Five To Follow On The Flat – 2017

The flat season got underway at Doncaster last Saturday and as has become customary, we’re going to take a look at five horses to follow on the level.

There won’t be appearances from the obvious elite, such as Churchill or Caravaggio from the Aidan O’Brien camp, though hopefully we’ll still find a few winners.

SIR DANCEALOT (3yo colt – D R Elsworth)

Finishing ninth in an average Windsor maiden at 33/1 was a rather inauspicious start Sir Dancealot’s career.

However he has gone from strength to strength and developed into an animal of huge potential.

There was plenty of smart money for the colt on his second start and he duly obliged, showing a nice turn of foot to score impressively at Kempton.

He followed up in a Conditions race at the same venue comfortably seeing off four decent rivals despite being keen.

Questions were raised about whether or not he would be able to transfer that form onto the turf and those were in answered in some style, with a huge run at HQ.

This time he was held up towards the rear before making smooth headway under soon-to-be champion jockey, Jim Crowley. He didn’t show a turn of foot and flattened out into a very close third behind two very useful animals.

The fourth horse has subsequently won a Group Three in style, which franked the form well.

Sir Dancealot stayed on well to land a Listed race over 6f on his next start, handling the drop back in trip well, before finishing a one paced fifth in the Racing Post Trophy.

This day he moved nicely but couldn’t really sustain the effort, so it will interesting to see how he is campaigned.

A break will have seen him strengthen so he will be of interest stepped back up to a mile (his dam was a daughter of Danehill Dancer) but he has the potential to make his presence felt should he stick to 6f/7f.

CORONET (3yo filly – J Gosden)

This one may not have crept under the radar of many but she still ranks as one of the most exciting fillies’ in training.

Coronet was well supported on debut and still managed to land the spoils despite running very green.

She ran on strongly to pick it up before idling in front. It didn’t look overly impressive but it left the impression there was plenty more to come.

She was brought back for the Listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, where she maintained her unbeaten record, grinding past a race-hardened rival, who was rated 92.

This was a lot more eye-catching as she was steadied towards the start before making steady headway over two furlongs out. Despite being bumped, she picked up smartly to win by a neck.

It was a big effort considering it was just her second start and she is bred to appreciate a trip. She looks a nice filly for the Oaks and could be one to keep an eye one ahead of all the top 10f-12f fillies races this season.

MASTER BLUEYES (4yo – A King)

A long term plot is something that gets plenty of punters excited and with this in mind, Master Blueyes makes the list.

Alan King’s grey made a rather inauspicious start to life on the level as a 2yo before seemingly strengthening up the following year.

He scored at York (this will come to be important) on his first start as a 3yo, staying on best of all over 12f, before following up by the narrowest of margins at Chester.

The rest of the season was spent hitting the crossbar in staying races around the country, including two more nice runs on the Knavesmire.

He finished fifth in the Melrose Stakes before he was punted off the boards when he returned to the track in October. He went off fav and was mighty close to landing the gamble, only just going down by a head from Calvinist.

This was off a mark of 84 and this was his last start on the flat. He was stuffed on his debut over hurdles (listed race at Wetherby), though a mistake at the first may have been enough to dent his confidence that day.

His next four runs seen him finish second to the highly rated Charli Parcs, a neck second to the very talented Divin Bere and two wide-margin wins, including a Grade 2 at Kempton.

He was slightly taken off his feet when going off well fancied for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, though he is much better than his tenth place finish.

Tiredness set in when a mistake at the last ended hopes of a better final position. Still, it was a superb run of efforts and best of all, his mark on the flat now looks very attractive.

He looks tailor-made for a crack at the Ebor and although he won’t be under the radar for long, it could be long enough to get a nice price for August at York, which could be the plan.

NAGGERS (6yo – P Midgely)

This is the first (and last) of the five runners that have already appeared this season, yet that run should give even more hope that he’s one to follow.

Midgely does very well with a select group of sprinters and it looks as though Naggers is progressing with age.

After almost a year off the track, he managed to claim three wins in just six starts last season, culminating in a battling victory at Ayr.

He snuck in off a nice mark of 84 in a competitive handicap at Doncaster on the second day of the Lincoln meeting, shaping very nicely indeed.

Positioned towards the rear by Paul Mulrennan, the 6yo sliced between runners with his rider motionless.

