We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Thursday, March 2, 2017.


Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has doubts that son Willy will be able to gain the required number of chase wins by April 6 to ride Blaklion (right) in the Grand National. Willy, who has spent the last five years concentrating on the Flat, has 12 career wins over jumps. His father said: “Willy still needs thee winners over fences. It might quite hard work. I have not got that many young chasers coming up and most of them have gone up the handicap. It is more difficult to find winners at this time of year.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4271910/Nigel-Twiston-Davies-doubts-son-s-Blaklion-National-ride.html

Michael O’Leary has removed Don Poli, Empire Of Dirt and Outlander from the Grand National, as he said he would, following his displeasure at the weights meted out by official BHA handicapper Phil Smith. Champagne West, Dromnea and Otago Trail have also been scratched, along with several other Gigginstown runners including Clarcam, Tiger Roll and A Toi Phil. A total of 95 entries remain with the weights now headed by Carlingford Lough.
Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/horseracing/2983756/2017-grand-national-field-cut-to-95-entries-as-don-poli-outlander-empire-of-dirt-were-among-the-horses-taken-out-at-the-latest-scratchings-deadlines/

cheltenhamBHA senior handicapper Phil Smith his back at critics after unveiling the weights for the 10 handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival, insisting “there is no semblance of any anti-Irish bias”. In statement he said the BHA’s handicapping approach with Irish horses has provided “greater equality and fairness” after years of what he felt was a “disproportionately high success rate of Irish runners in British handicaps” – most significantly at the Cheltenham Festival.
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49463/phil-smith-insists-no-anti-irish-bias-in-handicap-ratings

Alan King is in the dark over who will ride JP McManus-owned stable star Yanworth in the Champion Hurdle. The Kingwell Hurdle winner is as short as 10/3 for the 2m feature on March 14, but regular pilot Barry Geraghty is nursing six broken ribs and will miss the Cheltenham Festival. King said: “I don’t know who is going to ride him and we need to speak at the weekend, as we do need to find out. Obviously I would like them to come and have a sit on him. No one has ridden him over a hurdle bar Barry Geraghty, so whoever rides him we want to come and school him and possibly ride a bit of work.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49471/alan-king-eager-to-pencil-in-champion-hurdle-jockey-for-yanworth

Nicky HendersonWith Barry Geraghty ruled out through injury, Noel Fehily is likely to come in for the plum Champion Hurdle ride on the JP McManus-owned Buveur D’Air, who made a successful transition back to hurdles in a Listed event at Sandown. Trainer Nicky Henderson (right) said: “I suspect he will. I saw JP on Monday and I don’t think anybody has really discussed it as there are so many horses involved in the conundrum.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49471/alan-king-eager-to-pencil-in-champion-hurdle-jockey-for-yanworth

Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Day

Though unseating Mark Walsh at the last in the Irish Gold Cup, former Stayers’ Hurdle winner More Of That (right) has trainer Jonjo O’Neill growing in confidence ahead of his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup run. “We never saw a spark this season until his last run in the Irish Gold Cup,” said O’Neill. “He’d have to be at his best, of course, but the race is open and he loves the track.” More Of That is currently 16/1 (from 20/1) with Bet4Causes.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/racing/2017/03/01/jonjo-oneill-expecting-go-close-gold-cup/

A federal judge has rejected leading Irish horseracing owner JP McManus’s bid to recover the $5.22m he claimed the US government withheld as tax from a backgammon win. McManus claimed that paying a relatively small “domicile levy” in Ireland should leave him exempt from tax taken by authorities, but judge Nancy Firestone denied his request to order the IRS to hand over the money.
Source: http://calvinayre.com/2017/03/01/business/jp-mcmanus-loses-battle-to-claim-5-2m-tax-refund-from-us/

Despite falling at Kempton on Saturday, Nicky Henderson says he intends to run Charli Parcs in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, rather than the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. “I think we were always leaning towards the Triumph and that’s still the case. If he’s in good form, I think he will come here. Divin Bere could also end up going in the same race. We’ll have to see how the weights work out for the Fred Winter.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/March/01/triumph-hurdle-on-the-agenda-for-charli-parcs-after-pleasing-home-spin

Thistlecrack’s younger half-brother West Approach is likely to run in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle rather than taking on his elders in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Trainer Colin Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe said: “We purposely protected his novice status last year and however brave John and Heather Snook (owners) are, throwing a novice in the deep end is tough. I think with this one he has one chance as a novice and he has got a great chance in the Albert Bartlett.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/March/01/west-approach-likely-to-stick-to-novice-company-at-cheltenham

Willie Mullins 1

Willie Mullins (right) has won the Cheltenham Champion Bumper nine times and feels Carter McKay could be his brightest chance of landing the March 15 finale again. His is one of five Mullins entries of the 36 remaining and the trainer said: “Carter McKay could look the one on his form of the last day. He’d been doing nice work at home before Naas and his performance was better than I hoped, but you don’t go expecting performances like that. That performance would compare to anything. A horse that can win around Naas doing that is a fair machine.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49465/exciting-carter-mckay-leads-champion-bumper-squad-for-willie-mullins

An experiment to monitor the heart rates of some leading figures at the Cheltenham Festival has been organised. Commentator Richard Hoiles, ITV colleague Ed Chamberlin, trainer Ben Pauling and broadcaster Rupert Bell will be tested. Hoiles said: “I would be interested in the results as I did think I was relatively laid-back, but then someone posted a video of me commentating next to John Hunt during the Champion Stakes – I was shocked by just how animated I was getting!”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/pauling-in-the-spotlight-as-high-bridge-aims-to-be-supreme-player/276523

Brian Proctor, former jockey and work-rider for trainer Dick Hern, has died at the age of 75. Legendary jockey Willie Carson said: “He was Dick Hern’s right-hand man and I had some good times with him. He was involved with everything that happened at West Ilsley. If there was a problem Dick and Brian sorted it out. Nothing fazed him, he knew what to do with horses. He was a great man to have in the yard and a great man to deal with a difficult horse.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/news/herns-right-hand-man-spent-half-a-century-working-with-the-stars/276646

