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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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Wednesday 20 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 look-back Part 2

The 3rd day of the Cheltenham Festival started with the Jewson Novices Chase, and it was the 3rd running of this race for novice chasers. Again, it went to the Irish challengers with BENEFFICIENT trained by AJ Martin running out a decisive winner at the long odds of 20/1. This looked a strong field on paper beforehand, with the 11/8 fav DYNASTE taking this race instead of the RSA Chase run a day earlier. We had last seen BENEFFICIENT running when winning the Irish Arkle in January in a canter following the fall of Arvika Ligeonniere in that race. So, BENEFFICIENT came into this a LTO winner even if that form was a bit dubious. I wrote in my Bulletin that (as this is a tough 2m4f) proven stamina over this trip is a positive, tho' (in my opinion) a win over trips in excess of 2m6f would be a negative. DYNASTE had been campaigned over 3-mile this season with the RSA Chase in mind and he ran as tho' he wanted an extra half-mile in this. CAPTAIN CONAN came to win the race but faded quickly on the run-in, being passed by 100/1 chance CHANGING TIMES (OR140) who came in 3rd beaten under 5-lengths by the winner. This puts a slight dampener on this form, but I'll take nothing away from BENEFFICIENT who looks a decent chaser.

The Pertemps (Handicap) Hurdle went to the very game HOLYWELL although I came close to pulling-off an antepost coup as I named the runner-up CAPTAIN SUNSHINE in my Handicap Assessment (comes with the Bulletin) as "just be the sort who comes good in a race like this where he won't have time to think". The winner was having only his 7th hurdle race but hasn't been out of the 1st-2 finishers in his last 6 now and is a horse who never knows he's beaten. He'll make a great chaser over a 3-mile-plus trip, but he looked to have plenty more to give as a hurdler the way he won this.

The success of my Festival hung on the performance of CUE CARD in the Ryanair Chase. Whereas in 2012 this race looked very strong with 7 of the 12 runners holding Official Ratings of OR164 or greater; this year there was far less strength in depth. Last year's winner Riverside Theatre (OR169) had looked a shadow of himself this season; First Lieutenant (OR168) is more of a 3-mile-plus chaser and probably should've contested the Gold Cup; and Menorah (OR163) has never looked happy as a chaser. It was asking a lot to expect two-time winner Albertas Run to come back off an 11-month break and win this race as a 12yo; and so that left the race open for CUE CARD (OR165) to take advantage. He was my 2pt win antepost selection at odds of 5/1 when the Bulletin was issued in mid-February, and I advised a further 1pt win on the day @ 7/2.  The horse never put a foot wrong and when he jumped 3-lengths clear 4-out it was game-over. At this trip, I'd say he was unbeatable, and odds of 4/1 for a repeat in 2014 look very generous, so long as connections put thoughts of a Gold Cup attempt out of their heads.

The absence of Big Bucks meant that punters had, for the first time in a few years, to try and fathom what was going to win the World Hurdle, and the majority made a complete hash of it. The race was won by SOLWHIT who, it should be remembered, had won the Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f in 2009. Since then he'd been campaigned mainly over 2-mile but his 6th (of 12) in the 2010 Champion Hurdle exposed his limitations at that trip. Injured in January 2011 and off the track for 23-months till 31st December 2012 when he ran 2nd to BOG WARRIOR, he was on the comeback trail but looking as good as ever when he won LTO in mid-January. This was his first attempt at 3-mile and he could well come back here next March and win this again as, personally, I can't see Big Bucks returning to the track again. There was a game effort by CELESTIAL HALO to take 2nd place as his stamina was tested only by the winner. Whether this pair will meet at Aintree is debateable. He pace for the 1st-mile was slow, so the form may not stand up.

I thought I had the winner of the Byrne Group Plate when VINO GRIEGO loomed-up to race alongside the eventual winner CARRICKBOY after the 2nd-last, but it was not to be. Carrickboy is a bit of a character having pulled-up 4 times since running 6th in this race last year off 3lb lower in the ratings. This was a very brave run from the front making-all but apparently those were the instructions from trainer Venetia Williams to as he doesn't like being knocked about. I would not expect a repeat win soon from Carrickboy as he's been raised 8lb for his win. Connections have certainly found the key to Vino Griego and altho' he's been raised 6lb for this win to OR151 he could still be well handicapped as the front-two pulled well clear of the others. TARTAK sneaked in with OR134 and ran a cracker of a race (he missed the cut for another handicap earlier in the Festival) to be 3rd. He'll run off OR130 NTO so make sure you note when he runs. The presence of HUNT BALL and WALKON in 4th and 5th respectively helps the form of this race stand up, and my selection SHOEGAZER ran a solid race to be 7th and perhaps wants a bit further to show his best. I wrote in my Bulletin that Venetia Williams targets this race (she also won this in 2009 & 2007, plus she supplied the runner-up in 2009, 2006 & 2005). I also wrote that "with recent winners at odds of 25/1 (three times), 33/1, and 66/1 in past 10 years, don't be afraid of backing your own judgement and opposing the market"; and Carrickboy won at 50/1.

The "Kim Muir" Handicap Chase very nearly went to SUPER DUTY (11st 12lb) who would have been the 6th horse in 9 years to win with more than 11st 6lb. However, SAME DIFFERENCE with just 11st, beat him by a head. The winner became only the 5th horse in 34 years to win aged 7yo (and it's now 20 years since a horse younger than 7yo won).  Just over 3-lengths back in 3rd was ROMANESCO who ran a cracking Grand National trial, if he is able to get in the race. Fingers crossed, he will, as I am on at incredibly long odds. Donald McCain has won this race with Ballabriggs (who went on to win a Grand National) and Cloudy Lane, and so you can expect SUPER DUTY to attempt a Grand National in the coming years.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.

If you have a successful wager on the back of what you read here (and with over 500 regular readers, I'm assuming plenty do - that's why they keep coming back), then please make a contribution as an expression of thanks via the donate button.

Remember - gambling on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience - never bet more than you can afford to lose.

Thanks from Wayward Lad

Sunday 17 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 look-back Part 1

What a great festival 2013 was and we were blessed to witness some truly brilliant performances.
From a personal point of view, I hit the target with my only 2pt antepost wager CUE CARD who was recommended to those who received my Cheltenham Bulletin when he was priced at 5/1. I also advised a further 1pt on the day of the race and the horse did not disappoint.

