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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.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury

A terrific day for the blog yesterday, the only downside was that my recommended wager lost!!! However, 3 of the other 4 horses mentioned on the blog won:
Wilton Milan at 3/1
Tullyesker Hill at 10/1
No Buts at 6/1
If I'd had a better start to the season, then I'd have had the confidence to nominate at least No Buts as a wager (he was 8/1 when I wrote the blog) and would possibly have included Wilton Milan as well (he was trading at 9/2 at the time of writing the blog).

Onto today, and I've already looked at the Hennessy Gold Cup earlier this week.
I'm very happy to oppose the Irish challenger Djakadam who has not run beyond 2m5f and fell when under pressure at the Cheltenham Festival in the race won by Taquin De Seuil.
The 2nd-fav Many Clouds does not look to be leniently treated on OR151, and Fingal Bay could be well-in on OR153 if he's learned to jump a fence in the last 2 years. Smad Place looks interesting, as does last years runner-up Rocky Creek, but they both need to run career-bests to win this. The Druids Nephew looks held on his OR141 rating.
There is one horse tho' that stands out at the weights, and that is Cheltenham Festival winner MIDNIGHT PRAYER. Only 5 chase runs, he is still very unexposed and can win his seasonal debut (which he did last October) and then ran a cracker here at Newbury in December over 3-mile. He won the National Hunt Chase over 4-mile at the Festival beating the 12lb higher-rated Shotgun Paddy a neck at level weights. What is interesting is that Alan King has put 5lb claimer Tom Bellamy on and so the horse will only by carrying 10st 5lb. I'm expecting a big run and I'm already on at 25/1 for £5 eachway and £10 win.

There are host of horses from my alert list running today, as I'd expect on a great day of racing. As such, I can't hope to look at all their chances.
Midnight Appeal looks well treated for the 1:20 at Newbury. He's not a "proper" 3-mile chaser and this shorter trip of 2m6f & 110 yards will suit him, and if he can get back to his best form of last season (no reason why he shouldn't) he could be up to winning this. The Irish entry Dushrembramdt will not enjoy the soft ground based on known form and he'll need to have 10lb in-hand to win this. Listen Boy is more interesting, but he'll know he's been in a race today. I prefer the chance of Bertie Boru who is just a 7yo and comes here in top form and is the ride of Richard Johnson. This is not an easy race though, and Noble Legend - who has been rated OR135 - could easily win this off OR129 if it's a going day, but only the horse knows that as he's unpredictable. A tight affair, and the winner will come from Midnight Appeal, Bertie Boru, Listen Boy or Noble Legend. No wager recommended.

There are also supporting meetings at Newcastle, Towcester, and Bangor.

The Rehearsal Chase over 3-mile at Newcastle at 2:40 looks a cracker. Last years 1st - Hey Big Spender, and 2nd - Vintage Star, return to battle again on identical terms. They've both had a run and both have shown themselves to be as good, if not better, as ever. Personally, I think the soft ground this year swings the balance in favour of Vintage Star. One to consider is Tutchec, who was running a good race until hitting the 3rd-last fence LTO. Broadway Buffalo ran his best chase race yet LTO and improvement is expected - but will it? Odds of 9/2 leave no room for error, so he's not for me. Indian Castle is another with potential being just 6yo, but he ran poorly LTO and trainer Ian Williams is not in top form. I think Lie Forrit will struggle to beat Hey Big Spender today on 5lb worse terms. For me, the safest wager is VINTAGE STAR at 13/2 eachway.

Selections:
Newcastle 2:40 VINTAGE STAR, £5 eachway @ 13/2 (Bet365 quarter-odds 1,2,3 & BOG)
Newbury 3:00 MIDNIGHT PRAYER, £5 eachway @ 28/1 (Bet365 quarter-odds 1,2,3, 4 & BOG)

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Day 2 of the Hennessy meeting at Newbury

A good job I didn't recommend any wagers yesterday as my reading of the races was way off the mark. Both Cloudy Bob and Ashes House ran very poorly, with neither horse looking like it ws enjoying the conditions. As for Mohi Rahrere at Uttoxeter, rather than being allowed to bowl along, he was held-up and seemed to lose interest in the race.
Trainer Alan King sent just 3 horses out - and they all won! And they were all ridden by different jockeys . That has to be good news for my Hennessy Gold Cup wager (see earlier blogs).

Other news yesterday was centred around Nicky Henderson and his heroes from the 2013 Cheltenham Festival: Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre.
Both have met further mishaps on the gallops and neither will be seen on the track before 1st January 2015. This means that Balder Succes is now the fav for the Tingle Creek Chase on 6th December at Sandown.
As I wrote on this blog on 16th September:-
"there seems to be a distinct lack of quality 2-mile chasers about. I expect trainer Alan King will have planned a campaign similar to that of his 2007 QMCC winner Voy Por Ustedes and we'll likely see a reappearance of BALDER SUCCES at Sandown in December for the Tingle Creek. A win in that race, and it is not unlikely, and BALDER SUCCES would be the new QMCC favorite. I'm on (for the QMCC) at £6 eachway and £13 win, that's a total of £25 staked at 14/1. A "place" returns £27, and a win returns £312".

Onto today, and at 12:55 we have a very open-looking handicap Class 3 chase over 2m2f & 110 yards. The race-fav is Comeonginger who has won his last 3 chase races since being dropped in trip from 3-mile to 2m4f. His last win was fairly facile and he's up another 5lb to OR120 and he's starting to look a bit vulnerable now as his hurdle rating is OR115. I quite like the look of Wilton Milan in this race as he's never looked like a 3-mile horse as a chaser, and this drop in trip could be the making of him as his last win was over hurdles over 2m4f at Southwell beating a useful field easily off a ratng of OR133. He's on OR123 today and this horse - who cost £85,000 - could be the answer.

From my alert list, in the 3-mile handicap hurdle at 1:30, TULLYESKER HILL looks well treated if he's able to hold his form since winning LTO. Unfortunately, he's up against a top-class stablement in Unique De Cotte who looks even better! David Pipe will likely take the next race as well with Dell Arca who was really thrown-in the deep end LTO for his debut chase. It wont be easy for him as OR165 hurdler Saphir Du Rheu from the Paul Nicholls stable is having his chase debut in this race, but he has to know how to jump a fence.

