Saturday Telly Bets

Nick Hardman is back with tips for a busy Saturday of racing:

Some great racing this weekend – we have the Oaks and Derby trials at Lingfield, the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock and a cracking card at Ascot.  As if that wasn’t enough, Channel 4 are televising a whopping eight races. Plenty to get stuck into so here we go……

The C4 opener is the Long Distance Handicap Hurdle over 3m at Haydock.   You can make a case for most of these runners so it is not a race for me to get heavily involved in.  I am going to back two against the field, but to pretty small stakes.  The first is Big Easy @7/1 who has some decent hurdles form over staying trips.  I imagine he needed the run at the Aintree meeting which was his first run over obstacles since taking a Cheltenham handicap 12 months ago.  His trainer Phillip Hobbs has a great record in this race and I am certainly happy to have him onside.  Perhaps the horse open to most improvement is the Jonjo O’Neill trained Join The Clan @15/2.  He hacked up in a 3 miler at Exeter before going down narrowly over the same distance in a handicap at Exeter.  He is up 8lbs for that but he is only 5 years old and could be up to defying that rise.  AP McCoy takes the ride and a bold bid is expected.

Next up is the 1m 4f handicap at Ascot.  Glorious Protector caught the eye on his comeback and has solid credentials and some decent form in the book.  That run under his belt could be a huge advantage here, but 7/2 is a bit on the skinny side.  Lady Cecil’s Hamelin will go off favourite having won 2 of 4 starts last year and could well turn out to be a really good horse.  In fact it would be no surprise to see him rated 100+ this season.  However, I am going to take them both on with Rhombus @7/1.  Rhombus was sent off favourite for the November handicap and duly disappointed finishing 18th of the 23 runners.  Prior to that he had looked progressive and a lot of money came for him on that final run at Doncaster.  Whatever was amiss that day I am happy to forgive him and hope he can resume his progress here.  He certainly won’t be inconvenienced by soft ground.  Bet365 go ¼ odds, 3 places if you want to spread the risk and back him each-way @13/2.  I’ll take the 7/1 with William Hill win only.

The first of the classic trials at Lingfield is the Oaks Trial, a Listed race run over a distance of a shade under a mile and a half.  Casual Smile is sure to prove popular having the best form in the book, including a neck second to Tagroodah on her final start.  That form looks even better after Tagroodah went on to win the Pretty Polly Stakes.  I having been looking hard to oppose her with something and Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen’s Prize is a fascinating runner.  She won a maiden over 7f on her only start and now returns over 1m 3f 106y.  Ralph Beckett is mob handed with Moonrise Landing looking the best of his three on jockey bookings. Like Stoute’s filly, she is once raced but that win was over 10f so I am more confident she will get the trip.  This is a tough race but I think Casual Smile, if the ground remains good (has only raced on Good or better ground), will be there or thereabouts.  3/1 with William Hill and some insurance for second place will do for me.

Back to Ascot and we have another Listed race, this time over 1m 4f.  If Harris Tweed bounces back to form he will most likely win this.  That is no guarantee so I have backed Pether’s Moon @9/2 and Cap O’Rushes @13/2.  Pether’s Moon was an excellent second behind our selection Gospel Choir in a Group 2 at Newmarket last weekend and he could well be a smart horse this season.  Cap O’Rushes has solid form in the book including a 4th in the Irish Derby last season and a Group 3 win in Ireland.  If running to that level of form he has a serious shout here.

The Derby Trial at Lingfield looks a fascinating race.  A chance is taken in Aiden O’Brien’s Blue Hussar.  O’Brien’s horses ran well at the Chester meeting this week, none more so than the previously twice raced Orchestra.  I think Blue Hussar @6/1 could be in the same mould and is a nice price with in-form jockey Ryan Moore on board.  The other one at a nice price is John Gosden’s Munjaz @8/1 who made a winning return at the Craven meeting.  The step up in trip really suited him and I think he has the scope for more improvement – which he will need if he wants to get involved here.

Back to Ascot again and the 1m Fillies HandicapRibbons @9/4 is one favourite I do want to back.  Unbeaten in handicaps I am sure this is a filly can take this before going on to better things.  I thought she was better than the 2 ¼ length beating that Zurigha gave her last time out in a Listed race that was not run to suit.  I am hopeful she will be in the shake-up here and I have gone with William Hill and their 2nd place refund as a bit of insurance.

The Swinton Hurdle at Haydock looks like a typically competitive renewal.  I have gone through the card and it would be no great shock whoever were to win this.  That does not really help matters so I have gone for two each-way shouts at double figure prices.  This will be run at a furious pace with Barizan sure to go ballistic from the front and there are quite a few others who like to front run in the race.  Of those that will be at the head of affairs the one I have backed is As I Am @12/1.   She acts on any ground and has a gritty attitude.  I am hopeful rather than confident.  She has raced 14 times over jumps and has been in the first 3 home on 12 occasions.  This is a tough task but she might well be up to it.  Of the closers in the race I am quite drawn to Swing Bowler @12/1 who ran a cracker from out of the handicap in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.  Mickey Ennis takes off 7lb with his claim and that puts Swing Bowler on a mark of 138, just 2lbs higher than when 3rd in last year’s Betfair Hurdle.  Those are my two against the field.

We are taking on a few hot favourites this weekend so I am not wading in and stakes are quite modest.  As always I wish you the best of luck whatever you are backing and feel free to leave a comment or two.

Haydock 1.50pm  Join The Clan @15/2 and Big Easy @7/1

Ascot 2.05pm  Rhombus @7/1

Lingfield 2.20pm  Casual Smile @3/1

Ascot 2.40pm  Pether’s Moon @9/2 and Cap O’Rushes @13/2

Lingfield 2.55pm  Blue Hussar @6/1 and Munjaz @8/1

Ascot 3.15pm  Ribbons @9/4

Haydock 3.30pm  As I Am @12/1 and Swing Bowler @12/1 (both each-way, 4 places)


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Here come the Girls

Nick nailed 3 decent priced winners on 2000 Guineas day yesterday. Let’s see what he can do with the fillies classic today:

The fillies take centre stage on Sunday in the 1000 Guineas and the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes but first a look back at how Saturday’s selections performed.  In the opener at Newmarket, Bold Sniper ran a good race to finish third, whilst Farraaj never really featured but finished a respectable 5th.  Bold Sniper was well worth a crack at this trip but I imagine he will be doing his winning over further this season.

We were right to take on favourite Waila in the Fillies and Mares race at Goodwood as she folded tamely.  Luckily for us, Special Meaning made all in a gutsy pillar-to-post victory and it was nice to be up and running with a winner @6/1.  Back at Newmarket in the 5f Palace House Stakes, Sole Power had been smashed into 9/4 from 4/1 and he was truly magnificent.  What a horse!  Back to back winners @6/1 and 4/1 meant it was not quite relaxation time as we still needed one more winner to ensure a profit on the day.

