Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 3

Anticipated drying out of the ground didn’t really materialise on Day 2. Times remained slow and many were struggling to finish up the hill. So for now I’m assuming similar conditions with only a slight improvement likely for Day 3

The big race of the day proved a huge anti-climax with only one of the ‘star trio’ turning up. Defi Du Seuil couldn’t match his earlier season form and was put in the shade by a bold jumping front running performance from Politologue.

Envoi Allen was the star of the day and its just as conceivable to see him as a future Champion Hurdle winner as it is a Gold Cup one after this performance


Day 3 thoughts:


1.30 Marsh Novices Chase

There may be few more popular winners this week than 12yo Faugheen. He has come to chasing very late in life but the ex Champion hurdler comes here with a serious form chance.

His chasing technique had me wincing a little on his debut but there has been improvement since. He holds a call already this season over Samcro (another who has had greater times and is on a recovery mission)

His likely front running tactics have also been greatly helped by the diversion of stablemate Allaho to another race.

I remain having a niggling fear that he shouldn’t really be in this race however and will be breathing a sigh of relief to see him get home in one piece. I’m not sure is jumping is quite up to the standard need to win this race

Stablemate Melon is also on a bit of a recovery mission since his career best of a Champion hurdle 2nd. He seems to be a horse who needs things to fall right for him and his last run wasn’t encouraging. His best form has seemed to come when allowed to run from the front – we have only seen that once this season. Will he be allowed to use effective ‘spoiler’ tactics agaisnt his stable companion? And if he does can he jump well enough to benefit from it. Both two big question marks that count against him for me

I favour a win for the home side here with Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet. Placed in last years Supreme Novices, he impressed with coping with Sandown’s tricky fences last time for one so inexperienced. That win over Midnight Shadow looks the best prep form for me

Mister Fisher is another strong contender for the home side but was behind Itchy Feet at the festival last year and I cant see a reason that he has progressed beyond him yet.

Reserve Tank had strong novice hurdle form last year but has never raced on this track. His chasing form this year has yet to reach the same level

With popular sentimental support likely to come in for both Faugheen and Samcro here there must be every chance that prices will increase on others during the course of the day



I also think the Sandown 2nd, MIDNIGHT SHADOW , is over priced at around 20/1 and is an each way pick (particularly if 4 places are offered)

He is also one to consider with firms who offer betting ‘without Itchy Feet’


2.10 Pertemps Network Final

Another very competitive handicap with a few previous Festival graded race winners dropping back into handicap company

Previous Bumper winner Relegate ran an eyecatching trial last time. She stormed up the hill to win that race and we can expect her to be coming from behind again here. On the downside she did seem to be struggling with her hurdling last season and is still lacking some experience

When 20/1 was available after her last run it was well worth taking but at around 6/1 I think she has been well found in the market now.

We also have previous Albert Bartlett winners (they certainly wont lack for stamina) in Unowhatimeanharry and Kilbricken Storm

The former is now 12 and seems to be regressing. It’s hard to see him being successful under a welter burden of 11st 10lb.

Kilbricken Storm on the other hand still seems to retain some talent and is one for the short list at around 16/1. There is a slight concern that some of the Tizzard stable’s runners this week have been underperforming though

My main pick though is a progressive young horse who I think could be made for this test.

Hughie Morrison knows how to ready one for a handicap here and Third Wind showed he was coming back on an upward curve when defeating Jatiluwhih (re opposes here but probably has less improvement in him)  last time.

He won a very decent handicap at Sandown last season (Skandiburg behind and on worse terms here) that often throws up future graded performers.

He has yet to race over the trip but his style of racing suggests he will be suited by the 3 miles

16/1 was available earlier today but I am seeing no more than 12/1 this evening – someone may have beaten me to the punch here but he remains my main fancy



THIRD WIND each way (note some firms offering up to 7 places on this race)



2.50 Ryanair Chase

I already made a recommendation with this race on the Day 1 blog with ASO each way.

I put him up then to capitalise on Ante Post odds that would guarantee paying out on 1st 3.

