Welcome to the World of Horseracing

Record of the blog selections

LOSS for the 2016-17 Jumps Season = £40.87

from wagers on 55 individual races (6 winners, 12 placed)

Total Staked = £609.00


Since March 2010, this blog has recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, at cumulative stakes of £5,726 - which has resulted in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 equivalent to a Return on Investment of 26.60%.


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Return of the Duke

Yesterday’s selection FORGOTTEN GOLD fell mid race. This was unfortunate as, from the end result which saw LTO winner Bennys Mist staying-on to take the race from the 11/1 chance Rouge Et Blanc, I’m sure had FORGOTTEN GOLD completed the race then he’d have been upsides the winner at the finish. Looking at how I read the race yesterday, I’m happy with my assessment as coming to the final fence there was not much in it between the 1st-2 and it was only a mistake by Rouge Et Blanc that handed the advantage to the winner. Also, as I suggested, Coolking ran a great race until lacking the stamina to see it thru’ and only just failed to take 3rd.

Later on the same card, the novice handicap chase went to Brick Red, and so provided another winner for trainer Venetia Williams. After a period of what looked a decline into a middle-ranking trainer from 2007 to 2012, she has bounced back to the top rank with 90 winners last season and she’s now on 53 winners this season. While still some way off the heady strike-rates achieved between 1997 to 2001 when she regularly hit over 26% of wins to runs, it seems (no doubt) that her Grand National win in 2009 with Mon Mome has brought her a new influx of owners and young horses which is now coming to fruition. BRICK RED was better suited by Wincanton than Newbury and, as sharper tracks seem to suit this horse best, he could be an OR145+ horse in the making. I did think the ratings for both Tresor De Bontee (OR122) and Close House (OR138) were on the high side, and so it proved.

Just a single jump race meeting today at Catterick.  There is a “jumpers bumper” meeting at Kempton to give horses a racecourse outing , but I am giving that a wide berth. The first couple of races on the card at Catterick are not my cup-of-tea being a selling hurdle and a juvenile hurdle. Then the 5-runner novice handicap chase at 2:10 looks very tricky to solve. The novice hurdle at 2:45 looks to be a “match” between Vice Et Vertu and Classic Move, so there’s no value to be found there.

The Class 3 handicap hurdle over 3m1f & 110 yards looks more interesting as although the fav Campbonnais won well over 2m4f LTO, it was only a Class 5 race. He may have been a decent 3-mile chaser a couple of years ago, but he’s lost his way since then and was never much to write home about as a hurdler. As such, I’d be happy to oppose him in this race, but what with? It is interesting that Duke Of Monmouth returns to hurdles after losing interest in chasing. As far as ability goes, he’s lost none judging by his win at Uttoxeter in November, so off a mark of OR118 which is just 1lb above his last winning hurdle rating (07Nov12 at Warwick over 3m1f on soft) he could be worth a wager.  Add the use of 1st-time blinkers and this could be an opportunity for DUKE OF MONMOUTH to run a lot better than his current odds of 22/1 (Stan James).

The next race on the card, a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m3f looks competitive. Chicklemix did me no favours LTO when beating my selection Free World, but the mare was hard-ridden to win that day and the 6lb hike to OR114 looks harsh. The fav is Pearls Legend needs to improve his jumping and I’ve also a feeling that his rating is a bit on the high side too, so he’s opposable. Billy Cuckoo ran well here LTO over C&D, but he needs things to fall right for him so he can win. That regular rider Dougie Costello has passed over the ride for stablemate Qoubilai is not a positive. The mare Kykate was going well and looking like winning when being brought-down 3-out LTO, and this slightly shorter trip will be in her favour. Granville Island is more of a 2-mile horse and soft ground does not bring the best out in him, and the same can be said for Arctic Ben, tho’ he does stay 2m4f. As such, KYKATE is the horse which I think is most likely to be in front at the finish unless the fav Pearls Legend gets his jumping together. Not an easy race and, at odds of 4/1, there’s no real value in KYKATE.

Selection:
Catterick 3:20 DUKE OF MONMOUTH, £5 eachway @ 22/1 with Stan James (5th odds a place, best odds guaranteed)

Total = £10 staked

Thursday, 30 January 2014

There's Gold in them there hills

Just the one jump race meeting today, at Wincanton. The ground is heavy (soft in places) but no further rain is anticipated. The Clerk of the course reports that they have the “driest ground since November”, there today.

It is getting close to the end of the period when trainers with Cheltenham Festival entries must try and get their final preparatory run into their horses.  If they haven’t got a run in by Sunday 16th (at the latest) then their chances at the Festival will be severely diminished.

There are a couple of interesting races here. The 2:40 is a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m5f with 9 runners. The fav is Bennys Mist who won 2 weeks ago in a race that I reviewed on the blog. My selection that day was Denali Highway who ran an absolute stinker due, I think, to the extremely sloppy ground. Personally, I didn’t think much of that win by Bennys Mist as he merely coped best with the conditions, but he’s been raised 6lb and that may be too much for him today. I can’t side with Bertie Boru as he basically only beat one other horse LTO over todays C&D. Venetia Williams (trainer of Bennys Mist) also runs Carrickboy who, coincidentally, ran in this race last year before going on to win at the Cheltenham Festival.  However, he pulled-up that day despite having won earlier in the month on heavy ground, and he’s a quirky horse who if in the mood would win this easily. Ultragold has only had 3 races in the UK (he was racing in France before that) and he’s been found wanting for stamina on the last couple of runs over 3-mile, despite travelling strongly. This drop to 2m5f could be just what he’s looking for and, having won on similar ground in France (twice), he looks interesting. Forgotten Gold did not seem to enjoy racing around the National fences at Aintree LTO but his form before that puts in in the frame for this, altho’ today’s trip is on the short side. He does like to run prominently tho’ and that could be to his advantage today.  Current odds of 7/1 look very fair and make him an eachway chance.  Rank outsider Coolking won at Sligo in Ireland last October on heavy ground, and he could sneak a place at long odds. The ground is against Requin; Rouge Et Blanc will find this trip more suitable than his last few runs over shorter but his OR127 rating looks too high for him to be competitive.  Webberys Dream usually goes well at Wincanton but he’s coming here today off a long break. The one that looks to be the best value is FORGOTTEN GOLD as you can excuse his run LTO and before that he was looking like a chaser who could potentially be OR145+.

The 3:40 at Wincanton is an interesting race in that all 4 of the runners in this 2-mile novices handicap chase are on my alert list. Brick Red may find his OR135 rating a bit high as he’s not a horse who stays much beyond 2-mile. Notarfbad will probably not enjoy this heavy ground. As for Tresor De Bontee, he won his chase debut beating Lord Of House and that won won NTO looking very useful and is now rated OR138. That makes the OR122 rating for Tresor De Bontee look a tad harsh. As such, that makes the highly tried Close House look interesting if he can improve his jumping.  The heavy ground will be not be a problem for him, and being a winner over 2m6f at Wincanton on heavy ground as a hurdler, he’s got plenty of stamina. That said, his chase rating of OR138 looks very stiff and is obviously taken from his form as a hurdler.  It’s unlikely that Close House will go any longer in the odds than 3/1, but he may well go shorter and so push out the odds on Tresor De Bontee.  If I can obtain 9/4 (or longer) on Tresor De Bontee then I’ll be tempted to have a wager on this race.

