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Monday 12 November 2018

6.45 Chelmsford, Tuesday, November 13

Despite being by Derby winner Sir Percy out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, and being trained by the most successful trainer in the history of British horse racing, Mark Johnston, Gemologist has shown only limited signs of ability, at least so far. However, the Double Delight Hat-Trick Heaven at Handicap (6.45) at Chelmsford on Tuesday evening is scraping the bottom of the barrel, in terms of quality, so, with the step up to 1 mile 5 furlongs and 66 yards seeming in her favour, the filly may yet be seen in better light.

She returns from a 215-day break and her two previous efforts at the Essex track, albeit over 1 mile 2 furlongs, were moderate at best. On the most recent occasion, in March, she finished sixth of eight, beaten 8¼ lengths, after finding no extra in the closing stages, but that was in a 0-65 affair, off a handicap mark of 62. Notwithstanding the step up in distance, here she contests a lowly 0-50 handicap, off a handicap mark fully 12lb lower, so it would be no real surprise if she showed improved form on her return to action.

Indeed, apprentice Andrew Breslin takes off another 5lb, so I suspect that – despite her illustrious pedigree – without a forward showing in the company, her days at Middleham Moor may be limited. Let’s hope, for all concerned, that she turns out to be the proverbial “diamond in the rough”.

Selection: Chelmsford 6.45 Gemologist to win

Monday 5 November 2018

3.20 Nottingham, Wednesday, November 7

November Handicap Raceday at Doncaster on Saturday officially brings down the curtain on the Flat season, but there is no shortage of runners at Nottingham on Wednesday and the Bet at Handicap (3.20), for which 17 runners are declared, provides us with an opportunity for a midweek tilt at the ring.

One or two of those with recent winning form may be better suited by softer ground and/or a sharper track, but one who should be perfectly at home over a galloping five furlongs on the prevailing good going is the topweight Secret Potion. Ronald Harris’ four-year-old has been raised 6lb in the weights for winning a similar race on the Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton eight days ago, by just a head, but the pick of his turf form, this season and last, suggests he’s far from impossibly handicapped.

Notwithstanding a poor effort at Brighton three starts ago, the son of Stimulation, from the family of top-class sprinter Choisir, has been in fair form since returning from a 71-day break at Lingfield in August. His third of 17, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind Our Oyster Catcher – who runs in the 2.50 at Nottingham on Wednesday – in a 0-70 contest at Bath on his penultimate start was a particularly strong effort in the context of this race. Champion apprentice-elect, Jason Watson, who has a 2-8 (25%) strike rate for the yard, for a level stakes profit of 11.50 points, takes the ride for the first time, which provides cause for optimism.

Selection: Nottingham 3.20 Secret Potion to win 8/1

Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Top 10 Racecourses in the World

Heading to the races is a time-honored tradition that has lasted centuries and continues to thrive in countries all over the world today. Whether we're celebrating regal events like the Royal Ascot or exciting sporting moments like the Melbourne Cup, racecourses are places where people of all backgrounds have congregated for hundreds of years to enjoy the festivity, pomp, and energy that racecourses provide.

Given that the sport of horse racing has such a rich historical pedigree, there are a number of racecourses around the world that are not only unique spaces but also historical monuments in their own right. Here's our round-up of the top ten racecourses in the world today, where you can experience the sport at its very best.

Source: Pixabay

Ascot, Berkshire, England

The palatial Ascot racecourse is home to one of the most prestigious events in the British calendar, the Royal Ascot, which has been going every year for a total of 307 years. The event was launched during the reign of Queen Anne and since then the extended royal family, including Queen Elizabeth herself, congregate in the beautiful grounds of this stadium to watch the races amind flowing fountains of champagne and unbelievably high bets. 

Churchill Downs, Kentucky, United States

The Churchill Downs is home to what is probably the most famous horse racing event on the planet, the Kentucky Derby. Named after the original owners of the site, the entrepreneurial brothers John and Henry Churchill, this gorgeous stadium has since been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States government. While the grounds itself are nothing short of majestic, the building which houses them underwent a $100 million renovation ten years back, transforming into one of the most cutting-edge racecourses out there. 

Flemington, Melbourne, Australia

Located in the suburbs of Melbourne, Flemington is also a recognized historical landmark, having hosted the most prestigious horse racing event in Australia since 1840. The main event is, of course, the Melbourne Cup, which sees millions and millions of dollars wagered every year on this single momentous day. The event takes place in November every year, with celebrities, royalty, and regular racegoers all keenly keeping track of the latest odds on sites like Oddschecker to try and make it their turn to win a million-dollar payoff. The event is quite fittingly known as "the race that stops the nation", as all eyes will be on Flemington come November. 
Source: Pixabay

Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy

Definitely one of the more unique entries on this list, given the age and location of the racecourse. Set in the ancient heart of the gorgeous city of Siena, this track acts as one of the city's central squares for most of the year. However, twice a year this oval-shaped piazza becomes the epicenter of the biggest sporting event in Italy, the Palio di Siena, where the best thoroughbreds in Europe flock to race it out among the throngs of screaming crowds. The race has been taking place here since at least the 14th century, and some would argue that the manic energy and indescribable buzz hasn't changed a bit since then. 