I was at the Festival on Thursday and met up with some old friends and had a great time. For once, it seemed that we all won good money on the races, some planned and some fortuitous. Myself, I did really well with the win of CUE CARD and that result ensured that I was ahead about £400 by the end of the Festival. I was with an old friend at the time of placing my wager on-course and he enjoys placing larger wagers than me. Nicknamed “the Wad”, he placed 5 times the amount that I placed on CUE CARD at odds of 4/1 with a rails bookie.
After that race, I crossed the course from the “Club” into the Best Mate Enclosure where a few other old friends where located. The Best Mate area is one step away from complete debauchery, it is total mayhem, especially in the Guinness tent.  One old friend there asked my advice on the next race and I gave him the racecard numbers for a couple that I fancied in that race and the following one. He returned a few minutes later clutching his Tote tickets and confessed that he had mixed-up the races and the numbers and had put his money on the wrong pair of horses; he had placed win & place wagers on both selections and a reverse forecast (exacta) on the pair. He contemplated changing the slips but then thought he’d let fate take it’s course. I told him when I lived in Hong Kong, a punter had made a similar error placing an accumulator wager in error and won the equivalent of £40,000. We watched the race and the further the horses ran the more animated my friend became: his Tote betting slip were £5 win & place on SUPER DUTY; £5 win & place on SAME DIFFERENCE; and a £2 reverse forecast (exacta) on the same pair.
As fate would have it, they finished 1st and 2nd in the Kim Muir with SAME DIFFERENCE paying a win dividend of £18.90 and place of £4.40; SUPER DUTY paid to a place £2.40, and the Exacta paid £130.00. It could only happen at Cheltenham.

My thoughts on the opening couple of days racing at the Festival are as follows.

From the opening race, the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the Irish challengers went toe-to-toe with the British entries and were superior. CHAMPAGNE FEVER was given a brilliant tactical ride to bravely make-all and beat the hot fav MY TENT OR YOURS by half-a-length.  Whether JEZKI would have finished ahead of this pair with the benefit of a recent run (Jezki had not run since 27-Dec) we will find out in due course. Make a note of the name BRIGHT NEW DAWN who was beaten less than 2-lengths by Champagne Fever on 09-Feb and did not come to Cheltenham.

I’ve always thought that Irish novice chasers hold an advantage over the British novices as they are tested more during the season and so have greater experience when they arrive at Cheltenham. That certainly seemed the case thru’out the festival and BAILY GREEN took the wind out of the sails of SIMONSIG in the Arkle. Sure, Simonsig won but he was made to work hard by a novice running his 16th (yes, his sixteenth) chase. This was a weak Arkle, and if Simonsig is the best 2-mile novice chaser around then his seniors have nothing to fear next season.

I’m surprised the winner of the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase GOLDEN CHIEFTAIN was only 28/1 as I wouldn’t have penny on him even now with the benefit of hindsight. The only thing that was a pointer is that he’s now won 3 of the 4 races he’s run in March during his career. 

The Champion Hurdle was a great renewal. I make no secret of the fact that I have not been a fan of HURRICANE FLY, and I have consistently thought he was overrated.  Not any more, this performance was better than his win in 2011 and on a par with Binocular’s performance when winning in 2010. Even with ROCK ON RUBY going chasing next season – a mistake in my opinion to make the change so late when he’s still a grade 1 hurdler over 2-mile – it will be a tough ask for the “Fly” to come back and win again as a 10yo, but he sets a high standard. Of the others, ZARKANDAR should go chasing as he’s not good enough to win a Champion Hurdle, and BINOCULAR should now be retired.

Not so QUEVEGA who again showed she is the best mare in NH racing by a long, long way. She is so far ahead of the other mares that she should have no problem returning next year for a 6th win in the Mares Hurdle.

The Rewards4Racing Novices handicap chase over 2m4½f was very competitive and exciting. The winner RADJANI EXPRESS returned to form having flopped on heavy ground LTO. The level of form is set by runner-up ACKERTAC who was having his 13th chase race (of which he’s only won one). Ackertac clearly enjoys racing at the Festival as he was 5th in this race last season behind Hunt Ball when he was rated 2lb lower. On the face of it, a lot of these novices did not run up to their best but one who caught my eye was VULCANITE. He picked-up the leading bunch coming downhill easily enough but then his rider tried to find room along the rail for the final couple of fences and was not only denied a run but badly hampered. I think with a clear run he’d have finished ahead of OHIO GOLD who was beaten 9-lengths into 3rd. Definitely one for the notebook.

Day 2 started with the National Hunt Chase over 4-mile for Amateur Riders, and it went straight to form. I’d written in my Bulletin that this race had been won by the top-rated (on Official Ratings) for the past 2 years and, in 2011, the top-rated had beaten the 2nd-top-rated into 2nd. Guess what? The top-rated BACK IN FOCUS (OR150) beat 2nd-top-rated TOFINO BAY (OR149) to record a £16.80 Exacta and a £18.03 Computer Straight Forecast. Not only that, but 3rd-top-rated RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL (OR143) fell at the 2nd-last fence when looking like the winner, and 4th top-rated GODSMEJUDGE (OR139) was 3rd. The 8yo Back In Focus remains unbeaten as a chaser having won all 4 chase starts and looks a potential Irish National winner (run at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday). If RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL goes for the Scottish National he must be followed.

The Neptune Hurdle won by The NEW ONE looks very solid form, despite the sedate pace of the race. It corroborates well with the Albert Bartlett novice hurdle over 3-mile which was won by AT FISHERS CROSS and this pair met and were separated by only a neck when they met at Cheltenham in January. THE NEW ONE absolutely murdered this field with a phenomenal turn-of-foot which made the others look flat-footed. I’m not sure why the pace set by PONT ALEXANDRE the Irish 6/4 fav was so sedate as he clearly needs a stiff stamina test over this trip, and we may see improvement when stepped up to 3-mile. The early quotes of 8/1 for the Champion Hurdle for THE NEW ONE look skimpy to me as the horse has yet to run to a high speed rating. More interesting is the runner-up RULE THE WORLD who‘s half-bro’ Venalmar was also 2nd in this race in 2008 but was injured next time out at Punchestown and never really recovered. His half-sister One Gulp was also very talented but was retired to the paddocks after sustaining an injury as a 5yo in 2008, otherwise she may have prevented QUEVEGA from winning her initial Mares’ Hurdle in 2009. RULE THE WORLD looks to have a lot of potential, especially when going chasing.

The RSA Chase, the Novices’ Gold Cup, had a most unfortunate result with BOSTON BOB falling at the final fence with the race apparently at his mercy. He had swept to the front 3-furlongs out before the tight home turn and managed to negotiate the 2nd-last at speed. He still held an advantage at the final fence but, in my opinion, he was “spooked” by the tarpaulin covers protecting the ground for Thursdays racing which were protruding under the rail. As such, he was unbalanced as he approached the final fence and crashed thru’ it. Would he have won? I think so on the balance of probabilities, as he’d won the PJ Moriarty Chase LTO in Ireland beating the winner here LORD WINDERMERE and the runner-up LYREEN LEGEND. Given it was his first attempt at 3-mile, LORD WINDERMERE stayed the trip well and he’ll make a grand handicap chaser but his form this season does not suggest he’ll step up in grade to being a Gold Cup horse next season.  LYREEN LEGEND will be similarly challenged to make a step-up in grade. The rest of this field were outclassed, in some cases a long way out and, as the pace was modest, it suggests this race wasn’t one of the better years. The 5/2 fav UNIONISTE was yet another losing 5yo in this race – remember, the last successful 5yo won in 1950 (even subsequent Gold Cup winner Long Run could not defeat that stat in 2010).

The Champion Chase brought out the best in SPRINTER SACRE and we finally saw what he is capable of. By my ratings (on a line thru’ Wishfull Thinking) he’s on 185, tho’ he may be capable of finding a few more pounds if pushed. I’m certain that SIZING EUROPE could have finished closer to him but for the mishap of missing a stride and nearly going down on the entry to the home turn. His jockey also allowed him to canter to the line after the final fence when he was beaten.  He’s not the best horse we’ve seen, but SPRINTER SACRE is not far off.

