Monday, 29 February 2016

Review of the day

There was no joy for Blades Lad at Southwell this afternoon.
I wanted to see some significant market support for him – but it never materialised.
In contrast, the money came for Santas Secret (11/1 early into 11/2 at the off) – and as is so often the case in these lower class races, it proved prophetic…

Maybe the ground was still a touch slow for Blades Lad – but whatever the reason, he turned in a laboured performance…

That wasn’t the case with Top Pick, Lil Rockerfell, at Fontwell.
He looked to have plenty in his favour – and won in fine style.
His SP of 7/4 was tight – but I guess you can’t have everything !

It was a similar situation with Thinger Licht, who comfortably won the previous race on the card.
Again, he looked by far the most likely winner this morning – and duly delivered.
Maybe an SP of 5/2 wasn’t too bad…

Back at Southwell, Amiral Collonges, ran better than last time at Huntingdon - but was still a little disappointing.
The form of his stable, was possibly the issue.

In the same race, Pyrshan ran much better – reversing placings with his Ascot conqueror.
That surprised me a little – but it don’t surprise the market, as he was backed in from 12/1 early, to 9/2 at the off…

Over at Leopardstown, Aurora Bell was another very well backed horse (12/1 into 6/1) – but unfortunately, having travelled nicely, he couldn’t pick up when it mattered.

In the following race, Court Frontier and Fr Humphrey were sent off 7/2 favourites – but both finished nearer last than first.
Fr Humphrey showed some promise and maybe just needed the run: but Court Frontier was simply disappointing.
You have to think that maybe something isn’t quite right with him, at the moment…


Daily write-up - Feb 28th

There are 3 NH meetings this afternoon: at Fontwell and Southwell in the UK – and Leopardstown in Ireland.

The ground continues to dry out: I dare say it won’t be long before they start talking about watering at Cheltenham !
That’s in the future however (just over 2 weeks away, for anyone who’s wondering !).

There’s not much to be said about todays 3 cards: they are reasonable enough, without being spectacular.
I’ve found 1 tip on the day – and 1 Top Pick.

Just a quick reminder that if you fancy attending the TVB day at the races – Uttoxeter:  Saturday 2nd April – and want a cheap ticket, you need to register your interest on the forum today (I plan on ordering tickets this evening).

Similarly, if anyone else is interested in the syndicate that Neil is considering setting up, I’m sure he would appreciate knowing asap…

On to today then – and my thoughts on a few of the races…


2:10: I have to admit, I’m a little surprised that Blades Lad is a relatively easy to back, 6/1 shot in this…
We were on him when he won a similar contest 3 runs ago, off a 4lb lower mark - and I think he has every chance of going in again today.
In fairness, he only just got home that day at Musselburgh – but late rain had softened the ground – and I think he only just got away with it.
I’m hopeful that the Southwell surface will be quicker today (the current going stick reading is 7.3 – which is roughly good to soft).
Since that win, he has run 3 times: twice over fences and once on the flat.
He finished unplaced on both of the jumps outings – but they were in better class races than todays (class 3 contests at Ascot and Musselburgh) and on softer ground as well.
He actually won the flat race – which if nothing else, demonstrates that he remains in good heart.
He is Brians Hughes only ride of the day – so there are ticks in plenty of boxes – and a subtle sign as well !
In terms of his rivals, then it’s difficult to get overly excited about any of them.
That said, in these relatively low grade affairs, there is always the chance that something will show marked improvement.
The betting says that Trapper Peak is most likely to do that, on his second outing for Alex Dunn. I also have a slight worry about both Santas Son and Netherby (though neither could be fancied on recent form).
With a straight bat however, I think Blades Lad is the one to beat.
He should be well suited by conditions; is in decent form; and is the only ride, for his top jockey.
Hopefully the betting will pick up on him, close to the off !

3:40: I quite fancy Amiral Collonges in this – though not quite sufficiently to tip him…
He was a really impressive winner at Ascot on his penultimate outing – before disappointing badly on his most recent run, when favourite for a much better race at Huntingdon.
That poor performance was attributed to a mistake at the very first hurdle - and I guess that’s a possibility (if he knocked himself). Certainly he looked a shadow of the horse who ran at Ascot…
His mark was raised 10lb for the Ascot win, but I felt he deserved at least that.
On the flip side, his trainer James Evans, hasn’t been in great form recently, so that tempers enthusiasm…
The other one I’ll be keeping an eye on in the race, is Pyrshan.
We were on him in the Ascot race won by Amiral Collonges – and whilst he was no match for the winner that day, a 12lb weight pull should bring them closer.
I wouldn’t have thought it would be enough for Pyrshan to turn the tables – though I guess it wouldn’t be impossible…


2:50: Thinger Licht looks the one to beat in this – but unfortunately, he’s been installed as favourite…
He transferred into the care of Dan Skelton last spring, and quickly won 3 out of his first 4 races for the stable.
He was pulled up on the fifth one, in July and given a long break after that, only returning to action at Market Rasen, last month.
He ran a cracker there, finishing second to the in-form Sunny Ledgend, on ground that would been much softer than he wanted.
Todays better ground will be far more suitable – and with that run under his belt, I think will take a bit of beating.
Half cases can be made for a few of his rivals – but non look as solid as he does.

