Time For A New Order

Time For A New Order

For those who can remember a string of Gold Cups where the main protagonists never repeated that form, last season’s renewal has an old fashioned feel about it. Bobs Worth, Long Run & The Giant Bolster have been very disappointing this season and Sir Des Champs crashed out early in the Durkan. With Bobs Worth (9/4) and Sir Des Champs (100/30) taking out so much of the Lexus market – if they won’t repeat last season’s form, there must be loads of value in the race.

In Sir Des Champs case it’s worth noting that, in Willie Mullins own words, his staying chasers usually improve 10lb between the Lexus and Irish Hennessy. Of his 11 runners in the last decade none has even achieved a place in the Lexus. In the same period, Mullins’ horses have won 5 of the 10 Irish Hennessys. Rubi Ball (12/1) is the unknown quantity but was disappointing when beaten by Foildubh (66/1) over hurdles despite getting 10lb. With the Mullins yard’s record in this, he can’t be backed. Unioniste (7/1) was beaten in a poor Charlie Hall, (might have needed the run,) and then won an ordinary listed race at Aintree. Whilst this probably isn’t as strong a race as it looks, he doesn’t appear Grade 1 material.

First Lieutenant (11/2) is another one who had plenty of hard races last season, and his profile is that of a horse who improves throughout the season. He was only just chinned in this last season though and it would be no surprise to see him improve greatly on 2 disappointing runs so far this season. However, Mouse Morris had only 2 winners in November and has had 1 so far in December so there’s a bit of a concern about yard form. He’s not the backable price I thought he might be.

Understanding trainers’ vibes is an important part of punting – some trainers are always bullish about their horses, others invariably down play their chances. Lord Windermere (12/1) is Jim Culloty’s first good horse so he’s not easy to interpret. Culloty was incredibly positive before the Hennessy and if he was going to win a Lexus, then Lord Windermere should have been in the mix at Newbury off 154. The fact he was well beaten, (being hampered by a faller only a partial excuse,) has meant that he’s been largely dismissed in the market here. However, he didn’t shine at the start of last season and it may have been that he needed the run at Newbury.

He beat Unioniste easily in the RSA and Unioniste hasn’t set the world alight this season, yet is little more than half Lord Windermere’s price. Lord Windermere is not the most solid proposition, but if you forgive him his Newbury run, he does look really good value. With so many doubts around those at the front of the market I’m going to give him another chance as I think that the staying chase division is going to be dominated by those who didn’t fight out the finish of last year’s Gold Cup.

1pt Lord Windermere to win the Lexus @ 12/1

I love big handicaps where top horses run. It’s often a better indication of how good they are then beating inferior horses at levels and it also keeps more unexposed horses out of the handicap proper, presenting a different punting challenge. In the Welsh National, last season’s Lexus winner Tidal Bay (20/1) competes off 163, having been dropped 8lb since not being competitive in the Betfair Chase. 3m5f on bad ground should suit him much better and though it’s only a few days before he becomes a teenager, he looked to retain plenty of ability when winning a Grade 2 hurdle at Wetherby - he has a chance.

With the handicap very compressed by his presence, (137 gets in on 10-0), that really favours those rated in the 140s or more, who might usually be giving lots of weight away to unexposed types rated in the 120s and 130s. Since Carvill’s Hill hacked up off 172 twenty years ago, only 3 horses have run off a mark of 160 or more. The last time, (5 years ago Halcon Genelardais ran off 164), the winner was Notre Pere, a Grade 1 winning novice running off 152. Tidal Bay’s presence really gives the higher rated horses a chance.

Merry King (10/1) and Highland Lodge (19/2) had tough races in the Hennessy, and this has traditionally been a graveyard for Hennessy runners. Goonyella (8/1) has just the right profile for this but Jim Dreaper seemed concerned about the impact of travelling and I’m not that keen on backing horses at shortish prices for this sort of event. Hawkes Point (10/1) is interesting as the presence of his stablemate gets him in dead on 10-0, but he does need to improve a lot to win.

The one I like is Hey Big Spender (25/1) who is a class act on heavy ground. A 4lb penalty for winning the Rehearsal Chase gets him in off 10-7 (144). It’s obviously not ideal that some of the Tizzard horses have had a virus, but plenty have been running well, including Hey Big Spender, whose win in the Rehearsal off 140, came over an inadequate trip (3m), on unsuitably good ground. He won the 3m5f Classic Chase at Warwick off 156 at the start of last year and with trip and ground ideal, he looks really well in here off 12lb lower, (officially 4lb well in). It’s not often that a 10 year old wins this, (Riverside Boy 20 years ago was the last,) but Tidal Bay is keeping a lot of young, unexposed types out of the handicap, which hugely improves Hey Big Spender’s chance.

1pt Hey Big Spender to win the Welsh National @ 25/1

The Grade 1 Challow novice hurdle at Newbury (2m5f, heavy) is almost always won by an embryonic 3 miler. The likes of Denman, Wichita Lineman, Reve De Sivola and Diamond Harry have won in recent years, whilst Grade 1 horses over shorter, Finian’s Rainbow and Al Ferof, were beaten. With the ground testing as it often is, we’re looking for a classy sort who might be a World Hurdle or Gold Cup type one day – not the sort of fast horse that wins the equivalent race, (the Neptune,) at the Festival.

The British novice Grade 1s in the winter are harder to predict than the Irish equivalents, as the maidens and ungraded novices are much less competitive. That makes it harder to get a handle on the form and the Challow isn’t the sort of race to be dogmatic about. I’d been impressed with Oscar Rock when annihilating a subsequent winner at Wetherby and it might be that he bumped into a top class horse in Ballyalton next time. However, he didn’t find much off the bridle and 5/2 is a bit short given all that.

Visually, Shantou Magic (6/1) has been one of the most impressive British novices, bolting up in a strong looking novice at Fontwell and then powering clear of an ordinary field mid-race at Market Rasen. He goes well on soft ground and looks like the sort of embryonic 3 miler that does so well in this. He’s worth a small bet.

1pt Shantou Magic to win the Challow Hurdle @ 6/1

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Cheltenham Countdown

Welcome to our exclusive betting blog focusing on the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

For the third year running, we welcomed National Hunt expert Matt Tombs to blog all things Cheltenham through the winter. The highlight was Jezki's Champion Hurdle win, which was a vindication of a long-term plot and went some way to ensuring another Festival in profit. Click through to view the archive of 2012 and 2013.


2014 Results:


Western Boy - Supreme Novices - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Zamdy Man - Supreme Novices - 1pt 33/1 - N/R

Ted Veale - Arkle - 1pt e/w 25/1 NRNB - U/P

Felix Yonger - Arkle - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Jezki - Champion Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Cockney Sparrow - Mares Hurdle - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Foxrock - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 9/2 - U/P

Gullinbursti - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 33/1 NRNB - N/R


Rathvinden - Neptune Novices - 1pt e/w 16/1 - 3rd

Corrin Wood - RSA Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Ifandbutwhynot - Coral Cup - 1pt 28/1 - U/P

Arvika Ligeonniere - Champion Chase - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Balthazar King - Cross Country - 1pt 33/1 - WON

Modus - Champion Bumper - 1pt 10/1 - U/P


Mozoltov - JLT Novices Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Champagne Fever - JLT Novices Chase - 1pt 7/1 - N/R

Benefficient - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 9/2 - U/P

Baily Green - Ryanair Chase - 1pt e/w 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Salubrious - World Hurdle - 1pt e/w 25/1 - U/P


Captain Cutter - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - County Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - 2nd

The Giant Bolster - Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - 3rd

Dynaste - Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 NRNB - N/R

Certain Flight - Foxhunter Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P


Gigginstown - Top Owner - 1pt 7/1 - WON

Good Ground - Official Going - 1pt 10/1 - LOST


Advised Bets:

Sizing Gold - Aon Novice Handicap Chase - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

On The Fringe - Champion Hunters Chase - 1pt 7/4 - WON

At Fishers Cross - World Series Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - 3rd

Balder Succes - Ryanair Novice Chase - 1pt 11/4 - 3rd

Art Of Logistics - Three.ie Handicap Chase - 1pt 12/1 - 2nd

Lyreen Legend - Punchestown Gold Cup - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Shanahan's Turn - Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P

Mozoltov - Boylesports.com Champion Chase - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Western Boy - Champion Novice Hurdle - 1pt e/w 10/1 - U/P

Mullaghanoe River - Irish National - 1pt 18/1 - U/P

Mozoltov - Powers Gold Cup - 1pt 11/2 - U/P

Quito De La Roque - Grand National - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Salubrious - Liverpool Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Ted Veale - Maghull Chase - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Saint Are - Aintree Handicap Chase - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Melling Chase - 1pt 7/1 - 3rd

King Of The Picts - Top Novices Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 - 3rd

Themanfrom Minella - Sefton Novices Hurdle - 1pt 50/1 - U/P

Giorgio Quercus - Topham Chase - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Dynaste - Betfred Bowl - 1pt 15/8 - 2nd

Turn Over Sivola - Red Rum Chase - 1pt 8/1 - 2nd

Uxizandre - Manifesto Novices Chase - 1pt 9/2 - WON

Mossey Joe - Aintree Fox Hunters - 1pt 13/8 - 3rd

Baby Shine - Reynoldstown Chase - 1pt 7/1 - U/P

Grumeti - Kingwell Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

Bog Warrior - Red Mills Chase - 1pt 9/4 - U/P

Lord Windermere - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Vautour - Deloitte Novice - 1pt 2/1 - WON

Tammys Hill - Hunters Chase - 1pt e/w 5/1 - WON

Vendor - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Boston Bob - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 5/1 - U/P

The Giant Bolster - Argento Chase - 1pt 7/1 - WON

Unioniste - Sky Bet Chase - 1pt 9/2 - 3rd

Hidden Cyclone - Clarence House Chase - 1pt 7/2 - 2nd

Captain Chris - WH Chase - 1pt 2/1 - WON

The Liquidator - Tolworth Hurdle - 1pt 5/2 - U/P

Lord Windermere - Lexus Chase - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Hey Big Spender - Welsh National - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Shantou Magic - Challow Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Morning Assembly - Topaz Novice Chase - 1pt 9/4 - 2nd

Cue Card - King George - 1pt 7/2 - 2nd

My Tent Or Yours - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 5/4 - WON

Defy Logic - Racing Post Novice Chase - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Salubrious - Long Walk Hurdle - 1pt 9/1 - 2nd

Totalize - The Ladbroke - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Ma Filleule - December Gold Cup - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Prince De Beauchene - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Grumeti - Fighting Fifth - 1pt e/w 10/1 - 3rd @ 9/1

Sizing Rio - Drinmore - 1pt 5/2 - U/P @ 3/1

Jezki - Hatton's Grace - 1pt Evens - WON

Roi Du Mee - Betfair Chase - 1pt e/w 20/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 8/1 - U/P

Gift Of Dgab - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Cash And Go - Greatwood Hurdle - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Cotton Mill - Elite Hurdle - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Cue Card - Haldon Gold Cup - 2pts 11/8 - U/P

Benefficient - Charlie Hall Chase - 1pt 9/1 - U/P

Sizing Europe - JNwine Champion Chase - 1pt 3/1 - 2nd

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