With 8 runners still in the race 3 places will be paid – but note if there are any non runners that would drop to paying 1st 2 now (except on the each way option on Betfair Exchange where odds could be lower)

I believe his form over this course last season (including his second in this race) makes him a very similar animal to Frodon and that he simply should be 4 or 5 times the price (he was rated 168 – the same mark as Frodon now has at the start of this season to emphasise this

All his best form is on left handed track so I’m not too concerned by his last two substandard efforts – this was always going to be the race he was being tuned up for

Granted there are two new strong looking rivals also to beat here in A Plus Tard and Min. However I don’t see these two being quite so superior as the market suggests. Horse of a similar level were behind him in this race last year

Riders on the Storm didn’t look to enjoy the course last year and had a very hard race at Ascot last time. I’d be surprised if he is fully over that effort yet

Duc Des Genievres won a substandard Arkle last year and hasn’t done enough since to make me think he is up this level

Of the other outsiders, Saint Calvados is the other I can see running well after a strong handicap performance last time. It doesn’t quite match the handicap efforts that the selection and Frodon have produced here in the past though

Recommendation remains

ASO each way at 20-1+ if you can get it (but this play is all about getting 3 places on your bet)


3.30 Stayers Hurdle

This division has a star perfomer in its ranks and barring accidents I really cant see Paisley Park getting beaten


His only danger would be a slow gallop followed by a sprint. It’s hard to see anything wanting to make a strong pace as it would fall right into this hands.

Penhill won this race under such a scenario two season ago but such is his recent form that if he were to win again the Stewards should be enquiring into where the improvement came from.

Summerhill Boy tried to control the race when finishing 2nd to Penhill last time and I can see him doing that again

Being at the front in a slowly run affair is always an advantage so he looks one to add into each way bets at bigger odds

I cant see anything but a PAISLEY PARK win but at odds of no more than 4/6 its hard to put him up as a recommendation (my style is to look more for long priced value on this blog)

4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

Another handicap but with one obvious contender in Simply The Betts who may be better than this level.

His last win was boosted by both the second (Imperial Aura here on Tuesday ) and third winning since. His mark is 8lb higher but that may not be enough to stop him.

The odds of no more than 4/1 have already factored this in however and in value terms there is another I like more for each way bets.

Happy Diva is one of my favourite horses in training and she had her day in the sun here in November winning the Mackeson  Gold Cup (or whatever it is called now! – it will always be that race for diehards like me)

She never runs a bad race and although the handicapper may have found her mark in 149 now (6lb higher), I think she can still be competitive.

Her form is exposed but I think that comment applies to the vast majority of this field.

She had Spiritofthegames and Siruh Du Lac well behind when winning that big race. She also holds La Bague Au Roi on Doncaster form and yet that one is half the price here! Given the latter has been kept away from this meeting before as supposedly not liking the track this correlation is particularly baffling to me

If there is another unexposed type in the field that could be Deyrann de Carjac. I was a little disappointed by this ones finishing effort when running here last time though. I wonder if he may be better suited to a flat track


HAPPY DIVA each way – take 25/1+ if you can and 5 places is widely available


4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle

The Henry de Bromhead/Rachel Blackmore team have already tasted success in Mares events with Honeysuckle and field the favourite with Minella Melody here

She holds a few of these on here last win but both she and recent victim Colreevy look types that might prefer a bit further than this 2 mile trip

Two others appeal instead

Concertista narrowly failed in this race last year and showed that competitive big field races were what she wanted when running her best race since at Leopardstown last time. Her conqueror that day, Black Tears, advertised the form no end when just failing in the Coral Cup today.

Floressa appears the main hope of the English and I don’t think I’ve seen a slicker jumper of a hurdler in the novice ranks this year. That asset didn’t help her so much in her last race which was very slowly run and developed into a sprint. It should stand her in much better stead in what should be a more strongly run affair here



5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

We finish off with another competitive handicap for amateur riders.

As with all such races having a top amateur on board is worth its weight in gold

The main two for me in that respect are Le Breuil (Jamie Codd) and Champagne Platinum (Derek O’Connor)

The former combination are already proven here and this is likely to be a prep race for the Grand National for them

Champagne Platinum is much harder to judge. On some form and previous promise he definitely has the look of a plot for this race – but on other efforts his odds of around 4/1 look monumentally skinny

Outside of these two its also worth noting that Kilfilum Cross and Alex Edwards were second in this race last year and have got back on the same mark.

