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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.


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Friday 28 January 2022

Saturday 29th January, Cheltenham "Trails" Day

A tremendous day of racing this Saturday and - as I will be at Cheltenham on Saturday - this blog is being written on Friday afternoon (it should be online early Friday evening).  I will also be posting via twitter (@wayward_lad) from the course should you want any up-to-the-minute thoughts on the racing and the odds available.  Along with Cheltenham, we have a top-class meeting at Doncaster with the highlight being the Skybet handicap Chase over 3-miles.  This is one of my favourite races in the calendar, but it’s a long time since I found the winner – maybe this year?

The Skybet Chase at 3:20pm is where I will start: there’s a good field of 17 going to post and there’s plenty of entries from top trainers. This is a 3-mile chase that is invariably run at a strong pace: stamina will be at a premium and this is no place to test a horse’s stamina. There are a number of entries that are untried at, or best at, trips under 2m6f such as Nuts Well, Midnight Shadow, Janika, and Kapcourse - as much as they are decent at their preferred trip, I’m passing them over. The likely fave is Fusil Raffles who I tipped LTO at Cheltenham over 2m4f and I do think he is well-handicapped on OR151, and he should stay this trip but I would have preferred him to have run at Cheltenham today over 2m4f.  Cap Du Nord is another who is well-handicapped on OR129 (he was 3rd in this last year off OR139) but is tricky to catch right – it would not surprise me to see him win or come home last of the finishers!  Although older horses have a fair record in this race (6 of the last 10 winners were aged 9yo+), I do not like betting on older horses in competitive races like this (I may be cutting my nose off to spite my face).  This race could be good for Cloudy Glen but, pulling-up LTO, suggests he’s best fresh.  Canelo was 4th in this last year (off OR148) and so looks well-in off OR137 but his recent form is poor. The pair sent by Kerry Lee – Demachine and Storm Control – are the ones who interest me. Storm Control is a bold front-runner who won LTO on 19Jan, but he does like to dominate and if challenged he has tended to chuck-in the towel; this level may be too much but he could well be in the 1st-5 home: current best odds are 14/1 (Bet365). The 8yo  Demachine looks very interesting: he was a very promising novice chaser when just btn by Remastered at Ascot in Feb, and his reappearance in the Ladbroke Trophy (won by Cloudy Glen) was also promising, but perhaps stretched his stamina a tad – this shorter 3-mile trip could see him at his best. I managed to obtain 10/1 on Thursday evening, and the best available on Demachine is 8/1 offered by Bet365 (6/1 everywhere else).

Cheltenham has a cracking meeting, and it is disappointing that some of the races don’t have more entries.  The day starts off at 12:15pm with a 2m1f Class 2 handicap hurdle (which I think in previous years was run later in the afternoon). I will give that a swerve, as I will the juvenile hurdle at 12:45pm, although with Nick Williams having won this race twice in the past few years from just 4 entries his Interne De Sivola needs close inspection.  The Timeform Novices Chase handicap over 2m4f & 127yds at 1:20pm will be my provide first serious punt of the day. I think we could see an improved performance from Oscar Elite, who ran 2nd in the “Albert Bartlett” over 3-mile at the Festival last March. It was unfortunate that he fell on his chase debut, but he’s shown he can jump since even if he’s not graded class (was beaten a long way here in the “Dipper” on New Years’ Day): the best odds available are 9/2.

The Grade 3 handicap chase at 1:55pm could provide me my wager of day. The market reckons Galahad Quest will find improvement on his “Paddy Power” 5th in November to take this – however since then he’s fallen at Aintree and run poorly back here on 01Jan. The Venetia Williams trained Farinet needs soft ground (I reckon) and I’m happy to pass him over. If Paul Nicholls can bring Magic Saint to the course in a good mood then he will win this doing cartwheels off OR147 as he last won here off OR152, and ran a cracker when 2nd here in April off OR157 – but his 3 runs this season have been nothing close to that. For me, it’s JACAMAR: he won LTO on Boxing Day at Kempton, beating the Henderson-trained Mister Coffey and was raised just 3lb to OR133. He was a fairly reliable handicap hurdler and he looks more than good enough to win this.  Currently 8/1 (William Hill & Corals) those odds look very fair to me.

