The Grand National

Photo courtesy of Fran (@Riosrider)
 
Here we are then! The big one! The Grand National is here, the world's greatest steeplechase. Millions will be watching, hundreds of thousands will be there – what a spectacle it is! I hope first and foremost that all the horses and jockeys come back safe and sound. The changes that have been made to the track should encourage this and it will prevent these do gooders chirping up about horse safety too. It will be a cracking race – I'm hoping I've got the winner for the first time in 25 years!! See my report below for my four selections for the race.
This is what the twitter gamble guys are going for in the race :
@Tonythetyke – FIRST LIEUTENANT
@Fernando_RFC2 – AL CO
@DazGilbert1 – SAINT ARE
@Liamkenniford – ROCKY CREEK
 
Here are my selections for today :
MANDY'S BOY 1650 CHEPSTOW (nap) (Unplaced = -£5.00)
Has spits and spots of decent form last year behind the like of MANJAKANI at Stratford and AGREEMENT at the same venue. He seemed to run better last time and the handicapper has given him a real chance. His last winning mark was OR115 on good ground. His mark today is OR103. He is incredibly well handicapped, has a light weight and must run well.
 
Mersey Novices Hurdle 1330
Nichols Canyon was very well supported in Neptune at Cheltenham but could never land a blow and I'm not convinced he willbe able to today either. AS DE MEE deserves this step up in class after some really good performances and is interesting. PARLOUR GAMES is a worthy favourite after his second in the Neptune but I'm optimg for what looks like a progressive horse in THREE MUSKATEERS (3rd – 7-1) He won well at Wetherby earlier in the season and then followed that up with a battling win in a Grade 2 hurdle at Warwick in January. He missed the festival for this and despite it being another step up he looks a promising horse.
 
Doom Bar Maghull Novices Chase 1405
God's Own ran a cracker in the Arkle and showed his previous ability in that race. Could he have burnt his bridges though by really trying to go after Un De Sceaux in that race? I'm opting for COURT MINSTREL (treble)(Unplaced) who also ran well in the Arkle and was ridden sensibly after his chance had gone but he still stayed on for fifth. He will love the ground and has a touch of class as we saw last year here when he won a competitive hurdle here off a big weight. He has the ability I have no doubt to win this.
 
Silver Cross Stayers Hurdle 1450
COLE HARDEN caused a but of an upset by winning the World Hurdle and he got a bit of a start on them that day. On this flatter track I don't think he'll get that today and I think he'll struggle. I'm going for ZARKANDAR (unplaced) who ran such a good race at Cheltenham considering he made such a bad mistake two out. To keep going and make third was really impressive and shows how good he is. This track will suit and I think he'll run a big race and will win this.
 
Betfred Handicap Chase 1525
I'm not betting on this race as nothing really appeals – however DUKE OF LUCCA (WON 9-2) goes again this year off a mark 3lbs higher than what he won it off last year and has a good chance.
 
The Crabbies Grand National 1615
I've opted for four in this and I'll take them in order of preference. MON PARRAIN (nb) (unplaced = -£5.00) is my first choice. He has always been a smart horse and despite his quircks he has loads of ability. He has ran well over these fences, getting pipped in the Topham a few years ago and he ran well behind OSCAR TIME in the Becher in December. He then showed his class for this jockey when jumping for fun from the front and winning at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. He will love the fences and the ground and if he gets near the front and in a nice rhythm he could run a cracker at a big price. AL CO is my second choice, he ran well when winning the Scottish National last year and meets lots of the trends for past winners of the big one. He has been well prepared for this and the form of the Scottish National is tobe taken into account these days. Next up is ROCKY CREEK he looked really well last time and is well in with his rating from when the handicap was given. He could be a grades horse running in a handicap. There were question marks against him last year but he answered those and he has a huge chance today. Finally I'm opting for FIRST LIEUTENANT who has been a decent horse in his time and it seems Mouse Morris has got a bit of the old sparkle back, the trip is the worry but that is always the case in this marathon event! Good luck is needed for anything to win this and I'm hoping my four give me a good run for my money.
 
My blog four today are :
MANDY'S BOY 1650 CHEPSTOW
MON PARRAIN 1615 AINTREE
COURT MINSTREL 1405 AINTREE
ZARKANDAR 1450 AINTREE

My Dad's selections are
Nichols Canyon 1330 Aintree (Won 3-1 = £9.37)
Cole Harden 1450 Aintree (2nd – 2-1 = £1.25)
Duke of Lucca 1525 Aintree (WON 9-2 = £14.06)
Balthazar King 1615 Aintree (Fell -£5.00)
 
Standings
Father 10-9 Son
Profit
Father -£62.13
Son £131.71
 
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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!!
 

Grim up North!!

Not a great deal of success last week I'm afraid and I was gutted at how poorly LANDSCAPE ran when I was so confident of a big run! The only liitle bit of success was WOODFORD COUNTY'S third in the Eider! We win some, we lose some. As I'm sure all of you are, I'm counting the days down to the festival – bring it on! Had such a busy week this week with work and I'm looking forward to kicking back and watching this sport we all love today. Whatever your we earned dosh is on, good luck and I hope you get a shout and win some back of the old foe.
 
