Scottish National and Newbury

We start with another fab photo courtesy of Fran (@Riosrider)
 
Last week was a disaster for the blog with not one of my selections placed. You win some you lose more is what I think in this game! I was chuffed with how Mon Parrain ran in the National and I think he has a big handicap in him next year. The best news for all of us connected to racing was that the old stalwart BALTHAZARS KING got up ok and being clattered when falling. Fantastic work by all at Aintree who looked after him and treated him. On to today and a cracking Saturday with the Scottish National and Champion Hurdle and some super flat racing from Newbury. Sit back and enjoy today it should be ace!
The twitter gamble this week is :
@Fernando_RFC2 ROMSDAL 1345 NEWBURY
@LiamKenniford SEGO SUCCESS 1545 AYR
@Tonythetyke UEUETEOTL 1625 AYR
@DazGilbert1 HARWOODS VOLANTE 1815 THIRSK
Here are my selections for today :
 
RAZ DE MAREE 1545 AYR (nap) EW (PU = -£5.00)
This guy ran a cracker last time in the Midlands National and went straight into my notebook. He was beaten 9l by GOONYELLA that day and he will stay this trip again today. He was giving GOONYELLA 5lbs in weight that day and he has also been dropped two pounds in the ratings to a mark of OR136 and is now in receipt of 7lbs from GOONYELLA, effectively making him 12lbs better off. This is a better race but I think it was decent form in the Midlands National. Bryan Cooper gets on well with him and has won 5 times on him and he is just 4lbs higher thsn his last winning mark now and only needs a little improvement to run a cracker here. With five places being offered I have to make him an each way selection – although I do think he has a really good winning chance too! I also like the chance of SEGO SUCCESS too, he has a similar prodile to GODSMEJUDGE and ran really well at Warwick earlier in the year. He could bounce back from a disappointing run at the festival.
 
IRVING 1435 AYR (nb) (PU = -£5.00)
This is another cracking race. SIGN OF VICTORY looked a smart horse when destroying the field on the bridle in Ascot back in November and the ground hasn't helped him since. He has the ground today but he looked very subdued at Wincanton last time. GASSIN GOLF almost gave us a big priced win on the blog in the Imperial Cup and he has since won; this I think is too hard though. IRVING has always been a smart horse and showed this when winning the Fighting Fifth and having ARCTIC FIRE 4 lengths behind is smart form. They missed the champion hurdle for this and he has a great chance.
 
DICK WHITTINGTON 1450 NEWBURY (treble) (unplaced = -£5.00)
He has some very smart form from last year and has won on this ground today and soft. His best bit of form which will put him in good stead for today is when he beat KOOL KOMPANY last August in the Group 1 Pheonix Stakes. KOOL KOMPANY won the Craven on Thursday off a mark two pounds lower than my selections today. He has to have a big chance and I think he's overpriced!
 
HIGHLAND COLORI 1525 NEWBURY (unplaced = – £5.00)
He has been dropped to a very nice mark and is now 9lbs lower thsn his last winning mark and 2lbs lower than his last winning mark in a handicap class like this when he beat LOUIS THE PIOUS. He has been running in better races than this and his form has suffered because of that. He's back in a class that truely reflects his ability and he has form on ground like todays. He could run a cracker at a big price – each way selection too!
 
My Dad's selections are :
 
Standings
Father 10-9 Son
Profit
Father -£62.13
Son £111.71
 
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Cheltenham Day One

It is here at last! The greatest week on Earth! Or so I think anyway! Time to sit back and watch a feast of racing over the next few days that will make you yearn for more once it's over! Whatever happens this week, lets hope all the horses return safe, jockeys too and we have a festival that will be talked about for years to come.
 
On to my selections :
 
Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle

What a race this is to kick the Festival off. I love this race as it signals the begininig of the week but it's also a bloody tough race to call the winner of. There are several of these that have really good chances. GILGAMBOA is an improver and he won the big Irish Handicap the other week and comes here as a horse that could really be anything, I'm not sure the ground will paly to his strengths though. VANITEUX has always been touted as a good thing but the thing that sticks in my mind is his defeat by AMORE ALATO, a reproduction of that would see him well beaten. I've backed WILDE BLUE YONDER every race this year and if he stays on four legs he has an each way sneak. VAUTOUR comes here with obvious credentials and looked good last time when defeated The Tullow Tank in the same race CHAMPAGNE FEVER won last year. My selection though has to be IRVING, he has been nothing but impressive in each race and looked very good last time when easing away with the race and having AMORE ALATO a distant second. He has form on better ground in Germany and for me looks to be a very decent horse. Hope he gets me off to a good start.
 
