Friday, 15 April 2016

2015-16 End of Season Report


The 2015-16 season will be viewed as the one in which TVB changed from a tipping service, with race analysis – to a race analysis service, with tips.

It had been coming for a few years – but the introduction of the Info service saw the balance of the service switch from being primarily ‘prescriptive’, to more ‘guiding’.
Ofcourse it’s impossible to accurately measure the performance of a service that advises – but the figures of those who have embraced the concept, suggest that it was possible to achieve profits from the Info side, of up to twice those achievable from the tips.

Obviously, effort was required to achieve such profits – and generally, the more people put in, the more they got out.
However, no significant racing knowledge was required – just an ability to interpret my thoughts – and maybe a willingness to take some additional direction from the markets.

Needless to say, with such success, the service will continue to move in the Info direction – though I don’t plan to give up on the tips, just yet !

Info Service

I guess the Info Service has always been part of TVB – however, it was only this year that it was given a formal title.

The rationale that accompanies every tip, has long proved a useful guide for both staking – and covering bets: whilst views on other races, have provided additional betting opportunities, as and when circumstances have suited.

The introduction of a forum, enabled the sharing of knowledge and ideas – and the likes of Liam, Paul and Francis, helped others decide on a strategy for exploiting the Info in the write-ups (thank you guys).

The Forum also acted as a repository for the official ‘eye catchers’.
These were only introduced relatively late in the season – but it was merely making visible something that I’ve always done.
I expect their value to be particularly significant at the start of next season – and I am sure they will quickly become core to the whole TVB service (both Info and Tips).

The slight adjustment made to the structure of the daily write-up, now enables people to more clearly view my thoughts on individual races.

There are many reasons why it is difficult for me to tip in certain races: prices; market strength; conditions; uncertainty over other runners etc.
However, the write-up enables me to express my opinions and as situations clarify, people can decide whether or not to get involved.
The Info service is designed to point people in the right direction – without telling them exactly what to do.
This means that people can customise the bets they place – which in turn, means they have a better chance of betting profitably and maintaining bookmaker accounts.

The suggestion from the feedback on the forum, is that the Info service can be used to generate decent profits throughout the season (even during times when the tips are struggling).

Tipping Service

Despite the increased importance of the Info, the Tips are (and will remain) a big part of the service for many of you.

Results (excluding Cheltenham & Aintree)

If you were able to secure the best prices on the tips, then you would have made 21.21pts profit on 47.625pts staked (ROI 44%) – and experienced 5 consecutive winning months.

By Month

Pts staked
Pts profit at advised stk
Pts profit at level stk
Pts profit at BSP advised
Pts profit at BSP level

By Day of the Week



By Race class (excluding Irish races)

Race Class

For those who would like more detail of the tips: I will add a spreadsheet to the TVB website, showing details of all tips issued during the season, when I update the website (in the next month or so).


This was my 4th season tipping – and the actual issuing of tips was harder than ever before…

The mid-week markets in particular, are now both defensive and fragile, meaning that many horses are priced up lower than they should be, by most bookmakers (there is large over round) – and any tip quickly shortens in price.

As a consequence, finding tips in midweek races isn’t easy – and issuing them is even more difficult.
This wasn’t helped by some people backing tips on BF at below the odds – as the linkages between that and various bookmakers, meant that on those occasions, prices lasted mere seconds.

As a consequence, people who could bet with bookmakers either got accounts marked as they backed ‘steamers’ - or got frustrated at missing prices.
Clearly this is not a sustainable situation – and it made me very wary about issuing tips in such races.

Tipping on a Saturday into stronger markets, was less of an issue – and going forward, I think I will need to separate these two groups of tips…

The other big issue, was the weather.

To an extent, it’s an occupational hazard – however, I do feel that this season was particularly bad.
I lost count of the number of days on which it rained – making it almost impossible to get a proper handle on ground conditions.

As a consequence of these 2 issues, the number of tips issued was markedly down on last season – with the biggest impact in the mid-week…

Backing tips at SP

It’s a fact that more and more of you are struggling to find bookmakers prepared to take your bets – particularly at early prices.

Bookmakers talk about ‘responsible’ betting – but the reality is, they don’t want to do business with people who bet responsibly.

