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Thursday 20 December 2018

Welsh Grand National

The Welsh Grand National, run over 3 mile 5½ furlongs at Chepstow and due off at 2.50 p.m. on Tuesday, December 27, has a safety limit of twenty, but is invariably hotly contested. The race is often run in demanding conditions and, with the going at the Monmouthshire course already good to soft and rain forecast, another ‘war of attrition’ seems likely.

For those who fancy history repeating itself, the first four home in the 2017 renewal, Raz De Maree (25/1), Alfie Spinner (66/1), Final Nudge (25/1) and Vintage Clouds (12/1), are all among the 59 entries that stood their ground at the latest declaration stage. At the time of writing, though, Elegant Escape (8/1), trained by Colin Tizzard, heads the ante post market after finishing second, beaten 10 lengths, behind comfortable winner Sizing Tennessee in the Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup, at Newbury earlier this month.

The six-year-old has yet to win beyond 3 miles, but finished first and second on his two previous visits to Chepstow and is just 4lb worse off for the 7 lengths he beat Dingo Dollar (16/1) at Newbury. Both horses remain open to significant improvement over fences, but just three six-year-olds have won the Welsh National since 1948 so, statistically, they look up against it.

A similar comment applies to Ramses De Teillee (8/1), trained by David Pipe, who’s 3-3 over 2 miles 7½ furlongs over fences at Chepstow, including the Welsh Grand National Trial earlier this month, for which he carries just a 4lb penalty.

However, Pipe may also be represented by the nine-year-old Vieux Lion Rouge (25/1), who likewise ran an encouraging trial when second of 18, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Walk In The Mill in the Becher Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, on the National Course at Aintree earlier this month. Left with plenty to do at the fourth last, Vieux Lion Rouge closed on the winner all the way to the line and, having previously won the Grand National Trial, over 3 miles 4½ furlongs, at Haydock off today’s handicap mark of 146, makes no little appeal.

The Master of Pond House clearly holds a strong hand, with last year’s sixth, Rathlin Rose (50/1) – who, with 10st 1lb, may struggle to beat the ballot – also in the field, but, at the odds on offer, it’s hard to get away from Vieux Lion Rouge. He ran well on his sole start over hurdles at Chepstow, has distance and going to suit and appears well-handicapped, so there appears no reason why he shouldn’t go, at least, very close on his second start back following a wind operation.

Selection: Chepstow 2.50 Vieux Lion Rouge (25/1) to win

Monday 3 December 2018

3.10 Lingfield, Wednesday, December 5

As might be expected, in a 0-60 amateur riders’ handicap, worth less than £3,000 to the winner, recent winning form in the Betway Stayers’ Amateur Riders’ Handicap (3.10) at Lingfield on Wednesday is in short supply. However, one horse who appears to have brighter prospects than most is Evan Williams’ 4-year-old gelding, Knab Rock, due to be ridden by his daughter Isabel.

The son of Mastercraftsman didn’t see a racecourse until August, when finishing third of six, beaten 8 lengths, behind Dorette in a ‘bumper’, over 2 miles 1 furlongs at Newton Abbott. He failed to make much of an impact in three novice stakes races – including two over a woefully inadequate 7½ furlongs – at Ffos Las and Chepstow in September but, after a 52-day break, ran with much more promise on his handicap debut, over course and distance, 15 days ago.

Ridden by Shane Kelly on that occasion, Knab Rock was held up in the last pair and, when asked for an effort inside the final quarter of a mile, kept on to finish fifth of 10, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind the gambled-on Lumen. Despite failing to trouble the judge, he was, nevertheless, closing on the winner at the finish and, after just four starts on the level, may be capable of better yet.

He’s clearly no world-beater, but he’s been dropped 2lb in the weights for his latest effort so, with Isabel Williams capable of riding at 9st 8lb – and, therefore, able to claim her full 3lb allowance – he must surely have a decent chance of winning an ordinary race, in which his rivals are fully exposed as moderate, at best.

Selection: Lingfield 3.10 Knab Rock to win 14-1

Sunday 4 November 2018

John P. McManus - Owner Profile

J P McManus is a shrewd business man and race horse owner from Ireland. A varied early career which started with working in the family construction firm, moved into becoming an on course bookmaker, and then eventually to owning racehorses. This latter goal was aided in the early days (1982) by the purchase of the 400 acres Martinstown Stud.

Fast forwrad to today and J P McmManus has 100+ horses in training. Some stand outs over time include Ista braq (three time Champion Hurdle winner), 'Don't Push It' who, ridden by champion jockey Tony McCoy, won the Grand National in 2010, and Synchronised who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012. Champion jockey Tony McCoy was stable jockey for much of his career, and since his retirement Barry Geraghty, who himself has 1000+ wins, took over that role.

McManus has never lost his passion for racing and when he has a target in his sights he pours everything into it. In August of this year, he launched an unheard of eleven pronged attack on  the Guinness Galway Hurdle, which he hoped to win for the third time. With just 20 horses in the race he certainly gave himself a good chance of winning with his 11 entries split across 5 trainers. Unfortunately for him it wasn't to be as Willie Mullins' 12-1 shot Sharjah bagged the win. It's certainly an example of his desire to win though, perhaps to an almost comical extent.

His success in racing and other areas of business has allowed McManus to really branch out in terms of both lifestyle and ventures. He spent a stunning 150 million euros on building a house in Barbados and also owned 28.89% of Manchester United at one stage with his business partner John Magnier. They sold their stake to Malcolm Glazier, a decision they're probably quite happy with nowadays considering the recent form of Manchester United. His estimated net worth is some 4 billion euros. Can I borrow a fiver?

Thursday 4 October 2018

Music To My Ears!

Dust off the Vinyls out of the garage, I'm looking for my horse to glide to a sophisticated win!

Sunday 26 August 2018

Horse Profile: Golden Miller


The world of horse racing is full of legendary names, and few are more classic and legendary than the fantastically famous Golden Miller. As regal as the name suggests, this incredible Irish-bred racehorse is one of the most famous of its generation by far. The most famous racehorse at the Cheltenham Gold Cup of all-time, winning it five years in a row from 1932-36!
Such feats alone, though, were not the only reason that Golden Miller gathered such love and attention. It’s also the only horse in history to win the premier steeplechase races – the Gold Cup and the Grand National – in a single year. Doing so in 1934, this horse set a precedent that even with all the science and assistance given to horses today we cannot replicate. 
Career Summary

Bred by Laurence Geraghty, it was sired by Goldcourt, and was part of a successful line of horses. Trained by Basil Briscoe and owned by Dorothy Paget, Miller soon became a horse of genuine repute in 1931 when it made its debut. Coming first at the Newbury Racecourse, it was sadly disqualified due to weight-based discrepancies.

