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Grand National Day 2015

Saturday morning update at bottom of page

bechers

The final day of the Aintree meeting and the showpiece event the Grand National is due to start at 4.15pm
There were no withdrawals prior to Friday’s deadline which meant that all reserves miss the race. Subsequent to this Carlito Brigante was taken out after being found lame so 39 runners are now due to start the big race
I listed each horse with remarks about their chances and with a scoring system earlier in the week on this posting https://thefinalfence.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/2015-crabbies-grand-national/
A list of bookmakers odds for the big race can be found here:http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-11-aintree/16:15/winner

Some initial things to note from this odds list.

This is the biggest horse racing shop window of the year for bookmakers when they look to bring in new accounts.
Many will offer enhanced odds and place terms which may well be unprofitable to them. For anyone who doesn’t yet hold an account there will be further carrots dangled with higher odds again on fancied horses (though to limited stakes) and the offer of free bets in the future.
For any newbies out there who aren’t sure of how to take advantage of such offers please feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter (@Senor_Moodoir) and I will endeavour to help if I can

Also if betting online get bets on early. There is unprecedented traffic on betting company sites on this day and some may struggle to handle it! Some have been known to crash as they cannot handle it in the past


And so onto the race:

Lets hope it’s a cleaner race than Friday’s Topham – run over the same course but a shorter trip – where two thirds of the field failed to complete. The fences may be easier nowadays but that may just increase the speed they jump. Loose horses were causing plenty of problems in Friday’s race
The big talking point will undoubtedly be the final appearance of champion jockey AP McCoy which is the reason why his mount Shutthefrontdoor is favourite.
Undoubtedly, this one is a much shorter price than he should be as a result but its market forces that have driven his price so low. Bookmakers predict he will be one of the shortest priced favourites ever with all of the support they expect but I’m not so sure he will get as short as is predicted.
He’s currently hanging around 7/1 though his real odds should maybe be double that. While he fits the bill on stamina he fails on so many other stats – and firms will be aware of this.
If you fancy him I would advise to wait until the shop windows open tomorrow morning and firms may well be competing to be the ones offering the top price on him. I’ll be surprised if you can’t get a bit more than 7/1.
Once on course bookmakers become involved in the hour before the race that price may contract though I think there is another in the race who may well be backed also – and possibly even vying for favouritism.
I can’t recommend backing him myself and on my other post I formulated a shortlist where I think the possible winner will come from.
GODSMEJUDGE, AL CO,MONBEG DUDE, ACROSS THE BAY , ROYALE KNIGHT, PINEAU DE RE, BALTHAZAR KING, SOLL, ROCKY CREEK
The first 7 of these all fit the trends of previous winners best in the race and have the form in the book which gives them a serious chance. The last two have a slight failing on the stamina front but I believe have the potential to erase that negative they have.
I have already advised bets on Godsmejudge and Monbeg Dude earlier in the year in January and February.
Godsmejudge would still have been my top selection but for a real dismal run over hurdles three weeks ago. He is a shorter price than I advised now – and I wont be backing him anymore now that I’m already on.
Monbeg Dude was disappointing in his trainers mind last time out where the fitting of a tongue tie was blamed. I’m a bit disappointed that he doesn’t have a jockey who knows him well on board as he needs to be given a patient ride and held up until late. Nevertheless last years 7th (didn’t quite stay after running a bit too freely) is still overpriced in my eyes at 40/1 – especially when 6 places are available. If you haven’t backed already I still rate him as a value outsider to keep with.
Al Co has come if for some support in the last week to around 25/1. He’s one for a saver as he probably is the best stats fit of all. It’s just a bit offputting that he seems to be ridden as if he doesn’t want to many horses round him – a negative if that is applied on this track.
Last years winner and second Pineau De Re and Balthazar King still have place chances. Pineau De Re is now 12 and that may just count against him along with his rise in the weights. Balthazar King also has a slightly higher mark and I think has got a little too short at around 10/1. I can see him running well but again finding one too good.
Royale Knight is improving but needs to be off a much higher mark than he has won off before. It’s the huge jump in class for me that just keeps him off my list to bet.
I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from Soll at around 20/1. He does have some stamina to prove but his new trainer David Pipe seems to have revitalized him and a different training regime could see him a stronger stayer.
The two bets for the day I will suggest at currently available odds come last.
Across the Bay represent the McCain stable who have such a good heritage in this race stemming from the mighty Red Rum. He was very unlucky to be taken out of the race with a circuit to go last year but has proved he likes the course. I hope he can be ridden with a bit more restraint to get home this year but at 50/1 and with 6 places available he is worth an interest.
The main bet is Rocky Creek however. He was 5th last year and jumped around the course with aplomb only to fade late home. I think he can improve on that and am relying on his trainer’s great record at bringing improvement to horses by means of a breathing operation. He looked a stronger finisher last time at Kempton after coming back from his treatment.
While I don’t see a jumping problem some luck is always need at this course. You can be the best jumper in the world but if you run into one in front of you that isn’t so good at the obstacles it can be all over.

rocky creek
He should be the favourite in the race for me and I see him too big with 10/1 offered . Paul Nicholls has become known as ‘Mr Saturday’ this season with such a fine record in landing the big weekend pot. This would be the ultimate weekend result for him and I can see people latching onto this. I don’t expect his SP to be as high as 10/1 and could conceivably see him challenging Shutthefrontdoor as favourite
Recommendations
3pts ew Rocky Creek 10/1 (Betfred/Tote who pay ¼ 12345) or take BetVictor’s 9/1 where they offer 1st 6
1pt ew Across The Bay 50/1 50/1 (BetVictor ¼ odds 123456)

(already advised earlier this year

1.5 pts ew Godsmejudge 28/1 + 1pt ew 25/1

1pt ew Monbeg Dude 33/1)

As for the remaining races on the card there aren’t too many bets that take my fancy for now but here are some thoughts with selections recommended in the last two races:

2.15 Parlour Games and Nichols Canyon are the pricipals and had only a lenght between them at Cheltenham. There shouldn’t be much between them again but both would prefer softer ground and the form hasn’t really been advertised by those behind since. As Der Mee’s form is also on softer ground and while Three Musketeers looks promising he’ll need further improvement here. Days Of Heaven missed Cheltenham and is the one that most takes the eye as he looks to be firmly on an upward curve. The problem is that this distance is new territory for him and that prevents me backing him

2.05 Gods Own has all the best form here and gets his desired ground. There is a reservation about his form on left handed tracks which he put to bed to some degree with his second in the Arkle last time. More critical for betting on this race is that there is no obvious front runner (Solar Impulse maybe) and this could be a tactical affair. Court Minstrel is the one I have my eye on most as track and ground should definitely suit – but I wouldnt want to see Paul Moloney overdoing the waiting tactics if the pace isn’t quick-

2.50 Hard to tell if his serious blunder deprived Zarkandar of victory in the World Hurdle or not. He was certainly going well at the time but ultimately Cole Harden won going away. The latter gets his ground again and should have no competition for the lead up front. Much will depend on who has recovered from that race best. Last year’s winner Whisper should also get closer now he’s had a run under his belt. If there is a shock then Henryville ran a huge race under top weight in the Pertemps final at Cheltenham. That entitles him to mix it with these and he’s the most appealing of the outsiders-3.25 Buywise throws many races away with bad jumping and you have to take that on board if backing at a short price. Vino Griego is a quirky character who hasnt shown much form in his last three races – but now he’s back on good ground. Last year he had similar conditions in this race when touched off by the reopposing Duke of Lucca but is now 10lbs better off. I’d be chancing he is on a going today at around 8/1 but he certainly isn’t the type of horse to risk the life savings on!

