2018 Aintree Grand National preview

The 2018 Grand National is nearly upon us. It’s one of racing’s highlights every year, and is often the race that brings new fans to our great sport. I know that was certainly the case with me, when Papillon won way back in 2000. That day started my gambling vice (jokes) and I now work in the horse racing industry. It’s all a bit mad!

It’s a big day, with the world watching Liverpool. I just hope all jockeys and horses come back safe and enjoy the experience. Below is my runner-by-runner guide – it’s a race where I’m very keen to take on the race favourites. May the best horse win. Good luck!

  1. Thunder And Roses

Former Irish National winner, but comes into this race in poor order and is best watched.

  1. Blaklion

Was sensational in this race last year when his jockey kicked too soon and he didn’t get home as well as it once looked. Now a year older and stronger, but also 9lb higher in the weights. Will encounter much softer ground on the back off a tough prep, and you just feel there are a handful better handicapped horses and many more better value.

  1. Anibale Fly

On paper, he has an outstanding chance on the back of an excellent Gold Cup third. He’s got a pretty hit and miss profile however, and on the back off a tough race at Cheltenham just four weeks back, I’m quite keen to take him on, despite being one of the race favourites.

  1. The Last Samuri

A horse with a fine record over these fences and in this race, but is now 10lb higher in the handicap when runner-up two years ago. He’ll also have to carry a stone more physical weight than that year, and despite being in good order on unsuitably soft ground this season, is hard to see winning.

  1. Valseur Lido

Former high-class staying chaser and Gold Cup contender before suffering an injury setback. Hasn’t looked nearly as good since his return and others hold stronger chances.

  1. Total Recall

He’s another with a great chance on paper, and has been a revelation since joining the Willie Mullins team, winning two major handicap chases. While the case, he can be quite keen and his jumping has never convinced me. The famous Aintree atmosphere could see him running even keener, and he surely can’t win if that transpires.

  1. Alpha Des Obeaux

High-class hurdler and chaser who probably hasn’t fulfilled the hopes his trainer once had for him, physical issues curbing his career. Has been nursed back from bleeding issues this season however, and won the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase. Jumps well in the main, has a touch of class and despite having small stamina worries on the ground, could give Rachael Blackmore a great spin.

  1. Perfect Candidate

Looks badly handicapped, and while he’s one you could see staying the trip, I couldn’t possibly back him. He’s most certainly not a perfect candidate.

  1. Shantou Flyer

Pretty likeable horse who has been in good order this season. Will have no issues jumping wise or on the ground, but I have stamina worries for him. Could shape well for a long way, but not a betting proposition.

  1. Tenor Nivernais

Shaped better than the result last time out at Ascot, but I just can’t have him staying this sort of trip.

  1. Carlingford Lough

Five-time Grade 1 winner and while not the force of old, his run at the start of the season over an inadequate trip on unsuitably heavy ground suggested there is life in the old boy yet. Trained by a shrewd man in John Kiely, I just can’t leave him go unbacked at such a big price, with me feeling this has been the plan for over 14 months.

  1. Delusionofgrandeur

Lots of small-field form and is hard to fancy.

  1. Tiger Roll

He’s another one of the leading fancies I want to take on. Gordon Elliott’s inmate is a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner with a distinct touch of class, but I just don’t think this race will suit. He’s quite small, and I wonder can he back up just four weeks after Cheltenham. He couldn’t do it last season in the Irish National.

  1. Regal Encore


  1. Vieux Lion Rouge

Plenty of good form over the obstacles which is a plus, and he could run well for a fair way, but it’s just hard to see him staying on the evidence.

  1. Chase The Spud

He’ll have no problems with the ground or the trip, but I’m just not sure he has the touch of class needed to win this race.

  1. Warriors Tale

I really don’t think this horse will stay. Next!

  1. Seeyouatmidnight

A classy type in his pomp who lowered the colours of Bristol De Mai two seasons ago before suffering a suspensory ligament injury. Was second in the Scottish National in the same year, but his time off the track through injury has to be a concern.

  1. Gas Line Boy

A sound fifth in last season’s race on much better ground off 4lb lower when he didn’t quite get home. Now up in the weights, a year older and on softer ground, it’s hard to fancy him winning, but he could run well for a fair way once more.

  1. The Dutchman

I’ve never been taken by his jumping and he’s a horse with bleeding issues. I like plenty others more.

  1. Pleasant Company

Down 4lb in the handicap when a sound ninth in last year’s race. Hasn’t been in good form this season, maybe by design, but I have worries about him staying the trip on soft ground.

  1. Ucello Conti

Unseated in last year’s race when seemingly going as well as anything. Comes into the contest on a 2lb lower mark despite running well in a hot handicap at Christmas. I wouldn’t let his prep for this race put you off, I suspect connections knew he wasn’t right and looked after him. Trained by a genius in Gordon Elliott, the ground and trip won’t faze him. Could go close!

  1. Saint Are

Second to Many Cloud in 2015 and third to One For Arthur off the same mark last year. Now likely to tackle slower ground and is 12-years-old, it’s just hard to see him winning, for all he clearly likes it over these fences.

  1. Walk In The Mill


  1. Raz De Maree

Comes into a much better race, effectively 11lb higher, after his Welsh National success, given then 5lb claimer James Bowen rode him to win. He beat another 13-year-old there, meaning the form looks so-so and this looks much tougher. He will love the ground and should stay, but I fancy others stronger.

  1. I Just Know

It was in a much weaker race, but I liked his North Yorkshire Grand National win where he showed a lovely attitude, strong stamina and sound jumping. Sue Smith won this five years ago, and he’s one of the more likable types.

  1. Virgilio

Prone to errors and I can’t see him staying. Next!

  1. Baie Des Iles

A fine big grey mare who jumps accurately. Can be slow at some, but is safe. Looks like a relentless galloper who will love the prevailing ground. Been the subject of a pretty big gamble this week, but I wonder if she classy enough to win? No seven-year-old has won the National since 1940, Bogskar.

  1. Maggio

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Pendra

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Buywise

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Childrens List

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Lord Windermere

Former Gold Cup winner, but sadly hasn’t won a race since. That tells the story of his career of late. To be fair to him, he ran a lovely race to be seventh last season and is now lower in the handicap, but he’d have preferred better ground.

  1. Captain Redbeard

Had a great season for the Coltherd team, will go on the ground, but I just don’t see him staying.

  1. Houblon Des Obeaux

Got round to finish a well-held tenth last season, and now runs off a 5lb lower mark. For the most part, been in useful order this season despite Venetia Williams having a poor campaign. Trainer’s horses are running much better now however, and he’s one of the more likable ones to the bottom of the handicap.

  1. Bless The Wings

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Milansbar

Won the Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase in what has been a good season. Will go on the ground and has a good chance of staying, but I just wonder will his Midlands Grand National effort have taken the freshness out of him?

  1. Final Nudge

I feel like he is the horse I know least about in this field. I can’t have him so he’ll probably win!

  1. Double Ross


  1. Road To Riches

Former high-class chaser who hasn’t been the same since a fall a couple of seasons ago. I really don’t think he should be running here because of that. Impossible to recommend. Just hope he enjoys himself.

Final verdict

  1. Ucello Conti @20/1
  2. I Just Know @20/1
  3. Alpha Des Obeaux @40/1
  4. Carlingford Lough @50/1
  5. Houblon Des Obeaux

Thursday 10 April 2014

2.10 Towcester – Haygain Hay Steamers Clean Healthy Forage Conditional Jockeys´ Handicap Hurdle

HOME FOR TEA caught my eye four starts back at Ludlow when not given an overly hard ride to get competitive in a novice hurdle event. He seemed to be running OK before a bad blunder two out stopped all momentum.

His following two starts on bad ground were poor, but back on a better surface at Wincanton last time out he produced his best run over hurdles. The ground seemed to show him in a better light and given we race on good going at Towcester today he may finally be able to get his head in front.

It’s his first run in a handicap and it’s hard not to feel like this is where connections felt he’d be best served. It’s low grade stuff, but he runs off a mark of 92 with another three pounds off with Ben Poste up.

