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** 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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Bathtime For Rupert

Racing For Rupert

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As the flat season draws towards a conclusion my mind starts to drift towards the national hunt campaign and that fills me with excitement! The thrills and spills will both infuriate and delight me I'm sure but I've always thought of myself as stronger when it comes to the jumps. The flat season hasn't been incredible for me, but not too bad really and I'm hoping I can end it on a high whilst starting this up at the same time. Cheltenham kicks off today and I feel it's a good starting point, albeit with just the one selection this afternoon. Tomorrow looks great though as well as Ascot so it could be a busy period looking at the cards! My staking is 1-5pts with 1pt being a pretty standard bet now (altered my approach somewhat) and 100pts is my starting bank. First bet coming up...

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 5.05 Cheltenham - 1pt win Monbeg Dude @ 20/1 (Bet365) Competitive event, this, but Michael Scudamore's charge is relatively lightly-raced and open to improvement at the age of seven. It's difficult to assess horses coming back after a summer break but this one has twice run well enough fresh and I'm hopeful he'll put in a big effort this afternoon. Always shaping as if a chaser, he did well to win on his debut in this sphere when clear with a thriving handicapper with much more experience in the field. Following that, my selection's effort at Newbury looks very strong when beaten 1/2l in 3rd in a competitive event such as this where the front three were 15l clear of the remainder (4th won twice since). He's only 5lbs higher for that which doesn't look beyond him and a bad blunder early on in the race at the same venue when we last saw him caused him to be pulled up and he can be forgiven for that. He has a top amateur jockey on board and I like prominent racers at Cheltenham in this type of event. I fancy him to put in a good stint from near the front and hopefully see them all off.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 2.30 Cheltenham - 1pt win Havingotascoobydo @ 8/1 (Bet365) Difficult races to call in the early part of the season - especially ultra-competitive handicaps such as this but one of the horses who I'm confident will be able to put it all in this afternoon is Martin Keighley's runner. It helps when horses have a history of performing on the back of an absence and this talented runner is 2-2 when running after a break (14l and 10l being the winning margin). He's been in the frame on 10 of his 14 career starts, winning 5, with his only finish outside the top three (when not falling) coming on his hurdling debut. He's proved himself just as capable over fences, despite coming to grief twice, and this trip should suit better than the two miles he was often seen over last year. He's won over 2m5f over hurdles so there are no stamina issues and the form of his two runs here at the back end of 2011 is rock solid. He returned to hurdles for his final run of the campaign when only foiled by a punted on winner and there should be more to come at the age of 7. He returns with conditions to suit and he should be bang there once more.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.40 Cheltenham - 2pts win Balthazar King @ 10/1 (Bet365) This horse won my heart with a superb performance in the Cross Country race at the festival back in March and I simply have to keep the faith with him this afternoon as everything looks set for another big effort today. He jumped absolutely beautifully around the unconventional circuit here when last seen and his bold jumping style will come in very handy in the hustle and bustle of a big race such as this. A prominent racing style is often advantageous in such contests and it's hard to see him not putting in a very good stint at the least if he gets into a similar sort of rhythm. His form at this track is very good 22F42511P1 with an unfortunate run-out on the cross country course thrown in there for good measure. He doesn't want it too soft either so he should be content on this ground which is riding good in places and his record fresh is outstanding. When running after 90+ days off the track his form reads 121111 and has never been beaten here when running under those circumstances. He runs off the same mark as when winning when last seen, albeit on a different course, and only 3lbs higher than when running out a 3l victor this time last year. He still has plenty of zest in him yet at the age of 8 and he looks a rock solid option in this field.