If we did not know just how good a trainer Willie Mullins is, then producing FIVEFORTHREE off a break of 2 years (his previous race was the World Hurdle in 2011) and coming 3rd in the ultra-competitive Coral Cup handicap hurdle was a phenomenal effort. That said, it was a huge effort by Alan King to send both the 1st and the 2nd for the race; MEDINAS and MEISTER ECKHART.  On my alert list since early November, MEDINAS has improved with every run this season and this win with 11st 10lb in a time that was 5.50 seconds faster than THE NEW ONE in the “Neptune” suggests connections should be eyeing a Champion Hurdle attempt next March, even tho’ in 10 previous hurdle races he’s never run at a trip shorter than 2m4f. This was a seriously good performance. Also make note of Emma Lavelle’s Fox Appeal who beat Medinas in that race last November giving him 3lb. MISTER ECKHART looks like being a very exciting novice chaser next season.

I’m not sure what to make of the result of the Fred Winter Juvenile  Hurdle other than it was another race that confirmed the superiority of the Irish novices as the winner FLAXEN FLARE had finished behind subsequent Triumph Hurdle winner OUR CONOR when he last ran. This field was spread-eagled after the final flight and (as the race-time wasn’t spectacular) this may have been a weak field.

How on earth BRIAR HILL was allowed to start the Champion Bumper at odds of 25/1 being ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Willie Mullins is beyond me. With a dam who is an unraced sister to BOSTON BOB (fell at the final fence when leading in the RSA Chase) it is clear BRIAR HILL has a big future. Definitely one for the notebook, but he could be a very exciting staying chaser in time as he’ll probably be aimed at the Neptune hurdle in 2014.

Days 3 & 4 are to follow.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
If you have a successful wager on the back of what you read here (and with over 500 regular readers, I'm assuming plenty do - that's why they keep coming back), then please make a contribution as an expression of thanks via the donate button.
Remember - gambling on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience - never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Thanks from Wayward Lad

Friday 15 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 - Day 4

The formbook finally came good yesterday, and CUE CARD rewarded my faith in his ability with an emphatic win at the tremendous SP of 7/2. Those in receipt of the Cheltenham Bulletin will have been on him for 2pts win @ 5/1 back in mid-February and he has been a real money-spinner for me as I had 2pts on him when he won at Ascot LTO and, together with the 2pts I had on him at 5/1 for the Ryanair, I placed another 2pts on-course yesterday at 4/1 with a hapless rails bookie. What a day! It was almost a classic, as VINO GRIEGO came very close to making it 2 winning wagers on the day, being beaten only by the 50/1 rank outsider in the Byrne Group Plate. CUE CARD has contributed 13.50pts profit for his win (2pts @ 5/1, plus 1pt @ 7/2) and VINO GRIEGO provided another half-a-point.
Today is the final day of what has been an eventful week and, having secured a profit for the meeting, we can concentrate on enjoying the final day of the Festival.  Apologies to donators to the blog for not getting a draft out to you last night, but I was at Cheltenham yesterday and a lorry shed its load on the M40 putting the "kybosh" on my attempt to get home in time to wrote a draft.
1:30 Triumph Hurdle for 4yo's (2-miles & 1-furlong)
With the inception of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap (see Day 2) in 2005, this race has been raised to another level. Essentially, you are looking for a top-class 4yo capable of transferring its ability to the top-table next season (last year's winner Countrywide Flame ran 3rd in this weeks Champion Hurdle). Top-class recent form is a must for this with 16 of the last 19 winners having won LTO, and 16 of the last 19 winners having won at least two hurdle races.
This year it looks particulary competitive and 4yo hurdlers is not my "bag" so I'd be just making a stab in the dark making a recommendation.
No selection in this race.
2:05 Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2-miles & 1-furlong)
This handicap hurdle is one of the most competitive of the NH season, probably as it is a race that is historically targeted by the Irish, and Irish trainers have won this for 5 of the last 6 years.
The last 7 winners were rated between OR131 and OR139, so the 8/1 fav Cotton Mill may well go into the race well supported but, rated OR150 and with 11st 8lb to carry, he has a tough task.
The talented front-running Tennis Cap with a rating of OR141, could lead them all a merry dance in this race, but Ruby Walsh has chosen a Paul Nicholls horse – Ranjaan -as his ride.
One hurdler I've followed all season is PRINCETON PLAINS and I highlighted his chance in my handicap updates (sent to donators).  Altho' he's not won one of his 4 starts this season that's not a black mark in my book as this race will suit him right down to the ground and he comes into this on a handy OR138 and was given a very tender ride in the Betfair Hurdle LTO. What is very interesting is that AP McCoy is in the saddle and I am expecting a big run from this one. Unfortunately, "Pricewise" of the Racing Post has selected him (did he receive my handicap updates?) and the early 20/1 is gone. He's only 16/1 with Ladbrokes now (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4), and just 14/1 elsewhere and for such a competitive race that is not really great value.
No selection advised
2:40 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (3-miles)
Many questioned this race when first introduced in 2005 but, in my opinion, it already has a roll of honour that that includes Weapons Amnesty and Bobs Worth making it a worthy addition to the Festival race roster. With 3 of the 8 winners starting at shorter odds than 2/1, and only 1 winner in the history of the race starting at longer odds than 9/1; stick to those at the head of the market.
In my opinion, this is a much easier race to win than the Neptune Novices Hurdle over 2m5f, so that is a big pointer to AFRICAN GOLD whose stablemate The New One won the "Neptune" on Wednesday very easily.
Whatever wins, pay attention to this race for valuable pointers for staying novice chasers for next season; a quick look at last year's race and Lovcen, Rocky Creek, Tour Des Champs, and Fill The Power have all won as novice chasers this season.
Selection: AFRICAN GOLD, ½pt win @ 13/2 (William Hill)
3:20 Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (3-miles and 2½ furlongs)
The climax of the meeting and, in recent years, this has been possibly the most emotional race of the Festival. There is not that much between those at the top of the chasing tree and, as we saw with First Lieutenant being comprehensively beaten yesterday in the Ryanair, those at the top are not that brilliant. This race will likely go to the best horse today, rather than the best staying chaser in training today (which we all know is the injured TIDAL BAY).
The last "placed" (ie. ran 2nd or 3rd the previous year) horse to go on and win the Gold Cup the following season (other than Kauto Star in 2009) was Bregawn in 1983 (he was 2nd to Silver Buck in 1982), so that is not a good omen for The Giant Bolster & Long Run: placed horses do not win the Gold Cup the following season.
The last 12 winners were all in the 1st-3 in the betting (in 2012, Synchronised was one of the three joint 3rd-fav's on 8/1), so look to those at the head of the market to find the winner.
Bobs Worth @ 4/1, Sir Des Champs @ 9/2, and Silviniaco Conti @ 5/1.
On a strict interpretation of the form, Bobs Worth wasn't the best horse in the Hennessey Gold Cup (handicap) at Newbury when he won that on 1st December last year (Tidal Bay was). Also, he'll be coming into the Gold Cup without a run in 104 days, and the horses that have been able to win off such a long break (in top races at the Festival) since 2002 can be counted on one hand. Flagship Uberalles won the 2002 Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2002 off a 95 day break, and Captain Cee Bee won the Supreme Novices Hurdle off a 115 day break. By coincidence, both those races are over trips of about 2-miles and not the 3-miles & 2½ furlongs of the Gold Cup. If any trainer can bring a horse to the Gold Cup in winning form off such a break, Nicky Henderson can, but the horse hasn't shown that he is clearly the best staying chaser in the land yet and so, with that doubt combined with the long lay-off, Bobs Worth cannot be the selection; certainly not at odds of 4/1. I'd be looking for more like 6/1.
Sir Des Champs ticks a lot of boxes, but his form does not confirm that Sir Des Champs is an out-and-out stayer, and if there is one quality that a horse needs to win the Gold Cup, it's proven stamina.
That leaves just SILVINIACO CONTI. This season, the horse is unbeaten winning 3 races at top level over 3-mile on soft ground and is pretty much confirmed as a staying chaser of the highest quality. If the ground gets better, no problem. He's got winning form on good-to-soft and good ground. I cannot find a chink in the horses armour and so, at 5/1, he is the selection. Blog donators are already on at 5/1 to 1pt win so I won't be adding to that stake.
Proven stayer's are worth following in the Gold Cup as this is a race that can develop into a war of attrition and any weaknesses are thoroughly exposed. One horse who is very consistent is LONG RUN, and I can see him running 2nd or 3rd in this race. Unfortunately, odds of just 6/1 are not enough to tempt me to make him an eachway selection.
If you are already on SILVINIACO CONTI ante-post do not add to the wager. If not
SILVINIACO CONTI, 1pt win @ 5/1 (available generally)
4:00 Christie's Foxhunters Chase (3-miles and 2½ furlongs)
Another "traditional" race at the Festival, and one that probably shouldn't be included. Personally, I'd prefer jump racing to distance itself as far away from fox-hunting as possible and, if it has to be run, it should be re-named. As all the competitors will have run in a point-to-point, why not call it the Point-to-Point Challenge Cup instead?
Essentially, the formbook goes out of the window with this race as the chances of most in the race will depend on whether their amateur jockey can stay in the saddle. Prominent runners can do well in this race but, last year, a couple went off like scalded cats and the pace of the race collapsed mid-race. No Selection.
4:40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap hurdle (2-miles & 4½ furlongs)
This race has only been run 4 times. It is a particularly competitive race, and as its only been run 4 times there is not much to go on trends-wise. Also, last year, the race conditions were slightly altered making it a 0-145 race from a 0-140. I really cannot see anything jumping out of the page at me in this race, perhaps I've been looking too hard. That said, the front-running DOUBLE ROSS won over C&D earlier in the season and has been running well since over shorter trips. With no obvious front-runner to fight him for the lead, he could get his own way up front (in the style of Buena Vista) and at 25/1 a small eachway wager is worth a go.
Selection: DOUBLE ROSS, ¼pt eachway @ 25/1 (BetVictor, ¼ odds a place 1,2,3,4 BOG)
5:15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (handicap) Chase (2-miles & 110 yards)
This race has been won 5 times at odds of 12/1 or greater since 2006. In 2011, the winner was 40/1 and last year, Bellvano won at 20/1.
Since Edredon Bleu (who went on to win a Champion Chase in 2000) won in 1998 with 11st 6lb, no horse has won carrying more than 11st, so stick to those with 11st or less to carry. With 13 of last 14 winners having raced in no more than 12 chase races (in 2012, Bellvano was having just his 6th chase race), you are looking for a lightly raced chaser. Nicky Henderson always has a good go at this race (as it's named in honour of his father) and, sure enough, he did. He supplied the 1st, 2nd and 4th horse home from 6 entries.  
This race is going to be a real head-scratcher tho' one who I know will really run a great race and possibly deserves a win at the top-table is RENARD. He ran in this last year off OR144 and couldn't get into the race after being hampered at the 10th fence. I reckon he's been running better this season without winning and so runs off OR139 next week. He handles Cheltenham well enough and this trip will suit him best. Yes, he is more experienced as a chaser than the typical winner of this race, but he's genuine and should not be 40/1 in this race (Corals & Stan James).  
Selection: RENARD, ¼pt eachway @ 40/1 (Corals & Stan James, ¼ odds a place 1,2,3,4 BOG)
Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
If you have a successful wager on the back of what you read here (and with over 500 regular readers, I'm assuming plenty do – that's why they keep coming back), then please make a contribution as an expression of thanks via the donate button.
Remember – gambling on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience – never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Thanks from Wayward Lad

