At Ayr this weekend there is a plethora of huge field handicaps to get our teeth stuck into with the Bronze, Silver and Gold Cup (the showpiece event). There are lots of things to consider when trying to negotiate the minefield of horses and for me the most important factor is the going. Ayr was cancelled on Thursday and had an inspection on Friday fue to the very heavy ground so going is going to be tough. A far cry from the good to firm ground at Doncaster last weekend. For that reason I am siding with Mirza and Alben Star in the Gold Cup. Mirza’s form is a bit inconsistent and inevitably for a 25/1 shot there are some frailties however the bulk of his good form has come on soft ground. Recently tried in group company after two wins at this level in a row he is notably down in class and I think his price is too big. Alben Star is pretty unexposed and is also a value each way option at 20/1. He won on soft ground at Haydock over this trip and is also worth keeping on side with a saver
In the Bronze cup it seems ludicrous not to back the stalwart Cheveton. Read More…
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Fast ground is the key to today’s horse racing action and I have a trio of bets advised from 3 different tracks
1) Bated Breath goes in search of his first group 1 at hay dock in the sprint cup. All the 4/1 has gone and with Manson pulling out yesterday 7/2 looks inviting enough if he reproduces last years effort
2) Snow fairy is given the vote to topple nathaniel at leopardstown in the Irish champion today. She is only about 2/1 but I would also advise an ante post punt on her for the arc as she is amazingly still about 20′s
3) primeval represents a trainer in james fanshawe who is an expert in big runner handicaps. Back on firm ground and 7 furlongs 9/1 is too big
1pt patent bated breath, snow fairy and primeval
Before I preview today, a tip of the cap to the two stables I highlighted on Tuesday as likely to come to the party at Royal Ascot. John Gosden I quoted as being able “to win with the stable cat” and he really put himself on the Royal Ascot map with a treble yesterday. I thought Gatewood would win and I am pleased for William Buick who has to be one of the top jocks around at the moment.
Roger Varian picked up his first Royal Ascot winner since taking the reigns as a trainer. Eton Forever ran a cracker and Varian was understandably chuffed, he has no more runners at Ascot now so he managed to score with his last runner of the week.
We however have one more day left so lets see how we get on…
Race 1 – Chesham
Jalaa has been the subject of some very positive noises by the Richard Hannon team and it is with some confidence that the selection is tipped up in the first raced of the day. Most of these horses have very little experience and it remains to be seen who emerges in the future. Hannon is normally very shrewd with his two year olds and in Jalaa he might have a reals star.
1pt E/W win Jalaa @ 4/1
Race 2 – Hardwicke
As soon as I saw the runners for this card Aiken leapt off the page. Great form, hot stable, course, distance and ground all suit. He has a huge chance. Sea Moon is an obvious danger and I suspect these two will battle it out, however Aiken doesn’t seem to know how to lose and after an impressive run in France this could turn out to be his best victory yet.
1pt E/W Aiken @ 4/1
Race 3 – Diamond Jubilee
Black Caviar is clearly very very good and I am not silly enough to oppose her, however I suspect her dominance and the quest to defeat her might drill some horses into submission leaving some longer priced horses to sneak a place. If Mayson or Tiddliwinks were running today I suspect their price would be around 20/1 possibly even shorter given their victories this year. The horse who chased them home in his last two races finishing second both times was Jimmy Styles. He may not be a group 1 performer but he is in form and 125-1 looks enormous to run into a place.
Advice 1pt e/w Jimmy Styles @ 125-1c (or rather than wasting the money on the win bet possibly backing to place on the tote or Betfair might be more advised)
Race 4 – Wokingham
Well this is a very tricky race indeed and having picked out Deacon Blues last year the pressure is on! Annoyingly one of my selections has been “pricewised”. Waffle chased Deacon Blues home last year and surely a repeat would see him win the race this year. His price has subsequently contracted and there seems less value in backing him in his recent run of form. The shortlist has been quite long and difficult to wittle down. 4 and 5 year olds tend to dominate this race and as Deacon Blues proved last year there is often a group class sprinter hiding in the handicap company. Medicean Man is that horse this year but he isn’t hiding very well. His impressive 4th in the kings stand on Tuesday shows he can mix it in Group 1 company! That will easily be good enough to win this even if he is up a furlong but has no penalty and I still think I will pick him as the “class” horse to potentially triumph. The draw has been very important this week and in particular where the pace is. The rumour is the race is likely to be less of a cavalry charge and more circumspect and that won’t suit the hold up horses. I though Secret Witness was a huge price at 40-1 but he might have already shown his best this year. All the horses I like are drawn high which is concerning as I like one in each group. The high horses are consitent performer Mac’s Power who will win won of these one day! His price again is shorter than I would like so we will just have a little saver on him. Scarf is my high pick and Colonel Mak is my low pick. I toyed with several of the high numbers but in the end a front running performance from Scarf might land the spoils despite my reservations on Godolphins sprinters. Colonel Mak is a tentative selection but his low draw and high price tick a few boxes.
