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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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This blog is based on finding winners - if you want to lose your money then read another blog.
advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Top-weights to dominate the handicaps

Saturday brings us 3 jump meetings and my early perusal of the runners over Friday lunchtime suggested there may be a couple of wagers in the offing.  The meetings are at Kempton, Newcastle and Chepstow, with the day’s feature race being the 3-mile Betbright Chase at Kempton.

Before that though, it was a disastrous display from the selection What A Good Night yesterday.  The writing was on the wall before the race when he drifted in the betting from 7/1 to an SP of 16/1 – he was friendless in the ring! It was no surprise to see him soon struggling and being pulled-up; perhaps he should not have even started the race! This is one of the risks of writing a blog, as decisions have to be made hours before the race is run and without the benefit of paddock inspections.

Onto today, and it is Kempton’s meeting where we start looking at the racing, and the meeting opens with the 2-mile “Adonis” Juvenile hurdle which brings together some of the best 4yo hurdlers before they meet again in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. I’m  not a great reader of juvenile hurdle form, but I do know that in recent years the best juveniles are found (usually) at the stables of Nicholls, King and Henderson. Given the class of this race, it is interesting that Henderson sends Khezerabad for his UK hurdling debut in this race; he must have shown a fair amount of ability at home.

The feature race of the meeting is at 3:35pm, and this Grade 3, Class 1 handicap chase looks a cracker on paper. I think Champagne West will have his stamina limitations exposed here, despite being potentially well-handicapped (he should run well in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next month). While LTO winner Ziga Boy could be wanting a bit more of a stamina test than this, and the 8lb hike for that win to OR141 could prove too much. The novice Thomas Brown looks to have been thrown into the deep end in this race (it will be only his 4th chase race), and Theatre Guide has always struck me as a horse who wants a marathon trip, not just a bare 3-mile.  I expect the ground to be too lively for Le Reve, and Tenor Nivernais was my selection in this race last year when running off OR135 (ran 6th, didn’t stay) so I can’t see him doing better running off OR152.  Fox Appeal goes well right-handed, and he dead-heated with Theatre Guide here over 2m5f at level-weights.  That form suggests he has a mountain to climb to beat Theatre Guide over this trip, as he’s giving that horse 11lb today.  Which brings me to VIRAK, currently at best-odds of 14/1, who has not run a poor race all season, improving with every run – yet hasn’t managed to win.  Paul Nicholls has his horses in rare form, and VIRAL showed in December at Ascot on good-to-soft that he goes well right-handed and has the speed to handle this quicker ground. Of Nicholls other entries, Rocky Creek won this last year but hasn’t looks the same horse this season; and Ruben Cotter has been off the track 323-days and winning this is a big ask. Roc D’Apsis on here at Kempton LTO, but that was over 2m5f and he has to prove he stays the 3-mile trip in what looks a strong handicap for stamina.  For me, VIRAK at 16/1 looks good eachway value, and a repeat of his December form at Ascot should see him win this.  I thought had VIRAK won LTO then he’d be a live Gold Cup candidate and I think he will be in the Gold Cup next season.

Last year, followers of the blog were on the winner of the Eider Chase at Newcastle; Milborough at 20/1.  This is a race that can be easy to read as, being run over an extended 4-miles, the winner has to have an abundance of stamina. There are plenty in the race who are stamina laden, so I’m expecting this race to have plenty of finishers even though the ground is soft. I think the early fav Ballyculla will need luck on his side to win as he’s one-paced at the business end. Russe Blanc won the Warwick Classic over 3m5f LTO, but that race fell-apart and he would need the same to happen again, especially off a 10lb higher mark of OR139. Shotgun Paddy was the 11/2 fav for this last year off a 3lb higher mark, and meets most who ran in that race on better terms this time. His 3rd in the Welsh National last month shows he’s on a workable rating. Woodford County was 3rd in this race last year, but he was well beaten by Shotgun Paddy LTO in the Welsh National without any obvious excuse, and he will be worse off today by 3lbs. Even so, he will not be far away. Last year’s winner Milborough cannot be ignored, even though he’s a lot worse off this year, as he won the race so well.  For me, the race is between Shotgun Paddy and Woodford County.

There is one other horse I am looking at today, FINAL ASSAULT who is 7/1 for the 4:35pm at Newcastle.  He has plenty of talent, and I expect him to run well today.

Selections
Newcastle 2:50pm – SHOTGUN PADDY, £4 eachway @ 10/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3,4)
Kempton 3:55pm – VIRAK, £4 eachway @ 16/1
Plus: £2 eachway double

Total staked £20

Friday, 26 February 2016

Tonights gonna be a good night

We have an interesting day of racing today with meetings at Exeter and Warwick.
At Exeter we have the “Devon National” run over nearly 3m7f at 3:55pm and, being run on soft ground, it will take some staying.  From my alert list, there is Saroque who has been in good form all season, especially when winning here on his seasonal debut over 3-mile on soft ground.  He showed that win was no fluke with a strong effort to be 5th in what was a high-class and competitive “Rehearsal” Chase at Newcastle in November, however, I feel this trip may be too long for him today.
One in the race who looks interesting is the 8yo ALBEROBELLO who had a “pipe-opener” earlier this month after a long break and may have been aimed at this race. He handles heavy ground, so the soft ground won’t slow him down, and he’s run well at Exeter before. He looks likely to go well off OR125.  Another 8yo that I like the look of is Nail’M who was 2nd here over C&D in early December (race won by Woodford County).  He probably came out too quick when pulling-up as the fav in the North Yorkshire marathon run at Catterick LTO, but he’s been given a good rest for this race and he will not lack stamina for the trip.
Both of these horses are best-priced at 7/1 and I cannot split them.
 
At Warwick there is a decent 3-mile, Class 3 handicap chase at 4:15pm and one from my alert list runs in this: WHAT A GOOD NIGHT. He won over 3-mile at Bangor in November, and then he was my selection in the Warwick “Classic” over 3m5f in January and I thought he was going well until he was badly hampered by a faller just as the race was becoming interesting, and he lost a lot of ground.  His jockey chose to pull-up which probably saved him from an exhausting slog over the final mile, and he’s been dropped 2lb by the handicapper for today’s race which is a bonus.  I think As De Fer is a false favourite as he benefitted from the fall of likely winner Stilletto LTO. As such, I think this race looks fairly weak for the grade, nothing like as competitive as the field he faced LTO, and WHAT A GOOD NIGHT looks good value at 7/1.
 