5.10 One For The Guvnor could be well in on his handicap debut but has been priced accordingly at an early 5/1. I slightlyprefer two Irish raiders at bigger odds. The Game Changer was well fancied in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham but the rain on the day probably scuppered his chances. He has his ground now and an excellent pilot aboard in young Luke Dempsey. At still bigger odds, Little King Robin, is also back on a surface that suits. She is a trail blazing front runner – a style that is suited by this course – and she has a touch of class. She’s top weight on the back of that but I find her odds to big for this

Find the odds for this race here : http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-11-aintree/17:10/winner

Recommendations

1pt ew The Game Changer @12/1 (365, Ladbrokes, Skybet, Corals)

0.5pts ew Little King Robin @25/1 (generally available)

5.40 Hard to read the form in this Mares Bumper. The Irish challenge looks predictably strong with Whistle Dixie and Babylone des Mottes at the head of the early markets. Sunshine Corner has to be on the shortlist but connections intimated that she may not want the ground this quick after her debut victory. Chocca Wocca is the first foal of the very classy mare Chomba Womba and I’ll be watching her with interest. I’m a sucker for anything the Crawford family send over to this meeting in Bumpers and they won this with Legacy Gold two years ago. They have Verona Opera here at a big price and you can be sure she’ll be trained for this – the connections main aim will be to sell her on the back of it. Her debut run doesnt look good enough but I think she improved plenty next time up when winning easily. Sh’e worth a punt at big odds because of her connections record in bumpers alone

Find the odds for this race here: http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-11-aintree/17:40/winner

Recommendation

0.5pts ew Verona Opera  40/1 (365 – who offer 1/4 odds 123)

(apologies to those who read this before this morning where I accidentaly called her Verona Gold – thinking of Legacy Gold again!)

*SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE*

A small amount of ovcernight rain at the track but nothing that should prevent if being decent racing ground once drying winds take some effect later.

I was looking forward to seeing some value in speical bets markets this morning on the big race but compared to last year the selection is quite poor. There are a lot of meaning less oness out there (star sign of winner, first letter of winner) and it’s very disappointing to see that ‘Top 10 finish’ which was widely available in last few years has been missed out by all so far. Sadly that’s probably a result of too much automation in compiling these days and the program that being built in.

Match Bets are the others that interest me but again there’s a pretty poor selection with many firms.

The standout for me is with BetVictor who offer

5/6 Oscar Time v 5/6 Court By Surprise

I strongly favour the former here. He may be a veteran but he has loads of good course form and in Sam Waley Cohen has the pilot with the best record over these fences on his back. Court By Surprise is a decent horse but has had a long lay off and no experience over these fences at all

http://www.betvictor.com remain the only major firm offering 6 places for each way punters and that should be the first place to look – if the win odds are available better elsewhere with firms offering 1st 5 then they should be considered intead. There remain a few firms (Betfred, Tote, Hills) only paying 4 places and that really is the last resort for each way betting now. Do try and get bets on as early as possible and take the price – when the shows come in from on course bookmakers later they will supercede these and in majority of cases they might well be less. Most firms do offer ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ so if you do take a price now you will get the final SP price if it happens to be bigger anyway

There is one other bet I have to recommend now from an earlier race

2.50 Aintree

4pts Cole Harden @15/8 (without Zarkandar)

I wasn’t confident enough to pick Cole Harden in the race itself as I thought it would be close between him and Zarkandar. In this special market ofered by a few firms I no longer have to worry what Zarkandar does – he can win and Cole Harden finish 2nd and we stil collect.

I do think his Cheltenham win has been slightly undervalued and no reason he can’t control the race again from the front on a course that should suit him even better. Bet 365 have the same market with him at 5/4 and that’s much more like what price I think he should be – the tip is given in the belief that 15/8 is simply much too big

With regard to previous selections the money has come significantly for 5.10 selection The Game Changer and last night’s 12/1 no longer available. 8/1 is now best.

Pricewise also put up my main Grand National pick Rocky Creek last night. 10/1 has now all gone. 9/1 is still available but I think that wil shorten further through the day

Thanks for reading

Comments on the blog are always most welcome

Paul

Total recommended stakes for day of race bets today = 16pts

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Aintree, Grand National, Horse Racing

 

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Aintree – Day 2

Aintree – Day 2

Day 1 of the Aintree Festival wasn’t a great day at the office.
Hargam was very well backed but ran poorly and the Aintree veteran Big Fella Thanks travelled well to a point but was a bit disappointing behind an impressive win fpor On the Fringe and Nina Carberry . The last selection of the day Bellenos ran well and led into the straight before holding on to secure some place money.
So with the 9pts staked on Thursday the place returned 3.62 pts, a loss of 5.38 pts on the day
The best sight of the day was to see Arctic Fire get up safely after a horrid looking fall in the main event.
Onto tomorrows fare – we might get some watering to the course tonight but we can expect similar decent ground:

1.40 2ml 4fur hcap hurdle

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-10-aintree/13:40/winner
Firms have been  very slow to price this race up on Thursday – having said that it is a very tricky affair.
A few notes on some but If I have any selections it will probably be tomorrow now
Mijhaar has seldom shown the talent we know he has but he’s back on the course where he showed his best piece of form this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run well here but he’s just too frustrating to tip.
Baradari never got into the race at all at Cheltenham and could still be spotted full of running in last place 3 hurdles out. He was too far back to make any impression but is capable of better.
I thought Some Buckle had an attractive mark at Sandown last timewhere he ran well despite some very testing conditions and he’s another for the shortlist but interesting that Paddy Brennan elects to ride stablemate Olofi instead
At 9 he’s the veteran in the field but has shown enough in non handicap races this season to make me think he retains all of his old ability – he’s certainly very nicely in on his 4th to Rock on Ruby at Cheltenham in January. The worry is that the ground may just have turned that little bit quick for him
A Gordon Elliott runner with a low weight and winning recent form immediately stands out in a contest like this and no surprise to see Knights Parade as an early favourite
For now it’s a NO BET race

2.15 2mile novice hurdle

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-10-aintree/14:15/winner
Glingerburn has improved consistently through the season and must be considered the top novice hurdle in the North of England right now. He bypassed Cheltenham for this and is the one to beat with a potent turn of foot.
Qewy ran 5th in the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham, albeit someway behind the front 4. With McCoy on board he looks the stable first string but I am more drawn to his stablemate Commissioned who has been waiting for good ground to return.
It had been reported before his last race at Cheltenham that he disliked soft ground so I’m not really sure why they ran him on it. I’m happy to draw a line through that disappointing run.
He had had a break but was impressive on good ground on his reappearance at Cheltenham – he also ran well at this meeting last year
Commissioned is the marginal selection for now but I’m waiting to see more strength in this market also and maybe a few more firms offering ¼ odds a place before making a bet – check back tomorrow!

2.40 Mildmay Novice Chase 3ml 1fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-10-aintree/14:50/winner
This principally revolves around whether World Hurdle runner –up Saphir Du Rheu will reddem himself over the larger obstacles. He went back over hurdles after two non completions in novice chasing earlier this season.
He is surely the best horse in the race but the jumping issue prevents me from getting involved in this race – I would like to see him establish himself as a Gold Cup contender for next season though
NO BET

3.25 Melling Chase 2ml 4fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-10-aintree/14:50/winner
Hard to rule out anything completely here.
Sire De Grugy would be a highly popular victor but this trip is unknown territory for the former two-mile champ and the ground maybe quick enough for him.
Balder Succes seems to prefer single figure fields. Don Cossack and Champagne Fever looked like they were going to run close at Thurles earlier in the season before the former fell 2 out and are tightly matched.
Cue Card has the best form prior to this season – but nothing has really gone right for him and it remains to be seen if he retains all of his old ability.
Simply Ned was 7 lengths behind Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham but was always on the back foot after a bad mistake at the top of the hill when the race was just starting to develop.
I think he’s the value outsider – he’ll like the ground and has run well at this meeting last year. Stamina isn’t proven but he’s starting to look like he needs further than 2 miles as he gets older.

