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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!

Stat of the Day, 13th December 2018

Wednesday's Pick was...

12.50 Southwell : Echo Express @ 10/3 BOG WON at 7/4 (In touch, headway to chase leaders 4 out, led 3 out, strongly challenged after last, held on gamely to win by half a length)

Thursday's pick runs in the...

3.15 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?

Capeland @ 3/1 BOG

...in a 9-runner, Class 3, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m2f on Good ground worth £9357 to the winner...

Why?

This 6 year old gelding has been a model of consistency over the past 12 months with a form line reading 222211, with the last five of those six runs representing his entire chasing career. The wins were both at today's Class 3 and over 1m7.5f and 2m4f respectively, so he's at the right level and a 2n2f trip shouldn't be beyond him, especially as he won over hurdles at 2m2.5f.

His trainer Paul Nicholls isn't generally a man you can follow blindly and make a profit from, despite consistently firing in winners : they just get overbet. However, there are some areas where you can benefit.

In the the past 14 days, Paul's runners are 11/38 (29% SR) for 31.8pts (+83.8% ROI), including those ridden by today's jockey Harry Cobden at 8/21 (38.1%) for 19.3pts (+92.1%), whilst his chasers are 4/17 (23.5%) for 19.9pts (+117.1%).

Another successful angle at play today is the Nicholls / Cobden / Taunton combination with horses priced shorter than 10/3, which currently stands at 9 from 17 (52.9% SR) for 3.9pts (+22.9% ROI).

More generally, however, and with a "proper" sample size for our purpose is the fact that...since the start of 2014 in UK Class 1-4 handicap chases, horses sent off at 7/1 and shorter, 6 to 30 days after winning a novice chase LTO are 176 from 630 (27.9% SR) for 87.4pts (+13.9% ROI), from which the following data subsets are relevant...

  • males are 165/581 (28.4%) for 92.1pts (+15.96%)
  • winners in a handicap LTO : 152/530 (28.7%) for 76.9pts (+14.5%)
  • Class 3 : 78/285 (27.4%) for 36.7pts (+12.9%)
  • on Good ground : 78/241 (30.3%) for 41.1pts (+17.1%)
  • in December : 22/75 (29.3%) for 15.5pts (+20.7%)
  • at Taunton : 5/15 (33.3%) for 0.16pts (+1.04%)
  •  and with Harry Cobden on board : 3/8 (37.5%) for 1.09pts (+13.6%)

...and Class 3 males on good ground who won a Handicap Novice Chase LTO are 28/78 (35.9% SR) for 25.6pts (+32.9% ROI)...

Finally, considering that our pick is likely to attract market attention (not because I picked it, mind!) and is quite likely to be sent off as favourite, it's worth knowing that backing favs isn't always a bad thing. Especially as since 2012, favourites in Taunton handicap chases are 53 from 139 (38.1% SR) for 28.4pts (+20.5% ROI) backed blindly, including...

  • those rested for 45 days or less : 46/117 (39.3%) for 24.8pts (+21.2%)
  • LTO winners are 23/38 (60.5%) for 27.1pts (+71.3%)
  • and those who won LTO in the previous 45 days are 21/35 (60%) for 22.5pts (+64.3%)

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Capeland @ 3/1 BOG, as offered by Bet365, Hills, 10Bet & SportPesa at 6.25pm on Wednesday evening. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

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

PPS Thursday's selection will appear later on Wednesday than usual, I've got an appointment I can't get out of!

Stat of the Day, 9th February 2018

Thursday's Result :

7.00 Chelmsford : Fareeq @ 3/1 BOG 2nd at 5/2  Slowly into stride, soon chasing leaders on outside, hung badly left from over 1f out, ran on inside final furlong, went 2nd last strides, no chance with winner...

We continue with Friday's...

4.45 Chelmsford :

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?

Volpone Jelois @ 4/1 BOG

A Class 5, 1m5.5f handicap on Polytrack worth £5,434 to the winner...

Why?

And another fairly simple approach with a 5 yr old gelding, better known as a hurdler. That said, he has made the frame in each of his four non-NH runs, all under today's jockey Megan Nicholls and mainly at Class 5, although he was a runner-up in his sole effort at Class 4 (over 1m6f) suggesting there's a win on the level in him somewhere!

Jockey Megan is 4 from 18 (22.2% SR) for 16.24pts (+90.2% ROI) on the level, riding for her famous father Paul since the start of 2017 and these runners include...

  • over 1m4f to 1m6f : 4/14 (28.6%) for 20.24pts (+144.6%)
  • at Class 5 : 2/6 (33.3%) for 15.48pts (+257.9%)
  • and at Class 5 over 1m4f to 1m6f : 2/3 (66.6%) for 18.48pts (+615.8%)

And further confidence is derived from the yard's recent form, winning 10 of 40 (25% SR) over the past 30 days rising to 8/28 (28.6%) over the last fortnight.

...pointing towards...a 1pt win bet on Volpone Jelois @ 4/1 BOG which was widely available at 6.20pm on Thursday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.45 Chelmsford

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, 30th November 2017

Wednesday's Result :

3.55 Wolverhampton : Skyva @ 6/1 BOG WON at 7/2 Tracked leaders, effort on inner over 1f out, pushed along to lead near finish, wining by a head.

The last selection of another profitable month runs in Thursday's...

1.20 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?

Silent Steps @ 5/2 BOG

A Class 4, 4yo+Novice Handicap Hurdle over 3m on Good ground worth £4549 to the winner.

And a 6 yr old mare making a seasonal reappearance after also moving yards. She finished her last campaign well, coming home as a runner-up in each of her last two starts for trainer Nicky Henderson. People often think that if a horse leaves Nicky's yard, then it's already on the wane, but when you find that this girl has ended up with Paul Nicholls, that necessarily won't always be the case!