The first Gold Cup visit, in 1933, ended in failure as it fell at the Canal Turn despite being the favourite. By 1934, it had won its first of five Grad Nationals and also added to the two Gold Cups won. It set a course record in 1934 at the Grand National for a course time, with a time of 9m20.4s at Aintree!

By 1939, it had retired with a stellar record of 29 wins from 52 races. 
Achievements & Highlights

Wins – Cheltenham Gold Cup (1932-1936), Grand National (1934).

Associations – Laurence Geraghty, Basil Briscoe, Dorothy Paget, Owen Anthony. 

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Horse Profile: Badsworth Boy


An apt name for a tough old horse, Badsworth Boy was a powerful and well-respected British thoroughbred. Having been a popular name in local horse racing circuits, Badsworth Boy went on to claim an incredible Queen Mother Championship Chase hat-trick. This occurred from 1983 until 1985, with three incredible wins that put it as one of the most respected and beloved horses in the country.

Impressively, it all occurred under the tutelage of the one family – the Dickinson family. Michael, Tony and Monica all trained the horse when their chance came along. Indeed, their combined teamwork must have done the job – Badsworth Boy was the 12th horse of all-time in jumping history to claim more than £100,000 in money earned.

While that sounds paltry today, compared to the times then it was an incredible experience. 
Career Summary

Badsworth Boy won eight of its eighteen races on the faces. Known for being electric yet somewhat erratic, it’s rapid jumping style could put BB in a bit of trouble at times. It’s three major career wins, though, are some of the most impressive in QMCC history. It won it’s first by claiming massive victories over the likes of Artifice and Rathgorman, who were all favourites over the hat-trick winner.

In 1984, it’s second, it won with more than tenth lengths to spare over the impressive Little Bay. By 1985, it won the hat-trick of wins by defeating Far Bridge by a similarly dominant margin. Sadly, this was to be the second last win of a brief career, with an 87 Winner’s Circle trip being his last. 
Achievements & Highlights

The horse gathered an incredible hat-trick, putting it up there within the pantheon of great horses which are sure to be admired. Sadly, the horse died in 2002 after suffering a heart attack at the age of 27. Long gone now, the horse will always be remembered as a fleeting but important part of horse racing. 
Wins – Queen Mother Champion Chase 1983, 1984, 1985.

Associations – The Dickinson Family, Doug Armitage, Maurice Gibson and Ronald Howe.

Monday 16 July 2018

How to Pick a Winner

This is the $64,000 question in the sport of horse racing. Unsurprisingly, there’s no easy answer, but the most practical method of assessing horses’ chances of winning races is by reading the form book. Available online, or in the “Racing Post” – Britain’s only daily racing newspaper – the form book contains all you need to know about the public performance of a racehorse, its pedigree, the length of time since it last ran and much more besides. Unfortunately, even with all this information at your fingertips, you’re not guaranteed to pick a winner, but at least you’ll be in a position to make an informed decision.

Reading and assessing horse racing form requires some time and effort, but there are one or two shortcuts you can take to make the process less arduous. Tom Segal, a.k.a. Pricewise in the Racing Post, apparently takes no more than 20 minutes to assess major handicaps, such as the Wokingham Stakes and the Stewards’ Cup, so try to take a leaf out of his book.

Notwithstanding Tom Segal, the fact remains that roughly two-thirds of all horse races in Britain are won by one of the first three in the betting, so it would appear to make sense to focus on that segment of the market. Horses cannot be maintained at peak fitness indefinitely; they are trained gradually to peak fitness, where they remain for a short period, before being let down again. National Hunt horses are typically more robust than their Flat counterparts in this respect but, as a rule of thumb, avoid horses that have been off the course for 42 days – or, in other words, six weeks – or more. What you’re looking for, ideally, is a horse that is seeking to achieve nothing, or only a little, more than it has achieved in the past.

Of course, the form book is just one way of comparing the performance of one racehorse with another. Others include speed ratings – that is, numerical figures, usually in Imperial pounds, which indicate the ability of a horse – such as those published. However, once you discover a method that suits you, stick with it; losers are an inevitable part of betting on horse racing, but are easier to cope with if you know your underlying philosophy is sound.

Sunday 17 June 2018

4.10 Ayr, Monday, June 18

In the Ayr Cancer Support James Bond Ball Handicap (4.10) at the South Ayrshire course on Monday, Saint Equiano has recorded his best form with some cut in the ground, so a drop of rain wouldn’t hurt. However, Keith Dalgleish’s 4-year-old ran well enough over course and distance, on the prevailing good to firm going, two weeks ago to suggest that his turn isn’t far away. On that occasion, he finished fourth of 11, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind Luiz Vaz De Torres, with Proud Archi just a short head further behind in fifth.

The latter, who’s just 1lb higher in the weights than when winning at Beverley and Thirsk last season, looks dangerous again but, with Graham Lee taking over from apprentice Rowan Scott, Saint Equiano can confirm the form on the same terms. The Equiano gelding is, in fact, 3lb lower in the weights than when winning a similar race at Carlisle last July and, after two runs this season, should be cherry-ripe to take advantage of a favourable handicap mark.

Keith Dalgleish doesn’t make life any easier for punters by also saddling War Department, who’s absolutely thrown in on his winning form at Newcastle last June, but has shown next to nothing since. The 5-year-old has won just once on turf, though – on his debut for William Haggas three years ago – and has beaten just six of 38 rivals on his last three starts in that sphere; it’s probably safe to say that Saint Equiano is the stable pick, on form and jockey bookings and, if not, I hope the Ayr stewards have a good long chat with the South Lanarkshire trainer.

Selection: Ayr 4.10 Saint Equiano to win

Friday 25 May 2018

4.10 Curragh, Sunday, May 27

The highlight of Sunday’s action at the Curragh is, of course, the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas (4.10), in which Aidan O’Brien saddles four, including the ante post market leader, Happily. The Master of Ballydoyle has already won the Curragh Classic seven times and must be feared, but one that could give us a run for our money is Who’s Steph, who’s available at 10/1 in the ante post price lists.

Ger Lyons’ Zoffany filly proved her effectiveness on top of the ground when keeping on well to win the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown two weeks ago, accounting for Algabragh and Chia Luna in the process, and could conceivably improve again for this stiffer test of stamina. She’s needs to, because she’s officially rated 9lb inferior to Happily and 11lb inferior to Clemmie but, having already won on good, yielding and heavy going, she should run her race whatever the weather in Dublin between now and Sunday afternoon and looks a shade overpriced.