This is a very competitive looking race and surprising that so many firms are quoting 1/5th odds a place right now so ew backers should look to use firms offering 1/4 odds where feasible

Recommendation

0.5 pts ew Simply Ned 20/1 (Skybet, Stan James)

4.05 Crabbies Topham Chase 2ml5fur

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-10-aintree/16:05/winner
The ‘Mini Grand National’ is run over the same big fences but a much shorter trip and draws a 30 runner field.
I was a bit disappointed with Rajdhani Express’s 8th at the Cheltenham Festival where conditions all looked to be in his favour. Ground and trip should be right again but he just appears a bit too short a price hereafter that last run
Eastlake was 3rd here last year giving the impression he stayed this trip – something he hasn’t done since. He still looks like he would prefer a strongly run two miles to me
Bennys Mist has run this course well twice before when the ground is decent (1 length ahead of Eastlake in this race last year and only 1lb worse off). He should be prominent once more but is a few pounds higher in the handicap now and that could just make the difference between a win and a place. I don’t really see why he should be a bit bigger than Eastlake in the markets currently though and take him to confirm that form.
At a bigger price still I like Rathlin who has come down the handicap a bit this season but has performed at the highest level in the past.

rathlin
He ran well at this meeting this year behind Boston Bob (Rajdhani Express 7 lengths behind him and 2lbs worse off today). He’s been largely disappointing this season on soft ground until showing some sparkle last time.
I think he needs this better ground and represents the best value in the race
Recommendations:
Search for firms offering 5 places for a start!
1 pt ew each
Rathlin 33/1 (365)
Bennys Mist 16/1 (Tote/Betfred, BetVictor, Paddy Power)

4.40 Doom Bar Sefton Novices Hurdle 3ml

http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-04-10-aintree/16:40/winner
It would be great to see a win for Coneygree’s younger brother Flintham but the ground isn’t anywhere soft enough to favour this one.
Minella Rocco has looked a bright prospect this season but I wonder if he’s ready yet for this kind of level with a big field on much quicker ground than he’s used to.
Vyta Du Roc is more streetwise and would have finished closer at Cheltenham but for a last hurdle blunder (holds Ordo Ab Chao on that run). He’s closely matched on previous season form with Blaklion but the latter was very disappointing at the Festival
There’s a few potential improvers at bigger prices and there have been some turn ups in this race in the past.
Foryourinformation looked a much better horse on decent ground last time and promises to be better still over this longer trip
Our Kaempfer went straight into my notebook after a close third to Red Sherlock in a Cheltenham bumper last season. He ran much too freely when down the field at the Festival that season and has been slow to show his potential again. The penny seems to be dropping in his latest two runs. This 3 mile trip is new and a bit of a question mark but he’s still overpriced for me

Recommendations

0.5pts ew each

Foryourinformation 18/1 (365)

Our Kaempfer 33/1 (365, Stan James)

(both firms offering 1/4 odds a place 123

5.15 2ml 1fur Bumper
Often a race to sport a star of the future but too many unknowns for me.
I like the way Barters Hill beat off all comers in his Newbury win (Buveur D’Air still a promising 2nd) but the ground will be something quicker than he and many others in the field have so far experienced
I’m too in the dark to be placing a bet on this race
NO BET

Thanks for reading the blog once more

If you agree or strongly disagree with anything please feel free to leave a comment

Good luck!

Paul

*** FRIDAY UPDATE ***

A disappointing day in general with the lack of enhanced place terms being offered on some races for such a big meeting. While it can be mathematical suicide for the bookies to give too much away it’s a bit of a shock to see so many still offering 1/5th ods on the main race of the day the 3.25. There isn’t one of the 10 runners you could rule ourt completely and far worse races have been offered with 1/4 odds in the past.

Todays extra bets:

1.40 0.5 pts ew Baradari @20/1 (Skybet, BetVictor). 5 places would have been nice but everyone is paying first 4. I backed this one at Cheltenham where he was given far too much to do and  am expecting better today. The quicker ground shouldnt be a problem as he ran well on it at Ascot before Christmas

2.15 As previously mentioned I like Commissioned’s chances back on ground that suits and he ran well at this meeting last year. I am fearful of the favourite Glingerburn so I think the bet to be had lies in the ‘betting without the favourite’ market

1pt ew Commissioned (w/o Glingerburn) @9/1 (ladbrokes)

(he is as low as 10/1 with some firms to win the race with Glingerburn included)

Friday selections = 10pts staked

UPDATE; Friday results had Rathlin 33/1 and Our Kaempfer 33/1 (but with 20p Rule 4) both placed,  resulting in returns of 13.05 pts – a 3.05 pt profit on the day

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Aintree, Horse Racing

 

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2015 Crabbies Grand National

2015 Crabbies Grand National

With the 5 day declarations now in for Saturday’s big race it’s time for a rundown of the likely runners.

* THURSDAY LUNCHTIME UPDATE*

48hour declarations are now in and no horses have come out of the race – This means the first 40 listed are all declared to run.

As alluded to in some of my previous posts there are certain stats that can highlight those with a better chance of prevailing. To try and pinpoint these further I’m going to give a scoring system to each runner based on each of these.

Latest odds for the big race from all of the major bookmakers can be found here:http://www.oddschecker.com/grand-national/winner
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.
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 one winner (Bindaree 8yo in 2002), and all but 5 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 29 to try in this millennium and the best was Big Fella Thanks with 6th place in 2009.
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
Runs This Season (R)
When you realise that none of the last 24 winners came into the race without having at least 3 runs it has to be important and so is given 2pts. A run since Christmas is also important so we’ll take off a point for any that haven’t
These I think are the key statistics for which to base a scoring system and I will apply to each horse below. A total score of 10 pts is possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

Below are the 5 day entries and there is a final 48 hour declaration stage to come on Thursday where a few more horses may drop out. (I will amend the list if necessary then)
Horse are listed in racecard order with the highest weighted first.

LORD WINDERMERE 9yo 11st 10lbs
Trainer: Jim Culloty ; Jockey : Robbie McNamara
Score= 5 (W 0, S 1, A 2, R 2)
Top weight on basis of last year’s Gold Cup win. Even allowing for the softer ground this year he ran a lifeless race before eventually pulling up. Hardly an ideal prep and although ground should suit now the statistics are all against him now

MANY CLOUDS 8yo 11st 9lbs
Oliver Sherwood; Leighton Aspell
Score =4 (0,1,1,2)
This season’s Hennessy winner was more competitive in the Gold Cup biut like so many others was taken out of his comfort zone by Coneygree’s relentless galloping. That was such a test that I would suspect it will have finished many runners off for the season. Reading between the lines I think he’s only here because the owner likes to have a runner and doesn’t have anything else this year. I’ll be very surprised if this one can be competitive and hope he’s not given too hard a time as he remains a good prospect for next season

UNIONISTE 7yo 11st 6lbs
Paul Nicholls ; Noel Fehily
Score =4 (2,1,-1,2)
As a 7yo he has it all against him and good early season form really did nothing to help his handicap mark which is now 6lb higher than when finishing a remote 6th in the Hennessy. Preparations have to be much more low key for this race to avoid inflated marks like this so he’s not for me this year.

ROCKY CREEK 9yo 11st 3lb
Paul Nicholls ; Sam Twiston Davies
Score= 6 (2,0,2,2)
Falls behind on the stamina stat with my scoring but could arguably be higher. Looked a real stayer as a novice hurdler but in his chasing season he looked a bit of a weak finisher (most notably in this race when 5th). If he hadn’t folded up so badly in the straight he could easily have been given an extra 3 pts added and there must be plenty of hope on his latest win at Kempton that the weakness could have gone. That’s down to a breathing op and it’s worked really well with other Nicholls horses this season – notably 2 mile champion Dodging Bullets (another weak finisher who is now totally transformed).
Rocky Creek comes into this race on a mark of 154 but since that was given to him he’s now rated 163 after his Kempton win. So he’s one of a small handful who comes into the race ‘well in’.

rocky creek
In last years race he was the ‘wrong age’ at 8 and was the only horse to carry more than 11 stone and be in the first 10. It’s a performance that can be built on this year when more is in his favour
He should be favourite for me and despite not quite covering all the stats he should be very competitive in this race

FIRST LIEUTENANT 10yo 11st 3lbs
Mouse Morris ; Nina Carberry
Score = 7 (2,1,2,2)
I’ve long had a fondness for this one and he was my Gold Cup pick last year until being pulled out on the day of the race. A much better Spring horse and should get the decent ground he needs. Nina Carberry should have a great spin round as he’s a fine jumper normally but I’ve never seen him as a thorough stayer and 3ml 2fur is about his limit. Doesn’t quite seem the same force he was this season so far also. I’d be much happier to see him running in the shorter Topham Trophy on Friday around this course.

firstlieu2

BALTHAZAR KING 11yo 11st 2lbs
Philip Hobbs ; Richard Johnson
Score =9 (2,3,2,2)
Hard to beat on Cheltenham’s cross country course, he ran too freely up front when not getting home in this race 2 years ago. Ridden with a bit more restraint he finished a good second last year and warrants his place close to the head of the market on that. Hasn’t run since November but usually performs well fresh so that shouldn’t be too much of a negative. A 3lb higher mark than last year won’t help things though but he remains a contender for a placing

balthazar king

SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR 8yo 11st 2lbs
Jonjo O’Neill ; AP McCoy
Score=4 (2,3,0,-1)

shutfrontdoor
The favourite – but let’s face it he only is so because it’s the jockeys final ride in the race. A win in the Irish National and has proven stamina from that. Here endeth the positives though and he really should be at least double his current odds of around 7/1. He’s too young, doesn’t have enough chasing experience and an interrupted preparation this year all weigh his score down.Public support could see him shorten up further still come the day but favourites haven’t got the record you might expect with only 6 winning since 1970.

