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Darran last won the day on October 14 2022

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About Darran

  • Birthday 08/26/1982

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  1. We go to Hamilton on Tuesday morning for the next jumps meeting. There are 5 races on the card with 2 divisions of the maiden hurdle, a handicap hurdle, a maiden steeplechase and a handicap steeplechase. It's not the easiest punting card, but we have some very competitive races. Also as Oddschecker doesn't have the meeting up yet these are all Bet365 prices and bigger might be available elsewhere. Race 1 Abreed was a bit disappointing on debut, but that was a hot maiden and he was much better at Casterton a couple of weeks ago when a good 2nd to Killourney having been on the pace for most of the race. Chance the Heavy 10 ground was to blame at Pakenham, but he has won on a Heavy track before so that shouldn't be an issue. Field If Lights made his hurdles debut at Warrnambool 2 years ago and was beaten just 0.4L into 3rd place. He clearly got an injury because he wasn't seen for 101 weeks. He seems to have been working his way to fitness and was a good 4th in the Casterton Cup 2 years ago. With that good run behind him he is a chance based on his hurdles debut. Frankenstar is making his hurdles debut and he won a BM58 over 2440m at Geelong a month ago. He did win a hurdles trial at Terang just before and jumped well in that and although he was 6th in a trial at Warrnambool a couple of weeks ago he wasn't really asked for an effort. King's Charisma ran well to finish 2nd to Pure Deal at Warrnambool on his hurdles debut and he has won a trial back there since. He lost to Pure Deal that day and whilst he was beaten last week at Sandown I still think that was a good effort. Saint Eustace was 5th when Pure Deal was 3rd at Pakenham on his hurdles debut and hasn't been seen anywhere since. His trainer/jockey said he would look to ride him closer to the pace in future and given his flat form it would be no surprise if he improved from that effort. The last one to consider is The Rattlin' Bog who was beaten 8L by Teofilo Star into 2nd place on his hurdles debut at Warrnambool. That's looking a good run given how impressive Teofilo Star was at Sandown last week. I think this is a tough race to call as you can make a case for any of the above, but I think at the prices Saint Eustace is worth a small bet. He has top class flat form and it was a solid debut at Pakenham last time. If Pateman rides him closer to the pace then I am expecting improvement to come. Saint Eustace 1pt @ 6/1 with Bet365 Race 2 Australian middle distance flat racing often gets rubbished on Twitter by people who know little about it and they always highlight something like Zaaki suddenly winning Group 1's. What they don't realise is numerous horses go from here to Australia and the vast majority don't do very much and Dashing Willoughby is firmly in the later camp. He won the Group 3 Henry II Stakes in July 2020 at Sandown and was sent over for the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup. He was last at Caulfield and beat 2 home at Flemington. In 11 runs since he has been terrible and not beaten very many horses. I watched his last hurdles trial, and he didn't jump well to start with, but got better the longer the trial went on. It will be interesting to see how he gets on, but it is no surprise that True Marvel is the long odds on favourite. 2 starts back he finished 2nd in the Group 1 Sydney Cup at 150/1. That clearly was a huge run and he was OK last time when 8th in the Andrew Ramsden. I liked the way he jumped in his hurdle trial at Terang. He's too short to have a bet on, but he really should be winning this based on his flat form. Race 3 I guess there is a chance Bell Ex One has gone the wrong way and I can't be as confident as I was ahead of his Casterton run, but he has to be the bet here. Just to remind people that he finished 3rd in last year's Fred Winter at Cheltenham and was superb in his hurdles debut in Oz last August. For me the Casterton effort looked a fitness run and hopefully he can show how good he is here. Even with top weight he will win this if at his best. Post Guillaume is favourite, but he's been a bit disappointing the last twice and I want to see more before he is of interest. Twin Spinner is fairly consistent and although he was a well beaten 3rd behind Teofilo Star last weekend, it was a fair return to hurdles. If Abreed wins the first then that will be a big form boost to Killourney who put in a nice performance to beat him at Casterton. Even so I'm not sure he warrants being so short here. Bell Ex One 1pt @ 19/5 with Bet365 Race 4 There are only 2 maiden steeplechases during the season and this is the first one. There is a few in with a chance in what is an open race and I will take two against the field. Granted Tom Foolery was really pushed out in his trail at Warrnambool a couple of weeks ago and Furioso wasn't given as a strenuous ride, but he was still impressive in beating him by 18L. I really like the way he jumped the fences though and I thought he ran a nice race last time when 3rd behind Killourney at Casterton. Given Furioso is the favourite I think the value certainly lies with Tom Foolery The other one worth a small bet is Mighty Oasis. He was 2nd behind Historic at Warrnambool in March and then was a bit disappointing when 6th at Pakenham. The run that caught my eye though was at Warrnambool when he was just getting himself into contention when he fell at 3 out. Obviously hard to know where he would have finished, but that was a strong race and he has run a nice race on the flat since so seems in good form. Tom Foolery 1pt @ 19/5 with Bet365 Mighty Oasis 0.5pts @ 9/1 with Bet365 Race 5 Competitive handicap chase this. Riding High has top weight and he ran well to finish 2nd in the Australia Chase last weekend and he'd run a solid 4th in the Brierly prior to that. The issue is he has never been placed in 6 starts on a Heavy track and that might stop him along with the weight. Historic won this race last year and having won a weak race at Warrnambool in March he finished 2nd to Casterton specialist Elvison a couple of weeks ago. For me though this race is stronger than last year's running and he might be a bit too high in the weights to win a race like this now, but he should run his race. Roland Garros would be an apt winner given the French Open is going on at the moment. He has been a bit in and out over fences, but although he was 14L when 3rd behind Tolemac and Under The Bridge at Warrnambool, I thought it was a nice run for his first start over fences this prep. You would imagine he will come for the run and he has won a trial since. Castrofrancaru won both hurdle starts last season and it is interesting they are going straight over fences with him this season. He comes here in good form as he won a BM58 on the flat at Kyneton earlier in the month. He then had a first steeple trial at Traralgon and whilst he jumped well on the whole he did jump out to his right a bit. It wasn't really bad, but against some experienced chasers it might not help him first up over fences in a proper race. I really liked Hurry Cane's win at Pakenham where he beat Grand Annual winner Rockstar Ronnie. He was only 6th behind him at Warrnambool, but he just didn't stay the 5500m trip. He drops back to 3400m here and he thrives on a Heavy track so has plenty in his favour. The other one to consider is Under The Bridge who ran a solid race on his chasing return over 3200m here in April. He then went to Warrnambool and was 2nd to his stablemate Tolemac who franked the form at Sandown last weekend. He was 8L in front of Roland Garros that day and whilst that one does have the scope to improve fitness wise, I still think Under The Bridge has a very good chance of upholding the form. So from those 6 I am going to whittle it down to two. Hurry Cane just didn't stay in the Grand Annual and I think his Pakenham win should make him favourite for this. The other one to back is Under The Bridge who has run really solidly in both starts this season and given what Tolemac did at Sandown, there was nothing wrong in being 8L behind him. Hurry Cane 1pt @ 5/1 with Bet365 Under The Bridge 1pt @ 19/5 with Bet365
  2. Race 2 The Australian Steeplechase is almost a re-run of the Brierly at Warrnambool with the first 4 home all taking each other on again here. Britannicus came out on top that day after a superb move from his jockey when they took the sharp turn back onto the course proper. He won this race last year, but it wasn't a strong contest at all and I'm not sure he's a true stayer at this trip. The ground was pretty quick last year as well and I think it will be a bit softer this time around. He also received 3kg from Flying Agent 3 weeks ago and now he only gets 1kg and there was just 1.75L between them. Flying Agent made the running that day and had a decent lead at one stage before being over taken at that turn. Down the straight he dropped to 3rd behind Valac, but found more on the run to the line to get closer than seemed likely to finish 2nd. I think this trip will bring added to the weight turn around will mean Flying Agent will come out on top here. I also get the feeling he might find more improvement from that run. Valac was 3rd at Warrnambool, but this trip stretches him so he's not for me. There is one horse who didn't run in the Brierly who has to be considered and that is the winner of the BM120 Chase at the meeting, Tolemac. This race is obviously stronger, but he was really well backed and bolted up on his chasing debut. At this stage I still fancy Flying Agent to be the better horse, but it wouldn't surprise me if he went close. Flying Agent 1pt @ 2/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair Race 4 This is a fascinating BM120 hurdle and a really strong contest. The 3 maiden hurdle winners from Warrnambool all line up here and Impulser is the favourite. He was the big talking horse going into the contest and he made all to win comfortably enough. The ex Joseph O'Brian son of Frankel should come on for the experience, but I wasn't as wowed as I thought I would be by his win. Pure Deal won division 1, but he did so in the slowest time of the 3 and he has already finished behind, albeit just, Teofilo Star at Pakenham in April. Teofilo Star actually clocked the fastest time of the 3 winners and I was really impressed with his 8L victory. His jockey can claim which will come in handy and for me he is the one they have to beat. The other one to consider is another son of Frankel in the shape of Nelson, who won his first 2 starts over hurdles. He was then soundly beaten by Circle The Sun in the Champion Novice though when a 5.25L 2nd. Circle The Sun had just got the better of Teofilo Star at Pakenham so on a line through him he should have the beating of Nelson. Teofilo Star 1pt @ 11/5 with Bet365 Race 5 Amazingly given how often he wins Saunter Boy is usually a backable price and he was certainly superb value when winning the Galleywood a couple of weeks ago. Blandford Lad who had beaten him at Pakenham could only finish 4th at Warrnambool, but that race was set weights and this is back into a handicap so in theory that gives him a chance a again. Even so I think Saunter Boy can land this race for the 3rd time running as for me he improved from Pakenham to Warrnambool and he loves it at Sandown. The interesting one is Circle The Sun who jumps up into this company having won his maiden and then impressing in the Champion Novice at Warrnambool. He's only 5 and he might well win one of these one day, but I'm not sure he's quite up to it just yet. Saunter Boy is too short to back on this occasion though so it will be a sit and watch race and hopefully we see another special performance from the grey superstar.
