Tuesday, 31 January 2012

31st January - Race reviews

Well, I read today’s 2 races pretty well – it was just a shame that I didn’t put us on either of the winners..!
In fairness, both winners were returned favourite and as you have probably realised by now, favourites are not things I tend to tip (or back for that matter).
Still, Nomechecki’s third placing meant that it was virtually a break even day – so no significant damage was done.

In the handicap hurdle, Ted Spread did indeed prove a class apart.
I suspect that Ifyouletmefinish, would have finished second – but he was a non runner. Aather should have finished third – but he fell at the third last.
In truth, Aather looked beaten at the time, so I don’t think he would actually have finished third (and he certainly wouldn’t have troubled the winner).
He stepped at the same hurdle on the first circuit and got away with it. However, he wasn’t so lucky second time round…
I didn’t really see a lot in his performance today to get excited about. Maybe I was a little too positive following his run last time…

In the handicap chase, the 3 horses I short-listed: Renard: Nomechecki and Wessex King, managed to finish 1st, 3rd and 4th.
I’ve no idea what Lord Singer was doing finishing second – he had clearly not read the script ;)
Unfortunately, it was Nomechecki that I plumped for and he could only finish third.
He ran a fair race, but was no match for the winner, Renard, who had no issues going the pace on the sharp Taunton track.
As with Aather, there were no obvious excuses for Nomechecki and it looks like he will need to drop a few more pounds in the handicap, before he gets his head back in front again…

As it is the last day of January, I should really be producing a monthly report.
However, I’m struggling for time (again !) so it will have to wait a day or two.
I’ll look to do it as soon as I can find a suitable window of opportunity…!!

Finally, the weather looks like impacting tomorrow's fixtures, with Leicester only about 50:50 to race.
Hopefully, the meeting will get the go-ahead - but I'll wait until it has been given the all clear before I post the rationale for tomorrow's bet.
There is no point me wasting time, when it is already in such short supply !

Monday, 30 January 2012

31st January - Selection rationale

As many of you will know already, I took the plunge this evening and switched to issuing my tips by email - a day earlier than planned…

I had tested out the distribution lists earlier in the day and they appeared to have worked fine (I received responses from a number of people on both lists). I still tweeted the tips this evening – and not long after I had sent the emails - so if I did catch anyone on the hop, hopefully the damage was minimal.
It felt a little odd issuing the emails – and took a bit longer than normal – but hopefully I will be able to speed up the process over the next few weeks…

So, onto tomorrow’s racing, where one again, Taunton puts on a really good card.
I honestly don’t know if this is a recent thing – I’d never really considered Taunton to be a venue for good class action – but compared to the relative dross that is served up mid-week at most other courses, they are proving to be an absolute oasis…

There are 2 particularly good races: the handicaps at 3:10 and 4:10 respectively – and I have a selection for each.
If I’m honest, neither selection would be my first choice for their respective races. However, when the races where priced up, around 5:00, there was a fair amount of disparity amongst the early prices. This is an unusual situation, brought about I think, by the fact that all of the early bird bookmakers issued within about 15 mins of each other.
I was therefore able to cherry pick prices, putting us on a couple of horses whom I felt where significantly over-priced.
Needless to say, the bookmakers reacted pretty quickly (I’m not sure how much of that was down to me – though I suspect quite a bit) and the current prices don’t look quite so attractive. However, provided you have got the advised odds (or close to), I think you on a ‘live’ contender for each race, at a ‘value’ price – and, ultimately, you can’t ask for much more than that…

Taunton 3:10

As I’m sure a few of you will recall, we were on Aather last time out, when he made his seasonal debut at Cheltenham, early in December.
He finished well beaten that day, but travelled like a dream, at a course which wouldn’t have been ideal for him.
I was so taken with his performance, that in the subsequent race review, I stated that I was ‘happy’ to have lost, as I was sure it was only money lent !
Roll on 6 weeks and he makes his second appearance on the season at Taunton tomorrow.
Unfortunately, I’m not feeling quite so bullish now – and for 2 good reasons: Ted Spread and Ifyouletmefinish !
Put simply, these 2 horses could be stones better than their current handicap marks, Both have only run twice over hurdles – and on each occasion, they have run well against horses currently prominent in the market for the Triumph hurdle.
Both have endless scope – and it will come as no surprise if they prove to be just too good for their rivals tomorrow.
That said, they have been priced up accordingly, whilst Aather was a general 20/1 shot, on the opening show.
Take those 2 out of the race and I would be very keen on his chances.
The course should suit him much better than Cheltenham and the trip and going will be fine.
My biggest concern now, is that if Ted Spread and Ifyouletmefinsih do prove a class apart, whether the connections of Aather will want him to get too close to them at the finish.
I’m just hoping that those two don’t fulfil their potential and Aather is consequently able to take advantage.

0.5pt EW Aather 20/1 

Taunton 4:10

When I first looked at this race, there were 3 horses that caught my eye: Renard; Nomechecki and Wessex King.
I could see pros and cons with all 3, so decided to wait until prices were issued, to help me make up my mind !
In the initial shows, Renard was priced at 5/1; Wessex King at 7/1 and Nomechecki at 12/1 – and that helped clarify my thinking, no end !!
In fairness, of the 3, I think Renard is just about the most likely winner – however I am a little fearful that he might be done for toe over the sharp Taunton 2 miles.
Wessex King should have enough pace, but I wonder whether he is quite up to this class. He may well be – and if he drifts close to double figures, I’ll certainly have a saver on him.
However, Nomechecki has probably got the least question marks against him.
He travelled really well in a class 2 race over half a mile further, last time out. He appeared not to get home that day, so dropping him back half a mile should help.
In fact, this is the first time Nomechecki has dipped below class 2 in his last 10 outings – and he has run some very commendable races at that level.
His handicap mark has also dropped 5lb since the start of the season – and in what is undoubtedly a very tight race, I’m hoping that will help make the difference for him.

0.5pt EW Nomechecki 12/1

Adjustment in direction - implementation

As I said last Sunday, I’m going to switch to issuing my tips primarily via email, from the beginning on February (ie. tomorrow evening – assuming there are any tips for Wednesday !).

The proposal to move to email, received a really good response, with just under 50 of you expressing a desire to receive notifications via the new method.
I have now set up 2 distribution groups: one for people who I ‘know’ (or at least feel like I know !) and another for people who I don’t yet know (but may get to know over time).
My intention will be to send the tips to the first group about 5 mins before I send them to the second group.
With so many people interested, there is a definite danger that prices will shorten between the 2 emails being issued – but there is not a lot I can do about that.
The reality is that the bookmakers will only expose themselves to a certain level of liability on any horse, at the time of evening when I issue.
50 people following, averaging around £20 a bet, means that just my followers will be attempting to put £1K on a horse. Simply, the bookmakers won’t accept this without cutting the odds.
I don’t think this will be an issue with all tips: the markets are generally stronger on a Friday evening – and the later I can leave it before I issue, the better. But it will certainly be an issue on midweek days, when I issue early and the markets are weak.

I do still intend to Tweet the tips (for a little while at least). I doubt very much that prices will still be available by the time I put them on Twitter – but I have 140 followers, so quite a few haven’t registered for the email notifications.
Twitter will also provide a useful back up, in case I have any issues with my email (which does happen from time to time !).

I will issue test messages later today using the new distribution groups. If you haven’t received a message by this evening, please email me and I will investigate why.

Just one final thing:
As I mentioned last week, it was really good to ‘talk’ to a few of you and get a better feel for my audience.
A few of you asked if I had intentions to charge for the ‘service’ that I provide – and 2 or 3 of you even offered to pay regardless (very generous indeed !).
To clarify: I have no intention of making any charge for tips or information issued this season. It was my decision to create this blog and I was committed from the onset, to run it until the end of Cheltenham, with no plans to make any money from it (apart from hopefully increasing the returns on my betting !).
If I decide to do the same thing next winter, then there is a possibility that I will make a nominal charge. I’m not absolutely sure this would be the case – but I can certainly see an argument for doing so.

The blog takes me a long time to produce (a fair bit longer than I expected) – and whilst, to an extent that is my choice, the reality is that I wouldn’t be happy putting my ‘name’ to anything of lesser quality – and producing the quality I do, takes time.
As I’ve mentioned before, whilst I have some free time, I don’t have a lot, so there is always a danger that I’ll end up spending time on the blog, which I should really be spending elsewhere. If that becomes the case, then that time has a value – and it seems reasonable to try and recoup something for it.

