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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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Tuesday 12 September 2017

Early ante-post strategy for Jumps season 2017-18

One of the things I really enjoy about the jumps racing season is the familiarity of the racing programme, as that gives the long-term player the ability to take a view, make a judgement and (hopefully) place a winning wager at longer odds than will be available on the day of the event.

The antepost markets have been overlooked in recent seasons, but I think that is more to do with the attitude of today's gamblers than a change in how the sport is being campaigned by owners, trainers and bookmakers. The "modern" person of today wants a quick hit, instant satisfaction. The prospect of placing a wager and then waiting weeks, if not months, for the event is not something that the new breed of gamblers seems to want.  I may be wrong, and I hope I am (please enlighten me if I am). What I want to show through this blog is that there is still the capability to build a portfolio of "antepost" wagers that will result in a good profit. What I also want to (hopefully) demonstrate is that by playing a long-game, the punter can build-up a distinct knowledge of the horses competing in certain races and so place wagers in greater certainty. I've had some success in recent seasons with antepost wagers, most notably Coneygree in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup (I advised taking the 12/1 available on 9th February 2015 - 5 weeks before the race), and with Cue Card in the 2013 Ryanair Chase (I advised taking the 5/1 available on 16th February 2013).  I've also had more than a few losers, but I will be trying to avoid those this season.

Putting together an antepost strategy, the initial priority is avoiding wasted wagers - placing precious stake-money on horses that never start the race has to be avoided.  So, at this stage of the season, the target races are going to be the "championship" Grade 1 races. In terms of the Cheltenham Festival, that is the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the "Stayers" Hurdle. I'm going to ignore the Ryanair Chase until after Christmas when we will have a better idea of which horses are more likely to compete in the Ryanair. Outside of the Cheltenham Festival, I will be considering races like the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day; the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November;  and also handicap races if the opportunity arises.

The Betfair Chase on 25th November is the first of these championship races to be run, and the market is currently headed by Sizing John who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March. Since joining Mrs Harrington, Sizing John has found a new level of consistency but I don't think he's shown yet that he is significantly superior to other staying chasers to warrant being the 2/1 fav for the Betfair Chase at this time. You also have to take into consideration the fact the Mrs Harrington very rarely sends horses to race in the UK outside of the Cheltenham Festival. It's my view that Sizing John won't line-up for the Betfair Chase. Last year's winner Cue Card is now an 11yo, but he has won the Betfair Chase for 3 of the last 4 years, his only defeat in the race being in 2014 when his trainer said he was suffering (at the time) from a back problem.  Kauto Star won the Betfair Chase as an 11yo, and Kauto Star had also won the Betfair Chase three times prior to that win, so the "omens" are there. His stablemate Thistlecrack would appear to have a better chance. He beat Cue Card fair & square in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and, if he were able to repeat his run when just beaten by Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on 28th January, that would be good enough in my opinion. However, his trainer may be aiming him for the King George VI Chase again. The current 2nd-fav at 9/2 in the betting is Might Bite but, for me, the jury is still out on this one's ability. Sure, he is a good chaser but I don't expect his trainer Nicky Henderson will send him straight to Haydock for this race.  I reckon we will see Might Bite run in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby first and, depending on his run in that, we will see if he goes for the Betfair Chase.
Other horses in the betting with odds under 20/1 are Bristol De Mai, Tea For Two and Whisper but, to be fair, none of those look remotely capable of winning a Betfair Chase.  The way Minella Rocco ran in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to be 2nd would really see him amongst the market leaders if the early-season form of his trainer Jonjo O'Neill was stronger but, invariably, Jonjo's top chasers are brought into the season slowly with the focus being on the Cheltenham Festival.
There are two others in the race who are very capable of winning a Betfair Chase, Coneygree and Native River. I am going to look at the latter horse first, and Native River had a tremendous season last year winning both the Hennessey Gold Cup (now re-named the Ladbrokes Gold Cup) and the Welsh National.  He "only" carried 11st 1lb in the Hennessey last year when running off a rating of OR155 and, with a rating of OR166 now, he will almost certainly carry 11st 10lb if he returns to Newbury, and I cannot see that happening. For me, the Betfair Chase over 3-mile at Haydock is tailor-made for the horse. He has everything you want, and he will only be a 7yo (which makes him a year younger than the 2nd-season chaser Might Bite). Current odds of 20/1 look huge to me as, should he line-up for this race (and there's no good reason to say he wont) he will have odds under 6/1 and he may even start the fav.
Coneygree ran in last years Betfair Chase starting at odds of  2/1 when returning from a year off the track through injury. He ran bravely but, ultimately, lack of race fitness told and he threw-in the towel with 2 fences to jump. He then ran a stormer at Punchestown (he missed the Cheltenham Gold Cup) when relishing the good ground. I would not be too worried if the ground is soft at Haydock (it usually is in November) as Coneygree won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on soft ground, but if the ground is heavy then that will not be to his advantage. He has been prepared to run in the Kerry National, so fitness should not be a problem this year. Paddy Power go 10/1 about Coneygree (he's 7/1 elsewhere) but, compared with the 20/1 available about NATIVE RIVER, finding the value in the Betfair Chase market is a no-brainer.