  3. Last race at Aintree is a point-to-point bumper for horses that have run in British points. I have gone through every runner. Achtung Baby - Was 3rd in a point bumper at Bangor in March when after being held up in last for half the trip he then moved forward and was 2nd with a couple of furlongs left before finishing 3rd. He was 4L behind Thank You Ma'am who finished 3rd in the Exeter contest. That would suggest to me that he won't be good enough for this and he showed little in a 2m4f maiden over Easter when pulling up. Cadell - His owner was training him for his two point wins in March and April both at Overton. Comments after the race mention that he has been very slow to come to hand and he has shown that in both his races so far. In his Maiden win he was outpaced before finishing strongly to win. The 2nd has done nothing at all for the form since and sadly had to be put down last time, but the 3rd was Baron Briggs who you may remember ran in the Buccleuch Cup at Kelso last month and showed he had an engine, but jumped terribly and he finished 3rd. He only had one rival last time and did look in trouble turning for home, but he won easy in the end and took some pulling up. That rival though was pulled up in the Heart Of All England at Hexham last week so it doesn't really tell us much about how good he actually is. I suspect he is good enough to win this, but given his greeness so far you just have to wonder if in a bigger field over a shorter trip if he might get going when it is too late. Douglas Longbottom - Had 1 run in a Larkhill bumper last year when a well beaten 5th, but has clearly needed time as he was off for a year until finishing 3rd at Badbury Rings. He was really well backed that day though from 10/1 into 2/1F so obviously he was expected to go better. That was over 3m and he dropped back to 2m4f when he finished 3rd again the following month. He didn't look a natural over fences in that race, but it was clear he had an engine. Easter Monday he finally broke the maiden tag at Cothelstone and again he didn't jump efficiently, but he beat the even money favourite by an easy 10L in the end. This race was mentioned as the target after that win and I do get the feeling he will be seen to better effect without any fences in the way at the moment, so for me he is a possible winner. Fly Awhile Johnny - Has shown very little to date and would be a shock winner. Grandpa's Folly - Was a promising 2nd when making his debut in a point bumper at Brafield in March when a 3L 2nd to Roseburg. He stayed on nicely that day, but he didn't build on that when going over fences in a 2m4f maiden at Dingley 3 weeks ago. Maybe bumpers will be more his thing and if he was coming here on the back of the debut effort, he'd be a shorter price. It's Unbelievable - Was a 20L 4th in debut at Alnwick and then showed wayward tendencies when a 15L 2nd to Take It Upstairs at Mosshouses. He went hung badly round the bend out of the straight and you do wonder if he might do the same tonight. It was a fair effort, but the winner quickened away from him very nicely in the closing stages and even under these very different conditions (Mosshouses is a testing track and the ground was testing as well) I can't see the form being reversed. Supreme Johnson - Was a tailed off 7th at Exeter and in 3 runs since over 3m he has pulled up twice and 3rd of 4 in between those two runs. Tongue-tie goes on for the first time but it would need to work a miracle for me. Wottinger - Looks a bit short in the betting to me based on what he's done so far. Ran wide at a bend on debut in a bumper at Alnwick in January and ended up finishing 3rd. Has been 2nd in 2 2m4f maidens since, both last month, but he looked in need of further not shorter and others have shown better form so far. Penniless - Won her first 2 starts over here at Charing and Parham, but don't think either were strong races and the 2nd ran out at 2 out in the latter win and it would have been a good race between the 2. The winning time that day was very slow and she wasn't great at High Easter last time. I suspect she wont be good enough. Roseburg - Was a well beaten 3rd behind Clover All Over who did win the Exeter contest and she looked like she would benefit form the run which is exactly what happened when she won at Brafield in March. Her jockey said she has a high cruising speed and that he was expecting them to get to him, but she found more again. Her trainer expects her to keep improving and will be an even better horse next year, but she might well land this first. Delilah Bucks - Was promoted to 3rd on debut at Sandon over Easter and given there were 4 horses separated by a length it is hard to know what the form is worth. The winning time was 7 seconds slower than the first division though and all 4 horses were carrying 13lbs less. Maybe she wasn't able to show her true ability because of that, but for me the percentage call is to oppose. Hazels Delight - Won a 2m4f mares maiden in comfortable fashion at Cothelstone in March, but it wasn't a strong contest despite the big field and she was given a pretty low rating on the back of it. The time was slow as well. You always have to respect a young horse from the Poste yard, but I prefer others to win this. Saunton Surf - Only had 3 rivals to beat on debut at Maisemore at the end of March but she did so in dominate fashion. Hard to know what she beat in that bumper, but the 3rd had finished a good 2nd on debut so that adds a little bit of substance to the form. Clearly the trainer knows what he's doing and I did like the way she quickened away from them. Looks a leading contender. Take It Upstairs - Got hampered at about half way at Alnwick on debut and then still looked green in the finish when finishing 2nd. They pulled a long way clear of the 3rd and then as mentioned above she quickened away in really nice style to easily beat It's Unbelievable at Mosshouses. On balance I think it was probably the most impressive performance I saw whilst looking at the videos, but this will be a very different test as both those tracks are undulating and have stiff climbs. Verdict - I think this could be a decent renewal of this race and there could be a few horses worth following going forwards. Take It Upstairs, Saunton Surf, Roseburg, Douglas Longbottom and Cadell look the ones to concentrate on for me. Cadell could win, but he's priced up on connections rather than what he's actually achieved so I'm happy to look elsewhere. As I say just above I did think Take It Upstairs put in the most impressive performance and whilst this will be a different test I have to have her covered. I think Douglas Longbottom is the one that is really over priced at double figure odds as he has clearly been showing plenty at home given the way he has been backed in points. The way he jumps fences though is hindering him at the moment and this test could be much more suitable at this stage of his career. Roseburg is next on the list as she looks progressive and will continue to improve with experience. Saunton Surf just misses out as I think she is about the right price now. Take It Upstairs 1pt @ 6/1 with most bookies (Hills are 13/2 and take up to 9/2) Douglas Longbottom 0.75pts e/w @ 14/1 with Bet365 (take up to 9/1) Roseburg 0.5pts e/w @10/1 with most bookies including Bet365 to 4 places (Hills are 11/1 for 3 places take up to 7/1)
  4. Casterton is the venue tomorrow morning. We have two divisions of the maiden hurdle, a handicap hurdle featuring Cheltenham 3rd Bell Ex One and then a handicap chase over their hedge fences. Race 1 A few of these ran against each other at Warrnambool last week and for me the two to focus on are Quiet Escape and Carisbrook who finished 2nd and 3rd to Impulsar and there was just 0.25L between them. There is an extra 300m to go in this race and the ground wont be so testing, but both horses seemed to stay on well enough and it is hard to split them. I think one of them will win and both are bigger than they should be so I will split my stakes and back them both. Booker Tee was 5th in that race and did stay on, but his jumping was not good and he might need more experience. Killourney was 6th in one of the other maiden hurdles at Warrnambool, but he's starting to look a bit exposed with that being his 5th hurdle start. Abreed made his hurdles debut at Pakenham and didn't really travel at all after knuckling on landing at the 1st. He is probably capable of better, but not sure he can beat the two at the head of the market. A shade of odds on coupled seems fair enough to me. Carisbrook 1pt @ 13/5 with Bet365 Quiet Escape 1pt @ 14/5 with Bet365 Race 2 Vividredsky is favourite for this, but that surprises me a bit because he was very ordinary at Warrnambool last week and it almost seems as if he's been put in as market leader just because he was short in the betting that day. Obviously there is scope for improvement, but he looks worth opposing for me. A couple who finished in front of him are much bigger in the betting although I'm going to look elsewhere. I thought that Fiorente Lass ran really well on her hurdles debut to finish 2nd at Pakenham. I felt she was running on the worst of the track as well and the front 3 pulled well clear of the rest. I'd have her as favourite for this so will take her to go one place better. Fiorente Lass 1pt @ 19/5 with Bet365 Race 3 A slight concern that Bell Ex One wasn't great on the flat last time, but that was his first run since Melbourne Cup day and I suspect he will come on plenty for it. He finished 3rd in the Fred Winter last season and then went to Australia and he was superb on his first start of hurdles at Ballarat where he beat Stern Idol. For me it was the best hurdling performance in Australia last season and whilst he has to give plenty of weight away here he is classy enough to still win. I was very impressed with his young jockey at Warrnambool and the 3kg he takes off will be very handy. Heir To The Throne ran OK on his first hurdles start of the season when 5th and this better ground should help him. Fabalot put a a disappointing run at Pakenham behind him when 2nd to Saunter Boy at Warrnambool last week. A repeat of that makes him the main danger, but I think Bell Ex One can win this despite the weight. Bell Ex One 2pts @ 15/8 with William Hill Race 4 Elvision loves this unique course and distance. He won all 3 races over this course and distance last season including this race by 25L. He did come into this having finished 2nd at Warrnambool, but even though he was only 6th last week he was running in the Brierly rather than the BM120 handicap and it was a perfectly good effort. It was a step forward from his return at Pakenham and I would be amazed if his trainer hadn't been working towards this race. Historic often chases Elvision home and he did win last time at Warrnambool back in March, but that race wasn't very strong and I don't see him beating his old rival here. Two chasing newcomers in Armansky and Rudimental are the slight unknowns especially the former who has shown a little over hurdles. If Elvision is in peak form though I don't see him getting beaten as he just thrives over the hedge fences here. Elvison 2.5pts @ 13/8 with William Hill
