** Nap's Competition Result : 1st Barnsley Chop, 2nd Daisychain, 3rd Bathtime For Rupert, 4th Marmalade, KO Cup Tipsterix, Most Winners Calva Decoy**
**June Poker League Result : 1st Autogree £75, 2nd Rivrd £45, 3rd Ian309 £30**


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Everything posted by Darran

  1. They haven't shown any South African racing since they moved from being ATR to Sky. Not sure of the reason for that although it could be linked to picture quality as they didn't want to show anything that was none HD and as I look at Greyville pictures they look SD rather than HD.
  2. I was a bit surprised that they chose to front run on Sir Jack Yates in the circumstances, but Just A Par was always able to keep up with him and in the end fitness and stamina told as he was able to power away to victory. Who knows what racing we will see in the coming weeks, but the winner could have the 4m race on Cheltenham's hunter chase night as a possible target. The 2nd will no doubt come on for the run although I find it hard to see the Aintree Foxhunter happening. I'm not sure Ultragold really improved on his Taunton run and retirement looks the best plan for him.
  3. I will get round to reviewing the Foxhunter at some point in the next couple of days and I haven't had chance to watch the race back yet, but just to say the winner was very impressive and given the front 4 in the betting were the next 4 home there was no fluke about it. Hopefully the Carlisle race today isn't the last of the season. The 3 outsiders look to have little chance and although it is half interesting that Colin Tizzard has sent Ultragold all the way to Carlisle for this, in my view he is impossible to back after his really poor run at Taunton. Granted this is a weaker contest and I am guessing something was wrong given we haven't seen him since, but he's not for me. That leaves Sir Jack Yeats and Just A Par. I thought Just A Par was a fortunate at Doncaster as Captain Cattistock was just idling having been out in front for a long time. I think if he had another horse to race against that Just A Par wouldn't actually have got that close to him. On the plus side we know he stays well and having had two runs this season he has fitness on his side Those two things might be enough to win this, but I am happy to take a chance on Sir Jack Yeats being fit enough first time out. The slight concern is that he has never won first time out, but he ran a really good race first up last season in a much stronger heat than this as Shantou Flyer won and Mr Mercurial finished 2nd. He won a hunter chase at Kelso on heavy ground a couple of years ago so that isn't a concern. He ran a nice enough race when finishing at Aintree last year finishing 6th behind Top Wood. God knows what happened in the match at Fakenham, but it clearly wasn't his true running. He is still only 9 so he has youth on his side as well. For me he is the best horse in the race and for me a repeat of that 3rd at Kelso would be good enough to win this. Sir Jack Yeats 2pts @ 2/1 with everyone
  4. I think it is priced about right. Curzon are in decent form themselves although beating Chester and Kings Lynn are obviously superb results. Hard to know where the improved form has suddenly come from to be honest so I am happy to sit it out.
  5. You started yours whilst I was writing the previews which is why I started a new one and you could be right in saying we will only get one week of this.
  6. Must admit I feel under a bit of pressure as I can imagine these tips are going to be more popular than before given the circumstances. I imagine we might see some late call offs, but as it stands most of the 3 National League games and the Northern Premier League games are set to go ahead. I have 6 bets and hopefully I can help make people some money. Maidenhead v Stockport The home side are trying to get away from the relegation zone, whilst the away side are trying to get into the play-offs and it is the away side I like here. They are unbeaten in 5 games and their away form is very strong as they have lost just twice in their last 10 away fixtures and Maidenhead have lost 6 of their last 9 home games. They have also lost 4 on the bounce including when I opposed them last weekend against Boreham Wood. Stockport ought to be too strong for them and they ought to be clear favourites. Darlington v Farsely Celtic Darlington won their first game in 6 last Saturday when beating Telford, but they had drawn their previous 3 which were all solid performances. They have been strong at home pretty much all season as well having lost just 4 times and I think they are a better team than Farsely. Celtic had to go to Evesham to play my own side on Monday and blew a 1 goal lead and Gloucester aren't very good. Farsley's away form isn't great either having lost 4 of their last 5 on their travels. Overall it is just two wins in 10 and one of those was against a really bad Blyth side. The home side look a good price. Spennymoor v Hereford Got to take a chance on Hereford again at a big price given how much they are improving. I put them up last week to beat Farsely and they were impressive coming on the back of beating York 4-1. I also put them up on Tuesday when drawing 0-0 at Kettering, but there isn't too much wrong with that given the state of the home sides pitch. Spennymoor are a good side and deserve to be favourites, but they put in a bit of a dud performance last week against Altrincham and I think an improving Hereford are under-rated. Braintree v St Albans A couple of weeks ago Braintree caused a bit of a shock when beating Bath 2-0, but that is one of only 2 wins in their last 10 games and although St Albans are a point below their hosts that is mainly down to the fact Braintree had a good start to the season and St Albans a poor one and as things stand for me St Albans are the better side. They have lost their last 2 games 2-1 but those came against two of the most in form teams in the divison, Dartford and Chippenham. Prior to that they managed to beat 2nd place Havant which shows what sort of level they can reach and I think they can pick up 3 more points here. Chippenham v Wealdstone Given I have put up Chippenham a few times of late to great effect I am going to chance them to beat the league leaders here. For those who haven't seen my previous tips of Chippenham they have improved massively under former Gloucester manger Mike Cook which is no surprise to me given what he did at Gloucester last team to keep them up. They have only lost twice in their last 10 and are clearly a much improved side. There are signs Wealdstone are showing some nerves as they lost to Chelmsford, drew to Dartford and had to come from a goal down to beat Dulwich last week. This will be a tough test for them and I am happy to take a chance on the home side winning their 6th game in their last 7. Radcliffe Borough v Whitby Town You might think I have gone made putting up a team who haven't won since Boxing Day, have picked up just two points in that time and scored 7 goals. However I think there is good reason to back them here. They recently got Lee Flower in as manager and he has improved the side. They put in a really good performance last Saturday to get a 2-2 draw against a very good Nantwich team. Whitby are pretty good themselves to be fair, but they haven't won in 4 and they had a kind fixture list. They drew 3 and lost 1. The loss was to Stafford who hadn't won in 7 at the time. Granthem have only got 5 points in their last 10 games and they drew with them and one of their other draws was against Mickleover who have only 2 points in their last 5 games. This gives me hope that an improved Radcliffe can get a first win since Boxing Day. Stockport 1pt @ 8/5 with Bet365, BetVictor, Betway and William Hill Darlington 2pts @ 5/4 with Bet365, Betfred, BetVictor and William Hill Hereford 1pt @ 9/2 with Bet365 St Albans 1pt @ 19/10 with Bet365 Chippenham 1pt @ 11/5 with Bet365 Radcliffe 1pt @ 13/5 with BetVictor
