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Everything posted by Darran

  1. Halifax v Barnet Oldham really didn't make it very hard for Halifax to win on Saturday as they managed just one shot in the entire game. Halifax still had to rely on a rebound from a penalty for the winning goal though and I still wouldn't have them as turning the corner. Barnet continued their impressive run of form by winning 3-1 at Scunthorpe on Friday night. That is a decent effort given the new owner and new manger will have really got the crowd going. I just don't understand how Barnet aren't clear favourites for this as they are certainly the better side and they are unbeaten in 10 league games. Indeed in their last 10 games they have recorded 26 points which is the same as Wrexham and Notts County. They have also sneaked into contention for 3rd place. Their average xG for the season is just 1.25 yet their average goals per games is 1.93. That ought to be unsustainable, but they have just been so clinical all season and crucially at the moment they aren't conceding goals either with just 4 scored against them in that run of 10 games. Maidenhead v Southend Fair play to the Southend players to still be getting as many points as they are given all the off the field issues and it seems like they haven't been paid for January yet. There is a real risk they could be forced out of business at the start of March as well. They won on Saturday, but they were playing a York side who also have issues of their own at the moment. Maidenhead look to be coming out of the other side of a bad run of form although they haven't always been playing that badly and at home they continue to be strong including giving Notts County a big scare. This is just the type of game that Maidenhead thrive in and whilst Southend should be favs I think there is value in the price about a home win. Oldham v Dagenham & Redbridge Dagenham weren't ones to trust away from home earlier in the season, but that has picked up since they beat Chesterfield away and actually at the moment you would have to say they have been better away than at home. They lost on Saturday 1-0 at Wealdstone, but they had so many chances that they really ought to have got at least a point. As I have mentioned above Oldham stunk the place out on Saturday and if they play like that again there is only going to be one winner. Dagenham are too big a price not to back here. Taunton v Dulwich One bet at Step 2 tonight comes in this game. Dulwich can't stop leaking goals and have conceded 18 in their last 6 and have lost five of those. Even in the game they won they conceded twice. Whenever I write about Dulwich I always mention the strange choice of manager and it really does seem his inexperience is showing at the moment. Taunton have only lost once at home all season and even managed to beat Havant last week in their first loss on their travels all season. Taunton surprisingly beat Eastbourne 3-0 on Saturday and if they continue in that form then they should be picking up another 3 points here. Barnet 2pts @ 7/4 with William Hill and Betfred (take up to 5/4) Maidenhead 1pt @ 14/5 with Bet365, Coral, Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 9/4) Dagenham & Redbridge 2pts @ 11/5 with Paddy Power, Betfair and Ladbrokes (you can get bigger on Betfair exchange and with Coral take up to 7/4) Taunton 2pts @ 13/10 with Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill and Ladbrokes (take up to Evs)
  2. The wet track did for both my selections sadly. Jockey has got off Beneficio and said she lost confidence in her footing and her wheels were spinning so she has done well to finish 4th. Songaa clearly didn't handle it at all and the winner had proven wet track form.
  3. Brian Power is certainly being considered for Cheltenham after his win on Saturday. The winning time wasn't that special, but he did it easy enough. The main reason for the quick update though is that Winged Leader made his seasonal return at Cragmore on Sunday. He made a mistake at 3 out and at the last, but kept on best of all on the flat to beat Le Malin by 1.5L. That horse was a 1L 3rd to Vaucelet earlier in the season, but what is probably more interesting is the 3rd who was Er Dancer. He was only a head further back, but he has been beaten 16L twice by Brian Power this season and basically the same behind Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse. The winning also wasn't anything special. After the race his trainer said it took a while to get him back after his 2nd at Cheltenham. He got a knock and and 2 months ago it looked like he might not make it out at all. He will improve form that and the Naas hunter chase will be considered before they consider options for the spring. One thing I always say when people ask me about horses for this race is to not back them until we see entries or see them on track. Unless the horse is in a big yard we rarely get to hear/read anything about them and Winged Leader is proof of that as that is the first I had seen of him being injured. It will be interesting if Christie decides to run both or just send one of them to Cheltenham. Also if Winged Leader goes to Naas then we might not see Vaucelet before Cheltenham because I can't believe they will both run there. Adding to this post as I have seen some info about Ferns Lock. Apparently someone has put in a hefty bid for him, but the only is rich and doesn't need to sell him so isn't going to. Also to add into the mix is that his best friends own Winged Leader and he is mates with the owners of Vaucelet and thus he thinks it is right that he lets those two head to Cheltenham this season so and keep Ferns Lock for next seasons race. Also Famous Clermont won the hunter chase at Wincanton this afternoon and he has been put into the betting for this by some bookmakers. He clearly has the engine for the race as he was really impressive on that front, but his jumping was shocking. He never looked like falling and did actually put in a couple of very impressive jumps, but it is clear that at this stage he still has a lot of learning to do on that front. Will Biddick said after the race that he is one of the best pointers he has ridden but that he needs to improve his jumping before going for a championship race. Therefore I would be amazed if he went for Cheltenham this season but he is a best of 16/1 with William Hill for the race. I do think he has the engine to go pretty close if they can sort his jumping out.
