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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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Friday 31 October 2014

The weekend starts here

We have a weekend of top jump racing at Wetherby, Ascot, Ayr and Uttoxeter and - with good weather expected - there should be no excuses.
A quick apology for the lack of a blog last Saturday. Unfortnately, the internet access at home was diabolical on Saturday (thank you Talktalk) and it was near impossible to undertake any form study on the morning. I'm taking a look at the weekends racing a day early (today) and will have a draft blog written before the end of this afternoon.
So far, it has been a very disappointing start to my jump campaign on the betting front. A large part of the reason for the poor start is that my job has become a lot more busier than it used to be. I'm going to have a think over the next couple of weeks as to whether providing selections this season is a viable exercise given that my time for form-study is restricted. I've also committed myself to producing a "companion" blogsite focussing on the Cheltenham Festival and it may be prudent to relax my committment to Wayward Lad to a weekend newsletter.

Onto today's racing and the exciting meeting at Wetherby.
The feature race there is the Listed handicap chase over 2m4f & 110 yards, and the fav is Silver Roque.  I'll admit that this horse is on my alert list with an instruction to wager on him first-time-out - which is today. This horse is very good when fresh, but he comes here today on OR142 which is 10lbs more than the OR132 he won off on his seasonal debut in November 2013.  Also, his record on good ground isn't too hot and he's far better with a bit of "give" in the ground. As such, I think he's opposable. The obvious one to take him on with is 2nd-fav Trustan Times, but he's more of a 3-mile chaser as was shown when 3rd in the Scottish National when last seen.  Off The Ground looks to be harshly treated on OR143 based on his last few runs and he has something to prove today. But, a return to the form of his wins at Doncaster in Nov/Dec last year will see him go well today. Doeslessthanme will find this trip stretching him and he's a good horse over 2-mile.  Much the same can be said of Mwaleshi, but this unexposed 9yo who will be having only his 5th chase run could spring a surprise. Last season Viva Colonia started off on my alert list but, after a promising start to the season, he didn't progress. Even so, he ran to a consistent level being rated OR144 after running 2nd over 2m4f on soft in January. He was outclassed last weekend and the handicapper has given him a chance today with OR138. The ground is no problem and odds of 16/1 look mighty interesting. Shadows Lengthen won a couple in the Spring, including over 2m4f at Haydock on good ground in March off OR129. On reflection, his OR131 rating today looks very fair, as he has had a spin over hurdles to bring him to fitness, so he can;t be discounted either. I was intending on making my selection Cedre Bleu but now I've written this race review I'm not so sure. No doubt about it, Cedre Bleu is a horse with plenty of ability but with a reticense to show it. He's been called a few names by not winning races he should've, but a change of trainer - he has his first run for Charlie Mann today - could be the making of him. The odds are not generous tho, as he's best-priced at 6/1 with Bet365.  Brian Ellison has a good record here at Wetherby and that combined with his consistency last season (despite not winning) and that he had a run last week points me in the direction of VIVA COLONIA at 16/1.

Wetherby 2:15 VIVA COLONIA, £5 eachway @ 16/1 (Stan James, Bet365, Bet Victor - all go BOG and a 5th the odds a place 1,2,3)