  7. An hour after the Foxhunter we have a hunter chase at Fakenham where we have two horses at the head of the betting are making their hunter chase debuts for pro trainers. Ozzy Thomas is trained by Henry Oliver who went close to having a Cheltenham winner in the Kim Muir on Thursday. His brother is taking the ride which is interesting because he hasn't ridden in a race since 2011. From 2005 until 2011 he had 280 rides in points for 27 wins and had 15 rides in hunter chases without success. The horse had been entered for the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown last week, but with that race abandoned he is lining up here instead. He had two good hurdle runs at Cheltenham in November and Wetherby on Boxing Day when finishing 2nd twice and that for me the best recent form in the race. The Tourard Man is 14 now and is being ridden by Max Browne who is an amateur who works at Alan King's yard and I suspect he is running in hunter chases to give him experience as it isn't a sphere the trainer dabbles in all that often. He hasn't been seen since July 2018 and had finished 2nd off 143 in a good race at Cartmel on his penultimate start. He was placed in two Pertemps Hurdle Finals as well in 2015 and 2017. On back class he is the best horse in the race, but you can only guess at how much ability he has at 14 after 614 days off the track. If Shantou Flyer does win at Cheltenham it will be a bit of a form boost for Full Irish who was pulled up at the last behind him here last month. Either side of that he has run in points. First of all he looked as if he would come on for the run when 3rd at Ampton and then 8 days after Fakenham he ran out a nice winner at Charing. He jumped well and always looked the winner. It wasn't the strongest race in the world, but it was a step up on the run here and he does have the best rider in the race on top. If Buck Dancing was coming here on the back of the Alnwick win then I would be putting him up, but he has run really badly at Taunton and Musselburgh since then. They had wanted to run him at Cheltenham, but he got balloted out so comes here instead. 10/1 might look a big price if he does return to form, but I could forgive one bad run, but two is much harder to do. Ozzy Thomas might well win, but it is hard to think he is value at the current price. Who knows what The Tourard Man is going to be capable off, but I am always happy to oppose a 14yo coming off the back of such a long lay off. Even at 10/1 I find it hard to want to back Buck Dancing on the back of his last two runs, so I will take a chance on Full Irish. He was pretty useful himself under Rules before and the run here was clearly a blip based on what he did at Charing 8 days later. At 9/2 he looks the best bet in the race. Full Irish 1pt @ 9/2 with Bet365
  8. I refer you to the 2018 running of this race where a crap jockey with a dislocated shoulder managed to win the race in a battle.
  9. Radcliffe were much better on Saturday and their new manager has got new players in and they should continue to improve. It was enough for me not to want to back Buxton again before the game got called off.
  10. Yeah surprised to see County on the drift to be honest.
  11. A cracking Saturday with 4 winners including Buxton at a massive price. Going to be fairly brief again here as busy with Cheltenham as always this week and I have 3 bets. Just going to add one thing though and that is I have stopped putting up Marathon's prices. I have found it harder and harder to get on with them and last week it reached a new level that meant it was pointless me getting on with them anymore. To be fair I have had a very good run with them and took them for a near 5 figure sum on the final day of last season. I'm not sure how many readers were using them anyway and although they were often top price it wasn't by as much as it sometimes used to be. Not all the bookies I put up I can get on with to be fair and my BetVictor account was closed down long ago, but my guess is that people are more likely to have an account with them so I am happier to put them up if they are top price. Dagenham & Redbridge v AFC Fylde (National League) Fylde are now 10 points from safety and they have a tough game here as Dagenham are trying to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone although it is thought only 3 teams will be going down anyway.As I mentioned the other week Dagenham are much improved under Daryl McMahon which isn't a big surprise given he was taking over from Peter Taylor. They had a good away win on Saturday against an Aldershot side who had been doing pretty well of late especially at home. Dagenham's loss at Barrow the previous Saturday is there only loss in 8 league games and I think they can put another nail in Fylde's coffin on Tuesday night. Kettering v Hereford (National League North) Hereford won for us on Saturday and I think they are a big price to win against Kettering. The hosts have had a lot of games called off and their match against Gloucester on Saturday was their first in a while. They probably should have won, but it was two poor teams playing each other and Kettering are struggling a little with injuries at the moment. Hereford are clearly on the improve and are over priced to win a 3rd away game on the bounce. Biggleswade v Barwell (BetVictor Southern Premier Central) I like the away team here who were very good in beating Bromsgrove Sporting 4-1 on Saturday. They have only lost one of their last nine games now and are in much better form than their hosts who have lost 7 of their last 10. Barwell still have a chance of 6th place as well (along with plenty of others) so still have something to play for whereas Biggleswade have nothing to play for now. Dagenham 2pts @ 13/10 with William Hill Hereford 1pt @ 21/10 with Bet365 Barwell 1pt @ 13/8 with BetVictor and Bet365
  12. Was put in too short in the first place though. Think everyone was happy to take it on at the price it was and in my view the SP was more like it and the 4 fences out certainly helped things.
