Friday's pick was...

3.05 Southwell : Thunderoad @ 5/1 BOG 3rd at 9/4 (Held up in touch on outside, headway into 2nd over 3f out, challenged 2f out, ridden over 1f out, kept on and every chance inside final furlong, no extra towards finish) - the lack of a finish showed why he's now 0/19.

Saturday's pick runs in the...

4.10 Newbury :

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.


Highest Sun @ 11/4 BOG a 7-runner, Class 3, Novices Limited Handicap Chase for 5yo+ over 2m7½f on Good ground worth £8,058 to the winner... 


This 6 yr old gelding was quite well beaten back in fourth place last time out, four weeks ago, but in his defence that was a Grade 2 contest where he was unable to run his usual race from the front, as he had done when winning a Class 3 race at Plumpton two starts ago, under today's jockey Jonjo O'Neill (Jnr).

Back down at Class 3 and reunited with Jonjo, I'd expect him to be a different proposition today.

Jonjo is riding well of late and his 3 wins from 12 (25% SR) over the last week isn't a purple patch, as not only is he 13 from 53 (24.5%) over the past month, he;s also 5 from 18 (27.8% SR) for 24pts (+133.3% ROI) in handicaps here at Newbury over the last 12 months, including of relevance today...

  • 5/12 (41.7%) for 30pts (+250%) at odds shorter than 12/1
  • 3/9 (33.3%) for 8.25pts (+91.7%) over fences
  • 3/6 (50%) for 27.9pts (+465.4%) at 2m4½f to 3m
  • and 2/5 (40%) for 10.14pts (+202.8%) at Class 3

...whilst trainer Colin Tizzard's Newbury handicappers sent off at 12/1 and shorter since the start of 2016 are 12 from 34 (35.3% SR) for 44.4pts (+130.6% ROI) : all males. Now, despite 34 runners not being a huge number to work from, there are actually plenty of different successful/profitable angles to be derived, suggesting conditions might be in our pick's favour today, as of the 34 original qualifiers...

  • 12/25 (48%) for 53.4pts (+213.6%) after at least 3 weeks rest
  • 11/29 (37.9%) for 41.5pts (+143.2%) over fences
  • 11/26 (42.3%) for 48.1pts (+184.9%) at the ages of 6-10
  • 11/26 (42.3%) for 47.6pts (+183.2%) in 4-12 runner contests
  • 9/17 (52.9%) for 34.3pts (+201.6%) in races worth £6-12k
  • 8/17 (47.1%) for 26.4pts (+155.2%) at Class 3
  • 8/12 (66.6%) for 24pts (+200%) at odds of 5/1 or shorter
  • 7/18 (38.9%) for 25.6pts (+142.4%) from those either beaten by 10 lengths or more LTO or who didn't finish
  • 5/11 (45.5%) for 13pts (+117.9%) with class droppers
  • and 4/6 (66.6%) for 13.67pts (+227.8%) on Good ground...

...and if you wanted a composite micro from the above (mindful of a dilution of numbers, of course), you could try 5-10 yr olds returning from 3+ weeks rest to run in a 4-12 runner chase worth £6-12k for 8 winners from 13 (61.5% SR), all at Class 3 and giving 30.4pts profit at an ROI of 233.8%, including...

  • 6/8 (75%) for 17.47pts (+218.3%) at 5/1 or shorter
  • 5/7 (71.4%) for 23pts (+328.4%) from those defeated by 10L+ or DNF last time out
  • 4/4 (100%) for 15.67pts (+391.6%) on Good ground
  • and 2/4 (50%) for 2,54pts (+63.5%) from class droppers... us...a 1pt win bet on Highest Sun @ 11/4 BOG as was available from Bet365, SkyBet, BetVictor, Hills & Unibet at 8.45am Saturday, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 4.10 Newbury

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


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!

Monday's Pick was...

3.30 Kempton : Midnight Target @ 3/1 BOG 2nd at 3/1 (Shade keen, chased leaders on inside, went 2nd at 9th, pushed along and one pace before 3 out, eased down when no chance with winner) 

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

2.50 Lingfield :

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.


Lillington @ 7/2 BOG a 6-runner, Class 3 Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m on Soft ground worth £9748 to the winner...


Three of the six on show here today have been off the track for some time (164 to 218 days) with the other three having raced as recently as 17 to 46 days ago and of these three, our 6 yr old gelding is definitely the form horse, having won two of his last three and wasn't disgraced in finishing fourth at Cheltenham LTO in a Class 2 contest 17 days ago.

He's now eased a pound by the assessor and takes a drop in class to attempt to improve on a chasing record of 2 wins and 2 places from 7 attempts (all whilst wearing a tongue tie), including...

  • 2 wins and a place from 5 under today's jockey Tom Scudamore
  • 2 wins and a place from 4 in handicap chases
  • 2 wins and a place from 4 when sent off at 4/1 or shorter
  • 2 wins and a place from 4 in cheekpieces
  • 2 wins from 4 going left handed
  • 2 wins from 2 over trips of 2m-2m1f
  • and whilst he hasn't won on soft ground yet, he has made the frame in all three efforts to date, including 2 runs over fences.

His trainer Colin Tizzard is in good form too with 6 winners from 23 (26.1% SR) for 24.02pts (+104.4% ROI) over the last week and whilst he doesn't run many here at "leafy", those that have been sent here are 3 from 9 (33.3%) for 1.58pts (+17.6%) in NH handicaps since the start of 2016, from which Class 3 runners are 3/6 (50%) for 4.58pts (+76.4%), whilst Class 3 handicap chasers are 2 from 4 950%) for 2.76pts (+69%).

As I intimated above, Tom Scudamore is in the saddle again today and he's 5 from 19 (26.3% SR) for 23.4pts (+123.2% ROI) in handicap chases at this venue since 2010, including 2 from 7 (28.6%) for 2.93pts (+41.9%) over this 2m C&D and 2 from 6 (50%) for 8.35pts (+139.2%) at Class 3.

But today's main stats refer back to the horse and his recent form. The last two entries on his form line read 14, making him one of my 1-2/3/4 horses, whereby...

...Since 2013 in Class 3 to 5, UK NH handicap chases over 2m to 3m1f on ground deemed good or softer, horses who won two starts ago (ie the 1) and then finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th (the 2/3/4 bit) last time out less than three weeks ago are 110/475 (23.2% SR) for 230.2pts (+48.5% ROI)...

These are essentially horses in good form, turned back out fairly quickly in the hope of getting at least one good run out of them before a rest. Of course, 475 chasers from one angle is too many bets to back blindly for most people, so let's break them down with today's contest in mind, shall we? If we did, we'd find that...