Happy Valley, Hong Kong

A day spent at Happy Valley is a racing experience like no other. Set in the heart of the megacity of Hong Kong, this open-air racecourse is surrounded on all sides by the dense apartment blocks and office buildings which characterize this iconic city. Happy Valley was first constructed back in 1845 to provide entertainment to the colonial British administrators who then ran the island of Hong Kong, and the old-world character remains to this day. Given the largely uninhabitable and hilly terrain of Hong Kong, this spot was one of the only viable places to build a racecourse. Since then, the city has sprung up around it, making for one of the most interesting backdrops to a horserace you'll ever see.

Greyville, Durban, South Africa

Despite the name, a day out at the Greyville racecourse is always a colorful affair. Although home to some of the most prestigious racing events in South Africa, you can also expect to see plenty of hawkers selling delicious food on the grounds as well as some of the most affordable beer around. The site has existed in one form or another since 1843, and since then virtually every member of the British royal family has paid homage to this site by participating in race day festivities. The backdrop is also stunning, with views of the entire skyline of Durban visible from the grandstands. To make the most of these unique views, make sure to go there just as the sun begins to set and the light reflects off the colorful skyscrapers of downtown.

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

Cheltenham is another prestigious center of British horseracing, a place where the elite of the country has congregated for the annual Cheltenham Festival for over two hundred years. Set within the heart of the Cotswolds, the gargantuan 68,000 seater racecourse hosts more Grade I horse races than anywhere else on Earth and gives out more prize money than any event bar the Kentucky Derby. 

Source: Pixabay

Meydan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

If places like Cheltenham and Ascot represent the old world of horseracing, then the Meydan represents the new world. This towering, jaw-dropping structure was completed just a few years ago and exists in truly Dubai fashion. The ultra-modern venue is home to a 5-star luxury hotel, a marina, a nine-hole golf course and a conference center, all spread out over a whopping 7.5 million square meters, making it one of the largest racecourses in the world. 

Tokyo Racecourse, Tokyo, Japan

The Tokyo racecourse opened in 1933, and the art-deco influences of the era are still clearly visible today. The space itself is awe-inspiring, with enough room to fit over 200,000 racing fans, often being packed to capacity on big race days such as those in the prestigious Asian Mile Challenge. The racecourse is also kitted out with sushi restaurants, saki bars, and ramen stands so you can get your Japanese cultural fix in one spot.

Longchamp, Paris, France

Opened in 1857, the Longchamp racecourse in Paris probably wins the award for the most stunning racecourse on Earth, featuring perfectly-manicured grounds and some truly palatial interior design dating from the height of the Belle Epoque period. It is home to what is arguably the most prestigious horse racing event in Europe, the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, which sees the great and good from across the continent flocking to this space to taking part in the most high-stakes racing around.

All racecourses have an innate attraction, given the festivity and fun they are associated with. Some, however, are better than others, and a trip to one of the ones listed above is an experience you'll never forget.

Sunday 26 August 2018

4.35 Ripon, Monday, August 27

Gulf Of Poets
with an opportunity to resume winning ways. Michael Easterby’s 6-year-old hasn’t been seen since June, presumably because of the protracted spell of fine weather, but, with the going at Ripon already good and rain forecast, may finally have underfoot conditions in his favour. He’s won a couple of times on good ground, in any case, so he should be fine even if the ground doesn’t soften appreciably.

Obviously, an absence of 114 days is a slight worry, but the Oasis Dream gelding won on his reappearance this season and last, so probably doesn’t need that much preparation. He’s 1lb higher in the weights than when third, beaten two necks, behind Original Choice in a similar race at Wetherby last time and, consequently, 4lb worse off with the second, Hayadh. However, while Rebecca Bastiman’s 5-year-old ran a little better over course and distance nine days ago, he has still failed to trouble the judge in four starts since, so it would be no great surprise if Gulf Of Poets reversed the form on this occasion.

Gulf Of Poets is drawn in stall nine of ten, which isn’t ideal on a course that typically favours low-drawn front runners, but his overall level of form is high and jockey Nathan Evans knows him well enough to have him in the right place at the right time.