I want to try and get a winner on the board, but I also want to try and preserve the funds with Cheltenham around the corner. So it’s an eachway wager.

Selection
Warwick 4:15pm - WHAT A GOOD NIGHT, £5 eachway AND £5 win @ 7/1  (available generally, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)
Total staked = £15

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Antepost potential at the Cheltenham Festival

Not the best of days on Saturday, with all 3 selections being well beaten.  It was very disappointing, especially as the novice chaser Onenightinvienna and then the “grade-1” chaser Dynaste both threw-in the towel early on. However, I was particularly disappointed with the 3-mile hurdler At Fishers Cross who looked a shadow of the horse that has finished in the frame in the last-two World Hurdles at a similar 3-mile trip.

While it looks like I gave too much credence to the early chasing performances of novice chaser Onenightinvienna, and he isn’t the horse I thought he was; the 10yo Dynaste now looks to have little future to look forward too.  He was a top-class performer on his day, and perhaps connections spent too much time chasing a win in a Grade 1, 3-mile chase when he has shown that 2m5f is the trip which he relishes. Unfortunately, the last time he ran over that shorter trip (before Saturday) was when he won the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. Given he was also 2nd the previous year over 2m4f in the “Jewson” as a novice chaser, and won both his other races (as a novice) over a similar trip, yet has won only 2 of his 10 starts (as a chaser) at about 3-miles – both in his novice season – it seems now that connections missed a golden opportunity with this talented horse.  He’s now past his best at 10yo, and may be left with just a swansong performance at Aintree before an honourable retirement.

In case you are wondering, I will not producing a Cheltenham Festival bulletin this year.  I’m going to be investigating the trends with more depth and concentrating on the handicaps more.  The only horse in the Championship races that I’m looking forward to wagering on is BRISTOL DE MAI and I think connections have missed a trick in not aiming this horse at the “Arkle”.  He’s best-priced at 4/1 with Paddy Power for the JLT Novices Chase over 2m4f, with only Bet365 offering 7/2 and every other bookie going 3/1 or shorter (shame on you Ladbrokes with 11/4).  Personally, I think he’d be clear 2nd-fav for the Arkle; and if he was 4/1 for that race then for the JLT Novices Chase he should be 5/2 or shorter – so maybe the layers at Ladbrokes are doing the right thing!

The other couple of Championship races that are on my radar are the Ryanair, and the Gold Cup itself – and they are both dependent on which race VAUTOUR goes for, because I think whichever he runs in, he wins.  I wish I’d taken the early 10/1 about the Gold Cup after he was just nutted on the line in the King George by Cue Card on 26th December, but that’s long gone now and he’s best priced at 5/1.   If he does go for the Gold Cup, then the Ryanair Chase is wide open as I cannot for the life of me see Al Ferof winning the race now – he’s had plenty of opportunity and always come-up short at the very top level. In my opinion, the only reason he’s 6/1 2nd-fav for the race is that he’s possibly the only one of the 1st half-dozen in the betting who is guaranteed (barring injury) to run in the race.


Jump racing this week has been ordinary fare, and that theme continues today with few (if any) wagering opportunities about.  Putting money on veterans chases isn’t my idea of fun and, in such circumstance, I’m prepared to be patient and wait for the opportunities to come along – and they will this weekend. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Reputations to be made and lost today

A big day of racing ahead.  But, first, a look at yesterdays selection Bertie Boru, who never managed to get in the race and showed none of the promise that I expected.  And he was backed-in to an SP of 9/2, as I anticipated in the morning, from early odds of 7/1. It was a disappointing effort.

We have 3 good jump race meetings at Ascot, Haydock and Wincanton, and a stack of horse alerts from my alert list. Unfortunately, most of the races have small fields, and finding value is tricky - it is thin on the ground. I'm debating whether to have a wager at all, or maybe have just one wager, or even make 3 selections and combine in doubles and trebles.

Let's start with Ascot, where the novices chase at 1:50pm over 3-mile looks an exciting renewal of the Reynoldstown Chase. There are 3 from my alert list in this, and the one who looks best placed is Onenightinvienna who is proven at the trip, on the ground and has the form in the book - at 11/4 he looks fair value.

The 2:25pm sees exciting novice Waldorf Salad return to the track after his gallant race at Cheltenham last month. Unfortunately, he's up against the top handicap chaser Sausalito Sunrise and even in receipt of 18lb he could find life tough as I rate Sausalito Sunrise better than OR150.  At 3:35pm we have the main event, the Ascot Chase over 2m5f which is a stepping stone to the Ryanair Chase at the Festival. No matter how I look at the form book, this race is between Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti and both need to win this race to recapture their reputation. At the odds, I am with Dynaste who I think does not really stay 3-mile as a chaser (at his best) but has always run well at this sort of trip. Odds of 4/1 look generous to me given nothing else (other than Conti) is within 7lb of him in the race.

Haydock offers top-class racing including at 2:05pm the 2m7f Rendelsham Hurdle. The fav is the 11yo Reve De Sivola who ran here 4-weeks ago in the Peter Marsh Chase. Personally, I think he will struggle today to hold AT FISHERS CROSS who looked a 160+ hurdler in the World Hurdle last March, and who's comeback run when 2nd in Ireland over 3-mile suggests he is the best at this trip in the race. The one I fear most is the Paul Nicholls trained Silsol who reverts to hurdling having not hit the heights as a novice chaser, but his stamina isn't proven.  Odds of 4/1 look generous about AT FISHERS CROSS.

The Grand National Trial at 2:40pm looks a cracker of a race.  To be run on heavy ground it will take some staying and no surprise to see dual Welsh National winner Mountainous as the 5/1 fav. However, he may have trouble meeting that winning form again so soon after that win LTO, and BROADWAY BUFFALO comes here fresh and running off a good mark of OR140.  He's already won at Haydock on heavy ground and looks to have plenty of potential still. Also best-priced at 5/1, he will stake some beating.

