Wednesday, 29 February 2012

1st March - Selection rationale

It’s funny how things pan out…
I have a daily routine when I’m tipping, that starts with me looking at the following days declarations at lunchtime (just after they have been released).
That enables me to get a feel for the next day’s racing and to establish if there are likely to be any tips (I look for suitable races and familiar horses !).
Yesterday, when I saw today’s Bangor card, I was confident I would be able to find us a bet or two – but ultimately nothing materialised (at Bangor, at least); today when I looked at tomorrow’s cards at Ludlow and Taunton, I was sure I wouldn’t have a bet – and yet, a selection has miraculously appeared...

The reason for this reason for this happening, is down to the second and third steps that I go through…
The second step takes place throughout the afternoon, as time permits. I look in more detail at the potentially suitable races and try to find an angle. I also pull together a price tissue in my mind (for comparison with the bookmakers first shows).

The third and final step takes place when the bookmakers issue their early prices.
I scan through the lists, checking out the prices of the horse I’m potentially interested in – or comparing the prices with my tissue prices (if I’ve not found a particular angle).

I hadn’t found a particular angle on any of tomorrow’s races, but I had produced a mental tissue for the 4:00 at Ludlow.
In that tissue, Maraafeq was around a 7/1 shot – so when I saw him on offer at double that price, I simply had to take action !!
The thing about tomorrow’s race, is it easy to pick holes in the credentials of all of the market leaders:
Cootehill has not run for 2 months; is up 6lb from his last run (which he won by a neck) and represents a stable that isn’t really firing.
Fairoak Lad hasn’t run for over a year and whilst he undoubtedly has the class to take this, you have to think that the important thing tomorrow will be to get a run into him as a preparation foe some of the bigger late season prizes.
Theatre Diva has been hunter chasing and whilst he ran pretty well last time out, you would be slightly fearful that he is in a general decline.
Rackham Lerouge has been pulled up in 2 of his last 3 runs and beaten over 100 lengths on the other occasion, he may be dropping in the handicap but it would take a leap of faith to follow him.
Drumbaloo has been similarly disappointing on his last 2 runs. He may bounce back to form tomorrow – but you wouldn’t really want to be on it.

In fairness, the credentials of Maraafeq are hardly rock solid. However, his sole chase win was over course and distance, and on similarly good going – and he really should be competitive tomorrow of a rating of 113, having won a hurdle off a mark of 121.
He also represents the Venetia Williams stable, which is still in red hot form (apart from when we back her runners ;) ).

In truth, I don’t see him as the most likely winner of the race: if the money comes for Fairoak Lad, you would have to be very fearful of him; and on balance, Theatre Diva probably has the strongest credentials (if he gets close to double figures tomorrow, he will certainly be worth a saver).

However this blog is all about spotting early value – and the early value in this race was represented by Maarafeq.
Hopefully he can convert that theoretical value into hard cash profit and set the new month (or at least, new half month) off to a good start.

1pt win Maarafeq 14/1

29th February - Race reviews

The main issue with backing a horse that has never jumped a fence in public, is that you don’t know how well it can jump…
Unfortunately for us, Longitude couldn’t jump very well – and ultimately, he paid the price for it.
That was a bit of a shame really, as the positive market vibes I was after, were certainly there – with him getting backed into the 6/1 SP that I’d hoped for.
Alas, that counted for nothing, as niggly mistake after niggly mistake, caused him to lose ground at every fence.
As I said this morning, he was a risky bet – staked accordingly – so I’ve no real complaints.
I won’t be looking out for him next time either – if I do back him again, it will only be after he has demonstrated improved proficiency over his obstacles…

Elsewhere, Lucky Landing ran the same sort of race that he had run every time we backed him, prior to his last victory.
He travelled really well to the third last fence and then weakened rapidly.
My initial feeling was that he had again suffered some physical issue (probably with his breathing) and this was subsequently confirmed by his trainer, who reported that he had bled from his nose.
It is such a shame, as the horse clearly has bundles of ability. However, if he can’t be got physically sound, he’s not going to win very many races…

Earlier on the Bangor card, Big Easy had managed to peg back the game front running Timesawastin; but Dawn Commander couldn’t quite catch Golden Call, an hour later.
At Folkestone, Wide Receiver looked to have the Kent National in the bag when he pinged the final fence – but couldn’t withstand the late surge of Upham Atom.
Not a great day for Charlie Longsdon….

29th February - Selection rationale

I mentioned last night that I might have a tip for today, if the horse in question was priced up as I hoped – and that priced remained until lunchtime…
Well, Longitude was the horse in question: he opened at 16/1 – and whilst he is now only 12/1, there have been a couple of withdrawals (including one potential danger), so I’m happy to accept the lower price.
In truth, he is a risky selection, that has required a fair bit of reading between the lines – but the price compensates for that, and I’ve only staked half a point on him, so any damage will be limited.

The case for Longitude is all based around potential – with just the odd hint from the formbook…
He is making his chasing debut today – and as you will doubtless recall from the past, I’m always quite interested in a horse that makes it’s chasing debut in a handicap.
Longitude is particularly interesting because he has acquired his rating via just 3 hurdle runs (the minimum normally required to get a handicap rating).
The first of those showed some promise – but the last 2 weren’t quite as good (this is not an uncommon pattern for a horse trying to get a favourable handicap mark).
He is also being stepped up in trip today and tackling the longest distance he has faced so far. However, he is bred to relish the task, so I see this as a positive move.
I also see as positive, the fact that his connections have waited for the better ground before letting him make his handicapping debut. His best hurdles run was on good ground, so hopefully he will be happy with today’s going.
His trainer, Henry Daly, has been in much better form this season, having been ravaged by a virus last season. He sends just the one runner to Southwell this afternoon..,
Finally, the race itself, doesn’t seem to contain any outstanding performers (maybe not too surprising for a class 5 event). I’m also heartened to see that nothing in the race has been particularly well supported - yet !
I actually think that if Longitude is going to win, he will be well supported (connections will have a feel for how good he could be), so we may well know our fate before the tapes go up.
If he’s 6/1 at the off, I’ll be optimistic – but if he’s 20/1, my expectation won’t be quite so great !!

