Double delight for title-chasing Skelton at Huntingdon

Harry Skelton kept up the pressure on Brian Hughes in the race for the jockeys’ title with a double for brother Dan on Go Steady and Antunes at Huntingdon on Thursday.

Skelton knows that in order to threaten the championship won for the first time by Hughes last season he will have to rely largely on his home stable remaining in cracking form.

But he stressed the importance of obtaining increased support from outside yards, saying: “The winners are coming really well, touch wood, and I will keep tipping away, even though it is going to be difficult.

“Brian gets a lot of rides, but our horses are in great form. I just need a few extra winners from outside to keep the pressure on.”

On 100-30 shot Go Steady in the Mansionbet’s Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase, Skelton was rewarded for his perseverance as he reeled in Rob The Getaway.

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He said: “He’s going the right way. He was a bit unfortunate at Fontwell when he landed on a ditch and unseated Bridget (Andrews). He’s a horse that likes to get the sun on his back, and I hope he’ll continue to progress.”

Skelton spent the latter part of the Mansionbet’s Bet 10 Get 20 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase in isolation on 9-4 chance Antunes, who completely dominated the contest after the departure of 6-4 favourite Timetochill.

Fable gave her supporters an anxious moment when losing ground halfway down the back stretch in the mares’ maiden hurdle, but Nico de Boinville remained patient on the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old who came through to outpoint Juniper and long time leader Lady Of The Night.

The even-money favourite will according to her rider appreciate a further step up in trip on a more galloping track.

He said: “The track rode a bit tighter than on her run at Wincanton and the ground was dead and tacky. She struggled to hold her position going down the back but she’s really gutsy, and when I asked her away she went, showing a fighting spirit.”

Gavin Sheehan had to content himself with second on Juniper in that race – but the jockey had earlier connected with Brave Seasca flooring 11-10 shot Interconnected in the Mansionbet’s Watch And Bet Novices’ Hurdle.

Sheehan said: “I was impressed with the way he jumped. He got in a bit tight to a couple, but then winged the flights in the back and got a flier at the second-last, after which I always thought I was going to win.

“His form had worked out and I think that long term he’s a rangy, scopey chaser in the making.”

Liam Harrison needs just two more winners to see his claim reduced to 5lb after the battling success of No No Juliet in the Mares’ Handicap Chase.

The 5-2 winner grabbed Ellens Way approaching the last and stayed on in determined fashion to score by a length and three-quarters, with The Toojumpa just a neck further away.

The jockey said: “Her Wetherby run was not long off the back of her previous race, so she’d been given a bit more time between races. She was a bit cold early in the race today, but really warmed to the task as the race progressed.”

Malina Ocarina posted a 20-1 shock when coming home three and a half lengths clear of Great Hall for Gary Hanmer and Charlie Todd in the Mansionbet’s Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle.

Remastered engineers Reynoldstown triumph

Remastered put in an exemplary jumping display to make every yard of the running for trainer David Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore in the Grade Two Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot.

The 9-2 winner is likely to head to the National Hunt Chase or Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival – for which he is respectively 20-1 (from 33) and 25-1 (from 33) with Paddy Power.

Remastered appeared to face a major threat from 5-2 favourite Demachine rounding the home turn, but Pipe’s front-runner found extra to score by four lengths.

Scudamore was suitably impressed, and said: “He jumped superbly all the way round, and fences have made a real man of him.

“He’s unbeaten over fences and has really taken to them. He’s got plenty of options at Cheltenham. He’s only run once there before, but that was over hurdles and a couple of years ago.”

Second-favourite Sevarano pulled up in the early stages – while Kalooki looked dangerous until hitting the final ditch, four out, and then fading to finish a distant third.

Sadly, Sevarano suffered a fatal injury – confirmed via Twitter by the Oliver Sherwood stable.

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A tweet read: “We are all devastated to lose Sevarano today @ascot_races. He had the world at his feet. He was such a lovely laid-back gentleman who didn’t deserve his life to end this way. Thank you for all your wonderful memories.”