Her performance at Leopardstown clearly impressed leading owner George Strawbridge, who stepped in to purchase her afterwards and paid €30,000 to supplement her for this race. She looks a sporting wager at the odds on offer.

Selection: Curragh 4.10 Who’s Steph to win (10/1 with Totesport)

Thursday 24 May 2018

How to Bet on Horses: The Dos & Don'ts of Profitable Punting

By virtue of the fact that you’re reading this article , it’s probably safe to assume that you know how to bet on horses, in terms of physically placing a bet. If you don’t, your options essentially boil down to placing a bet in person, on the racecourse or in a licensed betting shop, or remotely, via the Internet or the telephone.
However, this article should really be titled ‘How to Bet Profitably on Horses’, because what we hope to do in the paragraphs that follow is to distill our ideas about successful betting, some of which we’ve discussed at length in other articles, into a succinct list of dos and don’ts.
Do proof your selections on paper only for at least a month, and preferably two or three, before you start backing or laying them with your own money. If you’re going to rely on a tipping service for your selections, make sure that you can obtain results for that service, independently proofed by a third party, for a similar period.
Do establish a betting bank or, in other words, set aside an adequate amount of money, exclusively for betting on horses, before you start placing bets. The purpose of doing so is that, if you do experience a sequence of adverse results, your standard of living isn’t affected in any way.
The amount of money you need to set aside will depend on your strike rate which, in turn, depends on the range of odds in which your selections lie.
Once you know your strike rate, you can calculate the longest losing run from the formula log (NB) /-(log(1 - SR)), where NB represents the number of bets you intend to place and SR represents your strike rate, expressed as a decimal fraction. So, if you have a (not unrealistic) strike rate of 25%, for every 1,000 bets you place, you can expect a longest losing run

= log(1000)/-log(1-0.25)
= log(1000)/-(log(0.75))
= 3/-(-0.125)
= 3/0.125
= 24

Of course, it’s always possible that you could encounter two such losing runs in succession, one at the end of your first thousand bets and another at start of your second thousand, so if you operate at one point level stakes, you need a betting bank of 48 points to protect you from such an eventuality.
Do keep a record of every bet you place, win or lose, in a business-like way. Doing so will not only instill discipline in you, so that you’re less likely to involve yourself in races that you know you shouldn’t, but also provide you with documentary evidence of your betting habits, which you can review periodically.
Don’t bet each-way. The standard place terms offered by bookmakers are below the true mathematical odds, unless you bet in handicaps with 16 or more runners. Even then, the mathematical advantage that you hold is negated by large, competitive fields, the vagaries of the draw, luck in running, etc. Not only that, but betting each-way requires you to halve your stake or double your outlay and often leads to indecisive selection.
Don’t chase your losses. Losing runs are a fact of life, even for successful punters, so come to accept them as an occupational hazard. Taking a long-term view, in conjunction with an adequate betting bank, should help you to deal with any short-term reverses without becoming emotionally involved.
Don’t believe advertisers who promise you massive-looking profits for the price of a monthly subscription, unless they can produce independently proofed results for a period of at least three months. The results should demonstrate that the advertised profits can be achieved by placing a realistic number of bets, to realistic stakes, at prices that are generally available. It’s possible to generate huge profits, on paper, by placing hundreds of theoretical bets at hundreds or thousands of pounds per point but, in reality, such “systems” are just plain nonsense.
We hope you enjoyed ‘How to Bet on Horses: The Dos & Don’ts of Profitable Punting’ and we will be back soon with another advanced betting guide. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on ‘How to Bet on Horses: The Dos & Don’ts of Profitable Punting’ in the comments section below.

Saturday 19 May 2018

Horse Racing in Britain Faces Shake Up After New FOBT Laws

News that the government is to reduce limits on fixed odds betting terminals to just £2 per spin, will have knock on consequences, both intended and unintended. Whilst the bookmakers argue that thousands of jobs will be placed at risk, will it be horse racing that is the real loser from the new shake up?

When you ask people on the high street, few would argue that the new restrictions on the value of bets that are allowed to be placed on so called FOBTS shouldn’t be changed. These machines are known as the crack cocaine of gambling, allowing punters to bet £100 every 20 seconds. For someone with a gambling addiction, the temptation is too great and too frequent.

One unintended consequence of today’s announcement will be the shake up of funding to British horse racing. There are estimates that the sport could lose as much as £60 million in funding as a result of the new laws. That said there are already moves underfoot, to fill this hole, with a proposals being considered on widening the horse racing levy to include bets placed on overseas racing.

Whilst the severe reduction on betting stakes for FOBT machines, will inevitably have a harsh effect on high street bookmaker’s profits, the industry is known for its creativity. We’ll likely see a greater shift to online promotions. Free horse racing bets are already popular with online bookmakers, and we’ll likely see this kind of activity increase.

Ministers will likely find ways to fill the hole left by the ban by increasing funding from other betting sources, but it’s hard to imagine that this isn’t the end of extended regulation in the UK gambling industry. In future years it’s highly probable that the fight will be broadened, with limits to bet sizes and spin times broadened to include online portfolios as well. It will be important that the horse racing levy is updated as legislation changes to ensure that the sport remains viable for years to come.

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Value Bets

The word ‘value’ frequently bandied around so often in horse racing circles that it’s almost lost all meaning. If we say that a horse represents value at the odds on offer, we mean that the betting market – in other words, the bookmakers and the betting public – has underestimated its winning chance and hence offered longer odds than expected. Of course, whether or not a horse represents value is a matter of opinion, based on your assessment of its winning chance.

One way to formalise the process is to create an odds line, which expresses an opinion, in the form of odds, about the winning chance of each horse. You can read all about creating your own odds line here but, essentially, you need to:

Assign a numeric rating, such as a Racing Post Rating (RPR) or Timeform rating, to each horse in the race.

Add up the ratings for each horse to obtain a total.
Divide each individual rating by the total to obtain the probability of each horse winning the race.
Calculate the reciprocal of each probability to obtain the odds against the horse winning the race.
Compare the ‘real world’ odds on offer with those in your odds line to determine which horses represent value and which don’t.

Of course, you may not have the time, inclination or resources to create an odds line for every race you analyse and, certainly, in smaller fields it’s possible to calculate acceptable odds for your selection in a less formal way, by using your skill and judgement. By way of illustration, imagine a hypothetical race with six runners, in which you’ve identified a likely selection and a possible danger to the selection, based on your analysis on the form book. Allowing one point, or even money, for the unexpected and one point for the danger to your selection, 2/1 or longer odds would represent value, while anything shorter than 2/1 would not.