Thursday 14 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 - Day 3

Races transfer to the New Course for the final 2-days of the Festival meeting.
If it is sunny the ground may ride quicker than the official going.
I will be at Cheltenham today, probably in the Winged Ox bar in the stands. I’ve had no luck so far, but have come close a couple of times with Rock On Ruby (2nd) and Godsmejudge (3rd). I was also right about highest official ratings in the NH Chase as that provided not just the winner (Back In Focus) but also the straight-forecast (paid £18.03 to £1).

1:30 Jewson (Golden Miller) Novices Chase (2-miles & 4-furlongs)
The day opens with the 3nd running of this intermediate distance championship race for novice chasers. There are no stats that apply particularly to this race as it has only been run twice. However, both the previous winners were above average hurdlers; Noble Prince was rated OR150 as a hurdler and ran 5th in the County Hurdle of 2010 at the Festival, and I’d give preference to those that have attained at least a rating of 142+ over hurdles. Race-fav DYNASTE looks well ahead of these both as a novice chaser and as a hurdler. He will love the ground (good-to-soft) tho’ the trip of 2m4f may just be on the short side for him. Where will a challenge come from? This is a tough 2m4f, so your selection has to have proven stamina over this trip, tho’ (in my opinion) a win over trips in excess of 2m6f would be a negative. Given his lack of a turn of foot, I’d prefer to have seen Aupcharlie go for the RSA and I fear he’ll be staying-on when the race is over. Captain Conan cannot be underestimated but the horse who gets in under the radar is TEXAS JACK (10/1) who split Boston Bob and Lord Windermere in the Moriarty chase. TEXAS JACK can chase DYNASTE home, and a small forecast wager on those two may be lucrative.
No selection (DYNASTE is too short at 13/8 to offer value)

2:05 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (3-miles)
I have had some great success in this race over the years and unfortunately last year I abandoned Cape Tribulation (who had been on my personal alert list all season) and opted for Cantlow instead who ran 3rd. With 10 of the last 21 winners having won LTO you must respect Ely Brown and Top Of The Range who are in the “11st 3lb and under” weight range that has provided 15 of last 20 winners (in 2012, the 1st-4 finishers all fitted into this weight bracket). Emma Lavelle hasn’t had a winner since December so Captain Sunshine doesn’t get my vote. STONEMASTER ran well at the Festival last year and ran a cracker when 3rd in the qualifier on Boxing Day at Leopardstown. He comes here on OR138 which is 7lb less than he was rated when 6th in the Coral Cup when he looked like needing the extra distance of this race. Another I like is HADA MEN who has been aimed at this race by his canny trainer Venetia Williams since the start of the season and sneaks in with bottom weight of 10st 13lb.
Small eachway wagers on the pair.
STONEMASTER: ¼pt eachway @ 16/1 (Bet365, pays 5-places, BOG)
HADA MEN: ¼pt eachway @ 40/1 (Bet365, pays 5-places, BOG)

