Monthly Archives: March 2016

Cheltenham 2016 – Day 4

Cheltenham 2016 Day 4

Day 3 review

Vautour put to bed any rumours about his well-being with an authoritative win in the Ryanair. Thistlecrack then continued his domination of the 3 mile division with one of the most impressive wins you’ll see in the World Hurdle. As an 8yo you wonder if he’s already too old to embark on a chasing career.If he stays hurdling he should dominate this division for some time. The second, Alpha Des Obeaux, only 6 already looks a huge prospect as an RSA horse next year.

For the blog selections it was place returns from Our Kaempfer (5th) and Al Ferof (3rd in without favourite market)

Smart Talk was very disappointing – didnt look to cope with the downhill well to me.

Top Wood was still bang there and travelling very well when coming down at the top of the hill. He looked like he would have been involved in the finish at the time but the way Cause of Causes came home up the hill, it was probably unlikely he would have won

Out of 10 pts staked on Thursday there was therefore a return of 6.8 pts (3.2 pt loss)

Ultimately a day for the punters though with Limini delivering the final twist of the knife to bookies in the Mares Novice Hurdle. The three short priced favs of the day all winning

Onto Friday….

As per usual the final day kicks off with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 – the 2 mile championship for 4yo hurdlers.
I already covered this in my weekend preview and stick with Who Dares Wins who I think will get the ground and strong pace that will see him at best effect.
I rate both him and Clan Des Obeaux much better than the bare form of their last race as they both started to joust far too early then on some very deep ground. Clan des Obeaux would have been a really big danger for me if the ground were a bit softer.
Zubayr is feared also. The Adonis Hurdle he won at Kempton has long been a good trial for this and his preparation is identical to Nicholls’s previous winner Zarkandar.
Ivanovich Gorbatov may well be a lot better on this decent ground than he was when behind Footpad at Leopardstown but is awful value at current odds. I don’t think that race is the strongest line of form here. It was also run on very bad ground and into a strong headwind – the form of that race could easily be turned around here
1pt ew WHO DARES WINS @12/1


Another fiercely competitive hcap hurdle with any number of potential plots.
Great Field and Blue Hell are two Irish raiders who fit that bill but are already plenty short enough at single figure odds.
My two against the field at bigger odds have both been waiting for the better ground they will get here.
John Constable had to be taken out of the Betfair Hurdle in February because of the ground and Evan Williams has been happy to bide his time until the weather improved. He got the closest to an enterprisingly ridden Sternrubin before Christmas but in so doing looked to be a horse to follow from his mark.
Some Plan has also been waiting for the good ground since an eyecatching run at Ascot (also behind Sternrubin). I have heard this has been the aim for some time. A little bit concerned he may want a less testing track but I’m very happy to see Harry Cobden on board to take off a valuable 5lbs (already seen to great effect on Old Guard earlier this season)

0.75 pts ew  JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (Betfair Sportsbook paying 1/4 odds 12345)
0.5 pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1 (Corals – not paying 5th place but win odds make up for that)


Barters Hill is unbeaten and thoroughly likeable as he doesn’t let anything pass him. His last win was a bit unconvincing but it subsequently transpired he had lost a show during the race so it was excusable.
It’s more worrying that news emanated from the stable today that the horse had seemed a little stiff after working at home.
It will be very hard to win a race like this with his front running style but he sets the standard on form.
I think we can expect his price to drift however based on the latest rumours.
Shantou Village was no match for Yanworth last time but won’t have anything like that to deal with here. He shapes like this trip will suit and the better ground should also be in his favour.
Up For Review was sharing Ante Post favouritism for this race earlier this year before he was soundly beaten by Barters Hill at Doncaster. Mullins’s horses all ran badly that day (Shaneshill on same card bounced back yesterday to run a great 2nd in the RSA). He was described as a nervous type subsequently so I would be a little concerned if he’ll cope with this occasion
Of all the Mullins runners available to him, Ruby Walsh has picked Long Dog and he is at the top of my shortlist for this race. He is unproven over this trip but gives the impression he will stay. He got some favourable mentions at previews when it looked like the Neptune was more likely for him. Davy Russell even suggested he would be 5/2 fav if he ran in this. He’s been shown to be a little out on that assumption but I don’t think he should be 8/1 now that Ruby is on board.
Ruby wouldn’t have had the choice of Gigginstown runner, Gangster, who was supposedly the horse who beat Vautour in a gallop recently. If thats true we should see his price shorten. How much we read into that I’m not sure if today’s Ryanair winner was under par at the time. Strictly on form he still has something to find.
Bleu Et Rouge will be facing totally different conditions than his battling win over 2 miles at Leopardstown
1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1 (generally available but make sure of firms paying 1/4 odds a place rather than 1/5th)



The Gold Cup – the centrepiece of the meeting.
I’m assuming that Road to Riches won’t run after his exertions in the Ryanair on Thursday.
A run down of the runners (numbers in brackets are previous form on the course which I think is relevant here – the last number being the most recent effort)
Don Cossack B. J. Cooper (F3)
Brilliant winner at Aintree last season and possibly unlucky when falling at Kempton where he ran a bit in snatches. Some have expressed concerns that Cooper doesn’t get on with him as well as other jockeys but I’m more worried about his previous form on this course which suggests he doesn’t act on it as well as a flat track. The good ground will suit him.

Djakadam R. Walsh (F2F)
Last year’s Gold Cup 2nd but that is the only time he has completed here in 3 attempts. May want softer ground and would be worried that he still has the memory of his last run here where he needed several stitches afterwards


Cue Card Paddy Brennan ( 1241U21)
A regular here since winning the Festival bumper in 2010 (also successful in Ryanair in 2013). Revitalised this season since a breathing operation and now looks much more a stayer. Used to run more freely and stamina was a question mark. His dam was a good stayer and gives very encouragement now that he will last over this trip.