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Thursday, March 2, 2017

TAUNTON: 2.00 Ice Konig, 2.30  Saint Breiz, 3.00 Spiritofthegames, 3.35 Sir Ivan, 4.10 The Unit, 4.45 Jonagold, 5.15 Lost In Lecce

NEWCASTLE: 2.10 Free Code, 2.40 Stoneham, 3.10 Be Perfect, 3.45 Magistral, 4.20 Ms Gillard, 4.55 Bargain Buy, 5.25 Aprovado

LUDLOW: 2.20 MANSION (NAP), 2.50 Some Are Lucky, 3.25 Mixchivous (nb), 4.00 Dusky Lark, 4.35 Miss Spent, 5.05 Invisible Man, 5.35 Centurious

CHELMSFORD CITY: 5.20 Justice Rock, 5.55 National Service, 6.25 Atalante, 6.55 Clement, 7.25 Winning Story, 7.55 Kenstone, 8.25 No Not Again, 8.55 Par Three

Wednesday’s NAP was a winner!

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We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Kempton Races

Champion jockey Jim Crowley (right) may have a new retained role with Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, but insists “I don’t want anyone thinking I won’t be going for the title again”.
Former jump jockey Crowley won his first Flat title after a titanic battle with Silvestre De Sousa last year and the former champ gained his first winner with his first ride at Lingfield yesterday. Crowley said: “If I am still in with a shot when Glorious Goodwood comes round, I am definitely going to give it a go. I don’t want people to think I won’t be going for the title again. You simply can’t have that attitude.”
Source: Press Association

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle favourite Death Duty has been tabbed by trainer Gordon Elliott as his top gun for the Cheltenham Festival. Unbeaten over hurdles, he will spearhead a strong challenge on March 17, with Lexus Chase winner Outlander and Don Poli both heading to the Timico Gold Cup. Speaking at yesterday’s media day Elliott said: “We’ll have several horses travelling over with decent chances but there’s no getting away from it – Death Duty appears to be our big hope. He’s a very good horse and I’d say the best novice hurdler we’ve had.” Death Duty is currently Bet4Causes’ 11/4 favourite for the 3m event.
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/albert-bartlett-favourite-death-duty-leads-charge-for-rampant-yard/276604


Gordon Elliott (right) will send a team of “about 30 horses across” to the Cheltenham Festival in two weeks’ time. While Don Cossack’s Timico Gold Cup victory was the highlight of three winners at the Festival last season, his star has subsequently been retired through injury. Elliott admitted: “On numbers I’d say we have a lot more fancied ones this year, but we had three winners last year and it will be hard to beat that.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4269496/Gordon-Elliott-send-30-horses-Cheltenham.html

Tombstone will have to come through a satisfactory piece of work at the weekend to book his place in the  Champion Hurdle. Trained by Gordon Elliott, the recent conqueror of former 2m king Jezki needs to be supplemented for the March 14 feature. Elliott said: “If everything goes all right and he works all right at the weekend, the plan is we’ll probably run him in the Champion Hurdle. It’s a very good race, but it’s probably an open enough race. We’ve never had a runner in the Champion Hurdle, so I don’t know what it takes to win one, but why not have a go?”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4269496/Gordon-Elliott-send-30-horses-Cheltenham.html

Mutakayyef, who missed the  Winter Derby at Lingfield with a foot abscess, is still on course for the Dubai Turf. Trainer William Haggas said: “His foot is fine, it was just very unfortunate timing. He’ll be back ridden tomorrow and there’s no question of it ruling him out of Dubai. We’ll take him away for a gallop somewhere first, that will put him right.”
Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/horseracing/2976927/william-haggas-confirms-mutakayyef-still-on-dubai-mission-despite-lingfield-setback/


Colin Tizzard has ruled King George VI Chase hero Thistlecrack out until Christmas following a second scan on his torn tendon. “Thistlecrack’s second scan came back exactly the same as the first, as we expected it would,” said Tizzard. “As communicated previously, Thistlecrack will not run again this season and all being well we’d expect him to be back at Christmas.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/28/colin-tizzard-confirms-thistlecrack-expected-to-be-back-for-christmas

Camping Ground is set to miss the Cheltenham Festival in favour of the Aintree Hurdle, following his demolition job in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell. Trainer Gary Moore said: “It was nice for the horse, he did it well and has come out of it pretty good. We just need to work out where to go with him now. I think two miles is too sharp and three miles is too far, so we need to go somewhere in between and we’re better off waiting for Liverpool.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/28/gary-moore-eager-to-pitch-camping-ground-into-aintree-hurdle

The new 2kg (4.4lb) allowance for female jockeys in France starts today at Deauville. Apprentice Alison Massin has seven booked rides. In all, 13 of the 96 runners at Deauville will be ridden by women. France Galop vice president Jean-Pierre Colombu said he was surprised by the level of controversy the new measure has caused. “Debate is always a good thing and perhaps we will be proved wrong, although I don’t think so,” said Colombu. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/international/new-era-starts-at-deauville-as-2kg-allowance-for-women-kicks-in/276559

Racing will be broadcast on ITV1 on Saturday for the first time since its launch on New Year’s Day. Seven races will be broadcast from Newbury and Doncaster. “It was just an opportunity that came up enabling us to do it, so that’s good. We’ve now got 42 days on the main channel,” said Grant Cunningham, ITV’s head of publicity, factual and sport.
Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/horseracing/2975217/terrestrial-coverage-boost-for-horse-racing-as-itv-increases-itv1-racedays-to-42/

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Tuesday, February 28, 2017

MUSSELBURGH: 2.00 Major Ridge, 2.30 Dear Sire, 3.00 Improved, 3.30 Pekanheim, 4.00 Superior Command, 4.30 Darwins Fox, 5.00 Miss Barbossa

WINCANTON: 2.10 Fountains Windfall, 2.40 Driftwood Haze, 3.10 Orbasa, 3.40 Apple’s Queen, 4.10 Ruby Russet, 4.40 Chivers

FFOS LAS: 2.20 Bob Mahler, 2.50 DUELING BANJOS (NAP), 3.20 Fille Des Champs, 3.50 Alf  ’N’ Dor, 4.20 Batavir, 4.50 Well Smitten

NEWCASTLE: 5.30 Out Of Order, 6.00 Foie Gras, 6.30 Sandstream, 7.00 Spititofhayton (nb), 7.30 Art Obsession, 8.00 Fiery Spice

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We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Monday, February 27, 2017.

Ascot Races

Barry Geraghty (above) will miss the Cheltenham Festival following injuries sustained in a fall from Charli Parcs at Kempton on Saturday. Geraghty said: “I’ve a collapsed lung and six broken ribs on my right side. I’m obviously devastated to miss the Festival – there were so many good horses to look forward to as JP’s (McManus) team all look in particularly good shape this year. Last night was pretty rough. I’ve broken ribs individually before but never had six go all at the same time. I’ll be in hospital for a few more days but once the lung improves my recovery should be straightforward and I expect to be back for Aintree.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/26/barry-geraghty-to-miss-cheltenham-after-kempton-spill

Jockey George Baker woke from an induced coma in intensive care last night after suffering a first-race horror fall in the famous St Moritz snow track in Switzerland. He was riding Boomerang Bob for Jamie Osborne when they fell on a patch of ice and Baker was knocked unconscious. He was flown to a trauma hospital in Chur. Baker’s agent Guy Jewell said: “George has woken up, and with the hospital releasing that news I can only imagine they are pleased with his progress. He’d already had a CT scan and that has come back clear. They will obviously need to check that everything is working properly and his wife is on her way out there.” The rest of the meeting was abandoned.
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/26/george-baker-awake-in-hospital-after-horror-fall-in-switzerland

Gary Moore has concerns about the  Stayers Hurdle trip for runaway National Spirit Hurdle winner Camping Ground, who led is rivals a merry dance on his stable debut at Fontwell yesterday. Moore said: “We’ve treated him like a good horse. A lot of effort has gone into him, believe me, from the staff at home. I know the owner is pretty keen to go for the Stayers’ Hurdle. I think two and a half (miles) is his trip. He has got a very high cruising speed and he galloped them into the ground. I think three miles would be pushing it in my opinion.” Camping Ground was cut to 20/1 (from 50/1) by Bet4Causes for the Grade 1 feature at Cheltenham on March 16.
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49408/camping-ground-leads-national-spirit-field-a-merry-dance-at-fontwell

Ascot Races

Cue Card (right) has displaced stablemate Native River at the head of the market for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Bet4Causes going 11/4 (from 7/2), after reporting a string of bets on the Colin Tizzard-trained 11-year-old over the weekend. Native River was weak in the market, forcing Tizzard to issue a report on his wellbeing. He said: “He’s lovely and did a proper bit of work today (Saturday). I couldn’t be any more pleased with him. It’s the same with Cue Card.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/market-turning-in-favour-of-cue-card-as-he-displaces-river/276221

Giggingstown House Stud, owners of the Gordon Elliott-trained Tombstone, have decided to supplement the Gowran Park Red Mills Hurdle winner for the  Champion Hurdle. Elliott said: “It looks an open race this year so we have decided to supplement Tombstone for the Champion Hurdle. He has come out of the Red Mills race in great shape so we are happy to take our chances. Obviously he needs to improve but he hasn’t got many miles on the clock and the turnaround in form with Jezki was very encouraging.” Tombstone is currently 12/1 with Bet4Causes, with Buveur D’Air favourite at 11/4. Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/tombstone-to-be-supplemented-for-champion-hurdle/276313

Michael Scudamore Stable Visit

Trainer Michael Scudamore (right) gained two big staying prizes in two days after Mysteree took the Eider Chase at Newcastle on Saturday, following up success with Kingswell Theatre in the Devon National at Exeter on Friday. Scudamore is eying a third National and explained: “The Midlands National will be too soon for Mysteree, he is a horse who is best when fresh, but we will give him an entry in the Scottish National at Ayr in case it is soft there.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/saturday-reports/mysteree-stays-on-strongest-for-in-form-scudamore/276172

Colin Tizzard will have Thistlecrack’s tendon injury scanned tomorrow “not to make sure we got it right, but to please ourselves”. The ante-post Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite and King George VI Chase hero has been ruled out for the rest of the season. After saddling his 50th winner of the season at Fontwell yesterday, Tizzard said: “There was a little tear there but there’s no heat and no swelling. It’s not like he’s walking around with his leg in a bandage. It’s not very much.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/news/tizzard-to-scan-thistlecrack-tendon-again-to-assess-damage/276319

Chelmsford Races

Sir Michael Stoute (right) gained his first winner of the year when Convey swooped late to land the Group 3  Winter Derby at Lingfield on Saturday, booking his place for All-Weather Finals Day on Good Friday. Ante-post favourite Mutakayyef missed the 1m2f contest due to a foot abscess. Winning jockey Andrea Atzeni said: “Convey did it quite well. Obviously, it was his first time over this trip – I wasn’t sure that he would get it but Sir Michael was pretty positive and thought he would stay. It worked out perfectly from a bad draw. He was always doing enough to win his race and saw the trip out really well.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/saturday-reports/atzeni-strikes-late-on-coney-to-land-lingfield-thriller/276171

Following her win over Apple’s Jade at Punchestown, Limini could be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle, according to her owner Rich Ricci. He said: “The Champion Hurdle has to be discussed. We were successful last year with it (with Annie Power). It’s a wide open Champion Hurdle. If you fancy Buveur D’Air you probably have to really think about running. She is much bigger and stronger. It will be a last minute thing. We’ll have to see how she works and what she is working against. We’ll make that call after that work.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/ricci-champion-hurdle-option-has-to-be-discussed-for-mare-limini/276176