Monday 20 October 2014

Review of the weekends Jump Racing

Not the best of days for the blog on Saturday.
The main focus of my attantion was the 2m4f handicap chase at Chelenham which was won for the 2nd-year in succession by JOHNS SPIRIT.  As I wrote in the blog, his performance when 4th at the Cheltenham Festival in the Byrne Group Plate showed he was capable of winning off OR147. As such, he made my shortlist of 4 horses who were potential winners of the race, and the reasons why I overlooked were (1) he was 22lb worse-off with the consistent ASTRACAD from that win 12-months ago, and (2) as such, he needed a career-best run to win.
Sure enough, Astracad ran his usual consistent race and came home 4th; but JOHNS SPIRIT won in convincing style beating off the sustained challenge of Persian Snow. Long-term readers of the blog will know about Persian Snow, as he was one of my Cheltenham Festival selections when he ran a promising 6th in the Rewards4Racing Novices handicap Chase.  The form of Saturdays race looks rock-solid and I'd be keen to follow both JOHNS SPIRIT and PERSIAN SNOW when they run next-time-out.
What is more galling about the race result is that the only horse in the race on my alert list was the winner and I chose to overlook him.
I'd also be keen on the 3rd-placed ERICHT next-time-out as this was only his 6th chase race, and it was easily the best chase performance he's put up to date. It should be remembered that he was 5th in the Coral Cup handicap hurdle at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. Given he was beaten 7-lengths on Saturday it's unlikely the handicapper will be hard on him for this.
Another worth keeping an eye out for NTO is CHAMPION COURT. He always needs his seasonal debut and should improve 10lb+ for this race. He ran 7th in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last year off OR157 and then went on to contest the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon where he was just touched-off by Riverside Theatre in what was his best performance last season. I'd like to see him return to Cheltenham for another go at the Paddy Power, and this year it wont be his seasonal debut.

My other selection on Saturday was Mon Parrain in the 3m1f Class 2 handicap Chase. The less said about this performance, the better. I had hoped that trainer Paul Nicholls had got this horses head straight after he won at Cheltenham in April; but no. Saying that, even if he'd run 5lb better than he did in April, he still wouldn't have won this race and may not have been in the 1st-4.  This was a tremendous performance by ROALCO DE FARGES, who  has now won 3 of his last 6 completed chases. It should be remembered that he ran 2nd to Tidal Bay in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2012 after which he wasn't seen again until February this year. He's won on both his visits to Newbury over the fences there, and if he goes for the Hennessey Gold Cup next he'll surely be one of the market leaders. It's unlikely the handicapper will raise him more than 10lb for this win. When I wrote Saturdays blog I highlighted my opinion that I thought STANDING OVATION was well handicapped, and so it proved as he ran a great race to be 2nd, but he had no chance with the winner. Had I known LE BEC would be a non-runner, then I'd have made STANDING OVATION my selection, but it would have been "win" only. STANDING OVATION may find himself vulnerable if raised more than 5lb for this. In 3rd was ALFIE SPINNER, and his horse hasn't won since December 2011, nearly 4 years ago!  He was a very good novice chaser, but he's never quite returned to that form since. However, he is another who finds improvement for a run, and I'll be interested in where he goes next after this.

My old friend FOXCUB made an error early-on in the handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, and yet still ran a respectable 5th and so he looks primed for a good run NTO.

At Kelso, the 3m2f Class 3 handicap chase went to the horses who were race-fit from a recent run: Carlito Brigante and Gleann Na Ndochais. Given the fallers early-on in the race, I thought that FILL THE POWER had the rade gifted to him, but he ran like he needed it runing-out of puff about 6-furlongs out. He'll strip a lot fitter NTO when I'll be expecting to recoup losses.

I was beating myself up yesterday for missing out on JOHNS SPIRIT, and maybe I was trying too hard to find a winner at odds longer than 8/1. A £20 win wager on JOHNS SPIRIT would have recouped the losses so far this jumps season, and this was a lost opportunity. Similarly, had I permed the 4 from my shortlist into 12 straight-forecasts hen I'd have been richly rewarded, the straight forecast paying £43.69 to a £1 stake.

What readers of the blog should take from this is that the narrative provides as much advice to make profit from as the selections (when they are successful).

Saturday 18 October 2014

Cheltenham - the jumps are back!

Perhaps I should have been a bit more aggressive yesterday, as the 2 horses that I thought had distinct winning opportunities - VICENTE and THE ROMFORD PELE - both won at useful odds, and my opinion that THE YOUNG MASTER had been under-appreciated by the handicapper was absolutely spot-on as he won at 9/1.

While Vicente was a bit fortunate, there was never a moments doubt about THE ROMFORD PELE. I expected the early-morning odds (he was best-priced at 15/8) to shorten, and I fully expected him to start at 6/4 or maybe shorter; as such, there's no way I could recommend him as a wager. My policy has always been not to recommend a wager at odds less than 9/4, and that policy remains in place this sesaon. Still, altho' I didn't recommend a winning wager, the blog narrative was strong enough to point those who read it (and wanted to have a wager) onto winners at odds of 7/2, 9/4 and 9/1.
On to today, and while there is the “Champions Day” meeting at Ascot, I’m more interested in the jumps meeting at Cheltenham. We had spectacular success on this day last year when I posted just the one selection, Johns Spirit, which was advised at 14/1 early on the morning of the race. It was probably one of the easiest winners I found all season, almost doing cartwheels up the hill to the finish line. This is where an alert list comes into its own.

After yesterday’s confidence boosting success, I'm more than hopeful of a good result today.

Cheltenham opens with a novice hurdle and VIVALDI COLLONGES is a horse I've had on my alert list for some time. He future lies over fences, so I'm not tempted to take a short-price about him today. 

That is followed by what looks to be a very competitive 2m4f handicap chase - the one won by Johns Spirit last year, and Johns Spirit comes back to try and win it again. His performance when 4th at the Cheltenham Festival in the Byrne Group Plate showed he's capable of winning off OR147 over todays C&D. Whether he'll be fit enough today is debateable, but he was certainly was last year. In 2013, Astracad gave him 13lb, but today he gets 9lb - that's a 22lb turnaround. As such he has to be on the shortlist as he's so consistent at this trip. Ackertsc is another who's had trouble finding the winners enclosure yet is very consistent and well handicapped today off OR137. Another I think is well handicapped is Persian Snow who also ran well at the Festival. The winner should come from those 4 in my opinion. Johns Spirit will need a career-best to win today, but being only a 7yo (he seems to have been around for ages) he should still have some improvement to come. Personally, I think he'll prove better at 3-mile this season (that's where he was aimed as a novice chaser). So, at today's weights I'm going for ASTRACAD who should be in the mix. He's best-priced at 8/1 with Ladbrokes who go a 5th the odds a place.

The days feature race is a 3m1f handicap chase and the top-weight Le Bec is on my shortlist as a potential 155+ chaser. So, if he's up to that level then he'll prove hard to beat today. My old friend Midnight Appeal remains on my shortlist, but he's likes soft/heavy ground and Cheltenham hasn't been his favourite track in the past. Personally, I don't think Dursey Sound has run well enough to be rated OR141, but Standing Ovation has certainly shown himself to be better than OR129. He ran a cracker at the Festival in the race won by Holywell, and runs off a 2lb lower mark today. There are some poorly handicapped horses in this race (eg Mart Lane, and Duke Of Lucca) so those that are well-in should do well as they should break-away in the final mile. MON PARRAIN is one such horse and he is still lightly raced for an 8yo. The trip and ground will suit him today and at 16/1 he looks a real eachway steal. He won over C&D in April when he last ran, and his OR144 rating looks lenient on what he's done in the past. He's had his issues but, on his day, he's a very talented horse.

Finally, another from my alert list - FOXCUB. I really like this horse as he's very consistent and always gives his best.  He ran a great race at this meeting last season (he ran 3rd over 2-mile) but improved on that when sent over this sort of trip. He had a good pipe-opener at Fontwell recently when 2nd, so comes here race fit, with ground, trip and track in his favour. Unfortunately, he has a big weight to carry 11st 8lb, and no horse has carried more than 11st 2lb to win this in recent years. I can see him being placed but it may prove tough for him to win, so I'll be on him place-only.

Cheltenham 2:35 ASTRACAD, £5 eachway @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes, 5th odds a place BOG)
Cheltenham 3:45 MON PARRAIN, £5 eachway @ 16/1 (Bet Victor and Stan James, quarter-odds a place BOG)

Friday 17 October 2014

Cheltenham to welcome a new master

Yesterdays selection Greywell Boy gave us no sort of run as his stamina gave out half-a-mile out. This has been the worst start to a jumps season for me since I started blogging, so I'm going to be a bit more selective with my selections.
We are at Cheltenham for the 2-day meeting, but todays races look lacking in opportunity for me. The opening novice hurdle race looks between Vicente and Blaklion to me, as this can only be a pipe-opener for Present View en-route to the Paddy Power Handicap Chase here in November. Altho' Blaklion has won recently nd is race-fit, I don't expect VICENTE to arrive here unprepared and on what we've seen of him he looks the better horse. He also has a 5lb advantage on the weights and the odds of 4/1 (avaibable generally) about him for this look tempting.
The 3-mile handicap hurdle at 3:15 is another race that looks interesting as I have a couple from my alert list in this race. They are ON THE BRIDGE and SAMINGARRY.
ON THE BRIDGE looks interesting in that he ran 4th in this race last year off OR139 and he runs off OR137 today. He comes into this race in form and fit and odds of 10/1 look fair. I'm not expecting much from Samingarry as this run is a seasonal pipe-opener before going chasing.
The 3-mile novice chase at 3:50 looks to be a "match" between THE ROMFORD PELE and Highland Retreat. I think it's a big ask of of Highland Retreat to take on THE ROMFORD PELE, even when in-receipt of 15lb, on her chase debut as she'll need to run 135+ to win. She might well end up 150+ but a chase debut at Cheltenham is tough.  Odds of 15/8 about THE ROMFORD PELE look interesting.
The amateur riders handicap chase at 5:00 over and extended 3-mile looks a tricky race. The blog went close to finding the winer last year with Handy Andy who was left 6-lengths clear jumping the last before failing to stay up the hill. I have never thought the race-fav Balbriggan is a "proper" 3-mile chaser and I expect his stamina to be exposed today. The one I think may do the winning is THE YOUNG MASTER, as the handicapper has very little to go on (just one race) in allotting him a rating of OR121 and he should be "in-the-van" for most of the race. Odds of 9/1 (Stan James and William Hill) look fair in the circumstances for this 5yo.

I'm not making a selection today, as I want to find one at odds of between 3/1 - 6/1 that I can make a straight "win" wager and, while I VICENTE fits the odds criteria, novice hurdles isn't really my strongpoint.

All the best from Wayward Lad.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Fortune favours the brave

Not the best of luck for yesterdays selections, with both running 2nd in their races.
Oyster Shell looked like winning his race until he hit the 3rd-last fence hard when under pressure, losing vital momentum. He'd been given a confident ride by 3lb claimer Jake Greenall up until that point, and he looked to me to be the best horse in the race by a long way.  As such I'm sure that todays loss will only be money "lent" to the bookies.  I've rated this race through the 3rd-placed horse
Toledo Gold, and I reckon Oyster Shell ran about 8lb below his best of last season.
My other selection, Alderbrook Lad, was beaten fair & square,
That races winner was Foundation Man, and this half-brother to "Arkle" Captain Chris seems to have put last seasons jumping issues behind him and he finally looks like becoming the horse he promised to be. He may be raised about 7lb from his current rating of OR127 for the win, but he may end up rated 145+ before the season is out.