PINEAU DE RE 12yo 11st
Dr Richard Newland; Daryl Jacob
Score=9 (3,3,1,2)
Last year’s impressive winner has now gone over the ideal age threshold and is on an 8lb higher mark. His preparation coming in hasn’t given the impression that he’s quite as good but his trainer is never one to underestimate. Faces an uphill task nonetheless to repeat the same performance

Here he is in his finest hour last year to get the juices flowing!

BALLYCASEY 8yo 10st 13lbs
Willie Mullins; Ruby Walsh
Score=4 (3,-1,0,2)
Apart from the fact he may be Ruby Walsh’s mount I can’t think of a less appealing contender for such a race. Doesn’t appear to get home over 3 miles and has been tried at shorter trips this season. What is he doing running here?

SPRING HEELED 8yo 10st 12lbs
Jim Culloty; Nick Schofield
Score =5 (3,1,1,0)
Touted by many as an Ante Post pick earlier this year he comes into the category of ‘doubtful stayer’ to me. I put him up as a bet at last year’s Cheltenham Festival when he obliged at a big price. That was mainly because he looked like a non stayer to me earlier in the season over 3ml 4fur and I thought the shorter trip was made for him. Whilst that thought remains in my mind I have to pass him over for this race.

REBEL REBELLION 10yo 10st 12lbs
Paul Nicholls; Ryan Mahon
Score= 6 (3,-1,2,2)
In great form this season and hhas winning form on this course – but everything is at much shorter trips and stamina is a massive concern. His upturn in form this season also seems linked to the partnership formed with young claimer Jack Sherwood. He isn’t experienced enough to ride him here so that’s also a negative for his chances. Another who should be in the Topham on Friday instead

DOLATULO 8yo 10st 11lbs
Warren Greatrex; Dougie Costello
Score=7 (3,-1,2,2)
On a 9lb higher mark than he has ever won off before and stamina for this trip is a big question mark. The handicapper has ruined what chance he did one have for me – and it wasn’t that high anyway

MON PARRAIN 9yo 10st 11lbs
Paul Nicholls; Sean Bowen
Score=8 (3,1,2,2)
Looked an Aintree star of the future when jumping around this course for fun before eventually finishing 2nd in the 2011 Topham. He’s been a bit of a disappointment since and didn’t show too much on this course before Christmas. A win at Cheltenham since when 25/1 showed he still retains some ability but the handicapper has raised him back to a mark of 148 (highest winning mark 142) on the back of it.
CARLITO BRIGANTE 9yo 10st 10lbs NON RUNNER
Karen McLintock; Brian Harding
Score=8 (3,1,2,2)
A once highly useful hurdler for Gordon Elliott, he’s hit some revival in form with a new trainer this season. While he should get the decent ground he needs he’s back to a very high mark of 147 and was comfortably beaten of that last time out.

NIGHT IN MILAN 9yo 10st 9lbs
Keith Reveley; James Reveley
Score 8 (3,1,2,2)
A bold jumping front runner who could be suited by the challenges of this course. His last win however was of a mark of 136 and he has 146 here. His only two efforts off such a rating have seen him beaten (though not totally disgraced). Some stamina to prove at this grade, particularly given his running style

RUBI LIGHT 10yo 10st 9lbs
Robert Alan Hennessy; Andrew Lynch
Score=6 (3,-1,2,2)
Irish raider who was once competing at the highest class at around 2.5 miles. Isn’t quite the force he was but there is absolutely no reason to assume he has suddenly found new stamina reserves. He doesn’t really stay 3 miles and so has very little chance here for me

THE DRUIDS NEPHEW 8yo 10st 9lbs
Neil Mulholland; Aidan Coleman
Score= 7 (3,1,1,2)
Another who comes here ‘well in’ – 10 lbs in his case after a runaway win at the Cheltenham Festival. His rider there, Barry Geraghty is now injured and Aidan Coleman should be a more than capable substitute.
Stamina is a bit of an enigma as he seemed to get 3.5 miles ok at Cheltenham earlier this season but then capitulated quite quickly in the Hennessy over 3ml 2fur.
There are also a few doubts about his low jumping style for these fences but my principal concern would be that he was trained to win at Cheltenham and the National is a bit of an afterthought.

CAUSE OF CAUSES 7yo 10st 9lbs
Gordon Elliott; Paul Carberry
Score= 5 (3,1,-1,2)
As previously stated I don’t count his win over 4 miles at Cheltenham as sufficient proof he has the stamina for this race. It was slowly run and the final sprint would have suited a horse who really a 2 miler over hurdles.
Expect to see him racing at the back of the field on the first circuit but as he’s only 7 I have to pass him by


GODSMEJUDGE 9yo 10st 8lbs
Alan King; Wayne Hutchinson
Score=10 (3,3,2,2)
My early ante post pick and comes out perfectly on a stats front. His preparation was all looking good until a fairly horrendous last run over hurdles at Bangor.

godsmejudge
Alan King issued an upbeat statement afterwards saying the horse was fine and simply didn’t like going hurdling.
It’s not ideal though to see a run like this only 3 weeks before the big one and I’m more hopeful than confident on his chances now

AL CO 10yo 10st 8lbs
Peter Bowen; Denis O’Regan
Score 10 (3,3,2,2)
Another who comes out perfectly on the stats, last season’s Scottish National hero ran really well in the same race that Godsmejudge was so disappointing in at Bangor.
Regular rider Jamie Moore is injured so we wait to see who replaces him.
Didn’t impress over these fences before Christmas but I doubt he was expected to do much in that race and it has managed to get his mark down a couple of pounds. Trainer Peter Bowen knows how to get one ready for these fences – Mc Kelvey was a good 2nd in the race and Always Waining and Dunnbrody Millar excelled for him in the Topham in recent years.

al co
The one real concern comes with the trainers quote after his Ayr success : ‘Jamie (Moore) always had him on the outside because he loves to have plenty of daylight. I thought he got to the front a bit soon, but it worked out fine‘. – Peter Bowen, trainer.
He was ridden similarly wide at Bangor and if he does need all of that space he is on the wrong course here. He will lose valuable lengths and the Canal Turn could be a disaster

MONBEG DUDE 10yo 10st 7lbs
Michael Scudamore; Liam Treadwell
Score 10 (3,3,2,2)
My other Ante Post pick had some doubts expressed about his wellbeing at Cheltenham. Connections obviously expected a better showing there but I thought he ran ok on ground that had firmed up a bit too much for him.
A perfect score on Stats with a previous win in the Welsh Grand National on his CV.
Ran well here last year despite being a bit too fresh. I would have preferred Paul Carberry to be on board again so it’s disappointing to have a jockey on board who won’t know him as well (he needs to be held up and delivered with a late run). Liam Treadwell gets the call and at least he has the Grand National T shirt having won on board Mon Mome in 2009

thedude

CORRIN WOOD 8yo 10st 7lbs
Donald McCain; David Casey
Score=6 (3,1,0,2)
Fair novice last season with some bold jumping front running displays. Was found out when upped in grade and yet to recover similar form levels since. Probably not experienced enough for this kind of test yet in his career.

THE RAINBOW HUNTER 11yo 10st 7lbs
Kim Bailey; David Bass
Score=5 (3,0,2,0)
Two appearances in this race have seen him unseat rider on both occasions. An outsider who has had far from an ideal preparation and something to prove on stamina.