After meeting slight trouble in running, he picked up smartly when asked a question, running on well to finish a fairly unlucky fourth.

He has form on ground racing from good to soft, so there is no qualms with conditions. He looks as though he could have a nice prize in him and a return to Ayr later in the season wouldn’t be a massive surprise.

SOUTH SEAS (3yo A Balding)

Finally, we round off the five to follow with a very talented three-year-old.

The Colt left quite an impression when obliterating the field in a solid Windsor maiden before following up the victory at Haydock.

Despite a slow start, he landed the Group 3 Solario Stakes with the minimum of fuss, hitting the line hard to suggest a step up to a mile will benefit in time.

He looked to have every chance of causing a slight upset in the Dewhurst, travelling strongly into the race but he was taken slightly off his feet in the end, failing to see it out in such a competitive race.

His final assignment of the season seen him travel to Saint Cloud (a sign of the esteem in which he is held at home) where he ran very well on softer than ideal ground.

Thunder Snow was the only horse to get the better of him that day and he has subsequently gone on to land the UAE Derby.

South Seas looks to have plenty of potential to progress as a three year old and it would be no surprise to see him land more group success this season. He’s currently 40/1 for the 2000 Guineas, which seems fair.

Cheltenham Festival – Day Three Preview

It has come to the point in the week, where punters are either chasing losses, or attempting to play up their winners and make it a really good week.

The focal point of the day is undoubtedly the World Hurdle and the clash between the proven Big Buck’s who is aiming for his fifth World Hurdle, and the Irish heroine Annie Power who has swept all before her this season.

Annie Power is a worthy favourite after swerving the Champion Hurdle and potential clash with Quevega in the Mares Hurdle, to take up her entry here, but she will not have it her own way. She exudes class, and the vibes in Ireland are all extremely positive, so you can guarentee she will be a very warm favourite (potentially around the Evens mark, once the Irish support arrives), and this offers very little value.

Big Buck’s returned to the track after 420 days off, to put in a stellar performance when looking the likely winner everywhere apart from the line in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January. He will come on for the run, and if he has retained his level of form from previous years, he surely has to go close and 3/1 seems very fair.

However the value lies with the JP McManus pair, who will be hoping to continue JP’s run of good fortune, after his 1-2 in the Champion Hurdle.

More of That has ran out an impressive winner on his last three starts, and with Jonjo having his bunch in great form, he should run well at 10/1. However preference is for At Fishers Cross, who Tony McCoy has opted for, after having the choice of the pair.

Rebecca Curtis trains At Fishers Cross, and she is in fantastic form, having already trained a winner at the Festival this week (O’Faolain’s Boy). The seven-year-old bounded away to land the Albert Bartlett at last year’s meeting, to announce himself as a serious staying hurdler. He confirmed the promise when landing a Grade One at Aintree in impressive fashion, on similar ground that he will encounter on Thursday.

He started the season a short-price for the race, but he has progressively drifted (8/1 now) after jumping worries and two poor performances led many to believe he wouldn’t turn up for the race. Yet, a very positive run when returning to somewhere near his best form, finishing second (ahead of Big Buck’s in third), at Cheltenham in January. The ground will be no worries, and he’s returning to a track where he has ran four times, winning three of those, and finishing second in one. All things point to a big run, and the in-form duo of Curtis and McManus could be celebrating once more.

Elsewhere, there are two other decent-priced runners that are of interest. The first is Wonderful Charm in the JLT Novices’ Chase. He has performed well all season, taking to fences like the proverbial duck to water. A strong traveling speed, bold jumping style and the fact he arrives fresh are three very big positives for Paul Nicholls’ runner.

His only defeat over fences came at the hands of Oscar Whiskey (who re-appears tomorrow), but he was giving away eight pounds to the winner, and only went down by half-a-length. He acts well around Cheltenham, and should be able to reverse the form.

His biggest challenger looks to be Felix Yonger, who was second in the Irish Arkle last time out. He looks a big danger, but is prone to throwing in a dodgy jump from time-to-time, and it may pay to stay with the stronger jumper, in Wonderful Charm, currently an 11/2 chance.

The final selection of the day comes in the lucky last, another McManus owned gelding, in the shape of Cause of Causes, who seems to thrive in big fields. He has finished second in his last two starts, and has been laid out for the Cheltenham Festival, having been entered in a whole host of races. The fact he takes this engagement, is telling and although he faces still opposition, especially in the shape of the well-fancied Indian Castle, he should be able to throw down a big challenge.

The six-year-old looks to have a big future, and has a positive jockey booking in the shape of Nina Carberry, whose experience around Cheltenham, may pay dividends. The former Ladbroke winner is extremely consistent, a solid jumper, and you are sure to be guaranteed a solid run for your money, at a very tempting 7/1.

Selections:

JLT Novices’ Chase: Wonderful Charm @ 11/2

World Hurdle: At Fishers Cross @ 8/1

Kim Muir Challenge Cup: Cause of Causes @ 7/1

E.W Patent @ 467/1

Cheltenham Festival – Day Two Preview

Following the roller-coaster opening day of the festival, we can expect more of the same as we approach day two. It was a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for us, as we had two decent priced places, but no winner. Hopefully that will change on Wednesday.

Ligeonniere’s a Champion:

Fast and frenetic was the theme of Tuesday’s racing, and that trend looks set to continue, with the two mile Queen Mother Champion Chase headlining the card.

The race is sadly missing arguably the greatest chaser of the last decade, as last year’s winner Sprinter Sacre misses the chance to retain his crown following a heart problem, as his trainer Nicky Henderson feels the eight-year-old wasn’t 100% in the build-up to Cheltenham.

However, there is still a stellar cast, headed by the horse that just keeps on improving, Sire De Grugy. Gary Moore’s charge has had a fantastic season so far, winning four out of his five starts, including two group one’s. Yet, he is seemingly less effective going left-handed (which of course, Cheltenham is), and this is a major worry to any punters steaming in at around 2/1. He is officially the best horse in the race, but there are too many question marks to be taking such a short-price.

So, elsewhere there is plenty of value in the race, and the horse that really takes the fancy is Arvika Ligeonniere from the Willie Mullins stable, who is currently trading around the 7/1 mark.

The nine-year-old is a consistent sort, that has been plying his trade at the top level for many years, and comes into the race in good nick, having comprehensively trounced the useful Toner D’oudaries at Punchestown, in what will serve as a solid prep.

He disappointed in last year’s Arkle, when failing to show any signs of his usual form, as Ruby Walsh was forced to pull him up before two out. However, he has came back stronger than ever, and looks real each-way in a rather condensed field.

Captain Conan is going to be a real danger, but it tends to pay to stick with the Walsh and Mullins combination, so Arvika Ligeonniere looks the selection at 7/1.

Tough for Lough:

Elsewhere on the card, there is yet another strong Irish chance as a big field lines up for the RSA.

carlingford lough

Arvika Ligeonniere’s connections, are seen in force, with the warm favourite Ballycasey, however it may pay to side with Galway Plate winner, Carlingford Lough.

The eight-year-old has been on the boil all-season, and has put together a string of big performances in both handicap and graded company. He warrants his place near the head of the market on the back of a comfortable success in the Group One, Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown, and then travelling nicely before falling at the last, in a race won by Ballycasey last month.

John Kiely’s gelding looks to have a real chance with his mix of stamina and sharp jumping, in what looks to be an extremely open race. It often pays to side with consistency, and Carlingford Lough is as consistent as they come. Couple that with the added bonus of Tony McCoy in the saddle, and this makes a very attractive 10/1 shot.

Go go Golantilla:

The last selection of the day falls in the bumper, and goes the way of Golantilla. Tony Martin’s six-year-old was third in last year’s race behind the highly rated Briar Hill, and it was thought then that he would go on to have a big year.

Yet, he has only been seen once on a racecourse since, when finishing a distant second at Naas last month. He traveled beautifully through the race, but failed to see it out, staying on one pace towards the death on soft ground. He will certainly have come on for the run, and the vibes from the stable are seemingly positive, which makes the fact he was pushed out from 8/1 to 14/1 following his last run, a slight overreaction.

Tony Martin always has his horses in top nick entering the festival, and the fact that the patience has been shown to have another crack at the bumper as opposed to go over hurdles speaks volumes, and he looks a cracking each-way bet at 14/1 to end the second day.

Selections:

Champion Chase: Arvika Ligeonniere @ 17/2 (BetBright)

RSA: Carlingford Lough @ 9/1 (Coral)  

Champion Bumper: Golantilla @ 14/1 (Various)

E.W patent @ 1169/1

Cheltenham Festival – Day One Preview

The home of National Hunt racing takes centre stage next week, as all eyes turn to the biggest jumps meeting in the world, the Cheltenham Festival.

