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It has been a busy year for us again in the Antepost stakes, and once again we have got ourselves some cracking-looking positions. Below are the most recent emails that have been sent, and a full breakdown of the bets that we still have running for us.
Current Live Bets
See Further down for individual emails with analysis:
0.5pt – Three Strip Life @ 33/1
0.5pt e/w – Magic Daze @ 33/1
0.5pt e/w – Blue Lord @ 20/1
1pt win – Saint Sam @ 10/1 NRNB
0.5pt e/w – Coeur Sublime @ 16/1 NRNB
0.75pt e/w – Epatante @ 14/1
1pt win – Telmesomethinggirl @ 8/1
0.5pt win – Telmesomethinggirl @ 16/1
1pt win – Stormy Ireland @ 6/1 NRNB
1pt win – Run Wild Fred @ 14/1
1pt win – Adamantly Chosen @ 33/1
0.5pt win – Three Stripe Life @ 40/1
0.5pt win – Constitution Hill @ 12/1
0.5pt win – Mighty Potter @ 28/1 (Double)
0.5pt win – Journey With Me @ 22/1 (Double)
1pt win – Grand Jury @ 20/1 NRNB
Brown Advisory Nov Chase
1pt win – Ahoy Senor @ 20/1 (Double)
0.5pt win – Bravemansgame @ 14/1 (Double)
0.75pt win – Nube Negra @ 16/1
0.75pt win – Chacun Pour Soi @ 8/1 NRNB
1pt win – Chacun Pour Soi (Double) @ 14/1
Turners Novice Chase
1pt win – L’Homme Presse @ 20/1
Pertemps Final H’cap
0.5pt win – Folcano @ 20/1
1.5pt win – Winter Fog @ 6/1 NRNB
1pt win – Allaho @ 12/1 (Double)
1pt win – Fakir D’Oudairies @ 14/1
0.75pt win – Energumene @ 24/1 (Double)
1pt win – Flooring Porter @ 7/1
1.5pt win – Klassical Dream @ 6/1
Mares Novice Hurdle
1pt win – Elle Est Belle @ 16/1
1pt win – Grangee @ 8/1 NRNB
Kim Muir H’Cap Chase
1pt win – Frontal Assault @ 10/1 NRNB
1pt win – Ain’t That A Shame @ 9/1 NRNB
0.75pt win – Champagne Platinum @ 16/1 NRNB
0.5pt win – Porticello @ 40/1 (Double)
1pt Pied Piper to win Triumph @ 11.25/1 (Double)
0.5pt win – Whatdeawant @ 25/1
0.5pt e/w – Grand Jury @ 40/1
1pt win – Elimay @ 8/1
1pt win – Mount Ida @ 7/1
0.75pt e/w – Zambella @ 10/1 NRNB
1.5pt win – Buddy Rich @ 7/1 NRNB
1pw win Embittred @12/1 NRNB
0.75pt win – Jesse Evans @ 33/1 NRNB
1pt win – Does He Know @ 8/1 NRNB
Paddy Power Plate
1pt win – The Glancing Queen @ 8/1 NRNB
0.75pt win – I Like To Move It @ 12/1 NRNB
0.75pt win – The Goffer @ 16/1 NRNB
We also have:
0.5pt win Double – Galopin Des Champs (Turners) & Bravemansgame (Brown Advisory) @ 31/1 accumulative odds
Email Sent 11th March 2022
Part two of the handicaps to get through with days Thursday and Friday. Plenty of interest and races with strong trends.
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
10/10 – Rated 134 or higher (Prior to last year the lowest from previous 9 races was 138)
9/10 – No more than 10 hurdle starts
9/10 – No more than 3 starts at 3m+
10/10 – Aged 8 or younger
18/20 – Beat in their qualifier
Some strong trends with Sire Du Berlais being the exception on both the “No more than 10 hurdle starts” & “No more than 3 starts at 3m+” from his second win in the race in 2020. Even applying these we are reduced to a field of just 4, two that I was particularly interested in, 1 that I have already tipped and a final one that is flying a bit under the radar.
Alaphilippe – Already one that had caught my eye from his qualifying run, making seasonal debut after being off the track for more than 300 days. Travelled really well into a decent looking race before blowing up after the last and fading badly. Sure to have come on a great deal for that run whilst the handicapper has kindly dropped it a couple of pounds also. Was fifth in last years Albert Barlett. Hard to work out what that form is worth considering near enough everything from it has gone chasing, though does give you an idea of the types he was up against. Going through all his form and I just don’t see it for this race. Won the Prestige last year on soft at Haydock though was helped by the 2 length leader coming down 2 out. Just didn’t have the pace to get competitive in the Albert Bartlett, running on past tired horses at the end. It could be about the ground for this horse. All barring his Albert Bartlett run has come on soft or heavy ground and was withdrawn from an engagement at Aintree on account of the good to soft ground so I suspect he wants a good bit of dig. 8/1 and looking ground dependent doesn’t suggest it is one I want to rush and bet.
Winter Fog – Talking horse for the race having been put up by a couple of very shrewd judges in Kevin Blake and then Gavin Lynch in the preview shows. Worried I have missed the boat now as he is a best price 6/1 favourite. Lightly raced under rules with just the five starts, but did run six times in point to points. Rated 138 in Ireland and races off the same mark here. Still, not bad for a horse whose previous trainer and jockey both stated the horse was of “limited ability”. Looks to have a very interesting chance as well. Stayed on well to beat Captain Kangaroo to win a maiden before going on to run 4th in an open hurdle over 2 1/2m, well beat by the useful Lifetime Ambition but never able to get competitive, staying on but beat 31 lengths. Since switched yards and owners so now with the shrewd Emmet Mullins. Entered him straight into a Pertemps qualifier where he travelled well before hitting the front turning for home. Probably paid to be ahead of all the trouble and crowding turning in as never suffered any interference, but then the horse seemed to idle once hitting the front and didn’t do much there, getting run down for the win. Was gambled down that day from 22/1 into 8/1 on course so clearly the horse was expected to perform which it duly did so they must think he has something in hand with the handicapper. Races here off 138 after the Irish handicapper put him on 131 doesn’t make it easy. But, the horse goes well fresh, looks to have been saved for this and meets his victor on 4lb better terms. Ran in a qualifier that 6 of the last 7 Irish winners of this had previously run in that season. Only concern I would have is whether he truly stays this trip. We are also basing his ability and handicap rating on that one performance.
Folcano – A horse I had already tipped for the Pertemps at 20/1 after his 6th place finish in a qualifier at Punchestown back in November. Caught the eye there held up out the back and ridden to ensure that he qualified for this. Disappointed on next start though when running a race sponsored by the owners of this horse. However, put that behind him when a creditable 4th over shorter when wearing first time blinkers, hitting the front before getting swamped at the end. Interesting to note that horses have a good record in this wearing headgear whilst it would be even more notable if a tongue tie is applied, like the last six winners of the race have worn. Three quick runs then a rest is often a favoured tactic by Gordon Elliott so the absence doesn’t concern me. What is more a worry to me is the horses poor win rate with just the sole victory at 4/9 in 9 starts over hurdles, three times a beaten favourite. Does he truly stay as well? His record over 3m actually reads 069 which is a little disconcerting. However, he is a best price 12/1 now, we have a value price and he has wound up on my trends shortlist. I am happy with that position.
Coeur Serein – Sneaky one here at a big price for a yard who actually boast the most winners of this race, with Jonjo O’Neill having trained the first past the post four times in his career, though only once in the last 17 years! It still means he knows what it takes. Would suggest there has been a change of plan with the horse having began with a creditable 4th in a grade 2, outpaced in the Persian War when still eligible. Then went chasing, but got off to a bad start, falling on debut when looking likely to win. Seemed to lose a bit of confidence after that as was beaten twice since in novice chases. That was when they decided to switch back to hurdles, running in a qualifier at Exeter and finishing 2nd in bad conditions just finding an in-form and well handicapped mare too good. Record over hurdles at 3m reads 112 and races off the same rating as there. He has a chance without looking like he is thrown in off his mark. To me he is a bit like Gumball in the Grand Annual. Not one that I want to be taking a price about now as don’t see him shortening much, but could be a bit of value the night before at a big price and with several more places available.
As a summary, we are already on Folcano, Alaphilippe is ground dependent so would rather wait till we know what conditions will be like. Coeur Serein looks to have an each way chance at a big price but would rather wait till can get two or three more places than is available now. Winter Fog is the current favourite but does look a well handicapped horse who like I said has been put up by some shrewd judges. As a horse who fits some strong trends it would be folly of me to ignore those facts. Plenty of people will tell you to wait on these types of selections now as they can’t get any shorter. Don’t believe them! The Bosses Oscar started favourite last year at 100/30, admittedly there was 11/2 joint favourites in 2020 but in 2019 Sire Du Berlais won at 4/1. I’m happy to take 6/1 NRNB on a horse if I think it will go off favourite around 7/2 – 4/1. If you bet with Bet365 you also get best odds guaranteed so even if it was to take a drift then you get the bigger price if it won. Doesn’t happen that often at the shorter prices though Sky Pirate was a famous one last year that took a walk in the market yet still won.
1.5pt win – Winter Fog @ 6/1 Bet365 NRNB
Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase
8/8 – Rated 140 or higher
16/17 – 12 or fewer chase starts
25/26 – Carried 11st 4lb or less
15/17 – Ran in the New Year
19/20 – Won over 2m 3f – 2m 5f
Taking the above trends into consideration it still leaves me with a fairly long shortlist of horses. However, the last 6 years have shown there to be a significant type of horse that is winning this race and that is likely to continue after the removal of the novice handicap chase run over this trip which was replaced by the mares chase. Therefore, just looking at the last 6 years you can pull out these trends with all the winners:
First or 2nd season Chasing
Contested a graded novice hurdle or novice chase
Won that season
This leaves me with a manageable 7. The things is, we are looking for a specific type. A lightly raced progressive type who has shown abilities in the past but just not up to the top level. Winners do tend to have the ability to go on and be competitive at graded level so this needs to be considered as well.
Busselton – Looks like he is a horse well-in in theory getting to race off a mark of 143 though I have also seen marks of 145 and 147 for the horse. Either way the 143 is 6lb above what the Irish handicapper has him at. Not disgraced in the Irish Arkle over a trip much shorter than he has generally raced at. However, well beat in the Fred Winter last year and has had a long season. Form with Ciel De Niege has worked out well and though you would have to go a long way back to find a 5yo winner of this, there have been very few to compete, let alone those with the experience this horse has gained (8 starts over fences since end of July). The horse has been benefitting from the weight allowance as a 4yo and that can make his form a little deceptive. He isn’t one for me.
The Glancing Queen – A mare I like though thankfully haven’t tipped yet as initially it looked like she would be an obvious contender for the Mares Chase, though connections now seem to be aiming towards this race. Not a bad idea though wonder if connections also wish they had kept an engagement in the Turners considering how bad that race is looking likely to cut up. Form looks good, only finding L’Homme Presse too good over fences which is no disgrace. Is likely to be competing in graded races as well if winning this either against her own sex or with the weight allowance against the boys. Got to go back to 2014 since the last time a horse defied an absence of this long in the race though, just scraping in on the ‘Ran in the New Year’ trend having last raced on New Years Day! The question is just how much juice is there in her current price of 9/1. Could be a bit, especially if she gets some form boost such as Alan King winning the Arkle with Edwardstone and L’Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory.
Kiltealy Briggs – On the shortlist though owner has stated that he is going for the Ultima. Progressive over fences though both wins come in 4 runner races including one on heavy ground round Haydock. Was put in his place in the Kauto Star but that was no disgrace, especially not when you consider he has made all for both victories yet was held up here. His 1/2 length defeat of the 140 rated Pay The Piper last time off level weights would suggest his mark of 141 is fair, but is there enough improvement to come at this trip to suggest it is well in? I’m not so sure.
