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Record of the blog selections

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


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Monday 30 November 2015

Days don't come much better than this - a Black Saturday for the bookies!

What a day for followers of the blog on Saturday.
Just 3 selections given, and all 3 returned in profit with Top Notch failing by just a "neck" having traded at under 1.30 on the exchanges "in-running", and both WAKANDA and SMAD PLACE winning at odds of 8/1 and 15/2 respectively. On the day, for £35 staked we turned a profit of £138.13.  And from the emails from those who donate (to obtain the blog via email) I know many of you combined the selections in doubles and trebles. For instance, the 3 selections in 3 x £2 eachway doubles, and a £2 eachway treble (total stake of £16) would have returned £219.41 profit.

Some bad news I received yesterday, and that is that VINTAGE STAR who won for us so well a few weeks ago, has died at his home stables.  I'm not sure about the circumstances, apparently the news is in today's Racing Post newspaper.  The horse gave this blog good service and went onto the alert list when he ran well (beaten by his stablemate, Cloudy Too) on his chasing debut. Some of his best performances were in defeat, like when pushing Hey Big Spender close in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in November 2013, and then being headed 75 yards from the post when 2nd in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January 2014. He didn't like racing at Cheltenham, and he didn't have the stamina for a National, but he did us proud.

No selections today.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury

A tremendous day of jump racing lies ahead, with 4 meetings at Newbury, Newcastle, Doncaster and Bangor. We therefore have a lot of opportunity to pick and choose our target races.

Before that, a look back at Friday's selections and unfortunately Maximiser fell when leading 6-out. Given that the fav Activial was easily beaten, had Maximiser completed the race I'm fairly confident that he'd have won this race. Next up was Upepito, and he gave us a great run, jumping the final fence in front before tying-up on the run-in to be 2nd. That was very disappointing. I did have a doubt over the trip beforehand, but thought he had so much in-hand he could counter that. As it happened, it's not stamina he lacks but a will to win.

Onto today's racing, and the ground is "heavy" at Bangor, so I'm passing that meeting over as (with heavy ground) results can sometimes be unpredictable.

Doncaster has an interesting Class 3 novice handicap chase over 2m3f at 1:55pm, and I'm drawn to the 6yo Katachenko who won his seasonal debut on 31st October (which was his 3rd chase race) and he looks a progressive horse. His rating of OR129 looks lenient as he looked like making OR135+ as a hurdler, and he stays this trip.  The ground will also be in his favour, and I will be watching this race with interest.

Newcastle has soft ground, and that may be too testing for many.
The feature race of the meeting is the "Fighting Fifth" Grade 1 hurdle over 2-miles, which has been won by some very good horses.  Last year, Irving won and he returns to try and repeat the victory. He certainly looks a better horse this season than last, but he's not the horse with the highest rating in the race; that is the Irish-trained Wicklow Brave. Personally, I think OR166 for Wicklow Brave is generous, and I have him about 10lb light of that - but he could (potentially) be a 160+ hurdler. I am more inclined to fancy the chance of the 4yo Top Notch sent by Nicky Henderson. Beaten just over a length last week, the 4yo is certain to improve on that run and I reckon he should reverse the places with Irving this time. Note than Henderson does not visit Newcastle often, and he has sent only 4 runners here since May 2011, and 3 have won!  Unless there is an upset, the others look outclassed and odds of 5/1 about TOP NOTCH look great value, and even offer eachway potential - those are the odds that were available when the email was sent out last night.

The next race on the Newcastle card is the "Rehearsal" Chase, a Listed handicap over 2m7f, and we have the eagerly awaited course return of Wakanda, who won for supporters of the blog LTO when we "lumped-on" the night before the race and secured the best value. The handicap is a cracker, and gives me plenty to think about, as I also have alert list horses Cloudy Too, BallykanSaroque, and Final Assault in the race. Personally, I cannot see Saroque winning at this level as his jumping will likely let him down. This will be too tough for the 5yo novice Ballykan.  Cloudy Too could run a big race, especially as the ground is soft but, for me, it is between Wakanda and Final Assault.  The trip of 2m7f will test the stamina of Final Assault and, as I think Wakanda could be capable of reaching OR155+ this season, and he has no stamina doubts, he is the selection. WAKANDA was available at 8/1 last night and those on the email list have taken those odds.

Newbury holds the feature race of the day in the Hennessy Gold Cup handicap chase over 3m2f.
I looked at this race earlier in the week, and sent out my preview of the race to those on the email list. Essentially, my thoughts are that Smad Place should be the favorite as I think he's potentially a 5-7lb better horse than last season. He's the horse I expect to win today, and odds of 15/2 offered by BetVictor and William Hill are tremendous value about a horse I think should be 4/1.
Houblon Des Obeaux won't be far away either, with conditions in his favour and a favourable handicap mark.  It is very difficult to see him not being in the 1st-4 and the 14/1 (available generally) is very fair. If Saphir Du Rheu wins today then he could be capable of winning a Gold Cup, but as I'm expecting a 160+ run from SMAD PLACE, the Saphir Du Rheu will have to run to 168+ to win this, and I'm not sure he's capable of that.  Both Bobs Worth and If In Doubt should be thereabouts, but their odds do not represent value. This years race looks a weak renewal, and the market leaders should come to the fore.

Newcastle 2:05pm TOP NOTCH, £5 eachway @ 5/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2)
Newcastle 2:40pm WAKANDA, £5 eachway AND £5 win @ 8/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Newbury 2:00pm SMAD PLACE, £5 eachway @ 15/2 (BetVictor, William Hill quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4)

Friday 27 November 2015

Newbury "Hennessy" meeting - Day 2

Another profitable return yesterday, when blog selection Belmount ran 3rd at 9/1 having been advised as an eachway selection. Only 6yo, this was encouraging from Belmount and he remains of interest and on the alert list. I was right to avoid the favorite in the race Wuff, as he ran very disappointingly.

There is a cracking day of racing today, with another excellent card at Newbury. With such an array of decent races to choose from, I'm going to pass over the Class 3 hadicap chase over 2m2f for Conditional Jockeys' at 12:55pm.  The next on the card is the 3-mile Class 3 handicap hurdle and while I don't usually have wagers in hurdle races, I do like 3-mile hurdles (as very few horses can stay 3-miles effectively at a decent racing pace) and we have alert list runner in the top-weight Open Hearted who won for readers of the blog LTO, and the form of that race has worked out very well. Also, Open Hearted ruins off a hurdle rating of OR142 which is 3lb lower than his chase rating (OR145) and that may well be lenient, too. With those at the head of the market looking a bit vulnerable: Sykes has been raised 7lb for his LTO win, and Missed Approach not having run since last December - the 12/1 available on Open Hearted (Coral, and Stan James) looks fair eachway value for a horse we know will stay the trip, is race-fit and can win with top-weight.

We have other alert list runner in the Grade 2 novice chase over 2m4f at 2:05pm in Sametegal and Maximiser though, at the weights, I'm only really interested in Maximiser. The race fav is Activial who is having his chase debut in this race, which is a tough ask. There is no substitute for chase form in novice chase races, and you have to see a horse jump a fence in a race before you can place a wager on it, in my opinion. Three Musketeers at 9/2 is the 3rd-fav, and needs to find a fair bit of improvement on his chase debut to win this, which is not impossible but I'd want longer odds than 9/2 to take the chance. However, Maximiser jumped well LTO when 2nd to Silsol (who has won again since) and the odds of 3/1 look fair, and I can see him starting at under 11/4. The race conditions (which see Sametegal conceding 7lb to Maximiser) make life tough for Sametegal.

The Class 2 handicap chase over 2m4f at 2:40pm looks a cracker of a race. From the alert list we have Upepito who runs again off OR128 and has (in my opinion) about 7lb in hand, and the trip and soft ground will be in his favour. Also, he will be ridden by the capable Harry Skelton, brother of the trainer Dan Skelton,  Odds of 4/1 look very fair as he will be receiving weight from the entire field. I am expecting a good run from alert list horse Royal Regatta who was left at the start LTO and did well to run 6th, but the trip will stretch him. Other alert list horses in the race are Upsilon Bleu and Roc D'Apsis.  Back in 2013, Upsilon Bleu was 4th in this race when a 5yo, and he's improved a lot since then and looks interesting off OR147 and the soft ground will suit him. He could run a big race, but this looks a big ask for Roc D'Apsis who is up 10lb for his LTO win. If Niceonefrankie is in the form of last autumn he could take some beating, and the same can be said for Monetair - but both are 9yo and I prefer younger horses in these competitive handicaps.

Newbury 2:05pm MAXIMISER, £5 win @ 3/1 (available generally)
Newbury 2:40pm UPEPITO, £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally)
£5 win double on MAXIMISER and UPEPITO
Total staked = £20

Thursday 26 November 2015

"Hennessey" meeting Day 1

The 3-day Hennessy meeting opens today at Newbury. 

Firstly, there was a development yesterday in the Hennessy Gold Cup to be run on Saturday with the withdrawal of Valseur Lido, which was the more fancied runner of the pair entered by Willie Mullins. That means that if Ruby Walsh rides in the race he will most likely be on Ballycasey, currently priced at 33/1 but unlikely to be those odds if Walsh is in the saddle.  However, it seems more likely that Ruby Walsh will be at Newcastle on Saturday.

At Newbury today, we could see a future star chaser in the opening novice hurdle in MODUS.  Bred to be a “Derby” winner, he’s not particularly quick (hence only 2 wins from 6 starts in NH flat races) but he hacked-up on his hurdling debut on 12th November, and should win his race today at 12:30pm – but, as he’s quoted odds-on at 8/15, he’s a “no-bet” from me.