  4. After Cranbourne was called off last Friday Beneficio now runs in R4 at Pakenham tomorrow morning which is due off at 8.15am. She's not the only one from that race to run here. Here are my thoughts on the 10 runners. Grinzinger Prince - Is in drawn in 1, but that isn't ideal for him as he likes to be held up and come with a late run. Was 3 places in front of Beneficio at Geelong back in October, but his jockey said after the race that he would benefit going over a distance further than 1100m which has been backed up by his 3 runs since then. He got no luck when 7th at Moonee Valley over 1200m and was then 6th at Geelong over 1100m before finishing 3rd over 1200m here 2 weeks ago. It seems odd why they have dropped him to 1000m here as I just think he will get going way too late to win and it might even stop him from hitting the frame. Avid General - An in form 7yo who has won both starts this year which continued the good form he was in during December. The wins came at Hanging Rock and Moe and this would be a stronger race than those, but the fact he's running well could see him hit the frame. Prince Of Mercia - Has been off for 20 weeks and hasn't had a trial or a jumpout which is unusual in Australia. He has won twice 1st up, but both came on the back of a trial or a jumpout so my suspicion is he will strip fitter for the run. Often shows early speed and is drawn in 2 so could be a rival to Beneficio in making the running. La Zucca - Is another who is coming here on the back of no trial or jumpout having been off since November when she was 3rd at Sandown over 1300m. She has yet to run over this short a trip and given she has won in heavy over 1200m I get the feeling she won't be seen to her best over it. High Risk - She did well to win a BM64 over 1100m at Traralgon in November and has done well enough since with 2 3rds at Cranbourne in December and Moe a couple of weeks ago both over 1000m. She can be slow away as she was at Moe and that didn't help her cause at all. She's drawn in 10 here so I expect she will end up near the back again and it will be a case if she is able to get a run whilst not getting too far back. Place claims for me. Songaa - Hadn't shown a great deal until winning a maiden at Stoney Creek over 1000m over Christmas. Not surprisingly he was a big price as he went to Flemington on his next start in a Class 1, but he put in a really good performance to finish 2nd especially as he was held up for a run for a bit. I doubt it was the strongest race every run at Flemington as there were some big gaps for a 1000m race, but clearly comes here with a leading chance if repeating that effort. Beneficio - I was a little disappointed with her run at Benalla last time, but looking back she had to work hard to get across from her outside draw and she wasn't able to burn the candle at both ends as the jockey said afterwards. Also for some reason the jockey decided to race wide rather than on the rail which didn't help. She was blowing hard after the race as well so although she has a good 1st up record, I actually think she will come on for the run. Unlike Cranbourne last week when she had a good draw she has a poor one here in 9. Having said that there doesn't appear too much speed in this race so if she is fast away I think she can lead them. Also Pakenham's 1000m start is in a chute and they only have to take in about half of the final bend so being wide isn't as bad as it could be at some tracks. She has yet to run well over 1000m, but in theory it should suit her well. If she is at her best she should go close. Interestingly she was backed quite heavily in the market when betting first went up. Invincibilus - Won a couple over 1000m last April, but has tended to struggle since then. The fact that her regular jockey has chosen Beneficio also suggests he thinks she has a better chance than this mare. Wango Award - Wasn't a strong race that she won at Yarra Valley although the 2nd has won since. I'd be a little surprised if she was good enough to win at this level on her first start in a handicap More To See - Looks a total no hoper here. Verdict - Avid General and High Risk both have place claims, but for me the winner will be either Songaa or Beneficio. I'm hopeful my mare can hold them all off, but I do get the feeling that if Songaa can repeat his run at Flemington then he might be the one to beat. I will be spitting my stakes on both. There has been money for the favourite Grinzinger Prince on the morning of the race in Australia, but the trip is a big concern for me. Beneficio @ 7/2 with everyone Songaa @ 5/1 with everyone
  5. The obvious place to start is the hunter chase at Thurles last Sunday as we saw a hugely impressive winner in Ferns Lock. In the very first post in this seasons blog I mentioned that he was highly unlikely to go to Cheltenham this season and despite the fact he would have a leading chance, his trainer has said he will not be going to The Festival this year. He was given a Racing Post Rating of 155 for the win and the only sort of rating that high that I can think of in this sphere in recent years would be Mossey Joe's when he bolted up in the Stratford Champion Foxhunter a few years ago. I think his trainer thinks he is better than Winged Leader and Vaucelet and I agree with him. I also think he is doing the right thing in not going to Cheltenham this year. It can be a tough race and Ferns Lock has never experienced anything like it so far. David Christie certainly seems to be of the Willie Mullins school of thinking in letting novices be novices. He is set to go to Gowran on the Saturday before Cheltenham next and I was thinking the John Corbet Cup would have been a good target for him at Stratford, but my reading of the conditions for the race is that he wouldn't actually be able to run in it because of his Fairyhouse win in November. I therefore wonder if he might use Stratford as a tester for Cheltenham and put in the big race. Some bookies did take him out of the market for this on Monday, but I guess he should be kept in as there is a month until entries close and people do change their minds. Clearly though you wouldn't want to be backing him at the moment. If he did go he would be favourite in my opinion. Two other things to note. First of all Ruby Walsh said on RacingTV that he looked like he would come on for the run (which is scary if he can put in a performance like that