We haven't seen The Paparrazi Kid in nearly a year, but he looked useful when we did. As such, he looks about 7lb well-in on his OR141 rating for the 2:40 at Newbury. There are several that look well treated: Lamool, Pendra, and Cantlow (if he can regain his form) and it is unfortunate that Rolling Aces is a non-runner as I thought he'd do well in this. Paul Nicholls sends his recent Sandown winner Sound Investment for this, but I thought that horse benefitted from a run that day and he may well struggle to hold NO BUTS who was having his first run for David Bridgwater. He's 6lb better-off today and will strip a lot fitter  for having that run at Sandown on 8th November. At 8/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3) he looks generously priced as it is difficult to see him being out of the 1st-3 home.

At Doncaster, there is an interesting handicap chase at 2:30 over 2m3f. There has been a market move for the James Ewart trained Premier Grand Crus, and Ewart does well with chasers at Doncaster (7 wins from 18 runners). However, that has meant that the morning fav BIG WATER is now best-priced at 9/4 (from 6/4) and we have no doubt that this horse is in good form as he beat a useful field (with some NTO winners) on 2nd November. With the front-runner Billy Cuckoo likely to try and make-all, the race will be set up for BIG WATER who likes to come late in the day.

Selection:
Doncaster 2:30 BIG WATER, £10 win @ 9/4 (Bet365, PaddyPower, Ladbrokes & Coral - all BOG)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Day 1 of the Hennessy meeting at Newbury

What a great day of horseracing for a Thursday, with meetings at Newbury, Taunton and Uttoxeter.
The blog is being posted a bit late (unfortunately, I had a meeting to attend from 10:00 - 11:30) so this is more of a review of what's ahead.

Well handicapped, but roguish, chaser Loch Ba runs over hurdles at Newbury at 1:35 this afternoon, on what is surely a recovery mission to boost his confidence. Running off OR119 should make him the fav for this race as he raced off OR137 over fences last season (has since dropped to OR124) and looked well-in on occassion (eg: when 4th at Warwick in January on soft ground).

Later in the afternoon, from my alert list comes CLOUDY BOB who runs in the 2:45. This 2m6f &110 yard chase should really suit him after he won over a similar trip and ground at Market Rasen LTO. That win earned him a 7lb hike in the ratings to OR128, but he was running well last season off OR125 and he looks unexposed to me and capable of winning this. The only issue for me is that he seems best going right-handed, but he has won and run well going left-handed. The hot fav is the Alan King novice chaser Ned Stark, but he's no price at all at 13/8. The Paul Nicholls trained Ceasar Milan runs in his debut chase and this looks a tough task for him giving 5lb to a competent chaser like Cloudy Bob. The other novice being backed is Liberty One, but he'll need to improve a lot on his debut to be involved in this in my opinion. The other novice in the race Ashes House looks of more interest as the first-two in that race both won NTO and the form looks rock solid. Bet365 go quarter-odds a place 1,2,3 for this and 10/1 Cloudy Bob, and 12/1 Ashes House look interesting eachway chances.

Nothing jumps at me at Taunton, and Uttoxeter isn't much better, but the handicap chase at 3:05 seems to offer an opportunity to those who like to wager on the shorter-odds chances. With Hi Bob being a non-runer, only 4 horses go to post and it looks a match between Mohi Rahrere and Ray Diamond. The latter has been out of form for over a year and has slipped from OR117 in Jan13 to OR95 today. He has won a race in the intervening period, a class 4 at Exeter off the same mark he runs off today. What worries me about him is that he doesn't stay a yard beyond 2m4f (todays trip) and the ground at Uttoxeter is heavy. There are no trip worries for Mohi Rahrere who stays 3-mile well, and this front-runner will surely test the stamina of the others in the race. Odds of 7/4 about MOHI RAHRERE look generous to me, as I'd have him at about 11/10.

Looking ahead to Saturday and the Hennessy Gold Cup, my early selection MIDNIGHT PRAYER is sure to line-up and Alan King has even booked the useful 5lb claimer Tom Bellamy for the ride, as such he'll only be carrying 10st 5lb and I'm on at 25/1.

All the best and vote for the blog in the UK Blog awards if you haven't already done so.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Look-back at the weekend's racing (22/23 November)

A profitable day of racing for the blog on Saturday, with SILVINIACO CONTI confirming that when faced with a proper stamina test he's the best staying chaser in training. Running on soft (or worse) ground for the first time since winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton on similar ground, the horse ran to about the same level as when he won the Betfair Chase in November 2012.
My reading of the race was just about perfect, with the only "blip" being that I under-estimated the ability of Menorah. The horse had previously shown he was capable of runing at this level when taking the Peterborough Chase (run at Kempton) in December 2012 on heavy ground - and he relished the conditions on Saturday.  Whether Menorah can find any more improvement is debateable, but he's running a lot better now than he was earlier this year.
Even so, looking at the betting for the King George on Boxing Day (for which there are currently 37 entries) the odds of 12/1 about Menorah look a decent eachway wagering opportunity. He's unlikely to rverse the form with SILVINIACO CONTI, but there is not much in the race likely to keep him out of the places.
Cue Card was very disappointing on Saturday and went out very tamely, running about 15lb below his best. Dynaste will need "good" ground to show improvement at Kempton, and I'm not convinced he's a true 3-mile chaser yet at this level.
Nicky Henderson's stable looks out-of-sorts and he's only sent out the winner of 3 chase races since 1st September, though his stable-form usually improves in December and again in the New Year.
As such, I really cannot fathom why SILVINIACO CONTI is not shorter, especially as this year's field looks weaker and he's already shown that he's as good (if not better) than ever.
So far, the only horse that looks likely to challenge him is stable-mate AL FEROF who also won on Saturday when taking the Amlin 1965 Chase over 2m3f for the 2nd year in succession. This was the horse's best performance since winning the Paddy Power Handicap Chase in Nov12, and he's put a couple of indifferent runs last season behind him. Although he was 3rd in the King George last December, I really cannot see him beating SILVINIACO CONTI in that race and his only chance would appear to be if his stablemate doesn't finish. Trainer Paul Nicholls would much rather target the horse at the QM Champion Chase over 2-miles. That seems unlikely and I expect that the horse will be entered in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase, as he was last year. He looked to have at least 3lb in-hand on Saturday, maybe more, and if he goes to the Ryanair in this sort of form then he'll take some beating and the 16/1 offered by Ladbrokes looks very generous.

