Cheltenham Festival 2020: Day 4 (13th March)

A fantastic Day 3 at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Highlights: Samco winning the March Novices' Chase on the nod. On a personal note, I was over the moon to see Min battle hard and hold on in gutsy style from Saint Calvados in the Ryanair Chase. 

Rebecca Curtis and the team were overjoyed to see 50/1 Lisnagar Oscar win, battling on well to win by two lengths. By all accounts, the Welsh trainer had told syndicates Racing For Fun that the seven-year-old gelding would win!  

Going (good to soft in places)

1:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo) 2m 1f

2:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (5yo+) 2m 1f

2:50 Albertlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 3m

3:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 3m 21/2f

4:10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (5yo+)  2m 1/2f

4:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (5yo+) 2m 1/2f

5:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (4yo+) 2m 41/2f 

Take a look at Friday's bloggers' reviews here:

Wayward Lad Blog - Friday

PG's Tips Blog - Friday

So how did the Bloggers do on Thursday? 

Wayward Lad - Tout Es Permis was placed at 20/1. Bacardys was given a good word at 33/1 who finished third. 

PG's Tips Blog - Min proved a good tip. 

Good luck to all. 

Cheltenham Festival 2020: Day 3 (12th March)

A fantastic Day 2 at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Highlights: Champ pulled a victory out of the jaws of defeat and touched 599/1 in running on the exchanges before Gerraty mustered a finish to catch the leaders who tired in the final half-furlong. Quite incredible - especially if you bet on J P McManus' eight-year-old gelding. 

Tiger Roll showed his well-being when runner-up in the Cross Country Chase. Easyland travelled well and simply ran away with real gusto to give McManus and incredible day with four rude winners: Champ (4/1), Dame De Compagnie (5/1), Easyland (3/1) & Amarax (15/2).   

Going: Soft, good to soft in places

1:30 Cheltenham - Marsh Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m 4f

2:10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (5yo+) 3m

2:50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 2m 41/2f

3:30 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 3m

4:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (5yo+) 

4:50 Daylesford Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)(4yo+) 2m 1f

5:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (5yo+) 3m 2f

Take a look at Thursday's bloggers' reviews here:

Wayward Lad Blog - Thursday 

PG's Tips Blog - Thursday 

So how did the bloggers do on Wednesday? 

Wayward Lad: 

Black Tears went well at 12/1 and finished runner-up. Easyland ran out a lovely winner and advised at 7/2. 

PG's Tips: 

He didn't have any winners on the day.  

Cheltenham Festival 2020 - Day 2 (11th March)

A fantastic Day 1 at the Cheltenham Festival. 


Great to see Put The Kettle On win at (16/1) in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1). 

There was a lot to like how Epatante (2/1) won the Champion Hurdle in fine style pulling away easily.      

The Conditional 9/1 winner put a smile on the face of both bloggers. 

Going: Soft, heavy in places

1:30 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 

2:10 RSA Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+) 3m 1/2f 

2:50 Coral Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo+) 2m 5f

3:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 

4:10 Glenfarclas Chase (5yo+) 3m 6f

4:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo) 2m 1/2f 

5:30 Weatherby Champion Bumper (Grade 1) (4-6yo)     

Once again we will be taking a look at our recommended bloggers for tips on the day. 

Wayward Lad Blog 

PG's Tips Blog 

How did they get on for Cheltenham Day 1:

Wayward Lad: 

Gave three selections in the 2:50 Cheltenham and got The Conditional, advised each-way at 9/1.  

PG's Tips: 

Proved spot on with his each-way selection The Conditional (2:50 Cheltenham) that he tipped at 9/1 for trainer David Bridgwater. 

Good luck. 

Cheltenham Festival 2020: Day 1 (10th March)

Well, the countdown is on. 

I haven't got an informed opinion when it comes to the National Hunt but that doesn't mean I don't know a couple of bloggers who pride themselves on detailed analysis and tips. 