  5. I like West Lawn in the 7.40 at Hexham tonight and he was twice a winner over hurdles last year and I think there is every chance a mark of 85 over hurdles is a very kind one given he won off this mark here over hurdles back in June. He has had a couple of starts in points this year and at Alnwick in January he looked in need of the run when finishing a well beaten 4th. It could be there was an issue because he didn't run again for another 3 months at Corbridge on Easter Monday. He was really well backed that day from 10/1 into 3/1 and he bolted up by an easy 12L. He won't mind what the ground is and he clearly stays well. It isn't the worse race you will find for the grade, but he looks well handicapped to me so looks a solid e/w bet. Without Conviction is the favourite and he had come down the weights and started to run well again before winning in good style at Ayr last time off a mark of 94. He has been raised 8lbs for that and the jockey can only claim 5 now not 7 plus he has struggled off marks in the 100s before. Ex S'Elence looked well handicapped off 77 based on his two pointing wins earlier in the year and so it proved as he won over 2m4f here in heavy ground (it was Cheltenham week and I missed seeing him running that day). He was pulled up next time, but has been 2nd twice and won again at Newcastle since. The last 2nd was over course and distance a couple of weeks ago and he is should go close again. Dolly Dancer has been backed, but I am struggling to fancy her. She does have a fair record here having won 2, finished 2nd twice and 3rd once from 10 starts, but she needs to improve a fair bit on her two runs so far this year. Event Of Sivola was 3rd just behind Ex S'Elence 12 days ago, but ran as if he needed the 4m he won over here in November and will need lots of rain to make it a real test of stamina. Skyhill won 3 times last season and loves a test of stamina. Has gone up 7lbs for the last win 3 weeks ago at Sedgefield, but that wasn't much of a race and I think he needs plenty of rain again. Eveque could be a danger as he was 4th in the Ex S'Elence race here 2 weeks ago which was a big improvement on his 1st two runs after a year off. He is 0-14 under rules, but cheek pieces go on for the first time and that might just eek out some more improvement. Another danger could be Robert D'Ores especially if he is backed. He won an Irish point by 16L in December and he has got himself handicapped by running in maiden and novice hurdles over 2m and 2m4f. He now steps up to 3m and goes over fences for his first run in a handicap off a mark of just 79. Now he was slightly fortunate to win that point as the leader fell at 2 out and then the next leader fell at the last, but it was still a run good enough to suggest he might be well handicapped. I will have a bit on Robert D'Ores as he has been backed as well. Eveque and Ex S'Elence are also dangers, but the main bet I have is certainly going to be on West Lawn who if he runs as well as he did at Corbridge will see him bang there. West Lawn e/w @ 11/2 with William Hill
  6. Must admit it was worse than it usually is, but was confident he would have the class to win anyway and so it proved. I don't think he was at his best, but that was a top class effort because the 2nd is a good horse.
  7. Cheltenham Hunter Chase night is here and as usual I have previewed the whole card with something about every horse running tonight. The bets are at the top for easy access and the previews below that. Hopefully it will be a good and profitable evening and Bradley Gibbs might well end up with a 4-timer. List of bets 4.50 - Fier Jaguen 5pts @ 4/5 with everyone apart from BetVictor and Coral who are 5/6 (take up to 8/13) 5.25 - Theshoddytradesman 1pt @ 3/1 with everyone apart from Hills who are 10/3 (take up to 5/2) & Lift Me Up 0.5pts @ 5/2 with eveyone apart from Hills and BetVictor who are 11/4 (take up to 2/1) 6.00 - Marcle Ridge 2pts @ 2/1 with everyone apart from 365 who are 15/8 (take up to 6/4) & Trio For Rio 1pt @ 3/1 with everyone apart from Bet365 who are 7/2 (take up to 5/2) 6.35 - Premier Magic to beat Dandy Dan 1pt f/c and Dandy Dan 0.5pts e/w @ 7/1 with William Hill and BetVictor (365 are 15/2 and take up to 6/1) 7.10 - Highway Jewel 3pts @ 10/11 with everyone (take up to 8/11) & Sine Nomine 0.5pts @ 10/3 with everyone apart from Hills and BetVictor who are 7/2 and 365 who are 3/1 (take up to 5/2) 7.45 - Law Of Gold 2pts @ 13/8 with everyone apart from Hills who are 7/4 (take up to 6/4) & Step Back 1pt e/w @ 12/1 with everyone (Paddys and Betfair are 4 places and take up to 8/1) 8.17 - Solomon Grey 1pt e/w @ 7/1 with everyone apart from 365 who are 13/2 (take up to 5/1) & Fix It All 1pt @ 4/1 with Skybet, Willam Hill, BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes and Betfred (take up to 3/1) 4.50 Envious Editor - Looked like winning this race last year as he cruised into contention only to then get outbattled by Envoye Special and I never thought I would see a horse get outbattle by him. Landed the first hunter chase of the season by beating Singapore Saga which is decent enough form. He then disappointed at Hereford before running as well as could have been in the Walrus at Haydock when an 18L 2nd to Famous Clermont. After that run he left Joe O'Shea's yard and ran no more than OK at Ludlow when 3rd behind Fix It All and Espoir De Teillee. I wouldn't rule him out totally, but I don't think he has the class of a couple of these and hard not to have his finishing effort last year in the back of your mind. Caryto Des Brosses - Has been one of the best hunter chasers around when he's not been injured over the years. He was beaten a neck by Hazel Hill on this card in 2019 and then lost out by the same margin in the Stratford Foxhunters to Wonderful Charm. He then only had 1 run in 2020 and 2021, but returned last year in good form and looked the winner on this card last year until Dandy Dan came through with a late run to beat him. This year he returned with a solid win at Southwell, before running below par at Newbury when 5th behind Lift Me Up. I think the ground was the big issue that day though and I'm prepared to look over that effort. He had a perfect prep for this when bolting up at Garthorpe a couple of weeks ago in a quick time. It is interesting they are dropping him back to 2m and he was certainly speedy enough for 2m4f in his younger days and I think he will be fine over it. Santon - Looks like he doesn't really stay 3m as he was beaten at Garthorpe a couple of times a year ago in Opens and in his last run he was beaten when falling at the last in a 3 runner Ladies Open at Shelfield Park in March. Prior to that though he ran well to finish 2nd to Time Leader and then won over 2m4f back at Leicester the following week. That was a weak race though and he can make mistakes which would be a concern round here. He would need the two leading horses to run below par to have any chance. Takethepunishment - Another horse who has had his issues over the years as he has only run 17 times and is 13. Made a winning hunter chase debut when landing last year's Buccleuch Cup at Kelso with ease. That wasn't a strong race though and he was only 3rd to Point The Way at Perth following that. Has won both points this season although they backed up my view point that he looks a horse to have plenty of stamina. The race he won last time at Overton took 6m 53s to run and he got himself outpaced between the final 2 fences before staying on to win. So I have a big concern about the trip and I doubt he would be good enough anyway. Famoso - Ran in this race last year when a well beaten 5th. He has been beaten 6 times in points this season and remains a maiden. He doesn't look to even stay 2m4f so the trip is right, but he will be outclassed again. Fier Jaguen - Clearly you all know what I think about this horse and he was a bit unfortunate at Aintree as he just pecked on landing at the 7th which is the ditch on the run to Bechers'. Clearly jumping out to his right didn't help, but the fact he was so bold over his fences meant he just pecked and Bradley had little chance of staying on. He seemed to love the experience though as he jumped a fair few of the other fences with the field. I think he would have been 1st or 2nd if he had remained in the race and whilst I am a big fan of Caryto Des Brosses I just don't think he is as good as Fier Jaguen. His 3 pointing performances this year have been so impressive and in the last two the times he clocked were quick and the speed rating he received was very high. I don't have any concerns about the trip for him, because he has such a high cruising speed that he just going to blast off in front and it will be a case of catch me if you can and I don't think they will catch him. I obviously expect he will jump right again, but apart from Caryto Des Brosses is the only horse class who can get near him and I think he will still be more than good enough to win. Fils Spirtuel - Showed a bit of promise in maiden hurdles in the 19/20 season for Willie Mullins, but he hasn't progressed and has struggled in Restricted's for his new trainer. Does run like he needs 2m, but unlikely to be good enough. Josh The Plod - Won a couple of times last year in the South East which is pretty much the weakest area when it comes to pointing. Had 3 starts this season and run no more than OK. Makes the running, but that is unlikely to happen here unless he goes really fast and shouldn't be good enough. Precious Bounty - A solid pointer and his best run so far this season wasn't either of his wins, but his 2nd to Law Of Gold at Garthorpe. That was the only time Gina Andrews has ridden him though which might not be a coincidence. He is another one who tends to make the running as he did at Stratford last time when 