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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster

Morning folks, we kick off the flat season today at Doncaster. I'm looking forward to the Lincoln Handicap in particular and also the Spring Mile. Here's today's Irish Independent article:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday's horse racing bets

Good morning all, looking forward to the Winter Derby at Lingfield. Here's today's Irish Independent article:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cheltenham Festival System results

Hi folks, before this year's festival I published a simple system which has made me quite a few bob down through the years.

There rules were simple enough:

* Race is a non-handicap at the Cheltenham Festival
* Horse is top rated on official ratings
* Horse won last time out
* Horse is favourite

This year, the profit was 1.98 pts to tradional SP and 2.82 pts to Betfair SP. I was lucky enough to be on Vautour too (7/2), which was favourite when I backed it just before the race but ended up joint fav with Irving so it wasn't officially a qualifier. Hope some of you made some money from it. This year's winners in bold:

Bobs Worth (IRE) Calipto (FR) Sire De Grugy (FR) Faugheen (IRE) Quevega (FR) Hurricane Fly (IRE).

Sire De Grugy:


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday's bets

Back down to earth after the Cheltenham Festival! Here's today's Irish Independent article:

FOLLOWING four days of absolutely top-class racing at the Cheltenham Festival, it's slightly depressing to flick through today's fixture list in which not a single graded race is scheduled. We are certainly back to basics today although money earned from betting at Uttoxeter buys exactly the same amount of pints of stout as money earned from Cheltenham and a nice winner or two today would certainly help ease the sense of deflation. We've also got the rugby to look forward to and some decent football matches on the box so it might not be such a bad day for punters after all. The feature race of the day is the Betfred Midlands Grand National (3.50 Uttoxeter) for which 18 horses go to post and the one that catches the eye is the David Bridgwater trained Wyck Hill, which should go off at an each-way price of 8/1 or thereabouts. A 4m1f race is not for the faint hearted, but the ten-year-old is the sole participant in the field proven at the distance, having won the Eider Chase at Newcastle last month by three-quarters of a length to Smoking Aces. He had dropped right down to 133 in the ratings beforehand but that Eider victory has seen his mark shoot back up to 141. That leaves him sitting third in the weights carrying 10st 6lbs this afternoon but his enthusiasm for a heavy slog at Newcastle suggests there's life in the old dog yet and he doesn't seem to have regressed with age. With 10 wins from 16 races, Harry Topper is also highly respected. Kim Bailey's seven-year-old has plenty of stamina and beat Al Ferof in the Denman Chase at Newbury last time although his jumping can be a bit suspect at times, and I've a feeling that the topweight burden of 11st 12lbs may be enough to hold him back over this distance.
At Fontwell, West Cork Flash looks overpriced at 7/2 in the 32red Casino Handicap Chase (2.30). He finished eight lengths behind Itoldyouso in a handicap chase here last month but an aggressive ride by Richard Johnson that day didn't do him any favours. He's been left on the same mark and a more patient ride by Jamie Moore here might just do the trick.
On the all-weather at Wolverhampton, Arrowzone can finally register his first win after eight attempts in the five-runner Median Auction Maiden Stakes (7.40). He showed some promise when placed in a couple of nurseries on the turf in October and I'm willing to forgive his latest flop at Doncaster in which he finished last of nine runners. It was clear from the get-go that he wasn't keen to race at all and he was possibly a little tired after a busy late-summer campaign. That poor showing at Doncaster has been factored into the odds and I reckon 3/1 is not a bad price now that he's had a nice break for the winter. Likely favourite Big Orange (11/10) is sure to present a challenge. A son of Duke Of Marmalade, Michael Bell's gelding progressed well from his debut when finishing mid-way down the field in a decent enough maiden at Newmarket back in October. 

THE ROMFORD PELE is entitled to be favourite for the Kempton Park Betdaq Silver Bowl Handicap Chase (3.30) but this looks quite competitive and Rebecca Curtis' seven-year-old is too short for me at 4/1. Instead, a chance is taken each-way on 14/1 shot Saved By John from Tim Vaughan's yard. He shaped well after ten weeks off when fifth in a handicap chase at Chepstow last time out and now eased 2lbs, he's entitled to go close. 

RUGBY:  FRANCE have beaten Ireland in 11 of the past 14 meetings of the pair and as we all know, Ireland have a  poor record in Paris with just two wins in 42 years. However France haven't been firing on all cylinders in this championship and Ireland are tipped to just about edge this evening's encounter at 10/11. The Irish know that the best way to honour Brian O'Driscoll would be to win the Six Nations, and the sense of occasion can help see them through today.
RACING: THE Roger Varian trained Jaahiez keeps improving with every race and he managed to beat the odds-on Premium Pressure to lose the maiden tag at Lingfield last time. He's been given a mark of 72 for his first handicap but he looks like one that can progress and early odds of 4/1 seem generous for the 32Red Handicap at Lingfield this afternoon. (4.0)

2.30 Fontwell: West Cork Flash
3.30 Kempton: Saved By John (e/w)
3.50 Uttoxeter: Wyck Hill (e/w)
4.40 Kempton: Andy Kelly
5.25 Fontwell: Solstice Son
7.10 Wolverhampton: Jaahiez
7.40 Wolverhampton: Arrowzone


Friday, March 14, 2014

Cheltenham Festival Betting: Friday

IT goes without saying that it takes an absolutely top class chaser to win the Gold Cup (3.20) and if proof of that was somehow needed, you'd simply have to look back through the results of each race since the turn of the century to prove the point. Excluding War Of Attrition (2006), all Gold Cup winners had a BHA rating of 166 or higher and while there are never any certainties in this game, it makes perfect sense to concentrate on horses with a similar profile today - namely Bobs Worth (180), Silviniaco Conti (177) and Last Instalment (170).  A lot of races at the Festival are about up-and-coming improvers but the Gold Cup is the opposite, and revolves around established Grade One performers at the top of their game. In some ways, that makes it one of the most straight-forward races of the festival. We've seen that reflected in the betting where punters have done well in recent years and each of the last 13 Gold Cup winners could be found in the top three in the market. In short, it pays to keep it simple and there's absolutely no reason to oppose last year's winner Bobs Worth which is 3lbs clear of the field on official ratings. Even though he's not the flashiest horse in the world there's plenty to like about Nicky Henderson's nine-year-old. He's consistent, he's straightforward, he's reliable and he's genuine; all of which make him a great bet this afternoon at 15/8. His record around Cheltenham is five wins from five races and while it was worrying to see him struggle in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, it was a very rare blip and he looked as good as ever when winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas. First Lieutenant (7/1) finished second at the South Dublin venue that day but he was no match for Bobs Worth and there's no reason to believe the form will be reversed. Silviniaco Conti was going quite well when falling three-out in the Gold Cup last year and he proved just how good he is by winning the King George. He's certainly the biggest danger and is sure to attract support at 3/1. Last Instalment will need to improve quite a bit if he's to finish in the top two but he ran a career best in the Hennessey Gold Cup at Leopardstown and he should be thereabouts. But Bobs Worth ticks all the right boxes and the stage is set for him to become the eight horse to win the Gold Cup on more than one occasion. 

Lay of the day
Good recent form is a must in the
CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (4.0) and the last six winners had all won their previous race. This contest is for amateur riders and Nina Carberry is likely to prove popular with punters on board On The Fringe. But he finished second last time out at 5/4 in a hunter chase at Leopardstown and was the beaten favourite in this race in 2001 so at 3/1 today, he looks a little short in the betting. 

A recent prep run would appear to be important in order to succeed in the Triumph Hurdle (1.30). Last year's brilliant winner Our Conor (which was sadly fatally injured in Tuesday's Champion Hurdle) had ran a month before at Leopardstown and we have to go back as far as 1992 (Duke Of Monmouth) to find a winner which hadn't raced in the previous two months. Two of today's runners, Royal Irish Hussar (8/1) and Lindenhurst (12/1) haven't had a recent prep run so it will be interesting to see if they struggle against their race-fit counterparts this afternoon. 

Paul Nicholls'
CALIPTO might be the one to side with at 7/2. He's a half-brother to a number of winners in France, and it's worth noting that French-bred horses have performed very well in this race in recent years. He looked quite smart when winning a novice hurdle at Newbury last time and he may just have enough to see off Broughton and Guitar Pete.
In-running punters might like to note that the  last prominently ridden winner of this race was Sir Talbot back in 1999 so it could be worth taking on those that make the running early on. Jonjo O'Neill's
ALAIVAN slips into this at the bottom of the weights and looks a nice each-way bet at 16/1 following a decent showing in the Betfair Hurdle last time.
This race was only introduced  in 2005 but it's been won by some very decent sorts including At Fishers Cross, Bobs Worth, Wichita Lineman and Black Jack Ketchum. This one looks a match between Brian Hill (5/4) and KINGS PALACE (3/1) with the latter marginally preferred at the prices.
Silviniaco Conti and Last Instalment have strong claims here but defending champion BOBS WORTH, which has won at the Festival for three years straight, gets the nod at 15/8. Nicky Henderson's nine-year-old is ultra consistent and can make this a great race for favourite backers on the 50th anniversary of Arkle's first Gold Cup win.
EDIT (mix up with race time). Selection is TAMMYS HILL.
This is the sixth renewal of the race named after Martin Pipe but his son David has yet to win it and the yard were left disappointed again last year when Gevrey Chambertin was pulled up, despite going off as 9/4 favourite. Pipe's Vieux Lion Rouge may well go off as the jolly this year but Nicky Henderson's FULL SHIFT could be the value bet at 10/1 following a promising performance when winning his handicap debut at Kempton last month.
Fitness is key here, and almost all the winners in the past two decades had raced in the eight weeks prior to the Festival. The Nicky Henderson trained TANKS FOR THAT was second in this race in 2012 and looks well treated in the weights off a mark of 144. At 16/1, he can be taken each way.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cheltenham Festival betting: Thursday

Good morning folks, just two winners yesterday but it keeps the head above water. It kills me to do it, but I'm opposing Big Buck's today. Here's today's Irish Independent article:

LOYALTY is usually seen as an asset in this life but when it comes to backing horses, it's a virtue which can often prove costly. I'm an absolutely huge fan of Paul Nicholls' Big Buck's and he's got me out of jail more than once at Cheltenham; so I feel a little guilty passing him over in the World Hurdle (3.20) in favour of Willie Mullins' Annie Power. Rated 170, Big Buck's is 5lbs superior on official figures but how accurate that rating actually is remains to be seen as he's only had one comeback race following an absence of 14 months due to injury. In fairness, he was entitled to a little rustiness and the heavy ground didn't do him any favours although we'll find out today whether those factors played a part in his loss or if it's a case that his ability is declining with age. To win good races at eleven is difficult for any horse but even more so at Cheltenham as we saw with Hurricane Fly in Tuesday's Champion Hurdle. I almost feel guilty abandoning one of my all time favourite horses but if Annie Power gets the distance, Big Buck's would probably have to put in a career best to beat her which I just can't see happening at this stage to be honest. The truth is, we don't yet know how good Annie Power might actually be although the evidence from her unbeaten run of ten is that she's by far the best mare in training. As mentioned, the only worry is the distance and she's never raced beyond 2m5f. She made it look easy in a mare's hurdle at Doncaster last time although she was rated miles clear of the field so we didn't really learn too much from that. But her manner of victory at Cheltenham previously against Zarkandar was very taking and she appears to be frighteningly good. Even if she doesn't like the trip, her talent can see her through and with a 7lb weight allowance for her sex, the layers may be left wondering why they ever let her go off as high as 7/4. 

Lay of the day
Paul Nicholls' Al Ferof went off at 5/4 in the Grade Two Denman Chase last time out but he finished 25 lengths behind Harry Topper in a race which lacked any real depth. It was a gruelling test over three miles and Al Ferof crossed the line looking extremely tired. He's 7/2 in places for today's Ryanair Chase (2.40) which seems very short considering he's only had a month to recover. 

The last Irish trained horse to win the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (4.40) was Greasepaint, trained by Michael Cunningham back in 1983. That fact hasn't put off supporters of Gordon Elliott's Cause Of Causes, which has been backed into 6/1 following a good performance when runner-up in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last time.

One of the newer races at the Festival, it's been upgraded to Grade One status for 2014. Paul Nicholls' WONDERFUL CHARM was struggling with his breathing last year but an operation over the summer has worked a treat and he's since won three novice chases. Oscar Whiskey beat him last time out by half a length but it was a great performance considering he was giving Oscar Whiskey 8lbs. At 5/1, Wonderful Charm should reverse the placings today although it would be foolish to discount the threat posed by some others in the field including Felix Yonger.
This race has been notoriously difficult to decipher in recent years and the last ten winners have all gone off in double-figure odds. Not a race for heavy punting then, CROSS KENNON gets the nod each-way at an outside price of 33/1. He was once rated in the 150s but he's back down to a realistic 139 off which he won the Rendlesham Hurdle back in 2011.
The Ryanair Chase has become very competitive since upgraded to Grade One and the last four winners were all rated in the 160s. David Pipe's DYNASTE (7/2) ran poorly in the King George last time but his second place to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock is the best piece of form here and he should appreciate the drop back down in trip today.
With ANNIE POWER confirmed to take on Big Buck's, this year's World Hurdle is certainly one of the most intriguing races of the day. The heart says Big Buck's but the head says Annie Power - although it must be said that she's not certain to get the three mile trip.  Big Buck's is no doubt one of the greatest staying hurdlers of all time but at eleven years of age, he may struggle to contain Willie Mullins' latest star which gets a valuable 7lbs allowance for her sex.
Another nightmare race for punters, David Pipe's Salut Flow (2011) was the only winner priced in single figures since 1999. It's usually best to ignore heavily weighted horses and GIORGIO QUERCUS (25/1) gets the each-way vote for Nicky Henderson, who won this race in 2006 with Non So. The selection won a handicap at Kempton in November but a 6lbs rise is not too harsh and he may have enough wriggle room at the weights to land a place.
Donald McCain has a fantastic win and place record in this race and six-year-old INDIAN CASTLE makes appeal at 5/1. A decent novice hurdler last year, he's taken to the bigger obstacles well winning a maiden at Wetherby in November and he also won a novices' handicap chase at this course in January. He's up 5lbs for that win but he still relatively unexposed and a bold run is expected. Cause Of Causes, which traded as low as 1/5 in-running before being beaten by a short head in the Paddy Power Chase, is another one for the shortlist. 


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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cheltenham Festival betting Wednesday

Tuesday was a cracker with four winners:

Vautour @ 7/2
Holywell @ 10/1
Quevega @ 8/11
Present View @ 8/1

Plus the lay of the day, Champagne Fever was beaten at 11/4.

It's unlikely that Wednesday will go so well but feck it, we'll give it a lash!