This one hasn’t been in the same form so far this season but his stable will definitely know how to prime a horse for the big occasion.

He was only beaten by Any Second Now here last year – a horse that could well win the Grand National this year

Plan of Attack is another with a progressive profile who makes it onto my shortlist of 4

If I had to make a recommendation here it would be a win only bet on Kilfilum Cross as think he may be the best value at the prices.

I’d want to be able to narrow it down to more than 4 to have a stronger feeling on this race though so it would only be one for small stakes


Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you back



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Posted by on March 11, 2020 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Day 2

Tuesday’s card was one for the mares with Epatante and Put the Kettle On successes backing up a fine duel between Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux

Times suggest the ground was pretty gruelling but with a dry night forecast it might be a little better tomorrow.

The Conditional was the star performer for blog selections with a few places elsewhere to back that up. Abacadabras and Fakir d’Oudairies both can be counted slightly unlucky seconds for different reasons

Day 2 is probably a quieter day for me tomorrow but here goes:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Envoi Allen comes into this race with huge expectation as one of the Irish bankers of the meeting. He won the Bumper here last year and remains unbeaten this season over hurdles

Quotes of 11/10 before Tuesday’s racing quickly evaporated after performances of previous victims Abacadabras and Darver Star enhanced his form again

There are three contenders up against him here who seem to have a lot of untapped potential and could prove troublesome – we just don’t know how good they are yet.


What Envoi Allen does have – and these don’t – is course form/experience and that’s enough for me still to think he is the likeliest winner but with odds on favouritism now looking assured there isn’t much value to be had on him

Sporting John is also unbeaten but hasn’t been competing at the same level as the favourite yet. He has been very impressive in what he has done though.

The Big Breakaway and The Big Getaway are both well named types in that they are going to be dwarfing others in this event. Big horses sometimes find it hard to cope with the undulation of this track so I have small concerns that they might not act on it.

The Big Breakaway really impressed me in his Chepstow debut as a star of the future. However he did reportedly have a setback after his last win in December. That lack of ideal preparation could count against him now

The Big Getaway looks a pure galloper with a huge stride. He was unlucky not to win on his hurdling debut when making a complete mess of the last hurdle (winner Cobblers Way has advertised that form since). He made amends in no uncertain fashion since and should have the soft ground he needs.

Both these two are are only going to get better in time and it would be no surprise to see either/both contesting Gold Cups in a couple of seasons

Outside of these big 4, its also worth noting Longhouse Poet who is owned by the sponsors and has same connections as last years winner. He ran a bit too freely over a longer trip last time. He doesn’t have the form to match Envoi Allen but he could exploit failings in the others to be contending for minor honours here


Envoi Allen much the likeliest winner but too short a price for me to invest

Longhouse Poet is the one with each way potential at the prices – I’d also be interested in him for markets ‘without the fav’ if an each way option is available there ( a good run by him will also be a big pointer for Latest Exhibition’s chances in Friday’s Albert Bartlett)


2.10 RSA Novices Chase

Champ had looked lucky to get round twice before he came a cropper in his last effort here. I hate to see but whilst he has undoubted ability I think he might be a bit thicker than others. Not one I’d want to be supporting on what I have seen this year

Allaho and Easy Game should both be in the shorter March Chase on Thursday for me. I can only assume they have been diverted here to make life easier for the stable’s Faugheen in that race.

Allaho in particular is a lovely type but he was outstayed twice by Minella Indo last year and that one is the obvious one to beat for me.

Minella Indo’s surprise win in the Albert Bartlett was all the more meritorious as he ran freely and had run loose before the race. He confirmed the form was no fluke at Punchestown after.

He is obviously a horse who takes a couple of runs to get fit but his preparation for this looks to be ideal

The stable have already struck twice at this meeting to reinforce his chance some more

Copperhead can compete with him on stamina but I don’t think he can quite match him for class




2.50 Coral Cup

A very tricky handicap as always and not one to risk the house on!

Look for firms offering extra places on a race like this.

Canardier is interesting now back over hurdles after a fruitless time in novice chases

He was 5th in the race last year from a 4lb lower mark and there might well be improvement now in his first race for the Willie Mullins stable.

The ground on Tuesday may have been a bit too soft for him but with a bit of overnight drying could come in his favour

At a slightly bigger price, a speculative selection is Black Tears.

This one has good course form and here best runs have seemed to come in big field races run at a good pace. She should get her optimum conditions here.

At first I thought her mark of 144 was high enough but Tuesday’s run of her recent conqueror Elfile has given the form a nice boost.


Small ew bet on BLACK TEARS at 16/1+


3.30 Champion Chase

The withdrawal of Altior from this race on Tuesday has taken the gloss slightly off one of the clashes of the week

This still leaves a mouth watering face-off between Defi du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi

Chacun Pur Soi came out best of these two in their only clash at Punchestown last season. That was at the end of a long season for the latter. The winner did have less experience though.

Chacun’s last win over Min had time watchers purring and it could be the top piece of 2 mile form this season

Defi du Seuil hasn’t put a foot wrong this season and there is every suggestion in his last win that he is still improving. He does seem to be delivering late to make use of his turn of foot. The lack of Altior’s finishing punch in this race has enhanced his chance greatly as I think he may be able to sit behind his main rival now

The other 4 runners are all solid types but everything suggests they are just a little behind the two main protagonists

There is no recommendation for me on this race – it’s a race to watch and savour.

I can make valid cases for both of the big two to win but if a gun was put to my head I would pick Defi Du Seuil. This is simply because he has course form and his main rival doesn’t.


4.10 Cross Country Chase

Regular followers of the blog will know this isn’t a race for me.

Tiger Roll will of course be one of the most popular winners of the week. He is no certainty though with French challenger Easysland in opposition. The latter won over theses unconventional fences earlier in the season and was bought by JP McManus subsequently. The caution here comes from the jockey. Monsieur Plouganou was ‘hailing a cab’ at many fences and if I supported him here I think I may have to watch from behind the sofa! (same rider worth watching on Toutancarmont in 2015 to see he is a risky venture – a race that Nina Carberry won’t be forgetting in a hurry!)



4.50 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

A favourite old stats based pick for me here was finding the best Flat rated horse in the race.

The problem this year is that there aren’t that many that actually have a flat rating. Normally something 90+ on the flat would stick out. This year the highest rated would be Zoffee (85) and nothing else rated more than 77. This is comparatively low  and only 11 others (including the two reserves) actually have a rating

The influence of French breds and French provincial form on this race is responsible and its hard to judge who is well in on that

Mick Pastor cost JP MacManus a small fortune and it didn’t look money well spent on his first run. He has looked better since but has also been rewarded with top weight

This isn’t a race I’d be confident in but I like Repetitio’s course efforts this season and his form has an upward curve.

Nigel Hawke woudn’t be the most fashionable of trainers but he had Tiger Roll earlier in his career. I’m sure he knows how to get one ready for this

There may be something lurking in the French breds who is better handicapped but I’ll stick to what I have actually seen here


REPETITIO each way – again a tough handicap so smaller stakes with 16/1+ if possible

5.30 Champion Bumper

Appreciate It looked a really classy individual last time when routing the opposition at Leopardstown. (Envoi Allen won same race last year)

I really cant oppose him on that and I think he is probably a better bet than Envoi Allen in the opener.

The Glancing Queen was 5th last year when a selection on this blog. She was meant to be hurdling this season but suffered a setback. I have a lot of respect for this mare and if on song she can certainly compete at this level. The layoff and preparation are a big concern though

However given the strength of last years Bumper form a small saver may be worth going in her direction


APPRECIATE IT is hard to oppose and I suspect the biggest danger here is the large field which could cause traffic problems.


Thanks for reading once more – and good luck



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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival 2020 – day 1

It was starting to look unlikely to go ahead a week ago but thankfully the Cheltenham Festival looks likely to start as planned this week. The blog has therefore returned for another stab at pinpointing some value priced selections

Fingers crossed the meeting is able to continue without disruption throughout its four days!

As before I’ve included some stats for previous years in past posts.  For a thorough look at these I can once more strongly recommend for  a far more comprehensive job. There is a lot to digest here but careful study can reap rewards – but do remember to contribute to it if you do

Again this year’s blogs will be kept quite concise due to time limitations. Comparison of odds and place terms can always be found at  Extra places being offered by some firms will be seen here…and there can be some very generous offers to take advantage of!