 
Selection:
Wincanton 2:40 FORGOTTEN GOLD, £5 win & £5 eachway @ 7/1 with William Hill (5th odds a place, best odds guarantee)

Total = £15 staked

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Weather takes its toll on horseracing

It has not been a great week for jump racing and today (Wednesday) we have lost all the planned jump race meetings in the UK - and there were 3 planned at Leicester, Ludlow and Newcastle.
Tomorrow, Towcester's card is already in doubt with an inspection planned for today at 1pm, and Wincanton is due an inspection at 7:30am tomorrow morning. With rain forecast throughout today, it looks doubtful that either of these meetings will go ahead.
Friday's planned meetings at Catterick and Cheptstow also look doubtful. Chepstow is having an inspection as I write this blog but with the course waterlogged in places and rain forecast for today, Thursday and Friday (when it could be very heavy), it is difficult to see a positive outcome. Catterick on Friday is probably the best chance of jump racing before the weekend.
Saturday see's 3 meetings at Sandown, Ffos Las, and Wetherby and the ground is already heavy at all these tracks and we've yet to have the forecast rainfall.

As such, I'm using my free-time to put together my Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for 2014.
This year's bulletin will have a slightly different format, which has been brought about due to the loss of my statistical records going back to 2002. I'd used the enforced break caused by the Foot & Mouth disease of 2001 which stopped the Cheltenham Festival going ahead to form a natural "line in the sand" for my trend analysis. So, what I'm doing this year is adding a 3rd-part to the Bulletin. Previously, I'd produced a general overview of the Festival and what to look for; then I'd put together a race-by-race assessment of trends and personal notes. This year, the overview will remain but the race-by-race assessments will be briefer. To compensate, I'm introducing a final section "The Essays" which will be a more in-depth look at some of the races in which I think there can be found an advantage for the informed punter.

The Bulletin in 2013 was a 12,000 word document and it is likely that this years Bulletin will be closer to 15,000 words. As such, I'm hoping on improving on last years performance which produced a 12pt return on stakes of 6pts; that a "return-on-investment" of 100%. As per last year, those blog readers who have already donated at least £10 since 30th September 2013 will automatically receive a pdf version of the Bulletin when it's ready.  

Sunday, 26 January 2014

BIG BUCKS beaten

I suppose it had to happen some time and, if it was going to happen, yesterday when returning off a 420-day break was possibly the most like time it would. Even so, it was a tremendous effort and (at the weights) he was the best horse in the race. I rated the performance equal to that when he won the Cleeve Hurdle in 2009 and a repeat in March will see him win the World Hurdle. He should come on a bit for the run, so I really cannot see any point in opposing him except if he has a recurrence of his injury between now and then which would prevent him taking part. Now out to 5/2 for the World Hurdle, he's looking like forming the mainstay of my antepost wagers.

I did not have much luck with my recommended wagers. At Cheltenham, TAP NIGHT was disappointing having dropped too far off the pace early on. Being ridden by AP McCoy, I cannot imagine this tactic was planned so it is more likely the horse was playing-up. Even so, the horse made great progress before the 2nd-last and flirted with getting involved, but the effort proved too much. Had he run to the form expected he'd have won this race as he's about 12lb better than this. As expected, Double Ross ran a good race but in my opinion he's not improving he is just very consistent. If he goes up again, and it is likely, then he's going to find life tough. As for Wishful Thinking he bounced back to his best to take this. I've never thought him better than a 160 performer, but he does love Cheltenham and this was his 4th win from 6 starts at this 2m5f trip (he was 2nd on another occasion) and with 4 wins from 6 runs on soft ground, he was always likely to handle the heavy ground. This was an improvement on his run here in the Paddy Power when the ground then was possibly too quick for him.

At Doncaster, NIGHT IN MILAN ran a great race until the final half-mile when he literally ran out of puff. He was taken-on for the lead by Solix and the pace set by that horse was far too fast for the ground which looked more heavy than soft. As such, in my opinion the race collapsed in the final half-mile when the eventual winner The Rainbow Hunter and 2nd-placed Belle Anrai stayed on. Considering that Belle Anrai was easily brushed aside by NIGHT IN MILAN when they met over C&D in December and was only 4lb better off on Saturday, I'm sure that NIGHT IN MILAN would have run a lot better had he not been challenged for the lead by Solix.

Not a great day, but we only lost £16 of the £30 staked as TAP NIGHT secured 3rd place.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Cheltenham Trials Day

After the hullabaloo of this week, it’s back to what we know best – Cheltenham and the Festival trials meeting. I have an absolute stack of runners from my alert list and I’ll try and sort thru’ those to find us all a decent wager.

Cheltenham:
1:50 – RENARD, TAP NIGHT, SHANGANI
2:25 – HOUBLON DES OBEAUX, ROCKY CREEK
3:00 – RED SHERLOCK
3:35 – REVE DE SIVOLA, QUARTZ DE THAIX,
4:10 - WATERUNDER

This meeting at Cheltenham is one that I await eagerly and I’ve had some good results at in the past. The first race on my radar is the 1:50, a Grade 3 handicap over 2m5f. Of my alert list runners I’m going to delete Renard as (off OR143) he’s handicapped to the hilt; and Shangani is best at trips less than 2m4f. I like the chance of TAP NIGHT; he’s slipped down the ratings from OR153 to OR142 and he’s much better suited by soft/heavy ground than the “good” ground he’s run on recently.  His 2nd to Cloudy Too (went on to win the Rowland Meyrick) in November on heavy ground looks very good now, and he meets Double Ross on 18lb better terms from their last encounter. Double Ross looks held now, tho’ he’s sure to be thereabouts as he loves Cheltenham. Paul Nicholls runs both Cedre Bleu and Ulck Du Lin, but the former is held on form and the latter is an in-and-out performer.  Our Mick is a much better performer on Good-to-soft or better ground, but he could be thereabouts as he’s well handicapped off OR140. Kumbeshwar looks held, as does Wishful Thinking. Finally, Sew On Target has run 5 times at Cheltenham without winning, and is probably better over a shorter trip. Odds of 9/1 (BetVictor) about TAP NIGHT look huge as I’d have expected him to be the 9/2 2nd-fav to Double Ross as he the ground, trip and AP McCoy in the saddle.
The Argento Chase should go to ROCKY CREEK and he’s the 6/4 fav for this race. He could be followed home by Harry Topper if that one jumps a bit better, or Champion Court. I’m not sure that Houblon Des Obeaux goes best at left-handed tracks as a chaser (won here over hurdles).
I’m certainly expecting RED SHERLOCK to maintain his unbeaten run, and he’s 6/4 to do so.
And who can oppose the mighty BIG BUCKS? I’ve already suggested taking the 2/1 about him for the World Hurdle as, should he win this race as expected, then he’ll be 4/9 for the Festival.