Tom Symonds, the trainer, and Poste do quite well together and it’s another positive both have trained and ridden winners here before.

His mark may also be lenient, given he finished ahead of a 110 rated rival last time out, while giving him three pounds. This unique course is an unknown given the severe test of stamina, but his pedigree suggests a stiffer test is wanted and his handy style of racing (adopted last time out) is another plus on this track.


1pt each-way HOME FOR TEA @11/1 (Bet Fred, William Hill)

Saturday 5 March -Aintree Grand National Day.

1.30 Aintree – Pertemps Network Novices Hurdle

A competitive Grade One to kick off Grand National day and I have question marks about a fair few in. Dell ‘Arca has been on the go quite a while now and this trip looks to stretch him. Lac Fontana now steps into Grade One company for the first time after a gutsy win in a Cheltenham Festival handicap. That was a good run, but it was a handicap and he looked to have a pretty hard race. Barry Geraghty has gone for Oscar Hoof of the Nicky Henderson pair. I’m sure he’s on a horse with less ability, but Oscar Hoof stays well so I think that may have swung it for him. I like Volnay De Thaix, but the step-up in trip is a worry.

Given how well the Supreme Novices’’ Hurdle is working out, the two I like are Wilde Blue Yonder and Un Ace. A length-and-a-ha; separated them at Cheltenham, favouring the Alan King runner so I’m not sure why Un Ace is twice the price. He looks open to more improvement to me, only having his third run of the year and looking at his pedigree, this step-up in trip will be a help. He’s the value play here.


1pt win UN ACE @8/1 (general)

2.05 Aintree –Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase

Seven runners go to post for an intriguing novices’ chase. Three horses come here from the Arkle at Cheltenham while Next Sensation is a progressive looking handicapper. Balder Succes comes here fresher than most and there is an interesting Irish challenger in Moscow Mannon.

On all known form Trifolium looks the one to beat, but he had a tough race last time out and I feel he is a much better horse with significant cut in the ground. He jumps, travels and simply performs better with cut so will need the heavens to open.

Balder Succes jumps well and is a nice horse, but I’m just not sure he is a Grade One animal. He probably wants rain too, to be at his best. His jumping should see him run well, however.

Ted Veale is still a novice, Simply Ned doesn’t look good enough and Next Sensation offers poor value in comparison to those directly around him in the market.

The one I want to be with is HINTERLAND who will come hear fresher than most. I’m still not a fan of his jumping, but he has an engine and sometimes I tend to overplay the jumping card. Him and Trifolium look the best in the race, but with the ground favouring the Nicholls runner, I’ll side with him.

The 20/1 about Moscow Mannon is also pretty big for a horse that travels and jumps really nicely. He’s a big horse and hard to get right, but this better ground should help him and I can certainly see him running bigger than his price suggests.


2pts win HINTERLAND @100/30

1pt win MOSCOW MANNON @16/1

2.50 Aintree – Silver Cross Stayers Hurdle

3pts win ZARKANDAR @15/8 betting without At Fishers Cross (Bet Victor, William Hill)

3.25 AintreeBetfred TV Handicap Chase

1pt each-way WETAK @12/1 (general)

5.10 Aintree – Maxilead Metals Handicap Hurdle

1pt win VASCO DU RONCERAY @14/1 (general)

1pt win BOLD HENRY @25/1 (bet365, William Hill)

Friday 4 March – Aintree Day Two

2.00 Aintree – International Festival For Business 2014 Top Novices´ Hurdle

The market suggests Josses Hill is simply not for beating and while he holds strong claims his price now looks pretty short. Sgt Reckless is over three times Josses Hill’s odds, after finishing a length-and-a-half behind him at Cheltenham and I’d much rather back Mick Channon’s runner each-way than the favourite at 6/4 odd.

It took me a while to get my head around Sgt Reckless’ Cheltenham run, but I have now come to the conclusion a poor starting position along with the track not suiting played major roles in his eyecatching run. Back on a flat track and once more on good ground he is the value in taking on the favourite.

