Thursday, 2 April 2015

End of season report - 2014-15

Headline figures

TVB tips

Total staked: 79.125pts
Total profit:  45.63pts
ROI 57.67%

These numbers don’t include the Cheltenham festival (or Aintree) – or the ante-post blog or the Top Picks.
They are therefore the official numbers for the main service from Nov 1st to Mar 31st.

To achieve that ROI, you would need to have backed all advised selections at the generally available best price – with the BOG concession.
Needless to say, I wouldn’t expect many to have achieved that !

That said, I know that at least a few of you got close to a 50% ROI over the season, which is a tremendous performance, by anyones standards.

Furthermore, one or two you actually managed to beat the official figure – and returned profits for the season in excess of 50pts !
This was achieved primarily by taking more detailed guidance from the daily write-ups – I’ve covered this area more extensively in a later section of the report, entitled ‘Maximising the service’

Service Edge
When you are following a service, I think it is important to know whether or not it really has an edge (or if it is just going through a ‘lucky’ period).
The best way I know of establishing this, is to compare the advised prices of the tips with their starting price on Betfair (BSP).
If a service can continually beat BSP, then over time, it should make a profit…

The prices of selections advised by the TVB service, beat BSP on all 5 months.
To advised stakes, this was by the following amounts:

Nov – 3.89pts
Dec – 2.06pts
Jan – 2.37pts
Feb – 2.56pts
Mar - 3.19pts

Over the whole season, this means that BSP was beaten by 13.98pts – which equates to an edge of 17.66%.

Detailed break-down

The 79.125pts staked were spread across 211 horses running in 188 races.

The 211 horses yielded the following in terms of finishing positions:

1st – 33
2nd – 29
3rd – 25
4th – 16

My target is for 25% of my tips to finish first or second – and 29% of them achieved that aim.
That is an improvement on previous seasons and suggests that I am honing in on the right horses to tip.


Last season, I really messed up the staking and I was determined not to do the same this time round.

As a consequence, I introduced a very limited – and quite restrictive - staking system.
Clearly, it is not the perfect solution, but the numbers suggest that it did a job…

Level stakes on all selections this season would have yielded a profit of 65.64% (138.5pts on 211pts staked) - compared to a profit of 57.67% using the suggested staking.

Whilst it is true that you would have made more profit at level stakes (and variable staking is supposed to improve profits) – it would have come at the cost of a more volatile P&L.
The biggest drop on the P&L at any point during the season was 13.13pts (from mid November to early December).
With level staking, that would have been 31.5pts. I’m sure at that point, one or two of you would have been getting a little twitchy !

This said, I do still see staking as an area where I can improve.
Getting it to the point where it doesn’t have a negative impact isn’t really much of an achievement ! What I want to do is use it to maximise profits.
I know that many of the winners I tipped this season (I would estimate at least a dozen), were staked too conservatively.
To an extent, that is my nature – but I need to be a bit braver when I really fancy something.

That said, I also know it is unrealistic for me to heavily stake a horse that I am issuing early into a weak mid-week market. I’m sure you all have enough issues getting on as it is, without me suggesting you try and increase your bets…


Seasonality is a concept that I introduced last season – and based on the performance this season, it could be argued that it doesn’t warrant a mention in this report - but that would be very wrong !

In my opinion, identifying and high lighting the 4 periods (warm-up, golden, wet and closing) was the most crucial thing that came out of last years end of season report…

This time round, I was prepared for each period as it arrived – and not afraid to introduce a new method to cope with it.
I think that was absolutely key in achieving such a good performance throughout the season.

In fact, the only part of the season that caught me out, was the first period (the warm-up).
In truth, that is always going to be the hardest one to deal with – and I think it was particularly tricky this season.
Obviously I have to get back into the disciplined ways - but I also had a lot of people to deal with and a new email system (which didn’t want to play ball !).

The icing on the cake, was when I lost my internet connection for a day during the Cheltenham November meeting – that was the low (most stressful) point.
From then on, things began to find a groove – and I think it can be argued that the ‘Golden period’ lasted for most of the next 4 and a half months (ignoring Cheltenham week !)

Service sub sets

Last season, I was keen to keep an eye on a couple of service ‘sub sets’: namely, the Weekender (primarily Saturdays) and the Irish racing.
This season, I think the ante-post blog also warrants a few comments…

Irish Racing

When I first started tipping, I was very wary about tipping in Irish racing…
I know as much (possibly more !) about the Irish racing as I do about the UK racing – but that markets are incredibly weak – and you do really need to have your wits about you.