SAINT ARE 9yo 10st 6lbs
Tom George; Paddy Brennan
Score=8 (3,1,2,2)
Never seen with a chance when running in this race as a 7yo in 2013. Previously had a good record around Aintree’s Mildmay course. Perhaps starting to rediscover his best form at 9 and with a change of trainer but he’s been raised a massive 16lbs in the ratings since finishing 3rd behind Oscar Time on this course in December. Some harsh handicapping there may have sealed his fate

ACROSS THE BAY 11yo 10st 6lbs
Donald McCain; Henry Brooke
Score=10 (3,3,2,2)
An interesting contender who has led the field at at Water Jump for the last two seasons only to be hampered by a loose horse on both occasions. Last year was particularly costly as he went from clear leader to clear last place in just a few strides. He still did well to get to the coat tails of the principals at the Canal Turn but had used up too much petrol by then.
His stamina side scores high by virtue of a 3ml 4fur win at haydock in heavy ground but he didn’t get home in the National two years ago when leading until the home turn (so it is a slightly questionable 3 pts)
If he can be ridden with a bit more restraint (as when winning at Haydock) he could be an outsider who will outrun his odds. He did show he was coming back to form before being brought down at Cheltenham last time.

across the bay
Trainer Donald McCain had had a poor season by his standards but there can’t be any around with a better heritage in this race

TRANQUIL SEA 13yo 10st 5lbs
Warren Greatrex; Gavin Sheehan
Score=3 (3,0,0,0)
Once a classy performer when trained in Ireland he looks to be a downward curve now and has definite stamina limitations. Just likely to be here to give the owners a runner I suspect.

OSCAR TIME 14yo 10st 5lbs
Robert Waley-Cohen; Sam Waley-Cohen
Score=8 (3,3,0,2)
A National veteran having been placed twice in this race and in an Irish National. Showed he wasn’t finished yet when winning the Becher Chase as a 13yo.
You won’t see many 14yos running in this race (2 in last 10 years) and his age should negate his chances of winning.
He does have a rider who has an excellent record in this race however and don’t rule out a top 10 finish

oscar time

BOB FORD 8yo 10st 4lbs
Rebecca Curtis; Paul Townend
Score=9 (3,3,1,2)
You won’t see a race won on much worse ground than the West Wales National at Ffos Las this season. Bob Ford won that farce of a race and so prompted the handicapper to raise him a bundle so he could get into this race.
He won’t find such ground here and on all other form he is now out of his depth on this mark

SUPER DUTY 8yo 10st 4lbs
Ian Williams; Will Kennedy
Score=5 (3,0,2,0)
Looked useful as a novice chaser when trained by Donald McCain but was then sidelined for over a year. Stamina unproven and not enough to suggest he retains the same ability since his return yet.

WYCK HILL 11yo 10st 4lbs
David Bridgwater; Tom Cannon
Score= 8 (3,3,2,0)
Stamina is no issue here – in fact he’s likely to be just too slow on decent ground to keep up with the others! Preparation not ideal with only 2 runs and a fall in his last race. Easily discounted.

GAS LINE BOY 9yo 10st 4lb
Philip Hobbs; James Best
Score=10 (3,3,2,2)
A maximum score here but that’s based on performances off much lower handicap marks than he has here. Owned by the Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club, both Mick and the trainer have said that he’s a horse who needs ‘everything to go his way ‘in a race. Unlikely he’ll get that here.

CHANCE DU ROY 11yo 10st 4lbs
Philip Hobbs; Tom O’Brien
Score=5 (3,0,2,0)
Boasts a great record over these fences in 6 attempts. His performance in the 2013 Topham was lack lustre and he fell another time but the other 4 mark him as horse who thrives here

chanceduroy.
Unfortunately it’s mostly over shorter trips and on his one attempt at this race last year he patently didn’t stay close home. He still managed 5th and could achieve a similar placing again whilst the ground isn’t too soft. An unlikely winner but one to watch out for with top 10 betting

PORTRAIT KING 10yo 10st 3lbs
M Phelan; Davy Condon
Score=10 (3,3,2,2)
Another with a top score that may flatter him. His stamina points come from his Eider Chase win in 2012 and his form recently doesn’t match up to his 140 rating. Appears out of his depth at this level.

OWEGA STAR 8yo 10st 3lbs
Peter Fahey ; Robbie Power
Score=4 (3,-1,0,2)
Little to recommend with this Irish challenger. Too young and not enough chasing experience plus a stamina issue make him a rank outsider.

RIVER CHOICE 12yo 10st 3lbs
R Chotard; David Cottin
Score=4 (3,-1,0,2)
Owner Fergus Wilson has a history of sending no hopers to big races. This 12yo has all of his form in France – largely on heavy ground and over shorter trips. There’s nothing to suggest to me that he is a serious contender

COURT BY SURPRISE 10yo 10st 3lbs
Emma Lavelle; Richie McLernon
Score=6 (3,1,2,0)
We have to assume this one has had a setback as not been seen since early November despite an obvious preference for decent ground. Had a progressive profile until then and although not proven over marathon trips there was enough to suggest they could suit

ALVARADO 10yo 10st 3lbs
Fergal O’Brien; Paul Moloney
Score=8 (3,3,2,0)
The owners and jockey have a magnificent record of placed horses in recent years and Alvarado continued that trend with 4th last year. He was going as well as anything with 6 to jump but then seemed to get outpaced at a crucial stage before his stamina kicked in to secure a place close home.
His preparation with only one run isn’t ideal this time round and getting outpaced again is a worry.
I could see a similar run again this year and a placing isn’t out of the question again – but perhaps lacking the tactical speed to win the race on decent ground

SOLL 10yo 10st 2lbs
David Pipe; Tom Scudamore
Score=8 (3,1,2,2)
Soll was my ante post pick for the race last year when trained by Jo Hughes. That was based on a promising run in this race in 2013 when I considered him too young ( a bad mistake at the Chair not helping his cause before fading close home to finish 7th).
Everything went wrong with his preparation last year and he ended up running in the Topham instead over much too short a trip
This season he’s been moved to David Pipe and has rediscovered his potential (the trainer attributing this to blinkers and a tongue strap being fitted). As a result of his two recent wins he’s another who comes into this race as ‘well in’ – to the tune of 7lbs.
He’s likely to be the biggest horse in the field by some way but that didn’t stop another ‘giant’ Party Politics winning this race. Such big horses normally take longer to reach their peak so he could be close to that now at 10 years old.

Soll
The negative here is a stamina query, Whilst he races like a stayer he hasn’t got home in real marathon tests like the National before – but that was with a different trainer and I wouldn’t put it past team Pipe to bring on some more mettle in that department.

ELY BROWN 10yo 10st 2lbs
Charlie Longsdon; Brian Hughes
Score=6 (3,1,2,0)
For a 10yo he has very little chasing experience and with just one run this season resulting in being pulled up, he has a poor preparation for this race. Hard to give any chance.

ROYALE KNIGHT 9yo 10st 2lbs
Dr Richard Newland; Brendan Powell
Score=10 (3,3,2,2)
A second string to last year’s winning trainer’s bow – and another top score. Royale Knight seems all about stamina but his form is all at a much lower level than this. He’s been kept away from chases since winning easily off a mark of 124 which saw him raised a massive 15lbs to his mark here of 139. The question is whether he’s improving enough to cope with that. Good ground seems to suit

41. BAILEYS CONCERTO 9yo 10st 2lbs (first reserve)
Dianne Sayer;
Score=6 (3,-1,2,2)
The handicapper seems to have this one’s measure now and there is a big stamina question mark.

DUKE OF LUCCA 10yo 10st 2lbs (2nd reserve)
Philip Hobbs
Score=8 (3,1,2,2)
A winner on the Mildmay course at this meeting last year, he hasn’t shown too much sparkle so far this term. Nothing to suggest this sort of trip is what he needs.

