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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


Grand National 2018


Welcome to my annual posting where I try to break through some previous statistics and throw in a bit of form analysis. The end aim is to try to find the winner of National Hunt racing’s premier event.

This season has been uncommonly damp. As with the Cheltenham Festival, the ground is much softer at Aintree than the norm.

The last soft ground National in 2016 proved very successful for this blog with a 34.5 pt profit (Rule The World 1st and Vics Canvas 3rd both recommended). Hopefully the wetter ground shows the blog in a good light again. When the ground wasn’t so soft last year,the winner One For Arthur came out well on the stats but was marginally edged out of my selections – Saint Are recommended then came out best in 3rd.

With the ground being so soft I would expect a low weight and proven stamina to be the overriding factors again in making selections

The runners and odds from various bookmakers can be found here

As per last year I must point out the following when going through these:

Note that place terms may well vary with some firms paying 4 places, some 5 and some 6 or even more. During the last year some firms have even offered 1st 8 for some top handicaps so don’t be surprised to see that…it’s gold dust if you can get paid out for first 8 and get a good win price into the bargain! I cannot stress highly enough that (unless betting win only) there is a much bigger advantage on your side the more places are available. If you are betting each way then avoid the firms only paying 4 places unless the win odds are markedly higher than others. Also be sure to take a price (rather than SP) as most will shorten up as we get closer to the race. There may be some competition to be best in the market tomorrow so best to check markets on Saturday morning – those that haven’t been put up by Pricewise (comes out at 8pm) or by the Sporting Life the night before might be have their best offers then

Copied from previous posts the main factors are broken down into points as such

Weight. ( W )
11 stone or less a big positive = 3pts
11st 1lb to 11st 6lb – less of chance but still not insurmountable (particularly on decent ground) = 2pts
Over 11st 6lbs = 0 pts
Stamina (S)
It may seem obvious but there was a train of thought once that 2.5 mile horses were ideal for this (largely stemming from Fred Rimell/Gay Trip victory). There is nothing to back this up nowadays.
A winner over more than 3 miles is necessary so we give 1pt for that
Not having won over at least 3 miles in hurdles or chases is such a big negative to me that it carries MINUS 1pt
Proven stamina in a competitive National like Handicap (3ml 4fur or more) =3pts
*Please note I do not consider Cheltenham’s NH Chase in that last criteria. It is over 4 miles but is for amateur riders and usually slowly run so can give a misleading stamina impression. Likewise the 3ml 7furlong Cross Country race at Cheltenham doesn’t count either as it is run at a totally different pace. 
Age (and Chasing experience) (A)
9,10 or 11 is the desired age bracket to have here and gets 2pts.
Since the turn of century (and not counting Red Marauder’s heavy ground freak race) that covers all but two winners (Bindaree 8yo in 2002, Many Clouds 2015), and all but 6 winners since 1980.
Those 8yos that have prevailed did have chasing experience on their side so get 1 pt if they have had at least 10 runs over the big fences
Streetwise 12yos can also triumph occasionally but would need a previous run over the National fences to get 1pt
A 7yo hasn’t won since 1940 so that has to be a big negative and gets MINUS 1pt. There have been 33 to try in this millennium and the best was Big Fella Thanks with 6th place in 2009 (two of this years runners Vieux Lion Rouge and Cause of Causes both returning this year tried and failed at 7.
13 and 14yos don’t often run and their price would reflect that they are past their prime. No points for them but don’t be surprised with a top 10 finish as National veterans Swing Bill and Hello Bud have done in the last 3 years. And then there was Vics Canvas of course in 2016, who might well have won but for near catastrophe at Bechers Brook on the first circuit.
Runs This Season (R)
When you realise that none of the last 24 winners came into the race without having at least 3 runs it has to be important and so is given 2pts. A run since Christmas is also important so we’ll take off a point for any that haven’t
These I think are the key statistics for which to base a scoring system and I will apply to each horse below. A total score of 10 pts is therefore possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

Here’s how the runners in this year’s renewal come out applying these factors:

GRAND NATIONAL 2017 TOTAL PTS WEIGHT PTS STAMINA PTS AGE PTS Runs this season additional comments
Chase The Spud 10 3 3 2 2 pulled up last 2 runs
Houblon Des Obeaux 10 3 3 2 2 regressing as he gets older?
Milansbar 10 3 3 2 2 needs to get into a rhythm
Thunder and Roses 10 3 3 2 2 fell on last 2 runs and didn’t finish last year
I Just Know 9 3 3 1 2
Regal Encore 8 3 1 2 2 stamina?
Vieux Lion Rouge 8 3 1 2 2 stamina?
Seeyouatmidnight 8 3 3 2 0
Raz Da Maree 8 3 3 0 2 needs heavy ground!
Bless The Wings 8 3 3 0 2
The Last Samuri 7 0 3 2 2 first time tongue tie
Valseur Lido 7 2 1 2 2
Total Recall 7 2 1 2 2 fell last time
Perfect Candidate 7 2 1 2 2
Tiger Roll 7 3 1 1 2 stamina?
Warriors Tale 7 3 0 2 2 needs decent ground?
Gas Line Boy 7 3 1 1 2 stamina?
Saint Are 7 3 3 1 0 needs decent ground?
Virgilio 7 3 1 2 1 wind op since last run
Baie Des Iles 7 3 3 -1 2 age?
Buywise 7 3 0 2 2
Final Nudge 7 3 0 2 2
Road to Riches 7 3 0 2 2
Delusionofgrandeur 7 3 1 1 2
Shantou Flyer 6 2 1 1 2
Carlingford Lough 5 2 1 0 2
The Dutchman 6 3 1 0 2
Pleasant Company 6 3 1 2 0 stamina? (going well until mistake last year)
Maggio 6 3 1 0 2
Captain Redbeard 6 3 -1 2 2
Walk in the Mill 6 3 0 1 2
Blaklion 5 0 1 2 2 stamina? wind op since last run
Alpha Des Obeaux 5 2 0 1 2 prefers decent ground
Tenor Nivernais 4 2 0 2 0
Pendra 5 3 0 2 0 wind op since last run
Double Ross 5 3 -1 1 2
Anibale Fly 4 0 1 1 2
Ucello Conti 4 3 -1 2 0 stamina?
Childrens List 4 3 1 0 0
Lord Windermere 4 3 1 1 -1 stamina? Fell last run