3rd behind Sine Nomine, but he is unlikely to be able to do that tonight. I think the trip round here will be OK and whilst he will need the main two to disappoint he has a chance of being best of the rest. Reweritetherules - Was a 14L 3rd in this race last year, but was in better form then so might not be able to even repeat that effort let alone for 2 places better. Verdict - To me this is a match race between Fier Jaguen and Caryto Des Brosses and firm preference is for the former. I have made no secret of how much I think of this horse and whilst he wasn't able to show it at Aintree, I fully expect him to show how good he is here. Most of these won't be able to live with his high cruising speed and for me the only way he gets beat is he fail to get round again. I suspect Dale Peters will sit in behind Fier Jaguen and hope that he can pick him up on the run-in, but I don't think he will be able to. I'd be a little surprised if anything else won but Envious Editor and Precious Bounty would be my picks of the rest. 5.25 All Is True - The Eillis team have won 2 of the last 3 renewals of this so clearly he has to be respected as their chosen runner. He is 3/3 for them this season going through the grades and each time they have bene very complementary about him after the race. He won his maiden and restricted with ease both at Horseheath and then he beat Frisson Collonges by 22L at Garthrope in an Intermediate which is his biggest winning margin. That doesn't tell the full story though because he was in a great battle Lagan Valley until that one decided to run out at the last. I think All Is True had the upper hand at time, but it is good form because Lagan Valley has been in very good form this season and he won next time out. A leading contender. Bonamargy - Did win his Intermediate last time, but that was his 23rd start and if he is good enough then this race has much less quality than I think it does. Camdonian - Is 3/3 since going pointing for new connections, but I'm not sure there is a huge substance to his form. He did beat a Tom Eillis horse when winning his maiden at Charm Park, but that horse was well beaten next time and just getting the better of Red Opium last time doesn't scream winner of this to me. Frisson Collonges - Held by both Lift Me Up and All Is True and an unlikely winner. Lift Me Up - Luckily for him this is a race which doesn't carry a penalty for winning a hunter chase because he is the only horse which has done just that. I thought there was plenty to like about his Newbury win because he didn't jump very well and he showed greenness when hanging in behind the front running 3rd. Drop Flight was flying home to finish 2nd and he was 2nd at Hexham next time. He clearly is a very promising horse, but his jumping round here in a bigger field would worry me. He is named after Geri Horner's first number 1 solo single and her husband Christian Horner is the other owner with her. He has the best form in the race, but on the other hand he is the only one who has been able to show form like that. Clearly one of the possible winners though. Pyleigh Court - Chris Barber clearly didn't see much in him as he got rid after just 3 starts, but he has gone on to win 3/4 for his new yard. The only time he was beaten was 1st up this season when beaten 0.5L by Theshoddytradesman. He was getting 5lbs from the winner that day and whilst including jockey claims he gets 4lbs here Bradley is way superior to Ella Herbison. The race he won last time was only a match so told us very little. I think you have to give him some sort of chance given how unexposed he is and how close he got to Theshoddytradesman Quintin's Man - He clearly wasn't suited to 2m4f when he finished 16L behind Theshoddytradesman and Pyleigh Court at Buckfastleigh in March and he showed that by winning over 3m and 3m4f on his next two starts. Whilst he will get a stamina test here, I do think he wants softer ground. It was a fair run when 2nd at Exeter 2 weeks ago, but this race is much stronger than that one so I suspect he will find this hard enough with the ground not ideal. Slievegar - Does seem to have improved for the change of yard as he's done pretty well pointing this season, but he has been stuffed in the same Cartmel hunter chase twice and it is hard to see him having improved enough to play a part here. Tekap - Was 2nd in the Restricted Final at Stratford in 2021, but that was a shocking race and he's struggled on the whole since including being 23L behind All Is True at Garthorpe in March. The New Kid - Finished 2nd beaten 0.75L by Runwiththetide at Thorpe Lodge on Easter Monday and the rime was by far the quickest on the card, but that race of 4 was the biggest field out of the 5 races and I wouldn't want to read too much into the time. That was the 3rd time he has finished 2nd this season and he pulled up the other time. Theshoddytradesman - Is 4/4 since coming to the UK and interestingly given this race is 3m2f, 3 of those victories were over 2m4f. He was really impressive over Christmas at Chaddesley Corbett when bolting up by 30L and it was the same card Premier Magic and Fier Jaguen won on as well. He stepped up to 3m next time at Chipley and won by an eased down 30L again. I think this was probably his most impressive performance and he certainly wasn't stopping. His winning time was 10 seconds quicker that Quintin's Man in the following race. Last time he had to work much harder for his success at Buckfastleigh back over 2m4f and only beat Pyleigh Court by 0.5L. His jumping wasn't as good as it can be and I just wonder if he wasn't quite at his best. He always looked like he would always hold on though and the 2-month break isn't going to have done him any harm at all. He is the biggest price of the Gibbs 4, but he still has a massive chance. Red Opium - Does seem to have improved of late despite only winning 3 of her 16 starts pointing and hasn't been out of the first 2 in her last 5 starts including when winning at Overton on Saturday. He was a 3.5L 2nd to Cambonian in a race where they were the only 2 finishes. The time was decent and he will certainly stay as that race measured as 3m2f and he ran like needed 4m. Jockey change a plus, but whilst he is better than his official rating of 71 I would be surprised if he was good enough to take this. Runwiththetide - Was really struggling under rules for Dan Skelton, but looks a changed horse for Kelly Morgan in her two starts pointing winning both in March over 2m4f and on Easter Monday over 3m. Nothing overly impressive and at Thorpe Lodge she was beating The New Kid by 0.75L. I always respect the trainers runners and I suspect she would be very well handicapped off a mark of 94, but I'm not sure she is as good as some of these. Vedict - I am not sure there is as much depth to this race as the numbers suggest and for me the front 3 in the betting are the most like winners. I've had Theshoddytradesman lined up for this since he won at Chaddesley Corbett and whilst he has to go and prove he will stay I think he will. I suspect he wasn't quite at his best the last time and 2 months off will have done him good. All Is True is sure to give it a good go for the Ellis team, but I will save on Lift Me Up. I do have concerns about him jumping wise, but that was only his 5th start and every chance he would have learnt plenty from that experience and you would like to think his jumping and his greenness will be better tonight. Out of the bigger prices I am wary of Runwiththetide from a trainer perspective more than form, but Pyleigh Court could well have been slightly under estimated by the market. 6.00 Bloodstone - Finished 2nd in 3 Restricted's on the bounce before easily winning one at Lockinge. Even so that form is below what will be required to win this. Bobby Bow - Was missing for 21 months before a decent enough 2nd in the mud at Ffos Las off 106 in a handicap in January. Wasn't anywhere near as good next time though at Ayr and he was a well beaten 3rd of 3 on his pointing debut at Chaddesley last month. Not a total no hoper on the Ffos Las form, but hard to fancy on what he's done since plus the trip might stretch him. Fairly Famous - Showed the odd glimmer of promise in 4 starts for Olly Murphy, but has really found his form since joining current connections and has won 4/4. He is clearly progressive and this is usually the weakest race on the card, but when you look at the SPs of the last 3 wins (1/2, 1/4 and 1/7) you realise he hasn't beaten an awful lot. Hard to really put a handle on how good he is because of the weakness of the races he's won and I would rather have seen more substance to the form before backing him. Hidden Charmer - Was a 15L 3rd in this race last year and hard to see where the improvement is going to come to go 2 places better. Has run OK this season, but did go from being beaten a length by Forest Chimes to being beaten 13L by him last time. Let Me Entertain U - Nothing of the quality of the other two opponents he faced at Taunton last time, but he was well behind from a long way before pulling up and hard to have any confidence about him. Marcle Ridge - On his day has been a more than useful hunter chaser and pointer and took this race in very easy fashion back in 2019. In 2020 he ran a huge race from the front when finishing 6th in the race that was still known as the Foxhunter then. In 2021 he was a bit disappointing at Warwick and very disappointing at Worcester, but inbetween those two efforts he won the 2m5f race on this card. Last season he started the campaign by beating Famous Clermont at Barbury which even though he has improved since then was still a hell of an effort. He then went and disappointed a bit at Hereford. Maybe he wasn't quite right that day, and he has certainly been a hard horse to keep sound, because he wasn't seen again until this March when he won a Mixed Open with ease at Howick. No doubting that he has the best form in the race and if it is one of his better days then he will be hard to beat. Moratorium - Thought he had this race won last year until Trio For Rio came and mugged him late on. The 2nd to Not That Fuisse was decent at Wetherby and then he won at Alnwick. Not surprisingly found the Cheltenham Festival too tough, but he ran really poorly at Exeter after that. To be fair that came soon enough and he is better than he showed there and I'm sure he will put up a better showing. Trio For Rio - Has won this race for the last 2 years. In 2021 he was all out to just hold on and then as I