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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 26 December 2018

The 2018 Welsh National at Chepstow

I'm only looking at the one race today, and what a race - the Coral Welsh Grand National (handicap) Chase over 3m5f & 110 yards) at Chepstow.
There are 20 horses going to post, and they are headed by Ballyoptic (rated OR155) with 11st 12lb.  This race has a great history  and there are plenty of trends to help you find the winner. Last year the race was postponed and rescheduled for January, and the finish was dominated by two 13yo's.  This was an anomaly, and the race is nearly always won by a horse aged no older than 8yo.
Another excellent trend is weight, those horses capable of winning with more than 11st are usually capable of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Native River won with 11st 12lb in December 2016 and then won a Gold Cup in March 2018; Synchronised won with 11st 6lb in December 2011 and then won the Gold Cup in March 2012.  In 1994, Master Oats won with 11st 6lb and then won the Gold Cup in March 1995. Ask yourself if those horses with more than 11st are capable of winning - or even competing in - a Cheltenham Gold Cup?
I think that Ballyoptic (11:12); Yala Enki (11:11); Vyta Du Roc (11:4); Vintage Clouds (11:3); and Folsom Blue (11yo) can be discounted on age and weight.  Baie De Iles wasn't good enough last year and is unlikely to do better this year..
The David Pipe pair of Vieux Lion Rouge and Ramses De Teillee are both worth a 2nd-glance. Vieux Lion Rouge will stay every yard and handle the ground, and the course should suit him even though he's not won at Chepstow, and 11st 3lb should give him a chance.
Ramses De Teillee loves Chepstow and testing ground and he should stay this trip, and I'd expect him to be there at the finish. However, he was well beaten by Elegant Escape at Exeter last February and I think Elegant Escape is poorly handicapped; which suggests Remses De Teillee is also.
Raz De Maree at 13yo is too old; as is the 11yo Regal Flow.  Ron's Dream is too exposed, this will be his 25th chase race.
Looksnowtlikebrian is on the upgrade and the trip should prove no problem.  Although he's won on soft/heavy ground his bed form is on good-to-soft; but he is a very good candidate.
FINAL NUDGE managed to come 3rd in this race last year carrying 11st 6lb, this year he has just 10st 9lb and his form looks no worse coming into this race, and so he must hold an outstanding chance. He's 13lb better off with Vintage Clouds who he beat in this race last year.
Kansas City Chief, Dawson City and Mysteree all look out of form; Holly Bush Henry does not seem to be capable of running a big race (he's a bit of a plodder), and Jenny's Surprise is also a bit one-paced at extreme trips.
For me, the most likely winner is FINAL NUDGE and odds of 16/1 quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4,5 look generous in what looks to be a weak race for the grade.

My Boxing Day Yankee made a good start when the first runner Willie Boy won very easily at 11/4, but the next couple Crosspark and Just Georgie were disappointing. I thought I had a double coming when the odds-on fav Kaputana fell, but Little Miss Poet was unable to capitalise on the opportunity.

The King George VI Chase went to CLAN DE OBEAUX who ran about 10lb better than he did at Haydock when 4th in the Betfair Chase behind Bristol De Mai.  My opinion is this was the best staying performance we've seen this season, and I know the race lost both Bristol De Mai and Waiting Patiently, but I doubt either of those would have won this.  The good yardstick Thistlecrack gives confidence to the form, and I'd expect Native River to improve going left-handed as he looked very unsuited by Kempton. 
I've just taken the 12/1 offered by Bet Victor for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as I reckon Clan Des Obeaux should be joint fav with Native River at 4/1 for this, and Presenting Percy - who is yet to run this season and confirm his ability - should be no shorter than 7/1. 

The Boxing Day Yankee 2018

Merry Christmas to all readers of the blog.
Remember, life is for living - so please don't sit on the fence!  You only get one life, so you may as well enjoy it.  You don't have to be rich, or cool, or a genius to enjoy life, just appreciate that you are alive and living on this beautiful planet, and be good to one another.

Boxing Day is a very exciting day for horseracing fans as it is one of the busiest days in the calendar; and today we have 7 jumps meetings in this country at Kempton, Wetherby, Sedgefield, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Fontwell and Wincanton; plus 3 more jump meetings in Ireland at Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal and don't forget the all-weather meeting on the flat at Wolverhampton.

Regular readers will know that for the feature race of the day, the King George VI Chase at Kempton at 3:05pm my money is on POLITOLOGUE and has been now since he horse won at Ascot on 24th November.  I advised readers that weekend (after he'd won) to take the 10/1 available for this race and I have £25 on at those odds. He is now the 5/1 joint 2nd-fav for the race and I think were it not for the fans of Might Bite hoping their horse can recover its best form of last season, then Politologue would be the 7/2 fav today.

However, I am looking to find 4 other horses racing today to make-up a Boxing Day Yankee from the other 47 races being run in the UK. I'm not looking for huge prices, if I can find 4 winners at around 3/1 then I will be a very happy man.

The 1:35pm at Wetherby, a 2m3f  Class 3 handicap chase looks a suitable race, and WILLIE BOY could be the answer in this as he looks a lot better than his OR136 rating. Last years winner Caraline has been aimed at this race, but his seasonal debut was poor (PU) and he's 22lb worse-off with last years runner-up Special Catch. This looks a big ask for Oak Vintage on his debut for trainer Philip Kirby and Vendor didn't stay this sort of trip as a hurdler and is in unknown territory as a chaser.

The next race on the Wetherby card at 2:10pm is also a suitable race. The Rowland Mayrick handicap chase is a Class 1 race over 3-miles and only 8 runners are entered. The runner-up for this in 2017 and 2016 was Wakanda and he tries to make it 3rd-time-lucky. Personally, he will need to be at his best to do so off OR147. The 2nd-fav is Lake View Lad, and this horse looks harshly treated up 8lb to OR147 for his win LTO when you look at the form of the beaten horses that day.  Behind him was Captain Chaos and although he's 5lb better-off his OR133 rating does not look lenient to me. CROSSPARK is an interesting contender: he's run well over C&D (06Jan17) off OR132 and after slipping to OR124 he won a 3m2f chase on 17Nov.  He followed that up with a win in a 3-mile hurdle, so he has speed and stamina, a heady combination - he could be the answer as he's Caroline Bailey's only runner here. Connections of Takingrisks will be hoping for heavy ground but, if that were the case, I would prefer to be on his stablemate Baywing - this pair are the only horses trainer Nicky Richards is running on Boxing Day.  However, Baywing was beaten in this race last year off OR144 and he runs off OR149 this year. I cannot see Crievehill having the stamina for this and he's entered at Chepstow on 27th for a race over 2m3f. Finally, Allysson Monterg won a weak Class 3 chase at Perth in April and now races of OR142, which looks a bit steep especially as he's not looked like staying 3-mile in his other 4 attempts at the trip.
The only suitable race at Sedgefield is the Class 4 handicap chase over 2m3f at 2:40pm but I'd prefer to stick to Class 3 races and better. At Huntingdon, there is a similar race for novices at 2:15pm but I will only use this race if I can't find another.
Market Rasen holds the Lincolnshire National Chase at 2:20pm, this is a Class 3 handicap run over almost 3m4f.  The going there is soft, so it could well be a slog.  Beau Sancy has been winning lower quality races and I think he will struggle at this level. It is probably a big ask for Late Romantic, he plenty of PTP form but he's relatively inexperienced at this level.  Mortens Leam has been hammered by the handicapper for his recent win (up 14lb).  Zerachiel is interesting as he is a dour stayer and possibly better than his OR123 rating. He was unlucky to unseat his rider at the 1st fence on his seasonal debut LTO, but that may be to his advantage. However the likely winner could be JUST GEORGIE as the 2m4f trip was too short for him LTO but that will make him fit for this. He won over 3-mile on heavy last Feb and the horse he beat that day is now rated 11lb higher while Just Georgie is only 5lb higher.
For my final selection I'm looking at the Mares Chase over 2m3f at Wincanton at 3:10pm. There are only 5 runners and the odds-on fav is the Henderson-trained mare Kupatana but she was nowhere as near as good as LITLE MISS POET over hurdles and though this is my selections chase debut, the booking of Michael Nolan suggests Phil Hobbs has found a weak race to get his mare into the winners enclosure. Michael Nolan has an excellent strike-rate for Hobbs and Little Miss Poet looks to be his only realistic chance of a winning ride today.

