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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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Saturday 27 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Saturday 27th Feb (17 days to go)

Saturdays usually brings a lot of visits to the blog, and if this is you first time here lets me tell you a little bit about myself. As per the headline above, I've been writing a horseracing blog since March 2010, nearly 11 years. For the first 7 years, I recorded my advised wagers (the results pages per season are on the right), and as per the summary at the top of the blog, for jump racing I advised wagers on 520 races over those 7 seasons, basically 75 wagers per season, and the cumulative advised stakes were £5,726 (or £11.01 per race) and the total profit recorded was £1,525.39; which is equivalent to a Return on Investment of 26.60%.

Why did I stop recording my wagers? Keeping up with the form-study and maintaining a regular blog (I was posting 3 or 4 times a week during the jumps season) was too time-consuming.  While I was enjoying it for a lot of that time, eventually putting in the hours (I reckon I was spending over 20 hours a week maintaining the blog) became a chore.

So, for the 2017-18 season, and ever since then, I've written just a Saturday blog for information and enjoyment, and concentrated my wagers on the Cheltenham Festival, and the Aintree Grand National meeting.  Last year, just to remind you, the Profit for the Festival was £99.16 on cumulative "advised" stakes of £186.00. That is equivalent to a Return on Investment of 53.3%.  This is to advised stakes, and I know a lot of my readers place wagers in multiples of what I advise, so they had a very good Cheltenham Festival indeed!  For the record, my advised wagers last year were:-

Day 1 - Tuesday

Arkle Novice Chase: Selection - Cash Back LOST (£10.00)
Ultima Handicap Chase: Selection - Mister Malarky LOST (£10.00)
Ultima Handicap Chase: Selection - Quarenta LOST (£4.00)
Ultima Handicap Chase: Selection - THE CONDITIONAL - WON - £54.00 (Stake = £5 ew @ 9/1)
Champion Hurdle: Selection - Ballyandy LOST (£10.00)
Champion Hurdle: Selection - Cornerstone Lad LOST (£10.00)
NH Chase: Selection - Lord Du Mesnil LOST (£10.00)
Carried Forward = £4.00 profit
Staked = £64.00

Day 2 - Wednesday

RSA Novice Chase: Selection - Copperhead LOST (£20.00)
Cross Country Race: Selection - EASYSLAND - WON - £35.00 (Stake - £10 win @ 7/2)
Days profit = £15.00
Staked = £30.00 (cumulative = £94.00)
Carried forward = £19.00 profit

Day 3 - Thursday
Marsh Novices Chase: Selection - Itchy Feet LOST (£10.00)
Ryanair Chase: Selection - MIN - WON - £25.00 (Stake = £10 win @ 5/2)
Ryanair Chase: Selection - Frodon LOST (£2.00) - "saver" wager
Handicap Chase 2m4f: Selection - Spiritofthegames LOST (£10.00)
Mares' Hurdle: Selection - CONCERTISTA - WON - £22.50 (Stake = £5 win @ 9/2 SP)
Kim Muir handicap chase: Selection - BOB MAHLER - 3rd  - £13.00 (Stake = £5 ew @ 18/1)
Days profit = £38.50
Staked = £47.00 (Cumulative = £141.00)
Carried forward = £57.50 profit

Day 4 - Friday
Triumph Hurdle: Selection - Goshen LOST (£10.00) - fell when clear at the final flight
Gold Cup: Selection - AL BOUM PHOTO - WON - £66.66 (Stake = £20 win @ 100/30)

Gold Cup: Selection - Delta Work LOST (£5.00) - "saver" wager
Foxhunters Chase: Selection - Shantou Flyer LOST (£10.00)
Days Profit = £41.66
Staked = £45.00 (Cumulative = £186.00)
Profit for the Week = £99.16
Return on Investment = 53.3%

This year, because of Covid, I'm doing things a bit differently and producing an antepost wagers portfolio.  So on the days of the Festival it is likely that my wagers will already have been placed.
These are my current wagers and for the narrative behind them, please refer to previous blogs posted. I have endeavoured to go "non-runner, no-bet" (NRNB) whenever possible.

