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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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Saturday 31 December 2022

Review of the Kempton/Leopardstown graded races

Christmas is over, it's a New Year from Sunday, and we have to start focusing on the Cheltenham Festival in March, which is less that 80 days away. We have a lot of graded races, and top handicaps, to weigh-up and decide on whether they have a bearing or not on the Festival graded races.  

Looking at the Champion Hurdle first, as that race looks the simplest to solve, I'm sure we all wish that we'd put the mortgage on CONSTITUTION HILL @ 2/1 for this race last March (see my blog on 27Mar). The Irish challenge from trainer Willie Mullins comes from STATE MAN who won on 29Dec, and possibly Vauban. Referring again to my 27Mar blog, I wrote that State Man could be a potential Champion Hurdler in 2023 (but I don't have a record of his odds at the time). I'm surprised that Vauban ran this week as I think he will be a better horse in the 2023-24 season, but perhaps Mullins wants a back-up plan should State Man not be able to run at Cheltenham. As for Honeysuckle, I think she's had her day in the sun. However, she may represent the only value left in the betting in the w/o the fav market for which she's 7/2 as - on her best form and with the mares' allowance - she could well be 2nd.

Now the QMCC, and on my ratings this season there's not much between ENERGUMENE and EDWARDSTONE. With Shishkin unlikely to try 2-miles again, and (despite a good win at Leopardstown) Blue Lord is yet to top 160 on my ratings (putting him over 10lb below my top-rated), there is scope for a rank outsider to take 3rd place. It won't be Greanteen who is best going right-handed, and (after a poor run behind Blue Lord) we won't see Chancun Pour Soi at Cheltenham again, so for me NUBE NEGRA @ 33/1 fits the bill. He never runs a poor race at Cheltenham, and was 2nd in the QMCC in 2021 (when going off at 11/1), so as long as the ground isn't soft he looks a great eachway wager. Sure, he was well behind Editeur De Gite at Kempton on 27Dec (Edwardstone falling mid-race), and maybe I'm clutching at straws, but I think he's much better suited going left-handed. Editeur De Gite is an interesting horse as he's clearly a late improver, and if he could repeat this effort at the Festival he will be very interesting there, whatever race he goes for.

The Ryanair Chase has been dominated by Willie Mullins and Allaho for the past few seasons, and the last time we saw Allaho he looked better than ever, and he will only be a 9yo come March.  It will be interesting if Shishkin goes for this race as it looks perfect for him at this time, and odds of 8/1 are worth a small wager as if he does line-up for this he will likely go off at 3/1. There wasn't a performance over the last week that puts anything into contention, as the Irish trained Conflated won a weak Grade 1 - pretty much as he liked - and he is one for the minor places (along with Fakir D'oudairies: and  both are at 12/1) if Shishkin misses the race. 

The betting for the Stayers' Hurdle has been given a shuffle due to the result of the Christmas Hurdle won by HOME BY  THE LEE. There's no doubt HBTL has improved a lot since stepping-up to 3-miles, but he was comprehensively beaten in the Stayers' last March when it was won for the 2nd-time by FLOORING PORTER. I'm not sure HBTL is a better horse now, but he is being ridden with more confidence. Flooring Porter loves Cheltenham, and he went into the race last year without a win in 12 months and it's likely he's going to do the same now. Odds of 8/1 (Bet365) look generous, and he looks a banker for eachway doubles and trebles, as he may well find one to good, but not three. I certainly can't see Klassical Dream improving on last years' 5th place; and we've not seen Blazing Khal since December 2021. Paisley Park retains his form, and is a consistent performer, but he's yet to better Flooring Porter and age is not on his side. After those, you are scrabbling around amongst non-proven stayers and so-called "improvers".  

Finally, we have the Gold Cup with the betting dominated by Galopin Des Champs. There's no doubt that GDC is a top-class horse, but the Gold Cup trip of 3m2f can find out even the best of horses.  Given that he won a Grade 1 novice hurdle over 3-mile beating proven stayers Gentlemansgame, Stattler and Vanillier, then it's likely he will stay the Gold Cup trip. There are problems with A Plus Tard who won the race last year with one of the best performances of the last 20 years, and I can't see him running in the race. For me, the competition for the race will come from L'Homme Presse, Protektorat and Bravemansgame, and possibly Noble Yeats. If STATTLER runs well on 1st Jan at Tramore, a race won by dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo for the past 4 seasons, then he could well go off the 2nd fav - he's currently 16/1 for the GC and having won the NH Chase over 3m6f last March at the Festival we know the horse handles the course and stays the trip.

I'm putting the following into eachway doubles and trebles. Why eachway and not win only? These selections "should" be in the 1st-3 of their respective races, but are either not likely to win (eg: Nube Negra, and Conflated) or could win if luck goes their way.
In the QMCC: Nube Negra
Ryanair: Shiskin & Conflated 
Stayers' Hurdle: Flooring Porter
Gold Cup: Stattler

I have not lost faith in FLOORING PORTER for the Stayers' Hurdle, as he's good enough and young enough to go for a 3rd win in the race.  The Gold Cup looks like it could be a proper gambling race, the betting is wide open and as I'm happy to oppose Galopin Des Champs at the current odds, I'm examining the form to settle on one that will be my significant wager. 

Sunday 4 December 2022

Review of Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th December

What a great day of racing, but (on the downside) an abysmal performance by myself on the tipping front. Maybe I'm not putting enough research into the races, I trying to maintain the methods that have worked well for the last 10 years, but something isn't gelling. So, I'm going to give things a rest and just review the races for a few weeks, and return with my usual Boxing Day "Yankee" on the 26th December.

The jumping performance of novice chaser JONBON was exemplary, so great leaps at speed. I only noticed hesitancy once, and given he is a novice chaser he's allowed a mistake or two while learning his trade.  Boothill performed valiantly to keep the race alive, and also provide a decent yardstick as he won at Ascot LTO and came into this with a rating of OR147.  As he was clearly outclassed and Jonbon almost certainly could have won by further, you have to think Jonbon is capable of 160+  which puts him on a par with Edwardstone (who won the same race as a novice chaser, and won the Tingle Creek later on the card).

The Tingle Creek had a great field with every horse rated OR160+, and what a performance from EDWARDSTONE.  He seems to fiddle a few of his fences, but what an engine! Over the last half-mile there was only one horse in it. So how good was the performance? To be fair, the ground (good-to-soft) was in the winners' favour as the best 3 speed ratings for Greaneteen are on "Good" ground, as such I don't think he was within 10lb of his OR171 rating. If you mark Greanteen at 160, that puts Edwardstone at 171 which makes him a definite challenger for Energumene.  Shiskin? I did write on the blog that he may need a run or two to get back to his best, but talk now is of going to 3 miles with him, and I did write that on my blog back in September!

At Aintree, the Grade 2 "Many Clouds" Chase saw Grand National winner Noble Yeats pitched against one of last season's leading novices: Ahoy Senor. It was no contest - NOBLE YEATS put this race to bed with a great turn of foot coming to the final fence and, with stamina not in doubt, he ran out an easy winner. It was 160+ by Noble Yeats and he could well be in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March as a leading contender. What about Ahoy Senor? Starting with his rating for this performance, I rate his last 6 races 155 / 119 / 155 / 155 / 156 / 150. His "Charlie Hall" run was terrible, but other than that he's been super consistent - but he's not a 160+ chaser.

At Chepstow, FARINET has been threatening a run like that for some time, although it is difficult to assess just how good it was as the field were spread-eagled. He could well follow-up in another 3-mile handicap chase, as he shouldn't go up more than 7lb for this win. 

Fairyhouse on Sunday provided some great racing, including the Grade 1 "Hatton's Grace" hurdle over 2m3f being contested by Honeysuckle, who has previously won this race in 2020 and 2021. Here are my ratings of Honeysuckle since winning this in Nov-2020 - apologies for the screenshot quality.

This will upset some people, but the highest rating I've given her is 161 for winning the 2021 Champion Hurdle: generally I reckon she's about 155-158. She has been winning top-class hurdle ratings off the back of her mares' allowance, combined with the reality that the 2-mile hurdlers of recent years have been a poor bunch.  By my assessment, Honeysuckle will not only have to be at her best next March to win a Champion Hurdle with Constitution Hill running in, but she's going to have to find about 7lb (probably 10lb) of improvement on that. To put in context, she's going to have to run 20lb better than she did on Sunday.   


