Welcome to the World of Horseracing
Since March 2010, this blog has recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.
For the 2016-17 Jumps Season, this blog recorded a LOSS of £40.87
from wagers on 55 individual races (6 winners, 12 placed)
Total Staked = £609.00
Friday, 10 November 2017
A big Saturday of jump racing with meetings at Aintree, Wincanton and Kelso.
The Aintree meeting has some decent horses turning out, and what I've noticed in recent weeks is how much trainers are using 3-mile hurdle races to bring their handicap chasers to peak fitness without affecting their chase rating. The 3-mile handicap hurdle at 1:40pm has Vyta Du Roc, Earthmoves, and Bon Chic amongst the 10-runners and they all spent last season chasing. I expect Vyta Du Roc is under preparation for a run in the Ladbroke Gold Cup at Newbury on 2nd December, as he ran in a hurdle race at this meeting last season before going to Newbury .
This particular 3-mile hurdle race looks a bit weak and I am prepared to oppose the 5yo fav Louis' Vac Pouch as he's not yet raced over 3-miles. Winnintry was well beaten behind Beer Goggles LTO and although 10lb better-off for that race he does not look good enough. Beer Goggles has gone up 30lb in the handicap to OR152 since winning at Ayr in April and he was beaten over C&D in May off OR135. Forza Milan hasn't proven he has the stamina for this trip, and he was beaten LTO over 2m7f by HOLLY BUSH HENRY and it is this horse who looks the value. HOLLY BUSH HENRY won again at Plumpton off OR129, and I thought he was unlucky LTO at Cheltenham and I think he's worth another chance at Class 2 level.
The feature race at Wincanton is the Badger Handicap Chase over 3m1f being run at 3:35pm. This race looks wide-open with the current fav being the Paul Nicholls trained Present Man at 15/2 and he does not look good enough to me. Nicholls sends 3 horses for the race including Mr Mix and Southfield Theatre. Last year, Southfield Theatre looked poised to win when falling at the final fence. In his only other run after that, he did not show the same zip and so comes here off a 337-day break with fitness to prove. However, I do like MR MIX who has improved with each of his 4 runs as a chaser and looks a major player based on his LTO win on 29Oct here at Wincanton over 3m2f. Based on his hurdles form he looks weighted to beat the current 2nd fav Yala Enki, a horse who likes to dominate and when he does he's up to his rating of OR151. He may not get the free-reign he needs to win though and his trainer Venetia Williams also has Vic De Touzaine and he looks ahead of the handicapper on OR139, as the horse he beat LTO - Boric - then ran a cracker to be 2nd in the Durham National. The worry with Vic De Touzaine is the ground and it may be too quick for him unless it turns soft.
I think Southfield Royale has the potential to be at 150+ chaser but his two runs last season were well below that level and he needs to show he is a player again.
Fletchers Flyer is also ahead of the handicapper on OR143 but he only ran twice last season and the 9yo will almost certainly need this run - he probably has one good handicap win in him.
I cannot see Double Shuffle winning off OR151, or Theatre Guide winning off OR154.
At the odds I like MR MIX at 10/1 (available generally on Friday evening), and I can see there being a bit of a gamble on the horse in the morning and it would not surprise me to see him start the 5/1 fav. Younger horses have a good record in the race with 5 of the last 10 winners being 6yo or 7yo, and the longest odds winner in the past 10 years was Court By Surprise at 16/1 in 2014.
The ground at Wincanton is now officially soft and that puts VIC DE TOUZAINE firmly in the picture. As such, I have split my stake between the pair of MR MIX and VIC DE TOUZAINE.
Sunday, 5 November 2017
I've changed tack for this jumps season with an intention to focus on better quality races and target antepost value, and the first race I aimed for (that has been run) has been a hit. I hope readers took the advice on Wednesday, or if not then at least the early morning odds yesterday.
Another antepost advice that I made in September regarding NATIVE RIVER for the Betfair Chase (to be run at Haydock) will almost certainly not come off. After the Charlie Hall Chase, which included another the fall by Cue Card (blamed on low sun by jockey Paddy Brennan) I speculated that perhaps Native River would become the main Tizzard stable hope for the Betfair Chase. However, it was pointed out to me that the Tizzard's are aiming Native River at just one race prior to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that is likely to be the "Denman" Chase run at Newbury in February. Even so, it would appear to me that the old horse Cue Card isn't quite the same and maybe it's time we accepted age is catching up with him.
Is Bristol De Mai a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner? Possibly, although he didn't stay the trip when running in the race last March, but he has certainly improved and for the time being he looks the best there is at 3-mile. Certainly, Sizing John will need to be at his best to beat him should they meet at Haydock on 25th November.
The 3-mile Sodexo Chase was torn apart by the winner Go Conquer who appears to be miles ahead of the handicapper at the moment. I did not consider him for this race as I thought his best trip was at about 2m5f, and I had not given enough credence to his run in the 3m1f Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March in which he ran 5th, but he did lead until just before the final fence - a top class effort in the most competitive handicap chase of the season. I reckon Go Conquer ran to 155 yesterday - a phenomenal performance.
Saturday, 4 November 2017
However, I am confident that in taking the antepost 11/1 on Bristol De Mai, I have done the right thing. Bristol De Mai is a 6yo, 4 years younger than Coneygree and he has shown, when winning the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase over 3-mile at Haydock in January, that he is capable of a performance worthy of winning this race.
Before we watch the Charlie Hall Chase, I will taking an interest on the 3-mile Grade 2 hurdle race as the horse that I think may win the new Ladbroke Gold Cup (used to be the Hennessey Gold Cup) has a pipe-opener - it is MISSED APPROACH.
I've been watching the Cheltenham Festival races again looking for clues and I think (again) that the 4-mile NH Chase has thrown-up some of the best novice chase form seen at the Festival. Having disputed the lead for most of the race, Missed Approach was looking like a potential winner coming down the hill for the 3rd-last fence but he lost the lead to the eventual winner Tiger Roll. He appeared to like the uphill finish at Cheltenham and he did resolutely hung on to be 2nd - however, he confirmed that 4-mile wasn't his trip when he ran next in the Scottish National at Ayr. I think he will relish a return to an extended 3-mile on a flatter track.
I have taken a look at the 3-mile Sodexo Chase at Ascot run at 3:35pm as I have a good record with it. I doubt the early fav Thomas Brown will enjoy this trip, and Braqueur D'Or has been raised 10lb for that win LTO. Emerging Force is a lightly raced horse who could do well today and he looks well-handicapped. This trip isn't got Go Conquer and even if Anthony repeated last years effort, he would do well to win - the race fell perfectly for him last season. Dark Flame is another for whom 3-mile is an unknown. One who will need every yard but should go well is Fourth Act, he ran 4th last year off OR137 and races today off OR129, he should be in the frame. There is no reason that Junction Fourteen should not go well as he is 6lb lower in the handicap than when 2nd in this race last season. However, I do like Bigbadjohn and I think he's a sleeping giant - yes he makes the odd blunder and it cost him LTO but he could rip this race apart if he gets his act together. Junction Fourteen should make the frame again, as should Fourth Act. The one with the best chance on form to me is EMERGING FORCE as he stays the trip, races prominently, jumps well and has tonnes of potential and he is my main wager, with a small eachway on Bigbadjohn.
