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


Newbury – Court Minstrel


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What an awesome jumping display we saw with Native River in the Welsh National. I was confident he had the ability but it was the weight that worried me. Once he kicks din the home straight though I knew he was home. I hope if you read the blog on Boxing Day you took my advice and got the price. I got a very nice 6-1.  On to today and it’s just shorter blog as I’ll write a more detailed one for the Cheltenham meeting tomorrow where we see what ITV racing will look like for the first time.

COURT MINSTREL (3.00 NEWBURY) is where my money goes today. He has always been a smart horse and is even better on genuinely good ground. He won’t get it quite that good today but he has won on good to soft before. Interestingly he hasn’t run in a Class 2 handicap in over a year and a half, he won when he did off a mark of OR145. He is on a mark of OR149 today and has previously beaten ROCK THE KASBAH off this mark in a class one hurdle race. In two other class 2 hurdles see has also won. He’s carried a big weight to victory before too and Im expecting a big run off top weight today.


£5 ew Court Minstrel 3.00 Newbury 16-1 William Hill

Blog stats

Staked £130

Returns £145

Cheltenham and Donny

Photo : Getty images

I was really disappointed with my selections yesterday. I really fancied the chances of COURT BY SURPRISE but again he just emptied when push came to shove. You get some roght and some wrong, and yesterday was a wrong day! Moving on to the second day of the international meeting and there are some cracking cards.

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is the highlight and it will be intriguing to see if the very game and brave VILLAGE VIC can be successful again. He was a real handicap snip when winning this last year of a mark a full 22lbs lower. He ran another cracker again when just getting pipped by TAQUIN DE SEUIL last time. He will most certainly be thereabouts and will try and jump them into submission. BOUVREUIL is really interesting, he was ridden off the pace in the BetVictor but was staying on well. He will be ridden much more handily for sure today and he has a cracking chance. There are quite a few trends that go against VILLAGE VIC today including his weight and age. THOMAS BROWN has a crackimg weight and meets alot of the trends for this race. He has always looked a smart prospect and won well last time at Aintree and he really caught my eye that day. He has only been raised 3lbs and could run a big race. 

I really fancied ZIGA BOY last week in the Becher and he came to grief when brought down at the first fence. He runs again at Doncaster today at a track he is 2 from 2 at including on good ground. This chase is a drop in class to his last win here and he is only 4lbs higher than that race. NO DUFFER is his main danger but I think he is perfectly poised to tale this race today.

The mares’ hurdle in the last at Cheltenham is a cracker and the Nicholls yard are quite bullish about the chances of JESSBER’S DREAM. She ran a few crackers last year and could be potentially a decent horse. Alan King has the favourite in MIDNIGHT TOUR but it’s his second string MIA’S STORM who catches my eye. She has won a couple of decent races at the end of last season and looked like she needed the run last time at Ascot. She continued to stay on though behind LIFEBOAT MONA who had flown away. She’s a very smart mare but it was the way my selection carried on towards the end that suggedts she has more to give.

£5 win ZIGA BOY 12:55 Doncaster

£2.50 e/w MIA’S STORM 3:35 Cheltenham

£5 win THOMAS BROWN 1:50 Cheltenham

Blog results :

Staked = £65

Returns = £101.25

Paddy Power Day

Photo by Martin Lynch : Racing Post photos
I really do love this meeting at Cheltenham, it's the official kick start of thr NH season for me. All of our old favourites and the new pretenders to the throne are out and it will be a fascinating day of racing. My old man gave the blog a winner with NABUCCO the other week, as I continue to misfire! I hoping for a change of fortune today. Sit back and enjoy a cracking day!
Here are the selections for today :
OSCAR ROCK 1425 CHELTENHAM (nap)(unplaced = -£5.00)
This guy keeps on improving and the blinkers have really helped. He has been raised a further 8lbs after his comforrable Market Rasen success. He travels well in his races and will appreciate the quick pace of this race I'm sure. His trainer was rather confident of his chances earlier in the week too. He moves like he will love this test and despite him now playimg with the big boys I think there is further improvement in him. Sound Investment is my other one in this, he just keeps giving and he could be the fly in the ointment! What a fab race in prospect!
SOLL 1350 CHELTENHAM (nb)(unplaced = -£5.00)
Has always been a decent animal and had two wins from two when joining the Pipe string. He beat REBEL REBELLION at Exeter over three miles on good to soft and that horse franked the form with a win next time. Soll did too beating RELAX again, despite a 4lb pull. He was all geared up for the National and managed a creditable ninth with a broken blood vessel. A sound jumper normally and a smooth mover, I expecting a big show with at least a place.
SO FINE 1500 CHELTENHAM (treble)(unplaced = -£5.00)
This fella has a decent record around here and despite his long lay off he has a great chance at a huge price! He will enjoy the decent ground and he stays very well. He was on my tracker for last year but was injured and he stays on my tracker this year. He'll definitely come on for the run but I think he has a great chance of outstaying them up the hill.
COPPER KAY 1605 CHELTENHAM (WON 2-1 = £11.25)
This horse is well bred and related the smart Copper Bleu. She has two decent succeses sandwiched between a creditable fourth in Sandown's Listed race. She comes here with a run and a smooth victory in the bag and I'm expecting more from her.
My Dad's selections are :
COGRY 1350 CHELTENHAM (unplaced = -£5.00)
BOONDOOMA 1425 CHELTENHAM (unplaced = -£5.00)
BATAVIR 1500 CHELTENHAM (unplaced = -£5.00)
HEDLEY LAMARR 1535 CHELTENHAM (unplaced = -£5.00)
Father – £9.39
Son -£4.07

Charlie Hall Chase and Ascot

Today really sees the National Hunt season kick off in earnest with the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby plus a decent supporting card at Ascot. Most trainers will be happy with the rain that arrived over the past few days although I'm not sure it will have done my old favourite Holywell any favours in the big race. Lots of old favourites are running today and as always at this time of the season most of them need a run in them.
As before I'll have a head to head battle with my dad over the NH season, him being a jumping fan like me.
Sit back and enjoy the action today.
SAM WINNER 1505 WETHERBY (nap) (unplaced = -£5.00)
This horse goes really well fresh and will love the ground. He ran some cracking races last year; winning the Murphy Chase at Cheltenham carrying 11st 10lbs on soft ground. He then beat MEDERMIT and MA FILLEULE at Aintree off a mark of OR156. He proved (to me at least!) that he was a top class staying chaser in the Lexus when he just didnt quite get the trip that day. I'm hoping Sean Bowen will bounce him out from the front here at Wetherby, he may need a sterner test than this three miles. Eight year olds have a decent record in this and I'm hoping of a big run. HOLYWELL knows it's the Autumn and would prefer better ground, I think DYNASTE is the danger.
SIGN OF VICTORY 1450 ASCOT (nb) (unplaced = -£5.00)
Will love this ground and won this easily last year. He is carrying a stone more in weight but he's a high class hurdler in this ground. I'm expecting another dominant run and 5-1 is huge for me!
BABY MIX 1415 ASCOT (treble) (3rd – 9-2 = +£5.31)
This guy has been knocking recently and again the ground is key. My only doubt is the trip but he did start his novice chasing career over this distance and won a few. He ran well last time and I thought the jockey should have gotten him nearer but saying that he probably needed the run. Today is his day.
ROCK ON RUBY 1400 WETHERBY (2nd – 3-1 = £4.37)
The old favourite returns! The question mark against him today is his stamina. I don't think this will be an issue; he has been caught for pace recently in the hot races he used to win and non of these plodders will have that change of gear. Class is class and I think he'll stay and win this well. Staying hurdles will be his arena this year if he does.
My Dad's selections
AQALIM 1400 WETHERBY (3rd – 7-2 = £4.68)
NABUCCO 1450 ASCOT (WON – 7-2 = £15.93)
WHAT A WARRIOR 1525 ASCOT (unplaced = -£5.00)
GM HOPKINS 1545 NEWMARKET (unplaced = -£5.00)
Father 1-0 Son
Father +£10.61
Son -£0.32

Cheltenham and NH is back

Photo : John Grossick Racing Post
The National hunt seasin is well and truly back and those of you who have been readers of my blog over time will know how much I love it! So, I thought I'd get the blog going again after a little push from @TonytheTyke.
Here are my selections for today, good luck if you're having a flutter!

Beat ASTRACAD off a mark of OR135 last year and has been dropped a few pounds to a mark of OR138 today which makes him more interesting. The ground should be fine and I'm expecting a
big run.
You can put a line through his Aintree run, he was knackered from his Festival exploits. The ground should be perfect for him and he will go well fresh. He has to burden some extra weight compered to his rivals but he has the class to prevail.

Ran very well in a class 2 race at Haydock beating the likes of CLOUD CREEPER and ANSI FIDELES. The ground should be fine and the extended trip should help too. Cloud Creeper went on to run creditably in a listed race after his defeat and I think my guy is a horse to follow this year.

I really fancied this horse at the festival but he ran a stinker. The ground and the trip today will suit and his defeat by BELTOR last year, followed up by avictory at Huntington sets him up well to improve this year. The yard are flying too!

Ayr Gold Cup

I'm sat writing my blog in a different location today. We're in a fantastic country house in Witton-le-Wear in County Durham. My dad is 65 today so there are 14 of us in this house for the weekend. Beautiful house and beautiful location. Fly fishing in the River Wear just half a mile away, a nature reserve at the back of the garden and a pub across the road, heaven!
Lets hope the blog chucks up a few winners today, if you can find the winner of both the Silver and Gold cups today at Ayr not only will you take a big paycheck home but you can be classed 'King of the Punters'! Betfred are offering 5 places on those races so you have to have a dabble.
DUKE OF FIRENZE 1550 AYR (nap) – has won over 5 and 6f and will like the ground. He's been a little disappointing of late for the Cowell yard, however this horse is class and Cowell really can get them going. He won the Epsom dash last year of 2lbs higher than this and his third to Ajjaad last time showed the possibilities of a return to form. A big price and he could run a big race.
LEXINGTON ABBEY 1440 AYR (nb) – this horse has been super consistent this year and his last two runs have caught the eye behind improving types. This is the type of race that will suit off a feather weight, add the fact he is potentially well drawn and has a certain Pat Smullen on board he has to have a great chance.
ROSEBURG 1455 NEWBURY (treble) – his last run was disappointing based on his previous exploits this season, but the ground for me was the cause. The softer conditions today should ensure the return to the form he showed prior to that run. He must run well today but Air Pilot could be much better than his mark.
PASTORAL GIRL 1405 AYR – she has been running in some good races this year and her run at Ascot behind Osaila was really good amd a reproduction of that would surely make her trouble the judge. This track will suit her style more too as I think the undulations of Salisbury didnt help either.
Here are my dad's selections :