Friday, 30 December 2011

30th December - Race reviews

A couple more runners-up from today’s 3 selections, was really not what I needed – particularly when they were the 2 selections that I had put up win only !
Both briefly looked as if they might snap the current losing streak – trading at 1.5 and 2 respectively – but it was not to be.
In isolation, I would just shrug my shoulders and accept that these things happen – and that is the way I need to look at it. However, I have to admit that it’s getting progressively more difficult to look at all these races in isolation.
The two seconds today, meant that I have now managed to tip 8 runners-up from 40 selections in December.
That’s a 20% strike rate – which at the odds I tend to bet, is some going. Or at least it would be if it was a 20% winning strike rate !
Anyway, as I’ve said numerous times before, there is little I can do than keep plugging away and hope the luck turns…

Looking at today’s race in a little more detail:

Bishops Heir ran a really solid race and a couple of times up the straight, looked as if he might have the measure of eventual winner, Bocciani.
In fairness, Denis O’Regan gave the winner a very good ride, as he looked a quirky customer.
I think this is probably as good as Bishops Heir is, so he wouldn’t b an obvious tip next time out…

Captain Americo was probably just a little unlucky to come up against a well handicapped rival, who had managed to recapture his decent form from a couple of seasons back.
Bold Ransom was rated 132 18 months ago, so off a mark of 118 today, he had to go close if the old ability was still there.
Unfortunately for us, it was – and whilst Captain Americo plugged on bravely to take second, he was ultimately no match for the winner.
Provided his mark is not significantly altered (and I don’t think it will be) I would certainly be interested in Captain Americo next time out, provided conditions were similar to today…

Solitary Palm was undoubtedly the biggest disappointment of the day.
I did say that I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished behind Mr Chow and Hopeful Start, which he did – however, I didn’t expect him to finish behind 4 other rivals as well !
Furthermore, that finishing position flattered him as he was travelling at no point in the race and made a number of significant mistakes.
I really can’t imagine what the issue was. On form, he should have finished close to Mr Chow – accepting that one is improving fast. Even ignoring that form line, he should have certainty finished much closer than he did (or at very least, looked as if he might take a hand in proceedings).
In the circumstances, I couldn’t really consider tipping him again in the short term – unless a very good reason for today’s performance came to light…

30th December - Selection rationale (part 2)

It looks like I made a mistake not putting up Atouchbetweenacara last night.
He was 9/1 with 3 firms, with the price seemingly under no pressure.
However, the money has come for him (without my influence !) and he is best priced 8/1 this morning – and that appears to be going.
In truth, it is only a point difference, so I’ve got to keep it in perspective – but at a time when every point counts, it is still a little irritating…
As you will doubtless recall, I tipped Atouchbetweenacara when he last ran at Haydock earlier this month. That was on the back of a run at Chepstow, behind subsequent Welsh National winner, Le Beau Bai, which seemed to signal a return to form.
Whilst he didn’t run dreadfully at Haydock, he did disappoint. However the handicapper has reacted to that run by dropping him a massive 7lb – and against generally inferior opposition today, he has got to be worth another chance.
He is now running off a mark 10lb lower than at Chepstow – and that seems plain crazy, based on how he ran that day and the subsequent exploits of the race victor.
It is interesting to see that blinkers are applied to Atouchbetwenacra for the first time today – and he is dropped back in trip by 3 furlongs, to what is arguably a more suitable distance.
He is naturally an exuberant runner and I can see him running with real zest in the blinkers today. I would be happier if Santas Son wasn’t running as he also likes to get on with things.
Atouchbetweennacara doesn’t need to lead though – he should be prepared to just race prominently.
Provided he doesn’t do too much in the blinkers, I can see him going very close. Hopefully he will keep enough in reserve to get home, in what are likely to be desperate conditions…

1pt win Atouchbetweenacara 8/1

Thursday, 29 December 2011

30th December - Selection rationale

Tomorrow is going to be quite a big day – assuming racing goes ahead at Haydock.
Furthermore, it might get even bigger, as there is an additional potential selection that I am monitoring, but am resisting putting it up until tomorrow morning (assuming I decide to put it up at all).

It’s funny how selections tend to come in batches: I’ve struggled to find a tip for the past 2 days and tomorrow, I could be giving out 4 !
Let’s hope that at least one of them manages to deliver…

Haydock 12:50

I’ve been a big fan of James Ewart for a number of years now.
I was fortunate enough to latch on to him not long after he started training. He managed to send out a string of big priced winners – and I was on a fair few of them ;)
Alas, as is often the case, it didn’t take long for others to latch on to him – and the big priced winners dried up. However, he has continued to produce winners and I’ve continued to monitor his runners closely.
Bishops Heir has always been a horse that has threatened to do well for the Ewart stable. In fairness, he has already won a bumper and a couple of hurdle races, but it was over fences that he looked most likely to succeed.
Minor issues have meant that he has not been seen that much in public and his chasing debut at Kelso in November, was only the ninth outing of his career.
Despite an absence of almost 9 months and on ground that was probably a little too quick for him, he performed very creditably that day in finishing fifth, beaten just 13 lengths.
Next time out, he disappointed a little when coming in last of the 4 finishers at Hexham. However as a result of that run, his handicap rating was dropped by 5lbs. That means that he gets a racing weight of 11st 1lb tomorrow – which should be fine in the conditions.
One of the obvious dangers tomorrow, Carrickboy, has a weight of 11st12lb to overcome – plus almost a year’s absence from the track. It will be a fine performance if he is able to over-come that double handicap.
Consequently, Mr Chippy looks the horse to beat – though in fairness, it is difficult to rule out any of the field, with absolute confidence.
Still, there are only 6 runners, so odds of 7/1 looked quite generous on a horse whom I believe has a better than average chance.

1pt win Bishops Heir 7/1

Haydock 2:30

As I was saying, I’m quite a fan of James Ewart…
Captain Americo is a horse of his, whom I know extremely well. I actually backed him a couple of times over hurdles, when he was trained by Andy Turnell.
He was pretty decent then – but improved for the switch to the Ewart stable.
That said, I still feel that he is yet to fulfil his potential. I’m sure this horse has the ability to be rated around 140. Off 124 tomorrow, he should therefore have a very good chance.
That said, he has run off a mark of 125 in his last 3 runs and not been successful – so something different needs to happen tomorrow…
I’m hopeful that the difference will be the application of blinkers. Apparently they have really woken up Captain Americo at home – and assuming they have the same effect on the track, he can maybe start to fulfil his potential.
Although there are only 6 runners, as with the previous race, it is very difficult to absolutely discount any of them.
However, Captain Americo will be well suited by the gruelling conditions and if the blinkers do give him an extra spark, he should prove very difficult to beat.

1pt win Captain Americo 5/1

Taunton 3:30

I think Solitary Palm is a great bet tomorrow – but it has to be each-way…
I be really surprised if he’s not in the first 3 – but less so if either Mr Chow or Hopeful Start get the better of him.
That said, Hopeful Start will need to rediscover his form; and Solitary Palm is weighted to reverse recent form with Mr Chow.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be as simple as that: Hopeful Start has been performing well below what he is capable of and Mr Chow looked very progressive indeed, when he beat Solitary Palm on his chasing debut.
Still, Solitary Palm is the solid option. He is in the form of his life; well weighted and will handle the conditions.
Furthermore, outside the big 2, the opposition looks a bit limited (despite the number of runners). A few of the runners have potential to surpass anything they have shown so far – but you would be guessing as to which ones and by how much.
With the tongue tie re-applied and hopefully under a slightly more restrained ride than last time, I expect Solitary Palm to run a big race.
Whether that will be good enough to win, depends on how much his 2 main rivals have left up their sleeves !

1pt EW Solitary Palm 9/1


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Betfair fiasco

Almost all of my blog posts so far, have concerned tips: either the rationale behind them or a review of their performance.
It was always my intention to write on other matters – but I don’t have a great deal of spare time and the blog takes a lot of up-keep, even with me just focusing on this aspect.
However, the events of today on Betfair, have prompted me to create a non tipping blog post…

As is invariably the case, I was sat watching the Irish racing this afternoon and had placed a couple of bets on the Christmas hurdle at Leopardstown.
I tend to back outsiders on Betfair at inflated odds and then lay them back when the race goes in-running.
In this particular race I had backed Powerstation (whom I expected to front run) at 70 and Karabak (whom I thought had half a chance at 25).
Not long after the off, I was able to lay back my stake on both animals at odds lower than I had taken.
I then noticed that the second favourite, Voler La Vedette, was available to back at 29.
This situation isn’t that unusual, often well fancied horses can be backed at very big prices early in a race, because they are not travelling well or have made a mistake.
I couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t the case with Voler La Vedette, but I decided to take the risk as I hadn’t noticed any issue with her.
Sure enough, she was still cruising in the race – but 29 was available – and for a ridiculous amount (over £20mill !).
The longer the money remained available, the more sure I was that the bet would be voided.
I’ve been in similar situations before and invariably, if something appears too good to be true – then it’s too good to be true !
The reality is that errors do occur – and this was clearly an error – and quite a significant one at that !
It took Betfair a long time to take action, but around 4 hours later, the market was settled and all in-running bets declared void, which was fair enough – or was it…

For a start, this meant that my in-running lays on Powerstation and Karabak were voided – even though they weren’t affected by the issue with Voler La Vedette.

Also, what would have happened if the problem had occurred before the race had gone in-running. It would presumably have been just as easy for the problem to occur before the race started. Would all bets on the event have been made void ?

However, most importantly, what would have happened if Voler La Vedette had been beaten ? Would all bets have been voided in that scenario ? My understanding is that bets were voided because a customer (the layer) had been able to grossly exceeded their credit limit due to a technical fault. If the horse had lost, they would not have exceeded their credit limit – and would in fact have made £800K on the race ! That suggests to me that the bets would not have been voided…

I think that voiding the bets today was the right thing to do – but that is provided Betfair can demonstrate they would have voided the bets if Voler La Vedette had been beaten. If they can’t do that, then my bet today had no chance of winning – but every chance of losing and that simply can’t be right.
There are a lot of questions that Betfair need to answer but it is imperative that the they can demonstrate that they would have voided all bets regardless of the race outcome. I'm not an expert in the area and don't know who they are answerable to, or whether they need a licence to operate, but if they can't demonstrate that they run their business properly, then they really shouldn’t be operating – it should be as simple as that…

28th December - Race review

Just a few quick words on the performance of today’s tip.
Quipe me Posted raced prominently and travelled reasonably well. He was still in with a chance as the runners turned for home, but his stamina quickly gave out and he ended up well beaten.
Doubtless connections will drop him back to 2 miles – and he is also likely to have his rating reduced by a few more pounds. However, I didn’t really see enough today to suggest he is a winner waiting to happen…

There will be no tips tomorrow. The domestic NH action is limited to Doncaster and Kelso and nothing jumps out at me from either meeting.
Hopefully, there will be better opportunities on Friday…

28th December - Selection rationale

I was unsure as to whether to tip tomorrow…
On the one hand, I was quite keen on finding something in the 2:30 race at Leicester. I’m familiar with a fair chunk of the field, and so feel I’ve got a good insight into how the race might develop. However, I couldn’t find a totally compelling case for any of the runners and so have been left with one which I feel has a chance better than it’s odds imply…
The horse in question is Quipe me Posted, whom I tipped last time out at Doncaster.
He actually ran a fair race that day – but his jumping was decidedly slip-shod and if he repeats that tomorrow, he won’t win !
Still, I think it is worth a small gamble that he won’t. He’d not shown any particular jumping frailties in the past, so hopefully Doncaster was a one-off.
Compared to Doncaster, he is now running off a 2lb lower mark; in a race a class lower; and with more suitable (quicker) ground. He should also be at peak fitness, as this will be his third run of the campaign.
There are some theoretical doubts about the trip – but he seemed to be staying on well enough last time and if he can get close to repeating the form he showed last season, when beaten by Rileyev, giving that horse 2lb, then he will go very close tomorrow…

0.5pt win Quipe me Posted 14/1

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

27th December - Race reviews

Around about lunchtime today, I was feeling very content with things…
I had watched as Plein Pouvoir was backed down from a suggested 12/1 into 6/1 second favourite. I wasn’t overly surprised by the weight of money behind him, as I felt he had pretty much everything in his favour today and he looked sure to run a big race…
I was far more surprised by the plunge that took place on the other selection, Stow. Recommended at 10/1, he was backed down to an almost unbelievable 3/1 !
I had combined the two horses in a double with Ladbrokes last night. The odds of the combined bet was 121/1 when I placed it – and it was down to 28/1 at around 12:45 !
Ofcourse, as we know by now, weight of money doesn’t always mean success – and unfortunately it didn’t today…

Stow ran no sort of race whatsoever – which must have been particularly galling for all those involved in the monster plunge. He was under pressure at the back of the field after 3 hurdles and tailed off at half way.
He did consent to eventually run on and finish fifth – but he never remotely threatened to win.
The display seemed a little out of character – but you couldn’t consider supporting him again, based on this effort….

Plein Pouvoir ran a much better race and it did look for a good part of it, as if he was going to break this irritating streak of loses.
In fact, he was trading at under 2/1 at around half way, so well was he travelling.
However, the favourite, Quincy Des Pictons, came and served it up to him rounding the home turn and Plein Pouvoir was soon a beaten horse.
Ultimately, I think he was just taking on horses of a class higher than he is capable of living with.
A couple more pounds off his back and hopefully he’ll be out in a lower class of race next time. I’ve certainly not lost faith in him in the right conditions.

Finally, Le Beau Bai ran out a very game winner of the Welsh National.
I tipped him when he ran no sort of a race in the Southern National, early in November. So it was a little frustrating to see him win this much more competitive race, off exactly the same mark.
That said, I did think he would run well – but it was difficult to justify a tip at 10/1 in such a tough race.
Hey Big Spender fell around half way, which may ultimately turn out to be a blessing in disguise (assuming he wasn’t injured in any way).
He is a class horse and today’s test would not have been suitable for him…

So another disappointing day, made even more so by the initial promise.
I did receive an anonymous comment on the blog, not long after the Plein Pouvoir race.
I actually toyed with not publishing it – as it doesn’t really add a lot to things (!), but I promised I would publish all non-offensive comments.
I assume it was posted by the same person who suggested last week that I shouldn’t give up the day job (I’ve nicknamed him Marvin, as he chooses to preserve his anonymity).
At times like this, I actually think it helps if you can have a bit of a laugh (even if through gritted teeth) and I get the feeling that ‘Marvin’ could provide some humour with his perceptive comments, whenever a selection gets beaten.
I certainly hope so, my minimum requirement for this blog is that it is entertaining, and I think Marvin has taken a step forward to help in that area.
There is a tip tomorrow – and hopefully it will oblige – but if not, I’m optimistic that we can at least look forward to an insightful comment from Marvellous Marvin.
Don’t let us down Marv ;)

Monday, 26 December 2011

27th December - Selection rationale

It’s Coral Welsh National day tomorrow and I have to admit to going a little cold on the chances of Hey Big Spender…
The issues are 3 fold: firstly the ground; then the trip and finally the weight ! I think the combination are likely to prove too much for him (indeed, they would prove too much for most horses).
A few less pounds or less testing going and I think he would have a great chance – but as things stand, I suspect the winner will come from near the foot of the weights…
Le Beau Bai looks the most likely winner to me – though I would really fancy the chances of Our Island, if he had not been involved in that slog in the mud at Haydock, just 10 days ago. As De Fer also looks interesting – and I could give half a chance to Ballyfitz at a big price.
However, on balance, I think it is now more of a race to watch than bet in…

Instead, I have tips in the 2 preceding races. Both are trained by Venetia Williams – and hopefully one of them at least, will manage to deliver…

Chepstow 1:00

The logic for selecting Stow in this race isn’t that complicated…
He is proven over course, distance and ground – and has a decent racing weight (helped by a 5lb claimer).
He will need to win from a career high mark, but he was progressive last season and the suggestion from his run behind Mauricetheathlete, at the beginning of this month, is that the progression is continuing this season.
If that is the case, then I can see no good reason why he won’t go close tomorrow and 10/1 in an 8 runner field, looks very fair.

1pt win Stow 10/1

Chepstow 1:30

You better prepare yourself. Plein Pouvoir is a horse I’ll be putting up every time he runs in deep winter ground – until he wins !!
I’m actually optimistic that will be tomorrow – but I guess there is a chance it won’t be…!
The case for him tomorrow is actually very solid (as you would expect with a 2point win bet ).
He will adore the ground conditions; the trip is perfect; he is gradually running himself into form –and he has been dropped 2lb since his last run.
The only niggle in my mind, is that I would prefer him to be carrying a bigger weight against lesser opposition. That said, in tomorrow’s ground, you want to be lumping around as little as possible !
Hopefully, he will have sufficient class to see him through. In truth, I suspect that tomorrow, it will be less about class and more about resolution and staying power. I would be optimistic that Plein Pouvoir will have sufficient of those to give him a very good chance.

2pt win Plein Pouvoir 12/1

26th December - Race reviews

It doesn’t look like the Christmas break made much difference – it was another one of those days !!

It started with Gandalfe jumping really poorly and eventually being pulled up, in the novices handicap chase.
Maybe he didn’t like being taken on for the lead – maybe the issue was with the big filed (his best performances in the past have been in smaller fields).
Whatever, it was a disappointing run and he’s not one I would be looking to get involved with next time out on the back of today’s run…

It was a similar tale with Storymaker. He jumped poorly and was also pulled up a good way form home.
I guess I need to be careful with this horse. I’ve little doubt that he is capable of winning a race of today’s nature – but he is likely to do so when connections want him to.
I could lose a fair bit of money trying to guess when that will be – so again, maybe he is one to be wary of next time…

Sophonie at least managed to complete the course – but it was very much in her own time.
She took quite a pull for the first half of the race and ultimately that cost her any chance she may have had.
I did think that the money would say whether she was going to perform today – and it suggested probably not.
I think it’s too early to write her off – but I would probably like to see her back over fences next time…

And so onto the piece de resistance !
I think it is now fair to assume that it was a breathing issue that caused Frontier Dancer to perform so poorly at Newbury last time !
He cruised through today’s race – despite being available to back on Betfair at 90, moments before the off (I actually backed him at 240 in-running !).
Ultimately, he was beaten by one of the unexposed horses, whom I always thought might have his beating – but boy did he run a race.
He might have got even closer to the winner if he had not twice been denied a clear passage on the run to the last (once by the winner).
As so many of the tips this month, I don’t think he can be considered unlucky as such – just unlucky to find one too good.

Elsewhere, Kauto put up an unbelievable performance, to claim his fifth King George. That is a feat unlikely to be matched in any of our lifetimes and we should all consider ourselves privileged to have witnessed it.
Long Run lost no caste in defeat and confirmed himself as a very god horse.
Master Minded made a shocking blunder down the back straight – but to my eye, he wasn’t travelling at the time, regardless. It was also before any stamina limitation would have come into play, so I suspect he wasn’t quite right.

In the Feltham, Grands Crus looked immaculate again. I’ve not heard any post race interview, but I’m sure connections will be considering the big one for him.
If he had been beaten today, it would have been because non of his rivals could go quick enough to give him a lead. He wouldn’t have that issue in the Gold Cup – and let’s be honest, whilst defeat didn’t greatly diminish Long Run’s reputation, it didn’t enhance it either.
I don’t normally advocate novices taking on experienced chasers – but I would be prepared to make an exception in this instance.
It will be fascinating to see which way connections choose to go…

26th December - Selection rationale

An amazing day’s racing – and one where I had to focus on just a few meetings to prevent myself from going mad !
The meetings I chose were Kempton, Wetherby & Wincanton – and between them, they have yielded 4 selections.
3 of them are past tips, whom I hope will come good today – though the fourth one, is my strongest bet of the day.

The 3 feature races on the Kempton card are absolute crackers – though I am resisting the temptation to tip in any of them.

I’m hopeful that Master Minded will be able to come out best in a class King George.
Whisper it quietly, but I think there is a chance that Long Run may be over-rated. Certainly, I think it possible to pick holes in his form – and whilst he might prove to be the real deal, I don’t think he has proved it just yet…
Kauto in his prime would win – but it’s impossible not to have doubts about a horse who will be 12 in a weeks time and who has had such a long career…
Captain Chris could be up to the job – but he still has a lot to prove and his jumping remains a concern at this level.
There is no doubts over the jumping of Master Minded – nor his class. The question mark is over his stamina. However, he has proven himself effective over 2m4f – and Paul Nicholls remains adamant he will stay the 3m. I personally think he is right – though I would want him to be jumping the last a few lengths clear !
Whatever, I think he will trade odds on IR – so I’ll be taking out my usual insurance, just in case !!

I don’t have a strong view on the Christmas hurdle – though I guess it would be nice to see Rock on Ruby win.

The race I am most looking forward to is the Feltham novice chase, where Grands Crus takes on Bobs Worth and Silvianco Conti.
Regular readers will know what I huge fan I am of Grans Crus – and he is going to get a serious examination here !
I think he will be up to the task though – which will then give connections an interesting dilemma… Assuming he wins, he will have proven himself the best staying novice in the country, which will make the Sun Alliance chase less of a challenge.
My hope is that he will then be targeted at the Cotswold chase at the Cheltenham trials meeting at the end of January – and pitched in against seasoned chasers with a view to taking in the big one in March.
In that scenario, my 33/1 ticket for the Gold Cup with Stan James, will be looking very attractive indeed !!

Anyway, enough of this and on to the rationale behind today’s 4 tips…

Kempton 1:25

Gandalfe caught my eye last time out in a very hot novice handicap at Newbury.
He was unfancied that day, but was still travelling nicely at the cross fence. It looked at the time as if he might play a hand at the finish but his effort petered out up the home straight.
Connections drop him back 4furlongs in trip today which is interesting – but they also re-apply blinkers – which is even more interesting !
The only previous time Gandalfe has sported blinkers was on his final run of last season, when he ran a blinder behind Mamlook (and in front of Starluck).
He was ridden aggressively that day and almost matched to nick the race.
I suspect he will be ridden aggressively again today – and think he will take some pegging back.

0.75pt EW Gandalfe 25/1

Kempton 3:40

Frontier Dancer was the first winning tip on this blog, when successful at Ffos Las on his debut for Lawney Hill.
He looked sure to go on from that victory and I tipped him again when he reappeared at Newbury a couple of weeks later.
However, he was hugely disappointing that day and finished well beaten.
I can’t be sure as to why he ran so disappointingly last time – but it is very interesting that connections apply a tongue tie for the first time today.
If breathing issues were the reason for his poor showing, then I would be hopeful that he could bounce back today.
Certainly the handicapper has given him every chance. He was only raised 3lb in the first place, for his Ffos Las victory and he was subsequently dropped a pound for his Newbury run.
In truth, this does look a very trappy race – and I would be surprised if one or two weren’t too good – even for a peak form Frontier Dancer. However, at ¼ odds a place on the first 4 home, you are getting over 8/1 on him to be placed – and I think that represents a good bet, provided whatever troubled him last time has been cured…

0.25pt EW Frontier Dancer 33/1

Wetherby 2:55

I tipped Storymaker last time he ran at Bangor on Hennessey gold cup day.
He was pulled up that day, but I didn’t think he ran too badly.
I said at the time that he needed a few pounds off his back – and softer ground.
Well, he gets both of those today: he is running off a mark 4lb lower (the same mark as his last wining mark) and on ground which is officially soft.
He is also running over a trip of 2m4f, which is probably more suitable than the 3mile trip at Bangor.
Although quite a competitive race today, it has a nice shape about it and if Storymaker can run his race, then 25/1 to win (5/1 to place) seems a very fair price.

0.5pt EW Storymaker 25/1

Wetherby 3:30

Sophonie was another horse that I tipped last time out (there are getting to be quite a few of these !).
That was in a 2mile chase at Wetherby. She ran very well that day, suggesting that she was handicapped to win. However, she made some significant jumping mistakes and they ultimately cost her.
She is switched to hurdles today, which will hopefully remove the issue of jumping mistakes.
She is also running off a mark 7lb lower. The trip and ground should be perfect –and she has the excellent Lucy Alexander on board, claiming 7lb.
In short, I think she has a very good chance – and if the money comes for her, I think she will win !!

1pt win Sophonie 15/2

Thursday, 22 December 2011

22nd December - Race review

There may only have been one tip last night, but this afternoon was always going to be about 2 horses: the tip, Opera Og and the ‘nearly tip’, Mallusk.
My fear was that Opera Og would run poorly, whilst Mallusk would hack up ! Well, I need not have worried – they both ran poorly – LOL !

In truth, I found the poor run of Opera Og easier to forgive. He simply didn’t jump well enough – which whilst not overly surprising for a horse jumping a fence under rules for the first time, is a little more surprising when the horse has also won it’s only P2P in Ireland. He clattered into a few of the early fences, before making a shuddering mistake at the sixth – almost dislodging Sam Thomas – and that, as they say, was that..!
He was pulled up before the home turn and will certainly need to improve his jumping technique if he is going to make any sort of a mark over fences.

The late defection of Sherwani Wolf seemed to leave the path clear for Mallusk to make a wining seasonal debut. I considered Sherwani Wolf the most likely winner of the race – so I was pleased when he was declared a non runner (even if it did mean a 25% R4 !).
However, Mallusk ran no sort of race and was pulled up before 3 out.
There was no obvious problem – and he didn’t run as if he particularly needed the race. The suggestion was simply that he wasn’t good enough at the weights.
I certainly won’t be rushing to back him next time…

There is now no domestic racing until Boxing day. That’s 3 full days that I’m going to have to manage without my ‘fix’ – including a Saturday !
So it’s cold turkey for 2 days – and then hot turkey for 1 – BOOM, BOOM !
I’m sure I’ll be able find something to fill my time with – maybe I’ll pop out and buy a few presents or something similar !
Whatever, I’ll be back here – either on Christmas day evening – or Boxing day morning – with some selections that will hopefully get the TVB early Bird show back on the road…
So all that remains is for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas – and fingers crossed that Boxing day (or St. Stephens day, if you are from that side of the sea ;) ) is even better !!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Question from Chris

I received this 'comment' earlier this evening and rather than just respond to it (and it quickly get lost in the depths of the blog) I have decided to create a post with it.
Thanks to Chris for doing the asking....

Hi TVB - well done on a cracking blog. Haven't followed you in with any yet but always look out for your selections with lots of interest. I was just wondering - how long has it been since these "earlybird" prices were put up by the books? Obviously Betfair's been forming early markets for a good while now, but is it relatively new thing for the bookies? I just wonder if they do it purely to help them set their prices for the next day when clearly there's a lot more business around - i.e they will adjust their prices accordingly if even just a few quid's coming in for any particular horse. If that's the case, it must be frustrating for, say, a big stable gamble if a price goes the night before - and then I wonder if it could lead to the odd selection, shall we say, not putting their all in, or given wrong tactics. At the moment you're hammering SP with your prices and there's no question you have a very profitable thing going on, well done! Cheers Chris

Hi Chris. I can’t give a definitive answer to your questions – but I’m happy to give you my opinion…
Firstly, the early bird bookmaker market has grown significantly in the last year or so. I suspect this is down to the weakness of Betfair in the evenings. Betfair used to be relatively strong in the evenings – but this has stopped, presumably because the people who were making the books, got stung once too often!
The issue with Betfair for layers, is that it is ‘faceless’. Bookmakers know exactly who they are dealing with – Betfair layers have no idea. Bookmakers can stop successful punter – Betfair layers can’t…
There can be little doubt that the bookmakers need something to mark their card before they are prepared to take decent bets. This used to be Betfair – but with it’s relative demise, they are being forced to test the water themselves.
You could argue that they shouldn’t need it and that they should have sufficient confidence in their odds compilers. However, nowadays the margins the bookmakers play with are so tiny, I can understand why they do what they do…
With regard to the presences of overnight markets messing up potential gambles and big bets – then again, I suspect you are spot on ! There are doubtless a few people cursing the fact I’ve put up Opera Og this evening. The 13/2 lasted no time – and it is now 7/2 ! Relatively speaking, it’s not cost Paddy Power much to find out that they got the price of that horse wrong !
I suspect that this kind of thing could, on occasions, result in a horse maybe not running to it’s merits. However, I do try to pick out horses/stables where I think this is less likely…
In a case like Opera Og, the price was so far out, someone was always going to capitalise quite quickly. I figure it might as well be me (and my followers) as anyone else !!
To be honest, I find the whole thing quite fascinating. It really is a pure battle of wits !
I appreciate that what I’m doing isn’t really scalable – the bookies will see to that ! - but hopefully it will show that you can make money on early bird races if you know what you are doing.
Early bird betting accounts for a relatively small percentage of my racing betting – but it should be the most profitable, percentage wise.
I hope that the blog will enable a few others to make a bit of money – and also educate a little.
If I can achieve that, I will consider my efforts worthwhile :)

22nd December - Selection rationale

I’ve got to admit to being a little irritated this evening…
When I looked at tomorrow’s declarations, at lunchtime today, one horse jumped out at me. That horse was Mallusk, who will be competing in the 2:40 at Hereford tomorrow afternoon.
The reason Mallusk jumped out at me is because he was due to run in the same Lingfield race that Pocket Aces was supposed to be running in on December 10th.
I had tipped Pocket Aces in that race – but was concerned about the danger posed by Mallusk. My concern grew greater when I saw him backed in from an opening 10/1 that day, to around 5/1 at the time of abandonment.
That was despite the fact that Mallusk hasn’t run this season. However, he won on his seasonal debut last season and evidently, someone thought he was capable of doing the same this time round…
My plan was to monitor the markets this afternoon, from when they are first put up by the early bird bookmakers. That can happen any time from 4:00 – but it was around 4:30 when B365 put up Mallusk as a 7/1 shot this evening. I thought that was a bit tight – and hoped 8/1 or 9/1 might subsequently be offered.
Next up where William Hill – and they offered an amazing 12/1! Needless to say, I availed myself of that price and sent a text to a couple of friends suggesting they did likewise.
I then opened up Twitter wrote out my normal tipping message and just before I tweeted, I checked the prices odds checker.
I couldn’t believe that the 12/1 had become 8/1 ! The official timing for the change was 8 minutes – but it honestly felt like 5 at the most. Needless to say, my enthusiasm for the tip was greatly diminished.
In truth, I think 8/1 is a reasonable price – I would say the current 6/1 is nearer the mark – but when you’ve just missed 12/1, it seems like a hollow bet.

I’m therefore left with the dilemma of wanting Mallusk to win because I’ve backed it – and wanting it to lose because I’ve not tipped it !
A lose:win situation maybe – or a win:lose situation - depending on your perspective ?!?!?!

Instead, I switched my attention to the novice handicap chase which is taking place at 1:10 on the same card.
Unfortunately, only 2 bookmakers priced up the race early, so I suspect that only a few of you will have been able to get the suggested price. But I guess a few is better than none…

Hereford 1:10

There is an element of guess work involved in this selection – but as you should know by now, I’m comfortable with that, provided the odds on offer reward appropriately…
Firstly, the negatives: Opera Og has never jumped a fence under rules before. Furthermore, he has only run 3 times over hurdles; being pulled up once and beaten an average of almost 40 lengths in the other 2 races !
However, as a consequence he has a rating of 87 –and whilst she may no longer house the stars she once did, few horses trained by Venetia Williams will have such a lowly rating.
It also seems highly significant that Opera Og is pitched straight into a handicap to make his chasing debut. He won the only P2P that he contested in his native Ireland and is bred for chasing.
The opposition look no great shakes – and if Opera Og does demonstrate an aptitude for chasing, he could be capable of outclassing his rivals.
As I said at the beginning, it all comes down to price – and at 13/2 in an 8 runner race, I feel he is worth a risk.

1pt win Opera Og 13/2

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

20th December - Race reivews

Defeats for Thunder Child and Stripe me Blue today, took the P&L for the month back to zero. I feel like I’ve put in quite a lot of effort to get knowhere ! - but I guess there are no guarantees in this game…

Thunder Child was in the process of running a fair race, when he came to grief at the seventh fence. I very much doubt he would have beaten easy winner, Triple Bluff, even if he had stood up – but he was the only horse giving him any kind of a race and he may well have been placed. Of course, that wouldn’t have done us much good as I had gone win only..!

When horses making their seasonal debut are significant market drifters, it tends to mean one thing…
When I tipped Stripe me Blue this morning, he was a comfortable 16/1 shot (as he was yesterday evening). Apparently Pricewise extra tipped him at lunchtime at and there was a subsequent collapse in price.
I didn’t see the race live, but when I left the house, Stripe me Blue was a solid 10 (9/1) on Betfair. I was therefore a little surprised when I got home to see he had been returned at 25/1 (30 on BF !).
In the race itself, he ran as you would expect a horse who needed the outing, would run…
He raced prominently early; dropped back to last and then made some late headway to finish sixth. He is likely to be dropped a couple of pounds for the run and would definitely be of interest next time out.
Just a quick word about the winner, J’Adhere. He pulled like a train through the entire race – and still managed to find reserves in the final furlong, to battle to victory. I’ve no idea where the massive improvement in form came from – he had looked pretty exposed prior to today. However, if he can be taught to settle, you would have to think, based on today’s performance, that he could go on and record further successes…

20th December - Selection rationale (part 2)

Stripe me Blue was a decent hurdler a couple of seasons ago…
On his seasonal debut in the 2009/2010 season, he finished third to Lie Forrit in a class 2 handicap hurdle at Newbury’s Hennesy meeting.
In his next race, he ran creditably behind Time for Rupert at Cheltenham.
It has been pretty much downhill since that point however – and last season was a total write off.
As a result, he starts this campaign on a very decent mark (106) and is also having his first run for a new trainer (Jonathon Geake).
Stripe me Blue has shown that he can run well when fresh – not just with his performance behind Lie Forrit – but also the previous season , when he finished fourth in the class 1 Gerry Fieldon hurdle, again at Newbury’s Hennesy meeting. Jonathon Geake is also quite capable of readying one to win after a long absence.
There can be little doubt that Stripe me Blue is very well handicapped if he does return to form (he has run consistently to a rating in the 120s in the past). So with ground and distance to suit, I think he is worth a small play to come good at the first time of asking, for his new stable.

0.5pt EW Strip me Blue 16/1

Monday, 19 December 2011

20th December - Selection rationale

Thunder Child must be the most written about, untipped horse on the blog – until now…!

In fairness, I did actually try to tip him early in November, but he was withdrawn from his intended engagement that day.
I also toyed with tipping him last time out – but he was up against 3 unexposed sort – and running over an unproven distance.
He ran disappointingly that day but, as I said at the time, I am prepared to forgive that run. Certainly, his movement in the market prior to that race, suggested that someone thinks he can be very competitive off his current mark, in the right event…
Only time will tell whether tomorrow’s race is the ‘right’ event. However, the distance of 2 miles looks to be more suitable than the 3 miles he was asked to race over last time and the opposition also look a lot more exposed…
My main concern is probably the suitability of the ground. Thunder Child seems to have demonstrated a preference for quick going – and it is likely to be on the slow side tomorrow.
However, he hasn’t conclusively proved that soft ground is unsuitable – and the drop back to 2 miles should off-set, to an extent, the more taxing ground conditions.
I won’t go into the detail of why I think he has a good chance on form – if you want the logic for selecting him, you should check out the blog posts from 9th & 24th November.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t see Thunder Child as a rock solid selection – but I do think that he is extremely interesting and that he has got a definite chance.
The 10/1 available early with Paddy Power therefore looked too big – I would be happy down to a price of around 15/2…

1pt win Thunder Child 10/1

Sunday, 18 December 2011


As I’ve not posted today and because tips are likely to be thin on the ground this week, I thought I would take a little time to look back at the past fortnight and see if things have really gone off the rails, as appears might be the case…!

There is no arguing, that in terms of performance, the last 2 weeks have been very poor.
24 tips haven’t yielded a single winner – and a loss of 26.5 points (on 32 staked).
Things don’t get much worse than that !

However, when I dig a little deeper and use the same measures I used at the end of last month (which had decent profits) the picture looks very different indeed…

5 of the 24 tips have finished first or second (well, second actually !) which is just under the 25% target (same as last month). Additionally, a further 6 have finished third or fourth – so as with November, around 50% of the horses tipped have placed (additionally, Otage De Brion took the wrong course and Pockets Aces unshipped his rider).

The average odds have been 13/1 – slightly down on 15/1 in November – but not significantly…

The price taken to Betfair starting price ratio (adjusted for amount staked) shows a profit of over 8 points. This is really strong and almost matches the level achieved in the whole of November.

So, as you can see, based on these measures, the performance during the past fortnight has been just as good as that of the proceeding month !

Of course, we all know that there are lies, damn lies and statistics – and the only thing that actually matters, is the profit/loss.
However, there will always be variance over any short period of time – luck can either be with you or against you – and the re-assuring thing from my perspective is that the measures I used when things were looking good, tell me that things have looked almost exactly the same over the past 2 weeks.
The fact that there has been a sizeable loss during this period is obviously unfortunate, but the suggestion is that I’ve not significantly deviated from my path during this time. Therefore, this is just a short term blip and everything should still turn out fine in the end !

That’s the way I’m interpreting the theory, anyway ;)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

17th December - Race reviews

Another frustrating afternoon that yielded no returns – despite all 3 selections running reasonably well.
I’ve no option other than to keep on plugging away – but I do feel like a could do with a change of fortune at the moment…

I was a little disappointed with the ride given to Reindeer Dippin. He is a horse that can race prominently, so I’m not sure why he was held up in last place. The pace wasn’t ferocious and it just meant that he had to make up ground – and had a very unpleasant journey, getting a lot of kick back.
I thought he still ran quite well: he was outpaced coming round the home turn but stayed on stoutly up the home straight to finish a never nearer fourth.
It’s difficult to think he wouldn’t have been placed with a slightly more aggressive (or at least, less passive) ride – but these things happen…

Atouchbetweenacara always seemed to be struggling in the chase. To his credit, he managed to plod on into fifth place – but that flattered him a little.
Our Island was also flattered to be beaten just length into second place – but if the race had been run over 10 yards further, he would have won !
My suggestion that he needed an absolute test of stamina, whilst Cannington Brook might not, were almost very prophetic – but not quite !
I suspect that everything that finished today at Haydock, will need a good few weeks to get over their exertions – conditions were truly desperate…

17th December - Selection rationale

It was good to see all 3 domestic cards get the green light this morning – particularly Haydock, where there was most doubt and where my 3 selections for the day are running.
There is also a nice looking card at Ascot – but try as I might, I couldn’t find a convincing angle into any of the races.
I’ll be watching them closely though, as I’m sure the big races will reveal many clues for the forthcoming months…
So, onto today’s selections:

Haydock 2:10

I can only imagine how desperate the conditions at Haydock will be this afternoon…
Half an inch of slush onto top of ground that was already heavy, must have left the going only just on the right side of raceable.
It will take a particular type of horse to cope today – and I can foresee very few finishers in most of the races…
I tipped Reindeer Dippin last time and was really disappointed when he was beaten by Featherbed Lane. He was in no way unlucky that day – just unlucky to run into such a promising opponent.
There is a danger he will be similarly unlucky today – but I can see no reason why he won’t run a very big race regardless.
The thing about Reindeer Dippin, is that he relishes the type of conditions that he will get today – and you can't say that of many horses !
He is also reasonably handicapped (just 1lb higher than last time) running over an ideal course and distance – and carrying a reasonable weight (11st 1lb).
In short, I can see no reason why he won’t run a very big race – he is definitely in the Buffalo Bob category !
I have 2 concerns: firstly, I don’t know why Jason Maguire isn’t on board. He is stable jockey to Donald McCain and I would therefore expect him to have the pick of his runners. He has sided with Across the Bay – who is reasonably handicapped and should also handle conditions. I would have preferred him on the Reindeer, but he’s not…
The second concern is that Reindeer might run into another very progressive rival (in the Featherbed Lane mould). The most obvious candidate for that, is Moonlight Drive. He has only run 3 times under rules and certainly looks progressive. However, his ability to handle ground like today’s would have to be taken totally on trust – and as the son of a Presenting mare (who generally have a strong preference for quicker ground) I would be wanting more than the 6/1 on offer, with those kind of doubts.
In summary, I think Reindeer Dippin is a very solid selection,. I will be surprised if he can’t go close and am optimistic that he might be good enough to win.

1pt EW Reindeer Dippin 9/1

Haydock 2:45

Atouchbetweenacara really caught my eye when running very well last time out at Chepstow.
It had been a long time since he has shown anything worthwhile, but the Chepstow run really did seem to signal a return to some kind of form.
Assuming that wasn’t a false dawn, then there can be little doubt, that he is very well handicapped today. Now rated 128, he is running off a mark 20lb lower than at his prime. He also has the services of apprentice Harry Challenor, who takes another 7lb off his back, meaning that he will only be carrying 10st 2lb today. The importance of carrying such a low weight in today’s gruelling conditions, can’t be under-estimated. Prior to his last run, I would have been concerned that today’s ground wouldn’t suit Atouchbetweeacara. However, he handled heavy at Chepstow -and if you can handle it there, you can handle it at most places !!
The other horse I want a little saver on, is Our Island. He hasn’t really had his conditions so far this year – I suspect he needs a real slog. He will get that today and could well prove that he is significantly better than his current 128 rating.
It will be a hell of a performance if Wymott can win this off 11st 11lb – and whilst Cannington Brook would have to rate a danger, I just wonder if he will really be suited to a war of attrition…

0.5pt EW Atouchbetweenacara 16/1
0.5pt win Our Island 14/1

Thursday, 15 December 2011

15th December - Race reviews

I might have hoped that the day wouldn’t disappoint – but as has been the case most days recently, it did !!

Lucky Landing ran almost exactly the same race as he did last time out…
He travelled really well until the home turn – and then as soon as pressure was applied, he stopped to nothing. It does look like he has a breathing issue – and it also looks as if the tongue tie didn’t resolve it.
My guess is that we won’t see him for a while and he will be operated on.
In that scenario, I might be prepared to get involved with him again (the way he travels demonstrates he has significant ability) – but if connections persevere with him in the short term, it will be without my money on him…

Pocket Aces and jockey Tom Cannon, got no further than the fifth fence.
Pocket Aces made a mistake – and young Mr Cannon couldn’t stay aboard.
In truth, it didn’t look like the worse mistake ever – but I guess that’s part of the deal when you have an apprentice on board.
Pocket Aces then proceeded to jump round the course like a buck – and would all but have won the race, if it wasn’t a requirement to finish with your jockey on top !
I would be prepared to ignore this run and give him another chance.
The big eye-catcher was Midnight Tuesday, who pulled like crazy in the early stages but still looked likely to win coming down to the last.
I would expect him to go very close next time out – though it is unusual for fancied horses from the Pipe stable not to be backed, so he may just have to be watched…

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

15th December - Selection rationale

I get the feeling that tomorrow is going to big a big day for me – and not just because it’s my birthday ! (which, co-incidentally, I share with Frankie Dettori – Happy Birthday Frankie, if you are reading this ;) )
Tomorrow is the first day that I have put up 2 ‘strong’ selections (I define ‘strong’ as any selection staked at greater than 1pt). Furthermore, Lucky Landing becomes the biggest single bet I’ve had – and with some justification IMO !
Let’s hope the day doesn't disappoint !!

Exeter 2:50

I guess it won’t have come as much of a surprise, to see me tipping Pocket Aces tomorrow. I had him as a 2 point tip on Saturday, before racing at Lingfield was abandoned.
I guess the only surprise might be that he’s become a 1.5pt tip – and that despite the fact it was possible to get 14/1 earlier this evening, when 11/1 was the best we could get on Saturday. Am I not being loyal to my value principals, you ask?!…
The reason for this apparent reduction in confidence, is simply the opposition. I wish that Pocket Aces had been able to take his chance on Saturday, because that race didn’t look as strong as tomorrow’s does.
I still feel he is worth a bet – but I am particularly worried about 2 or 3 of his opponents.
As you may recall, I tipped Pocket Aces when he made his seasonal debut at Plumpton in the middle of November. I viewed him as a slightly risky selection that day, but I need not have worried as he ran a really good race to finish fourth.
Interestingly, Penny Max, the horse who finished third in that race, won really well at Newbury this afternoon, to give that form a solid look.
I said after the Plumpton race, that of all the selections I’d tipped to that point, Pocket Aces was the one I would feel most comfortable giving the tag of ‘winner next time’ to – well, tomorrow is the next time.
I can’t see a particular issue with either the trip or ground (he has won previously on heavy) - and I particularly like to booking of top apprentice Tom Cannon, to take an extra 5lb off the horses back (which will help hugely on the heavy going). The handicapper has also lowered him 1lb from his last run, which won’t hinder either !
As I said, my biggest issue is with some of his rivals – and mainly because they are totally unexposed and therefore could be anything.
The most obvious in this category, are Midnight Tuesday and Great’s Autrenchene. The former is making his chasing debut for David Pipe and has decent hurdle form behind him, whilst the latter is making his UK debut for Venetia Williams, with decent French form behind him. If money came for either of them, I would be worried.
I would also be worried if money came for the JP McManus owned Valley View, with the new ‘wonder apprentice’ Maurice Linehan on board.
However, Pocket Aces is priced up to take into account these concerns. I could have put him up EW just in case one of these other animals proves to be thrown in – but I have a slight issue that Pocket Aces isn’t the most reliable himself, and therefore not absolutely sure to run his race. I don’t want to be losing double the points in that scenario (we are not talking a Buffalo Bob type character here !).
All in all, I think it worth a play that Pocket Aces runs to form and non of the other end up being handicap good things. If that proves to be the case, I think he will take some beating !

1.5pt win Pocket Aces 14/1

Towcester 1:40

As I’ve inferred in the write up above, there are two important things to consider when you are tipping a horse: firstly, the horse itself – but secondly, the opposition it faces.
I will be familiar with most of the horses I tip (I will know their strengths, weaknesses, preferences etc.) – I enjoy latching onto a particular horse and getting to understand it’s characteristics and quirks.
What is a lot more difficult to do, is to get a proper handle on all of the opponents it faces in a particular race. It would be just too time consuming to do this properly for every selection I make, so I cut corners…
I know roughly what level of opposition I would expect a selection to face – and I can spot the horses that could possibly be above that level.
It takes a long time to acquire this kind of innate skill – but it’s something I think you need if you are going to tip – or even just bet – effectively…
Some of you will recall that I tipped Lucky Landing the last time it ran. It was making it’s chasing debut that day, following a promising hurdle run at Carlisle.
I tipped it despite the fact it was a relatively risky selection – and quite a short price.
Disappointingly, it failed to complete the course that day, being pulled up 3 fences form home. Yet despite that, I thought it ran a cracking race !
It appeared simply not to get home – and I thought it would benefit from a drop back in trip (it was still going well until half a mile from home). Tomorrow, it runs over a 2m4f trip (half a mile less than last time) – and also has a tongue tie applied. The tongue tie suggests that maybe it had a breathing issue (as opposed to simply not staying) – but either way, I would now be very optimistic that it will last home tomorrow.
It has also been dropped 5lb in the handicap and drops from class 3 to class 4 company – and this is despite, as I said, me thinking it ran really well to a point, last time out.
That is the case for the horse – but it is the quality of the opposition, that makes this the strongest bet I have put up so far…
In short, I’m struggling to see a serious danger. If forced, I would probably nominate Silver Roque – he has potential but he still also has a lot to prove.
To summarise, provided Lucky Landing jumps round OK – and is not beset by a breathing problem, I think he will win - It really is as simple as that ! Furthermore, the race is being run at Towcester, so the chance of the jockey taking the wrong course are also pretty remote ! So long as he remembers to weigh in, I’m very optimistic of having a memorable birthday for the right reasons !!

3pt win Lucky Landing 11/2

14th December - Race review

It was another case of close but no cigar for today’s selection, The Boss, as he finished runner-up in the 3:05 race at Newbury…
I was right about the value aspect though – and how ! He was sent off 2/1 second favourite – which was a heck of a punt from last night’s prices (even bigger than I expected).
However, it was telling that in the face of such sustained support for The Boss, the market leader, Back bob Back was just as strong, shortening from 2/1 last night to 11/8 at the off.
As the market suggested, they finished first and second, with Point West the only other horse who ever looked likely to take a hand in the finish (he unfortunately fell, again, when beaten at the last).
In truth, I can have few complaints. Despite The Boss putting a determined challenge up the straight, Back bob Back always looked to be holding him and ultimately won quite comfortably.
I think The Boss was just unlucky to come up against a very decent rival, who had perfect conditions.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

14th December - Selection rationale

I had a bit of a dilemma at around 4:45 this evening…
As is normally the case, I had started working my way through the early bird races.
I was hoping to find something in the 12:50 race at Newbury – but after studying it for a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that the bookmakers had priced it up about right.
The only other race priced up at Newbury at the time, was the 3:05.
With only 6 runners, it wasn’t a race that particularly attracted me – but I figured I’d take a quick look.
3 horses caught my eye: Back bob Back, The Boss and Point West.
Back bob Back was 2/1 favourite – and Point West has fallen the last twice he has run (so you would have to be concerned that the priority tomorrow, is simply to get him round). So that just left The Boss.
By my reckoning, 3/1 would have been a fair price – and 4/1 or more, a potential tip. I was therefore staggered to see 6/1 with William Hill.
The dilemma I faced was whether I backed it myself and just ‘mentioned’ it on the blog (a bit like Midnight Haze last week) or whether I tweeted it as a tip.
I decided to tweet it – accepting that only a few of you were ever likely to be able to get the price. However, I figured that a few was better than non !
If it does win, I’ll credit the P&L with a reasonable figure – but I won’t worry too much about that until it actually wins !
So, the case for the horse…

Newbury 3:05

The Boss made it’s seasonal debut in the handicap chase won by Roalco De Farge on Hennessy day. That was a really competitive 15 runner, class 3 event and yet despite making his seasonal debut that day, The Boss went off an 11/2 shot.
He ran creditably as well, staying in contention until a couple of late blunders put paid to his chances – but looking as if the run would bring him on…
Tomorrow, with that run behind him, he is contesting a 6 runner class 4 event - off a 4lb lower mark – yet was available at a slightly bigger price ! Now maybe you can see why I was staggered by William Hill’s offer!!
Ofcourse, that doesn’t mean he will win – just that he was huge value at 6/1 (and even the 9/2 that his price was shortened to). Back bob Back remains a danger – as does Point West (if he jumps OK) – but if you get 6/1 on a horse that should really be 3/1, you’ve got to be very unlucky not to come out on top over a period of time…
That said, tomorrow is just another race, so mis-fortune is as likely as it was on Monday, when Otage De Brion finished a circuit early or on Friday, when Balthazars King took the wrong course.
Just because you’ve just thrown two sixes on a dice, doesn’t make you any less likely to throw a third one ! Let’s hope it’s a one this time tho ;)

2pt win The Boss 6/1

Bangor 1:10

I was half tempted to tip Incentivise in this race, at the 13/2 with Boylesports.
I tipped him last time out when he ran at Exeter. I fancied him quite strongly that day but he ran very disappointingly. The RP race reviewer speculated that the disappointing run was due to the ground not being soft enough for him – if that is the case, he must go close tomorrow, on softer ground.
Personally, I thought he struggled to handle the weight he was carrying – and he has an even bigger burden tomorrow.
He also has a few credible rivals to overcome, so on balance, I opted for a watching brief…

Monday, 12 December 2011

12th December - Race review

Following the cross country chase at Cheltenham on Friday, I said I would like a bit of the luck of the guy who managed to get the tricast up in that race (when the 6 horses in front of his 3 took the wrong course !).
I think the events at Fakenham today, demonstrated that the good fortune has not been transferred across :(
I don’t want to harp on about bad luck too much – it gets you nowhere (in fact, it can almost become self-fulfilling) – but have to admit that I was left wondering again, after the events of this afternoon…

The thing was, Otage De Brion was jumping and travelling like a dream in front. I know there was still a circuit to go, but I really couldn’t see how he was not going to be involved in the finish. The Betfair IR players thought the same – he was trading at just over 2/1 at the time of his exit…
These things happen – people make mistakes. You wouldn’t think it that difficult to count up to 3 – but Sam Waley-Cohen clearly found it a bit tricky !
His post race suggestion that the horse had choked were in a way, understandable (he would have thought himself likely to lose the King George ride on Long Run) – but they were also laughable and didn’t show him in a particularly good a light. Desperate events cause desperate reactions, I guess…

I’m not sure where all this leaves Otage De Brion. Presumably he will be running in a tongue tie next - whether he needs one or not ! The way he travelled today suggests that compensation should be just around the corner – provided he isn’t made some kind of sacrificial lamb !

I did think the race was going to take a further turn for the worse, when Only Vintage mounted a challenge at the last. He was the horse I was initially drawn to last night – but I felt I couldn’t put him up (at 25/1 !) due to his very poor run last time.
Well, he ran a whole lot better today – and might even have won if he hadn’t capsized at the final fence. The fall managed to save my tipping sanity, but it didn’t do a lot for me betting wise, as I’d hade a small saver on him just in case he did miraculously recover his form.

I guess sometime, you just get one of those races – and today’s certainly fell into that category !!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

12th December - Selection rationale

Part of the reason behind me creating this blog, was so that I had something interesting to do in the cold, dark winter nights (rather than just watching TV !)…
Saturdays are great for racing action, but I really enjoying wrestling with the following day’s feature race on a mid-week evening.
This evening, I’ve had the best part of an hour, to mull over the runners for the handicap chase that takes place at Fakenham tomorrow afternoon.
I started with a horse – and I ended up with the same horse – but I assessed the chances of all the opponents in between.

Fakenham 2:00

You won’t be too surprised to hear that the horse I started with was Otage De Brion.
Some of you will recall that I tipped him when he last ran, at Doncaster, a couple of weeks ago. He ran a very creditable race that day to finish third.
I tipped him for that race because he had previously run a very solid race at Bangor.
I don’t know how many people reading this blog are actually interested in form study, but for those who are, this is a classic case of a really solid horse to back…
He has been steadily coming to the boil this season, posting slightly improved efforts on his last 2 runs; the form of his last run was franked on Saturday, when the winner of that race won a better quality race at Doncaster; he has been dropped a pound by the handicapper for the Doncaster run; he has trip and ground in his favour tomorrow.
In short, provided his jumping holds up, he should build further on his last run – and if he does that, he should go very close to winning.
If every horse you backed was as solid as this one, you wouldn’t lose money – trust me on that !
In terms of the opposition, the first thing that struck me is that quite a few of them have been harshly punished for last time out victories. The ‘1’ next to their names will make them attractive to punters – but the increase in their handicap marks should temper enthusiasm…
The most stark example of this is Investment Affair (who is the 7/1 second favourite). He won a 5 runner race that just fell apart, last time out – and has been raised 10lb for doing so ! Further more, he is an 11 year old (12 in a few weeks time). I’m not saying he can’t win – but you wouldn’t catch me getting involved at those kind of odds !!
Knight Legend, Gorge and Frontier Spirit also fall into this category. As with Investment Affair, I’m not saying they can’t win – just that they have a much more difficult job to do so than the betting implies.
A few of the runner are also either totally out of form or haven’t run for a very long time, so it would be a guess to put them up (Nozic, Cottage Flyer, Harouet and Qrackers fall into this category).
That left me with 4 runners to consider: The Magic Bishop, Pilgrims Lane, Only Vintage and Otage De Brion.
The Magic Bishop looked last time out, as if he was correctly handicapped, so he was the first one I dismissed.
I wanted to put up Only Vintage as he is handicapped to win. However, watching his last run, I just didn’t see enough. He might come good I guess, but it would take an act of faith to back him.
Pilgrims Lane however is very interesting – and I considered a saver on him. Provided the ground stays quick (which is not guarenteed), I can see no other reason why he shouldn’t run well.
However, the most solid option is Otage De Brion – he wouldn't want the ground too soft either (though he should handle a little cut) but assuming that's not the case, I will be extremely disappointed if he doesn’t go very close.

1pt EW Otage De Brion 12/1

Saturday, 10 December 2011

10th December - Race reviews

I think this afternoon has to go down as disappointing.
Clearly it wasn’t helped by the weather, which denied the best bet of the day the opportunity to run – but the 3 that did compete all came up short.

First on was Oiseau De Nuit and he probably ran best of today’s selections in finishing fourth.
I thought he was sure to at least finish in the frame, as he mounted his challenge on the run to the second last. However, he just couldn’t find the extra reserves to get up the hill, unlike the 3 who were in front of him.
On this performance, it looks as if he is 3 or 4lbs too high in the handicap – though if he continues to run as gamely as he did today, it will be a little while before the handicapper rests his grip on him !

Next up was Quipe me Posted.
His biggest issue was the fact that he tried to take 2 or 3 of the fences with him ! He made a couple of shuddering mistakes and in a competitive handicap, you are simply not going to get away with that.
In the circumstances, he did well to finish sixth – but he will need to brush up his jumping if he is going to progress any further this season.
It was a bit ironic, but the 2 horses who franked his form of last season: Rileyev and Quianshan Leader both ran screamers today. Rileyev was nailed on the line by Astracad at Cheltenham; whilst Qianshan Leader gamely won the final race at Doncaster.

Clerk’s Choice was the biggest disappointment of the day.
I said in last night’s write up that I hoped I wouldn’t regret just having a point on him. Well, I did regret it – I regretted the fact I’d had anything at all on him !!
At no point in the race was he sighted with any chance. I guess he might have needed the run – or he might have gone backwards since his stable move.
Either way, he would be a difficult horse to support next time out…

10th December - Selection rationale (Doncaster)

Just a quick word on today’s additional selection. We are now in peak betting time, so I need to keep this short !

Doncaster 2:15

The case for Quipe me Posted is simply that he was a progressive young chaser last year – who bumped into a couple of fair animals towards the back end of last season.
He started this campaign with a pipe opener in a very decent race at Cheltenham. He was never sighted there, but provided that run has brought him on, off a 2lb lower mark today, I can see him running a good race.
20/1 or thereabouts looks too big to me in an open race…

0.5pt EW Quipe me Posted 22/1

Friday, 9 December 2011

10th December - Selection rationale (Cheltenham)

I’m splitting my tips and writes ups into 2 halves for tomorrow.
In part, this is due to the uncertainty over the non-Cheltenham fixtures (freezing temperatures are forecast) and maybe connected to this, the bookmakers have been a little lax in pricing up some of the races.
Depending on how things pan out, there could be a further 2 or 3 more tips tomorrow morning.
If that’s the case, they will be out before 9:00.
For now though, there is just the write up for the two Cheltenham selections – plus a few thoughts on the big handicap…

Cheltenham 1:20

You are likely to find over the next few months, that some horses will get tipped by me a number of times…
This is not me being lazy ! I try to find horses which I feel are ready to win. Sometimes I’ll be spot on first time; other times, I will have arrived a run or two too early. In that case, provided I see nothing that changes my mind, there is a fair chance I will continue to tip the same horse (Fiendish Flame and Buffalo Bob are good examples of this happening)
Last time out, I tipped Oiseau de Nuit in the Paddy Power gold cup.
That was on the back of what I considered to be an almost career best run in the Halden Gold Cup.
Unfortunately, Oiseau De Nuit made a shuddering mistake in the Paddy Power gold cup, which ruined any chance he may have had in that contest. He ended up coming home a well beaten 12th – but I think the run can be ignored. He was certainly travelling well enough in the race until that mistake.
My biggest concern last time, was whether Oiseau De Nuit would be suited to the step up to 2m4f. Well tomorrow, he is running back over 2miles, so that concern is removed.
Furthermore, the presence of Tanks for That, should ensure there is a strong gallop, which is precisely what Oiseau needs. As has been the case for his last few outings, a decent claimer has been booked to ride and he will take off a valuable 7lb.
Dangers abound in the race, most notably Oh Crick and the novice Astracad (who is owned by the family of the Jenny Mould, whose honour the race is run in aid of – he will have been laid out for this race).
However, off a pound lower rating than in the Paddy Power, Oiseau De Nuit should run a really solid race – and may even be able to get his head in front where it matters.
I was going to put him up EW, but I don’t like the place terms on offer (1/5th odds 1,2,3) so instead I’m suggesting just a small place bet to cover the win part of the bet.

1pt win/0.5pt place Oiseau de Nuit 16/1

Cheltenham 3:05

I don’t think this race is a strong as it initially looks…
With the possible exception of Grandouet, I can’t see any of these making an impact in a champion hurdle - which is a bit surprising for a race if it’s stature.
As the only one with real star potential, I guess Grandouet could have been a tip. However, he still has a lot to prove and is best priced at 3/1…
I think the race looks primed for a shock – the difficulty is figuring out who might be capable of providing it…
Strange as it might sound, the form horse in the race is Clerks Choice !
He finished just a couple of lengths behind Menorah in last seasons champion hurdle and is 4lb better of tomorrow. As he was also only 5 at the time, he should have the greater scope for improvement. Overturn was 5 lengths further back that day, so he is safely held on 4lb better terms !
So that’s the second and third favourites taken care of – and as the other 2 well fancied horses in the race are both 4 year olds (Grandouet and Brampour) and I have a bit of an issue with 4 year olds taking on their elders over hurdles, the tip almost selected itself !
I would feel far happier if Clerk’s Choice had already run this season – but he won on his seasonal debut last year and I suspect that new trainer, Oliver Sherwood will have him tuned for tomorrow.
He has saved all of his best hurdling performances for Cheltenham – and will relish the relatively quick ground.
In fact, the more I write about him the more I wonder why I’ve only had a point on him ! Here’s hoping I live to rue that decision ;)

1pt win Clerk’s Choice 14/1

Cheltenham 2:30

My what a trappy race this is !
I could literally give half the field a decent chance – and in those situations, it is invariably best to leave a race alone.
The big eye-catcher, is AP McCoy doing 10st 4lb to ride Sunnyhillboy. I mentioned the other day that maybe JP McManus is in need of a few Euro at the moment – and if this one is really backed tomorrow, you would have to take note. The trouble is, according to the form book (and to my eyes !) he should struggle to win; consequently, I will struggle to back him !
I was half tempted to tip Salut Flo. I think he could go very close, provided David Pipe has him fully revved up after 616 days off the track ! However a best price of 12/1 almost assumes this is the case, so he wasn’t too difficult to leave alone.
From a form perspective, I would probably go with either Great Endeavour or Divers.
However, Ghizao, Medermitt and Roudoudou Ville all look interesting !
As I said at the beginning, a very trappy race, which I feel it is best to leave alone from a betting perspective !

9th December - Race reviews

Just occasionally, I don’t mind losing money ! If I can view it as an investment for the future, then I am prepared to take the odd hit – so long as it is relatively small !
That is exactly how I view today’s loss on Aather - because one thing is for sure, to quote the old saying, ‘it’s only money lent’ !
The horse cruised through the race and, as it rounded the final bend, it looked sure to play a hand in the finish. It then went out like a light and ultimately finished well beaten.
It will doubtless have it’s rating dropped a few pounds for today’s run - not that it really needs it ! Mark my words, this horse will win very soon, and we will be on it when it does ;)
It would be reasonable to ask, why I tipped it today, when I suspected all along that today wasn’t going to be the day…
At the end of the day, it was a 25/1 shot, that was handicapped to win. My guess was that the booking of the 10lb claimer demonstrated that today wasn’t the day – but there was a possibility it could have demonstrated the complete opposite !
If it had been backed down to 5/1 favourite and bolted up, I would have been gutted – and the 0.5pt win was simply an insurance against that happening.
You have to think long term in this game…

I can’t help but feel that we missed one with Knockara Beau…
I was proven right to take on the top 2 in the market – and there was sufficient confidence behind Knockara to make me think I’d got that call right as well.
However, ultimately that proved not to be the case.
In fairness, he ran a sound race – but he simply needed more of a test. He made a couple of mistakes when the pace quickened 4 out and lost a fair amount of ground. He closed bravely up the final hill, to take second, but he was never going to get to the winner.
This horse needs a specific set of conditions over fences – and when he gets them, he will win. If that happens in the next couple of months, I’ll make sure we are on him.

Finally (and it does seem an appropriate place to end !) the cross country chased descended into a complete farce, with only 3 of the runner taking the correct course - and unfortunately, Balthazars King was not one of the 3…
It is difficult to know where he would have finished if he had gone the right way. He was under pressure – but staying on. I suspect he would have been placed – but I’m not so sure he would have won.
For what it’s worth, my interpretation of events, is that Richard Johnson did try to take the correct course – but the horse was intent on following the leaders (they are pack animals after all).
It’s very easy to blame the jockey in situations like that, but I think he thought the leader was making a bee-line for the rail and he was following. It was only when it became apparent that she was making a bee-line for next course, that Johnson tried to take corrective action – but by then it was too late.
These things happen – and you can guarantee that when things aren’t going you way, they will go against you…

Talking of which, I’m an occasional viewer of the Betfair forum and I noticed just after the race that a guy posted who had managed to get a successful combination tricast on the race ! Apparently he had it to 50p units –and the bet paid £1609 !
Maybe when he’s finished with his luck , he can pass some of it on to me !!

9th December - Selection rationale (part 2)

Cheltenham 2:20

This is not a rock solid selection, but at the odds, I think Balthazar King is worth a risk…
He is barely out of the novice stage, so taking on the Cheltenham cross country course could be quite a challenge, However, he is an extremely competent jumper – and he likes to race prominently. I’m therefore hoping that Richard Johnson will grasp the mettle and try and take the race from the front.
I don’t think he will have any issues with the trip – and he should love the ground.
They are unable to water the cross country course at Cheltenham, so the ground will be riding very quick indeed. I think this will be a big negative for ScotsIrish, a horse who loves to get his toe in.
Garde Champetre seems to finally be in decline (if only slowly !) and I can’t get overly excited about Uncle Junior (probably because of his form with Garde Champetre and because jockey bookings suggest he is Willie Mullins second string).
Nothing else really jumps out at me – though good runs from Double Dizzy and even Hennessy (who is a massive price) wouldn’t altogether surprise…

1pt win Balthazar King 14/1

Thursday, 8 December 2011

9th December - Selection rationale

It’s always great to see racing at Cheltenham and whilst initially I was a little disappointed with the fields on offer tomorrow, half an hours studying left me in a more positive frame of mind !!
In truth, there are at least 3 races which I wouldn’t bet in, as I think the favourite will win at prohibitively short odds – but that still left me 4 others to have a go at.
I’ve found 2 tips so far, with a third likely tomorrow morning. Hopefully at least one of them will deliver the goods…

Cheltenham 12:35

In slightly different circumstances, I could be really keen on Aather…
If he was still trained by Alan Fleming and had Timmy Murphy on board, he would be close to a maximum bet !
That is to take absolutely nothing away from his new trainer, David Arbuthnot, who is very competent indeed. However, we now can’t be sure that the horse will be primed for tomorrow – and that is key. The fact he is also ridden by a very inexperienced 10lb claimer further tempers enthusiasm and makes a potential maximum bet, a minimum bet !!
On the plus side, Aather is very well handicapped; has shown in the past that he can go well fresh and should still be progressing. On his seasonal debut last year, he finished fourth in a class 1 race at Ascot off a mark of 125.
With another year on his back and running on a mark 4lb lower in a class 3 race, if he were to run to the same level of form tomorrow, he would just about win.
On balance, I felt it worth a small risk at odds of 25/1. In truth though, I suspect he will be of more interest next time out…

0.5pt win Aather 25/1

Cheltenham 1:45

This race is interesting primarily because of the horses at the head of the market…
Mon Parrain and Fair along are talented animals – but you wouldn’t catch me backing either of them at 9/4 and 7/2 respectively !
There is a definite possibility that Mo Parrain has been seriously over-hyped. That certainly appeared to be the case when he ran so disappointingly in the Paddy Power gold cup. You would need a very forgiving nature to follow him in again off the same mark – and whilst I can be forgiving, it is far more difficult at odds of 9/4 !
Fair Along is a thoroughly admirable horse – but to say he is exposed is something of an understatement. He ran very well in the Hennessy – but you couldn’t be sure he would repeat that form – and even if he did, he is more likely to run on and be placed, that to actually win.
Mostly Bob is potentially interesting, but the solid option is Knockara Beau. He is a border-line top class animal who has some very good Cheltenham form. He finished fourth behind Midnight Chase in this very race last year (off a 6lb higher mark) and has also finished fourth in a Sun Alliance chase – as well as being runner up to Weird Al and, potential wonder horse, Grands Crus.
I think he would prefer slightly softer ground than he is likely to get – but hopefully he will be able to overcome that.
Otherwise, I think he is an extremely solid selection.

1.5pt win Knockara Beau 8/1

8th December - Race reviews

They say that a week is a long time in politics – well it feels like a long time in tipping at the moment !
It’s hard to believe that only a week ago, Fiendish Flame was romping home at Leicester. A lot has happened on the blog since then – and not much of it will be remembered for the right reasons !

Today’s little episode of drama, wasn’t brought to us by the tip – it was brought to us by the one that got away…
A couple of weeks ago, I vowed to put up more tips, so that I didn’t miss out on ‘mentions’ winning. I’ve been true to my word since that point – with no significant ‘mentions’, until today…
The trouble is, I can have the best intentions, but I still have a life to juggle along with my racing ’interest’ – and quite often, the life has to take priority !
Consequently, I sometimes simply can’t get out the fact that I want to back a horse. And in accordance with sods law, you can almost guarantee that when that happens, the horse in question will bolt up !
Enter stage right Midnight Haze, who battled on gamely to win the handicap chase at Ludlow. For a good chunk of the final mile of the contest, it looked as if the enigmatic Pigeon Island might save the day, but he faded up the straight and Midnight Haze retuned victorious,
So much for trying to fate him on the blog L

The performance of Bill the Yank wasn’t really a shock – not when looked at in conjunction with the market moves…
I said that he would need to be backed to win – and whilst he initially was backed (and well backed, from 14/1 down to 8/1) - in the important pre-race hour, he drifted like a barge…
His SP was 16/1 – but he was easy to back at 25 on BF, moments before the off. He actually ran quite well to a point – but weakened badly in the final half mile and eventually finished tailed off.
I intend to remove him from my list of horses to follow…

Finally the Peterborough chase at Huntingdon.
As I suggested, Mr Moonshine led for most of the way, but was picked off by Somersby on the run to the final fence. The only trouble was, Gauvain was 6 lengths clear of the pair of them at that point !
I’ve got to be honest and say I just couldn’t see that happening. I thought Gauvain was an unlikely winner of the race – but I was wrong.
Unlike Tom Segal, who apparently put it up as his Pricewise selection. I don’t follow tipsters myself – and never would – but if I did, Tom would be top of the list.
He really is different class to anyone else out there. He ability to nail big race winner after big race winner almost beggars belief.
I think he is to tipping what AP McCoy is to Jump Jockeys – I can pay him no bigger complement than that !!