In the opening Novices’ Hurdle, the market told the story as Midnight River usurped Gallyhill as favourite – and then got the better of that rival in a rousing finish.

One True King made a bold attempt to lead throughout, but a mistake at the penultimate flight set him back – leaving 5-4 shot Midnight River and Harry Skelton to beat Gallyhill and Nico de Boinville by a length and a half.

Harry Skelton and Midnight River (left) jump the last
Harry Skelton and Midnight River (left) jump the last (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

After riding another winner for his brother Dan, Skelton said: “He’s a horse we’ve always liked, with a good attitude.

“He used to be a bit free but has been taught to settle, and I think the best is yet to come because he’s a three-mile chaser of the future.

“We might look at Cheltenham, and certainly Aintree, but fences are the main objective.”

The Skeltons completed a double when Captain Chaos made virtually all the running in the ‘My Oddsboost’ On Betfair Swinley Limited Handicap Chase.

Harry Skelton after riding Captain Chaos to victory
Harry Skelton after riding Captain Chaos to victory (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Accompanied by Cobolobo for three-quarters of the three-mile journey, the 10-1 winner shook off the attentions of that rival turning for home, but in the end was all out to hold the late rally of Regal Encore by a head.

The strongly-supported 3-1 favourite Jerrysback recovered from an early mistake to track the clear leaders, but then lost touch and was pulled up by Richard Johnson.

Harry Skelton praised the accurate jumping of the winner and observed: “He really enjoyed himself and took off again when Jonjo’s (O’Neill jnr, on Cobolobo) horse came back at him. It was a brilliant jumping display and all credit to our superb team who worked so hard during the bad weather.”

A fantastic treble for the Skeltons was achieved in carbon-copy fashion as Shannon Bridge served it up to his foes from the front in the Betfair Cheltenham Free Bet Pot Builder Handicap Hurdle.

Shannon Bridge capped a fine day's work at Ascot for Dan and Harry Skelton
Shannon Bridge capped a fine day’s work at Ascot for Dan and Harry Skelton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

In the knowledge his mount liked to be competitive, Harry Skelton wasted no time in sending his 12-1 partner to the front and although under strong pressure before two out the eight-year-old kept responding.

He was briefly headed by 80-1 outsider Thibault on the run-in, but instantly regained the initiative to pull two lengths clear.

Skelton observed: “Our owners are great about the way I ride the horses and never stick me down to do one thing or the other. Shannon Bridge likes to get on with it, and the blinkers have helped. He just idled a bit over the last two hurdles, but just as suddenly he took off again.”

Adam West was thrilled with bargain-basement purchase Thibault, saying: “He cost a grand and has been a revelation since we put him back over hurdles. He’s given us another great thrill today.”

There was a sad postscript to the race, with the popular L’Ami Serge quickly pulled up after the sixth flight, having looked to have gone wrong. Yalltari, in the race won by Captain Chaos, was another casualty.

Ascot’s director of racing and public affairs Nick Smith extended his sympathy to all those involved with the three horses.

He said: “It’s always very sad when these things happen, and we extend our sympathy to all the connections.”

Harry Cobden takes over on Politologue at Ascot

Harry Cobden will be back aboard Politologue in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday, after Harry Skelton agreed to relinquish the ride.

Skelton steered the Paul Nicholls-trained grey to victory in both the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last season and the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December.

However, Skelton is set to have a clash of interests when it comes to this year’s Champion Chase in March. He is stable jockey to his brother Dan and they have a leading contender in Nube Negra, who defeated Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last month.

Harry Skelton celebrates winning the Champion Chase with Politologue
Harry Skelton celebrates winning the Champion Chase with Politologue (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Skeltons, and their father, Olympic showjumper Nick, are long-standing friends of Politologue’s owner John Hales. They are believed to have discussed the matter, resulting in Skelton giving up the ride.