Friday 2 December 2022

Saturday 3rd December - Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown

Blog updated Saturday morning, comments in blue.
Last week was another Saturday when the selection didn't win but was placed - we've hit the post a number of times this season without scoring. We have another top weekend of racing with the Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown, the Becher Chase at Aintree; as well as great support from Chepstow with the Welsh National Trial, and Wetherby putting on a solid meeting with a couple of Class 3 handicaps. And we also have the World Cup, with England playing Senegal on Sunday evening - and that is a game that could go either way, as Senegal are no pushover. 

At Sandown last year, Nicky Henderson introduced the unraced Constitution Hill in the opener, and this year he sends the unraced Immortal – could be worth a watch.  Over the day, the Henderson horses are going to be the ones to watch, with Jonbon in the “Henry VIII” Grade 2 novice chase, and then Shishkin in the Tingle Creek. I’m sure Henderson won’t send Shishkin if he thinks he’s not ready, but it took the great horse Sprinter Sacre a few runs before he returned to his best, and it may be worth opposing him.  

Last season I found the inner of the London National at Sandown, and this years' race looks a real poser. I'm not sure about the fav Revels Hill: he's won at 3m4f but it looked a weak race to me, and I think he still has to prove himself at this sort of trip. However, having him as the 2/1 fav really opens up the betting and provides an opportunity for a long-odds eachway wager: and one that fits the bill is Almazhar Garde. Still only a 7yo, he's had 18 chase runs, winning 4 times, and he's a strong stayer who likes to race prominently. The form that I'm drawn to is when 2nd at Catterick over 3m6f in Jan22 off OR137. There's plenty of 18/1 and 4-places (5th odds) available, and while he may not win this (he lacks pace at the business end) he could be worth a place-only wager on the exchanges. 

At Aintree, the Grade 2 “Many Clouds” Chase over 3m1f looks a tight affair on Official Ratings with only 4lbs separating the highest rated Ahoy Senor (OR161) from the lowest Sounds Russian (OR157). If the weights were level, I’d have no hesitation in opting for Chantry House: a C&D winner more that proven at this level and higher. However, he’s giving 2lb to Grand National winner Noble Yeats (who is no pushover) and 6lb to the improving Sounds Russian who won LTO at Kelso on 22-Oct. The benefit of already having a run swings it for me. The field assembled for the Becher Chase handicap over 3m2f would not disgrace the Grand National; it looks a cracker.
My own ratings are:
Chantry House     155      plus 0lb = 155
Noble Yeats         149 (p) plus 2lb = 151
Sam Brown         159       plus 2lb = 161
Ahoy Senor        155        plus 3lb = 158
Dashel Drasher   159       plus 6lb = 165
Sounds Russian   149 (p) plus 6lb = 155
Will Dashel Drasher stay the 3m1f trip? It is doubtful as all the others are guaranteed to stay the trip and stamina will be tested. Will the ground be soft enough for Sam Brown to show his best?  In the “Charlie Hall”, Ahoy Senor ran a stinker and may bounce-back, or he may not; for me he isn't reliable enough.  Chantry House ticks a lot of boxes, and he's 11/2 with Bet365, Bet Victor and William Hill.  I will be back again in the morning with an update, in the meantime take advantage of what looks great value on Chantry House. 

The Welsh Grand National Trial Chase at Chepstow may only have 11 runners, but it looks a tough handicap to solve. Top-weight with 12st is Secret Investor who was last seen winning the Grade 2 "Denman" Chase at Newbury beating top-class stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the process.  That was 650 days ago and he will have to be near Gold Cup class to win today. I like Caribean Boy but I think his 287-day absence is also a negative. Elegant Escape has had a recent run, and he's capable of a good run off OR142, he's an eachway chance at 16/1. Secret Reprieve who won this 2 years ago as a 6yo off OR130, and went on to win the Welsh National off OR134, is on a journey of "recovery" (he's only run 3 times since Winning the Welsh Nat in Jan2021) and has a way to go yet.  The race fav is Wayfinder who has won his last 3 races over C&D, but this race is different gravy to what he's been in.  The one that interests me is Southfield Harvest who sneaks into the race with just 10st2lb and a 5lb claimer (so he could have just 9st11lb). I'm thinking Paul Nicholls is running Secret Investor with 12st so that Southfield Harvest has this low weight; and there's plenty of 5/1 about.

Aintree 1:30pm CHANTRY HOUSE - £10 win @ 11/2 (advised on Friday evening)
Chepstow 1:37pm SOUTHFIELD HARVEST - £5 win @ 5/1