Sunday, 13 December 2015

Hilly Way Chase preview

Some rather ordinary weather in Ireland of late meant today's attempt at running the Hilly Way Chase at Cork had to be rearranged. Technical difficulties prevented me from publishing the original preview, so here's a tweaked version from Irish racing analyst Neal Murphy, @njmurphy1985.


Hilly Way Chase
rescheduled to Monday 12:35 Navan
Grade 2, €47,500, 2m 1f
Going: Heavy

Bright New Dawn

On ratings Bright New Dawn has little chance. The handicapper did not think much of his effort in front of Felix Yonger, First Lieutenant and Mallowney in Clonmel last day leaving him on 148 but this parish takes a contrasting view. All bar Bright New Dawn were open company Grade 1/2 winners and First Lieutenant has since proven he retains some old sparkle when third in the Hennessy off 147. His switch to Gordon Elliott’s stable has gotten off to a shaky start, falling at the second on debut and rear-ending himself at the third in the Fortia losing his rider but he was backed on both occasions and it would be no surprise if the yard has significantly improved him given their history. I think he is bordering on a 160s horse and with definite race fitness, this gives him a live chance on Sunday (Monday). If he had completed in the Fortia, I think he’d have won and should go close this week.

Days Hotel

A good servant to the stable but now at 10, looks like he has seen better days. A winner of this in 2012 and his 2nd in the Fortria on seasonal re-appearance would suggest all hope is not lost, but he plugged on for runners up spot after the race had completely fallen apart and it was February ’14 when he last got his head in front. Very tough to see him reversing the clock and he goes unconsidered.

Felix Yonger

A very consistent performer last season, winning on all starts bar his seasonal re-appearance. His culminating victory in the Punchestown Champion Chase proved he was right back to his days of defeating the likes of Defy Logic, Trifolium over fences and finishing a good second to Simonsig in the Neptune Hurdle. A talented operator and one that does not go without consideration for the Cheltenham Champion Chase, he will take all the beating this weekend. The heavy going is the one concern but he looked to handle it on seasonal re-appearance in Clonmel and his class should see him through.

Hidden Cyclone

A consistent performer over the years and a very good horse on his day, particularly over 2 miles. The winner of this season’s Fortria Chase, it is questionable form given the market principles failed to fire and they all finished very tired horses having needed the run. His run last Sunday in the John Durkan is a worry given he fell half way but continued to run with the leader for the reminder of the race. The trainer has said he has come out of it fine and is 100% but I would think it has left a mark.


A scorcher with the finest tea-leaves is needed for this fella but definitely a classy animal on his day. A PU in this race last year followed by a very impressive Grade 1 win at Leopardstown 20 days later gives a good insight into his predictability. As a previous winner of the race in 2013 and pulled up on seasonal re-appearance in the Fortria, you’d have to give him a serious chance!


WP Mullins’s yard has shifted into full throttle in December, with seven winners from 14 attempts. He has top quality arsenal for all challenges and this race is no different. As mentioned above, Felix Yonger has proved himself a Grade 1 performer and dispelled initial winter ground worries both this season and last. He looks ultra consistent, has won over further on bad ground and gets the vote for Sunday. He is currently best price 6/4 and I see him going off a lot closer to odds-on. Of the challengers, Bright New Dawn looks the next best on the basis of his stable switch and a good run last time out. He has also proven his stamina over further, which will be needed given the weather forecast. Hidden Cyclone’s efforts last weekend is a big negative, saying Twinlight is inconsistent is an understatement and Days Hotel is very unlikely to cut it in this company.

1. Felix Yonger
2. Bright New Dawn

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Inter Dominion Final

After three rounds of heats, it's now time for the richest race in Australasian harness racing, the Inter Dominion Final.

Our regular pundit, WA harness specialist Trent Orwin, @themightytrent3, has appeared courtesy of BettingPro throughout the carnival, and once again, he shares his assessment of the feature race.


Inter Dominion Final
Gloucester Park, Perth
$1.3m, Group 1, Grand Circuit
Sunday Dec 13, 1450 local, 1750 AEDST, 0650 GMT
2536m, Mobile Start.

Form guide

1. Lovers Delight – $7 William Hill

Gets an ideal draw to set the pace and they won’t be handing up with him unless he gets crossed early. He defeated Lennytheshark by a narrow margin after finding the front last start and is capable of running strong sectionals. Regular driver Chris Lewis takes the reins and he is one of the very best when it comes to rating a leader. The downside is there is sure to be plenty of pressure but he does have toughness. Looks a strong each-way chance in the race.

