Friday, 17 April 2020

End of season report


As you are all aware, the 2019-20 TVB season had to end a couple of weeks prematurely, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
From a service perspective, it made little difference, as aside from Aintree, the final few weeks of the season (post Cheltenham), tend to be very quiet.

Over the course of the season (Nov 1st – Mar 17th) a total of 109 tips were issued across 99 races, with 79pts staked.

If you had managed to secure the advised price on all tips, then you would have achieved a profit of 17.38pts (22% ROI).

However, if you had not bothered taking a price and just backed the tips at BSP, you would have secured a profit of *24.26pts (30.7% ROI).

Since the focus switched to ‘big races’ 3 seasons ago, the service has been profitable at BSP, every season.
In the 2017-18 season, the ROI at BSP was 41%; whilst last season (2018-19) it was 20.1%.

However, this was the first season in which the service has been more profitable to follow at BSP, than at advised price…

I think the reason for that is quite simple:
By the time I tip, all of the price ricks have been eliminated - and I only ever quote generally available bookmaker prices, which have roughly a 20% margin, built in.
The margin at BSP is virtually 0%, so with limited movement between the 2 sets of prices (which tends to be the case, in the better quality races), it is not really surprising that BSP produces the greater profit.

Ofcourse, that doesn’t stop people jumping on the prices as soon as I issue (old habits die hard !) - but suffice to say, showing patience would have resulted in a significantly better return…

*BSP figures are before commission (which can be set to 2%) - however the commission can be mitigated by betting into the live market, shortly before the off (BSP tends to be approximately 10% lower than the the back price just before the off, for TVB tips)

Analysis of the Tips

Whilst the value is questionable, I like to monitor how the tips perform in terms of finishing positions, as it helps give me a feel for whether the tips were particularly ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’.
During the season, the following placings were achieved:

1st – 13
2nd – 16
3rd – 16
4th – 8

The fact there were less winners than seconds and thirds, suggests the tips may have been slightly unlucky - accepting it’s not a particularly accurate measure.

Nearly 27% of the tips finished first or second, which is above my target of 25%.
However, that is probably a reflection of the fact that I tipped more horses than previously, close to the head of the market.

A better measurement of ‘luck’, tends to be how many of the tips that traded at 2.1 or less, subsequently went on to win…

This season, there were 26 horses that traded at 2.1 or less.
13 of these won – which suggests that there was ‘average’ luck, through the course of the season.

I feel that probably was the case - though as the in-running markets get weaker (which they are doing), that metric becomes a less accurate predictor (if a horse hits 2.1 in running, it is now more likely that it will win).

The most interesting aspect of the low trades, was their spread across the season…

During the first third (1/11-13/12), 11 horses traded at 2.1 or less - and 7 of those won (lucky)
During the second third (14/12-9/2), 7 horses traded at 2.1 or less - and 2 of those won (unlucky)
During the final third (10/2-17/3), 8 horses traded at 2.1 or less - and 4 of those won (neither lucky not unlucky !) 

This shows that luck should be judged over a full season - or even longer !

The total number of tips issued this year, was significantly down - both on last season - and on what I expected.

Part of the reason for that, is obvious - the truncated season !
However, that would only have accounted for a further dozen or so tips…
Another reason is that I was deliberately light on tips at the Cheltenham festival.
Again though, this probably only accounted for a reduction of around 10…

The 2 main reasons for there being less tips than expected, were the weather - and weak/fragile markets.

Obviously, running a service during the winter months means you are particularly susceptible to the vagaries of the weather (which seems to get more random every year).
However, this year was particularly bad.

Almost every weekend, I felt like I had to guess the state of the ground - usually because there had been (or was about to be !) significant rain: or because there had been no rain, and previously heavy ground was drying out.
As the ground is a key variable in assessing a race - if you can’t be sure of how it will ride, it’s very difficult to tip with confidence…

The weak/fragile markets were the other big issue.
As I’m sure you will all recall, frustration with these nearly tipped me over the edge at the start of February !
By the time I come to tip, the bookmakers have taken a defensive position on all of the attractive horses - but that still doesn’t stop prices crashing !
The minimal margin in the prices - and the likely issues with getting on - certainly stopped me from issuing a number of tips (which I chose to make 'Mentions' instead).

Obviously, there is no way round the issues with the weather: whilst the tight/fragile markets can only be overcome by betting elsewhere, at a different time (the exchanges, close to the off) 

In terms of the races that I tipped in: then 13 of the 109 tips were in races run in Ireland - they yielded at small loss (1.5pts).

Of the remaining 96 tips: 49 were in class 1 races (over half) – with 27 in class 2; and 20 in class 3. There were none in class 4 races or below.

The tips in class 1 & 2 races, yielded a profit of (27.13pts); however there was only 1 winning tip in a class 3 race, and as a result, class 3 races recorded a loss of nearly 8.25pts…
The situation was very similar last season - and does make me wonder whether I should raise the bar higher still, and focus even more, on class 1 and 2 races…

As has been the case since I switched to ‘big races’, very few tips, crashed in price.

In fact, almost half of the tips had a better BSP than advised price (50 v 59).
Furthermore, across the entire season, only 20 tips shortened in price by more than 40% (and remarkably, none of them won !)

Both of the above are a direct result of tipping in better class races - and only when the market has stabilised.
They back up the P&L figure - suggesting that it should have made little difference whether advised price or BSP was taken (which was indeed the case).

Service ‘value adds’

Whilst TVB gets judged primarily on the performance of the official tips - it’s always been a service which offers much more…

For a start, there are the write-ups - which in addition to explaining the rationale for tips, also highlight dangers - along with Mentions, which can’t be official tips (for a variety of reasons), but which are often worth considering as bets.