Doncaster:
12:25 – HIDDEN JUSTICE
12:55 – FOX APPEAL
1:30 – RODY, KING OF THE WOLDS
3:15 – NIGHT IN MILAN, GULLINBURSTI, KRUZHLININ

The Doncaster meeting is also a cracker and worthy of being the feature meeting of the day. The meeting opens with a handicap hurdle over 2m3f and altho’ Hidden Justice was noted by me last Feb when winning over 2-mile on soft at Catterick, his seasonal debut 3-weeks ago was poor. I’m expecting a much improved run today. Altho’ Fox Appeal is on my alert list, I cannot seriously see him troubling the ex-Champion Hurdler ROCK ON RUBY.
The 1:30 is a 2-mile class 2 handicap chase, and the ground being good-to-soft will probably be too quick for Rody who needs it soft/heavy. My other alert list runner, KING OF THE WOLDS was unlucky to meet and in-form Pepite Rose LTO and was out-classed. He can go close in this as I think he’s well-treated on form off OR132.
The feature race at Doncaster is the Skybet Chase over 3-mile. There are 3 alert runners in the race and I can see them all contesting the finish. Gullinbursti hasn’t won beyond 2m6f from 7 attempts, so it’s difficult to see him rectifying that stat in this competitive race, but he could be placed. McCain’s Kruzhlinin has looked an improved performer since stepping up in trip from 2m4f, winning his last couple of starts. But all 6 of his wins have come in fields of 9 or less runners and when faced with 19 rivals at Cheltenham last March (with trip and ground in his favour) he struggled. It may be worth watching him for the first mile to see how he goes and, if favourable, having a small in-running wager. It is NIGHT In MILAN who I have liked the look of all week, and I did mention him on Wednesday, and he is 12/1 available generally, tho’ Bet365 go eachway 4 places. The trip and going will be perfect for NIGHT IN MILAN, and he’s a course winner too winning here LTO over C&D. After that win I wrote: NIGHT IN MILAN has been on my alert list since running 3rd to Chac Du Cadran in the North Yorkshire National (10Jan13). This horse is a very good 3-mile chaser (tho' his stamina cannot be relied upon beyond 3m1f) and he went one-better than his 2nd in the same race last year at Doncaster. This has to go down as a missed opportunity for me. He held his form well last season and so long as he's not raced on soft/heavy or beyond 3m1f, then he can be followed.
The fav Unioniste will run well, but I feel that his rating is OR153 is high enough for him and he’ll not be able to carry topweight to victory.

Selections
Cheltenham 1:50 TAP NIGHT, £5 win & £5 eachway @ 9/1 with Bet Victor (5th odds a place 1,2,3)
Doncaster 3:15 NIGHT IN MILAN, £5 win & £5 eachway @ 12/1 with Bet365 (¼ odds a place 1,2,3,4)

Total staked = £30

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Caught by the short & Curley's (again)

Yesterday, a significant betting “coup” was pulled-off that was almost certainly engineered by Barney Curley. There has been a lot of “hero” worship of the man considered the scourge of the bookies but, in my opinion, this hero-worship is misdirected.

Here is what I wrote on 16th September 2010.
At Yarmouth, Barney Curley sends a couple. The one that interests me is his progressive hurdler ZABEEL PALACE, currently 11/1. If he’s fit to race, then he’ll win this doing handsprings (he’s reated OR129 over hurdles and I usually discount by 40lbs for a flat rating, ie OR89 which makes his rating today of OR66 a handicap snip). However, if he’s spent the summer eating grass in a field then he’ll no doubt come last. Paddock inspection required!

Here is what I wrote on 20th July 2010
Barney Curley is a name that puts fear into bookmakers, and he struck last Friday evening in the last race on the card at Newmarket by winning with his only runner of the day - AVISO.

Think about this; Aviso, which won off OR67 at 25/1, had won the Group 2 German 2000 Guineas as a 3yo, with the Mark Johnston trained Champery in 3rd. Champery then won a Listed race in France NTO and ended up with a rating of OR107 before he died as a 4yo. How does an OR110+ Group 2 winner at a mile end up at OR67 in a Class 5 handicap at Newmarket over the same trip? Well, it doesn’t happen by it running well. It has to run, and run poorly for its handicap to drop. Read this note on its running; “Took keen hold, soon tracking leaders, lost place over 1f out, eased.” That was Aviso on 29-Mar 2009 when trained by Curley, and it came 17th of 19 in a class 4 handicap. Aviso has now won 2 of his last 3 races at odds of 6/1 and 25/1.

 The methods of Barney Curley are fairly simple.

1.       Buy a horse with proven ability (yesterday’s winner Eye Of The Tiger, had won a Group 2 over 12-furlongs in Germany as a 5yo in 2010).

2.       Leave horse standing in a field for a long time not being trained (Eye Of The Tiger did not run from May 2010 until April 2012 – nearly 2 years off the track – when it ran appallingly badly).

3.       Force handicapper to re-assess rating by sending horse to race when unfit and watch it be easily beaten. (from May 2012 to September 2012, horse dropped from OR102 to OR56 having run last (or 2nd-last) in 5 consecutive races).

4.       When rating has dropped enough, train horse to race-fitness and send out to win.

 
The unfortunate thing about this is that, on the face of it, no rules of racing have been broken – and that is an appalling oversight by the BHA. It is one thing for a trainer to send a race-fit horse to contest a race over an unsuitable trip or on unsuitable ground as that can be construed a fact-finding mission. It is quite another to send a totally unfit horse to the races whereupon it is soundly beaten.

Consider the Rules of Racing:
PART 3 - GENERAL DUTIES OF TRAINERS - (C)21 to (C)49
Clause 45. Duty to secure the best possible placing;
I think this should be amended to include a sub-clause which state a horse should be fit enough to race to its merit. If a horse is found unfit to race (which has resulted in an exceptionally poor performance) then the stewards may order that (a) the horse is to be banned for life, or (b) the official rating is to remain unchanged.

The adverse publicity for this coup by Barney Curley means that (for the general public) the image of horseracing being “bent”, “fixed” or some other derogatory term, is reinforced.  Only last Friday, I was talking to some friends over dinner and discussed this blog: “Isn’t all horseracing fixed?” came the reply. No, it’s not (I replied), but sometimes I feel like I’m ploughing a lone furrow in giving it my support.