The novice chases today at 2:10pm and 2:45pm should both watched with interest as they will provide a host of potential decent chasers for the future.  In the Grade 2, novice chase over 2m7f at 2:10pm, the fav is the David Pipe trained Un Temps Pour Tout, who was trained to win the World Hurdle over 3-mile at the Festival last March, but was unplaced. He was beaten on his chase debut 12-days ago and so should be fitter for this today.  However, Pipe’s horses are not winning as many races as they should be and I don’t think this horse is a value wager at 15/8.  I think it is interesting that Paul Nicholls, who has a good record in this race, has sent Port Melon (he also had LTO winners Silsol and Katgary entered) , and I am expecting a big run from this horse and 14/1 looks interesting.

The novice handicap chase over 2m6f at 2:45pm has been won in 2 of the past 3 years by Paul Nicholls, and he sends the top-weight with 11st 8lb, Warriors Tale (current odds 6/1). Although the weights in this handicap go down to 10st 5lb, the last 4 winners have all carried 11st-plus to victory, suggesting the better class horses usually prevail.  African Gold was a tremendous novice hurdler but has suffered through injury for the past 2 seasons. Whereas Nitrogen is a half-brother to triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate, and could develop into anything, such is his potential.  Not an easy race in which to find the winner.

There is one off my alert list running at Newbury today, and that’s BELMOUNT in the Class 3 handicap chase over 3-mile for amateur riders at 1:00pm. He’s a big horse who has won on heavy ground and tho’ he struggled LTO at Exeter (started the fav but pulled-up 4-out) that race was run at a fairly strong pace on testing, soft ground.  His amateur jockey rode the runner-up in a similar race at Cheltenham recently (readers of the blog were on the winner, Knock House ridden by Nina Carberry) and retains his 7lb claim.  Currently 9/1 this looks a weak race, and BELMOUNT should be 5/1 for this based on his two completed chase races.  He possibly won’t beat the 2/1 fav Wuff, but Baby Shine usually needs a race under his bealt and this is his seasonal debut, and he may have more to fear from Russe Blanc who was also in the Exeter race but was well beaten in 6th.  But, it looks unlikely that he will finish out of the 1st-3 (in my opinion) and he could well sneak a win.


Newbury 1:0pm BELMOUNT, £5 eachway @ 9/1 (BetVictor, 5th odds a place 1,2,3 – other bookies go 8/1)

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Sing when you are winning!

No wagering opportunities for me today, as I stay away from class 4 (and lower) race and maintain my focus on alert list runners and the races they contest.
However, on the horizon we have a feast of alert list horses entered for the weekend’s racing – and the weekend starts on Thursday!

Before that though - this week the Wayward Lad blog posted its 800th Blog Page! 
This is no fly-by-night horseracing blog post.  I've been posting horseracing blogs since March 2010, and I aim to continue posting blogs for another 5-years and more. 
What is more, for every jump season this blog has been in profit for advised wagers. Sing your own praises, and sing when you're winning!

The “Hennessy” meeting at Newbury opens on Thursday with some good –looking races that could offer wagering opportunities.  There are two novice chases – one a Grade 2 over 2m7f which has been won by some decent horses in the past; and the other a Class 3 handicap over 2m6½f which has (possibly) and even better roll-call – and I will be studying the form of the entrants for these races closely, as well as making note of the performances on the day.
There is also the “Gerry Feilden” hurdle, a “Listed” handicap race over an extended 2-mile which looks like being contested by a few of last season’s best juvenile hurdlers.  There is also a supporting meeting at Taunton and, with these busy weekends, I like to ponder the multiple entries of the trainers. For instance, Nicky Henderson has only one horse entered at Taunton where he has a 23% strike rate (7 wins from 31 runners since 1st May 2011) and that is William Henry in the novice hurdle; but he has 11 entered at Newbury on the same day, including an entry for William Henry in the opening day’s novice hurdle.

Friday brings us meetings at Doncaster and Musselburgh but, looking at the cards and entries, we may be lucky to find any wagering opportunities there.  However, Newbury brings us another top card which includes the novice chase in which eventual Gold Cup winner Coneygree was introduced to chasing (he’d already refused to race at Plumpton earlier in the season).  This card has one of my favourite races of the season in the Class 2, 2m4f handicap chase at 2:40pm. I looked at my blog for this day last season and, of the 4 races I reviewed, I found 3 winners but the only loser was the horse I advised as a definite wager!  Let’s hope that I’m more focused this week.

Saturday looks a tremendous day of jump racing. I have already looked at the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and sent out a provisional advice to those on the email list.  The “Hennessy” is followed by a Class 2 handicap chase over an extended 2-mile, and one of the entries is Turn Over Sivola who was withdrawn on Saturday morning last weekend from a planned race at Ascot.  There is a great meeting at Newcastle which would be good enough to be the feature meeting of any other Saturday as there is the Grade 1 “Fighting fifth” hurdle over and extended 2-mile, followed by the Class 1, “Rehearsal” Chase over 3-mile which sees the return of Wakanda to the track (he won for us last month) as well as Final Assault and Saroque. The race also holds an entry for Cloudy Too and, to be fair, this race is possibly an better target than the “Hennessy” at Newbury for him.

All-in –all, we have plenty of top class racing to look forward to over the next few days, and we should have a host of betting opportunities – so I am not too worried that we’ve not had an wager since last Saturday.  The way to profitable betting is to pick and choose your targets.

I sent out a preview of the Hennessy Gold Cup by email to those on the email list yesterday, with a shortlist of 3 antepost advices.   For the Paddy Power Gold Cup 2-weeks ago, I gave those on the email list the names of 3-horses to take antepost odds on 2-days before the race itself, and that shortlist of 3 included the winner Annacotty.

If you want to be included on the email list - and receive the blog by email about an hour before it goes online, or the day before when I think the selection is exceptional value and holds and exceptional chance (we've hit that goal twice with Wakanda and Vintage Star), then the terms are a £10 donation per month to be included on the email list. The donation button (payment via Paypal) is on the right of this message.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Rain makes horseracing heavy going

This week, which leads up to the "Hennessy" meeting at Newbury, is fairly quiet, with most races at the lower end of the racing scale.
I find that, rather than "trying" to find a wager, it is better to hang on and wait and be patient for the better quality racing which will come in a few days time.
That said, I always peruse the day's racing to see if there are any "ricks" in the betting, or to follow-up on any alert list horses that are declared to run.
We have an alert list runner today at Lingfield in the Class 3 2m7f handicap chase at 3:00pm. There has been an enormous amount of rain over Sussex in the past 24-hours and, understandably, the ground is "heavy". When it is heavy at Lingfield, the ground is almost bottomless and, as I write this, I'm getting less and less likely to advise a wager today. The alert list runner is UMBERTO D'OLIVATE who went onto the list after running 3rd to Saroque at Exeter 3-weeks ago.

I've just learned (9:25am) that Umberto D'Olivate is a non-runner.

Given the state of the ground today I have decided that it is probably best to give the day's racing a miss. It will come down to which horse moves through the mud best and has the best attitude to racing in what will be atrocious conditions - and the winner will likely have little to do with known formlines.

Tomorrow, there are meetings at Fontwell and Wetherby and, while there are no suitable races at Fontwell, we may have an opportunity at Wetherby in the 2-mile Class 3 handicap chase at 2:25pm. The advance going is soft, so it will all depend on how much rain falls today, and how many horses remain entered in the morning. At this stage there are a couple of alert list runners in the race.

Thursday brings the opening day of the "Hennessy" meeting at Newbury, and there are several suitable races that day, so I'm happy to wait and be patient.  In the meantime, I will look ahead a the form for the big race itself - the Hennessy Gold Cup (handicap) Chase - on Saturday and try and find a value wager in the race.

It's likely that any antepost value in the Hennessy Gold Cup will be advised by email to those on the email list on either Thursday or Friday.  For the Paddy Power Gold Cup 2-weeks ago, I gave those on the email list the names of 3-horses to take antepost odds on 2-days before the race itself, and that shortlist of 3 included the winner Annacotty.

If you want to be included on the email list - and receive the blog by email about an hour before it goes online, or the day before when I think the selection is exceptional value and holds and exceptional chance (we've hit that goal twice with Wakanda and Vintage Star), then the terms are a £10 donation per month to be included on the email list. The donation button (payment via Paypal) is on the right of this message.

Sunday 22 November 2015

The fences are there to be jumped - the 800th blog page!

We should be celebrating a great weekend of winners today, but our run of bad luck has continued. After Friday's selection LOOSE CHIPS threw-away a 2-length lead just 75-yards from the finish, yesterday STRAIDNAHANNA came into the 3rd-last fence holding a definite advantage over his stablemate No Planning, with most of the field merely plodding on - but ran straight into that fence giving himself no chance of clearing it.

When you look at how the rest of the race panned-out - with No Planning one-paced and not staying-on; and Sun Cloud (who has won at 3m6f) doing his best work in the final half-mile to take 2nd place - the only rival Straidnahanna would have had to worry about was the eventual winner Vieux Lion Rouge.  Whether he would have been able to close-down the lead is debatable and, in my opinion, I don't think he's have done it. Had Straidnahanna not tried to take the 3rd-last fence out of the ground by its roots, I reckon he'd have won the race by over 10-lengths - he was clearly the best handicapped horse in the race.

My other selection in the race Indian Castle, ran well for a long way and only started to look in trouble after jumping the 4th-last fence when it became clear that his tank was empty and he was running on fumes. He did well to keep going and take 4th place, and I was impressed with his jumping and the way he maintained his position throughout the race - he will come on a lot for this seasonal debut.

Our Ascot selection Turn Over Sivola was a non-runner, with trainer Alan King withdrawing the horse at about 10am. Watching the race, I wasn't overly impressed with the winner, and reckon with a better round of jumping the runner-up Dunraven Storm would have won easily - which makes me reckon that had Turn Over Sivola run he would have won this fairly easily. Why he was withdrawn, I don't know and, perhaps, Alan King will state the reason in Wednesday;s Weekender.

