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Stat of the Day, 20th March 2019

Tuesday's pick was...

4.00 Taunton : Oxwich Bay @ 4/1 BOG 5th at 9/4 (Chased leaders in 4th, pushed along after 3 out, weakened on long run before next)

Wednesday's pick runs in the...

4.20 Haydock :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Dartford Warbler 15/2 BOG

...in a 10-runner, Class 4, Veterans Handicap Chase for 10yo+ over 2m7f on Soft (Heavy in places) worth £8058 to the winner... 

Why?

So, it's the old boys on show here and with very little in the way of decent, recent form on show from this 10-runner field, our boy's 3 wins and 2 places from 8 starts over the last 9 months stands out quite starkly.

He has 9 career wins to date, broken down with this contest in mind as follows...

  • 7 within 3 weeks of his last run
  • 5 at Class 4, 5 in fields of 8-11 runners, 5 going left handed
  • 4 over fences, 4 under Danny Cook's steering
  • 3 on Soft ground
  • and 2 as a 12 yr old

As intimated above, Danny Cook will be in the saddle and his record riding for trainer Sue Smith is quite remarkable, as the partnership is actually profitable to back blindly after over 600 outings! More accurately, they are 116/643 (18% SR) for 125.9pts (+19.6% ROI) together and in the context of this race, those 643 runners can be filtered as follows...

  • males are 114/611 (18.7%) for 147.9pts (+24.2%)
  • in races worth less than £13,000 : 102/533 (19.1%) for 102.3pts (+19.2%)
  • in fields of 6-12 runners : 88/460 (19.1%) for 162.3pts (+35.3%)
  • in handicaps : 91/450 (20.2%) for 102.7pts (+22.8%)
  • in chases : 78/372 (21%) for 42.3pts (+11.4%)
  • unplaced LTO : 69/361 (19.1%) for 205pts (+56.8%)
  • Soft/Heavy ground : 73/359 (20.3%) for 68.25pts (+19%)
  • Class 4 : 57/291 (19.6%) for 67.9pts (+23.2%)
  • 16-25 days since last run : 36/177 (20.3%) for 35.5pts (+20%)
  • at Haydock : 10/63 (15.9%) for 65.6pts (+104.2%)
  • and in 2019 alone : 13/54 (24.1%) for 30pts (+55.6%)

...and from the above...male hcp chasers in fields of 6-12 runners competing for £4-13k on Soft ground = 24/70 (34.3% SR) for 47.4pts (+67.7% ROI), including...

  • within 45 days of last run : 22/57 (38.6%) for 54.1pts (+94.9%)
  • Class 4 : 12/40 (30%) for 12.76pts (+31.9%)
  • Class 4 within 45 days : 11/30 (36.7%) for 19.7pts (+65.7%)
  • in 2019 : 2/5 (40%) for 9.12pts (+182.4%)
  • and in 2019 at Class 4 within 45 days of last run = 2/2 (100%) for 12.12pts (+606%) : both by today's pick Dartford Warbler!

Finally (!) and more generally, since the start of 2014 in UK Class 3-5 handicap chases, males who won two starts ago and are now running less than 3 weeks after finishing fourth last time out are 36/137 (26.3% SR) for 156.7pts (+114.4% ROI)...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Dartford Warbler 15/2 BOG which was available from Hills at 5.20pm on Tuesday evening, whilst Betfair were offering 8/1 BOG. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 4.20 Haydock

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 19th March 2019

Monday's pick was...

3.05 Southwell : Darlyn @ 7/2 BOG WON at 11/4 (Chased leaders, went 2nd 4 out, led before 2 out, pressed last, found extra run-in, driven out to win by a length)

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

4.00 Taunton :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Oxwich Bay 4/1 BOG

...in a 7-runner, Class 4, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m½f on Soft worth £5133 to the winner... 

Why?

This 7 yr old gelding bears top weight here today, conceding at least 7lbs to each of his rivals despite a fairly poor run of form over the past 12 months. In fairness most of that run of form has been over the larger obstacles, but he did revert to hurdling (considered good enough to run at Gr3 less than a year ago!) for his latest run 23 days ago when a reasonable fourth at a higher grade than this and on ground faster than he'd ever run on before.

A drop in class allied to softer conditions underfoot should see him in a better light as he seeks to improve upon his trainer's already decent record at this venue. Putting that into numbers, we see that trainer Evan Williams' handicappers are 16 from 96 (16.6% SR) for 31.5pts (+32.8% ROI) here at Taunton since 2013, with the following of relevance today...

  • males are 16/90 (17.8%) for 37.5pts (+41.6%)
  • hurdlers are 10/55 (18.2%) for 45.7pts (+83%)
  • at 2m to 2m1f : 8/38 (21.1%) for 39.62pts (+104.3%)
  • at odds of 2/1 to 6/1 : 10/37 (27%) for 15.16pts (+41%)
  • on Soft ground : 5/27 (18.5%) for 6.62pts (+24.5%)
  • and 7 yr olds are 4/18 922.2%) for 23.7pts (+131.9%)

Now, the fact he concedes weight all round could be seen as a negative by some people, but you might (or might not!) find it interesting that since the start of 2014 in UK Class 4 handicap hurdle contests, top-rated (OR) 5 to 9 yr olds carrying a race top-weight of 11-13 to 12-07 (after all claims considered) are 59 from 235 (25.1% SR) for 60.7pts (+25.8% ROI), from which...

  • those sent off at 15/2 or shorter are 57/164 (34.8%) for 97.56pts (+59.5%)
  • those last seen 4-30 days earlier are 47/137 (34.3%) for 76.26pts (+55.7%)
  • those rated (OR) 113-124 are 37/129 (28.7%) for 62.16pts (+48.2%)
  • over 1m7.5f to 2m0.5f : 17/55 (30.9%) for 49.27pts (+89.6%)
  • on Soft ground : 15/50 (30%) for 30.4pts (+60.8%)
  • and 7 yr old sare 14/49 (28.6%) for 24.93pts (+50.9%)

...and a simple yet highly profitable micro from the above? How about those sent off at 15/2 or shorter, 4-30 days after their last run? These runners are 47 from 102 (46.1% SR) for 111.26pts (+109.1% ROI) profit!

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Oxwich Bay 4/1 BOG which was available from half a dozen firms at 5.20pm on Monday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 4.00 Taunton

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Festival Reflections 2019

The stands have once again fallen silent after four breathless days of racing on Cleeve Hill, and the Cheltenham Festival 2019 is now confined to the memory banks and the history books. It was a captivating, challenging, emotional roller coaster of a week; these are my Festival reflections.

Champion Hurdler?

In the build up to the opening day, pundits and punters alike were relishing a duel between Apple's Jade and Buveur d'Air - or in some cases a three-way-go including Laurina - but what came to pass was one of those everyday 'you couldn't script it' scenarios for which racing's glorious uncertainty is known.

First, Apple's Jade was taken on at a helter-skelter lick by Melon, her chance seemingly compromised by this manoeuvre as she faded tamely into sixth. Meanwhile, reigning two-time champ, Buveur d'Air - with his trademark slick low jumping - took a liberty, and a consequential tumble, at the third flight. In so doing, he brought down Sharjah.

With the top two out of the race, as well as one of the key form line horses, surely it was Laurina's Champion Hurdle to lose? Lose it she did, the talk of her ascendancy proving some way wide of the mark. She was the only one of the supposed main three that had the chance to run her race, and she failed big time on this step up in grade. No obvious excuses there.

For Apple's Jade, it was a fourth visit to Cheltenham and a third defeat at a track where she seems to be beset by misfortune whether it's being in season, getting compromised on the lead or something else. It is not unreasonable to assume, given the full body of her work, that she is unsuited by the track.

And what of the winner and the placed horses? Espoir d'Allen, a progressive five-year-old bringing an eight-from-nine career record to the party, enhanced that to nine out of ten on this second attempt at Grade 1 company. He was soundly enough beaten in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, his sole previous G1 effort, in February last year but may have been unsuited to the steady pace there.

This was fiercely run. Mark Walsh sat in midfield, away from the crazy tempo up top and, avoiding the fallers, came through almost in his own time to saunter fifteen lengths clear of a gallant but spent Melon, with 80/1 poke Silver Streak back in third.

Handicapping the race is difficult, especially for those intent on literal interpretations. Fortunately, some clever bods - notably Simon Rowlands in this piece on the ATR website - have confirmed what the peepers were suggesting: that they went way too fast early and slowed up dramatically late.

To contextualise that, Rowlands notes that the Champion Hurdle was run four seconds - about twenty lengths - faster to the third flight, and yet the differential at the line was a mere two-and-a-half lengths. Pace collapse territory. That enabled Mark Walsh and Espoir d'Allen to record even fractions throughout in a sort of tortoise and hare setup - if it's not beyond rude to refer to a Champion Hurdler as a tortoise!

The fact that Melon, spoiler-in-chief for the favourite, was able to cling valiantly to second in spite of running remarkably inefficiently anchors the form in my book. Five-year-olds have a notoriously weak record in the Champion Hurdle and, while that alone is far from sufficient to crab the victor, the nature of the run of the race with - as Rowlands again notes - the first six home in the Supreme bettering the Champion Hurdle runner-up's time leads me to downgrade the race in form terms.

Projecting to this time next year, Espoir can certainly win another Champion Hurdle: he'll be a year older and stronger, and he has that crucial track experience to boot. But he's a lousy price at 7/2 in a place (6/1 tops still not enticing). Buveur d'Air will be nine next year, an age that didn't stop Hurricane Fly or Rooster Booster this century, and won't stop him if his appetite is undiminished after this spill. Apple's Jade will surely not contest this again; ditto Laurina. Melon at 25/1 could be interesting each way though he's shown himself to be beatable, albeit in very different setups and where he's run above himself both times.

But the one which might be most appealing for long-range forecasters is City Island. The Ballymore winner has a much better record than the Supreme winner in the Champion Hurdle, and Martin Brassil's six-year-old was comfortably the best with all the right horses close enough behind to suggest there was no fluke to the performance. Enthusiasm for the 33/1 is tempered markedly by connections referencing the Stayers' Hurdle (for which he is 20/1) as his target in post-race debriefs; with that in mind, splitting stakes may be more sensible (if taking a price 359 days before an event is ever sensible).

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National Hunt Chase 'Disgrace'

The National Hunt Chase is the second oldest race at the Festival, after the Grand Annual, but it has been run the most times due to the latter named being dropped for a chunk of the late 1800's - so wikipedia tells me, anyway. I also learn there that the race was considered the second most important, after the Grand National, in the calendar until the 1930's.

It is a four mile race for novice chasers ridden by amateur riders. For as long as I've been blogging and previewing Cheltenham - which is eleven years now, gulp - I've made mildly condescending noises about it. That's because I'm not a traditionalist, you see; I view most races through the prism of the sport as I see it and, naturally, as a wagering conduit.

This year, with welfare and good intentions aforethought, a number of jockeys in the race - notably Declan Lavery, who rode third placed Jerrysback - got into hot water with the stewards for persisting when their horses were considered by the arbiters to be too tired. These decisions have been roundly lambasted by horsemen of all vintages.

I am neither a traditionalist, as mentioned, nor a horseman, and additionally I have sympathy with the less militant parts of the welfare lobby, which leads me to an often conflicted head space on jump racing, a pursuit I love more deeply than flat racing. In that confused context, here's where I've got to: there WAS a problem in the National Hunt Chase - there simply has to be when, despite changes to attract a better class of horse and despite amateur jockeys being closer to their professional counterparts in ability terms than at any other time in history, eighteen horses set out and only four finished.

Of the fourteen non-completions, eight fell, one of which sustained fatal injuries.

Quite frankly, that is bullshit.

I happened to watch the race with a fairly senior member of the BHA, and we both audibly winced when the wonderful mare Atlanta Ablaze came down two out. It was a bridge too far for a pair of hardened NH spectators.

Here's the thing: this race is hideously anachronistic. It is probably twenty years past its sell by date, hence the ongoing tinkering with its conditions.

I know that the trads will lobby for its retention and I understand the reasons why. But it cannot be countenanced for another year in its current format. Blaming the jockeys for trying their best in a race which makes extraordinary demands of both humans and equines, each group inexperienced in the context of the meeting as a whole, is big-time deflection.

The issue here is the race, or rather its conditions. Here is a suggestion, not intended as a 'we should do this' blueprint, but as a strawman starting point to be discussed, pulled apart, iterated and refined.

The National Hunt Chase should be run over three and a half miles. It would still be the longest main track race at the Festival but it would be one-eighth less attritional. It should be contested only by horses with a defined level of experience and also, potentially, with an approved level of jumping ability. It should have a ratings ceiling to prevent the dilution of the RSA Chase, and a floor to prevent horses being outclassed and put at risk. Horses should be six or older (almost all are), and carry eleven stone rather than 11-06 (and jockeys will have to be able to do the weight without wasting/fasting). Jockeys should have a defined level of ability/experience to ride.

All of the above would make the race less testing; none of the above would make the race less compelling. Let's sort this crap out and stop blaming jockeys for the errors of history and the programme book.

Your first 30 days for just £1

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Joyful Thursday

If racing has a propensity to shoot itself in the foot, it also continues to produce human (and equine) interest stories of almost universal appeal. Last Thursday's racing looks set to be as enduring as it was endearing - it truly was one of the great days of racing.

Victory for the resurgent former Triumph Hurdler, Defi Du Seuil, was a terrific start. JP McManus is one of the more likeable of racing's mega-rich, for all that he is domiciled in Switzerland for tax efficiency purposes (he does distribute funds across a number of sports in Britain and Ireland which, I guess, is a more expedient direct contribution to racing), and his colours were worn to victory three times on this day.

Defi is a bit of a forgotten horse in a way. Considering he's won eleven of his sixteen races, and five of seven races at Cheltenham, he has been spoken of in somewhat disrespectful tones in the lead up to the JLT Chase. But he showed his usual class and some of his more occasional mettle to repel a regular rival, Lostintranslation, and confirm the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase form. This was the first winner of the Scilly Isles to double up in the JLT, breaking a sequence of second places.

That was but an amuse bouche for a couple of scintillating main courses. Before those, there was the Geraghty master class on Sire du Berlais, a horse that was sent off 4/1 favourite but traded as high as 240 in running. He looked cooked but BJG conjured a magic ride to get by one challenger and repel another in a tight finish.

Then came those delicious appetisers, starting with the Ryanair. This is a race which has been - rightly, in my view - called out in the past as a hiding place for second tier Champion Chase or Gold Cup prospects; but the 2019 renewal was a proper horse race, one packed with legitimate two-and-a-half-milers and legitimate Grade 1 horses.

From the veteran Un De Sceaux to Gold Cup non-staying fourth, Road To Respect, to Arkle victor, Footpad, to Cheltenham specialist, Frodon, all were worthy players for whom, with the possible exception of Footpad, this was undoubtedly the right race. Chuck in last year's winner Balko des Flos and another winner from Festival 2018, The Storyteller, as well as high class second season chaser, Monalee, and it was truly a deep and classy field.

Sometimes such setups disappoint, runners failing to show their true ability left and right. Not this time. It was a super race from start to finish, with a fairy tale outcome.

Frodon, incredibly, has only recently celebrated his seventh birthday and yet seems to have been around forever. Since joining Paul Nicholls he's made Cheltenham home, winning five of nine chase starts at the track. That palmarès was rounded off prior to Joyful Thursday by a huge performance off 164 (and top weight) in handicap company, and a battling victory in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase over a trip beyond his comfort zone. Here he added a first Grade 1 success in typical front-running heart-on-sleeve style.

In the aftermath it was left to Frodon's rider, Bryony Frost, to speak for her horse. Her affection for their partnership, her joy at what they'd just achieved together, and her youth and exuberance are the sorts of PR racing can't buy. Her post-race anthropomorphism of Frodon to any microphone that was turned on was beautifully sincere, faintly bonkers and, frankly, absolutely bloody marvellous. That Bryony adorned many of the newspaper front pages as well as their other covers on Friday morning was a much-needed shot in the arm for a sport sometimes struggling for relevancy in a world that increasingly fails to 'get it'.

And, if that wasn't enough, Cheltenham Thursday - so often the poor relation of the four day meeting - was able to sustain the Festival feel-good factor through the day's other championship event, the Stayers' Hurdle. This time it was Andrew Gemmell, a racing nut who has been blind since birth, who was the centre of attention.

His Festival had already been noteworthy when Discorama, a horse he part owns, ran a brave second in the National Hunt Chase. But this lad, owned outright and a strong favourite for the long distance hurdle crown, was the one that carried his hopes and dreams. Trained by Emma Lavelle and ridden by Aidan Coleman, both seeking their first Festival Grade 1's, those who could watch the race were left in no doubt from some way out about who would win; at least not until a horlicks at the last which would have floored a more fatigued horse.

Gemmell, reliant on the on-course commentary, would also have heard a cacophony of gasps to attest to the late drama which unfolded at the final flight. But Paisley Park, and Coleman and Lavelle, and Andrew Gemmell were not to be denied this joyful moment on Joyful Thursday.

What a day of racing that was. Alas, racing is never all 'up'.

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Triumph and Disaster

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

Kipling's these days almost trite verse about the journey to manhood will rarely have been more apposite than in the case of the boy-man Joseph O'Brien and the emerging brilliance of his four-year-old, Sir Erec. O'Brien is more than a chip off the old block, he is a carbon copy of the determination, diligence and intelligence of his father, Aidan.

Not 26 until May and rider of the winners of two Derby's, a 2000 Guineas and a St Leger, he already has a Classic victory and a Melbourne Cup win as a trainer. Although not named on the license at the time of Ivanovich Gorbatov's Triumph Hurdle win of 2016, he was widely rumoured to have been the trainer then; this was his chance to get a first Grade 1 win at the Festival.

But disaster tragically did strike. On the landing side of the fourth flight, Sir Erec broke a leg - I'm not sure how, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the recording yet - leading to his inevitable euthanizing.

As I've already said, I'm an animal lover and a fan of the sport. In these days of heightened sensitivity in all walks of life - it sometimes feels like we're returning to a 17th century puritanical era - harmonising those two attributes, animal lover/NH fan, is increasingly difficult to explain to those who don't follow the game.

How can you love a sport where horses of the quality, beauty and, yes, purity of Sir Erec are allowed to be sacrificed? It's a deep and nuanced question, and it has different answers depending on who is asking. It's a huge issue, maybe for another day, but suffice it to say that I was reminded of Our Conor and that difficult day, and the nausea in the pit of the stomach remained through the rest of Friday afternoon.

But there is more to life. Indeed, JPOB probably couched it better than anyone when he was quoted as follows:

Horse racing in the moment is everything, but when we pull our heads from the trough and see the stuff going on outside...

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Gold Cup win no silver lining

We need to talk about Willie. Again. Some won't hear of such as what is to follow, but the evidence is growing and only faintly masked by the excellent performance of Al Boum Photo in winning the Gold Cup. At a time when, as mentioned already, racing is fighting a battle against a rising tide of animal welfare sympathisers, faller - and especially fatality - rates are something which are going to be closely scrutinised.

Any horse can fall of course, and misfortune is as accepted as it is unwelcome in the winter game. But some incur greater levels of misfortune than others. To paraphrase the peerless Oscar Wilde (without intention to belittle the subject),

To lose one horse may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness

The Mullins stable saddled two of the three horses fatally injured at last week's Festival.

Obviously that's a tiny number and could easily be noise. Indeed it is very likely noise in and of itself. But, when looking at larger datasets, we see a similar pattern. Here, for instance, are the fall/unseat rates at this year's Festival:

Total Fall/Unseat - 32/498 (6.4%)
WPM Fall/Unseat - 5/59 (8.5%)

That's still a tiny sample, so let's expand to 2009+ at the Festival, eleven years and all of the data in geegeez.co.uk's Query Tool:

Total Fall/Unseat -  368/5315 (6.9%)
Total Fall/Unseat excl WPM - 327/4852 (6.8%)
WPM Fall/Unseat - 41/463 (8.9%)

Regardless of how many more competitive runners the trainer has, this is a significant outlier at the top of an unwelcome chart. Comparing with his most immediate Cheltenham Festival peers - Messrs. Elliott (14/181, 7.7%), Henderson (19/401, 4.7%) and Nicholls (23/321, 7.2%) - fails to improve the picture by relativity.

And yet still some may contend that the samples are too small. So, as one final set of data, here are the fall/unseat figures (chase races only) for all starters in UK and Irish races since 1st January 2015 for a select group of top trainers:

 

 

The obvious next question is, "Why?".

It is not for me to answer that: I don't have any 'in' on the yard nor do I think value is added by speculating on the basis of nothing. However, I will reference this quote from the trainer regarding Cilaos Emery, a horse who missed the Festival, that might just offer a window on this world:

He pulled a muscle schooling in Navan the other day. That's why you didn't see him this morning. We'll have to wait and see how he's going to come out of it. If he doesn't come out of it in the next seven days, then I think we might have to draw stumps for Cheltenham. That's a disappointment, but when you school them you take your chance.

When you school them you take your chance...

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Give Back Friday

On a wagering note, the week went well for me personally, and also for keen followers of the previews I penned on here. 40/1 advised William Henry was an obvious highlight from an odds perspective, though I was far more invested in shorter-priced runners, including my biggest bets of the week on Road To Respect - who blew his chance by bungling all of the last three fences - and Native River, who ran a creditable race which was only good enough for fourth. I'd had an overstaked each way bet on Anibale Fly at 33/1 which took some of the heat out of the Gold Cup situation but that, and small nibbles at big prices on Hazel Hill, could not quite cover the Friday losers elsewhere.

The County Hurdle (We Have A Dream 2nd at 25/1), Grand Annual (failed to have a small bet on the 66/1 winner, first time I've not backed him in four spins in this race) and Martin Pipe (over-staked bet on Dallas Des Pictons 2nd at 7/2) are races where you're not supposed to pick up. In fact the first and last of that trio were perfectly gettable - just not by me.

Adding into that a personal and perennial inability to identify the winners of either the Gold Cup or Triumph Hurdle, and the crap shoot that is the Albert Bartlett and oftentimes the Foxhunters as well, you'll see why I consider it 'Give Back Friday'; though of course that assumes that you've borrowed some off those lovely bookie types from Tuesday to Thursday.

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How was it for you? Feel free to leave a comment below - I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Matt

 

Stat of the Day, 18th March 2019

Saturday's pick was...

2.25 Uttoxeter : Captain Cattistock @ 7/2 BOG 3rd at 5/2 (Led until not fluent 13th, led next, blundered and headed 4 out, wandering after 2 out, no impression on winner last, lost 2nd towards finish)

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.05 Southwell :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Darlyn 7/2 BOG

...in a 9-runner, Class 4, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 1m7½f on Soft worth £4094 to the winner... 

Why?

This 6yr old mare has finished 114 in her last three runs over the space of 65 days, but heads here having been rested for the last 8 weeks. The middle run of that sequence was her only previous visit to this track, resulting in a Class 3 course and distance success under today's jockey James Davies, so conditions shouldn't be totally alien to her.

Trainer Henry Oliver's horse have won 7 of 35 (20% SR) for 7.7pts (+22% ROI) in the past 30 days, so they're in good nick and those numbers include...

  • 5/28 (17.9%) for 12.23pts (+43.7%) in handicaps
  • 4/19 (21.1%) for 17.03pts (+89.7%) over hurdles
  • 6/16 (37.5%) for 1.95pts (+12.2%) at odds of 4/1 and shorter
  • and 2/8 (25%) for 19.79pts (+247.4%) on soft/heavy ground

Overall, Henry's record here at Southwell in handicap hurdle contests stands at 5 wins from 16 (31.25% SR) for 2.9pts (+18.1% ROI), from which...

  • 5-6 yr olds are 4/9 (44.4%) for 8.65pts (+95%)
  • those racing at 1m7.5f/2m are also 4/9 (44.4%) for 8.65pts (+95%)
  • Class 4 runners are 3/9 (33.3%) for 3.98pts (+44.2%)
  • those ridden by James Davies are 2/6 (33.3%) for 1.04pts (+17.4%)
  • and those sent off at odds of 6/4 to 11/2 are an impressive 4 from 4 (100%) for 13.66pts (+341.5%)

More generally, Henry's record in handicap hurdle races on soft or worse ground stands at 31/109 (28.4% SR) for 63.7pts (+58.4% ROI) since 2014 with those racing over trips shorter than 2m3f winning 21 of 62 (33.9%) for 28.7pts (+46.2%), whilst previous course and distance winners are 3 from 4 (75%) for 7.56pts (+188.9%).

And since 2013, the yard's record in NH handicaps from horses with just one run in the previous 90 days is 30 from 146 (20.6% SR) for 49.6pts (+34% ROI), including...

  • 4-8 yr olds : 27/121 (22.3%) for 60.2pts (+49.7%)
  • at trips shorter than 2m5f : 28/112 (25%) for 74.7pts (+66.7%)
  • those unplaced LTO are 22/110 (20%) for 56.9pts (+51.7%)
  • at Class 4 : 18/65 (27.7%) for 50.5pts (+77.8%)
  • on Soft ground : 10/44 (22.7%) for 16.2pts (+36.9%)
  • females : 9/16 (31.6%) for 25.8pts (+135.5%)

...from which...4-8 yr olds at trips shorter than 2m5f and were unplaced LTO = 20/74 (27%) for 83pts (+112.2% ROI)

And finally, back to the horse herself : she's by Authorized, whose 4-6 yr old offspring are 17/86 (19.8% SR) for 23.3pts (+27.1% ROI) in UK handicap hurdle races on soft ground or worse since 2014, with those sent off shorter than 9/1 winning 15 of 53 (28.3% SR) for 24.4pts (+46.1% ROI)...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Darlyn 7/2 BOG which was widely available at 6.25pm on Sunday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.05 Southwell

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 16th March 2019

Friday's pick was...

3.55 Fakenham : Potters Midnight @ 11/2 BOG 4th at 5/2 (Prominent, ridden to lead bend approaching last, blundered last, soon headed, no extra)

Saturday's pick runs in the...

2.25 Uttoxeter :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Captain Cattistock 7/2 BOG

...in an 11-runner, Class 2, Novice Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over 3m on Heavy worth £25024 to the winner... 

Why?

A bit late with the write-up (I was waiting until the track passed inspection!) and the going is now heavy...

...but I'm hoping that won't tax our 6yr old gelding who won 22 days ago when last seen at Exeter, taking his career record to 4 wins from 10, including...