To an extent, I have some sympathy with them. Relatively small over-rounds, BOG and first past the post, must make their margins tiny – particularly if they are up against someone who knows what they are doing.

I suspect that most of us know exactly what we are doing – and the bookmakers soon realise they will lose if they play against us – and consequently they shut down our accounts.

The best way we can counter against this, is to bet profitably at SP (or close to SP).
It will always be possible to bet in a shop, or on BF, close to the off – though making a profit through such betting is considerably more difficult.

That said, it can be done – and a number of the Info guys did exactly that, this season.

Backing all of the tips to advised stakes, at BSP returned a profit of 6.47pts (ROI 13.6%) – at level stakes, the profit was 23.2pts (ROI 13.9%).

Quite bizarrely, over half of the tips (88 v 79) had an industry SP greater than their BSP (minus the 5% BF commission).
I really can’t explain why that might be, as typically only around 15% of horses will have an industry SP greater than BSP (which is why taking BSP is generally the best policy)
I didn’t record profit against industry SP, but I suspect the numbers would have been similar to BSP.
The conclusion from this is that if you are betting at SP, you should either try to bet BOG with a bookmaker; or place your bet a couple of minutes before the off on BF (rather than taking BSP).

More generally, the main point to note if betting at SP, is that well supported tips remain the best ones to follow.

Over the course of the season, there were 6 horses whose BSP was less than half the price advised – and 3 of these won. Backing them at advised stakes would have yielded a profit of 3.86pts at BSP (18.68pts at a level stake).
More than that, just backing all of the horses whose BSP was shorter than the advised price (and there were 125 of them), would have yielded a profit of 10.41pts at BSP (40.37pts at a level stake).

Theses numbers strongly support what I’ve always felt: the best TVB tips to follow are the ones that all well supported in the market.
In previous seasons, the numbers haven’t backed up my feelings quite as much.
Historically, there has generally been a small profit to be made backing all tips at BSP.
However, the ‘drifters’ have tended to be helped by the odd winning tip in a very big field, at a very big price (the likes of Jadanli). I didn’t put up as many of those this year – and didn’t hit on any such winner.

The bottom line seems quite clear: if you are backing the tips close to the off, stick with the ones the market likes (and the more it likes it, the better !).

Plans for Next Season

The 2016-17 season will be my fifth season tipping – and I feel like I’m now occupying the space that I always intended…

TVB is primarily a NH racing advisory service.
The Info service has cemented that position – and its success was the big thing I will take out of the season just gone.
Simply, I produce output which people can generate good profits from – if they are prepared to make the effort.

The Info service will be the core TVB offering for the 2016-17 season – but I will still continue to tip.

It did however become apparent early this season, that tipping mid-week to the number of subscribers I have, doesn’t work.
I restricted the number to 50 – but that is too many.
The market just won’t take the volume in a mid week, so I’ll need to cut the number back (and get assurances from those who receive mid week tips, that they will stay off BF).

Weekends are different.
There was no issue with the tips I issued on a Saturday – or indeed on the other big race days.

Consequently, next season, there will be 2 tipping services: mid week tips and Saturday tips.

That is likely to be the biggest change I make to the service – and I’ll spend the summer mulling over how best to handle it.

Aside from that, I think most things will stay roughly the same – with a touch of evolution…

- The forum is here to stay and I will look to use it progressively more. The ‘race of the day’ and the ‘naps competition’ helped create a sense of community – and were contributory factors in the success of the day at the races (which I will definitely look to repeat next year). The issues with the original forum were unfortunate – but the new one seems sufficiently robust.

- The eye-catchers will play an increasingly important role in the service. I would expect to spend a good deal of the pre-season, building a list which will get us through the first half of the season (at least)

- I plan to create a sub forum for ante-post thoughts, next season. I am happy keeping ante-post tips out of the main service, but I think there is scope to preview some of the big races early and ‘mention’ a few horses of interest

- Top Picks are something I need to give thought to. I only re-introduced them late this season (they were strong mentions until that point) – but they were very successful. I issued 4 Top Picks - and 3 of them won, resulting in a 6pt profit at BSP, to a level stake. It was a similar story last season, so clearly, they warrant inclusion in the service. The question is whether I turn them into short priced tips – or leave them in the Info service. This is something I need to mull over.

- Staking of tips remains an area that I probably need to work on. This season I effectively had a 4 pt range (0.125-0.5). The original plan was for an 8pt range – but I never explored the upper end ! It could be the same again next season – but to an extent, that will depend on how I handle the Top Picks.

- Seasonality is also something I need to remain mindful of. I tend to do very well until the rain comes – but then things can get tough. In fairness, I’m aware of this – but options are limited when you have little idea over the state of the ground.


This years end of season report has a slightly different feel to those I’ve produced in previous seasons - but I think that reflects the change in the service (with less emphasis on the tips).

Hopefully I’ve still covered all of the important areas: painted a fair picture of the season gone - and given an overview of how I envisage things moving forward.

TVB has always been a service for the NH enthusiast – and will continue to move in that direction.
That said, I has also always been a service which, people can use to make profit – and I have no intention of changing that, either !

The blend can be a tricky one to achieve – but if nothing else, I hope you can all see that I continually strive to do just that.

As always, any feedback on the service – or the report – will be most welcome.

Review of the day

Despite some serious pre-race rain, and a 4 and a quarter mile trip, the Grand National didn’t provide enough of a stamina test for Goonyella – and he could only run on to take a distant fifth place.

If they ever introduce 8 mile races, then I reckon he could be unbeatable – but I somehow doubt that will happen !

As for the other tips in the race, then Holywell didn’t take to the place – and decanted his jockey at the second fence.
Gallant Oscar did a little better – but got rid of his at the 18th.
Boston Bob gave up the ghost, after Bechers Brook, second time round: and whilst Unioniste managed to complete – it was very much in his own time…

Still, with virtually all bookmakers playing at least 5 places, it was just about a profitable race – so not a disaster…

Earlier in the afternoon, Prince of Scars was caught out by the lack of a strong gallop – and some shoddy jumping.
He managed to finish third behind impressive winner Thistlecrack – but we needed second for a place return.

The big tip of the day, was Roc D’Apsis – but he was disappointing.
The rain appeared to turn the race into a bit of a lottery – and his mid field position seemed to be just where you didn’t want to be.
He started making mistakes on the second circuit - and Paddy Brennan gave up on him rounding the home turn.
I’d be inclined to disregard the run.

In the opener on the card, the green and gold of JP McManus managed to fill 4 of the first 7 places – though second was as good as it got.
The winner, Ubak, took advantage of a pedestrian pace and quickened away from the field approaching the last.
If in Doubt was running him down close home – but he had too much to do.

Yorkhill and Douvan won their respective contests - but things weren’t as straightforward as they should have been for the former…

He pulled like a train and made some shocking jumping errors – so the fact he was able to repel the late challenge of Le Prezien, suggests he has a serious engine.
If he were mine, I’d put him over fences next season and target the Arkle. I think it would take a good one to beat him.

Douvan is not just a good one - he’s an exceptional one.
It will be fascinating to see what he blossoms into next season (my guess would be a Champion Chaser).

The final race on the card was won by Ivan Grozny, ridden by David Mullins.
Just half an hour after winning the Grand National, he was probably pinching himself, in the unsaddling enclosure…

And so that’s the end of another TVB season – and this time it really is the end.

No more write-ups or reviews; advance notices or tips - your inboxes and going to wonder what’s happened !

Ofcourse I’ve still got the end of season report to issue – and that should be with you in the next few days.
I will also be around on the forum – monitoring the eye catchers – and possibly looking at the odd race (though not in too much detail !).

It’s generally been fun (if a little stressful at times !) – and hopefully you’ve found it profitable as well.

I’ll be back in touch with you all in the autumn, with hopefully news on a slightly improved service (you know I never like to stand still).

I hope you all have a great summer – and that your team wins the Euros (provided it’s England, ofcourse !).


Aintree Day 3

Day 3 of the Aintree Grand National meeting – Grand National Day !

7mm of overnight rain (more than expected), has left the ground on the hurdles and National courses, described as ‘soft’.

As is always the case when there has been overnight rain, there is an element of guesswork as to how exactly it will ride.
However, I suspect it will now be softer than it was on Thursday – and it was pretty soft then !

