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Record of the blog selections

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


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Sunday 15 April 2018

TIGER ROLL wins the Grand National

What a terrific result for the blog yesterday.
I only looked at the Grand National, and even though I'd already placed wagers on eventual winner TIGER ROLL and on Warriors Tale (who ran well, but lacked the stamina to finish and pulled-up before 2-out when beaten) because of the ground I felt I still wasn't sure that I had a good enough handle on the race. So, I awoke at 6:30am on Saturday morning, powered-up the laptop and poured myself a giant mug of tea and started looking at the race afresh.
In a race worth £500,000 to the winner, £200,000 to the 2nd and £100,000 to the 3rd and in which even the 10th placed horse wins £5,000 you know that the race is too competitive to be won by an "also-ran". And so I gave myself some "rules" to reduce the field of 40 down to something more manageable.  One of these rules was nothing aged 12yo or older and I nearly came unstuck as the 13yo Bless The Wings ran right up to the form which has twice taken him into 2nd place in the Irish National, the latest time last April and before that in March 2016.  This old campaigner has certainly earned an honourable retirement.  The only other "older" horse to finish was the 12yo Aintree specialist Gas Line Boy who would have been in the 1st-5 but for his stamina running out after jumping the 2nd-last fence. I had thought he was capable of making the 1st-5 (see my blog of yesterday) as he did last year, but age has caught up with him.
Because of the testing nature of the ground, I also looked for form at trips beyond 3-mile and that put my antepost wager on Warriors Tale in doubt. When I placed the wager, I expected the ground to be the "usual "good-to-soft" but the rains continued and heavy ground was the last thing the horse needed. Even so, he ran well, and I expect he will back in the winners enclosure when racing over a suitable trip on better ground NTO.
Due to the ground, I wasn't expecting more than 10 to finish and in the end only 12 did finish the race and of the non-finishers 13 were pulled-up. Only 2 of those 12 to finish carried over 11st in weight: Anibale Fly who had run 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month, and Valseur Lido who had missed most of 2017 due to injury but had been rated OR169 after winning a Grade 1, 3-mile chase in November 2016.  Beyond 4-mile and on this sort of ground, weight carried over 11st is a heavy burden and it takes an exceptional horse to win the National with more than 11st in the saddle.  Even finishing the race with 11st-plus in the saddle is a considerable effort, and something to take into account next year.
The heavy ground certainly played to the strengths of Pleasant Company (just as I expected, see my blog assessment) and, in my opinion, he ran right up to the form which won him the 3m1f Bobbjo Chase in Ireland last February. He was beaten by the good-to-soft ground in this race last year, and this is what a lot or "experts" overlook when appraising the form - horses will not run to their best on ground which does not suit them.  Yesterday, Pleasant Company ran a cracker, setting a strong pace for much of the final couple of miles and was only beaten by a horse that, in my opinion, could have been placed in this years Cheltenham Gold Cup had he been aimed at that race instead of this.
What can I say about the performance of the winner, TIGER ROLL? He was perfectly placed throughout by his jockey Davy Russell, and that brings its own luck - just ask Sam Twiston-Davies whose mount Blaklion was brought-down at the 1st fence when he collided on landing with the stricken Perfect Candidate who had over-jumped and crumpled on landing.  And Davy Russell lost his irons as they headed out on the 2nd-circuit, but he kept his cool and sorted himself out without interrupting the motion of the horse.
In the end, I think TIGER ROLL ran to about the same level as he did when winning the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017. He is probably not up to Gold Cup winning standard, but he's certainly a lot better than his current OR150 rating, and should he drop back to an extended 3-mile trip for his next race then he will be worth following-up. However, I expect he will be aimed at a return to Aintree next year as he is still only an 8yo.

If you read the Grand National blog and followed my advised wagers, you would have emerged from the race with a profit of £82.50 for your £25 stake money on the 4 advised horses from the shortlist. The 4th horse on my list was Final Nudge who fell at Canal Turn on the 1st circuit before the race got going.

