Day 1 Review:
The day got off to a great start for us yesterday. Klassical Dream our 3 star Selection won at odds of 6/1 under Ruby Walsh. The race never looked in doubt and he won handy. We also had a place with Aramon if you went with the advised 7 places each way. The 2nd race for us was a toss up between Hardline and Duc Des Geniereves. Hardline our selection disappointed and Duc Des Geniereves won at odds of 6/1. Coo Star Sivola didn't run it's true race in the 3rd. The two horses that it beat in the race last year were 1st and 2nd. Laurina had the race run to suit in the Champion hurdle and with Buveur D'air falling and Apples Jade disappointing she really had no excuses in defeat. Sharjah was going well until being brought down. Our best bet of the day was Benie Des Dieux and even typing that name makes me shake my head in disgust. She was running away with the race and was a sure winner only for falling at the last under Ruby. Shade of Annie Power all over again. It was a tough blow for us and for most punters. Roksana really was a lucky winner.
Sure would have been nice to land our 1st 5 star selection of the week but that's racing unfortunately. Tower Bridge ran a nice race and came 2nd in the 6th race. We liked the chances of the winner but just thought it wasn't good value given how open the race looked before hand. The race was a one sided event though and the winner looks to be a good prospect. The final race on the card as a compete mess of a race. There were lots of fallers including favourite Ballyward who brought down one horse and badly hampered 3 horses including our selection Ok Corral. The jockey tried his best to get the horse back into the race but the deficit was too much to make up so he pulled it up. Only 4 horses finished from 20 runners and they were all out on their feet at the finish. We mentioned the best jockeys usually win the race and Jamie Codd won it for Ben Pauling beating Discorama who had every chance. We staked 25 stars/points on the day. Our Return was 26.90. Just a very small profit if you followed our star system. If Benie Des Dieux had stood up it would have been a healthy profit. A shade unlucky with Ok Corral being hampered also. Hopeful of better today. The ground has gotten very soft so, its important to go with those who will relish the ground. There is an inspection for todays racing at 8 am due to high winds forecast. If the races are not run today this card will be transferred to Saturday. It might be best to hold off placing your bets until after the inspection.
Race 1: Ballymore Novices Hurdle - 1:30 PM
This years renewal of the Ballymore looks very strong with most of the best novices from the U.K and Ireland running in this rather than the Supreme Novices. Usually the fancied horses win this race. It rarely throws up an outsider but given the ground is so bad I wouldn't rule it out. This race is run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs and is usually a great trial for the following years Champion Hurdle. Stamina is a most in this race with the conditions been so bad. Champ will have its followers in this race as will Battleoverdoyen but for me neither are much value. Champ has the age against him and I’d question the form of it’s Grade 1 win. Battleoverdoyen is unbeaten and progressive but he’s a better horse on good ground, needs to improve his jumping and I think Sams Profile will reverse the placings with that one in this race based on their last run. Sams Profile will have the race run to suit and the stiff finish will bring out the best in him. The Irish have such a strong hand in this race and I think they could well fill out the placings. City Island to me is the one I really like in this. I've seen this horse first hand and I can tell you this horse has a real engine. He may not have Graded form but his other form suggest’s he’s up to this and this race has been the plan for a long time. Don’t let the trainer put you off this horse. His trainer won the Grand National and can ready one for the big day. Champion Hurdle winning jockey Mark Walsh retains the ride and he’ll go very close. This horse does have a win on soft ground and 3 other on good ground. I'm hoping the horses class shines through and gets him over the line in front. I think Sam's Profile is the main danger to City Island. Of the outsiders Dunvegan is one that could run well. I'd ignore its last run, he didn't go on the good ground. His wins previous to that on heavy ground are decent.