One at a nice price I like, however, that offers even better value is the Irish challenger THE GAME CHANGER. A Gigginstown horse in the care of Charlie Swan, he is only five-years-old and so a bit on the weak side. Even so, he’s a nice horse and this faster ground will suit him much better than what he has been running on in Ireland. The Game Changer travels strongly in his races so I can see him out running his price of 25/1.

That said, I can’t see him beating Josses Hill or Sgt Reckless, but bet365’s alternative market with the above two out has lured me in. Take out the leading pair out and we have an extremely open race. With this the case I’m going to suggest backing him in this market as it offers better value and a better chance of scoring than backing Sgt Reckless in the straight market.


1.5pts each-way THE GAME CHANGER @9/1 without Josses Hill & Sgt Reckless (bet365)

3.05 Aintree – Betfred Melling Chase

Probably the worst Melling Chase running I’ve seen meaning a shock result wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. All those to the fore in the market have questions to answer.

Ballynagour has to prove he is as good in backing up shortly after a career best. He’s a horse that has bleed in the past and doesn’t strike me as reliable even though he has a touch of class.

Rajdhani Express, although not having the same publicised troubles as Ballynagour I too have doubts about him backing up in this grade. Having won at Cheltenham last year, he went to Ayr five weeks later and was a hugely fortunate winner. Now running two weeks earlier, in Grade One company we wonder will he be as good?

The two horses I like are MODULE and at a bigger price RATHLIN. Starting with the former he now looks a big price at 6/1 given he is a young, improving horse. His running style suggests this trip should be perfect for him as all season he has been staying on over slightly shorter trips. He jumps well and Aintree should suit him, as it’s pretty similar to Newbury where he has twice run. A small worry is him backing up, but he is the more solid of those to the fore in the market.

Sixteen to one about Rathlin looks pretty fair too. I thought Mouse Morris’ charge would go close at Cheltenham in the Ryanair given his early season form with Hidden Cyclone looked extremely solid. It still looks worthy given how well the aforementioned ran in the Ryanair.

Rathlin had beaten Hidden Cyclone by six lengths at Galway last year, but the former didn’t fire at Cheltenham. Mouse Morris said he needed the run and given he was bang there at the bottom of the hill, he is entitled to get much closer to race favourite, Rajdhani Express.

Even with this in mind, Rathlin’s effort looks worthy of marking up, too. He travelled wider than most at Cheltenham, with no cover and gave away significantly more ground than Rajdhani Express. It was encouraging he jumped well and now striping fitter can hopefully run a bigger race.

The ground will suit, as should the course and even the slight drop in trip will help. He and Module I like so hopefully they can run well.


1pt win MODULE @6/1 (general)

1pt win RATHLIN @16/1 (Bet Victor, Stan James)

3.40 Aintree – Crabbie´s Supporting Everton In The Community Topham Chase

Thirty runners go to post over the National fences in the Topham Chase so luck in running will be at a premium. Our shortlist consisted of Tatenen, Giorgio Quercus, Lost Legend and Dunowen Point.

Tatenen we have slight reservations about his jumping here, even though he remains in good form. Andrew Thornton gets a great tune out of him, but his style of riding may not be best suited to these fences. Giorgio Quercus is sure to run well as he has got great experience on this course and distance. We have slight worries about the trip meaning we’ll side with the reaming two, LOST LEGEND and DUNOWEN POINT.

Lost Legend has no experience over these fences, but jumps well in the main and comes here in good form. He can be a touch keen so the pace of this race should help him settle.

Dunowen Point ran an absolute cracker to finish fourth in this race last season, having been up with the pace throughout. He now runs off an eight pounds lower mark and is also 12 pounds lower in the weights. Jason Maguire, his usual partner is injured, and that, for me, is a negative, but hopefully Brain Harding can get a tune out of him.