Magic City was hugely disappointing in the 7f handicap at Goodwood.  Something may have been amiss.  Jack’s Revenge finished second but there was no catching the winner Absolutely So.  We held a strong hand in The Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket with favourite Trading Leather (backed @11/8 on Friday) and second favourite Gospel Choir and it was the second favourite who duly obliged @6/1.  Now I could relax!  Pandar @40/1 caused a bit of an upset in the 5f sprint at Goodwood with our selection Ajjaadd nowhere to be seen.  The Thirsk Hunt Cup was next and again we had the first and second favourites in Off Art (backed at 5/1 and gambled into 5/2) and Ingleby Angel (9/1).  We went close to another decent priced winner but in the end we had to settle for second with Ingleby Angel.

And so to the main event and we got the upset we thought could happen.  Unfortunately it wasn’t Outstrip but Night Of Thunder and I was left kicking myself a little.  We did mention in this column that Night Of Thunder, Ertijaal and Charm Spirit could out run their massive odds.  If one or two of you were on then let us know!  All in all I cannot argue with a decent profit on the day.

Sunday’s meeting at Newmarket kicks off with a 1m 4f Class 2 handicap.  This looks like a hot race and 8 of the 14 runners are making their seasonal debut.  Over such a distance I would want one with match fitness on my side and that one is Van Percy @7/1.  He made a winning return on the all-weather in March and has some decent form in the book.  He probably needs to improve again but Oisin Murphy takes off 3lb and he has a run under his belt so I expect him to be in the shake-up.   Of the others, C&D winner Amralah should be there or thereabouts if fully fit as will Urban Dance for Charlie Hills.  However, the most interesting runner is Brian Meehan’s Absaab who makes his debut off what looks like a workable mark.  With so many in with a shout I will just take Van Percy each-way in what is a pretty cautious approach to a competitive opener.

Channel 4 is covering the 1m 6f Class 3 handicap at Salisbury and we have a really interesting runner in Rockfella @12/1.  Hi form figures leave him with plenty to find but his first time out figures read 113 including a victory in this race in 2012 off 5lb higher.  I just can’t resist an each-way bet at that price.  Albert Bridge @4/1 looks a major player as he has some fairly useful flat form, was second in this by a neck to Rockfella in 2012 and signed off the jumps season with a win at Plumpton.  I’ll take this one win only with William Hill.

Back to Newmarket for the Dahlia Stakes over 1m 1f at 2.40pm and this looks like a cracking race.  Integral is a worthy favourite for Sir Michael Stoute who has won no fewer than 5 of the last 7 renewals.  She certainly has form in the book and is the highest rated filly in the race.  However, dangers abound everywhere with dual listed winner Zurigha, French Guineas runner up Esoterique and Gifted Girl to name but three.  Integral is the likeliest winner on form but 11/10 makes no appeal so I will sit this one out.

Next up at Newmarket we have the Class 2 6f handicap and it looks like another highly competitive race.  My two against the field are Ninjago @11/1 and Seeking Magic @12/1.  The former goes well fresh and represents the powerful Hannon/ Hughes combination.  Seeking Magic raced 6 times last year on the Flat and was never out of the first three, winning twice and he is just so consistent in big field handicaps.

The 1000 Guineas looks wide open this year and the one I did quietly fancy, My Titania, was withdrawn leaving me scratching my head for suitable alternatives.  This race has not been that kind to favourite backers and only 4 winners since Wince in 1999 have returned at single figure odds.  Recent big priced winners include Homecoming Queen @25/1 (2012), Blue Bunting @16/1 (2011) and Ghanaati @20/1 in 2009.  I actually like a few lively ones at a price and I’ll be backing them each way.

First up is Lady Cecil’s Joyeuse @20/1 (SkyBet and PaddyPower are offering ¼ odds, 4 places) and I am hoping the step up in trip brings about the required improvement to make the frame.  She wasn’t beaten far in the Fred Darling and I thought she was putting in her best work at the end.  She has to learn to settle better and the hood is on again but @20/1 I am prepared to give her a chance.

The next one is Roger Varian’s Princess Noor @33/1.  She was beaten just ¾ of a length in the Cheveley Park Stakes by Vorda who is as short as 12/1 in the betting.  The reason for the big price?  Firstly she has never raced beyond 6f so you cannot say with any degree of certainty that she will stay 1 mile.  Second, she was tonked by Kiyoshi in the Albany at Royal Ascot (beaten 8 ½ lengths) and by Lucky Kristale in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.  However, those were her 2nd and 3rd starts as a 2 year old.  From there she won a Group 3 at Ascot and finished 2nd to Vorda in the aforementioned Cheveley.  Those last two runs represent a massive improvement.  At 33/1 I am prepared to chance my luck.

As if those two were not big enough outsiders, my third selections is Lady Lara @66/1.  Fourth in the Fred Darling (beaten just 2 lengths) on her return I just think this one will out run her price.  Kieron Fallon takes the ride and a huge step up is required, but she may just find it.  She stays a mile (3rd behind Ihtimal in a Group 2 at Doncaster) and I’ll be having a few quid each way.

Those are my three against the field and at those prices I just hope one of them makes the four.  Stakes have been kept small and can be considered “fun size”.  Once again, best of luck whoever you are backing.

Newmarket 2.05pm Van Percy 7/1 each-way

Salisbury 2.20pm Rockfella @12/1 each-way & Albert Bridge @4/1

Newmarket 2.40pm No Bet

Newmarket 3.10pm Ninjago @11/1 and Seeking Magic @12/1 (both each-way)

Newmarket 3.50pm Lady Lara @66/1, Princess Noor @33/1 & Joyeuse @20/1 (all each-way, 4 places)

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Classics Ahoy…

Nick Hardman returns with an in depth look at some great racing this Saturday from Newmarket, Goodwood and Thirsk including the 2000 Guineas, the first Classic of the new flat season:

The flat season is well and truly upon us now and this weekend sees the first of the Classics with the QIPCO 2000 and 1000 Guineas.  We also have decent cards from Goodwood and Thirsk on Saturday.  As usual I will be sharing my weekend thoughts and selections with you.  So, without further ado here is where my money is going this weekend.

First up on C4 is the Suffolk Stakes from Newmarket, a Class 2 handicap over 1m 1f.  There are quite a few in here that I have backed before to no avail, so Sod’s Law dictates one of them will win this time.  Using that holistic approach a couple who should go close are Roger Varian’s Farraaj @10/1 and Sir Michael Stoute’s Bold Sniper also @10/1.  Farraaj won the Winter Derby in 2013 but was a touch disappointing in the 2014 renewal finishing 5th.  Mind you that was a muddling race so I am prepared to forgive him that run.  His best form is over 10 furlongs and also on polytrack but he does have decent turf form over admittedly shorter trips (on good ground).  At the prices he rates a decent each way bet.  Bold Sniper is interesting in that 4 of his 6 races have been over 12 furlongs and he takes a drop in trip to 9 furlongs for this race.  Last year he ran 3rd in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot (when I backed him to win) and followed that up with a course win in a decent handicap 3 weeks later.  He went up 6lbs for that and could only finish 7th off that mark at Goodwood in August.  He races off the same mark here and I just think he is an interesting runner down in trip.  He also has the joint highest Racing Post Top Speed rating and Ryan Moore on board.  The trip is a concern, so I won’t be ploughing in, but I have had a speculative punt.