In terms of other possible bets: then there is the ‘TVB pre-season’ (where Ballyoptic and The Conditional were 2 good priced winners, this season); the ante-post bets (where Dame de Compagnie was suggested - at 20/1 !) and the mid -week previews…

I moved the mid-week previews into the forum this season - so that all of the TVB offerings resided in the same place.
The issue with betting midweek, is that there tends to be very limited opportunities (due to the quality of the racing - along with the weather !) - and that was again the case this season.

I covered midweek races in the conventional fashion for the first part of the season - but at the end of January, switched to using the ‘matrix method’ and the results were extremely promising.

So much so, I started using the matrix method to tackle a big handicap each weekend, via the BFHPs.
Again, the results were very good.

Buoyed by this, I used the matrix method to tackle most of the handicaps at the Cheltenham festival - and yet again, there were positive results.

I sent out an email, summarising the performance of the matrix method, shortly after the season ended - so I won’t cover it again here.
However, suffice to say, the results were so good - and also consistent - that I believe the matrix method represents the way forward for the service.

And whilst I know a lot of you profited from the bets it suggested (in its 3 guises); along with the pre-season; the ante-post bets; the write-up pointers - and the ‘live’ threads ! - profits from none of these areas, are included in the official figures.

Obviously, that is because not everyone can take advantage of them - whereas it should be possible for everyone to follow the official tips (and achieve the stated prices - or even better !).

However, as in invariably the case, anyone who did follow the unofficial recommendations, is likely to have achieved much better profits than those recorded for the official P&L.

Plans for next season

This is where things get really interesting..!

I’m not sure whether it was caused by the increase in the subscriber base - or by an increased level of caution on behalf of the bookmakers (or a combination of both !) - but whatever the reason, issuing tips this season, was particularly difficult.

I focused on the biggest races - and issued at a reasonable time - but the market movements were still almost instant and often significant.
The crazy thing is - as the P&L demonstrates - I wasn’t tipping over-priced horses.
Many of the tips subsequently drifted back out to the advised price - and beyond.
The bookmakers should have been prepared to take bets at the advised prices - but they weren’t…

My feeling is that the early morning tipping model just doesn’t work any more (at least, not for a reasonable size service).
Many people find it hard to get on: and in terms of prices, then if I wait until the prices are stable (which I do), there is no significant advantage to tipping at that time.

It would make more sense to leave it until closer the off - when the bookmakers are slightly less sensitive, betting shops are a more realistic option - and there is greater liquidity on the exchanges.

Therefore, from next season onwards, I plan to issue tips/bets much later (between 11:00 and 12:00)

Obviously, issuing at that time, would mean that I wouldn’t be able to produce ‘write-ups’ (as they are used to justify tips - and suggest dangers along with possible bets in other races).
Instead, I would look to produce ‘previews’, which I would send out earlier (either on the race day - or the evening before).

More than this - I would also intend to change how I tip !

The pilot of the matrix method was such a success, it would seem silly not to start using it ‘officially’, to tackle big field handicaps.

For consistency, I would also look to use a variation of the matrix method, to handle standard tips.

The matrix method typically allocates 20 units per race.
This equates to 2pts - so instead of tipping using pts, I would stake tips using 'units' (1pt would become 10 units).
This would mean that I could also have official savers on dangers (1 or 2 unit bets).
Which in turn, would encourage me to bet in more races (as I would be able to mitigate the chance of losing).

So all in all, I’m proposing some pretty significant changes !

- Previews produced early (without bets/tips), in the form of ‘short-lists’ or angles
- Tips/bets issued later (generally between 11:00 and 12:00)
- Bets in more races - and often, multiple selections per race
- Staking in ‘Units’ rather than pts (where 10 units equals 1pt)

Individuals would be given the option of subscribing to: the previews; the tips/bets: or both.
Subscribing to the previews would mean that you would get early sight of my thoughts (which would help, if you did want to bet early).
Subscribing to the bets/tips would mean that you would get my view on the best bets available in a mature market.

A limited ‘discussion’ on most of the above took place in the forum, in response to me sending out the email on the matrix method.
Generally, the proposals were well received - but I’m conscious that’s only the opinion of a few !

I’ll be issuing a satisfaction survey in the next few days, and I’ll add a few questions to that, which will hopefully help me gauge whether the majority of you would be happy for the service to move in the direction described (after all, you are my customers :) )

Anyway, I think that covers just about everything - apart from a few words of thanks…

The guys who have always supported the service, thankfully continue to do so.
They are ofcourse, led by Chris - whose contribution (particularly behind the scenes) grows on an annual basis.

Thanks also this season, should go to all of you.

When things became a particular struggle at the end of January, I was heartened by how much support I received.

I’ve always maintained that TVB is more like a community than a service - and your responses during that period, confirmed that…

Hopefully, the world can get on top of Coronavirus relatively quickly - and there will still be a bit of the summer, left for us to enjoy.

All being well, I certainly intend to be back in touch in the autumn - and I reckon the 9th TVB season just might be, the best one yet :)

Stay safe,


Tuesday, 24 March 2020

End of the TVB season

As I’m sure many of you are already aware, the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) today announced that in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, racing in the UK will be suspended until the end of April, at the earliest.

As the TVB season was due to end on April 4th, this therefore means that the TVB season is now complete.

Obviously, it feels a bit surreal to be finishing a season in such a manner - but plenty of things feel a bit surreal at the moment !

I will still produce an end of season report - as I always do; I would also like to survey everyone, in order to gain feedback on how you felt the season went - along with any ideas you may have for next season.

