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paul nicholls

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Horse Racing Betting

I just wish that, sometimes, the racing authorities would find a name for a race that they are comfortable with and just stick with it. Of course, they can’t because the demands of sponsorship dictate otherwise. Henceforth, the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham this weekend is now the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

Caid Du Berlais won the Paddy Power Gold Cup over the same course and distance exactly four weeks ago, when Edgardo Sol and Ericht finished behind and Easter Meteor was pulled up. Paul Nicholls‘ five-year-old has only had four runs over fences so more improvement should be forthcoming and a second big pay-day isn’t out of the question off a 5lb higher mark at the 7/2 with Coral, Skybet and Paddy Power. Stan James are a stand-out 13/2 about Barakilla, who made a promising reappearance when third at Sandown, but Evan Williams‘ charge still has a bit to prove at this level. Darna bolted up at Sedgefield following a lengthy absence and is a general 14/1 but there are obvious concerns about how he’ll perform here and he’s gone up 10lb since. Quicker ground is a worry for Ascot scorer Niceonefrankie (a general 12/1) but No Buts (8/1 with BetVictor) looks capable of handling any surface. He won nicely at Sandown last time but was behind Barakilla at that track earlier and is actually 10lb worse off.

ATTAGLANCE has run 10 times over fences but is still chasing a first win. That’s a bit of a mystery as he’s run well in some very tough handicaps, including a couple at Cheltenham. Fourth in the 2013 Paddy Power Gold Cup, he only found one too good at The Festival in March and is sure to have benefited from a fifth in a Listed chase at Market Rasen in September where he made up ground hand-over-fist in the closing stages. The handicapper seems reluctant to release his grip but the general 10/1 is a cracking price for each-way punters and it would be no surprise if Malcolm Jefferson‘s eight-year-old finally got his head in front. Splash Of Ginge may be too high in the weights and the general 14/1 is about right while Carrigmorna King seems better on flat tracks. He’s 16/1 in most places, however, which could attract a few given his stable’s good run of form.


11th December 2014 / paul - Category: Horse Racing Betting

Horse Racing Betting

Tidal Bay has stood his ground in this weekend’s Coral Scottish Grand National and that hasn’t done the majority of rivals any favours. As the veteran stayer can only carry a maximum of 11st 12lb, 21 of the 32 runners will have to carry more than their allotted weight. Paul Nicholls‘ 13-year-old (a general 14/1) didn’t get far in last week’s Crabbies Grand National so should still be relatively fresh but will again have to produce his very best to defy some more unexposed types.

Nicholls also runs Sam Winner (10/1 with most bookmakers), who has developed into a decent novice this term, though whether he’ll stay this 4m1f trip is anybody’s guess. Green Flag (9/1 in several places), also still a novice, has been fancied for the Scottish Grand National since an excellent run in a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham. Locally-trained, he’s taken really well to fences and is definitely one to follow in staying races in coming years but would possibly have preferred an easier surface.

Yes Tom is 14/1 with Betfred, BetVictor and Ladbrokes and another fancied to go well. He’s travelled over from County Antrim and has a good record on the track with two wins and six places from nine previous visits. Roalco De Farges was a comfortable winner at Newbury last time and may still be well treated. He’s a general 14/1 while Mendip Express has impressed this season, though reportedly broke a blood vessel when well behind Sam Winner last time. Harry Fry‘s eight-year-old is only a best 10/1 with Coral and Paddy Power however.

Last year’s winner Godsmeajudge tries again but has been out of sorts this season and is a general 16/1 for a repeat – none have managed that for almost 30 years. Alpha Victor (a general 25/1) was second in the Midlands Grand National and appears to have the beating of general 33/1 chance Fill The Power on that run but had a hard race at Uttoxeter.

TRUSTAN TIMES has only had five runs over fences and has only tackled the larger obstacles once since 2012. His relative inexperience could be a disadvantage in a big field like this but he could be the best handicapped horse in the race. Tim Easterby might well have had this race in mind for a while and he ran a cracking trial over hurdles in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. He only finished a neck behind subsequent Crabbies Grand National hero Pineau de Re giving that one 4lb.  He’s rated 10lb lower over the fences so the fact that he’s racing from out of the handicap here won’t affect him as much as most. The 73/5 on betfair could look decent odds by off time.