3:20: This is the best race of the day – but again, I think the right horse is at the top of betting.
As you are probably aware, I’m a big fan of Lil Rockerfella – and under what appear to be almost ideal conditions, I think he will take a lot of beating this afternoon.
I felt the main danger in the race was Adrien du Pont – but he’s now a NR – so that’s a result !
However, as a consequence, you can’t now beat 5/2 about Lil Rockerfella – and that feels tight, against some decent opposition.
That said, I think conditions will suit him better than most of his rivals – and I think he’s the best horse in the race.
I think that I’ll make him a Top Pick…


4:00: If she bounces back to form (and there is a chance she will), then Dressedtothenines is likely to take all the beating in this.
Rated 145 over hurdles, she runs off a mark of 125 over fences today.
She is potentially thrown in – and has the right man in the saddle, in the shape of Barry Geraghty, if today is the day.
The market close to the off, will doubtless advise on her chances – but without that knowledge, I’d be inclined to side with Aurora Bell.
He was very progressive last spring – and ran well enough on his return to action, behind Riverside City, in the Troytown chase.
That was back in November – and he wasn’t seen in action again until 10 days ago, over hurdles at Clonmel.
He ran well again that day, finishing second to Urano.
Assuming he has fully recovered from that run – and it has brought him on, then I could see him running very well, this afternoon.
12/1 feels a fair enough price (possibly EW).

4:30: Court Frontier is a horse I’ve been watching closely this season.
He’s been hammered in the market on his last 2 outings – but disappointed badly on both.
I felt there might have been reasons on his penultimate run – but it was hard to forgive him last time.
I have no doubt he has plenty of ability – and is probably well handicapped - but we really need to see it on the track before we consider supporting him.
Of more interest, is Fr Humphrey.
He’s been an impressive winner of his last two chases – though the most recent, was back in November.
That said, the one before, was last May – so he can clearly go well fresh.
The booking of Jack Kennedy is almost a tip in itself - and his trainer, May Louise Hallahan, has really stepped up her game this season.
At a price I could have been interested in him – but he’s been backed down to 4/1 and that feels too short to being getting involved.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Advice Summary


(E) Southwell 2:10 Blades Lad 0.375pt win 6/1

Top Picks

Fontwell 3:20 Lil Rockerfella 

Review of the day

Thanks to ‘go to Paddy’ the tips turned in a profit today – which was some consolation for events earlier in the week.

He steered Theatre Guide to as easy a win as you’ll see in a big handicap – further franking the form of Smad Place.

I was keen on him yesterday evening – but my enthusiasm had diminished a little by this morning.
I still thought he had a good chance - I could just see lots of potential dangers !
Well, thankfully non of them materialised, and he came home alone.

The saver tip, Viva Steve, ran a good race to finish sixth – but simply lacked the class required to win such a race…

The day didn’t start too well, with Vendor getting well beaten at Newcastle.
In his defence (and mine !) the ground was much quicker there, than I expect (much, much quicker !) – and that definitely didn’t suit him.
He was outpaced from the home turn – and it was to his credit, that he stayed on to finish third.

I’m still not convinced the horse has finished winning this season – but he’ll want 2m4f on ground like he encountered today – or for the heavens to open again…

I don’t think the quick ground did Woodford County any favours either.
He is woefully (or loveably !) one paced. All he will ever do is grind – so when the leaders quickened down the straight, he was left floundering.

The saver in the race, Cork Citizen, was being scrubbed along from an early stage (probably down to the ground again) and he already looked well beaten when interfered with, and unseating.

Back at Kempton, Vicenzo Mio ran a reasonable race in the handicap hurdle - but didn’t settle well enough to give himself a chance of getting home.
He looked like he needs a return to 2 miles (plus maybe a few less pounds on his back).

Conversely, De Kerry Man looks like he needs a step back up in trip (plus possibly softer ground).
He was taken off his feet in the following handicap chase - which was won in good style, by the morning gamble, Ericht.

The final tip to run on the day, was Batavir.
He ran a decent race to finish third - briefly looking like he might win, running to the final flight, but ultimately not having the stamina reserves of the two who beat him.
I can have no complaints over him…

Also at Chepstow, Arthurs Oak maintained the 100% winning record of the eye catchers !
His race panned out exactly as I would have hoped – the only surprise was a winning SP of 11/4.

As for the mentions:
Then Wild Bill didn’t seem to quite get home at Chepstow – he is one to keep on the radar:
At Sandown, Mon Successor was cruising in the Pendil when taking a nasty looking fall 4 out. You have to think he would have gone very close.
Whilst at Newcastle, despite being very strong in the betting, Blakemount ran disappointingly.
Again, I would suggest that was down to the ground.
Finally, Seeyouatmidnight was a workman like winner of the opener. His performance won’t have pleased everyone – but I suspect it served its purpose.
Again, without wishing to sound like a broken record, the good ground would have done him no favours…


Daily write-up - Feb 27th

There are 4 NH meetings this afternoon: Kempton, Newcastle and Chepstow in the UK – plus Navan in Ireland.

The Navan meeting doesn’t have many treasures, but all 3 UK meetings put on some interesting races.

Realistically, this is the last day on which horses with Cheltenham aspirations, are likely to run.
In truth, it is probably a bit close to the festival – but for one or two, needs must…

From a tipping perspective, this has turned into the biggest day of the month, by some margin.
I’ve issued tips in 6 races – and could easily have tipped in a few more.
I guess the return of some reasonable ground, coupled with some decent horses, has fired me back into action !

I’d like to say that some of the tips were racing certainties - but sadly that’s not the case.
That said, I do think they all have a decent chance - and represent a bit of value – so fingers crossed that one or two of them can come home in front.
We’ve not had much luck this week – hopefully that will change soon.
Either way, today is likely to be the defining day for the month – fingers crossed !!