2:40 Ryanair Chase (2-miles & 5-furlongs)
This race has now firmly established itself as a worthy Festival Championship race in the 8 years it has been run. For a long time I have thought CUE CARD to be one of the most talented chasers around and I reckon tomorrow he’ll prove it.  He’s got winning form at Cheltenham (which is a bonus) and this trip of 2m5f is made for him. First Lieutenant should have gone for the Gold Cup, and I have him about 7lb behind CUE CARD.  Menorah and Champion Court simply are not good enough to beat CUE CARD, and Albertas Run needs to prove his wellbeing. Riverside Theatre has not show the form required this season to suggest a repeat of last year’s win is on the cards.
As such, CUE CARD @ 7/2 looks great value and, in my opinion, he is the most likely winner. Those who received the Bulletin are on at 5/1 and I already have 1pt on him at those odds.
Selection: CUE CARD, 1pt win @ 7/2 (in addition to the 2pt win @ 5/1 antepost)

3:20 World Hurdle (3-miles)
This race has been totally dominated by BIG BUCKS since 2009, and last year he recorded his 4th consecutive victory in the race. This year tho’ he is absent thru’ injury, and the race looks wide open.
Oscar Whisky and Reve De Sivola head the market at 5/1 and there is very little between the pair based on the result of the Cleeve Hurdle on 26th January. Personally, I cannot see either of these winning the race and, if one of them does, it will only be because it is a substandard year. The last horse to win this after taking part in a Champion Hurdle was Nomadic Way in 1992, and that
stat turns me off Peddlers Cross even tho’ I reckon had he gone for this race in 2011 (and not the Champion Hurdle) he may have gone close. Bog Warrior may not go on the ground as even good-to-soft is too quick for him.
No selection: 

4:00 Festival Plate (was Byrne Group) Handicap Chase (2-mile & 4½-furlongs)
I’ve been knocking on the door of a big win in this race in the past couple of years, so I reckon I am due a winner! As 16 of the last 20 winners carried under 11st, and 18 of the last 20 winners were rated between OR128 – OR141, that vibes are not good for Cantlow (7/1). Add that 13 of the previous 15 winners came here off a break of no more than 39 days, and we start to weed out a fair few. If Willie Mullins wins this with Sweet My Lord, then it should be him in Rome as Pope – the Irish have only won this race once since 1951. David Pipe has a great record in this race, but I cannot fancy race-fav Ballynagour as he has never strung 2 wins together and even Pipe has plenty of doubts about his character. His others tho’ Shoegazer, Zaynar  and Matuhi, are interesting especially the Shoegazer. With recent winners at odds of 25/1 (three times), 33/1, and 66/1 in past 10 years, don’t be afraid of backing your own judgement and opposing the market. The 2 that I reckon will do well are VINO GRIEGO (12/1) who has been in electric form of late and fits most of the trends, and SHOEGAZER (33/1 with Corals) who has been in my notebook since running a cracker of a race behind Katenko here in January, and then he won NTO.
VINO GRIEGO: ¼pt eachway @ 12/1 (BetVictor, pays 4-places, BOG)
SHOEGAZER: ¼pt eachway @ 33/1 (Corals, pays 4-places, BOG)

Day 3 – Thursday 14th March 2013
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge (for Amateurs) Handicap Chase (3-miles, 1-furlong & 110 yards)
This is another race, like the Centenary Novices Handicap on Day 1 of the Festival, which is suffering from “handicap compression”. With no winner in past 19 years younger than 7yo and only 4 of the last 33 winners being a 7yo, it seems that a mature and experience jumper is preferred for these amateur riders.  This is a handicap targeted by David Pipe and he supplies No Secrets on bottom weight with 10st 13lb. McCain (won it in 2007 & 2010) and Henderson (won it in 2005, 2002 & 1990) also target this race. There are two I like in this race; ON TREND (20/1) and CHARTREUX (16/1) both of whom I thought had a great chance in the JLT Chase on Tuesday but have come for this instead. Of the pair I favour ON TREND, but I expect them both to be involved in the finish.
ON TREND: ¼pt eachway @ 20/1 (Bet365, pays 5-places, BOG)
CHARTREUX: ¼pt eachway @ 18/1 (BetVictor, pays 4-places, BOG)

It’s an early start to the day as I’m off to the Races!

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 - Day 2

A great day for horseracing yesterday, if not a great day for the blog. 
It started with a tremendous effort by Walsh on Champagne Fever (I did say he was the best of the Irish challenge). I'll do a thorough appraisal of the Festival results at the weekend. Let's get stuck into Day 2.
1:30 National Hunt Challenge Cup for Amateur Riders (4-miles)
This is a Challenge Cup were every horse carries the same weight (11st 6lb) excepting mares which get a 7lb allowance; and for the past 2 years, the highest rated horse in the race was the eventual winner. Therefore, the highest rated horse (Official Ratings) is a good starting point, and this year it's Back In Focus (OR150).
With 7yo's having won 5 of the last 8 running's of the race, and no 5yo winner in 35 years (and only a single win for a 6yo in 23 years), so we can put a line thru' 6yo Emperor's Choice straight-off. As usual, winning form LTO is a great pointer, and I'm looking nowhere but those who won LTO. They are, Back In Focus, Buddy Bolero, Godsmejudge, Rival D'Estruval (and 6yo Emperor's Choice). I feel both Back In Focus (75-days since last run) and Rival D'Estruval (94 days) have been off the track too long. Purely on experience alone, I am favouring GODSMEJUDGE over Buddy Bolero, but this looks a tough race to weigh-up this year.
Selection: GODSMEJUDGE, 1pt win @ 15/2 (available generally)
2:05 Neptune Novice Hurdle (2 miles & 5f)
In my opinion this is the most important novice event (chase or hurdle) of the Festival meeting, if not the entire NH calendar. With no winner older than 7yo in 39 year, 17 of the last 20 winners to have won at least twice coming into the race, and 19 of the last 22 winners had won LTO, We have reduced this to just 4 candidates: Chatterbox, Pont Alexandre, Rule The World, Taquin Du Seuil and Two Rockers. However, as 23 of the previous 25 winners had run in at least 3 hurdle races the dilemma is do we strike out hot fav Pont Alexandre (I do not consider his debut French race when he beat only 2 rivals)?
Currently, PONT ALEXANDRE is being hailed as the best thing to come out of Ireland in years. This tho' looks like being a vintage year for novice hurdlers and PONT ALEXANDRE looks the part.
2:40 RSA Chase for Novices (3-mile & 110 yards)
This the novice chasers 'Gold Cup', and the betting market was turned upside-down when Dynaste defected to the "Jewson" to be run on Thursday. RSA winners are born not made, and are bred to be a chaser. This year, the market leaders all seem to lack the usual experience. Either they haven't had 3 chase runs (Boston Bob and Goulanes), or are a bit young (6yo's Hadrian's Approach and 5yo Unioniste). I recommended a wager on HOUBLON DES OBEAUX when he was 33/1 at the time of issuing the Bulletin in mid-February, and he still looks fair value to be in the mix at 10/1 over a trip he'll love with the race this year looking like a poor year. He has won a couple of decent novice chases, handles Cheltenham's undulations, and (if the ground stays soft/heavy) won't be inconvenienced by the going.
Selection: HOUBLON DES OBEAUX, ½pt eachway @ 10/1 (Betvictor)
3:20 Queen Mother Champion Chase (2-miles)
When this race is competitive it is the most exciting and exhilarating spectacle of the entire Festival. In recent years, the race has been dominated by some exceptional 2-mile chasers which scare-off the opposition leaving the "champion" to record a facile victory. Unfortunately, this year looks like being a "walk-over" for Sprinter Sacre, and his only realistic opposition will be Sizing Europe who was 2nd in the race last year. I cannot see SPRINTER SACRE being beaten, but I do not think it will be the walkover people are expecting. I can see Sizing Europe going down fighting.
Everything points to an emphatic win from SPRINTER SACRE and since winning the "Game Spirit" chase in February 2012 he has been the leading 2-mile chaser in the UK & Ireland. I rate him at 175+ (with Sizing Europe at 168), but he could well be in the mid-180's if pushed.
Coral Cup Handicap (2-miles & 5 furlongs)
This race is a fiercely competitive handicap invariably run at a strong gallop and, with 28 runners, it looks a tough race to find the winner in. In my Bulletin, I wrote that CASH AND GO may not have won this season, but all his 3 runs have been in top handicaps. He's a half-brother to top hurdlee Catch Me (who was best at 2m4f) and the step-up in trip from 2-mile may bring out the best in him. It's a bit of a left-field selection and as the best odds are only 14/1 there is no real value in him. Another that may go well is the bottom-weight BUCK MAGIC who won LTO and get's into this race with a 5lb penalty for that win. A prominent runner, he comes he fit and in-form will appreciate the trip and ground; he's 28/1. If you are having a wager, most bookies are paying 5-places eachway.
No selection advised.