That said, I have been pretty successful with the limited Irish tips that I have issued via the service - until this season !

Just one winner from 33 selections is about the same level of form as I was in for Cheltenham - though in fairness, the winner was a 20/1 shot…
As a result, the sub service recorded a 4.75pt loss on 11.25pt staked.

That said, there were 6 runners-up – 5 of which traded heavily odds on – so maybe things weren’t as bad as they superficially appeared…

Certainly, I am close to my target 25% 1st or 2nd – and the ‘service edge’ suggests 2.24pts profit on 11.25pt staked (20%).

Maybe I’ll give the Irish races another season Winking smile

The Weekender

Unfortunately, The Weekender has not proved to be the breeding ground for new subscribers that I hoped.
Administratively, it is also a pain – so it will be scrapped next season (which is a bit of a shame).

The irony is, that anyone who had subscribed to the Weekender service for the entire season (nobody did !), who have had an absolute bonanza !

The main service produced the following figures, broken down by day of the week:

Mon – 5.75pt profit on 4.25pt
Tue – 4.25pt profit on 3.25pt
Wed - 8pt profit on 4.75pt
Thur – 0.125pt loss on 8.75pt
Fri - 2pt loss on 13.25pt
Sat - 37 pt profit on 34.38pt
Sun – 7.75pt loss on 10.5pt

So simply, the vast majority of the profit made by the service this season, came on a Saturday.
Those of you who have been with the service since its inception will know how different that is from previous seasons.

And, to be honest, I can’t offer that much of an explanation as to why…
I think it helps that I tip early on a Saturday (the night before for televised race; and early morning for the rest) – as that gives me a much better chance of finding a bit of value.
It also probably helps that I’ve tended not to focus on the highest quality races - but more on the best opportunities, wherever they may be.

In truth, I would have expected numbers more like this in previous seasons – so it was maybe those that were the anomalies - time will tell…

With regard to the other days of the week, then the big thing that strikes me is the disappointing performance on Thursdays and - in particular – Sundays.
However, it is probably no coincidence that they are the two days when most of the Irish racing takes place – so there must be a strong chance that the performance on those days is closely linked with the performance on the Irish racing…

More generally, it is interesting to note that nearly half of the tips are now issued on a Saturday.
The main reason for that is the lack of strength of many of the mid-week markets, which make issuing tips into them very difficult indeed.
I know that some of you would like more mid week action – but simply, it is not possible (as has been shown on many occasions this season, when I have wanted to tip mid week but the prices haven’t realistically been there).


The ante-post blog was a new creation this season, designed to showcase TVB to the wider world (again, with a view to attracting new subscribers).

Superficially, a profit of 9.25pts on 5.5pt staked (ROI 168%) makes it look like a huge success – but I’m not so sure…

It’s a high risk: high reward area – and we undoubtedly got lucky with Emperors Choice winning head bobber for the Welsh National.
Without that, the blog would have made 1pt profit – and probably sunk without mention…

I’m just not convinced that there are many (any ?!) ante-post opportunities around nowadays.
The bookmakers tend to go up one by one (as with the early markets) – pricing very cautiously.
Other tipsters are all over any snippets of value before the markets have matured – meaning that by the time we can get on, there is little of interest.

This was particularly true of Cheltenham, where I can promise you, I spent the best part of 2 months, looks for angles – and came up with 4 tips (2 of which didn’t even run !).
I know that a few of you picked up on ante-post bets from the write-ups (Windsor Palace for the Neptune being the most successful one) – and I think this will be the way forward for ante-post.
There may be the odd official tip, which I will include in the main service – but the ante-post blog will be ditched…

Backing at Starting Price

At the beginning of the season – before a single tip had been issued – I wrote quite a long piece regarding my commitment to trying to make the service profitable at BSP (a copy is on the blog, for those of you who want to refresh your memories).

Needless to say, when the second winning tip of the season, Doctor Ric, got hammered in the betting from 10/1 early to 9/4 at the off, a few of your were sceptical about whether I would be able to achieve my objective ! (as indeed, was I !!).

However, 5 months on, I can report that it was a huge success !

