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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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Thursday 30 December 2021

Thursday 30th December 2021 - 10 weeks till the greatest show on earth

We are on the final countdown, in just a little over 10 weeks we will (hopefully) hear the roar of the crowd at Cheltenham heralding the start of the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the commencement of the Cheltenham Festival.  It's time to start looking in earnest at building the Cheltenham portfolio: a select set of wagers at odds much longer than can be obtained on the day of the race, about a horse that holds an outstanding chance. 

The highlight of last years portfolio was a £20 wager on Stayers' Hurdle winner Flooring Porter at 14/1, and in doing so he made a significant contribution to the profit for the blog selections. For the 3rd year in a row, I posted a profit on the week, and in 2021 it was £183.50 profit on total stakes of £237.00; that's 77.47% Return on Investment.

I'm going to try and make it 4 years of profit in 2022, but to make things a bit spicier, I'm going to try and find a "gamble": a horse to try and win over £500 for the blog. I'm looking for another "Cue Card" who I tipped to win the Ryanair Chase in 2013; or a "Coneygree" who I tipped at 12/1 to win the Gold Cup in 2015.  It's not easy finding such winners, but I'm going to try an find an outstanding candidate.

There has been some great racing over the past week, and let's take a look at some of the results and the implications. Boxing Day brought us the "King George" at Kempton, and we had a surprise winner in the Mullins-trained Tornado Flyer. It was only TF's 2nd run over 3-miles, his previous effort being when well-beaten in the Savills Chase on 28betDec 2020 behind A Plus Tard. It was a good effort in the "King George" but the race did fall apart somewhat. Both Henderson horses (Mister Fisher and Chantry House) ran stinkers; Lostintranslation isn't the horse he was before injury; Minella Indo looks to have a breathing problem; and Saint Calvados doesn't stay a yard further than 2m5f. To be honest, had Asterion Forlonge not crumpled on landing at the final fence, I think he'd have stayed-on best and won. He has had some jumping problems, as when 3rd in the "Marsh" to Chantry House that was only his 3rd completed chase race. But his handicap chase win at Punchestown in April was a cracker of a performance, and if he can complete a race (he also unseated when going easily in the "John Durkan") he is the sort who could run a massive race in either the Gold Cup or the Ryanair.  Given Asterion Forlonge looks capable of a 165+ performance, odds of 25/1 (available generally) look massive for the Gold Cup, especially when Minella Indo looks unlikely to repeat his winning performance of last March, and nothing longer than 25/1 in the betting looks capable of beating him. 

At Leopardstown on 28th Dec, A Plus Tard was beaten on-the-nod by Galvin, with good yardstick Kemboy in 3rd just under a length behind. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the run of APT; he picked-up well on the run-up to the 2nd last, then went clear into the final fence.  It was on the run-in that he was caught, and as he had the eventual winner under a hard-drive from after the 2nd-last, it is possible that APT idled in front, or that his jockey thought the race was won. Both these horses are Festival winners, so the Cheltenham hill holds no worries for either: I just feel that of the pair I'd expect A Plus Tard to win next time they meet as he has better tactical speed and can put the race out of reach of Galvin.   Also, I think APT is about 10lb better than this performance at his best (such as when he won at Haydock) and for me he is the one to beat in the Gold Cup come March.  At current odds he's 7/2 (available generally), but I cannot see him starting much shorter than 3/1 on the day (if he goes there next) so hold on before placing a wager until you can get non-runner - no bet.

Dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo is due to run at Tramore on New Years Day, and while I've already suggested that he's a decent each-way wager for a place (that was when he was 20/1; he's now best-priced at 16/1) he will be a 10yo in 2022, and I just cannot see him winning the Gold Cup in March.  I'm more tempted by Asterion Forlonge from the Mullins stable, especially as he's in the same ownership as Al Boum Photo.

Suggested Antepost Wager:
Cheltenham Gold Cup:
ASTERION FORLONGE - £5.00 eachway @ 25/1 with William Hill or Bet365, 5th odds a place 1,2,3
Ryanair Chase:
ASTERION FORLONGE - £2.50 eachway @ 16/1 with Bet Victor or Bet365, 5th odds a place 1,2,3
Total staked = £15.00

Sunday 26 December 2021

Sunday 26th December - the Boxing Day blog

Merry Christmas to readers of the blog, and let's hope today is a good one! It's the Boxing Day blog and there is a real feast of horseracing today.  Big days like this give choosy punters a host of opportunities to find a winner and make a profit.

There are going to be plenty of changed plans and so a fair-few non-runners, so review your planned wagers as some races could end-up being very easy to find the winner in.  There are meetings at Kempton, Wetherby, Sedgefield, Market Rasen, Fontwell, Huntingdon and Wincanton, as well as Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal in Ireland - so there is no need to just stick to the major, competitive races.

Some people reading this blog will be focusing on the feature race of the day, which is the "King George" Grade 1 chase at Kempton. This race takes a truly exceptional horse to win this aged 9yo or older; the last two horses to do that were Cue Card aged 9yo in 2015, and Kauto Star aged 11yo in 2011. As such, I have to go against the 9yo's Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon and Lostintranslation. The most likely winners of this race - in my opinion - are Chantry House and Minella Indo. At the official ratings, Minella Indo is head & shoulders above this field on OR175, and with 1st-time cheekpieces applied odds of 4/1 (and 9/2 with William Hill) look massive. The only "doubt" is that when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Minella Indo showed form perhaps 15lb better than he's shown in any other race - hence why he started at 9/1 for that race. Trainer de Bromhead does not send many across the Irish Sea, but when he does we should take notice.

The other race I love on Boxing Day is the "Rowland Meyrick" handicap chase at Wetherby. There is a strong field for this Grade 3 chase over 3-miles, and again the majority of winners are aged no older than 8yo (the last "older winner being the 10yo According To Pete at 33/1 in 2011). So I'm happy to omit Top Ville Ben (9yo), Lake View Lad (11yo), Takingrisks (12yo), and Windsor Avenue (9yo) from calculations. This is a step-up in trip from 2m4f for Silver Hallmark, and I think odds of 5/2 are too short to consider him for this race. For me, it's Good Boy Bobby who was only just touched-off LTO at Newcastle. I also considered Empire Steel as trainer Sandy Thomson only has 2 runners today, both at Wetherby (the other is The Ferry Master in the chase at 1:00pm), but the form for this horse is difficult to assess. The Ladbroke Trophy Chase winner Cloudy Glen usually goes best fresh, and that win was a tough race for him. 

There is an interesting mares' novice chase at Wincanton at 12:53pm over 2m4f; with just 6 runners.  The fav is Precious Eleanor, but I think this one can be opposed as she's a bit one-paced. Trainer Nicky Henderson entered 3 for this race, and sends chase debutant Fantastic Lady who is well regarded by the stable.  Jockey Tom Cannon has the ride, and he is 2 wins from 7 rides for Henderson in the past 5 years.  This is more of a speculative selection, but as Henderson has only one other runner at Wincanton with a 7lb claimer riding, there may be something in this.

I love having wagers in 3-mile hurdle races as they can be very weak contests. At Fontwell at 12:32pm 3m2f hurdle race looks like a good opportunity. Khan won at Lingfield over 2m7f beating subsequent winner Dolphin Square (who had Certainly Red well behind when they met at Newbury). Khan was 3rd to the fav Not At Present when they met LTO, and on better terms and can reverse the placings this time.  Odds of 7/2 are freely available (4/1 with Bet365).

That's my Boxing Day Yankee:
Fontwell 12:32pm KHAN @ 4/1 with Bet365 (7/2 available generally)
Wincanton 12:53pm FANTASTIC LADY @ 10/1 with Bet365 (8/1 available generally)
Wetherby 2:10pm GOOD BOY BOBBY @ 9/2 with Bet365 (9/2 available generally)
Kempton 3:05pm MINELLA INDO @ 9/2 with Bet365 (4/1 available generally)

£2 win Yankee - 11 bets - £22 staked

Friday 10 December 2021

Saturday 11th December - Racing Post (handicap) Chase at Cheltenham

Talk about feast and famine.  
Last week we had more decent racing than we knew what to do with, and we made hay! The blog looked at 6 races and found the winners of 4 at odds of 9/1, 4/1, 3/1 and 13/8 - some readers posted the outcome of some tasty multiples!
This week, we have 3 meetings at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Hereford, and (apart from the feature race at Cheltenham) I'm struggling to find a race to have a wager on. It is very disappointing.
As such, I'm sticking to the Racing Post Gold Cup (handicap) Chase over 2m 4f & 127 yards.
There are 15 runners going to post and - to be honest - the race looks weak. 
The race has been on the calendar since 1963 under various names, and in all those years the last time a horse aged 9yo or older won was in 1993 (Fragrant Dawn): so why the 9yo Lalor is the 4/1 fav at the time of writing is beyond me.  This race is won year after year by a young, under-exposed, (rapidly) improving chaser - so why should it be different in 2021? That said, I expect Lalor to be placed, but he will need a career-best effort to win this off OR151.
Silver Hallmark (odds of 6/1) has only had 3 chase races, but he has shown potential to be capable off OR145, but I feel his best form has been on softer ground than he will encounter on Saturday.
Dostal Phil (odds of 7/1) was the first horse I considered for this race, but I've passed him over as his style of racing (held-up) suggests trips of 2m6f+ will be his best; but he won't be far away.
Beakstown (odds of 8/1) has yet to win a chase, but he has been highly tried. But I don't think he's improving and the winner of this race will out-perform their official rating.
Midnight Shadow (odds of 8/1) won the "Paddy Power" LTO and went up 7lb in the handicap as a result. There have been winners of this race that have won the "Paddy Power", but not many and OR154 may well prove too much for this horse.
Farinet (odds of 8/1) was due to run in the "Paddy Power" but was withdrawn due to the ground - and he may find this ground (on the good side if good-to-soft) too lively for him to run to his best. I also think he needs to have improved +10lb on his LTO win at Sandown in March if he's to win this.
And that brings me to the horse that I think will win this: FUSIL RAFFLES (odds of 9/1). There was no disgrace in finding it impossible to concede 12lb to Bravemansgame in October; but he ran better than OR152 in the process. Then, he was the best of the finishers in the 3-mile "Charlie Hall" at Wetherby, and I think he's not a proper 3-mile chaser.  Fusil Raffles ran a cracker in the 2m4f novices Marsh Chase (Grade 1) at the Festival when 2nd to Chantry House, and I think he's a 7lb better horse on what we've seen this season.  I'll be honest; I took 10/1 with Paddy Power and Bet Victor on Thursday evening with both offering 5th odds to 4-places eachway (there are only 15 runners remember!).
The 10yo Coole Cody (odds of 9/1) was running well till falling in the "Paddy Power", but he was being ridden and he fell 2-out - and that is the sign of a tiring horse, and he's gone up 2lbs in the handicap to OR143. 
Cepage (16/1) pulled-up in this race last year on his seasonal debut; and none of the other runners look capable of featuring in the race.  Zanza (odds of 11/1) ran well in the "Paddy Power", but his last 3 wins have been at Newbury, and that's probably where he will win his next race, not undulating Cheltenham. 