  • males are 102/442 (23.1%) for 20.7pts (+49.9%)
  • those last seen 11-20 days ago are 84/380 (22.1%) for 212.6pts (+55.9%)
  • Class 3 runners are 36/164 (22%) for 138.7pts (+84.6%)
  • those finishing 4th LTO are 30/122 (24.6%) for 130.1pts (+106.6%)
  • 6 yr olds are 24/87 (27.6%) for 92.5pts (+106.3%)
  • in November : 18/64 (28.1%) for 81.3pts (+127.1%)
  • and over a 2m trip : 12/47 (25.5%) for 19.2pts (+40.9%)

And from the above, since 2014, Class 3 males who finished 4th, 11 to 20 days earlier are 9/32 (28.1% SR) for 70.7pts (+220.9% ROI), including 4 wins from 10 (40%) for 70.93pts (+709.3%) in November and 4 wins from 10 (40%) for 57.37pts (+573.7%) from 6 yr olds... us... a 1pt win bet on Lillington @ 7/2 BOG, a price offered by Bet365, BetVictor, SkyBet & Coral at 5.50pm on Monday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 2.50 Lingfield

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


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!

Wednesday's Result :

4.40 Kempton : Roman Spinner @ 7/2 BOG WON at 9/2 Keen early, held up towards rear, switched left over 2f out, good headway on outside chasing leaders over 1f out, 2nd inside final furlong, ran on to lead final 100 yards, soon clear

Next up is Thursday's...

1.25 Wincanton :

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.


Cucklington @ 11/4 BOG

A Class 4, 4yo+ Handicap Chase over 3m1f on Soft ground worth £6,498 to the winner.

And a 6 yr old gelding who is in fine form having finished 221 in his last three outings, having recently (17 days ago) won a handicap novice chase at Plumpton last time out. That was over 3m2f and he takes a slight drop back in trip today.

The drop in trip should help on the stamina front, as the ground is tougher today and whilst he's neither proven nor disproven yet on Soft ground, he did finish 3rd in a bumper on heavy ground and he looked to have plenty on hand when winning LTO.

That said, had he won previously on Soft ground, we'd be looking at 7/4 and not 11/4 and if we're to continue to get on horses at the "right kind" of prices, we have to take horses that don't always tick every box we'd like.

He's trained by Colin Tizzard, whose record in handicap chases here at Wincanton with runners priced at Evens to 8/1 stands at 25/111 (22.5% SR) for 20.1pts (+18.1% ROI) since 2008 from which Class 4 runners are 11/50 (22%) for 3.9pts (+7.8%) whilst on Soft ground they are 9/30 (30%) for 22.4pts (+74.7%).

More generally, since 2008, handicappers racing over trips of 2m6f to 3m3.5f after winning a Novice Chase LTO, 4 to 25 days earlier are 121/487 (24.9% SR) for 119.6pts (+24.6% ROI), from which...

  • males are 114/451 (25.3%) for 133.2pts (+29.5%)
  • at odds of 10/1 and shorter : 120/448 (26.8%) for 138.6pts (+30.9%)
  • at Class 4 : 49/179 (27.4%) for 18.5pts (+10.4%)
  • on soft ground : 28/121 (23.1%) for 22.4pts (+18.6%)
  • and here at Wincanton : 7/15 (46.7%) for 21.8pts (+145.1%)...

...whilst 6 to 9 yr old male Class 4 chasers who won a handicap chase by 2 to 4 lengths last time out, 11 to 75 days earlier are 61/266 (22.9% SR) for 38.1pts (+14.3% ROI) since 2010, of which those racing over 2m7f to 3m2f are 25/104 (24%) for 46.4pts (+44.6%) with runners here at Wincanton winning 3 of 10 (30%) for 3.98pts (+39.8%). us... a 1pt win bet on Cucklington @ 11/4 BOG which was generally available at 5.55pm on Wednesday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply... here for the betting on the 1.25 Wincanton

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


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!

Hello again, nearly the middle of February and Betfair weekend at Newbury, doesn't time fly?

Since I last blogged, I've ridden a couple more winners, the most recent being the most significant. Diego Du Charmil's victory in the Scottish County Hurdle was my 75th overall, which means I can no longer claim a conditional's allowance. It took me 23 months and 377 rides, and I'm told that's a strike rate of 19.9%, which is pretty good I guess!

Of course, I have to be thankful to many people, most importantly all the owners who have continued to support me, and also especially Paul Nicholls, Anthony Honeyball, Michael Blake, Ron Hodges and Colin Tizzard, all of whom have had enough faith to leg me up on their stable charges. Thank you!

Back to Diego du Charmil, the Fred Winter winner at last year's Festivaal, and it was a really nice performance in a good race. He loves top of the ground but has gone up to 149 now, which might just anchor him for a while. Still, it would be no surprise to see him make another trip north, to Ayr for Scottish Champion Hurdle in April.

A couple of weeks earlier - has it really been that long? - Virak ran well in defeat in the Peter Marsh Chase on very soft ground at Haydock. He's been dropped another five pounds to 147, which is almost a stone lower than when he ran second in the same race last year, and he must be getting well handicapped now. Soft ground and three miles plus is what he needs.

Anthony Honeyball's Cresswell Breeze is a tough little mare that I rode to finish second in a Listed Chase towards the end of January. She was beaten far enough by Desert Queen, a very smart horse on her day, but nicely clear of some decent mares in behind. This was probably a career best effort for her, and she is entered at Catterick for a Grand National trial on Monday.

At a lower level, Madame Lafite was surely going to win when brought down by the only horse in front of her two out. Johnny Portman's five year old is an ex-flat racer who was having her first start in a handicap: she's a nice genuine mare who will win races if her confidence is not affected by this spill.

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Ibis du Rheu is another Festival handicap winner I steered since I last wrote. He won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' race, and ran a big race here when third in a quality Cheltenham novices' handicap chase. The race is normally a good pointer to the Festival handicaps, and my lad got hampered at a crucial stage.

I wasn't overly hard on him once his chance had gone but he ran on well. He'll have Festival targets off this same mark, 146, so with slightly better ground likely, he goes with a fighting chance just seven pounds higher than last year's win at the big meeting.

One who was perhaps a little disappointing on Trials Day is Old Guard. He showed a little bit in midfield behind Unowhatimeanharry in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle, but was beaten 18 lengths by the line. He could conceivably be one for something like the Coral Cup on better ground, though 150 is high enough in the weights. He has to prove he's the same horse that won the Greatwood and International Hurdles in the early part of last season.

I'm developing a soft spot for doughty stayer, Royal Salute. Since picking up the ride two starts back, which has coincided with the horse going up in trip and tackling softer groun, he's won both times. He ran possibly his best race yet when comfortably winning a Plumpton marathon on heavy. He's been nudged up five to 119, which seems fair enough, and he could still be progressing when faced with stamina-sapping conditions. His trainer has half an eye on the Eider Chase, over four miles at Newcastle! Sadly, he's unlikely to make the cut.

