Monday, 7 April 2014

End of season report - 2013-14 season

Headline figures

TVB tips

Total staked: 124.75pts
Total profit:  36.16pts
ROI  29%

*Adjusted figures

Total staked: 124.75pts
Total profit: 12.78pts
ROI  10%

*The adjusted figures assume that all bets are layed off at 2 IR to produce the same profit regardless of whether it wins the race.

I’ve taken out the Cheltenham & Aintree festivals – including the ante-post tips – so these are the numbers for the main service from Nov 1st to Mar 30th.

To achieve an ROI of 29%, 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 !
However, I would think that an ROI of around 20% should have been achievable by anyone, with a reasonable number of bookmaker accounts – and a desire to get on quickly.
Furthermore, that number should have been beatable, by applying some of the points made in the ‘Making the most of the TVB service’ on the blog…

The suggestion from the adjusted figure, is that we were lucky this season.
However, I don’t honestly believe that was the case - I think we were neither particularly lucky – nor unlucky.
I believe that the adjusted figure is lower simply because the in-running market on Betfair continues to get smarter.
From the 124.75pts staked, just over 160pts were returned.
There is a price to pay for ‘insuring ‘ the bets with an in-running lay, and my guess is that this is now around 15% (I used to estimate at around 10%).
Take 15% off 160 and you have 24 – the number of points difference between the raw profit and the adjusted profit…
I think that you would have to question whether this is too high a price to pay for a more stable P&L…

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 – 7.84pts
Dec – 6.52pts
Jan – 3.85pts
Feb – 2.41pts
Mar - 3.13pts

Over the whole season, this means that BSP was beaten by 23.75pts – which equates to an edge of 19%.

Detailed break-down

The 124.75pts staked were spread across 276 horses running in 236 races.

The 276 horses yielded the following in terms of finishing positions:

1st – 35
2nd – 31
3rd – 33
4th – 37

You will rarely see a more balanced ‘scorecard’ !

My target is for 25% of my tips to finish first or second – and 50% to finish in the first 4. The actual figures were 24% and 49% - so I’m happy enough with that !

In addition to the 35 winners, a further 25 horses traded at 2 or less on BF.
However, 32 traded at 2.1 or less.
As I said earlier, you can read this in 2 ways - but my feeling is that the in-running markets on Betfair are just a bit smarter (so if your horse hits 2 in-running, it actually has a greater than 50:50 chance of winning – more like 55:45 !).


Last season it was luck that played havoc with the final P&L – this season, it was the staking…

Generally, the idea of variable staking, is to leverage profits.
So you have bigger stakes on selections you expect to do well – and smaller stakes on selections that you are less confident about.

Last season, this theory worked well: level stakes on all selections, would have yielded a 12% ROI – whilst the suggested staking, yielded an ROI of 30%.

This season however, things didn’t go so well…

Level stakes on all selections would have yielded a profit of 42% - compared to a profit of 29% using the suggested staking.
This is not good !

If I had successfully used the variable staking to leverage profit, we should have been looking at an ROI of 50-60%…

So where did it go wrong..?

I think there were 2 areas: firstly, the uncertainty over the staking system I was using for the first couple of months - and even when I had settled on this, my inability to stake the stronger selections appropriately.
I’m sure you’ve all got you ‘favourite’ under-staked selection.
Mine was Tatenen – but I didn’t really learn from him !

I think the staking system I finally ended up with will help (due to its lack of flexibility !) – but it is still an area that I need to be wary about…


Whilst the TVB season is only 5 months long, I still feel there is a real ‘seasonality’ about it – which I’m sure many of you have picked up on…

It is true, that 4 of the 5 months ended in profit – however, the service did little more than break even for the last 3 months of the season, as the vast majority of the profit was made in the first 2 months.

Rather than break the service down into months (as per the monthly reports), I think it far more useful to break it down into periods (as I mentioned in the daily write-up, a few days back).

As I see it, there were 4 periods:

- The Warm-up period
- The Golden period
- The Wet period
- The Closing period

I felt the same last season – and there is logic behind the periods - so I don’t think it is a one season phenomena !