Day-1: Supreme Novices Hurdle: 
Selection: DREAL DEAL - £5 ew and £10 win = £20 staked @ 20/1 NRNB with Skybet

Day-1: Mares Hurdle:
Selection: DAME DE COMPAGNIE - £5 ew and £5 win = £15 staked @ 14/1 NRNB with Paddy Power  

Day-1: Champion Hurdle & Mares Hurdle double:

Champion Hurdle: CONCERTISTA @ 10/1 NRNB; and

Mares' Hurdle: DAME DE COMPAGNIE @ 14/1 

Double: £5 ew = £10 staked with Paddy Power

Day-1: NH Chase (Novices):
Selection: LATEST EXHIBITION - £10 win @ 8/1 with William Hill (other bookies offer NRNB at much shorter odds)

Day-3: Stayers Hurdle:
Selection: FLOORING PORTER - £7.50 ew and £5 win = £20 staked @ 14/1 NRNB with Paddy Power

Day-3: Ryanair Chase:
Selection: MELON - £5.00 ew and £5.00 win = £15 staked @ 9/1 NRNB (Boylesport or Betfred)

Day-3: Ryanair Chase & Stayers Hurdle double:
Ryanair Chase: MELON @ 9/1 NRNB; and
Stayers Hurdle: FLOORING PORTER @ 12/1 NRNB
Double: £2.50 ew = £5 staked with Boylesports

Short odds accumulator:

Mares' Hurdle - Concertista @ 6/4

Brown Advisory Novice Chase - Monkfish @ 5/6

Champion Chase - Chancun Pour Soi @ 5/6

Cross-Country Race - Easysland @ 2/1

Final selection in 4 x £3 win trebles and a £3 win accumulator = £15 staked:

Concertista / Monkfish / Chancun Pour Soi / Easysland

Friday 26 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - 26th Feb (18 days to go)

After posting the previous blog, I was asked why I'd opposed Sire Du Berlais in the Stayers' Hurdle when he's proven over C&D having won the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle for the past 2 years run over the same C&D and earlier o the same day as the Stayers' Hurdle.  The main reason is the horses age:  Sire Du Berlais is a 9yo, and since Galmoy won his 2nd Stayers Hurdle back in 1988, the only other winning 9yo's have been Inglis Drever (2008) when winning for the 3rd time, and Big Bucks (2012) when winning for the 4th time.  There's only been one winner of the race winning for the first (and only) time as a 9yo - since the 11yo Crimson Embers in 1986 - and that was Solwhit in 2013.  What you have to remember about Solwhit was the 14 of his 16 races prior to winning in 2013 were at Grade 1 level  an he won 6 of those; so he was not out of place competing at Grade 1 level, albeit at shorter trips than 3-mile.  Sire Du Berlais has only run at Grade 1 level once, and that was when he was 3rd in the Christmas Hurdle behind my antepost selection the 6yo Flooring Porter.  The current fav for the race Paisley Park is also a 9yo, but he has won the Stayers Hurdle before (as a 7yo in 2019), so he's not completely discounted as he is proven at this level, but he's not improving.

The next race I'm looking at is the Ryanair Chase, run over 2m5f on Day-3 (Thursday). This race tends to go to specialists at the trip, horses not quick enough for the QMCC run on Wednesday, and without the stamina to contest the Gold Cup run on Friday. Of all the "senior" Grade 1 races, the Ryanair has fewer LTO winners taking this race, only 5 of the past 10 winners won LTO.  That's probably because they were running in races too far away from the 2m5f trip of this race, so I'm happy to accept a good run and a 1,2,3 finish LTO.

There's no qualms about the fav Allaho, who won LTO beating talented stable-companion Elimay over 2m4f on 27Jan.  That pair pulled miles-clear of the 3rd-placed horse which makes rating the race tricky, but I've given Allaho a rating of 160 for that win. Third in last years RSA behind Champ, Allaho was also 3rd in the Albert Bartlett novice hurdle over 3-mile, and so this reduced trip is probably in his favour.  Only a 7yo, there should still be improvement in him, and he's trained by the "master", Willie Mullins.  