Some notes now on the main points scorers and a few other notable runners:

The 4 top point scorers here are all big priced contenders


‘The Spud’ represents the popular Fergal O’Brien stable and would be a big contender here if his chances were based solely on his Midlands Grand National win last season and his seasonal debut at Haydock this year. This proved his stamina in soft ground. It is what has happened since that it concerning with him being pulled up twice. It’s possible he didn’t like Chepstow when doing that in the Welsh National (hadn’t run well there before). However he then pulled up again in conditions that should have suited him ideally at Newcastle


10th last year and never seen with a chance but the ground would have been too lively for him then. The softer ground should see him in a better light and I can see him improving on that. In common with many French breds he does seem to be regressing at the age of 11 (wasn’t far off Gold Cup class earlier in his career) but that is mitigated now with a lower handicap mark. He has plenty of form in National type races and is well in with Chase The Spud on Midlands National form last year. Trainer Venetia Williams won this with 100/1 shot Mon Mome in 2009. That one was 10th the previous year. Could lightning strike twice?



The mount of Bryony Frost is another with strong form in National type races. His best effort came in one such race at Warwick earlier this year. Bryony was able to claim 3 lbs then but can’t this time. However she seemed to get on really well with him that day and got him in a perfect rhythm early. That seems to be the key to this horse – his two disappointing efforts in the Welsh National coincided with him getting out of position early and always on the backfoot. If his very able rider can get in a good position and relaxed with his jumping he’s a notable contender here




We have been here before. Thunder and Roses also scored top marks last year but got no further than the 9th fence when badly hampered by another faller. I have to wonder what impact that had on him and he’s also fallen in his last two starts. He is a former Irish National winner but his form this season gives much less confidence in his chance than this time last year


Just below top points is Sue Smith’s runner who just falls short on the age category. He qualifies on stamina from a win in Catterick’s North Yorkshire Grand National. He won that well but it wasn’t the strongest field and he has paid by having his mark raised a massive 14 lbs here.

Of the 8 point scorers REGAL ENCORE is most interesting. He finished 8th her last year when given a quiet ride out back (running alongside eventual winner One For Arthur for the first circuit). That wasn’t quite enough to convince me as yet that he qualifies on stamina as he could have just been passing tired horses who raced more prominently (would have been 10pts but for that). He’s long had ability but been  a bit disappointing and a little quirky. He does seem to go well for Richie McLernon though and it would be no surprise to see him involved.

Interestingly, Regal Encore was once beaten at 1/4 by 66/1 shot SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT over hurdles and they haven’t met since then. The latter subsequently proved a classy animal and a third in the Scottish National in 2016 augurs well. What isn’t on his side is a troubled preparation this year. He’s had only one run which isn’t normally good for this race and he’ll need to come on considerably from that form. He likes to race prominently

VIEUX LION ROUGE has been here twice before and looked to fail on stamina both times. He was better fancied for both of those efforts and his form this year isn’t the same standard

RAZ DA MAREE and BLESS THE WINGS both fall short on the age statistic but I wouldn’t count that too much against them on deep ground. ‘Raz’ can’t have the ground soft enough and if anything wants more rain to hit the course and the trip to be five miles. His problem is he is likely to get well behind early on but if the ground is really soft they could come back to him.

Age also falls against 7yo BAIE DES ILES at the opposite end of the spectrum. A 7yo can’t possibly win this race everyone cries (including me normally).. but let’s hang on here as this is no ordinary 7yo. French breds can reach maturity much earlier then UK and Irish bred horses and she was already chasing at the age of 3! She’s already won a Grand National trial and ran very well in both the Welsh and Irish Nationals when only 5. I’m very much reminded of Paul Nicholl’s mare L’Aventure when assesssing her. That one was unlucky to win the Welsh National in her 5th year and then made up for that when 6. Furthermore, one of the most impressive performances over the National fences in recent years came from another French 6yo mare, Ma Filleule, who won the Topham Trophy in 2014. In my mind, Baie Des Iles already has the maturity of a 9yo and that would make her a full 10 point scorer.


Katy Walsh (3rd on Seabass in 2012) takes the ride as per usual on this almost white mare. She is trained by her husband, Ross O’Sullivan but it would be a surprise if father Ted and brother Ruby haven’t had their say in her preparation for the big race

There are some big priced contenders that do fall flat on the scores here

ANIBALE FLY is undoubtedly on an attractive mark compared to his Gold Cup third but the weight he has to carry and lack of form in similar races are against him. I’d also have a slight concern how much that Gold Cup run on deep ground could have taken out of him.

BLAKLION came to win this race last year but stamina then hit. Under a bigger weight and in softer ground he’ll need something special from his recent wind operation to get home here I think

THE LAST SAMURI was second two years ago and has paid for that with high handicap marks since. He got too excitable in overly long preliminaries last year which trainer Kim Bailey blamed for a lack-lustre 10th. He’s a solid horse generally but the rain is against him….on better ground I think he would have been a solid bet to finish in the frame. He is wearing a first time tongue tie tomorrow


TIGER ROLL‘s form at 4 miles comes from the two races I don’t count as genuine trials for this. He’s a very enigmatic type who seems to save his best for Cheltenham now. He disappointed in the Irish National last season after winning at the Festival. For that reason, I find his price plenty short enough to follow up another Cheltenham Festival win this year

Gordon Eliott seemed worried about the ground for him when interviewed on Racing UK today. He was more upbeat about stablemate UCELLO CONTI but that one has a stamina question mark for me on his run in 2016 (unseated rider when still going well at Bechers second time round last year – too far out for stamina issues to play a factor then)

I must also mention old friend SAINT ARE who made a valiant attempt last year. He’s slipped off the age scores now at 12 but much more importantly soft ground is not his cup of tea and his form this season has been poor
So its down to the shortlist and this year I come down to these from my scores









I have to take out Thunder and Roses from these due to his recent efforts and also discount I Just Know as think he is too badly handicapped

This leaves us with six possibles. I cant get too gung-ho about Chase The Spud’s chances on his two most recent runs but because he does have some proven attributes I will have a small win only interest.

