Saturday, 14 April 2018

Grand National Day 2018

I haven't got anything further to add than what I've already said in my previous posts below on the race in terms of selections.

The going is soft/heavy but nowhere near as heavy (when it should have been abandoned) when Red Marauder won. The race doesn't start until 5.15pm so the course will be drying up all day but it will still be on the softer side and those at the top of the handicap will find it tough carrying their bigger weights.

The fences may be softer but they still take some jumping and there are just as many fallers as there have always been so jumping ability is still a major priority. When the weights were published the first horse that came to my mind was Tiger Roll but he still jumps like a hurdler and although he has a lot of class it's not going to make him jump any better unless he has improved since the Cross Country chase which he won at the festival - he jumped through the last fence that day and he would'nt be able to do that here with something like The Chair if indeed he has survived that far.

There are so many views to take in and every 5 mins you hear something new that makes you think should I be backing that horse and you could go on and on and on and that is why you have to have a plan and stick to it come what may.

All that remains to say is have a good one and don't spend too much!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Aintree Festival Day 1

I haven't got too many thoughts about todays races but it's a fairly damp feeling day in the Liverpool area so the official going shouldn't be changing that much - although there is a chance of rain, in some form, from this afternoon right through until tomrorrow afternoon.

Nube Negra will carry my ew money in the 2.20 following his good run at Aintree as will Posh Trish in the bumper who likes soft and won here in October.

Onto my two main selections - Kings Socks in the 4.40 Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase over 2m which should be perfect following his very encouraging run at Cheltenham for the Pipe team and they will have learnt a lot about him there. I feel there must be some improvement to come as they could have protected his handicap mark for one of the big chases back at Cheltenham Oct/Nov.

Over the National fences for the Foxhunters at 4.05 and 22 runners go to the post so they will be cutting up the surface for later in the week. My fancy here would be Wells De Lune and I marked him down for this race after he ran at Bangor over 2m 5f in February on his first run for Mickey Bowen. Cheltenham was too far for him after he won at Ffos Las. He jumps well and leads which are good attributes to have here and his jockey knows him well so I'm expecting him at least to be placed if not win. Grand Vision is the best horse in the race and some would say that he also has the best jockey in Mr J J Codd so I wouldn't put you off backing him at 4/1 and Sam Waley Cohen has a better record than the professionals at this track so he must be thereabouts on Wonderful Charm.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Grand National 2018

Earlier in the year in February I did a blog post about my fancies for the National and provided a shortlist as follows:
Using the staying factor criteria as a starting point the ones I'm going to look at in more depth for win purposes only are Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, Vyta Du Roc, Caroles Destrier, Abolitionist, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar who all have good staying form over the required 3m 2f or more in this class of race.
Most of the ones I've chosen haven't run in the National before which is an angle that I like as they wont have formed an opinion about the course in their own head yet and are therefore more likely to run true to form.

Since that date we have lost a few of those runners as they have been pulled out for various reasons and that now leaves us with Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar. Another qualifier has emerged though in Anibale Fly.

The qualifying criteria for me is;
  • That they have been placed in a decent chase over 3m 2f or more (by that I mean something like one of the nationals or top handicaps or a grade 1 etc 
  • They have not run in the Grand National before 
  • They are aged between 8 and 11.

Another criteria I'm going to add is - days since they last ran.
24 of the last 25 winners had all run within 55 days of the race and 19 of those had run within 34 days of the race so that rules out for these purposes Minella Rocco who hasn't run for 69 days - although he has had a wind op during that time which could make him more attractive to some.

As this week has gone on the weather has thrown up plenty of rain northwards - so we can assume it will at least be soft and there could also be some heavy patches by Saturday so we have to be looking at those horses that stay and jump well in these type of conditions. The going certainly won't be as testing as when Red Marauder won when there was literally standing water on many parts of the track and only 13 were still in the race going over the Melling Road on the first circuit.

A good jockey is fine to have on your side but your selection primarily has to stay the distance and jump well for the jockey to be of any benefit come the finish.