There are a couple of jumps meetings today at Uttoxeter and Wincanton. There appears nothing of interest at Uttoxeter, but Wincanton looks better, especially the class 3 chase at 3:50. This 2m4f & 110 yard handicap has a couple of alert horses in it: AL ALFA and GREYWELL BOY. Of the pair, my ratings suggest GREYWELL BOY has the better chance. He started last season rated OR127, and today he's rated lower at OR124 despite having a good season in which he ran consistently including winning at Sandown in March off OR122.  He started last season with a good run, and showed this trip is within his scope when 2nd at Warwick in February - he had some decent horses behnd him that day and the form was probably stronger than it appeared at the time as he won NTO at Sandown. Current odds are 14/1 which seem generous as he could well be on the scene at the finish. The pace should be good throughout, which will put jumping ability to the fore, and GREYWELL BOY does jump well.  I'm on eachway as with 5 horses priced at odds between 9/2 - 6/1 there is nothing outstanding at the weights and, as he's capable of 130+, GREYWELL BOY has the potential to run much better than his mark.

Wincanton 3:50 GREYWELL BOY, £5 eachway @ 14/1 (available with Bet365, Bet Victor, Stan James & William Hill, all go B.O.G.)

Following the form with horseracing is a time-consuming task. It's one that can't be done half-hearted and, if you don't consider every horse in the race in question, you can be sure it's a horse you haven't considered that comes out and wins. Sometimes, due to time contraints, I can't give a form selection. This is the primary factor that drives me to use an "alert list" for the majority of my personal wagers and those advised on this blog.

When considering how you are going to follow the jumps season, some of you may want to be attached to a professional service. There are 3 services that I have been aware of (and used myself from time-to-time) since the jumps season of 2009-10 when I started using twitter and commenced blogging. They are:-
Narrowing-the-Field (NTF)
Racing Bulletin

Formbet is run by Dave McAuley.  Dave produces a daily set of ratings based on his own unique set of criteria that seems to take just about every variable into account, and then some more! If the colour of a jockeys underpants has an effect on the result, you can be sure Dave has the stats to back it up. What is good about Dave's ratings is that you can buy them for just the day, so you are not tied-in to a long subscription.

Narrowing-the-Field (or NTF, for short) is run by Ben Aitken. Ben is a trends-spotter (not a train-spotter, a trends-spotter). Essentially, Ben researches what links race winners and what they have in common.  This is a service for someone who does not want to have a wager in many races on a particular day, but looks at racing in the way (perhaps) Sherlock Holmes would. Access to Ben's service is by the season, and he's currently looking for members (an a discount is available at the time of writing) but, once his ranks are full the doors are closed till the following season. Even if you don't subscribe, NTF provides a wealth of free information throughout the year.

Racing Bulletin is run by Richard Stoddart. This is also a ratings service, but is simpler in format than that of Formbet, but is just as effective. Alongside the ratings, there is also a resident tipster (Matt Johnson) who provides a small number of select wagering opportunities. Racing Bulletin offer a 14-day free trial if you follow the link on this blog page. Should you take-up a subscription to the service (via the link on this blog) then I will recieve a small commission.

All the best from Wayward Lad

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Jump racing moves into full swing this weekend

This Friday and Saturday sees the return of Jump Racing to Cheltenham. Before that, we have an interesting meeting at Wetherby featuring the Bobby Renton Chase over 2m4f.

Looking at my blogs from this time last year, my selection in the race (No Planning trained by Sue Smith) ran 3rd - however, he justified his entry on my alert by winning next-time-out and on another two occasions before the season was out with his rating going up from OR126 (when running in the Bobby Renton) to OR147.  So, you have to accept that some horses are not yet at full fitness and may run a little below what is expected.

I have one alert horse runner today, and that's GETABUZZ in the Class 3 hurdle over 2-mile & 110 yards at 3:25.  This trip looks a bit short for Getabuzz and I reckon it's going to be a pipe-opener for the horse. As such, it's a watching brief on this race.