not fully fit) and 2nd his trainer said he would likely enter Ultimate Optimist as well as the other two at Cheltenham. I'm surprised Billaway drifted out after his run because he basically put in the same sort of run he put in last season in this race when he was 2nd to Winged Leader. He has never won first time out and obviously he reversed the form come Cheltenham. He was slow at some fences and hit a flat spot, but Patrick wasn't over hard on him once he knew he couldn't win and I would be amazed if we didn't see a big improvement next time. Whilst I'm not biting myself I can see why 9/1 with Bet365 would appeal from an e/w perspective. On Sunday 15th Chris's Dream qualified for Cheltenham with a comfortable victory at Carrigarostig. Of the ex Rules horses we have seen so far he would be the one that would interest me the most at the moment and he is now 9/1 with Bet365. As I always say though horses with his profile don't tend to do that well in this race anymore. The horse who finished behind Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse was Its On The Line. He came over to Stratford for the John Corbet Cup last year and was fairly weak in the market and ran accordingly pulling up. This season as well as being behind Ferns Lock he was 2nd and 3rd in points behind The Storyteller. He appeared to take a massive step-up in performance though on the 15th when beating Lord Schnitzel by 7L at Turtulla. Derek O'Connor rode him that day and I would imagine it would be his ride at Cheltenham as well. He's an interesting one because until that win I wouldn't have given him a hope, but given his trainer I just wonder if he is bringing him to the boil nicely. Only 3 bookies have him in the betting and he is 16/1 with Unibet, but bookies should price him up as he is an intended runner at this stage. I'm also going to add he actually went off favourite against Ferns Lock at Fairyhouse. Brain Power won again on Saturday afternoon and I will add more when I see some quotes. In the UK the weather has got in the way of pointing and hunter chases, but Sheriff Hutton on January 15th took place and saw 2 Cheltenham contenders. Dubai Quest was 4th in the race last year and returned to land the Ladies Open in very comfortable fashion. I would imagine he will have another run before Cheltenham and whilst he does have a bit to find on the front 2 from last year he ought to still have improvement in him and the 33/1 price that he currently is seems a bit insulting given some of the horses in front of him in the betting. In the Mens Open on the card former Tom George inmate Black Op made it 3/3 since going pointing. He had already qualified for Cheltenham after winning two opens last year in easy fashion and he clocked a faster time than Dubai Quest despite the fact he was carrying a stone more. He was a Grade 1 winning hurdler and was 2nd to Samcro in the Ballymore in 2018. He had lost his way under Rules, but the change of yard and going pointing has clearly worked with him as he still has plenty of ability. Only BetVictor and William Hill have him priced up and they both go 25/1 but if he was able to run to his pointing form at Cheltenham then he would have place claims.
  6. Sorry wasn't around today to see this. I know this is after timing but that Chesterfield bet was a shocker. I was close to backing Barnet although didn't in the end, but Chesterfield were an awful price given how long Barnet's unbeaten record has been now. Amazed anyone thought they were good things.
  7. Yeah I think that is exactly right and to be fair so did I. Very rare that a horse done at that level is going to find a turn of pace like that. Apparently the winner has done that once before so he has it in him, just not very often. Everything else about the race went to plan though and he will carry on improving with racing. He only cost $6000 so it is looking like a superb buy.
  8. Cable Dancer getting chinned and then Cranbourne getting called off were both pretty painful.
  9. Here is the preview for Beneficio's race which is due off at 10.45am and is a 0-64. The difference between that and a BM64 is that no horse above 64 can run in it whereas in a BM64 they could. Avid General - An in form 7yo who has won both starts this year which continued the good form he was in during December. The wins came at Hanging Rock and Moe and this would be a stronger race than those, but the fact he's running well could see him hit the frame. Prince Of Mercia - Has been off for 20 weeks and hasn't had a trial or a jumpout which is unusual in Australia. He has won twice 1st up, but both came on the back of a trial or a jumpout so my suspicion is he will strip fitter for the run. Reward With Return - Won a BM58 at Benalla last month, but struggled at this level last time and would be a surprise winner. Beneficio - I was a little disappointed with her run at Benalla last time, but looking back she had to work hard to get across from her outside draw and she wasn't able to burn the candle at both ends as the jockey said afterwards. Also for some reason the jockey decided to race wide rather than on the rail which didn't help. She was blowing hard after the race as well so although she has a good 1st up record, I actually think she will come on for the run. She has got a cracking draw in 4 although Prince Of Mercia can also go forward and that one is drawn in 3. Hopefully she can get in front of her and get the lead and if she does she should go close. Invincibilus - Is usually slow away which doesn't help her although is a dual course and distance winner. Chances are there is going to be a lot of pace on and you just have to wonder if that will mean she gets too far back if she misses the kick. The Swooper - Has only had one start and that was Boxing Day 2021 when 4th at Caulfield. He is favourite for this on the back of that, but for me that is because the winner is a horse called Jacquinot who has gone on to win at Group 1 level and ran in The Everest last year. The 2nd and especially the 3rd haven't done too much for the form though and the 3rd is still a maiden. He's been gelded and has had 2 jumpouts this month and he might be good enough, but there is no way I can back him at the current odds as I think he's only that price because of what the winner has done since. Over Boost - Not been racing all that well and barrier 12 is going to be of no help at all. Wango Award - Wasn't a strong race that she won at Yarra Valley although the 2nd has won since. I'd be a little surprised if she was good enough to win at this level on her first start in a handicap. Ling Ling - Has struggled on the whole outside of BM58 company and is going to find it tricky to get near the pace from the outside draw. Verdict - Happy to oppose the favourite and I will be disappointed if Beneficio doesn't finish in the 1st 3 here. Everything looks set fair for her to run a big race and at 9/2 I am happy to have a decent bet on here e/w. I think the main danger will be Avid General who comes into this in good form and is very consistent. Beneficio e/w @ 9/2 with everyone