A bit more of that in a few minutes. 

Day 1 - 10th March 

Going: Soft

Here's a quick rundown of the main event:

1:30 Cheltenham - Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m 1/2f

2:10 Cheltenham - Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (5yo) 2m

2:50 Cheltenham - Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (5yo+) 3m 1f 

3:30 Cheltenham - Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m 1/2f

4:10 Cheltenham - Close Brothers Mare's Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m 4f

4:50 Cheltenham - Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed Race) 2m 4f

5:30 Cheltenham - National Hunt Challenge Cup Amature Riders' Novices' Chase (Grade 2)  3m 6f

Anyway, I am not a jack of all trades and I am all about promoting those who know their racing and niche. 

So I have a couple of recommendations for blogs that will see you well this Cheltenham Festival 2020.

Wayward Lad - Ian has run this well-informed blog since 2010 and must have over 1000 posts. He has been very successful over the years and loves Cheltenham. I like the fact he uses form and statistics which dictate what to expects. Someone I would recommend to all punters.

PG's Tips - Graham blog dates back to 2006 and he has a great style of giving top-class information with wit and wisdom. He is an astute man who not only enjoys his racing but puts in the work to keep ahead of the game.

Take note of these guys because they put in unending hours and if you want an expert option you won't go wrong with Wayward Lad and PG's Tips. 

Good luck. 

4 Horses to Bet for Cheltenham Festival 2020

Well, the Cheltenham Festival is just about here. 

I can't say I have much interest in the National Hunt because I am a Flat turf man but I do love the buzz that comes from Prestbury Park. 

So what's it all about?

Well, starting on the 10th March 2020 we will be waiting for the start of the biggest, baddest racing to get our teeth into. 

Tuesday 10th March - Champion Day 

The feature race is the Unibet Champion Hurdle 

At the time of writing, Nicky Henderson has Epatante that's priced at 7/2. 

I am quite interested in Henry De Bromhead's Honeysuckle who must have a sterling chance as an each-way wager. 

Wednesday 11th March - Ladies' Day 

The feature race the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. 

This looks like a cracking race. It looks a tight race at the head of the betting. 

The leading trio is Nicky Henderson's Altior, Defi Du Seuil, trained by Philip Hobbs and Willie Mullins' Chacun Pour Soi. 

This looks a tough nut to crack and I will have to side with *Altior although for small stakes. 


Thursday - 12th March - St Patrick's Day 

The feature race is the Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy). 

I'm excited by this Grade 1 race. This race is another competitive heat and the top three in the betting are as follows: A Plus Tard, trained by Henry De Bromhead, in the ownership of Cheveley Park Stud, Min, trained by Willie Mullins, while Frodon is a real hard nut for Paul Nicholls.    

I will be betting on Min to small stakes. I would love to bet on this son of Walk In The Park each-way but it looks unlikely. 

Friday - 13th March - Day Four 

The pinnacle of racing and the historic Gold Cup. Could this be a brilliant conclusion for Nicky Henderson at Cheltenham Festival 2020? 

Santini is a horse I have been watching and looking forward to here. This will be no easy task against Willie Mullins' Al Bom Photo and Delta Work for Gordon Elliott. 

I'm far from knowledgable when it comes to the National Hunt or Cheltenham Festival tipping but that is the beauty of the amazing horse racing spectacle. It brings new blood not only into the breeding line of an exceptional racehorse but new punters who are tasting victory for the first time. 

Good luck to all and be safe.

Tic-Tac The Bookies Secret Code

Tic-Tac The Bookies Secret Code
It used to be a familiar practice at racecourses up and down the country. Tic-Tac, a non-verbal system to communicate betting around the racecourse, so bookmakers could keep up to date with betting moves, especially if a big bet had been placed. 

In 1999 there were only three practitioners left: Micky ''Hokey'' Stuart, Billie Brown & Rocky Roberts. 

