Race Courses

I’ve been a fan of horse racing for many years now but even with that being the case, I’ve not been to a great many UK race courses. The first racecourse I ever went to was Great Yarmouth as a child. It was generally part of a weekend break down the coast; some sun, sea, sand and a bit of a flutter on the horses. Great Yarmouth may not be the most attractive of courses, but I have a tonne of good memories from there involving family and friends, and of course I’ve also had the odd big winner (I swear!).

One memory I always return to was when I managed to get on a 40-1 shot in the last race of the day, only for it to win rather impressively. I only had a fiver on it, but that was enough. I felt bad for the bookmaker to be honest as I placed my bet just before the off, and he looked to be in two minds whether to accept the bet or not. I suspect he remembers paying me out to this day!

In recent years I’ve also quite enoyed going to Newmarket, especially combining it with Newmarket nights, where they ‘very’ occasionally have an act I quite like. Chase and Status are there later this year. That should be a good’un.  Some of our most highly regarded courses include Cheltenham, Ascot, Aintree, Sandown, York, Goodwood and Epsom. Check out the wikipedia racecourses page for a complete list of British race courses.

Patience is Bitter, but its Fruit is Sweet: How to Test a Horse Racing Betting System

For the uninitiated, a horse racing betting system is a method of placing bets on horse racing according to a set of pre-defined premises or rules. Notwithstanding the vast number of variables that can incorporated, horse racing betting systems essentially fall into two categories, those that you develop yourself and those that you acquire from a third party, free of charge or for a fee.

 

In the case of third party systems, you’d hope that the supplier would be able to provide you with independently proofed results of the system in action for a period of months, or even years, including the period since it was first made available to the betting public. In other words, what you’re looking for is demonstrable proof that any system has been forward-tested, with real results, rather than just back-tested and therefore probably back-fitted to a pattern of favourable results in the past. The absence of such independently proofed results and/or rules that apparently make little, or no, logical sense are usually signs that a system has been back-fitted.

 

The ‘past performance is no guarantee of future results’ applies equally to horseracing betting systems as it does to other form of financial investment and should be your mantra when testing your own horse racing betting systems. Otherwise, you could be pinning your hopes of profitable betting on a statistical anomaly, or a series of such anomalies, in the past.

 

Once you’ve produced a list of rules on which to base your horse racing betting system, if you have the inclination, money, technical expertise and time, you can give yourself a head start by creating, or acquiring, a horse racing form database on which to test the profitability of your system. Various database offerings are available from the likes of Dataform, Proform, Raceform Interactive, Smartform and Timeform, while HorseRaceBase offers a System Builder tool that allows you to quickly test your proposed system on results for the last three seasons.

 

Nevertheless, however conscientiously you back-test your betting system, you’re still faced by the inevitable prospect of forward testing it, on paper only, for a significant period to determine if it’s as profitable as you originally thought. You can paper trade your system by recording your selections, profit and losses in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but it’s vital that you do so, accurately, until the system has generated at least one hundred selections and preferably two or three hundred.

 

At that point, you can analyse your results to determine your likely strike rate, longest losing run and return on investment when you start to bet on your selections with real money. This information is not only crucial to determining the profitability of your system, but also the size of an adequate betting bank from which to operate it. You can also calculate another simple statistic, known as the probability of negative return, which you can read about, at length, here.

 

Without the added confidence of paper trading, you may find that you lack the patience to operate your system to its full profitability. If you’ve backed tested your system with hundreds, or thousands, of past results and your first, say, half a dozen, live selections lose, you may have second thoughts and prematurely confine a perfectly viable system to the scrap heap.

 

Furthermore, paper trading will also allow you to familiarise yourself with the quirks and nuances of your system, such as the amount of work involved in arriving at selections, the typical number of selections per week and so on. You may also discover, during paper trading, that by tweaking your selection criteria slightly, you can improve the profitability of your system or tailor it more closely to your betting needs.

Horses Sleeping….