I’ll work on both of those over the next couple of weeks - and aim to get them out to you, before the end of the month.

I also intend to feedback on the ‘matrix method’ pilot, which I ran over the last few weeks of the season - it delivered some amazing results and is likely to feature in my plans for the service, next season (so I would encourage you all to to read that, if you are interested in subscribing to TVB again in the autumn).

That’s it for now: If the decision is made to continue racing in Ireland, I will look to cover the Fairyhouse Easter festival - and Punchestown - in some way (probably via the matrix method, in the forum).
However, neither meeting is guaranteed to take place (HRI will make a statement, tomorrow).

Thanks for the support over the past 5 months: and very best wishes to you all - and your families - for what is going to be a very difficult and uncertain few months ahead…


Review of the day

Kateson was the only tip on a relatively quiet day - and he finished a respectable second, at Uttoxeter.

In truth, such a finishing position looked highly unlikely for most of the race - but he’s an ‘enigmatic’ sort and having appeared well held down the back, he ran on strongly up the home straight.

That said, he never looked like getting to the winner, Main Fact, who bolted up by 15 lengths.

Somewhat ironically, if Sandown had taken place last weekend, Main Fact would have run there (he was a market leader for the Imperial Cup) - and possibly at Cheltenham, as well.

But alas, things didn’t pan out that way - and he messed things up for us, instead !

There were a few Mentions on the day - but most of them were half hearted !
The exception to that, was Cloudy Glen, who I did consider tipping - until I saw the strength of his race. Swerving it was a good call - as whilst he ran OK, he ultimately finished well beaten.
I was right to question the participation of De Rasher Counter in the Midlands Grand National - as expected, he didn’t complete.
The race was won by Truckers Lodge. He was 4/1 this morning - but I took 8/1 close to the off, which was a very good price (particularly with hind-sight :) ).
Over at Kempton, McFabulous hacked up in the EBF final: Igor and Adicci both showed up quite well - but ultimately finished unplaced.
Our Power won the handicap hurdle. I didn’t think he would reverse the form with Downtime Getaway - but that one disappointed badly.
Finally, the big handicap chase was won by Delire Destruval - at 25/1.
I can’t be sure that I would have included him on a short list - but I might have done.
Garde le Victoire and Good Man Pat would have been on the list - and they finished third and fourth.
Hopefully I’ll have a bit more time for study, when the next suitable handicap comes along..!


Daily write-up - Mar 14th

There are 5 NH meetings today: at Uttoxeter, Kempton, Newcastle and Fontwell in the UK - plus Navan in Ireland.

Years ago, there used to be virtually no racing, on the Saturday after Cheltenham (this is when it was a 3 day festival !).
The Midlands Grand National has always occupied that slot - but that was petty much it !

However, over the past few years, the Uttoxeter card has grown and evolved - and its undercard now contains a couple of other good quality handicaps.

More than that, Kempton aslo stage a card for horses who failed to make the cut for the Cheltenham handicaps.
Again, it started small - but has grown significantly over the past few years.

As a consequence, there are now 2 decent meetings - and around half a relatively dozen big races on the day - not what I really need, after a week studying for Cheltenham !

More than that, all of the races, have attracted big fields.
There were precisely 100 hundred declared runners across the days 6 main races.
That gives an average of about 16 a race - not quite at the Cheltenham handicap level, but not far off !

Anyway, it is what it is…

The ground is very different at the 2 meetings: it’s officially heavy at Uttoxeter - but good to soft at Kempton.
I therefore needed to wear 2 form studying hats !

In truth, I didn’t really have the time last night, to delve too deeply into a host of handicaps.
I would have liked to apply the matrix method to a couple of the races - but that just wasn’t possible.

Ultimately, I found just the 1 tip - at Uttoxeter.
Here is the rationale behind it - along with some thoughts on the days other main races.



This race was originally scheduled to take place last Saturday, at Sandown.
It tends to be an excellent source of novice chasers for next season - so it’s good that it’s been saved.
However, it’s going to be a very different race to the one that would have taken place a week ago.
The going at Sandown last week would have been desperate: whilst today at Kempton, it will be on the soft side of good.
Additionally, Kempton is a flat track; whereas Sandown has a steep uphill finish.
As a consequence, whereas last weeks race would probably have been a war of attrition - todays race is likely to be more of a speed test.
That will suit favourite, McFabulous.
He would have been one to oppose a week ago - but it would be much harder to side against him, today.
In truth, even if I wanted to, I’m not sure what I would take him on with.
A week ago, Hurricane Harvey was top of my list - but that was on account of him relishing deep ground and a stern test.
I think Igor looks quite interesting, for Nicky Henderson.
He finished just a couple of lengths behind Sire de Berlais, on his penultimate run - and that form was very well franked this week !
He should also have no issue with conditions.
The other one that catches my eye, is Adicci.
He makes his handicap debut for Jonjo - and whilst he is very hard to assess, I would not be surprised to see him improve for todays step up in trip.
That said, both are too speculative to consider tipping, so it has to be a watching race…


Downtown Getaway looks the one to beat in this.
Highly tried last season (he ran in a grade 1 event at Aintree), he was a big disappointment on his seasonal debut at Newbury - but following a wind op, bounced back last time, to win a strong looking handicap over todays course and distance.
He only won by a neck that day - and has been raised 5lb for the win. Whilst in theory, that would appear more than enough - I suspect he has plenty of improvement left in him.
He will be running today off a mark of 136 - and I suspect he is a fair bit better than that…
Second favourite, Tamaroc du Mathan, is not as easy to assess.
He ran fifth last time, in the Betfair hurdle - on only his third run in the UK.
That’s top class handicap form - and he should still be competitive from a mark 3lb higher.
However, that was a strange race. There was a standing start - and a lot of late carnage.
I would question the reliability of the form…
The rest of the field can be backed at 10/1+ - and there is nothing that really stands out.
Our Power has a theoretical chance of reversing form with Downtown Getaway (he finished 3rd to him - and is 3lb better off for 3 lengths) - but the winner has far more scope.
Smarty Wild is the other one that catches my eye.
He possibly got stuck in the mud last time - but prior to that had finished a close up fourth in a very hot handicap at Sandown.
He may improve for the longer trip on better ground - and could run in to a place.


