We’re on. Hurrah! Doncaster is off due to frost but both Taunton and Huntingdon passed early morning course inspections. So we have our first jumps racing for a few days.
It can be frustrating going days without proper racing (i.e. not Mickey Mouse all weather flat racing during the jumps season tosh!)
But we cannot beat the weather and, so far at least, National Hunt meetings have got off lightly this winter when it comes to ice, snow etc.
Trainers need their horses to run at this time of the year and some of the bigger stables have horses running today. For a Thursday, the racing looks good.
The obvious one in the opener is the one that has won lesser races very easily in the recent past. That is Nordic Nymph. The hat trick may be on today and, at 9/4 and 2/1 I suppose the price is OK. But the rise in the handicap and class of race makes me want to take on the favourite. The Henry Daly trained Nordic Nymph may win doing handstands, but not for me at that price.
Tony McCoy rides one first time up in a handicap and Capard King could be a threat to all.
Minella Bliss is consistently placed at a lower class of racing, but Nordic Nymph has beaten that one in the past.
The 8 pound rise in the handicap for course and distance winner Giveitachance is a concern but I am minded to give it a chance of following up the one length victory here last November. The gelding finished a long way clear of the third horse that day and that was also, like this race, a Class 4 handicap hurdle.
I won’t throw caution to the wind in this instance. At odds of 13/2 with Coral currently, I shall play safe.
Each Way Giveitachance 13/2
In a field of 9 there are two in here that have raced against much better opposition and I make no apology for hedging my bets and being on both, in different ways, and at very different prices.
AP McCoy rides the unexposed favourite Forthefunofit which, at a current best price of 15/8 is worth a bet. Beaten into third at Cheltenham last time out that was a better race and a race won by the highly rated Alan King trained Ulzana’s Raid. Forthfunofit got within 5 lengths of the winner, which is not to be sniffed at.
The possible spanner in the works is another Alan King horse. His past course and distance winner Midnight Appeal returns to hurdling after a good spell over the bigger obstacles. The handicap mark of 128 may be a lenient one. The last time Midnight Appeal raced from such a low handicap mark was in a much higher grade of hurdle race. In that Class 1, Grade 2 affair he came third behind the subsequent Grade 1 winner Coneygree.
In their own ways, both bets represent potential value in the market as at 9am prices. An each way bet on Midnight Appeal is a must for me.
Win Forthfunofit 15/8. Each Way (Nap) Midnight Appeal 9/1
For the member who pointed the finger and said I only tipped favourites (a far, far greater insult than saying the tips are “shite”!), take note.
I shall take on the favourite here. For better or worse. At the time of writing the price on the Venetia Williams trained Mudita Moment is drifting. That doesn’t concern me or the horse. After all, the gelding doesn’t know his price is getting bigger, does he?
He returned to racing following a 277 day absence when a distant third in this type of race at Towcester last December. The winner Premier Portrait is a good horse and the runner up that day, Broadway Symphony, has gone on to win another race of this class with ease.
The obvious favourite is the Charlie Longsdon trained Bob Tucker. But I didn’t get where I am today by always backing the favourite!
Each Way Mudita Moment 8/1
Here I go again, hedging my bets.
I am not as keen on this race as the ones previously mentioned over at Huntingdon.
But the top weighted Paul Nicholls entrant Alto Des Mottes was an 8 length runner up last time out and followed home a Nicky Henderson horse that has won a better race since, also by 8 lengths. So, at the current 9/4 or above, I’m willing to back the favourite to win despite the big weight. If the price shrinks to 2/1 or less, I will leave it alone.
The lowest weighted horse came second on debut and carrying over a stone less than Alto Des Mottes should ensure that What a Scorcher is competitive come the finish.
But for my each way followers, at a current price of 9/1, I shall also back the Philip Hobbs trained Sternrubin. A distant runner up last time out, the winner that day has since finished third in a much better race. It’s a speculative bet on a horse from a trainer who has already had an excellent season.
Win Alto Des Mottes 9/4. Each Way Sternrubin 9/1
The front two in the market here are each priced bigger than I expected.
Course and distance winner Abundantly has drifted out to 5/1 with Bet365 at the time of writing. This is tougher than the novices’ event the mare won here in January, but she did win by a resounding 13 lengths and that came after a whopping 366 day absence from racing. Liam Treadwell rides for the incomparable Venetia Williams.
Then there is the Paul Nicholls trained Amanto. Last time out the gelding finished third, three and a half lengths behind Aso – the last named has gone on to win a Grade 2 race since. Sam Twiston-Davies rides and the gelding is officially 2 pounds ´well in´, or ahead of the handicapper.
It is not a two horse race, far from it. But those two mentioned are each racing first time in a handicap, hence the price of 5/1 being available for each. For me it’s a very close call between the pair. I’ve played ‘chicken’ and backed both Amanto and Abundantly to win. As long as one of them does, I’ll be in profit.
I know. Backing against yourself is shameful and I should go to confession. Hey! It’s my money. I’ll do what I bloody well like!
But, if pushed, I choose the boy.
Win Amanto 5/1
Nap of the Day: Each Way – Midnight Appeal
Next Tips: Friday (weather permitting)
VG Thought for the Day: If you haven’t bought a ticket for the Cheltenham Festival yet, be quick. It’s not long now! You’ll remember the experience forever.