Monthly Archives: February 2015

Grand National – the weights verdict

2 weeks and counting to the start of the Cheltenham Festival but focus was switched to the Crabbies Grand National last week as weights were revealed at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House

Now that the weights are out the marks can’t be changed and no doubt some runners will begin to show themselves in a better light after previous attempts this season when they turn up for Aintree’s showpiece on Saturday 11th April
As pointed out in last years preview of the race there are some statistics that come to the fore every year which I follow and a shortlist of the most likely winners for me has emerged
Weight; carrying 11 stone or less a big positive. Between 1984 and 2005 nothing managed to win carrying over this barrier. When Don’t Push It won carrying 11st 5lbs in 2010 it did start to appear that maybe weight (and a less difficult course) could be less of a factor as the class of the race was improving. However since then, out of the 160 runners taking part 37 have carried over 11 stone and only 6 have finished in the first 10 placings. So for now, the weight barrier is still very important to me.
Stamina. It’s a big asset to have this proven and that means being competitive either in this race before or in one of the other ‘Nationals’ or competitive long distance handicaps in excess of 3ml 4 furlongs. (I slightly passed by Pineau De Re’s claims last year as not counting the Ulster Grand National into this mix – otherwise he would have been a perfect stats pick)
Age ; 9, 10 or 11 is the most likeliest. 8 or 12 does occasionally win but anything else we might as well just put a line through
Runs this season. Not a stat I’ve focussed on too much before until recently seeing someone else put up that of the last 24 winners, nothing had come into the race with less than 3 runs that season.
This isn’t to say that if a runner doesn’t meet all of these stats it won’t win – it just gives an adavantage to those that do meet all the criteria on all known evidence.
I’ve already put up Godsmejudge as a selection on an earlier posting this year
He fits all of the stats – 10st 8lbs is an ideal weight, he’s now 9 and his Scottish National record marks him as having no holes with stamina. His win in that race as a novice in 2013 was al the more meritorious as he himself carried more weight than was the norm for that race. I hope there are some parallels to be had with Earth Summit who won the Scottish National as a novice before triumphing in this race on his first attempt 4 years later.
He’s had a quiet preparation so far, being highly in need of the race first time up and pulling up. Last weekend, he raced over a trip too short but put in a much improved performance running on stoutly at the finish. Alan King plans to run him once more before the big race which should give him the required 3 runs. 25/1 is still available and highly recommended to those not on already.
There is another that stands out as already meeting all requirements and I will now add in as a further selection…..
Monbeg Dude finished 7th in the race last year and arguably could have been closer. He had crept into a lovely position next to eventual second Balthazar King by Bechers second time round. Things didn’t go quite as well from then on as he lost his pitch slightly with slow jumps probably caused by running into some in front of him. The effort to get back to the leaders probably cost him getting a better placing.

This year Aintree again seems the aim. He’s 10 and a previous Welsh national win is his main stamina pointer. His run at Haydock last time looked very mindful of weights being released soon after and he now gets a mark of 144 (2 less than last year) giving him a lovely 10st 7lbs. He’s already had 4 runs this season and is scheduled to have one more before the big race according to connections.
33/1 is a fairly widely available and too big to ignore for me.
The most obvious marker put down for the National since weights were published was by Rocky Creek at Kempton last Saturday and I cant finish without giving him a mention.
He is one of the few 11st+ horses to reach top 10 in this race having finished 5th last year.
He fails on the weight issue as he has 11st 3lbs currently (weights could conceivably rise by 2-3 lbs if a couple of top weights drop out) but is on a 2 lb lower mark than last year – he should be carrying more on that last piece of form so is theoretically ‘well in’
He seemed to fall short of stamina last year and doesn’t meet that criteria but a breathing operation and being in front less soon (last year the running out of Across the Bay at start of second circuit did leave him in front earlier than expected) could see an improvement.
I can’t put anyone off supporting him each way as think he may well get placed again but the negatives are enough to sway me from putting him forward as a selection.
There’s another of note right down the weights I wil also mention. Raz Da Maree finished 8th last year coming from another parish to get that placing in the home straight. He needs another run to meet the ‘3 run’ mark but could be an interesting outsider come the day if the ground did happen to come up soft. This doesn’t happen too often but would be crucial to his chances
Current Grand National odds can be found here:

1 pt ew Monbeg Dude 33/1 (widely available but take the ¼ 12435 option available with firms such as 365, BetVictor, Paddy Power if possible)
Already recommended 1pt ew Godsmejudge at 28/1 but boosting that now with a further 0.5 pts ew taking 25/1 (365 or BetVictor ¼ 12345)

Thanks for reading once more and comments are welcome as always
The blog will be back just before Cheltenham to preview all races on a daily basis
Best of luck


• Initial bank 50pts
Current balance 23pts
Ante Post bets 27pts staked (with some updated info on previous selections :
2pts ew Saphir Du Rheu 8/1 World Hurdle
• (now around 5/1 jt fav after the withdrawal off ante post fav More of That – stablemate Zarkandar appears the main danger)
1pt ew Champagne West 16/1 RSA Chase
• (unfortunately out for the season with hock injury – so with ante post rules this bet is now a loser unless the race does not take place)
1pt ew Southfield Theatre 20/1 RSA Chase
Now down to around the 8/1 mark
1pt ew Blaklion 12/1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle
1pt ew Godsmejudge 28/1 Grand National
• 0.5pts ew Godsmejudge 25/1
• 1pt ew Monbeg Dude 33/1 Grand National
• 2pts ew Vibrato Valtat 7/1 Arkle Chase
• (now 11/2 best price available)
• 2pts ew Jezki 6/1 NRNB Champion Hurdle
• (6/1 NRNB now disappeared – 11/2 best currently available with that concession)
• 1pt ew double Vibrato Valtat 6/1 & Jezki 6/1
• 1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1 Neptune Novice Hurdle
• (put up by Pricewise today despite some mutterings that he may go for 3 mile option if ground is good last week – obviously IO hope that doesn’t happen and he sticks to the Neptune where he hovers around 10/1 currently)


Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Ante Post – Part 3!

Nearly 4 weeks to go and another weekend full of clues for the Cheltenham Festival has just passed – and some more bets for the Ante Post portfolio have emerged.
Arkle Chase 10th March
Un De Sceaux is standing head and shoulders above his rivals now for this (8/13 best with traditional books – close to 8/11 on Betfair). He could well be a class above the rest but I think I would be watching from behind the sofa over the first few fences if I had backed him after seeing him fall on his first foray over the bigger obstacles this year.
With question marks over Josses Hill’s jumping now the bet against the fav has to be Vibrato Valtat after a ruthlessly efficient display to win at Warwick on Saturday. In disposing of the highly promising Top Gamble with the minimum of fuss he looked a horse who is firmly on the upward curve and could be heading for a handicap mark close to 160.

vibrato v
That would give him a fine chance in any normal rendition of this race. He looks a very safe jumper and unlike the fav and almost every other likely runner in the race (there may not be many on the day!) he has jumped round the chase course at Cheltenham.
If the favourite does jump round safely he may be unstoppable but it’s highly unlikely that the selection will get involved with him early and will ride a stalking race which should secure him a place at the very least. The majority of his form does come on soft ground – and it should be a bit better than that on the day – but there’s not enough to suggest that good ground won’t be a significant impediment for me.
7/1 for win odds is fair enough but it’s the place angle that’s more important here, getting 7/4 for something that’s probably no better than Evens to happen
2pts ew Vibrato Valtat 7/1 (365, SportingBet, Boyles, Betfair Sportsbook)
Up to date odds available here:

Champion Hurdle 10th Mar
I have been toying with this one for a while and alluded to it in an earlier posting this year but cannot really get away with not selecting Jezki each way at 6/1 now with Non Runner No Bet available.
This price has been teetering on Betfair in recent days and I can see it being shorter on the day with the AP McCoy factor now likely to be an even bigger draw to backers. I’ve seen other tipsters put up the same bet in recent weeks so it’s now time to jump on this particular bandwagon as well!
In contrast, current fav Faugheen must surely be one the layer will want to take money on nearer the race. 5/4 is the best available right now but I can see bigger than that occurring on race day.
Jezki is the choice as he’s the one who already has the t-shirt here. He is defending champion and we know the likely better ground and strong pace will be much more to his liking than previous races this season (as it was last season).
Faugheen has been mightily impressive this season but has yet to beat anything of the class of Jezki or The New One.
I am not dismissing The New One at all from calculations – he was unlucky last year but often seems to hit a hurdle and that could be costly again at this level. I rate his chances on a par with Jezki here but the selection is double the price and that’s why he’s the clear pick.
I’m still far from convinced that Hurricane Fly will run if the ground gets better – this course just doesn’t suit him as well as Leopardstown – and I think team Mullins will find an excuse to keep him at home once Ruby walsh picks Faugheen as his mount.
That really means it’s a 3 horse race for me and it’s again the place angle that sways this bet with 6/4 being taken for Jezki to be in the frame

2pts ew Jezki 6/1 – take the Non Runner No Bet offer with Paddy Power, Coral or Winner
Latest odds here:

I would also suggest an each way double on the two selections above for an extra shot at getting the place odds bonus
1pt ew double Vibrato Valtat 6/1 and Jezki 6/1 (Winner Sports) – a bit of shopping around needed to get best odds on the double as best odds not available for both at the same firm – over 5/1 for the place double should be possible though

Neptune Novice Hurdle 11th March
This was a race without any real standout contenders I thought until watching Sunday’s Deloitte Novice Hurdle finish fought out between Nichols Canyon and Windsor Park.

This race over 2ml 2fur can be a key for either Tuesday’s Supreme or this race on Wednesday in many years and here these two proved far too good for what looked a strong field.
Both looked to be types who would appreciate further and the Neptune would be the race for them.
If this race were NRNB I would probably back both at their respective odds of 8/1 and 12/1. However, Nichols Canyon is from team Mullins and there’s always that seed of doubt with that stable as to how the cards will be shuffled and which race he will end up in(owner also has Shaneshill asa possible for this race).
Although Windsor Park is entered in other novice races and nothing has been confirmed, I don’t really see why he should go for any other race. He’s been highly regarded as a dual purpose stayer (sometimes in same breath as the stable’s Ascot Gold Cup hope Forgotten Rules) and the way he raced on Sunday suggested he needed further.
Better ground should be likely at Cheltenham and this should suit him admirably as he really is bred to win a Classic on the flat being by Galileo.
An earlier interview on At The Races on Sunday with jockey Davy Russell convinced me that he really was seeing Sunday’s race as a stepping stone for this one and for Lord Windermere later in the day – he ‘would have been happy with a place’. But in the end he was the eyecatcher for me, not looking to be a contender down the back straight but doing all of his best work at the finish. For all of the Racing Post’s comment that Nichols Canyon won ‘comfortably’, I don’t think there will be much between these two at Cheltenham and so am going for the bigger odds chance who I feel fairly sure will be turning up here rather than one of the other events
1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1 (Skybet, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Winner)
Odds comparisons here:

thanks for reading – comments as always most appreciated


  • Initial bank 50pts
    Current balance 26pts
    Ante Post bets 24pts staked (with some updated info on previous selections :
    2pts ew Saphir Du Rheu 8/1 World Hurdle
    1pt ew Champagne West 16/1 RSA Chase
  • (unfortunately out for the season with hock injury – so with ante post rules this bet is now a loser unless the race does not take place)
    1pt ew Southfield Theatre 20/1 RSA Chase
    Put up by Pricewise last week and had a nice trial over an inadequate trip to win at Exeter on Sunday. RSA is now the confirmed target and 14/1 is the best price currently available)
    1pt ew Blaklion 12/1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle
    1pt ew Godsmejudge 28/1 Grand National
  • 2pts ew Vibrato Valtat 7/1 Arkle Chase
  • 2pts ew Jezki 6/1 NRNB Champion Hurdle
  • 1pt ew double Vibrato Valtat 6/1 & Jezki 6/1
  • 1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1 Neptune Novice Hurdle
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

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