I reckon this would have been a great race for the matrix method - if I’d had time !
A 20 runner handicap chase - and there are certainly a few, close to the head of the market, that I’d be happy to oppose.
On initial inspection, the 2 who interested me most, were Garde le Victoire and My Way.
I’m a long time fan of the former - and he appears to be gradually running into form.
The concerns, are whether Kempton will suit him - and the fact that Dickie isn’t riding him (he’s chosen to go to Uttoxeter - but more of that, later !).
My Way has been contesting some very strong races (stronger than this) and will have no issue with the track.
The issues with him, are that he seems disinclined to win - and Harry Cobden rides Mercy Mercy Me.
I’d probably put both of them on a short list - but the doubts stop me from tipping either…
Other possibles for the short list would include Eamon an Cnoic (I would have to save on him !) and Good Man Pat (very well handicapped - and things will drop right for him sooner rather than later).
However, I would need longer to study the race, in order to be sure I’d not missed an angle (I’m sure one or two of the more fancied runners, must have a chance !)



When I first looked at this race, I was quite keen on Cloudy Glen.
He ran really well on his penultimate outing at Sandown, when chasing home Diese Aba.
He fell last time out at Warwick - but had been very well backed that day, in a relatively strong race.
I suspect he is sufficiently well handicapped to win a race - but this looks a particularly strong contest.
In really isn’t hard to make a case for 6 or 7 of the runners - and that makes it a difficult race to get involved with.
Cloudy Glen definitely has a chance - but I suspect he also has a bit of temperament (he ran out, 3 runs back) - so in the circumstances, I can’t bring myself to tip him.
Of his rivals, then Looks like Murt and Sams Adventure are the 2 of most interest.
Both are relatively unexposed and could easily have a few pounds in hand of their marks.
If it turns into a real war, then Midnight Tune would be very interesting: whilst Over to Sam and Aye Aye Charlie are both capable of outrunning relatively big odds.


Just over 12 months ago, Kateson was sent off at 5/4 in a grade 2 novice hurdle at Haydock. That was on the back of an excellent third placing behind Champ in the grade 1 Challow hurdle at Newbury.
The second favourite for the Haydock race, was Lisnagar Oscar…
Roll on a year - and what a difference !
In the week in which Champ won the RSA and Lisnagar Oscar was a surprise winner of the Grade 1 stayers hurdle at Cheltenham; Kateson gets to run off a mark of 135 in a class 2 handicap at Uttoxeter !
Ofcourse the reason that Kateson is running in such a relatively modest contest, is because he has subsequently been very disappointing.
In fact the last time he really showed his form, was in the race won by Champ.
Part of the reason for that, is undoubtedly because Kateson has a marked preference for soft ground - something which he has skilfully managed to dodge on most of his outings since then ! (no mean feat, considering the weather this past year)
In fairness, that wasn’t the case on his most recent outing - when he simply ran disappointingly at Ffos Las.
However, he has subsequently undergone a wind op - and if that has sorted him out, then he should go very close today.
Certainly, the ground will not be an excuse - and 2m4f should be the perfect trip.
He’s also got Dickie in the saddle. I’m sure he’ll be keen to get a winner following a disappointing Cheltenham - and it’s interesting that he is riding at Uttoxeter rather than taking a couple of decent mounts at Kempton.
Of his rivals, then Main Fact and Dostal Phil head the betting - and whilst I’ve no issue with that, there are reason for opposing both of them.
The other one I feared, was Nordano - but he was declared a non runner earlier this morning, which made deciding on the tip, a little bit easier !


I’m really surprised to see De Rasher Counter running in this…
He’s a class horse, who won the Hennessey on his penultimate outing - and finished fourth in the grade 2 Cotswold chase on his most recent outing.
He is rated 157 - and will have to carry 11st12lb today (less Ben Jones’s 3lb claim).
That’s a huge amount of weight for a horse whose forte is not stamina.
I’ll be surprised if he completes the race…
His presence compresses the handicap - and means that 5 of the runners will be carrying overweight.
In truth, I’m not sure that will matter too much - as this is likely to be a case of survival of the fittest !
Who the fittest will be however, I’m not so sure…
Truckers Lodge and Christmas in April, are the obvious ones, as they are young and proven in similar conditions: and whilst Prime Venture and Petite Power don’t have youth on their side, they too should be able to cope with the demands of the race.
Se Mo Laoch is a very interesting raider from Ireland - and again, I would expect him to handle conditions.
All this said, it is a race which feels like it is going to have an element of ‘lottery’ about it.
If forced off the fence, I would probably side with Prime Venture. He finished fourth in the race last year - and with first time blinkers, off a 4lb lower mark, I would expect him to be able to at least match that performance today.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Uttox 3:00 Kateson 0.5pt win 11/1

Kemp 2:05 Igor (S ) & Adicci (S )
Kemp 2:40 Downtown Getaway (P )
Uttox 2:25 Cloudy Glen (O )
Uttox 3:35 Prime Venture (O )
The letter in brackets is the reason why the Mention wasn’t a tip:
P(rice); (O)pposition; (S)peculative; (C)onditions

Cheltenham handicaps - Day 4

The first 2 handicaps today, lend themselves well to the matrix method - the last one, less so !
I'll therefore handle the first 2 as usual - but just offer a couple of bets for the last one...