  • 4/9 wearing at tongue tie
  • 4/7 in fields of 5-11 runners
  • 4/7 when sent off at 6/1 or shorter
  • 3/5 after a break of 3-6 weeks
  • 3/4 in February/March
  • 2/2 on heavy
  • 1 win and 1 place from 2 over this trip
  • 1/1 in handicap novice chases
  • and 1 from 1 under today's jockey Lorcan Williams

Trainer Paul Nicholls' chasers are running/jumping well right now with a 30-day record showing 12 winners from 44 (27.3% SR) for 10.78pts (+24.5% ROI).

As for the going, we know he's 2/2 on heavy, but you might not know that he's by Black Sam Bellamy, whose 4-10 yr old, soft/heavy ground, handicap jumpers are 18 from 129 (14% SR) for 21.8pts (+16.9% ROI) since the start of 2017...

...whilst more generally since 2014 in UK Class 1-4 handicap chases, horses sent off at 7/1 and shorter, 6-25 days after winning a Novice chase LTO are 159/537 (29.6% SR) for 111.1pts (+20.7%) and these include...

  • males at 147/497 (29.6%) for 103.5pts (+20.8%)
  • over trips of 2m6f to 3m2.5f : 63/202 (31.2%) for 82pts (+40.6%)
  • at Class 2 : 12/49 (24.5%) for 19.3pts (+39.4%)
  • and here at Uttoxeter : 11/27 (40.7%) for 27.5pts (+101.8%)

...from which males over 2m6f to 3m2.5f are 59/186 (31.7% SR) for 81.6pts (+43.9% ROI), with 7 winners from 17 (41.2%) for 26.2pts (+154%) here at Uttoxeter...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Captain Cattistock 7/2 BOG which was widely available at 5.20pm on Friday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 2.25 Uttoxeter

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Sat TV Trends: 16th March 2019

It's always a bit quiet this weekend with the Cheltenham hangovers, but there is still ITV Racing to take in with the cameras heading to Uttoxeter, with the Midlands National the feature, while they are also at Kempton Park.

As always, we are  on hand with all the key trends and stats for the LIVE ITV races. Use these to whittle down the runners and find the best profiles of past winners.

Uttoxeter Horse Racing Trends

2.25 - Brit Plant Direct Novices' Handicap Chase Cl2 3m ITV

12/15 – Aged 8 or younger
12/15 – Carried 10-9 or more
11/15 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
10/15 – Had won between 1-2 times over fences before
10/15 – Had won over at least 3m (chases) before
10/15 – Placed last time out
10/15 – Never raced at Uttoxeter before
10/15 – Returned 7/1 or less
8/15 – Unplaced favourites
9/15 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
7/15 – Aged 7 years-old
5/15 – Won last time out
2/15 – Trained by Alan King
2/15 – Trained by Harry Fry (last two runnings)
2/15 – Ridden by Daryl Jacob
2/15 – Winning favourites

 

3.00 - Marston's Pedigree Handicap Hurdle Cl2 2m4f ITV

Only 7 Previous Runnings
7/7 – Carried 10-13 or more in weight
6/7 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
3/
7 – Winning favourites
3/7 – Aged 8 years-old
Clyne (10/1) won the race in 2018

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3.35
- Marston's 61 Deep Midlands Grand National Chase Handicap (Listed Race) Cl1 4m1f110y ITV

14/15 – Aged 9 or younger
13/15 – Had won between 1-4 times over fences before
13/15 – Carried 10-12 or less
13/15 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
12/15 – Had raced within the last 8 weeks
11/15 – Won by an Irish bred horse
11/15 – Had never run at Uttoxeter before
11/15 – Unplaced favourites
10/15 – Officially rated 133 or less
10/15 – Carried 10-9 or less
10/15 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
8/15 – Aged 7 or 8 years-old
8/15 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
8/15 – Returned a double-figure-price in the betting
5/15 – Won last time out
4/15 – Trained by David Pipe
3/15 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
2/15 – Winning favourites

Kempton Park Horse Racing Trends

2.05 – Get Switched On With Matchbook Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) Cl3 2m ITV

11/12 – Returned 7/1 or shorter in the betting
10/12 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
8/12 – Carried 11-0 or less
8/12 – Ran in the last 5 weeks
8/12 – Won at least once over fences before
7/12 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or less
5/12 – Unplaced last time out
5/12 – Aged 8 or 9 years-old
5/12 – Won last time out
5/12 – Won 3 or more times before over fences
4/12 – Winning favourites
2/12 – Trained by Tom George (2 of last 6)

2.40 – Matchbook VIP Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle Cl2 2m5f ITV

Only 5 previous runnings
Nicky Henderson has won 2 of the last 4 runnings
No winning favourite yet from the last 5 runnings
All 5 previous winners carried 11-12 or more
Kildisart (5/1) won the race in 2018 (Ben Pauling)

 

3.15 – Matchbook Silver Bowl (A Handicap Chase) Cl2 2m4f110y ITV

Only 5 previous running
1 winning favourite (co) from the last 5 runnings
4 of the last 5 winners carried 11-2 or more
Trainers Venetia William, Tom George, Ian Williams, Paul Nicholls, Tom George and Jonjo O’Neill have won the race so far
Cepage (14/1) won the race in 2018

 

 

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Stat of the Day, 15th March 2019

Thursday's pick was...

8.00 Southwell : Tynecastle Park @ 7/2 BOG WON at 6/4 (Disputed lead until led over 4f out, ridden 2f out, stayed on strongly to win by 2.5 lengths)

Friday's pick runs in the...

3.55 Fakenham :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Potters Midnight 11/2 BOG

...in an 8-runner, Class 3, Handicap Hurdle for 4yo+ over 2m on Good To Soft worth £10787 to the winner... 

Why?

With a first prize of almost £11k, this is the day's most valuable race (if you discard that other meeting) and I'm hoping to win it with a 9 yr old mare who has 3 wins and 3 places from her last 8 efforts over hurdles and was third LTO at Market Rasen on quicker ground than she'd like 26 days ago.

That said, another place took her career stats to...

  • 4/8 at 2m-2m0.5f
  • 3/6 at 2m
  • 2 wins and 2 places from 11 in fields of 8-11 runners
  • 2 wins and a place from 5 under jockey Jack Quinlan
  • 2 wins and a place from 5 here at Fakenham
  • 2 from 3 here over 2m-2m0.5f
  • 2 wins and a place from 3 at Class 3
  • and 1/1 over course and distance

...so conditions look ideal for another big run and her yard is in decent form too. Since our mare's third placed finish LTO, her trainer Lucy Wadham has had 6 winners from 18 runners (33.3% SR) for 27.66pts (+153.7% ROI) profit and these have included...

  • 4/11 (36.4%) for 27.74pts (+252.2%) in handicaps
  • 5/10 (50%) for 8.44pts (+84.4%) at odds of evens to 4/1
  • and 3/5 (60%) for 32.2pts (+644%) at Class 3.

...whilst more generally, here at Fakenham, Lucy is 28/104 (26.9% SR) for 46pts (+44.3% ROI) since the start of 2012 and this fantastic record includes the following baker's dozen of profitable angles all at play today...

  • at odds of 11/10 to 10/1 : 27/86 (31.4%) for 62.3pts (+72.5%)
  • hurdlers : 15/65 (23.1%) for 12pts (+18.4%)
  • handicappers : 16/64 (25%) for 22.7pts (+35.5%)
  • finished 2nd-6th LTO : 18/60 (30%) for 35pts (+58.4%)
  • 3 to 10 weeks since last run : 19/54 (35.2%) for 40.2pts (+74.5%)
  • 2m-2m1f : 13/39 (33.3%) for 33.8pts (+86.7%)
  • Class 3 : 11/32 (34.4%) for 38pts (+118.6%)
  • Good to Soft : 9/26 (34.6%) for 26.5pts (+102%)
  • Feb/March : 7/24 (29.2%) for 13pts (+54.3%)
  • in 2018 : 7/20 (35%) for 15.54pts (+77.7%)
  • 8/9 yr olds : 9/19 (47.4%) for 27.5pts (+144.7%)
  • placed 3rd LTO : 6/16 (37.5%) for 18.45pts (+115.3%)
  • and horses with 1 previous C&D win are 4/10 (40%) for 3.35pts (+33.5%)

...which all points towards... a 1pt win bet on Potters Midnight 11/2 BOG which was available from Betfair & Paddy Power at 6.00pm on Thursday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.55 Fakenham

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day Four Preview, Tips

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day Four Preview, Tips

And so to day 4, Friday, Gold Cup Day, the last of the quartet. If you're in front, well done; if you're behind, there's still time. Either way, the last day is traditionally the trickiest so keep that in mind as you peruse the prose below.

1.30 Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m1f)

The four-year-old hurdle championship is often a confused competitive affair. But this time it might just be a tad lop-sided. That is certainly how the market perceives things, with Sir Erec heading the betting at even money. Plenty of horses arrive at this race off the flat and/or after earlier starts to their hurdling careers in France. This fellow has an extremely high class flat profile, evidenced most obviously by a third place finish behind Stradivarius in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup on British Champions' Day last autumn. He was sent off just 5/1 that day suggesting there was no fluke to that run. He jumps proficiently, stays well and has oodles of class.

If there is a reason to take him on, and I'm not convinced there is, it might be in a faintly interrupted prep where he was the victim of a stone bruise. But the vibes - #thevibes - seem to be that he is completely over that and he's unlikely to have missed any work as a consequence. I think he will win and win well. But I cannot bet him at even money.

So where to from here? Betting without the favourite is our friend: it offers fair odds without having to do half the stake on an unlikely win prospect. Away from Sir Erec, it's a fascinating betting race. Fascinating, but not easily deciphered.

Tiger Tap Tap was very close to Sir Erec on their respective Irish hurdling debuts, but further back when they re-engaged last time. He may step forward for a more truly run race and represents the Mullins/Walsh axis.

Best of the Brits is probably the, erm, French horse, Quel Destin, who has experience aplenty and comes here unbeaten in five small field races. Although it's hard to crab a horse that just keeps winning, it feels to me as though the Irish juveniles are a cut above their British counterparts; if that's correct then the likes of Tiger and Gardens Of Babylon are worth a second glance in the without market. Gardens Of Babylon won a big field maiden hurdle before getting chinned on the line next time; he then got closest to Sir Erec at Leopardstown on his most recent outing.

The je ne sais quoi factor is brought to the race by Pic d'Orhy, a high class French import yet to race here. He was second in an Auteuil Grade 1 last November before being snapped up by owner Johnny de la Hey. Whilst it is often difficult to project how such horses will fare on their UK debuts, and this is hardly a quiet jog round in which to get started, new trainer Paul Nicholls has 'previous' for getting this job done: he has effected it at least twice, with Diego du Charmil and Aux Ptits Soins, in the Fred Winter and Coral Cup respectively.

Adjali looked to have limitations exposed first by Quel Destin and then by Fakir d'Oudairies, the latter a form line suggesting Irish primacy in these ranks. Pentland Hills won his only hurdle start but is rated more than two stone inferior to Sir Erec on the level.

Willie Mullins also runs French Made, and she could be better than a 40/1 shot. She won her only start for Mullins in a big field maiden hurdle where the second and third have both won since.

Triumph Hurdle Pace Map

 

Triumph Hurdle Selection

I think, and indeed hope, Sir Erec wins, because he's as classy a recruit to the juvenile hurdling division as we've seen in a long time. He's capable of winning this, the Ascot Gold Cup in June and maybe even a Champion Hurdle one day.

But evens is not generally my thing. The without market is a place to play, and in that context both Tiger Tap Tap and Pic d'Orhy appeal more than Quel Destin. French Made may go better than a 40/1 shot, too.

Suggestion: Back either Tiger Tap Tap (Victor 11/2 1/5 123) and/or Pic d'Orhy (Victor 11/2 1/5 123) each way without the favourite. And perhaps have a tiny each way in the same market on French Made (Victor 18/1 1/5 123).

*

2.10 County Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap, 2m1f)

Too difficult for me, so token thoughts only. But then I did manage to back 40/1 William Henry on Wednesday and I've tipped a 50/1 winner in this before (Silver Jaro - oh, the scenes..!). Small stakes obviously. Runners aged seven-plus have won six of the last 21 so it's hardly the death knell but the percentage play is to side with younger, less exposed types. Five year olds have an incredible record, and those a year older have also gone well.

My shortlist, which comprises those youths with Graded form, is We Have A Dream, Mr Adjudicator, and Due Reward.

Mr Adjudicator is the shortest of the three, at around 16/1. He has finished 11222 in hurdle races, including a victory in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle last season, beating subsequent Triumph winner, Farclas. Last time out he was beaten eleven lengths by Espoir d'Allen, a performance which would have got him closer to the subsequent Champion Hurdle winner than the runner-up in that race, Melon, if taken literally. Whilst one should not take that literally it was nevertheless a very good effort.

We Have A Dream is also a Grade 1 winner, in last year's Finale Hurdle at Chepstow, and also makes his handicap debut. He stays further and has obvious class, but whether he's quite battle hardened enough for a scrap like this, I don't know.

The trio is rounded out by Due Reward, an experienced handicapper who was found out in a small field G1 two starts back. Given a rehearsal ride at Leopardstown last time, this is gala night and Henry de Bromhead will have him ready to roll.

Whiskey Sour is the favourite and for good reason. He ran a tidy race when third in this last year on his first handicap spin, and has plenty of Grade 1 form, including a win in novice company last term. He's commensurately short in the betting but his case is easy to make.

County Hurdle Pace Map

County Hurdle Selection

Obviously impossible, so the guesses are as presented above. Whiskey Sour will surprise nobody if winning, but bigger prices are available about equally talented - if less handicap proven - alternatives in We Have A Dream and Mr Adjudicator. Due Reward is also interesting.