Here are my thoughts on the main races…


2:35: This is a very weak looking renewal of the Grade 2 Pendil chase.
You would normally expect to see horses with genuine graded pretensions competing (even if they didn’t subsequently reach that level) – but that’s not the case today.
All 5 runners are pretty much established as handicappers – but despite that, one of them has to win.
On official ratings, Mon Successor and The Saint James are the most likely - and of the two, I would prefer the former.
He is trained by Paul Nichols, who has a tremendous record in the race – and the horse also has further scope for improvement.
He was disappointing last time – but it was the last one of a number of hard races – and it was on very heavy ground.
I think he can bounce back to form this afternoon.
The other one of interest, is Twelve Roses. He was very impressive on his chasing debut – but has disappointed on his 2 most recent runs.
He’s been given a 3 month break – and if he were to bounce back today, he could go close.
The market will likely advise on his chance.

3:35: Initially, I was very keen on Theatre Guide in this – but my enthusiasm for him has tempered a little…
I still think he’s got a good chance - but the more I look at the race, the more dangers I see (perhaps I should stop looking !).
The main reason I fancy him, is because of his run in this yeas Hennessy.
He finished second in that race – well beaten by Smad Place – but Smad Place clearly had a ton in hand of his mark that day, so nothing was ever going to get near him.
If you take him out of the race, then Theatre Guide was a good winner (considering he made a really bad mistake just after half way) – and he gets to run off exactly the same mark this afternoon.
He will have no issue with trip, track or ground – and I particularly like the fact that Paddy Brennan is riding him, even though Tom George has a runner in the race, who looks to have half a chance.
I’ll be surprised (and disappointed) if Theatre Guide doesn’t run a very big race – I’m just a little concerned that there might be one or two too good for him…
Top of the list of horses who might beat him, is Thomas Brown.
He’s still only a novice (so comes with risks) – but he has plenty of potential upside (and could be well handicapped).
Unfortunately, the market is wise to him and 7/1 seems about the right price…
At a bigger price, I think Viva Steve has a chance.
He ran a big race over course and distance during the Christmas period, when runner up to The Last Samurai.
He disappointed last time out at Cheltenham - but the undulating track and heavy ground didn’t appear to suit him. I think that run can be ignored
He is effectively 6lb higher today than he was at Christmas – but he is an improving sort and maybe capable of defying that rise.
I think he is worth having on side, at a decent price.
The others who worry me are Rocky Creek, Champagne West, Ziga Boy, Ruben Cotter, Roc D’Apsis and Ballykhan.
Water tight case can’t be made for any of them – but all are capable of running big races.
Clearly, quite a tough race to sort out – but hopefully Theatre Guide and Viva Steve will give us a good run for our money.

4:10: I really don’t think this race is as competitive as the numbers suggest and I’ll be surprised if the winner doesn’t come from Clean Sheet, Vicenzo Mio and Hannibal the Great.
Clean Sheet is the obvious one. He was very well backed for his delayed seasonal debut at Cheltenham, last month – but ran as if needing it.
Clearly he is well thought of – and he could prove very difficult to beat. However, he has been installed 7/4 favourite - and that leaves no margin for error.
Vicenzo Mio is the obvious one to take him on with.
We were actually on him last time, when he appeared not to get home in the Ladbroke at Ascot, just before Christmas.
I’m hoping that race was just a bit too competitive for him, at this point in his career – and todays contest represents quite a drop in class.
It also represents a drop in class from his penultimate run at Sandown.
He finished a close up third to Lil Rockerfella that day – which is very good handicap form.
My feeling is that Vicenzo Mio is well handicapped on a mark of 129 – and that’s ignoring Harry Cobdens 7lb claim.
I have a slight concern about the trip – the key will be to get him to settle early. If young Harry can achieve that, I think he’ll take a lot of beating.
The potential fly in the ointment, is Hannibal the Great.
He’s not been on the track for nearly 3 years – so could never be tipped. However, he has decent looking novice form from 3 seasons ago - and appears to be well fancied by the market…
Hopefully that support will dry up close to the off – because he could be a real danger if it doesn’t.

4:45: De Kerry Man is another who we were on last time.
That was in the Classic chase at Warwick over 3m5f.
De Kerry Man tanked through that race – but was always doing too much and was a spent force, when he fell at the second last.
He’s cut back to 2m4f today, which I think will suit him much better. He’s also been dropped 3lb by the handicapper – which is a definite bonus !
I’m sure he will be given an attacking ride – and provided his jumping is up to the job, I think he will take a bit of pegging back.
Again, the race isn’t as competitive as numbers would suggest.
Cernunnus is favourite - but he appears to be very weak in the market – and I am happy enough to oppose him, at the prices.
Conversely, Ericht appears very strong in the betting – and that is a worry.
Like Leo Luna yesterday, he is potentially a very well handicapped horse – and if connections have decided that today is the day, he will be difficult to beat.
He will certainly appreciate the better ground – though he can miss out the odd fence.
Of the others, then Comeonginger has to be respected.
He could also be a nuisance for De Kerry Man, as he is another who likes to front run.
Hopefully De Kerry Man will be a bit too quick for him !
Cloudy Bob is a solid option – but he would prefer softer ground; whilst you get the feeling that West Wizard is capable of more than he has shown so far – but it would take an act of faith to support him…


1:50: Just a quick mention for Seeyouatmidnight, who has his warm up for the RSA chase in this.
He’s clearly not a betting proposition (1/6 !) – but hopefully all will go smoothly and he can book his ticket to the festival (and in the ‘right’ race !).

2:20: I’m counting on our old friend, Vendor in this.
We’ve been following him all season – and have been on him twice: when second at Wetherby in November – and when wining at the same track, the following month.
He was raised 8lb for the win – and I thought that might be too much for him, but his last 2 runs have suggested that isn’t the case.
On the first of them, he looked sure to win (again at Wetherby), but ran out of stamina, close home (that was over 2m4f).
His most recent run was at Musselburgh. That is essentially a speed track – and whilst Vendor doesn’t lack pace, it wouldn’t be his ideal course.
Despite that, he again nearly won – only finding the progressive Shrewd too good, close home.
He’s been raised a further2lb for that run – which isn’t ideal. However, he gets to race on a more suitable track today – and on his preferred soft ground.
From a handicapping perspective, he is not a good thing – and I guess that’s why he’s not particularly strong in the betting.
However, looking through the race, I couldn’t see anything that was massively progressive…
Draytonian s the obvious one, but I have some doubts over him – and the betting doesn’t seem overly keen this morning, either…
The biggest danger could well turn out to be Cape Caster.
He’s the only horse Evan Williams sends from South Wales – which is possibly a tip in itself – and he ran a nice race last time at Cheltenham.
I have a few concerns about whether he is a ‘proper’ NH horse (he’s ex flat) – but he might get away wit hit today, if the ground isn’t too soft…

2:50: Woodford County is another old friend that I’m turning to this afternoon…
We were on him in last seasons Eider, when he finished an honourable third to Millborough.
He’s a few pounds better off with the winner today – but more importantly, a little more mature.
He was only 8 last season, so it was always going to be a big ask. He raced very keenly in the race – and ultimately, I think that’s why he didn’t get home.
We were also on him this season, when he won the Devon National in December.
He was more relaxed in the race that day, which meant he had more energy left when it really mattered. Hopefully things will pan out in a similar fashion this afternoon.
As you would expect, this is a competitive race.
Of the favourites, then Ballyculla is the one I fear most. He looks as if he has been laid out for the race and I would expect him to run well.
Chances can be given to a number of the others, but the other one I want on side, is Cork Citizen.
He’s a real ‘dark horse’.
He’d spent all of his life in PTPs and Hunter chases in Ireland, prior to making his debut for David Pipe at Taunton, last month.
He ran a cracker that day, just failing to get up close home – and looking for all the world, a winner next time.
Ofcourse, I didn’t expect that ‘next time’ he would be running in such a valuable race – but the fact that David Pipe is prepared to run him in it, possibly says something.
I suspect he’s the sort that will either go very close - or blow out completely,
At early odds of 16/1, I think it’s worth having him on side.

4:35: I might have been prepared to take a chance on Blakemount in this at a price - but that price would have needed to be bigger than 4/1…
In truth, you can argue that 4/1 is a fair price – if the horse is at its peak.
Certainly he has enough ability to win off a mark of 132 – though he does tend to find the odd fence getting in his way !
Aside from his jumping, the other concern, is his fitness.
It was early November when Blakemount last ran – so he could easily need this.
If he remains strong in the betting – and you fancy taking a chance on his jumping, then I wouldn’t put you off a small play on him.


2:40: Wild Bill is another one that I might have taken a risk on…
Again, I think you can argue that his current price of 4/1 is fair enough – though he also comes with some concerns…
This time it is primarily the ground.
He appears to have a marked preference for good ground – so whether he will cope with Chepstow’s soft, is a mute point.
That said, Evan Williams must have known it would be soft when he declared him – so you do wonder why he would run him, if it is a genuine concern (the horse also ran well until falling, in heavy ground at Ffos Las).
I guess it’s just a difficult situation to read – and a trappy race as well.
Of the others, then I could see Ivy Gate running well, at a price – though probably not quite well enough to win.

3:45: Kings Palace is the obvious one in this – but he strikes me as almost a bit too obvious…
He is now best known as a chaser – though he is in danger of becoming a disappointing one.
He was well beaten when fancied for last seasons RSA chase – and also well beaten when favourite for this seasons Paddy Power chase.
There is a chance that he will bounce back to form today, over hurdles – as he certainly has a lot of class - but his need to lead won’t make it easy in such a competitive race.
I’d rather take a chance on his stablemate Batavir.
This one has a bit of an in and out profile. A good win at Wincanton last Christmas, was followed by a disappointing run at Doncaster.
This season, he ran a cracker on his second outing of the season at Haydock – but has disappointed twice since then.
He is now back down to the same mark he won form at Wincanton  - and that makes him interesting.
What makes him even more interesting is the application of first time blinkers - and the knowledge that he really needs to win today, in order to get in to the Pertemps final at the festival (which is his stated target).
Kings Palace should put pace to the race, and help him to settle – and if he does that, he must have a decent chance off his feather weight…
This is another race which isn’t as competitive as the numbers suggest and hopefully Batavir will be able to come home in front.

4:20: Arthurs Oak is the second ‘eye catcher’ to run since being added to the list – and as with the first (Unioniste), he’s found himself in a small field race.
He is taken on by just 4 opponents – though that shouldn’t matter too much, as he likes to front run.
Ofcourse what it does mean, is that there is very little juice in his price – though I think the general 5/2 (11/4 in places), is fair…
Aside from the price, there is nothing to put me off him.
He will have conditions to suit – and could get an uncontested lead.
He is also Venetia’s only runner on the card, which I would see as a positive.
I’m tempted to make him a Top Pick – I’m just a bit worried that either Oscar Sunset or Grey Gold will pick him off close home.
He could certainly set the race up for them – though they will have to be tough to go past him…

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Advice Summary


(E) Kempton 3:35 Theatre Guide 0.375pt win 9/1
(E) Kempton 3:35 Viva Steve 0.125pt win 18/1
(E) Kempton 4:10 Vicenzo Mio 0.375pt win 9/1
(E) Kempton 4:45 De Kerry Man 0.25pt win 6/1
(E) Newcastle 2:20 Vendor 0.5pt win 4/1
(E) Newcastle 2:50 Woodford County 0.25pt win 12/1
(E) Newcastle 2:50 Cork Citizen 0.125pt win 14/1
(E) Chepstow 3:45 Batavir 0.25pt win 10/1

Eye Catchers

Chepstow 4:20 Arthurs Oak

Review of the day

I should have known better than to suggest the other day, that we’d recently been a bit short of runners up...