1 pt Win Medicean Man @ 14/1
1 pt Win Mac’s Power @ 14/1
0.5 pt E/W – Colonel Mak @20/1
0.5pt E/W – Scarf @ 16/1
Race 5 – Duke of Edinburgh
Anatolian was game in defeat to James Fanshawe’s High Jinx last time out and that form looks worthy of support. As does Spanish Duke who has only run twice at this trip and was most impressive latest when running third at Epsom to Fiery Lad who was considered but the ground looks to be against him.
1 pt E/W Spanish Duke @ 14/1
1 pt E/W Anatolian @ 11/1
Race 6 -
In the last Overturn is a horse I really admire and very versatile but this trip but be slightly too long for Donald McCain’s gutsy dual purpose winner. Simenon is clearly well respected after hacking up over course and distance on Tuesday. Swingkeel won this last year and clearly has been primed for this again and he might warrant some each way support. Preference is for Petara Bay on the basis his form suggests this isn’t the race for him yet he is being widely tipped up and his price is shorter than I would expect.
1pt win – Simenon @ 7/2
0.5 pts E/W – Petara bay @ 14/1
Day 3 – After a ‘Princely’ 20-1 winner tipped up on Day 2 don’t miss the Ladies Day Lowdown from Sports Leviathan
t has a been a tough Royal Ascot so far however Prince of Johanne – Advised at 20/1, restored some pride today to land the 4th tip 2 days. The 3 previous winning bets were priced up at 6/1 , 15/2 and 16/1 (all placed) and it was nice to see a big price winner cruise home today. On a personal note the Royal Hunt cup is one of the trickiest races all season so I was chuffed to nail the winner.
A few of my friends have been a little dismayed with the tipping this week and I can understand their sentiments after such a good year last year. A ten pound bet on all my horses tipped up so far yields a profit of £50 so far so although sometimes it feels like a scattergun approach the profits are coming…Keep the faith
Day 3 – Ladies Day
Race 1 – Norfolk Stakes
I don’t have a strong opinion in this race as the two year olds are always a tricky prospect, especially over the minimum trip. Last year my biggest regret was not backing Lolly for Dolly when everyone else in my family seemed to on the basis of my sisters nickname. No such jibes this year as I am getting on Mister Marc. My son is named using the less common spelling and subsequently the Hannon trained horse received my support on its winning debut. Hannon is in great form and Mister Marc’s reappearance saw him run into Dawn Approach who won well yesterday so that certainly hasn’t put me off, if anything its made his case stronger. The drop in trip might be a concern however he was leading after 5 in both his first races so he clearly has good speed…C’mon Mister Marc!
1 pt win – Mister Marc @ 7/1 Stan James
Race 2 – Ribblesdale
I am a huge fan of The Fugue and considering his unlucky run in a unsatisfactory oaks I would be shocked if she doesn’t prove she is the real deal tomorrow. I suspect Vow will follow her home however The Fugue looks gutsy and full of class and she will probably get her ground tomorrow so all in all a confident vote.
3pts win – The Fugue @ 2/1 Stan James
Race 3 – Gold Cup
I must admit to having backed Fame and Glory to win this at 3/1 a long time ago and I have no intention of changing my view. Opinion Poll who chased him home last year appears to have improved and in Saddlers Rock I see a really decent test for Fame and Glory. At the current prices I think Saddlers Rock looks value at 9/2 and think a combination tricast on Fame and Glory / Saddlers Rock and Opinion Poll could be a play here to keep things interesting.
0.2 points – Combination Tricast
Race 4 – Britannia
Another very tricky race but we struck gold with Prince of Johanne so lets try and decipher another taxing 30 runner field to find a winner! The shortlist looks like Fast or Free, Trader Jack, Born to Surprise, Frog Hollow and Bronze Angel. The latter two get the for the following reasons. Frog Hollow ran a decent race last time out in the Silver Bowl at Haydock. He was hampered on the run in and the cut in the ground might help this horse travel a bit better than the firm ground did that day. The one I am quite sweet on is Bronze Angel. Marcus Tregonning is canny trainer and is the sort of an to bring horses to the boil at the right time. Bronze Angel won last time out beating Lady’s First at Doncaster. The same Lady’s First ran today in a class 1 listed handciap and finished 3rd. Bronze Angel runs tomorrow in a class two handicap and is 20/1. That seems very fair to me and thats where my money will be.
