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Record of the blog selections

Profit for the 2016-17 Jumps Season = £84.38

from wagers on 26 individual selections (4 winners, 6 placed)

Total Staked = £280.00


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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Gamble landed!

We're back in the groove! Yesterday's selection FIREBIRD FLYER tipped at 6/1 at mid-day on the blog, was the subject of a sustained gamble thru' the afternoon to an SP of 7/2, and duly won in convincing style. The odds were available for some time after posting the blog, and I managed to obtain 7.40 (approx 13/2) on Betfair after 1pm.

I was getting a bit frustrated with the number of 2nd's that I've posted on the blog since 1st January.  Watching Time To Think on Wednesday run 2nd at 8/1, when only the stablelads really knew how well prepared the eventual winner of that race was, was particularly galling. Add that to a couple of great runs in defeat from Midnight Appeal recently - and he really should have won for us at 16/1 at Kempton LTO - and you start to wonder if you've upset somebody on high.

The main thing is, we're back. There are a couple of meetings today at Doncaster and Newbury, and the most interesting is the meeting at Newbury. Barry Geraghty has come over to ride for Nicky Henderson there today, and when he comes over for a weekday meeting you have to sit up and take notice. Henderson has had 6 winners from 15 runners in the past 2-weeks, which isn't bad considering his gallops have been flooded. In February last year he had 70 runners  and 22 winners, this February he's had only 33 runners to date (and 5 entries today) with 11 winners, of which he's 4 wins from 8 runners in chase races. At the moment, 4 of his 5 entries are at odds-on with the bookies.

Unlike yesterday, I can't see any value at either of the meetings so I'm going to start taking a look at tomorrow's meetings instead. There is no point in trying to look for a wager if there isn't one, there is always another day tomorrow.

The donations for the blog are coming in regularly now and I'm confident of beating last years issue. I wont be able to meet my deadline of issuing the supplement for the novice championship races today as the "day-job" has had to come first this week and eaten into my time, but I'm hoping to get the supplement out to donators by Sunday evening. Then it's straight into the handicaps and maybe this year I'll nail one. We've been close these past couple of years with Fruity O'Rooney (2nd), The Cockney Mackem (2nd), Cantlow (3rd) and Double Ross (4th) and it would really put the icing on the cake to nail a handicap with a winner at 12/1 or longer.

If you want to come on board for the Cheltenham Festival and obtain the Bulletin (14,500 words and all my own work) plus all the supplements on the run-up to the Festival and email notices, then just hit the donate button and donate at least £10. My mind is my own, I don't have any stable insiders, I don't listen to gossip or people supposedly "in-the-know" - my opinion is based on what I see on the track and read in the form-book.

All the best for the weekend, from Wayward Lad.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

No time to think - off to a Flyer

Yesterday was a disappointing result for the blog, as I really thought I'd found a winner at very generous odds.  The selection TIME TO THINK had the beating of just about every rival on known form and it was only a significant increase in form by the eventual winner - Vif Argent - that stopped her from winning at the generous SP of 8/1. After a 2nd-glance at the winner's formbook, the handicapper was probably on-the-button with an OR130 rating when the horse had his UK debut last October at Cheltenham, and Vif Argent should male a 140+ chaser with time and experience.

There are a couple of meetings today over the jumps, at Ludlow and Taunton, and I've a few runners from my alert list. At Ludlow, in the 2:30 there's CLOUDY JOKER, in the 3:00 DANCINGTILMIDNIGHT, and in the 3:30 BALLYOLIVER.

Cloudy Joker hasn't stopped improving since going chasing, and is unbeaten from 3 chase races this season. He beat today's race-fav Benbens when they met in December (a good novice chase this one, as subsequent winner Bobcatbilly was in 3rd) and he meets Benbens on 7lb worse terms for that wining margin of a "head". Benbens is very lightly race for a 9yo and this will be only his 2nd chase race, but he seems very consistent and should go well today. However, CLOUDY JOKER is only a 6yo and is very much  on the upgrade and I'm expecting him to beat Benbens again. Of the others, Zarzal looks harshly on OR130 and Avoca Promise and Midnight Promise have little chance. This race looks a straight match between CLOUDY JOKER and Benbens and, at odds of 9/4, CLOUDY JOKER looks the value.

I've been waiting a long time for the return to the track of DANCINGTILMIDNIGHT, but current best odds of 6/4 are no value at all to me. A race to watch.

The ground is probably still a bit too soft for BALLYOLIVER, even tho' he's slipped 7lb to OR124 from his rating at the start of this season when he ran favourably at Wincanton on good-to-soft. The race-fav is Roalco De Farges, who pulled-up LTO after a break of 23-months after running 2nd to Tidal Bay at Sandown off OR134. He's on OR128 today, so if he's fit enough he'll be hard to beat. The 2nd-fav Brass Tax comes here off a break of 412-days but his rating of OR135 seems stiff considering his form to-date. The trip and ground will not inconvenience C&D winner Firebird Flyer. He beat Ballyoliver here when he won in Nov-12, and meets that rival on 4lb better terms despite having won by over 3-lengths. We know he's in form having chased home Emperor's Choice at Ffos Las LTO, and that form has been upheld since then. At 6/1 (William Hill and Betfred) he looks the value eachway wager. The others in the race either want a shorter trip than 3-mile, or better ground.

