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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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2017 Grand National

2017 Grand National

Welcome to another blast of stats that hopefully will pinpoint the winner of this year’s big race at Aintree.

Runner, riders and all of the odds can be found here

(scroll down the page to find full list of odds and place terms from every firm)

Note that place terms may well vary with some firms paying 4 places, some 5 and some 6 or even more. 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

In common with the last 2 years I have attempted to pinpoint the main factors needed to find the winner of the big race.

In 2015, Many Clouds defied most of these (too young, carrying too much weight) but subsequently proved himself to be an exceptional winner. Sadly, this warrior gave his all in beating the new star of the NH chasing scene, Thistlecrack, earlier this year and he is no longer with us.

In 2016, the system proved much more effective highlighting the winner Rule The World (advised 50/1) and 3rd Vics Canvas (advised 80/1) as selections. A 34.5 profit such as from last year will be hard to replicate but we can but try!

The key factors I look for are weight, stamina, age and number of runs this season. 2015 was run on good ground and 2016 had softer conditions. I think it’s likely that on decent ground the weight factor becomes a bit less important – currently it’s looking that we will have fairly similar conditions this year. However, with only one horse carrying more than 11st 6lb this year (The Last Samuri), this factor won’t be dismissing too many runners at all

The factors are broken down into points as such (taken from my 2015 post)

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 the there was Vics Canvas of course last year, 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 possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

So here is how this years runners stack up given these criteria:

Houblon Des Obeaux 10 3 3 2 2
Bishops Road 10 3 3 2 2
Saint Are 10 3 3 2 2
Just A Par 10 3 3 2 2
Rogue Angel 10 3 3 2 2
Thunder and Roses 10 3 3 2 2
Gasline Boy 10 3 3 2 2
The Young Master 9 3 3 1 2
One For Arthur 9 3 3 1 2
Vicente 9 3 3 1 2
Raz Da Maree 9 3 3 1 2
Bless The Wings (res) 9 3 3 1 2
Cause of Causes 8 3 1 2 2
Regal Encore 8 3 1 2 2
Ucello Conti 8 3 1 2 2
Pleasant Company 8 3 1 2 2
O’Faolains Boy 8 3 1 2 2
Lord Windermere 8 3 1 2 2
Measureofmydreams 8 3 3 2 0
Goodtoknow 8 3 1 2 2
Doctor Harper 8 3 1 2 2
Viva Steve (res) 8 3 1 2 2
The Last Samuri 7 0 3 2 2
More of That 7 2 1 2 2
Perfect Candidate 7 2 1 2 2
Wonderful Charm 7 2 1 2 2
Tenor Nivernais 7 2 1 2 2
Definitly Red 7 3 1 1 2
La Vaticane 7 3 1 1 2
Saphir Du Rheu 6 2 1 1 2
Roi Des Francs 6 2 1 1 2
Wounded Warrior 6 2 1 1 2
Blaklion 6 2 1 1 2
Ballynagour 6 3 -1 2 2
Highland Lodge 6 3 1 2 0
Stellar Notion 6 3 -1 2 2
Cocktails At Dawn 6 3 -1 2 2
Drop Out Joe 5 2 1 2 0
Double Shuffle 5 3 1 -1 2
Knock House (res) 5 3 1 1 0
Sambremont (res) 5 3 3 -1 0
Shantou Flyer 4 2 1 -1 2
Vieux Lion Rouge 4 3 1 0 0
Le Mercurey 3 3 -1 -1 2

***Now confirmed that all 4 reserves will not get into the race***

Now some comments for the top points scorers from this list:



Venetia Williams’ charge seems to have been around for years but is still only 10. In his pomp he was rated as high as 162 and capable of holding his own in the highest class. Like many French-breds he seems to have regressed a bit earlier and is down to a mark of 149 here. Runs in the Welsh and Midlands Grand Nationals this season confirm his stamina. His best form has always come on soft ground and unlikely to get conditions here. I’m not sure his hard slog in the Midland Grand National so recently will be a great prep for this and that was also off a 5lb lower mark


Kerry Lee’s runner was very fancied for this last year but failed to make the cut. He ran in the Topham instead but got no further than the first fence. His form this season has not been so good and he has a marked preference for much softer ground than he will get here



Second in this race in 2015 (from a mark of 143) and fancied last year off 146 (was one of the blog selections) but was pulled up. The ground is the key here and the rain that came last year effectively killed his chances. The stable is in good form and the booking of Davy Russell is a positive. At the moment the ground looks to be in his favour although I’m sure connections would have wanted to see no watering taking place. It should still dry out enough by 515 to not be an inconvenience to him. Strangely for an 11yo tomorrow will see him wearing blinkers for the first time (has worn a visor before)


His record in the Whitbread Gold Cup (2nd and 1st in last two years) gives this one his stamina credentials. He hasn’t performed over this course in two previous tries although the ground could be an excuse. Should get his favoured conditions tomorrow though he had them at Musselburgh recently and was pulled up then.



Mouse Morris won this with Rule The World last year and has two great stats fits running here as these two have won the last two runnings of the Irish Grand National. Mouse has few peers in getting one ready for a big race so although something for both to find on form this year we can be sure they will be primed for this. Bryan Cooper had the pick of 5 runners this year from the Gigginstown team and sided with Rogue Angel (he did pick the wrong one last year though!). Rogue Angel did have a spin over these fences in the Becher Chase before Christmas – that was down the field but probably just a sighter for this – and more importantly it didn’t push up his handicap mark


The Ian Williams stable is in fine form recently and that has to be a positive on this one’s side. There are some negatives to balance though. He got no further than the first fence in this contest in 2015 and has been a horse in the past who seems to need things to go his own way to be seen at his best. In a big field like this he may struggle with that. Stamina points come from a win at Haydock in 2014 where things did go his way – but there have been a few other attempts where he has struggled to get home. Although Gas Line Boy does get full points they may be misleading in this case



Being an 8 year old he may be a year too young but he’s be far more experienced than most his age as he started chasing at 5. Although ridden by an amateur in Sam Waley-Cohen that can’t be construed as a negative here. Sam is the most successful jockey riding over the National fences with 5 wins over the course on his cv and a close call with Oscar Time in this race. I’m not always convinced that the Whitbread Gold Cup which he won last year is as good a stats pointer as other distance hcaps but it was still a good performance for a relatively your horse to win as he did. Trained specifically for this race by Neil Mulholland he ran a nice trail when 5th at Cheltenham in his last run


Representing Scotland. Another who is really a year too young but displayed some dour stamina qualities when winning at Warwick in January. He had previously ran very well over this course in the shorter Becher Chase when staying on strongly in 5th. His Warwick win has seen him rise substantially in the handicap here to a mark of 148 from 137. That puts him worse in with the 4 horses who beat him in the Becher. This longer trip will be totally in his favour but connections would probably have been happier with some rain to soften the ground



Bought by Trevor Hemmings to replace Many Clouds. Another 8yo but being French bred that might not be such a negative and again he’s quite experienced for his age. Demonstrated that stamina was his forte when winning the Scottish Grand National last season. He got good ground there and that’s a must – conditions are looking right for him again. Trained for the race and is a noticeably better horse in the Spring. The one negative would be if he is a good enough jumper. In days of yore I think he would have struggled more but the easier fences these days will help his cause. The booking of top northern jockey Brian Hughes is a bonus.


At 12, this Irish challenger could be a year too old but he has some fine performances in staying chases on his cv. His second to Native River earlier this year was probably a career best but that did come on his favoured soft ground. On the likely conditions tomorrow it’s easy to see him getting too far behind as he did here in 2014 when staying on late into 8th


At number 41 in the list he is first reserve and needs one to drop out to get in. Another 12yo so maybe a year too old but his second in the Irish National last season puts him into the mix. Denis O Regan has gone close in the race before on Black Apalachee. Likely to be held up and the sort to run into a place if he gets in

** Update – now confirmed that with no withdrawals Bless the Wings and the other three reserves will not get into the race ***

That covers all those with 9 pts or more

Of those with 8 I have to give particular note to CAUSE OF CAUSES. He’s a bit of an oddity in that he has US flat breeding and started off looking like a 2 mile hurdler. He tried this race as a 7yo in 2015 off a mark of 146 and finished 8th. In the last 2 seasons he was won the 4 mile NH Chase at Cheltenham and the 3ml 7furlong Cross Country Chase. As previously noted I really err on the side of caution in using those two races as stamina guides for this. If I did include either he would get 10 points. It’s also worth noting that for the 3 previous seasons after excellent performances at Cheltenham he disappointed on his following start. This may be an indication he was trained for that meeting far more – that could be the case again

I won’t go into detail on every other single runner but here’s a few notes on others that are well fancied in the betting and the negatives I have that sway me against them:


6th last year and 4th in the Becher Chase this season. That shows the fences hold no fears but he still hasn’t conclusively proven he has the stamina. His form also looks fairly exposed now and the handicapper hasn’t let him off enough to make me think that a place might be the best he can hope for


Anything ridden by Ruby Walsh has to be given a second look but his stamina for such a test is a big question mark. All his form comes on a softer surface also


Fine effort to be second last year off 10st 8lbs. That effort and another fine performance over the course in the Becher Chase since have not gone unnoticed by the handicapper and the burden of 11st 10lbs is likely to prove his undoing for me. He’s a real trier but not the biggest horse to shouldering top weight in this test


Former brilliant winner of the World Hurdle but had problems since. Still a classy individual who was 6th in the Gold Cup (worse off with Saphir Du Rheu who was one place ahead). His stamina over this trip is completely unproven but much the biggest issue with me is the fact he has only had 8 chase runs in his life and lacks the requisite chasing experience I would be looking for. He is the choice of Barry Geraghty to ride in this over Cause of Causes



Another Northern hope who is vying for favouritism. Stamina certainly not proven for me and he gave no encouragement for that before falling in the 4mile NH Chase at Cheltenham last season. Has had a largely upward curve this season except for his Haydock effort. That was much the most competitive race he faced and his jumping was put under pressure there. I have a feeling this one may prefer smaller fields and will be out of his comfort zone with 39 others in the race


5th in the Gold Cup and so could have a fair mark from that effort. Stamina this far is unproven though and his jumping has looked suspect more than once in his career. Also at 8yo he could be a year to young


Last seasons RSA winner was outstayed by Vieux Lion Rouge at Haydock. His stamina for this is also a question on his earlier Hennessy Gold Cup effort and at 8 he may be a year too young


Has demonstrated these fences hold no fear for him when winning the Becher Chase in 2015 and second in the same race this year. He might have been unlucky then as looked the likely winner but idled on the long run in to let Vieux Lion Rouge get past. Stamina looks to be a big issue over this longer trip though and only having one run this season is a big negative also


At 7 the stats are totally against him and his stamina is totally unproven (related to Nil Desperandum who was 4th in this and a very strong stayer). He could be a National horse of the future but worrying that connections thought he sulked when fancied at Cheltenham in November. The big field here may not be ideal.



