Back Silvergrove at 80/1 for the Grand National

national_jumpersSilvergrove was moved to Ben Pauling’s yard last season and should have been 3 from 3 going into the Cheltenham Festival. On his debut for Pauling he unshipped his rider when leading on the run in after the saddle separated from its tree.  He went on to win at Newbury and Kempton then headed to Cheltenham  for the Kim Muir. In that race he disputed the lead throughout, jumping superbly (his trainer says he’s the best jumper he has handled), but paid for being in the van by fading late to finish 3rd of 22 carrying 11.5

Pauling (better know for training Barters Hill) must get him a higher handicap mark to guarantee a run in the National and the trainer says he will attempt to do that in the Becher Chase over the National fences in December. If successful there, Pauling says he will not be seen again until the weights are published.

Silvergrove will be 9 come National day. He has the pace to be up there early and avoid trouble, though will probably need to be ridden more conservatively than in the Kim Muir. His jumping is sound, he is improving (he’s improved, officially, by 23 lbs since joining Pauling) and he’d be too big a price at 40/1 never mind 80/1 – Bet 365.

Good luck, and remember that ante-post betting can be a hazardous pursuit!



Fox Norton top value at 50/1 for Champion Chase

binocularsA thirty-grand two-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham today and Fox Norton could be called the winner well before they turned down the hill: he was absolutely tanking along. He threw some athletic, energetic leaps, even late in the race and his handicap mark should go up at least 10lbs to 156. That would still leave him a fair bit short of the mark of a normal Champion Chase winner, but he’s only 6 and looks to have come on a ton since last year.

Douvan is 1/1 fav for the Champion Chase just now, but given what can happen between now and then plus Willie’s penchant for changing a horse’s target, I think 50/1 Fox Norton is a good value bet to keep you warm between now and March.

His form suggests he might benefit substantially from a long rest between races and Nick Williams, who used to train him said early last year that he doesn’t want too much racing. Yet, he had a busy season, and finished 3rd in The Arkle.

Also, it might be that proper good ground is important to him and Cheltenham will open on good to soft at best, as it always does (the Champion Chase is on day 2).

Still, a wee bet at 50s represents value, even with those caveats. And, going by my experience, a wee bet is all you will get at 50/1. The only established bookmaker displaying that price is Bet365 who offered me a maximum of £2.50 ( yes, £2.50, not £25.00).

Good luck


This Cheltenham Fence Move Just doesn’t Add Up

cheltenham logoCheltenham’s new season started today. Over the summer, the second-last fence has been moved ‘seven or eight yards’ (Sophia Dale, Cheltenham’s communications manager) closer to the last fence. The fence had only been in-site for 6 years having been moved 239 yards in 2010 from its former position near the foot of the hill before the turn into the straight.

The key reason for the move appears to be that 6 horses fell at the fence at this year’s festival. Cheltenham offered a comparative figure of an average of 3.4 fallers ‘there, between 2007 and 2016’: I assume this is up to and including the 2015 festival, but that is not clear. Nor is it clear why 2007, 08, 09, 10 have been included in the 3.4 figure as the fence was not in position for those festivals.  What might complicate matters further is that from the season the re-sited second-last first came into use (2010/11), runners in races over two miles and two and a half miles had an extra fence to jump.

The less cynical side of me assumes the figures are a communications malfunction and are linked to some of the figures associated with the 4th last fence on the New Course which has also had its position ‘adjusted’. No doubt the executive will clarify at some point. But could there be another reason?

Sophia Dale said, “The faller figures at both fences have been slightly creeping up, so we spoke to the PJA [Professional Jockeys Association], who had given us some feedback anyway, and moved the fence to give the horses a bit more time to get themselves together when they come off the bend.”  Despite possible conflation of casualty figures, it is clear from reference to the bend that, in this quote, SD is talking about the second-last. I wonder what was in that feedback from the PJA, and was it sought or offered?