Raz Da Maree and Houblon Des Obeaux are both types who I can’t really see winning but can see getting placed. I would be looking at them with firms who pay out more than 6 places (if any exist) and if anyone offers Top 10 finish prices

Regal Encore is another excluded from larger bets due to his stamina question mark but I will still be getting involved for smaller stakes

Therefore my main two fancies  at this stage are MILANSBAR and BAIE DES ILES who will both operate in the conditions and have proven stamina. Neither have raced over these Aintree fences before but both are very experienced. Both are ridden are women and the latter is a grey. Statistics may point against both those facts but the two jockeys here are a class above many other women who have ridden here…and any trends about grey horses are totally insignificant for me. The one disappointment is the price on Baie Des Iles. She was 50/1 a week ago but she’s been gambled all week as her chance became more apparent…that price has long gone now

I’ll add some bet recommendations this evening when overnight prices and place terms become revised.

…and the final recommendations when seeing tonight odds are:

2pts ew Baie Des Iles 18/1 currently with Corals paying 1/4 odds 12345

1pt ew Milansbar 33/1 currently with Corals, Ladbrokes, William Hill all paying 1/4 12345


I was hoping to see extra places added to place an each way bet on Houblon Des Obeaux but nothing that stand out this evening. He remains interesting for top 8 market on Betfair exchange along with Raz Da Maree. 

There isn’t quite the same place terms offer out there as have seen for previous years – much more of 1/5th odds rather than 1/4 which makes the use of picking out 5 or 6 horses this year a little less attractive. This is slightly surprising given that its currently 14/1 the field on Betfair exchange right now indicating this is one of the most open Grand Nationals for years. Getting at least 5 places remains a must as it is so competitive.

If any firm does a special price on a woman rider winning the Grand National it may also be of interest as that covers the two recommendations (plus Alpha Des Obeaux thrown in)

thanks for reading and best of luck to all




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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 4 – 2018

After further overnight rain on, Thursday’s conditions were officially ‘soft, heavy in places’

TV coverage showed that the old course which had been used for the first two days was in a pretty bad state but the new course is now being used and until today had been untouched.

It may get a bit churned up after Thursday’s racing but at the moment there is only an early morning window with further rain forecast. Times in early races suggested that the ground (for now) may be slightly better than on the first two days.

It’s unlikely to dry out to any great degree and I think we can still expect Friday’s ground to be hard work with stamina and soft ground form remaining at a premium


Onto the races:

1.30 Triumph Hurdle 2ml 1 fur

Gumball was early ante post favourite for this race until comprehensively beaten by Apples Shakira in November on the course. The filly has been favourite ever since.

Gumball’s stable has been very out of form since and I wouldn’t take that form completely on face value. He did look to have Apples Shakira in trouble at one point but then found himself racing on much worse ground and finished the race absolutely legless.

He does add value to this race as is likely to be making it a good gallop with Sussex Ranger.

Apples Shakira is now 3 out of 3 on the course and proven on soft ground. She is the one to beat but my one small doubt is that she often seems to get outpaced coming down the hill before the uphill finish brings her into her element. Her chance has been improved for the smaller field this year to combat this.

The main Irish trial was won by Mr Adjudicator from Farclas. The time of that race compared very favourably to other races on the card won by Samcro and Supasundae suggesting the form was high level.

Mr Adjudicator looks a thoroughly professional type who has made the transition from flat racing well. Farclas is a different type who stood out in the paddock that day as a horse for the future. He may be able to find the improvement for this (Tiger Roll has beaten in same race for same connections before turning the form around here). If Farclas doesn’t win and retains his novice status this season he’s definitely one to keep on side of for next years Supreme!

Redicean has shown an impressive turn of foot in Kempton wins and trainer Alan King knows how to win this race. He does look the one in the race who might be best suited to a speed race and I’m not sure he will get his optimum conditions here

It’s very hard to rate Stormy Ireland on the back of one wide margin win against weak opposition and she appears plenty short enough in odds against more proven opponents at this level.

Sussex Ranger shouldn’t be discounted either with stamina being an asset. He probably pulled a bit too hard when beaten by We Had A Dream at Chepstow (winner injured and misses this). I’m just a little concerned he might not settle again here after doing similarly in his flat race prep at Kempton recently

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy have won the opening races on both Wednesday and Thursday and as he’s such a nice type I’m erring on the side of Farclas to do the same on Friday


1pt ew Farclas 7/1 (888/Unibet paying 1/4 odds 123)


2.10 County Hcap Hurdle 2ml

A very competitive handicap as always with cases to be made for many

I’ll just throw up one big price here. William H Bonney looked the best horse in the race when 5th in the Greatwood Hurdle here in November on similar ground. He pulled a bit too hard that day but came to win the race until earlier exertions told close home

He hasn’t gone on from that but all his best form comes on this course and so I’m inclined to back him now he’s back here. He’s got a nice low weight and his mark as actually dropped since that notable effort


0.5pts ew William H Bonney 33/1 (Corals paying 1/4 odds 1234 – expect firms to offer extra places here later tonight)


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle 3ml

This race is actually the one I have been looking forward to most this week!

That’s because my favourite racehorse this year, Poetic Rhythm, is here and I think the race is made for him.

Take a look at the winner role call and you’ll see its one where hardened street fighters have a great record and ‘Gorgeous George’ as he is known at home has that quality in spades


He made hard work of winning in bad ground last time but was suffering from colic only 3 weeks previously and did amazingly well to win in the circumstances. His earlier close third on the course reads very well as was giving weight to two very useful sorts that day.

Three miles isn’t really proven but he’s always shaped like he can handle it.