Be Brave with Wicklow:

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle always acts as a very apt curtain-raiser, and this year is no different with an array of talent lining up to try and get their names on the winners board at the very first attempt.

Irving represents the best chance of a winner for the home side in the opener, as Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old heads in to the race as a warm favourite following two comfortable Grade Two victories. He looks a solid prospect for the future, but there has to be doubts over his stamina and at 2/1 he is no value at all.

The Willie Mullins pair of Vautour and Wicklow Brave are next in the market, and look the biggest dangers to Irving. Vautour landed the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out, beating The Tullow Tank, after dictating the pace from the off.

Ruby Walsh has opted to ride Vautour after feeling he will stay the best of the pair, and will be more suited by conditions. He isn’t likely to get his own way at the front like he did last time out, but Mullins has been very bullish about his chances and he is sure to have many backers at the current 3/1.

However, Wicklow Brave looks like the real deal, and although Walsh has opted to ride the stables supposed first-string, at 7/1, he looks to be tremendous value. He is a very strong traveler which is key in these types of races, and although there are doubts about his jumping (valid after a shaky round last time out), the faster the pace, the better he will jump.

He has a sensational turn of foot, and used effectively this could be the difference, as Vautour is going to be ridden prominently and keep the race at a solid tempo, settling up a late swoop for Wicklow Brave.

Patrick Mullins has been talking very highly of the horse recently, and there are plenty of trends which suggest he is the horse to get on.

The last nine Supreme Novices’ winners have gone off at 5/1 or bigger, and ten of the last eleven winners of the race have been aged five or six (Wicklow Brave is five). The last ten winners had won at least 50% of their hurdles starts (WB is 100%), and as Wicklow Brave shares the same sire as 2012 winner Cinders and Ashes, there is plenty of positivity going into the festival.

The likely firm ground at Prestbury Park should bring out the best in five-year-old, and with Paddy Power offering money back if your horse finishes second, third or fourth, Wicklow Brave surely has to be a solid bet at 7/1.

Time for Trifolium:

The Racing Post Arkle is a race of the highest quality and this year’s renewal has the potential to add another magnificent name to the illustrious list of previous winners.

Champagne Fever heads the market after winning at the festival for the previous two years (Bumper & Supreme Novices’), and he is currently trading at 3/1 to make it a third successful year.

His performance at Leopardstown in December has added an element of doubt into the minds of the backers, as the lackluster display was the first real sign of weakness from the grey.

He didn’t go one yard, and was beaten fair and square by defy logic with Trifolium (who is also Cheltenham bound), ahead of him in second.

Trifolium was the one to take out of the race, as Davy Russell traveled very strongly on the seven-year-old, and looked to be traveling best of all coming to the last where he failed to pick up Defy Logic.

Since then, he has came out and landed the Irish Arkle in tremendous fashion, showing his tremendous jumping and high cruising speed to full effect. He has the best form to offer going into the race, and the 11/2 on offer looks a lot more value than the 3/1 for Champagne Fever.

My Tent or Yours?

The Champion Hurdle is one of the most anticipated races of the entire year, and this year’s renewal is set to be a cracker. Hurricane Fly who has won two of the last three Champion Hurdle’s is back to try and retain his crown, but faces stiff opposition as the young pretenders enter the scene.

tony mccoy la

Hurricane Fly is uber consistent, and loves Cheltenham. He has had a solid build-up, and Ruby Walsh seems very keen on the ten-year-old’s chances, and he should prove very hard to beat.

However The New One is wrestling for favouritism with The Fly, with the pair inseparable at 11/4. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ six-year-old burst onto the scene when landing the Neptune at last year’s festival, in impressive style.

The manner in which he bounded up the hill suggests he will thrive once more, come Tuesday afternoon and he is sure to have a legion of supporters screaming his name over the last.

Yet, My Tent or Yours beat The New One at Kempton, albeit on a flatter track, and looks sure to come on for the run. He is a very strong traveler and looked the likely winner when failing to get past Champagne Fever in last year’s Supreme Novice’, and Tony McCoy will now know how to produce My Tent or Yours, albeit against higher opposition.