That's it for this jumps season.
You can still follow me on twitter on @wayward_lad and I'm usually watching the horseracing on a Saturday afternoon throughout the flat season.  It is now time for me to take a break, refresh the batteries, enjoy the summer (if we get one) and then look at building an alert list for the 2018-19 jumps season. Don;t forget, I will be posting my Cheltenham Festival blog on the pages to the right and adding to the notes there as I review each race in turn so that we can hit the ground running when we return to jump racing in October.

Good luck, and keep racing!

Saturday 14 April 2018

The Grand National - Saturday 14th April 2018

We had good runs from both selections yesterday, and both finished in the places to end the day in a slight profit - Ms Parfois ran 2nd (advised at 6/1) and Ballyalton ran 5th (advised at 14/1).  Paddy Power paid 6-places on the Topham Trophy (Ballyalton's race) and many others paid 5 places).
I really thought MIN had the Melling Chase won but he just didn't have enough to beat Politilogue.  It wasn't the ground or the trip that beat him - Politilogue is one of those talented horses that once a season shows just how good he is and, for the rest of the season, he frustrates us. 

First-up today, I'm going to concentrate on the Grand National as that is the race most readers will want me to advise on.  I've already had an antepost wager at 50/1 on Warriors Tale and also a small win wager on Tiger Roll at 11/1.  However, I think this years' race is one of the trickiest I've come across and I'm not yet "hooked" on any one horse that I think holds a proper winning chance.  Obviously with 40 horses and 30 jumps you need a bit of luck, but the best horses with the best chances will make their own luck. So I'm having a fresh run through the runners, starting at the bottom and omitting any old horses (I really cannot see a 12yo or 13yo winning) and anything without any form at 3-mile-plus.  I also think the soft/heavy ground will make a big impact, and I wont be surprised to see less than 10 finish the race, so able to act on soft/heavy ground is something that I will look for.

Delusionofgrandeur 10st 5lb - ran 3rd over 3m5f at Sedgefield carrying 11:12 last November and he's won 4 from 10 chase races run over 3-mile-plus. However, he didn't stay the 4m1f on soft at Musselburgh on 03Feb and he's not on my shortlist.
Thunder And Roses 10st 5lb - Won the Irish National in 2015, and was 4th in it in 2017, he was unseated last year, and could run into 6th or 5th place as he does act on heavy ground.
Final Nudge  10st 6lb - His 3rd in the Welsh National carrying 11st 6lb was a great effort, and he ran well LTO without troubling the leaders. He could be a big surprise in this race at 50/1.
Milansbar 10st 6lb - His win in the Warwick Classic over 3m5f in January showed he's capable, and he's also twice run 2nd in a Midlands National over 4m1f. Sure to be bang there among the leaders throughout, and at 33/1 is a good eachway chance.
Baie Des Iles 10st 8lb - Ran 5th in the Welsh National as a 5yo, and then won in Ireland over 3m4f but could not win the same race last month which suggests she's not improving. Odds of 14/1 too short for me and I can't see this horse winning.
Pleasant Company 10st 11lb - Was the big Irish hope last year but the ground that day was probably too quick for him. He's been aimed at this race all season, and todays' ground will be perfect. He could run a big race and odds of 33/1 are fair value.
The Dutchman 10st 11lb - Won the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in some style, he flopped NTO on similar ground off a 13lb higher rating of OR148 which he races off here. May not be up to this.
Gas Line Boy 10st 11lb - Ran 5th in this race last year with 10:7, and won over the fences in December, he loves it here. The ground will suit him better than last year and I'm expecting a big race. Odds of 25/1 are very fair as he should at least make the 1st-5 finishers.
Warriors Tale 10st 12lb - Has been in top form all season, and handles soft ground. He's not raced beyond 3-mile except in hurdle races, but he's not shown he can't stay this trip. He's 50/1.
Chase The Spud 10st 12lb - His win in the 4m1f Midland National was off OR130 and he runs off OR149 in this. His recent form isn't great and he may not be up to this class of race.
Tiger Roll 10st 13lb - Has been aimed at this race and having won the 4-mile NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he has the CV of a winner. Can be an indifferent performer but he does have the class and ability. Odds of 12/1 are about right as should be in the 1st-4 home.
Perfect Candidate 11st 3lb - Pulled-up last year but the ground was too quick for him. Even so, he ran well for a long way and this softer ground will suit him. No stamina doubts and odds of 66/1 very generous for a horse that should finish.
Total Recall 11st 5lb - Won the Ladbroke Trophy Chase at Newbury in the autumn and ran well till falling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month. Obviously a classy horse but OR156 looks a high enough mark for him on what he's shown to date.
The Last Samuri 11st 8lb - it will be tough on this ground for a horse with this weight to win, but he went close on similar ground when 2nd in 2016. I can see him running a big race, but another who should be in the places and odds of 20/1 are fair.
Anibale Fly 11st 8lb - 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he will need to repeat that form and better it to win this race off this weight. It's possible, but (in my opinion) unlikely.
Blaklion 11st 10lb - ran a bold race in this last year to be 4th, and he can carry big weights to win as he showed here in December winning with 11st 6lb. Another bold show expected, but his odds of 12/1 leave no room for error.

