Prince Of Scars Could Land RSA Crown

We’re only just entering the very early stages of the National Hunt season but there’s already whispers of the Cheltenham Festival after a very enjoyable Cheltenham Showcase meeting.

One of the most enjoyable betting feelings (although it nearly always ends in tears) is taking fancy prices about a horse early in the season and then sitting smugly as it continues to shorten until the day of the race, should it actually make it unscathed, at Cheltenham.

It carries obvious risks and isn’t always the greatest money-making scheme, though there are definite reasons to suggest singles and perhaps doubles, could be worth pursuing if you think the price is right.

One horse in particular who could be worth following en route to The Festival is Gordon Elliot’s Prince Of Scars. The former classy hurdler looks set to embark on a Novices’ Chase campaign this season and after showing plenty of ability last year, he looks interesting in the big races at Cheltenham.

However, if you are contemplating a punt on the horse, be prepared for the fact he will only run, should the ground be sufficiently soft. Cheltenham in March is a question mark, as we have seen extremely heavy or rattling quick, so that has to be something to bear in mind.

Still, if you are committed to the cause, then the current 33/1 for the RSA Chase could prove to be very tempting. Those towards the head of the market have plenty of question marks about potential engagements over hurdles/fences, 2m4f & 3m, so it could be a race to steer clear of, if you’re not overly fond of taking a risk.

Prince Of Scars made a rather inauspicious start to maiden hurdling, though his runner-up effort in a Listed Hurdle on his second start over the obstacles suggested he had some ability. He was put away for a decent break after switching to the Gordon Elliott yard and that seemed to do the trick, as he has since won three of his four races.

He won a handicap hurdle a shade cosily on his first start for the yard before showing battling qualities, to follow up soon after in a thrilling finish at Navan. His home work must have suggested he was worth a go in better company as he was seemingly tossed in the deep end in the Grade One Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown in late December.

The Heavy ground seemed to work in his favour as he travelled beautifully before pulling clear of genuine top quality animals, Alpha Des Obeaux, Martello Tower and Arctic Fire.

He swerved Cheltenham and waited for the subsequent softer ground at Aintree where he ran on well without ever threatening Thistlecrack and Shaneshill. 0pair are real Grade One animals, so finishing as close as he did was a solid effort.

The scope he possesses and his action over hurdles, suggest he may be suited to fences and in a recent interview, Gordon Elliot suggested he is looking forward to the soft ground so he can get Prince Of Scars back out.

Elliott is usually brilliant at finding an opportunity for a horse early on and if he can show he get round in style, the 33/1 for the RSA may well shorten. All things being well, we will be treated to a wetter Cheltenham this season and this lad may well turn up as a real contended in the RSA.


1pt e.w – RSA Chase – Prince Of Scars @ 33/1 (bet365)


Best Premier League Bets 16/17

The Premier League returns in just over a week and having finally settled down in the aftermath of France’s disappointing Euro defeat (see last post); we’re back and ready to look forward at domestic football once again.

Antoine Griezmann’s heroic effort has ensured we should be heading into the new season with a bit of extra cash to use, so why not make the most of the ante-post markets and try and snaffle some season-long value?

There are a whole host of markets, more than we’ve ever had to enjoy before, yet it may pay to stick down the traditional route and cover Premier League title winner and Top Goalscorer markets to begin with, before moving on to special markets at a later date.

Cup competitions can often be a huge question mark, which each individual manager having their own opinion on how to set-up their sides in-terms of strength, so it may be best left until we see how the new managers bed in during the early rounds.

So, without further ado, onto the Premier League 2016/17 season!

Premier League Outright – Chelsea @ 13/2 (Various)

Firstly, we’ll start with the Premier League outright market in what looks the most competitive season in possibly the history of the league. Usually, there will be a short-price favourite with perhaps one or maybe two sides that could realistically challenge them.

(Excluding last season, which was just an anomaly for so many reasons…)

However this season we have Manchester City, worthy favourites with the addition of Pep Guardiola and recent strong signings in Gundogan and Sane.

Then, ‘The Special One’ returns with the unenviable task of returning Manchester United to their perch, yet the signings of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and Bailly with the potential for further (cough *Pogba* cough), as well as the emerging talents of Rashford and Martial.

They have to be serious contenders for the title, while Arsenal and Spurs are always there or thereabouts and both Chelsea and Liverpool can concentrate on solely the Premier League, with no European football as a distraction. Oh, and Leicester could retain the title? Though, not for me.

For me, the prices reflect the Manchester side’s chances fairly well at the head of the market but the value may lie with Chelsea.

Liverpool’s tremendous title challenge when they last had European football showed the benefit of having a week to prepare for games and this is what they and Chelsea will get to enjoy this year. Klopp’s Reds are a work-in-progress and he may need another year until he fully beds in his philosophy.

However Chelsea’s new manager, Antonio Conte, is walking in to a solid unit, who began to realise their roles towards the back-end of last season. They lacked discipline at times and their key players struggled to make an impact early on, however with time to prepare for their big weekend games and the new regimented approach from Conte, Chelsea have to be real challengers,

Michy Batshuayi adds an extra dimension to the side, as does N’Golo Kante, while the potential move for Kalidou Koulibaly and Romelu Lukaku would further add to the strength of the side. There is less emphasis on depth this year, without Europe to focus on, and as we seen with Conte’s Italy side during the Euros, he can form a side that are extremely hard to break down and very hard to contain on the counter.

Nemanja Matic was rather underwhelming in the system used by Chelsea last season but given Conte’s love for a holding midfielder, it would be no surprise to see him build on his earlier promise in a Chelsea shirt.

He is fantastic at breaking up play and provides the stability for the creative midfielders, such as Fabregas and also box-to-box midfielders, such as Kante, to go about and complete their roles to the best of their ability.

Diego Costa is a solid enough striking option, those it would be no surprise to see him used in the same way Pelle was for Italy, creating for the likes of Eden Hazard who will be coming from midfield/out wide.

Last season’s transitional phase will have been a real wake-up call and now with a solid base to start from and no European football to take precedence, Chelsea look value to win the Premier League  at 13/2.

Premier League Top Goalscorer – Daniel Sturridge @ 25/1 (Various)

Next up is the Top Goalscorer market and as usual, it’s headed by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. If the awesome Argentinian stays fit for the entire season he is sure to be there or thereabout come the end of the year, yet with his fitness issues, is it worth taking a rather short price?

It is often worth taking a gamble on fitness, given injury can strike at any stage, yet with our selection, that eventuality appears to have been factored into the price.

The man, of course, is Daniel Sturridge.

Liverpool’s main man has a record of injuries and fitness issues but given when fit, he will almost certainly be Liverpool’s lone striker (supported by two wide men) he looks outstanding value at 25.1,

There is no doubting his superb finishing and natural goalscoring ability and now that Liverpool can focus solely on the league, Jurgen Klopp wont have to balance out his playing time between league and European games. He can manage his star striker, with only one game a week in-store and this may well be key to getting the best out of Sturridge,

There is no questioning his best season came back when Liverpool came within touching distance of winning the league (scoring 21 PL goals) and it was that season when he enjoyed his most consistent spell of playing time.

Liverpool weren’t in Europe and he had a nice break between games which seemed to bode well for his fitness. If Klopp can reproduce this again, now the Reds aren’t in Europe, then Sturridge could be the man to guide Liverpool bac into the Champions League.

Coutinho, Firmino and Origi, as well as the new signings, all offer a creative talent that is likely to ensure Sturridge receives plenty of service and as such, he should be able to make his presence felt towards the top of the goalscorer tables.

At 25/1 he looks big enough to take a chance on and if he stays fit for a large part of the season, it would be a surprise if he were not to at least go close to landing each-way money.


Chelsea to win the Premier League 16/17 @ 13/2 (Various)

Daniel Sturridge to be Premier League top goalscorer (each-way) in 16/17 @ 25/1 (Various)

The Grand National – Ante-Post Preview

In a little over two months time, the nation will unite for the one day a year where horse-racing takes centre stage.

The Grand National never fails to draw a mass worldwide crowd, and betting shops fill up with the ‘one race a year punters’ who love to have their pennies on a mount in the Aintree spectacular.

With 40 runners likely to line-up, it is always incredibly difficult to select the winner, as so much can happen across the four and a half mile venture, with 30 obstacles to negotiate.

However, at this time there are plenty of value bets to get stuck into, and hopefully you will be able to watch the price drop and drop until the day of the big race, which makes it all the sweeter.

Obviously we have less to work with at this stage, such-as we don’t know the official weight, whether they will get to the race in top shape etc, but this is all reflected in the price.

Feeling Bleu;

Unfortunately, my biggest fancy for the race would have been the consistent Cappa Bleu who has gone close in the previous two years, however he has been ruled out of the big race after picking up a knock. Trainer Evan Williams has stated a bid for the 2015 Grand National to be on the cards, but unfortunately he will miss what looked set to be a great opportunity.

Tea for me;

However, Wales will still be very well represented in the race, with last year’s third placed finisher Teaforthree lining up again for another crack at the big race.

He looks ideally suited to the stamina test at Aintree, and proved his capabilities in handling the track when putting in an inch perfect round of jumping, before staying on at one pace towards the end of the race.

The fact he has never fallen on a racecourse is a major plus, as the Aintree fences, although having been amended over the last few years, still take no prisoners. There are no stamina doubts for the 10-y-o, and his added touch of class may well prove extremely hard to peg back.

A sold run in the Welsh National in December will have acted as a perfect blowout, and the performance was enough to show he has retained his ability, and he should well be able to outrun his current 25/1 odds.

Time to Walkon;

Alan King is yet to win the Aintree feature, however he knows what it takes to win a big race, having landed last year’s Scottish National with Godsmejudge who is currently 33/1 for the English equivalent.

However the Barbury Castles handler is double handed in this year’s race, and it’s his other intended runner, Walkon, which is of more interest.


The 9-y-o grey excels in big field races, and looks the ideal candidate to attack the obstacles at Aintree. His last visit to the Grand National meeting was a semi-successful effort, finishing runner-up in the Topham Chase, over the National course last year. This effort is enough to instill effort in the punters who know the gelding can handle the unique Aintree obstacles, and if he has retained any of his previous class he should be able to mount a serious challenge.

He disappointed on his last visit to Merseyside, unseating when favourite for the Old Roan chase in October. He makes his re-appearance on Saturday in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham, and a good run there could see his price shorten severely. The 66/1 currently on offer looks very generous, and if he manages to line-up safe and sound come April, there is no way he will be the same price.


Teaforthree @ 25/1 (Various)

Walkon @ 66/1 (Various)

Cheltenham Festival – Ante-Post Lucky 15

With the National Hunt season beginning to gather momentum, now seems as good a time as any to get stuck into a juicy Lucky-15, so we can (hopefully) watch the prices fall in the build-up to the festival come March.

Gold Cup; Sir Des Champs (7/1)

Willie Mullins always seems to hit top form around March, as he descends on Prestbury with a flurry of top-class thoroughbreds.

However the Gold Cup is the one prize that has constantly eluded him. He has often played down the inevitable achievement, and he bids to break the voodoo in 2014 with last year’s runner-up, Sir Des Champs.

The 7-y-o has ran three times at Cheltenham, winning twice and finishing behind Bobs Worth in last year’s big race. He is extremely consistent and has never ran a bad race, thus far in his career.

Mullins will be hoping for enough improvement to help him give Bobs Worth a good battle coming up the hill in four months time. Regular rider Davy Russell was missing from last year’s Gold Cup due to an injury he had picked up earlier in the week. AP McCoy was an able deputy, but he always seems to find more for Russell, and the 7/1 on offer looks far too big for such a consistent sort, with there a slim chance of any real surprise packages over the course of the season.

RSA Chase; Wonderful Charm (16/1)

Wonderful Charm has always been held in high regard by the Paul Nicholls’ stable and he has shown nothing but class since stepping up to the bigger obstacles.

He made a big impression when coming over from France, landing the Grade Two Persian Punch, Novices’ Hurdle by a comfortable six-lengths, before falling short in the World Hurdle.

He was well-fancied on his chasing bow, and Daryl Jacob oozed confidence as his mount jumped expertly, pulling away from a short but select field. He made it two from two with a beautiful round of jumping and a marvellous attitude at Wincanton, which has seemingly cemented his target as the RSA come March.

The current 16/1 looks massive considering the scope for improvement the gelding has, and the fact he’s performing with such credit with Nicholls’ stable not in particularly great form.

If he carries on his firm upward curve, his jumping will put him bang in contention at Prestbury Park and the 16/1 won’t last too long, and he may well go off single figures come March.

cheltenham racecourse

Arkle; Grandouet (14/1)

Nicky Henderson’s high-class hurdler is looking to make a seamless transition to bigger obstacles after proving his class over hurdles over the past few years.

His sketchy jumping has plagued his career so far, and he failed to complete the round on his chasing bow, unseating at the last fence after being keen early on.

However, when the pace picked up he became a lot more fluent and he was massively in need of the run, so I wouldn’t worry too much about his performance at Sandown.

He is a very strong traveller who comes alive at Cheltenham, never being out of the first three when completing the course. Bookmakers have overreacted with his price-drift and he should still be single figures, with only Champagne Fever (who we are still yet to see over fences), shorter in the betting.

The pace is sure to be electric at the festival and this will allow him to get into a rhythm, which will sort out his jumping woes. He is sure to have a light campaign to ensure he gets to the race in top condition and his price should be a lot shorter on the day, providing he turns up unharmed.

World Hurdle; At Fishers Cross (4/1)

The shortest price of the lucky-15 looks set to be many peoples idea of a ‘banker’ outside of the obvious choice of Sprinter Sacre.

The 6-y-o looked like a horse to follow when beating (the new Champion Hurdle favourite) The New One in a Grade Two at Cheltenham in January, before going on to land the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in brilliant style.

He signed off the season with a commanding performance in a Grade One at Aintree, seeing it out best of all to win by a comfortable eight lengths.

He shot straight to the head of the 2014 World Hurdle market, alongside Big Bucks. Big Bucks is without doubt a superstar, but there has too be question marks about how much of his ability he will retain and how fresh he will be on the day.

Solwhit is undoubtedly a class-act but he isn’t getting any younger, and outside of this there isn’t really anyone that could get near At Fishers Cross if the ground comes up soft. Although the 4/1 isn’t the biggest price to be throwing into an ante-post bet, given the circumstances that may occur throughout the season, he looks good enough to boost the odds of the roll-up significantly.


Lucky 15; 0.5 points e.w 

Gold Cup; Sir Des Champs – 7/1

RSA; Wonderful Charm – 16/1

Arkle; Grandouet – 14/1

World Hurdle; At Fishers Cross – 4/1


0.25 e.w roll-up @ 10199/1