At Taunton, horse alert runner MASSENA looks hard to beat in the 3:10 there, but it could prove to be a tricky race to wager in. There seems to be a lot of confidence towards the Paul Nicholls runner Sound Investment, and you cannot discount Lord Of House returning to form in this lower grade of race. It may pay to watch this race.

The review of the novice championships at the Cheltenham Festival is under-way and I'm hoping to get it out to donators by Friday evening, but it may have to be put-back to Sunday afternoon due to the pressures of time.

If you want a copy of the Cheltenham Bulletin - and I only need to send out another 12 copies to equal last year's issue - then please hit the donate button at the head of this page and donate at least £10.

Selection
Ludlow 3:30 FIREBIRD FLYER, £10 eachway @ 6/1 (William Hill & Betfred)

All the best from Wayward Lad

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Cue Card misses the Festival

Events are happening on a daily basis now on the run-in to the Cheltenham Festival. Yesterday, it was the turn of last year's hero CUE CARD, who was withdrwn from all Festival engagements due to a pulled back muscle. While missing Cheltenham, it is expected that Cue Card will return to action at Aintree in April.

Last year, Cue Card formed the backbone of my antepost wagers as advised in my Cheltenham Bulletin. Placing wagers antepost is a risky business as you have to balance the prospect of better odds than available on the day with the potential of not getting a run for your money. At least now, bookie Bet365 are going "non-runner, no-bet", but do check the odds with other bookies before placing any wagers antepost.

This year's bulletin was made available to donators to the blog last Friday 21st February, and if you want a copy all you have to do is donate at least £10 (the donate button is at the top of this page) and I'll send you an copy via email. As well as the bulletin, donators are also recieving regular email updates and there will be a supplement issued this Friday for all the novice championship races, and there is a planned handicap supplement for the following Friday. There are more than a few Cheltenham advice booklets, one of which has significant sales. My bulletin is my own take on the Festival and one factor that may help you decide whether to have it is - do you want to have a Cheltenham betting guide that has perhaps 15,000 sales, or one with less than 200? Do you want to follow the herd, or take an alternative route?

There are a couple of interesting meetings today at Bangor and Wincanton. Unfortunately, there are no horse alerts from my peronal list running today.  The heavy ground at Bangor has resulted in small fields for all the races there today. With some short-odds fav's in the first-4 races on the card, I'd be looking to oppose them all if in the mood to wager at the track, especially Sir Mangan in the 3-mile handicap hurdle at 3:30. He's not looked a 3-miler to me in his form to date and his lack of stamina could be exposed by some proper stayers in Quel Elite, Jaunty Journey, Alpha Victor and Extreme Impact. They all have form at 3-mile and further on heavy ground, and while none of them have any gears they should all be able to grind out the trip.

The ground is also heavy at Wincanton. The most interesting race is the 3:20, a handicap chase over 2m5f.  Last March, the race-fav Opera Og and Time To Think met at Chepstow over a similar trip and ground. Time To Think prevailed that day, and altho' 8lb worse-off today for a 4-length winning margin, she should win again today over this slightly longer trip which will be in her favour. Opera Og has not won in 4-attempts beyond 2m4f and I cannot see the gelding rectifying that stat today. Of the others, Roll The Dice has been off for 313-days and is probably best on less testing ground than today. Miss Tenacious has raced recently over 2-mile as a chaser (she won twice at 2m6f as a hurdler) and the ground is not in her favour. The odd-one-out is 5yo Vif Argent from David Pipe's stable. He's shown nothing in 4-starts this season tho' he looked interesting when racing in France. Maybe the 1st-time use of binkers will have an affect. Odds of 11/2 for TIME TO THINK (William Hill) look very generous given the questionmarks of her few rivals in this race, and she's the wager.

Selection:
Wincanton 3:20, TIME TO THINK, £20 win @ 11/2 (William Hill, best odds guaranteed)

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sprinter Sacre to miss Cheltenham

The major news issued at 6pm on Sunday evening was that SPRINTER SACRE is not going to run again this season. Apparently, the horse isn't showing the same "sparkle" as he did last season. Henderson is quoted as saying "(Sprinter Sacre is) ...not showing the same brilliance as last season; he is just 10% short of that. Thankfully his heart is fine and there is no problem there."

Nobody who loves horseracing wants to see the horses pushed beyond the limits of what they are capable of, but this is a sport after all, and you can't win races if you don't run your horses. There seems to be an awful lot not being said at Seven Barrows (the home of the Nicky Henderson stable) and - to me - it just doesn't seem realistic not to race a horse who, when fit, is just so much better than any other horse in racing. One fact that has been reported by the yard is that the heart irrgularities have not reappeared.