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2-miles & 110 yards)
Another race in which it looks an impossible task to find the winner. There are no mares in the race, so that angle is closed (the last 2 winners were both mares). The only horse to catch my eye going thru' the form this morning was TOTALIZE. He won LTO, and he looks to have a lot of improvement left in him. Odds of 16/1 (available generally) look fair, and with the race looking wide open, a small eachway wager could pay dividends.
Selection: TOTALIZE, ½pt eachway @ 16/1

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival 2013 - Day 1

It's what we've all been waiting for and it can't come soon enough.
At 1:30pm the roar of the crown will herald the start of the Cheltenham Festival!
There may be a few old friends and grizzled warriors missing from the rosta, but this year's festival has all the makings of being one of the most competitive we've had in recent years. We thought last year's novices were a decent bunch, but this year's novice hurdlers and chasers look a cut-above.
Before we get stuck into the runners & riders for Day 1 of the Festival a quick reminder that the most important Festival trends to take account of are:-
·         The performance of "Last Time Out" (LTO) winners;
·         Weight carried in handicaps;
·         The number of days since a horse last ran.
1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle, 5yo's plus (2-miles & 110 yards)
This is always an eagerly anticipated race, and not just because it opens the Cheltenham Festival.
This race rarely goes to a horse with an SP longer than 14/1, so concentrate on those at the head of the market, tho' with only 12 runners (the smallest field in years) it'll be a right bookies-benefit if a rank outsider wins, especially as 2 of the 12 shouldn't be in the race.
The race-fay My Tent Or Yours has obvious claims and would not look out of place in the Champion Hurdle. But, we've had similar horses fail in this race before and 6/4 is skinny. Jezki has been off too long coming into this race (of the last 13 winners, 11 had run their previous race no more that 42-days previous (ie. on or after the 29th January 2013), and Un Atout is light on experience (in 2012, the 1st-4 all had the benefit of at least 3 previous hurdle runs). Dodging Bullets was my early selection @ 14/1 in my Bulletin and I'm on at ½pt eachway. I'm expecting a good effort from him but perhaps only placed as Ruby Walsh rides Champagne Fever. It's very disappointing that Melodic Rendevous does not take part in this race (the one older horse in 2012 was the 7yo Prospect Wells who came in 5th). I'm expecting Champagne Fever to be the best of the Irish challenge. Henderson's River Maigue just doesn't look good enough. It's not an easy race, and I'm not adding to my ½pt eachway @ 14/1 on DODGING BULLETS so - if you are not already on - take the 14/1 that's available this morning (Stan James & Bet365 are BOG).
2:05 Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, (2-miles)
The "Arkle" is one of my favourite races, and I've had some good wins on Tiday Bay, Forpadydeplaster and Cue Card (yes, I was on him at 3/1 without Sprinter Sacre last year – huge value). Class as a hurdler pays dividends as a novice chaser and this year we will have 2 high-class hurdlers in the race: Simonsig (hurdle rating OR160), Overturn (Hurdle OR164).  Which will win? The Arkle is usually run at a searing pace and, on undulating track like Cheltenham, it is stamina sapping. As such, I also like my selection to have winning form in a chase further than 2-miles.
Only 7 runners for this, and I don't think there is much between the two favourites, but I reckon the value is with OVERTURN, mainly as he's a front-runner and will give Simonsig a severe jumping test, something I reckon he's yet to have.  In what effectively looks a "match" race, as I'd have these two as 6/5 joint-fav's on good ground, although on this soft going the advantage is just with SImonsig, at 4/1 you cannot ignore OVERTURN. The other 5 are just running for place money.
Selection: OVERTURN ½pt win @ 4/1 (available generally, use BOG bookmaker)
2:40 Festival Handicap Chase (3-miles & 110 yards)
This is perhaps my favourite handicap of the jumps season (excluding the Grand National) and I came very close to finding the winner last year nominating Fruity O'Rooney at 20/1 as my eachway selection on the morning of the race, and he ran 2nd having led over the final fence.
Including the 2012 winner, none of the last 13 winners have been rated higher than OR143 and, prior to Bensalem winning in 2011 with 11st 2lb, you had to go back to 1997 to find the previous winner of this race carrying a weight greater than 11st.
Those who received my bulletin will know that wagers in this on On Trend, Monbeg Dude and Chartreux are lost as they've chosen other targets. LOCH BA was named in the bulletin when he was 25/1 and he's best-price now at 12/1 and looks to hold a decent chance.
With 7 of the last 10 winners priced at odds under 8/1 it pays to look at those at the head of the market, but I don't like any of them. Our Mick (7/1) really should have had another run (or two); and Fruity O'Rooney (10/1) looks held by the handicapper. The Package (16/1) will be thereabouts but he always seems to arrive too late on the scene. Three has been a gamble on Merry King (7/1 from 12/1) but he may just be short on chasing experience having had only 4 runs, and the last of those was before Christmas! I do like the look of LOCH BA who won at Newbury LTO and looked a potential decent chaser, and tho' that form has taken a few knocks since, it still has an edge about it as he won so easily that day. 
There are 4 LTO winners in the race; Loch Ba, Cloudy Too (20/1), Nuts N Bolts (25/1), and Monkerty Tunkerty (20/1). The latter won the same veterans' race Chief Dan George did before winning this and he holds an eachway chance in this. Both Cloudy Too and Nuts N Bolts will need to prove their stamina for this trip, as they've both failed at 3-mile before.
Of the others, TOUR DES CHAMPS (28/1) has a great chance off OR139 if his jumping holds up as he looks a 150+ chaser in the making as he's not far off being in the RSA chase on Wednesday and will not fail for lack of stamina.
Those who received the Bulletin are on LOCH BA at 25/1, and he's worth a further ½pt eachway @ 12/1; and I'll also have a ¼pt eachway about TOUR DES CHAMPS @ 28/1.
LOCH BA: ½pt eachway @ 12/1 (Bet365 pay 5-places eachway & BOG)
TOUR DES CHAMPS ¼pt eachway @ 25/1 (Bet365 pay 5-places eachway & BOG)
3:20 Champion Hurdle (2-miles & 110 yards)
A small but select field for this race with only 9 runners declared, but 3 are Champion Hurdle winners – Rock On Ruby (2012), Hurricane Fly (2011) and Binocular (2010). For me, this race does not hang on whether Hurricane Fly really is one of the best hurdlers we've seen in the past 50 years, but which horse will cope best on the soft ground. Personally, I think Hurricane Fly managed to win in a year that was below standard in having only himself and Peddlers Cross of Champion Hurdle standard (Binocular had been withdrawn and stable companion Oscar Whisky ran 3rd) running.
