Saturday, 20 April 2019

End of season report


As always, I’ll begin the season review with the headline figures:

For the 2018-19 season (Nov 1st – Apr 6th) a total of 190 tips were issued across 162 races, with 155.25pts staked.

If you had managed to secure the price advised in the tips email, then you would have achieved a profit of 41.16pts (26.5% ROI).

The ROI is a little down on the 6 year average for the service - and is slightly boosted by BOG (the profit is 37.74pts without it).
However, there were many occasions when the advised price could be beaten at the time of issue - and the tips were all issued at a time when it should have been relatively easy to get on.

In short, I think the figure is a fair representation of what should have been achievable - and this is backed up by the fact that the figure for the season at BSP, is similar to that at advised prices.

If you had taken BSP, to advised stakes, on all of the tips, then before commission, you would have made a profit of 31.24pts (20.1% ROI).

Again, that number is a little lower than I would have hoped - and those who have been paying close attention will have a good idea of the main reason !
The spring festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, had a negative impact on the seasons profits - the former in particular.
So much so, that I think they warrant their own section in the report - which I will come to later..!

Tips Analysis

As I’ve said previously, I like to monitor how the tips perform in terms of finishing positions, as it helps give me a feel for whether they were particularly ‘lucky’ - or ‘unlucky’.
During the season, the following placings were achieved:

1st – 28
2nd – 16
3rd – 23
4th – 11

The suggestion from this is that the tips were lucky - but that obviously can’t be right, because TVB is never (OK - rarely) lucky !

Almost exactly 25% of the selections finished first or second, which is bang on my target.
Whilst just over 41% of selections finished in the first 4.
I’m not too worried about this number (because I tip very few horses EW) - but it is still close enough, to my target of 50%.

The other measure of ‘luck’ that I use, is how many of the tips that traded at 2.1 or less, subsequently went on to win the race.

This season, there were 46 horses traded at 2.1 or less (all of them actually traded at 2 or less).

28 of these won – 5 more than would have been expected with ‘average’ luck.

The suggestion again, is that the tips were ‘lucky’ during the season - or alternatively, that the in-running odds aren’t as accurate an indicator as they used to be…

I suspect it is a bit of both.
Certainly, I don’t think we experienced much bad luck - aside from some unfortunate falls/brought downs, in the final few weeks of the season.

In terms of the races that I tipped in: then 29 of the 190 tips were in races run in Ireland - and they yielded a slight loss (though there were 4 odds-on losers, as against 3 winners - so they were probably just a bit ‘unlucky’).

Of the remaining 161 tips: 85 were in class 1 races (over half) – with 47 in class 2; 24 in class 3 and 5 in class 4.

The tips in class 1 & 2 races, yielded a big profit (55pts) - whilst there were only 2 winning tips in class 3 races - which as a result, recorded a loss of nearly 14pts…

As with last season, very few tips, crashed in price.
That is simply a result of tipping in better class races - and only when the market has stabilised.

Just 2 tips across the entire season, halved in price (advised v BSP) - and neither of them won.
In fact, only 2 winning tips shortened in price by more than 40% (Beware the Bear and San Pedro de Senam); whilst 12 of the 28 winning tips (nearly half) had a BSP longer that the advised price.

The majority of the winning tips had a BSP within 20% of the advised price - which again is testament to tipping into relatively strong, stable markets.
This strongly suggests that the TVB edge is not based on price ‘ricks’…

One other point worth noting is that only 3 of the 28 winning tips had an advised price of greater than 10/1.
Considering 83 of the tips had an advised price of greater than 10/1, this is a bit concerning !
Backing tips with an advised price of greater that 10/1, resulted in a loss of 23.75pts - and it would have been worse, if it weren’t for the variable staking (most of the tips were just 0.5pt win).

I think the reason is that by the time I tip, most of the big priced horses which have a chance, have already been backed.
If they are still big prices at 9:00 on race day, it is generally for good reason !

Obviously this is a little disappointing, as historically, the TVB service has done well with big priced horses.
This season, virtually all of the profits were from horses in the price range 5/1-10/1.

Those shorter than 5/1 came out about level (I think the issue here, is that ‘luck’ starts to play a bigger part, percentage-wise).

For those who are interested, I’ll add a spreadsheet to the main website, detailing of all the season tips, in the next few days…

The evolution of the TVB subscriber profile

When TVB started in 2012, it was clearly a service for NH ‘enthusiasts’.

It was built around a comprehensive (and often entertaining !) write-up - and whilst there were ‘official tips’ - the main value of the service was in the write-up…

Certainly, back then, many of the guys on the service managed to secure bigger profits from selectively following the Mentions - and interpreting the write-ups - than they did from following the tips.

In part, that was because I didn’t worry too much about which races I tipped in - or when I issued the tips (so the profits from the official tips, weren’t always easy to achieve).

Obviously the tip results provide the headline for the service.
They are the only true measurable - and can also be compared with other services.

The tips results have always been good - and over time, that has caught the attention of a second group of followers - the ‘investors’.

In the early days, I wasn’t keen on letting Investors on to the service - because so much of the service value was in the write-up (which requires time and an interest in the racing, in order to unlock).
However, I’ve relented a little with this, over the past couple of years - as the change of service scope (to focus on big races), has meant that results from the official tips are now much more scaleable, than they were in the past.

This season saw me increase my subscriber base by over 50% - with a number of the new guys ‘investors’, rather than ‘enthusiasts’.

This probably caused one or two issues with price crashes during the first few weeks of the season, but I took some actions just after Christmas and my feeling is that the same issues didn’t occur during the second half of the season (you will have the opportunity to confirm/deny this, in the survey !)

As the write-ups/Mentions etc. haven’t changed much since the early days, the service is now in a position where it supports 2 groups of subscribers: ‘enthusiasts’ and ‘investors’ - and they sit side by side, feeding off the same analysis.

The occasional compromise is necessary: for example, with regard to tip timings (I need sufficient time to produce the write-up) - but generally, I don’t believe that the blend has resulted in many issues.

Obviously, as an enthusiast myself, I’m hoping that I will be able to convert some of the investors (not least because I think the enthusiasts make more from the service !) - but whereas I was once committed to an enthusiasts only service, that’s not now the case…

I’m sure that each of you know which camp you primarily sit in (it’s not really an ‘either/or’ thing) - but I thought it worth me explaining how I view things, as it might help you better understand certain actions that I take.

Generally speaking, the more subscribers I have on the service, the easier it is for me to justify putting in the required time and effort - and the less I need to charge.

This should obviously benefit everyone - provided that non of the key aspects of the service, are negatively affected…

The spring festivals - in particular, Cheltenham

A couple of seasons ago, I made the decision to stop tipping in minor midweek races because I didn’t think it could be done profitably - and I now think the same is true for the Cheltenham festival…

The problem with Cheltenham, is that it has become too dominant.

Most of the best horses are targeted specifically at the meeting (many of them, sacrificing the rest of their season) - and even the biggest trainers now target horses at the handicaps.

All of the races are also picked over and analysed, to such an extent, that the markets are incredibly accurate.
With the bookmakers over-rounds, that makes it nearly impossible to find a profitable angle…

Many of the races have become too simple to assess - and the markets accurately reflect the likely results.

This season, just 11 of the 28 races were won by horses at double figure prices.
When you consider that most of the races have 20+ runners, that tells a tale.

To an extent, it’s understandable with the conditions races (the best horses can be expected to win, most often) - but it’s also becoming the case with the handicaps.

