Tuesday 9th April

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Morning campers! Hope you all had a terrific weekend and of course loads of you backed the national winner? Well I was sat there like most thinking who on earth backed that? Then of course I found out that the prolific Chris Dixon had tipped it up on air for Coral TV and most of the staff have followed him in and had probably spent most of Saturday toasting the Encore!

I’m really looking forward to this week as this is where the flat season really gets into full swing. My excitement has already started to flourish after a great result on Saturday with Keep It Dark. He really caught my eye at Mussleburgh the week before when everything was winning from the front and he was the only horse in the race to come from the rear. I thought the more testing track at Newcastle on Saturday was absolutely perfect for him. I backed him in the morning at 7/1 and then got heavily involved in Grand National fever (including dancing round the room when Solwhit sluiced in). It wasn’t until I returned to my computer about ten minutes before the race that panic started to set in. I checked the market and he was nearly 20/1 on Betfair! What had happened? Had a leg fallen off on the way to the start? All seemed ok, horse was at the start and I was baffled. So I did what all rational punters do and had some more on at 16’s as his price had been clipped in a bit. I then sat and watched in delight as you could call him the winner a long way out. The moral of this is just don’t let drifts put you off. They do win.

I’ve had a good look at the card at Pontefact today and it’s a real good start to the season with some competitive races and hopefully we can find a few winners. First of all a few stats from Proform….

Trainers in from with the best win & place strike rates over the last 14 days:

Alan Swinbank 83.33%

Roy Bowring 66.67%

Philip Fenton 60%

Conor Dore 60%

John Quinn 57.14%

Ralph Beckett, Warren Greatrex, W McReery, Charles Hills, James Tate and Philip Kirby are all operating over 50%.

The Swinbank team are absolutely flying at present and must be feared. He only has one runner at Pontefract today and that is Regal Swain in the 5.15.

We will start by taking a look at the 2.10 where the Richard Fahey trained SNOOKY looks to have an excellent opportunity to continue the progress made at the back-end of last year. He’s been gelded since we last saw him and he has managed to bag stall one from the magic machine which is always a brucey bonus around here. The yards record in March & April with handicappers at 4y-o+ stands up to some considerable scrutiny and he looks to have a big chance. Dolphin rock has also benefitted from the draw and tends to go well early season. CROWN CHOICE is very much on my radar but probably not today. He is seriously well handicapped on his old form (peaked with a rating of 97 in Hoof It’s Stewards Cup win) as he races off just 70 today. This trip is probably to far for him though (all wins at 6&7f) especially with a stiff finish so today is likely to be a watching brief. He should be watched closely though and it will be interesting if any money comes for him.

The 3.10 for me is fairly straight forward as I like both of the Richard Fahey runners. Polski Max has also been gelded since we last saw him and comes here on the back of a winning effort on his final start as a juvenile. He seems to relish cut in the ground and fingers crossed it won’t have dried out too much by the time racing gets underway. His chance and price is boosted by the fact Flashlight is such a short price but I think he is well worth taking on. He won very easily on the fibresand last time but that is not uncommon for horses trying the surface for the first time (especially dirt bred) so I think he is too short and should be opposed. The other one I’m keen on is FANTACISE. After winning her maiden here last year she went on to finish just 5 lengths behind Sendmylovetorose (now rated 107) in the Cherry Hinton at Newmarket. That piece of form alone means she is potentially very well treated off a mark of 78 especially if she has trained on. Blinkers return today for her re-appearance and she is very likely to out-run her odds of 16/1 so I’m happy to play both Fahey runners.