mention above he got up on the run-in to beat Moratorium by a length. He came into that race on the back of a pulled-up effort and he's not coming into this in great form either. He's been outpaced in his last two races when a 17L 2nd and a 5.25L 4th last time. I suspect though his season has been all about landing the hat-trick in this and you couldn't rule him out from landing it. Verdict - If Fairly Famous did go and win then fair enough, but there isn't much substance to those 1's for me so I think the winner will come from the bottom 3 on the race card. Marcle Ridge has the best form and I would imagine this has been the target for him so he is the main bet. I will also cover Trio For Rio as you obviously can't knock his form in this race. 6.35 Dandy Dan - Great performance to win this race last year under a good ride from Laureen and the 3rd in the Stratford Foxhunters was good as well considering she got caught out a bit round the sharper track. This season he was behind Law Of Gold again on his return at Garthorpe in February where he looked in need of the race in the parade ring before the race. I put him up as a big price outsider at The Festival when James King took over in the saddle, but he struggled to get involved in ground that would have been plenty soft enough for him. As long as the ground doesn't get too soft here he looks the one most likely to take advantage if Premier Magic under performs. Myth Buster - Made Premier Magic work hard to win at Chaddesley Corbett in December when beaten 3.5L in the end. There was 5lbs difference in the weights that day and there is 4lbs difference today so fair to say that form shouldn't be reversed and he was well behind him at The Festival when unseating at the 2nd last. He has won over 4m this season and was entered in the 4m race tonight, but connections have opted to run Step Back in that (the right choice I hope). I can see him running well enough, but not sure he is good enough to win even if Premier Magic runs below par. Poludora - Was 30L behind Myth Buster in February and that pretty much sums up his chances here. Premier Magic - The Cheltenham Festival Hunters Chase is working out very well form wise. Its On The Line won at Punchestown last week, Shantou Flyer won at Exeter, Rocky's Howya has been focusing on pointing, Chris's Dream was running a huge race until falling at Punchestown, Famous Clermont won at Aintree and Vaucelet was 2nd at Punchestown. It was a massive shame that Premier Magic couldn't run at Punchestown last week, but seemingly he has this race at his mercy. The only thing that worries me is his trainer mentioned that he is a bad traveller so had sent him to Ireland early to settle in and clearly a trip to Ireland and back for no reason is hardly ideal. Apart from that though he should be hard to beat and on form he wouldn't even need to be at his best to win. Encounter A Giant - Was well behind Premier Magic and Myth Buster at Chaddesley over Christmas, but has got his act together in his last two starts winning a Mixed Open at Bangor and then landing the Lady Dudley Cup back at Chaddesley last month. That suggests to me he is in much better form than when he last raced against Premier Magic and Myth Buster and whilst he wont beat an on song Premier Magic he can run well. Rebel Dawn Rising - Not had any luck under rules so far this season as he was brought down at Fakenham on Gold Cup day and then he decided to jink right at the last back there on Easter Monday and unseat his jockey over the last when the race was won. He didn't really seem to stay when he pulled up in the Intermediate Final on this card last year and ended up pulling up. Maybe something came to light that day as they are prepared to give the course and distance another go. I think he's got a fair bit of ability though so if he does stay a top 3 finish wouldn't surprise. Trappist Monk - Landed a very weak hunter chase at Fontwell with ease back in March and has since had a walk over and a win at Parham. That along with a win at Charing means he has won 4 on the bounce, but it would be a big surprise if he made it 5 here. Verdict - This is Premier Magic's race to lose and the only way I can see him getting beaten is if the wasted trip to Ireland has left a mark. If he's in his usual form then it's his race to lose. Dandy Dan is clear 2nd best for me though and I am surprised he's not 2nd favourite so I will back him in the forecast and have a small e/w bet on him. 7.10 Sine Nomine - Jumped terribly when 3rd in the Intermediate Final last year, but clearly based on her Stratford win that has been fixed. She was very well backed ahead of that contest and the money was spot on as she travelled really well throughout the race. Her jumping was spot on and she always looked the most likely winner. I do think the soft ground helped because I think she is the only one who handled it, but given the ease of her success I suspect she would have won anyway. If she brings that jumping performance to this race then she has a leading chance. Singapore Saga - A likeable mare who ran really well behind Envious Editor in the first hunter chase of the season. She won her next two points and took advantage of Highway Jewel's fall at the 2nd to win the first of those. She then went on to win at Exeter where she outstayed Viroflay and then Darren Andrews did all he could to try and beat Shantou Flyer over the same course and distance last month, but in the end she was outclassed. Went back pointing a couple of weeks ago and toughed it out to win a Mixed Open. Bare form of that race is nothing special, but clearly has a leading chance in this. Highway Jewel - Was due to run in the Festival Hunter Chase the last 3 years, but in 2021 they forgot to enter her, she was injured last year and then this year they decided to skip the race after she fell at Chipley Park on her reappearance. Clearly that worked out well for the trainer given he won the race anyway, but it also proves how good they think she is. I thought she would have had a right chance in 2021 after she had hammered Hazel Hill in a point that season and she then finished a close 2nd to Latenightpass in a hot hunter chase at Warwick. That year she landed this race and bizarrely she jumped terribly and to her right given she had jumped so well on the whole at Warwick. That has to be in the back of your mind slightly. She had no trouble beating Singapore Saga in her only start last year and was 1/3 to beat her again when she fell. She went to Lydstep on Easter Monday and she made all to win with ease in a quick time. I think she would have been able to win both the races that Sine Nomine and Singapore Saga have won this season and for me she is the best of the 3 runners. They also have to give her weight as she doesn't have a penalty anymore. Kalabaloo - A former winner of this race 2019, but was put in her place by Feuille De Lune last season and she isn't as good as she was back then. Did win last time out at Charm Park, but would be a surprise if she was able to land this. Miss Seagreen - Was beaten 30L by Highway Jewel when 3rd in this 2 years ago and her running style suggests she might have been better off in the 4m race. She was ridden by an inexperienced jockey first time out when a staying on 3rd at Larkhill to I K Brunel, but it was a similar story at the same venue in February when ridden by tonight's rider. It happened again at Maisemore last month when 2nd to Another Venture and given she was staying on in this race in 2021 it seems she finds things happening a bit too quick for her over even this trip. Tangoed - Total no hoper in this contest. Verdict - I respect Singapore Saga and Sine Nomine's chances and would favour the Stratford winner over the Exeter winner. Highway Jewel has already beaten Singapore Saga and whilst she might have improved a little, I still think Highway Jewel is the better horse. Granted she will more than likely have to jump better than she did when she won this race 2 years ago, but that would appear to be an anomaly so I am happy enough to think she won't repeat that tonight. 7.45 Go Whatever - Clearly stays well as he landed the Sussex National last January, but he pulled up on his hunter chase debut behind Shantou Flyer at Exeter last month and whilst he might have needed it is going to take him to come forward a hell of a lot to get competitive in this. Shantou Flyer - Has had a hell of a season given he is now 13. Managed to beat Latenightpass at Chaddesley Corbett in December and then was 2nd to Famous Clermont at Wincanton. He then reversed that form by flying up the hill to finish 3rd to Premier Magic at The Festival to improve his fantastic record in that race. After that he won easily beating Singapore Saga last time at Exeter. Clearly quality wise he is one of the best horses in the race, but my concern is that he failed to stay in this race last year. He had only had one start that season 2 months prior so maybe he wasn't at peak fitness, but I am a little surprised they haven't decided to have another crack at Premier Magic instead of running in this. Cheltenham De Vaige - Ran well to finish 3rd to Dandy Dan in the feature race last year and managed to win a 3 runner handicap at Newton Abbot in August. Returned this season with a staying on 2nd over 3m6f at Cocklebarrow in January to Just Your Type and then the following month again ran like a stayer over 3m when winning at Badbury Rings. Might not be quite good enough to win, but ought to be staying on when some of these have cried enough and a place showing can't be ruled out. Law Of Gold - I still don't know how he finished 2nd in this race last year. He jumped terribly and I would go as far to say I have never seen a horse jump so badly, especially round Cheltenham, and still go so close to winning. Indeed, he looked like the winner throughout the home straight and fair play to the winner for finding plenty to hold him off. He had issues with his jumping ran he ran at The Festival in the past as well so you couldn't be certain he will show an improved round of jumping tonight, but it could hardly be any worse. After that he finished a very good 2nd to Vaucelet at Stratford. This season he has been seen just twice at Garthorpe and given he tends to need his first race there was certainly no shame in finishing a 14L 2nd to Premier Magic. He went back 3 weeks later and beat Precious Bounty in decent enough style. This and Stratford must be his two main targets and he gets round safely he is likely to go very close. Another Venture - Not sure he's ever been a horse who has struck me as needing 4m to be seen at his best and he has been well beaten in most of his hunter chase efforts to date albeit against some useful horses. Did win at Maisemore last time which was a decent enough effort, but has a lot of ground to make up on Shantou Flyer based on the Wincanton run. Desire De Joie - I must admit he is a tricky horse to weigh up for me. He wouldn't be out of this on his 2nd to Dolphin Square at Doncaster last season as he ran a hell of a race to be beaten a short head. He then was outclassed at The Festival behind Billaway and I suspect he wasn't at his best when last of 3 at Thorpe Lodge over Easter. He wasn't seen again until that same race last month and he was last again although he travelled well until tiring late on. The yard do very well with the horses they send hunter chasing so I am wary about him. Just Your Type - Clearly a horse who is all about stamina given his exploits under rules when with Charlie Longsdon and he has shown it again in points this season winning over 3m6f at Cocklebarrow and then landing the Grimthorpe Gold Cup over 4m1f at Sheriff Hutton a month ago. This race is clearly going to be tougher than either of those, but the fact he's a proven stayer ought to see him go well. Kilbrew Boy - Only rated 88 under rules and likely to be outclassed here. Port Of Mars - Was well beaten at Stratford by Sine Nomine last time and whilst this will be a very different test I don't think he will be troubling the main contenders. Potters Approach - Beaten 60L in a point 2 weeks ago and that sums up his chance. Step Back - I have been keen to see him run in this race for most of this season so am very pleased to see him turn up. He is an out and out stayer who likes to front run and it was only a year ago he ran a creditable 4th in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown to Hewick. This season he ran well in a couple of handicaps before not running his race at all at Wincanton on hunter chase debut. He then went to Taunton and made the running before finding himself outpaced turning for him. He stayed on again though and ended up getting 4th beaten 15L by I K Brunel. 3m round their on quick ground would not have been ideal and he then went to Carlisle over 3m in heavy ground and he ran his best race of the season and only just being beaten by Billy Bronco who thrives in such conditions. I certainly wouldn't rubbish the form because the winner was well beaten at Hexham last time because the ground wasn't soft enough for him that day. He was never going to make the running at Aintree, but he got round safely which was the best connections could have hoped for. I think this race is ideal for him because he should be able to front run at a nice gallop and he will keep going over 4m. The only slight concern I have is if he is still good enough to beat something like Law Of Gold, but otherwise I think he has a great chance of hitting the frame at least. Sugar Baron - The yards 2nd runner and I suspect 2nd string despite the fact Gina is riding him. Ran a huge race at this meeting in 2021 to finish 2nd and then he went on to beat Captain Cattistock at Warwick the following month. Was only seen once in 2022 when falling at Cocklebarrow and in 3 runs this season the evidence suggests he isn't as good as he was at the age of 13. The Whistle Blower - Pulled up in the Intermediate Final last year and I was really surprised to see him go off at only 9/2 at Carlisle given none of his form gave him a chance of beating the leading horses and the ground was testing. He did bounce back at Hornby on Easter Saturday and he won on the card for the 2nd year running. He beat Black Op which was a bit of a surprise on the face of it. Given that track is a stiff test of stamina you would think 4m would suit, but he ran like a non-stayer over 3m2f last season and he's hard to fancy on the back of the Carlisle effort as well. Verdict - Shantou Flyer clearly has the class to win, but he didn't have the stamina to this race last year so he is very short in my view. Ideally Law Of Gold will jump better than he did last year, but the fact he still went so close suggests to me that he will go close again even if his jumping isn't foot perfect. We know Just Your Type will stay, but he wouldn't have the class of the other two so would need them to underperform to win however he certainly has place claims. I do think Step Back is over priced though as this race has looked the ideal one for him. I think he can get into a nice rhythm out in front and he will keep battling all the way to the line. The yard has won this race before as well. 8.17 Fix It All - Had shown nothing at all since coming over from France before turning up in a hunter chase at Ludlow last month when a big price at 16/1. He was held up out the back and even turning for home he had a lot of work to do, but he was relentless down the home straight and after the 2nd last I thought he was going to go and win the race. I know that Espoir De Teillee hung after the last, but for me Fix It All would have won anyway and he went on to prove that was no fluke when bolting up over the same course and distance a few days later. This is obviously a very different test, but he is certainly a leading player on those Ludlow efforts. Not That Fuisse - Heidi Palin gets back on top after Jack Andrews took over at Aintree where he ran a very creditable 7th. Heidi gave him a good ride at Wetherby when beating Moratorium although she got caught out at Taunton when she was stuck behind horses going backwards leaving the back and that was just at the time Izzie Marshall kicked for home on I K Brunel and that won the race. He needs the ground to stay fairly quick and I do think he needs further nowadays, but he might well get away with it at Cheltenham. If he has come out of Aintree fine then he goes on the list of possible winners. Solomon Grey - Won this race in really good style last year and has an obvious chance this time around. After that win he ran in the big race at Stratford and didn't stay the trip. This season we have only seen him twice. He was well behind Not That Fuisse at Taunton, but the trainers horses always get better as the season goes on. He then injured himself rolling around the field so wasn't seen again until last week in the same Ludlow race he won last year. This time he was a 17L 2nd to Secret Investor, but he ran with great credit before understandably getting a bit tired late on. I still wonder if he is going to be in peak form just 9 days later, but I certainly expect him to come on plenty for that run. Dogon - Looks like being one of the social runners on the evening as has little chance on form. Magic Saint - Ran a cracking race on hunter chase debut to push Bennys King to 0.75L at Hereford and he then backed that up with an easy success at Wincanton. He beat Diligent by 13L on that occasion, but was value for more. However it is worth pointing out that Fix It All beat Diligent by 29L at Ludlow and I think Magic Saint essentially had little to beat that day. I thought he might run better at Aintree than he did, but he was beaten 55L and finished 13th in the end. You can always forgive a horse a bad run round the Grand National course though and he has good form over this course and distance so another possible winner for me. Ballotin - Good hunter chaser for David Maxwell in 2019 and if in that form he would have a chance in this, but he is nowhere near that level at the moment having been beaten in a match, pulled up at Warwick and then a well beaten 3rd back in a point last time. Count Simon - Had a very good season pointing having won his last 3 points. The last two of those though came in the weak south east area and he finished last at Newbury behind Lift Me Up on his hunter chase debut. Would need to leave that form well behind to have any chance here. Dickie Diver - 1st time tongue-tie, but I am not expecting that to work the miracle that he needs to win this. Funky Sensation - Even though he finished 6th at Exeter 2 starts back it wasn't a bad run given I don't think he really stays 3m and he ran like a non-stayer. He won on Saturday at Flete Park where he just held on to win by a head. None of that form anywhere near good enough to win this, but I'd be tempted to go handicapping with him off his mark of 85 and it might go down more after this. Oistrakh Le Noir - Looked to have the race at his mercy when falling at the last in a point at Ffos Las in November and things haven't really gone his way since. He was stuffed by Viroflay in March and then last time he looked the winner until getting caught very late on. Solid enough horse, but this is a hot race. Paloma Blue - A more than useful horse under rules when trained by Henry De Bromhead and he was 4th in the 2018 Supreme and 6th in the following year's Arkle. He wasn't a prolific winner though and only won a couple of times over fences. It has been a different story since joining new connections though and he has won 4 of his 7 starts. He clearly still retains a fair level of ability, but I am not sure he has beaten a great deal and there are some good horses in this. Arguably his best run was when he was 2nd to Macklin a horse who has done well this season. I wouldn't want to say he can't win, but I am preferring the proven hunter chase form. St Barts - Been well beaten in points this season and looks one of the evening's social runners. What A Moment - Only managed to beat 3 horses home in points this season and this 13yo has no chance. Verdict - I think the winner will come from Fix It All, Not That Fuisse, Solomon Grey and Magic Saint and the two I will be backing are Fix It All and Solomon Grey. This is a different test from Ludlow for Fix It All, but it is no surprise it has been a target for him and whatever has clicked for him has seen a huge amount of improvement. The way he has finished off his races as well suggest that the hill will suit. I've a slight worry that Solomon Grey might need a little bit longer, but he won this race in great style last year and he will show the benefit of the Ludlow run where he blew up late on behind a good horse. If one of the other two win then clearly it will be no surprise. Paloma Blue is very short in the betting for me. He has the back class, but his pointing form doesn't really excite me and we have 4 horses who have strong hunter chase form so he will have to be running to a good level to win this.
  8. No idea on that one to be honest. Could be something to ask Betfair as to why that is the case.
  9. Day 1 was good and Day 2 was even better with both Tolemac and Saunter Boy winning and Under The Bridge even finished 2nd to his stablemate. Onto the final day of the Carnival and after the very wet and windy weather on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning we are looking at very testing conditions and the 5500m of the Grand Annual is really going to take some getting. The other jumps race on the card is the Champion Novice which gets the meeting underway. Race 1 Not surprisingly Nelson heads the betting for the Champion Novice having won both hurdles starts to date. Nelson was trained by Aidan O'Brien and was last seen for him in the 2018 Arc when finishing 8th behind Enable. He was then missing for a year and then ran 8th in a G3 at Caulfield. He then changed yards and didn't run until February 2021 when he finished 5th and 6th in a couple of Listed Races. Since then he has had another change of yards and another massive spell. He had a jump out and two hurdle trials before running in the Stony Creek Cup where he was 6th. I thought he had trialled well over hurdles going into his debut at Warrnambool and he jumped well on the whole that day when making the running and whilst looking in a little bit of danger entering the straight, he kicked clear to win nicely in the end. He then went to Pakenham last month and I tried to take him on because I was slightly worried about him on a Heavy 10, but he went through the ground absolutely fine and was a pretty impressive winner. Port Guillaume is an Ex French horse and until he won over hurdles at Ballarat last August his previous win was in a G2 at Deauville in August 2020 and that came on the back of him finishing 5th in the French Derby. It hasn't quite gone his way on the level in Oz, but he did it well at Ballarat and had Furioso in behind in 3rd. I thought his form on heavy ground might give him the advantage at Pakenham over Nelson, but he was only fair in being beaten 7L into 3rd. He didn't exactly look like he would be reversing the form anytime soon although you would imagine he will strip fitter again. Sky Hero is in single figures and won over course and distance in a Heavy 10 last June and got his 2nd win in April at Hamilton. As much as he's a solid enough horse he doesn't look to have the quality of Nelson. Cotton Eye Joe was also a winner at Hamilton of a maiden, but that form doesn't look as strong as Nelson's for me. Pure Deal (now a non runner) has to be mentioned as he landed the first race on day 1 and whilst I thought Pateman rode King's Charisma too confidently and that he might well have won if he hadn't, you can't knock the performance of Pure Deal and he built on his 3rd at Pakenham. This will be a tough test just 2 days later though with the ground much worse. What I don't understand is why the horse who beat him at Pakenham, Circle The Sun, is so much bigger in the betting. Teofilo Star bolted up in the 2nd division of the maiden to add to Pure Deal's win so the form of the Pakenham race looks rock solid. I do think he was racing on the better ground which helped, but clearly he looks overs here. I do think Nelson is going to be hard to beat and he is the main bet, but I can't help but have a small e/w play on Circle The Sun because I would have him shorter in the betting than he is. Nelson 2pts @ 11/10 with William Hill Circle The Sun 0.5pts e/w @ 10/1 with William Hill Race 7 The big race of the week is the Grand Annual and it sees the most impressive horse I have seen since focusing on Aussie jumps racing Stern Idol bid to win his first big one. He came over from France and looked some horse in winning his first two hurdles in Oz by 27L and 15L. He then went to Ballarat and was actually beaten by Bell Ex One who had finished 3rd at last year's Cheltenham Festival. Sadly Bell Ex One hasn't run at Warrnambool as I can't wait to see him back over hurdles, but Stern Idol has since gone over fences. He looked some jumper of a fence in his trials and he backed that up at Pakenham last month when beating a few of today's rivals with ease. The only question you can have over him is the trip as we just don't know if he will see out the 5500m distance. He didn't seem quite as keen as was last season at Pakenham which will help him, but if he stays he will win. Vanguard ran was the winner of the Brierly last year when just getting the better of this year's winner and his stablemate Britannicus. That looked a great prep run for this race, but he was very unfortunate to slip up less than half way during the race. He was injured in the fall as well so wasn't seen again until this year where he had some trials and a flat run leading into finishing 4th at Pakenham. He has been trained with this race in mind though and he won a trial a few days later. His trainer skipped the Brierly with him this year to focus on this race and it would not surprise me to see him run much better than he did at Pakenham. Crosshill was trained by Jessica Harrington in Ireland and was a winner at the Punchestown Festival a year ago when winning over hurdles over 2m4f. He beat Grand National 2nd Vanillier on his hurdles debut back in 2020 and ended up running the Grade 1 Novice over 3m at the Punchestown Festival that season and whilst he finished last behind Galopin Des Champs he was badly struck into that. He also ran behind the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner at Leopardstown in Christmas 2021 and he finished lame that day so again we can ignore the fact he was beaten 81L. Current connections paid £85k to take him to Australia and it was this race they had in mind. He had 3 runs on the flat and has run well to get his fitness up and there was plenty to like in his trail win over fences at Warrnambool where he beat Britannicus prior to finishing 3rd at Pakenham behind Stern Idol. I thought he was given a very quiet ride that day and he was never going to give a horse like Stern Idol that much ground and beat him. He should be spot on for today and whilst the trip in the ground is an unknown he has plenty of class. Police Camp deserves a mention as he ran so well to finish 2nd in this last year. He ran pretty well in the Brierly and whilst he might not be good enough to win if he did hit the frame it wouldn't be a surprise. Some might well remember the name Rockstar Ronnie who was trained by Dan Skelton over here until being sold to go to Australia after winning a Warwick handicap just under a year ago off 129. He's got a decent level of form over fences in this country over mainly 2m2f to think he could do very well in Australia. I was massively worried about the testing ground for him when making his Aussie jumps debut at Pakenham last month because he had been a non runner when the ground had turned soft over here and connections had been keen to keep him to good ground. I thought he came up a bit short in the ground at Pakenham when 3rd to Hurry Cane and with it likely to be even more testing here that has to be a big concern. Speaking of Hurry Cane he is the last one worth a mention. This ex New Zealand runner has been aimed at this race and I wasn't surprised he came on plenty for his hurdle run at Hamilton when beating Epizeel and Rockstar Ronnie at Pakenham. He looks like he will stay and a heavy track isn't an issue at all. He looks a player in this. Stern Idol could win this and prove himself to be the best chaser in the country, but whilst we have an unknown about the trip I don't see any value in backing him at very short odds. Therefore I will back a couple e/w to try and hit the places at least. Vanguard shouldn't be double figures for me because he looks all about stamina and the fact he won the Brierly last year proves he loves this track. Clearly very unlucky in this race 2 days later I think he can is going to come forward for the Pakenham run as this has been his target race. Crosshill is also double figures and I can't let him go unbacked either. His Irish form is good enough to make him a leading player in Oz and his run last time looked to be all about giving him a nice prep for this. Maybe it is futile trying to get Stern Idol beat and if he does win then I will certainly be saluting a champion. Crosshill 1pt e/w @ 20/1 with William Hill Vanguard 1pt e/w @ 11/1 with William Hill and Bet365
  10. A cracking 1st day with 3 of the 4 winners and I felt that if the horse in the 1st had been given a better ride he would have won as well. Day 2 sees a very competitive BM120 Chase and the feature hurdle of the week the Galleywood. Race 4 I don't think I have seen a BM120 have a maximum field since I started betting on Aussie jumps racing so this feels a bit unusual for me. Tolemac has been very well backed in the early markets as he makes his chasing debut. He was fairly consistent over hurdles last season just winning the once at Hamilton on a Heavy 10 track so we know he will handle the ground. He's had a couple of solid runs on the flat for fitness and he jumped like a pro in his trial here a few days ago. I suspect he has been lined up for this given connections. His train has a strong hand though and Count Zero is next in the betting. He took the opening chase of the season at Terang when I took him on because I didn't like how he jumped in his trials, but he still just about managed to beat So Belafonte. He jumped terribly again to start with in the trial here last month behind Roland Garros, but he did improve as the trial went on. I suspect he will need to improve on that to take this especially off top weight. Speaking of Roland Garros he is also near the head of the market. He won on his chasing debut at Coleraine last August when going well clear and just holding on. It will be interesting to see if similar tactics are used here as I just wonder if he will see the trip out in this ground if he does. He disappointed a couple of weeks after that win when pulling up at Ballarat. Under The Bridge is the 3rd Wilde runner and I fancied him to win at Hamilton on his chasing return, but in the end he failed to see the race out well enough have travelled nicely into contention having been held up out the back. He should come on for that and he has won here on a Heavy 10 surface as well. I think he has the form to go well in this as well. Lord Pierro looks the other one to consider and he was even more impressive at his fences than Tolemac in the same trial here a couple of weeks ago. The problem is Tolmac did have more speed for him on the flat and I do wonder if he is going to have the ability at this stage to win a race like this. He's only 5 and only had 10 races and the testing ground is an unknown as well, but his jumping will likely take him a long way. I'd be a bit surprised if anything else was able to win. The money for Tolemac is really interesting and I loved the way he trialed so I will have him as the main bet. I will also cover his stablemate Under The Bridge who should come on for the 2nd at Hamilton and at least we know conditions and track will hold no fear for him. Tolemac 1pt @ 3/1 with Bet365 Under The Bridge 0.5pts @ 6/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair Race 6 Saunter Boy won all 5 hurdle races he ran in last season including just getting up to win this contest. I thought he would cope with giving a huge amount of weight away to his rivals at Pakenham last month, but he couldn't quite see off Blandford Lad on the run to the line. Given this isn't a handicap he doesn't have to give anywhere near as much weight away to the 6 of the horses who ran that day and are also running in this. Based on that he really ought to have the beating of them. He is odds on, but he deserves to be odds on and I think he is still value at the current odds. Saunter Boy 3pts @ 17/20 with Bet365