I contributed to a podcast with WRAP (What's Racing About Podcast) hosted by Peter Bell and discussed the race and my thoughts on FUSIL RAFFLES on Thursday evening: 

My wager tomorrow is just on the one race:
Cheltenham 1:50pm
FUSIL RAFFLES: £5 eachway @ 9/1 (Paddy Power & Bet Victor, 5th odds 4-places)
and £5 win @ 9/1 
Total staked = £15

Saturday 4 December 2021

Saturday 4th December 2021 - Tingle Creek Chase

What a cracking day of horseracing we have this Saturday:  Aintree, Sandown, Chepstow and Wetherby; it's almost too much to contemplate.  On busy days like this, the intelligent punter holds the upper-hand, we don't have to wager - we can pick & choose our targets. What you have to watch out for is there have been a lot of non-runners declared.

Let's start with Wetherby (for a change) as there are a couple of Class 3 races there, and with all the focus on Sandown and Aintree we may find a bit of value to shop punters have chosen to ignore. The 3-mile chase at 1:37pm has just 9 runners, and we can quickly discount a few (like Minella Till Dawn, Grange Ranger & Chef D'Oeuvre).  I'm not convinced Admiral Barratry has the stamina for 3-miles, and Cobra De Mai has not run well for some time.  When they met in April-19, "Cobra" beat Rocky's Treasure, but "Rocky" has held his form better since then winning a Class 2 at Doncaster in Dec-20 off OR138. That's 6lb higher than his current rating, but his recent races have been poor efforts.  However it is interesting that 5lb claimer Harrison Beswick has the ride as he's worth his claim. Sirwilliamwallace is another whose stamina is unproven at 3-mile; so the race looks between the LTO winners Castle Robin and Saint Palais - and I tend more for the latter who won well over 2m7f LTO.  Rocky's Treasure could be an interesting eachway as he's 20/1 (available generally), or place-only wager though.  I'm not interested in the Class 3, 2-mile hurdle race there.

Chepstow has a strong card of races, headed by the Class 2 handicap Chase over 2m7f & 131yards at 1:22pm.  The topweight Truckers Lodge goes well fresh and though he's a C&D winner, this trip looks a bit short for him as he's been running well in marathon chases. The 9yo Run To Milan does not have many miles on the clock, and he looks unexposed at this trip. He was a promising novice hurdler, and he could be a rapid improver this season having run well on his seasonal debut on 02Nov.  Eclair Surf was going well until falling LTO, but it is a concern that both his wins have come on heavy ground; he's one for when the rain comes.  Colorado Doc is not guaranteed to stay the trip; and the jumping of Iwilldoit fell apart when he last ran in a chase. As such, I'm surprised that Supreme Escape is 20/1: he may be 4lb out of the handicap, but he's 2 from 5 at Chepstow winning on good and heavy ground, and he's also a 3-mile hurdle winner at Doncaster. I can forgive him his run in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April, and it's likely he need his run LTO at Aintree in a 3-mile hurdle. He may not win this, but he's an interesting place-only wager (Skybet are 18/1 4-places ew). The most likely winner looks to be RUN TO MILAN in my opinion, and there's lots of 13/2 available.

At Sandown, there is a top-class card, and the Grade 1 novice chase before the "Tingle Creek" looks a belter.  At this time of the season, it does not pay to go-in too heavy as improvement in novice chasers can be rapid; that said, I do like the chance of Edwardstone to overturn the fav Third Time Lucki here. At Cheltenham, I thought TTL was fortunate to hold onto the race as last-fence-faller Captain Tom Cat was staying-on strong. Last season, Edwardstone was the better hurdler, and on level terms in this I'm seeing 11/4 (he was 7/2 yesterday afternoon) on him as better value than 9/4 on the fav.

In the Tingle Creek, my thoughts are we should see Chancun Pour Soi, Greaneteen and Nube Negra coming to the final fence align-abreast.  Greaneteen was disappointing LTO at Exeter, but a repeat of his win at Sandown in April puts him bang in here - so long as his jumping holds-up as that has let him down in the past. Not faults on that score for Chancun Pour Soi, who (possibly) ran too quickly after winning at the Dublin Festival Grade 1 when running 3rd in th QMCC at the Cheltenham Festival. He goes well fresh, and he should put in a faultless display, but will that be enough to beat Nube Negra? Forget his run at the Punchestown Festival, NUBE NEGRA ran 2nd (beating Chancun Pour Soi) at Cheltenham, and his seasonal debut win last month puts his in the driving seat in my opinion. Odds of 100/30 look very attractive to me.

In the "London National" at 3:00pm, a race over an extended 3m4f, the horse that looks the most likely winner to me is the top-weight Highland Hunter. Trainer Paul Nicholls knows he has a decent marathon chaser in his stable in this one, and he improved every run last season.  The form of the Midlands National at Uttoxeter is looking strong, and I was expecting to see a market move for this one.  As such, he's still available at 9/1 (with William Hill offering 4-places ew), and that looks cracking value in a race that looks fairly weak.  It could be one helluva day for Paul Nicholls.

It is not difficult to see Protektorat winning the "Many Clouds" Grade 2 chase over 3m1f at 2:05pm at Aintree and I cannot believe that he's available at 100/30 (and 7/2 with William Hill).

That looks enough races to be taking into consideration today. My wagers are going to be:
Chepstow 1:22pm RUN TO MILAN @ 13/2
Sandown 3:00pm HIGHLAND HUNTER @ 9/1
£5.00 eachway double with William Hill 

Aintree 2:05pm PROTEKTORAT: £10.00 win @ 7/2 with William Hill

Sunday 28 November 2021

Cloudy Glen takes the Ladbroke Trophy

It could have been a glorious Saturday, but it was not to be.  I went through the runners of the Ladbroke Trophy Chase, and came-up with 5 likely winners:-
Cloth Cap: 12/1 (Betfred 6-places), or 11/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Remastered: 14/1 (Paddy Power 6-places), or 12/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Copperhead: 18/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Canelo: 33/1 (7-places with William Hill)
Cloudy Glen: 33/1 (7-places with Skybet)
I totally ignored the top of the betting market, which was focused on the Irish-trained entries; the main reason being is this race requires a bit of experience to win, and none of the Irish-trained entries had the form showing that. As it turned-out, the fav Eklat De Rire was the subject of a major gamble and went off at odds of  just 3/1 - and ran an absolute stinker being pulled-up after jumping the 16th of 21 fences.  And there was some major plugging of this horse before the race by celebrity tipsters calling the horse a "monster" and suggesting anything other than a win was out of the question.
So, what of those on my shortlist?
Canelo was the worst performer: he never really got going and pulled-up along with Eklat De Rire.  Copperhead was up with the leaders until the 16th fence which he blundered at; and that mistake knocked the stuffing out of him. He pulled-up after jumping the 19th fence, but this was a good run and a drop back to a trip around 2m6f should see him win again off this handicap mark.
Last years' winner Cloth Cap ran a cracker as expected. He led the field at a strong pace until 4-out and stayed-on to be 6th. Absolutely nothing lost in defeat here, and he looks poised to win a decent handicap this season - could that be the Grand National in April?
Remastered: what can I say? He was "in-the-van" throughout, came up alongside the eventual winner at the 4-last fence where his young jockey asked for a big one - and he tipped-up on landing.  I thought at that point he was the most obvious winner, but nothing is guaranteed in horseracing! It did look a bad fall, but he was soon up on his feet, and trainer David Pipe was quick to post that the horse appeared to have suffered no ill effects.  He is clearly a lot better than his OR146 mark.
If I'd known that more prominent tactics would be employed with Cloudy Glen, then I'd have made him a firm selection as he was clearly well-handicapped on OR140 as he ran 2nd off that rating in the "Kim Muir" at the Cheltenham Festival in March.  He'd not been ridden prominently in a chase for almost 2 years, yet he won 3 of his last 4 hurdle races making-all. Knowing how well he stayed, I knew he was sure to go close when he jumped the 16th fence (about 6f from the finish) alongside the then leader Cloth Cap - at which point 3 of the 1st-4 were horses on my shortlist. He is a bit quirky, so there is no telling what he might do next time, but if similar tactics are employed then there is no reason he can't run well again.  The from pair were a long way clear of the 3rd horse and this form looks strong. 
Given that the horse that beat him in the Kim Muir - Mount Ida - is only rated OR152, it would not surprise me to see that one figure strongly in the betting on the Grand National.
The runner-up Fiddlerontheroof ran a great race, but he could not pass the winner on the run-in and so probably isn't a Grade 1 chaser (yet); but this was a mighty boost of the RSA form in which he was 2nd to Monkfish (and also - indirectly - to Bravemansgame via Pay The Piper).

I was very nearly right with the Rehearsal Chase too, but opted for Spiritofthegames over the eventual winner Aye Right.  I thought Spiritofthegames would relish this trip but no, he looks to have dropped in ability based on his two races this season and may now have to lower his sights.  As for Aye Right, he just had to match the best form of last season to win this, he's a rock-solid 150-152 chaser so if the handicapper raises his rating from OR151 then he will have difficulty winning again in a handicap. But he is super consistent and resolute, and I expect him to be placed next time in the "Slybet" Chase at Doncaster as he was last season.
I hope you had a great day of sport on Saturday, and maybe next time we can nail a big priced winner.

Friday 26 November 2021

Saturday 27th November - Ladbrokes Trophy H'cap Chase

We have one of the best chase handicaps of the jumps season this weekend in the Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase at Newbury. Always run at a strong pace, and always a race that produces good winners; and this year looks like being one of the better editions.