These days of Tic-Tac have long gone. With the introduction of Betfair, a betting exchange, founded in 2000, the way people bet and how information was used changed dramatically. Not only did bookmakers use this platform to hedge their bets but the information made Tic-Tac obsolete. 

Who needed a man with white gloves and a secret code when the betting was in front of their eyes? However, the image of the Tic-Tac man (or woman) is a nostalgic reminder of times gone by and a sign that technology never stops. 

A Guide to Bookie Hand Signals: 

  • Tic-Tac Odds of 9/4 ("top of the head") – both hands touching the top of the head. 
  •  Odds of 10/1 ("cockle" or "net") – fists together with the right-hand thumb protruding upwards, to resemble the number 10. 
  •  Odds of 11/10 ("tips") – hands together and touching all fingers on both hands together.
  • Odds of 5/4 ("wrist") – the right hand is moved to touch the left wrist. 
  • Odds of 33/1 ("double carpet") – arms crossed, hands flat against the chest

Photo Finishes Aren't Always Correct!

Photo Finishes Aren't Always Correct!
Unfortunately, not for the first time in recent history, the photo finish hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons at Sandown Park in March 2019. In the latest of a series of embarrassing blunders, Judge Paul Champion called the result of a two-and-a-half-mile hurdle race based on a photo finish print from a camera incorrectly trained on the first, rather than the second, of the two winning posts at the Esher course. The mistake was noticed before the ‘weigh in’ and, after a lengthy delay, the result was reversed, but not before some bookmakers had already paid out on the original ‘winner’. 

This time, the gaffe was quickly attributed to a human error by photo finish operator Racetech, which should have aimed both its digital cameras at the second winning post, rather than one at each winning post. Nevertheless, the judge is responsible for giving the correct result of each race and, along with the photo finish operator, for ensuring that equipment is set up correctly to provide accurate pictorial evidence of the result. 

The current generation of photo finish cameras, known as Scan ‘O’ Vision, no longer rely on a roll of film in constant motion, but on digital technology. Two digital cameras, mounted in an elevated position in the stand, close to the judge’s box, are focussed on the winning post. The winning is fitted with a strip of mirror so that in the event of a blanket, or bunch, finish, the judge can obtain a clear view of horses from the far side of the course, which might otherwise be concealed. 

The basic principle of the photo finish, known as ‘strip photography’, is the same as it has always been. The image produced by a digital camera consists of millions of tiny dots called ‘picture elements’, or ‘pixels’ for short. Photo finish cameras take continuous, but very narrow – usually just a single pixel wide – images of the finish line as the horses pass through. The image frames so created are positioned side-by-side in chronological order and blended to create the final photo finish ‘print’, which is typically made available to the judge within seconds of the last horse crossing the line. Nowadays, photo finish software also calculates distances between finishers, based on the time intervals between them and a ‘lengths per second’ parameter, which varies according to the code of racing taking place, the surface or the prevailing going. 

If the distance between two placed horses in a race appears, to the naked eye, to be a nose, a short head or a head, the judge will call for photographic evidence from the photo finish operator to determine the correct result. A vertical timeline is superimposed on the foremost part of each horse, usually the tip of its muzzle – although not including its tongue – to enable quick, efficient interpretation. Clearly, the system is not foolproof and probably never will be while human beings are involved, but the photo finish is an integral and indispensable part of modern horse racing.

Amazing Six Way Photo Finish

Five Tips for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

We are just weeks away from the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, the biggest meeting of the season in National Hunt racing. With the entries for each race now starting to become clear, here are the best tips if you are looking to have a bet across the week. 

Le Richebourg To Win Arkle Trophy 

Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has a strong squad of horses set for the Cheltenham Festival this year but his best chance could come on the opening day of the meeting with Le Richebourg, who looks to be the one they all have to beat in the Arkle Trophy.

