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Everything posted by Darran

  1. Time for the 2nd update for the season and the obvious place to start is with the Thurles hunter chase which saw Billaway make his seasonal debut. I wondered if he'd had a setback in the opening post and I was right to think that with Willie Mullins confirming in his Sporting Life column that the horse would need the run after having suffered a setback. When you add into the fact that he doesn't have a great first time out record then I think the run was perfectly respectable. It's not unusual for him to come off the bridle so that doesn't bother me and his jumping isn't always foot perfect either so again that wasn't a huge surprise. Once he couldn't win the race Patrick wasn't overly hard on him and just made sure that he finished 2nd. He was pushed out to 6/1 after the race which surprised me as I reckon we will see a much improved performance next time out now he has got this opening run under his belt. Winged Leader was the winner of the race and he has been cut from 20/1 into 8/1 2nd favourite for Cheltenham. It was a good front running performance and his trainer said he would be entered for Cheltenham although he thinks he might be more one for Aintree. In my first piece I rubbished his chances for Cheltenham, but regardless of the 2nd needing the run it was clearly an improved performance from his previous form. At this stage though I still don't rate him as a possible winner of this race and I would back Billaway to reverse the form as he clearly had a fitness edge over him on Sunday. Its All Guesswork and Stand Up And Fight were 3rd and 4th and are in some bookies prices, but neither look likely winners. I shall stay in Ireland and look at another Willie Mullins horse called Good Bye Sam. When I was looking through the odds I thought who on earth is this horse at 20/1 in the betting as I had never heard of him. Turns out he had a few runs in France without winning the last of which was in October 2020. Since then he has gone to the Mullins yard and on the 15th January he finished 2nd in a maiden point. Clearly someone must have asked around for a price because otherwise the bookies wouldn't have priced him up. I know he's a great trainer, but it would be some feat to even get him qualified for Cheltenham let alone for him to be a possible winner of the race. At Turtulla on January 16th Aloneamongmillions made a winning seasonal debut. He was quite high in the betting for this race last year before finishing 3rd at Down Royal and then disappointing at Naas a year ago. This was his first run since and it was good to see him get back to winning ways. He's not in the betting at the moment and I don't know if this is the target, but he ought to be in the betting. He had Er Dancer 3L back in 2nd and Killultagh Vic was well beaten in 4th. Both of those 2 are in the betting, but the latter has little chance of qualifying now. With hunter chases starting back up this side of the Irish Sea we will start to see who the leading candidates will be for the British although I doubt anything from the first two will trouble the judge at Cheltenham and that is even if they run. Hogan's Height won well at Ludlow under a good Gina Andrews ride, but his trainer didn't sound like this race was the target although if he qualified his owners might well fancy a runner at the Festival. He is 33/1 and to me that represents the sort of chance he would have. At Warwick we saw some disappointing efforts especially from Kimberlite Candy, but Reikers Island was a good winner under a superb front running ride. He has been put in at 25/1, but his trainer has said that Aintree is his target as his owner wants to ride him over the National fences. On Sunday Highway Jewel made a winning seasonal appearance at Chipley Park in a Mixed Open. It was only a 3 runner race, but her two opponents had already both won this season so she wasn't beating no hopers and they both had race fitness on their side. She made all and put the race to bed in impressive style at 3 out. Understandably she got a bit tired on the run-in, but she clocked by far the quickest time on the card despite being eased off late on. If she had won under Rules then her price would have shortened, but because it was a point she was unchanged at a general 20/1. I wouldn't mind seeing her get some more experience in a Hunter Chase pre Cheltenham, but she certainly looks in good nick at the price is a fair one. Last year's winner Porlock Bay has a hunter chase entry at Hereford on Monday and a point entry at Milborne St Andrew the day before so it looks like we might well see him in action in the next few days.
  2. Maidenhead v Halifax (National League) The home side have a very good record against the top sides as they did last season and they proved that again on Tuesday night when becoming just the 2nd side to beat Chesterfield in the league this season. They were good value for the win and having beaten Halifax on the opening day of the season they are worth a play at landing the double. Gloucester v Southport (National League North) I have to oppose my side again we just aren't creating much at all and although we have been more solid at home, Southport have been creating plenty of chances of late and I think they are the toughest side that Gloucester have hosted for a while. The prices are all wrong and I would make Southport favourites. Kidderminster v York (National League North) I just get the feeling Kidderminster are running on fumes at the moment and they created very little in Tuesday night's defeat at Hereford. York on the other hand have had very little football and this will just be their 2nd league game since December 11th and their first this year. They won in the FA Trophy last week over Slough and they look value here with the fresher legs. Hungerford v Chelmsford (National League South) The home side seem to have lost their way a little and Chelmsford are still creating a fair few chances, although they do sometimes have a problem in actually putting them away. They are clearly playing well though and look a spot of value here. Morpeth v Buxton (Northern Premier) The home side did us a great turn in the Trophy last week and I fancy them again at big odds to beat Buxton who really seem to have lost their way recently. The 3-3 draw against Warrington last week was their only point in their last 5 games and as we know Morpeth are in really good form at the moment. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going. Maidenhead 1pt @ 7/2 with Skybet, BetVictor and Betfred (take up to 9/4) Southport 2pts @ 19/10 with Betfred, Betfair, Paddy Power, William Hill and Coral (take up to 5/4) York 1pt @ 17/5 with William Hill and Coral (take up to 9/4) Chelmsford 1pt @ 21/10 with William Hill (take up to 7/4) Morpeth 1pt @ 12/5 with Bet365, Betfred and Betfair (take up to 7/4) Other bets (all National League South) Eastbourne to beat Bath 1pt @ 11/5 with William Hill (take up to 7/4) Dorking to beat Ebbsfleet 1pt @ 7/4 with Betfair and Paddy Power (take up to 11/8)Hemel Hempstead to beat Tonbridge Angels 1pt @ 23/10 with William Hill (take up to 7/4)
  3. The first race of the 2022 hunter chase season as in interesting affair, but from a punting point of view it looks tricky. When I had a first glance over the final entries on Tuesday my initial thinking was that Another Venture could be worth a bet. What I wasn't expecting though was for him to be favourite for the race. On balance I think he has the best recent form over this sort of trip when he won over course and distance just over a year ago off a mark of 135. After that he fell at Warwick and then pulled up in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. New connections paid £20k for him in May which the jockey being Nicky Henderson's assistant. I suspect that George is probably the unofficial trainer as well. He made a solid enough start at the Open Meeting in November when finishing 3rd over 3m1f. Granted he was 16L behind the winner and a faller at the last helped him finish 3rd but he got an RPR of 129 so it was a good effort. I'd imagine they are trying to get him qualified for Cheltenham and I think he has claims here. Hogan's Height won the 2019 Grand Sefton, but it is fair to say that he hasn't really achieved very much since. Clearly they have been in better races than this though. He was miles behind Tiger Roll in 6th at Cheltenham and then 12th behind Minella Times at Aintree for example. The 6th in this season's Grand Sefton was OK although he didn't seem to be enjoying himself at all in the Becher last time. The booking of Gina is obviously a big plus and in an easier race it might just see him bounce back to form, but I would have liked to see him perform better than he has been so he wouldn't be for me here. I mention that Another Venture has the best recent form over this sort of trip, because the best recent form in my view is Not That Fuisse as he was beaten a neck in a Listed Race at Ayr in April and prior to that he was 5th in the Grand Annual. The 4th at Sandown a week after the Ayr race was decent as well. The problem is those races were over 2m and 2m4f and we have no idea if he will stay this far. The other thing to consider is that he had an irregular heartbeat after pulling up at Chepstow in October. I have just had a look at what Dan Skelton said about him in his Racing Post stable tour back in November and he said that he has his heart right now. He also mentioned that he think there's still a big day in him although it might not be until the spring on good ground. Does make me wonder why he has ended up going hunter chasing, but Dan has proven he's very good at targeting his horses at races and maybe he is looking at Aintree with him. On paper I think he is probably the best horse in the race, but I just wonder if the combination of trip and ground might just stop him from winning this. After those 3 in the betting we get to the horses who have been pointing and hunter chasing already. Zamparelli has proven himself to be a good solid horse in hunter chases and beat Bletchley Castle by 9L here in March over 2m4f. He then fell at Cheltenham before finishing a fast finishing 2nd in the only handicap hunter chase of the season at Stratford. He found himself outpaced that day after they went a hell of a gallop and I think a step up in trip under rules might help him especially as he has won a couple of times over the trip and he was strong in the finish when he won here. The comeback run at Larkhill in December was decent enough as he tends to need the run and he did pull up on his seasonal return last term which backs up that point. If any of the 3 ahead of him in the betting run up to the best of their ability then I can't see him beating them, but as I have mentioned it is hardly as if any of them come here completely bombproof. Ozzy Thomas' handicap form from last season would give him a chance in this, but he has gone to Scott Malson who also owns and rides him and I am not sure he is going to be running up to that level. This is the first horse Scott has trained and he has only ridden 1 winner in 41 rides in points. His 4th at Ffos Las in a point in November is nowhere near good enough to land this. He did run in a hunter chase at Fakenham just before racing stopped for Covid and he was given a shocking ride when coming last so I would ignore that. In theory a double figure price about him is too big, but I have big doubts about him being able to show the form he was showing for Henry Oliver last season so I will pass him over. Haven't Time showed some useful form in points in the 2019 season, but he wasn't seen from March that year until November last year when he fell at the 11th. Impossible to know what sort of level he is capable of, given the time off and the face he is unexposed. What I will say is connections could have stuck to pointing with him and found an easier option. As much as I don't want to back him I am interested to see how he gets on with the future in mind. Good to see Bletchley Castle back for another season as a 13yo. He will make the running as usual no doubt and does like it here having run well when 2nd on all 3 starts here last season. I've never really thought of him as a proper 3 miler though and that 2nd to Garde Ville over course and distance came in a 4 runner where the other 2 were big disappointments. I suspect he might well need the run as well. I always respect anything Joe O'Shea runs as he is such a shrewd trainer as he showed with Cousin Pascal at Aintree last year. He was also entered in this race for the same owner as Envious Editor, but he is obviously being kept for another contest. He has already run 4 times this season, but has only actually completed on one of those occasions when 2nd at Ffos Las. Last time out he ran at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas and he travelled really well during the race, but emptied in the home straight and ended up pulling up. That was over 2m3f and he doesn't even look like he truly stays that far let alone 3m. Fair play to Joe if he gets him to even hit the frame, but on the evidence of his point runs and his runs for Gordon Elliott in Ireland I just can't see him lasting the distance. The other 3 runners shouldn't really get involved in the finish. Like I said at the start this is a tricky race from a punting point of view as we have horses rated in the 130s making their hunter chase debut, but with doubts to varying degrees about what sort of form they are still capable of. I think Hold That Fuisse is likely to be the best horse in the race, but I'm not sure today's conditions are going to see him perform to his peak. Another Venture could be the one of the 3 who finds this test the most suitable, but I probably want getting on for 3/1 about him before I would want to play as he isn't exactly bombproof and I don't really fancy Hogans Height. Zamparelli looks the most likely of the rest to run his race and I think he has a fair chance of at least hitting the frame because I would be surprised if all the front 3 ran to form and there has to be a chance none of them do. There will be better punting races I am sure this season, but at the current prices I think the bet is a small e/w one on Zamparelli. Zamparelli 0.5pts e/w @ 15/2 with everyone except Bet365 and Skybet are 4 places (take up to 11/2) I wrote the above last night and this morning Envious Editor has been the big market mover. Like I say in the preview though I just struggle to see him staying. Obviously his trainer has been known to pull of surprises before so if he did go and win I wouldn't be shocked but in this case I have to go with my eyes and the form in the book.
  4. If you are new to reading this thread then a couple of years ago I decided to do a Road to the Cheltenham Foxhunter thread given all the various Cheltenham pieces never mention the contest. It has proved popular and it is back again as we build up to the race. It is later than usual this season for a couple of reasons. First of all bookies have been very slow to price the race up and secondly not too much has happened especially this side of the Irish sea. To start with I have written about every horse who has been priced up so far and added a couple that aren’t, but that are being targeted at the race. Hopefully you will find this useful and as always I will update as and when. Billaway – Not surprisingly the current favourite to finally get his head in front at Cheltenham and I have a feeling at this stage he might just well do it. Having said that his current price is no value and his nonappearance so far this season is a concern. He was entered in the opening Irish hunter chase of the season at Fairyhouse, but didn’t run and then didn’t even get an entry at Down Royal on Boxing Day. Both those things make me think he is injured at the moment or at the very least recovering from an injury. As always with horses being aimed at this race we rarely hear anything about their well being and until we see him on a racecourse I wouldn’t be backing him. Bob And Co – Obviously wont be seen until hunter chases start up in this country and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he followed the same route as last season when he won at Haydock prior to going to Cheltenham. Porlock Bay – Last year’s winner wasn’t seen again after that success and he made his seasonal reappearance at Chaddesley Corbett over Christmas. He finished 2nd to Premier Magic that day beaten a length in the end, but Will Biddick said