Antepost Advice:
25th November - Betfair Chase - NATIVE RIVER £10 win @ 20/1
(odds available with Skybet, BetVictor and Paddy Power)  

Thursday 7 September 2017

Proposals for the 2017-18 Jumps season

Overall, last season was a difficult one for me as I was unable to find any consistency with my selections.  There were some high points, however (during the course of the season) I made selections in 55 races and (unfortunately) 9 of those selections ran 2nd, with some horses subsequently showing form that indicated they should have won.

Examples being:-
As De Mee selected at 7/1 on 12th November, ran unplaced, and then won next-time-out at 4/1.  
Courtown Oscar selected at 16/1 on 17th December pulled-up, and then won next-time-out at 8/1.
Milan Bound selected at 16/1 on 21st December pulled-up, and then won next-time-out at 12/1 
Otago Trail selected at 10/1 on 21st January ran 2nd, and then won next-time-out at 4/1
Label Des Obeaux selected at 20/1 on 14th March (Cheltenham Festival opening day 3-mile handicap chase) ran unplaced, and then won next-time-out at 12/1.

I had a better handle on the top-staying chase races, nominating via the blog Native River as an eachway Gold Cup wager at 20/1 on the morning before he won the Welsh National, and again at 10/1 after he'd won that race when (in the blog of 30th December) I suggested he should be 9/4 for the Gold Cup. 
Also (in that 30th December blog) I suggested taking 40/1 eachway about Minella Rocco for the Gold Cup.  Minella Rocco and Native River subsequently ran 2nd and 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Via the blog, I only found 6 winners in the season from the 55 races in which I made a selection, and this resulted in a loss of £40.87 to recommended stakes - stakes which totalled £609. 
It is a surprise that the loss was not worse (given the small number of winning selections) but my selections did result in a large number of placed horses, 12 in total (9 x 2nd and 3 x 3rd) at decent odds mitigated the deficit. That return in 18 of the 55 races (1-in-3) is the target I set myself, I just wish a few more of the placed horses could have won in the races in which I wagered on.  Season 2016-17 was the first jumps season in which my selections have shown a loss over the entire season since I started writing my blog in March 2010. One losing season in 7 isn't too shabby a strike-rate, even if I say so myself. 

However, I have found finding the time to write the blog, and conduct the form study to make it all worthwhile, a real struggle in the past 12 months and so I have decided to scale back and reduce the burden.  As such, although I will continue writing the blog it will probably only be once or twice a week during the coming jumps season. 

 My intention is to write a blog that is more commentary and opinion than selection based - although I am hoping the odd betting coup will occur.  There will also be more focus on the Cheltenham Festival races and I will be endeavouring to find a winner there come March 2018 about which I have long antepost odds. In the meantime, I thank you for your support in the past and hope you will continue to read the blog.