He has all the characteristics to suggest he is going to make a bold bid for the big race, and McCoy has highlighted him as his best chance of a winner for the festival. The speed horse has overcame a late injury scare, and if McCoy manages to settle him early on in the race, the late burst of speed he possesses may tip the scales in his favour, meaning the 9/2 on offer, is surely worth a dabble.

Selections;

Supreme Novice’ Hurdle: Wicklow Brave @ 7/1 (Various)

Arkle: Trifolium @ 11/2 (Boylesports)

Champion Hurdle: My Tent or Yours @ 5/1 (Winner)

E.W Patent @ 263/1 (William Hill)

York Ebor Festival – Day Two Advice

Close, but no 1996 Dubai World Cup winner, on the opening day of the Ebor festival, with our selections performing respectably, but falling just short.

Martin Chuzzlewit failed to settle for much of the race, before plugging on best of all at the finish, making up numerous places in the last furlong. He’s one to keep an eye on next time out, with a truly run race.

Coulsty also stayed on well, and showed plenty of guts to take second off top weight in the nursery, and he should be a major player as a there-year-old, when given a break.

Now, for day two of racing at the Knavesmire with just two selections to choose from.

Wentworth looked potential Group class for a large part of his career, and the manner of his victory at Goodwood suggests a step into Group company is going to come sooner rather than later.

Yet, for now he is still making waves in a lower class, and it’s time to take advantage of the 9/2 on offer for Wentworth to land the Class Two, Clipper Logistics Handicap on Thursday afternoon.

A decent weight, ideal trip, ideal ground and a certain Mr Hughes on his back suggests all things are set for a big run. Queensberry Rules looked a class-act before flopping last time out at Ascot, and anything Johnny Murtagh rides on these shores can not be ignored.

However, he may lack the finishing kick that Wentworth showed to devilish effect last time out, and for this reason, it is worth siding with messrs Hannon and Hughes, and get on board the 9/2 before it disappears.

The Yorkshire Oaks looks set to be a cracker this year with top-class fillies from across Britain turning up to compete.

The Fugue looks a worthy favourite back over a mile and a half, and against her own sex she may prove hard to beat.

However, it is worth taking a chance with Lady Cecil’s Wild Coco, who looked better than ever when landing a big prize at Goodwood last month.

Tom Queally has opted for the filly over the likely improver Riposte, and her high cruising speed and staying qualities indicate it may be the correct decision.

She arguably wants further than the mile and a half tomorrow, but she does have winning form over the trip and any pace in the race is sure to be welcomed by the Cecil camp.

She should go very close, and the 11/2 currently on offer looks an each-way steal with the filly sure to stick on to the places at the very least.

Advice:

1 pt win: Wentworth @ 9/2 (Various)

1 pt win: Wild Coco @ 11/2 (Various)

1pt e.w doube: Wentworth/Wild Coco @ 34.75/1 (Racebets)

 

Royal Ascot 2013

It’s that time of year again, when the Royal’s pay a visit to the Berkshire racecourse, and the country comes together to toast champagne, and chow down on fresh strawberries as they watch the greatest thoroughbreds around battle it out.

Many see it as a day out, an important date in the social calender.. but for many, it’s five of the greatest racing days around, with Group One action taking place every day.

There are plenty of trends to follow, and dress-codes to abide by, so our good friends at BetVictor have very kindly pulled together a graphic, highlighting the big race trends, and important facts to take into consideration when having a punt.

I will be previewing all of the big races the evening before each-day, and hopefully we can make it a profitable week.

http://horseracing.betvictor.com/royal-ascot-2013/

Royal Ascot Graphic

Cheltenham – Final day’s best bets!

Thursday was another day in favour of the bookmakers as not one favourite obliged, and both 25/1 and 50/1 winners were witnessed in the heart of the Cotswolds.

For our selections, we had our both members of our win double seen in second place, and our place double faded into an abyss. Whilst Ballynagour traveled like the winner throughout his race, before going out like a light when about to depart up the hill.

However we must put that behind us, and aim to enhance the profit we are already in for the week. A different approach is needed once more, as the fields are extremely open.

There is one win selection, and that comes in the 2:40, in the shape of At Fisher’s Cross.

Rebecca Curtis’ gelding comes into the festival boasting an impressive unbeaten record this season, notching four from four, including a Grade Two at Cheltenham in January.