Don Poli Davy Russell ( 11)
Unbeaten at Cheltenham in two attempts gives him the best course record in the field. His form doesn’t quite match up to some of the others but he’s a lazy type who just does enough. If he’s close up as they come round the home turn the rest should be frightened on the uphill finish – but will he have the speed to lie up with them on this quicker ground (softer may have been preferred). Davy Russell gets the leg up on Bryan Cooper’s cast off – but it’s Russell who is riding the better so far this week.

Smad Place Wayne Hutchinson ( 0332201)
Another horse who has seen his career flourish since a wind operation. Didn’t have his own way up front when well beaten in King George. With Vautour and probably Road to Riches out he now may get an uncontested lead which increases his chance. Still something to find on form but not out of it


Road To Riches (3)
Last year’s third is a very doubtful runner

Carlingford Lough Barry Geraghty (00)
Saves his best for Leopardstown. Has twice come here fancied and disappointed on the course

Ofaolains Boy Noel Fehily (41P0)
Previous RSA winner (beating Smad Place). Had his problems since and would seem to need soft ground nowadays which he wont get here

On His Own Mr P. W. Mullins ( 04P20U ) (U cross country)
Previous runner-up but form someway off that level now

Irish Cavalier P. Townend (310P)
Has won at the course but is outclassed here on all previous for

As mentioned in the weekend preview blog I’m strongly with Cue Card here as I think he’ll be better still on this course than at Kempton. He may or may not have won that day if Don Cossack had stood up but he is far more proven on this course than that one.
Smad Place is feared if he is left alone up front as he may now get an easy lead. Don Poli would be the one I wouldn’t want to be seeing close by coming down the hill but think the ground may have gone against him and he’s too short a price on his bare form
2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1 (1/4 123 – generally available)

There’s a bit of a feeling of a wind down after the Gold Cup normally but the Foxhunters at 4.10 will get plenty of media attention now with Victoria Pendleton on board Pacha Du Polder. The horse is well worth its place in this race but ‘Pendo’ is a long way behind ability wise compared to some of the top amateur riders she faces here. She’s been riding against similar inexperienced riders in her build up to this but is at a huge disadvantage here. I just hope she gets round safely more than anything but give her very little chance of reaching the frame.
On The Fringe won this easily this year and was given a very easy introduction last time in heavy conditions at Leopardstown. Expect to see far better here but I can’t say I was bowled over by the horse the first time I saw him in the paddock there
He’s the one to beat but I won’t be betting on him this year
I don’t have an opinion in the 4.50 currently but there’s an interesting outsider in the last.
Barters Hill’s trainer Ben Pauling fields an interesting outsider here in Ravens Tower, who has outdone himself before at this meeting as a 4yo hurdler. He won well last time on ground that shouldn’t really suit. It’s clear to me he’s a horse who will always be seen to best advantage on good ground, in a competitive race with a strong gallop. All these things he will get here. He is a novice, and as we saw with Out Sam earlier in the week, this sort of race can be too much for them early on in their careers. Novices do have a decent record in this race though and Ravens Tower appears a sound jumper on what I’ve seen thus far
He’s worth a small interest in what could be his optimum conditions
0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 12345 – others may enhance later on this)


EXTRA SELECTIONS (added 1900 GMT  Thurs evening)

Further review of the last 2 races and I have two extra selections.

Lucinda Russell is in tremendous form currently after quite a barren spell early in 2016. She sends one runner down from Scotland this week and such is her strike rate now I have to make Sky Khan a bet at huge odds of 66/1 in the 4.50. Squoauteur looks an obvious plot in this race to give Gordon Elliott another hcap win but he is already very short in odds


0.5 pts ew Sky Khan 66/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 5 places)

In the final race I’m also adding Dan Skelton’s Workbench at a big price. Dan’s runners have been performing well this week without winning and this one will be happy to be back on a sound surface. He ran well at the track before Christmas before disappointing on softer ground and is another I feel is overpriced


0.5 pts ew Workbench 33/1 (365 again offering the best place terms with 5 places)


It’ll be hard to come close to the reaction of Sprinter Sacre’s win on Wednesday, but if Cue Card were to prevail and secure a £1 million bonus it would put the icing on the cake this week
Good luck for the final day with whatever you back
Thanks for reading



Friday’s selections:

(Prices may have changed since selections were posted on Thursday – Ravens Tower was a selection of Pricewise last night for instance)

1pt ew WHO DARES WINS 12/1

0.75 pts ew JOHN CONSTABLE 16/1 (with 5 places)

0.5pts ew SOME PLAN 28/1

1pt ew LONG DOG 8/1

2.5 pts ew CUE CARD 4/1

0.5 pts ew SKY KHAN 66/1 (with 5 places)

0.5 pts ew RAVENS TOWER 25/1 (with 5 places)

0.5 pts ew WORKBENCH 33/1 (with 5 places)

Total stakes for day 14.5 pts


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cheltenham 2016 – Day 3 preview

Cheltenham Day 3

A quick review of Day 2 first.

The undoubted highlight was the renaissance of the ‘Black Aeroplane’ when Sprinter Sacre regained his 2 mile championship crown. It’s one of the most special moments I can remember at the Festival for some time.

I did pinpoint him in the blog but having thought that some of bet was for sentimental reasons I didn’t actually out him forward as a recommendation.

Diego Du Charmil won the Fred Winter (somewhat luckily) and was one of my early selections in the weekend preview.

The blog selections themselves had a losing day. Long House Hall could have been unlucky in finishing 2nd in the Coral Cup after finding himself in several positions late on despite travelling well. A small profit from him but the other recommendations didnt come through.