To a level stake, the service made 73pts profit (before commission) on 211pts staked at BSP (34.6% ROI)
It was a similar story at advised stakes: 27.26pts profit on 79.125pt staked (34.48% ROI).

This really is a tremendous achievement – particularly as my focus wasn’t on achieving a profit at BSP (it was just a secondary objective).
I would doubt there are many services out there (if any), which will achieve in excess of 30% profit at BSP.

The service even actually made a profit at SP (without BOG !) of 22.6pts at level stakes (10.22% ROI).

So it’s now official – you can all retire and just invest all of your money in TVB tips Winking smile

More seriously, I do find the performance quite staggering.
I have no idea whether it was a one-off – but it certainly gives me great hope for the future…

When I produced the article at the start of the season, I broke down the tips for last season, comparing advised price to BSP - and for consistency I have done the same below for this season.
Tips included on the first data row, had a BSP at least 30% shorter than the advised price: whilst on the second row, they had a BSP at least 10% shorter than the advised price etc.

BSP v Advised price            Number of bets            Pts profit                    ROI

30% less                                 76                                  38.53                           50.7%   
10% less                                 114                                45.29                           39.7%
The same                                141                                54.22                           38.5%
10% greater                            155                                76.82                           49.6%
30% greater                            195                                48.32                           24.8%
All tips                                    211                                73.08                           34.6%

I did mention in the article that I produced, that it was a little dangerous filtering tips, if you were betting at BSP (you really need to know the nature of the tip – and be able to understand the market moves).
That said, those of you who take that approach tend to gravitate towards the strongly supported tips, so you should have done pretty well from this method.

Whilst not part of the official main service, Top Picks are my other attempt at operating profitably at BSP.

I was committed to issuing Top Picks at the start of the season – and they were successful during the first couple of months.
However, when the rain came, my attention moved away from the head of the market – and potential Top Picks weren’t appearing on my radar in the same way.
By the time I was back focusing on the market leaders, the season was nearly over - so I decided to leave them alone.

However, by that time, I had also realised that the Top Picks were too good to be sat at the side of the service – they really needed to be moved into the main service.

Over the season, I issued just 18 Top Picks - but 7 of them won – yielding a profit of just over 6pts on 18pts staked, at BSP.
This is bang in line with all the other tips issued during the season – and shows me that I can read the front of the market just as well as the rest of it.
The other good thing about these horses is that they should be a little easier to tip mid week (as the markets tend to be more robust at the top end) – so they will help to increase the volume of bets.

I doubt I will be able to find the same margin in their prices (which will see a reduced ROI, over time) – but I think that is acceptable if they produce a steady profit…

Maximising the Service

I have always maintained that TVB is more than a tipping service – and I think it is difficult to argue with that statement.

I spend an hour or two every day, writing up my thoughts on the days racing in an attempt to paint as accurate a pictures as possible, of the way I see events unfolding.
Common sense says that if I know what I’m talking about, this should be a far more effective way of advising you guys, than a simple tip could ever be…
In fact, with bookmakers restricting/closing accounts – and it nearly impossible to get a bet of any substance on until minutes before the off - the daily write-ups should be the most valuable part of the service, but I know that is not the case for many of you…

I understand there are reasons for this – lack of time being the main one – and that is fair enough, on many days.
However, I would encourage you all to work with the write-ups whenever you can. Not just on a daily basis but over the course of the entire season – as they are capable of significantly improving your profits and your enjoyment of the racing…

One person who does just that is Liam…

He joined the service 2 seasons ago and spent most of his first season trying to figure out how to get the best out of the write-ups.
He put a lot of time into both reading them and sending me emails try to work things out.
By the end of last season, he felt he had figured a path – but then was unable to re-subscribe to the service at the beginning of this season, due to work commitments.

However, that situation changed at Christmas and he rejoined the service on Boxing day/St Stephens day (good timing on his behalf, but that’s a differed matter !)

Since that time, Liam has managed to secure a 51.48pt profit from the service. 
Over the same period, the official profit figure is 38.75pt – so Liam has managed to beat that 12.71pts (33% extra).

More than that, the official profit figure would be very difficult to achieve, so in reality he has beaten the best achievable profit figure by around 50%.
Compared to a lot of you, with account restrictions etc, he will have achieved double your level of profit.