At Haydock, the Betfair Chase was won by Cue Card, who has returned to the form of 2013.  It was a brilliant win, made even more impressive by the fact he had Silviniaco Conti on the ropes at the 3rd-last fence and jumped the final two fences for fun. In this sort of form he would push Coneygree in the Gold Cup, if he stays the extra couple of furlongs. He certainly has an excellent chance in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, as that race looks made for him.

No selections for Sunday.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Fortune favours the bold

Who could have predicted what happened yesterday with LOOSE CHIPS? Always thereabouts, jumped the last fence in front and opened-up a "winning" lead - and then he pulled himself up!  That was a winner in all but name - we were desparately unlucky there; and the odds were good too.  It shows just what good value he was last week at Cheltenham in the Cross-Country chase (in which he fell early-on) when we were on him at 16/1.

Let's move on, and a top day of racing lies ahead of us, even is some of the races are not well supported by the trainers!  Haydock holds the day's feature race, but it that is very likely to go to the outright fav Siliviniaco Conti, and there is no value in that race - unless you want to take a chance on one of the others and hope the fav does not complete the race.

The Haydock meeting also holds one of the key handicap races of the season when considering the staying-chases, that is the Grade 3 "Fixed Brush" handicap hurdle over 2m7f. This is not a proper hurdle as the "fixed brush" type are larger obstacles which creates more of a "jumping" than hurdling action is required to take them. There is a horse in this race which has been off the track for 336-days and hasn't won a race since December 2012; BOLD SIR BRIAN has been on my alert list since November 2011 and he's only been prevented from becoming a top-class chaser by injury. At his peak he was a 160+ performer, so off OR130 in this he could be given a great opportunity, if he's fit to do himself justice and retains 85% of his ability.  He is only 9yo and the trip and ground will suit him - he's 33/1 but a paddock inspection is required.

The Class 2 handicap chase over 3-mile at 3:35pm looks very much more interesting, and there are 4 alert list runners in the race - all of whom look likely winners on paper!  No Planning has been a grand servant for the alert list, but I've always thought him vulnerable at 3-mile and (now the races have been remeasured) he's actually been winning over 2m7f. I much prefer his stablemate Straidnahanna and this 6yo looks well-handicapped on OR131.  Two-weeks ago, Royal Palladium only just failed to win the "Badger" Chase, and he will be well-prepared for this race by Venetia Williams.  I just think that he is meeting a stronger field in this race. Another on my alert list is Indian Castle who did followers of the blog proud when running 4th at Cheltenham last March in the 3-mile handicap chase on the opening day of the Festival. It is worth noting that Indian Castle beat Annacotty at Cheltenham over 2m5f in the novice handicap chase at the January meeting (always one of the best novice handicaps of the season) on heavy ground, and he's still only a 7yo.  Toby Lerone is fit from a hurdling win LTO, but I'm not confident he will last out this trip, tho' he will handle the ground. In my opinion OR140 for Vieux Lion Rouge is about 10lb too much on what he's shown in 2 novice chases. There is not much scope for Sun Cloud off OR138, though he will appreciate the soft ground.  I would not overlook Theatrical Star, as he loves a slog, but all his chase wins have come in races of less than 10 runners. He couldn't go the pace LTO and I'm expecting Royal Palladium to do the same again.  Finally, Firebird Flyer is a good yardstick, and on his day he's a good horse, but when he's not he can be very lacklustre. At the odds, my selection is between two: Straidnahanna at 11/2 (available generally) and Indian Castle at 12/1.

At Ascot, the soft ground will likely make the course very testing and, in the 2m1f Class 2 handicap chase at 3:15, the ground will be the key.  Four weeks ago, at the Cheltenham meeting, I made TURN OVER SIVOLA my selection of the day and he ran well - looking the most likely winner 2-out - but then ran out of puff on the run-in. He was prepared to run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last week, but missed the cut-off - so he's come here instead, and trainer Alan King is very bullish about his chances in the Weekender. He needs a strong pace, and I think he will get it in this race and, having had a run, he should run much better than last time. The market leaders Cold March, Workbench and Fago will all go well, but none have the scope to find the improvement I'm expecting from Turn Over Sivola. He is 12/1 (William Hill) and those odds look huge to me as I'd have him at under 7/1.

Ascot 3:15pm - TURN OVER SIVOLA, £4 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, Bet 365 go quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Haydock 3:35pm INDIAN CASTLE, £4 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)
Haydock 3:35pm STRAIDNAHANNA; £5 win @ 11/2


Total Staked = £25

Friday 20 November 2015

Pick up the Loose Chips

As I wrote yesterday, it's not about winning - it's about value.
The premise being that you cannot win with every wager so, if you maintain a "value" based betting ethic then you will profit in the long-run, I was completely blown-away by the performance of the Dartford Warbler yesterday, who made a mockery of his OR117 rating with an all-the-way win at a very strong pace over a trip I thought he would not stay (not as a chaser, anyway).  That was only his 8th chase race and he could be one to follow for his next 2 or 3 runs. The pace he set did for the pair in the race that I considered; with neither alert-list runner Cloudy Bob, nor selection Rio Milan, able to get in a blow.  I took my eye off the ball with this race and, once I had assessed that alert-list runner Cloudy Bob was no longer value, I should have let the race go and not looked for a "substitute" selection.

Before I move on to looking at the day's racing; I must comment on an event which happened on Thursday - one which probably would not have happened before the advent of social media. Racehorse trainer Sheena West, whom I know as she trained the first syndicate horse that I was involved in a few years ago, sent out 4 horses to race at Wincanton and Lingfield.  All 4 were (are) moderate animals yet, for some unknown reason, a gamble began rolling in mid-morning.  None of the horses ever got near the winner and everybody was left bemused.  What is particularly awful, is that Sheena West was subjected to a fair amount of abhorrent abuse on twitter - for something that was nothing to do with her at all.  How the rumour started on twitter (it was promoted by a number of odds-comparison sites with the intention of receiving commissions on losing wagers) should be investigated and the culprits named and shamed.

For a Friday, there are a lot of alert-list runners; although some we cannot consider because of the race conditions and the odds available. There has been a lot of rain (the Ffos Las meeting for today was abandoned yesterday), and the ground will be soft, if not heavy, at both Ascot and Haydock.

At Haydock, the opening 2m7f handicap hurdle looks interesting and we have a couple of alert runners in it: Oscar Blue and Hidden Justice.  It was May 2014 when Hidden Justice last ran over hurdles, when he won at Haydock over 2m5f, and on OR125 he looks well handicapped, but the soft ground is against him today. Oscar Blue has gone into many a notebook for his two wins over hurdles this autumn, but his opening rating of OR125 looks a bit rich as he won both those races by a "neck".

Also on my alert list at Haydock are novice chasers Doctor Phoenix and Silsol, but both run in 3-runner races and their odds are under 9/4 which means they are too short to be advised as a wager - but I expect both to go close.

At Ascot, Loose Chips makes a quick reappearance after falling at Cheltenham last Friday, in the 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at 3:15pm.  Unfortunately for us, he's the current market leader at 9/2. So, is that value? The 2nd-fav is the 5yo French-import having his UK debut Achille, sent by Venetia Williams - your guess is as good as mine with this one. Bob Tucker is a stablemate of Loose Chips, but he's not shown any real form on soft/heavy ground, with 3 wins on "good". However, he is race fit with a decent win LTO.  Sands Cove just about clambered over the final fence when winning LTO.  That was the first time he'd tackled 3-mile (normally seen over 2-miles) and his stamina is unlikely to last out in this stronger race. For a 9yo Desert Joe hasn't seen much racing, and he pulled-up LTO on his seasonal debut, but he ran well enough last season to suggest he's in with a chance here if he gets into a rhythm, but there is a doubt about the ground if it is very soft.  Caulfields Venture is another who will not appreciate the soft ground, even if he's a LTO winner.   Financial Climate will be having his 22nd chase race today, and he's very consistent and capable of winning this at his best. He should handle the ground, with wins on both soft and heavy in his form, and the trip of 3-mile is no problem as he's won over 3m2f. Today is his seasonal debut, but he ran well on his debut last year on ground that was a bit quick for him, and he has a better chance than his 10/1 odds suggest. As I consider that LOOSE CHIPS has about 8lb in-hand on my personal ratings, he's worth a wager today with conditions in his favour and fairly weak opposition.

Ascot 3:15pm, LOOSE CHIPS, £10 win @ 9/2 (Stan James, Bet Victor, Ladbrokes, Betfred)

Thursday 19 November 2015

It's not about winning, it's about value

When I looked at the racing meetings in yesterday's edition of the Weekender, the one horse I thought could be a wager was CLOUDY BOB at Market Rasen in the 2m5f class 3 handicap chase at 1:30pm. When I looked at the early odds available at 5pm last night, Ladbrokes were offering 7/1 about Cloudy Bob, which I thought looked interesting, and Bet365 were offering 6/1 with no other bookies yet priced-up.  When I next looked at the odds for the race at about 8pm, Cloudy Bob was 5/1 across-the-board.

We know Cloudy Bob needs soft ground and about 20-21f, and if you throw-in a right-handed track, even better!  He has all those ticks today, and the last time he had them he ran 2nd at Kempton off OR122 (he is on OR119 today) recording an RPR of 128.  Currently, he's best-priced at 7/2. So, is that value?