  13. All the front runners wanted the lead, but not surprisingly O Ceallaigh won that battle and had a fairly easy time of it in the end. He had nothing left turning for home though and finished a pretty tired 3rd. I would imagine he might need a little break after 4 quite quick runs now, but he looks one to leave alone now. I thought it was a good ride on the winner as he made sure he made his move forward early enough so he didn't end up getting too far out of his ground and he clearly didn't want to give him a hard race so won fairly cosily in the end. He is set to go to Aintree next, but his jumping round there is surely going to be a concern. He made a couple of errors again today and the 4 missed fences certainly helped especially as they come pretty quick down the back usually and that puts pressure on jumping. The wind op has clearly improved Neil The Legend massively as it was by far and away his best effort yet. If he can repeat this then he can pick up one of these I would imagine. Kerisper ran a funny race as he was under strong driving at various times and in the end he came 4th. I think Soul Kaliber didn't like not being able to lead and I would give him another chance on better ground as I am not sure he enjoyed that either. Fixe Le Kap and Chase Me ran OK up to a point and might both need better ground. That is it now until Friday where we have the big one at Cheltenham plus one at Fakenham.
  14. Final hunter chase before Cheltenham and we have an odds on favourite in Risk And Roll. He was impressive at Leicester having run a big race on his debut for new connections behind Shantou Flyer. This trip looks ideal and we know he handles testing ground after that Leicester win. Now he was value for more than the winning margin, but the form hasn't exactly worked out that well and the 2nd favourite O Ceallaigh was bang in contention when unseating. Given their running styles that day Stratford should suit O Ceallaigh much more than Risk And Roll. There are a few who like to be up there in this, but O Ceallaigh is likely to just play catch me if you can and if Risk And Roll gets as far back as he did at Leicester he might find it tricky making up the ground. To me this is a 5/2 the field race and as much as Risk And Roll might win he just looks a poor odds on shot all things considered. O Ceallaigh has run since at Ludlow when being a well beaten 2nd in the end to Dieu Vivant. Back down in trip at a sharper venue looks right up his street. Chase Me went through the pointing ranks last season and ended it by being well beaten in a couple of hunter chase which he didn't really have a chance of winning. One of them was the John Corbet Cup where he did make the running for a long way so it probably wasn't that bad a run. He reached a new personal best on his only start this season in January at Larkhill when beating Coco Live in a decent time. Now he did have soft ground form in Ireland, but he has avoided it over here so that does have to be a concern. Fixe Le Kap has a rating of 138 and he has run OK to a certain extent since going pointing for new connections. The problem is his best run was over 3m6f at Cocklebarrow behind Sausalito Sunrise and the way he ran last time in the Coronation Gold Cup at Larkhill also suggested he needs a longer trip than this nowadays. He has a chance, but I'm going to pass him over. Kerisper was way behind the favourite at Larkhill and it is hard to see the 4 outsiders having much of a chance. I can't work out why Neil The Legend is so short in the betting either. He showed little in 2 runs for Nicky Henderson last year although it was reported he had a breathing problem and he has had a wind op since. His pointing form is weak though having won just a poor maiden and being stuffed in a restricted. The wind op needs to have improved him a hell of a lot. The only other one in with a chance for me is Soul Kaliber and he is quite interesting. He won 5 out of 9 points last season and seems reasonably progressive. His only run of this season came when put into open company for the first time in the race Caid Du Berlais won. He ran well as well until late on when class and fitness told. He is likely to hold a prominent pitch so again should be suited by the track. He won his maiden on soft ground as well so hopefully should be fine on that. For me only 5 look capable of winning it and as we have an odds on favourite it means there are some big prices e/w around and Soul Kaliber is the pick of those. O Ceallaigh should be much closer to Risk And Roll in the betting for me and this does look a good chance for him to get his head in front given his running style certainly compared to the favourites so he is the win bet. As mentioned above Soul Kaliber ran well in behind Caid Du Berlias last time and also looks set to be suited by this track and he is the e/w play at 14/1. O Ceallaigh 1.5pts @ 4/1 with most bookies Soul Kaliber 0.75pts e/w @ 14/1 with most bookies
  15. Hopefully people have enjoyed my Road To The Cheltenham Foxhunter thread and it has helped keep everyone up to date with a race that always gets overlooked by the mainstream (and less mainstream) press despite the fact quite a lot of people actually are interested especially when you have well known horses like Minella Rocco and Don Poli involved. If you haven't seen and want to see my thoughts over the last 3 or so months then that thread is here This year's preview clocks in at just under 4000 words and apparently will take just under 15 minutes to read. I can't guarantee I will find the winner, but hopefully it will help guide you to what you want to back in the race. I have yet to see a more in depth preview of the race so without further or do here are my thoughts on the 31 horses remaining in this year's Cheltenham Foxhunter. Alcala - Rather unusually looks set to be Paul Nicholls' only runner in this race this year. Classy horse as his peak mark of 152 suggests and he won the Summer Plate at Market Rasen in 2017 off 142. He looked set to win on his first start since July 2018 when falling 2 out at Ludlow. He then made amends when winning the Walrus at Haydock getting the better of Wishing And Hoping despite making a bad error 2 out. After that he had to go to Fontwell to qualify for this and I don't think Angus Cheleda was overly hard on him at all given he knew he only had to finish 2nd to qualify. His trainer spoke of him having two hard races, but I find it hard to believe he had much of a race last time out. My concern about his chance is his stamina. At Ludlow they went no pace so it turned into a sprint, Haydock was over 2m6f and again they went a steady enough gallop as they did over 3m2f at Fontwell. The race he won over 3m2f in 2017 was a match. If he stays he is a player, but it is enough to put me off. Arctic Skipper - Won his first two points this season, but was a well beaten 8th at Down Royal behind Dylrow on Boxing Day. He won a 3 runner point last month, but a week