So there you go, my Boxing Day Yankee.
Wetherby 1:35pm WILLIE BOY @ 9/4
Wetherby 2:10pm CROSSPARK @ 13/2
Market Rasen 2:20pm JUST GEORGIE @ 11/2
Wincanton 3:10pm LITTLE MISS POET @ 5/2
Those odds are with Totesport
Let's make is £1.00 eachway Yankee = £22
plus a £1 win Yankee @ £11
Total = £33 staked

Friday 21 December 2018

Friday 21st December

Not much to look at today, so I'm skipping straight to the racing on Saturday at Ascot and Haydock.
I reckon at Ascot, Nicky Henderson could well take both of the top races with a repeat win for GOLD PRESENT in the Garrard Silver Cup, and following that up with CALL ME LORD in the "Long Walk" 3-mile hurdle.  Both horses are likely to start the fav for their races.

For a bit more value, I'm taking a longer look at the "Tommy Whittle" handicap chase run over 2m7f at Haydock.   This race was lost to bad weather in 2009 & 2010, and it is interesting that in the other 8 years, no horse aged 9yo or older has won, in fact no horse older than 8yo has won the race since it became a handicap in 2005. As such, I'm happy to overlook the older horses Valadom (9yo); Tenor Nivernais (11yo); Houblon Des Obeaux (11yo), Splash Of Ginge (10yo) and Rocklander(9yo).
There are a couple of LTO winners in the race: Kimberlite Candy and Deauville Dancer. I wasn't impressed by the win of Kimberlite Candy and yet he's been raised 5lb to OR138; so he's going to have to show a lot more to win this race in my opinion. Last month Deauville Dancer won over 2m4f at Kempton, and he's yet to race beyond 2m5f; add that his best form has been on good ground and it's difficult to see him lasting this trip out.
Duel At Dawn will be running his seasonal debut, his last run being when PU in the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However, he does seem to run well off a break, and he was 2nd to both Ms Parfois and Sizing Tennessee last season in novice chases and those runs suggest his OR140 rating is one he can win this race off if he's race-fit. This 2m7f trip looks a bit short for Sharp Response, and it might be a bit too far for Whoshotwho; however, the OR134 rating for the latter looks very workable.  He has plenty of good form at trips just 300 yards shorter than he will face in this race, and he could be very interesting.
Daklondike was running very well this time last year but, after pulling-up on his last two runs, he's on a recovery mission. Another similar sort is Testify who ran like he needed the run when beaten a long way at Newcastle (finished well behind Sharp Response that day too), and he's not one I can see winning this. Connections have always thought trips beyond 2m4f were too far for Clan Legend, and he is a mud-lover who may not cope with a strong pace early in the race. And Ballyarthur is another horse who is out of form and would not be guaranteed to stay this sort of trip even if he was.
This leaves a shortlist of just 2: DUEL AT DAWN and WHOSHOTWHO. Alex Hales who trains Duel At Dawn has only sent 3 horses to Haydock in the past 5 seasons; Dr Richard Newland who trains Whoshotwho hasn't sent many more (just 14) but of his chasers he's won once and had a couple of 2nd's from 6 runners and this is his only runner on Saturday. He's booked Tom O'Brien who ridden for him 12 times winning 5 (plus a couple of 2nd's) and that's a terrific strikerate; and when you restrict that to chase races it's 4 wins from 9 rides (plus a couple of 2nd's).  For me, that's the decider.
Haydock 2:40pm (Saturday) WHOSHOTWHO: £5 eachway @ 10/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)

Keep a lookout for my assessment of the Welsh National.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday 20 December 2018

Time to prepare for the Festive Season

It's that time of year again, when thoughts turn from the past in search of glories in the future, and we start preparations for the Festive Season - not Christmas but the Cheltenham Festival!
I say this every year, and there is no harm in repeating it, in the 51-days between Christmas Day and Valentines Day (14th February), 95% of all the winners at Cheltenham in mid-March will run their final preparatory race, and 55% of those winners will win that race.
If at no other time of year you buy it, starting on Wednesday 2nd January 2019 you should buy the Racing Post Weekender every week for the results pull-out and start preparing for the best 4-days of sport this country has to offer. !
Before Christmas, we have some great racing at Ascot tomorrow and Saturday, Uttoxeter tomorrow, together with Haydock and Newcastle on Saturday.  There is no racing on Sunday or Monday, and we can take time to study the form for the Welsh National to be run at Chepstow on Thursday 27th December.

For Friday's meeting at Ascot, pay attention to the form of the opening maiden hurdle race run over 2m5f as this has been won by some decent horses in recent years, and I will be interested in how the Nicky Henderson trained pair of Gallahers Cross and Igor run. The remainder of the Ascot card does not look like offering any value wagers, and the racing at Uttoxeter is not up to much.

Onto Saturday, and what is interesting is the Nicky Henderson - fresh from successfully returning BRAIN POWER to hurdling  - has left TOP NOTCH (his OR162 chaser) in the "Long Walk Hurdle" run over 3-miles.  Although this will be much further than he's raced as a hurdler before, he's shown that this trip is within his scope as a chaser and he would look an interesting candidate if it weren't for his stablemate CALL ME LORD. He looked every inch a top-class staying hurdler when winning at Sandown on the final day of the jumps season in April, with Lil Rockerfella and Wholestone toiling in his wake. Sam Spinner who won this race last year, will have to return to that form if he's to succeed again, and Agrapart will be hoping for the ground to turn heavy to give him a chance. 
The feature race at Ascot on Saturday, the Garrard Silver Cup, looks being a cracker.  Last years winner GOLD PRESENT looks well-up to repeating that win based on his effort LTO over 2m5f  here at Ascot behind the top-class pair of Politologue and Charbel. The only horse I can see giving him a race is the 6yo Thomas Patrick who started the joint-fav for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, but too much use of him was made early-on in that race and he was a spent force a mile out.  Another possible interesting entry is Minella Daddy as he's won over C&D before, and wasn't beaten far into 2nd in this race as a 6yo off  OR142 in 2016.    He's not been very consistent since then and runs off OR136 on Saturday, but given his form on this track, and other right-handed courses, he could be worth an each-way wager.
Haydock stages the "Tommy Whittle" Chase over 2m7f, and this handicap chase is a favourite of mine, in fact I really enjoy these 3-mile handicap chases at Haydock as a betting medium. My early thoughts are that this race looks wide open, and I'm going to spend a bit of time tomorrow looking for the winner which I expect to be outside the current front-3 in the betting.   
The other race that I'm going to look at in some depth tomorrow is the Welsh National run at Chepstow next Thursday, as I've had some great wagers in this race over the years.
of sport 

Monday 17 December 2018

Top handicap chases a rich hunting ground for top-weights?

