Scottish Grand National

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Photo: John Grossick

The first blog for a few weeks and possibly the last one focused on jumps as the flat season starts to get underway. Overall, and despite being in a bit of deficit, it has been a decent NH season for my blog with some decent winners put up on here. Hopefully I can keep the trend going on the flat. I do think I’ve got the field for the Scottish National down to two. Have a read below and good luck.

3:55 Ayr The Scottish Grand National

A race that I’ve had a good few winners of, notably VICENTE last year and MERIGO’s second win. Without doubt it’s a cracking race and the ground should be on the good side by the off. You need a smooth travelling horse in this race and a horse that has proven stamina. Generally, those horse with higher weights on their back don’t do as well, although VICENTE bucked the trend last year. I still think a lot of the smarter horses are up there and will a good race. ARPEGE D’ALENE is Nicholls best chance and he runs as if he could stay 5 miles. If he is on song and crucially jumps well he has a cracking chance. Last year’s winner just hasn’t looked the same horse this year and I have to look over him. However, Trevor Hemming’s second string VINTAGE CLOUDS has a great chance for me. He has run consistently all year and most definitely stays. He went into my notebook when third to VIEUX LION ROUGE at Haydock and it was the way he stayed on that suggested he would benefit from a marathon trip. He was again looking to stay on at the festival when he fell. The ground and the track should suit. My main bet though is on DANCING SHADOW. He won the Edinburgh National at ease at Kelso in February on good ground. He was never travelling at Cheltenham and it makes me wonder if they ran him like that to limit his mark for this. He was so smooth at Kelso, his jumping tidy and he travelled like a dream. That style will suit him in today’s race and if he is in the top 6 or 7 coming round the bend I would fancy him to stay on up to the line. He has a good jockey booking with Nick Scholfield. The last time Victor Dartnall sent him this far north he won. He has another cracking chance.

2:45 Ayr Scottish Champion Hurdle

You most definitely need a bit of class to win this despite it being a limited handicap. Some of the horses running in this are handicap class whereas others are certainly graded horses. Of the handicappers TOMMY SILVER will love the ground, I put him up at Cheltenham but he wasn’t good enough, yet he won well last week and carries penalty. CHESTERFIELD finally came good last time too and is worth considering. On to the graded types and the likely winners; WINTER ESCAPE was my selection at the festival and he ran a great race from his lay off. That will have set him up nicely and he could quite easily take this. I’m not convinced by his price though, there has to be more value. SCEAU ROYAL is another smart horse and has two wins on good ground under his belt this year. The last twice he has come up against some top competition in YANWORTH and BEVEUR D’AIR, running creditably. This is easier and he also has an apprentice taking a massive 10lbs off his back which potentially put his graded class down to a weight of the handicappers. I can’t sniff at that or at the price when writing. He is a class horse and could run a big race.

3:40 Newbury Spring Cup Handicap

PACIFY was a horse I followed on a couple of occasions last year. He has been running at a mile and a quarter but has also won over this trip. He really caught my eye when doing some of his best work in the closing stages at York last May when beaten by NAYEL. He went up 3lbs for that and something had to be amiss in the Wolfreton Handicap when he was last out. He never ran a race and was tailed off and hasn’t been since. I think he is a class above this and could turn into a Listed performer this year. He is a huge price based on last year’s exploits and it could be worth following him regardless of today. What a price he is though. I can see him going from the front and using that extra bit of stamina he has.

4:05 Racing UK in HD Handicap Thirsk

SCUZEME went straight into my notebook when running on last time out at Nottingham over 5f. He returns pretty quickly off the same mark today in a better grade. He looks a decent sort and the way he ran on when he got going suggests he has the speed for this. He just couldn’t get out in time to peg back the winner. Hopefully today he can get out and go on and stamp his authority on this.

Selections:

£2.50 ew DANCING SHADOW 3:55 Ayr 40-1 William Hill

£2.50 ew VINTAGE CLOUDS 3:55 Ayr 16-1 William Hill

£5 win SCEAU ROYAL 2:45 Ayr 9-1 Paddy Power

£5 win PACIFY 3:40 Newbury 28-1 SportingBet

£5 win SCUZEME 4:05 Thirsk 3-1 William Hill

Staked £360

Returns £332.50

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Aintree – Day 2

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Not a brilliant first day on the betting front with non of my selections getting near, the only bonus was the positive I put up for BIG FELLA THANKS, what a cracker he ran. The two top hurdlers of the season proved again how awesome they are; I couldn’t have had TEA FOR TWO with anyone’s money but fair play to a smart horse. Ive had a quick study of the big one and Ive got a few on the shortlist so far. These are :

MORE OF THAT

PERFECT CANDIDATE

ONE FOR ARTHUR

First let’s get Friday out of the way. Here are my selections.

Alder Hey Hurdle 1:40

What a competitive hurdle to get things going. NORTH HILL HARVEY is a worthy top weight and he was smart when winning the Greatwood earlier in the season, you have to forgive him his latest run at the festival, but he has a lot of weight. HAWK HIGH catches the eye as he has a very good record here. He also won the Fred Winter a few years ago. He is 8lbs higher today but has won on 2 out of 3 appearances here and is worth a look. I’m opting for DASHING OSCAR though, I fancied him at Uttoxeter the other week but he was withdrawn. He is a strong traveller and has a couple of good wins under his belt and I’m hoping for a big run.