Note that allowing one point for the unexpected means that, even in race where your selection has no apparent dangers, the minimum odds you’d accept would be even money. This precludes backing any horse at odds-on, which isn’t a bad philosophy for the average punter. If you back, say, a 4/7 chance, you’ll be more relieved at not losing 7 points than winning 4 points once the race is over. Try it if you don’t believe me.

Many bookmakers now offer ‘guaranteed’ prices, which mean that even busy punters are no longer subject, solely, to the vagaries of the S.P. market. If you’re making selections based on sound winning potential, it’s only reasonable to expect that other punters will draw the same conclusions about them and shorten the odds on offer about them in due course. A quick look at Oddschecker, or a similar odds comparison site, will soon tell you if the odds on offer from your chosen bookmaker are competitive and, unless they’re artificially short, there’s really no reason not to take a guaranteed price.

As a final word on the thorny topic of value, while it’s true that horses that fail to complete the course over hurdles or fences, for whatever reason, are often sent off at seemingly generous prices on their next start, beware of apparently ‘unlucky’ losers. If a horse falls or unseats its rider with a race apparently at its mercy, it may be priced as if it had actually won the race and, if so, may be best left alone until is does actually win a race.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

What Are The Chances?

We all dream of picking a mammoth odds outsider that we see promise in when others overlook it - the type of bet that you tell your mates about in the pub, and that becomes one of your favourite sporting moments. It certainly doesn't hurt if it leaves you with a healthy profit in the process either!

Of course, with the number of near misses you can experience along the way, it can seem to be almost an impossibility until it actually happens, like a lottery win kind of scenario. But indeed it does happen, hopefully you've experienced the thrill of such a win. There are plenty of newspaper and online stories demonstrating them too, frequently with football bets and just as often with horse racing wagers, and so we're in the right business at least!

A very recent example of someone winning big was an Austin, Texas woman who bet on a horse named Funny Duck in the Pat Day Mile at the the Kentucky Derby. She placed the small $18 bet while at the Retama Park racecourse in Selma, Texas and her selection romped home at 39-1. "That's impressive" I hear you say, but what's more impressive, and shows what is possible when your luck's in, is the fact that the bet was part of a 'Pick 5', essentially an accumulator. And the odds of other four horses were not exactly small either for the most part, and the bet aptly finished with Justify's win in the Kentucky Derby.

Here are horses, races and odds:

Limousine Liberal – Churchill Downs Stakes – 4/1

Maraud – American Turf Stakes – 8/1

Funny Duck – Pat Day Mile –  39/1

Yoshida – Old Forester Turf Classic – 9/1

Justify – Kentucky Derby – 3/1

The lucky woman's stake was just $18, I've had a free bet offer or two significantly bigger than that from UK bookmakers! And her winnings - a staggering $1.2 million. Not a bad day's work, right? A   life changing win at a day at the races. Wins of this level are few and far between, but they do happen as this very recent win attests to!

Tuesday 1 May 2018

3.45 Ascot, Wednesday, May 2

Ascot is one of the countries most popular racecourses, especially at the time of Royal Ascot in June but, also all year around in part on account of how many group one races it hosts. Many enjoy the thrill of being there live and who can blame them, and the thrill of beting on course, whereas others opt to bet online with sports bettting options like . Either way, if you're backing a winner that's the main thing!                    

Eirene sweated up before her reappearance at Newmarket two weeks ago, but still ran a race full of promise to finish third, beaten 2 lengths, behind Soliloquy in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on her first attempt over 7 furlongs. Dean Ivory’s Declaration Of War filly drops back to 6 furlongs in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes (3.45) at Ascot on Wednesday and, with the going on the Berkshire course already good to soft, soft in places and with heavy rain forecast on Wednesday morning, could have her ideal underfoot conditions.

She’s 2-3 on soft going, with her only defeat coming behind subsequent Gimcrack Stakes winner Sands Of Mali at Nottingham last August. She also ran well in defeat when a rallying sixth of 11, beaten 5½ lengths, behind Clemmie in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last September, despite becoming unbalanced on the run down into “the Dip” on the Rowley Course.

As the only filly in the field, she receives a 3lb weight-for-sex allowance and, with the exception of topweight Fighting Irish, who carries a 4lb penalty for beating two opponents in the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte last October, potentially holds a fitness advantage over her rivals, all of whom are making their seasonal debuts. Dean Ivory is just 1-7 with his three-year-olds at Ascot over the last five seasons, but that shouldn’t, necessarily, be held against Eirene, who appears to have been found a decent opportunity to open her account at Pattern level.

Selection: Ascot 3.45 Eirene to win 12/1

Monday 23 April 2018

3.55 Epsom, Wednesday, April 25

In the Investec City and Suburban Handicap (3.55) at Epsom on Wednesday, Anythingtoday remains 8lb higher in the weights than when winning a 0-90 contest at Bath last August, but he only had to be pushed clear to win convincingly and his subsequent placed form at Goodwood and Newbury suggested that his current mark of 98 is by no means prohibitive. The Zoffany gelding was having his first run since October, and his first for David O’Meara, when only fifth of nine, beaten 4 lengths, behind Duke Of Bronte at Chelmsford earlier this month. Understandably, after a 180-day break, he ran as if in need of the race, but showed enough to suggest he’s at least as good as ever and, granted David O’Meara’s knack for improving horses he acquires from other trainers, could be well handicapped.

Arguably his best run last season came in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap, over today’s distance, at Newbury last September, where he stayed on to finish third, beaten a length and a head, behind Brorocco and Fidaawy. That performance came on good going, but both previous turf wins came with cut in the ground so, back on rain-softened turf, off a handicap mark just 1lb higher than at Newbury and with the benefit of his recent Chelmsford outing, he looks to have every chance of resuming winning ways. Granted luck in running, he can make the trek from North Yorkshire worthwhile.

Selection: Epsom 3.55 Anythingtoday to win

Monday 16 April 2018

Quixall Crossett: Rarely The Bridesmaid

Not without good reason is horse racing known as the “Sport of Kings” and, although racehorse ownership is no longer the preserve of the upper echelons of society, buying and keeping a thoroughbred can be eye-wateringly expensive. According to the Racehorse Owners’ Association, it costs £20,000 a year, on average, to keep a horse in training and owners can expect a typical return on investment of just 20%. Of course, the old adage, “It costs as much to train a bad horse as a good one”, so bear a thought for the owners of horses that never win and, rarely, if ever, trouble the judge.