Days like Saturday are what writing this blog is all about. 
Yes, it was a day of freezing rain and a blisteringly cold wind - but the horses and their riders competed as if it were a Spring day in the sunshine, and full credit goes to the stables and connections for ensuring armchair fans like me had a terrific day of sport on the tv.
After watching the blog selection Singlefarmpayment miss-out on a win on Friday, I thought we were going to get ample compensation on Saturday afternoon when I watched blog selection CEPAGE sit on the tails of the leading pair Frodon and Baron Alco, biding his time and waiting for a crack to appear.  The first to crumble was Baron Alco, who was under a hard drive from his rider to maintain his position from 4-out and dropped away after jumping the 3rd-last. At the top of the hill, Mr Medic appeared to be about to make a strong challenge but he then hit the 4th-last fence hard.  His jockey recovered well and the horse moved into 3rd at the 15th fence (3-out) and so I'm more inclined to think it was the softening ground rather than the mistake 4-out that did for his chances.    
As the leaders turned-in for home, top-weight Frodon was jumping well and responding to the urges of his rider, Bryony Frost (and what a cracking good rider of a horse she is).  As the leading pair approached the 2nd-last fence I briefly thought my selection CEPAGE was going to stay-on and win, but he dragged his hind legs through the top of that fence and lost a bit of impetus, and that was enough to cost him the race. The way he stayed-on up the hill from the final fence on the run-in, suggested it was possible that without the jumping error he'd have finished closer to the winner, but would he have won - that's debatable.
For this race, I gave readers 3 horses that I thought would be contesting the finish, and 2 of them (Frodon & Cepage) finished 1st & 2nd (remember, I gave the 1st-2 for the Bet Victor Gold Cup in November: Baron Alco & Frodon).  If readers had put those 3 horses into a combination Exacta (6 bets to find the 1st-2 in correct order) 6 x £1 exactas would have returned £127.50.

I write this blog for a number of reasons: to boost my ego (I make no apologies for this); to focus my own betting; but also to educate the reader.  I do not profess to be a master at my subject, but I think I'm damn good at what I do, and my record since starting this blog in March 2010 demonstrates that. Most readers will have found this blog via twitter, and on Sunday's there can be some interesting "conversations" on horseracing that take place on Twitter. What I love about that medium is that it puts you into direct contact with people who normally you would have no opportunity to swap words with. 
Yesterday, Matt Tombs (@thespeiler) who wrote the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide for Weatherbys from 2016-2018 (he now writes for Racing UK) said this about Frodon; "just won off 164, a tribute to the better handicapping these days but also be a siren call to run Gr1 horses in big handicaps. 170+ horses have a good record and its much easier for them now."
He followed that up with; "lots of horses in the c130-160 bracket are rated up to 10lb higher than horses of the same ability a decade ago. That's made it easier for top handicappers like Frodon who's a mid 160s handicapper. But Gr1 170 horses can be thrown in."
For a number of years now, I have complained about "ratings inflation", which is horses being rated much higher than their racecourse ability has afforded. Initially, I thought this phenomenon was confined to the top echelon of chasers, as handicappers sought to find a horse comparable to Arkle in the 1960's. For those not old enough to remember - or even know - who Arkle was, he was the dominant chaser of the 1960's by a very long way and was rated by Timeform at 212. To put that rating into context, Timeform's current top-rated chaser is Altior rate 179; in other words were Arkle and Altior to meet over 2m4f in a handicap, Arkle would carry 11st 10lb and Altior would carry 10st - and be 9lb overweight!
The silly business of ratings inflation started with Kauto Star and his rivalry with stablemate Denman, and the legions of fans of both horses over who they thought was the best and, unfortunately, handicappers pandered to that rivalry. Personally, I don't think Arkle was anywhere near 212, but he was a phenomenally good chaser, consistent, and long-standing (he won 3 consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups in 1964, 1965 & 1966). He was difficult to rate as in the top Grade 1 chase races he was so superior he had little opposition and consequently won with ease. His rating (at a time when only Timeform created published ratings) was built around his performance in handicaps, but horseracing fans with some experience know that for some horses weight does not always stop a horse (weight can slow a horse down, but taking off weight will not necessarily make it run quicker). Take Frodon as an example, he handles the 2m4f/2m5f of Cheltenham exceptionally well, he's raced it 7 times winning 3 times with 2 of his defeats coming in the Spring months of March/April (he's run 5 times in March/April and never even been placed - take note Ryanair backers). He's race 13 times with 11st 5lb or more on his back, and won on 6 of those occasions - weight does not appear to slow this horse down (for 9 of his best 10 speed ratings, he's carried 11st 5lb or more).
This is were handicap ratings hit a quandary: I expect Frodon to have his rating raised from OR164 to maybe OR167, perhaps even OR169, but if he'd come up against his stablemate Politologue (rated OR168) on Saturday then Frodon would have been receiving 4lb - and even so you would expect Politologue to have given him a good beating. Why? Because Politologue is essentially a 10lb quicker horse than Frodon - even if the official ratings do not demonstrate that advantage.
How does this help the punter?
If we go back to the tweets sent out by Matt Tombs yesterday "lots of horses in the c130-160 bracket are rated up to 10lb higher than horses of the same ability a decade ago." I've thought the same for some time, and it has been the backbone of my selection technique for years - to take advantage of this anomaly I seek out young, improving chasers that have shown the speed to achieve high ratings but have yet to fulfil that potential on the course; because once they do my advantage is lost (unless I think they are capable of much better, and a good recent example of this is the chaser Wakanda in his 2nd-season who won 3 races in succession).
What I hadn't quite considered was how well handicapped the very best chasers are when compared to those considered just below top-class. As Matt Tombs wrote: "170+ horses have a good record and its much easier for them now; Gr1 170 horses can be thrown in." Perhaps I should stop complaining about ratings inflation and look at is as a gift that keeps on giving!
On Sunday, I did a quick scan of my memory of recent top horses winning major handicaps with big weights:
Tidal Bay (once rated OR166) winning the Bet365 (handicap) Gold Cup at Sandown off OR154 (carrying 11st 12lb - and he went on to be subsequently rated OR171);
Neptune Collonges Grand National (handicap) off OR157 (he was rated OR174 when 4th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2009);
Denman twice winner of the Hennessy (now Ladbrokes Trophy) off OR174 and OR161 with 11st 12lb - what is interesting is that the common denominator of these top handicap winners is the trainer Paul Nicholls - who is also the trainer of Frodon.
Clearly, Paul Nicholls knows that his top chasers hold an advantage in handicaps even when carrying top-weight and giving plenty of weight away.

