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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