Ciel de Neige has been really well backed in this - which surprises me.
I had him on my original short-list - but took him off because I felt he was the weakest of JPs 3.
I'm happy to oppose him - and it also tempers my enthusiasm for JPs other runners.
Therefore my position will be built around Stolen Silver and Aramon - with savers on a few of the others...

7 units on Stolen Silver at 14/1 (105)
7 units on Aramon at 8/1 (63)
3 units on Saint Roi at 7/1 (24)
2 units on Ajdali at 14/1 (30)
1 unit on Rathhill at 28/1 (29)


I was very keen on Greaneteen - but the support for Chosen Mate is a bit concerning !
I'll still build my position around Greaneteen - and Lisp (who I think will also run very well)
At 4/1, I have to take on Chosen Mate - so will just save stakes on the 2 other Irish horses - and also add in Jan Maat, just in case !

10 units on Greaneteen at 4/1 (50)
5 units on Lisp at 7/1 (40)
2 units on Elcair du Beaufeu at 15/2 (17)
2 units on Paloma Blue at 10/1 (22)
1 unit on Jan Maat at 20/1 (21)


I would need days to solve this one !
I don't think there is any chance of figuring out what's going on with the Irish horses, until minutes before the off (I'll look to post on the Live thread !).
I think Umbrigado and Flashing Steel will be trying - it's just whether they are good enough...

2 units on Umbrigado at 12/1
2 units on Flashing Steel at 20/1

The ground today, wasn’t riding quite as quickly as I expected.
It seemed to me that it was perfect winter - not favouring anything that wanted extremes.

With just a few minor showers forecast, I would expect more of the same tomorrow.

Once again, there are 3 handicaps on the day (though that’s what I expected, this time !).
The first 2 look tackle-able - but the third looks a minefield !


JP Mcmanus has a very strong hand in this race: but so too do both Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson (the former also has a very good record in the race).
I’ll be a little surprised of the winner isn’t connected to at least one of them - quite possibly two !

Saint Roi (6/1) looks to be JPs number 1 hope.
He will be ridden by Barry Geraghty - who presumably had the choice of his 3 runners.
He’s an impossible horse to get a handle on, having only run twice over hurdles in Ireland.
He was very impressive last time, when winning at Tramore - and could easily be thrown in off a mark of 137.

Aramon (8/1) won a grade 1 last season - and also competed with credit, in a few other top class races.
Consequently, he has be of interest in a handicap - particularly as his mark (149) doesn’t seem overly harsh.
He ran a fair race last time out - and I would expect the market to advise on his chances, relative to stablemate Saint Roi (both are trained by Willie Mullins).

Ajdali (12/1) ran unplaced in last seasons Triumph hurdle.
However, he followed that up by finishing 4th in the grade 1 juvenile at Aintree.
I tipped him on his seasonal debut at Ascot in November - but he disappointed.
However, he has subsequently undergone a wind op - and if that’s been successful, he could prove to be very well handicapped on a mark of 140.

Stolen Silver (14/1) finished 6 lengths behind Ciel De Neige in the Betfair hurdle - but is 6lb better off tomorrow.
More than that, he was slowly away that day - and made up a lot of late ground.
It’s certainly not hard to see him reversing the form with Ciel de Neige.
He had strong novice form prior to that run - and should be well suited by the Cheltenham hill.

Rathhill (25/1), is another runner in the race for both JP - and Nicky Henderson.
He is quite speculative - having run only 3 times over hurdles.
However, on the second occasion, he was sent off 6/5 fav for a grade 1 race - so he is clearly well thought of.
He disappointed that day - and on his handicap debut last time (when again, he was a well backed fav).
However, he’s since undergone a wind op - and if that has the desired effect, he could be very interesting.


There may be 20 runners in this - but I’m struggling to see beyond the top 5 in the betting.
The trick will be getting the staking right…

Greanenteen (4/1) really impressed me when he won at Ascot in December - and has impressed me just as much in his 2 subsequent runs.
He’s won both of them - and has risen 18lb in the handicap as a result - but he looks a class performer.
He’s only a novice - but he’s an incredibly slick jumper.
This race tends to be a real test - but it looks to me as if he’s up to it.

Chosen Mate (6/1) is another novice - and his jumping isn’t as slick as that of Greaneteen.
On the flip side, he’s looked a relatively safe conveyance - and there is scope for improvement !
His third to Melon reads well, in light of that ones run today - and with his connections, he has to be respected.

Lisp (8/1) is yet another novice - and he too has taken well to fences.
He was a very decent hurdler - and finished fifth in last years County hurdle off a mark 1lb higher than he races off tomorrow.
His jumping has looked relatively assured - so hopefully he will be able to deal with the hustle and bustle of the race.

Eclair de Beaufeu (15/2) was a good winner at the Dublin Racing Festival last time - and doesn’t look badly treated off a mark 9lb higher.
He ran well in last years County hurdle - suggesting that he should have no issue with the course.
Like Chosen Mate, he is trained by Gordon Elliott - and therefore warrants a deal of respect.

Paloma Blue (12/1) is closely matched with Eclair de Beaufeu on their last run.
He is was beaten just over 2 lengths - but is 4lb better off - and was arguably a little unlucky not to finish closer.
He’s a horse with a bit of class - though the fact that he’s not being ridden by Rachel Blackmore, puts me off a little (she’s on Jan Maat - and I don’t particularly fancy him).