Chase The Spud ran 49 days ago so has a lesser chance than the others above for win purposes.
Horses that ran at the Cheltenham festival are very unlikely to win here so that rules out Annibal Fly,  Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll and Final Nudge-although they may well be placed.
Vicente could in any event take up the option of the Scottish National 7 days later in which he is on a hat trick of wins as he is unlikely to get his favoured spring ground here and he's very unlikely to run in both.

So that leaves us with a shortlist of Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know and Milansbar and we need to look at those in slightly more detail:
  • SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT - 3rd in the Scottish National behind Vicente in 2016 when beaten three lengths and he is slightly better off with that runner here. Hasn't had much racing since then because of a suspensory problem and subsequent wind op. He is the only Scottish trained runner in the race and because he hadn't run for a while there is the prospect of him bouncing after his run at Newbury on 24th March when he finished 3rd. He is10 years old and has recently been purchased by Mrs David Thompson to run in the race. He has fallen once in a point to point back in 2013. He might thrive on his first run here or the whole thing may be too much to take in with little recent race experience - but he has an excellent jockey in Brian Hughes.
  • I JUST KNOW - Won the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase at Catterick over 3m 6f in January by 15 lengths putting in a relentless gallop from the front and won going away. He does just what he has to jumping wise so something unusual could catch him out but he could still be progressing. The stable have won this before with Aurora's Encore in 2013 at the rewarding odds of 66/1. I Just Know is 8 years old and is rated 145. He's been pulled up a few times but has never actually fallen.
  • MILANSBAR - He won the Betfred Classic Handicap chase at Warwick over 3m 5f on 13th January beating Cogry. An 11 years old he's run two more races since then when he was 5th in the Eider Chase over 4m and 2nd in the Midlands GrandNational over 4m 2f - so we know he stays very well. He has never fallen but has unseated once after being hampered in the Welsh National and he has pulled up a few times but not recently.
If I had to pick one of the three it would be I JUST KNOW. He could still be improving over staying distances, he's a young horse in terms of this race and his stable know what they need to win this. He was 50/1 back in February but is now only 25/1 - but that still represents great odds if he wins.

We need to keep an eye on the reserves too and they could be Road To Riches, Thunder And Roses, Delusionofgrandeur, Walk In The Mill or Vintage Clouds.
Road To Riches qualifies distance wise by his 3rd in the Gold Cup behind Coneygree in 2015 and is well handicapped off 142 here but he hasn't run for 62 days and has been out of sorts for a while it would seem.
Thunder And Roses won the Irish Grand National in 2015 and was 4th in 2017 race and has plenty of distance chase form but has fallen on his last two starts and has run in the National twice before.
Delusionofgrandeur has been 3rd in a Durham National at Sedgefield and 5th in Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and although he qualifies distance wise I'm not convinced they were good enough races to qualify on my criteria - plus he only ran 14 days ago.
Walk In The Mill hasn't run for 84 days and has not run over 3m 2f or more so fails on a couple of the criteria required by me for win purposes.
Vintage Clouds qualifies on the distance criteria by virtue of his 4th in the Welsh Grand National and he also has other big race form to his name over 3m 2f or more and he could be interesting if he were to get in the race.

Remember this is only my criteria for picking the winner you may have other thoughts or prefer to agree with someone else who has different views again. It's all a matter of opinion but generally I think things usually follow a pattern over time and that is what I am looking to do here.

I will be back on Friday afternoon with another blog post of my late thoughts for the big race.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4 - Part 1