One such horse – in fact, arguably the worst horse in the history of British racing – was Quixall Crossett, a bay gelding bred and trained by Ted Caine at Fangdale Beck, North Yorkshire. The son of unheralded sire Beverley Boy made his debut in a National Hunt Flat Race at Catterick in February, 1990, finishing tailed off last of 18 finishers. In 102 subsequent starts over regulation hurdles and fences, he suffered 102 defeats, finishing second just twice and third six times.

The closest he ever came to winning was when, at the age of 13, he was second of four finishers, beaten 2 lengths, behind 2/9 favourite in a novices’ chase at Wetherby in May, 1998, although even then he was “soon well outpaced”. He did, however, become the first horse in the history of British racing to record 100 successive defeats, when pulled up in a maiden chase at Southwell in July, 2001.

In his final race, a novices’ handicap chase at Ayr in November, 2001, Quixall Crossett raced from 30lb out of the handicap, including 10lb overweight, and was tailed off when trying to refuse and unseating his rider at the fifth last fence. Variously dismissed as “thoroughly irresolute” and a “seriously slow maiden in danger of becoming a folk hero” by the racing press, Quixall Crossett earned just £8,502 in prize money in a career that lasted for 11 years.

Tuesday 3 April 2018

3.15 Wolverhampton, Thursday, April 5

The Handicap (3.15) on Thursday is the best race on the card at the West Midlands track, in terms of class, and may present Lexington Times with an opportunity to improve upon his reappearance sixth at Newcastle 16 days ago. Ruth Carr’s 6-year-old was having his first run since wind surgery in October and, having made smooth headway approaching the furlong marker, briefly met trouble in running a could only keep on at the same pace to finish sixth of 12, beaten 3½ lengths.

With that run under his belt and, hopefully, a clear run this time, he doesn’t look badly handicapped on the pick of his form and, while he’s yet to win on Tapeta, he appears to handle surface well enough. The Paco Boy gelding won a 0-80 contest, over 6 furlongs, at York in July off today’s mark and, while he takes a slight step back up in class, he has plenty of form to suggest that he’s attractively weighted. Jockey Jack Garrity has a 3-12 (25%) strike rate on the all-weather for Ruth Carr – who, in turn, in 1-5 at Wolverhampton – this year, so the statistics are fairly encouraging.

Selection Wolverhampton 3.15 Lexington Times to win 10/1

Thursday 29 March 2018

Pros and cons to ante-post betting

Working as one of the most beloved sports in the world, horse racing entertains audiences in a vast array of ways, and the ability to bet on such a large percentage of races has to rank highly upon that list. Horse racing weighs in closely with football for the most regularly used sports for betting on in the UK, and its many ways to bet only offers more reason to get involved.

There are many different online websites that offer their own free horse racing tips and TeamFA are a perfect example, as they specialise in multisport, leaving no stone unturned in the UK betting circuit, where they provide previews, recommended bets, tips and odds on all of the most popular sports across the globe including horse racing.

Of all the many different markets in horse race betting, something a lot of regular punters indulge in is ante-post betting. It’s easily one of the most favourable of all horse racing markets but there’s not always much explanation as to why it’s so desirable, so we’ve put together an explanation of the key pros and cons:

The perks of ante-post markets

Although it’s not always made completely clear, the concept of ante-post betting is based around being able to bet on specific horses distinctly prior to a given race taking place. This can work the same as backing a team to win the World Cup months before it kicks off or choosing who you could see scooping the PGA Tour well in advance. Technically, ante-post betting is any market where you can back it before it happens, and a lot of bookmakers refer to horse racing bets in this category as ‘Future Races’.

It would be wrong to say that there’s all that many reasons behind why so many people back ante post markets ahead of all others. The main factor which makes it so desirable is that in betting on it so early, you’ve been able to attain the strongest odds as there’s been no time for the given price to alter through the variables that regularly come into play like injuries to more favoured nags or the odds shortening through the horse you’re wanting to back becoming more likely to finish first.

Downsides to the joys of ante-post betting

When choosing your own free horse racing tips, there’s plenty of factors you need to consider. Backing the horses, you think will win a given race is made even more worthwhile through ante post markets but it’s not completely fool proof.

A lot of the main bookmakers will give you better returns if the price gets better for the horse you’re backing after you’ve backed it prior to the race taking place, but if that’s not an option with the bookie you’ve chosen to use, you could end up with inferior returns to what you could have got if you’d waited closer to the time.

Another factor that could be frustrating after you’ve already backed your horse in ante-post terms is the offers, boosts and enhancements that could be offered on that horse or race, which tend to always be released shortly before the race takes place.

Friday 23 March 2018

History of the Grand National

The biggest race in Equine Sports history, The Grand National is a favourite amongst punters. Ever wanted to learn more about its history? Check out this article written by Paddy Power Horse Race Betting to learn more!

Founded in 1839, almost two centuries ago, the Grand National is without a doubt the most popular horse race in sporting history. A huge hit with racing experts along with the general public due to its volume of horses and media exposure, The Grand National has been available for viewers to watch on television without having to pay-per-view since 1960, giving it more exposure than other popular races. Founded by a man named William Lynn who had designed the course and built the grandstand on land he had purchased from the Earl of Sefton in Aintree, England. The festival has remained there ever since, increasing its fan base and attendance ever since. It’s estimated that over 600 million people watch the event across the globe on television in over 140 countries, with an estimated 150,000 people turning up in attendance. 

Leading Horse
Red Rum (3 Wins)
Leading Jockey
George Stevens (5 Wins)
Fastest Winning Time
Mr Frisk (8 Minutes 47.8 Seconds)
Youngest Winning Jockey
Bruce Hobbs (17 Years Old)
Largest Field
66 Runners (1929)

One of the many reasons the race is so popular is the awe-inspiring spectacle it continues to provide year on year. It is often considered to be the ultimate test of horse and rider due to the sheer challenge many of the races and jumps provide. This leads to many winners and jockeys becoming legends in the sport and icons to many following their victories. The only time the race has been held on a different course is during World War One, where for three years during the War it was moved to a plot of land in Gatwick (now in use by Gatwick Airport) due to Aintree being in use by the War Office. Initially titled the “Racecourse Association Steeplechase”, its name was briefly changed for the following two races in 1917 and 1918 to the War National Steeplechase, before being returned to its original home turf. Due to them being held at a different location, these three races are rarely considered “true” Grand Nationals in the History books. Moving forward to the Second World War, instead of re-locating the event to a new, temporary racecourse, the race was simply postponed until the war ended in 1945 to focus efforts, time and resources on more pressing matters.