The 2nd-fav is Imperial Aura, and this is one I don't quite get. Sure, he's improved with every run in his completed races to-date over fences. He won the Novices Handicap Chase (now transferred to Sandown) off OR143 last year, running prominently throughout. Unfortunately, he unseated his rider LTO at the 2nd fence, but had he completed and won, beating Master Tommytucker in the process, then I could see why he is the 6/1 2nd-fav; but for me, he has to prove he's a Grade 1 chaser.

Last year, I tipped Min to win, and he did - but it was a close-run thing.  He's run only twice since then, and when reappearing in the Grade 1 "John Durkan" on 06Dec he looked as good as ever.  However, for his Festival "prep" race, he ran in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase over 2m1f at Leopardstown on 06Feb (he was 2nd in this race in 2020) and threw-in the towel mid-race having to be pulled-up. Although he is a 2-time winner of the Dublin Chase, both of those wins were against inferior rivals to the level of Chancun Pour Soi, and Min has always looked a better horse at 2m4f. However, he is also now a 10yo, and he may just not be the horse he once was.

Last year, Min was just head of Saint Calvados and, when you watch the race again, with 2 fences to jump Saint Calvados looks the most likely winner as he's going so well. However, a poor jump at the last fence and having to be switched-out on the run-in to challenge Min must have cost him more than the margin of defeat. I thought he was an unlucky loser last year. Saint Calvados has also only had 2 runs this season, his reappearance being in the "King George" on Boxing Day, and what a run he put in. It was his first attempt at 3-miles, and I thought the trip found him out, so no disgrace in defeat there.  Personally, I would have liked him to run in the 2m5f Ascot Chase next (that was won by Dashel Drasher) but he went for the rescheduled Cotswold Chase at Sandown, and was just making his move from the rear when hitting what looked like false ground on landing, slipping and un-shipping his rider. So, while we have to take his form and fitness a little on-trust, he is only 8yo, and his two best runs have been over C&D of the Ryanair Chase (he was only beaten a nose in the PaddyPower Handicap on 01Jan20 off OR157 giving 15lb to Oldgrangewood, now rated OR146). At odds of 9/1 NRNB he look fair value to me. 

In a recent interview, Willie Mullins appeared to want to send Kemboy for a 3rd attempt at the Gold Cup, but he has an able deputy in Melon, who was 2nd in the "Peter Marsh" novice chase over 2m4f last year. that was the 4th time he's been in the frame at the Cheltenham Festival (2nd in the "Supreme" novices hurdle; 2nd in the 2018 and 2019 Champion Hurdle, and 2nd in the "Peter March") he clearly loves Cheltenham. This season, he was well beaten in the "John Durkan" (see Min above), but ran much better in the 3-mile Savills Chase on 28Dec where he led from the 12th fence until headed at the last but he only went down by 2-lengths, the trip possibly being his undoing. His subsequent run in the Irish Gold Cup on 07Feb (won by Kemboy) was disappointing, but if you can forgive him that run, he has a chance in this should he go for it - he would certainly make the race a stamina test. With stamina not an issue at this trip, odds of 9/1 NRNB he look good value to me. 

Of the others, Fakir D'oudairies doesn't look good enough and this trip is an unknown for him at this level.  I like Mister Fisher, but he'd be trying to win from a break of 97-days as his last run was when winning on 11Dec at Cheltenham over 2m4f, and lack of a recent run is not in his favour at this level. And Kemboy is most likely to go for the Gold Cup.

My advised selection is MELON at 9/1 NRNB with Betfred and/or Boylesports.

Advised wager: Ryanair Chase - MELON - £5 ew & £5 win @ 9/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3)

And I'm putting him in an eachway double with Flooring Porter for the Stayers Hurdle on the same day (see earlier blog for the narrative).