2. Waylade – $9 Ladbrokes

This looks a good draw for this promising five-year-old from the Gary Hall Snr stable. Another superstar local drives in the form of Gary Hall Jnr. His run last start was excellent when leading the three-wide train and wasn’t beaten far. There is every possibility that he will be able to trail Lennytheshark in the run. Each-way chance from this draw.

3. Lennytheshark – $2.05 William Hill

The most impressive runner in the series thus far with two victories in the heats and a narrow second placing. His turn of foot is his greatest weapon and he will be close to the action from barrier three. The breeze looks the most likely position for him but he could take cover on a suitable rival knowing he could run past them late. Chris Alford is a champion driver and Lennytheshark rates as the horse to beat.

4. Philadelphia Man – $6.50 Sportsbet

Along the same lines as Lennytheshark, this fellow Victorian pacer has really impressed me throughout the series and should be midfield early in the race. Gavin Lang is cool under pressure and will have options during the race. Expect him to race around the 1 out 2 back position before coming three-wide in the final 1000m-1200m. Each-way chance.

5. Our Blackbird – $101 bet365

He is a one-trick pony and will get his opportunity to use that trick by racing on the pegs before showing his customary turn of foot. Should land three back on the fence behind Flaming Flutter and has the potential to be a complete knockout (more so for the place at $15+ odds). He ran second when racing behind the leader in the opening heat. Knockout hope.

6. Libertybelle Midfrew – $61 Sportsbet

The only mare in the race (and the entire series for that matter) will need heaps of luck to be in the finish. Likely to be four back on the pegline and a midfield finish would be a good effort. She was an excellent last-start winner but there won’t be any lead for her this time around and it’s hard to make a case for her against this company.

7. Avonnova – $51 bet365

Queensland’s sole representative and he will need a stack of luck to be figuring in the finish here. He has performed well throughout the heats and his toughness has allowed for him to thrive on this style of racing. He would love to get close to the speed but that looks unlikely and he isn’t the same horse coming from behind. I’d be looking elsewhere in the race.

8. Devendra – $10 William Hill

If there was a coach’s award for the series, this guy would get it. He wasn’t even in the top 30 when he boarded the flight to Perth and was the last horse to make the series. Two heat wins later and he stamped himself as a serious contender. Trainer-driver James Rattray has won the past two Inter Dominions with Beautide. Looks versatile but the wide-draw is not ideal. All scenarios lead to him covering heaps of ground. Each-way chance but looks under the odds at $10.

9. My Hard Copy – $17 Sportsbet

One of the quickest closers in the race, he is going to need heaps of luck and a crazy tempo to get involved in the finish. His WA Pacing Cup win was awesome and the same will be required here in order for Clinton Hall to get the sit-sprinter over the top of rivals. If he had drawn close to the speed he would have been a massive winning chance. Still an each-way chance but I’d be wanting a bigger price for him.

10. Flaming Flutter – $26 Sportsbet

A difficult horse to assess and his last run was fairly plain when Devendra raced straight past him. Racing on the pegs could help his cause and Lovers Delight should be a good helmet to follow. The staying trip is a plus and he was runner up in the Menangle edition earlier this year. If they sprint home then I fear he won’t catch a few, but if they have run along and there are tired legs then he looks the opportunist from the draw. Each-way chance and looks value in the race.

11. Major Crocker (First Emergency) – $51 William Hill

I won’t give an assessment as he isn’t in the field at present.

12. Blazin N Cullen (Second Emergency) – $51 bet365

Same as Major Crocker except even more unlikely to gain a start so no assessment will be given.


Regular followers of my Bettingpro column will know that we are on My Hard Copy at around the $34-$41 mark and Lovers Delight at $41 as tipped before and during the series.

Starting off with the speed map, Lovers Delight has enough gate speed to hold the lead and there won’t be handing up with this pacer. Lennytheshark looks the early breeze horse and it is difficult to predict whether he would hand up that position.

Flaming Flutter should be able to muster enough pace to trail Lovers Delight, but don’t be surprised if Waylade tries to duck in if Lovers Delight is forced to go full throttle early to repel Lennytheshark and/or Devendra.

Assuming Flaming Flutter is behind Lovers Delight, Our Blackbird should be three back on the markers with Libertybelle Midfrew four back on the fence.

Philadelphia Man should drop straight into the moving line and could be 1 out 2 back early if Waylade stays in the 1 out 1 back position behind Lennytheshark. The rest of the moving line should consist of Avonnova, Devendra and My Hard Copy – the latter may head for the pegs and then look to get off later in the race.

Lennytheshark has been the horse that has impressed me the most throughout the series and he looks hardest to beat. Bookmakers have found his right price and others are offering an odds-on quote which looks too short.

I am struggling to find any real standout value in the race and that is a credit to the field and the barrier draw/speed map configuration.

It is hard seeing Lennytheshark missing the top three and he will be the banker for our trifecta combinations.

Each one will have him as a standout runner to win, run second and also third.

Lovers Delight, Waylade and Philadelphia Man look the three main dangers and I will be having them in a group to either win or run second and adding Our Blackbird, Devendra, My Hard Copy and Flaming Flutter into the wider group.

Along with three trifecta combinations, I am happy to be on Flaming Flutter who looks good each-way value.

He should be behind the leader and while he doesn’t have a great change of speed, he can follow speed and a strong tempo should suit him.

The one that I like, mainly for the place, at knockout odds is Our Blackbird who will get a soft run on the pegs. He ran second behind Lennytheshark in the opening round after enjoying a soft passage and his turn of foot could be seen late in the piece.


Trifecta: 3/1,2,4/1,2,4,5,8,9,10 ($21 for 100%)
Trifecta: 1,2,4/3/1,2,4,5,8,9,10 ($21 for 100%)
Trifecta: 1,2,4/1,2,4,5,8,9,10/3 ($21 for 100%)

Flaming Flutter each-way ($26 with Sportsbet)
Our Blackbird each-way ($101w & $14.10p with William Hill)


My ratings for the Inter Dominion Final. All prices add up to 100% and are the odds that I believe each runner should be in the final – any price above the rating is considered ‘value’ or an ‘overlay.’

1. Lovers Delight - $6
2. Waylade - $10
3. Lennytheshark - $2.20
4. Philadelphia Man - $7
5. Our Blackbird - $101
6. Libertybelle Midfrew - $251
7. Avonnova - $251
8. Devendra - $31
9. My Hard Copy - $31
10. Flaming Flutter - $14

Saturday, 5 December 2015

John Durkan Memorial Chase Preview

A spate of feral weather in the UK and Ireland has put several meetings at risk, so let's hope the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase goes ahead at Punchestown on Sunday. It'll almost certainly be a heavy track.

Making his first appearance on the blog with no fear about the going or the uncertainty is Neal Murphy, @njmurphy1985. Welcome aboard!


John Durkan Memorial Chase
Grade 1, €80,000, 2m4f
1350 local 0050 AEDST
Likely Going; Heavy


Having shaped quite nicely on seasonal return needing the run in Gowran, his effort in Down Royal was tremendously disappointing. He travelled through the race without his usual verve and didn’t land any sort of blow on the day. On the back of that run and the pick of his form last season beating an out of sorts Vautour at Christmas and Vibrato Valtat in Aintree, I think he will find his level short of open Grade 1 company this season. Unlikely to feature on Sunday.


A serious player in this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup given his tremendous second last season, Djakadam opened on Monday as best price 13/8 favourite for this race. Six pounds clear of Foxrock on official ratings, one can see on the back of the Gold Cup performance, potential improvement with age and connections why odds-compliers placed him top of the market. The positives are hard to argue with but two negatives make the opposition a viable choice. Firstly, Willie has one race in mind for this horse and it is not this. Like all his superstar stable mates he will definitely need the run on seasonal bow and will be seen to better effect next day out. Secondly, the trip will be inadequate for a horse that appears to want every inch of three miles. He’s an archetypal Gold Cup candidate and while Road To Riches recently won a Grade 1 over 2.5 miles, he is a more talented individual with a few more gears than this fella.


Just seeing him back on the track would warm the iciest of hearts but like us all, Father Time waits for no man and particularly given the long spell on the side-line, his Rolls-Royce engine appears to lack the glorious ferocity of yesteryear. Now trained by the owner’s son, Anthony Curran, connections were bullish re his seasonal comeback and he shaped nicely, showing enthusiasm of old but once they hit two out he emptied worryingly like his runs last season and spluttered home a very tired horse. This race is over an extra four furlongs and should be run to a true enough pace and with that, the head rules the heart and gives him no chance. The romantics amongst us will have a stab at 33s and I can see why but if he is to win this season, I think it will be in a lesser grade over the minimum trip.


