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Grand National 2021

After Covid forced the abandonment of last year’s Grand National it’s great to see National Hunt racing’s greatest spectacle back this weekend

As with previous years I’ve picked out the key stats which have helped to find the winner in the past and they can be seen in table form below – Age, Experience, Weight, Number of Runs etc all having a bearing

With the age factor it’s worth noting that while 8yos used to have a bit of a disadvantage there have now been 3 winners from that age group in recent years. It’s therefore worth bearing in mind that is less of a negative than it used to be

This could be to do with the fences getting easier – something that along with better ground would assist higher weighted horses.

Ground at the moment would appear to be Good to Soft at time of writing (Thursday afternoon) with watering being done to keep it at that kind of level. Soft ground looks highly unlikely this year

Onto this year’s field and here is the table with stats applied – and some extra comments for each runner

GRAND NATIONAL 2021TOTAL PTSWEIGHT PTSSTAMINA PTSAGE PTSRuns this season 
Magic of Light10st 13lbs103322Excellent 66/1 2nd in this race 2019 – until then had looked doubtful stayer. Below form in her last race at Cheltenham Festival 
Acapella Bourgeois10st 12lbs103322Front runner and 3rd behind Burrows Saint in 2019 Irish National 
Potters Corner10st 6lbs103322 Lots of solid stamina form in past but preparation this year has hardly been smooth and form level needs to pick up a lot
Cloth Cap10st 5lbs103322Scottish national performance in 2019 gives him the stamina nod here. Much improved this term with front running performances and officially a stone well in after his last win 
Yala Enki11st 3lbs92322Fell at course last time. Gets no respite from handicapper for consistency – soft ground would suit
Ballyoptic11st 1lb 92322Out of form this season and mark is high on what he has done. Has fallen twice over this course. 2nd in Scottish national 2018 being theonly  positive for him here
Takingrisks10st 7lbs93312Admirably tough 12yo. Winner of Scottish national in 2019 (Cloth cap 3rd). Highest ever mark here. Might need softer ground to exploit his stamina 
Lord Du Mesnil10st 6lbs93312Lots of stamina but all best form at Haydock and in soft ground
Lake View Lad11st83122Brian Hughes gave him great ride to win at course earlier in year – but fences were removed by low sun then and they were on Mildmay course. Stamina to prove here 
Burrows Saint10st 13lbs83302Irish national winner back in 2019 and obviously trained with this race in mind ever since. Not quite as experienced over fences as would be ideal and all form is on RH tracks. Age 8 isnt quite ideal but as a French bred that isnt so bad as they progress earlier
Talkischeap10st 12lbs83320Impressive winner of Whitbread/bet 365 Trophy in 2019 but yet to return to same level of form 
Anibale Fly10st 12lbs833205th and 4th here before off higher weight after good performances in Gold Cup. Form has dropped this season markedly 
Kimberlite Candy10st 10lb 83320One prep run not ideal. Has the back form to be considered but that was off much lower weights and not sure he is a 153 horse. May also need soft ground
Any Second Now10st 9lbs83122Ted Walsh often tries unconventional prep on shorter trip (Papillon/Seabass). Stamina is ? 
Jett10st 7lbs83122 Seems fully exposed. Main positive would be having the rider with best record over national fences on top
Minellacelebration10st 5lbs83122Has had wind surgery since last run. Unseated rider over course in December. Seems to be in grip of handicapper now with a 148 rating 
Some Neck (1st reserve)10st 1lbs83122Cross Country specialist now 
Alpha Des Obeaux10st 9lbs73022Form going downwards 
Shattered Love10st 7lbs73022Not as good as he was and all best form is at 2,5 miles 
Milan Native10st 6lbs73112Hard to fancy orecent form off this mark 
Discorama10st 6lbs73310Surprising to see he is still only 8. Stamina proven but prep has been far from ideal this season
Vieux Lion Rouge10st 5lbs73112No horse has more experience on these fences but he has failed for stamina every time in this race. If it were shorter he would be a player. Top 10 finish must be very likely though 
Cabaret Queen10st 5lbs73022Pulled up last time. Looks badly handicapped 
Sub Lieutenant10st 3lbs73112In veteran stage now and all best form at much shorter trips
Double Shuffle10st 2lbs73022two runs over course don’t inspire 
Blaklion10st 2lbs731124th in 2017 when gfavourite (looked to fail through stamina). Not shown anything like same level of form in last few years
Secret Reprieve (2nd reserve)10st 1lbs733-12Welsh national winner but he remains very inexperienced and likely too young for this race
Definitly Red11st 1lb62112Fancied for this race in previous years but form is on the wane now at age of 12. Bets chances appear to have gone 
Tout Est Permis10st 12lbs63012fell in last race – not ideal coming here. Stamina also a big ?
Mister Malarky10st 12lbs63012For horse who looks to have stamina it’s interesting to see he has never won beyong 3 miles which is negative 
Balko Des Flos10st 9lbs63-122Form going downwards 
Ok Corral10st 8lbs63120Fragile sort
Class Conti10st 6lbs63-122Stamina a big negative
Canelo10st 4lbs63012Held by Takingrisks on Doncaster form – and doesn’t have the proven stamina that one has for this test 
Give Me A Copper10st 4lbs63120Pulled up last time and no recent form to recommend 
Hogan’s Height10st 3lbs63120Has won over track but much shorter trip
Minella Times10st 3lbs53-112 Rachael Blackmore’s mount – this will ensure a popular pick but will keep price low. Stamina has to be a doubt
Ami Desbois10st 2lbs53020 Falls badly on two key stats
Chris’s Dream11st 7lbs40022Too many negative stats to consider
Bristol de Mai11st 10lbs30120Class horse but all best form comes at Haydock and in soft ground
The Long Mile10st 4lbs33-1-12Stamina and age stats totally against him
Farclas10st 3lbs33-1-12Previous Triumph Hurdle winner (like Tiger Roll)…but stamina and age stats all against him 
GRAND NATIONAL 2021       

This is how the points are given out:

Weight. ( W )
11 stone or less a big positive = 3pts
11st 1lb to 11st 6lb – less of chance but still not insurmountable (particularly on decent ground) = 2pts
Over 11st 6lbs = 0 pts (1 on good ground)
Stamina (S)
It may seem obvious but there was a train of thought once that 2.5 mile horses were ideal for this (largely stemming from Fred Rimell/Gay Trip victory). There is nothing to back this up nowadays.
A winner over more than 3 miles is necessary so we give 1pt for that
Not having won over at least 3 miles in hurdles or chases is such a big negative to me that it carries MINUS 1pt
Proven stamina in a competitive National like Handicap (3ml 4fur or more) =3pts
Age (and Chasing experience) (A)
9,10 or 11 is the desired age bracket to have here and gets 2pts.
Since the turn of century (and not counting Red Marauder’s heavy ground freak race) that covers all but one winner (Bindaree 8yo in 2002), and all but 5 winners since 1980.
Those 8yos that have prevailed did have chasing experience on their side so get 1 pt if they have had at least 10 runs over the big fences
Streetwise 12yos can also triumph occasionally but would need a previous run over the National fences to get 1pt
A 7yo hasn’t won since 1940 so that has to be a big negative and gets MINUS 1pt. There have been 30 to try in this millennium and the best was Big Fella Thanks with 6th place in 2009.
13 and 14yos don’t often run and their price would reflect that they are past their prime. No points for them but don’t be surprised with a top 10 finish as National veterans Swing Bill and Hello Bud have done in the last 3 years
(Vics Canvas since finished 3rd as 13yo and arguably an unlucky loser after atrocious mistake at Bechers first time round)
Runs This Season (R)
When you realise that none of the last 24 winners came into the race without having at least 3 runs it has to be important and so is given 2pts. A run since Christmas is also important so we’ll take off a point for any that haven’t
These I think are the key statistics for which to base a scoring system and I will apply to each horse below. A total score of 10 pts is possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

We can see that 4 horses have the perfect fit from these rationale

CLOTH CAP

ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS

POTTERS CORNER

MAGIC OF LIGHT

From this list I must admit I find it hard to fancy the last two named on recent form. Magic of Light ran very poorly at Cheltenham and I am reluctant to back mares when they start to show a drop in form. She didn’t seem to enjoy being taken on in the lead there and she will get a lot more of that in this field. If she could replicate her 2019 second place she has every chance but I think she will struggle

Likewise, Potters Corner really hasn’t looked the same horse this season who previously displayed buckets of stamina to win Welsh and Midlands Grand Nationals. Christian Williams is a greta trainer but this would be a tour de force to get this one back – and softer ground would have undoubtedly been much better for him

This leaves us with two who I do like far more.

CLOTH CAP’s chance is obvious but the market knows that too with only around 4/1 on offer currently. I fully expect that to get a bit bigger come Friday night/Saturday morning to tempt in more money. His Scottish National 3rd in 2019 gives him the big stamina tick and his form this season has gone to a new level. His last win was so much of an improvement that if the handicapper had been able to adjust his weight he would be carrying a stone more here. Soft ground would be a negative for this one but the weather gods seem to be in his favour this year. Tom Scudamore has formed a great partnership with this horse this season and will never have a better chance to add to the Scudamore roll of honour in this race. His father Peter never managed to win but go back to 1959 and you will find grandfather Michael winning it on Oxo!

The negative (if there is one) is that he seems to like to front run and that means he’ll be right at the forefront of the traditional cavalry charge to the first fence. That’s when mistakes happen and I’ll be much happier when he has cleared a few as can see some early danger there. He has run in two similar first fence charge races without a problem (Hennessy Gold Cup/ladbroke Trophy and Scottish national) so fingers crossed he is streetwise to this

The last time I can remember a horse coming into this race so short and so well in was also a first fence victim – Double Thriller in 1999). Note that one drifted out to 7/1 on the day after being much shorter as the betting public considered him too short to bet

Fingers crossed he gets over the early obstacles and then gets into a nice rhythm up front – he’l be tough to beat if he does

ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS is a much better price and also a front runner (hopefully these two don’t take each other on and cut each other’s throats). I was slightly surprised to find him coming out as a perfect fit but had forgotten his excellent 3rd in 2019 Irish Grand National (behind Burrows saint). His defeat of Burrows Saint in February confirms his well being and he has the same mark here (so is also a few pounds well in). He is definitely an outsider to keep on side

Notes on all runners can be found on the table but three others of note to take out:

BURROWS SAINT (already mentioned) does have a lot of attributes needed but falls slightly short on age (as mentioned I think we can rule out that one – especially with early maturing French bred horses). His lack of chasing experience (only 9 runs) is a little more concerning – and with all his form on RH tracks we have another small seed of doubt

I have backed this one at bigger prices ante post and wouldn’t be surprised to see him win – he has looked such an obvious type since his Irish national win. However, on his form with Acapella Bourgeois on his last run there shouldn’t be the difference in price between them.

TAKINGRISKS would be a perfect fit if not for the fact he is now a 12yo and running off his highest ever mark. The 2019 Scottish National winner took his form to an even higher level last time and he certainly won’t be wanting for stamina. If anything he might have need slower ground to balance things out against some quicker types. Nicky Richards is not one to overrace his horses and he knows what is need to win this race.It may just be a step too far to win but I couldn’t put anyone off a small each ay bet on him with extra places being offered.

Lastly, there is no more experienced runner in this race over these fences than Vieux Lion Rouge. Stamina has just got in his way in the past but he’s won over the course twice over shorter trips. I can’t see him winning but if any firms offer Top 10 finish prices (and base them on outright odds) – he would be the one I would be most checking the price on

Suggestions from me then are:

CLOTH CAP (sorry not too original there)

ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS

Burrows Saint and Takingrisks wouldn’t be far behind and for those who like to back several in the race to consider

Note that SOME NECK and SECRET REPRIEVE are both reserves. Neither will get into the race unless another horse drops out before 1pm on Friday

**

Good luck with whatever you back – and let’s hope all the runners and riders come back safe this year

Paul

(For those wanting to experience the National fences before, Friday’s Topham Trophy over a shorter trip is an equally exciting race to watch. My shortlist here is:

 Huntsman Son (will love good ground – should get a hold up ride).