West Cork Wildway – One that has been well touted by some shrewd judges including Paul Kealy despite coming from a small Irish yard. Took a while to get going over hurdles in Ireland eventually winning a handicap off 124 before a good 4th in the Ladbrokes Hurdle off 131. Three moderate runs followed including on seasonal debut before he was switched to fences, falling on his first start before beating The Bosses Oscar and Stratum in a Beginners Chase. Hard to know what to make of that form considering The Bosses Oscar has pulled up twice since and though Stratum won a chase it was entitled to do at 2/5 he was then stuffed by Stattler. His only other run over fences was when well beat behind Bob Olinger which is no disgrace but makes it hard to assess just how good this horse is. A literal view of beating the Irish 143 rated The Bosses Oscar would suggest a UK mark of 141 is lenient whilst the Irish handicapper has given him 139 which is only 2lb higher and lenient again considering the rise most horses get. However, his form, and rating is pretty much based around that one bit of chase form. He could be thrown in, or he could be thrown out as over rated, it is hard to say with so little to go on.
Vienna Court – Second mare on the list, as seems to be happening with handicap shortlists. Also holds a Mares Chase entry which I thought she may be more keen to go for. Looks held on seasonal debut by The Glancing Queen, who beat her by 11 1/2 lengths. However, Vienna Court seemed to improve a great deal from the run to then win a pair of handicaps, both over course and distance including beating Simply The Betts in a strong race on New Years Day. That was off a mark of 135 but the pair were 10 lengths clear of the third and she is only 6lb higher. Disappointing last time though in a race she should of won on all known form and given every chance to do so. Beaten by a mare who was 8lb worse off than in a handicap. Possible she hit the front too soon but even then. Would also be concerned at her hold up tactics being deployed in this race where it pays to race handy. Can get away with it if well in and able to take a wide route around the field. This will be different assuming the max of 24 runners is allowed, she can’t ease her way through the field like she normally would. There are enough doubts for now.
Falco Blitz – Henderson runners but doesn’t appeal. Won at Kempton two starts ago beating a pair of horses who don’t like to win (both the 2nd and 3rd have finished runner up four times in four starts since!). A second season chaser, he just doesn’t fit the profile of the unexposed chaser I am looking for as a potential winner.
Adrimel – What can you say about this horse over the last 2 years? I’ll give you a clue. His form figures read: 111PPP11 since the Champion bumper of 2020! So, he either wins or pulls up! Admittedly, the first two pulled up were in the Albert Bartlett and The Mersey novice hurdles, both grade 1s, whilst the more recent was on chasing debut when never jumping. Then went and won a couple of small field affairs, both at Haydock and on bad ground. I suspect he is a horse who is better beating up weaker rivals on bad ground and throws in a sulk when not able to do that. Horses can be temperamental like that, especially those that like to be at the head of affairs. In a competitive race like this I don’t think he is one to trust.
Where does that leave me? Off the trends I want to be betting two. The Glancing Queen brings the most solid form and like I said, it can be easy to over complicate things. The fact is she has only found a potential star too good for her over fences, where she looks improved from her hurdles form. I can see her shortening up somewhat if this is the confirmed target over the Mares Chase whilst there is potential her chances get a boost through the yard form and/or L’Homme Presse. She is a novice with course form and could well be racing in some nice graded races later this season or next year. I will also have a small bet on West Cork Wildway who could be anything here. It wouldn’t be unusual for something with little form from Ireland come over and prove to be much better than what they have shown. If the form line with The Bosses Oscar is literal then you imagine he is well weighted here. He has already been touted a couple of times on preview shows and that could just get bigger. I won’t go crazy with him but it would be good to get him onside if the money was to come for him.
1pt win – The Glancing Queen @ 8/1 Bet365 NRNB
Kim Muir H’Cap Chase
10/10 – Official rating of 137 or higher
8/9 – Aged 8 or younger
18/19 – Beaten last time out
13/16 – 11 or fewer chase starts
9/10 – Last run in the New Year
A hard race to break down from a trends point of view especially when there are a couple of factors that we won’t know. Most important is the jockey bookings though some we can assume such as Rob James will ride Frontal Assault and Jamie Codd is riding Smoking Gun. The jockey is often crucial in this where horses can go a strong early pace. A well judged patient ride is often needed and the best jockeys are the ones you want to be delivering it. Eight of the last eleven winners have worn some kind of headgear, often a cause of improvement in horses at staying trips, whilst six of the last seven winners started at a single figure price. Whilst we can’t predict the starting price, it probably pays to look away from those horses that are a big price at the moment.
The most obvious starting point is Frontal Assault who is a best price 9/2. Thankfully we are already on at 10/1 having tipped him up a few weeks back before everyone else got stuck into him. With his experienced jockey likely to be taking 7lb off his back and just scrapes in the race off 145 then the signs are promising. Yet to win a chase from three starts but he is a grade 3 winning hurdler at 3m who hasn’t raced further than 2m 5 1/2f over the larger obstacles. Was an eyecatcher last time getting outpaced before staying on again, Elliott has been shrewd to hold him back for fear of him getting too high a mark for this race. My only concern is that he is a horse who is often ridden prominently which is not usually the place to be in these races. However, no reason to think it can’t be versatile and was held up on 2nd start when a staying on 4th. We have a good price though hard to say how much mileage is left at the best of 9/2.
I am also a fan of Fakir D’Alene for the same yard though as he still holds an entry in the Ultima which I suspect will be where he ends up. Was placed in a maiden hurdle over 3m though got off the mark at just over 2m 5f. Been kept to middle distances in five chase starts, winning twice including a handicap. Disappointed somewhat in a good handicap when last seen and was pulled from a possible outing only a few days ago due to a temperature which brings in the nagging doubts. Can see him improving for this trip but as a horse who does like to lead then it may be why they are favouring a tilt at the Ultima rather than this. The last from the yard on my shortlist is Grand Paradis. One of those horses that has been thereabouts this year, including when dead heating for second with Frontal Assault. Needless to say they are both off the same mark of 145 here. The question is whether he has the same amount of improvement expected at a longer trip as you see Frontal Assault having and I’m not sure you do. Was a grade 3 hurdle winner at 2m 5f on heavy so it is possible even if it is the furthest the horse has gone. He is now three times the price that Frontal Assault is yet on form, at admittedly a shorter trip, there is nothing between them.
Away from the Gordon Elliott yard and we have Champagne Platinum who has been pulled from the Cross Country but does have a Leinster National entry at the weekend. Clearly the switch from Henderson to Bolger suggests they have staying races in mind for this horse so the trip will be of no issue. Just found Death Duty too good last time over 3m 4f. His win over Ain’t That A Shame by a neck means there is very little between that pair either as they reoppose here off the same mark. As a guaranteed hold up horse then I like his chances but they would increase even more if he was to be ridden by Derek O’Connor, however, McManus also has shorter priced runners in School Boy Hours and Glenloe in the race with School Boy Hours probably the obvious one (Though the absence of 80 days is a concern from a trends point of view). There is no harm in backing the horse at 16/1 with Bet365, if he runs but doesn’t get a good jockey then can cash out for a similar amount I suspect. If he goes Leinster National we lose nothing and if O’Connor gets the ride we are laughing as it is going to take a good ride from a good jockey for him to win coming through the field. Ain’t That A Shame as mentioned has a good chance also. A winner of a maiden over hurdles at just shy of 3m, he improved for the step up to 3m having chased home Stattler followed by Galopin Des Champs on first two starts over fences. Close second to Champagne Platinum on first try at three miles was no disgrace when you consider the form of the De Bromhead yard at the time. This isn’t a race that De Bromhead targets (Unlike Elliott) so unsure who his options will be when it comes to jockey bookings. It could well be Barry O’Neill who rode the De Bromhead Plan of Attack in the race two years ago. In which case it would be a major help in the saddle.
It is hard to see where a serious challenge from the UK is going to come with many of those at the head of the betting from Ireland. Maybe the best could turn out to be Come On Teddy for Tom George. A decent hurdler who was third in the Pertemps last year having been held up and staying on. He got off the mark on chase debut in a novice handicap despite being 2lb out of the weights. Could never go the pace in the Dipper won by L’Homme Presse but then not many could that day before was upped to just shy of 3m, finishing runner up to the in-form Omar Moretti, who has won again since off a 3lb higher mark. Admittedly his jumping left a bit to be desired but handicapper has conveniently left him on the same mark of 137 giving him an 8lb pull for a 3 3/4 length defeat. A hold up horse who therefore should be very well suited to the way this race is run, he is one that will remain on my radar. However, like I have said, jockey bookings are important and as a British horse I doubt he will be the subject of a significant gamble on this race. I can see him being the type I back the night before with a couple of extra places at a good price, assuming I am happy with the jockey.
With us already having the favourite in the book at double the price he is now it makes sense to back a couple more while they are good prices. A few of these are sure to shorten once further jockey bookings are known. With my suspicion that Barry O’Neill will ride Ain’t That A Shame then he is one I am happy to take the remaining double figures about. I also want to get Champagne Platinum on side. There is the chance he could get Derek O’Connor in the saddle and he looks the ideal type for this race if it gets the green light to go for it instead of the Leinster National at the weekend.
1pt win – Ain’t That A Shame @ 9/1 Bet365 NRNB
0.75pt win – Champagne Platinum @ 16/1 Bet365 NRNB
County Handicap Hurdle
8/10 – Rated 134 – 146
22/23 – 8 or younger
17/19 – Novice or 2nd season hurdler
26/27 – Previous handicap experience
30/34 – Raced at least 3 times this season
8/10 – Not run in last 33 days
5/6 – Ex-Flat horse
Typical of the handicap hurdles at Cheltenham, it is so hard to break down a race by trends to a manageable level. Therefore have had to take a few liberties with what I use, however, the last couple of years have seen these trends broken pretty significantly. Belfast Banter (Who we tipped at 40/1 last year the night before) was rated just 129 and had run only 19 days previously, whilst the year before was Saint Roi, who was making his handicap debut after just two starts for Willie Mullins. Mullins does have a habit of breaking trends and he does have several promising, unexposed novices for the race who have yet to run in handicaps, like Saint Roi… This may not be a race that will stand up for the trends and so I won’t get too carried away by it.
Ironically, applying all of the above leaves me just one horse! The trend of Ex-Flat horses knocked out all barring one from the shortlist I had left. Once again, the exception was last years winner Belfast Banter. Interestingly, it is a horse I like and one I had my eye on in big handicaps. The horse in question is Tritonic for Alan King who could be having a great Festival. Was a 99 rated flat horse at best, with his best performance coming 2nd in a 1m 3f listed race at Hamilton. Plenty of promise as a 4yo hurdler, finishing 5th in the Triumph last year. Creditable 5th in the Greatwood this year, a race that has worked out so well and been mentioned several times already. Followed up with an impressive win in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot, cruising on the bridle in a strong race before quickening when asked to win by just under 3 lengths. The second hasn’t run yet but the third followed up with a good 3rd again off 1lb higher whilst the fourth, Metier won last time out. Was turned out quickly in the Christmas Hurdle when only 4th of 5 but to me he had no chance. I think he is best with a short break and better ground! I am prepared to excuse the Betfair Hurdle run as well as he was ridden a lot more prominently than he usually is and to the detriment to the horse as I Like To Move It who finished 2nd was the only horse to race prominently who finished in the first 8 home. The early pace was therefore strong and I wonder if he was a bit keen running after 48 days off the track. His wins, including flat runs, have come with gaps of 34, 28, 106, 35 & 24. The 106 was his hurdles debut when he outclassed the opposition. The soft ground would of been against him that day also as his record on soft or worse is 524184 so I think class got him through that race. He comes here with one of the highest adjusted RPRs likely in the race from that Ascot victory and plenty of course experience. The reason flat horses do so well in this race is because they have the flat speed to get into position and finish well with their being just one hurdle in the straight. He has the turn of foot needed to win this so if ridden more patiently I think he has a good chance.
The question at the moment is do I want to back it now? 16s pretty much across the board, there will be a lot more horses with far more flashier profiles that will be backed for this race. I don’t see Tritonic being one of them and would be amazed if the 16/1 isn’t available the night before with 7 or even 8 places available somewhere. I am happy to wait on the horse before backing it. He would seem to be ground dependent somewhat as well so if rain was to come then it would hit his chances.
I will go slightly against the grain though and back a horse who isn’t a perfect fit for the trends but has shown enough that I want to back it as I feel his price will shorten in the coming days when the market is finalised a bit more. That horse has already been mentioned in I Like To Move It for Nigel Twiston-Davies. As I highlighted earlier, his performance in the Betfair hurdle was exceptional for a horse having raced up with the pace for so long and to only go down a short head. He was a little keen early but could well improve for more cover and I don’t think he has to race so prominently. It is possible having his first run for 57 days saw him a bit fresh. Most of those to make a challenge raced much wider through the race rather than I Like To Move It who was on the rail for most. Twice a course winner, including beating Tritonic early in the season admittedly in a race run more to suit it. He did go for the Champion Bumper last year where he finished a creditable 9th of 14 without ever getting into it. If he can be ridden a little more patiently here then he looks to be a well handicapped horse with bags of potential as a novice still. Has big field handicap experience, if that run hasn’t taken too much out of him then he has a strong chance.
0.75pt win – I Like To Move It @ 12/1 NRNB Coral and Ladbrokes
Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
9/10 – Rated 138 or higher
11/13 – 8 or less hurdle starts
13/13 – Aged 7 or younger
9/11 – First three finish last time out
10/11 – Last run within 52 days
12/13 – Won a hurdle of at least 11 runners
11/13 – Has run in a graded race
Interestingly, this brings me down to five runners, however three I don’t expect to run here. Burning Victory and Queens Brook who appear once again like they did in the Coral Cup will probably go for the Mares Hurdle, whilst Minella Crooner will likely take his place in the Albert Bartlett. Therefore will take a look at the two that remain.
Beauport – Another Twiston-Davies horse, he could have a very good final day in the handicaps! This horse was double entered in the Coral Cup but has been pulled so if going to Cheltenham then this is the race. An impressive winner of a grade 3 novice handicap last year coming from last to first to see the race out very well up the Sandown hill on soft/heavy ground. The race did favour those ridden patiently but he still pulled nicely clear having travelled well. Just found an in-form and well handicapped rival too good on first start this year. The winner had already won a month before and went on to win again off a 5lb higher mark, now rated 15lb higher than when beating Beauport. Possible Beauport hit the front too soon having travelled so well again. Next up was second to Dashel Drasher who was able to race off a handicap mark 10lb lower than his chase. Just went down by 1/2 to another well handicapped runner. Finally, Beauport was 2nd again on last run, upped to just shy of three miles, beat by well regarded Green Book. Up to a mark of 142 sees it now 11lb higher without winning with his latest 6lb rise looking harsh considering was beat, though pair was just under 8 lengths clear of the third. A real hold up horse who stays further is your perfect style of horse for the race and I expect him to be ridden by Jordan Nailor who is the horses regular jockey and has ridden 66 winners under rules in the last 5 years so has bags of experience. The only question is whether the horse is handicapped well enough to win and beat all these plotted up rivals, Irish and Langer Dan! He isn’t one that is likely to shorten much in the betting and would be nice to get with a couple more places.
The Goffer – A bit of an ‘under the radar’ Elliott horse for the race. Winner of a 2m 4f maiden when the favourite fell, before only 4th in a conditions race won by Daly Tiger. Upped in trip to 2m 7f when 4th again to well regarded Gerri Colombe. Travelled quite well that day but was easily left behind, plodding on steadily. General suggestion would be that he just didn’t get home. That seemed to be the same idea for connections as he dropped back to 2 1/2m at Thurles in the Michael Purcell grade 3 novice where he raced more prominently and won by a length and a quarter. Seems to be improving with every run and has gained a bit of experience now with five starts. A strongly run race at this trip looks ideal and interesting that it was considered good enough to get a mention in the Elliott stable tours, even stating that he was a Martin Pipe type. Got to be a good sign though could easily get forgotten now it seems Hollow Games could come for this race also.
Like I said, Beauport can wait for a bet as I want more places and I don’t see it shortening much between now and then. The Goffer is slightly tricky. As an Elliott horse in the Martin Pipe then got to consider the money could come for him. But, likewise, there are several other Irish horses in the race which could get backed. Horses with a higher profile than this one. If he was around 10/1 – 12/1 best price I would probably of left it but with Bet365 going 16/1 then I have to take it.
0.75pt win – The Goffer @ 16/1 Bet365 NRNB
Email Sent 8th March 2022
Taking a look at the handicaps this week, where I apply a combination of common trends for the previous winners along with my own analysis to highlight potential value bets. I usually do this a week before, now that the weights are out, before I then go through my usual handicap analysis the night before. This will be sent in two parts so as able to keep updated on the prices as best as possible.
Ultima Handicap Chase
8/8 – Rated 139 or higher
11/14 – Finished 1st four last time out
9/12 – Run at Cheltenham earlier in season
11/13 – Run at Festival before
Seems like quite common trends but does give us a shortlist of just 5 horses, 4 towards the top of the handicap and 1 right at the bottom of the rating limit. The problem is just who will come to this race. Aye Right has been stated to go for the Gold Cup whilst Threeunderthrufive would of been a fascinating contender here but for connections likely to opt for the 3m novice chase instead. Imperial Alcazar meanwhile is likely to go for the shorter handicap in the Plate. That leaves me just two, Does He Know and The Wolf, with the former also holding an entry in the NH Chase where he is a possible runner. I have to say initially I wasn’t convinced by Does He Know off a mark of 152. If Threeunderthrufive was to run then they would meet on the same terms as when he was beaten by 4 1/4 lengths at this track in November. Looked like he had improved to win the Reynoldstown though favourite unseated five out. Does make mistakes and looks to have already been found in the market. Still, a grade 2 winner in a handicap, there could be more to come as well. However, The Wolf has been ruled out of the race by the owners. Therefore Does He Know could turn out to be the only trend horse who runs in the race, which could see him shorten even further in the betting. Currently 8/1, that may be considered on the short side, but the yard had Happygolucky in the race last year with a similar profile having run at the Festival last year and won at Cheltenham since. Arguably hadn’t done as much as Does He Know having only won a class 2 prior to the Festival so the fact Does He Know is 5lb higher covers the fact he is a Graded winner. Anyway, he ended up going off as 10/3 favourite once all the trend followers got stuck in so there is definitely value at the price with the right horse. Rewatching his Reynoldstown win again he jumped a little to the left around this right handed course so form could be marked up a little whilst I was impressed with the way the horse kept finding more once headed, looking a little outpaced before staying on strongly at the line. It was a marked improvement on RPRs so possible the break over Christmas has done the horse well. With the race likely to cut up with so many horses having other entries then I will take the best price available on Does He Know.
1pt win – Does He Know @ 8/1 William Hill NRNB
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
15/17 – Rated 124 or higher
7/10 – Raced 4 or fewer times over hurdles
0/13 – British-bred horses are 0/55 in last 13 years
Not a race which has ever shown strong trends so isn’t one I like to focus on too much, especially considering the lack of form we have to go on and the price of the winners, culminating in the 80/1 victory of Jeff Kidder last year. Gaelic Warrior looks to be thrown in on the form of his French run last time out where the winner has won a grade 3 and the runner up a grade 2 since. He has an RPR of 152 that puts him 4pts clear of anything else in the list of runners and so is a rightful short price favourite. Interestingly, The Tide Turns is second favourite on most books but would fall down on that strong trend of bring a British-bred horse.
At a big price, right on the cusp of the rating band is Swinging London who despite his name is an Irish-bred. His form ties in nicely with several of these from when he raced in Ireland and his first start for Olly Murphy was more than acceptable, winning a Fakenham maiden having travelled well. The Irish form got a boost with Vera Verto winning the other day so I suspect he is well handicapped. Don’t think it will become a ‘plunge’ horse as there are plenty more high profile Irish horses in the race with this often classed as a ‘given’ for Irish trainers. Famous last words perhaps but will hold any bet until closer the time when should get bigger prices and/or more places on our side.
The interesting entry that I want to discuss is Fil Dor, who if I was in the owners position would probably run the horse here off top weight. Put it this way, he only has 2lb more to carry than Knight Salute yet RPRs have Fil Dor still 4lb ahead even with the weight difference. Carrying a further pound less is Icare Allen, a horse who Fil Dor finished 6 1/2 lengths ahead when 2nd to Vauban. It’s 5lb to The Tide Turns who finished 5 1/2 lengths behind in that same race whilst Lunar Power has to carry just 2lb less than when Fil Dor stuffed him last time by 7 lengths. To me, I don’t see why any of those horses at the weights can turn the form around with Fil Dor, especially not considering the likely strong pace of the Fred Winter would be right up his street with the horse lacking that turn of foot that saw him beat by Vauban in a steadily run race. The problem is, the Triumph could well once again be steadily run playing to the speed strengths of both Vauban and Pied Piper, in which case I imagine Fil Dor plugging on behind, but not having any real chance of winning. Whilst having to concede 13lb to Gaelic Warrior may not be ideal if the horse is as good as it looks, he is still more battle hardened and proven than Gaelic Warrior who connections are hoping can transfer that French form without a run here.
This is a good example of where we can take advantage of the Non Runner Money Back. It looks fairly clear that Fil Dor will run in the Triumph with even the Supreme touted as a possible. However, his entry remains in the Fred Winter and the more I look at it the more it makes sense to me. Obviously I’m not the one that makes the decisions and trainers/owners sadly don’t always do what I believe they should do! But, they could claim 5 or 7lb off Fil Dor at the weight with a good claiming jockey on board, he will get a race run much more to suit than in the Triumph and the standard of opposition, whilst unexposed in many quarters, won’t have the proven class of Pied Piper and Vauban who has already beat him. If he was to run here I can see him being closer to half the price he is now, so where is the risk of taking the best available, knowing if he doesn’t run then we get our money back anyway?
1pt win – Fil Dor @ 7/1 Unibet NRNB
Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
9/9 – Rated 138 or higher (Last year was won off 138)
18/21 – Run 9 times or less over hurdles
11/14 – Aged 7 or younger
9/12 – Run at Cheltenham previously
All these leave me a shortlist of 14 runners with most having alternative entries for the festival, as is often the case with the hurdlers. Interestingly we have several of the mares entered here with Burning Victory, Gauloise, Queens Brook and Marie’s Rock, with the latter two the most fascinating. Mares have won the last two runnings of this including a 1-2 in 2020 so have to take any that run seriously. At the moment all the suggestions is that they will go for the Mares hurdle instead. If you want to back the pair for this race NRNB then I wouldn’t put you off but I can fill these threads with horses who look value at the price if they were to run but invariably won’t. I would rather concentrate on those that are expected to run with the odd potential one thrown in such as Fil Dor where I have no strong opinion from a trends point of view anyway.
There is actually one here that really interests me in Jesse Evans. Went off favourite for the Greatwood hurdle this season, arguably the best handicap hurdle run in the UK this year going by the form of the runners since. Travelled well but emptied in the straight. Not entirely sure what went wrong, he looked a very good jumper so it is possible the two flat runs prior to the race could of took a toll on the horse. He has also been off the track since suggesting that something may not of been right about the horse even though nothing was declared. He raced off 143 that day with the good thing in that the British handicapper has to rate him based on this, therefore he has been dropped 1lb from the 143 he was on in the Greatwood. With an Irish rating of 140 then he has just 2lb more to carry here, compared with other compatriots who have been bumped up 5lb+ by the British Handicapper. Form is solid too having finished 4th in the Galway Hurdle to Saldier, running on well at the finish having had to take a wide course. Already proven on decent ground and big fields. Been off for 122 days, but the yard can get them ready and I suspect they know this is a very well handicapped horse. The worry is the trip as he isn’t proven beyond 2m 1f and this is 2m 5f, half a mile further. Breeding suggests he could get it and as it is run over the same course and distance as the Ballymore then it often takes a speedy horse to win this, just look at Heaven Help Us last year. We have a quick, well handicapped Irish horse who has been and run at the track so ticks many of the boxes. As usual, he is triple entered in the three handicap hurdles and having been ridden by a claimer last time in the Greatwood then there has to be a concern he will go for the Martin Pipe instead. However, his experience is on the Old course so would also make sense to go for this. Only 5 places on offer now with bookmakers likely to go 6, 7 or even 8 on the day so I will take a price now to win and if still around a similar mark on the day then I may well go in again the night before with the each way option.
0.75pt win – Jesse Evans @ 33/1 Coral & Ladbrokes NRNB
Grand Annual Handicap Chase
10/10 – Rated 138 or higher
10/13 – Novice or 2nd season chaser
11/13 – 13 or fewer chases
10/10 – Last run 30 or more days
16/18 – Beaten last time out
16/17 – Not won a handicap chase that season (Sky Pirate last year broke the trend)
9/10 – Had raced at Cheltenham previous (Savello in 2014 the exception)
Much better race for the trends with some quite significant factors that show up every year. Factoring all of these in and we have a shortlist of five horses which I am happy to discuss individually.
Embittered – Fascinating one and probably the real trends type having ran in the race last year, falling at the 9th fence when going off favourite on a mark of 146. 8 of the last 16 winners had run in the race previous so when you also factor in the record of novices and 2nd season chasers then that is a significant trend. Was a four chase start novice maiden last year whereas this time they have got plenty of experience into him having now had 13 chase starts and two wins including a grade 2 victory. Recent form is poor in graded races and never put into the race in the Irish Arkle but that has meant the handicapper couldn’t do much to his mark and so comes here 1lb lower than last season when favourite! If you can forgive those recent runs then he has a fantastic chance.
Buddy Rich – Plenty of experience for a novice including over course and distance when 2nd to Third Time Lucki here in a novice chase. Likely to have the assistance of Davy Russell in the saddle who has a fantastic record of the race with 3 wins from 7 rides, the other 4 finishing in the first 5 places so expect him to be thereabouts. The form of his 4th last time in a Leopardstown handicap has worked out well with the winner going in again since and is rated 23lb higher, whilst the 2nd won off 3lb higher next start, has placed again twice since and is 13lb higher. Third has been well beat twice since but that was on soft ground both times which the horse doesn’t handle and has been withdrawn on in the past. Buddy Rich is 6lb higher with the weight increase by the UK handicapper but can’t help but feel that run to Third Time Lucki was a prep race for this, gaining course experience. Current favourite for the race at a best price of 7/1.
Dancing On My Own – Not my type coming in on the back of a fall last time as those horses have such a poor record at the Festival. However, has a level weight victory over Buddy Rich from the beginning of October yet meets here carrying 1lb less. Has regressed somewhat this year in his other two runs and his Cheltenham form is pretty poor, pulling up in the Coral Cup in 2019 and finishing 6th of 8 in a grade 2 novice going in on the back of a win and 9/2 in the betting. Enough negatives for me to look over him especially when you consider the chances of the two above.
Gumball – Biggest price of the five shortlisted. Not without a chance either considering he has been rated as high as 152 over fences (Though somewhat of a knock-on effect of his hurdles mark of 152) and is here off just 140. Looked like he was going to beat Eldorado Allen in a grade 2 novice chase at the course last season but for falling two out over this distance. Has since switched yards, not disgraced in 4th to War Lord early in season in a Graduation chase. Poor next time before staying on 2nd at Ludlow off top weight. Both runs coming when ridden more patiently than usual. His best form has come when racing prominently or leading. Down to a handicap mark of just 140 is very interesting to me whilst his absence isn’t a concern for a horse who needs decent ground and looks well handicapped. Plenty of 33/1 available but no reason to be betting him now, I don’t see him being a horse who will be shortening in the betting much and likely to be an extra couple of places available the night before. 33/1 and 7 places would be a very fair shout for this horse in my view so will happily wait.
For Pleasure – Tricky one as he is a keen going sort in a race where it should pay to be on the front end. Not disgraced with 3rd in the Supreme last year and some bits of his form suggests a rating of 138 could be quite generous. Twice fell though, only win came in a 3 runner race and a concern he will just be too keen in the race. Unlikely to get things his own way in front and may be the sort who is best bullying inferior opposition. I like the horse but not sure I can back him for such a competitive handicap.
As you can probably tell there are three I like. I am happy to wait and hold any potential bet on Gumball but it may pay to get on Buddy Rich and Embittered. Buddy Rich is already favourite but last years favourite Embittered went off at 9/2 and Chosen Mate who was a winning favourite the year before was 7/2. I fully expect Buddy Rich to go off favourite for the race so not unreasonable to think he will be nearer 7/2 – 9/2 so the 7/1 is value, even allowing for the NRNB. Could get stuck in each way knowing Davy Russell’s record in the race but that is not my style as I would rather back two or three in the race. Therefore I shall tip him win only, along with Embittered who still looks a good price considering what he started last years race at and the arguments I put forward earlier.
1.5pt win – Buddy Rich @ 7/1 Bet365, Coral, Unibet, BetFred & Ladbrokes NRNB
1pt win – Embittered @ 12/1 Bet365, Coral & Ladbrokes NRNB
Email Sent 1st March 2022
Mares Novice Hurdle
The strongest piece of form on offer (Barring last years renewal ala Mighty Blue) is the Grade 3 Solerina, run at Fairyhouse at the end of January. It was won by Allegorie De Vassy which was a bit annoying having pointed out at Christmas that she was on my radar for this race. However, by winning she somewhat dented her chances as it means she has a 5lb penalty to carry. She won by 3 1/2 lengths from Brandy Love who therefore gets a 5lb pull and many will fancy her chances of reversing the form. She jumped violently to the left losing lengths at the hurdles on this right handed track. However, I have my concerns. First, at times she seemed virtually unrideable. It was extremely erratic which though will help by running left handed she could be particularly awkward. Secondly, she is a keen going type who likes to bowl along in front, blazing a trail at times. In the mares novice that is never a good thing! Invariably this race is suited to mares that are ridden more patiently. Telmesomethinggirl when winning last year was last after a couple of furlongs but was brought through gradually. Eglantine Du Seuil came from a mile back having been second last after 2 furlongs while Concertista didn’t make the same mistake a year later, held up before cruising through and kicking on. The first four home were all ridden patiently with 100/1 Rayna’s World coming from a mile back also. Anything that is keen or races prominently invariably gets picked up with the long run in to the last giving plenty of time for horses to find their position and build the momentum on the run in. I just don’t see Brandy Love settling well enough in this race to be ridden patiently. This looks a competitive year so I suspect Brandy Love will be a place lay for me but I will leave that for another post I suspect.
Back to the Solerina though, the value from that could actually be Grangee despite her falling at the second last. Held up, she was just starting to make headway when knuckling on landing. She went off 3/1 for that race with Brandy Love and Allegorie De Vassy both 7/4 joint favourites, she had drifted from as short as 9/4 so maybe not as much was expected of her that day. Prior to that she had won a maiden hurdle easily before thought good enough to compete in the Future Champions Novice over Christmas, finishing 4th behind Mighty Potter, Three Stripe Life and Farout. She had the 7lb allowance but having jumped to the front turning for home she just didn’t have the pace to get away from the field, ending up a sitting duck as they jumped the last. That is still a strong piece of form as a grade 1 and with the runner up also finishing in the same position behind Sir Gerhard. She comes here in the mares novice without any weight penalties and so gets 5lb from the likes of Allegorie De Vassy, Elle Est Belle and Party Central, an interesting one whose form ties closely from bumper form when Grangee beat her by a head. Grangee will be very well suited to this race, likely held up but also with the ability to travel well as we saw at Christmas. I’m not concerned by her hurdling and just see the fall last time as one of those things when she crumpled on landing. In the Future Champions her hurdling was so good it was the reason she found herself in front too soon. Whilst it is not ideal to be going into a Cheltenham race on the back of a fall, I expect her to be well schooled at home as a Mullins horse and as a grade 2 and 3 winner in bumpers who finished 6th in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last year then she doesn’t lack for class. Stays well, the more I look at her the more I think she is a fantastic each way bet. Will get one bet on now but if the price remains and we get more places then I won’t be afraid to go in again.
Won’t lie, when I initially wrote this late last week she was 12/1. Since then she has cut significantly in price and is now a best price of 9/1, or 8/1 NRNB. That is too short for me at this stage to back each way. However, with Allegorie De Vassy a negative in the betting, Elle Est Belle pretty much ruled out, Brandy Love unsuited to the race and Dinoblue just one run to her name in maiden company then even that 8/1 with backup of money back if doesn’t run then she is worth getting on side.
1pt win – Grangee @ 8/1 NRNB widely available
A race that still looks particularly open and certainly don’t feel we have got to the bottom of the race. The starting point looks to be Hillcrest who has improved with every run and is now the standout on RPRs. The problem is whether he can repeat or even improve on that on probably better ground less than a month later. Not convinced as I am not a fan of horses running on heavy so close to Cheltenham, especially having put in the highest RPR of anything in this race. The fact that he also is more inclined to bunny hop the hurdles so at the price I will let him go. There are enough horses here who can put in a big performance in what is often an open race (Unless you get a Monkfish!).
I am all about value and because the race is so open then I think there is a horse worth chancing at a big price who strikes a similar profile to last years winner Vanillier. That horse is one I have already tipped up for the Ballymore in Grand Jury even though the yard felt he was more of an Albert Bartlett horse. I just can’t forget his 2nd to Ginto in the Lawlor’s Of Naas when jumping to the front turning for home but just getting out sprinted at the finish. Then flopped at the Dublin Festival when never travelling though both runs have come when the yard form has been poor. Compare this to Vanillier who was 2nd in a grade 2 over Christmas before flopping at the Dublin Festival in the same race Grand Jury did when the yard was out of form and then winning at Cheltenham. That run of Grand Jury in the Lawlors is still enough to put him joint 8th on RPRs and that was just his second start. Admittedly the yard and owners also have Journey With Me who is lightly raced and unbeaten, though concerned they chose the easy option rather than race in graded company last time. The trainer has also suggested that he is more likely to contest the Ballymore. Minella Indo who was an exception when winning after just two starts had actually finished runner up to no less than Allaho in a graded race on his previous start so had graded form. Monkfish managed to win this without running in a graded race but he was producing exceptional RPRs in the novice events he competed in to suggest he was something special which proved to be the case.
Grand Jury holds plenty of entries but could well turn out to be the owners first string in a race in which they have had several suggested for the race. I don’t think he is worth giving up on after a poor run when the yard was struggling, exactly what happened with last years winner. Clearly well regarded by the yard, he looks worth chancing at a massive price. Personally I have split my stakes with a small bet at the 66/1 with Bet365 on their ordinary market with a bit more at the 40/1 Bet365 and Skybet NRNB. However, for the purposes of this I will stick with the Non Runner Money Back price.
0.5pt e/w – Grand Jury @ 40/1 Bet365 & Skybet NRNB 1/5th odds 3 places
Not recommending a bet here though feel like I should talk a little bit about the race as I haven’t devoted much attention to it, mainly because I have struggled to find value in a race in which everyone has some kind of opinion. Personally I think A Plus Tard is a good thing if his jumping holds together like it has this year. Happy to forgive him getting beat by Galvin so soon after a hard race at Haydock, just a case of getting to the front too soon. Probably just travelled too well in the race that he ended up a sitting duck in front. Galvin is next best in the betting who should be well suited to the race. Has improved no end, but will need to, to win a Gold Cup. He is about the right price. The same is probably the case with both Minella Indo and Protektorat. Minella seems to peak at this meeting every year and has built up that profile to do so again. However, he just has that one run, when winning this last year, that proves he is up to this standard, when achieving an RPR of 179. His next best prior to that was just 170. This year on his two completed starts he has an RPR of just 166 and 161. 5/1 on Minella or 10/3 best on A Plus Tard, it is the shorter price for me even though previous runners in the race that have been beaten very rarely go on to win.