Well, and farting..

The Popularity of Horseracing

In the United Kingdom, horse racing is a hugely popular spectator sport with over six million racegoers attending meetings up and down the country throughout the year. Horseracing takes place under two codes, known as Flat racing and Jump or “National Hunt” racing. The Flat season traditionally lasts from April to October and includes the five “Classic” races, the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Derby and the St. Leger. The National Hunt season, on the other hand, traditionally lasts from October to April and includes the Cheltenham Festival, in March, and the Aintree Grand National Festival, in April.

 

Of course, much of the attraction of horseracing is its association with gambling. Horseracing has been synonymous with gambling since before the formation of the Jockey Club in the middle of the 18th century, with betting on match races, contested by just two horses, a popular pastime among the landed gentry. The legalisation of off-course betting, in 1961, led to the advent of the High Street betting shop and dramatically increased betting turnover. The economic downturn and credit crunch have inevitably had an effect on betting turnover on and off the course, but the thrill of backing a winner remains.

 

Some horseracing punters are always on the lookout for a “silver bullet” or, in other words, a system that will allow them to confidently and accurately predict the winner of any race they examine. Experienced punters recognise that no such system exists, regardless of what some systems vendors may claim, and the key to successful punting is good, honest hard work. Consistently finding winners requires delving into the past performances of most, or all, the runners in a race and is, by definition, a time-consuming process. Horseracing ratings, such as those published by Timeform or in the Racing Post, can be helpful, but they still need to be interpreted in relation to the prevailing conditions.

 

Betting on horse racing is very popular in the United Kingdom, but profitable betting requires detailed knowledge of each horse as well, of course, as luck in running. This is especially true during major horseracing events, such as the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot.

Top Ten Horse Quotes

1) My horse’s jockey was hitting the horse. The horse turns around and says “Why are you hitting me, there is nobody behind us!”
Henny Youngman

2) A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character.
Federico Tesio

3)That was the first time I saw a horse start from a kneeling position!
Henny Youngman

4) “This is really a lovely horse and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother.” Ted Walsh – Horse Racing Commentator

5) A horse is dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle.
-Ian Fleming

6) Money, horse racing and women: three things the boys just can’t figure out.
Will Rogers

7) A good jockey doesn’t need orders and a bad jockey couldn’t carry them out anyway; so it’s best not to give them any.
Lester Piggott

8) A horse doesn’t know whether the rider on his back wears a dress or pants away from the track.
Diane Crump

9) There are other things that I could do, but there’s really nothing that I love as much as horse racing. Chantal Sutherland

10)A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries. Will Rogers

Horse LOLs

A jockey is talking to the trainer ahead of the race. You got to ride him to win, the trainer says, because I’ve got a monkey on this horse, and so has my wife. Will there be any room for me?, the jockey asks.

 

I found a way to make a horse stand perfectly still. Place a bet on him.

 

 

 

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic

 

Q: You’re riding a horse full speed, there’s a giraffe right beside you, and a lion nipping at your heels. What do you do?

A: Get off the carousel and sober up.

 

His horse came in so late the jockey was wearing pajamas.

 

How did the instructor try to make horse riding enjoyable? He tried to stirrup some interest!

 

A cowboy buys a horse from the town pastor. The pastor explains, “to make the horse go, you gotta yell, ‘Thank God!’ And to make it stop, yell, ‘Hallelujah.’” The cowboy rides off. He rides all day and starts to nod off in the saddle when he notices he is about to ride straight over a cliff. Searching his memory, he yells to the horse, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” The horse grinds to a stop just at the edge of the cliff. The cowboy wipes the sweat off his forehead. ”Phew!” the cowboy sighs. “Thank God!”

Which one did Hayley Moore play in Avengers?

 

Sky Sports presenter Hayley Moore leapt into action like some kind of horse whispering superhero this week, in order to stop a loose horse. For a moment it certainly looked like an ill advised move at the Chepstow racecourse, as Moore dropped her microphone and stormed into the path of the horse. She fell to the ground, but grabbed the reins and it was soon ‘problem solved’.

