 KATENKO, £5 eachway @ 16/1 with Bet365 paying 5 places at quarter odds (BOG)

Newbury 3:00 LOCH BA, £5 eachway @ 20/1 with Bet365 paying 5 places at quarter odds (BOG)

Total = £20 staked

Elsewhere, I think VINTAGE STAR has a better than 4/1 chance in the 2:40 at Newcastle. It all depends on whether Hey Big Spender is anywhere near his best form of last season but, even if he is, he may find it tough conceding 3lb to VINTAGE STAR.

Newcastle 2:40 VINTAGE STAR, £10 win @ 4/1 with Bet365 (BOG)