 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Potential Festival double

Another quiet day on the jump racing scene today. Neither of the meeings at Catterick or Southwell hold any interest for me.
Looking ahead to the weekend, we have the exciting "Trials" day at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The feature race is the Argento Chase over 3m1f & 110 yards and the antepost fav ROCKY CREEK looks very interesting. Currently 5/2, he should be able to find a few pounds of improvement on his Hennessy run when 2nd to Triolo D'Alene especially on soft ground which will favour him a ;ot more than the "good" ground he encountered at Newbury LTO. He's never won in 4 races on "good" ground, but is 4 wins from 5 starts on round with the word "soft" in the description. The horse who beat him in the Hennessy, Triolo D'Alene, is the complete opposite regrding ground and has not won in 3 starts on "soft". He's also not run well in his 2 races at Cheltenham and that is enough doubt to strengthen the position of the fav Rocky Creek.
There is also a good handicap chase at Doncaster, the old Great Yorkshire Chase now known as the Skybet Chase. There are a couple in this race that interest me, but we'll have to wait until the final declarations as it would not surprise me if Unioniste goes to Cheltenham instead for th Argento Chase (where he can take 2nd place behind stablemate Rocky Creek). If so, the weights could go up a few pounds which will make me strongly consider NIGHT IN MILAN who has been aimed at this chase all season. This will be his Grand National. Trainer Keith Reveley loves having a winner at Doncaster.
 
Another wager I've been pondering over the past couple of days is a Cheltenham Festival win double on SPRINTER SACRE for the Champion Chase, and BIG BUCKS for the World Hurdle. The best odds available is 10/11 on Sprinter Sacre and 9/4 on Big Bucks with Sky-Bet - a £10 win wager would return £62.05 (a potential profit of £52.05). In my opinion, Sire De Grugy is not within a stone of Sprinter Sacre and I feel the Henderson horse will bounce back to his best at Cheltenham. Look at how Bobs Worth responded to his critics following his Betfair Chase flop. I get the feeling that Henderson has treated his Festival heroes with kid-gloves and that has meant they have both been beaten on their seasonal debut's. As for Big Bucks, this is a leap of faith. Trainer Paul Nicholls has a nack of keeping his horses at their peak well into the autumn of their careers, and his handling of Big Bucks to date cannot be faulted. If Big Bucks wins the Cleeve Hurdle on Saturday it will be business as usual and an SP for the coming World Hurdle of 4/9. If he loses on Saturday then we could see the plug pulled on an illustrious career and a send-off into retirement.
 
I'm still pondering this wager, and will come back to it on Saturday morning.
 
 
 
   

Monday, 20 January 2014

Close, but not close enough

Great performances from both of the blog selections on Saturday, but they just weren't good enough to take the spoils. Even so, it more than made up for the stinker of a run from Denali Highway earlier in the week.

I do feel a bit robbed tho' as for both races I gave a good plug for the eventual winner. When I assess a race, I very nearly always start writing the blog not knowing what my eventual selection will be, so you can read my thought process. With the GRANDIOSO race, I've always thought this was a good horse if not a world-beater and, as such, one that we can obtain a decent price on when placing a wager. It is never easy when a trainer has a couple of entries in the same race and, as I wrote in the blog, I was finding it difficult to split the pair on ability. I sided with Grandioso as he had the benefit of the 5lb allowance claimed by jockey Harry Derham. Unfortunately, I was wrong and Bury Parade, who had showed he was capable of a +150 performance when btn on just a nose on 31st Jan last year, bounced right back to form on his favorite heavy ground (now 5 wins from 9 starts on soft/heavy, plus that "nose" defeat). Perhaps what I should have done was placed a "saver" wager in the form of a straight forecast on Bury Parade to beat Grandioso, as I could not see any of the others in the race being involved in the finish. The exacta paid £24.00 to a £1 stake, so only a small wager on the forecast would have been enough to turn a profit.

The Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock was very exciting. The selection VINTAGE STAR was always up with the pace and took up the lead before 2-out. He looked like moving into a decisive lead on the run-up to the final fence but was unable to do so. As such, after leading over the final fence, he succumbed to the challenge of the winner - whose jockey was in receipt of a 7lb claim and he'd already won the opening race of the meeting - and had nothing left to give. In fact, he almost lost 2nd place on the run-in to Merry King who was staying on strong. The winner Wychwoods Brook was unexposed at this trip, never having run beyond 2m5f and having only won at 2m4f. I did write that he could be the "joker in the pack" but only someone with a crystal ball could have picked him out as a potential winner before the race based on the form book.

So, from the wagers we made a small loss with GRANDIOSO returning £12.44 (after a 15% Rule 4 deduction) for the £15 stake; and VINTAGE STAR returning £12.00. The loss on the day was £5.56.

Even so, readers of the blog should have lumped onto SIRE DE GRUGY who won the Grade 1 Chase later in the afternoon at Ascot.  The SP of 5/4 was very generous,  and he even went 6/4 at one stage before the off. Old stager Somersby was never a realistic rival as he'd have needed a career-best effort to win and that was never on the cards. Can Sire De Grugy win the Champion Chase? Only if Sprinter Sacre doesn't take part in my view. Sire De Grugy is about 162-163 and that's about 20lb behind Sprinter Sacre at his best. Put it this way, I'd bet on Cue Card to beat Sire De Grugy at levels around Cheltenham in the Champion Chase.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock

A great day of racing and I have a stack of horse alert runners. Let's get stuck in...

Haydock:
The graduation chase at 12:55 has only 5 runners, but I've been waiting a long time for FILL THE POWER to return to the track. I reckon his OR129 rating is lenient (he was rated OR135 at one point last season) and the ground and trip should suit him.

The 1:30 has a couple of alert runners in COVERHOLDER and O'FAOLAINS BOY contesting this 2m5f novice chase. Of the pair, I favour O'Faolains Boy as he should improve for his chasing debut, but they both look to have a tough task with the topweight Taquin De Seuil.

The feature race at 3:15 - the class 1 (grade 2) Peter Marsh Handicap Chase over 3m1f has a number of runners from my alert list. KATENKO, VINTAGE STAR, MERRY KING, and SYDNEY PAGET. On heavy ground, this race will be gruelling, and you definitely need a horse that can stay the trip. This is a tricky race to assess. First, I'm discounting Sidney Paget as he's not at his best on heavy and is handicapped to the hilt on OR142. Yes, he's only a 7yo but he's had 9 chase runs now and plenty of opportunity to shine. Next is Merry King who I think is one-paced. The only chase race he's won was the only one he's run in with less than 10 runners (it was a class 4) and while he ran perhaps his best race at Haydock when btn a short-head on similar ground, he'll need to improve on that by 7lb to win this. The Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on 30th November was a gruelling test, one from which the winner Hey Big Spender has not yet recovered (since PU twice). In 2nd that day was Vintage Star and a repeat of that effort should be good enough to win, but will he be capable? He's had a tough race since in the Welsh National when it looked like he didn't stay the trip as he was going like the winner 4-out but had nothing left over the final 3 fences. As an eachway proposition, his odds of 7/1 (Stan James quarter-odds a place) look useful. It is Katenko who is the enigma in this race. Last season, I rated his final run at 162 (RPR163) and that puts him right in the mix for this. Since then, he has had an attack of colic which ruled him out of a Cheltenham Gold Cup attempt last March. However, judged on his effort in the Hennessy Gold Cup on 30th Nov, he is over that. He was running exceptionally well, in a prominent position until falling at the 14th of 21 fences when his jockey asked him to put a short stride in. He was surely none the worse for that as he came out again the following week at Aintree, but I'm not sure what happened that day as a mile out he started to struggle. As such, I feel he still has to prove that he has the ability of last season, as it's one thing to run along with the pack for the first couple of miles, it is quite another to make a move when the chips are down in the final mile. Of the others, there is some support for Night Alliance but I reckon his win in the Tommy Whittle Chase was overrated - he's up 13lb for that and he'll be found out. The one horse with form that may surprise is The Minack who goes well when fresh so coming here off a 700-day break is no concern. If he's still as good as he was he'll be in the mix. Lastly, Wychwoods Brook tackles 3-mile for the first time and he could be the joker in the pack especially with his jockey claiming a 7lb allowance. A tricky race indeed.