Advised wager: Ryanair Chase & Stayers Hurdle (double):
MELON @ 9/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3) and FLOORING PORTER @ 12/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3) 
£2.50 eachway double with Boylesports

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Wednesday 24th Feb (20 days to go)

Further to the post on Monday, Honeysuckle has been pushed-out to 3/1 by Hills, and I think that is great value about the mare considering she is in the form of her life, loves Cheltenham, and has the advantage of the 7lb mares' allowance.  Hills are not (yet) offering NRNB, and if you want that the best odds available are 5/2 from Betfred.  I've nothing against Goshen, I think he's the best gelding we've seen hurdling this season, and I have absolutely no problem with him being a 5yo as - and I did this exercise a few years ago - there is no reason that 5yo's should be opposed in the Champion Hurdle.  Those that take part in the race because they are good enough (and not those providing the owners with a jolly) do well. Unfortunately, I just don't think that he's 7lb better than Honeysuckle.

Today, I've been looking at the Stayers Hurdle over 3-mile on day-3 of the Festival. This race was won by Lisnagar Oscar last year, and that he's 20/1 in the betting for the race this year tells you that it was a bit of a shock result.  Why was it a shock? Mainly because the 3-mile hurdling division lacks a true star in the mold of Big Bucks, Inglis Drever, or Baracouda. I think we all thought Paisley Park was going to develop into a major player after winning in 2019, and he went into last years race as the odds-on 4/6 fav, but when the chips were down he found nothing.  No explanation for that performance, other than he lost a couple of shoes during the race. The reliable and consistent Bacardys was 3rd, however that he was 3rd suggests the race was a poor vintage. 

This season, no true clear favourite has emerged.  Paisley Park narrowly beat Thyme Hill at Ascot on 19Dec (and that isn't a good omen, as most winners at Cheltenham run between Christmas Day and Valentines Day prior to winning at the Festival), and that looks to be the best of the form in the UK. I really can't see the 9yo Paisley Park improving, but he should run a "160" performance.  However, the 7yo Thyme Hill has improved with every run, and lacked a bit of luck at the Festival last year when 4th behind Monkfish in the 3-mile Albert Bartlett novices hurdle. As such, I'd favour him to be the best of the UK challenge, and he's at 7/2 NRNB in the betting.

However, you cannot ignore the Irish in this race, and Gordon Elliott will be sending the 9yo Sire Du Berlais, twice a winner of the 3-mile Pertemps Handicap hurdle; last year carrying 11st 12lb off a rating of OR152. I rated that performance about 5lb better than Lisnagar Oscar in the Stayers' Hurdle later on the card, and so a repeat next month would put him bang-there.  However, on 28Dec, Sire Du Berlais was beaten by another improving young staying hurdler - Flooring Porter. Now a 6yo, this horse is trained by Gavin Cromwell who trained Espoir D'Allen to win the Champion Hurdle in 2019, and Darver Star to run 3rd in the Champion Hurdle in 2020; this was no mean feat as Darver Star started the season winning a handicap hurdle as a 7yo off OR106. Back in 4th on 28Dec was Fury Road (3rd in the 2020 Albert Bartlett just ahead of Thyme Hill) and he franked the form with a good run on Sunday 21Feb at Navan.

To my mind, Flooring Porter along with Thyme Hill, are the most likely to win the Stayers' Hurdle. Both are improving, both have age on their side. However, while Thyme Hill is 7/2, Flooring Porter is 14/1 NRNB (and 16/1 without that insurance).  He has to be the value.

Advised wager: Stayers' Hurdle - FLOORING PORTER - £7.50 each-way @ 14/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3) PLUS £5.00 win @ 14/1 (with Paddy Power)


Monday 22 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Monday 22nd Feb (22 days to go)

That was a weekend!  GOSHEN recaptured the form of his novice hurdle season, and looked a proper Champion Hurdle candidate, with easily the best 2-mile hurdle performance we've seen this side of the Irish Sea in some time.  It is not easy to rate the form, but you know it was 160+ as GOSHEN had Navajo Pass (OR156) and Song For Someone (OR158) under pressure a long way out.  He just powered through the mud looking a very good hurdler. It has certainly made me take another look at the antepost betting.

Goshen is at 9/2 NRNB with PaddyPower/Betfair and BetVictor, and those odds look fair to me. Why? Because he's certainly in the frame to win the Champion Hurdle, but the 7lb mares' allowance puts the advantage with Honeysuckle.  It looks like Honeysuckle has improved since winning the Mares' Hurdle (beating Benie Des Dieux) last March, when you watch how easily she won the Irish Champion Hurdle on 06Feb; so you have to think she's also 160+.  If so, Goshen will need to run to 170 to be in with a winning chance, and you have to wonder whether he can as a 5yo.  Maybe his best chance will be in 2022. Current Champion Epatante needs to recover the form of last season, and even that may not be good enough next month. 