Has been vying for favouritism since his Becher Chase win and another dour effort at Haydock. That might have confirmed his stamina but he didn’t look to get home last year. It could be the combination of age and ground were against him then but he hasn’t had the requisite 3 runs this season either. Far too many negatives for me for the price being offered


Of the full 10 pt scorers I am particularly drawn to the Mouse Morris pair – Rogue Angel and Thunder and Roses. They are both really strong stats fits for me. The lack of experience over the course for the latter’s jockey Mark Enright is the biggest negative I cand find here.

Saint Are has to be selected as well as the ground looks to be right for him this time. If it does rain or if they water the ground too much then I would have less hope

Vicente and The Young Master have both done enough by this point of their careers to suggest that being 8 might not be such a negative for them.

Narrowly missing from the final list are Houblon De Obeaux and One For Arthur (both would become more interesting if the ground were a bit softer). Bless the Wings is another with definite place chances but at time of writing is still the first reserve and needs one to drop out to get a run.

Once again with extra places being offered I have no problem giving several selections here but taking extra places is imperative (and taking 1/4 odds rather than 1/5th)


2pts ew Rogue Angel – take 25/1 with firms offering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

1pt ew Thunder and Roses – take 33/1 with firms oofering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

1pt ew Saint Are – take 40/1 with firms offering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

1.5 pts ew The Young Master – take 20/1 with firms offering 1/4 oods 5 places or more

1.5pts ew Vicente – take 25/1 with firms offering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

Total outlay 14pts – (1 point can equal £1, £10, £20..whatever equates to budget in all cases)

Good luck to all with whatever you back (and as always lets hope all runners and riders come back safely)




One For Arthur wins for Scotland! As mentioned he was very close to being one of the selections but I thought the ground had just gone against him. Hopefully some were less dissuaded by that and stuck with him as stamina firmly won the day again. He fitted every stat needed except age where ideally he would have been a year older.

As for the actual selections, it was unfortunate to lose Vicente, The Young Master and Thunder and Roses all quite early. Rogue Angel had a great spin up front for most of the way but ultimately faded away badly in the home straight.

It was left for Saint Are to run onto into a place and rescue some returns from the recommended investment.

1pt EW at the recommended 40/1 would have returned 11pts – therefore a loss of 3pts on the day from the suggested 14pt investment.

The great news is that all 40 runners and riders returned safely from the event.

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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Day 4 review

Cheltenham Day 4 review

Another Cheltenham Festival comes to an end.

This has seemed a bit of an attritional one at times but the blog recommendations finished with a flourish on Day 4 with Rock The World winning the finale in good style

The day started with selection Ex Patriot running a smashing race in the first and he looked a possible winner approaching the last. He couldn’t come up the hill as well as the winner but it should be remembered he broke loose before the start. I’d be inclined to rate him as the 2nd best horse in the race behind Defi Du Seuil and if he gets similar good ground at Aintree he’s be one to keep on the right side of. That track’s less testing nature should suit him ideally

L’Ami Serge and Wonderful Charm came agonisingly close to winners. I think Katy Walsh might have been a bit too busy marking her main market rival On the Fringe on the latter in the Foxhunters – both had a lot of ground to make up from 3 out and it just proved too much to pull back stablemate Pacha Du Polder

Penhill’s win in the Albert Bartlett showed the skills of Willie Mullins to a tee. He would never have been a thorough stayer on the flat but his strong pulling tendencies have been rectified. I remember Mullins doing similarly with Simenon who went on to be high-class on the flat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Penhill doing the same – we could see him at Royal Ascot in the summer?

The real one to take out of the Albert Bartlett for me though was the 2nd Monalee. I’m sure he would have been hard to beat on softer going and he should be a very potent force in the novice chasing ranks next season. He’s be at the top of my list as next year’s RSA winner right now

Sizing John put stamina doubts to bed in the centrepiece and was a decisive winner in the Gold Cup. Native River made it a test as expected but didn’t jump quite as well as I’ve seen before – he put in a lot of short ones. Softer ground would have helped but he’s still a young horse and will have other chances in this race.


Hopefully both make it back next year. If Thistlecrack can return from injury and Might Bite and Yorkhill can join them it could be quite a year. (Jessica Harrington also has another very strong potential candidate to add to that list in Our Duke who purposely missed the Festival)

I hope everyone’s had an enjoyable week. A full synopsis of results for the 4 days is listed below. There were a few near misses but ultimately a decent profit on recommendations

The blog will be back for its usual Grand National focus the day before the big race (Sat April 8th). It will be hard to match the success of last year’s race but I can but try!

Thanks for reading throughout the week





Summary of recommendations :

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+0.88 pts)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123) – won (+11.25 pts)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1 – lost (-1pt)

Day 1 performance – Stakes 9pts Returns 18.13 pts

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123) – lost (-2pts)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1 – lost (-1.5 pts)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (lost -0.75 pts)

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345) (lost -3pts)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/4 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234) (lost -0.6pts)

Day 2 performance – Stakes 9.85pts Returns 0

Day 3

2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 2nd (level)

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan 20/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd (+3pts)

0.5 pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123) lost (-1pt)

1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper 12/1 (1/4 odds 1234) 4th (+3pts)

0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (1/4 odds 123) lost (-1pt)

0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234) lost (-1.5 pts)

Day 3 performance ; Stakes 12pts   Returns 14.5 pts

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123) NR (loser with ante post rules -1pt)

0.25pts ew Ex Patriot 40/1 (1/4 odds 123) lost (-0.5pts) – anyone getting 4 places would have had a return

0.5pts ew Wait For Me 18/1 (1/4 odds 12345) lost (-1pt)

0.5pts ew L’Ami Serge 33/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd (+3.62 pts)

1.5 pts ew Native River 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 3rd (level)

1pt ew Native River 5/1 (1/5 odds 1234) 3rd (level)

0.75 pts win More of That 14/1 lost (-0.75 pts)

1.5 pts win Wonderful Charm 11/2 lost (-1.5 pts)

0.25 pts ew Salsify 40/1 (1/5 odds 1234) lost (-0.5pts)

0.5pts ew Rather Be 14/1 (1/4 odds 12345) lost (-1pt)

1pt ew Rock The World 14/1 (1/4 1234) won (+17.5 pts)

Day 4 performance; Stakes 14.25pts  Returns 29.12 pts

For the full 4 day festival the total performance for the recommended bets is


45.1 pts




16.65pts (36.9%)

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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham 2017 – Gold Cup day

Cheltenham 2017 – Gold Cup day

The third day of Cheltenham dispelled any ideas that the Wille Mullins stable were under a cloud with a 4-timer for the Closutton trainer. Un De Sceaux dominated from the front in the Ryanair while Nichols Canyon returned right back to form in the Stayers ( a result I really couldn’t see coming)

It would have been interesting to see the result if Top Notch had met the second last fence better giving Yorkhill the impetus. He was pulling the deficit back on the run-in but the favourite could have been idling a little as well.

Barney Dwan ran a great race in the Pertemps and for a time looked the likely winner when kicking clear on the home turn. Unfortunately for him, Presenting Percy must have been a grade race winner masquerading as a handicapper and cut him back on the run to the last.

Thomas Crapper also came up against an Irish winner who was well ahead of his mark but still claimed place money.

There was much sadness to follow though when Toe the Line fell on the flat and broke a leg. She had to be put down. Thoughts must go the connections.



Early thoughts for the final day of the meeting below

(Friday lunchtime updates added where applicable at foot of each race)

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle 2miles (and nearly 1fur)

Odds can be found here:

The championship race for 4yo hurdlers. Quite a few in this race have displayed their best form on softer going and will be hoping that the course is watered again this evening. It still may not be ideal conditions for them. This would include the favourite Defi Du Seuil and the main Irish hope Mega Fortune for me.

Master Blueeyes won’t mind the ground and the form of his easy Kempton win has already been franked by Flying Tiger’s win the Fred Winter (Evening Hush 2nd reopposes). He was visually very impressive but clock watchers weren’t quite so bowled over by the win

Charli Parcs was hot favourite for that race but looked to be up against it when falling. I’m slightly surprised to see him at the Festival after that mishap but the jungle drums from the Henderson stable continue to beat on this one’s ability and he has been well backed again in recent days.

It’s worth noting that him and Defi Du Seuil were due to meet earlier this year at Cheltenham. Charli Parcs was made a non runner that day and Defi Du Seuil won it. In the morning they bet around 4/5 Charli Parcs and 2/1 Defi Du Seuil for that race before the withdrawal

I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him bounce but cannot bring myself to back a horse at such a low price after a fall. Jumping fluently in this race is a real necessity for me.

Mega Fortune, Bapaume and Landofhopeandglory are closely matched on form earlier this season. I think we may see improvement from the last named on this ground and he could represent some value at double figure odds

Ex Patriot was just outstayed by Dinaria Des Obeaux last time on soft ground. He’s held by others on Leopardstown form but I think is one of the bigger priced ones who we could see step up on better going. His partner Rachael Blackmore can’t claim her normal 3lb allowance here unfortunately but she is riding on the crest of a wave right now

Unfortunately my ante post selection , Forth Bridge, was not in the final declarations. I’m not sure why as he already had Brian Hughes booked to ride. I hope the horse is ok as he’s one to watch for the future.