Paul Nicholls' horses with more than their fair share of races, especially at the smaller provincial venues, but are generally overbet and therefore poor value from a punting perspective despite the high strike rate, but if you dig deep enough, there are still some angles worth pursuing.

One of those angles is actually very simple...Back Paul's hurdlers at Taunton! Now that seems very basic/straightforward for an SotD angle, but since 2009 this approach has found 74 winners from 210 (35.2% SR)for level stakes profits of 40.5pts (+19.3% ROI), which is excellent for blindly backing a top trainer.

And I could leave it there, but you know I won't/can't! So, of those 210 Taunton hurdlers...

  • Class 4 = 45/127 (35.4%) for 30.4pts (+24%)
  • In Novice races : 49/121 (40.5%) for 19.5pts (+16.1%)
  • from November to January : 40/93 (43%) for 71.63pts (+77%)
  • in handicaps : 19/77 (24.7%) for 20.4pts (+26.5%)
  • 6 yr olds are 22/58 (37.9%) for 7.9pts (+13.6%)
  • at 3m/3m0.5f : 7/28 925%) for 4pts (+14.7%)
  • making their yard debut : 10/24 (41.7%) for 15.8pts (+65.6%)
  • females are 5/12 (41.7%) for 2.6pts (+21.5%)
  • and in Novice handicaps : 3/9 (33.3%) for 2.17pts (+24.1%)

...which points us towards... a 1pt win bet on Silent Steps @ 5/2 BOG which was widely available at 6.55pm on Wednesday. To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 1.20 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!

Stat of the Day, 13th May 2017

Friday's Result :

7.40 Ripon : Swift Emperor @ 11/2 BOG 3rd at 3/1 Held up towards rear, headway over 2f out, ridden inside final furlong, no extra towards finish.

Friday's pick goes in the...

7.30 Warwick...

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?

Brahms de Clermont3/1 BOG

Why?

A 6 yr old gelding who has made a flying start to his career finishing 116421 in his 6 starts so far, the latest run being a win at Exeter four days ago.

Trainer Paul Nicholls' runners are 23/81 (28.4% SR) over the last 30 days and 3 from 7 (42.9% SR) over the past week, so they're clearly in good nick, whilst here at Warwick, they are 15/54 (27.8% SR) since 2011.

And Mr Nicholls' record with handicap debutants  stands at 28 wins from 117 (23.9% SR) for 66.8pts (+55.6% ROI) since 2014, including...

  • hurdlers at 24/102 (23.5%) for 70.2pts (+69.5%)
  • those ridden by today's jockey Sam Twiston-Davies are 13/55 (23.6%) for 34.1pts (+61.9%)
  • Class 3 runners are 15/47 (31.9%) for 32pts (+62.6%)
  • and LTO winners are 10/31 (32.3%) for 41pts (+136.7%)

And speaking of Sam Twiston-Davies, he's also in good form, with a 5/22 (22.7% SR) record over the fortnight, including 3 winners from 11 (27.3% SR) in the last 7 days and since 2013, he has 21 winners from 112 (18.75% SR) here at Warwick, of which those trained by Paul Nicholls are 8 from 19 (42.1% SR) for 11pts (+57.9% ROI) profit.

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Brahms de Clermont3/1 BOG which was widely available at 8.40pm on Friday, but if you can grab the 10/3 BOG offered by Paddy Power, please do do! To see what your preferred bookie is offering, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 7.30 Warwick

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 are to Betfair SP, as (i) I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you and (ii) although inferior to the BOG odds we secure, BFSP is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns quoted.

Monday Musings: Title Settlement

 

Bank Holiday Mondays allow me a little flexibility in terms of deadline, writes Tony Stafford. I know this because the Editor takes longer than usual to acknowledge receipt of these jottings. Saying that, he will probably have been awake early as the sun peeped across the horizon well before 6 a.m. the time today when I finally realised what the topic would be.

By a circuitous route, having started out with the Henderson-Nicholls and Mullins-Elliott season-long scraps finally decided and the likeliest subject, I landed on June 11 2006 at the picturesque Perth racecourse.

That day an unknown young Irish trainer travelled over his recent acquisition, a horse called Arresting, to Scotland and, ridden by Richard Johnson, Arresting was an emphatic winner, backed in to 7-2 favourite. He had won at the track on his previous appearance, on his sole run for Gavin Cromwell, but joined Gordon Elliott, according to official records, six days before the June 11 landmark.

Elliott, a graduate of the Martin Pipe stable, had yet to win a race in his home land, but Arresting gave him two more victories in the UK that summer, stopping off in between without success at the Galway Festival.

Thirteen horses took part in that first race and the lists of trainers and riders illustrate how quickly the pendulum swings in racing, like life really. Stuart Coltherd, Jim Goldie, Geoff Harker, Diane Sayer and Grand National winner Lucinda Russell remain active, while the remainder, including recently retired Keith Reveley have either handed in their licences or, in the case of doubly-represented Peter Monteith, died.

Of the 13 jockeys, only the relentless Johnson; James Reveley, then a 7lb claimer, now France’s jumps champion; and Paddy Aspell, still ride over jumps, although he has gradually switched more to the Flat. Graham Lee finished runner-up here two years after his Grand National triumph on Amberleigh House, who died last week aged 25. Now he rides exclusively on the level.

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Michael McAlister, then a 5lb claimer, had his last rides, winning one of six in the season ending last April, while Richie McGrath, Jimmy McCarthy, Phil Kinsella, David da Silva and Peter Buchanan have all retired after varying degrees of success.

Tony Dobbin, 45 years old today and another Grand National hero, almost a decade earlier on Lord Gyllene, the only Monday winner, is now assistant trainer to his wife Rose, while Kenny Johnson has taken over his father Bob’s small yard in Northumberland.