Over the years, the service has had more than it’s fair share of second places – and we got 2 more this afternoon, to add to the tally.
First it was Renard, who ran exactly the race I expected, but was picked off close home by Minella Reception.
I didn’t think there was a progressive horse in the race – but Minella Reception was clearly just that, and he waltzed passed Renard between the last 2 fences.

In fairness, to Renard, he battled on bravely, having probably done a bit too much early, in the cheek pieces.
He’ll likely be dropped another pound or two – and on truly soft ground, he could still have a relatively modest event in him.

Next up it was No Duffer.
The market move (14/1 into 7/1) and the race position taken up by Paddy Brennan (tucked in behind the leaders), made it clear very early, that we were on a ‘live’ on with him.
Unfortunately, he managed to bump into an even live-er one !

Leo Luna had shown absolutely nothing in 3 runs this season – and had plummeted down the handicap as a result.
However, he too was very well backed and under an aggressive ride from Jamie Moore, had too many guns for No Duffer.
It was always a possibility - but it was a real shame…

As for the mentions:

Then Saroque could easily have been a third second placed tip on the day.
Again, he ran really well – but bumped into one, in the shape of Fourovakind, who was returning to form, having shown little earlier in the season.
And again, the market foretold the improvement…

The market also foretold the poor run by Pemba.
She was odds on with bookmakers early this morning (around even money on BF) – but had drifted out to 7/4 at the off.
The story was similar with Winner Massagot and Simply Ned on Sunday – and again, the layers got it right, as she weakened out of things up the straight.
The area of laying weak favourites close to the off, definitely warrants investigation.

Milansbar battled bravely to win the handicap chase – the market didn’t say a lot about him pre-race.
It didn’t day much about Albert Dolivate either – but he managed to bump into an improver and was another one who had to settle for a second placing, thereby capping a day of near misses…

Finally, just a reminder that as it’s a Friday, I will open the tipping window at 6:00 in case there is anything I can tip this evening in tomorrows big races.


Daily write-up - Feb 26th

There are 2 NH meeting today: at Exeter and Warwick…

And very nice meetings they are too – for a mid week, anyway.
Both put on 2 or 3 races of interest – and finding a tip, was never going to be much of an issue.

More of an issue is gauging the state of the ground.
It’s getting on for a week since we had any significant rain; so ground that was heavy, is now starting to dry out a bit.
In all honesty, I’ve no idea how it will be riding.
The suggestion from the official descriptions and going readings, is that it will be soft (ish).
Time alone will tell…

I’m therefore continuing to tread carefully – but I have got view on a number of the races.
As is invariably the case nowadays, the market will doubtless be the best guide, close to the off.
Hopefully I can point you in the right direction - and you can use the market to help you decide on the final bets.

Here are my thoughts.


3:45: As grade 2 contests go, this is a shocker !
It is supposed to be for horses rated 0-150 – but the top weight is only rated 140 (so 10lb shy of the race ceiling).
Renard, the bottom weight, is rated 121 – and with that rating would virtually be able to run in class 4 events !
You would expect far more from a £30K race – the Warwick course executive must be disappointed…
Non of the runners have solid credentials: it says much, the 12 year old Araldur and the novice Deep Trouble (who unseated at Market Rasen as recently as Sunday), are disputing favouritism…
The one to beat in the race, is the other horse disputing favouritism, Howlongisafoot.
That said, he doesn’t set too demanding a standard – and only looks reasonably handicapped, provided you are prepared to view the 7lb claim of Harry Cobden as ‘a gift’.
The horse has fallen and pulled up on its two latest runs – and whilst better can be expected today, you would expect stronger credentials from a 3/1 shot…
I had it in my mind not to tip Renard again, but in the circumstances, I just have to take a risk.
The horses is incredibly well handicapped (over a stone lower in the weights than when I tipped him on his seasonal debut – when I thought he was a cert !) – though he’s been very well handicapped for a few runs, so that’s not the reason.
I also have a feeling that he would prefer softer ground than he’s going to get – so that’s not the reason either !
The reason I’m tipping him, is because he is running over his ideal trip (2m4f) on a course that favours front runners.
He has a natural tendency to front run anyway, but with cheek pieces applied for the first time in ages, I’m pretty sure he will lead today.
I also like the fact that Aiden Coleman is on board.
He could have gone to Exeter (where Venetia has fancied runners), so him being at Warwick instead, strikes me as a positive.
I’m hoping that he will set out to make all – get into a good rhythm – and just draw away from the field.
I didn’t think the horse would get a better chance to win a decent pot that first time up this season - but today looks almost as easy.
I’m sure Venetia will have him spot on – almost as sure Aiden will ride the right race  - so provided the horse retains a modicum of his former ability, he has to go very close.

4:15: This looks as strong a race as the previous one – but has a third of the prize money fund !
There are 3 or 4 horses of definite interest – and I’ve put forward No Duffer, mainly on the grounds of value (which is becoming an increasingly rare commodity !).
The horses hasn’t run for nearly 3 months – and was pulled up quite sharply when he was last seen.
The fitting of a first time tongue tie suggests he may have had a problem that day – and whilst I’m generally not keen to support a horse wearing a tongue tie, I’m prepared to make an exception if the price is big enough (and a solid case can be made).
If you ignore that run (and the tongue tie !), then I think a very solid case can be made for No Duffer.
Having switched from Henry Daly to Tom George, last season, he was steadily progressive.
A win at Stratford was followed by another win at Sandown.
His final 2 runs at Newbury and Cheltenham suggested that maybe the improvement had plateaued – but he has been dropped 7lb since then, and now races off a mark just 1lb higher than when successful at Sandown.
He’s only run twice this season: he was too fresh on his debut at Cheltenham – and was then pulled up last time, at Sandown.
Clearly he needs to bounce back today – but Tom George has his stable in decent form and the horse can run well fresh.
He should also appreciate the better ground he gets today – and is a previous winner at the Warwick track.
Certainly he has ticks in enough boxes to warrant taking a risk at a price…
Of the others: then What a Good Night is interesting, in first time cheek pieces (though I would prefer to see Harry Skelton on board): Farbreaga is interesting on his first run for Harry Whittington; As De Fer is potentially still well handicapped – even off a mark 19lb higher than when successful at this course last time: whilst Leo Luna and Umbeto D’Olivate are both potentially very well handicapped – but have been completely out of form and would need to bounce back.
Like I said, not an easy race to unpick.
However, at a decent price, I think No Duffer is worth a small risk.