Friday, 3 November 2017
I also had an eye on the jump racing at Sedgefield yesterday, in particular the Durham National Handicap Chase over 3m5f, and the short 6/4 fav in that race Audacious Plan may well have won but he only just held-on to win by a neck from the strong finish of Boric. The runner-up was last seen being caught on the line by Vic De Touzaine on 19-Oct, and that makes Vic De Touzaine very interesting for the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot tomorrow (Saturday).
We have a couple of good meetings over the jumps today at Wetherby and Uttoxeter.
At Wetherby we have the "Listed" Bet365 Chase over an extended 2m3f, and it is an intriguing contest of 7 runners. When I went through the form the horse that grabbed my attention was the 9/4 fav Sametegal, but he has been absent from racing for 608 days and while I expect him to be fit for this race there is always a doubt with horses returning from a long lay-off. However, he has done this before and won and while this is a tougher race than that one, he does have a decent rating of OR144 to race off. The one that I think will outrun his rating in this race is MARQUIS OF CARABAS who had a run 35-days ago and while he was outclassed by the winner of that race (who has since won again) his rating of OR129 looks lenient. I think Royal Vacation is not as good as his OR152 rating, and I will be surprised if Guitar Pete can find any more improvement as he was race-fit LTO. I am not sure that Marquis Of Carabas can win this afternoon, but he could be worth including in a speculative forecast with the race-fav Sametegal. I can't make Sametegal a selection as I do not think his odds of 9/4 are value, and I would be looking for something longer than 3/1 before having a wager.
There is a lot of good racing tomorrow and, when you have the prospect of good wagering opporunities, it can pay to be patient and play another day.
Wednesday, 1 November 2017
Before then, we have a good meeting at Sedgefield on Thursday which includes the Durham National over 3m5f. However, on Thursday, I will be at Lingfield watching the filly Cribbs Causeway - in which I have a share in the owners syndicate - endeavouring to obtain some "black-type". While she is unlikely to be the fav for the race, the 3yo filly Melodic Motion should be the fav, I'm hopeful of a very good effort from Cribbs Causeway but she will have to do it the hard way having been drawn 13 of the 14 runners. There are quite a few hold-up horses in the race, so I'm hoping she gets an easy lead and then kicks-off from the front with about half-a-mile to run.
The Wetherby meeting on Friday is a good one too, with an interesting 3-mile novice chase but also the "Listed" Class 1 Bet365 handicap chase over and extended 2m3f.
However, on Saturday, all eyes will be on Wetherby for the "Charlie Hall" Chase over 3-mile as it brings the best of the staying chases together for the first time this season. Old-stagers Cue Card and Coneygree take centre-stage, but they may find things not going their way. Certainly, should Coneygree run as well as he did LTO at Punchestown then he will be in the mix. I think connections now realise that they have to take every race as it comes with Coneygree, there is no point in holding some back for later as he is prone to injury and they may not get another chance. I know Cue Card has won this race before 1st-time-out, but he usually needs a run. The 6yo Bristol De Mai is a bit unpredictable, certainly on his best days he could go close, but those best days are hard to predict. I do not think Blaklion is anywhere near good enough, as was shown when 3rd over C&D on Boxing Day last December. The winner that day was Definitly Red, who went on to win at Doncaster but, in between, he was beaten by Bristol De Mai when they met in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock and if Bristol De Mai is in thatb sort of form on Saturday then he will take all the beating. The 9yo More Of That is a horse with unfulfilled potential as a chaser, but this 2014 "Stayers Hurdle" winner over 3-mile at the Cheltenham Festival certainly has the class.
I think given the ages of the front pair in the betting, I think there is scope for an upset and at the odds I am interested in the chance of BRISTOL DE MAI at 10/1 generally (Paddy Power have him at just 7/1). There will be plenty of pace on in the race and that will suit Bristol De Mai, and we know the horse stays this 3-mile trip well
Sunday, 29 October 2017
As usual for these top chases, trying to find the winner is more than a puzzle, it is a test not just of theory but of imagination. There are so many unknowns: which of the horses are fit; which will be at their peak; which are being prepared for another day; which are racing at their optimum trip; which will be racing on their preferred ground? And then there is the fact that the race is a handicap, so you have to consider which of the horses are ahead of the handicapper, if any - and if none, which are least affected by the weights?
After watching the racing at Cheltenham yesterday it made me think if these top staying chasers were a good betting medium or if they were just too much trouble for the end benefit. I mean, a 13/2 winner is a 13/2 winner whether it's a Class 2 at Cheltenham contested by 16 horses, or a Class 5 hurdle at Kelso contested by just 11 runners - or am I just being a spoilsport?
I admit that Cogry was on my alert list at the start of last season as his run at Cheltenham in Nov'15 (4th to Sausalito Sunrise) suggested he was a possible 145+ chaser over 3-mile-plus. Unfortunately, the only race he's won since then was a 3-mile hurdle and his best races over fences have been at marathon trips. Was he a 13/2 chance over 3m1f yesterday given the opposition? I'd say no, as before the race we didn't know that he'd be given a good tow in the race by Sonneofpresenting. Also, I think when we look back next April, we will realise that had Singlefarpayment been race-fit then he would have won. I also think there were some other horses that didn't perform to their peak: such as Coologue, Viconte Du Noyer, and Southfield Vic. That said, if Cogry returns for the 3m3f Grade 3 chase at Cheltenham on BetVictor Gold Cup day then he will have a great chance of following-up over a trip that will suit him even better. There is talk of the old Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury, but unless the handicapper rates him about 7lb higher for this win, he will likely be outside the handicap.
Later in the afternoon, in the 2-mile Class 2 chase we also saw the fav beaten into 2nd but this time by only a neck. The fav was Le Prezien who was clearly well-handicapped on OR144 based on his novice chase form but the odds available on him were silly, and they got shorter as the day wore on. I can see Le Prezien being rated over 155 by the end of this season. The winner Foxtail Hill is a horse who (in my opinion) was well-exposed and in the hands of the handicapper on OR140. To see him at his best he needs to have an uncontested lead - and he got one in this race! Having won over 2m5f at Cheltenham in January with similar tactics, it shows how good Le Prezien is to get so close to him when coming from so far back. Again, there were horses that didn't perform: Poker School and Cobra De Mai should both have done better considering they were race-fit. My selection Vaniteux suffered a bad bump at the start and I thought Tom Scudamore did well not to have been knocked out of the saddle, instead he trailed the field on the run-up to the first fence which the horse "ballooned". He was given time to settle down, so it was impressive that he made significant progress in the final half-mile to be 7th and if he returns to Cheltenham for the Raymond Mould Handicap in which he ran 3rd last season off OR154, then he could have a great chance.
My opinion is that in both of these races, the "value" was in the fav at the early morning odds.
