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Monday 27 March 2017

Grand National, Saturday, April 8

Definitly Red thrust himself firmly into the Grand National picture when staying on well to win the Betbright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, at Doncaster earlier this month by 14 lengths from The Last Samurai and looks worthy of support at 14/1 in the ante post market. Brian Ellison’s 8-year-old travelled and jumped well at Doncaster and, while he lacks experience of the National fences, he’ll apparently be schooled over Aintree-type fences ahead of his National bid.

The Definite Article gelding had previously been hampered and unseated rider in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, over 3 miles, at Haydock, but would have finished second to Bristol De Mai. The winner was far from disgraced in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so even that form looks much stronger than it did at the time. Like many of his rivals, Definitly Red has his stamina to prove over 4 miles 2½ furlongs, but is a progressive young horse with an excellent strike rate over fences and appeals as one of the more likely winners.

Selection: Aintree 5.15 Definitly Red to win (14/1 generally available)

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Dubai World Cup, Saturday, March 26

Triple Grade 1 winner Arrogate is officially rated 16lb superior to his nearest rivals in the Dubai World Cup (4.45) at Meydan on Saturday and correspondingly long odds on (4/11) to extend his winning sequence. However, as demonstrated by the defeat of 2/9 favourite Douvan in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the recent Cheltenham Festival, horses are not machines, so there may be some value in opposing Bob Baffert’s 4-year-old.

The son of Unbridled’s Song has yet to race outside North America and, although Baffert apparently has no qualms about the Meydan surface and is happy with the condition of his charge, there can be no guarantees that the long journey from California hasn’t taken its toll.

Move Up (66/1) made decent progress on turf last season, progressing from handicaps to win twice in Group company over 1 mile 4 furlongs. The Dubawi colt ran well on his first attempt on dirt, and in Grade 1 company, when fourth of 8, beaten 3¼ lengths, behind Long River in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 over course and distance three weeks ago. Saeed bin Suroor’s 4-year-old is entitled to improve for that run, his first since October, and may be capable of reversing the form with the winner and the second, Special Fighter, despite reopposing on identical terms.

In fact, Arrogate aside, Move Up has very little to find with anything else in the field, so the 25/1 available with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook without the favourite looks cracking value.

Selection: Move Up w/o Arrogate (25/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook)

Sunday 12 March 2017

2.10 Cheltenham, Friday, March 17

The County Hurdle, run over 2 miles 1 furlong on the New Course at Cheltenham, is usually subject to gambles a-plenty and this year’s renewal is unlikely to be any different. However, no favourite has won in the last 10 years and, with winners at 50/1, 25/1 and 20/1 three times in that period, the race is perfect for us, especially with ‘non-runner, no bet’ in operation with many leading bookmakers.

Vosne Romanee (33/1) earned himself a 13lb rise in the weights when winning at Perth in May, but showed improved form, leading on the bit at the last flight and drawing clear on the run-in to beat subsequent winner Curious Carlos by 6 lengths. The performance came on good to firm going, but Dr. Richard Newland’s 6-year-old has run well enough on good, good to soft and soft going to suggest he won’t be inconvenienced by slower underfoot conditions. The Arkan gelding takes a significant rise in class, but demonstrated his well-being by winning on the all-weather at Wolverhampton four weeks ago and is due to be ridden by Aidan Coleman, who’s 5-14 (36%) on the yard’s hurdlers in recent seasons.

Red Tornado (33/1) kept on strongly to win on his first attempt at Listed level at Market Rasen in May, but was well beaten, off an 8lb higher mark, over the same course and distance in September. He hasn’t run over hurdles since, but had a recent pipe-opener on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, has winning form on good to soft and soft going and has been dropped 2lb in the weights. It’s far too soon to be writing him off and he’s another who could go well at generous odds.

Selections: Vosne Romanee (33/1 with Betfair Sportsbook), Red Tornado (33/1 generally available)

Monday 6 March 2017

Coral Cup, Wednesday, March 15

Some of the major bookmakers – including, at the time of writing, Bet365, William Hill, Betfred, 888Sport, RaceBets, Sky Bet and Paddy Power – are now betting ‘non-runner no bet’, or NRNB, for short, on all the races at the Cheltenham Festival. That’s good news for us, because it means that we can have a dabble at long odds in arguably the most competitive race of the week, safe in the knowledge that we’ll have a run for our money or, at worst, our money back.

The one we have in mind for the aforementioned ‘dabble’ is Charlie Mann’s progressive 6-year-old Air Force One. The son of Mountain High is currently rated 140, leaving him at number 50 in the current list of entries; the safety limit for the Coral Cup is 26, so he’ll need a fair few to drop out but, at 16/1 NRNB, he looks an attractive betting proposition.

He only had to be pushed out subsequent winner The Unit in a novices’ hurdle, over 2 miles 2 furlongs, at Taunton on his penultimate start and bettered that performance when staying on well to beat Divine Spear by 1½ lengths in a Class 2 handicap hurdle over a testing 2 miles 3½ furlongs at Ascot last month. That form bears close inspection and, while an 8lb rise in the weights makes life more difficult, he may be progressive enough to cope. Bookmakers are now starting to reveal their headline offers. 'My Betting Sites' have put together this comprehensive list of all the offers available. It's worth a look!

Selection: Cheltenham 2.50 Air Force One to win (16/1 with William Hill NRNB)

Sunday 5 March 2017

When punters win big!

I'm sure it's true of every punter that they have their own story of a big win or a near miss - 'the one that got away'! Over the years I've come good by cashing in on the occasional especially big odds outsider bet that I've had my eye on. It's a great feeling to think that you've spotted an opportunity that others have missed and your horse has galloped home to victory, or your team has scored that all important goal. A great many truly 'big wins' in betting come as a result of accumulator bets, often a series of horse racing selections, or perhaps a string of football match bets.

It seems to me that the most noteworthy win of the former (horse racing selections) is the infamous Frankie Dettori's Magnificent 7. For a bit of history, the bookmakers were left reeling when Frankie managed the staggering feat of winning on all seven of his rides in ascot on September 28th 1996. As unbelievable as that achievement was a few punters had faith in Frankie and were heavily awarded as a result. One lucky punter scooped a mind boggling £500,000 with his magnificent seven bet. On the less lucky side, some punters bet on all of the selections as singles. One, a cleaner, walked away with just £19 as a result of her seven 50p wins.

Franie Detorri Magnificent 7 rides:

Wall Street – 2/1
Diffident – 12/1
Mark of Esteem – 100/30
Decorated Hero – 7/1
Fatefully – 7/4
Lochangel – 5/4
Fujiyama Crest – 2/1

Of course sometimes, single bets can also result in huge wins too. That's good news since not everyone has the guts to go with multibets. In recent memory the biggest single bet win that entered the public consciousness must surely be Leicester winning the 2015-16 Premier League at crazy odds of 5000-1. At those odds you've think someone would've bagged a cool £100,000+, though it seems that even Leicester fans had extreme doubts at the start of the season, and who can blame them. The biggest winner, Leigh Herbert, of Enderby in Leicestershire, placed £5 on his team winning a tidy £25,000. Most loses by bookmakers actually fell at around the 100-150-1 range though, when punters started to think that the seemingly impossible might have a chance of happening.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

7.30 Newcastle, Wednesday, March 1

The Betway Handicap (7.30) at Newcastle on Wednesday is a competitive, albeit fairly low grade, contest, in which it’s difficult to write off any of the 17 runners with any degree of confidence. As usual, we’ve highlighted a few we believe could belie generous starting prices.

The Hooded Claw returns from an absence of 107 days and hasn’t won since May 2014, during his first spell with Tim Easterby. However, the Dandy Man gelding has dropped down the weights and ran his best race for some time when dropped in 0-75 company for his Tapeta debut on this course in November. On that occasion he ran on to finish fourth, beaten two necks and a nose and, although no better off with the second, Dark Side Dream, may be capable of building on that effort.

Meshardal hasn’t been seen in public since September and is another who’s on a long losing run, but last won a 0-85 contest, off a mark of 85, in June 2015. Ruth Carr’s 7-year-old has troubled the judge just once in 17 starts since, but he’s ludicrously well handicapped on his best form, off a mark of 71, and the switch to Tapeta at this late stage might just rekindle his enthusiasm.

Nottinghamshire trainer Roy Bowring doesn’t have many horses, but his 6-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding Foolaad has run well on both starts over a mile on Tapeta, without really getting home, and may be ready for a return to the winners’ enclosure now that he drops back to 6 furlongs. John Egan, who’s 2-4 for the yard on the all-weather, takes over from 7lb claimer Kevin Lundie, which is another encouraging sign.

Selections: Newcastle 7.30 The Hooded Claw, Meshardal, Foolaad

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