1pt win LOST LEGEND @16/1 (general)

1pt win DUNOWEN POINT @16/1 (general)

4.50 Aintree – Alder Hey Children´s Charity Handicap Hurdle

The final suggested bet of the day will come in this 22 runner handicap hurdle. I’m willingly to take on a number of the favourites here. Caid Du Berlais is still a touch weak and may not be able to run two hard races back to back. Stonebrook now encounters ground vastly different to what he has been winning on. Ataglance is in good form, but now reverts to hurdles off a higher chase mark and that doesn’t look ideal.

Those that made the shortlist include Zabana, Cheltenian and two at big prices, Party Rock and Mister Hotelier. This is a race the Irish have a decent record in and the Irish pair of Zabana and Mister Hotelier deserve respect especially the former.

The pair clashed at the end of January at Leopardstown where Zabana ran out a good winner of a race that seems to be holding its form. The winner travelled and jumped nicely and won like a horse really going places. Connections felt him better for a break and he has now come back a stronger horse. He’s entitled to strip fitter given that was his first run seven months and there is a chance he is ahead of the handicapper.

Although beaten 19 lengths this day Mister Hotelier did catch my eye. In a year where his trainer Colm Murphy has struggled, this seven-year-old ran an encouraging race giving his trainer something to be optimistic about. He travelled just as well as anything and blew up in the straight; probably a sign that he needed the run, given his stable had struggled with a virus.

It was encouraging to see him win next time out next time out in a god race. Plenty came into it inform and the there were some nice horses behind. With his stable now back in form and he himself running well, Mister Hotelier running well I’m sure he can outrun his price of 33/1 under an inform jockey.

Cheltenian I like too and this step up in trip will show him in a better light if settling. The ground may also count against him as he has plenty of good form on softer and don’t rule out a big run from Party Rock on a track he likes.

We’ll side with the Irish dup of ZABANA and MISTER HOTELIER, though.


2pts each-way ZABANA @8/1 (Bet Victor, William Hill)

1pt each-way MISTER HOTELIER @33/1 (Stan James)

Thursday 3 March – Aintree Day One

2.00 Aintree – Injured Jockeys Fund 50th Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

The market for this race looks pretty top heavy in favour of Calipto and Activial and the two, while the most likely winners, offer no real value. The former looks the one to beat after an unlucky Cheltenham run, but he did have a hard race and now backs up at a short price. Activial looks pretty short on collateral form with some in the race, too.

In winning the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton, Activial was getting seven pounds from a horse called Solar Impulse, of Paul Nicholls’. Solar Impulse went on to run a creditable race in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Festival, finishing behind the likes of Hawk High and Baradari.

Solar Impulse now reopposes on seven pounds better terms, on better ground so there must be a chance of him getting closer to Activial. Trained by Harry Fry, Activial has done all his running on softer ground and I’ve detected a knee action. I also feel he may be a proper stayer and vulnerable to speedier types on faster going.

Given Solar Impulse may get closer to the second favourite, what does this suggest about Hawk High and Baradari? Second last flight faller Clarcam also comes into the mix. Hawk High you’d hope can again finish ahead of Solar Impulse despite being two pounds worse off at the weights, but is priced fairly for me.

Given the Cheltenham run, on a line through Hawk High and Solar Impulse, the most interesting horses at the prices are Baradari and Clarcam. The former looked a touch unlucky having been held up off the pace where many out the back couldn’t get involved. In fact he was last for most of it, but once hitting the hill stayed on strongly. Aintree’s fairer nature can help and he should go well. 33/1 is too big for me.

Clarcam is also of interest despite falling last time out in the Fred Winter. We don’t know what would’ve happened, but Gordon Elliot’s charge was still travelling strongly, very strongly in fact when he came down. Again, it looks as if he was going to finish ahead of Solar Impulse, our marker horse in this race, so is of interest today.

I wasn’t going to have a bet in this race, but at the prices BARADARI and CLARCAM are worth chancing.


0.5pt each-way BARADARI @33/1

0.5pt each-way CLARCAM @20/1

4.15 Aintree – Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase

Seventeen runners go to post for another competitive, big-field handicap. Arnaud and Claret Cloak are sure to go well, but I have slight stamina reservations about Arnaud and Claret Cloak’s rise up the handicap won’t do his chance much good.