0.5pt win Longitude 12/1

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

29th February - Update

There is a really nice meeting taking place at Bangor tomorrow afternoon – one which I was confident I would have some tips for…
This confidence increased further when I saw that Lucky Landing was running in the penultimate race on the card – and also that, superficially at least, it looked quite a competitive race.
I was expecting him to be priced up at around 7/2 and was hoping for anything up to 5/1 (I can be quite optimistic over these kind of things !).
As it turned out, he opened at 5/2 – and was soon cut to around 2/1.
That price is probably fair (I expect him to win) – but it is borderline value (I can give 3 or 4 others a chance and you have to retain a slight doubt about his physical well being).
As a consequence, I will be watching the race and just cheering him home (you have to do that with your old favourites, don’t you ?!).
One to look out for in the race, is the top weight Fishoutofwater. He ran a huge race last time out and has been dropped 2lb following it. The only trouble is, he needs really soft ground and he won’t get that tomorrow; he also hasn’t run for nearly 3 months – and he has to carry top weight.
All that said, with his connections, if the money comes for him, as a fan of Lucky Landing, I’ll be worried…

Elsewhere on the Bangor card, I like the look of Big Easy in the 3:25 – but he is 5/2 favourite for the race. The other one that appealed was Cantlow – but he is 7/1 second favourite…
In the 4:25, Dawn Commander looks very interesting – but he is also favourite (at 4/1); whilst the other one that caught my eye in that race was Requin.
He was mentioned by a guy who left a comment on the blog a month or so ago – and I’d be interested to know if he feels that Requin has a chance back over hurdles tomorrow (I do !)…

At Folkestone, Wide Receiver looks interesting in the 4:15 – but he’s also favourite.

I’m guessing that you can see my issue…!

There is one other horse that I’m quite interested in tomorrow – and he’s not favourite. However, the race he is running in has only been priced up by 1 bookmaker.
If he is still available at the same price tomorrow, when the market has more strength, I will send him out as a tip (though thinking about it, this will have to be around lunchtime, as I’m busy tomorrow morning – despite what I said in the email !!).

There are just a few other things that I would quickly like to cover:

Firstly, I sent out a ‘saver’ tip for the Arkle chase earlier today. I will update the Arkle posting in the ‘Cheltenham festival’ area of the blog, later this evening, to cover the thinking behind that move.

On the subject of the Cheltenham festival – it looks like I will be doing a ‘Special’ !  
The initial response to the proposal, has been really positive. In fact, sufficient people have already registered an interest to convince me to go ahead with the idea.
What I’ll do next, is remove the poll and create a ‘Special' section in the Cheltenham festival area. This is where I will put details on how it will work – plus payment details.
It will go up in the next couple of days and anyone who wants to receive the Special will then have plenty of time to make a payment.
I’m really looking forward to producing the daily previews – and hopefully, they won’t disappoint !

Finally, as tomorrow is the last day of February, I would ordinarily produce a monthly summary.
However, as the month has only been 2 weeks long (due to the bad weather) and as March will be of a similar length (due to the fact I’m stopping tipping after Cheltenham), I’m going to combine to 2 periods and make a new ‘month’ for reporting purposes.
As this period will cover the first 2 weeks of March (up until the start of Cheltenham) and the last 2 weeks of February , I have decided to call it ‘Maruary’ – LOL!!


28th February - Race review

It always seems a little unfair, when I read a race almost perfectly – and make nothing on it. However, that is exactly what happened today…
I could only see a case for 2 horses, and they had the race between them all the way up the home straight.
Unfortunately for us, we came out on the wrong side of the result, with Coolbeg gradually getting the better of Somewhatinevitable.
Of course, it would all have been different, had Paddy Brennan not managed to escape the carnage that took place at the middle fence down the back straight; it might even have been different if Coolbeg had not cut up Somewhatinevitable when jumping the third last – but these things happen.
On the plus side, Somewhatinevitable did demonstrate that he has a fair chunk of ability – just not as much as Coolbeg.  
He also demonstrated that he has a little bit of temperament (for a few moments, it looked like he might not start), so that is something to be wary of in the future.
Whether I would follow him again, depends on how good Coolbeg proves to be. I suspect he could be quite a decent animal – but it was a shockingly poor race today, so it was impossible to tell.
I’ll keep an eye on the first and second when they next run – hopefully the performance of one will be an indicator to he ability of the other…

Monday, 27 February 2012

28th February - Selection rationale

I thought long and hard about putting up Somewhatinevitable tomorrow and I don’t know why – it’s a tremendous bet !
The trouble is, it might not win – and whilst I can handle tipping double figure losers, I’m not so keen on tipping a loser at 4/1.
Still, value comes in all shapes and sizes – and Somewhatinevitable is value tomorrow, make no mistake about that – it’s just not packaged in the standard sized ‘value’ box, which I tend to get my selections from…

I tipped Somewhatinevitable the last time he ran – and was pretty sweet on him that day.
That race was over 3 miles in the soft at Huntingdon and having travelled really powerfully for the first 2/3rds of the race, he made a mistake at the first fence in the back straight and weakened very quickly.
The fact he weakened so quickly that day, is my main concern – particularly as he has shown a tendency to be a weak finisher in the past.
However, if he is ever going to get home, then 2 miles on quick ground is when it will happen – and he gets those conditions tomorrow.

I’ve mentioned in the past that there are 3 aspects to a bet: the horse; the opposition and the price.
I may have a slight concern about Somewhatinevitable tomorrow – but they are trivial
compared to the reservations I would have if I was tipping any of his opponents.

Somewhatineviable only has 5 runners to beat – and 2 of them, Kercabellec and Western Pride, are over a stone wrong in the weights and are both very exposed. I’m not saying they can’t win (I would never do that) but I would say it was unlikely.
Le Reveur must be a great horse to own, as tomorrow will be his ninth run since Christmas !! However, he’s got no nearer than fourth on his previous 8 attempts and that was on the AW at Kempton. By default, he may be able to improve that record slightly tomorrow, but I fancy that is all he will do…
Top weight, Tempting Paradise, sets the form standard, but he hasn’t run for 6 months and doesn’t look particular well handicapped. It will be disappointing and a little surprising, if he is good enough to win.
Which just leaves Coolbeg, whom I see as Somewhatinevitable’s main rival. Like the selection, he possesses some potential (which non of the others runners do) – but he also has significant question marks over him: He hasn’t run for over 3 months – and he finished last in that race. The form of his trainer, Tom George, is a big positive – and you have to think that he is capable of better than he has shown so far – but at 2/1, there is little value, with those kind of doubts.
Somewhatinevitable is twice that price – and really only has the one nagging doubt (whether he will last home).
There is no obvious pace in the race, so I’m hoping that Sam Jones will grasp the nettle and try to make all on him. Somewhatinevitable jumped well when given his head at Huntingdon and if the same thing happens tomorrow, I can see him drawing steadily clear of his rivals. Hopefully, by the time he jumps the last, he’ll be so far in front, that his suspect stamina won’t get put to the test !
That’s the theory, anyway ;)

2pt win Somewhatinevitable 4/1 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cheltenham Special - A Proposal

As you are doubtless all aware (because I keep banging on about it !), I’ve been really short of time for the past few months…
Part of my frustration with the situation, is because it wasn’t suppose to happen. I was supposed to have the winter months ‘free’, so that I could focus on the racing – but it just hasn’t worked out that way.
The main reason for this, is because I’ve been working on my bathroom during the winter months. I was meant to get it my bathroom done last summer but I ran out of time.
To compensate for that, I figured I could start work on it in September and just keep it ticking over during the winter months. The trouble with that idea, is that I only have around 10 free hours a week, so things tick over very slowly ! Plus, due to poor light and cold temperatures, 10 winter month hours are worth about 5 summer month hours…

This is all very interesting, you might be thinking – but why I am telling you..?

Well, the reason I’m telling you, is because this week, after a huge push, I’ve finally managed to get my bathroom into a state where it can be re-plastered (I’ve been back to bricks, joists and a lot of holes, for the past 3 months) – and the plasterers are coming in tomorrow.
Once the plasterers have finished their work (Tuesday evening), I will be able to have a little rest – and switch my attention back onto the racing for a couple of weeks.

Ofcourse, this is perfect timing for Cheltenham, so I’m about to re-absorb myself in the racing 2 weeks before the most important 4 days of the year.
Consequently, I’ve been thinking about how I should handle the tipping for Cheltenham.

My original plan was just to deal with each of the Cheltenham days, in the same way that I’ve dealt with all of the big race days during the past 4 months: so 2/3 tips and a write up.
However, now that I should have a bit more time available, I am now wondering whether I should maybe go a bit further…

I’m considering producing a ‘Cheltenham special’.
This would involve me producing a more detailed preview, covering all of the races on each of the 4 days.
My intention would be to issue this preview the evening before (probably late evening), though I would issue the tips in advance of this (as I do now).

Obviously it would take me a serious amount of time and effort on my behalf to do this (I’d have to work flat out on it for most of the evening), but I would be prepared to do that for the 4 evenings…

However, if I was to do it, I would make a small charge.
I’m thinking of £10 for the 4 days (so comparable with buying the Racing Post for the 4 days).
What I want to know, is how many of you would be prepared to pay £10 for a daily preview on each of the 4 days (along with tips, issued earlier).
I have created a poll opposite, to establish demand and would be grateful if anyone who would be prepared to pay, would indicate the fact using the poll.
I’ve got a number in my head, which I would consider would make it worth my while to put in the extra effort. If that number is reached, I’ll go with the ‘Special’: if it isn’t, I’ll stick with the standard blog postings – it’s up to you !!

I also think that this will give me a feel for whether it would be worth me trying to ramp things up a little next winter. I mentioned a month or so ago, about the prospect of me creating a low cost subscription service next winter. A Cheltenham Special, should I reckon, give me a feel for how many people might be interested in such a service.

Anyway, that’s my suggestion – and I’ll leave it to you all to decide if it is worthwhile.
I’ll keep the poll open until next Sunday evening and then make the decision on which way I go.
I don’t want people to feel under any pressure to go for the proposal – I’m easy either way.
If the decision is to produce the Special, I will post details on how it will work (payment details and when I will produce/issue) next Sunday evening.


26th February - Race reviews

I may be a little bias, but I thought that both of today’s tips ran quite well – considering neither was placed, nor ever really looked that likely to win…!

Pockets Aces was given a strange ride, in so much as he was never put in the race.
He travelled sweetly, in rear, jumping economically.
However, the leaders just seemed to get away from him and he couldn’t peg them back when he was finally asked for an effort.
If it was his first run of the season, I’d feel sure he would come on for it and I’d want to be on him next time. However, as we know only too well, it was his fourth run of the season...!
Despite this, I can’t help but feel he will win a race very soon – probably when the money is down. I’m sure the ability remains and he seems to be demonstrating a level of soundness.
I guess his next run may well be after I’ve finished tipping for the season, but if that is the case, don’t forget him !!

Fiveways also ran a fair race to finish sixth.
He travelled just behind the leaders and although he seemed to keep on coming on and off the bridle, he still looked to have a fair chance turning into the home straight.
However, he was beaten soon after that and could only plod on at the one pace…
Maybe he needs dropping back a little in trip – or maybe he needs a few pounds off his rating.
Either way, whilst I wouldn’t completely dismiss him next time out, I wouldn’t be clambering to back him !

One final footnote:
It was hugely disappointing to see this morning, that Minsk has been ruled out of the Cheltenham festival…
I guess these things happen when you are betting ante-post, but for it to happen the day after I’d tipped him, was particularly galling.
With hindsight, maybe I should have waited 24 hours to make sure everything was OK. However, I did feel there had been an over-reaction to his performance yesterday and I was half expecting a correction today.
Anyway, what is done, is done. I’m just glad I opted to only have 1 point on him !

26th February - Selection rationale

Fontwell 3:00

I don’t suppose that regular readers will be surprised to see me tipping Pocket Aces today (Ciaran certainly wasn’t !).
I have already tipped him 3 times this season, making him the most tipped TVB horse – and tipping him today, has sent him clear of the pursuing pack !
I won’t go into detail on why I think he can win today – if you look through the posts on the previous occasions that I’ve tipped him, you’ll see why I fancy him.
The only issue in my mind with regard to today, was whether I could forgive his last time out run, when pulled up at Fontwell.
In truth, I didn’t find it too difficult to let him off that particular run…
As you may recall, that was the race when Marodima just ran away from the opposition, wining unchallenged by over 50 lengths.
The race was also run over very soft ground and from around half way, it ceased to be a contest.
Up until that point, Pocket Aces had travelled very well – and although he was never going to get near the winner, I had him down as the second best horse in the race.
He was actually pulled up on the run to the last, but I’m pretty sure that was just to save him having a hard race for minimal reward.
Pocket Aces has been given 6 weeks to recover from that run, which should be more than enough. I think he will be better suited by the quicker ground today and he gets to run off a 3lb lower mark.
It’s difficult to be too bullish about his chances bearing in mind what has happened the last 3 times I have tipped ! However, I think he has a really good chance today – and I’m hoping that for the second Sunday in succession, me keeping faith with one of our old favourites, will reap rewards…

1pt win Pocket Aces 10/1

Towcester 4:25

There is a fair bit of guesswork and supposition involved here, but I think Fiveways is worth a small play…
He had some decent bumper form a couple of seasons back, including when finishing runner up in a bumper run at Cheltenham’s October meeting.
Presumably he then had some problems, as he wasn’t sighted for over 2 years, until he made his hurdling debit at Uttoxeter last November.
He was quite well fancied for that race (sent off a 6/1) and he travelled fine until lack of fitness began to tell…
He has subsequently run twice in novice hurdles, over reducing trips. The suggestion with that, is he was running to get himself a reasonable handicap mark.
The mark he has been allocated is 98 – and today he has his first start in a handicap.
As I said, there is a fair bit of guesswork involved here, but there has to be a chance that his handicap mark under-estimates his ability (when he was running his bumpers, he certainly looked like a horse who would ultimately get a much higher rating).
I can see lots of dangers – and potential plot horses in the race. However, if Fiveways is as good as he could be, there are all going to have to go some to beat him.

0.5pt win Fiveways 11/1

Saturday, 25 February 2012

25th February - Race reviews

Despite being subject to significant support, Panjo Bere finished well beaten at Kempton.
His blinkers seemed to light him up and he was quickly at the head of affairs and jumping very big. However, it was soon apparent that he was doing too much in front and he was a spent force half way down the back straight.
To his credit he battled on as best he could – but he ultimately finished well beaten.
There is clearly still some ability there – though harnessing it is going to be a different matter…
The race was won by the hyper progressive Hunt Ball, in really taking fashion. He was recording his fifth win in six starts this season, so it amused me when his owner said that he was now going to ‘lay him out for the festival’ !!
Conventionally, when you lay a horse out, it’s not sighted all season prior to it’s target and is primed just for the big day. Clearly, Anthony Knott has a different view of ‘laying out’ – LOL !!
That said, it would take a brave man to oppose him at the festival (where presumably his target will be the 2m5f novice handicap chase). His jumping was markedly improved under Barry Geraghty today, so if he can handle going left handed – and the undulations of Prestbury Park, he should be a danger to all.

Over at Newcastle, Incentivise ran disappointingly.
Like Panjo Bere, he was prominent from the off – however, whereas Panjo was clearing fences with feet to spare, Incentivise got into the bottom of far too many of them.
I would struggle to take much out of the performance at all – and he is definitely one to steer clear of for the time being…

As I mentioned yesterday, there were some key Triumph hurdle trials run this afternoon and as a result, the ante-post market for the race was shaken up considerably.
I believe there is now some value in Minsk (who was favourite for the race this morning).
Hopefully, you will have all received an email suggesting him as an ante-post bet. The logic for the selection will appear in the ‘Cheltenham Festival’ area of the blog, later this evening…

Friday, 24 February 2012

25th February - Selection rationale

Tomorrow provides a relatively quiet afternoon’s racing, for a Saturday. Proof – as if it were needed - that Cheltenham is now just around the corner…
Realistically, tomorrow is the final day, when any of the horses with real Cheltenham aspirations, are likely to run prior to the start of the festival…

There is a smattering of Cheltenham possibles competing in the various races at Kempton. Most notably in the first race on the card – the Adonis juvenile hurdle. A shake up in the Triumph hurdle market could well follow the conclusion of that race.

That’s assuming that market has not been turned on it’s head 5 minutes earlier, when the incredibly well touted Minsk, makes his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse.
His is already vying for Triumph hurdle favouritism – and he hasn’t yet jumped a hurdle in public ! Assuming he shows himself proficient in that department, he could be a silly price for the big race by tomorrow evening – and that is regardless of what happens at Kempton…

The high-light of the Kempton card is the Racing Plus (formerly Racing Post) chase.
Planet of Sound looks rock solid in this to me – so much so, that I was half tempted to tip him, even at 4/1 !
If he drifts to 5/1 tomorrow morning, you can expect another email ;)

However, as things stand, I’ve just gone for the 2 tips tomorrow: 1 at Kempton and 1 at Newcastle.
I know that the various other distractions I have at the moment, mean that I’m currently not at the top of my game – so a cautious approach seems most sensible.
That said, I think both have a decent chance tomorrow – particularly Panjo Bere, who I do think is way over-priced…

So, onto the cases for the days selections…

Kempton 2:30

It’s an interesting thought, that if this race had been run when I started my blogging in November, Panjo Bere would have had to give Hunt Ball just under 5 stone ! (69lb to be precise) – tomorrow, Hunt Ball will be giving Panjo Bere 7lb
I appreciate that horses are improving/regressing all of the time – but that is some weight turnaround !
Clearly Hunt Ball was ridiculously well handicapped when he embarked on his chasing career off a mark of just 69 – but eventually the handicapper will catch up with him and running tomorrow off a mark of 127, could be the day…
Panjo Bere appears to be on the decline but as his run at Kempton over Christmas demonstrated, his decline might not be quite as rapid as the handicapper seems to think…
He ran well that day, to finish fourth to Fruity O’Rooney, over a 3 mile trip, which probably stretched his stamina. Next time out, he made no show at Newbury – but that was again over 3 miles and also on a big left handed track, where all of Panjo Bere’s best form has been on tighter right handed tracks.
Panjo Bere gets to run tomorrow off mark 9lb lower than he ran off over the Christmas period – and it strikes me that the official handicapper is taking a bit of a risk with that assessment.
So too were the bookmakers who put him in at 20/1 and 16/1 when they priced up the race earlier this evening.
It is not an overly competitive affair and Panjo Bere has a definite chance – he was no 20/1 shot, that’s for sure !!
I did ponder for a little while, over how best to stake him. Each way would have been the call – but with just 8 runners and one of them a possible NR, I decided to go win only with the majority – with just a place saver. I have to admit that I considered having more on him because of the ‘value’ element. However, I was in a similar position a couple of times during the cold snap (with Plein Pouvoir and Numide) and with hindsight, I figured that I had probably over-staked those 2 horses (even though neither actually got to run !).
The bottom line is, that if Panjo Bere wins tomorrow, I’ll be happy with 20 points profit. Anything more than that would just be greedy ;)

1pt win 0.5pt place Panjo Bere 20/1

Newcastle 3:25

I tipped Incentivise when he ran at Exeter early in December.
I was pretty sweet on him that day, based on a promising come back run at Bangor, the previous month. However he ran disappointingly at Exeter, appearing to find 4 miles under a burden of 11st7lb, just too much.
He followed that run with another disappointing run at Bangor – again under a big weight – and he’s not been seen since…
My hope is that he’s been absent from the course for over 2 months, because something was not quite right with him.
Certainly based on last seasons form – and his first run of this campaign – he should have performed better than he did in his last 2 outings.
On the plus side, the disappointing performances have seen his rating drop by 7lb from his seasonal debut – and yet he was competitive in that race.
The extreme trip and ground should pose no problem to him tomorrow – and it is nice to see him carrying a lower weight (10st 7lb).
It also strikes me as significant that Richard Lee sends up just the one horse from his Herefordshire base – and that Charlie Poste also travels all that way, for just the one ride.
If Incentivise is back to last season’s form – or even the form he showed first time out this season – then I can see him going very close tomorrow, at what is a very decent price…

1pt win Incentivise 14/1

Thursday, 23 February 2012

23rd February - Race review

Charming Lad ran very poorly this afternoon.
He was being niggled after a few fences and gradually dropped to the rear, before finally being pulled up four fences from home. Conditions should have been fine for him and he has clearly gone backwards since his seasonal debut. He couldn’t be followed in the immediate future…

I was actually quite surprised to see him run so poorly. Having been weak in the market for most of the day, he developed significant strength in the key minutes before the off and was sent off a very tight 7/1 shot.
In fairness, that was due in part to the weakness of the favourite, Ballyoliver, who drifted from an early 6/4, to 9/4 at the off (and bigger on BF).

In that respect, I read the race correctly last night. I was keen to take of a falsely short priced favourite – I just chose the wrong horse to do it with…

There won’t be any tips tomorrow (though I will send an email to confirm this). Nothing jumps out at me at either Warwick or Sandown and whilst I continue to struggle for time, I want to keep things as low key as possible.
I’ll make sure I find some time tomorrow evening though, so normal service should be resumed on Saturday ;)


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

23rd February - Selection rationale

I like to think that TVB selections can come in a variety of shapes and sizes…
Whilst some are quite predictable, others definitely appear from left of field – and I think that Charming Lad falls into the latter category…

The case for Charming Lad, has 2 components to it: firstly, a need to oppose a falsely priced favourite; and secondly a desire to follow a potentially strong form line…

Dealing with the reasons on the sequence specified:
I can fully understand why Ballyoliver is favourite for tomorrow’s race.
He ran really well in a similar race at Ay, just last week. In that race, he arrived on the scene, 4 fences from home, apparently cantering. And whilst he didn’t quite manage to get home in front, he lost little in defeat, finishing second, just 5 lengths off the winner.
However, on the flip side: he had a hard race that day – which he didn’t even win and this looks a slightly tougher contest. More importantly, his last time out run has been missed by no-one and consequently he has been installed as a 7/4  fav for tomorrow’s race. I could maybe have him as favourite – though I can see vulnerabilities – and simply, 7/4 is too short…

I always think that it pays to identify ‘strong’ races and follow runners who perform with credit in them.
Charming Lad made his seasonal debut in a novice handicap chase at Newbury on New years eve. The race looked strong before hand – and the form has subsequently received a few boosts from the runners who competed in it. Toby Belch finished just in front of Charming Lad that day and he was subsequently backed off the boards, before finishing runner up at Leicester; whilst Ring Bo Ree, was just ahead of Charming Lad when he fell at the second last fence, he has subsequently won at Southwell…
Charming Lad himself, was well backed for the Newbury race, considering it was his chasing debut and he hadn’t set foot on a racecourse for 9 months.
He also ran pretty well, disputing the lead until tiring up the home straight, he has been dropped 2lb for that run – and I would expect it to have brought him on.
As a hurdler, Charming Lad had also shown some decent form. Particularly when runner up to the now 125 rated Mister Hyde. Invictus finished back in fourth that day, and he is now fourth favourite for the RSA chase at the Cheltenham festival.

In summary, Charming Lad is an unexposed chaser, who has already shown glimmers of potential – and who I think is ready to step his form up to a higher level.
The opposition isn’t weak, but it is headed by a horse who is arguably a falsely short price and as a result of this, there is value elsewhere.
Charming Lad cannot be considered a rock solid selection – but I do think he is a very interesting one – and one whom I believe has a live chance at a very attractive price ..!     

1pt win Charming Lad 12/1

22nd February - Race review

Nikola ran a perfectly respectable race this afternoon, but just found Faasel on one of his going days.
That was always a possibility – and with the benefit of hindsight, a half point saver on Faasel would probably have been a sensible call (maybe I should leave the staking to Ciaran ;) )
Nikola was actually caught close home by Atouchbetweenacara, so in a way, I’m glad Faasel was in the race !

Looking to the future, then I suspect that Nikola can win again of this mark – though probably when the Twiston Davis stable is in better form…
Hopefully Atouchbetwenacara will be put away for a couple of months now – though even if that does happen, any future prices may well have been spoilt by him putting in a couple of decent runs over the past week.
Apparently Faasel is again going to be aimed at the Kim Muir at the Festival. He’s finished runner up in the race twice before, and I wouldn’t overly keen on betting against him doing it for a third time (I think it is more likely than him going one place better !!)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

22nd February - Selection rationale

I guess non of my regular followers will have been too surprised to see me tipping in the 3:30 race at Doncaster tomorrow, as it features a couple of the blogs favourites, in Mark the Book and Atouchbetweenacara.
What might have come as more of a surprise, is to see me tipping against them both…

I’ve mentioned in the past, how important it is to get a thorough understanding of the horses you are backing. This enables you follow them when conditions are right - but it also enables you to oppose them when conditions are unsuitable…

Now, I’m not saying that either Mark the Book or Atouchbetwenacara can’t win tomorrow – they have been put in as first and second favourites, at 11/4 and 4/1 respectively.
However, I do know that conditions won’t be perfect for either one – so at those kind of odds, you have to look to oppose them…

I would be keenest to oppose Mark the Book. He has a handicap rating that I’m sure he can be competitive off – but 3 miles on relatively quick ground, is not his optimum conditions. If this race was being run in the mud at Chepstow, I’d be all over him – but he doesn’t want a speed test, and that is what this race could end up as…

The ground is a positive for Atouchbetweenacara, but there are 2 issues with him: firstly, the 3 mile trip (I think his optimum trip is 2m6f) and secondly the fact he ran just 5 days ago (and I think he is best fresh).

If you take these 2 out of the equation (and at the available odds, I think you have to), you are looking at a very winnable race.
In fact, there are only 2 runners that I’m interested in: Faasel and Nikola.

There can be little doubt that Faasel has the natural ability to win this – and comfortably.
He was second in a couple of very big handicap chases on his final l2 outings of last season – and off pretty much the same mark he runs off tomorrow.
However, he finished last on his seasonal appearance – and his inconsistency is one of his issues. The other is, that he has a nasty habit of finding one too good.
If he wins tomorrow, it will be because he outclasses the opposition. That is not impossible – and I’ve had a saver on him just in case – but he could not be a solid selection.

Much more solid is Nikola.
He actually won a very similar chase off just a pound higher mark on his seasonal debut. He also ran very well at Cheltenham on new years day, on his penultimate appearance. He should really have gone very close that day, but his jockey went for home too soon and he ran out of steam over the final couple of fences.
He gets to run off a 5lb lower mark tomorrow, which is very generous. It is helped by the fact that he ran very disappointingly last time out – and for no obvious reason – sp you have to be prepared to forgive that run…
The other big issue with Nikola, is the form of his stable. The Twiston Davis yard tends to run hot or cold – and it is definitely going through a cold spell at the moment.
Consequently, I’ve held back on the staking of Nikola. If he could be guaranteed to run to the level of form he showed either first time out of at Cheltenham, then he would be a much stronger bet.
However, with a slight doubt about his form; a bigger doubt about his stable form and the possibility that Faasel might bring his ‘A’ game to party, he ends up as just a single point bet.
Let’s hope I’m regretting my conservatism at 3:45 tomorrow ;)

1pt win Nikola 8/1

Sunday, 19 February 2012

19th February - Race review

I have to admit that I got a lot of pleasure from today’s victory by Lucky Landing.
In fact, I would go so far as to say, Fiendish Flame aside, it meant more to me than any of the other TVB winners…

I guess the reasons for this are obvious – it is down to the attachment that I mentioned in my reply to yesterday’s comment from Oasisdreamer.
I latched on to Lucky Landing 4 runs ago. I felt he was one of the best bets I’ve put up, when he ran at Towcester in December;
That run was particularly disappointing but I was able to rationalise it and leave him alone until circumstances dictated that he was worth following again.
I thought that was today – and so it proved. I could have staked him higher – but that would have been a little reckless, as there was still a risk involved.

The main reason I tip – in fact the main reason I bet – is because I love to try and unravel a complex puzzle.
Lucky Landing was as complex a puzzle as you get – and to successfully figure him out gave me a great deal of satisfaction (and a few extra quid ;) ).

In the race itself, he travelled with his normal verve, jumping economically.
The acid test was always going to be what happened when he got put under pressure.
That happened after he had made his only mistake of the race, at the fifth last fence.
I thought for a moment that he maybe wasn’t going to find for pressure – but it was clear in a few strides that he was over whatever has been ailing him.
He put in a big leap at the fourth last and the race was effectively over.
It was particularly heartening to see him just lengthen away from the opposition, winning by the kind of distance you’ve come to expect from a TVB tip ;)

I have little doubt that Lucky Landing could win again off a higher mark.
It is difficult to know precisely how much higher, but I would suggest that he had at least a stone in hand today. I would have thought it unlikely that he will be raised by much more than 7lb for today’s victory, so he has to remain on the list of horses to follow.
I would also be interested to see him over a little further – he certainly wasn’t stopping today.

One interesting footnote from the race was that there was no mention of a breathing operation in the RP review of the race.
If that is the case, then Tony Coyle must be a heck of a trainer. He has managed to take a cast off from one of the countries biggest (and most progressive) stables and turn it around in the space of a month.
Definitely a name to keep an eye on, I think…

19th February - Selection rationale

Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that I thought long and hard before putting up Lucky Landing today…

He is a horse that I have already tipped twice – and he has let us down on both occasions.
However, on both occasions he travelled like a horse much better than his rating – and traded around even money IR, before finding nothing when put under pressure.

My theory on the horse (unsubstantiated, I might add !) is that he has had breathing difficulties. This was supported by the fact that he wore a tongue tie on his final 2 starts for Donald McCain.
His last run for McCain was in January and he next appeared in a ‘bumpers for jumpers’ race at Southwell last weekend, this time representing the Tony Coyle stable.
It was interesting to see that the tongue tie was no longer in place – suggesting that his new trainer either didn’t think there was a need – or that corrective surgery had taken place in the interim...
In the race itself, Lucky Landing again travelled well – but was passed as the runners entered the home straight. I am reasonably confident that the ‘old’ Lucky Landing would have just weakened at that point – however, the new’ Lucky Landing proceeded to battle back and briefly looked like he might get up.
The problem is, it is impossible to know what that form is worth. It looked a very weak bumper so the form could amount to very little.
However, the important thing for me, was that Lucky Landing didn’t simply capitulate when asked for an effort, as he has done in the past.
I have no doubt that he is well handicapped and has more than enough ability to win a race like today’s -  provided he has no physical issues,.

On balance, I figured it was worth taking a small risk that his problems have been resolved. If they have, I think he can win – and 10/1 will then seem like a very good price indeed !!

1pt win Lucky Landing 10/1

Saturday, 18 February 2012

18th February - Race reviews

Another disappointing day, where the only consolation was that I didn’t tip more horses – or stake more on the ones I did tip !!

Just a few words on the performance of each:

Handy Andy ran a nothing sort of race: mid-division at best and weakening up the home straight.
He clearly isn’t as good as I initially thought and he is one to remove from any lists, until his rating plummets or he is put back over fences (which I’m sure he will be, in the fullness of time).

Atouchbetweenacara ran very well.
He raced prominently and still looked to be going nicely turning into the home straight. Unfortunately, his jumping let him down a little over the last few fences and he could only finish fourth.
If he gets his ideal conditions next time out (as described this morning) – he will win !
The question is whether connections will be patient enough to leave him for a couple of months and target a lower grade handicap on quicker ground. Only time will tell…
Carrickmines also ran a fair race.
He was held up at the back, but made good headway on the home turn. However his effort flattened out at that point and he could only plug on to finish eight.
He will be dropped a few pounds for this and is not one to give up on completely…

Over at Ascot, Little Josh ran very poorly in the Ascot chase, eventually pulling up.
He did lead the field for the first few fences, but was soon caught and overtaken by the rest of the field.
He should have run better than he did, suggesting that he either ’bounced’ following his Cheltenham run, or that he didn’t like going right handed.

Finally, Eastlake was the subject of one of my trademark plunges (possibily helped a little by Tom Segal). He tanked through the race (as he had done in the Lanzarote) and was still looking good approaching the home turn.
However, his early exertions had clearly taken their toll and he weakened badly up the straight, ultimately finishing well beaten.
I’m not sure what the plans are for him, but it looks to me as if he needs a fast run 2 miles. If he can get into the race, I would have thought that the county hurdle at the festival would be ideal. I’ll be keeping my eye on him…

18th February - Selection rationale

The volume and quality of horses running today is quite scary !
It has come about as a result of the recent cold snap, which has prevented a lot of horses from running for a few weeks; and the fact that we are now just under a month from the start of the Cheltenham festival.
Anything that harbours Cheltenham ambitions, and required a run prior to the festival, needs to be getting it in sharpish !
In order to find a winner, is therefore going to be important to identify the horses that are fit - and that aren’t being prepped for Cheltenham.
If you can find the right sub-set of runners, then the chances of hitting on a winner, are greatly improved.
Hopefully my selections for the day, all fall into that category…

Ascot 3:00

This is quite a weak race for a grade 1, with Riverside Theatre top rated at 165.
Furthermore, there are question marks over him (he’s not run since winning this race last year). He is unlikley to be founding wanting for fitness, but he does look beatable…
Second favourite is Kauto Stone and although very inexperienced, he has looked good on what we have seen of him so far. I’ll be surprised if he finishes out of the frame..
However, for the selection, I’ve opted for Little Josh.
He is lightly raced for a 10 year old but has shown a good level of form: most notably when winning last seasons Paddy Power chase.
That win saw his rating rise to 155 – just 10lb shy of Riverside Theatre – and, despite his age, I believe he still has scope to improve a little further…
Little Josh has only run 3 times since his Paddy Power victory and has been well beaten on each occasion.
However, last time out – on his seasonal debut for this campaign – he ran a cracker in the Cotswold chase at Cheltenham’s January meeting.
Over the 3m2f trip, he was going as well as anything until at the top of the hill.
He faded from that point – but he has never been a 3mile horse – and there is the possibility that he needed the run anyway (his first for a year).
If that has brought him on, they I can see him being very competitive back over this more suitable trip.
He may not quite have the class to win – but I could definitely see him getting a place – and if the favourites do under-perform, any thing is possible…

0.5pt EW Little Josh 20/1

Ascot 3:35

I don’t generally like tipping in these ultra-competitive handicaps – but I’m prepared to make an exception with this one…
Eastlake was a massive eye-catcher last time out in the Lanzarote hurdle at Kempton (it would appear that even Tom Segal noticed him ;) ). Coming round the home turn, he was absolutely cruising – but he emptied up the straight and eventually finished well beaten.
That was his first run in a big field handicap and I’m sure he will have learnt plenty from it. However, the way he travelled through the race suggested that he is well up to wining both in this grade –and off his current mark.
Today he gets to run over a couple of furlongs less, which I’m sure will help. His handicap mark was unchanged following the Lanzarote, which seems him get in today off 10st. Jonjo has also chosen to put up crack apprentice Maurice Linehan, which strikes me as hugely significant.
This guy is well worth his 7lb claim and I think this is the point in the season when the Jonjo stable will start to properly exploit it,
Obviously there is a danger, not just because of his profile – but also because of his connections, that he won’t perform today, so the bet has to be win only.
However, if he does perform, I get the feeling that he will go very close indeed…

1pt win Eastleak 16/1

Wincanton 2:00

This is a risky bet - but it has been stake accordingly…
I am tipping Handy Andy simply because I still believe that he is significantly better than his current handicap mark.
We were on him last time out, when he ran disappointingly at Warwick.
He seemed to race a little too freely that day – and just didn’t get home.
He has been dropped a couple of pounds in the handicap as a result of that run – and also has stable apprentice Steven Clements on today, reducing his weight by a further 7lb.
However, more importantly he is being dropped back in trip by 3 furlongs. That should help if he is again free today – and it is also closer to the distance over which he was spectacularly successful on his debut last season.
There is a real chance that he might bomb again today – but at the odds available, I think it is worth a small risk that he class he appeared to demonstrate last season, is still in tact…

0.5pt win Handy Andy 22/1

Wincanton 2:35

When I do stop tipping, after Cheltenham, I intend to have a final post, listing the horses that have provided us with most entertainment over the period…
Of course Fiendish Flame will be in there – but so too will Plein Pouvoir – and Atouchbetweenacara…
I think today is the third time I will have tipped him – and he’s not got within 40 lengths of the winner of the previous 2 occasions !!
However, last time in particular, he showed that the ability is still there – it just needs to be harnessed.
The fact is, that at his peak, Atouchbetweenacara would have carried this field. He was rated 148 just over 2 years ago – on the back of  a 24 length with of a mark of 129..
Today he is running off a mark of 117 – and has a 7lb claimer on board. That is a near 40lb drop (including a bit of artistic licence !) in a 24 month period…
Ofcourse, a drop in the weight is warranted to an extent – but I just get the feeling that this one has slipped a bit too far…
He is a 1 point tip today because conditions are not absolutely perfect (I would like to see him carrying top weight in a class 4 race, on good ground and after a 2 month break) – however, they are not too bad (aside from the race class) and I do like the fact that the blinkers, which were experimented with last time out, have been dispensed with today.
Hopefully he can bounce back to form today and make a mockery of his current rating…
If not, then maybe Carrickmines can capitalise…
He has never been as highly rated as Atouchbetwenacara, but he is still a fair tool – and was in good form over hurdles, earlier in the season.
He is back over fences today – but off a mark only 2lb higher than his last winning mark (when he absolutely bolted up at Kempton).
The trip may be a little on the short side for him – but he is a strong traveller, so I don’t think he will be done for toe.
It is a slight concern that he bled last time out – but hopefully there will be no repeat of that today.
Assuming that is the case, then he looks too big a price at 20/1…

1pt win Atouchbetweenacara 8/1
0.5pt win Carrickmines 20/1

Friday, 17 February 2012

17th February - Race reviews

I think today has to go down as a poor performance on my behalf…
If I’m honest, I probably shouldn’t have tipped: however, I’d opted out of the previous day and there was some very good racing.
Unfortunately, I really struggled to find any time for form study last night – and I think it showed.
In fairness, I don’t always need a lot of time for form study – a lot of knowledge is kept in my head. However, I do need time/space to properly assess races and I didn’t really have that last night.
I’ll try to avoid a repeat !!!

A few quick words on the performances of the 3 tips:

Whilst I quite enjoyed watching Zaynar school round in the first – though I would have been happier if I’d not had to pay for the pleasure !
For the second time this week, a horse who has made the running in all of it’s recent races, was allowed to lob along close to a soft pace.
In truth, he probably wouldn’t have got near Sprinter Sacre, regardless of how he was ridden – but it would have been nice to have at least had a chance.
Presumably Zaynar will now head for Cheltenham and one of the 2m4f races – either the Jewson or possibly, one of the handicaps. Either way, I suspect you will see him ridden far more aggressively.
Sprinter Sacre does look as if he will be tough to beat  in the Arkle – but I’m not sure we learnt a lot more about him today. The demands of Cheltenham should play more to the strengths of Peddlers Cross – and I certainly haven’t given up hope for him in that race.

I was very disappointed with the run of Sound Stage at Sandown.
I felt he was probably my best bet of the day – but he was beaten a long way out.
There is a chance that he doesn’t get the 3 mile trip – but that said, I’m not sure he was ever going well enough to feature at the finish.
He has been very lightly raced over the past couple of years – with some significant absences. The suggestion is that he has had some issues and maybe these are going to stop him fulfilling his potential.
Whatever, he is a horse I would struggle to follow until I saw some more positive signs…

Finally, Stow ran a reasonable race to finish fifth at Newbury – but he was well beaten by some progressive rivals.
In truth, that was always a danger and I can’t really have any complaints about the way he ran.
It looks as if he needs softer ground to be at his most effective – plus slightly weaker opposition.
He is worth keeping an eye out for in the right conditions – and in a slightly lower grade of race.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

17th February - Selection rationale

I’ve been a little short of time today and am desperately trying to catch up on a few things (hence the very late post !) – so the logic for tomorrow’s tips, will be a little less comprehensive than normal.
I’ve also latched on to a few of our old friends for the tips – though only one of them has actually been a previous TVB tip.
In truth, the racing tomorrow is fiercely competitive. This is primarily due to the re-scheduling of last weekends abandoned Newbury card (plus the Scilly Isles novice chase, carried over from the Sandown card that was abandoned the weekend before).
The advantage of that however, was that for once, I was able to tip mid-week and not see blue appear all over odds checker within 5 minutes of me issuing !
Consequently, I would be optimistic that you will all have got the prices on tomorrows selections – so all they’ve got to do now, is win !!

Newbury 2:10

I’m going out on a limb a little here, by opposing Sprinter Sacre – but I think there is good reason to do so…
He is undoubtedly a hugely talented horse and is unbeaten over fences – but he has faced precisely 7 rivals in his 2 chases – and only one of those had any pretence to being of his calibre.
When he made his fencing debut at Doncaster, he was spectacular – but he also struck me as a little chancy. I admit that I didn’t feel the same way about him second time out at Kempton – but that nagging doubt concerning his jumping – especially if put under pressure – remains.
He made well turn out to be the real deal – but as he is also not likely to be 100% tomorrow, I think he is worth taking on at odds of 4/7…
Hold Fast, French Opera and Oh So Lucky are all decent animals - but they have limitations and it will be a little disappointing if any are good enough to win (though far from impossible !).
The really interesting one, is Zaynar…
This horse was good enough – and quick enough – to finish third in the Champion hurdle a couple of seasons back, so it is difficult to argue that he doesn’t have either the class or speed to take this race (unless Sprinter Sacre really is from the top drawer).
He was disappointing last season, when stepped up in distance over hurdles – but has gradually been coming back into form this season over fences, for new trainer Nick Williams…
He was spectacular on his penultimate outing at Ascot, when destroying a very decent field of novice chaser with a bold display of front running.
He tried to repeat the dose with seasoned handicappers next time out and whilst he wasn’t successful, he lost nothing in defeat – and doubtless gained some very valuable experience.
I suspect that he will be ridden aggressively tomorrow, to enable his undoubted stamina to come into play.
If he can get into a rhythm up front, then with his proven class, I think he will take some catching.
Coincidently, that will also be the time when we will also learn just how good our investment on Peddlers Cross for the Arkle, is !!

1pt win Zaynar 9/1

Newbury 2:25

I shouldn’t need to write a lot about Stow…
We’ve been on him the last twice he has run: the first of those races was at Chepstow, when he was the subject of an almighty plunge, but was beaten after about 2 hurdles!; the second was at Haydock, where he ran a cracking race, but was beaten by the ultra tough, Reindeer Dippin.
That second run was very good indeed. Reindeer Dippin was a well handicapped horse that day and Stow was the only runner that ever looked likely to beat him.
He has been raised just a pound for that performance and the blinkers that were first tried that day, are retained tomorrow.  
He actually won this very race 12 months ago and whilst he is running off a 4lb higher mark tomorrow, I can see no reason why he shouldn’t again go very close…
The biggest issue is probably the quality of the opposition. I say ‘probably’ because we can’t be absolutely sure. However, there are 3 very progressive novices running in the race and it would be no surprise if at least one of them didn’t prove to be a step ahead of the handicapper.
That said, all 3 have to give Stow the best part of a stone – or more – and they have all been priced up at around half his odds.
With their abilities still unproven to a degree – but the market assuming the ability is there – the value call has to be a small play on Stow.

0.5pt win Stow 10/1

Sandown 2:10

I may have moved away from Newbury for the final tip of the day – but the race is just as tricky to solve…
That said, Sound Stage was horse that really caught my eye last time out – and I’m sure he is well handicapped, so he was always likely to be a tip…
Sound Stage first came to my attention when he finished runner up to Midnight Chase at Cheltenham, almost 2 years ago. He’s only run twice over fences since then: firstly when beaten by Buffalo Bob at Newbury early last season; and secondly when falling at the last in the race won by Glenns Boy, also at Newbury, last month.
Considering that was his first chase run for over a year, Sound Stage ran really well that day, travelling strongly until he weakened down the home straight.
Hopefully that run will have brought him to peak fitness (and the fall won’t have negatively affected his confidence) in which case, I think he has to go very close tomorrow.
There are plenty of potential dangers in the race, headed by the now Paul Nichools trained Martys Mission. He has the natural ability to be a big danger of a mark of just 113. However, he has been absent from the racecourse for over 12 months.
Loch Ba, Minella Theatre and Richards Sundance should all go well, but I’ve felt for a while that Sound Stage has the ability to be much better than a 125 rated animal – and hopefully tomorrow, he’ll prove that point.

0.75pt EW Sound Stage 16/1

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

15th February - Race review

I have to say that I found today’s race a little frustrating to watch…
Quite why Alex Merriam didn’t grasp the nettle on Evella, when she has led in virtually all of her previous chases – and when there was no other front runner in the race – I simply don’t know…
Instead, he seemed happy to lob along side Paddy Brennan on Ring Bo Ree. I don’t even think that Brennan particularly wanted to be in the lead – but what do you do if you are gifted an uncontested one ?!
I did think briefly, that the tactics were maybe to sit in behind the leader down the back straight, where apparently there was a strong wind. But no, the tactics there were to race a couple of horse widths wide – and half a length down…
Maybe not too surprisingly, having not raced in her preferred style – and having given ground away all the way round, Evella started to fade after the fourth last fence.
In truth, she was eventually pulled up, so the tactics may have been irrelevant – but they were irritating non-the-less !!

Still, we also had Nataani in the race – and despite making a few early mistakes, he travelled nicely in third, rounding the home turn.
However, Paddy Brennan had ridden a canny race from the front and despite Ring Bo Ree making a complete mess of the final fence (a far worse than the mistake that saw Charingworth exit yesterday) he has sufficient in reserve to withstand Nataani’s late, persistent challenge…

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

15th February - Selection rationale

There were a few reasons why I started this blog, but one of them was in order to get into dialogue with others about race horses…
I try to write in an open, positive fashion to encourage this to happen – but for whatever reason, it hadn’t really – not until I decided to send out the tips via email, that is…
That move forced a lot of you to contact me – and some of you to open up a little more. That manifested itself in more comments on the blog – and some interesting exchanges with a few of you.
One such exchange got us our ante-post tip for the RSA chase, First Lieutenant (thanks for that Kevin) and another, caused me to keep a closer eye on a horse called Evella…

Evella last ran in the now infamous Toby Belch race at Leicester.
As I’m sure a lot of you will recall, I tipped Toby Belch at 14/1 – and he promptly went off 11/4 favourite !
One of our number (I’ll call him Sean – because that is his name –  LOL !) was keen that I kept an eye on Evella in that race.
I was happy to do so, as she is a horse I know quite well from the past.
I didn’t expect her to run particularly well that day, as she seemed way out of form – and I felt she needed softer ground than she was going to get. However, I was wrong…

Evella ran a cracking race that day, leading to the third last – and even when passed by the eventual winner, she still looked like the second best horse in the race.
However, she weakened dramatically after the third last fence and eventually finished seventh, beaten 85 lengths.
As a result of that, she has been dropped 6lb in the handicap. She is also dropping back in trip by half a mile – which considering how well she was going on the home turn at Leicester, can only be considered a good thing.
I think there is also a possibility that she needed the Leicester run, as it was only her second run back after 9 months off the track.
However, the icing on the cake with Evella – and this is what makes her a particularly good bet tomorrow – is that she is the only front runner in the race.
Better than that, there isn’t even another horse in the race that is particularly bothered about racing prominently.
This should mean that she has an uncontested lead – and a well handicapped horse, running into form, with an uncontested lead, is a dangerous beast ! Trust me on that one !!

The reason I’ve ‘only’ had 1.5 points on her, is because the opposition is a bit stronger than I would have liked (I refer you back to the blog post from Sunday, on staking).

In fact, so much so, that I want a saver on one of her rivals !!
That horse is Nataani, who ran really well on his chasing debut last time out.
Bizarrely (and I do mean bizarrely) he has been dropped 8lb for that run – which makes him a huge danger.
I can see Evella leading all the way – but with one horse making relentless inroads into her lead during the last half mile.
That horse is Nataani – though whether he actually gets to her is a different matter.
I figured it was worth investing half a point on him just in case though  ;)
I guess the really brave amongst you might consider a forecast – I’ve dabbled for the tiniest stake B365 would allow.
That said, I will be happy enough if either of them come home in fornt – though particularly so if it is Evella…

1.5pt win Evella 16/1
0.5pt win Nataani 8/1