The final race of the meeting looks a bit of a nightmare.
I’ll offer a short list - but I may not get involved with it (there looks to be far too many plots - and therefore too much guesswork will be required)

Front View (4/1) finished a 6 length runner up to Envoi Allen on his hurdling debut.
Taken literally, that would have seen him placed in Wednesdays Ballymore - which means that off a mark of 139, he could be thrown in.
Ofcourse, it’s rarely that simple - though in this case it might be !
His subsequently finished second to Five O Clock, and there shouldn’t be much between the pair on that form.

Ilikedwayurthinkin (6/1) appears to have had his handicap mark looked after, with a view to this race.
He was given a very ‘sympathetic’ ride at Leopardstown last time - and I don’t expect to see the same kind of ride tomorrow (a bit like The Storyteller, today).
That said, like Front View, he is owned by JP McManus, so the betting will probably tell the story.

Escaria Ten (12/1) is one of 4 in the race for Gordon Elliott.
It’s impossible to work out his best chance - but this one looks particularly interesting.
He’s a handicap debutante - and didn’t make the original field.
However one of his stablemates was scratched - enabling him to get into the race.
Maybe that was just a coincidence - but then again !

Umbrigado (20/1) is trained by David Pipe - who has a particularly good reason for wanting to win this race (it is run in honour of his father).
He’s run with credit on both of his outings this season: not staying 3 miles first time - and finding 2 miles too short last time.
Tomorrows intermediate trip should be ideal - and first time tongue tie and cheekpieces, show intent.

Flashing Steel (16/1) looks to have been targeted at this race by Dan Skelton.
He won first time out this season at Chepstow, in what proved to be a very good race.
He has to run off a mark 8lb higher tomorrow - and is more exposed than a few of his rivals - but I’m sure he will be primed to the minute.

Daily write-up - Mar 13th (Cheltenham day 4)

Day 4 of the Cheltenham festival.

The final day of another epic week.
It’s always a bit sad to reach the Friday (though in truth, it’s also a bit of a relief !) - but that’s particularly the case today, as there must be a doubt as to how much more racing will be taking place, in the short term…

The coronavirus is closing in - and I suspect it is only a matter of time before racing is forced to shut up shop (along with everything else).

Best enjoy today, then :)

There has been no overnight rain at Cheltenham - and the ground has dried out a little.
I expect it to be riding very similar to yesterday (on the soft side).

I have only tipped in a couple of races - but I’ll again be running the Live thread in the forum and hoping to point out a few more angles, that people can look to profit from:

Anyway, that’s for later - for now, here are my thoughts on the card…



Once again, the day begins with a cracking novice event.
This time it’s the Triumph hurdle - for 4 year olds - and this years renewal looks high class.
There are 4 very strong contenders - along with a supporting cast who can’t be completely dismissed.
The big 4 are: Goshen, Solo, Allmankind and Aspire Tower - and it’s not easy to  choose between them.
Goshen is probably the most talented: but he wants soft ground and has a tendency to jump to his right. I just can’t see todays conditions suiting him.
Solo has only run once in the UK - when a hugely impressive winner at Kempton.
The form doesn’t amount to much - but he could be anything.
Allmankind is very headstrong and will almost certainly lead the field.
He’s a very talented horse - but so are his rivals - and he could become a sitting duck up the home straight.
Aspire Tower looked brilliant - until he fell last time at Leopardstown.
He may have won that day - but it was far from guaranteed. He will need to bounce back this afternoon.
Of the 4, I probably like Solo best - but can see Allmankind running a huge race…
Outside of the big 4, there are a few others of interest.
A Wave of the Sea and Sir Psycho are 2 - but the one that interests me most, is Burning Victory.
She won on her hurdles debut at Fairyhouse last month, despite doing almost everything wrong.
I would expect massive improvement from that run - and if it is forthcoming, it could well put her in the mix.
I did consider tipping her (she was next on my list) - but just felt the race had a bit too much depth.
That said, at 14/1 I wouldn’t put anyone off having a small interest on her…

I issued the short-list for this race yesterday evening - and will suggest bets, shortly.


There’s a monster field assembled for this - and I have to be honest, it’s not a race that I’ve spent a great deal of time looking at.
I’m very familiar with Thyme Hill - and he is a horse who should be well suited by the race.
He’s talented - and tough - and I suspect it will take a good one to beat him.
Certainly, I would expect him to do best of the home contingent - though whether he will be able to fend off the Irish contingent, is a different matter…
Latest Exhibition is the race favourite - on the back of his grade 1 win at the Dublin Racing festival.
He finished ahead of Fury Road and Cobblers Way, that day - and there is no real reason why either one should reverse the form.
That said, he only beat Cobblers Way 2 lengths - and Fury Road ran disappointingly - so it would be hard to be adamant that he will uphold it…
Monkfish is the potential Fly in the ointment - as he runs in this race, having only previously won a novice.
However, his connections (Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci) mean that he is unlikely to be tilting at windmills - and he really could be anything…
Of the others, then Janidil, Aione and Harry Senior, could easily outrun their odds - but I wouldn’t feel overly strongly about any of them.
If I had to get off the fence, then I would nominate Thyme Hill as the most likely winner - with Aione the most interesting outsider.


