Aintree Grand National 2015 Horse-by-Horse Guide


1. Lord Windermere

A multiple Cheltenham Festival winner, notably when landing the feature race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014. No surprise he comes here as top weight as he bids to become the first horse since Red Rum to win when having that accolade. This year all revolved around another tilt at the Gold Cup and he didn’t disgrace in Grade 1’s in Ireland before then, though ran no sort of race on the day, never travelling a yard. He has plenty to prove all of a sudden, especially after a fallout with regular rider Davy Russell means he has a new jockey in Robbie McNamara. His trainer Jim Culloty has notably not had a winner for over a year now and it’s worth looking elsewhere for all a first-time visor may help.


2. Many Clouds

Taken form to a whole new level this season, completing a hat-trick of wins which included landing the valuable Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in December and the Grade 2 BetBright Cup Chase at Cheltenham on Trials Day in January. He finished a creditable sixth in the Gold Cup last time too where he seemed to lack the gears for what was a top-class race. The handicapper has taken no chances and looks best on soft ground, though he promises to stay this trip and is a very good jumper. Last year’s winning rider Leighton Aspell prefers him over Pineau De Re this time and he can give a decent account.


3. Unioniste

Seems to have been around for a fair while, though is one of the youngest in the field, only being a 7-year-old. Well held in a handicap over the normal fences last year but got right back on track when winning impressively at Sandown in January, landing plenty of tidy bets in the process. Ran a fair race when third behind subsequent Gold Cup winner Coneygree at Newbury last time, taking well to first-time cheekpieces and ultimately suggesting an even stiffer test of stamina is required. Looks well summed up by his handicap mark though and for all the ground isn’t a major issue, any rain will certainly be a positive, while the experience of this certainly won’t go wasted on him in regards to future Nationals.


4. Rocky Creek

Went well for a very long way behind Pineau De Re last year, jumping beautifully and looking his major challenger for the majority of the time before not quite seeing it out, in the end finishing 19 lengths behind in fifth. That could easily have been more down to him not finishing his races than lack of stamina and since then he had a wind operation in the summer. After a couple of fair runs earlier in the season, he looked better than ever when winning the BetBright Chase at Kempton last time, a race he’s since gone up 9 lb for, though he gets to race off the same mark. He’s sure to use his experience to very good use here and won’t get a better chance than this to land the big prize, with every single box ticked. He is entitled to be favourite in my eyes and is the one to beat.


5. First Lieutenant

Top performer at his best, notably in 2013 when second to Cue Card in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival before winning the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl at this meeting. Steadily been on the decline since then, in particular this year where he’s shown no form even close to that. Last run did come over hurdles but he was entitled to win that comfortably and still was beaten. This test is a complete unknown and he’s pretty hard to recommend.


6. Balthazar King

A real National Hunt stalwart who is best known for his record round the Cheltenham X-Country course, where he is virtually flawless, though he’s starting to become a regular in this race too. Ridden too aggressively when well beaten in 2013 though ran a very good second to Pineau De Re in it last year, for all he had absolutely all go his way. Has been kept fresh for this year’s renewal, running just twice since September, though he has won both, namely Cross Country races in France and the latest back at Cheltenham in November. Is also 2 lb higher than 12 months ago too and neither that or being fresh are really positives for me but he’s as tough as they come, a very bold jumper and the ground is perfect for him, so you’d expect bold show for all others are definitely preferred for win purposes once more.


7. Shutthefrontdoor

The antepost favourite for this race for some time and still is the one the bookies think the rest have to beat. Though the main story about Shutthefrontdoor is the fact he has the acclaim of being the last ever ride in the race for AP McCoy. He represents the same connections that he did when winning his sole National in 2010 with Don’t Push It and has obvious claims on form. He’s already a winner of the Irish Grand National, a race he landed this time last year and comfortably won at Carlisle on his return back in November. He’s not been seen since then, with this quite clearly being the aim all season, again it’s not necessarily a positive in my eye, so I’m not sure he’s quite worth being on considering what the bookies have him priced up at. One thing is for certain is he will go off a very short price, in fact possibly one of the shortest prices in Grand National history as a public gamble on him looks close to being a certainty, Red Rum’s recent record of 7/2 is in real threat. So if you do like him, back him early on in the day. It would be some story if he did it.


8. Pineau De Re

What a don. He highlighted himself as one of the true greats of National Hunt Racing after his stunning victory in this 12 months ago, which came as no surprise to a total judge like myself. I’m kidding, obviously but I am still living off the glory of that win and will be pretty well to coming even close to matching it here. Unfortunately this is a really tough ask for Pineau this time around as he bids to emulate Red Rum in being a dual winner of the race. It was remarkable he got round last year considering how many mistakes he made and jumping has to be the issue still, especially as he has a new jockey, Daryl Jacob, who will be riding him for the first time. He also doesn’t come into this year in as good form, certainly his run in the Pertemps last month wasn’t quite at the same level as his one in the previous renewal. He is as tough as nails though and this will have been the aim once more, so if his jumping holds up well enough I would expect him to give a good account off 8 lb higher. I will be having a saver but he doesn’t make the shortlist this time around.


9. Ballycasey

Classy horse and represents the very top connections, a Grade 1 winner as a novice last year before a good fourth in the RSA at the Festival. Made a winning return in a modest contest at Gowran in November though has struggled since back in the Grade 1 company on his last 3 starts with no obvious excuses. Also barely stays 3m on evidence previously so stamina has to be a major issue and price is only based on the fact it’s a Mullins/Walsh horse as for many reasons he is one of the first ones to tick off the list.


10. Spring Heeled

There’s plenty to like about Spring Heeled’s profile, mainly the fact he’s a class horse who won at the Cheltenham Festival last year, given a masterful ride when landing the Kim Muir under Robbie McNamara, and he is a brilliant jumper. He ran well when fourth in a strong Galway Plate in July behind Road To Riches before shaping as if badly needing the run at Fairyhouse last time. This has been the aim all season, though the negatives are certainly there. He hasn’t looked the strongest of stayers to me on his 2 starts past 25.5f, the latest in the Bet365 Gold Cup when he just got going past beaten horses after losing touch. I can’t see this extreme test of stamina suiting for one that has plenty of exuberance like him. If it does then he’s got a big chance but again it’s also worth mentioning Jim Culloty’s truly dreadful run of form so it’s worth looking elsewhere on a percentage call.


11. Rebel Rebellion

One of a number of contenders for Champion trainer Paul Nicholls and this one brings previous form over the National fences to the table too. He won the Grand Sefton over a much shorter trip in December 2013 and finished a creditable fifth in it this season. He’s looked better than ever since then though, winning a valuable chase at Ascot before a good second to Soll at Exeter and then resuming winning ways at Newbury last time, where he was value for further than the margin after idling in front. He runs off the same mark here though likely needs more still, doesn’t have the handiness of the useful claim of Jack Sherwood and stamina is the main issue, being unproven over further than 3m.


12. Dolatulo

Steadily improving handicapper, firstly over hurdles when notably unlucky to bump into out very own Magnifique Etoile though has since proved better over fences this season. Ran a good second to Sound Investement at Sandown in November before going one better in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. Not run particularly well back over hurdles since and very much goes into the unknown here without much to suggest this test will be a notable positive for him.


13. Mon Parrain

Not been straightforward in the past, very much hit and miss and hasn’t stood much Racing over the years though he is very capable on his day and saw everything click when winning at Cheltenham on Trials day, benefiting from a recent wind-op and first-time blinkers. Wasn’t in the same form at Doncaster last time which was no surprise considering his mixed overall record. Man of the moment Sean Bowen takes the ride at just 17 years old, his win on Virak last week meaning he was qualified to take his chance on Mon Parrain. Never got involved in his sole start over the fences this season in the Becher in December after an early blunder, was a good second in the Topham earlier in his career for all he failed to justify strong support after travelling much the best, but he’s not really one to trust anyway these days and stamina is an unknown.


14. Carlito Brigante

Very classy hurdler for Gordon Elliott, including winning the Coral Cup in 2011 and after a spell in the doldrums has returned to form since joining his current yard recently, finishing in the first 3 on all of his last 6 starts, which includes an impressive win at Kelso in October, his only try over a trip further than 3m1f. Looked to need the run at the same course last time, the ground also on the softer side but that will be no issue here. His jumping is sound and he’s not a totally forlorn hope. Certainly one of the likelier types at the huge prices.


15. Night In Milan

Bold front runner and all his best recent form has been at Doncaster where he’s a course regular, winning the valuable Grimthorpe Chase there in March 2014. Has also run well there on the latest 3 occasions, including when third in the same race last time but that only went to suggest that the handicapper very much has the grip on him. Is a good jumper as a whole and is clearly in good heart, but the track and his stamina remain unknowns and others seem to hold stronger claims.


16. Rubi Light

Grade 1 winner in 2011 and proved well up to the highest level in that year, though did lose his way after then, proving far more miss than hit. Certainly hinted at a revival of late in winning his last 2 starts though both were still over much shorter trips, by narrow margins and at a level streets below what’s required to feature here. Will be a shock if he stays too and very little to recommend him on.


17. The Druids Nephew

One of the best handicapped runners in the field, if not the best as he is unpenalised for his recent impressive win at the Cheltenham Festival where he made a mockery of a competitive field. He certainly would have been trained for that day but had a productive campaign before then too, winning at Huntingdon on return before finding only Sam Winner too good at Cheltenham in November. He didn’t seem to want to battle that day though over a trip which was the furthest he’d been but in hindsight may just have conceded first run and this even longer trip is worth a go at least. Barry Geraghty has struck a good rapport with him so not having him on isn’t ideal but he’s well worth a go in this and is a player if taking to it.


18. Cause Of Causes

As versatile as they come, good enough to be winning 2m hurdles earlier in his career and big ones at that, landing the Ladbroke at Ascot back in 2012. Has lots of experience in big fields too, narrowly denied in the Paddy Power Chase and Kim Muir last year, while also landing the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last time over 4m. That was more of a test of speed at the trip than usual but it gives him enough hope to get this further distance and his jumping is generally decent. The booking of Paul Carberry is absolutely ideal and there’s plenty to like, for all the age stats are against him and a JP McManus-owned winner of the race that AP McCoy isn’t on will be a bit of a travesty. Makes the shortlist in any case.


19. Godsmejudge

A fantastic jumper and proved it when winning the Scottish National in 2013 as a novice. Ran two huge races at this time last year, notably when second in the same race before finishing third to Hadrian’s Approach in the Bet365 Gold Cup. Major chance on that form and though the season will have revolved around this, he’s shown very little this term. His only barely respectable effort came behind Rocky Creek at Kempton and you would have hoped he’d show more than he did over hurdles 3 weeks ago at Bangor, which was the deciding factor on whether to support him or not. He’s done enough to put me off anyway.


20. Al Co

Has often shaped as if extreme distances would suit and he duly caused a shock on his first try at it when winning the Scottish Grand National last year. That would give him a clear chance here and his recent runs over hurdles have fully suggested he’s in good heart coming into this. The worry is his sole start over the fences, back in December, his jumping was slow and very suspect, and though the better ground may help in that respect, it is certainly a doubt in my mind. If taking to it though, he can run well.


21. Monbeg Dude

A regular in staying handicaps chases and rarely runs a bad race in them, winning the Welsh National in 2013 and a good Cheltenham handicap later that year. Hasn’t always been the most fluent of jumpers but took to these fences fine and went well for a long way in this 12 months ago. though simply looked a non-stayer at the end of the day. Plenty of good efforts so far this season, the latest one at Cheltenham in a first-time tongue tie definitely was one that struck as if it was bearing this in mind, but stamina has to be the obvious issue.


22. Corrin Wood

Bold jumping front runner who looked a nice prospect when winning his first 3 starts over fences last year as a novice, but was comfortably put in his place at the Festival after that and a trio of runs this season haven’t brought much. Wasn’t disgraced when third to Dolatulo in the Rowland Meyrick but ran no sort of race in the Grade 2 Peter Marsh at Haydock last time. Yard have a long association with the race but have been in a lull for some time and he’s readily passed over here.


23. The Rainbow Hunter

Often been let down by jumping but has bags of ability and all clicked into place when landing the valuable Skybet Chase at Doncaster back in January 2014, when also benefiting from a wind operation. That came just before his second crack at the Grand National and though he’s unseated on both occasions, neither were really his fault. This season has obviously revolved around this race, his only time being on a racecourse since when pulled up behind Rocky Creek at Kempton in February. He’s still not an obvious type for this race and others are preferred, but he won’t disgrace if his jumping is fine.


24. Saint Are

A horse I’ve followed for quite some time and he’s a multiple winner at this meeting, including a Grade 1 over hurdles. Considering he was trained by Tim Vaughan in that period goes to show how much talent the horse had at that point. Has struggled in the last 2 renewals of this, including when falling last year but he comes here in better heart, has already run a good race over the fences this season in the Becher Chase and was impressive when winning at Carlisle last time which he needed to win to get into this. His handicap mark has suffered as a consequence and he’s yet to quite prove his stamina and resolution for this test, but you’d expect the ground to be perfect and he’s not without hope.


25. Across The Bay

Completely luckless in the last 2 renewals of this race when twice jumping beautifully and being in contention for Henry Brooke, though both occasions has been taken out by a loose horse going onto the final circuit, completely no fault of his own. In no sort of form this season however, stopping quickly in the Becher and twice has looked an awkward ride at Bangor and Haydock. Brought down when on the retreat at Cheltenham last time and yard are struggling recently, so doesn’t have obvious claims for all he deserves a bit more fortune.


26. Tranquil Sea

Very capable on his day and finest hour came when winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham back in 2009. Also a multiple Graded winner since then but quite clearly getting on now and not the same force of old. Off the mark for this yard when winning a Veterans’ chase at Doncaster in February 2014 and only seen once this seen when behind Soll at Newbury in February, but clearly retains some ability on that evidence. Has completed on both starts over these fences but far more is required here and pretty hard to envisage him troubling the judge, especially with stamina being a major worry.


27. Oscar Time

An absolute stalwart over these fences and has placed on both attempts at this race, finishing second to Ballabriggs in 2011 and fourth to Aurora’s Encore in 2013. Has done well on the hunter chase scene recently but showed he can still mix it at a high level when gallantly winning the Becher Chase here in December. Ran respectably in a clear prep for this last time and though he’s the oldest horse in the field, meaning winning this at the age of 14 would be a truly remarkable feat, no rider is much better round here than Sam Waley-Cohen and he ought to give you a cracking run for your money at a big price.


28. Bob Ford

Has a tendency to sulk when not getting his own way out in front but not many stay better than he does, as he showed when winning a horribly gruelling West Wales National at Ffos Las in January, only one of two to actually finish the race. Unable to dominate when pulled up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last time though and showed little aptitude for the fences when running in the Grand Sefton back in December. In all likelihood he won’t be involved here.


29. Super Duty

Talented chaser for Donald McCain who often shaped as if a significant test of stamina would be suitable. Has clearly had problems, missing all of 2014 and held to just two runs this year for Ian Williams. Didn’t disgrace over hurdles on return but went backwards from that returned to fences at Doncaster last time. Certainly been give a chance by the handicapper but really not an obvious type for such a race now and others preferred.


30. Wyck Hill

Showed he stays all day when winning the Eider Chase at Newcaslte in 2014 and more or less had excuses since, the Midlands National possibly coming too soon at the end of last year. Fair return over hurdles though looked to already be struggling when falling in this renewal of the Eider last time and that’s hardly an ideal prep run. Class for this isn’t a given either, course is an unknown and best overlooked.


31. Gas Line Boy

A capable chaser and has shot up the weights this season after two wins at Exeter and Haydock, particularly bloodless at Haydock when making every yard. Needs his own way out in front though, or very much is at best when able to and was very much found out in the Welsh National because of it. Ran a decent race for a long way at Haydock last time but needs to take form to another level and hard to see why he will do see here.


32. Chance Du Roy

Good record over these fences, second in the Topham over the shorter trip back in 2012 and right back on track after some lesser efforts when winning the Becher in late 2013. Good sixth in this race last year too, having a troubled passage early on but seemingly just being found out by stamina, no surprise considering he was very much going into the unknown. Another good effort in the Becher this season and campaign will have revolved around this so has claims of a place in a race which not many convince.


33. Portrait King

Shown his resolution for a thorough test of stamina, as so when winning the Eider in 2012. Struggled in the Scottish National after that. In decent form this season, winning at Punchestown in January and twice finishing runner-up as well, at the same course and then back over hurdles last time. Easy to excuse his Eider run in between too but main issue is his class for this race and looks at best on softer ground than he’s likely to get here.


34. Owega Star

Grade 2 winner over hurdles and though has won twice over fences, he’s generally come up short at better level. Cracking run in the valuable Troyton handicap chase at Navan in November when just unlucky to bump into a well handicapped rival and backed it up with a decent fifth in an even more valuable event around Christmas time, but proved a disappointment last time and though worth another chance, very much goes into the unknown here and he would definitely be a shock winner.


35. River Choice

A rare French runner and a useful chaser over there but has struggled in better grade, his only victories coming in minor events and the latest even in claiming company. Was bought by current yard after that in November and has run just once since when beaten over hurdles in February. Bizarre runner and unlucky if you got this one in the sweepstake as he doesn’t seem to have a hope.


36. Court By Surprise

As good as ever this season, making a winning return at Exeter in October and then placing second before being awarded the Badgers Ales Trophy at Wincanton a month later after the winner was found to be ineligible. Not seen since in the wait for better ground and this is a really stiff task on return, a career-best no doubt required though he does go well fresh, he’s a good travelling type and has shown he stays 3m5f at least, so if his jumping holds up he’s not totally out of this and may be worth a few quid at a big price.


37. Alvarado

Representing connections who have had a horse placed in each of the last 6 renewals of this race, 3 times with State Of Play, twice with Cappa Bleu and then with this guy last year, getting going way too late in the day to grab fourth. Sure to be ridden to similar effect under Brian Hughes and has very much been campaigned with this in mind, only running once this seen at Doncaster back in February and doing enough to suggest he retains his ability. It’s harder to envisage  him actually winning it but he looks a major player for a place at least and makes the shortlist because of it.


38. Soll

Front runner who jumps well as a whole and has really come into his own of late since joining David Pipe, winning both starts for him, including when landing a gamble in a Veterans’ chase at Exeter before following up at Newbury last time. Is pretty hard work but stays all day and has also shown his liking to these fences, especially when seventh in this 2 years ago behind Aurora’s Encore. The trip was too short when well held in the Topham but he does look a different proposition now and though his pace for the test is the main issue, weird to say over this marathon trip but it is for me, along with the odd error, not many will be staying on better than him at least so he is a more likelier type than most.


39. Ely Brown

Twice won round here over hurdles and restricted to just 4 starts over fences, which is hardly ideal in itself. Has won two of those, notably a Grade 2 at Wetherby but that was a weak contest. Poor effort at the end of last season and ran no sort of race over hurdles on sole start this campaign, for all it was clearly needed. Little to recommend him on here.


40. Royale Knight

Representing last year’s winning trainer Dr Richard Newland though this one comes in with a very different profile to Pineau De Re. Improved totally out of sight when winning the Durham National at Sedgefield in October, a race he went up enough for to get a run in this. Since been campaigned with the race in mind over hurdles, though it was certainly a good run at Chepstow last time in that sphere. His class is the obvious issue but he ticks more boxes than most bar that.



40 runners once more and obviously plenty luck is required in a race such as this, but it doesn’t look the strongest of renewals to me with only a handful having clear chances and ticking the majority of boxes.

Shutthefrontdoor has been favourite for this for some time and win or lose will be the story of the race. He’s an Irish Grand National so is entitled to a lot of respect on form, but mainly all eyes will be on him because he’s AP McCoy’s last ever ride in the National. Expect a public gamble because of it and he could easily go off half the price he is now, but the lack of a prep doesn’t necessarily seem ideal and it is best to look elsewhere at a price that is simply too short.

The one who should favourite in my book is ROCKY CREEK and he heads the shortlist this year. He was a good fifth in the race 12 months ago and for some way looked the biggest challenge to the eventual winner Pineau De Re. You can argue he didn’t stay but he may also have just had another issue, something which seems to have been resolved by a wind operation in the summer.

His win at Kempton last time was very impressive and with the experience under his belt, plus a very favourable handicap mark, bold jumping and ability to handle good ground, he quite literally ticks every box and I would strongly recommend him. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is also represented by Unioniste, Rebel Rebellion and Mon Parrain. Unioniste looks the best of that trio but this experience will hold him in good stead for future renewals.

Plenty of runners take part who were in this last year, obviously including the winner Pineau De Re who was the main selection that day. He isn’t quite in the same form this time though, has a higher handicap mark, a different jockey and it’s always such a tough ask for previous winners to defend their crown. Dr Richard Newland also has Royale Knight, who has just scraped in at the bottom of the weights. He has his class to prove more than anything. Of the ones returning last year though, Balthazar King (2nd) had everything go his way 12 months ago and though he rarely runs a bad race and has been kept fresh this time around, I don’t see him going one better.

ALVARADO got going all too late in the day for 4th, meaning connections continue their record of having a horse placed in the last 6 renewals. I expect similar again and he’s well worth backing with the place market more in mind, but definitely worthy of a place on the shortlist anyway. Chance Du Roy is a more likely type than most, Across The Bay deserves more luck (taken out twice by a loose horse before the second circuit) but this is a very tough ask for him, along with his stablemate Corrin Wood.

The Rainbow Hunter has unseated in both the last 2 years, neither really his fault but his jumping is generally scratchy anyway, while Monbeg Dude is another who comes back. He’s run fine since then but simply looked like he didn’t stay the trip and that’s the issue once more.

Of the more likely types coming into this, they include The Druids Nephew who comes off a very impressive win at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s a strong travelling type who generally jumps fine and is well worth a go at a race like this. If seeing it out and taking to the test he’s a player.

There’s plenty to like about CAUSE OF CAUSES for all he is younger than most coming into this and it would be a travesty if a JP McManus-owned horse won the race and McCoy wasn’t on it. There’s no place for sentimentality here and he has bags of experience in big field handicaps. His last win in the 4m National Hunt Chase was a bit of a revelation for a horse that has won major 2m hurdles in the past. The emphasis on speed suited that day but the booking of Paul Carberry is a big positive and he’s a fascinating runner for trainer Gordon Elliott, who won the race in 2007 with Silver Birch. McManus’ other runner Wyck Hill is hard to recommend.

Another with handicap form to be a major player is Godsmejudge, one I have had in mind for this race for some time. But he’s shown nothing this season, albeit sometimes over hurdles but his latest run 3 weeks ago was one with minimal promise and that’s a worry. Soll has been much improved since joining David Pipe, winning his last 2 starts and wasn’t disgraced in the race 2 years ago. He is a bit slow but if able to stay with them not many will be staying on better than him.

The Irish contingent is mixed, though Jim Culloty is double handed and will be confident about his chances. Lord Windermere won the Gold Cup in 2014 but ran no sort of race in it this year and a first-time visor will need to help his cause. He’s also got a new jockey this time. Spring Heeled is one I’ve rated very highly for a long time, but stamina is my main issue with him. His only start over further than 25.5f he looked a non-stayer and though that was a while ago and he could just be better now, his exuberant style doesn’t suggest he will relish it.

Add in the fact Culloty’s last winner came on March 20th last year, ironically just after both of these won at the Cheltenham Festival, and they’re risky propositions. The Walsh/Mullin/Ricci partnership is a formidable one, but not here with Ballycasey who has plenty of negatives and unknowns, none more so than stamina, while First Lieutenant has been on the retreat for a while and will need the fences to spark a revival, which seems unlikely to me.

That leaves us with some of the more likely of the home types to talk about. Little are more classy than Many Clouds who is a Hennessy and Cheltenham Trials Day winner this season. He ran creditably in the Gold Cup too and promises to stay this far. The handicapper has taken no chances and he seems best on soft ground but last year’s winning rider Leighton Aspell takes over and he can go well. Al Co is a Scottish National winner and remains unexposed over marathon trips. It’s well worth noting he jumped poorly on his first try over these fences in the Becher in December and though better ground will suit, that is the worry.

Night In Milan isn’t really for me for one reason or another and Saint Are has a tough ask off this handicap mark. A decent show from Carlito Brigante would not totally surprise but the two I will put up at big prices will be COURT BY SURPRISE and Oscar Time.

Court By Surprise ticks more boxes than most coming into this. He’s a steadily improver chaser who promises to stay this far, has been in good form when last seen, enjoys decent ground and his jumping isn’t much of an issue. I can see him giving a good run for your money for all he’s risky. Similar for Oscar Time who has been placed on both his previous tries in this race and has been in grand form in hunter chases, before winning the Becher Chase here in December. He’s the oldest in the field and it’s a very tough ask for him to go one better but he’s far more convincing than most and is overpriced. The rest would be shock winners.


1. Rocky Creek 2.5pts e/w @10/1 generally

2. Alvarado 1pt e/w @20/1 generally

3. Court By Surprise 1pt e/w @50/1 Coral

4. Cause Of Causes 1pt e/w @18/1 generally


10 Flat Horses To Follow List 2015

Bartholomew Fair

Luca Cumani – OR 90 TF 95p

3yo c Dansili – Rebecca Sharp

There was lots to like about Bartholomew Fair in 3 starts last season, notably his maiden success at Yarmouth before not disgracing upped in grade in the Gr 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket on his final start in October. The fact he was tried in that company looks a tip in itself considering that often isn’t case with these connections and he shaped much better than the result that day as inexperience told still (unbalanced in the dip and hung, though a small injury may have been the cause). He instantly struck to me as a type who will make big strides this season with a winter on his back and upped in trip, both suspicions easy to back up on pedigree and I have high expectations this year. He’s certainly in perfect hands too, his trainer often does so well with types like him.


Free Eagle

Dermot Weld – OR 120 TF 128p

4yo c High Chaparral (IRE) – Polished Gem (IRE)

Certainly the most exciting horse I can think of that returns as a 4yo and it’s very much unfinished business with Free Eagle. He was restricted to 2 starts last season though his return on Irish Champion’s Day left us all thinking what could have been with a remarkable 7 lengths demolition of a Group 2. Despite being beaten in the Champions Stakes on his final start, he actually enhanced his reputation in my eyes in finishing third to Noble Mission on ground that clearly would have been too soft for him. If kept sound, I’d be very surprised if he couldn’t make his mark at the highest level this season; the Tattersalls Gold Cup looking an obvious starting point before hopefully being a big player for all the major summer middle distance races.


Jellicle Ball

John Gosden – OR – TF 104p

3yo f Invincible Spirit (IRE) – Dance Troupe

The debut of Jellicle Ball at Kempton could hardly have been more taking. Despite obvious inexperience (missed the break and raced in snatches early on) she showed a turn of foot and raw ability that instantly pointed to her being a pattern class performer in the making. Although clearly inheriting plenty of speed from her sire, there is bag of stamina on the dam side and the current quotes for the Oaks for her are certainly not off the mark, especially considering connections. I am hoping to see her maybe prep in the Guineas, similar to what John Gosden did with The Fugue for the same owners and she, along with Faydhan from the same yard are most exciting prospects.


Kodi Bear

Clive Cox – OR 115 TF 112

3yo c Kodiac – Hawattef (IRE)

Kodi Bear has been a colt I’ve liked for a long time, in fact as soon as he caught my eye a good sixth in the Coventry at Royal Ascot last year. I was pleased to see him lightly campaigned thereafter, firstly breaking his maiden in a Listed event back at Ascot, form which doesn’t look bad at all either. He was well worth his place in a big race at the end of last year and there was lots to like about his Dewhurst second. He was readily outpointed by Belardo though beat the rest on merit in a race that likely wouldn’t have played to his strengths. I’m fully expected plenty of improvement going into a classic year, particularly stepped up to 1m and back on better ground. A truly-run race is sure to see him to better effect and he rates a very lively outsider for the Guineas for me at this stage at truly silly odds of 33/1. I certainly hope to see him end up in a trial at some point and then hopefully he can go from that.


Lexington Abbey

Kevin Ryan – OR 89 – TF 100

4yo g Sleeping Indian – Silvereine (FR)

Lexington Abbey slowly but surely climbed up the sprinting ranks as a 3yo last season, ending the year off a 10 lb higher mark than he started it on. There was some very good efforts in defeat too, notably when second to Caffeine at York (since sold to race in Hong Kong) and a close fifth in both the Ayr Silver Cup behind Huntmans Close and then a strong Ascot handicap in October to Telmeyd. But he really struck to me as the type who would improve considerably this year, as is often the case with these sprinters and for me he’s already ahead of his mark anyway off 89. He’s held in high regard by Kevin Ryan and is just the type to land a big pot at some point this season.



Jim Goldie – OR 89 TF 96p

4yo g Rocamadour – Mistinguett (IRE)

Not the most flashy of types for a Flat horses to follow though Mistiroc is well worth his place on this list. I was taken by his performance when winning at Haydock in September, when he traded very high in-running before coming with a rattling run to lead late on over what was clearly an inadequate trip. He was beaten twice after that, firstly again over 10f at Ayr and then in a red-hot handicap at Newmarket in October on his first try at 12f. Again he was doing his best work late and there should be even more to come this year when stepped up even further in trip, as allying with his pedigree which is absolutely stacked with stamina. He’s certainly one for the handicapping ranks off his current mark.



William Haggas – OR 108 TF 125p

5yo g Invincible Spirit (IRE) – Fairy Of The Night (IRE)

You don’t win handicaps in the manner of which Muthmir did in taking the Portland without being a sprinter of the very highest of order. It certainly wasn’t a performance form out of the blue as his York win earlier in the season was also visually stunning. Little went right when turned out quickly at Goodwood in the Stewards’ Cup but he got right back on track at Doncaster last time, winning in such emphatic fashion despite suffering interference and he should take the step into Group company well within his stride. For me he will likely be just as effective at 5f considering his cruising speed and Royal Ascot has to be the first big aim for him. He’s a massive player in anything he runs in this season, at least when the ground is on the preferred faster side and he’s high up on the list as horses I’m most looking forward to seeing this year.


Spring Offensive

Richard Fahey – OR 81 – TF 86p

3yo g Iffraaj – Night Sphere (IRE)

With original horse to follow Entitling already in Hong Kong, Spring Offensive gets a late call up on the bench to make the final 10. He’s a similar type to the previous selection in that he’s coming into his 3yo career off a mark of around 80 and after showing plenty of promise as a juvenile. He won a Redcar maiden which worked out remarkably well before finishing a very good second to another horse I rate highly in Invincible Gold at York in September and who since wasn’t disgraced in a sales race. His pedigree is generally about speed but there should be improvement to come, particularly when stepped up to 1m and he should at least pay his way.


Top Tug

Sir Michael Stoute – OR 94 – TF 105p

4yo g Halling (USA) – Top Romance (IRE)

My Ontheotherhoof colleague Michael Andrews will be very pleased with the inclusion of this horse who is just the type of Sir Michael Stoute improver who will make giant strides this campaign. His victory at Newmarket over Cloudscape in May is already form which looks very solid and he ran a very good race after 5 months off when seventh in a red-hot handicap (same that Mistiroc ran in) there on his latest start in October, doing his best work late after getting unbalanced in the dip. I will be extremely surprised if he doesn’t prove to be very well handicapped off his current mark and after then he could become anything.


Wheat Sheaf

Roger Charlton – OR – TF 93P

3yo c Iffraaj – Harvest Queen (IRE)

This horse could not have caught the eye more when second on his debut at the back end of last year at Newmarket. He travelled noticeably well thoughout in what looked an above-average maiden on paper, but was just outpointed by one who had already had the benefit of experience as his lack of it told. That performance was enough to win the majority of maidens and I fully expect him to make a winning return before making his mark in better grade.

Hong Kong International Races 2014 Preview

Well it’s been a while since I’ve been here, but with a cracking Hong Kong card on Sunday (early for most of us in the UK and good on you if, like myself, you will be getting up for it), I thought it was worth blogging about. Below is a preview of all 4 big races, with selections. If you have any fancies, don’t hesitate to put them in the comments below or Tweet them to me @calummadell.


6:00 – LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+) 


Willie Cazals leads the home contingent in a modest looking Hong Kong Vase

Unfortunately there is no 100/1 shrewd bet to put on this year, as was the case with Dominant last time, though with Flintshire making this market, it makes for a good betting heat. Andre Fabre’s colt has done little wrong of late and would thoroughly deserve to go one better in a prize like this after placing in both the Arc and Breeders’ Cup. He has his limitations though and for me it’s best to look elsewhere.

Red Cadeaux won this in 2012 at the peak of his powers and comes here, once again, after placing in the Melbourne Cup. He was fourth last year and it was hard to give him many excuses. I just don’t think he has it in him to win this now, though I’m sure he will run his race. His price doesn’t make him an e/w prospect either and a similar comment can be made for Snow Sky, just slightly different in that I just don’t think he is good enough full stop.

Japanese raider Curren Mirotic should go nicely. He has often fallen short at the highest level in his home country though a running on second behind Gold Ship last time was arguably a career best and he rates a danger here.

The locals look fairly strong here, Dominant going for a repeat bid in particular though he has yet to fire since his cracking run in the Sheema Classic back in March. He’s had a similar prep as to last year and reports are he is coming back into his own again. However ready preference is for WILLIE CAZALS who should head the local charge. I’ve already backed him in the week at an e/w price though even at his current price he’s working taking. Both starts over this trip he has finished runner-up, firstly to Dominant and then to California Memory (previous Hong Kong Cup winner). He ran a really good trial behind Blazing Speed in what was a messy race over 10f though he simply looks an improving performer who looks overpriced still at double figure odds.

The rest of the locals are less convincing while of the other raiders, Parish Hall shouldn’t be good enough. I would chance a small wager on EMPOLI however, who really isn’t far off the standard needed in this and based on his latest win, in the Preis Von Europa in September, he’s in decent form for this. He’s not the most straightforward either but seems to come alive on his travels and I can definitely see him running into a place.

Advice – Willie Cazals 2.5pts win @9/1 generally

               Empoli 0.5pts e/w @25/1 generally



6:40 – LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+)

An up to scratch renewal though certainly lacking the superstar which we’ve been treated to in the past, notably of late Lord Kanaloa whose performance last year in particular before his retirement was of the very highest of order.

lucky nine

Lucky Nine won this in 2011 and has been unfortunate the last twice. He has to go close if on form and more importantly not missing the break

Sole Power chased him home that day and arguably running one of the best races of his career. He is of course better at 5f, with no win yet at this trip, but a reproduction of that run would surely see him involved.

The local challenge looks strong and plenty of them have already faced each other in the trial 2 weeks ago, though with that being such a messy race in the end, it left us with even more questions than answers. Peniaphobia won the race and though was probably fortunate in doing so, he is really stepping his form up to another level (for people who recognise the name, he won the Super Sprint at Newbury when with Richard Fahey). Aerovelocity has been very progressive in local graded handicaps and got the absolute worst of the traffic in that race, though Sterling City was also up there in those terms. He won the Golden Shaheen in March and no doubt will be primed for this. He does take a while to get going and in a race that could be tactical, may not be seen to best effect. Aerovelocity deserves to be right up there in the market and is shortlisted.

LUCKY NINE is a regular to these sorts of races, notably this one in which this is his fifth attempt. He won it in 2011 and has gone close twice since, though was not seen to best effect on either starts, hurt mainly by fluffing the start. That is the obvious worry again but there’s no doubt on form he’s a major player. He impressed at Kranji in May and had to wait until inside the final furlong to get any sort of run in the trial, in the end blazing late for fifth. That should see him spot on for this and I do like him here.

Others in that trial include Flagship Shine (3rd, back to form though got a clear run), Golden Harvest (4th, ran his race, has widest draw though Moore does ride) and Spalato (10th, very good in Singapore and poor there, though likely not his running).

More interesting candidates include Gordon Lord Byron who ran a blinder in the Mile here last year and is of course a multiple Group 1 winner in 3 different countries, including when last seen on Champion’s Day in October. Japanese runners Snow Dragon and Straight Girl were 1-2 in the Sprinters Stakes at Niigata last time, the former travelling and quickening well to land a bit of a surprise though the latter was well fancied though her lack of tactical speed did seem to tell.

Australia are always strong in the sprint department and the current crop look fairly decent. BUFFERING has been in that camp for a long time though has looked as good as ever of late, winning a Group 1 in September, before being involved in a desperately tight finish at the same track and not disgracing in a top class renewal of the Sprint Classic at Flemington last time. He is one of the only confirmed front runners and considering the form he is in; I really don’t see him far away, making the prices about him big. It will take a good one to go past him.

Advice – Lucky Nine 3pts win @6/1 Sportingbet

               Buffering 1pt e/w @16/1 generally



7:50 – LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (Group 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+)

able friend

Able Friend should take all the beating in the Hong Kong Mile

A race that completely revolves around Able Friend who looks to have taken his form to another level this season so far. His return run over 6f behind Aerovelocity was a glimpse of the horse he looks now, running a screamer and catching the eye big time by how he ran, travelling virtually the best against top sprinters at a trip well short of his prime. It was no surprise to see him bolt up in the trial, beating Gold-Fun in the process, with Ambitious Dragon (3rd) Secret Sham (4th) and Japanese trained Hana’s Gaol (9th) all well held.

He is very much a fair price at close to odds-onwith little else more to beat, making it a case of if he is on form, how far does he win instead rather than does he win. Japan also have Fiero, Grand Prix Boss and World Ace, who finished second, sixth and eighth in the Mile Championship at Kyoto last time. Fiero on that basis is the main danger here, catching the eye by the way he travelled and just being edged out in a tight finish. He appeals for f/c purposes.

Two UK runners take part in Captain Cat and Trade Storm. Both are habitual hold up performers but love fast ground and when the conditions are right are very good. It depends how this race pans out as to their chances but they have place claims if the pace is strong (Only Gold-Fun a real confirmed front-runner). Captain Cat should be suited by first-time cheekpieces and promises to take his form to another level at some point, whilst Trade Storm has the most proven form out of the pair, particularly abroad.

Advice – No Selection



8:30 – LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (Group 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+)

blazing speed

Blazing Speed won the trial here 2 weeks ago, of which the first five return here

I’ve taken a long time looking at this race, mainly as plenty can be given chances and they’re so tightly matched on previous evidence. The Jockey Club Cup is the main trial for this and the first five for this year’s renewal two weeks ago return.

Blazing Speed was the winner that day in a tight finish. For a long time he’s been a consistent performer though with victories in this and in a local Group 1 on his final start of last season, it is very much suggesting that he is looking better than ever, especially over middle distances. He still just lacks the real class to make him a convincing bet here, while the draw does not help him either.

The class of Military Attack is most certainly not in question and it’s incredible how well he’s sustained his high level of ability. He’s started this year in similar vein, winning over a 1m first time out and just collared late on by Blazing Speed in the trial. Without any doubt he will run his race here, though that hasn’t been enough to win the last two renewals of this and my feeling is he’s more likely to find one too good than not.

He is favourite here but DESIGNS ON ROME is potentially too good for these based on his form last season, which included winning the Hong Kong Derby and beating a stellar field in the QEII Cup in April, which had Military Attack and top foreign challengers Vercingetorix and Epiphaneia in behind. He hasn’t hit those heights this year though was better when a running on fifth in the trial and the suspicion is he will be at his best for this. For that reason he is worth the chance to do so. His price does somewhat put that into account already, though putting it another way, if he returns to his best then 3/1 is a standout bet.

Of the European challengers this time, there is simply no way Cirrus Des Aigles should be a bigger price than Farraaj. Cirrus has never quite been at his best in Hong Kong though ran a belter in this last year and is sure to do so again, while Farraaj has no form good enough to justify his price at this stage.

Advice – Designs On Rome 3pts win @7/2 888sport

2014 Ebor Handicap Antepost Preview


Pallasator is a strong favourite for this year’s Ebor at York

Of the last ten renewals of the Ebor run at York, nine have been won by a horse that raced in the rear, Willing Foe the only one not to in 2012 (was in touch according to Racing Post description); it just shows the Ebor is always a very strongly run and gruelling race. Anything that predominantly front runs is an instant negative in this race and again there are unknown factors from an antepost point of view such as ground and draw, there’s plenty of appealing prices out there.


The favourite Pallasator has a very obvious chance but is no price whatsoever now, already being a best priced 4/1 with the race still over two weeks away. There’s no doubt he deserves to be favourite though, he has a 4lb penalty for his Ascot win, a race that was slowly run but the form has been boosted by the runner-up winning at Goodwood since. He’s lightly raced for his age, is a brute of a horse who has plenty of scope and the extra two furlongs will suit. He ticks every box bar price.


There’s plenty others on my radar but at this stage I’ll wait to see them confirmed for the race and probably bet on the day. Clever Cookie would be right up there, his trainer said he didn’t really see out this trip when he dead heated round here but for me it will bring out the best in him and you can forgive his last run in the John Smith’s Cup due to how the race panned out and over a now inadequate trip


I’ve had Havana Cooler for the race since his return, a highly promising third at Royal Ascot. He looked laboured in softer ground in the Old Newton Cup but returned to form at Goodwood, travelling well but getting outbattled by Van Percy, who runs off a 4lb penalty. This is obviously far stronger but a galloping track and strong pace will definitely see the best of him and I expect him to overturn the form with the Balding runner.


Mighty Yar is one who seems he will stay all day, whether he does is another matter but good ground is absolutely key and he represents last year’s winning connections. He looks vulnerable for win purposes, as too do Bold Sniper and Angel Gabrial. The Godolphin runner Wadi Al Hattawi is one for the shortlist. He has an impressive turn of foot for a stayer and he showed up a lot better than his finishing position suggested at Ascot. I’m not fully convinced he’s one that will improve for the trip though.


At bigger prices, now that I’ve seen GREAT HALL is on target for the race, he is now of major interest for it. Now with John Quinn, he showed up well for a long way over C&D behind Continuum on his first start since being gelded and this looks a perfect race for him. Quinn could also run Swnymor and Pearl Castle, the former would be of real interest if the ground was soft, but that is unlikely; similar can be said for Whiplash Willie. Swnymor was fifth in the race that Quick Jack landed the other week and if a confirmed runner then he’s got to go well. An old favourite De Rigueur goes on all ground but a bit of cut suits him most. He’s in great form so is respected either way.

Aussie Reigns

The William Knight trained Aussie Reigns is a big price with plenty going for him


The trip may be a touch short for types such as Marzocco, the slightly disappointing Brass Ring and also probably Hassle while at the head of the weights Pale Mimosa would be an interesting runner but it’s hard to see him in this sort of race and another him winning.


At this stage though there’s another worth a chance at a massive price, another old favourite of mine in AUSSIE REIGNS. After running last week at Goodwood, jockey Adam Kirby said the horse is crying out for a step up in trip now and he’s just the type of horse that will thrive off the strong pace in hopefully decent ground.


He’s off 99 at the moment, 5lb lower than what he was a few months back despite some really good efforts and also 3lb lower than what he will race off in the future. There’s definitely others with more progressive profiles and he’s vulnerable for win purposes but he’s got a far better chance than his now 40/1 odds suggest (tipped up at 50/1 to HVH subscribers). He will get in and this race by the sounds of it is the target, making him a genuine contender at staggeringly big odds.

Antepost Advice – Aussie Reigns 1pt e/w @40/1 generally

                                            Great Hall 1pt e/w @25/1 generally

Glorious Goodwood 2014 – Day 3 Selections

Just a short post (shorter than usual but sure I’ll go overboard) unfortunately. It’s a truly manic week and though I wanted to keep up with the promise of doing a blog each day for Goodwood, it’s a real struggle to do so. I will continue to post as regularly as I can here and will certainly continue the video blogs with Ontheotherhoof, though as mentioned before I will be joining the Huge Value Horses team, from Friday 1st August and obviously concentration needs to put on that than on here.

I also just wanted to say thank you to so many people for the support you have given the blog, especially over the past year and for this flat season. Views are as high as they’ve ever been and your support is very much appreciated. If you are at all interested (certainly absolutely no pressure from me) then you can subscribe to Huge Value Horses HERE. This is an exciting new project for me and I can’t wait to see where it can go from here. Anyway to Goodwood Day 3, the first two days have been somewhat of a damp squib but tomorrow’s cards do not disappoint from a punting perspective.



2:05 – Fairmont Stakes (Handicap) (Bobis Race) (CLASS 2) (3yo)

A cracking Goodwood handicap to start with and no surprise to see Roseburg favourite as he’s a future group performer without any doubt and he can easily land a blow off this mark. All his wins have been on softer than this and that’s a worry. ASTRONEREUS took a real liking for soft ground last time at Newmarket and he really impressed that day. His 2nd here behind a 90 rated stablemate was a good run and even if ideally he’d want rain, I really rate this horse and the 7/1 on offer is worth taking.

Rainbow Rock is 5lb out of the weights but Cam Hardie takes that off, he won well and goes off a penalty. Madeed was drawn on the wrong side in the Britannia and that has been a profitable system, of the outsiders Donny Rover appealed, his York run was mixing it with top horses and a return to 10f should suit.

Advice – Astronereus 3pts win @7/1 Paddy Power (Money Back Special)



2:35 – Qatar Bloodstock Richmond Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) (CLASS 1) (2yo)

The smart Ivawood is expected to land the first race of Glorious Goodwood for Hannon and Hughes

The Hughes/Hannon combo are still awaiting their first winner this week but it’s likely to come in the shape of IVAWOOD who is extremely well regarded at home and has impressed considerably in his two starts to date. His debut performance was visually striking and he powered away from a fair field at Newmarket last time, including beating his main market rival Jungle Cat. He’s 4/9 but it’s very hard to see him beat. However MOONRAKER is a horse I rate very highly and I think he could give the favourite something to think about.

The Ascot maiden he won has worked out a treat and this Starspangledbanner colt has been seen since that performance and now is upped to an easy enough 6f. I would advised forecasts between the pair, staking more on the Hannon horse winning. Ahlan Emerati is a solid horse who should appreciate the return to 6f if turned out quickly while Fox Trotter beat a good horse on debut and is entitled to give this a go. Louie De Palma is a horse I like but maybe not for a test like this just yet.

Advice – Ivawood/Moonraker 2pts straight forecast, 1pt reverse forecast



3:10 – Artemis Goodwood Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 2) (CLASS 1) (3yo+)

Plenty of talk has been about Estimate for the wrong reasons of late and it would be nice to see her land this after such a good run in defence of her Ascot Gold Cup crown. She was just touched off that day and demands needed for tomorrow makes her vulnerable. She has an impressive Sagaro win to her name over this trip but her two best runs have been over the Gold Cup trip and with a potential lack of pace this may not be enough of a stamina test. That would also play into the hands of last year’s winner BROWN PANTHER especially on this ground. He took this readily last year in a slowly run affair and with similar likely tomorrow he is the clear one to beat from that point of view and on figures.

The 7/2 on him represents good value. Godolphin run both Cavalryman, sixth last year when not suited by how the race panned out and also Ahzeemah, who got closest to him in second. The latter is very much overpriced considering he may have needed his return in a good race over 14f and then didn’t see out the Gold Cup trip latest. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if last year’s 1-2 happened again but Ahzeemah’s well being is taken a bit on trust. The progressive Angel Gabrial is respected, as too Forgotten Voice but he has to settle and that would be a worry with a real lack of pace in the race.

Advice – Brown Panther 3pts win @7/2 generally



4:50 – Tatler Stakes (Handicap) (Bobis Race) (CLASS 2) (3yo 0-105)


A return to 7f on a tight track from a good draw should see Almargo go very close tomorrow

This is a really good handicap and just the type of race the first two days have lacked. Plenty at the head of the market have been on the radar, including Championship who is coming back to some decent form after clearly having problems. The step back to 7f wasn’t a positive for me. Secret Hint landed a good Doncaster maiden on his return and the 80-rated runner-up (well clear) has landed a race since. The draw makes it a bit tougher for him and he is 4lb out of the weights. The Johnston pair Ifwecan and ALMARGO have good low draws and if they don’t go too fast out in front, they will be very hard to catch.

It seems to me as if races over this distance have fallen apart up front at times and Almargo especially is ideally suited for that to happen. He’s unbeaten still in 7f handicaps, which includes wins at Epsom Derby meeting and also in a similarly strong race at Newcastle. This is clearly his ground and trip and on a track that has to suit him, he’s got to have a major chance. Royal Seal is another who will relish the return to 7f which has seemed to suit him the best thus far.

Advice – Almargo 3pts win @13/2 Bet365

Glorious Goodwood 2014 – Day 2 Selections


2:30 – Neptune Investment Management Gordon Stakes (Group 3) (CLASS 1) (3yo)

elite army

Windshear has been unlucky to bump into some nice types this year and looks overlooked in the market tomorrow with conditions to suit

I use the word trappy a lot to describe a race, this is the definition of trappy. There’s plenty of potential Leger candidates taking part but there’s certainly no stand out yet for me. On figures Somewhat is the clear stand out but I cannot take his Eclipse run at all at face value. The trip should be fine and he is a danger if getting a soft lead. Snow Sky ran well at Royal Ascot considering he was more prominent than the rivals that beat him in a strongly run race.

The ground is a niggling worry for me. Observational got home over 11f here last time and is another big galloping type who has more to come while Cloudscape showed up well last time, potentially finally building on the huge promise he showed when landing a strong handicap at Newmarket’s Craven meeting. WINDSHEAR was second that day and only has one win from four to his name since, but has been runner-up on every other start and has been unlucky to bump into a few this season. He has seen the back of both Cannock Chase and Elite Army, two potentially top class colts, while the way the race panned out at Newmarket last time didn’t really seem to suit him and he’s better than that.

Potentially there could be one too good again but on this ground I think he is a big danger and he’s been well overlooked in the market. Red Galileo got a cracking ride in the Derby and it remains to be seen if he’s flattered by that, while Scotland is going the right way but I think he will struggle to confirm form with Snow Sky from Ascot given how well the race panned out for him.

Advice – Windshear 2pts win @17/2 generally



Other Races

Goodwood’s Wednesday card is a pretty uninspiring one from a punting point of view and I’m somewhat struggling to find many betting opportunities. The first looks likely to be a penalty kick for Maid In Rio, who is absolutely thrown in and should get the trip. She has looked a top class filly on the basis of her last two runs upped in trip and in a very modest race she should be taking this well. At 13/8 though I can leave her and watch her win.

If any were overpriced In my opinion it would be Presto Volante who is definitely better on the a/w but has hope of staying this trip and his form of late, including here, has been working out well. I’m not confident enough to tip though.

Kingman should be a notch above Toronado in the Sussex. The watering will aid him and for me he is the best miler we have seen for many years, obviously excluding Frankel. Toronado is a quality Group 1 performer but and will do his best to keep his Sussex crown, but he will need to improve a good 5-6lb for me to beat Kingman at his peak. I will be probably do a double between Kingman and Maid In Rio. Elsewhere the Vintage Stakes is very much not that, Highland Reel has had form boosts left, right and centre and bolted up over a mile last time.

The worry is a step back to 7f on a track like Goodwood as he certainly doesn’t lack the odd quirk. He should be too good for a relatively modest bunch. At a price I’d give Pallister a look, he’s a real long term prospect and could prefer a more galloping track but the extra furlong will suit.




5:30 – Galway Plate (Chase Handicap) (Grade A) (4yo+)

I’m writing a Jumps preview in July, what has happened to me? In all seriousness this is an absolute corker of a race and it wouldn’t be out of place at Prestbury Park in March anyway. JP McManus has had to revert to the purple cap he’s got that many runners and two time Festival winner Alderwood is a respected favourite upped in trip. McManus also has Wise Old Owl, while Charlie Longsdon brings over Vulcanite who is in fantastic form since his wind operation.

This trip could bring out more though whether his jumping can hold up in a field like this is another matter. Barry Geraghty is a surprising booking for Quantitativeasing while Market Rasen scorer It’s A Gimme is likely to find this far tougher. Dessie Hughes has both Art Of Logistics and Golden Wonder and both are ones for a big shortlist and in all I don’t think you can conclusively rule out a single runner.

However SPRING HEELED is a big favourite of mine and I think this horse can end at the highest level at some point. Good ground at this stage is key to him and though he won the Kim Muir from the front over 3m2f, I still think this is very much more his sort of trip. You’d expect him to be fully tuned here and he holds all the aces to run a huge race in such a competitive field. 16/1 is a cracking e/w price.

Advice – Spring Heeled 1pt e/w @16/1 generally (5 places Bet365, Coral & Skybet)

Glorious Goodwood 2014 – Day 1 Selections

My blog has been running for over three years now and at this stage interest has never been higher. I have now finished university, which means the future of the blog and where I’m going to take it is not clear at this stage and very much depends on future endeavours of which are also unclear as I write.

For now however I will be joining the team at Huge Value Horses where I will be tipping regularly on the Horse Racing side, particularly throughout the week. These are usually the tips I post on Twitter as I don’t have the time to blog every day. The blog and hopefully video blog too will still be updated at the times in which they are now, that is for the weekend Racing and any of the other major meetings and Festivals (Goodwood this week for instance where I still aim to post once every day).

There has been a lot of success of late, firstly gaining a real reputation during this year’s Meydan Carnival, which was extremely profitable. That form has continued throughout the Flat and June and July (with Pineau De Re at 100/1 in between those months) has again been very successful. I hope regular supporters and viewers will still support myself and the blog with this future endeavour. Anyway to the Racing and the opening day is a quiet enough one, but still some relatively decent e/w fancies at prices.

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1:55 – Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (4yo+)

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty is ready for another try at 10f after maturing considerably throughout this season

A strong opening handicap and in which the fact very little rain fell changes my thoughts on the race. At the head of the market is Stomachion, a good 2nd to Miss Marjurie at Epsom over 12f latest, but whether stepping back down to 10f is particularly the right move is open to debate. Similar can be said for Magic Hurricane who is generally pretty progressive though the ground is an unknown.

This strong travelling type may need a bit more Racing under his belt. Goodwood is very much about Richard Hannon and Mark Johnston and both have solid chances in this. The latter run Salutation, whose best form is at 12f but more importantly he does get his ground and is sure to be thereabouts with Michael Murphy taking off 3lb. Sennockian Star is not totally ruled out but i’d rather concentrate on the Hannon runners instead. SEA SHANTY has had one try at this trip and he wasn’t disgraced at all, but he’s taken his form to another level since and really looks in need of this sort of test now.

He won over the stiff mile of Sandown, needing every yard and then didn’t disgrace at all in the Hunt Cup. He’s taken to find a little more upped to 10f. The other runner Viewpoint won this last year and would have been of real interest If the rain had fallen. Of the others, Niceofyoutotellme is not handicapped out of it but he only runs well on certain tracks and Goodwood isn’t expected to suit. Luca Cumani is another respected in these races, he runs Ajman Bridge; he would need to progress. I’m Fraam Govan is worth keeping an eye on, he’s a handicapper to follow but is having his first run since December so may well need it unless market suggests otherwise.

Advice – Sea Shanty 2.5pts win @9/1 generally



3:40 – bet365 Summer Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo+)

I’d be surprised if this took much winning as there’s plenty of runners with question marks about them. I have little doubt Havana Cooler can end up better than most and that’s reflected in the market, but he hated every yard of Goodwood last year when a never nearer third and I think he needs a strong galloping track to see him at his best. The trip is what he wants and no rain helps so he may get away with it but I certainly would be opposing at the prices.

If he got beat today I would also contemplate backing him for the Ebor at a better price, as it is his sort of race. For today though I’m looking elsewhere. Dashing Star ran well in the Old Newton Cup last time, a race Havana Cooler also ran in. He’s a consistent type who should be thereabouts. Repeater is as quirky as they come and though Ryan Moore gave him an absolute wonder of a ride at Sandown latest, he still got beat.

Big Thunder is interesting considering the Prescott yard are going well now, though Van Percy is another quirky horse who I never like to have on side. Continuum won a modest York Listed contest last time but the handicapper hasn’t gone overboard and he should be thereabouts. The one I like is KING’S BAYONET for Alan King. He didn’t really take off over hurdles earlier in the year but has done really well on his return to the flat and after a romp at Leicester, he has continued his progress with victory again, this time in a better race at Chester off 82 over 12f.

Decent ground suits but he key to him now is he settles well. He is one that seems to enjoy quirky tracks according to his trainer and he is a big danger considering he is really going the right way now. The faster the pace the better for this strong travelling type but in a pretty average race, it’s a real surprise to see him readily available at 14/1.

Advice – King’s Bayonet 1.5pts e/w @14/1 generally



5:20 – Casino At bet365 Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 3) (4yo+ 0-90)

A big field over 5f to end the day with. Barnet Fair has looked likely to strike very soon and this could be where he gets the strong pace to aim at that he needs. He bumped into Racy on Sunday (who’d have thought we’d ever have to say that) in a better race and deserves to head the market. Daylight has taken ages to come to hand, he was a horse to follow last year, but he’s respected after winning his last two, albeit over 5f. Slip Sliding Away goes well here, while last year’s winner Tidal’s Baby is also not ruled out.

I may foolish to dismiss Long Awaited after backing last time as many like him tomorrow. He’s threatened to win a big one for ages and better ground at a track he goes well at could see him finally land a decent prize. However there’s one I pretty keen on here at a great price and that is APRICOT SKY. All his running and in fact winning has been over 6f and he hasn’t won anything better than a Class 5 but he ran really well for a very long way on his first try at the minimum at Sandown latest in a race that was far stronger than this.

He held up well in the firing line for a very long way and it impressed me. If showing that early speed again on a sharper 5f track like Goodwood then I think he will have a major chance especially for such a respected trainer in this sphere.

Advice – Apricot Sky 1.5pts e/w @16/1 generally