  10. Both the horses I have shares in Down Under are running on Friday morning. I have written plenty about Beneficio on here in the past, but I haven't mentioned Cable Dancer before. If you follow me on Twitter then you will have seen me talk about him, but I wasn't sure how good he was going to be so haven't written a preview on here before now. He did actually take us all by surprise when winning on debut although I only had a very small bet on him as I didn't think he would win. Anyway I will look at both horses races tomorrow starting with Cable Dancer who goes in Race 6 at Kilmore which is off at 5am UK time. Irving Again - Finally broke the maiden tag last time over course and distance in very easy fashion. Interesting to see how he gets on first time in a handicap. Mocca Diamond - Both wins have come over 1400m, but he looks like this trip is what he needs and was 2nd at BM64 level over 2100 at Ballarat in July. This prep hasn't on paper looked overly promising, but 1st up was a good effort as he was too far back over 1400m and stayed on really well to get 4th. Next up he finished last and was then 7th last time, but he was racing on the worst part of the track and against the patterns as both days you needed to be on speed. If there is no bias here then it would be no surprise if he was able to fly home late as he has shown he has the ability to do so in the past. Aragon - Well beaten 1st up and needs to find plenty on that to win this. Romania - Won in this grade (BM58) at Moe over 2088m in September when making all and will no doubt be looking to do the same here. Wasn't so good on his next 3 starts although was either outclassed or over the wrong trip. If fit 1st up then this is his grade and trip so a bold showing wouldn't surprise. Abrupt - Another last time out maiden winner when winning over 1700m at Stoney Creek. Enjoyed the step-up in trip that day so going up to 2000m is likely to suit as well. Cable Dancer - Surprised us all when winning on debut at huge odds. Think it has just taken a while for him to come to hand as it too until his last trial going into that race to actually show he had some ability. That wasn't a strong race, but he won well. Next up he was a bit disappointing, but as soon as others came past him he looked a bit clueless and didn't really know what to do which when you are forced into a handicap on your 2nd start against more experienced horses is always likely to happen. Was much better last time over 1500m at Mornington when finishing 3rd. He came off the bridle early enough, but unlike on his previous start he carried on finding to not be beaten far. Was only beaten a length and the winner ran 2nd in the Hanging Rock Cup on Thursday to help frank the form. That was a 0-64 so drops back to BM58 grade here and the trainer thinks he will be better the further he goes so stepping up to 2000m ought to suit. He has gone forward so far, but with a better draw today the plan might be to get him a bit of cover. I think he will continue to improve with racing and if he runs as well as last time should be involved in the finish. State Squad - Hasn't run in this grade before and has run well at BM64 so has to have a chance here. The concern is over this trip at Mornington he looked in need of further as he got himself outpaced. He might get away with it though down in grade and he does look a possible winner of this. Turfie - Maiden win came over this trip although not shown too much since then although his next start did come at Flemington. Ran below par last time and has been given a month off since. Suspect he's capable of better, but hard to back on the back of what he has done so far. Prefer Us - Her two wins so far have come over 1900m and 2100m so both starts so far this prep have come over too short. Was last at Warrnambool and only had 2 behind passing the 400m marker. Stayed on well enough to get into 8th. Will improve for the step up in trip and the extra fitness. Indian Doll - Shown little in 2 starts this prep. Johnny Buccaneer - Ran OK at Moe last time and will do better over this further trip, but this isn't a bad race for the grade and his more exposed than his rivals. Fields Of Grace - Maiden win was over this trip and 3 handicap starts have all come in BM64 grade. Was 2nd over 1500m at Mornington 1st up although only 5 runners and was then a bit disappointing at Cranbourne last time even though she was tightened up for room about 300m out. Rider suggested she needed more give and that was a Good 3 track plus the maiden win was on a Soft 7. Verdict - Must admit I am a little surprised to see Fields Of Grace as favourite although clearly people thought she was unlucky last time. She has a chance for sure, but is unders for me. The 2 last time out maiden winners both could be up to this sort of level on their 1st handicap starts so are possible winners. State Squad down at this grade for the first time has solid claims as well. I am however going to back 3 at the prices. I will have a bit on Cable Dancer as I'm excited to see what he can do over this sort of trip and his last run was good. I also like Romania who might well need it 1st up, but for me that is factored into the big price. He might well get an easy lead here and he is over the right trip and in the right grade which he hasn't had of late. The main one I like is Mocca Diamond who has had little go his way in recent starts and I think that has masked the ability he has. Granted there could be excuses again for him giving his running style, but he has shown he has the ability to win a race like this and he is a big price here. Mocca Diamond e/w @ 16/1 with Bet365 Cable Dancer e/w @ 17/2 with Betfred Edit Romania and Irving Again have been scratched.
  11. Aldershot v Leiston Aldershot's two wins against Southend and Gateshead are sticking out like sore thumbs because they have their other 7 league games out of their last 9. Leiston have only lost 3 games in the league all season and all though two levels below I can see them being capable of causing an upset here. Solihull v Barnet Granted it is hard to know how seriously these two will take the game as getting in the play-offs will be more important you would imagine, but I just can't believe Barnet are such a big price here. Solihull are in woeful form at the moment and they look a long way from the side who made the play-off final last season. They have only won once in their last 9 league games and whilst they have had some tough fixtures (they had Wrexham as their Christmas/New Year double header) they have done nothing for me to make them odds on to beat a Barnet side who have only lost once in their last 10. Even when they aren't at their best Barnet are finding a way of at least getting a point in the league and I just don't get the massive price about them here. Scarborough v Blyth Spartans Scarborough were rubbish last week when we were on them against Hereford, but I think they are a spot of value to get back to winning ways here. Blyth have only won 4 games in the league all season and whilst there have been improvement of late that improvement has tended to come at home as was the case when they drew 0-0 with Kings Lynn last week. Away from home they have lost 7 of their last 8 and given Scarborough are having a great season and are right in play-off contention it is hard to understand why they are odds against to win this. Hampton & Richmond v Oxford City Hampton have only won once in their last 10 games and of course it was one time when we opposed them (away at Chelmsford), but their poor run of form was enough to see their manager leave and I think they will struggle against an Oxford side who are very hard to beat. They have lost just 1 in their last 10 although they have drawn half of those. They have been producing some high xG's of late and I suspect it will be the same again here. I make them clear favourites for this. Leiston 1pt @ 4/1 with William Hill, Betfred, Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 3/1) Barnet 2pts @ 7/2 with Betfair and Paddy Power (4/1 with Betfred and 15/4 with Hills and take up to 2/1) Scarborough 1pt @ 5/4 with Betfair, Paddy Power, Coral and Ladbrokes (take up to Evs) Oxford City 1pt @ 6/4 with Skybet, Paddy Power, Betfair and Betfred (Hills are 8/5 and take up to 5/4)
  12. A brief update this week. Envious Editor won the first hunter chase of the season and has been put in the betting for Cheltenham, but Aintree is his target and although the trainer has surprised with entries in the past I would be surprised if he turned up here. I have been told that Bob And Co is now being trained in France and whilst that doesn't rule him out of running in this you would think it unlikely. Onto Ireland and a horse called Rocky's Howya made it 4/4 in points at the weekend. He didn't achieve a great deal over hurdles with a couple of 2nd places the best he managed. After a year off though he seems a different horse as he has gone through the grades and his win at Aghabullogue was his best yet. His trainer after the race said he wouldn't rule Cheltenham out although he still needs to qualify. He isn't currently in the betting, but he clearly should be given this has been given as a possible target. Chatham Street Lad is a general 20/1 shot for Cheltenham after he won at Ballindenisk on New Years Day. He had been only 4th on his pointing debut the previous month at the same track which was his first run since the 2021 Betfair Chase. His trainer said he had come on a lot for that run and it showed as he won well. After the race though the trainer only mentioned about running him in points so no mention of Cheltenham at this stage. He also needs to qualify.
  13. Yeah its a shockingly bad league this season.
  14. Barnet v Gateshead Two sides I put up on Monday and both drew. Barnet weren't as good as they were on Boxing Day and were slightly fortunate to get a draw, whilst Gateshead should have won and conceded two poor goals. They were the better side and it was disappointing they weren't able to see it out. I do fancy Barnet here though as I thought they were so good on Boxing Day and they have been in such good form of late and even though they weren't at their best on Monday they still found a way to equalise. Not surprisingly they announced that Dean Brennan has had his contract extended because he is doing a hell of a job. I don't think there is a huge amount in the price, but I certainly think they should be shorter as they are the better team and I don't think the odds represent a play-off team playing a team in a relegation battle. Also, whilst Gateshead did go to York and beat them 3-0 they have struggled away from home this season having only won twice. Wealdstone v Eastleigh Great performance from Eastleigh to land the 3pt bet on Sunday, but of course Dorking's dreadful defending did help. As I have highlighted in recent weeks Eastleigh'sHMRC form at home and form away is vastly different and whilst I didn't want to take advantage of that when they went to Dorking, and was right to do so, I do want to back Wealdstone to beat them. They have had a strange old season having started in good form, then losing the plot and now they are back in good form again having only lost to Barnet in their last 8 games. The fact Eastleigh couldn't win at Dorking and could only score 1 goal there and then scored 4 goals against them at home just highlights for me the massive difference. I would make Wealdstone favourites so am they are fair value here. Darlington v Chorley Frustratingly Chorley managed to get their first league away win since August when we were on Fylde on Boxing Day, but I am going to oppose them again here as they travel to current top of the table Darlington. We are getting odds against as well and I think that is a big price. Darlington did lose to Scarborough at home on Boxing Day 3-2, but they had a higher xG and then on Monday they hammered them 5-2. Darlington's only other loss in their last 10 games was to Fylde and they are playing very well at the moment. Hereford v Scarborough Speaking of Scarborough I am going to put them up to beat Hereford because they look cracking value. Hereford look pretty poor at the moment. They barely created a shot of note in the two games against Kidderminster over Christmas although they did manage a goal which gave them a point on New Years Day whereas they lost 1-0 at home on Boxing Day. They haven't won in 6 games now and before that the win was only against AFC Telford. Scarborough have only lost that game on Monday and to Chester in their last 10 and for me are a better side than Hereford so I'm more than happy to back them at over 2/1. Peterborough Sports v Southport Southport have drawn half of their last 10 league games, but they have also only lost once and whilst overall their away form doesn't look great, they are now unbeaten in 5 on their travels and they look a big price here. Peterborough revealed earlier in the week that they are currently under a transfer embargo due to an unpaid VAT bill. As far as I know that hadn't been announced anywhere before, but clearly it means they have been stuck with the same squad for a while now and I don't think it is a coincidence that they have lost their last 3 league games. Granted they were spread out across December, but this will be a tricky game for them against a team who are hard to beat right now. Barnet 1pt @ 5/4 with William Hill and Betfred (take up to 11/10) Wealdstone 1pt @ 17/10 with William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral (take up to 11/8) Darlington 2pts @ 11/8 with William Hill and Bet365 (take up to Evs) Scarborough 2pts @ 23/10 with Paddy Power and Betfair (Hills are 12/5 and take up to 7/4) Southport 1pt @ 2/1 with Paddy Power, Betfair and Betfred (Hills are 21/10 and take up to 7/4)
  15. Sadly the draw did for Beneficio in the end this morning. The jockey said after the race that she had to use to much energy at the start of the race to get across and she didn't have enough left late on. To be fair she did kick for home again in the straight and tried hard. I also just wonder if she may come on for the run this time. The 3 horses who filled the frame were all drawn low.