Unfortunately for me, that Sprinter Sacre has been officially "scratched" from the Cheltenham Festival races this morning, thereby preventing a recurrence of the Binocular affair (Binocular was "retired" for the season 2-weeks before the 2010 Champion Hurdle, and then ran in the race and won it!) has had a big effect on my personal antepost wagers.

On Friday, I issued my Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for 2014 out to donators since the 30th September 2013 (minimum donation £10). If you want a copy, merely hit the donate button at the top of this blog-page and donate a minimum of £10 (some people donate more, about 20% of donations are £20+) and I'll send out a copy of my bulletin via email.

The plan is to look at the novice chanpionship races this week (Arkle, RSA, Jewson, Supreme Novices Hurdle, Neptune Hurdle, Albert Bartlett Hurdle) and issue a supplemement to the bulletin this coming Friday. Then, over the following week, I'll be looking more in-depth at the handicaps and trying to find the value. All information gleaned will be issued to donators first before being added to the blog.

There were just a couple of selections for the blog on Saturday, but we drew another blank day despite MIDNIGHT APPEAL running a great race and looking like the winner 2-out at Kempton only to fade in the last 300 yards to be 4th. Even so, the full narrative of the blog gave some great pointers for the day's racing on Saturday from the opening race at Kempton which I wrote would be dominated by Ballinvarrig and Present View - and they duly finished 1st & 2nd, with the Exacta paying £10.50.  I also wrote that Balder Succes should win, and win he did. As his morning odds were under 2/1 he wasn't recommended as a wager (I only recommend wagers when the odds are 9/4 or larger), but his SP was 9/4 and he even touched 9/2 (5.50+) in-running.

There are a couple of meetings today at Plumpton and Musselburgh, but I cannot see a wager to recommend.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Big day at Kempton

Yesterday, I managed to complete the Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for 2014 and issue via email to donators to the blog. As soon as I put the word out on twitter that the bulletin was ready, the orders started to come in. Yesterday, I received orders equivalent to 20% of last years bulletin sales. That's a huge increase on last year - so a big THANK YOU to all those who have donated for the bulletin so far.

If you want a copy, just tap the donate button at the top of the screen and make a donation of £10, and I'll send you a pdf copy by return email (it will be sent to the email address of your Paypal account unless you indicate otherwise).

There is some great jump racing today with meetings at Kempton, Newcastle and Che[pstow.

The feature race at Newcastle is the 4-mile 1-furlong Eider Chase (handicap) and it's being run on heavy ground - it will be gruelling. You have to side with a horse that has won before on similar going, preferably more than once.  This race will probably go to the last horse standing, do not expect more than a handful of finishers from the 16 starters. As such, I'd be happy enough to side with a plodder preferably aged 9yo or older as those horses will have the experience to meet the conditions. There is a gamble going on Wyck Hill this morning 10/1 from 14/1) but I think it's misplaced as the horse has not been running well since winning at Ascot last season. I've followed this horse for a long time, since Nov '11, and he does not strike me as a marathon horse. My idea of the winner is RELAX trained by Venetia Williams and coming into the race in top form. A lover of heavy ground, he'll be there till the end and 5lb claimer Callum Whillans is worth more than his claim. There are a lot of claimer jockeys in this race, so Whillans will not be at a disadvantage. Odds of 10/1 (Stan James & Bet Victor) look fair value.

At Kempton, there is a quality race meeting. In the opener, I like Ballinvarrig and his only rival looks to be Present View. They should dominate the race. I cannot settle on a selection in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle which is a big pointer for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Next on the card, the Pendil Novices Chase looks a cracker, and if Balder Succes wins (as he should) well then he'll go to the Festival well fancied for the "Arkle".

At Kempton at 3:50 we have the 3-mile Betbright Chase (handicap), which looks very competitive. I do not think 3-mile will suit the fav Bury Parade who has shown great form over 20-21f on soft/heavy ground. Paul Nicholls also sends Grandioso who was 2nd to Bury Parade LTO, and Grandioso looks the pick of these at the weights be he too has stamina doubts for 3-mile. Ardkilly Witness looks held by the handicapper, as does Standing Ovation. I will be surprised if Planet Of Sound can repeat his run of LTO as consistency is not his best asset. Alan King also has a couple of runners, and while I reckon 3-mile is too much for Bless The Wings, it is perfect for MIDNIGHT APPEAL. Why this horse is at 16/1 with Bet Victor is beyond me. The horse has done the blog proud this season, winning at 25/1 on his seasonal debut over 3-mile on heavy. His recent run when 2nd at Kempton earlier this month will mean he is race-fit today and I cannot see him finishing outside the 1st-3. Usual jockey Wayne Hutchinson goes for Bless The Wings, and I can see why as he has perhaps the most potential, but over a shorter trip than today. MIDNIGHT APPEAL has to be an eachway wager in this competitive race.