Both have sound chances, but take those out and this is a hugely open race. Two horses, at nice prices, that are sure to appreciate the conditions of a big field handicap are ANAY TURGE and ANQUETTA.

Anay Turge has twice been to Aintree and on both occasions has finished second. The nine-year-old clearly has no course questions to answer and given both those runs came under unsuitable race conditions (no pace on) he has run well. When getting a decent pace to run at, like he did at Cheltenham six starts back, he showed what he can do. Nigel Hawkes’ inmate also jumps well so I’m hoping he can go close today back over fences. I didn’t think he needed first time blinkers, but if they improve him he can run well.

Nicky Henderson’s Anquetta was a big eyecatcher for me at the Cheltenham Festival when running down the field in the Grand Annual. It was his first run in three months and Nicky Henderson’s inmate gave an exhibition of jumping early. He chased a strong pace set by Next Sensation and effectively raced on his own. All things considered he was entitled to get tired, which he did, but the son of Anshan ran far better than his position suggested. He loves good ground and if jumping like he did last time out, that can only be a positive.


1pt each-way ANAY TURGE @18/1 (Bet Victor, Sky Bet)

0.5pt each-way ANQUETTA @33/1 (Bet Victor, Stan James)

5.25 Aintree – Dominican Republic Handicap Hurdle

Another tough handicap to get to grips with, but two that look to be running into form are KAYLIF ARAMIS and CAROLE´S DESTRIER. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Kaylif Aramis came down at the third last at Cheltenham when bang there in the Coral Cup. He didn’t exactly have the best path to that point either, and while it was a long way from home he was in the process of running a career best, in a good race. His recent breathing operation has clearly helped and the step-up to three miles may help him with his jumping.

Neil Mulholland’s Carole Destrier won a nice handicap hurdle last time out at Kempton and is clearly a horse in good fettle. He looks pretty progressive and the son of Kayf Tara may not have stopped just yet. He looks a chaser in the making so there is every chance this good form will continue. He jumps well and his form looks sounder and sounder the more I look at it.


1pt win KAYLIF ARAMIS @14/1 (general)

1pt win CAROLE´S DESTRIER @16/1 (Ladbrokes)

Cheltenham 2014 – Day Two

The crossbar was well and truly hit yesterday, but hoping for a better day.

Selections are below and reasoning is here http://bit.ly/1oLUieB

Enjoy everyone.

1.30 Cheltenham – Neptune Investment Management Novices´ Hurdle


1.5pts each-way LIEUTENANT COLONEL @14/1 (general)

1pt each-way LIEUTENANT COLONEL @17/2 (betting without Faugheen – William Hill)

2.05 Cheltenham – RSA Chase


1pt each-way SMAD PLACE @7/1 (general)

2.40 Cheltenham – Coral Cup


1pt each-way FAR WEST @20/1 (general – use each-way first five boomakers)

1pt each-way COTTON MILL @25/1(general – use each-way first five boomakers)

1pt each-way CALCULATED RISK @33/1 (general – use each-way first five) boomakers)

3.20 Cheltenham – Queen Mother Champion Chase


2pts each-way CAPTAIN CONAN @9/2 (bet365)

4.00 Cheltenham – Glenfarclas Handicap Chase


1pt each-way BALTHAZAR KING @6/1 (bet365)

4.40 Cheltenham – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle


1pt each-way VIOLET DANCER @20/1 (bet365, StanJames only for each-way first five)

5.15 Cheltenham –  Weatherbys Champion Bumper


1pt each-way VALUE AT RISK @14/1 (bet365, Paddy Power only for each-way first four)


Cheltenham 2014 – Day One

Day one preview.

http://bit.ly/1iwBxyo (reasoning behind selections here)

1.30 Cheltenham – Sky Bet Supreme Novices´ Hurdle

1pt each-way VALSEUR LIDO @20/1 (bet365 1,2,3,4)
Paddy Power are offering your money back on the second, third and fourth home in this race too.