The Cotswold Chase (Grade 2) at 2:30pm looks disappointing to me.  Let’s be honest; if Chantry House turns-up he wins this by a street – but will he? If he doesn’t, who does win the race from the other 4 runners? I do not think Simply The Betts will stay 3m 1f; his only other run beyond 2m5f saw him weaken 4-out at Aintree and pull-up. That means to me, the only other horse to consider is AYE RIGHT, and he is absolutely guaranteed to stay the trip, and he will do it from the front.  That could pave the way for Chantry House, but maybe it will expose any flaws in that one’s stamina. I’ve taken 5/1 to win about Ayr Right, and as I can only see Chantry House beating him I will be placing a straight forecast on the course: Chantry House to beat Aye Right to cover the win-wager on Aye Right.

The Cleeve hurdle at 3:05pm is another small, but top-class, field.  The 10yo Champ is almost certain to win, bar an unfortunate fall.  I think Paisley Park is just too unreliable to wager on, he always seems to flatter to deceive these days.  As such, the horse I think who will follow Champ home is McFabulous who is very reliable, and this 3-mile trip may bring about a tad more improvement, although he did fail on his last attempt at the trip in Nov2020.   

My advised selections (what I will used to measure my performance):

Cheltenham 1:55pm JACAMAR: £5 eachway @ 8/1 (William Hill, 4-places 5th odds)

Cheltenham 2:30pm AYE RIGHT £10 win @ 5/1 plus;
£5 Straight-Forecast: Chantry House to beat Aye Right

Doncaster 3:20pm: DEMACHINE £5 WIN & £5 eachway @ 8/1 (Bet365, 5-places 5th odds) 
Total Staked = £40

Sunday 23 January 2022

Sunday 23rd January 2022

Phoenix Way @ 7/1
Falco Blitz @ 7/1
Good Boy Bobby @ 9/2
Highland Hunter @ 9/1
Protektorat @ 7/2
Jersey Bean @ 16/1
Senior Citizen @ 9/2
These are the winners posted on the blog since it returned for the 2021/22 jumps season back in October - I don't waste your time posting odds-on favs or a handful of selections in a "hit & hope for a winner" style: I look at a couple of races and post a selection that looks a likely winner at value odds. Yesterday it was Phoenix Way at Ascot who won at 7/1 with the 5/2 fav (Knight In Dubai) trailing in last of the 5 finishers about 50-lengths behind our selection. 

What a day for jump racing yesterday, with home-based Shishkin just managing to overhaul the Mullins-trained Energumene on the run-in to take the 2m1f Grade 1 Clarence House Chase.  What does that tell us with regards Cheltenham and the QMCC, where they will likely meet-up again next? Before the race, I advised friends to take the 6/4 about Energumene as I thought he'd be the better horse over this 2m1f trip, whereas I think Shiskin could end-up winning the "King George" over 3-miles at Kempton next Christmas before having a go at winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March 2023. I thought the finishing post would come too soon for Shishkin yesterday.  So - who will prove the best of the pair at Cheltenham in March? There is nothing else in training that comes close to this pair over 2-miles at the moment and I have them 12 or 13lb better than anything else. It looks like Energumene is the better jumper of a fence; he's very quick and almost "skips" his fences; as such I can see Energumene leading the field - it could be a very small QMCC field - down the hill to the tricky 3rd-last fence. This could be were Energumene wins the race, or Shishkin loses it!  I expect Energumene will fly that 3rd-last fence and hopefully nick a length or two in the process, giving him a significant advantage as he turns for home and meets the 2nd-last fence which comes very quickly after the bend.  These two fences will certainly put pressure on the jumping technique of Shishkin, he could even make a serious error (as he did yesterday at the 6th fence, but Nico de Boinville managed to stay in the saddle) that puts him out of contention with the race beyond him.  Then comes the run-in at Cheltenham: this is when the advantage moves from jumping technique to stamina and Shiskin will be gaining ground on Energumene with every stride. 