Ascot:
I've had BOBCATBILLY on my alert list since he won at Ludlow in early December, but he may have been collared by the handicapper now; so something like Kingcora may be the sort of unexposed improving horse to trump him in the 1:15 over 2m3f.

In the Ascot 3:00 over 2m5f & 110 yards, I will be surprised if Renard can win off OR144. Unfortunately, I only recommended a wager on this horse when he ran at Cheltenham off OR129, and he won his next couple of races off OR127 and OR135 at odds of 7/4 and 7/1 respectively which justified my support of a 2pt wager for that Cheltenham race in December Other alert list runners in this race are BURY PARADE, GRANDIOSO, THEATRICAL STAR and WHAT A WARRIOR. I rate the Nicholls pair of Grandioso and Bury Parade fairly close, altho' Bury Parade has to repair the damage in confidence following his refusal to race LTO. As such, Harry Derham with his 5lb claim swings support to GRANDIOSO as Theatrical Star looks held by the handicapper, as does What A Warrior. Odds of 8/1 about GRANDIOSO look very attractive.

I cannot see SIRE DE GRUGY being beaten, even on heavy ground, by his rivals in this field and odds of 11/8 could seem a gift by 3:45pm.

Taunton:
ROUDOUDOUVILLE ran a great race over hurdles considering he;d been off the track nearly 2-years LTO. As such, I'm expecting a big run from this horse who was rated OR145 as a chaser in December 2011. Running off OR120, he should prove too strong for his 4 rivals in this hurdle race.

Selections:
It is a very interesting day of racing and the heavy ground could mean a few upsets.

Haydock 3:25 VINTAGE STAR, £5 eachway & £5 win @ 7/1
Ascot 3:00 GRANDIOSO, £5 eachway & £5 win  @ 7/1


Friday, 17 January 2014

Weather claims Chepstow

Yesterdays selection DENALI HIGHWAY was very disappointing and ran like he was not enjoying his day at the races at all. It was a stark reminder that horses are animals and not machines and, like us humans, they have their good days and their bad days. What we have to judge is what caused Denali Highway to throw-in the towel before they had run half-a-mile. My feeling is that it was the overall weather, which was near torrential rain in the morning resulting in a waterlogged course. As such, I am prepared to overlook this race and give Denali Highway another chance - only one mind. The winner was Bennys Mist who, as expected, handled the heavy ground well and, given the ease with which he dominated the race, was probably the only horse in the race that did handle the conditions. While Bennys Mist will always be worth a 2nd-look when racing on very heavy ground, he has now won 5 of his 7 races on heavy, he will need to improve on this effort again if he is to win again after being re-rated.

The weather has not only claimed the meeting at Chepstow today, but it has also claimed my day at the office. Flooding at Balcombe in mid-Sussex has stopped all trains, and the line is closed from Haywards Heath to Gatwick. As such, I'm at home today as I don't fancy a 3-hour journey to London via Littlehampton and Horsham, and probably the same again this evening to get home.

There is therefore just the one jumps meeting today at Musselburgh, and the card looks decent. I have no alert list runners today, so I'll take a look at the racing with a fresh eye. Trainer Sue Smith very rarely sends horses to Musselburgh, only 3 in the past 5 years of which 2 have won and she sends 3 here today with one in the opening race, Twice Lucky. However, Twice Lucky has only won once in 20 starts to I would not be running to take the 7/4 currently on offer, and the 2nd-fav Tears From Heaven (who won this race in 2012) could be the answer.

The Class 3 hurdle at 2:45 over 2-mile sees a couple of in-form trainers join Sue Smith with an entry: Donald McCain has Sud Pacifique, Brian Ellison has Stormy Weather and Discovery Bay, and Sue Smith has Groomed. The fav DISCOVERY BAY ran a cracker when 2nd over C&D to subsequent Ladbroke Hurdle winner Willows Saviour, and I would say that a repeat would be good enough. Also in the race is the useful Sky Khan who won in a canter when last seen on the track in August. The doubt about this one is that his trainer Richard Guest has not had a winner at Musselburgh in the past 5 years from 11 runners. Odds of 2/1 are not great about DISCOVERY BAY so I cannot recommend a wager.

The final race of interest today is the 3:20, a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m4f. This race has a fairly open look about it and, as such, I'd be prepared to oppose the fav Bar De Ligne. The one that catches my eye is the Aneyeforaneye who has been running over 3-mile recently without winning but who won a couple of races over this sort of trip last season and who has slipped to OR125 from OR132 in the process. Odds of 15/2 look very interesting.

No recommended selections today.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