Next we have the Listed race for Fillies and Mares at Goodwood and at the prices I am prepared to take on the favourite Waila with Wall Of Sound @6/1 and Special Meaning @6/1.  Wall Of Sound has won 3 of her 7 starts and has only once finished outside the three (over in France on good to soft ground).  With all her form on good and good to firm ground I am hopeful of a decent.  Special Meaning has winning form on good to soft and good to firm so she will not be inconvenienced by any rain.  She has also won at the distance which is another positive.  If the short priced favourite fails to fire then I am hopeful one of my two selections can take advantage.

Back to Newmarket and The Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes (Group 3) over 5f is probably a race just to watch as you can make a case for at least 5 or 6 of these.  Last year’s winner Sole Power is the obvious starting point and he will be very popular.  So will grand old servant Kingsgate Native.  The 9 year old was as good as ever last year finishing second in this race before going on to land the Temple Stakes at Haydock.  Both are likely to be thereabouts.  Last year Moveista rose from handicapper to Group winner when landing the King George Stakes at Goodwood before finishing last in the Nunthorpe.  Pearl Secret finished 9th in the Nunthorpe and then went on to finish 3rd to Sole Power in the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot.  That form entitles him to go close.  Hot Streak could turn out to be top 3 year old sprinter this season and he is another who may prove popular with the punters.  I can’t call it with any real conviction.  It would be great to see Kingsgate Native win and if he puts his best foot forward he does have a squeak.  However, if he does win he will not be carrying my money.  Who do I think will win?  Sole Power and at 4/1 with Bet365 (1/4 odds, 3 places) he could well be a bet to nothing.

The second featured race from Goodwood is the Class 2 Handicap over 7 furlongs and I’m happy to back a couple who have decent course form.  Magic City @4/1 has two 7f wins on good ground and this might just be his trip, his ground and his course.  Not quite so spectacular is Jack’s Revenge @13/2 who was a decent 7th in the Lincoln on his return, beaten just 5 lengths in total.  He goes well here having finished 3rd, 2nd and 4th on his last 3 visits.

The Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes looks like a good opportunity for Trading Leather to add another Group race to his CV that includes last year’s Irish Derby.  Twelve furlongs is definitely his best trip and the ground will, if anything, be in his favour and the 11/8 is not a bad price (and it soon vanished!).  If he fails to deliver then Gospel Choir @6/1 could be the one to capitalise.  The Sir Michael Stoute trained 5 year old made a pleasing reappearance over an inadequate 9 furlongs and could be ready to make the step up to Pattern company.

Another horse I am backing runs in the 5f handicap at Goodwood at 3.30pm.  The horse is Ajjaadd who belied odds of 66/1 to finish second in last year’s Steward’s Cup at this very course.  That was off an official rating of 98 and he runs here off 95 following some below par efforts on the all-weather (which I am prepared to forgive).  He is also 8 from 15 when competing in Class 3 or lower and this is a Class 3 handicap so I expect a decent run.

The last race on C4 is the first Classic of the season, the 2000 Guineas.  The problem I have with races like this is that the runners are still fairly unexposed and to some degree, inexperienced.  Collateral form is thin on the ground and we have a fair few hype horses.  Potential superstars abound but we don’t really know at this time of the year what exactly they have beaten so far.  I imagine all eyes will be on Kingman and Australia, both of whom have been impressive from their few visits to the racecourse.  However, Australia could be the most over-hyped horse this season so far.  Having said that, he may well win at a canter and justify the hype.

While recent renewals of the race have been kind to favourite backers (Dawn Approach 11/8 last year; Camelot 15/8 in 2012 and Frankel 1/2 in 2011), there have been some upsets.  Most notable of these being Makfi @33/1 in 2010 and Cockney Rebel @25/1 in 2007.  Last year’s runner up Glory Awaits was sent off 150/1 and third placed Van Der Neer was 20/1.  Camelot beat French Fifteen and Hermival who went off at 12/1 and 16/1.  The year Frankel won, Dubawi Gold was second at 33/1 with Slim Shady fourth @200/1 and Happy Today sixth @100/1.  This is a race where horses can outrun their prices, so do not be afraid to have a speculative punt on a big priced outsider.

Whilst this is not a race I usually bet on, I can’t help being drawn to Outstrip @25/1 as a value each-way play and I have duly backed him at that price earlier in the week.  He has form at least on a par with several others much shorter in the betting and Charlie Appleby thinks he will out run his price.  He won his maiden at Newmarket, beating stable mate True Story.  From there he finished a ¼ length second to Toormoore who is now third favourite for the Guineas.  He went on to win the Group 2 Champagne Stakes before a disappointing 3rd of 6 in the Dewhurst.

He put that run behind him when he went off to the USA and duly won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile turf over 1 mile on fast ground.  That is not bad form.  He is equal 4th on official ratings and does have something to find with those at the head of the market.  I just like the fact he has won over 1 mile (1 of only 5 runners in the race to have done so) and the quicker the ground the better for him.  I think 25/1 is a great price as I believe he will run a good race and there will be much worse 25/1 shots this weekend.  Of the others, do not be surprised if Night Of Thunder (50/1 with BetBright as I type this), Charm Spirit (33/1) and Ertijaal (40/1) all out run their massive odds.

On a side note I read an interesting article this week on the influence of American pedigree on recent 2000 Guineas winners and it puts Outstrip and Ertijaal right in the mix.

Of those at the head of the market I think the one who is value is War Command @9/1.  He is the apparent Ballydoyle second string here behind Australia but the difference between the two, in my humble opinion, is that War Command has done it on the racecourse whereas much of the talk about Australia relates to his work at home.  War Command won the Coventry and the Dewhurst last year – two of the most prestigious races for 2 year olds.  Ryan Moore is an eye catching booking too.  I have taken the 9/1 win only with William Hill (money back for second place) and together with Outstrip these are my two selections for the opening Classic of the season.  My only concern is how much they water the ground between now and race day.  In my opinion they should not water it at all and if the ground is riding fast then so be it.  It would certainly suit Outstrip and War Command is bred to appreciate firm ground.