 Ravenhill Road (talented but injury prone family that I think also need good ground…this one has a lot of class when everything falls right for him). This stable with its showjumping background should have him primed for these fences

Storm Control.  Ran a great race at Cheltenham with some bold jumping frontrunning. Shorter trip here is no negative and if he jumps the same up front he will be a sight to watch here. Kerry Lee wouldn’t be running him unless she though he was over his Cheltenham exertions

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Gold Cup day

Day 3 saw some exceptional front running performance from Allaho and Flooring Porter. Prominent racers seemed to do pretty well all round and it’s an angle to keep in mind for the final day.

Rachael Blackmore is proving the star in the saddle at the Festival this week. Expect anything she rides on the final day to be well supported now

Thoughts for the final day of this year’s Festival:

1.20 Triumph Hurdle

Nothing has impressed me more in the juvenile division this year than ZANAHIYR’s success at Fairyhouse in November and I can’t oppose him here. He has had a break since Christmas (probably to avoid a hard race on deep ground) and if he is in the same form I’ll think he win this handsomely. The addition of a first-time tongue tie is something I wasn’t expecting and does plant one small question mark in my brain.

Alan King has had a great record in this race before and much of his quote of TRITONIC being his highest rated flat horse to go hurdling has been made. I find that a bit odd having seen his 7lb higher rated Scarlet Dragon hurdling before. His rating of 99 on the Flat makes him a decent type alright but I don’t think I’ve seen anything from him to make me think he will upset the favourite here

QUILIXIOS appeals more for second place but might have been suited more than the rest by a test on softer ground

SELECTION is ZANAHIYR though I think the value in his price has dried up now

***

1.55 County Hcap Hurdle

The Skelton team have a great record in this competitive race and field THIRD TIME LUCKI here. That record has undoubtedly forced his price down and I don’t see him in the same light as some previous Skelton winners who came into this on better handicap marks

I thought that Betfair Hurdle form would stand up better this week than it has and that now counts against FIFTY BALL (2nd), EDWARDSTONE (3rd), THYME WHITE (9th) and MILKWOOD (11th).

I think MILKWOOD will run better here as he may have needed that race after a break and should get the drier conditions he loves. However I do feel that a flat track may suit him better and the uphill finish is against him

GANAPATHI is dropped down considerably in trip and far too short for me at the front of the market (he does remian unexposed). Elsewhere from Ireland. YOU RAISED ME UP is progressive and breeding suggests the better ground should be right up his street. The handicapper hasn’t been kind with an 11lb hike from his latest Irish winning mark. Right at the bottom, CAPTAIN KANGAROO also appeals as the type who might benefit from better ground. He’ll have to brush up his jumping at this level but has a win over Wednesday’s Bumper second Klicruit if you go back on his CV.

In a very hard race, I will take a chance with a big outsider in LE PATRIOTE. At 9 years old he isn’t exactly under the radar but after a chasing spell this season he is back hurdling on a 5lb lower mark than when last in this sphere. That was when he was in last year’s Champion Hurdle and although finishing in the rear he didn’t run at all badly for a 100/1 shot

Good ground is most definitely a plus for this horse and he did win the competitive Swinton Hurdle off a 3lb higher mark in 2019. He also has winning form at this course. His trainer, Dr Newland is no fool in this sort of race and the 7lb claim from Cillin Leonard is no disadvantage in a race like this where every pound counts

RECOMMENDATION

A very tricky race but I’m happy to take a punt on LE PATRIOTE each way at 40/1+ with up to 7/8 places available if you shop around

***

2.30 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

Usually this is an attritional race and the best one to slog it out takes the prize. There is no standout performer here this year reflected in the fact that the top 8 rated runners sit within 4lbs of each other on official ratings. Additionally all of them have been performing on softer surfaces than they will see here so it’s a bit of guesswork who will come out best.

STATTLER came out ahead of FAKIERA and VANILLIER in the main Irish trial but that was over a shorter trip and the way FAKIERA finished suggested a reversal of form wouldn’t be a shock. VANILLIER ran badly that day but did have an excuse and wouldn’t be out of this either at big odds.

ADRIMEL impressed me most of the home contingent when stepped up in trip at Warwick giving the distinct impression he was just doing enough – a good trait to have in this race. He has only raced on soft but over this longer trip the ground may come to his aid if he can handle it.

STREETS OF DOYEN has course winning form and although a few more pounds behind on ratings he is the one who will know will appreciate the faster going

CONCLUSION

This is a very open race and hard to rule out anything completely as we are largely in the dark as to who will prosper or fall on the Spring ground. No Bet

****

3.05 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Blue Riband event would be so much easier to unravel if the ground were soft

I think the best performance in this race of recent years came from NATIVE RIVER back in 2018 and would be backing him again if by some miracle there was a deluge

On good ground he is likely to get outpaced but his presence at the front will still ensure a good pace with him and FRODON putting the others to the sword in the jumping department

FRODON would be a highly popular winner under regular rider Bryony Frost. He can operate on good ground but he is best when he can get all of his own way up front. He might not get that here with Native River in the race

AL BOUM PHOTO has won this race the last twice. Somehow he has never gripped the public imagination despite this feat. It could be that we just don’t see him on the racecourse enough but I also think having such a weird name doesn’t help his cause!

He again comes here with a strong chance but there is also a suspicion here he might want the ground to be a little bit softer

A PLUS TARD is going to be very popular and has good past form at the Festival at shorter trips. Rachael Blackmore being on board is what is keeping his price low now. Again I wonder here if he’s prefer a little bit more cut.

MINELLA INDO (rejected by Blackmore), unexposed ROYALE PAGAILLE and most definitely SANTINI are others whose best form has been on softer

I think on pure ability, CHAMP would come out top of the tree here. His preparation for this was unconventional in a two mile race but he did give Sceau Royal a scare there and that one was very unlucky not to go close in Wednesday’s Champion Chase. If that has taught him to jump at speed I think he is the horse to beat here but he has often been one who looks to lose concentration and can make mistakes. He can’t afford to do that here

Lastly, I have to mention LOSTINTRANSLATION. He was 3rd here last year and is the horse I think who should be best suited by the ground. The trouble is his form since then has not come anywhere close to the same level. Tizzard runners haave just started to come form this week after a dismal year – but it takes a leap of faith to hope he can come back to his best here

CONCLUSION

If he can get a blemish free jumping round I think CHAMP can win….but that is a big if! FRODON’s chances would increase greatly if NATIVE RIVER wasn’t in the race so take note if the drying ground doesn make the latter a Non Runner. For a real long priced punt then LOSTINTRANSLATION may be worth a tickle in the hope he does come back to his best form

As much as I am looking forward to this race, it won’t be because I have a heavy financial interest in it

***

3.40 Foxhunters Chase

The last race being run this week that would normally be the domain of Amateur riders. I would, in previous editions,  normally just be looking at Jamie Codd, Derek O’ Connor, Patrick Mullins et al mounts here as would expect them to judge the pace best. With professionals now on board we can expect a more evenly run contest

BOB AND CO is the main UK hope but I cant erase his performance from my head at warwick last year. His owner/rider couldn’t control him then and he was pulled up. He hasn’t been beaten since (in small fields) but there is a quirk there for sure.

RED INDIAN has good form but has shown too much of a liking for Soft ground for me. Favourite BILLAWAY also has jumping issues which puts me off him

My pick is LATENIGHTPASS who surprised many when winning a very strongly run Warwick race last time from the front. Warwick is more of a speed course than here but it has some of the stiffest fences in the UK and if you can jump there you should be fine here.  This one also has course winning form and more importantly he is back on the ground that seems to suit him best

He is another who has shown wayward tendencies in the past but I didn’t see any of that last time. He’s a prominent racing type and that seems to be a positive in recent days

RECOMMENDATION

Back LATENIGHTPASS each way with 4 places offered by most firms – 25/1 looks a value price to me here

****

The last two races on the card aren’t really tempting me from a betting angle

4.15 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase

A new race at the Festival and,  for me, quite a disappointing turnout. ELIMAY gave Allaho more of a race than anything managed to in the Ryanair today and her price tumbled on the back of his win. She is the standout contender and should win on form but a word of caution – she is quite a small mare and these fences will provide a test for her

Stablemate COLREEVY is the obvious danger but has to give weight away all round in a strange penalty structure for this race (why any ‘Championship’ race should have penalties baffles me)

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap

The ‘getting out ‘ race is far too difficult for me

GENTLEMAN DE MEE headsthe market and is totally unexposed. He could be thrown in but its impossible to tell on his form

LANGER DAN was very impressive at Sandown last weekend but that was over a shorter trip and on desperate ground.

There are several others at the head of the market who may be ahead of their marks and watching the betting to see where the money goes should be the best guide here

****

Thanks for reading the final post of the week and hope it’s been a successful one for all. I will be back again with the usual Grand National post the day before the race

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2021- Day 3

Halfway through the Festival now and we began with two well backed winning favourites for Ireland on Day 2. Backers of Monkfish at 1/4 (has there been such a low SP at the Festival?) might have had a few nervous moments st some fences though.

Chacun Pour Soi couldn’t continue the trend when facing a battle with the ultra tough mare Put The Kettle On. Sceau Royal might well gone close there but for nearly being brought down as the race was hotting up.

It was lovely to see Tiger Roll come back to form to win his 5th race at the Festival – but also sad that the owner has sulked and taken him out of the Grand National because he didn’t get the weight he wanted.

***

Day 3 thoughts:

1.20 Marsh Novices Chase

Another small field to start and in ENVOI ALLEN we have another short priced favourite. He’s unbeaten and twice already a winner at the festival. I can’t really oppose him (only potential negative being a recent stable change) but at least with 8 runners there is an each way angle. CHATHAM STREET LAD was very impressive on the course in a top handicap before Christmas and is the one I favour most to follow the favourite home

ASTERION FORLONGE caused carnage in the opening race last year. I don’t think anyone will want to be racing too close to him if he is still there coming down the hill in case his errant ways take over again

***

1.55 Pertemps Network Final

Another big field handicap and this race is always competitive. There is just one horse I have had in mind for this race for some time in SOUTHFIELD HARVEST. He comes from a successful family who tend to reach a mark of around 150+ and he looks to have been nicely teed up for this race off a mark of 138.

His brother Southfield Theatre was narrowly beaten in this race carrying 11st 11lb and like him the selection promises to be a thorough stayer. Paul Nicholls has been suggesting that soft ground will suit but with all the family preferring Good to Soft or better I am not too concerned about any drying ground. First time cheekpieces have also been notably applied for a race I think has been his aim all season.

CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM‘s eye-catching trial race last time was there for all to see and hasn’t been missed by the books with only around 6/1 being available – too short for me to back although it wouldn’t be a shock if he won

Of the big outsiders,  KEEPER HILL is thoroughly exposed but he is consistent and the type to creep into the frame if extra places are available (he has performed well at a higher grade than this before)

RECOMMENDATION

Back SOUTHFIELD HARVEST each way taking 6 places or more if possible

(unfortunately Southfield Harvest became a Non Runner this evening – reported as lame)

For smaller stakes I would also take a little on KEEPER HILL at 33/1 or more each way with 6 places or more

****

2.30 Ryanair Chase

ALLAHO carries my Ante Post hopes here but I was having a minor heart attack yesterday morning when he drifted to an alarmingly high 25/1 on Exchanges. It seemed people were expecting him to be a non runner but the scare was unjustified and he is back sharing favouritism again

The problem for him though is he likes to race from the front. So do his two stablemates, MIN and MELON. MIN won this last year and is the choice of stable jockey Paul Townend – but he does have to bounce back from being Pulled Up in his last race.) Then we also have IMPERIAL AURA and DASHEL DRASHER who have shown their best from from the front. It would be lovely to know how the Mullins team in particularly plan to do this one as all 3 of theirs may sulk if they don’t get their way

In theory this should set it up for closers like MISTER FISHER and SAINT CALVADOS ( a reformed character now who also used to be a tearaway front runner)

Despite likely to get his ground, I still have a doubt that Mister Fisher is quite up to this level. I have no doubting that Saint Calvados is. He looked the best horse in the King George over Christmas until stamina took over on the longer 3 mile trip. He was just beaten by MIN in this race last year – but that one was able to control the race then in a way he might struggle to this time

DASHEL DRASHER would appear a big price for a horse who has already won a Grade 1 race this year. He is a very likeable front runner but all of his best form comes at Ascot which is a totally different type of course to this

FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES was just beaten by todays Champion Chase heroine Put The Kettle On in the Arkle last year. That form alone entitles him to plenty of respect and he seemed to be coming back to form last time. He is another who has run from the front before but most of his form comes at 2 miles so may have to be ridden with more restraint here

CONCLUSION

I will be cheering on ALLAHO but the way the race is likely to be won I think may suit SAINT CALVADOS most. The performance of stablemate Rouge Vif today does give me some concern about stable form which prevents me from putting him up as a recommendation. I would love to know the inside line on how this race will be run from the 3 Mullins runners and without that I could easily have 6 or 7 on my shortlist here

Additional – Saint Calvados declared a Non Runner this evening due the going)

***

3.05 Stayers Hurdle

I was confidently expecting PAISLEY PARK to win this race last year but his disappointing run was subsequently found to be because of an irregular heartbeat. He has bounced back this year without looking quite so imperious.

A bit softer ground might have helped him here as there is a tendency for him to get outpaced in his races before his stamina kicks in

FLOORING PORTER is a strong challenger from Ireland but his wayward tendencies are definitely not going to be helped by having no running rail to race against here. He should ensure that this race is run at a decent pace though

It’s last years shock winner that I like most here – LISNAGAR OSCAR after his taking reappearance at Haydock after a wind op

Drying ground doesn’t worry me here as one of his most taking performances came on such a surface at Haydock as a novice

VINNDICATION is an interesting runner now back over hurdles. He definitely has the class to be a force in this division but for me his best form as always been at Right handed tracks and I would have rated his chances far more if this was at his beloved Ascot ( same applies to his good ground loving stablemate  YOUNEVERCALL)

SIRE DU BERLAIS and THE STORYTELLER were 1-2 off high weights in the Pertemps last year. Both have yet to prove themselves at Grade 1 level over hurdles but at the latter has done that over fences. I would prefer him of the 2 under current ground conditions

FURY ROAD is another for the shortlist as he represents the strong Albert Bartlett form line from last season. That’s been advertised this year by Monkfish and Thyme Hill who would have been marginal favourite for hit but for an injury setback last week. He might have just needed it when beaten by BEACON EDGE last time over an inadequate trip

The last 3 mentioned all come from the same ‘Sneezy’ Foster stable but we can’t glean much from jockey bookings here as all our ridden by either retained or regulars who get on well with them

CONCLUSION

LISNAGAR OSCAR edges it for me marginally at the prices over THE STORYTELLER and FURY ROAD. All would appeal at odds of 10/1 or over with 4 places available (5 places even available here with Skybet and Bar One racing). I think the 2020/21 version of paisley park could be vulnerable in the quicker conditions here

*****

4.10 Paddy Power Plate

MISTER WHITAKER has solid form in past festivals at this trip (3rd in this race last year) and was an early bet for me when odds were initially released at 25/1. That value has gone a bit now but I still cant see him being far away on ground that should suit. His Warwick reappearance after a long break looked a good pipe-opener for this where he wasn’t put in the race to win and ran on nicely at the end

The presence of THE SHUNTER in this race after having a multitude of entries has made a big change to . He has already won two very competitive hurdles this season and is equally adept over bigger fences. A 7lb claim from Jordan Gainford keeps him on a very attractive mark here

COOLE CODY is only 6lb higher than when winning the Paddy Power in November. He looed to need his last run and wouldn’t be out of this but I think a bit more juice in the ground would be needed for him

HAPPY DIVA was my selection in this race last year and ran a mighty race in 2nd (Mister Whitaker 3rd and only 1lb better off). I am surprised to see her in this race as I thought Friday’s Mares Chase was a better option but the drop in her mark to 145 may well have swayed the decision

She wasn’t in quite the same vein of form at the start of this year but she has been given a chance again here. Kerry Lee reported her gallops were in a bad state at the start of the year so I expect her to come on from here recent Warwick 3rd

Recommendation

Heart sometimes rules head with one of my favourite horses in training but I think the handicapper has given HAPPY DIVA another great chance here. Back her and MISTER WHITAKER each way. I will be very surprised if one/both not out of the frame with their previous records on the course

****

4.15 Mares Novice Hurdle

There was some good Irish money for GLENS OF ANTRIM last week. Her form doesn’t really merit her price but connections have to be respected and she should be improving.

HOOK UP’s last piece of form against the boys reads very well now but the drying ground is an unknown for her

TELMESOMETHINGGIRL has been a shortener in the betting today to continue the fine form of Henry De Bromhead /Rachael Blackmore this week. The form of her last run was boosted by HEAVEN HELP ME today but I do feel that one improved a lot from that Leopardstown run

I’m happy to side with the home team here and THE GLANCING QUEEN not she is back against her own sex. The ground was desperate at Exeter last time and I can excuse that defeat. Her hurdling technique has been very slick and her performances at this course before have always suggested she has a touch of class

RECOMMENDATION

THE GLANCING QUEEN appeals most for me at the current odds. Her sire Jeremy has thrown up a few winners already this week and the Good ground should hold no fears. She has drifted out to 12/1+today and 4 places and her course winning experience that makes most appeal

****

5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

Another race that is normally for Amateur riders that has been totally changed by having professionals this year

When the entries came out SHANTOU FLYER was my early pick but a 4lb rise for his Wincanton 2nd in a fairly ordinary race was harsh to say the least. That could make the difference here despite him obviously liking this course from past effort s here.

I picked HOLD THE NOTE in another race last year but have found him an exasperating character since and I don’t think this trip is right for him over this course. I think he’ll be flagging up the hill

I’m going back to the Kerry lee stable and hope that Happy Diva’s run earlier will confirm that the stable are in form. STORM CONTROL didn’t stay a longer trip last time but won well over this course twice before. He idled badly in front on his last win but was value for far more than the winning distance. Expect him to be prominent throughout again.

Last year’s race form might also have some bearing with KILFILUM CROSS (2nd), PLAN OF ATTACK (4th) and DEISE ABA (5th) reopposing. Bear in mind there are no Amateurs on board this year and the ground is better. Of those three I prefer PLAN OF ATTACK who sports first time blinker tomorrow and the not invaluable services of Rachael Blackmore this time

Recommendation

STORM CONTROL ew  (and maybe a double with Happy Diva earlier might be prudent in hope the stable are in the form I hope)

SHANTOU FLYER and PLAN OF ATTACK I can also see going close but as they are shorter prices provide marginally less value

****

Thanks for reading once more and good luck with whatever you back

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham 2021 – Day 2

It was officially Soft ground for the opening day but with drying conditions it soon became clear this description wasn’t accurate. Good to Soft or even possibly Good seemed more likely from race times and we could easily have purely Good ground on day 2 unless the Clark of the Course switches on his hosepipes

Appreciate It, Shishkin and Honeysuckle all were impressive favourites but Black Tears saved the books from a complete thumping by turning over the other hot favourite Concertista.

It was pleasing to see an old favourite Vintage Clouds finally win at the Festival – but bittersweet for me as I have put him up for the same race before and ignored him this time.

If anyone could fine the 80/1 Winner in the Boodles then you don’t need my help!

****

Onto Day 2:

1.20 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Another much smaller field than usual for this race but the three main contenders are still here and are hard to split in the market . None of them have course experience to count as an advantage. With only 7 runners the each way possibilities here have been limited as only 2 places will be paid (except Betfair Sportsbook who offer an extra place

BOB OLINGER is favoured in the betting. He has only been beaten once over an inadequate trip and his price has dropped ever since top amateur Jamie Codd called him a ‘god given certainty’ in a recent preview. Since he tipped up outsider Labaik to win a couple of seasons ago, ‘the word of Codd’ has often had a big bearing on the market.

GAILLARD DU MESNIL represent the powerful Mullins stable and was impressive in his trial at Leopardstown. That was over a longer trip and against Stayers. He was edging favouritism for this race until Codd’s remarks came out.

BRAVEMANSGAME represents the home side and has drawn comparisons with the same stable’s mighty Denman. He also was beaten first time up over a shorter trip but has flourished since being stepped up in distance. He was very impressive in winning the Challow Hurdle and that form looks the best coming into this to me. A word of warning though – Challow winners have a terrible record in this race (Denman won that and was beaten in this too). I think that stat is having a bearing on his price here. Other than that I feel he should be slight favourite here.

BEAR GHYLLS also comes here unbeaten and adds a further bit of intrigue. He would be a shorter price if trained by a bigger stable but his form doesn’t quite stack up the same level yet

KESKONRISK steps up from the 2 mile division and could hav a touch of extra pace that could threaten if the pace is slow

CONCLUSION

I marginally favour Bravemansgame as he is the biggest price and I think they all have a similar chance. The better ground is a slight concern for all 3 at the head of the market and will largely keep this to being a race to watch rather than to bet on.

****

1.55 Brown Advisory  Novices Chase (formerly RSA Chase)

Only 6 runners here and MONKFISH has been so impressive in this division this year that I can’t see any other winner bar any mishaps happening in the race. He looks every inch a Gold Cup horse for next year. He’s already very short in the market though at around 2/5 and so not one to get rich by backing

****

2.30 Coral Cup

Competitive handicap time again here and two of them stand out for my shortlist here. There will be some competition with firms to offer extra places here. 4 places is the norm for 16+ runner handicaps but up to 7 places are available if you shop around

Top weight THOMAS DARBY might be up against it to concede weight all around on the face of it but he did do similar in a good handicap at Ascot last season. He also has that touch of class on past form (2nd in Supreme Novices in past) and if the ground isn’t too soft I think he is a big contender here . (Its also interesting he is wearing first time cheekpieces here )

The Betfair Hurdle used to be a key guide to this race. It hasn’t quite been such a clue in recent years but GUARD YOUR DREAMS ran an extraordinary race in it this year. He was looking like last place was booked for him before the home turn but ran on really strongly in the closing stages to finish an eyecatching 6th. He is unproven over this trip but it looked for all the world like he needed further there

Recommendations

Back THOMAS DARBY and GUARD YOUR DREAMS each way taking 6 or 7 places if at all possible

*****

3.05 Champion Chase

The two mile division has a standout performer in CHACUN POUR SOI this season. If this race was at Leopardstown he would be half of the price he is here – it’s the fact he has never raced over this course which keeps his price high. His form is also all on softer ground than he is now likely to meet here

It would be no shock to see him surmount these two obstacles and outclass them still here but at a shade of odds on he is too short for me

POLITOLOGUE won a possibly sub standard renewal last year but was impressive doing it. I think he can reverse Ascot form with FIRST FLOW ( not convinced by the latter’s course form here and may need deeper ground)

NUBE NEGRA hasn’t got home on this track in past seasons. He’s a better horse this season but I think a flat track will always suit him best

PUT THE KETTLE On has never run badly here and I couldn’t put you off each way on here. Each way options would also be there for SCEAU ROYAL and ROUGE VIF if they get their favoured good ground. The latter is particularly interesting at 28/1 if we can forget his two latest runs on soft ground. His previous win here on Good ground was deeply impressive – albeit giving weight to handicappers.