“He gave me a clump there but I just couldn’t bear to see it go out on another lap so I thought we’d go for it” Joked Moore when asked about stopping three-year-old Give Em A Clump.

2.25 Chester, Wednesday, May 9

Unsurprisingly, the Cheshire Oaks (2.25) at Chester on Wednesday features a whole host of unknown quantities, but the most experienced filly in the field, Princess Yaiza, may be capable of carrying off the first prize. The daughter of Racing Post Trophy winner Casamento, who had his first three-year-olds last season, won a couple of times on the Polytrack at Dundalk last season, but ran her best race to date when a never-nearer third of 10, beaten 3 lengths, behind Mary Tudor in the Listed Salsabil Stakes at Navan 17 days ago. The performance came on yielding to soft going and the way she stayed on to claim third place in the closing stages suggested an extra furlongs-and-a-half, or so, around Chester wouldn’t be beyond her and, in fact, may bring about further improvement.

 

The winner was placed behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair Magical and Happily in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at the Curragh last August and the fourth, Sizzling, was thought good enough to run in the 1,000 Guineas last Sunday, albeit finishing last of 15 behind Billesdon Brook. Co. Meath trainer Gavin Cromwell has his string in good order, with six winners from 18 runners in the last 14 days, and Princess Yaiza is a rare runner for the yard in this sphere on this side of the Irish Sea.

 

Selection: Chester 2.25 Princess Yaiza to win 7/1

 

5.25 Southwell, Thursday, April 12

In the Collect Totepool Winnings at Betfred Shops Handicap (5.25) at Southwell on Thursday, Irish import Da Capo Dandy has discovered the winning habit since joining James Ewart in February and can defy a 6lb penalty by completing a course and distance hat-trick. The daughter of high-class sprinter Dandy Man showed precious little at two, or three, for her previous trainer James Sheehan but, having been beaten off a handicap mark of 45 in a lowly 0-50 contest over a mile on her Fibresand debut last month, has won her last two starts over course and distance in the style of an improving sort.

 

How much improvement she has left in her is questionable, but her pedigree suggests that she could be better than a 57-rated sprinter, if her trainer can kind the key to her. Furthermore, she’s displayed a good, honest attitude in both races over 6 furlongs on Fibresand, despite drifting left in the closing stages on both occasions so, with winning jockey Liam Keniry in the saddle once again, she must have a decent chance of making it 3-4 at Southwell.

 

 

Selection: Southwell 5.25 Da Capo Dandy to win 9/4

 

8.15 Wolverhampton, Thursday, March 29

In the Betway Sprint Handicap (8.15) at Wolverhampton on Thursday, Something Lucky has proved admirably consistent on Polytrack, Fibresand and Tapeta since winning an egg-and-spoon race – his first for nearly two years – at Lingfield in January and can gain just reward. Michael Appleby’s 6-year-old has yet to win on Tapeta, but was beaten just half a length, in this grade, over course and distance three starts ago, despite meeting trouble in running more than once and looks to have been found a decent opportunity to make amends.

 

The Clodovil gelding was raised 5lb in the weights for beating subsequent winner Crosse Fire at Southwell on his penultimate start but was, once again, only just denied off today’s revised mark at Chelmsford last week. He has finished outside the first three just once in 13 starts since joining Michael Appleby from Daniel Steel in December and, although he’s finished second seven times in that period, he isn’t lacking in pace. In fact, he’s already improved 26lb, and won four times, for his new yard, so it’s hard to find fault with him at all.

 

Selection: Wolverhampton 8.15 Something Lucky to win

 

3.35 Southwell, Sunday, February 25

In the Grandnational.Fans Handicap Hurdle (3.35) at Southwell on Sunday, the booking of Tom Scudamore for Kansas City Chief – his only ride of the day – takes the eye. However, Neil Mulholland’s 9-year-old was beaten, in this grade, under a 7lb penalty at Catterick last time and is another 7lb higher in the weights now the handicapper has had his say, so looks worth opposing.

 

Minella On Line is clearly a difficult horse to catch right, but ran respectably, off a handicap mark of 134, back over fences in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last month and may be able to take advantage of his 10lb lower mark over the smaller obstacles. Considering that his sole win in that sphere was over 2 miles 7½ furlongs, his third of eight, beaten 12½ lengths, behind De Rasher Counter over 2 miles 3 furlongs at Fontwell on his penultimate start wasn’t without promise. He steps back up in distance, off a 3lb lower mark, and has underfoot conditions to suit, so he has plenty going for him if in cooperative mood.

He’s beautifully bred, too, being by King’s Theatre out of a Bob Back mare, but he is nine years old now and has been pulled up on seven of his 25 starts under Rules; he’ll never be a superstar, but isn’t without ability and represents a sporting wager.

 

Selection: Southwell 3.35 Minella On Line to win

Ascot Race Course

As a location of immense enjoyment, Ascot Racecourse is one of the premium sights to see in the Berkshire area. With a fantastic arrangement of activities to say as well as some of the best racing in the country, Ascot stands alone as one of the finest out there. Founded in 1711 by the then Queen, Anne, this has gone to become one of the major racecourse across the country.

 

Known for its horse racing, It hosts 9 of the 32 Group One events across the year, making it one of the most prestigious venues to come and visit. The course itself is a major hit with the Royal Family, being just a short journey from Windsor Castle itself. With twenty-six days of racing per year, too, this is a location that sees many forms of racing with many flat and jump racing events taking place here.

 

The Gold Cup, part of the famous Royal Meeting, is one of the main reasons why people come to see Ascot, though. as races like the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes draw the crowds in massively.

 

Another major annual event is the Shergar Cup, named after the famous horse, and taking place in August. From January to December, events from the Holloway’s Hurdle to the Long Walk Hurdle ensures that this gives you one of the most exciting places to come and visit for race fans.

 

No matter when you plan on visiting, you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic form of racing, where some of the most high-quality experiences are to be enjoyed for racing fans. Definitely one for the tourists and those looking to visit the true landmarks.

 

2.10 Wolverhampton, Wednesday, April 5

In the Betway Sprint Handicap (2.10) at Wolverhampton on Wednesday, Compton River hasn’t been seen to best effect on two starts since returning from a short break, but wasn’t beaten far, off today’s mark, over course and distance in December and could be ready for a return to the winners’ enclosure. The Compton Place gelding was left in an impossible position after being hampered at the start over course and distance in February and, although beaten again at Newcastle nine days later, he may have done too much too soon under his apprentice rider. The return of Ben Curtis, who rode him on his last visit here and is 2-5 for the yard, should do his chances no harm and he appears to have every chance in a race where most of his rivals are fully exposed. In fact, he looks potential ‘gamble’ material, so taking an early, guaranteed price might be a shrewd move.

Selection: Wolverhampton 2.10 Compton River to win

2.50 Ffos Las, Friday, November 20

 

Pembrokeshire trainer Rebecca Curtis has a healthy 28-114 (25%) strike over hurdles at Ffos Las during the last five seasons and jockey Paul Townend has an even healthier 7-21 (33%) strike rate for the yard over the smaller obstacles in that period, so there’s good reason to expect a prominent showing from the Golden Milan in the Bet Totetrifecta Handicap Hurdle (2.50) on Thursday.

The Milan gelding returned from a 10-month absence to win very easily on his handicap debut, over 3 miles, on the West Wales course last March and, although unable to match that form over 2 miles 6 furlongs at the same venue when last seen in April, deserves another chance to confirm that promise. Of course, the handicapper has had his say, raising Golden Milan 13lb in the weights, but the 7-year-old appeared to relish testing conditions on that occasion and can do so again. Eight starts spread over three seasons suggest that he’s a fragile individual but, while he’s obviously not entirely without risk, he’s also perfectly capable on his day and can make a winning return.

