First of all I would like to say Happy new year to all my Members and Followers of my blog. May 2013 be a great year for you all.

It has been a funny xmas and new year with the weather playing its part yet again. Can we really take any of the form over the last 10 days literally. Well its open to debate considering conditions. Horses are funny animals and a change from heavy ground to good ground can improve a horse over 2 stone. For me its what you can take out of the races and likely improvement of these animals when given better ground.

Dont get me wrong I think for the first time in a long time we could have a testing Cheltenham Festival. Given the saturated ground we probably would only need a pour down a few days before to get soft ground. (personal opinion).

What Im going to try and do from the races I pick, to find horse with big improvement on good ground and find horses who actually will run big races no matter what the conditions. Obviously I will be seeking value bets.

It all started at Ascot on 22nd December. The long walk hurdle is a key race in the build up to the World hurdle, a race always won by Big Bucks over the last few seasons. With no Big Bucks it was actually a wide open race with the 3 market principals Smad Place, Trustan Times and Reve De Sivola making the first 3. Reve De Sivola 9/2 won the race in impressive style by 14 lengths. Smad Place 15/8 2nd and Trustan Times 11/4 a further 6 lengths back in 3rd. What can we take from this race going into the World Hurdle.
Personally I think Smad Place would of hated the ground, you only got to look at his form, he only raced once on soft or heavy gorund. Can he turn 14 length beating around? Most definately in my eyes. I think the key to Smad Place is good ground and come March providing we have the normal spring ground then he will improve considerably. In the world hurlde he is 20/1 best priced with Betfred. He finished 3rd in the race last year at the same price but this year we have no Big Bucks. I am also going to put up Reve De Sivola as I also believe he a completely different animal over hurdles. You just look at his novice hurdle form. I just think Reve De Sivola hated fences and lost love with the game. He certainly looked to be back in love the game given his very impressive winning manner. For the World Hurdle he is best price 12/1 with Ladbrokes. Given his adaptability and no preference of ground that is a very nice price. I think given heavy or good ground he will run a huge race.

World Hurdle – SMAD PLACE 1 Point win 20/1 Betfred
World Hurlde – REVE DE SIVOLA 1 Point win 12/1 Ladbrokes

Moving on to Boxing Day where my focus will be on 2 races. The Christmas Hurdle and The King George.

Starting with The Christmas Hurdle. This was a great race with Darlan finishing 1st Raya Star 2nd and Dodging Bullets 3rd. I must say I most taken by the performance of Darlan and the manner of his victory. Pre race Nicky Henderson stressed he had to take up his engagement as he was running out of time to get a run in with Darlan. Previously taken out of 2 races because he would not like soft/heavy ground what does he go and do, absolutely hose up. Now for a horse who hated the ground goes to show he is an absolute machine. I cannot see him getting beat in Champion Hurdle as he will be an even better horse on likely better ground at Cheltenham. He is a horse of serious potential and although a very short 4/1, when I weigh up prices of other horses such as Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre 4/1 could turn out to a steal. I will take another horse out of this race in Dodging Bullets. I thought he travelled really well throughout considering he is a novice and at 14/1 is massive for the supreme. I remember 2 years ago Cue Card finished 2nd to Menorah in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Cue Card was then priced at 2/1 for the Supreme Novices. Reading along the same lines of novice against 2 season hurdlers they have him priced up wrong. I will even throw in the fact that this is actually Dodging Bullets 2nd season hurdling. He ran in the Triumph last year. Dodging Bullets could turn into the bet of the festival in value terms.

Champion Hurdle – DARLAN 4/1 Betfred
Supreme Novices Hurdle – DODGING BULLETS 14/1 Betfred

The King George

What a race this was with Long Run coming out on top, Captain Chris 2nd, Grand Crus 3rd.

Well I have to say pre race I was all over Cue Card and actually had quite a large chunk on him. I new my fate 1st fence and 2nd fence. He actually did well to travel as well as he did up until 3 out and he is one to keep on the right side of for the ryanair. Champion Court was as game as ever and is another to put in the note book for the Ryanair. After watching the race back numerous times I still cant believe Long Run won this race, not because he didnt deserve it but the fact he hit so many fences yet still won race. This horse really deserves some praise under heavy conditions and smashing a load of fences, credit where it is due this was some performance. There is not another horse around who would get away with such mistakes yet still win. On the other hand I still would love to see a better jockey aboard. Could you imagine Long Run with a Ruby, Mccoy or Gerraghty aboard. You can only imagine. Im not taking nothing away from SWC though I thought he done super and in all fairness he was a length down to Dickie Johnson on the run and won that battle. So hats down. For me though I will take Captain Chris out of this race as top performer. Seems to have grown up this year and sorted his jumping out. This horse would of absolutely hated the conditions yet still run Long run so close. He is matured this year and although everyone says he needs Right hand tracks and good ground, with this maturity Im sure he will be fine going left handed around Cheltenham and yes he most probably will get his spring ground he loves. Lets not forget Captain Chris has won an arkle and was a staying on 4th in the ryanair. Dont sound like a horse who hates Cheltenham hey. So the 2 horses I will take to Gold Cup are Long Run and Captain Chris. Long Run gives me a headache but I cant get out of my head that one day he will Ping every fence and absolutely bolt up.

Gold Cup – LONG RUN 7/1 William Hill
Gold Cup – CAPTAIN CHRIS 30.0 Betfair

Moving over to Ireland on the 28th December in the Lexus Chase. Before going into detail on the race I must stress the day belonged to Ruby Walsh at Leopardstown. Two amazing rides on Back on Focus and Tidal Bay. The Man is a genius.

What do I take from the Lexus Chase. Well it was a funny race in my eyes. Flemenstar Jumped super and travelled well throughout and certainly looked the winner at the last fence. Everyone saying he dont stay, well he obviously dont stay as well as the others in the race but this race was over 3 miles on very testing ground. Given better ground you would have to say he would of won the race. Trainer has since come out and said he will be taking on Sprinter Sacre in Queen Mother. Wrong chose in my eyes, should definately be Ryanair adn if he did go that way I would fill my boots with him.

Well winner of this race was Tidal Bay 1st First Lieutenant 2nd Flemenstar 3rd. Tidal Bay came from nowhere and what a great ride by Ruby it was truly magic. After this you would think Tidal has to go to Gold Cup but Trainer has other ideas unless it is soft ground. Take nothing away from First Lieutenant another game perforamnce and a horse who I think will improve when stepped up to the 3 mile 2f at Cheltenham. The horse I will actual take from the race is Sir Des Champs who finished a tremendous 4th. He made mistake after mistake after mistake with his jumping but still only finished 1 length behind the winner. I do blame the ground with Sir Des Champs jumping as I know he is not a bad jumper. You only got to watch his win at last years Festival in the Jewson to see he a very good jumper. Given better ground at Festival and step up in trip(finished very fast) he still a massive player and at 7/1 is decent value. I will also throw in Tidal Bay for Gold Cup as stated earlier in blog could well be a soft Cheltenham. Tidal Bay is a massive 20.0 on Betfair and still cant get out of my heaad why owners wont want a crack at Gold Cup.

Gold cup – SIR DES CHAMPS 7/1 Ladbrokes
Gold cup – TIDAL BAY 20.0 Betfair

How you have all enjoyed the read and JPW’S in depth thoughts. My next Ante Post Blog will be February 3rd. In the meantime I will have a FREE Saturday Tip every week.

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