Nicholls confirmed to the PA news agency Cobden will be back in the plate for Politologue’s last race before he defends his Champion Chase crown.

Cobden has ridden Politologue six times, winning the Tingle Creek in 2017 and finishing second to Altior in the Champion Chase in 2019.

Politologue is the 5-4 favourite with Coral for the Ascot feature, ahead of King George third Waiting Patiently at 5-2.

Coral’s David Stevens said: “Politologue gave Harry Skelton his biggest win when the pair won last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, but it will be Harry Cobden on board the grey this weekend and at the Cheltenham Festival, although Harry Skelton still has a chance of winning the race again this March, with Nube Negra one of the leading contenders at 10-1.”

Harry Skelton enjoys afternoon to savour with Grade One double

Nothing will ever top Harry Skelton’s wedding day – but a Grade One double at Sandown highlighted by a second Betfair Tingle Creek success for Politologue ensured he celebrated another day to remember.

Success on the biggest stage has been plentiful for Skelton in recent seasons, and having steered the Paul Nicholls-trained grey to Queen Mother Champion Chase glory at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the pair teamed up to secure more top-level success together.

Watched by a crowd of 1,827, the 11-8 favourite defeated stablemate Greaneteen by seven lengths, in a race that came immediately after Skelton had partnered Allmankind, trained by his brother, Dan, to victory in the Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.

Skelton said: “It’s not a bad afternoon. Marrying my wife was pretty good so that would have to come top of the list, but this is a close second. It was a magic 45 minutes.

“Politologue was very good. He jumped the first two very well and I felt like I was in control of it then. When he was pricking his ears turning in where the Pond Fence is usually jumped I thought ‘there is plenty left in the tank here’. It is certainly a day I will never forget.

“To be honest I was coming here very relaxed. I knew I had two good rides and on their best form, and if they put their best performances up, they would be bang there and that is exactly what they have done.”

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While the decision made by Nicky Henderson to declare Altior 24 a non-runner on Friday evening robbed the Tingle Creek of some of its gloss, Skelton believes it would have taken something special to stop Politologue claiming the fourth Grade One of his career.

He said: “A horse like Altior is a fantastic horse and he was the strongest competition, but on the ground I’d rode on on Friday wasn’t too worried and they obviously took him out because of that.

“It made the job a bit easier, but it would have taken a good horse to have beaten him today. It is remarkable really.”

Having cut his teeth jumping with Nicholls, the 31-year-old praised the 11-times champion trainer for the part he has played in helping to rejuvenate the career of the John Hales-owned gelding.

He added: “He is getting older, but Paul just seems to make him younger somehow. I’ve sat on him a couple of times this time around in the autumn and a couple of weeks ago I schooled him and he did feel like a young horse. He felt fantastic.

“He is going to be lightly raced and I imagine he might have one run, then go for the Champion Chase. Hopefully I will retain the ride on him.”

Harry Skelton and Politologue in full flight
Harry Skelton and Politologue in full flight (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Though enjoying plenty of time centre stage lately there was a time not so long ago where winners were hard to come by for Skelton, something he feels makes occasions like this all the more special.

He said: “I rode eight winners one season and I thought the whole world was going to end. It is a rough game and a tough game. Paul has always said take your time, be patient.

“We spent a long time at Ditcheat and we learnt a lot from Paul and today I’ve ridden a Grade One winner for my brother and for Paul. All my racing career and everything I’ve put in has been worth it. I’m very lucky to be in the position I am now. You have got to enjoy it.”

The decision to embark on a career over fences with Allmankind is starting to look an inspired one by connections judging by his latest Grade One triumph, although Skelton revealed there was still a question mark as to whether he would truly take to chasing.

He said: “When we went to Wawrick first time out, if you watched him school at home you would have said ‘crikey’ and wouldn’t have been putting your hand up to ride this one. Going into Warwick we were going into the dark. He basically bolted for two miles.

Allmankind initiated a famous Grade One double for Harry Skelton
Allmankind initiated a famous Grade One double for Harry Skelton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He has obviously got a massive engine, but he probably doesn’t have a lot upstairs and that is what makes him good. He will go through a wall for you and he is a hard stayer at the end of two miles as he has got such a big heart he will keep running and that is what you need.”

Allmankind has a way to go to match the exploits of Politologue over fences, but Skelton believes he can, given time, reach the same heights.

He added: “Allmankind is quite hairy at times, but for him to come round here and do that of the back of little experience is very good.

“They are both very strong staying two-milers. Allmankind has got a hell of a lot to do to live up to do what Politologue has done, but he has started his career off well and he is going in the right direction.”

Politologue produces Tingle Creek masterclass

Politologue gave Paul Nicholls a record 11th victory when leading home a one-two for the Ditcheat trainer in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

Altior’s absence may have taken away some of the gloss from the two-mile Grade One showpiece – but there was no doubting the quality of Politologue’s performance in the hands of Harry Skelton.

The John Hales-owned grey was last seen causing an upset in the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, but there was no surprise about this victory.

In front from flag-fall, Politologue was not concerned by the proximity of Rouge Vif and managed to ward off that rival. It was then left to Nicholls’ other runner Greaneteen to put it up to his stablemate but, try as he might, Politologue (11-8 favourite) was too strong.

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The nine-year-old crossed the line seven lengths clear to give Skelton a Grade One double after Allmankind’s exhilarating display in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.

Politologue was cut to 8-1 from 14-1 to win the Champion Chase at Cheltenham for a second time with Coral, and to 6-1 from 20-1 with Betfair.

Nicholls said: “It was a good performance. We were fairly confident we had him well. He had his issues and we completely changed the way we trained him. He was very well in the Champion Chase and he didn’t just win that because the race fell apart, we actually felt we had him better and we felt we had him better today.

“He is a little bit like Kauto (Star) was in his last year in that he was probably as good as ever. He is probably as good as he has ever been. That is what we were really hoping for and expecting today, that he was going to do that.

Harry Skelton in full flight aboard Politologue
Harry Skelton in full flight aboard Politologue (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The other horse, Greaneteen, has run well – he just lacked a bit of class he (Politologue) has got. Two Tingle Creeks and a Champion Chase, his CV is pretty good. To keep winning those races they have got to have resolution, stay sound and keep coming back for more and he has got all of that.

“He might not be a Master Minded or Sprinter Sacre, but he is tough and keeps winning and that is what you want in this game. He is a horse the crowd loves.

“That often (happens not getting the credit he deserves) – if Altior had run today and he had beaten Altior he would probably have got a lot more credit than he deserves as people will now crab the race – but you can only win what you are up against.

“We were looking forward to taking on Altior today as the last time they met there was a length and a half between them in the Champion Chase and we think we have got the horse a lot better now and as good as ever, so it would have been an interesting race, but Nicky decided not to run and he will go elsewhere.

“All you can do is win on the day and he did it well again.”

Looking to future plans, Nicholls said: “The only option I would give us before Cheltenham, if he comes out of the race OK, is go to Ascot for the Clarence House. It will either be straight to Cheltenham or go to Ascot for the Clarence House before.

“I said to John he is in the form of his life and I think if he is fit and well the Clarence House might be a possibility and then go to Cheltenham. He is not getting any younger, it’s a Grade One and then he has got a nice time before Cheltenham.”

Skelton all set for Tingle Creek on Politologue

Harry Skelton hopes Politologue can pick up where he left off by making a triumphant return to action against Altior in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase – for which eight have stood their ground.

Having steered the Paul Nicholls-trained grey to glory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, Skelton will bid to secure a second Grade One victory aboard him at Sandown on Saturday.

Skelton has not sat on Politologue in public since their Festival triumph, but he has ridden him on Nicholls’ gallops at Ditcheat in preparation for his return.

Skelton said: “I’ve had a sit on him, and he feels in great form.

“Paul is very happy with him, and that is the main thing. If he is happy then I’m happy.

“He does feel very well, and we are looking forward to it.”

John Hales will be seeking a second Betfair Tingle Creek success with Politologue (Simon Cooper/PA Images)
Owner John Hales will be seeking a second Betfair Tingle Creek success with Politologue (Simon Cooper/PA Images)
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Although the John Hales-owned nine-year-old failed to feature in the race 12 months ago, having previously landed the 2017 renewal, Skelton is far from concerned – given he has already won first time out on three occasions.

He added: “He blew out there a little bit last year, but I think Paul is much happier with him this time round.

“The defeat in last year’s race doesn’t play on my mind, because he feels great to me – and we know he goes well fresh.”

This year’s Queen Mother lost some of its gloss following the late withdrawals of Altior and Chacun Pour Soi, but Skelton believes their absence should not detract  from the performance Politologue put up.

He added: “Cheltenham was fantastic, and it doesn’t say that the race cut up on the trophy.

“He gave me a day I will never forget, and I’m now just really looking forward to getting back on him.”

Altior will be among those lining up against Politologue at Sandown (Julian Herbert/PA Images)
Altior will be among those lining up against Politologue at Sandown (Julian Herbert/PA Images)

Politologue has yet to defeat Altior in their three previous clashes.

But Skelton is not afraid of renewing battle with Nicky Henderson’s brilliant dual champion, who has tasted defeat just once in 21 jump starts.

He added: “We are taking on Altior – but when you are running in Grade One races you expect hot competition.

“It’s going to be a good race, and hopefully all the key players turn up.”

Nicholls could also run Haldon Gold Cup winner Greaneteen.

Altior (right) took part in a gallop at Newbury with recent Fighting Fifth winner Epatante
Altior (right) took part in a gallop at Newbury with recent Fighting Fifth winner Epatante (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Altior, winner of the race in 2018, will be bidding for an 11th Grade One win for Nicky Henderson and recently took part in a racecourse gallop at Newbury with champion hurdler Epatante.

Harry Whittington’s Rouge Vif, third in the Arkle in March, faces a step up in class, having bolted up under a big weight in a handicap on his reappearance.

Kim Bailey has left his prolific winner First Flow in – while Castlegrace Paddy, who beat A Plus Tard in the Fortria Chase, could come over from Ireland.

Brewin’upastorm and Esprit Du Large complete the eight. But neither last year’s winner Defi Du Seuil, who disappointed badly in the Shloer Chase, or last year’s third Waiting Patiently were left in at the confirmation stage.

Roksana returns to winning form with stylish Wetherby success

Roksana quickened up impressively to win the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby in fine fashion.

Dan and Harry Skelton have an impressive strike-rate at the West Yorkshire track and their well-backed 13-8 favourite further augmented their tally with a taking success.

Having been dropped out towards the rear, Roksana loomed up looking a huge threat at the third last and the only question was how much she had left in the locker.

Stayers’ Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar and Next Destination, having his first start for Paul Nicholls, both looked to be travelling well, but neither had an answer to the mare.

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Roksana put the race to bed in a matter of strides, scooting eight and a half lengths clear of Next Destination, with Kildisart in third and Lisnagar Oscar fourth.

Skelton said: “She’s magic. We were always going down the Mares’ Hurdle route last year as she’d obviously won it the year before. She ran well and we were looking forward to Aintree, but obviously Covid put a stop to that.

“We always knew three miles was going to come one day. We’re probably six months behind it happening for obvious reasons.

“I’m delighted with her today. She was getting the allowances and we’re under no illusions about how much the likes of Lisnagar Oscar and others are going to improve as the season progresses, but she did everything right.

“We’ll let the others scrap it out in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and we’ll perhaps aim for the Long Walk at Ascot. We might enter her in Ireland (Leopardstown) as well, just in case the restrictions lift for the Christmas meeting.

“We’ll see what the spring brings. The owners aren’t set on Cheltenham, so there’s every possibility she could miss Cheltenham and go straight to Aintree.

“It’s potentially her last season, but we’re under no illusions about how good a racemare she is and if we think there’s another good year in her, then she could come back.”

Roksana returns to the winner's enclosure
Roksana returns to the winner’s enclosure (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Nicholls said of Next Destination: “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with that – it was an awesome run.

“He’s been off an awful long time. I couldn’t take him away anywhere to gallop because the ground has been too firm, so that’s probably the first time he’s worked on grass since the last time he ran.

“He travelled beautifully and jumped beautifully – he’ll be a right chaser.

“We’ve schooled him over fences and I think that (novice chasing) will be the plan now.”

Stat of the Day, 25th August 2020

Monday's pick was...

3.10 Ayr : Equidae @ 4/1 BOG WON at 5/1 (Tracked leader, challenged 2f out, soon led, ridden and kept on well final furlong) 

Tuesday's pick runs in the...

3.05 Bangor :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

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.


Do You Know What @ 4/1 BOG a 9-runner, Class 5, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m4½f on Soft ground worth £3,574 to the winner... 

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As usual, the racecard holds several clues...

As you can see by their respective 14, 30 and C5 icons, the Skeltons are in good form and have a good record at this track. The report angle shows they are 3 from 6 together over the last fortnight and then my own (once-again imaginatively entitled) angles tell me that Dan Skelton is one of a number of trainers who do well with Class 4/5 chasers (not all 2876 runners are his!) and he's also one of mine to follow over fences here at Bangor and I'll explain those two angles briefly for you.

We'll start with C4/5 Chs and this is the criteria I apply to the Skelton chasers...

...which has generated the following pretty self-explanatory results.

If we now take a quick look at Dan Skelton's Bangor chasers, we see that those sent off at 9/1 or shorter since the start of 2015 are...

including of relevance today...

  • 9/27 (33.3%) for 19.23pts (+71.2%) with Harry Skelton in the saddle
  • 9/24 (37.5%) for 22.23pts (+92.6%) within 60 days of their last run
  • 3/9 (33.3%) for 8.25pts (+91.7%) over this course and distance
  • and 2/4 (50%) for 11.94pts (+298.4%) on soft ground...

...whilst Harry + 1-60dslr = 9/22 (40.9% SR) for 24.23pts (+110.1% ROI), inc 2/4 at C&D and 2/3 on soft.

One last thing that I want to touch on is the adoption of cheekpieces today. This 7 yr old mare has only worn them once before and that was eight races and almost two years ago, but I'm always interested in chasers suddenly sporting headgear, because...

...during May to September (my summer chasing season) since the start of 2016, handicap chasers sent off at Evens to 15/2 wearing headgear after failing to make the frame without any LTO are...

Now, it could just be coincidental, but that's a lot of winners/profit from a decent sample size to be pure chance, surely? And from those 240 runners, we have...

  • 59/223 (26.5%) for 96.1pts (+43.1%) in fields of 5-12 runners
  • 51/198 (25.8%) for 77.6pts (+39.2%) at 6-60 dslr
  • 42/154 (27.3%) for 69.2pts (+44.9%) in cheekpieces
  • 38/124 (30.7%) for 88.9pts (+71.7%) were beaten by more than 15 lengths LTO
  • and 24/96 (25%) for 42.3pts (+44%) stepped up in trip by up to 5.5 furlongs

As I said, it could be pure coincidence, but those wearing cheekpieces in 5-12 runner contests 6-60 days after being beaten by more than 15 lengths are 21 from 59 (35.6% SR) for 58.3pts (+98.8% ROI), including 3 from 3 in the last four weeks...

...pointing towards... a 1pt win bet on Do You Know What @ 4/1 BOG (or bigger in places) as was available at 8.20am Tuesday (a bit later than usual after a swathe of non-runners), but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race... here for the betting on the 3.05 Bangor

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!