Friday, 27 April 2018

End of season report - 2017-18 (including survey feedback)


As always, I’ll begin the season review with the headline figures:

For the 2017-18 season (Nov 1st – Apr 14st) a total of 193 tips were issued across 156 races, with 178.5pts staked.

If you had managed to secure the price advised in the tips email, then you would have achieved a profit of 77.78pts (43.5% ROI).

It’s always a bit tricky knowing what a ‘fair’ price is, when I’m working out the figures: however, I only quote prices available with the main bookmakers – and I issue at times when they should be prepared to take a bet.

Whilst not everyone will have achieved these figures – most should have got close – and some may even have bettered them !

That statement is backed up by the fact that the figures for the season judged at BSP, are very similar to those at advised prices.

If you had taken BSP, to advised stakes, on all of the tips, then before commission, you would have made a profit of 73.19pts (41% ROI).

Obviously, a single figure doesn’t tell the whole story – and there was some variance in the prices of a number of the tips (the advised price was slightly better for most – but the BSP was significantly better for a few).
The bottom line however, is that if BSP had been taken, profits for the season would have been virtually the same as at advised price (which is certainly food for thought).

Tips Analysis

Although of questionable value, I like to monitor how the tips perform in terms of finishing positions (it helps give me a feel for whether the tips were particularly ‘lucky’ - or ‘unlucky’).
During the season, the following placings were achieved:

1st – 23
2nd – 21
3rd – 19
4th – 21

The consistent spread across the placings, suggests that the impact of luck was minimal (maybe slightly lucky).

Almost 23% of the selections finished first or second, which is close to my target of 25%.
Similarly just over 43% of selections finished in the first 4 – which again, is close to my target of 50%.

The numbers were probably slightly down on target, because Big races, tend to mean bigger fields – so getting placed is harder !

Another measure of ‘luck’ that I use, is how many of the tips that traded at 2.1 or less, subsequently went on to win the race.

This season, there were 42 horses traded at 2.1 or less (all of them actually traded at 2 or less).

23 of these won – 2 more than would have been expected with ‘average’ luck.

The suggestion again, is that the tips were slightly lucky during the season (though not as lucky, as they were unlucky last season !).

I didn’t feel they had much luck in the final month of the season - but in truth, up until that point, I couldn’t have complained.

In terms of the races that I tipped in: then 30 of the 193 tips were in races run in Ireland  - and they yielded a profit of 31.5pts (thanks mainly to Outlander and Tower Bridge !)
I doubt that will surprise many of you – as you all know how keen I am on the Irish racing !

Of the remaining 163 tips: 80 were in class 1 races (almost half) – with 44 in class 2; 37 in class 3 and just 2 in class 4.

I think this helps explain why the prices generally stood up so well (because most of the tips were in races with strong markets).

Interestingly, if you ignore the ante-post tips – and ones at the big spring festivals (Cheltenham in particular), then there were very few tips which crashed in price.

Ellens Way (which was one of the 2 tips in class 4 races) and Kris Spin, were the only winning tips, whose advised price was more than 50% greater than the eventual BSP.

If your profits didn’t come up to scratch this season, then it was probably because you missed the early price – but also, didn’t wait for the subsequent drift !
Timing can often be key ! 

Generally, whilst it is true that some of the tips shorten in price just after issue, many of them do drift back out to the advised price - or even beyond – which is something that is worth bearing in mind...

Changes to the service scope (including the new midweek blog)

As you are all aware, this was the first season where the service has focused solely on ‘Big races’.
The change was in response to the issues associated with trying to tip in small races, which came to a head last season.

I personally feel that the change was a great success, as it gave me the space to better focus on the races where we could actually place a bet.
It doesn’t surprise me that the end result was a greatly improve bottom line – and I don’t intend to make any change to the Main service scope for next season !

The midweek blog was a product of the change in scope – and I’m undecided as to how successful that was (the survey didn’t help much in removing the uncertainty !)

From my perspective; then it wasn’t too much of an issue finding the time to post on the blog – and I liked the fact that I didn’t feel compelled to post on any day (even if things got a bit silly towards the end of the season, when the bad weather decimated the mid week fixtures).

I liked the fact that I could just offer an opinion - rather than having to find tips – and I know that some people found it useful/entertaining. However, I don’t know exactly how many…

My feeling is that around 50 people read the blog, most days: about 30 Main service subscribers – plus about 20 others.

I was hoping that the blog might provide a source of new subscribers (with slightly different profiles) – but so far this hasn’t happened !
Maybe it’s a slow burner…

My current feeling is that the blog should continue in roughly its existing format, for at least another season.

It’s not a tipping vehicle (for a variety of reasons) – so there still won’t be any tips.
However, I may broaden the Lunchtime Nap concept and give more selections (possibly with star ratings).
I won’t maintain a P&L for them though – so it will be up to individuals to decide whether they can use the information to help make a profit…

The Forum

The TVB forum completed its third season – but in terms of popularity, it’s a bit like the blog !

Some people love it – and some just aren’t interested…

Personally, I think it is a valuable resource – though it obviously needs individuals to input, in order for that to be the case.