Selections:
Kempton 3:50 MIDNIGHT APPEAL, £5 eachway  @ 16/1 (Bet Victor)
Newcastle 2:55 RELAX, £5 eachway & £5 win @ 10/1 (Bet Victor, Coral, Stan James, William Hill)
Total Staked = £25

Friday, 21 February 2014

Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for 2014 by Wayward Lad

Today, I have just completed and issued to donators - who have been generous enough to donate a minimum of £10 to the Wayward Lad blog during the course of this jump season - my Cheltenham Festival Bulletin for 2014.

This is a masive undertaking for me, of over 14,000 words including a race-by-race trend analysis and a review of the major championship races with advised wagers.

If you want a copy sent to you via email, simply make a donation of at least £10.

If you have made a donation during the course of this season that is less than £10, and you want a copy, just donate the difference and I'll send out the bulletin.

Last year advised wagers made profits of 100% at advised stakes (ie: if you'd placed £100 on the wagers advised in the 2013 bulletin, you'd have left the bookies with £200 in your pocket), and I'm hoping that I will be having similar success this year.

All the best from Wayward Lad.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Willie Mullins stable-tour courtesy of Bill Esdaile

An interesting day of racing yesterday with the promising novice chaser HOLYWELL scrambling home at Doncaster from a couple of progressive novices in Victor Hewgo and Firm Order. I thought that Firm Order ran another cracker of a race in defeat – he’s been on my alert list since winning in October – and with a return of better ground next month he should be in the winner’s enclosure soon.  Whether Holywell can go on from this and do well at Cheltenham next month is debateable as, so far, he’s not shown anything like his hurdle form as a chaser.

The veteran’s chase over 3-mile later in the afternoon went to the grand campaigner Tranquil Sea who won the Paddy Power Gold Cup over 2m5f back in 2009. The 12yo managed to hold-off Time For Rupert  - 2nd in the 2010 World Hurdle and 5th behind Synchronised in the 2012 Gold Cup – who was having his 3rd race since returning from a 14-month lay-off. Hopefully, the handicapper will not adjust Time For Rupert’s OR138 rating as he looks like bettering that substantially NTO if his improvement continues. He looks a snip for a Cheltenham handicap next month.

There is racing at Ayr, Huntingdon and Sedgefield today, but I’m concentrating on completing my Cheltenham Festival Bulletin which I want to issue tomorrow evening (Friday). That said, we have Cheltenham news a-plenty starting to appear, and I’ve come across a great review of a stable visit to Willie Mullins stable in Ireland yesterday by Bill Esdaile of the City AM newspaper (http://cityam.com). He has agreed to let me reproduce his article here:-

 
Mullins: a man on a mission by  Bill Esdaile

LAST year’s visit to Ballydoyle remains one of the highlights of my journalistic career, but yesterday’s return to the Emerald Isle may just have shaded it when it comes to my racing bucket list.

Since a young age I’ve wanted to visit the corner of County Carlow that Willie Mullins calls home – and a press trip to his yard has finally scratched that itch.

Neither I nor my fellow travellers were expecting much in the way of tips from the famously cagey trainer, whose 29 successes at the Cheltenham Festival remain the highest in Ireland. However, to view the embarrassment of equine riches Ireland’s champion trainer will be taking to Prestbury Park in less than three weeks’ time was a real treat few racing fans will ever get to experience.

A couple of my press colleagues even got to take a spin on his horses yesterday morning after emerging bleary-eyed from our lodgings, but, after casting a more sober eye over my larger frame, he suggested there was a “brand new tractor” for me to sit on.

Yet nothing could detract from the pleasure of running the rule over his string of superstars.

Mullins, it transpires however, gets less of a kick out of these things and has come to dread the annual pilgrimage to Gloucestershire. But, with five winners last year and four in 2011, the pressure of retaining his pre-eminence is one few of us can empathise with either.

In a rare moment of soul-searching, he admitted: “Cheltenham is not an enjoyable meeting for me as there is too much going on. I don’t feel pressure from owners, I simply feel it from my own expectations. The fear of failure is huge, particularly if one or two big guns don’t fire.”

Perhaps due to this weight of expectation, Mullins, a six-time champion amateur jockey during his younger days, will not be resting on his laurels when he sends out his battalion of stars next month. He added: “I keep saying to my son Patrick about the quality we have – this is not normal and neither of us will be taking it for granted.”

Mullins is assembling a squad of immense talent for the Festival and here are my top 10 to keep an eye on, along with his thoughts.

VAUTOUR - Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Tuesday 11th March, 1.30pm)

He looks like a big chaser in the making, but will take his chance in the first race of the meeting. He jumped superbly when making the running to win the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last time and it’s his jumping that stands him out from the rest.”