Selection: Ffos Las 2.50 Golden Milan to win

2.40 Ascot, Friday, September 4

The Dare to be Original Harrogate Spring Water Handicap (2.40) at Ascot on Friday is one of the most competitive races of the day and, while the three-year-old contingent is likely to prove popular, it’s possible to make a case for a more exposed older horse, who could go well at very rewarding odds.

Richard Hannon castoff Magnus Maximus ran well on his first two starts for Nick Littmoden, failing by 2¼ lengths to a 100-rated rival at Kempton in January. The son of Holy Roman Emperor has failed to build on that performance, finishing near last than first on all five starts since (albeit in 0-95 company and upwards), but has plummeted down the weights as a result.

Dropped in class, off a handicap mark of 80 – 21lb lower than immediately after winning the £100,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Sprint at Newmarket last April – and with up-and-coming apprentice Tom Marquand taking off another 5lb, if he’s ever to win again, today could be the day. Of course, he comes with risks attached, but that should be reflected in his price and the fact remains that he’d pick these up and carry them if anywhere near his best.

Selection: Ascot 2.40 Magnus Maximus to win

5.00 Ffos Las, Thursday, August 14

The opening European Breeders’ Fund Maiden Stakes (5.00) at Ffos Las on Thursday is difficult to assess insofar as four of the nine runners are unraced and three have raced just once. However, Gracious John ran a race full of promise on his racecourse debut under apprentice Phillip Prince at Lingfield twelve days ago and looks one to follow.

The son of Baltic King blew the start and was denied a clear run in the closing stages, but still finished third, beaten a short head and three-quarters of a length and was, undoubtedly, an unlucky loser. He remains open to significant improvement and, indeed, may benefit from the stronger handling of senior jockey Steve Drowne.

Steve Drowne has had to work extremely hard to re-establish himself after a year on the sidelines through ill health, but he remains the leading jockey at the Gwendraeth Valley track, with 14 winners from 61 rides, at a strike rate of 23%. He’s also ridden both of David Evans’ juvenile winners at Ffos Las this season, so his booking is definitely a positive. The 3/1 on offer from Bet365 in the early price lists looks more than fair.

Selection: 5.00 Ffos Las Gracious John (3/1 with Bet365) to win

 

3.10 Goodwood, Friday, July 31

The Betfred Mile (3.10) at Goodwood on Friday is as competitive as it gets, but we’re nailing our colours firmly to the mast with Saeed bin Suroor’s progressive 4-year-old Basem. The Pivotal colt is 2-2 over a mile at Sandown this season and could still be open to significant improvement after just six career starts. He’s quite closely handicapped with Munaaser and Jacob Black on their running at Sandown last month, but he probably has more scope for improvement than either of those rivals and can confirm the form, despite another 5lb rise in the weights.

Basem has won on good to soft, good and good to firm going, so should run his race whatever the weather in West Sussex and makes no little appeal at 7/1, in places, in the ante post lists. He tends not to win by very far, so could be the type to give the handicapper sleepless nights and definitely looks one to follow until beaten.

Selection: Goodwood 3.10 Basem (7/1 with Totesport and Betfred) to win

2.30 Carlisle, Thursday, July 9

The fact that Mark Johnston’s stable jockey Joe Fanning heads to Carlisle on Thursday for just one ride for the Middleham Moor trainer suggests that Highly Sprung is likely to be thereabouts in the Bookies.com Median Auction Stakes (2.30) and the hint is worth taking. The Zebedee colt ran his best race so far when failing by 1¼ lengths to withhold the challenge of Fast And Furious in a Class 5 maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Hamilton nine days ago. Fast And Furious had previously finished second in a Class 3 maiden at York, the form of which has been franked by the third, fourth and fifth, so it starts to become clearer why Joe Fanning is so keen on riding Highly Sprung.

Highly Sprung is the most experienced runner in the field and should be suited by what is a stiff test of stamina for a 2-year-old but, before you go in with your head down, it’s worth remembering that he does face a whole host of largely unknown quantities. Michael Dods’ Majestic Missile colt Market Choice, for example, was only beaten a head in a similar race over course and distance last month, despite obvious signs of greenness, so at least a cursory glance at the market is recommended.

Selection: Carlisle 2.30 Highly Sprung to win

7.10 Sandown, Thursday, May 28

In the Cantor Fitzgerald Investment Trusts Henry II Stakes (7.10) at Sandown on Thursday, Trip To Paris managed to win once, over 1 mile 4 furlongs, during his three-year-old campaign, but stepping up to beyond middle distances appears to have been the making of him this season and he can continue his progress. The son of Champs Elysees has a few pounds to find with some of these, but has already risen 15lb in the weights this season and may still be improving.

Certainly, his win in the Chester Cup, over 2 miles 2½ miles, three weeks ago represented the best performance of his career so far and he fully deserves his place in the field. He’s won on the prevailing good to firm going and, although Sandown presents a much stiffer test of stamina than Ripon or Chester, where he’s done his recent winning, 2 miles 78 yards on the Esher track should suit him admirably. Graham Lee, who’s ridden him to both victories this term, has a 6-29 (21%) strike rate for the yard since switching to the Flat, so the former Grand National winning jockey looks a positive booking.

Selection: Sandown 7.10 Trip To Paris to win

4.20 Redcar, Monday, May 18

In the Pinnacle Racing Syndicate Shares Now Available (4.20) at Redcar on Monday, Sir Lancelott has made decent progress since returning to action at Wolverhampton in February and can take another step forward. The Piccolo gelding convincingly won a 0-65 contest, over a mile, at Newcastle on his penultimate start and that form has already been franked by the runner-up Chilworth Bells. Sir Lancelott subsequently ran creditably in defeat when beaten just a length in a 0-70 contest, over 1 mile 1 furlong, at Redcar earlier this month, despite being repeatedly denied a clear run in the closing stages.

Coincidentally, that latter form has also been franked by the runner-up Mystic Miraaj, who won at Newcastle last Wednesday so, although 1lb higher in the weights than on his last visit to the North Yorkshire track, Sir Lancelott may yet have more to offer. South Lanarkshire trainer makes life difficult for punters by also saddling Tommy Docc, but a straight mile on a flat, galloping should Sir Lancelott admirably. Encouragingly, Philip Makin, who won on him at Newcastle, once again takes the ride.

Redcar 4.20 Sir Lancelott to win

2.05 Wincanton, Tuesday, May 12

In the Racing UK Your Racing Home From Home Handicap Hurdle (2.05) at Wincanton on Tuesday, Karl Marx is 5lb higher in the weights than when beaten 1¼ lengths by Urcalin in a 0-110 contest over course and distance last month, but can take advantage of a slight drop back in class. Urcalin has since followed up, by 15 lengths, in a 0-120 contest at Kempton, so the form looks substantially better than it did at the time and suggests that, despite the weight rise, Karl Marx is extremely well handicapped.

Mark Gillard’s five-year-old has won just twice from 22 starts over hurdles but, to be fair, was for a long time fighting a losing battle against the handicapper. The assessor took exception to his win in a selling hurdle at Exeter in March last year, raising him 18lb an effectively putting paid to his chances in handicaps. His current mark of 87 is much more realistic and he could yet rate a little higher now that he’s managed to win again. The son of Red Clubs is 7lb worse off for the 1¾ lengths he beat Titch Strider over course and distance on his penultimate start, but appeared to better that form last time and deserves a chance to confirm that promise.