2010 Move

After the move of the fence into the straight in 2010, jockeys who were asked to test it at what appears to have been a media day said this:

Brennan said: “The ground has never been better and the new fence could not be in a better place. You will still get fallers as it is the second last but they won’t be so severe.”

Sam Waley-Cohen said: “The fence is beautifully presented and I look forward to coming down to it on Long Run.”

Carl Llewellyn said: “I think the fence will be a great improvement – it rides nicely off the bend with plenty of room between the two fences. It will be safer all round.”

By the way, three horses had come down at the fence that morning in the ‘test’. Simon Claisse appeared to assign that to the jockeys having jumped it so well the first time, they were keen to have another go. Claisse:

“They jumped the plain fence and ditch on the back straight and came down the hill over the third last. They were going very fast and seven horses came around the corner – Paddy Brennan, Carl Llewellyn, David England, Sam Waley-Cohen and Sam Twiston-Davies were among those riding – and the bend rode beautifully and they jumped the fence.

“We were happy but Nigel’s gang wanted to do it again. So they went back up the hill to the third last and one of the senior jockeys who is now retired said they went off with their tails on fire.

“We could hear them coming and the first horse hit the fence pretty hard and fell and brought down two others. So we had three jockeys and horses on the deck – fortunately they all got up and were fine and they made some positive remarks about what we had done.”


After that Showcase meeting in 2010, Claisse seemed pleased:

From website:

The fence was jumped 118 times over the two day meeting with only two fallers and a hampered and unseated rider . Claisse said that “the old second last was responsible for 75% of fallers last year so this is a big difference .”

Let’s go back to that ‘seven or eight yards’ difference mentioned by Sophia Dale. In 2010, journalist Jeremy Grayson wrote on the The Racing Forum that he’d read in Robert Thornton’s Racing Post column that Thornton was :

…delighted to discover horses get 15 strides between turn in and the second last fence, then another 16 to the last. Evidently a bit more space to play with than anyone, myself included, had necessarily reckoned with.

I can’t find that original Thornton quote on the RP site, but I have immense respect for Jeremy and am happy to take his word for it.

So, 15 strides from the turn-in now becomes 16 strides, leaving only 15 strides to the last; we must wait and see what effect that has. And does that single stride that’s been gained really make such a difference? Could it be that the faller figures “slightly creeping up” (SD), could be something to do with the way the fence is being ridden? If so, what will jockeys use their extra stride for?

Or might it be that the fence was sited wrongly in 2010? Was it perhaps an error that Cheltenham were reluctant to admit to relatively soon after the change was made? Cheltenham’s communications error (or obfuscation) today certainly hasn’t helped. One prominent journalist was fobbed off when requesting more information on the figures, apparently with the excuse it was a busy raceday today.

I suspect all is not as it seems here.

I’ll leave the Racing Post‘s Nic Doggett to sign off with a highly prescient piece from six years ago, written just after the Paddy Power meeting.


A lot has been written about the re-siting of the infamous second last but from the evidence of this meeting the historically troublesome obstacle is still just that.

Two fallers in the Novices’ Chase won by Wayward Prince brought the total number of fallers at the new fence to seven, a whopping 50% of all fallers at the track since it was moved.

Fences late in a race will always be responsible for tired fallers, however I cannot help but wonder whether the new position is at an awkward spot for horses because of its proximity to the stand.

The noise and sight of the grandstands really hit you when turning for home and this must be distracting for horses. Couple this with tiredness. Then add in what appears to be a landing area that looks slightly too low, and I think it will continue to cause problems.

The worry is that it’s hard to move the fence further up the run-in because then you’d have an inadequate gap between the final two fences, but put it back much and it’s too close to the bend.

This looks likely to run on and on, I suppose much like the argument over the old siting did, and I can’t think think of any easy solutions. Can you?


Depression, jockeys, inflammation and guts

binocularsA brief post on National Mental Health Day about potential physical contributors to ‘mental illness’.