CHAMPAGE FEVER - Racing Post Arkle Chase (Tuesday 11th March, 2.05pm)

We’re now leaning towards the Racing Post Arkle on the opening day and we’re hoping he’ll bounce back from a disappointing run at Leopardstown over Christmas. He’s put under-par performances behind him in the past and seems to save his best for Cheltenham, where he’s won a Champion Bumper and a Supreme. We’d be confident he’ll turn up on his “A” game and he’s a much better jumper than he showed last time.”

HURRICANE FLY - Stan James Champion Hurdle (Tuesday 11th March, 3.20pm)

I’ve been saying all along that I genuinely think he could be better than ever this season and I stand by that. He simply looked so good when he came in after the summer and has done nothing wrong. He’s an extraordinary horse and he still managed to win last time even though I’d been easy on him in the buildup to the race. I thought he was beaten turning in and his desire saw him through. I’m not worried at all about a potential lack of pace in the race and I hope he can win.

QUEVEGA - OLBG Mares Hurdle (Tuesday 11th March, 4.00pm)

She’s on course for an unprecedented sixth consecutive victory in the race and seems back on track after having a few days off recently when she was a little stiff. At this stage that’s definitely not a worry as she is still well ahead of schedule and in great shape.

FAUGHEEN - Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Wednesday 12th March, 1.30pm)

I’d say I’m leaning towards this race at this stage as he can be a little fresh and the three miles of the Albert Bartlett may stretch him. If I’m honest, I haven’t been that happy with him of late and have just been talking about him with Ruby. That said, we changed his feed last night and he ate up well. He seems in good spirits this morning.

BALLYCASEY - RSA Steeple Chase (Wednesday 12th March, 2.05pm)

We think he’s a real three-mile chaser and, after he won the Dr P J Moriarty last time, the RSA Chase seems the most obvious choice for him. He’s also entered in the National Hunt Chase and Patrick’s desperate for me to run him in that so he can ride him!”

ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE - BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Wednesday 12th March, 3.20pm)

He has won three of his four starts so far this season and looks set to take his chance in the Champion Chase. We’ve got something special planned from a tactics point of view and I’m certainly not going to tell you anymore.”

FELIX YOUNGER - JLT Novices’ Chase (Thursday 13th March, 1.30pm)

He was beaten last time but hated the ground. I think the step up in trip and hopefully some better ground is just what he needs. He’s run well at the Festival before having chased home Simonsig in the Neptune a couple of years ago.”

BRIAR HILL - Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Friday 14th March, 2.40pm)

I’ve given him plenty of time and he is one of the ones we really need to put some work into. But he never really shows anything at home and certainly surprises us on the racecourse. He was an impressive winner of the Champion Bumper last year so we know he likes the track.”

ANNIE POWER - Target not yet finalised

At the moment we are just readying her for the Festival and a final decision on which race she will line-up in won’t be made until very late. So much can happen between now and then that we don’t need to be rushed into making a decision. In weighing up where she goes, we have to look at her potential opposition. If she went to the Champion Hurdle she would potentially have to face Hurricane Fly. If she went down the Mares’ Hurdle route she’d have to meet an incredible mare like Quevega. All the options are very much still open.”

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Cheltenham Bulletin nearing completion

Saturday was an interesting day for me, not only for the blog but also personally. You see, at about noon, I was involved in a small car accident which left me with a badly cut hand requiring 4-stitches in the middle finger of my right hand.  As such, my ability to type is now hampered, but not curtailed.

The selections made on the blog both ran well, especially CLOUDY TOO at Ascot who belied his odds to come home 2nd (as expected) and landed the advised straight forecast. Unlike some others, I am not going overboard on the performance of the winner of the Ascot Chase CAPTAIN CHRIS who I reckon merely matched his best form. At best, he’s a 168-169 performer, but to run to his best he needs the ground to be soft-heavy. I reckon he also needs a trip of 3-mile or under as, from 5 races at 3-mile or further, he is yet to win and his best performance at 3-mile was chasing home Long Run in the KGVI in December 2012. To be competitive in the Gold Cup next month, he needs to find 10lb of improvement and show that form on ground almost certainly quicker than how he prefers it.

We very nearly managed to get both eachway selections placed on Saturday as NUTS N BOLTS stayed-on well to be 4th, just failing to peg-back the 3rd-placed Loch Ba.

Currently, I’m writing up the essays for the Cheltenham Bulletin as I’ve completed the race-by-race analysis. The year’s Festival looks very open to me and it would not surprise me if there is a fair number of “long-shots” taking the races.  As such, punters will need a lot of help to make the most of the opportunities. I'm still aiming for a release date of Friday evening.

There are a couple of meetings today over the jumps, at Doncaster and Ludlow. At Doncaster, the novice chase at 2:20 looks a cracker even tho’ only 5 runners go to post.  HOLYWELL was by far the best hurdler, and he jumped well enough LTO. He should prevail today, but with decent novices like Victor Hewgo, Top Of The Range, and Firm Order in the field he won’t have things easy.  Not a race to have a large wager on, tho’ if the form works out then it may pay to have a straight forecast on Holywell to beat Firm Order.