The 2020 Gold cup has attracted a really strong field - headed by last years winner, Al Boom Photo.
He was impressive 12 months ago - and whilst dual winners are rare, he definitely has a good chance of retaining his crown.
He’s only run twice since and will doubtless be at his absolute peak this afternoon.
Whatever beats him, will have to be very good…
That said, he faces some seriously strong rivals - chief amongst them Clan des Obeaux.
He’s won the last 2 renewals of the King George - and whilst he could only finish fifth in this race 12 months ago, he’s been given a different preparation this time round…
He hasn’t run since his Kempton win, so will be a fresh horse.
I’ve absolutely no doubt that Paul Nichols will have him primed to run for his life - and whilst some question his ability to act at Cheltenham, I’m not one of them !
I suspect he will run much better than he did last year - and whilst he does have 11 lengths to make up on Al Boom Photo, I think he can do it.
That said, even if he does, he’s not guaranteed to win !
Santini is a horse that I have a lot of time for - and whilst he can look a slow, if he still has a shout turning in, nothing will come home stronger.
Cases can also be made for Delta Work and Lostintransaltion - though I’m not sure the former is quite good enough to win: whilst the latter has a lot to prove, having disappointed badly, last time.
Kemboy is a very good horse - but I don’t think he’s a Cheltenham horse; and whilst I  put up Presenting Percy on the ante-post thread in the forum, that was in the expectation that the ground would be much softer.
I now think he will have his work cut out to win…
In short, I think this race will be won by Al Boom Photo, Santini or Clan Des Obeaux - and as the last named is twice the price of the first 2, he has to be the bet...


It will be a bit of a surprise (to me, at least !), if this race isn’t won by one of the top 5 in the betting - though choosing which one, isn’t easy.

Minella Rocco is an understandable favourite - with his back-class (he was second in the 2017 Gold cup) and Derek O’Connor in the saddle.
He also beat Hazel Hill last time - so appears to be back in form, following a period  in the wilderness…
Hazel Hill was an impressive winner of this race 12 months ago. However, he is now 12 - and he jumped inexplicably poorly last time (when beaten by Minella Rocco). He has a bit to prove…
Billaway is trained by Willie Mullins - and was bought to win this race.
He’s done little wrong in his 2 races for Mullins - it’s simply a question of whether he is good enough.
Shantou Flyer finished second in this race last year, after a rushed preparation.
His prep seems to have gone much smoother this year - and he must have a good chance of reversing form with Hazel Hill.
Stalker Wallace is hard to assess. He’s evidently very talented - but fragile.
If Derek O’Connor was riding him I would be very interested - but he seems to have opted for Minella Rocco (accepting the Jamie Codd isn’t a bad substitute !).

I put up Shantou Flyer on the ante-post thread in the forum, because I felt he represented good value at 10/1 in what looked a 4/5 horse race.
I stand by that - and would have made him a tip this morning, if that price had still been available (or maybe a couple of points less).
However, he has now nearly halved in price - so the ‘value’ margin has gone…
I would expect him to go very close - but there is a chance that one or two of his main rivals might be a bit too good for him on the day.

For those who want a back-to-lay at a big price, then Top Wood should give you a good run for your money - even if ultimately, he’s not quite up to winning.


I issued the short-list for this race yesterday evening - and will suggest bets, shortly.

However, I have also tipped both Greaneteen and Lisp.

I think the former is the likeliest winner of the race - but I also want to save on the latter.
The Irish horses are obviously dangerous - but I'm hopeful this is a race the English can win !

As always, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from following the suggested staking on the short list - If you prefer that option.


I issued the short-list for this race yesterday evening - and may suggest bets, shortly !

However, the race is a bit of a minefield - so I won't be handling it in the usual way (I'll probably just put a few units on 2 or 3 of the runners).

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Chel 3:30 Clan des Obeaux 0.75pt win 15/2
Chel 4:50 Greaneteen 0.75pt win 4/1
Chel 4:50 Lisp 0.25pt win 7/1

Chel 1:30 Solo (O ) - best outsider Burning Victory
Chel 2:50 Thyme Hill (O ) - best outsider Aione
Chel 4:10 Shantou Flyer (P ) - best outsider Top Wood
The letter in brackets is the reason why the Mention wasn’t a tip:
P(rice); (O)pposition; (S)peculative; (C)onditions

Cheltenham handicaps - Day 3

My main issue today, is the sheer volume of races/horses !
It's very hard to be able to spot all of the different angles.
I do like todays races - but I'm a little concerned that I've not had the time/space to process them properly...


My main fancy is The Storyteller - the issue is the price.
Also, he faces tougher opposition than Dame de Compagnie did yesterday.
If I've read him right, I think he'll win - but there is more speculation in this one...
Tout est Permis is handicapped to run a big race: whilst Third Win and Rapper are solid options.
It's nearly impossible to fancy Rocket Lad by conventional means - but I have to save on him !

10 units on The Storyteller at 9/2 (55)
5 units on Tout est Permis at 16/1 (85)
3 units on Third Wind at 12/1 (39)
1.5 units on Rapper at 25/1 (38)
0.5 unit on Rocket Man at 66/1 (33)


I would have liked more time to process this race properly.
Simply the Betts is too short at 7/2 - the question is whether to oppose, or just save on him...
Robin des Forets is very interesting - and I nearly tipped him. He is the main angle into the race.
I'd prefer softer ground for Le Bague au Roi - and Vision des Flos. The latter is also risky (simple as !).
I want to add 1 more: Deyrann de Carjac - he was on my original list and I can't even remember why I took him off !