CONCLUSION

With a couple of doubts in my mind about the favourite I’d be looking at two bigger priced each way selections here in anticipation they might get the Good ground they both need. SCEAU ROYAL has gone close in this before without getting that ground and 16/1 is fair for him. ROUGE VIF is an even better 28/1 and would be my other.

The Betting without the Favourite market may also be one to look on tomorrow here with these two selections if the price on Chacun Pour Soi continues to drop

******

3.40 Cross Country Chase

‘Put the Kettle On’ comes to mind again here…but not the horse!

This isn’t really my race but for those wanting an interest SOME NECK has won over this course before and would be my idea of one for each way multiples with firms offering 4 places

****

4.15 Grand Annual Hcap Chase

This race is normally run on the final day and over the stiffer New Course. Normally they do very fast and the front runners come back. Over the Old Course they might just be able to stay away. The change in circumstances probably makes recent stats fairly irrelevant

Two against the field again for me here at decent prices

Joseph O’Brien holds a strong hand here with EMBITTERED and ENTOUCAS at the front of the betting . Both are novices however and plenty short enough in a race that is likely to test their jumping experience to the full. My eye is drawn more to last years 3rd US AND THEM. He hasn’t shown that much this season but I suspect Spring festivals have always been the plan with him (also 2nd in Arkle in 2019). I like that JJ Slevin has kept the ride on him.

ON THE SLOPES was a progressive novice last season but disappointed at the start of this season when not getting home as well as he did last season. He has had Wind Surgery since and then a pipe opener in a flat race at Kempton. He likes to race prominently so should be suited to the different conditions this year. The addition of a tongue tie is a further boon in helping him to get back to the level he was promising at the end of last season

DUC DES GENIEVRES also is worth a mention at big odds. He comfortably beat US AND THEM here in the 2019 Arkle but hasn’t backed up that form too often since. He showed here earlier in the season that he still has ability though and it’s interesting that his usual work rider Lorcan Williams gets the leg-up today. Given some comments from the trainer that he gets on really well with him I wouldn’t be taking the riding arrangements as a negative here (and a 3lb riding allowance if also welcome

Recommendations

Back US AND THEM and ON THE SLOPES each way – again looking for firms offering extra places. There has been some money for the latter already this evening and earlier shows of 25/1 seem to have now disappeared

****

4.50 Champion Bumper

KILCRUIT and SIR GERHARD have dominated the market for this race for some time. Both have been massively impressive this season and its not surprising they are both trading at short odds.

Both are trained by Willie Mullins but he only inherited SIR GERHARD recently when he was removed from the Gordon Elliott stable. That probably isn’t ideal for his preparation here.

THREE STRIPE LIFE was Sir Gerhard’s stablemate but he didn’t have to move yards. You couldn’t knock the way he won on his only start and I don’t get the impression he was rated that far behind his erstwhile stablemate. At the prices I think the value lies with him – and with some firms offering 4 places I think connections will be very disappointed if he doesn’t collect some place money at least

RECOMMENDATION

THREE STRIPE LIFE each way with 4 places

******

That’s day 2 thoughts concluded – I’ll be back again tomorrow evening with day 3’s picks

Thanks for reading once more – and good luck

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2021- Day 1

Welcome back all to my blog for another stab at this year’s Cheltenham Festival!

National Hunt Racing has been through a turbulent time of late but hopefully this year’s meeting will help to mend a slightly tarnished reputation

Covid will again be having an impact this year. In particular field sizes are going to be noticeable diminished in some races. With owners not able to attend the meeting there is going be a lack of ‘social’ runners whereby being able to attend your horse in the paddock was an attraction to run for many in the past. This is likely to be reflected in a number of very short priced favourites…and many may well win. It’s not really my style to put up very short prices but will still endeavour to pick out some value where it exists

I’ve covered some notable statistics to pinpoint winners in past years posts.  For a thorough look at these I can once more strongly recommend  www.gaultstats.com for a far more comprehensive job. There is a lot to digest here but careful study can reap rewards – but do remember to contribute to it if you do

Again this year’s blogs will be kept quite concise due to time limitations. Comparison of odds and place terms can always be found at www.oddschecker.com.  Extra places being offered by some firms will be seen here. There can be some very generous offers to take advantage of..but with field sizes reduced these may be harder to find this year

The state of the ground is again going to be vital in making selections. For most of this century, Good to Soft or Good ground was fairly standard to start the week. In the last 2/3 years it has been wetter and we have started on Soft. The lead up this year hasn’t been quite as wet and we were starting to look like some watering of the course was necessary to obtain a safe Good to Soft start on Day 1. However,  with 10mm of rain falling on Sunday night that may not now happen. Ground conditions will be updated throughout the week here: https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/cheltenham/owners-and-trainers/the-going/

As I write it is Soft (Good to Soft in places). With some drying conditions to come I am working on Good to Soft as the likely starting point (with maybe Good ground being possible in places if no further rain and no watering)

********************************************************

Onto the action for Day 1:

1.20 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle

An early taste of things to come with field size.  8 runners are declared – the smallest field I’ve seen in 40 years+ of watching Festival openers

APPRECIATE IT is a justified Irish trained favourite having won all of his starts this year. He holds both BALLYADAM and BLUE LORD on that form. Of the principals, he is the only horse to have proven himself on the course having finished second in last year’s Bumper. He was beaten for a turn of foot that day and if this were a slowly run race that could be an Achilles heel again. However he won’t need to make his own pace here with guaranteed trailblazer FOR PLEASURE in the field. The presence of this outsider is a big help to him I feel. All of Appreciate It’s form is on soft ground so Good to Soft or better could count against him…but we can say that for others as well. Some feel  that BALLYADAM’s chances could be improved by better ground. Without any actual evidence in the form book to prove that though, I would be able to back him ( a recent stable move from Elliott stable also a potential negative)

METIER’s form is also all on Soft/Heavy ground. As impressive as he has been on that going he is also passed over as I’m still unconvinced by the level he has actually been beating.

The danger for me – and each way pick (whilst there are 8 runners and 3 places are paid – it would revert to 2 if we went down to 7) is SOARING GLORY. On the face of it his Betfair Hurdle win off a mark of 133 would still give him something to prove on ratings. That was an exceptionally well run race though (For Pleasure there again to force the pace) and he was impressive in beating some far more experienced types. There are similarities with the same stable Get Me Out of Here who won the same race off 135 before finishing a very close second in this race (in an arguably stronger renewal as well). With better ground looking to be a plus for him he rates the potential value here

Previously mentioned FOR PLEASURE remains a key horse in this race. He was given too much rope in the lead when winning here earlier in the season. If you wanted a wild outsider, you would be hoping the rest forget about him again. I can’t see that happening here but his presence should ensure a well run race

Conclusion

APPRECIATE IT rates as much the likeliest winner but at odds marginally above Evens, I’d rather be taking a chance on SOARING GLORY each way at around 8/1 (as long as there are 8 runners and 3 places paid)

********

1.55 Arkle Trophy

Only 6 runners here and the shine was taken off this a bit when potential second fav Energumene was ruled out last week. He and ALLMANKIND would have been vyijng for the lead.  That scenario could have been perfect for favourite SHISHKIN to then come and pick them off

Shishkin was about Evens before that withdrawal but is now half that price at 1/2. He will be hard to beat but with ALLMANKIND now having much less competition up front it does add a tactical issue that Shishkin’s rider Nico de Boinville probably could have done without.

It’s quite likely the other runners will be ridden from behind to try and benefit from errors. CAPTAIN GUINNESS would be my pick to come out best of these though I think second place is the best he could get here

Conclusion

SHISHKIN should win but I cant back him at prohibitive odds. Expect ALLMANKIND to be testing them all from some way out and if he can get away from thm and lead others into mistakes a shock is possible. This race is on the Old Course which will help him to last home better up the hill

******

2.30 Ultima Handicap Chase

As mentioned in previous years, I tend to gravitate towards the lower weights in this race.

The counts against the admirable Scottish trained challenger AYE RIGHT who carries 11st 8lbs. I still think he can go close as he done in two similarly strong handicap races this season. Those efforts have seen his mark creep up 4lbs but the booking of Richard Johnson is a plus.

Weight also says me against MILAN NATIVE a winner at the Festival last year off an 8lb lower mark. Additionally, Irish trained runners have a terrible record in this race

HAPPYGOLUCKY starts favourite and is progressive but I’m not sure if his overall form and a mark of 147 entitles him to be quite as short as he is. I think the memories of Imperial Aura’s win at the Festival last year when being above his mark may be shortening this one’s odds to some degree

I’ve put up VINTAGE CLOUDS in this race before and he has performed well in it but he appears to be on a downward curve now

Of the lower weights this year it is ONE FOR THE TEAM who stands out this year. Nick Williams has won this race with a novice chaser before in Coo Star Sivola and the booking of Tom Scudamore is a plus.

The negative is that this horse hasn’t run on the course before but much his best form last season came when the ground improved in Spring (his family all were better on better ground). I’m happy to ignore his last run at Doncaster when the ground was far too soft for him. Earlier form makes his mark of 140 potentially very workable here

CONCLUSION

ONE FOR THE TEAM is top of my shortlist here but AYE RIGHT should be hard to keep out of frame. Extra places are quite likely to be offered in this race for each way value hunters

*******

3.05 Champion Hurdle

Thankfully small fields haven’t affected the big race of the day where we have a cracking renewal.

I can make a case for  5 or 6 in this field which in itself makes me think it’s not one to go into with a gung-ho attitude to betting

HONEYSUCKLE is a justified favourite. She is unbeaten and was never better than in her last 10 length defeat of ABACADABRAS ( should expect improvement to come from this one ) and SHARJAH.

Stamina is her strong suit and she’ll be one of several pace angles here. GOSHEN, ASPIRE TOWER, SILVER STREAK and NOT SO SLEEPY have also all shown best form from racing at the front.

A strong pace seems guaranteed and this scenario might often suit hold up types (EPATANTE, ABACADABRAS and SHARJAH). That happens when the front runners can’t keep up the gallop and are picked off but such is the strength of those prominent racers that I think they could get away too much

GOSHEN certainly didn’t falter after a duel with Allmankind up front in last year’s Triumph Hurdle before a really unlucky last hurdle mishap robbed him of victory. His season started poorly but he seemed to be back to his best last time. I just have a long held view that 5yos are at a disadvantage in this race that sways me against him

Of the holdup types, I prefer ABACADABRAS but would have preferred to see sidelined Davy Russell on board. Last year’s winner EPATANTE had excuses with a back issue last time when beaten by SILVER STREAK and I have too many doubts about her in my head after that performance

It is the victor in that race, the likeable grey SILVER STREAK who appeals as best value to me at current odds of around 14/1. I did put him up for this race last year but the soft ground turned all against him. However, all of his performances this season point to an individual who has improved by some degree. It might be strange to say that for an 8 year old but it’s not that long since another grey Rooster Booster improved drastically at the age of 9 to demolish his rivals in this race

I’m not expecting that kind of performance here but as Evan Williams charge is versatile and doesn’t have to lead, I think he can sit just behind the pace here and the race will be run to suit him. Again this selection is reliant on the forecast being right and the ground is Good to Soft or better

Finally, its really hard to ignore the value being given on this race by William Hill who offer 1/5th odds for 5 places each way. Standard would be 3 places for 10 runners. It’s impossible not to get value whatever you back on these terms (even getting 4 places makes a massive difference to each way bets). To have no margin for themselves they would need to have 500% on the place odds from their book. At cuurent odds I make them 353%. They are massively underround here and the advantage is all on the puter side

RECOMMENDATION

SILVER STREAK 12/1 EW (with Wiilliam Hill offering 1/5 odds 12345)

********

3.40 The Mares Hurdle

Plenty of past Festival form to work here

ROKSANA won this race two years ago and was 4th last year in a much stronger renewal

CONCERTISTA won the Mares Novice Hurdle very impressively here last season  from DOLCITA (run over half a mile shorter trip). She had been second in same race the year before with BLACK TEARS and INDEFATIGABLE  just behind in 4th and 5th

DAME DE COMPAGNIE beat BLACK TEARS in last years Coral Cup but is 4lb worse off, while INDEFATIGABLE won the Martin Pipe Hurdle

In short we have many runners here with proven course form.

