Saturday 7th February

One bet for Saturday’s racing.


Theunnamedsoldier 16/1 each way 2.15 Uttoxeter


Nigel Hawke hasn’t trained a winner since November but I’m hoping he bucks that trend today. This 2m4f handicap hurdle on soft looks right up his ally, he’s been coming to the boil quite nicely and I expect that he will prove to be better than his current rating of 113 over hurdles. He was a well beaten but not unpromising 3rd in a decent novice hurdle at Newbury before Christmas and looked to have some ability when staying on through beaten horses on his penultimate start in another novice event. He tackled handicaps for the first time last time out and ran a solid race, doing his best work late on when 5th at Chepstow off a mark of 115, he’s been dropped a handy couple of lbs for that effort also. That outing should leave him spot on for today and it’s far from a strong heat. The 16/1 available looks massive and I’d have him half the price.

Thursday 5th February

Two Turtle Doves ran a belter for us at Wolverhampton, finishing 3rd at a massive 33/1, but for his rider dropping the whip turning in it could well have been a victory. Two bets for Thursday’s racing


Imperial Vic 12/1 1.55 Huntingdon each way


Imperial Vic has had two runs for Harriet Bethell and it could be a case of third time lucky today off a mark of 110. A decent sort for Michael Smith, he was once rated 120 over hurdles and had a peak of 137 over fences. Hvaluedles record reads pretty well also, 3 wins, 1 second and 2 thirds from just 8 runs over the smaller obstacles. The only time he was unplaced over hurdles was last time out at Fakenham where he got very tired in hugely testing conditions on the back of a short break. He’ll strip a far fitter horse or that outing and should have no issue with the stamina sapping 3m2f trip today and that’s before you take into account that he has been dropped 4lbs by the handicapper for that run. It’s not the strongest handicap you’ll see and with a question mark over most of these the 12/1 looks cracking each way value.


Habesh 5/1 5.10 Wolverhampton


The Irish raider in the last at Wolverhampton looks a cracking bet at the 5/1 mark. Eugene O Sullivan makes the trip from Cork and his charge is well above some of his competitors on previous form. Thought good enough to run at the Fred Winter at Cheltenham back in 2013, he has ability on the flat and has shown that by winning a nice handicap at Dundalk December before last. He ran well on his penultimate start in Ireland when not beaten far in 3rd over 2m at Dundalk and you can put a line through his last run. First time cheek pieces today, combined with the fact Robert Winston rides and this is arguably the weakest race he has contested lead me to wonder why he isn’t market favourite. I’d be surprised if he didn’t go very close to landing a touch for his Irish connections.

Monday 26th January

A joyous return as 16/1 shot Loyalty won for followers on Saturday. A smashing effort, returning at 10/1.


One bet for tomorrow.


Two Turtle Doves 14/1 each way 2.40 Wolverhampton

This is a weak handicap run over 6f for amateur riders. Michael Mullineaux’s mare Two Turtle Doves looks a likely candidate at a big price. Rated 60 on turf she has had 3 recent runs on the all weather and with the handicapper being quite lenient, she finds herself running off a mark of 49 here tomorrow.  The slight step up in trip to a sharp 6f should suit, especially in this sort of event, and it would be no great surprise if she did trouble the judge. She will need some luck in running but granted she finds the gaps then the 14/1 may look very big indeed.



Saturday 24th January

Back from quite the break from the website! Two bets for Saturday’s racing.


Goohar Doncaster 12.25 8/1 each way

This isn’t the strongest handicap hurdle for a Saturday and it may well be worth taking a chance on the Henry Daly trained 6 year old. A decent sort as a novice last season he returned to handicaps this season with two strong runs in decent company including a 2nd to Starluck at Cheltenham on his penultimate start. He was below par last time at Haydock but put a line through that run as the ground was heavier than heavy! Back to better ground (soft officially but may end up good to soft) off a mark of 120 he must have every chance in this company. 8/1 is too big about his chances and hopefully he’ll get the day off to a flyer.


Loyalty Lingfield 2.35 16/1 each way.

A once rated 102 horse who has earned almost £100,000 in prize money running in a class 4 off 75, what’s not to like for a 16/1 poke! His last win came 14 months ago but his last couple of runs have signalled that he may be close to returning to the winners enclosure. He didn’t enjoy the kickback at Chelmsford on his latest start but the handicapper is continuing to relent and a return to lingfield is certain to suit. Tony Hamilton takes the reigns and although there are one or two better fancied horses in the race the value undoubtedly lies with Derek Shaw’s 8 y/o.

An Irish Cheltenham

With the Cheltenham festival just two days away, many are touting Willie Mullins to reign supreme, and rightly so! He arguably has the strongest team of novices ever going into the festival. If any trainer had one of Vautour, Champagne Fever, Faugheen, Briar Hill, Felix Yonger, Djakadam and Ballycasey they’d be more than pleased, add in his stable stars Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Annie Power along with a formidable team of bumper runners then it’s easy to see why he’s 4/11 for top trainer! We’ve heard all about these horses, we know the pro’s and con’s of each, but what about the other Irish trained runners? Can Ireland land a blow outside of the Mullins yard? Below I take a look at 3 potential winners for Ireland.


Sizing Gold – JLT Novices Chase (Thursday) – 12/1

The JLT (formally the jewson) looks an open race this year. Felix Yonger heads the market and looks likely to get his desired good ground but he hasn’t convinced me in his preparation and at current prices he’s worth taking on. Wonderful Charm had his work interrupted with a set back and is opposable while Taquin De Seuil would prefer softer ground. Oscar Whisky and Vukovar are respected but in Sizing Gold, Henry De Bromhead holds more than a serious chance of another festival winner.

An above average bumper and novice hurdle performer, his future was always going to be over fences and he has not disappointed me thus far. 2nd in a Grade 2 to Pont Alexandre over hurdles last season, I was looking forward to seeing him make his debut over fences. That run came over 2m4f at Navan where he travelled kindly and jumped impeccably to score with authority. He went to Naas a month later to take on Foxrock over 3 miles on heavy ground. Once again he devoured his fences, jumping straight at every one before tiring quickly in the bad ground to finish 2nd. That was no bad result, the winner is the favourite for the 4 miler, while Sizing Gold will be a far better horse on decent ground. We haven’t seen him since and he goes to Cheltenham fresh. His jumping and ability to travel strongly will be a serious advantage in a race like this. He looks every inch a potential star and has clearly been over looked in the betting for this. His current price of 12/1 is very attractive and he should certainly give you a good run for your money.


Un Beau Matin – Martin Pipe Conditionals Hurdle (Friday) – 25/1

Gordon Elliott has a great record at the Cheltenham festival, his horses seem to come alive up that hill, and one of his handicappers that can go well at a massive price is the Gigginstown owned Un Beau Matin.

A well regarded recruit from France, he was a little slow to show his ability, 2nd to Jezki in a Grade 3 event before winning at Naas. He went to the festival last year on the back of those efforts and was sent to post a 16/1 chance for the Coral Cup off a mark of 142. He went well for a long way before tiring coming down the hill, and falling at the last. That run mightn’t inspire many but he’s better than that and once that experience of Cheltenham hasn’t left his mark he is certainly one to keep on the right side of this week. He has ran plenty of solid races in defeat this year, 2nd to the likes of Boston Bob and stable mate Mala Beach, while his latest effort behind Dunguib left one feeling there was more to come from him. He returns to Cheltenham off a 4 lbs lower mark, 138 and although he also holds an entry for the Coral Cup, this race looks an easier assignment. At 25/1 he looks a good each way play.


Thomas Edison – County Hurdle (Friday) – 25/1

Tony Martin is another man more than able to land a big handicap at Cheltenham. he won this very race last year with Ted Veale and he may well land back to back renewals with his inmate Thomas Edison.

This 7 y/o has the look of a very well handicapped horse to me. He won a decent bumper at Leopardstown in his younger days, beating the likes of Champagne Fever and Bright New Dawn. He only has one victory over hurdles to his name, in a maiden, but don’t let that put you off. He has had two spins over hurdles this season, first up a race he was unlucky not to win at Downroyal, badly hampered and didn’t get a clear run, before going to Cheltenham for the Greatwood in November. Well supported in the market and the chosen JP McManus horse of AP McCoy he was brought down at the 4th hurdle before the race got going. Plenty were expecting him to give a good account of himself that day and it’s very interesting that we haven’t seen him since, perhaps connections didn’t want to ruin his handicap mark? He runs off 138, and you’d have to believe he’s got a bit in hand! He only held one entry at the festival so this may have been the plan for some time and he’ll have no issues getting in. The 25/1 available now could be significantly shorter on Friday and he rates as one of the bets of the week.

Festival Fallers


How likely is your horse to fall at the Cheltenham festival? I’ve gone back through all the runners since 2005 and the table below displays all those that have Fallen (F) Unseated (U) and have been Brought Down (B) in the last 9 years. It is split into three groups, all runners, those priced at less than 10/1 and those priced at less than 5/1 split between hurdlers and chasers.

FUB/Total  % FUB/Hurdles  % FUB/Chase  %
All 319/4071 7.84% 73/2017 3.62% 246/2054 11.98%
Runners <10/1 74/989 7.48% 19/443 4.29% 55/546 10.07%
Runners <5/1 15/262 5.73% 1/115 0.87% 14/147 9.52%

It is a solid sample size and the figures are quite interesting.

You’d obviously expect chasers to fall more often than hurdlers but interestingly there is quite a discrepancy between those priced at less than 5/1. Just one horse from 115 that went off at less than 5/1 over hurdles has fallen, 0.87%, while 14 from 147 runners over fences have come to grief, 9.52% of runners. This is interesting as given the pace of most races at the festival you would perhaps expect a greater frequency of fallers. Perhaps the reason for this is how good a horse you have to have to be sent off at less than 5/1. Only 262 horses from 4071 have been sent off in this price bracket, that’s 6.44%. But for less than 1% of runners to fall over hurdles is more than significant. Feel free to leave your own theories in the comment section below but I’d believe this is because we are dealing with top class animals in the lower price bracket. At Grade 1 level below 5/1, it can almost be taken as a given that horses have no jumping issues. It’s a surprising figure but an important one none the less.