I have already written on this blog that the Doncaster Spring Mile and Lincoln form has been boosted in no uncertain terms and we have a couple from those races contesting the Thirsk Hunt Cup.  One I have backed without hesitation is Off Art @5/1 who finished 5th in the Lincoln.  His trainer has said he will come on for the run and that’s good enough for me.  The other one is Farlow who won us some place money in the Spring Mile.  He came out of that race and won at today’s course just 2 weeks later.  However that victory was by a short head so I’m not sure if the handicapper has his measure now and I’m prepared to swerve him in favour of Ingleby Angel @9/1.  David O’Meara’s horse was highly progressive last year, racking up a sequence of three wins in the process.  Ryan Moore was booked for his reappearance 5th at Haydock and I am hoping he will come on for that run.

So that is where my money is going this weekend.  Some of you may agree, most may disagree so please feel free to leave a comment or two and let us know who you fancy this weekend.  Once again, best of luck whoever you are backing.

Newmarket 2.05pm Faraajj @10/1 & Bold Sniper @10/1

Goodwood 2.20pm Wall Of Sound @6/1 & Special Meaning @6/1

Newmarket 2.40pm Sole Power @4/1 each-way (Bet365 pay ¼ odds, 3 places)

Goodwood 2.55pm Magic City @4/1 & Jack’s Revenge @13/2

Newmarket 3.10pm Trading Leather @11/8 Gospel Choir @6/1

Goodwood 3.30pm Ajjaadd @11/1

Newmarket 3.50pm Outstrip @25/1 each-way & War Command @9/1

Thirsk 4.15pm Off Art @5/1 & Ingleby Angel @9/1

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The Gambler’s Fallacy

I’m super chuffed that  I posted the early season trainer angles on Monday!

I couldn’t have chosen a better day to point out the merits of the ‘Spring Training Masters‘ as their performance since has shown:

Roger Charlton: From 2 runners –  a winner at 20/1 and a 3rd at 15/2

Ralph Beckett: No runners as yet.

Alan King:  1 runner –  3rd at 16/1

I love it when a plan comes together!

On to today:

The Gamblers Fallacy

coin-toss-199x300Here’s a scenario:

You’ve just watched me flip a coin 10 times. On every one of those 10 flips, the coin has come up heads. I know it seems unlikely but it can and does happen (If you were to toss a coin 1000 times you would have a 62% chance of at some point hitting a run of 10 consecutive heads)

After determining that the coin is a genuine, non -trick coin, (it is),  I’ve now got a question for you:

When I toss the coin for an 11th time, which is more likely to come up? Heads or Tail?

Well, the correct answer is neither is more likely.

Each coin toss is an independent event, entirely uninfluenced by the result of those that preceded it and those that come after. Neither heads nor tails is more likely – they both have a 50% probability regardless of what has gone before.

If you answered that either heads or tails was more likely, then you are falling prey to The Gamblers Fallacy- and it could well be costing you money.

The Gambler’s Fallacy is defined as:

‘the mistaken belief that if something happens more frequently than normal during some period, then it will happen less frequently in the future; likewise, if something happens less frequently than normal during some period, then it will happen more frequently in the future (presumably as a means of balancing nature). In situations where what is being observed is truly random this belief, though appealing to the human mind, is false. This fallacy can arise in many practical situations although it is most strongly associated with gambling where such mistakes are common among players.’

The most common problem that arises when you fall into this way of thinking is chasing losses and increasing stakes because you’re “due a winner”.

It’s so  easily done – I know, I’ve been there!

When you’ve had a series of losers (and they are always unlucky losers!) you start to think, the next one must come in, I’m due a winner after all this bad luck, the law of averages says this has to turn around shortly blah blah blah.

You need to avoid this kind of thinking at all costs!

Always keep in mind that your selections don’t know that you have been losing more often than you would expect from your long term strike rate.

Don’t fall victim to the Gamblers Fallacy – it’s been the ruin of many, many brave punters!


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Spring Training Masters…

It’s been a long, wet winter of jumping wonders but finally the weather is starting to turn a bit warmer and the flat season has finally arrived. Before we know it we’ll be amongst the classics so we need to start looking for the early season low hanging fruit – in the form of trainers who excel in these first couple of months of the flat season. I’ve picked out three that really caught my eye when I was trawling through some early season stats over the weekend.

Roger Charlton

Roger Charlton Roger always puts me in mind of a kindly old school master and seems a very pleasant character in interviews. He might be an ogre for all I know but I like him and I certainly like his training performances in April and May each season.

Below you can see the performance figures for all his runners in April and May since 2010.


Bets: 183

Wins:  36

Strike Rate: 19.87%

P/L at Industry SP:  +64.73 points

Places: 71

Win/Place Strike Rate: 38.80%

Pretty impressive numbers and I certainly wouldn’t have any hesitation in following his runners blindly for the next month even though they showed a small loss (-5.79 points) last season. He’s back with a bang already this April with 1 run, 1 winner and 5 points profit.

For a slightly more cautious approach, his runners can be backed very profitably each way and you’ll get paid on nearly 40% of your bets that way. In addition pay particular attention to his runners at Newmarket and Newbury where he has an excellent record of profitability (+51 points across the two tracks)

Ralph Beckett

Ralph beckett

Ralph – pronounced Rafe like the actor Fiennes -has been around for a while now despite still resembling a fresh faced boy.

He won his first classic last year when Talent landed the Oaks and I’m hoping he will have a few more wins over the next 7 weeks!

Performance figures in April and May since 2010 are below:

Bets: 243

Wins: 40

Strike Rate: 16.46%

P/L at Industry  SP: 74.97

Places: 92

Win and Place Strike Rate: 37.86%

Again, very impressive numbers but we do need to be slightly careful here. Those overall figures are hiding a savage loss of 37 points in 2011. It does however appear that was just an unpleasant blip in an otherwise tranquil sea of profitability.

For a slightly more selective ( and more profitable!) strategy, we should exclude his runners at Haydock, Salisbury and Sandown where he’s had just 1 winner in 37 runners. Excluding those tracks increases overall profits to +108.72 points.

Ralph has also got off to a flying start this April with 1 winner from 2 runners and a profit of +13 points.

Alan  King

Alan King


This is a bit of an unusual one as we don’t normally associate Alan King with flat racing but, there is no doubt, that early in the flat season his runners perform creditably and, more importantly, profitably for their backers!

Performance figures for all his runners on the flat in April and May Since 2010 is below:


Bets: 47

Wins: 9

Strike Rate: 19.15%

P/L at Industry  SP: +31.50 points

Places: 18

Win and Place Strike Rate: 38.30%


Now, clearly, Mr King doesn’t have a lot of runners on the flat during the period, but it does appear those that do are primed and ready to win. Particular attention should be paid to any runners he has at Salisbury where he’s 2 winners from 3 runners at big prices.

That’s all from me today. I hope you find the angles I’ve identified helpful and profitable. Don’t forget to leave a comment and share what trainers you’ll be watching carefully over the early weeks of the flat season.