1pt E/W Frog Hollow @ 11/1 Betfred
1pt E/W Bronze Angel @ 20/1 Betfred
Race 5 – The Tercentenary Stakes or Hampton Court
Kahlid Abdullah is mob handed with good horses and although my preference is with Starboard I can’t help but be swayed by a horse of much longer odds. Energizer finished a close 4th to Caspar Netcher in the German Guineas. Although that form hasn’t worked out brilliantly this week it is still group level form in the book and at 14/1 I think he is very overpriced and worth a punt each way.
1pt E/W Energizer @ 14/1
Race 6 – King George V
The race on the card is proabably the most competitive and subsequently the most difficult. I am shocked Rougemont has held his ground taking these horses on with in most cases over a stone more on his back. The two reasons I ca think are 1) Richard Hannon really thinks he can win and subsequently Richard Hughes – No 1 jock gets the leg up. Or posssibly more likely is 2) it allows improving Pilgrims Rest to creep in at the bottom of the handicap off 8 stone a stone and a half lighter than his stable mate and for that reason Pilgrims rest gets the verdict at odds of 16/1/
1pt E/W – Pilgrims Rest @ 16/1 Stan James
As I explained in the last post this preview may have several limitations:
1) It is being written on Monday night as tomorrow evening is clearly earmarked for more pressing matters, therefore the selections, particulalrly in the big runner fields will have no insight into draw bias.
2) I’m not 100% sure of the going, I suspect it will be on the easy side of good.
3) Some of the selections may be non runners.
4) I will have no idea about how my selections ran in the first day, as that is tomorrow, so by this time I may have had a series of losers and the reader volume may be slim!
However if you can cope with all of that here’s the preview of day 2:
Race 1 – Jersey Stakes
Regular readers will know my feelings on Roger Varian’s horses and he could well have a double on his hands on day 2 of the Royal Meeting. Aljamaheer is in great form winning well in a listed race last time out at Newmarket. There are a few interesting things with this form. Firstly the horse beaten into second was The Nile a typical John Gosden imrprover. The Nile has been chosen by William Buick as his number one ride in the St James Palace, choosing him over yestedays selection Fencing. The Nile is clearly held in high regard and Almajaheer saw him off comfortably last time out. The concern is the ground . Hannagan tweeted today he has a huge chance unless the ground is too soft. I am going to post him up as the selection as I still believe he can get the job done. In light of the selections potential frailties a saver is advised on Boomerang Bob. This fella will like the cut in the ground and races most effectively on softish ground over 7furlongs. You can put a line through his last race where he didn’t act that well on firm ground. That leaves his 1 length loss to Caspar Netcher a subsequent group 2 winner in Germany. That form looks pretty good against some of these market contenders. He ran in the guineas finishing 9th of 14 on his side 11th overall. Before the guineas he was being touted as a live outsider. Some of the form of the main protagonists isn’t that great and Boomerang Bob at 20/1 looks good value.
1pt E/W Aljamaheer @ 15/2 Paddy Power
1pt E/W Boomerang Bob @ 20/1 Paddy Power
Race 2 – Windsor Forest
In my opinion this looks a cracking little race with some exciting fillies in the line up. Emulous’s victory in Matron stakes is probably the stand out piece of form in the book beating Irish 1000 Guineas 1 and 2 Misty for Me and Together impressively. Other horses to mention are Chaichamadee who bolted up at Lingfield on Trial day but that race hasn’t worked out and the opposition look relatively weak in hindsight. Captivator ran with aplomb behind Izzi Top in softish conditions at HQ however the two I really like are Clinical and Nahrain. The vote confidently goes to the latter. Clinical impressed me at Epsom but the Nahrain is a seriously classy horse who is probably the star of Roger Varian’s stable. She is versatile winning over 8 and 10 furlongs on ground Good to firm, good to soft and good. Her group 1 win in France was excellent albeit over 2 furlongs shorter than this. The fear is first time out this shorter test might be too much but there is no way Varian would chance his prize asset by putting her out fresh if she wasn’t ready. Granted she is probably being aimed for another tilt at the Fillies and Mares turf where she lost her unbeaten tag narrowly last term. But I think she looks overpriced and hope she can return in style.