Suggestion: Small interest each way on any or all of We Have A Dream (25/1 general), Mr Adjudicator (16/1 general) and Due Reward (25/1 general)

*

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

The potato race. A war for relatively inexperienced horses where the ability to stay stay and stay is aforethought. The last five winners were all sent off at double figure prices, two of them at 33/1, so this is not a race in which to be all in on the jolly.

The thing here is that this big field slog is a far greater test than the five- and six-runner bimbles horses encounter earlier in the season, and it demands a tougher - often less classy - animal to see it out. Experience is a crucial factor with twelve of the 14 winners having had four or more (and as many as ten!) races in the previous year.

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If we use that experience criterion we immediately remove three of the top five in the market and, while there's a fair chance we've lobbed the winner, I'm happier taking a flyer at a price in a race which has rewarded such ambition in recent years.

And I'm also focusing on those to have already won over at least three miles, as nine of the 14 winners had. That truncates the field from twenty to seven. Nice. Potentially.

The shortest of my remaining squad is the uneasy favourite, Lisnagar Oscar. Trained by Rebecca Curtis, whose At Fishers Cross won this in 2013, this son of - you know it, Oscar - was second over course and distance in December and has since won a big field novice hurdle at Chepstow and a three mile Grade 2 at Haydock. He deserves his position in the market and would certainly be shorter if trained by a more fashionable handler.

Derrinross is next on my list but his wins have come in a brace of six-runner fields and he's exactly the sort I want to be against. Doesn't mean he can't win - his soft ground score in a Grade 2 last time is obviously decent form - but this will be run at a very different clip, making 10/1 unattractive.

Gordon Elliott's Dinons ticks the experience box in spades - he's had ten runs, and five wins, in the last year - but he got whacked on his first step into Graded company last time and would prefer a sounder surface. That said, he did bolt up in a Class 2 novice hurdle over course and distance (on the other track) in October. Small field of six. He's not been seen for 110 days.

Nadaitak hacked up as outsider of four last time out in the Grade 2 River Don at Doncaster. That was on good ground as is most of his form, and it was in a small field - not what he'll encounter here. Ben Pauling is having a brilliant Festival (Le Breuil winning, Bright Forecast third in the Ballymore) so no worries on the stable form score, but I don't think he's quite shown enough mettle for this challenge.

And then we get to the interesting ones, from a price perspective at least. Noel Meade saddles Cap York, who got outpaced before staying on in Derrinross's Grade 2 two starts back. Last time out he raced in open handicap company in a bigger field over three miles, and won comfortably. That kind of race setup is far more akin to an average Albert Bartlett than the small field G2's which seem to abound, and I think this seven-year-old could go well. He does have slightly less experience than is ideal in terms of number of recent runs.

Colin Tizzard won this last year with Kilbricken Storm, and he has a similar profile type this term in Rockpoint. The six-year-old son of Shirocco has had a dozen hurdle starts, improving significantly in recent runs for the step up to three miles. He won the three mile Grade 2 over course and distance in which favourite Lisnagar Oscar was second, and yet he's 33/1 in places. True, he's since finished behind the same horse at Haydock, but that was on good ground and a flat track in a race run at a dawdle - this sort of attrition is much more his condition.

Plenty at the head of the market with proven class but unknown levels of fortitude, that latter attribute the primary requirement for the gig.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Pace Map

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle Selection

In a race where outsiders go well, I'm taking two against the field. Cap York could be the pick of the Irish, in terms of stamina and resolution at least; and Rockpoint, a Grade 2 winner over course and distance, looks a forgotten horse for last year's winning trainer. They'll do for me.

Suggestion: Back Rockpoint (33/1 Victor 1/5 1234) and/or Cap York (25/1 Victor 1/5 1234) each way

*

3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1, 3m 2 1/2f)

The Blue Riband. I previewed the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2019 here, and nothing in my perspective has changed since.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Pace Map

 

Cheltenham Gold Cup Selection

I nominated Native River at 6/1 on 5th March in the above preview. He's now a top priced 9/2 which is still reasonable in my book, if not spectacular. Bellshill was my other suggestion: he was 14/1 and is still available to back at 12/1 in spite of Ruby Walsh riding. I'd imagine he'll shorten and is probably the bet if you're not on something already.

Suggestion: Think about Native River at 9/2 (888sport) and also Bellshill at 12/1 (Victor 1/5 1234)

*

4.10 The Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase (Class 2, 3m 2 1/2f)

We're into 'after the Lord Mayor's Show' territory now. If you're not in front, it will be pretty difficult to claw a result from here on out.

My handle on the point/hunter chase form is limited, but I was extremely taken by the performance of Hazel Hill when he routed a strong field at Warwick in late January. A prolific point winner, he is now three from three in hunter chases, nothing getting within ten lengths of him in that discipline. One firm went 25/1 about his chance here in the immediate aftermath; sadly, they only stood me £8.80, but still that was better than nothing and, in truth, will probably save me a quid or two when he runs a gallant second!

Two Irish horses head the market, Stand Up And Fight and Ucello Conti. They have very different profiles, the former being a lightly raced seven-year-old who placed in staying Graded novice hurdles two seasons ago; the latter a seasoned ex-handicap chaser who was second in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown during their 2017 Christmas Festival. Ucello was running a bold race in last year's Grand National until unseating his rider four out and I'd be inclined to take that form over the class and youth of Enda Bolger's favourite. Young horses have won this race in the recent past - think Salsify and Cappa Bleu and Kingscliff - so don't let me put you off if you like the jolly.

Road To Rome is a winning machine. He's on a current streak of seven - three points and four hunter chases - but it has all been on flat tracks. He's an admirable horse, no doubt, though this looks a bridge too far.

And what of Pacha Du Polder? He's 20/1 having won this for the last two years. And if you think that price says he has no chance, keep in mind that those two wins in the race were returned at 16/1 and 25/1. His full record in the race is 511. No twelve-year-old-plus has won this since Earthmover in 2004, trained by... Pacha Du Polder's trainer, Paul Nicholls. Nicholls has won the Foxhunters a record-equalling four times and relies on Pacha in his bid for sole primacy.

Foxhunter Chase Pace Map

[Note that this pace map only features races run under Rules, i.e. no point to point pace figures are included]

 

Foxhunter Chase Selection

A fascinating race but, unless you're a bit of a judge of such things - I'm not - it's one to watch more than wager. Small interests on any of the top three in the market - Stand Up And Fight, Ucello Conti, Hazel Hill - should give you a run for your money. And if you want to cheer a big-priced story horse, Pacha du Polder is the one.

Suggestion: Back any of the top three and try a tiny each way on Pacha Du Polder (20/1 general)

*

4.50 Grand Annual Chase (Grade 3 Handicap, 2m 1/2f)

The last two races are not really my thing. I'll be nicely inebriated by this point, in the Brown Bear on Leman Street as Gold Cup day tradition dictates. This was a very difficult watch last year with a number of equine fatalities as the riders went hell for leather from the outset. Moving it from the last to the penultimate race is unlikely to positively affect the early speed which will almost certainly be set by the rapid Gino Trail.

Kerry Lee's lightning bolt clung on valiantly for second in last year's Grand Annual and has the same mark this time around. It's a very big ask to go wire to wire in this, mind.

The horse to beat him in 2018 was Le Prezien, who again locks horns. He is a mere pound higher now and ought to again get on the premises granted safe passage. But Le Prezien's trainer, Paul Nicholls, has been making bullish noises about another of his runners, Magic Saint, throughout the preview circuit. This lad is only five, was formerly trained in France by Guillaume Macaire, and has progressive form here. He'll not have seen anything like this kind of set up previously, however, and is awfully short. Palarshan won as a five-year-old in 2003, and six of the dozen that age hit the frame.

Bun Doran could be suited to conditions though he's up a chunk in the weights for an easy win two back. Trainer Tom George has been quiet in the past fortnight, too.

This race is named in honour of Nicky Henderson's dad, so we can be sure that Whatswrongwithyou will be an emotional winner. He comes here on a hat-trick having beaten two rivals twice; this will be a somewhat different experience.

Gary Moore's progressive novice, Not Another Muddle, was impressive at Sandown last time and is likely not done improving yet. He has a nice light weight and appeals as the type to finish through a lot of tired horses. That sort of run style demands a ton of luck in the run, however, something which may not be fully factored in to a price of 8/1.

The Irish have out-performed their numerical representation in recent years, scoring three times and hitting the board with another five, from 28 runners. Only Mind's Eye lines up for the away team, Henry de Bromhead's seven-year-old bidding to replicate the feat of A Plus Tard in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase on the opening day. The son of Stowaway has been running in Grade 1 novice chases so is clearly considered capable of a classy performance.

Grand Annual Pace Map

 

Grand Annual Selection

Magic Saint has been well touted by his trainer who saddled last year's winner, Le Prezien. I prefer the latter at the prices, and I also quite like Not Another Muddle if he can get an untroubled trip - a big ask of any horse in this field. But perhaps the pick of the prices is the sole Irish entry, Mind's Eye, a novice who has been jogging round in small field Grade 1's and who might just find this more rapid tempo right up his street.

Suggestion: Try Mind's Eye each way at 14/1 (Victor 1/5 12345)

*

5.30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m 4 1/2f)

A very difficult looking finale for the 'lucky last'. That said, recent renewals have been notable for the class their winners have subsequently shown over fences. Don Poli, Killultagh Vic, Ibis Du Rheu, Champage Classic and Blow By Blow all showed themselves to be Graded performers, most of them at Grade 1 level.

Thus I'm only interested in an unexposed potentially very high class horse. To that end, Dallas Des Pictons - who is priced at just 7/2 - looks just the man for the job. Winner of a Class B handicap hurdle last time, he was second off level weights to Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner, City Island, prior to back-to-back big field wins. He may be a short price but he already has Grade 1 form on that City Island line.

Defi Bleu, Getareason, and Early Doors all fit the ascendant Graded class runner mould, though less snugly than Dallas. That is reflected in their prices, all of which are 8/1+.

But my Festival will be over by this point, and I'll simply be looking to identify the right cap colour on the favourite (it's the purple one).

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Pace Map

 

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle Selection

Not a race in which to go mad. Keep your powder dry for the Midlands Nash on Saturday! I'll be having a bet on the obvious horse, Dallas Des Pictons, who looks the best animal in the race and can be supported at 7/2 to back up that contention. Unexciting, but we're in 'a winner is a winner' pub chat territory now...!

Suggestion: Back Dallas Des Pictons (7/2 general) and cheer it home with everybody else.

2019 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY THREE (Thurs 14th March 2019)

Each day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts here at GeeGeez.co.uk will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival for you!

 

DAY THREE: Thursday 14th March 2019

13:30 JLT Novices' Chase   2m 4f

2018 Winner: SHATTERLED LOVE (4/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Jack Kennedy

Pluses….

  • 7 of the 8 winners were Irish-trained
  • Willie Mullins has trained 4 of the last 8 winners
  • 6 of the last 8 winners had won a Graded Chase before
  • All 8 past winners had run at the Festival before
  • 7 of the 8 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 6 of the last 8 winners came from the top 2 in the betting
  • 7 of the last 8 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 7 of the last 8 winners returned 7/1 or shorter
  • 5 of the last 8 winners won last time out
  • 5 of the last 8 winners ran at Leopardstown last time out
  • 6 of the last 8 winners ran between 47-54 days ago
  • 7 year-olds have won 6 of last 8 renewals

Negatives….

  • Be careful of horses rated 146 or less
  • Just one British-trained runner so far
  • The top-rated horse is just 1 from 8
  • Since 1990 all Festival Novice Chase winners have been aged 8 or younger
  • 3 winning favourites in 8 runnings (1 co)
  • Just 1 of the last 8 winners had less than 3 career chase starts
  • Just 1 winner had been off for more than 54 days

14:10 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle   3m

2018 Winner: DELTA WORK (6/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Davy Russell

Pluses….

  • 7 of the last 13 winners were aged 8 or older
  • 8 of the last 9 winners started their careers in bumpers (6) or points (2)
  • 10 of the last 18 winners were from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • The last 8 winners were rated 138 or higher
  • 9 of the last 12 winners were rated between 132-142 (inc)
  • 9 of the last 14 winners had won over at least 2m7f
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had run 10 or less times over hurdles before
  • 8 of the last 18 winners won their last race
  • 3 of the last 10 winners finished in the first 5 in the Betfair Hurdle
  • Look for Jonjo O’Neill, Twiston-Davies, Mullins and Pipe-trained runners
  • Respect JP McManus-owned horses

Negatives….

  • Just 4 Irish-trained winners in the last 13 runnings
  • Avoid horses with less than 6 runs over hurdles
  • 5 year-olds have won just twice since 1973
  • French-bred horses are currently on a run of 1-80
  • All horses rated 150+ since 2000 have failed to finish in the top 2
  • 1 winning favourite in last 13 years
  • Paul Nicholls is currently 0 from 18 (One third and two 2nds in the last 5 runnings)
  • Horses aged 7 or younger and priced in single-figures are just 2 from 37

14:50 Ryanair Chase   2m 5f

2018 Winner: BALKO DES FLOS (8/1)
Trainer – Henry de Bromhead
Jockey – Davy Russell

Pluses….

