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


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Wednesday 23 November 2016

Hennessey on the horizon

No selection yesterday and it is the same today (Wednesday) as midweek racing during the jumps season continues to be a poor assembly of novices and misfits competing on regional tracks.  It is at times like this when I wonder for the future of horseracing, especially jump racing, outside of the Saturday afternoon meetings and major festivals. 

At least we dodged a potential losing wager at Lingfield with my interpretation of the weather (see yesterday's blog) on the ground rightly forecast it would be heavy going. As such, Cloudy Copper stood no realistic chance as he does not act on heavy ground (soft yes, but not heavy).  With that knowledge, and that Minella Online was unlikely to stay the trip (he unseated his rider mid-race but was jumping left at the time, suggesting he was struggling in the ground) and that both Kap Jazz and Delgany Demon were both unlikely to trouble the judge; readers of the blog should have felt confident about the chance of the 9/4 joint-fav - and eventual winner - Royal Vacation, who never looked like being beaten once taking up the running mid-race .  

There is always plenty of information to glean from the narrative to adjust your wagering strategy once you have firm knowledge of the ground and racing conditions. I have to write the blog at least 4 hours before the first race of the day and, between the issue of the advance going at about 6:30am and the completion of the first race, there is precious little further information to go on.

Even Thursdays racing looks uninspiring, despite there being 3 meetings, and we may well have to wait until Friday for our next wagering opportunity.   

Saturday brings us the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury, one of the premier staying handicap chases of the season.  The betting market is currently headed by the very worthy Native River, who will stay every yard of this trip of 3m2f. He had only one poor run last season when racing on heavy ground at Wetherby in February, but it will not be heavy for this, with the advance going being good-to-soft. This horse never stopped improving last season showing what his future may hold when winning the Grade 1 Novice chase at Aintree in April, with RSA winner Blaklion toiling in 3rd. Native River is one of 3 on my shortlist of potential winners of the race. Having wagered on the RSA with my money on Vyta Du Roc, I am surprised to see the 7yo as low as 8/1 for this race, but he does have a low weight of 10st 3lb thanks to his OR143 rating and he will stay the trip but I reckon his rating is about right based on his form of last season.

Finding the winner in a handicap race is about finding the horse that is best-placed to either exploit their rating, or exceed it; but in a race like the Hennessey GC which by its nature is so competitive, you are essentially only looking for a horse that can exceed its rating.  So, for Native River rated OR155, by my own ratings I expect him to be capable of running to 160+, while for Un Temps Pour Tout he needs his ideal conditions to hit 160+ which is unlikely to be at Newbury as he was beaten here last year Native River while in-receipt of 7lbs. That's a 10lb turnaround and 4-lengths he has to find. Similarly, Henri Parry Morgan nor Blaklion are likely to be able to reverse Aintree form with Native River. With Saphir Du Rheu exposed LTO (I think he needs to drop to 2m4f), and last years winner Smad Place unlikely to be able to get the better of his OR166 rating, the fav Native River is looking very strong.

As such, I'm looking outside of the "headline" horses for a potential "value" while trying not to overlook the strong potential of the current 6/1 fav - and there are a couple that I favour. Both Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls come here with a strong hand, and each supply a horse that I reckon could win. Henderson won this race with Triolo D'Alene in 2013 and while the horse has had his problems since, he showed last season there is some spark left in him and he has slipped to a rating of OR150, just 3lb above the rating he won off in 2013. The other is VIRAK, a horse we know well on this blog. I've long thought that Virak would be Paul Nicholls' Hennessey horse and he comes here off a decent effort at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Chase, and I reckon he will come on a bundle for that run. We know he stays 3-mile-plus, and he has the high cruising speed required for a competitive handicap like the Hennessey, and he runs off OR155 which is 4lb below his rating when 2nd in the "Peter Marsh" Chase at Haydock. By my ratings he is about 7lb well-in when compared to his best form of last season - and he is only a 7yo. He runs off the same OR155 rating at Native River but, at his stage, while it is likely that Native River will turn out to be the better horse there may not be much in it on Saturday - and VIRAK is at 33/1 (he's 40/1 with Skybet) while Native River is 6/1.

There are a couple of others in the race that my outrun their odds, one of which is Houblon Des Obeaux who races off OR149 which is 7lb lower than he was on last year and, of course, he was 2nd in this race in 2014 off OR157. However, the only 9yo (or older) horse to win this race in the past 17 years was the mighty Denman, and only 2 of the last 11 winners carried under 11st. This is a race for high-class young horses.

No advice as yet, although Native River and Virak tick a lot of boxes (and Native River could start the 7/2 fav on Saturday) we need to keep an eye on the weather as should the rain turn the ground soft/heavy it will alter the complexion of the race.   

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