The 6yo just got the better of The New One, who landed the Albert Bartlett here on Wednesday. The New One has been installed as one of the favourites for next year’s Champion Hurdle, and is clearly well thought of by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. This makes this piece of form by far the strongest in the race, and with it coming over course and distance, he is a worthy favourite.

cheltenham final day

He has a high cruising speed and is a valiant battler, which could be an attribute needed if he is to land the spoils and give champion jockey Tony McCoy his first winner of the week.

His main opponent looks set to be Ballycasey for the in-form duo of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. He is unbeaten under rules over in Ireland, always coming home in front with seemingly bags in hand.

He is yet to be tested, and at 4/1, you would be taking a risk on how much he has improved, as he will have to take a massive step up in class if he is to successfully take down At Fisher’s Cross and get another on the board for Ireland.

Then, my advice is one more small e.w double on Cotton Mill and Sir Des Champs.

Cotton Mill was travelling well when ducking out last year in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle at the festival, when well fancied.

He bounced back from this when finishing a close third in the Sefton at Aintree, before being put away for the summer. He has been seen once this year, when finishing a staying-on second behind the classy My Tent or Yours in a competitive Newbury Handicap.

This piece of form is incredibly strong when taking into account how well fancied My Tent or Yours was when finishing runner-up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, after side-stepping a potential Champion Hurdle tilt.

Cotton Mill’s jockey Denis O’Regan, will let him bowl along, and if he is allowed to dictate the pace, he will be in prime position to use his incredible flat speed to the best of his advantage.

He is the classiest in the race by some distance and if he’s on a going day, the 7/1 looks incredible value.

sir des champs

This alongside the 4/1 for Sir Des Champs makes an irresistible 39/1 double.

Sir Des Champs looks set to round off a fantastic week for Willie Mullins by landing the feature race of the week, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He has had a solid campaign thus far landing the Irish Hennessey Gold Cup in thrilling fashion. His exemplary jumping style always gets him out of tricky situations he may find himself in, and with his unbeaten record at Cheltenham (2/2) he is a confident selection.

He has stiff competition in the shape of Bobs Worth, however Nicky Henderson’s 8yo still has a lot to prove against the top staying chasers such as previous Gold Cup winner Long Run and former Arkle winner Captain Chris.

Silviniaco Conti can’t be backed at the 7/2 on offer due to Paul Nicholls seemingly poor run of form, with the former Champion Trainer failing to have a winner so far this week.

This all points to Sir Des Champs having a marvelous chance of winning the prize and if he does just about fail, his consistency and jumping ability means you will get a strong run for your money regardless.

Advice:

3 points win: At Fisher’s Cross @ 3/1 (Betfair)

1pt e.w double: Cotton Mill & Sir Des Champs @ 39/1 (Paddy Power)

2013 so far – + 9.77 points

Cheltenham – Day three’s best bets!

After a rather disappointing day at the office, following a couple of no-shows and an unfortunate runner-up in the shape of Tofino Bay, we look ahead to Thursday where we will try and wrestle some cash off the bookmakers.

And with it comes a slightly different approach. With the amount of short-priced fancied horses running tomorrow, it could pay to ditch our each-way single, value, and chance our hand at a few multiples.

The opener looks set to go the way of Dynaste, who side-stepped a crack at the RSA (a race in which he would have won in my opinion) to go for this potentially easier task. The only real danger on paper looks set to be from Captain Conan and also Aupcharlie from the in-form Willie Mullins stable.

Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins pre race, before Back In Focus's impressive win

Mullins has had a fantastic festival so far, with five winners and Aupcharlie’s form took a massive boost yesterday when Back in Focus (who he just failed to beat at Leopardstown) and Tofino Bay (who he just went down to last time out) battled out a thrilling finish.

He finished third at the course on his only start, back in the Champion Bumper, and looks set to go off a lot shorter than his current 6/1.

However he may run in to one too good in the shape of Dynaste, who has been a revelation since turning to the bigger obstacles. His jumping is immaculate, and there is no question about his staying ability. These attributes combined with the fact that he has already won over fences at Cheltenham make the  7/4 on offer look big enough to tempt most.

For this reason, you could start the day with a Dynaste/Aupcharlie forecast and hope for a big return, or separate the pair and use Dynaste as the start of a win multiple, and Aupcharlie as the beginning of an each-way equivalent.