Before I go on: I discussed the race and my thoughts on the likely winner on the WRAP (What's Racing About Podcast) hosted by Peter Bell: here is the link

 https://www.buzzsprout.com/1811838/9615280  The plan is to have a chat with Peter maybe once or twice a month, and to try and find a few decent winners and entertain the listener at the same time.

There are 21 runners going to post, and while I don't want to go through them all, the market leaders look a bit short in the market to me. I'd be surprised if On The Ropes can win this off OR153 even if he is trained by Willie Mullins, and while Eklat De Rire appears to have more potential, he finished tired LTO and I wonder if he has the stamina for a race like this. Ditto Fiddlerontheroof, stamina isn't proven. 
Those that I think will be involved for the final half-mile are:-
Cloth Cap: last year's winner (off OR136) and still fairly handicapped on OR154, he is likely to be in the places.  Remastered: a strong stayer and well prepared for this race having had a prep-run over hurdles.  I like this horse a lot and his OR146 rating gives him scope to go well.  Copperhead: a bit of a punt as to consider him you have to draw a line through last season, when his stable was under a cloud. Now Joe Tizzard is trainer in-all-but-name, this horse could revert back to his novice chase form which would make him very attractive off OR148. Canelo: won the "Rowland Meyrick" on Boxing Day off OR142, and has done nothing wrong since, but now is back on that winning rating. He could be the sort to grind out a win in this race if weather conditions turn nasty. Finally, Cloudy Glen: ran a top race when 2nd in the Kim Muir, and while I can't see him winning, he could pass a lot of beaten horses in the final half-mile and sneak into 4th or 5th place. Most bookies are going 5th odds a place, and paying-out on 6 places; and Skybet and William Hill are paying 7-places.
The best odds available are:
Cloth Cap: 12/1 (Betfred 6-places), or 11/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Remastered: 14/1 (Paddy Power 6-places), or 12/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Copperhead: 18/1 (7-places with Skybet & William Hill)
Canelo: 33/1 (7-places with William Hill)
Cloudy Glen: 33/1 (7-places with Skybet)

My advice:
Remastered: £5 eachway @ 14/1 (Paddy Power 6-places)
Canelo: £2.50 eachway @ 33/1 (7-places with William Hill)
Copperhead: £2.50 eachway @ 18/1 (7-places with Skybet)
Total staked = £20.00

Up at Newcastle, the Rehearsal Chase over 3-miles at 2:05pm looks very interesting. For me, two horses jump out: Aye Right and Spiritofthegames.  Aye Right was 2nd in the Ladbrokes Trophy last year, so coming here instead looks a good pointer, but I feel he may find his rating of OR151 too much to win off in this competitive field. As such, Spiritofthegames looks the one to be on; he stays 3-miles (provided the ground isn't soft) and he looks very well handicapped on OR141.  He always runs his race, and is very consistent, and odds of 6/1 (available generally, 4-places eachway), look fair. 
Newcastle 2:05pm - Spiritofthegames - £5.00 eachway @ £6/1 (Skybet 5-places)

Sunday 21 November 2021

A 16/1 winner for the blog!

 A great result yesterday, with JERSEY BEAN - advised in the morning at 9/1 - drifting out to an SP of 16/1 (I just missed 18/1 about a minute before the off). Those odds were a bit daft considering the horse had everything in his favour: trip, ground, fitness, a course winner, and he's a prominent runner too.  My morning thought was that he'd go off around 7/1, and with 4-places available from some bookies in this 11-runner race, I just could not see how having a wager on him eachway would not result in small profit at least.  This is why - in my opinion - it pays to think about how you wager: always remember you are in control and you should ONLY have a wager when you think the odds are in your favour. Add that JB was Oliver Sherwood's only runner yesterday, and 4 of his last 8 runners have won or placed in the past week, and there was no reason that this horse - who has improved with nearly every run he's had over fences - should have been 16/1.

I thought, about a mile out in the Betfair Chase, that I had a chance of another winning wager on Royale Pagaille, but he was thoroughly put in his place by A PLUS TARD.  It is difficult to rate a performance when the winner finishes like he did yesterday; all I can do is say that APT ran to his official rating of OR172, and that this was a better performance than his Gold Cup 2nd last March - and it should be, as at 7yo he's still improving.  Having re-read my own blog yesterday, the wager I should have recommended was a £5 win wager on Royale Pagaille at 9/1 and a £5 Straight Forecast: APT to beat RP as that paid £9.01 to a £1.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but a mental note to me and the readers - do not ignore the Forecast option.

At Ascot, I placed a speculative wager on Defi Du Seuil but, without a doubt now, the horse is a shadow of his former self. It was good to see Lostintranslation win again, but I'm not excited by this result and it was a fairly ordinary performance.

I was more impressed with BOB OLINGER winning in Ireland as that race has been won by some top-class novice chasers and Bob Olinger won this without breaking sweat.

Saturday 20 November 2021

Saturday 20th November - Betfair Chase

It was a great day at Cheltenham last Saturday, all that was missing was a winning wager!
Over the day I met up with friends old and new, and discussed a potential new branch for the blog - more of that when the thought develops into reality.

I will be honest, I think today's cards are fairly poor for a Saturday in November, and that is almost certainly due to the lack of rain around the country.  There are quite a few of my alert list horses running today, and I will pass on those that I think have a decent chance: but first the feature race of the day - The Betfair Chase at Haydock.

Just 7-runners go to post as Next Destination is a non-runner.  This looks a weak renewal, and I think if Bristol De Mai wins then while that result may bring a few tears, it will demonstrate how weak the race is. We have a couple of dodgy 3-milers in Imperial Aura and Waiting Patiently, and I do not expect either of them to win this, and Chatham Street Lad is outclassed.  Clondaw Castle was well exposed at Aintree in April, and looked no better in the Charlie Hall Chase 3-weeks ago. Now while I do not expect Bristol De Mai to win today, he will run his usual race; so a +160 performance will be needed to win this, and there are only 2 horses in this race capable of doing that over this trip: A Plus Tard and Royale Pagaille.
A Plus Tard ran 2nd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so he is (on form) the best horse in this race - but he's ran well below his best on his seasonal reappearance for the last 3 seasons, so why will he be different today when his ultimate target is not this race, but the Gold Cup in March?  That leaves C&D winner Royal Pagaille, who is 3-months younger than APT and at 7yo is the youngest in this race. It is a "punt" but all Royale Pagaille has to do is have improved 7lb over the summer and he is bang in there.  Ignore his Gold Cup effort, the ground was far too quick for him and his jumping fell to pieces.  I'm on at 8/1.

Earlier in the card, I have a soft spot for Jersey Bean who runs in the 12:40pm over 3m4f.  This sort of trip is up his street and being a prominent runner, he's going to be in control of the pace. 

At Ascot, there is only one horse that I'm interested in: Defi Du Seuil - can he make a comeback? If he is anywhere near his best (and I mean within 10lb) then he will win this race. If he can't win this, then there really is no future for him and maybe a switch to hurdles is required.

That's it from me for today: 
Haydock 12:40pm JERSEY BEAN - £5 eachway @ 9/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3,4 PaddyPower)
Haydock 3:00pm  ROYALE PAGAILLE - £10 win @ 9/1 (PaddyPower)
Ascot 2:05pm DEFI DU SEUIL - £5 win @ 100/30 (PaddyPower)

Friday 12 November 2021

Friday 12th November - Paddy Power weekend

With a planned attendance at Cheltenham on Saturday for me, my first Cheltenham race meeting since March 2020, I have written the weekend blog earlier than usual as on Saturday morning I will be driving from Brighton to Cheltenham. If you see me there, be sure to say hello.

The day opens with the Triumph Hurdle Trial at 12:30pm, and this Grade 2 race can be a good pointer to the Festival, and has been won by some decent horses in past years. I will wait to see what the betting is like on the day, as I usually find the value in a race such as this is in the "place-only" market on the Tote.

The 3m1f Class 3 handicap chase for Amateur jockeys at 1:05pm is more to my liking, and with 8 of the last 9 winners carrying over 11st (those under 11st are 1 win from 48 runners), I'm focusing on the top of the handicap.  The Irish-trained Mindsmadeup has won his 3 races (23 runs) going right-handed, so he's out at left-handed Cheltenham. The 12yo Dawson City won LTO and that was probably his win for the season. The 7yo Milanford is interesting, but also an unknown quantity.  His rider isn't too bad, wins a few races, and he could be the sort to cause a surprise. Minella Encore looks too slow to win a race like this, and I'm not sure he has the stamina either. Another Venture could be the one to be on: having his debut for Nicky Henderson, he won well off a 209-day break last season over 3-mile at Ludlow making virtually all, and that sort of performance will see him be tough to beat in this race. Plan Of Attack was 4th in the "Kim Muir" in March 2020, but hasn't looked the same horse since then, although he wasn't going too badly last year in the same race till falling 3-out; and trainer Henry De Bromhead has booked Gina Andrews for the ride and she is one of the better riders in the race.  Forza Milan looks as slow as a boat; and I very much doubt that top-weight Opposites Attract has the stamina for this race. 

The feature race of the day is at 2:15pm; the Paddy Power Gold Cup handicap over 2m4f. This field looks like making the race a classic, plenty of potential winners. From the top; Simply The Betts loves Cheltenham, but only ran in this race last season when 6th to Coole Cody. It's a big ask but if he's fit he could be thereabouts off OR154. A big field will be a new experience for the 6yo Protektorat, but he is also weighted to go close off OR154, he could be very interesting to follow this season. Back in 2016, I was on Aso at 16/1 for this race, and had he not hit the 2nd-last hard he'd probably have won that year off OR144 with a 5lb claimer as by the end of the season he was on OR156. He's not the horse he was tho' and I can't see him being in the picture.  Before he won LTO, I wrote that I could not understand how Paint The Dream had not won more races, and then he won in convincing style. He's up 5lb to OR152, but I think he has a great chance if he copes with the big field.
Last year, Al Dancer was 3rd in this race off OR154, and this year he's running off OR149 and having his 1st run for trainer Sam Thomas. On the back of that, he started fav for the Caviar Gold Cup here in December, but was hampered by a faller mid-race and had no chance. He has a helluva chance. 
Lalor makes his debut for Paul Nicholls and has been dropped to a mark of OR149, a rating he is more than capable of winning this from, and he's a very lightly-raced 9yo.
I'm not that impressed with Caribean Boy, as he struggled in the "Plate" handicap chase at the Festival behind The Shunter.  Midnight Shadow hasn't won since beating Paint The Dream on 01Jan20, but hasn't improved since that race, unlike Paint The Dream.
One of my favourite horses is Spiritofthegames, ever since he caught my eye at the "Trials" meeting when 3rd over C&D to Kildisart off OR146 back in Jan2019, he has threatened to win a race like this - yet apart from winning his debut novice chase he is winless in his 13 starts (16 including hurdle races) since then! On his best form, he wins this by 4-lengths, but will he?
Another that I think will go well is Manofthemountain: yes, he was 2nd LTO to Paint The Dream, but now he's 5lb better-off and this C&D will bring out the best in him, especially as he has the stamina for 3-miles. He looks a massive price for an eachway wager. 
Zanza went into my notebook LTO when 3rd t Exeter in the Haldon Gold Cup, but I expected him to go to Newbury next, as his record at Cheltenham is UP/UP/F/PU. 
Dostal Phil has potential, as he's only had 5 chase runs, but he's not the best jumper of a fence and his stamina for this trip is unknown.  No such worries with last year's winner Coole Cody, but he's a 10yo now and hasn't repeated that winning effort since. 
Up The Straight is another interesting contender: just 7yo and not jut on  tempting rating of OR138 but with capable 5lb claimer Tabitha Worsley in the saddle.  Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see my local trainer Nick Gifford win this race with Belargus, but his best form is going right-handed, and he has fallen a few times. If Dyrann De Carjac was in the form of his novice chase days he would be a steal off OR137, but he's clearly had issues and his recent races suggest he may struggle.
If the Irish raider Funky Dady is involved in the finish, then we may as well all give up and take up tiddlywinks; he looks slow and more likely to be puled-up tailed-off. Galahad Quest is more interesting but he's only a 5yo and this may be beyond him.  You can never ignore the horses of Venetia Williams and her Farinet may only be a 6yo, but he looks to have lots of potential: can he win this?
And finally, there is Nietzche: who is sitting dangerously low in the handicap having sneaked into the race off OR133.  This trip is right up his street.

What a race!  I cannot make up my mind, and will likely have a punt on several in the race: probably Al Dancer (13/2); Nietzche (16/1); Manofthemountain (22/1); and Spiritofthegames (18/1). 

My wager of the day will be on PLAN OF ATTACK @ 7/1 in the 1:05pm

Saturday 6 November 2021

Saturday 6th November 2021 - Aintree

We have some top-class racing from Aintree and Wincanton today, with supporting meetings at Fontwell and Kelso over the jumps.  I have a stack of horses from my alert list running today, and I will try and mention as many as possible that have winning chances. 

At Aintree, the 3-mile handicap hurdle at 1:08pm brings us the seasonal debut of Remastered, and I can see this horse having a big season - but not over hurdles. He was just below top-class last season but then he only had 4 chase runs and there's loads of potential in him. 

At 2:15pm, we have the feature race in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over 2m5f over the National fences. Of the 13 that go to post, there are 2 on my alert list: Senior Citizen (who I tipped to win LTO) and the exciting Midlands National winner Time To Get Up. I don't think Aintree will suit Time To Get Up, and this trip is too short for him, but he's on a great handicap mark of OR144.  I think Senior Citizen will be tough to beat in this race, as he ran well over C&D in April coming 3rd off OR137 and so OR139 and being in better form suggests he has a winning chance. There's plenty of 4/1 about, with Bet365 going 9/2 and Bet Victor at 5/1, and odds of 5/1 look generous given the lack of opposition. 

Later in the afternoon at 3:20pm, from my alert list is the 6yo Wilde About Oscar, and he may not be the best-off at the weights in this race on known form to-date, but he could end up once of the best staying hurdlers by the end of the season. 

At Wincanton, the feature race is the Badger Beer Handicap Chase over 3-mile at 3:00pm. Last year, the 1st-2 were separated by a short-head and they return to do battle again: El Presente and Potterman. The fav for the race is Cap Du Nord, who is a horse who runs well but rarely finishes in front: on form, he should win, but will he?  Potterman always goes best when fresh, and he wasn't fresh last season in this having had a run at Chepstow a few weeks earlier, so this year he looks well-set for a bold run, and odds of 12/1 (4-places) with Bet Victor looks generous in this 13-runner race.

At Kelso, from my alert list is Doyen Breed, a 6yo with Sandy Thomson, who looks better than average and one to keep an eye on. He runs in the 3m2f hurdle at 1:35pm and he ran a stonker over C&D last season, so he should be capable of winning this.  Odds of 5/2 are fair as he could easily start at 7/4 in this race.  

I didn't put up a winner last weekend: and I would like to rectify that this weekend - as it's my birthday weekend: I'm 62yo on Monday 8th.  So, my main selection is DOYEN BREED at 5/2 (available generally).  Trainer, Alan King is doing really well and he could have a cracking day of racing: so I'm also having a small eachway double on SENIOR CITIZEN at Aintree  POTTERMAN at Wincanton.  Bet Victor offer 5/1 on Senior Citizen (4-places) and 11/1 on Potterman (4-places) and I'm on.

Sunday 31 October 2021

Sunday 31st October 2021

 Is it time to confine Cyrname to the 2m5f trip at Ascot? Or do we just forget about him altogether? There is obviously something wrong with him either physically or mentally, and (as he qualifies for "veterans" races on 1st January 2022 when he becomes a 10yo) maybe it's time to stop thinking of him as the "best chaser in training"?  As for Shan Blue, this was looking like a very exciting winning performance until he fell at the 3rd-last fence.  If he goes to Newbury for the Ladbrokes Trophy on OR148 then he must have one helluva chance.  And we managed to nick a few quid with the 4-place eachway wager on Mighty Thunder who plodded-on to be 4th: he was always going to finish the race and I did expect him to beat Clondaw Castle (who isn't a graded chaser given the way he was swept aside by Clan Des Obeaux at Aintree in April), but 4th was good enough. 

Over at Ascot, there was a cracking day of racing.  Unfortunately, after noting Nassalam on the blog, I didn't put him down as a selection, and he only went and won. I don't think he's the sort of chaser who could be graded class, but he should continue to be competitive in handicaps.  And then I was disappointed in myself for not being on Soaring Glory in the handicap hurdle, as he was on my alert list after winning the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, and I think we can draw a line through his run in the Supreme Hurdle at the Festival in March.  This horse looks like he's going places to me. 

My selection Editeur Du Gite set a punishing pace in the 2m1f Listed handicap chase, and had nothing left to give from 2-out, and then badly blundered at the final fence losing his rider. This was a tremendous effort though, and on a left-handed track he will be worth following NTO. It was an intelligent ride by Bridget Andrews on the eventual winner Amoola Gold, as she sat well-off the pace and let this field run itself ragged on the stamina-sapping ground.   

Saturday 30 October 2021

Saturday 30th October 2021 - Charlie Hall Chase (G2)

The first big Saturday of the jumping season, with some top-class racing at Wetherby and Ascot.  At Wetherby, the ground will likely be more soft than good-to-soft as there are showers forecast through the day. The main focus will be on the Charlie Hall Chase (G2) at 3:05pm run over 3-miles. 

The race-fav is last years winner Cyrname, and if he decides to turn-up then he should easily win this race - but will he come to the party?  With odds of 7/4 available, I'd be tempted to bet on 2 in this race: Cyrname at 7/4 and another, just in case. Next best at the race conditions is Shan Blue who won over C&D at this meeting (on the Friday) last year when taking the novice race. He will need to settle better than he has to be involved in this race, and he may be one for another day.  So, I'm pushing the boat out and going for the Scottish National winner Mighty Thunder: there's odds of 40/1 available, and Bet365 go 18/1 for 4-places, which looks massive to me.

Earlier on the card at Wetherby, the Mares' hurdle over 2-mile at 1:55pm could well go to Zambella who looks chucked-in back over hurdles in the conditions of this Listed race.  Odds of 11/2 (available generally) look fair to me.

The Ascot meeting is one of my early season favourites as the track is a fair one in my opinion and has a good standard of races. The opening novice chase over 2m3f could be one for the notebook: some great prospects in this and one from my alert list if the Gary Moore trained Nassalam

I will also be looking forward to watching the Listed handicap over 2m1f at 2:45pm: this looks an absolute cracker on paper.  Gary Moore could well be in the winners' enclosure again with Editeur Du Gite who looks on the upgrade and well-handicapped on OR140 and I expected this one to be the fav for this race, so odds of 7/1 (there's been a big moved for the Venetia Williams trained Frero Banbou) look very attractive, especially as Skybet go 4-places eachway.

The London Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 3:20pm over 3-miles was won by Vinndication in 2019, and he goes for a repeat today. If he's in the same form as when he chased home Cyrname at Wetherby in the "Charlie Hall" on this day last year, then there's no reason he can't win this again. He may have most to fear from old adversary Jerrysback, who goes well at Ascot and is probably best caught 1st-time-out. At his best, Jerrysback is much better than OR138 and if Hobbs has him firing then he could appear late on the scene and snatch victory. Odds of 7/1 for 4-places look fair to me. 

Ascot 2:45pm - EDITEUR DU GITE - £5 eachway @ 7/1 (Skybet 5th odds a place 1,2,3,4)
Ascot 3:20pm - JERRYSBACK - £5 eachway @ 7/1 
(William Hill & Bet Victor, 5th odds a place 1,2,3,4)

Wetherby 3:05pm 
CYRNAME - £10 win @ 7/4 (available generally)
MIGHTY THUNDER - £5 eachway @ 18/1 (Bet365 5th odds a placed 1,2,3,4)

Sunday 24 October 2021

Sunday 24th October 2021 - Aintree

No luck at all yesterday, with a poor effort from Jersey Bean, and while Fortescue did run well - and I thought he held a winning chance with a fine jump at the 3rd-last fence, his effort petered-out and both probably will come on for the run.

My assessment of the 3m2f chase at Cheltenham was completely wrong. The only horse that I was right about was Cloth Cap, who looks vastly over-rated at OR156. The runner-up yesterday The Hollow Ginge is an unpredictable sort as since his last win in Jan-2020 (21 months ago) he's run 7 times (including yesterday) and he's not completed the course in 5 of those races - yet when he does he's competitive.  He was on a "going" day yesterday, and I reckon he ran to his official rating of 137.  If the handicapper puts him up a few pounds then he's no chance going forward. 

What to make of the winner, the Gordon Elliott trained 9yo, Definite Plan? 
Let's be honest here: he had no chance on the formbook running off OR131.  He was beaten over 3-mile on 7th August at Kilbeggan, and while the winner of that race hasn't run since, nothing beaten that day is of any merit. Definite Plan ran again on 2nd October, but again could only run 2nd, and that was only due to the race-fav falling 3-out when going like the winner. 
The horse had no right to win this race, and had no right to start at odds of 9/2 as I had him at about 16/1 in my book - I'd rated him at minus-10lb .  
There should have Stewards Enquiry into the improvement in form, forget the odds the horse went off at, as there was nothing in the formbook to merit those odds.  The jockey's post-race quote of "we would have been happy with 5th or 6th" is bunkum - the stable knew, hence the odds on-course.  Some may call this an "old-fashioned gamble", but this sort of tactic just brings horseracing into disrepute. Gordon Elliott really knows how to get the best from his horses, he is one of the best in the game, but he should not take the piss from the formbook like this - otherwise the punter will make every horse he runs in Britain a 6/4 fav "just in case".

I'm just looking at one race today at Aintree: the 3:00pm Old Roan Chase (I used to enjoy drinking in the Old Roan pub - now closed). The race fav is the 5yo Allmankind, and he is probably destined for Group 1 glory at sometime this season, but I think he will struggle to give weight away in this race. While last years' winner Nuts Well tries to repeat and comes here having won LTO, I think he will struggle on these race conditions; for instance Itchy Feet was 3rd in this race last year (btn 2.50 lengths) and is 9lb better-off. The race distance of 2m4f will expose Fanion D'Estruval in my opinion as his best run last season was at 2-mile, and this small horse makes mistakes beyond that trip. Going left-handed LTO was not a good idea for Tamaroc Du Mathan, so I will not be having a penny on him, and the others in the race look outclassed.  For me, ITCHY FEET looks the most likely winner as he's a rock solid performer around OR153, he's done well in this race before, and today he in 1st-time cheekpieces.  Odds of 13/2 make him a very attractive eachway selection (5th odds 1,2,3) in this 8-runner race. 

Aintree 3:00pm - ITCHY FEET - £5 eachway @ 13/2 (Bet Victor & William Hill)

Saturday 23 October 2021

Saturday 23rd October - Cheltenham

After hitting the post a couple of times in the first week back for the blog, we hit the back of the net with the only selection last Saturday with Senior Citizen winning at 9/2.  Let's see if we can follow-up this weekend back at Cheltenham.

We have some terrific races, and the Class 2 handicap chase over 3m1f at 2:20pm catches my attention. From my alert list there's Jersey Bean: a 3x winner last season, including here at Cheltenham LTO.  This will be only his 10th chase run, and he will be running on his preferred "good" ground - he is sure to be thereabouts. Another I like is Storm Control, who regular readers of the blog will know I tipped a couple of times last season without success. He won twice last season, both wins here including a C&D win in November, and he could take some pegging back as he likes to try and make-all. Top-weight Cloth Cap usually needs his seasonal debut, and I'm not sure that he's up to winning a handicap off OR156, that's a big ask. The Irish challenger Definite Plan needs to prove his stamina to take this, and I think this is too big a step up for Minella Bobo. For me, Jersey Bean at 8/1 (Bet Victor and PaddyPower) looks the best value for an each-way wager should Storm Control falter late-on in the race. I do like Storm Control, and Kerry Lee has her horses bouncing - she's 3 from 3 in October and this is her only runner today, and maybe I'm overlooking the obvious winner. 

There is an interesting race at Kelso at 3:19pm, a Class 2 limited handicap chase over 3m2f, with just 6 runners. The 11yo's Vintage Clouds and Big River both usually need a run, as does Chapel Stile, and while Empire De Maulde is race-fit I don't think the horse is well handicapped on OR132. Dingo Dollar is a horse that has let his supporters down many times, and I really do not think he's capable of winning a handicap off OR151 if all the other runners in the race run to form. That leaves Fortescue: he's a 7yo who has won 5 of his 9 chase races. Trainer Henry Daly makes his first visit to Kelso in over 5 years and this is his only runner today. He's had a couple of winners at Perth, so a long trip in the horse-box is something he's capable of. The horse jumps well, likes be to be in the van, and odds of 4/1 look proper value as I'd have him the 2/1 fav for this race.

That's my planned wagers today: the 2-mile chase at 3:30pm at Cheltenham looks a bit tough to find value, but I expect a good run from Phil Hobbs' runner Leapaway at odds of 11/2

Kelso 3:19pm - FORTESCUE  - £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally)
Cheltenham 2:20pm - JERSEY BEAN - £5 eachway @ 8/1 (Bet Victor & PaddyPower, 5th odds a place 1,2,3,4)

Saturday 16 October 2021

Saturday 16th October 2021

There's not much more to add to yesterday's blog.
At Ffos Las, the Welsh Champion Hurdle (limited handicap) at 4:35pm looks a cracker of a race, with some interesting contenders. The top trainers are all involved: Nicholls has Diego Du Charmil; Pipe has Umbrigado and Leoncavallo; Twiston-Davies has Ballyandy. I think Calico is a lot better than OR139, and this 5yo who is German-bred, could be one to keep on your side this season. However, odds of 3/1 in a race of this nature is no value.  If you can obtain 4/1, then take advantage.

At Market Rasen, the situation is similar.  The handicap chase at 3:20pm has some interesting contenders, but I made a note to take an interest in Senior Citizen on his initial couple of runs this autumn as he is best when fresh off a long break, and a repeat of his form at Newton Abbot on 28Sept20 or his next run at Huntingdon on 01Nov20 will see him go close in this race. We know trainer Alan King has his horses in-form and he will likely be at Ascot watching his Trueshan in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup; but that he's also an eye on this race suggests he means business.
Odds of 4/1 look fair to me as I'd be prepare to wager on him at 5/2 in this race.

I've mentioned odds and value a couple of times in this blog, and I watched a good interview by Simon Nott with long-time professional gambler Steve Lewis-Hamilton (you can find it via twitter and it's on the Star Sports website).  Steve explained the importance of odds and probability to determine value: there is no point betting on a horse at odds of 6/4 if you think it's realistic chance of winning is 2/1 - you need to bet when this situation is reversed, and you are obtaining odds of 2/1 about a 6/4 chance.

Understanding probability and odds percentages is fundamental to winning at betting, no matter what sport you are having a bet in; in fact it is not just limited to betting on sport.  Understanding odds and probability is also of great benefit to understanding more about life and life's opportunities, and risk.  Steve is correct, and I thoroughly agree with him, in saying very few people today understand odds and probability - and that is to the detriment of everyone, not just those who are interested in sport.  But for the punter, this is your edge.

Friday 15 October 2021

Friday 15th October 2021 - weekend lookahead

We weren't far away from a decent win last Saturday, as Burning Victory looked like winning the Cesarewitch (advised at 8/1) until Buzz produced a devastating burst of speed close home to take the prize - but it was an honourable 2nd. Then, at Chepstow, I put the horses in the handicap chase that I fancied - Paint The Dream and Manofthemountain - in the wrong order.  I thought Paint The Dream would need his seasonal debut (and he most certainly didn't) and perhaps I should have advised a reverse forecast!  The Computer Straight Forecast paid £34.75.

On Saturday, we have 2 good meetings on the jumps at Market Rasen, Ffos Las, and a low-class affair at Stratford. There is a decent Class 2 handicap chase at Market Rasen at 3:20pm over 2m5f & 89yds, with 9 runners declared.  There are a couple on my alert list: Guy and Senior Citizen; and both have a chance.  Guy won on his seasonal debut last year, on similar ground and he could be very interesting running-off 10st 4lb.  Senior Citizen also won on his seasonal debut last season, and this will be his first run since the 8th May (so effectively his seasonal debut too). 

At Ffos Las, the Novices handicap chase at 4:00pm over 2m5f looks wide open and we have a half decent field for this Class 3 event. From my alert list, Mario De Pail was brought-along very quietly last season, and he could be very useful for trainer Sam Thomas who I think is on his way to making his mark in the sport. It is likely that 2020 Betfair Hurdle winner Pic D'Orhy will start fav for Paul Nicholls, but he's not looked a natural chaser. 

The Welsh Champion Hurdle, a Class 2 limited handicap, is the feature race at Ffos Las and from my alert list there is Calico and Umbrigado, and while the latter spent last season chasing he did record some good speed numbers and could finish in the places. Personally, I think Calico is a lot better than OR139 and if the wind surgery has a positive effect he could be the one to be on.

The meeting on Sunday at Kempton is one that is worth keeping an eye on. My local trainer Nick Gifford (I'm a member of the Nick Gifford Racing Club) sends Fearless Freddy for the Class 3 handicap chase and this C&D winner won't be far away. Later in the meeting, I'm expecting Sceau Royal to prove the better when he meets Silver Streak, but I think they both have to fear the race-fit Teqany, who was not far behind Sceau Royal in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last November. 

It looks like being a cracker of a weekend.

Saturday 9 October 2021

Opening blog of a new jumps Season - 9th October 2021

Here we go again!  
What a beautiful day for going racing.  We have an exciting meeting at Chepstow, plus another at Hexham (don't forget) and the top-class races at Newmarket: the Dewhurst and the Cesarewitch.

At Chepstow, you always have to take notice of Paul Nicholls' and what he's running. In the 1:50pm he has Flic On Voyou who has run at this meeting for the last couple of seasons, winning last year, and btn a neck the year before.  This horse will be fit and ready today, and odds of 13/2 (William Hill) look generous and there's plenty of 6/1 around. For the ultra-cautious, Skybet offer 4-places and 11/2 which looks a shoo-in for an eachway thief as only 9 go to post!

Earlier this summer, I made a case for Real Steel being on a horses-to-follow list, as I think his rating of OR154 is very lenient considering what he's done in Ireland.  I think his best trip is <2m7f, so with this race today being just 90 yards short of 3-mile he could be stretched. However, he's a 160+ chaser in my book and if his recent wind surgery has worked he could be chucked in today. He's giving away a lot of weight in this handicap, especially to Cap Du Nord who looks well treated on OR138, and who will be running on from halfway, and his odds of 9/1 (Sky & Hills go 4-places) are attractive for eachway punters.

In the handicap chase at 4:05pm, I really cannot understand how Paint The Dream has only won once over fences in 10 starts - he's on my alert list.  Another on my alert list is Manofthemountain and this gelding could be the one to be on at this trip. Janika last won at Exeter as a 6yo almost 2yrs ago, but it was the Haldon Gold Cup. Unfortunately, he's not shown similar form since then, but this is a significant drop in class. For me, the value in this race is Manofthemountain at 9/2 which is available generally.

My wagers today will all be Chepstow:

1:50pm FLIC ON VOYOU @ 6/1
2:25pm CAP DU NORD @ 9/1
3x eachway doubles and an eachway treble - just to small stakes

At Newmarket in the Cesarewitch, I think Willie Mullins will set history for winning the race for the 4th time on the bounce: but it will be with BURNING VICTORY @ 8/1 (Bet365).

Saturday 11 September 2021

The 2021-22 Season Jump Season - some horses I'm looking forward to seeing again (7yo's)

The review of the Alert List continues,  and after the 8yo's now it is the 7yo's.  There's a lot of them, so I may split this into two parts.

TEQANY - looked a very interesting hurdler when pushing Sceau  Royal all the way in the Elite Hurdle last November. He hasn't raced again since over hurdles, but has had a successful summer on the flat and so is race-fit for an autumn hurdling campaign. Races today on the flat at Haydock (12Sept)

McFABULOUS - not quite top-level as a 3-mile hurdler, but may well hit that level as a chaser. Looks an exciting novice chase prospect for 2021-22.

IMPERIAL ALCAZAR - started at 11/2 for the 3-mile Pertemps Final Hurdle and was struck-into mid-race so was a disappointing 16th of 22. Ignore that run, as his previous win in Jan suggested he had lots more to come.  Likely to go novice chasing and looks exciting.

ESCARIA TEN - ran 3rd in the NH Chase for Novices behind Galvin, but I reckon with a better ride he'd have won as came to challenge a tad too early. Is Grade 1 chase potential this season. 

UP THE STRAIGHT - he has met a couple of good ones so has come 2nd 3x in 6 chase races. His OR138 rating looks fair and he's probably capable of a lot better than that and may need to step-up to 2m6f.

LOCK'S CORNER - a winner of 4 chase races, his best performance to date was his win at Kempton over 2m4f in Nov-20 and in my opinion he goes best right-handed. A rating of OR142 looks fair.

EMPIRE STEEL - could be anything. Was disappointing at Cheltenham and that run is best ignored, but has a lot of potential, and an OR140 rating looks very fair.

HAPPYGOLUCKY - went into my notebook when winning at Stratford on 29-Oct, the ground was possibly a tad too soft at the Festival when 2nd in the "Ultima", but he won well at Aintree. Now rated OR157, if he can win a handicap from this rating then he's likely graded level, and I think that's where his future lies in 2021-22.

SHAN BLUE - won a couple of Grade-1 novice chases at Sandown and Kempton, and perhaps right-handed courses suit him best. Starts off OR150, and he could be a handicap snip off that mark.

SULLY D'OC AA - it was brave of Anthony Honeyball to go to the Punchestown Festival in April and win with this horse, but the handicapper hit him with a 10lb hike to OR147. Trips of 2m-2m3f look best for him and he could be an exciting horse to follow.

ESPOIR DE ROMAY - he went into my alert list after winning his chase debut on 01Nov, and maybe he should have gone for a good handicap after that as he easily won a Class 3 in March and was going very well at Aintree in a Grade 1 chase when falling. Now rated OR160, handicaps are beyond him but he could be exceptional.

ELDORADO ALLEN - after winning his 1st-2 novice chases, he went on my alert list but hasn't won in 4 runs since. However, he has been highly-tried and maybe Tizzard may not set his heights so high this season, and a step-up to 2m4f+ could see him in the winners enclosure.

SANDYMOUNT ROSE - was entered on my alert list as a 3-mile hurdler in Dec20, after chasing-home Catchmeifyoucan (who won again on 27Nov), and she duly won her next couple of 3-mile hurdle races. She has since won her chase debut, and she could be a money-spinner.

ESPOIR DE GUYE - When the mud is flying, Venetia Williams horses are in their element, and  I will be hoping the ground is worse than soft when this one is running. A couple of wins at Ascot, he will enjoy the right-handed London circuits.

DEMACHINE - could be a very interesting handicap horse as lightly-raced and his novice season was very promising. No disgrace being beaten by Remastered at level-weights in Feb, and we've not seen him since; so OR142 could be very lenient. 

Overall, there are 46 x 7yo's on my alert list, and I am very hopeful of a great season for the blog.  I will not post the names of any more - as I have to have some edge over other tipsters and the betting market - so you will find out who are the remainder as-and-when they run.  So you will have to read the blog!

All the best. 

Sunday 8 August 2021

The 2021-22 Jumps season - some horses I'm looking forward to seeing again (8yo's)

The 2020-21 jumps season was a bit of a strange one due to the lack of crowds (due to Covid) and too many horses being kept at home in the stables rather than racing at the tracks. During the season, I tried making a few suggested wagers, but I never rely got into the groove.  However, I did manage and maintain my horse alert list and I've started going through that list and pruning it and adding some extra notes.  I'm going to post a few of those notes on a band of horses that I think will do some good things this coming season: it isn't a "horses to follow" list, more a "don't overlook if running" list. 

As usual, I will be writing my weekend blog, which will start from 9th October with the jumps meeting at Chepstow. The is likely to be a review of the weekends racing, and from Sunday 5th December there will be suggestions for a portfolio of wagers for the Cheltenham Festival in March 2022.  The Cheltenham Portfolio has worked well over the past couple of seasons and hopefully that will continue.

There are no horses older than 8yo on my alert list: by the time they become 9yo they are usually well-exposed and unlikely to find much more improvement. My "bread & butter" is 3-mile-plus handicap chases, and I'm looking for horses that have improvement in them and are well-handicapped. These are the only 8yo's on my alert list.

CANELO: won the Rowland Meyrick at Warwick on Boxing Day, and held his form well. Forget his Grand National effort: 3-mile-plus on Good-to-Soft ground is what he needs, and he ran a career-best on 06Mar21.

DISCORAMA: was 3rd in the 2020 Ultima handicap chase off OR148, he was then aimed at the Grand National. He is now rated OR146 and that looks fair: he's one for an autumn handicap up to 3m4f.

JERSEY BEAN: a hurdle winner over 3-mile (which is always a good indicator), he jumps well, stays well and like to make-all.  He's best on good ground - avoid when racing on soft ground.

MANOFTHEMOUNTAIN: a winner of 5 of his 9 chase starts at trips from 2m4f to 3-mile. Ran a career-best LTO and starts 2021-22 on OR144 and that may not stop him winning again.

MILAN NATIVE: winner of the 2020 Kim Muir handicap, after winning his 2020-21 seasonal debut he went a bit off-the-boil.  He no looks well handicapped to win his seasonal debut.

MILLINER: good 3-mile hurdlers are as rare as hen's teeth: and this one looks well-handicapped as he's dropped to OR123 (from OR126) after a good 4th in the Pertemps Final over 3-mile which was only his 6th race.  If he goes chasing he could be very interesting.

NO GETAWAY: a half-brother to Grand National winner One For Arthur, he will probably be best at 3-mile-plus.  So far he's been kept to 2m4f, but he won well at that trip at Sandown.  He is slow, so soft/heavy ground is needed.

REAL STEEL: ignore his Gold Cup run in 2020, as he's no 3-mile-plus chaser. Over 2m4f - 2m6f he could be well-in as (after an indifferent debut season with Paul Nicholls) he's dropped to OR154 which could make him a "Paddy Power" handicap chance.

REMASTERED: displayed his chasing promise when winning a Grade-2 in February; he was found lacking in the NH Chase over 3m6f, but maybe the ground was too quick for him.  Best on soft/heavy ground, a wet autumn could see him line-up at Newbury for the Ladbroke Trophy off OR146.

SENIOR CITIZEN: starts 2021-22 on OR134 which was his last winning mark. Appears best after a good break over 2m4f-2m5f; he met a well-handicapped horse in the Topham Handicap at Aintree and looks well-handicapped.

TIME TO GET UP: he looks very exciting. Only had 4 chase races, and won the Midlands National over 4m2f on his latest run. Still only on OR144, and he could be a Welsh National winner, before taking the big one at Aintree.

VINNDICATION: let's be honest, he's not a Grade-1 chase, but when chasing home Cyrname at Wetherby he showed that he's not far off. Was joint-fav for the Ladbroke Trophy on the back of that run, and he would have gone close but for unseating his rider 5-out when going well. He looks primed for that race again - maybe going straight there this time - and off OR159 he could go close.

Friday 9 April 2021

The 2021 Grand National - final thoughts

The Grand National.
A race with a history entwined in not just horseracing, but the nation.
This blog is to try and find the winner from the final 40 horses declared to run on Saturday.
When I looked at this race last week, I arrived at the following selections based on what horses were expected to run.
The Storyteller:  22/1 generally 5-places 5th-odds (William Hill)
Acapella Bourgeois:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Anibale Fly:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Takingrisks:  40/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Lord Du Mesnil:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
The Storyteller was withdrawn at the 48hr declaration stage, so my £3 ew stake was refunded.
I have £3 ew on the remaining 4 selections.

Most bookmakers will be offering 6-places to 5th odds a place.
Bet365 have a great offer to existing clients in offering a 50% immediate cash-back on ew wagers up to a maximum of £125, but they are only paying 5th odds on the 1st-5.
I'm looking for potential 1st-6 finishers.
Top-weight with 11st 10lb will be Bristol De Mai: He will have no problems with the ground (good-to-soft) and being a prominent runner he should go well.  I just worry about the weight and the trip. Since the distance was revised, there have been 7 GN's and 11 horses carrying 11st or more have finished in the 1st-6 (most bookmakers will be paying on the 1st-6 places) from the 42 places available, which is 15.2%. The number of horses in those 7 years carrying 11st or more is 77, or 28% of the total runners (which was 276): so horses with 11st+ are good to go. However, only 3 of those 11 carried more than 11st 5lb. If you combine that with the fact that in the 3 longest races he's run in he's not seen out the trip, he might struggle over the final half-mile.
Chris's Dream is on a tough handicap mark of OR164, and while he's won over 3-miles I think that's his limit, and the jockey doesn't inspire confidence.
Yala Enki needs soft ground and while he will stay all day long, he's a bit of a plodder, but he could make the 1st-6 finishers, and Bryony Frost gets the best out of him, at 33/1 he's interesting.
This will be the 2nd GN for Ballyoptic, and I can't see him winning, or finishing, as he appears to have lost his sparkle this season.
Ditto Definitly Red: he's not the horse he once was, he's unlikely to finish.  
The same for Lakeview Lad, his career is going backwards, and is unlikely to be in the places. 

That's everything with more than 11st to carry, and the only one likely to be in the 1st-6 is the 33/1 chance Yala Enki . Of those with under 11st to carry:-
Burrows Saint (10st 13lb) won the Irish GN in Apr19, and has been aimed at this race all season. He ran a good prep race LTO, and the ground & trip will suit him. He'll go close, and he's 8/1.
Magic Of Light was 2nd to Tiger Roll in 2019, and she could well run another good race, but she's been campaigned much differently this time, and I feel she's had her chance.
Acapella Bourgeois is a prominent runner who will be "in the van" throughout, he comes here in good form and has a fair weight (10st 12lb) and he's interesting, latest odds 20/1.
I don't think Talkischeap is good enough, he's certainly not OR155 level. 
Tout Est Permis was one of my Cheltenham Antepost's that didn't run and he then went and fell LTO (blood found in nose post-race), he's not one I'm confident over.
Another aimed at this race is Anibale Fly: twice placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice placed in the GN, he looks "chucked-in" off OR155 with 10st 12lb. He looks a place certainty, and odds of 25/1 look attractive.
Mister Malarky is a right-hand track specialist, and I think he'll not enjoy this race; he's the sort who cold be in the 1st-3 or pull-up after 3 fences, and I'm more inclined to the latter.
Kimberlite Candy handles this course well having come 2nd twice in the December "Becher" Chase over 3m2f. He runs best off a long break and he's sure to go well, he's 10/1.
Any Second Now is one that's been aimed at this race, and as a "Kim Muir" winner over 3m2f he should be capable of being involved, but he's looked one-paced in other races of 3-mile or more. 
Balko Des Flos hasn't won a race since March 2018, he's been highly tried though and will stay this trip, so he may well complete, but in his own time. 
Alpha Des Obeaux is another who has seen better days, and I doubt he will complete.
One horse I've never rated is Ok Corral and while he's won at 3-miles, I really can't see him winning this as he finished lame LTO.
He may be a 12yo, but Takingrisks is in top form this season, and he's won a Scottish GN, so the ground and trip hold no worries. He won competitive handicap LTO and I'm happy I took 40/1 on him as he's now 25/1 and that looks decent still, as he should be in the 1st-6. 
I was surprised to see Shattered Love declared for this race, as this mare isn't good enough. 
Jett is another who may struggle in this race, and is not likely to complete. 
When I saw the weights published for this year, the first horse on my list was Lord Du Mesnil, and he duly went and won the GN Trial at Haydock over 3m4f on 20Feb. His 2nd in the NH Chase over 3m6f at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival showed that he stays the trip at top-level, and while he would prefer softer ground, he's going to take some beating: he's 33/1.
The December 2019 Welsh National winner Potters Corner loves these marathon races, and he's not very many miles on his clock for an 11yo. He'd probably prefer soft ground on the day, and he's not going to be far away if he completes, but that's debatable.
Class Conti is on a tough handicap mark considering his last win was as a novice chaser over 2m5f. However, he should stay this trip but at his own pace, and may make the 1st-6.
Milan Native, who I had a wager on when disappointing LTO, should be capable of going well; but I'm not a fan of winners of the "Kim Muir" chase in this race.  In his favour he has the top amateur rider Mr JJ Codd in the saddle, and he will make sure this horse gets the best of the opportunity: at 33/1 he looks interesting.
There's been a lot of money for Discorama and he was the 2nd horse on my list (there were only 2) when the weights came out: I wish I had followed my instinct as both Lord Du Mesnil and Discorama were 40/1 at the time. Discorama has only won once by he's run some great races in defeat, I just feel OR149 is a bit high for him to be able to win this race, but he looks a good place chance at 14/1. 
Vieux Lion Rouge has had his chance, he loves this course but he doesn't stay the 4m2f trip.
Cloth Cap is the 9/2 fav, and looks chucked-in off OR148 considering his win LTO which suggests he's 10-14lb well-in.  But remember, he could only come 3rd behind Takingrisks in the Scottish GN off OR134, and he only meets that rival on 1lb better terms now when you compare the form via Aye Right who has been 2nd to both of them this season. 
I was surprised to see Cabaret Queen in this race, as I'm not confident of her staying the trip. 
Minellacelebration has run once over these fences and didn't shine. 
Canelo is an interesting horse, he may have been flattered to win the Rowland Meyrick handicap on Boxing Day as his OR147 rating is tough, but he's only an 8yo. He carries just 10st 4lb, and if he enjoys this race he could go well, there are much worse 40/1 chances.
The Long Mile ran well LTO which was the longest trip he's raced over, but whether he can step-up to this distance considering he's raced mainly over 2m4f is debatable.
The 11yo Give Me A Copper has had lots of problems so this will only be his 10th chase race. Winning this would be a miracle.
Farclas is another of my recent Cheltenham Festival anteposts, and he went close in the 2m4f handicap there.  Being a 7yo, history is against him as there hasn't been a 7yo winner since 1940, but I think he's a touch of class about him. 
Minella Times. There's nothing much between him and Farclas as they've met a couple of times this season; but whereas I feel Farclas has potential to stay 4m2f, I can't say the same about Minella Times, but you never know.  Odds of 9/1 are tight. 
Sub Lieutenant will be ridden by Tabitha Worsley who won the Foxhunters Chase over these fences in 2019. He's won over 3m1f but I feel this 12yo will struggle to complete
Hogan's Height qualified to run in this when winning the Grand Sefton Chase over these fences in Dec19, but his recent form is poor, and he will be lucky to complete.
Double Shuffle was a top-class chaser, but it's a long time since he was rated 160+ and he pulled up in the GN of 2017 when he was a much better horse than he is now.
Ami Desbois is interesting; this 11yo does stay well, and jumps well, and while he may not win he could be in the 1st-6: odds of 100/1 are attractive.
Blaklion was going well in this to be 4th in 2017, but he's been a shadow of himself in 3 runs this season (after 18 months off the track), unlikely to complete.

From the above, with the fav CLOTH CAP looking a sure-thing, we should concentrate on finding value in the places, and those worth considering are:-
Yala Enki  @ 33/1 - given number of contenders, he's too slow
Burrows Saint @ 8/1 too short in the betting
Acapella Bourgeois @ 20/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew
Anibale Fly @ 25/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew 
Kimberlite Candy @ 10/1 too short in the betting
Takingrisks @ 25/1 - already on at 40/1 for £3 ew 
Lord Du Mesnil @ 33/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew
Milan Native @ 33/1 with Skybet 6-places 5th odds a place
Discorama @ 14/1 too short in the betting
Ami Desbois @ 100/1 with Skybet 6-places 5th odds a place

To my 4 existing £3 ew wagers, I'm adding MILAN NATIVE @ 33/1 and AMI DESBOIS @ 100/1
Making a total of 6 wagers @ £3 eachway = Total staked = £36

Aintree 2021 - Friday 9th April

After starting the day full of enthusiasm, I was quickly brought down to earth and (thankfully) didn't bet as strongly as I was going to.  
In the opening race, Protektorat was back to the form he showed last November, which is good but not "proper" Grade 1 winning form. If the handicapper is tough on him then he is going to find life extremely difficult next season. Not so The Shunter, who seemed to hit everything and still stayed in with a chance at the final fence; he could still be well-handicapped based on this run. As for Hitman, thankfully he's only a 5yo and has time to improve.  In the Juvenile Hurdle, we saw that Adagio has still not learned how to jump a hurdle but, even so, he came to the final flight looking to be going the best - before demolishing it! That was his chance gone, and Monmiral ran-on a fair winner, and on this form would have gone close in the Triumph Hurdle had he taken part.
As expected, the Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) did not take much winning. Only 5 finished the race, and three of those (Native River, Tiger Roll, and Aso) were well outclassed. It would not surprise me to see Native River retired now, he just does not have the pace for these "proper" Grade 1 races. The obvious disappointment was Mister Fisher, who appeared to be going very well till a bad mistake at the 11th fence, that rattled him.  He hadn't settled by the next, blundered through it, and lost his rider - game over. He's going to be hard to place now as he's obviously not Grade 1 standard, but is rated OR162. He could be hurdling next season like his stablemate, Top Notch.  Briefly, Clondaw Castle looked about to make a race of it, but Clan Des Obeaux showed the gulf between him - a two-time "King George" winner - and a decent handicapper at level weights.  On his day, Clan Des Obeaux is a very smart staying chaser and on this form he'd be well-capable of winning a 3rd King George next Boxing Day - so long as Monkfish, A Plus Tard, Minella Indo, Envoi Allan and Allaho don't make the trip over from Ireland!  Some pundits described this as a "monstrous" performance, but I doubt a repeat in the recent Gold Cup would have put him in the 1st-3.  Clan Des Obeaux is the UK's current best staying chaser but he might struggle to get into the Irish-trained top-10.
The Aintree Hurdle was another poor race for me; but it's difficult to know how Jason The Militant would have done had he not unseated his rider mid-race as until then he was going well. I'm not sure what happened with Song For Someone, he never settled and was pulled-up; but then he's had a long season and perhaps he's jaded and in need of a break. The race was won by Abacadabras who won a "slow-motion" finish beating handicapper Buzz into 2nd. Finally, RP Ratings have agreed with me on assessing a race, as normally they look at a horse like Buveur D'Air in 4th and use that horses rating as the benchmark. By careful placement, Abacadabras won his 2nd senior Grade 1 race here, but grade 1 performance it wasn't.

Friday looks another tricky card, opening with a 22-runner handicap hurdle.  The Grade 1 novices hurdle over an extended 2-miles looks another tricky contest, not least because Nicky Henderson sends Dusart from off a 155-day break. I would be tempted to oppose this 2/1 fav; but what with?   