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 4.20 Cheltenham - 1pt win Queiros Bleu @ 33/1 (Bet365) You have to take a bit of a leap of faith if siding with Henry de Bromhead's runner in this race but the trainer is a shrewd operator and has a 20% strike rate when sending horses across to Cheltenham - an excellent stat when you consider the high quality nature of the races here normally. This horse has run here twice and ran well on both occasions but was off the track since finishing 5th in the Pertemps Final in 2011 (shaped as if wanting to step back down in trip). That was off 5lbs higher than he runs off today but it's obviously difficult to assess his wellbeing currently having only run once since (16 months off the track). The fact he was sent off at 10/1 at Killarney on his return suggests that he's still fairly well thought-of and if he simply needed that badly then he could be overpriced here. He wasn't given a hard time and made a bad mistake 5 out there and he should strip much fitter now. The trainer has stuck with him and the horse himself is still only 8 so it's not out of the question that he can resume his career at a high level. This trip seems just about spot on from what we've seen of him so far and it may be that he doesn't want very testing ground either. His two wins and his two seconds since moving from France have all come on a sound surface and I'm just hoping that he's not lost a lot of his ability - the fact his trainer brings him over for such a competitive event suggests that he hasn't and fingers crossed he can outrun his big price today.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert A good start with Balthazar King winning in ultra game fashion, and not for the first time! Great horse. Havingotascoobydo travelled well and held every chance but absolutely clouted one near the end and he didn't recover (probably best hope was a place anyway). Queiros Bleu did outrun his price but his 3rd place finish means nothing when you're on win only! +18pts on the day.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.40 Exeter - 1pt win Wynchwoods Mist @ 12/1 (SJ) Wayne Hutchinson comes to Exeter for his only ride of the day and it's a race where value can be found with the favourite far from assured to handle these testing conditions. It's 7/1 bar that runner and I fancy Graeme McPherson's 5yo to go well here with conditions in his favour. He'd like this to turn into a fairly decent stamina test but the soft ground will help in that regard and there should still be plenty to come from this young horse given this is his first run in a handicap as well. She was a shock 8l winner in a bumper on debut (good to soft) and her reappearance effort in February last year showed she's more than capable of running well fresh as she ran a very creditable 6th on the all-weather at Kempton in a good little race. She was outclassed in a listed event next time before dropping away on her hurdling debut (obvious signs of inexperience). However, her three efforts since have not been anywhere near as bad in novice contests. She stayed on over 2 miles on soft at Towcester to finish 2nd and then rallied strongly here on heavy to finish in the same position next time out. She got outpaced on quicker ground when last seen and these conditions will suit her at this track I fancy. It was always likely she'd need handicaps to get off the mark over hurdles and her mark of 102 doesn't look beyond her. It's an open race but she'll handle conditions and should be staying on at the death. Fingers crossed they go quick enough for her if she is to be held up.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 1.55 Wincanton - 1pt win Only Witness @ 12/1 (Sportingbet) The favourite may need an excellent ride to win and with my selection recently blowing away the cobwebs with a >SPIN over hurdles (only got tired late on) then I think he's got a big chance of dominating this field. There doesn't appear a huge amount of pace in here and if he can get into a good rhythm from the front then he could be tough to pass. Was on course to win when coming down late on in April and he goes well in winter. 2.50 Aintree - 2pts win Buachaill Alainn @ 9/2 (Bet365) Lovcen has to give a lot of weight away on his seasonal reappearance so for all his quality, I feel he's opposable and I'm siding with one with fitness on his side. Peter Bowen has a fine record at the track and this one has been in fine form since finding some decent ground and with his stamina stretched out. He chased home a nice type on soft ground over 2m4f before registering two wins recently and he showed he stays very well last time out. Although higher in the weights, the front two were well clear there so there can be more to come off his revised mark. The ground suits and he can continue to improve with victory this afternoon. 3.25 Aintree - 1pt win Takeroc @ 25/1 (Bet365) The price of this one is a bit concerning given he shouldn't be anywhere near this price in my book but I'll take a chance he's still got the same chance and the bookies have got it wrong on his first start for Chris Gordon. He goes especially well at Aintree and often puts in his best performances when fresh. He won this last year easily and didn't finish the season off as badly as it may have seemed (the omission of fences caught him out at Doncaster - the long run-in not suiting) and the 30l losing margin here was exaggerated due to a wide-margin win. He wasn't far behind Kid Cassidy at all that day and with this likely to be run at a good gallop (front runners in the field) he must have a better chance than a 25/1 shot.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert Only Witness looks every bit the winner turning in (1.65 in running) but was beaten into 2nd and Buachaill Alainn absolutely flew from the last having looked well held to go down by a short head. Rather gutting. Takeroc going in would make it all up though!

