Tag Archives: Celestial Halo

Big Race Tips

Thank Nick it's Friday 🙂

Nick Hardman (http://bettinginsiders.com) is back with tips for today's racing at Exeter and tomorrow at Sandown and Aintree.

By the way Nick also has an excellent article in the December On Course Profits magazine which explains his methods for finding winning trainer angles.

You can get that magazine for free at http://oncourseprofits.com

Over to Nick…

I have been working on some betting angles for the AW Championships that I will share with you as soon as they are ready. For a bit of a change I have taken a look at Friday’s card from Exeter which features three valuable races. We follow that up with a trends analysis and some pointers for the Becher Chase and my fancies for the Tingle Creek and the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

Exeter hosts a really good card today including a ÂŁ12k Novice Chase, a ÂŁ15k Handicap Chase and the ÂŁ12k Devon Marathon Handicap chase over 4 miles. I have gone through the card in search of value plays and worthwhile betting opportunities.

The novice chase at 1.10pm is a fascinating race featuring a couple of smart former hurdlers in Deputy Dan (2nd in the 2014 Albert Bartlett and rated 145 over hurdles) and Saphir Du Rheu (Lanzarote hurdle winner and Welsh Champion hurdle winner last season and rated 168). Deputy Dan has form figures 21 over fences.

He was beaten on debut by Virak who has since followed up in impressive fashion at Haydock. Deputy Dan won his next start, beating Far West who was also a decent hurdler. That gives him a form line with Dunraven Storm (who also beat Far West) who won a Grade 2 Novice Chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting.

Saphir Du Rheu unseated on debut but is held in high regard by Paul Nicholls and he would win this if translating his hurdles form to fences. Connections (same ownership as Big Buck’s and Celestial Halo) have said they might go back over hurdles if he fails to perform here. If you think he won’t get round you can lay him for a place on the exchanges at around 1.10. If pushed for a tip I would go for Deputy Dan on that form line with Dunraven Storm.

The handicap chase at 1.40pm will probably see Paul Nicholl’s Wilton Milan go off favourite following an impressive win last time out that saw him finally get off the mark over fences. However, I am happy to take him on and the two that interest me are Workbench and Umberto D’Olivate.

Workbench has been on the go since August notching 3 wins in the process. His last two starts were a decent 5th of 11 behind John’s Spirit at Cheltenham and a 4th (revised to 3rd) in the Badger Ales Trophy over further than ideal. He travelled as well as anything that day before making a bad mistake.

The drop in trip could work out well but the concern is that all three wins came on good ground. His trainer Dan Skelton has said he does not want it soft. However, his last two runs were on good to soft so I will definitely be backing him if the going has the word “good” in it.

Umberto D’Olivate was very progressive last season, rattling off a hat-trick and he will come on for his seasonal reappearance. The slight concern is that his best form is over shorter so this trip might just stretch him.

The Devon Marathon Chase has a small field and the 4 miles takes some getting. It is another race that features a few horses with smart previous form and it also lends itself to a trends analysis.

No 6yo has won this since 2000 and no horse in that time has carried more than 11st 10lbs to victory. All of the last 5 winners were rated 110+ and all of the winners completed their previous race.

That leaves us with Reblis, Adrenalin Flight and Gorgehous Lliege.

Reblis is back down to his last winning mark but has shown nothing on his last two starts. He has won over 3m 5f on heavy off today’s mark of 119 so should see out the trip if in the right mood.

Adrenalin Flight has 49 lengths to find with Gorgehous Lliege but gets a 17lb pull in the weights. I doubt that will make much difference though as Gorgehous Lliege looks quite progressive over staying trips and should go close if this does not come too soon.

Reblis and Gorgehous Lliege are the two trends horses against the field. For the brave amongst you, Flying Award has won a Devon National, a Highland National and a Somerset National. However, his form figures since read PP0. I’ll leave that one up to you.

The Becher Chase is run over the Grand National fences where the horses jump 21 obstacles over a trip of 3m 2f. 16 of the last 17 winners had a top 5 finish LTO. Only one 7yo has won since 1997 and 8 of the last 9 winners were aged 9yo or older. The last 9 winners were all rated 130+ and only one of the last 13 winners carried 11st 7lb or more. In fact 10 of the last 13 winners carried under 11st. 15 of the last 17 winners had between 0 and 2 season runs and 8 of the last 11 winners had won over 3m or further.