later pulled up and it is hard to see him being good enough. Billaway - Willie Mullins has been talking his chances up in recent weeks and I can see why given he seems to be progressive and visually he ran out an impressive winner at Naas in January. That was his 2nd run of the season having run a nice race on his return to be 2nd at Down Royal on Boxing Day just going down a length to Dylrow. That Naas race was run at an absolute crawl though and it turned into a sprint which clearly suited him perfectly. To me that makes the form a bit suspect and I can see the 2nd reversing form with him for reasons I will state later. I certainly think he is one of the possible winners though given his profile offers more than most here, but I certainly don't think his price offers any value. Bishops Road - Thrashed a very good horse in Risk A Fine at the hunter chase meeting here in May, but the 2nd didn't handle the track or the ground that day so I wouldn't take it at face value. Bizarrely he then ran in a point 3 days later when he fell. I now wonder if they were trying to qualify him for this and get it out of the way. Instead they had to do that this season and he did so when finishing 2nd in the first hunter chase of the season at Taunton. That was behind Wishing And Hoping and he was 2nd on his seasonal return in a point back in November. For me he has a bit too find although the trip shouldn't be a concern given he used to run over further. Caid du Berlais - The first of a trio of runners for Rose Loxton and a horse I have already put up as a bet last month. As long as the ground continues to dry out I think he has a massive chance. He ran really well on soft ground when beaten less than 4L when 5th to Pacha Du Polder in 2018. He then went onto land the Punchestown Champion Hunters Chase by 21L. Last year he had a rushed prep as he picked up a minor injury and he only made his reappearance 12 days before the race. He then ran no sort of race and he was never travelling before pulling up. He then went back to Punchestown and won by an even bigger margin, 28L, than last year. This year he has had a much smoother prep as he made his seasonal return at Buckfastleigh in January and he beat Marcle Ridge by 5L which is really solid form. His trainer has mentioned she is not sure if he gets up the hill and that was the case in 2018, but if we have quicker ground on Friday I think he will. He is also 2 years older now which should help. His two Punchestown wins are two of the best pieces of form in the race and he has to go on any shortlist. Chosen Dream - Landed the Stratford Foxhunter in 2018, but was flattered by that as the ground was over watered which meant the fancied horses disappointed. He pulled up in this last year and although I am told he is really well on form it is hard to make much of a case for him Don Bersy - Won a couple of points last season, but shown better form this term for me as he beat Bishops Road in November, was 2nd to The Dellercheckout and then won by 20 at Thorpe Lodge. He then refused to race last month which is something he did in his last two starts under Rules. That has to be a big concern if you are wanting to back him, but his form doesn't look good enough anyway. His previous Rules form was all over 2m as well. Don Poli - Rare that a point to point makes the front page of the Racing Post, but he did when winning at Alnwick back in December. I think it was a good idea to send the horse to Nick Pearce to get him qualified nice and early in a couple of points. He is already a duel Festival winner having won the Martin Pipe in 2014 and then the RSA Chase the following year. In 2016 he was 3rd in the Gold Cup and he was the Lexus winner that season as well. So he clearly has plenty of back class, but the problem is he had shown any form under Rules since February 2017. He appreciated the drop in class when winning those points, but he had to be niggled in both races to keep him interested and he was made to work quite hard to win the 2nd of them. Winning a couple of small field, weak points is one thing, winning a Foxhunter is a totally different ball game though. No doubt Nick had left a bit to work on, but I wasn't impressed with what I saw at Alnwick and I think in a big field in a race that is likely to be strongly run that he will just drop himself out and not fancy it. What I will say though is if you do want to back him because he hasn't been seen since January he has been forgotten about and you are probably getting a bigger price than if he had run recently or in a hunter chase. Dunhallow Tornado - Ollie Pimlott has had a cracking start to his training career and this is a horse I really like. He looked impressive in two hunter chase wins at Catterick and Kelso 2 years ago and then found the ground too quick at Cheltenham's hunter chase night. Unfortunately he had to miss last season through injury and he returned last month at Brocklesby when getting up close home to score. That was a pleasing come back run and if it did happen to be soft/heavy on Friday I would want to be backing him. The problem is the forecast is suggesting it isn't going to be that testing and as much as he will handle it my thinking is it brings more horses into play the quicker it gets. Connections will probably be wishing this race had been on Tuesday when it was very testing and although I think he can out run his price, the drying ground is enough to stop me backing him. Dylrow - Looks an improved horse this season having beaten Mighty Stowaway on his first point start in November. He then beat Billaway at Down Royal on Boxing Day. He was then only 5th at Naas behind him the following month. That race turned into a sprint as mentioned so I do think the form is suspect, but given he was winning over 2m a year ago you would have thought that would have suited him. There is a case to say that he shouldn't really be 50/1 based on the Down Royal effort, but he wouldn't be for me. Hazel Hill - Last year's impressive winner and currently favourite to retain his crown as Salsify, On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder have done in recent years. There is no doubt he was the best hunter chaser around last season although there has to be a question mark about what sort of form he is currently in. After the Foxhunter win he came back for hunter chase night and just got the better of a great battle with Caryto Des Brosses. He was set to follow the same path to Cheltenham as he did last season, but Chaddesley Corbett was called off and that meant Warwick came too soon after his win at Sheriff Hutton. That told us little new, but it is the defeat to Minella Rocco at Wetherby which is the issue. He jumped badly to his right there something which he didn't do in this race year, but he did do here in May. My feeling is a small field might be to blame for that and with more horses around him he will jump straighter. I don't think he wants to make the running and that didn't help