8th December - Selection rationale

It’s a really good day’s racing for the midweek, with the Peterborough chase at Huntingdon providing the headline act.
That said, the rest of the Huntingdon card is reasonable, as are the cards at Taunton and Ludlow.
If I’d had a little more time yesterday evening, I suspect I could have found a few bets. But, as is often the case, other demands on my time meant that I had to focus on a couple of races.
My efforts yielded just the one bet – and a very speculative one at that ! – but as you should know by now, I like to try to read between the lines… ;)

Before I explain the logic behind the bet, a few words on the big race of the day.

It really is a fascinating renewal of the Peterborough chase, with established stars taking on some very interesting up and coming sorts.
If you put my back to the wall, I would suggest a 1,2,3 of Somersby, The Nightingale and Tartak – though I wouldn’t received many awards for originality !
However, it is the presence of Surfing, Mr Moonshine and Hidden Keel, who make the race really interesting. All 3 have the potential to be very good – the trouble is, Somersby sets a very high standard.
I could see Mr Moonshine running a big race from the front – but I will be surprised if Somersby at least, doesn’t pick him off close to home.
A race to savour non-the-less…

So onto the tip…

Ludlow 3:10

I went for a couple of speculative shots on Saturday – and they did nothing ! – hopefully, Bill the Yank will do a little better today…
I suspect we will know well in advance of the off, whether that will be the case. This horse WILL be backed if it is going to win (or even run a race) – don’t say you’ve not been warned !
I reckon it could go off at 5/1 – of 33/1 ! If it’s the latter, I would suggest not watching and just tearing up your ticket !
I was actually half tempted to tip it last night – but with just the one bookmaker pricing up the race, we would have marked cards, and price would not have been there for connections.
Instead, I have let all the bookmakers price up this morning, so hopefully connections have still been able to get on – and we can get a decent price ! That’s the theory anyway !
Oh, I nearly forgot – the case for the horse !!
I watched it run in a novice hurdle in Limerick, back in July… That was only it’s second run under rules, following a last of 4 finish in a Killarney bumper earlier that month.
It was very well backed that day (officially 14/1 into 13/2 – but much more significantly on betfair) – and showed considerable promise. However, it wouldn’t settle in the race and was eventually well beaten.
I’ve been watching it since that day ;) It showed promise again on it’s hurdling debut – but I always felt the day to back this horse was when it made it’s handicapping debut. And that day is today !!
What has really surprised me, is that it’s been brought over to England to run.
I’ve no idea what the reasoning is behind that move – there are plenty of suitable races in which it could run in Ireland. Maybe connections think it has an even better chance of getting under the radar in the UK – or maybe they think they are less likely to come up against something that has been saved for the day: Or maybe there is a more straightforward reason, such as the horse is going to run for an English trainer from now on !
Like I say, I really don’t know – but I do think there is enough intrigue to warrant a small bet at 14/1.
The big worry (apart from the fact that I might have completely mis-read things !) is the presence of Hard Tackle. JP McManus has been landing a few touches recently (maybe things are a bit tight for him at the moment !) and putting Maurice Linehan up on this one is a particularly eye-cattching move. If it goes off at 13/8 (like Christopher Wren did yesterday), I suspect we will have done our money on Bill the Yank !!

1pt win Bill the Yank 14/1

Ludlow 2:40

I was tempted to put up Midnight Haze at 10/1 yesterday evening – but couldn’t find time to get myself sufficiently organised ! It is now trading at roughly half those odds – which is a little annoying !!
In fairness, he comes with risks – and the opposition is not too bad. I am particularly interested in Pigeon Island, who has the natural ability to win this if things fall right for him.
Hopefully putting Midnight Haze up on here will fate him not to win – but then again…!!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

7th December - Race review

I don’t really know what to say about today’s tip…
As you doubtless gathered, I really, really fancied it (at the prices) – and staked it accordingly.
In the cold light of day it was a 20/1 shot that was pulled up – but I know that wasn’t even close to it’s true running…
I guess it might not have beaten Christopher Wren – who did look well handicapped and won well – but it should have gone close.
I’m not going to start suggesting nefarious goings on – but the pre-race market drift was alarming, to say the least !
Ranjobaie was backed all morning, into a best price of 10/1 around lunchtime.
In truth, I still thought that was potentially generous, so I was staggered to watch it then proceed to drift all the way back out to 25 on Betfair !
Maybe something happened pre-race that I’m not aware of – I just don’t know. But I do know that it is very unusual for a horse to be backed like that – and then drift back beyond it’s original price.
In the race itself, Ranjobaie was under pressure not long after passing the stands for the first time – and was pulled up just after half way.
With Fiendish Flame ‘stalked’ by the JP McManus second string, City Theatre and Legion D’Honneur nearly decanting Richard Johnson at the first, Ranjobaie should have had a great chance of at least being placed.
Instead, it was Afsoun who ran a very decent race, suggesting that his turn isn’t far away.
All in all though, it has to go down as a most disappointing race :(

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

7th December - Selection rationale

It’s just under a week since Fiendish Flame bolted up for us at Leicester.
That was a very impressive performance and I said at the time, that he should be able to remain competitive off any rating in the 130s. Well, he gets to run tomorrow off a mark of 132 (his old rating plus a 7lb penalty), so he should be competitive !
And I believe he will – in fact, I think he will take the beating. However, he is 7lb higher, in a significantly stronger race and he also has to over-come running just 6 days ago – yet he is a best price of 2/1 against the 11/1 we took last week ! I simply had to look elsewhere…
The most obvious place is Christopher Wren. He is a relatively unknown quantity, with AP up and from the stable of Nick Gifford, who likes to run some of his better horses at Leicester. However, at 3/1, he was relatively easy to pass on as well…
Next stop was Afsoun, a former high class hurdler who would be thrown in off a mark of 130, if anywhere near his former best. I do think he represents theoretical value – but having watched his seasonal debut run again, I can’t really seeing him confirming the form with Fiendish Flame – even though he is 8lb better off !
There is little doubt in my mind, that the really interesting one in the field, is Ranjobaie…
He was a hugely promising novice hurdler for Nicky Henderson a couple of seasons back. He ran 4 times and was beaten by Menorah and Notus De La Tour, before beating Bygones of Brid. All 3 of these horses subsequently proved themselves to be very talented indeed (rated 140+).
In his final outing of that season, Ranjobaie finished third in the NH novices handicap hurdle final at Sandown. That was a cracking run – off the same mark as tomorrow – and he was a little unlucky not to win…
Last season he moved to Venetia Williams stable – and switched his attention to fencing.
Unfortunately that didn’t go too well, with his 3 outings yielding an unseated rider and a pulled up. However, between those 2 races, he finished runner-up to the now 149 rated Sarando. He was cantering all over that rival, when he pecked at the second last and subsequently found nothing…
On his first run of this season, he was switched back to hurdles for a grade 2 race at Haydock (where I tipped Indian Daudaie).
Again , he travelled really well to the third last, but then found little when put under pressure and eventually came home well beaten.
To my eyes, he looked as if he needed that run – however, I think it very interesting that connections are using a tongue tie on him tomorrow for the first time.
Either way, if Ranjobaie manages to last home tomorrow, I think he could be handicapped to win ! Ofcourse, there is a possibility that Christopher Wren will have stones in hand of his mark; or that Fiendish Flame will run to the mid-140 rating of which he is capable – or even that Afsoun bounces back to something like his former best. I am therefore covering the win part of the bet with a place bet (ie. a bet of 1pt EW and 1pt win).
There is also a possibility that Ranjobaie won’t get home again – or that I have completely mis-read things !
However, at odds of 20/1, I am prepared to take that risk and place the maximum (for the time being at least !) 3points on his back.
Fingers Crossed he doesn’t let us down !!

2pt win/1pt place Ranjobaie 20/1

6th December - Race reviews

After such a good run a fortnight ago, I somehow seem to have slipped back into a series of near misses !
It’s odd how these things seem to happen in clusters – there is no reason why that should be the case, but it often is.
I mentioned when I started the blog, that although my natural inclination is to bet win only (and I still do that myself), I would be putting up a fair few selections EW, in an attempt to smooth out the P&L.
Well, I have to acknowledge that the method has been paying dividends, over the last week in particular. It may be a case of 2 steps forward; 2 steps back – but that is a lot better than 2 steps back !!
Hopefully we can get back into the plain old ‘2 steps forward’ territory, sooner rather than later !!
Anyway, on to the performances of today’s selections:

Festival Dreams was ridden prominently by Richard Johnson, but not given an overly aggressive ride.
He travelled OK through the race, but right behind him throughout, was Forest Rhythm, who seemed to be pulling double ! In his first time blinkers, I was hoping that Forest Rhythm was maybe doing too much. But as he cantered past Festival Dreams on the run to the second last, I knew this hadn’t been the case !
To Festivals Dreams credit, he stuck gamely to his task and managed to finish a comfortable second.
The trouble with betting in these lower grade events is that there is always a possibility that a horse like Forest Rhythm, will produce a much improved run.
If you think about it, it’s a lot easier to run 20lb above your rating when you are rated 100, than it is when you are rated 150 !
Still, it was a small profit on the race, so I guess I can’t complain too much…

The handicap chase turned into a real war of attrition and although Billy Murphy ran well to finish fifth, he couldn’t quite muster up the extra effort required to get into the frame.
I think this was one of those races whose outcome was affected by the whip rule. All of the horses in with a chance rounding the home turn, were almost out on their feet and it was simply a case of which jockey had most strikes of the whip left – and could deploy them most effectively !!
The winner of the contest was Noel Fehily on Bring It on Home, though I suspect that Sir Winston might have been victorious if the same race had been run a few months earlier…
One positive I can take out of the race, is that Billy Murphy comfortable beat Hobb’s Dream despite being returned a longer price. The 24lb turnaround in the weights from their previous meeting evidently had the expected effect…