I’ve written before about my wife Margy who has vast experience from a patient’s viewpoint.  Much of the coverage about jockeys focuses on the ups and downs of losing,  the rigours of travelling and diet and injuries.  Margy’s psychiatrist, a go-ahead, committed and curious professional (he is one of the few in his business who advocates ECT when he considers it appropriate: many psychiatrists see it as a last resort), has strong theories linking physical causes to poor mental health. He believes one of the culprits to be inflammation, and he is not alone in that.

My medical knowledge is limited, but it seems obvious that injuries can cause inflammation in the body. Whether that can migrate to the brain I don’t know. But it might be worth some research on behalf of jockeys and others involved in contact sports. Perhaps the PJA could take a look at it?

Another interesting theory from Margy’s psychiatrist, and one that he seems pretty excited about, is a link between the health of the gastrointestinal tract and depression. His research suggests that people with good GI tract health rarely suffer mental health problems.  Just another consideration, given the eating restrictions many jockeys face. Another research subject for the PJA?

We seem to be going the right way. Losing the stigma of admitting to mental health problems is a huge step. The more sufferers who are open about it, the less of a stigma it becomes. The less of a stigma, the more people will talk. And, crucially, it might just be that it’s not some invisible ‘mental’ health demon that can’t be nailed down. The physical issues mentioned above might prove to be the main cause: inflammation, gut health, the overall effect on the immune system.  If something physical can be identified as a key contributor, we’ll be much closer to an effective solution.


In defence of Mick Fitzgerald

FitzyPoor old Mick, friendless in this world of social media critics. Since the announcement of his inclusion in the ITV team, I’ve read nothing but brickbats. I hope Mick kept a hold of his body protector when he retired from riding.

As a broadcaster, I think he’s improved two stones since he started. He’s almost always relaxed, comfortable and confident when they cut to him (he has the odd blip as they all do, even Clare). He’s lost that early rabbit in the headlights look and concentrates much more on his interviewee and encourages responses.

Although talkative by nature, he seems to me more thoughtful these days about what he says – which is where he seems to come in for most flak. But what do people want from him? He can’t be insightful and incisive about every horse; he talks about dozens of them every day. They each have a head and a tail and a jockey and form which is usually not dissimilar to everything else in the race. He’s not dissecting the plans for the Hadron Collider.

To those who think it’s easy, try this: go and get an empty bottle and set it bottom towards you on a shelf eyeline-high. Now talk to it about racing for a minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition. You will not get through ten seconds before you’re a blubbering wreck.

On a separate note, Nick Luck will be a huge loss, I think. His only failing seems to be in the eyes of class warriors for his appearance, accent and lucidity. He’ll be sorely missed.

Anyway, it’s all heading south. ITV’s four years will, I believe, be the swansong for racing as a terrestrially broadcast sport. It’ll end up having been on TV for about as long as I’ve been around, and maybe, like an old salmon coming home to die, ITV will prove a welcoming and appropriate final resting place.

We should all stop complaining and savour the coming end of an era.

Depression: Margy’s story

Margy McNally

Margy McNally

My wife Margy has suffered poor mental health since her teenage years. In light of the Kieren Fallon news and some social media comment, I thought I’d talk here about some of our experiences – Margy’s and mine – in the hope of casting some light.  In 2006, after spending 10 months in a psychiatric unit, Margy decided she’d always take the opportunity to talk about depression and mental health.  It’s her contribution to trying to remove the social stigma and increase understanding.

There are some cliches among sufferers:  ‘If you have a broken leg, at least people can see and understand.’ ‘I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.’ On the latter, Margy said it to a fellow patient in the unit and he said, ‘I actually wish everybody could suffer it for just one hour.’