TUTCHEC rewards twitter followers

A good day of jump-racing with 3 meetings at Ludlow, Market Rasen and Wincanton.  
The meeting at Ludlow has a couple of interesting races in the amateur riders chase race at 2:10 over 3-miles, and the mares' handicap hurdle over 3-miles at 2:40. For me, amateur riders races are all about jockeyship and hoping your jockey manages to stay in the saddle; so they are not great betting mediums. I am also very familiar with the fav Rydalis and, while his odds of 11/2 look fair, this horse would prefer a trip under 3-mile. The mares' hurdle should go to one of the market leaders: Mini Muck or Too Generous, but as both are 9/4 or shorter this race is not a wagering race for me. The novices limited handicap at 3:10 over a trip of 2-mile brings together and interesting field. The ground being heavy looks against C&D winner Zarzal; and Lord Of House looks held by the handicapper. There has been plenty of money for Rio De Sivola but I feel this horse is too short in the market at just 2/1 and it would not surprise me that thius heavy ground may slow things down enough for Tour D'Argent to get involved. It would be a leap of faith to recommend him, so this is another watching race.
Market Rasen has an alert horse of mine – FIRTH OF THE CLYDE – running in the 2:10, a class 3 handicap chase over 2m2f. He is a very lightly-raced 9yo and this will only be his 3rd chase. There is a doubt that he will stay this trip as he's only run over the minimum, but he should cope with the ground (soft). The fav is the French import Upepito, having his UK debut today for Venetia Williams. This horse could be anything, but the odds of 7/4 are too skinny for me to consider. This is another race that I will give a miss and just watch.
Finally we have Wincanton, my attention is caught by my alert runner DENALI HIGHWAY in the 1:50. This horse made great strides after leaving Alan King for Caroline Bailey winning twice over this trip on soft ground. He was in need of the run when reappearing at Wetherby in March over 3m1f, and you can ignore his last run over 3m3f as he doesn't stay that sort of trip. Even so, he proved his well-being and fitness that day and comes here with a lot in his favour, and should handle the heavy ground. The race-fav Bennys Mist loves heavy ground but, even so, he's looked out of sorts this season and needs to recapture his best form. I think this trip will test the stamina of Marie Des Angles; and Forest Walker looks to be struggling of his current rating which is 11lb higher than that which he won off on 1st November. Mic's Delight is the joker in the pack as he ran an improved performance LTO. This slightly shorter trip will help him and he'll handle the ground too; but I would not consider him to have the same chance as DENALI HIGHWAY yet they are both at the same odds: 9/2.
There was no blog yesterday as I didn't have the time to write one (it was reporting day at the office), but I did post up a couple of selections on twitter (my moniker is @wayward_lad) HANDY ANDY and TUTCHEC. Unfortunately, HANDY ANDY ran absolutely no sort of race and pulled-up when tailed-off with 4 fences still to jump. Thankfully, TUTCHEC made amends wining at 4/1. Proven over the trip and on heavy ground, I thought he'd start 2nd-fav at 9/4 to Imperial Vic who had to prove himself over this trip on heavy. As these selections were not included on the blog, I will not take any profit for them.
Selection:
Wincanton 1:50 DENALI HIGHWAY, £15 win @ 9/2 (William Hill and Coral, both go BOG)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A 9/1 winner on a day for the old-timers

A great day of racing yesterday, and the highlight for the blog was the success of selection SHOTGUN PADDY@ 9/1 in the days feature handicap the Betfred Classic Chase over 3m5f at Warwick. Always travelling well and jumping superbly, the 7yo novice chaser never looked unsettled by the strong pace set by the veteran Carruthers, who was running off a 301-day break. The recommended wager of £5 eachway returned £66.25 at the SP of 9/1 (placed with best odds guaranteed bookie).

I'd also placed an eachway double combining Shotgun Paddy with another of my selections on Saturday, Filbert. Unfortunately, he was run out of the places on the run-in and came in 4th. This looked a solid race run at a good pace, and the winning effort from Desert Cry was a career-best from this horse. Filbert hit the 2nd-last and that probably cost him 3rd place, and he'll probably do a lot better over 2m4f as will the runner-up Grey Gold. The 3rd placed Elenika is a lot better than this yet has only won once from 18 chase starts. This gelding ran his best form in the Spring of 2013, so perhaps he'll improve with the sun on his back in March-April.

I really thought my day was going well when FREE WORLD was allowed to start at 8/1 and then quickly moved into a 5-length lead a mile out jumping superbly and being given a very gentle ride by the 7lb claimer Miss Brooke (daughter of the trainer?). With all the rest under the cosh 4-out, I thought FREE WORLD was going to romp home an easy winner. Unfortunately, his rider allowed the eventual winner Chicklemix (who won at Towcester LTO over a similar trip) to come upsides approaching the final fence whereupon FREE WORLD made his only jumping error. The rider of Chicklemix had been hard at work for much of the final half-mile and was able to keep the momentum going to the line, whereas FREE WORLD probably could have done with a reminder before the final fence which could have meant a better jump.

Finally, it was a poor effort from Buddy Bolero at Kempton. The old-stager Planet Of Sound galloped them all into the ground and probably repeated his effort when 3rd here at Kempton in the Racing Plus Chase in February 2012 (nearly 2 years ago).  I hope the handicapper isn't too hard on the 12yo as, in this sort of form, he could be capable of running into a place in the handicap chase on the opening day at the Cheltenham Festival; a race he was 11th in last year.

Overall, a profit of £26.25 on the day to recommended stakes.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

It's a free world

A cracking day of horse-racing today with 3 good meetings at Kempton, Warwick and Wetherby. So, we have the luxury of being able to pick and choose our targets. I have a stack of runners from my horse alert list held with easyodds - thankfully, that service seems to be getting back to the level it was before the "upgrade" - and I'm hoping to be able to follow-up my 6/1 winner earlier this week with another.

FILBERT has been on my alert list for some time and his win LTO confirmed the promise he'd shown earlier in his career. He runs at Wetherby in the 2:15 over 2-mile and while I'd prefer to see him running over a slightly longer trip, he looks well-in here. Of the others, the only one that I fear is Grey Gold who has run a couple of great races without winning and is a lot better than his OR138 rating but who looks like he needs heavy ground to show his best form. I think FILBERT will enjoy what should be a good pace, and have the speed and stamina to pick off the leader on the run-in as he did LTO. Odds of 13/2 with BetVictor are very generous, and 6/1 is generally available. I thought he'd by 4/1 for this, maybe shorter, as he's unexposed and there are question-marks over the trip or ground about the others.

Later at Wetherby, in the 3:25, we have an old horse-to-follow of mine a few seasons ago, FREE WORLD. This horse won LTO and trainer Lady Susan Brooke seems to have found his key. Rated OR153 at his peak with Paul Nicholls, he races off OR105 today having won off OR100 LTO. His form last season suggests that he should be capable of running to 120+ and I am surprised he's not the fav for this race. The actual fav Ravens Brook was left in the lead 4-out when he won LTO, and it is impossible to know how good he is, but I don't think he has the ability to beat FREE WORLD. Just compare the disparity of their speed ratings, and FREE WORLD has the highest speed rating in the race. Odds of 5/1 with BetVictor and Bet365 look very generous and I would even wager on this horse at under 3/1.

At Warwick, both AL ALFA and DOLATULO are on my alert list in the 1:55. Of the pair, I consider AL ALFA to hold the better chance, and he ran a great race LTO when 4th at Cheltenham. It is a big drop in trip today for him and he's only ever once before raced over 2-mile, and never before as a chaser, so it is an unknown. But, he could well outstay them all if trying to make-all.

The Betfred Classic Chase over 3m5f at Warwick at 3:35 looks wide-open. If the trip were under 3m1f then I'd have no hesitation about selecting LOCH BA, but this trip could well find him out. I do not think the form of Boyfromnowhere is good enough to take this, and I am more interested in SHOTGUN PADDY who is in tip-top form and will enjoy the ground and the trip today. At 17/2 with BetVictor, Stan James and Coral, he looks great eachway value.