  • 19 of the 27 winners and runners-up had won at the course before
  • 5 of the last 6 winners were 2nd season chasers
  • 9 of the last 11 had won at Cheltenham previously
  • 9 of the last 11 winners had won a Grade 1 Chase before
  • The King George VI Chase is often a good guide (7 from 25)
  • The previous year’s renewal is often a good guide
  • 10 of the last 13 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
  • 6 of the last 7 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
  • 10 of the last 11 winners were rated 161+
  • 4 of the last 14 winners were placed in the top 3 in the Ascot Chase last time out
  • 10 of last 14 winners were fav or 2nd fav
  • Trainers Jonjo O’Neill, David Pipe & Nicky Henderson are respected
  • Respect first time head-gear (2 from 7)
  • 8 of the last 11 winners DIDN’T win last time out
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Negatives….

  • The Irish are 3 from 43 runners in this race
  • Avoid horses priced 7/1 or bigger
  • Avoid horses aged 11 or older
  • Just one winner rated 160 or below
  • Just 3 of the last 11 won last time out
  • All winners ran 4 or less times that season
  • No winner was having their Festival debut

 

15:30 Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle 3m

2018 Winner: PENHILL (12/1)
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

 

Pluses….

  • 10 of the last 14 won last time out
  • 16 of the last 18 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 8 of the last 17 were French Bred
  • Respect the Cleeve Hurdle and Long Walk Hurdle form
  • 14 of the last 17 winners finished 1st or 2nd in all their hurdling runs that season
  • 12 of the last 14 winners started 10/1 or less in the betting
  • Respect past winners of the race

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that didn’t finish either 1st or 2nd last time out (2 from 19)
  • A 5 year-old is yet to win the race
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has only won the race twice
  • Avoid front runners
  • The Irish are have won the race just three times since 1995
  • Avoid horses that were beaten in the race before
  • Previous Albert Bartlett winners have an overall poor record (1 from 16)
  • Horses wearing headgear are 0 from 63
  • Horses aged 10 or older have all been beaten since 1986 (0 from 52)

16:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate   2m 5f

2018 Winner: THE STORYTELLER (5/1 fav)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Davy Russell

Pluses….

  • 26 of the last 31 winners were officially rated 141 or less
  • 9 of the last 10 winners carried under 11-0
  • Look out for French-breds
  • Venetia Williams & Pipe-trained runners should be noted
  • The Pipe yard have won 7 of the last 21 runnings
  • 16 of the last 18 winners returned at double-figure odds
  • 20 of the last 27 winners had run at the Festival before (but 6 of last 8 were having Festival debut)
  • 18 of the last 19 winners had run in no more than 16 chases
  • 17 of the last 19 winners came from outside the top 4 in the market

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that are yet to win at Class 3 or better
  • The Irish have only sent out 4 winners since 1951
  • 2 winning favourites in the last 13 years
  • 3 of last 24 won with 11st+
  • Winners of a chase at Cheltenham before have poor records

16:50 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices Hurdle 2m1f

2018 Winner: LAURINA (4/7 fav)
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

A new race (Just three renewals)
Favourites have all three runnings
All three past winners won last time out
All three winners have been aged 5 years-old
Willie Mullins won the race in 2016, 2017 & 2018
Ruby Walsh has ridden the winner in 2016, 2017
Owner Rich Ricci has won 2 of the last 3 runnings

17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase   3m 1½f

2018 Winner: MISSED APPROACH (8/1)
Trainer – Warren Greatrex
Jockey – Mr N McParlan

Pluses….

  • Respect 8 and 9 year-olds
  • 3 of the last 8 winners ran in the BetVictor Handicap Chase (Open Meeting)
  • The last 7 winners ran off a mark of 137 or more
  • 7 of the last 9 winners carried 11st 5lbs+
  • Look for McCain, Pipe and Henderson-trained runners
  • Look for horses in the top half of the handicap
  • 17 of the last 19 winners ran over at least three miles in their last race
  • Look for non-claiming amateur riders
  • 7 of the last 8 winners wore headgear
  • 8 of the last 10 winners came from the top 6 in the market
  • Jamie Codd has ridden 4 of the last 10 winners
  • Nina Carberry placed 6 times, Derek O’Connor 2nd 3 times

Negatives….

  • Just two Irish winners for 35 years (but have won 2 of the last 5)
  • Horses that fell or unseated that season have a poor record
  • Avoid Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s just 1 placed horse from his last 20
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has a poor record in the race
  • Horses carrying less than 10-10 have a poor record
  • French breds are 0 from 56 since 2005
  • Avoid claiming jockeys – 1 from 85 since 2009

 

 

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Stat of the Day, 14th March 2019

Wednesday's pick was...

4.40 Kempton : Hanakotoba @ 3/1 BOG non-runner 

Thursday's pick runs in the...

8.00 Southwell :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Tynecastle Park 7/2 BOG

...in a 9-runner, Class 6, A/W Handicap for 4yo+ over 2m½f on Fibresand worth £3105 to the winner...

Why?

This 6 yr old gelding should have no issues with getting this trip today, as not only has he completed nine hurdle races at distances of 2m to 3m2f, he also has a form line reading 2212 over this very course and distance.

He's by Sea The Stars, whose offspring are 80/335 (23.9% SR) for 186.5pts (+55.7% ROI) on the all-weather since the start of 2016, including 6 from 22 (27.3%) for 5.11pts (+23.2%) here at Southwell.

Jockey Darragh Keenan takes the ride today, aiming to build upon his already decent 6/25 (24% SR) record on this track that has generated profits of 56.1pts at a very attractive ROI of some 224.2% and those rides include...

  • 3/12 (25%) for 20.62pts (+171.8%) riding for Robert Eddery
  • 3/4 (75%) for 28.62pts (+715.5%) at trips of 1m6f and beyond
  • 3/4 (75%) for 28.62pts (+715.5%) for Robert at 1m6f and beyond

Those three winners above actually represent all of Robert's winners at this track, that said Darragh has ridden all bar 3 of Robert's 13 runners here over the last 200 days finishing 1122910022 for a record reading 3/10 (30% SR) for 22.62pts (+226.2% ROI) including a win and a runner-up finish on today's runner Tynecastle Park...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Tynecastle Park 7/2 BOG which was widely available at 6.25pm on Wednesday evening, although Bet365 were offering 4/1 BOG. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 8.00 Southwell

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day 3 Preview, Tips

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day 3 Preview, Tips

And so to the second half, historically the trickier segment of the meeting. After two fiendishly trappy days on Tuesday and Wednesday, that does not bode well! Typically the weakest of the four days, though that of course is relative, Thursday brings us the Stayers' Hurdle, Ryanair and JLT Chases, as well as a trio of impossible handicaps and a mares' novice hurdle (all lower case) that has no place at the Festival in my opinion.

Finding winners should be faintly possible in the Grade 1's, and that is where the bulk of the words that follow will be focused.

1.30 JLT Chase (Grade 1, 2m 4f)

A curious little contest which revolves in large part around the form of the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase, a Grade 1 over this sort of trip run at Sandown in early February. That day, Defi Du Seuil beat Lostintranslation and Vinndication, the trio now comprising 60% of the top five in the betting and 100% of the top two.

Defi was a very good winner of the Triumph Hurdle, or so it seemed at the time, but he subsequently got stuck in the mire of Philip Hobbs' stable virus last season. This campaign has been better, highlighted by that Scilly Isles win and also featuring a defeat of Topofthegame (though that one had excuses). Moreover, the record of the winner of the Sandown race in this contest is 35F222, beaten the last thrice by an Irish runner.

Lostintranslation is closely pegged to Defi Du Seuil on his last two runs. He's a consistent horse with second placed efforts in two Grade 1's, but is a bit of a bridesmaid. Contrast him with Vinndication, who was expected to miss the Festival due to injury but has apparently been working the house down in recent days. Kim Bailey's Vinnie Roe gelding had won all six career starts prior to his close third in the Scilly Isles and he is entitled to improve a little more still.

The front three at Sandown were close together and I'm prepared to take a chance that the Irish will prevail again: they've already shown their two mile brigade is best, with a 1-2-3 in an eventful Arkle. They have a four-pronged attack with which to fork the home team, the highest rated of which is Real Steel. He's won his last two, in ungraded company, and wasn't good enough as a hurdler to make the frame in four attempts at G1 company.

Stablemate at the Willie Mullins yard, Voix Du Reve, interests me: he was third to Le Richebourg and Us And Them in the Racing Post Novice Chase, form advertised in the absence of the winner by the second who filled the same spot in the Arkle on Tuesday. He was in the process of running a bigger race than that, Us And Them and Mengli Khan behind, when tipping up at the last in the Irish Arkle: that form looks decent in this context. His jumping is a bit of a worry but he also has a Grade 2 verdict over beaten Arkle favourite, Hardline, to his name so is clearly near the head of the Irish chasing ranks. He's an appealing price.

Mengli Khan has been good enough to win a Grade 1 novice hurdle and to place in last year's Supreme on heavy ground; but he's not shown enough in three chase starts to suggest he can be the best of the Irish. As a son of Lope De Vega, he also has to demonstrate the requisite stamina having never raced beyond seventeen furlongs in twelve National Hunt starts. Pravalaguna, a third string to Willie's bow, rounds out Team Ireland (not that they're a team at all, obviously). She comes here on a hat-trick, her two chase wins achieved in Listed grade or lower, and looks to have a bit to find.

I'm struggling to see the appeal of classy handicapper Kildisart. He was getting weight from the second and (errant-running) third in a novices' handicap chase on Trials Day and that looks below what is required.

JLT Chase Pace Map

JLT Chase Selection

This boils down to whether you like the British or Irish form, and I like the Irish based on Tuesday's Arkle. On that basis, I'm siding with Voix Du Reve to add to Willie Mullins' tally (he's won four of the eight renewals to date). He has experience, he has classy chase form and, though he fell last time, he looks a very big price at 14/1 (or 20/1 if you can get on with Boyle).

Suggestion: Back Voix Du Reve each way at 14/1

*

2.10 Pertemps Final (Grade 3 handicap, 3m)

Another impossible handicap which will probably be won by an Irish novice that has run in a Grade 1 or 2 earlier in the season. Using that lazy man's route in - well, I could do the work and find a loser, too? - brings me to a shortlist of ... none.

Do some work I must, as yoda might say. A slightly different tack is to look for the 'not off' horse from the Leopardstown qualifier. That angle screams the chance of the Gordon Elliott-trained Sire Du Berlais, who jogged around before picking off enough of the beaten horses to bag sixth place and thus qualification for this final.

The lightly raced seven-year-old was fourth in the Martin Pipe last season off a mark of 144 and races here off just a pound higher. 6/1 is a horrible price in a race like this but his case is easily made.

Ian Williams' First Assignment has been consistent and progressive this season, including when winning a three mile handicap hurdle at the track in November. He's since given Paisley Park a race and will not be fazed by soft ground. Arguably more exposed than some, his conditioner is a wonderful target trainer. Again, though, he's well found in the betting.

At a massive price is Coole Cody. Michael Blake is unfashionable, but his runner has a Cheltenham handicap win on soft ground in a big field to his name. Just three pounds higher here, and coming in off the back of a fine second in a big field soft ground Grade 3 handicap hurdle, 50/1 is bigbigbig for smallsmallsmall money. He may try to make all, a trick which has proved surprisingly effective in such races: I can immediately recall Buena Vista doing that here, and Fountains Windfall doing it at Aintree.

If you like something else, fair play. I'll be going 20 deep in the placepot.

Pertemps Final Pace Map

Pertemps Final Selection

The favourite, Sire du Berlais, has his chance on the form of his fourth place in a handicap at last year's Festival; and I'd love to see Ian Williams win with First Assignment. I'll have a tiny tickle on that one and also on Coole Cody, who is over-priced even if he is probably also over-faced.

Suggestion: Back First Assignment (10/1 general) and Coole Cody (50/1 general) each way for very small money.

*

2.50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1, 2m 4 1/2f)

Lots of old friends line up for what should be an enthralling renewal of the Ryanair Chase where they bet 4/1 the field. Clinging on to favouritism is last year's Arkle winner, Footpad. He was the beneficiary of some bonkers riding up top that day and shouldn't have been beaten by the capable old stick Simply Ned last time. Even given the form Willie is enjoying, I can't have him on my mind against a deep field although he's likely to be suited by softish turf.

Monalee is one of a group challenging for market primacy, and looks a more reliable place play at least. He beat stout stayer Anibale Fly last time and has form with the likes of Kemboy, Presenting Percy and Al Boum Photo that would put him close to the Gold Cup picture. I like him but I think he might just lack a gear.

Un De Sceaux is eleven now, and that's a big 'x' in my book. 11 year olds just don't win Festival races (Moscow Flyer in 2005 is the only horse older than ten to win a Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival, from 75 to try, since at least 1997), and this is very far from a penalty kick. The going, trip and track are all in his favour, but age is significantly against him. He'd be a tremendous winner but I can't see it in spite of some high class form as a ten-year-old last year.

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The gallant and superb Frodon also lines up. He produced one of the weight-carrying performances of recent times when lugging 11-12 off a mark of 164 in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and even managed to win over a trip-too-far extended three miles last time. His Cheltenham record reads 3801150211. That said, he was well beaten in last year's Ryanair and also on his only other Festival appearance, in the 2016 Triumph Hurdle.

The one I like - actually, the one I love - is ROAD TO RESPECT. He travelled off a fast pace like the winner in the Gold Cup last year before failing to stay so this shorter trip looks spot on. Soft ground will suit him better than the quicker surfaces he's been racing on which, allied to a Grade 1 win at the trip, and a pace setup that looks tailor-made, and a price of 5/1, makes him just about nap material.