Be lucky






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Ayr and Newbury Thoughts

Fresh from a triumphant Aintree Festival, Nick Hardman is back with a comprehensive look at Saturday’s big cards at Ayr (including the Scottish National) and Newbury on the flat. Take it away, Nick:

First up a big thank you to all who commented on the Aintree blog and it was truly fantastic to know a few of you cashed in, especially on the Saturday.  Back to reality and last weekend may well turn out to be an impossible act to follow!  As I have said all along I do not see myself as a tipster, but I love writing about all things racing and I am happy to continue to share with you my selections and fancies for the big races and festivals.  This Saturday sees the Scottish Grand National, the Scottish Champion Hurdle and also a cracking flat meeting at Newbury.  I am not one for getting heavily involved at the beginning of the flat season so I apologise now for a cautious approach to the Newbury meeting.  As you know though, I will more than make up for that with multiple selections in the Scottish Grand National!  Plenty to get stuck into so here goes….

Channel 4’s coverage kicks off with the Group 3 John Porter Stakes at 1.50pm run over 1m 4f.  Noble Mission ran third in this last year and has every chance again, whilst Mutashaded looks a Group horse in waiting.  However, he is coming back from an injury which is enough to put me off.  Khione is interesting and is another whose season was cut short last year.  He goes well fresh though and 8/1 is a good price.  The one I have backed to small stakes is Sir Michael Stoute’s Astonishing @9/2, receiving a handy 3lb sex allowance.  Cases can be made for most of these but I do like the look of Stoute’s filly and 9/2 is a decent price.

Over to Ayr and the next race is the Novice Chase over 2 ½ miles.  This looks like a match between Valdez and Eduard and given the form of Alan King’s runners I am happy to back Valdez @11/10.  The form of his 5th in the Arkle Chase is much the best on offer.  I’ve backed him with William Hill for the second place insurance.  I can’t see him outside the first two, unless of course he falls or unseats (you heard it here first if he does!).

The fillies take centre stage next in the Group 3 Fred Darling at 2.20pmo back at Newbury.  Experience usually counts in these races with form at Listed or Group level.  Eight of the last ten winners had an adjusted RPR of at least 114.  Using that angle leaves two here, and not surprisingly they top the betting.  At the prices I have backed Joyeuse @6/1 and Al Thakira @7/2 win only.  I have kept stakes quite conservative as dangers abound, with Coral Mist and J Wonder to name but two.  The latter could be the each-way bet of the race @12/1 with Bet365 paying ¼ odds, 3 places.

The Scottish Champion Hurdle should go the way of My Tent Or Yours and I have taken 5/4 with William Hill knowing I get a refund if he finishes second.  I don’t have a strong opinion on an each-way alternative as I think My Tent Or Yours only has to reproduce his current form to take this, despite giving lumps of weight all round.  If he fails to do so then Cockney Sparrow or Court Minstrel could be the ones to capitalize.  The former gets a 17lb pull at the weights for a 3 length beating at Newcastle in the Fighting Fifth back in December, but ran below expectations in the Mare’s Hurdle at Cheltenham when fifth.  The latter did us all a favour winning at Aintree last week at a fantastic 16/1.  He shoulders a 5lb penalty for that win but he did win the Scottish Champion Hurdle last year off a rating of 141.  He’s rated 152 here but gets 14lb from My Tent Or Yours.  As long as he avoids the “bounce” factor he should go well again.  However, it will be a win only bet for me on My Tent Or Yours @5/4.

The Greenham Stakes is definitely a race to watch with a host of horses high in the pecking order for this year’s Classics with Kingman, Berkshire, Astaire and Night Of Thunder the main contenders.  I really do not know who will win this race and the prices of the main protagonists means it’s one for me to sit out (we will have a bet at Thirsk instead, so keep reading!).  I will not be betting but at the prices I would say Astaire and Berkshire offer a touch of value.  However, Astaire has only raced at 6f and Berkshire may turn out to be better over further and that’s enough to make me give this one the serve.

In the Listed Handicap Chase over 2 miles at Ayr, I have to stick with Alan King and Manyriverstocross @3/1.  He was back on track last time out and his defeat of Claret Cloak in his first run this season is decent form, with that opponent running 3rd in the Grand Annual (should have won) and 3rd at Aintree last week.  I think he needs a bit of improvement to take this but that is a distinct possibility and he should go close.

The Spring Cup looks typically competitive, but I love these big field handicaps so let’s see if we can crack this one.  This race sees a lot of horses that ran in the Lincoln or the Spring Mile at Doncaster.  Four year olds have won 7 of the last 10.  From that age group I am going to give another chance to One Word More who I backed for the Lincoln only to see him fail to enter the stalls (well at least I got my money back) and I’ve taken the 16/1 each-way (5 places).  Another 4 year old I’ve backed is Brownsea Brink @10/1 each-way (5 places) for the formidable Hannon/ Moore combination.  He ran a cracker on debut this season and the form was franked when winner Purcell went in again.  Charles Camoin could be a dark horse @22/1.  He goes well fresh, winning first time out in 2012 and 2013.  The last time he ran at a mile was in 2011 when he split Tullius (now rated 109 and runner up in this year’s Lincoln) and Levitate (now rated 106 and winner of the Lincoln in 2013).  It may just be that those two have gone on and improved way beyond Charles Camoin, but out of curiosity I have taken the 22/1 each-way 5 places to very small stakes (enough to have a beer and a Chinese if he rips up the formbook and wins).

And so to the main event, the Scottish Grand National.  It has an extremely lop-sided look to it with most of the horses racing from out of the handicap thanks to the inclusion of Tidal Bay who has to lug top weight of 11st 12lb.  This grand servant would be a hugely popular winner but at 14/1 he’s not for me, especially as only 1 of the last 9 winners has carried more than 11st to victory.  In fact 7 of the last 9 winners carried no more than 10st 4lbs.  One I backed earlier in the week is Mister Marker @40/1 each-way (5 places).  He was third in this last year and the further the better for him.  I am hoping he will plod into some place money.  I doubt he is good enough to win but the marathon trip suits and with a clean round of jumping he can make the frame.  Lucinda Russell has a strong hand with Green Flag the current race favourite.  He ran fourth in the Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham festival behind Holywell and Ma Filleule who both franked the form in no uncertain terms at Aintree last week.  Lie Forrit is another of her runners but he is much better over hurdles and it would be some feat to take this on his return to the bigger obstacles.  Her final runner is Nuts N Bolts who won over 3m 5f on his seasonal debut but has done little since in a light campaign.  However he has track figures of 1311P.  That one blip was when pulled up in this race last year when 10/1 co-favourite.  It’s risky but I have had a little each-way @33/1 (5 places).  Jonjo O’Neill runs Merry King who has every chance on previous form but was totally lack lustre in the Haydock Grand National trial when last seen.  Alpha Victor ran a cracker in the Midlands National but that looked a hard race and this may come too quickly.  Roberto Goldback is an interesting runner for Nicky Henderson.  He ran a good race to finish 3rd in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham and fell at the last in the 2013 Grand National when well beaten.  I am surprised though to see that Barry Geraghty chooses Hadrian’s Approach.  If his stamina holds out he could run well and @20/1 I’ve been tempted in for a nibble.  Those three each-way plays look like giving us a run for our money but in terms of a genuine outright winner we probably need to look closer to the head of the betting.  Trustan Times could be thrown in on his hurdling form but he has raced just once over the larger obstacles in the last 2 years.  That alone is enough to put me off.  Sam Winner is improving and clearly wants longer but the extra mile is a big step into the unknown.  The same can be said for Green Flag but I prefer this one of the two and without much difference in the prices I think the 10/1 is a decent bet on the favourite.  That Cheltenham Handicap Chase in which he was a staying-on fourth could be one of the hottest end of season races.  With the form franked as mentioned earlier, I make Green Flag my final fancy in this year’s Scottish National.

