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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 29 November 2017

The Ladbrokes Trophy run at Newbury on 2nd December

Another tremendous day on Saturday, and at this time of year we are certainly spoiled with the volume of good jump racing.  The feature race of the day is the inaugural running of the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (which is a renamed Hennessey Gold Cup). Outside of the Grand National, this race is (in my opinion) the most prestigious staying chase handicap of the season. The best horses that win this are capable of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
I’ve had some good luck in this race over the years, and I’ve tipped recent winners Smad Place in 2015 and Native River in 2016. Both were short in the betting market, and generally you should not look further than 10/1 for the winner.  However, this year I am going out on a limb and will be wagering on a horse that’s been at odds longer than 40/1 for most of this week, and that is Missed Approach - a horse that I selected and wagered on for this race on 15th September.
Back then in September I was re-watching the Cheltenham Festival races, looking for clues, and (again) I thought that the 4-mile NH Chase provided some of the best novice chase form seen at the Festival.Having disputed the lead for most of that race, MISSED APPROACH was looking like a potential winner coming to 3-out where he lost the lead there to the eventual winner Tiger Roll.  He then resolutely stayed-on to be 2nd (with A Genie In Abottle well behind in 5th). The following month he confirmed that 4-mile wasn't his trip when he ran next in the Scottish National. As such, I think he will relish a return to the 3m2f of Saturday’s race run at Newbury.
He comes into this race on OR145 and when you consider he slammed Label Des Obeaux over 3-miles at level weights last January - and Label Des Obeaux went on to win a Class 2, 3-mile novice chase handicap on Scottish National day at Ayr and is now rated OR153 - you can see how well MISSED APPROACH is handicapped - he could easily be 10lb well-in on OR145. Interestingly, MISSED APPROACH won a 3-mile hurdle race at Newbury's "Hennessey" meeting back in 2015 and I think this race - the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (handicap) - is tailor-made for the horse. We know he likes Newburygoes well fresh (had a pipe-opener over hurdles recently), stays the trip well, and he's well handicapped: what more can you ask for? Well, he has the very capable Richard Johnson booked for the ride, and that must be worth a few pounds advantage. Trainer Warren Greatrex has aimed the horse at this race and this will be his “Gold Cup”.
What of the opposition? I don’t expect Coneygree to recapture old glories in this race, along with Whisper he’s a bit long in the tooth. If American wins this off OR157 on his seasonal debut then he’s a viable Gold Cup contender, but I don’t think he is, and he possibly needs to find over 7lb of improvement to win. The race fell well for Carole’s Destrier last year (when 2nd) and that may not happen again.  Label Des Obeaux is poorly handicapped according to his own trainer, and I’m not confident that A Genie In Abottle has the stamina for this race.  The Mullins trained Total Recall is far too short in the betting for what he’s done, I’d be looking for 12/1 plus about him.

A couple of horses that you cannot ignore are Cogry and Singlefarmpayment, with the latter now 5lb better-off for the 4-length defeat when they met at Cheltenham. Personally, I reckon that Cogry should maintain the advantage, as Singlefarmpayment seems to want everything to fall right to win. However, Sam Twiston-Davies isn't in the saddle on Cogry, and he was thought to be the reason behind the horse jumping better LTO.  The other horse that I like the look of is Pleasant Man who won the "Badger" LTO and comes here in top form.  Vyta Du Roc was 6th in this race last season off OR143 and is 3lb lower this time, but I just think he needs marathon trips to show his best nowadays.

Overall, I think this years race looks a bit below par, and I am more than happy to take on the market leaders who appear to be there mainly on reputation - be it past or perceived - and not on true merit. The only horse under 10/1 that I can consider betting on is Singlefarmpayment, but he just does not give me the right feeling.  I'm already on MISSED APPROACH at 66/1 antepost, and the preparation has gone just as I expected - in fact, it's better as I never expected Richard Johnson to be in the saddle.  Fingers crossed it will be a winning combination.