The veteran’s handicap chase at 3:35 has had an interesting recent history and, with Cheltenham in mind, it should be watched. Looking thru’ the field of 10-runners, there is not much recent winning form to be found, and I would not want to have a wager on this race until I’d seen the runners in the paddock before the race.

There is nothing much happening at Ludlow tho’, if the ground was soft rather than heavy, I could be tempted to have a speculative wager on Free World in the 3:15. However, the combination of 2-miles and heavy ground could see MOULIN DE LA CROIX run well as in October 2012 (just 16 months ago) this mare ran a couple of decent races over a similar trip and ground and if she’s fit enough to run to something like those performances then she will win this. Odds of 10/1 could look very generous come 3:30pm.

No selections advised but I would not put off anyone who may partake in the suggestions above.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Every cloud has a silver lining

A couple of interesting meetings today at Ascot and Haydock and, hopefully, Wincanton.

Ascot
There are a fair few horse alert runners at Ascot:-
1:30 Cole Harden
2:05 O'Faolains Boy
2:40 Teaforthree, Highland Lodge
3:15 Foxcub
3:50 Cloudy Too, Rolling Aces,

The advance going for Ascot is soft, but I reckon it will be on the heavy side. The opening race is a novice hurdle just shy of 2m4f and is probably a no-wager race as the odds about my alert list runner, COLE HARDEN are too short and under 9/4. Even so, he should be the fav in my opinion.

I'm going to give the RSA Trial novice chase (known to race fans as the Reynoldstown) a miss and look at the 3-mile handicap chase at 2:40pm instead. I'm not convinced about Our Father and think he needs to come down a few more pounds from OR145 to be competitive. Others I'm prepared to discount are Restless Harry and Chance Du Roy. I also think the handicapper has Houblon Des Obeaux on OR158. This shorter trip will suit Highland Lodge, as will the ground and he will meet Hawkes Point on 10lb better terms than in the Welsh National. Night Alliance looked like a hard season had caught up with him LTO at Haydock, and Tullamore Dew is too one-paced. I can see HIGHLAND LODGE running a big race in this. No odds available at the time of writing (4pm Friday).

FOXCUB ran a stonker LTO when 6th behind Saphir Du Rheu over 2m5f in the Lazarote Hurdle at Kempton. He showed he could be competitive off OR137and this shorter trip of an extended 2m3f could be just right for him. Currently 25/1, it may be best to play a small eachway wager or confine your wager to a place-only on the exchanges.

The Ascot Chase (Grade 1) should go to Captain Chris , but the current odds of "evens" are not enticing enough to make me wager. I'm not confident that Riverside Theatre can reproduce his best form and be involved in this race, he's too quirky for me and Henderson's other runner Hunt Ball has yet to recapture his form. The race for 2nd is between Rolling Aces and Cloudy Too, and my money is on the latter. CLOUDY TOO has plenty of speed for for this trip and a bucket load of stamina too. I rate him at 160+, possibly about 7lbs below Captain Chris and that is close enough for me to put him up as an eachway wager at the generous odds of 10/1, with a small saver of a straight forecast: Captain Chris to beat Cloudy Too.

Haydock
Horse alert runners here are:-

2:55 Nuts N Bolts, Loch Ba,  Emperor's Choice, Merry King

The feature race is the Grand National Trial at 2:55 and all my alert list runners are engaged in this race. Regular readers will be fairly well up-to-speed with these and my thoughts on them. Currently, Hawkes Point is favourite for this race and this is a better opportunity for him than at Ascot over 3-miles. However, it takes some horse to win over this trip on heavy ground with more than 11st to carry, and from what we've seen Hawkes Point and the others with more than 11st also look to have a tough tasks. Loch Ba was doing his best work in the final mile when 4th at Warwick over 3m5f LTO, and he can handle heavy ground too. Emperor's Choice also ran well LTO when winning at Ffos Las over 3m4f on heavy ground and is effectively 5lb well-in as he's due to run off OR136 in future but runs off OR131 in this. However, I like the look of NUTS N BOLTS who won here at Haydock in November over this C&D on soft ground and, so long as his jumping holds up, he should outrun his current odds of 14/1.

Selections:
Ascot 3:50 - CLOUDY TOO, £5 eachway @ 10/1 (William Hill)
Haydock 2:55 - NUTS N BOLTS, £5 eachway @ 14/1 (William Hill)
Total = £20 staked