Yanworth covered far more ground than his conqueror Yorkhill in the opener but I don’t think it cost him the race. He remains a high class prospect but ran into one better today and it looked like Yorkhill idled a bit when ahead to me.

High Bridge and Duke Street both had every chance but werent good enough

So day 2 returned 2.5 pts from the 9.5 pts staked. On the week so far we now have a total of 23.5 pts staked and 21.05 pts returned.

Onto the selections for day 3….I’ve added an extra one to those published earlier in the last race

I’m finding more negatives than positives about most of the runners here.
You can’t fault Bristol de Mai’s jumping prowess this season for such a young horse. He’s always looked most effective on a soft surface for me though and I have to worry why connections have kept him away from their local course throughout his career so far.
He’s faced Garde La Victoire twice in his career – once over hurdles and once over fences – and come out worst both times. I haven’t been entirely convinced by the Hobbs representative’s jumping style thus far though and wouldn’t be surprised to see him make some mistakes when the taps are turned on in this race.
L’Ami Serge was a disappointment last time and has to bounce back from that. If he can he must be a big runner here.
I’m not a huge fan of Outlander and slightly prefer the other Mullins runner Black Hercules. He is taking a drop down in trip but looked very good at Warwick earlier in the season. He negatives are that he fell last time out and his previous course form has been a bit disappointing
Verdict is No Bet

Another very competitive handicap hurdle where 5 places are a must for each way betting purposes.
Mall Dini got a good word from Davy Russell at a Preview Night I attended last week but like so many Irish raiders he seems to have been treated rather harshly by the UK handicapper.
I have two at the top of my shortlist here.
If In Doubt proved he had a real engine when winning the Skybet Chase at Doncaster last season despite a hairy round of jumping. He’s back over hurdles now that his chasing technique never really progressed and won with enough in hand last time to suggest that a mark of 146 is not beyond him. I just wonder if he might prefer the ground a little slower.
On the likely decent ground my main fancy is Our Kaempfer who looks to have been kept back for this since an unfortunate case of being brought down when still travelling very well at Haydock. Prior to that he was given an eyecatching introduction at Chepstow and then was caught out by an enterprising front running ride on Broxbourne at Aintree. Like his brother, Clondaw Kaempfer, good ground is likely to see him at his most effective.
His run behind Thistlecrack at Aintree last season has worked out extremely well and I expect Noel Fehily to be producing him fairly late here. I’d be more confident still if the Charlie Longsdon stable had been in better form but still think he’s the one to beat here as believe he is a good bit better than his 139 mark

1pt ew OUR KAEMPFER @14/1 (Skybet ¼ odds 12345)

 * Evening update sees that Our Kaempfer has been very well backed since this was first posted mid afternoon. He’s currently a top priced 10/1 – hopefully a few got the better odds earlier*


The whole make-up of the Ryanair Chase changed yesterday when Vautour was included. He’s some way ahead of his rivals here and really should win. The only issue is the negative vibes which have emanated from Ireland in the last few weeks about his well being. Even at 90% of his best he should win but I can’t back him at likely odds on with those few seeds of doubt in my head.

No bet but there may be some value in looking at the ‘without the favourite’ market in this race as we get nearer the event. I may expand on that later this evening or tomorrow morning as more firms offer this option.


Previously alluded to in my weekend preview it’s hard for me to see beyond Thistlecrack on form this season. He’s won all the top 3 mile races easily and looking to have toms in hand. The quicker ground is the only issue but if he were trained by Team Mullins I’m sure he would be an odd-on shot here.

Cole Harden won this last year and will ensure a good gallop but I think he will need to step up again on that form to win this time (his preparation hasn’t been quite as trouble free this year). Alpha Des Obeaux would have been beaten by Thistlecrack at Aintree last year before falling. He should enjoy the ground also but will have to improve just as much as the selection and some more to win this.
I won’t put up Thistlecrack as a recommendation for now at 6/5. As he isn’t from one of the big betting stables I would not be surprised to his price drift tomorrow and will leave for now to see if that plan comes to fruition


Johns Spirit is very well in on past course form (albeit on the Old Course – they run this on the New Course tomorrow).
Jonjo O’Neill has already revitalised Holywell to run an excellent second yesterday so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him bounce back here.
At much bigger odds I’ll be having a little each way on Buckers Bridge. I think he’ll be much more effective over this trip and ground than some of the conditions he’s faced in Ireland recently. Trainer Henry de Bromhead has a decent strike rate at this meeting
0.5 pts ew BUCKERS BRIDGE @25/1 (Bet 365 and Winner Sports both offer ¼ odds 12345)


The new race of the meeting sees a potential hotpot in Limini, a very classy ex-French mare from the Willie Mullins stable. Her jumping technique is the big concern but it would be no surprise to see her backed strongly at short odds given some glowing reports from her stable recently (banker of the meeting suggested at some previews by connections)
As previously mentioned in the weekend blog, I really like Smart Talk as an each way bet here. She’s a tough mare with the look of a chaser who has improved with every race this season. She defeated another Mullins mare, Morning Run last time, and would have won by further but for a nasty error in the home straight.
She should be the one to take advantage of any jumping flaws from the favourite
Finding firms who offer ¼ odds a place on this race will give a big advantage
1.5 pts Ew SMART TALK @7/1 (Bet365 ¼ odds 123)


A competitive handicap for amateur riders.
Cause of Causes has fine form at previous Festivals and could have been plotted for this – a remark that also applies to the Pipe’s Doctor Harper.
The odds already reflect this though.
The more experienced amateur riders are worth their weight in gold in this type of race. Less experienced ones can have more of a problem judging the pace correctly and I am often looking for the jockey first before the horse’s form in races like this.
I’ve been very impressed by some of Katie Walsh’s rides this year even in defeat. I see the Pipe stable have engaged her here for what looks their second string, Top Wood. I’ll be having a little each way at a good price now that she is on board
0.5 pts Ew Top Wood @25/1 (Corals ¼ odds 1234)

*An extra selection added here since original blog posted this afternoon.