The 3m1f Grade 1 novices Chase is next, and I'm tempted to go with Fiddlerontheroof who showed he stayed 3-miles in the "Brown Advisory" Chase at the Festival and looks to be one of the better UK-based novice chasers. He's been very consistent through his career, and given his improvement at recent races at 3-mile, his form as a novice hurdler last season around 2-mile is seen in a better light. I don't think he had a tough race at Cheltenham behind Monkfish, and he looks under-rated - but so far, Cheltenham Festival runners haven't done well here at Aintree. 

The Queen Mother Champion Chase was run without defending champion Politologue last month, as blood was seen in his nostrils in the paddock before the race and he was withdrawn. Given he pulverised stablemate Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek in December, and Greaneteen was only btn 2-lengths in the QMCC, you have to think that Politologue is just about the best 2-mile chaser in training at the moment.  The question is the trip: he's won this race before in 2018, and he's won over 2m5f at Ascot, but he's about 7lb better at 2-mile than he is at 2m4f. Remember, he was easily swept aside in this race in 2019 the winner Min. There's another C&D winner in the race and that's Nuts Well: he beat Clondaw Castle over 2m4f here in October, and before that he beat Aye Right over an extended 2-mile at Kelso - and both of those beaten horses have promoted the form since then.  Yes, he's a 10yo and he'd never win a QMCC, but he comes here fresh and capable of running a cracker. The other horse coming here fresh and in form is Dashel Drasher, and he's improved with every run this season and there's no reason why Master Tommytucker who he beat LTO should reverse the placings. The fav is the Irish-trained Fakir D'oudairies who has a rating of OR162, but for the life of me I don't know why! He had a hard race LTO at Cheltenham, and he's never looked much better than a 155-rated 2-miler to me who always seems to find one better in the race - and he was beaten 12-lengths by Notebook last November! The Henry De Bromhead team seem to have gone off the boil with 1 win from 36 runners in the past 14-days, and so I have to pass-over Notebook.  I'm looking at Nuts Well and Dashel Drasher to fight out the finish, with Politologue coming in a gallant 3rd: and as I can't split the pair, I will be putting them in a reverse forecast.  

The Topham Trophy Chase is one to watch, although I may have a small wager on Storm Control who loves to bowl along in front and is a bold jumper of a fence, he may take some catching. 

The Sefton Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) over 3-miles is headed by Bravemansgame trained by Paul Nicholls who has his horses in great form. However, this one was exposed at the Cheltenham Festival over 2m5f and there's nothing in his pedigree to suggest that he's a better horse at 3-mile. As such, I'm going for the Irish raider of Emmet Mullins in Cape Gentleman who has won over 2m4f on heavy ground, and looks under-exposed.  He's a decent price too at 11/2; but this isn't a race to get heavily involved in as there are too many imponderables and unexposed horses trying a new trip.

As I'm giving the 22-runner handicap hurdle the closes the meeting a swerve, I can continue to delve into the Grand National runners and will likely post up my blog on the great race later this evening.

Suggested wagers:
3:25 Marsh Chase
2 x straight-forecasts: £6 Dashel Drasher to beat Nuts Well  
and £4 Nuts Well to beat Dashel Drasher
Total staked = £10

Wednesday 7 April 2021

Aintree 2021 - Thursday 8th April

I was going to hold this blog until the morning, but such is the gamble on one of my selections that I'm posting it now (Wednesday 6pm).  

The Aintree Grand National meeting is a strange one for me, as the air is thick with excitement for the big race on Saturday, but the early days of the meeting can sometimes struggle to meet the expectation. I tend to look at the meeting on the Thursday and Friday as just a normal day at the races, and this year with what looks like a much reduced Irish-trained contingent we possibly won't be seeing the quality of racing that we saw at Cheltenham recently.  

I don't have the historical race records for this meeting like I have for the Cheltenham Festival, so any trends and stat produced I have skimmed from other sources; but there are lots of stats sites in the internet. Remember, it's how you interpret the stats and trends that makes them of value.  his past week, I have been re-reading Nic Mordin's "Betting For a Living" and even though it was first published in 1992 it is a great read with lots of solid lessons for the punter. Nic has a relaxed, easy-to-read writing style, and I'm sure that I've styled my own selection procedure from the techniques he's used in his books. There's only one winner of a race, so find the likely losers and eliminate them from your race assessment: that's what stats and trends are best at - finding and eliminating losers.

The day opens with the Manifesto Novices Chase over 2m4f, and the UK-trained novice chasers were exposed as over-rated at the recent Festival, so we have to query the ratings of OR151 for the 5yo Hitman (earned for 2nd to Allmankind on 05Dec), and OR150 for Protektorat (earned for winning a 4-runner race at Cheltenham on 13Nov).  The Cheltenham winner The Shunter is worthy of OR153 and he could be the answer if in similar form.  I marked Fusil Raffles as one for the future when 2nd at Cheltenham to his stablemate Chantry House; but that pair were fortunate to benefit from the fall of Envoi Allen. A rating of OR155 for Fusil Raffles suggests the handicapper has rated the race and not the performance. Eldorado Allen tackles a trip further than 2-miles for the first time and he is improving with every run. If any takes my eye, it's the David Pipe runner Umbrigado who gets the trip and has won his last 3 races, he looks one to include on the forecast's with The Shunter and Eldorado Allen (as he has the best speed rating).

The Juvenile Hurdle over 2m1f is dominated by the Triumph Hurdle 2nd Adagio, and Monmiral who did not race at the Festival. I will be surprised if any of the other 4 runners get close to this pair, and for me Adagio is the one with the potential to improve as he was let-down by his hurdling LTO and if he hurdles better this time then we could see a much better performance. It is not unusual for those that have run well in the Triumph Hurdle to run well and win this race, and Adagio is the one for me.

The Betway Bowl Chase is a Grade 1 race that's been on this card for decades. This year looks like being a disappointing vintage as only 2 of the 9 runners are younger than 9yo, and while we do have a Gold Cup winner in the race, it is 11yo Native River who won that in 2018 (3 years ago). The race fav is Clan Des Obeaux, and this two-time winner of the "King George" at Kempton over 3-mile has raced  6-times beyond 3-miles (twice in this race) and not won: the trip of 3-miles seems to be his limit. Trainer Paul Nicholls has him in 1st-time cheek-pieces to see if they can galvanise him.  If Native River wins this race after a hard slog at Cheltenham, then I will cheer him home and wish him a happy retirement, but sentiment does not win races. The last time dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll ran on a standard chase course, way back in Nov2017, he was rated OR151.  Sure, he's been a better horse than that since - but not much better - and I'd want 20/1 about him for this race. There are 3 other most unlikely winners of this race: Militarian (totally outclassed), Aso who is well-past his best, and Real Steel who will one day get his act together, but when?  That, in my opinion, leaves 3 potential winners: Waiting Patiently, Clondaw Castle and Mister Fisher. 
Some trends for this race: 
28 of the last 30 winners had winning form over 3-miles; 
19 of the last 28 winners had won a race over 3-miles earlier in the season 
10 of the last 13 winners had at least 10 chase races prior to this
Waiting Patiently: hasn't won at 3-miles, and hasn't won this season; but ran a good 2nd in the "King George" on Boxing Day. He won some good novice chases going left-handed as a novice chaser, but all best form since has been on right-handed tracks. This years "King George" form hasn't worked-out well, and when he ran here in 2019 as an 8yo, he ran poorly.
Clondaw Castle: won over 3-miles at Kempton LTO which is a positive, but on 11Dec he was outclassed by Mister Fisher who was giving him 3lb.  He is also prone to minor jumping errors, and lacks tactical speed which is required for Grade 1 racing. He was race-fit for the 11Dec race having won at Newbury on 27Nov, so no excuses there. He doesn't look good enough to win a Grade 1 chase.
Mister Fisher: hasn't won at 3-miles, and has only run in 7 chase races - so the trends say he's no chance! However, he's run his last 5 chases at graded level, winning twice. His dam is a half-sister to Frascati Park who won his only completed race at 3-mile in his brief chase career, so Mister Fisher should stay the trip. He also didn't run between 11Dec and the Ryanair Chase on 18Mar, so he's race-fit for this. At the odds, he's 8/1, he looks a good wager. 

The Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f is another permanent fixture with a great history. This year, not a single horse with a rating over OR160 is entered, which is disappointing [Correction: Silver Streak is rated OR163]. In 2019, there were 3 of the 7 starters rated OR160+, as there was in 2018 and 2017.  As such, this race should not take much winning. Nicky Henderson must think Buveur D'Air still has some zip, but I really don't expect him to win this race, as he couldn't win it in 2019 when much better prepared. To be honest, I can't work out why McFabulous is the fav, and I don't know why he has an OR158 rating, as his limitations were exposed at Fontwell on 28Feb. He was beaten that day by Brewin'upastorm but they meet on level weights this time, and there won't be much between them.  The 2020 Supreme Hurdle winner Abacadabras has not progressed this season and his OR158 rating is based on his novice hurdle form. The 6yo Song For Someone has been a late developer since arriving at Tom Symonds yard in Nov18 as a 3yo, and it took a year for him to grow into his frame, but he's always shown ability. In winning the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham on 12Dec as a 5yo beating seasoned campaigner Silver Streak (who rec 2lb), he showed he was worthy of a place at the top table. Yes, he was put in his place by Goshen LTO, but forget that margin of defeat, he is more than worthy of his OR158 rating.  PaddyPower offer 12/1, 4-places ew and that looks very generous to me. Finally, the Henry De Bromhead trained Jason The Militant: I'm already on him at 7/1 taken as soon as the declarations came out.  "Jason" first showed his ability winning a Grade 2 hurdle on 23Feb2020, beating Beacon Edge (4th in the Stayers Hurdle last month).  After a couple of indifferent races in the autumn, he won a Grade 3 on 27Feb beating good yardstick Petit Mouchoir easily.  That suggested he was capable of a 160+ performance, but will he stay 2m4f? Tough question, and we will likely have to wait until the result of this race to find out.  For me, the only two worth considering for the race are Song For Someone and Jason The Militant, and that's the pair I'm putting in a forecast.

Suggested wagers:
2:50pm Betfair Bowl: MISTER FISHER, £5 eachway & £5 win @ 8/1
A proper Grade 1 chaser, possessing pace and class, comes here race-fit and unexposed

3:25pm Aintree Hurdle: JASON THE MILITANT, £5 win @ 3/1
Improving and unexposed, has Grade 1 potential

Straight Forecasts:
£3 Jason The Militant to beat Song For Someone
£2 Song For Someone to beat Jason The Militant

Total staked = £25.00