It again looks as if the Festival will be starting on soft ground…something that would be very rare until recent years. This should be borne in mind when focusing on statistics from past festivals – many of which could be based on better ground. Weight in particular could be a much bigger factor as its harder to carry higher weights in handicaps when conditions are deep

Below I’ll cover my thoughts after seeing the entries for the opening a few others for later in the week that I’ve already had an interest in

Onto the action for Day 1:

1.30 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle

A very open looking event to start off the Festival.

Abacadabras was early ante post favourite but from an early stage I thought he might be vulnerable here. You cant knock his form and its easy to see him looking to travel better than anything on the home turn.

The downside is he looks all about speed and didn’t get up the hill as well as others in last years bumper after travelling similarly well.

I still think he’ll be in the shake up but have a feeling something could outstay him close home.

Shishkin has supplanted him as favourite after some highly impressive wins. He hasn’t done quite enough to tempt me yet at some low odds.

In the same colours, Asterion Forlonges is the chief hope of the Willie Mullins stable. His recent Leopardstown win was all the more impressive to me as he still looked far from the finished article in the paddock before hand. There is still some strengthening up to be done there and whatever he does on Tuesday, I think he’ll be better again next season. More of a concern from that run would be a tendency to jump to the right – that isn’t what you would want here

Chantry House has done little wrong this season but yet to face this grade. Fiddlerontheroof in comparison has won at this level and is on an upward curve – enough to suggest he can reverse earlier season form with Edwardstone.

At bigger odds, Elixir D’Ainay is also  interesting now that he is being dropped back in trip. This looks like a move that could suit after he patently failed to stay last time.

It’s hard to discount the majority of this field and that makes it largely a race to watch

With Hills offering 7 places on the race I would have to be most tempted by Abacadabras with that offer.


Add ABRACADABRAS to any each multiples with firms offering as many places as possible

2.10 Arkle Trophy

Last years Arkle wasn’t the best of affairs and quickly fell apart to leave a fairly uncompetitive affair

This year we should have a far more exciting contest with Ireland most likely to have the winner.

Notebook has beaten both Fakir D’Oudairies and Cash Back this season and on a pure form basis should do so again

He’s a lovely looking type but his only previous piece of form at Cheltenham isn’t inspiring – and he did get quite worked up before his last win. Both have to be negatives

There is a lot of pace and some very accurate young jumpers in this race.

As well as Notebook, Global Citizen, Cash Back, Esprit du Large, Fakir d’Oudairies, Rouge Vif, Maire Banrigh and Put the Kettle On have all won races from the front this season

There is every chance that they could all cut each others throats and let something creep in from behind. Brewin’upastorm would seem the obvious one to do that but it’s Fakir d’Oudairies that gets my vote.

He’s jumped like a natural throughout the season but he also looks like he doesn’t have to lead.

I can see him sitting behind the pace and unlike many others in this race has all important good previous course form in his favour



2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

This race has often had a tendency to suit lower weights and I think it would be a massive effort for top weight Vinndication to justify favouritism in this. He is further handicapped by having shown a preference for right handed tracks in the past.

Top of my list is The Conditional who has crept in on a nice 10st 6lb weight. He has a course win and came close to winning a bigger race than this when second in the Ladbroke Trophy in November.

On his only start since he still looked a likely winner until stamina failing kicked in late (a bad mistake also served to knock some stuffing out of him at a critical point)

That result has helped to bring his mark down a little and he ticks all of the boxes I look for in this race.