11th April 2014 / paul - Category: Horse Racing Betting

Cheltenham Festival Betting

It was David Pipe and Tom Scudamore‘s afternoon on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. The partnership won the Ryanair Chase with Dynaste and Ballynagour returned to form in spectacular fashion in the Byrne Group Plate, a race in which he had flopped when sent off a hot favourite 12 months earlier.

Scudamore now has three winners to his credit this week having only managed two in previous Festivals and he has high hopes for KINGS PALACE in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on the final day. Only a general 7/2, despite plenty of money for Briar Hill (a general 6/4) who won last year’s Champion Bumper and is unbeaten over hurdles, the six-year-old looks to have everything in his favour as he is proven on good ground and at the track. Kings Palace really attacks his hurdles and has plenty of stamina and, though facing a very strong field of promising stayers, could have most of them on the stretch if he gets into a rhythm.

The JCB Triumph Hurdle opens proceedings and will hopefully see better luck for the Paul Nicholls stable and retained jockey Daryl Jacob. He was almost in tears as he was beaten in a photo finish on board Southfield Theatre in the Pertemps Final and the yard could do with a lift after Big Buck’s eclipse in the World Hurdle. Nicholls went close with Katgary in the Fred Winter on Tuesday but has struggled for winners at The Festival in the last two years. Hopefully CALIPTO can put things right at 9/2 with Boylesports.

Last Instalment (9/1 with bet365) was very impressive when beating several of his rivals in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month and collateral form does suggest he’ll make BOBS WORTH work hard for another victory in the week’s Blue Riband event. But the reigning champion is such a tough individual that he’s likely to find more if challenged and is now a backable price at a general 2/1 – he’s never lost at Cheltenham and has now won at the last three Festivals. Silviniaco Conti was still going well when falling last year and won the King George in December. He ‘s 4/1 with Boylesports but is possibly better suited by a flat track.

The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase is now the accepted finale and has 24 runners, just to make sure punters suffer until the very end. NED BUNTLINE could strike a blow for the cause by coming home in front however at 10/1 with Boylesports, BetVictor and Stan James. Novices have a really good record in this 2m handicap and one can just see Paul Carberry creeping quietly into the race on the six-year-old, who is only rated a pound higher than when placed in a Grade 2 over hurdles last season.

13th March 2014 / paul - Category: Cheltenham Festival Betting

Cheltenham Festival Betting

There are two Grade 1 races on the penultimate day of The Festival and some old faces bidding to recapture past glories.

Big Buck’s missed out on the Ladbrokes World Hurdle last year through injury but is back to bid for a fifth win in the stayers’ championship. The 11-year-old made a satisfactory reappearance on the course in January and the roof would be raised at Cheltenham if he were to show his younger rivals a clean pair of heels. He is a 4/1 chance in several places but Paul Nicholls‘ yard has struggled for winners at The Festival so far, though Katgary was an unlucky loser in the Fred Winter on Wednesday. Willie Mullins, by comparison, is the meetings leading trainer so far and it’s significant that he thinks his ANNIE POWER will be suited by the step up in trip in the World Hurdle. She looks a natural successor to the brilliant Quevega, who is also entered but unlikely to run after her heroics on Tuesday. The younger mare is still unbeaten and nothing seems able to get her off the bridle – maybe time will tell that her general 13/8 quote this year was decent value. Paddy Power will give you your stake back if your selection finishes second to Annie Power in this and Betfred will double your SP if you back her and she wins by more than four lengths.

The other Grade 1 is the Ryanair and here the Nicholls team may have better luck as AL FEROF looks the class act back over a more suitable trip after failing to last 3m on heavy ground at Newbury last time. The 5/1 with Paddy Power, Unibet and 888sport looks too big if you take into account that the grey had the speed to win a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2011, ahead of Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card. Menorah (10/1 with Betfred) could be an each-way alternative if his run in the King George has blown away a few cobwebs.

COLOUR SQUADRON deserves a change of luck and is the selction for the Byrne Group Plate at a stand-out 9/1 with Boylesports but the opening JLT Novices’ Chase is a really tricky race to call. There are at least half-a-dozen with reasonable claims but the five-year-old VUKOVAR possibly has more scope than the majority of his rivals and can be backed at 9/1 with Boylesports. The closing Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir is also wide-open but OUR FATHER could represent a bit of value at a general 20/1.


12th March 2014 / paul - Category: Cheltenham Festival Betting

Cheltenham Festival Betting

The William Hill Imperial Cup is a £70,000 race but that’s not the only prize that runners’ connections will be thinking of. There is a £100,000 bonus on offer for the winner if he, or she, follows up at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.

Anthony Honeyball, trainer of Regal Encore, almost won the Champion Bumper last year with his grey and would relish the chance of going for the bonus next week. The six-year-old’s second at Hexham in December looked a disappointing effort at the time but winner Seeyouatmidnight has turned into a very useful novice and the general consensus is that Regal Encore isn’t badly handicapped at Sandown off a mark of 130. A P McCoy takes the ride and there will be plenty wanting to snap up the 3/1 with bet365, BetVictor and Paddy Power. The same odds are also available on betfair currently but surely the general 7/2 about VIBRATO VALTAT offers equal value.

Paul Nicholls certainly knows how to place his young hurdlers and the five-year-old also looks well treated off the same mark as Regal Encore. If anything, he has the better form having won a Listed race at Exeter last month with plenty in hand. The second horse that day, Tiqris, was cantering all over the opposition when brought down two out at Newbury last week. Vibrato Valtat had earlier made the 140-plus rated Vaniteux work hard for victory over the course and distance of this weekend’s feature and the latter is a leading fancy for Tuesday’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Baltimore Rock is a best 13/2 with Stan James and still improving but this might be too big a test for David Pipe‘s charge at this stage of his career while New Year’s Eve ( a general 9/1) looks to have a bit of a soft centre and may not relish a battle up the Sandown hill.  But the stiff finish should suit Gassin Golf, who stays further, and I’d advise an each-way interest at a general 12/1 on Richard Lee’s lightly-weighted maiden. He generally runs in competitive races and will surely pick up a nice prize over hurdles before long. There have been signs of life from Somemothersdoavem lately and he’s a general 20/1 while Little Jon could be one to follow in future campaigns, if not today. He’s a best 25/1 but Vibrato Valtat looks the best handicapped horse in the race.

7th March 2014 / paul - Category: Cheltenham Festival Betting

Horse Racing Betting

Monbeg Dude takes in the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster this weekend as the former Welsh National winner steps up his preparations for the Crabbie’s Grand National at the beginning of April. Michael Scudamore‘s stayer is a general 6/1 on Town Moor as he bids to prove his fitness having suffered a setback since winning a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham before Christmas. Paul Carberry, who rode the gelding to his biggest win, is back in the saddle and he’ll be thereabouts if back on song but this is a competitive event in which a few can be fancied.

Godsmejudge, winner of the Scottish National in 2013, is another who is Aintree-bound. Alan King has brought him along quietly this season but the better ground at Doncaster will suit and he’s available at 11/1 with Betfred. Paul Nicholls runs Harry The Viking (8/1 with Paddy Power and on betfair), who has won twice on the course and is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, but he finished behind Golden Call (8/1 with Unibet and 888sport) on his latest start though ahead of  Storm Survivor (a general 12/1). Wayward Prince has run in exalted company but has his own ideas about the game and is a general 14/1. Better is expected from Night In Milan (a general 12/1), however, as he got bogged down in the mud in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster in January when attempting to make all. He generally runs well on the course but couldn’t handle COURT BY SURPRISE when receiving 3lb here last season and is conceding weight this weekend.

Emma Lavelle‘s nine-year-old was pulled up in the Grimthorpe a year ago but was unsettled by a mistake at the first and never travelling thereafter. He has yet to finish out of the frame this season and goes well fresh so a break since December may be a plus. The quicker surface is certainly in his favour and, as he falls within the historically ideal weight and age range, the widely-available 5/1 could prove to be decent odds come off time though it would be no surprise to see Real Milan run a big race from a lowly mark. Donald McCain‘s charge is a stand-out 11/1 with Coral. Renard, 20/1 with the same firm, may not have the stamina for the longer distance however.

28th February 2014 / paul - Category: Horse Racing Betting

Horse Racing Betting

BetBright are a relatively new name on the bookmaking block and the Dublin firm are sponsoring what used to be known as the Racing Post Chase at Kempton this year.

It’s worth almost £57,000 to the winner so has attracted a decent collection of experienced handicappers and up-and-coming chasers. Interestingly, seven of the last 11 winners arrived off the back of a victory but there are few definite factors when it comes to solving the annual puzzle though Tour Des Champs (a general 12/1) would be bucking the trend if winning with only 10st 1lb on his back. Recent winners have carried at least 10st 5lb and most have carried 11st or more.

Philip Hobbs has saddled a couple of winners since the turn of the century and relies on old stager Planet Of Sound (a general 10/1) this year. The 12-year-old made a winning return to action last month when beating Jump City (a general 14/1) over the course and distance of the BetBright Chase. The winning distance was only two lengths, however, and the runner-up is 4lb better off this weekend. The latter is trained by Paul Nicholls who has the current favourite BURY PARADE (4/1 in most places) as well as Grandioso (9/1 with Coral and William Hill). The pair met over 2m6f at Ascot recently with the former coming out on top by five lengths. But the seven-year-old is 4lb better off now so it should be a lot closer at Kempton. However, the top weight is an improving chaser and looks capable of holding his own at a higher level. I can’t see any real reason to oppose him given few of the others have the same scope.

Alan King is another trainer with more than one string to his bow. Choc Thornton rides recent course and distance second Midnight Appeal in preference to Bless The Wings so one would presume he’s the stable pick. Midnight Appeal (a general 14/1) is normally Wayne Hutchinson‘s mount but he will now ride Bless The Wings (16/1 with Coral). Tom George trained last year’s winner Nacarat and has What’s Happening (14/1 with Unibet and William Hill) in the line-up but more interesting is Ardkilly Witness. Possibly the only runner with the same scope for improvement as Bury Parade, Richard Newland‘s novice ran well at Sandown last time but gives the impression that he’d prefer a stiffer test of stamina and he’s only a best 6/1.

21st February 2014 / paul - Category: Horse Racing Betting

Horse Racing Betting

Tidal Bay has been allotted top weight of 11st 10lb for the Crabbie’s Grand National on April 5. Paul Nicholls‘ 13-year-old was entered for last year’s Aintree showpiece but was ruled out through injury. He has returned as good as ever this season, however, winning a Grade 2 hurdle at Wetherby and finishing in the frame in the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Theoretically well treated, he is available at 18/1 on betfair and vying for favouritism with Teaforthree. Rebecca Curtis‘ 10-year-old, a general 16/1,was only ninth in the Welsh National but having his first run since finishing third in the Grand National last year. He’s scheduled to carry 2lb less this season so must be on everyone’s short-list given his light campaign, though came up short against Monbeg Dude on a couple of occasions last season. The latter is a thorough stayer and has improved again this term, winning a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham in November. Rested since, he’ll have another 8lb to carry at Aintree and will probably take in The Festival first but Ladbrokes25/1 is tempting at this stage.

Nicky Henderson‘s Newbury Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo D’Alene has already won over the Grand National fences and is 25/1 with sportingbet and Ladbrokes. But he was raised 10lb for his Newbury triumph and, only a seven-year-old, his time may not yet have come. Last year’s Scottish National hero Godsmejudge was an early market mover after the weights were announced but has settled back to a general 25/1 while the 2012 Irish Grand National winner Lion Na Bearnai has attracted some interest but is still a general 40/1.

Cape Tribulation is a classy sort who may have been let in lightly, though whether Malcolm Jefferson will be keen an another of his stable stars tackling the Grand National fences after AccordingtoPete’s demise a couple of years ago is a moot point. The 10-year-old is a general 50/1 but, at the same odds, I could get interested in Soll.

Jo Hughes‘ gelding is available at that price with Ladbrokes and looks to have been aimed for the race in which he finished seventh last year when carrying more than his allotted weight. He made a couple of errors but jumped well in the main and will be right on the minimum weight if Tidal Bay stands his ground. A couple of runs so far this season at Sandown for the former Willie Mullins‘ inmate have been quite encouraging and he’d be my early selection.

12th February 2014 / paul - Category: Horse Racing Betting

Cheltenham Festival Betting

The last weekend in January is always a significant one looking ahead to the Cheltenham Festival. It was trials day at Cheltenham on Saturday and the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday with implications for the Champion Hurdle, World Hurdle, Gold Cup and Triumph Hurdle.

Hurricane Fly did his prospects of defending his Champion Hurdle crown in March no harm at all at Leopardstown. Despite fears that a bruised foot, which had interrupted training, would hamper him. Willie Mullins‘ 10-year-old won the Irish Champion Hurdle for a record-equalling fourth time and is now a best 57/17 with Unibet to triumph again at Cheltenham. The horses he beat, Our Conor and Jezki, are 7/1 (Coral) and 14/1 (BetVictor and Stan James) respectively in the Champion Hurdle but I can see no reason why they should fare any better in seven weeks’ time. The New One is a general 7/2 and the best of the home team, according to bookmakers, who have his Christmas Hurdle conqueror My Tent Or Yours at a general 9/2.

Betting for the World Hurdle was shaken up when Big Bucks failed to extend his winning run on his return from injury in the Cleeve Hurdle. Paul Nicholls‘ stayer led at the last but was overtaken by outsider Knockara Beau and a back-to-form At Fisher’s Cross on the run to the line. The latter could be a Cheltenham specialist and is now only a general 7/1 for the World Hurdle. Big Bucks is still favourite as he is certain to strip fitter in March but can now be backed at 5/2 with Boylesports and Titanbet. The unbeaten mare Annie Power, impressive again at Doncaster on Saturday, is 7/2 with William Hill.

Le Rocher won the Triumph Hurdle Trial but is still a 12/1 chance for the opening race on Gold Cup day with Ladbrokes as doubts remain over whether he’ll be as effective on better ground. Ivan Grozny is 9/1 with the same firm and Calipto is a general 12/1 but the four-year-old’s championship race promises to be one of the most open at The Festival. Few Gold Cup clues could be gleaned from the Argento Chase as The Giant Bolster again showed his liking for Cheltenham when forging clear of Rocky Creek. David Bridgwater‘s stable star has already finished second and fourth in Gold Cups but has been found wanting against the top staying chasers this term and you can back him at 33/1 for the big race this year. The second probably won’t go for the Gold Cup but closing third Harry Topper is likely to take his chance. He’s a general 50/1 but will need to jump a lot better than he did on Saturday.

27th January 2014 / paul - Category: Cheltenham Festival Betting

Horse Racing Betting

The Skybet Chase, formerly the Great Yorkshire Chase, has a rich history and is the highlight of Doncaster‘s national hunt season. It’s regarded as a Grand National trial but, there again, what decent 3m handicap chase nowadays isn’t, and there has hardly been a catalogue of Aintree winners emerging in recent years.

Favourites also have a pretty poor record, with only one market leader in the last eight years obliging, which doesn’t bode well for the chances of Unioniste. Paul Nicholls‘ six-year-old is the clear choice of bookmakers at a best 5/1 (BetVictor), despite only beating one home on his latest appearance. That was the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, however, and he’d won a Listed chase earlier at Aintree when beating Paddy Power Gold Cup sixth Wishfull Thinking by seven lengths. We’ll have to wait and see to discover whether that performance merited a mark of 153.

This is almost always a race for the less-exposed chaser so I am going to ignore last year’s Grand National hero Auroras Encore (33/1 with BetVictor and William Hill), fellow veteran Roberto Goldback (16/1 with Betfred) and the once-useful Time For Rupert (also a general 16/1) while Gullinbursti was disappointing when only third at Newbury last month. He’s short enough in the betting, even at bet365‘s 9/1, while the gambled-on Kruzhlinin will have to defy yet another career-high mark if he is to complete his hat-trick and has only won once outside of Scotland (and Carlisle is only just south of the border). He is a best 9/1 as well.

NIGHT IN MILAN looks to have most things in his favour and can confirm his progressive profile over fences by landing this nice prize at Paddy Power and Stan James8/1. He made a successful return to the larger obstacles when winning over the course and distance of the Skybet Chase six weeks ago, beating another recent Doncaster winner Mart Lane (a general 10/1) and subsequent Leicester scorer Baile Anrai (a general 16/1). He also finished a close second in one of only two previous runs at Doncaster and seems to enjoy its galloping nature. The one worry is that something will take him on for the lead but he is such an exuberant jumper that I believe he can hold off all-comers and come home in front.

Solix could improve for the fitting of a visor and might be an each-way saver at a widely available 25/1 but the Keith Reveley-trained chaser can make it a night to remember for followers.


23rd January 2014 / paul - Category: Horse Racing Betting

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