Santini’s defeat of Black Op reads very well now after that one’s effort on Wednesday. He is probably the form choice here but doesn’t have the experience that is usually required for this race

I may be looking with rose-tinted glasses here but there’s only one horse for me in this race and I think he’s overpriced at double figure odds


1.5pts ew Poetic Rhythm 12/1 (Hills paying 1/5 odds 1234)


3.30 Gold Cup 3ml 2fur

There was already no shortage of a pace angle in this race before front-runner American was supplemented last week. With him, Might Bite, Native River and Our Duke all happy to be at the front of affairs there is going to be no hiding place for this year’s Gold Riband

Our Duke bounced back from a kissing spine problem earlier in the season to beat Wednesday’s impressive RSA winner Presenting Percy last time (giving him weight). His odds have predictably shortened since and his win in the Irish Grand National under top weight last season was some performance for a novice.

The downsides here are the occasional jumping blips (the other three front-runners may force him into mistakes as they are all very good in that department) and his lack of course experience.

Might Bite showed his quirks when nearly throwing away the RSA last year – without running all over the track he would have been a shorter price here after killing his rivals with an amazing pace set from the front throughout. The softer ground is his Achilles heel.

Native River was my selection last year but ultimately the quicker ground that day was against him and he could never shake off Sizing John who did him for finishing speed. He’s had a quieter preparation this time and looks to have his ideal conditions.

The likely killer pace up front here could set it up for one to stalk and pounce and if there is such a horse it is Definitly Red who might prosper here. He has course form, goes on the ground and stays very well. I’m not sure the stamina is there for Road To Respect to capitalise in the final stages and Minella Rocco just has too many jumping frailties for me.

Edwulf is another strong stayer but there has to be a question mark about him returning to the course after a bizarre incident here last year when his career looked to be over at the time.

Killultagh Vic’s fall last time doesn’t inspire confidence when he’ll need everything to work in that department when competing at this level

I’m going for Native River again simply because he I think he is the most solid of the main protagonists on this ground and am struggling to see him out of the frame again


2pts ew Native River 9/2 (Unibet/888 paying 1/4 odds 123)


4.10 Foxhunters Chase 3ml 2fur

I’m not a point to point form specialist so will leave this one for now with no selection

I have heard good words for Volnay De Thaix from that sphere but there are some stamina questions

Grand Vision’s jumping has been a joy to watch this season and I think he could put a few in trouble from the front here


4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle 2ml 4fur

This race had more entries than any other at the 5 day stage and there will be plots abounding.

As a former pupil of Martin Pipe, Gordon Elliott has long been trying to win it and finally did that last year. I doubt he will settle at that one win and is again well represented

No views at this stage – if that changes I will add something this evening


5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Hcap 2ml

The getting out race (and a very good one for the blog last year!)

Another race named after a trainer and so I was an early bettor of Nicky Henderson’s Theinval here. He ran very well in the same race last year and his mark has skillfully been brought back to the same after down the field attempts over longer trips.

The fact he took part in a gallop with two stable stars in Buveur D’Air and Might Bite speaks volumes for me about how much this race means

The stumbling block is very much the ground as he’s a much better horse on a decent surface. He would be a confident pick despite the competitiveness of this race if the going here was what it was last year but on soft/heavy it’s going to be tough now

Last year’s winner Rock The World (worse off with Theinval) and his fancied stablemate Don’t Touch It are also ones that need a better surface.

I’m not sure what the stable have been doing with Vaniteux (once chasing up Douvan in Arkle before falling at the last) this season but he’s another potential plot – however he’s priced up already to allow for that

This could let in the novice North Hill Harvey who skipped the Arkle on Tuesday to run here.

Front runner Gino Trail is an admirable sort who will put them all to the sword from the front.

I prefer his stablemate Top Gamble if conditions persist. A strongly run 2 miles on deep ground and a stiff track appeal as this one’s optimum conditions. Davy Russell knows him well and it’s interesting to note that cheekpieces are now applied after a slightly sub-par effort last time out

He has dropped 10lb in the handicap than this time last year but I don’t think he has regressed to that degree and is nicely weighted now.


1pt ew Top Gamble 18/1 (Corals/Ladbrokes)


Thanks for reading once more and good luck for the final day


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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 3 -2018

Day two began with the ground still described as ‘dead’ and very much on the soft side. The forecast suggests we could have a lot of rain overnight and so ground could worse again tomorrow (check going reports in morning to see just how much but we could get some real ‘gloopy’ conditions)

Onto the races tomorrow:

1.30 JLT Novices Chase 2ml 4fur

This doesn’t have the same look of class as the two other novice chase championship races.  Finians Oscar was ante post favourite for this early in the season but after a good start his season certainly hasn’t gone to plan and it looked unlikely he would ever make it here. His bravery at jumping has been questionable but he does have the ability to win this. There has to be a question mark over him though still.

I’d like to see some course form for the favourite Invitation Only – and it’s also noticeable that Benatar’s career has been at flat tracks until now. Terrefort is unbeaten in the UK and will like the ground but also is missing any form at this track.

Shattered Love did race here last year and didn’t look to enjoy the experience so am also wary there.

Modus does have course form but I’m not fully convinced that he is up this level as a chaser.

I’m finding it possible to make a case and a negative for nearly everything here.

It’s only because I think the price is too big that I’m going to have a small play on Kemboy (probably high odds because he is perceived to be the Mullins second string).

Having seen him as a novice hurdler at Leopardstown last year he had a look of a horse who would be better in time as a chaser. He performed fairly well over hurdles here last year and I think he can cope with deep ground


0.5pts ew Kemboy 20/1 (365 paying 1/4 odds 123)


2.10 Pertemps Hcap Hurdle 3miles

Quite likely to be a bit of a slog and I think the one that sticks out as being suited to this kind of test is Forza Milan. It’s always a plus in my eyes to see anything sired by Milan when ground gets bad

I’m often exasperated in trying to guess the plans of the Jonjo O’Neill stable but think he may have had this race in mind for some time here and it’s interesting that cheekpieces are reached for first time now

Killian Moore always rides him and claims a handy 3lbs off in the ground.