Once you know about the periods, then the key is to identify when you are in them and act appropriately…
For me, that means acting with caution during 3 periods – and going for it in the fourth (the golden period).
Generally, I think I did that - but I think I should be brave enough to do it even more.
If that means that you get more tips during a week of the Golden period than you do in during a month of the Wet period, then so be it.
I believe that the service has enough facets to be able to cope with periods of reduced tipping

Service sub sets

There are a couple of service ‘sub sets’ that I am particularly keen on keeping an eye on: namely, the Weekender (primarily Saturdays) and the Irish racing.

The Weekender, is something that I feel I need to make a success as it provides a ‘nursery’ for potential new subscribers to the main service (plus a service for others, who only look to bet on Saturday).

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

Mon - 3.25pt profit on 3.25pt
Tue - 6pt profit on 10.75pt
Wed - 0.25pt loss on 13.5pt
Thur - 12.88pt profit on 15.5pt
Fri - 2.13pt profit on 19pt
Sat - 3 pt profit on 45.5pt
Sun - 9.16pt profit on 17.25pt

Generally, these number make perfect sense to me – as I know what I have to juggling the tipping with on the various days of the week !
Thursday and Sunday have always been my favourite days for betting/tipping, so I’m not surprised that their figures are good.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday are generally more difficult days for me, so I’m not surprised to see them less profitable…

Saturday is the really interesting one however…
I commit the vast majority of my time from Friday lunchtime through to Saturday lunchtime, to finding tips – yet the numbers don’t do justice to that time.
Of course the big issue with Saturdays is the sheer volume of racing.
Per race, I almost certainly spend more time on the study/write-ups for the mid week/Sunday races.
The only way I can get round this is to look at fewer of the races on a Saturday (and produce less comprehensive write-ups).

Interestingly, a check of advised prices against BSP for Saturday tips, reveals an edge of 16%. This is close enough to the overall edge of 19% to suggest to me that I am picking the right kind of horses on a Saturday – just that they aren’t winning often enough !

The situation with the Irish racing is quite different…
6.25pt profit on 16.5pt staked, gives an ROI of 38%.
There were only 34 tips issued in Ireland – but the suggestion is they are worth following !

Again, this makes sense to me, as I know how closely I follow the Irish racing – and despite the fact that early price markets tend to be hugely defensive, I still believe I can find selections worth following.

Backing at Starting Price

For a number of you, I think this will possibly be the most interesting section of the report…
Account closures/restrictions are getting to be a bigger and bigger issue – and whilst consistently beating SP should see you in profit, it won’t if you can’t get your bets on !
The trouble with betting at SP, is that you have no idea what odds you will be getting – and nowadays, with the market so accurate at the off, that means you are likely to lose.

Interestingly, if you had backed all of the tips, to suggested stakes, at BSP, you would have finished virtually level (2pt profit).

If you had backed all of the tips at BSP to a level stake, you would have made 18pts profit (ROI 7%).
To be fair, that isn’t bad – but there is a more interesting angle…

If you had backed all tips that shortened in price from their advised price (compared to their BSP), then you would have placed 172 bets.
These 172 bets yielded 27 winners – and backed to a level 1pt stake at BSP, a profit of 41.16pts (ROI 24%).

Now I really do think that is interesting !

So much so, that I checked out the same thing for last season.

In the 2012-13 season, there were 96 tips that shortened in price and they produced 15 winners and a profit of 10pts on the 96 staked at BSP (so an ROI of 10.4%).

I’m after a brave volunteer to give it a go in the real environment next season !!

This season, I did actually have a go at finding tips specifically with the aim of them being profitable at BSP, namely the Top Picks.
The rationale was that the price of these horses was already as low as I would reasonably expect it to go – but I expected them to win their races (possibly at a bigger starting price).

Following their introduction in the middle of December, I issued 24 Top Picks.
They produced 5 winners and 5 seconds - and to a level 1pt stake, yielded a 1pt loss.

Clearly, any loss is not great – but I introduced them just as we moved out of the Golden Period; I didn’t included some of the best tips (eg. Freckle Face and Come on Annie) – and BSP is the worst that anyone should have had to settle at (any bookmaker offering BOG would probably have produced better results).

In short there is plenty of upside for them.

As I said in the introduction, I think this is a very interesting area, that I think could  appeal to quite a few of you…

Changes for next season

There are a number of changes that I plan to implement next season (driven to a greater or lesser extent by a lot of what you have just read):

- Take ante-post out of the main service and put it on a free blog.

