Trials day at Cheltenham

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A near miss last weekend when CAPTAIN REDBEARD just found one too good at Haydock. A second consecutive near miss for one of my in-depth analysis runners – hopefully this week will see a winner or two. Trials day at Cheltenham gives us another chance to see some key horses leading up to the festival in March. It’s backed up with a good meeting at Doncaster.

Sky Bet Chase 3:15 Doncaster

A cracking handicap chase won the last twice by the horse in the photo, ZIGA BOY. As always it’s a competitive affair and there are a few key stats to consider as well as the form. Every single winner of this chase in recent times has previously won going left-handed. A key trend that one of my fancies WARRIORS TALE doesn’t meet. Despite his smart form behind GOLD PRESENT earlier on, this has to be a big negative. However, trends are to be broken and he could run a cracking race. The past few winners of this have had relatively low Official Ratings too. Not many winners had an OR of above OR139 and generally they carry a weight lighter than 11st 2lbs. These stats start to take out a few of these, including the well fancied favourite L’AMI SERGE. He is a worthy favourite na has a touch of class so could defy all these trends and destroy the field, but he has never filled me with confidence and seems to chuck the towel in. COOLOGUE has been runner up in this before and he is on a very attractive mark but I’m not sure the ground will be good enough to bring out his best traits. One who meets the majority of the trends AND has some consistent form is THUMB STONE BLUES, he is progressive and runs here off a feather weight. He has been placed behind DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR, SAM RED and THE TOURAD MAN earlier on. His only fail on the trends is not winning over 3 miles, but all of these places were over that distance. He was second to DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR off 11st 10lbs and despite this being a better race he runs with a huge 2stone an 2lbs less on his back. That will really help over this trip. L’AMI SERGE could destroy them all but is no value, so I’m going for this lad.

SELECTION : Thumb Stone Blues 10-1 Paddy Power

Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase 2:25 Cheltenham

A Gold Cup trial but only LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE has gone on to win the big one after winning this. A key stat here is that the favourite hasn’t won the last 10 runnings of this. Bad news for BRISTOL DE MAI.

The favourite also loses out on a few trends such as weight and age but that is down to his class and you have to discount those. He is a very smart horse and the rain has improved his chances. If he is to be a Gold Cup contender he has to win today. Another concern I have for him is that he has never won here, only placed behind BLACK HERCULES at the festival a couple of years ago. He is the worthy favourite though and a repeat of his Betfair Chase run will be hard to pin him back. AMERICAN was no doubt a smart novice but I feel he hasn’t enough experience for this and he has to show he retains his ability after a poor show last time. TEA FOR TWO ran a belter in the King George last time and looked much more like himself. He meets a lot of the trends for this race and he consistently runs well. I think he could run the favourite close today and am opting for him for more value than the favourite.

SELECTION : Tea For Two 9-1 Paddy Power

I also fancy the chances of WAR SOUND 1:15 Cheltenham who has been ultra consistent and the step up in trip could bring out the improvement needed to finally win. O O SEVEN is a horse I know has a big handicap like this in him. I think the softer ground may actually suit him here today. He is still on a high mark but I think he could creep into this. He ran a belter behind GOLD PRESENT last time and would have been closer if he didn’t belt the second last. Finally, COLIN’S SISTER is much better than she showed last time and I’m expecting her to run better in the Cleeve.

Good luck all.

Haydock and Ascot – Peter Marsh Chase

Not a bad first week back for the blog. I kept my good record up with BLACK IVORY winning the Pertemps at Warwick and I nearly had a big double when SPIRITOFTHEGAMES ran a cracker and was just pipped by a very smart WILLIAM HENRY. FLINTHAM really disappointed me and I think a return to hurdles is needed for him. Anyway on to today and a couple of good cards and good races. Two in-depth analyses for today.

Peter Marsh Chase 3:15 Haydock

Let’s get one thing straight, this is going to be a hell of a test. That will play into the strength son YALA ENKI for sure. I’ve had a look at the key trends and stats, of which eight are significant. This plus my form reading has got me a shortlist of three. TINTERN THEATRE is well fancied but one a trend on age, that also takes out the potential favourite in HAINAN, but he also doesn’t meet another trend around when they last raced. These are just trends remember, but sometimes stats just don’t lie!

So, my shortlist is CAPTAIN REDBEARD, FINE RIGHTLY and WALK IN THE MILL. The Irish raider has been a smart performer in the past on heavy ground. He won a grade 3 over 3m before of a mark of OR149; he’s only OR145 today. However, this win bucks the trends as most horses who win this haven’t won above Class 2 before. His age may let him down and he hasn’t won here, but he has won at a similar stiff track in Wetherby. CAPTAIN REDBEARD ran very well here last time and has been raised 9lbs for that to a mark of OR144. He could have further improvement in him and has two positive trends outside of the initial eight, those being having a claimer on board and a previous course win. His only negative is he has yet to win over 3m and that could be an issue in today’s ground. Last time won though it was impressive and he jumped them into submission. WALK IN THE MILL ran a belter last time behind the smart GOLD PRESENT, that I feel is strong form. He meets EVERY one of the eight initial trends but has no claimer or course win to his name. He also hasn’t won going left-handed! That to me is key and why I’m opting for CAPTAIN REDBEARD.



Holloway Hurdle 2:25 Ascot

This is a cracking race. JENKINS showed last time his undoubted ability but he should have done in a lower class and I think he’ll fold again today, unless the blinkers really were the key to his improvement. Eight key trends and stats again for this. I’m taking our CROSSED MY MIND as he only meets three of these trends, but remember trends and stats are there to be broken! He hasn’t tackled the distance enough times and that may catch him out. However, he did run on well late behind A HARE BREATH last time. My shortlist contains one with form tied into that race too; my three are – CAID DU LIN, NIGHT OF SIN and AIR HORSE ONE. AHO falls down on his age and that his rating is higher than normal winners, but that shows the class he has and he has won over the course before, so can’t be discounted too easily. A lot of weight though too. NIGHT OF SIN falls short over the distance (just!) and Lizzie could be sat on another decent one here. However, I’m opting for CAID DU LIN, he went into my notebook in the aforementioned race behind A HARE BREATH and the increased distance today should help. The claimer will have learnt loads that day and he meets ALL EIGHT key trends for the race. He’s only 3lbs higher for that run after the handicapper eased him by two after a poor run in a hot race that was too short. He could run a belter at a big price.

Selection : CAID DU LIN 16-1 BETFRED


My other selections for today are:

Ch’Tibello 2:40 Haydock

Ey Up Rocky 3:25 Taunton

Kempton and Warwick

New Year’s resolutions are always hard to stick to but I’m going to try and write a blog again each week. I haven’t done a blog since Aintree last year I think but still actively bet on the nags. I know quite a few of you enjoy reading my blog and I hope I won you a few quid over the year.

There isn’t a better day than to come back today. I have a great record at Warwick and there have been some real Cheltenham pointers at this meeting. HOLYWELL can second in the Pertemps and then I tipped him at 33-1 in the Pertemps Final at the festival. I have also blogged and tipped the winner of the Pertemps Hurdle here in recent years; Uncle Jimmy (2014), Join The Clan (2015) and Flintham (2016). This meeting also brought WILLOUGHBY COURT to my attention last year who won big for me at last year’s festival. Let’s hope I can find a few winners today.

The 32RED Lanzarote Hurdle 2:40 Kempton

This is such a competitive race and in the past has thrown up some good winners such as SAPHIR DE RHEU, TEA FOR TWO and MODUS. Key trends for this race appear to be that you need a horse who is 8 or younger; has won going right handed; to be rated no more than OR145 and carrying weight no higher than 11stone. However, SAPHIR DU RHEU won carrying 11st 12lbs when he won. Applying the trends and using my form reading I have the shortlist down to: COEUR BLIMEY, DENTLEY DE MEE, DINO VELVET and MAN FROM MARS. There are also the following who only fall down on the weight trend: WILLIAM HENRY, TOP VILLE BEN, SPIRITOFTHEGAMES and TOPOFTHEGAME.  A final interesting trend is to have won last time out. This takes me down to TOP VILLE BEN, SPIRITOFTHEGAMES and MAN FROM MARS. This is run at a frenetic pace and if a horse has ran over the distance it helps. Both TOP VILLE BEN and SPIRITOFTHEGAMES have this, but we haven’t had a big priced winner of this since 2007. TVB was very impressive last time on terrible ground and caught my eye but the ground will be better today. SPIRITOFTHEGAMES has a claimer on board and when you apply her claim his weight drops below 11st and he meets that trend too and he is my selection today. MAN FROM MARS is a great each way bet at a huge price and TOPOFTHEGAME could run a big race back over hurdles.

Selection : SPIRITOFTHEGAMES 14-1 (when I wrote this with William Hill on Friday night) E/W MAN FROM MARS

Pertemps Network Hurdle 2:25 Warwick

This is one of my favourite races as I said earlier and today is a decent renewal too. There are again quite a few key trends and one is to have won over 3miles which interesting takes out the favourite BLACK IVORY, he did however finish a 3/4 length second over the distance earlier in the season, so can’t really be discounted. Looking at the trends and the form this is the shortlist for the race: BLACK IVORY (with the distance caveat); FLY CAMP; TEMPLEROSS; PRIME VENTURE; NO HASSLE HOFF and THE ORGANIST. Too big a shortlist! So I’ve taken out NO HASSLE HOFF and THE ORGANIST on their weight, although PRIME VENTURE is helped here with his claimer. The favourite BLACK IVORY is my top rated selection and as I write this I can get 5-1 with William Hill so he’s worth a wager. However, IO do like to try and find value for readers. One at a bigger price who only fails on the weight trend is FLY CAMP. He’s only 3lbs heavier and comes from strong connections and needed the run last time. Form wise he defeated MISTERTON by 4 1/2 lengths last season, that horse is now rated OR142. FLY CAMP is rated OR133 so the form of that win is strong.

Selection – FLY CAMP 14-1 WILLIAM HILL

side wager for BLACK IVORY as I got 5-1 for him.

Betfred Classic Chase 3:35 Warwick

This is another great race and threw up last year’s Grand National winner in ONE FOR ARTHUR.  It’s a really competitive affair and there are a couple of favourite old timers running. Applying the form and the trends I have the shortlist down to : CRESSWELL BREEZE; KRAKATOA KING; MISSED APPROACH; SIR MANGAN and CROSSPARK. A key stat for a winner of this race is to have won over 3 miles on a left handed track. MISSED APPROACH and CROSSPARK lose out here.  KRACKATOA KING is a bit of a monkey and his official rating of OR127 is too low to win this. So that leaves SIR MANGAN and CRESSWELL BREEZE. The latter meets every trend in recent years and SIR MANGAN hasn’t run for a while which MAY count against him. Mares are tricky to train but when you get them right they can go on amazing runs for you. The yard is flying at the moment and I think she will be the winner of this.



Another cracking race and I’m opting for my old favourite FLINTHAM. He has course winning form here, winning the Pertemps the other year. His front running style suits the track and Nico De Boinville gets on well with him. Warwick is a jumping test and he is normally spot on and will appreciate the testing ground. DUEL AT DAWN beat him last time but Im not sure his jumping with stack up down the back straight here. BIG RIVER may be my selections biggest danger.

Selection : FLINTHAM