Selection: Ripon 4.35 Gulf Of Poets to win 6/1

Monday 23 July 2018

7.40 Leicester, Wednesday, July 25

is hardly the most topical selection, but Derek Shaw’s five-year-old appeared admirably suited by rattling fast ground when winning at Doncaster last month and still looks feasibly weighted on his best form. So far, the son of Footstepsinthesand has reserved his best form for the South Yorkshire course, where he’s won three times, but needed every yard of 7 furlongs on Town Moor last time, so this stiffer test of stamina should play to his strengths. Indeed, he’s won a couple of times over a mile on the Polytrack at Chelmsford and ran respectably on his most recent effort over this course and distance, just over a year ago, so 7 furlongs on this galloping, testing track could be just what he needs at this stage of his career.
Granted the current heatwave,

On his last visit here, he finished a never-nearer fifth of eight, beaten 4½ lengths, in a 0-95 contest off a handicap mark of 89. A 5lb rise for winning at Doncaster still only takes back up to a mark of 78, so it’s difficult to argue that he’s not well handicapped if he retains most of his old ability. He was fifth of 15, beaten just 2 lengths, in a 0-95 contest over 7 furlongs – albeit, once again, at Doncaster – off a handicap mark just 1lb lower as recently as June this year, so there’s every reason to believe that he does.

Selection: Leicester 7.40 Welliesinthewater to win 5/1

Tuesday 3 July 2018

5.20 Thirsk, Wednesday, July 4

The Watch Racing UK on BT TV Handicap (5.20) at Thirsk on Wednesday isn’t a great race, even allowing for the 0-70 grade, but Jessinamillion appeared to appreciate his first experience of the North Yorkshire course just over two weeks ago and may be able to build on that effort in first-time blinkers. From the family of Primo Dominie, James Bethell’s four-year-old showed his first form of the season when fourth of 15, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind Fyrecracker over course and distance last time.

It’s fair to say that the form hasn’t really worked out, with the first and second both beaten in the 0-65 contest won by Munthany at Wetherby 12 days ago. However, off a handicap mark of 65 – his lowest ever – with the possibility of the headgear eking out a little further improvement, Jessinamillion looks worth a chance to confirm the promise of his previous course and distance effort. He’s only had 10 races in total and remains unexposed over 7 furlongs on a sharp or fairly sharp track, so while he’ll never set the world on fire he still retains at least a little potential.

James Bethell has a fairly dire 3-38 (8%) strike rate at Thirsk over the last five seasons and jockey Andrew Elliott is 0-7 for the yard in that period, so the statistics provide little succour. On the upside, though, as a horse from a yard with a poor record at the course, Jessinamillion may well be underestimated by the bookmakers.

Selection: Thirsk 5.20 Jessinamillion to win 6/1

Monday 25 June 2018

3.40 Salisbury, Wednesday, June 27

In the Coors Molson Handicap (3.40) at Salisbury on Wednesday, Mr Top Hat has yet to win beyond 6 furlongs, but both his pedigree and style of racing suggest that stepping up to a mile won’t do him any harm. On his most recent outing, over the testing 7 furlongs at Sandown, he led at a good pace and, although readily held by the winner, Rum Runner, he kept on well to finish second, beaten 1¼ lengths. His previous form, over 6 furlongs at Leicester – another testing track – has worked out well, with the winner, Gabrial The Saint, far from disgraced in a hot 0-105 handicap at York and the second and fourth, Elnadim Star and Airshow, winning next time.

David Evans’ three-year-old steps back up to 0-100 level off a handicap mark 1lb higher than at Sandown but, while his sole win came on heavy going here last October, he appears fully effective on the prevailing good to firm going, so he must have a decent chance of regaining the winning thread. Jockey Fran Berry has a fair, if unspectacular, 11-52 (21%) strike rate on three-year-olds for the yard over the last five seasons, for a healthy level stakes profit of 25.25 points. Hopefully, the Kildarian can steer Mr Top Hat to a second course win.

Selection: Salisbury 3.40 Mr Top Hat to win 4/1

Sunday 3 June 2018

5.10 Leicester, Monday, June 4

Twin Appeal
drops into this grade for the first time since winning, off a 4lb higher mark, at Wolverhampton over the winter and ran well enough in a gentleman amateur riders’ race at York last time to suggest his turn isn’t far away. In fact, David Barron’s 7-year-old is 10lb lower in the weights than when last winning on turf, at Musselburgh just over a year ago and, while he’s remained winless for 15 subsequent starts in that sphere, he’s undeniably well handicapped.
In the Betvictor’s £Priceup Builder Handicap (5.10) at Leicester on Monday,

Indeed, the Oratorio gelding was only beaten 1½ lengths in a 0-95 contest over course and distance last summer off a handicap mark of 91 so, with capable apprentice taking off a further 5lb, he must have an outstanding chance if anywhere near his best. He has winning form on good to firm going so, while he does appreciate a little ease in the ground, he should be effective enough on the prevailing good going to take advantage of a lenient handicap mark. His draw, in stall 11 of 17, isn’t the best, but the draw bias on the straight course at Leicester isn’t huge and he should give us a decent run for our money.

Selection: Leicester 5.10 Twin Appeal to win 11/2

Tuesday 1 May 2018

4.55 Ascot, Wednesday, May 2

In the Manny Mercer Apprentice Handicap (4.55) at Ascot on Wednesday, Love And Be Loved made decent progress in the second half of last season, winning four of her last six starts, including three on soft, or heavy, going under today’s jockey William Cox. John Flint’s four-year-old officially improved by 20lb from June onwards, but remains unexposed over a mile under testing conditions and is by no means impossibly handicapped on the form of her Windsor win in October. On that occasion, she made all to win, unchallenged, by 2 lengths and, although 5lb higher in the weights in a better race, after an absence of 191 days, she may be able to continue her progress.

Vale of Glamorgan trainer John Flint has yet to trouble the judge with any of his four runners on the Flat at Ascot, but Love And Be Loved has plenty of stamina in the bottom of her pedigree, being out of a High Chaparral mare, so the testing nature of the Berkshire course could also play to her strengths. The daughter of Lawman likes to race on, or close to the pace, which should also stand her in good stead at Ascot, where the sweeping turn into the straight, and the relatively short straight, itself, can make it difficult to reel in horses that are ridden prominently. Love And Be Loved faces 19 rivals, so should be available at fairly rewarding odds and has plenty going for her on her seasonal debut.

Selection: Ascot 4.45 Love And Be Loved to win 10/1

Monday 16 April 2018

1.50 Newmarket, Wednesday, April 18

In the Weatherbys General Stud Book Handicap (1.50) at Newmarket on Wednesday, Ekhtiyaar is a lightly raced, progressive young sprinter who won twice over 6 furlongs at Newmarket last season, including on good to soft going on the Rowley Mile Course, and appears to have every chance of making a winning reappearance. On the final start of his three-year-old campaign, he could never quite keep tabs on the front-running Nobly Born in a well-contested 0-105 handicap at Ascot, but kept on at one pace to finish fifth of 13, beaten 2¾ lengths. 

That was his first defeat on good, or softer, going, but came after an 85-day break and, at least, demonstrated that his current mark of 100 to prove prohibitive, especially with another winter on his back. He ran well on his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster last April and, although he has to concede weight to all bar two of his 16 rivals, he was being touted as a bona fide contender for the Ayr Gold Cup at one point last season. Fitness is an obvious worry, after another 194-day break, but Ekhtiyaar looks the type to go on to better things in due course and is an exciting prospect.

Selection: Newmarket 1.50 Ekhtiyaar to win

Tuesday 3 April 2018

5.20 Wolverhampton, Thursday, April 5

The Book Tickets at Handicap (5.20) is, at best, a moderate contest, in which it may be worth taking a chance on course and distance winner Zapateado. The Zoffany filly won a similar egg-and-spoon race, off a 6lb lower mark, for Richard Hughes here in November and, although her subsequent efforts in claiming and selling company were less encouraging, she appeared to show some improvement on her debut for Karen George at Lingfield earlier this month.

Although only fourth of eight, she was only beaten 1¼ lengths in that 0-70 contest at odds of 66/1, losing two places close home. On her final start for Richard Hughes, she finished last of five, beaten 12½ lengths, in a seller over course and distance, so her most recent effort represented a huge improvement. Dropped back into 0-60 company off a 2lb lower mark, she looks to have every chance of regaining the winning thread. Tom Marquand takes over from 5lb claimer Rhiain Ingram, which cannot be viewed as anything but positive, so Zapateado must have a sporting chance at decent odds.

Selection: Wolverhampton 5.20 Zapateado to win 7/1

Tuesday 27 March 2018

7.45 Wolverhampton, Thursday, March 29

In the Betway Handicap (7.45) at Wolverhampton on Thursday, King Kevin has been kept busy during the winter, but is holding his form remarkably well. Although flattered by his proximity to easy winner Nonios at Chelmsford last week, Ed Dunlop’s 4-year-old recorded a career-best performance and, back over the course and distance where he’s already won three times, off a 3lb lower mark, should make a bold bid to resume winning ways.

The son of Holy Roman Emperor has yet to win in this grade, but has already improved 30lb since September, according to official figures, and may not have finished yet, despite his taxing schedule. He has already run a dozen times since October, so must be due a break soon, but he stuck to his task as well as ever at Chelmsford as is clearly thriving with racing. He’s reunited with Rab Havlin, who’s ridden him to all five victories, including three over course and distance, and he can improve his (already impressive) strike rate on synthetic surfaces.