He has performed well before after a break so I’m not too concerned by a near 3 month absence in the run-up to this (that could all be about keeping his mark in check).

The stable have won this race three times before and know what it takes to win it


1pt ew Forza Milan 14/1 (365 paying1/4 odds 12345)


2.50 Ryanair Chase 2ml 5 fur

With many firms still quoting Douvan here at 3/1 prices are bound to change as soon as he becomes a non runner after running today.

It would be great to see Cue Card bounce back to win this but can’t help thinking his last race was a brutal one that may have taken a lot out of him.

Cloudy Dream will be suited by the drop back from 3 miles but is a better horse on good ground.

It’s currently advantage to last years winner Un De Sceaux in my mind but doubt I will be betting on this race


3.30 Stayers Hurdle 3miles

Sam Spinner has been the revelation in this division this season and the deeper the ground the more it goes against his rivals and favours him.

Not having course form is the negative for this throughly likeable galloper but he can be expected to be attacking his rivals early and exploit any stamina weaknesses from a long way out

I would have fancied a few to be able to challenge him on better ground but on this going he is going to take some beating.

He would undoubtedly be shorter if trained by a more fashionable stable



2pts win Sam Spinner 4/1 (several offering but beware any who still quote Apples Jade and may impose a Rule 4 when that one gets taken out as expected)


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Hcap  2ml 5 fur

Far too difficult a race for me to solve at the moment and I’ll readily pass for now…


4.50 Mares Novices Hurdle 2ml

I think the Irish mare Laurina holds all of the aces hre and will be very difficult to beat but the price is too short to tempt me.

Cap Soleil may improve for the return to deep ground and is the one I might be looking at each way or in markets without the favourite


5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup 3ml 2fur

A handicap with amateur riders.

Squoauteur has been the subject of handicap plots before and with Jamie Codd on board he’s already priced in anticipation of the same.

Mall Dini also has a top amateur on board and wasn’t far away in this last year. He has also probably been aimed at this for a while but the ground looks likely to be against him

I’m happy to swerve these two and prefer another ridden by a top Irish amateur – Final Nudge.

He ran a great race under a big weight in the Welsh National and looked to be feeling the effects of that still when down the field at Sandown a few weeks later.

He won’t mind this ground and after a decent break since am hopeful he can bounce back here as he has the class to defy a high weight here. (was still travelling very well in the ultra testing Midlands National last year when departing late on last year – this race can’t be any more attritional than that)


1pt ew Final Nudge 22/1 (Corals)


Thanks for reading once more and good luck!



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Posted by on March 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 2 -2018

Day one did indeed have softer ground as we expected – some described it as dead – but it doesn’t appear to be that 1980 style ground I was expecting and race times suggest it’s not as bad as envisaged. Thankfully there doesn’t appear to be a huge course bias either. While it’s still soft the forecast suggests that it certainly won’t get worse tomorrow and with drying conditions it might not be too attritional on day 2

Onto the races:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle 2ml 5fur

Samcro is a very impressive individual and will take a world of beating but this race does have a history of short priced ones getting beat. He is the big talking horse in Ireland this year and many will be very disappointed if he is turned over.

It would not surprise me to see him win but I would rather go for an each way alternatives.

I’m happy to see Duc Des Genievres rerouted here. He was beaten by Samcro last time but was the most obvious to take from that race who would benefit from a longer trip. I think he can give the favourite something to think about. (Third horse Paloma Blue ran very well on Tuesday despite pulling away his chances again)

I also like Black Op’s chances. He probably would have won last time but for a last hurdle blip and had been in front plenty soon enough. The New One won this race after getting beaten similarly in the same race so that defeat shouldn’t detract from his chances

Next Destination is too short a price for me in relation to the other two I just mentioned. Vision Des Flos was impressive last time and his stable look to be going well now but I think he still has something to prove on form

Getting a firm that offers ¼ odds for each way purposes is pretty important here if there are similarities in win odds


1pt ew Black Op 10/1 (365 1/4 odds 123)

1pt ew Duc des Genievres 14/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook 1/5 odds 123)


2.10 RSA Novices Chase 3ml

This could be one the races of the festival and there will be no more popular winner than Black Corton and Bryony Frost. This one has a fantastic attitude and done nothing but improve all season. His jumping his assured and it will take a serious horse at the top of their game to beat him.

Elegant Escape beat Black Corton at Newbury earlier this season but the second was giving weight that day and reversed form on level terms at Kempton. The stiffer track may be in Elegant Escape’s favour….but on the other side Black Corton has course winning form

I don’t think there will be a lot between these two but the Irish pair of Presenting Percy and Monalee may be a step ahead of both.

Both have fine previous Festival form over hurdles and both always promised to be better chasers.

Presenting Percy would probably prefer better ground and did have quite a hard race last time when receiving weight and a beating from Our Duke ( the winner is a serious candidate for Friday’s Gold Cup)

Monalee’s season hasn’t gone quite to plan after a fall midway through it. It was good to see him bounce back from that next time – especially as I believe he had a slight setback just before the race – his effort can be marked up because of that.

I have backed Monalee ante post here at bigger prices so won’t be going in again at 7/2. I think he is the one to beat here but there is a slight niggle in my mind about jumping now if he is being taken on at any stage in the race.

It’s not a strong conviction though and I could equally see some attractiveness in backing Black Corton or Elegant Escape each way here.

No recommendations for now


2.50 Coral Cup 2ml 5fur

Always a very competitive handicap

I really liked Burbank’s run at Ascot last time. It signalled a return to form after disappointing efforts earlier in the season. He ran really well at this meeting last year and Nicky Henderson looked like he couldn’t contain his liking for this one on two recent preview evenings.

