Monthly Archives: March 2019

Cheltenham Festival Day 4 – 2019

The weather gods continue to dictate matters and confound a few predictions this week. From some initially very soft ground it’s gradually starting to dry with the wind and much less rain. What happens before tomorrows meeting will dictate a few selections.

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

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

There have been a few winning favourites here for Ireland this week but we might well have the banker here in Sir Erec.

A classy stayer on the flat he didn’t totally impress with his jumping on his NH debut. Those flaws had been eradicated in his next race when he raced from the front and ran away from decent opposition and jumped  slickly

He’s very hard to oppose on that form and I would hope Mark Walsh makes similar use of him up front to give him clear view of his hurdles. As a stayer he should have no problem with the hill and I can envisage a wide margin win here.

This race was once a bit of a graveyard for favourites ( after almost 40 years I probably still havent quite come to terms with Broadsword getting nabbed!) but since conditions have changed class has usually prevailed

Gardens of Babylon was second in that Leopardstown race. He looked the pick of the paddock to me that day and one with plenty of scope to improve. He is wearing first time cheekpieces tomorrow and is my pick to follow the favourite home (and for betting without the fav markets). Tiger Tap Tap also ties in with that form and could also creep into a place with a bit of improvement expected

Quel Destin is an admirable sort who’s done little wrong this year but I think could be outclassed hre. It’s very hard to rate his stablemate Pic d’Orhy on only French form. I’m sure connections would have preferred to get a race inot him in the UK rather than pitch him in here first time


SIR EREC to win

GARDENS OF BABYLON betting without the fav


2.10 Country Hcap Hurdle

Ch’tibello is an old friend to this blog (see previous years Champion Hurdle posts). He seemed to suffer from an attritional test at Haydock last season but finally returned to form at Aintree before Christmas.

The Betfair Hurdle had to be missed because of the vaccination issues the industry faced that week but that could be a blessing in disguise now. He runs well fresh ( won Scottish Champion Hurdle after a similar break) and on both old form – and on his most recent run  – is far from badly in on a mark of 146

Slick hurdling has always been one of his fortes and assuming this is a strongly run race that should be strongly in his favour here.

I do have a slight reservation that he might be better on a flatter track but he’ll still be the one I’m cheering on here


CH’TIBELLO (likely to see some firms offering much more than 4 places here for ew bets)


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

This 3 mile test is often suited to the more battle hardened contenders  and has thrown up past surprises.

Birchdale follows that same route that Bobs Worth followed for Nicky Henderson but is a lot less experienced than that old stable star. He seems to be here rather than having to face stablemate Champ earlier in the week..

The Henderson/Mc Manus combination also field Dickie Diver here who is closely matched with Lisnagar Oscar on Chepstow form. The latter then stepped up when a very impressive winner at Haydock and is clearly going the right way. He’d improved considerable there since running behind Rockpoint at this track before Christmas (the latter has gone in the opposite direction since). Rebecca Curtis has won this race before (with At Fishers Cross) but I’m sure this one would be a shorter price still if someone else were training him. He’s my selection but any softening of the ground would be a negative – the more the wind dries the course out the better here.

Derrinross was well backed earlier in the week when the going looked likely to be very soft. He’s be the one most to profit from deep ground but at this stage that looks unlikely


LISNAGAR OSCAR ( chance decreases if ground gets softer)



3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

Native River comes back to defend his Gold Cup crown and if the ground continues to be on the soft side he looks the one to beat in Cheltenham’s showpiece event.

As per last year expect him to be in the van from the off and to try and out them all to the sword with his bold jumping. If the ground does dry it will make things harder though (the year before it wasn’t soft enough for him to shake them all off)

Presenting Percy is 2 out of 2 at the Festival and has had an unconventional preparation for this. Whether that is by design or not we’ll never though as his connections make an artform of keeping their plans to themselves. He could well win this but I’m not tempted by the price when I remember the only time he raced against horse of this class he came up short against the ill-fated Our Duke.

Clan Des Obeaux has the best form coming into this but the negative here is the course. He hasn’t performed to his best here before and has shone at flat courses far more. It could be that as he’s matured he may be able to cope better now but until he’s fully proven himself here I can’t back him at the price he is.

With Might Bite yet to seemingly recover from last season’s efforts and Bristol de Mai also not seeming to appreciate the course, it could be Thistlecrack who is best of the outsiders. The former Stayers Hurdle winner has had injury problems but showed that even at 11 years old he is no back number when second in the King George.

Kemboy and Bellshill can’t be totally ruled out but I think both might fall just below the class of some of the other principals


A few imponderables here make the big event a tricky call. The weather tomorrow will decide whether Native River is a bet or not here but if it is good to soft or softer I think he’ll be heard to keep out of the frame and therefore an each way bet

Thistlecrack appeals most of the bigger priced outsiders


4.10 Foxhunters Chase

I’m not an avid follower of the hunting scene so seldom put up a bet in this one. Experienced jockey-ship remains a huge positive. There is a huge gulf in that respect between riders like Jamie Codd and Derek O’Connor versus the enthusiastic owner/rider David Maxwell. I’d need nearly 20/1 on anything the latter rides and so will be avoiding Shantou Flyer despite that ones previous good course form. (Having said all that the memories of Broderick Munro-Wilson winning this race on The Drunken Duck prove that anything can happen here!)

No recommendation


4.50 Grand Annual Hcap

Magic Saint has been well supported in the run up to this. On form he is plenty short enough and this is more to do with quotes from the stable and from Daryl Jacob suggesting he is a top level  horse running in a handicap (compared to former star Master Minded by Jacob recently)

Anything Nicky Henderson runs in the race named after his father always merits respect here. Whatswrongwithyou is his only representative this year but again looks skinny with his lack of experience over fences. He has run in 3 novice chases that have had no more than 4 runners – this will be some baptism of fire! He’s also badly off at the weights with Brelan d’As here on earlier form.

The latter named has to be one for the shortlist but previous form at this course in a slight negative.

Le Prezien won this race last year when benefitting from late rain softening the ground. He’ll need the heavens to open again

Notanothermuddle is a lightly raced progressive type who looks best placed to take advantage if the favourite isn’t the horse connections are intimating he is


No recommendation here – I think it’s between Magic Saint and Notanothermuddle but both seem to have been found enough by the market already


5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap

I’m not convinced Dallas des Pictons has done enough to merit prices of around 7/2 here. This a race that means a lot to his trainer Gordon Elliott (once a student of Martin Pipe) but consequently his runners are often priced low because of that.

Early Doors was third last year off a slightly lower mark and interesting that he comes here again. That was a decent performance for a 5yo (todays Pertemps winner Sire Du Berlais just behind) and there should be improvement to come from that now he is a year older. He’s been pitched at a much higher level so far this season but back in a far more suitable grade now

As previously mentioned I really rate his jockey and it’s significant he’s been booked for Joseph O’Brien here.

Of the outsiders, Mount Mews should be mentioned as he’s well in on his old hurdles form. His form this season and that of his stable is the question mark.

Garo de Juilley is the outsider who stands out most at big prices. He’ll appreciate any drying out of the ground but has already won one competitive handicap this season and 138 isn’t that harsh a mark based on that. He ran a great race when seemingly totally out of his depth at Ascot and his warm up race for this was encouraging. Another case of an unfashionable trainer making the price here but Sophie Leech has picked up good prizes at big prices many times before

Big Time Dancer was very impressive when tanking to the front at Kempton last time but the ground was right up his street that day when almost verging on fast. I think he’d need a heatwave to get conditions to his liking here so will have to pass this time


Back both EW




Thanks for reading the final post of the week. I hope it’s been profitable and informative.

Blog will be back for its usual Grand National posting the day before the big race


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Posted by on March 14, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 3 -2019

Day 3 thoughts:


1.30 JLT Novices Chase

Defi du Seuil and Lostintranslation head the market here and have met twice this season . The score is 1-1. Lostintranslation came out best on this course and then came out second best at Sandown on 3lb worse terms.