Much will depend on how this race is run. CONCERTISTA seems more about speed and arguable better at a shorter trip ( I did see her outstayed by Black Tears at Leopardstown last year but has undoubtedly improved since).

ROKSANA now may prefer 3 miles so she will need a strong pace for her stamina to come to the fore.

I’m not sure if there is a strong front runner in this field so am swayed towards the chances of CONCERTISTA  because of that but think she is too short a price at a current max of 11/8

CONCLUSIONS

Not really a betting race for me. I have backed BLACK TEARS each way but at bigger prices than that available now as think she has the same chance as Dame de Compagnie. I can see BetVictor offer 4 places here so that would be the pace to head for each way bettors at the moment

******

4.15 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

Always a tricky race. Having the best Flat rating used to help but being French bred then took over as the main stat

SAINT SAM appeared to show improved form last time when having his own way up front (BUSSELTON  4lb better off for 4 length beating when ridden a bit quieter than his previous run ). He won’t get that here with the free rolling/slick jumping CABOT CLIFFS in the field. The two could well conspire to each others downfall

SAGE ADVICE appeals as the type who could improve now he is back on better ground and is well in with Cabot Cliffs on earlier Warwick form. His jumping looked to need some improvement there and that would worry me in a well run race here. watch out for any market move on him from his shrewd stable

HOUX GRIS has been well touted for this race but if you fancy him you also have to fancy HOMME PUBLIC at bigger odds as they are so closely linked on French form. It is just who trains them that dictates the price disparity here…but the Greenall stable in being underrated with the odds

CONCLUSION

HOMME PUBLIC would have been a recommendation and was chalked up at 33/1 by some firms yesterday. Unfortunately that didn’t last and at current odds of 14/1 the value has dried up. BUSSELTON may be able to reverse Leopardstown placings with SAINT SAM with the way this race is run. Only small interests for me in this race but with some firms offering 6 places there is some extra value to be had on the each way options

*******

4.50 National Hunt Chase

With no Amateur riders this year this is the first race of 3 this week that will have a completely different complexion and we may be able to ignore stats to some degree.

GALVIN has been touted for some time as a long term plot – but that was when he was trained by Gordon Elliott and was going to have Davy Russell on board. His stamina has to be taken on trust but the change in his stable alone could see him drift in the market. I won’t be a backer

NEXT DESTINATION arguably has the best form and is now rightly becoming favourite for the race. He has been difficult to train in recent years and I’m not sure any drying of the ground will be in his favour

REMASTERED won a substandard Reynoldstown Chase this year but impressed with both his jumping and stamina there. Again he may be best sited by softer ground though

ESCARIA TEN is also largely having soft ground form but appeals as the type who could improve plenty for this extended trip

I don’t understand why LORD ROYAL is a single figure price at all in this race on what he has done this season

CONCLUSION

No strong view here but I’m marginally preferring ESCARIA TEN. His owners sponsor the Ultima Chase earlier in day and they could have gone there. It’s notable that they have gone for the race that they think suits him

*****

The blog will return on Tuesday evening to look further at Wednesday’s card

In the meantime, thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you end up backing

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Gold Cup Day

An ‘up and down’ week for the blog so far.  A great run from Happy Diva nearly sealed the day on Thursday but with one winner and some big priced places it wasn’t so bad

The performance of Paisley Park was the shock of the day. If anyone managed to find 50/1 winner Lisnagar Oscar in that race I’ll happily raise my hat to them

There are a few in form stables appearing…and a few whose form isn’t quite what I’d want to see. I’ll touch on some of those below


Thoughts for the final day of this year’s Festival:

 

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

The championship hurdling race for 4yo ‘juveniles’ kicks off proceedings and this years renewal looks sure to be run at a strong gallop

Allmankind, Aspire Tower, Goshen and Solo have all won trial races from the front and there is every chance they might kill each other’s chances off here if racing too hard.

Allmankind shouldn’t be winning in the style he has done given he races so freely from the front but somehow he is finding extra reserves each time. There is something of a freak about this horse and we still can’t really tell how good he is. It’s hard to see any of the others being able to lead him here as his hurdling is very slick. He also has winning course form on his side.

Aspire Tower’s preparation took a dent when falling last time out at Leopardstown. He was being seriously challenged by Cerberus at the time (that one held by Allmankind on Chepstow form). Before then he had looked clearly best of the Irish challenge.

That fall should have given the race to Cerberus but he then seemed to stop himself when being in front too soon and A Wave Of the Sea was able to catch him on the run in. Whilst the latter may appreciate the strongly run race and uphill finish here it looked more of a case of Cerberus losing the race to me.

Cerberus might have an outside chance in that regard but we have to worry about him in a soft ground uphill finish now

Goshen is another who has looked very classy with some wide margin wins from the front. He has been taken on and doesn’t seem to mind that – so I can envisage him being happy to sit behind the pace. The big concern is that all his wins have been on right hand tracks and he has shown a tendency to jump to the right. We have already seen with Asterion Forlonges this week how such a tendency can be a huge detriment here. Goshen’s jumping isn’t quite as slick as some as the others but he undoubtedly has a big engine

Solo is narrow favourite after bursting onto the scene with an impressive Kempton win last month ( race that has often thrown up Triumph winners)

The handicapper seemed to think he was the next coming when giving him an astonishing  mark of 157 after that. I have to question what he beat though with a clutch of low 120 rated horses in the field battling for third place.  He could win but is certainly not one for me at current odds

There are some quirky but very talented types here and the impact of the huge crowd here is also worth considering.

I’m not envisaging this as a confident betting heat and am therefore reluctant to make a recommendation

If this were a a right handed track I am sure Goshen would be a clear favourite. On this track, I give a marginal edge to Allmankind but it’s worth remembering the Triumph is run over a furlong more than his course win here.

Recommendation in these circumstances in NO BET


2.10 County Hcap Hurdle

Another competitive handicap hurdle.

We can assume that Mohaayed has been trained for this race. He has raced in it for the past 3 seasons and won it in 2018 off a mark of 139. He tried again last year but was only seventh from a much higher 153 mark and carrying top weight. That was a decent enough performance but he now comes here having dropped back down to 142. We should note that he has also had wind surgery since his last run so whether he retains the same ability is questionable

The JP MacManus/Barry Geraghty combo have already had a great week and here they team up with the highly unexposed Saint Roi.

This one has been well backed today and is down to around 6/1. It’s impossible to know if his mark of 137 is fair or not on what we have seen. His comparative lack of experience for a race like this is a negative and the price drop could be more about the jockey

In the same colours, Ciel De Neige is a much more solid proposition. He was placed here last year and narrowly beaten in the valuable Tote Gold Trophy. The softer ground here will suit him more than Sir Valentine who finished just behind. Off only a 4lb higher mark he has to go to the top of my shortlist

Back in 8th at Newbury was Stolen Silver who had no chance turning in but picked up very strongly in the closing stages.

The softer ground and uphill finish will be massively in this ones favour – as long as there is a decent gallop in this race. We cant guarantee there will be a good pace here but I doubt many will be finishing as strongly as this one up the hill.

It should also be noted that connections purposely skipped the Supreme Novices earlier this week to run this horse in this event

Aramon is also high up in the betting for Team Mullins. He has strong form in graded company but having seen him in the flesh he doesnt appeal as the type to be carrying a huge weight so I’m passing him over here

Recommendations

Relying on what looks strong form last time (and two horse who have already proven themselves on this course)

CIEL DE NEIGE and STOLEN SILVER both Each Way (again look for best price with extra places)


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (or to give it its affectionate name – the ‘Spud’ race)

A race that has thrown up a mixture of top class winners and some shock ones who have never reached the same heights again

Over 3 miles it can be a big test for a novice and sometimes class can be outweighed by the combination of experience/bottomless stamina

If the ground is very soft then the one who ideally fits the latter scenario is Ramses de Teillee. He was a good second in the Welsh National last year and has found great success back over the smaller obstacles this year.

He completely outstayed his rivals last time and if this race does turn into a war of attrition you would want him on your side

Monkfish looks the main contender from team Mullins and although he has yet to win over this trip look another whose forte will be stamina. The stable also field a similar type in Aione at bigger odds

Harry Senior in contrast looked to be winning over his correct trip here last time and I am a bit surprised to see him being upped to 3 miles – I am not sure he needs that at this stage of his carrer. Tizzard stable form this week is also a slight concern

The class angle for me comes from Thyme Hill and Latest Exhibition.

Thyme Hil was 3rd in the very hot Bumper at last years festival. He is unbeaten over hurdles this season and is the sort who will always do just enough to win his races. The trip is also new to him and whether it might stretch a bit too far is a concern – as is Philip Hobbs stable form this week. Both Defi du Seuil and Sporting John were way below expected levels so I have concerns in that regard.

This leaves Latest Exhibition as my main selection. He has mixed it with some very good types this season but has always looked like he needs a trip. His Leopardstown win last time (Cobblers Way held) is the best Irish form coming into this race. The race wasn’t run to suit him but it was stamina that got him home ultimately

This would be one of the most popular winners of the week for Ireland if Paul Nolan’s career were to get back into the spotlight with his stable star. I expect him to be well backed and to be favourite for this race come post time

The presence of quirky front runner The Cashel Man in this race should also insure there are no prisoners taken in this years renewal

Recommendation

LATEST EXHIBITION


3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

The centrepiece race of the meeting has Al Boum Photo returning to the scene of his triumph last year

As in the previous year, the presence of Native River in that race ensured a true gallop throughout and Al Boum Photo was able to pick them all off in a well run race

Al Boum Photo has had a quiet but smooth preparation again and he is going to take some beating. The recent record of winners defending their crown here is far from great though

There is no Native River this year and so the question of pace arises. With the possible exception of outsider Elegant Escape there would seem to be only one confirmed front runner in the race – Bristol de Mai.

What this horse does and what pace he sets will have plenty of bearing on the outcome

Bristol de Mai has run well enough here before but all of his best form has come on soft ground at Haydock. He had to give second best there earlier in the season to Lostintranslation – a performance which saw the latter verge on favourite for this race soon after.

That idea soon became less attractive after a poor effort in the King George Chase behind Clan Des Obeaux. He was beaten a long way out and his jumping wasn’t anywhere as impressive as normal

The Tizzard camp seem happy again with him now but they are another stable who don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders this week. With this and a less than perfect preparation I’ll have to pass on their main contender here.

Clan Des Obeaux was imperious in that King George – as he was the season before. If this race was run at Kempton he would be the favourite but for all the bullishness that has come from the Paul Nicholls camp I can’t pick him here. He may turn up her fresher than last year but he has never looked as if the uphill finish here is his cup of tea

Last years novice brigade bring two more strong contenders to the fray in Delta Work and Santini.

Delta Work undoubtedly has the strongest Irish graded chase form this season but he has some form to make up on Santini from last years RSA.

Nicky Henderson’s Santini was 2nd (Topof thegame the winner sadly out through injury this season) in that race nearly 2 lengths ahead. That came after his preparation had been badly affected by flu jabs and I’m inclined to mark his performance up – he also lost a shoe in the race!

Santini’s reappearance effort at Sandown was far from encouraging and anyone holding ante post tickets for this race might well have been inclined to tear them up

His win over this course in January when defeating Bristol de Mai erased all of those fears and it is that race that looks the best trial that I have seen this year.

There seem to be a lot of judges crabbing him as a slow horse still but he has long looked an ideal type for this race to me.

Capturesantini

Question marks of him being able to lay up off a strong pace aren’t concerning to me since the one he should have to be following is the horse he beat last time

With so many others willing to question his ability I can see his price drifting but he is a clear pick for me to win chasing’s Blue Riband event

Recommendation

SANTINI


4.10 Foxhunters Chase

As in previous years this isn’t a race for me to comment on too much – I don’t follow the point to point scene well enough to have a firm opinion. Amateur rider angle would lead us towards Minella Rocco has has previous Festival  winning form and the services of the excellent Derek O’Connor

This one once looked a future Gold Cup winner but went badly downhill and his jumping went to pot. He has suddenly found some form again but it’s only on his last run you can get excited about his chance when beating last years champion Hazel Hill

Last years second Shantou Flyer also returns and is the pick of several runners that could have run in this for his enigmatic owner David Maxwell

Mr Maxwell wouldn’t be the most stylish rider in the field by any stretch but with his horse having an ideal prep and good previous course form I make him an each way pick. I’m never going to be his biggest fan but its hard to crab the number of winners he does ride – and I have seen far worse successful in this race (…cue quick reminiscence of The Drunken Duck’s win in 1982)

Billaway is the real dark horse in the field for Team Mullins but its hard for me to get a handle on this ones form

Recommendation

SHANTOU FLYER each way for smaller stakes – look for any firms offering 4 places and hopefully 10/1 being available


 

4.50 Grand Annual Hcap

I’ve already covered my selection for this race in Tuesday’s blog when selecting the novice LISP.

He has been one of my main bets this week and the only reservation I have is the form of some of the King stable runners earlier this week.

He jumps exceptionally well for a novice and should be much better suited coming off a strong pace than by having to make the running as he did last time (where he still put in an excellent effort)

The only thing that worries me is the form of the Alan King stable this week. Edwardstone ran ok in Tuesday’s Supreme but a few others have underperformed.

He has been a confident selection for this race but maybe has dropped to 4 stars instead of 5 with that little niggling thought in the background now

 


5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap

The’ getting out’ handicap for many and if no luck by this time I fear this race will be not any easier in making the situation any better

It’s been won by many in the past who have crept in with nice marks and gone onto graded race successes.

Last years winning team is represented by Front View but at around 5/1 no chances are being taken by firms that he will win. His mark of 139 is fair though

Gordon Elliott always targets this race as its run in the name of his old boss. Column of Fire looks to be his main contender this year but I think his trainer would have liked to see him get in with a mark lower than 143

Gordon also managed to squeak the reserve Escaria Ten into the race today by making another of his a non runner. That’s almost a tip in itself but the price soon collapsed today when this became apparent

Pileon is a strong contender for the home team and has good course form. His recent wins indicate he is on an upward curve and a mark of 138 could underestimate him. He also has the services of one the best conditional riders in the race in Ben Jones.

Stable form is a concern here and the running of Thyme Hill earlier in the day would be an influence here for me

At bigger three other for my shortlist would be Umbrigado and  the Kim Bailey pair Espoir De Romay and Happygolucky

David Pipe has obvious connections to this race and there has always been suggestions that Umbrigado has been rated better than this level. He lost a show when a disappointing favourite last time so could be excused that performance

The biggest clue for me that he is fancied for this is the booking of the excellent Jack Tudor for the ride

Espoir de Romay is definitely one to follow as a chaser but he had so much in hand last time that I think quotes of 25/1 are underestimating his chance here. He may still be a bit inexperienced for a race like this but that is built into the price

A similar comment applies to Happygolucky who isn’t badly trated for me off 137 on his earlier course form. He got bogged down in very soft ground last time and is likely to be ridden less aggressively here

A shortlist for this tricky race for me is

FRONT VIEW

ESCARIA TEN

UMBRIGADO

ESPOIR DE ROMAY

HAPPYGOLUCKY

 

With Front View being a bit too short and the value probably gone on Escaria Ten, I think the value probably appears in the other three for each way betting/extra places


Thanks for reading the final post of the week. I hope it’s been profitable and informative and we can finish with a flourish

Blog will be back for its usual Grand National posting the day before the big race – as long as that race is on! With current Corona Virus situation that is beginning to look doubtful this year

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 3

Anticipated drying out of the ground didn’t really materialise on Day 2. Times remained slow and many were struggling to finish up the hill. So for now I’m assuming similar conditions with only a slight improvement likely for Day 3

The big race of the day proved a huge anti-climax with only one of the ‘star trio’ turning up. Defi Du Seuil couldn’t match his earlier season form and was put in the shade by a bold jumping front running performance from Politologue.

Envoi Allen was the star of the day and its just as conceivable to see him as a future Champion Hurdle winner as it is a Gold Cup one after this performance


 

Day 3 thoughts:

 

1.30 Marsh Novices Chase

There may be few more popular winners this week than 12yo Faugheen. He has come to chasing very late in life but the ex Champion hurdler comes here with a serious form chance.

His chasing technique had me wincing a little on his debut but there has been improvement since. He holds a call already this season over Samcro (another who has had greater times and is on a recovery mission)

His likely front running tactics have also been greatly helped by the diversion of stablemate Allaho to another race.

I remain having a niggling fear that he shouldn’t really be in this race however and will be breathing a sigh of relief to see him get home in one piece. I’m not sure is jumping is quite up to the standard need to win this race

Stablemate Melon is also on a bit of a recovery mission since his career best of a Champion hurdle 2nd. He seems to be a horse who needs things to fall right for him and his last run wasn’t encouraging. His best form has seemed to come when allowed to run from the front – we have only seen that once this season. Will he be allowed to use effective ‘spoiler’ tactics agaisnt his stable companion? And if he does can he jump well enough to benefit from it. Both two big question marks that count against him for me

I favour a win for the home side here with Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet. Placed in last years Supreme Novices, he impressed with coping with Sandown’s tricky fences last time for one so inexperienced. That win over Midnight Shadow looks the best prep form for me

Mister Fisher is another strong contender for the home side but was behind Itchy Feet at the festival last year and I cant see a reason that he has progressed beyond him yet.

Reserve Tank had strong novice hurdle form last year but has never raced on this track. His chasing form this year has yet to reach the same level

With popular sentimental support likely to come in for both Faugheen and Samcro here there must be every chance that prices will increase on others during the course of the day

Recommendation

ITCHY FEET to win

I also think the Sandown 2nd, MIDNIGHT SHADOW , is over priced at around 20/1 and is an each way pick (particularly if 4 places are offered)

He is also one to consider with firms who offer betting ‘without Itchy Feet’


 

2.10 Pertemps Network Final

Another very competitive handicap with a few previous Festival graded race winners dropping back into handicap company

Previous Bumper winner Relegate ran an eyecatching trial last time. She stormed up the hill to win that race and we can expect her to be coming from behind again here. On the downside she did seem to be struggling with her hurdling last season and is still lacking some experience

When 20/1 was available after her last run it was well worth taking but at around 6/1 I think she has been well found in the market now.

We also have previous Albert Bartlett winners (they certainly wont lack for stamina) in Unowhatimeanharry and Kilbricken Storm

The former is now 12 and seems to be regressing. It’s hard to see him being successful under a welter burden of 11st 10lb.

Kilbricken Storm on the other hand still seems to retain some talent and is one for the short list at around 16/1. There is a slight concern that some of the Tizzard stable’s runners this week have been underperforming though

My main pick though is a progressive young horse who I think could be made for this test.

Hughie Morrison knows how to ready one for a handicap here and Third Wind showed he was coming back on an upward curve when defeating Jatiluwhih (re opposes here but probably has less improvement in him)  last time.

He won a very decent handicap at Sandown last season (Skandiburg behind and on worse terms here) that often throws up future graded performers.

He has yet to race over the trip but his style of racing suggests he will be suited by the 3 miles

16/1 was available earlier today but I am seeing no more than 12/1 this evening – someone may have beaten me to the punch here but he remains my main fancy

 

Recommendation

THIRD WIND each way (note some firms offering up to 7 places on this race)

 


 

2.50 Ryanair Chase

I already made a recommendation with this race on the Day 1 blog with ASO each way.

I put him up then to capitalise on Ante Post odds that would guarantee paying out on 1st 3.

With 8 runners still in the race 3 places will be paid – but note if there are any non runners that would drop to paying 1st 2 now (except on the each way option on Betfair Exchange where odds could be lower)

I believe his form over this course last season (including his second in this race) makes him a very similar animal to Frodon and that he simply should be 4 or 5 times the price (he was rated 168 – the same mark as Frodon now has at the start of this season to emphasise this

All his best form is on left handed track so I’m not too concerned by his last two substandard efforts – this was always going to be the race he was being tuned up for

Granted there are two new strong looking rivals also to beat here in A Plus Tard and Min. However I don’t see these two being quite so superior as the market suggests. Horse of a similar level were behind him in this race last year

Riders on the Storm didn’t look to enjoy the course last year and had a very hard race at Ascot last time. I’d be surprised if he is fully over that effort yet

Duc Des Genievres won a substandard Arkle last year and hasn’t done enough since to make me think he is up this level

Of the other outsiders, Saint Calvados is the other I can see running well after a strong handicap performance last time. It doesn’t quite match the handicap efforts that the selection and Frodon have produced here in the past though

Recommendation remains

ASO each way at 20-1+ if you can get it (but this play is all about getting 3 places on your bet)


 

3.30 Stayers Hurdle

This division has a star perfomer in its ranks and barring accidents I really cant see Paisley Park getting beaten

CapturePPARK

His only danger would be a slow gallop followed by a sprint. It’s hard to see anything wanting to make a strong pace as it would fall right into this hands.

Penhill won this race under such a scenario two season ago but such is his recent form that if he were to win again the Stewards should be enquiring into where the improvement came from.

Summerhill Boy tried to control the race when finishing 2nd to Penhill last time and I can see him doing that again

Being at the front in a slowly run affair is always an advantage so he looks one to add into each way bets at bigger odds

I cant see anything but a PAISLEY PARK win but at odds of no more than 4/6 its hard to put him up as a recommendation (my style is to look more for long priced value on this blog)


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

Another handicap but with one obvious contender in Simply The Betts who may be better than this level.

His last win was boosted by both the second (Imperial Aura here on Tuesday ) and third winning since. His mark is 8lb higher but that may not be enough to stop him.

The odds of no more than 4/1 have already factored this in however and in value terms there is another I like more for each way bets.

Happy Diva is one of my favourite horses in training and she had her day in the sun here in November winning the Mackeson  Gold Cup (or whatever it is called now! – it will always be that race for diehards like me)

She never runs a bad race and although the handicapper may have found her mark in 149 now (6lb higher), I think she can still be competitive.

Her form is exposed but I think that comment applies to the vast majority of this field.

She had Spiritofthegames and Siruh Du Lac well behind when winning that big race. She also holds La Bague Au Roi on Doncaster form and yet that one is half the price here! Given the latter has been kept away from this meeting before as supposedly not liking the track this correlation is particularly baffling to me

If there is another unexposed type in the field that could be Deyrann de Carjac. I was a little disappointed by this ones finishing effort when running here last time though. I wonder if he may be better suited to a flat track

Recommendation

HAPPY DIVA each way – take 25/1+ if you can and 5 places is widely available

 


4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle

The Henry de Bromhead/Rachel Blackmore team have already tasted success in Mares events with Honeysuckle and field the favourite with Minella Melody here

She holds a few of these on here last win but both she and recent victim Colreevy look types that might prefer a bit further than this 2 mile trip

Two others appeal instead

Concertista narrowly failed in this race last year and showed that competitive big field races were what she wanted when running her best race since at Leopardstown last time. Her conqueror that day, Black Tears, advertised the form no end when just failing in the Coral Cup today.