The BHA has rescheduled the Listed Lady Protectress Chase at Huntingdon for Sunday, following the abandonment of the card last Thursday because of high winds. There will now be an eight-race card and entries for the £30,000 event close at noon today.
Source: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/news-media/press-releases/

Aintree Races

Paul Nicholls has snapped up Katie Walsh (right) for the plum ride on Wonderful Charm for the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase. Nicholls said: “With Will [Biddick] unavailable for Wonderful Charm we were keen to secure a top amateur and Katie Walsh certainly fits the bill. We enjoyed no end of success at Cheltenham with Ruby Walsh and I am hoping his sister Katie can provide a bit more on Wonderful Charm.” Wonderful Charm is the current 4/1 second favourite to On The Fringe with BetVictor.
Source: https://betting.betfair.com/horse-racing/paul-nicholls/paul-nicholls-cheltenham-festival-news-wonderful-charm-fri-17-march-2017-240217-9.html

The planned semi-finals of the greyhounds Gold Cup, which were to be transferred from Shelbourne Park to Towcester were called off after a row over the distance of the races, with trainer Paul Hennessy allegedly refusing to run his dogs unless the trip was 500m. Organiser Dolores Ruth said: “The Gold Cup was a 480m/525 yard event and everyone was committed to run over 480 metres. We were already down to 11 runners (Burgess Popeye broke a hock in a trial) and it simply wasn’t feasible for the sponsors for only nine dogs to take part.”
Source: http://greyhoundstar.co.uk/trainers-sign-gold-cup-semis-towcester/

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Monday, February 27, 2017

PLUMPTON: 2.00 Cigarisi, 2.35 Bagging Turf (nb), 3.05 Premier Rose, 3.35 Dragoon Guard, 4.05 Coolking, 4.35 Simply Blessed

WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.20 King Oswald, 2.55 Archie Stevens, 3.25 Jashma, 3.55 Fast Track, 4.25 Ravens Quest, 4.55 Atkinson Grimshaw, 5.25 Celerity

AYR: 2.10 Well Joey, 2.45 Antiopia, 3.15 Las Tunas, 3.45 Nakadam, 4.15 Chidswell, 4.45 Ryedale Racer, 5.15 GOLDEN JEFFREY (NAP)

Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

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We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Monday, February 20, 2017.

Cue Card.jpgColin Tizzard has a stacked deck for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after Cue Card (above) came through his Ascot Chase prep on Saturday with ease. Cue Card will join stablemates Thistlecrack and Native River in the March 17 showpiece following a foot-perfect display. Tizzard said: “I thought his performance on Saturday was as perfect as you can get. On all known form he deserved to win, but that doesn’t mean they will. He travelled and jumped and came away in his own time, so we were delighted. Every day will be a nervous day for the next few weeks, hoping something doesn’t go wrong.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774267/colin-tizzard-nervous-of-cheltenham-festival-build-up

Identity Thief missed yesterday’s Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase at Navan and is likely to miss the Cheltenham Festival. Henry de Bromhead’s Grade 1-winning hurdler fluffed his lines in the Irish Arkle and it was hoped he would restore his reputation, but Michael O’Leary of owners Gigginstown House Stud explained: “He pulled out lame after pulling a shoe off himself in the box. The frustrating thing is that it probably rules out Cheltenham. We can’t get a prep race in before Cheltenham and we can’t go to the Arkle after pulling up and falling.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774182/identity-thief-likely-to-miss-cheltenham-festival

With Identity Thief missing from the line-up, the Grade 3 Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase at Navan was won by Ball D’Arc, who scored by 19 lengths after 4/5 favourite Ballyoisin fell three out. Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said: “We might look at the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse for him. Over two miles he definitely needs that ground, but I’d say he might be all right on a bit better ground over two and a half.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49247/ball-darc-bounds-to-flyingbolt-success-at-navan

Gigginstown House Stud owner Michael O’Leary has again hit out at handicapper Phil Smith for framing the Grand National weights higher than his horses’ Irish handicap marks, while outlining his team for Cheltenham. He said: “Don Poli has run three times in Grade 1s (this season) and been beaten in all of them, and yet Phil Smith has him up at 165, 5lb less than Thistlecrack. I think if he runs against Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup he’ll be beaten two furlongs.” Of his Cheltenham team the Ryanair owner added: “If they all arrive fit and well it’s likely we’ll run Outlander and Don Poli in the Gold Cup and probably Sub Lieutenant and Empire Of Dirt in the Ryanair Chase. I think the Ryanair is the logical race for Empire Of Dirt to go in. I would love to win it, I’ve spent 10 years trying to without any great success.” Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774616/michael-oleary-plans-to-run-don-poli-and-outlander-in-the-cheltenham-gold-cup

The Sandra Hughes-trained Acapella Bourgeois may have booked his ticket for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham with an impressive all-the-way win in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan yesterday. “He’s in the RSA Chase and you’d have to say after today we would be travelling, but we’ll see what the ground is like. If it came up very good, which you never know at Cheltenham, he might give it a miss. At the moment if it was nice, soft ground we’d have to take our chance.” Acapella Bourgeois is still available at 16/1 with MyClubBetting.
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/report/762365/bourgeois-allowed-an-easy-time

Vieux Lion Rouge is the new 14/1 favourite for the Randox Health Grand National with MyClubBetting after getting the better of Blaklion in the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Trainer David Pipe said: “He’s changed a lot, as he never used to find much at the end of his races. He’s going back to Aintree with experience over the fences and he proved today he doesn’t need soft ground. We can look forward to April now.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/report/760495/vieux-victory-in-national-trial

SIS agrees to acquire Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia from William Hill. Picture and data from the tracks will be added to SIS’ existing portfolio of rights from MonmoreCrayfordHove, and Romford. Hills’ retail MD Nicola Frampton says: “Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia are among the best run in the industry and we would like to thank the teams at both tracks for all their hard work and success during William Hill’s period of ownership.” The tracks will be acquired by SIS subject to final agreement and the appropriate regulatory authority approvals.