SELECTION – IRVING (nb) (unplaced)
DAD'S SELECTION – WICKLOW BRAVE (unplaced)

Racing Post Arkle Chase

God I love this race as well! I have had a few goods wins too, including CONTRABAND and of course who can forget the mighty TIDAL BAY trouncing NOLAND and the others in 2008. This is a tight little contest and a lot can be made for all the leading contenders. VALDEZ has impressed me with every run and he could run a big race at a decent price, he will surely go on to bigger things no matter what happens. We all saw what CHAMPAGNE FEVER did last year although his Boxing Day defeat sits badly with me and that's why I have written off his chances. For me TRIFOLIUM is the best Irish contender. He beat FELIX YONGER last time, on that horse's preferred ground and at level weights after previously being beaten by him giving him 4lbs. My selection also finished second behind DEFY LOGIC when they both beat CHAMPAGNE FEVER. DODGING BULLETS could run a big race with his Chletenham form in mind and he has really improved since the operation he had on his palate. I still havent mentioned ROCK ON RUBY who brings the best hurdle form to the table!! What a race, sit back and enjoy!
 
SELECTION – TRIFOLIUM (nap) (3rd – 11-4)
DAD'S SELECTION – ROCK ON RUBY (unplaced)
Baylis and Harding Handicap Chase

Jesus wept! This is a right old handicap with several horses close to my heart! This is what NH racing is all about, finding the winning horse in a race like this!
HOLYWELL, my star horse of last year, that I napped at 25-1 to win the Pertemps goes. I've got to put a little on him but I don't think he has the expereicne of a big, classy chase like this yet. He's getting better but will be one for next season for me. MA FILLEULE I backed last time when she won at Kempton, she is a decent horse and was due a race like that, however a 6lb rise and the slightly better grpound put me off her. Over recent years horses aged 8 or 7 have had a great record in this, and also horses with a light weight! I'm hoping my horse beats the weight voodoo. My selection is one of the horses I follow and for me two things make me opt for him. The better ground and a great record when fresh. My selection is PACHA DU POLDER, he's always had a bit of class, and finally showed it when winning at Newbury last year. He has rran over 3 miles before and that was on soft ground which he hated and he finished second. The extra distance I think will improve him further. He will bowl along near the front and with being fresh will be up with the pace and will hopefully stay up the hill. 33-1 is huge and Paul Nicholls reported him to have had an eye catching racecourse gallop! He could be my big handicap winner this year!
 
SELECTION – PACHA DU POLDER (unplaced)
DAD'S SELECTION – HOLYWELL (WON 10-1)
 
Stan James Champion Hurdle

These races just keep getting better and better! Right, I may get egg on my face but I'm saying the Fly will lose! Firstly no 10 year old has won this race since SEA PIGEON in 1980, secondly I think THE NEW ONE, MELODIC RENDEZVOUS and MYTENTORYOURS will run him out of it. I would be placing all of my money on MELODIC RENDEZVOUS if the ground were softer and despite his jockey claiming it won't matter, I think it will, especially when the other contenders will enjoy it more! MYTENTORYOURS is my selection and I thought he was impressive when beating THE NEW ONE at Kempton and despite everyone saying TNO will be better I don't think he will reverse the placings. I even think he may take this race after the last flight and up the run in, coming off the bridle neaer the finish! Although, that may be a fairytale! Regardless though it will be a cracker and I can't wait!
 
SELECTION – MYTENTORYOURS (2nd – 3-1)
DAD'S SELECTION – THE NEW ONE (3rd – 100/30)

OLBG Mares Hurdle

QUEVEGA has made a mockery of this over the past few years and there is strong evidence she may do it again! However, I'm going for an upset. HIGHLAND RETREAT may have what it takes to finally knock her off her perch! She has done nothing wrong this year and while she has not knocked any trees down she has gone about her business in a very classy way. Not much more to be said, QUEVEGA is the best mare on show but she may get turned over, hopefully by my selection.
 
SELECTION – HIGHLAND RETREAT (unplaced)
 
Terry Biddlecombe Amateur Rider Chase

Old Terry will be looking down ansd be honoured to have this race named afer him and I'm sure the amateurs will give him a good show! If the ground were softer I would be all over MERLIN'S WISH, unfortunately I think it's dried out too much for him. My selection is BEEVES he gave SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR 5lbs at Aintree in October for a 1/2 length defeat and then finished a gallant second to ELY BROWN at Leicester in December. He is now 8lbs lower in the ratings than that 1/2 length defeat and with better ground and level weights, he may well run a cracker!
 
SELECTION – BEEVES (unplaced)

Rewards4Racing Novice Chase

The first comes to a close with another cracker! PENDRA will probably be all the rage and rightly so judged on previous form. ERICHT has been put up as a big chance for the Henderson team by a few shrewdies. However, the way AHYAKNOWYERSELF won a Market Rasen in the summer really caught my eye, he then ran well in behind MELODIC RENDEZVOUS at Wincanton and that is smart form. He has doen pretty well over the bigger obstacles and he is effectively 5lb well in judged on his last suucess when beaing BIN END at Leicester. He's my main option in the race but I also have to have a little on GRANDADS HORSE, who will enjoy the better ground and you cannot rule out BABY MIX either.
 
SELECTION – AHYAKNOWYERSELF (4th – 33-1)