matters at Wetherby. The trainer said afterwards he was a bit sore so that was one excuse and I also think Derek O'Connor out rode Alex Edwards as well. I will talk more about that later, but I do think at the very least he will reverse form. The problem is he is hard to want to back at the current price because of his run last time and although I do think we will see a different horse here I would want a drift before backing him. The trainer is confident of a big showing and he could be a horse to get onside on the day because I think he will drift and then the doubt about what sort of form he is in will be factored into the price. If he is in the same form as last year then he clearly has a massive chance. It Came To Pass - Beat Billaway in a hunter chase at Cork last April and then probably would have finished a distant 2nd to Caid Du Berlais at Punchestown, but he unseated at 2 out. 10 days later he did then beat On The Fringe at Killarney. He won a hunter chase at Cork in Novemeber which was basically his seasonal debut as he unseated at the first the week before. Was a 24L 7th to Dylrow and Down Royal and was pulled up last time out. On balance his form suggests he has a fair bit to find. Law Of Gold - Was progressive last season and it ended in winning the John Corbet at Stratford in May. I didn't think it was the strongest renewal of the race especially as some fancied horses disappointed. Having said that Pink Eyed Pedro was 3rd and he has done well in handicaps since. He has had just the one start so far this season at Horseheath when running out an easy winner. That wasn't a strong race, but he could do no more win than as he did. The problem is I think he needs good ground and any soft in it is not going to help him. This is by far the best race he has ever been in as well and at 7 it could just be it comes at least a year too soon for him. Marcle Ridge - Won a very weak race here on hunter chase night and then was 2nd at Warwick. At the time it didn't look a great effort, but given Killaro Boy nearly won a huge prize at Uttoxeter in the summer then he did well finish within 9L of him. As mentioned above he was 2nd to Caid Du Berlais on his only run of the season so far. That was a solid effort, but also his form suggests he has to find a bit to hit the frame here. Minella Rocco - I suspect plenty of non hunter chase experts will be all over him on Friday and we will see plenty of at at his best he is the best horse in the race. I have already seen two TV presenters put him up as one of their best bets of the meeting which is crazy given they know little about hunter chases and you can be certain that neither will know anything about a horse like Law Of Gold for example. Maybe he will win, but all I keep hearing about his chances is that he was 2nd in a Gold Cup and he has won at the Festival before. The problem is that was 3 and 4 years ago now and since then he has basically been pretty poor and he was even struggling to complete. His two hunter chase wins this season were only his 2nd and 3rd wins over fences and I think he was fortunate to win those. At Warwick he benefited from Maxwell getting cramp on Bob And Co and then looked like getting beat by a horse could Kashmir Peak who has been beaten in a weak hunter chase and a weak point since. Derek O'Connor came over for the ride at Wetherby and he gave him a very clever ride to win the race and the chances are Hazel Hill ran below form. Derek kept him wide on the better ground and left it late to pounce. Reading between the lines of what Derek has written in his column in the Racing Post I don't think he fancies his chances at all and it was no surprise to me that he has said he will be riding Staker Wallace on the preview circuit. If the ground dried out a lot then I can see he will change to Minella Rocco as Staker Wallace needs cut in the ground. In my view he will get back into a bigger field at a strong pace and decide he doesn't fancy it again. I'd be tempted to place lay him on the day if he's a short enough price. Horses of his sort of profile rarely win the race nowadays and it will be a case of non hunter chase experts 1 hunter chase experts 0 if he does go and win (as was the case when Pacha Du Polder first won the race). Update: Since writing the above Derek O'Connor has surprised everyone by going with Minella Rocco over Staker Wallace. For me this could mean 3 things. 1 he things the ground is going to dry out too much for Staker Wallace and/or Minella Rocco has been working the house down at Jonjo's and he has had to go with him and/or he things the Irish horses aren't as good as the British. Now Derek has chosen him I am not as negative on his chances as I was before, although I still personally can't back him. Mr Mercurial - Been such a consistent hunter chaser over the years and his Scottish Foxhunter win was his 9th hunter chase success. I don't think he stays this far round a track like Cheltenham and he was 12th in this back in 2016 and was the same position at Aintree last year. Will run his race, but will be surprised if he is good enough to get close. Rewritetherules - Sprung onto the hunter chase scene in May last year when winning at Down Royal and Tipperary in the space of 3 days. His next run was in a handicap where he was only 6th off 116. This season he beat a useful enough field first up and then struggled to win a weak race last month. On the face of it that was a very poor effort, but the trainer said he had a stone bruise the week before and the owners were keen to run as it was their local meeting. His jockey said he got there too soon and he idled as well. So we should be expecting more here and he is progressive, but he is only 6 and you have to be very good to win this race as young as that. I am happy to pass him over. Sausalito Sunrise - Beat Ravished at Hexham last April in a hunter chase when with his former connections, but then was very disappointing at Worcester. Won the Lord Ashton Of Hyde's Cup at Cocklebarrow over 3m6f on his only start for his new connections. That was a decent enough effort, but nowhere near the level for this. Shantou Flyer - Ran a huge race to be 2nd in the race last year especially as he had to run twice in 10 days to qualify for the race after being 5th at Warwick behind Hazel Hill on his first hunter chase start. He narrowed that gap to 4L in this contest. He is now at former Paul Nicholls worker Rose Loxton's yard and he made a winning return at Larkhill in a race which has actually worked out very well. Given he was below par on his seasonal return last season I fully expect him to carry on improving and he was totally dominate at Fakenham where he had Tully Touch 25L back in 3rd and giving him 11lbs whereas Law Of Gold only beat him 12L off level weights. It was good to see Maxwell choosing to run him over Bob And Co as I think that is the right decision. The owner/rider has even said he feels a better horse this time around. He is only 10 as well and