Finally we also have the Wincanton meeting, and here I find it interesting that Charlie Longsdon is preserving the chase rating of Cadoudoff by running him over hurdles in the 2:50pm race there. Later at 3:55pm there is a very competitive 2-mile handicap chase with 6-runners and you cannot really discount any.  I have Gardefort on my alert list and - on his day - he looks better than OR141. However, he does not always show his best form. Ulck Du Lin showed what he is capable of too LTO at Sandown, but he is another who does not always show his best, and he's up 4lb for that run too. However, I think putting 5lb claimer Charlie Deutsch in the saddle could swing it for GARDEFORT, and odds of 9/4 look fair.

So, where is my money going?
I like the novice chaser ONENIGHTINVIENNA and as he has a lot of ticks in the boxes and I like to keep things simple - stick to fact, not potential - the 11/4 looks good to me.
DYNASTE is now 9/2 and that looks too long to me, as I'd have him joint-fav at 3/1, as I think he will enjoy the good lead he will get from Silviniaco Conti, who he has only ever met at 3-mile.
Lastly, AT FISHERS CROSS is the class horse in his race and I cannot understand why 9/2 is available (Paddy Power & William Hill), he has to be a wager.

Selections
Ascot 1:55pm ONENIGHTINVIENNA, £7 win @ 11/4 (available generally)
Ascot 3:35pm DYNASTE, £7 win @ 9/2 (available generally)
Haydock 2:05pm AT FISHERS CROSS, £7 win @ 9/2 (Paddy Power and William Hill)
Plus: 3 x £2 win doubles
Plus: £3 win treble
Total staked = £30

Friday, 19 February 2016

STILLETTO romps home

Followers of the blog selections will understand just how frustrated I felt when STILLETTO fell on his previous run - when leading and having the race at his mercy - after he romped home to a good win off the same mark yesterday.  For that previous race we were on at 6/1, and afterwards I wrote that I thought he'd have won that race by 10-lengths, and that's exactly what he did yesterday when he looked an even better horse.

How STILLETTO started at odds of 7/4 is beyond me as I thought he was a slight odds-on chance (there is always the possibility of being brought-down or suffering other interference etc). I hope followers of the blog recouped their losses from the previous race even though I didn;t name him as a selection due to my "no wagers less than 9/4" rule.

Onto today, and the racing at Sandown isn't great as it is "Military" day with the feature race being the Royal Artillery Gold Cup for amateur riders. Unusually, Paul Nicholls does not have a runner in the race.   As such, I'm looking at the 4:20pm race which is also a 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase with 9-runners declared.  Sandown is a tricky place for young chasers learning their trade, and the fav for this race Beg To Differ has not convinced with his jumping so far, and he can be opposed.   I think my alert list runner Loose Chips has had plenty of opportunities to win this season, and he's crept up the weights a little.  He does not look as good as he was last season, but wont be far away. The novice Dancing Shadow looks more interesting as he looks like this trip will suit him as he was a strong finishing 2nd LTO here at Sandown over 2m4f in what looks like an interesting race.  One who has slipped to an interesting rating is BERTIE BORU who runs off OR130 today having been rated OR136 after running 2nd here over C&D in January last year.  He's not had much luck since then, without looking like he's lost any ability, and today's ground and trip will be perfect for him.  Fond Memory would like better ground, and Sands Cove looks held on his current mark of OR127.

All-in-all, BERTIE BORU looks fair value at 7/1 (available generally) for this race, and he's my eachway wager today as I think he should probably be more like 9/2 given the opposition.

Selection
Sandown 4:20pm BERTIE BORU, £5 eachway and £5 win @ 7/1 (available generally, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Possible value in a 4-runner race

The good news is that the meeting at Leicester today goes ahead, having passed an 8am inspection.  The bad news is that my intended selection STILLETTO is best priced at 13/8 which is below my “value” cut-off of 9/4 – so I will not be advising STILLETTO as a wager for the blog.  That does not mean that I am putting you off having a wager, as I think STILLETTO is just about nailed-on, so long as he’s not feeling any lack of confidence following his fall LTO.
 
The reason for my 9/4 odds cut-off is that I want to distance myself away from those “tipsters” who post selections with SP’s of 4/5 or 5/4 in 5-horse races without understanding the “risks” involved. With any wager, there has to be a margin of safety to make the process worthwhile.
 
There are a couple of other horses from my alert list running today (as well as STILLETTO) and they are CORRIN WOOD in the 3:05pm at Kelso, and PILGRIMS BAY in the 3:40pm at Kelso.  There is also a meeting at Fontwell today, making 3 jump race meetings.  Unfortunately, most of today’s races are at Class 4 level or lower and (along with my “no odds below 9/4” rule) I’ve decided not to wager on races below Class 3 this season.
 
So, what of my other pair of alert-list runners? CORRIN WOOD is entered in a 3m2f chase at Kelso.  You have to remember he looked an above-average novice chaser (I thought he was 155+), and was the fav for the Peter Marsh Chase run at Haydock in January 2015 off a mark of OR146 – yet he’s now rated OR141.  He won 3 times as a novice chaser, beating only a maximum of 3 rivals in each of those races. As such, being up against just 3 rivals today could be just the sort of conditions he may enjoy.  My only doubt is the trip, as I feel he never really stayed 3-mile well enough hence his form tailed-off when outside novice company.  Of his rivals, Neptune Equester is a plodder who will stay all day but won’t have the speed to beat any here – his only chance of winning is if the other 3 do not finish.  Soll won LTO, but now the 11yo runs off a career-high rating of OR152.  However, it is one thing to beat “veterans” and quite another when up against younger horses. Unioniste last won off OR148 at Sandown over 3-miles in January 2015 yet, since then, his form has been in the doldrums.  He was re-rated to OR159 after that win, and has slipped to OR149 today; the 8yo producing perhaps his best run since that win LTO at Sandown on the 6th February when 3rd over 3-miles. He is a slow horse though, and his jumping can be poor.  This race isn’t a handicap and so (on official ratings) Soll is best-off, but I think he may struggle against these younger horses. CORRIN WOOD should be getting 8lb off Unioniste, but only receives 4lb – however, I think that could be enough to swing things his way should his stamina hold, and odds of 7/1 (Stan James and Skybet) in this 4-runnner race look wrong, especially as his trainer Don McCain has been winning a few races recently.
 
The race involving PILGRIMS WAY looks tricky. Generally, I enjoy these stayers’ hurdle races, but this one looks very competitive.  So I’m giving this race a miss.
 
Later this evening, I’m driving down to Cornwall to spend the weekend with my young son who lives in Truro with his mum.  The last time I went down to Cornwall for the weekend was quite memorable for followers of the blog as – during the course of the weekend – I tipped Wakanda @ 8/1, Pendra @ 8/1 and Vintage Star @ 10/1.  Here’s hoping this weekend will be just as productive.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Taking short-odds antepost is lunacy

What a good win we had on Monday with the selection STRAIDNAHANNA staying-on strong to win at the rewarding SP of 9/2, but readers of the blog were on at 10/1 in the morning.  Unfortunately, the early-fav for the race, Another Hero, was withdrawn during the day resulting in a Rule-4 deduction of 25p in the £1 on winnings, effectively reducing our 10/1 odds to 15/2 – but still (I’m sure you will agree) a lot better than the 9/2 SP.
Currently, blog selections are showing a profit of £430.69 this season, on total stakes of £747.00; that is a Return on Investment (ROI) of 57.66% (I will update the header to reflect the current stats later).  STRAIDNAHANNA was the 70th selection of the season to-date, of which there have been 13 winners and another 14 have been placed.  That means a total of 27 of the 70 selections have been “in the money”.
Not only that, but the wealth of information given in the blog narrative meant that, for the 3rdtime in a week, readers could have placed an exacta wager on the 1st-2 finishers in the reviewed race which paid the equivalent of about 20/1, or 10/1 for a “reverse-exacta”.
Selections like this are when the alert list pays dividends, as I’ve had STRAIDNAHANNA on my alert list since he ran a good 2nd on his seasonal debut.  He should almost have certainly have won at Haydock on his next appearance (we were on) but he fell at the 3rd-last fence when leading and looking to have the race at his mercy.  When he went to Doncaster next, he ran well again but could not cope with the strong pace set by the improving Sego Success.  This formline looks like coming to fruition this weekend should Sego Success run at Haydock in the Grand National Trial there on Saturday.
I’m hoping for a wager tomorrow, but it will all depend on the odds available when they are published. Be on the alert for an early email. The whole point about value wagers is that you consider the risks involved, and build them into your odds assessment.  For instance, I knew STRAIDNAHANNA was apt to make errors when jumping (he nearly lost the race at the final fence) and so the odds at which the wager was struck had to allow for the “place” element to recover the “win” wager should the horse have only been placed, due to jumping errors. Hence, the lowest odds I would have accepted were 5/1, as most bookies were paying 5th odds for a place.
And, the same rules apply to antepost wagers.  
So far, I’ve not recommended an antepost wager on the Cheltenham Festival, mainly as the plans for which races the horses will actually run in are rather fluid.  However, this afternoon we have learned that the “Fav” for the Champion Hurdle: FAUGHEEN, is an non-runner due to a ligament strain.  This brings a couple of factors back to the fore: (1) horses are flesh and bone like any other animal, and can suffer injury; (2) getting a horse race-fit to run perhaps the race of their lives at the most competitive meeting of the season is a gamble in itself.  I remember when I was young that a well-known pundit (it may have been Alex Bird) reckoned that it was 5/1 a horse actually lining-up in a specific race – like the Grand National - so taking odds less than that antepost is lunacy.

Monday, 15 February 2016

The early bird catches the worm

The meeting at Catterick today has just been confirmed as on - there was an 8am inspection.  As such, there is a wagering opportunity, unusual for a Monday.
It is in the 4:10pm race, a 3m1f handicap Class 3 chase at Catterick, with 10-runners.  This looks a cracker of a race for the course, and a competitive handicap.

There are 4 in the field who are on my alert list: Another Hero, Jac The Legend, Straidnahanna, and Shimla Dawn. Of those 4, Shimla Dawn seems to be struggling to find his best trip despite winning his debut chase over 2m4f, and he didn't stay 2m7f when tried at the trip in November.  Jac The Legend, is better than his OR113 rating and ran over an inadequate trip LTO (2m4f) but he will have to go some to hold a few in this field. Another Hero looks a class horse in the making. He is 2 from 2 in chase races, and runs off OR136 today after being raised only 5lb for the latest win.  After that run, I thought he could be a potential 150+ horse, so he is a serious contender today.  It is STRAIDNAHANNA on whom I am having a wager today.

This horse looked well handicapped when running off OR131 at Haydock in November when falling with the race at his mercy.  He's run well since in two further races, but does make the odd jumping error. He has been dropped 3lb to OR128 which, in my book, gives him a helluva chance especially as he's a C&D winner, and Catterick suits a prominent-runner like him. Trainer Sue Smith has a great record at Catterick, and she has only two horses entered here today, with her other horse looking to hold no realistic chance.

Of the others, I think Looking Well still has a bit to prove and does not justify his 3/1 quote in the betting market. As for Warrantor, I think he'd prefer a slog in the mud, and with the ground good-to-soft in places it will likely be too quick for him.

What has swung me from Another Hero to Straidnahanna are the odds: currently Straidnahanna is 10/1 with Paddy Power and Bet Victor (I actually took 9/1 on the train into London as I thought that would go quickly).  I reckon he is more like a 9/2 chance today in this field.

Selection
Catterick 4:10 STRIADNAHANNA, £5 eachway @ 10/1 (BetVictor or PaddyPower, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Poor day of racing for a Saturday

At the time of writing (Friday afternoon) although Newbury looks safe, the meeting at Warwick is in the balance. The races planned for Warwick look uninviting for wagering purposes so, even if the meeting goes ahead, it is unlikely to provide us with an opportunity.

Unfortunately, despite our selection A GOOD SKIN being supported from 8/1 in to 9/2, and doing just about everything right in the race, he met a very good horse in SILVERGROVE.  When you see races like that you have to take the positives, and they were that my form reading was pretty much spot on.  With an improving horse like Silvergrove it can be difficult to make a judgement as to just how good they are.  SILVERGROVE goes right onto my alert list, and could be just the type to win the opening day’s 3-mile handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

The feature race of the meeting is the Grade 2 Denman Chase over 3-mile, and last year this race was when Coneygree demonstrated his immense ability.  Readers of the blog will no doubt remember my “time to bet like a man” headline to the blog the next day as I recommended taking the 12/1 offered non-runner, no-bet for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Unfortunately, there is no Gold Cup potential in this year’s race. In fact, this race does not even look to be a wagering opportunity as, if Rocky Creek turns up in the form of his win in the Betbright Chase at Kempton last February, it will be “game over”.  The way Paul Nicholls horses have been running this week suggests that he’s finally got to the bottom of whatever problem there was at his stables (perhaps the recent flood at the stable was the perfect excuse to “deep-clean” and rid the yard of any bugs), and it looks unlikely that Rocky Creek will meet defeat.


It is much the same in the Grade 2 “Game Spirit” 2-mile chase when current Champion Chaser, Dodging Bullets makes a belated return to the track.   It is to the hurdles that we must look to find a wager (if there is one to be found).  However, I am not the best of judges when it comes to handicap hurdles, and so I am going to give today a miss altogether as a wagering day. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Something for the weekend

We have a racing day!
There are 2 good meetings at Kempton (good-to-soft in places, generally soft) and Wetherby (heavy, soft in places) and I have already informed those on the email list (requires a donation of £10 a month) last night of today’s wager.

Before I go onto the wager recommended last night, there is an interesting 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase at Wetherby at 4:10pm. The 7yo Voyage A New York has slipped to OR110 (from OR127) after a string of poor efforts following his defeat on none-other than Wakanda in a novice chase over 3-mile last February. Clearly, he was flattered by that effort as Wakanda should have won that by a long way but his jockey didn’t push-on when left in the lead and allowed Voyage A New York to get upsides and beat him in a sprint finish. This race will take some getting on the heavy ground and there are a few in this whose stamina is debateable; the likes of Jack Steel, Epic Warrior and Glen Countess.  If the 8yo Goodtoknow was on a going day then he’d be worth considering off OR122 as he’s won over 3-mile on heavy ground at Bangor (Dec 2013)and he stays the trip well – it is just that he seems one-paced and may need the race to be presented to him.

To me, this race is all about the top-two in the handicap: Ballyoliver and King Of the Wolds; and we looked at this pair when they met last November in the race won by Vintage Star (those on the email list were on this 7/2 winner at 12/1). At his peak, Ballyoliver was rated OR134 (that was after his latest win off OR127 in Nov 2014), and he’s now only slipped back to OR127 despite running 7 times since that race without ever looking like winning.  The conditions today will suit him, but I think this 12yo will fill only one of the places today. King Of The Wolds is a horse that I have followed some years, since his novice chase days. He’s won here at Wetherby on heavy ground over hurdles, and his best recent performance was when winning at Ayr last March over 3-miles on soft ground.  He carried 11st 12lb that day, as he does today; so weight isn’t a burden to him. What he doesn’t do is stay more than 3-miles, so today’s trip and ground are perfect for him.  In the circumstances, the 3/1 offered by Paddy Power looks value (everyone else is at 11/4), as he looks more of a 2/1 chance to me in this race.

When I sent out my email (to those who have donated) last night, it was because in the Kempton 3:50pm – a 3-mile Class 3 handicap chase – the Tom George trained A GOOD SKIN was entered to run, and at the generous odds of 8/1.  We were on this horse when he ran 3rd in the “Badger” handicap chase at Wincanton last November.  That day he looked like winning at the 2nd-last but just ran out of steam. He looked extremely well-handicapped that day, yet the handicapper has dropped him 2lbs since!  He was unsuited by the heavy ground at Cheltenham LTO, and todays ground will suit him well, as will jumping right-handed at Kempton. There have been some non-runners since the email went out (Doing fine and Standing Ovation) so the best odds available are now only 6/1.  He won’t have it all his own way as another 7yo, Silvergrove, is the 11/4 fav and he will not be lacking stamina.  However, he’s been raised 6lb for his LTO win, and this looks a step up in class for him.  Also, Ned Stark, trained by Alan King and is one who looked very good when winning last year at Wetherby as a novice is the 2nd-fav; but he’s yet to live-up to that reputation and his odds do not represent value.  Personally, I’d have Silvergrove and A GOOD SKIN as joint-favs at 7/2 which suggests that the odds of 6/1 are still value.

As I advised my donators by email at 8/1 last night, those are the odds which I’m using to value the wager; but 6/1 is still available and I consider that is still value.

Selection
Kempton 3:50pm – A GOOD SKIN, £5 eachway AND £5 win @ 8/1

Total staked = £15

Thursday, 11 February 2016

A "penalty kick" for Nicholls

With good-to-soft ground at Doncaster, and soft ground (in the main) at Huntingdon, we have some of the best racing ground we’ve seen for a week. This has resulted in some decent fields for today’s racing and I have a handful of horses running from my alert list.

At Doncaster, in the opening race at 1:15pm there is St Johns Point who was last seen chasing home Waldorf Salad in December over 2m5f.  He was clearly outstayed that day by an improving novice chaser, who went on to run a cracker at Cheltenham on 30th Jan. While I think he’s a lot better than his OR120 rating, I feel this 3-mile trip will stretch him. There are no such stamina doubts about his rival at the head of the market for that race, Willoughby Hedge, but I’m just not sure how much potential that 9yo has when you look at the distance he was beaten LTO despite coming home in 2nd place. This race looks ripe for an upset and, with the 7yo Under The Phone being another with no guarantee to stay this 3-mile trip, I am surprised that the 11yo confirmed stayer FIRM ORDER is as long as 8/1 (various bookies).  He’s been lightly raced these past 12-months, but ran a cracker this time last year when 2nd to Firebird Flyer who he’d meet on 24lb better-terms today for that 6-length beating over 3-mile on soft ground at Ludlow. He’s slipped from OR130 then to race off just OR113 today.

At 4:05pm at Doncaster, we have an interesting novice chase over 2m3f, in which I pointed-out the chance of the Paul Nicholls trained NEXIUS.  When I wrote that yesterday, I failed to notice that (from my alert list) Nicky Henderson had entered BLUE FASHION who was a talented hurdler over this sort of trip in 2013-14, but who missed most of last season in a curtailed campaign. This isn’t a race to wager on, but certainly one to watch for Cheltenham Festival purposes.

At Huntingdon there is an interesting Class 2 handicap hurdle at 1:55pm over 2m4f.  There are a couple from my alert list in this race, San Benedeto and After Eight Sivola.  This race should be a “penalty kick” for the Paul Nicholls trained Baoulet Delaroque, but he also trains San Benedeto and he won’t be far away.  I entered San Benedeto onto my alert list as I thought he was the type to go chasing this season.  However, Nicholls has managed his progress well; he continues to improve as a hurdler and is now rated OR145 (from an opening mark of OR131 at the end of last season). He could be one to fill one of the places behind Baoulet Delaroque.

Looking back at yesterday, I was right about the Don McCain trained novice chaser SUBTLE GREY, who won at Carlisle; but he was be odds-on.


I’m tempted to have a small eachway wager on FIRM ORDER, but this is no recommendation.  The novice chasers St Johns Point and Willoughby Hedge could come on a bundle for their limited experience to date, and Firm Order has never been one to rely on if there is a fight on from the final fence (he’s let me down a few times in the past). 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Keep the powder dry

The weather continues to have a detrimental effect on jump racing, with the meeting at Ludlow lost today and Carlisle’s meeting being run on heavy ground.  With the planned meetings for later this week at Bangor and Uttoxeter looking doubtful, we have to be thankful for the racing that we do get. 

As such, some trainers are taking the plunge and racing their novice chasers when and where they can to get some valuable experience into them before the Cheltenham Festival which is less than 6-weeks away.  For instance, Don McCain sends his 7yo novice chaser SUBTLE GREY to Carlisle this afternoon to compete against just 2 rivals over 3-mile. This is a race he should win, but he will be odds-on and, on this sort of ground, nothing can be guaranteed.

On Thursday, Paul Nicholls sends his novice chaser NEXIUS to Doncaster for a Class 4 novice chase over 2m3f. There were some decent horses entered for this race (Activial, Katachenko, Volnay De Thaix etc) but they’ve pulled-out; as such this looks a winning opportunity for the Nicholls horse.

Opportunities for a wager are still thin on the ground.  We banked some profits on Saturday with resolute galloper SADDLERS ENCORE, and we have to patient for those similar opportunities that will come along in due course.  I am mindful that 3 of our last 4 wagers have fallen, and it is likely that the heavy ground has been a major contributor to those falls.  If you watch races run on heavy ground, you will notice that some horses absolutely hate the stuff and look very reticent to race. Throw-in wind and rain, and it is not unusual to see most of field want to pull-up with barely half-a-mile run!  It is nothing to do with exhaustion, they just would rather be in their stable munching on some hay.  This is (in my opinion) the main reason why we have races like the Eider Chase (run over 4-miles at Newcastle) and the West Wales National (run at Ffos Las, weather depending) being completed by less than a handful of the original starters. You cannot make a horse run if it doesn’t want to, no matter how much cajoling the jockey tries.

Looking ahead to Saturday, we have a cracking meeting at Newbury with the Denman Chase over 3-mile, and the old “Game Spirit” Chase over an extended 2-mile; as well as the feature Betfair (handicap) Hurdle over 2-mile with over £150,000 guaranteed prize money. This will be a super-competitive race, and it is (perhaps) a pointer that Phil Hobbs has left in the 10yo Cheltenian rated OR153 who will be allotted to carry 11st 12lb. This means his 5yo Sternrubin (rated OR142) will be carrying just 11st 1lb. There is a maximum field of 24 for this race and, with 31 entered, there will be some disappointed connections.

There is no point in throwing good money away on speculative wagers, so let us keep the powder dry and be patient. 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Time for an encore

We have jump race meetings at Sandown, Ffos Las and Wetherby today, with perhaps the best of the racing at Sandown as it is doubtful whether racing will take place at Ffos Las. But first, our selection yesterday Cloudy Joker, fell mid-race when in 2nd-place.  Difficult to know where he’d have finished had he not fallen, but it’s unlikely that he’d have beaten the eventual winner Raktiman.  By the way, Raktiman was beaten in his previous race by our selection on Thursday, Stilletto – who also fell. My form reading is in the right place, it’s just the fences keep getting in the way!  Stilletto, looked capable of winning his race by 10-lengths till he fell when leading - most disappointing as we were on at 6/1.
Sandown is where we will start with a look at the day’s racing, and the ground there is soft/heavy.

There are a couple of chase handicaps that look interesting, the first of which is a Class 2 race over 2-mile at 1:50pm.  There are only 6 entries, headed by likely joint-fav’s Bold Henry and Arthur’s Oak. This pair met LTO over C&D on 2nd Jan, and Bold Henry won that day.  As such, he 5lb worse off with Arthur’s Oak for a winning margin of just over 2-lengths. That seems tough, but he looked like he won with something in-hand then and he may well hold the advantage again today. However, I may take a chance with Chris Pea Green who could be a lot better than his OR142 rating should he complete the course error-free.

The “Scilly Isles” novices’ chase at 2:25pm is one of the key “Arkle” trials of the season. It is a race that Paul Nicholls strives to win every season, but he’s not had much luck in recent years. Interestingly, Irish trainer Willie Mullins had 5 entered mid-week but has none starting.  Essentikally, this race is a “match” between Tea For Two and Bristol De Mai.  Both are on my alert list and, on the face of it, I’m more inclined to favour the latter, as the 5yo Bristol De Mai looks to have more speed and potential than his rival.  There wont be much in this.

I don’t usually have wagers in handicap hurdles, but I do like 3-mile hurdle races as few horses can stay this sort of trip effectively at “racing” speed. After saying that, you’d expect me to suggest Baywing who is bidding for his 5th win this season; however, his trainer Nicky Richards has a pretty awful record when sending his horses south of Manchester to race. As such, I think there is plenty of value in this race without the fav. Can anyone discount an Alan King runner (Medinas) after last weekend?  I’m not sure Ibis Du Rheu will see out this trip as he looked one-paced over 2m5f LTO.  And the winner of that race Yala Enki, didn’t stay 2m7f when tried over the trip at Haydock in November. Next in the market is Saddlers Encore, and this horse won over 2m7f in April 2015 as a 5yo, after which he was injured and not seen again till 26thDecember 2015 when he was a close-up 5th beaten just over 4-lengths after being ridden prominently all the way and (most likely) only giving way due to lack of fitness. Currently 13/2 at best with the bookies, those look fair odds about a horse that could be well-treated on OR129 - those on the blog email list were advised to take the 7/1 available last night.

The 3-mile Class 2 handicap Chase at 3:35pm brings a fair few old hands to the races. Last years winner Le Reve returns to repeat the feat, this time off a rating of OR144 which is 5lb higher than last year. If he’s in the same form, then he looks to hold a favourites chance, as he ended the season running 3rdover this course in the Bet365 Gold cup off off OR147.  Trainer Charlie Longsdon had entered Drop Out Joe for this, but now relies on the 12yo Pete The Feat who I think will struggle on this ground. Saroque had a hard race in the Welsh National, although Black Thunder was running well until unseating his rider. He’s dropped 3lb to OR149 (he was rated OR155 last season) and he could run a big race.  I thought Black Thunder could develop into a 160+ chaser this season, but he's struggled along with others from his stable.  But the horse I like is KNOCK HOUSE, who looked like he had a lot in hand when winning at Cheltenham in November off OR140 and looked like running a big race until hitting the 3rd-last fence LTO. He looks unexposed and, so long as the ground isn’t bottomless, he looks capable of winning this race, so odds of 7/1 with Paddy Power look generous.

The Wetherby meeting will likely be run on heavy ground, and holds no races of interest for me.  As for Ffos Las, if it goes ahead it will undoubtedly be run on bottomless, heavy ground and I can't consider a wager there. 

Selections
Sandown 3:00pm SADDLERS ENCORE, £4 eachway @ 7/1 (odds of 13/2 are generally available)
Sandown 3:30pm KNOCK HOUSE, £4 eachway @ 7/1 (generally available)
Also

£2 eachway double on the above selections 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Playing the law of averages

When luck is against you, then there is little you can do but keep plugging on.
Yesterday’s selection STILLETTO, took up the running with half-a-mile to run, and looked set to stay-on and win at attractive odds but, unfortunately, he stumbled on landing at the 3rd-last fence and couldn’t recover his feet.
It was particularly galling as I’d managed to obtain 7/1 on the exchanges and was on for my maximum personal wager - £40 win.
Basically, the only way I could see him losing was if he didn’t finish!  The result showed that I’d read the race well, with Quite By Chance and Gores Island filling the 2nd and 3rd places, but neither ever looked like winning, as I’d expected. Eventual winner As De Fer was matched at 999 on the exchanges when looking beaten, but was virtually presented the race when STILLETTO fell.

Onwards and upwards they say and, with horseracing, that’s the only attitude to have.

There are a couple of jump race meetings at Catterick and Chepstow today, and I have a few from my alert list running. At Catterick in the 2m3f Class 3 handicap chase at 4:00pm, one of my old alert list horses Cloudy Joker is running. He took a long time to come back to full fitness and recover his novice chase form of 2013-14 and, as such, I removed him from the alert list yet since then he has won his last two races here at Catterick.  He’s up to a rating of OR125, but is still 3lbs below his all-time high of OR128 to which he was raised after winning here in January 2014.  On the face of it, he looks well-treated, and his most obvious rivals look to need to improve significantly to beat him today.  While we should see an improved performance from The Cobbler Swayne over this trip – 2m5f possibly too far LTO – he still has to show his revised rating of OR122 (up 16lb for his winning chase debut) is within his scope. And Specials Wells hasn’t yet shown he has the aptitude to be a chaser yet in his previous 3 chase races. A greater challenge to Cloudy Joker may come from the 10yo Rear Admiral, who has a 6lb “pull” for a 2-length beating on their meeting LTO. As such, current odds of 4/1 about Cloudy Joker look fair as, based on his novice chase form of 2013-14, he could possibly end up rated 130+.

At the Chepstow meeting, there are a couple of horses from my alert list running.  In the 1:40pm, which is a Class 4 novice hurdle over 2-mile, there is Nansaroy (best odds 4/1) who faces just 4 rivals. He looks to be facing a tough task at level-weights with the fav Robin Of Locksley, who looked decent when winning LTO over 2m4f on heavy ground. As such, trainer Evan Williams has put-up 7lb claimer Lewis Gordon, but I’m never happy wagering on horses ridden by claimers who aren’t known to me.

In the next at Chepstow at 2:10pm there is Baltimore Rock in the Class 4 Novice Chase over 2-mile.  He won his chase debut well, when trained by David Pipe, on 29th December but – for some unknown reason – his owner has moved him to Neil Mulholland. I reckon this 7yo could be a 150+ chaser in the making and, while he’s giving 6lb to all his rival today, he should be able to beat his main dangers of Oscar Sunset and Lockstockandbarrel.  The latter was with Willie Mullins in Ireland last season and now races from Jonjo O’Neills stable.  He’s well bred, his dam is a half-sister to top staying chaser Hey Big Spender and, being by Flemensfirth, he will relish the mud today.  He just may find this 2-mile trip a bit on the short side.

I’m tempted by the 4/1 available on Cloudy Joker (he’s 9/2 with Stan James) but Don McCains horses can be a bit unpredictable when it comes to keeping their form.  He’s not one to put the housekeeping on, but let’s hope he can recover yesterday’s losses.

Selection

Catterick 4:00pm CLOUDY JOKER, £10 win @ 4/1 (generally available)

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Nicholls ready's a novice chaser for Cheltenham

Small fields and heavy ground – when will we see the first dry days of Spring?
We should see some interesting horses entered for races in the next 2-weeks as trainers endeavour to “get a run in” with those entered for the Cheltenham Festival.  With time running out – trainers essentially need to race their horses on or before Saturday 20th February at the very latest – and the heavy ground that has dominated horseracing since Christmas Day preventing most racehorses from running; trainers will be seeking any opportunity that presents itself.

We have a couple of jump race meetings today at Towcester and Wincanton, and while Towcester’s card is low-key stuff, there are a couple of interesting races at Wincanton worth casting an eye over. In particular, the 2m4f Class 3 handicap chase at 3:40pm which has a field of 11 runners including the interesting trio Stilletto, Quite By Chance, and Gores Island.  I know the race-fav is the 10yo As De Fer, and he won LTO at Warwick only last week (so should be more than race-fit) and races today off a mark 11lb lower than his re-rating; but he’s not been the most reliable horse to follow-up in the past and it’s more a case of taking a view “in-running” as to whether he’s capable of running a winning race or not.

Paul Nicholls runs the lightly-raced novice chaser STILLETTO and I like this horse a lot.  I think he bumped into a good one LTO in Violet Dancer and he could be a lot better than his OR132 rating.  We also know that he handles soft/heavy ground and that he stays this sort of trip.  The 7yo Quite By Chance has a lot more experience and this will be his 15th chase race. He beat our selection LTO (Ballinvarrig on 21st Jan) into 3rd place, and also the Paul Nicholls trained Wuff into 2nd.  He’s up 6lb to OR129 for that win which I think is a bit harsh in the circumstances, and he may be found wanting today when push comes to shove.  Finally, Gores Island and although he’s a 10yo he generally holds his form well and is a fairly consistent performer. He was also in the race won by Quite By Chance LTO, but was brought-down by another faller mid-race and so is 6lb better-off with the winner today. I just think this trip stretches him as both his chase wins (from 20 chase starts) have come over the minimum trip of 2-mile.

I have to admit, while I did not think STILLETTO would be the fav for this race, I certainly expected him to be the 2nd-fav at about 4/1, and so it is a real bonus to see him priced at 6/1 – and those odds are available generally.  This looks a good winning opportunity and at generous odds too, and it would not surprise me to see SITLLETTO win today and then go on to run well at the Cheltenham Festival.

Selection

Wincanton 3:40pm STILLETTO, £10 win @ 6/1 (available generally)

Monday, 1 February 2016

Mullins given a reality check by the King

It was certainly a glorious day at Cheltenham on Saturday.  Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to find a winner – but we came close.

Because of the forecast of heavy overnight rain, I woke early on Saturday morning to learn of the effects of the rain and have a review of the racing with that knowledge in mind.  The ground had deteriorated from soft to heavy, and it was certainly testing.  As such, I had another look at the novice handicap and thought that the form on heavy ground – as well as experience of forcing tactics – gave the Venetia Williams trained Waldorf Salad an excellent chance of success that was much better than his odds of 14/1. On that score, I was right as the horse set a strong gallop that had many struggling to keep up as they went up the hill (away from the stands) after running the first mile.  By the top of the hill, there was only the leading 3 of the 12 starters in with a chance of winning, and our selection Waldorf Salad was heading that trio. Unfortunately, he was headed 2-out and altho’ he stayed-on well he was never going to pass the eventual winner.  It would have been a tremendous start to the afternoon, having a 14/1 winner, but it was not to be.  My £5 eachway wager at 14/1 paid-out £22.50, recording a profit of £12.50.

Next up was the feature race at Cheltenham, the Betbright Chase over 3m1f.  The odds-on fav Djakadam, runner-up in the last Cheltenham Gold Cup, fell mid-race as they field started up the hill away from the stands.  As per my blog, I’d placed win-only wagers on Many Clouds @ 8/1 and O’Faolains Boy @ 10/1 as I didn’t think Djakadam was on odds-on chance. I also didn’t think Smad Place would be able to hold-off Many Clouds if he was as fit as he was when winning the race in 2015, but, as things turned-out, he was. 
As the leading pair pulled clear in the final mile and jumped the 2nd-last together, the Grand National winner Many Clouds didn’t seem to have moved a muscle and looked full of running. Unfortunately, that was all show as he had nothing left in the tank when asked for an effort, whereas Smad Place jumped the last 2-lengths clear and then when shook-up by his jockey (Richard Johnson) he quickly skipped away to a 10-length advantage.  It was unfortunate that Djakadam fell, but let’s take nothing away from Smad Place, as there were some rock-solid 160 performers left toiling in his wake.  Clearly, he loved the ground, but a return to the front-running tactics employed in winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last autumn are also responsible for his good form. I’ve rated his performance in winning this at 166, which isn’t as good as how I rated Cue Card and Vautour in the “King George” on Boxing Day (172), but this was over further and at Cheltenham. He was 20/1 for the Gold Cup immediately after the race (with BetVictor) and I snapped that up for an eachway wager; and he’s best-priced at 12/1 now.  The win of Smad Place capped a glorious day for trainer Alan King who sent out 5 winners.

By this time, it was fairly obvious to all that the ground was very testing and that front-runners were managing to get away from their rivals – this was not a day for hold-up tactics. The handicap chase over 2m5f looked a cracker on paper, but the ground took no prisoners and by halfway some of the field were struggling – including my selection for the blog Irish Cavalier.  It was a very disappointing effort from Irish Cavalier, and I knew the writing was on the wall when jockey Barry Geraghty gave the horse a slap on the shoulder as they field passed the stands – and, sure enough, after jumping the next fence he pulled the horse up. Was it the ground, or was it something more?  Given the overall performance of the trainers’ horses over the weekend, it seems more likely a problem at the stable.

Going up the hill, the field fell away rapidly behind the leading pair, and soon there was only last year’s winner Annacotty and long-time leader Tenor Nivernais left in with a winning chance. Given Annacotty’s love of Cheltenham, there could only be one winner, and he soon took up the running.  The jockey went a bit too early as the runner-up came back at him on the long run-in (the final fence having been omitted due to the poor ground), but Annacotty stayed on to win, without having to better his performance when winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November, when I thought he’d have to better that run by 7lb.  This was a lesson learned for me (you should always have an open mind, it is never too late to learn) in that on testing ground, races can turn into a “match” with most of the field being unable to cope with the ground. In such circumstances, weight and rating matter little.

My final selection of the day ran at Doncaster in the Skybet Chase over 3-mile. I had narrowed my selection down to either Buywise or No Planning, and the “good” ground at Doncaster swung my opinion towards No Planning, as he’d won over 2m7f at Haydock on similar ground in April 2014. I thought the “good” ground description was dubious considering it was considered “sticky” the day before, which was another plus-point for No Planning as he’d won on soft and heavy ground as well. Unfortunately, No Planning ran no race at all as it looked like he was left at the start (from the tv pictures I could not tell what happened) and trailed behind throughout, before pulling-up with a mile still to run. It was reported that he’d bled from the nose, but this race was lost at the start.


All-in-all, a disappointing day, and my personal “rule” of not having a wager at odds under 9/4 kept me off good hurdle winners Yanworth @ 2/1 and Thistlecrack @ 4/5. Both these horses look destined for Cheltenham Festival glory at their respective targets.