Crabbie’s Top Novices Hurdle 2:20

MOON RACER is interesting; I thought they were crazy to go for the champion hurdle and that proved to be correct, he could run a big race here. MOUNT MEWS and HIGH SECRET are both improving and have done nothing wrong to date but I’m going for my festival selection RIVER WYLDE to run another good race. He ran well in the Supreme and I think the hustle and bustle of the race will have brought him on more.

JLT Melling Chase 3:25

GODS OWN won this last year and will run another strong race and will be pressed by FOX NORTON who will no doubt bounce off in front. He has got better and better and finished the Queen Mother so well. Im opting for another Henderson runner (my theme today!!!) though. JOSSES HILL has always had a touch of class and as yet he hasn’t quite come to the fore. He’s been dropped a few pounds and will appreciate the ground and he has won and come fourth here before; I just have a feeling!

The Topham 4:05

The warm up for tomorrow and a cracking little race on its own. EASTLAKE won it last year and if he turns up could run well again and the top weight GO CONQUER ran a cracker last time. Nicky Henderson has a cracking recent record in this and GOLD PRESENT ran very well in defeat at the festival. Keep your eye on ULTRAGOLD at a huge price as he could run a big race. I’m opting for a bit of Bond though!! I have had O O SEVEN in my notebook for a while and I’m convinced he has the winning of one of these big handicaps. He ran well at the festival behind MITE BITE over further than this; the drop back in trip is in his favour and he is a sound jumper and nice mover. If he can avoid any trouble he has a great chance. I’ve backed THOMAS BROWN a few times this year but I cant put anymore money on him after two poor shows; watch him win!!!

Selections

£5 win O O SEVEN 4:05 Aintree 20-1 Coral

£10 win RIVER WYLDE 2:20 Aintree 9-4 William Hill

£2.50 ew DASHING OSCAR 1:40 Aintree 18-1 Ladbrokes

Blog standings

Staked £360

Returns £332.50

Aintree day one – A dedication to James Graham

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Ive had a few weeks off the blog from Cheltenham. It takes a fair bit of study to write these blogs and after the hectic week of the festival I just needed some time to recharge my batteries. The flat season will be in swing soon and I will keep blogging throughout that too, hopefully bringing you winners in both formats of this awesome sport. I am dedicating this blog to my good friend James Graham, he regularly reads this and I saw him at the weekend to ask him if he had won by following my advice for the festival. He did with Willougby Court but denied to be greedy and put it in a win treble when the others didn’t win. He also didn’t see my tweet about Friday’s selections and missed Pacha Du Polder and Penhill. So, James, this one is for you today – I hope there’s a winner for you!! 🙂

Manifesto Novices Chase 1:45

This is a cracking little race to kick the festival off. FRODON comes into this bang in form and he has looked very good the last twice. He is clearly suited by good ground and he will make sure it is a decent pace. TOP NOTCH looked to be unlucky at the festival, he made a mistake two out which looked like it cost him the race as he was staying on well at the end. If he reproduces that tomorrow he will be hard to beat. CLOUDY DREAM ran a cracker in the Arkle but that looked to be well above what he has produced previously and he was fortunate as CHARBEL fell and the rest of the competition weren’t much good in my opinion. I’m going for a cheeky each way on MAX WARD. I was very impressed with the way he went away from the field over this trip last time at Kempton. It wasn’t a hard race and the market leaders have had some tussles of late and he will love the ground and despite this being a step up he looks very progressive. We will certainly find out, but 20-1 with Paddy Power is a huge price!

Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle 2:20

DEFI DE SEUIL was very smart at the festival and has been all year, he will take some pegging back in this and looks the best Juve nile we’ve seen this year. I like the look of the Queen’s horse at a bigger price though. He has swerved the festival for this, will love the ground and looked smart when winning at Musselburgh last time. DIVIN BERE ran a beauty at the festival and Im fascinated to see how he gets on against the favourite.

Betway Bowl Chase 2:50

CUE CARD is the favourite for this but I have to take him on. He fell again in the Gold Cup and that will have taken its toll, the ground will also be too quick for him in my opinion and he is a definite lay. EMPIRE OF DIRT was lots of people’s banker for the festival but UN DE SCEAUX jumped them to death, he will not have to take anything like that on in this and will appreciate the better ground and I think he will get compensation here.

Betway Aintree Hurdle 3:25

Buveur D’Air was my first winner at the festival and I cant see anything beating him tomorrow, no bet, just watch and admire.

Foxhunters Chase 4:05

PACHA DU POLDER came good for me at the festival and helped me to a very profitable return with PENHILL. He ran a great race and should be thereabouts again under the same rider. This track should suit him more and with a steady run race over a shorter distance it should play even more to his strengths, I do expect them to ride him much more handy. BIG FELLA THANKS catches the eye in opposition at a cracking price.

Betway Red Run Handicap Chase 4:40

RAVEN’S TOWER has to have a cracking chance in this off a light weight. He is 1-1 here and won off a mark just one pend lower than today (OR138) when beating KEEL HAUL and PARSNIP PETE. The latter is only 2lbs better off but needs to make up 9 lengths, not going to happen. My selection has other smart form, he was beaten in a good race taken by POKER SCHOOL off a 5lb higher mark  after coming third to ULTRAGOLD. He made a bad mistake early on last time that took him out of the race. He has had time to recover and I think will run a big race.

Selections

£5win RAVEN’S TOWER 4:40 Aintree 12-1 William Hill

£5win EMPIRE OF DIRT 2:50 Aintree 5-2 William Hill

£5ew MAX WARD 1:45 Aintree 20-1 Paddy Power

Blog Results

Staked £340

Returns £332.50

Midlands National

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Well what a week that was at the festival. Some cracking race and another feast of excitement and memories. There really is only Royal Ascot that compares to it for me – I just hate having to wait another 365 days to go again!! It was a profitable week too for me. Below is a run down of my selections and their finishes:

Winners

Buveur D’Air 5-1

Willoughby Court 14-1

Un De Sceaux 11-4

Pencil 16-1

Pacha Du Polder 16-1

Places

River Wylde 8-1

Two Taffs 10-1

Debuchet 10-1

Divin Bere 5-1

Native River 7-2

All in all a very good week and I’m chuffed that I found the big priced winners I did. So back to normality and the puzzle of the Midlands National today.

The first race I’m looking at today is the 3m Betfred Novices Chase at Uttoxeter. AMERICAN was due to run at the festival but was scratched due to the better ground. He has two smooth successes this year and looked very good at Warwick last time when beating Champers on Ice and he should be thereabouts on his preferred ground. ROCK THE KASBAH has always been a horse I’ve followed and despite only two wins this year he has got some solid form in the bag. He beat OUR KAEMPFER earlier in the year and has ran well behind the likes of POLITOLOGUE and O O SEVEN. Last time was a confidence booster over shorter and I think he will run a big race today.

DASHING OSCAR is a smart moving horse and looks the type to really take to handicaps. He has been running well all season and had two good wins earlier in the year. His run at Bangor was a bit flat and that does concern me, however a big field in a handicap should bring out the challenge needed and I’m opting for him to win on his handicap bow today.

On to the big race of the day, the Midlands National. MYSTEREE has done nothing wrong all year and produced an awesome staying display to win the Eider from my selection, Knockanrawley. That was on the back of another super display at Haydock earlier in the year. My concern is the time he has had to recover from Newcastle, will have had enough, will he be fresh enough – I’m not sure. SPOOKYDOOKY is very well handicapped on his run in this last year. He is 10lbs lower in the official ratings and carries 10lbs less weight too. I’m not sure he has the class to win this though. This race has thrown up Gold cup winners and National winners so you need a smart horse. GOULANES has always had class but he just hasn’t produced and fell last time after a long lay off – I’m not sure he’s the same horse. GEVREY CHAMBERTIN most definitely has the ability, but he is chalk and cheese. He either turns up and is very smart or throws his toys out the pram and seriously underperforms. He was travelling very well last time in the Eider before unseating five out and he caught my eye as possibly starting to run back to his best. He has previously won off a mark off OR140 and OR143, so his mark of OR139 is around his optimum. Her is also 6 lads better off with MYSTEREE from the Eider. If this is a going day he has a cracking chance.

SELECTIONS

£5 e/w GEVREY CHAMBERTIN 3:35 Uttoxeter 12-1 Bet365 (UP)

£5 win ROCK THE KASBAH 2:25 Uttoxeter 15/2 Bet365 (2nd)

£5 win DASHING OSCAR 3:00 Uttoxeter 15/2 Coral (NR)

Standings

Staked £275

Returns £283.75

 

 

 

 

Cheltenham Day Three

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A cracking day for the blog on day two with WILLOUGHBY COURT going in at 14-1. Hope you were on it too. He was so brave and deserved his success. The Mullins bubble seems have burst and his horses don’t look to be moving at all – what happened to Douvan. My National tip SAUSALITO SUNRISE went for a day out plain and simple; Ive watched it back and he has a steady race and Dickie never touches him. Bring on the big race. Two more horse were placed DIVIN BERE and DEBUCHET, so overall I was pleased.

On to day three and hopefully a few more good runs and successes.

JLT Novices Chase

This is cracking little race to get us going on day three and there are some good horses going at each other here. TOP NOTCH is the first of these, he has got better as the season has progressed culminating in a very good run in Scilly Isles. He has to have a good chance. YORKHILl has always been ‘potentially’ a smart horse but he really hasn’t beaten much in my opinion this year and reread my previous thoughts about the yard and 5/4 is stupid price. He may ,take a mug of me though. DISKO will have his followers and rightly so, he is another that has got progressively better. I’m opting for POLITOLOGUE though. The Nicholls yard is also a bit hit and miss but this one has always been held in high regard. He again, like the others has got better and better and he just looks a natural chaser and is so smooth and that could be the determining factor here. Get your money on!!!

SELECTION : POLITOLOGUE 13-2 Paddy Power

Pertemps Network Final

Oh this race brings back my fond HOLYWELL memories and hopefully I’ll have another big priced winner. So, straight to it, for me GAYEBURY wins this. He’s top weight and top weight for a reason, he’s potentially very good and top weights do well in this. He was put in his place by WILLOUGHBY COURT at Warwick and that’s where they both went into my notebook. One did the business yesterday and that has seriously franked the form. GAYEBURY went on form his defeat and won the series qualifier at Chepstow very well beating JURY DUTY. He has been raised a massive 15lbs for that showing how good a performance it was and interestingly that is the same mark WILLOUGHBY COURT won off yesterday. He has yet to run on good ground but his sire Overbury was a winner and runner on good and faster ground and it may bring our further improvement in him. TOBEFAIR cannot be discounted as he is so strong and such a battler and JURY DUTY has a 13lb pull on GAYEBURY today and that has to be taken into consideration too but I don’t think he’ll like the ground. A cracking race where MR MIX and  FOR GOOD MEASURE also have strong chances. If you can solve this, you’re a good one – I hope I have!!

SELECTION : GAYEBURY 22-1 Paddy Power

FOR GOOD MEASURE 17-2 Bet365

Ryanair Chase

This is a good race and contains horses who are top class but don’t have enough petrol in the reserves to go in the Gold cup. So for me, it’s always a great spectacle. UN DE SCEAUX has performed very well again this year and he has jumped so much better and he has to have a massive chance. The concern as well as the stable is the ground though, will it be soft enough? He is for me the class horse in the race though! JOSES HILL won the Peterborough and should give everyone a good run for their money but for me he lacks the class for this. EMPIRE OF DIRT could give the owner a winner in his own race. He won well at the festival last year and won the Troytown with ease. He has class and stays, shortlist! What a story it would be for UXIZANDRE rot win after coming back so well after injury and he jumped straight back into everyone’s lists after his comeback run behind UDS last time. A cracking race – sit back and enjoy.

SELECTION : UN DE SCEAUX 11-4 William Hill

Stayers Hurdle

I love this race as it reminds me of INGLIS DREVER, one of my all time favs. Think about the winners of this race recently, the DREVER, BIG BUCKS, THISTLECRACK and I think we will see the next staying star born. UKNOWWHATIMEANHARRY is head and shoulders above these and he won the Cleeve at a canter and I can’t see him getting beat here. I think her’ll go off even money or shorter tomorrow. Get the 6-4 quick!!

SELECTION : UKNOWWHATIMEANHARRY 6-4 BOYLESPORTS

Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate

Another of my favourite competitive handicaps to try and find the winner of!! This is a race where a big priced horse usually wins and if you can find the winner you’ve done a bloody good job; but I like a challenge, so here goes!DIAMOND KING is a worthy favourite but Im not sure he’ll win. He has good form and we saw what he can do last year and little old VILLAGE VIC lets him have a lighter weight to carry. BOUVREIL goes on the shortlist after a great couple of runs. THOMAS CRAPPER creeps in after his success last week and has some solid form. VILLAGE VIC has had another awesome season and he thrives in races like this. He is such a tough cookie and he may appreciate the better ground, if they give him a soft lead then they could be in a lot of trouble. KATACHENKO looked better for stepping up last time in trip and was given a confidence booster and he is on a nice mark and should like the ground. I have to have an each way wager on him at that price.

SELECTIONS : VILLAGE VIC 16-1 Paddy Power

KATACHENKO each way 40-1 Paddy Power

Trull House Stud Mares Hurdle

Not a race I’m spent a lot off time or that I’m a big fan of. The Mullins yard seem to have a good one it LETS DANCE to carry on from last year. Yet AIRLIE BEACH is potentially very good too and could surprise the yard and others and keep her unbeaten run up. To take the Mullins team on then you have to opt for LA BAGUE AU ROI who has some good form ion the bag and has been considered a strong contender for this for a while; the ground will help her chances considerably. She beat DUSKY LEGEND well last time and she has to have the best chance for me here.

SELECTION : LA BAGUE AU ROI 10-1 Paddy Power

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase

This is a tough one to crack and it’s more difficult with the amateurs on them, but you need an experienced amateur that is for sure. The Pipe’s are masters at this and anything of theres needs noting. PREMIER BOND has Sam on board and and has performed nicely in some Novice chases this year. DOCTOR HARPER is off the same mark as running in this last year and has a big race like this in him, his jumping just doesn’t seem to be slick enough for me. SQUOQaaaawhatever you say has been lined up for this and has last year’s winnig jockey on board. Im opting for an old favourite of mine who will absolutely love the ground. If he can get into sa good rhythm of jumping he could be thereabouts at the end. That is LAMB OR COD. Put a line through his last run on soft ground and he has the ability to take this last race.

SELECTION : LAMB OR COD 33-1 Bet365

Selections:

£5 win POLITOLOGUE 1:30 13-2 Paddy Power

£5 each way GAYEBURY 2:10 22-1 Paddy Power

£5 each way VILLAGE VIC 16-1 Paddy Power

Cheltenham Day Two

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What a cracking first day of the festival that was. Some fantastic finishes, an upset or two but generally a brilliant start. Not a bad day on the betting front as BUVEIR D’AIR won for the blog, RIVER WYLDE was placed, as was TWO TAFFS. I think we may not see HOLYWELL again, he folded tamely and he has been like that all year. I was disappointed with LIFEBOAT MONA’S run and I think soft ground may well be the key to her. How impressive was BUVEUR D’AIR though, a superb performance. On to day two and hopefully a few more pointers and a winner or two.

Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle

NEON WOLF is the deserving favourite for this and he has looked very impressive on every run this year. His last appearance in the Rossington Main Supreme trial was on soft ground and he destroyed the field. As we saw today the times were quite slow and there still appears to be some give in the ground. He will be many people’s festival banker and should run a very good race. He looks a superstar in the making and tomorrow may set him up for that bright future. The concern is that there is very little value in his price.  MESSIRE DES OBEAUX beat BALLYANDY in December on good to soft ground and gave him 7lbs. BALLYANDY then franked the form in the Betfair hurdle beating MOVEWITHTHETIMES and CLYNE in a decent race. BALLYANDY had a hell of a rough race in the Supreme and I think would have finished in the top three but for his passage. WILLOUGBY COURT is another that interests me; he went straight into my notebook when he beat GAYEBURY at Warwick by a distance. He also had the smart PEREGRINE RUN behind him. That one had won here in a Grade 2 beating both WHOLESTONE and WEST APPROACH. He is a very exciting prospect and so long as the ground doesn’t dry too much he could run a big race at a very nice price.

SELECTION : WILLOUGBY COURT 14-1 Ladrokes

RSA Novices Chase

This has to be one of the most difficult races to pick a winner. Any one of these novice chasers could show the necessary improvement to win this, so my advice is don’t go too big. MIGHT BITE has won a couple of decent races and should have won a third but his price is way too short for a race of this nature and with so many potential improvers; plus as we have seen, he’s not the best jumper!! WHISPER has shown his connections the class he has always had more recently and we have had a flash back to his hurdling days when he was one of the top staying hurdlers. I’m not sure if he still likes this jumping game but he comes here in form. OUR KAEMPFER is an interesting runner at a decent price. He put a decent field to bed in a matter of strides last time and he has been a big 10lbs for that success. He has always been highly rated by his stable and ran well here last year over hurdles in the Pertemps, he could improve again. The one I can’t get away from is O O SEVEN. He looked very smart when winning here in November on good ground beating a good field including SIZING TENNESSEE. He couldn’t follow that up at Doncaster over three miles but that flatter track didn’t suit him in my opinion. It’s interesting that they are persevering with a three mile trip despite him having won two races over 2m4f. I have always thought he is a smart horse and I have to have a go at him in this off a mark of OR152.

SELECTION : O O SEVEN 16-1 CORAL

Coral Cup

This is another very tricky race and again keep your bets small. Anything could win this!!! TOMBSTONE is the worthy favourite and looks very nicely treated based on his defeat of JEZKI in a grade 3. His trainer had a cracking opening day and he could be potentially very smart. PEREGRINE RUN, as mentioned above is a smart horse and he has some solid form going into this and he also looks well treated on what he has achieved so far, he is 8-1 as I write this, but I can’t see him being that at the off tomorrow. I have followed OLD GUARD all year and my heart is ruling my head, but I have to give him another chance. He ran so well in the Cleeve last time on ground that he didn’t appreciate and prior to that had ran well behind MODUS in the Lanzarote. Good ground is key to him and he should get that here today and it will make all the difference. He really is a horses for courses horse and has won three times here; the last one of those off a mark of OR157 and full 7lbs less. He is my each way selection of the day.

SELECTION : OLD GUARD 25-1 Bet365

Queen Mother Champion Chase

One word DOUVAN….enough said!!!

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

I’m not normally too fussed about these races and don’t follow them. Tomorrow’s is different as my ante-post Grand National fancy SAUSALITO SUNRISE runs. He ran like a pig last time off a 3lb higher mark. He has the stamina for a race like this and was a close third in the Bet365 Gold Cup on the last day of last season off a mark of OR159. That indicates the class he potentially has and I’m expecting a big run tomorrow to try and win and to prep him for the big one. He has previously beat the current National favourite VIEUX LION ROUGE by 12 lengths off a mark two pounds less than this. Get on it!!! 16-1 with Paddy Power is a crazy price.

SELECTION : SAUSALITO SUNRISE 16-1 Paddy Power

Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle

DIVIN BERE is all the rage for this, rightly so after his defeat of MASTER BLUEYES who has since gone on and won the Adonis very easily. He has top weight but rightly so and he could take all the beating. DREAMCATCHING has been touted as a smart horse from the Nicholls yard and you have to listen to him in this race as he has won this 3 time sin recent years and also had the second on numerous occasions. I actually prefer DOLOS on this better ground and despite him only being placed or behind runners he has run in and against some smart animals. He only has a mark of OR 134 and that is generally around the winning mark for this race. I have to go with the potential of DIVIN BERE though, and I take note when a jockey like Noel Fehily starts talking about a good horse.

SELECTION : DIVIN BERE 5-1 CORAL

WEATHERBY’S CHAMPION BUMPER

This is another race that really doesn’t interest me too much. Willie Mullins is always multi-handed in this and is so again. CARTER MCKAY is the favourite and is a nice moving horse and generally favourites, or those in the top few of the market do well.SOMEDAY seems to have decent form and good run him hard and CAUSE TOUJOURS won very well but he hasn’t run for a while. I’m going to go for another Irish runner who has form on good ground and stayed on strongly for his success at Leopardstown last time, that is DEBUCHET.

SELECTION : DEBUCHET 10-1 Bet365

Selections for Day Two:

£10 win SAUSALITO SUNRISE 4:10 16-1 Paddy Power

£5win DIVIN BERE 4:50 5-1 CORAL

£2.50 e/w WILLOUGBY COURT 1:30 14-1 Ladbrokes

£2.50 e/w O O SEVEN 16-1 CORAL

 

 

Cheltenham Day One

 

IbisDuRheu1.jpgAt last here we are with four days of the best national hunt racing ahead of us. A kitty is in the pot and hopefully I will see some profit by the end of the week.  Winners or losers, one thing is for sure it will be a rollercoaster of a ride with the usual thrills and spills. I’m not sure there will be as many favourites go in this year, result for someone like me who likes to look for value. The week will consist of a blog each day and selections for each race alongside a write up. The end of the blog will the have my selections for the day.

Good luck everyone and enjoy the next few days. I would really appreciate it if you could RT the blog once you’ve read it, I’ve put a lot of time into my write ups and form study and want to see if I can beat my number of reads from previous years.

1:30 Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle

The bog surprise for the opener was the defection of MOON RACER to the Champion Hurdle. I thought he had much more of a chance in this.  MELON is the well supported favourite and there have been good signals coming out of the Mullins yard about his chances. Short priced favourites have not had a good record in this, as the yard found out with MIN last year. My worry for MELON is his experience, with only one run to date it will take a special horse to win this from that number of starts; yet he could very well be special.  BALLYANDY is the next contender and won the bumper last year at the festival. He has not had a great year but returned to form off a veery good mark in the Betfair Hurdle last time.  It’s a real shame MOVEWITHTHETIMES is out as he was one of my big contenders. RIVER WYLDe has done nothing wrong this year and is 3 form 3 over hurdles and he looked impressive in a strong finish against another contender today, Elgin. I can’t see the latter reversing places but I can see RIVER WYLDE running them close.  A cracking opening contest and while MELON could be a potential star I’m not sure one run under his belt will give him the experience needed for the hustle and bustle of the opener. My money is on RIVER WYLDE at better odds.

SELECTION : RIVER WYLDE 8-1 (Paddy Power)

2:10 Racing Post Arkle Trophy

This race can only go to one horse in my opinion and probably in everybody else’s too. ALTIOR has been nothing but superb this season and I can’t see anything else in the pack getting close to him in the Arkle. He loves his jumping and really attacks his fences something you need in this race. ALTIOR all the way and I’ll take SOME PLAN to win without ALTIOR at 7-1.

SELECTION : SOME PLAN without ALTIOR

2:50 Ulitma Handicap Chase

The first big handicap of the week to look at in detail. Those of you who have read my blog over the years will know I have to start with HOLYWELL. He has looked so disinterested in every race this year and age is definitely catching up with him. He ran a cracker in this last year behind UN TEMPS POUR TOUT and he has a full 12lbs less on his back today. He is also racing of his lowest rating here since he beat MA FILLEULE off OR145. Three pounds higher today, spring weather and better ground should see him there. My question mark is around his approach this season. He may have lost his love for the game. IBIS DU RHEU is another one who has to catch my eye; he has always been touted as a smart horse and his win here last year in the Martin Pipe Conditional shows he likes the better ground and the track and Nichols is a shrewd placer of his horses and this is one of his that carries my money. He is a horse who fits the profile of a well treated novice. I’m not discounting A GOOD SKIN either on this better ground he has been knocking on the door all season but just not quite being good enough and he has dropped to a very nice mark.  Interestingly the champ also rides him!!! A cracking race!

SELECTION : IBIS DU RHEU 12-1 (Bet365) and A GOOD SKIN ew 25-1 (Bet365)

3:30 Stan James Champion Hurdle

I was really surprised that the Pipe team opted for this race for MOON RACER, and I think they have been suckered in by the money and the hype; while he is very, this is a hell of a step up! The ground could have really gone against BUVEUR D’AIR, he has done nothing wrong all season and looks a very smart horse. If he handles the ground he will run close but I think it is still soft enough for him to run well. He travels really well and has a good finishing speed; something crucial in this race. THE NEW ONE has always run consistently but I think he missed his opportunity the other year and placed horses from previous years have a poor record. YANWORTH may be the best chance on paper for JP McManus and he looked very good on better ground  when he beat THE NEW ONE by 3 and a half lengths. Of the others BRAIN POWER has won really well the last twice and will love the drying ground and I think he has the best chance of upsetting the McManus duo. For me BUVEUR D’AIR looks very smart and he has my money.

SELECTION : BUVEUR D’AIR 11-2 (Paddy Power)

4:10 OLGB Mare’s Hurdle

This is another belting race and one of my top selections of the week runs in this. The Mullins team could have run half a dozen in this and interestingly have opted to include VROUM VROUM MAG in this. I thought they would go the Champion hurdle route with her. LIMINI is favourite for this after beating APPLE’S JADE. That mare has continued her very smart form from last year but couldn’t peg back LIMINI last time but she will be there in the finish. My money goes on LIFEBOAT MONA, she went into my notebook when she destroyed the field at Ascot in November. She followed that up with other win at Sandown and she has gone up 17lbs in the ratings. She looks a very smart horse to me and her style of coming late will suit her up the hill and they could set it up for her to come from off the pace. She has form on better ground but has generally won on softer ground, so that is my only concern.

SELECTION : LIFEBOAT MONA (nap) 18-1 (Paddy Power)

4:50 JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup

This is the longest race of the festival and is a cracker for those horse who love a marathon test. ARPEGE D’ALENE should have run much better than he did last time at Ascot and he has shown how much petrol he has in the tank in a couple of good runs here behind SINGLEFARMPAYMENT and then TOUR DES CHAMPS. It shows to follow horses that have run well at Warwick in this race and FLINTHAM is one of those. He was so courageous last time at Ascot by BIGBADJOHN giving him 4lbs, they’re off level weights today so he could run better and he has previously won at Warwick off a mark only one pound lower and he could run a cracker from the front. DANCING SHADOW won for the blog last time out at over 4m at Musselburgh and he steps up again in class today. Normally the winner of this needs some grade 1 experience so he falls short of that but you couldn’t help but be impressed by how he stayed on that day and there looked like there was more in the tank to me. He’s been raised 8lbs to a mark of OR139 and he should run a big race and he will appreciate the drying ground.TIGER ROLL is the Irish raider with top class form that catches the eye and he won the Munster National well last year  and is ultra-consistent. What a race, this is what solving a handicap problem is all about.

SELECTIONS : FLINTHAM e/w 25-1 (Ladbrokes) and DANCING SHADOW e/w 28-1 (Paddy Power)

 

5:30 Close Brothers Novices Chase

 

It pays to stay with the top few in the market for this race but it is another cracking puzzle to solve. FOXTAIL HILL is a worthy favourite and he meets lots of the trends including winning last time out. He drops to a class one from a winning a Grade 3 last time when beating SAPHIR DU RHEU and he has THOMAS CRAPPER well behind. That one won well the other week. My selection though is TWO TAFFS, he has been running well all season and on ground that has been too soft in my opinion. He ran well behind FLYING ANGEL last time on heavy ground  and previously couldn’t quite I’ve with POKER SCHOOL at Kempton. Good ground will help and he has cheekpieces on for the first time, horse with first time headgear have a very good record in this as do horse who didn’t win on either of their first chase starts and he also has the Cheltenham specialist Davy Russell on. Lots of ticks in lots of boxes.

SELECTION : TWO TAFFS 10-1 (Ladbrokes)

First day selections:

£5win TWO TAFFS 5:30 10-1 (Ladbrokes)

£5 win LIFEBOAT MONA 4:10 18-1 (Paddy Power)

£2.50 e/w IBIS DU RHEU 2:50 12-1 (Bet365)

£2.50 e/w DANCING SHADOW 4:50 28-1 (Paddy Power)

 

Doncaster and Newbury

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Photograph by : Caroline Norris

With the festival on the horizon I’m starting to get my head around some of my potential fancies and stocking up the betting bank. I reckon it could be a much more open festival this year. There won’t be as many Mullins favourites going in and I think there is some potential value in the big races as well as the handicaps. Watch this space!!

On to today:

The best race of the day is the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. THE LAST SAMURAI is using this, as last year, as a prep for the big one at Aintree. He will no doubt run a good race but he has 6lbs more weight to carry this year and races off a 12lb higher mark. WAKANDA will have to push it from the front after a change in tactics backfired last time and I think he will set it up for two of them. The first one is LOOKING WELL, he was staying on very well when defeated by ZIGA BOY here last time over a shorted trip. This longer distance could play to his strengths. However, I am opting for VIVALDI COLLONGES. He gives us a lot of value in the race and even though the rain isn’t perfect he has winning form on soft ground and worse. The jockey has a good record on him and he is racing off a good mark. The stats show that not many winners of this carry more than 10st 12lb, I don’t think that extra pound will make too much difference! He ran a stinker at Warwick last time behind a resurgent ONE FOR ARTHUR, it is noted that he did exactly the same last year and then won next time out. He also defeated the aforementioned at Kelso last year and therefore has some solid form. He will love the smaller field and I think he’ll run a big race at a big price.

VOCALISER ran a cracker last time at Haydock off a 4lb lower mark in a similar class 4 race. He was just pipped by DEEPSAND that day and the 3rd that day (RAISE A SPARK) and the 4th (CHEIFTAIN’S CHOICE) have both won since. I think he will win well today.

The Greatwood Hurdle has cut up a little due to the rain and I really fancy the chances of an old favourite, MELODIC RENDEZVOUS. He has lost his way a bit, but he is getting a bit long in the tooth. However, there was a bit of sparkle there behind YANWORTH last time and he has only ever run once before at a lowly level as this, and won. He should have too much class for these and will have the confidence to beat them off top weight! He’s good value!

Finally, VIC DE TOUZAINE, is a progressive looking horse and despite the step up in class, he should run well and will love the underfoot conditions. He was beaten when running well last time by DUSTY LARK, who had the benefit of course fitness. He is the one who catches the eye in a field of question marks.

Good luck whatever you’re on!

Selections

£5 win VIVALDI COLLONGES 3:35 Doncaster (14-1 Paddy Power) (PU)

£10 win VOCALISER 3:50 Newbury (9-2 BET365) (UP)

£5win MELODIC RENDEZVOUS 2:40 Newbury (8-1 William Hill) (UP)

£5win VIC DE TOUZAINE 3:15 Newbury (4-1 William Hill)(2nd)

Staked

£260

Returns

£283.75

Grand National Trial Day

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The Grand National weights were out this week and one that immediately caught my eye was SAUSALITO SUNRISE. He is a decent horse and has a good weight off his current mark. He is running today at Ascot where I expect him to run very well in preparation for the big one. Ive taken an ante post bet of 50-1 for him.

On to today’s action and I’ll start with my national tip who runs in the race he won last year at Ascot; the Swinley Chase at 2:25. I really fancied him too run well in the Peter Marsh chase at Haydock last time but he unseated Dickie early. I thought he ran well at Cheltenham earlier in the year behind Theatre Guide and was starting to get going when hampered. After winning this race last year he ran well behind MANY CLOUDS at Kelso off a mark 8lbs higher than today. He is the same racing weight as winning this last year and seems to enjoy this track and I’m expecting a big run today and that will hopefully set him up nicely for the big one at Aintree.

I fancy FLINTHAM in the Reynoldstown to upset the two market leaders as he will go at it from the front and will love the ground. His price has seriously decreased since last night and he should run a big race.

The big handicap hurdle at 3:00 at Ascot is a cracking puzzle. DOESYOURDOGBITE found the pace and the quality of the Lanzarote too hot last time and this drop back down in class  may allow him to revert to his winning ways. TEMPLEROSS ran a cracker in that race but I feel it was a one-off. DIVINE SPEAR catches the eye after staying on well at Cheltenham last time but I’m taking a punt on CYRNAME at a decent price. He was a good horse in France and ran himself out of his British debut way back in November. Nicholls will have been doing lots of work at home with him and I like to look out for horses he puts away fro a while. Sean Bowen sits so quietly on horses and he will hopefully switch him off in behind; he COULD run a big race!

Onto the best race of the day, The Grand National Trial Chase. I have it down to two. BLAKLION really disappointed me when carrying my sheckles at Wetherby, and despite winning the RSA last year, he hasn’t shown me enough yet and I think this is too much for him. VINTAGE CLOUDs showed last time he can mix it with the big boys and despite falling in the Peter Marsh, ran very well. My two though are KRUZHLININ and VICENTE. The former was tipped by me on this blog for the fixed brush here, and horse for course at Haydock is important. He only found OUR KAEMPFER too good on quicker ground last time. My worry is the consistency and bravery of his jumping and whether this extended trip will suit! VICENTE then, I tipped him to win the Scottish National last year and he is only 1lb higher than that victory today. The ground hasn’t been right for him a few times this year and I thought he ran a cracking race behind a rampant ZIGA BOY last time at Donny. He will appreciate the drying ground and the trip and I think he will run a big race to prep him for the big one at Aintree. He gets my nod over KRUZHLININ.

Selections

£5 win SAUSALITO SUNRISE 2:25 Ascot (11/2 – BET365) (3rd)

£2.50 e/w CYRNAME 3:00 Ascot (20-1 – BET365) (UP)

£5 win FLINTHAM 1:50 Ascot (5-1 – BET365) (2nd)

£2.50 e/w VICENTE 3:15 Haydock (9-1 Paddy Power) (UP)

Results

Staked £240

Returns £283.75

Newbury Betfair Hurdle

A cracking week for profit on the blog last week with Dancing Shadow and Diego Du Charmil both going in. The ground is obviously key for the latter and I’ve always thought he was a decent horse and he win easily last week. I thought the softer ground would have helped Sandy Beach last week but he toiled in it! He has a good handicap in him Im sure!

Not much value today but some cracking races for the festival. I expect both Altior and my Gold Cup fancy Native River to win. 

My biggest fancy today is VEINARD in the Betfair Hurdle. He is still a novice but has been running some good races and he just got hampered at the wrong time at Leopardstown in good race. He travels strongly and should get a decent pace with Clyne at the front. The ground will suit and he is racing of a very nice weight. He looked to move very well last time and I can see him creeping into this up the Newbury straight. 10-1 in places and he’s a cracking win bet.

VIEUX LILLE is my other selection today. He has been progressing well and seeming to get better and more experienced with every run. He finished second behind a well handicapped YALA ENKI last time and he goes off the same mark today. Not great value but worth a bet at 3-1.

Selections

Veinard 3:35 Newbury £10 win (10-1 Betfred)

Vieux Lille 4:10 Newbury £5 win (3-1 William Hill)

Blog Stats : 

Staked £205

Returns £283.75