Like I say, if I do go down that route (and the other option would simply be to blog less - or not at all !) then the charge would only be nominal. I’m not interested in setting up a proper tipping service because I don’t want the pressures it would bring – and I couldn’t afford the time commitment that it should entail (plus, issuing in the evening wouldn’t really work on a larger scale, so I would need to adjust the working schedule which would cause a significant impact on my days; a route I really don’t want to pursue… ).

Anyway, I’ve got all summer to mull over my options. Like I say, I’m not committed to any particular path just yet – and things could easily change over the next 9 months regardless… 

So, there you have it.
All tips will be issued via email from Tuesday evening onwards – so if you want any chance of getting the best prices and haven’t contacted me yet, you need to do so very quickly !!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

28th January - Race reviews

I should have known it was going to be one of those days, after the very first race of the afternoon…
That was the 4 year old hurdle from Cheltenham. I didn’t have a strong view on the race, but backed Pearl Swan, in-running on Betfair, just after half way, when he was in last place.
I got 40 IR, which was quite good – though if I’d waited a few more seconds, 240 was matched !
Anyway, the horse came through under a patient Ruby Walsh ride and jumped to the front at the final hurdle. He had to battle his way up the hill – but just held on in a very tight finish.
This is an extremely unusual situation for me, as my horses invariably get beaten in photo finishes (when they win, they win by half the length of the straight !).
I looked to lay off in the photo finish, to ensure a profit (as I always do) – but the market remained suspended. I checked my Betfair balance and the win had been credited to my account, so assumed it wasn’t as close as I had thought and I moved on…

It was only after Bless the Wings had beaten Lexicon Lad in the second race, that I became aware that Pearl Swan had been disqualified !
I didn’t even think it a possibility – but when they said on RUK that Alan King had competed a double – and this time didn’t need the intervention of the stewards, I figured out my fate..!

Anyway, these things happen (it’s a good job that I’m a resilient character !).

With regard to Lexicon Lad, then he ran a fine race to finish second – he was just beaten by a better horse on the day.
Roalco De Farge also ran really well to finish a close up sixth. His jumping wasn’t overly slick and he got hampered by a faller, so I think he can be marked up on this performance. I’m not sure why Richard Johnson didn’t ride him more prominently, as he was successful under those tactics at Newbury – but mine is not to reason why…

In the handicap chase at 2:05, The Giant Bolster took the field apart with a great round of front running and jumping.
Hells Bay was just about the only horse to keep tabs on him for most of the race, but he made a mistake at the fourth last and was soon back pedalling.
In fact, the speed of his demise, which was similar to last time, made me think that he might be another horse with a breathing issue. I’ll be keeping a close eye on him…

In the Sky bet chase, Carrickmines was allowed to stride on, but was far too free. I know he has made the running in the past, but he has been restrained on every other outing this season. With a strong pace almost guaranteed, I don’t know why he wasn’t settled in the rear again – but like I said, mine is not to reason why..!
Shalimar Fromentro ran a decent enough race but ultimately simply wasn’t good enough. He looked like he might need to drop a few pounds in the handicap.
As for the winner, Calgary Bay, then what can I say !!
As I mentioned when he won on New Years day, he was my ‘cliff’ horse last season – but I have deserted him this. That clearly has made the world of difference to him and he is now fulfilling the potential that I always knew he had ! I suspect this horse really could be a world beater – provided I never back him again. Connections know where to find me if they want to make an offer I can’t refuse ;)

Finally, when I had just about given up hope, Module came and saved the day.
For a horse making his Britsh debut, he remained remarkably strong in the betting, which I considered a good thing !
That said, he looked beaten as they rounded the home turn – but then found some serious stamina reserves and shot clear after jumping the last.
He is clearly a horse of some ability – and I suspect he would relish a step up in trip.
If he were mine, I would be eyeing the Coral cup at the festival…

Just a couple of footnotes:
The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that the final race at Uttoxeter was won in game style, by Sophonie…
I’ve put her up on her last 2 runs, but resisted the temptation today (though I did consider it).
Clearly missing a winner is never a good thing – but it does at least demonstrate what I’ve said before about finding a horse ready to strike.

Then, just to cap off my day, I backed Lady Sinatra in the last at Doncaster. She ran her heart out from the front, only to get nailed in the shadows of the post. The 2 runners came very close in the final furlong and the winner seemed to be edging mine across the course.
But was there a stewards enquiry – never mind a position change ? There certainly was not !
As I’ve said before, if I ever get any luck in this game, I really will be dangerous !!

28th January - Selection rationale

It’s always great to see racing from Cheltenham – though today’s card doesn’t grab me quite as much as is often the case…
I suspect that is due – in part at least – to the absence of Grands Crus, from the Cotswold chase. I was really looking forward to seeing him taking on more experienced rivals – but alas it is not to be.
It seems most likely that he will now go straight to the festival (though a novice chase at Newbury is a fortnight’s time, is apparently under consideration). I hope that connections choose to target him at the big one – both for financial reasons and because I think it that race will suit him better – but only time will tell whether caution gets the better part of valour...

Anyway, the Cotswold chase without him in the field, looks a tough one to call.
I’d like to see Captain Chris win – but I would be very fearful of a peak form Diamond Harry. If Paul Nicholls could get the best out of Tidal Bay, he could very well win – but the most solid option is probably Time for Rupert…
All in all, a race to watch, rather than bet in.

The same is probably true of the Cleeve hurdle, where, as always, Big Bucks will take the world of beating.
I doubt anything will get the better of him – but if anything does, Dynaste would be the most likely…

Fortunately that still leaves a few races to bet in (!) and I’ve decided to take a slice of the action in 3 of them, plus the Sky bet chase at Doncaster.
I’ve again gone for a couple of selections in 2 of the races (trying to make very competitive races a little less competitive). Let’s hope we can get at least one winner – whether it is well backed or not !!

Cheltenham 1:30

What a race !
This really wouldn’t look out of place at the festival. A fiercely competitive 16 runner handicap chase, where no result would come as a complete surprise…
I’ve chosen to latch on to a couple of runners that I am very familiar with, in Roalco De Farges and Lexicon Lad.
Both have similar profiles, in so much as they were really impressive on their chasing debuts but slightly disappointing next time out. However, in both cases, their debuts came on left handed tracks and their disappointing runs on right handed ones.
I’m hoping that a return to racing left handed, will see them bounce back to form.
Both horses should be well suited by the conditions of today’s race: 2m5f on good to soft ground and both represent top class connections.
There are very few runners in the race which I feel can be safely discounted, however
combining these two gives odds of around 12/1, which feels about right for 2 chances in 16.
We will certainly need some luck in this one – but, as always, I feel we are in with a shout, so fingers crossed !!

0.5pt win Roalco De Farge 25/1
0.5pt win Lexicon Lad 22/1

Cheltenham 2:05

Hells Bay is probably my best bet of the day…
Despite his odds, I think he has a very solid chance: on recent form; course form and from a handicapping perspective.
His last run behind Calgary Bay, looks disappointing on the face of it, but at the top of the hill, he was in a break away group of 5, and nothing was travelling better…
Ultimately, he didn’t get home and finished a well-beaten tenth, but I suspect the run may have been needed that day.
Hells Bay is a horse who has run some of his best races at Cheltenham: he was runner up behind Time For Rupert, last November (again, travelling all over the winner for most of the race), before finally coming good in the Dipper chase, run at the course on last new years day.
It is that run, which makes him look a seriously well handicapped horse. There he beat Merdermit off level weights, with yawning gap back to the third – but he is now rated 11lb below that horse…
Both trip and ground should be ideal for Hells Bay today – and you have to see it as a bonus that the very promising Brendan Powell takes 5lb off.
Obviously there are dangers in the race – but I’ll be surprised if there are 3 that will finish in front of Hells Bay. Provided his jumping holds up, I think he is a rock solid selection.

0.75pt EW Hells Bay 16/1

Cheltenham 4:15

There is a bit of guess work involved here (!) but reading between the lines, I think Module is worth a small bet at 12/1…
He has only run 3 times in his life – and all of them in France – but he has already shown a decent level of form and was in the process of running a good race in a listed hurdle at Aueteil last time out, when he was brought down at the last.
There is no way of knowing how that form will translate over here – however, the interesting thing is that Tom George has a second runner in the race.
That horse is the very progressive Sivola De Sivola, who could be given a definite chance- and yet, stable jockey, Paddy Brenan is on board Module.
Of course that could be because he is considered the better long term prospect and the stable jockey wants to get a feel of him – but I think it is worth taking the risk that it’s because he thinks Module is the more likely winner…
Aside from these 2, it looks a very trappy contest, with the market being made by the 4 year old, Hinterland. I would be keen to take him on, though finding another one to do so with, isn’t that easy.
On balance then, this is a gamble – but hopefully an educated one ;)

0.5pt win Module 12/1

Doncaster 2:50

Yet another fiercely competitive handicap chase – and another one where I’m giving us 2 chances!!
The first is Shalimar Fromentro, a horse we were on when he last ran, at Aintree, at the beginning December.
We were on him that day despite the fact he was a novice, taking on the Aintree fences. Unfortunately, they proved a bit too much for him and he fell at Bechers Brook. However, he had travelled well until that point and I think it is worth forgiving him that lapse.
I suspect he will ultimately prove himself very well handicapped off a mark of 130 – and today’s test should suit him fine.
The other one I want onside, is Carrickmines. His chances have been dismissed by the bookmakers – no doubt in part because he is 2lb out of the handicap.
However, he is a strong travelling horse, who I think will be well suited by the big field and strong pace that he will get today. The course and distance should also suit him fine and I can see him going very well, at what is a huge price.

0.5pt win Shalimar Fromentro 10/1
0.25pt EW Carrickmines 40/1

Friday, 27 January 2012

27th January - Race reivews

After promising so much at various points, today ultimately proved very disappointing…

In truth, most of the promise stemmed from the almighty plunge that took place on Rose of the Moon. It might not have quite been in the Toby Belch league – but it wasn’t far behind !
7/1 early yesterday evening became 2/1 around lunchtime today. Furthermore, the SP of 5/2 meant that there was some real conviction behind the gamble.
However, despite travelling fine for most of the journey – and looking highly likely to be involved towards the end of the back straight – Rose of the Moon was quickly under pressure and found very little.
It has to go down as a most disappointing effort – and I’ve no idea where connections will go from this point.

Somewhatinevitable never had the market strength of Rose of the Moon – which in a way, was a little concerning…
I really did think that there was a possibility that he would prove much better than today’s rivals – but if that was the case, it was likely to be backed up by cash.
However, the money never came – and Somewhatinevitable actually drifted to 13/2 at the off  - and that despite there being a NR.
It was therefore some what inevitable (pun intended !) that he ran a disappointing race.
He was a bit too keen through the early part of the race – though I thought it interesting that he put in his 2 best leaps when given his head. However, these were immediately followed by a shuddering mistake – and that was the end of his chances.
He was pulled up shortly after – and whilst he might be of some interest if dropped back to the minimum trip and allowed to stride on, those tactics were tried at Ludlow over hurdles at the back end of last season and weren’t successful, so you would have to tread carefully with him, whatever route he took…

27th January - Selection rationale

*This post was written last night, but only put up this morning, after I had tipped Somewhatinevitable

A couple of selections for tomorrow – and if I’m honest, both come with risks…
I certainly wouldn’t advocate backing either EW, as I suspect they will either win or bust !!
The prices of both are interesting as well, as doubling or halving is a distinct possibility for both of them !
In particular, I wouldn’t want to see Rose of the Moon drift as the off approaches – and whilst I wouldn’t see it as such a negative for Somewhatinevitable, I wouldn’t see it as a positive either !
Anyway, on to the logic for the choices…

Huntingdon 3:10

This was the race I targeted when I first looked at tomorrow’s declarations…
I’m happy to take on the favourite Oscargo, who is now 17lb higher than when beating Kayf Aramis at Cheltenham a couple of runs back.
It is a similar story with Theologist, who is 18lb higher than when finishing a very creditable second to Thehillofuisneach. Both horses are progressive – but the handicapper has set them serious challenges and they are short enough in the betting.
Benny be Good probably has the most solid credentials and I could easily seeing him being placed – however, I’ll be a little surprised if there isn’t at least one better than him.
I’m hoping that one might be Rose Of the Moon, who makes his handicapping debut for David Pipe tomorrow, sporting blinkers for the first time – and carrying ace stable apprentice Conor O’Farrell. The subtle signs are positive, that’s for sure !
In fairness, if you look into the formbook, there are some pretty positive pointers there as well…
In particular, a second behind Bobs Worth at Cheltenham last new years day. The winner is now rated 152 over hurdles – but the form looks exceptionally strong because of the subsequent performances of the horses who finished behind Rose of the Moon that day…
Barbatos, Astracad, Saint Are, Golden Chieftain, Safron De Cotte – and today’s Thystes winner, On his Own, to name but six !
Put simply, if Rose of the Moon runs to that level of form tomorrow, He will hack up !
His performances since that day haven’t been as good (though they haven’t been desperate), however, they have ensured that he is able to race tomorrow off a mark of 122. Take off a further 3lb for Conor O’Farrell’s claim and you potentially have a seriously well handicapped horse.
Assuming connections have got the prices, I think it safe to assume that they know will know what to do with such a well handicapped horse ;)

1pt win Rose of the Moon 7/1

Huntingdon 3:40

My biggest issue with Somewhatinevitable, was deciding how many points to have on him !
In some respects, he is a seriously risky selection: he is jumping a fence for the first time in public and finished nearly last on his seasonal debut a couple of weeks ago.
However, I suspect he has the natural ability to be a different class to his rivals tomorrow – and if things fall right, I reckon he could hack up as well !!
Somewhatinevitable first came to my attention last January when running very well in a novice hurdle at Huntingdon. My feeling that day was that he was a horse that you would want to follow when he was sent handicapping.
That happened on his final start of last season at Ludlow, but he ran too freely and finished last.
He was then put away for the summer, only making his seasonal debut at Warwick a fortnight ago. That was in a very competitive horse, but Somewhatinevitable travelled really well that day, over a trip likely to be too sharp for him.
He wasn’t given a hard time when it became clear he wasn’t going to feature in the finish and consequently he has been dropped 5lb for that performance.
I’m a little surprised to see him tackling fences tomorrow- but not overly concerned.
I’ve no idea how proficient his jumping is, but I have a deal of confidence in his trainer, Paul Webber...
As I’ve said before, there are 2 components to a good bet: a strong selection and weak opposition. Well, I’ve made the case for Somewhatinevitable – but if you took him out of the race, I’d struggle to make a case for anything else !
If Pingaro De La Vire sets the standard, then it’s a standard that I’m confident Somewhatinevitable can surpass – provided his jumping cuts the mustard..!

2pt win Somewhatinevitable 6/1

Thursday, 26 January 2012

26th January - Race reviews

It would appear that I’ve manage to encounter another run of near misses…
Hot on the heals of Toby Belch on Tuesday, Tim the Chair also managed to rattle the woodwork this afternoon.
Unlike Toby, he finished third, rather than second, but the total margin of defeat, was about a neck…
I might all have been different if he had pinged the last, but unfortunately, he was a bit scratchy at it and the loss in momentum probably cost him the race.
To add insult to injury, it was Inga Bird who managed to hold him off, under a fine front running ride from Richard Johnson.
The winner probably deserved the victory as he was brave and bold up front, but I would have little hesitation in backing Tim the Chair to turn around the form – even under the same weight – if they were to meet again on a more galloping track.
The relatively sharp course suited Inga Bird well – whereas Tim he Chair struggled to lay up. It was therefore to he credit that he managed to get so close to winning. He’s is clearly a chaser of some ability and potential.

The later race on the card was also won by the Daley/Johnson combination – via Artic Ben – this time under an even better Johnson front running ride.
He grasped the race at the first fence and never really looked like getting beaten.
Reginaldinho ran a fair race until he fell at the last – whilst Ockey De Neulliac was always much too far out of his ground, considering how the race unfolded. His run can be safely ignored…

26th January - Selection rationale

I have to admit that I’m really struggling for time again…
Whilst I have little doubt that switching to an email distribution list is the right thing to do, it has become another task on an ever growing list. I feel like I need more hours in the day – but as that won’t happen, I’ve got to find other ways of making time…
What I’ve must ensure, is that it doesn’t affect the quality of the tips. They have deliberately been thin on the ground this week, simply because I am finding it difficult to find the time to study the form properly.
I missed out on a couple of potential winners yesterday because I didn’t get time to look properly at the races they were running in – and there was a danger of the same thing happening today.

When I looked yesterday, there were 2 races and 4 horses that I was drawn to.
Both races were at Warwick: the 1:55 and 3:25 races. The horses in question were Inga Bird and Tim the Chair in the 1:55 and Ockey De Neulliac and Reginaldinho in the 3:25.
I expected Inga Bird and Ockey to be put in as favourites – with the other 2 around the 8/1 mark.
Needless to say, it was Tim the Chair and Reginaldinho that I was primarily interested in
However, the bookies early bird odds were not as I expected – and that threw me !
Inga Bird and Ockey were longer than I thought they would be: whilst Tim the Chair and Reginaldinho shorter.
I decided to leave it a little while: but Reginaldinho just shortened further – thereby removing any chance of him becoming a tip !
Tim the Chair, on the other hand, has drifted back to what I consider an acceptable price.
I’m still a little worried about Inga Bird – but I think that 6/1 on Tim is fair enough.

Just a few keep words on Tim the Chair…

He is a very unexposed chaser, who won on his debut over the larger obstacles last march and was sent off a 17/2 chance for the Southern National, back in November.
He made a number of mistakes that day and consequently wasn’t able to do himself justice. However, he travelled like a decent animal – and provided his jumping holds up today, I think he should go well.
It will help that he has been dropped 2lb in the ratings and is now competing in a class 4 event (the Southern national is class 3).
I don’t think he will have any issue with either trip or going and feel he represents fair value at 6/1.
As I’ve already said, I think the biggest danger is Inga Bird. He has looked an improved performer over fences – and was in the process of running a very good race last time out, when he came down at the last. Provided he is fully recovered from that fall, I think he is also likely to go very well today.

1pt win Tim the Chair 6/1

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

24th January - Race review

I’m struggling to know where to start, with the review of today’s race…!

As you may have gathered, Toby Belch was a bit of a half hearted selection yesterday – the bet was more of an insurance against him winning (which I would have found very annoying if I’d not put him up).
I thought he represented some value at 14/1, and whilst I didn’t expect him to drift, I never could have imagined that he would be sent off 11/4 fav !

That was a plunge of epic proportions ! I’ve not put the numbers into my spread sheet yet, but I’m sure that will make him the biggest steamer I’ve put up so far (tbh, he was probably one of the biggest steamers of the year !).
If ever there was an advert for making sure you got the early price, then Toby was it !

Ofcourse, if you missed the early 14/1, I suspect it was probably available again in-running after they had jumped a fence ! I didn’t actually see the race live, so I can’t be sure – but as he was detached by about 10 lengths and under pressure, then I’ll be surprised if double figures wasn’t available at that point.

In the next twist, Toby came back onto the bridle, and travelled easily for a while – before, once again, hitting a flat spot at the end of the back straight.
Again, I suspect double figures would have been available in-running.

However, Toby then knuckled down and started to race. In fact, he raced so well, he took up the running at the second last and looked sure to win !
He traded at 1.22 at that point – but his earlier erratic behaviour had clearly taken it’s toll and he had no more to give when Don’t Tell Sailor made his final challenge.

So, it was an honourable second and half a point dropped – though in truth, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much drama out of a lost half point !

As for Toby, he clearly has more than enough ability to win a race of this nature off the mark he was running from today. Unfortunately, everyone is now aware of that fact – and whilst some more serious head gear might focus his mind a bit, he is evidently a bit of a thinker and certainly not one to take a short price on…

Monday, 23 January 2012

24th January - Selection rationale

I did wonder whether to post this tip – particularly as I missed the early 16/1 with Ladbrokes. However, on balance, I think it is worth a small play – so that is what I am suggesting !!

Leicester 3:40

This is quite a competitive race. In fact, I would go so far as to say, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if any of the runners won. As I’ve mentioned previously, in races where that is the case, I am always drawn to the outsiders…
Toby Belch is an outsider because he has apparently run disappointingly on his last 2 outings this term.
I say apparently, because to my eyes, he ran pretty well last time out – but the consensus seems to be that he didn’t and as a consequence, he has been dropped 8lbs in the handicap !
If you watch the race, you will see that he travelled round the outside throughout and yet still jumped the third last in the lead. He faded from that point, but in what was a stronger race than tomorrow’s I don’t really think that can be considered a disappointing run.
Certainly if Toby Belch is able to run close to his hurdles form, where he ran to a rating in the 120s, he must go close tomorrow off a mark of 108.
Furthermore, he has always looks like the sort who would do better over fences – and the ground tomorrow should suit him well.
If you add into the equation, the current form of his stable – and the fact that he is being tried in cheekpieces for the first time tomorrow, you have to come to the conclusion that he has a decent chance – certainly better than his odds imply.
As I said at the beginning, no result would surprise me. If forced to nominate the most likely winner, I would go for Plum Pudding – but a quote of 4/1 is tight. I am also interested to see money for the Venetia Williams trained Samurai Way. Victory for him wouldn’t be a complete surprise – though it would be a little irritating (considering the trainer), especially if he were to beat Toby !! Let’s hope at least, that scenario doesn’t unfold…!

0.5pt win Toby Belch 14/1

Adjustment in direction - update

I have to admit to being rather pleasantly surprised by the response to yesterday’s post…
It’s been up for less than a day and yet already, over 20 people have contacted me and asked to be put on one of the lists.
It is my intention to place everyone who contacts me on one of the lists – the only question is, which one !
As I’ve said in most of my replies, what I’m primarily trying to do here, is protect the advised prices.
I don’t want people who are simple going to take a price and then look to lay it back immediately on BF for a profit (they will just ruin the prices for everyone – and aren’t entering into the spirit of the thing) – and I don’t want people who are in a position to adjust early bird markets (bookies reps etc.).
Provided you don’t fall into either of these categories, you will be welcomed with open arms (and that includes you Marvin !).

My intention is to place all unfamiliar faces on the second list – until they become more familiar to me. When this happens, they will be promoted to the first list !
Of course, if I discover any misdemeanours, then relegation from the first list to the second list is always a possibility…!!

The other positive thing to come from yesterday’s post, is that I have finally got a bit of a feel for my audience (in part at least).
As I’m sure you can imagine, it is a bit odd for my to sit here every day and have no idea who I’m communicating with.
The stats on my blog tell me that I get 500+ hits on a good day – I have always assumed that I’d got an audience (unless they are all courtesy of one crazy individual), but it has been nice ‘speaking’  to so many of you over the past 24 hours. 
What has come across is the breadth of readership that I have got: some experienced, some novice; some interested only in the betting, others in the rationale: some big hitters, some small players.
It is nice to know that I’ve managed to create something appreciated by all different shapes and sizes !

As for anyone who hasn’t yet contacted me, the message has simply got to be, get in touch soon if you want a chance of getting the best prices on the selections.
I have little doubt that just the 20+ so far, would be capable of collapsing a price at 5:00 the evening before, so if you are planning to wait for a tweet or a blog post, before you take the price, forget it !

My current plan is to start communicating my tips via email from next Monday onwards. Hopefully by then, everyone who wants to be placed on one of the email lists, will have had chance to contact me. I’ll confirm this later in the week, however…

Sunday, 22 January 2012

TVB earlybird - Adjustment in direction

I’m now over half way through the TVB-earlybird project (I said at the beginning that it would run until the final race at the Cheltenham festival) and I’ve been thinking about where I would like to take it from this point…

As you may recall, when I set out, I had no particular agenda: my hope was simply that by creating the blog, I would focus more on form study etc. and as a consequence, my own betting would become more profitable. In reality, this has only part-happened.
I’ve certainly been concentrating intently on the race (or as intently as time permits !) – but my betting hasn’t really got any more profitable. That said, it hasn’t got any less profitable either, so I’m not particularly complaining.
I’ve quite enjoyed the blogging experience – even if I’ve not had as many inter-actions as I had maybe hoped. However, I have got to wonder why I’m putting in all the time and effort, if I’m not really getting any personal benefit from it…

I have always been quite prepared to help out people who would like to get an understanding of racing – and that desire remains. Racing has been a key component of my life for over 30 years – bringing me some tremendous highs and great memories. It may sound a little odd, but I feel some kind of obligation to share that.
Consequently, I’ve no issue with producing the blog (assuming it is getting an appropriate readership).

What I don’t feel so comfortable with, is just broadcasting profitable tips to anyone who wants to tune in.
I really don’t like using Twitter and so I’m going to start moving away from it…

By the beginning of next month, I will be issuing all of my tips by email, before I Tweet them. By doing this, I will ultimately render Twitter valueless (by the time I Tweet, prices are likely to be gone) – but that is my objective.
Most people nowadays have smart phones – and therefore should be able to set up ‘push emails’ to their phones. This should mean that people can receive notifications of tips just as quickly as is currently the case with Twitter.

Therefore, if you want to continue to receive the tips as soon as they are broadcast, you will need to let me have an email address that I can send them to.
I intend to set up a couple of distribution groups so that I can prioritise who gets the tips first. I already send the tips to a handful of friends before they are Tweeted and this will continue to be the case.
However, I plan to have at 2 more tiers: the first for the people who have supported this project (the likes of Ciaran and the guys from the TFA forum) and the second for people I don’t know at all (the anonymous guys !).
If I’m going to help people make money, then I feel that I have the right to prioritise who they will be…

So, to re-iterate, if you want to continue to receive the tips in a timely fashion, you will need to email: TVB.earlybird@gmail.com.
If you want to be on the first list that gets notified, you will need to identify yourself – and state your case for inclusion.
I will be prepared to move people from the second list to the first list, over time – but only when I become familiar with the individual.

Of course, providing an email address is completely optional. I’m sure there are people who don’t follow the tips – but like to read the rationale (or just follow the journey).
In that case, then fine. You don’t need to do anything – I will be continuing to blog in the same way as I have done for the past few months, so you can enjoy the write ups as you always have done.

I hope the above all makes sense – and I’ll look forward to hearing from some of your over the next few days…

22nd January - Race review

Half way down the back straight today, I have to admit to feeling a little smug…
As I had suggested, O Crotaigh and Daldini had gone off like a pair of scalded cats, and Tafika was getting the run of the race, cruising along in third place.
Dominic Elsworth decided to make his move at this point – and as he ranged up along sides the leaders, Tafika looked far and away m the most likely winner…
Then, as quickly as he arrived on the scene, he was beaten. Literally, in 100 yards, he went from travelling strongly to struggling. He jumped a couple more fences and was then pulled up.
You have to assume that – as with a few of the recent tips – he is struggling with some kind of physical issue. We have seen it with Lucky Landing and Solitary Palm and I think we saw it again today.
As with the other 2, the clues were there. Tafika under-went a breathing operation in the summer. It looks like it hasn’t been successful – and whatever the future holds for him, carrying our money in a race, is not likely to be part of it…

Just one minor footnote: the relatively disappointing run of Noble Prince in Ireland (he finished second) has seen Somersby promoted to joint favourite for the Ryanair chase. You’ll now struggle to beat 7/1 on a horse advised a couple of weeks ago at 20/1.
It’s nice to see that my ability to pick steamers isn’t limited to low class mid-week races at the gaff tracks ;)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

22nd January - Selection rationale

I had no intention of tipping tomorrow – as I said on my previous post !
However, my alerts for the day came through and told me that Tafika is running at Market Rasen – and I changed my mind !
That said, I nearly didn’t bother, as I think they are running him over the wrong trip and the race has other front runners – but, at the price, I think it is worth taking a chance that his class will see him through…

Tafika is a big, imposing chaser and it was a real surprise to see him fall last time out at Warwick. Prior to that, he had run really well on his seasonal debut at Bangor, until lack of fitness, took it’s toll…
Generally, Tafika likes to make the running, but with O Crotaigh and Daldini in the race, he might be forced to tuck in behind.
Hopefully this won’t inconvenience him too much – and if a searching gallop results in the race becoming something of a stamina test, then that should play to Tafika’s strengths.
Being such a big horse, I am quite happy with him giving away weight to inferior animals – it also seems significant that Paul Webber is prepared to take just the one horse all the way over to Market Rasen on a Sunday.
I can pick holes in all of his rivals – so although he isn’t bomb proof himself, I think he is worth a small wager at the best available price.

1pt win Tafika 7/1

21st January - Race reviews

I felt like I put in a hell of a lot of effort today, to go absolutely nowhere !
5 points staked: 5 points returned – still, it could have been worse I guess…
My rationale for tipping multiple horses in a race, was to try and smooth things out a little (and to make the more competitive races, less competitive !) and it was one of the savers, that saved the day !

That horse was Reindeer Dippin – a horse that I tipped twice in December, during the losing run. Better still, he beat Stow into second – another horse that I tipped during December. And this followed just 10 minutes after Richard’s Sundance had run a cracker to finish third at Wincanton – and guess what, I tipped him in December as well !

I think the various anonymous posters, who are keen to have a dig when things are going badly, would do well to dwell on the above paragraph for a few moments.

All of my tips are good tips: without exception, the horses have a better chance than their odds imply. This is proven by the fact that you can make money just backing them at the suggested price and laying off at SP – but it is also proven by their subsequent performances.
I’ve said before, but I identify horses that are ready to win. They may not win on the day I tip them – there are too many unknown variables (pace, jockeyship, jumping etc.) but when they get the rub of the green in a race, they will invariably go close…

Anyway, enough of that (the return of Marvin has clearer impacted my equilibrium !!) and onto a few brief comments on each of today’s races:

As I have just said, Richard’s Sundance ran a cracker at Wincanton. Attacking from the front and jumping from fence to fence. Unfortunately he ran into a very well handicapped rival in Zarrafakt (Buffalo Bob ran into the same well handicapped rival, when he got beaten at Newbury, back in November).
Richard’s Sundance will remain of interesting the right race – though he is clearly vulnerable to progressive rivals.

Next up it was the handicap hurdle at Haydock, where Stow and Reindeer Dippin, were backed off the boards and fought out the finish.
TBH, I honestly thought that Stow would prove the stronger if it came down to a battle form the last – but that wasn’t the case.
All credit to Reindeer Dippin who deserved this win for a couple of excellent efforts last year.
It was also nice to see Stow prove his Chepstow running completely wrong – even though we won nothing and his handicap rating will doubtless rise as a consequence of this performance.

My great hope for the day was King Fontaine, but he crashed out (and how !) at the second fence.
That was a huge disappointment as I was absolutely sure he was going to go close today (I had my biggest bet of the week on him L ). The victory of According to Pete added insult to injury as he won the race at Wetherby, which King Fontaine ran in last time.
Still, assuming he is non the worse for the fall, there will always be next time. As Ciaran likes to say, it is only money lent ;)

Despite having 3 cracks at the Ascot race, I got nowhere near.
Noland ran best of the 3 but could only finish a well beaten sixth. Sa Suffit raced prominently for a while but faded in the last mile, whilst Gilbarry was never really sighted after an early mistake. It was a hugely competitive race, so I wouldn’t view any of the 3 too harshly.
The only consolation I have, is that I was right to take on Zaynar. He was sent off an unbelievable 9/4 – and in fairness, ran well. However, it was always going to be a huge ask, taking on so many decent rivals, with so little chasing experience.
He could be worth looking out for next time though…

A quick mention for the Victor Chandler chase, which was won in tenacious style by Somersby.
That wasn’t really the result I wanted: as well as having backed Somersby for the Ryanair, I have also backed Finians Rainbow for the Queen Mother champion chase !
However, I would still be optimistic, that Somersby will take up the Ryanair engagement rather than the Champion chase one (where he came up short last year).
I also don’t think that Finians Rainbow lost a lot in defeat (thought he will clearly need to improve again to beat Sizing Europe and Big Zeb at Cheltenham).
Somersby is now a best priced 10/1 shot for the Ryanair, so other must be reading it in the same way I have !!

Finally, there will be no tips tomorrow. It’s been a tough week (tipping wise) and I feel like a day off !
Hopefully I’ll be back fresh on Monday, ready to kick on with the new week !!

21st January - Selection rationale (part 2)

Time has run out on me this morning – too many things to do (including replying to a comment from our old friend Marvin !!).

I had hoped to tip 2 this morning: Richard’s Sundance (whom I have tipped ) and Buffalo Bob.

Both were available at 8/1 last night – but as only 3 bookmakers had priced up the races, I decided to hold fire until this morning.
The 8/1 was still available on Richard’s Sundance when I got up – but Buffalo Bob had crashed in price to 5/1.
It’s a shame really, as I was intending to have a point EW on Buffalo Bob at that price (or maybe better). At a quarter the odds a place, that would have been a 50% return if he finishes in the first 3 (which I think is highly likely) and a big bonus if he was good enough to win.
At 5/1, it’s only money back if he places – and that is no where near as attractive. If he drifts nearer the off, I’ll be on !!

The case for Richard’s Sundance, is that he is a well handicapped horse, previously successful over course and distance. He was well backed for a class 2 race last timer out (today’s race is class 3) but he fell at the sixth fence.
I particularly like the fact that Victor Dartnell is also running Nicto De Beauchene in the race, as this reduces the weight that Richard’s Sundance has to carry.
I think there can be little doubt that Richard’s is the stables number 1 hope (the presence of Andrew Glassonbury in the saddles certainly suggest that) and I would be hopeful that he will give a very good account of himself.

1pt win Richards Sundance 8/1

Friday, 20 January 2012

21st January - Selection rationale (part 1)

I’m really glad I had a winning day today !
I looked at tomorrow’s declarations at lunchtime – and I knew almost immediately that it was going to be a day when I fancied ‘getting stuck in’ !
Bearing in mind that my conservatism cost us last weekend, I was keen not to do the same tomorrow. However, it is a lot easier to go for it with a few points behind you, as opposed to when you are hovering around the break even point.
Thanks then to Mark the Book, for making it easier for me to play tomorrow as I want to…

I’ve actually adopted a slightly different approach tomorrow, in so much as I’ve tipped multiple horses in a couple of races.
This is something that I’m keen to try out when the racing is very competitive.
If I can see 2 or 3 in a race, whom I think could win and their odds are all fair, I think it makes sense to ‘dutch’ them.
Obviously, this won’t see such spectacular wins (I’ll leave those for Chepstow, midweek ;) ) – but hopefully, it will see a steadier flow of wins.
I’ve also made sure that I have adjusted the staking so that the total stake on each race is where I think it should be. This means for example, that if we end up having 3 x 0.5pt win bets at 16/1, it should be roughly the same as a 1.5pt win bet at 5/1 in a less competitive race.
Hopefully this all makes sense – I know what I’m trying to do (which is the important thing !) and it feels right to me !!
Anyway, on to the first batch of tomorrow’s selections (the second half is likely to follow tomorrow morning)…

Haydock 2:20

I really hope that Haydock passes its inspection tomorrow morning.
They’ve had lots of rain this week – and more forecast for tomorrow. The going will be absolutely desperate – but that is good news form a betting perspective.
Only a handful of horses will go on the ground – which means that fields can be pruned to a manageable size, relatively quickly.
The 2 on my short list for this race tomorrow, are ‘old favourites’ Stow and Reindeer Dippin.
I’ve only tipped Stow once before – and he ran an absolute shocker that day ! However, he was backed as if defeat was out of the question (of all my tips, only Olofi has shortened more – and he was advised at a much bigger price).
That simply can’t have been his form – and I don’t think connections believe it was either.
Despite having the option of some very good rides elsewhere, Aiden Coleman comes to Haydock, to partner this horse – and Mon Mome. I guess the latter has a chance in the Peter Marsh – but it will be some feat if he can win on the prevailing going with the weight he has to carry.
Therefore, I suspect they strongly fancy Stow again…
Blinkers have been added for the first time – which makes a lot of sense – and he can run from a 3lb lower mark than last time (and just 3lb above his last winning mark).
He will love the conditions – and if the real Stow turns up tomorrow, I think he’ll win…
However, if the real Stow doesn’t turn up, I’m hoping Reindeer Dippin will run a big race as well. In truth, I have concerns over both the trip and the weight he has to carry – however, he remains well handicapped and he will handle the conditions better than most.
I’d be really annoyed if he won without me tipping him, so I figure he is worth a half point saver…

1pt win Stow 9/1
0.5pt win Reindeer Dippin 9/1

Haydock 3:30

This will be a war of attrition.
Personally, I can’t have any of the top weights, I think it will be a huge advantage to be carrying less than 11stone.
That leaves just 3 horses: The Sawyer, Bold Ransom and King Fontaine – and to me, one of those sticks out a mile…
King Fontaine was a really progressive horse last season, when he notched up a 4 timer. His last win was actually over this very course and distance – and off the same mark as tomorrow.
He was raised 15lb for that win – and has struggled since. However, there were clear signs last time out, that he is a horse coming back to form.
In the Rowland Meyrick chase at Wetherby’s Christmas meeting, he was going as well as anything, leaving the back straight before fading on the run to home.
That run suggested to me that he was a horse I would want to be on next time out – and the fact that the handicapper has chosen to drop him a massive 8lbs for it, is the icing on the cake !
My only real concern is whether he will appreciate the ground. His previous runs on heavy have not been great – and this fact alone has stopped me going crazy on him.
However, from a form, handicapping, trip and course perspective, I think he is a great bet – let’s hope the ground doesn’t prove to be his Achilles heal.

1.5pt win King Fontaine 11/1

Ascot 3:45

It might appear that I’ve gone crazy by tipping 3 in this, but there is method in my madness…
Firstly, it is a really competitive race – one could almost argue, too competitive to tip/bet in.
However, I am keen to oppose Zaynar, who I think will find it all a bit to much – and if you want to take on the favourite, there is likely to be value elsewhere…
The 3 I want against the field are Noland, Sa Suffit and Gilbarry.
Noland is the one I fancy most. It is rare for me to back a Paul Nicholls horse, because they tend to be overbet by the racing public – but I think 9/1 on Noland is a very fair price.
Noland really is a graded performer running in a handicap. I appreciate that he might not be the horse he once was- but his run last time in Ireland was pretty good. I think he’ll be fine with the trip and feel he will take a good deal of beating.
One that could shake him up is Sa Suffit. He is a borderline top class chaser as well – and he ran very creditably last time out. Going and trip will suit him well – and it strikes me as significant that James Ewart sends him all the way to Ascot as his only runner.
Finally, I can’t let Gilbarry pass at an insulting price, he also ran quite well last time, suggesting he is coming back to form. He has dropped 8lb in the handicap since the start of the season and should be well suited by tomorrow’s test.
Hopefully, the winner will come from one of these 3 – and if they happen to finish first, second and third, I will definitely retire on the spot ;)

0.5pt win Noland 9/1
0.25pt win Sa Suffit 16/1
0.25pt win Gilbarry 28/1

20th January - Race review

Horse: Mark the Book
Price advised: 8/1
ISP: 11/2
BSP: 7.2
Finishing positon: 1st

I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Chepstow, as a racecourse…
Some of my best picks – and wins – have come at the venue. Maybe it’s because I can identify the type of horse that tends to do best there: real solid, unspectacular sloggers !!
Whatever the reason, Chepstow came good for me again today and got the show nicely back on the road, courtesy of Mark the Book.

He was absolutely hammered in the betting last night – which I took as a good sign. However, I don’t think the night before matters as much as the few minutes before the off – and although I didn’t see the race live (on the school run – again !), I was a little concerned to see an SP of 11/2, when he was 4/1 at lunchtime.
Still, I needn’t have worried. Daryl Jacobs grasped the mettle form the off and proceeded to jump his rivals into the ground.
I was particularly pleased to see how well Mark the Book jumped – it was significantly better than at Haydock and showed that he clearly was a little rusty that day.
Of course the early falls of 2 of his rivals helped matters – but as we know ourselves from earlier this week, the fences are there to be jumped.
In truth, I doubt Mark the Book would have been beaten regardless: Roackabilly was the danger and he was well held from the third last onwards.

Under the right circumstances, I suspect that Mark the Book could follow up (provided the handicapper isn’t overly harsh). I suspect there is more improvement in him from today – and he is a 130+ capable animal.
But for now, I will just content myself with the fact that I’ve got a few more points to play with for the rest of the month :)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

20th January - Selection rationale

I was thinking last night, one thing that has fallen apart a bit during this poor run, has been the my staking…
To an extent, it is understandable: you don’t stake 3 points on the likes of Lucky Landing or Ranjobaie, and get burnt too often.
Consequently, my staking has become more conservative (this is a failing I constantly battle against !).
Therefore, I pick out a horse like Ockey De Neulliac – which was a great price in a really weak race – and I have 1 point on it…
Fair enough having a point on Rear Gunner – and a point and a half on Rougham – but by that criteria, Ockey was a 2 point bet as a minimum (ignoring the Ferdy factor !!).
As a consequence of this, I have gone for it a little more tomorrow.
The reason for this is that I feel Mark the Book is significantly over-priced in a relatively weak race.
Sure he comes with risks (though touch wood, not the jumping risks that the other selections this week have had). The risk with him is whether he retains his former ability – and also whether he has recovered from a tough race at Haydock last month.
If his ability is in tact and he is over the Haydock race, then he will hack up – and 8/1 will be an unbelievable price!!

In truth, I’m not overly worried about the effects of the Haydock race: it was more than a month ago and Mark the Book wasn’t given a hard time when beaten – the significant question therefore, is how much of his ability remains...?
That is an impossible question to answer, but the suggestion from the Haydock race was that it is sufficient to go very close in a race like tomorrow’s.
It is true that he was pulled up in that race, but he was still in fifth place entering the home straight. Furthermore, his jumping wasn’t particularly slick throughout the race, so there should be some room for improvement in that department.
Clearly, you would expect him to come on for his first race in 18 months – but in truth, he probably doesn’t need to.
In the past, Mark the Book, has been a horse of massive ability and massive potential. Just 4 runs ago, he went off 7/2 second favourite in a 15 runner class 3 chase at Wincanton. That was on the back of a 44 length demolition of Earth Planet in a 3 mile race at Chepstow (same conditions as tomorrow).
His 3 subsequent races have been in class 1 or class 2 contests – tomorrow he races in a class 4 contest of a mark 114.
Like I said before, if he retains his old ability, he wins !
He also has a tremendous record at Chepstow: 4 runs yielding 2 wins and 2 seconds…
I could go on – but I think you get the point !
Make no mistake, Mark the Book is a risky selection tomorrow – in that he might simply not run a race. However, if he does run his race, I’ll be staggered if he is beaten.
That’s why he warrants a 2 point bet at a time of relative conservatism ;)

2pt win Mark the Book 8/1

19th January - Race review

Horse: Rougham
Advised Price: 10/1
SP: 6/1
BSP: 6.92
Finishing position: F

I said last night that I had some reservations about Rougham’s jumping…
Unfortunately they proved well founded, as he crashed out at the fourth last fence. Ironically, he had jumped well until that point and Richard Johnson was just starting to apply a little pressure to get him to close.
That tends to be the problem when a horse isn’t a natural over fences: they can jump fine when in their comfort zone, but when they are asked to jump under pressure, the frailties appear.
In fairness, exactly the same could have happened with Ockey De Neulliac on Tuesday - he was just never put under pressure ! With these kind of horses, you pay your money, you take your chance.

The race was won by Michael Flips, which was slightly irritating. I did consider having a saver on him – but he was a little shorter priced than I would have liked.
There was always the possibility that if he translated his hurdles form to the larger obstacles, he would be too good today – and that proved to be the case.

As for Rougham: he has the ability to win a race of that nature, but a smaller field will always help – and I also think he is better suited to just bowling along in front and trying to get his jumping into a rhythm…

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

19th January - Selection rationale

I didn’t plan to be tipping on 3 consecutive mid-week days – but when the races are there to be tipped in, what can you do ?!?!

3 domestic NH meetings tomorrow and as was the case last Monday, Taunton steal the show with a tremendous card, featuring a couple of cracking races.
It really is good to see some quality races taking place midweek (outside Ireland, of course !) and it is the handicap chase which will be run at 3:50, that has been the focus of most of my attention….

I said last week, that the trainer whose horses I had tipped most, was Venetia Williams. Well, that is true – but only just…
I’ve tipped just as many Philip Hobbs trained horses – I’ve just not had as many points on them.
The big difference however, is that whilst Venetia hasn’t provided me with a winner, Mr Hobbs has provided me with 3 (from 8) – including 20/1 shot Roalco De Farges.
Of course, that is not a good reason to tip a horse – but it does give me a little more confidence when I find a horse I fancy that happens to be trained by him…

That is the case with Rougham, who is trained by Philip Hobbs.
He was a decent novice chaser last season, when he was victorious in a handicap chase at Ascot off a mark of 130.
He started this campaign with a really creditable run behind Roudoudou Ville at Sandown. He still had every chance in that race when he blundered at the last. The winner subsequently ran a cracker in the 2m5f chase at Cheltenham’s pre-christmas meeting, thereby franking the form.
Next time out, Rougham again made a significant jumping error – and this time it caused him to be pulled up.
His penultimate run behind Torpichan at Exeter was creditable – as was his last run at Wincanton (behind Consigliere). He travelled notably well in the Wincanton race – but the combination of soft ground and a 2m5f trip probably proved too much for him…
The ground should be quicker tomorrow and the trip is 2 furlongs less. Rougham has also been eased 3lb in the handicap, taking him to a mark of 132 – only 2lb higher than last years wining mark.
As you would expect in such a relatively valuable race, there are a number of dangers, headed by the novices Chariot Charger and Michael Flips.
However, I am optimistic that, provided Rougham doesn’t make any serious jumping mistakes, he will run a big race – hopefully one good enough to improve my record with Philip Hobbs trained runners even further !!

1.5pt win Rougham 10/1

18th January - Race review

Horse: Rear Gunner
Advised Price: 20/1
SP: 16/1
BSP: 19.12
Finishing position: PU

Rear Gunner didn’t exactly cover himself in glory this afternoon…
He made a bad mistake at the cross fence (the 3rd) and that seemed to affect his confidence. He then hit pretty much every fence from that point onwards and was eventually pulled up half way down the back straight.
He couldn’t be followed again, until he has sorted out his jumping issues.

The race was won by Glenns Boy, who was gaining compensation for a very unlucky defeat last time out at Warwick. He got the better of Ikorodu Road and Monbeg Dude, in a stirring finish.

Later on the card, Turko ran a fair race to finish fourth in the season’s first Hunter Chase. The race was won in scintillating style, by Chapoturgeon. He was entitled to win the race on official ratings – but could hardly have been more impressive in doing so.
There must be a doubt about him getting the 3m2f of the Foxhunters at the Cheltenham festival – but if he does, he will take some beating…

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

18th January - Selection rationale

There are a couple of fair NH meetings tomorrow – considering it is a Wednesday !
The Newbury card, in particular, looks interesting – though betting opportunities are limited due to the nature of the races.
The hunter chase, that ends the card, looks a particularly strong affair. I reckon Turko could go well – and you might even get a bit of a price about him…!

However, for the tip, I’m sticking to the more conventional route of a handicap chase. My selection is no certainty (!) – but I am optimistic that it will outrun it’s rather generous odds…

Newbury 2:35

Rear Gunner only made his seasonal debut just over a fortnight ago, in a handicap chase at Folkestone. His finished sixth that day, but ran a lot better than that placing suggests.
The winner, Only Vintage, won very easily, but Rear Gunner was the only horse who threatened to give him any kind of a race, from the third last onwards.
Ultimately he paid the price for chasing the winner and ended up tired and well beaten. However, I would expect him to come on for that run and if he does, off a 2lb lower mark and over a more suitable trip, I can see him running a big race tomorrow.
I like the fact that Rear Gunner races prominently. In a 17 runner race, it will almost certainly pay to be up front and out of trouble.
That was how he ran when he beat Moleskin and Ray Nacarado, at Kempton last year – and both of those horses have certainly franked that form this season.
One slight concern, is that Rear Gunner has raced almost exclusively right handed. This seems a little bizarre for a 10 year old – but hopefully there is no particular reason for it. He did actually run a cracker at Lingfield as a novice hurdler – and Newbury is a big track, so there shouldn’t really be any issues.
Looking through the race I can see plenty of potential dangers, but it is the top 3 horses: Panjo Bere, Ikorodu Road and Sound Stage that I fear most.
However, if Rear Gunner can find a rhythm, I’m hopeful that he will be difficult to pass - and if he is passed, I’m hoping it is by no more than 3 other horses ;)

0.5pt EW Rear Gunner 20/1

17th January - Race review

As is often the case, I missed this afternoon’s race, as I was out on the school run.
Whenever that happens, I try my best to avoid finding out the result before I’ve had chance to watch the race.
That can be a bit tricky, as I’ve a few friends who are keen to let me know when things have gone well (they’ve been quite quiet lately !!).
For whatever reason, non of them sent me a text after the race today, so I was fearing the worse.
Ofcourse, if I’d looked on the blog and seen 5 unmoderated comments, I might have become a little more optimistic !

Thanks for the positive feedback. I won’t respond to the comments individually, but it is nice to know that there are at least a few of you still rooting for the selections, despite the recent indifferent run of form.
I think Ciaran (Viller Viper) in particular, deserved today’s success – I’m just glad you were on him !!