3 pts Win – Nahrain @ 9/2
Race 3 – Prince of Wales
Cirrus Des Aigles disappointing defection has made this race much less interesting. It looks likely So You Think will win again. I am never that impressed with SYT but it usually manages to find a way to win which I suppose is an admirable quality. I can’t really make my mind up as the form is very confusing. Planteur is the one I quite want to be on but he is terribly inconsistent and doesn’t seem to run well at Ascot. On last years form he is held by SYT but he did beat him to 3rd in the Dubai World Cup. Since then he has ran close to Cirrus Des Aigles. Overall at 10/1 I’m not 100%. I would probably rather back last years 3rd Sri Putra who is 50/1. The field looks distinctly average for such a big race and whilst there could be a big race in Planteur or even a huge improvement from Farhh lets have a small stakes punt on Sri Putra running into a place again.
.5 point e/w Sri Putra
Race 4 – Royal Hunt Cup
I could write an essay on horses chances in this race. The one I really like is Dimension but there is literally no value around. 10/1 sounds decent but in such a difficult race I can let him go begrudgingly. He may even have a poor draw we don’t know… I am keen to search out more value. I am going to select one from a high draw and one from a low draw. Four year olds have a great record in this race winning all of the last 5 runnings. Cai Shen has the draw of number 1, is 4 years old and is trained by Richard Hannon. Ticks in all boxes and gets the nod at 16/1. Prince of Johanne is in the form of his life and the neck loss to Fury looks great form coming in here. 20/1 looks a good price and thats my second selection draw on the other extreme in 33. Because of Cai Shen’s lack of experience in big runner handicaps I am going to put a 3rd selection up and seeing as some firms are paying up to 5 places it can still be profitable. Mull of Killough is the final selection after an excellent second in the Lincoln. I backed him that day and he couldn’t have been more unlucky as the jockey really cost him the race.
1pt E/W – Cai Shen @ 16/1
1pt E/W – Prince of Johanne @ 20/1
1pt E/W – Mull of Killough @ 20/1
Race 5 – Queen Mary
Another tricky race with no show of prices at the time of writing but Mironica won nicely on debut justifying market support and with some eyecatching entries she makes most appeal of a difficult race to work out.
1pt win Mironica @ SP
Race 6 - Sandringham
In the last, again there are no price shows however the one I like is Kinetica. Unraced this term having ran well in the autumn last year particularly in France. Luke Morris will win a race this week I am sure and lets hope it is aboard Sir Mark Prescott’s Kinetica who looks set to run in group company again this year and this listed race could be a real springboard for her.
1 pt Win Kinetica @ SP
It is that time of year again, my favourite week in the racing calendar, Royal Ascot. There are many great racing festivals and undoubtedly Cheltenham provides the National Hunt lovers with its premier event. On the Flat however Ascot takes centre stage and having grown up in Ascot and the Royal meeting a regular in my personal calender it is obviously my favourite…and I gather the Queen’s too.
Last year we had a very successful meeting on this site tipping up close to double figures in terms of winning bets and plucking out some nice double figure winners including Prohibit in the Kings stand and Deacon Blues in the Wokingham – two of the more tricky races. Today’s installment focuses primarily on day 1 (Tuesday) and due to England commitments on Tuesday night I may well have to put Wedesdays piece up soon too.
M rationale at Ascot this year is to look at several things; 1) Trainers in form 2) Forms of the horses isn’t everything 3) the going and its softer than usual nature.
1) Trainers like John Gosden have a very strong stable this year and with his excellent stable jockey William Buick firing in the winners I think they could probably win with the stable cat at the moment. Their combination strike rate is 45% that is impressive. Take note. Richard Hannon’s horses are also hot at the moment too and I’m really keen to be on side with 2 jockeys in particular. Ryan Moore is a superstar and I think he has some decent mounts and Luke Morris a very impressive young claimer could produce the biggest win of his career if he gets a decent ride taking weight off in the big runner handicaps. Regaular followers know how enamored I am with Roger Varian and in particular horses owned my Hamdan al Maktoum. Varian’s horses always go well at Ascot and he has some very interesting runners this week
2) Lots of horses are trained with Ascot in mind and subsequently may not have won last time out…especially in the big runner races. Horses with winning form are often the shortest odds but there is plenty of value to be had with horses looking to be brought to the boil by canny trainers on the big day.
3) Normally Royal AScot is a hot week and the ground is Good or Good to Firm. Currently it is Good, Good to Soft in places. There is a little more rain forecast but Ascot’s new straight has excellent drainage and I expect that to be Good ground come Tuesday. Having said that the ground will have a bit of cut in it and I suspect a few french raiders – who appreciate the surface will go well this week.