At the top level of race riding, where I aspire to be, it's about getting your head down, working hard, and making as few mistakes as possible. But we're all human, and I have to admit that my ride on Sweeping Beauty was not my finest hour. I got trapped wide and far enough back, but she was game enough to run on into third on the Lingfield all weather track. She was a touch better than the bare finishing position, and sold cheaply for just £12,000 at last week's Tattersall's mixed sale, which should turn out to be an absolute bargain.



Looking forward, today I ride Bears Rails for Colin Tizzard. He stayed on well over an extended three miles last time and I'd be more worried about the eight pound hike in the handicap than the half mile step up in trip. Also, I can't claim the three I had when he won last time now, so he's effectively up eleven, but on the positive side, he's still a relatively lightly raced seven year old so may have more to offer. I'll probably be front rank, but there are a few others who can race handily, so we'll play it by ear. I'd be no more than hopeful in what will be a gruelling race.


Looking to the weekend and I have been jocked up on a couple of nice horses at Warwick tomorrow. I still don't know if they'll run yet, so we'll have to see. Frodon is a smart horse but whether the two miles of the Kingmaker is enough of a test for him I'm not sure. Half an hour later, Vibrato Valtat may attempt to defy top weight in a handicap chase. He's two from two at Warwick, including when winning the 2015 Kingmaker, but has yet to prevail over this half mile longer trip despite running well in defeat on a number of occasions.

On Monday, I'm down to ride Dragoon Guard for one of the syndicates. He's been a hard horse to win with, but I understand he's had a wind operation since his last run. He shouldn't mind any ease in the ground - he has a quite pronounced knee action - so if his wind is reasonably sound he'll hopefully be in the mix.


I'm up to 43 winners now for the season. Jamie Bargary and Dave Noonan are both on 29, and there are roughly 11 weeks left of the season. My first - and only real - target is to try to win the conditional jockeys' title, but I'd really love to get the seven winners I need for 50 in my first full season riding. I'm just about on track, but things change fast in this game so I'll keep kicking!

Until next time...

- Harry 

My second blog of the new year, and hopefully a few more interesting horses to tell you about. Let's start at the start...

Two Saturdays ago I had three rides for Colin Tizzard, the pick of which might turn out to be Lillington. The son of Westerner was having his first try in handicap company and beat all bar the winner there. It shouldn't be too long before he goes one better. A horse with a similar name, Cucklington, made his debut over fences the same day and ran only all right. He's back on Saturday in a similar race at Taunton, with a nice racing weight, and should come on plenty for that first experience of the big obstacles.

The following day I managed to snare another winner for Mr Tizzard. Bears Rails is a nice horse, although he has a few ideas of his own maybe! With blinkers on for essentially the first time (ignoring the void race he ran in on Boxing Day), I gave him a forward ride around Fontwell - which would have been tight enough for him - and he jumped like a pro, keeping on well in the end. He's still relatively young at seven, and has already won three chases, so could have a bit more to come later in the season.

Reilly's Minor was a horse I thought might be worth following, and I wouldn't give up on him just yet. He was stepping up a full three-quarters of a mile at Catterick and just didn't seem to get home. If dropping back in trip to around 2m6f ideally on a left-handed course, he can get back on the winning track.

More recently, I notched another winner for the very lucky Anthony Honeyball Racing Club with Royal Salute. Those enthusiastic owners have enjoyed eight winners from 21 runners this season, with another nine places! This lad is a thorough stayer and he put that to good use over three and a quarter miles of Plumpton's soft turf on Monday. He won going away in the end, and he only does as little as he can get away with. As a result he may still be half a stride ahead of the handicapper, and all he does is stays. That was his third win since April last year.

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Another who may have gone a couple of furlongs too far was Coole Cody, who probably also bumped into one in Harry Fry's Over To Sam. Cody will hopefully drop back to around two and a half miles and is capable of winning a novice event somewhere before facing his handicap mark.

Although I was only fourth on him, I was quite taken with As De Fer yesterday. He is slow enough but stays very well. I tried to make it but couldn't lay up with a pace that was too fast but, having got outpaced, Anthony's horse was closing again at the finish. He could go close over a trip with a bit of soft ground.

Finally, Monsieur Co was obviously lucky to win, Harry Fry's horse coming down at the last with the race at his mercy. But our lad hasn't been in that long and should improve a fair bit for the run. Saying that, he still made quite hard work of this.

As well as my boss, Paul Nicholls, I've been lucky enough to have ridden a fair bit for Colin Tizzard in recent weeks. He's got some serious horses in the yard this season and is a very easy-going man to work for.

I ride Robinsfirth for him this afternoon in a hot novices' handicap chase. An eight year old son of Flemensfirth (how did you guess?), he's not had much racing and this will be only his eighth race. He's well regarded at home and should run very well if putting in a clear round, with the step up in trip expected to suit.

Colin runs his 'talking horse', Alary, in the Peter Marsh on Saturday, and I think it's nuts that the French import is so short for the race. Mind you, he needs to be winning that if he's to justify a pretty skinny price for the Gold Cup!

I'm due to ride Virak, who has a right chance, that race. I'll probably be handy, and he was second in this race last year off a seven pound higher mark. A bit of cut is ideal, which he should get, and I'm really looking forward to the ride.

I also ride Irving in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Trial. If he can repeat his Fighting Fifth win he'd almost be the one to beat, but he was disappointing twice before that so definitely needs to put his best foot forward again.

I'm up to 41 winners in the Conditional Jockeys' Championship race now. Jamie Bargary has 27, the same as Dave Noonan, and they are sharing second spot. With more than three months left in the season, I'm not counting my chickens just yet. We all know that you're only ever one tumble away from a long layoff, so we'll keep on pushing.

I've now only got two winners left on my claim, with a career total of 73, so with luck by the time I speak to you next I'll have ridden it out. I guess that's when the hard work really starts!

- Harry

It's always one of the biggest racing days on the horse racing calendar with eight domestic cards, but the festive feature as racing returns after a three day break is always the King George VI Meeting at Kempton Park.

Six races to take in from the Sunbury-On Thames track as punters look to get some of their Xmas expenses paid by finding the winner of the King George VI Chase. So to help you out we've got all the races covered from a trends and stats angle - use these to find the best profiles of past winners  of each race. Enjoy!