In more recent years, legendary trainer Ginger McCain, most famous for his work with race legend Red Rum returned, 31 years after Red Rum wowed the crowd to become one of the most legendary horses in race history. Around the same time, John Smiths Brewery became the main sponsor of the event, and even launched their own branded race called the “John Smith's People's Race”. This opened up an opportunity for ten lucky members of the public to ride in a flat race at Aintree on Grand National day, something never done before. Before it was cancelled four years later in 2010, over thirty people took part, giving them a chance to spend a day as a Grand National jockey, something very few people get the chance to do.

Who is your money on this year? Do you think the bookies got it right? Or is there an outsider you’ve got your faith in? Let us know, and more importantly, best of luck! Let’s hope you pick the winner, and come out on top!

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Cheltenham Stayer's Hurdle, Thursday March 15

The 3.30  Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle may be overshadowed by some of the other ‘championship’ races at the Cheltenham Festival, but the winner of the £201,000 first prize money won’t be complaining. Sam Spinner is possibly a little unlucky not to be unbeaten this season, but has improved – officially by 28lb – for stepping up to distances around 3 miles on his last two starts, in any case, and fully deserves his position at the head of the market.

However, one horse that could spring a surprise is The Worlds End, who has twice finished behind Sam Spinner this winter, but is surely capable of better. Tom George’s 7-year-old has yet to win at Cheltenham, but looked sure to be involved in the finish when falling at the second last in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, over 3 miles on the New Course, last year, and subsequently won the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

The Worlds End has failed to trouble the judge in three starts this season, two on heavy going, but his trainer is reportedly far from dismayed by his performances so far. He has 11 lengths to find with Sam Spinner on their running in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, but appears to have been trained with this race in mind. Provided the race isn’t run in a bog, he should give us a decent run for our money at potentially rewarding odds.

Selection: Cheltenham 3.30 The Worlds End to win  33/1

Picking a Festival Winner

When looking through the competitive racing cards at the Cheltenham festival it can sometimes be difficult to pick a winner. However we have you covered with this horse generator. One horse that will no doubt be in every punters betting slips is star mare Apple’s Jade. She heads for the mares hurdle on day one of the meeting and is the current 4/7 market leader as many punters are betting on the Cheltenham festival.

Apple’s Jade has been an absolute star for connections (Gigginstown house stud) in winning 10 of her 14 starts to date. This record is further enhanced as on the four occasions she was defeated she finished in second place. She has a career RPR high of 162 which she achieved in the Juvenile hurdle at Aintree back in 2016. This was a stunning performance in which she turned the tables on her triumph hurdle conqueror Ivanovich Gorbatov by a stunning 41 lengths. Both horses careers following this have been completely different with Apple’s continuing to go from strength to strength.

The mare has continued to perform at the height of her powers and put in a hard fought performance in the 2017 mares hurdle in defeating the Mullins pair. They were the now retired Vroum Vroum Mag and the Ruby Walsh ridden Limini. Due to this high class renewal of the race Apple’s was sent off as the 7/2 third favourite but duly obliged through out battling the pair up the hill to win by a length and a half.

Jade is unbeaten in three starts this season that included a comprehensive defeat of the 2017 stayers hurdle winner Nichols Canyon by 9 lengths. Her recent victory was one of her best to date as she out battled the classy Supasundae to win by a cosy half a length. This was her first start over the distance but she again showed her toughness having been off the bridle for over a furlong. Her defeat of Supasundae looks even better now following Supasundae’s victory in the Irish Champion hurdle ahead of the likes of Faugheen.

With several of her key dangers now not making the race and it looking a far less competitive renewal compared to 2017. She must be one of the most solid favourites across the four days and one that most punters will be adding into accumulators as the banker.
Which horse will you be cheering on at Cheltenham? How about using the horse generator below to find out which horse to get behind:

Monday 12 March 2018

Douvan Aims for Cheltenham Festival Redemption

Douvan will face off against the great Altior at Cheltenham Festival in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, desperate to banish memories of his failure last season. Willie Mullins’ charge entered the 2017 Festival on the back of 13 straight wins and was expected to make it 14 on the bounce in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. However, he put forward the worst outing of his career, finishing in seventh place, which Mullins later claimed was due to injury. The bay gelding has not competed since and faces a massive challenge to produce the upset against Altior.

The display of the French horse on the big occasion was staggering due to his past success at Cheltenham. Douvan had appeared to have been healthy for the meet, but in post-race fitness checks, it was discovered that the bay gelding had a small stress fracture of the pelvis that limited his performance during the meet. Mullins has been careful with his charge in his recovery and has resisted the opportunity to put him forward for races over the last year. As a result, he is considered an outsider behind Altior and Min in the betting odds provided by William Hill for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The seven-year-old does have proven pedigree at Cheltenham Festival, making a statement in his first appearance by winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle by a comfortable margin. He defeated Shaneshill and Sizing John among others to take the crown, highlighting his quality. In 2016 he returned to the Festival to compete in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase. Mullins’ charge was considered the overwhelming favourite for the event against a talented field, with Sizing John once again in the picture. However, Douvan dominated the rest of the field and was able to win the event by seven lengths, despite making an error at the final fence.

He continued his dominant run into the 2016/17 season, adding victories to the Cashcard Chase and the Tied Cottage Chase to his collection. However, the injury loomed large at Cheltenham to break his run of success. As the French horse makes his return to the track, he could be without jockey Ruby Walsh, who may be tempted to ride with his stable-mate Min for the event. That’s without the challenge of ending Altior’s dominant streak, with Nicky Henderson’s charge reeling off 12 wins on the bounce.

Altior has a strong history at Cheltenham Festival, winning on both his visits to the event. He claimed victory at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016 before easing to a six-length triumph in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase last season. Henderson’s charge has only been in action once since last term, but put forward a composed performance to win a two-mile event at Newbury Racecourse.
Douvan will have to put forward a flawless performance to compete with the Irish horse, and even that might not be enough to secure the victory given the quality of Altior in the closing stages. Mullins has to hope that his charge will be on form from the off to put his rival under pressure to claim his chance at redemption.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Three 2018 Grand National Outsiders to Consider Backing

Coming in to the 2018 renewal, five of the last six Grand National heroes had a starting price of 25/1 or bigger.
That stat is all the evidence needed to show that the world’s greatest steeplechase remains one of the most difficult races to pick the winner in.
This extended 4m 2f Aintree marathon may be a compressed handicap nowadays, but is still full of unpredictable elements.
What the above demonstrates is that punters should not be so quick to dismiss the chances of horses at larger prices.
If finding something to back for the Grand National is giving you a headache, then you can always pick from the tips at Timeform, but here we put three horses not currently prominent in the ante-post betting under the spotlight.

