Thursday 29 October 2020

Thursday October 29

Further to my previous post regarding future plans, I can now reveal that I have teamed up with Josh Wright who you may know runs a successful website called Racing To Profit.

From Sunday, November 1 I will be posting daily tips from 9am which will sit alongside Josh's vast array of opinions and data research regarding that particular day's racing and also future action. A preview of what Josh will be up to in his member's section from Sunday is here.  

The sign-up fee will be £149.99 which sees you through to the end of the National Hunt season in April, with a free 30-day trial and money-back offer. 

In with that package you will also get my bi-monthly newsletter which you will be more familiar with, where I will be running through my paddock notes and opinions in a more forthright manner than I have been doing at Norm's Notebook for the past six years.

Obviously these are strange times and it will remain uncertain how many meetings I'm able to attend, however I've managed to get to seven tracks this month and hopefully it will be a similar story over the winter.

I don't know of any other professional able to gain access to the course at this current time, therefore I believe the information I am gathering is truly unique and I want to share that with you.

If you are not interested in joining the members club over at Racing To Profit, you may access my newsletters by clicking on the Paypal button I've added to the blog. I will send the newsletters to the email attached to your Paypal account.

If you pay by November 16 for the two letters next month, I will send you my notes from the whole of October taking in meetings at Hexham, Wetherby, Carlisle, Market Rasen and Aintree.

If you're interested, the sooner you pay for November, the sooner I can mail you my notes from October.

I will be adding a link to Josh's unique membership web page when he opens the doors at 9am on Sunday. 

On to today's racing at Stratford where I had a good look at the 2.06 (really???) which is a handicap chase and I came to the conclusion that the winner would likely come from the front two in the market.

They have been backed almost to the exclusion of everything else, which has come as no surprise, however there doesn't seem much value left at present as I was trying to back them both at around 9/2 which is 7/4 coupled, and we are now looking at 3/1 and 7/2.

Looking at their overall profiles, of the pair I do prefer Templehills for win purposes, although the two furlong drop in trip and potential battle for the lead tempers enthusiasm a little.

But the form of his win here over 2m5f last time looks okay with he and another well-handicapped horse pulling clear of the rest, he remains on a good mark and is clearly revived by the return to Naunton. Softer ground should not be an issue.

I really like another Twiston-Davies trained chaser later on the card, Summit Like Herbie. He's a quirky young horse who seems to jump well in the main despite having his own way of doing things, he does go left at his fences but has loads of stamina.

The form of his fine return to action has been boosted with the second and fourth dominating a race at Chepstow on Tuesday, and I fully expect Summit Like Herbie to have a bit too much class for these rivals before going on to better things.

In the 3.06 (really!!) filthy each-way backers may put their accounts on the line if backing the JJ O'Neill-trained When You're Ready to beat buzz-horse Champagnesuperover.

However, if you don't fancy taking on the jolly it might just be worth having a closer look at this son of Malinas, who caught my eye at Southwell last year and then shaped nicely on his hurdles debut.

Today may not be the day as he looks like a 2m4f+ chaser in the making, but if fully wound up he might just ruffle a few feathers.

Friday 9 October 2020

Sedgefield October 7

Whilst I will continue to update the public blog from time to time, with race previews and eye-catchers, the meeting-by-meeting analysis will now take the form of a bi-monthly newsletter at the cost of £15/month via the Paypal button.

I aim to make these updates more punchy, direct and informative than ever and will focus on the meetings I'm able to attend, as well as some I cannot. This service will start from November.

There will be more on this plus information regarding a new tipping service in the coming days. For now here is a taste of what is to come this winter... 

McGarry, winner of a weak Point just 12 months ago, revealed the nature of his true ability with a close-up fifth of seven at Haydock on his final start for Henry Oliver in December, which earned him an opening mark of 107 despite not being asked too many questions.

I’ve noted him several times in six runs for Phil Kirby, every inch a chaser being a strong, lengthy individual, and despite this being his third outing since the resumption he still looked on the burly side.

It has to be said he has shown very little since Haydock, however that will not stop connections from having a good go when the time is right. Just modestly bred, the son of Mahler may only be a 105-type horse at best, yet he is already down to 94 and about to drop a good bit further. 

They may look for a weak race over hurdles for him, however it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the money was down first time over fences when they will have a readymade excuse for the sudden burst of improvement. Kirby has fine record with chasers especially at the likes of Catterick and Wetherby. 

In the opening contest, a horse that used to be owned by the Vacuum Pouch Company and was indeed the subject of strong support by connections last season returned to action by the name of Kangaroo Valley.

A son of Australia, he cost a whopping $200k as a yearling but I wasn’t taken by his backward appearance that day at Catterick, when he was off the bridle with a circuit to go before plugging on to be fourth in a modest juvenile hurdle.

On his first start since last winter, the four-year-old looked to be carrying condition but should do better given time to strengthen up, showing little in what turned out to be a rather weak event even by the track’s standards.

Interestingly, the horse found a jolt of improvement with the addition of cheekpieces when trained at Ballydoyle, earning a mark of 90, so we can look forward to a similar scenario for new connections possibly when stepped up to 2m4f.

The trainer will be keen to get his mark down from the current 110 into the 90s, which will take another couple of runs.

In the same race, the Sue Smith-trained Small Present is one to keep on the right side after finishing full of running in second place, repeatedly messed about in the final mile thanks to some novicey leaps and a basic lack of tactical speed over a tight 2m.

Still not looking fully fit despite having shown plenty behind a future winner at Hexham the previous month, the son Presenting is a typical ‘work in progress’ from the yard although he’d need to grow further before a career over fences is considered.

There is no doubt that both his bumper and hurdles outings thus far suggest a decent horse in the making, however I would still expect him to make his mark in the shorter term providing he is stepped up to 2m4f.

He may struggle in deep winter ground given that he is still immature but he is clearly some way ahead of the rest of the stable’s winter team, suggesting they are hoping to make the most of the better ground this side of Christmas.

Returning to the third race on the card in which McGarry was down the field, the Smiths ran Blaster Yeats who hadn’t been seen since chasing home the well-handicapped Thomas MacDonagh at Wetherby last November.

I felt that was a massive run at the time from a young horse that was on the small side and quite backward, and was looking forward to seeing him in the flesh again.

It was rather disappointing to see that he hadn’t grown much, although a lot of Yeats progeny can lack for size. Like the other Smith horses I’ve seen so far (small sample) he did not look great in his coat and was a bit on edge.

The money came for him however, I suspect a result of having had a couple of shock novice hurdle winners recently the assumption is that the yard is ahead of where they are usually at for the time of year. I’d treat that view with some caution at this time.

Blaster Yeats showed up well for a long way prior to fading out of contention, however this is a horse I will be keeping a very close eye on going forward, hopefully he will take training well and gain some condition. The 2m3f was on the sharp side and I see him as improving over further when the freshness is out of him.

Raecius Felix is one to put in the locker for the spring. Immature mentally, he looked in fantastic condition prior to winning at Kelso the time before and I fancied him strongly to back that up with another win here, however he needed to dig deep to get past the well-handicapped Oak Vintage.

This Stowaway gelding had had a kind introduction to racing under Ruth Jefferson, which is only now bearing fruit for new connections. A very athletic individual, he’s quite fizzy and arguably ran up a little light here and the trainer told me she will now ease off him for the time being.

A fine and natural jumper, he is every bit a ‘Saturday horse’ of the future (in the north at least) and I have him on a mark of 132 following this performance, so another rise of 7lb or so should still leave some leeway.

He is thought to need good ground so whether they’ll keep him in training this winter with a view to picking their way through the better ground meetings I’m not sure.

While he has plenty of natural speed, as he matures and settles he will get 3m no problem, so we can look forward to seeing him continue to improve further in the spring at the Aintree and Ayr festivals.   

Runner-up Oak Vintage will also have to go back up half a stone but he has loads of leeway from here to his best form as he’s able to operate around the 120 mark. Although he was quietly fancied they felt, as did I, that he would benefit from the outing and I’d expect him to be winning before long.

It was very surprising that connections of Eyeofthescorpion chose to take on the fiendishly well-handicapped The Navigator in the closing race and not take up an easier option at Exeter the following day.

When winning at Huntingdon, it was clear to all that the further he went, the better he looked, so this drop in trip was a huge negative and he predictably couldn’t handle his main market rival in the closing stages.

He lost nothing in defeat, but will now have to race from a 7lb higher mark. No matter - I had already elevated him to a mark of 120 and the manner of that previous victory suggests he has bundles in hand and this good-looking, rangy individual will be back winning again before long, provided of course he returns to a trip of 2m4f and beyond.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Warwick - October 1

There will be plenty of opportunities to make money this month so just because the National Hunt season is ramping up and the 'horses to follow' publications are out in force, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The racing today at Warwick and Ffos Las looks very competitive and most of it makes little appeal from a betting perspective at first glance this morning.

The ground appears to be on the quick side at Warwick despite yesterday's rain - hopefully it will ride genuinely good and no faster otherwise we may see some non-runners.

The handicap chase at 2.20 is worth closer inspection.

Morning favourite Court Master is popular after winning twice in three starts last term, and is likely to remain well-handicapped based on his PTP (beat Jarvey's Plate) and bumper form.

However, he does shape like an out-and-out stayer to me, grinding out victory over 3m on soft ground at Newbury last December.    

He was highly-tried in the Timeform race at Cheltenham that worked out so well, but wasn't seen since and has had further wind surgery (his third on record) in the interim.

I can't see him getting anything other than a positive ride at a track where tactical speed can be important, particularly on this type of ground. I just wonder whether this will all happen too fast for him.

A couple I put a line through quite easily were Denmead and Global Tour. The former was useful but exposed on the Flat, and has overcome what has been described as a nervy temperament by landing a couple of novice hurdles. 

He's one of those Flat breds that does have the size for fences, but I doubt whether he has the mental capabilities, and he bled on his chase debut last time out. He has plenty to prove.

Global Tour has progressed through the ranks winning five hurdles before picking up a weak race on his first chase start. That form is shallow in the context of today's race, and his jumping went to pot at Perth last time.

Nightfly was a consistent mare at this sort of level but has only seen the track once in 18 months. I would, however, expect C Longsdon to have her pretty straight and she has won off this sort of mark.

That said she'll need a virtual PB today which looks a tall order given her lack of recent activity. B Hughes is an interesting booking with J Burke presumably claimed to ride Minella For Me.

The Tom George-trained 10-year-old is easily overlooked, being a rather weak finisher and his triumphs coming in a lower grade.

We are therefore left with Bootlegger, who arrives with a huge fitness advantage over all bar Global Tour, having shaped nicely over timber last time out in a competitive race at Perth.

A nice chasing type, he was jumping very nicely until a mistake four out at Worcester this time last year, after which he came home in his own time. A two month absence suggests he may have picked up a niggle.

Thereafter he found his form returned to hurdles, winning at Doncaster before running a sound race at Kempton in a really competitive C2 event.

The sort to benefit from a run or two, I'm expecting him to produce a career best effort today with his sound jumping technique an asset, rather than a drawback.

If the going is as lively as predicted he'll need Court Master to set good fractions, as he appears to be a strong galloper that wouldn't be seen to best effect coming off a slow pace. 

On balance, and despite a patchy profile overall, it looks to me as though Bootlegger has been found a good opportunity off top weight having sneaked into this 0-125 contest, off a mark that is 4lb lower than when he went close over hurdles last time.

UNFORTUNATELY...the odds have moved since I started writing this piece half an hour ago and as of 10am Bootlegger is 3/1 best price which is at the lower end of expectations.

At nearer 4/1 (or 5 on the machine) I'll be looking to back the horse, who is ridden by H Cobden for the first time. Court Master is the obvious threat with Nightfly the possible value play against the two market principals should they fail to meet expectations.