Another interesting performance was that of ACCORDING TO TREV in the 3m1f handicap chase at Haydock. This was a tremendous run from the 8yo when you look at the horses he beat. Renard again showed his love for soft-heavy ground with a near career-best run. Unfortunately when racing beyond 2m5f he lacks tactical speed and was outpaced (again, for the 5th time in succession) when passing that point, but stayed-on strong, if one-paced. Midnight Appeal possibly needs a trip a shade shorter than 3-mile as he is another who is one-paced but very consistent. As for Forgotten Gold in 4th, this was his best run since beaten a short-head at Cheltenham in April, and his form usually improves as the season progresses - he has to be one for the alert list.

We have the Hennessy Gold Cup this Saturday at Newbury and, with 7 x LTO winners going to post, it looks a cracker in the making. I'm very happy to oppose the Irish challenger Djakadam who has not run beyond 2m5f and fell when under pressure at the Cheltenham Festival in the race won by Taquin De Seuil. The 2nd-fav Many Clouds does not look to be leniently treated on OR151, and Fingal Bay could be well-in on OR153 if he's learned to jump a fence in the last 2 years. Smad Place looks interesting, as does last years runner-up Rocky Creek. The Druids Nephew looks held on his OR141 rating, and it's hard to believe that Hadrian's Approach is only a 7yo - he looks very interesting.  Black Thunder is another strong entry from Paul Nicholls, and he'll likely be on the premises. There is one horse tho' that stands out at the weights, and that is Cheltenham Festival winner MIDNIGHT PRAYER. Only 5 chase runs, he is still very unexposed and can win his seasonal debut (which he did last October) and then ran a cracker here at Newbury in December over 3-mile. He won the National Hunt Chase over 4-mile at the Festival beating the 12lb higher-rated Shotgun Paddy a neck at level weights. I cannot understand why this horse is 25/1 with Paddy Power and I can see him starting at half those odds on the day.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Betfair Chase at Haydock - 22nd November

A cracking day of racing lies ahead.
Be careful with the ground though as after a lot of rain it could be more heavy than soft ground being raced on.

Horse Alert List runners:
Haydock 12:10 Getabuzz - expect a better run than LTO
Haydock 12:45 Emperor's Choice - usually needs his seasonal debut
Haydock 2:25 Oscar Rock - will love the soft ground, and wont be far away.
Haydock 3:00 Harry Topper - see race review below
Haydock 3:35 Midnight Appeal - would be my idea of the winner of this race but isn't value at 11/2 as he is a bit one-paced and vulnerable to a late challenge.

Ascot 1:30 Hi Note
Ascot 2:05 Fox Appeal and Bury Parade
Ascot 2:40 Blue Fashion
Ascot 3:15 Brick Red and Parsnip Pete

The feature race of the day is the Betfair Chase won last year by Cue Card with Dynaste in 2nd. When he ran at Exeter recently, Cue Card looked a little lack-lustre but it was his first run since Boxing Day 2013. I'd expect him to find 7-10lb on that run which puts him in the mix for a repeat win. I'd expect Dynaste to be in the mix, but the soft ground is not in his favour, nor the 3m1f trip, so I can't see him winning if they all finish. For me, the horse that has all the qualities to win this race is SILVINIACO CONTI. He's won the race before, he's beaten both Cue Card and Dynaste at level weights in the past 12 months, the ground will not phase him and he'll appreciate it more than the "good" ground he's run on for his last 3 races, and he'll come into this race prepared to win it by Paul Nicholls. I really cannot see another horse getting in the mix, but one who may is Harry Topper who is still unexposed at this level and could run a great race if the ground is on the heavy side of soft by the time of the race. The odds of 7/2 look fair about SILVINIACO CONTI and he's the win wager in this race. Betfred are 9/2 but you may not get much money on.  For those who are adventurous, a reverse forecast with Silviniaco Conti and Harry Topper could prove lucrative.

At Ascot at 2:05 there is a terrific Grade 2 chase over 2m3f ("Amlin 1965 Chase") with just 6 runners, but what a field - this race would not look out of place at the Cheltenham Festival. Al Ferof is still capable of running up to his official rating of OR162 based on his performance in the Ryanair Chase last March. Nicholls' other runner, Bury Parade, is better than his rating of OR153 but even in receipt of 4lb he's going to struggle in this. Ditto Fox Appeal, but waht I like about this one is we've yet to see just how good he is as he likes to chase a target. Somersby will struggle as he's about 7lb below is OR164 rating.  Wishful Thinking is at the top of his game at 11yo - remarkable. If he goes as well as he did at Aintree LTO he'll take a lot of beating. However, he's never gone particularly well when running right-handed. The fly in the ointment is the Henderson runner Rajdhani Express. Based on his Ryanair 3rd (with Al Ferof behind him on levels) he has a terrific chance at the weights, even if the soft ground is supposedly against him. At odds of 7/2 about RAJDHANI EXPRESS looks very good value and, having won on heavy ground and going right-handed, he looks the one to be on.  I'm very surprised he's not the fav for this race at the weights.

Selection:
Haydock 3:00 SILVINIACO CONTI, £10 win @ 7/2 (available generally)

Ascot 2:05 RAJDHANI EXPRESS, £10 win @ 7/2 (available generally)

If you are new to the blog today, please vote in the UK Blog awards (see below).
Please do not vote again if you have already voted as that will cancel out the original vote!
The blog is in two categories:
1) Lifestyle, and
2) Arts & Culture
 - so you can vote for the blog in both categories, or just in one.

The top-10 vote-catchers in each category will go through to the final judging and - if 10% of my 1500 twitter followers, or 25% of my regular Saturday blog readership of 600 vote for the blog - I'm hopeful of making the final shortlists.