Selection: Wolverhampton 7.45 King Kevin to win

Monday 5 March 2018

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018: Who are the contenders for this year's race?

The Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner. The festival is one of the most anticipated horse racing events of the British calendar. The Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 race will be the marquee event at the festival. This year marks the 90th running of the Gold Cup, and the race will be run on Friday 16th of March at Prestbury Park. 

Although the horses and jockeys are not completely confirmed, there are a few already known that will participate in the event. 

The 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Sizing John, is expected to be back to defend his crown. Last year's winner tasted defeat at the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown. Trainer Jessica Harrington opted out of the Irish Gold Cup to prevent Sizing John from taking another loss. The horse won't run again until the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018, which means a layoff of around three months. Leopardstown was a major disappointment as it saw Sizing John finish a distant seventh. The horse won at Leopardstown a year ago and it led to Sizing John's big win at the Cheltenham Festival. Harrington now has to get the reigning champion back into form.  

Meanwhile, last season's runners up, Minella Rocco and Native River, are also penciled in to start the race. Of course, in the build-up to the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018, some of the expected participants could drop out due to injury or fatigue. It is hoped the top three horses from last year's edition of the Gold Cup will be involved; and that all three will perform well.

Might Bite is another horse being strongly favoured ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 race. Might Bite won December's King George Stakes race and many feel the horse could go on to have a stellar Cheltenham Festival performance. Might Bite is being held out of an upcoming race at Newbury. The horse's co-owner David Minton wants Might Bite to be fresh for the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018, as the horse is being tipped by many experts as the one to beat. 

Irish Gold Cup 2018 winner Edwulf goes into Cheltenham as a slight dark horse. Edwulf was a 33-1 shot at the Irish Gold Cup but came through to win the race. The horse collapsed at Cheltenham in 2017 and nearly died. Now, nearly a year on, Edwulf is a Cinderella story in the making. The horse isn't confirmed yet for the gold cup, but it is believed by tipsters that Edwulf will line up for the event. 

Excitement is high for Samcro, who won a seventh consecutive race on February 4th in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle race. Samcro's trainer, Michael O'Leary, wants the horse to run the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 event. However, it isn't confirmed which event Samcro will be participate in. O'Leary does know he wants the hype surrounding his horse to die down. Due to Samcro's current winning streak, horse racing insiders and tipsters are building up the six-year-old to unachievable heights.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 will mark the final day of racing at the famed festival. Last year's festival saw over £4.59 million in prize money awarded. The Gold Cup winner alone saw £625,000 go into their pockets. This year should see even more money at stake as the race for the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 commences on March 16th.

Monday 26 February 2018

Doncaster Handicap: Ante Post Betting Preview

The eagerly anticipated grand finals of Australian racing begin with the $3 million Doncaster Handicap at Royal Randwick on April 7. The Championships carry more than £20 million in prize money over the two days and feature several prestigious races that attracted an impressive roll call of superstar trainers, jockeys and horses. The Doncaster Handicap is one of the biggest events during the meeting and has had several noteworthy winners over the years, including the legendary Winx in 2016. It is run over 1600m and is therefore also known as the Doncaster Mile, and it has been running since 1866. Some of the best gallopers in history have emerged victorious here, including Tobin Bronze, Super Impose and Sunline. Here are the leading ante post contenders to join them in the history books by winning the 2018 renewal:
The Lonhro colt delivered a classy performance to claim victory at a star studded Group 2 Hobartville Stakes over 1400m at the weekend. He beat Pierata, D’Argento, Trapeze Artist, Ace High and other stars to win the $400,000 showpiece, and the odds on him winning the Randwick Guineas and the Doncaster Mile were immediately slashed. The consistent galloper has now won both races since making his season reappearance in the Group 3 Aquis Farm Eskimo Prince Stakes at Warwick Farm on February 10. He is in ominous form heading into this year's classics, and he looks as though he could be racing’s next big thing. “This colt is very good,” said Godolphin representative Darren Beadman after the Hobartville Stakes win. “I think he is top notch. To run past a horse like Trapeze Artist, who has the runs on the board, was very impressive. This was a test for him today and he has put them away nicely. We have seen a star in the making.” If he follows in Winx’s footsteps by winning the Doncaster Mile, Kementari really will have announced himself on the big stage and he is currently the $7 favourite to do so in the racing betting.

Chris Waller’s grey colt rallied well in the closing stages of the Hobartville Stakes to take third and the trainer believes he will relish a step up in trip. The extra 200m could make all the difference for D’Argento at the Doncaster Mile as he was flying at the end of the race. He is progressing nicely at the right time of season and looks dangerous ahead of The Championships at Randwick in April. He was magnificent in winning at Rosehill last year and shows signs of further improvement this time around, so he will give Kementari and co a real run for their money.

Brave Smash

Japan-bred Brave Smash beat stablemate Tosen Stardom to win the Group 1 Italktravel Futurity Stakes at Caulfield for Darren Weir at the weekend. The five-year-old is cementing his reputation as a star sprinter in Australia and can look forward to a lengthy spell in the breeding barn. But before that there is more glory potentially on the horizon, and the Doncaster Mile is now very much in his sights. Brave Smash has already placed at the Group 1 Ladbrokes C. F. Orr Stakes and the $10 million Everest Stakes at Randwick, the richest turf race in the world. That amounts to a mightily impressive CV and Brave Smash will certainly be in the mix at Randwick in April.
Happy Clapper
Happy Clapper has finished second in the Doncaster Handicap for the last two years and will bid to go one better this April. Since his last runner-up finish, the popular Syndey galloper has enjoyed breakthrough Group 1 success at Randwick in the $1 million Epsom Handicap. That was trainer Pat Webster’s happiest moment in a racing career spanning 40 years as it represented his first ever Group 1 victory, and he will be hopeful that Happy Clapper can lead him to further glory this year. However, he has to carry 57kg for the Doncaster Mile, while Kementari has just 51.5kg, so victory will be difficult for him.
The Rest
Tosen Stardom should enjoy the slightly longer trip, while Alizee and Pierata are attracting a lot of attention. Humidor, who won last year’s Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes and got within a neck of Winx in the Cox Plate, carries top weight. There is talent throughout the ante post field, including Aloisia, Cliff’s Edge and Black Hear Bart, and it should prove to be an open and intriguing contest, but right now Kementari stands out.

Author bio
Martin Green is an experienced horse racing correspondent and tipster and has been covering the Doncaster Mile for many years.

Friday 23 February 2018

Cheltenham Festival Champions

Next month the UK and Ireland's leading trainers, jockeys, horses and owners will all converge upon Cheltenham Racecourse for the most important meeting of the National Hunt season. The March Festival is where legends are born and careers are made, and every hopeful is bidding to follow in the footsteps of the all-time greats. Here are the leading lights since the Cheltenham Festival began:
Top trainer: Nicky Henderson
Henderson has been a fixture at the Cheltenham Festival since 1985 and he has saddled a record 58 winners during that time. Last year he achieved success with Altior, Buveur d’Air and Might Bite, who are now the favourites to win the three biggest races at this year’s Festival. Check the Sporting Index lines and you will see that Might Bite is the ante post frontrunner for the Gold Cup, Buveur d’Air is leading the way in the Champion Hurdle and Altior is the one to beat in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Cheltenham has handed out leading trainer awards since 1997, and Henderson claimed three of them, in 2000, 2010 and 2012, when he had a record seven winners. Last season he was crowned the UK’s Champion Trainer for a fourth time, and he leads the rankings this season, with 108 wins leaving him just ahead of second placed Paul Nicholls.
However, in recent years the one to watch at Cheltenham has been Irishman Willie Mullins. He was usurped by countryman Gordon Elliott last year, but walked off with the Festival’s leading trainer award four times in a row between 2013 and 2016. Mullins also broke Henderson’s record by landing eight winners in 2015. The serial Irish champion trainer has been in the business for a decade less than Henderson, but is closing in on his record. Mullins has recorded 54 wins and he will soon overtake Henderson if he keeps on delivering winners. These two will be in for a fascinating battle during this year’s Festival, but right now Henderson looks to have the stronger hand.
Top jockey: Ruby Walsh
Walsh has been named the top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival no fewer than 11 times during his distinguished career. He rides predominantly for Mullins, so he has enjoyed plenty of great mounts over the years, but he has also displayed great flair in the saddle and risen to the challenge of Cheltenham on an annual basis. Walsh has 32 wins at the Festival, which puts him comfortably ahead of second placed Sir Tony McCoy in the all-time stakes.
He has been the top jockey at the Festival for the last five years, but his chances of defending his crown are in serious jeopardy this year. The 38-year-old champion jockey suffered a broken leg during a fall on Let’s Dance at Leopardstown in November and has not raced since. But he is now edging closer to a return after resuming riding work, and he looks set to be back in time for Cheltenham.

Top owner: JP McManus

McManus secured his 50th winner at the Cheltenham Festival when Buveur D’Air landed the ferociously contested Champion Hurdle last year. He had two further winners at last year’s meeting to take his tally to 52 in total, leaving him clear out in front as the most successful winner in the Festival’s long history. It is worth noting that the record holders are typically operating in the modern day, because the number of races almost doubled in recent times.