It’s impossible to explain unless you’ve experienced it. It’s nothing to do with ‘being crazy’ or pulling yourself together, and there are rarely events which can be nailed to explain the source of poor mental health (I generalise with ‘mental health’: it covers a broad range. Margy’s diagnosis is ‘severe anxiety and depression with psychotic episodes’. During those episodes she becomes terror-stricken by two ‘people’ who talk to her  incessantly, always with evil intent. I found her one day in the bedroom (fortunately just in time) hitting herself in the face and head with a bottle to try and drive those voices out.

When deep depression strikes, she will simply lie in bed for days crying and apologising to me for ‘being such a burden’, despite my constant reassurances that the illness, like everything else in our lives, is ours, not hers. Sometimes we would sit on the bed by the window upstairs looking down on the road. At that time we lived a hundred metres from a cemetery.  Going through one of her good periods a few summers ago, I came across Margy sitting there watching a funeral go past. I sat down beside her. She said quietly, ‘You have no idea the number of times I’d watch the hearse go by and wish above all else that I was the one in the coffin.’

On the severe anxiety aspect of Margy’s illness, I once tried to get some idea of its depth. I asked if she could try to explain to me what it was like. Again, she stared for a while out of that window and said, ‘I wake up in the morning and as soon as I come to, a voice says to me “the worst thing that could ever happen to you is going to happen and it’s going to happen very, very soon. The voice says the same thing all the time, all day, until I can sleep again.”

I tell you all this not to sensationalise, not to seek sympathy, but to try to help you understand…to try to chisel away just some of the stigma. To urge those who need help to see their GP now and if the GP can’t or won’t help, get a new GP.

Much of the treatment is based on getting the correct medication mix and dose. Margy’s pharmacist once told me there are 64 different types of anti-depressant. The solution is often a cocktail of these and dosage is crucial; after almost three years, the professionals got Margy to a stage where her medication allowed her to live a comparatively peaceful life. These days, she has ECT treatment, which has helped greatly (it works for some people, but can have negative effects on others).

Recent research, thank goodness, has revealed that there might well be physiological causes to many mental health problems – inflammation somewhere in the brain looks as though it could be playing a part. I hope this research goes somewhere. Not just because it should lead to quicker and more effective solutions, but because it will, at last, offer a physical cause, something that people can identify with. Something that removes the stigma, the pull yourself togethers, the suspicions of childhood trauma, or lack of success in your career.

That stigma stops many from seeking treatment. Fear of stigmatization prevents people telling their doctors; they don’t want it on record for employers, or insurance companies, or maybe legal cases at some future point. So they suffer in silence and sometimes that silence and suffering leads to suicide and the stigma deepens.

It’s time to talk about it. It’s time to try to understand it. It’s time to stop condemning people like Kieren Fallon for not turning up for a ride. The chances are that Kieren wasn’t sitting lazily on a riverbank in the sun. He might have been in a darkened room somewhere, watching hearses pass, and wishing.



Time for racing press solidarity in backing stable staff

handsCredit to Lee Mottershead and Kevin Blake for recent articles on the plight of stable staff in the UK and Ireland. Last week was Stable Staff week, an initiative backed by Racing Welfare, a charity dedicated to raising money to support racing’s workforce, and Betfair, (not a charity) dedicated to raising money for its shareholders.

Google does not reveal who came up with the idea for Stable Staff week, but the originator is entitled to the benefit of my doubt. I dislike seeing year-round issues being ‘highlighted’ by a special day or week. Even if it is meant to raise awareness, too often it becomes an opportunity for conscience-salving that’s restricted on a midnight to midnight basis. “I put a fiver in the tin.”  “I retweeted that plea.” “I wrote an article.”

And the whole concept, at industry level, is founded on a disingenuous premise: “Stable staff are the backbone of the industry.” “Our staff are our greatest asset.”  “We value the commitment and dedication of our staff.”  Er, no you don’t, or they’d be better paid, have more days off and fewer horses to do. What you really value is the capacity for a thoroughbred to enchant the human spirit; to give a boy or girl something to cling to, to dream of, to take meaning from and some hope. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a trade-off, and one that enough lads are still willing to accept. Lads who, I suspect, would rather the industry acknowledged this than dress it up in corporate speak.