After going through the race again I came across Indian Castle lurking at the bottom of the handicap on a very workable mark of 134. His weight has fallen because of poor efforts on unsuitably soft ground but he looks well in on his effort at this meeting here last year off a higher mark in a better race. Ian Williams’ stable is in great form and has already secured a winner at this meeting with Ballyalton

I have to add him to the portfolio now

0.5 pts ew INDIAN CASTLE @20/1 (Bet 365 offering 1/4 odds 12345 the best on offer)

Thanks for reading once again



*Thursday lunchtime Update*

When Skybet went 6/4 Thistlecrack last night I was quite hopeful others who would be more likely to take a bet would follow suit. It didn’t last long though and he’s now back to 5/4 generally. It’s still a waiting game here and I’ll leave this for now. I will back him at 11/8 or bigger  if it appears.

Our Kaempfer continues to be well supported in the Pertemps with 9/1 no the best available. Hoping the market strength proves spot on there. As a hold up ride he will need the gaps to come right for him. I still may add a saver on If In Doubt ew with 5 places here

The Ryanair Chase sees the only extra bet in the ‘without the favourite’ market. I can’t believe that Vautour will be running in this if he can’t do himself justice. The vibes haven’t been encouraging in the run -up to this week but his form is some way ahead of the others.

This race seeming to be the real second choice behind the Gold Cup for the Gigginstown pair Road to Riches and Valseur Lido who would both be better suited by the Gold Cup. They are here to represent the owner who sponsors the race and he already has two contenders for tomorrow’s big race.

Valseur Lido would have finished behind Al Ferof in the King George if he had stayed on his feet and that race is by far the strongest piece of chasing form this season.

It’s far from ideal from a stats view to be supporting an 11 yo but he is the horse who has long had this race as his aim and is well experienced at the Festival.

I can’t see him being good enough to beat Vautour normally but with a strong pace assured can see him coming through late to be a place contender.

With that in mind I’m adding him in as a recommendation

1pt ew AL FEROF @13/2 without Vautour (Ladbrokes 1/5th odds 123)


So todays full list of selections is:

1pt ew Our Kaempfer 14/1 advised

1pt ew Al Ferof (w/o Vautour) 13/2 advised

0.5 pts ew Buckers Bridge 25/1 advised

1.5 pts ew Smart Talk 7/1 advised

0.5 pts ew Top Wood 25/1 advised

0.5 pts ew Indian Castle 20/1 advised

10 pts staked in total

*(If Thistlecrack were to go 11/8 later on he would be 4pts win – 6/4 would be 6pts win. Both not available as yet so will not be included in recommendations for the purposes of this blog)


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham 2016 – Day 2 Preview

Cheltenham 2016 – Day 2

…but first a review of Day 1

14 pts were staked on the blog selections and that gave a return of 18.55 pts on the day (4.55 pts profit)

This was thanks largely to Altior kicking off the meeting in the best possible way with an impressive win in the opener.

Double Shuffle ran as well as could be expected to finish 3rd in the last having had every chance. Place returns there added to the funds.

The New One had no excuses in finishing 4th in the Champion Hurdle behind Annie Power. I really hope the winner isn’t shunted back to the Mares Hurdle next season when her stablemate Faugheen returns now. Altior should also be a potent challenger for that crown.

Out Sam, as I half feared found a furiously run handicap too much too handle at this stage of his career.

The real disappointment of the day was the performance of Polly Peachum in the Mares Hurdle. For one so experienced she jumped very stickily today and was up against it from a very long way out

…and now the day 2 picks

Already mentioned quickly in the weekend preview I’m a huge fan of Yanworth and think he’s a cut above these. At least he does have a serious challenger now in the guise of Yorkhill but the manner of Yanworth’s victory last time suggested he could be right out of the top drawer. He easily disposed of Charbel before that at Ascot and that one ran a decent race in the Supreme today to advertise the form.

6pts win YANWORTH 6/4 (Betfair Sportsbook)


More of That definitely has the best hurdling form and coped with the Cheltenham fences fine earlier in the year. He’s a horse who has had his problems since a brilliant win in the World Hurdle in 2014. Better ground here should be in his favour.
In the past I’ve largely concentrated on Irish bred 7yos for this race as they have a remarkably good record. The likeliest winner on that stat is No More Heroes who wouldn’t be as good over hurdles but looks to be more of a chasing natural which should narrow the gap between them. With all his form on softer conditions the ground may be a slight concern but on breeding it may well suit him.
Seeyouatmidnight was very proficient at the fences here earlier in the year and on the form on his win there over Blaklion would be a threat. He did have a minor setback after that which caused this Scottish raider to miss his intended prep race at Wetherby. His one run since wasn’t that impressive and is a little offputting.
I’m undecided on this race and it looks like a No Bet

The Coral Cup remains as competitive as ever and 5 places is a must if betting each way.
Not a race to go mad on but I think Long House Hall is still fairly unexposed and is back over hurdles after an unfortunate time over fences here before Christmas. The drying ground is in his favour and I’ll be having a small interest at 16/1
0.5 pts ew LONG HOUSE HALL @16/1 (Corals offering ¼ 12345)

The 2 mile Champion Chase is the showpiece event of the day. I wasn’t convinced that Un de Sceaux merited short price favouritism on his general form before his last win at Ascot. That effort marked him up considerably in my view and he is the one to beat.
He likes to be prominent in his races and a lot will depend on how he copes with the attention of Just Cameron and Special Tiara around him for the early lead.
Sprinter Sacre is the best 2 mile chaser I have seen for many years but he looked a shadow of the horse he was last season after health problems. He has started to redeem himself this season although still not jumping with quite the same flair he once did. If he is still 7-10lbs below his best ever level I believe that will still be good enough to win this on a course that suits him very well (much more so than his narrowly beaten Kempton foe Sire de Grugy). The question is how much he has regressed.

It would be fantastic to see him bounce back and win this for the rider who really made him what he was in his early career, Nico de Boinville. I’ll be cheering him for largely sentimental reasons (more than financial ones).

Felix Yonger has been touted as an each way pick at some Preview nights. I wasn’t sure he was at home on the course when he ran as a novice in the JLT a couple of years ago. His jumping let him down a bit there for me and I think it may be put under the test again over this shorter trip.

For blog purposes it’s a no bet race


The Cross Country Chase doesn’t really interest me for betting but I have followed the slightly quirky Third Intention for many years and if this course sparks his interest he shouldn’t be 20/1 on normal park course form. Join me jumping over the cliff again if you like!

Already on Diego du Charmil here as mentioned in the weekend preview blog but he’s gone short enough now at 6/1 and I won’t be topping up any more at that.
At big odds, I’ll throw Duke Street up as a recommendation. He’s a half brother to another decent NH performer for Dr Richard Newland’s Act of Kalanisi but was still thought well enough of on the flat to contest the Ebor meeting.
He’s already looked like a better horse over hurdles and has a win over the much worse off Duke of Medina already under his belt.
I suspect that he’ll be better suited by the decent ground he faces here and had a nice prep on the All Weather for this. I’m hopeful he can make up in some small way for the sad loss of the stable’s The Govaness at Cheltenham today
He makes decent each way appeal in what could be a very informative race for the future
0.5 pts ew DUKE STREET 25/1 (Bet 365 offering ¼ odds 12345)

The better ground could come as a big shock to many of these Bumper performers who have all been racing on deeper ground over the winter.
Assuming that it may be verging on good ground by tomorrow I’m siding with one horse who should have less trouble than most as he’s a real flat bred. High Bridge’s dam Ameerat won the 1,000 Guineas and I doubt when he was born that a trip to the Cheltenham Festival was envisaged.
He’s a late developer and did run on decent ground over the course before Christmas. The form of his second place there wouldn’t be good enough to win this but he looks to have improved significantly since.
The form of his last easy win at Catterick has been well advertised since by those finishing behind.
I suspect he may need further than this trip but with a strong pace very likely it should place more of a premium on his stamina (taking more after his sire Monsun than his mother on that score)
It’s John Ferguson’s last season as a National Hunt trainer. He’s fired numerous shots at the Festival before without success. I’m hopeful that he can finally break that duck here (2nd in this race with New Years Eve previously in 2012)
As per usual, Willie Mullins fires several bullets at this race with 6 entries. It’s anyone’s guess which is the best of these and the market doesn’t always get it right with his entries.
Look for firms who pay out on 4 places here for each way betting.
0.75 pts ew HIGH BRIDGE @14/1 (Bet Victor paying ¼ oods 1234)


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

Wednesday Lunchtime Update


Little more than an hour to go before the action kicks off.

There’s still some 6/4 about on Yanworth in the opener although he’s now slightly less on the exchanges. A lot will now depend on if the owner JP McManus gets involved in the betting ring – and if the bookies want to try and get the first favourite of the day.

More of That is seeing stronger support than Mo More Heroes in the RSA currently.

The 16/1 I advised on Long House Hall disappeared last night but is available again now with 5 places as he has drifted a small bit on the exchanges today

With plenty offering 11/2 on Sprinter Sacre now in the Champion Chase I will probably have a small ew bet with 1/4 odds a place available. That gives 11/8 on the place part of the bet and he’s no more than Evens to do that on the exchange.

With one firm offering 15/2 on Diego du Charmil in the red Winter last night I thought he might drift out to 8/1 today and become a blog bet. He hasn’t moved above 7/1 today however and can’t be considered weak in the market. There seems to be confidence behind quite a few here. There is a smattering 0f 28/1 Duke Street available now but that is with a firm paying only 4 places so Bet 365’s 25/1 with 5 places remains the preferred option

There has been a bit of support for the blog selection High Bridge in the last and 12/1 is now the best available there

No extra bets today from those advised last night so todays selections remain:

6pts win YANWORTH 6/4

0.5 pts ew LONG HOUSE HALL 16/1 (1/4 12345)

0.5 pts ew DUKE STREET 25/1 (1/4 12345)

0.75 pts ew HIGH BRIDGE 14/1 (1/4 1234)

9.5 pts staked in total today

Good Luck all!





Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham 2016 – Day 1

Tuesday has ‘Good to Soft’ as the expected ground but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s riding nearer to Good given the weather forecast

The weather has certainly been fine over the last few days as this interesting PR shot that appeared today testifies….