Race 1 – Queen Anne
The Awesome Frankel is back and unbackable for me at 1-6 and I’m sure he will win however there could be value elsewhere. Excellebration is certainly value at 6-1 E/W as he nearly always chases Frankel home and so that looks like a decent bet. I also like Helmet. An Aussie import who has raced in France and at 33-1 e/w also appeals
1pt E/W – Helmet @ 33/1
3pts E/W – Excellebration @ 6/1
.5pts Tricast – Frankel / Excellebration / Helmet
Race 2 – Kings Stand
A real tough nut this year. I was pretty impressed with Bated Breath in the Duke of York and the way he and Sole Power moved well clear was a good marker for this. However that was on very quick ground and I’m not they both will be terribly suited by this ground. Someone who will is the French Sprinter Wizz Kid and he looks my idea of the winner. I also like Tangerine Trees who is a real pacesetter who has won big races in France. If he gets a good start and the ground is soft he will be tough to peg back. His trainer was adamant this has been his main target I will stick with those two.
1pt E/W Wizz Kid @ 6/1
1pt E/W Tangerine Trees @ 25/1
Race 3 – St James Palace
I’m happy to take Power on in this race. His Irish Guineas win doesn’t fill me with confidence. Sure it was impressive but the race was muddled and at the prices he’s well worth taking on. Primarily with Lucayan who I can’t believe is still 10/1 following his French Guineas victory. Originally I was keen on Dragon Pulse however when you consider he was comfortably beaten that day by Lucayan and they are the same price I am keen to stick with the horse with a group 1 win in the book. A little saver is needed on Fencing – mainly because of the Gosden/Buick factor. Fencing has ran creditably this year in the English Guineas and then the Dante. He didnt get home at York and a drop back to a mile should really suit this horse who is held in high esteem by many who know what they are talking about.
1pt E/W Lucayan @ 10/1
1pt E/W Fencing @ 12/1
Race 4 -Coventry Stakes
This race for 2 year olds often follows a similar theme. There is normally a real superstar in the field. Power, Strong Suit, Canford Cliffs and Henrythenavigator have all won this in the last 5 years. However it isn’t always the winner who is the real top drawer horse as 2 yr olds often take time to develop. Holy Roman Emperor illustrated that when 15th in this race before winning group 1′s in France and Ireland and running superstar Teofilo to a head. Despite Power’s victory last year it is clear Richard Hannon is the king of turning out great 2 year olds and in Sir Prancealot it looks like he has another cracker. Very impressive when destroying the field at Sandown a few weeks ago and at 6-1 he’s where my moneys going.
3pts win Sir Prancealot @ 6/1
Race 5 -Ascot Stakes
Last year I tipped up Veiled to win this and he duly obliged. This year he is twice the price! This is a difficult market to really make a justified case but given that Course and Distance form is crucial and horses that win races regualrly come back the next year and defend their crown I like Veiled at 10/1 to give us a good run.
1 pt E/W Veiled @ 10/1
Race 6 – Windsor Castle
I must confess to not having really got a strong opinion in this race. Hannon is mob handed with runners and O’Brien has brought one over from his army of good horses at ballydoyle. However the one horse I have seen run this year is Dylanbaru. He has run 4 times and although he’s only won his maiden but his last race was very impressive and Tommy Stack is a shrewd operator. I’m not sure what price he will start at but for a small stakes bit of interest in the lucky last lets hope he can illustrtate he is still on an upward curve.
1pt E/W Dylanbaru @ SP
The BBC in their last year of Grand National coverage has opted for the Melbourne Cup “ The race that stops a nation” approach to their coverage and to some extent this is true. It has become engrained into the psyche of our nations society that its fine to have a bet on Grand National day and many allow their only gamble for the whole year on the Aintree spectacular so lets hope we can pick out the winner.
The John Smiths Grand National is probably Britain’s premier horse race from many perspectives; A marathon distance of 4 miles plus, higher and more difficult obstacles than other courses, tradition, heritage, 40 runners and an 80,000 crowd all contribute to a fantastic spectacle which encapsulates even the least likely of people, persuading them to part with a little £1 each way or at least pull a name out in a sweepstake.
In some ways however it isn’t a premier horse race. It is only a grade 3 race and is just a handicap. This in essence ensures that the best horse doesn’t’necessarily win due to the weight differences the horses have to carry. Horse number 1 carries the most weight as in all handicaps and number 40 the least. Therefore technically the number 1 horse is the best horse in the race with the quality of the horses descending until you reach number 40 the weakest horse (based on ratings). However for many reasons this isn’t always the case. Without going into too much detail the real skill is to try and pick a horse out who is carrying a light enough weight to be capable of winning but also one who is actually good enough to win.