But where something extra can be done, perhaps it should be, especially by racecourses. Lee and Kevin mention in their articles how tracks treat staff with regard to recognition of achievements. Some tracks treat stable staff superbly. Most tracks behave shamefully in discriminating between the professionals who work on course.

Lee’s piece, and Kevin’s are the only ones I can find which cover Stable Staff week. Perhaps it got a mention on Channel 4, I don’t know. It’s not a particularly sexy thing to campaign on and sports editors aren’t renowned for dedicating space to such causes. Still, online journalism beats newsprint on space. Column inches are unrestricted so long as you can hold the reader’s attention. But campaigning comes with responsibilities other than writing a column. The racing press, what remains of it, gets better treatment from racecourses than jockeys do, than stable staff do.

The press have a dedicated room which is, at the very least, normally warm and dry. The press badge allows free entry. The track executive provides free food and drink in most cases. The posh word is ‘complimentary’. The compliments are thinly veiled bribes to the people who write about racing, the people with a voice. “Complimentary” swings shut with the hinges of the press room door. With the exception of a handful of tracks, complimentary is not a word you will find in a stable staff canteen or even a jockeys’ changing room.

Again, campaigning comes with responsibilities beyond a dozen paragraphs once a year. Campaigners could perhaps end each racing report every day with something like this: “Free food and drink was available to the press but your correspondent declined both as the racecourse did not make the same offer to stable staff.” I’m sure their colleagues in the press room would show solidarity.  Perhaps they could even make it known to the track in advance…you never know from where a conscience might suddenly reveal itself after so many years.



Bookies are right to close accounts

hold_positionA recent report by the Horserace Bettors Forum (HBF), a relatively new body which the BHA helped put together, claims that up to 20,000 betting accounts have been closed by bookmakers in the past six months.  That’s not to say 20,000 punters have been affected; many online punters have multiple accounts.

This is a bandwagon that never stalls. It is kept rolling on forums and social media by punters who range between disgruntled and apoplectic. The Guardian ran a piece yesterday and I see that a blog article by the informed and respected Kevin Blake is back doing the rounds on twitter. Kevin’s argument is long and lucid, and that length and lucidity seems to have taken in some judges who are normally more objective.

Kevin’s case is that by closing accounts, bookmakers will steadily drive away highly informed and dedicated racing folk from the sport, thus damaging racing.

Here is his case for the prosecution, along with my comments:


Where this stops being just a problem for a sector of the betting public and becomes a potentially major problem for the entire racing industry is here.

The group that bet restrictions and account closures affect the most may not be big in number in the overall context of the entire punter population, but they are one of the most important groups of all racing followers, passionate racing enthusiasts that have the made the long-term commitment to grow their knowledge to an extent that enables them to bet successfully on the sport.

Those customers are exceptionally difficult to attract from scratch and those that we already have should be cherished and looked after by the racing industry.

Why should they be ‘cherished and looked after’? Racing’s levy income is a percentage of the profits bookmakers make from bets on racing. Punters who ‘bet successfully on the sport’ reduce that income.

However, there is little doubt in my mind that bet restrictions are the single biggest source of frustration for this highly-valuable group of people and my fear is that if the situation doesn’t change, they will be frustrated into reducing their interest in betting on racing.

Again, ‘highly valuable’ to whom?

The dangers of this should be obvious, given that racing’s share of the overall betting pie has already been significantly reduced in the last 15 years due to the ever-growing popularity of sports betting and online casino-style games.

Racing’s share of the betting pie has indeed been reduced, and yes, much of that reduction is down to the actions of bookmakers in promoting other betting ‘opportunities’. The main reason bookmakers have done this is because racing has become a very expensive product for them, especially in betting shops.

The normal costs of business on the High Street are onerous for many retailers. Bookmakers have the added burden of media rights payments to racecourses (for live pictures and commentary), and the Levy payments. High Street bookies do well to make between 1% and 2% net profit from racing. Why wouldn’t they try to promote other products with a much higher margin?