Ucello Conti

Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede will be hoping it’s third time lucky at Aintree for Ucello Conti, who is their sole representative this year.
Connections have already taken Vyta Du Roc, Polidam and Bristol De Mai out of the Grand National, so appear happy to rely on the Gordon Elliott trained 10-year-old.
Sixth to fellow Irish raider Rule The World in this race two years ago, Ucello Conti was perhaps a little unlucky to unseat his rider when tackling Becher's Brook for the second time in last season’s renewal.
A seven-length second to Anibale Fly on reappearance in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, he disappointed last time out when pulled up in the Thyestes at Gowran Park.
Depending on what other horses forfeit their Grand National entries (the week prior to the Cheltenham Festival, he is 41 on the list), Ucello Conti could get in to the race with the most favourable terms yet.


One For Arthur was a rare Scottish trained winner of the Aintree showpiece last year for Lucinda Russell, but hopes for the tartan team this time fall on another Borders-based handler.
Sandy Thomson’s Seeyouatmidnight was third in the 2016 Scottish Grand National at Ayr, so there is no doubting his stamina.
The 10-year-old hasn’t been seen over fences since pulling up in Haydock’s Betfair Chase that same year. Prior to that, Seeyouatmidnight beat Bristol De Mai in a Listed intermediate contest over fences.
He was also second at local track Kelso in a staying handicap over hurdles last March and could make his return over fences in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However he performs if he turns up there, Seeyouatmidnight will surely come on for the run.

Go Conquer

Like compatriot Elliott above, Jonjo O’Neill knows what it takes to train a Grand National winner after his success with Don’t Push It in 2010. In Go Conquer, he has a nine-year-old with some experience of those unique spruce covered Aintree fences.
He raced in last year’s Topham Chase over 2m 5f at the Grand National meeting, but never really recovered from getting badly hampered at the Canal Turn. Go Conquer completed under Aidan Coleman, so it was clear connections were keen to maximise the opportunity.
In winning his first two starts this season, including the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot, Go Conquer highlighted how he still had improvement in him.
That previous spin over the National fences hints that this is a target earmarked for him by owners Paul and Clare Rooney.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Horse Profile: Istabraq


Having enjoyed an extensive and unique career, Istabraq is a horse with a hugely impressive history to look back on. A bay-coloured Gelding, Istabraq was brought up as part of the unique stable of the Shadwell Estate, and is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum and JP McManus.
Across a hurdling masterclass of a career, Istabraq picked up a barely believable three Champion Hurdle wins as well as various different Hurdles, from the Deloitte Novice in ’97 to the Aintree Hurdle in 1999. 
Career Summary

Across a unique and powerful career, the wonderful Irish thoroughbred continued an exceptional increase in popularity and performance. Although originally bred for flats, it was hurdling where Istabraq showed its finest form and, before long, it was being used in this kind of racing.
Sold to John Durkan, it was trained by Durkan before his untimely diagnosis of leukaemia. Instead, it was trained by Aidan O’Brien – sadly, Durkan died before it won the 1998 Irish Champion Hurdle. With its first win at the 1998 Champion Hurdle, it was proclaimed that the win – by Charlie Swan – was for Durkan.

From then on, though, Istabraq became one of the most consistent horses on the circuit. From 1997-2002, it was a dominant force on the circuit, with titles coming at the December Festival and the Irish Champion Hurdle in the new millennium. Sadly, it had to retire after pulling back muscles and never being able to return to previous levels.

Today, it lives at Martinstown with JP McManus, it’s long-time owner. 
Achievements & Highlights

Wins – Champion Hurdle (1998, 1999, 2000), Irish Champion Hurdle (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), Aintree Hurdle (1999). 
Associations – JP McManus, John Durkan, Aidan O’Brien, Charlie Swan. 
Earnings – £1m+.

Sunday 4 March 2018

You're in Luck!

From a betting perspective, I'm sure many of us are guilty of often putting our big wins solely down to skill, and our losses down to being 'unlucky'. In some situations though such as big accumulator wins or other unlikely outcomes that seem to somehow effortlessly fall into place, we should concede that luck can indeed play a meaningful role from time to time. With this in mind then, let's embrace some of the outsider odds moments that clearly have a big dollop of luck involved and revel in the unfolding good fortune!

Surely one of the luckiest (or perhaps) craziest betting moves has to be the 'all or nothing' roulette bets that you sometimes see. You can of course participate yourself with a BitwinBitcoin bonus code , after all who doesn't like to try their luck with a spin of the wheel from time to time. One noteworthy big win of recent years was a stunt a few years ago where one man, Ashley Revell, bet the proceeds of all of his worldly goods ($136,000) on a single spin of a roulette wheel. He opted for red. The idea came as result of a drunken conversatio with friends, and the Brit couldn't let the idea drop. Thankfully for him he won, but imagine how utterly gutting it would've been if he's lost everything.

"That spin was the most amazing moment of my life. It is a cliché but time did stand still. It was just complete calm" said Revell of his win.

A not quite such extreme bet, though more unlikely in terms of probability, is the good fortune of brazilian businessman Pedro Grendene Bartelle, who placed $35,000 on a single roulette spin (number 32) in 2017 at Hotel Conrad in Punta del Este, on the Uruguay coast . Lady luck was more than on his side, as his number came up, winning him a staggering $1.2million. Not bad for a few seconds work! Of course it's impossible to know how often he's 'gone big' on a single number, since he was already a mult imillionaire, but it's still a great moment to be captured on film.

Moving onto the territory of sports betting, one multiple / accumulator bet in recent times that sent my head spinning was a crazy 17-fold football accumulator by an online punter. The 50p 'match result' and 'both teams' to score bet, saw the lucky individual win a healthy £61,000. As you'd expect not all of the results were a formality, but by the end of each match the stars had aligned and ultimately a win's a win! A representative for the losing bookmaker predicted that this would be hard to top in 2018 in terms of how outlandishly difficult the accumulator was to land. What's your unlikely bet that came good?