Now that should give some food for thought…

I’m sure many of you are wondering how exactly he has managed this – but it really isn’t rocket science…

He follows what he reads in the write-up.
If I am particularly strong on a tip, he increases his stake: if I am fearful of one in a race, he saves on it; if I am keen on a particular mention, he will back it.

Basically, he takes the write-up and converts it into a set of bets that he feels better represents what I am saying that the prescriptive tips I issue.
Obviously this take him time – but realistically, that is probably half an hour a day – and the nett result is an extra 20pts profit compared to most.

Additionally, he gets the security of knowing that his P&L is more robust than the official one because he churns more bets and ‘insures’ many of the tips.
Plus, he gets the satisfaction of knowing that at least part of the profit, is as a result of his own effort/intelligence…

Next season, I plan to create a basic forum for the service.
It will give the likes of Liam (he’s not the only one – just a very good example) opportunity to share with others, his thoughts and methods for maximising the output from the service.

Needless to say, I’m a little wary about introducing a forum (!) – but I know that I have some very good guys on the service, so I am prepared to set-up a simple offering, and see how things go.
I won’t be able to put a lot of time into it myself – but hopefully a few of you will find it valuable to exchange ideas.
Certainly, if it results in some of you doubling your profits on the service, I would expect there to be a bit of interest..!

Changes for next season

This was a really good season – and I have to be realistic – if I can achieve the same next season, I will be very happy (as doubtless will all of you !).

However, I still feel that there are some changes that I can make which should improve things a little further.
I’m always striving to maximise the edge that the service has (the market is always kicking back the other way, so you have to) and I think there are a few tweaks to be made, which will have this effect.
I have covered most of them in the sections above, but to summarise:

- Jettison ante-post

The experiment of putting it on a free blog didn’t really work.
I’ll maybe issue the odd ante-post tip as part of the main service – but only if I see a really good opportunity.

- Bring the Top Picks into the main service

I’m now pretty sure that I can find god selections at the top of the market.
I tend to be put off by short prices – but that is silly.
Horses like Yes Tom and Saint Are were great bets at 2/1. There is also the benefit for those of you with the BOG facility, that markets leaders can often drift a little in price…

- Create a TVB forum

Just a simple ‘off the shelf’ one – that will enable those who are interest, to share thoughts and ideas.
It will also provide me with a ‘message board’ on case of any email issues.

- Take a break just before Cheltenham

The Christmas break introduced this season was a smart move - I’m sure that it helped me get through January and February.
However, I was feeling jaded entering Cheltenham week, which didn’t help matters.
There is little going on during the week prior to Cheltenham so I will probably look to take a few days break at that point, to freshen up and prepare for the big week !
- Tip more !

The number of tips issued this season was down 30% on last seasons (211 v 276).
Whilst accepting that it is getting harder every season to tip mid week, I do think I could/should tip more…
The last week of the season was a classic example of this, with me, for various reasons, electing to pass on tipping 3 winners.
Tipping more would reduce the variability – and would probably increase the P&L (even if it would also probably reduce the ROI).
Incorporating the Top Picks should help – but I can do even more than that…

- Improve staking

I have a (limited) staking system that I am relatively happy with – but I need to be a bit bolder on occasions.
There are some 0.25pt tips that should be 0.5pt: some 0.5pt tips that should be 0.75pt – and who know I maybe should issue the odd 1pt tip !

- Continue to respect the seasonality

Not a change – just a reminder of the most important thing that came out of the 2013-14 season.
I had it in the forefront of my mind this season – it must remain there next season !


Once again, I’ve written a huge amount in this report.
Hopefully, many of you will have reached this point (well done !) – but regardless, the main beneficiary of this report, is me ! 

I honestly believe that the prime reason we had such a good season, is because I put in the time to produce a similar report at the end of last season.

Following Aintree, I will leave everything behind for 6 months. Being able to pick this up when I return will give me the best possible chance of starting the season on the right foot – and making sure we build on this seasons performance.

From a personal perspective, this has been the least stressful/most enjoyable season so far.
I worked hard to get in a groove early - and just as hard to stay in it for the majority of the season.

The final results were pleasing – but not too surprising.
I know that I have around a 30% edge, proven over time.
With focus, I think I can double that (which is exactly what happened !).

Ofcourse, luck can always play a part – and knock you off the rails. However, I think March was the only month when we experienced any significant poor luck – and by that point, the season was in the bag !