Kevin acknowledges this:

An even bigger development in Great Britain has been the introduction of extremely lucrative fixed-odds betting terminals in 2001. Such low-risk high-turnover betting mediums are far more attractive betting products for bookmakers than horse racing. They are also much cheaper for bookmakers, as horse racing costs bookmakers many millions in media and data rights.

Indeed, a cynic might suggest that it would suit the interests of bookmakers just fine if punters continued to turn away from horse racing and towards other betting mediums, but horse racing cannot afford to lose such valuable customers.

I’m afraid customers are only valuable in the business sense if they contribute cash to the sport. Yes, let’s have more of them by making racing a much more attractive product for bookmakers to promote. Make a start by slashing media rights costs.

Given just how vital media/data rights and the funds generated by betting tax/levy are to the funding of horse racing at both sides of the Irish Sea, anyone with an interest in the future of horse racing needs to sit up and take notice of this issue, as the long-term consequences for what is going on should be clear to everyone.

If bookmakers continue to be allowed to conduct their businesses are they are, effectively making it very difficult for anyone with a clue a fair shake at making a profit by betting on horse racing, the future effects on betting turnover on horse racing could be very serious.

To use an old cliche, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. There is no point increasing turnover by 500% if it cuts profits by 5%.

A further drop in betting turnover on horse racing will not only detrimentally effect betting tax/levy takes, but it will inevitably lead to a drop in value of media/data rights that play such a prominent role in racing’s finances. In that event, closures of racecourses and prize money reductions would be inevitable.

If a turnover drop affects media rights, that might actually be helpful for racing. Media rights payments do not go to ‘racing’ as some collective body, they go to racecourses (because the BHA foolishly surrendered commercial fixture rights to tracks). So those profiting from huge media rights income are the likes of Jockey Club Racecourses and Arena Racing Company who between them own 30 racecourses.  Yes, they put some cash back in by way of prize money (especially JCR), but they are at liberty to use their income as they see fit – as, of course, are the remaining 29 racecourses.

Kevin Blake’s suggestion as a possible solution to account closures:

A very curious precedent has recently been set in Australia. Last year, officials in New South Wales introduced a minimum bet that bookmakers must accept, with bookmakers with turnover of more than AUS$5 million being obliged to lay a punter to lose AUS$2,000 at a city meeting and AUS$1,000 at country fixtures, while bookmakers with less than AUS$5 million turnover will have to lay their customers to lose AUS$1,000 on all thoroughbred meetings.

All of these conditions apply to bets placed online or on the phone from 9am on the day of an afternoon meeting and from 2pm in the case of an evening meeting. This ruling was greeted with great criticism from local bookmakers, but almost a year on from its introduction, the vibes from Down Under is that it is working well for both punters and bookmakers.

The key difficulty in the above system is that once your account has been closed, you cannot bet at any price.  Even for those whose accounts are still open, the above is not a cure-all; here is an extract from the terms and conditions on the NSW policy (italics mine):

“All punters are entitled to the price publicly displayed in the wagering operator’s latest betting market on their website or betting board. The only time a changed price can be offered after a punter places a bet is if the official APN price had just changed or another bet has been layed at the original price and the wagering operator is adjusting the price, which will flow through to their website or betting board. Time log records can be checked to confirm this process.”

So, if 2/1 is on display for your selection, by the time you click ‘bet’, the price might have changed as the algorithms alter the price according to stakes arriving from punters elsewhere. This effectively renders the guarantee useless.

Perhaps the most practical point to make in the face of this rolling bandwagon is this: what would you do if you were running the business?  No company bars people from whom it can make a profit. Yes, some ‘innocents’ will be caught in the crossfire of algorithms that are constantly being refined, but all in all, bookies must be happy that they have got them just about right.

