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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 4 February 2023

Dublin Festival weekend - 4th & 5th February

What a tremendous weekend of horseracing we have ahead of us. Leopardstown has put together a couple of days of absolutely top-class sport, and come Monday morning we should have a fairly good idea what the final plans are for most of the races at next months Cheltenham Festival. 

Before that, let's take a look back at last Saturday's Trials Day at Cheltenham, and - the the 2nd year running - I drew a blank; but then last year I went on to have what was probably my best ever Festival. So, fingers crossed, let's hope the gambling gods are on my side again. My early wager on Protektorat for the Gold Cup looks cooked. I thought he'd improved over the summer to put in a career-best effort in the Betfair Chase - but perhaps the result flattered him. The 1st-3 home on Saturday - Ahoy Senor, Sounds Russian, and Noble Yeats - will all be looking for a stamina-sapping strong pace on rain softened ground in March, but I fear they will all be struggling come the final 2 fences. Maybe it's time to look again at Bravemansgame? One notable performance, and there were a few, was from Stage Star who carried 11:10 to win the novice h'cap chase in some style. The form looks rock solid, and he looks certain to go well in the "Turners" on Cheltenham Thursday, as that's a race that should cut-up. Trainer Paul Nicholls also sent out Il Ridoto to win over the same trip later in the afternoon, and he looks really interesting going forward, and keep an eye out for the 3 who finished in from of him on New Years Day: Midnight River, Stolen Silver, and Nassalam.  The 3-mile Stayers Hurdle was thrown a curved ball when French-trained Gold Tweet won the Cleeve Hurdle. With Teahupoo elevated to being the antepost fav after a fairly facile win in the "Galmoy" - and I'm not really convinced by either Teahupoo or Home By The Lee - I think this Grade 1 race is primed for a surprise result.

The Irish Arkle on Saturday looks like being a race to savour - what a field! In my opinion, Appreciate It is not a 7/4 chance with this opposition, and if I'm having a wager it won't be on him. It's the other Mullins entries I'm interested in: Dysart Dynamo, El Fabiolo, and Saint Roi (Flame Bearer is the one Mullins entry that I think isn't good enough to be in the field and will likely be used to set the pace). I'm not yet convinced Dysart Dynamo can jump well enough at speed to win this race, but if he does then he will likely win. Ditto El Fabiolo, who I have already punted on for the "Arkle" in March. The one Mullins horse that can jump, and was a very good hurdler (we can only guess how good Appreciate It could have been as a hurdler), is Saint Roi.  He was ridden with a lot of confidence on Boxing Day here at Leopardstown, in a race with good pace - and if he doesn't win this then he should be in the 1st-3, and there are 3-places in this 8-runners race. I'm not convinced that this trip of 2m1f is long enough to see Banbridge at his best, and he will likely struggle in this race.  For me, the best value in the race is EL FABIOLO; he's generally 5/1 (Bet Victor have him at 11/2) as we know he has speed, and has shown he can jump. Like the others, he now has to combine these skills - there will be mistakes, almost certainly one will fall - and I'd rather be on a 5/1 chance to find out than one at 7/4. If Appreciate It wins today then, at as a 9yo, we could be looking at another Moscow Flyer.

The Irish Gold Cup is all about Galopin Des Champs, but he won't have it all his own way.   The 11yo Kemboy will ensure that this is a proper test, as will Stattler (who I have already punted on for the Gold Cup in March), but do not overlook the only entry by Gordon Elliott: Fury Road. He's not top-class, and at OR158 is just a bit too good for anything but the very best handicaps, but he goes well over this C&D as shown when he beat Run Wild Fred who went on to chase home Stattler in the NH Chase at Cheltenham.  If Galopin Des Champs wins today by more than 10-lengths, then he could start odds-on in the Gold Cup. If he only just scrapes home, or is beaten, then we could see a big shake-up in the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Let's be honest: he's unlikely to be beaten on merit as he looks an exceptional horse. God forbid that he falls today, that is no way to win a wager on a horserace. However, it is still 6 weeks to the Gold Cup in March, and horse's do get injured on their home gallops - that's the risk the odds represent. Come 3:15pm today and you could wish that you have £5,000 on at 13/8 for the Gold Cup - but, personally this is a race for watching.

At 3:40 at Leopardstown, we have a Grade B handicap hurdle over 3-miles, and the one in this that I have a personal interest in is Jungle Prose. For a few years I was a member of the Nick Gifford Racing Club, having joined it just a few months before Covid kicked-in. The club had 2 horses, both mares: Mystic Dreamer (who had already won a bumper at Cheltenham) and Jungle Prose. As restrictions were lifted, I was able to attend Warwick races in Sept2020 to watch "JP" in a bumper there. She made-all and won at 14/1 - with it being the last race of the day and only 40-odd people on the course, you can possibly hear me shouting her home on the race video as I had £20 on with the only on-course bookmaker. I apologised for having the wager when I collected my winnings. She went hurdling and I had high hopes, as we knew she was resolute, gave her all, and had a bit of speed about her. Also, with Yeats as a sire, I expected her to be at her best when tackling trips over 2m6f.   Sure enough, a year later in the autumn of 2021, she was racing at 3-miles but kept finding one-too-good in her races. We also found out that she absolutely hated very soft & heavy ground. That winter, 2021-22, she struggled and when the better weather came in the Spring bringing good ground, she had lost her mojo. We thought we'd gone as far as we could with her and, as she had a half-decent page, that a small breeder could pick her up at the sales and try their luck with her in the paddocks. Off she went, and we received a better sale-price than we were expecting; then we learnt who had bought her: Gordon Elliott. 
The rest, they say, is history - Jungle Prose ran a fair race on her stable debut over a trip too short for her (2m4f), and then stepped-up to 2m7f on "good" ground she won 3-weeks later. Then, she won again, and again, and again making 4 wins on the bounce in 5 weeks, and going from OR85 to OR137.  She was tried in a Grade 2 hurdle on 27-Dec but struggled on the soft/heavy ground: no surprise there!  It will be a tough ask for her today, but she has her trip and ground (yielding), plus a 7lb claimer in the saddle. Good luck to her new owners, the Bull On Syndicate - and I see she has an entry at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle over 3-miles, so I may see you there. 

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