Race 2: RSA Novice Chase - 2:10 PM
This race was won by Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy last year. That horse previously won the Pertemps hurdle at the festival and it is a great trial for the race along with the Albert Bartlett. This race usually takes an awful lot of getting and given the ground you will want a horse with proven stamina. This race may be an eventful one, there may not be many finishers. Delta Work has the same profile as last years winner. He won the Pertemps at the festival last year over just short of this trip on soft ground. He won gamely in the finish that day and then followed that run up with a close 2nd in a Grade 1 at Punchestown. This horse though was always going to be a better chaser given the connections and its breeding. It's 3 from 3 over fences including 2 Grade 1 wins. All of those wins coming on good ground. He's been very impressive so far over fences and I think that the ground would not have been to his liking. The fact that he won all those races on ground he didn't particularly like suggest this is a top horse. The return to this track and the softer ground will see this horse perform at his best.
He does have some decent competition in this field though including Santini who was 3rd in the Albert Bartlett at the festival last year. This horse is a decent stayer and doesn't have any ground worries. He's only had two runs over fences though which is a slight worry. He beat Le Breuil on chase debut, that horse won here yesterday. This horse then finished 3rd in a Grade 1 at Sandown. He had todays rival Topofthegame just in front of him then. There isn't much between the two on that form. Santini hasn't had the best preparation for this race though. He was sore after tearing a shoe off 2 weeks back. His trainer said it will be a race against time to get him back to full fitness. If fully fit he'll give Delta Work a good run for it's money but it's a big if. Topofthegame is a huge horse, he was never going to be a great hurdler but he was 2nd in the Coral Cup on this day last year. He bunny hopped the last and it cost him the race. He's got no ground worries but he's only had 2 chase runs and not won either start. He might lack the class of Delta Work. His trainer Paul Nicholls record over fences at this festival in recent years has been very poor also. On the Blind Side, Santin's stablemate is a decent sort but his form is lacking compared to the others and he would prefer better ground. The rest of them have a lot to find at the ratings and will not like the ground. The fancied ones usually win this race but if I had to pick one outsider that could out run it's odds I would pick Mortal. He has a lot to find with Delta Work on their recent run though. For me this race is a 3 horse race with Delta Work, Santini and Topofthegame better than the rest. There are questions over Santini's fitness, I think this trip and ground will be sure to test him. Topofthegame is a big horse and should put it up to Delta Work but I think he's the class horse in the field and should take all the beating.
Selection: Delta Work 4/1 ???? ( Win - Matchbook )
Race 1: Coral Cup - 2:50 PM
This is a wide open race and usually its won by an outsider. The average price of the last 10 winners is 17/1 with prices ranging from 9/1 to 33/1. The trends can be key when finding the winner of this race. Given that this race is run at a furious pace, front runners don't have a good record in the race. You want to look at hold up horses who stay further than this trip. Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson and Alan King have a great record in the race. 5 of the last 10 winners were Irish trained including the last three. 96 horses who who wore blinkers, cheekpieces or a hood in this race did not win. That suggests horses with any sort of quirk will be found out. Given the conditions this streak should continue. Unexposed 2nd season hurdlers have a tremendous record in this race.
Wicklow Brave won the County Hurdle off a big weight in 2015 here and won the Group 1 St Leger on the flat in 2016. He was mainly kept to the flat ever since. Didn't show much form in two Grade 1's this season but returned to form last time out when 2nd to subsequent Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D'allen. This horse is now 10 years old but still has a big race over hurdles in him. He has to give an awful lot of weight away in this race but I think he could outrun his odds at 20/1. There's been a few horses higher up the weights place in this in recent years. Most of this horses best hurdle form is over shorter but given this horse stays well on the flat he should get the trip. He likes the course and ground and has a chance to place.
Gordon Elliott has 3 runners in this race and you could give a chance to all 3. Diamond Cauchois has not run for nearly a year so I couldn't have that one. Farclas won the Triumph hurdle over 2 mile at this festival last year. He hasn't shown much this season but he was tried at the highest level. The step up in trip could suit but he's not proven on it. No problems with the ground and his jockey has won this race 3 times. I think his best chance is 2nd season hurdler Cracking Smart. This horse showed a very good level of form in novice hurdles in 2017. He missed the best part of a year but had 2 nice runs recently to get him fit for this race. His 3rd to Tiger Roll last time out over this trip in a Grade 2 was eye catching. This horse looks unexposed and should have not problems with the conditions.
Brio Conti has a similar profile to Cracking Smart and he won nicely last time out in a handicap at Ascot. He's up 5lb for that win and has to improve again but I can see this one making the frame. Uradel is the race favourite for Willie Mullins who has a strong hand in this race. This horse is a decent stayer on the flat and was 2nd in the Cesareswitch at Newmarket last season. It's hurdle form isn't as good though. He ran an eye catching race last time out over 2 miles at Leopardstown. He was doing his best work late on and I can see why this horse has been made favourite for this race. He's unproven over this trip but his flat form suggests he'll be an improver over this distance. Ruby Walsh rides and is sure to have his followers in this race but I think 5/1 is terrible value in a 26 runner race. Favourites also have a poor record in this. His stablemate Bleu Berry won this race last year and we were on it odds of 25/1. He's not showing the same level of form this season and has to carry more weight. I think its a better race this season too.
Oscar Knight down the bottom of the handicap is not without a chance at massive odds of 66/1. This horse is better known as a chaser but if he showed any thing like the form he showed in hurdle handicaps 2 seasons back he would go close in this. This horse probably stays better than any horse in the field and will relish the conditions. He might get outpaced at a key point of the race as he's a 10 year old now and usually runs over further but betting with 7 places each way he could stay on late and nick a place.
The real dark horse in this race is Dancing On My Own. This horse has had only 4 runs which is a negative for this race but the form of its races makes you stand up and take notice. His last two runs came in 2 mile novice hurdles. Both of those races were won by yesterdays Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Klassical Dream. This horse was beaten only 4L by that horse two runs back and last time out he was 7L 4th in a Grade 1 behind Klassical Dream and Aramon. Clearly Klassical Dream improved and the distance was wider between the two but it was still a very good run by this horse. All of this horses runs have been over 2 miles, being by Milan this horse is going to surely improve for the step up in trip today on handicap debut. This horse is the least exposed horse in the race and will be ridden by Rachael Blackmore who had a winner here yesterday. This is a wide open race and with some firms paying 7 places we're going to have 3 cracks at finding the winner of this race yet again!
Cracking Smart 11/1 ?/? (7 Places Each Way - Betvictor )
Dancing On My Own 14/1 ?/? (7 Places Each Way - Betvictor )
Oscar Knight 50/1 ? (0.5 Each Way 7 Places - Coral )
Race 1: Champion Chase - 3:30 PM
We're not going to say much about this race mainly because Altior is an absolute beast. This horse was beaten twice in bumpers but the horse has not lost a race since. This horse comes here today in search of 18 wins in a row. This is the best horse in training right now. This horse won the Supreme Novices Hurdle 2016 , Arkle Chase 2017 and this race the Champion Chase last year. Barring a fall or an injury this horse will make it 4 years in a row winning at this festival. Min pushed him close last year and is back for another go. Nicky Henderson said the horse is in great condition and he's had a great preparation. We won't be tipping him in this race at odds of 2/5. Their really isn't any point, its no value. The ground was awful when it won this race last year so I don't see why he can't win it again. Min looks like his only danger has improved this season, he may get closer than 7L this year but it will take a fall from Altior or injury to win. Min isn't much value at 8/11 in the betting without either.
Race 1: Cross Country Race - 4:10 PM
This race is run over a cross country course which includes fences from the Grand National course and other obstacles. The trends show you really want to side with a horse who has proven form over these fences. Trainer Enda Bolger is known as the king of the banks courses and he has a great record in this race. He won this race for consecutive years when it first start but in recent years his record has not been as good. He runs the 2nd and 3rd favourite in this in Josies Orders who won this race before and Auvergnat who comes into this race on the back of a big handicap win in the Paddy Power chase at Leopardstown. Josies Orders has won over this course 4 times and has been in decent enough form this season. This horse is now 11 years old though and was well beaten into 6th place in this race last year. Auvergnat is clearly the stables number one hope in this race. This horse won a big handicap last time out and has been put away with this race in mind. This horse has been 4th in this race the last two years. I just get the feeling the horse doesn't see out this marathon trip so well. Good ground would also be preferable but the horse may still be improving.
Tiger Roll won the race last year and is going for his 4th win at this festival. This horse won this race from French Raider Urgent De Gregaine last year and went on to win the Grand National at Aintree. He had a recent prep run for this race in a Grade 2 Hurdle at at Navan over 2 mile and 5f. The horse went off a big price and was unfancied by most but he won the race in great fashion beating Cracking Smart who runs in the Coral Cup earlier on the card. If this race were a handicap the horse would have to give away lumps of weight to his rivals but it is not. They changes the conditions of this race in recent years and every horse runs off of level weights. Tiger Roll is the highest rated horse in the field with a mark of 159, Auvergnat is rated 158 and the next best rated 149. Tiger Roll though is a much better stayer of the two and has ground conditions in his favour.
Ultragold is an interesting runner and runs over this cross country course for the first time. This horse's record over the Aintree Grand National fences is very good. He's won the Topham over 2 mile 5f their the last two years and placed in the last two runnings of the Becher Chase over 3 Mile 2f. There are a few National fences at this course which suggests the horse could well take to these. We heard that the horse recently had a school over some of the fences at this track and he jumped pretty well. The pace of this race will be strong though and he's want to be on his A game jumping to complete it. There's also some doubts over his stamina. He's yet to run over this trip. He could be one to follow for the National next month but today not so much. Tiger Roll's main danger may yet again come from last years 2nd and French Raider Urgent De Gregaine. The horse has just had the 1 run since last years race. There's no change around in the weights this year and the conditions are the same. Tiger Roll returned in top form, there's no reason that he can't confirm placings with the runner up again. The other French raider Amazing Comedy who is a cross country specialist in France looks value at 33/1. The horse was 5th in this race two years back, just behind Auvergnat on good ground. It ran in one of the trials here in Decemeber and was 4th finishing just behind Josies Orders again on good ground. This horse loves heavy ground and I think he could out run his odds today.11/8 is short enough but if Tiger Roll put's in a clear round he'll win this race yet again.
Selection: Tiger Roll 11/8 ???? ( WIN - MoPlay)
Race 1: Fred Winter Hurdle - 4:50 PM
This race is the toughest race of the day to solve. It's a handicap for novice hurdlers. Usually the horses not good enough to run in the Triumph Hurdle run here. This races can throw up a shock result as was seen last year when Gordon Elliott won it with Veneer of Charm at 33/1. In fact the previous years winner was also 33/1. If you fancy an outsider in this don't let us put you off it. This race really is a lottery and most of these are ex French. It's hard to get a grip on that form. This race has one major trend, horses who finished 2nd or 3rd in their most previous run have a record of 0 from 121. It's also good to note that a lot of these horses are flat bred and most of those will need good ground. Soft ground form is a must in this race. Gordon Elliott and Paul Nicholls have a decent record in this race.
Band of Outlaws was a fair handicapper on the flat but has turned into a much better hurdler for his trainer Joseph O'Brien. Band Of Outlaws was placed on hurdles debut and then won two juvenile hurdles on the trot. This horse won on heavy ground on the flat and also over hurdles. He'll have no problems whatsoever with the ground. 14 of the last 15 winners of this race carried less that 11 stone 5lb. This horse carries 11-8. He looks to be the best horse in the race but the weight can be telling for these novices in this race. Lethal Steps who is rated 102 on the flat would be my main selection for the race if the ground was anyway good. This horse has just had the 3 runs over hurdles to get a mark to qualify for this race. He gets in near the bottom of the weights for trainer Gordon Elliott who has a great record in this race. The ground is a big negative for this horse but should be bang their at the finish.
Paul Nicholls has also done when with his horses in this race and won it 3 times in the past. He runs Dogon. This horse is somewhat exposed coming from France unlike some of the rest of these. This horse has won a chase in France so there should be no problem with jumping. He should also like the ground but I just feel that there are better handicapped horses than this one. Star Max showed some decent form in Germany on the flat and won nicely last time out. 16/1 is a decent price on this one but again I just feel that he'd be better suited on better ground. Willie Mullins does not have a great record in this race but that's because most he sends his best juveniles to other races at this festival. He runs Ciel De Neige and La Sorelita. Ruby Walsh rides Ciel De Neige. This horse hasn't shown much form at all in France in 3 runs and to me he looks too short in the market at 8/1. La Sorelita on the other hand looks to be a very nice price. This filly was formerly trainer by top trainer Guillaume Macaire in France. She won on debut for him and then a nice race to be 3rd. She's had 3 runs for Willie Mullins to obtain a handicap mark for this race. She was highly thought of but hasn't shown much of that sparkle this season. Whether that was on purpose or not but given the nature of this race I would not rule it out. It's also one of the few races Willie Mullins has not won at the festival. I'm sure he'd like to cross it off his list. La Sorelita has been running against some decent opposition on good ground. She won on soft ground in France so the return to this ground will help her. She's been favourite every time shes ran but that because of the connections and how much they held her in high regard. Her form is solid and shes gone under the radar now for this race. 22/1 is a nice price!. Paul Townend rides and I wouldn't be surprised if this one is the best of the stables runners. Fillies also have a very good record in this race from a select number of runners.
Another horse who I think is overpriced in this race is the Nick Williams trained. Fox Pro who is a 40/1 chance. Nick Williams won this race 2 years a go with a very similar horse at odds of 33/1 and he's also had 2 big priced horses place in this in the past. This horse been trained by Nick Williams for all of its runs but they all came in France which is very interesting. This horses form is on a decent level with some of the shorter priced horses in here. Fox Pro was 3rd on debut in a race in which the form has worked out very well. It finished 15 lengths in front of the now Willie Mullins trained Ciel De Neige. There's no way that horse should be 8/1 in this race and Fox Pro 40/1. It should be reversed. Fox Pro then won on its next start on heavy ground. It had the now Paul Nicholls trained Dogon 5 lengths behind it. It ran no sort of race last time out but with this race in mind they may have wanted to protect its handicap mark. Outsiders usually win this race so we're going to go with two big priced ones with low stakes.
Abacadabras was running a good race last time out in the race won by Envoi Allen but he ducked out through the railings a furlong out. It's hard to say if he would have won but he would have been placed for sure. The horse ran green and he will come on for that run. It's interesting that this horse runs in this race as its connections had stopped running their horses in this race previously. Has form on soft ground and could well place. Rates as a decent stayer for the future. Sempo and Master Debonair look like decent types but both would prefer softer ground. Jelksi who is 40/1 in this race is a half brother to Uradel who runs earlier on the card is an outsider not without a chance. His trainer has won the race before. This one will be running on through beaten horses late on. The one I like the most in this though is the Paul Nicholls trained Ask for Glory. Nicholls has been doing very well with his bumper horses this season. This horse is unbeaten in two starts. The first of them was in a 3 mile point to point on soft ground. He then had his rules debut for Nicholls in a bumper at Chepstow on soft ground. The horse made all and effortlessly drew clear 2f out to win by 13L without being asked. While like Blue Sari he didn't beat much but it was the way that he won that was eye catching. Unlike Blue Sari this horse has had 2 runs and has run on a left handed track.This horse will relish the conditions and given that this horse has won a point to point over 3 mile he is sure to stay better than most. Blue Sari and Envoi Allen look to be the main dangers. Blue Sari is inexperienced and Envoi Allen would prefer better ground to be seen at it's best. Ask For Glory looks like great value.