paul nicholls

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Horse Racing Analysis and Selections – Coral Scottish Grand National Declared Runners

Horse Racing Betting
The mighty Red Rum is the only horse to have won the Aintree Grand National and Coral Scottish Grand National in the same season and is likely to remain so if the two races continue to be scheduled as close to each other as they are this year. It's just seven days since the Merseyside marathon and it would be asking to much of a chaser who had completed the full 4m4f course at Aintree to be competitive over another (officially) 4m1f at Ayr in such a short space of time. The highlight of the jumps season north of the border is deserving of full attention in any case. It's worth more than £122,000 to the winner and was first contested more than 150 years ago, though not in the format now recognised It has been held at Ayr racecourse since 1966 after the Bogside course, which staged the race after the Second World War, closed down. The race often produces a close finish, more so than it's English equivalent, though this year's renewal will do well to match the drama of Aintree this season or the blanket finish of the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Scottish Grand National Trends

  • No horse younger than seven or older than 11 has won in the last 20 years with eight and nine-year-olds generally faring best
  • There are no discernible patterns regarding weight carried however those rated between 131 and 140 have an appreciably better strike rate than other with regard to both winners and placed horses
  • Reigning champion Vicente, also successful in 2016, is a trend-setter as he became the first horse last year to win the Scottish Grand National after failing to complete in his previous outing. Those who have been placed in their last race, or at least finished in the first half-dozen, seem to fare best
  • This is a not race for those chasers who have been around the block more than¬† a few times. All recent winners had raced no more than 25 times over fences
Vicente bids to become only the fourth horse in history, after Couvrefeu II, Southern Hero and Queen's Taste, to win the Scottish Grand National three times. Paul Nicholls' stayer was due to run in last week's Grand National at Aintree but was withdrawn because of the soft going. Conditions are going to be less testing at Ayr, unless they get more rain than expected on the morning of the race, and he's been lightly raced for his age. Though 6lb higher than last year, connections have probably had this has his long-term target but he's been priced up accordingly at a general 9/1. Joe Farrell (a general 33/1) could run well at those big odds if he settle and stays, but those are big 'ifs'. Regal Flow (a best 25/1) has found a new lease of life at the age of 11. He has won three times this season, including the Midlands Grand National last time when Silsol was only fourth, but has gone up another 10lb. Vintage Clouds and Beware The Bear were third and fourth in a valuable handicap at Cheltenham last month and both come into the reckoning at 11/1 with Betbright  and 20/1 with the sponsors respectively. Ballyoptic (11/1 with Betbright) is still a novice but beat Vintage Clouds in a Grade 2 at Wetherby in February and was then fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. He is much respected as his trainer has already won the race three times. Doing Fine (a general 12/1) is a proven stayer and his yard is back in the groove after a spell in the doldrums so he will have plenty of supporters but Neil Mulholland also saddles THE YOUNG MASTER. Sam Waley-Cohen's mount appears to have been around for ever but it's easy to forget he was only a seven-year-old when he won the bet365 Gold Cup over 3m5f at Sandown two years ago. He's not scaled the same heights since, failing to complete on four occasions, but now races off a 16lb lower mark and there was were encouraging signs at Cheltenham last time following a wind operation. The forecast good going is definitely a big plus and his very experienced amateur rider is still able to claim 3lb which means he will be able to carry the minimum 10st. If he is anywhere near his best, the 16/1 available with many bookmakers is a huge price (odds correct at 2.30pm on April 20).

Coral Scottish Grand National Current Best Odds

Vicente 9/1, Ballyoptic and Vintage Clouds 11/1, Doing Fine and Fagan 12/1, Gold Present and The Young Master 16/1, Henri Parry Morgan , Label Des Obeaux, Beware The Bear, Glencairn View, Sizing Tennessee and Looking Well 20/1, Regal Flow, Cogry and Silsol 25/1, Get On The Yager, Joe Farrell, West Approach, Indy Five, Mysteree and Sizing Codelco 33/1, Benbens 40/1, Fact Of The Matter and Straidnahanna 50/1, Alzammaar, Boa Island, Pearl Swan, Work Du Bretau and Racing Europe 66/1
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Cheltenham Festival Day Four Preview – Horse Racing Betting March 16

Cheltenham Festival
There is no Sizing John to defend his crown in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase but that's the only negative attached to what is a terrific renewal of the UK's most prestigious National Hunt race of the season and the feature on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. The four who chased home Sizing John 12 months ago are all back for more. Minella Rocco, Native River, Djakadam and Saphir Du Rheu are the quartet in question but only Native River arrives in decent form. He's had a much lighter campaign than when third last year and made a winning reappearance at Newbury. But he likes to be prominent and that could clash with the tactics on board Might Bite, another confirmed front-runner. Winner of his last five races over fences, including the King George at Kempton in December. He won the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last year but almost threw it away when trying to run out after jumping the last. He is a galloping machine but rarely foot-perfect and this opposition will put his jumping under maximum pressure. Nicky Henderson has already won the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase at this year's Festival but no trainer has ever won the Gold Cup as well in the same season and Might Bite is now contesting favouritism at a general 9/2 with Native River in the light of support for others. OUR DUKE (5/1 with Coral among others at the time of writing) won a Grade 1 at Leopardstown and the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in his first season as a chaser. That may have taken its toll as he ran a shocker on his reappearance in the Jnwine Chase at Down Royal on his reappearance and was then behind Edwulf, Djakadam and Outlander in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown but put that all behind him when successful conceding 7lb to Presenting Percy at Gowran. The runner-up was hugely impressing win winning the RSA Chase on Wednesday and Jessica Harrington may have unearthed a worthy successor to Sizing John. Definitly Red lacks winning form at the highest level but Brian Ellison's much-improved stayer has been very impressive in his last two starts and could reward each-way support at 888sport's 12/1. Road To Respect is consistent and adds to the interest.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Trends

None of the last 18 winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup have been aged older than nine. All but one had had a run in the previous three months and most had run over fences at Cheltenham before. Only two winners since 2003 had not finished either first and second in their previous start. Winning form over at least 3m is a good pointer and trends also favour those that have won a Grade 1 before. Nine of the last 10 winners had run three times or less in the current season. The top three in the betting have an excellent record.

Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

Might Bite and Native River 9/2, Our Duke 5/1, Killultagh Vic 10/1, Definitly Red 12/1, Road To Respect 14/1, Edwulf and Total Recall 16/1, Minella Rocco 25/1, Anibale Fly 28/1, Bachasson, Djakadam and Outlander 33/1, Double Shuffle 50/1, Tea For Two 66/1, Saphir Du Rheu 80/1, Shantou Flyer 100/1 The St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase is the Gold Cup for amateur riders and smaller stables, though some big yards are represented including Paul Nicholls, who saddles four runners including last year's first and second Pacha De Polder and Wonderful Charm. Ireland could be celebrating again, however, with Katie Walsh's mount FOXROCK fancied to get the better of the younger Burning Ambition at a generous-looking 8/1 (general). APPLE'S SHAKIRA can become the first filly in 18 years to win the JCB Triumph Hurdle and win the race for the second year in succession for owner JP McManus. She is fairly priced at 2/1 with 888sport given she's yet to have been seriously tested in three runs at Cheltenham. BOUVREIL might be a decent each-way bet in the closing Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase at the general 20/1 as he has a very good Festival record and is sure to be staying on when others have cried enough while we're liking the 28/1 with Ladbrokes about MELROSE BOY in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey's Handicap Hurdle. He found 2m7f just about too far last time and is still well handicapped. Some bookmakers will pay out on the first five places in this race.
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Cheltenham Festival Day Three Preview – Horse Racing Betting March 15

Cheltenham Festival
MODUS might be the value in the JLT Novices' Chase, which kicks off day three of the Cheltenham Festival. By his own high standards, Paul Nicholls hasn't had the best of seasons and doesn't have as many entries as normal at this year's Festival. But the former champion trainer believes he's found the right race for his charge, a 156-rated hurdler who travels strongly in his races and normally jumps well (his only defeat over fences came when falling at Exeter). Ditcheat still houses some very classy National Hunt horses and you can get 8/1 against Modus, who has run well at Cheltenham in the past.

JLT Novices' Chase Current Best Odds

Invitation Only 3/1, Terrefort 4/1, Finian's Oscar and Benatar 7/1, Modus 8/1, Shattered Love 17/2, Bigmartre and Snow Falcon 16/1, Kemboy 20/1, West Approach 40/1 Trainer Jedd O'Keeffe has faced some battles of his own in the past and his stable star SAM SPINNER is cast in the same mould. A dream ride for Joe Colliver, the stayer announced his arrival on the big stage when making all in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, beating a few of his rivals in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle in the process. Costing a mere ¬£12,000, it's a big day for connections as the six-year-old starts favourite for a Grade 1 contest at the Cheltenham Festival but the gelding has become a tough nut to crack when he has his conditions - ground on the heavy side of soft - and can justify a general quote of 4/1 ahead of the more-exposed Festival regulars Supasundae and Yanworth. UN DE SCEAUX and LAURINA can give the Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh combination yet another double in the Ryanair Chase and Trull House Stud Mares' Novice Hurdle respectively but the three handicaps on Thursday's card look less straightforward. That said, Patrick Mullins looks to have a fine chance of his own double on MALL DINI in Fulke Walwyn Challenge Cup Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase. The Irish amateur won Tuesday's National Hunt Chase on Rathvinden and now partners a former Festival winner who was fifth in the race last year under Katie Walsh and has been lightly raced since, though the general 5/1 is giving nothing away. Others with similar claims at bigger odds include Final Nudge (25/1 with William Hill) and Missed Approach, a general 12/1. It's lucky pin time with the regards to the Pertemps Network Final and Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase but DRUMCLIFF is better than he showed last time at Warwick over a trip too short and could reward each-way support at 25/1 with William Hill in the latter.    
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Cheltenham Festival Day Two Preview – Horse Racing Betting March 14

Cheltenham Festival
SAMCRO looks a banker in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the start of day two of the Cheltenham Festival. Gordon Elliott resisted the temptation to run his star novice in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle yesterday and probably has another Irish raider, Next Destination, to beat in this lesser contest, though nobody will be getting rich at the current best 8/11. Honours were fairly even between Ireland and the home team on the opening day of The Festival and day two promises to be just as competitive, though Irish eyes should be smiling again after the second race, the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase. This is as much a race for future stayers as yesterday's National Hunt Chase and Presenting Percy has been popular with ante-post punters and is set to go off favourite (currently a best 5/2). He won the Pertemps Final over hurdles last year for Patrick Kelly and has proved just as adept over fences but could find MONALEE a tough opponent. Henry De Bromhead's seven-year-old has always looked a chaser in the making, despite having the speed to finish second in last year's Albert Bartlett over the smaller obstacles. He's won both completed starts over fences, beating today's rivals Al Boum Photo and Dounikos in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last time, and the return to 3m is probably a plus - the 7/2 with Betbright looks a bit of value. Bryony Frost has developed a terrific partnership with Black Corton but this may be a step too far for the Paul Nicholls runner.

RSA Insurance Novices' Chase Current Best Odds

Presenting Percy 5/2, Monalee 7/2, Al Boum Photo 7/1, Black Corton and Dounikos 8/1, Elegant Escape 11/1, Ballyoptic 18/1, Bonbon Au Miel 25/1, Allysson Monterg 50/1, Full Irish 100/1 The Coral Cup comes under the 'too hard' category while a late injury scare has dampened enthusiasm for backing ALTIOR at a best 5/4 in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and who's to say which of Willie Mullins' five runners in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper will prove best but TIGER ROLL could be worth an interest in the Glenfarclas Chase over the cross-country fences. Gordon Elliott won the race last year with Cause Of Causes, ridden by Jamie Codd, and that partnership has been backed for a repeat (a general 11/4). But the stable also run Bless the Wings, who has run over the cross-country fences, and Tiger Roll. The latter won the National Hunt Chase at the meeting last year and his run behind Bless The Wings at Cheltenham in December had all the hallmarks of a prep race, though he's now into a general 6/1. The Last Samuri is the potential fly in the ointment but the Aintree specialist will have to adapt quickly to the unique challenge of the obstacles.  
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Betdaq Handicap Chase Odds and Preview – Horse Racing Betting February 24

Horse Racing Betting
The Grade 3 Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton is the big betting race this Saturday and is on a card that also features three Grade 2 races which should provide a few final pointers for next month's Cheltenham Festival.

Betdaq Handicap Chase History and Trends

Betting exchange Betdaq are re-entering the world of horse racing sponsorship with a bang. They've been away from track sponsorship since 2016 but have their name on this long-established chase for the first time this year having taken over from bookmakers BetBright. This race was first run in 1949 but it wasn't until the Racing Post took over sponsorship in 1988 that prize money improved significantly. Run over 3m, the race features 18 fences at Kempton and has become an established Grand National Trial. Rhyme 'N Reason, in 1988, and Rough Quest, in 1996, both won the Racing Post Chase before winning at Aintree. BetBright sponsored the race between 2014 and 2017 but now it's up to Betdaq to raise its profile. Two chasers have won the Betdaq Handicap Chase twice - Docklands Express and Nacarat - and Theatre Guide, third last year and successful in 2016, will carry top weight this year in an attempt to follow their lead. This is generally a race in which those with decent recent form fare well and those officially rated 139 or higher have won 13 of the last 15 renewals. It also a race for younger chasers with only one of the last eight winners having been older than nine. However, Kempton is a flat, easy course so winning form over 3m isn't necessary. Despite the name, Acting Lass is a gelding and the general 7/2  favourite having won all three starts over fences. He's never raced beyond 2m5f but, as explained above, that shouldn't be a problem. Master Dee looks a solid each-way bet at 13/2 with Coral as he has yet to finish out of the places over fences in 11 starts, though hasn't run since November. ART MAURESQUE ticks plenty of boxes and could be the value bet at a general 14/1. Paul Nicholls' eight-year-old fell at the first on his only previous try over 3m but is back on the same mark as when winning at Chepstow last season. He couldn't live with Waiting Patiently at Kempton last time but the winner is in the top bracket over fences nowadays and Harry Cobden's mount jumped superbly. If he puts in a similar performance this weekend, many of his rivals will struggle to cope. At a general 20/1, Label Des Obeaux also catches the eye and the consistent mare Theatre Territory also looks overpriced at 14/1.

Betdaq Handicap Chase Current Best Odds

Acting Lass 7/2, Master Dee 13/2, Tintern Theatre 8/1, Go Conquer 9/1, Art Mauresque, Theatre Territory and Ballykan 14/1, As De Mee, Josses Hill and Theatre Guide 16/1, Relentless Dreamer, Vibrato Valtat and Label Des Obeaux 20/1, Loose Chips and Monbeg Charmer 25/1
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Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle Preview – Horse Racing Betting February 3

Horse Racing Betting
It's the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this Saturday with three Grade 1 races on an excellent seven-race card but the big betting race on the others side of the Irish Sea is the Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle History and Trends

Betfred have sponsored this Grade 3 event since 2014 but lost their first year to the weather. The race itself is more than 30 years old and was sponsored by the Tote for many years. Raced over a few yards short of 3m, this is generally not a race for younger hurdlers with only one five-year-old winning since the turn of the century, though only one 10-year-old or older has been successful and that was back in 1988 - there are five in that latter age group this year. Only one winner in the last 20 years has carried more than 10st 12lb to victory and that was the brilliant Baracouda in 2004. None of the last 10 winners has been rated higher than 135 but most recent winners ran in a Class 3 or higher before turning up at Sandown. Both Philip Hobbs and Paul Nicholls have trained the winner on three occasions in the last 13 years. There is undoubtedly more to come from Topofthegame, who has only run five times. He was fourth in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last month having fallen on his reappearance in a chase at Newbury. He's possibly overpriced at 13/2 with Coral given he is vying for favouritism in other lists with easy Fontwell winner Melrose Boy. The latter is a general 11/2 but this is a huge step up in class for Harry Fry's runner while Dashing Perk (10/1 with Coral) steps out of novice company for the first time having beaten three rivals at Wincanton, though could be on a decent mark. Taj Badalandabad (a general 16/1) came right back to form in a decent race at Leicester last week but has been hit with an 8lb rise. King Of Fashion, available at 16/1 with William Hill, is interesting as he's weighted to get a lot closer to a race-fit Kris Spin than at Ayr in November, where he travelled strongly for a long way. He'll strip fitter here and has since joined the astute Kerry Lee but OKOTOKS is also worthy of a mention. Formerly with Tony Martin in Ireland, where he won twice, the eight-year-old attracted plenty of market interest on his first run for Fergal O'Brien at Cheltenham in December. He found the 2m1f too short but there was promise in his showing and the form of that race has worked out really well. This test should be much more to his liking and there remains untapped potential and value at the 25/1 with Coral.

Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle Current Best Odds

Melrose Boy 11/2, Topofthegame 13/2, Dashing Perk and Golan Fortune 10/1, Flemcara 12/1, Prime Venture 14/1, Beat That, Folsom Blue, King Of Fashion and Taj Badalandabad 16/1, Buywise 20/1, Kris Spin, Okotoks and Fourth Act 25/1, Theligny, Ubak and Man Of Plenty 33/1, Doesyourdogbite 50/1
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Sky Bet Chase Odds and Preview – Horse Racing Betting January 27

Horse Racing Betting
The Sky Bet Chase is the big betting race at Doncaster this weekend and also the most valuable contest on the card, even though there are three Grade 2 events preceding it.

Sky Bet Chase History and Trends

The Sky Bet Chase, formerly known as the Great Yorkshire Chase, is Doncaster's biggest race of the National Hunt season. First staged in 1948 and run over 3m, there has been a modern trend for stables to target this Listed handicap with up-and-coming young chasers. Three of the last eight renewals have been abandoned due to frost but conditions look set fair for this Saturday's meeting, though the going is likely to lean towards soft. Only one of the last 12 winners has been aged 10 or older and there have been only five winners in that age bracket since the race was first run. The last four winners have carried under 11st but Ziga Boy won't be bidding for a hat-trick of victories in the race after becoming the first to record back-to-back wins in 2017. One significant trend in this Grand National trial is that none of the last 12 winners had won more than three times over fences previously. Only one winner in that time carried more than 11st 2lb and winning form over at least 3m seems to be an advantage. It's easy to see why L'Ami Serge has been well supported in the ante-post market. He is a high-class staying hurdler but it is a bit of a concern that the eight-year-old's regular jockey Daryl Jacob has gone to Cheltenham and it's more than two years since he last won over fences. Long House Hall produced a career-best to land the Summer Plate at Market Rasen last July but hasn't been seen since and the going will be against him. Wakanda likes soft ground and ran a cracker in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby over Christmas. He's only nine but fully exposed in races like this. Vibrato Valtat was only beaten a neck by Mustmeetalady over the course and distance last time and is 2lb better off but his stamina will be tested on the going and Flying Angel didn't appear to get home over 3m1f at Aintree. Warriors Tale has done most of his racing over shorter distances but has won over 3m and wasn't stopping when back to form at Newbury last time over an extended 2m6f. There is definitely some value in the 14/1 with William Hill about Paul Nicholls' runner and Pilgrims Bay will probably travel strongly into the race again and makes some appeal for each-way purposes at the general 12/1. Backing maidens in handicaps is usually the fast track to the poor house but THUMB STONE BLUES could be the exception that proves the rule. Trainer Kim Bailey is generally not one to tilt at windmills and the novice returns to the scene of a wide-margin victory on soft going over hurdles last year. He's not been beaten far in any of his three runs over fences and stays 3m and further. Ciaran Gethings' 3lb claim reduces a feather weight even further and he will come into the reckoning if conditions turn really testing - he can still be backed at 14/1 with Betfred.

Sky Bet Chase Current Best Odds

L'Ami Serge 3/1, Flying Angel and Wakanda 9/1, Long House Hall 10/1, Pilgrims Bay 12/1, Thumb Stone Blues, Vibrato Valtat and Warriors Tale 14/1, Label Des Obeaux, Mustmeetalady, and Tenor Nivernais 16/1, Coologue and Federici 20/1, Minella On Line 28/1
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Coral Welsh Grand National Updated Line-up and Odds – Horse Racing Betting December 27

Horse Racing Betting
The Coral Welsh Grand National is run over a shorter distance than both the Aintree Grand National and Scottish Grand National. However, it's traditional slot in the days after Christmas means that it is rarely run on anything but soft or heavy going. It is, therefore, arguably more of a stamina test than either of it's counterparts run in April and it's not uncommon for more than half of the field to fail to finish at Chepstow (a maximum of nine have completed in four of the last five years).

Coral Welsh Grand National History and Trends

The Coral Welsh Grand National is the big betting race over the Christmas period but it wasn't until 1979 that it was allotted it's now traditional slot. First run in 1895, it was run at the now-defunt Ely racecourse near Cardiff until 1947. After one year at Caerleon, also now no longer a racecourse, it was moved to its present home at Chepstow in 1949. The race has produced four Cheltenham Gold Cup winners - Burrough Hill Lad, Cool Ground, Master Oats and Synchronised - since the 1980s but is better known as a guide to the Aintree Grand National. Corbiere and Earth Summit completed the double in the same season while Rhyme ‚Äėn‚Äô Reason, in 1998, and Party Politics, in 1992, both finished second at Chepstow before winning on Merseyside. Recent form at Chepstow has become a major factor in the Coral Welsh Grand National in recent seasons and winning form at the track is also a plus. But this is generally not a race for fully-exposed staying chasers as only two winners in the last 40 years have been aged 10 or older and no nine-year-old has won since 2003. Only two winners since the turn of the century have carried more than 11st but last year's winner, Native River, was one. Notre Pere won the race for Ireland in 2008 but that was a rarity and no chaser trained in the northern half of the UK has won since 1984. Native River carried top weight to victory last year and Paul Nicholls would not be running VICENTE unless he thought last year's Scottish Grand National winner was capable of a big run. Only 17lb separates the top weight from the bottom weight this season so the eight-year-old welter burden is not as much of a disadvantage as first appears. He ran a super race on his reappearance at Cheltenham and that will have put him pot-on at Chepstow, where he can be backed at 14/1. Beware The Bear and¬†Bishops Road, first and second in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, are a best 8/1 and 16/1 respectively and both can figure again. The former won despite a slipping saddle at Gosforth Park.¬†Chase The Spud, 10/1 with several bookmakers, won last season's Midlands National at Uttoxeter and beat a subsequent winner on his reappearance at Haydock. But Mysteree has the beating of him on these terms and is available at 12/1. Rock The Kasbah's record is Chepstow is three wins and two seconds from five runs so he can't be left out of calculations at the general 9/1.

Coral Welsh Grand National Current Best Odds

Beware The Bear 8/1, Rock The Kasbah 9/1, Chase The Spud 10/1, Folsom Blue 11/1, Wild West Wind, Ask The Weatherman, Final Nudge and Mysteree 12/1, Vintage Clouds and Vicente 14/1, Bishops Road and Pobbles Bay 16/1, Raz De Maree and Milansbar 20/1, Houblon Des Obeaux 22/1, Silsol and Sir Mangan 25/1, Buckhorn Timothy 33/1,  Splash of Ginge and O'Faolains Boy 40/1
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Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Odds and Preview – Horse Racing Betting December 16

Horse Racing Betting

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup History and Trends

This valuable handicap chase was first run at Cheltenham in 1963 when the race was known as the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup. It retained that title until 1980 but has had several sponsors and title changes since. Boylesports supported the race from 2006 to 2009 as the Boylesports.com Gold Cup and the 2010 renewal was run as the Vote A P Gold Cup as part of a successful campaign to encourage racegoers to vote for Tony McCoy in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. In 2011, noted racehorse owner Andy Stewart backed the race to promote his Spinal Research charity until it was taken over by its current sponsors. Paul Nicholls has trained the winner in four of the last eight years and is responsible for three of the 11 overnight entries this season. This is very much a race for the top National Hunt yards with smaller stables struggling to compete now that the season is in full swing. Only one of the last six winners has carried more than 11st to victory and, since the turn of the century, no chaser aged older than eight has been successful and only three have been placed from 49 runners stretching back 13 years. Official ratings have also been significant lately with the last five winners all being rated between 133 and 149, though that would include all bar the top two this year. This is run on the New Course at Cheltenham and its demands are different to the Old Course, on which Splash of Ginge was a surprise winner of the BetVictor Gold Cup last month. Second Starchitect, third Le Prezien, fourth Ballyalton and fifth Romain De Senam all re-oppose on better terms and age is also against Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge in this. The ante-post market suggests Haydock winner Clan Des Obeaux will be the pick of the Nicholls' trio but he'll need a career-best to defy top weight. A similar comment applies to Deauville Dancer while Long House Hall's lengthy absence will surely count against him. KING'S ODYSSEY was on the heels of the leaders and travelling strongly when falling in this last year. Dropped 7lb since, he is now only a pound higher than when scoring over course and distance on heavy going at the start of last year and a recent spin at Carlisle over a trip too short should have blown away a few cobwebs. With a clear round, the 8/1 with Stan James could be a decent bet.

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Current Best Odds

Clan Des Obeaux 9/2, Starchitect 6/1, Le Prezien and King's Odyssey 8/1, Ballyalton 9/1, Splash of Ginge 10/1, Romain De Senam 12/1, Long House Hall 14/1, Foxtail Hill 16/1, Guitar Pete 20/1, Deauville Dancer 33/1
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Ladbrokes Trophy Odds and Preview – Horse Racing Betting December 2

Horse Racing Betting

Ladbrokes Trophy History and Trends

The most important staying chase in the first half of the National Hunt season, the Ladbrokes Trophy was first staged at Cheltenham in 1957. It moved to Newbury in 1960 and has been at the Berkshire course ever since. Jumping superstars Mandarin, Arkle and Denman are the only horses to have won the race more than once and it's hard to believe that it is seven years since the latter defied 11st 12lb to complete his double. Contested over three miles and two-and-a-half furlongs, the race is a true test of jumping ability and staying power and a genuine trial for the Grand National next April - the ill-fated Many Clouds did the double in 2014/15. Bob's Worth won the Hennessy in 2012 and went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following spring and this year's renewal looks well up to standard, though it's going to be odd calling it the Ladbrokes Trophy when everyone in racing knows it better as the Hennessy Gold Cup. All of the last five winners have carried at least 11st 1lb and class is becoming increasingly important. Only four of this year's field fall into that category, including 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree. But, apart from Denman in 2009, no winner since the turn of the century has been aged older than nine so the top weight, pulled up on his reappearance at Wetherby, is passed over. Of the last seven winners, only one has had a bigger SP than 10/1. Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have both trained the winner three times since 2002 so their combined representatives, numbering four in total, are obviously worth a second look. Henderson's Whisper (a general 8/1) is one of those that fits most trends and he's already won this season, a match at Kempton. But that's earned the gelding a penalty and there may be a few who are better handicapped including stablemate Vyta Du Roc, 12/1 with the sponsors and sure to strip fitter for a pipe-opener over hurdles. Paul Nicholls runs the fast-improving Present Man (a general 16/1) and Braqueur D'or (a general 33/1), but this is a stiff task for both. Willie Mullins won this in 2002 with Be My Royal but no Irish-trained runner has been successful since. However, the yard have Munster National winner Total Recall entered this year and he is currently favourite at 5/1. Stable companion Pleasant Company has less obvious claims but no big chase would be complete without a Gigginstown runner and Noel Meade's A Genie In Abottle is bidding to make three out of three this season under Sean Flanagan. AMERICAN (7/1 with Ladbrokes) didn't make it to Cheltenham or Aintree last season so didn't test himself against the very best but he remains a high-class staying prospect and a further 9lb rise in the weights is fully justified judged by the way he demolished a decent field at Uttoxeter in March. The second has already won this term and earlier victories at Exeter and Warwick have also worked out well. He's entered in both the Welsh National and Cheltenham Gold Cup and they will be realistic targets if he extends his unbeaten record over fences at Newbury. Of those further down the weights, Cheltenham first and second - Cogry and Singlefarmpayment- have attracted support and are a best 20/1 and 7/1 respectively but the former does still take the odd risk at his fences and jumping is paramount around here.

Ladbrokes Trophy Current Best Odds

Total Recall 5/1, American and Singlefarmpayment 7/1, Whisper 8/1, A Genie In Abottle and Vyta Du Roc 12/1, Coneygree 14/1, Present Man and Royal Vacation 16/1, Cogry 20/1, Carole's Destrier, Missed Approach and Pleasant Company 25/1, Label Des Obeaux, Braqueur D'or, Southfield Royale and Potters Legend 33/1, Pilgrims Bay, Bigbadjohn and Double Ross 40/1, Regal Encore 50/1
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