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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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Tuesday 22 March 2016

Cheltenham - the autopsy

The Cheltenham Festival last week was a disaster for the bookies with (apparently) over £100 million lost by the industry as the favorites kept on winning - making the week a bonanza for the punters chasing the short-priced favs.  Ruby Walsh rode 3 winners for his trainer Willie Mullins on the opening day: Douvan @ 1/4; Annie Power @ 5/2; and Vroum Vroum Mag @ 4/6. The bookies had to thank Nicky Henderson for supplying one in Altior to beat the 15/8 fav Min in the opening race, or it may have been a bloodbath from which there was no recovery.
The 2nd day provided respite for the bookies as hot-fav Yanworth was beaten (after being given possibly the worst ride of the week) by another Walsh-ridden, Mullins-trained horse in Yorkill.
But on Day-3 (Thursday) the bookies were again running for cover as Walsh and Mullins combined to win the opener with the 4/1 joint-fav Black Hercules, and then to the days feature chase race, the "Ryanair" with the "evens" fav Vautour - who looked the easiest winner of the week, until Thistlecrack (also at "evens") won the World Hurdle in such emphatic fashion you thought it was a walk-over. The nail in the coffin for the bookies on Thursday was Limini (Walsh and Mullins again) winning the inaugural running of the "Dawn Run" Mares novices hurdle at 8/11.
Friday was another good day for the Irish but, this time, it was not Walsh and Mullins who provided Irish-trained winners Ivanovich Gorbatov @ 9/2; Don Cossack @ 9/4; and On The Fringe @ 13/8.

Where did this flood of short-priced winning favourites leave the "value" punter like me? Out in the cold, that's where.  A major weapon in my armoury is that the fav takes a huge chunk out of the market and (if the fav gets beaten) there is value to be found in the market if you can find the winner. That is not to say there is value in wagers placed on short-priced fav's.  When you consider Douvan had an SP of 1/4, you didn't need to be a betting aficionado to be able to form the opinion that Vautour and Thistlecrack (both with SP's of "evens") were value. And if they were value, then you could also consider the chances of odds-on winner Limini @ 8/11 was also better than her odds.

My 3 selections on the opening day (Beg To Differ, Vicente, and Five In A Row) were all beaten, producing a loss of £30 on the day to advised stakes although Vicente looked particularly unlucky in-running.
The 2nd day was no better, with my advised wagers in the RSA Chase (Seeyouatmidnight and Vyta Du Roc) being beaten, and Special Tiara in the Champion Chase running a cracking race to be 3rd but that wasn't good enough to return a profit for the blog as Sprinter Sacre showed his form this season really was better than any other 2-mile chaser.  As such I ended the day £20 down (and £50 lost on the week).
The 3rd day of the Festival is always a busy day for me and is the day that makes or breaks my Festival - and we came close to making it back. Time will show us (as it did with Wishful Thinking in this race a few years ago) that the best horse in the JLT Novices Chase was my selection Bristol De Mai, but the 5yo was just outstayed on the day by Black Hercules. I was correct in pointing out that Vautour would win the Ryanair Chase in a canter, but the policy for this blog is to NOT advise wagers on selections at odds under 9/4.  When Taquin De Seuil won the JLT Novices Chase here in 2014, I rated it at just 151 while RPR (Racing Post) rated the win at 164. Throughout last season he never looked like a 160+ chaser and I felt my assessment was vindicated.  However, he came out and won from a year off at Warwick in February and I thought perhaps he'd managed to overcome a problem during the break, and returned a better horse. But no, he's a 151-153 performer and he never got a look in.
The World Hurdle looked a shoo-in for the fav Thistlecrack, and I wrote as much in my assessment of the race. As such, I was looking for a horse who would come at least in the 1st-3 and perhaps challenge the fav if in the best of form. But, in Saphir Du Rheu, I selected a horse who was struggling fully a mile from the finish. At £45 down on the day, I was hopeful for Stilletto to recoup the losses as he was the subject of a gamble from 10/1 to an SP of 11/2 - but he fell at the 3rd fence!
The final race on the card, the Kim Muir Chase finally provided some respite, but still we could not find the winner.  Even so, both selections Silvergrove and A Good Skin ran great races to finish 3rd and 2nd (respectively). Had either horse won, then we'd have broken even on the day. Instead, we recovered £43.62 resulting in a profit of £28.62 on the race, but a loss of £31.38 on the day and £81.38 on the week, with the final day still to come.
Going into Friday, I was still hopeful of at least breaking even on the week, and maybe even securing a small profit.  As my strength is in my interpretation of chasing form, I decided to concentrate on the 2 major chase races of the final day: the Gold Cup and the Foxhunter Chase.  I made Cue Card my main selection of the day as he had (in my opinion) the strongest form this season, and really (in my opinion) he should have been the 9/4 fav for the race.  We all know now that he didn't win but, had he not fallen at the 3rd-last fence, I honestly cannot imagine that he would not have won.  He was going far the best of the front-3 and had taken-up the running. We all saw that Djakadam had nothing left in the tank, which was a result of an interrupted preparation and having not completed a race since 6th December 2015. As for the eventual winner Don Cossack, he had very little to do to win this race once Cue Card was out of it, and I rate his winning performance at 170 (using Don Poli as the base-mark at 155) which is 2lb behind Coneygree in 2015. As I wrote on the day, Cue Card had already run to 170+ six times in this career, and twice this season; and I've no doubt Cue Card would have won by at least 4-lengths had he stood up.
Before I leave the Gold Cup, I must state how disappointed I am at the ratings attributed to the race by the Racing Post (RPR). Don Cossack has been awarded a rating of RPR182 which is clearly bonkers given how the race collapsed with the fall of Cue Card.  The runner-up Djakadam was not the same horse this year as he was last year - and you don't need to be a racing professional to see that.  Yet RPR reckon this run was even better by 3lbs than his defeat (by Don Cossack) at Punchestown last April. Next, Don Poli, a horse who has struggled to top RPR160 but who (apparently) ran a career-best last week when he was never closer to the winner than the 14-lengths he was beaten at the post. Finally, Carlingford Lough who last year was awarded RPR151 when beaten 28-lengths by Coneygree but, this year was awarded RPR164.
This 164 rating is only 1lb below the rating RPR awarded him for winning the Irish "Hennessey" when beating OR158 rated Foxrock.

I'm very happy that my rating of the race is more realistic than that of the Racing Post.
There is no place in horseracing for "ratings inflation", and it should be stamped out.

My final selection of the Festival was Mendip Express in the "Foxhunters" and I was disappointed that the horse was not in the 1st-4 but he just wasn't pushed hard enough by his jockey.

Overall for the week, I ended up £111.38 down.

Over the next week I will be undertaking a complete review of the Festival results to see if we can unearth any value for Aintree, Punchestown and the Cheltenham Festival for 2017.

In the meantime, apologies for the poor performance of the selections last week.

1 comment:

  1. WL,

    Never apologize over hard work and well thought out selections.