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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.


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Saturday 5 April 2014

Grand National at Aintree

What a race we have in store for us today. A full complement of 40 horses and riders will be chasing the biggest prize - a million pounds - in jump racing. But first, yesterday, and altho' there was no blog issued (internet problems) I did send out a couple of selections on twitter including HOLYWELL who won at 7/2 and was installed at 12/1 in the Gold Cup market for next March.

I took a good look at the Grand National earlier this week and narrowed the field down to just 5. They are:-TEAFORTHREE @ 12/1 (available generally)
DOUBLE SEVEN @ 14/1 (available generally)
TRIOLO D’ALENE @ 22/1 with Bet365 paying 5-places eachway
CHANCE DU ROY @ 33/1 (available generally)
VINTAGE STAR @ 66/1 (available generally)
To those 5 there is only one other that I would add:
ALVARADO @ 33/1 (available generally)

If you are placing bets then make sure you check the terms of the bookies. Try and avoid those paying only 4-places eachway (Coral and William Hill) as all the rest offer 5-places except Bet Victor - and they are offering 6-places eachway.

At 12/1 I think TEAFORTHREE is great value to be in the 1st-5 and has a favorites chance of winning. He will be in the front-rank throughout the race and should give his supporters a great run. At the odds, I'm going to pass-over DOUBLE SEVEN as now AP McCoy has been confirmed as his rider he does not look value at 14/1.  One who looks destined to run a cracking race is TRIOLO D'ALENE. His trainer Nicky Henderson sent 3 winners out at Aintree yesterday and has his horses in tip-top form. TRIOLO D'ALENE won the Topham Chase last year, and then won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and was well fancied to go close in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The worry is that he's carrying a big weight of 11st 6lb so he could be found wanting in the final mile.
There are no weight problems for CHANCE DU ROY: he's only carrying 10st 6lb and has a good record over the National fences having won the Becher Chase last December, and he ran 2nd in the Topham Chase in April 2012. To be honest, I thought he'd be 16/1 for this race and at 33/1 he has to be on the list of eachway wagers. Also with a light-weight is VINTAGE STAR with just 10st 7lb. You have to ignore his last run at Cheltenham - he seems to hate that track - but, before that, he ran a cracker at Haydock in the Peter Marsh Chase. The ground today will be perfect for him and - judged on his close 2nd to Hey Big Spender last November - he has an outstanding chance. Odds of 66/1 are an insult to the horse and he should be trading at less than 20/1.
I've added ALVARADO into consideration as this horse has sneaked into the race with just 10st 2lb . He seems to have unlimited stamina and the further the better for him. He does race at the rear early on, so don't get despondent if you don't hear his name early in the race as he'll be staying-on like a train in the final mile.
Finally, I can't finish this blog without a mention for the horse my girlfriend has put her money on - THE PACKAGE. He hated his experience when he next ran in the race in 2010, but he has tremendous for in handicaps coming 4th in the 2012 Hennessy Gold Cup and 3rd at Cheltenham last month with subsequent Aintree winners Holywell and Ma Filleule the only ones ahead of him.
My advised wagers on the race:
TEAFORTHREE - £5 eachway @ 12/1
CHANCE DU ROY - £5 eachway @ 33/1
VINTAGE STAR - £5 eachway @ 66/1
Total = £30 staked

Of the rest of the card, there is nothing much that looks a value wager except in the 3:25 which is the 3m1f handicap chase. I've long had a eye on WIESENTRAUM and he looks well handicapped off OR130 for this race and has the benefit of 1st-time blinkers. He should be trading a lot shorter than 20/1 (Skybet and Sportingodds) and looks a decent eachway wager.

Aintree 3:25 - WIESENTRAUM, £5 eachway @ 20/1

All the best to readers, and let's hope all the horses go home safe and well.
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Thanks from Wayward Lad

Thursday 3 April 2014

Dynaste to show who's the boss

We have a tremendous day of racing at Aintree for the opening day of the Grand National meeting. I remember attending this meeting in the early 1980's and, no doubt about it, the quality of the overall meeting has improved – but whoever was responsible for moving the "Doom Bar" Aintree Hurdle from Saturday to the Thursday needs a kick up the backside.
The day opens with the 2-mile Juvenile Hurdle, a race which has a tremendous role of honour and one which invariably goes to the favourite. This year the fav (at the time of writing) is Calipto who looked desperately unlucky not to be involved in the finish of the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and he should prove too strong for the winner of the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton, Activial. One who I will be watching closely is the horse I wagered on in the Triumph Hurdle; Broughton. Trainer John Ferguson has booked AP McCoy for the ride and the horse wears 1st-time blinkers.
Next up we have one of the best races of the meeting, the eagerly awaited Betfred Bowl Chase over 3m1f.  On the formbook, this looks a match between Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti. The Irish challenger First Lieutenant won the race last year and is strongest at this trip, but he's no better that 162 on my ratings and will need to find over 7lb of improvement to win today.  He may have beaten Silviniaco Conti into 3rd last year, and he could well do the same again today (as there is no pace in the race to get the best out of "Conti") but I can't see him getting the better of Dynaste. This looks set-up for Dynaste to show that he should have gone for the Gold Cup and not the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Dynaste won the novice chase over the C&D at this meeting last year so we know he'll enjoy the conditions, and the race looks like being run to suit him.
I remember watching Monksfield, Night Nurse and Daring Run win the Aintree Hurdle when it was run on the Saturday prior to the Grand National in the late 1970's and early 1980's, and this race is one of the feature races of the hurdling calendar. Why it's being run on Thursday and not Saturday is beyond me. Is The New One fit to join the winner's roster? He's certainly improved a few pounds since running 2nd in this race last year to Zarkandar, but he's still yet to achieve the OR170 rating Rock On Ruby held when a 2-mile hurdler. I wouldn't read too much into when this pair met at Kempton last October as Rock On Ruby was nowhere near as fit then as he will be today. Connections were planning a step-up in trip and possible World Hurdle attempt after that Kempton race, so I've no concerns about today's 2m4f trip and, at 14/1 with Bet Victor, Rock On Ruby looks a decent wager. If you are not inclined to take on The New One, then odds of 100/30 without The New One (Bet Victor and Paddy Power) look good to me.
The Manifesto Novices Chase at 4:50 over 2m4f looks a cracker of a puzzle to solve despite there being only 5-runners. Before I started writing this blog, I was going to pass on making a selection in this race as I expected Western Warhorse, winner of the "Arkle" at the Cheltenham Festival, to be the 6/4 fav.  I've just looked and the horse is at 11/4 with a number of bookies (Bet365, Bet Victor, Paddy Power and Stan James). There will be no issues regarding stamina for this horse, and this 6yo won LTO like a step-up in trip to 2m4f would suit him even more. Oscar Whisky is the 9/4 fav but I think his OR156 rating is generous and I have him at about 151, or 10lbs behind Western Warhorse. All the others are chasing the place money.
Aintree 3:05 – ROCK ON RUBY, £10 win @ 14/1 with Bet Victor
And £10 win (without The New One) @ 100/30
Aintree 4:50 – WESTERN WARHORSE, £10 win @ 11/4 (Bet Victor, Bet365, Paddy Power, Stan James)

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Preview of the 167th Grand National

At 4:15pm on 5th April 2014 we will witness the start of the 167th Grand National run at Aintree. This is a race that I have long been aligned with, having grown-up in the nearby town of Maghull just 3-miles north of the Aintree racecourse. For those who don’t know, horseracing started at Maghull in 1827, with horseracing at Aintree starting in 1829. The neighbouring tracks fought for superiority over the next few years but it was no contest really as the ground at Aintree was far superior to the swampy floodplain of the river Alt on which the track at Maghull was situated. As such, racing was unable to flourish at Maghull and the track closed for good in 1835.

Aintree racecourse has also had a chequered history and the track has changed considerably over the decades, with significant changes being undertaken to the course in my lifetime. The latest changes undertaken prior to the race being run last year resulted in just 2 of the 40 starters falling during the course of the race. The entire complexion of the race seems to have changed from one which required an exceptionally safe jumper of a fence to win, to one which calls more for stamina and endurance as a priority. As such, it may be that we will see over the next few years a different set of criteria are required to find the winner.

Some things tho’ won’t change, and weight is always a significant barrier to victory when racing over extreme distances. Last year, only Tea For Three with 11st 3lb carried more than 11st from the first 11 finishers in the race.  With neither last years winner nor the runner-up taking part this year, Tea For Three who ran 3rd has to have a great chance of being there again at the finish on Saturday with 5lb less weight to carry (even if his official rating is 2lb greater at OR153 than in 2013). Because of the weight factor, I cannot consider top-weight Tidal Bay with 11st 10lb. He ran in the race in 2011 (when trained by Howard Johnson) and never looked happy until losing his rider at the 10th fence. In 2011, only 1 horse from the 1st-7 carried more than 11st and that was the 2010 Grand National winner Don’t Push It. For the same reason I can’t have Long Run, who I think is also badly handicapped on OR160. Hunt Ball on OR158 with 11st 7lb is essentially a 2m5f horse and he won’t stay this trip. I think the last 7yo winner was in 1940, so for that reason I shouldn’t consider Triolo D’Alene but he won  the Topham Chase over these fences last year and then followed-up in the Hennessey last autumn; he could be one for the places especially as he’s been targeted as a National horse for the past 12 months. I also like the chance of Rocky Creek on 11st 6lb who chased home the Hennessey winner and has also been trained with this race in mind all season. The doubt I have with him is his lack of chase form as this would be only his 8th chase race. On 11st 1lb, Quito De La Roque has all his best form on soft/heavy ground which he’s not going to get on Saturday. All-in-all, I can’t see the winner coming from those carrying more than 11st, but 1 or 2 could get in the frame. Remember to take advantage of the bookies terms in this race: several major firms are paying 5-places on eachway wagers (Bet365, Skybet, Boyles, Paddy Power, Stan James) and Bet Victor are paying 6-places. So get your money down early with one of these firms.

It seems most likely that the winner will be carrying 11st or less, but more than 10st. Back in the mid-1980’s, I read the autobiography of well-known punter Alex Bird, hoping to find a nugget or two in genuine knowledge. He gave nothing away but one fact: he declared he’d backed the winner of the Grand National every year since 1947 and said it was one of the easiest races to fathom. This set me thinking and after reviewing the winners I noticed that since 1947 only 5 of the subsequent 39 winners (this was prior to 1986) had carried just 10st – all the others had carried more, therefore were in the handicap “proper”. I realised that by dismissing the chances of horses with more than 11st and those from outside the handicap, you could reduce the contenders from 40 runners to maybe less than 10 to consider. That year, I backed the winner Maori Venture with 10st 13lb at 40/1 antepost and persuaded all my friends to get on at 28/1 on the day. As such, I’m not interested in any of the 65 still entered for the race that are handicapped to carry less than 10st – if they manage to get into the race they are unlikely to hold a winning chance.

I’m not going to look at each horse in turn as that is too time-consuming, but there is a lot of dead-wood in this race in the form of Colbert Station, Wayward Prince and Burton Port amongst others. For instance, Balthazar King couldn’t win off OR146 last year so he’s unlikely to win off OR159 this year.  In fact, apart from Tea For Three, I’m happy to dismiss the chance of any of those that ran in the race last year.

Of the remainder, the Irish-trained Munster National winner Double Seven looks very well treated on the form of that race off OR148 with 10st 11lb to carry. The ground will be in his favour and the likelihood is he’ll be ridden by AP McCoy (not yet confirmed).  Not so Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude off OR146 with 10st 9lb. He’s 9lb worse-off with Tea For Three on that form and will find it difficult to peg back the front-running Tea For Three in what will certainly be a fast-run race.  This seasons Welsh National winner, Mountainous, is a confirmed mud-lark and he won’t get his ground this weekend; and nor will the runner-up that day – Hawkes Point. Not far behind them that day was Vintage Star and he is a much better horse on better ground. He never ran a yard at Cheltenham LTO, but he doesn’t like that track and the rest of his form this season has been excellent and, of course, he’s trained by Sue Smith who sent out last year’s winner of the race. 

Form over the National fences is worth its weight in gold and I’m already big on the chance of Triolo D’Alene and Tea For Three; but don’t overlook Chance Du Roy who won the Becher Chase last December, and has previously run 2nd in the Topham Chase in 2012. So long as the ground isn’t too quick he could run a big race.

That’s my current assessment of the race on Saturday. I’d advise taking 5 against the field in  the race as luck always plays it’s part at some point.

My 5 are:-

TEA FOR THREE @ 8/1 (available generally)

DOUBLE SEVEN @ 20/1 (Bet Victor)

TRIOLO D’ALENE @ 20/1 (Bet365, Paddy Power, Stan James)

CHANCE DU ROY @ 33/1 (Bet Victor)

VINTAGE STAR @ 40/1 (Bet Victor)

Hopefully we’ll have the winner amongst them and at least one or two other placed horses.