Trading software

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cheltenham Festival betting: day four Friday

Morning all, not a bad day yesterday with Vaotour (evs), Thistlecrack (evs) and Cause Of Causes (9/2). Thistlecrack was my banker for the week so I made a nice few quid there. The Gold Cup today is a cracker - I backed Don Cossack in the King George and I'm sticking with him. I used to do a bit of work with Gordon Elliott on the Betfair Blog years back and I remember him telling me that this horse is something special (when it was a four-year-old). I think his day has come although it's going to be a tough race and Cue Card has very serious claims. Can't wait! Here's today's Irish Independent column - race by race guide near the end of the page .

Don set to strike Gold and finally be crowned king

In 1892, an American bloke by the name of John Philip Quinn wrote a book called Fools of Fortune, which was a comprehensive history of betting - and indeed the destructive effects it can have on people.
In one chapter, he explains how the dingy gambling dens of America had poker tables with a hole in the centre, and a metal box underneath in which money could be collected. When a player lost money, he'd push it in the hole.
After the game, the owner of the den would empty the box, take a large cut, and then pay out the winner. Those unfortunates who had put all their money in the hole were usually unceremoniously kicked out. 
On St. Stephen's Day just gone, I ended up deep in the hole myself when a bet of half a monkey (€250) went awry on the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack in the King George. It wasn't a great way to end the year but it's all part of what is sometimes described as the glorious uncertainty of racing.
While I cursed my own luck after his fall, I suppose the important thing here is that the horse and jockey were OK afterwards and on Wednesday, Elliott's stable were given a stark reminder of how this game can dish up contrasting fortunes at will.
Having won the Coral Cup with Diamond King, we learned a few hours later that Elliott's ultra-talented No More Heroes had to be put down for his fall earlier in the RSA Chase, and I'm sure any success at the festival is not taken in the least bit for granted by all the staff at Cullentra House.
As upsetting as it is to lose a horse, the world keeps on turning and focus now is on the Gold Cup (3.30). The big question, of course, is whether Don Cossack would have beaten Cue Card in the King George had he stayed up. In my view, the answer is yes but then again, I am a bit biased having had a financial interest in the event.
Having lost his way mid-race, he rallied gamely four fences out and was closing the gap before crashing out. It's one of those questions we can never answer, although he gets another crack at the whip today.
Like many, I must admit I underestimated Cue Card in the King George and he deserves enormous respect today, having beat yesterday's Ryanair Chase winner Vautour into second. I'm finding it hard to say anything negative about Cue Card although the last ten-year-old to win was Cool Dawn in 1998.
Last year's runner-up Djakadam has very strong claims although Willie Mullins is yet to win the race in fourteen attempts. 
Djakadam's fall last time out is also a concern. A few weeks ago, I mentioned how horses which fell last time out have a poor record at the festival although that didn't stop Ballyalton winning one of the handicap chases on Tuesday.
Don Cossack had a good warm-up when winning the Kinloch Brae at 1/8 and I think he'll just about scrape it, finally confirming that he's one of the greats - just like Elliott predicted a few years ago.  When you throw Don Poli and Smad Place into the mix, we are in for a real treat this year.
In the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (2.50), Barters Hill is the one to beat, priced around 3/1. With seven wins in as many races, he beat Tuesday's Supreme Novices' winner Altior in a bumper at Newbury last year and battled gamely to win the River Don Novices Hurdle last time, having made some mistakes throughout.  


Paul Nicholls has an excellent record in the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2.10) with four wins and three places since 1999. Had you backed each of his 23 runners blindly, you'd show a level stakes profit of 23 points although the Irish also have a good record here too.
The Ditcheat handler has three representatives today, namely Modus, Some Plan and All Yours.
Fifth in a Wincanton handicap last time, All Yours is the most popular of the three in the early markets around 12/1, having won a Grade One hurdle at Aintree back in April.



Zubayr can get Paul Nicholls off to a good start in the opener. Eight of the last eleven winners of this race came from the first three in the betting and the selection offers a bit of value around 9/2. He cost nearly €400,000 last year and got his British career of to a winning start at Kempton. Ivanovich Gorbatov is the big danger.

A big field handicap with a number of interesting entries but the Evan Williams-trained John Constable catches the eye each-way in the early markets around 12/1. Formerly an Aidan O'Brien flat horse, he's still unexposed over hurdles.