While a good second in last season’s Irish Hennessy, a look through the field would not inspire and his subsequent outing in the Ryanair at Cheltenham was a non-event after being supplemented. A prep run over hurdles will have him fit and is a winner of a valuable handicap off 149 over the trip but I think he’ll come up short on Sunday given the opposition.


After promising a lot in his Grade 2 win in Limerick at Christmas, Gilgamboa’s subsequent runs last season and even including a Grade 1 win, were disappointing in comparison. He was taken out his comfort zone by Un De Sceaux in the Irish Arkle, beaten by Rawnaq over an inadequate trip (2m1f) in Navan and laboured in a hard fought win in the Ryanair Gold Cup (formerly Powers Gold Cup) when the two market principles, Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido, failed to fire 3 weeks post Cheltenham which he skipped. He was also fortunate The Tullow Tank only woke up after the last, just failing to reel him in in the dying strides. While he will enjoy conditions on Sunday, there is uncertainty over best trip (trainer said in a recent stable tour he will step up to 3 miles), more than likely will need the run on seasonal debut and most pertinently of all, have to answer serious questions over his class to mix it in open Grade 1 company this season. Currently available best price 9/2, I think he is the poor value and to be avoided at the prices.

Hidden Cyclone

A consistent performer over the years and a very good horse on his day, particularly over two miles. The winner of this season’s Fortria Chase, it is questionable form given the market principles failed to fire and they all finished very tired horses having needed the run. While he has placed in a Grade 1 over this trip before, this is likely to be a real test of stamina with conditions and I can see him struggling to get home.

Valseur Lido

Proved himself as a high quality novice chaser last season on the back off two Grade 1 victories and a placed effort behind Vautour and Apache Stronghold at the Cheltenham festival. He is a horse to look forward over the coming seasons but I do feel his Punchestown Grade 1 over three miles flatters him as they went a steady pace and all were coming off the back of a long season. Irish Cavalier’s proximity four and a bit lengths behind besmirches the form in my book. It was also very surprising when the stable suggested him as a possible Grand National horse in a recent stable tour as I’d have thought he was held in higher regard than that. With him more than likely to need the run and the stable mentioning handicap targets in April, the best price 3/1 looks skinny.


This is a very difficult race to have a confident selection given the question marks raised above. Djakadam and Valseur Lido will need the run; do Clarcam, Gilgamboa, Foxrock have the class and Hidden Cyclone is far more at home over two miles. Djakadam was beaten off 142 last season in the Hennessy first time out and many will highlight this is why he can’t win on Sunday. However, he travelled well in the race looking like the winner for much of it, tiring badly around four out and struggling to get home over the 3m 2f trip. It is no coincidence the winner that day, Many Clouds, went on to win the Grand National the following April. He opened best price 13/8 earlier in the week and is now available at 9/4 with Valseur Lido vying for market favouritism. This looks an overreaction and with the heavy ground and no standout opposition he looks the best bet at the prices. The seven runners ruin any EW consideration and while he does lack gears, his run in the Gold Cup shows he is absolute Grade 1 class and this should see him prevail.

1. Djakadam
2. Valseur Lido

Neal Murphy @njmurphy1985

Friday, 4 December 2015

Grand Sefton Chase

Some great chasing action in Liverpool this weekend and it's caught the eye of aspiring racing journalist, Adam Webb. Read more of his work at OnTheOtherHoof and follow him on @adamwebb121.


Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase
Class 2, £70,000, approx 2m5f
1520 local, 0220 AEDST

The other feature alongside the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences is the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase run over the same course and distance as the Topham Trophy. Revived in 2003 after being a main staple of the National Hunt season over a one hundred year period from 1865 to 1965, it has proven to be a race that suits horses that race handily and DOUBLE ROSS looks to have a huge chance to make it an excellent day for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Having been in the wilderness after a good effort in last season’s Charlie Hall Chase when third to Menorah, he returned this season with a fine second behind Pendra in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot and confirmed that effort when running well in the Paddy Power Gold Cup when fourth to Annacotty. He has experience of the fences when fifth in the 2014 Topham behind runaway winner Ma Filleule and the ease in ground will play to his strengths over this distance. Twiston-Davies won this contest with a similar type in Little Josh back in 2012 and he looks the one to beat with plenty in his favour.

