Aintree Day One

Photo by Fran (@Riosrider2)
 
Day one of the Aintree festival. Usually it pays to side with horses who have swerved Cheltenham, however this year we've had a slightly longer break between the two. Whatever happens over the next few days I'm sure we're in for a right treat, there are some great races to watch and a few tricky handicaps to try and solve. We of course then have the biggest puzzle of them all – The Grand National! My record in the big one just isnt great, the last time I won I think I was eight! I'm now 35!!! However, I have an antepost ticket on MON PARRAIN at 50-1 after he won for the blog on New Year's Day. I'm chuffed the ground will be on the better side for him and also chuffed that Sean Bowen rides. He has a great chance and I reckon he'll run a cracking race! I'll probably pick another couple but haven't made my mind up yet!
Here are my selections for Day One. Good luck with whatever you back and I hope you win!
 
Manifesto Novices Chase 1340
A small but distinct field and a few with obvious chances. The main one is VIBRATO VALTAT who should have been UN DE SCEAUX's main rival in the Arkle, but he never ran a true race. I'm not sure whether he will get this trip? JOSSES HILL has flattered to deceive this year and I don't think his jumping will hold up. I'm opting for CLARCAM (WON 5-1), he may also not get the trip but I prefer his chances with Ruby on board. He was put in his place in the Arkle too but he really caught my eye in the Fred Winter last year and was unlucky when falling. He has had a couple of solid runs this year and doesn't have either VAUTOUR or UN DE SCEAUX to overcome.
 
Betfred Juvenile Hurdle 1415
HARGAM will be a short priced favourite for this based on his third in the Triumph. The Nicholls pair really don't do it for me. I'm opting for INTENSE TANGO (unplaced). She struggled against her male counterparts last time but she comes here fresh and will enjoy the better ground. Her weight allowance may also support her speed at these weights and help her overcome her rivals this time. She looked a decent horse when putting PASS THE TIME and ANIFILET in their place at Doncaster.
 
Betfred Bowl Chase 1450
HOLYWELL (nb) (3rd – 5-2) was my tip for the Gold Cup and is my tip here. He ran a cracker at Cheltenham and it was a shame the ground swung to the soft side that day as I really thought he would win the race. SILVINIACO CONTI misfired that day and on this ground I can't see him reversing placings with my tip. MA FILLEULE is a tough mare and she will be there at the finish. HOLYWELL has the class, the jumping ability and the ground to beat all his rivals.
 
Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle 1525
JEZKI comes here with a real chance of giving the champ another victory in his swansong. ARCTIC FIRE has been ultra-consistent this year too and must have a decent chance. However, I have to opt for my old favourite ROCK ON RUBY (2nd 7-2) though. He missed the festival and will be fresh. Despite being 10 years old he can still mix it with the young guns. He has a good record here and produces good efforts on better ground. I think he'll battle up the finishing straight with the other two above and his heart will bring him out on top.
 
Crabbies Fox Hunters Chase 1605
Only one horse here for me. PACHA DU POLDER (nap) (2nd 7-1) is a horse I always followed and has made a brilliant start in this sphere. My selection improves so much on better ground and I'm expecting a big run tomorrow. He started out this year being beaten by TEAFORTHREE on soft ground and he then won easily on good ground at Ludlow. He's a nice mover and a smart jumper. He is closely matched with BIG FELLA THANKS on old form and I expect both of them to be fighting it out up the finish.
 
Betfred Red Rum Chase 1640
CLARET CLOAK will enjoy the better ground and ran well last time behind ULCK DU LIN at Ascot. He runs well fresh but 11st 12lbs is a lot to carry in this. Even a 5lb taken off by Sean Bowen may not be enough. BABY MIX fascinates me; he's been off for a while and was a smart hurdler on good ground. With this break to overcome and a return to form needed he may not do it, but he's well treated on his old form. I'm opting for TED VEALE (treble) (unplaced) he's down to his last winning mark of OR141, which he's won twice at. He has got a nice weight and has good form when the ground is better. He also has a strong form line through CLARCAM and I think he'll run a big race!
 
Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Hurdle 1715
The last race on day one and it's a cracker to try and solve! DALAWAN is smart yet disappointed last time behind CALL THE COPS, can he recapture his form? CALL THE COPS has been raised another 7lbs for that win and I think he's handicapped to the max now. LAC FONTANA could really improve for the extra distance amd is worth a saver! UNIQUE DE COTTE and my old favourite JOIN THE CLAN deserve praise and should run well. Now this is where I get silly! I have followed KATGARY (unplaced) all year based on his efforts last season and I was and still am convinced he's a smart horse. Good ground I'm sure is key and with a little bit of confidence back in him for winning in a lower class last time I think he'll run well. He is carrying a stone less than he did last time too. My advice here, ignore me, I'd go over the White Cliffs for this one!!
 
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Tuesday selections

MIAS BOY 1630 WOLVES (nap) – (3rd – 4-1) ultraconsistent and will run another good race. I'm hoping for a strong pace to be set, mostly the case herevat Wolves in a race like this. If that happens then he has a better than good chance.
 
BACK IN FOCUS 1840 PUNCHESTOWN (nb) – (unplaced) won well again a Cheltenham and I think his juming will hold up better than his stable companions and he will take this.
 
JEZKI 1620 PUNCHESTOWN (treble) – (WON – 2-1) I thought he ran really well at the festival and if he would have jumped the last better he would have been closer. He caught the flight and lost momentum. Back on home soil I can see him reversing the form.
 
 
BLOG STATS :

Naps 36/165 = 21.8%
Wins 153/822 = 18.6%
Placed 221/822 = 26.9%

Win and Placed = 45.5%

@Tweet_Naps overall record. Click the link. All Time Profit/Loss currently +£58.33
 

Cheltenham Festival 2013 Day 1

It's like Christmas Eve, being served your first legal pint and your first kiss all rolled into one. The excitement, the trepidation, the sheer buzz is enough to hook you in for ever! Cheltenham is here again! I can almost hear the roar as the tapes go up for the Supreme tomorrow. Disappointingly, as always, I'm at work – but Sky+ is set and I can't wait!
 
I thought I'd kick off the blog with the memory of two Cheltenham heroes of last year that are tragically no longer with us……..RIP Campbell and Brindisi.
 
Last year at the Festival this blog produced some great results, which are below. I've had a few naps come in in the past few days and weeks and am hopeful of another good week, but it's Cheltenham, so who knows.
 
Balthazar King 11-2
Brindisi Breeze 7-1
Synchronised 8-1
Salsify 7-1

So, onto the action and the first day.

1.30 William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle

What a cracker to start the festival off again, although the field isn't as big as recent years. This could help MY TENT OR YOURS as favourite's have a terrible record in this. However, justified favourite he is after his demolition job last time. But I can't have him a that price. I have backed JEZKI (treble) (3rd – 5-1) all year and he is four from four over hurdles including 2 Grade 1's to boot. That is enough for me and with the covers on it will be testing and whilst this one needs pace, he also has form on soft ground and that may play to his strengths up the hill. I am also having an each way flutter on CHAMPAGNE FEVER (WON – 5-1) who won well last time, won the bumper here last year and Ruby has opted for him over DODGING BULLETS. To me that is significant enough seen as the Nicholls inmate has a superior rating.

2.05 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy

The race centres around the potential brilliance of SIMONSIG and you cannot argue with how impressive he is. I'm not sure really if anything at these level weights can beat him. OVERTURN hasn't won on soft ground since 2009 and he may use up his stamina with a too bold approach. So, my each way option for the race is MAJALA (unplaced) who has steadily improved all year and may well have defeated FAGO even if that one hadn't have fallen at Warwick. Any horse who gallops away up the Haydock straight on heavy as he did in defeating OHIO GOLD should relish the Cheltenham hill.

2.40 JLT Speciality Handicap Chase

One of the Festival's many trappy handicaps, but to be honest I love trying to find the winner of these. It is pretty wide open to be fair, and the stats lean towards something younger than 11 and rated no more than 143-ish.
I like the chances of THE PACKAGE, who has a decent record in this and now has a tongue tie fitted after disappointing last time. I have also backed HEY BIG SPENDER (PU) all year and he has the class and the form to win this and is huge at 33-1, so he's my each way option and even though he is rated 145 he is on a very dangerous mark considering his illustrious past. My win option in the race if I have have to select one though is TOUR DES CHAMPS (unplaced) he has youth on his side and whilst he has serious risks in terms of his jumping, boy he has a right chance if he jumps well. A mistake last time cost him dearly against ROCKY CREEK at Ascot. He has ran in and against some very good horses in the past and this may be his day!

3.20 Stam James Champion Hurdle

What a tactical affair this could be. I have won well with ZARKANDAR this year and been thoroughly impressed with his attitude and form. GRANDOUET has appeared to be a damn smart horse, but BRIDLE and MONKEY come to mind. ROCK ON RUBY has a real chance again and has done nothing wrong, but I have to go against all the doubters as I think HURRICANE FLY (nb) (WON – 15-8) will take this. Ruby and the stable are very bullish about his chances, with preperation being its best. With little pace in the race forecast I think Ruby will bring the Fly upsides at the last and kick him on.

4.00 Cross Country Chase – postponed

I don't really like or pay much attention to these races so am just looking at form briefly for this and suggest taking a chance with the French one, especially if the ground is tacky. So for me SACREE TIEPY is the selection.

4.40 OLBG Mares' Hurdle

QUEVEGA is going for a five timer in this and looking to equal GOLDEN MILLER's record and go down in Festival Folklore. Who would argue, supremely talented and unbeaten. So my money is each way and it goes on KENTFORD GREY LADY, she has been impressive this year and whilst three miles seems to have brought the best out of her, including a good third to REVE DE SIVOLA, she does however have the pace for this distance too. Whilst she has the same five pounds pull with QUEVEGA she is rated 8lbs better this year off 142 and that could take her closer than the four lengths she lost by last year. The negative is the form of the stable!

5.15 Rewards4Racing Novices Handicap

Again another really close affair. I have got it down to two in my opinion. You can't get away from the strength of HAZY TOM's form in his Warwick defeat of CANTLOW, who went on to defeat both DARE ME and OSCARA DARA since that defeat. He has always been highly regarded and rated by his trainer, and if he has the stamina for this trip he has a great chance, so I'm on him each way. OHIO GOLD could also go well at a big price and I may also back him if MAJALA runs well in the Arkle. My selection of the winner may make me look very stupid, however, I can't get away from the fact that COLOUR SQUADRON (nap) is a handicap snip on his hurdle form of last year. His jumping is sketchy, but judging on his last few runs I reckon the JP bookie bashing hat was played to ensure this very appealing handicap debut mark (139). Especially when you consider CAPTAIN CONAN, who beat him in last year's Tolworth by a short head is rated 152. On those figures, if he jumps, he wins!

In summary, bloody enjoy this first day and here are my selections in black and white. COME ON THE GREATEST SPORTING SPECTACLE ON EARTH!!

1.30 JEZKI (treble) (win) CHAMPAGNE FEVER (ew)

2.05 MAJALA (ew)

2.40 TOUR DES CHAMPS (win) HEY BIG SPENDER (ew)

3.20 HURRICANE FLY (nb) (win)

4.00 SACREE TIEPY (win)

4.40 KENTFORD GREY LADY (ew)

5.15 COLOUR SQUADRON (nap) (win) HAZY TOM (ew)