To vote in the Lifestyle category, please follow this link:
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Friday, 21 November 2014

Betfair Chase weekend at Haydock

A good day of racing today before we have the Betfair Chase at Haydock tomorrow.
The blog has been a bit sporadic lately as my "proper" job has been very busy lately. However, a change of scenery is on the horizon - not sure if it will be a good or a bad thing, only time will tell.

Just looking at the meeting at Haydock this afternoon as my brother who writes the blog http://sprinterstogo.blogspot.co.uk  will be attending the meeting. The opening race which is a 3-mile hurdle at 12:50, looks interesting and there are a couple that catch my eye. From my alert list is Night In Milan who is one of my favourite handicap chasers. He's rated OR144 as a chaser so comes into this on his hurdle rating of OR129. However, he ran in this race last season off OR125 and was well beaten before winning at Doncaster over fences NTO. I expect a similar performance from him in this today.  The market leaders look weak, and one that's caught my eye is MATHEW RILEY who ran a cracker here over hurdles at this trip and on similar soft ground last December. That looks even better form now than it did then, as he won't me a horse like Sausolito Sunrise in today's race. Odds of 8/1 look useful. Another interesting contender is Who Owns Me who has his first run for Michael Easterby - he could run well if the change of trainer has reinvigorated him.

The rest of the meeting could go to the short-priced fav's in what are small field races. TURBAN looks nailed-on for the 1:20, but this solitary runner for Willie Mullins (ridden by Ruby Walsh) is odds-on at 4/6.

In the novice hurdle at 1:55 over 2-mile, I wagered on THE BROCK AGAIN when he ran 3rd at Sandown on the 8th November. That ground was very heavy (not soft) in places and he looked the most likely winner till the ground took its toll and he stamina gave out. He'll strip fitter today and so long as the ground is proper soft, and not soft/heavy, he should win. Odds of 15/8 look very interesting as the only realistic challenger is Oscarteea who will struggle to concede 6lb to the Nicholls horse.

I don't agree with the market for the 2:30 which is a novice chase over 2m6f. Sure, the Nicholls horse Virak should be the race-fav but odds of "evens" are too short. What I find odd is that the odds about Nicky Hendersons only runner here today GOLDEN HOOF at 7/1 are too long - I'd have him more the 5/2 2nd-fav with Monkey Kingdom at 9/2 and Virak at something like 7/4.  GOLDEN HOOF beat a decent yardstick LTO at Aintree and this race is within his compass.

The final couple of races on the card should go the the Paul Nicholls horses; Vago Collonges and Abidjan.

No recommended selections from me today as MATHEW RILEY could only be a small eachway wager; and THE BROCK AGAIN is too short in the market (my minimum odds for a recommendation is 9/4).  Similarly, I expect GOLDEN HOOF to really push the Virak, but again it would have to be an eachway wager and odds of 7/1 are not juicy enough for that - it's win or bust.

Back again tomorrow for the Betfair Chase.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Paddy Power Gold Cup - 15th November

What a cracking day of racing we have ahead of us.  I've been looking at the races at Cheltenham for a few days and think I've spotted a couple who have slipped under the radar of the tipsters.

There are a few from my alert list running in the feature race itself: Cantlow, Johns Spirit, Kapga De Cerisy, Indian Castle and Buywise.  Later in the afternoon Theatrical Star and Vivaldi Collonges are horses on my alert list.

For the Paddy Power Gold Cup at 2:30, Buywise heads the market at 7/1 alongside Present View. Both these horses are very progressive and come here on the back of a recent run. Of the pair I prefer Buywise as this horse has never stopped improving and could be exceptional. Coming into this race on a seasonal debut can be tough (not impossible) and so I'm overlooking Indian Castle today - but he's on a cracking handicap mark and he'll exploit that this season.  Johns Spirit is a tremendously game and consistent horse, and odds of 11/1 - and some bookies go 5-places eachway - are very generous. If you want an interest in the race, and if he's improved again on his recent win at Cheltenham, you cannot go wrong with an eachway wager at 11/1 with the race sponsors who go 5-places.

However, I'm looking at exploiting those 5-place bookies and going for a couple under the radar who could sneak the race itself. The first of those is Nicky Henderson's ERICHT who was 3rd behind Johns Spirit and Persian Snow at Cheltenham and has actually been dropped 1lb by the handicapper. That was only his 6th chase race and he's 20/1 with the sponsors and 22/1 with Bet365 who also go 5-places eachway.

My second under-the-radar horse is from my alert list - KAPGA DE CERISY. We know this horse goes well on a seasonal debut as he won his only race last season at Ascot when demolishing a good field. Venetia Williams has her horses bouncing at the moment and the trip today and the ground will suit this horse down to a tee. I think this horse has immense potential and his rating of OR148 could be very lenient. He's also 22/1 with the bookies.

The other race I've looked at in depth is the 1:50 at Cheltenham and this is a 3m3f handicap chase. Without a doubt, the race fav The Druids Nephew could be well ahead of the handicapper, but there are a couple in this race who will give him a lot to think about. The 10yo Cape Tribulation is one of them. Remember this horse was a proper Gold Cup candidate as an 8yo and he loves Cheltenham. He's been thrown a huge chance by the handicapper who's dropped him to OR146 and I can see him running a big race - especially as trainer Jefferson has given him a recent spin on the flat to perk him up as he usually needs a run to show his best form. At 14/1 he represents good eachway value.  However, this race usually goes to a horse no older than 8yo and the one horse that is improving and looking like this race will suit him is the bottom-weight with just 10st to carry MASTER NEO. There is a lot of dead-wood in this race in my opinion, and Master Neo brings together a small trainer with an improving young horse that is proven race fit having won only last Sunday. Odds of 12/1 look very fair for a horse running with just a 5lb penalty for that win.

Selections:
Cheltenham 1:50 MASTER NEO, £5 eachway @ 12/1 (Bet365, Paddy Power, Coral - quarter-odds a place 123)

Cheltenham 2:30 ERICHT, £5 eachway @ 22/1 (Bet365 and Paddy Power - quarter-odds a place 12345)
Cheltenham 2:30 KAPGA DE CERISY, £5 eachway @ 22/1 (Bet365 and Paddy Power - quarter-odds a place 12345)

That's £30 staked

Don't forget to vote for the blog if you haven't already.
Please do not vote again if you have already voted as that will cancel out the original vote!
The blog is in two categories: Lifestyle and Arts & Culture - so you can vote for the blog in both categories, or just in one.
The top-10 vote-catchers in each category will go through to the final judging and - if 10% of my 1500 twitter followers, or 25% of my regular Saturday blog readership of 600 vote for the blog - I'm hopeful of making the final shortlists.