I think he has a massive chance. Southfield Theatre - Gave Lily Bradstock a lovely spin round in the race last year when 9th although that was 48L behind Hazel Hill. Did well to win the 4m race on hunter chase night here and has won two of his three points this season. On the other he was beaten by Virak which was still a decent effort. Hard to see how he can really improve on last year's 9th though. Staker Wallace - Has been a hard horse to keep sound as since making his debut in November 2015 he has only run 6 times. In 2017 on just his 4th start and after wining a maiden point he ran a really credible 3rd to Foxrock at Leopardstown. He then had 3 years off before running a huge race to finish an 8L 2nd at Naas. Given the lay off you can upgrade the performance and he followed that up with beating a solid yardstick in a point to make sure he qualified for this. Derek has been talking him up on the preview circuit and it is clear he holds him in high regard. At this stage to me he is the main Irish hope in the race. He does need soft ground so he wouldn't want to dry out and if it did I can see Derek not riding or him even not running in the race. If Derek's name is next to his on Wednesday morning then I think he will end up going off favourite for the race. I have already put him up for this ante-post. Update: As mentioned above Minella Rocco is Derek's ride although Jamie Codd has been booked so there is still a top jockey booked, but I am surprised Derek has changed his mind. Stella Notion - Was a useful handicapper for Henry De Bromhead in Ireland and managed to win at Kelso off 137 in May 2018 for Tom George. He then went to Tom Frost's where he won two points at Larkhil before being beaten 38L by Monsieur Gibraltar at Southwell. According to the Racing Post he is now on his 3rd trainer since then having run once for Emma Clark when he was pulled up behind Hazel Hill at Sheriff Hutton in January. Now Philip Kirby trains him and I have been told that James King takes the ride which is a good jockey booking. Wouldn't be an obvious one to back, but the trainer might bring about some improvement. Top Wood - I can see Top Wood being popular e/w given his superb record in the race. He was just denied by Pacha Du Polder and Harriett Tucker two years ago and then he was 3rd to Hazel Hill last year. After that he then went and won at Aintree when he wanted it more than Burning Ambition in 2nd. He ran really well on his seasonal return when 2nd in a handicap at Ascot off 139 and he was over 15L in front of Minella Rocco. Wasn't quite as good at Haydock next time, but the ground was very testing that day. I couldn't really put anyone off wanting to back him e/w, but he is now 13 and surely he has had his best chance of actually winning the race. Kalabaloo - The only mare in the race and she was an impressive winner of the mares race on hunter chase night. Was then sent off a short price favourite for the John Corbet Cup at Stratford and was a well beaten 4th behind Law Of Gold. Has won a couple of Ladies Opens at Alnwick this season but the fact she was 1/2 and 2/5 tells you all about the quality of the opposition. My feeling is she is unlikely to be good enough, but I do think she is better than she showed at Stratford and can run a nice race. Summary - With no more rain forecast it looks like the ground is only going to get drier come race time and I would say we will be looking at good to soft all round. Ideally Staker Wallace would want it softer, but it should be OK still and even though Derek has decided not to ride, Jamie Codd has an incredible strike rate at the Festival so he is a great jockey to have still. I have to say though he is the right sort of price so I am not sure there is much value left in the price. I have no idea who will be favourite now. I would imagine Minella Rocco will be popular among the non hunter chase/pointing followers and I see Paul Kealy has tipped him up in The Weekender. Even though Derek is on him I would still be a bit surprised if he did go and win, but as I mention above I am not so strongly against him as I was. Billaway has been spoken highly by his trainer so he could be popular in the market although given how much speed he showed last time I just wonder if he wants a stamina test and I think Staker Wallace can reverse the form. Hazel Hill is touching 6/1 now and I wonder if he might drift a bit more. I might add a small cover bet on Friday if he does drift a bit more because his trainer remains confident and given he has swerved the race with Wishing And Hoping he clearly thinks he still has a massive chance despite the loss last time. That is clearly a concern, but as mentioned above there is reason to believe that he could easily bounce back here. Caid Du Berlais is the other horse I put up and he is back out to 14/1 in a couple of places now. I am topping up to make it a full point on him now especially with the extra place available. The ground should have dried up for him and I fully expect him to run more like his 2018 showing than his 2019 one. With his class I find it pretty hard to see him out of the first 5 at the very least and hopefully he can finish strongly up the hill. The main bet I am going to have though is Shantou Flyer to give David Maxwell his first win in the race. I think he has chosen the right horse over Bob And Co and he ran a really good race to finish 2nd in the race last year. He won a point which has worked out very well on his seasonal reappearance and then bolted up at Fakenham after which Maxwell said he was better than last season. If he is right then that clearly makes him a leading candidate and I think he is a big price at 9/1. Top Wood will have his fans, but I think at 13 his best chance of actually winning has gone. I know a few shrewd pointing followers are keen on Law Of Gold at a big price and I can see why up to a point as he's a progressive horse in a field where not many seem to have much of a chance. At 7 though I wonder if it is a year to early and I think he has at least 20lbs to find on form for all that he is progressive. Something usually at least places at a price, but to be honest I can't really pick one which might do so I am going to focus on the top end of the market and the proven class of Caid Du Berlais and Shantou Flyer plus the possible new star Staker Wallace. Caid Du Berlais 1pt e/w (or 0.25pts e/w if already on) @ 12/1 with Bet365 @12/1 (14s available to 3 places with Betfair) Shantou Flyer 1.5pts e/w @ 9/1 with Bet365 Already advised Caid Du Berlais 0.75pts e/w @ 14/1 Staker Wallace 0.75pts e/w @ 14/1
  16. It’s all about making a profit. There is nothing wrong with backing 2, 3 or sometimes 4 in a race if the prices allow. I was reasonably confident one of them would win but didn’t favour one over the other which is why I had the same amount on both. Obviously completely up to the individual on what they do but I certainly wouldn’t be afraid of backing more than one in a race.