Nothing splits the existing subscriber base more than ante-post ! Some of you love it – some of you hate it !
Whatever, I’m not sure it really sits within what I’m trying to do, so I’m going to move it outside.
I’ll try to get more active with it on a public blog – but will advise subscribers of any selections before they go on the blog.
I would hope that the blog will get the ‘right' kind of readers, some of whom will ultimately subscribe to the main service.

- Put more focus on the Top Picks and introduce ‘Late Comers’

I think the previous section explains why I want to major more on Top Picks.
The Late comers will be tips that are issued as part of the Daily write-up. These will generally be horses that have drifted to an acceptable price during the morning (or ones that I’ve changed my mind on! ).
It will effectively give me a second bite of the tipping cherry, after I have produced the write-up.

- Take a break over the Christmas Period

I can’t tell you how important it is that I stay ‘fresh’ whilst I’m doing all this – and the Christmas periods nearly did for me last year !
I just can’t juggle everything over that period – so I think it makes sense to draw stumps for a week or so and comeback fresh in the new year.
Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all got better things to do over that time, than listen to me rattling on !

- Tip more in the Golden period – and less at other times

Again, I think I’ve already explained why – I’m just confirming that I will look to make it happen !

- Improve staking

I couldn’t do much worse !

- Improve Saturday performance

I’m absolutely determined to crack this one – so it will happen !


So that’s about it !
I know I’ve written a lot – but a fair chunk of it is for my benefit, when I return in 7 months time.

I’ve put an amazing amount into the service over the past 5 months – and hopefully you consider it time well spent.

I estimate that I have typed close to half a million words – and spent over 1000 hours studying, watching and writing…

Was it all worth it ? Well that’s more difficult to say…

On average, you guys bet at around £40/40Euro a point.
Therefore, if you had followed all of the tips to advised stakes, you would have ‘risked’ around £5K/5K Euro – and should have returned around £1K/1K Euro profit (at 20% ROI).
Collectively, you have therefore won around £40K/40K Euro – of which I have been ‘paid’ around £7K.

Ofcourse, that’s just in monetary terms – and I would never want the service judged purely in such a way…

Hopefully you will all have got just as much pleasure/enjoyment from following the tips and the stories – and latching on to the horses.
I would hope that this is a hobby/interest for many of you – and that the TVB service has improved your knowledge and enhanced your enjoyment.

I’ve certainly enjoyed it.
Sure there have been some stressful times – but the roller-coaster never got out of control, which helped enormously !

I would like to thank you all for your support over the past 5 months – I really can’t emphasis how much it means to know that all of you are right behind me in this.
In particular, I would like to give special thanks to Michael and Ciaran, for the invaluable roles they play in keeping me sane whilst I’m in the pressure cooker !

I will make contact with you all again at the beginning of October to see if you want to subscribe for the 2014-15 season, which I intend to make the best one yet  !


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Aintree - final round-up

As promised, I’ve done the official accounting for Aintree and can report the following numbers:

Across the 3 days, a total of 10.75pts were staked on 30 selections in the 16 races.

Assuming best generally available prices were secured then a profit of 5.19pts (48% ROI) would have been achieved.
If you opted to take BSP (win and place), then the profit figure would have been 4.52pts (42% ROI).

Clearly these are impressive numbers – particularly as there were returns from 6 of the 16 races – including 4 winners – and the P&L didn’t dip into the red after race 1.

I’m sure this is precisely what you guys are after from a tipster – but, whisper it quietly, I think we got lucky… 

The other metrics I use to measure the quality of the tips, say that we did well to end up much better than level across the 3 days.

Of course, that is always the risk when you tip over such a short period of time – and why I’m keen to move these ‘Specials’ outside the scope of the main service.
As a rule, lady luck has declined to smile on the TVB service – but I don’t think I can have any complaints on that front this time round !

The other thing that I got right across the 3 days, was staking.
Again, to level stakes, we would have done little better than break even across the meeting.

So there you go: average tips + good staking + a bit of luck = near 50% profit J

There are a couple of other things that I want to report back from the meeting (which you can mull over during the summer months !).