Vinndication was behind them both in that Sandown race when slightly taken out of his comfort zone by the slick jumping of Lostintranslation up front. He might be even more uneasy here on a left handed track on which he’s never raced before

I think it’s hard to avoid the top two here but am narrowly with Lostintranslation back on this course where his superior jumping prowess can be used to better advantage. With bold jumping mare Castafiore also in the race I can see them both putting others jumping flaws to the test and staying out of trouble up front.

Defi Du Seuil didn’t quite 100% convince me of his jumping at Cheltenham and the hill found him out when looking the likely winner at the last fence.

I backed Kildisart on his last win but was wincing at times with some of his jumping. He made it round and warmed up his technique but I’m also worried that he might be found out at this level at a quicker pace . However he will like the softer ground and I can see him getting placed – trainer Ben Pauling has already proved himself in good form at this meeting)





2.10 Pertemps Network Final

Often an impossible handicap and this year is no easier. Everyone seemed to see the ‘ eyecatching’ ride on Sire du Berlais last time and he’s a short priced fav at around 5/1 for a race like this.

He must be on the shortlist but that’s too short a price to me to recommend in a heat like this.

His owner JP McManus has a good record in this race and also has an interesting outsider in Aspen Colorado. On his last run you can’t give him any chance but he’s had a wind op since then so probably all was not well. On an earlier Carlisle win he looked to be on an upward curve – it’s also a massive plus for me that he has who I think is the best claiming jockey in the country on his back taking off 5lbs.

There isn’t much to choose between First Assignment and NotwhatIam on their last run at Warwick but I prefer the former now back on a track he has excelled at before. He was on the face of it a disappointing fav at Haydock earlier on the season but just look at how the winner Paisley Park and seconds Shadesofmidnight have advertised that forms since


Recommendations (both ew and take as many places as you can!)





2.50 Ryanair Chase

A race I must admit to having a horrible record in previously. I did fancy Top Notch for this race but still can’t fathom why they are now running him in the Stayers Hurdle instead.

Footpad would be a worthy favourite on last years Arkle win but hasn’t really been 100% this season. News that he will be running without shoes on his two back feet isn’t what I’d want to be hearing before a race like this.

Monalee has been second at the Festival twice over longer trips and connections now seem to realise this is his optimum distance. The soft ground will be in his favour and he’s the most solid of those at the front of the market for me.

Road to Respect just didn’t jump well enough for me last time to garner favour from me at current odds

Frodon seemingly doesn’t know how to run a bad race at this course – except for his run in this race last year which concerns me again.

He’s won handicaps here with big weights – but Aso has also done similarly and is a far bigger price in comparison. If we can forgive that one’s last run on a right hand track he makes some appeal of the outsiders back at a stomping ground that suits him well



ASO (EW small)


3.30 Stayers Hurdle

Paisley Park has been a revelation in the Stayers division last season. He got a strong pace last time when a hugely impressive Cleeve Hurdle winner when he powered up the Cheltenham hill.

A well run seems the key to this horse and the worry would be that if the race was run slowly run early on  like last year he would be caught out by others in the final sprint.

Connections will be relying on Sam Spinner to set a good pace here. That’s the only front runner I can really see but his jockey had a brain freeze in this race last year when setting the fractions far too slow.

Supasundae was second last year and is consistent at this level – I prefer him more of the Irish challenge than Faugheen. For all that one’s past prowess he isn’t consistent now (though still occasionally brilliant) and comes here on the back of a fall

West Approach was second in the Cleeve Hurdle and in the belief he’ll be given more of a hold up ride this time I can see him being of interest at a big price if anyone is offering 1st 4 on their place terms

Recommendation is only a small one here because of the questionable pace angle

WEST APPROACH EW with firms paying 1st 4 (mainly because I think he’ll be ridden to place)


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

Another seemingly competitive handicap but I think the betting has it right here with Janika, Sirah Du Luc and Spiritofthegames at the top of the market.

Sirah Du Luc jumped like a stag last time when just beating Janika but I’m favouring a reversal here. Top weight for Janika isn’t ideal but plenty of decent chase handicaps at this track have been won by the top weights lately so its not overly concerning.