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 2.00 Bangor - 2pts win Greywell Boy @ 9/2 (Coral) Nick Williams' unexposed type ran a rock solid race on his first run of last season on his hurdling debut and that bodes well for today's reappearance and first run over the larger obstacles. His three runs in novice events have all worked out very well with a whole host of classy animals finishing around my selection at Chepstow and Exeter twice. He's always shaped as if chasing would suit and will be better than a rating of 110 I'm sure. Wasn't far behind a 150-rated runner, a 133-rated runner and a 119-rated runner on his final start of the last campaign and he appears at home on soft ground. Ian Williams' runners have a fine record in novice chases and this one has seen some nibbles of money for him already this morning. Plenty of improvement possible and I fancy him to take this.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 2.00 Taunton - 2pts win Green Bank @ 16/1 (Bet365) I must admit I'm surprised at the price of Charlie Longsdon's runner who shaped well last time and should relish this three-mile trip. He only showed moderate form in Irish maiden hurdles but was regularly seen plugging on into midfield over 2 miles and 2m4f and suggested that he'd firstly like handicaps and secondly a longer distance. He ran over 2m4f for his new yard at Towcester last time out and stayed on very encouragingly for 4th, despite being 12l behind the winner come the line. However, the further they went the closer he got and I think he's really going to enjoy the extra half mile on offer this afternoon. The handicapper has dropped him 4lbs and the race wasn't suitable for him either last time as they didn't go a true gallop which is something this one would enjoy (got outpaced before staying on again). If they go a true tempo over three miles this afternoon then I'm confident my selection will be running into the picture for all this is a better race. There's plenty of stamina in his jumps-bred pedigree and if he can hold a decent position through the race I think he can make a mockery of his price.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.00 Taunton - 2pts win Revani @ 7/1 (Bet365) Ruby Walsh jumps aboard Nick Williams' charge here and if improving for his seasonal reappearance I think he's got every chance of taking this 2m4f handicap hurdle. Some of his form last season is strong and points to him being fairly handicapped this afternoon. He's still relatively lightly-raced at the age of 5 and faced a baptism of fire on three novice starts when meeting Molotof, Broadbackbob and Cotton Mill on three different occasions. His effort against the latter of the three reads well (only beaten 22l and blundered the last) given that runner is rated 31lbs higher than my selection. His first run for this yard in March came after a little break and it was his handicap debut where he finished 3 1/4l behind a horse now rated 12lbs higher and my selection was entitled to come on for that. It was a similar story when running fairly well if a little bit flat at Wincanton last time out. He has no fitness issues this afternoon for the first time since going handicapping and I reckon today can be the day he proves himself better than his current mark of 114.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.30 Taunton - 2pts win Palio Square @ 5/1 (Bet365) This horse badly lost his way since leaving Ralph Beckett last year and ran next to no good races over in Ireland prior to his return to these shores when acquired by John Flint. However, the market suggested that his new trainer had got a new lease of live out of the horse when strongly supported into favouritism at Wincanton last time and although the faith wasn't totally repaid, he ran a much better race to finish 5th of 20 behind the reopposing Cruise In Style. He gets a swing in the weights today and the fact there was so much confidence behind him that day suggests there is a win in him off his current mark. The ground was arguably on the sticky side for him last time as well so the better surface is a possible aid this afternoon as is the application of first-time blinkers. If these can eek out a little bit more then he looks sure to be going close this afternoon with the yard going fairly well and a capable claiming jockey on board.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.55 Haydock - 2pts win Yesyoucan @ 6/1 (VC) Brian Ellison has a 20% strike rate with his jumpers at Haydock and this is his only runner of the day. He's been off the track for three months which is a question mark but many of these have been off for longer and the way he ran on a return from 16 months off the track last year bodes well as he only got tired late on having travelled well prior to falling. Since then he hasn't been out of the frame in three non-handicaps with the form reading well. He kept on nicely to be 3rd next time out over 2 miles on quick ground (arguably not sufficient a test) and then he stayed on well with more cut in the ground to get off the mark - beating a 115 horse and made a hash of the last. His final run before a summer break also reads well as he separated two good flat performers at Bangor (winner won again next time and rated 109 on the flat/3rd horse absolutely hacked up next time). He shapes as if 2m4f would help and a mark of 117 does not look beyond him based on his form to date. If he's fit enough I can't see him being far away at all and looks to be going the right way.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 1.30 Wetherby - 1pt win Cavite Eta @ 16/1 (Ladbrokes) There would have to be concerns over the ground with the favourite and Martin Todhunter's charge looks to have a good chance here with conditions to suit. A front-runner who goes well for Henry Brooke, he's finished 1st and a close 2nd (to a progressive type) in handicap hurdles over this trip previously. He signed off last season with an excellent 3rd in novice company when he wasn't favoured by the weights and will enjoy the return to handicap company today. He's a winner when fresh and wasn't disgraced in a novice race when returning once previously so should be fit and the trainer does pretty well with his runners here.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 2.00 Wetherby - 2pts win Gansey @ 7/1 (VC) Sue Smith's gelding is a fairly consistent type who runs into the frame regularly and has conditions today in his favour which should see a bold performance. He shaped really well on his seasonal reappearance here last month when only fading late on and should strip fitter this afternoon. He finished last season with two decent efforts off 3lbs higher but probably found the ground a little bit too lively. Six of his seven successes have come with give in the ground so should enjoy the more testing conditions here. He's dropped down to his last winning mark and should be bang there today.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 2.35 Ascot - 2pts win Its A Gimme @ 10/1 (Bet365) Progressive last year and proved himself capable of running well fresh when a close 2nd on his reappearance. That can come in handy first time up here and looks on a fair mark back at 2 miles which can prove an ideal trip for him when they go a good enough gallop. Did well to beat Baby Shine over further given he took a tug and shaped like he'd want a drop back to the minimum trip when travelling well at Aintree on his most recent start. Should go well here.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.25 Wetherby - 2pts win Time For Rupert @ 9/2 (Bet365) My favourite horse returns here and conditions suit more than when 2nd in this last year. The ground was a little too quick that day and he was done for speed by Weird Al in the end. Paul Webber reports Rupert to be more forward and ready this time around and the softer ground is a plus. He had excuses for his poor runs last year (not himself before the Betfair chase and then was lame at Cheltenham). Bounced right back with a top effort in the Gold Cup when possibly going too hard and this is easier. The favourite is short for all he was impressive at Aintree as he beat a questionable field where the 2nd had run at Cheltenham and has all of his form over shorter. Midnight Chase should ensure this isn't run at a messy tempo and that will help my selection. Will improve for the run but is capable of taking this to kick off his season.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.10 Ascot - 2pts win Alfie Spinner @ 6/1 (Bet365) Looks a good price here for all this is competitive as he's pretty consistent and classy to boot. He hasn't run in a handicap over fences yet but appears at least as good as over hurdles where he signed off off the same mark as he runs off today over the larger obstacles. He can go well fresh, relishes soft ground, and has form here when an excelent 3rd to Invictus. The ground was on the sharp side when he ran a decent race in the four-miler at Cheltenham and the return to this venue and softer ground can see him get off to life in handicap chases with a victory.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 2.15 Cork - 1pt win Bangonform @ 10/1 (Bet365) Won impressively last time out and hasn't run a bad race on his last five attempts. Has a bucket load of stamina in its pedigree and handles testing conditions no problem. Is a safe jumper usually which is important in such a big race like this with lots of fences to be jumped and ought to be there at the finish.

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Re: Jumps Time For Rupert 3.10 Carlisle - 2pts win My Boy Paddy @ 9/2 (Sportingbet) Nigel Twiston-Davies can ready one off the back of a break and this horse looks a lively contender having proved himself over the trip, on the ground and at this course as well as performing well on his reappearance before. He looked progressive last year since his chasing debut where he jumped badly but soon put that behind him to finish 3rd over this c&d (form worked out) before staying on powerfully to win at Chepstow. He shaped as if something was amiss at Aintree in a higher grade when failing to hold a position and was pulled up on ground on the quick side. Was put away after that and returns here hopefully back in form as he has his conditions and will prove better than this mark with improvement still very possible given his relative inexperience.

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