Kempton Horse Racing Trends - Monday 26th December 2016

12:55 – 32Red Casino Mobile Novices' Hurdle Race 2m

9/9 – Had raced in the last 8 weeks
8/9 - Aged 4 or 5 years-old
8/9 – Winning distance 3 lengths or more
8/9 – Favourites placed in the top 3
8/9 – Returned 7/2 or shorter in the betting
6/9 – Won just once over hurdles before
6/9 – Winning favourites
6/9 – Had won a NH Flat race before
3/9 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
3/9 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
2/9 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty

1.30 – Chase (A Novices´ Limited Handicap) Chase Cl3 2m4f110y CH4

12/12 – Aged 7 or younger
11/12 – Had won between 0-1 times over fences in the UK
10/12 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
9/12 – Placed 1st or 2nd last time out
8/12 – Placed favourites (1 joint)
6/12 – Officially rated between 119 and 125
6/12 – Carried 11-6 or more
6/12 – Winning distance – 6 lengths or more
6/12 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
5/12 – Won by a French bred horse
5/12 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
3/12 – Won last time out
2/12 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
2/12 – Raced at Kempton last time out

2.05 – 32RedKauto Star Novices´ Chase (In memory of Nigel Clark) (Grade 1) Cl1 3m CH4

13/13 – Placed in the top two last time out
13/13 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
11/13 – Won last time out
10/13 – Returned 5/2 or shorter in the betting
10/13 – Winning distance – 3 lengths or more
9/13 – Aged 6 or younger
9/13 – Had won at least 2 times over fences in the UK
9/13 – French (5) or Irish (4) bred
8/13 – Placed favourites
8/13 – Went onto run in that season’s RSA Chase (no winners)
7/13 – Winning favourites
7/13 – Aged 6 years-old
6/13 – Had won (chase) over at least 3m before
6/13 – Raced at Newbury last time out
2/13 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/13 – Trained by David Pipe
2/13 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
2/13 – Ridden by Tom Scudamore
2/13 – Raced at Cheltenham last time out
1/13 – French trained
1/13 – Went onto run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (One winner - Coneygree 2015)

Note: The 2005 running was staged at Sandown

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2.40 – Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 2m CH4

12/14 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
12/14 – Had won at least 4 times over hurdles before
11/14 – Placed favourites
11/14 – Returned 11/4 or shorter in the betting
8/14 – Went onto run in the Champion Hurdle (Faughan (2015) only winner)
8/14 – Won last time out
8/14 – Irish trained
7/14 – Ran in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Newcastle) last time out
7/14 – Went onto finish in the top 5 in the Champion Hurdle that season
7/14 – Had run over hurdles at Kempton before
7/14 – Winning favourites
5/14 – French bred
4/14 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
4/14 – Trained by Noel Meade
2/14 – Trained by Jonjo O’Neill
2/14 – Trained by Willie Mullins
Faugheen has won the last 2 runnings
Note: The 2005 running was staged at Sandown
The 2010 renewal was run on 15th Jan 2011

3.10 – 32Red King George VI Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 3m CH4

Past King George VI Chase Winners

2015 – Cue Card (9/2)
2014 - Silviniaco Conti (15/8 fav)
2013 – Silviniaco Conti (7/2)
2012 – Long Run (15/8 fav)
2011 – Kauto Star (3/1)
2010 – Long Run (9/2)
2009 – Kauto Star (8/13 fav)
2008 – Kauto Star (10/11 fav)
2007 – Kauto Star (4/6 fav)
2006 – Kauto Star (8/13 fav)
2005 – Kicking King (11/8 fav)
2004 – Kicking King (3/1 fav)
2003 – Edredon Bleu (25/1)
2002 – Best Mate (11/8 fav)
Note: The 2005 renewal was staged at Sandown Park

King George VI Chase Trends

14/14 – Had won a Grade One chase before
13/14 – French (10) or Irish bred (3)
13/14 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
13/14 – Had raced within the last 5 weeks
13/14 – Finished in the top three last time out
12/14 – Placed favourites
12/14 – Officially rated 169 or higher
12/14 – Had won over 3m or further (fences) before
10/14 – Aged 8 or younger
10/14 – Had won a race over fences at Kempton before
9/14 – Winning favourites
9/14 – Won last time out
9/14 – Ran in the Betfair Chase (Haydock) last time out
8/14 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
7/14 – Won by a previous winner of the race
7/14 – Trained by Paul Nicholls (9 times in all)
5/14 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
2/14 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty
2/14 – Ridden by Noel Fehily
2/14 – Won by an Irish-based yard (only 3 in the last 30 runnings)
The average winning SP in the last 14 years is 7/2

15:45 – 32Red On The App Handicap Hurdle Race 2m5f

9/9 – Won no more than 3 times (UK Hurdles)
8/9 – Aged 6 or younger
7/9 – Carried 11-2 or more in weight
7/9 – Won between 0-2 times hurdles (UK)
7/9 – Returned 8/1 or shorter
7/9 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
6/9 – Officially rated 120-128
5/9 – Ran 4 or less weeks ago
5/9 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
5/9 – Unplaced favourites
5/9 – Won last time out
5/9 – French bred
3/9 – Winning favourites
2/9 – Trained by Nicky Henderson


Trainers Quotes


"Ballylare - Claimed out of the John Best yard a few weeks ago. Therefore, not had the horse long, but seems well and based on his form should have a decent each-way chance here, but we'll obviously learn a lot more about the horse after this."
Lee Carter

19/12/16 1st 8/1

"Plutocracy - Well drawn in stall 1 and gets in here off the same mark as when a fair third last time out at Kempton over this trip. Not won since 2013, but a very consistent horse that is never far away in his races. 3 recent winners are feared, but we head here with another solid-looking each-way chance."
Gary Moore

18/12/16 1st 8/1



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Wednesday's Result :

3.20 Ffos Las : Copper Birch @ 11/4 BOG 5th at 5/4 (Heavily backed and stayed in touch, jumped slow 6th, soon lost place and outpaced, plugged on before 3 out, never dangerous, beaten by 21 lengths - sigh!)

Thursday's pick goes in the...

2.45 Wincanton :

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.


Tikkapick @ 5/2 BOG


This 6 yr old gelding has still to win, but does seem suited by a stamina test akin to the one he'll face today. He's on a reduced/workable mark, but despite a lack of wins has been there or thereabouts of late, finishing 24323 in is last five outings.

His yard couldn't be in better form either and although he's hardly one of the yard's leading lights, his trainer Colin Tizzard is certainly the man of the moment! 8 winners from 25 (32% SR) has given way to 3 winners from 8 over the past week and those have contained some really high profile runners.

We're not quite pitching a that level today, nor are we on one the "prestige tracks", but recent times have been kind to Mr Tizzard and his string when making the short journey to this local venue with 15 winners from 77 runners (19.5% SR) since the start of 2015, resulting in profits of 25.2pts at an ROI of 32.7%, not bad at all for just popping down the road!

With today's race in mind, those 77 runners can be further assessed as follows...

