0/3, 1 place = -6 points on day
Alpha Victor – 1 point EW – 25/1 (Bet365/BV) 20/1 general Refused/PU 16/1
Finish The Story – 1 point EW – 12/1 (general) *Refused/PU 12/1
*prices as of 07.45. 16/1 still around as of 09.22
With any luck we have a fun day ahead and we start with two pokes. This race is a real puzzle – very tough – as 7/1 the field would suggest. I suspect professional bettors – those whose winnings pay for food, kids, the mortgage etc – would have a quick look at this and move on! I just couldn’t, despite going full circle in my own mind from ‘leave alone’ to betting 4 points! In the end, the prices drew me in.
To start with if either of these run their best races they will go close. If either run their best races I would be disappointed if one did not place at worst. At the odds, it was that thinking that led me to 1pt EW bets, albeit only 3 places, but 1/4 points.
Alpha Victor – is probably the only one with proven stamina over this kind of trip, and in this kind of ground. I am asking him to repeat his run in the Midlands Grand National. If he does, he is no 25/1 shot. He is 11 but this is only his 11th chase start. All indications are that he needs a slog, a real test. On the flip side it may be clear after two fences that we have lost 2 points. That is the risk with him – he is a character – but if he runs to his best, he goes close. If you cant take that sort of chance with 25/1 shots – you never will.
He also has a bit of a ‘profile’ – 5/13, 6 places 16-60 days (3/9,4 places +69 SP, 16-30 days) and in handicaps he is 3/5,4 places OR 130 or below. 0/11,2 places OR 131+. He races off 135 at Uttoxeter, at this time of year, 2 years ago. He was also put in the Irish National 3 starts ago, and ran ok until about 4 out – off 130. He comes here off 122. He is being given every chance to bounce back – and he has near ideal conditions to do so. His record RH needs to be proven but most of those were after a long break, and he has ran well enough for me not to be out off – in any case, if you didnt notice, he is 25/1! You can overlook a lot at those odds! It was nice to see him complete LTO over hurdles, and maybe this has been the plan. Happy to take a chance.
Finish The Story – well he stays, and finished 4th in this last year. He just always seems to be racing and rarely gets a break. So, I find the break interesting and a positive for him – he has won after a similar time off. All systems go hopefully. He has some decent placed form in staying chases and chased home Royal Night and Lackamon at Sedgefield a couple of starts ago. Its also not as heavy as it was here last year which should help. There were ready excuses for the PU, when well fancied. Apparently he has a horrendous journey up from Somerset. So, a line through that one (nothing physical). I suspect this has been the target for a couple of months and the trainer is in decent enough form. He should bounce out and try and lead, and if he can set his own place hopefully that ensures a place at worst.
Every horse in here has some kind of question or questions to overcome. I would not be shocked if any of them won in truth (not the kind of race to play in too often!). They all have bits and pieces of form which suggests they may go well. I had the winner of this last year (on the blog) and he was a stand out unexposed one from Jonjo’s where you were quite sure he would stay. He bolted up. There isnt one in here this year with that kind of profile. Wizards Bridge may be the closest – and he may improve for this big step up. He may not. I can’t work out from his running style whether he will or not. A lot of weight to carry for a young horse over this trip, if you have stamina concerns. On the fence, but ultimately 6/1 made me more comfortable leaving him, in context of this race. Saraoque – lovely horse who won for us on his first start of the season – he just clung on there in 3m in the mud, it wasnt a staying on performance and I do have stamina concerns. He ebbed away in the Welsh National – now, you could say that was a much better race and give him a chance here – maybe against inferior oppo he will see it out. I am not sure. He has also had a hard season now, and it will have to catch up with him at some point.
Return Spring has plenty to prove now, has tried these kind of trips four times now, and hasnt done much. Given his form, I cant really justify taking 6/7-1. This is only his 10th chase start, but he only has a small field novice chase win to his name. Happy for him to prove me wrong. Thomas Wild is much better on a sounder surface and has a long break to overcome. I don’t like that generally in races of this nature. His ‘summer form’ ties in with Alberobello – and if you fancy one, you have to fancy the other. Another who I think needs good ground to show his best- both have stamina to prove beyond 3m4f – but that is a lot further than a few in here have form over. Scott’s record at the track could be better also. Nail’M will plod on, and that may be good enough. He needs to bounce back (may not have liked visor LTO) but a repeat of that run here behind Woodford County may see him in the mix. He does have his class to prove now above C4 level, and there could be better horses in here. Would not be shocked if he won though – stable also been very quiet. Merlins Wish has had 2 runs in the last 700 days or so – not sure what to make of him and just happy to watch. He does stay, but enough to prove, inc at this level. He didnt do much in this race last year, never looking comfortable at any stage. Fourovakind has a few questions to answer as well, inc stamina, 0/5, 2 places beyond 3m, yet to win beyond 26f. Guessing a bit. But, he hasnt proved he wont stay.
What’s left of the rest also have questions to answer. As I have said I would not be in shock if any of these won, I really would’t. But, if the selections run their races, run to their best, they will out-run their odds. Simple as that. They are generally sound jumpers, they like the mud, and they stay. They have the class for this and their handicap marks are fine. They should be staying on when quite a few in here may have had enough.
Good Luck (we may need it!)
Farbreaga – 1 point win – 15/2 (SkyB/SJ) 7/1 (general) UP
No Duffer – 1 point win – 14/1 (general) 2nd 7/1
I will keep this a bit shorter (or will try)
Farbreaga ticks plenty of boxes here – indeed ticks every profile box going for race conditions that I can see – he has changed yards which will hopefully spark him back into life – and we saw what this trainer did with Big Society on his first couple of runs for him – he was another tricky character. I found it interesting that he has booked the jockey who best knows him – one who doesnt ride for him in general I believe. He is 4/14 chasing,so knows how to win. He is 4/6, 4 places in handicap chases in Feb/March – 0/8, 1 place after this. He has won well off OR123 so I think 127 should be within range. If it is clear early that he is travelling and jumping we should get a run for our money. He was a bit bigger price last night but I still think 7s is fair, and still underestimates his chance – if he bounces back to form. Ground is fine and so is the days off/rest pattern, historically.
No Duffer – well he is a silly price for me. If there is no ‘Good’ as Ian points out in the comments, and it is indeed Heavy in places – then that is probably 1 point lost – but at 14s I was happy to take a chance. Soft is no problem for him. He has some very good form in the book, the stand out being his win at Sandown – that was a very good race on paper with good horses in behind, a few of which we have backed to victory in recent weeks/month. Its also interesting that after his last two PUs he won next time… PU – WIN… PU -WIN…PU..???. He looks like he is best fresh, or after a break. Indeed he is 0/5, 2 places 16-30 days, 3/7,3 places 31+. 2/3,2 places 61+ days off. We know from Saint Are’s victory that George can ready them. In the past i have been too quick to dismiss those that havent raced much in the last 90 days or so. He ticks a lot of boxes, including having won around here. Provided it is not too sticky, he should out-run those odds. If he is laboured -we know there is no good/soft at the track!
You could make some kind of case for What A Good Night – albeit I wonder how his jumping will stack up around here – a clear round and he may not be far away – he is now 0/8, 0 places when carrying more than 11-3 on back in handicaps (albeit was going to win at Stratford off 11-8,so maybe that isnt a factor) Also now 0/6, 0 places when off 31-120 days – best after a longer break or returning quicker, maybe. High Vic is a lightly raced 11yo but his break of 77 days is intriguing. Not sure what his form amounts to. I have been tracking Achimota – as I want to see him over 3m4+ I think, as he runs like he needs a trip – may be tapped for toe again here. If he isnt he could out-run his odds. I was happy to dismiss the rest. As De Fer is 19lb higher than when winning here, and 12lb higher than the last win. Now, while ratings rises don’t bother me too much for unexposed ones – I do take more note when they are above 10lb say. He also has more weight on his back, in absolute terms. Last wins off 9-9 and 10/7, has 11-8 here. That will feel totally different for him.
So, hopefully these two can give us a run for our money also. Both trainers are in form and they both may sit off what could be a frenetic pace.
That’s all for tips.
3.45 War – Poole Master (any odds) UP
5.30 Exet – On The Road (10/1<) WON 14/1>10/1 (recorded)>5/1
2.50 Exet – Anda De Grissay (12/1<) DNQ
3.55 Exet – Nail’M (12/1<) Fell 5/1
STATS/ANGLES OF INTEREST
Nothing much today.
Mr Red Clubs goes again in 7.45. He is frustrating now, but is 13/2. Yet to look at the race or if there are any progressive ones in there. He is better drawn as Ali points out, and that may make the difference if he can scoot up a gap on the inside.