Spiritofthegames has been well mentioned by his trainer at preview evenings coming up to this and himself ran a great race under top weight at this track last time. He also ran very well at the Festival over hurdles last year but appears to have found his real metier now he’s gone chasing

Recommendations (probably the strongest ones of the day here by backing both these two)



(back both EW preferably with 1/4 odds 12345)



4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle

A relatively new race at the Festival. Epatante has looked very smart in her two wins this season and is clearly the one to beat. She escapes carrying penalties that others have but wears a hood and can have a tendency to pull.

Because of that I’d be reluctant to take a short price on her.

Not a big betting race for me but I prefer Sinoria who is progressing well and promises to be much better suited by softer ground and a stiffer track (her half brother won at the Festival over 4 miles and was placed in the Gold Cup)

Queenofhearts is also worth a mention as she’ll love soft ground but I can’t imagine this trip will be anything like enough to show off her reserves of stamina

No strong recommendation here but Sinoria would be a small interest (betting without the fav markets could be of more interest in this race)




5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

Thursday’s last event is a handicap for amateur riders. Pace come sometimes be a bit frenetic  with less experienced jockeys taking part and I’ll always want to be with one of the top Amateur riders who can judge the tempo better

Based on the the most obvious two are Measureofmydreams (Jamie Codd on board) and Any Second Now (Derek O’Connor). The former is well handicapped on some old Festival form but on what he’s done in his only recent race he is very skinny odds at around 6/1.

Any Second Now is starting to look like he needs a trip and makes greater appeal despite yet to record a win in 9 starts over fences.

Touch Kick and Sky Pirate would also be close behind on the shortlist but both would probably prefer better ground…something that cant be totally ruled out if winds continue to dry out the track

Of the bigger prices, Crievehill, has a decent jockey and the softer the ground the better. The trip is unproven but at around 40/1 I’d be willing to take a chance on that


Back both EW





Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you back



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Posted by on March 13, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 2 – 2019

Day 2 picks:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Champ has been favourite for this race for quite some time after two impressive Newbury wins. The last of those was in the Challow Hurdle but it should be noted that the winners of that race have a terrible record when trying to follow up here. He’s plenty short enough for me and I would have liked to see some form on this course.

Irish novice form came out clearly best in Tuesday’s opener and that may well affect prices of their challengers here. Lack of course experience (and possibly soft ground form – though he promises to be better suited by it) lightly puts me off their main hope, Battleoverdoyen,  at his current price. He’s a big horse and while he has plenty of scope to improve, I’m always a bit cautious about the ability to handle the track for horses of his size.

City Island is owned by the sponsors and has been trained for this race all year. His form might be below others here but he could do no more than win so shouldn’t be underestimated. I’d be slightly more on his side of the Irish challengers here at current prices

I don’t like to see an ‘F’ on last run before coming here which puts me off Brewinupastorm

At a bigger price I’m more interested by Bright Forecast whose form is all at 2 miles but who promises to improve at this trip

Seddon hasn’t quite delivered on early promise this season but of all the really big prices he’s the one who could outrun those odds – if anyone went 6 or 7 places on this race I’d become interested

Not a race to go heavy on but a small bet on Bright Forecast might be my play


2.10 RSA Novices Chase

Santini looked the ideal type for this race to me since his 3rd at Kempton but his preparation hasn’t gone to plan and a week ago he looked an unlikely starter

I think he’s better suited to the course than Topofthegame with whom he’s closely matched on that last run.

Delta Work was a winner at the Festival last year and has become favourite in the last week with an unblemished record over the bigger obstacles

Of the bigger prices the Ascot 1-2 of Mister Malarky and Now McGinty, plus Irish raider Mortal,  should all appreciate the softer ground. I can’t help thinking all three would have had better chances on Tuesday’s 4 mile race but easy to see any of them running into the frame if this develops into a stamina test

With the uncertainty over Santini, I’m unlikely to getting too involved here


2.50 Coral Cup

A highly competitive handicap but Just one horse to mention here that stands out to me. I doubt connections thought that JOKE DANCER would have got into the race 2 days ago but he made it right at the bottom of the handicap and could be very well in

He’s a very scopey type who is well regarded by his astute Northern trainer and I’m sure he would be a lot shorter price than 33/1 is trained by someone more ‘fashionable’.