No recommendation for this race as yet. In the past, firms did offer ¼ odds 1234 for this race. If that happens again this evening I may add something then. 

A few firms have chalked up 40/1 with 1/4 odds Ex Patriot as I look again this evening (it doesnt appear that any are offering 4 places as yet) He’s a horse I could quite see running into the frame on the better ground here so will have a small play:


0.25pts ew Ex Patriot 40/1 (Stan James, Betway offering 1/4 odds 123

Friday update

Not much discernible move at the top of the market. Mega Fortune did look the best of the Irish challengers in the run-up to the race but is drifting no doubt due to not getting his favoured soft ground. Ex Patriot still available at 40s in a place but is slightly less on the Exchange now

NOTE Stan James now offering 1/4 odds 1234 – back to the good old days in the 20th century when that was fairly standard for this race. It was a much bigger field in those days though and often had shock results. Ex Patriot at 33s appealing with them…also Evening Hush at 50s is worth noting as she could have an easy time up front if connections revert to the tactics that seemed to suit her well earlier this season

2.10 Randox Health County Hcap Hurdle 2ml 179yds


Ivanovich Gorbatov won the Triumph Hurdle on this card last year when he got the good ground he needed. He might well have support again with similar conditions but I couldnt see any physical progress in him since last year when seeing him at Leopardstown recently. I think he may have peaked last year

North Hill Harvey represents the Skelton team who won this with Superb Story last year. Like that one he’s been put away since his Greatwood Hurdle run at the end of November.

Wait For Me ran very well in this race last year and comes here off a lower mark. The good ground should also be in his favour and he’s very much at the top of my shortlist. He went very close in the Champion Bumper a couple of years ago surrounded by the likes of Moon Racer, Modus and Yanworth. He’s been a little disappointing since in relation to those and has taken time to master his hurdling and has pulled a bit too hard. Interesting that he sports a tongue tie tomorrow. I’m not too sure about the form of the Hobbs stable this week so will be watching the run of Defi Du Seuil with him in mind

L’Ami Serge is also one I like at big price. He is high in the weights but has long looked like he has a big race in him. It’s a long time since he has run in a handicap but there’s a chance a fast paced event like this could suit him. Don’t expect to see him until late on the scene.

Court Minstrel is another to note back on his favoured good ground. He’s slipped down to a decent mark after disappointing efforts on soft going. It could be that he prefers a flatter track than this though (have a feeling Aintree might be more for him)


0.5 pts ew Wait For Me 18/1 (Bet 365 paying 1/4 odds 12345) – Lost (-1pt)

0.5 pts ew L’Ami Serge 33/1 (Betfair Sportsbook paying 1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+3.62 pts)

Friday update

Wait For Me is certainly the best backed horse here since last night with 11/1 the best available right now. Vosne Romance backed at bigger prices but was a highlighted Pricewise selection. One of last nights favourites, Mick Jazz, is now a non-runner so there may be a small Rule 4 deduction to come off earlier prices taken


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle 3ml

Gordon Elliott has already had a great Festival and Death Duty has long been considered his best hope and banker for the meeting.

I would expect him to be very well backed tomorrow.

This race can be a real test for a novice though and it isn’t always a case of the best horse winning it…it’s the one who can slog it out best who often prevails.

Monalee has been a victim of Death Duty already this season but is a lovely big chasing type with a future ahead of him. All of his form has been on much softer ground – something we would expect from a son of Milan. The undulating course is also something that would concern me for him so much as I like this individual there is too much against him here for me.

Wholestone has been my long-term fancy for this event. He won here in a good time over an inadequate trip and has lots of track experience. He’s the grinder in the pack for me who may be best suited by this test.

The only downside to his chance came up at a preview evening where Carl Llewellyn (connected with stable) intimated he may have had a setback since that last run. The stable’s runners haven’t really been shining this week yet

He holds Ami Desbois on earlier form. The Worlds End and Constantine Bay appear to be similar gutsy types but their form so far is just a little below – plus both are unproven on the track.

Penhill was quite a talented handicapper on the flat for Luca Cumani but often ran too free for his own good. He also had some stamina limitations in that sphere which would concern me at the business end of this race (it’s usually strongly run and should be again)

No recommendation at this stage…it would have been Wholestone each way but for a few niggling points in my head about his well-being. I hope I am wrong about them as I think he’ll take some beating here if he brings his A game to the table

Friday update

No surprise to see that Death Duty has shortened given all of the strong vibes from his trainer in the last few weeks. Every chance he will be shorter still on the off. Consequently most others are drifting. Monalee was the Pricewise selection and he has stayed fairly steady in the market



3.30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup 3ml 2fur

The centrepiece event of the meeting so a runner-by-runner analysis here


Looks brilliant at times but that mostly seems to be when the ground is very soft and on less undulating courses. Reportedly not right when well behind Native River but for me he needs this race to be run at his favourite stomping ground Haydock to have a chance




Formerly trained by Philip Hobbs where his talent was sometimes blighted by indifferent jumping. Now with Henry de Bromhead in Ireland he was very impressive in easily winning atop handicap last time. Has the class to be competitive but I think may be found wanting when he has to dig deep on the final hill



One of the great stars of the National Hunt scene in recent years. I fancied him strongly for this race last year. He fell then when yet to be asked a question. A year on and to me he doesn’t look quite the same horse this time round.


Soft ground may be necessary to him now. Looked impressive at Ascot last time but that is slightly dampened when seeing that Tenor Nivernais recorded quicker sectionals in a handicap on the same card (and over a longer trip)

He will raise the roof here if he wins



Placed in the last two years (last year after an interrupted preparation) but has also fallen twice here in different races. A little disappointing on the face of it when beaten by Outlander at Leopardstown over Christmas. He has been the best backed horse in the run up to this year’s renewal but is another whose best form comes on softer going




Beaten in today’s Ryanair Chase and almost certain to be declared a non runner



Previous winner of the Novices Hcap Chase here and had Cue Card behind when winning at Wetherby on his seasonal debut. Decent performer at his best but well behind in 5th last year and needs a leap of faith to fancy him here



Winner of the 4ml National Hunt Chase last year when beating Native River. Jumping has always been an issue with this horse despite undoubted ability. That can’t be a weakness at this top level



Possibly boasts the best single piece of form here over his career when he resoundingly beat Annie Power in the Stayers Hurdle. The world looked at his feet then but he’s had a lot of problems since. At one point he was even entered for the Cross Country Chase at this meeting. In the process of running very well until unseating close home last time. If his mercurial trainer has got him back to his best he would be a very serious contender

more of that



This young chaser has done nothing but improve since winning at Aintree last season (where he first seemed to click with Richard Johnson aboard). His Hennessy win wouldn’t be Gold Cup winning form on the face of it but a tremendous weight carrying performance in the Welsh National certainly is.

Stamina is his greatest asset so expect him to put his rivals to the sword from some way out with some aggressive jumping. Softer ground would have been an asset so watering tonight would be to his advantage



His Leopardstown form is exemplary and would have to put him into the mix but away from there it seems to be a slightly lower level. Stamina unproven quite this far and fell here in the JLT last year (still going well at the time)



Jumping doesn’t always seem fluid enough for this former Stayers hurdle runner-up. He’s up against it on all recent form. Trainer thinks he could get into top 5 or 6 but place terms on offer don’t really go that far!



Spent most of his early career having to watch Douvan’s backside over shorter trips. Finally got his day in the sun when winning the Irish Gold Cup last time out. The good ground should be in his favour more than many and he’s still relatively unexposed at 3 miles. He will be stepping into unknown territory from the home turn where his stamina will be tested

sizing john



Previous Hennessy winner who failed at this level last year when at the peak of his powers. Form this year doesn’t give encouragement for anything better



Just behind Cue Card in the King George at Kempton (might have been closer but for trying to race with Thistlecrack too early). All of his best efforts come at that track. His only try at Chleltenham was a disappointment but he was found to be not right that day. Still evidence points to him being best on a right-handed track so something to prove here. Partnered as usual by Lizzie Kelly, the sole female rider in the race





The ground could well be the overriding factor here. Native River would be my clear choice as the one to beat if it were a bit softer..but he has enough form on the sort of ground he should encounter here to give encouragement that it won’t be too much of a handicap. His style of running would be very close to that of recent winners, Coneygree and Denman. He’s still going to be difficult to keep out of the frame for me but he could just be vulnerable to something with a turn of foot in quicker conditions. Sizing John could be such a horse but I’m not 100% convinced on his stamina yet. More of That is prehaps most interesting of the outsiders. He’s had his problems but has the class and the stamina to win if the signs of a renaissance last time are true


1.5 pts ew Native River 4/1 (use firms offering 1/4 odds 123 – Bet 365, Corals, Ladbrokes cuurently)

(NOTE a few firms pushing out price slightly since I put this up earlier today and 9/2 can be found – taking 1/4 odds is important though)

0.75 pts win More of That 14/1 (Stan James, Ladbrokes, Coral)

Friday Update

As expected, Empire of Dirt is out. The horse for money is Djakadam no doubt encouraged by Mullins’s 4-timer yesterday. Consequently the Tizzard pair, Cue Card and Native River have drifted out slightly with 5/1 now available on both.

Skybet’s 5/1 with 1/5 odds 1234 would now be particularly attractive on Native River for me so adding to the recommendation here with

******1pt ew Native River 5/1 (1/5th odds 1234 Skybet)*****




4.10 St James Place Foxhunters 3ml 2fur

I don’t follow the point to point scene enough to know all of the form here.