Floressa appears the main hope of the English and I don’t think I’ve seen a slicker jumper of a hurdler in the novice ranks this year. That asset didn’t help her so much in her last race which was very slowly run and developed into a sprint. It should stand her in much better stead in what should be a more strongly run affair here

Recommendations

Back CONCERTISTA and FLORESSA


5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

We finish off with another competitive handicap for amateur riders.

As with all such races having a top amateur on board is worth its weight in gold

The main two for me in that respect are Le Breuil (Jamie Codd) and Champagne Platinum (Derek O’Connor)

The former combination are already proven here and this is likely to be a prep race for the Grand National for them

Champagne Platinum is much harder to judge. On some form and previous promise he definitely has the look of a plot for this race – but on other efforts his odds of around 4/1 look monumentally skinny

Outside of these two its also worth noting that Kilfilum Cross and Alex Edwards were second in this race last year and have got back on the same mark.

This one hasn’t been in the same form so far this season but his stable will definitely know how to prime a horse for the big occasion.

He was only beaten by Any Second Now here last year – a horse that could well win the Grand National this year

Plan of Attack is another with a progressive profile who makes it onto my shortlist of 4

If I had to make a recommendation here it would be a win only bet on Kilfilum Cross as think he may be the best value at the prices.

I’d want to be able to narrow it down to more than 4 to have a stronger feeling on this race though so it would only be one for small stakes

 

Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you back

 

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 2

Tuesday’s card was one for the mares with Epatante and Put the Kettle On successes backing up a fine duel between Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux

Times suggest the ground was pretty gruelling but with a dry night forecast it might be a little better tomorrow.

The Conditional was the star performer for blog selections with a few places elsewhere to back that up. Abacadabras and Fakir d’Oudairies both can be counted slightly unlucky seconds for different reasons


Day 2 is probably a quieter day for me tomorrow but here goes:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Envoi Allen comes into this race with huge expectation as one of the Irish bankers of the meeting. He won the Bumper here last year and remains unbeaten this season over hurdles

Quotes of 11/10 before Tuesday’s racing quickly evaporated after performances of previous victims Abacadabras and Darver Star enhanced his form again

There are three contenders up against him here who seem to have a lot of untapped potential and could prove troublesome – we just don’t know how good they are yet.

Captureenvoiallen

What Envoi Allen does have – and these don’t – is course form/experience and that’s enough for me still to think he is the likeliest winner but with odds on favouritism now looking assured there isn’t much value to be had on him

Sporting John is also unbeaten but hasn’t been competing at the same level as the favourite yet. He has been very impressive in what he has done though.

The Big Breakaway and The Big Getaway are both well named types in that they are going to be dwarfing others in this event. Big horses sometimes find it hard to cope with the undulation of this track so I have small concerns that they might not act on it.

The Big Breakaway really impressed me in his Chepstow debut as a star of the future. However he did reportedly have a setback after his last win in December. That lack of ideal preparation could count against him now

The Big Getaway looks a pure galloper with a huge stride. He was unlucky not to win on his hurdling debut when making a complete mess of the last hurdle (winner Cobblers Way has advertised that form since). He made amends in no uncertain fashion since and should have the soft ground he needs.

Both these two are are only going to get better in time and it would be no surprise to see either/both contesting Gold Cups in a couple of seasons

Outside of these big 4, its also worth noting Longhouse Poet who is owned by the sponsors and has same connections as last years winner. He ran a bit too freely over a longer trip last time. He doesn’t have the form to match Envoi Allen but he could exploit failings in the others to be contending for minor honours here

Recommendation

Envoi Allen much the likeliest winner but too short a price for me to invest

Longhouse Poet is the one with each way potential at the prices – I’d also be interested in him for markets ‘without the fav’ if an each way option is available there ( a good run by him will also be a big pointer for Latest Exhibition’s chances in Friday’s Albert Bartlett)

 


2.10 RSA Novices Chase

Champ had looked lucky to get round twice before he came a cropper in his last effort here. I hate to see but whilst he has undoubted ability I think he might be a bit thicker than others. Not one I’d want to be supporting on what I have seen this year

Allaho and Easy Game should both be in the shorter March Chase on Thursday for me. I can only assume they have been diverted here to make life easier for the stable’s Faugheen in that race.

Allaho in particular is a lovely type but he was outstayed twice by Minella Indo last year and that one is the obvious one to beat for me.

Minella Indo’s surprise win in the Albert Bartlett was all the more meritorious as he ran freely and had run loose before the race. He confirmed the form was no fluke at Punchestown after.

He is obviously a horse who takes a couple of runs to get fit but his preparation for this looks to be ideal

The stable have already struck twice at this meeting to reinforce his chance some more

Copperhead can compete with him on stamina but I don’t think he can quite match him for class

Recommendation

MINELLO INDO to win


 

2.50 Coral Cup

A very tricky handicap as always and not one to risk the house on!

Look for firms offering extra places on a race like this.

Canardier is interesting now back over hurdles after a fruitless time in novice chases

He was 5th in the race last year from a 4lb lower mark and there might well be improvement now in his first race for the Willie Mullins stable.

The ground on Tuesday may have been a bit too soft for him but with a bit of overnight drying could come in his favour

At a slightly bigger price, a speculative selection is Black Tears.

This one has good course form and here best runs have seemed to come in big field races run at a good pace. She should get her optimum conditions here.

At first I thought her mark of 144 was high enough but Tuesday’s run of her recent conqueror Elfile has given the form a nice boost.

Recommendation

Small ew bet on BLACK TEARS at 16/1+


 

3.30 Champion Chase

The withdrawal of Altior from this race on Tuesday has taken the gloss slightly off one of the clashes of the week

This still leaves a mouth watering face-off between Defi du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi

Chacun Pur Soi came out best of these two in their only clash at Punchestown last season. That was at the end of a long season for the latter. The winner did have less experience though.

Chacun’s last win over Min had time watchers purring and it could be the top piece of 2 mile form this season

Defi du Seuil hasn’t put a foot wrong this season and there is every suggestion in his last win that he is still improving. He does seem to be delivering late to make use of his turn of foot. The lack of Altior’s finishing punch in this race has enhanced his chance greatly as I think he may be able to sit behind his main rival now

The other 4 runners are all solid types but everything suggests they are just a little behind the two main protagonists

There is no recommendation for me on this race – it’s a race to watch and savour.

I can make valid cases for both of the big two to win but if a gun was put to my head I would pick Defi Du Seuil. This is simply because he has course form and his main rival doesn’t.


 

4.10 Cross Country Chase

Regular followers of the blog will know this isn’t a race for me.

Tiger Roll will of course be one of the most popular winners of the week. He is no certainty though with French challenger Easysland in opposition. The latter won over theses unconventional fences earlier in the season and was bought by JP McManus subsequently. The caution here comes from the jockey. Monsieur Plouganou was ‘hailing a cab’ at many fences and if I supported him here I think I may have to watch from behind the sofa! (same rider worth watching on Toutancarmont in 2015 to see he is a risky venture – a race that Nina Carberry won’t be forgetting in a hurry!)

Recommendation

NO BET


4.50 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

A favourite old stats based pick for me here was finding the best Flat rated horse in the race.

The problem this year is that there aren’t that many that actually have a flat rating. Normally something 90+ on the flat would stick out. This year the highest rated would be Zoffee (85) and nothing else rated more than 77. This is comparatively low  and only 11 others (including the two reserves) actually have a rating

The influence of French breds and French provincial form on this race is responsible and its hard to judge who is well in on that

Mick Pastor cost JP MacManus a small fortune and it didn’t look money well spent on his first run. He has looked better since but has also been rewarded with top weight

This isn’t a race I’d be confident in but I like Repetitio’s course efforts this season and his form has an upward curve.

Nigel Hawke woudn’t be the most fashionable of trainers but he had Tiger Roll earlier in his career. I’m sure he knows how to get one ready for this

There may be something lurking in the French breds who is better handicapped but I’ll stick to what I have actually seen here

Recommendation

REPETITIO each way – again a tough handicap so smaller stakes with 16/1+ if possible


5.30 Champion Bumper

Appreciate It looked a really classy individual last time when routing the opposition at Leopardstown. (Envoi Allen won same race last year)

I really cant oppose him on that and I think he is probably a better bet than Envoi Allen in the opener.

The Glancing Queen was 5th last year when a selection on this blog. She was meant to be hurdling this season but suffered a setback. I have a lot of respect for this mare and if on song she can certainly compete at this level. The layoff and preparation are a big concern though

However given the strength of last years Bumper form a small saver may be worth going in her direction

Recommendation

APPRECIATE IT is hard to oppose and I suspect the biggest danger here is the large field which could cause traffic problems.


 

Thanks for reading once more – and good luck

 

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Cheltenham Festival 2020 – day 1

It was starting to look unlikely to go ahead a week ago but thankfully the Cheltenham Festival looks likely to start as planned this week. The blog has therefore returned for another stab at pinpointing some value priced selections

Fingers crossed the meeting is able to continue without disruption throughout its four days!

As before I’ve included some stats for previous years in past posts.  For a thorough look at these I can once more strongly recommend  www.gaultstats.com for  a far more comprehensive job. There is a lot to digest here but careful study can reap rewards – but do remember to contribute to it if you do

Again this year’s blogs will be kept quite concise due to time limitations. Comparison of odds and place terms can always be found at www.oddschecker.com.  Extra places being offered by some firms will be seen here…and there can be some very generous offers to take advantage of!

It again looks as if the Festival will be starting on soft ground…something that would be very rare until recent years. This should be borne in mind when focusing on statistics from past festivals – many of which could be based on better ground. Weight in particular could be a much bigger factor as its harder to carry higher weights in handicaps when conditions are deep

Below I’ll cover my thoughts after seeing the entries for the opening day..plus a few others for later in the week that I’ve already had an interest in


Onto the action for Day 1:

1.30 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle

A very open looking event to start off the Festival.

Abacadabras was early ante post favourite but from an early stage I thought he might be vulnerable here. You cant knock his form and its easy to see him looking to travel better than anything on the home turn.

The downside is he looks all about speed and didn’t get up the hill as well as others in last years bumper after travelling similarly well.

I still think he’ll be in the shake up but have a feeling something could outstay him close home.

Shishkin has supplanted him as favourite after some highly impressive wins. He hasn’t done quite enough to tempt me yet at some low odds.

In the same colours, Asterion Forlonges is the chief hope of the Willie Mullins stable. His recent Leopardstown win was all the more impressive to me as he still looked far from the finished article in the paddock before hand. There is still some strengthening up to be done there and whatever he does on Tuesday, I think he’ll be better again next season. More of a concern from that run would be a tendency to jump to the right – that isn’t what you would want here

Chantry House has done little wrong this season but yet to face this grade. Fiddlerontheroof in comparison has won at this level and is on an upward curve – enough to suggest he can reverse earlier season form with Edwardstone.

At bigger odds, Elixir D’Ainay is also  interesting now that he is being dropped back in trip. This looks like a move that could suit after he patently failed to stay last time.

It’s hard to discount the majority of this field and that makes it largely a race to watch

With Hills offering 7 places on the race I would have to be most tempted by Abacadabras with that offer.

RECOMMENDATION

Add ABRACADABRAS to any each multiples with firms offering as many places as possible


2.10 Arkle Trophy

Last years Arkle wasn’t the best of affairs and quickly fell apart to leave a fairly uncompetitive affair

This year we should have a far more exciting contest with Ireland most likely to have the winner.

Notebook has beaten both Fakir D’Oudairies and Cash Back this season and on a pure form basis should do so again

He’s a lovely looking type but his only previous piece of form at Cheltenham isn’t inspiring – and he did get quite worked up before his last win. Both have to be negatives

There is a lot of pace and some very accurate young jumpers in this race.