With some bookies paying 6-places (Betfred, Boylesports, Totesport) it may pay to have some long-odds eachway wagers with those and, in a race like this with such terms, I have no problem placing wagers on 4 runners in the race.

My "four-against-the-field" are:-
Perfect Candidate @ 66/1
Tiger Roll @ 12/1
Warriors Tale @ 50/1
Final Nudge @ 50/1

The horse that I think has the best chance of being the winner is TIGER ROLL, as he will stay the trip, he will handle the ground, he comes here in top form having won LTO, and in Davy Russell he has one of the best jockeys in racing to steer him around the track. He's a classy horse that could probably have run in better quality races since winning at Cheltenham in 2017 but he's been aimed for this instead of a having a "Gold Cup" campaign this season.

My suggested wager is 4 x £2.50 eachway wagers on the 4 in the shortlist, plus £5 win on TIGER ROLL - total staked £25.  Good Luck! 

Friday 13 April 2018

Aintree Festival (Friday) 13th April

Not a bad start to the Aintree Festival.  As usual, I advise to read the narrative and if you did then you would likely have been on the winner L'Ami Serge who was 7/1 when I posted the blog, or you should have at least layed the fav Supasundae. Of my main selections; Cyrname set far too strong a pace in the opener and paid for it on the soft ground; Bristol De Mai ran a cracker but was not good enough to hold Might Bite, but he was a profitable eachway wager; and Bun Doran just faded out of the places coming home 5th.
I thought MIGHT BITE ran to a higher rating than he achieved in the Gold Cup, and he benefited from running over a shorter trip on this flatter track. The strong pace set by Bristol De Mai also helped Might Bite set, in my opinion, a personal best.

The Grand National course looked fantastic and possibly not as testing as was expected. So long as the rain stays away (and that is the expectation) we should have perfect racing ground on Saturday.  Yesterday I suggested having a wager on topweight Minella Rocco, and there are rumours that he may be withdrawn from the race. Hopefully, if you placed a wager you did so with a "non-runner, no bet" bookie.

Friday is a trickier card and I'm going to ignore the opening couple of hurdle races and go straight to the Novices Chase run at 2:50pm over 3m1f.  This is a race which is usually won by a top, if not the top, staying novice chaser of the season that's trained in the UK.  If Terrefort - 2nd in the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f last month - can improve for this step up in trip then he will be hard to beat. However, I think Terrefort may struggle over this trip and I'm looking at other proven stayers. With the mares 7lb allowance Ms Parfois is technically rated 153 and she will have no problem with the trip having just failed to win the 4-mile NH Chase. A very game mare, she should be thereabouts at the end. If the other mare in the race Mia's Storm had had a recent run (she last ran at Xmas) then I would be very interested in her in this race, but not having had a recent run is a worry.  The rest of the opposition is just as talented, however I think the 6yo's Coo Star Sivola and Elegant Escape will appreciate a break and be better in the autumn. A horse that I admire but who ran poorly at Cheltenham is Black Corton, and if he can return to his best (he easily beat Ms Parfois at Ascot in February over 3-mile) then I'd be on him in a flash. This is a tough race, but when push comes to shove I think the 6/1 about Ms PARFOIS is fair value as she ticks all the boxes.

