Back Guitar Pete at 6/1

Post race update:  Guitar Pete went off at 7/2 but unseated at the 10th while still travelling sweetly.  I’ve seen some criticism of his jumping, and he is no Altior, but it’s sound enough and he can recoup losses next time when, hopefully, the ground is better.

Working to £1 stakes, we are £1 down on “recommended” bets for 2018

The improving Guitar Pete is due to run at Ascot on Saturday in the Bet365 Handicap Chase (3pm).

He was fortunate last time at Cheltenham, well adrift of Starchitect when that clear leader sadly broke down fatally. But Guitar Pete has found his feet after joining Nicky Richards last spring from Sandra Hughes and is beginning to build a progressive profile.

I’d fear Robinshill more than Acting Lass, though Robinshill can take big chances with his jumping at times and has a tendency to jump left.

I think Guitar Pete could be as short as 4/1 on Saturday. Normally, at this stage of the week I’d wait and see but his trainer has said he goes here (that can never be relied 100%, but Richards is usually straightforward) and I’d sooner take a small risk to get the 6/1. Although the horse has not won in Britain going right-handed, he has won twice that way in Ireland. This will be his first appearance at Ascot.

I recommend a win bet at 6/1 which is currently available with Coral and Betvictor.

Good luck


Bet North Hill Harvey to win the Arkle

March could see the hottest Arkle Chase for many years. Petit Mouchoir and Footpad have already blazed early markers with fine victories this season, jumping being the highlight of both. Finian’s Oscar has been a much more careful jumper in his two fencing outings so far, but he could easily get slicker and his engine might prove the biggest among the two-mile novices. Brain Power is a horse I’ve always liked. He looks like a steeplechaser and his fencing debut is awaited with interest.

But the horse who’s shown he’s more than up to the challenge is North Hill Harvey. He won his second chase on the trot today with a fine performance at Cheltenham. Last time at the track he beat Sceau Royal and the promising Movewiththetimes who led Finian’s Oscar at the last yesterday.

For a 16/1 chance (four or five bookies offer that) North Hill Harvey has an awful lot in his favour:

  • He’s a fine jumper on the whole, especially at speed and should continue getting slicker
  • The trainer is still learning about him and might well be able to improve him a fair bit more
  • And, not least, he loves Cheltenham, being 3 from 5 there with excuses the other twice.

Also, he acts on any ground by the look of things. Today he ran off an official rating of 149. That will go up 7 to 10lbs in my view, putting him well within striking distance of achieving a 160+ rating come the Festival. Seven of the past 10 Arkle winners have been rated 161 or lower. When Nico de Boinville was invited to comment ob River Wylde’s performance today as runner up, a long way behind North Hill Harvey, he finished by saying, ‘and we were beaten by a good horse’. Nico has never been one for overstatement.

I think North Hill Harvey should be no more than 10s for this and I strongly recommend you bet him at 16/1. Each Way is not advised on antepost bets so far ahead of the meeting. If for some reason he misses the race, it’s as well to have just one stake riding on it.

Good luck


A big-priced weather-based double for Cheltenham

10570720-1600x2400Cheltenham’s superb drainage will be sorely tested if this weather doesn’t relent very soon. The potential silver lining on the storm clouds is that two particular horses are only likely to turn up for the big week if the going is soft or worse – Harry Topper in the Gold Cup and Melodic Rendezvous in the Champion Hurdle.

Betvictor offer them at 2o/1 and 25/1, non runner – no bet. If the trainers stick to their plans (the Festival is always so tempting if a horse is well, no matter the going), then both will start quite a bit shorter than their current prices.

Harry Topper has the slight disadvantage in that he seems to close his eyes approaching a fence, but he clocked an excellent time at Newbury when winning the Denman Chase, running the trip 18 seconds faster than Smad Place did later that day.blind horse

I’m not sure how good Melodic Rendezvous is – he tends to run in snatches at times, but he’d be staying on just about the best of them on deep ground. He’s due to run at Wincanton on Saturday and should win there.

Anyway, they’re well worth a speculative EW double, in my opinion.

Good luck


Charlie Hall Chase winner could be decided before dawn

Long_Run_CheltenhamWhat happens over Wetherby racecourse in the dark hours between now and sunrise could decide the outcome of the feature race, the Charlie Hall Chase at 3.35. The BBC’s moving weather map shows rain will fall twice before dawn, though there’s no reliable indication of how heavy it will be. The more the better for supporters of Long Run and Harry Topper, and probably Unioniste. Not only will very soft ground improve their chances, it might seriously affect the likelihood of Benefficient seeing out the trip. I advised twitter followers this morning that Benefficient was good value at 10/1, and he has shortened throughout the day. If the rain stays away, he could go off around 6/1.

Apart from Long Run, Benefficient is the only Grade 1 winner in the field (he’s won two of them). He’s a big horse, a Cheltenham Festival winner, who seems to be improving as he matures. Whether that improvement will bring with it the ability to last this trip out against the likes of Long Run, we shall see. If it remains good to soft, soft in places, as it was today, I think he’ll have every chance. Even at 6/1 or so, if underfoot conditions are not too taxing, he’d be worth a bet through the Racing Post App (or William Hill mobile app), as you get your stake returned as a free bet for horses finishing second in Channel 4 races.  If it turns very soft, or heavy, Benefficient is probably best avoided, as a serious stamina test will greatly increase the probability of Long Run winning it.

Long Run is a fine animal. I’ve never backed him, mainly because I thought he was badly over rated after his first Gold Cup win. I have no problems with the jockey and I think Sam Waley Cohen takes an awful lot of unmerited flak. His ride on Rajdhani Express at the Festival was a superb one and he’s highly talented. He just doesn’t get the race-riding ‘practice’ of the pros, otherwise, I’ve no doubt he’d be in the top flight. Long Run also has an inclination to leave his hind legs in a fence, especially under pressure. If the ground stays decent and they go a good clip, you could see one or two mistakes from him. I’m convinced he needs a serious stamina test these days.

Kim Bailey says Harry Topper is the best he’s had since Master Oats, and it would please many in racing to see KB with another top class horse. Harry Topper beat Benefficient at Newbury, but the Irish horse has improved 18lbs on official ratings since – Harry Topper 12lbs. HT is hugely promising but still needs to prove he is up to this class, whereas Benefficient has his two Grade 1s in the trophy cabinet. However, if it turns very soft, I’ll have a saver on Harry Topper through the apps mentioned above.

Of the others, I think Unioniste is a bit of a plodder. At this level, you need to be able to pull something extra out, and I don’t think has it to pull. He’s poor value in my opinion, although he’s another who would benefit from plenty rain.

The remainder are thoroughly exposed and outclassed.

It’s great to see the top-notchers back at the start of a new season. Let’s hope they all come back safe and sound.

Good luck


Left it late but bet of the year at 25/1 to pay for Christmas

cash_in_handI fancy Cue Card very strongly to win the King George VI Steeplechase at Kempton on Wednesday.  If he does so, he will almost certainly shorten dramatically for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. If he wins convincingly, he might even end up favourite for that race.

If he loses on Wednesday, it’s highly likely lack of stamina will be blamed (assuming he completes the course), in which case he will not run in the Gold Cup.

Betvictor offer 25/1 against Cue Card winning the Gold Cup. If he is a non-runner, your stake will be refunded as a free bet (which must be used on Gold Cup day in March: read the full terms and conditions ). In ‘normal’ ante-post bets, your stake is lost if the horse does not run in the specified race.

If Cue Card shortens in the Gold Cup betting, you will, if you wish, be able to ‘sell’ all or some of your bet on Betfair (if he wins I will post a Betfair video tutorial showing you how to do this). Selling (laying  off) ensures you cannot lose from the deal. If he loses at Kempton and for some reason still runs in the Gold Cup without shortening in the betting then you will not be able to lay the bet off profitably (I cannot foresee circumstances in which this would happen).

If you take advantage of this offer, you might also want to have a bet on Oscar Whisky at 6/1 for The World Hurdle. Betvictor’s free bet also applies here and if Oscar Whisky runs (he has a choice of races at the festival) he is likely to be around 2/1 or shorter, thus providing another selling opportunity.

I need to state the usual caveats that this is not investment advice. I have no direct link to the connections of Cue Card and my judgement of where he will run, and how his connections will interpret the result of Wednesday’s race is based  on my own experience, so it is not without risk. If he does not turn up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, you will, of course need to find another selection to carry your refunded stake, but that is a much healthier position to be in than losing it without a run.

Good luck and happy Christmas


Oscar Whisky well worth the risk at 7/1 for World Hurdle

binocularsWith Big Buck’s announced out for the season with injury, the World Hurdle has its most open look for many years (assuming BB does not make a recovery, as Kicking King and Binocular did).

Bookmakers make Quevega favourite at between 3/1 and 11/2. Oscar Whisky can be backed at 7/1 a price that owes more to the doubt that he might miss the World Hurdle for the Champion Hurdle.

But his trainer Nicky Henderson seems to be growing increasingly convinced that Oscar Whisky was amiss last year when beaten in the World Hurdle. The immediate post-race reaction was that he’d failed to stay but Mr Henderson said in a recent interview that he thought the horse might well have been amiss that day. “Can you really believe he didn’t stay? He finished absolutely unconscious. He was virtually wounded he was so bad. He virtually dropped to the ground.”

Does that sound like a man who wouldn’t like another crack at the World Hurdle, especially minus Big Buck’s? Add to this the fact that Mr Henderson has Grandouet, Darlan and Binocular for the Champion Hurdle. He will, of course, need to persuade Mr Walters. who owns Oscar that the World is at his feet. But at 7/1 I’m willing to take the chance on that.

If he lines up for the race, I suspect he’ll be closer to 7/4 than 7/1

Good luck


Cue Card now looking a very strong bet for King George

binocularsThe victory of Bobs Worth in the Hennessy Gold Cup franked the form of Cue Card who had failed by just a short head to give that top class horse half a stone at Newbury last season over 2m 4f. Some say Cue Card would have won that day had his jockey not looked round after the last fence.

Cue Card went on to run 2nd in the Arkle to the brilliant Sprinter Sacre who beat the Tizzard horse 7 lengths. But  Cue Card was 22 lengths clear of the third, Menorah with Al Ferof (who’d made a bad mistake) back in fourth. Sprinter Sacre’s astounding performance at Sandown yesterday forged a gold edged seal on that Arkle form.

First time out this season Cue Card won the Haldon Gold Cup over an extended 2 miles 1 furlong, by 27 lengths. Best Mate won the Haldon Gold Cup by 20 lengths the year before he won his King George.

Cue Card has won over 19f on soft ground at Newbury and over 20f on good at Chepstow where he comfortably beat fellow chasing debutant Silvianaco Conti.

Cue Card can be a tricky ride; he dislikes restraint and often has to make is own running. The hot pace of the King George should suit although it will also test his stamina on his first attempt at 24 furlongs. His jumping, touch wood, is pretty sound these days though, like Sprinter Scare, he is not always straight in the air – there can be a degree of lateral movement which sometimes leads to him screwing slightly on landing.

Still, I would say he has the most solid form in the race. I fear Al Ferof and have had a saver on him, but the 7/1 about Cue Card holds strong appeal. The race is definitely his target according to his trainer and unless a training mishap derails him, he will be there on the day. I suspect, by then, the 7/1 will have shrunk to 11/2.

Bearing in mind that ante-post bets are losers if your selection does not run, some might be willing to sacrifice a point or two in price and wait for the day.

If you decide to back him for the King George, you’d be as well having a small bet at 33s for the Cheltenham Gold Cup too. If he wins well at Kempton he might drop to a single figure price for the festival showpiece.

Good luck