  • males are 13/66 (19.7%) for 30.8pts (+46.7%)
  • during October to February : 15/56 (26.8%) for 46.2pts (+82.4%)
  • in handicaps : 13/49 (26.5%) for 49.2pts (+100.5%)
  • over fences : 9/28 (32.1%) for 40.7pts (+145.5%)
  • after a break of 6-20 days : 5/26 (19.2%) for 34.8pts (+133.8%)
  • and at trips of 3m 1f / 3m 2.5f : 3/8 (37.5%) for 28.6pts (+357%)

AND...Male handicap chasers running in that October to February period are 9 from 23 (39.1% SR) for profits of 45.7pts at an ROI of 198.9%.

...directing us to...a 1pt win bet on Tikkapick at 5/2 BOG from Bet365, Betfair Sports, Betfred, Racebets and/or Totesport, as of 6.20pm on Wednesday. To see your preferred bookies' odds, simply... here for the betting on the 2.45 Wincanton

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


Here is today's racecard

Thirty-six Mondays ago, I was thinking about giving Dan Skelton a call, writes Tony Stafford. At the time, Raymond Tooth had a couple of pretty ordinary jumpers in the yard and they were both being prepared for a return after a midwinter break. In the end I decided not to.

Later that afternoon I was looking through the results and noticed that he’d sent two horses totally unheralded to Enghien – his first runners as a trainer in France – and they had both won. A case of lightning striking twice, you might say. The fact that one, a three-year-old debutante called Mont Lachaud could start at almost 19-1 and win a €24k first prize by 14 lengths was extraordinary.

But then the more experienced Shelford, having his first run almost a year on from his fifth place in the 2015 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, also collected a big pot – in his case €28,800. To do so, and by 20 lengths at more than 14-1, defied belief.

A fiver double would have been nice – around £1,500 – but the fact that Dan, Harry and everyone at Lodge Farm could even countenance such a spectacularly successful raid, was the most impressive element to my mind. It ranks up there with Gordon Elliott’s first Grand National winner when he’d hardly even had a runner in his native Ireland. That was before dad Nick Skelton’s Rio gold medal, too.

Shelford might have been sent on to a second County Hurdle attempt carrying the penalty if he’d had the misfortune of being in a different yard, but instead he went back to Enghien 44 days later and won again, this time less extravagantly in terms of distance and odds, but with €40,800 in the bank. It came almost as a shock when in a third French foray, he and Harry Skelton were foiled by a nose at Auteuil in late June, €20,400 providing reasonable consolation.

Mont Lachaux has also undergone a return trip, again to Auteuil, where he met some of the better early domestic juveniles, finishing a close third in a well-contested affair.

Why, you ask, do I choose today to rehash all that rigmarole? Well, if you believe in lightning striking twice, twice, then go along to your local betting shop – or maybe Racing UK or Attheraces will be up to speed - and watch the 1.25 (local 2.25) and 2.25 (local 3.25) races from Enghien. I’ll be taking close attention at Newmarket sales.

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Dan Skelton has sent back both March’s winners for today’s fixture. Their three aggregate victories all came on officially “very soft” ground. Today, they will encounter “collant a lourd” – holding to heavy, which should be right up their boulevard.

Each is aiming at a Grade 3 prize of €60k to the winner and runs again over the identical distance, just under two miles for the juvenile; two miles, three furlongs for Shelford. Expectations for the latter will not have been diminished by the excellent fettle of the stable’s other high-class hurdlers, North Hill Harvey collecting £56k in Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday last week and Ch’Tibello earning £61k in Haydock’s Betfair Price Rush Hurdle on Saturday.


Saturday’s big prize at Haydock, run on much heavier ground than might have been expected a couple of weeks back when trainers were crying out for rain, provided an ideal comeback opportunity for 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Coneygree. Coincidentally, because of his helpful pacemaking under Richard Johnson, it brought an equally satisfactory third Betfair Chase success for the seemingly evergreen and ever-improving Cue Card for the unstoppable Tizzards.

While not quite in the Gordon Elliott or Willie Mullins situation of having multiple options for almost every major race, especially in Ireland, Colin Tizzard could have one impossible choice to make, almost in the “which is your favourite child” degree of difficulty.

Cue Card’s winning at Haydock means all he’ll need to do to qualify for the available £1 million bonus is to add Kempton’s King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. As trainer’s son, Joe, said at Ascot on Saturday, “no one else can win it!” The snag is that if the bonus is still on come March, one of the bigger obstacles for Cue Card’s winning it is the stable’s own Thistlecrack, more likely to go there than challenge for a second World Hurdle, but possibly more likely to run in the RSA than either of those.

A few years back, one now defunct betting exchange formulated a similar bonus for three equivalent major hurdle races, the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and the Champion Hurdle. Punjabi won the first of them – rerouted to Wetherby – but fell when looking the probable winner two out at Kempton. Had he stood up, his Champion Hurdle chance, when clearly less fancied than stablemate Binocular, might have been taken more seriously.

Of course, had he won at Kempton, would he then have gone on to Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle, when frankly he disappointed and possibly been less fit and prepared for the big day? When I saw Punjabi in his paddock in Shropshire the other week, he was still reminding us that it was he that won the big one almost eight years ago.

They don’t often come back, so it was great to see Sire De Grugy collect another big prize off top weight at Ascot. It was almost as though Gary Moore had whispered into his ear that Sprinter Sacre was out of the way, so maybe it was time for him to come to the fore again.

Cue Card, Sire De Grugy and to a lesser extent Coneygree, served notice last weekend that the enthusiasts who follow jumping in preference to the comparatively ephemeral Flat racing code of the sport, have more familiar names to latch on to every winter than their counterparts.

All three senior pros, interestingly, are with connections and indeed stables not totally in the top bracket, although Gary Moore could hardly have more influence on the sport than through his family with Ryan, Jamie, Josh and their media-involved sister Hayley, while Tizzard is rapidly moving towards the top six jumping stables in the UK, helped by some new bigger investors.

Some of the big Irish cards are worth watching, often on Sundays, but with smallish fields at Punchestown yesterday when there were three Gigginstown horses in each of the first two Graded races (five and then six runners) and three more for Mullins in the five-runner Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle, it’s sometimes hard to match the enthusiasm of the Attheraces presenters. Yesterday’s fog at the track which blotted out much of the action, didn’t help the entertainment value either.

Meanwhile at Cork, the other Irish meeting yesterday, the weather was contrastingly lovely but everyone else had to scrap for the left-overs with fields of 24, 15, 14, 12 and 18 lining up for the first five events. If they think it is hard now competing against Mullins, Elliott, Meade and the rest, imagine how tough it will become when Joseph Patrick O’Brien fully gets his feet under the jumping table.

Tuesday's Result :

4.40 Lingfield : Ask The Guru @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 7/2 (Tracked leaders in 4th, ridden inside final furlong, kept on to take 2nd towards finish)

Wednesday's runner goes in the...

2.45 Wincanton:

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.


Quite by Chance @ 11/4 BOG


This 7yr old gelding is in excellent form, finishing 112 in his last three outings and only narrowly (0.75 lengths) failed to compete his hat-trick last time out despite conceding 20lbs (inc a 5lb jockey claim) to the useful Anthony Honeyball runner As de Fer.

Quite by Chance might well only be 4 from 25 to date, but that doesn't tell the whole story about a horse who is 4/15 in handicap chases with all four wins coming from 10 efforts going right handed and 4 from 10 is much better on the eye!

Of that 4 from 10 record, he is 3 from 6 (21P112) here at Wincanton, 3 from 5 in fields of 8/9 runners (3 from 3 here!), he's 2 from 3 on soft ground and has one win and one runner-up finish over this track and trip, so conditions look perfect here for him.

His trainer, Colin Tizzard's horses have won 4 of 13 (30.8% SR) in the last week, whilst his chasers are 5 from 12 (41.7% SR) over the past fortnight and it's his chasers that interest me here, as since the start of 2015, they have won 7 of 21 (33.3% SR) races here at Wincanton, generating level stakes profits of 28.8pts at an ROI of 137.2% and whilst 21 runners (all male!) in 14 months is a fairly small sample size, it does throw up some interesting angles that are valid today...

  • handicappers are 7/20 (35% SR) for 29.8pts (+149% ROI)
  • those carrying 10-09 and more are 6/16 (37.5% SR) for 30.3pts (+189.5% ROI)
  • those rated (OR) 114 to 135 are 7/15 (46.7% SR) for 34.8pts (+232% ROI)
  • Class 3 runners are 6/13 (46.2% SR) for 33.3pts (+256.3% ROI)
  • On soft ground : 5/12 (41.7% SR) for 26.9pts (+224% ROI)
  • those priced at 4/1 and shorter are 5/12 (41.7% SR) for 10.15pts (+84.6% ROI)
  • those racing at 2m4f/2m4.5f are 4/11 (36.4% SR) for 13.28pts (+120.7% ROI)
  • 7 yr olds are 4/7 (57.1% SR) for 17.3pts (+246.9% ROI)
  • those ridden by Paddy Brennan are 2/4 (50% SR) for 2.82pts (+71.4% ROI)

And if 21 is a small sample, the secondary stat comes from an original dataset of a mere 3630 runners! As that's how many times a Midnight Legend offspring has hit the track! Regular readers will know of my fondness of this sire, as backing his progeny produces profits.

If you'd backed every Midnight Legend runner since the start of 2008, you'd have celebrated 459 winners from 3202 bets at a strike rate better than 1-in-7 (14.33% SR).

A £20 wager on each runner returns overall profits of £12608, a 19.7% return on all stakes invested. From profitably blind backing over 3200 horses, there is clearly going be a whole host of angles I could (but won't!) bring you, but suffice to say that since the start of 2009, Midnight Legend's handicap chasers are 143/810 (17.7% SR) for 389.8pts (+48.1% ROI), with the following data of particular relevance today...

  • Males are 115/623 (18.5% SR) for 321.4pts (+51.6% ROI)
  • 6-8 yr olds are 90/438 (20.6% SR) for 229.3pts (+52.4% ROI)
  • Class 3 runners are 37/244 (15.2% SR) for 115pts (+47.1% ROI)
  • On soft ground : 29/170 (17.1% SR) for 34.1pts (+20.1% ROI)
  • here at Wincanton : 10/41 (24.4% SR) for 11.7pts (+28.4% ROI)

So today's play is...a 1pt win bet on Quite by Chance at 11/4 BOG with any one of the eight firms, who are currently (6.15pm) offering that price. To see what your preferred outlet is quoting, simply... here for the betting on the 2.45 Wincanton

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


Here is today's racecard...

Friday's Result :

6.45 Wolverhampton : Perfect Cracker @ 5/1 BOG 2nd at 13/2 (Tracked leaders, went 2nd over 2f out, led over 1f out, headed well inside final furlong, no impression close home, beaten by a length)

Saturday's runner goes in the...

2.45 Wetherby :

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.


Native River @ 7/2 BOG


Native River has 5 wins from just 10 attempts over obstacles and has finished 3113 in his four races over fences. To date, his 10 outings have yielded the following results...

  • 5 from 9 under Brendan Powell (2/4 in chases)
  • 4 wins and 2 places from 7 in races of 1 to 7 runners (2 wins, 2 places from 4 over fences)
  • 2 wins from 4 on soft (1/1 in chases)
  • 1 win and 1 place from 3 over 3 miles (1 win, 1 place from 2 3m chases)
  • 1 from 2 at grade 2 (1/1 over fences)

So conditions look ideal for Native River today and he's best in at the weights, officially rated at 153, he's the class horse here and Colin Tizzard has no hesitation in sending him almost 300 miles to Wetherby when both Sandown and Ffos Las offered closer options.

Mind you, Colin does well with his winter travellers, as since the start of 2102, those NH runners sent over 200 miles to race in the winter months (ie October to March) have won 16 of 49 (32.7% SR) for 59.1pts (+120.6% ROI) level stakes profits and before I drill down into those runners, I'll just tell you that all of them are males!

49 runners isn't the largest sample size I've broughtr you, but even so, it does throw up a whole host of profitable angles and I'm going to give you a dozen that are all relevant today...

  • those priced at 12/1 and shorter : 16/41 (39%SR) for 67.1pts (+163.7% ROI)
  • chasers are 11/38 (29% SR) for 32.6pts (+85.9% ROI)
  • those competing at 2m3.5f to 3m1f are 14/37 (37.8% SR) for 58.6pts (+158.5% ROI)
  • top 6 finishers LTO are 16/36 (44.4% SR) for 72.1pts (+200.3% ROI)
  • those last seen 11-60 days ago are 11/30 (36.7% SR) for 53.4pts (+178.1% ROI)
  • those competing for prizes of less than £13k : 9/24 (37.5% SR) for 31.9pts (+132.7% ROI)
  • soft ground : 8/19 (42.1% SR) for 49.4pts (+259.8% ROI)
  • non-hcps : 7/18 (38.9% SR) for 27.8pts (+154.2% ROI)
  • ridden by Brendan Powell : 5/15 (33.33% SR) for 31.9pts (+212.8% ROI)
  • Class 1 : 5/15 (33.33% SR) for 25.9pts (+172.5% ROI)
  • Novices : 4/10 (40% SR) for 12.44pts (+124.4% ROI)
  • here at Wetherby : 3/5 (60% SR) for 10.14pts (+202.8% ROI)

And my recommended bet, based on my data and prices available at 10.15pm is...