Also, there is a legal aspect to this. Company directors are legally obliged to act in the best interests of their shareholders. If they are aware of a tool which can be used to help protect shareholder funds, they must use it, unless they can construct a convincing argument against doing so. I’ve yet to see anyone make such an argument, and lest you think I’m a bookmaker’s advocate, I too have been ‘restricted’ in my betting (though I have never had an account closed).

I’ve been in bookmaking and racing  all my working life and the bookie side has been much maligned, wrongly so in my opinion. Bookmakers are, in the main honourable people running a very tough business. I’d be just as willing to criticise them when I think they are wrong (like the Grand National day nonsense of silly and greedy overrounds). But in this case, they are doing what any sensible business person would do. If critics would take the emotion and self-interest out of it, I believe they would concede this.

Supreme. Unbeaten: 20/1

binocularsA week today at half past one a roar will rise from Cheltenham’s grandstands and another Festival will begin. As the sound rolls down the track to the galloping horses, it’s possible that there will be just one among them who will be unbeaten – Moon Racer. Three others with a rack of 1s against their name – Winter Escape, Yorkhill and Long Dog – could miss this race for other engagements, leaving Moon Racer the only runner about whom we can say ‘we don’t know how good he is.’

That’s if Moon Racer makes it to post. His last run was a year ago when he won the Champion Bumper comfortably. Training troubles have kept him off the track since, but David Pipe, his trainer, says he will declare him at the five-day stage and see how it goes. You can’t get more touch and go than that with racehorses.

But the triple winner is valuable property. His connections won’t let him run in this hottest of novice hurdles unless he is capable of winning. He hasn’t jumped a hurdle in public, but they must be happy with how he’s schooled or he’d already have been counted out.

Min is the short-priced favourite. Altior looks the key challenger from England, at least according to the betting. But Moon Racer is, I believe, the best value in the race if you bet now, because you can have 20/1 (Betfred), with a guarantee of your cash back if Moon Racer doesn’t run.

When lining up last year for the Bumper, Moon Racer hadn’t run for five months. He was backed into favourite. I believe there will be money for him again if he lines up on Tuesday.

If you want one for an each-way double at around the same price as Moon Racer, try Kilcooley in the Ryanair World Hurdle. He is another who’s had a troubled season which has kept him at home since the end of October. But he seems likely to line up against Thistlecrack on Thursday.

So, take on the two short ones with two long ones.

Good luck


Here we go again with Un Beau Roman at 33s

iStock_000009081252SmallThis fella is becoming another Rajdhani Express for me. I’m convinced he has a decent race in him; it’s just a matter of whether I have any money left by the time he finally wins.

He runs at Newbury tomorrow in the 3.25. I’ve backed him at 33/1 Betfair Sportsbook. He has two entries at Cheltenham: the Brown Advisory and the Grand Annual, and he has 10st 4lbs in each. Now, that might not guarantee him a run, as there is a safety limit in each race on the number of runners – I believe both these races are 24.  If he wins tomorrow he’ll get a 5lb penalty for doing so and that will ensure him a run at Cheltenham

At the end of last year he moved from W Mullins to a small trainer, Paul Henderson, who won with him on his second run for the yard – a Kempton Chase, which was where I first noticed him as he travelled like a real good horse off a fast pace before winning comfortably.

On his next run, he was again travelling well when he made a real bad error five out and that finished him (heavy ground didn’t help). That was a Grade 3 Handicap. His next run was in the G2 Game Spirit, where on form he looked outclassed, but I backed him anyway. He again travelled well until the principals kicked on and he was allowed to come home in his own time, never asked for any real effort.

Anyway, he travels like a good horse. I’m not saying by any means that he’s high class, but he will win a decent race. Might be tomorrow, so if you’ve followed me with him so far, you might not want to desert him now.

Just in case…you ought to have a bet on him for both his Cheltenham races with Bet 365 who offer NRNB: he’s is 66/1 for the Brown Advisory and 33/1 for the Grand Annual.

Good luck