Another important point to consider is how well both horses will recover from yesterday's race - which was tough for both. Shiskin has run in 4 hurdle races and 7 chases; whereas Energumene has run in 1 hurdle and 6 chase races. Shiskin has usually found +10lb between his race before the Cheltenham Festival and his Festival performance, and he's done this twice. Shiskin has never had as hard a race as this before going to the Festival, so can he find more improvement or is it a case of maintaining him at the same level?  Last season, Energumene ran on 13Jan and again on 06Feb - with that 06Feb run at a performance level with Shishkin in the Arkle - and I expect Mullins was anticipating more improvement had he run in the Arkle (which was won by Shiskin).  As such, I believe that Mullins has a bit more to find in Energumene which, combined with the better jumping for me puts him in the driving seat. As such, I think the odds of 3/1 (NRNB with Bet365) are great odds about a horse as good as ENERGUMENE. 

I've taken a look back through the records, and when the brilliant Moscow Flyer won his 2nd QMCC in 2005 beating Well Chief (OR177) and Azertyiop (OR178) in the process, he went off the 6/4 fav.  I accept that there's only 2 horses in contention for this years QMCC, but I think come the day we will be looking at "evens" about Shishkin and 7/4 about Energumene and the 3rd in the betting at around 16/1.

Suggested wager:
Queen Mother Champion Chase 2022
ENERGUMENE:  £20 win @ 3/1 with Bet365 NRNB

Saturday 22 January 2022

Saturday 22nd January 2022 - Peter Marsh Chase

We hit the winners enclosure last Saturday with the 7/1 winner Falco Blitz at Kempton from the 2 selections posted on the blog. And then I only went and talked myself out of another good winner in Caribean Boy who won at 9/2. That was great value and I need to give myself a good taking to about missing him. As I wrote: if he stays he wins - and he had a 40% chance of staying the trip and so he was a 7/4 chance trading at odds of 9/2. Damn & blast!

We have a great day of racing today, especially at Ascot with the clash between Shishkin and Energumene in the Clarence House Stakes.  For what it's worth, I think Shishkin has the better form in the book, but Energumene isn't far behind and has enormous potential - it should be a classic and I cannot split them.

I've taken a look at the handicap chases at Ascot, and they are both competitive affairs. The 2m5f h'cap chase at 2:55pm has just 7 runners, and the top-weight Fanion D'Estruval is running off OR159 and so giving at least 17lb to the rest of the field; and I think that's a tad too much.  The 9yo Palmers Hill has won both starts this season, including over 2m3f here at Ascot in December; as such h's gone-up 12lb in the ratings to OR142. However, I think his owners other horse in the race Phoenix Way has a better chance of winning this. He was highly tried as a novice chaser last season, so connections obviously think he has potential, and his run here at Ascot over 3-miles in December was a significant step forward. Off the same mark of OR140 on the soft ground he could have the stamina required to take this. Odds of 11/2 look fair value and there is some 6/1 out there.

The other race at Ascot I've taken a look at is the 3-mile handicap chase at 1:10pm. I do not like the fav and top-weight in this race Cat Tiger: he is probably better than OR132, but not much - and he has some problems with his attitude as he does switch-off in races.  The remainder of the field of 10 all have some issues about them, so I'm expecting this race to be won by a horse that is clearly better than his rating but appears to have lost his way: Port Of Mars.  He has pulled-up in his last 2 races, and LTO that was behind Cat Tiger - so I realise there has to be a big turnaround here. But he won going right-handed at Hereford 12 months ago and was considered a potential Festival horse after that run so, off just OR133 here, he's worth an eachway fun punt at 16/1 to small money.

The Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock at 2:35pm is over 3, 1f & 125 yards and looks a cracker of a betting opportunity.  It's no surprise to see Remastered as one of the market leaders along with Royal Pagaille, but I think Remastered could find this trip too much as he did LTP over C&D. As for Royal Pagaille, if he can win this off OR163 with 11st 10lb in the saddle then he has to be considered for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham (if there's any fuel left in the tank after the effort required to win this). For me, I am amazed that odds of 12/1 are available about 3-time (from 4 races) course winner Lord Du Mesnil for this race - he ran a cracker LTO at Wetherby on Boxing Day in the "Rowland Meyrick" and comes here in top form.  Usually carrying over 11st (he had 11st 12lb LTO) he has just 10st 13b in the saddle today. We know he stays well, runs prominently, is consistent, jumps well - ticks a lot of boxes this horse!