It's 20/1 bar this group, a price which brings in last year's winner, Balko Des Flos, and the Brown Advisory winner, The Storyteller. The latter gets his ground which might make him more competitive than he's been most of the season, but he's probably a touch shy of what's needed to lift this pot; the former has been AWOL all campaign but may again be at least partially revived by wetter turf. Neither are for me, mind.

Ryanair Chase Pace Map

Ryanair Chase Selection

I got a bit carried away when wagering this race and have convinced myself that Road To Respect is one of the bets of the meeting. It's a race which will define my Cheltenham, so here's hoping Noel Meade's eight-year-old brings his A game. If he does, he'll take all the beating in what is a competitive race for the places.

Suggestion: Back Road To Respect at 5/1 (bet365, Boyle)

*

3.30 Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1, 3m)

I previewed this race here.

To that I'll add the pace map, which shows Faugheen may get some contention from Sam Spinner but perhaps not much else and might just be able to dictate the fractions:

*

4.10 Festival Plate (Grade 3 handicap, 2m 4 1/2f)

The Plate. Any chance of gravy? Not really, no...

Although not saddling a winner in the last four years, Venetia Williams, David (and before him, Martin) Pipe, and Nicky Henderson have excellent records in this race. Between them they run five this time: Eamon An Cnoic (Pipe), Gardefort, Didero Vallis (both Venetia), Janika and River Wylde (both Henderson).

Eamon An Cnoic - Eamon hereafter - was ninth in last year's Ultima. That's typically a better race than this and it is run over a longer trip, one which he appeared to fail to see out. Back in distance, with a win last time out over two miles and a prior course spin this season he'll be on plenty of tickets.

The six-year-old Didero Vallis has snuck in at the very bottom of the weights and comes here looking for a third win of the campaign, having prevailed twice at this range on soft before coming unstuck over further and on quicker last time. Perfect preparation in many respects. This ex-Willie Mullins-trained chap has plenty of upside, no weight and comes from the right trainer.

La Williams also runs Gardefort, whose mark has been moving in the opposite direction thanks to a Scrabble rack of form figures this term. 0PU is hardly the sort of sequence to get the pulse racing, and it's not the sort with which Venetia has got it done previously either, but a rummage a little deeper into Gardefort's profile reveals that he was second in the 2017 Grand Annual (two miles) at the Festival. Very lightly raced since, he was 142 then and is 137 now. Back class is the angle if you want to make a case for him.

Then there's Nicky's pair. Janika is just about favourite, the six-year-old running second on both UK starts since notching a hat-trick at Pau and Auteuil. He looks a pretty classy sort though he'll need to be to lug top weight and at least six pounds more than the rest. Obviously he wouldn't be a surprise winner but 6/1 is tight enough.

Second in the weights is the other Hendo horse, River Wylde. He's been plying his trade in Grade 1 and 2 hurdle and chase company and makes his handicap debut here. Third in Labaik's Supreme (2017), he was leading when coming down at the last in a graduation chase over a little further than this at Haydock last time. Good to soft would be fine for him though I don't think he'd want it too wet; with the ground drying out currently he could be interesting at twice the price of his stablemate.

The Irish have won the last three renewals, from very few entries, after an extremely long drought previously. They bring just two ten-year-olds to the table this time: Valseur Lido and Polidam. The former gets a drop in Festival grade having run third in the 2015 JLT and second in the 2016 Ryanair, both at around this trip. A mark of 145 is 16lb lower than his career top, though it's more than two years since he won. He represents the A Plus Tard connections of de Bromhead and Blackmore.

Polidam is a Willie Mullins runner that has been rattling around his current mark for a couple of years. He doesn't obviously have anything in hand of the 'capper though he's been fairly consistently in defeat.

Festival Plate Pace Map

Festival Plate Selection

It's another deep handicap where I've probably failed to mention the winner. Janika will go close if able to carry his big weight, but at the prices I'm more drawn to the chances of Eamon An Cnoic and River Wylde, as well as perhaps Didero Vallis. All represent savvy connections.

Suggestion: Take your each way pick of Eamon An Cnoic (20/1 Hills), River Wylde (14/1 Hills), and/or Didero Vallis (25/1 general).

*

4.50 Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m 1f)

A more competitive renewal this year, but not a race I believe should feature at the Festival. Personal prejudices aside, it is a decent wagering heat.

For the first time since its inception Willie Mullins doesn't have the favourite this year. That honour goes to Epatante, a French import trained by Nicky Henderson. She's bolted up on her two UK starts and won an AQPS Grade 1 bumper in France, though quite what that means in the context of this race is anybody's guess. It was a super-impressive victory, however, and she's not been troubled by anything to this point. She might just be a superstar.

Others have done more on the track and deserve a mention, most notably Posh Trish. She's had five runs this term, winning four of them, but this is a fair step up in grade; she was found out a little in Grade 2 bumper company last spring but had had a long season by then. Similar comments could apply this term.

Mullins may not saddle the favourite, but he is represented by SEVEN mares, the most prominent in the betting being My Sister Sarah. Winner of three of her four starts in ordinary company, she has a stone to find on ratings. But these are highly progressive youngsters and one has to respect the trainer. Pick of his septet at the prices might be Sancta Simona, who chased home Aramon in a Grade 1 against the boys last time. She was 5/2 there and is 16/1 here - that looks too big about a Grade 3 winner that handles any ground.

Second to Posh Trish at Newbury, having beaten her over the same course the time before, is Lust For Glory. She looks above average but may have a little to find against some of these. For fans of chat, her owners, Grech and Parkin, were talking her up as their best horse at the start of the season. She's not done much wrong.

In the same yard as Lust For Glory and Epatante is Elusive Belle. She has a tendency to find one too good but has posted some decent time figures. And Stuart Edmunds' Queenofhearts was a good winner of a Grade 2 at Sandown last time. She has been racing over further but, if they go quickly (and they probably will), she might not be out of it; she handles any ground.

Mares' Novices' Hurdle Pace Map

Mares' Novices' Hurdle Selection

In spite of myself I am drawn to the favourite, Epatante, on potential more than track performance. It is the manner of her victories that takes the eye. Her French G1 score was achieved with panache, nonchalance and other words which have been adopted into the British idiom, and I suspect this lass is going to be one about whom we speak in revered terms in future. Her name translates as 'amazing', though in an old-fashioned context (there's a French journo sitting next to me!), so perhaps more like 'spiffing', and she is probably just that. I'll take a rare chance at the top of the market on her.

Suggestion: Back Epatante to show that she's the real deal at 2/1 general

*

5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Chase (Class 2 Handicap, 3m2f)

Amateur riders. Three and a quarter miles. Two dozen horses. Fences. Yikes.

The best jockeys tend to fare best, a cause and effect symbiosis where success breeds success. Jamie Codd has won this four times, and he rides Gordon Elliott's Measureofmydreams. Supported from 33/1 into about 5/1 now, the connections certainly wouldn't put you off; his three prior Festival jaunts have ended 830, the 3 recorded in the National Hunt Chase. A stout stayer who has had plenty of time off - just one run since spring 2017 - he is ten pounds below his peak rating and will get the ice cold Codd patient ride.

Only one of the last ten winners has been sent off bigger than 16/1 so it's not a race in which to get too gung ho. Others at the head of the market include the aptly named It's All Guesswork, Any Second Now, No Comment and Sky Pirate. Dealing with the Guesswork first, he's a second string to the Elliott bow who has been consistent all season but perhaps isn't as well handicapped as some as a consequence.

Any Second Now is quite interesting. He seemed to be outpaced in the Close Brothers last season and has been staying on in his three mile races this term. The extra range here and the booking of the excellent Derek O'Connor looks a beneficial combination.

No Comment has been very lightly raced though has run creditably at the last two Festivals, finishing seventh in the Martin Pipe in 2017 and sixth in the National Hunt Chase last year. Clearly seen as a stayer, this will be his first handicap chase spin.

Sky Pirate was travelling like the winner when coming down over a similarly extended three miles here at the November meeting. A warm up spin at Exeter last month will have put him spot on for this main challenge, and he's another that is interesting if not missed in the market.

At bigger prices, Se Mo Laoch would appeal if getting a run. The second reserve has been first or second in each of his last six races, and in the first three in each of his last nine. Incredibly, he's elevated from a mark of 82 (!) to 130 and seems to handle big fields and long distances with aplomb.

And there's just room for an honourable mention for Squouateur, perhaps the unluckiest horse in training, certainly in terms of his Festival performances. With a name made for Scrabble, his form figures of BPP0F also fit that bill. But he was (an unlucky in running) 3rd in this race last year off a 3lb lower mark, and was just getting into it when unseating three out in the Kim Muir of 2017. With a clear round, something that, granted, seems fairly unlikely, he might be a 'forgotten' horse. Faller insurance would be a smart concession to avail of if you otherwise like his chance.

Kim Muir Pace Map

 

Kim Muir Selection

As with all the handicaps, it's no more than a token pick in another deep deep heat. I'll plump for Any Second Now, for whom the trip might be ideal.

Suggestion: Back Any Second Now each way at 10/1 (1/5 12345 Hills, Victor, Unibet)

*

That's the shape of Day 3, Thursday. My fate for the day, and maybe the week, will be sealed by the Ryanair Chase; so please think of me regardless of the result of there!

Good luck

Matt

2019 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY FOUR (Fri 15th March 2019)

Each day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts here at GeeGeez.co.uk will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival for you!

 

DAY FOUR: Friday 15th March 2019

 

13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle   2m 1f

2018 Winner: FARCLAS (9/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Jack Kennedy

Pluses…..

  • 19 of the last 25 winners won last time out
  • Irish have won 4 of the last 6 runnings
  • French-breds have filled 9 of the last 12 places (last 4 runnings)
  • 11 of the last 14 came from the top 4 in the betting
  • Respect Henderson (6 winners), Nicholls, and King-trained runners
  • 7 of the last 15 first ran over hurdles by November (5 of the last 7 by mid-Nov)
  • 10 of the last 13 winners returned 13/2 or shorter
  • The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a good guide
  • 6 of the last 10 winners had run in France before
  • Nicky Henderson has trained 6 winners of the race

Negatives….

  • Take on horses that have won at 2m2f or further in the past
  • Avoid horses that last ran 56 days or longer ago
  • Avoid horses that had run 3 or more times over hurdles
  • Be careful of horses rated 138 or lower – no winner in the last 11


14:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle   2m 1f

2018 Winner: MOHAAYED (33/1)
Trainer – Dan Skelton
Jockey – Bridget Andrews

Pluses….

  • The Irish have won 8 of the last 12 runnings
  • 4 of the last 11 winners ran in that season’s Coral.ie Hurdle (Leopardsotwn)
  • The last 13 winners were rated in the 130’s
  • 7 of the last 11 winners returned 20/1 or bigger
  • 5 of the last 10 winners had run in 6 or less hurdles races
  • 10 of the last 13 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • 11 of the last 13 winners were priced in double-figures
  • 11 of the last 15 winners began their careers on the flat
  • Look for Mullins, Martins & Nicholls-trained runners
  • Respect the Imperial Cup (Sandown Park) winner
  • Ruby Walsh has ridden 4 winners in the last 15 years
  • 10 of the last 18 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 13 of the last 15 winners were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • 10 of the last 12 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • Paul Nicholls is 4 from 27 (+19pts)
  • Willie Mullins is 4 from 30 (+49pts)

Negatives….

  • Strangely, previous course winners have a bad record
  • Since 1960 only 4 winners carried more than 11st 2lb
  • Since 1961, only 8 winners had run at the Festival before
  • Since 2005 134 runners rated 140+ have lost
  • Avoid runners that hadn’t raced at least 4 times that season
  • Avoid horses making their handicap debuts

 

14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle   3m

2018 Winner: KILBRICKEN STORM (33/1)
Trainer – Colin Tizzard
Jockey – Harry Cobden

Your first 30 days for just £1

Pluses….

  • 9 of the last 14 winners had run at Cheltenham over hurdles before
  • 8 of the last 14 came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 9 of the last 14 winner ran 47 days (or more) ago
  • 12 of the last 14 had run in a race over 3m
  • 11 of the last 13 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 12 of the last 13 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 4 of the last 13 favourites won

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in the last 23 days haven’t fared well
  • Avoid horses that DIDN’T finish 1st or 2nd last time out
  • Be wary of horses that have raced less than 3 times over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins is 1 from 32 in the race
  • Only 3 of the last 14 winners hadn’t raced that calendar year

 

15:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase   3m 2½f

2018 Winner: NATIVE RIVER (5/1)
Trainer – Colin Tizzard
Jockey – Richard Johnson

Pluses….

  • 15 of the last 19 winners ran in the Lexus or King George that season
  • 16 of the last 18 finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 13 of the last 18 had won or placed 2nd at the Festival before
  • 16 of the last 18 winners hailed from the top 3 in the betting
  • 17 of the last 18 winners had raced no more than 12 times over fences
  • 10 of the last 11 winners ran 3 or less times that season
  • 16 of the last 22 winners were bred in Ireland
  • 10 of the last 13 winners won last time out
  • 5 of the last 13 favourites won
  • ALL of the last 19 winners were aged 9 or younger

 

Negatives….