Paul Nicholls has two runners with the main hope looking to be Rocky Creek who is a fascinating contender over this distance. Well fancied for this year’s Grand National after an impressive victory in the Racing Plus Chase, he disappointed badly having failed to travel with the same zest he had shown in the 2014 renewal when fifth behind Pineau De Re. He arguably brings the best form to the race having chased home Don Cossack in the JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal last time and has to be seriously respected.

Nicholls is also represented by Fago who has been difficult to train with various issues ailing him throughout his career. His comeback at Wetherby reads well behind Wakanda with that rival winning last week’s Rehearsal Chase but he was slightly disappointing at Ascot when fading close home. He has experience of Aintree having fallen heavily in the 2014 Topham when travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders. The main concerns are whether he’ll see the trip out and with his problems over the years, Aintree would be the place to expose them.

Bennys Mist has valuable form around these fences including when second to Ma Filleule in the 2014 Topham and third behind Poole Master in last year’s renewal. A good effort when second in the Newbury Gold Cup behind Sound Investment saw him well fancied for the Topham Trophy. He was struggling when baulked by a loose horse and sent Aidan Coleman over the third last fence. His form this season has been disappointing and you would be hoping on a return to Aintree to bring about significant improvement.

Poole Master won this last year when making most of the running before showing very little, including in the Topham when looking to sulk. The conditions of this race should suit better off a two pound higher mark than last year but he is difficult to fancy with the Pipe yard still not firing on all cylinders. Seventh Sky was a model of consistency last season and has been set some stiff tasks so far this season in chasing home Coneygree at Sandown and finishing fourth behind Vautour last time at Ascot. A drop down in grade will be of benefit and he should be competitive off his mark but others appeal more than him.

Micky Hammond picked up Topham third RATHLIN for only £11,000 over the summer from his former owners Gigginstown and this purchase could look shrewd. He took to the challenge well in April and runs here off a four pound lower mark in a less competitive race. The ground isn’t a concern as he’s won on all types of ground and Wayne Hutchinson is an excellent jockey booking with his confidence sky high after Smad Place’s Hennessy success last week.

With testing ground assured, Silver Roque, Top Cat Henry and Distime can easily be ignored with their best form coming on a sounder surface whilst Witness In Court looked to enjoy these fences before unseating at Valentines in the Topham. Donald McCain’s charge has won on soft ground but he would probably appreciate better ground. Both Art Of Logistics and Mwaleshi look difficult to weigh up with them looking out of form. The former ran a decent enough race behind Savello in a conditions event back in June at Punchestown but has shown little since and the latter should appreciate the ground having won on bottomless ground at Haydock in January but recent form doesn’t inspire.


Nigel Twiston-Davies did the unique double of the Becher/Grand Sefton in 2012 and looks to have two ideal candidates to achieve it again in Algernon Pazham and DOUBLE ROSS who has returned to a decent level of form this season and deserves to be favourite. Rocky Creek merits the utmost of respect coming back down in distance whilst RATHLIN is one at a bigger price that should go well for new connections.

1) Double Ross 2) Rathlin 3) Rocky Creek

Becher Chase preview

Quality National Hunt around Britain tomorrow with the ravaged-by-non-runners Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, and the Becher and Grand Sefton at Aintree. It's the latter pair which has captured the attention of aspiring racing journalist, Adam Webb. Read more of his work at OnTheOtherHoof and follow him on @adamwebb121


Betfred Becher Handicap Chase
Grade 3, £140,000, approx 3m2f
1340 local 0040 AEDST

Since the Becher Chase was introduced to the calendar in 1992, the race has become one of the most recognised trials leading towards the Grand National in April with three horses having completed the double. Both Amberleigh House and Silver Birch used this as a springboard to Aintree success whilst Earth Summit completed it after winning the world’s most famous steeplechase earlier in the year. Plenty of other Becher winners have performed with enormous credit including the likes of Samlee, Clan Royal and Black Apalachi who all went on to finished placed.

Seventeen runners head to post for this year’s renewal with no less than half the field priced at 12/1, indicating the competitive nature towards the head of the weights. General favourite with most firms and heading the Irish challenge is Goonyella. The eight year old gelding has missed out on the previous two renewals of the Grand National due to being too low in the ratings and only got as far as the first fence in this contest twelve months ago.

However, an impressive win in this year’s Midlands National at Uttoxeter and a third place in the Scottish equivalent at Ayr behind Wayward Prince ensures he will be guaranteed a run next year. With the likely testing ground at Aintree on Saturday and a pipe-opener over hurdles at Cork having blown away the cobwebs, he would hold strong claims but the main concern which covers several of the leading contenders is whether this will be seen as a ‘sighter’ before a return in April. It’s worth noting his mark of 150 looks fairly stiff also with April in mind.

Other leading Irish contenders to fit the ‘sighter’ category include Irish National victor Thunder And Roses and Bet365 Gold Cup runner up Vics Canvas. Trainer of the former Sandra Hughes nominated this as an early season target, wanting to give the son of Presenting a view of the place before returning in April. The other concern with Thunder And Roses is his jumping.

Whilst the changes at Aintree have made the course easier to an extent, the fences still take some jumping and he will need to be foot perfect which isn’t guaranteed. The latter has very few chase starts for a horse aged 12 and ran a career best when second to Just A Par at Sandown. His return at Haydock when sixth behind Baradari in the Fixed Brush Hurdle was a fair effort considering the trip was always going to be on the sharp side against progressive younger horses. A Cork National winner last season, conditions shouldn’t faze him but he would ideally like further.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has an excellent record in the Becher Chase with five victories and he saddles ALGERNON PAZHAM who holds a strong winning chance. Whilst he lacks experience, his jumping is mostly sound and he should take well to these fences after doing everything right bar win on his return at Bangor when beaten less than a length by What A Good Night. No six year old has ever won the Becher but it’s not a huge concern with the variety of horses that have succeeded in the race’s history. Ryan Hatch claims a valuable 3lb and the fact his other entry Foxbridge is a non runner here speaks volumes about Twiston-Davies having one representative.

Several of these ran in the Grand National last season including Saint Are, runner up to Many Clouds having improved leaps and bounds for his stable switch from Tim Vaughan to Tom George. He ran a solid enough race on his cross country debut at Cheltenham behind Josies Orders but he’s never won on ground worse than good to soft so any rain would be a negative.

Top weight Unioniste appears to have a difficult task on his first outing of the season. An early faller at the fifth in April, a clear round will be at the forefront of connections’ thoughts. Add in the fact that the majority of Nicholls contenders are needing their first outing, he can be ignored. Soll finished ninth in the National after looking a likely winner at one stage but the worries are that he has a history of breaking blood vessels and the form of David Pipe’s yard remains questionable.

2014 Grand National winner Pineau De Re could only finish twelfth behind Many Clouds. Dr Richard Newland’s charge has shaped with promise on both his starts this season, more notably his latest effort at Sandown in a veterans chase when chasing home Vino Griego. He remains on the same mark here and won’t be inconvenienced by the weather forecast. He attempts to become the first horse since Bindaree in 2002 to win a race after his Grand National success and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he could follow in Earth Summit’s footsteps.

Dolatulo was a blatant non-stayer in the National having travelled well until stamina limitations became apparent, ending up being the last to complete the course. The son of La Fou also ran in the Grand Sefton last season where Denis O’Regan said to trainer Warren Greatrex that he would benefit from running over further and proved that when taking the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby. Greatex and jockey Gavin Sheehan are in a rich vein of form at the moment and with this being the plan over a more suitable trip, a bold bid is expected.

The other horse to attempt this year’s Grand National was PORTRAIT KING who belied his big price by running well for a long way before falling at the third last. Although he was just beginning to be pushed along, his endless stamina reserves would have kept him in touch and he would have at least finished in the first six.

Recently bought by owners Jim Beaumont and Douglas Pryde who both had majority shares in 2013 Grand National winner Auroras Encore and moved to the yard of Patrick Griffin, his return at Bangor was disappointing on reflection but he looks to have been primed to run well here. Unlike most near the top of the weights, the son of Portrait Gallery needs his mark of 132 to be roughly around 140 to have another crack at next year’s National so he needs to go close to ensure a chance to make the final line-up next April.

No Planning ran a fair race on his most recent start at Haydock behind Vieux Lion Rouge and whilst Sue Smith has a decent record around Aintree, the son of Kayf Tara doesn’t stand out as the type to excel around these fences. Ardkilly Witness had some decent form last season including a fourth behind Rocky Creek in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton and whilst these fences shouldn’t pose any problems, he has shown a tendency to jump right-handed. The last time he ran left handed over fences at Newbury was a key example of this in a Grade Two novice chase behind Just A Par.

Buachaill Alainn ran a strange race behind Emperor’s Choice at Haydock after looking to be in trouble with a circuit to go before staying on eyecatchingly close home. With the stable seemingly looking for a National contender in the spring, this horse could step up to the plate but would need to improve a few pounds. Cowards Close makes his debut for Chris Gordon having left champion trainer Paul Nicholls. He has form on soft ground which includes a win in the Grand Military at Sandown but needs to improve significantly on his two outings this season. Highland Lodge is another making his debut for a new yard having being sold at Doncaster Sales last month for £22,000 to Jimmy Moffatt but has looked out of love recently with the game so is a watching brief tomorrow. Dare To Endeavour has the assistance of Liam Treadwell in the saddle which is the only positive for the horse’s chance with his poor recent form whilst Financial Climate should appreciate the jumping test of Aintree but probably lacks the class to be winning a race of this nature.


The 2015 Becher Chase has a competitive look on paper with several likely Grand National candidates for April but with question marks about several near the top of the market, ALGERNON PAZHAM looks the most likely winner for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who has a fine record over the Grand National fences and looks to achieve a sixth win in the contest.

It wouldn’t be a huge shock if Pineau De Re was able to win his first race since his Grand National success in 2014 after a promising effort at Sandown last time and it’s difficult to see Dolatulo out of the frame with the yard flying at present and this being the main target. The other advised bet would be PORTRAIT KING who ran well in the Grand National back in the spring and it’s significant that he has halved in price throughout the week with best price at the time of writing 16/1.

1) Algernon Pazham
2) Portrait King
3) Pineau De Re
4) Dolatulo

Algernon Pazham (8/1 Generally)

Portrait King (16/1 Best price)

Inter Dominion - Round 3 Heat previews

The final round of the Inter Dominion heats and it's back to Gloucester Park over the longer trip. Be very wary of horses who have already qualified for the final - you can read the current points table here.

Once again, for the shrewd advice, it's over to WA harness racing specialist, Trent Orwin, @themightytrent3.


Inter Dominion Heat Previews
Form analyst: Trent Orwin
Website: BettingPro
Twitter: @themightytrent3

The final round of qualifying heats are crucial for a number of horses and this round will be ultra-competitive as some runners know that only a strong performance will see them make the $1.3 million Group 1 Inter Dominion Final on December 13.

Lennytheshark and Philadelphia Man have already booked their spot into the final which means that they don’t have to produce anything special on Friday night. Yes they can win their respective heats, but making sure they get around safely without doing unnecessary work will be the number one priority.

I will analyse the chances of each runner per heat while listing the biggest odds on offer at the time of writing along with the bookmaker that is offering those odds.

Race 4 – INTER DOMINION HEAT 7 – 2536m
1925 local, 2225 AEDST, 1125 GMT

1. Dynamite Dude ($31 UBET) – Hasn’t had any luck in two heats to date and stepping up to 2536m is ideal. Rough each-way chance at odds.

2. Billies A Star ($10 UBET) – Looks set to run a good race from the barrier and could be the leader. Each-way chance in the race.

3. Mach Alert ($21 Luxbet) – Would have slept well after a 26.3 opening quarter on Tuesday night. Short back-up from a gut-buster means he is a massive risk despite good draw.

4. Bettors Fire – SCRATCHED

5. Franco Ledger ($12 Sportsbet) – Suited by the step up in distance and should be finding the line well. Each-way.

6. Crusader Banner ($41 Bet365) – Not sure whether he will go forward or back. Has been racing well but prefer others in this event.

7. My Hard Copy ($6 UBET) – New Bunbury track record holder that can finish strongly with some luck. Each-way contender.

8. Lovers Delight ($26 Bet365) – Enormous run when three-deep the trip at Bunbury and running third. Extremely versatile but place chances look best from the draw.

9. Lennytheshark ($1.75 Luxbet) – Series favourite that continues to dominate. Could be just a ‘run’ as he doesn’t need any points to make the final. Looks under the odds but is the leading chance.

10. For A Reason ($41 Ladbrokes) – Makes up the numbers in this heat and doubt we will see too much more of him after the summer. Been a great campaigner and looks ready to enjoy retirement.

Selections: 1. Lennytheshark, 2. Billies A Star, 3. My Hard Copy
Suggested Bet: Billies A Star each-way

Race 6 – INTER DOMINION HEAT 8 – 2536m
2030 local, 2330 AEDST, 1230 GMT

1. Our Hi Jinx ($14 CrownBet) – Hasn’t looked like the QPC winner as of late but this is his go and he should be a dramatic improver. Excellent each-way value.

2. Northview Punter ($51 Ladbrokes) – He’s not up to this level and will need a soft run. Can’t see him figuring unless he gets the pegs in a striking position.

3. Libertybelle Midfrew ($8.50 Sportsbet) – It wasn’t to be for the only mare in the series and watch out for her in mares grade. Prefer others in the race.

4. Shannonsablast ($41 Sportsbet) – Capable of running better than his odds suggest. Will need luck in running but is capable of being an each-way chance.

5. Jason Rulz ($13 Bet365) – Due for a change of luck because he hasn’t had much this series. 2536m looks ideal and can run into the money.

6. Major Crocker ($3.70 UBET) – Terrific run at Bunbury and will be driven aggressively again. Strong contender in this race and the lead may be on offer for him.

7. Our Blackbird ($51 Bet365) – Not the right draw for him but he has flashed down the outside on a number of occasions at the track from similar draws. Not for me but don’t be discouraged if you are a fan.

8. Waylade ($4.70 UBET) – Needs some luck here in order to make the final. We will see what level he is at from the horror draw but he is still young so follow him going forward. Each-way.

9. Philadelphia Man ($3 Sportsbet) – Unbeaten through two heats and doesn’t need to be knocked around here. Strong contender but connections won’t care if he doesn’t win as his grand final is next Sunday.

10. Easy On The Eye ($34 Ladbrokes) – The worst possible draw for this horse who will either need to follow the pegs or be driven upside down. Don’t like his chances.

Selections: 1. Philadelphia Man, 2. Our Hi Jinx, 3. Major Crocker
Suggested Bets: Our Hi Jinx each-way and Shannonsablast each-way

Race 8 – INTER DOMINION HEAT 9 – 2536m
2130 local, 0030 AEDST, 1330 GMT

1. Meadowbranch DJ ($501 Bet365) – Have to give credit to all involved for taking the risk with the Irish pacer but he hasn’t been competitive and won’t be here.

2. Five Star Anvil ($61 UBET) – Would need a fast form reversal to be winning here and happy to oppose. If he can cross Meadowbranch DJ he is a blowout place hope only.

3. Cold Major ($10 Ladbrokes) – Will find the pegs early and most likely trails Mach Beauty throughout. Each-way chance.

4. Mach Beauty ($8.50 Ladbrokes) – Will lead unless Cold Major declares war early and then both will be sitting ducks. Last run was good and looks an each-way chance.

5. Classic American ($21 Bet365) – Needs luck from the draw but racing well and can figure in the finish. Each-way.

6. Avonnova ($4.20 Ladbrokes) – Can’t fault his work and looks the breeze horse in the race. One of the leading hopes.

7. Blazin N Cullen ($9 Sportsbet) – John McCarthy drove him to perfection last start but this draw looks trickier. Still an each-way hope.

8. Flaming Flutter ($7 Bet365) – Excellent run at Bunbury. Looks the best chance in a very wide open affair. Each-way.

9. Devendra ($3.80 Sportsbet) – Race favourite but I don’t understand why that’s the case. Was a huge run at Bunbury but looks like his best work comes close to the speed. Happy to oppose.

10. Machtu ($26 CrownBet) – Gets the awkward draw behind Meadowbranch DJ. Not going well enough to do work and win from here in this company.

Selections: 1. Flaming Flutter, 2. Cold Major, 3. Avonnova
Suggested Bet: Flaming Flutter each-way

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Matchbook Traders Workshops

After the runaway success of the inaugural Matchbook Traders Conference in October, the realisation of a dream I had several years ago after finding like minds who had a similar idea in mind, the sponsors are understandably keen to keep the momentum running with a series of smaller events.

One of the topics which struck a chord with many in the audience was Programming in R. The conference session, Intro to R, was delivered by Tom Heslop, @UTVilla, a self-taught R programmer, and there was plenty of feedback wanting to take that knowledge to a higher level.

So now it's here...

Matchbook is pleased to present the Matchbook Trader Workshops - the same spirit and fun as the Matchbook Traders Conference condensed into one evening of accelerated learning.

Focusing on six trading topics, workshop series will offer in-depth education, analysis and focus on hands-on and practical takeaways.

The first of the six series will be held this December 8th at the St. Ermin’s Hotel in Central London.

Workshop #1 - A Statistical Football Model in R lead by Luigi Colombo, the Head of the Quantitative Team at Smartodds.

Click here to Buy tickets to the one workshop, or for a reduced rate, pick up a series pass to all six workshops.