The likes of Chris, Francis, Neil, Dave, Gags, Paul and Steve, regularly do just that – and hopefully get plenty out of it.

I also know that quite a few of you appreciate their input – even if that’s rarely explicitly stated !

Undoubtedly the most valuable thing to come out of the forum in the past 12 months, has been Chris’s System bets.

In a show of rare diligence and determination, Chris has taken a seed of an idea and produced a System which has recorded outstanding profits for 6 consecutive months (I’ll gloss over this month – though there are still a few days in which things could be turned around !)

The really impressive aspect of Chris system is that has been profitable, betting either late morning – or at BSP.
For many of you, that should be gold dust – and Chris and I will be getting results proofed by the SBC over the next 6 months, with a view to offering it as a subscription option for the new TVB season.

More on that in October (hopefully !)

Survey results

Firstly, a quick thank you to everyone who completed the TVB survey.

It got a much higher response level than I expected, with over 80% of you taking the time to answer.
As s result, I do feel I have a view that can be relied upon.

The only issue is, there is quiet a lot of contradiction in the detail – but I guess that’s understandable (as the TVB service offers so many options !)

One thing that virtually everyone agreed on (98%), is that the change in focus to Big races, was the right move.
In truth, that was the main question in the survey – and with the P&L bottom line supporting it as well, I can categorically state, that won’t change next season !

In terms of the suitability of the tipping windows, then as you would expect, most people had a view on when was best – but they weren’t all in agreement !

Some don’t like the day before; some don’t like early morning; some don’t like late morning !

However, with just over 70% happy with the day before and late morning – and nearly 90% happy with early morning, it’s another thing which is unlikely to change.

As you all know, I only issue tips when I think you should be able to get on (so the race is priced up and the market relatively stable).
I like to issue them as early as I can, because it makes producing the write-up easier for me, if I know where I stand, tips-wise.
The fact that the prices have generally stood up, should mean that the time the tips are issued, isn’t really that important.

Hopefully, the BSP figures will give more of you confidence, that if you miss a particular price, there’s a fair chance it will re-appear closer to the off.

In terms of the write-ups: then most of you (95%) seem happy with it (as you would expect, after 6 seasons !).
There will always be tweaks I could make – but I also need to make the process of producing the write-up, as simple as possible (as it generally takes me 2-3 hours).

It’s also pleasing to see that most of you (90%) back some of the Mentions (hopefully not all of the Mentions !); whilst half of you back savers – and a quarter of you look for in running plays.
These are the areas where the write-up will hopefully continue to provide added value, compared to most other services.

As I’ve already said, about 30 of you use the forum (at least occasionally !); and whilst Chris’s System bet thread is understandably the most popular offering; Dave’s Naps competition, Steve’s Pricewise thread – and my eye catcher thread, all have their followers.
There’s always scope for another sub forum or two though - if any of you have any good ideas !

The midweek blog, was the area where it was most difficult for me to reach any conclusions from the survey.

About half of you seem to use it: with a third using it regularly to find bets; a third using it sometimes to find bets – and a third never using it as a bet source !

The general format (evening preview, lunchtime update, review) got a positive response – but there was a split in terms of whether there should be a Lunchtime nap.

Possibly the most interesting question concerned whether you were happy that the blog is available to non-subscribers.

Over 70% of you were comfortable with this – acknowledging its potential value to me as a marketing tool.
As I’ve already said, there will be no explicit tips on the blog, so people can really only use the content as a guide.

Overall, I was very happy with response to the survey.
I’ve emailed everyone who commented on any of the questions - hopefully providing a satisfactory response to any points made !

I will certainly look to repeat the exercise, in 12 months time…

Conclusions and next season

Usually, when I reach this point, I’m full of suggested improvements for next season – but that’s not the case this time…

Generally, the season went exceptionally well – aside from the final month (when I feel the dreadful weather messed things up).

I’ve continually evolved the service over the past 5 years – and whilst I would never think I’ve cracked it – I am probably as close to where I wanted to get, as I will ever be…

I will look to tweak the mid week blog next season – but the changes to the Main service will be minimal.

Hopefully the biggest change will be the introduction of a System bet subscription option, which will hopefully suit quite a few of you…

As always, I would like to thank you all for your support over the past 6 months.
Particular thanks need to go to Chris, Francis, Dave and Steve for their efforts in driving threads on the forum.

If I can find a bit of time (and the racing is up to scratch !) then I will make the occasional post over the summer, on the blog (and advise via the forum and Twitter, as now).

Otherwise, expect me to get back in touch at the beginning of October, with the plans for the 2018-19 season  !

Wishing you all a great summer !


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Review of the day

I have to admit, that when On Tour failed to pick up, and reel in Thomas Patrick, I had resigned myself to another losing day…

I actually think that I’ve issued some decent tips, this week, at Aintree – Grand Vision and Landin, spring readily to mind.

However, virtually non of them had run their race – until On Tour…

He was a little risky – but I could see from around a mile from home, that he was travelling well – really well !

Part of me was just pleased to see a tip performing as hoped – but ofcourse, I really wanted him to win.

However, in accordance with Sods Law (and I’ve become very familiar with that recently !), he bumped in to one.

I knew that Thomas Patrick was the main danger – but felt was too short in the betting, at 9/2 this morning.

As so often seems to be the case however, 9/2 ended up a generous price - with him backed in to a scarcely believable 3/1 – in a highly competitive 16 runner handicap.

He actually made a mess of a fence on the first circuit – but he clearly had plenty in hand of his mark – and gamely though On Tour tried, he couldn’t run him down…

The great thing about racing however, is that things can change in an instant – and that’s precisely what happened in the very next race…

Again, Identity Thief was hardly the most solid selection I’ve issued this season (few 20/1 shots are !) - but I knew he had the ability to win, provided he stayed the trip.

As expected Sean Flanigan settled him at the back early – and he gradually picked off his rivals, on the run down the back straight.

Turning in, he was still on the bit and looked likely to at least place: when he was still cantering approaching the last, I was very optimistic – and sure enough, he found sufficient on the run in to hold off Wholestone, quite comfortably…

Rarely has a winner been so welcome !

It’s been a long time between drinks – too long, in fact !

Obviously, at that point, I was optimistic that Vieux Lio Rouge might be able to take the big one – and completely turn around fortunes.

And he ran well – but not quite well enough. His finishing position of nineth being a little worse than he’s managed the 2 previous seasons…

Somewhat ironically his connections took the opening race on the card –and in doing so, scuppered both of the Dan Skelton horses that I’d sided with.

I expected both of them to run better than they did – but as I said earlier, that has been the case for a few of the horses I’ve put up over the past 3 days (I’m blaming the ground !)…

As for the Mentions:

Then On the Blind Side just didn’t fire (probably the only disappointing runner Nicky Henderson had all week) – leaving Black Op to courageously fend off Lostintranslation.
A rare recent victory for the form book over stable form !

Petite Mouchoir boiled over a little pre-race – and whilst he didn’t blow it completely, it probably resulted in him running a little below form.
It was Diego de Charmil who took advantage – which was a little surprising, considering he has a marked preference for decent ground.

It did look like there would be a winning Mention in the final race of the day, but having just taken up the running, Scheu Time stumbled and fell after jumping the final flight.

It just goes to show, it’s never over until the Fat Lady sings !

And, as far as this season goes, then the Fat Lady has not only started singing – she gone through her repertoire – and is now packing away her stuff !

The 2017-18 TVB season is officially over !

I’d just like to thank you all, once again, for your support throughout the past 6 months.

It did look like it was going to be the best season ever – but the last month has been a struggle.
I guess we wouldn’t want it too easy !!!

I will spend next week, working on the end of season report – and hopefully get it issued, sometime next weekend (or early the week after).
I’m also in the process of responding on any points made in the survey - so if you completed it and have not heard from me yet, you will do soon !

As for the next few months – then I will certainly be active in the forum (Chris’s System bets will run throughout the summer months) – and I may even post the occasional preview on the midweek blog, assuming there are some suitable race and I can find a bit of time !

Other than that, expect me to be back in touch in the autumn - for the launch of the 2018-19 TVB season.

I hope you all have a great summer !


Daily write-up - Apr 14th (Aintree Day 3)

Day 3 of the Aintree Grand National meeting (there is also NH racing at Chepstow and Newcastle).

Grand National Day !

It’s also the final day of the 2017-18 TVB season !

What had been a great season, prior to March, has gone a bit wonky lately !

I won’t go into why I think things have gone awry (I’ll save that for the end of season report !), instead, I’ll focus on the day ahead – and my final chance to return the season P&L to its former glory !

That said, it’s not going to be an easy thing to achieve.

We’ve already seen many times this week, how most of the races are either a little bit too obvious or nearly impossible ! – and it’s the same again today…

At least we’ve got a good idea on the ground.
I felt it was still soft yesterday – maybe edging towards heavy – but not desperate.

With no rain in the past 24 hours, I would expect it to be the same today…

Despite that, I’ve not gone mad with the tips – or the staking (the conditions and the races, just haven’t lent themselves to it).

I’ve just gone with one in the National (I’m sure you all have a view on the race yourselves !) – plus tips in 3 of the days other races.

I would love to finish the season on a high – I kind of feel we deserve it.
However, as we all know, you don’t always get what you deserve in this life (certainly when you are betting !)

Anyway, for the final time this season, here’s the rationale for the days tips – plus my thoughts on the other races at Aintree…


1:45 Generally, Dan Skeltons horses have run well at the meeting, without winning – but I’m hoping one of his runners in this race, will be able to right that situation…
He actually runs 3: Shannon Bridge; No Hassle Hoff and Sir Mangan – and I want the first 2 named on side (be warned, if Sir Mangan wins, it could tip me over an edge !).
Shannon Bridge looks to be the stables number one hope (Harry rides) – and he is my main fancy in the race.
He disappointed on his most recent run at Haydock – in a Grade 2 novice event, on heavy ground.
It’s impossible to say what his issue was that day: it could have been the ground – or he could still have been feeling the effects of his previous run when second in another Grade 2 race at Doncaster.
He’s been given a good break since then – missing Cheltenham – so he arrives here a fresh horse.
He’s very inexperienced, having only run 4 times previously over hurdles – but that means he has plenty of scope for improvement.
His opening handicap mark of 140, looks fair – so if he can bounce back to the form he showed at Doncaster (or even improve on that), then I think he can go close…
I also think his stablemate, No Hassle Hoff, can go close.
He was sent off a short priced favourite for this race last year – and ran pretty well, to finish fourth.
He was still a novice at the time, and has improved this season - his first one in open company.
His fourth to Sam Spinner in November, was a good run: as was his subsequent third to Donna’s Diamond.
Both of those runs were on heavy ground, so he should have no issue with todays conditions.
Certainly, I think he is over priced, at 16/1…
Most of the dangers appear to be at the head of the market, with Debece and Connetable the 2 that I’m most fearful of.
However, neither of those is completely solid, so I’m prepared to take them on.
Golan Fortune is the only other one worthy of a Mention – and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see him well.

2:25 It’s very difficult to see an angle into this race, with Black Op and On the Blind Side looking a fair way superior to their rivals – but also dominating the betting.
Black Op can boast the best single piece of form: his second to Samcro in the Ballymore at Cheltenham – and based on that run, he should be favourite.
However, the Tom George stable isn’t firing at the moment, which is a worry when you are looking at a short price.
By contrast, Nicky Hendersons horses are on fire – and that adds hugely to the attraction of On the Blind Side.
He had to miss Cheltenham – but that may not have been a bad thing – and his form from earlier in the season, makes him the clear second best horse in the race.
The ground is a bit of a worry for him – but if he handles it, I suspect he’s the one to beat…
Western Ryder is probably the third best horse in the race – but also the third favourite !
He ran a good race in the Supreme hurdle a Cheltenham – and should benefit from the step up in trip today.
Exactly the same comments apply to Lostintranslation – so he too must have a chance of placing, even if his chance of winning is probably dependent on the 2 market leaders under-performing…
Taking into account her mares allowance, Momella is actually the third best horse in the race – and she should handle the soft ground.
I could see her running a decent race – but I will be surprised if she’s good enough to win.
Silver Concorde would have interested me most of the outsiders – if the ground had been better. However, he doesn’t really want it soft.
In the circumstances, Better Getalong may be best of those at big prices.
He will have no issue with conditions and has Davy in the saddle for good measure !

3:00 If the opposition was more credible, then I would be very tempted to take on Petit Mouchoir in this.
On official ratings, he is almost a stone superior to all of todays rivals – and if he runs to his best, then this won’t be a contest.
However, he endured a gruelling race at Cheltenham 4 weeks ago, and it remains to be seen whether that has left a mark.
Certainly, at a price of 4/7 I wouldn’t be prepared to pay to find out…
The trouble is, non of his rivals look like Grade 1 horses (in fact, most of them look like handicappers !).
I guess that won’t matter if Petit Mouchoir seriously under-performs, as something will have to win the race – the tricky bit is figuring out which one will be most likely to take advantage in that situation.
On official ratings, Shantou Rock is the next best horse in the race – but he may struggle on the ground.
Taking into account her mares allowance, Lady Buttons is only rated 1lb inferior to him – and she should have no issue with conditions.
She has also apparently been targeted at the race – which is always a positive.
She can be backed at 2/1 ‘without Petit Mouchoir’ – or at 6/1, EW – which has the advantage of a second bite at the cherry, if the favourite does bomb.
Kauto Riko is the other one worthy of consideration…
He’s rated 11lb inferior to Shantou Rock – but is in fine form and will have no issue with conditions.
He is just a handicapper – but that might not stop him getting placed.
At 28/1, he could be worth a tiny speculative EW play…

3:40 This is a very open looking handicap, in which a case can be made for many of the runners – without any of them looking particularly solid…
In truth, that’s possibly a bit harsh on Thomas Patrick, as he does look solid.
However, it’s doubtful that he has a great deal in hand of his mark: so 9/2 in a 17 runner handicap, sees little margin in his price…
I think there is some margin in the price of On Tour.
He won over todays course, on his seasonal debut in November - and gets to run from a mark just 2lb higher this afternoon.
That’s because he has disappointed on his subsequent outings - but he’s a horse who tends to perform best when fresh.
It’s very interesting that he’s not run since January – and that he’s back at a course where he’s run well in the past (he finished second on his only other run at the track).
He steps up to 3 miles today – and he’s unproven over the distance.
However, he has won a PTP over that trip – and it was stamina which won him the day, back in November.
He’s not guaranteed to run his race – so is risky from that perspective.
However he comes with plenty of positives and if it all drops in place, then I think he can win…
Viconte du Noyer is even riskier than On Tour !
He was an eye catcher on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham back in November, but has disappointed on his 3 subsequent runs, being pulled up on the 2 most recent.
As a result of those runs, his handicap mark has dropped and he is now 4lb lower than his last winning mark – the same mark as when he finished second at Punchestown, last spring.
He also steps back up in trip today – and I think that will help him.
The final positive, is the form on Colin Tizzards stable.
As Chris has pointed out (and profited from !) on his system thread in the forum, Tizzard seems to target this meeting – and if that’s the case with Viconte du Noyer, he has a horse sufficiently well handicapped to be able to take advantage.
Of the others, then I respect the chances of both Rocklander and Bells of Ainsworth – plus ofcourse, Thomas Patrick.
That said, if either On Tour or Voconte du Noyer are on their ‘A’ game, I think they are both sufficiently talented to beat them all.

4:20 All things being equal, Sam Spinner should win this…
He was sent off 9/4 fav for the Stayers hurdle at Cheltenham, on the back of a couple of very good wins earlier in the season.
Things didn’t work out for him at Cheltenham – but he still ran a fair race to finish fifth.
He was actually just behind Wholestone that day – but I would expect that form to be reversed this afternoon (as not only did Sam Spinner under perform a little, Cheltenham suits Wholestone better than Aintree is likely to).
In truth, the two of them stand head and shoulders above their rivals today - but, as I’ve said a few times already this week, you never know what Cheltenham has taken out of a horse – plus something has to finish third (at least!).
And the race for third place looks to be a very open one !
The Worlds End is third favourite in the race – but his stable is out of form and he won’t appreciate the soft ground: TVB fav Lil Rockerfeller is next in the market – but he just hasn’t looked himself this season – and comes here on the back of a few tough races.
Old Guard is another who is likely to be caught out by the ground; whilst Thomas Campbell has gone off the boil – and Coole Cody just shouldn’t be good enough (even though he’s a fair bit better than the 2 rags in the race !).
By a process of elimination, you end up with Identity Thief.
He ran fourth in the Champion hurdle on his most recent outing – and as a Grade 1 winner in the past, certainly has the class required to win this race.
He will also have no issue with the ground – having put up a couple of his best ever performances, on very soft ground.
The question mark with him, is the trip.
He’s never run over further than 2m4f – so stepping up to 3 miles will be a journey into the unknown…
That said, he was staying on like a lion up the Cheltenham hill last time, so I can understand connections wanting to give it a go…
I would expect Sean Flanigan to hold him up at the back of the field – and then to try and pick off his rivals up the home straight.
Whether he’ll get past them all, only time will tell – but in a race where there is very little depth – I think it is worth risking that he will pass most of them !

5:15 You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not going to write reams on every runner in the Grand National !
The race is covered just about everywhere - and anything I could say about the various horses, will have already been written somewhere else…
What I will say, is that I don’t think the race is quite as open as has been the case in recent years – I would be reasonably happy to dismiss half the field (though admittedly, most of them would be outsiders !).
I think that’s because if someone owns a horse which is high enough rated to run in the race, they now run – regardless of whether it’s the ‘right’ race.
Ground conditions will have a big bearing on the outcome – as too will luck in running.
I think a case of sorts can be made for the top 10 in betting – but non of them now look over-priced.
A few of them did a couple of weeks ago – and I’m kicking myself for not putting us on any of them (I considered tipping Captain Redbeard, Bais des Isles and Seeyouatmidnight, when they were all much, much bigger prices than they are now).
However, that’s done – or rather, not done !
I actually still think there is some value in the race- in fact, I think there is some serious value – in the shape of Vieux Lion Rouge.
He’s run really well in the last 2 renewals of the race, finishing seventh in 2016 and sixth, last year.
It could be argued that he’s had his chance and come up short – but I’m not so sure…
For a start, he is now 9 – and should se him at the peak of his powers.
Arguably, he was a bit too young the past 2 seasons.
More than that however, this year, I think he was been trained to peak today – whereas in the past 2 seasons, he peaked earlier in the campaign.
Certainly, his most recent run at Ascot, was full of promise, with him staying on strongly behind Regal Encore.
His ability to stay the trip has been questioned – but it was stamina that won him the Becher chase over 3m3f last season – and also when he defeated Blaklion over 3m4f at Haydock (and he is 5lb better off with that one today).
I really do think that he’s got ticks in just about every box - and 8/1 to finish in the top 5, strikes me as a good bet…
Of those at very big prices, then I could construct half cases for Houblon des Obeaux (trainer form); Carlingford Lough (back class) and Final Nudge (unexposed) – but non of them would be anywhere near as solid as Vieux Lion Rouge – and yet they aren’t significantly bigger prices.
Granted luck in running, I think he’s got a real chance of bettering his finishing position of the past 2 seasons.

6:20 This looks a bit of a minefield – and not really a race you should take on without some inside knowledge (which I don’t have !).
Michaels Mount and Scheu Time both make their handicap debuts off what could turn out to be lenient marks – and if either is particularly strong in the market, I wouldn’t want to be laying them !
Gordon Elliott brings over High Expectations for his first run since hacking up at Leicester in November (when he was a winning Lunchtime Nap on the midweek blog !) – though I would have some reservations about the suitability of the ground for him...
Sternrubin tends to contest better races than this – and is likely to try and make all; whilst Maquisard was an impressive winner last time, but remains unexposed and could easily have scope for more improvement.
I’d be a little surprised if the winner didn’t come from these 5 – but it’s not guaranteed !
If forced off the fence, I would probably side with Scheu Time – particularly if he’s well supported.
However, this is very much a watching race…

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Aint 1:45 Shannon Bridge 0.5pt win 16/1
Aint 1:45 No Hassle Hoff 0.5pt win 16/1
Aint 3:40 On Tour 0.5pt win 14/1
Aint 3:40 Viscount du Noyer 0.5pt win 20/1
Aint 4:20 Identity Thief 0.5pt EW 20/1
Aint 5:15 Vieux Lion Rouge 0.5pt EW 33/1


Aint 2:25 On the Blind Side (C )
Aint 3:00 Lady Buttons (S )
Aint 6:20 Scheu Time (O )

Review of the day

There was no joy with todays tips – and in truth, not a great deal to report…

The fact Irish Roe did best by not turning up, probably tells you all you need to know about how things went !

She certainly did a whole lot better that Landin, who was massive disappointment in the opener.
I was sufficiently keen on him, to double stakes this morning (admittedly from a minimum) – but he ran abysmally: never travelling and soon tailed off.
He should have handled the ground fine – so I’ve no idea what the issue was…

The race was won by Jester Jet – and given 4 or 5 goes at the race, I could have picked her.
However, you have to draw the line somewhere – and with all the uncertainty surrounding things at the moment, I’m inclined to draw it pretty high…

The next tip to run, was Elegant Escape – and I can’t complain too much about his effort.

His jumping was a bit stuttery – and he didn’t travel with great fluency – but to an extent, that is him.
He ran his race – but unfortunately, there were 2 better than him on the day.

The final 2 tips, ran in the Topham.

Polidam was backed into favouritism – and ran OK.
However, he encountered a fair few issues on the way round – and to win a race like that, you really need a smooth passage.

Eastlake also ran OK – to a point – but I think his chance was spoilt by the overnight rain…

The race that Irish Roe was supposed to contest, was won by Lalor.
He won at the meting 12 months ago – but would have been quite hard one to select today, having not shown much since – and seemingly having a preference for decent ground.

As for the Mentions:

Balco des Flos was a big disappointment in the feature Melling chase.
He travelled with his usual verve to the home turn – but then emptied in an instant.
He may not have handled the ground (he has a preference for good – despite winning on the soft at Cheltenham): or his effort at the festival, may have bottomed him.
It’s impossible to know for sure – all that can be said, is that he didn’t run his race…

Poetic Rhythm was a non runner in the novice hurdle – leaving Count Meribel as the sole Mention in the race.
He travelled nicely for the first 2 miles of the contest – but was quickly beaten, once the pace increased.

Al Dancer was the finally Mention on the day – and he ran really well in the bumper.
In fact, he was a little unlucky not to place – just running out of steam, close home.

Favourite, Danny Kirwan, drifted pre-race and finished nearer last than first.

Just one more chance to find something to stop this depressing run of form, then – no pressure !!


Daily write-up - Apr 13th (Aintree Day 2)

Day 2 of the Aintree Grand National meeting (there is also NH racing at Sedgefield and Ballinrobe).

The ground yesterday was riding soft – but apparently there has been quite a bit of rain, both overnight and this morning – so once again, I’m not really sure what to expect ! (though conditions certainly won’t be any quicker than they were yesterday !)

To be honest, the issue yesterday was less with the ground – and more with how you are supposed to tip/back the winners at these big meetings !

Without exception, every winner yesterday was well backed – either early or late – or both !

It’s always going to be hard for me to tip a horse when I can’t see any margin in the price – even if I think it has a chance.
However, it seems more and more, that if a horse truly has a chance – particularly at the Festivals – then it will be well backed.

Bentelimar was a great example yesterday: he literally could have gone off at 25/1 if he’d not been fancied, yet his price didn’t go above 10/1 all day.
Whilst both Finians Oscar and L’ami Serge started at much lower prices than you would have imagined – having looked tight enough, price wise, in the morning…

It’s difficult to know how best to play things.
I don’t like to tip early – but if I don’t, then the prices just go and I’m left with the choice of either not tipping, or tipping at a ‘non-value’ price.

If I could be sure that the price had been cut because the horse was fancied, then I guess I’d be prepared to accept that – but there are far more false market moves than there are ones with substance…

Anyway, something for me to ponder over the summer !

As for today, I’ve ended up with 5 tips spread across 4 races - so very similar to yesterday.
Let’s just hope I’ve done a bit better with the borderline calls !

Here is the rationale for the days tips – plus my thoughts on the other Aintree races.


1:45 As you would expect for a valuable 20 runner handicap, this is quite an open race – but I do like the look of Landin…
He’s still a novice and is relatively unexposed, compared to most of his rivals, having only run 10 times over hurdles.
However, his form has been progressive this season and his most recent effort, when beating Remiluc at Lingfield, at the beginning of last month, stands up to the closest scrutiny.
Prior to that run, Remiluc had finished fifth in the Betfair hurdle – and he followed it up by running second in the County hurdle – in short, Landin beat a rival at the top of his game.
The third horse in the race, Never Equalled, also subsequently won at Ffos Las.
So in the circumstances, the 8lb rise that Landin received for his victroy, doesn’t seem overly harsh.
He’ll be quite happy, if the overnight rain has got into the ground – but equally, he should be fine if it’s riding as it was yesterday.
Who Dares Wins looks his most dangerous rival, coming here on the back of a fine fifth place in the Pertemps final at Cheltenham.
The 3 mile trip seemed to stretch him that day, so I would expect him to be well suited by a return to 2m4f.
The only issue I have with him is that he didn’t look particularly well handicapped on his penultimate run – so maybe his Cheltenham effort flattered him…
Lough Derg Spirit and Spiritofthegames should both run well – but they are priced up accordingly – and look beatable.
Storm House looks potentially more dangerous, on his handicap debut. He’s been given an opening mark of 138 – but it’s very difficult to judge whether that is lenient or not…
Of those at bigger prices, then Massinis Trap should run well: as to should Jester Jet, for the in form Tom Lancey – though it will be a slight surprise if either is sufficiently well handicapped to win.

2:20 Provided the ground isn’t too soft, then I think Irish Roe has a good chance in this – and I don’t understand why she is a 20/1 shot…
Taking her sex allowance into consideration, then on official ratings, she is the joint second best horse in the race.
More than that, she has fully justified her rating, through a number of solid performances – and whilst that means she hasn’t got quite the scope of some of her rivals, it also means that she should perform to the expected level.
She actually disappointed on her most recent outing – but that was in the Betfair hurdle and came just two weeks after she had put in a massive effort against Marias Benefit at Doncaster.
There has to be a chance, that she was still feeling the effect of the Doncaster run when disappointing at Newbury – but she has been given plenty of time to recover since, and I expect her to be back in top form today.
Her runs earlier in the season, against William of Orange and Mohaayed, both represent high class handicap form – and if her rivals today, aren’t graded class, I think she will beat them…
Ofcourse, there is a chance that some of her rivals will turn out to be graded class (we don’t really know for sure, just yet).
Global Citizen certainly has star potential: as too does Vision des Flos – and to a lesser extent, Slate house and Scarlet Dragon.
However it is about potential with all 4 of those – whilst Irish Roe has solid form in the book.
In truth, it’s unlikely that at least one of the four won’t step up to the mark – but not impossible.
Furthermore, I’ll be surprised if all 4 are capable of performing at a higher level than Irish Roe.
That does assume that she runs her race – but provided she handles the ground, then I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t.

2:50 On ratings, this looks like a tight race, but I’m hopeful that Elegant Escape will be able to come out on top.
He finished third in the RSA chase at Cheltenham on his most recent outing – and based on that run, he certainly has every chance.
Black Corton was just behind him that day – and I would expect that form to be upheld, as that one has had a long, hard season, and I fear could be coming to well once too often, today…
In theory, Black Corton hold Ms Parfois on their previous run at Ascot – and whilst that form may not be upheld, it does mean that Elegant Escape should also have her measure…
Coo Star Sivola won the Ultima handicap at Cheltenham, looking an improved performer – however, he had a hard race that day – and I’m not convinced the form is as strong as that of Elegant Escape.
I wouldn’t be quite as quick to dismiss the chances of Terrefort, Mias Storm or Snow Falcon.
The first named ran really well when second to Shattered Love in the JLT at Cheltenham.
It’s very interesting that Nicky Henderson has chosen to step him up in trip today – and if he lasts home, I think he’s the one to beat.
That said, if the ground was on the quick side, I would be even more fearful of Mias Storm.
However, she does have a marked preference for decent ground – and she’s not going to get that.
Snow Falcon is the final one of interest and I could certainly seem him running well.
However, a recent unseat in the Irish National is hardly an ideal preparation – and whilst I wouldn’t be surprised to see him place, I’m not sure he is quite up to winning…
This certainly won’t be easy for Elegant Escape – but I think he is just about the best horse in the field, at todays trip – and the addition of first time cheek pieces to sharpen him up, seal the deal.
Colin Tizzard performed precisely the same trick with Native River exactly 2 years ago, before he won this race – and hr hasn’t looked back since !

3:25 It’s very hard to look beyond the 2 market leaders in this…
Both Min and Balco des Flos ran massive races in Grade 1 events at Cheltenham: the former, when finishing second in the Champion chase; and the latter when winning the Ryanair chase.
In truth, it might come down to which one has recovered best from their exertions – but ofcourse, we won’t know that until it is too late…
Ignoring that, then I prefer the chance of Balco des Flos – and he’s arguably a decent bet at 2/1.
Certainly, he was mightily impressive in beating Un De Sceaux – and that one is a very solid yard stick.
It’s also in his favour that todays race is over 2m4f – the same distance as the Ryanair.
His main rival, Min, isn’t categorically proven over the longer trip, with his best form coming at 2 miles.
It’s difficult to crab his run in the Champion chase, as he bumped into an exceptional horse in Altior.
That said, if you take Altior out of the race, then the form doesn’t read as well as that of Balco des Flos.
I’ve not tipped a single horse all season, at odds as low as 2/1, and I’m not going to start now.
However, Balco des Flos was quite tempting (as I only really have the slight concern over whether he will have recovered from Cheltenham – and the doubt over the ground).
It’s virtually impossible to make a case for the other 4.
They are all decent animals – but they aren’t in the same class as the 2 principals.
Politolgue should come out best of them – but he was well behind Min at Cheltenham, and there is no reason why he should reverse the form.
All things being equal, then this should be between Balco des Flos and Min – and I expect the former to come out on top.

4:05 As handicaps go, they don’t come much tougher to solve than this – and that includes tomorrows main event !
30 runners taking on the Aintree fences, in soft ground: it will be one for the brave – and the lucky !
It’s possible that the overnight rain will have had a big impact on the ground.
It seemed to be riding soft yesterday – but there must be a chance it will be edging towards heavy today.
If that is the case, then it won’t help the chances of Eastlake.
I would be keen on his chances, provided the ground is no worse than soft (so as it was yesterday) – but my enthusiasm will reduce, the more rain that falls…
He actually won this race 2 years ago – on soft ground – and from a mark 1lb higher than he races off today.
Admittedly he is now 12 – but I’m pretty sure the fire still burns and I reckon he remains capable of winning a race such as this.
Certainly he travelled with purpose on his most recent outing at Cheltenham – and I’m sure that race was just being used to ready him for today.
If he gets way with the ground, then I can see him running a really big race…
I don’t think the ground will be an issue for Polidam – in fact, I can see him relishing it.
Whether he’s as keen on the fences, only time will tell – but I’m hopeful !
He’s a difficult horse to quantify, as he has only run 4 times for Willie Mullins.
He was sent off 7/4 fav in a 14 runner handicap, on his debut for the stable at last seasons Punchestown festival – but disappointed.
He wasn’t anywhere near as strong in the market on his seasonal debut at Navan, back in November – but he hacked up !
He’s only run twice since then – both times in big handicap – and both times he has run with some credit, without being quite good enough to place.
I suspect that Willie has been getting to know him – and it strikes me as significant that he chosen to run him in this particular race, with all of the other options at Cheltenham, Fairyhouse and Punchestown.
Time will tell whether he has made the right call – but generally, Willie gets more right than he gets wrong, so I’m happy to trust his judgement !
Obviously in a race like this, there are plenty of others for whom a case can be made…
Flying Angel is starting to look well handicapped – and should run well, provided he handles the fences: whilst Ultragold won this race 12 months ago and must have a decent chance of repeating the feat, off a mark just 5lb higher.

4:40 Nicky Henderson saddles the 3 market leaders in this, in the shape of Santini, OK Corral and Chef des Obeaux.
All 3 ran in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham festival: with OK Corral finishing second, Santini third and Chef Des Obeaux unplaced.
I wouldn’t be completely sure that form would be upheld today – though it might be !
In truth, I think all 3 could be beatable – but unfortunately, I can’t find anything that I’m happy to take them on with…
The Albert Bartlett as a particularly gruelling race, so there must be a chance is has left its mark. That said, as was shown yesterday, Henderson is just about the best around at judging whether his horses have recovered sufficiently to take in both meetings.
If I were to take on his trio, then it would probably be with either Poetic Rhythm or Count Meribel.
Both are tough horses, so if this turns into a war (and it might), they will be good ones to have on your side.
That said, neither is rock solid, as Poetic Rhythm ran disappointingly in the Albert Bartlett, for no obvious reason: whilst Count Meribel has disappointed on his 2 most recent runs.
Obviously, they are not machines – and horses do have bad days – but it’s still hard to back them to bounce back, when you can find no reason for a poor run…
On balance then, I feel this has to be a watching race…

5:15 As was the case with the bumper that closed yesterday card, there is a very short priced favourite in this.
However, unlike yesterday, the horse in question – Danny Kirwan – doesn’t have the form in the book to justify his paltry odds.
His price is primarily down to his reputation, with him only having won a bumper at Kempton.
Admittedly he did it impressively, and in Pym, he beat a well regarded horse who had himself won a bumper on his only start.
However, Danny Kirwan was receiving 7lb that day – so strictly on the book, isn’t guaranteed to uphold the form.
More than that, there are at least half a dozen in this race, who either have the form or the potential, to challenge the favourite.
Top of the list, is Mercy Mercy Me – with his 8th in the Cheltenham bumper probably setting the standard for todays contest.
I would expect him to run his race – though he might be vulnerable to one of the less exposed ones…
Both Servano and Mister Fisher have won their only bumper – and both look to have at least as much potential as Danny Kirwan – yet are more than double his price.
Of those at longer prices, then I quite like Al Dancer.
He won on his debut for Nigel Twiston Davies and is the only representative in the race for a stable that has won the race twice, in recent years.
At 40/1 he could be worth a small speculative play.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !!



Aint 1:45 Landin 1pt win 14/1
Aint 2:20 Irish Roe 0.5pt EW 20/1
Aint 2:50 Elegant Escape 1pt win 11/2
Aint 4:05 Poildam 0.5pt win 16/1 (AP)
Aint 4:05 Eastlake 0.5pt win 28/1


Aint 3:25 Balco des Flos (C )
Aint 4:40 Poetic Rhythm & Count Meribel (S )
Aint 5:15 Al Dancer (S )

End of season report - 2017-18 (including survey feedback)

Overview As always, I’ll begin the season review with the headline figures: For the 2017-18 season (Nov 1 st – Apr 14 st ) a tota...