On The Fringe has dominated this race in the last 2 years. His ‘trial’ race at Leopardstown this year was far more encouraging than his effort in the same race last year. He still managed to win here last year but it augurs well that he looked in much better terms with himself this time. He is 12 now so isn’t getting any younger but the talent is still there

The ground will be far more favourable to him this year as well but that also applies to Wonderful Charm who mixed it with the best in previous seasons under normal rules. I don’t think there should be a lot between these two in odds but the latter is much the better value right now

Katy Walsh has been drafted in to ride this talented horse who was one of the easiest winners you will ever see at Musselburgh earlier this year (Will Biddick rode him the last twice but is under contract to ride Ask the Weatherman here)

Ask the Weatherman is an up and coming horse in the Hunter chase world but would seem to prefer softer ground.

Salsify (previous winner but also now 12) and Paint the Clouds have both performed well in this before and will appreciate the soft ground. They would be each way possibilities at bigger prices (would especially look in ‘betting without the favourite’ markets here)


1.5pt win Wonderful Charm 11/2 (Bet Victor, Bet 365, Skybet)

added recommendation;

Salsify is a previous winner of this and this is the first time in a few years he has his desired good ground again. A few firms paying 4 places here so an each way play is added at a big price

0.25pts ew Salsify 40/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook paying 1/5 odds 1234)

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap Hurdle  2ml 4fur

Another highly competitive handicap where more scrutiny is required.

Gordon Elliott would love to win this one as his formative years were spent with Martin Pipe. The Storyteller looked an obvious plot but he had to be withdrawn last weekend. Runfordave has been transferred from the Coral Cup to this race purposefully to try and secure that victory. He would be at the top of my shortlist right now

Check back later this evening for more on this race

A bit more on this race now. Whilst Runfordave remains high on the shortlist there are two I prefer more.

Battleford was a close 2nd in the Festival Bumper last year and could have a lenient mark off 135. He has been largely disappointing over hurdles but is slowly getting there.

Top of my list though is Nicky Henderson’s Rather Be who just failed over a shorter trip last time (keep an eye out for Coeur de Lion in the Triumph earlier who narrowly beat him). He also ran in the Bumper back in 9th but looks to have made the transition to hurdling much better. I think this longer trip will suit him well and his mark of 136 looks attractive.

His stablemate Thomas Campbell looks a hard ride and not ideal for this sort of race.

No Comment is current favourite and his last win has been boosted by the second winning at Sandown last weekend. That form was on softer ground and with a slight question mark on stable form I wouldn’t want to be a backer at single figure odds


0.5pts ew Rather Be 14/1 (Bet 365, Betfred paying 1/4 odds 12345)

5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Hcap  2ml

Another competitive handicap to finish off the meeting.

For obvious reasons Nicky Henderson usually has a few runners in this but this year only has Theinval. That could be a tip in itself as the horse is on a good mark compared to his hurdling rating. His best form has come over a longer trip though.

I think last year’s race could be the key here.

Dandridge finished 2nd that day with well backed Rock the World just behind him in 3rd. Rock the World is 5lb better off for this. (Solar Impulse the winner is also back but has changed stables since and appears to have lost his form)

The latter has had a wind operation since his last run. He hasn’t raced since October but it was the same story last year.

The Harringtons who train him are very close friends of the Hendersons and I think this race will mean a lot to them also.

rock the world

I think he’s been trained specifically for this and gets the ground he needs

Le Prezien has avoided other races this week to run here. He is a novice and his jumping this year would give me concerns now he is mixing it in this more competitive grade


1 pt ew Rock the World 14/1 (Betfair Sportsbook 1/4 odds 1234)



Thanks for reading both today and through the week.

Best of luck with whatever you back







Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+0.88 pts)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123) – won (+11.25 pts)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1 – lost (-1pt)

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123) – lost (-2pts)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1 – lost (-1.5 pts)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (lost -0.75 pts)

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345) (lost -3pts)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/4 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234) (lost -0.6pts)

Day 3

2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 2nd (level)

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan 20/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd (+3pts)

0.5 pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123) lost (-1pt)

1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper 12/1 (1/4 odds 1234) 4th (+3pts)

0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (1/4 odds 123) lost (-1pt)

0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234) lost (-1.5 pts)

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123) NR (loser with ante post rules -1pt)

0.25pts ew Ex Patriot 40/1 (1/4 odds 123) lost (-0.5pts) – anyone getting 4 places would have had a return

0.5pts ew Wait For Me 18/1 (1/4 odds 12345) lost (-1pt)

0.5pts ew L’Ami Serge 33/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd (+3.62 pts)

1.5 pts ew Native River 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 3rd (level)

1pt ew Native River 5/1 (1/5 odds 1234) 3rd (level)

0.75 pts win More of That 14/1 lost (-0.75 pts)

1.5 pts win Wonderful Charm 11/2 lost (-1.5 pts)

0.25 pts ew Salsify 40/1 (1/5 odds 1234) lost (-0.5pts)

0.5pts ew Rather Be 14/1 (1/4 odds 12345) lost (-1pt)

1pt ew Rock The World 14/1 (1/4 1234) won (+17.5 pts)

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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham 2017 – Day 3

Cheltenham 2017 – Day 3

Gordon Elliott’s good form continued on Day 2 with 2 more winners (Cause of Causes and Fayonagh). Unfortunately, Shattered Love wasn’t one of them – she just didn’t jump well enough to get into the race at all and maybe would have preferred slower ground

Whisper came within a whisper of giving the blog recommendations a winner in a pulsating finish to the RSA. Might Bite had it easily won, then showed his wayward tendencies to throw it away only to rescue the race again once he had company. A very talented horse who could be a Gold Cup contender next year…though the King George at Kempton might just suit him better.

The capitulation of Douvan in the feature race was quite a shock. With Special Tiara having an unharried lead he had it all his own way. I thought beforehand he wasn’t quite the horse he was but was conclusively proved wrong there. My outside fancy, Simply Ned was well enough positioned but ultimately disappointing once they quickened downhill.

A massive gamble on the Irish raider Linger in the Fred Winter proved badly off target

Not a great day for the blog selections but there’s always another day….


Early thoughts and some selections for Day 3

(Thursday lunchtime updates where applicable at end of each race. Now racing on the New Course. Watering took place last night so ground now Good (good to soft in places) > it could get quicker as days progresses if drying conditions persist

1.30 JLT Novices Chase 2ml 4 fur

Odds can be found here:

Yorkhill is a very talented horse who won last season’s Neptune and would have been a strong contender in yesterday’s Champion Hurdle if not moving to chasing.

He does have his own ideas about racing and in a recent schooling session at Leopardstown there were some very hairy jumps early on before he settled into it. I wouldn’t be considering him as a safe bet to get round here based on what I saw. He can pull very hard as well but that hasn’t stopped him winning in the past.

Politologue has looked very good in his novice chase season but did get a bit worked up last time at Haydock and I would worry about him in the preliminaries here. He’s also had two below par runs at the course (including a very strange jinking out manoeuvre in his first visit here).

Disko’s form in Ireland is pretty solid and as he likes to race handily so will make this race a good test. He has never raced here before and his best form comes on a softer surface.

Top Notch would be my choice as he seems a proper little professional and has got better and better with his fencing through the season. He has good Festival form already.

top notch

He might be a little behind Yorkhill in terms of hurdling form but he’s much more solid  and I find it hard to see him out of the top 3.

Look for 1/4 odds available here – with 8 runners though we really do not want a non runner to emerge which would cause there be to be 2 places instead of 3


2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (Bet 365, Stan James offering 1/4 odds 123)

****Thursday update*****

Some opposition to the favourite Yorkhill who has drifted from around 2.35 to 2.6 on the Exchanges. Top Notch has stayed strong in the market and 4/1 now gone. He would have appreciated the overnight watering I think


2.10 Pertemps Hcap Hurdle Final 3 miles

Another of the week’s highly competitive hurdles with too many runners for me to go through in too much depth. For now I will just fancy on the one I do fancy

Barney Dwan has been an extremely unlucky horse this season. He probably should have won his first two chases but for mishaps and although running well over hurdles since, I think he can show his true colours again now that the ground is improving. Hopefully, he has already exhausted his quota of bad fortune already this season.


He is trained locally and Paddy Brennan has been very bullish about his chances in the recent Preview evenings. He is 7lbs better off with Impulsive Star from his most recent run. That was on a much softer surface and was probably more about qualifying him for this final

Tobefair has to be mentioned as he has kept winning all season despite the handicapper raising him throughout. He started his winning run off a mark of 81 and his last win came off 134. He’s on 143 here but we have seen such types win at the Festival before (Hunt Ball had similar progress in recent years). Expect him to give his all again but I wonder if softer going would have helped him


Look for firms paying 1/4 odds with 5 places here

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan (Bet 365)



2.50 Ryanair Chase 2ml 5fur

A sort of ‘middle distance’ championship race but one that has confounded me to pick the winner of it for many a year

I have to admit this is one race I have really struggled to get a proper handle on and seldom have any luck finding the winner of.

It doesn’t help matters that one of the main contenders, Empire of Dirt, is still among the entries for the Gold Cup on Friday so can’t be thought of as a guaranteed runner.

Un De Sceaux would probably have run in the Champion Chase if the same stable’s Douvan hadn’t been foaled (they could be rueing that now after today’s result!). Connections have mooted that they consider him more vulnerable on the good ground than they do over this longer trip.

Uxizandre was very impressive when winning this race from the front in 2015. He has had his problems since and only run once this season. He will be hard to beat if in the same vein of form but there remains a question mark on that. Wayne Hutchinson is now riding after some jockey switching today. He’s much underrated and will know the horse very well – this certainly won’t do his chances any harm

Until Empire of Dirt’s participation is known it’s hard to make a proper judgement. Given my terrible record in this event it’s very unlikely I will be making a recommendation though!

***Thursday update****

No sign of Empire of Dirt being taken out of the race. He would be my marginal selection but really have no strong view and happy just to watch this race

3.30 Sunbets Stayers Hurdle 3miles

Nice to see this race come back to it’s old title of Stayers Hurdle after a few years of being renamed the ‘World Hurdle’

Harry Fry’s charge Unowwhatimeanharry has dominated this division this season and won the Albert Bartlett here last season.

It’s hard to knock his chances but the one chink could be that his best efforts have been on softer going.

He beat Cole Harden giving him weight last time (West Approach 3rd). On that basis it would be hard to see a reversal but that was on totally the wrong ground for the second. He’s a previous winner of this race, loves good ground and likes to run from the front.

West Approach is a novice and it seems apparent that the stable preferred to run him in Friday’s Albert Bartlett. That would have been much more his level but it seems the owners preferred to race here instead

When he did win, Zarkandar, looked to be the likely winner coming down the hill until a catastrophic error ended his chances. Paul Nicholls’ ex Triumph hurdle winner had been looking to be on a downward curve since until bouncing back at Haydock last time (first run back after a wind operation). He isn’t getting any younger and is still prone to errors at crucial times but if back to his best again is a big contender.


Shaneshill has lots of both winning and placed Festival form. The ground should also suit him and I can see him reaching the frame again. I’m just not sure he has the class to win it.

Jezki seemed disappointing when beaten last time (form not advertised by Tombstone today). I’m not quite convinced this is the trip for this former Champion hurdler.

Connections seem to be playing with the trip with Nichols Canyon now and he doesn’t look to be enjoying life too much this season. I find it hard to fancy him despite being Ruby Walsh’s choice.


I’m just willing to give Zarkandar a small each way interest with his price appealing as the best value right now. He certainly has the class to go close and looked to have rediscovered some sparkle last time.On softer ground I wouldn’t be looking beyond the favourite but just worry he could be vulnerable. Cole Harden shouldn’t be far away back on his favoured surface – if Ballyoptic (think this one had a wind operation since his last run) doesn’t take him on up front he could get an uncontested lead which would increase his chances.

I’m looking to see how the odds and place terms develop here but Cole Harden and Zarkandar both looking possible each way recommendations later

Added Recommendation

Upon checking updated odds a few firms have pushed out Zarkandar to 28/1 and are offering 1/4 odds…this will do for me. If Cole Harden goes to 10/1 with the same place terms he would be of interest to join him

For now:

0.5pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123 – Ladbrokes, Stan James, 888)

****Thursday update ****

No real movements in the market amongst the principals. Hope of 10/1 for Cole Harden disappeared when Pricewise put him up. Shaneshill looks noticeable weak on the exchanges

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

Probably the race title that trips off the tongue most easily at this meeting!

Diamond King has been well touted in Ireland and already has been backed significantly. He’s a previous festival winner who will appreciate the ground but is still a novice.

Starchitect is another novice at the front of the betting who also seems to be carrying plenty of stable confidence. His jumping errors over hurdles often cost him dear but so far he’s unblemished over the larger obstacles – albeit at a less competitive level

An old friend of mine, Thomas Crapper, has crept in right at the bottom of the weights and stands out to me. He’s previously finished 2nd twice at the Festival (on a mark of 134 both times) and lines up here off 133. Both the horse who beat him, Don Poli and Irish Cavalier went on to much better things. He had hinted at a return to form a few times this year on unsuitably soft ground but defied those conditions last time to bounce back at Newbury. I don’t think I have ever seen him jump as well as he did that day and even with a 5lb penalty he’s on a winnable mark here. The ground is right up his street and he’s well proven on the course. He would rate as one of my stronger selections for the handicap races this week. He’s formed a great association with his jockey Charlie Poste over the years and hope he can finally get that Festival win tomorrow


1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper (take 12/1 with 1/4 odds 1234)

***Thursday update****

The recommended bet Thomas Crapper is the main mover here. Pricewise selected him as well yesterday and 8/1 now the best price on offer. C’mon Thomas!

4.50 Troll House Stud Mares Novice Hurdle  2ml

Only the 2nd running of this event but it’s attracted a strong Irish challenge.

The Mullins pair, Lets Dance and Airlie Beach, plus Forge Meadow have already taken on the boys this year and beaten them. They set a high standard but after results from the first 2 days there has to be some concern over the form of the Mullins team

La Bague Au Roi is a lovely mare representing the home side. She’s been kept fresh over the winter while waiting for this better ground. She runs from the front and will try to run them into submission

At a much bigger price though I am plumping for another Irish runner to run a big race – Toe the Line. She is a listed class performer on the flat who has come to hurdling late. It’s all about the ground conditions for me here…she has form on softer but really needs a decent surface to be effective. She’s finished 4th in the Ebor H’cap on the flat and that kind of class could really shine through with a decent gallop here (hoping we get one as many races haven’t been that truly run). She stays well and can produce a turn of foot in a competitive race



0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (Betway paying ¼ odds 123)

(365 were offering 40/1 for a brief time while writing but that seems to have gone now)

****Thursday update*****

Another clash with Pricewise here so all of the biggest prices disappear on my pick Toe the Line. Continued support today has seen her come down to a best of 16/1. She is one who I probably wouldn’t have wanted to see the ground being watered for. This race is late in the day though so hopefully conditions have quickened up again by then!


5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Hcap 3ml 2 fur

An amateur riders handicap nothing is standing out for me so far. I may come back to the race later but will be concentrating on the horses ridden by the best amateurs who are not claiming weight

A bit more late evening study on this one comes up with this:

It’s natural to be drawn to Squoauteur representing the in-form Gordon Elliott yard. There aren’t many better amateur jockeys around than Jamie Codd who has also ridden two winners here already – plus he has won this race 4 times! The downside is the price which is pretty skinny at around 5/1. Squoauteur has sometimes looked like he has been looked after a bit in his races so he might be well handicapped here..just a bit too short for me.

Mall Dini won at the Festival last year and has another top amateur in Katy Walsh on board. Signs are that he hasn’t quite adjusted to the chasing sphere yet but again he could have been handled a bit tenderly in his preparation!

I prefer some more solid form and my eyes are mostly drawn to Whats Happening at 16/1. For a 10yo he hasn’t got that many miles on the clock but goes on good ground and has very decent course form. His jockey, Richard Harding has also rode the winner of this race twice previously.

Of the others, Potters Legend is a novice but makes some appeal now he is going back up in trip. Lucy Wadham’s stable is in good from right now and there’s another very good pilot in Mikey Legg on board here.

Thursday Update and added recommendation:

Good to see Whats Happening is attracting support overnight so I am now adding as a recommendation . 16/1 is gone but 14/1 still available in places


0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234 Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)







Best of luck with whatever you back

Thanks for reading







Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+0.88 pts)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123) – won (+11.25 pts)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1 – lost (-1pt)

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123) – lost (-2pts)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1 – lost (-1.5 pts)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (lost -0.75 pts)

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345) (lost -3pts)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/4 odds 123) (lost -1pt)

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234) (lost -0.6pts)

Day 3

2pts ew Top Notch 4/1 (1/4 odds 123) 2nd (break even)

0.75 pts ew Barney Dwan 20/1 (1/4 odds 12345) 2nd ( +3pts)

0.5 pts ew Zarkandar 28/1 (1/4 odds 123)

1.5 pts ew Thomas Crapper 12/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

0.5 pts ew Toe The Line 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)

0.75 pts ew Whats Happening 14/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)


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Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Chase Day

Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Chase Day

Day 1 started with a shock when Labaik finally decided to start a race and then decided to show just how much ability he had. Whether we will get to see this again remains to be seen – it’s quite easy to see a repeat of Browne’s Gazette happening when he went onto the Champion Hurdle the following season where all hope for the short priced favourite was lost at the start

The blog recommendations had a successful day – thanks largely to Apples Jade repelling the dual challenge from the Wille Mullins team in the Mares Hurdle. Singlefarmpayment went agonizingly close to getting another win but was beaten in a photo finish.

Edwulf looked like finishing 2nd before appearing to break down badly on the run-in. It looked very bad for him at the time but subsequent tweets appear to suggest that he may recover. Fingers crossed that he does.

Charbel wasn’t a recommended bet but gutting to see him fall when really giving Altior something to think about in the Arkle. I hope the fall doesn’t have any lasting effects on him because he has real potential at this division next year.

From a recommended outlay of 9pts, the suggested bets returned 18.13 pts. A 9.13 pt profit on the day and a good way to start the meeting

Onto the day 2 recommendations………..

(Wednesday lunchtime updates below each race where I have anything extra to add)

1.30 Neptune Management Novices Hurdle 2ml 5fur

Neon Wolf probably put up the best performance for a novice hurdler this season when winning at Haydock. His sectional time was better than Champion hurdle contender The New One on the same card. (Elgin 2nd didn’t really advertise the form in the Supreme)

He will be all the rage here but it is worth remembering that the ground was soft that day. Connections intimated afterwards that his participation at Cheltenham wasn’t a given as might be ground dependent.

Bacardys is the main market rival having outstayed stablemate Bunk Off Early last time. The latter ran freely in the Supreme today and was well beaten so no advert for that form either

Of the home contingent, Willoughby Court‘s best run has come on much softer ground than he’ll get here but he is likley to make this race a good stamina test from the front. Messire Des Obeaux is battle hardened and consistent and may well benefit from this. He definitely is an each way option to consider

I have already made my bet on this race and it was stated in last week’s blog. Shattered Love represents the Irish mares division which has looked strong this year and I’m sure she will improve for this longer trip. (Stable won Tuesday’s opener with the enigmatic Labaik and then had 2 more winners so not exactly in bad form!)

If you followed me in at 25/1 we are ahead of the price now

(Previously recommended 1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1)

Wednesday update

Shattered Love has shortened again since last night and 10/1 best price currently. Pricewise selected her and I’m sure the rich vein of form the stable was in yesterday has a lot to do with it. Let’s hope the money is right! Looks to be nice weather there so I still harbour a little doubt about the favourite with ground getting closer to good all of the time. His price has stayed fairly steady with only a minor drift since last night




2.10 RSA Novices Chase 3 miles

The dominant performance in this division – or it would have been if had stood up – is from Might Bite at Kempton over Christmas. He would have won by 20 lengths that day if not for falling and presenting the race to Royal Vacation

No one seems to fancy this horse though at any of the preview evening (except Mick Fitzgerald – but that’s hardly surprising given that his old boss Nicky Henderson trains the horse!).