2:50: Pemba very much looks the one to beat in this – but unfortunately has been priced up accordingly.
A winner of a couple of novice hurdles, her opening handicap mark of 120 looks very fair.
Of course there is a quite a bit of guesswork involved – but non of her rivals look particularly well handicapped, which just adds to her appeal.
She is potential Top Pick material – but as she is already a shade of odds on, I’ll resist.
In truth, I think even money is about right: heads she wins; tails she doesn’t.
It’s probably as simple as that…

3:55: I was half tempted to tip Saroque in this…
Certainly on his fourth in the grade 1 Welsh National, he has a great chance – particularly off a mark 3lb lower.
However, he comes with issues…
Firstly, the ground is not as soft as he would like: secondly, he is unproven over todays marathon trip (even if he looks like he should stay it); and thirdly, he’s had a couple of very hard races in the last couple of months.
More subtly, I would prefer if Aiden Coleman were on board (though that’s a relatively small point).
I could see him leading - and running well to a point – but I’m just not sure whether he will make it home…
In truth, there aren’t that many I can fancy in the race.
Nail M and Alberobello look the 2 most likely – though they are disputing favouritism and neither is rock solid.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Merlins Wish and Thomas Wild running decent races – but it would be difficult to construct solid cases for them.
I don’t have a strong feeling for any of the others – but I wouldn’t be massively surprised if one of them won.
On balance then, probably a race to watch…

4:25: Milansbar is the one I fancy in this.
He is well enough handicapped on hurdles form and has gradually been getting the hang of things over fences. However, there is minimal margin in a price of 5/2.
I actually think Imagine the Chat could be the best horse in the race – but until Rebecca Curtis comes back into some form, I couldn’t touch anything from her stable.

5:00: The betting suggests this is between Albert Dolivate and Deputy Commander and it’s difficult to argue.
The former has been running well, when most of Robert Walfords horses haven’t; and he quite possibly bumped into one last time at Kempton. He’s gone up 3lb for that run – but that’s probably fair enough, and with the stable possibly finding some form – and Sean Bowen on board for his only ride of the day - I think he’s the one to beat.
Again, he’s potential Top Pick material – but the presence of Deputy Commander has stopped me from putting him up.
He ran OK in a couple of novice events and then shaped with some promise on his handicap debut at Doncaster.
He’s stepped up in trip today – but that should suit him.
I think the winner is likely to come form this pair – but as they dominate the market, that is hardly an earth shattering statement  !

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Advice Summary


(E) Warwick 3:45 Renard 0.25pt win 7/1 (pre R4)
(E) Warwick 4:15 No Duffer 0.25pt win 14/1

Review of the day

Grandads Horses finished a honourable second at Doncaster this afternoon.

Always close to the pace, he just couldn’t reel back the enterprisingly ridden Saint Are.

I can have few complaints: he had every chance if good enough – he just bumped into one a bit better on the day.

We’ve not had many second places recently – so maybe we were due one…

In the previous race, Fingerontheswitch performed like the near certainty that I originally thought he was.
Settled in midfield, he easily made up his ground – pounced between the final two flights and had plenty left in the tank when challenged.

It was the price that put me off – but as we see day in, day out,  a short price is no barrier to success !

Neither of the potential big dangers, Fort Worth or Nightline, were particularly well backed – whilst Fingerontheswitch remained strong in the betting.

The result was therefore not a huge surprise.

On to tomorrow, then…


Daily write-up - Feb 24th

Following the abandonment of Ludlow, there is just one NH meeting today, at Doncaster…

You have to laugh: after months of incessant rain, we finally get a couple of dry days. The ground starts to improve – and then temperatures drop and the frost comes !
Don’t you just love British winters ?!?!

I really didn’t think that either of todays meetings were in much danger (despite the scheduled inspections) – but I was wrong, and following a second inspection, Ludlow was abandoned due to small areas of the track remaining frozen.
Disappointing stuff  - but as has been the case for the past couple of months – there is absolutely nothing we can do about it….

Doncaster host a fair meeting, with a couple of interesting races and I was optimistic that I would be able to find a tip or two,
However, as so often happens, the market has picked up on the horses I was most interested in and now margins are tight.
That said, I’m sure margins can get a whole lot tighter, so I’ve decided to take a small risk anyway – safe in the knowledge that at least the market agrees !

The proposed TVB day at the races, has received a reasonable response.
So far, the preferred venue appears to be Uttoxeter – but I’ll leave the forum thread open for comments for a few more days, before committing to anything.
If you could be interested (in either Uttoxeter or Newbury), then please register your interest on the thread.

Back to today – and my thoughts on the main 2 races on the Doncaster card…


3:00: When I first looked at this race yesterday, I thought Fingerontheswitch looked a near certainty…
He was a 5/1 shot on the opening show, so I was also hopeful I would be able to tip him.
However, as the evening progressed, the price got shorter - and I became less convinced that he was the sure thing I first thought.
You will now struggle to beat 2/1 – and I honestly think that is too short.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s the most likely winner of the race – but I can see 3 or 4 horses who I think are real dangers (or at least could be, with market support).
Forth Worth and Nightline are possibly the 2 most interesting.
Fort Worth hasn’t been seen for nearly 3 months – whilst it is 4 months since Nightline last ran – consequently there is a question mark over their fitness.
However, I suspect that both have been saved for the better ground – so if they are ready to go today, I would expect them to run very well.
Crosspark and Mount Haven are different in so much as they have run recently – but haven’t been at their best, again, probably due to the heavy ground.
Crosspark was a big disappointment last time; and whilst Mount Haven won – he didn’t do so as impressively as you would have liked.
I would expect both to put in improved showings today – and think that their current prices underestimate their chances (at least of placing).
Ultimately, its a race which I felt I had to leave alone (officially speaking).
Fingerontheswitch could be much better than a 123 rated animal – he should improve for todays better ground – and the market suggests he is very well fancied by connections.
As I said, he is the most likely winner…
However, from his perspective, I would be fearful of strong market support for either Nightline or Fort Worth, as both of them also have significant potential.
In terms of bets, then Crosspark and Mount Haven EW, at around 14/1, look the best way to play it.
If either one is placed, you will almost recover all of your stake – and there is the possibility of a win bonus, as well !!

3:30: I think that Godsmejudge, Night in Milan and Grandads Horse are the 3 to concentrate on in this…
All 3 will relish todays decent ground – which won’t be the case for all of the runners.
Godsmejudge is probably the one to beat, on the back of a much improved last time out run behind Ziga Boy.
That one has gone on to frank the form in no uncertain terms - and off the same mark today, Godsmejudge looks sure to run well.
My slight niggle with him, concerns todays trip… I think 3 miles is a bare minimum for him – and whilst I expect him to be staying on at the death, there is a chance that the winner will have flown by then.
Based on course and distance form from December of last season, there is absolutely nothing between Grandads Horse and Night in Milan.
When they met on that occasion, Grandads Horse came out on top by a head – and the weighs are exactly the same today.
Interestingly, they are both 5lb lower than they were that day – so they clearly have decent chances.
The better ground today will also suit them both – so there are ticks in plenty of boxes.
Choosing between them isn’t easy – but I just feel that Grandads Horse is coming to the boil (he is having just his third run of the season today); whilst Night in Milan has been on the go for a while (today is his seventh run of the season).
Price is also a factor, with Granddads Horse 2 points bigger in the betting (he was actually as big as 14/1 yesterday evening – but I have to get over that !).
I’m happy to take on the rest of the field, for various reasons – so in the circumstances, feel that Grandads Horse is still just about worth tipping.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Advice Summary


(E) Doncaster 3:30 Grandads Horse 0.25pt win 7/1

Daily write-up - Feb 21st

There are 3 NH meetings this afternoon: at Ffos Las and Market Rasen in the UK – plus Naas in Ireland.

I am a bit surprised that they are racing at Ffos Las.
Apparently it was part waterlogged yesterday – and I doubt conditions improved markedly overnight…
I’m sure the ground will be truly desperate – and once again, it will be a case of survival of the fittest…

There are no tips today – and in truth, there aren’t any particularly strong mentions either.
Too much of the racing at the moment, seems to be ‘random’.
I review the results at the end of each day and see which horses I could have picked/tipped – and too often at the moment, I wouldn’t have got the winner even after the race had been run !

Interestingly though, almost without exception, the winners are all returned at shorter prices then their form entitles them to be.
Wincanton was a classic case in point yesterday.
I suspect that every winner on the card was available at a bigger price in the morning, than the returned SP.
Clearly ‘the market’ knows which horses are capable of running big races…

Anyway, suffice to say, I’ll be keeping things very tight until conditions improve.
I’ll produce the write-ups a normal – but so far as bets are concerned, then my suggestion would be to follow the money !!

Here are my thoughts on some of todays races…

Ffos Las

3:45: I did briefly think about taking a risk on Heronshaw in this…
He is trained by one of my favourite trainers: Henry Daly; and ridden by one of my favourite jockeys: Paddy Brennan.
He also has form which entitles him to go pretty close in this – though he has been disappointing on his 2 most recent runs.
Prior to that, he ran very well on his chasing debut at Exeter – and based on his hurdles form from last season, todays trip and ground should be no issue for him.
He is also well handicapped compared to his hurdles mark – so if the first time blinkers have the desired effect, I would expect him to go very close.
The booking of Paddy Brennan for his only ride of the day, was almost the clincher for me.
However, when I looked into the stats, I was surprised (and disappointed) to see that Brennan has ridden for Henry Daly 20 times before – and never won…
Daly also has a single runner at Market Rasen – and Jake Greenhall (his stable jockey) is riding it.
The suggestion is that Heronhaw isn’t that fancied…
Ofcourse I might be reading things wrong – but if I am, I am absolutely sure there will be a glut of money for the horse.
If he goes off around 5/1 (he’s currently 10/1) then you might want to get involved – otherwise he is probably best watched…
The other one of interest in the race is Big Society.
We were on him earlier in the season at Exeter, when he barely went a yard. He followed that up, by wining comfortably at Chepstow.
A really good run at Newbury, was then followed by him pulling up at Wincanton.
You could say that the horse is ‘enigmatic’ !
It could go either way today – and I’m not sure it is possible to tell in advance.
My suggestion would be to watch them set off and see how he’s going after the first few fences.
If he is travelling sweetly, then he has the ability to go very close: if he is at the back being rousted along, he is probably best left alone !!

4:50: I wouldn’t normally get involved in a Hunter Chase – but this one looks quite interesting…
The short priced favourite, is Monkey Kingdom.
He was a decent horse under rules – and is only 8, so should be reaching his peak (whereas most of his rivals are in decline).
All things being equal, he would indeed be the one to beat - however he is trained by Rebecca Curtis and as I said yesterday, her stable are dreadfully out of form.
Certainly I wouldn’t consider backing one of hers at odd on – even in a modest hunter chase.
Night Alliance is the one that interests me.
He has won over todays course and distance - and in desperate ground.
On official ratings, he would appear to have it all to do – but he was rated 137 in his prime (higher than Monkey Kingdom is now rated).
He had his first run for new connections at Warwick last month – and ran reasonably. I would expect him to come on significantly for the run – and in a race where not many can be fancied – and where he should be handle conditions - he could be worth a small EW play at the available 16/1…

Market Rasen

2:45: Secret Door is a very short priced favourite in this.
I guess it’s a combination of form (which can be interpreted positively) and connections…
If she remains as strong to the off, she will likely win – but there must be a chance she will drift (she just looks too short).
If the stable of Lucinda Russell were in better form, I would fancy Alizee de Janeiro against her.
She bumped into a very well handicapped rival at Kelso last time, but had the rest of the field, well beaten.
I would certainly prefer backing her to place, than the favourite to win – but the stable form is a big concern (Russells stable is almost in as bad a form, as Rebecca Curtis’s stable !).
That said, it’s the only horse Russell sends down from Perth – and Peter Buchanan’s only ride of the day.
The subtle signs are quite positive…

3:30: The guys in the forum will be hoping for a win from Winner Massagot in this – and I think they might be in luck…
The horse needs to win in order to get a weight rise and secure a place in the County hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.
A number of the guys in the forum have backed the horse in a double with Next Sensation – so success today, will keep the dream alive…
In truth, conditions won’t be perfect for Winner Massagot today, as he wants better ground than he is going to get. However, at the moment, the ground at Market Rasen is about as good as there is, so I suspect Alan Kings hand has been forced.
In a way, it might not be a bad thing.
The horse almost certainly won’t perform to his peak – but if he can still win, that should mean he won’t get a massive weight rise.
I would imagine they want around 4lb – which a relatively hard fought win, should achieve.
In terms of rivals, then in truth, I can’t see anything for him to worry about.
Apterix could be dangerous – but the market doesn’t seem overly keen.
If I could guarantee he wouldn’t go odds on, I would make Winner Massagot a Top Pick – but there is a chance that people will pile into him and I don’t want to be putting up odds on shots.

5:00: My concerns over the jockey booking for Heronshaw at Ffos Las, mean that I am quite interested in Brave Buck in this…
Jake Greenhall has seemingly gone to Market Rasen to ride him – when he could have gone to Ffos Las to ride Heronshaw.
I would take that as a positive - and in truth, I can find a few other positives for Brave Buck.
Firstly, we were on him last time at Uttoxeter (so I must have fancied him then !).
More than that he was hammered in the market that day – but ran really poorly.
There was no obvious reason for that poor run – so you would have to be  a forgiving type, to support him today.
That said, he runs from a 4lb lower mark today – and in a lower class of race.
He should have no issue with either trip or ground – so there will likely be worse 8/1 shots out today…


2:55: This is a cracking little novice handicap  – but a very difficult race in which to form a strong a opinion…
At a price, I am attracted to Captain Von Trappe.
He ran 3 good races in the autumn, before seemingly disappointing on his 3 most recent outings.
However, I don’t think that his 3 most recent runs are quite as bad as they appear.
The first of them was in the grade 1 Drinmore chase, behind No More Heroes; the second was in the Paddy Power chase; and the third of them was in the Grand National trial chase at Punchestown.
He didn’t really feature in the first 2 contests (though they were both high class affairs) – but he ran with credit in the Grand National trial, just running out of steam, after the last.
Todays 2m4f trip will suit him better – and I expect him to get quite a positive ride from Jack Kennedy.
Unfortunately, it’s not a race where you can rule out many of the runners.
Most of them are relatively unexposed and whatever wins, is likely to put in an improved performance to do so.
That said, I think Captain Von Trappe has as good a chance as most – and at a general 16/1, is a reasonable EW price.

4:05: On official ratings, Simply Ned has at least 10lb in hand of all of his rivals today – and in conditions that he should relish, he very much looks the one to beat.
He ran really well at Leopardstown at Christmas, when he was arguably unlucky not to pick up the grade 1 chase, following the fall of Un De Sceauz.
In truth, he’s not a grade 1 performer – but he is a grade 2 performer and this is a grade 2 race !
Better than that for him, most of today rivals aren’t even grade 2 performers…
Twinlight and Days Hotel have both had their moments - but neither can be relied upon to perform, nowadays.
Bright New Dawn is probably Simply Neds biggest rival – but he should be able to take care of him.
Again, he is definitely Top Pick material – but I fear he may go odds on, so I’m gong to resist putting home up (I think he’s even better bet than Winner Massagot though).

4:35: Unzing is the interesting one in this.
I tipped him 3 runs ago, when he ran disappointingly at Limerick.
There was no obvious reason for that, so I left him alone on his penultimate run at Leopardstown.
He was still moving well in that race when he fell around half way.
On his most recent run, he was cut back to 2 miles – which seemed a strange move.
I wasn’t surprised to see him outpaced in that race.
Today he goes up to 3 miles – which is also a strange move (though not as strange as dropping him to 2 miles).
To be honest, we are still learning about the horse, so it impossible to be categoric about this requirements (or his level of ability).
I’ve not seen enough in recent runs to draw me in today though – so with him up against an apparent Tony Martin hot pot (White Arm), I think it is a watching brief (and the hope we learn a bit more).

Best of luck if you do choose to get involved today.