This year the quality of the field could not be stronger. For the first time in a long time the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup (Britain’s elite steeplechase) lines up at Aintree. It also consists of 2 previous winners, a Welsh national first and second and a Gold cup third so in many ways this is the strongest renewal of the Grand National in terms of quality and ratings. This may put to the sword the stat followers (as I will outline below) as it seems it is becoming increasing easier to finish the course and in the examples of Don’t Push it and Hedgehunter win off heavier weights. The bottom line is as the entrants for this handicap race are becoming classier; it makes it increasingly difficult for the handicapper to get it right.
Age – Ten of the last 13 winners were aged 9 or 10 and no horse since 1940 has won aged 7 or for 87 years there hasn’t been a winner older than 12. The optimum age is 9 or 10 with 0 of the first 10 home last year younger than 9. If we stick with this lets rule out any horse not between 8-12
40 – Black Appalachi
39 – Organised Confusion
38 – Tharawaat
37 – Viking Blond
If we also eliminate all the 8 year olds (this could be risky but we are trying to narrow it down from 40)
36- Alfa Beat (NB I will make his case later as a possible exception)
35 – Tatenen
34 – Shakalakaboomboom
33 – On his own
32 – Quiscover Fontaine
Weight – Obviously in such a long race the weight allowance on the horses back will eventually take its toll. Since the war only 5 Grand Nationals have ben won by horses carrying more than 11st 5lbs. Red rum was the last horse to do so back in 1977. Don’t push it did manage to win off 11st 5lb though two years ago and Hedgehunter (11st 1lb) and Ballabriggs (11st) have also won off 11stone plus but it is a tough ask. This is more difficult to assess this year with Synchronised showing up but at his odds I am prepared to say we are looking for a horse with a weight lower than 11stone.
Therefore we lose..
31 – Synchronised
30 – Ballabriggs
29 – Weird Al
28 – Neptune Collonges
27 – Calgary Bay
26 – Planet of Sound
25 – Deep Purple
24 – Junior
With this years races being the classiest in history with the lowest horse rated 137 and the highest 161 more horses than ever are in with a shout.
Stamina – Obviously in such a long race it pays to side with a horse that has won a race over 3 miles and therefore can potentially last the marathon test the Grand National delivers
Also out are..
23 – Vic Venturi
22 – In Compliance
I am also going to discount those who won poor races based on the amount of prize money. A bit of class is needed to win this race.
21 – Always Waining (has won valuable races but not at 3m plus)
20 – Swing Bill
19 – Postmaster
18 – Midnight Haze
There are lots of horses that have won a 3m chase and with the ground likely to be soft I am looking to further whittle the field down by looking for soft ground winners or those who have won at 3 and a half miles or further. I am also going to eliminate those who haven’t won in the last year.
17 – Seabass (never run further than 3 miles)
16 – Rare Bob (won once in last 2 years and not since last Jan)
15 – Treacle (won a very weak race in October and no real staying form)
14 – Becauseicouldntsee (hasn’t won for 2 years)
13 – State of Play (hasn’t won for four years and only runs in this race these days)
12 – Chicago Grey (Hasn’t won on soft ground over 2 and a half miles)
This leaves us with a not so short list of eleven that make relatively strong appeal and the further shortening will be more based on opinion than statistics.
I am really liking the form of the Welsh, Scottish and indeed English Grand National in trying to look for this years winner. Immediately though I am going to rule out
11 – Mon Mome (a past winner of this but not the force of old)
This leaves West End Rocker, According to Pete, Always right, Cappa Bleu, The Midnight Club, Arbor Supreme, Sunnyhill Boy, Le Beau Bai, Killy Glen and Giles Cross. I am going to leave the two JP Macmanus horses alone because McCoy has obviously opted to ride Synchronised. This can sometimes be a mistake, especially as Sunnyhill Boy was impressive at Cheltenham but I suspect he was trained for that rather than this so we will lose him and old boy Arbor Supreme
10 – Arbor Supreme
9 – Sunnyhill Boy
I also don’t think the Midnight club has been trained with the maximum trip in mind and from trainer quotes this seems a bit of a shot at nothing so will let him slip by too.
8) The Midnight Club
The lack of ability I think rules out According to Pete. He wasn’t able to wrap up the Yorkshire Grand National when favourite over 3m 6f and although retaining some ability he doesn’t again look classy enough to trouble the others.
7) According to Pete
The remaining 6 all have lots in Common: Good national form, largely unexposed, good weight, definitely stay and act on soft ground.
6) Le Beau Bai – More exposed but won the Welsh national in a bottomless bog so will definitely stay. Maybe doesn’t have the pace to win this though.