Hurricane Fly will have no problem on the soft ground and any lack of pace will be in his favour. That said, in my opinion the best hurdler in the race is last year's winner ROCK ON RUBY. He comes into this race with proven ability (having won the race last year) but also having shown LTO that he's just as good as ever. The horse that may well follow ROCK ON RUBY home is the 5yo Countrywide Flame. Many statisticians reckon 5yo's have a poor record in the Champion Hurdle, and it is a big ask for a 5yo to win the race; but those that do compete usually run well and run better than expected, and I can see Countrywide Flame taking 2nd place. I recommended a 1pt win wager on ROCK ON RUBY to those who received my Bulletin when he was priced at odds of 6/1.  He's currently at odds of 5/1 but as the ground is possibly against him I'm not inclined to invest more.
4:00 Cross Country Handicap Chase (3-miles & 7-furlongs)
I make no secret that this is not my favourite race and it's one that I think has no place at the Festival.  If the authorities ever make the Festival 5-days, then we will have another 6 odd-ball races like this to put up with. If I had my way, I would lose this race altogether and pull the Centenary Novice Handicap Chase forward into the vacant slot.
No selection
4:40 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle (2-miles & 4-furlongs)
This is another race that is out of place at the Festival. Take out QUEVEGA and this race would be very ordinary in my opinion, and not up to Festival standard. Last year, the runner-up was Kentford Grey Lady with an official rating or OR134, and I'm expecting the same 1st & 2nd this year.
No selection in this race, but you may want to have a small forecast on QUEVEGA to beat Kentford Grey Lady.
5:15 Centenary Novices Handicap Chase (2-miles & 4½-furlongs)
I think it is a great shame that organisers have placed this as the last race on a 7 race card preceded by a couple of races that really should be run elsewhere. I would really like to see this race brought forward in the card and given more prominence. This is a very competitive race and a real head scratcher. No horse has won this at odds longer than 14/1 so the market is a good guide. As such, I feel it is between 2 of those at the head of the market; THE DRUIDS NEPHEW @ 7/1 and SHANGANI @ 8/1. I really cannot split them and it would not surprise me to see them fighting-out the finish. SHANGANI is the in top-form, yet THE DRUIDS NEPHEW has huge potential being a year younger at 6yo. There is another factor: JOHNS SPIRIT who ran a clunker LTO at Cheltenham over this trip on heavy ground but, before that, ran a cracker when beaten only by Katenko over 3-mile at Sandown on soft ground. At 16/1, he could be staying-on strong in a race where stamina may be a winning asset. This is to tricky to split them and I may "perm" all 3 in Tote "swingers".
Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
If you have a successful wager on the back of what you read here (and with over 500 regular readers, I'm assuming plenty do – that's why they keep coming back), then please make a contribution as an expression of thanks via the donate button.
Remember – gambling on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience – never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Thanks from Wayward Lad

Monday 11 March 2013

Dynaste goes for the Jewson Chase

I spent a good bit of yesterday preparing my draft blogs for Cheltenham this week and most of my wagers are either already in place or planned and awaiting the final declarations and knowledge of the odds. There have been some developments over the past couple of days, most notably DYNASTE being confirmed for the "Jewson" chase over 2m4f on Thursday rather than the 3-mile & 110 yard RSA on Wednesday. This has really stirred-up that betting market and Dynaste has been installed as the 7/4 fav for the Jewson. Next in the market for the Jewson is the Mullins trained Aupcharlie at 5/1 along with Captain Conan at similar odds. This looks like a race that will provide some decent eachway value.

The covers have been on the course at Cheltenham since Sunday afternoon, and there is the possibility of some wintry showers before the start of the Festival on Tuesday. I did think there was an outside chance that the 1st day could be lost to snow (a centimetre of snow on the covers would be almost too much to shift and guarantee racing) and on approaching some high street bookmakers for odds (I wanted £10 @ 50/1) the best odds "suggested" was just 5/1. Whatever the weather, it's almost certain that the ground will be soft on Tuesday, maybe even turning heavy during the day if there is some moisture in the air be it rain or snow or sleet. As such, it may be worth taking a "watching brief" on the initial races (Supreme Novices Hurdle, and the Arkle) and looking for some proven mud-loving stayers in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase.

Onto today, and racing goes ahead at Plumpton and Taunton altho' the planned meeting at Stratford has been lost to the weather. On this day 2 years ago, I posted up a winning double that meant followers went into the Festival with wallets full. My luck hasn't been "in" these past couple of weeks and the one horse I thought had a decent chance on Saturday, Super Ally, was the subject of a fair old gamble from 7/1 into 7/2 but managed to fall early-on at just the 6th fence. It was a race of shocks as 11yo Do It For Dalkey collapsed and died after winning the race. "Dalkey" had been on my alert list for a couple of years and had won me some money as a chaser; he always seemed to run to his best, and my commiserations go to his owner.

At Taunton, there are a couple of runners who should go well.  In the 2:50, David Pipe's QALINAS looks capable of winning again in what could be a fairly weak handicap hurdle over an extended 3-mile on soft ground. At least we know the horse should stay this sort of trip on soft ground, whereas that is a question-mark over the rest of his rivals. As such, odds of 9/2 (William Hill & BetVictor) look fair. Later in the afternoon, I'll be really surprised if THE KNOXS cannot take the 4-runner "Veterans" chase over 3m5f. Yes, this trip will be further than he's run before but he's a decent horse at his best and I think he should be a lot shorter than 9/4 (available generally) for this race. I'm not recommending individual wagers on these horses today, as the races they are competing in are not the sort I like to wager in being either too weak (and so unpredictable) or having too few runners (and greater likelihood of false pace and tactical misjudgement), but I am having a personal small win "double" on these at what look attractive odds about horses from top trainers.