8 units on Robin des Forets at 16/1 (136)
5 units on Simply the Betts at 10/3 (22)
2 unit on Le Bague au Roi at 16/1 (34)
2 unit on Vision des Flos at 25/1 (52)
3 units on Deyrann de Carjac at 11/1 (36)


Similar to the previous race, I would have liked a bit more time to properly study this one.
I do like Cloth Cap  - and I'm sure he is capable of winning a race of this nature off this mark, so I am happy to build a position around him.
Champagne Platinum could be anything - and whilst he is risky, he's a risk I would want to take (particularly as his price is drifting).
Diese Aba was my long range fancy for the race - and he should run well (though there isn't much in the price)
Militarian has a chance and is over-priced (though he would prefer soft ground).
I'd also like to add in Milan Native. He's unexposed and could improve for a step up in trip. I also like the jockey booking

9 units on Cloth Cap at 16/1 (153)
6 units on Champagne Platinum at 6/1 (he's 7/1 on BF) (42)
2.5 units on Diese Aba at 8/1 (18)
1 unit on Militarian at 40/1 (41)
1.5 unit on Milan Native at 18/1 (28)

I expect the ground to be riding a fair bit quicker tomorrow.

Not only has there been no rain for the past 2 days - they will be switching to the new course and consequently, fresh ground.

I would still expect it to be on the soft side - but probably no more than that.

There are 3 handicaps (one more than I originally thought !) - and they all have a decent shape.


Historically this has been the race for plot jobs !
That’s not been quite so much the case in recent years - but I still would prefer one who has hidden his light under a bushel :)

The Storyteller (11/2) looks the biggest plot job in the race !
Davy rode a masterful race to get him into sixth place in the Leopardstown qualifier over Christmas (the first 6 home, qualify for the final).
The handicapper hasn’t really played ball by giving him a mark 7lb higher than in Ireland - but he’s only 2lb higher than when bolting up in the 2018 plate.
The only issue with him, is the price…

Third Wind (11/1) has won 4 of his 5 runs over hurdles - and could still be improving.
He took the EBF final at the back end of last season - and that is always a very strong race.
He’s yet to race over tomorrows trip - but he’s been strong at the finish over half a mile shorter and may well improve for it.

Tout est Permis (20/1) is rated just 5lb lower than The Storyteller over fences - but gets 13lb from him tomorrow.
There is no doubt that he is potentially very well handicapped over hurdles - if things click.
In fairness, he’s not run badly on his 3 tries - just not as well as might have been expected.
The booking of a decent 7lb claimer (Eoin Walsh) is an interesting move.

Rapper (25/1) is a bit of value (at the moment !).
He was beaten just under 2 lengths by Skandiberg last time - but gets a 3lb pull (so there should be little between them).
He also gets Richard Johnson in the saddle - which is rarely a bad thing !
He still has potential as a stayer and I would expect him to run well.

Rocket Lad (33/1) is in danger of becoming an enigma !
I tipped him on his penultimate run at Cheltenham, when he cantered into the lead - but then just kept on cantering (whilst his rivals all ran their hearts out !).
He didn’t do much better last time at Musselburgh - and something doesn’t add up…
I would never tip him - but the matrix method will enable me to save stakes on him (as if he wins, I’ll go crazy !)


Ideally you want a prominent racer in this.
It’s a very big field - and there is rarely much room.
If you are stuck out the back, not only are you more of a hostage to fortune - you may also struggle to pick a path through.

Simply the Betts (7/2) is blindingly obvious - but can’t really be left off any short list.
On his most recent outing, he was an impressive winner of a strong novice handicap chase, over course and distance.
The runner-up was Imperial Aura - and he really franked the form on Tuesday (and in so doing, crushed the price of Simply the Betts !).
The price is way too short (and I mean, way too short) - but I’ll see how it looks in the  morning…

Le Bague au Roi (14/1) is a horse that I’m very fond of.
I put her up for this race in the ante-post section on the forum - and whilst I couldn’t go mad on her, I do think she has a chance.
Certainly her style of racing will help her keep out of trouble - and she is perfectly suited to an aggressive Dicky ride.

Robin des Foret (16/1) finished third in the Caspian Caviar gold cup, at the December meeting.
He cantered into the race that day, looking sure to win - but was outstayed up the hill.
There is no doubt that he has been a weak finisher - so a recent wind op looks a very interesting move.
If it was his breathing that was stopping him from finishing his races, he should go very close.

Vision des Flos (22/1) is a potentially well handicapped horse.
He is rated 8lb higher over hurdles than he is over fences - and he is more than capable of running to his hurdle rating.
Whether he will be able to run to the same level over fences - particularly in a big field handicap - is open to debate.
It’s also a concern that Colin Tizzards horses haven’t been firing this week.
However, all of that is factored into his price - and if things do drop right for him, he has the ability to go very close.


This is another race which tends to be won by horses that have been plotted up.
The other big factor, is the booking of the main amateur jockeys - specifically, Derek O’Connor and Jamie Codd.

Champagne Platinum (9/2) ticks the 2 key boxes: he looks to have been plotted up - and he’s ridden by Derek O’Connor.
There’s a big question mark over his jumping in such a large field - but if anyone can get him round, it’ll be Derek !
He’s completely unexposed, so really could be anything - and a mark of 138 might under-estimate his ability by some margin.

Diese Aba (8/1) was a good winner, last time at Sandown.
The penny seems to have dropped with his jumping - and whilst he was raised 7lb for that win, there could easily be more to come.
Trip and ground should be fine for him, so I would expect him to run well.

Cloth Cap (20/1) is a horse who has been on my radar all season.
He caught my eye on his seasonal debut at Chepstow - and has run well in his 2 subsequent outings.
However, I suspect he is a fair bit better on good ground - and he’s yet to encounter that this season.
There’s a chance it will be too soft for him again tomorrow - but if it isn’t he will definitely go close.

Militarian (50/1) won a fair race at Ascot, in November.
He’s been unplaced on 3 runs since - but as a result, has edged back down the handicap.
He’s now only 2lb higher than he was for the win - and he shaped with definite promise over an inadequate trip, last time.
He’s maybe more exposed than ideal - but a wind op might bring about some improvement and I would expect him to run a good race.