after the race that he left plenty to work on and that he was working back from Cheltenham. The fact he was beaten doesn’t make me think that he couldn’t hold on to his crown in March as I do think he will improve a lot for race. Reading between the lines of what Will said after the race he clearly thought Porlock Bay would beat Premier Magic should they take each other on again and I agree with him. I wouldn’t want to back him yet, but at the same time I would have him in single figures rather than the 12/1 he is with Bet365. He looks set to run again this month in either a hunter chase or a point as his final prep for Cheltenham. Premier Magic isn’t priced up yet, but it did sound like he would be going to Cheltenham as well. He’s a good horse and Bradley Gibbs mentioned he had improved from last season. I do think he was the fitter horse at Chaddesley rather than being the better horse. Latenightpass – As short as 8/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair, but connections have said they will skip Cheltenham and aim him at Aintree instead which seems sensible and they have two other horses to target at the race anyway. Staker Wallace – 4th and 3rd in the last two runnings and could still have improvement to come. Has yet to be seen so far this season. Paddy Power and Betfair go 7s which is closer to the price I would have him at rather than the 20/1 Unibet have put him in at. Mighty Stowaway – Already run 7 times between October and the end of December and he’s won 2 points and head heated in another. He was 3rd behind Vaucelet at Fairyhouse in November and it is hard to see on what he has shown so far this season how he is going to improve on his well beaten 6th at Cheltenham last year. Lord Schnitzel – Was pulled up at the 2020 Festival in the Novice Handicap Chase off 139 and didn’t so a great deal after that. He change trainers last summer and started off by finishing 5th in a Kilbeggan maiden hurdle, before finishing 2nd in his 1st point in September. Since then he has thrived as he won 3 points on the bounce before trouncing his rivals in a maiden hunter chase at Limerick over Christmas. That was an impressive performance and it will be interesting to see what he does in a stronger race, but his trainer said after the race that they may skip Cheltenham and go to Aintree instead. Winged Leader – Surprised to see him in the beating to be honest as I’d be surprised if he ran, but dead heated with Mighty Stowaway in his only run so far this season. Just struggle to see how he would find the improvement needed to play a part if he did travel. It Came To Pass – Was a well beaten 7th last year after beating Billaway by 10L in 2020. Has run in 3 points this season so far and after being stuffed in the first of them finished a close 2nd next time before beating Killultagh Vic by a couple of lengths on Sunday. For a novice riders race it was a decent heat, but at this stage I find it hard to see him getting close to his 2020 effort. Killultagh Vic – Speaking of Killultagh Vic he is also priced up and it was back in 2015 that he landed the Martin Pipe. Obviously has the back class, but he’s now 13 and given he’s been beaten in 2 points this season as well as one last season he will probably do well to qualify for the race let alone win it. Cloudy Tuesday – Is unexposed and easily won a hunter chase at Thurles last March, before pulling up at Fairyhouse. This season he beat It Came To Pass first up, but was then 2nd to Mighty Stowaway last month and he would need to find improvement to play a part at Cheltenham. Another Venture – Nicky Henderson doesn’t send too many hunter chasing, but he mentioned that this horse had been purchased to go hunter chasing under his assistant George Daly. George rode him at Cheltenham at the November meeting and ran well enough to finish 3rd albeit 16L behind the winner. In all honestly I think the only reason he has been priced up is because of who he is trained by as his previous rules form wouldn’t be good enough to win this, but he does look capable of winning hunter chases during the season. Vaucelet – Had Premier Magic and Fumet d’Oudairies behind him win when landing the John Corbet Cup at Stratford last season and he did it will that day on only his 5th start. He returned this term to win a point by 30L before landing the first hunter chase of the season at Fairyhouse. I thought he still looked green that day and it made me think that this season’s Cheltenham Festival might be a year to soon for him. He then went to Down Royal on Boxing Day in a race he really ought to have been good enough to win, but he was only 3rd in the end. He was making hard work of it, but coming to 2 out I thought he was going to win given how well he stays. I was disappointed that he didn’t keep finding at that point and that he faded into 3rd. Some might say that the trip was too short, but for me the trip didn’t get him beat. It will be interesting to see what he does next time, but if he were mine I wouldn’t send him to Cheltenham this season and I think they would be better allowing him some more time. Dorking Cock won that Down Royal contest and he got up to a rating of 129 when trained over here by Tom Lacey. He was a surprise winner at Down Royal and he wouldn’t be good enough for this based on what he had done previously, but he’s only had 17 starts so maybe there is more to come. He’s not in the betting at the moment, but the 2nd home Er Dancer is. He had won a couple of points prior to Down Royal and it does seem like he’s found some improvement this season. He ran like he needed further and could possibly be interesting if the improvement continues. Fumet d’Oudairies – An incredible buy at just £800 given he is 5 from 6 in points and he has won a couple of hunter chases. I thought he was impressive at Leicester and Cheltenham although they were over 2m4f and 2m respectively and he was only 2nd to Vaucelet at Stratford and that would lead me to think he might struggle to stay in this. He returned on New Years Eve where he had a very easy task at Horseheath under his new jockey Gina Andrews as her brother has now gone pro. I’d want to see him prove he can stay this far under rules and Gina is likely to have a tricky choice to make as the yard have another contender. Dubai Quest – That other horse is Dubai Quest and at this stage I would favour him over his stablemate. Apart from when he fell on his debut for the yard he has won his other 6 starts for them including bolting up in a hunter chase at Fakenham last February. His only other start last season was a point win at Maisemore. This season he returned in what will probably be the hottest Ladies Open we see all season at Chaddesley Corbett which he won well beating Tango de Juilley and Red Indian. I think it’s seriously good form and connections suggested the hunter chase at Wetherby next month would be used as his Cheltenham prep. He’s not priced up yet, but he ought to be. Highway Jewel – You may remember that I tipped her up at 66/1 last year only for the trainer to forget to enter her! She has been put in the betting at 20/1 with Bet365 this time around and she has yet to run this season. I think she is better than her stablemate Premier Magic and she would be my pick of the Gibbs runners. I can’t wait to see her back in action.
  5. Amazing performances from Boreham Wood and Kidderminster to win today and from what I could tell in the highlights both wins were fully deserved. I enjoyed my trip to Stamford Bridge as did the near 6000 who had come from Chesterfield especially when Asante netted the goal, so close to getting my Tshimanga to score at anytime bet up as he did all the donkey work. I was amazed at how strong a side Chelsea put out and they meant business in the first half and they fully deserved to be 4 up at half time. 2nd half though they were the total opposite and whereas they were free flowing in the first half in the 2nd they were over thinking things. I know there was an element of game won, but if they had the attitude for the whole game then we might have seen something special. I also have to disagree with @StevieDay1983and if Chelsea had put out the youth team then there would have been only one team I would have wanted to have been backing and it wouldn't be the home team.