  • Non Grade One winners have a poor record
  • No winner older than 10 years-old since 1969 (0 from 70)
  • Horses rated 166 or less are only 4 from last 24
  • Avoid horses that had run on ‘heavy’ ground that season (0 from 80)
  • Horses wearing headgear have a bad recent record
  • Willie Mullins is yet to win the race, 0 from 26 (had last 4 of the last 6 seconds though)
  • Just 1 of the last 11 winners had raced more than 3 times that season
  • Horses that were beaten in their 1st Gold Cup are 1 from 67 when running again

 

16:10 St James’ Place Foxhunter Chase   3m 2½f

2018 Winner: PACHA DU POLDER (25/1)
Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Jockey – Miss Harriet Tucker

Pluses…..

  • 25 of the last 28 winners were aged under 11 years-old
  • 24 of the last 33 won last time out
  • 7 of the last 10 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
  • 26 of the last 30 started out in point-to-point races
  • 11 of the last 13 winners ran 34 days or less ago
  • Respect the Irish runners (won 6 of last 8)
  • 5 of the last 7 winners ran in the Leopardstown Inn Hunters’ Chase
  • 9 of the last 13 winners were aged 8-10 years-old
  • 7 of the last 10 winners returned 15/2 or shorter
  • 10 of the last 11 winners finished in the top 3 last time out

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in a handicap race that season haven’t got a good record
  • Avoid horses that hadn’t won a race under rules
  • 26 of the last 27 horses aged 11+ (priced in single figures) have lost
  • Avoid ex-handicappers rated 140+ in their careers
  • Avoid horses that raced 35 days or longer ago
  • Horses aged 11+ are just 4 from 221 since 1990

 

16:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase   2m ½f

2018 Winner: LE PREZIEN (15/2)
Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Jockey – Barry Geraghty

Pluses….

  • 15 of the last 19 winners carried 11st or less
  • 13 of the last 15 winners had run at the Festival before
  • 7 of the last 15 winners ran in the previous renewal
  • Irish have won 3 of the last 6 runnings
  • 7 of the last 9 winners came from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • 10 of the last 15 winners were aged 8 or older
  • Henderson, Nicholls, King-trained horses are respected
  • Keep the Irish horses on your side (won 3 of the last 6)
  • Respect JP McManus-owned horses (4 winners, 8 placed)
  • The last 8 winners were rated at least 138
  • 5 year-olds have a good record (from few runners of that age that have run)
  • Novices have won 5 of the last 10 runnings
  • 6 of the last 8 winners were rated between 140-147
  • 6 of the last 8 winners carried 10-11 or more in weight
  • 18 of the last 19 winners had run no more than 12 times over fences

Negatives….

  • Horses aged 10+ are just 1 win from the last 23 runnings
  • Horses that last ran 45 days or more ago have seen just six winners since 1990
  • Last time out winners are just 1 from last 13
  • Horses aged 6 or younger (from top 3 in the market) are just 1 from 27 since 2005
  • Just 2 winners rated 147+ since 1992
  • Horses that won a handicap chase that season have a bad recent record

17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle   2m 4½f

2018 Winner: BLOW BY BLOW (11/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Donagh Meyler

Pluses….

  • 9 of the last 10 winners were 2nd season-hurdlers
  • Irish have won 5 of the last 8 (all making handicap debuts)
  • 28 of the 30 win and place horses were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • Look for Henderson, Nicholls, Mullins, Elliot-trained horses
  • 8 of the 10 winners were placed in the top 4 last time out
  • 5 of the 10 winners won last time out
  • 7 of the 10 winners were rated 133-139
  • 7 of the 10 winners returned at a double-figure price (8 of the last 10 were 16/1 or less)
  • 5 and 6 year-old have won 9 of last 10 runnings
  • Look for jockeys that have ridden 20+ winners
  • Willie Mullins is 3 from 14 runners in the race (won 3 of the last 8 runnings)
  • Respect any Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners (4 winners, 3 places)
  • Paul Nicholls has won the race twice in the last 6 years

Negatives….

  • Despite being named after his father the David Pipe stable has a poor record so far (0 from 19, inc 3 favs)
  • Just 1 winning fav in the 10 year history (7/9 returned in double-figures)
  • Horses in headgear are currently 1 from 48
  • Only 2 winners have previous Festival experience

 

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Stat of the Day, 13th March 2019

Tuesday's pick was...

3.15 Sedgefield : Lucarno Dancer @ 10/3 BOG UR at 3/1 (Chased leaders, blundered and unseated rider 5th)

Wednesday's pick runs in the...

4.40 Kempton :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Hanakotoba 3/1 BOG

...in a 12-runner, Class 5, A/W Handicap for 3yo fillies over 6f on Polytrack worth £3752 to the winner...

Why?

This 3 yr old filly (obvs!) has never finished outside the first four home in seven starts on the A/W, winning twice : firstly over this very course and distance back in October and more recently last time out, 37 days ago, over 5f at Wolverhampton.

She has finished 1st and 3rd on her two previous visits to Kempton, she's 2 from 3 when sent off at 4/1 or shorter and is 1 from 1 over track and trip.

Her jockey Richard Kingscote has been on good form of late winning 7 of 30 (23.3% SR) for 42.06pts (+140.2% ROI) over the last 30 days and these include...

  • 7/24 (29.2%) for 48.06pts (+200.2%) on Polytrack
  • 4/10 (40%) for 47.93pts (+479.3%) here at Kempton
  • 2/6 (33.3%) for 5.71pts (+95.2%) over 6 furlongs
  • and 2/2 (100%) for 9.71pts (+485.5%) here at Kempton over this 6f C&D.

None of those 30 rides above have been for today's trainer Stuart Williams, but over the last two years, the duo have 7 wins from 34 (20.6% SR) together, generating profits of 12.24pts (+36% ROI) and with today's race in mind, they include...

  • 6/22 (27.3%) for 13.74pts (+62.4%) in handicaps
  • 6/22 (27.3%) for 13.74pts (+62.4%) at odds of 6/4 to 6/1
  • 6/24 (25%) for 11.74pts (+48.9%) with horses with a run in the previous 40 days
  • 4/13 (30.8%) for 20.4pts (+156.7%) over 6f
  • 2/8 (25%) for 6.84pts (+85.6%) at Class 5

...whilst from the above...handicappers sent off at 6/4 to 6/1 within 40 days of their last run are 6 from 14 (42.9% SR) for 21.74pts (+155.3% ROI), including 3 winners from 6 (50%) for 16.87pts (+281.2%) over 6f...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Hanakotoba 3/1 BOG which was widely available at 7.00pm on Tuesday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 4.40 Kempton

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day Two Preview, Tips

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Day Two Preview, Tips

On to Day 2, Wednesday, and another septet of teasers the highlight of which is the Queen Mother Champion Chase and that lad, Altior. That is but one of four Grade 1 shemozzles, those four tiptop treats supported by two impossible handicaps and the good old Cross Country Chase.

1.30 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1, 2m5f)

The intermediate novices' hurdle but one where speed is usually at more of a premium than stamina. Naturally, class remains a prerequisite.

The favourite and top rated horse is Champ, who brings a most progressive profile to the party. Winning at Perth in May last year hardly hinted at what was to follow, as Nicky Henderson's McManus-owned novice rattled off a four-timer most recently by strolling to victory in the Grade 1 Challow Novices' Hurdle. Prior to that he'd put a big field of high class handicappers to the sword off a mark of 139 and now has a perch of 152, the best in the field by fully five pounds.

He hurdles well, travels well and clearly has an abundance of class. With all his winning at around the two and a half mile range, however, there's a slight niggle as to whether he quite has the speed for this. Yes, I do know the distance of the Ballymore but it tends to go to a horse with a bit of two mile form. He's not run at the shorter trip so it's unfair to say he doesn't have the toe for it. He's a worthy favourite.

The pick of the Irish is presumed to be Battleoverdoyen, Gordon Elliott's unbeaten son of, you guessed it, Doyen. He was good in a Grade 1 novice hurdle over two and a half miles at Naas last time and, after just three starts, retains plenty of upside. He's rated 146, joint third best.

Interestingly, given how good a guide official ratings have been in this race, the second top-rated, on 147, is City Island. Martin Brassil may be a somewhat unfashionable trainer but he's a very good one, and his four time winner (including a disqualification for a banned substance, arsenic, apparently present in a seaweed-based supplement the horse was taking) has been achieved from two miles to this trip. He's yet to face Graded company but that's the sort of thing, allied to his 'no name' connections - though his trainer has saddled a Grand National winner - that makes for a price.

Brewin'upastorm rounds out the single figure odds horses. Olly Murphy's inmate looked set to perhaps get the better of a duel with Birchdale when taking a heavy tumble at the last here on Trials Day. The trainer is convinced Brewin' is not the sort to dwell on such a pearler, but he also has to reverse Challow form with Champ. There he was beaten four lengths, though again Murphy feels he gave the wrong instructions to his jockey on the day. That's a lot of what Lydia Hislop would call 'yak' (i.e. chat or conjecture) but Olly knows the horse better than anyone else and he will have the tactics spot on this time. He has speed and class and might just be his fledgling trainer's best chance of a Festival winner this season, assuming he hasn't already bagged the Supreme by the time you read this!

Elliott runs Galvin as well, a horse which has been running exclusively at two miles and is unbeaten in five bumpers and novices hurdles both sides of the Irish Sea. The form has worked out quite well despite the lesser courses at which it's been achieved; this son of Gold Well could improve for the extra distance and might have sailed under the radar a little hitherto.

The rest have a stone or so to find on ratings but there are a couple who could be better than their current marks. The first is Ben Pauling's Bright Forecast, who made a striking impression on his debut when running on through a field of twenty to win going away. That was a deep-looking Newbury heat which has worked out well and he followed up at Leicester before finding only Supreme-bound Mister Fisher too good in the Rossington Main at Haydock. The longer trip looks sure to be in his favour though I'd not want him to adopt his recent front-running tactics. A more conservative ride early could see him on the premises up the hill. I like him, regardless of the result here.

The other to catch the eye is Sams Profile for Mouse Morris. Winner of a two mile maiden hurdle early in the season, he's since been second in a Grade 3 over three miles and then in a Grade 1 over two and a half behind Battleoverdoyen. There was sufficiently little between the pair to make Sams Profile of interest at 12/1 if you like the winner that day at 3/1 this day.

Ballymore Pace Map

Ballymore Novices' Hurdle Selection

It's a trappy betting heat where most of the field still have improvement to come, and where some of the marks allocated at this stage could be awry. Champ looks best of the British, and he's a worthy favourite who looks sure to give backers a run for their money if not getting too far back.

At a bigger price, both City Island and Bright Forecast look capable of getting involved. The former has plenty of speed and no little class, the latter looks a horse with a future.

Suggestion: Back City Island (10/1 Coral) each way. A small nibble on Bright Forecast (33/1 Betfred) could reward Hail Mary players.

*

2.10 RSA Chase (Grade 1, 3m)

Almost always a terrific spectacle, the RSA Chase is the race for next season's Gold Cup aspirants. The top of the market had long looked sewn up between Delta Work, Santini and Topofthegame but all three are suddenly surprisingly easy to back.

Clear jolly remains Delta Work, the Gordon Elliott-trained son of Network that won the Pertemps Final at last year's Festival. He then stepped into Grade 1 company to run second at Punchestown. This season has been about fences and, after scoring in the obligatory beginners' chase, he's added back-to-back Grade 1 victories to his impressive CV.

The form of his Drinmore win (2m4f) looks very decent, more so than his three mile chase win last time, but he continues to offer cause for concern with some sticky leaps. He has little - nothing, in fact - to spare on ratings so, while he can win (of course), he's skinny enough and it is easy to see why bookies want to 'get' him.

The flip-flopping pick of the Brits is Topofthegame, Paul Nicholls' Kauto Star Novices' Chase runner up. A maiden over fences after a brace of silver medals, he was also second in the Coral Cup at the Festival last term. He doesn't seem to lack resolution in spite of that string of 2's, his jumping is accurate and he stays well. But he does always seem to bump into one...

My long range fancy for this was Santini. Third in the Albert Bartlett last season and a fine winner at Grade 1 level at Aintree subsequently, he won a Grade 2 chase on his fencing bow before getting predictably outpaced on the speed strip that is Kempton. He rallied best of all from the last there, suggesting the stronger test of the RSA was bang on for him.

Alas, since then it's all gone wrong. First he missed his intended prep in the Reynoldstown due to having to get a booster jab, and then he got a foot problem which wasn't immediately poulticed and took a day or two longer to repair. It probably leaves him under-cooked for this big gig, though his price has drifted from 5/2 to 4/1 and that may overstate his preparation problems. On the other hand, it may not!

Nicky Henderson saddles Santini and he also runs On The Blind Side, a dual Grade 2 scorer over hurdles but found out when upped to G1 company. He was last of four in the Dipper at this track, but has since beaten a 145 chaser three lengths in receipt of six pounds at Kempton. That doesn't add up to an RSA winner in my book.

If the top of the market is to be taken down, then perhaps Tom George's The Worlds End might surprise. He was making a potentially race-winning move in the 2017 Albert Bartlett before coming down at the second last, and that seemed to have left a mark on him in open staying hurdle company last term. But, now chasing, he's looked classy if inconsistent in winning twice and losing twice. First the good: he turned the tables on Ibis Du Rheu two runs back over this course and distance (but on the other, New, track) by some margin, making all and easing clear. Now the not so good: he made mistakes aplenty when taken off his feet in the Kauto Star at Kempton.

That race has famously not yet produced a winner to double up in Cheltenham's RSA. Equally well known is how many beaten horses at Sunbury have prevailed at Cheltenham, the slower tempo and stronger emphasis on stamina allowing horses to get into a better jumping rhythm and grind it out. Though he'd perhaps not want it too heavy, and though he's a Jekyll and Hyde performer, if the good The Worlds End shows up, he's going to look an enormous price at 25/1.

