Wednesday 26 April 2017


Times and the way they finished suggested genuine good jumping ground. Arrived too late to see them in the opening novice hurdle but condolences to connections of Storm Forecast who perished after jumping two from the finish.

The winner, Applaus, is a horse I've watched closely all his career and he will continue to be of interest went sent over fences next term.

He had nothing to beat here in the end but has now won a bumper and two novice hurdles without being a very good jumper and being a stayer in the making. He has grown though and fences will almost certainly be the making of him.

There was plenty of 'dead wood' on show throughout the afternoon, none more so than in the second, a handicap chase over 2m.

The couple I was interested in were Have You Had Yours and Miss Conway, the latter having come on plenty for her run at Southwell last time and having run her best on a couple of occasions at this track.

She's obviously not that talented but at six she ought to be able to win a couple more and should rate higher if she is campaigned at this course through the summer.

Have You Had Yours has done me a favour a couple of times down the years and maintains an exceptional 20% strike rate over fences for the grade.

The 11-year-old looked in good order on his second run back off a break and although the trip is too short nowadays, he was sure to go well.

Alas, the place money went down when he was run out of it by 80/1 poke Warksburn Boy, but he's on a very winnable mark if they can find a suitable race over an extra half mile.

Warksburn Boy has often caught the eye in the paddock in the early days but went through a period of getting very worked up and sweaty. After showing nothing for over a year he's now on a basement mark and showed much more, rallying when appearing to drop away.

He's bred to want further, and he shouldn't be overlooked in similarly awful races as this is unlikely to have been a fluke. It's worth noting that the trainer did well with Native Optimist last season.

Helmsley Lad hasn't looked straight forward in the past and upped to 3m he was a vulnerable favourite in a maiden hurdle, even though it looked as though Victoria Says was his only viable opponent.

However, Classical Milano, who I missed in the prelims, stepped up on previous efforts to outstay the Irish raider and put another feather in the cap of trainer G Bewley.

The win has rather shown his hand to the assessor however, and it could be next season and fences before we see the best of him.

A tricky handicap hurdle was dominated once again by Beyondtemptation, the darling of back-to-lay traders. She won this off the same mark last season and did it again beating a better field.

Heist was weak in the betting but looked well and was the only one to come from off the pace to get anywhere near the front, and he looks poised to strike off this lower hurdles mark this spring where quick ground is important.

The staying handicap chase hosted some of the greatest rogues in racing, so it was quite amusing to see them all bunching up as they headed to three out with few of the riders wanting to go on.

They pretty much performed to par exepct the winner Apache Pilot, who appeared to put it all in for once although it could just have been that his mark of 72 was plenty low enough.

He and stablemate No Such Number were fit from absences but I plumped for the latter at double the odds hoping a change of yard might spark a revival. He showed up for a while before dodgy jumping took him out of it.

Ardea took the hunter as expected, although he's looking quite lean and he is clearly a bit quirky, finding himself in front way earlier than usual; he's better than this.

The bumper was hard to call as Big Bad Dream appeared to be in need of the run after a three month hiatus, while eventual winner Schiaparannie has done some growing and filling out since her debut for M Walford so did well to win after an absence, albeit with a disconcerting head carriage.

There was a hint of support for French Ticket who traded odds on climbing the hill for a yard that does well with what they have, and this one looked a fair sort beforehand so this was no fluke.

Wig Wam Wiggle was punted but looks a big raw chaser in the making, while Silk Or Scarlet ooks weak and backward for the time being.

Sunday 23 April 2017


Genuine good ground for the final National Hunt meeting of the season and some quite interesting fields to get to grips with.

The opening handicap hurdle for conditionals could quite easily be narrowed down to the top few in the market, with Mortens Leam looking a worthy and well-backed favourite.

He's not over-big, but was still quite imposing against this opposition and had to go close despite not having seen his races out that well to date.

Down in trip was Dear Sire and he looked a real threat as he's quite a keen sort, and he proved the stronger of the two at the trip under what looked a decent ride from J Cowley. Mortens Leam didn't seem to do much wrong but was run out of it again.

Allfredandnobell looked as though he'd had enough for the time being, running up light, while Monfass was much calmer with the hood back on but made early errors and backed out of things quickly once more.

Honourable Gent was a really impressive winner here on his belated return last time and the way they bet you'd think the whole betting community thought he was bounce material.

At evens he was a fair enough lay but near enough 7/4 he was backable in the face of huge support for the hitherto 'doggy' Vodka Wells, who is not straight forward by any means and has looked regressive despite a brighter effort last time.

Honourable Gent again jumped with elan and Vodka Wells was beaten when blundering two out, and he will remain opposable after this. Jethro continues to lack confidence at his fences while Star Presenter wasn't straight for this return from an absence, a large scar on his quarters possibly the reason for the absence.

