24 Feb 2018

Betfred Eider Handicap Chase (Class 2)

Mud-lovers everywhere eye up the Eider chase to provide a suitable playground for their talents. It’s not soft or heavy there every year, but when it is the going stick usually registers 4 point something which equals a slog-fest, where just to finish counts as an achievement.

Purely taking the years where the official going was soft or heavy, gives us 9 renewals this century: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014 & 2017. You would think these would throw up some some lumpy prices, but aside from a 16/1 in 2011 all the winners were reasonably well found: 10/1 or lower. It’s a very similar story with runners in the frame.

8 of those winners were officially rated from 123 to 138 – all the 8 most recent renewals. Of these, 7 had previously raced 4 to 13 times in steeplechases and over half of those had competed in no more than 4 to 7. The only exception was Nil Desperandum in 2007, who was a Grade 1 winner as a novice and exceptionally durable. For normal horses, they need to be much lower mileage to want to do this.

Running these filters in 2018 throws up: Vinnie Lewis, Back To The Thatch & Thebarrowman.

Thebarrowman is dark horse material and impossible to weigh up as he’s never raced beyond 25fl. He’s got regular partner Roger Loughran in the saddle so that doesn’t tell us much. Chances are he’s in over his head but watch out for signs of support on the run to post.

BACK TO THE THATCH would be an unusual winner as a 6yo and takes a massive step into the unknown in terms of trip. But he will love the conditions and looks a young staying chaser going places. VINNIE LEWIS has been well found, but remains on a workable price and ticks all the boxes.

2.45 Newcastle, Back to the Thatch 1pt EW 8/1, 4x1/4
2.45 Newcastle, Vinnie Lewis 2pt win 11/2

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: WWW.KEYRACINGNEWS.COM/FORUM-RESULTS

Mud, wonderful mud


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:

Sandown Park racecourse