The one horse who ticks all the boxes is Benbens for Nigel Twiston-Davies. The two that who fall down on just the one trend are Knock A Hand for Richard Lee and Renard for Venetia Williams. This may be a prep run for Knock a Hand ahead of a tilt at the Welsh National, Benbens has had just 6 chase starts and Renard looks a shade high in the weights. None of these are really fancied in the market and I have not seen them tipped up anywhere, but we rolled the trends dice and that’s what we have.

If you are not a fan of trends then there are a couple of other ways of looking at the race and one is course experience.

There are plenty of horses who have shown they jump these fences well including Saint Are, last year’s winners Chance Du Roy and Mr Moonshine. However the most interesting could be Across The Bay @25/1 who led the last two Grand Nationals for a fair way.

In 2013 he led until fence 26 and last year he was bowling along in front until carried into a different post code by a loose horse after fence 16. However, usual jockey Jason Maguire opts to ride Donald McCain’s other runner Kruzhlinin who is an even bigger price @40/1.

Despite this I think Across The Bay could well give each-way backers a run for their money. Saint Are @14/1 is probably the best handicapped horse in the race here off 127 which is 10lbs lower than his last winning mark. He ran his best race in a long time on his first start for Tom George at Cheltenham in November and he has attracted some support this week. It’s a wide open race and a case can be made for most of the runners. I will probably back the trends horses and Across The Bay to small stakes with any bookmaker offering 5 places. It would be a pleasant surprise if one of them were to win.

The Grand Sefton Chase looks like a cracking renewal. The trends on this one are not that strong but the one horse that ticks the most boxes (aged 8yo -10yo, rated 123+, carrying less than 11st 5lbs and a top 5 finish LTO) is Rebel Rebellion who attempts back to back wins off a 5lbs higher mark. 8/1 is plenty short enough.

One I like at a bigger price is Dolatulo who has a good form line through Court By Surprise (promoted to winner of the Badger Ales Trophy after disqualification of Young Master) whom he walloped by 35 lengths at Stratford back in March. His seasonal reappearance behind Sound Investment was a great prep for this race considering the 1st and 4th from that race occupied the front two places of the novice chase at Newbury on the first day of the Hennessy meeting. Up To Something for Charlie Longsdon could also outrun his price if taking to these fences.

The Tingle Creek has been far more straightforward for me. I think God’s Own has a huge chance and I have backed him @9/2 even when he held another entry in the novice chase on the same card. If Somersby brings his A-game he should give each-way backers a decent run for their money @10/1.

So there are my thoughts for Friday and Saturday and hopefully a few pointers for you. Racing is all about having an opinion and the conviction to back it up with a wager. With that in mind only back the selections below if you agree with my thoughts and analysis. Good luck if you are having a bet this weekend.

Friday

Exeter 1.10pm Deputy Dan @6/4
Exeter 1.40pm Umberto D’Olivate @12/1 & Workbench @6/1 (good or good-to-soft)
Exeter 3.20pm Reblis @20/1 & Gorgehous Lliege 3/1 (trends horses), Flying Award @20/1 (for the brave)

Saturday

Sandown 3.00pm God’s Own @9/2 and Somersby @10/1 (each-way alternative)
Aintree 1.30pm Benbens @20/1, Knock A Hand @20/1 & Renard @25/1 (trends horses), Across The Bay @25/1 (each-way alternative), Saint Are @14/1 (best handicapped)
Ainree 3.25pm Rebel Rebellion @8/1 (trends horse) and Dolatulo 14/1 (each-way alternative)

Why Hurricane Fly has to be layed in the Champion Hurdle

With Cheltenham just around the corner I'm very pleased to have secured the services of Mark Foley to guide us through the festival.

Mark is a stats and trends supremo and is in rude profit at his Trainer Trends tipping service.

He will be the brains behind a tipping service for the festival but in the lead up we have some of his thoughts on the ante post markets.

Why Hurricane Fly has to be layed in the Champion Hurdle:

Recommendations:
Grandouet 11/2 EW (Paddy Power)
Lay Hurricane Fly to win.

The age factor in the Champion hurdle:

The Imperial Cup at Sandown is raced a week before the Cheltenham festival and back in 2007 the run up to the race was dominated by the argument about whether Gaspara could overcome one of the longest running age stats in racing and become the first 4 yo winner of the race in over 60 years.

Gaspara won easily by six lengths and I asked myself if it was just a blip or whether, as I had suspected for a while horses were maturing younger.

The French influence has been far more prevalent over the past couple of decades in National Hunt racing with the vogue led by Martin Pipe, towards French bred horses, who seemed to mature earlier and were bred for speed rather than stamina.