  16. My Australian horse Beneficio is back out tomorrow morning (6am) in Race 8 at Benalla. As usual I will preview the race. Prairie Fire - Has been running at Alice Springs of late and has moved to a Victorian based trainer. The quality of racing wouldn't be the strongest there and it would suggest he's going to struggle off top weight here. Burning The Clock - Won a 0-58 and a BM58 in September and October last year and then for some reason connections ran him in a Listed race during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. That is basically the equivalent of a horse winning a Class 6 handicap here and then going to for a Listed Race at Royal Ascot. Still he did actually finish 8th of 11 so it wasn't a bad effort. He then went into BM64 level (same as this race) and only beat one home at Tatura. He's never won at this level before and it would be a surprise if he won this. Red Octane - Likes to try and race on the speed although is drawn wide here in 12. Won 4 back in May at this level over 1200m although was poor next time. Then had a spell before only beating one home at Wangaratta last month. That was over 1000m and then stepped up to 1170m at the same track 3 weeks later and was a decent 3rd. If improving for that run wouldn't have an e/w chance in this. Missed The Mark - Was only a 4 runner BM58 he won at Warracknabeal in October and was then a well beaten 5th in a 0-64 at Mornington. Is another who might try and front run and another one who has a double figure draw. Overall form looks like he wouldn't be good enough for this. Beneficio - The people who run the syndicate are very confident that she can win this. She got a couple of nasty cuts when getting loose during a bit of work which is why she has been off since October. I don't think things have gone her way in her last two races and this is certainly weaker than both those contests. She impressed me in a jump out at Cranbourne 3 weeks ago and she does have a great 1st up record so it could well be 1st up is the time to catch her. The trainer is very happy with her and the yard have been firing in the winners in the last couple of weeks so that is another plus. The big negative though is the draw as she will be on the wide outside. Hopefully she will break as fast as she usually does and she can get ahead of the fellow front runners on her inside. I think there is a fair chance she can do that and if she does it is then just a case of if she can stay there in ahead of the finishers. Excel And Fly - Had to race wide with no cover at Werribee 1st up a month ago, but was only just caught late on by Head First to finish 3rd by 0.2L. Only had 5 starts and that race was the same level as this so another one with a good chance here. Proud Conquest - Only had 4 starts and won on debut at Donald in May before being sent off a short price favourite for a handicap at Caulfield. He was very keen and caught wide and only beat one horse home. The problem is it has been a similar story in lesser races at Sandown and Kyneton so far this prep. I would say he should get cover from barrier 5, but he had 3 last time and still ended up wide with no cover. If he went and won it wouldn't surprise, but I can't be backing him until he shows more. Turoar - Won his maiden on start number 8 at Wangaratta in December 21 but was then last in a BM64 over the same course and distance 3 weeks later. Only had one jump out a couple of weeks ago since so likely to need this. Media Empire - Has yet to be placed at this level and would need to step up on his 1st up effort at Wangaratta a couple of weeks ago. The Hay Flyer - Didn't show too much in her 1st two starts and then won on start 3 at Kyneton in May. Was well beaten in a BM58 at Kilmore the same month so would need to improve on that. She has won her last couple of jumpouts at Flemington so maybe she has improved again, but she needs to have done. Head First - She has got in as a reserve and is set to go off favourite. She has been on the go since September, but has been running pretty well on the whole and won at Werribee in BM64 company two starts back just getting up to beat Excel And Fly. Was 3rd over the same course and distance a couple of weeks later where I don't think she was given the best of rides as for me she needlessly got into a speed dual and didn't have much left late on. Drawn in 10, but clearly a leading contender. Verdict - For me the ones to focus on are Red Octane, Beneficio, Excel And Fly and Head First. I will be backing Beneficio. Like I say the confidence is very high in the camp that she can win this and she certainly has the ability to do so. For me it will be the draw that beats her, but hopefully she can overcome that. I will also be backing Excel And Fly who should be able to get a better run than he did last time when just being caught by Head First. He should be fitter after that run as well and he can reverse the form with Head First if she does get a run. Beneficio @ 4/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair Excel And Fly @ 4/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair
  17. All the Step 3 leagues play on Monday so any bets from there I will likely send out on Monday morning. 7 bets across the National Leagues and my brief reasons for them are below. Chesterfield v Scunthorpe Although Scunthorpe did go a goal up on Boxing Day it was quite easy for Chesterfield in the end and I expect it to be even easier at home on Sunday. The -1 handicap is odds on, but I think Chesterfield are at least 2 goals better than Scunthorpe so will take the -2. Eastleigh v Dorking Eastleigh got a rare point on the road in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day and now they are back at home I think they can get the better of Dorking who aren't playing that well at the moment. I'm actually surprised that Eastleigh have drifted out as much as they have and they are value to win this. Boreham Wood v Barnet (Monday) I thought Barnet deserved the victory on Boxing Day. Yes, after the red cards it did disrupt Barnet more and the equaliser wasn't a huge surprise, but Barnet were the better team over the 90 minutes and I am happy to back them again here to do the double. Gateshead v York (Monday) Gateshead did have two penalties on Boxing Day which helped them to a 3-0 victory, but they played well and that victory along with the easy FA Trophy win over Gloucester last week do hint that they are an improved side at the moment. Not a huge amount in this, but enough for me to back the home win. Dartford v Ebbsfleet I don't think many people saw a 4-1 Dartford win coming in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, but 3 early goals by Dartford pretty much saw the game done and dusted. Ebbsfleet are clearly capable of getting their revenge, but they are having a wobble right now so at the prices I will take Dartford to do the double. Hampton & Richmond v Worthing Worthing won the reverse fixture 4-3 and although they had to play at Bath on Thursday so have had an extra game, they do look a big price here. Their away form is strong and Hampton have only won once in their last 8 league games and have lost 6 of those. Chesterfield -2 1pt @ 23/10 with Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 7/4) Eastleigh 3pts @ 9/10 with Betfred (Hills are 10/11 take up to 4/6) Barnet 1pt @ 14/5 with Paddy Power, William Hill and Betfair (Coral and Ladbrokes are 29/10 and take up to 2/1) Gateshead 1pt @ 29/20 with Betfair and Paddy Power (take up to 6/5) Dartford 1pt @ 21/10 with William Hill, Betfred and BetVictor (Bet365 are 13/5 and take up to 15/8) Worthing 1pt @ 23/10 with Bet365 and SBK (take up to 7/4)