Over at Thirsk at 4.00pm I have had a small bet on Breton Rock who is 4 from 6 when racing over 6 or 7 furlongs.  He should go close and may well be one to follow this year.


Newbury 1.50pm Astonishing @9/2

Ayr 2.05pm Valdez @11/10 (William Hill)

Newbury 2.20pm Al Thakira @7/2 and Joyeuse @6/1

Ayr 2.40pm My Tent Or Yours @5/4 (William Hill)

Newbury 2.55pm No Bet

Ayr 3.15pm Manyriverstocross @3/1 (William Hill)

Newbury 3.30pm Brownsea Brink @10/1, One Word More @16/1 & Charles Camoin @22/1 (all each-way, 5 places)

Ayr 3.50pm Green Flag @10/1 & Nuts N Bolts @33/1, Roberto Goldback @20/1 and Mister Marker @40/1 (each-way, 5 places)

Thirsk 4.00pm Breton Rock @4/1

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Converting Odds into Probabilities… and Vice Versa

Maths test

If you can’t convert odds into the probabilities they imply, you are going to struggle in the long term to make money from your betting. How can you assess value if you don’t first know the probabilities the betting market is indicating?

It’s not a difficult thing to do and with a little practice you will be able to do it automatically every time you look at a betting market.

First we’ll look at conversion of fractional odds to probabilities as those are still the predominant type used in the UK.


Converting Fractional Odds

Fractional odds simply reflect  the return you will get if your selection wins – bet £20 on a 4/1 shot and you’ll get £80 – 4 x £20 – back (plus your original stake of £20). However, they also reflect the bookmaker’s assessment of the chances of that selection winning . In addition, there’s an adjustment in there to cover the bookmaker’s profit margin (the overround) but for the purposes of this exercise we’ll ignore that.

So what percentage chance does the bookmaker think a selection has if he is offering 4/1?  Here’s the calculation:

Divide the number on the right of the fraction by the total of both numbers in the fraction:

1 divided by (4+1) = 0.20

Then multiply that by 100 to give a percentage probability:

0.20 x 100 = 20%

So a 4/1 chance has an implied 20% chance of winning! Simples


Converting Decimal Odds

Again, like fractional, decimal odds are a reflection of the return you will receive if you win, including your stake. So if you have £20 on a winner with decimal odds of 7.0, you will receive £20 x 7 for a return, including stake, of £140 (£120 profit). To convert those odds into a probability, here’s the calculation:

Divide 1 by the decimal odds then multiply by 100 to give a percentage

1 divided by 7 = 0.143

0.143 x 100 = 14.3%

So a selection priced at 7.0 in decimal format has an implied 14.3% chance of winning!


These are very simple calculations and with experience you will be able to look at a betting market and instantly calculate the implied winning chance of all the runners based on the odds on offer.

Vice Versa

If you have reached the point where you are compiling your own tissue prices as part of a value finding exercise (and that should be your aim!), you will need to be able to convert percentage probabilities back to odds format for the purpose of comparison.


Converting Probabilities to Fractional Odds


Based on your own assessment methods, you have determined that a horse has a 10% chance of winning a race. To convert that into fractional odds format the calculation is

(100 divided by percentage probability) -1

(100/10) -1

10-1 = 9

So a selection with a 10% chance of winning should be priced at 9/1


Converting Probabilities to Decimal Odds


In this example you’ve found a horse that you think has a 60% chance of winning it’s race. To calculate it’s odds in a decimal format:

Divide 100 by the percentage probability

100/60 = 1.66

So a 60% chance is expressed as 1.66 in decimal odds format.

So there you have it. However, an even easier way to do it is to memorise the major odds and their respective implied probabilities using the table I have put together below!

Odds Conversion


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Aintree Reflections

Nick Hardman looks back on what was a momentous festival – culminating in some of the best tipping I have ever seen!:


Well folks that’s almost it for the jumps season with only the Punchestown Festival to come and the final meeting at Sandown to look forward to.  After that the flat season takes over and personally I only really look forward to Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood.  In my opinion the “Classics” come far too soon in the season and I can never get that excited about them.  Anyway, back to Aintree and the Grand National festival which was a brilliant 3 days.  It was good to see the horses that ran well at Cheltenham upholding their form and, in some cases, improving on it.  Here’s a quick recap on how my Day 3 selections fared…..

Oscar Hoof was a faller and Kayf Moss was out of his depth in the opening Novice Hurdle won by Lac Fontana.  I was kicking myself a bit as I had Lac Fontana top of my shortlist until I got a bit carried away by the Henderson/ Geraghty treble on Friday.  But that’s the way it goes.  If anything, the one part of my betting that still needs to be worked on is my conviction to go with my gut instinct and not to over analyse.  Any feelings of self-annoyance were quickly dispelled when Balder Success won the Novice Chase with a fine round of jumping to land my fifth winner of the meeting.  To be honest that was more than I could have hoped for and it settled the nerves nicely ahead of the rest of the day.

Whisper was another Cheltenham winner who improved for the step up to 3 miles and won the Stayer’s Hurdle from my fancy At Fishers Cross who jumped really poorly all the way round.  I just hope that the back problem he had earlier in the season has not returned, but he was awkward at all his fences.  Beaten only a length I am sure he would have won with a fluent round of jumping but take nothing away from the winner who followed up his Coral Cup success here.

When you write for a blog and volunteer your selections to a wider audience the one think you hope for is not to make a fool of yourself.  I was more than happy with 2 winners on Day 1 and 2 winners on Day 2.  When Balder Success trotted up I was satisfied that I had achieved my objective of not embarrassing myself in front of the readers of MakeYourBettingPay.  What happened next was something else.

Duke Of Lucca had not won for 2 years and he is quirky, but he stays and stays forever.  I was hopeful of a good run and I will ashamedly admit to yelling “Get In!!!” when he held on from Vino Griego to win the Listed Handicap Chase by a head.  A 16/1 winner and next up was the big one.  Big Shu went early, soon to be followed by Mountainous and Teaforthree.  That left Pineau De Re, Hawkes Point and Chance Du Roy as my only chances.  To make matters worse, Mrs H had picked Mister Moonshine who led with three to jump.  The rest, as they say, is history as Pineau De Re stayed on gamely to land the most famous race in the world @25/1.  Chance Du Roy finished where all good “each-way, 5 places” horses finish – in sixth.  Hawkes Point was last of those to complete.  It was a tremendous race and it was nice to have the winner amongst the half dozen picks I backed.