  17. Great to get back to back winners Clondaw Westie running out a nice winner under a good front ride from James King. As I mentioned in the preview he looked to have his ideal conditions and we knew he was match fit and those two things combined have won the day for me. He did jump to his right at times and it got worse late on, but it didn't make a difference. I'd be wary of him following up as I suspect the form isn't going to be the strongest, but if he gets his conditions again and finds a suitable race he could add to this. Even so he has won just over £4k and it would have been hard to see him winning a handicap worth that sort of money or more so it was a good piece of placing from his trainer. It was a 1-2 for the Hills with Sir Mangan finishing 2nd. He ran well given he had been off for a while and you would hope he can build on that. More Buck's looked the winner for me turning for home as he travelled into the race very strongly, but he couldn't pick up in the ground and if Aintree is the plan then he wasn't knocked about once he couldn't win. The trainer won the Aintree Foxhunters with Dineur and he finished 2nd in this in one of his qualifying runs before his first run in the race when he was 2nd to On The Fringe. It wouldn't surprise me if he appeared in the entries for Fakenham on Friday tomorrow. Aqua Dude ran well enough, but got tired late on. Given it was nearly 3 months from his previous run there is every chance he needed this and I wouldn't be giving up on him just yet. All of them shortened up at some stage, but Bob Ford was the strangest move for me and he didn't jump great. He clearly needs further as well. Tinkers Hill Tommy unseated at the 10th and unless it was factored into the price I think I would find it hard to back him if Anna rides him again based on what I saw today. If Stratford goes ahead the next race is there on Monday. Tomorrow the 6 day decs come out for Cheltenham.
  18. Well the racing study paid off so hopefully the football can follow suit tomorrow.
  19. Thanks for that was a real rush to get it out and the racing one tonight.
  20. With Leicester off we are down to just the Welsh Foxhunter at Ffos Las and it carries decent enough prize money for the grade. It is a bit of odd race as well as none of them have completed in a hunter chase or point to point this season as those who have run in one have pulled up. More Buck's has been put in as favourite and he won the Summer Plate at Market Rasen in 2018 strangely enough beating one of today's rivals Too Many Diamonds in the process. His last win came 14 months ago at Ludlow off 133 and he's basically struggled in 10 runs since. So we don't know what sort of form he is in and after that win his jockey James Bowen got off and said he really needs that type of good ground. My guess is they want to try and qualify him for Aintree so a run in the first 3 here would rack up one of the runs needed and I just wonder if he might be ridden with that in mind, especially on this testing ground. Tinker Hill Tommy has got some very good hunter chase and pointing form to his name and I think a mark of 112 under estimates him. The last time we saw him was when he walked away with the Dunraven Bowl in 2018. That was a superb performance and it is also worth considering he has finished a close 2nd in a John Corbet as well. Three things concern me here. First of all the ground has to be a worry as he got very tired on heavy ground at Exeter when 3rd to Salubrious. I felt at the time though he paid for trying to live with the classy winner though which didn't help. The Chepstow win was on soft and it was soft on his seasonal return that season when a close 2nd to Battle Dust which was a good effort. You have to worry about Ffos Las heavy though especially with nearly two years off, which is my second worry. He has run well fresh, but the combination of a long lay off on bad ground could be tough for him. The 3rd worry is the jockey. Anna has never ridden under rules before and she has only had just over 30 rides in points for 3 wins. All that combined is enough to put me off backing him although I do like the horse and it wouldn't surprise me if he did end up being good enough. Aqua Dude has clearly had his issues over the years but he has proven to be a decent horse. Prior to his point run here in December his last run was when pulling up in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2017. He pulled up here as well, but there was enough in it for me to think he has a chance here. It was testing ground and he tried to go with Wishing And Hoping until his stamina ran out. He might also have had a little issue as well given he has been off since. This looks more his trip and he should strip fitter here so he looks a big player to me. I'm not sure if Alan and Lawney Hill have ever had a runner against each other before but they do here as Alan has Sir Mangan and Lawney has Clondaw Westie. Sir Mangan had some decent form for Dan Skelton, but he looked to be losing his form when last seen a year ago and he doesn't look like he wants testing ground either. Clondaw Westie makes more appeal. He was beaten a long way in 2nd at Leicester last time, but he was well in front of the 3rd and the winner looked well handicapped. It is interesting they are running him in a hunter chase given he now can't run in a handicap until June. The ground won't be an issue and the trip will be fine. Others have had higher rating than him in this race, but he could take advantage of the questions marks over some of the other fancied horses. Bob Ford is the only other one in with a chance according to the betting, but his form has all been over further. Granted the ground won't be an issue, but he surely needs a longer trip. Also he doesn't seem to have been in quite the same form he showed when winning at Uttoxeter on his seasonal debut in November of late. I am happy to take two against the field here in Aqua Dude and Clondaw Westie. In my view they are the two who will be suited by the nature of this race the most. Aqua Dude has the better back class and there was enough in his return run for me to think he still has a fair bit of ability, whilst Clondaw Westie does well in heavy ground and ran well enough last time. More Bucks doesn't seem to want this ground and as much as I like Tinkers Hill Tommy there are too many question marks over him to want to back him for this although I do think he has the ability to win. Aqua Dude 1pt @ 4/1 with William Hill, Betfair and Paddy Power Clondaw Westie 1pt @ 5/1 with Betfair, BetVictor and Paddy Power
  21. Hopefully the weather allows most if not all games to take place on Saturday and I have 7 bets. Fairly brief preview this week because of time. Maidenhead v Boreham Wood Nearly got paid out on Boreham Wood on Saturday and they travel to a Maidenhead side who are struggling at the moment. This should be 3 points for the away side and any odds against looks a good price. Halifax v Woking Bit of a drift on Halifax although hard to see why. I opposed Woking in their last away game at Notts County and they got their first away point in 6 games. Since then they have picked up 4 points at home, but their win against Maidenhead last week was their first in 5 games and I am not sure that says a lot. Halifax's loss at Torquay is their only league defeat in 9 games. Farsely v Hereford Quite simply if Hereford can repeat their performance in their 4-1 win at York on Tuesday they will win this. That is no guarantee but at the price I am happy to pay to find out. Maidstone v Welling Maidstone have lost 4 on the bounce now and look badly out of form. They lost 5-1 at Weymouth last weekend and Welling, who have won 5 of their last 7 look more than capable of winning this. Oxford City v Chippenham Chippenham's only loss in 5 games came against Welling and they have won the other 4. I mentioned that Mike Cook would be more than capable of getting them out of trouble and make them hard to beat as he did at Gloucester last season. They have only lost 2 of their last 9 and they look value to win at an inconsistent Oxford. Basford v Buxton Taking a flyer here as Buxton are much improved since the change of manager and although they go to 2nd in the table Basford have only won once in their last 4. With Buxton unbeaten in 6 they are worth taking a chance at a big price. Walton Casuals v Hendon It is just 2 points in their last 10 games for the home side and after losing a couple Hendon were back to form with a 3-3 draw against Taunton. They look a good price at odds against. Boreham Wood 2pts @ 5/4 with William Hill and Betway Halifax 1pt @ 7/5 with Bet365 Hereford 1pt @ 5/2 with BetVictor Welling 2pts @ 2/1 with BetVictor and Betway Chippenham 1pt @ 9/4 with BetVictor Buxton 1pt @ 6/1 with BetVictor Hendon 2.5pts @ 23/20 with BetVictor
  22. I was on with 365 myself so noticed that and it came in very handy although I wasn’t aware they did it
  23. I'm not sure I have seen a more bizarre betting market than the one we saw here. If you weren't following the moves then Wishing And Hoping drifted from 4/11 to 8/11 (and went bigger on track and on Betfair), whilst Waterloo Warrior was backed from 3/1 into 5/4. This move happened very quickly as well especially in the later stages of it. Then the fav went back into 1/2 as the 2nd fav drifted back out. I could barely believe my eyes as I was watching the betting and you had to wonder if it was too good to be true. It seems that a very large staking punter was able to manipulate the market so that they started the move on Waterloo Warrior to then force the drift on Wishing And Hoping before going large on Wishing And Hoping. It seems plausible to me given how it happened although we will never know for certain. Anyway the winner did it every bit as easy as was expected and put in a cracking round of jumping bar the 2nd last. Aintree must come on the radar now, although I think Stratford would be an even better target and maybe they might give him a little break instead before going there. If he does go to Aintree though he would be on the shortlist. When I put the preview up Absainte was around 7/1, but thanks in part to a gamble on Craggaknock and to a massive drift she went off at 18/1. That of course enhanced our forecast play and it paid £13.70 on the Tote and £10.89 on the CSF. As I mentioned in the preview connections must have been rather annoyed that Wishing And Hoping turned up as she would have bolted up without him. Hopefully she will find a winnable race before the season is out as she ran well here. Light Flicker didn't do too badly either on his first run for a while. Waterloo Warrior didn't take to it at all today although bizarrely the Racing Post analysis seemed to blame the ground even though he was 2nd in heavy ground at Leicester. He jumped poorly and was beaten from a long way out. To me it was too bad to be true. Hopefully now I have a big price winner under my belt we can kick on with the rest of the season. Ffos Las and Leicester are both due to have races on Friday as long as the weather plays ball.
  24. Apologies but I thought being National League and a repeat from Saturday it would have been fairly obvious
  25. This Catterick race was always one of the weakest hunter chases of the season, but the quality has picked up in recent years and this year it has attracted a horse who some thought could have won this year's Foxhunter. I put on Twitter when the entries came out that it was top trolling from Phil Rowley to put Wishing And Hoping in this and not the Foxhunter to those who had backed him for that. It is worth remembering that Hazel Hill ran in a hunter chase at Towcester the day before the Foxhunter in 2018 so he has previous in aiming for a lesser target with a horse who could be capable of running a big race at Cheltenham. This looks a very shrewd bit of placing and connections of the others must be very frustrated that such a good horse has ended up in this. Some people have been saying the yard's form is a worry, but given he has had 5 winners from his last 14 runners that quite frankly is garbage. He will go from the front so he will be keeping things simple and if he gets round safely I don't really see how he gets beat. Geordie and Craggaknock look unlikely to trouble for 2nd place. Light Flicker is half interesting as he was still going quite well at Cheltenham a couple of years ago when coming down at 4 out. Ironically he forced the unseat of a Rowley runner that night. He was a big price, but he was certainly out running his odds. He moved yards after that and the next season he won his maiden by 20L. There were only 3 runners and on the Cheltenham form he was always going to win that. That run was in November 2018 and he hasn't been seen since which has to be the concern. Also he tends to be up there and I can't see him being able to keep tabs on the favourite. Absainte looked progressive last season until getting beaten at 4/7 on quick ground. She then ran in the mares race at Cheltenham's hunter chase night and ran with credit to finish 3rd. She then went to Cartmel and finished 3rd again, but she never really got involved that day. Maybe it came soon enough after a tough race at Cheltenham or it was a sharp enough trip for her. she returned last month and was impressive in victory although the race wasn't overly strong she couldn't have done it any easier and connections have been targeting this race. Waterloo Warrior was certainly flattered by finishing so close to the winner at Leicester last month, but it did suggest that he need stepping up in trip as he was finishing strongly late on. He is clearly progressive as well and I would imagine connections had also ear marked this race as a likely target after that Leicester run. This should be an easy victory for Wishing And Hoping as there are no negatives. He beat a horse at Taunton who is going to run at Cheltenham and was beaten by one of the leading fancies for the race at Haydock. There is nothing near those here. I think Waterloo Warrior or Absainte will finish 2nd and there should be profit to be made by splitting stakes on both either one of those things happening. Wishing And Hoping to beat Waterloo Warrior 1pt f/c Wishing And Hoping to beat Absainte 1pt f/c