Dartford Warbler has never won on soft (or worse) ground, or at trips beyond 2m4f; so it's unlikely that he will win today. Rio Milan won on soft ground in April, and goes well right-handed. He also ran well over 3-mile LTO, in a race were the form has stood-up well. he looks a big danger. Shockingtimes is at about his level on OR120.  He's very consistent, but one-paced, and will likely be tapped for speed on the run-in again. Russborough is a bit of an unknown quantity, and his trainer Venetia Williams likes to keep you guessing with her young horses. His seasonal debut wasn't anything special and he may well have needed that run, so improvement is expected. Cayman Islands is going the right way, and won his first chase LTO.  He's also won over hurdles on soft ground, and he is another who could improve a lot on what we have already seen, even tho' he's up 7lb for that LTO win. Up For An Oscar could win this doing cartwheels if he's in the mood off OR120, but he seems to have lost the plot since winning at Worcester over 2m7f in September last year. He's not run since May this year, so being fresh may put him in the mood - or it may not.
Harristown is another potential improver, as he's having only his 2nd chase race.  He was gently introduced on his chase debut, and this is a lot tougher, but he was rated OR132 over hurdles and will handle the soft ground and stay this trip (based on his hurdles form), so running off OR125 is interesting - except that he's carrying 11st 12lb and giving weight away all-round. The final pair of Owen Glendower and She's Late are outclassed.

I make this race between Cloudy Bob, Rio Milan, and Cayman Islands and, at the current odds - there is no value in Cloudy Bob at 7/2.  Cayman Islands is interesting, especially at 10/1 with William Hill (also 9/1 with Coral and Skybet), but the one that looks a potential winner and good value is RIO MILAN, at 7/1 with Paddy Power, BetVictor, Stan James and Boyles. Trainer Fergal O'Brien hasn't had many winners recently, but he has a great strike-rate at Market Rasen (24%) and he's booked Paddy Brennan for the ride, and Brennan rides most of the winning horses coming out of the O'Brien stable.  I'd have RIO MILAN at 4/1 for this, so 7/1 is good value in my book.

Market Rasen 1:30pm: RIO MILAN; £5 eachway @ 7/1 (available generally, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Blog landmark passed - 300,000 page views

The blog had it's 300,000th page view this week.

That is on 300,000 occasions, someone has visited this blog and read a page.
These are not "click-thru" stats (generated by "pings" from search engines), but actual visits from people who stop and read the blog.
Many, many thanks to all those who read the blog.

Way back in March-April 2010, on some days fewer than 10 page views were registered, but I persevered. The blog isn't just about finding winners, it is about the spirit of horseracing, and jump racing in particular.
In a few days, the blog will reach another landmark - its 800th posting (this is page/post number 796).

It is a quiet week this week, and we may not have many wagering opportunities. As such, I've been catching up with updating the alert list and looking ahead at some of the upcoming major races to see if there is any potential value to be had.

Reading the Weekender (out today, Wednesday), the weekly paper is suffering in my opinion from losing Nick Mordin (he is apparently now living in Hong Kong providing assistance to a betting syndicate) and there is a dearth of intelligent comment.  The only shining lights are the words of Paul Kealy and Malcolm Heyhoe.  Personally, I would happily see the back of Tom Segal (Pricewise) as he offers no great knowledge in-depth on horseracing, except griping when he's not finding winners.

We may have a wager tomorrow, depending on the odds offered, in the 2m5f Class 3 handicap chase at Market Rasen.  Unfortunately, the horse I'm looking at - Cloudy Bob - has been tipped by James Hill in the Weekender today.

Ascot has a couple of interesting Class 3 handicap chases on Friday, and the 3-mile chase includes an entry for Loose Chips, who fell in the Cross-Country Chase (with our money on) at Cheltenham last Friday. Going right-handed at Ascot is another tick in the box for him, and we know he's race-fit. I'd prefer him to aim for this race than the other that he's entered for at Haydock on Saturday over 3m4f.

At Haydock on Friday, there looks like being a top novice chase over 2m5f at 3:15pm. With 9 of the 14 entries being LTO winners, this could be one of the best novice chases seen so far this season.

It may well be Betfair Chase day on Saturday, but the race at Haydock that I will be paying most attention to is the Class 3 handicap "Fixed-Brush" hurdle over 2m7f.  This is a hot-bed of young chasing talent, and anything under the age of 8yo that lines-up should be of interest for the rest of the season. Thinking of Saturday's racing; the 1st race at Haydock is at 12:10pm and the last race at 3:35pm - we are now in winter-racing mode!  As such, it is likely that blogs will be sent out by email the evening before racing to those on the email list, and then posted online at about 10am when the weather, going, and odds are known for the day ahead.

Looking at the Betfair Chase on Saturday, having had the benefit of a run, there is little likelihood of anything beating Silviniaco Conti, whatever the weather or ground. Cue Card may have won the "Charlie Hall" LTO but, when he was at his peak after winning the Betfair Chase in 2013, he couldn't beat Silviniaco Conti when they met at Kempton in the "King George" on 26Dec13.  With "Conti" probably losing the Betfair Chase that year as he came into the race off a long break, with the run under his belt he is race-fit and odds of "evens" are about right in my opinion.

As such, we will almost certainly be looking at other races on Saturday for our value wagers.

Monday 16 November 2015

So close, and yet, so far...

On Wednesday, last week, I sent this private message out to those on the email list (to gain a place on the email list requires a donation of £10 per month).

There are 3 horses that I keep coming back to in the Paddy Power:-
Johns Spirit - loves this C&D and even off OR157 he cannot be ignored, he's 12/1
Annacotty - another who loves this C&D, goes well fresh and trainer Alan King is very positive in the Weekender today. Looks about 6lb well-in on my ratings, he's 14/1.
Present View - 3rd in the race last year off OR144 and races off OR143 on Saturday. Has been aimed at this race for a long time, you can ignore his run at Sandown over 3-mile (beaten by Pendra) as he does not stay a yard further than 2m5f.  He led 2-out last year and I expect him to be thereabouts on Saturday - he's 20/1.

Then, on Saturday morning, I wrote this on the blog:
As the rain has got into the ground, then Annacotty's chance has improved and at 20/1 (available generally) we should get a good run from the horse who is having his debut for trainer Alan King.

Unfortunately, as the rain came down on Saturday morning and the ground softened, I thought there were more horses likely to hold winning chances than I was comfortable with to suggest a single selection on the race. Yet again (as with Saroque winning at Exeter at 10/1 two-weeks ago), my natural reticence held me back and I missed advising a winning wager. 

What I do know is that many of those on the email list placed a wager on ANNACOTTY to win the Paddy Power Chase.  Well done to you.  

Saturday was not a complete washout, as the selection at Cheltenham in the 3m3f handicap chase KNOCKANRAWLEY, ran an absolute cracker of a race and was only beaten by two others - Sausalito Sunrise, of whom I wrote was possibly the best handicapped horse in the race (he was); and the totally unexposed novice chaser Upswing, who looks on his way to being a 150+ chaser, especially on soft/heavy ground. The form of this race is top-notch, of that there is no doubt.  The only worry - and it is a big one - is that the pace of the race was so strong that some of these horses may have been bottomed-out. I did think that Sausalito Sunrise looked at the end of his tether on the run-in,  Most of these are to be aimed at the Welsh National next month, and we will all be waiting on the reaction of the handicapper to this race. 

The other blog selection on Saturday, Voyage A New York, was very disappointing, especially as he was so well supported in the betting market being gambled on from 9/2 in to an SP of 5/2.  I did think beforehand that the trip of 2m3f was on the short-side for him, but his overall performance was abject.  I don't think we can keep him on the alert list, it was so poor.

Back to the Paddy Power Gold Cup, by my own ratings I reckon Annacotty equalled his performance of last January when he won the 2m5f handicap chase at Cheltenham.  He's hit this high 3 times now (on my ratings) and it may be tough for Alan King to find more improvement with him. The runner-up Buywise came into the race from a long way back (perhaps 15-lengths off the lead 3-out) and, while some claim he was unlucky, he loves weaving through tired and beaten horses and this is the risk punters take with him - that he will arrive at the scene too late.  Personally, he needs to step-up to 3-mile and maybe up in grade to - and try and follow the example of Ballynagour in a Grade 1 chase. In 3rd Sound Investment was given a tremendous ride, only failing in the final strides of the run-in to snatch victory. I wrote on Saturday that I thought he was a potential Ryanair Chase winner next March, and this performance showed that was not wishful thinking on my part. The other potential Ryanair winner is Irish Cavalier who was cantering coming down the hill to the 3rd-last fence, and led at the final fence but found little on the run-in. Such was the manner he came down the hill, I will forgive this 6yo his undoing on the run-in as his half-brother (Make A Track, in-training with Gordon Elliot) has not won beyond 2m6f in 8 attempts, and his best form has been on "good" ground. As he ran 5th in this race, Irish Cavalier is unlikely to go up in the ratings, yet he looked a lot better than OR156 on the run to the final fence on Saturday!

We were back at Cheltenham on Sunday, where we witnessed the rekindled career of Sprinter Sacre, who was able to put a talented field to the sword in indecent fashion. Much was made afterwards (on twitter) about just how good this performance was, and was the old-master back to his best? Well, let us consider his rivals. Croco Bay (OR151) was outclassed and should have been 100/1 not 12/1,  Mr Mole (OR162) was conceding weight all-round and had to be in the form of his life to win. Simply Ned won LTO, but he's never won a Class 1 race (from 6 attempts), and his trainer (Nicky Richards) hasn't sent a winner to Cheltenham since 2006 - he's clearly doing something wrong when sending horses on a long trip from Cumbria. Savello (OR154) is fairly consistent in that he either runs well, or he doesn't - and on Saturday he ran well and to his rating. Using Savello at the benchmark, that puts Somersby on 154 - which is about as high as he's been since February 2013 on my ratings.  Somersby has been a very consistent horse throughout his career and (on my ratings) hasn't run over 160 since December 2011. This puts Sprinter Sacre's performance on 168 - which is 10lb better than anything he ran last season, and 10lb below his performance when beating Cue Card at Aintree in April 2013.  On my ratings, if he'd run to 168 last March, then he'd have WON the Champion Chase by about 8-lengths from Dodging Bullets. 

So then, Sprinter Sacre is not back to his best - but he doesn't have to be to be the best 2-mile chaser in training this season, this side of the Irish Sea.   

Saturday 14 November 2015

She's "Simply the best!"