The "draft" blog for tomorrow and the first day of the Festival will be sent out around 9pm tonight (maybe a little later) to those in receipt of the bulletin. If you want to receive my draft blogs the night before racing this week and get a copy of my Cheltenham Bulletin plus all my handicap updates; then just hit the "donate" button and donate at least £8.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
If you have a successful wager on the back of what you read here (and with over 500 regular readers, I'm assuming plenty do – that's why they keep coming back), then please make a contribution as an expression of thanks via the donate button.
Remember – gambling on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience – never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Thanks from Wayward Lad

Saturday 9 March 2013

Heavy ground, so play it safe

Last night I took part in a Festival internet chat on http://gallopslive.com along with a few other blogger and Twitter tipsters. It was really enjoyable and hopefully we can do something similar before the Aintree Grand National meeting in a few weeks time.

We have 3 solid meetings today at Sandown, Ayr and Chepstow. At Sandown, the going is now heavy so it could be a bit tricky finding winners here. The 3-mile handicap chase at 2:40 will only have 6-runners and Rigadin De Beauchene  comes here instead of Cheltenham next week so he must have a strong chance. Is he worth opposing? Well, he’s had some hard races this season and this may be a trip to the well too much, but if he repeats his form of LTO then he’ll win. Paul Nicholls does not have many runners out today, but one is There’s No Panic and odds of 5/1 about this one may be interesting. However, the booking of McCoy on McCains LIVELY BARON is what catches my eye. This horse stays all day long and yes, he was beaten by the fav LTO but all his best form is in small fields of 10 or less. More than 10 runners and he struggles, so I can see him showing much improved form in this race from LTO. He won a tough race here in December on soft ground and races today off the same mark. For me, 8/1 (Ladbrokes and Stan James) is far too big.

The Imperial Cup is not my sort of race so I’ll not waste my time on it. That said, ARNAUD will be using this as a prep for the County Hurdle next week, so expect a bold show and take note.
In the final race on the card, ARBEO was the last horse to beat Emperor’s Choice and that one is rated 19lb higher now, whereas ARBEO is 16lb higher from that meeting. He should hold Ballyallia Man on this ground as that was what seemed to stop the latter LTO.

At Chepstow, Duke Of Monmouth (in the 3:05) deserves a win, but he really looks like he needs to go chasing now as he’s too one-paced as a hurdler. An old friend of mine runs in this – SARANDO. This horse should be a 150+ chaser but he’s lost his way and today runs off OR119. However, LTO he showed that he’s coming back into form and he will love this ground (the softer the better for him) and was rated OR139 as a novice hurdler. The last time he won – on heavy at Lingfield – Liam Treadwell rode, and he’s in the saddle today. Odds of 12/1 look interesting.

I’ve been waiting a long time for AS DE FER to come back to racing. He was broken by the heavy ground when attempting the Welsh National in Dec ’11, but before that he looked very useful when fresh off a long break over 3-mile on soft ground. Unfortunately, odds of 4/1 is pitiful and there’s no value in him.

At Ayr, Timmy Murphy gets on really well with SUPER ALLY and they can win the 3:25. The trip of 3m1f will suit and so will the soft ground. Murphy is only at Ayr to ride this horse and a repeat of their performance when 2nd at Carlisle in November will see him take this race. His run LTO was decent as the 4 who beat him were all well fancied and in good form before and since. He also had some decent horses behind him (for instance LIVELY BARON), and odds of 13/2 (Corals) look fair, especially as I’ve just missed 7/1.

Ayr 3:25, SUPER ALLY, ½pt eachway @ 13/2 (Corals 5th odds a place, BOG)
NOTE: odds reduced at 10:25am to 11/2 so NO BET.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
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Friday 8 March 2013

The quiet before the storm

It's a bit like the quiet before the storm as we all anticipate the Cheltenham Festival next week. Plans are starting to come together and the early declarations for the 1st day of the Festival on Tuesday are in today's Racing Post.

Tonight, I'm taking part in a Festival internet chat on http://gallopslive.com along with a few other blogger and Twitter tipsters. It starts at 7pm and will run for about 90 mins, so why not log-on and take part.

The William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle that opens the Festival is now down to 19 runners as it looks like My Tent Or Yours has scared-off most of the "peripheral" opposition, but it still looks a high-class field. Those who are in receipt of my Cheltenham Bulletin will know the horse that I've pinned my hopes on, and if you want to receive the bulletin (and all 4 handicap updates) just donate at least £8 using the "donate" button at the top of the screen and will issue it as soon as the deposit is received. The real "dark-horse" in the Supreme is the ex-flat racer Flying Cross (from the David Pipe stable) who is yet to jump a hurdle. It would be asking a huge amount for him to win this race on his hurdle debut.

The Racing Post Arkle has 12 declared runners at the moment, and that will probably reduce further as I can't see Aupcharlie, Tap Night or Viva Colonia taking part, and even the likes of Majala, Marito and His Excellency could side-step this encounter with Simonsig and Overturn. Willie Mullins was full of confidence about Arvika Ligeonniere in the Weekender interview this week, and 8/1 eachway looks a fair wager antepost if only 6 line-up at the start.

The JLT Speciality Handicap Chase is down to 57 entries. There are a few in this that catch my eye and I've highlighted their chances in the Handicap Updates sent out to those who have donated for the bulletin. There is one in particular who looks to have a huge chance in my opinion.

The Stan James Champion hurdle is down to just 10 runners but what a field – it includes the last 3 Champion Hurdle winners. Again, I've pinned my hopes to a particular horse who has been named in my bulletin. I would expect a couple more to come out of this race, probably Cotton Mill and Khyber Kim.

The Cross Country Chase is now at 31 runners, but I think there is a safety limit of 20 on this race, so expect there to be a few more to come out yet. The 12yo LEAC AN SCAIL has been in great form of late and he may be worth a little tickle at 25/1 for this.

The Mares' Hurdle will go to QUEVEGA, and she'll probably be followed home again by Kentford Grey Lady who was 2nd in this race last year and has looked an improved performer this season. Even so, she still has 15lb+ to find to trouble Quevega.

The day ends with the Rewards4Racing Novices' handicap chase and, with 54 standing their ground, this race is still up in the air as to who will line-up at the start.

There are no selections today. Yesterdays selection BEAU DANDY did not run well as he was unable to dominate the race as he likes to. He was sent off the 9/2 fav, so we did manage to get some "value" on him by taking the morning odds of 13/2, but his performance wasn't good enough. The racing today looks "bitty" and I'm giving it a miss as there looks like being an opportunity or two tomorrow.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope you get enjoyment from it.
If you have a successful wager on the back of what you read here (and with over 500 regular readers, I'm assuming plenty do – that's why they keep coming back), then please make a contribution as an expression of thanks via the donate button.
Remember – gambling on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience – never bet more than you can afford to lose.
Thanks from Wayward Lad