As if that was not enough, Court Minstrel landed the subsequent Handicap Hurdle at a cracking 16/1.  I will admit that Court Minstrel was just a token selection and says more about my pin-sticking ability than my ability to decipher a 22 runner handicap for amateurs and conditionals.  Four winners from six races on the final day was beyond anything I could have dreamt.  I must stress I have never backed winners @16/1, 25/1 and 16/1 in consecutive races.  In fact I have never had three winners at those prices in a single day, perhaps not even in a single week.  A truly memorable day and one I will not forget in a hurry.  I am a strong believer in karma though and that probably means I will go the whole flat season without a winner!

As always, I hope you have enjoyed following my Aintree blog and do feel free to leave a comment or two.  I hope you had a good one.

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Aintree – Day 3

Day 2 got off to a flying start with Josses Hill justifying favouritism with a solid performance in the opener and I was more than happy with the 2/1 I took yesterday afternoon as he was sent off at 6/4.  It was 2 from 2 on Day 2 after Hollywell put in a brilliant round of jumping and galloped the legs of his rivals to win @7/2.  Module was a late withdrawal in the Melling Chase and Wishfull Thinking ran a stinker.  Boston Bob won a thrilling finish, produced very late by Paul Townend in what could well turn out to be ride of the week.

The Topham Chase was won impressively by Ma Filleule, further dispelling the myth that horses that run well at Cheltenham do not follow up at Aintree.  Tatenen ran another huge race in 4th @25/1 and fair play if you backed him given his Aintree record.  Big Fella Thanks was tapped for toe about three out and faded into midfield, ahead of my other fancy Rebel Rebellion who never featured.  Seeyouatmidnight was beaten out of sight by Nicky Henderson’s Beat That in the Novice Hurdle that followed and it was looking like the two early winners would be the sole return on Day 2.  Indeed it was as Attaglance and Like Minded finished out of the places in the final race.

And so to the third and final day of the meeting and we kick off with another Novice Hurdle at 1.30pm over 2 ½ miles.  Sea Lord is an obvious starting point with form figures 1111112, but he has a 139 day absence to overcome and has done all his winning around the 2 mile mark and I’ll take him on.  Of those that have proven form over 2 ½ miles, Kayf Moss is interesting for his latest win in a Grade 2 and if he still has improvement in him then he should go close.  Lac Fontana and Volnay De Thaix represent two powerful yards and both could improve for the step up in trip.  Lac Fontana won the County Hurdle while Volnay De Thaix’s sole defeat was at the hands of Irving.  Oscar Hoof is interesting for Nicky Henderson on only his 4th start over hurdles and Geraghty takes the ride after his treble on Day 2.  Given the form of the stable this week and the jockey arrangements I have backed Oscar Hoof @6/1 and Kayf Moss @14/1.

Seven go to post in the Maghull Novice Chase.  Again a case can be made for all seven runners so I am going to play on the cautious side.  Hinterland was thought good enough to run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase but unseated his rider that day, whilst Ted Veale (fell) and Trifolium (3rd) contested the Arkle.  Balder Success @7/2 is the one I have backed as his prominent racing style and decent speed seems ideal for this race and fits the profile of previous winners.  It’s only a tentative selection in an ultra-competitive race where all seven runners hold solid chances.

With World Hurdle winner More Of That absent from the Stayer’s Hurdle this looks like a good opportunity for At Fishers Cross or Zarkander to finally break their duck this season.  I do not rate the chances of the others that highly except for Coral Cup winner Whisper, but it’s a guess as to whether he gets the extra 3 furlongs.  I have backed At Fishers Cross @7/4 to uphold the form and beat Zarkander again.

Next up is the 18 runner Listed Handicap Chase at 3.25pm and again I will be pretty cautious.  This is hardly a race to boost the coffers prior to the “Big One” at 4.15pm but it does look like a cracking each-way race.  With all firms paying 4 places I have had a few quid on a slightly risky proposition.  Johns Spirit ran a cracker at Cheltenham but the handicapper may have his measure and he might need to come down a few pounds before winning again.  He looks sure to run his race though.  Unioniste is another sure to go well and he lugs top weight of 11st 12lbs.  He might well defy that but I will give him a miss.  The one I have backed requires a bit of a leap of faith.  Duke Of Lucca @16/1 is really well handicapped off 134 when you consider he was winning races off 10lbs higher 18 months ago and his 4th in the Cheltenham Cross Country race this year was not a bad effort.  I’m hoping for place money rather than anything else as I will be surprised if he wins.

On to the Grand National itself and this is truly one of the highlights of the sporting year, irrespective of whether you are a racing fan or not.  I could spend the next 20 minutes going through the pluses and minuses of each and every runner, together with the trends and profiles of previous winners, but instead I will cut to the chase and go straight into my (many) selections for the main event.  I have opted to place all my bets with Bet365 using their amazing offer of giving you half your stake back for every each-way bet you place.  From the top of the market I have backed Teaforthree @8/1.  Hardly original but he is primed to run a big race and even if he gives way on the run in like last year, with a clean round of jumping he should be in the first 5 home.  At bigger prices I have backed Pineau De Re @20/1 and Chance Du Roy @33/1.  Both have a nice weight of 10st 6lb and a great chance of finishing the race, which in itself is no mean feat.  Hawkes Point must put a disappointing run in the Haydock trial behind him.  If fit and well and back to his best then the 40/1 looks great value.  Big Shu @25/1 is interesting as he stays all day and may plod into the place money.  Finally I have backed another dour stayer and sound jumper in Mountainous @40/1 although his chances would be even better were it to rain buckets overnight.  Those are my six (!) and hopefully the winner is lurking in there somewhere!

The Handicap Hurdle for amateurs and conditionals is the next race and only one favourite has won in the seven runnings to date.  With a field of 22 set to go to post this looks like another each-way race.  Having backed half the field in the Grand National I have just backed one here and that is top weight Court Minstrel @16/1  .He has some decent form in the book and has a had a 3 month break since finishing 4th to The New One in the Stan James Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.  The final race is a bumper and I never really bet in these races so, having backed six in the Grand National it makes sense to sit this one out.

Aintree Day 3 selections:

1.30pm Oscar Hoof @6/1 and Kayf Moss @14/1

2.05pm Balder Success @7/2

2.50pm At Fishers Cross @7/4

3.25pm Duke Of Lucca @16/1 (each-way, 4 places)

4.15pm Teaforthree @8/1, Pineau De Re @20/1, Big Shu @25/1, Chance Du Roy @33/1, Hawkes Point @40/1 and Mountainous @40/1 (all each-way, 5 places)

5.10pm Court Minstrel 16/1 (each-way, 4 places)

5.45pm No Bet

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Aintree – Day 2

Day 1 got off to a spectacular start with Guitar Pete being delivered from nowhere to first by Paul Carberry in a sensational ride.  My picks Activial and Hawk High finished down the field.  Clarcam was given an honourable mention in this column and ran a blinder to finish second.  With hindsight he was probably the each-way bet of the race.  In the Betfred Bowl, First Lieutenant had every chance heading to the last flight but was beaten by better horses on the day, so no complaints from me and hats off to Paul Nicholls and the connections of Silviniaco Conti.

The Aintree Hurdle was a no-bet race but what a race it was!  The prices said this would be a procession and it certainly looked that way as The New One cruised into the lead on the bridle.  Rock On Ruby and Diakali had other ideas and it turned into a three-way head bobber at the finish with The New One just prevailing.  For the record, Irish Saint did not outrun his price.  Warne provided me with a first winner of the festival @9/2 in the Foxhunters.  Sam Whaley-Cohen and his mount were pestered constantly by loose horses all the way round and on more than one occasion I thought it would cost them the race.  Sam did a great steering job to be fair and it was nice to be off the mark.  Island Life finished 12th at 100/1, but at least he made it over the line.

Claret Cloak ran a good race in third in the Red Rum Handicap Chase, whilst Oiseau De Nuit finished a never nearer 6th and I think I’ve backed the old boy for the last time.  Uxizandre did exactly what I hoped he would do and held on well from the front to land the spoils.  Sometimes taking an early price is a good thing and the 5/1 on Thursday night was a cracking price as he was sent off 11/4.  Two winners on the board on Day 1 are more than I could have hoped for and things were rounded off nicely with Jetson yet again performing admirably in a big field handicap to grab some place money.  Day 2 looks nigh on impossible so I’m glad we are off to a decent start.  Here goes anyway………..

On to Day 2 and we kick off with Novice Hurdle at 2.00pm, a race won last year by My Tent Or Yours.  Those horses that placed in the Supreme Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham have a good record in this and that leads us straight to Josses Hill and Sgt Reckless who ran 2nd and 4th respectively in that race.  With Henderson winning 3 of the last 4 renewals I am more than happy to back Josses Hill @2/1 with William Hill’s money back second place concession.  The interesting runner is Baltimore Rock who won the Imperial Cup at Sandown, beating a useful one in Gassin Golf.  He races here off 6lb higher and could make the step up into Graded races with ease.  There again he might not and I will stick with Josses Hill as my only bet in the race.

The Novice Chase at 2.30pm has a small, but fascinating, field of six going to post.  All six ran at Cheltenham.  O’Faolains Boy won the RSA Chase, the same race in which Many Clouds was brought down by Don Cossack (and you may remember I had backed both of those!) with Just A Par back in 7th.  Wonderful Charm ran 5th in the JLT at the festival and Hollywell won the 3m 1f Handicap Chase on the opening day.  All of that makes this race difficult to assess.  Only 2lbs separate Hollywell, O’Faolains Boy and Wonderful Charm in the official ratings which further adds spice to proceedings.  At a bigger price, Many Clouds only has 2 ½ lengths to make up on O’Faolains Boy on their Ascot running.  However, gut feeling is that O’Faolains Boy has improved considerably.  One interesting statistic is that 20 of the last 23 winners had already won at the 3 mile trip or higher.  That leaves three in Hollywell, O’Faolains Boy and Just A Par.  I think this is more of a race to watch than get heavily involved in and Holywell @10/3 is a tentative selection.

Next we have the Grade 1 Melling Chase.  This has been a punters race for sure in the last few years with the first or second favourite winning 14 of the last 19 renewals.  I thought Module ran a good race in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham and that race has been a good pointer in the past.  I’ve taken the 9/2.  Wishfull Thinking has Aintree form figures of 0F1226 and also ran well in the Champion Chase and he should be there or thereabouts.  Module @9/2 and Wishfull Thinking @7/1 are my 2 against the field.

Thirty go to post for the Topham Chase.  In a race like this it is probably more about getting a run for my money than genuine expectations of finding the winner.  One who fits the bill on that score is Big Fella Thanks @20/1 (PaddyPower, 5 places) who has completed the course in 5 of 6 attempts over these fences.  Another who should run well at a price is Rebel Rebellion @20/1 (BetVictor, 5 places), winner of the Grand Sefton Chase in December.  He has run 2 solid races since that win and I’m hopeful of a big run.  Tatenen ran a cracker at the festival but has a poor completion rate around Aintree whilst Champion Court, You Must Know Me and Your Busy could all go well at a big price (all three around 25/1 to 20/1).

Eighteen line-up for The Sefton Novices Hurdle and things do not get any easier from a betting perspective.  It’s a 3 miler (won last year by At Fishers Cross) so I’m looking for a proven stayer here rather than an improver who may or may not stay.  That may be foolish but I will find out at around 4.25pm on Friday.  Seeyouatmidnight is a worthy favourite, has the best form on offer and stays well.  What’s not to like?  9/2 is a short price but it’s one I’ve taken as it is my only bet of the race.  Honourable mentions go to Walk On Al @33/1 who could run well at a huge price if the headgear sparks the necessary required improvement and Tagrita @12/1 could also be involved, receiving a 7lb mare’s allowance.  I have thought about backing them both but I will just stick with Seeyouatmidnight @9/2.

Just to make things even harder, the next race is the 22 runner Alder Hey Charity Handicap Hurdle run over 2 ½ miles.  Attaglance must have a good chance despite top weight.  He won the Martin Pipe in 2012 as well as taking this race in that same year.  Campaigned over the larger obstacles since then he was very unlucky not to have won at the Cheltenham festival this year.  I think he’s a cracking each-way bet.  At a bigger price, Like Minded could go well if he bounces back from his last poor effort.  I am always prepared to forgive a horse one bad run and this horse ran third in the Lanzaraote, beating Spirit Of Shankly who was a heavily backed into near favouritism for the 3 mile handicap hurdle that brought proceedings to close on Day 1 of this meeting.  Attaglance @12/1 and Like Minded @25/1 are my selections.

To finish we have the 20 runner Mares Only NH Flat race.  If ever there was a no-bet race it is this one.  I really would be wasting my time and yours trying to get to the bottom of this race and I would much rather skip this and have an extra bet on the Grand National.

Aintree Day 2 selections:

2.00pm Josses Hill @2/1

2.30pm Hollywell @10/3

3.05pm Module @9/2 and Wishfull Thinking @7/1

3.40pm Big Fella Thanks @20/1 & Rebel Rebellion @20/1 (both each-way, 5 places)

4.15pm Seeyouatmidnight @9/2

4.50pm Attaglance @12/1 and Like Minded @25/1 (both each-way, 5 places)

5.25pm No Bet

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