On the back of my end of season report, a couple of the guys – Dan and Will – took the initiative and used Aintree to pilot a couple of things which I’ve been banging on about…

Dan decided to follow horses at the meeting that had previously been issued as tips, earlier in the season (I included all of them at the end of each days write-up).

Over the 3 days, 20 such horses ran – and between them, yielded 3 winners and a nett profit of 7.5pts – at industry SP – to a 1pt stake (so a ROI of 37%).

This is the fourth major festival in a row that this ‘system’ has worked (Cheltenham 2013 & 2014 and Aintree 2013). The 3 previous occasions all produced returns in excess of 100% - and this one would have done likewise if 25/1 shot Vino Griego had managed to get up close home…

It certainly has to be something worthy of serious consideration, next season…

Like a few of you, Will has an issue getting on with bookmakers – and often struggles to achieve the quoted early prices…
He picked up on the point, in the end of season report, that the tips have been profitable at starting price – provided you only back those that shorten from advised prices…

Across the 3 days, he monitored the prices of all of the tips I put up and, near the off, made the decision to back 10 of the 30 selections (based on them having contracted sufficiently in price).

He managed to get on 3 winners (Balder Succes drifted slightly, so he chose not to back that one) and ended up with a profit at SP, of 11.25pts to the 10pts staked (so an ROI of 112%).

Now I have to say that I think Will got a little lucky in his interpretation.
According to ‘official’ figures, he should have been on 13 horses (and some different to the 10 he was actually on) – and if he had allowed for a 10% drift in price (which I probably would), he would only have been on 22 of the tips. However, the 8 he would have ducked, were all losers…

Clearly this whole area is open to interpretation – however the bottom line is that Will made a very decent profit (as would have been the case throughout the season), by just backing a sub set of the tips at SP (and that was industry SP, not BSP).

He intends to continue his ‘experiment’ next season – and it is something that I think others with account restrictions should also consider doing (if you are not around to monitor markets, then it may be possible to find some bet placement software to automatically submit bets in specific circumstances).

Anyway, that really is it for the season L

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the time – and profited from it as well.

A number of you have already been in touch with me, and I would like to stress that I always appreciate feedback on the service – both positive and negative (I honestly want to know if you think I’m doing something wrong).

If I make mistakes (and I know I do !) then there are nearly always for the right reason (ie. trying too hard !) – hopefully you can all see that…

It is my intention to make public, the private blog that we’ve used through out the season. If anyone has any issue with this, please let me know (or remove your comments – which is the only reason I can think of for objecting).

So that’s it. The next time you’ll hear from me will be in the autumn (early October) – when I’ll be in touch, offering a service which I think will be even better than that provided this year.
It would be nice to think that most of you will be joining me for the next stage of the journey J

Thanks again for your ongoing support.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Review of the day

It may have turned into a bit of a PR exercise for the sport – but the Grand National still makes absolutely compelling viewing…

From the moment that Battle Group refused to race, to when Pineau De Re crossed the line in splendid isolation, there was tension and excitement: thrills and spills of every shape and size…

If you have told me in advance that both Long Run and Teaforthree would fall, I wouldn’t have believed you; Tidal Bay and The Rainbow Hunter were both so unlucky to be taken out of the race – and as for the incident involving Across the Bay…!

As far as the tips were concerned – then all bar one, ran with enormous credit…

That one was Big Shu, who seemed think that the third fence was a bank and tried to run up in rather than jumping over it. His cross country background perhaps betraying him…

The other 5 tips (including Monbeg Dude) were still all well in contention approaching the third last and I have to admit that for a split second, I started to think about which one of them I most wanted to win !

For most of the race, I thought it was likely to be Prince De Beauchene, who was given a peach of a ride by Paul Townend up the inside.
However, he faded after the third last – at which point I thought Rocky Creek was the one.
Unfortunately the same fate befell him, a few hundred yards later – and I was left vainly hoping that either Monbeg Dude or Alvarado could stay on and claim an unlikely victory.

Alas it was not to be and whilst the latter did stay on to tremendous effect to finish fourth, ultimately that was as close as we got…

For what it’s worth, Rocky Creek finally finished 5th (so anyone who backed him EW with B365 will get paid); Monbeg Dude 7th; Vesper Bell 13th and Prince de Beauchene 16th.
It was a fine effort from them all…

Earlier in the day, Un Ace and Kilcooley both ran deplorably in the opener…
Apparently Un Ace bled from the nose, which presumably explains his poor showing.