Really soft ground is something we just don’t know that will suit him or not but he is at the top of my shortlist…any maybe the ground won’t be quite so bad anyway tomorrow

The ground could also be better for Mount Mews but this one has won on it before. He wasn’t as adept over the bigger fences as his rivals at Ascot last time and has been brought back to hurdles. That could be a shrewd move as he has a decent mark here and this trip could be ideal

These two will be my main plays

1pt ew Burbank 18/1 (Hills, Betfred/Tote)

1pt ew Mount Mews 16/1 (Ladbrokes, Corals, Boyles)

  • an extra recommendation added here on Wednesday morning with the sponsors paying a generous 1/5th odds a place for the first 7. Graceful Legend is a tough mare who seldom runs a bad race and gets on very well with her 5lb claiming jockey. I think she paid for taking on the favourite in her last race and doesnt probably stay 3miles. She’s better judged on previous course form here and doesnt deserve to be as big as 66/1  0.5pts ew Graceful Legend 66/1 (corals 1/5th 1234567)


3.30 Champion Chase 2miles

Hard to get involved in the 2 mile chasing championship. Altior is the one to beat but hasn’t had the most straightforward of seasons and was the subject of a last minute scare at the beginning of the week. Douvan has also had a chequered career since disappointing in this race last year – he was almost retired earlier this season.

This could let in Min although I doubt he has the talent to beat either of the other two if they are on song (Ruby Walsh choosing to ride Douvan might be a slight negative but as todays Champion Hurdle showed having Paul Townend on board instead isn’t too much o a downside). He hasn’t done much wrong this year though in his preparation for this

Politologue will go on the ground and might appeal to each way punters. Not for me though given his previous form on this course (including a bizarre running out earlier in his career) which suggests to me that he is more effective elsewhere.

Reigning champion Special Tiara would have been my each way choice but the softer ground has gone against him

If Altior is 100% I’d expect him to be too good but with a few doubts seeded about his wellbeing it’s a just a race to watch for me now

No Bet at the moment but I would be very tempted by Min each way if the other big two were backed and he got to 9/2 or bigger


4.10 Cross Country Chase 3ml 6fur

A specialist race in every sense and never been one I’ve been keen on. Strong messages for both Cause of Causes and the enigma that is Tiger Roll coming from Ireland during preview nights but I’ll happily sit this race out

No bet – put the kettle on time!


4.50 Fred Winter Hcap Hurdle 2ml

Eragon Du Chanay has crept in at the bottom of the race after a dominant win on bad ground at Sandown last Saturday. He probably didn’t beat a lot that day but is well in on the back of that. It is a huge ask though to run two races in that short space of time on very bad ground.

Paul Nicholls has a great record in the race – and so do the highest rated flat horses who appear here. Both stats heavily favour Act of Valour who has to be at the top of my shortlist.

I also like his Newcastle victim Look My Way who looks to have gone forward since. This one has also won on heavy at Ffos Las. The ground can be really bad at that track and so whatever he encounters here will hold no fear. He ran really well here behind Apples Shakira last time when really putting it to the Triumph favourite. I’m sure they won’t press on quite as early here with her not to worry about


1.5pt ew Act of Valour 9/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook/Betfred/Tote/Bet Victor)

1pt ew Look My Way 12/1 (365, Hills)


5.30 Champion Bumper 2miles

The Leopardstown race where Blackbow beat Rhinestone looks the strongest piece of form here.

My initial impression was that the second might reverse on better ground at Cheltenham but that hasn’t materialised. Rhinestone’s chance is still boosted by virtue of Barry Geraghty picking him instead of Didtheyleaveuoutto. Blackbow certainly looked the better long-term prospect but I was worried about his action that day and how he would cope with better ground. That might not be such a problem now

Acey Milan has done nothing but improve this season and being by Milan should have no issues with deep ground. ( I need to see how MS Parfois performs on Tuesday first – as stated in day 1 blog I was a bit worried about stable form here)

This looks a strong race and well worth watching for future prospects. Tom George’s pair The Big Bite and Seddon both are highly regarded and shouldn’t be totally disregarded at big odds ( the trainer started the meeting in the perfect way when winning Tuesday’s opener).

(Adrian Heskin made a point of picking out Seddon as a really nice type in a recent preview evening – he didn’t have to do that but obviously holds him in some regard)

I couldn’t put anyone off Blackbow, Rhinestone or Acey Milan but will go for a slightly more speculative recommendation at big odds

0.5 pts ew Seddon 50/1 (Boyles) – would take 40/1

Thanks for reading once more


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Posted by on March 13, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 1 – 2018

The blog is back for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival!

It will be a shorter and more condensed run through than recent years due to my own time constraints this year.

I’ve detailed a few important stats when looking for winners in previous years but anyone looking to expand on that is recommended to visit the excellent site. (A lot of work has gone into this so if you do find it useful be sure to leave a donation to the worthy cause it has been done for)

It’s a completely different looking meeting to recent years though with heavy ground looking a possibility on the opening day. We have to go back to the early 1980s the see anything similar and it does put a completely different spin on trying to anticipate the likely winners this year. The stats I have used in the past may well be affected by this difference. Ability to act on the going could well have a far greater bearing than usual and could throw other statistical trends up in the air.

Reminiscence time now to see just what this sort of ground can do to decimate a field can be seen here in the 1980 renewal of the RSA chase

A lot of plans made through the winter may be up in the air now with the anticipated Good to Soft going on Day 1 no longer materializing.

We’ll know a lot more after racing has started on how bad the conditions are. There has been a marked tendency at this course when it has become very boggy in recent years for hurdles races to be dominated by horses racing on better ground on the far rail. I’m hoping this isn’t the case here but if it is I expect there to be a fight to secure the prime spot

Onto the racing – odds for each race can be found via – I will list best available price I can find at time of posting where applicable for any selections


1.30 Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle 2miles

There didn’t seem to be an overwhelming vote of confidence for Willie Mullins’s favourite Getabird at preview evenings in the run-up the big meeting. I was half expecting 3/1 to be available on the day but his price has firmed up since and he looks likely to start much shorter now. That’s a lot to do with the softer ground (good ground would have been a concern). There is still a question mark over his ability to race left-handed (same applies to his Punchestown victim Mengli Khan). It is that, and some doubts I have about the form of that race (Mengli Khan seemed to run well below previous efforts), that make me uneasy here.