My Saturday was made extra special when my selection BRAIN POWER, in the only other race I looked at, romped home. Brain Power was advised to readers of the blog on the Friday evening and was 7/1 - as I've said before, I may not write as many blogs as I used to, but the information these blogs contain is still 1st-class.

Friday 14 December 2018

Saturday 15th December

A top day of jump racing with the feature being the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (handicap) Chase over 2m4½f at Cheltenham at 1:55pm.
But first, yesterday and what can you say about SINGLEFARMPAYMENT: what a horse, but how frustrating! Honest, in all my years watching jump racing (and we are talking 50 years), I don’t think I’ve seen a 3-mile chaser than can jump a fence as well as this horse. Clean, efficient, he just skips over the fences like they were hurdles.  Top 2-mile chasers brush through the tops of fences but they occasionally drop-a-leg: not Singlefarmpayment.   He should have won yesterday, and I’m not sure what connections do now; perhaps a drop in trip to 2m5f to take advantage of his jumping ability. What I can take from the race is that I read it near perfectly; The 7/2 fav Theatre Territory didn't stay the trip as I expected; this trip is too short for Rock The Kasbah; and race-winner COGRY had to run a career-best to win. The surprise of the race was Rolling Dylan who showed that he's able to repeat his good 3-mile hurdling form over fences, and he won't meet opponents as tough as this next time. 
For the feature race at Cheltenham run at 1:55pm, I’m going to go against the top 3 in the handicap –that is FrodonBaron Alco, and Rather Be – as I think for one of them to win they will have to run to a career-best and I’m not sure any of them are capable of that off their current ratings. Of the trio, I’d say Rather Be is the likeliest to finish closest to the winner, but his current odds do not represent value.  Baron Alco will need the race run perfect for him as it was last time, and that is unlikely to happen. Frodon is a top-class chaser and he can finish in the 1st-3. 
War Sound just isn’t good enough and, at 9yo is too old, together with the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained pair of 9yo Foxtail Hill and 10yo Splash Of Ginge.
Cobra De Mai is interesting – he just about gets this trip so I can forgive him his poor run over 3-mile at Chepstow in October and his win at Stratford on 1st November puts him bang there with a chance in this. Okay, LTO his jumping was “iffy” at Ascot, but he recovered his form and was running on at the end, so at odds of 20/1 he looks one to consider. The winner of that Ascot race was Mr Medic and he may be a bit of an Ascot specialist and he’s been raised 9lb by the handicapper for that win; he’s not run at Cheltenham before, and he avoids soft ground like the plague – but if he gets his ground and adapts to the course he could go well.
However, Cobra De Mai was easily beaten by Cepage last March at Kempton over this trip, and although Cepage is having his seasonal debut, he’s gone well fresh before so that should be no hindrance. I really like the look of CEPAGE, he’s young at 6yo, he has a touch of quality about him and he comes here under the radar – remember when Frodon won this race in 2016 he beat the 6yo Aso also trained by Venetia Williams, and this horse is her only runner at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The mare Casablanca Mix is also a 6yo but it’s tricky to establish her best trip, and I am not sure if she is as good as her OR143 rating. Another tricky to fathom is the Alan King trained Full Glass, as he unseated LTO and may not be at his best at this trip, as he seemed not to stay when racing over 2m4f at Ayr on his only completed UK start.
This race looks a big step-up for Catamaran Du Seuil, and I just do not think this horse will be quick enough in this company and that’s why he’s been racing mainly over 3-miles, but he will be staying on at the end. As for Casse Tete, he’s managed to win a couple of weak races and has been hammered by the handicapper, as I think he’s nowhere near as good as his OR138 rating; I have him about 15lb below that.
Romain De Senam is another 6yo, but he has lots of experience, and if he could get anywhere ner his best form then he is in with a chance off this rating of OR137, but wind surgery hasn’t helped him and he looks destined for the hunting field.  Finally, Guitar Pete was a lucky winner of this race last season, and you have to take into account his trainers abysmal record at Cheltenham, that win last year was Nicky Richards only winner at Cheltenham in the past 5 years and I think it was his only win here in the past 10 years!
My idea of the 1st-3: 1st Cepage; 2nd Rather Be; 3rd Frodon
Selection: CEPAGE, £5 eachway @ 12/1 
Bet365 & Ladbrokes are quarter-odds 1,2,3 however, PaddyPower go 5th odds 1,2,3,4,5,6

Later on the card at Cheltenham we have the International Hurdle at 3:05pm run over 2m1f, and this Grade 2 event could be the final race for three-time winner The New One.  If Summerville Boy can recapture his best novice season form then he will be tough to beat in this, but his seasonal debut was so poor, that there cannot be much confidence in that happening. One that may be worth having a wager on is BRAIN POWER as although he was one of the best of last seasons novice chasers, he was a top-class hurdler before that rated OR162 when he contested the 2017 Champion Hurdle. He may not be up to that level, but he won't be far off and odds of 7/1 represent eachway value to me.

Friday 14th December

Another quality day of horseracing with meetings at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Bangor. The only issue is the number of runners in the races, with some races failing to attract more than 4 runners going to post, which is disappointing given that the ground at all 3 meetings is just about perfect for winter sport. Only one race at Doncaster has more than 5 runners

At Cheltenham, the race that catches my eye is the 3m2f Handicap Chase being run at 2:30pm, and it has attracted a quality field of 9 runners. Coo Star Sivola who won here at the Festival in  March off OR142, and his two runs this autumn should mean he comes here in tip-top form.  
He will need to be at his best to hold off the topweight Rock The Kasbah who won here over a slightly longer trip (with several rivals in this race behind him) in what looked to be a career-best effort. Whether this shorter trip is in his favour is debatable.  Behind Rock The Kasbah that day was Singlefarmpayment and this horse deserves a bit of luck.  He meets Rock The Kasbah on 6lb better terms which, combined with the slightly shorter trip, should ensure he is able to reverse the form.  Since winning at this meeting in 2016 as a novice chaser, Singlefarmpayment has raced 9 times without winning, not finishing 3 of those races (BD, Fell, and PU), but not being out of the 1st-5 in the remaining 6 completed races. In 5 of those races he's started the market leader (or joint-fav) and, in my opinion, he's better than his current rating of OR146 by about 5lb. He has an outstanding chance.  Also in that race won by Rock The Kasbah was Cogry, but off OR139 he will need a career-best to win, in fact he may need to improve 5lb. 
Some of the other runners are also very interesting, such as Kerrow who was having his first run in 18 months when falling at the final fence at Bangor LTO.  He could be absolutely thrown-in running off OR135, as he looks a potential 145+ chaser. Another interesting runner is Theatre Territory, but I think this mare is better over shorter trips than 3-mile.
Rolling Dylan does not look good enough, and this looks a big ask for El Bandit in what will be only his 3rd chase race but he is clearly well thought of at home by Paul Nicholls; whereas the 10yo Doing Fine is a bit too old for this. 
I am finding it tricky splitting Kerrow (best odds 7/1) and Singlefarmpayment (best odds 15/2), both should be right there at the finish and although Kerrow looks one to follow this season, this extra 2-furlongs could find him out.
Selection: SINGLEFARMPAYMENT £5 eachway @ 15/2  (Bet Victor, 5th the odds 1,2,3)