As well as the profits, I would hope that many of you will all also have derived pleasure/enjoyment from following the tips and the stories – and latching on to the horses.
I know that this is a hobby/interest for a number of you – and hopefully the TVB service has improved your knowledge and enhanced your enjoyment of the sport.

Once again, I would like to thank you all for your support over the past 5 months.
There has barely been a dissenting voice over the period (though why should there have been ?!) – and I would like to think that you all now understand the service I have created.

As always, I would like to give special thanks to a few: Michael and Ciaran, for their ongoing support; Liam, for letting me share his numbers with you; and Dave, for cheerily exchanging countless emails on wet week day afternoons, about obscure horses running in obscure races the following day !

I did consider making significant changes to the service for next season – but I’ve come to the conclusion that would be the wrong thing to do.
Most of you should now feel pretty comfortable with what I produce – and as with Liam – if you are prepared to put in some effort, that will enable you to maximise profits.
To do that however, you will need consistency from me, so I think evolution makes more sense than revolution.

As always, I would welcome any feedback on the season, this report – or the service in general.
I am always particularly interested to hear how individuals follow the service (it helps me decide precisely what to put in the write-ups) – and how your own figures compare with the official ones.

Obviously we have Aintree in a couple of days time – but after that, it will be October before you next hear from me.

Hopefully most of you will re-join me for the 2015-16 season when I will look to build on what has been achieved so far – and will set myself the target of surpassing the numbers achieved this time round.
I do like a challenge 


Review of the day

There was no dream end to Grand National day for AP – or indeed TVB – though there was a dream end for one of our number !
More on that later though...

The big race was taken in some style by the Hennessy winner, Many Clouds.
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t particularly fancy him.
I was disappointed with his run in the Gold Cup – but I guess that shows they are not machines…

Generally, I’ve been really surprised by how little impact Cheltenham seems to have had on the runners at Aintree.
For most that have performed at both meetings, it’s as if Cheltenham took nothing out of them.
I know there was a 4 week gap this season, but I still would have expect Cheltenham exertions to have pushed more of the runners over the top.

In terms of the official TVB tip, then Rocky Creek was disappointing.
Sam Twiston Davies kept him wide – but he never really seemed to be travelling and was under pressure some way out.
He did get round – but finished a long way back.
It wasn’t his form…

I know he was the only official tip of the day, but hopefully one or two of you were also on Monbeg Dude.
He ran an absolute screamer for an unconsidered 50/1 shot – and I can’t help but feel that with just a slightly more aggressive (less passive) ride, he would just about have won.

It was also great to see Saint Are run so well.
He’s been a real favourite this season – even if I’ve managed to dodge his best days !

There was no joy either with the days other 2 tips.

Trafic Fluide ran well in the novice chase - but I suspect the ground was just a bit too quick for him.
He will have other days (probably next season).

Bobowen jumped like a hairy goat in the handicap chase, never giving himself any chance of being involved at the finish.
The race was won by last seasons victor, Duke of Lucca.
He had shown very little this season – but still went off a well fancied 9/2 shot.

And so on to the most exciting part of the day !

As I mentioned this morning, one of the TVB subscribers, Stuart, owns a part share in Astre de Le Cour.
He’s experienced some real ups and downs with the horse – despite him only running 5 times previously in this country.

An early fall in last seasons Fred Winter looked like it might have been curtains – and things didn’t looks too rosy either, when he was pulled up in this seasons Gerry Fielden hurdle.

However, Robert Walford has nursed him back to fitness and he was a good winner at Stratford the Monday before Cheltenham.
That set him up for today – and I know that Stuart has been on tenter hooks about the race for weeks.

However, amazingly, everything came good this afternoon – and I couldn’t be happier for them.
Always handily placed, he just about took up the running coming to the last, and despite a shoddy jump there, battled back to take the spoils in the shadow of the post.

Truly brilliant stuff !

The days other mentions didn’t do quite so well – but he was the one that mattered !!

So that really is that for the 2014-15 season.

Aintree wasn’t brilliant – but it was better than Cheltenham, so that’s something !
More importantly the season as a whole was very good – and I’m sure that is what I will be judged on.

I’ve got plenty of things to consider over the next few months – but first I’m going to wind down a bit.
It’s been an incredibly tense journey – but hopefully you all consider it worthwhile.

This really is the last email you’ll receive from me this season – so all that is left is for me to thank you all for your support and wish you all a long, hot summer.