Nina Carberry - yet again - demonstrated what a superbly talented jockey she is yesterday with 2 wins at Cheltenham, including steering blog selection KNOCK HOUSE to a tremendous win.  I wrote that I thought Knock House had about 10lb in-hand going into the race, and he was going so easily when jumping upsides the leader 5-out that you could call him the winner then.  Nina Carberry could have won the race by 20-lengths, but she won the race with a supremely confident ride by just a "neck".  The handicapper will have a job on to catch hold of this one!  Both the other selections lost, and while Loose Chips will have another day, Silver Roque has had his final run from the alert list.

Another tremendous day's racing ahead of us at Cheltenham. But first, the alert list runners and, being Cheltenham, there is a stack from the alert list running, and they cannot all win. As on previous Saturday's, I will not name all those on the alert list that are running (to preserve the integrity of my list), only those that I consider have a great chance. There is the likelihood over heavy rain in the morning, so the ground may be softish for the first race, but getting quicker as the day progresses.

One from the alery list is Vintage Vinnie in the 3-mile Class 2 novice chase at 1:15pm at Cheltenham. This race is a definite step-up in grade from his previous race (in which he fell), but I reckon he will show just how good he is in this race, and while he may not win, he should go close.

The 3m3f Grade 3 handicap Chase at 1:50pm is a favourite race of mine, as I tipped Monbeg Dude to win the race in 2012 when he won at 25/1 (I also tipped him when he went on to win the Welsh National with his next race).  The ground will be key in this race, as it has changed to Good-to-soft due to overnight rain.  As such, I've had to re-write the blog this morning! The ground now suits Black Thunder and despite top-weight his OR153 rating is lenient as I think he's a 158-160 horse. . The same can be said for Shotgun Paddy, who has slipped to OR145 - the softer ground will be in his favour. There are a couple that must be on the shortlist: Godsmejudge who was 5th in this in 2013 off OR148, and races off OR139 which is the rating from which he won the Scottish National in 2013. He was aimed at the Grand National last season, but the race didn't suit him. The Romford Pele ran well off a very long break LTO, and we should see an improvement for that run.  If he can repeat the form of his win in the "Summer Cup" of 29June14 over 3m2f he will be bang in the mix. Knockanrawley will be having only his 7th chase race, but he's looked a stayer with a future in his last 2 races in 2014-15, and his OR136 rating looks very lenient.  The 6yo Audacious Plan is another young horse on the way up, who will also also prefer the softer ground. Sausalito Sunrise looked like he was capable of beating Drop Out Joe (who won again last week) when they met at Chepstow, but was pulled-up. Nothing was wrong, and he comes into this possibly the best handicapped horse in the race. The betting has an 8/1 fav in Upswing (who will be a better horse on soft ground), which shows how wide-open the race is. I could choose 4 or 5 and not find the winner, but Kim Bailey has his stable firing on all cylinders. His entry KNOCKANRAWLEY will stay every yard, love the ground, and at 14/1 (available generally) he looks great eachway value.

The feature race of the day is the Grade 3 Paddy Power gold Cup handicap chase over 2m4f & 78 yards at 2:25pm.  With 20 top class handicappers going to post, this looks a very tough nut to crack, especially as I think there are two potential Ryanair Chase winners in the race in Sound Investment and Irish Cavalier. If either of these horses are capable of winning the Ryanair Chase next March, then they will go very close (if not win) today.  No horse older than 8yo has won this in the past 10-years; this race is all about untapped potential held in young horses. With only one winner carrying over 11st in the last 8 years; weight is also a pointer for the most likely winner. Earlier this week, I gave those on the email list 3 horses in the race that I thought would be "market movers" and likely to be involved in the finish: Johns Spirit; Annacotty, and Present View. If Johns Spirit wins the race I will be cheering him home as he's provided me and blog readers with some great days and plenty of profit, but I feel there will be 1 or 2 too good for him - he 's a great "place-only" wager on the exchanges.  The change in the ground has affected my selection. Had it remained "good" it would likely be a bit too quick for Annacotty; and I'd favour Present View, who I think has been aimed at this since he was 3rd in the race last year off OR144. He comes here on OR143 which means he's 2lb better-off with Johns Spirit on last years run.  As the rain has got into the ground, then Annacotty's chance has improved and at 20/1 (available generally) we should get a good run from the horse who is having his debut for trainer Alan King.  I've not mentioned the race-fav Kings Palace as I feel this race is a bit of a fav's graveyard, and this year looks one of the best renewals of recent years; it's an immense field.
After a re-think due to the ground, there are just too many now with a chance with the softer ground, and I could name 5 or even 6, and still not have the winner.

At Wetherby in the 2:05pm, alert list runner Voyage A New York has his seasonal debut. Last February, he beat Wakanda, which is good enough for me. Yes, he received 8lb from the runner-up but we all know Wakanda is a very good horse. This trip of 2m3f is a bit short - he would prefer 2m6f+ but the ground is soft which will test stamina, and odds of 9/2 (Bet365, Bet Victor) look generous to me.

Cheltenham 1:50pm KNOCKANRAWLEY; £5 eachway @ 14/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4)
Wetherby 2:05pm VOYAGE A NEW YORK; £10 win @ 9/2 (Bet 365, Bet Victor)
Total staked = £20

Friday 13 November 2015

Cheltenham "Paddy Power" meeting - Day 1 (Friday)

The "Open" meeting looks like being a top-class 3-day meeting. What a weekend we have ahead of us, with glorious weather forecast. There will not be a finer place to be than Cheltenham!

Before that - we went oh so close on Wednesday when blog selection Algernon Pazham led for most of the race, running the field ragged - apart from one, What A Good Night. The eventual winner was brought stealthily into the race (by the underrated Harry Skelton, brother of trainer Dan Skelton), and stayed-on strong to lead just strides before the line denying our selection a hard-fought victory.
What A Good Night could improve dramatically over this season when tried over 3-mile-plus, as his dam (Southern Skies) is a half-sister to Hennessy Gold Cup winner Strong Flow. His jumping has let him down in the past, and he's either won or fallen in his last 8 starts (he broke a blood vessel and was virtually pulled-up on 28Mar15). Both of these are going onto the alert list.
My only alert list runner in the race Cloudy Too, who carried top-weight of 11:12, ran well and was staying-on when he dropped-out after 4-out and was reported to have lost a fore-shoe. He stays on the alert list.
The day's poor luck was compounded by 2 (of my other 3) alert list runners on the day, winning at odds of 6/1 (Foxcub) and 15/8 (Final Assault).  When Foxcub won, in 2nd was my only other alert list runner of the day, After Eight Sivola, and the Exacta on that forecast was £29.80 for a £1 stake. I thought Foxcub was going chasing as his rating of OR134 looked a bit high, but maybe he will stay hurdling for his next run.

There are 4 alert list runners on Friday, all at Cheltenham.  For those who are interested, the record of alert list runners recently has been nothing short of phenomenal, and I'm tempted to wager on them blindly - so I won't put you off doing that if you have been following the blog recently.
The alert list runners (with my profile comments) are:-
1:05pm - Silver Roque: always best fresh and on 1st run of the season, 2m4f on soft perfect for him.
1:40pm - More Of That: won 2014 World Hurdle as a 6yo, Looks long-term prospect, injured since November 2014.
2:50pm - Loose Chips: Jumps well, best on soft/heavy, OR130 looks very lenient as with good jockey runs to 140.
4:00pm - Knock House: very game, just btn at 3-mile LTO; was 5th at Cheltfest15 over 2m5f and could be 150 at that trip.

Silver Roque was exceptionally unlucky to bump into Cloud Creeper on OR125 on 12th Feb (his jumping was out-of-sorts on his previous run in October) as that horse won his next two races and is now rated OR150. That the winning margin was only a neck, and he was conceding Cloud Creeper 12lb shows just how good Silver Roque can be when he's fresh. The last time he ran over 2-miles was when he won on 1st March 2013, beating a useful field with top-weight. The ground was too quick for him LTO (his only run since 2nd to Cloud Creeper) in May, and it is hoped the ground at Cheltenham is more soft than good. It will probably be the last chance to wager on Silver Roque before age starts to take it's toll, and the 25/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place) is too generous given his record, and a small eachway wager is required. The only time to wager on this horse is when fresh from a long break.

The novice chase at 1:40pm over 2m4f has to be watched, even though alert list runner More Of That is contesting, with Barry Geraghty in the saddle.  It will take a good horse to beat As De Mee (currently 7/2 generally in this race in my opinion, based on his chase debut performance.

The Cross-Country chases at Cheltenham are not a great idea in my opinion, but they are useful as a betting medium, especially the handicaps.  Horses either take to the Cross-Country fences or they don't and there can be huge swings in form accordingly. Not a betting medium to put the mortgage on, but if you can find a horse that loves these races then you are on to a winner.  I think Loose Chips could be one of these horses, and he is doubly-blessed because I consider his OR130 rating is very lenient. If the going description had the word "soft" in it, I'd say Loose Chips would be much shorter odds than 16/1 but, with the ground is likely to be "quick" (that is good-to-firm in places), they are about right.  Even so, a repeat of his performance on 'good' ground at Cheltenham over 3m4f (regulation fences) could well be good enough to win as this confirmed front-runner will prove tough to pass and, as the Cross-Country race is run at a slower pace due to the twists and turns, his stamina is less likely to fail him.

The last race on the card is for amateur riders, and much depends on jockeyship as the horse.  The best amateurs win this race; and they are Nina Carberry, Derek O'Connor, JJ Codd, Sam Waley-Cohen, Katie Walsh, and W Biddick.  Alert list horse KNOCK HOUSE has perhaps the best rider in Nina Carberry, and although this horse hasn't won at 3-mile he is certainly bred to stay the trip. From his run LTO (blog readers were on the winner, Open Hearted), will know just how much potential this 6yo has, and I have him 5lb ahead of the handicapper on that run, and he should improve another 5lb for that run. Yes, he has top-weight, but there is plenty of dead-wood in this race, and current odds of 11/2 (Bet365) look too good.  He is 5/1 generally, so I will base the wager on those odds.

Cheltenham 1:05pm - SILVER ROQUE; £2.50 eachway @ 25/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Cheltenham 2:50pm - LOOSE CHIPS; £2.50 eachway @ 16/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4)
Cheltenham 4:00pm - KNOCK HOUSE: £5 eachway @ 5/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Total Staked = £20

Wednesday 11 November 2015

A lovely day in Bangor!

On this day 2 years ago, followers of the blog enjoyed a famous victory when the only advised wager of the day WON at 25/1 - that was Midnight Appeal.  Then, last year, readers of the blog were on Foxcub when he won at and SP of 7/1 (advised at 11/1).  As such, today's Bangor meeting holds a special place, and we shall try and emulate that day again today.

We have not enjoyed much luck this past week
- identifying winners and not selecting them;
- alert list recommendations not being followed up, then winning;
- and good chances being given poor rides.
Yesterday's selection Cloudy Joker, drifted in the betting to start at 12/1 and ran a great race, up with the pace for much of the race, before feeling the pinch in the run up to the final fence and having nothing left for the run-in. He's not yet recovered his pre-injury form, but this race suggests he is not far away.

We have 3 alert list runners at Bangor:
Cloudy Too in the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase at 2:00pm, and
Foxcub and After Eight Sivola in the 2m3f Class 2 handicap hurdle at 3:00pm.

I first noticed Cloudy Too when he won a novice chase at Carlisle in November 2012, beating his stable mate Vintage Star. I rated that win at 144, which was 10lb higher than RPR, and 15lb higher than the Official Handicapper who put him up to OR129.  Sometimes it pays to rely on your own ratings!  With top-weight today in the day's feature race at Bangor, he may have a hard task ahead, and then again he may not.  The handicapper has dropped him from OR156 (last Feb) to OR145,  this is a horse who won the Rowland Meyrick (Grade 3) handicap chase on Boxing Day on 2013 off OR148 by 10-lengths, and he is only a 9yo today. There has been a 9yo winner of this race, but only the one and nothing older - so I can effectively put a line thru' those 10yo or older. The other 9yo in the field, Achimota, does not look to have any improvement in him. Of the 6 horses 8yo or younger, Catching On is rated on his good win over 3m6f and this trip may be on the short-side for him. With 13 chase runs to date, the 7yo What A Good Night appears to have "plateaued".  The 6yo Algernon Pazham ran a cracker when 3rd at Haydock in April over 3-mile on soft, and runs today off the same OR135 rating. He looks set to run a big race today. Given the form of his stable, Shantou Magic ran a disappointing race LTO when well-beaten over 2m5f.  The 7yo Fergal Mael Duin looks outclassed and is usually one-paced at the business end. Bob Ford was 2nd in this race last year off OR132, but had the benefit of a run that day, and comes here off a break and on a 4lb higher rating.
It is no surprise to see Algernon Pazham the race-fav at 5/1, and those odds look fair, as do the odds of 7/1 about Cloudy Too.

Last year, Foxcub won the 2m3f handicap hurdle at 3:00pm off a rating of OR132, when he was allowed to run-away with the race. Unfortunately, the soft ground won't help him today and, much as I'd like to tip him as we were on him last year,  The soft ground is also a worry about After Eight Sivola, but he is well-handicapped on OR128, and won LTO, last month. The race-fav Gold Present may be the answer as Nicky Henderson does not come to Bangor often and has a tremendous strike-rate here.

At Ayr, we also have an alert list runner in Final Assault in the 3-mile handicap chase at 2:50pm, Unfortunately, I think this 3-mile trip may catch him out and I would not want to be on him at current odds of 7/4, as that is not value. He may well prove me wrong and win, but the 5yo Un Noble should not be under-estimated, and the 8yo Presented (2nd to Vintage Star last week), is proven at the trip and race-fit.

Do we have a wager today?  I always prefer youth when placing a wager, as they have the potential to improve.  Odds of 5/1 look fair on ALGERNON PAZHAM, and Twiston-Davies has his horses running well.  If Cloudy Too goes well, then he will win, so I can't see much point in going eachway with him.

Bangor 2:00 - ALGERNON PAZHAM; £6 eachway @ 5/1 (available generally quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
and a "saver" wager on
CLOUDY TOO; £3 WIN @ 7/1 (available generally)
Total staked = £15

Tuesday 10 November 2015

More success for the Alert List

It seems to happen every jumps season, and yet I always need reminding.
The Alert List should (probably) followed blindly, with a level-stake wager on every runner from it. 
Saturday's 11/1 winner of the feature race, Drop Out Joe, was on my alert list - but I overlooked him for another horse (A Good Skin) who ran 3rd. 
Then, yesterday, there were 4 horses from the alert list running: 
Silsol; SeeyouatmidnightSalubrious; and Deputy Dan 
- and two won (Silsol @ 5/2 and Salubrious @ 11/4) with the other pair being beaten in the same races. A level-stake wager at £10 win on all 4 from the alert list would have resulted in a profit of £32.50 on the total stakes of £40.

Today, there are 3 jump racing meetings at Sedgefield, Lingfield, and Huntingdon. I will endeavour to keep this blog short (time constraints). 

There are no "value" wagering opportunities at Huntingdon. 

Lingfield looks like it may have an opportunity in the Class 3, 2-mile handicap chase at 3:00pm.  The ground at Lingfield is heavy, and when it is heavy at Lingfield, it really is heavy!  Only 6-runners go to post in this race and, given the condition of the ground, those that can run on heavy ground are the ones to focus on. The market leaders, Gores Island and Tresor De Bontee, both have winning form on heavy ground and both are C&D winners on soft/heavy ground. On known form, one of this pair should win the race.  The 5yo Walk In The Mill is having his UK debut having been racing in France, and the level of his form is an unknown.  Of the other 3 in the race: Doctor Pheonix ran an awful chase debut on 21st October, and needs to find a vast improvement.  Boss In Boots hasn't shown any ability on soft/heavy ground before today, and Morgan's Bay is held on form by Tresor De Bontee.  It may be worth having a reverse-forecast on Gores Island and Tresor De Bontee, as the former is race-fit, while the latter goes well fresh, and it it hard to separate them on form. 

At Sedgefield, we have two from the alert list running.
In the 2:20pm, 2m3f novice handicap chase there is Friendly Royal who looked very accomplished when winning his chase debut last month. He won that race in a canter, and I think his OR106 rating today is a gift, as he should on OR120 and carrying top-weight in this race. Yes, Nautical Twilight ran well in his debut chase but he didn't win and he's conceding 4lb to Friendly Royal. Best odds on Friendly Royal are 9/4 but they are going fast - when I started the blog he was 3/1.  As he may be only 2/1 at best when you read this blog, I cannot recommend a "value" wager (as odds will be under the cut-off of 9/4) but this horse should win. 

The other horse from the alert list is Cloudy Joker in the 2m3f, Class 3 handicap chase at 2:50pm at Sedgefield. He missed the entire 2014-15 season, and has been coaxed back to fitness over hurdles.  That sphere is not his forte, chasing is - and if he is anywhere near the form of his novice season then he will be tough to beat today, as OR125 is very fair considering he won 3 of his 4 chase starts in that novice season. The trip and ground at Sedgefield will be just about perfect for him, and odds of 13/2 look reasonable for an eachway wager with 8-runners making it 5th odds a place 1, 2, 3.

Sedgefield 2:50 CLOUDY JOKER, £5 eachway @ 13/2 (available generally, 5th odds a place 1, 2, 3)

Monday 9 November 2015

Coneygree starts on the Gold Cup trail

Sandown was rewarded handsomely for putting on a tremendous Sunday meeting (last year the meeting was on Saturday) with Gold Cup winner CONEYGREE easily beating his 2-rivals as he began his campaign to defend his Gold Cup crown.  
This blog has long been an admirer of Coneygree (since December 2012) and, after he won the "Denman" Chase at Newbury last February, I made the horse my antepost selection for the Gold Cup when he was being offered at odds of 12/1 (see blog dated 9th February 15, "time to bet like a man"). The year looks tougher than 2015, with Don Cossack already having posted his credentials in Ireland, and the likes of Djakadam, Don Poli and Vautour all waiting in the wings.
Paddy Power are offering 7/1 about Coneygree winning the Gold Cup again next March, and while we all know that is a very difficult thing to acheive (only Arkle, L'Escargot, and Best Mate have retained the Gold Cup in my lifetime), those odds are extremely generous, in my opinion, about a Gold Cup winner who (I think) should probably be the 7/2 fav at this time. 

On Saturday, we had a couple of wagers, with the main focus being on the Badger Ales Trophy (handicap) chase at Wincanton.  After reviewing the race, I opted for a split-stakes wager on two horses in the race: A Good Skin and Doing Fine
The performance of the latter, Doing Fine, was disappointing as he's run well in the past on soft ground, but his jumping wasn't good enough on Saturday, with two significant errors at the "ditch" fence on the back-straight. What you have to take into account with this race is the overall pace - it was run at a searching gallop on the testing soft ground, and most of these horses were found-out by the pace. Doing Fine was included in the wager as his form at Chepstow on the 10th October was solid - and that was confirmed as the winner of that race Drop Out Joe, won on Saturday despite having been raised 10lb in the handicap.  What was significant was that Doing Fine was pulled-up after jumping 4-out, with about half-a-mile still to run. As such, he wasn't run to exhaustion and I will keep him on the alert list. 
As the leaders jumped the fence 4-out, it was looking like the blog selection A Good Skin was going the strongest as jockey Paddy Brennan had yet to ask the horse a question, yet he was on the shoulder of long-time leader Royal Palladium. Unfortunately, as he approached the 3rd-last fence it was obvious that he had nothing left in the tank, and he only just jumped the 3rd-last fence and stayed-up. Brennan took the sensible option and guided the horse gently home maintaining 3rd place.  This was only the 6th chase race for A Good Skin and the 6yo (who won over 3m1f at Cheltenham last April) will be seen to better effect when racing over better ground.  The soft ground and strong gallop found him out, but he has time on his side.  He goes onto the alert list.

You may not want to read this but on Saturday but Drop Out Joe (along with Doing Fine) was on my alert list after winning on 10th October when a selection for the blog, and tho' my immediate reaction after that race was that Drop Out Joe was potentially a 150+ chaser. in my opinion the 10lb hike by the handicapper for that win was too much. However, Aidan Coleman rode an absolute "pearler" on the horse to win on Saturday, especially when you consider the horse was giving the long-term leader and runner-up Royal Palladium 20lb. What is also interesting is that the horse did not run well on soft/heavy ground as a hurdler, and both his wins in that sphere were on "good" ground. Hopefully, this race will not have taken too much out of him, as he still looks very exciting going forward, and he could develop into a 160+ Grade 1 horse. 

It was desperate luck for connections of Royal Palladium that he was caught on the run-in after leading for so long. This is another lightly-raced 7yo having only his 7th chase race.  This horse needs soft ground, and a clue to his ability was his run on 15th January when he fell 3-out when leading in the race won by Firebird Flyer. I do not think he'd have won that race, but I'm fairly certain he would have been 2nd, suggesting that he's capable of running to 135+ when race-fit on soft ground. As he was running off OR123 (carried 1lb overweight) on Saturday, he will still be very well handicapped on my ratings even after being re-rated for this performance. He's on the alert list.

My other selection on Saturday ran at Aintree - Upepito.  This was a weak 2m4f Class 2 handicap, and Upepito was thrown-in off a rating of OR128.  What cost him the race, in my opinion, was the inexperience of the jockey, 5lb claimer Bridget Andrews. Now, I am all for young jockeys being given a fair chance, and when you find a capable "claimer" you are onto a good thing, but Miss Andrews has been given a fair crack of the whip by Dan Skelton now (11 rides since 1st October, producing just one winner, and only 2 wins from her last 23 rides) and this ride on Upepito was almost a guaranteed winner, provided the horse finished the race. She presented the horse to the jumps awkwardly (in my opinion) a couple of times, and almost took-out the "wing" of the cross-fence on the 1st-circuit. Hopefully, we will see a professional jockey in the plate next time, as I'm sure with a better jockey the horse would have won this race.  Yes, eventual winner Pepite Rose ran a cracker, but the mare showed us nothing new in winning this race.  As I wrote, this race was weak, and that Pepite Rose had the race won after jumping 3-out and the nearest challenger was the 2-mile chaser Ballygarvey, confirms how weak the race was. 

No wagers advised today,  We have the Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham this weekend, and I will be getting some early form study in for what will be a demanding and, hopefully, lucrative weekend of racing.  In the meantime, take note of the racing at Carlisle today as there are some decent looking novice and graduation chasers running there in Silsol (1:45pm); Seeyouatmidnight (1:45pm); Salubrious (2:50pm); and Deputy Dan (2:50pm) - all of whom will likely have a profitable season ahead of them.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton

We go into Saturday with only a handful of runners off the alert list going to the races. With 3 meetings at Aintree, Kelso and Wincanton we should be able to find a value wager, and one that turns a profit.  Many thanks to all those on the email list for your positive comments yesterday.  It looks like you overwhelmingly want me to continue unchanged.

First, although there was no selection yesterday, it was only because the odds offered were too short. The only race I looked at was the 3:30pm from Musselburgh, and Village Vic was a strong fav for the race at 6/4, and he went on to win fairly easily having been challenged by course-favorite Quito De Tresor at the 2nd-last. I wrote yesterday that Village Vic will end up a 145+ chaser, and he showed that was perfectly possible (he may end up 150+) with this win off OR129. He probably should have started odds-on.  The only disappointment (for me) was Kodicil falling mid-race, as I reckon he'd have been 2nd had he finished and my straight-forecast wager (Village Vic to beat Kodicil) went south when he fell.

The Aintree meeting is an bit of an odd one, with the Betfred Hurdle at 2:30pm over 2m4f being run by a handful of "comeback" horses. It seems that the sole reason Barry Geraghty is riding here is to partner Simonsig in this race, as the horse hasn't run since winning the poorest "Arkle" in recent history in March 2013.  That said, there are a couple of interesting handicap chases to get stuck into, both Class 2 over 2m4f at 3:05pm, and over 2-mile at 3:40pm.  However, heavy overnight rain hads turned the ground soft, so we may see a few non-runners, and the betting markets may be odd. Given the win of Village Vic yesterday, it is no surprise to see the Upepito the warm fav for the 3:05pm as he pushed Village Vic hard LTO when 2nd to him. I cannot see anything beating Upepito, but he is only 9/4 with a few bookies (Bet365, Bet Victor, Coral)

Kelso also has a couple of handicap chases of interest: at 2:15pm there is a Class 3 over 3-mile; and at 2:50pm another Class 3 over 2m1f.  However, due to time constraints, I'm going to give the meeting a miss.

Wincanton holds the feature race of the day in the Badger Ales Trophy (Listed) handicap chase over 3m1f at 2:05pm. The race-fav is The Ould Lad trained by Paul Nicholls. He was trained by Tom George last season, and he didn't didn't jump well nor did he look like he'd stay this sort of trip and be as effective as he is at 2m6f. He looks a false favourite to me. Forgotten Gold won well LTO on 25th October, but that was on his favoured "good" ground; it's good-to-soft at Wincanton, and that may stop him. Carole's Destrier went from strength-to-strength last season ending the season on OR149 (from OR135). He'll handle the trip and ground and, interestingly, he met Doing Fine at Ffos Las at the start of last season.  There was 9lb between them that day and they were separated by a neck on the line over 3-mile on soft ground. On that run, Doing Fine is 6lb well-in, and has the benefit of a good seasonal debut when 3rd to Drop Out Joe LTO.  Unfortunately, his jumping went to pot after that Ffos Las race, but he recovered it to run a cracker at the Festival last March, and I thought he was the best one to take from the race when 3rd LTO.  Charlie Longsdon's horses can do no wrong lately, but I feel the 10lb hike on Drop Out Joe is a tad too much, as is the extra furlong. That Doing Fine is re-opposing on 8lb better terms is interesting, what is a worry is the form of trainer Rebecca Curtis as her horses aren't winning races. Many have tipped Theatrical Star, but I feel the ground will be too quick for him and, at OR139, he is at his level. Trainer Tom George has two in the race, Forgotten Gold and A Good Skin who is ridden by stable jockey Paddy Brennan and who could come on a lot for his seasonal debut.  He ran in what could turn out to be a top novice chase LTO, and OR137 looks lenient; he will love the ground and stay the trip well too.  Of the others, Bertie Boru looks fairly handicapped and could run well, and nothing can be discounted coming from Venetia Williams, so how will Royal Paladium fare?

It's a tricky race to fathom, so eachway only and A GOOD SKIN at 12/1 looks the wager, along with a "saver" wager on DOING FINE at 11/1. Both of these look much better value that the fav The Ould Lad at 3/1, who (if he wins) should be subjected to a stewards enquiry for his improvement in form .

Wincanton 2:05 A GOOD SKIN; £6 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3), and
Wincanton 2:05 DOING FINE: £4 eachway @ 11/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Aintree 3:05: UPEPITO: £10 win @ 9/4 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Coral)
Total Staked = £30

Friday 6 November 2015

Some you win, some you don't

It has been an up-and-down week after the euphoria of last weekend.
I have looked at 5 races and come up with 2 selections, both of which have been well beaten - but the other 3 races have had a "next best" (but not quite good enough to be advised as a selection) who have all gone on to win!
Yesterday was a prime example.  The selection Valleyofmilan was sent off at 12/1 which were tremendous odds considering there were only 6 runners and he was guaranteed to stay the trip and handle the ground.  All was going well, though I'd have preferred the horse to have been ridden more prominently, until the horse made a slight error at the 1st fence on the 2nd-circuit (5-out, there were 3 fences omitted of the 8 fences per circuit). The young jockey should have ensured the horse had a good look going into the next, but he didn't and there the horse made a bad error losing a lot of ground.  It was difficult from the camera angle (head-on) to see how much ground was lost, but when the field passed the camera as they turned into the home straight, Valleyofmilan was about 16-lengths off the lead and well behind the 4th horse (Problematic Tic had already been pulled-up). Up to this stage, the race had been run at a good pace, and that pace was starting to tell on the leaders. As such, Valleyofmilan made-up considerable ground to be, at the post, beaten less than 4-lengths - and he was making-up ground so quick on the leading pair he'd probably have passed them in another 150 yards. He is only a 5lb-claimer but the jockey, James Cowley, let us down there as I will be surprised if the winner of the race Cobajayisland wins over a trip of 3-mile again once he's been re-rated. 

The other race I looked at, a novice chase at Market Rasen, seemed a "toss-up" between the race fav No No Mac having his chase debut, and another chase debutant Kingswell Theatre who. at 9/2 in the morning, seemed by far the best value in the race. After blundering at the 9th fence (of 14), No No Mac lost his confidence and quickly became tailed-off, which left the race at the mercy of Kingswell Theatre who won eased-down in a canter at an SP of 11/4. After this, I was kicking myself for not, perhaps, suggesting a "split-stake" wager on the race, with £5 win on both No No Mac and £5 win on Kingswell Theatre. I am aware that some of those on the email list are not regular punters on the horses, and I don't want to make the betting advice given too sophisticated.  Or should I? Would anyone object if I suggested a split-stake wager on 2 horses in the same race?  I would welcome comments on the matter.