2.05 Cheltenham – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase

1pt win CHAMPAGNE FEVER @4/1 (Bet Victor)

2.40 Cheltenham – Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase

1pt win WRONG TURN @14/1 (bet365 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt each-way GREEN FLAG @20/1 (bet365 1,2,3,4,5)

3.20 Cheltenham – Stan James Champion Hurdle

1pt each-way THE NEW ONE @7/2 (general)

4.00 Cheltenham – David Nicholson Mares´ Hurdle Race

0.5pt each-way JENNIES JEWELL @66/1 (Bet Victor, StanJames)

4.40 Cheltenham – Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase

1pt win SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR @7/2 (general)

5.15 Cheltenham – Rewards4Racing Novices´ Handicap Chase

1pt win PENDRA @11/1 (bet365, Coral, William Hill)
1pt each-way PERSIAN SNOW @25/1 (bet365, Bet Victor)



Wednesday 19 February 2014

3.55 Doncaster – Betdaq 500 In Free Bets Handicap Hurdle

A return to decent ground, on a galloping track may see CANUSPOTIT outrun his current price of 33/1. Lucy Wadham’s giant son of Nomadic Way is still a novice and at the age of seven has only had three runs.

You can see why, by looking at him. He looks a chaser in the making, but hopefully the stamina laden bred gelding can pick up a race or two along the way, as he has shown ability in his three runs.

Canuspotit ran a nice race on debut at Doncaster over a trip far too short of his best, in a useful race. An eye-catching effort would be seen next time out at Southwell, behind your current Neptune Novices’ Hurdle second favourite, Red Sherlock, before going to Fakenham for his third and latest run.

Given his size I’m not sure Fakenham would be his ideal track, and the heavy ground was probably a little bit inconveniencing. His pedigree suggests better ground will suit. This coupled with the slow pace in the race all held him back, but he still managed to finish second, albeit in a poorish heat.

It’s hard to say whether he’s well-handicapped or not, but he sits at the right end of the weights for a race of this nature and has shown bits and pieces of form. Moreover, he is 33/1 and that price looks too big given this is his first handicap start.


1pt each-way CANUSPOTIT @33/1 (Stan James), 28/1 (Bet Victor)


Thursday 30th January 2014

3.35 Thurles – Thurles Handicap Hurdle

Despite shouldering top weight in what looks a competitive race, the 9/1 about OUR KATIE seems more than fair. This horse looked to be a mare going places two starts back when winning here, at Thurles, in taking fashion.

The race she scored in wasn’t great, but the third home is a useful mare herself and she was well and truly beaten off. The selection done it in style and carried a penalty too. It was an impressive victory and she jumped well throughout.

Her performance above screamed black type and connections obviously felt the same as they stepped her up in class and sent her to England for her next start, in a Listed contest. She would run well below par, but Haydock is a far cry from Thurles and she should enjoy a return to this stiffer track.

It’s a positive the excellent Paul Townend keeps the ride and his post-race quotes of connections “could go anywhere with her!” means a rating of 123 may underestimate her. A return to Thurles will suit and while the ground will be slower than when she won here she has won on soft/heavy terrain.


2pts each-way OUR KATIE @9/1 (Ladbrokes, William Hill)

Sunday 26th January 2014

2.00 Leopardstown – Sandyford Handicap Chase

I’m not sure the 14/1 about BACK TO BALLOO will last long so I’ll make this short and hopefully sweet.

This eight-year-old grey goes into a handicap for the first time on a mark that looks very workable. He has run in three top novice events this season finishing fifth, fourth and last of eight (remounted to complete after fall).

His last two runs have been particularly eye-catching, not at all given a hard time by David Casey in each. He gets in off a mark of 118 tomorrow and that looks workable especially in a race of this nature.

Plenty in this field are not open to as much improvement, have trip concerns, ground worries or represent trainer’s struggling for form. More importantly none offer the value the selection does.

Colin McBratney has been among the winners lately and David Casey is well capable.

We might just see this grey in a better light despite really soft ground being a fear. Hopefully he is over his mishap last time out.


2.5pts each-way BACK TO BALLOO @14/1 (bet365, Boylesports, Stan James)