  6. These are my tips for this week, not had time to check prices but as always minimum price to take is mentioned. Bromley v Solihull Moors Bromley still seem off the pace at the moment. I didn't think they performed well against Southend in the TV game on Boxing Day and they followed that up with a loss to Maidenhead. There last 3 league games have seen them record lower xG's than their opponents including when they beat Altrincham 1-0 when their xG was 0.83 and Altrincham's was 2.37. They are clearly under performing at the moment and Solihull are more than good enough to take advantage. Although Stockport edged it in their last league game, Solihull certainly played their part and created some good chances themselves. For me there isn't much between these two sides and when you add in Bromley's recent performances then the away win is a clear bet. Chippenham v Slough (National League South) I am going to continue to back Slough despite the fact they only got a point on Sunday. They outperformed Oxford City again on the xG front getting 1.02 to Oxford's 0.49 and they have every right to fill frustrated by the fact they only picked up 1 point in their two games against Oxford. Chippenham had a very good win over Hungerford, but either side of that they were beaten by Bath and I would have Slough as a better side than Bath. It is also clear that Hungerford just had a bad day at the office especially as they bounced back with an easy win over Hampton in their next game. There is clear value in backing Slough here. Farsley Celtic v Darlington (National League North) The home side have been struggling having only beaten Bradford Park Avenue in their last 8 league games and I think Darlington can be another opponent who gets 3 points against them. Darlington have also only won once in their last 7 games, but they have drawn 4 of those including both games against Spennymoor over the holiday period. The win was also against Fylde and they certainly have the edge for me over the home side. Potters Bar v Cray (Isthmian Premier) Since Potters Bar beat Lewes 5-1 they have failed to pick up a point in their next 3 games. Not only that but they have conceded 4 goals each time including against a poor Leatherhead side. They also lost 4-0 to Enfield in their last game, but on Monday Cray played them and drew 4-4 which was slightly unfortunate as they were 4-2 up at one stage. Cray are scoring goals at the moment whilst Potters Bar are letting them in and there is no reason why Cray should be such a big price. Tamworth v Royston (Southern Premier Central) Tamworth have not had a good season at all and although you couldn't say for certain they are out of the play-off picture given they have games in hand, it is unlikely. They have only picked up 2 points in their last 8 games and I think Royston are just about value to make sure they don't add to that tally here. Gosport v Walton Casuals (Southern Premier South) Gosport won 5-0 in their last game against Salisbury, but they were decimated by various matters and only had two outfield subs on the bench. Gosport had been struggling prior to that and they face a Walton side who have been in very good form. They have lost just 1 of their last 6 and that includes wins over Hayes and Met Police, 2 of the top 3 sides. They look over priced to me to pick up another 3 points. Solihull 1pt @ 12/5 with Betfred (take up to 7/4) Slough 2pts @ 19/10 with William Hill (take up to 11/8) Darlington 1pt @ 15/8 with William Hill, Coral and Ladbrokes (take up to 11/8) Cray 2pts @ 13/5 with Paddy Power, Betfair and William Hill (take up to 7/4) Royston 1pt @ 13/8 with Skybet, Paddy Power, Bet365, Betfair and William Hill (take up to 11/8) Walton Casuals 1pt @ 2/1 with William Hill, Bet365 and Betfred (take up to 13/8 and 85/40 is available with Skybet)
  7. It is hard to see any of the non-league sides making it to the 4th round unless Covid hits as it did for Derby when they played Chorley a year ago. The strange thing is though I put up Chorley at 12/1 to beat Derby and yet Kidderminster are nowhere near that price to beat Reading. Kiddie are probably a bit better than that Chorley side, but then I suspect Reading are better than Derby so even if you thought that Kiddie could get something you are hard pushed to thing the price is much value. Bournemouth ought to be too strong for Yeovil who were probably a little fortunate to get past Stevenage in the last round. Boreham Wood have the best chance as they are very hard to beat at home and if they are up to speed after a Covid break (they looked in need of the game against Barnet on Sunday) then they can make things hard for Wimbledon. Finally we get to the game I will actually be at. I've never seen a live FA Cup game past the 1st Round so it will be a new one for me and I've never been to Stamford Bridge either. I've got to say that the 50/1 you can get on the away side is a bit insulting because they are a very good side and I find it hard to believe that Chelsea aren't going to be resting all the big names so chances are they could make it hard for them. To be honest I am more excited about seeing Tshimanga in the flesh than I am any of the Chelsea team (mainly because I haven't actually heard of most of them), as he is the best player in the National League at the moment. He's Championship standard and it would not surprise me if he scored a goal because he is more than capable of doing so. The only problem is I have backed him at 40/1 to be top scorer this season and I don't really want anymore attention on him during this month! So I will have a few quid on him to score at anytime whilst trying to keep up to date on if any of the league clubs get a Covid issue.
  8. I'm a bit surprised that Gateshead have drifted slightly which makes me wonder if there maybe some Covid issues in the Gateshead camp. For example Dagenham have some staff with Covid (they don't mention players having it) and it has meant Dover have come in a bit against them. I mean on all known form Gateshead should win, but could be worth waiting to see what the team news is.
  9. Some brief thoughts for the next 3 days. Not sure what the prices are now as not got time to check, but as usual a minimum price is added below AFC Rushden & Diamonds v St Ives (Southern League Central) St Ives in good form and Rushden have had Covid issues which might mean this game does get called off, but if it goes ahead St Ives will have a better chance than the odds suggest. Poole v Wimborne (Southern League South) Got to chance Wimborne again at a big price although I would still have Poole as favourites. Maidenhead v Wealdstone (National League) Good win for the home side on Tuesday which was their first for a while and Wealdstone have had Covid issues which has meant they haven't played since losing in the FA Trophy to Needham Market. Looks a good chance for Maidenhead to get back to back wins. Havant v Dorking (National League South) Granted the home side will want to do better than they did Boxing Day, but Dorking should be favs for this in my view. Slough v Oxford City (National League South) I mentioned on Tuesday that Oxford were fortunate to beat Slough on Boxing Day and then Slough won easily against Hampton for us. They are a big price again for Sunday's game. Kettering v Brackley (National League North) I really fancy Brackley here. They have lost just twice all season and Kettering have had Covid issues which hasn't seen them play since beating Leamington 4-0 on 18th December. Leamington had injury issues that day and prior to that Kettering weren't in great form. Shade of odds against looks a big price to me. St Ives 1pt @ 14/5 with Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 2/1) Wimborne 1pt @ 4/1 with Skybet, Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 9/4) Maidenhead 2pts @ 6/5 with William Hill, Coral and Ladbrokes (take up to 4/5) Yeovil to beat Torquay 1pt @ 29/20 with Ladbrokes and Coral (take up to 5/4) Dorking 2pts 29/20 with Skybet, Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair and Betfred (take up to 11/10) Slough 2pts @ 2/1 with Skybet, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betfred and BetVictor (9/4 available with Hills but will log 2/1 and take up to 5/4) Brackley 4pts @ 11/10 with William Hill (take up to 4/6) Halifax to beat Grimsby (Live on BT on Monday) 1pt @ 9/5 with Bet365, William Hill and Betfred (take up to 6/4)
  10. The Down Royal hunter chase on Boxing Day could well feature a leading Cheltenham contender in Vaucelet. You may remember he took the John Corbet Cup at Stratford back in May and although it was a small field he beat some decent horses. He has had two runs already this season and he has won them both landing a point before taking the first hunter chase of the season in Ireland at Fairyhouse. I thought he still looked pretty green and inexperienced at Fairyhouse which would concern me at this stage for Cheltenham, but he is clearly a progressive horse and I think there is more to come. Some people have wondered if the trip is on the short side for him, but to me he has a high cruising speed and there is every chance that this will be run at a much stronger pace than the Stratford race which should turn in it into a decent test at the trip. Therefore the trip doesn't concern me and I think it is his greenness which makes it look like he needs a test of stamina. When I look at his opposition I am not actually all that worried about it. Stand Up and Fight won this race in 2018, but for me he certainly needs a test of stamina now and he struggled to get involved in this contest last year when a keeping on 4th behind Billaway. On The Sod is a stablemate of the favourite, but his hunter chase efforts away from Downpatrick have left a bit to be desired on the whole and to me he is likely to set the race up for Vaucelet. The main danger might end up being Gordon Elliott's Its All Guesswork who seems in much better form this season than last, judged on his two pointing runs. First off he beat a good horse in Solomn Grundy by 15l and then he unseated last time at 3 out when still going well out in front. If he brings that form to this contest then he is a possible winner and it is no surprise that he has been backed this morning. David Christie has a 3rd runner in Some Man who also would be in with a chance of hitting the frame. These are unofficial tips and wont be included in the season stats, but I do think Vaucelet is a fair price at 7/4 as I think he should be around 5/4. Its All Guesswork has been well backed but I will be having a saver on him.