  18. Time to update this again after the hunter chase at Down Royal on Boxing Day. The Storyteller had landed another open point at Quakerstown since I wrote the first update, but again the bare form of the win was nothing to write home about. Even so there was plenty of confidence about his chances on Monday. Gordon Elliott had put him up in the paper as his best chance of a winner over the Christmas period and he was very well backed into favoritism. In the end though he never really threatened to get competitive and was a well beaten 7th. Unless something comes to light then you struggle to see him even lining up at Cheltenham let alone being capable of fighting out the finish. The fact Skybet still have him at 8/1 is disgraceful and even the 25/1 with Boylesports seems on the short side to me. Vaucelet had been a slightly disappointing 3rd to Dorking Cock in this race last year, but he was able to reverse that form by getting up to win right on the line. He had looked like he would finish 2nd after jumping the last and I don't think his jockey wanted to give him an overly hard race, but Dorking Cock started to stop on the run-in and he was able to take full advantage. Not surprisingly he was cut into 3/1 with everyone for Cheltenham and at this stage I think he is the correct favourite. In this country I took in my first point of the season at Chaddesley Corbett and the meeting featured some horses in the betting. Latenightpass was slightly surprisingly beaten in the Ladies Open by Shantou Flyer. The Aintree Foxhunter winner is likely to bypass Cheltenham again though so the 10/1 about him makes no appeal at all. Shantou Flyer dead heated on his seasonal return and I think fitness told late on at Chaddesley. He is Olive Nicholls' ride this season and not surprisingly he looks set to give her a spin at Cheltenham in March. He isn't in the betting as of yet, but his Cheltenham form alone means he would have a fair chance of a top 6 finish. He clearly retains plenty of ability as well. Jett is in the betting still, but he was pulled up yet again on Tuesday and he should be retired as he doesn't look like he wants to be a racehorse anymore. It seems like the Mens Open winner Fier Jaguen isn't going to be aimed at Cheltenham this season, but Bradley Gibbs' horse put in a devastating performance to land the Mens Open on the card. He made all the running and forced every horse in the race (and it was a strong contest) to pull up expect for one who plodded onto finish 2nd. I think he could be good enough for a race like this possibly next season when he has more experience and is another year older. Over in Ireland Chris's Dream made his pointing debut at the end of last month. He is still trained by Henry de Bromhead and had finished 2nd in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase to The Storyteller 2 years ago. He had lost his way, but dropping down to pointing company looks to have turned him around as he was very impressive in beating a useful yardstick Aloneamongmillions by 22L at Moig South. It will be interesting to see what he does next, but he was put into the betting at 10/1 which seems a fair enough price at this stage. He would need to win another point or finish in the first 2 in a hunter chase though to qualify. Brain Power landed the Grand National in America back in 2019 when trained by Nicky Henderson and he has been in good form this season in points winning 3 times. He was set to run at Down Royal but was taken out because of the ground. His wins are good pieces of form especially his win over Hardline last time. Aintree might be his main target, but Cheltenham has been mentioned as a possibility as well. He is 16/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for Cheltenham.
  19. Barnet v Boreham Wood Thought it was hard to see much value in the National League on Monday. Opposing Eastleigh away from home against Dorking was half tempting, but Dorking aren't really winning matches at the moment and Eastleigh did win at Woking in the FA Trophy this week. So the one bet will be Barnet in the live BT game. Not sure why Boreham Wood have been so well backed, but that means Barnet have drifted to value price. With the FA Cup, FA Trophy and the weather neither of these sides have seen much league action of late, but Barnet have only lost twice in their last 10 league games and one of those was the 7-5 freak game at Wrexham. Boreham Wood on the other hand hadn't won in 7 until they beat Oldham 2-1 in their last league match. That was slightly fortunate as it needed a 90th minute goal to win the match and Barnet will be a tougher game than Oldham. Barnet should be favourites for me so 21/10 is a huge price. AFC Fylde v Chorley Really like Fylde here. They come into this game in great form in the league and whilst Chorley have yet to lose at home, away from home they have only won twice and both of those came in August. At evens/shade of odds on Fylde are too big a price for me. Havant & Waterlooville v Eastbourne Ante-post wise I hope this bet is a loser, but Eastbourne are too big for me. Havant's home form has not been good of late as they have won just twice in their last 7 home league games. Eastbourne have only lost once in their last 9 games and in their last league game they won at Ebbsfleet so they are certainly over priced for this. Hemel Hempstead v St Albans St Albans are in good form at the moment and have only lost to Eastbourne in their last 7 league games. They are a better side than their hosts here who have only beaten Chippenham, Hungerford and Bath in their last 10 league games. Barnet 2pts @ 21/10 with Bet365, Coral and Ladbrokes (take up to 11/8) AFC Fylde 3pts @ 19/20 with Skybet (Coral are 21/10 and take up to 4/6) Eastbourne 1pt @ 7/2 with Betfred (Coral are 18/5 and take up to 5/2) St Albans 1pt @ 13/8 with William Hill (take up to 11/8)
