17 Feb 2018

Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

The Betfred Grand National Trial is always one of those good staying chases to savour at this time of year, although 2018 has produced a smallish field that rather lacks strength in depth.

Money has poured in for Wild West Wind who took a crashing fall when going well 6 or 7 out in the Welsh National. It really was a shocking exit and it remains to be seen whether the memory of that calamity dents his appetite. If not, then he has an obvious chance, but the value has long gone.

This Grand National Trial is the obvious next step for The Dutchman, who has been raised 13lbs for winning a substandard Peter March and also has a question to answer at the trip. Three Faces West is another coming back from a fall. Silsol looked a shade of each way value at when 12/1+, but represents more of a frame than winning chance.

BLAKLION was 2nd in this last year, in a better renewal, 18 lengths clear of the 3rd. His 9-length romp in the Becher Chase means he lines up 9 pounds higher this time, but nevertheless it’s going to take a good one to stop him and Sam Twiston-Davies swerves the claims of Silsol to take the ride.

Thanks to the strength of Wild West Wind the layers have been forced to push him out to around 3/1 (Blacktype are 10/3 as I pen this), and that looks an opportunity to be taken.

3.15 Haydock, Blaklion 1.5pt win 3/1+


This week we are at Haydock Park Racecourse for the Grand National Trial


3 Feb 2018

Notes for Sandown & Musselburgh

A couple of pieces of advice that I think will guide you in the right direction this afternoon:


Sandown hosts a really good Grade 3 staying handicap hurdle, the Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle at 3pm.

Being Sandown in early Feb, over a stiff 3 miles and invariably run in pretty testing conditions, it’s no surprise that weight has tended to be the crucial factor.

16 of the last 18 winners carried no more than 10-12, including every winner since 2005. The ones to concentrate on are aged up to 9yo and no higher than 20/1 SP. And qualifiers regularly litter the frame. For instance, last year there were 6 qualifiers, they finished: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9.

If you had backed every qualifier since 1997, £1 EW at standard EW terms, you’d would be +£54.11 with 37 win or placed (33.33% SR). And that’s before any bookmakers’ EW concessions for 5th place. That 5th place, if you can get it, would have paid out an extra 9 times for 46 win or placed.

You might want to take a close look at this years’ possible qualifiers, who are: Flemcara, Golan Fortune, Okotoks, King Of Fashion, Dashing Park, Forth Act, Man Of Plenty. You could do a lot worse than back 2 or 3 EW who are either firmly or at least not unsupported on the way to post.


A few notable NH trainers are sending horses on a long trip (280 miles+) to Scotland today. Two to be aware of when that happens are Fergal O’Brien and Paul Nicholls in hunter chases, maiden or handicaps.

Paul Nicholls; 11 wins from 44, 25% SR, +£30.50 LSP
Fergal O’Brien; 17 wins from 44, 38.64% SR, +£49.78 LSP

O’Brien uses a variety of riders, but none more so than Paddy Brennen. When Brennan is in the plate they are 11 wins from 26, 42.31% SR, +£34.78 LSP. Brennen takes the ride today on 12.55 Muss, Imperial Eloquence & 3.15 Muss, Bells N Banjos.

The only fly in the ointment is that they have been cleaning up mid-week, so on a Saturday they are up against a hoard of Paul Nicholls runners. The current returns for Saturday only are:

Paul Nicholls; 6 wins from 28, 21.43% SR, +£15 LSP
Fergal O’Brien; 0 wins from 3, 0%, -£3.00

It would clearly be unwise to reject the O’Brien runners out of hand; Paddy Brennen is going a long way to take the rides. They all need considering, and between them are likely to produce a few winners this afternoon.

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance: www.keyracingnews.com/forum-results

Sandown Park racecourse


27 Jan 2018

Sky Bet Handicap Chase (Class 2)

Nice to be back blogging today after a bit of downtime for the Festive season. So, without further ado.

UPSILON BLEU has been popular at Doncaster today, and in our opinion rightly so, but there’s enough useful opposition to keep the price fairly honest at 4/1.

Harry Whittington’s Bigmartre is a young improver stepping out of novice company, he’s open to improvement but will need to in these deeper waters.

Upsilon Bleu is a Doncaster course specialist with course form of 2,1,1 – his last two last career wins coming at this time of year at the Yorkshire venue, including this race last term.

He’s back on the same mark of 142 today, arrives in very good form and drops to his best trip after a nice spin at Musselburgh. He handles the ground – in class 2 company at Donny he’s won on good and soft.

Trip, track, distance, class, going, form. There are ticks in every box and he looks a major player.

3.50 Doncaster, Upsilon Bleu 2pt win 4/1 various

Good luck,


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Upsilon Bleu, major player in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster


2 Dec 2017

Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Grade 3)

The enhanced place terms offered for prime feature handicaps like the Hennessy are a highly useful betting angle, if you can make a fair case that the race throws up enough lumpy prices to make it worthwhile - which of course they often do.

Since 1999, looking at runners that went off between 20/1 and 50/1: I can find 15 in the frame to typical enhanced place terms that can be linked by a simple criteria (let alone the 7 places offered by Hills and Sky today.)

It's really a question of class. You are looking for horses who have won a Grade 2 or 3 race of any kind, priced today between 20/1 and 50/1. The Grade 1 winners are ignored as the prices aren't normally good enough.

Then the only other filter is that they line up today on a chase handicap mark (before any riders' claim) that is no higher than their highest chase mark in their last 10 runs. That's it.

If you had backed all such runners blind, 1pt EW since 1999, on standard industry place terms: 45 bets, 12 win or placed for +65 pts profit (+72.7% ROI). But todays enhanced place terms, even adjusting for years with smaller fields, would have yielded at least another 12.2 points profit.

There are four qualifiers this year. I put a line through Southfield Royale as he just doesn't seem in love with the game (let's hope that's true). Make sure you take SP; Hills and Sky are obviously trimming their prices due to the 7 place concession - so with any luck they should go off higher than the current quotes.

3.00 Newbury, Pleasant Company 1pt EW at SP, Hills or Skybet 5x1/7
3.00 Newbury, Label Des Obeaux 0.5pt EW at SP, Hills or Skybet 5x1/7
3.00 Newbury, Double Ross 0.5pt EW at SP, Hills or Skybet 5x1/7

Good luck,

Herbie is one of the pro-gamblers in the ENIGMA forum:

About us: http://www.keyracingnews.com/about-us/4593890647

Double Ross, one of 3 live outsiders for the 2017 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase 


25 Nov 2017

Christy 1965 Chase & The Ascot Hurdle (Grade 2's)

We usually try to find something at a fair EW price for Pro Tips but the decent ground is at Ascot and both features look likely to be taken by something in the first 3 in the betting.

In the 1965 Chase, Top Gamble is favoured by the weights and might launch a fair bid although the ground is against him. They've tried to compensate by stepping up in trip but that rarely seems to work for horses who just like it properly soft, and in all probability the race will turn into a match between Top Notch and Smad Place.

Both will have their supporters but thanks to a touch of ageism the value lies with SMAD PLACE, who ran superbly in the Old Roan Chase. Even in receipt of 3lbs, Top Notch will need to have come on a fair bit to get the better of the 2015 Hennessy winner who is the better jumper of the pair and a tough nut to crack in peak form

LIL ROCKERFELLA has shed his Grade 2 penalty and is now ripe to collect another decent pot. He ran a blinder in this race last year, giving 4lbs to Yanworth who had to pull out all the stops. This year he receives 6 from L'Ami Serge and 3 from Defi Du Seuil. He also comes here cherry ripe, rather than having a straightener for other targets which is really what this race represents for the others.

The imponderable is how much improvement Defi Du Seuil will find at this trip, but he's still only a 4-y-o and has a long season ahead - he's not fully mature and they will have left something to work on, and at the prices we think the value lies with Lil Rockerfella.

2.05 Ascot, Smad Place 2pt win 7/2 various
2.40 Ascot, Lil Rockerfella 2pt win 11/4 various
Also 1pt EW double

Good luck,

Herbie is one of the pro-gamblers in the ENIGMA forum:

Smad Place, will be a tough nut to crack in the 1965 Chase for Alan King