With regard to the race itself, then it went pretty much to plan…
Ockey De Neulliac, was again held up out the back and despite some indifferent jumping, he once again arrived at the second last, pulling the proverbial train. Another iffy jump followed – but he got over safely, did the same at the last and sauntered home by 11 lenghts.
In fairness he never really looked that likely to fall - and his inexperienced jockey was clearly keen to stay on board ! I’m not sure I would be overly keen to support him in a bigger field – or up significantly in class – but in today’s grade with a small field, he was cleary streets better than his rivals…
Where I think he might remain interesting, is if he is switched back to hurdles – though the fact his rating is likely to be the best part of a stone lower than his chase rating, is likely to mean that there will be little value in his price.

Anyway, it was good to get a winner and move back into the black for the month.
And as for my concerns about tipping a Ferdy horse the night before – they proved completely unfounded !!

Monday, 16 January 2012

17th January - Selection rationale

Ockey De Neulliac really caught my eye last time out when running at Wetherby on Boxing day.
In that race, he was settled in rear by his jockey and made relentless progress on the second circuit culminating in him jumping to the front over the second last.
However, he then appeared to tire quickly and could eventually only finish fifth. My feeling was that over a couple of furlongs less, he would have just about won…
Tomorrow he is running over 2furlongs less – though unfortunately it is over fences rather than hurdles. There are 2 issues with that: firstly Ockey De Neulliac is rated 5lb lower over hurdles (as so has to effectively carry 5lb more tomorrow) and secondly, he is not the best jumper of a fence that you will ever see…
However, he will be helped tomorrow, by the fact that he only has 5 rivals to beat (which should make jumping easier for him) - and non of them really look world beaters.
It is interesting to see that Ferdy Murphy has enlisted the services of a very inexperienced claimer for the ride, in John Winston. He’s only had a hand full of rides before – and just the one winner – though that was on Ockey De Neulliac over hurdles.
Even in this apprentice only race, he is able to claim 8lb, which should be very valuable in helping to offset his top weight.
I must admit that I do have some slight reservations about tipping a Ferdy horse the night before ! However, I do think the price is too big – and I suspect it would go whether I tipped it or not !
At the end of the day, he’s a horse in form, running in a 6 runner race, where non of his opponents look outstanding. At 9/1, I feel he has to be worth a small wager…

1pt win Ockey De Neulliac 9/1

Saturday, 14 January 2012

14th January - Race reviews

What can I say ! I really don’t feel I deserved that today – but then again, I don’t feel I’ve deserved quite a lot of what’s happened over the past month and a half…
In fairness, it was simply down to poor judgement today – not bad luck – but all the same, it was galling to watch first Moleskin and then Hey Big Spender win.
If you look through the write ups for today’s racing, you will see that 6 horses are mentioned: the 4 tips, plus those 2 ! Now that takes some doing…!!

Anyway, as I’ve said before – and I will doubtless say again – these things are sent to test us – and one thing’s for sure, they are certainly testing me at the moment !!

A quick summary of how the tips ran today (which without exception, was poorly !):

Handy Andy raced prominently until about half way at Warwick. However he then started to struggle and eventually finished in mid-division.

It was a similar story for Rajdahani Express, who also raced prominently before weakening. The trip looked a bit far for him and he was pulled up before the second last.

Fine Parchment was a huge drifter in the betting – quite surprisingly so, as he was strong this morning. He ran a reasonable race – but always looked to be outpaced. He plugged on to finish fifth and will doubtless appreciate a few pounds off his back and a softer surface.

Blazing Bailey was also outpaced for most of the journey and ended up finishing well beaten.

So there you have it, 3 points lost on a day when the story could have been completely different. I guess it comes down to those fine lines again…

14th January - Selection rationale (part 2)

I’ve been monitoring 2 horses this morning with a view to a fourth or even fifth tip.
One of them was Handy Andy, who has become a tip; whilst the other is Moleskin, whom I’ve decided to pass on.
The issue with Moleskin, is simply the price. I thought 8/1 tight enough in what looks a competitive race.
I hoped that 10/1 might become available this morning but it hasn’t materialised.
I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him – and I think he has a good EW chance – but odds are everything for me and I don’t see the requisite 20%+ margin in a quote of 8/1…

Warwick 2:30

Handy Andy is a much riskier selection - but he is available at almost double the price !!
I really think he is a win or bust selection and I’m obviously hoping it is the former.
The case for him rests almost solely on his debut victory under rules at Newbury last March.
He beat the David Pipe trained Our Father that day and looked a horse of some potential, in doing so.
However, he has only run twice since then and disappointed on both occasions. Firstly over hurdles at Aintree and then on his chasing debut at Wincanton in November.
It clearly requires something of a leap of faith to hope that he bounces back to the form he showed at Newbury. However, if he does manage to achieve that, then he should go very close today.
Our Father is now rated 147, after demolishing a decent field at Ascot on his return. Despite proving his superior at Newbury, Handy Andy gets to run off a mark of 127 today. If that form line is not mis-leading, you can see what a good chance Handy Andy should have today.

0.5pt win Handy Andy 14/1

Friday, 13 January 2012

14th January - Selection rationale

There are a couple of decent meetings tomorrow afternoon, at Kempton and Warwick – containing some attractive races…
I’ve managed to find 3 tips so far – and am eying up a potential fourth for tomorrow morning. Non of the tips could really be classed as rock solid. However, all of them have a chance – and hopefully a greater one than their odds suggest.
I am optimistic that all 3 (4) will at least give us a good run for our money…

Kempton 2:50

This is a massively competitive race and I could easily see any one of a dozen winning it.
What ever happens, it will certainly be a race to watch closely as I’m sure it will contain plenty of future winners.
The horse I want on side, is the Nicky Henderson trained ex French, Rajdhani Express. He made a really eye-catching British debut at Sandown in December when finishing fifth behind Ubi Ace. He didn’t run quite so well next time out in the Ladbroke at Ascot – but that run came only 2 weeks after his debut and was also on soft ground.
As a son of Presenting, you would expect Rajdhani Express to perform better on tomorrow’s quicker ground. He has also had the best part of a month to recover from his last race.
Furthermore, he has been dropped 2lb from the Ascot run – and if you look at his French form with the 141 rated Houblon Des Obeaux, that makes him look potentially well handicapped on a mark of 137.
As I said, dangers abound – but if Rajdhani Express can build on the promise he showed on his British debut, I reckon he could go very close.
Sam Waley Cohen is on board (his father owns the horse) and he owes us for Otage De Brion. Hopefully he and Rajdhani Express can go some way to paying back that debt !!

0.5pt win Rajdhani Express 22/1

Kempton 3:20

This is a slightly unusual race in so much as over half the field were either pulled up or fell, last time out ! In fact, the best last time out placing any of the field can offer, is a 4th. To say recent form is in short supply therefore, is something of an under-statement !!
Fine Parchment is the horse that I fancy in the race. He was hugely progressive last season, with his rating rising from 107 to 135. That progression seemed to have continued this season, when he finished second to Hectors Choice at Aintree.
His 2 subsequent runs have been a little disappointing but I think there were mitigating circumstances for both .
The first of them was in the Paddy Power gold cup where he actually managed to beat half the field despite being 6lb out of the handicap.
Next time out he was asked to lug 11st12lb around the Aintree fences in heavy ground. Maybe not too surprisingly, he was pulled up.
If he can return to the form of his debut run then he should go close tomorrow. Having to carry top weight is not ideal but the booking of Peter Carberry to take off 5lb will certainly help.

1pt win Fine Parchment 12/1

Warwick 3:40

The presences of Hey Big Spender means that almost half of the field are out of the handicap for this race.
I was half tempted to tip Hey Big Spender. As you should be aware, I’m a big fan of the horse: however, he is running off his highest ever rating tomorrow (156) over a trip he is unproven. If you add in a niggley concern about his jumping, then there were just too many question marks and I decided, somewhat reluctantly, pass him over. I might have a small saver on him, all the same…
For the tip, I have turned to the Alan King trained Blazing Bailey. King has won the last 2 runnings of this race and I think Blazing Bailey has every chance of providing him with a hatrick.
He was a top class staying hurdler, who got his act together over fences last season, when he won off marks of 133 and 146.
A few disappointing runs since his last victory have seen his mark slip back to 146 – but with conditions ideal for him tomorrow, I can see no reason why he won’t run a very big race.

1pt win Blazing Bailey 10/1