Sheneededtherun is unfortunately named but is the type his trainer does very well with and this chasing type will be one to follow when sent over 3m and fences after landing long odds in the mares hurdle.

Shimla Dawn was an interesting runner as four went to post for the 3m handicap chase, back from a break and looking very pleased to be back too

However, this big imposing animal was carrying plenty of condition and his natural exuberance over shorter trips meant his ability to see this out was by no means assured.

He traded very short in running after predictably jumping them to sleep for a circuit, but he's pretty quirky and went right at several fences. He may not be one to fully trust but at the same time is a lovely sort that deserves one more chance in the right circumstances.

The Clock Leary looked straighter than at Market Rasen for his debut in McCain colours as it were but he's looked poor under pressure several times and it didn't come as a great surprise that he found little once push came to shove.

Palm Grey will never win in the looks department but handsome is as handsome does and he recorded his sixth victory under a never-say-die Cook ride....the horse is bred to stay very well and this first win at 3m opens one or two more doors.

The novices hurdle was clearly a three-runner affair as the previously successful trio were way ahead on ratings. However, the market was very strong on Blue Hussar despite the respected RPRs suggesting Viserion had achieved just as much if not more to date.

The disparity in their prices effectively forced a bet and the three of them pretty much ran to their marks, Viserion rallying tenaciously to seal the victory from Blue Hussar who was outpaced at just the wrong time.

I was very keen indeed on the ultra consistent Leanna Ban in the handicap chase over 2m5f and with the usual forcing ride he simply had to go close in a winnable race, market rivals Dartford Warbler and Strongly Suggested looking vulnerable.

Imagine my horror, then, as connections chose this race to give Leanna Ban a waiting ride while the race developed all around him. A modest early pace didn't help and the horse was never going to win from the fall of the flag.

This sort of thing is agonising to watch and while the majority of the bet was offloaded safely it doesn't detract from the fact that this was a golden opportunity for a horse that deserves to win again. Hopefully, connections have learned their lesson for next time.

Up ahead, old monkey Rosquero got there far too soon again and was worried out of it by Strongly Suggested, for whom everything fell into place, while Crookstown looked really well beforehand and cruised into before finding nothing, and he is one to avoid.

The well-related Jane Lamb was all the rage in the closing bumper and she has plenty of size for a four-year-old, which usually means the weight for age allowance can be exploited.

She looked a good bet against some green looking horses beforehand but didn't seem to build on her opening effort and has to go down as a disappointment. Heartasia attracted support when running well in a better contest last time and, despite weak connections, was punted again and duly improved to win a moderate race.

Hopefully blog followers were able to acquire some decent prices about Vaniteux yesterday...I was surprised the odds held up for most of the day in a race where just a few could be fancied. I've been working hard providing this type of analysis for subscribers who have enjoyed a very profitable winter. The service runs from October to March and so hopefully through the summer months I'll be able to post more previews free on this blog. The subscription service is aimed at serious punters and is not expensive - please contact me via email or twitter for more information.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Ayr preview

I thought I'd do a rare preview today as I had a few thoughts and some spare time looking into the 3.20 at Ayr, a Listed race over 2m.

I thought the ground looked a bit quicker on the chase track yesterday than the hurdles, probably just on the soft side of good.

The key form race appears to be the Red Rum at Aintree, where Double Ws had Yorkist and Romain De Senam behind, the latter pair being 5lb and 6lb better off today.

However as you'd expect for a race of this nature, it's probably not as straight forward as that.

Simply Ned; Probably one of the most forgotten horses in northern racing on account of him rarely running in races in which he has a chance. Form in handicaps reads F113112 over fences and a mark of 157 means he should still be very competitive. Critics will argue that his best form comes in the autumn, but with just four runs this has been a light campaign.

Vaniteux; Has largely looked one to avoid this season on account of attitude, his only victory coming when beating the regressive Vibrato Valtat. However, he's down in trip, and while undoubtedly talented, backers will be banking on cheekpieces working the oracle.

Double Ws; Long been held in high regard on this blog. Delivered the goods back in trip last time and if you backed him at Aintree a 5lb rise shouldn't put you off reinvesting. However, there are some higher quality horses in this line-up and he will need to be in at least as good form, if not better, to win again.

Apterix; A very likeable sort who has been well placed over fences this season, but was marmalised by Double Ws earlier in the campaign and although both have improved since he is only 3lb better off and his jumping will come under pressure here.

Mixboy; Not very big and his rating is based on one run at Musselburgh. Unsurprisingly outclassed at Cheltenham and still has to prove he can mix it in better grade.

Somchine; Appears to be improving and loves a fast run 2m, but this is a major step up in class off a career high mark.

Yorkist; Reasonably solid performer but doesn't find winning easy and although entitled to finish closer to Double Ws this time I wouldn't necessarily count on him finishing in front.

Romain De Senam; I haven't really taken to him this season and wasn't that keen physically at Doncaster. Shapes for all the world like he wants further now and I'd be more interested in him next season when they step him up.