I also like Who Dares Wins who jumps well for a novice and never seems to run a bad race. Expect to see him late on the scene. Trainer Alan King has won this race with a novice before (Fork Lightning) and might have had a second with Bensalem until a late fall

Kildisart also carries some money for me after a quite eyecatching performance last time at Kempton. This suggested a return to some very decent form was around the corner. 25/1 was available after that run but current quotes of around 10/1 seem more accurate. I cant really recommend him so much at those odds


Back THE CONDITIONAL and WHO DARES WINS each way – preferably with firms offering extra places

3.30 Champion Hurdle

The main event of the day has a large field than normal, mainly because it’s a wide open (and dare I say it has a ‘sub standard’ look to it)

Epatante comes in with best piece of form but I still cant quite forget a very bad run here last year (even if there was a supposed excuse behind it)

Nicky Henderson also has 2nd fav Pentland Hills who has looked to need to be produced at exactly the right moment so far this season,

I’m far more taken by the claims of two big prices here – especially with some firms now offering 4 places

Cornerstone Lad had the look of an improving type and benefitted from an inspired ride to beat former champ Buveur D’Air in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November. His rivals definitely underestimated him that day and spent too much time watching each other.

However in his next run he proved it wasn’t all fluke when just behind re opposing Ballyandy and Pentland Hills at Haydock. He gave both rivals weight that day and on level terms has every chance to turn that form around.

He might have given the impression in both of those races that he needs to lead but I don’t think he is that one dimensional. There are others in this race like Not So Sleepy and Petit Mouchoir who can take that role this time and I think Cornerstone Lad might actually be better coming off a strong pace.

He doesn’t have any course form but wins at undulating Catterick give me enough hope that he wont mind Cheltenham.


The most important thing is his favour would be soft ground. He has a very marked knee action which will always see him to best effect when conditions are deep

Silver Streak is the other for me with around 25/1 available. Placed in this race last year he looks a better horse again this year and has been trained more specifically for it. His second to Epatante over Christmas (Ballyandy behind) was a fine trial for me.

In contrast to my other selection, Silver Streak wants better ground. He was well beaten behind Cornerstone Lad when the ground was too soft. If it’s just genuine soft he still can operate…but on ‘good to soft’ I think the scales tip more in his favour


CORNERSTONE LAD each way on Soft or Heavy ground

SILVER STREAK each way on soft or good to soft

look for firms offering 1/5 odds 1st 4 places in both cases

Both horses are  overpriced in my eyes due to coming from less fashionable stables

4.10 The Mares Hurdle

Two top mares in Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle are due to battle this one out. With no previous course form for Honeysuckle I have a clear preference for 2018 winner Benie Des Dieux.

However she isn’t going to make anyone rich at current quotes of 4/6

There is another likely duel in the race – with two others being strong contender to get in the frame

Roksana and Stormy Ireland benefitted from Benie Des Dieux’s last fence tumble to finish 1st and 2nd in this race last year.

Stormy Ireland has had a successful season in Ireland so far but there isn’t anything in her form for me to suggest she can turn the tables on Roksana.


ROKSANA might be needing some good fortune again to win but she’s the obvious one to fill 3rd place to me and so that makes her worthy of inclusion in any ew multiples at odds of around 9/1



4.50 Novices Hcap

A Plus Tard was a graded performer masquerading in a handicap last year when dotting up in this.

The one horse who immediately strikes me as being better than a handicapper this year is Hold The Note. He just got outstayed over 3 miles last time after looking to travel all over Two For Gold last time when turning into the straight

He’s a big horse who is built to carry weight so I’m not too worried about him sharing joint top weight.

Connections have won this race before with Mister Whitaker but this one looks to have more class than that horse and still could be improving

Imperial Aura looks an obvious danger but is already plenty short enough at around 5/1. He should run his race again and will be hard to keep out of the frame


HOLD THE NOTE each way

530 National Hunt Chase

A slightly controversial race last year with Amateur riders pushing a few horses a bit too hard over 4 miles

The race has been trimmed by 2 furlongs as a result but in soft conditions having a top amateur on board who can judge the pace is a big advantage

Carefully Selected fits the bill with Patrick Mullins on board but on his last run you’d be forgiven for thinking he was only 50-50 to get round with his jumping

Forza Milan and Ravenhill are obvious dangers with top amateurs on board – but this seems to have been factored enough into their respective prices already

Consequently the recommendation here is NO BET

Looking ahead further into the week here are a few others already backed that interest me


ASO was narrowly beaten by Frodon here last year ( and was also placed the year before). He’s done nothing to suggest he is any worse this year. His form over this course and over left hand tracks is markedly superior to right hand tracks. Therefore, I’m not too bothered that his last two runs don’t appear to be good enough – he came into this race last year on back of a similar effort. His Wetherby effort confirmed to me that all the ability was still there until failing to stay.