The twitter gamble boys have opted for these four today – give them a follow again and I hope today is the day their four timer comes in.
@Tonythetyke –
@Fernando_RFC2 – FILFIL 1555 MEYDAN
@LiamKenniford – SOUND INVESTMENT 1525 NEWBURY
@DazGilbert1 – KAI BROON 1535 KELSO
 
Here are my selections :
 
MON PARRAIN 1545 DONCASTER (nap) (Unplaced = -£5.00)
Showed his true class when winning for the blog at 25-1 on New Years Day at Cheltenham. I was really confident of him that day and I know some of you were on him too! I'm even more confident he can take this today! He has been raised 6lbs for his win, but I still think he is a better horse than he new mark and there is more to come. These types of races over longer distances that need him to be bold and brave bring out the best in him. There are other front runners who will push him too today. Sean Bowen returns and takes 5lbs off to help our cause more yet for me the biggrst factor is the ground, he loves good ground! Sit back and enjoy!
 
SOUND INVESTMENT 1525 NEWBURY (nb) (WON 7-2 = £12.25)
Paul Nicholls has won 6 of the last 9 runnings of this and today my selection can make it 7. I backed him last night at 5-1 and as I type this he is 11-4 in places – the money is coming! He is a smart horse and has some decent form in the bag; beating DOLATULO at Sandown and running well in fifth beihnd THE YOUNG MASTER over a distance too long. He drops back in trip today and the ground will help, he has a big weight to carry but is the best horse in the race for me.
 
ROALCO DES FARGES 1415 NEWBURY (treble) (unplaced = -£5.00)
He is two from two here, and if he reproduces that or his Cheltenham run back in October he will win is easily in my opinion. The concern is his last two runs which have been a little poor to be honest. He's been dropped 2lbs by the handicapper to OR140 and that is still a mark he hasn't won off. However, the opposition are the key; there Re no young upstarts here! Horses his own age or older are there to be taken! Horses for courses – he should run well today!
 
KELVINGROVE 1510 DONCASTER (unplaced = -£5.00)
BATAVIR is a decent horse but can he win three on the bounce after a 13lb hike form win one, I dont think so. My selection ran well when beaten by a short head by PULL THE CHORD in January and was then upped in trip at Haydock and ran well in a good race. The key for me here again is the ground. I think he will improve loads for the better ground, having won on good to firm on the flat!
 
My Dad's selections are :
KINGS GREY 1400 DONCASTER (UR = -£5.00)
BALLYOLIVER 1415 NEWBURY (unplaced = -£5.00)
BENNYS MIST 1525 NEWBURY (2nd -9-1 = £5.62)
DROP OUT JOE 1545 DONCASTER (2nd – 9-2 = £2.81)
 
Standings
Father 7-7 Son
Profit
Father -£52.64
Son £150.49
 

Cheltenham Happy New Year

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Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’re ready for the celebrations this evening, I thought I would do the blog on New Year’e Eve as tomorrow morning we all may have a slight headache! Whatever you are doing tonight, enjoy yourselves and immerse yourself with the people you care about. I wish you all a prosperous and healthy 2015, with many a success from our old foe the bookmaker.

Well I hope everyone has had a wonderful festive period with their loved ones. I know it bloody knackered me as always. I thought I would start the new year with a look back at 2014 and my racing highlights. The number one best thing for the Bandit this year was to finally own a very small share in a racehorse. I can only but thank @ianmallard for this and his efforts with #teamchoochoo. It’s a great venture to be part of and to see a horse you have bit in not only run, but win was a great feeling. I know we have got even bigger plans for the future, bring it on! Make sure you give Ian a follow, top fella and knows his racing!

My second highlight has to be HOLYWELL winning again at Cheltenham. The horse has always been close to my heart especially after I napped him to win at Cheltenham the other year on this blog. Here was the write up – Holywell – I hope he has the credentials to compete in the Gold Cup this year but I think his jumping needs to shape up a bit first!

My final thought for the year was that my old mate and favourite horse of all time TIDAL BAY got a happy retirement! What an enigmatic horse he was, I just wish Paul Nicholls would have had him from the start, I’m convinced he would have won a Gold Cup if he had. He won an Arkle, a Maghull Novices Chase, a Cleeve Hurdle, the Bet365 Gold Cup, the West Yorkshire Hurdle twice and not forgetting that awesome late burst in the Lexus Chase two years ago. He will always be a star for me, happy retirement old fella!

As I write the blog we are already looking on the horizon for the Cheltenham Festival, I think it is something like 10 weeks away, can’t bloody wait. One thing is for sure we will have some more racing treats before then.

I’m hoping the change in a year will change my fortune on here, I’ve been shockingly bad recently and can only apologise to my dedicated followers, my old man is currently whooping my arse in our little competition, tipping up EMPERORS CHOICE more recently too. So here’s to a change in fortunes!