Friday, 14 February 2014

Looking forward to the weekend

This weekend is probably the final opportunity for potential Cheltenham Festival winners to have their final preparatory run. While not cast in stone, the likelihood of horses that run after Sunday 16th February going to the Festival and winning are reduced. This isn't my opinion, its a factor based on the number of days that Cheltenham Festival winners have gone since their previous run, which is an average of about 45-days.
No rules/trends/statistics are hard and fast, there will always be exceptions; but these exceptions merely prove the rule.
This time last year, I published my Cheltenham Festival Bulletin on the day before the Ascot meeting being run tomorrow and advised in that bulletin a 2pt win wager on Cue Card for the Ryanair at the then odds of 5/1. Sure enough, the horse rewarded my support with a tremendous performance on the day winning by 9-lengths.
I'm aiming on publishing my Bulletin next Friday 21st February, and initial copies will be going out to those who have already made a donation since 30th September of at least £10. Will there be another Cue Card? I hope so, and I think I've found a great opportunity on a horse currently at best odds of 33/1 in one of the "championship" races, plus a horse I think has been laid-out for the handicap chase on the opening day of the festival.
The weather has been causing havoc with the horseracing this week, and it has enabled me to get stuck into the Bulletin.
There are a couple of good races to savour this weekend at Ascot and Haydock. At Ascot, it will be due to misfortune if Captain Chris does not win the Ascot Chase over 2m5f & 110 yards, and so it could be a good opportunity to try for a straight forecast - and I think I've found an underated runner in the race who will follow the fav home. There is also a good 3-mile handicap chase there, but I'm waiting to see what is declared to run before casting my eye over the runners.
At Haydock, the Grand National Trial looks very competitive, but I think I've found one at decent odds who may be up to springing a surprise.
I'll be writing my blog for tomorrow this afternoon as  I'm driving down to Cornwall in the morning to see my son for the weekend. As such, I'll be programming the blog to go online at 8am on Saturday morning.
I've had a string of runners-up from my blog selections these past few weeks and I really could do with a small change of luck.
All the best and good luck for the weekend,
from Wayward Lad
  

Friday, 7 February 2014

The early bird...

I've not had much luck with selections in recent weeks with a few close 2nd's, but I'm hoping that will be changing today at Kempton when previous winner for the blog MIDNIGHT APPEAL returns to the track in the 4:10 there this afternoon.
 
Kempton is the only jumps meeting today, and this race is the only one that catches my eye. MIDNIGHT APPEAL only has 7 rivals with Triangular being the 3/1 fav. I'm well aware of the limitations of Triangular as I reckon the horse is best at up to 2m6f, and we managed to topple him LTO by finding the winner of that race in Ifyousayso. Not only that, but todays heavy ground will not suit this horse either. Emma Lavelle's Court Victory is at 7/2, but it's a leap of faith to put your money on this one. Venetia Williams must always be feared and her Summery Justice is not without a chance, but he's been in the doldrums for some time now. Chartreux was on may alert list this time last year after winning at Wincanton on soft ground last January, but he's not built on that win. I can't really see Shuil Royale or Arbeo being involved in this race, tho Adrenelin Flight may well be better than his 16/1 odds as we know he handles heavy ground.
The odds of 7/1 about MIDNIGHT APPEAL look tremendous, as I'd have him at about 7/2 for this race judging by the opposition. This race should also set him up for the 3-mile chase handicap on Day-1 of the Cheltenham Festival. The only doubt I have about the horse is the record of his trainer Alan King, at Kempton. It is not the best around there but, knowing MIDNIGHT APPEAL goes well fresh, handles heavy ground, stays 3-mile well, and looks underated by the handicapper (he had Mountainous behind him at Bangor in November, and that horse went on to win the Welsh National), he is very hard to ignore.
Selection:
Kempton 4:10 MIDNIGHT APPEAL, £5 win and £5 eachway @ 7/1 with Stan James or Coral
Total Staked = £15

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Cheltenham Bulletin under preparation

Saturday's selection EASTLAKE was a disappointing one. As expected, the heavy ground did add another dimension to the race and, despite being only a 2-mile chase; the stamina of the runners was severely tested. The early pace set by Oscar Hill (ridden by Robert "Choc" Thornton) was far too fast and when the field met the "railway" fences, which was after just over a mile, some of the field were already tiring. As such, approaching 3-out there were only 4 still in the race, which included the selection EASTLAKE but even he tired quickly after that to finish 4th. That the race was won by Grey Gold who made it 4 wins from 5 starts on heavy ground (and had previously looked desperate for a trip longer than 2-miles) with the 3-mile chaser Rebel Rebellion staying-on to be 3rd, showed just how stamina-sapping the ground at Sandown was on Saturday. EASTLAKE was not pushed very hard by his rider, the 10lb claimer Tommie O'Brien, and we might see the best of him at Cheltenham if he's reunited with stable jockey AP McCoy.
Perhaps I should just have followed my alert runners without thought as No Planning (6/4), Saphir Du Rheu (2/1) and Emperor's Choice (9/2) all won on the day.
I was particularly impressed with SAPHIR DU RHEU who won a protracted battle with the race-fav Whisper who was receiving 6lb (after taking off the 5lb allowance for Saphir's jockey, Harry Derham). I appreciate that this 5yo is entered for the 3-mile World Hurdle at the Festival and is destined to be a superlative chaser, but I'd like to see him supplemented for this year's Champion Hurdle. From what we've seen, he's about 7-10lb shy of Hurricane Fly and his stamina might well make him a dangerous beast to under-estimate in the Champion Hurdle.
I've spent a fair bit of time updating the Cheltenham Festival Bulletin and I'm about to start writing the "essays". This will be a new section for the bulletin. I've been looking at other Cheltenham Festival productions and, if I may say so, some are looking a bit stale. They are also not looking like good value as some, and I'm including prestigious Festival guides, don't even provide a selection for the Festival – not one. It would not be a Festival if the punter didn't go into March with at least one antepost wager of substance tucked in the wallet. Last year I gave readers Cue Card @ 5/1 for the Ryanair Chase, and we certainly made hay!
My target date for issue of the Cheltenham Festival Bulletin 2014 to donators is Friday 21st February.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Heavy going today, take it easy