  11. Really looking forward to the next 3 days of action at Warrnambool and the jumping action looks full of quality which is great to see. Tomorrow sees 3 divisions of the maiden hurdle and the feature is the Brierly which looks a high class and open renewal. Race 1 King's Charisma was trained by David O'Meara in this country and was a useful handicapper as well. Current connections paid £170k for him and whilst he's been running OK they would probably be a little disappointed that all he's done is win a Horsham Cup whilst in Oz. He's had 3 hurdle trials which have been fairly quiet, but he jumps well enough and flat wise he is the best of these. Vividredsky was 2nd in a BM70 at Moonee Valley in February so also has a fair level of ability, but he hasn't won for over 800 days. He didn't run very well on the flat last time, but did win a hurdles trial prior to that. His jumping wasn't great to start with, but he did warm to the task. Pure Deal was 3rd on hurdles debut last time at Pakenham and it was a solid enough run, but I do sense that King's Charisma would have been good enough to win that maiden. Summerhill looks a big price as he was better at Pakenham on his 2nd hurdles start when 3rd in the other maiden. King's Charisma's connections will be hoping for a strong carnival and I think he can get them off to a get start given his flat class and I saw enough in his trials to think he is good enough to win this. King's Charisma 1pt @ 5/2 with Paddy Power and Betfred Race 2 Teofilo Star is the favourite here on the back of a very good hurdles debut at Pakenham. Not sure this race is any stronger than that and with him racing in the worst part of the track down the home straight he was probably a bit unlucky not to have won. Maher & Eustace have a couple in this and Reserve Street is the more fancied one in the market. He's solid enough on the flat and runs in a lot of the Cups at the Country tracks. I wasn't a fan of his jumping though in his last trial recently and that puts me off here. Aquileon is the other one from the stable and he had 4 starts for Roger Varian in 2020 without success. He's won 3 races in Oz and I did prefer his trial to his stablemates. Half Mast is interesting as he is a rare horse who has never run in a race before going jumping. His trial wasn't bad last time so he might be OK. Killourney managed a couple of placings in maiden hurdles last year and might be capable of better this time around. He is quite short, but Teofilo Star does look the most likely winner for me with him being a bit unfortunate not to win at Pakenham. I don't think this race is any stronger so will take him to go one better. Teofilo Star 2pts @ 5/4 with William Hill and Coral Race 3 Impulsar has been the big talking horse ahead of this as Eustace put it up as a horse to follow on Saturday. There was plenty to like in his hurdles trial at Terang as he jumped well on the whole and wasn't extended at all as he allowed the winner to go past him. He did start life in Ireland with Joseph O'Brian and won on his 2nd start just 12 days after making his debut in October 2021. He went to Australia after that and has done well winning another 3 races in just 6 starts. He's by Frankel and he could turn into a top jumper. His stablemate Carisbrook might be the main danger as he has looked good in his trials, but clearly connections think Impulsar is the one to be with and I think he is going to be hard to beat. Impulsar 2pts @ Evs with Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill and Coral Race 6 The feature race on day 1 is the Brierly and it is a cracking line up. Flying Agent has a cracking record over course and distance as he is 3/4 and he has a great record on a heavy track should they get lots of rain. He landed the Thackeray Chase here last July in really good style. He went on to win the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown the following month and had Valac back in 3rd. After that he was beaten just 0.85L into 3rd in the Grand National Chase at Ballarat. He has had a great prep run on the flat at Bendigo early this month and he then put in a very impressive trial here on April 21st. He has a big chance. Inayforhay has only had one start over fences, but that was a win in the 2021 Grand National Chase so it was an impressive one. He then missed the whole of 2022 jumps wise and didn't return until November. He won at Bendigo in December and then he had another spell for 14 weeks. His flat run last month at Stawell looked a perfect prep for going back over fences, but I do wonder if he will need further. Even so he is still a possible winner here. Like Inayforhay, St Arnicca took last season's Grand National Chase on his chasing debut. He had shown good hurdling form prior to that having finished 2nd in the Grand National Hurdle. He's not shown a great deal so far on the flat this prep and was just fair in a trial on April 21st. Again, another with a chance, but he might need further. Riding High has a very good jumps record winning 5 times for 11 starts and won on his last start over fences which came at Pakenham last April. Obviously injured after that and has had 4 flat starts plus a couple of trials this year to prepare for this. Another one with a chance, but I just wonder if he will be quite good enough. Bee Tee Junior is a gallant old timer who ran well behind Stern Idol at Pakenham last time. I can see him running well, but I would be a little surprised if he was quite good enough. Britannicus ran a huge race in this last year and it was a great battle between him and Vanguard who just got up in the final few yards to beat his stablemate. He build up a big lead and he didn't handle the bend well after the Tozer Road crossing which probably cost him. He won the Australian Chase after that, but then finished lame after the Thackeray so was spelled. He has had a couple of flat runs and a few trials as a prep for this and his last trial here was very good last the other day. I don't think he wants it very wet, but otherwise he has a good chance. Valac is favourite at the time of writing and he was bang in contention in this race last year when falling at out. He then fell again at Sale, but finally won again at Pakenham in testing ground. He was 3rd behind Flying Agent in the Crisp and then 4th in the Grand National Steeplechase. I suspect he didn't quite stay in those two races and this trip is much more suitable. Sure to go close again if his jumping holds up, but I'm not sure I would have him as favourite. We saw a fantastic race last year and this looks a wide open and classy affair. I am going to go with Flying Agent to win as he has a great record here and looks to have returned in great form based on his flat run and his trial. I would make him favourite myself. All the horses I have named above have some sort of chance, but I will cover Britannicus as well. It was a huge run in this last year and as long as the going doesn't get too testing I think he will be primed to run a big race. Flying Agent 1pt @ 11/4 with William Hill Britannicus 0.5pts @ 6/1 with most bookies
  12. A very dramatic afternoon. Given we should have been in them with ease to then do it in the way we did was just incredible. As for Kiddie it is amazing as well given how poor you have been for most of the season. It sums the league up though because so many of the sides that were in play-off contention today have been pretty bad for a lengthy spell at one time or another. Whatever happens though I am just delighted we are in them.
  13. 14 more points to add to the total after Fylde do the business (to win me a lot of money if you were following on Twitter!) and Kings Lynn finish 2nd which makes it a return of 85.25 to give a profit of 55 points. Quite a staggering return in what has been a rollercoaster few weeks where Tamworth especially looked like they had blown it.
  14. Yes I remember 5 years ago as well sorry didn't get chance to post as was so focused on Fylde winning the league to top 5 years ago and my own side Gloucester making the play-offs
  15. I rarely tip in Irish hunter chases, but we have the big one at Punchestown this evening and after the shambles of Premier Magic and Shantou Flyer not being allowed to run, we have an all-Irish affair. We have 4 runners from Cheltenham with the 2nd Its On The Line, 5th Chris's Dream, 7th Vaucelet and Billaway who fell. The last two finished 2nd and 1st in this last year and whilst a mistake at the last didn't help Vaucelet, I still think Billaway would have won. I think Vaucelet can get his revenge here though and looks the most likely winner to me. Going into Cheltenham I was concerned with the fact he hadn't run since Boxing Day and I think that told late on. Also, as we have seen the trainer's horses haven't really been seeing their races off and it is interesting to see the trainer say he came back from Cheltenham a bit sick. Given that was the case and he was only beaten 10L it was a huge run really. Billaway finally hit the deck at Cheltenham after so many runs of making mistakes and not falling. He then went to Fairyhouse and was 2nd to Annamix who caused a huge upset. I'm still not sure it was the pace that Ferns Lock and Billaway went that led to that result because Ferns Lock to me seemed to be doing what he had been doing the rest of the season. I suspect that he probably wasn't 100% and as I say the trainer's horses weren't finishing their races off. Granted Billaway might have paid for chasing him, but you just get the feeling he isn't quite as good as he was and I'd be a little surprised if Vaucelet wasn't able to finish in front of him. Its On The Line flew home to finish 2nd at Cheltenham, but this won't be as strong a test of stamina and he has been to Aintree as well where he fell at Becher's after being well back in the field. I think Vaucelet can reverse the form. I also think Chris's Dream can reverse the form and he might just end up being the biggest danger to the favourite. I thought he ran a cracking race at Cheltenham to finish 5th. That was only his 3rd run since January 22 so he may come on for it again as well. His young jockey is yet to have a ride over fences under rules, but he has ridden A Dream To Share very well to win here and at Cheltenham. Willie Mullins was shocked that Annamix beat Billaway and I'm not sure he will do the same here although it would be folly to totally rule him out. Lough Derg Spirit ran a cracker at Aintree when 3rd to Famous Clermont. I'm not sure he can win this, but it wouldn't surprise me if he ran on into a place. I'm going with Vaucelet to go one better than last year and finally give his trainer one of the big 3 hunter chases. I will also be having a small saver on Chris's Dream as there was plenty to like about the Cheltenham run and he could improve for it. Vaucelet 1pt @ 15/8 with Bet365 and William Hill (take up to 6/4) Chris's Dream 0.5pts @ 5/1 with William Hill and BetVictor who are 11/2 (take up to 4/1)
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