I'd like to get a winner on the board before the weekend, and I'm hoping I can land one today. The 2-mile class 3 handicap chase at 2:50 has only 6-runners, and much will depend on whether the current race-fav Oyster Shell can recapture his form. If he can, then his OR128 rating today looks lenient, as the ground and trip today will suit him.  He ran a cracker in March at Ludlow off the same rating he has today and a repeat of that run will see him securing the spoils. This trip looks far too short for Dunowen Point. Un Anjou is consistent, but not good enough on what we've seen and would prefer it to be soft ground.  The handicapper seems to have Nikos Extra in his grip after he won a couple this summer (he'd dropped to OR108 from OR135) and his OR122 rating seems fair. Big Generator looks held on his Irish form for Paul Nolan; so that leaves just Toledo Gold. I like the look of Toledo Gold, but his usual rider has been replaced with claimer Stephen Mulqueen who, to be fair, does not inspire confidence.  As such, odds of 3/1 about OYSTER SHELL look fair value in what could be a weak race.

I'm on for the win wager:

Wetherby: 2:50 OYSTER SHELL, £15 win @ 3/1 (available generally)

As for the Bobby Renton at 4:00, the race-fav Foundation Man looks vulnerable off OR127, and the 2nd-fav Deciding Moment looks even worse running off OR132.  Scotch Warrior lost nothing in defeat LTO to Simply Ned, as that one could turn out to be a Class 1 horse this season. Alderbrook Lad has improved 15lbs on the ratings over hurdles this summer. He looks the fly in the oitment in this if he can convert that improvement to his chase form. Odds of 5/1 (see Bet Victor) look fair, but I'd only be in for a small stake, at most £5.

Wetherby: 4:00 ALDERBROOK LAD, £5 win @ 5/1 ( Bet Victor, BOG)

Monday 13 October 2014

Some changes to the Alert List

So far, not so good.
Saturdays blog revolved around the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase run at Chepstow.  My selection was Gas Line Boy on the basis that he looked a particularly useful novice chase when winning at Exeter last November beating the consistent (but one-paced) Rydalis. He then ran a good 3rd at Haydock behind Sidney Paget and Silver By Nature, with the subsequent Skybet Chase winner The Rainbow Hunter back in 6th. His runs since then were unsatisfactory, but I was prepared to forgive them as at the Cheltenham Festival he ran well enough without disgracing himself (finished 8th in the Kim Muir Chase) and he fell when last seen before the race had really got going. Unfortunately, he was never really travelling on Saturday, running at the rear of the field for most of the race before pulling-up with 3 to jump. I think that's the last chance I can give him.
The race winner VICTORS SERENADE was always up with the leaders and jumped well. He stayed well enough to hold-off the challengers of Monbeg Dude and Handy Andy to win his 3rd chase race from 7 starts. As he didn't complete on 3 of those starts (pulled-up twice, and virtually pulled-up on the other as he refused to jump the final fence when exhausted) he looks to have the potential to win again next-time-out. He loves soft ground, but not heavy and, so long as he's not pushed much beyond 3-mile, his stamina shouldn't fail him. His win at Ffos Las in March 2012 suggests he's capable of a 145+ performance, and so he should go onto your short list.
By my ratings, it was a career-best performance from Monbeg Dude who is holding his form well. Whether he can win off this rating of OR143 is debatable, but he couldn't win off OR146 last season. He is very consistent tho' and his style of running means he's always capable of running into a place.
I was very impressed with Handy Andy. He was already on my alert list (see Saturday's blog) and I had no good reason for overlooking him other than despite the ability to run well, he does have trouble finishing with his head in front. Sure enough, he jumped the final fence on Saturday looking (in my eyes) to be the most likeliest winner, but just couldn't run on and take the race. If he goes onto Cheltenham next month for the amateur riders race which he won last season, he could take a lot of beating.
The race fav Highland Lodge was up with the leaders until the 3rd-last fence whereupon he was unable to go on. This race will have really primed him for another attempt at the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury, a race in which he ran 4th last year off OR143, and he's going to go there running off OR134 this year. He has to be on the shortlist for that race.
The only other runner in the race to catch my eye was Benbens. This was only his 5th chase race, and the 9yo had the class to make up lost ground and finish 4th despite making some bad jumping errors. He looks up to winning off OR134 and this 3-mile hurdle winner should improve for the run, and for soft ground, next time out.
Of my other alert horses: Cloudy Bob ran well for a long time before his stamina ran-out and he was pulled-up. He stays on the list and a return over a shorter trip could see him in the winners enclosure. As for Twirling Magnet, he ran a stinker even if he was 50/1. He's off the list.

It's a long season, and there's plenty of water to flow under the bridge.

Saturday 11 October 2014

Hobbs to recoup losses at Chepstow

Not a good start to the jumps season for the blog yesterday, with Black Thunder running well below his best in what looked a scrappy race and one that - had he been in the right mood - he'd have won easily when looking at the race in hindsight.
I was right to have my doubts about the Colour Squadron, as that horse threw the race away and is becoming unreliable from a betting position. Full marks to Wonderful Charm in pegging back the leader and winning the race, but the performance is difficult to assess. Clearly Wonderful Charm goes best when fresh and on ground more "good" than "soft", so we may not see much more of him before the spring of 2015.
What of Black Thunder? My initial assessment is that he's lost his confidence jumping fences following the fall at the Cheltenham Festival. I'd expect Paul Nicholls to give him a lot of practise on the gallops at home prior to his next race, which could be the Hennessey at Newbury.  He is on my list of potential wagers for that race as his handicap mark of OR149 is very lenient when you look at the best of his form as a novice chaser.

On to today, and there is a great meeting at Cheptsow over the jumps. My focus is on the handicap chase at 5:30 over 3-mile. There are several in the race from my alert list:
Cloudy Bob / Handy Andy / Gas Line Boy / Twirling Magnet
The trip looks to be on the long side for Cloudy Bob. I do like Handy Andy as he goes well fresh (should have won at Cheltenham on seasonal debut last year) and todays ground should well be soft enough for him. Twirling Magnet runs well on his good days, but his attitude is indifferent. As such, a wager on him carries additional risk and this looks a race he will either do well in or throw-in the towel early on. The one that I think will do best of my alert list horses is GAS LINE BOY. He ran in the novice chase at this meeting last season, and then won NTO looking a very decent chaser in the making. He's re-united with Richard Johnson today and odds of 16/1 look generous as I think he's a potential OR140+ chaser.
The market leaders look a bit short in the betting. I think Highland Lodge needs a stiffer test than he'll get today, whereas the opposite applies to Benbens who will find his stamina stretched. The biggest danger to GAS LINE BOY could be his stablemate De La Bech who is a course and distance winner, but I feel he wants softer ground than this today.

Chepstow 5:30 GAS LINE BOY, £5 eachway @ 16/1 (available generally - quarter odds a place)

Friday 10 October 2014

First selection of the 2014-15 Jumps season

A cracking day's racing today, with the highlight being the Class 2 intermediate chase over 2m5f & 110 yards at Newton Abbot at 3:55pm.  This is a terrific line-up with 5 of the most promising novice chasers we saw last season, all of which are hooping for greater glory this season.

The is a real breath of fresh air!  For the past few years we've been lucky to see promising chasers running in anything other than meaningless affairs before heading for Cheltenham in March - that's if they got there. Finally, trainers seem to have woken up to the fact that horses cannot win races on reputation alone. Let's all hope that this is going to continue.

The race brings together:-
Colour Squadron - perhaps the most talented chaser in training yet to win a chase race;
Taquin Du Seuil - Cheltenham Festival winner when ridden by AP McCoy;
Wonderful Charm - started last season well, but form tailed-off;
Double Ross - a super-consistent novice chaser;
Black Thunder - a faller when yet to be asked a question in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

If you take account of the race conditions, which result in Colour Squadron carrying just 10st 8lb receiving 12lb from Double Ross and 16lb from the others in the race, then it is hard not to see Colour Squadron winning this as he has perhaps 10lb in-hand. What worries me about Colour Squadron is that, despite his talent, he hasn't yet won a chase race. I agree that the form he's showed to date equates to a rating or OR152, but there's something about the horse's character that doesn't ring true.