The twitter gamble guys have opted for :

@TonytheTyke Arctic Court 1520 Catterick

@Fernando_RFC2 Zeroshadesofgrey 1210 Cheltenham

@LiamKenniford Ptit Zig 1320 Cheltenham

@DazGilbert1 Diocles 1355 Cheltenham

Here are my selections for New Year’s Day :

MON PARRAIN 1245 CHELTENHAM (NAP) (WON 25-1 = £78.12)

This guy ran a creditable race when I tipped him up in the Becher Chase last time. He jumped very well and Ryan Mahon looked after him once the race was over for him. That can be a stepping stone to success for me in this race. He has been dropped another 2 lbs to a mark of OR142. He drops down a grade and off top weight has every chance with the very talented Sean Bowen taking 5lbs off his back. Top weights normally do well in races like this and I think he will run a big race and jump soundly on ground that will be up his street. The one that really worries me is CADEAU GEORGE, he has been raised 12lbs for his defeat of KNOCKANRAWLEY last time. That horse has franked the form too winning at Newbury the other day, he could be a real improver!

PTIT ZIG 1320 CHELTENHAM (NB) (WON Evs = £4.06)

Won so impressively last time, gaining his third chase success in a row! His jumping was quick and immaculate and he put the well touted JOSSES HILL to the sword. His rival today is CHAMPAGNE WEST who conversely didn’t look that great last time and was made to work a bit for his success. My selection is rated 5lbs better off on the ratings with a mark of OR157 yet they meet here on level weights too. Another solid round of jumping should boost his ankle credentials even further!

CAID DU BERLAIS 1355 CHELTENHAM (TREBLE) (3rd – 5-1 = £3.12)

Was running well in behind when he slipped on landing and was pulled up in the Fish Egg Gold Cup. I really fancied him that day as I was so taken aback by how he won the Paddy Power Gold Cup previously. I really think this horse is one to follow and will produce even better displays. Therefore I have to go with him again. I’m interested too in how SPLASH OF GINGE runs, he was just building a challenge in said Fish Egg Gold Cup when falling. ROLLING ACES is one of my horses I always follow and he ran very well when in behind WISHFUL THINKING earlier in the season, a reproduction of that will give him a sniff, but to be honest I think he is handicapped to his best at the moment.

ROCK ON RUBY 1505 CHELTENHAM (WON 5-2 = £7.81)

Now this is a race! Barring HINT OF MINT a case can be made for all of them. BEAT THAT has potentially the best recent form in the locker with his defeat of DON POLI at Punchestown in April. That one has since won two chases inclusion a Grade One at Leopardstown the other day. BEAT THAT must run well. Both SILSOL and VANITEUX are young pretenders to the throne, with the latter never really impressing me as yet. SILSOL however has impressed me with his ability and attitude and like my selection, he likes a fight! However, class is class and what can you not say about my horse, he is rated superior to most of these and showed now that this trip is more up his street as age catches up to him. He still has his smooth hurdling style and his big heart and over a favourite course he could be hard to peg back. All aboard!!!

My Dad’s selections I will add tomorrow before I re-post the blog.

Current standings

Father 5-3 Son

Profit

Father -£2.16

Son £74.50

Tingle Creek Day

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The Bandit hasn’t got the time to write an in-depth blog today. Taking my girls swimming, daddy duties call! Its been a busy old week with no other than OFSTED rolling up to the Bandit’s workplace! We had some positive news however!

The Twiiter gamble from my fellow horse aficionados is below and I will update it later today

@DazGilbert1 GODS OWN 1500 SANDOWN

@TonytheTyke LIGHTENIN ROD 1310 WETHERBY

@LiamKenniford DORMELLO MO 1425 SANDOWN

@Fernando_RFC2 BAILEYS CONCERTO 1300 SANDOWN

My selections today are as follows :

MON PARRAIN 1330 AINTREE (NAP)(unplaced = -£5.00) what a ridiculous price this fella is. Ran really well here when second a couple of years ago and I had him when he won well at Cheltenham. His recent spin will have brought him on loads and I’ve always thought he was a proper horse. The slightly better ground will hep him too.

HINTERLAND 1500 SANDOWN (NB) – (3rd 12-1 = £7.50) this horse I have always liked too and he has been a bit hit and miss lately. Nicholls has a great record in this and Fehily on board is a real plus. He likes it here and I think he will run a big race.

HOLYWELL 1440 AINTREE (TREBLE) – (FELL = -£5.00) my old favourite! His recent spin at Carlisle will have sharpened him up and with Richie back on board he will taker this today despite the stable being a bit quiet.

ROLLING ACES 1515 AINTREE (4th 8-1 = £4.50) ran a cracker last time behind WISHFULL THINKING and I said then to lump on the next time he is out. Drops in class and will take the beating in this today!

My dads selections are :

Dormello Mo 1425 Sandown (unplaced = -£5.00)

Somersby (2nd 8-1 = £4.50)

Rebel Rebellion (unplaced = -£5.00)

Emperors Choice 1535 Sandown (unplaced =-£5.00)

Standings

Father 2-2 Son

Profit

Father -£22.76

Son £10.63