With up to 25/1 still available I think this is a cracking each way bet (especially given his form proximity to Frodon last year who is at 5/1). Only 13 remain in the race at this stage and with likelihood of a few more coming out it may be prudent to jump in now. If less than 8 are left after the 48 hour declarations on Tuesday the each way angle will no longer be possible


Back ASO each way at 20/1+ while 1/5 odds 123 are still guaranteed

LISP has already shown some cat-like jumping prowess in his novice season that suggests he is going to be a better chaser than hurdler

He has managed to retain the same mark over chases so far despite not getting the conditions that suited him best over hurdles – coming off a strong pace over 2 miles

He should get this in spades on Friday and granted the usual luck in running is at the top of my list of handicap fancies this week.

Off his 144 mark he should be getting weight from plenty here. Alan King won this with another novice (Oh Crick) in 2009 and its been an obvious target for some time as Lisp goes in pursuit of a £60,000 bonus courtesy of winning a race at Plumpton before this


LISP each way


The blog will return on Tuesday to look further at Wednesday’s card

In the meantime, thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you end up backing


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Posted by on March 8, 2020 in Uncategorized


Grand National 2019

As with previous years here are a few thoughts for National Hunt racing’s greatest spectacle at Aintree on Saturday.

There are many other good preview sites out there this year(some in much greater depth on a runner-by -runner basis) but here is my personal synopsis.

I have given points to the main statistical aspects I use (further details can be seen in previous year’s GN blogs. These focus on stamina, weight, age and preparatory runs. After analysing these it’s determined the main contenders in my eyes and this year’s runners can be seen in the table on link below


This year doesn’t seem to have quite the same overall class of runners as other recent ones. There are several with serious question marks and many others looking to be out of form and badly handicapped.

There are just two runners who get the perfect score – Vintage Clouds and last year’s Irish National hero General Principle. The latter hasn’t been in great form this season and is badly weighted with Vintage Clouds when they both had their final preparatory race.

It is Sue Smith’s grey who firmly tops my shortlist this year and qualifies on every front. His third in last year’s Scottish Grand National is the biggest pointer for him here and he looks to be improved from that on his last run (first after a wind operation). Sue has won this race before with Auroras Encore who also advertised his chances before in the Ayr marathon


Like the Grand National, the Scottish version needs good positioning throughout despite it being a thorough test of stamina. Some who crab Vintage Clouds think his jumping isn’t swift enough to cope with the early pace here but that run at Ayr is enough to convince me he is up to it.

Like all the runners he’ll need to get a good position after the early dash over the first few fences but if he can get himself a prominent position before Bechers I think he’ll be very tough to keep out of the finish. He can cope with both good and soft ground so the recent rain is not an issue and should be more of a positive now with his light weight and proven stamina

The Scottish National form also throws up the two who beat him in that – Joe Farrell and Ballyoptic. The latter hasn’t shown enough sparkle for me this term but Joe Farrell is interesting after using the same prep race used by West Tip back in 1986. Prior to his Scottish National victory he was totally unproven regarding stamina but that should not be a problem now. He would also have a perfect score if he had just had one extra prep run this season. He probably wouldn’t want any more rain to get into the ground but no more seems to be forecast.

Last year’s winner Tiger Roll isn’t far behind on the table and it’s just the weight he has to carry which stops him getting a perfect 10. He looks an even better horse this year but as quite a small horse the addition of an extra 6lbs on his back is going to make life quite hard here. His stamina seems assured but last years race was run quite steadily early and he only just held on at the end. If there is a truer gallop throughout this time it could also root out any flaws here.

It wouldn’t be a big surprise if this highly likeable horse were to become one of the National greats but at around 4/1 he represents poor value in a race where some luck in running is always needed

In the same Gigginstown colours,Gordon Elliott’s Dounikos appeals more at much bigger odds. His best performance came when upped in trip last time and despite running off his highest mark yet he could still be on the upgrade. I’m not sure if the rain this week is what he wanted or not but jockey bookings suggest he’s better fancied than General Principle here. He only fails to get 10 points because of his age but as a French bred he is likely to be more forward at 8 than others. He’s also a big unit who should be able to cope with carrying 11 stone in these conditions

Rock the Kasbah also comes in at 9 points but his lack of a recent run is something I find hard to ignore.