My advised selections today:
Haydock 2:35pm LORD DU MESNIL : £5 eachway @ 12/1 (Bet 365)
Ascot 2:55pm PHOENIX WAY : £5 win @ 6/1 (Bet 365)
£2.50 eachway double
Total staked = £20 

Saturday 15 January 2022

Saturday 15th January 2022 - Warwick Classic Chase handicap

After a quiet period of horseracing, we have a fairly decent day to take a look at with good meetings at Kempton, Warwick and Wetherby.  There are a couple of top races on: at Kempton there's the £100,000 Lanzarote handicap hurdle over 2m5f; and at Warwick there is the £100,000 "Classic" handicap chase over 3m5f. My preference is to stick with the chase races. 

In the "Classic" at Warwick at 3:00pm; last years winner Notachance runs off the same rating of OR139, but while last year he carried 10st 5lb this year he carries 11st 9lb. This looks a tricky race to fathom, but I keep coming back to the topweight Corach Rambler @ 6/1 and Gericault Roque, the fav @ 4/1.  Those odd do not look value to me, and if I was pushed to have a wager on the race then I'd be looking at taking an ew punt on something like Minella Encore who - while he is unlikely to win - should be in the 1st-5 should he complete the race, and 14/1 (5-places ew) with several bookies looks fair.

Kempton has a cracking card of races, but it's a bit disappointing that the 2m4f chase at 1:32pm has been reduced to just 7 runners from 16 entered midweek. I'm happy to oppose the fav Champagne Court on two counts: he's the oldest horse in the race at 9yo, and I think this trip could just stretch him a bit. The 2nd-fav Foxboro looks a horse who is hard-work for the jockey, and so I don't think putting a 5ln claimer in the saddle is a good idea. Just over 12 months ago, it was an impossible task for Falco Blitz (OR139) to concede 7lb to Killer Clown (now OR142) over C&D, and he had no chance over 3-mile on his seasonal debut LTO.  This trip could see him go well, and odds of 5/1 (11/2 in places) look fair.  I also like Kap Auteuil but think this trip could be a bit sharp for him and he probably will want a strongly run race to figure at the finish, but I think his next win will be over a trip of 3-miles. I just cannot see the other 3 runners - Fanzio, Lock's Corner or Twenty Twenty - winning this race.  So, for me, the Nicky Henderson trained FALCO BLITZ @ 5/1 (sorry, the 11/2 has gone while writing, and he's 9/2 in places now) looks the WIN wager - £10 on.

Kempton's 3-mile handicap chase at 3:15pm looks a good race for a punt: just 8 runners and they are all well-known chasers. The fav for the race is Caribean Boy trained by Nicky Henderson, and question is will the horse stay this 3-mile trip? His best race (on my ratings) was when 7th in the "Plate" handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March carrying 11st 11lb in this top class handicap.  He was running off OR153 that day, and he has a real chance today off OR145 if his stamina holds out.  There are no stamina issue's about Kitty's Light, but will he handle the soft ground well enough to show his best form?  The consistent Smarty Wild won his only chase (from 9 starts) here at Kempton, but that was over an extended 2m4f. Again, the question is will he stay the trip? I'm never happy placing my money on 12yo horses, and although Double Shuffle who loves it here at Kempton could run a big race (and the emphasis is on the word "Could") I'm passing over on A Toi Phil and Wishing And Hoping. Christian Williams has done well finding 3 races to win for Strictlydancer, but this looks a tough ask given he isn't the quickest of horses. The Peter Bowen trained Mac Tottie is interesting, as he stays this trip, handles soft ground, and he's won going right-handed at Market Rasen. I just feel he was flattered when winning over the National fences at Aintree in November, and a rating of OR141 is possibly 7lb too high - but he does tick a lot of boxes, in a race with many having question marks.  If Caribean Boy stays this trip then he's the most likely winner, but with just 8 runners and Skybet offering 4-places and 11/1 about MAC TOTTIE, that has to be the value eachway wager for me.