I cannot get away from ZAPLAMATION in the 3.40 who didn’t even come off the bridle when winning very easily indeed on the first try over two miles last week. He beat a potentially well handicapped horse that day too which gives that form some substance. You would imagine this track will suit his strong travelling credentials and I think he will be very tough to beat. Hidden Justice comes here for the same in form yard on the back of running down the field in the Triumph behind Our Connor. He is rated 147 over hurdles so he looks dangerously handicapped in this sphere. I do have my reservations about him on the level though and I think he’s worth taking on. The other one I like at a big price is DORRY K. All of her best form comes on the turf (including when winning off higher last year) and there is a very good chance that her two spins on the all-weather would have been to put her cherry ripe for today. First time blinkers, the booking of Paul Hanagan and the price of 25/1 give her some appeal!

The 4.15 is a tight little handicap but I’m quite keen on the chances of SPANISH DUKE who has switched from John Dunlop to Briain Ellison this spring. He’s a horse that goes well fresh, has won off higher marks and indeed ran well off marks in three figures. If he is cherry ripe and has found any improvement for the switch in scenery he is likely to go very well indeed! Of the runners at a big price I thought SILVERY MOON was worth saving on at around 16/1. He is back down to his last winning mark and represents the Easterby team that love to have winners at this meeting.

The 5.15 looks a tough handicap and is very competitive. Lots of respect goes to Regal Swain for the bang in form Alan Swinbank team. He has yet to win a race though and there maybe one or two improvers around him. I really like the chances of SYNCOPATE for Pam Sly. Nicely drawn down on the inside and ran much better than the bare form suggests in a falsely run race at Lingfield last time. This should be run to suit and the stiff finish over this slightly shorter trip could be ideal. I really like his chances. Of the others I thought the main danger may well come from CARRAGOLD who always runs well at this time fo year and SDS is a really positive booking. I will back both with confidence.

Away from the racing we are looking forward to the first golfing major of the season with The Masters starting on Thursday. If you fancy anyone outside of Tiger Woods you should probably be betting with Coral. They are giving you your money back if your bet finishes 2nd to woods which is a cracking concession. I went through all the prices in detail yesterday and I couldn’t find any value anywhere in all honesty. Mickleson hasn’t hit a twig all season yet is 16/1 third favorite?  I think Woods will win and more to the point I hope he does too.

Enjoy the racing today. Hope you back some winners!

All the best,

MG

Grand National Saturday!

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Morning everyone. It’s amazing how quickly this day seems to come around each year. We will do well to top last year with Neptune Collonges doing the business for us in grand style at 40/1!! Anyone remembers the hangovers from this Saturday 12 months ago?

4.15 Aintree – John Smith´s Grand National Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) (CLASS 1) (7yo+)

Another top quality maximum field assembled for the feature jumps race of the year. Let’s hope for a clean start this time around. I’ve narrowed the field down to five and will play them all.

JOIN TOGETHER – For a long time he has looked like a marathon trip will suit him down to the ground. You can safely put a line through his last run and the most eye-catching piece of form is he fast finishing 2nd in the Beecher Chase in December. He got a little out-paced as they upped the pace that day before staying on strongly. There will be no quickening today and all his main attributes will come to the fore especially when they turn for home. If he can steer a clear passage and jump safely he will be a massive player late in the day and is much too big a price.25/1.

ON HIS OWN – Travelling like a travelly thing when coming down at Beecher’s on the second circuit last year. He has been lightly raced since and has been prepared for this with absolute perfection. Ruby rides who knows the course so well and if he jumps round has to be a big player. 10/1.

IMPERIAL COMMANDER – All the stats are against him. He’s missed so much of the last 18 months through injuries that it seems very unlikely that you put the top weight up in the national. On the plus side he jumps like a stag, loves going right-handed, will relish the ground and is so well handicapped on his old form that he actually could make a mockery of this mark. Time and time again the class horses come to the top in this race and even if top weight stops him winning, he will go very very close if he’s fit and well. 16/1.

ROBERTO GOLDBACK – Bought completely with this is mind at the start of the season and duly bolted up on his first start for Nicky Henderson at Ascot. He won so well that day that he looked like a really well handicapped horse. He has run in bottomless ground since then and hasn’t looked the same. There is every chance that he has been completely laid out for this and is actually only 4lbs higher than when winning at Ascot. 25/1.

SEABASS – The last one to creep onto the short list! Ran a blinder in this last year when up with the pace throughout and given a lovely ride by Katie Walsh. He’s up 5lbs this year which makes life tougher but he looks to have been given a perfect prep and I really couldn’t leave him out.

Of the others I thought that Balthazar’s King was likely to go well and it will be fascinating to see how Chicago Grey goes under the patient Carberry. If you were to ask me to name one at a massive price that will give you a run for your money you could do a lot worse than SWING BILL at 100/1 (170’s on BF). He will relish this in amongst horses and will travel way for a long way, he could realistically be in the shake up and I might play him in a few of the special markets.

All in all it should be a classic. Let’s hope they all come back safe and sound and we are cheering home the winner!

Away from the main event I will also be having a decent go on CANTLOW (3.25). Most of you will know how long he has been on my radar and I was hoping to have a thick bet on him at Cheltenham but he bled down at the start and didn’t take part. He has been absolutely crying out for three miles plus and finally gets ot here today. He’s on a really good mark and this type of race should really suit him. This is also a race that JP likes to target and I think he has a massive chance and I’ll be having a decent bet. 3 pts win @ 7/1 generally.

I am a little bit baffled by the entry for VAN DER NEER in the listed race at Lingfield. He is in my top three horses to follow on the flat this year and looks a real exciting prospect. His run in the Racing Post Trophy was so eye-catching on ground that he didn’t seem to appreciate. On a good surface this summer he could prove to be very smart indeed and maybe this is just a prep to put him bang on for the guineas? He’s 1/2 and no sort of bet today but I’ll be watching with real interest as I think he is very high-class.

I have to give one more chance to KINDIA (5.20 Lingfield) who has caught the eye a couple of times since coming over from france. This drop back to seven might suit her a little better today and with the visor swapped for cheek pieces she is starting to look nicely handicapped. She is 25/1 on Betfair but she is likely to pop up at some point. Last chance for me today. 1 pt win @ 25/1 on Betfair.

I will be throwing a few darts at KEEP IT DARK (5.35 Newcastle) too. Mussleburgh clearly didn’t suit last time and has a decent pull in the weights with the winner today too. Completely unexposed and should go well. 1.5 pts win @ 7/1.

The booking of Kieren Fallon on ALBAQAA (9.20 Wolverhampton) looks interesting as he is seriously well handicapped and should be included in your multiples today.

Good luck with all your bets. It is a cracker jack days racing. Fingers crossed for the National winner once again!

All the best,

MG

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Aintree Day One! Thursday 4th April

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A fascinating start to the Grand National meeting at Aintree this afternoon and we kick off with three grade ones.

2.00 Aintree Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo)

An exciting start to the card which sees the re-match of the two market leaders in the form of ROLLING STAR and IRISH SAINT. The former got the better of the first encounter between the two at Cheltenham but comes here on the back of a disappointing effort in the Triumph after being very well backed. Irish Saint missed the festival and comes here a fresh horse with conditions likely to play to his strengths too. FLAXEN FLARE comes here on the back of a romp in the Fred Winter in first time blinkers. This is a step up in class but if he backs that effort up he certainly comes into the reckoning. Vasco Du Ronceray and Ruacana are the two that potentially may improve significantly for the better ground but the latter would need to improve to reverse the form with Flaxen Flare. Rolling star is likely to be a warm favourite but I like the chances of IRISH SAINT reversing the form.

2.30 Aintree – Betfred Bowl Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

A race that largely revolves around SILVINIACO CONTI who was travelling so well when coming down three out in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. It remains a mystery whether or not he would have got up the hill. If that fall hasn’t left a mark after just twenty days he is likely to be very difficult to beat indeed on a track that really does play to his strengths. Don’t be put off by the fall at the festival as he is a superb jumper in general. The Giant Bolster will struggle to reverse the form from Newbury with the favourite and First Lieutenant comes here on the back of a solid second to Cue Card in the Ryanair but may find this tougher still despite the step up in trip being in his favour. The favourite will be very difficult to beat.

3.05 Aintree – John Smith´s Aintree Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

For me this is the feature of day one and is a brilliant renewal. The young guns and the untapped potential against the proven performers at this level. Last year’s winner OSCAR WHISKEY ran poorly at Cheltenham in the World Hurdle and will have to be forgiven that effort to be backed here. He is a class act at two and a half miles and if he returns to his best he will be a major player. Barry Geraghty has deserted him in favour of GRANDOUET but had he come here and missed Cheltenham he would be a short priced favorite so he is overpriced. Grandouet was another to come to grief at the festival just as the taps were about to be turned on in the Champion Hurdle. He comes here with every chance and the drying ground will be in his favour. I’m not convinced however that he wants two and a half miles. He will undoubtedly travel strongly through the race and for all you Betfair players he is likely to trade short in the run whatever the outcome so there will be an opportunity to trade out.

The current market leader on the back of an impressive win in the Neptune at the festival in THE NEW ONE. He hasn’t done anything wrong to date with his only defeat coming to the equally impressive At Fishers Cross just before the festival. Sam Twiston-Davies will tell you he should have won that day too had he been more patient. Now they have found the key to him he is likely to be a potent force as he has a real turn of foot and he should be hard to beat today.COUNTRYWIDE FLAME comes here on the back of an excellent effort in the Champion Hurdle and the step up in trip is likely to help him here too as will the track. He was a real stayer on the flat and must come into the reckoning here. Zarkander has a few lengths to find with Countrywide Flame and has the addition of blinkers for the first time over hurdles (did wear them on the flat). The step up in trip has looked like it is likely to suit him for some time and he is probably overpriced at around 6/1.

Thousand Stars is likely to run his race again as he usually does and certainly adds even more depth to what is a fascinating race. I think that THE NEW ONE will maintain his progress over hurdles and will be hard to beat but I will have a saver on Zarkander.

3.40 Aintree – John Smith´s Fox Hunters´ Chase (CLASS 2) (6yo+)

Hunter Chases have never been my strong point so I will leave the Foxhunter’s over the national fences to the experts. I am reliably informed that BOLD ADDITION is strongly fancied to run a big race this afternoon.

4.15 Aintree – Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

A devilishly difficult handicap at 4.15 but a race in which I really fancy one. I am strong on the chances of PIRES from the Tony Martin team who hacked up in a couple of handicaps earlier in the season before running a cracker in a very strong race two starts back where the Grand Annual winner Alderwood was in second. That represents strong handicap form and rather than going to the festival he had a spin on the all-weather at Dundalk where he ran well. That was surely a prep for this and he comes here race fit and unexposed over fences. He looks sure to go well and I’ve tucked in at 10/1.

4.50 Aintree – Betfred Manifesto Novices´ Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

Not a betting race for me as CAPTAIN CONAN is by far the most likely winner but he is just a horse that I’m not keen on. Slightly disappointed with the turn out here in truth as there is a nice prize up for grabs. He will probably win but if was in the ring I would want to take him on bigtime.

5.25 Aintree – Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

A minefield to finish the day with 21 of them going to post over the extended three miles. The two I like the most here are EASTER DAY and ERICHT. The former is progressive over hurdles and has won 3/4. He will need to just brush up his jumping in this more competitive race but he looks to be going the right way and should be followed again this afternoon. ERICHT in theory has a tougher task than at the festival where he was a solid 5th. Gary Derwin claimed 10lbs that day so from a handicapping point of view this is harder but he gets on really well with Barry Geraghty and I think he will be really patient on him this afternoon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him coming there very strongly and played late.

I’ve backed both at 8/1 and 14/1 respectively.

A cracking first day of the National meeting. I hope you enjoy and backed plenty of winners!

I’m off to the Premier League darts at the Brighton Centre tonight which should be cracking fun!

Be lucky!

MG