He came back from a wind op to score impressively at Newcastle as his prep for this and only being raised 5lbs seems quite lenient on that….he’s now on a mark of 132 but I think he could be a 140+ horse

This is a rise in class and a new trip but one that promises to suit

I definitely think he’s good value at 33/1+


Joke Dancer EW 33/1+


3.30 Champion Chase

Hard to see past reigning champ Altior here but that is reflected in his short odds. He’s beaten Min twice here at Cheltenham before and that one looks the likeliest to follow him home again.

With Sceau Royal and Gods Own likely to need better ground – and Politologue never showing his best form at the track, Castlegrace Paddy appeals as some value for each way bets at 33/1

Soft ground looks to be a positive for this one and with Davy Russell doing the steering I could see this one being ridden more for a place than to beat the favourite


Castlegrace Paddy EW 33/1


4.10 Cross Country Chase

The enigmatic Tiger Roll will be hard to beat for sure but as stated in previous years this isn’t really a race for me


4.50 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

It used to be very profitable to follow the highest rated flat horse in this race. Lethal Steps  is clearly that and has to be on the shortlist with the only downside being a possible stamina issue

Stamina is also the worry for likely fav Band of Outlaws. He was a very impressive winner last time out but on this course and in soft ground it has to be questionable that a horse who didn’t get more than a mile on the flat will get home up the Cheltenham hill.

Preference is for Joseph O’Brien’s other runner FINE BRUNELLO. He has good course form and looked to have more to come on that run. Stamina and soft ground won’t be issues here


Fine Brunello EW


5.30 Champion Bumper

A smaller field than usual here might mean they don’t go the usual breakneck pace. That might not help stamina laden favourite Envoi Allen.

I think he’s plenty short enough.

Ask for Glory is a rare runner in this race for Paul Nicholls and has done little wrong in his career so far. His best days are ahead of him but he’s one to keep on the right side of

At bigger odds, The Glancing Queen powered up this hill to win earlier in the season and shouldn’t be underestimated getting her mares allowance. I think her course form looks better than Master Debonair but that one is a shorter price


Ask for Glory

The Glancing Queen



Thanks for reading once more – and good luck



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Posted by on March 12, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 1 – 2019

The blog returns for its annual bash at trying to find some winners at National Hunt racing’s showpiece meeting.

I’ve included some stats for previous years posts but as last year it would be pointless to do the same again when does a far more comprehensive job. I’d very much recommend this for those who follow such trends – but do remember to contribute to it if you do

This year’s blogs will be kept quite concise due to time limitations. Comparison of odds and place terms can always be found at

Weather is always a major factor and this year appears wetter than most (after a mild Winter seeing not too much traditional Winter ground). As of Monday, the ground is described as Good to Soft (Soft in places). Whilst Cheltenham drains very well (and with the water table likely to be low this year to help that) it should be noted that a wet morning is predicted by the Met Office on Tuesday. Soft ground looks increasingly likely by the time the crowd does its traditional roar for the first race.

Onto the action for Day 1:
1.30 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle

The curtain raiser looks a very competitive affair this year and I could easily make a case for half of the 18 strong field.

Early favourite Al Dancer has drifted out from 7/2 to 5/1 since the final declarations and would be attractive at that except the drift is probably due to him not being declared with his usual headgear of a hood this time. There’s some quite close form lines between his main rivals which is seen by the closeness of them in the betting.

It looked a bit too hard for me whilst expecting 3 or event 4 places to be offered but when William Hill decided to offer 1/5th odds for the first 7 it suddenly became a lot more attractive.

It would be hard to lose with such an offer that can’t be profitable to them and I’m most attracted to backing THE BIG BITE at big odds with those terms. His price of about 40/1 isn’t offering massive value for win only but then that gives 8/1 to finish in the first 7 I have to think that is far too generous.

Representing, last year’s winning trainer/jockey combination he looked a proper prospect with two impressive wins on left handed tracks. Upped in grade at Kempton, he struggled to cope with a sharp right handed track and I think will be much better suited by this course. Nevertheless, it should be remembered he gave weight to his rivals that day (Mister Fisher and Thomas Darby 8lb and 3lb worse off).

He’ll cope with any softer ground ( something I can’t say for two rivals at similar odds – Thomas Darby and Itchy Feet) and should benefit from the strong gallop likely to be set by Elixir de Nutz and Brandon Castle

I’d probably prefer him to have had another race before this so winning the race could be a bit of a stretch but this is much more about the enhanced place aspect of the bet



The Big Bite 40/1ew (taking 7 places with Hills)
2.10 Arkle Trophy

On paper this is a weak renewal compared to recent runnings.

Glen Forsa impressed with his forcing tactics and jumping last time when upsetting hot fav Kalashnikov. He certainly won’t have an easy time up front here though with Articulum, Ornua and Knocknanuss all others who like to race from the front.

This should suit a hold up style horse and Lalor would be my idea of the winner if it wasn’t for the forecast rain.

His form at the course before Christmas looks the best on show but he subsequently disappointed when the ground got deep at Sandown.

With some doubt about the fitness of his jockey (Richard Johnson) after a fall today I’m reluctant to get involved on this race

No recommendation
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

Coo Star Sivola was a winner for the blog on this last year and has to be on the shortlist again carrying only a 3lb higher mark. His form this year though isn’t so encouraging so I’m turning to last year’s 3rd and 4th as the picks now

Both VINTAGE CLOUDS and BEWARE THE BEAR are proper stayers who will appreciate any rain putting an emphasis on their stamina and have proven themselves at the track. They might be vulnerable to any lurking improvers but again this is all about big prices with enhanced place terms

At about 20/1 and 16/1 respectively they are most attractive with firms offering 5 or 6 places

Up for Review was the other for my shortlist but his price has droped markedly since 16/1 appeared yesterday (now closer to 8/1). He was given an eyecatching ride last time when racing wide throughout. His previous form at the course is the negative that just puts me off a little


Back both Vintage Clouds 20/1+ and Beware the Bear 16/1+ ew with firms offering a minimum of 5 places
3.30 Champion Hurdle

The centerpiece of the days sees and intriguing 3 way battle between reigning champ Buveur D’Air, Apples Jade and Laurina

On her form this season, Apples Jade is clearly the one to beat for me but there are concerns that will stop me from backing.

She was a disappointing fav at the meeting last year when later found to be in season. Connections are worried that the trip from Ireland could bring that on again and we’ll only know what form she is in by her demeanour in the paddock. Price movements late on here should tell us what we need to know.

I’m not totally convinced Buveur D’Air is totally at home on this track despite winning two Champion Hurdles. Last year’s race wasn’t a top class one but he didn’t have an ideal preparation.

The other protagonist Laurina is a dreadful price on what she has achieved. She’s never been raced at this level before and the low odds are all about her stable/jockey combination. If she wins she can be considered a new superstar but I’d need much bigger odds to take any risk on her

No Recommendation


4.10 The Mares Hurdle is another race I’ll happily leave alone. With the current Black Sheep of the betting industry owning the first and second in the betting don’t expect the roof to be raised if either win. Lady Buttons would be a popular win for the North but the lack of experience of her jockey at the course puts me off her as an each way bet to oppose the favs

No Recommendation


4.50 Close Brothers Hcap

RIDERS ONTHE STORM interests me most here. He was value for far more than his actual winning distance last time when not doing much in front. That has probably helped him to get a mark of 141 when he has the look of a 150 horse to me.

I don’t think he would have been out of place in the Arkle earlier in the day on that form and all his main form is at 2 miles. His connections only entered him in this race though and it’s clearly been a long term plan (trainer won the race before with Fingeronthepulse).

He’s likely to need to be held up late but there aren’t many better exponents of that type of ride than his jockey here in Brian Hughes


Riders on the Storm ew taking 8/1+ if you can get it


530 National Hunt Chase

I have slight preference for Ballyward over Ok Corral at the front of the market but this could be a real slog over 4 miles with all the rain that is forecast, I think both may be a bit too short because of that. (There are a couple of runners I would have fancies more for this race that have both been diverted to Wednesday’s RSA which has killed some interest now here for me)

No Recommendation

Good luck with whatever your selections are and above all enjoy the meeting!


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Posted by on March 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

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