But take nothing away from Henderson, Walsh and McManus, who have been at the top of the sport for many years now. The owner with the second highest number of Festival wins out of the current crop is the Gigginstown Horse Stud, with 19, leaving it 33 behind McManus. Every year he assembles a formidable team for the Cheltenham Festival and he has a strong line-up this year, including Buveur d’Air, Apple’s Shakira, Yarnworth and Espoir d’Allen.
Top horse: Golden Miller
The Gold Cup is always the pinnacle of the Cheltenham Festival and it has seen some legendary multiple winners over the years, including Arkle, Best Mate, Cottage Rake and Kauto Star. But none can hold a torch to Golden Miller when it comes to sheer dominance in this race, as the superstar chaser won it five years in a row between 1932 and 1936. The closest anyone has got since is three wins, and it seems highly unlikely that Golden Miller’s record will ever be broken. In 1934, after cruising to a third straight Gold Cup, he went up to Aintree and won the Grand National in record time. In doing so, he became the only horse to ever win both prestigious races in the same year. A statue of Golden Miller was erected in the parade ring at Cheltenham Racecourse and he is immortalised as a masterful chaser.

Monday 19 February 2018

4.15 Taunton, Tuesday, February 20

In the C&S Electrical Wholesale Hager Handicap Chase (4.15) at Taunton on Tuesday, Lillingdon remains a maiden after twelve starts, but had been in fair, if unremarkable, form last spring, prior to ‘frightening himself’ on his chasing debut at Fontwell in October. In two subsequent runs over the smaller obstacles, at Wincanton, he’s only beaten a handful of rivals and been beaten over 50 lengths on each occasion, but that should have restored, at least, some of his confidence. Colin Tizzard’s 6-year-old can race off his lowest handicap mark ever, 6lb lower than when third of 15, beaten 5¾ lengths, in a 0-120 contest over hurdles at Chepstow last April, so would have a definite squeak if able to recapture his best form. Clearly that’s a big “if”, but the Westerner gelding still has time to make the grade over fences and looks a sporting wager to give his owners, the members of the Colin Tizzard Racing, something to shout about.

Selection: Taunton 4.15 Lillingdon to win

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Five Ante-Post Bets For March And April

There is so much to look forward over the next few months as the national hunt season in the UK comes to an end with the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National taking centre stage, while we also have the start of the flat season to get excited about with the Dubai World Cup taking place in late March.

Here are five ante-post bets which can hopefully help you make some money from these big meetings before spring.

Champion Hurdle – Faugheen

Former Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen made a return to the racecourse this season after almost two years off the track with the leading hurdle contest at the Festival being his target again in March. Willie Mullins’ superstar looked like he had never been away when he coasted to the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown by 16 lengths back in November to the delight of his fans who were doubting whether they’d see him again following a serious leg injury.

Sadly for his connections, the horse normally described as a ‘machine’ was below his best on his last two outings. He was pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle at the back end of December after weakening inside the closing stages, while on his most recent start, he had to settle for second place behind Supasundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Given how long he was off the track for, the 10-year-old should be forgiven for his last couple of runs. He won’t need to improve too much on his Irish Champion Hurdle performance so he is worth sticking with as if he does turn to at the Festival back to his best, no horse in the division will be able to stop him from regaining his crown in the 2m contest.

The current favourite for the Champion Hurdle is last year’s winner Buveur D’Air who has won nine of his 10 races over hurdles, however, he has never met Faugheen before so until he beats the Irish horse, it is difficult to say he is not taking advantage of a weak division at the moment.

Cheltenham Gold Cup – Might Bite

Might Bite is looking to join only a small club of horses which have been able to win the RSA Chase and then 12 months later return to the Festival to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner looks the most likely winner of the Blue Riband event at the meeting though as he has been faultless so far this season against the older generation.

The nine-year-old put his Gold Cup credentials on the line in the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and he passed with flying colours, beating some of the leading horses in the division, including Thistlecrack, Bristol De Mai and Fox Norton.

Clearly the biggest threat to Might Bite’s chances in the Gold Cup will be the defending champion Sizing John. The Irish runner looked very flat last time out in the Christmas Chase though so there have to be question marks asked about his form leading into Festival.

Grand National – Vicente

Two-time Scottish Grand National winner Vicente will get his second attempt at the Grand National at Aintree in April for former Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls. In 2017 he lasted just one fence as a mistake at the opening obstacle resulted in him coming down to the disappointment of all those connected to the chaser.

Vicente has proven on more than one occasion now that he has the stamina to do really well in the staying chases. He was able to make up for his disappointment on Merseyside last year to defend his crown at Ayr in the Scottish equivalent of the Grand National just weeks later. Due to the early fall, he travelled up north of the border relatively fresh and that was reflected on the racetrack as he had the speed at the end of the race to see off Cogry by a neck.