Of the 10 handicaps runs at the meeting, 6 were won by horses at 6/1 or less.
When 20+ runners go to post, that’s always going to make things hard for a ‘value bettor’ !

Furthermore, one of the winners was a totally unconsidered 66/1 chance - meaning that effectively only 3 of 10 handicaps, could have been solved in the manner that I would use to solve similar races during in the season (ie. ‘value’ selections)

In the circumstances, it is maybe not surprising that the TVB tips recorded a near 8pt loss on 17pts staked at the meeting.

In fact, if you took the Cheltenham festival out of the seasons results, it would leave a profit of 48.91pts on 136.25pt staked (ROI 36%): BSP profit of 39.69 pts (ROI 29%) - which is more in line with results from previous seasons (when Cheltenham didn’t have such a negative impact).

Ofcourse, if I felt this season was just a one off, then I wouldn’t be inclined to take any action - however, I feel it is a trend that has been developing for at least 5 seasons, so I feel that action should to be taken…

With regard to Aintree, then whilst there are similarities - and I think things moving in the same direction (there were some very well backed winners) - then unlike the markets for the Cheltenham races, most of the Aintree markets only exist for a day or 2 (so aren’t as accurate) and there also isn’t quite the same prestige for the races (so they aren’t targeted to quite the same degree)...

That said, the TVB tips also recorded a loss at Aintree (3pts on 10pts staked) - and if you take both festivals out of the seasons figures it leaves a profit of 52.16pt on 126pts staked (ROI 41.39%): BSP profit of 44.94pts (ROI 35.6%).

Obviously, Cheltenham holds significant appeal for the enthusiasts - but as an investment vehicle, I really don’t think it works any more.
Consequently, I will be looking to handle it differently, next season…

Conclusions and next season

Last season, when I reached this point, I didn’t have a lot to say !
And whilst I’ve got a couple of ideas which will hopefully improve things a little for next season - I think that service remains, very close to where I want it to be.

In a way, that’s not too surprising, after 7 successful seasons.
I’ve tweaked plenty of things along the way - but the base product is now well established.

In terms of the changes that I think should be made:

The first of them, is covered in the previous section - I don’t think that I should offer official tips for the Cheltenham festival.

That’s not to say that I shouldn’t offer views on the races - in fact, I would intend to cover the races more extensively than I currently do !
However, my thoughts will be offered in the form of ‘opinions’ designed for the enthusiasts - as opposed to tips, for the investors.

Specifically, I plan to cover more of the Cheltenham races in an ante-post section in the forum.
Realistically, it won’t be possible for everyone to back selections that I put up ante-post (the markets aren’t sufficiently strong).
But some people will be able to (those with conventional bookmaker accounts) - and hopefully people will generally find them of interest.

I would also intend to preview the races during Cheltenham week - but more as I currently preview races on the midweek blog.
There will be ‘selections’ - but no official tips.

The only other change I plan to make for next season, is that I intend to tip less long priced horses.
To an extent, this is a note to myself - but I do think it is getting too hard to make outsiders pay (certainly, in the races/at the times that I issue the tips).

Aside from that, the plan would be for things will stay broadly the same.

I’m happy with most of the tips I issued during the season; I’m also happy with the content of the write-ups - and the timings of both its issue and that of the tips.
I might make a few changes to the midweek blog - but I think it serves its purpose - in a low key way !
And whilst I would like to see more activity in the forum - that’s largely out of my control.

In short, I’m content that most aspects of the service are roughly where I want them to be…

I think that just about covers everything - apart from the obligatory thanks, to those who help make the service what it is.

Chief amongst the supporting cast - as I’m sure you are all aware - is Chris.
Not only does he drive the forum, via his ‘System bets’ and ‘Sprinters’ - he also provides me with extensive trainer data, which helps enormously with the selection process for the tips.
It’s fair to say, that TVB wouldn’t be the same service without Chris’ input - and his efforts are greatly appreciated (and I know that’s not just by me).

Others worthy of special mention, are Francis and Neil - both of whom input to Chris’ system bet thread.
Also, Dave, who again ran the December Naps competition, and provides behind the scenes support: Craig, who has established a successful Syndicate betting thread - which I’m sure will continue to grow, next season; and Clinton, who set up a Bookmakers thread, which I know a number of you have found very valuable.

Thanks to each of you, for giving something back to TVB

Anyway, I think that’s just about covers everything.
The satisfaction survey will be with you soon - but aside from that, you won’t hear from me again until the beginning of October, when I’ll be back in touch with the plans for the 2019-20 season  !

Best wishes to everyone - I hope you all have a great summer !


Sunday, 7 April 2019

Review of the day

There was no joy with the final days tips - which was a bit disappointing, as I quite fancied a couple of them !

I don’t want to make excuses, but I was again taken aback by the state of the ground at Aintree.
They were running close to course records today - which considering it was borderline heavy, less than 48 hours ago, almost beggars belief.

Certainly I don’t think the quick ground helped at least a couple of the tips - though I guess there’s the chance that they may not have been good enough, regardless !

Burbank was the first one to run - and I suspect he would have fared better on slower ground.
Certainly that was the suggestion from the way he stayed on powerfully into fourth place.

I said this morning that I thought the betting would foretell his fate - so my expectations were suitably low when I saw him returned with a BSP of over 50 !

In the circumstances, he ran better than I expected - though in truth, he never looked like winning…

Kateson was probably my strongest tip on the day - but he definitely would have preferred softer ground.

He was never travelling as well as I would have liked - and whilst he was still in with a chance jumping the second last, he was then quickly beaten.

I’m sure he is better than he looked today (the fact Brewinupastorm finished second, supports that statement) - but it’s likely to be next winter before he can show it.

Clondaw Castle was the next tip to run - and I don’t think the ground was the issue for him.

A bit like Topofthegame yesterday, it just looked to me as if his Cheltenham exertions had taken the edge off him.

As I said on the opening day, that’s always a possibility at Aintree - though unfortunately, you don't know whether it’s the case, until it’s too late.

Again, I’m sure he’ll bounce back in the fullness of time and show himself better than he appeared today.

In terms of how they ran, then On Tour probably did the best of the days tips.

He travelled strongly through the race - and was brought to deliver his challenge at the second last.

However, it was soon apparent that he had nothing left in reserve - and he was quickly beaten.

The race was fought out by 2 of the younger, progressive horses - which I knew was always a possibility - but so did the market...

It was the Grand National next - and both of the tips performed with credit.

Pleasant Company was still within a length of the lead, when he made a bad mistake and unshipped Paul Townend at the fourth last; and whilst Dounikos still appeared to be in with a chance at that point, he then weakened alarmingly, and was pulled up before the second last.

In truth, even if they had got round, I doubt they would have troubled Tiger Roll, who put in another mighty performance.
He really is a bit of an equine freak !

Kilbricken Strom was the only Mention on the day - and he almost certainly under-performed because of the quick ground.

I suspect that was also the case for Apples Jade.
Superficially, she may have appeared to run well in finishing a close third, to If the Cap Fits - but I suspect she ran about a stone below her best…

So that’s it for the 2018-19 TVB season ! 

As I said this morning, I’ll aim to get out an end of season report, at some point in the next fortnight - along with a feedback survey.

As always, it’s been an enjoyable few months for me - even if there has been the occasional stressful day along the way !

Thanks to you all for your support throughout the season: I hope you’ve also found it enjoyable - and profitable !

I also hope that the majority of you will want to return in the autumn, when I kick off the 2019-20 season !

Best wishes to you all for the summer ahead !


Daily write-up - Apr 6th (Aintree Day 3)

Day 3 of the Aintree Grand National meeting - Grand National day !

It’s also the final day of the 2018-19 TVB season.

In a way, I can’t believe how fast the season has passed: yet at the same time, it seems an absolute age, since Out Sam provided the first winning tip of the season.

It’s the seventh season I’ve completed - and I will look back on it as a good one.

It’s not had the same highs as many of the previous seasons - but it’s not had many lows, either.
I’ve kept tight control of the P&L throughout - something I hope you guys appreciate !

Anyway, I’ll summarise all my thoughts - along with the figures - in an end of season report,which I’ll look to produce in the next couple of weeks.
I also plan to create another survey - so I can get feedback from all of you on how you think things have gone.
The previous surveys have helped shape the service, so hopefully you can each find a few minutes to complete it…

Anyway, that’s in the future - first we’ve got today to enjoy !

Unbelievably, after Thursdays deluge, they have apparently selectively watered parts of the Grand Notational course !
How it will ride, is anyones guess...

As has been the case for the past 2 days, I’ve not gone mad with the tips.
As I keep on saying, with the racing so competitive - and the markets so accurate - I’m disinclined to force things.

Ultimately, I’ve ended up with 6 on the day - across 5 races.

For the final time this season, here is the rationale behind them - along with my thoughts on the other races…



I had originally planned to swerve this race.
The 3 big field handicaps that took place on the first 2 days of the meeting, were all won by horses which were backed off the boards, close to the off.
Non of them had form that warranted such punts - unless you were in the know !
This is a similar race - and that trend makes me feel a little uncomfortable about getting involved with it !
However, I just couldn’t resist a small play on Burbank…
In truth, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were very well backed - certainly, I suspect the market will advise on our fate before the race is run !
He’s a horse who has not seen much action over the past 2 seasons.
He ran really well to finish seventh in last seasons Coral Cup - and again, ran better than his finishing position suggests, in this season Coral cup.
Aside from that, he’s only been seen twice: once last spring - and then in a novice chase this January.
Consequently, it’s not easy to get a handle on him - but his Cheltenham runs show that he has plenty of ability.
In fact, two seasons back, he ran fourth in the Grade 1 Ballymore novice hurdle at festival - and on that form, he is thrown in today off a mark of just 138.
In fairness, his mark doesn’t look bad, based on his Coral cup runs. He was 5lb higher when he ran in the race last season - and 3lb higher this time round.
However, that’s not the big attraction with him…
The big attraction is his connections.
Firstly, he is trained by Nicky Henderson - who has an excellent record at the Grand National meeting; but more importantly, he is owned by Trevor Hemmings, who bought the horse last spring.
Hemmings has always been a huge supporter of Aintree - and I have little doubt that Burbank will have been primed to run at this meeting.
With that in mind, his run in the Coral cup looks even better - as it was probably just a prep race for this !
The fitting of first time blinkers certainly suggests intent - and whilst that is not something I generally like to see when a horse is being stepped up in distance (which is the case here), I’m prepared to make an exception in this instance.
In short, we have a potentially well handicapped horse: who is still in his prime; trained by a master trainer - and targeted at a race.
At 20/1, it would be rude not to at least have a small investment !
In terms of dangers, then needless to say, there are plenty !
It’s not hard to understand the appeal of Cheltenham winner, Sire du Berlais, with Jonjo O’Neil Jnr taking over in the saddle.
However, even if you ignore his allowance, the horse is 5lb higher than at Cheltenham - and had a very hard race there.
He’s easy enough to pass, at 4/1.
Of the others, the Aux Ptits Soin is of some interest - even though he probably has little in hand of his mark.
Coolanly may be better handicapped; whilst Flemcara was my original main fancy for the race.
He was impressive when winning at Exeter (and holds Poker Play on that run) - and can be excused a poor effort at Cheltenham (where a few things went wrong).
He could be worth a small unofficial saver…


I’m quite keen on Kateson in this - and I don’t really understand why he’s such a big price…
I say that - but I kind of do…!
He ran disappointingly last time - and a poor recent performance tends to have more of an effect on prices than it should.
Of course we have to be able forgive a poor run - but in this instance I don’t find that difficult to do, as Kateson was being stepped up in trip and raced too keenly.
He’s back down in distance today - and whilst I would have fancied him even more if the rain had continued to fall, I’m reasonably confident he will get away with good to soft ground.
That is how it was riding when he ran Champ close at Newbury in December.
The form of that run was advertised by the winner yesterday - and the bizarre thing is that Kateson finished a length ahead of Brewinupastorm in that race.
There is no reason why that form should be reverse today - yet Brewinupastorm is 3/1 fav for todays race.
That’s because he subsequently ran a fine fourth at Cheltenham - but to my mind, the fact he had a hard race 3 weeks ago, is a negative to his chances - not a positive !
If the 2 horses were the same price this afternoon, I’d want to be with Kateson - so at more than 3 times the odds, it’s a no brainer !
Of the others, then I am most fearful of Angels Breath - though that is more on potential/reputation than on anything he’s achieved on the course.
Chosen Mate is not easy to get a handle on - and he’s the other one who would concern me…
All of the remaining runners will need to step up, if they are to trouble Kateson.
Make no mistake, he’s a very good bet - in fact, I suspect I should have staked him more aggressively…
Let’s hope I live to regret that :)


The key to this race, is this seasons Arkle chase, at Cheltenham.
The top 5 in the betting all ran in that race - with Us and Them, coming out best of the quintet.
He finished second - and whilst he would never have won, he might have finished a little closer to the winner, if he’d not belted the very first fence.
That said, it was down to his stamina that he did manage to finish second - so the quicker Aintree track is unlikely to help his cause.
Clondaw Castle finished 5 lengths behind Us and Them, in fourth place - but that doesn’t tell the story.
Rounding the home turn, he had kicked clear with eventual winner, Duc des Genievres - and the race looked to concern the pair.
From that point, Duc Des Genievres powered clear - but there was little doubt regarding which was the second best horse in the race.
At least of those that finished !
The trouble with the Arkle, was that it was a messy race.
Glen Forsa was an early faller - and Kalashnikov was brought down by the fall of Ornua.
With Lalor seemingly having an off day - it is possible to question the strength of the form.
That said, the winner looked very good - and Clondaw Castle gave him a good race.

Ofcourse, there is no way of knowing how Ornua would have fared if he had stood up - and he could be a danger today.
As could Lalor - provided you are prepared to ignore his run.
His form at Aintree is excellent - so if he does bounce back, he could be hard to beat.
However, there are ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ with them both - and that’s not the case with Clondaw Castle.
The other issue for Ornua, is that he likes to lead - and that’s also true for Knocknanuss.
They did each other no favours in the Arkle - and that could easily be the case again this afternoon.
Destrier and Caid du Lin are the only runners in todays race who didn’t compete in the Arkle.
I couldn’t completely discount either - but I suspect they won’t quite good enough.


If Apples Jade is back to anywhere near her best, she will win this - and win it easily.
This is not a strong race - and Apples Jade is a top class mare.
At her peak, I would strongly fancy her to beat this field off level weights - in receipt of 7lb, she would be something of a certainty !
She ran a lamentable race last time in the Champion hurdle.
She was sent off favourite that day - but was never travelling.
Apparently she scoped dirty after the race - and if she simply had a bug - and it’s now cleared up, then all should be good.
It’s a worry though.
She lost her form last spring - and the fear is the same thing might be happening this year.
Certainly it’s hard to back her at 6/4 - even though I wouldn’t want to oppose her…
What I really want to do, is tip Kilbricken Storm without Apples Jade in the race - but I’m not prepared to do that - officially speaking, anyway !
I pride myself on the fact that it should be possible for all of my subscribers to follow every tip I issue - if they wish.
And betting w/o the favourite is not a bet that you all could place.
However, that’s why I produce a write-up - so I can explain situations like this - and let each of you make up your own mind on whether you get involved.
In terms of the case for him: then as I said, this is not a strong race.
Sam Spinner sets the standard for the remainder - and well as he ran at Cheltenham, I’d be more than happy to take him on.
Kilbricken Storm also ran in that race - and shaped really well until the home turn.
Apparently he had been held up in his work prior to the race, so I suspect he will have come on for it.
If he has, then he should be right in the mix this afternoon.
Again, first time blinkers is an interesting move - and whilst I would have preferred softer ground for him, I think he will get away with it.
Nothing else really appeals of the others - so if Kilbricken Castle can run to the level I think, then I suspect he will go very close indeed.


I tipped On Tour in the corresponding race 12 months ago - and I can’t resist getting involved with him again today.
He was unlucky to bump into a progressive young horse at the top of his game, last year - and whilst there is a chance the same thing could happen again today, it’s a risk I’m prepared to take !
Certainly, it looks to me as if On Tour has been targeted at this race.
He’s a horse who runs best fresh, so it’s a positive that he’s not been seen for 70 days.
That was when disappointing in the Skybet chase at Doncaster - but as a result of that, his mark was dropped 3lb.
That means that he runs today off a mark of 130 - 7lb lower than 12 months ago.
In fairness, he is now 11 - so possibly in decline (and certainly not improving !).
However, it’s definitely a mark he can do damage off - so the handicapper better hope he’s not writing him off prematurely !
The thing about On Tour, is that he has an incredible record at Aintree (on the Mildmay course).
His 3 visits have resulted in his 3 best career performances: in addition to last years second placing, he has also beaten Master Dee and finished second to Thomas Brown.
For whatever reason, he seems to love the place - and if he runs to the same level this afternoon, then he is going to go very close…
That said, this is potentially a very strong contest.
3 progressive novices head the betting in the shape of Kildisart, Debece and Mister Malarky.
All have already shown very strong form - and have the potential to improve further. They won’t be easy to beat.
That said, Kildisart and Mister Malarky have both had busy seasons - and ran in tough races at Cheltenham, so may not be at their peak.
Consequently, Debece is possibly the one to beat - and he also looks to have been aimed at this race.
Maybe his younger legs will be too much for On Tour - or maybe his inexperience will catch him out !
Only time will tell !


I don’t plan to write much about the Grand National - because I’m sure you can all read plenty about it, if you so wish !
Suffice to say, Tiger Roll will take a lot of beating - and whilst 9/2 is too short for any horse in the Grand National, it’s an understandable price.
Rathvinden is a worthy second favourite - but again, at price of 8/1 leaves no margin for error - particularly as he’ll have to beat Tiger Roll !
If either of those 2 win, I think we have to just shrug out shoulders.
In truth, I was half tempted to leave the race alone from a tipping perspective.
I’m sure you’ve all got your own ideas on who will win the race - so you don’t really need me to offering an opinion.
That said, I do think there are a couple in the race who offer genuine value - and I’ve therefore decide to get involved despite it being the Grand National - not because of it !
The first is Pleasant Company.
He finished second in the race last year - and in another couple of strides, would have won.
He meets Tiger Roll on 2lb better terms this time - so on the book, he should beat him.
He’s only run twice since last year - and shown nothing - but that is of no concern !
Today is clearly the day for him - and the way Willie Mullins horses have run this week, he simply has to be backed at 20/1.
The other one is Dounikos…
He is in danger of becoming the most tipped TVB horse ever - but I’m sticking with him !
The thing is, I suspect he’s a top class horse (graded level).
Certainly, his run at last years Dublin festival, when an unlucky 4th to Monalee, Al Boom Photo and Invitation Only suggests he could be top class.
Al Boom Photo obviously went on to win this years Gold Cup, whilst Monalee is now rated 163 - and the ill fated Invitation Only, was rated 161.
off 154 today, Dounikos could easily have 10lb in hand of his mark.
He showed last time,when wining the Irish Natiional trial at Punchestown that extreme trips are no issue - and he also showed that he was back in form.
Gordon Elliott runs 13 in todays race - so it strikes me as significant that stable jockey Jack Kennedy rides this one.
A 33/1 shot - I don’t think so !
As for the rest of the runners in the race - well, I’ll let other people make the case for them :)


I quite like the look of Scheu Time in this - but unfortunately, so does everyone else !
As with Call it Magic yesterday, the case for him is a little bit too obvious…
He would have won the corresponding race last year, if not falling at the last - and off the same mark today, with Jonjo Jnr in the saddle, he is going to take a bit of beating.
The trouble is, he’s shown very little in the interim - and a price of 4/1 in a 22 runner race, leaves no margin for error (in fact, it is too short !).
That said, I’m not sure what I would oppose him with.
Flashing Glance is probably the most interesting one: though I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of Venetias going very close (she runs Pink Legend and Subcontinent).
In truth, this is a race where I suspect the market will tell the tale - and consequently I don’t want to get involved.
If you’ve got any energy left after the Grand National, I suggest you watch the market and back the horse which halves in price in the final 5 mins before the off !

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Aint 1:45 Burbank 0.5pt win 20/1
Aint 2:25 Kateson 1pt win 10/1
Aint 3:00 Clondaw Castle 1pt win 5/1
Aint 4:20 On Tour 0.5pt win 14/1
Aint 5:15 Pleasant Company 0.5pt win 20/1
Aint 5:15 Dounikos 0.5pt win 28/1


Aint 3:40 Kilbricken Storm (w/o Apples Jade)

Review of the day

I was shocked to see how quickly the ground had dried out at Aintree, this afternoon.

After yesterdays rain, I was expecting it to be at least soft - maybe edging towards heavy: but instead, it was more good to soft…

In truth, that probably helped Felix Desjy - as I did have a slight concern about him handling very testing conditions.

However, as it transpired, it wasn’t the ground that nearly found out - but his jumping !

He’s a very free going horse - and I was pleased to see Jack Kennedy able to get an uncontested lead on him.
However, I was less pleased to see him get the fourth hurdle completely wrong.

A shuddering mistake saw him lose ground and momentum - so it says much for his ability that he was able to maintain his lead, and get back into a rhythm.

From that point on, it was about Kennedy getting his fractions right and Felix not messing up his jumping ! - and fortunately, both delivered.

It briefly looked, after jumping the last, that Aramon might run him down.
But Felix doesn’t lack for stamina - or heart - and he saw it out strongly…

Things hadn’t gone quite so well in the opening race on the card.
I’d narrowed it down to 5 - but only one of the 5 managed to even get placed !

That said, if I’d been aware of the gamble that was going to take place on Three Musketeers, I would have increased my short list to 6 !

Making his debut for Gordon Elliot, he was an easy to back 16/1 shot for most of the day - but was hammered in to 8/1, just before the off.

Ultimately, he only just got home, under a power packed Kennedy drive - but he did get home.
Mont des Avaloirs on the other hand, never featured and was pulled up…

The only other tips on the day, ran in the Topham - and once again, the race was won by a horse who was punted as if defeat was out of the question.

I had tipped Call It Magic - and he was incredibly strong in the early market - but in the key minutes before the off, his price began to drift…

By contrast, Cadmium, who was a weak 20/1 shot all morning, came in for massive support - and was eventually sent off at just 8/1.

He led throughout, jumping for fun - and whilst Call it Magic was just in behind him in second place when unshipping his jockey at the canal turn, I don’t honestly think it made any difference to the result.

I’ve said before: whilst they may be the biggest races, run at the biggest meetings - when the top stables really go for one, the result tends to be the same as when Gary Moore lines one up on a wet Monday at Plumpton !

Ballyhill was the second tip in the race.
However, he was also weak in the late betting - and seemed to struggle with the big fences…

As for the Mentions:
Then Topofthegame ran like a horse who hadn’t fully recovered from his Cheltenham exertions.
He’d looked brilliant in the RSA, but he looked laboured this afternoon.
I’m sure he’ll bounce back next season.

In the following race, Waiting Patently ran like a horse who is never going to reach the levels he once looked capable of.
He finished just behind Politologue - suggesting that he has probably regressed.
However, it was kind of irrelevant as Min blew them both away, winning by 20 lengths in a manner similar to that of stablemate Kemboy, yesterday.
With Cadmium almost as impressive, I’m wondering if Willie Mullins has discovered some new ‘wonder feed’ !

I was dead against Champ in the 3 mile novice hurdle: but the drying ground and steady pace meant that it wasn’t quite the stamina test I expected.
He clearly possesses plenty of class, and he cruised through the race - and won as he liked.
Walk Away ran a really good race to finish fourth - but it was still a wise move not to tip him.

Finally, the 3 horses I mentioned in the bumper, filled the first 3 places.
It did briefly look as if Thebannerkingrebel was going to pull off a mini shock - but McFabulous outbattled him in the final furlong - with Santa Rossa back in third…

Just one day of the season to go…


Daily write-up - Apr 5th (Aintree Day 2)

Day 2 of the Aintree Grand National meeting.

The rain yesterday afternoon, turned the ground to soft - and whilst the weather should be much better today, I suspect the ground won’t be !

At least we have a better idea of what we will be facing - even if it’s not what we would have liked !

As I said in the review, yesterday was a frustrating day.

The polarisation of the markets at these big meetings, is getting ridiculous.

I’ve no idea how Road to Rome could be sent off at 11/4 in a 27 runner race over the National fences; or indeed how Minella Melody could be sent of at 6/4 in 20 runner bumper, packed full of unexposed and potentially useful sorts.

Ofcourse, neither horse won, which suggests there should have been value elsewhere in the markets - but I’m not sure that was the case…

The prices of the other runners who had decent chances, were all pretty accurate (so minimal margin) - it’s the speculative ones who are available at ‘value’ prices…

That’s all well and good if you are in it for the long haul, because every now and then a horse will win at 100/1, when it should have been 33/1 - but it’s not really a game we can easily play.

That makes it hard to control the P&L in the way that I’ve done through the early part of the season.

As I said after Cheltenham, I need to think how best to handle these big festivals.
Reducing stakes helps - but I’m not sure it is the full answer.

Anyway, that’s for another day.

For today, we’ve got an excellent set of races - even if betting opportunities aren’t quite so good !

That said, I’ve still managed to find 4 tips, across 3 races.

Here’s the rationale behind them - along with my thoughts on the days other races…



Thee may be 22 runners in this, but I’ll be quite surprised if the winner doesn’t come from the top 5 in the betting…
Having opened up at 10/1 yesterday, Tedham has been very well backed and is now a short priced favourite.
The case for him is strong: he’s a young improving horse, who was an impressive winner of a decent handicap last time - and has only been raised 6lb for that win.
It’s not hard to envisage him following up in this - though I’m a little surprised that Jonjo O’Neil Jnr hasn’t been given the ride, to offset the weight rise. Maybe connections feel he has more than enough, in hand of his mark !
He’s the most likely winner of the race - but 7/2 is a woefully short price…
Second favourite is Brio Conti - and there is a chance that he will become the third horse to win at Aintree, that I tipped it at Cheltenham !
Certainly, he ran a huge race at Cheltenham - and the flatter Aintree track should suit him better.
However, he has been raised 2lb for that run; probably had a hard race - and may not be suited by the softening ground.
He clearly has a big chance - but 6/1 is too short to warrant getting involved.
Carnadier finished just behind Brio Conti at Cheltenham - and there should be little between the pair again today. However, he’s another who would prefer quicker ground.
It’s hard to know what ground Esprit Du Large would prefer, as he’s only run 4 times in his life.
However, he’s shown a good level of form - and was entered for the grade 1 novice hurdle, on tomorrows card.
His opening mark of 132 looks reasonable - but I expect the betting will prove an accurate guide on his chance… 
The final one of the ‘big 5’ is Mont Des Avaloirs…
Like Brio Conti, he is trained by Paul Nicholls and he ran really well at Newbury in November, when a fast finishing third in the Gerry Fieldon hurdle.
He was arguably unlucky not to win that day - and gets to run today, off exactly the same mark. That’s because he has disappointed on his 2 subsequent runs - but stepped up in trip this afternoon, I expect him to do much better…
Unlike his stablemate, he should relish the underfoot conditions - and Lorcan Williams takes off a useful 5lb.
At 12/1, he looks the value bet, amongst the fancied horses…
Away from the head of the market, I could give half chances to Wait for Me, Joke Dancer and Doctor Dex - but as I said in the introduction, chasing theoretical value at the big festivals, is a high risk strategy !


I’m quite keen on Felix Desjy in this.
His most recent run was in the Supreme hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, and turning in, it looked as if he was going to give Klassical Dream a real race.
However, his petrol gauge began to flicker ‘empty’, on the run to the final flight - and he was passed by Itchy Feet (plus a couple of others) on the run in.
He eventually finished fifth - just in front of Aramon - but I think there is an argument that he was the second best horse in the race…
Certainly, I’m optimistic that Aintrees flatter track will enable him to reverse the form with Itchy Feet - whilst I can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t again beat Aramon.
That said, this is not a 3 horse race !
The other 4 runners can all be given a chance - though it’s not easy to accurately assess their respective ability.
On official ratings, Southfield Stone is the best of them - but lines through Grand Sancy and Angels Breath, suggest he shouldn’t beat Felix.
Similarly collateral form lines suggest that Rouge Vif shouldn’t be quite good enough - though I do think he will appreciate todays track.
As a consequence, Precious Cargo and Winston C could emerge as the biggest dangers - certainly, they are the hardest ones to dismiss.
However Precious Cargo is plenty short enough in the betting at 7/2, on the back of a couple of wins in novice hurdles: Whilst Winston C only just won a handicap last time off a mark of 137 - and he’ll need to show significant improvement (which he may well do), if he’s going to get involved this afternoon.


All things being equal, Topofthegame should take a world of beating in this…
He was an impressive winner of a red hot running of the RSA chase at Cheltenham, last time - and based on that form, he is the best horse in this race by some margin.
He stepped up to reach that level, but even on the form of his previous second to La Bague au Roi in the Feltham chase at Kempton, he is still the one to beat.
In fairness, that form doesn’t give him much in hand of Lostintranslation - and there is a chance that the latter will improve for todays step up in trip - but he will need to !
Furthermore, Lostintranslation himself, is a fair way ahead of the other runners (10lb+, on official figures) - so this race appears a bit too straightforward, to warrant getting involved with…
The only caveats are: if his efforts at Cheltenham have taken the edge off Topofthegame (and Lostintranslation); or if the ground has turned really soft.
Heavy ground could certainly open things up.
I would expect Topofthegame to handle it - but I wouldn’t be so sure about Lostintranslation.
It would also greatly improve the chances of Chris’s Dream and Top Ville Ben - both of whom are real mud lovers.
However, as things stand this morning, I don’t expect the ground to be heavy (just soft) - and I’ve no reason for thinking that Topofthegame won’t run his race (or indeed Lostintranslation).
In the circumstances, it has to be a watching race…


This is another race where it’s hard to see an angle…
Politologue and Min fought out a tight finish to the corresponding race 12 months ago - and both look likely to run well again this afternoon.
That said, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they were eclipsed by Waiting Patiently…
He’s met Politologue twice previously - and come out on top on both occasions.
He’s also likely to be better suited by todays conditions (2m4f and soft ground).
The trouble is, he didn’t look entirely committed last time - and the application of first time cheek pieces, is a worrying development…
I still think he is the most likely winner - but you don’t want too many doubts if you are backing a 2/1 shot.
It’s hard to make a much of a case for the other 4 runners:
Top Notch looks best of them - but he has regularly shown himself to be a few pounds shy of this level:
Hells Kitchen is not as exposed - and has been a big improver this season. However, he seemed to have his limitations exposed last time, when finishing fourth in the Champion chase (well adrift of Politologue).
He could improve again, for todays step up in trip - but he will need to.
Gods Own is an admirable horse: but he’s better going right handed; would prefer quicker ground - and is also past his peak ! Whilst Woodlands Opera shouldn't be good enough - and would prefer quicker ground…
In summary, Waiting Patiently should win this - provided he performs to his best.
Whether he represents any value at 2/1 however, is a different matter…


It’s always disappointing when you really fancy a horse, only to find out that everyone else does as well !
I’ve had Call it Magic on my radar since the 5 day declarations for this race were released - I was just trying to pick my moment to tip him.
As you all know, I won’t tip in to immature markets, because I realise that many of you won’t be able to get on (and those who can, will be risking account restrictions).
I therefore patiently waited until there was proper liquidity on the exchanges (over £1K to back on BF) before I tipped him.
Unfortunately, by that point, literally every industry tipster I’d seen output from, had also tipped him ! (most aren’t quite so bothered about when they issue the tips !)
As a result his price was under serious pressure - though hopefully you all managed to at least secure 8/1 (10/1 minus a 20% margin).
In terms of the case for him, then it is quite blatant (which is why he’s so popular !).
He was a massive eye catcher over todays course, when finishing fourth in the Becher chase, back in November.
He tanked through the race that day, jumping from fences to fence - and turning for home, it simply appeared a question of how far he would win by.
However, his stamina gave out - and he weakened on the run in.
Todays race is over 5 furlongs less - so stamina won’t be an issue ! In fact, he is more likely to lack tactical speed !
Hopefully that won’t be case. Certainly he ran well enough on his only subsequent outing, when second at Fairyhouse - and that was over a trip just 2 furlongs further than today.
If he does get into the same rhythm that he got into in November, then there is no doubt that he is going to be very hard to beat…
That said, with 27 runners over the National fences, there's a fair chance that luck will play a part.
Therefore I think it is worth having a second string to the bow…
Ballyhill has never run over the National fences - though he has won over the Mildmay course.
That was in December - and he won really impressively.
He came up short on his next outing - but subsequent events showed that his third place to Siruh du Lac and Janika, was top class handicap form, as the pair went on to fight out the finish to the Plate at the festival.
Janika re-opposes Ballyhill this afternoon - but his subsequent exploits mean he is a stone worse off at the weights.
Janika is also a relatively small horse, so having to lug round 11st12lb this afternoon, is likely to prove a real challenge for him.
In short, I expect Ballyhill to come out best of the pair…
Outside the 3 mentioned, there are plenty who can be given half chances - but non who stick out.
Adrien du Pont, Activial, Flying Angel and Henryville are all capable of putting in big runs.
That said, I’m happy enough to side with Call it Magic and Ballyhill.


I did intend to get involved with this race, simply because I think that Champ should be taken on…
I felt the same about him at Cheltenham - and whilst I was ultimately proven right, he ran much better than I expected, when finishing second in the Ballymore.
Based on that form, he has a favourites chance this afternoon - however, I can’t see him appreciating todays step up in trip, on rain softened ground.
He’s a very keen going horse - and I’ll be most surprised, if his stamina lasts out…
The trouble is, even with him out of consideration, this looks like a particularly hot contest.
Dallas des Pictons probably sets the standard - even though he is stepping up from handicap company.
However, I’ll be a little surprised if there aren’t one or two better than him…
Emitom is the obvious one - and he would certainly hold plenty of appeal, if his defeat of Lisnagar Oscar could be taken at face value.
That said, Downtown Getaway, Walk Away, Trevelyns Corn and Ardlethen, are 4 others who have shown themselves decidedly useful - and also have limitless potential.
Whist even a few of the rank outsides, couldn’t be dismissed with total confidence…
My plan had been to tip Walk Away - as it strikes me, potentially significant, that Henry de Bromhead is prepared to pitch a once raced horse into a contest of this quality.
I certainly feel that he is a particularly interesting runner - however, I’m just not convinced that he should be a tip.
In a race where most of the runners have a chance - and the winner is likely to show significantly improved form - I think a watching brief is the best policy…


This is not a race on which I have a particularly strong view (even less so than the mares bumper, yesterday).
That said, I was very taken by the win of Santa Rossa at the Dublin racing festival - and with Finnie Maguire over to take the ride, I would be unlikely to look too much further, if I did play in the race.
Certainly, I prefer him to the other market leader, McFabulous - accepting that he may just have had an off day, when disappointing badly at Cheltenham in November.
Of those at bigger prices, Thebannerkingrebel makes most appeal.
He’s not run since being pulled up in last seasons Champion bumper at the Cheltenham festival.
However, he was unbeaten in his 2 runs prior to that - so clearly has plenty of ability.
A recent wind op hints at the cause of his issues - and if that procedure has sorted him out, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a very big race.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Aint 1:45 Mont Des Avaloirs 0.5pt win 12/1
Aint 2:20 Felix Desjy 1pt win 6/1
Aint 4:05 Call it Magic 1pt win 10/1
Aint 4:05 Ballyhill 0.5pt win 11/1


2:50 Topofthegame (P )
3:25 Waiting Patiently (P )
4:40 Walk Away (S )
5:15 Santa Rossa (S )

Review of the day

Today ended up a very frustrating day: as I felt I got a lot right - but ultimately, was left with nothing to show for it…

To an extent, things weren’t helped by the rain which arrived during the afternoon.
It turned the ground to soft - and also affected both the shape of some of the fields and the way some of the races were run.

The softening of the ground certainly did Christopher Wood no favours.
He was the first tip to run - and would definitely have preferred quicker conditions.

Despite that, he still ran a good race to finish third - but was no match for either Pentland Hills or Fakir D’oudaries (the latter being greatly helped by the rain).

Next it was Bristol de Mai and Balko des Flo - and they also ran well.
However, they really bumped into one in the shape of Kemboy - who simply blew the race apart !

As an unexposed horse, I guess that was always possible - but I honestly didn’t think he had that kind of performance in him.
In fairness, he was the only member of the field who hadn’t been involved in a tough race at Cheltenham - so maybe that proved decisive.

Whatever, he never looked like losing - which was a shame, as Balko des Flo ran a massive race for an unconsidered 33/1 shot - and was a touch unlucky not to at least claim the runner up spot (he ploughed through the last - and was over taken just before the line).

