Saturday’s don’t come much better…..

Proform

If you are a fan of sport then weekends don’t really get much better than what the next 48 hours will throw up. A massive day for thousands of football fans who will be trawling the nation hoping for that vital win or draw that may secure promotion, the playoffs or to see off relegation. I must send a special note to all of my home town pals that have headed up to Forest today to cheer on the Albion. I give them a hard time but for the record, I hope the seagulls will fly today (and if Burnley aren’t too hungover maybe they could beat Reading too).

Racing for me though must take centre stage today with the first classic of the season the highlight as we get to see what could be the strongest renewal of the 2000 Guineas for several years. Without any financial ante-post involvement I thought it would just be a race to enjoy but I have to say that the 2/1 plus that you can get about Kingman this morning does look incredibly tempting. Whilst I respect the chances of several of his main rivals he is surely over priced. I’m hoping we may be treated to something special this afternoon. Whilst talking about the Guineas and being over priced, I do think that Outstrip will do just that to his price this afternoon. Yes he has plenty to find on paper but I’ve no doubt he will be better than what we have seen. My main worry with him is the yard form. They are just not firing yet. Still he should not be 28/1 and might shock a few each way.

OK time for some stats for the day from Proform. These are the trainers with runners today that have a win and place strike rate of over 50% that have had more than 10 runners in the last 14 days….

A P O’Brien 68.42% (19 runners)

Ralph Beckett 62.50% (24 runners)

William Haggas 61.11 (18 runners)

Michael Dods 60% (15 runners)

Nicky Henderson 57.14%   (28 runners)

Andrew Balding 56.25% (32 runners)

Clive Cox 55.56% (18 runners)

Dermot Weld 52.63% (19 runners)

The standout stat that today’s report offers is that William Haggas has sent out 18 runners in the last 14 days…… 9 of them have won. A 50% strike rate and a yard that are in scintillating form. Today he sends out Rock Choir (2.05), Ertijaal (3.50), Mutakayyef (5.00), Yenhaab (5.35), Scrutiny (6.45).

The list of eye-catchers running today seems to be endless so we will spin through them quickly.

First up we have STAND MY GROUND (2.05 Newm) who was a real eye catcher on his re-appearance when traveling very well through the spring mile, just failing to get to Brae Hill. He has gone up 5lbs for that effort but that potentially still leaves him on a nice mark for this and the 16/1 is much too big imo. He stayed this trip well in France and Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle. In the same race I am excited to see BIG BAZ on turf. He is, I am sure, well treated off 85 and may well improve for the switch to turf. I would be luke warm on both of their chances this afternoon.

ZEYRAN (2.25 Thirsk) has always been well-regarded and would have gone close to winning on his first start for Hugo Palmer but for meeting interference on the run in. That form actually has a nice shape to it and I think he will be better than 82. He is a cracking each way bet at 6/1 with SportingBet. Crowleys Law has been very well backed at the head of the market.

ABSOLUTELY SO (2.55 Good) probably should have won 2 of his last 3 on the all-weather. He is nudged up another 3lbs this afternoon but there could be more progression on the turf and he is definitely interesting. In the same race JACK’S REVENGE is a victim of his own consistency as he continues to climb the ratings without winning. His effort in the Lincoln was eye-catching though and he could be ready to pounce. At 4/1 and 7/1 respectively I would take the two against the field.

WASEEM FARIS (3.30 Good) Should not have run last time having got loose on the way to the start. He is out of the weights this afternoon but with Daniel Cremin claiming 7lbs he will feel like he is running loose again this afternoon. The 12/1 about him is an insult to his actual chance. He is a 5/1 shot in my book.

The Thirsk Hunt Cup at 3.40 looks an absolute belter! There are two in here that I am very keen on and we will go two against the field. The first of them is NORSE BLUES who absolutely loves it around here. He would potentially need a career best to win this today but I think he is capable. His re-appearance run was really eye-catching and I am sure you will get a very solid run for your money. The second dart to throw comes in the form of FORT BASTIAN. Formerly with Richard Hannon the son of Lawman is potentially thrown in here off a mark of 91. Now with Ruth Carr this is just the type of horse she excels with. On his re-appearance run here he showed glimmers of returning to form. He was then given an interesting ride at Haydock next time. I think today has been the plan from the get go. They are 8/1 and 10/1 and should both be bang in the mix.

Excited to see BETWEEN WICKETS (4.40 Good) again after a really taking debut. He is odds on now so no sort of price, hope he wins well.

BUTE HALL (5.45 Donc) is edging up the weights but smacks me of a horse on the upgrade. Today’s step up in trip is an interesting move as he travels really well through his races. The market may have again underestimated his chance this afternoon and the 8/1 is worthy.

Not sure if today will be the day but HALF A BILLION (7.15 Donc) remains on the interesting list. The yard is also in very good form at the moment so he should be taken seriously at double figure odds this evening.

As you can see from the above it is likely to be a very busy day. Unfortunately for me I will be watching everything on catch up and the cricket pitch is calling. Hoping for a cracking day’s sport mind and fingers crossed the Guineas unearths another superstar too.

Two wins already so far this season for the hammers over the spuds. A home win today will put a small shine on what has been yet another tough season to be a die hard West Ham fan. Come on boys……give us those bragging rights! COYI

Enjoy a great day

MG

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Friday’s blog and action!

Proform

It’s amazing how quickly 2014 is progressing. Feels like only yesterday the Christmas tree was coming down, now we are just 24 hours away from the first classic of the year. Point to note…. there is an awful lot of rubbish being spoken about the ground at Newmarket ahead of the weekend. Just ignore it all and you will be fine! Kingman is 7/4 on the Betfair Sports book. That is surely too big.

Just a quick note on the horses yesterday. Eddiemaurice was a non runner so will stay on the keep an eye on list for now. Of the other two Petergate shaped very nicely and will definitely be winning. He travelled very strongly through the race but in hindsight was beaten by such a well handicapped horse that he would have won with me on his back clutching a barrel of Harvey’s finest ale. NOTED.

Whilst writing this I am still cursing not having a life changer on Ronnie in the snooker. I thought about it for some time beforehand but the price was just too skinny. He is currently taking Hawkins apart similar to the way that I would dismantle a curry.

OK time for some Proform stats for trainers with runners today…..

Top win and place strike rates last 14 days (over 50%)

Warren Greatrex 78.57% (14 runners)

Nicky Henderson 64.29% (28 runners)

Gary Moore 62.50% (24 runners)

Ralph Beckett 61.54% (26 runners)

William Haggas 57.89% (19 runners)

Andrew Balding 54.84 (31 runners)

Win strike rates over 30% last ten days you can add Ben Case to that list….

Ok on to today’s action and we have one or two from the interesting list to throw into the mix.

NAP

Today’s nap comes in the form of GIANTSTEPSAHEAD (5.20 Lingfield) for Denis Quinn and Jack Mitchell. I am convinced he is a well handicapped horse on what we have seen so far. The son of Footstepsinthesand comes here on the back of a break of 237 days having last been seen at Wolverhampton over a mile and a half in September. He was very well backed that day (yes we were on) and he got soundly beaten by nine lengths into second. Now on face value that might not be so encouraging but the winner that day was ROYAL ALCOR who was absolutely trotting up off a mark of 65 and is now rated 81 so he had every right to be winning well. Giantstepsahead has had another winter to strengthen up and grow into his frame and he has shaped like this ten furlong trip might just be ideal. He rates as NAP material and if you can get some of the 5/1 or 9/2 about that is lovely.

NB

Today’s NB is the James Fanshawe trained GREEN MONKEY (4.45 Lingfield). Up a total of 18lbs for his three victories at the back-end of last season he looks the type to continue progressing this year. The initial wide draw of nine is no longer a concern as there are now three non runners so he is effectively in six. The market has been made by a gamble on Port Alfred. I can’t have any confidence about any of the horses coming out of Charlie Appleby’s at the moment. Some of them are running too bad to be true. We can get some 5/2 about Green Monkey who is also in the Timeform 50 to follow for the year…….

Noted runners

Just one or two other notes. CHOISAN (4.40 Mussle) looks like he is being lined up for a punt. His form over further than a mile and a half is a concern so I wouldn’t be totally convinced that today is the day but he is worth backing.

NORWEIGAN REWARD (2.05 Lingfield) is thrown in on his old form after a lengthy absence. Fallon has been booked so if the money comes for him that could tell its own story.

Finally I thought I should give a mention to SWAMPFIRE (3.10 Lingfield). Given the form of the yard at present (Gary Moore) and the fact that on his old form he would pick these up and carry them he could just be too big a price. His recent form has not been anywhere near good enough but this is a drop into 0-65 for the first time (was rated 99 early on). The 16’s and 14’s in places this morning could look massive value later on IF he hasn’t given up on the game altogether.

Busy day, hope you enjoy. All usual re-tweets appreciated.

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 Festival Day 3 – Big Buck’s or Girl power?

Proform

I can’t really complain about the way day two panned out in the end as the day went really well. So pleased with Sire De Grugy. The 3/1 was an enormous price, I just hope that plenty of you managed to get on. The scenes in the winners enclosure were brilliant. So chuffed for the Moore team. I know some of the team closely and they really deserve a big race champion. What the jockeys did for Jamie was a touch of class. I’m sure Mattie Batch who has been associated with the yard since he was a kid was the ring leader. Hit the crossbar again with Smad Place, Katgary and Orgilgo Bay but shouldn’t grumble.

1.30 – JLT Novices´ Chase (Registered As The Golden Miller Novices´ Chase) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

The penultimate race at the festival that I have a decent standing ante-post position in the form of Paul Nicholls WONDERFUL CHARM. A smart hurdler that has really taken well to fences. His jumping is fluent and accurate and he seems to stay well so a strong gallop at this intermediate trip will really suit. I made my ante-post move after he tried to give 8lbs to Oscar Whiskey in a race that Barry Geraghty dictated from the front. Oscar Whiskey’s speed and the weight allowance gave him the edge that day but I fully expect Wonderful Charm to turn the tables today. Felix Younger is respected as danger, I do wonder if there may be one or two too quick for him on this ground. Taquin De Seuil may want slightly softer ground but is certainly respected as the setup of the race will suit and Vukovar is completely un-exposed.

I really like WONDERFUL CHARM and he is a strong selection.

2.05 – Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle) (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

I wrote an ante-post piece on this race for JPFestival.com. One of my selections is a non runner the other will go with every chance at that is JOSIES ORDERS for Jonjo O’Neill. A rapid improver over the last few months and has been given a break of 48 days since laughing at his rivals at Huntingdon. The son of Milan will need to improve again but with Maurice Linehan on board taking off 5lbs he gets a nice racing weight here and he must have a huge each way shout at 14/1.

There is no doubting the potential class in the race lies with Phillip Hobbs as he will saddle the Exeter first and second FINGAL BAY and IF IN DOUBT. They both have excellent claims. Fingal bay on his day is very classy indeed. He gave Simonsig a beating at Sandown back in 2011. A revised mark of 148 is by no means beyond him and I expect him to run a massive race. If In Doubt I really like. I backed him at Kempton when behind the rapid improver Saphire De Reu. Tom O Brien did not pick up his stick at Exeter and today is very much the day for him. McCoy will be getting the shaleylee out this time around for sure. My only question mark about him is the ground. If he goes on it, he goes very very close.

Being such a competitive race I must throw in a couple at big prices. I would love to see LIE FORRIT run well but this may be too much for him now. I like the chances at big prices of both UTOPIE DES BORDES and ON THE BRIDGE. UDB may seem like the Henderson second string with jockey bookings but I’m not so sure. Back from a break after a couple of runs on desperate ground, she is back to the mark where she ran a blinder behind Gevrey Chanbertin at Haydock bakc in November and she will love this better ground. OTB was a rapid improver last summer, will love the ground and wouldn’t have to improve too much more to take a major hand. There could be some big prices floating around on the exchanges about these two.

Selections:

Josies Orders e/w with savers on Fingal Bay/If In Doubt

Back both Utopie Des Bordes and On the Bridge at big prices on Betfair and in the place market.

2.40 – Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy Chase)

A race that for me is fairly straight forward. DYNASTE for me brings by far the best piece of form to the table with his run in the Betfair Chase. We can forgive him his run in the King George as he reportedly pulled muscles that day. If he returns to his best, he will reverse the form from last years Jewson with Benefficient and win. I will be having a money back saver on AL FEROF as he is very classy on his day and he rarely runs a bad race here. If you are looking to back one at a big price then I do think RAJDHANI EXPRESS is likely to out-run his odds.

Strong bet on DYNASTE with a saver on Al Ferof.

3.20 – Ladbrokes World Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Well the feature of day three is a mouth-watering clash between the people’s champion in Big Bucks and the new girl on the block in Annie Power. I’ve no doubt that AP will go off a very short price favourite. She is clearly very very good as her unbeaten record shows. The main question about her is if she will get the three miles in a championship race up the hill. To give you an idea how good she is as far as mares go, last March she beat Glens Melody (2nd to Quevega in mares race on Tuesday) twelve lengths without coming off the bridle over two and a half miles. I think she will probably get the trip. Big Buck’s is just all class. He undoubtedly needed the run in the Cleeve and will come on a bundle for that. If he retains all his ability this will be another great finish. Paul Nicholls is very bullish, as always.

I’m not as convinced as everyone else is that it is a two-horse race. I do respect At Fishers Cross as Rebecca Curtis’s horses have hit a real hot vein of form. His jumping and love for soft ground would be a concern for me. More of That is still very raw and is unbeaten. He could certainly be involved in the finish as could SALUBRIOUS who was travelling very well before a bad mistake at Ascot in the Long Walk.

Rally a race to savour. My heart will probably make me back BIG BUCKS. He is around 10/11 for a place on Betfair. That is an absolutely cracking bet in my eyes as I really can’t have him out the first three.

4.00 – Byrne Group Plate (A Handicap Chase) Grade 3 (CLASS 1)

A real tough race again this year and one that the class may shine through in the form of old rivals Colour Squadron and JOHNS SPIRIT. They have met twice already this year and the score is 1-1. Johns Spirit is the one I really like. To me he looks like he has potential to be a little bit better than a handicapper and the vibes from the yard over the last few weeks have been very encouraging. He travels strongly and jumps well in the main (made a mistake early last time that knocked him back). If he gets a good passage through and Richie is patient on him I expect him to go very close on this better ground. Colour Squadron is still a maiden over the larger obstacles but he has run some cracking races in defeat. He will surely be in the mix here again and has to be included.

If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous price wise then Third Intention’s Ascot third got a huge boost yesterday and he drops into handicap company off a nice mark.  BLESS THE WINGS and NADIYA DE LE VEGA both have first time headgear for in form trainers at big prices.

Johns Spirit 2pts win @ 10/1, Colour Squadron 1 pt win @ 9/1.

Potential each way savers on Third Intention 16/1, Bless The Wings 25/1, Nadiya De La Vega 25/1

4.40 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders)

A nightmare to finish and probably a small stakes race unless we are miles in front. One horse though that jumps off the page at me is OUR FATHER for the David Pipe team. Now he comes with dangers attached as he is a bit of a thinker and is fragile. He is just as likely to finish last as he is first. He is however very dangerously handicapped (though of as a Gold Cup horse at one point) and also has the first time blinkers which may have been needed for some time. He was very well backed ahead of the Hennessy and went off the 11/2 fav on a mark of 147. That would suggest that he could be thrown in here IF and it’s a big IF he’s on a going day. That is factored into the price though and he is as big as 22/1 with Victor Chandler. I would not at all be surprised if he starts an awful lot shorter than that.

There is very likely to be an upset in this, the one towards the head o fthe market I like is SPRING HEELED who should relish being back on better ground and has an excellent pilot.

OUR FATHER STRONG BET AT 22/1, saver on Spring Heeled.

All the best today, back plenty of winners.

MG

@markagrantham

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….

u

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

 

Big Saturday Racing Blog

Proform

It doesn’t matter what your favourite racing blend is on days like today. We have top flat and jumps action as well as the introduction to the new all-weather racing championships at Wolverhampton this evening. If you’re in the area, get yourself along to Dunstall Park. It’s just £10 entry tonight and there is some quality all-weather action http://www.wolverhampton-racecourse.co.uk/horse-racing/fixturedetails/281

Whilst there is some cracking action across the cards today, as per usual my Proform racing horse watcher is alight with runners on the slightly lower graded stuff and I think we may well have found a few decent opportunities. Having said that I do like the look of Edgardo Sol in the Old Roan Chase (3.05 Aintree). He is 2-2 at the track and has far fewer miles on the clock than his rivals this afternoon and is surely overpriced at a general 13/2. I also think that Lamb Or Cod has an excellent chance in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow (4.10). He won this race last year off 6lbs lower before struggling on a couple of occasions when things just didn’t fall right (struck into on second occasion). Off since January he could be a bit better than a 130 animal and the 9/1 available is tasty (of the Nandos variety).

On to the main selections of the day. We’ll go in time order rather than strength of fancy.

4.25 Doncaster crownhotel-bawtry.com Nursery Handicap (CLASS 3)

I will be playing two against the field in on paper what looks an open race. The first is MALACHIM MIST who brings a strong piece of form into this race having been a good third last time at Nottingham. The first two in that race in my opinion are clearly group horses in the making and MM did well to finish nicely clear of the rest in third. Dropped another couple of pounds and given the services of Richard Hughes today he is of major interest at 8/1 (StanJames). I will also be having a saver on ARROWZONE. A horse that has been badly campaigned this year. On the back of his three maiden efforts he was given an opening mark of 55. A mark that was a long way under his ability. Had he been held back for nurseries he would have run up a sequence. As it turns out he was kept to maiden company next time and his mark shot up. He is not handicapped out of this though and I like the race he went close in last time at Catterick. He is a battler and is not an 11/1 chance in my book.

5.10 Newbury – Free Bets freebets.co.uk Handicap (For Lady Amateur Riders) (CLASS 5) (4yo+ 0-75)

An end of season googly for you in the form of SIR BOSS. He caught the eye at Wolverhampton last time when traveling strongly and not getting the best of runs. He gets in here off top weight and is on a winning mark. Whilst it is a lady riders race stakes should be kept to a minimum but the 22/1 (30’s on Betfair) is much too big and I expect you will get a good run for your money.

5.30 Doncaster – Universal Recycling Apprentice Handicap (CLASS 4) (3yo 0-85)

Very very keen on the chances of GLANELY today. He was given a very interesting ride at Kempton last time in a race that didn’t really suit, staying on late in the day when the race had gone. Everything seems in his favour today, the trip, the track and conditions are all likely to play to his strengths and with Lewis Walsh claiming 5lbs he is very interesting indeed. The son of Exceed and Excel has only had 6 starts and I expect him to be much better than a 78 animal in time. Absolute knocking bet at 9/2.

7.15 Wolverhampton – Coral Mobile “Just Three Clicks To Bet” Handicap (CLASS 6) (3yo 0-65)

Another one from out the back of the hand tonight that just strikes me as being overpriced. The race will be made by the favourite (Mystery Drama) who bolted up last time at Southwell but I like the chances of OUR GOLDEN GIRL who has improved for the application of blinkers the last twice. She races a little bit lazy but she does stick to her task nicely and with the way the track has been running the last few nights I just get the feeling that it will suit her this evening. Robert Tart keeps the ride and she is bred to be better than a 55 beast (Dutch Art/ Pivotal Mare). 9/1 is a fair price and I think she is very likely to out run those odds.

8.15 Wolverhampton – 32Red.com Nursery Handicap (CLASS 2) (2yo)

I doubt that today is the day for MONEY TEAM but I couldn’t let this go without at least a mention. The sn of Kodiac was claimed out of Bill Turners after dotting up earlier in the summer. He was given an alarming ride at Pontefract last time which got the button pressing twitchy. Down another pound I am sure that he is being set up for a punt but there hasn’t been a penny about today. I will watch with major interest today and if there is any blue on Oddschecker I will be pleased.

8.45 Wolverhampton – 32Red On The App Store Fillies´ Handicap (CLASS 5) (3yo+ 0-75)

One of the most interesting horses on the whole day goes in the very last contest of the day in the form of IT’S MY TIME. Richard Fahey’s runner caught the eye last time on the back of a break in behind Tatting who was in the form of his life at the time. He is only 4lbs higher than winning at Chester earlier on in the season and the Fahey team have hit a rich vein of form in the last week or so. I think he is very interesting indeed in the lucky last and is ready available in double figures. Cracking each way value.

I hope we have managed to find you one or two bets to get your teeth into today. Enjoy what is going to be a great day!

All the best

MG

Proform

 

Mondays Racing Blog

Proform

Strange scenes at Bath yesterday and some very strong words from Richard Hughes to boot about the facilities at the ARC run track. There is an interesting interview with SkySportsNewsRadio that you can listen too. I wasn’t too worries about the abandonment as I’d already pinched a nice little earner on Fitzwilly!

Today is a strange one. For some reason I have managed to mess up my diary so that I am missing a Monday Plumpton meeting! I will be in the hot seat at Timeform Radio alongside Rory Delargy this afternoon. Feel free to tune into the action, we will be on air from about 1.45 today with racing coming from Plumpton (can’t believe I’m not there), Pontefract and the last meeting of the year from Windsor.

I’ve managed to summon up two small interests today.

Long Lunch – 2.20 Plumpton

In my eyes he should be favourite for the opener on the card down at the Sussex track. He has been a little keen in his bumpers but has shown fairly smart form. With the addition of jumping hopefully helping him to settle I thought he should be clear fav on what we have seen especially with the yard going so well.

Best bet for me today is TOP BOY 3.10 Pontefract (12/1)

Really caught the eye last time out when trying to go via Milton Keynes when traveling ok at Wolverhapton. It wasn’t too long ago this son of Exceed And Excel was competing in group 2 company with an official rating of 101. Today he gets to race off 77 and must rate of particular interest. Not the greatest draw in stall 11 but with 17 runners he looks a good each way bet at around 12/1 this morning!

Tune into the show today at http://www.radio.betfair.com

All the best

MG

Sunday 20th October!

Proform

Afternoon campers. I hope you all enjoyed a great days sport yesterday. Champions day went pretty well with a stunning victory for Farhh in the feature. Lots of credit has to go to the team for having him fit and ready off such a long lay off. He will now head straight for stud duties…. lucky sod. Jack Dexter ran an absolute blinder in the sprint but just failed to get to Slade Power. When previewing the race in the morning with Dicko on Coral TV he was worried about the lack of an out and out front runner and he said SP was a solid bet. A really great shout (again). Very pleased with Dark Lover winning at Cheltenham, although a little lucky as Balder Success looked in control when falling two out. Delighted to see Balthazar King lead at a good pace, jump like a stag and win. I know a lot of people fancied him yesterday.

At Wolverhampton things didn’t pan out. Ajeeb ran a stinker and is probably gone at the game. I won’t touch him again unless I see strong early money. He could do with a change of yard. Available ran well to be 3rd but for one who likes to be on the pace he had to go via Milton Keynes to get near the lead after traveling well into the race. Hannah’s Turn was much to keen and didn’t really do herself justice. I cannot wait to see her back on fibresand where she will win!

Nothing from the http://www.proformracing.com horse watcher today. I do think that Fitzwilly (2.30 Bath) is interesting if getting a soft lead. Maybe a play in running!

NFL SUNDAY

Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions

Two improved teams on what we saw last year and I think we are in for a tight one in the early game on Skysports this evening. Both sides have weapons on each side of the ball and I have really enjoyed the progress of Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert for the Bengals. They are finally a franchise moving in the right direction. Andy Dalton is not the greatest QB in the game but he is a very good game manager and I expect them to push the Lions all the way. Turnovers could end up being the difference between these two teams today so defense is going to play a huge part. I think the handicap line is so tight here it doesn’t justify a play. I think the under 47 total points is the best play in the game market with the NAP coming on GB to score anytime.

UNDER 47 pts @ 10/11 with William Hill

GIOVANI BERNARD anytime touchdown scorer with Paddy Power at 7/5 (NAP)

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

The later game on sky is a tale of two franchises in opposite ends of the scale that we expected. Houston we have a problem has been used more times than ever in the last few weeks! QB problems a plenty they will be ripe for the picking at Arrowhead tonight. Kansas are 6-0 but they are not a genuine 6-0 team. They have had a soft schedule so far and we will see them in a much better light when they play Denver in two weeks. I think I’ve found a cracker in here though in the sacks market.

SkyBet are going 10/11 on over 5.5 sacks! Neither offensive line is particularly strong and you should get as much as SkyBet will allow on!

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

One simple and easy bet for you here. OVER 55 PTS. Maximum bet material.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

Once again last week Tom Brady showed why he is probably the best ever. The Pats 4th quarter winning drive was just a joy to behold and had his rookie receivers held on to the ball better in recent weeks they would still be unbeaten. I was very disappointed with the Jets last week and I had the Pats in as 7 pt favs here so the fact you can get -3 on the handicap across the board is a bonus.

NEW ENGLAND -3pts @ 10/11.

I may well stick Bernard (7/5), Pats -3 (10/11), over 55 pts (den v ind) in a sexy treble!

Enjoy the games!

MG

Glorious, glorious Goodwood!

pro5

Morning! I’ll start with the usual apology for a lack of bloggage lately. The summer months really are so busy, up and down the country on a daily basis, I barely get time to think let alone write! The mid-summer drinking festivities also seem to be a barrier as well as getting the new business concept of the ground too. Thanks for everyone who is lending a hand, very exciting indeed. Check us out on Twitter @sportslineprods.

The racing has been kind the last month or so, on a very good mid summer run with the usual hard luck stories thrown in. Still I can’t complain, things are going well and I’m seeing the form nicely. Looking forward to Goodwood immensely this week although I am actually only going on Thursday and Friday as I’m working at Coral the early part of the week. Thursday is a racing day whereas Friday is an old re-union with pals that I generally fail to remember the next day.

The football season is just around the corner too but more importantly so is the NFL (37 days to be precise). Disappointed with West Ham’s transfer dealings so far. We need a solid back up to Carroll and a right back. Having spent a few hours scouring the markets last week and taking on some advice from our shrewd football gods I have done a few footy teasers to see me through the year. Backed Blackpool to go down in a double with Pompey to go up. Also backed Pompey outright, they have a small but strong squad and are assisted by the fact they have sold more season tickets than in previous years as they are now owned by the fans. Also had a muggy acca on Chelski, Reading/Watford and Pompey for interest.

As far as the NFL goes I was struggling to find any value anywhere! The outright market is so tight. Once again I will be playing on the back of weeks 1 and 2 as the market overreacts to early results. I will be writing a full season preview in a couple of weeks time!

Day one of GG. Proform brings us the following trainers with exceptional win and place strike rates in the last 14 days:

David Simcock 68.75%

J W Hills 64.71%

Jeremy Noseda 64.29%

James Tate 56.25%

Roger Charlton 52.94%

William Haggas 52.78%

Ian Willams, Elaine Burke and Jonjo O’Neil also all over 50%.

One or two of today’s handicaps are very difficult indeed. I have only backed two today and the first one is far from obvious. This would be the one that I jump and little wider on the crease and try to get to reverse into the batsmen (Jimmy Anderson is far better at this than me). It comes in the maiden at 4.15 in the form of FIFTYSHADESOFGREY. He is a lovely looking colt by Dark Angel that caught my eye on debut at Bath when the race was a huge learning experience. On the back of this he went on to run in the Windsor Castle at Ascot and the form book suggests he was a well beaten 13th. However if you watch the race back he actually shaped very nicely, travelling strongly away from a lot of the action before sticking on. Now he was only actually beaten 4.25 lengths and was only 2 lengths behind Sacha Park who is a very strong favourite in this at 13/8 whereas Fiftyshadesofgrey is 25/1? There is still plenty of improvement possible, the extra furlong could help also so the disparity between those prices is barmy. The rain could be a concern but the dam side of his pedigree (by a Kheleyf mare) handle soft conditions very well so I wouldn’t be too worried. All in all it is a bit of a flyer but he may run a big race at a big price so I’ve tucked in.

The Lennox Stakes (3.05) is an interesting renewal but I do think that Aljamaaheer has outstanding claims. He has some very solid form lines in the book behind the likes of Farrh and Declaration of War. He was a smooth winner of a group 2 last time and although he has the penalty to carry for that win he looks to me like a group 1 horse. He also acts well here which is a big plus. The rain has come for Garswood and he is still open to improvement at this level. It is good to see Caspar Netscher back on course too and he could go well fresh. Aljamaaheer for me though, very tough to beat.

Fennel Bay is a moody so and so but is a big price in the opener so thrown a couple of shillings in his direction and I’m hoping today is the day for MY SON MAX who has caught me eye on countless occasions. He is dropping rapidly in the weights and today Robert Tart takes off an extra 5lbs. He has a very light weight in the last at 5.25 and I’m on at 20/1 although I’ve also had a small bet on MATA HARI BLUE for Mick in that contest.

All in all very much looking forward to a cracking day. Must say a big happy birthday to BIggs. Shots on Friday!

Enjoy the day.

MG

@markagrantham

@sportslineprods

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