Until the autumn then 


Daily write-up - Apr 11th (Aintree Day 3)

The final day of the Aintree meeting – Grand National day…

From what I can make out, there was a small amount of selective watering applied to the course yesterday evening – and there has been a coupe of millimetres of rain this morning.
The weather isn’t as nice as it has been the past 2 days, so I would expect the ground to be riding slightly slower – but only slightly…

As I suggested last night, it’s a disappointing card for the sports showcase day.
The big race is up to scratch (the quality improves year on year) – but the supporting races are quite drab (the racing was much better on the first 2 days).

In truth, I struggled to find a couple of tips – though I did feel there were 2 races in which it was worth getting involved, because of potentially vulnerable short priced favourites.

For the final time this season, here are my thoughts on the day ahead…



Nichols Canyon and Parlour Games head the betting for this – and there is little disputing that their runs in the Neptune novice hurdle at Cheltenham represent the best form in the race.
Parlour Games edged out Nichols Canyon for second place that day, behind Windsor Park – and unless we get another Ruby masterclass, on riding your rivals to sleep from the front (which is a possibility), I would expect that form to be upheld.
Days of Heaven is the potential fly in the ointment for the big two, as Nicky Henderson has saved him specifically for this meeting.
However, he is highly strung sort, so it’s anyones guess how he will cope with the Grand National crowd.
If he gets to the start without getting worked up, I think he could be the one…
Half chances can be given to the next few in the betting, though Seedling needs to demonstrate he can get the trip; As De Mee that he can cope with this step up in class; and Three Musketeers that he is up to the job at this stage of his career.
Of the 3, then I think Three Muskateers is the nicest horse – but I just can’t see him operating at his peak today. He strikes me as more of a long term project.
The rest don’t really look up to it – at least not from a win perspective…
If forced to bet in the race, I would side with Days of Heaven – but only after I had checked that he had made it to the start OK…


The absence of Un De Sceaux has completely changed the complexion of this race – and as Grade 1 chases go, it now it looks quite weak…
In fairness, God’s Own is a worthy favourite as he has already won a Grade 1 chase (at Punchestown last April) and was an honourable runner up behind Un De Sceaux in the Arkle.
That run was particularly commendable, as it is generally acknowledged that God’s Own is a better horse going right handed. He even jumped right at Cheltenham – though it didn’t stop him running a mighty race.
If I was a supporter of his today, then that trait would worry me – but what would worry me more, is his relatively quick return to action.
All of God’s Owns best runs have come on the back of an absence. That clearly isn’t the case today – and more than that, he had a very hard race last time.
In the circumstances, I feel he had to be opposed at 7/4…
However, finding one to oppose him with isn’t that easy.
Court Minstrel is the obvious one – as he will love the track and ground and ran a decent race in the Arkle.
However, he isn’t the biggest of horses and I do worry about his ability to ping a fence at speed.
Instead I’ve opted for the ex French Traffic Fluide.
He’s only run 4 times in this country, but has improved massively for each outing.
His rate of improvement is best illustrated by his last two runs – both of which have resulted in comfortable defeats of Seventh Sky.
On the first occasion, Traffic Fluide beat him 6 lengths, when in recipe of 16lb.
On the second occasion, he beat him 10 lengths, when in receipt of just 5lb.
The suggestion is that Traffic Fluide improved by about a stone from one run to the next (Seventh Sky won his next race, so he isn’t deteriorating). I reckon he has made a similar level of improvement, every time he has set foot on a racecourse this season.
Obviously that has to come to an end at some point – but he is only rated 12lb inferior to God’s Own – so he doesn’t need to find quite that much improvement today Winking smile
Of the 3 others in the race, then the outsider of the field, Art Mauresque is the one that interest me most.
He looked likely a quality animal when winning at Kempton – but reading between the lines, I suspect that Paul Nichols is running him in this event today, because he has limited options.
Certainly the fact that Sam Twiston Davies is riding Solar Impulse (and I don’t really rate his chances), suggests that Art Mauresque isn’t particularly fancied today.
That said, I’ll be keeping an eye on the betting and if money does come for him, I’ll probably cover my stakes with a saver.

