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Month: April 2015

Aintree National day selections

Well I can’t dress up the fact that Champagne Fever was anything other than disappointing notwithstanding that he had every chance. Thankfully Rajdhani Express delivered at 10/1 and a last minute bet on Thistlecrack at 25/1 (e/w) did very nicely thank you so a much more profitable day two.

Now on to the big day. The supporting races are a mixed bag but the National is a really good dilemma and there’s no doubt that the race has become much more interesting from a betting perspective since the changes made two years ago. By the way, for those doubters, the Foxhunters’ and Topham were full of thrills and all horses returned uninjured. So much for those who continue to berate this celebration of Liverpool and all that’s good about horse racing and what brings so many people so much enjoyment. Thankfully the naysayers are quite properly marginalised.

So, on to the selections!

1.30 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle 2m 4f

Parlour Games has obvious claims but I’m with the highly progressive As De Mee (10/1). The course should suit. The ground is a question mark – not won on better than good to soft. There is a little rain forecast overnight and the day will be sunny but a lot cooler. I have a feeling that this one will not be inconvenienced at all by better ground and I expected the price to be much shorter.

2.05 Maghull Novices’ Chase 2m

I wonder whether the commentators will continue to call this the Mag-hull Novices’ Chase as usual! My selection is Sizing Granite (5/1) even though God’s Own is 15lb ahead on official ratings. The selection is after a three-timer. He’s a fighter and won easily last time. There’s no doubt that God’s Own’s second to Un De Sceaux’s imperious Arkle win (what a shame he’s not here) was a fine performance but his third to Vibrato Valtat in his previous race was not so impressive.

2.50 Stayers’ Hurdle 3m 110yds

There is no doubt that Cole Harden’s win in the World Hurdle was a fine performance but I was on Zarkandar (5/2) (nap) on that day and I know that I’m not alone in thinking that he would have won had it not been for an uncharacteristic blunder at the second last. I’ve been on this one many times and his three previous wins at Aintree put the cap on it. Bet of the day.

3.25 Betfred Handicap Chase 3m 1f

On any reading this is a poor race and it’s a mystery to me why it’s on this card. Having said that £60,000 prize money should have attracted a better field. It takes a lot for me to be tempted by an each way bet but I was buoyed by Thistlecrack today and I’ve therefore decided to side with Edgardo Sol (17/2 e/w). I remember seeing him win at Aintree in 2011 on his second race after moving from France (and then with Paul Nicholls) and thinking that this striking chestnut was going right to the top. He followed that up with a win in the Red Rum Chase in 2012. Admittedly his form has been in and out since then but I can’t find a better one in this race.

4.15 Crabbies Grand National 4m 3f 110 yds

So, on to the big one! I posted an “Aintree Taster” on Tuesday when I provided a horse by horse guide to the top 20 in the handicap. Carlito Brigante is the only defector from that list (lame) and the other 39 have stood their ground. It was too late for a reserve at 11.00 a.m. this morning (not sure why) and I’ve gone through all the runners. The result of my analysis is that the selection is unchanged but my second and third come from the bottom 20 in the handicap. I’ve also decided to hazard a trifecta – why not?!

So the selection is Cause Of Causes (20/1) (next best). Why shouldn’t he win? He’s a 7-y-o and history therefore suggests that he shouldn’t win. However, history takes into account the National as it used to be and is therefore an unreliable guide. He ran a poor race in the Galmoy Hurdle (Grade 2) but the four ahead of him (in a five runner race) are top graded hurdlers and, as is now apparent, that was not his game.

Why should he win? He stays in the highest company as perfectly demonstrated by his win in the National Hunt Chase over 4 miles at Cheltenham on his last outing. Staying is the name of the game in the new conditions of the National. If that were not enough, look at his winning style in that race (as I said the other day) – “held up in rear, headway 3 out, stayed on, driven out”. Does that sound like the profile of a National winner to you? Does it sound like the winners of this week’s Foxhunters’ and Topham? It does to me.

So, which ones make up the frame? I’m with Saint Are (40/1) and Soll (20/1) in that order. Saint Are can put in quality performances on his day and has a similar prep profile to last year’s winner (and my selection) Pineau De Re. Soll is on joint bottom weight, has been revitalised since moving to David Pipe (wins on last two outings since transferring) and was seventh in the race two years ago. The trifecta potentially delivers 18,000/1. Worth £1! Realistically I suggest a win on Cause of Causes and each ways on Soll and Saint Are.

5.15 Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals and Amateurs) 2m 110 yds

Let’s face it, we’re not really interested by now! If you need placepot selections I recommend Dormello Mo (12/1) and Astre De La Cour (9/1).

5.40 Bumper 2m 1f

Well, I think that Nina is going to round off a superb week with a win on Whistle Dixie (4/1). Evidently the market agrees because she opened at 7/1. This could be one of the steamers of the day.

As always, good luck!!




Aintree day two selections

Champagne-FeverWell yesterday was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I ended up just ahead. Delighted with Silviniaco showing at his gritty best and On The Fringe was mightily impressive under Nina Carberry. An exuberant plunge on Call The Cops looked like delivering an ideal conclusion, but not quite.

To be frank Ladies’ Day is not of the same standard so I’m going to be more selective. There’s one outstanding race and maybe just one bet for me.

1.40 Handicap Hurdle

No strong views about this one. I’ll pick Snake Eyes (12/1) and Dell’ Arca (14/1), both for places.

2.15 Top Novices’ Hurdle

This is a much better race and Glingerburn (2/1) is a deserving favourite, looking for a five-timer. Everything is in his favour and he should win.

2.50 Mildmay Novices’ Chase

This is the first proper race of the day and the question is whether Saphir Du Rheu can jump. He went down the Big Buck’s route but that didn’t pay off and this must therefore appear to be an afterthought. Apparently benefiting from extensive schooling but I’ll go with the tried and tested Irish Saint from the same yard at a much more appealing 6/1.

3.25 Melling Chase

I favour Champagne Fever (7/2) (nap) to beat Don Cossack. As far as this race is concerned being bitten by another horse en route to Cheltenham has done him a favour and I believe that conditions are ideal for him.

Time is tight so just selections for the rest of the day

4.05 2 Rajdhani Express (10/1)

4.40 7 Minella Rocco (4/1)

5.15 18 Buveur D’Air (7/1)

Good luck on this wonderful sunny day!



Aintree Day One Selections

Silviniaco_ContiI have been one of Silviniaco Conti’s biggest fans but even I now have to admit and he and Cheltenham just don’t get on. However it’s worth bearing in mind that, prior to the Gold Cup, he was widely regarded as the best staying chaser in training. He wasn’t over-exerted when his winning chance was gone and the general consensus is that he needs a flat galloping track which provides a decent test – Aintree!

In contrast I have never been a fan of Holywell. He’s another who failed to deliver at Cheltenham, but on the back of a much poorer season overall. He has Aintree form but I’m not convinced that he’s the same horse this season. Ma Filleule is another Aintree winner (over the National fences) but for me is has to be Silviniaco Conti (11/4) in the big one on day one, the Betfred Bowl at 2.50 p.m.

So, on to the rest of the card.

1.40 Manifesto Novices’ Chase

I don’t like any of these but, most of all, I don’t like Josses Hill, a definitive dodgy jumper. I’ll go for Vibrato Valtat (2/1) (and Newsboy – Daily Mirror’s – selection) more or less by default on the basis that the others don’t amount to much.

2.15 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle

I pointed out earlier in the season that Hargam (4/6 – evens earlier today) needs decent ground. I think that he will also benefit from an open flat track and a smallish field which he’s got here. A confident selection, albeit at a short price.

2.50 Betfred Bowl

See above.

3.25 Aintree Hurdle

It’s a real shame that the field is not what it might have been with some big names not making the final decs, above all Hurricane Fly. However, what we are left with is a race which is ideally suited for Rock On Ruby (3/1), an all-out fighter over his ideal distance. A perfect opportunity for this former Champion Hurdle winner to break his Aintree duck (albeit that he’s run creditably in all previous attempts including this race in 2012).

4.05 Foxhunters’ Chase (National fences)

On the face of it selecting from 30 runners ridden over the National fences by amateurs is a daunting prospect. However, there have been short priced winners in recent years (five of the last seven) and this year I think that it’s between the four market leaders, Pacha du Polder (Pricewise selection), Big Fella Thanks, Warne (winner of this last year) and the favourite On The Fringe (a stable 4/1). It may seem a short price in such a race but with Nina Carberry on board and a commanding win in the equivalent race at Cheltenham, plus enough time to recover from that, this is one of the easier selections of the week.

4.40 Red Rum Chase

To be honest none of these appeal and this is one to sit out in my view. If you need one or two for the placepot I suggest Karinga Dancer (12/1 from 16/1) and Royal Regatta (8/1).

5.15 IJF Hurdle

Thursday’s finale provides my bet of the day in the form of deserved favourite Call The Cops (7/1 and already shortening). I backed this comfortable winner of the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival (where he was 10/1) and 7/1 on the back of that win and against a much easier field must present excellent value. Expect this one’s price to shorten considerably as the race approaches. If you want another to back up the placepot then I recommend Katgary at 10/1.

I realise that we’re looking at pretty short odds throughout the card and there will no doubt be at least a couple of longer priced winners. However, we can improve return prospects without breaking the bank by considering a few combinations.


Hargam (4/6) and Silviniaco Conti (11/4)


The above plus Rock On Ruby (3/1)

Lucky 15

Hargam, Silviniaco Conti, Rock On Ruby and On The Fringe (4/1)


Leg 1.   6 Vibrato Valtat (2/1) and 2 Clarcam (6/1)

Leg 2.   5 Hargam (4/6)

Leg 3.   4 Silviniaco Conti (11/4)

Leg 4.   5 Rock On Ruby (3/1)

Leg 5.   17 On The Fringe (4/1), 29 Warne (6/1), 19 Pacha du Polder (7/1)

Leg 6.   6 Karinga Dancer (12/1), 4 Royal Regatta (8/1)

Nap: Rock On Ruby (3/1)

Next best: Hargam (4/6)

IMG_0095As tomorrow’s Racing post front page says, “Let’s Rock And Roll” (with Rock On Ruby)

Good luck!!

Aintree taster

I hope that you were with me (in betting terms at least) last Thursday for a very profitable day at Ludlow. We very nearly had the Lucky 15 but Jimmy The Jetplane just found it a bit much for wins on consecutive days after looking all over the winner on the turn into the home straight. Still, can’t complain about numerous doubles and a treble!

As usual I intend to provide night before previews and selections for each of the three days at Aintree and, also as usual, they may degrade day by day!

For now I’ll share with you my shortlist for the National. The first thing is that Shutthefrontdoor won’t win. If you are into these things lay the horse with Betfair for as much as you like. AP’s record in the National is not great, yet the AP factor suggests that this one might be as short as 4/1 at the off. Nonsense! AP will not be retiring on Saturday so those who have tickets for Sandown on 25 April needn’t worry.

So, what of the others? Here’s my take on the current top 20.

1 Lord Windermere

Top weights don’t win and this one has had a shocking season. Very unimpressed by Cullloty’s sacking of Davy Russell after the Gold Cup.

2 Many Clouds

Doubtful runner.

3 Unioniste

A live contender and on the shortlist.

4 Rocky Creek

I understand why this one is supported but not for me.

5 First Lieutenant

A fine horse but an in and out season and dismissed.

6 Balthazar King

Should be considered seriously but this is not a cross country race and it’s run much faster. A place possibility.

7 Shutthefrontdoor

A win at Carlisle in November and no other runs since last April is not the best prep. Unconvinced.

8 Pineau De Re

Even Dr Newland seems doubtful, having identified his other no hoper as having a similar chance (obviously my twist on his words but nonetheless relevant).

9 Ballycasey

A very disappointing season and not even Ruby’s skill will get this one home.

10 Spring Heeled

Another Culloty horse and, let’s face it, the trainer’s form this season has been atrocious. Just not good enough in my view.

11 Rebel Rebellion

A sterling campaigner who could well run into a place.

12 Dolatulo

Has a higher rating than I would have expected. No obvious claims.

13 Mon Parrain

A moody horse who sometimes runs out of his skin. 17-y-o Sean Bowen on board (just – having got the required number of chase winners last weekend). Not one to be placing too much trust in.

14 Carlito Brigante

One of my favourite horses, many years ago. Changed trainer a while ago and too in and out for me. Probably past his best (which was as a young horse over hurdles).

15 Night In Milan

There are many astute people who rate this one. However the lack of winning form and speed are negatives for me.

16 Rubi Light

A star in France and much expected when he moved to Ireland but, bluntly, the plan hasn’t worked.

17 The Druids Nephew

Another that has attracted many tips. Could relish this and another for the shortlist.

18 Cause of Causes*

A super horse and bang in form. I think that AP has chosen the wrong one and Paul Carberry is lined up to benefit. Winner of the 4m chase at Cheltenham so bang in form. Held up in that race and stayed on to win – perfect for the National. My current idea of the the winner at a current 18/1 – will be shorter on the day.

19 Godsmejudge

I’m sorry but this is a seriously overrated horse. If I was Phil Smith (the National handicapper) I’d have him at least 10 lbs lower. The form this season is nothing to get excited about and he has too many PU’s on his record.

20 Al Co

A pleasing horse but not in my view a winner of this. It’s logical to give him an entry but I don’t see him featuring.

So, there’s my view of the current top 20. The winner will more than likely come from them. My shortlist for winner and places is therefore:


Balthazar King

Rebel Rebellion

The Druids Nephew

and my current selection:

Cause of Causes

All may change between now and Saturday but this is a start!

I’ll update the selections once we know the confirmed runners.



Ludlow 2 April

ludlow grandstandI’m absolutely delighted to be going to Ludlow tomorrow. It’s the perfect counterpoint to Thursday next week when I’ll be at Aintree. Two Thursdays in a row – I’m very lucky! Aintree habitués know that those of us who have attended the National meeting in recent years regard Thursday as the best racing day so I’m very much looking forward to that as well. But for now, it’s the calm of Ludlow with excellent facilities and good company. Perfect!

However!! What are the selections? My experience of Ludlow is that there are normally a couple of 14/1 to 33/1 winners so it pays to be bold. Having said that the card is full of obvious winners.

The going is good to soft but there is a risk of significant rain during the afternoon – beware!

2.30 Novices’ Hurdle 2m

The odds on favourite is Slowfoot (5/6 against 5/2 next best) and out again after a winning debut at Plumpton. Trained by astute Jim Best, ridden by AP and 143p with Timeform this is the bet of the day. Lump in!

3.00 Handicap Chase 3m

Avoid Drumshambo unless the heavens open! A Good Skin is in some ways an obvious choice, particularly with point winning form and decent place form at Worcester. However, putting it bluntly and having been a former Worcester resident, I don’t respect that form. If the ground stays manageable I’ll go with Timeform’s selection, Lord Grantham (currently 5/1) and if it pours I’ll be with A Good Skin.

3.30 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Class 4 2m 5f

A good friend of mine (DT) has a simple rule – don’t bet on these races – I agree! However, if you need a placepot Broxbourne (a properly named horse!) is currently the 8/11 favourite and stands out against these. 8/11 seems long and, in my view, the only other threat is Double Silver, a Ludlow winner but also another Worcester winner…

4.00 Handicap Chase Class 3 2m 4f

This is the feature race (£18,000) and has attracted, frankly, a poor field. Timeform  has It’s A Steal beating Wilton Milan (11/4) but the current market has it the other way around and I agree. I don’t think that there is a great deal in it but I’m with Nicholl’s decision to place him here. He’s been there or thereabouts as a six and seven year old and is nailed on for the placepot. Having said that I’ll be at the parade ring to weigh them up – the joy of being at the races and it will be the same next Thursday.

4.30 Handicap Hurdle Class 3 (0-130) 2m

This is not a good race and I’ve already taken the 6/4 about Bombardero which is the outstanding candidate for this one. If he’s longer on the day I’ll eat my hat because this one seems to be seriously over priced. I’ve got a double on him and Slowfoot and I’m feeling good about that.

5.00 Hunters’ Chase Class 5 (normally Class 6) 3m

For years I avoided Hunter Chases but they’ve become much more interesting in recent years, particularly with the participation of former decent horses. I know that there’s an issue about whether the horses qualify but I’m looking at it from a betting perspective! So, having said that, Pentiffic and Domtaline are here because they’ve fallen out of love with racing. I’m interested in Foundry Square and Rockiteer (both proper hunter chasers) and, on balance, I’m with Rockiteer (15/8) and I genuinely made the selection before checking the odds.

5.30 Handicap Hurdle Class 4 2m 5f

Thankfully there is an easy finish because Jimmy The Jetplane (11/4) is the outstanding candidate for this one. Famous last words but I can’t see this one being beaten. I won’t be betting on him unless some of the others have gone well (as is may way). Having said that you can see my Lucky 15 below!

Lucky 15 Ludlow

Jimmy The Jetplane 11/.4

Bombadero 6/4

Broxbourne 4/6

Slowfoot 5/6

Stake: £15.00

Potential return: £124.61

Good luck!   


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