  11. I think it is going to be hard to be bullish about anything whilst Covid is disrupting football so much. I'm hoping that clubs are more likely to get out of league games than they were FA Trophy matches as there were some teams who kept Covid issues very quiet with Enfield only managed two subs against Eastleigh for example. The other issue we are going to have is that training will have been disrupted with those who have had Covid regardless of how ill they were. I have 8 bets over Sunday and Monday. Aldershot v Woking I'm always slightly wary of getting involved in a derby match especially one that is as big as this, but Woking have been off the boil for a while now and they couldn't even beat an understrength Yeovil side in the FA Trophy last week. Aldershot meanwhile have won 4 out of their last 5 in the league and although they were a bit fortunate to overcome Kingstonian in the Trophy last week it did at least keep the good run going. There isn't a huge amount in the price but I think there is enough to warrant a bet on the home side. Torquay v Yeovil I still don't really know how Torquay managed to beat Stockport in their last league game, but what I will say is they do seem to have stepped up their performances against the better sides in the division. This was backed up by the fact they went to Tonbridge and lost 2-1 in the FA Trophy despite the fact the victors had a weakened team out. As mentioned above Yeovil came from a goal down to beat Woking, in the league they are unbeaten in 7 and of course they have the FA Cup 3rd Round to look forward to. They haven't always been the best side in those games, but they keep getting results and I certainly think they are too big a price here as there isn't much between these two at all. AFC Telford v Chester (National League North) Steve Watson was announced as the new Chester manager on Thursday and I think he can get 3 points in his first match in charge. For me they are a better side than their hosts on paper and Telford haven't really improved for their new manager. They had a very winnable game at home to Guiesley on Tuesday and yet they were pretty poor in a 1-0 defeat. I'd make Chester slight favourites here so there is value in the price. Curzon Ashton v Southport (National League North) To be fair to the home side they are proving hard to beat having drawn 5 of their last 9 league games, but they have only won once in that spell, although it was against Fylde. As I wrote on Tuesday ahead of the called off game against Kettering, Southport are flying at the moment and although not as big value as they were on Tuesday they are value again to pick up another 3 points. Chelmsford v Braintree (National League South) An Essex derby between two of the poorer sides in the division, but there are certainly more signs of life in the away side at the moment and I don't see why they are such a big price. No league wins in 9 now for the home side and they have only managed to draw against two other sides around them in the table, Tonbridge and Billericay, in their last 2 games. Braintree have only lost to Havant in their last 4 league games, managing a win against Tonbridge and two draws in the time. I suspect it will probably be a game low on quality, but Braintree should certainly be much closer to Chelmsford in the betting and hopefully they can edge it for us. Horsham v Lewes (Isthmian Premier) The Horsham manager is one of the bosses to have come out and said how badly Covid has affected his side, but they want to play the games as they are desperate for the season not to be null and voided which is completely understandable. He mentioned he might be able to have a training session on Thursday, but that would only have 6 or 7 players and the players haven't kicked a ball since they played a County Cup game against Hastings on the 14th. As good form as they are in that is hardly ideal going into a tough game against a good side. Lewes can throw in the odd stinker as mentioned in the preview below, but they are a side who should end up in the play-offs and they hold the advantage here for me given Horsham's issues. Potters Bar v Hornchurch (Isthmian Premier) Hornchurch have been in good form in recent weeks having lost just two of their last 8 league games. They were against Worthing and Enfield as well so two of the toughest games in the division. They have crept into the play-off picture and I think they will have too much for their hosts who have mainly struggled of late. Potters Bar did manage to beat Lewes 5-1 recently although that was a game to forget for their opponents and I think their other 3 of their last 4 games shows where they are actually at right now. They lost those 3 games and in their last 2 they have conceded 4 both times. One of those defeats was to bottom side Leatherhead as well so it is the away side who are value to win this. Wimborne v Salisbury (Southern Premier South) Another example of how hard it is at the moment to fully know what is happening at each club is the fact the Salisbury, who of course was one of the bets last week, only had 12 available players for the game against Poole. The fact they led twice and then drew 2-2 is of great credit, but I also think it shows how Poole aren't in a strong position at the moment. Wimborne did us a huge favourite on the other-hand last week when they beat Gosport and it showed how much they are improving at the moment. This is potentially a tricker game for them, but the bookies have not surprisingly not caught up with the fact that Wimborne have strengthened and they are worth backing again for me. Aldershot 1pt @ 6/4 with Ladbrokes and Coral (take up to 5/4) Yeovil 1pt @ 13/5 with Bet365 (take up to 15/8) Chester 1pt @ 8/5 with Betfred (take up to 11/8) Southport 1pt @ 2/1 with William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 6/4) Braintree 1pt @ 9/4 with William Hill (take up to 7/4) Lewes 1pt @ 7/5 with William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfair and Bet365 (take up to 11/8) Hornchurch 1pt @ 5/4 with William Hill and Bet365 Wimborne 1pt @ 21/10 with Paddy Power and Betfair
  12. These are the 3 of my original tips that still offer value. I too am on Chorley although they are marginal value now. Eastleigh v Aldershot On the face of it Aldershot look in good form, but I think a lot of that is down to the fact they have had the right fixtures to see them get points on the board. Their xG hasn't been overly impressive despite the fact they have won 3 and drawn 1 of their last 4 games and I think they face their toughest test of this run of fixtures. They blew a 2 goal lead against Altrincham last week and Eastleigh's home form has been very impressive with them winning 5 times and losing just once. The loss came in their opening home game of the season as well and they beat Notts County in their last home game. They also went to Dagenham and won in their last fixture. The slight concern is they haven't played since the 23rd November so they maybe a bit rusty, but that is factored into the price for me and they look a solid bet. Yeovil v Barnet A good win for Yeovil in the FA Cup last week over Stevenage which continued their strong run of form. They haven't lost in 7 league games now, but they have had a bit of fortune in that time and they did only draw against Dover recently. Barnet have done us a couple of good favours in the last few weeks and they look a big price to me here. They have deserved their last 3 wins over Torquay, Woking and Maidenhead and as I have mentioned Dean Brennan has transformed the sides fortunes. It's still a mystery as to why he hasn't been given the job on a full time basis. They are more than capable of picking up another 3 points here. Double I am really keen on both Notts County and Stockport County winning on Saturday so I am going to stick them both in a double. Notts County host Southend and they still look way off the pace. Their xG in the win over Altrincham was only 0.49 and Maidenhead had a slightly higher one than them in the draw on Tuesday night. They were pretty poor in the 2nd half and I think they are going to really struggle to get anything from a trip to Meadow Lane. Stockport meanwhile travel to Torquay and if Stockport continue to play as they have been then they will gain another 3 points. They were unlucky to lose to Rotherham in the FA Cup last week and they just look a different side under Challinor. They are creating plenty of chances and scoring goals and Torquay are just nowhere near the levels that they were at last season. They did deserve to beat Weymouth last week, but they have been struggling against the better sides in the division and Stockport are certainly one of those. Eastleigh 2pts @ 6/5 with William Hill (take up to 5/6) Barnet 1pt @ 5/2 with BetVictor (take up to 2/1) Notts County/Stockport County 2.5pts double @ 2.4/1 with Bet365 and Betfred (take up to 15/8)