To vote in the Lifestyle category, please follow this link:
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Friday, 14 November 2014

Cheltenham Friday 14th November

It is a great opening day to the 3-day "Paddy Power" fixture at Cheltenham.
I'll get straight into the racing and the opening race is usually a good betting medium even though I try and avoid amateur-rider races like the plague. There are a couple of runners from my alert list in this race: Benbens and Handy Andy. 
The race-fav is Broadway Buffalo a 6yo sent here by David Pipe. After winning a 3-mile handicap hurdle at Haydock in May, he's been chasing but I'm not convinced about him in this sphere. Handy Andy won this race last year running off OR123, and he's only 6lb higher than that on OR129 today. His recent 3rd at Chepstow will have prepped him for this and a repeat of last years effort will see him go very close today as he'll have no problem with the soft ground. My other alert runner, Benbens, is lightly raced for a 9yo and this will be only his 6th chase race - but he has won 2 of those and been runner-up twice. His rating of OR134 looks reasonable and todays ground will be perfect for him. Charingworth was 2nd in this race last year to Handy Andy and meets him on 5lb better terms for 2½ lengths, but he's not won since December 2011 and being one-paced will need to be presented with this race to win it. Ballyoliver should be thereabouts but I think he'll be wanting further than this trip and will be staying-on at the end. The only other horse on my radar is Fruity O'Rooney and while I expect he'll be front-running again (along with Handy Andy) this soft ground isn't ideal.  At the odds, I think Benbens at 7/1 looks the best value as the soft ground should suit him best of the market leaders.

The 20-runner Class 2 handicap chase at 1:50 looks a nightmare to solve. As for the Novices Chase at 2:25, who is going to take a price on Colour Squadron after he threw away a winning opportuity LTO?

The Novice Hurdle over 2m5f at 3:00 should go to Blaklion, and the Cross Country Chase should be in the bag for Balthazar King.

Not much to go on today for value, and it could be a day which the bookies may want to forget with some solid fav's looking very likely to win their races. So, I'm going to give he day a miss.

The only race which looks a betting opportunity for me is the opener. My assessment is the race is between Handy Andy and Benbens, and I really cannot split them.  There is always another day.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

FOXCUB rewards readers with a win at 11/1

What a result for those who follow the blog!
I've been following FOXCUB since October 2013 when he won by 14-lengths at Fontwell beating another consistent performer in Hi Note. This horse never runs a bad race and is as genuine as they come. There was a worry that the ground was softer than ideal, but when I saw the pictures from the course I was never in any doubt. FOXCUB ran his usual race, from the front, and had this field struggling to stay in contention well over half-a-mile out. The only other horse to make a race of it was the useful Clondaw Kaempfer who - like a few of McCains horses this autumn - was a little below his best and will surely come on for the run.
Trainer Tom Symonds has his small string in tip-top condition, and hinted that FOXCUB will probably go chasing at sometime this season.

In the 3-mile handicap chase, Venetia Williams managed to rekindle the enthusiasm of Howard's Legacy and he ran close to the form of his April run when 2nd at Chepstow. This horse has good days and bad days, so don't expect him to follow-up this win NTO.

There are a couple of jump race meetings today at Ludlow and Taunton. I've no horses from my alert list running. I can't see anything of interest at Ludlow but there are a couple that may be on the the premises at Taunton. On days like this I pay more attention to the trainers and where they are sending their horses and, as I wrote above, Tom Symonds has his stable firing on all cylinders and he sends Kings Apollo for the novice chase at 3:40 at Taunton. The horse will be race-fit from a recent run, we know he can jump a fence, and this 3-mile hurdle winner at Towcester will prefer this trip more than that which he encountered 3-weeks ago on his seasonal debut. The odds are skinny tho' so I'm not recommending a wager (my minimum wager odds are 9/4).

Another at Taunton is De Blacksmith in the 2:10 which is a 3-mile novice chase. His chase rating of OR118 looks very fair, and he's capable of winning off this. What is more interesting is that his trainer Gary Moore has his stable in good form - he's had 4 winners in the past few days - and this horse is his only runner today. The worry is that Paul Nicholls has the well-bred and expensive Chinatown Boy in the race running his chase debut. This makes the odds on De Blacksmith a bit longer than I'd expect at 7/1 but, with only 7-runners in the race, this isn't really and eachway wager opportunity. I'll be having a small personal wager - just on the off-chance that the Nicholls horse doesn't take to fences.

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Voting for the UK Blog Awards now open

I have entered this blog into the UK Blog Awards for 2015 for which voting opened on 10th November. The blog is entered in two categories:
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Long-term readers of the blog will remember this corresponding day last year as I tipped the 25/1 winner Midnight Appeal.  Only 9 go to post for this years renewal of the race which is at 2:00pm at Bangor (the morning fav is a non-runner). I'm not sure about current fav Knock A Hand as he'll need to run a career-best to win today, and the 2nd-fav Bob Ford hasn't convinced me he truly stays 3-mile. Much the same can be said of What's Happening, but he looks to have more potential off his rating of OR134. Howard's Legacy is interesting, especially when you look at his 2nd at Chepstow last April. He beat stable companion Ballyoliver in that race and that one reappeared last week to win off the same rating - whereas Howard's Legacy has been dropped 2lb to OR125 as he didn't run well subsequently at Wincanton in May. He can go well when fresh and is certainly good enough to win off this rating if he's in the mood.  Herdsman is unexposed as a chaser and will love this soft ground.  He also has no stamina issues. The ground isn't right for Dursey Sound (prefers good-to-soft or better), and OR138 for Count Salazar looks harsh. Another attempt at the Grand National awaits Across The Bay, and although we know Ikorodu Road can win off a long break, it may be asking a lot to see him win this on his stable debut.  I'd go for What's Happening, but his trainer Tom George has an appalling record at this track. Still, the trainer has his stable flying and odds of 8/1 with Ladbrokes looks fair.