At Bangor, there is a 3-mile Class 3 hurdle at  2:10pm with only 7 runners, and these races can be good betting medium as they are invariably weak.  In my opinion, 3-mile hurdle races take some getting, and the horses capable of winning at this distance are few. If the current fav Kansas City Chief had enjoyed a recent run then he'd be my idea of the winner, but he's not run for 274 days and usually needs a recent run to show his best form. With stamina to prove, Crixus's Escape is not one to lump-on; and Valadom is as slow as a boat.  The could be a race for ATOMIC RUMBLE to get back into the winners enclosure, as the 5yo won twice in the summer before taking a break, and he probably needed the run last month. Odds of 5/1 look very generous given the opposition and that he still looks to have plenty of potential for improvement in him.
Selection: ATOMIC RUMBLE £10 win @ 5/1 (available generally)

I will be keeping an eye on the weather as Northern England and Scotland could be hit by snow tomorrow according to the forecasts. Cheltenham should be ok, but there is likely to be a lot of rain on the course, and with the cold winds some horses don't like it.  Looking ahead, my antepost wager on POLITOLOGUE for the King George Chase on Boxing Day is looking interesting.  I managed to get £25 on at 10/1 and with Might Bite looking like he's lost the plot mentally (in my opinion),  Waiting Patiently still not guaranteed to start the race and (even if he does) will he be fit enough, and none of Native River, Thistlecrack or Bristol De Mai looking like they would relish 3-miles around Kempton; I am quietly confident.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Thursday 13th December

No blog last weekend as I was recovering from a couple of Christmas "works" parties that left be a bit worse-for-wear. This was unfortunate for readers of the blog, as one of the horses that I noted last season as being well-handicapped - Warriors Tale - ran at Aintree on Saturday over the National fences off a handicap mark just 2lb more than when he ran 2nd (caught on the line) in the "Skybet" handicap Chase at Doncaster on 27th January, and he duly romped home.  I said on twitter that he could have been called the winner about a mile out as he was going so well. He probably does not have the stamina to last out the 4-miles of the Grand National, but I'd be very interested in him in the "Topham" Chase at the National meeting.
We have a great weekend of jump racing ahead of us as the circus returns to Cheltenham and, on Friday (tomorrow), there's hopefully gpoing to be a great wagering opportunity in the Grade 3 handicap chase run over 3m2f.
Before that, we have some attractive racing today at Newcastle, Taunton and Warwick. 
At Newcastle, the extended 2-mile novices chase at 1:45pm will definitely be worth watching, as the race was won by Waiting Patiently last season and is usually contested by some decent types. I always prefer have my money on a proven jumper in these novice chases, and I can't see beyond the pair leading the betting: Stowaway Magic and Ravenhill Road and, of the pair, I favour the 2/1 fav Stowaway Magic.  There won't be much in it, so there's no value in the current odds and it's a race best watched.
At Taunton, there are a couple of interesting races, including a novice chase handicap over 2m7f at 2:10pm in which 14 runners go to post.  The race looks wide open to me and I'm prepared to oppose the current fav Christmas In April who will be running his chase debut in this. The 2nd-fav is the 9yo Roll The Dough and although he has plenty of chasing experience, he is inherently slow; however, that may be enough to allow him to take this race.
I will be taking a long look at the Cheltenham cards for Friday and Saturday this afternoon, and should have a detailed blog ready for the morning.

Saturday 1 December 2018

What a busy day! Saturday 1st December

Today we have one of the busiest, and best days of jump racing, outside of Boxing Day. We have 4 meetings at Newbury, Newcastle, Doncaster and Bangor, and some of the best races of the jumps season.  On days like today it pays to pick and choose your targets - don't try and find too many winners!
For the feature race at Newbury, the Ladbrokes Trophy (handicap) Chase at 3:00pm, I assessed the form earlier in the week and tipped THOMAS PATRICK when he was 6/1. There were 23 runners then and there are just 12 now going to post and Thomas Patrick is the 7/2 fav. I think he has a great chance and I'm happy we took the 6/1 earlier this week. The obvious danger is the 2nd-fav Elegant Escape, but his best form appears to be on right-handed tracks. Ms Parfois is an obvious danger if she comes back today in the same form as last season. One who could be a fly in the ointment is American, as he has looked like a top-class chaser at times.
At Newcastle, they hold their premier jumps meeting of the season with the feature race being the "Fighting Fifth" hurdle, a Grade 1 event over 2-miles which has attracted a top-class field worthy of the Champion Hurdle next March. While much of the attention will be focused on Buveur D'Air and Samcro, I am interested in the potential of SUMMERVILLE BOY who never stopped progressing last season and could be a lot better than his OR156 rating.
The "Rehearsal" Chase over 3-miles later in the afternoon looks very competitive having attracted a top-class field of handicappers.  The 7yo Sharp Response could be the answer as his win at Carlisle over 3m2f in October marked him out as a progressive horse and I'm prepared to forgive his last run at Cheltenham.
There's nothing at Doncaster that I can advise having a wager on, as the good ground there - obviously the rain the rest of the country has suffered missed Doncaster - has meant that there are quite a few non-runners and it looks a day for fav's there.
At Bangor, the 3-mile handicap chase at 1:30pm may have some value. The money seems to be going on Wandrin Star, who has been improving with every run, but I'm expecting BORDEAUX BILL to improve on his recent seasonal debut and come on a bundle. Bordeaux Bill showed he was a promising novice chaser in the making when beating Sharp Response (who runs at Newcastle today) last December, and he could be very generous odds in this as it looks a fairly weak race on paper.
Back at Newbury, I will be eagerly watching the racing there and the reappearance of SANTINI who could be a star chaser in the making.

That's it for today, my selections are:
Bangor 1:30pm BORDEAUX BILL,  £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally)
Newbury 3:00pm THOMAS PATRICK - wager placed on Wednesday £10 win @ 6/1

Friday 30 November 2018

Friday 30th November 2018

We have a great day of jump racing today with the main meeting at Newbury, and a supporting jumps meeting at Doncaster. At this point, I have to ask why is Doncaster staging the "Kellys of Cornwall" handicap hurdle? Surely, Exeter would be a better venue for this race seeing as there isn't a racecourse in Cornwall?