Furthermore, there are more showers forecast for this afternoon, so I think it’s pretty safe to say it will be a soft ground National.

And that could make things interesting.
They always go a pace in the National – and in soft ground many of them simply won’t get home.
Expect lots of tired falls and pulled ups, in the final mile or so…

With that in mind, I suspect jockeyship will be key – along with luck (to avoid the likely carnage).
Let’s hope we get a bit, for a change !!

Aside from the National, the Aintree card is quite bizarre…
There are 6 other races: 3 have favourites priced up at 1/4, 1/7 and 1/4; whilst the other 3 are almost as impossible to sort out as the National itself !

Talk about the sublime and the ridiculous.
Punter friendly it is not !!

Anyway, here are my thoughts on all 7 races….


1:45: JP McManus appears to have a very strong hand in this race.
Headed by race favourite, If in Doubt: with support from Squouateur, Join the Clan and At Fishers Cross.
If in Doubt was probably the unluckiest loser at the whole of the Cheltenham festival.
He was repeatedly baulked and denied a run in the Pertemps final - and was still only beaten a length at the line. Off a 4lb higher mark, he is clearly the one to beat.
Squouateur was probably the best backed horse at the festival.
Hammered into 9/4 favourite in a 24 runner handicap, he appeared not to handle the relatively quick ground. Todays softer surface should be more to his liking – and if he copes with step up in trip, he could well run a very big race.
Join the Clan was an official eye catcher at Cheltenham,
He led the field on the turn for home in the Pertemps – but didn’t quite get home.
Aiden Coleman replaces Patrick Crowley today – and that could make a difference.
However, whilst I expect him to run well, I’m not sure today will be his day.
At Fishers Cross is the potential fly in the ointment.
A proven grade 1 performer, he gets to run off a mark of just 148 today – and with a 5lb claimer in the saddle.
That makes him potentially very well handicapped.
He will have no issue with track or trip – and the Rebecca Curtis stable is now showing a bit of form.
The feeling is that the horse is probably in terminal decline – but at 25/1, it might be worth a small risk, just in the case !
Outside the JP quartet, I could have been interested in Long House Haul and Eshtiaal – if the rain hadn’t come.
Kings Palace is another one of interest. Again he comes with risks – but he is potentially very well handicapped, back over hurdles.
The final one worthy of a mention is Saddlers Encore.
He won well at Kempton before disappointing last time at Cheltenham.
The quick ground was offered as the excuse that day – so he should have no such issues today !
If Dickie was on board, I would be really interested in him – but Tom O’Brien rides, instead.
Maybe Dickie didn’t appreciate how much rain there was going to be !
Certainly, at a very big price (40/1), he is worth a tiny saver.
In summary, whilst I’m not sure which one will win – I do think there is a strong possibility the jockey will be sporting green and gold stripes !

2:25: The first of the days ‘good things’ runs in this, in the shape of Yorkhill – and to be honest, it takes some imagination to see him getting beaten.
He was a hugely impressive winner at Cheltenham, where he put the highly regarded Yanworth to the sword; and prior to that, he had been a convincing winner of the grade 1 Tolworth hurdle at Sandown.
The Sandown race took place in desperate conditions, so no matter how the soft the ground is today, it’s unlikely to cause him an issue.
Clearly he has 10 hurdles to negotiate, so nothing can be guaranteed – but if he gets round safely it will be a major shock if he doesn’t win.
The race for second place could be a little more interesting, though I quite strongly favour Bello Conti for that.
He finished fourth behind Yorkhill at Cheltenham and whilst he was well beaten, it was only the third race of his life.
I would expect him to improve significantly for that run and get closer to his conqueror today.
The straight forecast should pay around
to 4/1 – and that’s probably not a bad bet…

