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Thursday 14 December 2017

Welsh Grand National Outsiders

The Christmas highlight at Chepstow, the Welsh National, may be run over just 3 miles 5½ furlongs, but the going at the Monmouthshire venue is almost invariably soft, or heavy, so the race presents a thorough examination for horse and rider. The fact that the roll of honour includes several Aintree Grand National and Cheltenham God Cup winners bears testament to the qualities required to win a Welsh National.

At total of 63 horses stood their ground at the latest declaration stage for this year’s renewal – due off at 2.50 p.m. on Wednesday, December 27 – but the field will be whittled down to a maximum of 20 come the big day. Obviously, it’s still early days, but we’ve cast an eye over the field and come up with a selection that we believe could represent outstanding value in the ante post market.

The horse in question is Singlefarmpayment, trained by Tom George, who can be backed at a standout 33/1 with Sky Bet, but is as short as 14/1 elsewhere. The 7-year-old is just 5lb higher in the weights than when beaten a short head in the Ultima Handicap Chase, over 3 miles 1 furlong, at the Cheltenham Festival last March and has run well on both starts this season. He was being pushed along in sixth when falling at the third last in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, at Newbury earlier this month, but what would have happened if he had remained on his feet is anybody’s guess. He’s yet to race beyond 3 miles 2 furlongs, but shapes as if he’ll stay and remains open to further improvement. Frankly, win or lose, his odds are just too long to resist!

Selection: Singlefarmpayment to win (33/1 with Sky Bet)  (27th December)

Jockey Profile: Frankie Dettori

Even those with only a passing interest in horse racing will have heard of Frankie Dettori MBE. He's considered by many to be a true legend of horse racing with a career spanning across decades. Born on 15th December, 1970, the Italian jockey has set a standard for others that is far from easy to follow. A consummate professional and entertaining personality, Dettori has been the Champion Jockey on three separate occasions and has ammassed several hundred Group Race wins. 
Career Summary
It's hard to do justice to Frankie Dettori by reeling off a simple summary of achievements, primarily because it's a very long list! But in brief, with countless wins across a stellar career, some of his major wins include the 1,000 Guineas three times, the 2,000 Guineas twice and the Ascot Gold Cup an incredible five times. Add in a Derby win in 2007, and it’s very easy to see why Dettori is so revered and respected across the board. He's won races in over 20 different countries and on 12th August 2016 had his staggering 3000th British winner, one of only 6 jockeys to do so on the flat.  An incredible competitor, he appears to have a natural feel for the horseS he's riding and the field around him. He doesn't often put a foot wrong.

Achievements & Highlights
Dettori rode all seven of the winners on the British Champions’ Day at Ascot, in 1996. Such an incredible, and still unmatched, achievement surely ranks him as one of the most consistent and impressive names within the sport of horse racing. The feat has in fact gone down in racing history as the 'magnificent seven' and is still talked of today. Several punters decided to back all of Detorri's rides that day and at combined horse racing odds of 25,095-1, it's a day where dreams came true for some (one punter alone won £500,000). The winners in order, were:  

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

Although Dettori has had his fair share of personal problems over the years, including a substance-related ban in 2012, he more than bounced back to be crowned the World’s Best Jockey in 2015. This very much speak to his character, as a determined and successful sportsman, refusing to let problems knock him off course for long. 
Major Wins – Derby (2007), 1,000 Guineas (1998, 2002, 2011) 2,000 Guineas (1996, 1999), St Leger: (1995, 1996, 2005, 2006, 2008), Ascot Gold Cup (1992, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2012)

Earnings – £14 million career earnings.

Sunday 3 December 2017

3.20 Southwell, Monday, December 4

In the Betway Casino Handicap (3.20) at Southwell on Monday, recent winning form is at a premium, but St. Patrick’s Day is 2-4 on Fibresand and may be able to improve that record, despite some uninspiring form figures. On his most recent visit to Southwell, nearly a year ago, John Jenkins’ 5-year-old finished third of 11, beaten 6½ lengths, behind Big Storm Coming in a 0-70 handicap over a mile, keeping on well in the closing stages. His more recent efforts, including over hurdles at Fakenham last month, have been less convincing, but he tackles 1 mile 3 furlongs on Fibresand for the first time off a handicap mark fully19lb lower than when last winning at Southwell as a 4-year-old. Granted that he’s beaten just one of thirty rivals on his last three starts on Tapeta and Polytrack, it goes without saying that he’s a risky betting proposition. Nevertheless, that comment applies equally to most, if not all, of his rivals and, if he’s ever to return to the winners’ enclosure, today could be the day.

Selection: Southwell 3.20 St. Patrick’s Day to win  14/1