  13. Dulwich Hamlet v Ebbsfleet 4th play 3rd here and I just can't have Dulwich as such big outsiders especially at home. Dulwich have only lost two of their last 10 and played well in a draw against Havant on Wednesday night. Ebbsfleet won 6 on the bounce, but have lost their last two in the league to Maidstone and Oxford City. I'd make Ebbsfleet marginal favourites still, but Dulwich are very much over priced in my view. Kettering v Boston Boston's away form in the league has been pretty awful, but they managed to win at Brackley in the FA Trophy last week which was a good effort and I am going to give them a chance of beating a Kettering side who have been woeful in their last 2 games. Gloucester beat them easily 3-0 in the Trophy last Saturday and then Hereford beat them by the same score line in the league on Tuesday night. Boston have the better team and I think they should be a bit shorter in the betting. Biggleswade v Alvechurch Alvechurch are having a great season and have only lost once in their last 10 league games. Last week they beat Peterborough Sports 1-0 and then on Tuesday night they thumped Stourbridge 5-1. They look true play-off contenders and they should be able to pick up another 3 points here. Biggleswade are a solid mid-table side, but they have only won once in their last 7 and I would have the away side shorter in the betting. Dulwich Hamet 1pt @ 5/2 with Bet365 and William Hill (take up to 15/8) Boston 1pt @ 13/8 with Skybet, Paddy Power and Betfair (take up to 5/4) Alvechurch 3pts @ 7/5 with Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair and William Hill (take up to 11/10)
  14. Salford v Chesterfield Salford have done well in the league since they beat Dagenham in the previous round, but they were really lucky to beat Dagenham that night as Dagenham were the better side. That gives me hope that Chesterfield can beat their hosts on Sunday teatime. We all know how well Tshimanga is doing and if Dagenham had him in their side I think they would have beaten Salford as they lacked that clinical finisher. He could easily be the difference here and I just don't think the prices should be as far apart as they are. Chesterfield 1pt @ 16/5 with Bet365
  15. Yeah I had tipped Halifax but the price had gone to put it up on here. They were very unlucky to lose to Wrexham on Tuesday and I have no idea how Wild has not been taken by a Football League side because I would say he is the best manager in the league at the moment.
  16. I didn't have time to write any previews today but a couple of my picks are still value. Bromley 1pt to beat Wrexham @ 11/4 with Betfred (take up to 2/1) Boreham Wood 1pt to beat Grimsby @ 23/10 with Skybet, William Hill, BetVictor and Betfred (take up to 15/8)
  17. I am going to add a couple of ante-post bets to the portfolio. Only Bet365 and Hills have Step 3 priced up so this are only available if you can get on with them. First of all as I mention above Hayes look set to win the Southern Premier South title and 365 still have them at 6/4 (11/10 with Hills). I think that price is too big and they ought to be odds on already. We already have Farnborough covered so hopefully they can pick up some place money, but backing Hayes now ought to cover the other bets. The other bet comes in the Southern Premier Central. To me this looks a 3 horse race with Coalville, Peterborough Sports and Banbury looking a step above the rest. We already have the first two covered so I am going to add Banbury whose price of 8/1 with Bet365 (7/1 with Hills 1/5 odds) makes little sense. They have played 13 league games and have won 11, drawn twice and obviously haven't been beaten yet. They are 1 point behind Sports who have played 14 games and 4 points behind leaders Coalville who have played 16 games. I just don't see how they can be available to back at an e/w price still and this comes after a great 4-0 win at Tamworth on Tuesday night. Coalville are 5/2 and Sports are 6/5 and in my view they should be around 5/2 as well. It would take a monumental drop off in form for them not to finish in the top 3 and at the very least the e/w part of the bet should show a profit. Hayes & Yeading 2pts @ 6/4 with Bet365 Banbury 1pt e/w @ 8/1 with Bet365
  18. There was nothing that I fancied strongly enough in the games. I backed Stockport in the first game, but they were lucky to get a draw as Bolton outplayed them so they are probably slightly over priced. Like I say though I don't fancy them enough to get involved.
  19. Just to say that the Aussie season starts on August 1st and what you will usually find is that horses will run in the Spring and then again in the Autumn. So for example Warning has run just 3 times this prep. I don't have anything myself, but we should see Nature Strip hack up in the Sprint Classic and it will be interesting what Zaaki does in Mackinnon after he had to be scratched on the morning of the Cox Plate.
  20. AFC Sudbury v Colchester (Friday night BBC2) Colchester's recent record in the FA Cup is shocking as they haven't won a game in the competition for 5 seasons. Last year they were dumped out by Marine on penalties which was a fully deserved victory for the Step 4 side and I think there is a chance another Step 4 team could beat them here. Sudbury have only lost once in the league this season and although they lost 3-0 in the FA Trophy last weekend you can forgive them that given the importance of this game. Colchester aren't exactly doing well in the league either having won just 2 of their last 9 league matches. They did win last week although that was against bottom side Scunthorpe and I don't think they will fancy this at all especially given their recent FA Cup record. Hayes & Yeading v Sutton Hayes are having an incredible season so far having won 9 of their 10 league games whilst drawing the other. They have scored 29 goals and conceded just 7 which is seriously impressive. They are still in the FA Trophy and the League Cup so they haven't lost in any competition yet. Obviously this is their toughest test to date, but they also have a good recent FA Cup record and pushed Carlisle very close in the 1st round last season. Sutton are having a solid 1st season in the Football League, but they have lost 3 of their last 4 and the one victory was against bottom side Scunthorpe. Hayes are capable of causing an upset here. Lincoln v Bowers & Pitsea It was a big surprise when Bowers & Pitsea managed to beat Aldershot to get through to the 1st Round as although Aldershot are not having a good season, neither are Bowers and they are 2 leagues below them. That means they are 4 steps below their hosts here and Lincoln should really win this with ease. Lincoln are in reasonable form in League 1 having only lost 1 in their last 6 and odds against them covering the -2 handicap looks well worth taking. Yate v Yeovil Yate seem to be on fire at the moment. I thought they might be vulnerable on Tuesday against Salisbury, but they ended up running out very easy 5-2 winners. In the league they are now unbeaten in 5 and they have won 4 of them. They beat Dover in the previous round and although Yeovil are better than Dover I certainly think that Yate could well cause another upset. Yeovil's form has improved although I still remain a bit unconvinced by them and I think they have benefitted more from teams underperforming rather than them being so good themselves. I wouldn't want to chase the price down too much, but there is value in the home win given the form they are in at the moment. Banbury v Barrow (ITV4 Saturday 5.15pm) I mentioned Hayes who are unbeaten in the Southern Premier League South and Banbury are the same in the Southern Premier League Central. Again