Short but sweet – here’s the selections with some already covered in the Preview blog
Already covered in the Preview, I’m happy to see some 9/2 available for Altior and the best option is to go with Paddy Power who offer 1/5th odds a place 1234. The extra place offered counts for a lot
Recommendation 2pts ew ALTIOR @9/2 (Paddy Power)


Douvan looks an exceptional novice and given a clear round it will be a shock if he’s beaten. Odds of 2/5 reflect this and with now only 7 runners there isn’t really an each way angle to play with. Vaniteux and Sizing John should be fighting it out for second from a form basis but there’s always a danger that if they try to take on the fav they could suffer for it and let the way in for one of the outsiders to jump into the frame. A race to watch but no bet for me now


Out Sam was my choice yesterday and I’ll stick with that although I won’t put him forward as a recommendation as the hoped for price of 8/1 is no longer there now. I do think he’s very well handicapped but it is in the back of my mind that he may not be streetwise enough for such a big field. It’s a very hot race with Holywell, Southfield Theatre and Morning Assembly all capable of performing well off their respective marks. Southfield Theatre would be marginally the pick of these for me from a price perspective at 20/1 with the prospect of the ground now getting close to the good he prefers

3.30  Champion Hurdle

Again covered in the preview and 6/1 still there for The New one so that is where the recommendation lies.

Preview night chat seems to suggest that Sempre Medici will be held out back and ridden to place rather than win so he could be the one for anyone looking for a long priced outsider.

Sadly Old Guard didn’t make it into the race due to a muscle problem
1.5pts ew THE NEW ONE @6/1 (Betfred ¼ 123)


Covered in the preview again and the ground would seem to be coming right for Polly Peachum (and quite possibly against Vroum Vroum Mag)

Stephanie Frances is interesting at a big price. Dan Skelton has stated he’ll only run her if she gets her beloved good ground and that seems increasingly likely. The trip is a question mark but if this was a slow pace (has happened in this race before) she does have a potent turn of foot. With trailblazer Desert Queen in the field however, we are more likely to get a proper stamina test

1.5pts ew POLLY PEACHUM @13/2 (Coral ¼ 123)


No bet here. Minella Rocco looks to be plotted up for this but still has to questions to prove on jumping around this course. If I were forced to pick one it would be Measureofmydreams but I could easily make a shortlist of 7 or 8 possible winners in this tricky marathon event.


This is a handicap but with only 4lbs separating the 20 runners you would be forgiven for knowing that!

I’ve had this race in mind for Double Shuffle for some time and he’s jumped around the course with aplomb already twice this season. He’s only been raised 4 lbs for a win on ground that was probably a bit too soft for him and the surface here should suit much better. He was a decent hurdler but chasing was always going to see him in a better light and hope he can get Paddy Brennan off the scoresheet on what could be a good week for him. Enhanced place terms available here with Betfair Sportsbook if you can get on with them

Double Shuffle

Aloomomo is feared and had a nice prep over hurdles at Ascot for this. He’s ben raised 11lbs since his last chase win and may well be up to that. The ground will be quicker here than what he has won on before however. At a best price of 6/1 I think the market has him plenty short enough already.
Recommendation: 1pt ew DOUBLE SHUFFLE @11/1 (Betfair Sportsbook ¼ odds 12345)

Thanks for reading and good luck!






Main news this morning was the almost nonchalant aanouncement that Vautour would head for the Ryanair on Thursday instead of Friday’s Gold Cup by the owner (last week he was quoted as ‘Gold Cup’ or nothing). This will have sent the Ryanair market into disarray. It’s good news for Cue Card supporters like myself and I imagine that Smad Place backers will take most heart from this announcement. That one is now far more likely to get the uncontested lead he seems to enjoy (Road to Riches could possibly keep him company)

As for today’s bets. Unfortunately the blog went up just last night after Pricewise (Tom Segal) put up his selections which included Double Shuffle in the last. Consequently the odds weren’t around for long on that. The 9/2 on Altior has gone but I’m surprised to see that Polly Peachum has gone out to 15/2 with some firms (giving 15/8 on the place despite that being no higher than 11/8 on exchange place only markets). This is largely due to strong support for the favourite Vroum Vroum Mag.

In the 2.50 Out Sam has hit the desired 8/1 price with a few firms and with 5 places available that is now an extra bet for the blog.


1pt ew OUT SAM @8/1 1/4 12345 (Bet 365, Bet Victor)

Day 1 selections summary

2pts ew ALTIOR @9/2

1pt ew OUT SAM @8/1

1.5 pts ew THE NEW ONE @6/1

1.5 pts ew POLLY PEACHUM @13/2 (15/2 now available)

1 pt ew DOUBLE SHUFFLE @11/1

Total stakes on day 14 pts

Wednesday preview will be online this evening – hopefully before the Pricewise beast is unleashed this time!


Tags: , , , , , ,

Cheltenham Festival Preview 2016

The blog has had to take a lengthy holiday due to work commitments but is back for the big week of the year – the Cheltenham Festival – where it’s had most success over the past couple of years.
I’ll put up some quick previews for each day the night before – starting on Monday.
Here are my early thoughts on some of the selections I am already with over the 4 day period.
I won’t put up a staking plan on these today – merely selections. In many cases, I think there may be more value to be had on the day when prices and place terms are often more enhanced. Generally speaking if a horse is 4/1 or more and ¼ odds 123 or more are available I will probably be playing each way – less than 4/1 and it’ll be win only (there will always be a few exceptions but I will detail those if we come to them)
The ones listed below are the ones I’d be more inclined to be using for angles in multiple bets (doubles, trebles,etc).over the week ahead. A staking plan will be added to the daily blog to analyse profit/loss over the 4 days.
Do always check the place terms if betting now – ¼ odds a place should be widely available next week on most races. Some bookies have already reduced the riskier each way races to 1/5th odds. This makes mathematical sense but it would be no surprise to see them revert next week to be more competitive and lure in more bets.

Onto the week ahead and the early selections….
Ground will hold sway on some of these. At the moment the course is reported as soft but with drying conditions likely over the next few days I’m largely assuming the ground will be good to soft on Tuesday with prospect of it getting better still as the week progresses.