Protektorat is the potential star of the British runners and whose RPRs have improved nicely. A little concerned that he was beat in a handicap on first start this year, rated just 154, though his victory in the Many Clouds was impressive. My worry is whether he is ‘battle-hardened’ enough for a Gold Cup? Did win the Manifesto at Aintree in his only Grade 1 chase run though debatable it was that strong a race considering novice company and neither run this year has been a grade 1. The pace and jumping is on another level in the Gold Cup that at a best price of 8/1 I can’t chance the improvement he needs. Al Boum Photo is a 10yo and is worth remembering that the likes of Kauto Star couldn’t regain his crown at this age so unlikely he would be able to. Looking at potential each way angles I was interested in Tornado Flyer, Royal Pagaille and Chantry House though all three comes with significant negatives. Tornado Flyer was the winner of the King George in a race that fell apart after the strong gallop. Held up out the back and picking up the pieces, something you cannot do in a Gold Cup to win, the form of those to finish looks horrendous. Clan Des Obeaux in 2nd was beaten as even money favourite on next start. Asterion Forlonges who would of been 2nd but for falling at the last was also a beaten favourite on next start coming only 4th. Saint Calvados and Lostintranslation who finished 3rd and 5th both pulled up on next start whilst Frodon in 4th came 7th on next run when may as well of pulled up! I do wonder whether that race has taken a lot out of all the horse to the extent they may struggle to recover their form for the rest of the season. With his jumping also a concern then I am prepared to let Tornado Flyer go, even if 12/1 looks a big price for a King George winner. Royal Pagaille was put in his place by A Plus Tard at Haydock but then benefitted from being held up on next two starts. Like I said, you can’t do that to win a Gold Cup, you need to be racing at least mid placed if not prominent. He is a solid marker who would be best on soft ground and despite several starts he has yet to show he can take his form on to another level. Finally Chantry House who strikes a similar profile to Minella Indo last year. Has a great record at Cheltenham though do wonder if he struggles at the big table and has been fortunate in his career so far. Both defeats have come in grade 1 company whilst the two he has won, in novice races, saw the odds on fav in the Golden Miler chase at the Festival fall, whilst several ran below par in the Mildmay. With a best RPR of just 167 then he needs an improvement bigger than Minella Indo to win and I just don’t see it. Not sure if Asterion Forlonges jumping is good enough to win a Gold Cup, or whether he stays well enough but he is somewhat of an enigma and it wouldn’t surprise if he did put it all together on the biggest stage. Also has a best RPR of 170 from that King George run when staying on behind Tornado Flyer and in general his jumping isn’t all that bad. Perhaps he would be the one to chance if you wanted to take a flyer at a price. He was well backed on his next start and is twice the price of Tornado Flyer here who he would of possibly finished only a length or two behind at Kempton. If we are talking about prices that are wrong then this is potentially the one. However, with his record would you want to be backing it each way? But then is he good enough to win the race? I think it is just a case of wait and see for now, we could get 4 places closer to race time which is a little more security.
On RPR’s then the front pair of Elimay and Mount Ida are clear here whilst you still have the potential of Concertista to transfer what she has done over hurdles to the bigger fences. However, neither of the front two have produced the best of their form this year, with Elimay best this year 9lb below what she achieved three times last season and Mount Ida best run coming in the Kim Muir when she won over 3m 2f and an RPR of 160, 6lb above what she has done. Considering she has also been talked about as a Gold Cup horse and a Grand National type then you do wonder whether the 2 1/2m trip around here will suit. With Concertista yet to prove that she is as good over fences then it may pay to look elsewhere. It looks like Put The Kettle On and Riveiere D’Etel could well go elsewhere which leaves me looking at the Twiston-Davies pair of Zambella and Vienna Court. Despite the shorter price I favour Zambella who looks a strong each way bet. She actually ran in this race last year when falling at the tricky third last. She had unusually been held up considering all her form was from leading or racing prominently. Despite this change of tactics she was creeping into the race and jumped the third last fairly level with Shattered Love and Salsaretta who ran on to finish 3rd and 4th. Unfortunately Zambella, who had a horrible preference for jumping right handed at her fences stumbled on landing and came down. Since then she has won three times this season, all from the front and looking far more accomplished in her jumping. It is possible from the front she is able to get into a better rhythm which is ideal for this course and distance as it can be hard to make up ground. I wonder whether last year she was ridden for a place, hoping to pick up the pieces of what looked a stronger race with an in-form Elimay and Colreevy in opposition. Her jumping looks better this year and the opponents not in as good a form as last year so hopefully she will be ridden more prominently. There is a worry that her level is around hitting an RPR of just below 150 which may be good enough to place here but I do feel against better opposition it may be enough to eek out that extra little improvement needed to be competitive.
0.75pt e/w – Zambella @ 10/1 NRNB widely available
That is all from the graded races for now. The next you will here on these is likely to be when the final declarations are made and we know exactly who will be running where. All focus and concentration now will be given to the handicaps with the weights set to be announced tomorrow. Lots to analyse and mull over as Cheltenham sits just a couple of weeks away. I just can’t wait!
Email Sent 23rd Feb 2022
Cheltenham is getting nearer with less than 4 weeks to go. We will start to find out more about horses likely targets whilst preview nights begin and horses shorten based on what someone says at these previews! Therefore this is a good time to have a look at races and get on before this all happens. This year it is slightly unusual as we have a couple of scenarios where there is the serious possibility that main protagonists may end up in a different race than expected. The Supreme for example where the expectation is that Sir Gerhard and Dysart Dynamo will be split up and one will go for the Ballymore. That has generally been the ploy for Mullins in the past when he has had two strong candidates. But, this is arguably the first time there is strong opposition to the Mullins horses in the case of Constitution Hill and Jonbon. Even when Henderson had Altior and Buveur D’Air in the Supreme (Mullins had Min who split the pair) it was realised how good the latter would turn out to be having gone off 10/1 for the race. No hiding how good the Henderson pair are here so I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them run, along with Kilcruit for the yard. They are all different ownership so no issue there, it seems odd they would step up in trip and risk when they have proven to be so good at 2m. It was interesting to hear Ruby Walsh comment about how important Mullins felt it was to get off to a good start. The more weapons you have the more likely you are to win the race, especially considering I can see Sir Gerhard taking a lead off Dysart Dynamo in the race with Kilcruit ridden more patiently. Each fitting nicely into their racing style. None of this helps with ante post betting. Non Runner No Bet is fine depending on if your horse runs or not as it is a no risk bet, but the make up of the race could change significantly. If they decide Dysart Dynamo will go Ballymore instead then that is a large part of the pace angle gone from the Supreme as whilst Sir Gerhard can lead he is a lot more settled at the front and more liable to set fractions he can kick on from. Whereas Dysart will likely go off harder and set a more searching gallop. Also, there is a good chance if something was to switch to the Ballymore then they could well become favourite and make the market for the race, thus seeing other horses drift out in the betting. It’s all a bit of a mess. What I do know is that I won’t be touching the Supreme until nearer race time and we know what will be lining up. There is then the ‘Galopin Des Champ’ situation. We have financial involvement in this which is swings and roundabouts to me. We have a very good price on L’Homme Presse to win the Turners Novice Chase and if GDC was to line up there then it would significantly decrease his chances of winning the race. However, we do have a bit of cover as we have a nice double on GDC to win the Turners and Bravemansgame to win the Festival Chase along with a related double on Bravemansgame to win the Festival Chase from earlier in the season. However, if GDC goes for the three miler then L’Homme Presse will have a great chance in the Turners where we sit with a 20/1 voucher, or even bigger if you waited for other firms to price up. Where GDC goes though impacts both of those races as wherever he goes he will be the likely favourite, in my eyes at least.
There is still value to be had I feel in the graded races though before we then focus on the handicaps. I have gone over my value selections for the first two days of Cheltenham.
Putting it simply, I don’t think there is much between any of these. We saw that when Blue Lord narrowly beat Riviere D’Etel having jumped the last better and got the momentum. Saint Sam may not of been far away either were it not for the couple of significant mistakes that he made when finishing 3rd on just his second chase start. Meanwhile Edwardstone continued his fine run with another win over Third Time Lucki. Not entirely convinced by that race. Brave Seasca may be the better guide and is rated 146 getting 5lb yet is beat less than 6 lengths suggesting Edwardstones rating of 159 may be somewhat inflated. Third Time Lucki was having his 2nd run in the space of two weeks having looked best when fresh and also after connections had pointed out he had an overreach after his last race and may not even make Cheltenham. Watching the race again and TTL is never more than a couple of lengths off Edwardstone throughout the race. Whether Skelton expected Edwardstone to come back to him I don’t know. But, if he was ridden in front instead of behind then the result could have been a lot more interesting. Don’t think there should be such a price difference between the two but then you are looking at 12/1 NRNB and the suggestion is he now won’t go to Cheltenham. We already have 20/1 on Blue Lord so we are in a good position anyway
When looking at previous winners, what has always been a common theme is the strength of the hurdles form of the winners. You do get the odd exceptions, Western Warhorse (an exception to most trends for this race) and Put The Kettle On spring to mind having not competed at the highest level over hurdles. The thing is, not many of these likely to line up had much in the way of hurdles form. Certainly not at the top level. Blue Lord is the best from the novice range having looked likely to finish runner up to Appreciate It in the Supreme before falling at the last whilst also third behind Echoes In Rain and Colonel Mustard in the Irish Champion Novice Hurdle. Compare this with Edwardstone, who is rated 150 over hurdles but had been turned over the last three times in handicaps. Riviere D’Etel is just 133, Third Time Lucky 143 and Haut En Couleurs 146. In fact, the horse with the best hurdles form is Coeur Sublime who was rated 155 at his best but went off the boil a little having switched yards last year. Took three attempts and a weak race to get off the mark over fences though to be fair his only defeats have twice been to Ferny Hollow and also Riviere D’Etel having to concede 13lb. Shouldn’t be forgotten that for the Arkle he would have a 6lb pull though close to 14 lengths to make up. His win last time would have been a good confidence booster and his jumping is improving. Does have the option of the Grand Annual where the initial thought was where he would be going but an Irish mark of 148 and therefore nearer 155 for Cheltenham will make things very tough whilst the absence of Ferny Hollow has really opened up the race. In theory he is closely matched on a line through Ferny Hollow and Riviere D’Etel so wouldn’t be out of place in this race. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was switched to this and with his class over hurdles there could be more to come. He certainly has an each way chance in an open race.
0.5pt e/w – Coeur Sublime @ 16/1 NRNB widely available
Sometimes you get an early impression of a horse and it is hard to forget even if the horse proves otherwise. That is the case with Stormy Ireland who was always a strong going type who was alright down in class but at grade 1 level and over 2 1/2 miles then she never got home. However, on recent evidence I no longer think that is the case. She is certainly a lot more settled now and sees her races out better. Winner of the Relkeel hurdle last time, it would of been close between her and Brewin’Upastorm who fell at the last when challenging. He confirmed the form though when winning on next start, taking a valuable hurdle to beat Darver Star and Goshen. Prior to that Stormy Ireland had been well beat by Honeysuckle on first run of the season when possibly needing that. It was her only defeat over hurdles since beginning of January last year when still trained by Nicholls. Her win in the Mares champion hurdle over Minella Melody and Concertista reads particularly well and after her win in the Relkeel on soft ground proves she sees this out much better and handles the course. She has some of the strongest form at the trip and there are plenty of concerns about the others.
We are already on Telmesomethinggirl at 8/1 and 16/1 so she would be a big winner for us so no harm in covering on the potentially biggest danger. She seems to be peaking at the right time having had to concede weight through the season so far. However, we haven’t seen the best of her yet and her patiently ridden style may be better suited to a faster run mares novice like last year than the 2m 4f on the old course. Royal Kahala needs all of this trip being a winner on soft over three miles last time. It is suggested she will need soft ground to run at the Festival. The opposite is probably the case with Echoes In Rain who is doubtful whether she would get this trip having run mainly at 2m. Finished a bit too close to Honeysuckle last time which resulted in her being raised 6lb in the weights making it tougher from a handicap perspective. I still think she will go that route though. Burning Victory is one of those that could potentially be suited to this race, but she still has plenty to prove with an RPR of just 150. Since her win in the Triumph two years ago her form is pretty weak over hurdles. Not sure her price justifies the form but at least she has proven she can travel and perform. Heaven Help Us goes well here but it is hard seeing her reversing the form with Telmesomethinggirl from their run at Leopardstown.
Quite simply, unless the ground was to come up soft then this is a two horse race for me between Telmesomethinggirl and Stormy Ireland. At the prices then it is good time to cover on the latter.
1pt win – Stormy Ireland @ 6/1 NRNB widely available
A race which looks to be Tiger Roll’s swansong at the age of 12. He absolutely hosed up last year and it is hard to see it being a harder race this year considering the opposition. Prengarde is an unknown though his form reads well. Still, connections were hoping to get a run into him before Cheltenham but haven’t done so yet. Easysland has pulled up twice in his two starts this season and though they weren’t ideal conditions it doesn’t bode too well. The horse also needs very soft ground to be seen at his best it seems which it isn’t guaranteed to get here. Ajas, which we backed last year hasn’t been seen since disappointing in the Grand Steeplechase De Paris and no matter what I try I can’t find any information as to his wellbeing or intended plans. We are then looking at Midnight Maestro and Shady Operator in the betting, who are rated in the mid 130s as chasers and look better suited to the banks of Punchestown. I was prepared to chance Farclas over these fences. Took well to the National fences when 5th in the Grand National off a mark of 146. Was last seen finishing 2nd to Run Wild Fred in the Troytown off 148 and is now rated 151. Has a preference for decent ground and seemed to stay the marathon National trip so should have no problem here. However, the suggestion is that as he goes well fresh then he will go straight to Aintree.
Therefore I will have a go on Freewheelin Dylan, shock winner of the Irish National last year off a mark of 137. Trainer has stated that he needs decent ground, which it invariably is in the Cross Country. Had a run over hurdles at the beginning of January though didn’t enjoy the soft ground. The main target is the Grand National though Tiger Roll was able to win the Cross Country before going on to further glory at Aintree. Trainer seemed happy with his mark of 147 which still puts him 10lb ahead of horses who are half the price in the betting. Had a spin round this course getting as far as the 27th before unseating on the tight turn after the national fence. Seemed to handle the course well prior to that though including the banks and unique fences and was still travelling before coming a cropper. Stays well, if the ground was to come up on the better side (Invariably it is quicker on the cross country than the chase and hurdle course, whilst I suspect they will want it decent for Tiger Roll) then he can run a very good race before going on to the National.
0.75pt e/w – Freewheelin Dylan @ 25/1 Betfred 1/5th odds 4 places
Email Sent 6th Feb 2022
1pt Chacun Pour Soi to win the 1:50 Leo & Champion Chase @ 14/1 Paddy & Betfair
0.5pt Three Stripe Life to win Supreme @ 33/1 Unibet
1pt Chacun Pour Soi to win the 1:50 Leo & Champion Chase @ 14/1 Paddy & Betfair
Been a little negative this morning but on all known form he should be too good for these if fully fit, which is hard to imagine not being the case considering the issues he has had. Has a great record here and expect him to be ridden positively, which could see him obliterate this field. He is the only horse who has posted an RPR that can push Shishkin and Energumene close. With this all in mind you have to fancy him to win today if standing any chance at Cheltenham, hence why I am very happy to take the 14/1 on the double.
0.5pt Three Stripe Life to win Supreme @ 33/1 Unibet
A horse I backed very early on at 50/1 for the Ballymore only for connections now seemingly going down the Supreme hurdle route. Underrated in my view, he was unlucky behind Mighty Potter when not getting a clear run and still looks quite green. Could well be more to come though does have 8 lengths to find with Sir Gerhard from the Champion Bumper last year. However, lightly raced so every reason to think there could be improvement. Considering Sir Gerhard is around 5/1 now for the Supreme then there is a good reason to believe Three Stripe Life should shorten to around that mark if he was to win. You can get 40/1 with William Hill to win this and then any race at Cheltenham which is fair, but I would rather take the 33/1 with Unibet on just to win the Supreme. Like I said, Elliott has already stated that Three Stripe Life will run in that race at Cheltenham, he already has course form, is open to improvement and though he may not win here, he could go close running on which would also see him shorten for the Supreme. Small bet at a big price.
We also have a great price on Galopin Des Champs to win the Turners so am hoping for another blistering display of speed that will confirm him going down the shorter route.
Email Sent 5th Feb 2022
1pt Vauban to win 1:35 Leo & Pied Piper to win Triumph @ 11.25/1 Boylesport
Nice little related double that we are able to place. The point is if Vauban was to win then it franks the form of Pied Piper and weakens the claims of Fil Dor. That’s not to say that Fil Dor won’t win at Cheltenham though I do feel people get carried away with early 3yo/4yo hurdle form. It’s like early season 2yo form on the flat. Over the course of the season then a lot can happen and horses improve at different rates. Some are ready early in a season and don’t improve. Others don’t show much early but improve significantly. Certainly the most important form to concentrate on is the recent. If Vauban can beat Fil Dor then it would suggest the race is between him and Pied Piper. Depending on manner of victory depends on what happens to prices, but either way if Vauban wins here then expect Pied Piper to shorten. Getting over 11/1 for that scenario seems very fair.
1pt Riviere D’Etel to win the Irish Arkle and any race at Cheltenham @ 12/1 William Hill
Don’t think the price has changed to reflect the money that has come for her. It is possible that her second to Ferny Hollow could still be the best piece of form in the Arkle even with the weight allowance. She will still get 7lb at Cheltenham which gives her a great advantage. If she can win this, beating the best that looks available in Ireland then she will also be the one to beat at Cheltenham. Like I have said before, because of the position we are in then there is no harm in spending a couple of points on covering against Blue Lord. A lot of shrewd judges have highlighted her this weekend and I would regret not taking the price on the double if she was to win.
Email Sent 1st Feb 2022
I was brief in my advice in backing Klassical Dream and though we saw defeat for Champ I am surprised that the former hasn’t shortened up in the betting, though admittedly he is now a best price of 5/1 NRNB, realising that the race may just of come too soon for a horse whose record of racing in the last couple of seasons was limited. The run was 20lb below what he had achieved on last two starts so even with the weight to carry it was a poor effort. But as I say, he had excuses and there is no reason to think the horse had bottomed himself at Leopardstown at Christmas having run to the same mark at Punchestown at the end of last season. I suspect he just needs time between races which he will have now and at Cheltenham I expect him to be back to his normal ability, therefore a great chance to confirm form with Flooring Porter.
The same could possibly be said for Champ who also has a very good record fresh. Probably wasn’t helped either by chasing a strong pace which saw the patiently ridden (Not through choice) Paisley Park staying on strongly on the sticky ground. The problem for me is that his highest RPR was 165 over hurdles when winning the Long Walk, well below the 171 Klassical Dream has got the last twice and the fact Flooring Porter has got 166 or higher on four of his last five starts, the exception being when pulling up at Punchestown. Can I justify him at the same price as Klassical Dream. No, I can’t, especially not when you consider he is a 10yo and those aged 10 or older in Championship races have a terrible record. This would be the same issue for Paisley Park who just doesn’t have the class or ability these days to match the Irish pair. I am in no doubt that Klassical Dream is the value now.
Also at Cheltenham we had Pied Piper who has leapt to the head of the Triumph betting after his win in the Triumph Trial. No denying an impressive victory though it shouldn’t be forgotten that the runner up was 50/1 with the two main protagonists in the betting running below par. The time also was marginally quicker than Cormier in the first but carrying 6lb less weight. Admittedly he was eased down at the finish but for a long way he seemed to be maintaining a good speed on the run in when pulling clear. It was good and does hurdle well enough. It shouldn’t be forgotten though that he raced 11 times on the flat so has vastly more racing experience than many of his opponents he has faced. What it does confirm and what I suspected, is that the Irish 4yos are head and shoulders above the British couterparts. It is long odds on the winner of the Triumph will come from Ireland and that will probably have a knock on effect for the Boodles juvenile handicap also. The forgotten horse somewhat is Vauban, who looked an unlucky loser behind Pied Piper first time up and should improve a great deal for the run. He is due at the Dublin Racing Festival next weekend when we shall see just how much improvement he has.
Chantry House managed to get his head in front, but looks some way short of the standard needed to win a Gold Cup. With a best RPR of 167 and not seemingly improving then he is a long way off my idea of the winner. To put into context, Royale Pagaille got a 171 for his win the previous weekend, the 2nd time he has achieved that mark.
Over in Ireland I was most taken by Frontal Assault who unfortunately for our perspective has already been flagged up by David Jennings as the headline horse to follow for Cheltenham from the weekend. 2nd to Floueur over 2m 5 1/2f beginner chase, running on strongly at the finish having been outpaced as the race developed. That is hardly a surprise considering he won a heavy ground 3 mile novice hurdle at Naas last season staying on well. A chase mark of 138 should see no issue getting into the Kim Muir where there is a cap at 145 even allowing for an increase in the Irish weights. It should be remembered that this was the race Elliott in theory won last year with Mount Ida taking a significant increase in trip on handicap debut having raced over shorter. The problem is the price has shortened a fair bit as I managed to grab 14/1 NRNB straight after the race. The best now is 10/1 which is still reasonable. With the right jockey bookings then I can see it starting at nearer half that. Mount Ida was a 3/1 shot on the off when winning last season.
Kim Muir – 1pt win – Frontal Assault @ 10/1 Bet365 NRNB
You would generally say winning a grade 3 would do a horse no harm, but like I highlighted before, in the case of novice mares it means they will be penalised with a 5lb penalty in their race at Cheltenham. This doesn’t help the chances of Allegorie De Vassy which is a little frustrating because as a 2nd season novice she was my idea of the type likely to improve and prove a value selection. Her victory has meant not only does she have to concede weight to the field but she is now favourite in the betting. A lot of the talk was about the way Brandy Love jumped to her left losing ground all of the time yet was still only beat just over 3 lengths. To me she was favoured by the way the race was run and her position in that race. The way she was jumping so erratically to her left suggests something was wrong with her, either an injury or something in the head. She was virtually unrideable, to the point that to me even switching to a left handed track wouldn’t make a lot of difference. She is one that I would be happy to take on unless she runs again and looks more straight forward. At a massive price the one that is worth taking from the race is Lunar Display, a listed winner so had to concede weight here and would have to carry a penalty at the Festival so would be meeting the winner on level weights. She had been held up but ran on really well at the finish and with a lot of her form over further then she would be well suited to a strongly run race. Last years winner had most of her winning form at 2m 4f. She has gained plenty of experience in the last year or so and would represent an each way shout. Though with a mark of 132 then you couldn’t rule out handicaps either. 3rd to Mrs Milner and 2nd to Hollow Games are two standout pieces of form whilst the hustle and bustle of handicaps shouldn’t pose a threat. Not one to tip yet, would personally like at least 4 places, but one I will keep an eye on for reports etc.
We had a great start to Sunday with the 3m 1f beginners chase at Naas. Admittedly Run Wild Fred was pulled out, thankfully just a temperature, but still leaving us plenty that were towards the head of the betting for the NH Chase. The race was won in the end by Stattler which has seen him jump, inexplicably, to the head of the betting for the staying chase at Cheltenham, though does marginally jump him above Run Wild Fred on RPR. The obvious concern with Stattler is the lack of experience, this being just his second start over fences, going for a race in which chasing experience is invaluable. In a match bet, I would still favour Run Wild Fred over Stattler, even if the latter has more potential. I think connections of Stattler would also be foolish to rule out the 3m chase at Cheltenham which he is a best price of 14/1 though a fair 10/1 nrnb. In my view he beat Farouk D’Alene with a better turn of foot as opposed to outstaying his rival. Twice now Farouk has idled a bit in front. I just don’t think he has any kind of turn of foot, just a horse who gallops to the end. Whether he goes to Cheltenham remains to be seen having missed it last year due to injury. What is promising is that it is twice now he has run well on good or yielding ground, when he was previously considered to be a soft ground specialist. He is a decent price for the NH Chase and one I will consider without the need to get on right now.
Like I said, with the Dublin Racing Festival coming up then there is plenty to look forward to and plan ahead, so expect there to be emails later in the week, trying to get ahead in bets. Already got my eye on a couple but will wait and see for now.
Email Sent 29th Jan 2022
0.75pt win – Iceo to win 12:45 Cheltenham & to win Triumph Hurdle @ 20/1 Skybet
The initial suggestion from Paul Nicholls was that this horse wouldn’t go to the Festival and would rather be saved. However, his entry in todays Triumph trial at the track means he may well have a change of heart. After his last win he said that the “Triumph isn’t the be all and end all” and that if it came up testing then they might consider it. Yet it is due to run on good ground today? Has a good marker in opposition in Pied Piper who represents the Irish form who should provide a strong test. It is hard to imagine why if Iceo was to win today it wouldn’t go for the Triumph (Barring injury). It is already a best price of 10/1, which includes Bet365 non runner no bet, but to me and with what the trainer has already said then for value you are better taking the 20/1 to win both races as if he didn’t win today then he probably won’t go to Cheltenham. If you would rather play it safe knowing you get your money back or you can’t take the Skybet boosted price then I suggest you take the 10/1 for 1pt with Bet365. What I like about Iceo is he fits the profile of having come from France, raced over hurdles in the summer and was an impressive winner on his UK debut. Plenty of racing and hurdling experience which would include in training also means he should be ahead of the likes of Pied Piper for example who was racing on the flat through the summer.
We also have a cracking mares novice hurdle with a lot of strong candidates, mostly from the Mullins yard. The issue here is that whoever wins would get a weight penalty of 5lb which in an open contest would make the task at Cheltenham a whole lot harder. A 3lb penalty was enough to prevent Tintangle winning in 2019 according to RPR for example. Therefore it is actually a hindrance to win today when considering the race at Cheltenham. However, a good run in 2nd or 3rd would be a major boost as you would get a 5lb pull at the Festival. It is a race I will definitely be assessing on Monday with a view to Cheltenham.
Things have been a bit slow on the Ante Post front of late, which is often the case after the busy Christmas period. But, with three of the big betting companies now going non runner no bet then it is a good time to get stuck in. Expect a lot more bets, including in the handicaps now and several which probably won’t run, but safe in the knowledge that you don’t lose anything if it doesn’t run anyway.
I will start with one bet on a horse who ran below par the other day.
Stayers Hurdle – 1.5pt win – Klassical Dream @ 6/1 Bet365 NRNB
As usual there is a massive over reaction to his run from the other day when finishing only fourth. For a horse who has had few runs in the last couple of seasons it is no surprise that he may of been feeling his return run when beating Flooring Porter, the pair well clear of 3rd place. His best runs have come with an absence of late and with 7 weeks still till Cheltenham then there is plenty of recovery time for the horse. He has already proven his class and I feel the Irish horses are better then the UK opponents. You can wait on the price if you want as if Champ was to win easily later then Klassical Dream could get even bigger. But, either way I feel the 6/1 is great value. If he was to turn up in the race then I fully expect him to start around 5/2 to 3/1 and if injured then he won’t go anyway, in which case we get our money back. I know I said I wouldn’t get involved in the Stayers any more after the injury to Buzz and Abacadabras not staying but this is an opportunity for great value having already backed Flooring Porter. Remember, if Klassical Dream had gone straight to Cheltenham and not run the other day then he would be a lot shorter like I suggested. He hasn’t got worse since Christmas so this is the perfect chance to back the horse
Email Sent 21st Jan 2022
0.75pt win double – Shishkin (3.35 Ascot) @ 4/6 & Energumene to win the Ryanair @ 14/1 Ladbrokes (Accumulate 24/1 double)
A related double, but the type that most bookmakers take. The strange thing is, if Energumene is to beat Shishkin then this is the race. On soft ground, right handed track and in a small field where unlikely to be contested too much in front then he has a good chance of winning. But that is the logic. If he can’t beat Shishkin when he has so much in his favour then why would he then be able to reverse placings at Cheltenham? Especially if he was to suffer a big defeat. With the stamina he has shown in the past as a point to point winner and over 2m 4f on heavy ground as a novice then it would be no surprise to see him switch to the longer Ryanair, especially where his prominent running style is often a major benefit in a race such as this. Some may point to Mullins already having the favourite in Allaho but he wasn’t afraid to run him against Min last year with both having a similar running style and seeing which horse lasts it out best! Personally I have had a few stabs with Paddy Power who allowed doubles on their #WhatOddsPaddy prices of Shishkin to win by 4 lengths and Energumene to come 2nd, Shishkin to win by 6 lengths or more and Shishkin to win by 8 lengths or more, all individually going into Energumene for the Ryanair. Obviously the logic is the further Energumene is beat then the more likely he is to go for the Ryanair instead. However, it seems you can no longer do those bets on the website. Therefore I am recommending the more simpler option of Shishkin to win the Clarence House tomorrow and Energumene to win the Ryanair. 24/1 for the scenario seems very fair to me.
Email Sent 20th Dec 2021
For my first bet I want to go back to Thursday last week and a horse that was comfortably beat, but like I have said before, I believe there is plenty of value to be had in beaten horses. Many of the novice races are still won by horses who had tasted defeat, not every horse is a Monkfish or a Shishkin (Even Shishkin was beat on hurdles debut when falling). Therefore I am prepared to accept defeat of a horse, especially if conditions are not to suit. The horse I am referring to is Gaillard Du Mesnil. Runner up in the Ballymore last year, comfortably beat by Bob Olinger though still finishing ahead of Bravemansgame, with the form already looking strong. Was turned out eventually over 2m 3f at Naas in a race the betting suggested he was fully expected to win. Unfortunately, or not with regard to prices, he was turned over finishing only 3rd to stable compatriot Capodanno. The winner was an improving hurdler with a rating of 147 and had achieved an RPR of 151 on his last win over the smaller obstacles, a mark Gaillard Du Mesnil had attained three times along with a 155 in the Ballymore, so he was fair opposition. Rewatching the race, he was a little slow to warm to the task before his jumping improved as he went on. Plugged on at the finish, to me he looked hopelessly outpaced. When you study his form you can see exactly why. This trip of 2m 3f is the shortest he has raced over jumps, having not even gone less than 2m 4f in five starts over hurdles! For a horse who was outpaced over 2m 5f in the Ballymore and the trainer having stated he wants further then this 2m 3f was never going to suit. With that in mind then the run is more than satisfactory considering the longer term aims and the fact he will be stepping up in trip next time. The question is, which race? The suggestion was that he would go down the RSA/3m route though I am not entirely sure. Interestingly, Lord Royal ran in the exact same Beginners Chase as Gaillard Du Mesnil just ran in before going for the NH Chase last year, whilst the Mullins entrant in 2020 of the NH Chase, Carefully Selected ran twice at 2m 4f and 2m 5f before racing over the longer trip. Now, I might well have the wrong race but Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor already set a high standard and the suggestion is the Mullins horse for the race is Galopin Des Champs. I also think the NH Chase should cut up and potentially significantly, much to our detriment as I am not convinced Run Wild Fred, the current favourite and a horse we are on at 14/1 will run in the race. Generally you would say he is too classy for the Grade 2 chase, more likely to go for the Grade 1 Festival Chase over three miles. If not there is also the option of saving him for the Grand National, run just three weeks later. Stattler looked good on debut but still has a fair bit to prove. There is a suggestion that the Albert Bartlett was a weak race last year, certainly in comparison to the Ballymore which already looks stronger. Annoyingly Gaillard Du Mesnil is only priced up in a handful of places for the NH Chase so it limits where we can get our bet on. I will get it requested with a few other firms, see if they go similar, but for now I will give it as the best price around.
0.75pt win – Gaillard Du Mesnil @ 33/1 Ladbrokes & Coral
Moving on to Friday and we had the win of Jonbon. Like I said at the time, for me the race was unsatisfactory. A couple of horses I expected to lead didn’t do so, which meant the pace was poor. Once again, Jonbon won comfortably in a race which was nothing more than a sprint. His hurdling was great again and plenty of people suggested after the race that the faster he goes the better he will be… but that is nothing more than speculation. The Supreme is arguably one of the hardest tests of the Festival, run as the first race, invariably on softish ground and at a hectic pace where the jockeys hearts are pumping and the crowd are roaring. Jonbon could be going in there without having had an end to end race assuming he may have one more run before Cheltenham. Depending on how that goes depends to me if there is any chance his price will be value come Cheltenham. I want to see him race at a good pace before I can even consider backing him. Otherwise I feel it is just going to be too much for him, even if after Cheltenham he may turn out to be the best horse. Just look at the race again. Colonel Mustard and Elle Est Belle were outpaced, running on again at the finish when it was all over. Neither were suited to the sprint, whilst I Like To Move It and Knappers Hill had both won their races before by setting good consistent gallops, not outsprinting the opposition. I suspect I will be against Jonbon right the way up to Cheltenham, rightly or wrongly!
There was plenty of talk last weekend on the run of My Drogo, who has quite an engine but whose jumping still doesn’t impress me. He has a fair bit of improvement in him but whether he can put it all together in time for Cheltenham remains to be seen. Bob Olinger looks a class act in this division though he still has a way to go to match his hurdles ability with chasing. I’m sure they will get the experience into him but what is now known as the Turners Novice Chase (2m 4f) is a tricky race, one that saw Envoi Allen succumb at a shorter price I suspect than what Bob Olinger will end up starting at, if he makes it there. The horse that I want to bet for the race is L’Homme Presse for Venetia Williams. A winner of a Graduation Chase on Saturday in taking style
beating more experienced horses. Now two from two over chases, he was backed as though defeat was out of the question despite taking on horses who rated much higher over hurdles. He ended up galloping his rivals into submission, even though he was jumping to his left at the majority of the fences on this right handed track. The Topspeed time was very good and his RPR of 153 puts him matching or very close to what both Bob Olinger and My Drogo have achieved over fences. The left handed jumping will be no issue at Cheltenham whilst I do like prominent racers over the course and distance of this race as it is so hard to make up ground in the finishing straight. Just as you start to build momentum then you have to ease back for a fence, so it suits rhythm horses at the head of affairs, especially if able to kick on turning for home. I did research last year about horses being positioned in the front three turning in for home going on to win the Ryanair which happened again last year with Allaho. Chantry House in this race last year made up ground but that was because Shan Blue went too fast in front setting the race up. Even then Chantry House was level over the 2nd last and ran on to the line, with the likes of Asterion Forlonge unable to make up the ground. Anyway, L’Homme Presse is lightly raced, has matched the level that the market principles have achieved yet because he is from the smaller, less popular Venetia Williams yard and didn’t race at a high level over hurdles then he is seemingly being ignored. Still has to prove the course suits as never been to Cheltenham and likely to have stiffer tests to come before Cheltenham but I think this horse could shorten up once more people have assessed this run, especially if some of the preview shows get into him. Same problem though, not all the firms have this horse priced up, however you can get the biggest price with two firms.