like Hayes they are unbeaten in all competitions as well (even when resting a lot of players in the League Cup on Tuesday night). They got through to the 1st Round last year but blew it after losing to Canvey Island. They are a better team this time around and in front of a big crowd on TV I think they have a real chance of causing an upset. Barrow haven't won in 5 league games now and I don't think they will fancy a game like this at all. Bolton v Stockport (Sunday 3pm) Dave Challinor will be looking to make an instant impact as Stockport manager as they travel to a Bolton side who aren't in good form in the league at the moment. They have only picked up one point in their last 5 games and as I mentioned on Saturday when backing them against Dover, Stockport have got a fantastic squad that have just been underperforming. They now have the right man in charge and I can see them pushing Bolton very close here especially with the added new manager boost. Dagenham & Redbridge v Salford (Monday 7.45pm ITV4) If this game had been played prior to Dagenham's last 6 matches they would have been much shorter for this game, but that just means we are getting better value in my view. They have lost 4 of those 6 matches, but they were much better against Chesterfield on Saturday, especially in the first half. Salford have lost 5 of their 6 away games in League 2 and if Dagenham are at their best I think they will win this. FA Cup Acca There are four games where I can't see an upset happening and so I will put them into an acca. Walsall to win at Kings Lynn, Carlisle to beat Horsham, AFC Wimbledon to beat Guiesely and Shrewsbury to win at Stratford in a game which is live on ITV4 at 3pm on Sunday. It pays nearly 5/1 with Skybet, but I will use the next best with the bigger bookies of 4.4/1 with Betfair to record it. AFC Sudbury 1pt @ 7/1 with Bet365 (take up to 5/1) Hayes & Yeading 1pt @ 8/1 with Bet365 (take up to 9/2) Lincoln -2 2pts @ 5/4 with Bet365 (take up to 4/5) Yate 1pt @ 17/4 with Skybet (7/2 with Bet365) (take up to 3/1) Banbury 1pt @ 11/2 with Bet365 (take up to 100/30) Stockport 1pt @ 9/2 with William Hill (4/1 with Bet365) (take up to 11/4) Dagenham & Redbridge 1pt @ 14/5 with Bet365 (take up to 2/1) Walsall/Carlisle/AFC Wimbledon/Shrewsbury 1pt @ 3.4/1 with Betfair (4/1 with Skybet and take up to 5/2)
  21. What a race and what a superb ride and performance from a magnificent mare. She is a top class racehorse who it would be great to see come over to Europe for the arc. 3 out of the first 4 home for the preview as well so it’s been a very profitable morning. Now time for some sleep.
  22. Good morning so far. Wil John was disappointing, but had the first two in the next, the winner in the 4th, 2nd and 3rd in the 5th and the winner in the 6th. Hopefully bodes well for an hours time.
  23. I've had a look at the other races on the card leading up to the Melbourne Cup if you are staying up like I am. These are the ones I will be backing to small stakes. R1 - Mainly 2yo newcomers so skipping this one R2 - Those of you who read my Australian jumping previews might remember a horse called Wil John who I was a huge fan of over after he really impressed me winning a maiden hurdle. He is a classy horse over hurdles, but has improved his flat form as well as he won a good race at Caulfield last month. This is tougher, but I think he can win again. R3 - This is a race just for grey horses and I will cover Excelman, Naval Envoy and Address Melbourne. R4 - Lord Vladivostok, Milton Park and a small e/w bet on the outsider Hang Man. R5 - The front two against the field for me, Frankie Pinot and Blondeau. R6 - Profiteer and Super Thief in the race before the big one.
  24. Racing TV are also showing it this year.
  25. This year sees just two horses from Europe head down for the race that stops a nation although there are plenty who started their careers over here. Due to that I don't think the race is as strong as it has been in recent years, but what we might see is one of the best horses to ever win the race with Incentivise a short price favourite to land the Cup. Here are my thoughts on every runner in race and just to note that Delphi and Future Score need to be cleared by the vet before 7.30am Australian time. Twilight Payment - It is very hard to win a Melbourne Cup from the front especially when you set a really strong gallop, but Twilight Payment did just that last year. No doubt he will try and do the same thing again and you have to say that he is in good form again as he won the Irish St Leger Trial in August and was then 2nd in the race itself a month later. The problem is he now has 12 more lbs to carry and no horse his age has ever won the Melbourne Cup. Given the depth to this isn't as strong as it usually is though he has a fair chance of hitting the frame again. Incentivise - Started his career just over a year ago finishing 9th at Ipswich and then had a break until March when he finished 6th and then a well beaten 8th at Toowoomba. I think it's fair to say no one saw him as a future Melbourne Cup winner at that stage. He has since won 9 races on the bounce as he has risen through the grades in Queensland and Melbourne. It is 3 Grade 1's on the bounce as well after impressive wins in the Makybe Diva, the Turnbull and the Caulfield Cup. It really was a devastating performance at Caulfield last time and he never looked in a moments danger. I have seen it suggested that he isn't bred to stay the trip and that he is bred to stay it so who knows what to believe on that front. He certainly wasn't stopping over 1m4f at Caulfield and although this is likely to be a strongly run 2m he looks like he might well stay. The fact this isn't a strong Melbourne Cup depth wise will help him as well and I certainly think he would have won the Cox Plate last week. The fact his trainer decided to wait for this suggests he thinks he will stay as well. He is set to start the shortest price favourite since Phar Lap in 1930, but he deserves to be the price he is on form. He was only given a 4lb penalty for winning at Caulfield and I think that was generous. It is hard to see how those who finished behind him at Caulfield can reverse the form and he will ultimately be very hard to beat. Spanish Mission - The only UK trained runner in the race and the only other horse to be in single figures in the betting. There certainly isn't any question marks about his stamina having won the Yorkshire Cup in May before finishing 3rd in the Gold Cup. After that he pushed Stradivarius close in the Lonsdale Cup and he clearly has the class to run very well in this. He has a great chance of hitting the frame I think, but he will need a strong pace so it turns into more of a staying contest as for me that will be his only chance of beating the favourite. Verry Elleegant - Last year's Caulfield Cup winner and the horse who has enjoyed some great battles with Addeybb in the last couple of years. She was disappointing when only 4th to Incentivise in the Turnbull, but she bounced back to finish 3rd in the Cox Plate last week. She had to come from a long way back that day and did it round the outside compared to the front two who were on the inside. I think you could easily argue that she was the best horse in the race and that 1m2f at Moonee Valley probably wouldn't see her at her best. She was 7th in this last year, but she was finishing to great effect having been 19th 4f out and 16th 2f out. She doesn't have a great draw in 19, but you would hope that James McDonald would be able to sit closer to the pace this time around. People think she needs soft ground to be at her best, but the track was a Good 3 last year as it is likely to be this year so that doesn't worry me at all. I'm not sure she will reverse form with Incentivise, but she is better than she showed that day and I think she has a great chance of hitting the frame. Explosive Jack - Won 3 derbies earlier in the year so stamina shouldn't be an issue and he also ran OK in the Turnbull, but he was awful in the Caulfield Cup last time so it is hard to give him much of a chance here. The Chosen One - Was a very good 4th in this last year after finishing 3rd in the Caulfield Cup, but this year he was only 14th at Caulfield. Damian Lane felt that wasn't his true running though