Drovers Lane has had a wind op since winning over 2m5f here and he's won three of his four chase starts. It would be fantastic for Rebecca Curtis, whose yard have had a few seasons in the doldrums since the At Fishers Cross days, if he ran well; he doesn't have a heap to find on official ratings.

RSA Chase Pace Map

RSA Chase Selection

Your first 30 days for just £1

It's a tricky race in which a clear round would probably see Delta Work go close; but that's only what the market is saying. I'd be worried about Topofthegame's propensity to bump into one for all that I don't think he's ungenuine; and Santini's interrupted prep is very far from ideal. No wonder the bookies are looking to get a result here!

I'm going to roll with that theory and take a pony (25/1) punt on The Worlds End who might be considered unlucky not to already be a Cheltenham Festival winner. He probably wouldn't want it too soft but if the worst of the rain misses the course he'll look overpriced come post time.

Suggestion: take a chance each way on The Worlds End (25/1 Unibet, Coral; 22/1 1/5 1234 Victor)

*

2.50 Coral Cup (Handicap, Grade 3, 2m5f)

26 runners. In a handicap hurdle. Sponsored by a bookmaker. Seriously? You want to bet in this?

I'm not going to pretend I've ever backed the winner of this race or ever expect to. However, I'm told classier unexposed horses do best, so what about the long absent Diamond Cauchois? He had a little spin round Punchestown in a non-rules race in November and has otherwise been kept away from the track. But a G2 score at this trip last season says he's got the class for the gig if fit enough. Noel Fehily, with the best hands in the business, steps in to ride. The 20/1 will be gone before you read this, and I can't get it anyway (thanks, Fred), but perhaps 14s is still worth a small passing interest.

Brio Conti is another without too many miles on the clock and he will have come on for the run, and win, last time at Ascot. 12/1 is worth a dabble perhaps. And William Henry bids to improve on last season's fourth place off the same mark. He's had a wind op since last seen (Nicky Henderson 12 from 32, +12.92 with W1's according to Query Tool) and seems to love the hurly-burly of a big field. 40/1 looks massive.

But, honestly, I don't profess to have any 'in' to this race whatsoever.

Coral Cup Pace Map

Coral Cup Suggestion: leave well alone, or back your own judgement! Diamond Cauchois (16/1) and William Henry (40/1) are my guesses. And, let's be clear, that's all they are. Maybe we'll be lucky...

*

3.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1, 2m)

And so to the Royal Procession that looks likely to be the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior, a perfect 17 from 17 over hurdles and fences, is solid odds on to make it 18. Until a couple of weeks ago, when he was usurped by an upstart called Cyrname, he was the highest rated chaser in training. There are many unhappy about Altior's deposing and it might be that impressive victory here returns the Nicky Henderson superstar to his golden plinth.

Be all that as it may, this is a horse race and we must consider the merit of the favourite in the context of his field as well as the race conditions. Dealing with the latter first, it will be two miles at Cheltenham on rain softened ground, exactly the medicine he drank so stoically at the Festival last year. There, after an interrupted preparation, he looked momentarily in trouble before rattling home in trademark fashion from the high class Min.

So, no dramas on the race conditions score; what about the field? The truth is, with the exception of the re-opposing Min and the unpredictable Politologue, he is miles clear of the others. In another year, a year when Altior didn't show up, Min would have been an eleven length winner last year. His margin over God's Own, Politologue a further five back lengths back in fourth - of five finishers - was decisive. He again looks set to do battle with the 2018 also rans for the honour of runner-up, a performance he is odds on to reprise.

Champion Chase Pace Map

Champion Chase Selection

In truth, it looks a shallow contest, notwithstanding the sumptuous cherry on top of the somewhat flimsy cake; and those looking for a bet might do worse than Saint Calvados each way without Altior. He was utterly compromised last year in the Arkle when taking on Petit Mouchoir for the lead, both of them collapsing to the rear of the field and allowing Footpad to saunter home in his own time.

But here he might get his favoured solo on the front. God's Own is eleven now, Politologue is deeply unreliable and Sceau Royal, the other in front of him in the market aside from Min, was behind him on soft ground in the Tingle Creek.

Suggestion: Try Saint Calvados at 16/1 without Altior each way (1/4 123 bet365)

*

4.10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country, Class 2, 3m6f)

The 'marmite' race. Some people love it, some hate it. Me? I'm a fan: it's something different, it often showcases some of the old warriors, and it's a damn fine prep for the Grand National to boot. It is a race dominated by the Irish - only Philip Hobbs' Balthazar King, twice, has wrested the prize from the Emerald Isle since its inception in 2005 - and they again have a strong hand this term, spearheaded by last year's winner, Tiger Roll.

The Tiger's palmarès is one of the most brilliantly eclectic in racing. A winner on his juvenile hurdle debut for Nigel Hawke in 2013, he was snapped up at the sale that December for £80,000 and sent to Gordon Elliott. With Elliott, Tiger Roll has since won a Triumph Hurdle, a Munster National, a National Hunt Chase, a Cross Country Chase, a Grand National, and a Boyne Hurdle. I mean, just, WOW!

He's still only nine and could have this in the palm of his hand if in the same form as he was when winning the race last year. That day he had two lengths to spare over the French cross country expert, Urgent De Gregaine, now eleven and returning for another crack. Emmanuel Clayeux's veteran has run three times over course and distance, adding a win and a third in handicaps to that silver medal last March. He's been very lightly raced in recent seasons making the 144 day layoff less of a concern; but I want to be against him I think, even though older horses had a decent record in the race in its formative years.

More likely are the Enda Bolger contingent of Auvergnat and Josies Orders. Auvergnat was fourth in this last year before winning the Le Touche Cup at Punchestown, and is a banks specialist. He's rated within a pound of Tiger Roll in this discipline, and comes here in great form off the back of a valuable big field handicap chase win at Leopardstown at Christmas.

Josies Orders is eleven now, but seems to have found a new lease of life this season, winning the cross country race here in November and the PP Hogan at Punchestown, a major trial for the Glenfarclas. He's a four time winner over course and distance, including the 2016 renewal of the Festival race and his full record over these banks reads 1113613, the bold figures representing Festival races. Granted, he was a little out of form last term when finishing only sixth, but he looks close to his best again now.

Jamie Snowden saddles Fact Of The Matter, winner of the December handicap and second in the November handicap both over course and distance. He's far worse off at level weights with a number of these but handicap ratings have been no sort of indicator down the years and, as a horse proven to relish this unique test, he looks a reasonable each way play. He's had a wind op since that December victory.

Hurricane Darwin, twice closest to Josies Orders in the past year, most recently in the PP Hogan, is worthy of mention, as perhaps is the other French entry, Amazing Comedy, fourth in the December handicap here and fifth in this race last year. 40/1 may marginally downplay his place prospects.

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase Pace Map

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase Selection

A cracking renewal - deeper than normal - so, whilst I thoroughly respect Tiger Roll (what a horse!), I have to look elsewhere for a bet. Auvergnat and Josies Orders should both go well and maybe dutching the pair at around 3/1 is a way to go. Fact Of The Matter is tempting each way at 16/1.

Suggestion: Split your stake 60/40 between Auvergnat (6/1 general) and Josies Orders (9/1 Paddy) for an approximately 3/1 dutch.

*

4.50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m 1/2f)

The Fred Winter as was. My crikey - this is not my jurisdiction! Last year, Gordon Elliott won with a 33/1 shot. He's won it before, too, but Paul Nicholls' three wins - and six further places - from 18 runners is exceptional: 50% placed horses in a ferocious handicap.

Nicholls saddles just one, the 25/1 shot Dogon, whose profile deserves closer inspection. Experienced in France, he actually won a two and a quarter mile 3yo chase at Fontainebleu in November, prior to pulling up in the Triumph Hurdle trial at this track in January. Since then he's run an eye-catching second at Wincanton, pulling hard and giving the impression that this stiffer test of stamina and faster pace will suit better. He's not an obvious contender, but then neither was Veneer Of Charm or Flying Tiger or Qualando or Flaxen Flare or Hawk High or Une Artiste, all of whom won this race at 25/1 or bigger in the last ten years.

Clearly, then, this is a race in which to take a small chance at a big price. Elliott runs three, two of which are single figure prices and they can beat me if they're able; but the other is Coko Beach, available at 20/1 in a place. He won a French hurdle race before running down the field in Grade 2 company at Leopardstown at Christmas and then receiving a tender enough ride in a novice hurdle last month. Ex-French runners have a great record in the race, a note in support of both Dogon and Coko Beach.

Obviously, a score more with chances, including three more ex-French that have yet to race in Britain, one of them - Fox Pro - trained by the Nick/Jane Williams axis, successful in 2017 with Flying Tiger and with 3rd and 5th places as well from just seven runners.

Boodles / Fred Winter Pace Map

[Gaps represent runners yet to race in UK or Ireland]

Boodles / Fred Winter Selection

I could analyse this contest in great detail but I'd likely be unable to add much to the above. It's a race which generally hasn't gone to the head of the market and in which I'll take a little punt on the three named above.

Suggestion: Back any or all of Dogon (25/1 bet365), Coko Beach (16/1 Hills 1/5 12345) and/or Fox Pro (25/1 general)

*

5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1, NH Flat, 2m 1/2f)

Really tricky, and I don't have any idea what might win. Gordon Elliott talks about Envoi Allen as a future Gold Cup winner, the unbeaten five year old finding plenty for pressure in a Grade 2 last time. He's top rated on official figures, an angle which has been a good predictor of Champion Bumper winners, and he's also favourite.

The value against him might just be Abracadabras, who almost clipped heels with Envoi Allen inside the final furlong before running through the rail. That incident demonstrates how close to the favourite he'd got, and he looked to still have a bit more to give. With the wide open spaces of Cheltenham sure to preclude a repeat sob story, and perhaps a little less greenness as a result of that run, the Gigginstown-owned stablemate can turn the tables at three times the price.

Most of these are unexposed and can/will step forward markedly on what they've shown so far, most notably perhaps the four-year-olds Blue Sari and Cascova.

Champion Bumper selection

An interesting race to watch rather than wager, though Envoi Allen had little in hand of Meticulous, Abracadabras, and a couple of others last time. In the circumstances, my interest wager will be the unlucky one from Leopardstown and his rider Lisa O'Neill.

Suggestion: Try Abracadabras each way at 10/1 (1/5 1234 Victor)

*

And that concludes a somewhat briefer (relatively, at least) spin through Wednesday's Day 2 action. Plenty of races in which it's hard to take a strong view, and where we may have to be both good and lucky to come out in front I feel.

Good luck!

Matt

Stat of the Day, 12th March 2019

Monday's pick was...

2.40 Stratford : Le Capricieux @ 7/2 BOG 4th at 9/2 (Chased leaders, went 2nd 7th until next, blundered and lost place 2 out, rallied under pressure disputing 3rd between last 2)

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

3.15 Sedgefield :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

Who?

Lucarno Dancer 10/3 BOG

...in a 7-runner, Class 5, Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over 2m½f on Soft worth £3314 to the winner...

Why?

This 9 yr old mare was a winner on her chase debut at Catterick in a Class 4 contest a little over 10 weeks ago and now takes a drop in class today. Callum Whillans was riding her for the first time that day and he retains the ride here, hoping to put his 3lb claim to good use.

The mare has previously own on soft ground and in fact both previous career victories have been going left handed whilst wearing a tongue tie, as will be the case today.

Stat/numerically-wise, I'm keeping it really simple today (I'm sure you've other more important stuff to read about another meeting elsewhere this afternoon!)...

Trainer Donald Whillans + Sedgefield + 2014-19 = 6/24 (25% SR) for 22.83pts (+95.1% ROI), why he doesn't bring ore horses here is beyond me, but of those 24 over the last five years...

  • those ridden by Callum are 6/23 (26.1%) for 23.83pts (+103.6%)
  • handicappers are 5/19 (26.3%) for 19.04pts (+100.2%)
  • those sent of in the 2/1 to 9/1 bracket are 6/17 (35.3%) for 29.83pts (+175.5%)
  • those racing on soft/heavy ground are 4/17 (23.5%) for 14.35pts (+84.4%)
  • those rated (OR) less than 90 are 5/14 (35.7%) for 27.75pts (+198.2%)
  • those last seen 3 to 11 weeks ago are 4/14(28.6%) for 20.38pts (+145.6%)
  • those racing over trips shorter than 2.5 miles are 5/13 (38.5%) for 28.75pts (+221.2%)
  • female runners are 4/13 (30.8%) for 19.39pts (+149.1%)
  • and those racing on soft ground are 3/13 (23.1%) for 7.2pts (+55.4%)

...from which we can ascertain that...Donald + Callum + Sedgefield handicaps + 2/1 to 9/1 + shorter than 2.5 miles + OR of 75 to 90 = 4/5 (80% SR) for 27.96pts (+559.2% ROI) profit and these include...

  • females at 3/3 (100%) for 20.6pts (+686.5%)
  • soft/heavy at 2/3 (66.6%) for 14.47pts (+482.3%)
  • and females on soft/heavy are 2/2 (100%) for 15.47pts (+773.5%)

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Lucarno Dancer 10/3 BOG which was available in half a dozen or so places at 6.05pm on Monday evening, although I'm on with Skybet at 7/2 BOG. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 3.15 Sedgefield

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

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