Selection: Wincanton 2.05 Karl Marx to win

Coup De Grace Can Deliver

In the Heart FM Handicap (5.10) at Lingfield on Tuesday, Coup De Grace won over course and distance in February and, having run respectably in defeat on both starts over hurdles since, can follow up off a 4lb higher mark. Pat Phelan’s 6-year-old has recorded all three career wins at, or around, 2 miles on synthetic surfaces, but has officially improved 14lb over hurdles since November, so may be capable of translating that improvement back to the Flat.

The Elusive City gelding has yet to record back-to-back victories under either code, but remains relatively lightly raced on the Flat and may be open to a little improvement on that score, too. He’s 7lb worse off for the 5 lengths he beat Invertissement on his last visit here, but he’s arguably more progressive than Paddy Butler’s 9-year-old, who’s also yet to win beyond 1 mile 6 furlongs.

The presence of Angus Glens, Opera Buff and Markhami should ensure that there’s competition for the lead and the faster the pace the better as far as Coup De Grace is concerned. The standout 9/2 with Betfair Sportsbook seems particularly good value.

Selection: Lingfield 5.10 Coup De Grace to win

Thursday Preview – Never Miss A Trick!

In the Win A Holiday To Sri Lanka Handicap Chase (3.40) – I didn’t think these race titles could get any worse but, evidently, they can – at Newbury on Thursday, Trickaway wasn’t beaten far in a similar race at Ludlow four weeks ago and may be able to resume winning ways. The winner that day, Gallery Exhibition, has since been put firmly in his place, off a 5lb higher mark, in a Class 2 novices’ event at Kelso, but it still represented a career-best effort by Philip Hobbs’ 7-year-old.

In fact, the form has already been franked by the third, Until Winning, who won a 0-120 contest at Wincanton last week with a minimum of fuss, so a 3lb rise in the weights appears far from prohibitive. The Stowaway gelding has made steady, if unspectacular, progress since sent over fences in October and, having won a point-to-point on good going earlier in his career, shouldn’t be inconvenienced by faster underfoot conditions.

Richard Johnson is the third most successful jockey at Newbury over the last five seasons and Philip Hobbs is the fifth most successful in the same period, so the statistics are in his favour and Trickaway makes no little appeal at 7/1 around in the early price lists.

Selection: Newbury 3.40 Trickaway to win

Tuesday Preview – Go to War with Tacticus

In the Coral App Download from the App Store Handicap (3.10) at Southwell on Tuesday, Tacticus made an impressive debut on Fibresand over course and distance last week and is hard to oppose under a 6lb penalty. The son of US Horse of the Year A.P. Indy was pushed clear from over a furlong out on that occasion, eventually winning unchallenged by 9 lengths. Another 6lb wouldn’t have stopped him from winning comfortably, so a repeat performance, against largely exposed rivals, should be good enough.

In keeping with his pedigree, the 4-year-old has taken a little time to fulfil his potential, but he looked more the finished article last time and it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t rate significantly higher than his current mark of 80 in due course. He was entered in handicaps over 1 miles 5½ furlongs and beyond later in the week, so he could be the type to develop into a useful staying handicapper on turf later in the year. Meanwhile, Lady Cecil has only ever saddled two runners at Southwell and both of them have won, so the statistics are firmly in his favour, too.

Charles Smith’s 10-year-old General Tufto, who’s won 14 times at Southwell, but only twice elsewhere, is invariably outpaced in the early stages of his races these days, but could still be the one who gives Tacticus most to do.

Thursday Preview – Miss Estela Can Bring Down The House

Miss Estela has been a beaten favourite on both starts over hurdles so far, but her fifth, beaten 11 lengths, behind subsequent Grade 2 winner Bitofapuzzle in a Listed mares’ ‘bumper’ at Cheltenham in November is strong form and she can get off the mark over obstacles in the Download The Winner.co.uk App Now “Hands And Heels” Handicap (2.00) at Carlisle on Thursday.