The JLT Melling Chase over 2m4f run at 3:25pm looks to be between MIN and Balko Des Flo, and I have no doubt that MIN is the better horse, it is just this trip which may catch him out. This 2m4f trip is perfect for Balko Des Flo, but I felt he was at the limit LTO and it may be that he was flattered by the way the race panned out. The horse that may run a lot better than his odds is Le Prezien but I cannot see him beating Min even if he improves 10lb.  At odds of 5/4, MIN could be the wager of the day as I think he should be odds-on, probably about 4/7.

There is a full compliment of 30 runners for the 2m5f Topham Trophy  run at 4:05pm, so to be involved at the finish the winner of the race will need some luck.  After the Cheltenham Festival when writing up my notes, one horse caught my eye with regards this race and I placed a wager on him - BALLYALTON.  The 11yo has slipped from OR149 to OR138, but has run well without winning as his rating has dropped.  He was 4th LTO at Cheltenham in the 2m5f Grade 3 handicap chase and he was "in-the-van" throughout the race, which is where you want to be in a race like the Topham.  Available at 14/1 for this, he is as good an eachway wager as any other in the race.

I will give the remaining hurdle and "bumper" a miss as chases are my speciality.

Selections advised
2:50pm Ms PARFOIS - £5 eachway @ 6/1 (available generally)
4:05pm BALLYALTON - £5 eachway @ 14/1 (available generally)

Thursday 12 April 2018

Aintree Festival (Thursday) 12th April

The opening day of the Aintree Festival and we kick-off with 4 x Grade 1 races.
Before that though, some of my early thoughts about the Grand National. The ground will have a huge bearing on the result and at the moment we could have anything ranging from Good-to-Soft to Soft (heavy in places) depending on the weather.  What we can be sure of is that the word "soft" will be in the ground description.
While we may have had winners of the Grand National that have carried more than 11st, in the main those carrying less than 11st have dominated the race in recent years. As such, I usually shy away from those with more than 11st but there is one horse that I think could have a great chance - even on soft ground - if he's in the mood, and that's MINELLA ROCCO who has top-weight with 11st 10lb. He's won the 4-mile NH Chase (with Native River and Vicente behind him that day); he's powered thru' the mud at Cheltenham to be 3rd in November16 when he looked the most unfit horse in the paddock beforehand (I was there); and he was 2nd in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he's still only an 8yo!   He also ran a cracker to be 4th on 28th Dec behind 1st Road To Respect and 2nd Balko Des Flo over 3-miles; not bad form that.
Jockeyship will come to the fore, I expect, as keeping the horse going when he wants to stop on soft ground is not something every jockey can do (watch Red Marauder win the National when only 2 completed, as Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy remounted to take 3rd and 4th, which they can't do now).  As such, Davy Russell on TIGER ROLL is looking a good booking, and I'm liking this horse more and more.
If VINTAGE CLOUDS gets a run he will not be 40/1, but I'm not sure enough (he needs another 5) will withdraw. 
It's possible Total Recall will not run, and nor will Vicente, and perhaps there are a few that would be better not bothering. Mullins will also probably pull-out Childrens List.  If pushed, I expect Sue Smith would rather have Vintage Clouds run than stablemate Delutionofgrandeur, but will the owner agree? 