From Wednesday's Irish Independent:

Sire De Grugy
HENRY de Bromhead will saddle up Sizing Europe for the Champion Chase today (3.20) and not many would begrudge the 12-year-old success in a race he won in sensational style at the expense of Big Zeb back in 2011. Indeed the Cheltenham Festival has been good to the gelding with two wins and two seconds from five races, including victory in the 2010 Arkle Chase. He's a credit to his trainer who has brought him back to life on more than one occasion but at 12 years of age, a big Festival win may be too much to ask. To his credit, he did run one of his career bests when finishing just five and a half lengths behind the great Sprinter Sacre at Punchestown last year and with that horse out of action at the moment, it's certainly worth having another crack at this. But to my eyes, it seemed that age was catching up with him at Leopardstown over the Christmas and I reckon his odds of 12/1, which suggest his chances of winning are around eight percent, are probably about right. The best placed to take advantage of Sprinter Sacre's absence today then is Gary Moore's Sire De Grugy. I'm a huge fan of the eight-year-old although for some reason, the racing public hasn't quite seemed to fully warm to him yet. Perhaps it's because all the two-mile chasing discussion revolves around Sprinter Sacre but Sire De Grugy is a top class chaser in his own respect and he can continue to build his reputation by taking the Champion Chase today, priced around 2/1. It was unfortunate that Sprinter Sacre was pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton but we can't keep wondering 'what if'. Kempton gave Sire De Grugy his eleventh career victory followed later by the Clarence House Chase in January and while the form of some those races might not be rock solid, he can only do what is asked of him on the day. Of the rest, Captain Conan is the one I'm most worried about. While beaten in the Tingle Creek by the selection, he's a bold jumper who likes a good pace and his presence will make it an interesting race from a tactical point of view. Arvika Ligeonniere is also one to consider following an eye-catching win in the Tied Cottage Chase last month. 

Big Shu won last year's Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (4.0) in good style and then went on to win the La Touche Cup at Punchestown. A second successive victory is far from impossible but odds of 7/2 look far too short considering he'll be carrying 11lbs more this time around.

24 of the last 26 RSA Chase (2.05) winners finished first or second in their previous race. Based on those figures, should backers of Carlingford Lough (7/1) which unseated Tony McCoy in the Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase last time be concerned? Others horses which didn't finish in the top two last time out are outsiders Gevrey Chambertin (33/1), Just A Par (33/1) and Samingarry (50/1).

British trained horses have won the last two renewals of this race but the Irish can get back on the scoreboard today courtesy of Willie Mullins' FAUGHEEN. Unbeaten in four starts, connections believe he could be something very special.
BALLYCASEY beat hot favourite Don Cossack in a Grade One at Leopardstown last month and looks a very smart chaser in the making. At 9/2, he can land the spoils for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh although the likes of Smad Place, Carlingford Lough and Corrin Wood will ensure the Presenting gelding is tested to the limit.
The 2009 Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Dunguib shaped well when winning the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month but of the 20 horses rated 150+ that have contested this race, not one has won. With 28 runners going to post, it's going to be hard to pick the winner but MEISTER ECKHART gets a token vote each-way at 14/1. He was second in this race last year and he went very close in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell last time.
SIRE DE GRUGY is a worthy favourite in the absence of Sprinter Sacre. Some have suggested that he's not as useful going right handed but he was runner-up twice at this course and he's also clocked up victories at places like Chepstow and Stratford. Very impressive in the Clarence House last time out, he can silence the doubters today priced around 9/4.
Big Shu will prove popular with punters as he attempts to win this race for the second year running but he's got a fair bit of lead to carry this time around and looks a bit short in the betting. Instead, a chance is taken each-way on QUANTITATIVEEASING at 10/1. Second in the 2013 Galway Plate, the selection's trainer has an excellent win and place record in this race.
Gordon Elliot won this race last year and both his entries are respected. Of the two, CLARCAM makes the most appeal at 14/1 following a career best when second in a Listed juvenile hurdle at Musselburgh last time. He likes to race prominently and dictate the pace so I hope to see Brian Cooper get him out early and give him a positive ride. At the prices, he can be taken each-way.
With eight wins to date, Willie Mullins trained horses are the obvious starting point for the Bumper although choosing which one is often the hard part and not many fancied Briar Hill last year at 25/1. His three entries all trade under 10/1 this year and KILLULTAGH VIC might be the one to side with at 15/2. He's related to some decent sorts and he destroyed the field by 16 lengths in his latest race at Naas.