Kalashnikov is most fancied of the home team and comes here after an impressive Newbury win against seasoned handicappers. He showed soft ground held no fears there but truly heavy conditions may not suit quite as much. He was beaten on bad ground at Sandown by Summerville Boy before then. That race had a slightly unsatisfactory feel about it to me at the time and I’m not so sure the winner can uphold the form given that Kalashnikov lost a shoe in the race.

First Flow is another to consider as he is also proven in deep ground but he needs to improve on what he has achieved so far. The potential is definitely there though.

Slate House has good course form earlier this season but seems to have gone backward since.

Claimantakinforgan and Western Ryder will both struggle on this going from what I have seen from them this year

The other interesting one is Paloma Blue. He was the only one to come close to the much vaunted Samcro on paddock inspection in terms of looks on his last start at Leopardstown. He took a strong hold during the race but travelled as well as the favourite turning into the straight. The earlier antics then took their toll and he weakened into third. I’d be worried that with the big atmosphere certain here he might not settle again – in which case the final hill will almost certainly find him out. If he can be settled by Davy Russell though he is a player

Marginal preference is for Kalashnikov here. He would have been an each way bet for me at 5/1 or better on soft ground but on heavy ground I’ll probably be holding fire now


2.10 Arkle Trophy 2 miles

The presence of some high quality novices at the front of the market here has frightened all but rank outsider Robinshill off and we just have 5 runners.

With three of them all racing from the front this year many are anticipating a burn-up which could have let something come in to pounce from behind.

Brain Power is the one that doesn’t need to lead but a last run fall and some below par course form don’t attract me to him.

Saint Calvados hasn’t got the hurdling form of others but has impressed greatly with his jumping in some easy wins this season. He has the ground to suit him but there is some question mark with his rather pronounced action that this undulating course may not suit as much as the flat ones he has been winning over.

Many seem to have been marking Footpad as another who needs to race from the front. He lead Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown but I don’t believe it’s something he has to do – he certainly didn’t as a hurdler. He’s been leading simply because his jumping has been so proficient and I actually think that he might be better here because he has a rival he can give him a lead.

Petit Mouchoir reopposes again and can be expected to improve on that effort. He was the best hurdler out of these but he did make some errors on that last start. I can’t help thinking that with two better jumpers taking him on he might be drawn into mistakes again – and that will cost him here

Footpad is my choice to win this. He was about 6/4 a couple of days ago but is nearer to Evens tonight. That’s a little bit too short to make him a recommendation in ground that has been suggested could be ‘puddingy’


Likewise I am loathe to oppose two short priced favs later in the card.

Buveur D’Air is around 4/7 for the feature event – the Champion Hurdle at 330 – but it’s hard to oppose him in his bid to repeat last year’s success. Previous winner, Faugheen, didn’t look the same horse on his last start. Faugheen’s stablemates – Yorkhill (ran abysmally last time out and avoided by the main stable jockeys here) and Wicklow Brave ( talented but quirky – has been known to plant himself at the start) I am also happy to discount.

My Tent Or Yours would have been an each way bet here for me given his previous record in this race but the heavy ground has to be a negative for him.

There’s easily potential for a big priced outsider to hit the frame here – it’s just that finding it is the problem with so many looking to prefer better ground. For reasons noted last year, I hope that Ch’tibello is one that can do that but he did run flat last time and was still feeling the effects of an attritional performance at Haydock. It could be that his Wincanton conqueror, Elgin is the one to grab a place. He is proven on bad ground at Cheltenham already this season (when he stuck to the far rail like glue!)

Apples Jade (also around 4/7) looks the other short-priced one that can’t be opposed in the Mares Hurdle at 4.10. She also comes here to defend her crown and looks a better horse than last year. Her opposition looks weaker still to me and so would be the more attractive option to me of the two hotpots at that kind of price. Benie Des Dieux is a more unexposed than the rest and the only who I could see representing any kind of threat


On the rest of the card I find the Close Brothers Handicap at 530 practically impossible to solve at this stage.


In the earlier Ultima Handicap at 250 I think it would take a monster effort from top weight Gold Present to win in these conditions. Last years second, Singlefarmpayment, I also have to rule out on the likely ground. My short list for this race are  three novices – Coo Star Sivola, Vintage Clouds and Ramses de Teillee.

Coo Star Sivola and Ramses de Teillee would both struggle on previous stats as 6yos but as they are French breds I’d be willing to ignore that as they do tend to mature earlier. Coo Star Sivola has good previous Festival form and looked improved for stepping up in trip last time. He was 8/1 a few days ago but there isn’t much juice in the 5/1 now (I’d like a bit more in the price to counteract the one negative in my mind which is the jockey). Ramses de Teillee comes from a stable that has to be respected in this race and will like the going. My concern here is that all his best form appears to be at Chepstow and that can be a track for specialists.

Vintage Clouds is a second season novice and was running well in this last year until falling. I think this year’s ground will be far more to his liking. Unfortunately he has been found in the market too and the 14/1 that was freely available on Sunday is long gone!

With the prices all a little below what I would want on all three it’s another no bet race for now


The final race to consider is the 4 mile National Hunt Chase at 4.50. Over this trip and on this ground this is going to be a severe test of stamina. I’m not convinced that favourite Jury Duty has the fortitude for it on this going. There were two that stood out to me as likely to appreciate both going and trip.

Firstly, the mare MS Parfois will relish the ground and has won at the course. She would have been a bet until I noticed some fairly horrendous form from her stable in recent weeks. This is a little offputting.

Therefore I am drawn to her Warwick victim, Duel At Dawn, who looks another who could be ideally suited to such a test. He ran well at this course when beaten by reopposing Sizing Tennessee but is 5lb better off with that one today and also looks a stronger stayer than his conqueror there


I wouldn’t have been nominating this one on normal ground but he could well come into his own in this likely slog and is an each way recommendation with some firms offering 4 places


1pt ew Duel At Dawn (use firms offering 1/5 odds 1234 – paddy power have best price of 16/1 at time of writing)


Good luck to all once more and thanks for reading




Summary of selections

1.30 Kalashnikov 

2.10 Footpad

2.50 Coo Star Sivola/Ramses de Teillee/Vintage Clouds

3.30 Buveur D’Air

4.10 Apples Jade

4.50 Duel At Dawn (recommended bet ew with 4 places)

5.30 PASS!


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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


Epsom Classics 2017

Epsom Classics 2017

A quick summer outing for the blog with Classics weekend at Epsom looming. The Oaks (for fillies) kicks comes first on Friday but the 238th running of the Epsom Derby (for both sexes – though it’s usually only colts) is the centrepiece on Saturday.

Northern stables can hardly claim to much success in the big race with Dante being the last horse to bring back the Blue Riband to Yorkshire in 1945.

He was trained in Middleham – just like Mark Johnston’s Permian this year – and I really think this one has very strong claims to end the Northern drought in this race.

He certainly wouldn’t be a stats pick on where he is trained – neither on the fact that he has graduated from a handicap win earlier in his career. What is in his favour is that he is highly progressive and comes here after winning one of the most notable trials – the Dante Stakes in decisive fashion at York last time. That win saw him come through a battle and ultimately win going away at the finish. He looked like a horse who would be even better stepping up to Saturday’s mile and a half trip

In both that and previous races he has looked a horse with good tactical pace – something that often is vital around the Epsom track. With a potentially large looking field, being able to secure a handy spot just behind the pace could be even more invaluable this year.

He has already proved himself around the tricky Epsom track with a close second to Cracksman (reopposing again) here earlier in the season. The form of that race has looked extremely solid – in years past it was a notable trial and for once, it would seem to be doing so again this year.


Permian has probably improved since then but on the bare form it may look like he may struggle to reverse placings with the winner. Cracksman’s big problem for me comes with his breeding. He’s by Frankel out a mare by Champion sprinter Pivotal. That really doesn’t scream a 12 furlong horse and I have a feeling that he may have been winning over his optimum trip on 10 furlongs that day

Another horse in the race, Best Solution, would also seem an unlikely winner on breeding which suggests him to be more of a miler. He confounded that by winning the Lingfield Derby trial impressively. What is notable here though is that he is owned by Godolphin – as are Dubai Thunder and Benbati. William Buick would most likely have the choice of ride of any of these yet has picked Permian (owned by another member of Dubai’s ruling family) who was especially supplemented to the race on Monday at a cost of £85,000.

As usual there is a big representation from Ireland from the Aidan O’Brien stable. While they have strength in number, the lack of choice of a mount yet from Ryan Moore tends to indicate there is no stand out performer amongst them. The market favours Cliffs of Moher most out of the raiding party. This one won the Dee Stakes last time (beating Bay of Poets – 3rd beind Cracksman and Permian at Epsom). He did look to be tapped for toe that day when Max Zorin quickened the tempo up front – that does worry me when it comes to the tactical pace aspect in this race

Eminent, another son of Frankel, is also high up in the betting. He’s the one bringing Group One 2,000 Guineas form into this but was a bit of a disappointing 6th that day. Again stamina here wouldn’t be assured on his pedigree.

For me this is a weak looking Derby. Whilst it is a Group 1 race, I’m not so sure there is a genuine Group 1 mile and a half furlong performer in the race this year. Cracksman may well prove up to that level but I suspect at 2 furlongs less. If such a type were to emerge, then Permian might well find one too good. But in the belief that he definitely won’t find three that good I make him a solid each way proposition

There are two interesting ones at much higher odds that I’ll be backing my main selection up with.

Sylvester Kirk’s Salouen ran creditably at Group level last season. He’s only run once this year when just touched off by the reopposing Khalidi – the latter had race fitness on his side. It’s fairly likely that lack of a run beat him that day yet he is available now at more than twice the odds of his rival.


He wouldn’t like the soft ground that Epsom had earlier in the week but that is drying all of time and 66/1 seems far too big. It’s just the fact that his trainer is less known that is making the odds here

John Gosden’s main hope may be Cracksman but it’s also interesting that Crowned Eagle is still a likely runner here despite his best piece of form being a Windsor handicap win. That day he did look like a Group performer in waiting – and that’s no surprise given he is a sibling of 3 Group race winners at this trip. The main worry again was that he really had to be scrubbed along early in that race to get a good position early – the tactical pace angle may be a problem. He is the one horse in the field who I can most envisage being a Group 1 performer over this distance in time – it may just be too early for him.

The 48 hour declarations for this race will be released tomorrow morning. From then on, Rule 4 deductions could be imposed to prices. Betting now would normally be Ante Post rules and non runners would be deemed losers. There are plenty of firms who do offer Non Runner No Bet and so that could be wise to use in some cases

(odds available here: )


2.5 pts ew Permian 11/1 (Boylesports paying ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts ew Salouen 66/1 (32 red/888/Unibet – all paying NRNB ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts win Crowned Eagle – taking 33/1 NRNB here where available – 40/1 is available with Hills but not 100% convinced he will run yet and would prefer comfort of stakes being returned.

Whilst, I am not sure there is a proven Group 1 performer in the Derby, there most definitely is in Friday’s Oaks in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas runner-up Rhododendron. That form was emphatically boosted by the winner, Winter, last weekend. While her stamina has yet to be proved, she is by Galileo and that has to be a positive. Her ability to act on a track like this is also something we don’t know and would be the main thing that would dissuade me from taking odds of around Evens for her to win. It’s not really that original to pick 2nd fav Enable as her main danger. Stamina looks assured and her impressive win at the tight Chester circuit gives every confidence that this track should hold no fears. The O’Brien stable will no exactly how they stand on that form having had the second Alluringly (reopposes again). The strength of money on the day for the favourite should tell us all we need to know here – the signs so far have all been positive though. 48 hour declarations have already been done for this race earlier today and 10 runners will go to post

No recommendations at current odds though I think the favourite will be hard to beat


Good luck to all with whatever you back this weekend


Thanks for reading




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