I am willing to let Le Beau Bai fall at the last in our quest for a winner leaving the big 5 below:
5) Giles Cross – Acts in heavy and soft conditions. Has come second in two welsh nationals and won the Grand National trial last time out. Comes to Aintree with a huge chance. Largely unexposed for a 10 year old. Weight 10st 1llb Odds – 12/1
4) West End Rocker – Loves winning. Was brought down last year. Won at this course last time out over these fences in heavy ground. Very live contender. Weight 10 st 12lb Odds 11/1
3) Always Right - Impressive 3rd in last years Scottish National. Very unexposed for a 10 year old. Excellent record and conveniently pulled up in last two starts gives him a nice handicap mark. Weight 10 st 10lb Odds – 28/1
2) Killyglen – Won last time out but most importantly was going really well last year before falling 4 out. This indicates he probably stays and can jump well. Weight 10st 4lb Odds – 16/1
1) Cappa Bleu – Won this season, a good third in a very heavy Welsh National and again unexposed off a good weight. Weight 10st 10lb Odds 14/1
Summation: The above 5 horses are all worthy of each way support and if I had to again narrow it down I would probably have them in that order with 1 being my top pick. I have to admit to backing Cappa Bleu at 50/1 ante post so I will be cheering him on. I also like the prospects of Killyglen and Always Right and have them at 33/1. The odds are slightly different now and at the odds think Always Right still looks a good price. I am also going to have a sneaky each way bet on Alfa Beat at 40/1. Despite his age being against him I think he may be a big player in the Grand National in the future and would be disappointed if I missed out on him this time around (though I think the handicapper has given him a tough task with his weight).
A final word on Synchronised; The Gold cup is sure to have taken a lot out of him but this horse is one tough cookie. He has all the attributes of a national winner. Form in other nationals winning the Midlands and Welsh Nationals. Won over 4 miles in heavy and soft conditions and jumps very well. This season he has turned into a classier animal and won the Gold cup illustrating the speed to win. The big problem is his weight and at the price of 7/1 he is a very worthy favourite who ticks lots of boxes. If he wins he will go down as one of the most remarkable horses in my lifetime – The national and Gold Cup double is an outrageous feat especially given the amount of improvement he has found. I will applaud him in but I would rather back some of the others each way than risk a win bet on a horse with 11st 10lb on his back.
The 2012 turf flat season is finally here and it is an exciting time for racing fans. With the Grand National still on the horizon and the prep races for the early season classics around the corner we have an exciting overlap of jumping and flat racing to look forward to.
The traditional curtain raiser, the Lincoln, run at Doncaster is always a tricky conundrum with the draw as well as a lack of form making punting particularly tricky. Eton Forever who won the spring mile at this meeting last year is a worthy favourite for this blogs favourite flat trainer Roger Varian. Varian produced several winners for us last season however 6-1 seems a low in such a competitive race and despite shorter priced horses having a good record in the recent years 6 of the last 9 winners have been 10-1 or less I think there is more value to be found. Usually the money speaks wonders early season and Penitent the 2010 winner is a classic illustration opening at double figures and cruising home to score by 2 lengths at 3/1 fav. The horse which finished 3rd that year Mull of Killough is however my idea of a likely winner. Back in he winners enclosure already this year over a mile on the all weather and with course and distance form and VC bet still offering 16-1 I think that is a decent bet. There has been a fair bit of money around for this horse and I suspect it may shorten up again in the morning. It is also worth keeping an eye on the market becuase it often speaks volumes in these early season races. Read More…
With Sports Leviathan horse racing wing out of the country in sunnier climes this preview of Cheltenham has to come a little earlier than I would like (NB article written on Monday 5th March). Having made my own personal ante post bets and finding out some are losers before a horse has even run is very frustrating, however with most firms offering NR no bet concessions it seems an ideal time to dip our toe into Prestbury Parks’ prestigious waters.
Personally I think it is going to be a great festival for Willie Mullins the Irish Champ. His success is unrivalled at Galway’s festival meeting and it appears he is getting more of a stranglehold on the Cheltenham equivalent. The biggest problem is sifting through his minefield of runners particularly when we don’t know which race they are heading for. The second biggest problem is that his class is obviously no secret and subsequently prices are accordingly low. Hurricane Fly looks in imperious form but with 4/6 about him means he is difficult to back even if he is a banker. My advice with Mullins is don’t be put off by second or third choices (based on jockey bookings) particularly in big runner handicap hurdles or bumpers.
Shrewd female trainers is where a lot of my money heads and none are shrewder than Emma Lavelle, Lucinda Russell and Venetia Williams. With relatively small strings (in Lavelle’s case particulalrly) they seem to really find the right horses for the right races and I would urge their runners to be given a second look. Prices are often very kind and there are a few of Lavelle’s horses I think may go well this year. Nigel Twiston Davies has an excellent record over the past 5 years at the course and his +£43 level stakes profit is also worthy of note.