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
This is a race I've had quite good fortune in over the years but unfortunately I'm currently only in a position to be able to watch racing.
In years gone by there used to be a famous girl singing trio called the Andrews Sisters. In the racing world we have our own equivalent of the Andrews Sisters in the talented Bridget and Gina Andrews and this years County Hurdle went to Mohaayed ridden by Bridget. Trained by Dan Skelton it became his second winner of the race in the last 3 years.
The first 6 home pulled 7 lengths clear of Brelade and the rest as they came up the hill but Mohaayed was well on top at the line as he was pulling away from Remiluc and Whiskey Sour.
Behind the front three were Chesterfield, Lagostovegas and Spiritofthegames(another Skelton runner ridden by his brother Harry). The stable may have had suspicions about the going for the winner but there were none in the staying department.
Whiskey Sour and Spiritofthegames both came with strong runs from poor positions having jumped the second last and the latter probably had more traffic problems. Chesterfield had commenced his run earlier and was better positioned turning for home.
I think the first 6 home can all be followed as the going and the sterner test obviously had a bearing on the result as it did in all races at this years festival.
Gordon Elliott ran three here and the best of the result wise was Brelade who finished 7th - he lost his right hind shoe and would have preferred better going so perhaps he is another to keep onside. Duca De Thaix was reportedly the best of the Elliott three but weakened before the last and could only finish 19th – last of the finishers.
Tigris River and Le Richebourg also both lost shoes during the race.
Handicap Ratings Update
Mohaayed -
Remiluc -
Whiskey Sour -
Chesterfield -
Lagostovegas -
Duca De Thaix

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Turning into the home straight Fabulous Saga was several lengths clear and you were thinking how far was he going to win by but he almost immediately fell into a hole and dropped away into 7th in a matter of strides-if the race had finished at the top of the straight he'd have been getting an 7lb rise in the weights but as it is he remains on the same mark – at least in the UK.
The winner Kilbricken Storm was handily placed as they went onto the second circuit and by Oscar out of a Supreme Leader mare he possessed the staying ability to pick up the lead and draw away on the run to the line. Staying on behind were the oldest horse in the race OK Corral, Santini, Ballyward and Tower Bridge with Santini and Ballyward coming from the rear on only their 3rd hurdle starts so room for further improvement over hurdles and fences.
Behind the 7th home there were 14 lengths back to the 8th so it's probably best that we concentrate on the first 7 home for future engagements and looming chasing careers.
Following the race, the Veterinary Officer reported that CHEF DES OBEAUX (FR), which was pulled up, and ENNISCOFFEY OSCAR (IRE), unplaced, both lost their right hind shoes and CHRIS'S DREAM (IRE), unplaced, MULCAHYS HILL (IRE), which was pulled up, and PAISLEY PARK (IRE), unplaced, all lost their left fore shoes.
Handicap Ratings Update
Kilbricken Storm – Up 143 to 149
OK Corral – Up 144 to 146
Santini – Remains on 150
Ballyward – Uo 142 to 143
Tower Bridge – Remains on 142
Robin Waters – Up 138 to 140
Fabulous Saga – Remains on 145

St James Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters Chase
I'm not particularly going to review this race but one interesting point concerned Foxrock who came to the attention of the stewards and their report is as follows:
The Veterinary Officer reported that a kit bag search of Alan Fleming, the trainer of FOXROCK (IRE), revealed possession of Pro-Dosa Boost Oral Paste, an electrolyte trace element replacer. The trainer, the Equine Welfare and Integrity Officer and the Veterinary Officer were interviewed. The explanation of the trainer that it was unopened and had not been used was noted. Being satisfied that the gelding had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, the Stewards allowed FOXROCK (IRE) to run and the gelding was routine tested. They further confiscated the substance, ordered that it be tested, and referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.
You may or may not remember that this Foxrock has previously courted his fair share of controversy in the past as once when in the care of Ted Walsh he lost his two front shoes at Punchestown in December 2014. This was subject to an enquiry that was later reopened and it was somewhat of a mystery as to when, where and how Foxrock had lost both his two front shoes. As a result of the enquiry Ted Walsh was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Referrals Committee.
Wells De Lune was probably over a trip too far this time having run well at Bangor earlier in the season and the Aintree foxhunter should suit him better being 5 furlongs shorter and a proper jumping test over the big obstacles. He was another to lose a shoe.

There have been more shoes lost at this years festival than at the blind mans ice rink!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Cheltenham Review Day 3

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 3

I'm sure you will have noticed by now that I'm missing out the championship races and just concentrating on Handicaps and larger field events that took place during the festival such as Novice Hurdles, Champion Bumper etc.