There are 3 meetings over the jumps today at Fontwell, Hexham and Musselburgh. With all the rain here in the South East, it is no surprise to see the ground at Fontwell is "soft", and it could well be worse than that.  No suitable races for a wager there.

Hexham also does not have any races suitable for a wager, as I'm sticking to races of Class 3 or better. That said, the opening maiden hurdle has the interestingly well-bred Cloudy Dream whose dam (Run Away Dream) is a half-sister to the Grade 1, 2-mile chaser Get Real.  This gelding could make rapid progress through the ranks and whatever he does this season will be a bonus, as he will be chasing next season. One for the alert list on breeding alone.  

At Musselburgh, we have an alert list runner in the 3m2f handicap chase at 2:30pm, but the race is only a Class 4.  The alert is The Backup Plan, however, both his last couple of wins have been at trips under 2m4f, so whether he will stay this 3m2f trip is anyone's guess. Will will watch and learn on this occasion

At 3:30pm there is a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m4f, with a strong fav in Village Vic.  He won LTO and has been raised only 4lb to OR129. I thought that was a great performance and, should he improve a few pounds for the run, he could post a 135+ run today.  That should be good enough to win as, although the 2nd-fav Mwaleshi will appreciate this trip (has been running over 3-mile recently), he really wants soft ground to show his best form.  A more interesting challenge may come from Kodicil, who won his last chase race (has since run on the flat, so comes here race-fit), and that looks very good form.  His nearest challengers that day have both won since, and both have been raised 9lb by the handicapper.  As such, if Kodicil met them both today he'd be a 1lb better-off even though he beat them well when they met in 20th September, as he's only gone up 8lb in the handicap! So, is he a handicap "good-thing"?   Possibly, but more likely not.  Village Vic was highly tried as a novice hurdler, and was only beaten less than 3-lengths by The New One (went on to win the Neptune Novice hurdle at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival and now rated OR162), so I'd expect Village Vic to be capable of achieving an OR145+ rating as a chaser given time and experience. As he's at best-odds of 6/4, this is a no-bet race for me.

No wagers advised today, so I will start looking at the weekends racing.  Just to inform you that there may not be a blog on Sunday at that is my birthday - so I will likely give myself the day off!

Thursday 5 November 2015

Slim pickings despite three meetings

This may be a short blog as although there are 3 meetings over the jumps, the quality of horseracing is most Class 4 or lower.

There is a Class 3 handicap chase at Market Rasen at 2:45pm, but it is for novice chasers. However, the race does include a horse from my alert list in No No Mac who is having his chase debut. Last season No No Mac ran 2 game, consistent performances when the word "soft" was in the going description; but his final 2 races of last season, as well as his final race of the 2013-14 season, were run on "good" ground and he didn't excel.  The ground is forecast to be "soft" at Market Rasen, so that is a good pointer. The trip is good too, at 2m5f, but the odds are too short to advise as a wager at 7/4 (Note: I do not advise wagers on selections with odds shorter than 9/4).  The 2nd-fav Father Edward wants "good" ground and nothing worse, so he's at a disadvantage. The 3rd-Fav is Kingswell Theatre who is also having his chase debut. He also enjoys soft ground, and will have the stamina for this trip, and his full-brother Prince Tom (now an 11yo) came into his own over fences and has won off OR137, so there is scope for Kingswell Theatre off OR125 and his odds at 9/2 look very fair. If this were a hurdle then Raktiman would be well fancied, but his chase debut was disappointing and he's best watched; as is Big Jim who looks on a high mark at OR120 compared to his achievements over hurdles.  Overall, a no-bet race for me but, if tempted to have a wager, it would be a small wager on Kingswell Theatre at 9/2.

There is a Class 3 handicap chase over 3-mile at Musselburgh contested by just 6-runners at 2:35pm. This race has some scope for a wager as the fav Cobajayisland may have had a recent run 25-days ago, but he's not suggested in his career to date that he's capable of winning at this sort of trip. All his form is around 2m4f and he's not a 7/4 chance in my eyes.  The 2nd-fav Swing Hard has had a torrid time this past year as his form has gone, and his latest run didn't provide much encouragement that he was on the way back.  Add to that he was well beaten at level-weights last March by Red Admirable and, although meeting that one on 16lb better terms he is unlikely to reverse the placings. That day in March, Red Admirable had the race won when clouting the final fence, and his jumping can be erratic - it cost him the race when last seen - and he's likely to be exposed by his poor jumping again. Problematic Tic was a decent horse 2 years ago, capable of a 135+ performance, but he can't be relied on these days; even so he may decide to rekindle his form. Both Valleyofmilan and Purcells Bridge have winning form over fences at 3-mile, with Purcells Bridge having a win over C&D in January this year on soft ground. That the ground at Musselburgh is "good", and that he's also had a recent run, has swung me towards Valleyofmilan,  His win on good ground at Bangor over 3-mile in Aug14 looks good enough to take this if repeated. Also, his LTO race was a good one, and I've put the 1st and 2nd onto my alert list. Valleyofmilan was tenderly ridden but stayed on well in the final half-mile and if that race has brought him on a few pounds that could be enough to see him take this race, and current odds of 8/1 in this 6-runner race look generous given some of the runners have fairly weak form credentials for this 3-mile handicap chase, and I'd have him at about 7/2. There is a possibility of rain at Musselburgh but it is likely to fall after the race, so the ground should remain good for the race.

The meeting at Towcester has no opportunities.

Looking at Friday's racing, there does not look to be much opportunity for a wager.  So VALLEYOFMILAN it is and the horse should give us a good run as he's a safe jumper and 5lb claimer James Cowley has a good relationship with him.

Musselburgh 2:35 - VALLEYOFMILAN, £5 eachway @ 8/1 (Bet365, BetVictor, Hills and Betfred all go BOG (best odds guaranteed) and quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Total staked = £10

Wednesday 4 November 2015

The alert list strikes again!

When I write the blog in the morning, there comes a time when I have to make a decision based on the information that I have available - to recommend a wager, or not.

After assessing the form and having formed an opinion on a race, there are two variables that I MUST consider:
(a) the weather prior to and during the race (and whether it will adversely affect the result), and
(b) the betting market.
Yesterday morning, I didn't appreciate just how much rain was anticipated and, between sending the blog out on email at 11:30am and when the result of the opening race was known 2hrs later, the ground had turned from good-to-soft, to just "soft" and getting softer.

The effect of this was two-fold. It meant (1) that in the Haldon Gold Cup God's Own had little chance of winning as the ground had turned against him, and (2) the 3-mile handicap chase at 3:20pm was going to be a severe war of attrition and only a horse capable of handling the conditions was going to win.

Unfortunately, I am actually employed and so was otherwise occupied between 11:30am to 3:00pm; so the change in the weather and worsening ground was unknown to me. When I logged-on at 3:10pm for the 3-mile handicap chase, I quickly became aware that the betting market had changed completely.
The novice chasers Belmount and Whats Left were the 6/1 joint-favs but, with the ground now more heavy than soft, these two young novice chasers were short on experience for coping with such conditions in so competitive a handicap. Ziga Boy was on 13/2, and while he'd run 2nd on heavy ground before, that was over 2m4f not 3-mile; and he'd pulled-up on heavy ground in the West Wales National in January which was not a good sign in my book.
Another, Big Society, was 7/1 but having not won a chase race in 10 attempts was not a good advert for his chances. That, and having run 3rd of 4 finishers over C&D last November on heavy ground was not (to me) an indication that he'd handle the conditions either. The 7yo Tinker Time is well handicapped and stays 3-mile, but he's never won in 10 races on soft/heavy ground and on that basis should not have been 8/1.

Overall, in my opinion, the betting market for the race was in complete disarray and - unbelievably - the one horse I knew who would want the ground soft (the softer, the better) was my alert list horse SAROQUE; yet his odds had drifted from 7/1 to 10/1.  It made no sense to me and had you been with me at 3:10pm yesterday afternoon I'd have told you to put the mortgage on the horse at those odds in those conditions.
We all know the result now, and there was a dodgy moment at the final fence when it looked likely that SAROQUE would crumple on landing even if he managed to clamber over the fence, but the gutsy horse showed his metal and maintained his gallop to the line.
If you are wondering, this is why I sometimes recommend an eachway wager at certain odds (or no bet at all) as you have to weigh-up the risks involved in each wager and ascertain if there is "value" in it. Had SAROQUE made a significant error (but not fallen) at the final fence then he'd still have been no worse than 3rd at the line and the original stake money would have been recovered.

What I do know (from the email responses from those who are on the email list) is that 75% of you had a wager on SAROQUE purely on the basis of reading the narrative, and that is tremendous. It is a vindication of why I write the narrative; as it allows you (the reader) to adjust your wagers to suit your own risk profile. So, while I can't claim credit for "scoring", I think I can claim an "assist" for SAROQUE.

At one point in the race, I thought the other horse I'd mentioned in yesterday's blog Midnight Lira was looking a potential winner, but her lack of stamina told and she faded to 5th place.  Do not overlook the trainer of Midnight Lira, Caroline Keevil, she know's more than most and is underrated.

Finally, I was not impressed with the win by Vibrato Valtat on ground that his two closest rivals could not cope with. He really clouted the final fence, which is not a good sign in my book as it suggests he was tiring, and he still has to prove to me that he's better than OR157.

The results yesterday were further vindication - if I needed any (I don't) - that my alert list programme of selection is working, and working well. Confidence is the key to successful wagering, and I believe that I'm as good a race-reader as any "professional"; I think I'm the best there is.
I assess the race results, find underrated performances from young horses, and then wait until the perfect conditions present themselves - and sometimes that wait can be years.  Remember, you cannot make a slow horse faster, you can only slow-down a fast horse.

Looking at the meetings today at Chepstow and Warwick there are no wagering opportunities. so we will await Thursdays race meetings at Market Rasen, Musselburgh and Towcester.