As well as Notebook, Global Citizen, Cash Back, Esprit du Large, Fakir d’Oudairies, Rouge Vif, Maire Banrigh and Put the Kettle On have all won races from the front this season

There is every chance that they could all cut each others throats and let something creep in from behind. Brewin’upastorm would seem the obvious one to do that but it’s Fakir d’Oudairies that gets my vote.

He’s jumped like a natural throughout the season but he also looks like he doesn’t have to lead.

I can see him sitting behind the pace and unlike many others in this race has all important good previous course form in his favour

Recommendation

FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES


2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

This race has often had a tendency to suit lower weights and I think it would be a massive effort for top weight Vinndication to justify favouritism in this. He is further handicapped by having shown a preference for right handed tracks in the past.

Top of my list is The Conditional who has crept in on a nice 10st 6lb weight. He has a course win and came close to winning a bigger race than this when second in the Ladbroke Trophy in November.

On his only start since he still looked a likely winner until stamina failing kicked in late (a bad mistake also served to knock some stuffing out of him at a critical point)

That result has helped to bring his mark down a little and he ticks all of the boxes I look for in this race.

I also like Who Dares Wins who jumps well for a novice and never seems to run a bad race. Expect to see him late on the scene. Trainer Alan King has won this race with a novice before (Fork Lightning) and might have had a second with Bensalem until a late fall

Kildisart also carries some money for me after a quite eyecatching performance last time at Kempton. This suggested a return to some very decent form was around the corner. 25/1 was available after that run but current quotes of around 10/1 seem more accurate. I cant really recommend him so much at those odds

Recommendations

Back THE CONDITIONAL and WHO DARES WINS each way – preferably with firms offering extra places


3.30 Champion Hurdle

The main event of the day has a large field than normal, mainly because it’s a wide open (and dare I say it has a ‘sub standard’ look to it)

Epatante comes in with best piece of form but I still cant quite forget a very bad run here last year (even if there was a supposed excuse behind it)

Nicky Henderson also has 2nd fav Pentland Hills who has looked to need to be produced at exactly the right moment so far this season,

I’m far more taken by the claims of two big prices here – especially with some firms now offering 4 places

Cornerstone Lad had the look of an improving type and benefitted from an inspired ride to beat former champ Buveur D’Air in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November. His rivals definitely underestimated him that day and spent too much time watching each other.

However in his next run he proved it wasn’t all fluke when just behind re opposing Ballyandy and Pentland Hills at Haydock. He gave both rivals weight that day and on level terms has every chance to turn that form around.

He might have given the impression in both of those races that he needs to lead but I don’t think he is that one dimensional. There are others in this race like Not So Sleepy and Petit Mouchoir who can take that role this time and I think Cornerstone Lad might actually be better coming off a strong pace.

He doesn’t have any course form but wins at undulating Catterick give me enough hope that he wont mind Cheltenham.

CaptureCornerstoneLad

The most important thing is his favour would be soft ground. He has a very marked knee action which will always see him to best effect when conditions are deep

Silver Streak is the other for me with around 25/1 available. Placed in this race last year he looks a better horse again this year and has been trained more specifically for it. His second to Epatante over Christmas (Ballyandy behind) was a fine trial for me.

In contrast to my other selection, Silver Streak wants better ground. He was well beaten behind Cornerstone Lad when the ground was too soft. If it’s just genuine soft he still can operate…but on ‘good to soft’ I think the scales tip more in his favour

Recommendations

CORNERSTONE LAD each way on Soft or Heavy ground

SILVER STREAK each way on soft or good to soft

look for firms offering 1/5 odds 1st 4 places in both cases

Both horses are  overpriced in my eyes due to coming from less fashionable stables


4.10 The Mares Hurdle

Two top mares in Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle are due to battle this one out. With no previous course form for Honeysuckle I have a clear preference for 2018 winner Benie Des Dieux.

However she isn’t going to make anyone rich at current quotes of 4/6

There is another likely duel in the race – with two others being strong contender to get in the frame

Roksana and Stormy Ireland benefitted from Benie Des Dieux’s last fence tumble to finish 1st and 2nd in this race last year.

Stormy Ireland has had a successful season in Ireland so far but there isn’t anything in her form for me to suggest she can turn the tables on Roksana.

Recommendations

ROKSANA might be needing some good fortune again to win but she’s the obvious one to fill 3rd place to me and so that makes her worthy of inclusion in any ew multiples at odds of around 9/1

 


 

4.50 Novices Hcap

A Plus Tard was a graded performer masquerading in a handicap last year when dotting up in this.

The one horse who immediately strikes me as being better than a handicapper this year is Hold The Note. He just got outstayed over 3 miles last time after looking to travel all over Two For Gold last time when turning into the straight

He’s a big horse who is built to carry weight so I’m not too worried about him sharing joint top weight.

Connections have won this race before with Mister Whitaker but this one looks to have more class than that horse and still could be improving

Imperial Aura looks an obvious danger but is already plenty short enough at around 5/1. He should run his race again and will be hard to keep out of the frame

Recommendation

HOLD THE NOTE each way


530 National Hunt Chase

A slightly controversial race last year with Amateur riders pushing a few horses a bit too hard over 4 miles

The race has been trimmed by 2 furlongs as a result but in soft conditions having a top amateur on board who can judge the pace is a big advantage

Carefully Selected fits the bill with Patrick Mullins on board but on his last run you’d be forgiven for thinking he was only 50-50 to get round with his jumping

Forza Milan and Ravenhill are obvious dangers with top amateurs on board – but this seems to have been factored enough into their respective prices already

Consequently the recommendation here is NO BET


Looking ahead further into the week here are a few others already backed that interest me

RYANAIR CHASE, Thursday

ASO was narrowly beaten by Frodon here last year ( and was also placed the year before). He’s done nothing to suggest he is any worse this year. His form over this course and over left hand tracks is markedly superior to right hand tracks. Therefore, I’m not too bothered that his last two runs don’t appear to be good enough – he came into this race last year on back of a similar effort. His Wetherby effort confirmed to me that all the ability was still there until failing to stay.

With up to 25/1 still available I think this is a cracking each way bet (especially given his form proximity to Frodon last year who is at 5/1). Only 13 remain in the race at this stage and with likelihood of a few more coming out it may be prudent to jump in now. If less than 8 are left after the 48 hour declarations on Tuesday the each way angle will no longer be possible

Recommendation

Back ASO each way at 20/1+ while 1/5 odds 123 are still guaranteed


GRAND ANNUAL CHASE, Friday
LISP has already shown some cat-like jumping prowess in his novice season that suggests he is going to be a better chaser than hurdler

He has managed to retain the same mark over chases so far despite not getting the conditions that suited him best over hurdles – coming off a strong pace over 2 miles

He should get this in spades on Friday and granted the usual luck in running is at the top of my list of handicap fancies this week.

Off his 144 mark he should be getting weight from plenty here. Alan King won this with another novice (Oh Crick) in 2009 and its been an obvious target for some time as Lisp goes in pursuit of a £60,000 bonus courtesy of winning a race at Plumpton before this

Recommendation

LISP each way


 

The blog will return on Tuesday to look further at Wednesday’s card

In the meantime, thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you end up backing

Paul

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Grand National 2019

As with previous years here are a few thoughts for National Hunt racing’s greatest spectacle at Aintree on Saturday.

There are many other good preview sites out there this year(some in much greater depth on a runner-by -runner basis) but here is my personal synopsis.

I have given points to the main statistical aspects I use (further details can be seen in previous year’s GN blogs. These focus on stamina, weight, age and preparatory runs. After analysing these it’s determined the main contenders in my eyes and this year’s runners can be seen in the table on link below

GNational2019

This year doesn’t seem to have quite the same overall class of runners as other recent ones. There are several with serious question marks and many others looking to be out of form and badly handicapped.

There are just two runners who get the perfect score – Vintage Clouds and last year’s Irish National hero General Principle. The latter hasn’t been in great form this season and is badly weighted with Vintage Clouds when they both had their final preparatory race.

It is Sue Smith’s grey who firmly tops my shortlist this year and qualifies on every front. His third in last year’s Scottish Grand National is the biggest pointer for him here and he looks to be improved from that on his last run (first after a wind operation). Sue has won this race before with Auroras Encore who also advertised his chances before in the Ayr marathon

CaptureVintageClouds

Like the Grand National, the Scottish version needs good positioning throughout despite it being a thorough test of stamina. Some who crab Vintage Clouds think his jumping isn’t swift enough to cope with the early pace here but that run at Ayr is enough to convince me he is up to it.

Like all the runners he’ll need to get a good position after the early dash over the first few fences but if he can get himself a prominent position before Bechers I think he’ll be very tough to keep out of the finish. He can cope with both good and soft ground so the recent rain is not an issue and should be more of a positive now with his light weight and proven stamina

The Scottish National form also throws up the two who beat him in that – Joe Farrell and Ballyoptic. The latter hasn’t shown enough sparkle for me this term but Joe Farrell is interesting after using the same prep race used by West Tip back in 1986. Prior to his Scottish National victory he was totally unproven regarding stamina but that should not be a problem now. He would also have a perfect score if he had just had one extra prep run this season. He probably wouldn’t want any more rain to get into the ground but no more seems to be forecast.

Last year’s winner Tiger Roll isn’t far behind on the table and it’s just the weight he has to carry which stops him getting a perfect 10. He looks an even better horse this year but as quite a small horse the addition of an extra 6lbs on his back is going to make life quite hard here. His stamina seems assured but last years race was run quite steadily early and he only just held on at the end. If there is a truer gallop throughout this time it could also root out any flaws here.

It wouldn’t be a big surprise if this highly likeable horse were to become one of the National greats but at around 4/1 he represents poor value in a race where some luck in running is always needed

In the same Gigginstown colours,Gordon Elliott’s Dounikos appeals more at much bigger odds. His best performance came when upped in trip last time and despite running off his highest mark yet he could still be on the upgrade. I’m not sure if the rain this week is what he wanted or not but jockey bookings suggest he’s better fancied than General Principle here. He only fails to get 10 points because of his age but as a French bred he is likely to be more forward at 8 than others. He’s also a big unit who should be able to cope with carrying 11 stone in these conditions

Rock the Kasbah also comes in at 9 points but his lack of a recent run is something I find hard to ignore.

Of the others the ones of most note to me are:

Pleasant Company. Second last year and though his preparation this year doesn’t look ideal it is exactly the same as then so he can’t be totally ruled out. At 11 he’s not likley to have improved though and I think David Mullins gave him an exceptional ride last year. I’m disappointed he’s not renewing the partnership

One For Arthur. Beset by problems since winning impressively 2 years ago. Unseating his rider in his only two runs this year doesn’t read well and this would be a mammoth ask

Folsom Blue. Arguably unlucky not to win last year’s Irish National this one has bottomless stamina and the rain this week hasn’t really been enough. If it were to pour down again we can’t discount him despite being 12 years old. If this race were over 6 miles he would be the pick!

Ramses de Teillee. Only has 7 points because 7 year olds have an awful record in this. I think he was trained for the Welsh National this year where he finished 2nd. That qualifies him for stamina here but his best form seems to come at Chepstow and he also had a very hard race since then at Haydock

Rathvinden. I’ve always been sceptical about using the National Hunt Chase as a market for stamina but it was fine for Tiger Roll last year. Rathvinden seemed to have a very hard race when he won that last year and it was well run so his stamina seems assured. He has plenty of class and could be well weighted here but only having one prep race this season is quite a big negative


Selections

Three of them this year. Always look for the firms offering extra places but my money is on these (with first named being the main selection)

Vintage Clouds

Joe Farrell

Dounikos


Good luck with whatever you back and hoping all the participants come back safe and well

Paul

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

 
 
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