I much prefer the chances of an old favourite of mine later in the afternoon, FOXCUB. The trip and ground will be perfect for him, and we know the horse is race-fit as he's run twice this autumn already. I'd ignore his last run as he made a bad error early on which put him out of the race, but he stayed-on well to be 5th. The fav Kentucky Hyden was the runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle but subsequently ran poorly at Punchestown. This is a trip into the unknown for him. The 2nd-fav El Macca couldn't win with AP McCoy in the saddle LTO; and the rest of this field look very ordinary. The form of his win at Leicester over a similar trip and ground looks useful now and I was expecting his odds to be around 6/1 for this, so 11/1 with Bet365 and Ladbrokes looks generous and makes an eachway wager a viable proposition.

Selection
Bangor 3:00 FOXCUB, £5 eachway @ 11/1 with Ladbrokes or Bet365 - 5th odds 1,2,3

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Is Shutthefrontdoor a potential Gold Cup horse?

We saw a terrific performance from SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR at Carlisle yesterday when winning over and extended 3-mile off with the consistent chaser Vintage Star - who also ran a great race and jumped like a stag throughout - well beaten. This means that the 7yo Shutthefrontdoor has now won 9 or his 14 races, which include the Irish Grand National.
It may not have been a handicap yesterdxay, but he's sure to go up another 7lb at least for this win, maybe more, and he looks a chaser capable of achieving a rating of 165+ which puts him firmly in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture should his trainer Jonjo O'Neill consider it.
Don't forget, O'Neill has won the Gold Cup before with a progressive handicapper in Sychronised who, at this stage in his career was only rated OR150. If he goes to Chepstow for the Welsh National and wins that then O'Neill will have a dilemma on his hands.

On Saturday I was at Sandown for the racing there (it was my birthday) and I managed to find a couple of winners. The 1st race fell my way thanks to the winner catching the eye of my girlfriend in the paddock ("he looks perky"). Unfortunately, as I fancied the eventual runner-up No No Mac more, my wager was only a small eachway. Thankfully, I stuck to my guns for the 2nd race and had a substantial wager on the Paul Nicholls novice chaser IRISH SAINT who was having his chase debut. It is a bit of a gamble with novice chasers but, so long as he was able to jump, this one was about 15lb better than his only other serious rival in the race. The odds of 4/5 looked generous in hindsight. Will this horse end up in the 'Arkle' or the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next March? He looks good enough to win either race to me.

The rest of the afternoon didn't go so well as the ground was a lot more testing that the official description of "good-to-soft". It looked more like 'soft - heavy in places' to me with the winners being those horses that stayed the trip best of all.

I was impressed with the novice hurdler Baron Alco from Gary Moore's stable, in fact Moore all the horses sent out by Moore to Sandown looked very fit and well placed.  The winner of the 4th race on the card Sound Investment confirmed his liking for Sandown (he was already a course winner) and that the ground was softer than reported. I'm hoping the runner-up Dolatulo isn't hit hard by the handicapper as he could run well next time, especially on better ground - and he will stay 3-mile.

The 3-mile chase went to the well-related La Reve, and this 6yo could be an exciting handicapper this season. Stamina seems to be his speciality, and this race was his a long way out. He is another who will probably run better on ground that isn't as soft as this.  My money was on the Venetia Williams trained Saroque and, on seeing him striding around the paddock beforehand, I thought the winnings were already in the bag.  Unfortunately, the ground did for him, but he stuck on to take 2nd place - albeit well beaten by the winner.

The rain was coming down heavily by the time of the final race and altho' Stonegate won easily, I don't like relying on form shown in extreme weather.

There's a cracking 3-day meeting at Cheltenham starting on Friday with the feature race being the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday. Little Josh at 8yo in 2010 is the only winner of the race older than 7yo in the past 10 years, so keep with the 6yo's and 7yo's when considering the race. If Kapga De Cerisy from Venetia Williams stable takes part (currently 25/1) I'll be interested in him.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Saturday at Sandown

Saturday 8th November is my birthday (55 years old), and I'll be spending the day at Sandown races where there is a decent meeting planned.

As the weather could change and seriously affect the ground, especially at Sandown, I've not recommended any selections, but you can tell which horses I'll be on from the narrative below. It'll be just my luck to have named a couple of 12/1 winners!

Looking at the runners there's a stack of alert list horses entered:
12:45 No No Mac
1:20 Irish Saint
2:30 Roudoudou Ville, Dolatulo, Bally Legend, Filbert, Loose Chips.
3:05 Valid Reason
3:40 Loch BA, Saroque

In the handicap hurdle that opens the meeting, the well-bred NO NO MAC is given an opportunity to open his campaign with a win. This looks a weak contest with the only question (in my mind) whether the Nicholls 4yo Rothman can fulfil his potential. Odds of 6/1 (I'm writing this at 8pm on Friday) look generous about NO NO MAC.

I've been looking forward to seeing IRISH SAINT jump a fence after his exciting campaign over hurdles last season. Unfortunately, this 3-runner race is not a betting opportunity.

At 2:30 we have the 2m4f & 110 yards Class 2 handicap chase. This looks very competitive and it's interesting that none of those from my alert list are amongst the market leaders. The lightly raced and well-bred Barrakilla could be a 150+ horse if he's as good as his half-bro China Rock, so it's no wonder he's the fav running off a rating of OR134. We've already seen Foundation Man run to a high level when winning the "Bobby Renton" last month, and I think he looks interesting in this race off OR135.  I don't think Sound Investment will appreciate this trip and he needs to improve on his best efforts to win this. Roudoudou Ville has only run 6 times since winning this race in 2011; if the ground isn't too soft he could go close. This trip is too long for Filbert, and I think the pace of this race will be too quick for Dolatulo. No concerns on trip or ground for Bally Legend - and he has had a pipe-opener over hurdles and I'm expecting a big run from him as he goes well right-handed. Much the same can be said of Loose Chips and if the rain comes and turns the ground heavy he is the one I'll probably be on. This is a tricky race and at the odds I'll probably have wagers on several in the race: for instance £10 win on Foundation Man @ 8/1, £10 win on Roudoudou Ville @ 8/1 and £5 eachway on both Loose Chips @ 10/1 and Bally Legend @ 16/1.