Cheltenham Racecourse will unveil a statue of Sir AP McCoy on March 14, the opening day of the Festival meeting. The life-size bronze has been crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferriter. The 20-times jumps champion said: “His dedication to getting it right was really outstanding, from measuring me to videoing me and when I was standing for him. I thought most people got a statue when they were dead! I guess it will give the birds somewhere to sit.”
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-39009453 http://www.itv.com/news/utv/2017-02-17/mccoy-statue-to-be-unveiled-at-cheltenham/

The winner of the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival will be in line for a £500,000 bonus in Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, May 13. The Challenge, an effort to re-establish the historical transatlantic racing rivalry, will be sponsored by private equity firm TVV Capital of Nashville, Tennessee. TVV Capital founder Andrew Byrd said: “That historical connection is strong, as is our longstanding relationship with the Iroquois. We wish to thank Mike Hankin and Brown Advisory, who first introduced us to the Cheltenham Festival and without whom the Challenge would have been impossible.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774391/tvv-capital-to-sponsor-year-two-of-iroquois-cheltenham-challenge

Prolific juvenile Cliffs Of Dover has been ruled out of the Triumph Hurdle and for the rest of the season after “knocking his leg in a schooling session” according to trainer Paul Nicholls. He told his blog: “Cliffs Of Dover will have a nice long break now before he comes back into training in the autumn and we will aim to have him right for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/19/blow-for-paul-nicholls-with-cliffs-of-dover-out-for-rest-of-the-season

Major sporting events such as the Grand National, Wimbledon, Olympics, FA Cup and World Cup will continue to be shown on free TV channels under government plans to safeguard the UK’s sporting heritage. Ministers will be given the ability to “future-proof” free-to-air broadcast for certain “at risk” events through a planned amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. “Sport loses much of its ability to deliver positive outcomes for the public when people do not have the ability to watch or experience it,” noted the bill’s author.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/19/government-moves-future-proof-british-sports-free-to-air-crown/

Dual American Classic winner and 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic has died, aged 21. Trained by D Wayne Lucas, he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but suffered multiple fractures in his left front leg just a few strides before the wire in the Belmont. The 21-year-old stallion had only returned to the US from Japan where he had been at stud since 2002, in December. The cause of death is unknown.
Source: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/219944/horse-of-the-year-charismatic-dies

The Irish Derby will remain at the Curragh during construction work with a much-reduced capacity of 6.000. “The shortage of sprint tracks, and that the Curragh can cater for up to 30 runners over distances up to a mile, meant that relocating the major Curragh races elsewhere would not be feasible,” explained HRI chief Brian Kavanagh.
Source: http://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/derby-stays-at-curragh-during-facelift-35464364.html

Flintham, who was short-headed by Bigbadjohn in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday, will be targeted in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival unless ground is too lively. Sara Bradstock, who trains the eight-year-old with husband Mark, said: “He was really just mugged on the line. The National Hunt Chase would be very much under consideration but the ground would have to be on the soft side of good. We jarred him up running him in the Pertemps Hurdle last year which is why he was off for the rest of the year.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4240272/Coneygree-absent-Cheltenham-Festival.html

The Irish Department of Agriculture has been called upon to suspend the sale of Harolds Cross Greyhound Stadium in Dublin until a review has been held into the finances of the IGB. Tipperary TD Alan Kelly was highly critical of the board’s accounts procedure and decisions being made on the basis of financial reports dating back to 2014.
Source: http://greyhoundstar.co.uk/igb-suspend-harolds-x-sale-says-td/

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CARLISLE: 2.00 Front At The Last, 2.30 Strait Of Magellan, 3.00 Take The Cash, 3.35 Thyne For Gold, 4.10 Beg To Differ, 4.45 Midnight Request, 5.15 Flemenskill

LINGFIELD PARK: 1.50 Take To Heart, 2.20 Lac Scare, 2.50 Capilla, 3.25 Hitherjacques Lady (nb), 4.00 Finish The Story, 4.35 Groundunderrepair, 5.05 Big Fella Thanks

WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.10 Sweeping Rock, 2.40 War At Sea, 3.10 Leonard Thomas, 3.45 Judicial, 4.20 Head Space, 4.55 Indian Affair, 5.25 RUTHERFORD (NAP), 5.55 Hochfeld

Today’s Lucky 15 Selections: Rutherford (Wolverhampton 5.25), Hitherjaques Lady (Lingfield Park 3.25), Thyne For Gold (Carlisle 3.35), Lac Sacre (Lingfield Park 2.20)

NAP and Next Best won on Friday.

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Emma Lavelle: We need another Festival!

Top trainer Emma Lavelle is Jumps Racing Ambassador for Bet4Causes and columnist for the Racing Plus newspaper. In her brand new column, she outlines her Cheltenham Festival hopes and takes a look at Tuesday’s opening day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

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FAIR play to the Cheltenham executive and those who promote inarguably one of the best racing Festivals in the world.

It has become enormous. In fact, it is a complete juggernaut. Nothing sets the pulse racing and the nerves jangling like having a runner in with a chance. Just being there is fantastic and if you are a racing fan who has never been before, put it on your bucket-list – it really is a must.

Most of us love these four days, so don’t get me wrong when I say that it is sometimes annoying that it is seen by many as the be-all and end-all.

It should not be considered the end game. If you have a winner in October, all that anyone ever starts talking about is whether or not the horse is going to be able to get to Cheltenham.

You sometimes feel that there should be something as big – a proper Winter Festival – whether it is at Kempton or Sandown, with a big pool of money that gives us something to talk about earlier in the year – something that could become as big as Cheltenham. Such a meeting would certainly keep the Festival’s executive on its toes!

Cheltenham is a big, galloping, left-handed track, so different conditions, going the other way round, would be preferable.

The most obvious solution would be to lift the quality of Kempton’s King George card and make it a bigger draw, with more money on offer. Winter ground is obviously a factor to consider, so the venue would need to have enough virgin ground to utilise, which is probably less of an issue for Sandown – it’s definitely food for thought.

Either way, we need a meeting that gives us something else to aim for, outside of Cheltenham, to take the juggernaut off the radar in October.