The key to this race is the form of the JLT Novice Chase won by Taquin Du Seuil at the Festival, with Double Ross in 3rd and Wonderful Charm in 5th. I wagered on Taquin De Seuil that day but, realistically, I didn't think it was as good a race winning performance as some judges. If I'm right, then we could be in for a turn-up today.

The horse that I think will do the business in this race is BLACK THUNDER. I've taken 16/1 eachway with Stan James on the way into work this morning.  This horse ran some great races last season, and totally outclassed Shotgun Paddy when they met at Lingfield in December. That for me, is some of the best form in this race. Even when 2nd to Corrin Wood in January, it was a tremendous performance. I thought his rider that day (Daryl Jacob) gave the winner too much rope and allowed him an easy lead and, had he made more use of BLACK THUNDER, then he could have won. The odds of 16/1 are an insult to the horse as he has the beating of Double Ross and Wonderful Charm at the weights and (in my opinion) Taquin Du Seuil. To be honest, I'd hoped to make a handicap killing on this horse as he's currently rated OR149 and I think he's 10lb better than that on what we've seen.

Newton Abbot 3:55 BLACK THUNDER, £10 eachway @ 16/1 with Stan James (quarter-odds a place 1st & 2nd, best odds guaranteed)

I've a couple of additions to the blog. I've entered the blog into the UK 2015 blog awards and voting takes place next month. I've also put a link to the website Racing Bulletin who is kindly offereing a 14-day free trial of their services to those who click thru' the link. I've used Racing Bulletin myself for a couple of years, on and off, and the service is good value in my opinion. There are a number of ratings services around (I also have a link to Formbet) and if you want to use a ratings service it's best to try what's available as see what suits you best. What I like about Racing Bulletin is they also provide a resident tipster (Matt Johnson) alongside the ratings.

Good luck today, and let's hope fortune has guided us to a winning start to the 2014-15 Jumps season.

Monday 6 October 2014

TREVE: two-time winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

The first Sunday in October remains fixed in the calendar as the day of the running of the premier horse-race in Europe: the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe ay Longchamps.

Yesterday, we were fortunate to witness one of the greatest racehorses of recent years winning the "Arc" for the 2nd time in succession, as TREVE also won the race last year. Since the race was first run in October 1920 there have only been 6 two-time winners, the latest of which was Alleged who won in 1977 and 1978.

What made yesterdays win particularly special was that TREVE had run well below the level of form she showed in 2013, especially in her final "prep" race the Prix Vermeille after which there were calls from some critics that the mare should be retired. Thankfully,  the faith shown in the mare by her trainer Criquette Head-Maarek was repaid in abundance. No doubt about it, this was a tremendous training feat by Criquette Head-Maarek to bring the mare to the peak of her powers after such a disappointing performance last-time-out.

The manner of the victory was spectacular, with TREVE displaying a devastating turn-of-foot to quickly move into an unassailable lead and hold-off her persues in the final furlong. The quality of this performance is confirmed be the presence of champion race-filly TAGHROODA who was staying-on strong to be 3rd, but was still nearly 4-lengths behind the winner; and recent St Leger winner KINGSTON HILL who stayed-on well to be 4th having been up with the pace for much of the race.

As a consequence, I am a bit disappointed as the rating given to the performance by the Racing Post of just RPR127. This is 5lbs below the rating awarded to TREVE for winning the "Arc" last year. My opinion is that Taghrooda ran up to her Official Rating (UK) of OR125, and that puts TREVE on 131 for this performance. It also suggests that Kingston Hill just bettered his performance in the Derby, where he ran 2nd to Australia.

So, that's the end of the 2014 flat season for me (I've no interest in the Breeders Cup) and it is full-time jumps now till the Grand National next April.  I've not yet posted a wager this season, but we are not far away from the initial selection.