A 1pt bet on Native River and that's at 7/2 BOG from any of Betfair SB, Coral, Hills and/or Racebets, whilst Stan James offer the same, but are non-BOG until 10.00am on racedays, so to pick your preferred bookie... here for the betting on the 2.45 Wetherby

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


Here is today's racecard...

2014 Champion Bumper Preview, Trends, Tips

Mr Champion Bumper: Willie Mullins

Mr Champion Bumper: Willie Mullins

One of the hardest races of the Festival to unravel is the only one without any obstacles to clear: the Champion Bumper. The last race on day two, this is a contest between twenty-plus thoroughly unexposed talents, where potential ability is considerably more important than what the rookies have achieved on the track to date. Despite this seemingly unfathomable proposition, there are some fair trends to assist the whittling process.

2014 Champion Bumper Trends

16 of the 21 Champion Bumpers have been won by Irish-trained horses. Willie Mullins is singlehandedly responsible for half of those winners, including at odds of 12/1, 16/1 and 25/1 in his last three successes.

Fourteen of the last sixteen winners also won their previous start. The other two winners finished second and fourth last time out.

Cue Card was precocious enough to win this as a four-year-old, as were Rhythm Section (1993) and Dato Star (1995). There have also been four six-year-old winners. The other fourteen winners were aged five. In the past sixteen years, 5yo's have been responsible for 31 of the 48 placed horses (65%) from 58% of the runners.

Six of the last sixteen winners came here off a single previous run; three had two runs; five had three runs; and two had had four previous races.

All of the last sixteen winners and all bar two of the placed horses were sent off at 8/1 or shorter on their final start before contesting the Champion Bumper.

2014 Champion Bumper Preview

It takes a certain amount of progression to win the Champion Bumper, as you might expect. But how much? Again, as you might expect, this is one of those 'how long is a piece of string' type questions, but there is at least a pointer in the historical performances of Cheltenham Champion Bumper winners.

I looked at those winners with three or four previous starts; those with two previous starts; and those with a single prior race. The full data is below, based on Racing Post Ratings. Each line shows: horse name - form figures - RPR/RPR/RPR - Champion Bumper winning RPR.

3 or 4 previous runs
Dunguib - 211 - 102/132/146- 151
Cork All Star - 111 - 109/119/136- 138
Hairy Molly - 2131 - 113/103/127/131- 133
Missed That - 011 - 85/103/134- 136
Total Enjoyment - 311 - 108/116/122- 135
Liberman - 2112 - 97/111/93/127- 142
Monsignor - 134 - 113/121/116- 138

Average improvement from best to Champion Bumper winning RPR: +8

2 previous runs
Champagne Fever - 21 - 126/138- 142
Cheltenian - 21 - 115/118- 138
Pizarro - 11 - 126/127- 152

Average improvement from best to Champion Bumper winning RPR: +16

1 previous run
Briar Hill - 1 - 115-141
Cue Card - 1 - 110-138
Cousin Vinny - 1 - 126-138
Joe Cullen - 1 - 118-149
Alexander Banquet - 1 - 115-142
Florida Pearl - 1 - 134-136

Average improvement from best to Champion Bumper winning RPR: +21

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This is interesting, as it implies we can expect a twice-raced horse to improve twice as much as a more experienced entry if it is to win here, and we can expect a sole starter to mature by around a stone and a half on Racing Post figures.

These are benchmarks only, but they can help when looking at so many 'could be anything' types. In a race which has returned winners at 50/1, 40/1, 33/1, 25/1, 16/1 and 14/1 three times, I will begin the form preview at the 'raggy' end of the market...

...and the first horse to take my eye is David Pipe's Seven Nation Army, a 33/1 shot (86 on Betfair). This son of Rock Of Gibraltar flopped on heavy ground last time, having previously looked progressive on his first race of the season. Horses have overcome a last time out defeat to win the Bumper, and it's a race that owner Roger Brookhouse is fond of, having won it with Cheltenian in 2011.

I'm not suggesting that Seven Nation Army is the most likely winner, but he could run well at a huge price, given expected improvement for better ground, and his established level of form when winning a decent Listed bumper at Newbury on soft.

Another expected to enjoy the quicker turf is Stack The Deck. A son of Beneficial, he was outstayed by Black Hercules on soft the last day, but should travel better for longer on sounder footing.

Our Kaempfer took a big step forward when 3rd last time out on this course, and on good ground. It is not out of the question for him to improve the required amount based on his ratings, though there would be more likely candidates.

Definitly Red is unbeaten in two heavy ground runs, the second of which was a Listed contest, and his sire Definite Article gets plenty of good ground horses. With the prospect that decent ground could see him take another step forward, Definitly Red is interesting at 25/1.

Silver Concorde has obviously been hard to train, his three runs being spread over three seasons. Still a six year old, however, Dermot Weld's Dansili gelding traveled easily before extending away from Volvalien and the rest. That form looks fair and, though he hasn't run since late December, the Champion Bumper is a race where horses can win off a longer than normal absence.

Winner of his only start, El Namoose will be bidding to give trainer John Ferguson his first Cheltenham winner, and though the form of his Musselburgh win isn't working out amazingly, he could hardly have been more impressive there, strolling away for a four length verdict. He was moving away from his field at the finish, and is bred for this sort of job.

Golantilla was actually 3rd in this last year, though he was below that form when thumped by Killultagh Vic last time out. He will surely improve for that seasonal bow, but has less scope than many and looks susceptible to at least one of many potential huge progressives.

Value At Risk represents controversial trainer Philip Fenton, who is being investigated for possession of steroids. The BHA conducted their own tests on his Cheltenham-bound horses (a trio completed by former Champion Bumper winner, Dunguib, and Last Instalment) and found no traces of steroids, thus clearing the Fenton team to make the trip.

Ignoring the sideshow, Value At Risk boasts some strong form. He was second on his first and only start last season, in a race which has worked out very well. Behind that day were Western Boy (twice a winner since and less than a length behind Supreme second favourite, Vautour, in a Grade 2 last time), Wicklow Brave (a subsequent five time winner and third favourite for the Supreme), and Gambling Girl (winner of three since, including a mares' Grade 3).

Since that fine debut, he's won his other two races in workmanlike fashion, first when making all and holding on from Windsor Park (winner since), the pair clear; and last time when traveling well before quickening clear of Draco. His amateur pilot is a slight concern, but that didn't stop stable mate Dunguib claiming this prize in 2009.

Vigil could be a second entry from the Dermot Weld yard, and this two-time starter looks to have a lot more to come. A three length runner up on his debut (third has won since, winner not raced again), he followed up in good style in a Leopardstown bumper a month ago. He was extremely impressive there, traveling beautifully before extending away without coming under pressure, and on a line through solid yardstick Valvolien he must have a chance, especially granted average progression.