Fortunately, the following race went almost exactly to script, with Balder Succes proving himself far too good for his rivals.
It was a very impressive performance. Based on the finishing position of Trifolium, the suggestion has to be that Balder Succes is just about the best 2 mile novice seen out this season.
It will be interesting to see if he can take the next step and challenge for the Champion chase in 12 months time…

In the stayers hurdle, a prolonged battle for the lead between Zarkandar and At Fishers Cross probably did for the chances of them both.
I was hoping that it might play into the hands of Salubrious - and whilst he looked set to mount a serious challenge at the second last, ultimately he didn’t get home.
Instead it was Whisper who ground out victory – and to think we were on him earlier in the season when he was beaten in handicap off a mark of 137 L

I strongly fancied two in the next race – so it was a little perplexing to see them both effectively beaten after 3 fences !
I guess they both came with risks, but I would still have expected much better.
As it turned out, it was left to two of our old friends to fight out the finish, with Duke of Lucca just getting the better of Vino Griego.

I was a bit disappointed with the run of Drumlee in the penultimate race on the card – particularly as the two horses that he had form with, were still in with every chance jumping the second last.
However neither of them were any match for the class horse in the race, Court Minstrel. This is his time of the year, and he won well, despite top weight.

Finally, Modus didn’t run his race in the bumper - and consequently finished unplaced.
I’m glad I swerved him !

I’ll put together some stats and numbers for the meeting over the next day or so and send them on to you.
I know that the meeting has been moderately profitable – with small profits recorded on each day.
As you are aware, I was a little apprehensive about how it would go – so I’ll happily take that result !

Anyway, more of that, when I’ve gathered together the details…


Daily write-up - Apr 5th (Aintree day 3)

The final day of the Aintree festival – Grand National day !

And once again there is uncertainty over the state of the going…
The forecast is for rain at some point today – and the course has been watered overnight.
If significant ran does materialise, then heaven knows what the ground will end up like…

I’ve assumed that it won’t (!) – and that the ground will ride similar to the first 2 days.
If that proves not to be the case, then we could be in trouble (though Big Shu will likely revel in it !!).

Outside the ‘big one’, the races look suitably tight – but I’m hopeful I’ve found a  couple of ‘probables’ – and a decent ‘possible’ or two.
If we can end the day as we have done the previous two, I won’t be complaining…

Here’s the rationale…

Aintree 1:30

This looks nearly impossible to call – and victory for any one of the field wouldn’t be a major surprise (with the exception of hurdling debutante No No Romeo).
The one I instinctively wanted to be with, was Un Ace – but I nearly ended up swerving him because his price has shortened to a point where I think he only just represents value…
Certainly he has still got a lot to prove, but his fast finishing eighth in the Supreme novice at Cheltenham gives him a definite chance today…
He was 3 lengths behind Wilde Blue Yonder that day – and he also finished just behind that one in the bumper on this card, 12 months ago.
Strictly on the book, Wilde Blue Yonder should have his measure again today – but I suspect that Un Ace is the more progressive of the pair and I doubt there will be much between them.
Consequently at twice the price, Un Ace was the logical call…
The other one I want on side is more speculative - but has a price to match…
Kilcooley has won 3 of this 4 race under rules – including his two hurdle starts.
They were at Market Rasen and whilst he was impressive in both, it is quite a step up to grade 1 company today.
Whether he will be up to it, is anyones guess. But I was impressed by the way he travelled through his races, which suggested he will be up to competing at a higher level.
Both decent novice form and decent handicap form, are represented by the other runners in the field and deciding which is the strongest, is very difficult.
I’m happy enough that we’ve got 2 on our side who both have fair chances and hopefully one of them might prove good enough to come home in front.