The Champion hurdle may well have been affected by this growing French influence more than any other major race. Irish bred runners dominated during the Nineties and the early Noughties; between 1998 and 2006 Irish bred runners won all but two of the renewals, but that has all changed in recent years, we have seen two French Bred Champions and they have also claimed a third of the total places available.

This despite the fact that six of the French bred runners aged 8 or older failed to make the frame, whereas the runners aged 7 or younger won 2 renewals with a further 4 making the frame from a total of only 15 runners.

Most importantly, from a punting point of view it’s interesting to see that the younger French bred horses still manage to slip under the radar. Thousand Stars was 4th at 33/1 in 2011; Binocular won at 9/1 in 2010 and Zaynar was 3rd (15/2) and of course Sublimity won the 2007 renewal at 16/1.

Fancied 8 year olds

Since 2007 twelve 8 year olds have run in the Champion Hurdle and all 12 have been beaten with only 3 of them making the frame. It wasn’t as if they weren’t fancied either, as mentioned already Hurricane Fly added his name to this illustrious list last year after starting at odds on following on from Binocular the year before.

Ah, but Hurricane Fly is a class above the others, I hear you say, yet he failed last year as an 8yo when many believed he only had to turn up to win. Time waits for no man, (or horse) just ask Harchibald, Brave Inca, Hardy Eustace and even the great Istabraq.

Rooster Booster did it in 2003 as a 9yo, but that was arguably the weakest Champion Hurdle in a long time, in a race where there were only 3 horses rated 160 plus. To put that into context, all but one of the 10 runners last year were rated 160 plus; there were 8 in the 2011 race and 9 when Binocular won in 2009.

Rooster Booster’s only three serious rivals in that 2003 renewal were Intersky Falcon, Rhinestone Cowboy and Like a Butterfly, hardly names that will go down in the annals of racing history.

The French influence.

Horses would appear to mature at a younger age now; the Triumph (The 4 year old championship race) used to have a reputation for bottoming horses and ruining them during their 5 yo season and was given as one of the main reasons for the 5yo’s poor 1 from 50 record in the Champion Hurdle the following season.

However, I always dismiss a stat until I’ve seen the SP’s of the runners involved; if all 50 of the youngsters went off at 100/1 then even with just the one winner they would have punched above their weight. Since 1997 only nine of the 5 yos have gone off in single figures and on the whole the runners that went off in single figures have performed well, especially in recent years.

How the 5 yos performed in the Champion Hurdle.

The 2007 renewal saw the one disappointing well supported 5yo; Detroit City, who won the Triumph then became the first 4yo for 27 year to complete the Cheltenham/Aintree double. (He also took the Cesarawich on the flat for good measure).

He won the Greatwood by 14 lengths on his seasonal reappearance as a 5yo and after he took the scalp of Hardy Eustace he went into the Champion hurdle as a worthy favourite on the back on 8 hurdles runs undefeated. He was never going on the day and finished 6th (28/1 shot, the 5yo Afsoun was just touched off for 2nd place and had been beaten 14 lengths by Detroit City in the Triumph.)

Katchit became the first Triumph Hurdle winner to win the Champion Hurdle since Persian War in 1968 (73 five-year-olds had been beaten in the race since the 5 yo See You Then triumphed back in 1985) and it’s often said that it was a very soft Champions race that Katchit won but there were 6 runners rated 160 plus in that 2008 renewal including defending Champion Sublimity, Afsoun, Sizing Europe, Harchibald and Ebizyan, who had won last year’s Supreme Novice. Not a vintage renewal, but certainly not a poor one.

For the 2009 Champion Hurdle Binocular, who had side stepped the Triumph (finished 2nd in the Supreme) went off as favourite after beating beat Triumph winner Celestial Halo at Aintree by 7l. Nicky Henderson made the cardinal sin of not getting a recent run into him before the Champion hurdle race; the First six home were aged 5 or 6 that year a half a length separated the first 3 home; the 2nd, 3rd and 4th were all 5 yos.

The following year Triumph winner Zaynar finished 3rd after winning the Triumph. The message would appear to be that 4 and 5 yo runners are more robust than they used to be 10 to 15 years ago and more capable of recovering in time from a punishing race like the Triumph to do themselves justice in the Champion Hurdle.

This year’s renewal.
There are 4 French bred younger horses that fit the bill in this year’s renewal.
Grandouet OR 166.
Zaidpour OR 158.
Trifolium OR 147.
Balder Success OR 145.

Bearing in mind that this is a race for Champions, you would have needed to be rated 156 to place in recent years and unless Trifolium or Balder Success can show drastic improvement in the next seven weeks they look unlikely to be good enough this year.

Zaidpour would be interesting if the race was run on Heavy ground, but when you consider that since 1997 the ground has only been Soft once and the drainage system at Cheltenham is possibly the best in the country, that seems unlikely.

Which leaves us with Grandouet who has a liking for Cheltenham; he was runner up in only his 2nd career race in the Triumph trial and then finished 3rd to Zarkander in the Triumph.

He then went on to win the Irish Juvenile and returned to Prestbury Park just before Xmas to take the Grade 2 Stan James hurdle.

Injury forced him to miss the rest last season and he returned to defend his Stan James crown last month and made a most satisfactory return, going down 2 lengths to old rival Zarkander and beating last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Rock on Ruby on heavy ground. When you consider that Zarkander had the benefit of a recent run and was getting 4lb off Grandouet it is easy to envisage him reversing the placings come May on better ground.

The Nicky Henderson factor.

Since 2007 Nicky Henderson has had 11 runners in the Champion Hurdle; 2 have won and 5 have placed.
With what we know it should come as no surprise to find that the three 7 and 8 yo runners all failed to place.
The eight 5 and 6 yo runners won 2 renewals and only one of the 8 runners failed to make the frame.
All four 5yo runners placed without winning.
Two of the 6yo runners won.

The message is clear- in recent years Nicky Henderson doesn’t enter a young runner in the Champion Hurdle unless he believes they have a realistic chance of at least making the frame.

This year he has eight entries: Khyber Kim, Punjabi, Binocular, General Miller and Oscar Whiskey are all at least 8yo.
Cash and Go and Grandouet are all 6yos; Grandouet is rated 166; Cash and Go at 145 would need to improve 10lb to even be considered as place material.

Can market leader Hurricane Fly be beaten?

I opposed Hurricane fly in this race last year as an 8 yo and apart from his age I thought he might struggle off a stronger pace than when taking this race the year before and he finished third after a strong early pace.

Once again he has looked imperious in small fields on bad ground this year, where the pace has been far from electric. With Overturn and Rock on Ruby both likely to crank it up from some way out it would come as no surprise to see him struggle again in a truly run race.

In the championship races at the festival, the most prestigious British race so far that season has been a good marker.
In the last 10 years half of the Gold Cup winners also won the King George; the Long Walk has provided the World Hurdle winner 4 times and the winner of the Tingle Creek has won the Champion Chase twice in the last 10 years.

The exception in the Champion hurdle; no winner of the Christmas Hurdle has won the Champion Hurdle in the last decade and the other two main trials, The Bula and The Fighting Fifth have only produced one winner each. Half of the last 10 Champion Hurdle winners have been Irish and the best Irish 2m hurdlers don’t often contest the British trials, as the equivalent trials are often held in close proximity to their British counterparts.

Furthermore, unlike the other 3 championship races, the Champion Hurdle trials tend not to be run at a true pace and the recent prolonged bad ground has just made the crawl longer and the sprint shorter in the trial races. Patrick Veitch made the point that the reason recent form so often goes out of the window in the Championship races is that they are run at an increased pace for far longer than even in most Grade 1 races, sprinting off a slow pace is a different ballgame to quickening off an end-to-end gallop.

That’s the reason why previous festival form in the Grade 1 races is so important and last year’s renewal is often the best trial at a festival race as the horse has already proved that it can handle the increased pace under similar conditions.

When Hurricane Fly won this race in 2011, the time was 3:51.71, and it wasn’t one of the faster races in recent years. A year later on the same Going the winning time was 3:50.1, almost 2 seconds quicker and Hurricane Fly was beaten 5 lengths.

The clock says he ran his race and his time was similar to his winning time a year earlier, the English trained front two were superior horses on the day, which casts doubt on the merit of his 2011 win. Can he equal those performance as a 9yo? history tells us that the answer is no and that he is past his prime.

With the last 4 winners currently entered along with the best of the younger generation The Hurricane would need to achieve a feat that Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca found beyond them. That was during a period when the Irish hurdlers totally dominated their English counterparts.

It would appear that hurdlers reach their prime as either a 6 or 7 yo these days and in a vintage looking year I would be very surprised to see Hurricane Fly win.

Grandouet on the other hand has a lot going for him and it will be disappointing if he doesn’t make the frame at the very least.

Today's Selection courtesy of Trainer Trends

Catterick 2.05 Abbey Storm – win bet

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