Willie Mullins has a strong hand here with the likes of Long Dog and Gangster but he's had 18 losers in this race including Boston Bob (6/5), Briar Hill (2/1) and Black Hercules (5/2). Barters Hill is preferred. He's beaten some good horses in his seven-race career and will have no problem staying the distance.

A fascinating renewal of jump racing's biggest contest where Don Cossack can prove he's one of the best chasers in the business by beating Cue Card. He was unfortunate to fall in the King George and some would argue that he would have won were it not for the spill.

All eyes will be on Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who deserves credit for completing the challenge of switching saddles and making it to Cheltenham. Pacha Du Polder has the scope to win but the jockey's inexperience is a negative so a fun each-way bet around 16/1 might be the way to go.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Flying Angel won the Imperial Cup at Sandown last Saturday and comes here off a lenient mark of 138 albeit with a 5lb penalty. A progressive sort, he can run a big race here priced in the region of 16/1.

The festival closes with a very tricky race where last year's winner Next Sensation has claims. But he's a little short in the betting and a chance is taken on Nicky Henderson's Lough Kent which is expected to bounce back to form after a break. The early price of 14/1 seems generous.

Described by the Racing Post as 'the best book of its type so far', Sports trading on Betfair by Wayne Bailey is now available:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cheltenham Festival betting: day three Thursday

Well, two days down and two to go.

I got out of jail with a winner in the bumper yesterday - it would have been a tough day otherwise although an each way bet on Long House Hall (2nd @ 16/1) paid some nice place money. Although I opposed him, you couldn't help but love to see Sprinter Sacre win the Champion Chase. Everyone loves a good comeback story and this was a cracker. Overall, I'm keeping the head above water at least - some tricky races today but we'll give it a go. Thistlecrack is my banker of the week so I hope he doesn't let me down. Here's today's Irish Independent column. Race by race guide near the bottom of the page:


The Ryanair Chase (2.50) was introduced when the Cheltenham Festival became a four-day event in 2005 but despite being sponsored by an Irish company, horses trained in this country have a poor record with all 32 participants losing to date.
Although it has been a Grade One since 2008, most Irish trainers prefer to take their chances in the Gold Cup if they have a very good horse so the representatives from Ireland have not always been the best the respective stable has to offer. That mostly accounts for the poor showing from the Irish in the last decade although that looks set to change this afternoon with Willie Mullins' Vautour controversially scratched from the Gold Cup to line up here instead.
Vautour's owner Rich Ricci has apologised to punters who had backed him for Friday's showpiece having previously said that the seven-year-old would go to the Gold Cup or else stay at home. I'm in two minds about some of the abuse Rich Ricci has been receiving from punters, especially online. On the one hand, punters do pay for the sport and it would be nothing without them - so they deserve to be treated with respect. But on the other, I think owners and trainers should be free to change their plans for their horses as they see fit and not be beholden to the betting markets, even if those plans are changed late on.
A few years back, I decided that ante-post betting on Cheltenham was not for me anymore after a string of non-runners left me severely out of pocket before a single race had started. People tend to forget that an ante-post wager is essentially two bets: the first is that the horse will actually line up and the second is that he'll win the race. Years back, punters were compensated by big prices for betting early on but these days, I feel that the value is largely gone from ante-post betting. The betting markets are so competitive around Cheltenham when you include the bookmaker specials to these days, I prefer to wait until the day before having a bet.
Getting back to the race itself, Vautour will go off somewhere in the region of 8/11 and you'd have to say that the price is about right. Considering the change of plan connections must feel that the King George runner-up is not 100pc but with 11lbs in hand on official ratings, he can still be below his best and win handy enough.
The World Hurdle is another race the Irish don't raid too often with just one winner since 1995. Mouse Morris' Alpha Des Obeaux is our best hope here. He hit evens in-running when falling in an Aintree novices' hurdle won by Thistlecrack in April and following a couple of places, he got back to winning ways in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran and one or two bookmakers I know have taken quite a few quid for the six-year-old since. It would be nice to see him run a big one but my banker of the week is Thistlecrack - although I won't win any awards for originality here at a price of even-money or thereabouts.
The trial races are a good pointer for this race and he's been the standout horse in this division winning the Long Distance and Long Walk hurdles in fine style at Newbury and Ascot respectively. He may actually have more to come and it's a big compliment that he's being compared to multiple World Hurdle winner Big Buck's. Last year's winner Cole Harden is respected but he hasn't won a race since which is an obvious worry.

The David Pipe-trained Salut Flo offered some relief for punters by winning the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (4.10) at 9/2 but it's one of the most difficult races of the week to decipher and all other winners this century were priced in double-figures. With seven winners since 1996, Martin and David Pipe have managed to find the key to success and Pond House Stables have three representatives in this year's renewal, the most popular of which in the betting is Kings Palace around 12/1.


Nigel Twiston-Davies won the RSA Chase yesterday with Blaklion and his stable can strike again in the opener with Bristol De Mai. The Scilly Isles Chase winner could be a top-class animal and he jumps really well. Garde La Victoire and Outlander are others for the shortlist.
A very tricky 24-runner handicap where a case could be made for nearly half the field so not a race for heavy punting. Expected to go off around 40/1, Peter Bowen's Rolling Maul gets a tentative each-way vote at what seems to be a reasonably fair mark of 135. Jockey David Noonan claims 5lbs which may help just a little.
One of the best horses in training, it's impossible to oppose Vautour for the all conquering Willie Mullins stable. He hit 1/10 in-running when beaten by Cue Card in the King George at Kempton but he's head and shoulders ahead of his rivals here, even if he's only 90pc fit. Road To Riches can fill one of the places.
Big Buck's dominated the staying division for a number of years and we've yet to find one of that calibre to replace him but
Thistlecrack can take up the mantle. Collin Tizzard's gelding can handle various types of ground and always finds plenty when the going gets tough. 
If Einstein were alive, he'd probably find this race just as hard to figure out as the rest of us so stakes should be kept to a fun-sized level. Paul Nicholls' Stilletto is as good a pick as any around 10/1 having won a handicap at Leicester last time by ten lengths.
A new race for the festival, Brian Ellison's tough as teak mare Smart Talk gets the nod ahead of Willie Mullins' Limini. The selection made a bad mistake at Doncaster last time but she battled on to beat Lily Waugh and Morning Run at 7/1.
Jockey Jamie Codd has won this race three times and can do so again on Cause Of Causes. Gordon Elliott's charge was the runner-up in 2014 and early odds of 11/2 look about right.

Described by the Racing Post as 'the best book of its type so far', Sports trading on Betfair by Wayne Bailey is now available:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cheltenham Festival 2016: day two betting

Morning everyone.

Not a bad day yesterday with three winners although with two of them odds-on, it didn't set the world alight. However Altior in the opening Supreme Novices' race was a decent price at just over 9/2 on Betfair and 4/1 SP.

Native River was second at 7/1 (hit evens in-running) which would have been nice but overall, I'm happy to make a modest profit on the day.

Very much looking forward to the Champion Chase. It's got a great narrative with the old horses taking on the new. I think the Mullins horse will get there, provided he stays up. Below is today's Irish Independent column - best of luck with your bets today. Race by race guide near the bottom of the page:

Un De Sceaux to dethrone the old guard in Champion

The 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) winner Sprinter Sacre will today attempt to emulate the great Moscow Flyer by winning the race aged in double figures.
But there's a reason the younger horses have a good record here and that's because it's usually run at a fierce pace. Unlike some of the less frantic staying races, it's extremely difficult to recover from a mistake over the two-mile trip so accuracy when jumping is of paramount importance.
I'm sure he'd raise the roof if he came home in front, and having backed him numerous times down through the years, I'll be kicking myself for not being a part of it. But Sprinter Sacre's had a number of problems since his outstanding win three years ago and it's a big ask.
Fair enough, he showed that he's still got something to offer when winning the Shloer Chase and the Desert Orchid Chase this term - but a price of 9/2 or thereabouts is a fair reflection of his chances.
2014 winner Sire De Grugy is also aged ten but was beaten by Un De Sceaux and Sprinter Sacre in his latest two races, and there's nothing to suggest the form will be reversed this afternoon.
Dodging Bullets is worth a mention too having won this race last year. With Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy running far below their best in that renewal, the strength of that form is open to question but to win any race at Cheltenham is a big deal so I'm going to give credit where it's due. Unfortunately, he's been mostly out with injury and was beaten on his comeback run by Top Gamble in the Game Spirit Chase.
So with question marks over the last three winners of the race, the vote has got to go to Un De Sceaux, albeit at an odds-on price. He destroyed Sire De Grugy in the Clarence House, he has the speed for this type of race - and he jumps aggressively which all points to a first Champion Chase for Willie Mullins. But paradoxically, that vigorous jumping may actually be his Achilles heel. He's now fallen twice in his seven races over fences so it will be interesting to see if Ruby Walsh tries to temper his enthusiasm a little this afternoon.
Third in this last year, Special Tiara has place claims although he was beaten fair and square in the Tingle Creek by Sire De Grugy.
In the RSA Chase (2.10), 2014 World Hurdle winner More Of That will probably go off as favourite but I must admit that I've found it hard to get a handle on this horse.
While seven wins from eight runs is a fantastic record, his career has been going in a stop-start fashion for a number of years, and his latest race when winning a three-runner novice chase here in December didn't teach us much.
Previously, he won a novice chase with a bit more depth to it at the November meeting so he certainly has claims, but at the prices he's best avoided.
Gordon Elliott's No More Heroes ticks the right boxes for me. A good hurdler in his day, he's shaping up to be an even better chaser winning all three starts over fences, although the downside is that he hasn't had a race since December.
Having said that, Don Poli won this last year after a similar break and No More Heroes has done some schooling with Don Cossack which I'm sure has taught him quite a bit.


The Ferdy Murphy-trained French Holly won the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (1.30) at the age of seven in 1998 priced 2/1 but overall, older horses have a very poor record here.
Since that success, some 50 horses aged seven or older have competed but not one has won. Parlour Games (13/2) and Outlander (4/1) finished second and sixth respectively last year in a race which went to Dermot Weld's Windsor Park (9/2). Weld saddles the only seven-year-old today, Vigil, which is expected to go off around 20/1.



Willie Mullins' Yorkhill is yet another top-notch prospect but this can go to Alan King's Yanworth, which was trading a shade odds-against yesterday evening. An outstanding course win here in January confirmed he's one of the best in this division.

This could end up being a match between More Of That and No More Heroes and preference is for the latter at a slightly bigger price. Gordon Elliott has some of the best chasers in training at the moment and this is one of them.

Quite a tough race for punters recently, Long House Hall gets an each-way vote around 14/1. Dan Skelton's gelding won a Cheltenham handicap hurdle in April, and he might be well handicapped on a mark of 140 considering he won a novices' chase at Bangor with plenty in hand.

Quite a number of previous winners have come back for more and Sprinter Sacre, Dodging Bullets and Sire De Grugy all deserve respect. But the fast-paced nature of the race may see the older horses struggle leaving Un De Sceaux to claim the prize for Willie Mullins.

Enda Bolger used to win this race regularly and Josies Orders' winning course and distance form gives him in edge - but he's very short in the betting and Third Intention gets the nod instead at an each-way price. His form has been up and down but this type of race might give him a lift.

The John Ferguson-trained Jaleo races in a handicap hurdle for the first time and an opening mark of 135 seems fair. He was full of zest when beating Our Thomas in a juvenile hurdle at Catterick last month and I've stuck him in the notebook as one to keep onside in his next few races.

Good recent form is a must in the bumper but this year, around two-thirds of the field have won their most recent race so that doesn't narrow it down very much. As always, the Willie Mullins' horses will prove popular in the betting but Nigel Twiston-Davies' Ballyandy has done little wrong and won a similar race here in November.


Described by the Racing Post as 'the best book of its type so far', Sports trading on Betfair by Wayne Bailey is now available:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cheltenham Festival 2016: day one betting

Morning all, that time of year again.

Not much of an intro needed here, it's obviously the biggest week of the year for those of us involved with betting and trading. Here's today's Irish Independent column for day one. Race by race guide near the bottom:

Min looks exciting but the figures add up for Altior

These days, the sport known as bandy is similar to ice hockey - but the original game came from 16th Century France, and was actually a form of tennis.
It later became a stick-based game and while the Irish already had hurling, Bandy became popular for a while in Britain. When the ball was passed from player to player, it was said to be 'bandied' about and keeping the ball out of the hands of the opposition by regular passing was one of the skills of the game. 
With Cheltenham finally here a lot of tips and information, reliable and otherwise, will be bandied about this week but as I say every year, the form book is your best friend when it comes to the top class races and the quality doesn't get any better than this.
While horse racing and betting is often accused of being corrupt, at least you can be sure that every single horse will be trying its best this week and with so many special offers from bookmakers, it's actually become a little easier to make a profit following the top horses in recent years.
Although we all love bagging a nice-priced outsider, you certainly need a good reason to oppose the better horses at Cheltenham and those that dislike backing favourites should consider being a little more flexible in certain races for the week that's in it.
To illustrate my point about the form standing up, take the clear top-rated horse (on official ratings) in the non-handicaps: such horses have won 36 times from 112 races (32pc) since 2008. Had you stuck a tenner on each, you'd show a profit of €240. I'm not suggesting you blindly bet without further analysis, but considering that simple approach has shown a profit in seven of the last eight festivals, the top form horses should always be your starting point.
On that note, the Nicky Henderson-trained Altior looks a solid bet around 7/2 in the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.30) with a rating of 155, 2lbs ahead Willie Mullins' favourite Min.
My main worry for Min is that he can get slightly worked up at the racecourse and tends to race keenly. While the likely speed of the Supreme Novices' might suit him, the hustle and bustle nature of the race, plus the atmosphere from the crowd, might be unsettling.
Altior won a significant contest last time at Kempton and although he hit a flat spot mid-race, he showed true class when asked to up his game by Nico de Boinville.
Henderson hasn't won this since 1992 but with a place strike-rate of 47pc in the last ten years, his horses are almost always thereabouts.
The Champion Hurdle (3.30) has been blown wide open with Arctic Fire and Faugheen out, and I get the feeling that some punters are latching on to Annie Power almost by default.
She was supplemented for the race as expected which is a big vote of confidence, but it's over two decades since a female horse won and a price of 7/4 or thereabouts is a little short for me.
Instead, a chance is taken on stablemate  Nichols Canyon, expected go off at 5/1. A below-par run in the Irish Champion Hurdle is forgiven as he'd had a tough race previously and I expect him to bounce back to form today.


Despite sending a total of 19 runners to the Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50) down through the years, Paul Nicholls has never had a winner.
In the early 2000s, quite a few were fancied including Colourful Life (7/1), Royal Auclair (7/1) and Ad Hoc (twice at 5/1 and 7/1) but more recently, his horses have went off in double-figure prices. It seems the market called it right, with the record of his last six runners reading 05UPU7.
Still, the Ditcheat handler hasn't lost faith and is represented by general 14/1 shot Southfield Theatre today.



Min has so far lived up to the hype winning both races since coming to Ireland, but he was 4/11 and 1/7 so this is his first real test and he could be vulnerable to the likes of Altior. Nicky Henderson's charge will also be tested like never before - but he has won over the course and distance which may just give him an edge.

Willie Mullins has named Douvan as his best chance of a winner this week so it's no surprise to see him as short as 4/11 in the betting. Sizing John was second to Douvan over the Christmas at Leopardstown and may be the one to follow him home again.

The Warren Greatrex-trained Out Sam is a worthy favourite around 11/2 off a mark of 139. He beat Milansbar at Newbury last time and that form has been boosted with Milansbar going on to win at Exeter. Jonjo O'Neill's Holywell is another one for the shortlist.

A wide-open renewal which can go to Willie Mullins' second-string Nichols Canyon. He appeared tired when third in the Irish Champion Hurdle which came quite soon after his success over Identity Thief in the Ryanair Hurdle. Stablemate Annie Power is obviously the big danger but looks a little skinny in the betting.

Once again, the strength of Willie Mullins' day-one team is evident, and Vroum Vroum Mag can justify her price around evens to make it an eight victory in-a-row for the stable in this race. She's extremely versatile and has now racked up eight wins in as many races over both timber and fences.

This looks quite tricky but odds in the region of 7/1 seem quite fair for Native River. Trained by Colin Tizzard, the gelding seemed distracted at Wetherby last time but he has a bit of talent deep down, and the application of cheekpieces should help him concentrate.

Willow's Saviour won a novice chase at Fakenham last time and a mark of 138 looks quite lenient. Dan Skelton's nine-year-old was a decent hurdler in his time, beating Ptit Zig to win the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot in 2013.


Described by the Racing Post as 'the best book of its type so far', Sports trading on Betfair by Wayne Bailey is now available: