Big Saturday blog

Proform

Morning everyone. Another really pleasing day yesterday bagged us two nice winners at Lingfield. Disappointed with the run of SYNAESSTHESIA at Wolverhampton but she is a project to keep an eye on. The market was incredibly negative about her late doors and the horse that was heavily backed most of the day won easily. As expected they didn’t go much of a pace and I think they might have got the tactics wrong on her. Still a nice 12.75pts profit on the day cannot be grumbled at.

We will start with what I consider to be the bet of the day for me in the form of FESTIVE AFFAIR (1.50 Sandown). A frustrating type really for Jonjo O’Neill who has been given some time off after a disappointing return to action at Cheltenham in November (where he was very well backed). His mark of 132 really does look very workable on his beating of Dark Lover last year. I am assuming they were not keen to run him during the yards cold spell and he looks to me to be a type that could thrive in the spring and towards the festival. Very keen on his chances this afternoon and wouldn’t at all be surprised if he was very well backed.

FESTIVE AFFAIR 3 pts win @ 5/1.

2.05 Ffos LasBetway Welsh Champion Hurdle (A Limited Handicap)

A really competitive affair. The first two winners of this race (Medinas & Saphir Du Rheu) have both proved to be very smart animals but I’m not sure there is anything of that class lurking in here. I put a line through at least half this field with comfort though and I think there are two worth backing. First up, top weight SILSOL. Let’s forgive the latest run at Cheltenham behind Rock On Ruby and concentrate on his handicap exploits of which his form reads 2111. Up another 7lb for winning at Newbury off 144, he was going away at the end there and I don’t think the extra 7lb would have stopped him that day. Jack Sherwood gets on very well with him with two wins from three rides and I think he has been slightly underestimated in the market and therefore should be backed.

The other one that interests me is AWAYWITHTHEGREYS for Peter Bowen and Jamie Moore. I think he likes this type of flat track and he ran well in the race last year which was a stronger race than today. The blinkers go on and I think he might just be overpriced.

SILSOL – 1 pt win @ 10/1 generally

AWAYWITHTHEGREYS 1 pt win @ 16/1 generally

2.40 Ffos Las – Betway West Wales National

Really keen on the chances today of GLOBAL POWER. Oliver Sherwood’s gelding hasn’t had much racing over the last couple of seasons but he has given the impression on several occasions that a step up to extreme trips could bring about plenty of improvement. I think he is an out-and-out stayer and the conditions of today’s race will play into his hands. A really solid bet.

GLOBAL POWER – 2.5pts win @ 11/2.

WEST LEAKE (4.05 Lingfield) hasn’t won for two years but seems to be in the perfect race for me today. He’s a hold up horse who would like to be on the bridle as long as possible and with Bertie Blu Boy in the field they are certain to go a crazy gallop. With one or two of these keen to chase the pace he could well just have everything set up absolutely perfectly. I struggle to see him not being in the first three and if all goes perfectly thee race may just fall into his lap. Last win came off 58 so is on a nice mark and should at the very least go close.

WEST LEAKE 2pts each way @ 6/1.

Now strangely for me too there are also a few in today that I like at short prices. So what I am going to do as it is the last day of the month is put a couple of them in a one point treble.  I won’t go in to too much detail but they are as follows:

KASHTAREE 1.00 Weth

SAMPLE 1.10 Ling

BRISTOL DE MAI 1.15 Sandown

This treble pays 22/1 with Sportingbet and I’ve thrown 1pt at it.

So a really busy Saturday with 12.5 pts at Stake. Confident of a decent day.

Enjoy a cracking day and be lucky!

MG

Proform

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Thursdays Blog!

Proform

Apologies for the lack of bloggage over the last few days. My schedule at this time of year is hectic and I simply haven’t had the time! I am actually writing this on Wednesday night just before I hit the sack as I have such a busy day again tomorrow!

I will be up bright and early as I am off to Jamie Poulton’s yard down in Sussex to see our new colt that we have taken a healthy share in. He is by Sakhee and will be hopefully be making his racecourse debut in a couple of weeks time!

Last week was quite tough. We hit the crossbar several times and had plenty that ranpoorly. I suppose on the back of such a good run that was always likely to be the case. I liked two quite strongly today (weds) and they both won well. I didn’t have the time to write about them in the morning but those of you that tuned into Timeform Radio would have heard how strongly I liked them! Monel would surprisingly easily and he is also entered on Thursday. He will  be no sort of price now and the cat is out the bag.

There is a distinct lack of trainers being flagged up on the win and place strike rate hot list from Proform. They are as follows:

Amanda Perrett 66.67%

John Gosden 54.05%

Malcom Jefferson 50%

Highie Morrison 50%

I have always set the bar with this stat at a minimum of 8 or 10 runners in the previous 14 days. This largely ignores smaller yards that can be in form so I have run this separately of one or two trainers have caught my eye this week:

Ron Hodges 75% (4runners)

John Davies 66.67% (3 runners)

Lydia Richards 66.67% (3 runners)

Seamus Durack 66.67% (6 runners)

Ed De Giles 66.67% (3 runners)

Chris Down 66.67% (6 runners)

John Bridger 60%

I hope in one way or another these figures point you in the direction of a winner or two! If you haven’t had a chance to check out Proform yet then you must do so. It is an essential part of any professionals day to day punting now and you will see why once you scratch the surface. Click on the image at the top of the blog and it will link you directly to the website. Simon will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Ok on to today and a few that I actaully fancy quite strongly.

First up is BALLYBOUGH GORTA (4.50 Wetherby) who has been most progressive over the last few seasons when given good ground or faster and has climbed a good 56lbs in the weights as a result. Over the winter he has been highly tried in decent races (Sussex and Scottish Nationals) mostly in bad ground which he would have hated. Back on a decent surface today in the weakest race he has run in for a long time (down to class 3) he must have a great chance with the Bowen/Moore combination also firing on all cylinders recently. There are some double figure prices floating about tonight so he should be backed provided there is not too much overnight rain!

BALLYBOUGH GORTA 2 pts win @ 10/1

The first of my two very strong fancies is RUSSIAN REALM (3.50 Goodwood) who looks a pattern performer waiting to happen. He was beaten at Ascot on his re-appearance by the horse we backed that day (Ishikawa) and has been raised 3lbs for the privilege of being beaten. He travelled like the best horse in the race for a long way and if you could give Ryan the ride back again he might not have given the winner so much rope. The drop back a furlong should work the oracle here and I expect Ryan to be extra clinical here today on this beautifully bred colt.

RUSSIAN REALM 4 pts win @ 2/1 (BOG)

The other one on the day is PERFECT MUSE (5.35 Goodwood) who looks a really well handicapped filly to me. Adam Kirby had to get after her a bit earlier than he wanted on her re-appearance at Bath (when she was heavily punted) and she hit the front a bit earlier than I believe he wanted too and got swamped on the line when he thought he had the race in the bag. The extra furlong here should help her travel into the race kindly and if Ryan Tate times it well I fully expect her to win.