The day opens on Thursday with the 2m4f Manifesto Novices' Chase run at 1:45pm.  Only 6 runners go to post, and the favourite is likely to be Nicky Henderson's Brain Power, however I have not thought this trip would suit him. So far, Brain Power has only run at around 2-miles.  As such, it may pay to oppose him with one of the pair sent by Paul Nicholls: Cyrname and Modus.  The latter disappointed at Cheltenham when he was outclassed, but he will appreciate this ground and this looks an easier race.  Cyrname missed Cheltenham but had already shown he was a decent novice chaser at this trip when just beaten by a neck at Sandown in February. The winner that day was Terrefort, who went on to be 2nd at Cheltenham in the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f. 
CYRNAME looks the most likely winner and odds of 9/4 are fair.  

Next up at 2:20pm is the Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle run over 2m1f, and again the race is dominated by Nicky Henderson who sends We Have A Dream and Apple's Shakira. At the odds I'm not interested in either horse, and this race is probably best watched.

The Betway Bowl Chase run over 3m1f at 2:50pm could be a classic.  Last years' winner Tea For Two returns, but this race is all about Might Bite and how much did the Gold Cup defeat take out of him.  Obviously, if he can repeat that form then Might Bite will not be beaten in this race.  However, that will be a big ask and as Bristol De Mai comes here fresh and having had a wind-op he could be capable of running to his best on this flat LH track which will suit him.  After his run in the Gold Cup, I'm wondering if Definitly Red was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when winning the Cotswold Chase in January at Cheltenham. Other than these three, I cannot see anything else getting into the race, and at 11/2 with Paddy Power BRISTOL DE MAI looks an eachway steal (5th odds a place 1,2,3)

The trip of 2m4f will really suit Supasundae in the Aintree Hurdle at 3:25pm, but he will need to be at his best to hold off the old boys The New One and My Tent Or Yours who have both shown that - on the day - they can run to near their best. It is also interesting that Henderson runs L'Ami Serge in this race as most of his hurdle races have been over 3-miles, but he did win the Grade 2 Select Hurdle at Sandown last April (The New One was btn 9-lengths into 4th) and that suggests he won't be far away either. A race in which I will be laying the fav if he remains at "evens" for the race in the betting.  

I've never had much luck in the Foxhunters over the years, my selections either fall or have no luck in running - so I will give this race a miss. 

The "Red Rum" Chase (handicap) run over 2-miles at 4:40pm is one of the best 2-mile handicap chases of the season and this years race looks very competitive.  I feel that King's Socks will prefer a longer trip, and as much as I like the consistency of Theinval, he's had too many races to find much improvement to win off this mark of OR141.  Last year, BUN DORAN started the 6/1 fav and his 3 runs since then this season have shown he's capable of winning off this mark of OR139, and odds of 8/1 (Bet365) look good value for an eachway wager - he is generally 7/1 which is still fair value. 

My advised wagers today are:-
1:45pm - CYRNAME - £10 win but ONLY if you can obtain 9/4 or longer
2:50pm - BRISTOL DE MAI - £5 eachway @ 11/2 with Paddy Power
4:40pm - BUN DORAN - £5 eachway @ 8/1 with Bet365

Wednesday 4 April 2018

The 1000th Wayward Lad Blog - and a Grand National selection

My thousandth blog - what a milestone.  Had anyone suggested back in March 2010 that I'd be writing this blog today, 8 years later in 2018, it's likely I'd have thought they'd gone bonkers. There was never any intention to write the blog for this long, I started off just testing the water, putting my thoughts down and wondering if anyone else was interested in them.

In those early days, some of the stalwarts of twitter and horseracing blogging quickly lent their support to the new kid on the block, people like Ben Aitken (@narrowthefield) and Steve Mullington (@mulldog), and that support was much appreciated. Blogging took a bit of getting used to: finding something to write about, then finding the time to do it and, most importantly, writing the blog early enough in the day for the information to be useful to the reader. Although my first blog was written  in March 2010, the blog became more regular in May of that year, as I became caught up in the excitement of the flat season in the run up to the Derby and Royal Ascot. When I look back at those early blogs the writing is simple and the messages short, but the information I am sharing with the reader is 1st-class: on 13th May 2010 I make subsequent Derby and Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce my selection for the Dante Stakes at York on the back of his solitary win in a maiden as a 2yo. The next day I suggest that 2000 Guineas 3rd Canford Cliffs can be this seasons top miler - and he was, winning a string of Group 1 races over a mile.