0.5pt win Traffic Fluide 9/2


Based on the form book, this looks a 3 cornered affair between Cole Harden, Zarkandar and Whisper.
They finished first, third and fifth in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and there are reason for thinking that Zarkandar and Whisper can close the gap on the winner that day, Cole Harden.
Certainly Zarkandar made a shocking blunder at the second last hurdle , which cost him any chance of victory; whilst Whisper ran at the festival on the back of a far from ideal preparation so should have more scope for improvement than the other two (he also had the least hard race of the trio).
I would have a slight preference for Cole Harden, as he could well get an uncontested lead; however, it does feel a bit like flipping a 3 sided coin…
If there is one capable of upsetting the apple cart then I think it could be Henryville.
He ran a huge race off top weight in the Pertemps final and that form puts him within a few pounds of the principals.
Whether he will be able to make that improvement is a different matter – but he will love todays ground and there is a distinct possibility that the Cheltenham run will have brought him on (it was his first in 4 months).
If you can get 20/1, ¼ odds, then he would be worth an EW play.


You won’t see much weaker field assembled for a race worth £35K to the winner –and as the prelude to the Grand National, this contest is very poor…
It says much that Buywise has been installed 9/4 favourite for the race – I’d want that price on him jumping round cleanly !
That said, he undoubtedly has the talent to win a race such as this (I can hardly say otherwise, having tipped him for both the Paddy Power Gold cup and Hennessy !) – but as I know to my cost, he is more than capable of making things go wrong in a race.
I find it fascinating that Adam Wedge takes over in the saddle today from Paul Moloney – and I suspect that will either make or break the horse.
Moloney has undoubtedly ridden the horse very conservatively - and we are likely to find out today whether that was the right thing to do.
My feeling is that the horse is not very good at jumping and if Adam Wedge throws his at one or two this afternoon, then I think it has the potential to go spectacularly wrong !
Once again however, whilst finding a favourite I want to take on is one thing – finding a horse to take him on with, is quite something else !
The line up for this race strikes me a bit like a rogues gallery !
Virtually all of the runners could win, if they wanted to – but you can be pretty certain, that most of them won’t want to, for one reason or another…
Bobowen can hardly be described as the most reliable of animals.
He hacked up in the summer plate at Market Rasen just under 2 years ago, but has barely beaten a runner home in his 6 subsequent races.
However, as a consequence, he gets to run today off a mark just 2lb higher than the mark he was successful from at Market Rasen.
His most recent run was at Kempton 4 weeks ago. That was his first outing for 9 months and whilst he finished well beaten, I thought he travelled nicely in the race until making a bad blunder at the fifth last fence.
He was allowed to come home in his own time after that, but I’m sure he will be significantly straighter for the run.
The key to Bobowen seems to be decent ground – and he should get that today.
I would be pretty confident that trainer Richard Newland has been saving him for a spring campaign.
Maybe he has hit lucky finding such a weak race to run in or maybe this has always been the plan - I don’t know.
However, I do know that if Bobowen bounces back to form this afternoon, he is likely to go very close indeed.

0.25pt win Bobowen 16/1


In all the years I’ve been studying the Grand National, I don’t think I’ve seen a horse run in the race, that I could make a stronger case for than Rocky Creek…
As an 8 year old, he finished fifth in last years race, after an interrupted preparation.
On the back of that run – and a disappointing run the Hennessy, he gets into todays race off a mark 2lb lower – but as he showed when destroying a decent field in the Betbright chase last time out, he is actually a much better horse this season.
In fact, I would go so far as to say he is a borderline Gold Cup horse – yet he will get to carry just 11st 3lb this afternoon.
His official handicap mark of 163 now reflects his quality – and he achieved that rating when apparently only 90% fit.
Generally, when horses who look as good as him run in the race, it is as an after thought following a big run at Cheltenham,
That’s not the case with Rocky Creek – Aintree has always been the plan – Kempton was merely an aperitif !
Provided he gets a little bit of luck in running – and doesn’t do too much early in the race – I think he will win today.
I don’t care that it’s the Grand National – simply, you won’t see a better handicapped horse running in a more suitable race, all season…
Ofcourse there is always the possibility that luck won’t smile on him – or that he will make a significant mistake at one of the 32 fences – and if that happens, you will need to get your pin out to find a saver…
I went through all of the other runners and reckon there are about 20 who could win (and a further half dozen that I could see running well, but not getting home).
The good ground is likely to result in big runs from Balthazaar King, Spring Heeled and Al Co – and if I were to save on the race, it would probably be on one of those.
That said, the second best handicapped horse in the race is The Druids Nephew – though I would worry both about the effects of his Cheltenham win and his ability to jump the national fences.
I could give a chance of being placed to every runner priced below 25/1 – whilst of the very big priced runners, I would expect Mon Perrain to travel well – but probably not get home.
If you want an EW pick that has gone under the radar, then I would suggest Monbeg Dude. I really don’t understand why he is a 50/1 shot…
However, if you want the winner, then I suggest you back Rocky Creek.
He might not be a huge price – but he ticks every box and I think he will take the world of beating.

