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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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Friday 21 September 2018

Weekend lookahead

At this time of year, as the days are ticked-off till the "jumps" season kicks off proper, it can be a bit difficult to write a blog. The alert list has been reviewed and pruned, the antepost lists have been assessed, and hopes lie ahead awaiting success or failure.
We still have the greatest flat race of the season to come when the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe returns to Longchamp on Sunday 7th October when we we surely see the 4yo filly ENABLE confirmed as the best we have seen in a long time, so we jumps fans have to be a bit patient yet.
However, we do have a sprinkling of jump racing meetings to keep us interested, with Newton Abbot staging a meeting today, and on Sunday we have meetings at Uttoxeter and at my local track at Plumpton, where I shall be in attendance.
I like Plumpton; a compact track where the view from the stands is a good one of (almost) the entire circuit, and the paddock and betting ring are close by.  I'm trying to gather together some local horseracing fans who would be interested in joining me in a small syndicate with a locally-based trainer (one of the trainers at Lewes) with the objective of finding a young hurdler to contest races over the Sussex circuit of Plumpton, Fontwell and Lingfield, with the occasional foray up to Ascot, Kempton and Sandown. However, finding people to come along isn't easy.
Still, I will be at Plumpton on Sunday so if you see me, say hello.
The article in today's Racing Post focusing on the life and tactics of professional punter Neil Channing was very interesting. I may have been blogging about horseracing for 8 years (writing over 1000 blogs), and I may have been profitable with my selections over that long period - but there's no way I would consider myself to be a professional punter.  As Channing points out in the article, the sums involved would be considerable: I calculated a few years ago that to obtain a £40,000 annual profit on my selections I would need to be placing about £2,500 on each selection and have a "bank" of 20 times that about, ie £50,000. 
As such, I will continue as an educated and informed recreational punter.     

Thursday 13 September 2018

Which horses will be the stars of the 2018-19 Jumps season?

The coming jumps season looks to have a feel of being wide open with no one horse having dominance over a particular division.

For the Champion Hurdle over 2-mile it can be safely said that the 2017 & 2018 winner Buveur D'Air does not look to be the strongest contender going into 2019, and he could well succumb to a challenger. My immediate thought was that the horse he just beat at Cheltenham last March MELON could well step-up and find another 5-7lb to make him a realistic challenger, however he is yet to win a Grade 1 hurdle. As such, it is likely that the winner of the 2019 Champion hurdle will be one of last season's top novices, and the Cheltenham Festival winning pair of SUMMERVILLE BOY and SAMCRO come immediately to mind. On official ratings there is not much between them with Samcro on OR158 and Summerville Boy on OR156. What may be more informative is that Samcro won his Cheltenham race with a speed figure of 133 whereas Summerville Boy recorded a speed figure of 142. Both have only run 5 times and their current odds for the Champion Hurdle are: Samcro @ 7/1, Summerville Boy @ 14/1.  I think they both have tremendous chances at this point, and a 60/40 split-stake on the pair taking those odds looks a decent ploy.

When considering the Cheltenham Gold Cup the first place to start is with the previous running - not to find the winner but to identify those unlikely to win in 2019.  Winning a Gold Cup takes a superlative effort and only a very special horse is able to return and repeat the feat. Since Arkle won his hat trick of victories, only 2 horses have done it - L'Escargot and Best Mate (who did it twice). Kauto Star won 2 Gold Cups but not in successive years. As much as I like NATIVE RIVER he will do well to repeat the feat as we've not yet seen whether this enormous effort will have left its mark.  MIGHT BITE will be a 10yo in 2019, and that's too old to win a Gold Cup. As for the 3rd placed ANIBALE FLY he just doesn't look good enough. So, who are the possible contenders? The obvious place to start is with PRESENTING PERCY; he looked easily the best staying novice chaser of last season, he is currently the 6/1 fav and he loves Cheltenham. Certainly, Presenting Percy looked the part when winning the RSA Novice Chase at Cheltenham, and my only concern about that race is the speed figure, which suggests it was a bit slow. Also in that race was AL BOUM PHOTO who fell 2-out when certainly not out of the race, and subsequent efforts suggest he'd have pushed the winner.  At the moment Al Boum Photo is 33/1 and that looks very interesting, as I cannot see any of the other novice chasers from 2017-18 stepping-up into serious Gold Cup contenders at this stage - and I include his stablemate FOOTPAD in that assessment.  So far unbeaten as a chaser, the Arkle winner Footpad did not look like he stayed 3-mile in his only attempt at the trip as a hurdler, and I think he looks too good at 2-mile to contemplate a step-up in trip unless he is uncompetitive when facing 2-mile Champion Chaser ALTIOR.  It could be that this season is another when we see a novice chaser come to the fore in the manner Coneygree did in 2014-15.  The horses that have the potential to do that are BLACK OP and TOPOFTHEGAME, but looking for a potential Gold Cup winner from a novice chaser at this time of the season is a real guessing game.  Getting a horse to the Cheltenham Festival is a feat in itself, so I have no problem in taking odds about 2 or 3 in any of the championship races at this stage, and the 6/1 about Presenting Percy looks decent if he continues to progress, and the 33/1 about Al Boum Photo looks very generous.