0.25pt win Un Ace 9/1
0.25pt win Kilcooley 25/1


This is another tricky race – but I think it is a bit easier to anticipate the way it will unfold…
Almost certainly, Next Sensation will go off and attempt to make all, the question is whether he will be good enough to hold on.
He wasn’t last time, when he attempted to lead from pillar to post in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham and whilst todays sharper track will help him get home, he is facing better quality opponents.
My feeling is that he will end up giving the likes of Hinterland, Trifolium and Balder Succes a nice lead into the race and they will all look to pounce between the final two flights…
I think we got a reasonable feel for the level of Trifoliums ability at the Cheltenham festival, when he finished third in the Arkle.
Neither Western Warhorse nor Dodging Bullets really advertised that form on Thursday – and I suspect that Trifloum will come up short this afternoon…
It’s not easy to get a handle on Hinterland, but he looks quite closely matched with Grandouet on early season form – and again, that shouldn’t be good enough to win here…
Alan King never intended to run Balder Succes in the Arkle, choosing instead to target him at this race and letting Valdez run at Cheltenham.
Valdez ran quite well at Cheltenham, finishing fifth – just 2 lengths behind Trifolium and a couple of lengths in front of Grandouet.
My feeling is that Dodging Bullets is a better horse than Valdez. If that is the case then he really should have the measure of both Trifolium and Hinterland – the fact that he has been targeted at this race and his main opponents had tough races at Cheltenham, is just an added bonus !

0.75pt win Balder Succes 4/1


At Fishers Cross clearly sets the standard for this race, based on his 6 and a half length third in the World hurdle at Cheltenham.
That represented a return to form for the horse, who had been out of sorts earlier in the season.
Zarkandar finished 2 lengths behind At Fishers Cross that day, but I think there is every reason for thinking that he can reverse the form this afternoon…
The World hurdle was Zarkandars first attempt at a trip beyond 2m4f and he was clearly ridden with a view to getting the trip.
Settled out the back of the field, he was around 6 lengths behind At Fishers Cross turning in. However he ate into the advantage all the way up the straight – and by the line was only a couple of lengths down.
Now that connections know he stays the trip, I can see him being ridden more handily and based on the Cheltenham race, I think he has every chance of getting the better of At Fishers Cross.
In addition to Zarkandar, I want a small saver on Salubrious…
He also ran in the World Hurdle, but gave himself little chance of getting home, by refusing to settle in the race.
He is fitted with a hood for the first time today, which will hopefully clam him down.
If it does work, then based on his runs earlier in the season, behind More of That and Reve De Sivola, he has a better chance of victory that his dismissive odds suggest.

0.5pt win Zarkandar 4/1
0.25pt win Salubrious 20/1


Two horses stand out in this race to me – but unfortunately, they also stood out to the bookmakers and consequently, I almost ended up swerving the race…
The horses in question are Victor Hewgo and Saint Are.
The former is a novice, with only 4 chase runs under his belt. However, he was won 2 of those 4 races – and finished runner up on the other 2 occasions.
More than that, his 2 victories have both seen facile wins – whilst he has finished runner up to two subsequent Cheltenham festivals winners in the shape of Holywell and Western Warhorse.
In short, his chasing form couldn’t look much better ! 
His handicap mark of 139 looks decidedly lenient, as it would be hard to argue with a rating at least 10lb higher than that.
Provided he gets round, he will take all the beating this afternoon…
If he is beaten however, I think it will be by Sainte Are.
Whilst it is difficult to take much from his recent form figures, if you go back a bit further, then you will see a horse that is very well handicapped – and who loves this particular meeting…
He won the 3 mile novice hurdle here 3 seasons ago (from Cantlow) and then retuned 12 months later to take this very race, off a mark of 137.
He beat Battle Group by half a length that day, with the third horse 16 lengths further back.
A further 12 months on, Battle Group franked that form in no uncertain terms by hacking up in today race – so off a mark of just 129 today, Saint Are really could be thrown in…
The slight danger with him is that he is not the horse he used to be.
However, he ran with a certain amount of promise on his penultimate outing at Haydock and with the visor back on today, in the perfect race, I am optimistic that he will bounce right back to form and hopefully prove too good for Victor Hewgo.

0.5pt win Saint Are 15/2


First things first, let me say that I think that the top dozen in the betting have all got a very good chance of winning and depending on who gets the luck, I could see any one of them coming home in front.
With the modified fences, I would expect most of the best horses to get round (assuming they don’t get caught up in traffic) and I will be surprised if 6 or 7 of the market leaders aren’t in the first 10 home.
We are on Monbeg Dude ante-post from before Christmas at 25/1 – and I think he has a decent chance. I would be less inclined to play on him at the current 14/1 however..
Of the others in the race, I have selected 5, that I think are over priced. If Monbeg isn’t up to the job, then hopefully one of them will be…
The first selection is Prince De Beauchene.
He has been ante-post favourite for the past 2 Grand Nationals but not made it on the day. It’s therefore ironic that he when he does get here, he is a 25/1 shot !
Listening to Willie Mullins yesterday, the suggestion was that he felt he had been too hard on the horse in the build up in the past 2 years – and that the horse has not lasted the season as a result.
This time round he has apparently done things differently and been easy on him, with a view to ramping up things for today. Whether he has got the timing right, is obviously the question. But this is Willie Mullins we’re talking about – I think we all know what the answer to that question is likely to be ;)
Next up I’m going for Rocky Creek. He represents the stable of Paul Nicholls – another man who will be very keen to lift the most valuable prize in jump racing.
Rocky Creek was actually being aimed at the Cheltenham Gold Cup but had to miss that race. His earlier form with The Giant Bolster, suggests he may have gone close in that contest so off a mark of 156, he has to be of interest today.
The third member of the TVB National squad, is Big Shu.
He won the cross country race at the Cheltenham festival 12 months ago and was fancied to follow up this year. However, he didn’t quite get home in that race – apparently because he wasn’t 100% fit (his trainer runs a very small operation).
That won’t be an issue today – and the horse has already proved his ability to jump and his ability to stay. Even if the rain materialises, he should run a big race…
Alvarado is not as guaranteed to run a big race – but if he does, he has the ability to outrun his odds.
He was successful at Cheltenham in November, on his first try at a marathon trip. He stayed on strongly that day to beat Knockara Beau, with the like of Monbeg Dude further behind.
He has clearly been saved for todays contest and whilst he will need a bit of luck in running, he has got the right man on top in the shape of Paul Moloney, to steer a course through the traffic.
My final selection for the race, really does come from left field…
Vesper Bell has fallen and unseated his rider in 2 of his 3 runs this seasons – so has hardly had the ideal preparation. However, he remains a stayer with untapped potential – as his second behind Goonyella at Punchestown last April, shows.
He is also trained by Willie Mullins and for that reason alone, I don’t think he should be 80/1…
He’s a risky one for sure – but I just think he might be capable of going close…
Of the others, then I would fully expect huge runs from Teaforthree, Long Run and Burton Port – but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Let’s hope that I’ve managed to draw it in the right place !!

0.25pt win Prince De Beauchene 25/1
0.25pt win Big Shu 22/1
0.25pt win Rocky Creek 20/1
0.125pt EW Alvarado 40/1
0.125pt EW Vesper Bell 80/1


Despite the field size, this is another race with a stand out candidate.
Katgary was an unlucky second on his debut for Paul Nicholls in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham festival. He has been raised 7lb for that run – but all things being equal, you would still expect him to go close this afternoon…
The trouble with him is that you can’t be sure that he will have progressed for that run – and he is a relatively inexperienced 4 year old, taking on a lot of more experienced and more mature horses…
Ultimately it comes down to the price. At 5/1, I might have been prepared to take the risk – and 7/2, I’m not…
Instead, I’ve opted for the Charlie Swan trained novice, Drumlee…
He has shown steadily progressive form in this, his first season over hurdles – and looks like he will be well suited by todays test of 2 miles on quick ground.
On the book, there isn’t a lot between him and Somethingwonderful, based on their last time out run at Navan. Drumlee is only 2lb better off today for a 5 length beating, but he was eased close home and I suspect there won’t be much between the two today.
The thing that really tips me in favour of Drumleee, is the booking of Ger Fox.
As I mentioned earlier in the week, he is as good a 7lb claimer as there is riding at the moment and I would be hopeful that he could make the difference if things get tight.
Clearly there are plenty of other in the race with decent chances – and with 22 runners and apprentices on top, a bit of luck will be required !
However, if he gets that bit of luck, then I would be hopefully that Drumlee could run a big race.