0.375pt win Rocky Creek 10/1


This is actually quite a scary race !
22 runners – many of whom are very unexposed – and amateur jockeys to boot.
Not for the faint hearted, that’s for sure !
A couple of old favourites run in the shape of Ruler of All and Oyster Shell - but I will be a little surprised if they can see off some of the less exposed types.
One for the Guv’nr is an obvious looking favourite – though time alone will tell if he is any value at 5/1.
Baltimore Rock looks interesting for David Pipe; whilst I could see Chieftains Choice running a big race from close to the front (Little King Robin is likely to make the running).
All this said, the one I will be rooting for is Astre De La Cour.
He is part owned by one of our number, Stuart – who will be at Aintree watching him this afternoon.
My head says he’s got a chance as well – provided the ground isn’t riding to quick.
Best of luck Stuart !


The meeting finishes with a mares bumper.
The market seems very keen on Babylone Des Motte – and who am I to argue ?!
I thought Miss Crick might run well – but it really isn’t a race that I would have a strong opinion on.

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !


Aintree 2:05 Traffic Fluide 0.5pt win 9/2
Aintree 3:25 Bobowen 0.25pt win 16/1
Aintree 4:15 Rocky Creek 0.375pt win 10/1
Aintree 1:30 Days of Heaven (C )
Aintree 2:50 Henryville (O )
Aintree 5:10 Astre De La Cour (S )
Aintree 5:40 Miss Crick (S )
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Review of the day

As you are all aware, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what went wrong at Cheltenham this season – but with the benefit of hindsight, I do wonder if we were just a bit unlucky…

When Rajdhani Express won this afternoon, he became the 4th horse that I tipped at Cheltenham to win on its next outing (adding to Taglietelle, Thunder and Roses and Thunder Zone).
All 4 have won at decent prices – and 3 of them in big races.
Additionally, 2 ex Cheltenham tips have since finished second - and I think that only 10 of them have subsequently run…

And what a relief it was to see Rajdhani come home in front.
As I said this morning, I felt he was the best tip I issued at Cheltenham – but he never had a chance there.

All things being equal, I wouldn’t have tipped him today.
He was too short a price, in too competitive a race - but after the victory of Taglietelle yesterday, who had a similar profile, I felt I had to pull the trigger – and needless to say I was very glad I did.

He absolutely hacked up under Sam Waley Cohen and thankfully was able to justify my opinion of him.
I needed that…

Earlier in the day it had been a case of close – but no cigar…

I felt that Qewy was given an uncharacteristically poor ride by AP – who sat too far out of his ground behind an average pace.
He might have been no match for the impressive winner regardless, but he had to exert way too much energy to get into a challenging position.
He was never going to win after that…

I have no complaints about the way Cue Card was ridden – and I thought he ran a really good race.
Unfortunately, Don Cossack was simply different class.
In truth, I think Cue Card would have struggled to contain Don, even if he’d been on top form – he looked a real grade 1 performer this afternoon.

The day had started poorly, when I was miles off the mark with my two picks in the opener.
The market seemed to know that Pearl Swan had no chance - and that was exactly how it panned out: whilst Some Buckle never really looked likely to get involved, despite making a bit of an effort down the straight.

Non of the days mentions featured either:
Rawnaq and Irish Cavalier took heavy falls in the novice chase – both were too early in the race to know whether they might have been involved in the finish. That said, the way Saphir du Rheu won, you have to think that they would only have been playing for place money.
Minella Rocco was withdrawn from the novice hurdle (presumably on account of the ground) leaving Thistlecraft to come home a convincing winner.
He has been a mention a couple of times this season - but never a tip.

Finally, Chintu never featured in the bumper – where Bellshill ran much better than he had done at Cheltenham, but was unable to reel in gutsy winner, Barbers Hill.