3:00: If Yorkhill looks a good thing in the previous race, then I’m not sure how best to describe Douvan in this..!
Unbeaten in 8 races since moving to Ireland, he has been an imperious winner at the last 2 Cheltenham festivals – and does look like the sports next superstar in waiting.
The biggest problem is that he’s so good, he tends to frighten away most of the credible opposition, resulting in him having easer races that should be the case.
That’s probably true today – as he should really only need to jump round, in order to collect the £50K+ first prize.
Unlike the previous race, I don’t have a strong feeling about what will follow him home.
The Game Changer is probably the next most talented horse in the field – but he has a marked preference for decent ground.
That’s also the case with Fox Norton – who, despite that, will hopefully give Brian a good day out (and maybe a bit of place money !).
Alisier D’Irlande is probably the most interesting runner in the race – as he likes to go from the front.
He also likes soft ground, so there is a chance he could add a bit of interest to the race.
More likely however, Douvan will brush him aside: either early if he doesn’t tare off – or late, if he does !
Ballybolley completes the line-up – but he is really only a decent handicapper, so it’s difficult to make much of a case for him.

3:40: Thistlecrack is the third long odds-on shot to be running on the afternoon – and he looks the most vulnerable…
Ofcourse, that vulnerability is relative – he’s still more likely to win than he is to lose, but I can see a couple of potential chinks in his armour…
Firstly, he’s had quite a long season – and has consistently been operating at the highest level. He looked as good as ever at Cheltenham last time – but they can’t stay at a peak indefinitely – and sooner or later, it will catch up with him…
Secondly, he faces some pretty decent opposition this afternoon…
Different Gravey was massively impressive when hammering a good field under top weight, on his belated debut at Ascot.
Whilst Prince of Scars comfortably beat Alpha Des Obeaux at Leopardstown over Christmas – and strictly on that form line, has very little ground to make up on Thistlecrack (who beat the same horse by slightly further when winning the World hurdle).
Shaneshill is also of interest, on his return to hurdles: and whilst Aqalim is unlikely to win, he is no mug and will be well suited by the conditions.
In short, this will be no cakewalk for Thistlecrack – with the opposition probably stronger than that he faced when winning at Cheltenham.
An option could be to simply lay Thistlecrack –  just over 3/1 for the field, seems like a fair bet.
However, I’ve opted for a more conventional back of Prince of Scars.
Soft ground is key for him, so last nights rain will have played right into his hands.
He comes here a fresh horse – and is much improved this season.
His form with Alpha Des Obeaux, gives him every chance of giving Thistlecrack a real race  – and at 20/1 this morning, I think he is worth a bet to finish in the top 2.
One slight concern I do have, is that there might be no pace in the race. That could make it all a bit of a lottery – and whilst that would be another reason for opposing Thistlecrack, it wouldn’t necessarily favour Prince of Scars…

4:20: Those of you who follow the official eye catchers, won’t have been too surprised to see me tipping Roc D’Apsis in this.
He caught my eye last time out in the Betbright chase at Kempton, when finishing well to take third place behind Theatre Guide.
That was the first time Roc D’Apsis had tried 3 miles – and it looked as if he was ridden to get the trip.
The way he finished that day, left little doubt that 3 miles is well within his compass, so I would expect him to be given a more prominent ride today.
Dickie Johnson was in the saddle at Kempton, as regular jockey, Paddy Brennan, was on board the winner Theatre Guide.
Brennan is back on board today – which is quite interesting, as he is also the regular pilot of early favourite, Mystifiable.
I don’t know whether Brennan had the choice of mounts, but having him riding certainly isn’t a negative.
Roc D’Apsis is a young, progressive horse and his win on his seasonal debut at Stratford, showed that he can handle both going left handed and soft ground.
I can see no reason why he won’t run a big race this afternoon – and am hopeful that Paddy will be able to get him home in front.
Soft ground could certainly spoil the chances of a few of his rivals – and whilst Mystifiable should handle it, that combined with a step up in trip and much stronger opposition, could prove a bit much for him to bite off.
Knock House won’t appreciate soft ground; and whilst Virak and Cloudy Too will, they both look a touch high in the weights…
Coologue could be the main danger – as there is a chance he will get an uncontested lead. However, there is also a chance that Dickie will be too forceful on him and he won’t get home.
Band of Blood should get home – but I suspect it will be after a few of the others.
He was an official eye catcher at Doncaster on his penultimate outing – but my feeling was he needed more of a stamina test than he will get today.

5:15: The 2016 Grand National !
All season long, I’ve been banging on about the chances of Goonyella in this – provided he got soft ground.
It looked unlikely yesterday, when the National course was definitely riding on the quick side – but overnight rain on saturated ground, is likely to have turned things in his favour.
And if it has, then I think he will take a lot of beating.
He’s been on my radar for over 12 months – since he ploughed through the Uttoxeter mud to take the Midlands Grand national.
He followed that up with a huge run to finish second in the Scottish national – and all of this season has been about one race.
Ofcourse, he’s going to need luck: and Johnny Burke will need to ride an intelligent race – but if he does, and the ground rides as I expect, I will be surprised if he’s not there or thereabouts…
If he does get beaten, then I think it will most likely be by one of two horses: either Holywell of Gallant Oscar.
I’m not interested in backing either of them EW – as I think they will either win or bust…
Holywell has the form to win this. I don’t particularly like the horse – but I can’t crab his record – nor the fact that he is a much better horse in the spring.
He finished fourth in last seasons Gold Cup – miles ahead of Silviniaco Conti and Many Clouds – yet he gets almost a stone off both of them today.
He won’t lack for stamina – but whether he’ll be prepared to jump the fences is a different matter.
He’s not a particularly big horse - and they just could be too much for him. But if they aren’t, it will take a very good one to beat him.
Gallant Oscar is the other one that I’m only interested in backing to win.
He looks to have been plotted up by Tony Martin – and the overnight rain has improved his chances markedly.
It’s not possible to argue his chance using the form book, in the same way as Holywell – but I have a suspicion he will produce his best every performance today.
If he does, then once again, it will take a good one to beat him…
I want a couple of others on side, EW, at big prices.
The overnight rain has influenced my thinking with these 2, as both will appreciate cut in the ground, more than most.
The first is Unioniste.
He was a faller last year, when running from an 8lb higher mark. He was just a 16/1 shot that day – and will appreciate todays soft ground more than the good to soft he got then.
His recent run at Kelso behind Many Clouds, was promising enough – and provided he doesn’t remember last years fall, I can see this normally sound jumper going very well.
The other one is Boston Bob.
He won a Grade 1 at this meeting a couple of seasons ago – and followed that up by wining another Grade 1 at the Punchestown festival.
He spent all of last season running in Grade 1 company - but wasn’t quite up to mixing it with the very best.
A couple of poor runs this season have seen the handicapper drop his mark – but he showed when winning last time, that the fire still burns.
He’s another who will appreciate soft ground - and at a big price, is worth having on side.
The rain has put me off both Sainte Are and Shutthefrontdoor – I would have given them both a good chance on decent ground.
I would also have put up Hadrian’s Approach EW – but he wants a quick surface.
I don’t think the rain will help the chances of either Many Clouds or Silviniaco Conti – as it will make it that much more difficult to carry a big weight.
It will also make it more of a stamina test, which won’t suit either O’Faolains Boy, Morning Assembly – or official eye catcher, Double Ross

6:10: This is really not a race that I fancy having a go at – particularly on the back of the Grand National !
The money for Dell ‘Arca looks significant – as he is potentially a well handicapped horse, who could improve for the fitting of blinkers.
Automated is the other really interesting one, for the Gordon Elliot/Jack Kennedy combination – but he is disputing favouritism with Dell ‘Arca !
Frodon is the third one to interest me – but he’s third favourite for the race, so I’ve done really well !
Fourth favourite, is Boite. He was an official eye catcher when running last time at Newbury.
My issue with him today, is that he has a preference for quick ground – and my expectation/hope is that he won’t get it…!

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Advice Summary



Aintree 3:40 Prince of Scars 0.125pt EW 20/1
Aintree 4:20 Roc D’Apsis 0.375pt win, 0.125pt place 10/1
Aintree 5:15 Goonyella 0.125 EW 25/1 
Aintree 5:15 Holywell 0.125 win 16/1 
Aintree 5:15 Gallent Oscar 0.125 win 18/1 
Aintree 5:15 Unioniste EW 33/1 (0.125pt staked)
Aintree 5:15 Boston Bob EW 40/1 (0.125pt staked) 

Eye Catchers

Aintree 1:45 Join the Clan
Aintree 4:20 Roc D’Apsis
Aintree 4:20 Band of Blood
Aintree 5:15 Double Ross

Aintree 6:10 Boite