The next race could go the way of Paul Nicholls who is yet to get on the board this festival. He has made no secret that he feels Sam Winner could bounce back to form off a very generous mark of 140. The former Triumph Hurdle fourth had been out of sorts following his run at the festival, as he was sent on a chasing campaign.

However he has been brought back to the smaller obstacles, and over a course from where he has a 50% strike-rate, winning two from four, he has to be fancied. He has a brilliant action over hurdles, and a high cruising speed which is key to his chances.The current 9/2 strikes me as a solid each-way bet, and should be combined with Aupcharlie to hopefully make a solid start to proceedings.

cheltenham races

The win double is completed with First Lieutenant, who was well-fancied for the Gold Cup, before being pulled out for an attempt at the competitive renewal of the Ryanair.

He has been placed in three graded races this term, the most recent of which was when he was seen finishing a head second behind Tidal Bay in the Lexus Chase.

This is arguably the best piece of form on offer in the race, and the fact he has been put away especially for a crack at the festival, is an extra positive, and enhances the 11/4 shots claim.

He faces stiff opposition in the shape of former Champion Bumper winner Cue Card and last year’s Ryanair winner Riverside Theatre, however this has been a solid week for Ireland so far and I expect Davy Russell’s mount to do the business at what looks a lot bigger price than he should be.

The single of the day comes in the shape of a potential handicap-plot from the David Pipe stable, Ballynagour.

He won his sole start on British soil by 19 lengths, and is a relative unknown quantity. He never really got out of third gear that day, and although he will have to improve to land this, he looks as though he still had plenty in the locker and could well be a likely improver.

His rating of 143 could turn out to be incredibly soft, and the 7yo looks destined for bigger and better things. The 9/2 on Betfair won’t be around for long, and it could end up being one of the best backed horses of the festival.

Advice:

1 point win double: Dynaste & First Lieutenant @ 8.84/1 (Paddy Power)

0.5 point e.w double: Aupcharlie & Sam Winner @ 37.5/1 (StanJames)

1 point win: Ballynagour @ 4.5/1 (Betfair) 

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2013 so far – +13.77 points

Cheltenham – Day two’s best bets!

Following a sensational day for the blog yesterday with a 28/1 winner, 7/1 place and an 11/1 close fifth, from three selections, I’m hoping to keep momentum rolling with another few tasty value bets.

It was a day for the Irish as Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins stole the show with a magnificent treble. Champagne Fever, and Quevega came either side of a magnificent Champion Hurdle victory by Hurricane Fly.

Walsh and Mullins will go in to the second day buoyed with confidence and this could lead the bookmakers into shortening their mounts prices in even shorter, as Mullins look set to saddle the first three favourites on the card.

This opens up other horses value, as they begin to drift against the favourite. This leads us to the first bet of the day, Tofino Bay in the opener.

Dessie Hughes’ consistent 10yo has been placed in a Grade One, as well as winning a Grade Two this season, meaning he is arguably the classiest in the field.

Nina Carberry is a brilliant jockey over the staying chases and will be sure to give her mount the best possible positioning early on. As long as he settles, he will be right there near the end, and with his reliable jumping (never fell in his life), he looks a solid each-way bet at 35/2.

With Ireland having such a great start to the meeting, and the Gigginstown Stud silks being renowned worldwide, it us understandable as to why some other bookmakers have priced up at 8/1 – 10/1, he is likely to start around that price, so punish 32Red for their generous offer.

With Sprinter Sacre taking centre stage tomorrow, and maybe even for the whole week, it makes sense to just sit back and watch a thing of beauty.

There is no value in backing Nicky Henderson’s stable-star at 1/4, and with him looking almost certain to land Wednesday’s feature race, it will pay to just enjoy a magnificent spectacle of sheer jumping brilliance.

DSC_3876

However wait for forty minutes, and find yourself another solid bet. Tony McCoy is yet to get on the board for this year’s festival and will be looking to rectify this as soon as possible.

His best chance tomorrow looks set to come in the colours of his boss JP McManus, with Pendra looking likely to go off as favourite in the Coral Cup.

He has never been out of the first two, winning three of his four starts under rules. McManus decided to purchase the gelding following his last run, a gallant second in a Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January.

He looked the likely winner before being headed at the last, and with McCoy likely to make more use of the gelding tomorrow, the current 8/1 looks massive for such a consistent type.

Sneaking in on a relatively low weight only adds to the positives, and expect him to go off a lot shorter tomorrow.

paul nicholls

The third and final bet of day two comes in the Bumper, in the shape of Paul Nicholls’ Fascino Rustico.