  20. Chesterfield v Dorking Happy to back the over 3.5 goals here. Dorking lost 3-1 at Halifax on Tuesday and I think Chesterfield will bounce back from their own defeat at Halifax last Saturday. At the very least I think we will see goals. Eastleigh v Wrexham Eastleigh won for us at home last week and I can't remember seeing a team have such a big difference to the points they have won at home compared to the points they have won away. Wrexham were awful again away from home against York last week and York fully deserved to score the injury time equalizer. More than happy to back the home side at big odds here. Maidenhead v Notts County Maidenhead had a great record against the big clubs at home last season and Alan Devonshire just continues to get his Maidenhead side to cause the big sides plenty of issues. Clearly County should be odds on favs, but there is value for me in the home win. Yeovil v Scunthorpe The set of fixtures this weekend are the reverse of the opening day ones and Scunthorpe fans were probably thinking they would be in for a good season when they beat Yeovil, but things have turned very sour since then. They have only managed to win 2 more league games since then and are currently bottom and without a manager. I don't think the takeover is going to have an effect at the moment and they have yet to win away from home. At the start of the season I wouldn't have thought I would have been backing Yeovil at Evs to beat anyone, but Mark Cooper has not surprisingly improved the side and beating Halifax last time was a very good win. They have only lost at Woking in their last 6 games and they can win this. Oldham v Torquay Hopefully this game will be live on BT Sport on Sunday afternoon after they have shown Braintree v Dulwich at lunchtime. Boreham Wood scored a late winner to defeat Oldham, but that sums them up at the moment. Just 1 point in their last 6 games which came against Maidstone and David Unsworth must be close to getting the sack. Money is being spent on the side, but they still aren't getting results and I think they could do with a new manager. Torquay have hardly been convincing themselves, but winning at Dagenham last weekend was a surprisingly good result. If it was just down to the managers then I'd be really strong on Torquay here and hopefully Johnson's experience can see Torquay land the 3 points. Slough v Havant & Waterlooville Shouldn't be any issues with this game being on as Slough have a 3g pitch. Havant were hammered by Worthing last week who were themselves hammered by Ebbsfleet on Tuesday. With Ebbsfleet already looking hard to catch I do think those two results have pretty much made it Ebbsfleet's title already. I don't see them getting caught now. Ebbsfleet had a comfortable afternoon beating Slough 2-0 last weekend and I think Havant can also cover the -1 handicap here. Slough struggled against 10 man Concord on Tuesday night and Havant should be able to make their class show against one of the weaker sides in the division. Chesterfield v Dorking over 3.5 goals 1pt @ 31/20 with Paddy Power and Betfair (13/8 with Bet365 and take up to 5/4) Eastleigh 1pt @ 9/2 with William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred (take up to 5/2) Maidenhead 1pt @ 7/1 with Betfred (15/2 with Coral and Ladbrokes and take up to 5/1) Yeovil 2pts @ Evs with Bet365 (take up to 4/5) Torquay 1pt @ 13/5 with Betfred and William Hill (take up to 2/1) Havant -1 1pt @ 15/8 with Betfred (take up to 11/8)
  21. Well they probably wouldn’t get huge viewing figures but the gap in the World Cup gave them opportunity to try it. Hopefully it leads to more being shown.
  22. Big gap between those two games though and a team like Eastbourne aren't always going to be that consistent. Not the first time they have put in a stinker this season.
  23. Slough v Concord A change of manager at Slough led to a win in the FA Trophy win, but back in the league and it has been two defeats. They not surprisingly lost to Ebbsfleet on Saturday, but more worrying has to be the 5-1 loss to Eastbourne the week before. It is just 2 points for them in their last 10 games now and they are really struggling. Concord have also changed their manager and as I highlighted a few weeks ago they have improved for the manager switch. Their only defeat in the last 6 league games was against Dartford and they have won 4 of those 6 games. Quite why they are as big a price as they are for this I don't know as they are in much better shape than their hosts right now and they are cracking value. Welling v Farnborough Welling started off very well and the ante-post bet on them was looking a fair shout, but their form has fallen off the edge of a cliff as they have won just once in 10 games. They have drawn 3 of their last 5 which isn't bad, but they are suffering a bit with injuries at the moment. I'm happy to back Farnborough again here as they were a bit unlucky not to win for us on Saturday. Their good form continues though so I think they can get back to winning ways here. Kidderminster v Chester For the first time since Setanta showed the play-offs back in 2007 we have a live National League North game on TV to look forward to. With a blank day in the World Cup BT are showing this game on Wednesday night and on Sunday lunchtime they are showing the National League South game between Braintree and Dulwich. It is handy they have chosen this game because I really fancy Chester. Quite how the bookies have come up with the prices they have for this game I don't know. The home sides only win in their last 7 games was a lucky one against bottom side AFC Telford. I mentioned when I backed Gloucester against them that they weren't playing well and they duly lost that game. On Friday night they only drew 1-1 against an Alfreton side who had gone down to ten men and had to put the reserve keeper in goal after their first choice got injured. They now host a Chester game who have won 7 and drawn 3 of their last 10 league games. They have scored 21 goals in that time, scored in every game and conceded just 7, 4 of which came in the 3 draws. As that shows they are in cracking form at the moment and their price is crazy as I would nearly make them favourites. At the price they are for me they are a max bet. Concord 2pts @ 5/2 with Betfair and Paddy Power (take up to 7/4) Farnborough 1pt @ 17/10 with Paddy Power, Betfair and Coral (take up to 11/8) Chester 5pts @ 11/4 with Bet365, Betfred and Skybet (Coral are 3/1 and take up to 6/4)
  24. Good pick with Eastbourne. I am always slightly worried when I new manager comes in, but clearly he has a lot of work to do at Slough.
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