Friday 24 November 2017

Betfair Chase at Haydock

This is a big day for jump racing and we were reminded this week of 2011 when Kauto Star came back from what some considered "oblivion" to win the Betfair Chase at the age of 11yo.
Can Cue Card repeat that feat? Well, I think he has a better chance of winning that Bristol De Mai, mainly because of the trip being and almost 3m2f. On both occasions that Bristol De Mai has race beyond 3-mile his stamina has failed him. However, as much as I love Cue Card, I think there is a horse in the race that can beat him in this race and that's TEA FOR TWO.

We have an early start to racing and so I'm writing this on Friday evening. Any updates will be posted or advised via twitter on @wayward_lad.

Tea For Two loves 3-mile plus and a stamina test. He was doing his best work in the final quarter-mile of the "King George" last December, and he beat Cue Card over 3m1f at Aintree last April. He had a warm-up race behind Smad Place over an inadequate trip last month at Aintree and, for me, he represents the best value by far in the race, being generally available at 10/1. He is certainly better than Outlander at this trip by about 7lb on my reckoning, and he has plenty of good form on soft/heavy ground. In my opinion TEA FOR TWO should be the same odds or shorter than Outlander, and Outlander is 5/1 - in fact I'd have Bristol De Mai, Cue Card and Tea For Two at joint-fav's.

Earlier on the Haydock card, we could well see one of the easier winners of the day when COURTOWN OSCAR goes for the 3m4f handicap chase at 12:40pm.  Back in Feb2016, Courtown Oscar beat subsequent Grand National winner One For Arthur at Carlisle over 3-mile on heavy ground. Yes, he was in-receipt of 16lb that day but he won easily and his current rating of OR130 could underestimate his ability.  We've not seen any decent form from Emperor's Choice for 2-years, and Russe Blanc has also had his day in the sun. The heavy ground is against Hainan, and the same can be said for Belmount. However, Dawson City who is a horse we have followed on the blog for the past 12 months will relish the heavy ground and the trip, and he could be the one to chase home Courtown Oscar.  I will likely be placing a reverse forecast on this pair.

The day's racing is top class, and I haven't even looked at Ascot's card yet. The Graduation Chase at 1:15pm looks a cracker, and I think CLAN DES OBEAUX can defy the weight he gives away to Born Survivor and Big River and win this race again for Paul Nicholls. It is not a race to place a wager on though, and this is just a race for watching.

At Ascot, the feature race there is the Christy 1965 Chase over 2m5f run at 2:05pm and on my own ratings I have Top Notch about 3lb ahead of Smad Place and with the benefit of a 3lb pull in the weights, TOP NOTCH looks the value at 3/1 (William Hill and Betfred). I'm sure Smad Place will give his all and he usually finds over 5lb of improvement for his seasonal debut, but he may find that his younger rival has also improved since last season and he has also had a spin over hurdles. 

Also on the Ascot card is the Shawbrook Handicap, a Class 2 chase over an extended 2-miles. This was won last year by ex-Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy and he returns again but I feel this year he is not going to be up to it. The Paul Nicholls trained San Benedeto should not be far away, but I feel he is a better horse over further. Were Vaniteux in better form I would nominate him as a selection, as I feel he is a 160+ chaser at his best but he rarely shows that form.  Long term readers of this column will know that I have affection for Upsilon Bleu who, if he were trained south of Birmingham rather than north of Manchester, would be rated a tad higher than OR142. Unfortunately, he was well beaten off OR143 last year in this race. However, in 2nd last year was QUITE BY CHANCE and he looks a better horse this year, comes into the race in top form as looks value at 9/2.

What a cracking day of racing, let's hope it all goes well and we have some great memories.
To recap, my advised wagers for Saturday are:-
Haydock 12:40pm COURTOWN OSCAR @ 9/4 with a reverse forecast including Dawson City
Haydock 3:00pm TEA FOR TWO @ 12/1 (Paddy Power, 10/1 elsewhere)
Ascot 2:05pm TOP NOTCH @ 3/1 (Betfred, 11/4 elsewhere)
Ascot 3:15pm QUITE BY CHANCE @ 9/2 available generally

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Blog writing can be hard work

Believe it or not, but I stared writing this blog on Saturday morning!
I wasn't able to post it on the day due to a family commitment at lunchtime and by the time I got back to it, the day's racing was gone.  I did post my selection for the BetVictor Gold Cup on twitter (Starchitect who ran 2nd beaten only a neck) but I'm not sure how many saw it. for the time-being, I will be posting any selections I make on twitter; the reason being is that it is near impossible for me to put in the form study that I used to do (now I don't know how I did it before).
That, and I also have "issues" with my wrist which is made worse by using the laptop to search the formlines.  Typing isn't so bad, as that is more use of my fingers, but using the "mouse" requires thumb use and that is painful these days.  It has been creeping up on me for a couple of years, but now it is almost intolerable.  To try and alleviate the situation, I've even removed most of my social media apps from my phone.

I also started a new job last week, working from an office in Canary Wharf just a stones throw from the Racing Post offices, and now that retirement is probably less than 10 years away I'm having to concentrate more and more on paid work rather than blogging. The Pension Pot has to be filled.

As I have written before, I'm finding value is getting harder for the average punter to find, and you certainly won't find it in the big handicaps unless you are fortunate. Recently, I've been concentrating on smaller races which are more specialist, such as 3-mile handicap hurdles.  What I'm finding is that the formlines for the jump racing is more than reliable enough to make a decent profit, in fact it has reinforced my belief that jump racing is a better gambling medium than flat racing. I'm sure flat racing fans will disagree. However, the compromise that I've had to make to take advantage is that more and more I'm having to break the "no less than 9/4" rule for my wagers.  For instance, on Sunday, Fox Norton was sent off the 4/5 fav for the Shloer chase despite having about 10lb in-hand over his 4 rivals. I did point out he looked tremendous value the day before the race (on twitter) and I duly took advantage. The only way I could see him not winning was if he didn't finish the race and, as he's never fallen before, that was unlikely. I thought he should have been 1/3 maybe even 1/4 - he certainly won in that manner.

We've a good weekend of jump racing coming up, and I will be making some notes on Thursday with the intention of posting a blog on Saturday morning.   

Friday 10 November 2017

Badger Ales Handicap Chase at Wincanton

Updated @ 0930 Saturday morning due to ground at Wincanton

A big Saturday of jump racing with meetings at Aintree, Wincanton and Kelso.
The Aintree meeting has some decent horses turning out, and what I've noticed in recent weeks is how much trainers are using 3-mile hurdle races to bring their handicap chasers to peak fitness without affecting their chase rating. The 3-mile handicap hurdle at 1:40pm has Vyta Du Roc, Earthmoves, and Bon Chic amongst the 10-runners and they all spent last season chasing. I expect Vyta Du Roc is under preparation for a run in the Ladbroke Gold Cup at Newbury on 2nd December, as he ran in a hurdle race at this meeting last season before going to Newbury .
This particular 3-mile hurdle race looks a bit weak and I am prepared to oppose the 5yo fav Louis' Vac Pouch as he's not yet raced over 3-miles. Winnintry was well beaten behind Beer Goggles LTO and although 10lb better-off for that race he does not look good enough. Beer Goggles has gone up 30lb in the handicap to OR152 since winning at Ayr in April and he was beaten over C&D in May off OR135. Forza Milan hasn't proven he has the stamina for this trip, and he was beaten LTO over 2m7f by HOLLY BUSH HENRY and it is this horse who looks the value. HOLLY BUSH HENRY won again at Plumpton off OR129, and I thought he was unlucky LTO at Cheltenham and I think he's worth another chance at Class 2 level.

The feature race at Wincanton is the Badger Handicap Chase over 3m1f being run at 3:35pm.  This race looks wide-open with the current fav being the Paul Nicholls trained Present Man at 15/2 and he does not look good enough to me.  Nicholls sends 3 horses for the race including Mr Mix and Southfield Theatre. Last year, Southfield Theatre looked poised to win when falling at the final fence. In his only other run after that, he did not show the same zip and so comes here off a 337-day break with fitness to prove.  However, I do like MR MIX who has improved with each of his 4 runs as a chaser and looks a major player based on his LTO win on 29Oct here at Wincanton over 3m2f.  Based on his hurdles form he looks weighted to beat  the current 2nd fav Yala Enki, a horse who likes to dominate and when he does he's up to his rating of OR151. He may not get the free-reign he needs to win though and his trainer Venetia Williams also has Vic De Touzaine and he looks ahead of the handicapper on OR139, as the horse he beat LTO - Boric - then ran a cracker to be 2nd in the Durham National. The worry with Vic De Touzaine is the ground and it may be too quick for him unless it turns soft.
I think Southfield Royale has the potential to be at 150+ chaser but his two runs last season were well below that level and he needs to show he is a player again.
Fletchers Flyer is also ahead of the handicapper on OR143 but he only ran twice last season and the 9yo will almost certainly need this run - he probably has one good handicap win in him. 
I cannot see Double Shuffle winning off OR151, or Theatre Guide winning off OR154. 

At the odds I like MR MIX at 10/1 (available generally on Friday evening), and I can see there being a bit of a gamble on the horse in the morning and it would not surprise me to see him start the 5/1 fav. Younger horses have a good record in the race with 5 of the last 10 winners being 6yo or 7yo, and the longest odds winner in the past 10 years was Court By Surprise at 16/1 in 2014. 

The ground at Wincanton is now officially soft and that puts VIC DE TOUZAINE firmly in the picture. As such, I have split my stake between the pair of MR MIX and VIC DE TOUZAINE. 

Sunday 5 November 2017

Antepost wager on Bristol De Mai landed - 10/1 winner

On Wednesday, I wrote that there was scope for an upset in Saturday's Charlie Hall Chase and if BRISTOL DE MAI was in the form of his win in the Peter Marsh Chase last January then he would take all the beating; the odds then were 10/1. Well, he didn't have to be in that form and he won anyway with (what looked to me) plenty in the tank when holding-off his stablemate Blaklion. The SP was 6/1.

I've changed tack for this jumps season with an intention to focus on better quality races and target antepost value, and the first race I aimed for (that has been run) has been a hit. I hope readers took the advice on Wednesday, or if not then at least the early morning odds yesterday.

Another antepost advice that I made in September regarding NATIVE RIVER for the Betfair Chase (to be run at Haydock) will almost certainly not come off. After the Charlie Hall Chase, which included another the fall by Cue Card (blamed on low sun by jockey Paddy Brennan) I speculated that perhaps Native River would become the main Tizzard stable hope for the Betfair Chase. However, it was pointed out to me that the Tizzard's are aiming Native River at just one race prior to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that is likely to be the "Denman" Chase run at Newbury in February. Even so, it would appear to me that the old horse Cue Card isn't quite the same and maybe it's time we accepted age is catching up with him.

Is Bristol De Mai a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner? Possibly, although he didn't stay the trip when running in the race last March, but he has certainly improved and for the time being he looks the best there is at 3-mile.  Certainly, Sizing John will need to be at his best to beat him should they meet at Haydock on  25th November.

The 3-mile Sodexo Chase was torn apart by the winner Go Conquer who appears to be miles ahead of the handicapper at the moment. I did not consider him for this race as I thought his best trip was at about 2m5f, and I had not given enough credence to his run in the 3m1f Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March in which he ran 5th, but he did lead until just before the final fence - a top class effort in the most competitive handicap chase of the season. I reckon Go Conquer ran to 155 yesterday - a phenomenal performance.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Clash of the Titans

Today is a bit like the days of Ali vs Frazier, as Cue Card and Coneygree line-up to do battle again - as they did 12-months ago - but then it was in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, and today it is in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby over 3-mile.  Last year at Haydock, it was Cue Card who reigned supreme but then he had already run in this race and, although he had been beaten, he did have the benefit of a run. This time I can see Coneygree gaining revenge over Cue Card, not least because he has age on his side (Coneygree is a 10yo whereas Cue Card is 11yo) but also he ran a great race at Punchestown last April and I'm sure that connections now will no longer be saving something back for next the Gold Cup next March if, due to circumstances out of their control, Coneygree does not make it to Cheltenham.

However, I am confident that in taking the antepost 11/1 on Bristol De Mai, I have done the right thing.  Bristol De Mai is a 6yo, 4 years younger than Coneygree and he has shown, when winning the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase over 3-mile at Haydock in January, that he is capable of a performance worthy of winning this race.

Before we watch the Charlie Hall Chase, I will taking an interest on the 3-mile Grade 2 hurdle race as the horse that I think may win the new Ladbroke Gold Cup (used to be the Hennessey Gold Cup) has a pipe-opener - it is MISSED APPROACH.  
I've been watching the Cheltenham Festival races again looking for clues and I think (again) that the 4-mile NH Chase has thrown-up some of the best novice chase form seen at the Festival.  Having disputed the lead for most of the race, Missed Approach was looking like a potential winner coming down the hill for the 3rd-last fence but he lost the lead to the eventual winner Tiger Roll. He appeared to like the uphill finish at Cheltenham and he did resolutely hung on to be 2nd - however, he confirmed that 4-mile wasn't his trip when he ran next in the Scottish National at Ayr. I think he will relish a return to an extended 3-mile on a flatter track.
He starts the season on OR145 and when you consider he slammed Label Des Obeaux over 3-miles at level weights in January - and Label Des Obeaux went on to win the Class 2, 3-mile novice chase handicap on Scottish National day at Ayr and is now rated OR154 - you can see how well MISSED APPROACH is handicapped - he could be 10lb well-in on OR145.  I think the old "Hennessey" is tailor-made for this horse. He's 33/1 at the moment and we know he:-
- likes Newbury; stays the trip well; he's well handicapped. 
What more can you ask for? I think off OR145 he has a great chance and with Richard Johnson booked for today, it would seem this is his intended mount come December.

I have taken a look at the 3-mile Sodexo Chase at Ascot run at 3:35pm as I have a good record with it. I doubt the early fav Thomas Brown will enjoy this trip, and Braqueur D'Or has been raised 10lb for that win LTO. Emerging Force is a lightly raced horse who could do well today and he looks well-handicapped. This trip isn't got Go Conquer and even if Anthony repeated last years effort, he would do well to win - the race fell perfectly for him last season. Dark Flame is another for whom 3-mile is an unknown. One who will need every yard but should go well is Fourth Act, he ran 4th last year off OR137 and races today off OR129, he should be in the frame. There is no reason that Junction Fourteen should not go well as he is 6lb lower in the handicap than when 2nd in this race last season.  However, I do like Bigbadjohn and I think he's a sleeping giant - yes he makes the odd blunder and it cost him LTO but he could rip this race apart if he gets his act together.  Junction Fourteen should make the frame again, as should Fourth Act. The one with the best chance on form to me is EMERGING FORCE as he stays the trip, races prominently, jumps well and has tonnes of potential and he is my main wager, with a small eachway on Bigbadjohn.

Friday 3 November 2017

Will Sametegal be up for it today off a 608-day break?

It was not to be yesterday for Cribbs Causeway, despite a valiant effort to make a race of it from the front having had the disadvantage of being drawn 12 of the 13 starters (officially drawn 13, but there was a non-runner).  The race went pretty much as I expected and it was a good "Listed" race considering the runner-up Melodic Motion had been beaten just half-a-length in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September.  In the paddock beforehand, I was very taken with the filly Daphne who went on to win the race and, having read the post-race comments of the trainers wife (who was in attendance), the stable had worked hard to ensure she was up for this race as it was probably the last opportunity for this 4yo filly to obtain so "black-type". There was certainly a gamble on the horse which was 7/1 in the morning and started at 7/2 - and I don't think it was due to her owner The Queen! That could be it for the season for Cribbs Causeway, but she will return in 2018, and maybe we could see a step-up in trip as I don't think it was a lack of stamina that beat her yesterday.

I also had an eye on the jump racing at Sedgefield yesterday, in particular the Durham National Handicap Chase over 3m5f, and the short 6/4 fav in that race Audacious Plan may well have won but he only just held-on to win by a neck from the strong finish of Boric.  The runner-up was last seen being caught on the line by Vic De Touzaine on 19-Oct,  and that makes Vic De Touzaine very interesting for the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot tomorrow (Saturday).

We have a couple of good meetings over the jumps today at Wetherby and Uttoxeter.
At Wetherby we have the "Listed" Bet365 Chase over an extended 2m3f, and it is an intriguing contest of 7 runners. When I went through the form the horse that grabbed my attention was the 9/4 fav Sametegal, but he has been absent from racing for 608 days and while I expect him to be fit for this race there is always a doubt with horses returning from a long lay-off. However, he has done this before and won and while this is a tougher race than that one, he does have a decent rating of OR144 to race off.  The one that I think will outrun his rating in this race is MARQUIS OF CARABAS who had a run 35-days ago and while he was outclassed by the winner of that race (who has since won again) his rating of OR129 looks lenient. I think Royal Vacation is not as good as his OR152 rating, and I will be surprised if Guitar Pete can find any more improvement as he was race-fit LTO. I am not sure that Marquis Of Carabas can win this afternoon, but he could be worth including in a speculative forecast with the race-fav Sametegal. I can't make Sametegal a selection as I do not think his odds of 9/4 are value, and I would be looking for something longer than 3/1 before having a wager.

There is a lot of good racing tomorrow and, when you have the prospect of good wagering opporunities, it can pay to be patient and play another day. 

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Exciting weekend of jump racing coming-up

Jump racing steps-up a gear this weekend with the top-class meetings at Ascot, Ayr and Wetherby on Saturday.  Regular readers of the blog will remember this weekend from 2015 when I tipped Wakanda at 8/1 on the Friday, Pendra at 8/1 on the Saturday and then Vintage Star at 10/1 on the Sunday - heady days!
Before then, we have a good meeting at Sedgefield on Thursday which includes the Durham National over 3m5f. However, on Thursday, I will be at Lingfield watching the filly Cribbs Causeway - in which I have a share in the owners syndicate - endeavouring to obtain some "black-type". While she is unlikely to be the fav for the race, the 3yo filly Melodic Motion should be the fav, I'm hopeful of a very good effort from Cribbs Causeway but she will have to do it the hard way having been drawn 13 of the 14 runners. There are quite a few hold-up horses in the race, so I'm hoping she gets an easy lead and then kicks-off from the front with about half-a-mile to run.
The Wetherby meeting on Friday is a good one too, with an interesting 3-mile novice chase but also the "Listed" Class 1 Bet365 handicap chase over and extended 2m3f.
However, on Saturday, all eyes will be on Wetherby for the "Charlie Hall" Chase over 3-mile as it brings the best of the staying chases together for the first time this season. Old-stagers Cue Card and Coneygree take centre-stage, but they may find things not going their way.  Certainly, should Coneygree run as well as he did LTO at Punchestown then he will be in the mix. I think connections now realise that they have to take every race as it comes with Coneygree, there is no point in holding some back for later as he is prone to injury and they may not get another chance. I know Cue Card has won this race before 1st-time-out, but he usually needs a run. The 6yo Bristol De Mai is a bit unpredictable, certainly on his best days he could go close, but those best days are hard to predict.  I do not think Blaklion is anywhere near good enough, as was shown when 3rd over C&D on Boxing Day last December. The winner that day was Definitly Red, who went on to win at Doncaster but, in between, he was beaten by Bristol De Mai when they met in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock and if Bristol De Mai is in thatb sort of form on Saturday then he will take all the beating.    The 9yo More Of That is a horse with unfulfilled potential as a chaser, but this 2014 "Stayers Hurdle" winner over 3-mile at the Cheltenham Festival certainly has the class.
I think given the ages of the front pair in the betting, I think there is scope for an upset and at the odds I am interested in the chance of BRISTOL DE MAI at 10/1 generally (Paddy Power have him at just 7/1). There will be plenty of pace on in the race and that will suit Bristol De Mai, and we know the horse stays this 3-mile trip well