De Faoithesdream; Won this last year from 3lb lower mark but that renewal wasn't as strong as this and although he's not easy to predict, he's hard to recommend.

Ifandbutwhynot; Revitalised by front running tactics but is another in-form horse that needs to bridge the gulf in class, and he's not getting any younger.

Tissue; 5 Vaniteux, 11/2 Double Ws, 13/2 Simply Ned, 7 Yorkist, 10 Ifanbutwhynot, Romain De Senam, 12 Apterix, 14 Mixboy, 16 Somchine, De Faoithesdream, 33 Indian Temple. 101%

Conclusion; There should be plenty of pace on here with Ifandbuthwynot, De Faoithesdream and Mixboy all likely to be pressing on. That may scupper each of their chances although of the trio Ifandbutwhynot could last out and go close. However, I prefer class in this race and the top three appeal most. If Simply Ned is in good form he simply has to go close in this grade; more importantly he looks hugely overpriced this morning and at 9 or 10/1 he must be included in the staking plan. Double Ws has been to Cheltenham and Aintree and this is his eighth outing of the season. If he remains at the top of his game he may yet improve again and 144 might not be his limit. However, there's not much leeway in the price and although I might have a bit on if /when he drifts, Vaniteux has to be the other main bet. His form over fences away from Cheltenham reads 12131 and he often shapes as though he's not far off top notch. He has to prove it but if he's ever going to do that it's here, with everything in his favour and some headgear to keep his mind on the job. Odds of 11/2 or bigger represent great value.

Thursday 13 April 2017


There should still be plenty of meat left on the bone of National Hunt racing in the coming weeks and I always like this time of year from a betting point of view.

These late-season meetings at Wetherby are usually pleasant affairs and the shape of the racing looked just right...sure enough we got more right than wrong which makes a change of late.

With the Greatrex-trained Bob's Boy immediately opposable in the opening juvenile (he was backed into favouritism??) it looked a two-horse race between the strong looking Ravens Hill and the more athletic Lord Topper.

The pair duly travelled best and then came clear, the Snowden trained Lord Topper knuckling down best on the flat to win quite nicely in the style of a horse sure to stay much further.

Ravens Hill lost little in defeat and the Irish import should do better with this run under his belt as he took a fierce hold.

The following seller wouldn't usually appeal but it brought together the round eight and there was plenty of dead wood.

The hot favourite was the once-useful Mr Spingsprong but he hasn't looked in love with the game for some time and was very opposable, especially when Cooky dropped him out early.

Mr Snoozy isn't one to set your clock by but on a going day he was never going to be out of the three, and was an each-way steal.

Greenall may have got lucky but it looked a well-judged ride as the Walford horse cut down free-going leader Vercingetorix after the last to land the punt.

Things got even better in the next as I couldn't have Nine Altars, who simply isn't finishing his races off, Lightening Rod who has looked very awkward this season, or the heavily backed Boss Des Mottes, who is poor physically and has regressed under his current handler.

A horse that caught the eye a lifetime ago was Honourable Gent, who always used to travel well in his races and jumped like an old hand.

He was a big market drifter but I was in no doubt he was very fit indeed for this return from a lengthy absence and the odds were simply absurd in a race of this nature. His jumping was a delight to behold as he trotted up.

A very tricky looking handicap hurdle followed with Guitar Pete the most interesting on his first outing for N Richards.

A formerly useful hurdler in Ireland, he looked fit and well and probably should have won if given a more positive ride. This was one that got away but there's little doubt he retains much of his ability and the front two cleared away nicely after the last.

Following the victory of Applesandpierres, the Skeltons teamed up with Master Jake in the next after the frustrating withdrawal of Jovial Joey on account of the (soft!) ground.

They duly collected the double after Master Jake travelled by far the best throughout, hitting the front earlier than the jockey would have liked and pulling up in front when having the race won.

Global Dream looked well but ran a funny old race, dropping out early on and running in snatches thereafter, eventually posting a personal best. He looks a strong stayer, but they finished in a bit of a heap and I'd like to think Jovial Joey would have seen them all off.

For Instance was odds-on to beat three rivals in a staying novice but didn't convince in the paddock and hung all the way up the straight, suggesting he may not be straight forward either mentally or physically.

Neither he nor runner-up Quietly look well in on their current marks, for all that the latter should be much improved for fences and another summer off.

Pikarnia looked the most solid option in the closing stayers handicap even accounting for his 7lb rise and the fact he's merely marking time before going over fences.

However, after travelling well he couldn't get to Bankhall, who once again failed to impress in the prelims but backed up his solid form over timber this term, staying on more stoutly than in the past.

There wasn't much to shout about amongst the rags, however the Dobbin-trained Final Fling was not as straight as his stablemate earlier on the card and should do better next time after he ran on nicely into the places.