The daughter of Tobougg appeared not quite to get home over 2 miles 5½ furlongs at Huntingdon in January, but her previous form over 2 miles 3 furlongs, on soft going, at Exeter suggests that an extra half a furlong should be no problem. The winner at Exeter, Queen Of The Stage, was only beaten 5¼ lengths in a Listed mares’ contest at Sandown three weeks ago and is now officially rated 127. Miss Estela only went down by three-quarters of a length on that occasion, conceding 1lb so, off a handicap mark of just 109, she looks remarkably well treated for her handicap debut.

Trainer Warren Greatrex describes her as ‘a really exciting mare’ and she has the assistance of the most successful conditional jockey in the field, Conor Walsh, who’s ridden winners on both sides of the Irish Sea, so she looks one to be on at any price you can get.

Selection: Carlisle 2.00 Miss Estela to win

Monday Preview – Love Is In The Air

It’s fair to say that Monday’s cards at Ayr, Plumpton (which must survive a morning inspection) and Wolverhampton are less than awe-inspiring, but a winner never stops trying, as they say, and we have a selection that we believe could go well at rewarding odds.

In the Coral Casino Handicap (4.30) at Wolverhampton, Greeleys Love has been campaigned over a variety of distances since joining Luke Dace from Mark Johnston in September. However, the son of Mr Greeley has run creditably in defeat on all three starts on Tapeta and appears well-handicapped for a belated return to the winners’ enclosure.

In fact, the 5-year-old has won just once – over 7 furlongs at Thirsk as a juvenile – but his latest effort, when splitting Monsieur Chevalier and subsequent winner City Of Angkor Wat over 1 mile 1½ furlongs here last month, seemed to suggest his turn wasn’t far away. He steps back up to 1 mile 4 furlongs and 50 yards, but he ran well over a similar distance at Lingfield in November and the extra yardage could be just what he needs at this stage of his career.

Tizlove Regardless is the only confirmed front-runner in the race, so the possibility of a muddling pace is a problem and, of course, backing a horse who’s currently on a losing run of nineteen isn’t advisable too often. Nevertheless, if he’s ever going to win again, today could be the day and he can become Tom Marquand’s first winner for the yard.

Selection: Wolverhampton 4.30 Greeleys Love to win

Tuesday Preview – Dusky Lark Has Bright Chance

The Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle (3.45) at Taunton on Tuesday is a trappy looking affair, despite just seven runners, but Colin Tizzard’s 5-year-old Dusky Lark may be capable of upsetting some better fancied rivals. The Nayef gelding had his limitations exposed when only fifth of seven, beaten 45 lengths, behind Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hopeful Jollyallan at Kempton on Boxing Day, but returned to winning ways over course and distance twelve days ago.

He steps back up in class off an 8lb higher mark, but has been quietly progressive since joining Colin Tizzard from Hughie Morrison in October and, with conditions once again in his favour, may prove equal to the task.

Top weight Dell’ Arca won on his British debut at Cheltenham at the start of the 2013/14 season, but has failed to add to his winning tally in nine starts since, despite going close on more than one occasion. David Pipe’s 6-year-old was just touched off, in this grade, at Cheltenham last month, but is 3lb higher in the weights this time and may be worth taking on at a short price.

With similar doubts about Ibis Du Rheu, who was well beaten on his British debut, albeit at Grade 2 level, and Tornado In Milan, who steps up in class off a 16lb higher mark after an easy course and distance win three weeks ago, Dusky Lark could represent a shade of value at 8/1 with Bet365 or Sky Bet in the early price lists.

Selection: Taunton 3.45 Dusky Lark to win (8/1 with Bet365 or Sky Bet)

Community Focus

I’ve finally decided to pull my finger out. horseracingtips.org is a great domain but with other commitments and sites to juggle, it’s been a matter of getting around to this item on the to-do list. At present I’m still musing over how best to move forward with the site, though I’d like it to have more of a community focus than others.  There’s a real thriving community of great horse racing blogs, both from the UK and abroad and I’m thinking of approaching some of my favourites for contributions. It would be great to create a hub of sorts, highlighting the best of the best of tipsters and tips within the online racing blogs community.

Stay tuned!