Did I have a win yesterday? Yes I did, and (as has been usual recently) I found a 3-mile handicap hurdle at Kelso at 4:40pm in which the 4/1 fav Just Chilly had never won in 10 career races, nor had raced beyond 2m5f. With Irish Hawke at 13/2 also never having raced beyond 2m5f, and Broadway Belle at 6/1 another that had run 10 time and never won, together with Apache Prince at 11/2 who had never won beyond 2m4f and whose best run at 3-mile was when 2nd over 3-years ago - this looked a very weak 3-mile race considering 5 of the 11 runners were at odds of 20/1 or longer. That left only 2 runners with form at 3-mile: Buckled and Too Many Chiefs - and they filled the 1st-2 places in that order. They had met last April in a race Too Many Chiefs had won and for which Buckled was the fav; however, in Saturdays race Buckled was 5lb better-off and also had a 5lb claimer in the saddle; and that weight swung the advantage. I thought Buckled should have been the fav at under 3/1, especially as he was race-fit (very important at this stage of the season) which meant he was easy to back at up to 9/2 before the off. I took me about 5 mins to find Buckled, whereas I spent about a couple of hours (and more) on both the handicap chases at Cheltenham and ended-up only having a speculative wager on a long-odds chance who I think will come good once this season..
It has made me think about my betting strategy, and I will probably come back and write again on this. Will I be having a wager at Aintree? Probably on the chaser ASO trained by Venetia Williams as he's a horse that looks underrated on OR156 and if he ever gets his act together he could be very exciting indeed. But the horse is a puzzle regards best trip and conditions, so Aintree and the unique Mildmay course could tick the boxes; but his is also capable of dropping a leg at a fence.
Such is jump racing.
Saturday, 28 October 2017
First up was the 2-mile novice chase which looked an absolute cracker on paper beforehand and fulfilled it's promise. I suggested a wager on the chase debutante North Hill Harvey who had won last seasons Greatwood handicap hurdle run at Cheltenham. Connections kept him hurdling last season as they knew he wasn't in the same league as Altior, who won the "Arkle" (the 2-mile novice chase championship race) at the Cheltenham Festival last March; so this suggested they thought he was special. Sure enough, he jumped well throughout and when challenged by the race-fav Sceau Royal (who had the benefit of a winning run) he held him off under pressure. The SP was 100/30 but at the time of posting the blog there was plenty of 4/1 available. He will need to find a lot of improvement to win the Arkle next March.
Next up was the novice chase over 3-mile, and this had a hot fav in the Irish-trained Fagan, but I thought the Paul Nicholls trained Black Corton had decent form in the book and suggested taking the 4/1 that was on offer. Well ridden by his jockey Bryony Frost, he looked beaten before the 2nd last fence where the leader Sizing Tennessee fell (crumpled on landing).
Would he have won anyway? Possibly.
I reckon (in most situations) when a horse falls late in a race it is due to exhaustion; certainly Black Corton kept going well up the hill despite struggling over the final fence.
I then thought I was on for a winning treble when my selection in the 3rd race I looked at, Sporting Boy, went clear on the run to the 3rd-last fence (was trading at under 2/1 on the exchanges), but unfortunately he ran out of stamina at that fence and had no more to give. The gamble of the race Indian Castle was given a tender ride - as I expected - but still didn't have enough in the tank to peg back the winner What Happens Now who won with a lot to spare.
Today at Cheltenham the card opens with a Class 2 handicap chase over 3m1f, and I found the winner of this race last season in Coologue. He's running again today off the same handicap rating and with Richard Johnson in the saddle - he will go close. However, this looks an easier race for Singlefarmpayment than the one he ran in at the Cheltenham Festival LTO. He was 5/1 fav for that and was beaten only on the nod in a pulsating finish. If he's in that form he should win today even off a 4lb higher rating,
The horse that most interests me today runs in the 3rd race on the card at 3:10pm, the 2-mile Class 2 handicap chase, and that is top-weight VANITEUX. He was sold out of Henderson's yard for £125,000 and has his first run for David Pipe. Clearly, to be sold out of a top yard suggests that there is limited scope for improvement, but his win at Ayr in April suggests that on his day over two-mile he can perform to near top-level. He does not stay beyond two-mile well as his form deteriorates and he's vulnerable, but two-miles is his trip. Pipe has Vaniteux wearing a tongue-tie today and that may make a difference as he was in 1st-time cheekpieces for that Ayr win. If he wins today, then he will go up 5lb at least (he runs off OR158 today) and that elevated rating could mean the end of handicaps for him this season. I think he will come into the race fit to win and the Pipe stable love a winner at Cheltenham. There are some well-handicapped horses in this race, but nothing as classy as VANITEUX over this trip who is 14/1 with William Hill and Bet Victor (12/1 elsewhere). I'm on at 14's eachway.
Friday, 27 October 2017
We had a good meeting at Carlisle yesterday and we saw an exemplary ride by Danny Cook when making-all on NEVER UP in the 2m4f Class 4 handicap chase. Trainer Sue Smiths' horses had looked in need of a run so far this autumn, and so as Never Up was technically having his seasonal debut (he last ran in May which is technically this season) and he'd not shown a liking for heavy ground before I overlooked him. However, Danny Cook made great use of the horse and saw off a sustained challenge from the runner-up Calivigny who had slipped from OR122 to OR113 despite not running poorly and would certainly appreciate this testing ground. Never Up looks the sort of chaser who could run-up a sequence of wins this season.
It looks a tricky card at Cheltenham this afternoon, and if you are having a wager then I would advise sticking to small stakes (unless you have better knowledge than me). I will be very interested in watching the 2-mile novice chase run at 2:35pm as we could well see the next "Arkle" winner here in the Alan King trained Sceau Royal who has already won a novice chase. He faces two decent rivals who will be having their chase debut in Movewiththetimes and North Hill Harvey, and of that pair I think that North Hill Harvey - who won the Greatwood handicap hurdle last November here at Cheltenham - looks the most interesting.
The other novice chase on the card over an extended 3-mile at 3:45pm also is an intriguing contest despite having only 5 runners. However, unless something shows significant improvement, the race looks between the fav Fagan, trained by Gordon Elliot, and Black Corton trained by Paul Nicholls. On form there looks little to split them so, at the odds, I'd be inclined to take the 4/1 about Black Corton than the 7/4 about Fagan.
The 3m1f amateur riders handicap chase at 4:20pm can be an interesting betting race as you can usually rule out most of the horses down to the quality of the riders. Last night, Indian Castle was 10/1 with Bet365 but with vitrually every man and his dog tipping the horse due to the booking of Gold Cup winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen for this horse who has been off the track for 541 days, his current odds are 6/1. That looks a bit short to me, as while I'm sure he will be fit for this race, his stamina always failed him when racing beyond 3-mile before his injury and enforced break, and he will need tender handling to last the trip today. I also think the fav Presenting Julio is far too short at 4/1 considering that he may have won a 3-mile hurdle race, but he's not won a chase beyond 2m5f.