As soon as I saw the field for the 3-mile chase at 3:40 there was only one horse I wanted to be on: Loch BA. He started last season rated OR133 and was competitive off that so on OR124 he looks chucked-in. If you also consider that he goes very well right-handed and loves the soft ground and he could bolt in. The danger will likely be the novice chaser Lookslikerainted, but Caulfields Venture won like a decent horse LTO and seems to improve with every run. My other alert horse runner is Saroque and this could be the surprise contender. If he runs to the level he ran when 2nd at Exeter over 3-mile on soft ground then he'll be in the picture. This looks like another multi-selection race with say £10 win on both Loch BA @ 4/1 and Saroque @ 8/1.

Wincanton - Alert Horse runners
1:30 Horizontal Speed,
2:40 Ifyousayso, Dare To Endeavour, Just A Par

The Badger Ales Chase at 2:40 has been won by some talented chasers and Paul Nicholls is not afraid of sending a good one for this that is carrying a big weight. Unfortunately, I don't think my alert horse from Nicholls stable Just A Par is up to winning this with top-weight. I'm much more interested in the other pair who are both trained by Tom George - Ifyousayso and Dare To Endeavour. Stable jockey Paddy Brenna is on Dare To Endeavour and if he wins (or runs well) that will be a good pointer for Saroque at Sandown (see above). However, I prefer the other George runner Ifyousayso as he looks very leniently handicapped on OR130. He looks a great eachway wager at 20/1 as his run at Newbury when 2nd to the Henderson winner Thanks For Coming over 3-mile looks very good form.

Kelso - Alert Horse runners
2:50 Firth Of The Clyde

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter

I posted no selections on the blog yesterday but personally I broke my winner-finding drought with a couple of short-priced wagers on the AW at Wolverhampton and over the jumps at Kempton.

Confidence is everything when it comes to have a wager.
Without confidence you never stake enough when the winners come and, if you are over-confident, you throw good money at dodgy chances.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to find a couple of good winning opportunities in Invincible Ridge at Wolverhampton and Fox Appeal at Kempton. Invincible Ridge meerly had to run up to his Official Rating of OR75 to win the "seller" at 2:50 over 5-furlongs when having his first run for trainer Eric Alston. It was his first win since he was a 2yo in 2010 and, as a 3yo he was competitve off a rating of OR95. He's not anywhere near that now, but this summer he was running well enough to suggest he was up to winning off OR75.
As for Fox Appeal, he really gave me a scare when wandering after taking up the lead; even so, I'll take a dead-heat. Hopefully, Theatre Guide wont be hit hard by the handicapper as he really had no chance of winning this until Fox Appeal lost-the-plot after jumping the 2nd-last fence 3-lengths clear. I think, when he's at his peak, Fox Appeal is 155-159 and it may be that he's a horse who runs best when chasing another in defeat, as he doesn't like being in front.

A great day of racing ahead at Exeter, featuring the Haldon Gold Cup over 2m1f and 110 yards. This race has provided some surprising results in the past, not least last year when Cue Card was swept aside by Somersby. As I expect Colin Tizzard will have repeated last years preparation (which resulted in a win in the Betfair Chase for Cue Card on his subsequent outing) I reckon the horse will not be at his peak today. He'll need to be as there are a couple of 6yo's more than capable of producing an upset at the weights even if Cue Card was at peak fitness: Hinterland and BALDER SUCCES. 

I like Hinterland, and he's on my alert list. When this pair met last December in the Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown, Hinterland won in the fashion of a very good chaser. Unfortunately, his next couple of runs proved nothing, and his last run at Aintree was a complete mystery. Nicholls says the horse is at his best when "very" fresh so if he is today then he'll take a great deal of beating with just 10st 4lb to carry. As such, BALDER SUCCES is giving Hinterland 10lb but he never stopped improving last season and won (in most convincing fashion) the race involving Hinterland at Aintree. I am fairly confident that BALDER SUCCES will prove the best 2-mile chaser in training this season and I'm already on him for the QM Champion Chase. So, if he's good enough to win that then he should be good enough to win today, so I'm taking the odds of 3/1 which is available with Hills, Ladbrokes, Corals and BetVictor.

Selection:
Exeter 2:15 BALDER SUCCES, £10 win @ 3/1 (available generally)


Monday, 3 November 2014

A look-back at the weekend of 1st-2nd November

After flirting with success on Friday afternoon, I was opeful of a good win on Saturday and put my full weight behind assessing a couple of races. Unfortunately, no winners could be found.
I must admit that I was astounded at the way Silviniaco Conti folded over the final few furlongs of the 3m1f Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
As I wrote in Saturday's blog, the horse is one-paced and needs to either stretch the oppositions stamina by going for home a long way out - as he did when he won this race back in 2012 - or grind them into the ground as he did when hauling back Cue Card in the King George last December. EVen so, I would have expected him to stay on a lot better, and this performance is a worry especially as the overall pace of the race was slow.
I think this form is dodgy. Without doubt, the race winner Menorah is a decent horse on his day and more than capable of running in the mid-160's.. It is no surprise that RPR has rated this win at 169, but I just can't have that. Why? Because if that rating is correct then both Tarquin De Seuil and Double Ross ran personal bests - and I can't have that. Double Ross is a super consistent performer who - in my book - ran his best race last season at 152 when 5th at Aintree in April. I don't think he bettered that effort on Satruday and, at best, he probably matched it. Which puts Menorah on 160 and Tarquin De Seuil on 151, which is the rating I gave him for winning at the Cheltenham Festival last March. My selection for the race Medermit, ran bravely and threatened with taking 2nd place on the run-in, but was never going to get there. He improved 10lb for his run in the Ryanair in March, and if he does that again for this effort then he may just be worth a final throw at a decent handicap chase before the "veterans" races come calling.