It is interesting to see that the record-breaking £310,000 recruit has stayed on the level, instead of being sent over hurdles.

He ran away with his maiden National Hunt flat race showing an immense cruising speed, before being purchased by Aiden Murphy. He has been quoted as saying he purchased him as a replacement for Noland, with the idea he has the scope to jump a fence.

He slightly disappointed when last seen, finishing fourth over course and distance in November. However he will come on massively for the run and the fact that connections have opted to aim him at this race means that he has to be respected, and 33/1 is far too big.

Advice:

1 point e.w: Tofino Bay @ 35/2 (32Red)

1 point e.w: Pendra @ 8/1 (Betfred/Betvictor)

0.5 points e.w: Fascino Rustico @ 33/1 (32Red)

2013 so far – +14.08 points

Cheltenham – Opening day’s best bets!

It’s that time of year again, when everyone forgets about their troubles and often plunges money they haven’t got into a world of magic, in the hope that they can finally land that massive pay-out they have been searching for.

Well, I’m here to help.

As a veteran of the Cheltenham Festival (first appearance aged 14, and I’m now 21..) I have always seemed to strike gold in this magical week in March.

Whether it be the Guinness that is inevitably sunk, the intense feeling that ‘this is the day’ or most likely the amount of research that goes in to following the horses throughout the year..

This year’s festival is as open as any, but there are a few very over-priced runners on the opening day.

cheltenham racecourse

The opener of the festival always seems to swing your week, a winner signifies ‘this is the week’, a place means ‘at least i’m in the right ball-park’ and a nowhere inevitably leaves you feeling ‘oh no, not again..’.

There isn’t usually a massively short-priced favourite for such a competitive race as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, yet this year there is. Tony McCoy is incredibly bullish about My Tent or Yours, who has side-stepped a potential Champion Hurdle tilt for this seemingly easier encounter. Yet at 6/4, are you really wanting to take the chance? Especially given Henderson’s record of winners in the race and also the poor performance of favourites.  I’m not.

Usually I like to kick-off the four days with an each-way bet, which allows me to maintain the feeling it could be my week, even with a place. Tomorrow that bet will fall on Un Atout.

Willie Mullins’ gelding is unbeaten in his three starts under rules, and is yet to be tested. He travels beautifully, and has a wonderful movement allowing him to kick clear with seemingly sumptuous ease. He is yet to be tested, and although tomorrow’s field looks incredibly difficult, he looks as though he has the potential to match them

No-one knows how good he really is and tomorrow we will get to see if he is what we all expect. 7/1 looks far too big, especially with William Hill offering five places at a quarter of the odds.

There are two more well fancied runners on the card, that could well out-run their odds, and then next one is Fruity O’Rooney in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase, in which he was runner-up last year.

Since then he has had a solid campaign, running consistently in decent handicaps and even managing to drop down the weights since last year.

The Gary Moore trained 10yo ran a great race in defeat last year and course and distance form is key in these types of races. This gives him a slight edge over favourite Our Mick, who fell when looking to challenge in a race that Fruity O’Rooney competed in last time. The fall was at Cheltenham too, so it is hard to gauge how much effect that will have on his psyche.

This is why the current 11/1 on the consistent Fruity O’Rooney looks a solid bet, and you can guarantee a run for your money.

nicky henderson

The final piece of each-way advice for the day is Nicky Henderson’s Rajdhani Express in the final race of the day.

He looked a real horse to follow when winning at Kempton on Boxing Day, in testing conditions. His last race was one we can put a mark through after he threw away his chance with a bad mistake early on.

Henderson wouldn’t enter him without thinking he had a big chance, and the 28/1 on offer looks far too big. Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen will be out to prove his many critics wrong, and if the geldings’ jumping holds up early on, he looks set to be in with a major chance.

More rain won’t a difference to the 6yo’s chances, and with Waley-Cohen being able to take a handy 5lbs off the top-weights back, he holds a real chance.

Advice:

1 point e.w: Un Atout @ 6/1 (William Hill, first 5 places, 1/4 of the odds)

0.5 points e.w: Fruity O’Rooney @ 11/1 (Paddy Power)

0.5 points e.w: Rajdhani Express @ 28/1 (BetVictor)

2013 so far: -2.8 points