Aside from the obvious; Walsh. McCoy, Gerraghty et al who will no doubt contest many fierce finishers, keep your eyes out for Aiden Coleman. I have mentioned him on this site a few times and he continues to pop up at big prices in Saturday’s big handicap races. He rides for Venetia Williams who is also often represented by Sam Thomas. I think Coleman has a good Cheltenham win in his locker this year so keep your eyes peeled for his mounts. The same is true for Thomas and if he and Williams team up it can be a deadly combination, particulalrly in some of the less fashionable races. Paddy Brennan is also profitable to follow; in the past 5 years at Cheltenham over 269 rides he has a remarkable level stakes profit of +£65.19. Take note!
The Stewart family and their synonymous black and white colours have dominated winners enclosures (well certainly the World Hurdle one) for many years as have David Johnson’s green and blue silks. There is value at backing David Jonhsons’ horse who are often tough as old boots and seem to be more reasonably priced since Pipe junior took over the reigns. Over the past 5 years Johnson’s horses have a 13% win rate at Cheltenham with a levels stakes profit of +£23. There are a few of these horses I like this year. In the last year it is Mrs Diana Whateley’s navy and light blue colours, carried by Captain Chris, Menorah and Wishful Thinking that have had nearly a 30% win rate at the Gloucestershire track. There could be a diamond in the rough hiding in her star studded string.
For all the talk of trainers, jockeys and owners want all punters want to see is their horse cruising over the last still on the bridle and the jockey after the race describing their trip as a “push button ride” . Sadly it doesn’t always happen that way and the famous hill at Cheltenham is crucial in provide thrilling finishes. Using the logic presented earlier here are a few horses to keep your eye on – whichever race they run in!!
1) Sir Des Champs – This Willie Mullins horse looks mightily impressive. Unbeaten since arriving from France. Has won the last 6 on the bounce and is highly regarded by the yard. Probably will run in the Jewsons against Peddlers Cross but could also head for the RSA which indicates his ability.
2) Snap Tie – Been off the track for years but this wily old performer has been subject to a lot of interest and if he reproduces some of his old sparkle he will be right there again. Third in the supreme here in 2008 and could be a class act when he shows up
3) Fox Appeal – A big price but one of the types Emma Lavelle does so well with. Won nicely at Taunton last time out and crucially seems to like winning, This will be a step up but each way value around 25-1 looks great.
4) Steps to Freedom – Good bumper form coupled with a sensible and successful season so far. I think this horse has a great chance to be 2012 Supreme Novice.
5) Medermit – Gutsy and tough I fully expect Medermit to be there at the finish in the RyanAir. Whether Riverside Theatre is the same horse away from Ascot where he beat Medermit will be interesting but I would be happy to be backing this warrior in a duel.
6) Faasel – I have a real soft spot for this horse. Loves the festival, will like the quicker ground and will be great to see those bright red silks storming home late.
7) Houblon Des Obeux – Course and distance winner for Venetia Williams and likely to have AC on board.
8) Urbain De Sivola – Smallish yard and relatively unfashionable trainer…very talented horse. This adds up to a bit of value and a real chance at a big prize in the Triumph Hurdle.
Of the big races I can’t see past many of the favourites. Sprinter Scare looks likes a superstar and the way Peddlers Cross has bodyswerved the race illustrates how good other trainers think he is. The other 4 already are superstars and I can’t see Sizing Europe, Hurricane Fly, Big Bucks or Kauto Star losing given the strength of their recent form coupled with their course and distance wins last year. There normally is someone lurking in the wings to lower their colours but I can’t see them!
Arkle – Sprinter Sacre
Champion Hurdle – Hurricane Fly
Queen Mother Champion Chase – Sizing Europe
World Hurdle – 1) Big Bucks 2) Oscar Whiskey 3) Mourad
Gold Cup – Kauto Star
Firstly I would like to extend a big thank you to www.headersandvolleys.co.uk for an excellent portrayal of my bucket list. The list is up in its entirety, get involved and comment on what things in football you would like to do before you die.
This weekend there is a massive scoop 6 up for grabs so I will put up my speculative selections for those big races and for 2 quid you could be a millionaire, although don’t copy them as I don’t really want to be splitting the million pound pot out! Aside from that the two big races are the Tingle Creek at Sandown and the Becher Chase at Aintree. The Tingle Creek is usually a decent guide to the credentials of the Queen Mother challengers, with the champ himself, Sizing Europe on show. I am happy to take him on however with Kauto Stone. Read More…