0.25pt win Drumlee 16/1


The final race of the meeting and I was half tempted to take a chance on Modus…
He ran a fair enough race to finished eighth in the Champion bumper at the Cheltenham festival and a reproduction of that form will almost certainly see him go close this afternoon.
The trouble is, there is absolutely no way of knowing whether it will be good enough to win.
It is the best piece of form shown by any of the runners so far – but that doesn’t mean that it will not be surpassed this afternoon. In fact, it almost certainly will…
Of his rivals, then Ordo Ab Chao and Battle Born are the two that most caught my attention – but it really would be guesswork with them.
On balance, then a race better watched with an eye to next season…

Here’s hoping for a great day ahead !



Aint 1:30 Un Ace 9/1
Aint 1:30 Kilcooley 25/1
Aint 2:05 Balder Succes 4/1
Aint 2:50 Zarkandar 4/1
Aint 2:50 Salubrious 20/1
Aint 3:25 Saint Are 15/2
Aint 4:15 Prince De Beauchene 25/1
Aint 4:15 Rocky Creek 20/1
Aint 4:15 Big Shu 22/1
Aint 4:15 Alvarado 40/1
Aint 4:15 Vesper Bell 80/1
Aint 5:10 Drumlee 16/1

*Ex TVB tips running this afternoon are as follows:

 TVB Ex Tips
Lac Fontana
The Knoxs
Johns Spirit
Saint Are
Tranquil Sea
Vino Griego
Monbeg Dude
Jumps Road

Cheltenham TVB Tips
Next Sensation
Our Kaempfer

Review of the day

It was another reasonable day at the office, with victory for Clondaw Kaempfer in the penultimate race on the card, seeing us grind out a couple more points profits…

In truth, as with yesterday, it could have been a lot better – but it’s very difficult to get all the close calls right, so I’ll take what we got (like I have any choice !!).

There was no joy in the opening race on the card, where I was particularly disappointed by the run of Amore Alato…
He had a decent chance on the book – but simply didn’t look up to the job.
Mijhar ran a fair race to finish fifth, but was no match for the very easy winner Josses Hill, who was backed as if defeat was out of the question and never gave his supporters an anxious moment.

Pepite Rose was the next tip to run – and the first irritating race of the day…
As I intimated in the write-up, I considered tipping Boston Bob, but felt that 2m4f on good ground wouldn’t provide a sufficient stamina test.
Obviously the suggestion in that comment, is that I know better than Willie Mullins – which is clearly nonsense !
Boston Bob was the one proven grade 1 horse in the race – and sure enough his class came to the for.
With hindsight, I felt a bit stupid having missed it…
Pepite Rose ran a decent enough race to finish sixth – but that is probably as good as she is…

Next up it was Tatenen and friends in the Topham.
And whilst his friends weren’t quite up to the job, old Tatenen relished the test, as I thought he might…
OK, he was no match for Ma Filleule, who romped to victory like an exceptionally well handicapped horse – but Tatenen finished to some effect to take fourth – and in a 10 more yards would probably have been runner up (not that it would really have mattered either way).
Even in defeat, I got quite a lot of satisfaction from that one…

It was Seeyouatmidnights turn next.
He almost felt too good to be true to me: nearly a stone clear on ratings, barely a question mark against him and 5/1 this morning - and as is so often the case in such situations, it was indeed to good to be true !
Not that he ran poorly – he didn’t but he was no match for either Beat That or Cole Harden…
Again, I got very close to tipping the runner up but figured he was a little too speculative.
Once again however,  I was wrong, as he ran an absolute cracker – briefly looking as if he might hold on, before the winners class saw him past.
There will be other days for Seeyouatmidnight, I have no doubt about that – and he remains very much one to look out for over fences, next season.

The final two tips of the day ran in the penultimate race on the card.
I thought this morning that both had decent chances – and sure enough, both ran very good races…
Alaivan was a bit free – then a bit outpaced – and ultimately not quite good enough.
But having looked beaten jumping the last, Clondaw Kaempfer found reserves in the final half furlong to forge past Caid De Berlais.
It was a gutsy win from a horse who is clearly back at the top of his game…

In the other two races on the card: O’Faolains Boy ran disappointingly in the novice chase, which was won comfortably by Holywell.
The winner was quoted at 14/1 for next seasons Gold Cup, after the race – anyone interested can have twice that price with me ;)

Finally, the lucky pin didn’t quite live up to its name in the finale, picking out the runner-up and a slightly unlucky fifth placer.

I better get shining it up if it’s going to crack the National for us tomorrow !!