Still, we’d love to have a winner there this week and Javert (Cheltenham 5.30) is our big hope. We schooled him last week and he’s absolutely flying. The ground looks ideal for him and we are hoping for a big run in the concluding Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Fox Appeal (2.50) is our other runner today and while he has plenty of ability, he can make the odd error. A mistake-free round would be ideal in the ultra-competitive Ultima Handicap Chase and, in fairness, he really does deserve to win a big handicap at some stage – It would be quite some party if we got the double up!

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Fox Appeal: Plenty of ability

The Champion Hurdle is always tough to win but this year’s looks an average renewal. I would love to see The New One (Cheltenham 3.30) getting his head in front, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’s horses could not be in better form.

Like others, I have been extremely impressed with Douvan (2.10) who can land the Arkle for the Willie Mullins team, who look sure to have a great week.

There has also been a bit of a whisper for the Nicky Henderson-trained Altior (1.30).  It would be nice to think we might have a chance of keeping the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on this side of the Irish Sea for a change!

And my banker in the Lavelle Lucky 15 is Vroum Vroum Mag (4.10) in the Mares’ Hurdle.

Finally, it was great to have a winner at Sandown on Saturday. Mosspark has taken the race well and loves going right-handed, so ultimately the Bet365 Gold Cup Chase, back at Sandown, is likely to be the aim now.

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Decision pending: Shotgun Paddy

National service

SHOTGUN PADDY, who was second in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last month, has come out of the race incredibly well.

But do we head to Aintree with him?

Much like Cheltenham, I don’t want to go anywhere to make up the numbers – I want horses to run with a chance of winning.

The ground would have to be on the soft side if we did go for the Crabbie’s Grand National.

And the thought of him running with just 10st 3lb on his back is extraordinary, because he has never had the chance to run with that weight, even up the gallops! I confess, it is a tempting thought.

He is a nine-year-old though, and I’m just not 100% sure whether or not it would be a year too soon for him.

It may be that we go to Uttoxeter for Saturday’s Midlands National instead. We will make a decision by the middle of the week, but at this stage will just keep our options open.

In other Aintree news, I am trying to find a race for Gullinbursti. He missed a season with a tendon injury, but he is in great order again.

I want to run him in the Topham and I will be trying to look to win something with him, just so that he could guarantee getting in as I think it could be the perfect race for him.

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Cheltenham Festival 2016 – Day One: Tuesday’s top tips

It is the greatest racing Festival around and each day Bet4Causes will provide you with some fabulous special offers for Cheltenham over the next four days.

For instance, today’s offers include:

Faller at the Last Cash Back

Beaten by less than a length Cash Back

Pay-out on FIVE places in the Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50)

There are many more, so take a look at the comprehensive Cheltenham Specials markets and check out the value.

Not only does Bet4Causes come complete with an extensive suite of horseracing marketswe try to provide a few winners as well!

Each day we will be providing you with a preview of the day’s racing, offering what our experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

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Willie Mullins saddles three runners as he bids to win the Grade 1 event for the fourth successive year and the trio is headed by Min, who has won both his starts this season in convincing fashion on soft and heavy ground at Punchestown. The drying ground is sure to help, but while he boasts star quality and is very fluent over his hurdles, the main concern is that he has been keen in his races and has not been battle-tested like some of his rivals.

Buveur D’Air, who was a decent sort in bumpers last term and the form of his seasonal debut at Newbury in November has worked out well, with the second, third, fourth and fifth all subsequently winning decent novice events.

Supasundae will need to show improvement in his jumping after being quite tardy early on when wining a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. If he has improved that aspect, Henry De Bromhead’s runner may well prove the value, as he ran a stormer in last season’s Champion Bumper, leading until the final furlong.

He beat Silver Concorde by 13 lengths in that contest, but it was in heavy ground and Dermot Weld’s strong traveller may well turn the tables should the ground dry out further. Neither have been seen out since, but both should benefit from the break.

We side, however, with ALTIOR. Like Buveur D’Air, he is trained by Nicky Henderson and while he finished behind both Bellshill and Carbel in last season’s Champion Bumper, the selection has won four times over hurdles, including a Grade 2 here. He pulled hard that day, but was much less fizzy when winning well at Kempton, showing a remarkable turn of foot. That race has also worked out very well.




DOUVAN looks the obvious choice. Last year’s Supreme Novices’ winner is unbeaten in his seven starts for Willie Mullins, including when strolling to two Grade 1 novice chases at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and a month later, winning by 15 and 18-lengths respectively, easily accounting for Sizing John in the latter. His jumping looks assured and his rivals, do not look able to cut the mustard in comparison.

Vaniteux, who was last in the 2015 Champion Hurdle, looked impressive on his chasing debut at Kempton, but has a tendency to make the odd costly jumping error, while The Game Changer, who has won six of his eight chase starts, come into this after a break of five months, following a wind operation.

Minor honours are perhaps the best he can hope for, along with Baltimore Rock, the former Imperial Cup winner, who is not without hope if replicating his Doncaster novice handicap chasing debut in late December.



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Fox Appeal: Place claims in the Ultima



Novices have a decent record in this 3m1f event, and impressive Sandown scorer Beg To Differ and Out Sam, who showed plenty of class when scoring at Newbury last time, both look potentially well handicapped. The latter was particularly fluent and travelled well in soft ground. He looked capable of running the in the RSA Chase, but his trainer, who feels he will be better on quicker ground, has opted for the softer Grade 3.

Fox Appeal ran better than his form suggested at Kempton two weeks ago, and while hard as nails, he does have the tendency to put in the odd error. He is capable on his day and is a bigger price than he should be.

The Kempton winner, Theatre Guide, dead-heated with Fox Appeal in a Graduation chase 18 months ago at Kempton off level weights and has since finished second in the Hennessy Gold Cup. Fox Appeal was giving Theatre Guide 11lb, so the handicapper is clearly taking no chances with the former.