My bread & butter profits will be made on the staying handicap chasers and looking at the results towards the end of last season, I'm warming to the chances of BEWARE THE BEAR.  He ran 4th in the Ultima Handicap Chase over 3m1f which was a great effort as he was a long way off the pace at one stage. His 8yo peer-group are a tremendous set of handicappers, but Beware The Best is very lightly raced for his age with just 8 chase starts and only 13 races in all under rules. The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury could be too quick for him to win as he's likey to fall too far behind, but if he goes for it he's sure to be staying on strong. A better race for him could be the 3m3f Grade 3 Chase run at Cheltenham on Bet.Victor Chase day in mid-November. That would set him up for another bid in the Welsh National. He does go well off a long break having won both his seasonal debuts as a chaser. I can see him going well at Aintree in the Grand National in 2019 (currently 50/1 for that) as the fences are much easier to jump these days which will compensate for his (sometimes) erratic jumping. He starts the season on OR148 and that's a generous mark for him as he has a bit of class, and he could easily end  the season rated 155+.

Another who could do well this year is LABEL DES OBEAUX who ran 6th in the Scottish National last April of OR147.  Although he's not won since April 2017, last season he raced mostly off OR151+ and now he has slipped down to OR146 which is 2lb below his last winning rating. He didn't really stay 4-mile LTO, but he ran well enough to suggest he has a good win in him off OR146. Dropped to a 3-mile trip on a RH track (Ascot) so long as the ground is not soft he should have a winning opportunity.  His trainer Alan King reckons he goes best right-handed and as he showed when he won at Ayr in April 2016 and the Ascot meeting on the 1st Saturday in November has the Grade 3 Sodexo 3-mile handicap chase which could be perfect for him.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Proposals for the 2018-19 Jumps season

It is that time of year again when I look back at the previous jumps season and the performance of the blog, and what I propose to do with the blog for the coming jumps season.   One of the things I like about the blog is that it gives me the opportunity to go back and read what I was thinking on a particular day - and sometimes it does not make good reading.

Last year I was reflecting on a difficult 2016-17 season when I advised only 6 winners from 55 selections - and of those selections 9 ran 2nd. As a result, my performance resulted in the 1st losing jumps season for the blog since I started writing it in March 2010.  It wasn't a huge lose, just £40.87 on stakes of £609.00 or 6.70% - but a loss is a loss.  My thoughts at the time attributed the loss as due to struggling to find the time to conduct the form study, and then to write the blog, to make it all worthwhile.  As such, I decided to scale back and reduce the burden by writing the blog only once or twice a week during the jumps season.

Overall, I think the strategy worked well, and during the season I advised a number of good winners. Because of the reduced number of blogs that I intended writing, I did not take any donations for the blog email service.  Also, as I was not seeking donations for the regular emails, I made the blog free to all, with the option for the reader to make a donation for any winners should they occur or if the reader thought the blog was worthy of a donation.  For the jumps seasons 2010-11 to 2016-17 all the selections were recorded and the performance noted: the performance is under the title of the blog: 
"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%".
In my opinion, that says it all - my betting strategy results in a long term profit.  

For the coming season, the blog will remain "free-to-all" and when published I will advice the fact via twitter. As the reduced blogging strategy worked well last season, that will also continue. I think I've as good, if not one of the best, handles on the form of the top staying chasers in the UK and Ireland and I will be endeavouring to make use of that knowledge on the antepost lists throughout the season. 

If things pan-out as I expect, this could be the last jumps season for the blog as regular readers know it. Life moves on and I'm getting older.  Maybe it's me, but I think 2019 will be a very testing year for everyone in the UK.  My profession is as a Quantity Surveyor in the construction industry and I've been doing the job since March 1980 - that's over 38 years. In that time the job has changed almost completely, and my daily tasks now are unrecognisable from my daily tasks when I was in my early 20's. With each new contract (I am a freelancer, and have been since 2002), the role I fulfil becomes more and more isolated with the main form of communication being just the laptop on my desk.  As someone who loved the banter, chat and personal relationships of the "old-style" construction site, I'm starting to feel like a fish out of water, and I really cannot see me staying in this industry much longer.  That 2019 will likely be such a year of turmoil (and I will not mention the "B" word for fear of offending some readers), and construction is already starting to feel the strain of the changes that are coming, it could be that my movement out of the industry will be forced upon me.  

If that happens (and I reckon it is odds-on) then, following the 2019 Grand National, it will be my intention to create a website featuring my thoughts, opinion, ratings and advice on horseracing - but some of those elements will only be available (before the event) to subscribers.

I'm really excited about the coming jumps season, we could be in for a cracker!