Of the others the ones of most note to me are:

Pleasant Company. Second last year and though his preparation this year doesn’t look ideal it is exactly the same as then so he can’t be totally ruled out. At 11 he’s not likley to have improved though and I think David Mullins gave him an exceptional ride last year. I’m disappointed he’s not renewing the partnership

One For Arthur. Beset by problems since winning impressively 2 years ago. Unseating his rider in his only two runs this year doesn’t read well and this would be a mammoth ask

Folsom Blue. Arguably unlucky not to win last year’s Irish National this one has bottomless stamina and the rain this week hasn’t really been enough. If it were to pour down again we can’t discount him despite being 12 years old. If this race were over 6 miles he would be the pick!

Ramses de Teillee. Only has 7 points because 7 year olds have an awful record in this. I think he was trained for the Welsh National this year where he finished 2nd. That qualifies him for stamina here but his best form seems to come at Chepstow and he also had a very hard race since then at Haydock

Rathvinden. I’ve always been sceptical about using the National Hunt Chase as a market for stamina but it was fine for Tiger Roll last year. Rathvinden seemed to have a very hard race when he won that last year and it was well run so his stamina seems assured. He has plenty of class and could be well weighted here but only having one prep race this season is quite a big negative


Three of them this year. Always look for the firms offering extra places but my money is on these (with first named being the main selection)

Vintage Clouds

Joe Farrell


Good luck with whatever you back and hoping all the participants come back safe and well


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Posted by on April 5, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 4 – 2019

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

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

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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

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


SIR EREC to win

GARDENS OF BABYLON betting without the fav


2.10 Country Hcap Hurdle

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


LISNAGAR OSCAR ( chance decreases if ground gets softer)



3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thistlecrack appeals most of the bigger priced outsiders


4.10 Foxhunters Chase

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

No recommendation


4.50 Grand Annual Hcap

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

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

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

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

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


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


5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hcap

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

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

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

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

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

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


Back both EW




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

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


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Posted by on March 14, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 3 -2019

Day 3 thoughts:


1.30 JLT Novices Chase

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

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

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

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

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





2.10 Pertemps Network Final

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

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

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

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


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





2.50 Ryanair Chase

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

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

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

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

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

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



ASO (EW small)


3.30 Stayers Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

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

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

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

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



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



4.50 Mares Novice Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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




5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

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

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

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

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

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


Back both EW





Thanks for reading and good luck with whatever you back



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Posted by on March 13, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 2 – 2019

Day 2 picks:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2.10 RSA Novices Chase

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

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

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

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

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


2.50 Coral Cup

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

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

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

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

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


Joke Dancer EW 33/1+


3.30 Champion Chase

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

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

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


Castlegrace Paddy EW 33/1


4.10 Cross Country Chase

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


4.50 Boodles Juvenile Hcap

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

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

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


Fine Brunello EW


5.30 Champion Bumper

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

I think he’s plenty short enough.

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

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


Ask for Glory

The Glancing Queen



Thanks for reading once more – and good luck



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Posted by on March 12, 2019 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 1 – 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

No recommendation
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

No Recommendation


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

No Recommendation


4.50 Close Brothers Hcap

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

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

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


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


530 National Hunt Chase

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

No Recommendation

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


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Posted by on March 11, 2019 in Uncategorized


Grand National 2018


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

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

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

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

The runners and odds from various bookmakers can be found here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 4 top point scorers here are all big priced contenders


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


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



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




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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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









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

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

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

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

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

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

…and the final recommendations when seeing tonight odds are:

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

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


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

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

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

thanks for reading and best of luck to all




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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 4 – 2018

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

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

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

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


Onto the races:

1.30 Triumph Hurdle 2ml 1 fur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


2.10 County Hcap Hurdle 2ml

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

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

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


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


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle 3ml

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


3.30 Gold Cup 3ml 2fur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


4.10 Foxhunters Chase 3ml 2fur

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

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

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


4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle 2ml 4fur

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

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

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


5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Hcap 2ml

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

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