There is another name from the race which has forced itself into the racing consciousness, particularly over the latest season. Neil Mulholland, unplaced in that Perth race, won 54 races over a ten-year span in the UK, again with a Martin Pipe connection, before starting out as a West Country trainer in the 2008-9 season.

He was an immediate success with 16 victories in his initial campaign, before collecting between that figure and 21 in the next four years. More recently, Mulholland has found acceleration and expansion, almost Gordon Elliott-like, with 31, 51 and 60 wins before the latest awesome tally of 108 wins from 129 horses. His list of owners makes impressive reading, dozens and dozens of names, with Bob Brookhouse, one who is always ready to pay plenty at the sales, a notable major operator for the yard. Big-race wins, usually in staying chases have come via The Druids Nephew, The Young Master and Pilgrims Way, while he’s also proved a dab hand at winning Flat-race handicaps with some of his lesser jumpers.

Gordon Elliott’s narrow failure to dethrone Mullins after their final day denouement at Punchestown cannot alter the fact that he has become the big name going forward. He did something nobody – to my limited knowledge anyway – has matched, to win a Grand National before winning a Rules race in his native country. Silver Birch, a Paul Nicholls cast-off, won ten months after the first of the three Arresting victories and it was not until later that year that the Irish explosion began.

After two blank seasons, Elliott had six wins in his third, then 14, 26, 62, 40, 54, 56, 92, 123 and a mammoth 193 from an astonishing 285 horses, 101 more than Mullins up to Saturday. As the still-champion Willie lost 60 of the Gigginstown horses – not all of which ended with his protagonist – it was indeed a doughty effort to stay ahead but a team of 184 active horses is hardly negligible.

The next three home in Ireland were Henry de Bromhead, Jessica Harrington and Noel Meade, all with big teams, Harrington benefiting from the Ann and Alan Potts defection from de Bromhead with the other pair similarly indebted to the Mullins split with Gigginstown.

Of the trio, only Mrs Harrington is seriously involved in the Flat with 47 three-year-olds and juveniles listed in the latest Horses in Training book. She was at it again last week, winning five races at Punchestown while yesterday, she had a winner each at Limerick and Gowran on the Flat, beating horses trained by Aidan and Joseph O’Brien respectively.

Gordon Elliott sent out a remarkable 1,234 domestic runners last season, even more than Richard Johnson rode in his second-busiest season; 188 wins from 1,026 compared with easily his best, 235 from 1,044 the previous winter when he collected his first title after 20 years’ wait for A P McCoy to retire. Since 1996-7 Johnson has posted a century of winners every season, with between 102 and 186 until the last two. The McCoy retirement has brought an average of 200 extra rides, a good few of them horses McCoy would have partnered.

Johnson shows no sign of slowing down, bar injury or illness, so there is little chance he will fail to complete the hat-trick as he intends to mirror McCoy’s annual tactic of a fast start during late spring and summer.

Nicky Henderson’s stable stars contributed greatly to his fourth trainers’ title, but it also helped that he had more individual horses (173) to run than anyone other than Dan Skelton (202). Henderson and Nicholls had an almost identical win average, around 25%, a figure which only Harry Fry, among the leaders, with 23%, could get anywhere near. Fry’s Punchestown double last week confirmed his status as a future potential champion trainer.

Team Tooth had a first Flat runner (two getting-handicapped Winter AW runs apart) at Yarmouth, and Stanhope as usual suffered an element of bad luck as he finished a close fourth.

It seems he’s a horse that finds trouble, but when he doesn’t it finds him, as when at Sandown, a golf ball from the inside-the-track course flew up from a rival’s hoof and hit jockey Charlie Bennett a resounding bang on the helmet.

Here, Pat Cosgrave had just moved him into a gap to challenge, when it closed. In a desperate attempt to get home in front, Jamie Spencer launched his whip right handed, twice hitting Stanhope on the head. First you can see him flinch right, then more dramatically back and left, so it was brave of the horse to nick fourth under hands and heels after recovering. Pat says he’s stronger this year. He’ll need to be!

 

Monday Musings: Seasons and Champions – Changing The Guard

Why doesn’t Paul Nicholls run more horses in Flat races? I am less than indebted to the Racing Post’s new-style trainer statistics which do not seem to allow me to investigate the multiple jumps’ trainer’s Flat performances before the 2013 season, writes Tony Stafford. [Should have used Geegeez' Query Tool - Ed.]

In that latter period, when in common with the previous ten jumps campaigns he has maintained £2m earnings and more every term, his 14 Flat runners (one unplaced in 2017) have not brought a single win. Despite these numbers, I’m sure he’d win plenty if he bothered.

A busy final end to this jumps marathon will probably mean he concedes the jumps title to Nicky Henderson even if a discrepancy of £170,000 to his rival is not impossible with Sandown’s Saturday riches to play for. Hendo, though, has the sublime Altior to head up a similarly strong raid on Esher.

By contrast with Nicholls, who recorded another notable achievement when Vicente collected a second consecutive Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday, beating 29 opponents one week after his first-fence exit at Aintree, Henderson targets some prime Flat races each summer. Royal Ascot is a favourite while the Cesarewitch is another on his radar every autumn.

Henderson has enough in hand to ignore most of the minor midweek meetings in the UK, save Perth, where he might stretch the lead as Nicholls will be staying nearer home. His own location, though, will be in his favourite spring destination as house guest with Jessie Harrington.

Never before has Mrs Harrington been able to welcome her great friend from such a position of professional strength. For all of her big-race wins, spectacularly so in the case of her multi-champion two-mile chaser Moscow Flyer, Jessie has never experienced the like of the last month or so.