I don’t fancy him either. This could be a similar case to Sire De Grugy who got to a crazy price in the Champion Chase a couple of years ago with firms fighting to be the top price on Oddschecker. There were more things in Sire De Grugy’s favour that day though for me.

So what is wrong with Might Bite? Well he is sired by Scorpion and that usually signifies a horse that wouldn’t be wearing his heart on his sleeve when the chips are down. His previous form at Cheltenham is pretty mediocre – the Kempton effort came on a flat, right-handed track and you can’t get much more different than that here.

Then there’s that fall and the comments made after from the trainer suggesting he was a nervous horse who was unsettled by the crowd. If that’s the case how will he cope here?

If you fancy him still then wait to see how far the drift goes is my best advice.

Stats will tell you that it’s best to be with an Irish bred 7yo in this race. There are 3 of those in the race; Bellshill, O O Seven and Royal Vacation.

I’ve seen Bellshill a couple of times at Leopardstown and can’t say he has impressed me. He hasn’t performed well at Cheltenham in two previous efforts and he fell in what was meant to be a schooling session recently back at Leopardstown. I can’t really fancy him at all here

O O Seven looked smart winning here before Christmas but did wander about the run-in quite badly. I think this trip might just stretch his stamina a little.

Royal Vacation has done nothing wrong this year and won a competitive handicap last time to prove he acts on the track. He was the one who benefited from Might Bite’s fall at Kempton. He just might lack the class for me to win but has some place potential.

From the rest, Acapella Bourgeois got a completely uncontested lead last time and I’m not sure if the form can be trusted. He looks to need soft ground.

Alpha Des Obeaux looked an obvious one for this race here last year when being the only one to try and give Thistlecrack a race in the Stayers Hurdle. He didn’t look that comfortable in his early chase efforts and most worryingly broke a blood vessel in his last run. There is no better trainer to bring one back than Mouse Morris (First Lieutenant 2nd in this race previously after also taking time to get used to the bigger fences).

Whisper has won at the Festival and mixed it with the best in Stayers division. He has taken some time to get comfortable over fences but as a 9yo he finally seems to be getting there and has recorded two wins at the course this year in quite gritty fashion. Despite being older than ideal I think he can run close here.

Our Kaempfer is the other I like. The ground should be no issue and he is a horse who definitely needs to be held up off a strong gallop. He was probably given a little too much to do in the Coral Cup here last year in a 24 runner field. This 12 runner affair should suit his needs better. Don’t expect to see him on the scene until late – hopefully he is stalking them still on the home turn!


Place terms not greatly appealing at the moment here so we’ll stick to win only on this one for now



1.5pt win Whisper 7/1 (Bet 365, Hills, Bet Victor, Corals)

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1 (hills, Boyles)

  • since writing Stan James have gone 18/1 on Our Kaempfer with 1/4 odds 123 – would happily take the 0.75pts each way on him with these terms if you can get on!


Wednesday update

No obvious move in the market yet and no one really setting out to get the favourite yet. Whisper has shortened a fraction on Betfair and the 7/1 has all but gone




2.50 Coral Cup (Hcap) 2ml 5fur

This is usually a very competitive handicap but there are two Irish raiders who could be very well in and stand out a mile to me.

Tombstone was 4th in last year’s Supreme Novices (todays Arkle and Champion Hurdle winners 1st and 3rd) and a mark of 149 looks pretty lenient on both that form and his defeat of former Champion hurdler Jezki last time.

Gordon Elliott was thinking of supplementing him for the Champion Hurdle after that run but changed his mind when he saw the mark he had been given. The stable struck in this race with Carlito Brigante before who ran away with the race for the same connections. He has been well backed already and is hard to ignore. My only slight concern is the ground with most of his form being on softer.

The ground is certainly not a concern for Peregrine Run whose connections would have been praying for dry conditions.

peregrine run

His form at the course before Christmas when beating Wholestone and West Approach looks very good now. Those two are now rated 145 and 157…Peregrine Run gets 142 here.

He has been beaten since at Warwick but the ground was far too soft for him that day. To my eye he still travelled like the best horse in the race that day but just couldn’t quicken in the going.

He is a novice, and while that can be a concern in a competitive handicap, he would have more experience that most novices by this time.

On the likely decent ground I like his chances a lot but with a big field we are always going to need that touch of luck in running so look for firms paying 5 places here


1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345 with Bet 365/Bet Victor)

Wednesday update

Peregrine Run another Pricewise selection has seen his price trimmed a little. Tombstone staying fairly solid at around 4/1…will take a bit for him to go lower than that in such a competitive race. There is interesting money for Wille Mullins’s ex French Tin Soldier here…was around 11/1 last night now generally about 7/1. It suggests there could be a third Irish runner in the race who the handicapper has let in leniently. Seems plenty short enough to me on his Irish form but the stable has to be respected




3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase  2miles

The feature race of the day and the unbeaten Douvan should be a class apart from these. I did think his presence would scare a few off and leave us with a very small field but to their credit there are 8 other still standing their ground

This does give some each value options with some firms paying ¼ odds a place.

Special Tiara and Gods Own were 3rd and 4th last year and again hold strong place claims. I was a little disappointed with Special Tiara at Kempton over Christmas were he might have been a little lucky to beat Sir Valentino. His form doesn’t seem quite up to the same level this season.

Gods Own will get the decent ground he craves and if he had been given a prep run I would rate him to obvious one to follow Douvan home. This race may be his prep for Aintree and Punchestown though and it’s possible he may not be hard fit yet. I still expect him to be a place contender though

Fox Norton had a setback after looking a genuine contender for this race before Christmas. He again has place chances but is a little short for me now.

As put up in last week’s blog my each way play is Simply Ned who will also get the ground he needs – and with Special Tiara in the race he should also get a good gallop.

Simply Ned

With 66/1 and ¼ odds now available I’m happy to top up a little more on this one. I just think he isn’t so far behind the others as these odds imply.


0.5 pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (taking ¼ odds 123 currently available with Bet365 and Unibet)

(Already recommended 0.5 pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5th odds 123)

Wednesday update

Not much movement here but if you are betting each way do take a price whatever you do. In yesterday’s Arkle (similar race with very short priced fav) on course show was much shorter on everything to allow for the place odds discrepancy so don’t be surprised to see a lower SP return on most of the runners



4.10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase – distance : seemingly forever but actually 3ml 7fur

As noted in previous year’s blogs this race isn’t really my cup of tea – I might well be making one when it is on.

I did note my old friend First Lieutenant seemed to be enjoying himself on such fences on Twitter today. I would love to see him do well. He wouldn’t stay this trip in a normal race but stamina not often at a premium here with the pace the race is run at.

Not really a betting medium for me though




4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (Hcap)  2 miles

Paul Nicholls French-bred runners have done very well in this race in recent years so his runners Dolos and Dreamcatching must be respected.

A stat I have always liked for this event however revolves around backing the highest rated flat horse in the field. There is a lot of French form here where we don’t have marks to go by which doesn’t help matters

Comfortable the highest rating on the flat this year comes from Percy Street who was rated 98 (next best Dino Velvet 85).

The likely strong pace and decent ground is what could be responsible for the good performance of such types in the past. I’m hopeful (but far from confident) that this will show him in a better light on his first venture into handicap company.

A bit more study will be going on from me on this race this evening so may be further updates to come on this one

Just a small recommendation here in a very competitive race for now

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 1/4 odds 1234 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook)

Wednesday update

Not much I can add to this despite more scrutiny last night. My selection has shortened up on the Exchange market to 24.0 so all 33/1 has now gone.




5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper  2 miles

Not a race for big opinions unless you have some stable info. I’ve seen three of these on the racetrack this year. Carter McKay was well touted before beating Bakmaj on his debut. I can’t say I was too impressed by his head and tail carriage when pressure was applied that day and wouldn’t want to have him on my side when the chips are down.

Debuchet’s finishing effort last time was much more likeable but I’m not sure of what the form of that race really amounts to

Someday has been favourably mentioned as the best Irish contender at some preview evenings.

However, the Newbury race in which Western Ryder finished 2nd to Daphne Du Clos looked a pretty smart contest to me and I think that could be the strongest form on offer here. Dans Le Vent was 3rd that day beaten another 2 lengths but is up against it on 7lbs worse terms. He’d by at the top of my shortlist right now

Cause Toujours is highly regarded by the Skelton stable who had such bad luck with Ch’tibello being withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle on the day of the race. He’s the dark one in the field but noticeable he’s getting well supported on Betfair Exchange today

No bet for now – am waiting to see more of the odds and place terms develop on this one this evening

Wednesday update

I think the support overnight for Cause Toujours is quite telling here. Currently 13/2 best on Oddschecker but only now 6/1 on the exchange. I believe he had had a recent wind op but is very well regarded and completely unexposed.

Gordon Elliott’s Fayonagh also has been well backed. The stable form again has to be respected and expect her to shorten again if that form continues earlier in the afternoon

With these shortening, Western Ryder has drifted a little and appeals most for each way betting purposes if 10/1 appears with firms offering 1/4 odds and 4 places. I just think his Newbury form is probably the best on offer here

(Someday now a non runner)


Thanks for reading once more.

Best of luck again with whatever you back






Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345) – 2nd (+0.88 pts)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123) – won (+11.25 pts)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 – lost (-2pts)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1 – lost (-1pt)

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123)

1.5 pts win Whisper 7/1

0.75 pts win Our Kaempfer 16/1

1.5 pts ew Peregrine Run 10/1 (1/4 odds 12345)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/4 odds 123)

0.3 pts ew Percy Street 33/1 (1/4 odds 1234)

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)

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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Hurdle Day

Cheltenham 2017 – Champion Hurdle Day

Another Cheltenham Festival is upon us and has there ever been one with so many high-profile casualties dropping out of important races in the run up to it!

The going is currently good to soft but with drying conditions still likely we could be in for a good ground week. With so much immediate form on softer conditions this winter we could see a few surfacing this week who improve a lot for these conditions

Onto a run down of day 1:

Unfortunately two of my main fancies for today, Movewiththetimes in the opener and Value At Risk in the finale have joined the casualty list in the last 24 hours.

It’s made this a bit less of a betting day for me but will try to narrow down the principals a bit from what we have left

*****(Tuesday morning update added at end of each race where applicable)*****


1.30 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle 2 miles

Odds available here:

Odds are headed here by Irish raider Melon representing the Willie Mullins team (successful in 2 of the last 3 runnings). Melon has only been seen once on the racecourse this season with an easy win in a fairly ordinary event at Leopardstown. That at least proved he is alive after so much speculation about his ability for months preceding the race. He looked fairly babyish in the paddock to me but did the job well. I do wonder with his inexperience how he will cope with the huge crowd and preliminaries here. He could win but his price is priced on what stable he is from and on home reputation – it is nothing to do with form and there is no value in his odds.

Mullins also has Bunk Off Early who has been mixing it in better company. He looked all over the winner last time before being outstayed by Neptune fancy Bacardys over a slightly longer trip. It’s quite astonishing to see his sire Zebedee have a runner here as he was a precocious 2yo sprinter. There have to be some question marks on breeding therefore about how he will stay on up the hill here. I can see him tanking along into the home turn but wonder if something else will finish off the race better.

Crack Mome also appears for  the Mullins squad. Another with a big reputation earlier this season, he has something to find on what he has achieved so far but could improve for the better ground

Ballyandy boasts the strongest piece of form here in winning the Tote Gold Trophy where he seemed to flourish for a strong gallop. He should get that here. There have been some rumours coming into Cheltenham about the general well-being of his stable but a big priced winner on Friday seemed to scotch that a little. He is a previous winner here having won last seasons Champion Bumper – the double has been achieved before

High Bridge was 6th in the Bumper beaten just over 4 lengths. He’s unbeaten over hurdles this season where his rider amateur Alex Ferguson was able to claim his 7lbs allowance. He can’t claim that tomorrow and that has to be a big negative to his chances – I would have had him as the value bet in the race if he had an experienced jockey on board.

River Wylde showed his liking for decent ground at Kempton last time but is 3lbs worse off with the second Elgin here. I’m not sure if the difference between the two in form merits the difference in odds between them here. The latter found Neon Wolf much too good previously at Haydock but that one would have been favourite if he turned up here

Lastly a quick mention for Labaik. He has talent but is highly quirky and would be odds-on to plant his feet at the start and not run at all based on his recent visits to the racetrack!


Ballyandy is the most solid pick for me and hard to see him out of the frame. Elgin appeals of the big prices as one who could run into the frame but at current odds I won’t be getting very heavily involved in this race


Tuesday Morning Update

Doesn’t seem to be too many big moves int the market here. Just a small ew play for me when 33/1 Elgin appeared with 1/4 odds a place

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Trophy 2 miles

Odds available here:

Altior stands head and shoulders above these on form and it’s very hard to see him getting beaten as long as he completes. He’s looked fairly proficient in his jumping this season and the only thing I could see threatening him would be a slow tactical pace. (His least impressive win over hurdles came in such an affair at this course)


I wouldn’t be surprised if Nico de Boinville controlled the pace from the front to deal with that as he did last time at Newbury.

Of his rivals, Charbel was the highest rated over hurdles of the rest and looks the main challenger here. He could make the pace also but I’m sure connections don’t want to make him the sacrificial lamb in this race either. Taking on Altior too much could cost him dear if he does.

As long as David Bass plays it sensibly he would be my choice to follow the favourite home. There are a few in the race who might have already decided to ride for a place here

Selection (unsurprisingly) is Altior (far too low in odds to tempt me to bet though!)

2.50 Ultima Hcap Chase

Quite a big race for stats in the past here. Novices have perfomed quite well and the higher weight have been at a disadvantage.

The Druids Nephew has slipped back to the same mark that he won this race impressively off in 2015. He has to be a player on that basis but his form was much better coming into that race and I just wonder if he’ll be sharp enough this time.

Noble Endeavour has run well at the course before and had had positive comments from his trainer at preview nights. The 11st 11lb he has to carry is what puts me off even if his actual mark could be reasonable enough

I have a feeling this trip may stretch the novice Ibis Du Rheu a little and so the one that stands out to me is another novice chaser, Singlefarmpayment.

He was unlucky to be brought down last time but looks well handicapped on what he has achieved this year (including an impressive course win). Tom George could have run him in the RSA chase tomorrow but obviously feels his mark needs exploiting here


First recommendation of the day here:

1pt ew SINGLEFARMPAYMENT 15/2 (Bet 365 and Bet Victor currently offering ¼ odds 12345


Tuesday morning update

Definitely ahead of the price here. Singlefarmpayment now a top price 6/1 on Oddschecker (7.4 to back on Exchange in win only market)

3.30 Champion Hurdle 2 miles

The highlight of day one but sadly missing it’s last two winners, Faugheen and Annie Power through injury:

Runner by runner analysis here:


Disposed of a competitive handicap field at Ascot in impressive fashion despite a high weight. That immediately meant he was ready for this grade. Good ground should suit and handicappers have made such a jump before in the same season (Celtic Shot and Make A Stand immediately springing to mind). Definite contender though would have liked to see him perform better than he did on the course at the beginning of the season – does it suit him? – the jury is out on that one

brain power


Third in last year’s Supreme Novices then a narrow winner at Aintree from Petit Mouchoir. Started the season chasing but switched back as some of the principals dropped out. His sole hurdle win this season is a mile away from Championship form. Has undoubted potential but price is very skinny on what he has achieved. Even the trainer admits he needs softer ground and a prime candidate to see his odds drift on the day of the race


No crabbing this horse from me as I explained in my blog this week!. Has come out of a small wind operation well since beaten by Yanworth last time. Prior to that I thought that he might not quite get home on a stiff track like this but maybe he might now that this little issue has been sorted. He’s a very slick jumper and a better horse on a decent surface. I’m hopeful he will run on from the back to grab a place


Looked a potential new star when skating up at Aintree in his novice season. Unfortunately injury ruled him out of most of last season. Hasn’t done enough yet this year to make me think he is a contender at this level


From last years juvenile crop which it has to be said have looked distinctly average last year. I did see him at Leopardstown both this year and last and was impressed how much he had strengthened up over the 12 months interim period. Probably flattered last time to get so close to Petit Mouchoir last time while a 2 way battle was going on up front. I think he’s up against it here


Champion Bumper winner in 2014 but has had a few problems since. Unbeaten this season and could have run in the Supreme Novices. Rerouted here probably as he is 8 already and has left it late to get here. Nothing in his form that merits his current price in my view and not for me


I’m putting these two together as they represent past Champion Hurdle form which could have been a higher level than this year’s race. Neither are getting any younger and have had their chances

Both beaten by Yanworth at Kempton over Christmas (Ch’tibello 3rd) and hard to see how they will turn that around.

Mytentoryours has been the subject of some glowing gallop reports lately and is the one of the pair who might just spring an upset. He’s always been his own worst enemy by pulling too hard and if age has finally calmed him down – and the talent he undoubtedly has has come back – then they should all be a little bit frightened

The New One seems to be slowly regressing on the other hand. Connections have talked about sending him chasing or going to the Stayers this season which indicates they think his time might have gone in this race.


Boasts the best Irish form this year courtesy of two wins at Leopardstown. He looked hard fit to me for his last win and not sure if there’ll be much improvement from that. I’m also concerned about him on this track and whether he will come up the hill.



Another from last season’s juvenile crop. Started the season well but has found his limitations since and beaten by Yanworth and Ch’tibello last time


The 2016 Irish St Leger winner would be the classiest of these on the flat. His preparation for this is hardly conventional with his last run being in the Melbourne Cup.

Can have two ways of running over hurdles – and more often than not it’s the negative side that turns up as he seems to want things to go his own way.

Has the ability to be a contender but it will be something of a shock to see him win (Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride Footpad in preference)


The favourite and deservedly so. Didn’t win by far last time at Wincanton but the way he pricked his ears on the run in suggested he was only doing as much as he had to. That course, and also Kempton over Christmas, would both be very sharp for him and this course should suit much better


The negative with Yanworth is his jumping. It might well have cost him a win in the Neptune last season as he was kept wide to have a clear view of his hurdles (Yorkhill nipped up the rails saving much more ground and got first un on him)

He did look better at Kempton but still doesn’t have as fluid a technique as others



Petit Mouchoir has made the running on his last two runs so he looks the most obvious front-runner here. I don’t think he’ll want to make it an end to end gallop though and I wonder who will share the honours up front – Moon Racer and The New One are probably most likely.

I can see the winner coming from one who sits just behind that pace but without being right at the back.

Yanworth at the top of my shortlist but the ‘elephant in the room/ that is his hurdling just prevents me from making him as a solid bet. Brain Power is a big danger if he handles the course. Mytentoryours is perhaps the value option at around 16/1 for those looking at the bigger prices if reports of his homework are true. Ch’tibello should do himself justice – I struggle to see him beating Yanworth but he makes some appeal in the ‘Betting without Yanworth market at around 20/1


Tuesday morning update

Sadly Ch’tibello misses the race with a minor foot infection. He’ll probably be fine tomorrow so it’s gutting for connections for this to happen on the day. Probably Punchestown for him now. Strong money for Yanworth so far see him down to around 9/4 from around 3/1 last night

4.10 Mares Hurdle 2ml 4fur

3 horses dominating here and all from Ireland. Limini and last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag from team Mullins and Gordon Elliott’s Apples Jade.

The vibes about Vroum Vroum Mag really haven’t been very positive recently since she struggled to win at Doncaster. She is the one I would most easily pass over with Ruby Walsh also making the same decision and riding Limini.

Limini beat Apples Jade last time well enough to suggest it would be hard for the Gigginstown runner to turn the form around. There is a suggestion that Limini may be best fresh though and I didn’t think she was that impressive when winning the Mares Novice race last season.