TUESDAY (48 hour declarations due out later today which may cause market movements)

1.30 Supreme Novices
A lot of ups and downs in the market here recently with doubt concerning the participation of Yorkhill. Right now it looks like he will be running in Wednesday’s Neptune instead.
Willie Mullins/Rich Ricci have won this with favourites Vautour and Douvan for the past two years and Min is a shorter price currently than both of those two. That doesn’t mean he is as good and on what he has achieved he is too short. He is a free going sort who has won his races easily so far this season but beaten nothing of the calibre he meets here. The preliminaries are a concern to connections.
I’m much more taken by second fav Altior, who has also displayed keenness in his racing earlier this season but still found plenty of reserves to win his first couple of races. He has winning form on the course – it wasn’t impressive in beating Maputo but that was a very tactical and slow run race. He was much better of a better pace at Kempton over Christmas. I feel he will thrive here off a strong gallop and with the uphill finish and he should be favourite. He probably wouldn’t want to ground too soft but as long as it dries out as expected I’ll be cheering him on

Stablemate Buveur D’Air hasn’t faced any strong opposition this season. He has closely matched form with Altior in bumpers last season but that’s hard to take at face value now. He appeared then as a strong travelling type who didn’t finish of his races quite as well as others and I wonder whether the hill might find him out here. He may prefer the ground to stay soft also
Supasundae has been well talked up at preview nights as an each way bet. Henry de Bromhead doesn’t waste his runners here but this one has to improve his jumping and didn’t get home up the hill in the Bumper here last season after running freely early on.
At a Dublin preview on Thursday, Gordon Elliott was asked if punters should back his Tombstone each way for this race. He replied ‘no’ which doesn’t augur well for that one’s chances!
Selection : ALTIOR ew at 4/1 or better with ¼ odds 123


2.50 Ultima Hcap
This seems to be the desired race for Warren Greatrex’s Out Sam who has somehow got into the Festival with a mark of 139. The form of his last comfortable win at Newbury makes that mark stand out as being highly lenient and if 8/1 is available still it’s hard not to have some interest.
This race will be completely different – a big field racing against seasoned handicappers rather than novices. However this race often favours both novices and light weights (he should be carrying 10st 2lbs if weights don’t rise)
Southfield Theatre would be of interest at a bigger price given his previous Festival record. He hasn’t shown much this season but needs decent ground to show his best. The vibes from Ditcheat are that he is coming back to form but I’m not sure if the ground will have dried up for him sufficiently by Tuesday.
Selection; OUT SAM ew at 8/1


A wide open race since the defection of Faugheen and Arctic Fire.
Annie Power is too short a price for me considering her original aim was the Mares Hurdle and she has come in as a late replacement for Faugheen’s owner Rich Ricci.
She looked a possible runner two years ago but was diverted to the World Hurdle instead. When it looked likely she would run in the Champion she was no shorter than The New One and My Tent or Yours. There’s no evidence she has progressed since so the disparity in odds against those two is a little strange to me.
My Tent or Yours probably has the most talent but hasn’t run for a long time and that’s a major concern for a horse who has had a problem settling. Twice he has finished second at the Festival after his early exertions have left him vulnerable to a stronger stayer up the hill.
The New One appeals most at current prices. He wasn’t suited by a tactical pace last year and had an interrupted preparation. The year before he was an unlucky loser after being badly hampered early in the race. He is effective on the course though – the way he accelerated up the hill to win the Neptune in 2013 shouldn’t be forgotten. Jumping has always been a bit of an issue with this horse but he can really come up this hill well and this is the easiest opportunity to win a Champion Hurdle he will ever get. (Nice pointer for the form of the stable with Flying Angel winning the Imperial Cup yesterday)
Nichols Canyon probably has the best form this year and he could get an easy lead up front (Camping Ground the only other possible front runner by my reckoning). I’m not convinced he acted on the course here last year though and wonder if he needs a flatter track as his form at Aintree afterwards looked much better.
At bigger odds, I much prefer Old Guard who has improved a lot this year and has plenty of winning course form. The better the ground is the more I give him a chance. I wouldn’t take his Kempton form literally – wrong track and ground too soft. He holds Sempre Medici and Hargam on earlier Cheltenham form. An issue developed here at the Sandown Park preview last night when trainer Paul Nicholls said his latest piece of work had been ‘dire’. I was going to add him as a second selection but best to wait for further news emanating on his well-being for now
Sempre Medici has been put up as an each way bet by several judges at preview meetings. It seems he may be ridden quietly out the back and aiming for a place more than a win. Similar types have been placed before so it wouldn’t be the biggest shock for him to hit the frame
THE NEW ONE ew at 6/1 or better


***Sunday evening update – Old Guard withdrawn from race due to muscle problem***


4.10 Mares Hurdle
Team Mullins has had a stranglehold on this race for several years.
Vroum Vroum Mag is their short priced favourite this time. She’s won a lot of mares races very easily but for me has yet to do anything to suggest that she is a 160 type of horse as her price suggests – her actual rating is 154 and not that far ahead of anything else in the race ( no course form for her either)
I much prefer another Henderson second fav, Polly Peachum, who looks a really solid each way at around 6/1
The more the ground dries out the better for her and she was narrowly beaten in this race last year when rated 155 (now dropped to 149). The ground was far too soft for her when she still managed to beat The Govaness at Sandown (latter an obvious non stayer behind Vroum Vroum Mag at Ascot so wouldn’t be taking that as a collateral form line). She is capable of a higher level than that and is proven over the course
There wouldn’t be much to choose between Polly Peachum and Bitofapuzzle on last year’s form but the latter (if she runs) comes here from a couple of disappointing chasing efforts and apparently has had breathing problems.
The selection goes off to the paddocks after this race so am very hopeful she can end her jumping career on a high.
Selection: POLLY PEACHUM ew at 6/1 with ¼ odds 123