Turners Novice Chase
1pt win – L’Homme Presse @ 20/1 Ladbrokes & Corals
The Long Walk hurdle was won by Champ with the suggestion now that he will go the Stayers Hurdle route. I was mildly impressed with Thyme Hill though it did make me realise that I still think the Irish horses are better and classier than anything the UK has. Thyme Hill didn’t drift to a price I was prepared to take which is a little frustrating, though the shortening of both Flooring Porter and Abacadabras in the betting suggests that people are also thinking the same as I do, along with the fact they are both entered to run in the Christmas hurdle at Leopardstown over this long weekend. It is a race in which there could still be changes to come, especially from the Irish division. I’m interested in Commander Of Fleet getting backed for the Christmas Hurdle. Comes through the handicap route like I have mentioned in the past for Sporting John. It is possible he is peaking at the right time. At the moment I need to do a lot more research into the race before I can consider a bet on the race.
Expect will follow up with another email later in the week and will probably be getting Boxing Day bets out on Christmas Eve or before. I may even do it in drips and drabs this week with several of the big races priced up. Will see how the week goes. Would like to get as much done as possible before Christmas Eve so can enjoy the time with my family.
Email Sent 18th Dec 2021
Nothing else really takes my fancy today on a tricky days betting. There are a few ante post options about but they just don’t appeal. Marginal price increases for doing the double on the novices makes it hard though as we have seen any kind of win is enough to see prices cut dramatically so expect to see the same with Belle Metal today for the mares novice where a win will see prices cut. However, Elle Est Belle sets a high standard for that race to me and everything has to compare to what she has achieved. How Brandy Love is the same price for example is based purely on reputation even though the trainer has several that could be aimed at the race. So, Mares novice is one I am happy to leave at this stage otherwise could end up with several horses who only have a maiden novice win to their name.
There is one I want to back today which is relying on a horse bouncing back, in a market where we took a disappointing hit yesterday after the news of Buzz being injured and out for the season.
0.75pt win – Thyme Hill to win the Long Walk and Stayers Hurdle @ 11/1 Paddy Power and Betfair
Gone with the 0.75pt stake as you can back it at this price in a couple of places. Had to miss the Festival last year through injury but looked the best British stayer around with consistent RPRs and culminating in victory at Aintree over Roksana. First run this season was disappointing, tailed off at Auteuil but that was on very bad ground which was immediately given as the excuse after the race. Much better conditions here, there will be no excuses whilst both races have opened up a little with Buzz no longer a danger. If he was to win the Long Walk then there is good reason to think he will be vying for favouritism again. Obviously this is just a way of making the bets easier. Best price of 5/2 at the moment, may go as short as 3/1 with a win. A £1 running up double at those prices would return £14 so 13/1 which obviously pays more but relies on Thyme Hill being 3/1 or bigger for the Stayers, which would depend on manner of victory. Play it safe and take the 11/1 for the double here therefore.
Email Sent 9th December 2021
A little review of our ante-post situation with regards Cheltenham at this stage. Plenty of bets are on with 23 in total, though two are already losers where the first part of a win double has gone down. A lot of really good situations as well so pleased with how it has gone so far, especially as we don’t have the strength to influence the markets. Any shortening of prices is purely from us spotting the value and taking the opportunities. Obviously it is still very early days and no matter what market beat you get what matters is the final result. However, the nearer we get to Cheltenham the more you will see how I attempt to make a profit from the races and the prices we get. We already have three horses backed for the Ballymore, but at prices of 40/1, 33/1 and 12/1 and an outlay of just 2pts. Anyway, here is a list of all bets in race order, the price taken and current best price according to Oddschecker. I have also added a small comment on the situation, as you know I like to add some detail!
0.5pt e/w Magic Daze @ 33/1 – Best price now 40/1 – Disappointing run really at the weekend. Went off in front like always but never got near to the kind of jumping rhythm she had found at the course the time before. Hopefully something materialises otherwise it wouldn’t surprise me if the prospect of the Arkle is out the window. Saying that, she has pace so unless going for the Grand Annual then there would be no other race for her. The Arkle can cut up and trainer has a good affinity with the race after Put The Kettle On so place chances are not ruled out yet.
1pt Tellmesomethinggirl @ 8/1
0.5pt Tellmesomethinggirl @ 16/1 – Best price now 10/1 – Good and bad here. Got on before her run expecting her to shorten with a decent run. Didn’t happen even though the run was fair considering the weight she was conceding. However, she then doubled in price to 16/1 which was an insult to her chances and her run. Therefore I backed her again. It wasn’t a case of I felt her chances of winning had increased, it was just that the 16/1 represented great value and so I had to back her again. In hindsight I should have just waited, though if she had of won the race she would of shortened a lot. In theory the combined odds is now 12/1 so we are beating the market overall. If she can win her next start then expect her to be pushing for market leader again.
0.5pt Folcano @ 20/1 – Best Price 20/1 – Price hasn’t changed though was a little disappointed in the run as I expected more. However, plenty of time to go and has qualified so fully expect the trainer to get him spot on at Cheltenham. May need a weight increase to get in but I’m sure Elliott will be doing whatever it takes so not too worried.
1pt Run Wild Fred @ 14/1 – Best Price 5/1 – One of my best market beats at the moment. Hosed up in the Troytown and Elliott stated after the race that he would be ideal for the NH Chase like I expected and predicted. However, now rated 159 which would be high for a NH Chase horse. Last year the highest was Next Destination as a 153 with Galvin, the winner rated 152. Run Wild Fred is 7lb higher. Would have an outstanding chance and be one of the classiest winners of the race if so, but will they still go for this grade 2 instead of the Grade 1 3 miler? I am a little concerned but will review the situation later.
0.5pt Three Stripe Life @ 40/1 – Best Price 33/1 – Still a decent price, out just the once, very green when winning what wasn’t a strong maiden. Missed his recent engagement as the ground was too fast. His next start will be the telling one. IF he wins that he will shorten significantly. Get beat and we may be ruling out a tilt at Cheltenham. I am hopeful we have the right race. There was a suggestion that he was be a stayer and go Albert Bartlett but I don’t see that happening at the moment.
1pt Adamantly Chosen @ 33/1 – Best Price 50/1 – Think he bumped into a fair horse last time who had the advantage of race fitness. Still green he looks a cert to get off the mark this season and his price a bit of an insult at 50/1. Already quite committed on the horse with 1pt so don’t want any more on, but granted a good win next time as I suspect and he will be a fair bit shorter. I’ve not given up on him yet.
0.5pt Constitution Hill @ 12/1 – Best Price 12/1 – Backed this only on Monday so price hasn’t changed. Have heard a rumour that he may be going Ballymore so fingers crossed I have it right, though his price hasn’t changed and it was only a rumour!
Festival Novice Chase
1pt Ahoy Senor @ 20/1 – Best Price 13/2 – Another good beat after an impressive win last time. Been well touted in the press which now sees him at 6/1 in most places. Could have a big battle facing Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star on Boxing Day though the trials of Cheltenham should suit. Would be a small concern at the lack of Cheltenham experience.
0.5pt Bravemansgame @ 14/1 (Double) – Best Price 5/1 – We have both market leaders though Ahoy Senor is a much bigger winner. Small stake bet on Bravemansgame for the double stands going into Kempton and Ahoy Senor. No matter what happens there, you imagine he would still have a chance at Cheltenham with his experience.
0.75pt Nube Negra @ 16/1 – Best Price 16/1. Advised on Monday. May not be seen again until Cheltenham due to his record fresh and on decent ground. I expect this to be a value bet and would be amazed if lining up he was a bigger price.
Cross Country Chase
0.75pt Ajas @ 14/1 – Best Price 10/1 – We sit on value, but not sure on how long. Not seen since a poor run in the Grand Steeplechase De Paris. No entries or anything to suggest his wellbeing. Best form came at the backend of last season so possible he has been saved for a tilt at the Cross Country and possible Grand National, having been due to run at Cheltenham last year until owners were not allowed to travel. But, I would like to hear something!
1pt Springwell Bay @ 20/1 – Best Price 20/1 – Not surprised this price hasn’t changed though was the subject of some positive reports in the reviews later that week. All will depend on his next run though still looks the best of the British at the moment. However, have seen three bumper runners go and win well since so will hold back now on the race and watch for when these other horses are running.
1pt Allaho double @ 12/1 – Best Price 5/2 – Got the value here having backed him in a double to win the John Durkan as well. Had a hard race so wouldn’t be surprised if he missed Christmas. Barring injury he should start as favourite for the race so we are immediately in a good position with the most likely winner bringing us profit.
1pt Fakir D’Oudairies @ 14/1 – Best Price 14/1 – Shows how fickle the market is as tipped him prior to his impressive win at Clonmel which saw his price drop. Then could only manage 4th in the John Durkan, where he just couldn’t get into any kind of jumping rhythm held up in the middle of the pack. Wonder if the yard are a little out of form with just 1 winner from 26 runners and that was at 1/3, with two beaten favourites and several at single figure odds. I wouldn’t give up on him as I still feel he has a great chance at Cheltenham and is still best of the rest behind Allaho.
0.75pt Abacadabras @ 20/1 – Best price 20/1 – Didn’t really enhance his claims last time behind Honeysuckle though did prove he has no chance over two miles and if they were to consider him for the Festival then they would have to look at three miles. Still an interesting candidate as he normally travels so well into his races, it may be a case of the further they go the better for him. Still has the question mark as to if he stays but if he does then he is a classy horse.
0.5pt Buzz (Double) @ 25/1 – Best Price 13/2 – Have included Buzz here though officially the bet is for him to win any race at Cheltenham. Don’t see him going anywhere but here though after his win for us last time. Sets it up nicely even if just a 0.5pt bet, though it shouldn’t be forgotten that he is yet to attempt three miles (Due to next time in the Long Walk) where he is set to take on Thyme Hill to find out the ‘best of the British’.
Mares Novice Hurdle
1pt Elle Est Belle @ 16/1 – Best Price 8/1 – Half the price now, another example of where the betting market dismissed a horse based on their opening run. Trainer admitted she would improve for that first start and that is exactly what she did as she travelled well and won nicely next time. For me she has proved the most in this race at the moment though there is sure to be a strong candidate or two coming from Ireland.
1pt Gypsy Island @ 20/1 – Best Price 20/1 – Backed her before her run and win back in a maiden hurdle in May. Wasn’t particularly impressive but the race has worked out better than looked before with the runner up winning a listed race since and the 3rd has also got off the mark. Goes well fresh and likes decent ground so all is not lost and may be saved for a spring campaign. However, a Google search doesn’t produce any current information as to her well being and her price has drifted back out so has to be a concern.
Albert Bartlett Hurdle
0.5pt Whatdeawant @ 25/1 – Best Price 25/1 – Recent tip though a couple of positive reports have come out which has seen his price cut in places. Next race will be a telling one.
1pt Elimay @ 8/1 – Best Price 8/1 – Another recent tip. Think market and public are underestimating her and good to read that Lydia Hislop agreed that you can put a line through that last run. Next run may tell if there is more of an issue but I don’t believe there is. Just a matter of circumstances against here. Expect a much improved performance in the new year.
There we have it, all 23 bets recommended since the end of the last Cheltenham Festival. We have some great positions especially considering 8/1 is the shortest price we have taken (3 horses all at 8/1, 1 already a loser). Lots to look forward to through the winter and plenty to be excited about. Can’t say I am disappointed with any of the bets though would like to hear some news on Ajas and Gypsy Island, at least no news can only be good news I hope! Magic Daze looks to have it all to do though that is the only each way bet we have had, the intention was always looking for a bit of place value with her being initially lined up for a race that always cuts up. We shall see if I am as confident anyway in a month or twos time! Plenty more bets and value to come though to build on what we achieved so far.
For the stats based amongst you there are 23 bets with a total stake of 19.25pts. Two bets are losers due to the first part of the respective doubles going down so we have lost 1.5pts already. However, as you can see from the bets then it would only take a couple of winners, or even just one in several circumstances for us to make profit. Out of the 21 bets that still stand, we currently have 9 market beats with 9 available at the same price and just three that are now a bigger price. It is worth remembering that from the 9 that are the same, 4 are from my recommendations on Monday so not had time to change or adjust to anything.