At the prices, Apples Jade has to be the each way bet for me with ¼ odds being available.


These three are someway ahead of the UK team on form. Lifeboat Mona and Colins Sister have both looked good but are both stepping up to a higher grade. I think the latter mare in particular could be up to this level in time but to me she wants a softer surface than she will encounter here


2pts ew APPLES JADE 9/2 Bet 365 (be sure to take ¼ odds 123 rather than 1/5th)


Tuesday morning update

Pricewise went for Apples Jade the selection which probably prevented any hope of 5/1 appearing. Still 9/2 available in places which is better than can be found on the exchange. Sadly, Colins Sister bruised a heel and is out – it would have been nice to see how she fared in this grade but there will be other days for her!

4.50 JT McNamara National Hunt Chase 4 miles

I can see JP McManus wanting to win this race badly as it is named after a rider who won so many races for him until his life was tragically cut short.

If the British handicapper is right, his Edwulf is a 159 rated horse and some way ahead of these. The trip should suit, he has one of the best amateur riders possible on board and he was very impressive last time up. A fall in his previous race is the one nagging doubt about him but the race was won by Minella Rocco last year who had a similar question mark coming into the race. He just needs to get settled into a nice rhythm early


Champers on Ice appeals as the main danger from the home team. He was totally outpaced here over 2 and a half miles last time and this trip could be right up his street.

I think win only is the more prudent way to go here so the recommendations are:

2pts win Edwulf 11/2 (WillHill)

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1(generally available)

5.30 Close Brothers Hcap Chase

I had Value At Risk marked firmly down for this one but nothing leaping out for me now he has dropped out. I may do an update closer to the time if things become clearer. While it is a handicap there is only 4lbs separating all the runners so it’s almost a conditions race in reality


Tuesday update

I went through this race a bit overnight but nothing really shone out. Foxtail Hill might be well in but had his own way in the lead last time off a low weight. He has much more on his back now and strong likelihood that others will take him on. This could set it up for something to come from the back. Most of the field seem to be in the grip of the handicapper. I really liked Bun Doran‘s win at Ayr earlier this year but would be very concerned about the ground for him. Tully East performed well at the meeting last year and could do again back on decent ground.  If I had to pick one it would be Double Ws  at 16/1, who should like the ground and is still relatively unexposed at this trip. The North don’t get too many winners at Cheltenham these days but Malcolm Jefferson’s strike rate here must be one of the best for them. He did get a very positive mention from the jockey Brian Hughes at one of the preview evenings. Not a confident selection by any means and a race for low stakes



Monday Evening Update (8.50pm)

Pricewise in the Racing Post has put up two of the selections from earlier today:

Singlefarmpayment has been put up at a rather incredible 10/1 with Boylesports and 8/1 generally. At the moment 15/2 is the best available anywhere and there is no 8/1 even on Betfair exchange. Good luck to anyone who can avail themselves of 10/1 tomorrow morning!

Apples Jade has also been tipped at 9/2 so that price will be lucky to hold unless there is strong support for the Mullins pair.

A few firms going 1/4 odds a place in the Arkle has made it meat and drink for a ‘filthy each way bet’ Bet 365 in particular are appearing in black type on Oddschecker for many with their win odds. Charbel for instance is 12/1 1/4 odds 1-2-3. You get 3/1 for the place part of the bet here. On the place only market on Betfair Exchange the same horse is 5/4 to lay just to illustrate what value can be taken here. There are similar stand out place odds for all of the other runners so perfectly possible to back two and still come out with a profit if only 1 places. Charbel would be my strongest recommendation for an each way play with these place terms. Whatever you fancy, I would also recommend perming each way doubles if you have a selection or two in Wednesday’s Champion Chase also (Simply Ned remains my main each way play here). If you can get 1/4 odds a place as well here you are increasing the place odds in your favour even more. Your account may suffer for this kind of bet in time though!



Thanks for reading – and here’s hoping we can get off to a good start with the meeting

I will do quick updates later this evening and at lunchtime tomorrow if more value appears. Firms will update their odds again later and there may be some better place terms available then also

Good luck with whatever you back!




Summary of recommendations so far:

Day 1

1pt ew Singlefarmpayment 15/2 (1/4 odds 12345)

2pts ew Apples Jade 9/2  (1/4 odds 123)

2pts win Edwulf 11/2

1pt win Champers on Ice 8/1

Day 2

1pt ew Shattered Love 25/1(1/5 odds 123)

0.5pts ew Simply Ned 66/1 (1/5 odds 123)

Day 4

0.5pts ew Forth Bridge 33/1 (1/4 odds 123)







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Cheltenham Festival 2017 – Countdown

Cheltenham Festival 2017 – Countdown

I’m glad to say that the blog will be back next week for daily previews from National Hunt racing’s greatest festival.

The countdown is truly on today with the release of the first 5 day declarations for Tuesday’s opening card

I will be back on Monday afternoon for a full preview of that days racing. Then as in previous years, I will hope to post each evening my thoughts for the following day’s card (hopefully in advance of the Pricewise selections being released at 7pm each evening)

Like myself, many will have put in hard study already. For those who haven’t and who want to burn the midnight oil between now and next week here’s a few pointers based on my own experience….and a few decent priced early fancies to get the ball rolling.

I’ve been watching this meeting with relish from the mid 1970s and the formbook was my earliest friend. Statistics, times and race reading have all been added as other tools to try to find the winners in the interim. Nowadays, with social media it’s never been so easy to find a wealth of information to help with the quest.

Twitter in particular is a marvellous tool to pick out information and get ahead of market moves if you can follow the right people and pick out the right information.

For anyone wanting to delve further in statistics I have listed some important ones in posts from previous years. Some races are more dependent on these than others. I won’t have time to list all of them next week but there are sites where that job has already been done for me. In particular I must recommend as an excellent tool to keep in the arsenal. The writer has put a lot of work into this and if you find it as useful as I do be sure to make a donation to the charity he is supporting.

Every year there seem to be more and more Cheltenham preview nights across the UK and Ireland and it’s very hard to keep track of them all. Unless you are refreshing Twitter every 30 minutes, most of the information can be found here

Be warned for these that it’s sometimes what you don’t hear rather than what you do hear that can be the most interesting.

A common thread amongst nearly all previews this year is the opposition to the favourite Might Bite in Wednesday’s RSA Chase. I can’t say I’d want to be backing a nervous horse like him on a track that probably won’t suit either. If you do fancy him though, the mass of opposition on these evenings in probably an indicator that all firms will be out to lay him next week and you will get a much bigger price then than now!

The ground is currently Good to Soft (Soft in places) but with a decent forecast ahead we should be looking at Good to Soft as the going on Day 1

Odds on many of the races are looking a bit skinny right now and I think we can expect better on many next week (with better place terms also). With so many firms offering ‘Non Runner No Bet’ and many horses still not having definitive targets the layers have been erring more on the side of caution with their odds.


Here’s a few big prices during the week to get things started

Wednesday – Neptune Novices Hurdle

SHATTERED LOVE 25/1 (e/w 1/5 odds 123 Sporting Bet)

1 pt ew

This is probably the hottest novices hurdle of the week. Both Neon Wolf and Finians Oscar at the head of the betting look to have loads of potential and are unbeaten this season. It is worth noting though that the mares in Ireland have been very successful in this sphere this season and the selection has already proved herself close to the best of them.

shattered love

She runs for the Gigginstown/Gordon Elliott team here when they could have run their other star novice Death Duty. I think it’s noticeable that they have kept relatively tight-lipped about her chances while she has been quietly backed in the last week. The slight increase in trip looks bound to suit her and I think she could easily be half of these odds come the day of the race


Wednesday – Queen Mother Champion Chase

SIMPLY NED 66/1 (e/w 1/5 odds 123 Betfair Sportsbook)

0.5 pts ew


First thing to note here – and probably a strange thing to say – is that this is an unlikely winner. The value for me is all in the place part of this each way bet though.

Douvan is a short priced favourite and looks a good thing but there have to be 2 horses filling the frame behind him.

If you look in current lists you will find many who won’t actually run – Altior, Un De Sceaux, Vroum Vroum Mag and Uxizandre are all very likely to go for different races, even Fox Norton and Gods Own have other possible engagements although this looks more likely for them. Sire Du Grugy is by no means a certain starter either after recent negative comments from his stable. There is a strong likelihood of a small field though with the hot favourite frightening many off. There could well be less than 8 runners and that will mean that three places won’t be paid on the day.

The selection is an old favourite of mine and his optimum conditions are a fast pace over 2 miles on decent ground. He was better fancied for this race 2 years ago but made a crucial mistake as the race began to hot up and was always on the back foot after and finished 5th.

Yes he has been beaten by Fox Norton already over this course but that was on soft ground and conditions should be much more to his liking here.

Simply Ned

His running style is to sit behind and to pick others off and that could be very suitable to get him in the frame here as others try to attack the favourite earlier (and probably pay for that effort)


FRIDAY – Triumph Hurdle

FORTH BRIDGE 33/1 (ew ¼ odds 123 Stan James)

0.5 pts ew

A rare runner for the Queen at Cheltenham but this big horse was always a bit too backward to do himself justice on the flat (where he was a similar level to Master Blueeyes – much shorter odds in the same race)


After a narrow defeat in his first venture over hurdles he’s improved with each race since. On both occasions he hasn’t won by any more than he had to but he has looked like he had more in him if required. His has shown quite an efficient hurdling technique so far which should stand him in good stead here. While his most recent form has been over a sharp track, I also think that as a stayer on the flat this course should bring about improvement.

There are flashier types in the field who have better form but I just think there is potential here for this one to mix it with them and his odds shouldn’t be quite as high as they are.


That’s the early selections for now. I will also have a natural bias to support Ch’tibello in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday. One of the owners is the Trading Director where I work and the whole office will be shouting this one home. I will spare him the added weight of putting him up as another bet but hope his slick jumping on decent ground will see him into a place. If he does win, Tuesday night’s blog may be a little late!


I will be back again on Monday

thanks for reading – comments are always welcomed




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