One race at Doncaster that I'm interested in is the 1:40pm Class 3 handicap chase over 2m3f, as the 8yo Katgary runs his first chase since reverting to hurdling 12-months ago. He's dropped from a rating of OR140 to OR132 today, and this horse was only beaten a length by San Benedeto here at Doncaster (over an extended 2-mile) on soft ground in March 2017 when in receipt of just 8lb.  A repeat of that form would see him win today with ease, and he's currently 10/1 with Paddy Power (9/1 elsewhere).  With 4 of his best-5 races (on RPR ratings) over fences, he's a better chaser than hurdler, and he could be in with an outstanding chance in this.  The fav Nightfly looks to need to improve to win again from his revied OR130 rating, and Buster Thomas looks a bit one-paced, having been left in a clear lead by a final fence faller when winning his only chase from 8 attempts.  KATGARY is definitely worth an eachway wager in this.
The Newbury card today will be a great place to fill the notebook with pointers for the rest of the season. The novice hurdle that opens the day at 12:10pm has been won 5 times in the past 10 years by Nicky Henderson, and he's sent some good horses here to win this. That he hasn't a runner on the race this year is interesting.
The 2-mile novice (handicap) chase at 12:45pm looks a competitive affair, and the race-fav is the Henderson-trained Kaputana who won his recent chase debut at Kempton. However, as a hurdler, he wasn't as good as Knocknanuss but that horse fell on his chase debut before winning NTO (albeit the race-fav fell). One that I expect to be a decent novice chaser is Clondaw Castle, but he's having his chase debut today – if he wins today then he will be good, but this looks a tough ask for a debut. The horse that could be good value is AL SHAHIR, who raced over 2m4f on his chase debut and didn't see the trip out and this 2-mile trip will be much more to this front-runners taste.
The 2m4f handicap chase is tricky to assess as most of these look to be on ratings that are higher than what they should be able to win from! There's no way I can support Beggar's Wishes on OR152, which is 2lb higher than ASO on OR150.  The 8yo ASO has not run for over 12 months but when he was last seen he was a quality chaser over this trip and he does go well from a break.
The 3-mile Grade 2 hurdle at 3:00pm has a very strong field, and the fav Wholestone has the best recent form. But I think he's vulnerable at this trip – he's better at 2m4f-2m6f – and it could be that we will see a return to the winners enclosure for SAM SPINNER. He was absolutely top-class last season, when winning at Ascot on 23rd December, and it's likely the tatics adopted that stopped him winning at the Cheltenham Festival. Unless someone happens to that pair, there is no way I can see Unowhatimeanharry winning as he's about 10lb (or more) below his best nowadays and was hammered by Sam Spinner in that Ascot race.  Odds of 3/1 about SAM SPINNER look very good to me, as I'd have him the fav for this.
Just the one wager today: SAM SPINNER, £10 win @ 3/1 (available generally), but I won't put anyone off having a sneaky eachway wager on Katgary at Doncaster.
I'm happy with my selection for the Ladbrokes Trophy (handicap) Chase run at Newbury tomorrow, we took the 6/1 about THOMAS PATRICK earlier in the week, and with only 13-runners going to post now, he's best-priced at 4/1.  My only regret is not taking the 40/1 about West Approach as I think he will likely finish 4th. There is still 33/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3) but he will need some luck on his side to finish in the front-3. 

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Saturday's Ladbrokes Trophy (handicap) Chase

This Saturday we have the top-class Ladbrokes Trophy (handicap) Chase at Newbury, and at first glance it looks to be a competitive affair with 4 of the 23 entries vying for favouritism at about 6/1 - being Elegant Escape, Thomas Patreick, Kemboy and Ms Parfois. 
When there is competition like this, there is usually value to be found, and I'm on the look-out for it. Also, in a race which a history like the Ladbrokes Trophy (which used to be the Hennessey Gold Cup and has been run at Newbury since 1957) there are plenty of statistical pointers to help you find the eventual winner.
For instance, since 1999 (that's 19 years) only one horse has won the race aged 9yr s or older and that was the mighty Denman when he won the race for the 2nd time in 2009.  To put that performance in perspective, Denman was not only the only horse other than the great Arkle to win the race twice but, just like Arkle, he was a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Ask yourself, of the 23 entries aged 9yo or older, how many have the potential to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup?  How about last year's  Ladbrokes winner Total Recall - no, he fell 4-out in the Gold Cup last March when not looking like being able to trouble the eventual 1st-2.
I think we can safely omit those aged 9yo or older from our form assessment, and that reduces the field of 23 down to 14. 
In my opinion, it is important for a horse to have had a preparatory race prior to contesting this, and (as such) I'm prepared to overlook those that have yet to run since 1st May: that is Al Boum Photo (off 221 days); American (off 260 days); Invitation Only (off 221 days); Monbeg Notorius (off 221 days); Beware The Bear (off 224 days); Ms Parfois (off 232 days); and Allysson Monterg (off 220 days). That reduces the likely winning group to just 7 runners.
They are: Kemboy, Black Corton, Elegant Escape, Dingo Dollar, Thomas Patrick, Flying Angel and West Approach.    
Kemboy is a classy chaser, and although he's not a novice (he won a chase in January at odds of 2/5) he's only had 7 chase races, and 5 of those races were over a trip of 2m5f or under. He fell at the 1st fence in the Irish Grand National in April, and then won a "facile" race over 3-mile at Limerick beating just 4 rivals, the 2nd-placed horse being the OR144 rated Tombstone who has never won a race beyond 2m4f.  For me, there is absolutely no proof that Kemboy can stay the 3m2f trip yet alone win. Not so Black Corton who showed he's a capable of staying this sort of trip but whether he can off OR157 when he is prone to making jumping errors (and he will not have the luxury of being able to recover on Saturday with so many other runners) is debatable.
Elegant Escape beat Black Corton fair'n'square as a novice chase twice last season and he's weighted to maintain that advantage. He won his seasonal debut over 3-mile at Sandown beating Thomas Patrick but unfortunately has a 4lb penalty for that win which means Thomas Patrick now holds the advantage in the handicap. In my opinion, THOMAS PATRICK is ahead of the handicap and he's also likely to really enjoy the rain-softened ground on Saturday, and he has no stamina worries. It is also likely that he will have Richard Johnson riding.
Dingo Dollar had a spin over hurdles to get him race-fit for this but the Ladbrokes Trophy is a huge step-up in grade for him, and I feel he is being thrown-in the deep end. Personally, I don't think he's shown himself to be an OR148 chaser and while he has the potential this trace is a big ask.  According to the Racing Post, in the past decade there have been 52 runners with a rating below OR146 with no winners, so while Flying Angel is highly thought of at home, will he be good enough on OR142, and will he be able to stay this trip? Finally we have West Approach also on OR142 and he could be one for the places as he ran well at Cheltenham to be 3rd over 3m1f on the 27th October and he is (was ) a very classy 3-mile hurdler.  

For me, the most likely winner is THOMAS PATRICK and the 6/1 on offer looks fair value.  I will be looking on Saturday morning for a longer-odds selection to steal some each-way place value, and the 40/1 on West Approach may be worth taking, 

Antepost advice:

Ladbrokes Trophy (handicap) Chase @ Newbury on Saturday 1st December
THOMAS PATRICK - £10 win @ 6/1 (available with Bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power etc)