There will be a good pace on in this race from the likes of Azure Fly, What Happens Now, Bugsie Malone and Sporting Boy, and it is the latter who looks the most interesting. Sporting Boy is a tenacious horse who holds his form well and comes here on the back of an emphatic win over 3-mile. Despite his 6lb penalty for that win, the handicapper has put him up (for future races) 13lb - so he's 7lb well-in today and has the benefit of the capable Mr W Biddick in the saddle. Odds of 7/1 look fair (as I'd have him the fav on the formbook) and due to the gamble on Indian Castle, we could see slightly longer odds at the time of the race.
Wednesday, 25 October 2017
I was absolutely right about the 3-mile handicap chase at Exeter and, in hindsight, I should have left well alone - or at least stuck with the advice I wrote in my own blog! Unfortunately, as the day progressed it played on my mind that Barry Geraghty had been booked for Cernunnos and I convinced myself that the key to the horse had been found, as he's a good deal better than his current rating when he wants to be. However, once the race started it was soon apparent that today wasn't a going day and the horse was pulled-up with about a mile still to run. Thankfully, I had a small "saver" on the 12yo Alvarado who, as I expected, stayed on strongly and looked like possibly winning after jumping the 2nd-last fence but it was not to be. It should be noted that 3-miles around Exeter is not for the faint-hearted and 7 of the 16 starters pulled-up, and 4 of the 9 finishers - including the 7/2 fav Vieux Lille - were beaten at least a distance, that is over half-a-furlong.
If that wasn't bad enough, my main wager of the day Midnight Glory in the 2m7f hurdle looked like she was going really well with half-a-mile to run but stopped quickly and was pulled-up so it's likely something went amiss with the mare.
Later in the afternoon, Yanworth confirmed his superior ability with a comforatable win over Sternrubin in the Beginners' Chase over 2m1f. Quite how good that form is we will have to wait and see, but the signs are that Yanworth is a 150+ chaser.
Nothing much doing today, despite there being a couple of jump race meetings at Sedgefield and Worcester. I may take an interest in the Class 2 handicap hurdle at Worcester at 3:55pm being run over 2m4f and, if I do, then I will post my selection on twitter.
Thursday brings us 3 jump race meetings at Carlisle, Ludlow and Southwell and, at Carlisle, we have a Class 3 handicap chase over 3m2f which - with the ground being soft there - could take some staying. Also on that Carlisle card is a Class 3 Beginners' Chase which has been an introduction to chasing for some decent horses with recent winners including Cloudy Dream, Pendra and Bury Parade.
Friday brings us the opening meeting of the season at Cheltenham, and it looks a cracking card with my particular highlight being the 3m1f, Class 3 handicap chase for amateur riders. Sure to be a big field for this race and, with riding ability as much a requirement as race-form of the horses, we should be able to quickly find a value wager. We are back at Cheltenham on Saturday, for another terrific card with at least 3 decent races in which I shall probably be wagering. I found the winner of the opening Class 2 handicap chase over 3m1f last season (with Coologue), but the 2-mile Class 2 handicap chase is also a race that can throw-up a decent winner. And as I've been paying attention to 3-mile hurdle races recently, I will be looking at the "Pertemps" qualifier too. Do not forget there is a meeting at Kelso on Saturday, and there is an attractive Class 2 handicap chase over 3m2f there which has a decent set of entries.
Finally, to make this weekend extra special, we have the Aintree "Monets Garden" meeting on Sunday - and I found the winner of this race last season (with Third Intention). There is also a good handicap chase being run on Sunday at Worcester so, all-in-all, we have a busy and entertaining weekend as jump racing gets into full swing.
Tuesday, 24 October 2017
Before I look at the other races on the Exeter card, yesterday I had a detailed look at the 3-mile hurdle run at Plumpton. Unfortunately, as the ground loosened and became good-to-soft, we had a couple of non-runners in the race which included the fav (and my selection) Beneficial Joe , who was pulled-out at 3:55pm just 35mins before the race. I quickly referred to my analysis on the blog (never rely on memory if you have taken the trouble to make notes) and reinforced my belief that the new market leaders (Clondow Bistro @ 9/4 and Linguine @ 7/2) were able to be opposed and so sought a likely winner. With Invicta Lake @ 6/1 returning from injury and 18mths off the track, I focused on Oh Land Abloom - a 7yo that had a win over 2m7f plus a couple of 2nd's at 3-mile and (according to Racing Post Ratings) was a consistent performer at a level on a par with his OR129 rating. With Linguine trying to make all and running his best race in some time, the strong pace was to the benefit of Oh Land Abloom, and he was going very well as they raced along the back straight for the 3rd time on this small Plumpton circuit and, apart from when he steadied on jumping the final flight, his jockey - 7lb claimer Harry Teal - knew he had the race won.
I think these stayers hurdle races are a really good betting medium as I'm convinced that very few horses truly stay 3-miles over hurdles when there is a decent pace being set. There are a couple of handicaps at Exeter today, a 3-mile Class 3 chase at 3:20pm with 16-runners, and a 2m7f Class 4 hurdle race at 3:50pm.
The chase handicap looks very tricky to fathom, and the betting reflects this with the current fav being Vieux Lille at 5/1, and while he's a 3-time course winner over hurdles, he didn't look to stay this trip when running over C&D last November. Has Cernunnos finally found his trip at 3-mile following his LTO win? Personally, I wouldn't bet on it despite being on a great handicap mark. I'm not convinced by Duelling Banjos or Bindon Mill, and only Umberto D'Olivate will know if he's going to win today. The more I look at this race, the more wide-open it looks and if you are going to have a wager in it then I think it may pay to go with reliable old campaigner Alvarado who may be 12yo but will stay all day long and 1st-time-out may be when you have to catch him. He's 16/1 with Stan James and he could very easily be among the 1st-4 and may even reach the winners' enclosure with a bit of luck.
The 2m7f handicap hurdle looks more of a betting race to me. I took a look at this race yesterday evening and a couple jumped to the fore: the 6yo Sutter's Mill and the 5yo Waterloo Warrior.
Sutter's Mill stays 3-mile well, in fact he may find this 2m7f trip on the short side, but his negative is that he's a plodder and not improving - but he is consistent. Waterloo Warrior is bred to be a decent staying chaser, and he best race over hurdles to date was over C&D last March when he stayed-on well to be 2nd. The fav for the race is the 5yo mare Midnight Glory who was last seen coming 3rd to Beer Goggles, and that (in hindsight) looks decent form, and she could be well-in running off OR113. Of the others, I'm surprised Dreamsoftheatre is at 10/1 for this as we know he stays very well, and he's usually consistent, plus he won LTO over 3m1f. Up 9lb for that win to OR114, my doubt is that the trip may be a tad too short and the ground may be a bit soft.
All-in-all a tricky race to fathom but I liked the way MIDNIGHT GLORY was ridden LTO by Richard Johnson, who takes the ride again today, as it was a confident effort but (unfortunately) he met an exceptionally well-handicapped winner that day in Beer Goggles.