I also put up 2 in the Foxhunters, in the shape of Sir Jack Yeates and Greensalt - and again, they both ran really well.
In fact, they were 2 of 6, still in with a chance jumping the final fence.
However, both ran out of steam on the run in (probably not helped by the soft ground).

That was a real shame - particularly for Greensalt, who I’d put up EW - and who looked sure to at least place, when he mounted his challenge approaching the last…
With Diego du Charmil taken out on account of the ground, we were left with just R’evelyn Pleasure in the Red Rum.
He ran poorly and was never sighted - but the frustration with him, was that he was closely tied on form, to Moon over Germany - the comfortable race winner !

In fact, I only opted for R’evelyn Pleasure because he was twice the price of Moon over Germany, this morning - I guess that can happen when you are a ‘value bettor’ !

The other frustration was that Lady Buttons, who finished second, was comfortably held on form by Diego du Charmil - suggesting that one would have gone very close if he had been able to run.

As least it all suggested I was in the right ball park !

As for the Mentions:

Then, in the circumstances, it was no big surprise to see Kalashnikov get the better of La Bague au Roi, in the opener !
The softer ground probably helped him - and Dickie Johnson maybe didn’t get his fractions quite right on the mare - they are fine lines.

It also wasn’t a great surprise to see Buveur D’air beaten in the feature hurdle race - and by another horse who I’d tipped at Cheltenham !
It would have been hard to support Supasundae again after his disappointing run last time - and I suspect a bit of luck helped him get home in front today (with the leader, Melon, falling at the third last - and hampering Buveur D'air).

Finally, the closing bumper was won by the Glancing Queen, who stayed on well to beat Minella Melody.
Farne ran a great race to finish fourth - but that wouldn’t have been much good, even if I had tipped her each way !

Maybe the ‘luck’ imbalance will even itself out tomorrow…


Daily write-up - Apr 4th (Aintree Day 1)

Day 1 of the Aintree Grand National meeting…

As was the case at Cheltenham, the weather has decided that it would be amusing to try and mess things up !

Considering how little rain we’ve had over the past 5 months, it’s staggering that we had significant rainfall in the build up to Cheltenham - and the same thing has happened again this week.

Consequently, we can only guess on the state of the ground on the opening day.
My guess is on the soft side of good - assuming there’s no more rain before racing gets underway !

In addition to having to guess the state of the ground, we’ve also got to guess the state of the horses who ran at Cheltenham.

This is a perennial issue at Aintree - just how much did the Cheltenham exertions take out of the various runners ?

Of course, it varies from horse to horse - and so is impossible to generalise on.
It’s also impossible to know for sure, until it’s too late !

Needless to say, all the uncertainty doesn't make things any easier !

What does make things easier (compared to Cheltenham), is that field sizes tend to be a bit smaller - and we have a bit more relevant form to work with…

Ultimately, I’ve ended up with 7 tips on the day - but across just 4 of the races.

I’ve paired back a bit on staking, as the competitive nature of racing, and very accurate markets - mean that either our edge is much smaller than normal, or the risk we take, much greater.
Either way, it doesn’t feel right to be staking at the same level, as during the rest of the season…

Anyway, here’s the rationale behind the horses that I’ve tipped - along with my thoughts on the other races on the card…



Le Bague au Roi is clearly the one to beat in this.
On official ratings, she is just 1lb below the top rated horse in the race - yet she receives a 7lb sex allowance from all her rivals.
More than that, she is unbeaten in her 4 chase starts this season - and has a great attitude.
The form of her wins - particularly her penultimate victory in the Feltham chase at Kempton on Boxing day, stands up to the closest scrutiny.
She has been targeted at Aintree, so that she gets to run on a flat track (unlike Cheltenham) - and whilst todays trip on good-ish ground is likely to be the minimum distance she wants, there should be lots of pace in the race, and Dickie Johnson will almost certainly make plenty of use of her.
She is very much the one to beat - and a price of around 7/4 strikes me as perfectly fair…
In terms of her opponents, then she appears to hold the 3 outsiders in the race - either on direct form, or collateral form.
Le Bague as Roi comfortably beat Spiritofthegames, at Newbury in November: whilst she has twice proven herself the superior of Lostintranslation, and that one finished well ahead of Mengli Khan the JLT at the Cheltenham festival.
Castafiore finished even further back that day - yet on her previous outing he had run Bags Groove close at Kempton.
The suggestion being that Bags Groove shouldn’t be able to beat Le Bague au Roi.
As a consequence, the 2 main dangers to the mare, appear to be Glen Forsa and Kalashnikov.
They both ran in the Arkle last time - with neither completing.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see them improve for a step up in trip today - but whether they will improve sufficiently to beat Le Bague au Roi, is a different matter.
Of the 2, I prefer the chance of Kalashnikov - and if there is a bet in the race, it is probably him at 5/1.
That said, I think Le Bague au Roi is the more likely winner - which makes tipping him at that price, a bit tricky…


Understandably, Pentland Hills and Band of Outlaws dominate the market for this…
They took the 2 juvenile races at the Cheltenham festival: with Pentland Hills capturing the grade 1 Triumph hurdle and Band of Outlaws the Fred Winter handicap.
Ordinarily, you would expect the winner of the Triumph to be superior to the winner of the Fred Winter.
However, with Sir Erec breaking down in the Triumph, that race ended up relatively weak; whilst Band of Outlaws was was a scintillating winner of the Fred Winter (having been backed as if defeat was out of the question).
The suggestion is that there may not be much between the pair - and I actually prefer the claims of Band of Outlaws…
Third favourite is Fakir D’oudaries. He also ran at the festival, when finishing fourth in the all age Supreme hurdle.
He was sent off favourite for that race, and whilst he was ultimately quite well beaten, he still ran a fair race.
That said, his forte does appear to be stamina, so it’s questionable whether the quicker Aintree track will suit his as well as Cheltenham did…
Christopher Wood is next in the betting - and unlike his 3 main rivals, he didn’t run at Cheltenham.
I would view that as a positive - though it does mean that we can only guess as to how much ability he has. That said, the official assessor has given him a rating of 142 - just 7lb shy of Band of Outlaws.
He certainly has plenty of scope - so I there is a definite chance that he he can improve past the market principals.
Whilst his flat rating of 85, is superior to that of Pentland Hills - and he’s shown a good aptitude for hurdling.
Band of Outlaws looks like he’s the one to beat - particularly as he was rated higher than Christopher Wood on the flat.
That said, his price is plenty short enough (7/4) - and he did have quite a tough race at Cheltenham.
In the circumstances, I think Christopher Wood is worth a small risk.


This is a tough race to call…
A case can be made for all 4 of the markets leaders - but I think that Bristol de Mai represents a bit of value, at 4/1.
He finished third in the Gold Cup - 2 places and 5 lengths ahead of Clan des Obeaux.
He had also beaten the same horse earlier in the season. at Haydock - and when finishing second in this race 12 months ago (behind Might Bite).
Assuming he’s at his peak, the form book says he’s the most likely winner.
However, following a very hard race in the Gold Cup, he is not guaranteed to be at his peak - however, at a price 4/1, I think he is worth a risk.
Certainly, he makes more appeal than Clan des Obeaux does at 5/2 - even if that one still seems to be improving.
The 2 other market leaders are Kemboy and Road to Respect - and based on their run at Leopardstown over Christmas, the former should come out best in their duel.
However, I think he could have been flattered by that run and at their respective odds (5/2 and 5/1), Road to Respect holds the greater appeal (but not quite as much as Bristol de Mai).
It’s hard to make a case for Elegant Escape, as he’s likely to find this an insufficient test of stamina.
Balko des Flos on the other hand, is quite interesting - even if it requires an act of faith to support him bouncing back to form today, after a number of poor runs.
That said, he travelled powerfully for a lot of the race last time in the Ryanair Chase - and definitely makes some appeal, at 33/1.
He ran Road to Respect close in last seasons Irish Gold Cup, and if back to that level of form, he could be right in the mix this afternoon.


It’s quite tempting to take on Buveur D’air in this…
On official ratings, he has at least 8lb on hand of all of his rivals - and a stone in hand of most of them.
However, aside from a seasonal debut, which may have flattered him, he’s not looked at his best this season - and he also comes here on the back of a mid-race fall in the Champion hurdle.
That’s not really the profile you would want for an odds-on shot - the problem is finding one to oppose him with…
Faugheen should be obvious one - however he’s now 11 and in decline. I will be surprised if he is good enough to win.
It’s a similar story with Supasundae. I tipped him in the stayers race at Cheltenham - but he ran disappointingly. Whilst it’s true that he may not have stayed the trip, he was under pressure, a long way out - and that’s harder to explain.
If he were to bounce back to his best, he could certainly give Buveur D’air a race - but I’m not sure that’s going to happen…
Aside from those 2, all of the other runners have at least a stone to find with Buveur D’air on official ratings - and most are unproven over the trip.
Consequently, it’s hard to select one with any confidence, to beat him…
Summerville Boy is perhaps the most interesting - though he has also got the most to prove.
Based on his novice form from last season, a case could be constructed - but he’s been massively disappointing in his 2 run this season (though admittedly, he did injure himself last time).
For those desperate for a bit of action, he could be worth a tiny play - but officially speaking, I feel that it has to be a watching race…


When I looked at this race with no awareness of the betting, I felt that Road to Rome was the most interesting runner.
He ran a huge race in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham last time out, attacking from the front and only getting caught on the run to the last.
He should get home fine, over todays shorter trip - and his prominent racing style and sound jumping, will both be big assets.
However, whether they warrant him being a 7/2 shot in a 27 runner race over the Grand National fences, is a different matter !
The fences may be much easier to jump nowadays - but they still present a challenge: and in such a big field, luck can often play a part.
I think you would want around 3/1 about any horse to jump round cleanly - and not to meet interference.
That being the case, it doesn’t leave a lot of margin for him being the best horse in the race !
And I don’t think that’s guaranteed - even ignoring the fact that his Cheltenham run may have taken the edge off him.
In the circumstances, I felt I had to look elsewhere…
And the funny thing was, the more I looked, the more alternatives found !
Burning Ambition, Kruzlinin and Ucello Conti are the next 3 in the betting - and they all have a chance - but there are also quite a few at big prices, who make some appeal.
Chief amongst those is Sir Jack Yeats.
He ran in the corresponding race last year - and did reasonably well, despite having a far from ideal preparation.
He looks to have been targeted at the race this year: and as he’s still only 8 - and now has experience of the course under his belt - he looks a good bet at 18/1.
Greensalt also ran in the race last year - and he managed to finish a very honourable third.
He actually led over the last - but wandered on the run in and got passed by a couple of his rivals.
At 11, he’s younger than the horses who beat him last year - so there must be a decent chance he can reverse the form.
Like Sir Jack Yeats, he also look to have been targeted at the race - and whilst he may lack a touch of class, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to run another very big race.
Road to Riches and Pass the Hat are 2 more, at big prices (the latter, a very big price !), who I considered getting involved with - but I figured 2 darts at the race was probably sufficient !


My start point for this race, was Lady Buttons.
I’ve been really taken by her this season - and whilst she has climbed the handicap as a consequence of her efforts, I wouldn’t be surprised if she were capable of winning another decent race.
Thomas Dowson now rides her - and whilst he’s not been able to claim his allowance on her 2 most recent outings - he can do today.
I felt that would be sufficient to make her a tip - however, the form book says she can’t beat Diego du Charmil !
He beat her by 9 lengths at this meeting 12 months ago - and is 1lb better off today (ignoring the jockey claim).
Furthermore, he is the younger, less exposed horse - so should have greater scope for improvement.
Whether he has improved since then, is impossible to say.
He’s only run 4 times in the intervening period - and on 3 of throe occasions, he’s bumped into Altior in small field graded races.
Unsurprisingly he wasn’t up to beating him (or even getting particularly close) - but that would be the case for the entire equine population !
It’s is a slight worry that he has to carry top weight - but in absolute terms, a mark of 155 for a grade 1 winner, isn’t bad - and graded horses have an uncanny knack of winning handicaps, when they run in them…
There are plenty of others who could be considered for a second bet in the race - but I’ve opted to go to the other end of the handicap.
R’evelyn Pleasure receives 24lb from Diego du Charmil - which is a lot of weight !
In fairness, he’s not shown anything like the form of the top weight - but equally, he’s not had many chances to do so.
He’s a relatively unexposed novice, who has won 2 of his 6 races over fences and still seems to be improving.
Certainly he ran really well on his penultimate outing, in a hot handicap at the Dublin racing festival - and again last time behind Ex Patriot at Gowran.
On both occasions, he didn’t quite get home, so the relative speed test of Aintree should suit him well.
Eamon an Cnoc appears to head the list of dangers - and whilst I can’t really see it myself, plenty of good judges can ! (which makes me nervous !).
I can see an argument for Moon over Germany - but he was half the price of R’evelyn Pleasure and they are closely matched on Leopardstown form: Whilst I can also see argument for Champagne at Tara and Cracking Find, both at big prices.


The Glancing Queen sets the standard for this race, on the back of her fifth place in the Champion bumper at the Cheltenham festival.
That was a huge performance - and back against her own sex this afternoon, she should take a fair bit of beating - assuming she is capable of repeating the form.
In truth, that’s not guaranteed to happen: both because that run may have take an edge of her: and also because she may not be as well suited by todays track…
The strong market support for Minella Melody suggests that she could be hard to beat, this afternoon.
She was sent off at odds on for her debut at Gowran - and duly hacked up by 12 lengths.
It’s impossible to get a proper handle on the form - but it appears that she could be very good…
In truth, this is not a race that could be approached with any confidence, as virtually all of the runners are unexposed and capable of big improvement.
Farne was the one that interested me most, on the back of a third placing in a listed event at Sandown.
She finished behind Misty Whiskey that day - but travelled best in the race and is a fair bet to reverse the form, at the available odds (7/1 and 16/1).
The other one of moderate interest, is Who What When.
She is unbeaten in her 2 races - the second of those at listed level - and looks over-priced at 25/1 (presumably because of her connections).
The trouble is, it is completely guesswork as to whether either Farne or Who What When, will be good enough to win this much stronger contest.
In the circumstances, it has to be a watching race…

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Aint 2:20 Christopher Wood 0.5pt win 11/1
Aint 2:50 Bristol de Mai 1pt win 4/1
Aint 2:50 Balko des Flos 0.25pt win 33/1 (saver)
Aint 4:05 Greensalt 0.25pt EW 33/1
Aint 4:05 Sir Jack Yeats 0.5pt win 18/1
Aint 4:40 R'evelyn Pleasure 0.5pt win 20/1
Aint 4:40 Diego du Charmil 0.5pt win 15/2


Aint 1:45 Kalashnikov (O )
Aint 3:25 Summerville Boy (S )
Aint 5:15 Farne & Who What When (S )