The mistake last year by Vicente can be forgiven as many good horses have failed at the first fence before they have got into a rhythm. Nicholls’ runner is a top price of 33/1 to win the Grand National in 2018 but if you are having a bet on the world’s most famous steeplechase, look out for the best free bet offers, money back specials and sign up offers which have been listed by Oddschecker ahead of the race.

Dubai World Cup – Forever Unbridled

Forever Unbridled landed the biggest prize of her career last November when she scored in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar. The brilliant mare is now set to travel to the UAE to run in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan where she looks a big price at 10/1 to cause a surprise.

The Dubai World Cup looks very open this year as the 2017 winner Arrogate is now in stud, while the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup champion Gun Runner has also retired leaving a void open for a new horse to establish themselves as the leading dirt runner on the planet in 2018.

Dallas Stewart’s runner has not suffered defeated since she finished third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, therefore she will travel to the Dubai World Cup Carnival in fantastic form. The 2000m trip is 200m further than she is used to travelling, however, she should be just as effective at that distance.

West Coast is the ante-post favourite with the bookmakers for the prestigious dirt contest after he finished second to Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup. That was obviously a huge run from Bob Baffert’s horse, however, he has only two Grade One wins to his name so he still has a lot to prove when he lines up at Meydan in March.

Dubai Sheema Classic – Cracksman

Cracksman ended last season in superb style to win the Qipco Champion Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot to cap off an excellent campaign in 2017. three-year-old old also had victories in the Prix Niel at Chantilly and the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York

John Gosden’s colt went off as the 7/2 favourite to win the Derby at Epsom last June but he could only come home third behind Wings of Eagles and Cliffs of Moher respectively. Since then though, he has improved with every outing and looks to be at the very top of his game.

Gosden and the rest of the horse’s connections can be very excited about the season ahead with their runner as he should line up in all the open-age leading middle distance races across Europe over the next eight months.

The end goal will be the Prix de lArc de Triomphe at Longhcamp in October where he is likely to face the defending champion Enable. Before then though, all the focus will be on the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

This will be the four year’s old first appearance at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but he has a lot of experience under his belt now to handle the occasion just fine. Many of his rivals in the race are likely to come from the UK and will be horses in which on the ratings, he is expected to get the better of quite comfortably.

Cracksman could have one run at the carnival before the Dubai Sheema Classic and that will be used to sharpen the horse up so don’t worry too much about the result in the race. He is currently available at 15/8 but don’t be surprised if he goes off a lot shorter on the day as market confidence is sure to be behind the Champion Stakes winner.

Good luck with your bets over the next few months and enjoy what is a fantastic period in the sport with some major meetings taking place around the world.

Friday 9 February 2018

3.35 Exeter, Sunday, February 11

The Champions League Betting at 1888 Sport Veterans’ Handicap Chase (3.35) at Exeter on Sunday is the first leg of the 2018 Veterans’ Series and Pete The Feat comes into the race off the back of a brave effort in the final of the 2017 Series at Sandown last month. Charlie Longsdon’s 14-year-old was outpaced by the enigmatic Buywise up the famous Sandown hill, but kept on to finish an honourable second, beaten just 2 lengths. The King’s Theatre gelding has been raised 3lb for that effort but, despite being in his dotage, has looked on particularly good terms with himself in recent months and – at least, against his fellow old-timers – clearly remains a force to be reckoned with. The form of his previous win, also at Sandown, has already been franked by the second, Hedgeinator, and the fifth, Chef D’Equipe, and 3 miles on the prevailing soft going is ideal for him. He’s yet to race at Exeter, but has won over fences on similarly undulating tracks at Fontwell and Folkestone, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares on his 62nd start under Rules.

Selection: Exeter 3.35 Pete The Feat to win 7/1

Wednesday 3 January 2018

5.35 Wolverhampton, Thursday, January 4

In the Betway Middle Distance Handicap (5.35) at Wolverhampton on Thursday, Raashdy has continued in good from since completing a four-timer at Lingfield in November and can resume winning ways. A course and distance winner in October – in a race that has thrown up a couple of winners – the Intikhab gelding has been campaigned over 1 mile 6 furlongs on two of his last three starts, but the return to 1 mile 4 furlongs is almost certainly in his favour and he remains just 4lb higher in the weights than when successful at Lingfield. A Simon Crisford castoff just over a year ago, Peter Hiatt’s 5-year-old has officially improved 17lb since switched back to the all-weather in October and can continue to pay his way for connections.

Selection: Wolverhampton 5.35 Raashdy to win