Kempton 1:32pm FALCO BLITZ - £10 win @ 5/1 (available generally)
Kempton 3:15pm MAC TOTTIE - £5 ew @ 11/1 (Skybet 5th odds a place 1,2,3,4) 

Monday 3 January 2022

Cheltenham Festival - the Arkle 2-mile novice chase

Putting together an antepost portfolio for the Cheltenham Festival requires a bit of thought: not in finding the best horse for the race, but in ensuring that you have a likely runner in the race.  The "Arkle" has been contested by only a handful of runners in some recent years:-
2021: Shiskin beat just 4 rivals,
2020: Put The Kettle On beat 10 others,
2019: Duc Des Genievres beat 11 others,
2018: Footpad beat just 4 rivals,
2017: Altior beat 8 rivals
When the fav is odds-on, the number of runners is likely to be in single figures - is Ferny Hollow likely to go off the odds-on fav?

 Current betting as at 3rd January 2022

The fav for the race is Ferny Hollow trained by Willie Mullins. The 2020 Champion "Bumper" winner, beating stablemate and subsequent 2021 Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Appreciate It in the process, won his only novice hurdle race beating subsequent 2021 Ballymore Novice Hurdle winner Bob Olinger into 2nd place. Injury curtailed his hurdling season, and he returned to racing last month with a facile win at Punchestown. He's followed that up with a good win at Leopardstown on Boxing Day giving 13lb to the useful Riviere D'Etel, and that form makes this quality horse the 2/1 fav for the Arkle. It is likely that Ferny Hollow will run again in the Irish "Arkle" on 5th February at Leopardstown, and a win there could see him start at 6/4 (or even shorter) come the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The best of the UK challengers is Edwardstone, trained by Alan King. He probably wasn't as good a hurdler as Ferny Hollow, but he is very consistent and has taken that consistency into his chasing. His win on 27th Dec at Kempton was a top-class performance for a novice chaser, and Alan King has suggested that he will go to Warwick for the "Kingmaker" on 12th February. What I like about this horse is that he never runs a bad race, and he also looks like he will stay 2m4f.  While Alan King has not done well at recent Cheltenham Festivals, he does know how to win the "Arkle".  

Blue Lord is another Mullins-trained horse, but his form is trickier to fathom, as his best performance on paper was when falling at the final hurdle in the Supreme Novices hurdle last March.  He looked like coming home a good 2nd that day; but his form before or since then does not suggest he's an "Arkle" winner.

As referred to above, Bob Olinger won the 2021 Ballymore Novices Hurdle in impressive fashion, and before that he'd "mullered" Blue Lord. He didn't look too convincing on his novice chase debut, but he did win, and Master McShee - also on his chase debut - in 3rd (btn 16 lengths) has since won well. That was in November and unless we see Bob Olinger run again soon, and win in decent fashion, then I don't think he will be winning the "Arkle".  He is the 6/4 fav for the "Turner" (used to be the RSA Chase) over 3-miles, but those odds look silly.  

It's not unusual to see Mullins have multiple entries in the novice races at the Festival, and I was impressed with the chase debut of Haut En Couleurs at Leopardstown on the 27th Dec. There were some good words from Mullins after that win, and it has to be remembered that he placed the horse on his debut for the stable in the Triumph Hurdle last March, in which he ran 3rd.  It would not surprise me to see this horse improve over 10lb next-time-out, and he looks very exciting.

At this point, it seems likely that there will be fewer than 10 runners in the race, with Ferny Hollow going off the odds-on fav - especially if he wins (as is likely) the Irish "Arkle" on 5th February.  This is a time & tested route to the Arkle for Willie Mullins, and he was successful with Footpad (in 2018) and Douvan (in 2016), but it is not guaranteed. I think there is better value in finding a likely runner that will be placed in the race, and the two that jump out are Edwardstone and Haut En Couleurs.  There is no "non-runner, no-bet" offers available on the Arkle yet, so there is the risk of losing the stake, but the 14/1 about Haut En Couleurs offered by Bet365 looks very tempting, especially as in my opinion he could be a 160+ 2-mile chaser.

Suggested Antepost Wager:
Arkle 2-mile Novice Chase:
HAUT EN COULEURS - £5.00 eachway @ 14/1 with Bet365, 5th odds a place 1,2,3