Over the years I have tried to vary how the blog is presented and, during that first summer, I tried to give the blog a "bulletin" feel as I considered at the time starting an alternative newsletter sent out by email to subscribers, but that idea never fully flew - however, I did write and issue a Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for several years until the volume of work required to put it together became too much. 

In the Autumn of 2010, the first selections for the 2010-11 jumps season were posted, and I decided to record my performance, and a record of that performance - and that of subsequent years - is available to review on the blog. That first season I managed to record a small 10pt profit on 109.50pts staked, but it was touch-and-go until the Grand National when I tipped the winner Ballabriggs at 16/1 the evening before the race - and (to put that tip into context) not a single tipster in the Racing Post named Ballabriggs in their "four-against-the-field". That Grand National blog holds the all-time record for readers: 610 on the day - and did I receive any donations for tipping the winner? No, not a penny.

Do I have a selection for the 2018 Grand National? This year looks a tricky race (as always) and given the weather, much will depend on the state of the ground on the day: if it is soft, then stamina will be at the forefront, and luck. The horse that I have taken antepost odds on is WARRIORS TALE trained by Paul Nicholls.  The horse stays 3-mile well and is, in my opinion, well handicapped on OR149 as it should mean he has less than 11st to carry. I also think that as he's recently been bought by Trevor Hemmings (who won the race with Ballabriggs and Many Clouds) connections think the horse has a better than 40/1 chance in this race. The ground could be an issue if it is soft on the day, not because he cannot handle soft ground (he can) but because it could make the race a bit more unpredictable. But I think he should be half his current odds and, given he's been recently bought to run in the race, it will only be an injury sustained on the gallops that prevents him from running, and on the day he will be amongst the market leaders at between 12/1 - 16/1. 

The season 2011-12 was when I first came to know Cue Card. When running in the Arkle in March 2012, I had suggested readers take the 3/1 without the fav (Sprinter Sacre) and Cue Card had pushed the winner all the way.  After that run, Cue Card was rated OR157 - can you believe that now? At the time, I thought he was exceptionally well handicapped and - if he'd been mine - he would have gone straight for the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November, a race won by Al Ferof off OR159 - and Al Ferof had been hammered by Cue Card in the Arkle at Cheltenham.

The summer of 2012 was when I first took a summer vacation from blogging, returning for the 2012-13 jumps season in the November.  The break did me good, as I was able to assemble an "alert list" of well-handicapped and improving horses, and go into the season fresh and confident of success.  On reflection, it was probably the most successful jumps season I've had as a blogger as I finished over 50pts ahead.  Not only was I able to capitalise on my confidence about Cue Card - who I tipped at 5/1 antepost to win the Ryanair Chase - I also tipped Monbeg Dude to win the Welsh National at 12/1.

For season 2013-14 the winners continued, he highlight being spotting the well-handicapped John's Spirit who I tipped to win twice at Cheltenham at 14/1 and then at 9/1 to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup. But the highlight of that autumn was Midnight Appeal on 13th November 2013, who I tipped to win at Bangor at 25/1.  The winner resulted in the largest amount of individual donations that I have ever received for posting a winner. 

However, the blog is not just about donations (although they are welcome) it is about the joy of horseracing and jump racing in particular.  For me, there is nothing that beats standing at the course, feeling a chill in the air from the breeze, listening to the sound of the hubbub of the crowd, feeling the sense of anticipation.  I do not think there is an experience that beats it, and when a crowd comes together to witness and support both winner and loser in a race such as this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup which contained bravery and excellence in equal measure, there is no superlative to describe it.

I love writing this blog, I love being able to witness jump racing and be a part of the fabric, and long may it continue. If you appreciate this blog, I would be very pleased for you to make a comment.