Monday, 23 October 2017
I've been gently easing my way into the jumping season, and we've already seen some strong form lines coming through.
On Thursday, trainer Venetia Williams had her first chase winner of the season with Vic De Touzaine at Carlisle and she was unlucky not to have a 2nd on Saturday with Burtons Well who was beaten just a neck by the race-fit and LTO winner Romain De Senam. I can see this race producing a lot of future winners as I've rated the race via 3rd-placed Voix D'Eau who I thought ran to his best (tail flashing on the run in) and he will probably benefit from a drop in trip to under 2m4f. Burtons Well is lightly raced and this ground was probably as quick as he wants but he went down fighting and on soft or heavy NTO he looks one to be on. This was a big step-up by Romain De Senam, but there may not be much improvement left in him as this was the 5yo's 16th run for Paul Nicholls and his 9th chase race.
Paul Nicholls has certainly hit the ground running as he's had 15 winners from his 45 runners in the past 14-days. I was on Friday's winner Orbasa at Wincanton and this talented yet temperamental horse finally put his head in front with probably his best run since he was 2nd at Newton Abbott in April. We you consider that he was only beaten a length when in-receipt of 5lb by Definitly Red at Ayr in April 2016, and that one is now rated 22lb higher, you have to wonder if "finally" the game has clicked into place. Nicholls has followed that win up with another double on Saturday, and then 4 wins at Kempton on Sunday from the 6 horses he sent there - and he had 2 in the same race; so 4 wins from 5 races contested. I took advantage of the early 7/4 about Old Guard in the "Listed" hurdle race over 2-mile as his only real danger was stablemate San Benedeto. However, it was really no contest as San Benedeto was a consistent but ordinary hurdler before he went chasing, and Old Guard had show he was at least 10lb better than him in this sphere - and it was no contest.
On Saturday for me the feature jump race of the day was at Ffos Las, where the 9yo The New One took the Welsh Champion (handicap) Hurdle showing his ability is not dimming with age; he remains a rock-solid 160 hurdler over 2-mile.
Today, we have the first winter meeting of the season at Plumpton, my local jump racing track. This is a tight little left-handed track with a particularly awkward fence at the start of the back straight which is on a downhill slope - it can catch out an over-exuberant jumper. The race I'm looking at here is the 3m 1f handicap hurdle at 4:30pm, mainly as in my opinion stayers hurdle races are one of the safest betting mediums in racing - not many horses truly stay 3-miles. I'm therefore taken by the fav Beneficial Joe who has won 3 times at 2m7f - 3m. Sure, he's not looked like staying much further in 3 completed races beyond 3m 1f but this opposition looks weak. The 2nd-fav Clondaw Bisto needs to prove he stays this far as he's not raced beyond 2m5f. Linguine stays 3-mile but his 7 x 2nd's from 18 races proves he's one-paced at the business end. The 10yo Teak would be interesting if he could recover his from of a few years ago but, LTO, he looked a shadow of his former self. Similarly, the 10yo Invicta Lake could be on my shortlist, but this is his first run since being injured in Feb-16. I really cannot consider any of the others in the race, and BENEFICIAL JOE should merely have to complete to take this race. Curently best-priced at 5/2 (Bet365) and at 4.00 (or 3/1) on Betfair, I can see this one starting at 2/1 or maybe even 7/4.
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Today's Bobby Renton Handicap Chase at 3:45pm is run over 2m3f and has attracted 7 runners, headed by the fav Delusionofgrandeur trained locally by Sue Smith, who also runs Straidnahanna in this race. Delutionofgrandeur has won over 2m4f as a novice hurdler, but he's never run over a trip this short as a chaser, in fact his last win was at this track in March over 3-miles. He could do well at this trip, but in my opinion he will be at his best at trips of 3-mile and further. And the same can be said for Straidnahanna who won last season over 3m6f, although he has a good cruising speed and he could get into a good rhythm.
When I looked at this race yesterday afternoon, I was immediately drawn to Monbeg River who ran 4 times last season without winning, but with a lot of promise. Unfortunately, he was brought-down when racing over 2m4f at Aintree in December, and he ended the campaign when racing over today's C&D in January. That was thought to be run on ground too soft for him, and he was beaten 6-lengths into 3rd. A repeat of that effort should see him in the frame, and any improvement will make him hard to beat. The biggest issue for me is that his trainer Martin Todhunter has such a poor strike-rate, and his stats for Wetherby are very poor: just 3 wins from 42 runners in the past 5 years.
Due to the support for Monbeg River, the odds on After Hours have lengthened to 4/1, and this 8yo looks to be on an attractive rating of OR120 considering he improved with every run last season without winning; coming home 2nd in 5 of his last 6 races. He jumps well, runs prominently, and should have no problem with the trip; probably his only issue could be the ground as he "may" want it a bit softer.
The French import Ballotin has his first run for Philip Hobbs, and this is his only runner today - Hobbs has a impressive 28% strike-rate here! Ballotin chased home subsequent Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co in June 2014, after which Peace And Co was sold on to Nicky Henderson. Ballotin then chased home Mick Jazz who is now a OR144 hurdler with Gordon Elliot. When chasing in France, Ballotin beat Buttercup who has since moved to Venetia Williams and ran-up a hat-trick of chase wins earlier this year and is now rated OR126. I've no doubt that Ballotin will be fit today and the ground and trip are perfect for him. His rating of OR139 looks a bit steep though, and while his amateur rider will take off 7lb he will need to be at the top of his game in this race.
I like the look of Katgary and he goes very well off a break - a repeat of his run in March (after a 9 month break) when 2nd to San Benedeto would see him hard to beat today - but I have no confidence in his amateur rider Liam Quinlan who has had only 3 rides in the UK in the past 5 seasons, and this is his first for Pauline Robson.
Finally, we have Definite Future who is sent here by trainer Kerry Lee who has only sent 7 runners here in the past 5 seasons from her base in Hereford, and 3 have won. She has also booked jockey Jamie Moore and that suggests they mean business. This trip and ground will be perfect, LTO over 2-miles was too short - and a repeat of his run at Worcester in June off OR132 (he runs off OR137 today) will see him go close. Currently 10/1, DEFINITE FUTURE certainly looks the value in what is a tricky race as while his latest run may have been over an insufficient trip, being only 30 days ago it means he is proven race-fit.
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
The Chepstow meeting is a favourite of trainer Paul Nicholls, and he won the opening hurdle race there of the 2-day meeting with his 4yo Dynamite Dollars, and then followed-up with the mare If You Say Run in the 2nd race on the days card, and he was unlucky to bump into the well-handicapped Silver Streak in the 4yo 2-mile limited handicap otherwise his runner Dolos would have made it 3 wins on the day for the trainer. Silver Streak looks capable of following-up. Evan Williams, trainer of Silver Streak, followed-up with Court Minstrel in the Grade 3 hurdle and this horse seems to have found his mojo this summer and, considering he was competitive off OR157 in 2015-16 this 10yo is worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks as he is unlikely to go up much from his current Or142 rating.