Saturday 3 March 2018

The Changing Face of Gambling

I remember the days when betting was either the domain of heading to the bookmakers, casino or making your way down to the race track. None were particularly seen as attractive or unattractive options, they were simply the only shows in town. Now of course with gambling moving firmly into the 21st century that's all changed, and often betting shops are now seen as something that's rather old hat or quaint. Of course there are betting terminal casino game options in bookmakers and the like that are fairly popular, but that's not the full picture. Now bookmaker websites often take the place of physical bookmakers, and casino websites emulate bricks and mortar casinos. Punters can even 'cut out the middle man' entirely with peer to peer betting exchanges.

Even currency is now an area where there are now more options than ever. Many gamblers now opt to bet via an online bitcoin casino. Some see this as an appealing option due to the lack of bitcoin regulation and it was bound to happen anyway really, as the balooning value of bitcoin creates markets where people want to use this ever more versatile cryptocurrency exactly how they please. Many of these bitcoin sites have the same kind of bonus offers that gamblers know and love from more typical betting websites and so playing for bitcoin instead of other forms of currency is largely a seamless process. Of course not everyone owns bitcoin, but for those who either do, or have an interest in acquiring them (as many do each time the currency makes the news after reaching a new high!) this is certainly an option worth considering.

Whether you move with the betting times and use online betting exchanges, online casinos, online bookmakers or a combination of the above, the topic of bonuses really is a point worth stating. In bricks and mortar bookmakers I've rarely seen any decent offers of bonuses or incentives of any kind other than something minor. Online though, it's a different world. Some punters really do tip the odds in their favour by keeping an eye out for big bonuses that give something of a boost to their betting bank. These perks can either result in ramping things up profits-wise, or in a worst case scenario cushioning potential losses. Gambling is often a matter of margins and finding value, and in my view if you find the right bonuses this can definitely feed into the art of locating value.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Big Odds Betting on the Cheltenham Festival

The highly anticipated four day Cheltenham Festival is now just around the corner (march 13th - 16th 2018). Earlier today I was looking over some of the previous results of the Cheltenham Gold Cup over the years imagining how I'd have felt if I'd had the guts to place bets on the bigger odds selections. Of course often such selections go nowhere with the markets correctly pricing their chance of winning, but on occasion they do come good and what a story to pass on (and big win to smuggly collect) should you land a big odds winner in the ballpark of 25-1 + instead of betting on short odds favourites with a 'playing it safe' mindset, which can often backfire anyway.

One of the most noteworthy wins of previous wins that falls along these lines has to be 9 year old Gelding Norton's Coin, who managed to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup at dizzying betting odds of 100-1. Bred  owned and trained by Sirrell Griffiths, who viewed training as a hobby, Norton's Coin disappointed in previous runs before stepping up in class so was seen as something of a no hoper by the betting markets. At these odds though, some did elect to take the punt, and it more than paid dividends for them. When placing a bet a certain degree of bravery (or some would say foolhardiness) is often needed. For Norton's Coin 100-1 had looked about right with everything else factored in, but imagine having £20 on that, or perhaps even a bet via a bookmaker's free bet offer. You'd certainly be thanking your betting bank afterwards! Often bookmakers have free bet offers running alongside the big events like the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival and so it certainly makes sense to keep an eye on those to get more bang for your betting buck!

This year's Gold Cup, or Cheltenham Festival in general could of course also throw up Outsider surprises, though they're unlikely to scale the heights of this 100-1 winner (hopefully I've not just tempted fate by stating that!). Often elements of luck and skill combine when betting on Cheltenham or the Grand National and so whether you bet on a short odds favourite or a long shot, there can be aspects of flying blind with any selection and are both plus points and drawbacks whichever odds bracket you find yourself drawn towards. Current favourite in the betting markets for the Gold Cup is 3-1 Might Bite with many a glowing write-up in the racing press. Sizing John, Coney Island and the like also factor is, while Cloudy Dram has been pulled out of the race and entered into the RyanAir Chase Instead, which was a surprise to many.

Ruth Jefferson stated: “He’s come out of the race at Newbury fine. We took him out of the Gold Cup and he’ll go for the Ryanair, that’s the plan” As always there will likely be a few more changes across this and other races before the Festival begins, but as per usual the event as a whole is bound to be once again be one of the real highlights of the British racing calendar.

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Horse and Jockey Profile

Sadler’s Wells: His Legacy Lives On

Sadler’s Wells, who retired from breeding in 2008 and died at home at Coolmore Stud, County Tipperary in 2011, is now best known for his prolific stud career. He was champion sire in Britain and Ireland 14 times, in France three times and North America once and his progeny won all the British Classics.

However, it’s worth remembering that, prior to taking up stallion duties in 1984, Sadler’s Wells was a top-class racehorse. By Northern Dancer, the most influential sire of the 20th century, out of Fairy Bridge, a half-sister to Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells was bred by the late Robert Sangster in America and trained by the late Vincent O’Brien at Ballydoyle, County Tipperary. Having won the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in the September of his two-year-old campaign, he went on to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Eclipse Stakes, by a neck from Time Charter, and the Phoenix Champion Stakes. He also ran creditably in defeat, finishing second to Darshaan in the Prix du Jockey Club and Teenoso in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

A small, sturdy, dark bay colt, not unlike his sire, he demonstrated courage and durability on the racecourse, characteristics he passed on to his notable progeny, which included Montjeu, Galileo, High Chaparral and, of course, Frankel who remained unbeaten in a fourteen-race career . Following his death, Ben Sangster, son of the late Robert, said, “His legacy will live on through his sons and daughters and their sons and daughters.”

The Rise and Rise of James Bowen

Welsh jockey James Bowen has had a remarkable twelve months. Fresh from setting a record total of 30 winners in his debut point-to-point season – all the more noteworthy for the fact that he had his first ride on his 16th birthday, March 12, several months into the season – Bowen turned professional in May.

He rode his first winner as a professional, Curious Carlos, for his father, Pembrokeshire trainer Peter, at Cartmel on May 27 and joined Nicky Henderson as conditional jockey on October 1. He rode out his seven-pound allowance aboard Thomas Campbell, trained by Henderson, at the Cheltenham November meeting and has since become the youngest jockey to win the Welsh Grand National, steering the veteran Raz De Maree to victory at Chepstow in January.

At the time of writing, according to Bowen Jnr. has ridden 39 winners, 13 more than any other conditional jockey in the country and just one short of riding out his five-pound allowance. He has already been touted as a future champion jockey and, if fate decrees, that should be just a matter of time.

For a lad of 16 he has a wise approach to the sport looking to the long term. Asked about what winning the likes of the Grand National would mean to him compared to winning the jockey's title he said “Being champion would mean more. I’d love to do that. Obviously the big days are special but for me the aim is to ride winners every day and try to be champion jockey.” I have a feeling he might not have to decide between the two.