My selection yesterday was not a good one and, on reflection, was a shot in the dark. It looked to have some potential beforehand and for those who back-to-lay there was plenty of opportunity to make a reasonable profit as odds of 28+ were available before the off and the horse traded at under 15 in running.

The weather has had an adverse effect on today’s jump racing with the Sandown card becoming all-chase races as the hurdle course is untraceable. There are other meetings at Ffos Las and Wetherby but, with all 3 tracks racing on very soft or heavy ground, it is a day for caution.

Wetherby
Horse alert runners are:-
2:10 – NO PLANNING,
3:20 – COVERHOLDER, and GREEN FLAG

The 2:10, Class 2 handicap chase over 2m4f & 110 yards, looks tricky with a couple of interesting types in Ultimate (trainer Brian Ellison has a good record here with chasers especially) and Ice ‘N’ Easy (Charlie Longsdon also has a good record with chasers here).  This trip could be a bit short for Alert list runner No Planning, whose trainer Sue Smith has a great record in this race (won it 3 times since 2007). However, it is not difficult to see ICE ‘N’ EASY winning this tho’ his odds of 2/1 are too short for me to recommend a wager (my cut-off is 9/4).
I’m a bit more interested in the (Grade 2) Class 2 novice chase over 3m1f at 3:20. Just 6 go to post but there looks a fair bit of competition. Of my alert list runners, GREEN FLAG looks the most interesting. He’s shown he can win at 3-mile as a chaser on testing ground already, whereas the fav Shutthefrontdoor is rated on his excellent hurdle for last season. I am more reliant on form that potential and so the odds of 5/2 about GREEN FLAG look fair.

Ffos Las
Horse alert runners are:-
2:05 – WHISPER, SAPHIR DU RHEU, HOME RUN
2:40 – EMPEROR’S CHOICE

The Welsh Champion Hurdle, a Class 2 limited handicap, is over 2m4f and it looks a cracker of a race. If Saphir Du Rheu can win this off OR158 giving 11lb to Whisper and 20lb to Home Run then he should be given a late-entry into the Champion Hurdle (if that is possible).  As such, I feel the winner will come from the latter pair. If there were 8 runners then I’d be on Home Run for a place but I doubt that I’d get the current 20/1 for an eachway wager.  WHISPER has to be the most likely winner and, to be fair, odds of 9/4 are reasonable.
For the West Wales National (why can’t it be called a “marathon”) over 3m4f, I cannot really recommend alert runner Emperor’s Choice as he’s not been running well this season and I’d like to see a change in his form as he has clear ability within him. He’s favourite today due to the tremendous form of his trainer Venetia Williams, and that means there is value in the market. That value could be De La Bech who had Mountainous behind him when winning at Chepstow in December, and now meets him on 8lb better terms. De La Bech loves heavy ground and that may be the key to him as he’s not gone well when tackling further than 3-miles before.

Sandown
Horse alert runners are:-
1:15 – SPANISH ARCH
1:50 - DESERT CRY, FILBERT,
3:35 – THEATRICAL STAR

The meeting at Sandown is a bit of a mish-mash due to the ground making the hurdle course un-raceable. I’m not sure about Spanish Arch on this ground but I cannot split market leaders Saroque and Toby Lerone.
The next on the card looks a very interesting race. The 2-miles at Sandown is one of the most spectacular on the jumping circuit and today’s heavy ground adds another dimension. I’m not sure about Desert Cry on heavy ground, and Filbert needs 2m4f. The horses that stand out for me are Eastlake and Kumbeshwar, tho’ the latter did not run well last weekend. That said, Kumbeshwar comes back to his optimum 2-mile trip today, but there is still that questionmark. As such, I’m siding more with EASTLAKE who has no fear of heavy ground around Sandown as he was a C&D winner on similar ground last season. There is also a case for Rebel Rebellion in this race as he is also a C&D winner on heavy ground, but he may want 2m4f+ these days. Odds of 13/2 with Bet Victor look very fair to me.

Selection:
Sandown 1:50 EASTLAKE, £10 @ 13/2 with Bet Victor (best odds guaranteed)
Total = £10 staked