and he does seem to do better on a better surface. He was a good 2nd to Delphi in the Herbert Power the time before and it could be he didn't handle the 7 day back up. The problem I have though is he didn't quite see it out last year so I find it hard to see him improving on that run this time around. Delphi - I was very impressed with his Herbert Power win, but he was very average in the Caulfield Cup a week later. He had the same run as Incentivise as well so there was no real excuse apart from he didn't handle the 7 day back up. I fancied him at Caulfield, but can't really have him here. Ocean Billy - Landed the Auckland Cup in March and ran OK in the Caulfield Cup when running on into 9th. He probably isn't good enough to win, but we know he stays the trip and he gets the ground enjoys here which he didn't at Caulfield. An unlikely winner, but if he finished in the top 6 it wouldn't be the biggest surprise. Selino - Won the Sydney Cup earlier in the year and ran OK in the Bert Cummings when 4th behind Grand Promenade. He wasn't so good in the Caulfield Cup last time though and he's hard to fancy. Johnny Get Angry - Won the Derby here a year ago, but has basically been hopeless since. Apparently did work well with all the gear he had been running in after being well beaten in the Geelong Cup, but even so its hard to make a case for him. Knights Order - Impressively won the Brisbane Cup earlier this year and likely to be up with the pace, but he's been pretty rubbish since was easily beaten by Great House on Saturday. Persan - Was a very good 5th in this on the back of a tough prep so reason to think he might be capable of better this time around now he has been aimed at the race. The problem is he had every chance in the Caulfield Cup last time and although he was 3rd you would be hard pushed to think he could reverse the form with the winner. He does enjoy Flemington though so can see another good performance. Carif - Would be a very surprising winner although does stay the trip. Master Of Wine - 3rd in the Bart Cummings stands out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of his form and he wouldn't be for me. Pondus - 2nd in the Curragh Cup on his last start in Ireland before moving to Australia permanently having had a couple of starts last year when still with Joseph O'Brien. Ran a really solid race 1st up in the Bart Cummings when 5th, but I was a bit disappointed with him in the Moonee Valley Cup last time albeit was a messy contest. This race might suit him better though and could hit the frame. Grand Promenade - Landed the Bart Cummings last time ahead of a few of these which saw him gain entry for this. He has a very good record at this track and does have a similar profile to his stablemate Persan. The question mark though is if he will be good enough as he has never been above G3 company yet and he is usually a front runner which could be tricky from his stall. He does have the right man on top though in Kerrin McEvoy so a bold showing wouldn't surprise although I would be a bit surprised if he was good enough to win. Miami Bound - Hard to make any case for her. Port Guillaume - An example of an European who has seemingly gone backwards since moving to Australia. Was lame after the Caulfield Cup so at least had some sort of excuse for the poor effort, but he hasn't done a great deal to think he will suddenly win this. She's Ideal - Didn't run too badly in the Caulfield Cup last time when 7th as she was probably racing in the worst of the ground. Did have a good win a over 10f 3 starts back in a G3 at Randwick and was 4th in the Sydney Cup when staying on well after missing the start. I can see her running a decent enough race, but I struggle to see her being good enough. Future Score - Was purchased from the very shrewd Horse Watchers after winning at Pontefract for them back in 2018 to run in this contest. Although he didn't make to this race before this year he was done pretty well over in Australia and he looks like he has been crying out for 2m. The problem is he doesn't look as good as he was and has been no more than average in his starts so far this prep. I'd love to see him run well as I've followed him closely since his move to Australia, but he just hasn't been running well enough to make me want to back him even at a huge price. Tralee Rose - Has been in good form so far this prep and was a good winner of the Geelong Cup last time after finishing 2nd to Grand Promenade in the Bart Cummings. Her only try over 2m was in the Adelaide Cup and she was 4th at odds on, but there is every chance she had enough for that prep and needed to spelled. The Geelong Cup wasn't a strong race this year, but she only has 8-0 to carry, has a very good record at Flemington and looks to be peaking at the right time. Floating Artist - Got up to a mark of 105 in the UK when with Richard Hannon, but I do think he has improved since moving to Australia and won his first 3 races in the country. He probably really ought to be unbeaten as he hasn't been given the best of rides the last twice especially in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup last time where he just failed to get up having got no sort of run. Usually that race doesn't stack up in this, but in a weaker than usual year he could well run well with no weight at all on his back. There is a slight query about the trip, but if he has improved from his UK form, which I think he has, then that might not be a problem. Great House - Has been very busy since coming to Australia, but has carried on improving and continues to run well. He was a good 5th in the Caulfield Cup and then was well on top at the line on Saturday in the Hotham, despite the small winning margin. That was not a strong race at all and although the double has been done before and Prince Of Arran was placed after winning the contest in 2018, its never an ideal prep. I think connections only ran on Saturday to make sure they got in this and ideally they would have skipped it. Even so he looks like the trip will be ideal and he has no weight so wouldn't be a shock winner. Sir Lucan - Northern Hemisphere 3yos have a good recent record in this contest and although he wouldn't appear to be as good as those two winners he doesn't have to carry as much weight as they did. He was awful in the St Leger last time, but the ground was pretty bad that day and every chance he didn't enjoy that. The rest of his form certainly gives him a chance off a weight like this. Verdict - I have it down to 9 horses who I think are capable of running into the first 4, Twilight Payment, Incentivise, Spanish Mission, Verry Elleegant, Pondus, Tralee Rose, Floating Artist, Great House and Sir Lucan. As for the winner, quite simply if Incentivise sees out the trip then I don't see anything beating him and he has to be the main selection. I'm very surprised that Verry Elleegant seems to have been overlooked by everyone and no one seems to fancy her, but she ran a huge race last year and in the weaker renewal I think she can hit the frame. Her trainer has come out and said it is a myth she needs a wet track and I agree with him. Floating Artist could easily be coming into this looking for a 6th consecutive win and I'm pretty certain he has improved since going to Australia. He has no weight and looks a decent chance. Tralee Rose just misses out as I am going to make Sir Lucan the 4th pick. The record of 3yos from the UK and Ireland has been strong and as I mention in the preview he's not as good as the two winners, but his weight reflects that and connections have been very happy with him since he arrived in Australia. 1st Incentivise @ 2/1 with William Hill and Betfred 2nd Verry Ellegant e/w @ 16/1 with William Hill (5 places) or 14/1 with Paddy Power for 6 places 3rd Floating Artist e/w @ 12/1 with Boylesports (6 places) and same price with bookies who are 5 places 4th Sir Lucan e/w @ 20/1 with Betfred (5 places) or 16/1 with Paddy Power for 6 places NB If placing your bet with Bet365 they use Australian place terms so they are only the first 3. As per usual they do have a UK book to 4 places and it is well hidden. If you go to International on the horse racing page and then click on Tuesday the UK place terms market is there.
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