Tag Archives: Betting

Cheltenham Festival 2019 – Tuesday Selections

The Festival

“It’s Christmas for horse racing fans…” they said in the radio this morning. How true a statement this is! Particularly the opening  Tuesday is arguably the finest day the sport has to offer. This year is no different with the renewal of the Champion Hurdle shaping like a race for the ages.

Enjoy the sport and bet responsibly… a mantra we’ll also hear often this week. One I personally can’t emphasize enough: you don’t need to have a bet in every single race in order to love the magnificent show on offer over the next few days. In fact, you probably shouldn’t if you want to maximize your winnings.

Cheltenham is incredibly competitive. Horses are primed to run for their life. That should ensure enough opportunities to find value in the market. But: there are also plenty of races where little secrets are hidden. The never ending trail of preview nights, the mere fact that every little piece of information is chewed endless times now, means few details are still hidden from plain sight come Tuesday half past one.

It’s gonna be a much better strategy to identify those races where a few things are up in the air, where you find question marks about runners, particularly those near the top end of the betting, and where form is more difficult to judge for the random betting folk.

And most importantly: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s four days. It’s not the end of the world leaving Tuesday without a winner. A 20/1 shot in the Grand Annual could swing the pendulum right back into profit.

……..

1.30: Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2m½f

There is little wrong with favourite Al Dancer. In fact, he is a bigger price I would have expected. What I don’t like about him is the fact you can easily question the value of his Betfair Hurdle success. It’s his best piece of form, he did it nicely, but so would have done most in this field.

Furthermore, Al Dancer is a rather free going sort, spotting a hood the last two times for that reason. Given the nature of the Supreme, there’s a relevant question to be asked: could the occasion get to him?

Lightly raced Angels Breath will have learned plenty from his recent Kempton runner-up performance. He is clearly talented having won a Grade 2 on his rules debut. Only two starts under his belt is a major concern, though.

The hype horse, judging the market and social media, is clearly Willie Mullins’ charge Klassical Dream. Easy to see why: he stepped up from a maiden to win a Grade 1, beating a well fancied stable mate. He’s a class act. I’ve slight reservations, though, over the likely soft ground, even though most feel he’ll be suited by it given he knows it from France. Let’s see that firsthand tomorrow.

I love the attitude of Elixir De Nutz. The Tolworth Hurdle winner goes for a four-timer. He’s a front-runner, though. It’ll be tough to make all in the Supreme.

Certainly not the forgotten horse, but the hype has slowed: Fakir D’oudairies. The only 4-year-old in the field. He looks quite forward, however, as you would expect for a French import.

He’s got experience on his side, looks physically strong, and JP McMaus took a punt on him after a 13 lengths romping over course and distance in January. He followed up on a fair maiden success at Cork, on his first start for Joseph O’Brien.

The form of both races is debatable. Nonetheless, the impression Fakir D’oudairies gave here at Cheltenham, leaving a rather decent 147 rated Adjali well behind him, is one of a significant talent. The weight allowance he gets is a massive help as well. Soft ground is sure to suit – I feel Fakir D’oudairie is the one to beat.

Selection:
10pts win – Fakir D’oudairie @ 13/2 MB

…….

2.50: Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase, 3m 1f

I missed the hype train, regardless, I remain firmly in the Willie Mullins camp here: Up For Review is still a tasty price at 10’s. He’s already a ten-year-old, but quite lightly raced for his age, with scope to improve over fences.

He was quite a good hurdler back in the day, given he won a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle and was 148 rated – he’s 2lb lower rated over fences currently and comes here with an incredibly strong piece of recent form to his name.

After a good 17/18 season as a novice, resulting in two wins, he made his seasonal reappearance in the Gowran Thyestes Chases. Up For Review was trailing the pace, which wasn’t an advantage that day. He jumped well, made stylish progress throughout but couldn’t match the speed of the eventual winner and runner-up, and probably got a little bit tired in the end as well.

However, a third place behind Gold Cup contender Invitation Only rates quite strongly, now returning to a handicap, with ground and trip likely to suit – even though he has slight stamina questions to answer as the last time at Cheltenham, in the 2016 World Hurdle, he was pulled up.

I’m aware Willie Mullins is yet to win this race, so that is a slight concern, whether his horses are in the right weight bracket to be successful. However it’s a new year and I strongly believe Up For Review is on a mark he’s well able to defy, as long as he gets home over 3 miles and the additional furlong.

Selection:
10pts win – Up For Review @ 10.5/1 WH

………..

4.10: Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle, 2m 4f

Benie Des Dieux is a poor favourite here. Yes, Willie Mullins has done it before, but this mare isn’t Quevega. Quite clearly she didn’t have the preparation connections had in mind and you can know holes into her form left, right and center.

I’m feeling a little bit uneasy backing her stable mate, running the same colours as well. But on ratings there is nothing between Benie Des Dieux and Limini. On official ratings there is a single pound separating them. And that despite Limini not having been at her best lately.

However Limini’s highest RPR is a 158 compared to Benie Des Dieux’s 152. Limini will need to find back to her best. Potentially she can do that at Cheltenham where she excelled in the past. Her 4th place finish behind Presenting Percy when last seen rates fair form too, albeit over 3 miles rather than the shorter 2.5 miles.

The ground will suit her tomorrow, and in truth, the fact she ran incredibly well, in fact winning, on the flat during the summer, currently rated a 103 there, shows she is still high class.

Selection:
10pts win – Limini @ 9/1 WH

…….

4.50: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, 2m 4f

While I can clearly see the case being made for favourite A Plus Tard, he’s short enough in the betting. The two I favour here will both enjoy the cut in the ground while having some high class form to their name already, though, it seems less appreciated by the market.

Highway One O One is an experiences sort, who travels and jumps well, usually right up with the pace, who remains unexposed over this trip as well.

He was found out in graded company, but ran a massive race on handicap debut over course and distance here back in January. He made all from the front, setting a strong gallop while jumping for fun and was only caught with two out by classy Kildisart who is now a leading JLT chance.

Red Indian is the other one who appears overpriced. H seems harshly judged on his latest effort when unseating his rider as a 1/4 favourite. True, it’s not an ideal preparation; on the other hand he showed plenty of promise earlier, as his 4th place, albeit a good deal beaten, behind La Bague Au Roi, Topofthegame and Santini, leaving a subsequent Grade 2 winner a long way behind him, also.

He drops in trip here and it remains to be seen whether he has the pace. Every inch of rain will be appreciated, that is for sure. Nonetheless his 131 TS rating is the best on offer here, so at the price it’s worth to take the risk.

Selection:
5pts win – Red Indian @ 22/1 MB
5pts win – Highway One O One @ 13/1 MB

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Saturday Selections: March, 9th 2019

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2.25 Sandown: G3 Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle, 2m

I was incredibly taken by Malaya’s return to the track three weeks ago at Ascot for the first since December after falling subsequently twice. The mare wasn’t fancied at all as a 20/1 shot but outran her price tag by a wide margin.

The five-year-old travelled much the best for the majority of the race, jumping well and making stylish progress in the closing stages. She didn’t get the clearest of runs two out but also seemed to tire significantly jumping the last, without being too many too hard questions asked either way.

Malaya is down to a handy mark and the way she travelled the last time indicates a drop to 2 miles will suit. So should the slower ground. In a race that does look for the taking she has a massive chance.

Selection:
10pts win – Malaya @ 5/1 MB

………

2.40 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Novice Stakes, 8.5f

Last season in hands of Roger Varian, Nawar tracked in the right direction, looking like a horse that’s close to get his head in front. His last two pieces of form in Handicaps at Kempton over a mile are rock solid form and his second- and third placed efforts are to be upgraded taking into context how the races unfolded.

He changed yards since, off the track over the winter, and now first time out for Martin Bosley, back in a Novice race. I suspect he’s fit for this outing with George Wood booked.

The slight step up in trip sure suit, no doubt. Nawar hasn’t too much to fear in this race in my book also as he is the most experienced in the field, while the others don’t look world beaters either.

Selection:
10pts win – Nawar @ 6/1 MB

…….

4.25 Wolverhampton: Class 2 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Not particularly original in the context of the race, but Corinthia Knight is the obvious selection here. He got close in a handful of hot sprints in recent weeks, ever since he won off his current mark over 5f at Lingfield.

His last two performances, particularly when beaten by only a neck by Royal Birth, rates the strongest piece of form here, I feel. The winner had an absolute dream run, Corinthia Knight not quite so much.

Having the opportunity to race off 105 once more, even though stepping up to 6f, which should not be an issue whatsoever, given he’s a 3x distance winner as well as having course form, Corinthia Knight looks poised for finding his way back to the winners circle.

Selection:
10pts win – Corinthia Knight @ 11/2 WH

Saturday Selections: March, 2nd 2019

National Hunt Fence

1.30 Newbury: Class 3 Handicap Hurdle, 2m 4f 118y

Nico de Boinville for Ben Pauling over hurdles at Newbury…. an interesting combination. A winning one, history tells us. They team up here with A Hare Breath. The veteran has question to answers after poor showings lately.

Nonetheless, fitted with CP for the first time, dropping significantly in the weights into an easier race, with conditions to suit, he should have on based on that a tremendous chance to win this race.

Obviously only if he is still in the mood. We probably will know soon after the start whether he is on a going day. At given prices I feel it is a fair risk to take.

Selection:
10pts win – A Hare Breath @ 6/1 MB

………

3.00 Doncaster: Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, 3m½f

Danse Idol has top form in the book as runner-up in graded company. She could prove hard to beat if she takes to the trip over this fast ground.

I feel she is short enough in the betting and red hot mare Bonza Girls offers better value. 5-5 in handicaps this season, she is improving rapidly. This is a higher grade and she has to improve again.

However, given she tries 3 miles for the first time, a distance that could suit and may well eke out more improvement, given she has been very game in her races, always running well to the line, it is possible we haven’t seen her best yet.

Selection:
10pts win – Bonza Girl @ 5/1 MB

……..

3.35 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap Chase, 3m 2f

Given form and ratings, Dingo Dollar offers plenty of upside and looks a shade overpriced in this race. On the surface he was slightly disappointing in the Listed Skybet Handicap Chase here at Doncaster recently, however that form as well as his run in the Grade 3 Landbrokes Chase were strong races.

This looks easier. The trip will suit. The additional furlong should be to his aid. Off 148 back in a handicap I feel there is still a bit more to come.

It’s Wayne Hutchinson’s only ride on the card also. He knows the horse well already, which is a bonus.

Selection:
10pts win – Dingo Dollar @ 4/1 PP

…….

7.30 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 6 furlongs

Real Estate is clearly in good form as his last performances suggest. He also remains handicapped to go close again. He may have better form over 7f, however he can be keen over that trip, and his latest runs over the shorter trip are promising.

Those races look like rock solid form, he’s also rated a pound below his last winning mark right now. There doesn’t seem to be too much pace on in this race today, so from a good draw there is fair chance he’ll be well positioned to make a break turning for home, playing out his extra bit of stamina in the closing stages.

Callum Shepherd comes here for this one ride only; let’s hope he can make this one a winning one.

Selection:
10pts win – Real Estate @ 10/1 PP

Wednesday Selections: February, 27th 2019

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7.30 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3f

Monsieur Fox is still a maiden, but the gelding has outran in half of his lifetime starts his SP, and therefore market expectation, quite considerably. He did so in January running to a career best 3rd place finish here at Kempton as well as a 44/1 BSP chance.

Consistency is the question: can he back up the latest performance? Monsieur Fox didn’t only outran his price tag but also the track bias that day, as the 10f trip at Kempton heavily favours the speed horses. He, though, was held up and turned widest home, finishing strongly eventually.

That form looks strong with the runner-up winning subsequently a race that has also worked out well already.

This will only be his 4th All-Weather start, he also remains on the same 55 handicap mark, with a better draw and a trip over a fairer course and distance, with champion jockey Luke Morris in the saddle, there is a good chance for a repeat performance which could be enough to see Monsieur Fox go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Monsieur Fox @ 14/1 MB

Monday Selection: February, 24th 2019

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7.55 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f

If not for his running style that frequently sees him finding trouble when it matters most getting clear passage, King of Naples would have won more often than he has to date. There is no denying he is well in here, particularly now dropping down to class 6.

One only has to re-watch his latest efforts, particularly the penultimate one over course and distance, where he was cantering all over the field but simply couldn’t get a run. Last time out, when last of 11, the bare form looks worse than it is, as King of Naples was simply carried out wider and wider which killed off his chances.

And that is the main issue: he needs the breaks in the closing stages. If King of Naples can get finally a run through, he’ll hammer this field I’m pretty sure. He certainly has the aid of a top man in the saddle, who comes here for this one ride only also.

Selection:
10pts win – King of Naples @ 8/1 PP

Sunday Jumps: February, 24th 2019

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As the start to 2019 has been quite tough, it’s delightful for the mind when getting it (finally) right. Southfield Stone (10/1) did that quite nicely yesterday to land the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, despite the little fright a the end. He looks a nice prospect, though maybe will turn out to be an even better chase?

That’s a second winner this week (Zylan, 7/1, Thursday) – but of course what sticks in my little head is the one that got away: Gendarme on Friday at Lingfield, ahead before and after the line, it would have been the well needed ‘big one’….

Anyway, better to focus on what’s ahead. Cheltenham, obviously. Trials Day at Naas today for a starter. I’m more interested in the Handicaps there and have a selection (see below), otherwise I am all geared up getting my trends, stats and tissues ready for this one week of craziness that is approaching rather rapidly now!

……

4.35 Naas: Handicap Chase, 3 miles

I quite like the favourite Mon Lino back over fences of his lower mark here, but at the same time he is hard to trust and not a backable price.

Much more interesting is King’s Son, who is also back over fences and who could find ideal conditions to return to form. The nine-year-old changed yard over the winter and hasn’t shown much in his first two starts for the Broad yard, but over hurdles and 2 miles he was never in it to win it.

His latest 4th place finish in the Cross-Country at Punchestown is a clear return to some sort of good form, on the other hand. And now down to a mark of 111, he appears to be weighted to go close. His UK form from last summer in particular gives him a significant chance here, if in the mood.

Ground and trip are absolutely ideal and 7lb claiming Kevin Brogan looks a good prospect in the saddle, his claim is a big bonus today I feel. This does not look an overly competitive race, so it could be a fine bit of placing by his new trainer.

Selection:
10pts win – King’s Son @ 15/2 MB

………

4.55 Fontwell: Maiden NHF, 2m1½f

Normally not my type of race, however, I do feel quite strongly about the chance of Thunderstruck as he is overpriced here. He was quite an expensive purchase, is clearly well bread and ran promising on his rules debut at the end of last year at Sandown.

That form isn’t particularly strong, but the Fame And Glory gelding should have learned plenty that day. The tough going was clearly not to his likening then, so he’ll likely enjoy the return to much better ground today.

It’s the only ride for Aiden Coleman and the only runner for trainer Emma Lavelle today also. I feel Thunderstruck should be closer matched in the market to the two leading principles.

Selection:
10pts win – Thunderstruck @ 9/2 MB

Saturday Jumps: February, 23rd 2019

Cheltenham Festival

3.00 Kempton: Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, 2m

The favourite Angels Breath is backed as if defeat is out of question, and he may well be too good for these after an excellent UK debut winning a Grade 2 recently. However the ground looks completely different today and he’s meeting with Southfield Stone a 140 rated individual.

This Southfield Stone looks the main danger in my eyes. He’s taken well to his hurdles, ran with loads of credit the last few times, including the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle. He’s already won twice, and more importantly he enjoys fast ground.

The last two times, also when a fair runner-up behind exciting Bold Plan, came on much softer ground that it’s going to be encountered today. And while it’s difficult to place Southfield Stone at the moment, he’s the one I fancy at given prices today.

Selection:
10pts win – Southfield Stone @ 10/1 MB

…….

4.50 Chepstow: Class 5 Handicap Chase, 2m

A poor race with only a few having a realistic chance to feature. The favourite is vulnerable, so I happily take a punt on top weight Modeligo who drops to a tasty mark as well as in class.

The 10-year-old won this very race a couple of years ago of his current mark. He hasn’t been too good lately, though a small break and first time blinkers applied could change fortunes.

Modeligo’s runner-up performance when last seen over this 2 miles trip, back in September at Utoxeter off 7lb higher, is the key piece of form for me, given he also enjoys this type of ground more than most others in this field do.

Selection:
10pts win – Modeligo @ 9.5/1 MB