The Goshen performance has pushed Honeysuckle out to 11/4 (from 5/2) with Hills and Bet365.  More importantly, it has also possibly moved Mullins to keep CONCERTISTA in the Mares' Hurdle; and she has hardened in the betting to 6/5 (from 6/4).  While we are on the Mares' Hurdle, Henderson has confirmed that the most likely Cheltenham target for Dame De Compagnie is the Mares' Hurdle, and while I cannot see that one troubling Concertista, she should be in the 1st-3 - so I'm happy I took 14/1 ew as she's now 9/1 (Hills & Bet365) and as low as 6/1 with some bookies. 

The other interesting result was CHAMP running 2nd over 2-miles, and I think that was a great effort.  He should improve a lot for the run, and he is now a serious contender for the Gold Cup for which he is 6/1 NRNB.

There will be another update later in the week.

Monday 15 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Monday 15th Feb (29 days to go)

The final race of the opening day is the NH-Chase is for Novices at level weights (what used to be the four-miler) and this usually goes to the horse with the highest official rating - it's as simple as that.  Having watched the Flogas Novice Chase (see the link below), I am in no doubt that MONKFISH is probably going to win the old RSA, now called the "Brown Advisory" Chase, in a canter, before going on and winning the 2022 and 2023 Gold Cups; he looks an immense chaser in the making.

15:10 Leopardstown - 7 February 2021 - Results - Horse Racing - Sporting Life

That means it is likely that LATEST EXHIBITION who came 2nd in the Flogas will, instead, likely go for the NH Chase. Sure, he was no match for Monkfish at Leopardstown, but he jumped well, had a great cruising speed and stayed all the way to the line. He was just beaten by Monkfish in the 3-mile Albert Bartlett hurdle last March and that form is proving absolutely top class. I think he will easily be the top-rated chaser in the NH Chase. There's a thought that Latest Exhibition went backwards in the Flogas, but I think it was Monkfish that improved and set such a strong pace that was miles quicker - 6.90 secs - than the Grade A handicap chase won by OR140 rated Off You Go (10st 8lb) - whereas Monkfish and Latest Exhibition carried 11st 12lb.

Personally, I reckon Latest Exhibition was made to look inept by Monkfish, who is possibly 20lb better than him.  When they met on 29th Dec, the pace was much slower, and so Monkfish didn't look so dominant. Latest Exhibition won't meet anything of that level in the NH Chase.

Current fav Galvin needs to return from a 144-day break and find over 10lb improvement; and Royal Pagaille will, in my opinion, go for the Gold Cup. Why? Because with Monkfish running in the "Brown Advisory" this will be his best opportunity of winning a Gold Cup.  I can see LATEST EXHIBITION starting the fav for this race on the day, and  although the best odds NRNB are just 5/1 with Skybet. you can get 8/1 with William Hill.

Wager:  LATEST EXHIBITION:  £10 WIN = £10 staked @ 8/1 William Hill

You have to watch Lydia Hislop and Ruby Walsh talking (on 12th Feb) about the Dublin Festival races, and Ruby Walsh is also of the opinion that Latest Exhibition was unable to match the pace set by Monkfish, and so was out of his comfort zone:

Road To Cheltenham - Series 2, Episode 13 - (12/02/2021) - Racing TV - YouTube

A recap on selections and thoughts so far:

Day-1: Supreme Novices Hurdle: There's no way I can have a punt on a 7yo in this race, even one trained by Willie Mullins. If Appreciate It wins, then so be it, but I will give this race a miss - apart from my long-odds ew wager on DREAL DEAL @ 20/1.

Day-1: Arkle Novice Chase: Having watched the Dublin Festival win by ENERGUMENE, there's nothing else that I'd have my money on in this race. I believe both Envoi Allen and Shishkin are being rated on their hurdle form of last season and the "potential" they have shown this season - and undoubtedly the pair have huge potential. However, ENERGUMENE ripped-apart this decent field from the front at Leopardstown, and there is no disputing that he is a 162+ novice chaser. With odds of 9/4 available generally, and 11/4 from Bet365, in what looks likely to be a 2-horse race (Envoi Allen is likely to go for the 2m4f novice chase instead), he is my choice.

Day-1 Champion Hurdle: For me, this race is between Honeysuckle or Concertista. I've taken a NRNB punt that Concertista goes for this race rather than the Mares' Hurdle, as I think she's the best we've seen this season; but if she does go for the Mares' then HONEYSUCKLE looks near unbeatable for the Champion Hurdle and once we know the final declarations, we could see a massive gamble on this horse from 5/2 into 6/4 or even shorter.

Day-1 Mares Hurdle: The current odds of 6/4 will look massive if Concertina goes for this race. In the possibility that she goes for the Champion Hurdle, I've taken the odds of 14/1 (ew) about Dame De Compagnie. If CONCERTISTA does line-up for this race she could start as short as 4/9 and she will certainly start odds-on.

Day-2 Brown Advisory Novice Chase (3-mile: the old RSA Chase): This has to be MONKFISH, as he could probably win the Gold Cup if he was in it, and he's already odds-on for this race.

Day-2 Champion Chase: There is no way on earth that anyone can oppose CHANCUN POUR SOI, and it is only the enigma that is Altior that prevents him from being 1/3 odds-on.

Day-2 Cross-Country race: Last year, EASYSLAND took this race in a canter winning by miles, and there is no reason he won't do the same again: odds of 2/1 look very reasonable as he was 3/1 for this race last year.

My short odds accumulator candidates:

Arkle - Energumene @ 9/4

Champion Hurdle - Honeysuckle @ 5/2

Mares' Hurdle - Concertista @ 6/4

Brown Advisory Novice Chase - Monkfish @ 5/6

Champion Chase - Chancun Pour Soi @ 5/6

Cross-Country Race - Easysland @ 2/1

Final selection in 4 win trebles and a win accumulator:

Concertista / Monkfish / Chancun Pour Soi / Easysland

There are a couple of races on Day-3 that look good betting mediums and the odds look fair: the Ryanair Chase and the 3-mile Stayers Hurdle, and I'm examining the form on those races next.

 All the best from Wayward Lad

Saturday 13 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Saturday 13th Feb (31 days to go)

There's no jump racing in the UK today, so that gives me the opportunity to make a start on forming an antepost book for the Cheltenham Festival.  I placed these wagers yesterday with NRNB (non-runner, no bet) bookies at the best odds I could find.  For me, the whole point of an antepost book is placing wagers which give you a distinct chance at great odds should the horse run, so I tend to look for horses that may change targets closer to the day of the race.  This may produce a few odd wagers, but if the horse doesn't run, then you get your stake money back!

Over the next week or so, I'm going to be adding to this antepost portfolio, and - on the Sunday before the Festival - I will be making my selection for the Ultima Chase Handicap on Day-1. 

I'm also going to post a couple of links to race videos on Sportinglife which is free to register with, and when you login you can watch lots of race videos, no limits. I use it all the time.  I've not done this before on the blog, so fingers crossed that it works.  But the reason for doing it is seeing the performance with your own eyes is better than I can explain in words.

Finally, in respect of the Cheltenham Festival, I enjoy trends as some of them are very strong and you just cannot ignore them.  But a trend is not an immovable object, trends help you produce a shortlist and it is form that should be the basis of your final selection.

Day-1 Supreme Novices Hurdle:

The red-hot fav for this is Willie Mullins APPRECIATE IT at 7/4. On paper, his form looks strong, but he's a 7yo and the last 7yo to win the Supreme was Captain Cee Bee in 2008, and before that you have to go back to the time when I had yet to have a shave (and I'm 61yo). So, I think he's going to be beaten by an improving younger horse, as that's what this race is full of: rapidly improving young horses. There is one that jumps out of the page, unbeaten this season 4 from 4, and looked decent LTO at Punchestown, it's DREAL DEAL - watch this race

13:20 Punchestown - 17 January 2021 - Results - Horse Racing - Sporting Life

He was actually hurdling in 2019-20 but not enjoying life, then on 19Sept20 he won a hurdle race at Navan and since then he's improved out of all recognition. I rate his win on 17Jan21 at 145+ and he won so easily he could be better than 150, and that level of performance would see him pushing the front-pair in last years' Supreme won by Shishkin - DREAL DEAL is 20/1 NRNB with Skybet

Wager:  DREAL DEAL £5 ew and £10 win = £20 staked @ 20/1 NRNB with Skybet

Day-1 Mares Hurdle:

This will be an interesting race if the current fav CONCERTISTA (trained by Mullins) goes for the Champion Hurdle instead; and I think she will as in my book Concertista is 5lb better than Honeysuckle and Epatante.  Currently, the Mullins main entry is Sharjah who was 2nd in the Champion Hurdle last season, and he's done nothing since to suggest that he can win this year.

So if there is no Concertista in the Mares Hurdle, what do I think will win that race? 

Not Benie Des Dieux who was 2nd to Honeysuckle last year, as she's not run since. 

Roksana? Just not good enough. For me, there's only one mare that can win this DAME DE COMPAGNIE, and here she is winning the Coral Cup (handicap) last year.

14:50 Cheltenham - 11 March 2020 - Results - Horse Racing - Sporting Life

I realise that her last couple of runs have been over fences, but there are plenty of good mares in the Chase equivalent race and she hasn't shown she's anywhere near as good (yet) a chaser as she was (is) a hurdler. And Henderson has form reverting novice chasers back to hurdles - he did it with Buveur D'Air who won 2 novice chase's before winning the Champion Hurdle. Odds of 14/1 look fair to me NRNB with Paddy Power. And you may want to put that horse in a double with CONCERTISTA @ 10/1 in the Champion Hurdle - also NRNB with Paddy Power.

Wager: DAME DE COMPAGNIE £5 ew and £5 win = £15 staked @ 14/1 NRNB with Paddy Power  


Champion Hurdle: CONCERTISTA @ 10/1 and

Mares' Hurdle: DAME DE COMPAGNIE @ 14/1 £5 ew = £10 staked with Paddy Power

Just to remind you, last year the Profit for the Festival was £104.16 on cumulative "advised" stakes of £186.00. That is equivalent to a Return on Investment of 56%.  And I know a lot of my readers place wagers in multiples of my advised stakes, so they had a very good Festival indeed!

All the best from Wayward Lad.

Friday 12 February 2021

Countdown to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

It's that time of the year again, reputations are still intact, hopes are flying high.  It's been a funny year since last March - no Aintree, no Punchestown, and now (due to the weather) no jump racing at a key point in preparation for the Cheltenham Festival. It all points to a few surprise results in March, there ain't gonna be no certainties!

I'm just about to start my Festival preparation: going thru' last years results and updating my personal stats sheets.  The Irish: you cannot ignore Mullins and Elliot, but don't leave out de Bromhead and Meade.  For the "British" trainers, Nicholls has his strongest stable in a few years, but it is probably a season off peaking. Henderson is having his worst year since I can remember, and while his top horses look tremendous, there is not much depth to his stable. It may be Venetia Williams and even Jonjo O'Neill, who may help balance the books - but the UK trainers just don't have the owners with deep pockets to buy the best, and the 2nd-best, and the 3rd-best horses.  When you look at some of the horses that Mullins casts-off that don't make the grade, they can be £250,000 3yo store-horses - but they aren't good enough for Mullins.

It's pointless looking at the handicaps just now, stick to the graded races.

The Arkle looks like being a classic - and it would not surprise me to see Henderson, Mullins and Elliott all put their top horses in to the hat; it would be very interesting if Elliott takes on Shishkin and Energumene with ENVOI ALLEN and I'm tempted to split my stake and have half at NRNB @ 5/2 and half on at 10/1 or more, just in case Gordon does just that.