Kempton has a tremendous 8-race card. I think Captain Chris will have to be at his best to win the 2:10 and at just 2/1 he's not value as he may not be able to repeat his best form of last season. Blog favourite FOXCUB runs in the 2:40 and it is a significant step-up in class. As such, he's 28/1 but, even so, I'm expecting a good run from the horse. Pity there is not 16 runners as I think he'll find a few too good for him. The 3:15 looks a good handicap chase. After winning LTO, I put Good Order on my alert list but this 3-mile trip may be too far for him. As such BUDDY BOLERO who is also on my alert list looks good value at 4/1. A repeat of his form when 2nd to Vintage Star at Carlisle should be good enough to beat Relax.

Selections
Kempton 3:15 BUDDY BOLERO, £10 win @ 4/1 (available generally)
Wetherby 2:15 FILBERT, £5 eachway @ 13/2 (available generally)
Wetherby 3:25 FREE WORLD, £10 win @ 5/1 (available generally)
Warwick 3:35 SHOTGUN PADDY, £5 eachway @ 17/2  with BetVictor, Stan James and Coral
Total staked = £40

All the best from Wayward Lad

Friday, 10 January 2014

Some Festival pointers

No selection yesterday, and the one race that I looked at - the North Yorkshire National at Catterick - was probably best avoided from a betting point of view. Only 4 of the 9-runners finished the race and tho' the fav Merlin's Wish ran well enough he never looked like beating the the 7yo Sun Cloud who was having just his 5th chase race.
There is just the one meeting today at Sedgefield and, given the heavy ground there, I'm giving the meeting a miss.
Over the past couple of days I've been looking back over the results from the Boxing Day meetings and the wealth of jump racing over the week up to Saturday 4th January. There were some cracking good efforts, some of which I have already written about on the blog such as the King George VI Chase won by Silviniaco Conti from Cue Card. I'm expecting both of these horses to win their respective targets at the coming Cheltenham Festival, and I am very happy that connections of Cue Card have not entered the horse for the Champion Chase.
Some other terrific Boxing Day performances were recorded: CLOUDY TOO cemented his position as a OR160+ chaser over 3-mile with a comfortable win in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby. We will be seeing a lot more of this 8yo in top staying chases in 2014.
On 27th December, DODGING BULLETS put himself in the forefront of the Arkle betting with an emphatic display at Cheltenham. I really am finding it hard to see one beating DODGING BULLETS and 8/1 looks good value to me.
The Welsh National went to MOUNTAINOUS and it was a great effort from the horse to hold off Hawkes Point who was 5lb better-off at the weights. The proximity of grand old campaigner Tidal Bay franked the form and Mountainous has now won 4 of his 5 starts on heavy ground. Who beat him on heavy ground on the one time he didn't win? Readers of the blog will know: it was our 25/1 winner MIDNIGHT APPEAL on that tremendous day back in October. Mountainous is now rated OR144 yet, when they met at Bangor in October both horses ran off OR132. If they met today, Midnight Appeal would recieve 5lbs as he's only rated OR139 at present. The horse that split this pair at Bangor, Loch Ba, has also franked that form running a staying-on 2nd at Haydock. I'll make no bones about it, Midnight Appeal looks a solid chance whatever handicap race he takes in NTO, and he's entered at Doncaster later this month.
Finally, DOUBLE ROSS looks a chaser going places. Already confirmed as a Festival "specialist" having run 3rd there last March, I would not want to oppose this horse whichever target he takes up.
I'm happy to report that the response to the Festival Bulletin poll was positive. It will, in all probability, be a bit more focussed this year with some outline notes on all the races but some greater depth of research and form on some specific target races. There are a couple of handicaps that I really like to get stuck into and I've comes close - but no cigar - several times in recent years. I've found the runner-up in handicaps with Fruity O'Rooney, The Cockney Mackem and Vino Griego and this March I will be hoping to go one better.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Happy New Year and a 6/1 winner


Great day for readers of the blog yesterday, with sole selection IFYOUSAYSO advised at 6/1 in the morning winning in convincing style. I can see this horse improving again and he ran about 8lb better than his Official Rating yesterday. Other highlights from the blog were the wins of ACT ALONE @ 7/2 and FORCED FAMILY FUN @ 5/1. The chances of both of these horses was highlighted strongly in the blog write-up and the only reason they were not nominated as selections in their own right was due to them not being on my alert list. For the notebook, FORCED FAMILY FUN is being aimed at the Cheltenham Festival by trainer John Quinn, where he’ll get the strong pace that he needs (and which he received yesterday) that contributed to his winning effort. ACT ALONE looked immense and massacred this field of maidens.
The win of IFYOUSAYSO put another £60 profit into the bank (at advised stakes) and since 30th September last year the blog has now posted 38 wagers with total stakes being £460 (an average of just £12.10 per wager) resulting in an overall profit of £264.10. The results don’t tell the whole story as we’ve had a couple of “winners” in all but name either throwing the race away when well clear (Handy Andy @ 16/1 on 18th October, horse won NTO) or falling at the final jump (Foxcub @ 10/1 on 21st November, horse won NTO); and a couple of close defeats with the winning margin less than half a length (Merrion Square on 6th December @ 7/1, and Firm Order on 10th December @ 10/1).

There is just the one jump race meeting today at Catterick where, unlike Doncaster yesterday, the ground is heavy. This means that the 3m6f North Yorkshire National at 2:35 is going to be a real stamina test.
My only runner from my alert list runs in this, Chac Du Cadran and (altho’ he won this race last season) he looks to have a tough task on this heavy ground. The lightly raced 9yo Merlin’s Wish is the fav, and rightly so given the way he won over 3m5f on soft on Boxing Day. He runs off OR125 today, (up 13lb for that win) but his 8yo half-bro’ Howizee is a OR122 rated 3-mile hurdler so this revised mark should not prove impossible to win from. The 2nd-fav is 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Diamond Harry. If he’s in the mood, his current mark of OR135 could be a gift as when he last completed a regulation race (12th Jan 2012) he ran off OR166 and finished respectably in 5th in a fairly good time. A repeat of that run would see him win this race by a street. Could he do it? Possibly, as he’s mainly raced in Class 1 and the pace of today’s Class 3 race won’t be anywhere near as tough. Sun Cloud won LTO over 2m7f on soft, but he’s not looked like a marathon chaser in the past. I’m not convinced that Wellforth will appreciate today’s heavy ground and he had a hard race LTO on 30th December. Mister Marker has all his best form on soft ground, altho’ his 3rd in the Scottish National last April looks strong form. Even so, you can ignore his last run on good ground and today’s conditions should suit him well. Green Wizard has won 2 of his 4 races at 3-mile or further, but he may be just a plodder.
Merlin’s Wish should be the fav, but not at 9/4, and I’d have him more like 7/2 for this race as you cannot discount fully the chance of Diamond Harry who makes a significant drop in class today which could just rekindle the old flame.
Chac Du Cadran could get into a good rhythm if he goes for an early lead and endeavours to make all as he did last year in this race and, if he does, he could be hard to peg back. Even so, odds of 9/2 are not good enough for me considering his poor effort LTO, and I’d be looking for 6/1 plus for a win.
The one that I do think is well priced and a bit of value is MISTER MARKER who is 12/1 (Bet365, BetVictor, and William Hill) and it is hard not to see him not being placed in the 1st-3 of this 9-runner race given the ground and some who may not stay the trip. I’m not making him a selection, but I think I’ll be having a play in the place-only market for which he is 4.00 or 3/1.
Best of luck from Wayward Lad.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Trainers look for opportunity

Just the one jump race meeting at Doncaster today, and the ground there looks decent with good-to-soft forecast and only some light rain predicted. I expect that a fair number of trainers are now deciding to take every opportunity to race their horses prior to the Cheltenham Festival. The appalling weather that has struck Britain and Ireland over the past couple of weeks has certainly reduced the number of racing opportunities and, as I wrote earlier this week on the blog, this period between Boxing Day and Valentine's Day is when winners at the Festival have their final preparatory run.
As such, at Doncaster, we have a number of trainers making long trips from the south and south-west to get a race in. Nicky Henderson, Harry Fry, Emma Lavelle, David Pipe, and Tom George all make the long trip north. You also have to respect northern trainers like John Ferguson and John Quinn who both have top strike-rates at Doncaster. The opening maiden hurdle looks a race for the notebook with Nordic Quest and Namibian both likely to go on to the Festival in March. The 2nd division of this maiden hurdle is the 3rd race on the card and Nicky Henderson has an even stronger looking candidate for this in Act Alone. Last seen in May 2013, this could be a very interesting horse.
The 2nd race on the card, a class 4 handicap hurdle over 2m & 110 yards, see's John Quinn's only runner today Forced Family Fun. Quinn is 8 wins from 24 runners in hurdles over past 5 seasons and this 4yo who is lightly raced as a hurdler, having only his 4th race over hurdles today, could have a great chance off bottom-weight of 10st 7llb.  The biggest danger is top-weight Nesterenko sent by Nicky Henderson. A recent C&D winner in a fast time for the grade, he should guarantee a good pace.
I am not looking at the novice chase at 1:40, even tho' VICTOR HEWGO has been carried forward in my horse alerts from his hurdling exploits last season. Similarly, the novice hurdle at 2:10 looks a penalty-kick for Diamond King, and he's odds-on to take it.
The handicap chase at 2:45 over 3-mile looks interesting. Trainer Emma Lavelle has had 6 winners from her last 10 chase runners at Doncaster, but whether you can wager on her entry Global Warming who has never won a race under rules (13 starts) is debateable. When he won LTO, the 7yo IFYOUSAYSO went into my notebook. That was a good effort and the horse he beat that day went on to win next-time-out. The 8lb hike in the ratings to OR115 does not look enough for this horse who is having only his 3rd chase run today and current odds of 6/1 (with Coral) look generous. There is some support for the top-weight Triangular who has slipped to OR120 from OR140, but he was never that level of performer and 2m5f appears to be his best trip, not 3-mile.
I've not recommended a wager for some time, and my luck has run thin during December, but IFYOUSAYSO has a look of class about him and is unexposed as both a chaser and over this sort of trip.
Selection:
Doncaster 2:45 IFYOUSAYSO, £10 win @ 6/1 (Coral)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Preparations for Cheltenham Festival

The period from Boxing Day to Valentine's Day is when 95% of all winners at the coming Cheltenham Festival in March will have their final preparatory race. As most winners at the Festival will also have won their latest race, it is imperative that form study starts now. Buy the Weekender of a Wednesday, and make note of the race winners especially those aimed at the Festival. I am not as big an antepost punter as I used to be as trainers are more likely to give their horses multiple entries now that the Festival is over 4 days and with some races overlapping. Even so, you may be able to find an opportunity.

There is no jump racing today and, with the awful wet weather, I am not hopeful of any kind of jump racing in the next few days. So don't squander valuable funds chasing winners on the all-weather, study the form and make preparation.

With the enforced break due to the weather, I've been reviewing my SIPP (see blog Pension Builder) which had a good 2013 - although it was near impossible to have a bad 2013 on the stock market. I'd be glad if any readers to a look at that blog, which I contribute to from time to time, and made a comment or suggestion. Those who enjoy a wager are more likely to seek to have greater control of their own destiny, and control of your pension scheme is vital for your finances.

Many thanks to those who have contributed to my poll regarding a Cheltenham Festival Bulletin, if you have not done so yet there is still time.

All the best from Wayward Lad.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Another year over, and a new one just begun

It has been a long Christmas break and I'm a little glad to be back at my desk. The horseracing has been very interesting over this past couple of weeks and some results could well have significant bearings on the remainder of the season.

The success of SILVINIACO CONTI over CUE CARD in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day will likely lead to the latter returning to the Cheltenham Festival to endeavour to repeat his success in the Ryanair Chase rather than attempt the Gold Cup. It was easily a career-best effort from the winner and, had he repeated that in last years Gold Cup (he fell 3-out with a rare jumping error) then I think he'd have taken some beating. For me, CUE CARD is one of the bravest chasers going. Although he has improved a few pounds since winning the Ryanair Chase last March, he has possibly reached his ceiling at about 174-176. That puts him well clear of his potential rivals in the Ryanair Chase, but leaves him about 5-7lb short of the level required to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. Hopefully, connections will take the easier target and aim for the Ryanair and current odds of 3/1 look hugely generous given the superiority he holds over his potential rivals.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup market was also given a vigorous shake-up not only due to the result of the KGVI Chase but by the victory of BOBS WORTH in the Lexue Chase in Ireland on 28th December. By my reckoning (and also Racing Post Ratings), this performance was perhaps 10-12lb below that of SILVINIACO CONTI. Even so, it was a remarkable come-back for the horse, tho' whether he can find another 12-15lb between now and March is debateable. As such, at the current odds there is only one horse I could possibly wager on for the Gold Cup, and he was also my advised wager last year, and that is SILVINIACO CONTI; currently available at 4/1 with a number of bookies.

William Hill go 3/1 CUE CARD (for the Ryanair) and 4/1 SILVINIACO CONTI (for the Gold Cup) and I'm having a £20 win double on that pair today.

I'm in a bit of a dilemma over production of my annual Cheltenham Bulletin. Normally I start producing my draft document about now, updating statistics from last years festival, and making early suggestions for wagers. But, last year, I lost my laptop and had no back-up of my horseracing files. As such, my statistical research for the previous 12 years has gone as well as "word" versions of my previous bulletins. My aim is always to issue the bulettin as soon as possible after Valentines Day on 14th February, but I do not think I have the time to reproduce the entire bulletin from scratch in the next few weeks. What I currently intend doing is producing a scaled-down version, focusing on some individual races but, before I embark on the exercise, I'd like to verify what the response would be. Last year, I sent out 45 copies of my Cheltenham Bulletin and I'd like to beat that total this year.

I've added a poll to the top-right of the blog page and would be gratetful if you could if you could answer the questions polled. If you are not interested then don't take part as I can then compare the number of site visits to the number of responses top guage the interest.
Thanks from Wayward Lad.