The feature race at Chepstow on Saturday was the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase (in which Bigbadjohn unseated his rider). The winner was Rock The Kasbah but I was not particularly impressed as his jockey (champion) Richard Johnson was hard at work a long way out and it was probably only the inexperience of the runner-up Petrou (this was only his 3rd chase race) that denied the useful claimer Bridget Andrews a winning ride. In 3rd was the well-exposed Ballykan, and I've rated this race using him as a yardstick and so I cannot see the winner following up. Petrou however, is another matter, and he was yet another advert for the talent of his trainer Dan Skelton as, since joining him in May (5 months ago) he's won 4 and been runner-up twice from the 7 races he's competed in. He goes onto the alert list, along with the horse that beat him LTO the 7yo Midnight Shot trained by Charlie Longsdon.
On Sunday's card at Chepstow, I was most interested in the Veterans' Handicap Chase over 3-mile and, in these races, I focus on the youngest horses in the race which are the 10yo's. I may be wrong, but I think last season only one Veterans' handicap chase was won by a horse older than 10yo which I think was the 11yo Loose Chips at Ascot in April this year. Sure enough, of the 14 runners on Sunday, 6 were older than 10yo and none of them finished in the 1st-3. The race was won by the 10yo Bob Ford who was having his first run for trainer Alastair Ralph since leaving Rebecca Curtis. The horse was bought by Dr Richard Newland (who is better know as the trainer of Grand National winner Pineau De Re) at the sales in March for £7000 and he clearly thought there was money to be won with him as he last won in December 2015. I overlooked him for the race on Sunday as - despite his rating having slipped from OR142 to OR122 - all his previous winning form had been on heavy ground and I thought the "good" ground at Chepstow would be too quick for him. Although he is reported as opening in the betting at 8/1, you can take it from me that at 11am on Sunday morning Bob Ford was available at 18/1. As such, the gamble on him to an SP of 5/1 was phenomenal and he must have easily repaid his purchase price in winnings from the ring. This gives a valuable lesson in gambling on the jumps: if you know your horse (selection) is fit and well, stays the trip and is well handicapped, then you can bet with confidence.
Saturday, 14 October 2017
For once, I've had a cracking flat season, thanks mainly to my share in the Cribbs Causeway syndicate. Five wins, yes 5 wins, this season - can't be bad.
Two years ago on this day I posted a couple of selections and advised a couple of single wagers and a double - and they both came in. There's little chance of that happening again as there is only one decent betting race and that's the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase at 4:45pm. There are 14 runners as I write, and the ground is Good-to-Soft.
The early fav is Rock The Kasbah (3/1) who won over C&D in February and showed that was no fluke (his usual trip being 2m5f) when running 2nd at Uttoxeter NTO. He won on this card last season, and he looks a worthy fav. I selected Label Des Obeaux (8/1) hen he ran at the Cheltenham Festival in the opening days handicap chase. He didn't seem to enjoy Cheltenham and, when next out at Ayr, he demonstrated his ability with a win over 3-miles. If he comes here in similar form he will take all the beating as he looks ahead of the handicapper over even with an 8lb adjustment to OR154. Sizing Codelco (8/1) ended the season with a couple of wins in top handicap chases and starts this season on OR160; and I just cannot see him being able to win off that rating - if he does he will put himself into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture. For instance, Potters Legend (13/2) meets Sizing Codelco on 22lb better terms than when they met at Aintree in April. Potters Legend went into that race as the 9/2 fav and this trip and ground will suit him, and he goes well fresh too. I can see him running a big race, but will he be good enough to win? We are waiting for Venetia Williams first winner of the season, and I cannot see it being Marcilhac (16/1). And this 3-mile trip is probably too much for Indian Stream (20/1) who is best at 2m5f. An interesting runner is Bigbadjohn (16/1 generally) as he a couple of good races last season on ground softer than he'd like, and I'm happy to ignore his run at Cheltenham. He stays 3-mile, usually runs prominently and with just 6 chase runs is relatively unexposed. His rating of OR144 looks reasonable and odds of 18/1 (Coral and BetVictor) look generous. Ballykan (9/1) is well exposed, and Boa Island will need a career-best to be involved. Minellacelebration (20/1) was going well when brought-down LTO and is another that can go well, as is Henryville (25/1). The remaining pair of Relentless Dreamer (12/1) and Junction Fourteen (20/1) would require a complete reverse of recent fortune to succeed. Whereas Petrou (20/1) does not have the experience to win a race as competitive, if he does he's very decent.
Rebecca Curtis won this race last year and BIGBADJOHN looks well-placed to run a cracker, although the odds about several look decent. It could be a very competitive race and in such cases I think it's best to take a punt on one at long odds.
I'm taking a break from writing a regular blog, but I will be having a few quid on BIGBADJOHN as I thought he'd be half his current odds and it would not surprise me to see him start this race at 8/1. I think the fav Rock The Kasbah can be opposed as although consistent last season, he didn't show any improvement from his debut chase to his final run in the Bet365 Chase at Sandown; as such, he looks vulnerable.
Monday, 9 October 2017
Close friends, relations, and close horse-racing contacts will know that I've been part of the syndicate (managed by Nick Bradley) behind the 3yo filly CRIBBS CAUSEWAY. On Saturday at the end of a busy Newmarket card, she won the EBF Breeders' Fillies' Series Handicap (Class 2) over 1m4f - and she didn't just win it, she won with a tonne in hand. Her jockey on Saturday was non other than Frankie Dettori and, having hit the front 3-furlongs out, he dropped his "whip" just after passing the 2-furlong marker and it was a hands'n'heels ride from there on. Click on the link above to watch the official video of the race.
This was a tremendous performance, her best yet by a long way, and we are confident that there is more to come and she stays in training for 2018. What a year 2017 has been - 5 wins, £62,000 in prize-money, and progressing from OR62 to OR90 (maybe OR95 after the handicapper has rated Saturdays win).
When I was first sent the details of Cribbs Causeway in July 2016, it took me under an hour to make the decision to join the syndicate. The bloodline was there, as the dam Bristol Fashion is a half-sister to Midas Touch (5th in the Derby, and runner-up in the Irish Derby and St Leger). At the time (July 2016) I was unaware that Bristol Fashion was also half-sister to the filly Coronet who this season has won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot over 1m4f, and then chased home super-filly Enable in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks.
Cribbs Causeway was the 1st-foal of Bristol Fashion, who was unraced due to her being very tall (according to Nick Bradley) so there was some risk attached. However, I took into account the dam-side bloodline and also that the sire Rip Van Winkle was sired by champion sire Galileo, who traces back through champion sire Sadlers Wells who, in turn, was sired by the great Northern Dancer. Personally, I think the sire Rip Van Winkle is under-rated as his stock seem to be later developers and despite having most success on the course as a miler, his stock do well beyond 10-furlongs.
You can have the right horse, but without the right treatment you will not see the best performance so, credit where credit is due, Roger Charlton and his team at Beckhampton deserve the fullest praise. Fingers crossed, our good fortune will continue into the next year, and I cannot describe the euphoria experienced by myself and the other syndicate members on Saturday afternoon - this is what we all dream of when we join a horse-racing syndicate.
Thursday, 5 October 2017
Just 7 horses go to post for this race yet it looks difficult to fathom as, at this stage of the season, fitness can be the most important factor.
Top-weight is the 9yo Sego Success who we know stays this trip well and he usually runs a good race on his seasonal debut, but he does also improve for the run. What is in his favour is that he's dropped to OR136 having not won in 5 races last season, and on that mark he should be competitive. The 6yo Ballycross could be a big improver this season, but he had his chances last season to impress and didn't take them. Based on that form I think he's fairly handicapped on OR133 and will need to find improvement today to win, and he won't be racing on his preferred soft ground. As such, although he has youth on his side, his odds of 3/1 do not represent value in my opinion.
The horse I like the look of in this race is SHANROE SANTOS, who is a lightly raced 8yo - he only came to trainer Lucy Wadham as a 6yo in January 2015 from the point-to-point sphere - as he was off the track from April 2015 to November 2016. He took a few races to get fit and learn his new trade of chasing, but it all came together in the February when he won over C&D. He then won again at Sandown the next month off OR126 before possibly a long season took it's toll when he was beaten some way in a Class 2 handicap chase at Haydock in April. If he can repeat his Sandown form-level today then he will take a lot of beating off OR129 and odds of 4/1 look fair value.
There is a 3m1f hurdle race at Huntingdon at 3:05pm, but there is little to be confident about with many of the runners. The fav Air Squadron basically won a "match" against a non-stayer LTO and his stamina is unproven in my book. The 2nd-fav Dreamsoftheatre returns to hurdling for the first time in 4 years, and supporters are banking on his hurdling ability being better than his recent chase form. There has been a sustained gamble on Generous Chief all morning - he opened at 14/1 - and his current odds are 9/1; he could be the answer as he stays the trip well, and handles right-handed Huntingdon. The value has possibly gone as - if Air Squadron is a true stayer then he could take some beating - but he's worth a punt on the place-only market on the exchanges.
Monday, 2 October 2017
The "Arc" draws a curtain on the flat season and now it is "all systems go" on the jumps! There are meetings this afternoon (Monday 2nd October) at Newton Abbot and Stratford; Tuesday brings meetings at Sedgefield and Southwell; and on Wednesday there's a meeting at Bangor.
We also had a strong meeting at Market Rasen on Saturday with Ballybolley winning the 2m5f "Listed" Chase. This horse has always looked a potential 140+ chaser, but never seemed to fulfil that potential. However, his repeat win in the Haydock "Middle Distance Chase Series Final" last April confirmed that trips around 20-21f are his forte. He's run over further, but I don't think he's as good beyond 2m6f. Guitar Pete was well fancied for the race and ran well to be 2nd, and the race-fit Poker School (who I expected to run well) came in 5th to frank the form. I reckon the 1st-3 home (Master Dee was 3rd) can all be followed in the coming months.
Tuesday, 12 September 2017
The antepost markets have been overlooked in recent seasons, but I think that is more to do with the attitude of today's gamblers than a change in how the sport is being campaigned by owners, trainers and bookmakers. The "modern" person of today wants a quick hit, instant satisfaction. The prospect of placing a wager and then waiting weeks, if not months, for the event is not something that the new breed of gamblers seems to want. I may be wrong, and I hope I am (please enlighten me if I am). What I want to show through this blog is that there is still the capability to build a portfolio of "antepost" wagers that will result in a good profit. What I also want to (hopefully) demonstrate is that by playing a long-game, the punter can build-up a distinct knowledge of the horses competing in certain races and so place wagers in greater certainty. I've had some success in recent seasons with antepost wagers, most notably Coneygree in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup (I advised taking the 12/1 available on 9th February 2015 - 5 weeks before the race), and with Cue Card in the 2013 Ryanair Chase (I advised taking the 5/1 available on 16th February 2013). I've also had more than a few losers, but I will be trying to avoid those this season.
Putting together an antepost strategy, the initial priority is avoiding wasted wagers - placing precious stake-money on horses that never start the race has to be avoided. So, at this stage of the season, the target races are going to be the "championship" Grade 1 races. In terms of the Cheltenham Festival, that is the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the "Stayers" Hurdle. I'm going to ignore the Ryanair Chase until after Christmas when we will have a better idea of which horses are more likely to compete in the Ryanair. Outside of the Cheltenham Festival, I will be considering races like the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day; the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November; and also handicap races if the opportunity arises.
The Betfair Chase on 25th November is the first of these championship races to be run, and the market is currently headed by Sizing John who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March. Since joining Mrs Harrington, Sizing John has found a new level of consistency but I don't think he's shown yet that he is significantly superior to other staying chasers to warrant being the 2/1 fav for the Betfair Chase at this time. You also have to take into consideration the fact the Mrs Harrington very rarely sends horses to race in the UK outside of the Cheltenham Festival. It's my view that Sizing John won't line-up for the Betfair Chase. Last year's winner Cue Card is now an 11yo, but he has won the Betfair Chase for 3 of the last 4 years, his only defeat in the race being in 2014 when his trainer said he was suffering (at the time) from a back problem. Kauto Star won the Betfair Chase as an 11yo, and Kauto Star had also won the Betfair Chase three times prior to that win, so the "omens" are there. His stablemate Thistlecrack would appear to have a better chance. He beat Cue Card fair & square in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and, if he were able to repeat his run when just beaten by Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on 28th January, that would be good enough in my opinion. However, his trainer may be aiming him for the King George VI Chase again. The current 2nd-fav at 9/2 in the betting is Might Bite but, for me, the jury is still out on this one's ability. Sure, he is a good chaser but I don't expect his trainer Nicky Henderson will send him straight to Haydock for this race. I reckon we will see Might Bite run in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby first and, depending on his run in that, we will see if he goes for the Betfair Chase.
Other horses in the betting with odds under 20/1 are Bristol De Mai, Tea For Two and Whisper but, to be fair, none of those look remotely capable of winning a Betfair Chase. The way Minella Rocco ran in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to be 2nd would really see him amongst the market leaders if the early-season form of his trainer Jonjo O'Neill was stronger but, invariably, Jonjo's top chasers are brought into the season slowly with the focus being on the Cheltenham Festival.
There are two others in the race who are very capable of winning a Betfair Chase, Coneygree and Native River. I am going to look at the latter horse first, and Native River had a tremendous season last year winning both the Hennessey Gold Cup (now re-named the Ladbrokes Gold Cup) and the Welsh National. He "only" carried 11st 1lb in the Hennessey last year when running off a rating of OR155 and, with a rating of OR166 now, he will almost certainly carry 11st 10lb if he returns to Newbury, and I cannot see that happening. For me, the Betfair Chase over 3-mile at Haydock is tailor-made for the horse. He has everything you want, and he will only be a 7yo (which makes him a year younger than the 2nd-season chaser Might Bite). Current odds of 20/1 look huge to me as, should he line-up for this race (and there's no good reason to say he wont) he will have odds under 6/1 and he may even start the fav.
Coneygree ran in last years Betfair Chase starting at odds of 2/1 when returning from a year off the track through injury. He ran bravely but, ultimately, lack of race fitness told and he threw-in the towel with 2 fences to jump. He then ran a stormer at Punchestown (he missed the Cheltenham Gold Cup) when relishing the good ground. I would not be too worried if the ground is soft at Haydock (it usually is in November) as Coneygree won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on soft ground, but if the ground is heavy then that will not be to his advantage. He has been prepared to run in the Kerry National, so fitness should not be a problem this year. Paddy Power go 10/1 about Coneygree (he's 7/1 elsewhere) but, compared with the 20/1 available about NATIVE RIVER, finding the value in the Betfair Chase market is a no-brainer.
25th November - Betfair Chase - NATIVE RIVER £10 win @ 20/1
(odds available with Skybet, BetVictor and Paddy Power)
Thursday, 7 September 2017
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
My opinion is that betting in general on horse-racing is becoming tougher mainly due to the expansion of rating services which is chiselling the "edge" away from old hands like me. Horses which used to go off at 10/1 are now running with an SP of under 5/1 - what that means is that the "risk" factor is being reduced.
To explain, I generally try and operate on a winner from every 5 wagers (20% strike rate), so to break-even my winners have to have odds of 4/1. To make a profit, my selections have to have average odds of 9/2 or longer. After building-in "margin" (about 2pts) and risk of the unexpected (another point), I'm looking for wagers at odds of 8/1 or longer on horses that I consider to have a chance on my odds-line of 4/1 or shorter. Those opportunities are getting fewer, and I am looking at ways of overcoming the situation.
I've been reading a book called "Against The Odds - the remarkable story of risk" by Peter Bernstein. It confirms what I had already concluded myself (although I do not consider myself a scholar or professor) that knowledge of risk is understood by very few. I have made note of a passage which summarises the 1992 paper (by Kahneman and Tversky) titled "Prospect Theory": "Theories of choice are, at best, approximate and incomplete... Choice is a constructive and contingent process. When faced with a complex problem (ie. horseracing) people use computational shortcuts and editing operations." Since 1494, when Luca Paccioli set out the basics of algebra in his book Summa de arithmetic, geometria et proportionalita, mathematicians have tried to ascertain how to measure risk as a formula and, essentially, all have failed - although in the intervening years each advance in risk management has brought a greater understanding of risk and its complexities. What reading this book has confirmed to me is that few people understand what risk is, so if you don't understand it how can you value it? However, if you are to make a long-term profit from gambling on horseracing then you must at least make due allowance for risk in the structure of how you wager. Right now, I don't think enough people take risk into account when placing a wager, and so they accept odds that do not accommodate a reasonable element of risk. It is not good enough just to bet on the winner of a race if the odds do not accommodate risk and offer the punter "value" - unless you are capable of finding winners at a very high strike-rate; and by high I mean over 40% of all wagers must win. If you do not accommodate risk within your odds assessment, then you will lose in the long run.
What this has led me to consider is that with high a turnover of wagers, shortcuts have to be taken and, in taking shortcuts, you end up making decisions with incomplete or approximate information. As such, I will be intending to reduce the number of wagers I make in the coming 12 months to enable me to take as much information into account as possible. With a reduced number of wagers, there needs to be a corresponding increase in the stake applied. Some years ago, I suggested that in order for wagers to have significance they should be at a level at which losing would "hurt". I took this from the memoirs of Sir Clement Freud and, at the time, I suggested the wager amount should be a days wage. This produced a fair amount of comment back then, and I expect it will do the same again. As a freelance consultant in construction, I know what my daily rate is but, if you don't and you are on a salary then you have to divide your salary by 230 which is approximately the number of days a typical person works in a year. You can do this in your head by dividing your salary by 100 (if your salary is £40,000 divide by 100 equals £400), then halve that number (half of £400 is £200) and taking off another 10% (that is 10% of £200 which is £20), so £180 is a days wage for someone on £40,000pa.
I will be trialling this approach over the coming weeks, and the Royal Ascot meeting will provide several suitable races. I will be using every tool in my betting armoury to make a profit including laying-off my stake before the off should the odds provide the opportunity.
Post-blog notes: some differing responses via twitter with one suggestion being to give up betting on horseracing altogether, and another suggesting I increase the number of wagers and reduce the stake rather than reduce them and increase the stake. I have tried that latter suggestion before privately, but that is akin to adopting horseracing betting as a full-time occupation. This blog is essentially to provide readers with entertainment and information that will (hopefully) provide a profit.
Friday, 14 April 2017
I need to update the profit & loss scenario for advised wagers on the blog, but I'm putting it off as it probably won't be good reading. I think, or perhaps I know, what the problem for me has been this season, and that is time - or (rather) the lack of it.
The way horse-racing is developing now into a season fixated on the Cheltenham Festival - and that has been made very evident by the lack of competition for some of the Grade 1 races at last weeks Aintree "Grand National" meeting - is that horses are being prepared slowly and you cannot know just when they will be at their peak.
A perfect example of this is Saphir Du Rheu who I advised a wager on for the 2m5f chase at Cheltenham on 28th January. The ground that day was soft, which was perfect for the horse as he'd won the Lanzarote Hurdle a Class 1 "Listed" handicap on soft, and the Grade 2 "Cleeve" Hurdle at this meeting in January 2015. His worst ever run on soft ground had been over an inadequate 2-mile when a novice hurdler. The 2m5f trip was also suitable as he'd won all 4 of his completed races at a similar trip (only failure was unseating his rider in a novice chase won by Coneygree). He should have been race-fit as he'd run 3rd at Ascot in October over 3-mile and he'd fallen early-on in the Hennessy Gold Cup so, all-in-all he should have started the short-priced fav for this race and not had an SP of 6/1 when running off OR153 - especially when you consider his good performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month which has resulted in his Official Rating being raised to OR162.
Instead, he was given a "gentle" ride by his jockey and only started racing "proper" after the 3rd last fence by which time the eventual winner opened-up at least a 12-length lead. Sure, Saphir Du Rheu managed to peg-back the leader, and some may be wanting to describe this as an ill-judged ride. However, the horse was so tenderly ridden until the 3rd-last fence that I think his trainer was ensuring he still had something to work with for Cheltenham. Remember, when he won the "Cleeve" Hurdle in 2015, he went to Cheltenham as the 5/1 fav for the Grade 1 "World" Hurdle over 3-miles and came home 2nd beaten by Cole Harden - a horse who has not won again since - so it's possible that trainer Paul Nicholls wanted to get plenty of work into this horse in preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Some will read this and say I'm just griping and that there are always hard-luck stories - that is the nature of placing wagers on horse-racing. And there is an element of that in this post, but I need to cleanse - draw a line under this jumps season and put it behind me. Writing this post is one of the steps that forms part of that process. The next will be formulating a way forward, and then finding a way of putting that into practise. What I do know is that what I've been doing this season while being good, just isn't good enough. Coming 2nd is not the same as winning.