The Champion Hurdle looks like going to Honeysuckle, as she has much the best form - but only if CONCERTISTA goes for the Mares' hurdle which looks a walkover for her.  Personally, if we are to have Mares' only races, then in the Championship races there should be no such thing as a Mares' allowance - if mares' are not "strong" enough to meet geldings at level weights, then they should race against their own sex.  Lots of people don't seem to understand that if the mares are good enough to beat geldings on level terms, then giving them a 7lb allowance makes it near impossible for a gelding to beat them. If Concertista goes for the Champion Hurdle, then I can see mares finishing 1, 2, 3 this year, and if that happens then we will almost certainly see the BHA take some sort of action regarding the allowance.  

What we have to hope for over the next couple of weeks is that the weather gets a bit better and the ground is able to dry-out, or we could have a soft/heavy day-1.  We've no racing this weekend with Newbury and Warwick already cancelled, which is not good news for Henderson as he planned to give Champ his first run since winning the RSA Chase - sometimes these trainers forget that the best laid plans can be upset by the weather! I've no idea what Henderson will do now with the horse. Sure, he sent Bobs Worth to win the Gold Cup off a break of 104 days (after he had won the old Hennessey Gold Cup, now the Ladbrokes Trophy), but to go there for his seasonal debut will take some doing.

I have updated my stats spreadsheet which has confirmed that last-time-out (LTO) winners are even more dominant at Cheltenham than they used to be. Since 2002, the year after we lost the Festival to foot & mouth, LTO winners have won 264 of the 483 races run, that's 54.65%. In the past 10 years LTO winners have taken 157 of the 275 races run: that's 57.15%. LTO winning form is getting even more important, and your first consideration has to be winning form last-time-out.

Furthermore, if you include placed LTO (2nd, 3rd or 4th) then the stats are even more dominant: over the past 10 Festivals, only 53 of the 275 races - 19.27% - have been won by a horse that was unplaced, fell or pulled-up LTO.

Last season, there were only 4 such winners: Ravenhill (LTO: fell); Champ (fell), Politologue (UP), It Came To Pass (UP).

The year before (2019) there were only 2 such winners: William Henry (PU) and Sire Du Berlais (UP).

It is also unusual for a Festival winner to come to Cheltenham off a break of more than 12 weeks (84-days). Those 84-days usually take you to Boxing Day. It can happen, but if it does it's either a weak race (Mares' Hurdle or the Cross-Country Chase), or something has been laid-out for one of the handicaps. Generally, the average time since the previous run is 49-days, so give or take 10-days either side gives you the period Saturday 18th January to Sunday 7th February (or thereabouts, depending on whether the race is on Day-1 or Day-4 of the Festival).

Just using these 2 filters will remove a lot of potential losing wagers. Yes, you may miss the odd winner (Ravenhill and Politologue last year) but you won't be chucking money away on silly wagers. And these stats happen year-in, year-out.

If you can, I'd advise watching Lydia Hislop and Ruby Walsh chatting on "The Road to Cheltenham" on You Tube. It is excellent stuff and they both compliment each other with rock-solid opinion. 

Unusually for me at this time of year, I'm not holding a single antepost wager - not one.

So I'm going to spend a few hours this weekend looking at the form of races like the Ryanair Chase (which could be a classic), The NH Chase (the final race on Day-1), and the two 3-mile hurdle races: the Stayers on Thursday (which I think is wide-open), and the Albert Bartlett on Friday.

A few years back I used to write a comprehensive Cheltenham Festival Bulletin, but I just don't have the time for that these days.  It was a huge effort - about 18,000 words - and I never sold enough to justify the time spent, which was about 3hrs per race.  However, I can recommend a similar Festival preview prepared by Richard Stoddart who runs Racing Bulletin which can be found via this link  - I've been in contact with Richard Stoddart for about 10 years and our approach to form interpretation and value are very similar. There is a fee payable, it's not free, and I will receive a small commission for every purchase made via this link.

In the meantime, I'm going to be posting my thoughts and opinions on the Cheltenham Festival here on this blog on a regular basis over the next few weeks - and I may have an experiment with pod-casting!

Just to remind you, last year the Profit for the Festival was £104.16 on cumulative "advised" stakes of £186.00. That is equivalent to a Return on Investment of 56%.  And I know a lot of my readers place wagers in multiples of my advised stakes, so they had a very good Festival indeed!

All the best from Wayward Lad.