What a day. Watching Sprinter Sacre swoop to the front will live long in the memory. Incredible, emotional and what this game is about – our sport at its very best. There is nothing much more to say, I will wait for an Alastair Down piece to put it into better words than I ever could.
On the betting front we managed to claw back a few of our losses and a winner always helps the mood. He was probably lucky but you make your own luck – and the betting gods got their revenge on me in the last as the ‘bumper tip’ from Ben Pauling at the preview evening got done in a photo, by a nose, at 25/1. The Coral Cup – well the stats/profile worked wonders…picking out the 1st /4th/6th/7th from the 6 qualifiers. I couldnt back the winner at single figure odds this morning because of my incorrect thoughts on his handicap mark. Elliot is some trainer, and that is some horse. To win in that style, effectively carrying 18lbs more than his last run, is just impressive. Hats off to them. His SP of 12/1 looked decent enough! Waxies Dargle finished 6th – where all good EW 5 places bets finish! Hopefully some of you were with Coral 6 places but I won’t record him as making a profit – they would only accept £2.5EW of mine, the buggers, at 40/1. If he had tracked the winner, and taken the ‘Ruby Route’ up the inside, he would have been in the places. He lost a lot of ground circling the field,having been held up on the inner early. That is Cheltenham – a game of fine margins. There was also a slow pace in this race, which was surprising. When that is the case, unless you have bucket loads in hand/classy horse, on this ground it is hard to catch those near the front.
We move on.
Festival Running Total: 1/10,2 places = -2.5 points.
To be honest, this feels like a make or break day in terms of coming out in-front (‘concerning’ given my Day 3 record to date! 🙂 ) so let’s get to it…
Race 1 : 1.30
Garde La Victoire – 1 point win – 4/1 (BetV . WH-free bet if 2nd) (Skybet money back if lose offer also!)
I wasn’t planning on tipping in this one but he just looks so obvious – too obvious? 4/1 is fair – All Johnson’s festival winners start top 6 in the market and that is a decent micro angle. This horse has done nothing wrong, and look at those he has beat. He has stuffed the NTD horse twice. He brushed aside Fox Norton who ran a cracker in the Arkle. He smashed Dr Harper who won again and is a short price for the 5.30. He has track form. He stays. He will be much better on good ground. The yard is in form. The only niggle is his ‘low jumping’ but Skybet help with that – and come on, he has won three chases in a row and I don’t think he has looked like falling. If he jumps fine, then he must go mightily close here. Tempted to 2 point him but I will refrain!
Outlander looks like a plodder? His two runs on good ground so far have been below par, being outpaced. He has that to prove. He has the class. I couldn’t touch the rest.
Race 2: 2.10
Cup Final – 1 point EW – 10/1 (general, get 5 places!)
All Hell Let Loose – 1 point EW – 40/1 (Bet365/Racebets) 33/1 general
Now, Day 3 is usually like Day 1, a blank, but I have become increasingly bullish about these two – indeed if one or both don’t go close here I doubt I am destined to back a winner at ‘decent’ odds this year.
A run in the last 90 days seems key (and my overall handicap hurdle stats show that a run in last 76 days is required,exc Fred Winter stats), French Bred is a negative in this race (0/69,12 places) and those that had 5-11 handicap hurdle runs are now 0/180,12 places in the race. This is an interesting stat – suggesting you either need to be unexposed, or battle hardened and dropping back to a winnable mark. That ‘middle range’ may suggest that the handicapper may have you. Those stats are too eye-catching to ignore. They may get broken this year, we shall see.
Applying those stats removes nos. 2,3,4,5,6,7,10,11,17,19,21,22,24 – I believe.
It leaves – Taglietelle / Warriors Tale / Join The Clan / Cup Final / Mall Dini / Oscar Sam / Padge / Saddlers Encore / All Hell Let Loose
Now, there are some other eye-catching ‘general handicap hurdle stats’ to narrow that down a bit more. At last 5 festivals in handicap hurdles (exc Fred Winter) those with 3+ handicap wins (all handicaps,inc Flat) are 0/106, 8 places. Those with 3 or more handicap hurdle wins are 0/54,5 places…
One or both of those stats remove the Elliot horse, Join The Clan,Oscar Sam
Jockey’s claiming 6lb or more are 0/49 which also does for Jonjo’s – who is also 0/27 when using claiming jocks in recent years.
Finally, those dropping 1-4 classes from last run are 0/95,4 places! This is a listed race, which means a drop from a Grade 3 is a drop of 1 class. That also does for Join The Clan and also Saddlers Encore.
Stats wise, we have a fairly bombproof list of: Warriors Tale / Cup Final / Mall Dini / Padge / All Hell Let Loose…
Warriors Tale – well he was stuffed by Cup Final LTO – distance doesn’t suggest he was stuffed but go watch that video – Cup Final was still green I think and won with plenty in hand. This horse has been kept to Soft as well, so major ground questions. Nicholls is 0/11,2 places in the race. Not a negative,but one he is yet to target to good effect.
Mall Dini is interesting and his form ties in with All Hell Let Loose – but, he has been kept to deep ground also, so that is a question. The trainer only operates at 5% with all runners as well, and I don’t know how good he will be at prepping a horse for this. He arguably has stamina questions as well. He may run well mind, he has Russell booked. Fun money saver maybe.
Padge – I don’t think he will be good enough and he also has stamina questions, as does one of the selections admittedly. His Sire is 0/25, 10 places in all hurdles at track in last 730 days. On balance happy to leave, but he is big odds. You may wish to have a closer look at him.
CUP FINAL….I really don’t know why BG has left him here, but given how he rode today, maybe that is no bad thing 🙂 (jokes, I like Barry, class act,had one of those days) He won with any amount in hand to my eye, showing a good turn of foot in softer ground to pull away, off a slow pace as well. This race will suit and being out of Presenting he will relish this ground. Henderson won this last year, and horses that raced at MUSS LTO have won this race, I suspect from this same trial race but I am not sure. The danger is that he is a hold up horse and I don’t see loads of pace in this. Bar a fall, given everything I have seen, I would be surprised were he not in the top 5 here. There is a chance he may bounce, but I think that is small. The lack of Barry is odd, but Mark Walsh has won at the track and if this horse has loads in hand, it should just be a steering job 🙂
ALL HELL LET LOOSE – It has just dawned on me that Thursday is ‘Ryanair Day’ – I wonder how many of Mr Ryanair’s horses will run well today, maybe this has been the plan for this one! He is relatively unexposed and two starts ago chased home a horse called Diamond King. The ground is the massive change. He has one piece of old form, a decisive win, on Good, and hasn’t run on it since. There is every chance he may relish this surface. His Sire’s horses at this track are 2/11,6 places in all hurdles races in last 730 days. The stats for all of his runners on Good going are also decent. He has a change of headgear and he liked to lead/push pace. He should be in the right place for a race that may not be that strongly run. The one niggle is the trip – he is a half brother to a horse that won over 7f and up to 3m4f. I hope some of that stamina has rubbed of on him. He has not raced over a trip like this on Good ground. An unknown, but we are getting 40s. The other danger is what the visor does to him. His trainer is in form also, 2/6,3 places last 14 days. His mark has not really moved in some time – if this trip/hill/ground bring out improvement, he could storm away from these 🙂
So, hopefully you can see why I have become increasingly bullish as I have thought about these. They are both exciting bets in this and I am looking forward to seeing them run.
Of course a stats buster may win this, or one of those I have left from the shortlist. The stats profiles/shortlists have been working very well so far this Festival, and hopefully this is the race where my pins land on the right ones!
Apparently he has been ‘Pricewised’ Thankfully for my wallet and yours, I don’t read his stuff,or follow his tips – the losses over the last year would be massive if I did!
Race 5 – 4.10
La Vaticane – 1 point EW – 18/1 (5 places Bet365, 4 places general) NR
Empire of Dirt -1 point EW – 20/1 (5 places Bet365/SkyB, 4 places general)
Ahh how frustrating, a non runner from a horse I was confident would run a stormer here. Had everything in her favour, everything. Profile shortlist/Pipe Qualifier/great jumper/prominent racer/good ground relisher – annoying.
I have used a saver ‘HRB profile’ for this race – essentially created a profile from all the main general stats for the handicap chases here (excluding Novice Handicap Chase) – This profile found every winner from 2011-14. Last year it found 4 of them, this year from the one race so far it has already had the Pipe winner, Morning Assembly also qualified.
The shortlist against that profile for this: Ballycasey (dropping in class big X,Mullins 0/18,5 places race), Full Shift (19th or lower in HRB ratings for race,those types now 0/97 odd,10 places last 5 festivals), Kings Lad (also 19th or below), Little John (5+ runs at track – 0/77,12 places in this race,19th or lower in HRB ratings), Salubrious and Stilleto for Nicholls (he is now 0/24,2 places in race)
It left the two selections, with no blemishes at all stats wise from what I could see. Almost perfect.
Empire of Dirt... progressive, must go LH,prominent runner,looks likely to appreciate better ground (sire decent record on Good), runs on Mr Ryanair day!, and ticks all the profile boxes. It looks like they have kept him for this and he could be ahead of his mark, with more to come.
There are two negatives. Like a lot in this field his jumping can be suspect. With a trouble free round I am confident he won’t be too far away. Most of his falls are when going RH.
The other is that he is Irish trained, and as one of you have commented, they have a dire record in this. BUT, in the last 18 renewals only 41 have come from over the Irish Sea – 7 of them have placed, which is fine. There is also the question of his canny trainer – he has run 6 horses at the track, 3 have placed. He has run one horse in this race in 2012 – he came third.
On balance, given everything, and his price, I decided to go with him.
Combining HRB ratings, profile for this race, race stats and trainer stats gives me plenty of meaty reasons why NO other horse can win this 🙂 clearly, one of those big stats is highly likely to be broken here,but i will say tomorrow why I didn’t like them! John’s Spirit – well he is now a silly price for a race like this and given the questions against him – he is under 14/1 for Jonjo in a handicap chase mind – but he is now 0/9,3 places Jan-April in handicap chases and his best form is on the other course. He has also had more than 5 runs at track (0/77,12 places) and there are a couple of stats he falls down on based on no of chase/handicap runs – 0/30+,3 places odd for both.
PIPE – maybe I shouldn’t try second guessing him again. Kings Palace qualifies on his micro angle, but unlike his earlier winner, falls down on some hefty race stats. Saver/muggy bet material, maybe – well I have had something on, not second guessing again at those odds but given my race approach I can’t bring myself to tip him. Would be a major stats buster.
Hopefully we get a good run for our money here. You could bet BetVictor with their faller insurance, as if he stands up, I think he will improve his trainer’s record here further,in the place column at worse!
Race 7 – 5.30
Upswing – 1 point win – 11/1 (WH) 9/1 (general)
Well, this one isn’t in my HRB profile (but neither was Holywell) but he ticks a lot of the boxes for this race. He qualifies on the Jonjo micro angle and I struggle to see him out of the places. At 10/1 or bigger, 5 places, I would have advised 1pt EW and I hope I don’t regret doing that. With a clear round he has to be in the mix.
He is unexposed, will relish this ground, and ran in that cracker of a chase here two starts ago which has worked out oh so well. On paper there is also a ferocious pace to aim at, and for this course at least, it looks like it will pay to be patient. He has one of, if not, the best jockey on him in the race and maybe he can bring up the double for connections. He is unexposed and could have plenty more to come and he will stay all the way to the line. It is just whether he can get into a rhythm,as I think that is the only question here. Again, it looks like he must have been aimed for this. And well, I had to back a Jonjo chaser at some point!
There are some strong stats pointers for this,and some ‘secondary stats’. Those that ran in a Non-handicap LTO are 0/65,12 places – that does for Dr Harper who is also not the usual ‘Pipe profile’ for the Festival (too many recent runs) – but, on handicapping terms he looks a good thing, short though – dont mind those going in unbacked at 5s, its his ones at 16/1 that are annoying!! 🙂 Nicholls is 0/16,1 place in the race, Tom George 0/11,1 place. Those with 3 or more handicap chase wins are 0/83,7 places – those stats help knock out quite a few.
I couldn’t get away from this one and happy to have him onside.
8 points on the day is a bit above budget, but I am feeling bullish and it is Cheltenham! We shall see if I have been foolish come 5.40!
No real thoughts, I will just watch and enjoy. They say Vautour is only 90%, which could just be boll**ks and RR was searching for an excuse for the late switch (other than my trainer has bullied me into this decision!) I don’t think any horse wins here at only 90%, however good you are. But, that view can’t be measured! At his best he wins this well. Before his participation I was going to have a fun EW bet on Josses Hill – and I may still do that. (got some bullets from SkyBet) Not one to get heavily involved for me
Thistlecracks to lose isn’t it?? They think he will relish the ground also. He could make 5/4 look like a 5/1 shot, and if trained by some ‘bigger guns’ would be what, 4/6 or shorter?
I hope he hacks up. (jockey stats at Festival over hurdles only niggle,but he has never ridden anything this good and he wont be the reason he doesn’t win)
Whisper is maybe the EW bet on this ground, at the odds.
Oh please. Move on. 🙂
Interesting at the preview that the Trainers were bemoaning this race, saying it should be a chase. A decent programme for mares is vital to the sport – they said all the trainers wanted a chase, and the BHA ignored them!
6.50 Chelm – Vimy Ridge
5.10 Hexham – Surprise Vendor
Phew, that is all for today.
I am off to the pub today with some of you good blog readers. My day will consist of drinking a little bit, watching all the races,going for dinner….the watching ‘the match’. A long, relaxing day. As such, highly unlikely there will be anything up here before tomorrow morning. I will do some prep before I leave today once runners confirmed and will be in good shape to get up early! Hopefully I/we won’t be chasing. No, we wont be, we will be going into tomorrow with 50 odd points in the bank. All about the mindset 🙂
Good Luck, as always, with all your bets. If you are taking me on, then not too much luck, if mine are still in contention!!
Enjoy your day.