Le Richebourg first became an Arkle contender when he landed the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Earlier this month he built on that success to seal another Grade One race at the same track in comfortable fashion. 

Unlike the last few runnings of the novice chase contest over 2m, this year’s Arkle looks to have a more competitive look about it, with Le Richebourg topping the betting at 3/1. It could be a big meeting for Irish horses in the novice races as Battleoverdoyen has been tipped by Oddschecker to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle where he is looking to follow in the footsteps of his stablemate Samcro who won the same race in 2018.

Apple’s Jade To win Champion Hurdle

Following her success in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, trainer Gordon Elliot has revealed news that the Champion Hurdle will now be Apple’s Jade most likely target at the Festival this year which sets up a mouth-watering clash against the defending champion Buveur D’Air. Apple’s Jade has shown fantastic versatility from 2m up to 3m but it could be the lower distance which suits her best. The mare produced a fantastic turn of foot to stretch away from a strong field in the closing stages of the Irish Champion Hurdle. 

The real advantage Apple’s Jade will have in the premier hurdle contest at the Festival is that she will receive a seven-pound advantage against the opposite sex. The weight allowance for mares worked in Annie Power’s favour when she won the race in 2016 and Elliot’s runner is more than good enough to take advantage of it to stop Buveur D’Air from completing a hat-trick of wins in the feature race on day one of the meeting. 

Defi Du Seuil To Win JLT Novices’ Chase 

Defi Du Seuil was triumphant at the Festival in 2018 and he could be set for another success at the meeting this year in the JLT Novices’ Chase. Philip Hobbs’ horse has now had four starts over the bigger obstacles and on the evidence of his last outing in the Grade One Scilly Isle Novices’ Chase, he is improving with every run. 

The six-year-old beat a strong field at Sandown which included Lostintranslation and Vinndication. He tracked the leaders in the early stages of that contest and once his jockey Barry Geraghty asked his runner to quicken, he picked up with great pace. 

Defi Du Seuil has had a lot of success at Cheltenham so far in his career. Therefore, it is a racecourse he knows very well. The JLT Novices’ Chase looks like it is going to be his preferred option by his connections rather than the Arkle and from what we saw at Sandown, he is the worthy favourite. 

Josies Orders To Win Cross Country Chase

The Cross Country Chase is the most unique race of the 28 at the Cheltenham Festival and it definitely pays to back horses which have lots of experience in this type of contest. Josies Orders won this race in 2016 and looked right back to his best this season; therefore, he stands out the most. Trainer Enda Bolger has prevailed in the Cross Country Chase five times since it was added to the schedule in 2005. The Irishman will have an excellent chance of improving his record even further in March with Josies Orders who is already a winner around this course this season

Josies Orders had to settle for sixth place in the Cross Country Chase in 2018 but he made up for that disappointing showing to score in the equivalent of this race at the Punchestown Festival. At 6/1 in the betting, he offers great value if you fancy a punt in this rollercoaster of a contest. 

Native River To Win Cheltenham Gold Cup 

Native River is bidding to do what no horse has done since 2004 by retaining his crown in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year and although Colin Tizzard’s runner has yet to get into the winner’s enclosure so far this season, he can reign supreme again in the biggest race in the sport.

The 3m2f distance of the Gold Cup is a strong test of stamina, especially when you have the hill to contend with after the last fence. Native River is a horse who will relish this race far more than Haydock or Kempton where he featured earlier in the campaign in the opening two legs of the Chase Triple Crown. 

Any rain in the ground during the meeting will help Native River’s chances even further as the former Welsh Grand National winner will have no problem slugging it out if it comes to it. The defending champion has to be considered over many of the younger horses in the race as last season’s novices have yet to prove that they have the ability to win a Gold Cup so, at 5/1 in the latest Gold Cup betting, the nine-year-old is a great price to repeat his feat of 2018. 

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival begins on March 12, with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicking off the meeting.