43. Raz Da Maree ( achance on very soft ground) and 44. The Package are the last two reserves but it must be highly unlikely that enough runners will now drop out for them to get into the race
A resume of the top scorers:
10 pts

GODSMEJUDGE
AL CO
MONBEG DUDE
ACROSS THE BAY
GAS LINE BOY
PORTRAIT KING
ROYALE KNIGHT
9pts

BALTHAZAR KING
PINEAU DE RE
BOB FORD
I would tend to think that this list as above comprises the likeliest winner and we can trim this down further with the removal of three horses who I think have inflated stats and are out of their depth in this race: Gas Line Boy, Portrait King, Bob Ford
I will also include two horses whose lower scores are because of low stamina points that I believe have the potential to be improved on this year SOLL and ROCKY CREEK

This leaves a final shortlist of
GODSMEJUDGE, AL CO,MONBEG DUDE, ACROSS THE BAY , ROYALE KNIGHT, PINEAU DE RE, BALTHAZAR KING, SOLL, ROCKY CREEK
I’ve already advised Godsmejudge and Monbeg Dude as Ante Post bets* and see no reason to add any more to either of them now.
With bookmakers increasingly opening up their shop window as the big race approaches we should see increased place terms coming to the fore – http://www.betvictor.com are already leading the way with ¼ odds 123456.. others could follow their example yet.There could well be more value to be had on Friday than there is now so I’ll hold fire to add other bets until then when the ground situation should be far clearer

This blog will be updated during the week as further news about the big race emerges. Daily previews for the other races will also appear each evening
For now, thanks for reading and enjoy the week ahead
Paul
(as always comments are most welcome on the site)

*Previous Ante Post recommendations:

January

1pt ew Godsmejudge 28/1 (1/4 1234)

February

0.5 pts ew Godsmejudge 25/1 (1/4 12345)

1pt ew Monbeg Dude 33/1 (1/4 12345)

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in Aintree, Grand National, Horse Racing

 

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Aintree meeting 2014 – day 1

The Grand National is the centrepiece of the 3 day Aintree meeting but there is some fine racing to back it up. Thursday’s card has some top notch entries but it’s a shame a few who looked possible to run have dropped out – many of the races have more of a ‘race to watch only’ feel about them now
Ground is currently good or good to soft depending on which track is being run on but there is a need to watch the weather closely – rain clouds seem to be never too far away this week if forecasts are correct
Many runners will come here after a last run at the Cheltenham Festival – many can solidify their reputation here but others will have peaked there and it can prove costly to expect form to always be upheld.
The Mildmay course, on which most races will be run, is a completely different track to Cheltenham – no undulations to deal with and built more for speed. The National course (used for the Foxhunters on Thursday, Topham on Friday and the Grand National on Saturday) is unlike anything else – some will adapt well and others will hate it.

Onto Thursday’s card:

2.00 4yo hurdle
Prices comparisons here http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/14:00/winner
The Aintree version of the Triumph hurdle but no Triumph winner (Tiger Roll) attending this year. Guitar Pete is a solid performer who came out best of these here then in 3rd but many will consider Callipto to be an unlucky 4th after Daryl Jacob lost his irons as the race was just heating up. Callipto holds Activial on early season form – but that one skipped Cheltenham purposefully for this and could come here fresher.
Fox Norton was an Ante Post pick for me in the Triumph – he didn’t run in it but his form wasn’t particularly advertised by Broughton and Royal Irish Hussar there
At a bigger price I’m hoping to see another big run from Hawk High who won the Fred Winter at Cheltenham. He did the blog a big favour there and won that race well, being close to the pace throughout and quickening nicely up the hill. As long as the ground doesn’t get too soft I think he’s the type to go on improving and is a touch overpriced here
Hawk High

Recommendation
0.5 pts ew Hawk High 14/1 (Stan James and Coral who both offer ¼ 123)

 

2.30 Betfred Bowl
Prices here http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/14:30/winner

I’m one of the original members of the First Lieutenant fan club and he was a successful selection for the blog in this race last year where Menorah and Silviniaco Conti were among his victims. It’s unfortunate he missed this year’s Gold Cup where conditions could have suited him well. Silviniaco Conti finished 4th there but had a hard race and that has to be a concern – when he did win at this meeting as a novice he had missed the festival and came here as a fresh horse.
The danger is Dynaste though, who won the novice race at this meeting last year and comes here after Ryanair Chase success at The Festival
I think First Lieutenant or Dynaste will win but won’t be playing at current odds of 2/1 and 3/1 respectively
NO BET

 

3.05 Aintree Hurdle
Prices: http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/15:05/winner

Would have been a lovely race if Annie Power had come over from Ireland but in her absence this does look a penalty kick for The New One – 2/5 isn’t my sort of price though.new one
Could be plenty of competition for second – Rock on Ruby and Grandouet have the best hurdling form from the past but both have been chasing instead this year and that could level the playing field with the others. I have no great view who will come out top for the runner up berth
NO BET

 

3.40 Foxhunters Chase
http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/15:40/winner

The first race of the meeting over the classic National fences.
Mossey Joe is well ahead of the field in terms of class and rating and as long as the ground stays good or good to soft it could well be a case of ‘if he jumps round he wins’.
If rain does come Warne becomes a bigger threat. A slightly unlucky 4th in this race last year he now has the services of Sam Waley Cohen on board who has such an excellent record over these fences.
It seems slightly strange to see such a race with ¼ odds 1234 being offered at some firms and there could well be a decent angle with this tomorrow if money comes down for the fav and pushes others out
Cool Friend probably hit the front too soon in the race last year and has performed well at Aintree before – this mare appears most of the big prices
For the moment it’s ‘no bet’ but that may change tomorrow

 

 

4.15 Red Rum Hcap Chase
Prices here: http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/16:15/winner

Traditionally novices do well in this race and Grand Annual form from Cheltenham is a big influence. Claret Cloak fits both of those stats and although 4 pounds higher than he was there when a close third, he may have been an unlucky loser after a critical blunder 2 fences out . Good or good to soft suits – as does a strong pace – something he should get with the likes of Arnaud and Sew on Target in the field. The race may favour lower weights in the past but I can’t really warm to those at the bottom of the handicap here. Claret Cloak has always looked a classy individual and I believe this course will suit him better than Cheltenham
claretclaok2</a
I’m not keen on Paul Nicholls’ runner Sound Investment here whose mark has risen to 140 after two easy wins in weak races.

Recommendation:
2pts ew Claret Cloak 9/2 (Totesport, Betfred) *9/2 already gone after a few minutes of posting – would take 4/1 also*

 

4.50 Manifesto Chase
http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/16:50/winner

Only 5 runners but very competitive. I could make a case for them all.
Oscar Whisky has to come back from a first fence fall at Cheltenham which prevents me following him here. Western Warhorse has to prove his Arkle win was no fluke over half a mile further. Really not sure if a step up in trip is right for Dodging Bullets. Good ground seemed to bring about plenty of improvement in Uxizandre last time – and it probably will in Fox Appeal too.
It all adds up to NO BET

 

 

5.25 3ml hcap hurdle
Latest odds: http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing-betting/2014-04-03-aintree/17:25/winner

2 against the field here:
Novice and those lower down the weights have a decent record in this race. Spirit of Shankly fits that criteria and seems the sort who will appreacite a step up in trip and some decent ground.
Any Given Day represents a stable that knows all about getting winners at this meeting. He was a failure at chasing and lost his way a bit over hurdles last season after encountering heavy ground. A recent bumper win showed he is no back number yet and his hurdles mark has dropped considerably to an enticing looking 140. The price just looks too big here to ignore
any given day
Recommendations:
1pt ew Any Given Day @20/1 (coral) – but 16/1 will be equally acceptable elsewhere
1pt ew Spirit of Shankly 14/1 (generally available)

 

As usual comments are most welcome
Good luck with whatever you support and thanks for reading
Paul

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Grand National 2014

G National 13
Another year has gone by and National Hunt racing’s greatest spectacle at Aintree racecourse is upon us once more.
With the forecast looking promising we can expect decent ground and a well run race. Anything can happen at the first few fences where the speed can be too much for some to jump accurately and its not until 7 or 8 obstacles have been completed before race riding can start to develop properly. It’s important not to get too far behind too early – midfield with a circuit to go is usually as far as you would want to be behind the leader

I covered much of the race stats in last years blog and as mentioned before there is a good guide to the date here http://www.grandnationalstats.co.uk/

The current runners can be found here http://www.racingpost.com/horses2/cards/card.sd?race_id=576664&r_date=2014-04-05&antepost=Y#raceTabs=lc_

And for up to date odds check here http://www.oddschecker.com/grand-national/winner

It’s very important to shop around here for the best value. Standard each way terms for a handicap are ¼ odds 1234 but as this is such a big event many firms will offer five places. BetVictor currently offer ¼ odds 123456. ( the one firm to avoid for each way bets would seem to be RaceBets if they continue to offer a ridiculous 1/5 odds 123!)
The more the number of places that are paid the less the win odds can sometimes be to make up for this concession. If you can get high win odds and extra places it really is the best of both worlds so choose carefully!

Be sure to use Non Runner No bet prior to the final declarations also – if the worst does happen and your horse gets pulled out you will not lose your money then.
The night before the race could also throw up better odds as firms try to push their product – but beware at 8pm on Friday night when Racing Post’s pricewise selection is officially released (its often apparent by market moves whet it will be prior to then) – expect any put up there to be trimmed significantly.
Saturday morning may some further price enhancements for horse not touched by the main tipsters

For stats suffice to say, weight is the one I look to most and I have a big leaning towards anything carrying 11 stone or less. Age and experience come next. 9 to 11 is the preferred age and previous course experience or proven form in similar events is highly desirable

And so onto the runners with my thoughts on most of the contenders (bear in mind that these are the current 5 day declarations and some may drop out before Thursdays’s final declaration stage):

1. TIDAL BAY age 13 weight 11st 10lbs ;trainer Paul Nicholls ;jockey Sam Twiston Davies
It will bring the house down if this popular veteran can triumph but despite the handicapper dropping his mark to 161 there are so many stats for him to defy. The last 13 year old to come close to winning was Aintree stalwart Rondetto in 1969. The last horse to carry this kind of weight to victory was Red Rum in 1977. Added to all of this, the more the ground dries out the less it will suit him and he could find himself outpaced. It’s hard enough to come from way back in this race as his style dictates but he would need some juice in the ground to have his best chance. Too much against him for me to fancy him but would still love to see him do well.Tidal bay
2. LONG RUN 9 11st 9lb; Nicky Henderson ; Mr S Waley Cohen
Another at the top of the weights, Long Run was at his peak as a 6yo when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It’s not unusual for French bred chasers to start regressing earlier than others and while retaining plenty of ability he does seem to be going in that direction this season. I think his mark of 160 here is probably about the level he is now so again facing an uphill struggle off such a high weight. On the plus side, his rider has an excellent record in this race – on the downside Long Run has always been prone to miss the odd fence out and he wouldn’t want to do that here
3. HUNT BALL 9 11st 7lb; Nicky Henderson; Andrew Tinkler
If you believe the old adage that two and a half mile chasers are best for the National then you might give him a chance. I don’t believe they are and Hunt Ball only just gets 3 miles on a park course which rules him out for me.
4. TRIOLO D’ALENE 7 11st 6lb; Nicky Henderson; Barry Geraghty
Needs good ground but don’t quite think he has the class to carry this sort of weight here and it’s not ideal to hear he had a breathing problem in his last race. Has winning course form in last years Topham over a shorter trip and also as a 7yo has an awful lot against him on stats – the last one to win was Bogskar in 1940!
5. ROCKY CREEK 8 11st 5lb; Paul Nicholls; Noel Fehily
Has always looked a chaser going places and although he has a high weight there is enough class about him to give him some chance. However at 8 he is probably a year ahead of himself here and with only 7 chase runs under his belt he may be lacking. This wasn’t the plan for him earlier in the year and he seems to be here because he had a hiccup which meant he couldn’t run in the Gold Cup. While he has perfomed well twice this year there is still a suspicion he isn’t quite finishing off his races as well as others. A good jumper I can see him competing and loking dangerous for much of the race and then wilting in the home straight. Not without a chance of top 5/6.
6. QUITO DE LA ROQUE 10 11st 1lbs; Colm Murphy (IRE)

Hasnt shown much this year but has had good performances on Aintree’s regular Mildmay track in the past. A leap of faith required to fancy him here
7. COLBERT STATION 10 11st ; Ted Walsh (IRE)
One of the possible mounts for AP Mc Coy – was well fancied last year but never got involved before unseating his rider. 2lb higher mark here considering he hasn’t done much since is hardly appealing
8. WALKON 9 11st; Alan King; Wayne Hutchinson
Second to Triolo d’Alene in the Topham last year he isn’t attractively handicapped on a 5lb higher mark here. His one attempt at a National –the Scottish version ended in him being pulled up and I find little to recommend his chance here
9. BALTHAZAR KING 10 10st 13lb; Philip Hobbs; Richard Johnson
Terrific performer in Cross Country event s at Cheltenham. The fences may be similar there and he was fancied on back of that in last year’s race. The pace of this race is so different though and Balthazar was burnt out before the race began in earnest. Similar likely again – though if the ground is better than last year’s good to soft he could stick around a bit longer. A safe jumper who would be expected to complete at least
10. WAYWARD PRINCE 10 10st 13lbs; Hilary Parrott; Jack Doyle
A course winner twice on the Mildmay track, Wayward Price seems to save his best for his reappearance runs nowadays. Likely to find the pace of the race I problem I feel
11. MR MOONSHINE 10 10st 12lbs; Sue Smith; Ryan Mania
Same connections as last years winner, Auroras Encore here.Mr Moonshine comes here under a carrer highest mark. He ran well over the course to be third in December but has gone up 16lbs since. The handicapper would appear to have his measure.
12. TEAFORTHREE 10 10st 12lbs; Rebecca Curtis; Nick Schofield
Already discussed and selected as an Ante Post bet in my previous blog posting (10/1 now all gone at time of writing this) there are many positives here. His front running style may make him susceptible to a strong finisher but he could have ground most into submission by then. Running at Cheltenham Festival prior tho thsi can be a negative but I very much saw his run there as a warm up – whereas for many it is the main event and this is an afterthought. Bar a mishap I struggle to see him out of the top 4teafor3
13. ACROSS THE BAY 10 10st 11lb; Donald McCain; Henry Brooke
Has completed the course twice so must be fancied to do so again. But he likes to be up front and paid for that last year when weakening badly in the home straight to finish 14th. Would appear to need a shorter trip
14. DOUBLE SEVEN 8 10st 11lb, Martin Brassil (IRE)
The other possible mount for McCoy, his chance would appear to rest on the ground being no softer than good. If McCoy picks him the price will shorten but is handicapped high enough on what he has achieved and as an 8yo stats don’t favour his chances
15. BATTLE GROUP 9 10st 10lb; Johnny Farrelly; Brendan Powell
‘Enigmatic’ would be a polite way to describe this fella who hit a purple patch of form at this meeting 12 months ago winning twice. His record on last three runs sees two pulled ups and a refusal to highlight the risk involved in backing him. His mark is plenty high enough but if the fences are to his liking it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see him competing – the ability is there – but strongest likelihood remains he will down tools early!
16. BUCKERS BRIDGE 8 10st 10lbs; Henry de Bromhead(IRE)
No winning form over more than 2.5 miles counts him out for me immediately
17. LION NA BEARNAI 12 10st 10lbs; Tomas Gibney (IRE); Davy Russell
A previous Irish Grand National winner – that has been a good pointer for this race before but not when they come here aged 12. Would need some cut in the ground and if it did come up soft he would be expected to stay on. Others fancied more
18. PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE 11 10st 10lbs,;Willie Mullins (IRE)
Has been Ante Post fav for this race in years past but never made it to this stage until now.I’m sure if Ruby walsh were riding some would have latched on to his chances but I’ve had the feeling before he may just not quite get this trip. Form this year also indicates a regression
19. MONBEG DUDE 9 10st 9lbs; Michael Scudamore; Paul Carberry
The Dude likes to be hald up and come late to win his races. Very tough to employ those tactics here but it can be done (Rhyme n Reason was famously last at Bechers first time in 1988 before triumphing). Paul Carberry was at his finest when using these tactics to perfection in the 2013 Welsh National. It should be noted however that his half length victim there – Teaforthree – is 13lbs better off. No course experience for the Dude but he has Zara Phillips 3 day eventing expertise in his team to prepare him for these kind of fences
20. BIG SHU 9 10st 8lbs; Peter Maher (IRE); Peter Buchanan
All of his form comes in cross country events and hunter chases. This marks him down as a good jumper but the pace of this race will be something new to him and expect him to be out of his comfort zone here
21. BURTON PORT 10 10st 8lbs; Jonjo O’Neill; Brian Harding
Hard to imagine that Burton Port is 10 – he seems to have been round a while and was competing at the top table of chasing for a couple of seasons.He would have been about top weight if he ran in this last year and has now slipped down the handicap after some poor efforts this year. His last run gave some hope that he may have found some ability again and if Jonjo O’Neill has managed to prime him back to form for the big occasion (wouldn’t be a shock!) then he is a dark horse in the race.
22. OUR FATHER 8 10st 8lbs; David Pipe
Always looked to have plenty of talent but it’s a while since we’ve seen it. Hard to fancy
23. MOUNTAINOUS 9 10st 7lbs;Richard Lee; Jamie Moore
This years Welsh National winner is a fine jumper who revels in soft ground. On anything quicker than soft he may find things happening a bit too quickly. Needs lots of rain to boost his chances
24. THE RAINBOW HUNTER 10 10st 7lbs; Kim Bailey; Aidan Coleman
Unseated rider here last year at a point that was too early to tell if he would have been involved. His caerer best win at Doncaster last time now sees him on highest ever mark of 144 and that should be his downfall – you need to come to this race having something in hand of the handicapper
25. VINTAGE STAR 8 10st 7lbs; Sue Smith; Brian Hughes
At 8, the stats are against him but this one has the look of a National horse to me – it may just be a year too early. His sire normally produces good ground performers so there is a chance that his soft ground form this year can be improved upon. Without his fall last time at Cheltenham, I would feel a bit stronger but we can be sure he has been schooled plenty on Malton’s Aintree style fences since. There are worse 40/1 shots for sure as he has had more chase experience than most 8yos in this contestvintage star
26. CHANCE DU ROY 10 10st 6lbs; Philip Hobbs; Tom O’Brien
Winner of the Becher Chase on this course before Christmas he has two ways of running at this track. In the Topham last year he was in trouble from the start. Satmina for this trip has to be an issue for me
27. HAWKES POINT 9 10st 6lbs; Paul Nicholls; Ryan Mahon
Close second in the Welsh National, he’s another who need the ground to be soft or else it may all be a bit too quick for him. Only 7 chase starts is a bit of a negative but he is 9 years old so should be strong enough for this test now. Place chances if the rain comes
28. KRUZHLININ 7 10st 6lbs; Donald McCain
Too young at 7? Has another entry on Saturday and think it’s likely that Donald MCcain would prefer him to run in that at this stage of his career
29. PINEAU DE RE 11 10st 6lbs; Dr Richard Newland; Leighton Aspell
There has been some interest in this one in Ante Post markets recently after a fine run over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival. Ran over the course in December but fell at an early stage – generally a sound jumper. Good jockey booking but races here off a career highest mark of 143 – can he really be improving at the age of 11?? Can see why he’s been backed but seems short enough now around 20/1. A suspicion that he might need more time between his races also?
30. GOLAN WAY 10 10st 5lbs; Tim Vaughan; Michael Byrne
Likes to dominate and will struggle to have things all his own way here. Readily discounted
31. TWIRLING MAGNET 8 10st 5lbs; Jonjo O’Neill
Beaten last time at Cheltenham when unseating rider. No form at this kind of mark that would prompt me to give him a chance
32. VESPER BELL 8 10st 5lbs; Willie Mullins(IRE)
One run over this course saw him get no farther than fence 1.Probably too young and not enough chase experience yet
33. THE PACKAGE 11 10st 4lb; David Pipe; Tom Scudamore
Another ‘dark’ one, The Package has always had ability but is a bit fragile having only been seen once in the last year. The ‘bounce factor’ from that Cheltenham run could be a concern . Ran in this race as a fancied 14/1 shot in 2010 (too young then?) but didn’t seem to enjoy the fences before unseating rider at the 19th
34. RAZ DE MAREE 9 10st 3lb; Dessie Hughes (IRE); Davy Condon
No encouragement in runs this year to think he is well weighted off a mark of 140
35. ROSE OF THE MOON 9 10st 3lbs; David O’Meara
Been following this one since he chased home Bobs Worth over hurdles at Cheltenham in 2011. Has looked a bit lacking in pace at a higher level since then. Didnt get competitive in the Becher Chase in December when on a mark of 135 and comes here 5 pounds worse off. Think he’ll struggle to keep up early
36. SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM 10 10st 3lbs; Nicky Henderson; David Bass
Well fancied for the race in 2012 but didn’t get home then after being prominent most of the way. 9 lbs lower mark here but he’s done nothing so far this season to show he retains the same ability
37. ALVARADO 9 10st 2lb; Fergal O’Brien; Paddy Brennan
The owners have been placed regularly in this race in recent years courtesy of Cappa Blue and State of Play. Alvarado doesn’t have quite the class of those two and seems to have two ways of running. 139 is a plenty high enough mark
38. LAST TIME D’ALBAIN 10 10st 2lb; Liam Cusack(IRE)
Placed in the Topham last year but with no winning form over more than 2.5 miles I think he should be sticking to that shorter race again

39. LOST GLORY 9 10st 2lb; Jonjo O’Neill
Pulled up after being tailed off in last two outings is not the preparation you would like to see for this! Only reason for support would be if you like the name

40. ONE IN A MILAN 9 10st 2lbs; Evan Williams
A career best when 4th in the Welsh National doesn’t put him in here as a total no hoper. Would need some heavy rain to replicate the deep ground conditions though
With only the top 40 guaranteed a place those below have to wait until Thursday’s final entry stage and hope that some above are taken out of the race to get in. For now comments on the next half dozen who stand best chance of getting in

41. GOONYELLA 7 10st 1lb; Jim Dreaper(IRE)
Being another 7 year old is a bit of a put off. Has plenty of chasing experience for his age though and on breeding it’s entirely possible that better ground may suit him here. Looks a thorough stayer
42. SWING BILL 13 10st 1lb; David Pipe
The second 13 yo in the race, Swing Bill has popped over these fences 6 times now, finishing 6th in the race last year. He’s a very unlikely winner but would be one to look at for markets to finish the race /finish in top 10 etc.
43. SOLL 9 10st; Jo Hughes; Mark Grant
My early fancy for the race – mentioned in January blog – I have backed him at 50/1 but fear his heavy ground runs since Christmas have scuppered his chances a bit here. 7th last year when it was a year too soon for me. If he does get in and manages to recapture his form I think he has a serious chance – but that’s a very big if!
44. MINELLA FOR VALUE 8 10st John Butler
Hard to make out a case here – mark is too high
45. NIGHT IN MILAN 8 10st Keith Reveley
An interesting runner right at the bottom if he manages to get in the race. Needs good ground and may well get that now. Downside is he may want to dominate from the front and there’ll be competition for that role. Nevertheless, a decent outsider despite 8 not being an ideal age
46. SAINT ARE 8 10st Tim Vaughan
9th in the race last year as a 7yo. Previously had won twice at this meeting on the Mildmay course. Form this year not encouraging though it has to be said he has never run well at Cheltenham where he pulled up last time.Looking unlikely he will get in but if he does I might have a small tickle if someone puts up a 3 figure price.

We have to assume the remaining 19 runners entered will be struggling to get into the race now

CONCLUSIONS

Ground will be a factor here for sure so thoughts may change as we get to race day. Soft ground looking unlikely right now but if the rain does fall there are a few resolute stayers whose chances will improve.
Employing my favourite stats I’m looking for something weighted no higher than 11st that is aged 9, 10 or 11. Previous course experience and proven stamina (either in this race or in similar well run races like the Scottish, Welsh or Irish nationals) are preferential

This gives my optimum shortlist of
TEAFORTHREE (Grand national + Welsh national form)
MONBEG DUDE (Welsh National form)
MOUNTAINOUS (Welsh national form)
HAWKES POINT (Welsh National form)

The last two named would appear to need the ground to be soft and as that doesn’t look likely right now I’ll be leaving them until more rain materializes.
Teaforthree is weighted to beat Monbeg Dude on their Welsh National run and his running style should be better suited to this race as he can maintain a handy position throughout
I have already put him up at 10/1 on a previous blog posting but 9/1 may still be available Welsh national dude

He doesn’t quite fit the stats with his age but if the ground does continue to look like being Good or Good to Soft I can see Vintage Star performing well at big odds so a small play at 40/1 ew wouldn’t go amiss – he ran well in the Welsh National despite the ground probably being against him

Already recommended

1pt ew SOLL 50/1
2.5 pts ew TEAFORTHREE 10/1 (taking ¼ odds 12345 NRNB)

Additional selection
0.75 pts ew VINTAGE STAR 40/1 (BetVictor ¼ odds 123456!)

Thanks for reading

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

Comments as always are most welcome

Paul

(It’s always good to read some different views so here’s a couple of respected blog sites to give some alternative opinions http://grandnational2014.blogspot.co.uk/ http://softinplacesracing.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/grand-national-2014/ )

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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