1.30 Neptune Novices Hurdle
I haven’t seen a better novice hurdler than Yanworth this season. He’s not a great price now but will be shocked if he is beaten such has been his superiority against decent opposition in his last two victories. Earlier in the season his jumping technique was in need of polishing up but the work on that seems to have paid off and I can’t find any negatives. One of the weeks bankers
Selection; YANWORTH win


4.50 Fred Winter Hurdle
There seem to be a lot of potential plots here in this competitive handicap for 4yo hurdlers. The handicapper might have scuppered the chances of Campeador who was an early talking horse.
I attended a preview in Dublin on Thursday where there were subtle hints that Missy Tata was well fancied before Gordon Elliott put her up as his charity bet.
The one I most want to be with though is Paul Nicholls’ Diego du Charmil who there has been a strong whisper for over the last couple of weeks and is now fav.
This race used to have a strong stat favouring highly rated flat horses but things have changed a little in the last couple of years with Nicholls having success with unexposed French breds like this one.
He has supposedly been doing very well on the gallops with much higher rated types and has been saved for this. He could be very well in here – it’s hard to judge him on his French form but his second in this race linked below looks to show a horse that had plenty more to offer….

There are a couple of others at much bigger odds I also have my eye on but will wait until the day for those.
For now the selection is DIEGO DU CHARMIL ew 7/1 or better



Not looking the strongest of the four days for me and will largely leave this until the night before
THISTLECRACK has very little negatives in the World Hurdle at 3.30 except a very small concern if the ground has become good by that time. He should be odds on and would be if he were trained by someone like Mullins.
In the new Mares Novice Hurdle at 4.50, SMART TALK appears a solid ew proposition. She’s improving with every race and would have won with a lot more in hand last time but for a blunder in the home straight.
She could be up against a very classy recruit in short priced favourite Limini but that one does have some questions to answer with her jumping. Her flat race class could carry her through but I’d be surprised if Smart Talk was out of the frame so an each way bet appears far better value

***Sunday evening update. 3rd fav Myska withdrawn from Mares Novice Hurdle. 6/1 really shouldn’t be lasting on Smart Talk now if 1/4 odds 123 are available, An each way bet becomes even better value if you can get those odds and place terms***


1.30 Triumph Hurdle
I believe the strongest trial for this may have been run over this course in January event though it probably didn’t throw up the right result at the time.
Who Dares Wins and Clan Des Obeaux finished 4th and 2nd respectively (behind Protek Des Flos) but these two started racing each other a very long way out on some very sticky ground. They paid for those efforts up the hill but in so doing kept themselves at attractive odds.
If the ground were soft on Friday I’d be inclined to be with Clan Des Obeaux who has the look of a future high class chaser.
However, with conditions likely to be quicker, I have to be with Alan King’s Who Dares Wins. He was too keen early on in that Cheltenham race and had to make the running. He still came out as marginally the best horse in the race as was giving away weight all round. On better ground and with a faster pace to come off, this decent ex-Flat racer should be a much better proposition.


It seems possible that Richard Johnson will ride given comments at Sandown last night. Alan King knows how to win this race and I think he will be the stable’s number one here on better ground over Sceau Royal.
Zubayr has to be feared after his win at Kempton recently – the same route taken by recent winners Zarkandar and Soldatino. He appeals more than Ivanovich Gorbatov who didn’t jump well enough last time at Leopardstown and is an awful price on that form
Selection; WHO DARES WINS ew 12/1 or better

3.30 Gold Cup
The highlight of the Festival and I think Kempton’s King George result is by far the strongest piece of form to go on here.
It’s debatable whether Don Cossack would have won that day if he had stayed up at the second last but I do question his effectiveness over this course given his previous record here (3rd and fell)
That leaves Vautour and Cue Card. Vautour was outstayed that day but is expected to be fitter this time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win but reports of a lack lustre gallop recently aren’t encouraging. The stamina question over further and with an uphill finish to contend with remain. On the plus side it’s hard to forget how he came right at the Festival last year with a spectacular win in the JLT.
I’m firmly in the Cue Card camp for this race to pick up a fairytale win and secure a £1 million bonus fund in the process.
Given his breeding (dam Wicked Crack as a very good stayer) it was always a surprise to see him display so much speed when he burst onto the Festival scene winning the Bumper in 2010.
He was one of the stars to develop from a stellar year of novice hurdlers in 2011 and got another Festival success in the 2013 Ryanair. He is a proven Festival performer.

Cue Card lost his way last year but after a breathing operation has come back a completely revitalised horse. He no longer runs freely out at front and can be settled comfortably off the pace – he now looks the stayer his breeding promised him to be. In Paddy Brennan he has found a new partner and they look to be a match made in heaven. His Kempton win proved he was back at the top of his game but I believe he can be better than that. His jumping there wasn’t as good as it can be and all of his best form has been on left handed courses like Cheltenham
I’m taking him to beat off a strong Irish challenger.
Don Poli is some way behind these on form but is a bit deceiving as he is the sort who keeps on winning by doing just enough. That is an admirable trait but I think he may lack some pace against others here on what is likely to be decent ground on Friday. In much softer conditions, he would be one to fear more

Selection; CUE CARD ew 5/1 or better


The blog will be back during the week with updates and quick race-by-race synopsis
Thanks for reading and good luck to all over the week ahead with whatever you back


(comments always appreciated)


Some useful links

To compare odds with all firms I use (though check individual websites as changes don’t always come instantaneously)

For further write ups on many of the Cheltenham preview nights that have occurred over the past couple of weeks:

A really interesting read (as always)from Timeform’s Simon Rowlands on sectional times for many of next week’s leading contenders


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: