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Tag: Racing 2014

Ayr selections

Well, Grand National day at Aintree went well and I hope that you were with me on Pineau De Re (in the middle), my early selection. He was my first winning selection of the National since Comply Or Die (10/1) but last Saturday’s 30/1 on Betfair was very welcome.

I’m very much more circumspect about tomorrow’s card at Ayr. I haven’t seen today’s racing but I know that there is a tendency for the ground at Ayr to be much faster than is found over most of the season even if, as today, it’s officially good to soft. Anyway, on to the selections.

1.30 Class 3 Hands and Heels Hurdle 2m 4f
The conditions say it all. I don’t know the horses and I’ll go with Silsol just on the basis of the yard.
Silsol 4/1 *

2.05 Grade 2 Class 1 Chase 2m 4f
Now this is a lot more straightforward. Valdez is miles better than the rest. The increase in distance is a positive.
Valdez 5/4 **** (bet of the day)

2.40 Grade 2 Class 1 Hurdle 2m
On the face of it My Tent Or Yours is miles ahead of the rest. However Nicky Henderson thinks that he doesn’t settle in his races so he’s wearing a hood. I’m with Montbazon even though he’s technically out of the handicap (only by 1lb).
Montbazon 6/1 *** (next best)

3.15 Listed Class 1 Chase 2m
I’m being very biased with this one. Valco de Touzaine was beaten by Balder Succes (horse of the year) at Warwick so, in this company, that’s a win really. However that was on heavy ground and that could be the decider so I’m cautious.
Valco de Touzaine 9/2 **

3.50 Scottish National Grade 3 Class 1 4m 110y
So, here’s the big one, at least from a betting perspective. Recent runnings have been bookies’ benefits so caution is required. Tidal Bay’s participation has seriously messed up (translation of what I was going to type!) the handicap so that, without him, all are running within 7lbs of each other and the vast majority are on 10st. Incidentally credit to all those jockeys making the weight (assuming that they do) including P Carberry, the Moore brothers, Scudamore, Choc (10st 1lb) and Johnson. Of those, and taking that compression of the handicap into account, the outstanding candidate is Dickie Johnson on Roalco des Farges. For the record I don’t fancy Green Flag (most people’s choice). I think that Trustan Times is nailed on for a place (look for first five). I’ve been a big fan of Sam Winner over a couple of seasons but I want to see him him stay this distance before betting on him. If he does, there are big opportunities next season.
Roalco des Farges 12/1 ***

Of the remainder watch out for Brother du Berlais (4.25), Tony Star (5.00) and watch and enjoy the bumper.

I understand that there is some serious flat racing at Newbury as well. I’ll watch but, as those who know me are well aware, that’s just a filler. I’m delighted that several UK trainers are targeting Auteuil, let alone Punchestown – NH is far from over!!

Cheltenham Tuesday selections

Is a replica of this what we are going to see tomorrow at about 2.20 p.m.? I think so. This horse, Champagne Fever, truly deserves the title “Cheltenham specialist”. His ability to power up the hill after a fast two miles is vitally important. His prep races have been just that and this is the day that matters.

What of the opposition? Trifolium is a serious contender and rightly now second favourite. His win in the Irish Arkle was hugely impressive but Felix Yonger needs a further trip (more of that later this week). Rock On Ruby is a fine horse but has not been properly tested over fences at this level and you have to think that, at his age, this is an afterthought. I have Valdez running well in third place and the others distant. So there’s a trifecta to start the week!

Now for the remainder of the card.

1.30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

This is between the top three. Several are there for a day out for the owners (nothing wrong with that!). Irving could live up to the hype and Vautour is very good but, notwithstanding Ruby’s decision to go with him, I’m sticking with my prior selection Wicklow Brave, an impressive horse and consistent. So I’m choosing to oppose Ruby but, hey, you have to do these things sometimes!

2.40 3m 1f Handicap Chase

This is much more my type of race. Alfie Sherrin is the confident choice and the selection of AP McCoy. I can’t claim this because several people have observed that he’s been lined up for this and it’s worked out for him. The prep has been perfect and the opposition is not great. I’ll definitely be on Nigel Twiston Davies’ Tour Des Champs for a place.

3.20 2m 110y Champion Hurdle

I inserted the 110y for the proper distance of the Champion Hurdle. It’s not often that it’s really made a difference but what certainly has is the ability to stay up the hill. You need a horse that stays a good deal further than two miles on a flat park course and it amazes me how often people miss that (me included!). I think that top level course form is hugely important and that is why my shortlist is narrowed down to Hurricane Fly and Our Conor. Dessie Hughes knows how to win this race (Hardy Eustace whose profile was not dissimilar to Our Conor). I will be delighted if Hurricane Fly wins but my money will be on Our Conor – obviously up to this standard, capable of staying up the hill and likely to have been fine tuned for this. Barry Connell will not be bothered about the absence of The Tullow Tank from the Festival if he captures the hurdling Blue Riband.

4.00 2m 4f Mares’ Hurdle

Ignore those trying to talk it up as a contest, this will be the easiest ever win for Quevega and she’ll absolutely dominate this lot, like she has when facing inferior Irish opposition after her previous Cheltenham wins. This is the banker of the meeting and 4/6 and 5/6 currently on offer is a gift. Get on now in all combinations because she’ll be much shorter at the off. WP says that she’s had an ideal preparation. If you’re brave then there’s a good case for putting all your week’s fund on this one. I’m not quite that brave but I can’t contemplate her losing!

As an aside, one of my biggest failings for the Festival has been betting on all or most of the races. Having followed the NH season avidly, there is no requirement to bet on every race (albeit that there is a temptation to do so!). My best returns have been based on picking four or five horses out of 27 races (I think that’s right) and believing in what you’ve seen.

4.40 4m Amateurs’ Race

So, having said that, I’m now choosing a horse for a race I should perhaps be avoiding because of its tendency to turn up a long odds winner! I’m all over ShutTheFrontDoor. This horse has a perfect profile for this race. Nina is riding, Foxrock with Katie Walsh on board is a threat, Shotgun Paddy deserves respect, but I can’t see my selection being beaten!

5.15 2m 4f Novices’ Handicap Chase

Now this is one I’d avoid. I have friends who have “got out” on the last on day one on several occasions but I never have. I think that it’s between Art of Logistics and Present View and if I’m overflowing with money by then (I very much doubt that I will be) I might have a few quid on the latter.

So, here’s the betting summary:
Trifecta: 2.05 1 Champagne Fever, 2 Trifolium, 3 Valdez
Lucky 15: Champagne Fever, Alfie Sherrin, Our Conor, Quevega
1.30 Wicklow Brave
2.05 Champagne Fever
2.40 Alfie Sherrin
3.20 Our Conor
4.00 Quevega
4.40 ShutTheFrontDoor
5.15 Present View

I thought that I’d look forward to racing but I’m wound up about Annie Power

HORSE RACING In my last post I rated Rubi Ball for the Gold Cup and, as is so often the case, that dream has been scuppered. He is one of the less high profile absentees from Cheltenham since, since then, Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card are also out (the former a lesser surprise as I pointed out at the time).

We’ve also had a number of trials since then so it’s time to take stock of those that remain (after intervening trials?) and to look at those that are not Cheltenham bound. What is striking is that a number of trainers are looking at the “Festival season” and so they should given the money on offer. As an owner, you would be forgiven for thinking that there is super money on offer at Cheltenham. Not so. Aintree and Punchestown have for some years offered better money for “equivalent” races so there should be no surprise that the owners of, say, Balder Succes, (let alone suitable courses) are keen on other options (if that is what they are).

Perhaps the best example is Annie Power. If you owned her without any others in the race, would you run her in the Champion Hurdle? Of course you would! There is a real issue, probably more than the Fenton possible drugs issue, concerning which race this horse runs in. The only conceivable reason that she doesn’t run in the race is that WP wants to clear the way for Hurricane Fly. OK. I write a little blog so I don’t need to worry about who thinks about it and this might be her chance for greatness. If she isn’t entered and declared then I’m afraid that it will reflect badly on both the owner and trainer.

If WP thinks that Hurricane Fly is genuinely the best then he will allow Annie Power to run against him. If he doesn’t then Annie Power should be allowed to emerge as the best hurdler of the year, thereby undermining Hurricane Fly’s win. No-one should be under any illusion that WP is the best trainer in Ireland. I’ve had the undoubted pleasure of being a co-owner of a Supreme Novices’ entrant and Grade One winner with him but, if I was Rich Ricci (let’s face it – he’s a “challenging man” (note the quotes)), I would insist on this very good horse running in the best option. Having heard him speak to @MCYeeehaaa in a very open and impressive interview on the admirable Sunday Forum I take him as a good chap who loves Irish racing and has invested in it. If I was him I would insist that Annie Power runs in the Champion Hurdle.

Cheltenham update

I’m finally beginning to form initial views about Cheltenham after a quiet period (here) of watching more prep races than ever. There are many potentially informative races still to come but here’s my opener with a few random notes. There’s a strong Irish bias already!

Gold Cup

I’m really interested in Rubi Ball, a top notch French campaigner that has moved to Willie Mullins this season. His run in the Lexus was a revelation.


Here’s Willie talking about him

Currently 7/2 for the Irish Hennessy, 25/1 for the World Hurdle and only 16/1 for the Gold Cup. An each way option for the latter.

Supreme Novices’

I like Wicklow Brave for the Supreme Novices’ against all those currently ahead of him.


If Champagne Fever wins properly at the weekend then he’s the selection. If not, it’s Trifolium.


Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle could be one of the best races I’ve ever seen if all make it. My current choice is Hurricane Fly (I’ll elaborate on that versus Our Conor, The New One and My Tent Or Yours nearer the time) but, as everyone knows, the big question is whether Annie Power and who rides her. It’s hard to imagine that Ruby won’t ride Hurricane Fly but I’m not entirely ruling it out. If he does then my bet will go with him.

My picture selection provides a clue:



The RSA is far too early to call but Sam Winner is a horse that I’ve regained faith in.


Champion Chase

For the Champion Chase it’s very interesting that hardly any bookies are offering Sprinter Sacre with a run. Bookies tend to be well ahead of the press so he can’t be considered for this outing. Without him there is no reason to oppose Sire de Grugy whose 2013-2014 campaign has been impeccable.

Cross Country

Love Rory did really well at the weekend and the connections know how to win this race. Many have taken the view that this is not a betting race but the last few years have shown that this is possibly one of the easier races! There is no obvious reason to oppose the favourite, Balthazar King who has excelled in this discipline. The owners have not balked at embracing some of the most challenging courses in Europe including the mad challenge at Craon where he won easily. Cheltenham is a doddle in comparison. Current 5/1 is reasonable value (will be much shorter).

Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair is far too early to call and will remain so until the five day stage. I will merely observe that this is where Cue Card should be.


World Hurdle

The World Hurdle is another that must wait. If Annie Power runs she wins (but I hope that she will have won the Champion Hurdle earlier in the week).

Triumph Hurdle

The (Daily Express) Triumph Hurdle is, bizarrely, the first race that brought my attention to Cheltenham and the first winner I can remember is Peter O’Sullevan’s Attivo who he called: “And it’s first Attivo, owned by, uh, Peter O’Sullevan… trained by Cyril Mitchell and ridden by Robert Hughes”! Incidentally I found when preparing this post that Sir Peter is of Irish descent, born in 1918, and his father, Colonel John O’Sullevan, was resident magistrate at Killarney. Obviously much depends on this weekend’s performance of Ivan Grozny but I’m very interested in Simon Munir’s Gitane du Berlais who, I think, has loads of improvement waiting to happen.

Potato Race

Everyone seems to want Kings Palace in the Albert Bartlett but not me. This is another race that has yet to develop.

Gold Cup (again!)

So, time for the Gold Cup and it’s time to pin my colours to the mast! I’ve opposed Bobs Worth time and again and I’m going to do so again. I think that Silviniaco Conti will win!


I loved this horse from the outset and I take a lot from last year’s race. He was ready to take on the leaders and I firmly believe that he will in 2014. He’s as short as 3/1 with Bet Victor so it’s one to wait for but bear in mind Rubi Ball each way!

Boxing Day selections

Horse Racing - King George VI Chase - Kempton Park So Christmas Day is nearly done and I’m ready for a joyful day’s racing after an unusually long break since the weekend. 10 points for identifying this superb King George winner in 1965

I’ll just pick out a few for tomorrow and I’m conscious that the weather is likely to play a part so betting will be sparse. Remarkably, Kempton is good to soft, soft in places but I’d like to see for myself what the going is really like.

  • 12.50 2m Hurdle (Class 2)Sgt Reckless could well dent the reputations of the two leading him in the betting.
  • 1.25 2m 4f Novices’ Chase (Class 3) I fancy Urbain de Sivola to turn over the favourite.
  • 2.00 3m Novices’ Chase (Feltham) (Class 1) One of my favourite races of the year but not the best field this time. It’s a re-run of Newbury and I can’t see Third Intention getting the better of Just A Par.
  • 2.35 2m Hurdle (Christmas Hurdle) (Class 1) It’s a match and I’m with My Tent Or Yours to get the better of The New One to install himself as favourite for (but not winner of) the Champion Hurdle.
  • 3.10 3m Chase (King George) (Class 1) Nine runners but what a race!! I’m opposing Cue Card and Dynaste so that leaves it to the Nicholls’ runners and on this occasion (but not for Cheltenham) I’m with Al Ferof because I think conditions will suit him better at Kempton.


  • 12.20 2m 2f Maiden Hurdle I’m looking forward to watching Clondaw Court become a serious player for the rest of the season but without a penny bet.
  • 1.20 2m Hurdle (Grade 2) The same applies for Anafilet – a penalty kick and before this race half the price of the next favourite for the Triumph Hurdle.
  • 2.55 2m 1f Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) Another showcase for WP with the unopposable Champagne Fever (currently 3/1 with the next 10/1 for the Arkle) presumably putting in a show, as on his last outing.

Wetherby (Good to Soft)

  • 1.45 3m 1f Chase (Class 1) (Rowland Meyrick) This is a way below average renewal and an easy Grade 3 chance for the deserving Tullamore Dew with Sydney Paget the threat.

What a day’s racing. Can’t wait!!

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