Holywell, who win this in 2014 before finishing fourth in last year’s Gold Cup, has not been in nearly such sparkling form this term, while the handicapper may just have the measure of Carole’s Destrier after winning three of his last five. His trainer, Neil Mulholland, won this last year, the progressive 8yo will not mind dropping back in trip. There is plenty to recommend him.

However, the verdict goes to KRUZHLININ, a solid jumper who scored decisively on his stable debut at Kempton in soft ground, his first start following an 11-month break. Though up 10lb for that, he may get his own way in front and may take some stopping.



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This lacks the star power of Faugheen and looks a below-standard renewal of the two-mile championship. Annie Power is arguably the best horse in the race and is head and shoulders above her sex, but two years after first being touted for this race, connections have finally decided the time is now.

She gets a 7lb allowance and that may help offset the fact that she may not have the pace to mix it over 2m, having run over 3m of the World Hurdle in 2014. She infamously fell at the last in the Mares’ Hurdle when clear last year.

Stablemate Nichols Canyon, aiming to give the Willie Mullins team its fourth Champion Hurdle win in six years, was third in the Neptune Investment last year. He downed the progressive Fighting Fifth hero Identity Thief in Ryanair over Christmas, before running below-par in the Irish Champion Hurdle when thrashed 28-lengths by Faugheen. He had excuses that day and may make a bold bid from the front.

My Tent Or Yours has been absent since April 2014 and it will be a remarkable raining feat should Nicky Henderson’s runner replicate anything like his narrow Champion Hurdle defeat by Jezki on his penultimate start.

Ex-French Camping Ground beat Lil Rockerfeller over 2m4f in tremendous style here before failing to see out 3m in January. The drying ground and the fact that he drops back in trip are both reasons for passing him over on this occasion, although he holds place claims.

THE NEW ONE (NAP) has been a little unlucky. He was hampered when third in this race in 2014, was reportedly suffering from a back problem after his fifth last year, and had a corn when beaten seven lengths by Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

However, on his day, he is among the best in the division. Given Nigel Twiston-Davies’s good form, The New One may be able to finally win the big one.



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Willie Mullins: Has owned the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle


Polly Peachum is set to end her career after this race, in which she was second in last year following an interrupted preparation. She handled heavy ground well at Sandown in early January, beating The Govaness by a head on only her second start in nine months.

The latter-named, along with Rons Dream, Desert Queen and Aurore D’Estruval, were all behind VROUM VROUM MAG (NB) at Ascot in January, and she will aim to give the Willie Mullins stable its eighth win in the race since the inaugural running in 2008.

The selection is a very short price for what she has achieved – she has won six over fences before landing the odds with ease on her two recent hurdling efforts – but sets a fine standard. Gary Moore has always thought plenty of Flute Bowl, and she is capable on her day.

Bitofapuzzle was second in this last year as a novice and reverts to hurdles after being pulled up over fences last time. Confidence may be low, but she appears to relish this track and is a fair each-way price if the fire is rekindled.




The last five winners of this Listed marathon chase had single-figure starting prices. If that trend hold firm, those to concentrate upon are Minella Rocco, Native River, Noble Endeavour, Pont Alexandre and Southfield Royale.

Noble Endeavour was beaten five lengths by Measureofmydreams in a Grade 2 at Navan last month, with Pleasant Company third, but over a much longer trip, the former should turn the tables.

Minella Rocco hails from the Jonjo O’Neill yard that won this four times between 2002 and 2007, and was beaten narrowly by Vyta Du Roc in a Grade 2 over 3m at Ascot, which means he sets the standard.

Native River won a Newbury Grade 2 in November but did not look to be putting it all in at Wetherby last time and cheekpieces might have a galvanising effect.

PONT ALEXANDRE was well backed for the Neptune in 2013 when third to The New One, but suffered a leg and was not seen again until producing a stunning display to win on his chasing debut at Punchestown in early December. The slight negative in his two subsequent runs in heavy ground was his keenness. He did not quite see out 3m at Naas although was far from disgraced at Leopardstown over 2m5½f in Grade 1 company last month. If he handles the preliminaries, he may well be the one to beat.

Southfield Royale is ultra-consistent, winning five of his 10 starts and finishing second in four. Neil Mulholland wasted no time in booking Nina Carberry for the plum ride and his good second in a Grade 1 at Kempton over Christmas means he has leading claims.



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A tight-knit handicap where 20 runners are within just 4lb of each other. ALOOMOMO has looked a blot on the handicap over fences, having won easily in three handicaps this winter. He sluiced in at Newbury in November and while he has gone up 11lb, there looked to be plenty more to come from the Warren Greatrex inmate.

A big, strong, laid-back individual and a good traveller, Javert has risen 9lb following a decisive win at Doncaster, when accounting for Fairy Rath by 12 lengths. That form is solid as the runner-up has scored since and his stable had a winner at Sandown on Saturday.

Killala Quay beat Twelve Roses in the Grade 2 Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas and the latter may reverse the form on this better ground. The former’s optimum trip may be 3m in time, but both hold place claims at decent prices.

Willow’s Saviour, rated 138 over hurdles, opened his account over fences at Warwick on his debut after 23 months on the sidelines and was fourth in a Grade 1 at Sandown before scoring in a two-runner affair at Fakenham. He can jump spectacularly and is in the masterful hands of Dan Skelton, a future champion trainer.

In his third start over fences, Double Shuffle won at Ludlow on his handicap chasing debut under top weight in December, having previously run twice with credit here in decent novice chases. Further improvement can be expected, even though he lacks the experience of some.




SEDGEFIELD: 1.15 Superfection, 1.45 Fiddler’s Flight, 2.25 Lawless Island, 3.05 Away For Slates, 3.45 Generous Pet, 4.25 Pamak D’airy, 5.00 Tara Time

SOUTHWELL: 1.55 Phantom Flipper, 2.35 Tasaaboq, 3.15 Imjin River, 3.55 Sir Billy Wright, 4.35 Response, 5.10 Edgar, 5.40 Henry Smith

WOLVERHAMPTON: 6.05 City Of Angkor Wat, 6.40 Kodiac Lady, 7.10 Jammy Guest, 7.40 Dor’s Law, 8.10 Medieval Bishop, 8.40 Cool Crescendo, 9.10 Ashford Island

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We’ve throw away the wrapping paper, eaten the left-over turkey and taken the Pepto Bismol. We’ve over-indulged on winning bets through 2015 and now we are looking ahead. Another New Year, another ante-post wager to beat the January blues. So here follows My Club Betting’s idea of a few winners for 2016…


2015 was quite a year for Jordan Spieth. The talented young American was named PGA Player of the Year after gaining two major championship victories, claiming the number one world ranking and winning the illustrious FedEx Cup.

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Big year ahead: Jordan Spieth

There is no doubting that Spieth’s 2015 season will go down in history as one of the best of all time, but we don’t see the 22-year-old resting on his laurels anytime soon.

Speith has the complete golf game, and has very few weaknesses. He does have one major strength though – his putting. The talented Texan has some of the most impressive putting stats in the history of the game, and rarely looks like missing a putt from inside ten feet.

Oakmont and Baltusrol host the 2016 US Open and PGA Championship respectively. Both Golf Courses are perfectly set-up for Spieth and even at this early stage, we would fancy him to win at both.

Some would argue that Augusta is also tailor made for the young American, but we see the trend of first time major champions being crowned at Augusta continuing in 2016. [CC]



Stephen Curry is a man on a mission. Last season’s MVP has continued where he left off and recently guided the Golden State Warriors to record start to an NBA season, which involved them winning all of their first 16 games.

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LeBron James: Man on a mission

That said, Golden State look lost when Curry isn’t on the court and any injury to the exceptional point guard would massively hinder their chances of winning back to back championships.

It looks as though Curry will win Regular Season MVP and that won’t please the pre-season favourite LeBron James. The Cleveland forward has had a solid season so far, guiding his side to the top of the Eastern Conference.

LeBron is a man who loves accolades, and we see him doing his utmost to ensure that his Cleveland side go all the way to the finals, where a potential clash with Curry and Golden State may be on the cards.

We fancy King James to reign supreme and are sticking with our pre-season tip for the Cavaliers to win the NBA Championship. [CC]



You can look at Donald Trump two ways: Is he a bad person because he is a dull, fascist bully? Or is he a dull fascist bully because he is a bad person?

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Hillary Clinton: Just the ticket

Either way, America seems to have fallen in love with him. To be fair, he is only saying what a lot of people are too ‘politically correct’ to think. He has been taking a leaf out of Nigel Farage’s book, if you will.

And how did that work out in the end?

The right-minded part of the Western world hopes that, when it comes time to vote, the American electorate will come round to some sort of rational thinking.

And that can only mean one thing: The Republican Party will have a less bombastic Presidential candidate – and that Marco Rubio will justify odds of 2.88 to win the Republican nomination.

It probably won’t matter a jot, as we feel the Democrats are a certainty to remain in power.

Hilary Clinton is therefore likely to become America’s first female President and she is a backable price at 1.73 and is the more certain of the two selections. [SM]




You will have to wait until Feb 28 to cash in this bet, but betting on the Best picture at the Academy Awards is usually worth a small ante-post wager.

Top movie: Spotlight

The Martian was one of our favourite films of 2015 but will it be voted the Best Picture? The American science fiction movie, directed by Ridley Scott, is the story of an astronaut who is mistakenly presumed dead and left behind on Mars. It depicts his struggles to survive and others’ efforts to rescue him. Matt Damon is 66-1 to win the Best Actor role and that tells you all you need to know.

Hollywood, being what it is, will probably see a betting move for Carol, which is a British-American romantic drama directed by Todd Haynes. The film is the story of a young aspiring photographer and her relationship with an older woman in 1952 New York., and Cate Blanchett is brilliant in the lead role. It is well worth a look. Carol is third-best in the betting at around 11.00.

The two to concentrate on are Spotlight and The Revenant, respectively 1.91 and 5.00 in the betting.

The Revenant is cinematically stunning – the story of uncharted American Wilderness and stars Leonardo DiCaprio – but it not on general release until January 2016. It was a true test of his acting ability and he deserves to be considered as Best Actor.

However, its release date means that Spotlight has the inside track on the Academy’s voters. Directed by Tom McCarthy, it is about the Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team, an investigative newspaper investigative unit, who methodically uncover a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in Massachusetts and the ongoing cover-up. It is hard-hitting, gripping and clever. We think Spotlight merits support at odds of 1.91. [SM]



Sir Peter O’Sullevan once told this correspondent that the key to longevity was “having an ante-post bet, because it gives you something to look forward to”.

Sage advice.

There was nothing he liked better than calling the horses on the biggest jumps stage of all – the Cheltenham Festival.

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Each-way value: Sire De Grugy

And we look to the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March to provide our ante-post wager.

Sire De Grugy won the two-mile chase in 2014 but finish 10-lengths fourth last year, not having had the ideal preparation. Yet he looks tremendous each-way value at around 12-1, having scored in style on his second run of the season in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in early December. He may not be the horse he was in 2013/14 but he is still capable of producing top-class form.

The obvious winner is youngster Un De Sceaux, who won the Arkle at Cheltenham last March and who followed up in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novices’ Chase at Punchestown in April.

However, he is too short for an ante-post plunge at 11-8 and we feel that, at his best, Moore’s charge can make the frame come March 16. [SM]



Stoke City are currently in 11th place, two points behind eighth-placed West Ham, with Liverpool and Everton in between.

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Top-half finish: Stoke City and Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes has put his stamp on the club, who play some of the most attractive football in the division.

And after suffering a sticky start with no win their first six, they have steadily climbed the table and have recently beat the likes of Manchester City, Southampton, Chelsea and Man Utd.

Their biggest concern is lack of goals, but they may well address this in the January transfer window and although they face a few tricky fixtures, including facing Manchester United twice in the space of six weeks, we fancy them to finish in the top half of the table at a massive 2-1. We have them nearer an evens chance. [SM]


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