PERFECT MUSE 4 pts win @ 15/8 (BOG)

Neither of the two are big prices but I expect them all to run well so for extra interest we will play the following multiples too:

Russian Realm/Perfect Muse 2 pts win double

Russian Realm/Perfect Muse/Ballybough Borta 1 pt win trixie (4 pts)

I hope you all have a lovely day! And lets bag some winners!

All the best

MG

Proform

Cheltenham Gold Cup Day!

Proform

Unfortunately due to travel commitments or work I don’t have the time for a full run down of Friday’s action.

1.30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo)

I think Calipto may be very good. I also think that after a break Royal Irish Hussar will play a part.

Selection: Calipto

2.05 – Vincent O´Brien County Handicap Hurdle Grade 3

A wide open renewal. I like the chances of two at a price they are Lac Fontana (12/1) and Lyvius (20/1). Play them both each way.

2.40 – Albert Bartlett Novices´ Hurdle (Registered As The Spa Novices´ Hurdle) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Briar Hill last year’s bumper winner is unbeaten over hurdles but he has hardly been tested and his jumping hasn’t been foot perfect. I am a really big fan of KINGS PALACE and think he will continue the excellent week for the Pipe team.

3.20 – Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1)

Whilst you can make a case for one or two of the others this does look a match between BOBS WORTH and SILVIANACO CONTI. I massively respect the pair of them and slightly prefer BOBS WORTH. He’s unbeaten around here and absolutely loves the hill. Barry has always had the opinion that he is a better horse on better ground too. If all goes to plan he should retain his crown.

4.00 – CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (CLASS 2) (5yo+)

No opinion.

4.40 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys´ Handicap Hurdle

I really like the look of VIEUX LION ROUGE who has always been well-regarded. He’s unbeaten over hurdles and is potentially better than 139. Full Shift is likely to play a big part and I also think that Leo Luna will be involved back on better ground.

Selection: Vieux Lion Rouge

Danger: Leo Luna

5.15 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup Handicap Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

Some familiar faces. It will take an AP masterclass to get Mr Mole home in front. I very much like the chances of Eastlake who could run very well at a big price. I also really like the look of CLARET CLOAK who has threatened to win a big handicap for some time and finally has ideal conditions and the right man on board.

Selection: Claret Cloak

Each Way shout: Eastlake

Enjoy Gold Cup Day!

MG

Cheltenham Day 2…He’s a Faugheen Nice Horse!

Proform

End of day one and I’m well and truly licking the ante-post wounds. Irving ran no race at all and Champagne Fever got chinned on the line by the nutter that couldn’t win (and traded at 1000-1 in running). Midnight Prayer did the job for us in the four miler to get us back on track. Thoughts are very much with all the connections of Our Connor. A classy animal that will be sorely missed.

1.30 – Neptune Investment Management Novices´ Hurdle

Some nice types go to war in the Wednesday opener including the unbeaten Red Sherlock but very much like day one they may not see which way FAUGHEEN goes for the Mullins/Walsh combination. Admittedly we don’t know just how good he is just yet as he has been much too classy for all his rivals. His jumping to say the least at times has been sketchy but he looks like he’s got a real good engine too and that may well be plenty good enough here.

2.05 – RSA Chase (Grade 1) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

A race that you can go round and round in and come up with several different answers. I want to be against Ballcasey really, although he is a fair enough favourite, I have my doubts about him at the top-level. I just think there will be one or two too quick for him at the business end! I am a big fan of SMAD PLACE. Third in the last two world hurdles, his jumping really warmed up as he went through the race at Newbury last time when beating Sam Winner (who jumped like a stag). They will both appreciate this better ground and are both very big players in my book. Carlingford Lough is also very interesting. He is all about stamina and would have gone very close to rustling up Ballycasey had he not been squeezed out at the last at Leopardstown in a tactical race that wouldn’t have suited. The likely strong gallop here will be right up his street and he is a big player. I have to also throw Black Thunder in the mix too. He has always looked a staying chaser to me and I think the make up of this race will suit him, he is definitely the each way value in the race.

1 pt each on Smad Place and Carlingford Lough with an each saver on Black Thunder

2.40 – Coral Cup (A Handicap Hurdle) Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Some smart horses towards the top of the weights in a devilishly difficult handicap include Dunguib, Cotton Mill and Far West who all have bits and pieces of festival form. I respect all three of them hugely here. The four to concentrate on further down the list for me would be Dell’Arca, Vendor, Indevan and WAAHEB. I really like Dermot Weld’s seven year-old. He is a classy animal but is a bit of a thinker at the same time. I have no doubt in my mind that he is well handicapped off 142 and the fact that AP has chosen Get Me Out Of Here is no bad thing. Mark Walsh is very good and very patient. He is the perfect match for Waaheb and if he is on a going day he will go very close.The 18-1 about him this evening is much too big!

WAAHEB 1.5 pts each way at 18/1.

3.20 – BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase Grade 1

The feature race on day two and what looks to be an absolute cracking bet in the form of SIRE DE GRUGY. There will be plenty wanting to take him on on the basis of one thing….and that is his course form. Let’s strip that back. Two starts at Cheltenham, the first when being beaten by Captain Conan by two lengths on only his second start over fences. Then when being beaten here by Kid Cassidy when trying to give him 10lbs in a race that didn’t quite work out as planned (hit front too soon, then clouted the last two). The team have clearly now worked out to get him in front as late as possible and I’m sure Jamie will be patient. He has grown up enormously from his defeat by Captain Conan here back in 2012 and is a much better horse than him now.

Captain Conan is just too slow to win at this level and this has been an after thought. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Arvika Ligeonniere’s jumping and that will probably catch him out again. Bailey Green, Kid Kassidy and Module shouldn;t be good enough at this level and Sizing Europe bless him is probably too slow now. The main danger may well come in the unexposed form of Hinterland who has won both his starts to date over fences. He goes well fresh and will like the ground. Largely I just think that SDG is the absolute bet of the day in spades. Tonight there is some 3/1 about, he should be 6/4. That is value of epic proportions.

SIRE DE GRUGY – Nap of the day. 3/1 Generally.

4.00 – Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (A Cross Country Chase)

Not my favourite race of the week and I expect to see BIG SHU and BALTHAZAR KING fight out the finish. I love BK so hopes he can do the business!

4.40 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Grade 3

This is one race this week where you might struggle to beat the market. DAWALAN is a worthy favourite and looks like this test will suit down to the ground. I think Goodwood Mirage is potentially thrown in off 132 but his jumping will need to improve. The two I really like here though are ORGILGO BAY and KATGARY. The former has aqquited himself well in a couple of impossible races the last twice and potentially is on a really nice mark of 127. First time hood could bring about plenty of improvement and Mark Bolger takes off a handy 3lb. He is a big player, as is KATGARY who makes his British debut off a mark of 130 having impressed on his last two starts in France. Paul Nicholls took this race with a very similar type in Sanctuaire back in 2010 and he could be thrown in.

1 pt e/w Orgilgo Bay, 2 pts win Katgary

5.15 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Not a race I ever get too involved in. Willie Mullins usually wins it and comes here with a three-pronged attack, all of which are towards the head of the market. They all look smart in their own right. I am going to have a small interest though in EL NAMOOSE for John Ferguson. He has a lovely flat pedigree (authorized out of a gone west mare) and the yard now how to ready one for this test. He could be really classy and the 16/1 about him for the finale will do me nicely.

EL NAMOOSE 1 pt e/w

Best of luck on day two, hope you back a few winners!

MG

@markagrantham

Cheltenham Festival – Day One….

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Proform

So here we are again. Less than 24 hours to go until the great roar that greets the start of the best four days of the entire calendar year! This time around more than ever we are being treated to a really fantastic opening day! The first four races on the card are all absolutely mouth watering…..for plenty of reasons. If you’ve had a shrewd winter of judging performances, times and above all working out which horses have been very good running in wellies for the past four months then you might be in one or two strong ante-post positions. I have one or two that have gone in the right direction but as always, plenty that won’t even be leaving home!

1.30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices´ Hurdle Grade 1

The festival opener looks a real cracker as always this year and is a week defining race for myself as by far the best ante-post position I am in comes here in the form of Paul Nicholls IRVING. He is generally around a 5/2 fav going into the race and having backed him at 12/1, 10/1 and 7/1 I’m delighted to be in a strong position. I do see the argument that some pundits are making that the hill will be an issue and he seems to be a speed horse but I also see the positives. Nothing has really come close to getting him off the bridle yet. Ok, Prince Siegfried was upsides when falling at the last at Ascot but he was traveling all over him in truth. The way he sprinted away from his rivals at Kempton in the Dovecote really took my eye. Admittedly Amore Alato who was back in second is no world beater but he is rated 137 and Irving made him look very inferior. The shape of this race will surely suit him down to the ground and I’ll be shocked if he is not firmly swinging away at the bottom of the hill. That is the point where the finger nails will get a shearing.

The market suggests that the main dangers come in the form of the two-pronged attack from Willie Mullins trained Vautour and Wicklow Brave. Of the two I think Vautour is more suited to Cheltenham.  He has similar attributes to last years winner Champagne Fever but I can’t help have his run two starts back in the memory when he scraped past Western Boy. If Vautour is a 3/1 chance then Western Boy shouldn’t be 18/1. His win in the Deloitte did nothing for me. Ruby rode them to sleep and whilst some will argue that the last mile was fast, that was clearly aided by the fact the first mile was pedestrian. Wicklow Brave for me is all about speed and his jumping will really come under scrutiny in a race where they are going to go very quick. One mistake might be too many for him. No yard is in better form at the moment than that of Nicky Henderson and the champion trainer has peaked at just the right time after a slow start to the season. NH has both Josses Hill and Vaniteux in the opener. The former was just out stayed by stable mate Royal Boy in the re-routed Tolworth last time (both miles clear of The Liquidator) and I expect a similar story here. Vaniteux has reportedly taken off in the last few weeks having put his disappointing effort at Kempton over Christmas behind him to win at Donny last month. Strictly on that Kempton run and a line through Amore Alato he has an enormous amount to find with Irving. I mentioned the Liquidator who had made a pleasing start to his hurdles career with wins at Carlisle and here at Cheltenham when giving the smart Sea Lord a right good beating. He was blown away though at Kempton and with so much competition for the lead likely here, I struggle to him winning.

I think Gilgamboa could run a big race for AP and JP but he will probably need to run a stone better than his revised mark after his win off 128 in a handicap last time and if there is a single horse that is largely over priced it could be Sgt Reckless for whom the ground could be a big positive and I expect him to run much better than 40/1 suggests he will.

Irving is clearly the selection. If you can get some 3/1 tomorrow then that will do. Both Sgt Reckless and Western Boy are worth backing each way at big prices.

2.05 – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase Grade 1

This is nice and simple for me this year as I am a huge fan of Champagne Fever. He comes here with plenty of festival positives having won the Bumper and the Supreme on his last two visits and I’m confident he can make it three on the bounce. Festival form is always a huge plus. Yes we have to forgive a poor run last time where he belted the second last having set a lightning pace but that can be said about previous visits and he has had the habit of throwing in the odd stinker. Having said that I think he is a spring horse and will relish conditions tomorrow and was delighted with the glint in the eye when Ruby was interviewed this morning. He loves the hill and I expect him with a clean round to be fending them off to the cheers of the crowd. Once the Irish tuck in early doors I think he might go off shorter than 2/1.

Talking of dangers and of festival form that obviously brings Rock On Ruby firmly into the mix having finished first and second in the last two Champion Hurdles. He looked in his match against The New One over hurdles though that he maybe is quite as good now as a nine-year old and having won two egg and spoon novice chases to date I think he has a lot more questions to answer. Trifolium is a really solid danger and will be in plenty of people’s each way bankers and accumulators. He beat Champagne Fever at Christmas but he was suited by the way things panned out there and I would prefer CF round here. I do think he is the main danger here under the excellent Bryan Cooper.

Of the others, Dodging Bullets has done nothing wrong. His defeat at Newbury though shouldn’t be good enough form to win an Arkle. Valdez is 3/3 but will need to improve again and whilst the ground will certainly suit Grandouet, his jumping at pace is not good enough to win a grade one.

Very much hoping that there will be plenty of Champagne Fever in the Arkle!

2.40 – Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase Grade 3

Another race that I nailed myself to the mast of a runner some time ago and things could not have panned out better! I wrote a festival eye catchers preview for http://www.jpfestival.com in the build up to this week and the main feature of that was Jonjo O’Neills ALFIE SHERRIN. He is a horse I know really well as I fell in love with him when he won his first bumper at Chepstow back in 2008. He landed a right touch in this very race for me two years ago and having tucked into the 20/1 ante-post for him here I’m delighted he has got into the race and that he has been very well backed indeed. Ap McCoy has chosen him to ride too which is a huge plus and I really expect a very big run. He is 5lbs higher than when winning the race in 2012 but he has matured an enormous amount. His run in the grade three fixed brush hurdle last time could not have been more eye-catching and I’m very confident of a big run. He is currently best priced 9/1 with @Coral and I think we may see some hefty public money come for him and I expect him to go off a strong favourite.

Alfie Sherrin – Nap of the day @ current 9/1.

3.20 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

What a renewal to look forward too. The ten-year old Hurricane Fly chasing his third Champion Hurdle against the younger brigade, and a very good younger brigade at that! All the way through the season I’ve probably changed my opinion of the likely favourite and the likely winner about ten times. The conclusion I finally arrive at is that this is probably the strongest renewal for some time and in truth there might only be 2-3 lengths between five or six of these! If we go in reverse order of the nine runners. We can put a line through Captain Cee Bee, Grumeti and Ptit Zig who are simply not good enough. Melodic Rendezvouz would be upto this level if we had knee-deep ground to run in, unfortunately for his connections this is not the case so he is also dismissed. The brings us on to the two Irish youngsters in Jezki and Our Connor. I’m convinced we have yet to see the best of Jezki and that there is plenty to come. He has always just come up a length or two short though at the top-level. First time hood is deployed and Barry Geraghty is 4/4 on him so there are positives. Our Connor absolutely routed his rivals in the Triumph last year but conditions will be very different for the Champion this time round. He has been firmly put in his place twice already bu the Fly this season and other than the way the race may pan out there is no obvious reason why he would reverse that form. He is only five mind and still could be improving.

The New One is six now and My Tent Or Yours is seven. There was half a length between them in the Christmas Hurdle after TNO belted the last. That didn’t check his momentum too much though and MTOY was going away at the line. I have to confess to being a big fan of MTOY. I was gutted when he got beat in the Supreme last year, especially as I had a big in running lay in the market at 1.5 thinking he would travel strongly…. well he did and he got matched all the way down to 1.51!! I think he’s a beast. Matured a lot with his racing and I don’t buy into the scenario of him not getting up the hill. If any of them are going to beat the Fly I think it will be My Tent Or Yours. I greatly respect The New One and if he gets beat it won’t be by far.

Hurricane Fly is most people’s idea of the winner and his record fully justifies him being favourite. He may well win again but this is without doubt his toughest test to date and he has been beaten here before. I think reluctantly I will take him on with My Tent Or Yours but this is a race to watch and enjoy. It should be an absolute classic.

Selection – My Tent Or Yours

4.00 – OLBG Mares´ Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares´ Hurdle Race) Grade 2 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Not much to say here other than banker QUEVEGA. She is a different class to these and should be in all your bets and multiples.

4.40 – Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase Amateur Riders´ Novices´ Chase (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (5yo+ –)

Four miles for novice chasers and no hiding place! Touch race to assess in that the front two in the market deserve very much to be there in the form of Foxrock and Shutthefrontdoor. On ratings on what they have achieved so far they both have outstanding claims but as a result they will be fairly short. I respect Suntiep but all of his form has been on very bad ground, he clearly though has stamina in abundance. I like the look here of Alan Kings Midnight Prayer who you can get a nice each way bet on at around 10/1. He will need to improve on his recent efforts but he is a strong travelling type that has hinted that this sort of test could bring about plenty of improvement and the forecast better ground may well bring that into play.

Selection – Midnight Prayer

5.15 – Rewards4Racing Novices´ Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (5yo+ 0-140)

This is a race that is generally won by quite a classy type and  big weights shouldn’t put you off. Ericht heads the weights and has long promised to win one of these big handicaps. I respect Pendra but he is a bit too short really on what he has achieved so I am going to go on a three-pronged attack. Two at big prices we can play each way and then a saver.

The first is OHIO GOLD for the Tizzard team. He has run with credit once or twice this year off similar marks when the yard has been largely quiet. They have now come really good with plenty of winners and he ran really well in this race last year. If he is on a going day then the 25/1 about him tonight is a bit too big in my eyes and he could way out run those odds.

The second is GARDEFORT for Venetia Williams. Very well backed on his British debut last time off a mark of 132 suggests that his opening mark here could be lenient. He made a mid race move after travelling well at Haydock and paid for it quickly. The forecast better ground should be no problem and there is potential that he is going to slip under the radar for this. He is currently 33/1 and in my eyes is probably a 10/1 chance.

I must have a small saver on MANYRIVERSTOCROSS who has hinted a few times that his turn is not far away.

Ohio Gold 1 pt e/w @ 25/1, Gardefort 1 pt e/w @ 33/1 & Manyriverstocross 1 pt win @ 10/1

That just about wraps up what is going to be an absolutely cracking opening day. Fingers crossed that the ante-post positions finally come good for once! Very best of luck all week with your selections! Really not sure how much sleep I am going to get tonight!

All the very best

Mark

@markagrantham

 

Grand National Saturday!

pro5

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

pro5

Thursday 21st March

Proform

Good morning. I hope that everyone is well refreshed after last week. It was an up and down week but a really good Friday made it a nice winning one. Thanks for all your messages regarding Miako on Tuesday. Obviously the initial reaction after the race was disappointment that he had been beaten, but on the face of it he actually ran really well on a surface that was riding much slower than his previous run. He travels like a dream and has the ability to get his rivals off the bridle very quickly. If we just ride him with a tad more restraint he will definitely win off his new mark, hopefully next week!

We have lost Huntingdon today so I have concentrated todays efforts onto the all-weather (no surprises there I hear you shout!) I am so looking forward to the start of the flat season. I do love the jumps but by far my most profitable time of year is the summer! Fingers crossed the horrid snow manages to bypass Doncaster over the next couple of days as it seems the meeting could be in doubt.

I found it hard to pinpoint the best bet of the day today as I fancy three horses quite strong. First one or two interesting stats from Proform. Quite a few trainers with very good win and place strike rates floating about at the moment but by far the most interesting of those are the top four!

Ed Vaughan 83.33% (Clapped 9.00 Kemp)

Marco Botti 68.75% (Camachoice 8.30 Kempton)

James Unett 66.67% (Big Sylv (5.50 Wolverhampton)

Laura Mongan 62.50% (Indy Spirit 6.30 Kempton, Divine Rule 9.00 Kempton)

This leads me on nicely to the first bet of the day which comes right towards the end of the day in the form of CLAPPED (9.00 Kempton). He is a horse that went firmly into the notebook when upped from 6f to a mile and a half on handicap debut last time which he clearly didn’t stay. This may well have been used as an experiment to see how far he would travel as he had been running on strongly over 6. He drops back to a mile tonight for the very in form Ed Vaughan and has been given the first time blinkers to try to eek out a bit of improvement. He definitely looks capable of winning off this mark and looks of real interest at a tasty each way price of 8/1 this evening.

I really like the claims of WILLIAM VAN GOGH (5.50 Wolverhampton). Based on his old form he looks incredibly well handicapped and he has given two clear indications the last twice that he is ready to strike. He wasn’t given the best of rides last time so it may be significant that Graham Gibbons takes over this afternoon. This is a better race than last week but based on his old ability and off such a light weight he is of major interest to me this afternoon and must be backed!

The other one which took my eye today was QUALITY ART (2.30 Wolverhampton). By no means as strong a selection as the first two but he is another one that is very well in on his old turf form to the tune of about 20lbs. He showed a spark last time suggesting that the time is not far away. He is a hold up horse so will need the gaps appear at the right times. The application of first time blinkers are also another factor to eek out a bit of improvement. He is very interesting but has been well found in the market at 7/2 this morning and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went off pretty short!

Tiger Woods looks like a bit of a banker back at Bay Hill this weekend but he is very well found in the market and is generally an 11/4 shot. I hope he wins for everyone that has piled in!

Good luck today! Here is to three winners!!

MG

Proform

 

Cheltenham Festival Day 3

pro5

Well if you’re in front after the first two days then you’re doing well. The over ten lengths on Sprinter Sacre saved the day for me yesterday after I had plenty more seconditis. We are effectively only at half time and we have reached a really pivotal day as I fancy a few strongly this afternoon. Must just touch on The New One who was mightily impressive in winning yesterday. That puts to bed any worry about NTD horses that are running.

1.30 Cheltenham – Jewson Novices Chase

A real interesting opener and the opportunity for the David Pipe trained DYNASTE to enhance his already tall reputation. He has done nothing wrong to date with his last run being a 9l beating of Hadrian’s Approach in the Feltham at Christmas. On a line of that form you would think that Dynaste would have gone very close to winning the RSA yesterday. This is probably a slightly easier task today. The one worry about him would be that all of his form is generally before Christmas. He was beaten out of sight in the World Hurdle last year, but he looks a more mature horse this time round and if he runs to his ability today I think he will win. The main danger is likely to be CAPTAIN CONAN who also comes into this race unbeaten over fences. He had to really scrap to beat Third Intention at Sandown last time which was far from impressive but conditions here are likely to be more to his liking and although I think he will certainly play a part, I have always had a nagging doubt about him at the highest level.

AUPCHARLIE comes in next and he has some interesting form lines that have already produced the goods this week. It was however very disappointing that he was beaten at Naas last time and the fact that One Cool Shabra wasn’t at all far behind him is off-putting. I think a likely big danger could be TEXAS JACK who has been a model of consistency this season. He beat Lord Windermere at Leopardstown before finishing a nose behind Boston Bob last time which at double figure odds makes him a player and a solid each way proposition.

I’ve backed DYNASTE but I have also had a saver on TEXAS JACK.

2.05 Cheltenham – The Pertemps Final

This is a race I really like mainly down to the fact I’ve had some massive winners in it in the past. Today’s favourite comes here very well backed after two very interesting runs this season. SAM WINNER was 5th at Sandown on the back of a year off and was fairly tenderly handled by Ruby and stayed on quite nicely late on. He then went on to win a jumpers bumper at Kempton and comfortably beat Peddlers Cross in the process. Now it is never wise to try to weigh up the marks of horses in those contests but you have to think that he is starting to look a seriously well handicapped horse off 140. He comes here with every chance and the step up in trip has promised to suit for some time but he is quite short now.

SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR is progressive and has been winning by the smallest of margins. He is up another 9lb in a much better race but more improvement is possible under tha champ. CLOSE HOUSE comes here in rude health on the back of an excellent 2nd behind the well handicapped Double Ross he went on to comfortably dispose of Rangitoto at Wincanton in a race where the front two pulled miles clear. He’s up another 7lb but must be considered. TOPOFTHERANGE improved markedly to win really easily at Sandown last time and is only 5lb higher today. He is another for the short list and BET365 are really sticking their necks out this morning and going 16/1 about him which is too big! HOLLYWELL is up another 5lbs for another solid 2nd last time. He’s now gone up 21lbs in the weights without winning which is incredibly harsh and he is likely to give you another cracking run for your money at a big price.

I have to give one more chance today to CAPTAIN SUNSHINE. Most of you know the bad luck stories we’ve had with this fella and I must admit I would be a lot more comfortable if we had a different jockey. I’m not going to slag off Dominic Elsworth, he is simply just not my cup of tea and this game is all about opinions. He is definitely capable of winning off this mark but sometimes has his own ideas about things. If he jumps off this race could really suit him and I think he’ll go well.

I’ve backed Sam Winner ante-post so I will play up on Captain Sunshine and Close House for a profit.

2.40 Cheltenham – The Ryanair Chase

Really looking forward to this today. Probably the best renewal we have had in my opinion. Several of these would be near the top of the Gold Cup market and would be each way players there. We all know by now how much I love CUE CARD even though he has never really won me any reddies. I’m sure he will run another cracker here today but I do just worry that something may out stay him up the hill in what could be a cracking finish. The rock solid one is FIRST LIETENANT for Mouse Morris. His form in the Hennessy and Lexus is by far the best on offer this season and he would surely have gone to the Gold Cup with a massive chance. If he runs to form here today I think he will be very hard to beat indeed. The market reflects that now as he is a very well backed 9/4 favorite. Last years winner RIVERSIDE THEATRE comes here on the back of only one run this season in the King George. He will need to be cherry ripe to follow-up but you certainly wouldn’t rule him out. Martin Keighley’s horses are running very well and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Champion Court run a big race and on ground he loves ALBERTAS RUN could be very hard to pass.

All in all this is going to be a cracker. My heart wants CUE CARD to win and I will have a sentimental bet on him but on all form I do think that FIRST LIETENANT will be very very hard to beat and should be backed.

3.20 Cheltenham – Ladbrokes World Hurdle

No Big Bucks this year so this makes the World Hurdle a very attractive betting race. Quite clearly the best horse in the race is Oscar Whiskey and by some way in my opinion. the problem for him comes in the form of the trip and if this track actually suits him. If this race was over 2.5 miles he would be odds on. As it is that extra half a mile makes things very different indeed. The better ground will certainly help him in that respect but I’m still not convinced he will see it out in what is likely to be a fastly run race.

REVE DE SIVOLA has blossomed since returning to hurdles and comes here on the back of two solid victories, including beating Oscar Whiskey here last time. He is without doubt a mud lover though so today’s quicker conditions may not be ideal for him. He should run his usual solid race and be in the mix. Similar sentiments go to BOG WARRIOR who has had an excellent season back over hurdles in Ireland. He has never struck me as a grade one winner though and I would worry about him in here. SOLWHIT has been well backed but would need to improve to turn the tables on Bog Warrior from two starts back. The real interesting ones are SMAD PLACE and WONDERFUL CHARM. Smad Place is very good on his day but has largely had a disappointing season. Both his poor efforts this year have been on bad ground however and he is definitely a horse that appreciates a firmer surface. If he reproduced his form from this race last year he will be bang in the mix. Wonderful Charm is completely unexposed having only had one start in this country when bolting up in the Persian War at Chepstow. He would still need to find something on paper to get involved but there is no knowing how good he could be and is a fascinating runner. Get Me Out Of Here goes well here and if he sees out the three miles has to be a player too.

A cracking race. I have backed Smad Place and Wonderful Charm. If RDS continues to drift I may have a bit on him too.

4.00 Cheltenham – Byrne Group Plate

At last time to let the shoulders go with my best bet of the week. I have been waiting for CANTLOW to go over three miles for some time and he has been absolutely teed up for a big handicap. All three starts over fences have come over much shorter and as a result he gets in here off 143. Paul Webber’s charge was a very good third in the Pertempts final last year so brings festival form to the table. He is a bigger, stronger horse this year and his chase rating completely underestimates his ability. I’m sure he is going to be an out-and-out stayer and this has been the plan for some time. The presence of HUNT BALL means he only has to carry 10-12 which is probably why this race was chosen as his option. I think he will run a massive race and I’ve had 5 pts on each way.

I do massively respect HUNT BALL who travelled very well for a long way in ground he would have hated last time. He is a massive player back on decent ground and will surely trade quite short in running so is an obvious back to lay proposition. I will have to save on him and will look to green up in running. It is just pure guess-work when trying to work out how good BALLYNAGOUR could be. He has a 20lb penalty to deal with on the back of his facile victory at Warwick. That may underestimate his ability but it is pure guess-work and he is a massive player for sure.

VINO GRIEGO has gone up 17lb for his two easy wins and comes here in rude health. Although his is likely to run his race again he may find this a little tougher. Poquelin always runs his race on this course and is a big price.

This is a race that revolves around the front of the market. I am a massive Cantlow fan and he is just about my strongest opinion of the week. I will be looking to play on Hunt Ball and Ballynagour in various ways to ensure a profit. COME ON CANTLOW!!!!

4.40 Cheltenham – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

Wide open.  A race that is fiendishly difficult to win. No surprise that I like the look of ALFIE SHERRIN. He did me a massive turn in the JLT last year and he has been running on ground that wouldn’t have suited so far this year. This will be much more his cup of tea and he can take this on route to winning the Grand National! (We can dream being on at ridiculous prices). Two big dangers though in this race could be the improving ROMANESCO under the excellent Nina Carberry and NO SECRETS off bottom weight for David Pipe and Katie Walsh who is a real eye-catching booking!

I’ll be cheering on Alfie Sherrin with side bets on Romanesco and No Secrets.

My thoughts about the Cross Country if it goes ahead are exactly the same as Tuesday and I will be cheering on Alex Hammond in the charity race aboard Mica Mika!

Hopefully the day today where we fly into a big profit! Be lucky, back plenty of winners and come on CANTLOW!!

MG

Proform

Cheltenham Festival Day 2

Proform

What a thrilling start to the week yesterday with Hurricane Fly taking the feature and regaining the Champion Hurdle crown to ecstatic scenes in the stands as the well backed favorite flew up the Cheltenham hill.It wasn’t all plain sailing as Ruby looked far from happy as they reached the top of the hill after a good pace had been set by Rock On Ruby. I was surprised to see on reflection that the Champion was 4 seconds slower than the Supreme Novice Hurdle won by Champagne Fever earlier on the card. Similar scenes also followed 35 minutes later when Quevega overcame tripping and nearly losing Ruby Walsh at the top of the hill to power through the field and win her 5th mares hurdle on the bounce. She is remarkable but I can’t help but think about what if…………World Hurdle?

Simonsig was a fairly comfortable winner of the Arkle in a much less impressive fashion than was anticipated. It is the least fluent I’ve seen him jump but I just think this was down to how quick they went. He looks a surefire Gold Cup horse of the future for me.

We move onto day two and a day that looks like a winnable card.

JOHN OAKSEY NATIONAL HUNT CHASE – 1.30 Cheltenham

Judging by the state of the ground today this is really going to take some getting and could be a real slog. Don’t be surprised if there aren’t many finishers. I have to confess to think that the two horses at the front of the market are absolutely bomb proof and are the likely winners. Both BACK IN FOCUS and BUDDY BOLERO come here with solid credentials. Both strong travelers that jump and stay well they come here with all the right attributes  and I’m sure one or the other will win.

It’s not highly original as they are best priced 3/1 and 9/2 but I will be splitting stakes on them in a hope to get a flyer on day two.

NEPTUNE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT NOVICES´ HURDLE – 2.05 Cheltenham

A fascinating renewal for the staying novices and a potential high-class one too. Must start with a horse I am very fond of in the form of PONT ALEXANDRE for the Mullins/Walsh combination that had three winners on day one. He comes here with a tall reputation, but that is a reputation that has been backed up thus far. He has been beating horses rated in the high 130’s+ with consummate ease and he is surely going to be very difficult to beat here with conditions and the track likely to suit. The way Ruby talks about him reminds me of the way he used to talk about Kauto in the early days. He could be very good indeed and I think he is a worthy and solid favorite.

Although I think Pont Alexandre will win I have to say that I am also very interested in RULE THE WORLD who has looked every bit a high-class hurdler himself to date. If your after a solid each way bet in the race then he is definitely it at about 7/1 as I write this on Tuesday evening. His form was given a real boost yesterday when Champagne Fever won the Supreme as he gave him a pasting last time out. On that evidence he should be second favorite and therefore must represent plenty of each way value at 7/1. The shrewdies will be out in force to mop this price up overnight I’m sure.

TAQUIN DE SEUIL comes here with every chance after a bloodless win in the Challow last time. His form was also given a boost when My Tent Or Yours ran so well in the Supreme yesterday. On that line of form though you would say on balance that Rule The World may have his measure. THE NEW ONE will have plenty of supporters again tomorrow but he was put in his place by At Fishers Cross last time and the health of the yard would have to be a major worry.

I think that Pont Alexandre will be very hard to beat and I will be having 4 points on him but also must back Rule The World  each way as a saver tonight at 7/1 as I’m convinced he should be second fav.

RSA CHASE – 2.40 Cheltenham

Just about my best bet of the day today will come in the form of Paul Nicholls UNIONISTE in the RSA. He was a very impressive winner of a grade 3 handicap before Christmas off a mark of 143. He followed that up by beating Hadrian’s Approach at Newbury and is better off with that rival at the weights today being the only five-year old in the race. Having only had four starts over fences in this country there is untold potential there and I think he will be very hard to beat.

Boston Bob is a viable alternative for the Irish Challenge but i think the fact Ruby opts for Unioniste is significant. Boston Bob has looked like a dour stayer in the making and so conditions will be up his street. I just worry that there maybe one or two that have too much speed for him at the business end. He looks nailed on to be a Grand National horse to me.

Clear preference is for UNIONISTE and I will be having 5 pts win @ around 7/2.

QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE – 3.20 Cheltenham

Not too much to report here other than to sit back with a cup of tea and watch one of the most exciting jumpers you will ever see be crowned champion. I was lucky enough to be there the day MASTER MINDED thrashed his field in 2008 and I think you might see something similar today. If there are any “how far” markets I will be very interested in the overs as I think today might be the day we see the hand brake taken off. On a side note I am interested to see how Mail De Bierve goes.

THE CORAL CUP – 4.00 Cheltenham

An absolute minefield for punters and we are likely to see 7 or 8/1 the field. There are plenty of concessions available though and most firms are going 5 places so there is lots of scope for some value.

We’ll start at the obvious point of PENDRA who has been at the top of the betting for this since his very good second to Melodic Rendezvous at Sandown last time. Unfortunately the winner didn’t take his place in the Supreme yesterday so we don’t know the strength of the form. The other line through Puffin Billy now looks just fair and you can pick holes in his Plumpton win. ABBEY LANE has been very well backed on the back of the Mullins/Walsh three timer yesterday and will come here with an obvious chance after a convincing win in the Boylesports Hurdle last time. He is up a stone for that win in a better race which means I would be inclined to look elsewhere.

Not being overly convinced by the front of the market means that there must be some value elsewhere (we hope). Cash and Go has been disappointing for me and he needs to improve markedly to be considered. Master Of The Sea is up another 12lbs (52 in total) on his quest for a five timer. This could be a step too far and I would be worried about the yard so that means we have ruled out the top four in the market, which could be very shrewd or very stupid.

As always I will be throwing several arrows at this race in the hope of picking up a tidy profit. The first of those darts is the Irish raider UN BEAU MATIN who is a general 16/1 chance. He is a lightly raced five-year old that ran a cracker in a grade 2 last time that suggests to me that he might be on a feasible mark. Conditions should suit and he will form the first part of my profile. Second dart at the treble twenty is ERICHT who seems to be a new horse all of a sudden. His win off 122 last time was impressive and was greeted with a 12lb handshake from Sir Handicapper. Gary Derwin’s excellent 10lb claim largely offsets that rise in the weights and he must be of major interest in here and is a whopping 16/1. The more I look at this race the more I fancy him. He does have his quirks and may well throw in a stinker, but he looked like a horse at Kempton that had turned a corner and he is much too big a price.

I’m not sure who the man with the mic is tomorrow but I’m sure they have prepared a line for BONDAGE. He will need to have improved since he was last seen to be winning off 145 but the break of three months may well have been just what he needed. I think Carberry will be a good partner too and also at 16/1 he has to be part of the portfolio.

The last one I am going to add is BLACK THUNDER who is definitely capable of winning off this mark and I think the undulations of Prestbury Park are perfect for him. He’s a strong stayer as we saw at Haydock when Ruby was livid with himself for letting the leaders get away. He was messed about last time at Kempton and Harry Derham was not overly hard on him. Daryl Jacob takes over and the 35/1 available on Betfair is as Dizzee Rascal would say……B B B B B  B BONKERS.

A four pronged attack.

ERICHT @ 16/1, UN BEAU MATIN @ 16/1, Bondage @ 16/1, Black Thunder 1 pt e/w @ 33/1!

FRED WINTER JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE – 4.40 Cheltenham

This looks an absolute punting minefield unless you have a strong view on a particular runner. There are many unexposed runners in this race. The two that I liked the look of the most were COUNSEL and MEGALYPOS with slight preference for the latter who looks completely unexposed having only had one start in this country on terrible ground at Chepstow. He could be very interesting indeed and would be my overall selection.

WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER – 5.15

It is very rare that I come into this race with a strong opinion but I have to say I was just about the most taken I have ever been with a bumper horse when I watched in amazement how easily REGAL ENCORE won at Chepstow back in October. He looks like a bit of a machine and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th from that race all have so fair form in the book since that race. He’s about a 9/1 chance tonight and will be my only bet in the race.

Another cracking day in prospect and hopefully loads of winners along the way!

Enjoy and be lucky!

MG

Proform

Cheltenham Festival Day One

pro5

Well yesterday was one of the worst days of my life! I left Coral TV Towers in Milton Keynes at 5.30pm full of anticipation and excitement for today and went on to endure an epic 12 and a half hour drive back to Brighton! I had no idea there had  been any snow let alone the amount that had fallen. I slept for about 3 hours through the night on the M23 completely stranded with thousands of other drivers. The ploughs finally got through at about 4am and I made it home just after 6am. This is one start to a festival I will never forget!

 The time has finally arrived for the best week of the calendar year! Good luck to everyone and hopefully we can top last year which was our best festival yet!

1.30 CHELTENHAM – WILLIAM HILL SUPREME NOVICES´ HURDLE

The roar will greet us at 1.30 with the usual tough punting opener to get the festival underway. My Tent Or Yours is the obvious starting point and is currently trading at around 6/4. I think you just have to take a view on him and stick to it. There is no doubt that he was incredibly impressive in the Betfair Hurdle last time, winning easily off 149. The right horses were in behind him that day too as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th will all end up much better than their current marks. He’s a strong traveller and I have no doubt he will get to the bottom of the hill tanking along, the question will be will he get up it?

The second favourite is the unbeaten Irish raider Jezki who now also races in the colours of JP McManus. He has done nothing wrong at all in beating Waaheb (who has been disappointing) and Champagne Fever in his last two starts but I do just have a nagging doubt about him against top quality opposition. There is an interesting stat that goes against him too. Everyone of the last ten winners of this race had raced in the last 53 days. Jezki last raced 75 days ago. He is a sure-fire 3mile plus chaser of the future and at 4/1 I am happy to let him go. MELODIC RENDEZVOUS has today been confirmed as a non-runner. A major blow for the yard as he would have come here with every chance. Un Atout is next in the market and he is also unbeaten. On all of his starts to date he has done everything on the bridle and has looked potentially a little one paced. He will certainly need further than this in time and I can see him getting readily outpaced before staying on, I think the bird may have flown though so I am happy to let him run.

Champagne Fever will probably make the running but looks to lack a gear and is likely to be a sitting duck up the hill. Are you seeing a theme here? Yes I don’t like the Irish raiders who are 2nd,3rd and 4th favourites. This means there must be some value elsewhere! Dodging Bullets has course form, conditions will suit and has probably gone overlooked after his run in the Christmas Hurdle. That was a messy race however and there was no disgrace in being beaten by Darlan who in my opinion would have won the Champion Hurdle. He is currently about a 11/1 chance and must have very solid each way credentials. River Maigue hasn’t done much wrong but has had his limitations exposed by both Dodging Bullets and Far West. Puffin Billy should get a truly run race and has every chance of being involved in the finish. Cause of Causes will need a miracle to turn the form around with My Tent Or Yours. PIQUE SOUS would have been of major interest to me had we ended up with better ground. As most of you will now I backed him ante-post on Betfair at a ridiculous price so I have that voucher running for me. Cheltenian could surprise a lot of people and is probably over priced at 33/1.

So to sum up I do think that MY TENT OR YOURS will be incredibly hard to beat and if he is anywhere near 9/4 this morning I will back him. Of the others Dodging Bullets probably represents the best each way value and I believe William Hill are paying five places.

MY TENT OR YOURS 3pts win @ 9/4 or better

DODGING BULLETS 1 pt each way @ 11/1 with William Hill

2.05 CHELTENHAM – RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE

In my eyes one of the races I am looking forward to the most over the four days. SIMONSIG is one of my favorite horses in training and he is a jumping machine. He will get a true test over fences for the first time tomorrow with the challenge of the very smart OVERTURN who brings plenty of very good credentials to the table. I’m convinced that Simonsig is a future Gold Cup horse. He is absolutely electric over his fences and I think we might see something very special here. the presence of Overturn if anything will help Simonsig as he has such a high cruising speed. I think he will win comfortably and although the price is pretty prohibitive there will be plenty of interesting markets to play on this race.

I’m not sure I’ll be playing a single at 8/13 but he will definitely be going in a couple of doubles/trebles through the week.

SIMONSIG 5 pts win @ 8/13

2.40 CHELTENHAM – JLT SPECIALTY HANDICAP CHASE

One of my favorite races of the whole week and the race that I peaked very early on day one last year after telling everyone that I though Alfie Sherrin would win last year at 33/1 in the days leading up to the race. I took a massive bow to the crowd in the parade ring after the race and did a little dance after he hacked up.

My biggest opinion on this race has just been thrown a curve ball as I thought it was absolutely ideal for CANTLOW. He has been completely tee’d up for a handicap and has been crying out for 3 miles. He has just been taken out of the race which is gutting. He has entries in the Kim Muir where he will have to carry top weight and the Byrne Group Plate which may not be far enough.

OUR MICK is the favourite at 6/1. He looks like he is potentially well in but he’s had one start since last year where he unseated in the race one by Katenko when still going well three out. He doesn’t represent any value but will probably go very close! Fruity O Rooney was second in this race last year and has run with real credit all starts this time round. A very good seventh in the Hennessy before solid efforts behind the very well handicapped Katenko the last twice. He will undoubtedly run his race again but may be vulnerable to a better handicapped rival. THE PACKAGE is another one that is feasibly weighted and will probably run his usual solid race but again may find one or two too good.

LOCH BA has benefited from the switch to Mick Channon after Henrietta’s retirement. He is a horse that I backed on several occasions last year believing he wa well in and he didn’t really produce. He was a ready winner last time and although he is up 12lbs in the weights he has been given a nice break since to freshen him up and he will come here with every chance. He must go well and is of interest.

MERRY KING will have every chance and looked again last time like a horse that is possibly still ahead of the handicapper. He has really solid credentials and I think he will run a massive race and go very close.

POOLE MASTER is a potential flyer that has been running over the wrong trip in small field races. He smells of a typical Pipe plot horse for the festival and the 33/1 about him this morning is enormous.

Of the other ones at a big price the two that I think are overpriced are MIDNIGHT CHASE and NUTS N BOLTS. The former needs no introduction. He has a cracking course record and he has come down the weights quite a lot this year so could run a big one. Nuts N Bolts has won two small races on bad ground and is only seven pounds higher here today and might run well at a massive price.

LOCH BA – 2 pts win @ 12/1 generally

MERRY KING 2 pts win @ 7/1

MIDNIGHT CHASE, POOLE MASTER & NUTS AND BOLTS 1 pt win @ 33/1 on all three.

3.20 CHELTENHAM – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Another very good renewal of the Champion with the last three winners all looking to regain the crown! It is a race however that I think revolves around the front two in the market. Pace is a big question, there is every chance we could get a repeat of last year where Rock On Ruby makes it at a sedate pace. This time around though I’m sure all of the other jocks will be wise to the tactic especially Ruby. I’ve no doubt that HURRICANE FLY is the best horse in the race and if he produces his best today I think he will win. His main danger will be the very tough ZARKANDER who is a real stayer over this trip and I would imagine that Daryl will be upsides Noel Fehily as the tapes go up as he will not want a muddling pace. If these two do go on and we get a decent pace I think that the fly will pick them up. If it becomes tactical I think Zarkander will grind it out. I will be backing Hurricane Fly before the race and I will have my finger on the button in running to see how things pan out over the first half mile.

I still have my Ante-Post voucher on Cinders and Ashes who has been largely disappointing this season. The ground has probably gone against him again here today but it’s another string in the bow. The ground is also a blow for GRANDOUET who I must admit I probably would have been quite keen on were we racing on good ground. He will travel but I’m not sure he will be able to pick up on this dead ground. Although I’m not really one for listening to rumours especially from Henderson, there has been more negative talk than West Ham going to Stratford so I’m happy to leave alone.

HURRICAN FLY 3 pts win

ZARKANDER 1 pt saver and potential in running play.

4.00 Cheltenham – Glenfarclas Handicap Chase

The cross-country chase is not my favourite event of the week and I don’t really get too involved if I am honest. I do think that ARABELLA BOY will run and big race and give you a decent round for your money though.

ARABELLA BOY – 2 pts win.

4.40 Cheltenham – OLBG Mares´ Hurdle

The Admiral mare QUEVEGA turns up twice a year and wins twice a year. Simple as that. She is in a different league to her rivals and will be winning again this afternoon. The team must have been very tempted to have a tilt at the world hurdle with the defection of Big Bucks. They have opted to stay with what they know though and she is just a different class to her own sex. I will take great joy in watching her win again.

One of my favourite horses in training is the lovely grey mare KENTFORD GREY LADY. Emma Lavelle’s charge is a model on consistency and the hurley burly of this race really suits her too as she travels very strongly and does most of it on the bridle. I had a decent wedge on her without the favourite last year and I will be doing the same again today! I think Une Artiste is opposable in this better field and although I massively respect the hugely improved SWING BOWLER, this may just be a race too far for her this season.

QUEVEGA 5 pts win @ 4/6

KENTFORD GREY LADY without the favourite 2 pts @ 13/2 with Paddy Power

Chuck in a stright forecast for good measure.

5.15 Cheltenham – Rewards4Racing Novices´ Handicap Chase

An absolute belter to end day one and I think my best value bet of the day goes here in the form of the very progressive ARTHURS PASS. Things really couldn’t have panned out better for Tom George’s charge after he racked up a quick hat-trick in small field events around Leicester and Ludlow. The last of those three wins came just twelve days ago and as a result he gets in here off second bottom weight. He won easily last time and only has a 7lb rise to contend with here which makes him of obvious interest under the guidance of Paddy Brennan. This is a different ball game all together but to me he looks very progressive and I think he has been laid out for this! A real solid each way investment is needed.

Lots of dangers in here not least the likely favourite COLOUR SQUADRON. He went on the interesting list after an interesting ride last time at Exeter where AP didn’t seem overly keen to be winning on him. Regular followers will know that he is a horse I have said for some time that will win a big one. I backed him at the festival last year. He could run a massive race and the 6/1 is an accurate reflection of his chances.

The ground may well have gone against CARLITO BRIGANTE who is a model of consistency and loves it here. The Druids Nephew may struggle with this step up in class whilst SHANGANI has been mopping up in small field events and is another who is still on a potentially attractive mark and he should be backed.

ARTHURS PASS 3 pts each way @ 20/1 with StanJames

SHANGANI 2 pts win @8/1

COLOUR SQUADRON 2 pts win @6/1

News just coming through that racing goes ahead which is terrific. Well I hope you all have a blinder today. I have just about woken up properly from my epic night. Fingers crossed plenty of winners today! Less than three hours until the roar!

Be lucky!

MG

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