And that leaves a Willie Mullins trio, Shaneshill, Killultagh Vic and Black Hercules. The last named is currently favourite for the race, but that looks like it might change, as he wants more give in the ground. He took plenty of time to get going the last day and, though he eventually pulled eight lengths clear of the Montys Meadow and Stack The Deck, he looks an out and out stayer.

Shaneshill on the other hand should improve for better ground and could well go off favourite late on Wednesday afternoon. He looks a nice big sort and he finished his race off really well when beating The Herds Garden et al last time. That race has worked out poorly so far, with none of the dozen subsequent starters winning, but the victor could not have done any more. Shaneshill has been absent from the track since the end of November, most likely awaiting better ground.

Mullins was quoted on these two thus, "Black Hercules is a good horse and that was a good performance. He´ll be entered for the Cheltenham bumper but whether he´d be as effective on good ground remains to be seen. He might have another run before we decide. The same owners have Shaneshill and he might be a more suitable horse for the Cheltenham race"

Killultagh Vic might just be better than both. He bolted up by sixteen lengths from Golantilla in a performance that was visually stunning and earned a Racing Post Rating in accordance with what the eye saw. I do have a nagging doubt that the winner was flattered by the second 'blowing up' (lack of fitness telling, rather than exploding, mercifully), and it's enough for me to look elsewhere.

Finally, one well worth noting for the future is Royal Vacation, from the Cue Card connections of Mrs Jean Bishop and Colin Tizzard. Like Cue Card when he won the Champion Bumper, Royal Vacation is a four year old. Unlike Cue Card, he didn't win on his debut, but he did run an extremely eye-catching race. It would not be exaggerating to say he was tailed off turning in at Ascot, and yet, by the finish he was a closing four length fourth.

He earned an RPR of 104 for that and hinted at the sort of improvement Cue Card found with the manner of the performance. Cue Card earned a 110 for his Fontwell debut win before going on to notch a 138 in taking the Champion Bumper. A similar scale of improvement would put Royal Vacation in the shake up and it is interesting that connections are willing to pitch him into the race. A shilling each way at 50/1 could see a place return.

2014 Champion Bumper Tips

As you'll have gathered from the above, it's a wide open race. The nature of results historically attests to the borderline pointless ambition of trying to nominate a winner and, with that in mind, I'll take a couple of big prices and a shortie against the field.

I really like the look of what Vigil has done so far, and his run style - effortlessly cruising through his races - will be well suited to a test like this. Dermot Weld wouldn't have the best record at Cheltenham - 0 from 27 since 2003 - but he has seen one of his five Champion Bumper runners make the frame (Rite Of Passage), and Vigil could at least match that achievement. 10/1 is worth taking.

Of the Mullins triumvirate, I prefer Shaneshill, despite the 102 day absence and the ostensibly poor form of his last win. I think he traveled really well, a huge asset in this as I've alluded to already, and he could bounce off the expected goodish ground. He's 8/1 with Hills (all in run or not) and I can see him going off favourite on the day.

As a throwaway bet, Royal Vacation could offer an exhilarating thrill. He'll not be asked to do anything in a hurry, but if he can hang on to the shirttails of the main pack until they turn in, it's possible to envisage a swashbuckling dash up the Cheltenham hill. Of course, he may also fail to replicate that last day finish and/or show it to be moderate form in the context of this race. But 50/1 overstates that probability, in my opinion.

Most likely winner (tenuous):
Shaneshill 8/1 Hills

Each way alternative:
Vigil 10/1 bet365

Huge priced rag with a tiny squeak:
Royal Vacation 50/1 bet365



Colin Tizzard

Look out for the Tizzard horses

More trainer clues and stats as Andy Newton's got six more hot yard to look out for this week....... Read more


Great Action At Newbury On Saturday

Plenty more Cheltenham clues on offer this weekend – Andy Newton’s got all the main races from Newbury, Warwick & Leopardstown covered for you...... Read more

Stat of the Day 01/01/13

Stat of the Day 01/01/13

Stat of the Day, 1st January 2013

Happy New Year to one and all and welcome to my first SotD missive of the year! We're off to Haldon Hill in "Sunny" Devon today for a Class 4 Beginners' Chase over 2 miles, 3.5 furlongs (3900m to the metric brigade who seem intent on getting their way this year!). The ground is quite predictably testing and we've got eight runners lined up for the...

1.30 Exeter

Colin Tizzard has a pretty good record here at Exeter, with a more than respectable eight winners from thirty-five (22.9%) in the last two years alone and a further six of those horses made the frame to give a place strike rate of exactly 40%.

Yet, he/we can refine those figures further by isolating his chasers from the rest of his string. In fact, his record in Exeter chase events over the last two years have shown us some excellent results. 2011 was decent enough with two winners from eight, with one other horse being placed, but 2012 was very good indeed.

Colin's record here in chases over the whole of 2012 read 3131171P, four winners from eight =50% strike rate generating 15.9pts profit at SP (+198.75%) and E/W backers were rewarded  on five out of seven occasions to the tune of 22.2pts (+158.6% ROI).

Colin actually sends four horses on the relatively short 60-odd mile journey South West to Exeter today from his Dorset base at Milborne Port, but three are set to compete in the day's opening two races, a couple of 2m 3f hurdle contests. This leaves both Mr Tizzard and ourselves just the one chaser to consider: Theatrical Star.

Theatrical Star has been a consistent sort in his fairly short career, without actually ripping up any trees. After an indifferent spell (636 record) in bumpers, he has since made the frame on five occasions from nine attempts, with a maiden win coming on his hurdling debut. His overall hurdling form was pretty decent (147353) before being sent chasing, where he looked an even better prospect here at Exeter on his chase debut finishing third. He ran well again in his subsequent outing at Ascot, where he was a very creditable second to the impressive Minella Class at Ascot, just over five weeks ago, finishing ahead of Restless Harry who has gone on to win since.

Theatrical Star was admittedly disappointing at Taunton last time out, but he got bumped about a bit that day and seemed to lose all fluency. Hopefully he can stay out of trouble today and get back into some decent form again. Both his own record and that of his trainer in Exeter chases suggest that an E/W bet would be the safe and prudent option today and the presence of an odds-on favourite will serve to give us a price we can work with. At 10.50am 10/1 BOG was quite widely available, so my play today is 0.5pts E/W on Theatrical Star at 10/1 BOG with bet365, but you can always see what your favoured bookie is offering by taking the opportunity to...

Click here for the latest betting on the 1.30 Exeter

For a full review of SotD's 2012 performance, just click here and the month by month breakdown since we started back in November 2011 is right here.

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