Monday 26 November 2018

Thoughts on the King George on Boxing Day

We came close on Saturday to pulling off a decent couple of wagers.  The main selection Bishops Road drifted in the betting from 5/1 out to 13/2 and I would hope that readers took advantage and placed an each-way wager at the longer odds.  I thought this 3m4f handicap chase was weak beforehand, and that proved correct as there were several fallers early-on and on for the final half of the race it was really only between Bishops Road and Red Infantry. I expected this marathon trip to bring out the best in Bishops Road, but I was not expecting an improved performance from the eventual winner RED INFANTRY who stuck well to his task and couple prove useful to follow over this sort of trip this season. We were unlucky to meet an unexposed chaser in Red Infantry who was winning his 3rd chase race from 7 runs.  Back in 4th, Two Smokin Barrels ran like he needed the race, and we can (and should) see a marked improvement in him next time.
In the Betfair Chase, I was right to favour Native River over Might Bite, and thought I was on the winner as the field went down the back straight for the final time.  But when eventual winner BRISTOL DE MAI took up the lead 4-out there was only going to be one winner.  This was a career-best from Bristol De Mai, although it's difficult to rate his win in the same race last season as Cue Card threw-in the towel  on that occasion and BDM won by a distance. However, this winning run was still about 5lb shy of the Gold Cup winning performance from Native River in March, and Native River also ran a higher-rated performance when winning the Welsh National. Whether BDM can improve on this and be a contender at Cheltenham in March is debatable, as he was unable to cope with Definitly Red in the "Cotswold" Chase there last January.  There's talk of him going for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day  but, if he were mine, I'd be sending him to Chepstow (where he won a hurdle race) and going for the Welsh National as he looks to have abundant stamina, loves the mud (and it's almost guaranteed to be soft/heavy there) and carrying a big weight does not seem to slow him down.
Before I leave this race, there was a much-improved performance from THISTLECRACK in 3rd and if he can improve for this run then he is a very live contender for the King George, especially as he's won the race before.  The odds of 8/1 quoted though, are very skinny.  Better value in that race may come in supporting a winner on Saturday at Ascot – POLITOLOGUE. I rated this win in the 2m5f Christy 1965 Chase a career-best from him and shows that he is one of the best chasers in training at the moment. He's raced twice before at Kempton winning both times very easily and Although he's not raced at 3-miles before, it should not prove a problem. I don't think Kempton will suit Native River who I think will miss the race and go to Newbury for the "Denman" in February, and the jury has to be out now on Might Bite after Saturday as he seems to have an "issue". Again, I think the track won't suit Bristol De Mai, and Altior will be most unlikely to go for the race. Which leaves the unbeaten chaser Waiting Patiently: a winner at Kempton and Ascot last season he showed himself to be in the top-drawer when beating Cue Card in February. The worry with this horse though, is will he turn up on Boxing Day?    On form, there is not much between POLITOLOGUE and Waiting Patiently, and with other horses in the race looking either outclassed or unsuited by the course, the 10/1 about POLITOLOGUE (Bet365 and William Hill) looks generous. 

Antepost advice:
King George VI Chase @ Kempton on Boxing Day
POLITOLOGUE - £10 win @ 10/1 (available with Bet365 and William Hill)

Saturday 24 November 2018

Native River to stamp his authority

We had a cracking result with the blog selections last Saturday, when I gave you not just the winner of the Bet Victor Gold Cup in BARON ALCO, but also the runner-up FRODON.  We can only try and find a similar winner today - fingers crossed.

At Haydock the feature race the Betfair Chase at 3:00pm has attracted only 5 runners and although the Gold Cup 1st & 2nd meet again, I feel this is disappointing as the 3rd prize is over £21,000 and there's no guarantee that one of the main challengers will not complete which leaves the 2nd prize of £42,000 available. I tipped NATIVE RIVER to win the Gold Cup and he's been a favourite of mine for couple of seasons and I will not desert him now.  I think Native River is a 5lb better horse than Might Bite and I cannot see him being beaten as he should be well up for this race.  Odds of 11/4 look a bit of a bargain to me, and having stablemate Thistlecrack in the race to help force the pace puts me even more in favour of Native River - there will be no hiding place and Native River has plenty of winning form on similar ground that he will find at Haydock today.

There is an interesting 3m4f chase race at 12:40pm at Haydock and I'm surprised that BISHOPS ROAD is not the fav for this, he's the forecast fav in the Racing Post at 4/1, but has slipped in the betting to 11/2 this morning. He runs well at Haydock having won the Grand National trial here over this trip in 2016, and he was rated OR154 after that run.  He's not the horse he was and he's slipped to OR135, but his form is not too bad and he only has 7 rivals, most of which have yet to prove they have the stamina for this.  The market fav is Little Bruce based on his win in a Class 4 chase over 3-mile at Hexham LTO, but this race is an entirely differnt kettle of fish to that one. 'The market 2nd fav is Red Infantry, but his form is difficult to rate, but I do not think his win in March at Warwick warranted a 13lb hike in the handicap to OR132.  Yes, BISHOPS ROAD with the benefit of Richard Johnson in the saddle looks a like winner in waiting and 11/2 looks fair value to me.

Haydock 12:40pm  BISHOPS ROAD, £10 win @ 11/2 (available generally)

Saturday 17 November 2018

2018 Bet Victor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham

What a cracking day of horseracing, I wish I was at Cheltenham today.
The blog did well yesterday, looked at 3 races and came up with 2 winners in Bun Doran and Josies Orders, but the advised selection Lovely Job was very disappointing and finished out of the places.  I can't explain that other than it's likely the horse did not want to be there on the day. 
However, what a run from THE YOUNG MASTER, bold foot-perfect jumping showed he is back to his best and he looks set for a very good season and a Grand National bid next April must be on the cards.
Back to today and the feature race at Cheltenham is the BetVictor Gold Cup at 2:25pm. I looked at this race earlier in the week, and there are two horses that I think will be thereabouts at the finish: FRODON and BARON ALCO.  The "good" ground will be no problem for Frodon as he has lots of winning form on similar, and if he can repeat his win here last January off OR154 (he runs off OR161 today) he could well take all the beating. However, possibly the best handicapped horse in the race is Baron Alco, who ran up against the talented Charbel LTO and just failed. That run was off the back of an 18-month break back to when he was 2nd at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival to Road To Respect (now rated OR161) so it is no surprise that he was unable to give a 1lb to that horse when beaten 6-lengths. Baron Alco could well be a 150+ horse, possibly 155+, and running off OR146. 
The race is very competitive and there could be a surprise winner, but it is unlikely, and the winner is likely to come from the head of the market.   There is not much between Rather Bee and Mr Whitaker, and of that pair I favour the latter mainly as he has more experience at this level.
My money will be on BARON ALCO @ 11/1.

In the 3m3f handicap chase at 1:50pm the one horse that jumps out at me is the in-form COGRY. He runs off OR139 but I reckon he's capable of winning off that rating, and the biggest issue for me will be his stamina and I just hope it lasts out.  Rock The Kasbah will be thereabouts if he handles Cheltenham but he didn't seem to enjoy the place when he last ran here 2 years ago as a novice chaser and he best form has been on "flat" tracks like Sandown. If the formbook works out then Singlefarmpayment should win, but he's failed to follow-through so many times now when he should have won it's tough to keep putting the money down on him.