My efforts to find the winner of the handicap chase at Ascot ran-aground. Although a talented horse with potential, I was right to oppose Le Bec who was having his first attempt to race right-handed and struggled. My main selection was Roalco De Farges and what a stinker of a performance he gave. He was hating it from the off and hardly jumped a fence. He's won on similar ground so it was either the course he hated or he was just having an off day. I am more positive of Midnight Appeal who also didn't run well for most of the race, but stayed on to be a reasonable 5th when I thought he may be pulled-up at one point. I would expect him to run a lot better next time and he is a consistent battler of a horse. Readers of the blog will know I put up Black Thunder a few weeks ago on his seasonal debut. He needed that run as a confidence booster following his fall at the Festival in the RSA Chase and, as I rated him at 159 for beating Shotgun Paddy at Lingfield in December, so long as the handicapper isn't too hard on him he'll be hard to beat next time out, especially on softer ground. Race winner What A Warrior is finally showing the potential of his novice form and this was a career-best effort. Whether he can improve again is debateable, but not impossible.

In Ireland we had an impressive performance from Don Cossack in winning the Grade 2 Powers Irish Whiskey Chase over 2m4f easily beating Paul Nicholls Wonderful Charm by over 8-lengths. With Wonderful Charm holding an official rating of OR159, this puts Don Cossack into the mid-160's and that puts him into the realms of a Gold Cup chaser.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Top jump racing with the Charlie Hall Chase

Finally, we have a successful wager on the board!
Viva Colonia advised as a £5 eachway selection at 16/1, stayed-on to be 3rd providing the blog with a small profit of £11.00. I was right to oppose the market leaders as the conditions suited neither of them, and the 3rd-fav Cedre Bleu ran like a horse who'd rather be somewhere else. While my selection didn't win the race, I did say that the eventual 20/1 winner SHADOWS LENGTHEN could not be ignored. It was a toss-up as to which of the pair I made my selection, and I came down on the side of Viva Colonia as his trainer has a good record at Wetherby.

Ascot racecourse in "winter" is where - in my opinion - Ascot is at its best. This meeting brings together a fair number of decent races and it is a little unfortunate that the "good" ground seems to have scared a few away and the fields are a little smaller than expected.

There is a good field of 15 for the 3-mile United House Gold Cup (handicap) Chase which is a Class 1 (Grade 3) race at 3:35.  There are a few old friends in this race, Katenko, Vino Griego, Cantlow, Midnight Appeal, What A Warrior and Black Thunder: so I'm well aware of the abilities of most of the field. That may be a good thing or a bad thing.
The good ground will not help Katenko, and this horse needs re-rating down. The same for Vino Griego, who looks harshly treated on OR153. I was on Black Thunder when he last ran, and I'm sure his OR149 rating is lenient - but his confidence looked shattered LTO. I'm not convinced that Cantlow is a 3-mile chaser. Le Bec is an interesting horse, as he looks potentially 155+ and it would not surprise me to see him in the Gold Cup next March as a leading contender. The ground will not phase him, but it'll be the first time he's jumped a fence going RH. Restless Harry is a recent C&D winner, but he exploited a lenient mark to win that and the 10yo is going to need to run a career-best off OR148 to win this. A rating of OR139 for Pass The Hat looks tough given this will be the 17th chase race for this 7yo. Roalco De Farges was not hit hard for his convincing LTO win, and is up 8lb to OR142. He should appreciate the ground and we know he's race fit.  I don't know what to make of Gevrey Chambertin and while this full-brother of Grand Crus is well thought of he's not shown the ability of his illustrious brother yet. The 7yo Merry King looks an out-and-out stayer and another whose best performances are on soft/heavy ground. He could find things happening a bit quick. Grandads Horse is unpredictable but, when he's on a racing day, he can win off OR137 and he stays 3-mile. I expect trainer Longsdon is hoping a couple of recent spins over hurdles have rekindled his enthusiasm for chasing. My old friend Midnight Appeal has slipped to a winnable mark of OR137 (was OR143 last season). Going RH will suit him as will the ground (4 wins on "good") and the trip of 3-mile wont stretch his stamina - as such he's on my shortlist. What A Warrior has been raised 13lb for his LTO win which I think is an over-reaction by the handicapper. While he'll love the ground he will need to improve again to win this. Ardkilly Witness is held by Midnight Appeal (see 22Feb14) and Lamboro Lad is still held in handicappers grip after his win in April.
For me, the race is between Le Bec; Roalco De Farges and Midnight Appeal.
I'm not happy that Midnight Appeal is ridden by a claimer, and going right-handed is a question-mark over Le Bec; so the selection is ROALCO DE FARGES at the generous odds of 8/1.

At Wetherby, the feature race of the day is the Charlie Hall Chase which is a Grade 2 race over 3m1f. On official ratings there is only one horse in the race: Silviniaco Conti who is rated OR174. However, I don't think he's that good as he is essentially one-paced (as shown in the Gold Cup), and I have him at 171. Both Menorah and The Giant Bolster have no chance at the weights if you look at the result of the Denman Chase in Feb 2013 when they all met under similar conditions. Double Ross, Tarquin Du Seuil and Wayward Prince have absolutely no chance at the weights. And that leaves MEDERMIT. Without a doubt, this horse is a consistent performer at the highest level. His peak effort in my opinion was when 3rd beaten just a length in the Ryanair Chase at the 2012 Festival by Riverside Theatre. However, he followed that run up with a great effort over an extended 3-mile (his first attempt at the trip) at Aintree when he certainly stayed the trip well. He was injured then, and was off the track almost 2 years until re-appearing in February at Ascot. It was a lacklustre effort, as was his next run back at Cheltenham for another try at the Ryanair Chase - but the excuse was he was still regaining full fitness. When he went to Punchestown in April we saw a much better horse. This was only his 2nd race over a trip of 3-mile, and again he stayed it well.
This race is a race for 2nd place as Silviniaco Conti should win, and win well. Menorah usually needs his seasonal debut, and The Giant Bolster is well exposed and is also likely to improve for the race. For me, MEDERMIT - who goes well fresh and is unexposed at this sort of trip, but will stay it - represents huge value at 10/1 in this 7-runner race.

Selections:
Wetherby 3:15 MEDERMIT, £5 eachway @ 10/1 (available generally)
Ascot 3:35 ROALCO DE FARGES, £5 eachway @ 8/1 (available generally)