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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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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.