Friday 16 November 2018

Cheltenham 16th November 2018

A tremendous weekend of jump racing at Cheltenham kicks off today at 12:40pm and although there is another jumps meeting at Newcastle, all eyes will be on Prestbury Park.
For me, the best wager of the day could be in the opening race, a 3m1f Class 3 handicap chase for amateur riders run at 12:40pm, and this is a race I've had success in before. Amateur rider races can be a lucrative betting medium as the skill level varies from near professional (the likes of Mr JJ Cobb) to some who do well to stay in the saddle in the paddock.  If you stick to the very best of the riders then you will find most of the winners of these races.
A few weeks ago, I tipped LOVELY JOB when he ran in a Class 2 handicap chase at Chepstow.  That race was won by The Young Master who he meets here today on 8lb better terms (as jockey Sam Waley-Cohen does not claim his 3lb allowance). When approaching the final fence that day, I honestly thought Lovely Job was about to come and win it, but he quickly ran out of puff on the run-in, and I think that was due to lack of race-fitness. He will be a lot better today thanks to that run, and the jockey who rode last year's winner of this race, the capable Mr R O Harding, takes the ride.   The Young Master is currently 4/1 2nd-fav  and when he won LTO that was his first win since taking the old "Whitbread" on the final day of the jumps season at Sandown in April 2016.  He's run well at Cheltenham off OR150 so he's more than capable of making a bold show off OR135 now he has his mojo back.  Mr JJ Codd rides Station Master, a horse who has only run in one previous chase race – he obviously has potential but at just 5/1 he's far too short in the betting.
The race fav is For Good Measure, and I'm not altogether sure why he is – he's only run in 3 previous chase races and though his rating of OR130 is 7lb lower than his hurdles rating, he barely stayed 3-mile as a hurdler which is not good (in my opinion) for 3-mile chasing.
The 5yo Sky Pirate could be too young for this race, but he ran a cracker LTO when 2nd to a subsequent winner, and he's likely to be on the premises.
Bally Longford usually needs a run but his rating of OR131, even though it's up 5lb for his win LTO in March, is fair as he's run well before off OR136. The remainder of the field don't look up to winning this race.
For me, LOVELY JOB at 8/1 (Bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power etc) looks great value as I reckon he has as good a chance as The Young Master on 4/1 and there are doubts over the form of Station Master and For Good Measure.  The interesting one is Sky Pirate who could well improve if he's up for it being just 5yo.
Later in the day, the 2-mile Class 2 handicap chase run at 1:50pm could well go to the current 11/4 fav BUN DORAN, as he goes well here and was just beaten over C&D on his seasonal debut last year.  This is a weak race for the grade though, and he's not the strongest horse in the finish (he's not won for nearly 2 years), so he's not one to risk the mortgage on.
The Grand National winner TIGER ROLL runs in the Cross-Country Chase but he has only one target this year, a repeat Grand National win, and I very much doubt he will be anywhere near ready to win this. JOSIES ORDERS has had the benefit of a hurdle race last month and is a very capable Cross-country chaser and should take all the beating.   
We've another great meeting at Cheltenham tomorrow, and I will be writing-up my notes on the feature race this afternoon.
Just the one wager today: LOVELY JOB, £5 each way & £10 win @ 8/1 (available generally)

Saturday 3 November 2018

Blog readers on BLACK CORTON at 8/1

Quite a busy weekend of racing ahead of us with some terrific jump racing at Ascot and Wetherby today, and the Breeders Cup in America.
Unfortunately, the Good (good-to-firm in places) ground at Wetherby has meant there's a lot of non-runners today and the betting markets will likely be very fluid all day.  There in an interesting Class 3 handicap chase at 1:30pm with just 6 runners now and it may be worth taking a chance on the bottom-weight Absolutely Dylan who made all on his recent chasing debut and could do nothing more than win easily against very poor opposition. However, we do know he jumps well, and he likes to lead, also he's fit to race and there's every likelihood he will improve for that run. Current odds of 11/4 look worthy of a wager, as he could easily be a 140+ chaser in the making as there appears nothing at all special in this race.

The big disappointment of the day is the feature race at Wetherby, the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, which now has only 4 runners.  Regular readers of the blog will have taken my advice on Tuesday evening when I put my blog online and taken the odds of 8/1 about BLACK CORTON.  Right now he's the race fav at  just 13/8, and it is difficult to see the horse losing this afternoon with just 3 rivals .  I know several of you went in at 8/1 and we are now looking very smug. 

Racing at Ascot is a lot more competitive as the ground there is perfect - Good. The novice handicap chase at 1:50pm looks interesting as I'm a big fan of STERNRUBIN and if he can get to the level he was at over hurdles - he loves Ascot and won the Ladbroke (handicap) hurdle off OR134 and the William Hill (Listed) handicap hurdle off OR142 -  then you have to think his current chase rating of OR137 is very lenient and odds of 9/2 could be generous.
In the feature race at Ascot at 3:35pm, a Grade 3 handicap chase over 3-mile, I do not think the odds of 7/2 about last years winner Go Conquer are very generous as his form tailed-off last season. He's 9yo now and I think his best days are behind him, but not so the top-weight TRAFFIC FLUID who was very highly tried last season and saw his handicap mark drop from OR156 to OR140 which allowed him to win a Grade 2 handicap chaseat Cheltenham in April. He ran well recently in his seasonal debut running 2nd at Chepstow, and I can see him going really well off OR149. Odds of 5/1 are not great though but when you look at the opposition you realise he might well start less than that.

Not a day for having big money on, and I think I will sit on my wager at 8/1 on BLACK CORTON and watch the rest of the day with interest.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Thursday 1st November 2018

November is one of the most exciting months in jump racing. 
Last seasons favourites take to the course and attempt to repeat past glories; novice chasers intent on a festival prize in the 2019 take their first (hopefully not tentative) jumps in public; and "store" horses emerge with reputations to build in novice hurdles.  It's also a great time for 2nd-season chasers, and pundits like me hope to find those horses that have escaped the focus of the handicapper and start the season on a lenient rating.
There are a couple of meetings today at Stratford and Sedgefield, but the small fields do not offer much opportunity for value. The 3m3f handicap hurdle run at Sedgefield at 3:30pm will be a stamina-sapping test for the 5 runners even on the "good" ground, but one that catches the eye is WESTERN SUNRISE who stays this trip, has been running well recently, and comes here for this instead of running at Uttoxeter tomorrow (where he also holds an entry).  With neither Nemean Lion and Tickenwolf having recent form that suggests they might win, the race looks between Western Sunrise, More Than Luck and Same Circus and they are all at odds of around 3/1.  I'm discounting Same Circus as he does not appear to run well off a break and it's 150-days since his last run. More Than Luck has been running well in chase races recently, but he was not much of a hurdler and he may lack that bit of speed at the business end to win the race. For me, WESTERN SUNRISE represents the best chance of winning and current odds of 11/4 might not be bettered, as I can see him starting the 9/4 fav, he may even go off at 2/1.
At Stratford, there is an interesting 2m3f Class 3 handicap chase which last year was won by the decent, but ill-fated, chaser Starchitect.  There appears to be nothing of that quality in today's field, but you never know. 
For me, the most likely winner is the 6yo Comanche Chieftain who has won here at Stratford several times. He didn't stay the 3-mile trip at Fakenham LTO, but his ability carried him through the race and today's trip will suit him much better. The current race fav Cobra De Mai also found the 3-mile trip too much to handle when he tackled it at Chepstow LTO, but his overall performance was not as promising as COMANCHE CHIEFTAIN, and odds of 100/30 look fair although I would prefer odds of 4/1 or longer as this could be a competitive race.
I cannot advise a wager but, if you are, keep stakes small as these are early days in the jumps season, and we have a great weekend of racing ahead of us with plenty of wagering opportunities.