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
This went to a photo between, the only Novice in the field, Delta Work and Glenloe with the former just prevailing for Davy Russell in a driving finish to the line. Glenloe had been prominent throughout while Delta Work, a strong traveller, was a little further back. At the line they were two and three quarter lengths in front of the admirable Connetable who pushed the pace all the way and was still staying on at the end.
Gordon Elliott thought the winner would be well suited to Cheltenham and that Glenloe would really enjoy the going.
Taj Baddalandabad ran on well up the straight and had a little bit of traffic problems. Who Dares Wins did well to shoulder 11-6 into 5th and is due to be prepared for another crack at the Chester Cup in May.
A few others running on from the rear at the end were Prime Venture, The Mighty Don and A Great View and the latter made a juddering mistake two out and did well to keep in touch and then run on with great effect up the hill to just fail to get 5th.
Forza Milan, who pulled up, had bled from the nose and was found to be lame behind.
Hopefully it should pay to follow the highlighted horses during the remainder of the season and next.
Handicap Ratings Update
Delta Work – Up 139 to 145
Glenloe – Up 137 to 141
Connetable – Up 136 to 138
Taj Baddalanddabad – Remains on 138
Who Dares Wins – Remains on 149
Prime Venture – Down 141 to 140
The Mighty Don – Remains on 137
A Great View – Down 135 to 131

Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
The Storyteller did well to win from his weight of 11-4 here given his lack of experience as the 2nd to 9th inclusive were all weighted below 10-11 ie 8 of the bottom 9 in the handicap. He travelled well throughout and although wasn't great at the open ditches he got over them in one piece. He wandered to the right up the run in but once straightened he was well on top as they neared the line. Gordon Elliott was expecting a very good run and he got one.
The first 4 home were prominent throughout - Splash Of Ginge ran a gallant 2nd and both King's Oddysey, liked the going and the 11yo track lover Ballyalton, would have preferred better going, did well in 3rd and 4th. Ballyalton lost a shoe and he will turn 12 during next season so may be campaigned earlier.
Kings Socks was 5th home and turning for home it looked as though he could well win the manner in which he was travelling but he just failed to see out thr trip in the going. Only a 6yo it shouldn't be long before he wins for the Pipe stable as they will have learnt a bit more about him here and no doubt he will be back here in Oct/Nov next season especially if he remains on 140.
Guitar Pete stayed on tremendously well, whilst those in front were beginning to turn to jelly – as did Pougne Bobbi who liked the going and came from a good way back to finish a running on 7th.
Handicap Ratings Update
The Storyteller – Up 147 to 155
Splash Of Ginge – Up 137 to 141
King's Oddysey – Remains on 139
Ballyalton – Remains on 138
Kings Socks – Remains on 140
Guitar Pete – Remains on 139
Pougne Bobbi – Down 140 to 139

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Rideres Handicap
A decent field for this Amateur handicap chase with over two stone separating the field if you take into account West Wizards 3lb claimer. The first three home pulled 9 lengths clear of the fourth horse and up the hill it was a battle between Missed Approach and Mall Dini with the former gallantly prevailing after leading all the way. He'd had a wind operation, looked well handicapped and he was fancied to run well at the meeting having do so last year in the 4 miler. Mall Dini looked to be travelling ominously well as they turned in in first time blinkers and this habitual lover of this meeting was only just denied on this years pilgrimage to the promised land. He may now head to the Irish National in which he will have every chance. Third home was Squouateur for Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd who'd also had a wind op – the first two just outstayed him up the hill here. Back in 4th was Double Ross, 5th was Actinpieces, and running on in 6th was The Young Master under Sam Waley Cohen. Another who'd had a wind op and was coming into this favourably treated if he could find his old form but if he keeps dropping down the weights he will find it hard to get in the better races.
Further behind in 7th and 8th were two who stayed on from a long way back namely Prezzurize and West Wizard with their relatively inexperienced race jockeys compared to those who finished in front.
Marinero and Final Nudge both lost shoes during the race.
Dissapointing were Sugar Baron and Band Of Bood and Wild West Wind fell too early.
Handicap Ratings Update
Missed Approach – Up 138 to 146
Mall Dini – Up 143 to 150
Squouateur – Up 135 to 141
Double Ross – Down 143 to 139
Actinpieces – Down 145 to 143
The Young Master – Down 135 to 132
Pressurize – Down 133 to 131
West Wizard – Down 119 to 113