Her three Cheltenham Festival wins last month were headed up by Sizing John’s emphatic Gold Cup triumph and momentum has continued unabated under both codes. Our Duke, a novice with a big weight, dominated the betting before the 28-runner Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday and also the race, winning almost unchallenged after leading some way from home. He will clearly be a serious rival to Sizing John in all next season’s major staying chases.

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That victory came just a couple of days after a Flat hat-trick at Cork, two of the winners being owned by her daughter and assistant trainer/amateur rider, Kate. As if Jessica Harrington hadn’t already proved her versatility over many years with her handling of Group-race Flat fillies especially, and more recently, done a great job with smart 2010 juvenile Pathfork.

That Niarchos-owned colt went unbeaten through his three-race campaign, all at The Curragh, culminating in a narrow defeat of Casamento and favourite Zoffany in the Group 1 National Stakes. His only other run in Europe was the following spring when an 8-1 chance, joint second-favourite with Roderic O’Connor for the 2,000 Guineas when he finished seventh of 13 behind the inimitable Frankel.

Yesterday Jessie moved another step forward. Her three-year-old Sepoy colt, Khukri, making his seasonal debut and only his fourth career start, contested the Listed sprint and easily reversed debut juvenile form with Aidan O’Brien’s Intelligence Cross, who beat him first time up.

Then in the Group 3 Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes over a mile and threequarters she again had the edge on Ballydoyle when her new recruit Torcedor, a five-year-old previously with the now retired David Wachman, made it two out of two for her in beating Order of St George, last year’s Gold Cup winner at Ascot.

She must be relishing the chance to challenge that champion at the Royal meeting, and no doubt will hope at least to share the headlines on home soil this week with her lifelong friend and sometime rival.

It was wonderful in Easter week to have an unbroken series of high class Flat-racing days at Newmarket, with the restored to three-day Craven meeting, and two high-class varied cards at Newbury.

Somehow between the ever-growing imitation of Hong Kong if not quite Manhattan, Newbury’s new facilities are gradually emerging. It’s hard to work out where to park or even whether to take the little bridge over the railway; the new roundabout from the Thatcham Road or go through the town, they seem to be getting there.

John Gosden clearly found his way and in a week of almost unbroken success, his powerful yard sent out 11 winners over the two major fixtures. One that got away was the second division of the maiden, won by 100-1 shot Duke of Bronte, a gelded son of Mount Nelson, trained by highly-capable and versatile Rod Millman. The Royal colours were carried into second place here by Musical Terms, half an hour after Call to Mind, also trained by William Haggas, gave the Queen a belated (by a day) 91st birthday winner.

Her pleasure when having a home-bred winner, as always, was clear for all to see, as was the understated way she arrived driven by Racing Manager John Warren with only minimal evident security. Coming down in the lift with a camera-brandishing photographer, I learned on Friday from him that his local newspaper: “always know where she’ll be this weekend, so we don’t really even bother to check whether she’s coming”. Imagine that informality in any other country.

Late April brings a quickening tempo for many owners of Flat racehorses and the Raymond Tooth string is no different. The consistent Stanhope is ready for his first run since being gelded in Yarmouth’s finale tomorrow and Micky Quinn hopes he can follow half a dozen placed efforts with a first success.

Yesterday Hughie Morrison had his Owners’ Day and I stood in for the boss as what seemed like possibly the trainer’s best-ever team of horses was paraded in front of a big attendance. Sod’s Law (half-brother to last year’s star Dutch Law, but bigger than his sibling) and the giant French Kiss, got generally positive reaction from the crowd and guarded optimism from their trainer.

French Kiss is from the first crop of Ray’s smart 2011 juvenile French Fifteen, who after winning the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, was sold and then finished a close second to Camelot in the 2,000 Guineas. Outside his box, there’s a sign suggesting “this horse bites”, but it was his neighbour Sod’s Law that grabbed hold of my jacket. “Don’t you remember me from Kinsale Stud?” I asked, to which he seemed to reply: “Sure.” Sod’s Law indeed.

Great racing continues this week. For those with long memories, Epsom’s Spring meeting, once a three-day affair, is a disappointment, but even though it’s now just the Wednesday, the races get beefed up a little each year. It’s always enjoyable to be there, while two days at Sandown at the end of the week, with the jumps finale on Saturday, promise plenty of excitement.

My own Friday will be a little more prosaic, chauffeuring Mrs S to Sheffield, not to see the snooker, but for her date in the British Adult Skating Championships (Bronze) for which there are 31 runners, even more than the Scottish National. Sadly, I’ll be on dog minding duty so cannot stay up there to see it. When she recently went to Estonia and won, that was on the Internet, but this time I’ll have to wait for less immediate communication.

Harry Cobden’s Blog: 10th March 2017

Wow. Has it really been four weeks since I last wrote? Time flies...

It's actually been a fairly quiet month, but I've still managed to put another five wins on the board. They were kicked off by The Geegeez Geegee for, as the name suggests, a syndicate created out of visitors to this website!

It was really great to ride a winner in the geegeez colours and with the geegeez logos on, too. Geegee jumped class that day and was always going to win. He just dossed a little on the run in, giving a hint to his moody side. That less cooperative part of his game was in full evidence when he didn't go a yard for me back at Fontwell a fortnight later.

I knew my fate pretty early, and no amount of pushing and shoving was going to change his mind. He's probably going to be best fresh so might be interesting again after a little break.

Zarkandar is one of the yard favourites at Paul's, and I was lucky enough to get the leg up in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock. He was actually rated 168 in his prime and, though now on a mark of just 147, he's still showing plenty of zest. The handicapper raised him four to 151 for that, and he's headed to the Stayers' Hurdle next. With Noel Fehily booked to ride Unowhatimeanharry, there's a chance I'll keep the ride in the Stayers', which would be a fantastic opportunity. He's going well at home and might surprise a few people with a big effort.

Things stepped up a notch for me last Saturday with a nice double at Newbury, the first leg of which was Just A Par. The old boy stuck it out well to win the veterans' handicap chase, and was well on top at the line. I think he's going to the sales now and will be offered with an entry to run in the Grand National. He's gone up six pounds for the win last week but, because the National weights were already published, he can still run at Aintree off 146, so might be nicely handicapped! All he does is jumps and stays.

Then, in the last race on the card, I managed to break my bumper hoodoo on Anthony Honeyball's Sam Brown. I say hoodoo because this was my first National Hunt Flat winner, at the 26th time of asking! Sam is quite highly rated now - I think his RPR would be 130 if he was in the Champion Bumper. They went a good gallop and it rode like a good bumper. He repelled three separate challenges through the race, and it was more probably a fair bit more impressive than it looked.

The Sam Brown form has been franked in the last couple of days by Lalor and Daylami Kirk, who ran 1-2 on Thursday at Wincanton. Lalor was second to Sam Brown when Sam won his debut, and Daylami Kirk was well back that day. I rode him both times. I'd say he's a nice novice hurdle prospect for next season, and that was a good step forward this week.

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Coole Cody got his head in front at the fifth time of asking. He's a very nice horse that was only beaten three lengths by Neon Wolf on his second start. He needs to settle better and if he does, could be a smart novice chaser next season. He'll probably also improve for better ground. He's definitely one to keep on the right side.

Saturday

I've got four rides at Hereford this afternoon. My best chance might be Pearls Legend (4.00). He was fifth in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham last March, and has dropped eight pounds since then. He ran better last time on ground he'd have hated, finishing third, but still got dropped three pounds. Now on 130, I can either make it or take a lead, and if we go quick that will suit me fine.

Castarnie (1.40) is a little in and out. He needs to jump better than he has been and, if he does, he's got a squeak.

Shinooki (2.15) looks high enough in the handicap just now but he'll like conditions, so if he brings his Fakenham form another win is not out of the question.

Similar comments apply to Muffins For Tea (4.35). He's not obviously well weighted, but has a bit of a chance having run well here in a novice hurdle two back.

 

Next week

I'm down to ride Allchilledout at Chepstow on Monday. He hated the ground the last day and the track would have been sharp enough, but he's got good form round Chepstow, and should run his race.

Then it's Cheltenham. I have a few possibles though I won't know final running plans until nearer the time. Some might not get in and some might be ridden by other people! But this is how it looks at the moment.

I have one ride on Tuesday, in the Ultima Handicap Chase. I'm on a horse called Viconte Du Noyer, who won over a quarter mile further here at the BetVictor (Open) meeting. Ignore his last run, where he put two feet in a ditch in the Welsh National. He's actually only three pounds higher than his November win here, so has some sort of chance.

I can also pass on a good word for Romain de Senam. He galloped well the other day, and goes to the Novices' Handicap Chase (closing race on day one) in great fettle.

On Thursday, I'm scheduled to ride Mr Mix in the Pertemps. In truth, he's probably going to struggle a bit in this rarefied company, but he's unexposed at the trip and we're hoping that brings about some improvement.

Later that afternoon, with luck I'll get another chance on Zarkandar. The Stayers' is obviously a very hot race but, as I said earlier, I quietly fancy him to run into the first four or five.

Brio Conti is entered for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' race on Friday. He has a hell of a chance if he scrapes him, but that looks unlikely at this stage, sadly. I'd be hopeful of picking up a ride though, fingers crossed..

 

SEASONAL SCORES

I'm up to 48 winners now for the season, closing in a maiden 50. That would be amazing but I'm certainly not counting my chickens. Dave Noonan is up to 30 now, and my closest rival, with Jamie Bargary on 29. It would be amazing if I could get a winner this weekend and then make 50 at Cheltenham next week, but that's probably a pretty wild dream! We'll keep kicking and hope to get those two I'm chasing before too long.

Until next time, I wish you the best of luck at Cheltenham next week, and let's hope all goes safely and well...

- Harry 

Sat TV Trends: 4th March 2017

We’ve had better LIVE Saturday ITV race days, but with the Cheltenham Festival on the horizon then it’s no surprise – Newbury and Doncaster provide the LIVE ITV action this week, and, as always, we’ve got all the races covered from a trends and stats angle.

 

NEWBURY HORSE RACING TRENDS (ITV/RUK)

 

1.30 – William Hill ‘High 5’ Supporting Greatwood Veterans´ Handicap Hurdle Cl3 2m5f ITV

Just 2 previous runnings
Trainer Neil Mulholland has a 36% record with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Nicky Henderson has a 26% record with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Gary Moore is just 3 from 50 (6%) with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Philip Hobbs has a 20% strike-rate & +£104 level stakes profit with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Roger Teal won the race 12 months ago


2.05 - Betway Supporting Greatwood, Veterans´ Handicap Chase (Qualifier) (Leg 3 of Veterans´ Chase Series) Cl2 3m2f110y ITV

8 previous runnings
8/8 – Returned 9/1 or shorter
7/8 – Aged 10 years-old
6/8 – Won over at least 3m (chase)
5/8 – Finished in the top 4 in their last race
4/8 – Carried 11-4 or more in weight
4/8 – Favourites unplaced
2/8 – Won their last race
1/8 – Favourites
Trainer David Pipe won the race in 2015 & 2016


2.40 – William Hill ‘High 5’ Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle Cl3 2m110y ITV

14/14 – Won over this 2m trip (hurdles)
13/14 – Returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting
12/14 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
11/14 – Aged 6 or younger
11/14 – Won between 1-3 times over hurdles
11/14 – Carried 10-10 or more in weight
10/14 – Favourites unplaced
9/14 – Winning distance – 2 1/4 lengths or more
7/14 – Ran at Newbury before
7/14 – Irish bred
6/14 – Rated 120 or less
6/14 – From the top three in the betting
4/14 – Won their last race
2/14 – Went onto finish in the first two in the County Hurdle (Cheltenham Festival)
2/14 – Winning Favourites (1 joint)
2/14 – Trained by Gary Moore
Gala Ball won the race 12 months ago


3.15 – William Hill ‘High 5’ Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 2m4f ITV

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13/14 – Carried 11-5 or less in weight
13/14 – Won by a horse aged 8 or younger
12/14 – Had run within the last 5 weeks
12/14 – Had won between 1-4 times over fences previously
11/14 – Placed in the top 5 last time out
11/14 – Raced at Newbury (hurdles or fences) previously
11/14 – Won over this trip previously
10/14 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or less
10/14 – Officially rated 139 or higher
9/14 – Favourites placed
8/14 – Won by the Paul Nicholls stable
8/14 – Winners that came from the top 3 in the market
7/14 – Won by a French-bred horse
6/14 – Won by a horse aged 8 years-old
5/14 – Won by an Irish-bred horse
5/14 – Favourites  to win (1 joint)
5/14 – Went onto run at the Cheltenham Festival (no winners)
2/14 – Won by the Pipe yard
2/14 – Ridden by Nick Scholfield
1/14– Won their last race
Note: The 2006 renewal was a dead-heat


DONCASTER HORSE RACING TRENDS ITV/RUK)


1.50 - BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle Cl2 3m96y ITV

Only 5 previous runnings
5/5 – Priced 9/2 or shorter in the betting
5/5 – Aged 9 or younger
4/5 – Carried 10-13 or more in weight
2/5 – Aged 9 years-old
2/5 – Favourites
Trainer Nicky Henderson won the race for the past 2 years
Trainer Paul Nicholls won the race in 2013
Trainer Nicky Henderson has a 42% (27 from 64) record with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Ben Pauling has a 28% strike-rate (5 form 18) with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Donald McCain is just 2 from 46 (4%) with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Peter Bowen is 0 from 28 with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Tim Vaughan is 0 from 22 with his hurdlers at the track

2.25 - Betbright Handicap Chase Cl2 2m90y ITV

Six previous runnings
6/6 – Priced 15/2 or shorter
5/6 – Aged between 6-8 years-old
4/6 – Carried 11-1 or less in weight
3/6 – Placed 1st or 2nd last time out
2/6 – Raced at Musselburgh last time out
2/6 – Trained by Brian Ellison
1/6 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
Trainer Paul Nicholls has a 26% record with his chasers at the track
Pauline Robson is 2 from 4 (50%) with her chasers at the track
Trainer Venetia Williams is only 2 from 26 (8%) with her chasers at the track


3.00 – BetBright Mares´ Novices´ Hurdle (Listed Race) Cl1 3m96y ITV

Four previous running
4/4 – Aged 5 or 6 years-old
4/4 – Returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
3/4 - Won by the favourite (1 co-fav)
Trainer Oliver Sherwood won the race 12 months ago
Trainer Alan King has a 23% record with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer Donald McCain is just 2 from 46 (4%) with his hurdlers at the track
Trainer David Pipe is just 1 from 21 (5%) with his hurdlers at the track


3.35 – BetBright Grimthorpe Chase (A Handicap Chase) Cl2 3m2f ITV

13/13 – Aged 8 or older
12/13 – Won over at least 3m (fences) before
11/13 – Won no more than 4 times over fences
10/13 – Ran within the last 7 weeks
10/13 – Carried 10-12 or less in weight
9/13 – Aged 9 or older
9/13 – Rated 131 or less
9/13 – From the top 3 in the betting
9/13 – Priced 11/2 or shorter in the betting
8/13 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
7/13 – Raced over fences at Doncaster before (3 winners)
6/13 – Won their last race
5/13 – Irish bred
3/13 – Went onto run in that season’s Grand National (no winners) – Last year’s winner - The Last Samuri – went onto be 2nd in the National 12 months ago
2/13 – Favourites

 

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Harry Cobden’s Blog: 10th February 2017

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.

 

FUTURE ENTRIES

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 geegeez.co.uk 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.

SEASONAL SCORES

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 

Harry Cobden’s Blog: 20th Jan 2017

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

Harry Cobden “Conditionally Speaking” 3rd January 2017

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you've all gorged yourselves on turkey and the trimmings while us jockeys have been on the usual diet of gruel and water!

Quite a lot has been happening since my last blog, what with it being a busier time over the festive period with lots of rides to share around. Saying that, I've only had four for the boss, but it's been a case of quality over quantity there.

One of the rides for Mr Nicholls was on the smart hurdler, Mr Mix. He won the Pertemps Qualifier on Boxing Day at Wincanton (one of the lads has dubbed it 'Wincobden' (!), as I've ridden 16 winners from 36 rides there) off a mark of 139. He probably did it a little better than the winning margin of three-quarters of a length suggests: having got hampered at the top of the hill, I had a lovely run down the inner and when he hit the front he just dossed a bit. That may be just as well as it could keep him a stride ahead of the handicapper with luck, and I'd be hopeful there's a bit more in the tank. He's a very nice horse who is now qualified for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.

If Mr Mix was the Boxing Day high I didn't have to wait long to be brought back down to earth with a bump. 35 minutes later I rode a mare called Antarctica de Thaix. She'd been left in the lead at the third fence, and was cantering a distance clear before just crumpling on landing at the third last, giving me no chance. I felt very sorry for the owners, but they were quite calm and understanding.

There was still time on the same day to get stuck in a ditch when a melee ensued in a handicap chase which had to be declared void when none of the horses managed to complete; and to ride a promising sort in the closing bumper. Johanos was his name, and I think he will win a novice hurdle in due course. He's a big scopy type who definitely wants more of a trip, and could be one to look out for at a price given his trainer, Nigel Hawke, isn't the most high profile handler.

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Sadly, I was on the deck again the next day, as Richard Woollacott's Millanisi Boy was just backing out of it having run a fair race to that point in a decent three mile handicap hurdle. He's likely to go novice chasing now, and might be worth a second glance if the ground comes up heavy.

My last winner of 2016 was for Warren Greatrex. Warren has been looking around for 'best available' after both of his main stable jockeys, Harry Bannister and Gavin Sheehan, have suffered fractures. On this occasion, I rode Reilly's Minor in a Taunton handicap. He'll defintiely stay further and could be ten pounds better when going left-handed (hangs notably left). He runs in the Cole Harden colours, and should win again now he's got his head in front.

My last ride of the old year was on board Lucy Wadham's Game On. He is another big scopy type, by Gamut, and looks capable of going close in a novice hurdle.

Perhaps the nicest horse I've ridden since my last blog is Robinsfirth, who did it really well in a fair beginners' chase on New Year's Day. He's a lovely jumper, travelled like a dream, and stayed on very well. He'd already been given a mark of 135 ahead of this effort and might be a candidate for the novices' handicap chase at the Festival, depending on his revised rating.

He's a big unit - at least 17'2 - and is pretty unexposed after two years off the track. He is a very nice prospect and definitely one for your Geegeez Tracker.

Earlier in the afternoon, I finished second on Michael Blake's Coole Cody. He is a free going type and he travelled really well. I thought I was going to give the winner a run for his money but he just got a little outpaced in the last furlong. He might pay for this performance with the handicapper but, for five grand, the owners look to have bagged themselves a bargain.

In the conditional jockeys' title race, I'm now on 38 winners. Dave Noonan is on 26, Jamie Bargary 25, and Harry Bannister 22.

Here's to more good winners for all of us in 2017.

- Harry Cobden

Harry Cobden “Conditionally Speaking” 15th Nov 2016

After winning on Viconte de Noyer at Cheltenham Saturday

After winning on Viconte du Noyer at Cheltenham Saturday

It was a quieter week for me last week, though quality more than made up for quantity.

I rode a nice mare for Mark Tompkins at Huntingdon on Tuesday, called Sweeping Beauty and, though she was sent off at 50/1, she made a really eye-catching debut. She's quite a buzzy filly so we decided to drop her in. During the race, she travelled great and quickened up well when I asked her to finish second, only beaten two lengths by the winner. She might run at Warwick in a mares' bumper next and hopefully I'll have the ride on her because I think she will go very close.

Then it was all roads lead to Cheltenham for the really competitive Open meeting, where I had four rides on the Saturday, including Frodon in the big race, the BetVictor Gold Cup.

First up was the staying handicap chase, where I got the leg up on Viconte Du Noyer for Colin Tizzard. Looking at the race beforehand I thought it was a really bold decision by Mr Tizzard to run this horse at Cheltenham, stepping up in trip almost a mile and a half, because he ran a brilliant race at Aintree last season over two miles in the Red Rum Handicap Chase: getting hampered up the run in and only being beaten two lengths it was an excellent performance.

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In the race itself, Viconte Du Noyer travelled and jumped great the whole way, and I was able to deliver him at the second last with his challenge. He went on to win by a length and a half after I'd tried to keep a bit up my sleeve to make sure we would get up that everlasting Cheltenham hill!

I'm very grateful to Mr and Mrs Potts for giving me the opportunity to ride for them in such a big race, and really pleased I was able to win for them.

In the big race of the meeting, I rode Frodon, a Grade 2 winner the previous Saturday. Still only four, he was travelling beautifully until he banked the fence at the top of the hill, four out, which finished his chances of winning this day. After that, I just coaxed him home to finish down the field. He remains a horse with plenty of upside for the season.

Millanisi Boy is a nice chasing type but he was a big price for the handicap hurdle over two and a half miles. I wanted to keep wide throughout because the inside was beginning to get very patchy, and turning in I thought I was going to win. But we just lacked a bit of toe up the hill, running a great race to finish third, eventually beaten four lengths. That was off a mark of 122, and his trainer, Richard Woollacott, is now thinking about going over fences with him, though he may have one more run in a handicap hurdle first. He should make up into a very decent chaser when the time comes.

In the closing Listed mares' bumper, I was on board Pearl Royale, a really big imposing filly by Robin Des Champs. She was a no hoper according to the betting but, though very keen throughout, she was only beaten seven lengths by the winner, finishing a very eye-catching 5th. I think she will be a mare that we could be seeing a fair amount of in Listed mares' races in the not too distant future.

On Sunday, I had just the one ride, but it was on a very talented lad in the Greatwood Hurdle. I won the race twelve months earlier on Old Guard, my first big race success, and this year I rode Modus who is owned by Mr McManus. He was second at the Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Bumper of 2014 and it's always a positive when they've run well around Cheltenham.

In truth, he didn't really travel like a contender throughout most of the race but turning down the hill I had a lovely run up the inner which got me into a nice position before turning into the home straight. From there, I jumped the last upsides and probably nosed in front halfway up the run in, but unfortunately we got out-battled by North Hill Harvey. Still, it was a really nice performance by Modus, and I think he will be a serious two mile chaser in time.

It looks like being a fairly quiet week for me, though I'll probably be heading to Haydock on Saturday to renew my partnership with Old Guard in the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle. He's still only five, and this will be his first spin over hurdles since he ran behind Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle last December.

I may also get the call for Mr Mix in the Grade 3 Betfair Exchange "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle. He ran a cracking race in the Silver Trophy last time, and would have nearly won but for stepping at the third last. Even so, he was only beaten two lengths, with Taquin De Seuil [BetVictor Gold Cup winner] a length behind, and that is very good form. He has a live chance in an open looking race.

Have a great week.

- Harry

Harry Cobden “Conditionally Speaking” 8th Nov 2016

It’s been another good week for me with four winners from eleven rides, and a personal milestone as well.

Last Thursday, Unify won her third novice chase, dropping back in trip from her last two runs. She travelled and jumped well to win by a length and quarter. She has her issues, so huge credit goes to Antony Honeyball who has done a brilliant job placing her in the right races.

Saturday was my eighteenth birthday, and I had a fantastic book of rides at Wincanton. Capitaine and Boa Island were very short priced favourites, both really nice progressive horses who travelled and jumped brilliantly to win very nicely.

Capitaine is still learning and was maybe a little bit keen here. But he’s classy and his owner and trainer will put their heads together about maybe stepping him up in grade next time.

The day got better with Frodon bolting up in a small but select field in the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase. He’s still only four and is very smart. Best of all, he gets a lovely weight chasing because of his age. He's an easy horse to ride because he jumps and travels so well throughout his races, and he gave me my highest level win, my first in Grade 2 company.

Southfield Theatre was very unfortunate not to win the Badger Ales Trophy Chase. Turning in to the straight I wanted to make ground on the leaders, and as we jumped the second last upsides I felt like I had it won. Coming down to the last with a half a length advantage, my lad just clipped the top of the fence and, very disappointingly, came down.

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Annoyingly, I also came off Zubayr at the last. While he was probably held at the time, we were rallying and it might have been close. The main thing is that both are fine so they should be back in action soon enough. Mrs Yeoman, Southfield Theatre’s owner, was especially good about it considering there was a very trophy – and pot – up for grabs. I’m very thankful for her kindness, but disappointed he didn’t quite get high enough.

Although it was my eighteenth birthday, I just had a quiet night with no big celebration, because on Sunday, I was at Ffos Las for another nice couple of rides. City Supreme will definitely come on from his run, and with any luck the handicapper will drop him a couple of pounds for finishing 7th. He looks sure to be bang there next time.

Unify was unable to build on her third win in six weeks when only third in a handicap chase. She might find life a bit tougher now.

I’m now up to 28 winners for the season, putting me nicely clear in the conditionals’ race at the moment. But I know I have to keep my head down, ride well, and continue to develop. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of Mr Nicholls and Anthony Honeyball, as well as a number of other very supportive trainers.

Looking forward to this week, I ride John Biscuit at Huntingdon today. He has to have a chance only going up three pounds for his win at Plumpton, and I’d be optimistic that he could be progressive now he's got his head in front. Off a mark of 82 he still looks well treated.

All going well I might get another chance to ride Frodon in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday. He was very impressive around Wincanton the weekend just gone, and I'm really grateful that Mr Nicholls and the owners, Mr Vogt and Mr Fogg, are thinking of keeping me on him. He's got a lovely weight and the track and trip should suit just right.

It was a busy Monday morning yesterday schooling some of the weekend runners. All the horses seem in great shape and it was very good to see Sam Twiston-Davies making an appearance this morning after his nasty fall at Chepstow’s opening meeting, Sam should hopefully be back race riding this weekend.

Sam’s fall and, much worse, Freddy Tylicki’s at Kempton are a stark reminder that all jockeys are only one fall away from serious injury. It is obviously a risky sport for all involved. The mood in the weighing room this week has been sombre, with plenty of the lads going to see Freddy.

One small silver lining is the attention the Injured Jockeys’ Fund has received, and the number of people who have contributed either directly to Freddy or to the IJF shows racing in a positive light at a very dark time.

Have a great week.

- Harry

Stat of the Day, 15th October 2016

Friday's Result :

2.40 Fakenham : Alyasan @ 9/4 BOG 3rd at 7/4 (Led, ridden 3 out, headed bend approaching last, kept on one pace)

Saturday's pick goes in the...

4.10 Ffos Las :

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?

Tommy Silver at 7/2 BOG

Why?

Trainer Paul Nicholls targets this race, having won the last two renewals and it clearly is a target as he's only ever had 6 runners in handicap hurdle contests here at Ffos Las. Mind you with 3 winners (50% SR) and 11.61pts (+193.5% ROI) profit, he does seem to have it bang on.

So, he sends just 1 runner here today, a lightly raced 4 yr old who has already landed a Listed race over 1m 7.5f, so he shouldn't be getting outpaced here!

The yard has been in pretty hot form of late, consistently firing in the winners with a 41.7% strike rate over the past two months (20/48) and those figures aren't skewed by a freak purple patch either, as they are 18/39 (46.2%) in the last 30 days, 13/31 (41.9%) in the last fortnight and 10 from 22 (45.5%) over the past week.

Paul is using Harry Cobden to ride today, to make full use of his 3lb claim and since 2010, the Nicholls' handicap hurdlers ridden by 3lb claimers are 16/76 (21.1%) for 34.3pts (+45.2%)

And finally, the big numbers!

If you had backed very single one of Paul Nicholls' runners over trips of 1m7.5f to 2m4f since the start of 2014, you'd have cashed in 209 times from 784 bets, a strike rate of some 26.7% producing level stake profits of 146.5pts at an ROI of 18.7%, and of those 784 runners...

  • hurdlers are 117/442 (26.5%) for 89.8pts (+20.3%)
  • handicappers are 57/278 (20.5%) for 111.4pts (+40.1%)
  • and handicap hurdlers are 31/163 (19%) for 68.8pts (+42.2%)

...giving us...a 1pt win bet on Tommy Silver at 7/2 BOG, from Bet365 (my preference), Boylesports or Ladbrokes, who were joint market leaders at 8.10am this morning, but to see your preferred bookies' odds, simply...

...click here for the betting on the 4.10 Ffos Las.

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REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard...