I’m not a fan of having 4 jumps meetings on a Saturday. Far too much going on/to look at if you ask me but there we go. We crack on…
1.35 Aintree – Becher Chase
Alvarado – 1 point EW – 9/1 (general,ensure 5 places) Fell
Portrait King – 1 point EW – 25/1 – UP (6th)
In all likelyhood I won’t be repeating my tipping feats on these pages for the last two years- Oscar Time and Highland Lodge both 33/1 – but you can see why this is possibly my favourite race day of the year- I will be there again, hopefully the only one cheering on Portrait King this time 🙂
I can’t get away from some strong stats pointers in this. I will try not to drone on but I looked at every race over Grand National fences since they changed them in 2013. Of note, all 7 year olds are now 0/49,3p in that time. Of some interest.
Moving onto the Becher stats I looked at the last 8 years to keep it relavant… 7/8 year olds are now 0/38,6 places. Aged 9+ is the best age and has found 15 of the last 19 winners. (the odd 6 year old has won) Maybe this is the year the 7 year old trend gets blown out the water – there are some nice ones lining up.
Other stats of interest – returning within 15 days a big negative… positives, with 0 from X in the negative column… 19+ career starts ‘has’ been a must, so has 13+ chase runs, 7+ handicap chase runs and a win at Class 2 or above. Those knock out a few including most near the head of the market – which makes me think they may go, but that is my approach and I won’t change it now. Chase/Experience has been key over these fences it seems, even with the changes.
Ratings are interesting… as is the race of 2009 – this was an 8 runner renewal where the top weight won. A rare anomaly for that end of the weights- those rated 139 or higher are 1/58,10 places, that winner being in 2009. It makes sense in big field races, run at a solid pace, that carrying big weights over these fences can be tough, for 26f. If you ignore that year, then OR138 or lower is best, and the top 4 in the weights have struggled – 0/33,6 p ignoring 2009, 0/15,1p last three renewals since the fences changed (where they may now go quicker, albeit that could be nonsense and those near the top will do fine)
Clearly there is always the odd stat you can use to knock out every runner but those ones above stand out. But taking that lot together leaves…
Highland Lodge / Alvarado / Milborough / Bob Ford / Dare to Endeavour / Portrait King
Alvarado – this old boy just looks solid and it is a race where the old boys tend to do well. He rarely if ever runs a bad race over these fences and bar being brought down struggle to see him in the mix. He ticks every box, has had a prep run where he stayed on well, and should come here in top form. If he is to run in the big one again I think he needs to win this, you will need a mark of at least 140 to get in this year, maybe a bit higher. So, he should be here to win. The trainer continues in fine form also. The final tick is the pace- I usually like to be near the front here and last year I thought Highland Lodge may get an uncontested lead at some point. I struggle to see any horse getting an easy time of it here- there are so many front runners/pace pushers based on recent runs. Maybe some will go more steady as they are new to the fences but I think this will be run at a very strong pace- I am not sure there is a Native River type in this race who will just keep on going. Sitting just off/behind the pace could be key in this, if I have read that right. Credit to any horse who does stay up there the whole way.
Portrait King – this talented old rogue has it in him to go very close in this I think. I backed him in this last year also – and bar for jumping into the back of Dare to Endeavour two out would have gone very very close, and certainly would have placed. He is an Eider winner and he stays. The ground looks fine for him. In the Grand National in 2015 he was going ok/staying on in 6th /7th 3 our before hitting one hard. He would have placed that day as well I suspect. He has had two preps over hurdles (only one last year) without the cheekpieces on. They are back on today. I find it of mild interest that he calls up a jockey who has ridden plenty around these fences, most for Pipe. 25s looks big in the context of his trends fit and his liking for this course. I part expect him to hit one and that will be that. But he jumped fine last year and was just unlucky. He will sit just behind the front X amount and hopefully pick up the pieces, placing at worse. He was worth chancing at 25s for me.
Of the rest… Highland Lodge – the lack of run concerns me given the trainer is 1/118,18p with handicappers returning 121-365 days. That is a concern. He won’t get an easy lead either and he doesn’t have first time headgear this time- he may be used to the cheekpieces and now bored of his new surroundings. Fitness the concern but I hope he goes well. Bob Ford is too inconsistent for me and the ground could be too quick. Milborough hasn’t had experience of the track and I am not sure is good enough albeit another Eider winner. He stays. His jumping can be shoddy. But he is 40s. I may have a small EW bet track side given place on shortlist but I think he could be up against it. Dare to Endeavour- wasn’t quite good enough to win this last year- a repeat of that puts him thereabouts- it was soft last year- I have some concerns as to ground with good in it for him, always looks better with cut. But he could go well. Portrait King was just coming upsides him last year, before jumping into the back of him.
So, that’s the lot – there will be a stats reason above for why I have my doubts about the rest. I can’t ignore the stats which say those with attractive profile (young, lightly raced over fences/in career) generally struggle. One of them may win and if so I was never destined to find them this year.
PACE – there are 10/11 that I can count who like to lead and/or be pushing the pace. There are another few after that who also like to push the pace. It is rare to see fewer hold up/mid division horses in any race than those who like to press it- but that is what we have here. How that plays out we shall see- they need to go a safe speed to jumps these fences – but on paper they should go hard- and that is good for the selections. Hopefully they can keep in touch. There is a fear they get too far back but hopefully not. They have the class to track it.
The painful horses- well any of the others on the shortlist that win. + Silvergrove who I thought would like this test and who also needs a win to get in the big one. But, he falls down on some stats and wont get an easy time up front. Cogry- well he would have gone close the last day I think (still a circuit to go, I know!) and I have long said he has a good chase in him. But, these fences could find it out and again loads of pace, and the quicker ground may not be ideal. It would be typical were he to win around here!
That will do for this race.
CONAS TAOI – 1 point win – 13/2 – UP
It is maybe of some interest that since this race started 12/12 have been 12/1 or shorter SP, and all 12 have come from the top 6 in the market. As yet it hasn’t been the race for the big priced outsider and anything that ticks these boxes is worth a second glance.
13/2 feels a shade big for this one given how upwardly mobile he was last year and with the jockey claim he is only 3lb above that last winning mark, when he hacked up. Good ground is no problem, he seems to stay really well and he has course form. He could really make his light weight count around here. The trainer is also in form- 1/5,3 places the last 14 days. I also find the jockey booking interesting – he clearly wants to take some weight off and he has booked a jockey who rode Summery Justice to a close second in this race last year-he knows the course well enough and that booking doesn’t seem random to my eye. They are also 1/1 having teamed up before. The judgement has to be that he needed his last run- possibly because this was the target. He ran well enough before blowing up a couple from home. Provided he did need it, and he does come on for it, 13/2 could look big come 3.40. There is also a fair bit of pace in here which should suit his hold up style, as he creeps into it. He just has some solid form, in some ok races, at some decent track- and there could be more to come this year.
13/2 looks more than solid to me and we should get a run for our money. The danger/’saver’ horse is the 4/1 fav – he is lightly raced in recent years which suggests he has had problems. He is well handicapped on bits and pieces of form and this may have been the target- a run over hurdles and the trainer won this last year. If he can revive him, he should go well – albeit unlike the selection he does have a stamina query. They should be the same price I think and if the selection was trained by Mulholland, they would probably be the other way round.
There are a few older horses in here I don’t want to be with and a few who need to leave behind a few mediocre runs. I fear Morney Wing going in having fancied him the last twice- that would be typical. I think he stays, but the selection’s form is better for me. Were he nibbled at, and his price came into range, I may be more intrigued. Arguably 20s is a bit too big but I don’t know if there were too many excuses the last day.
Ellison is now 0/25,1p here which put me off his a tad and I don’t know how strong a race that was the last day. 8s is ok but I prefer the 13/2 for the selection. Not a shock winner but a slight stamina question – having ‘plodded’ rather than stayed I think the last day. Given the decent pot I would have liked to have seen Cook on him also- that is odd- so whatever else he rides on Saturday may be of some note…
I would like to think the winner is coming from those four. The rest have too many questions for me.
That will do for this race.
That is all for my own tipping efforts. And now over to someone who has an enviable record…
Dr Nick Hardman Tips
Well my good friends over at The Betting School (who I have written a monthly article with for over a year now,also available to Members) have allowed me to cherry pick and share tips from one race covered every Saturday.
So, you get access to some quality free ‘big race tips’ that have won followers over +500 points so far this year, including +20 points last Saturday. He is a very good big race tipster, much better than me that is for sure.
My job is just to pick the right tips to highlight!
(if you are looking for a big race tipster/race advisor, reasonably priced, you can’t do much better)
So, what shall I pick out today from the 11 tips he has spread across Aintree and Sandown. Let’s go with his thoughts in the Grand Sefton…
Last year’s 1-2 Benny’s Mist and Seventh Sky can go well in a bid to repeat their efforts. This normally goes to a horse aged 8yo+ with experience over these fences and both have plenty going for them on that score. Skybet offer 6 places.
Benny’s Mist @15/2 (BFSB and Betway) UP
Seventh Sky @12/1 e/w (1/5 odds, 6 places, Skybet) or 12/1 (1/4 odds, 4 places) 4th
V Williams Chasers (November, tracking into December) (16/1<)
1.35 Aintree- Aaachen DNQ
Kerry Lee Chasers (12/1< guide)
3.30 Sand – Mountainous DNQ
Sat Trainer Jockey Combos (14/1<)
3.20 Chep – Lamb or Cod WON 13/2
Pam Sly Females
12.50 Sand – Bonnets Vino – 3rd 16/1
Handicap hurdle/chase portfolio – LIVE TEST
1.20 Sand – Fingal Bay – UP
2.25 Sand – Zubayr – UP
1.35 Aint – Silvergrove – UP
1.20 Sand- Fingal Bay- UP
2.25 Sand – Kayf Blanco – 3rd 16/1
2.45 Chep – Braavos- UP
3.15 Aint – Bennys Mist – PU
Trainer Track Combos
Any Sue Smith Handicap Hurdlers/chasers at Wetherby…
I am off to Aintree today and below you can find some brief thoughts. Some caution as when I usually rush through a card like this it doesn’t end well. I will be using my developing ‘paddock’ eye also- interested to see how fit Highland Lodge looks for example…
Evening Hush –WON was very impressive the last day and there could be plenty more to come. The trainer is in very good form also and this one will be up there in the box seat, either leading,or just tracking another who likes to lead.
Daisy De Sivola– will see what she looks like fitness wise but i think this is the meeting Agropart bolted up at last year- it may have been this race maybe- for the same trainer. As James points out below Williams does well in December with non-handicappers, esp hurdles, 12/1< – he has a handful across the country today.
Those would be the two I would focus on. I am unsure why the Fry horse should overturn form with Evening Hush.
Looks fascinating. The Skelton horse ‘could be anything’ as a few of these could. But he is too short for me at 11/4.
The Fresh Prince– (Fell when going well) he catches the eye. Sherwood’s have been needing the run and he went well for a long way the last day, and jumped very well having had a quick look. He could also try and lead all the way – which is what I like in general as you know and even more so here in a chase. He is owned by Mr Hemmings as well- and he just relishes an Aintree winner.
Cernunnos– is the interesting one of the George pair. He was going to go close at Market R a few runs back before taking a fences with him- maybe it has taken time to get over that. Some leap of faith required but he still has time on his side and a decent run wouldn’t surprise me, if putting it all together.
I suppose the step up in distance is interesting for Monbeg River (Brought down- was going to go close) also – who is probably a more solid bet than the George horse. Actually maybe he does look more interesting than Cernunnos- who may only be of interest if any money comes.
Banditry UP looks the most interesting here for me- best geegeez speed figure (albeit dangerous in races like this) and the trainer is in cracking form. May have learnt plenty from that last run, which was a fairly deep race.
1.35 – I have covered above. I have had a small EW tickle on Milborough just in case at 40s, to join those two above.
Hunters Hoof – UP won this last year and is on his last winning mark. Henderson is in form also. Looks interesting enough around 6/1. This may be an afterthought after that chase run though.
Debece looks decent also- but 3/1 is short for any Vaughan horse if you ask me! 🙂 (can be bloody inconsistent at times, poor runs sometimes from nowhere)
I suppose Byron Flyer Up hasn’t done much wrong and won well the last day, again for the in form Ian Williams. He won’t be far away either. Maybe those two at around 6s will do for my track side entertainment. I would like to see the McCain horse run well as he has talent I think, but was just a bit too poor for me the last day.
Not a betting race I don’t think. One I will just watch and enjoy. Depends if Many Clouds WON is 100%, which I am not sure he will be. I am not sure the 4 runners, slow pace, will suit the fav either. MC may try and lead all the way- which he could do until a couple from home- then the fitness question. If I do bet, it will probably be him – heart/head/pace. Jonjo’s is the exciting one in here.
Blimey. No strong views actually.
Valadom and Troika Steppes are the two out and out front runners. So,pace wise, they are interesting. 7 year olds have a poor record in this though but I am interested to see Valadom jump around here.
Bennys Mist is the solid one and won’t be far away albeit a niggle as to the ground not being testing – he is 0/16,4 places in handicaps when ‘good’ in the going. Seventh Sky could be close again, albeit those carrying 11-12 are now 0/14,1p last 12 renewals- small samples though I suppose.
I cant work out As De Mee- WON he has the ability I think, and still has time on his side- but he does throw in some poor runs. He seems to have been the talking horse- and I fancied him here in April when he was poor over these fences. Were he not trained by Nicholls I suspect he would be a bigger price. But he is, and is hard to fully rule out. Not overly convinced. Maybe the hood being removed may make a positive difference? If he runs to his very best, some graded form, he would go close.
I think I will back Troika Steppes EW for sure- he has a special place in the heart having won at 25s for TTP followers a couple of runs back and bar for taking a fence with him, would have gone a tad closer the last day. He can hit one fence per round, but I will get a bold front running ride for my money.
Bennys/Valadom/Seventh Sku make up my shortlist of 4 I think, with an eye on the Nicholls horse. I can’ back them all though so some pondering to do.
JOCKEYS... to note, as an aside… I found it of some interest that Richard Johnson rides at Chepstow today and Danny Cook at Wetherby (wasn’t sure if he could have ridden Ellison’s at Sandown). Also as someone pointed out to me on Twitter, Paddy Brennan goes to Chepstow also to ride plenty for Tizzard- Fergal Mael Duin may be the most interesting of those. We shall see how many, if any, winners those three have between them…
Right, phew. That will do for this rather long post. Hopefully the odd winner scattered about but if nothing else I hope you have enjoyed the read.
Good luck with any bets.
p.s If you see me at Aintree, do say hello. I will no doubt have my blue woolly hat on with my Many Clouds scarf around my neck. (bought on GN day before I froze to death).