Top Australian Turf Sprints

There's no doubt that turf sprints are where the action is today in Australia's Thoroughbred racing scene. If you're new to the track or maybe have been more a staying race enthusiast, here is a bit of background about sprint races, along with some tips to help you increase your winnings when you see your bookmaker for free bets.

Australian Group One Sprint Races

Australian Thoroughbred sprint races are divided into groups. Group 1 races feature the top horses and best jockeys and make for exciting, high-stakes sport. These races, with their large purses, are a chance to make big money with free bets in Australia.

If there's any doubt that these Group 1 sprints are growing in popularity, just look at the increase in Group 1 races over the last few years. Recent upgrades of Group 2 sprints to Group 1 sprints (the Memsie Stakes, the Canterbury Stakes, etc.), show an increasing trend towards sprint prevalence.

Top Group One Sprint Races in Australia

While there a number of thrilling Group 1 sprint races, and as mentioned above, that number is on the rise, there are a few that stand out as top events for which to see your bookmaker for free bets.

Black Caviar Lightning

If you've ever seen Black Caviar in motion, you'll know why this race was named for this now-retired beauty. Undefeated in 25 races, Black Caviar was named the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings (currently the World's Best Racehorse) World Champion Sprinter four years in a row.

Black Caviar won the 1,000-metres Lightning Stakes three years in a row, no small feat given the field of top Thoroughbreds it attracts for its A$500,000 purse. The Black Caviar Lightning, run at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, kicks off a three-leg fall series of races, including the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap.

Newmarket Handicap

The Newmarket Handicap is a 1,200-metre race also run at Flemington and is considered Australia's most important Thoroughbred sprint handicap. Taking place in March to wind up the Autumn Racing Carnival, the Newmarket Handicap has been attracting huge crowds since its inception in 1874. It's prize is a cool million dollars. Four horses have won the Newmarket twice, and the race record is held by none other than Black Caviar.

Darley Classic

The Darley Classic is another 1,200-metre race run at Flemington and is a weight-for-age sprint for horses age three or older. Bringing in a purse of A$1,000,000, the Darley Classic is the final event of the Victoria Racing Club Spring Carnival. Three horses have won the race twice, including Black Caviar.

TJ Smith Stakes

The TJ Smith Stakes is another weight-for-age sprint in the 1,200-metre distance, held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. Originally named the Endeavour Stakes, it was renamed in 1999 for Thomas John Smith, who won 33 titles in Sydney during his career. Only one horse has ever won the race twice, and that was--you guessed it--Black Caviar. It's considered by many to be Australia's premier Group 1 sprint with a A$2.5 million purse.

Your Friend, the Form Guide

If you're new to sprint racing or haven't been a punter before, how do you know where to put your money down? When you're placing free bets in Australia, the first place to look for information is your form guide. A form guide is essential if betting off the track or if you don't plan on going to the parade ring prior to a race.

Some things to look at in your form guide:

  • What is the horse's history of finishes at different distances?
  • What were the track conditions for those races?
  • Has the horse had the same jockey and/or trainer consistently?
  • What have the horse's recent workouts been like?
  • Has the horse had any recent changes in equipment?
  • Has the horse had a recent spell and why?

A spell isn't always a bad thing; in fact some mares and fillies come back better after a spell. A horse that failed to maintain the lead in a staying race may perform wonderfully in a sprint. A horse that has a long and successful history with the same jockey or trainer is likely to continue on that path.

Other Betting Tips

Even with all the data you can glean from your form guide, there's nothing like checking out a horse in the mounting enclosure prior to a race to really see what it's like on race day. Does the horse seem nervous and agitated or just appropriately "on the muscle" (ready to go)? Is it saddling and accepting the jockey easily? Are there bandage marks on the horses legs? These may have been just a protective wrapping measure, but they could also indicate tendon problems.

When placing your bets, start off small, and learn by trial and error. While it's easy to bet the "chalk" horse (the favourite or the one with the most money down), the bigger payoffs come with higher odds.

Another great source of information is social media. There is a world of knowledgeable Tweeters and Facebook posters out there with invaluable information if you can tap into it. It takes a while to build a network, but it can be worth it to put together the whole picture of a horse.

Picking winners takes time and practice, and if it were easy, everyone would be a millionaire. The great thing about betting on sprint races is that even if it takes you and your picks a while to hit your strides, you'll have a blast doing it.

Can Clouds overcome the Many doubts?

Oliver Sherwood has already won one big National Hunt handicap chase this season. Now he goes in search of another after confirming Many Clouds is an intended runner in the Grand National.
Sherwood prepared Many Clouds to deliver an impressive performance to win the Hennessy at Newbury back in November and his run immediately stamped him out as a future National contender.
However, Sherwood initially opted to send the eight-year-old down the Gold Cup route and that appeared to be a justifiable target after another solid win in the BetBright Cup Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day in January.
When it came to the Gold Cup, though, Many Clouds was a shade disappointing when sixth behind Coneygree after being sent off at 7/1. He was never truly able to get close to Coneygree and Sherwood acknowledged the horse was out of his comfort zone.
He has now decided to go for the National, after previously putting the race down as a back-up in case something went wrong in the Gold Cup. The uncertainty over whether Many Clouds would run at Aintree has seen his price fluctuate quite wildly in the Grand National betting as he has gone from a 20/1 shot, out to 40/1, and now back in to a general 25/1 price. But, if he is to justify connections’ decision to go for the race, then he will have to buck a few trends.
Many Clouds is currently second top weight on 11st 9lbs, and that could rise by 1lb if Lord Windermere doesn’t line up. The last horse to carry that burden was Red Rum when winning his second National in 1974 with a weight of 12st.
That was also the last time a jockey won back-to-back renewals of the National. Leighton Aspell has ridden Many Clouds in all 19 starts, and won the National 12 months ago on Pineau De Re. The last time a jockey won the National in successive years on different horses, though, was in the 1950s when Bryan Marshall won on Early Mist and then Royal Tan.
Many Clouds’ record at the Grand National meeting is also a concern as he has run at Aintree the last three years. He was 11th behind The New One in the 2012 Bumper, pulled up in the Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle in 2013 and then fourth to Holywell in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase last year. All of those runs were on good ground, and Many Clouds is a better horse with soft in the going description.
Yet, for all the negatives, there is still a persuasive case for Many Clouds giving owner Trevor Hemmings a third National win. He is a sound jumper, has a touch of class and stays well. And, in some ways, he could be reasonably weighted. It all depends on how much stock you put in the statistics and history.

Top 5 Australian Trainers

If you love to watch and bet on horse racing in Australia, then you need to know a little bit about top Australian trainers. When making free bets in Australia, it pays to pick the horses trained by the likes of Gai Waterhouse and Chris Waller. You’ll do better with free bets online if you watch what trainers the horses work with. Read on to learn a little about five of the top Australian trainers today.

David Hayes

It’s no surprise that David Hayes is a top Australian trainer with a father like Colin Hayes and brother Peter Hayes, both superb trainers he worked with and learned from since childhood. He ran the Lindsay Park operation in the 90s and opened the family business in Hong Kong to train for nine seasons for hundreds of winners. He’s an Australian trainer with 20 years of solid experience in his training career, having trained more than 2,800 winners. He’s won most of Australia’s major races, including the Melbourne Cup in 94, the Caulfield Cup in 93, Cox Plate in 90 and 06, and the Golden Slipper in 06. If you're placing free bets in Australia, it's good to know that he’s the only Australian trainer to with the Japan Cup in 90, and he’s the youngest trainer to be inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 08.

Gai Waterhouse

Gai Waterhouse is the daughter of T.J. (Tommy) Smith although her early career as an actor in the U.K. kept her briefly away from horses. But working hard with her father for 15 years to gain her training license in the 90s was the solid foundation she needed to become a top trainer. It didn’t hurt that she took over Tulloch Lodge in 1994 when her father retired. She went on to train many winners in the Victoria Derby and Melbourne Cup, as well as the Sydney Premiership. Her skills as a trainer are matched by her fashion sense and personality, making her a high profile trainer.

Peter Snowdon

Peter Snowdon started as a rider and gained experience through steady promotion under Vic Thomson and John Hawkes. He represented Hawkes’ stable for 10 years then went on to be head trainer for Ingham Blookstock. From there, he worked as head trainer for Darley Racing until 2014. During his time with Darley, he won many races, including the Golden Slipper in 2010. He left to join his son Paul in a training partnership at Royal Randwick’s 70 stables. Working with his son, Snowdon is expected to be very successful and continue adding to the long list of wins to his credit, including wins in recent years at Thousand Guineas, The Darley Crown, Tea Rose Stakes, Takeover Target Stakes, Pago Pago Stakes, and Keith Nolan Classic.

Chris Waller

Chris Waller worked with famous Singapore trainer Paddy Busuttin. He started with five horses and went on from there to success in Australian racing with more than 40 Group 1 winners and many Sydney premierships. His consistent winning record over six consecutive seasons makes him a top trainer with multiple wins at Doncaster Handicaps, Epsoms, Metropolitans and Australian Oaks. His long list of wins includes even more prestigious races including the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, and Melbourne Cup. He is neck and neck with other top trainers including Gai Waterhouse and Peter Snowdon.

Gerald Ryan

Gerald Ryan was a successful jockey before becoming a trainer in the 90s in Melbourne. He quickly reached the top rank of Melbourne trainers before moving to Malaysia. His return to Australia in 1998 was very successful, enabling him to open a new stable at Rosehill. As an experienced horseman because of his jockey days, he knows what to look for in young horses to train, and says it’s athleticism, confirmation, attitude, action, and pedigree. Top horses he’s trained include Snitzerland, Hot Snitzel, Dances on Stars (NZ), Adnocon, and Calvary Rose. His horses are the ones to play for free bets online.

How Many Times Did Red Rum Win the Grand National?

On the 11th April 2015 (4:15 Aintree) horse racing fans across the world will be searching for the winner of this most famous National Hunt steeplechases - The Grand National. Run over 4 miles 3 1/2 furlongs, 30 jumps have to be cleared over two circuits in the ultimate test of horse and jockey. Take a look at the the runners and odds for the Grand National 2015.   

The Grand National is steeped in racing history. 

The remarkable stories of triumph over adversity have captured the heart of millions. Who could forget Bob Champion and Aldaniti and their touching story when winning in 1981. Champion, a jockey battling cancer, Aldaniti, a horse who was deprived in its younger years and suffered terribly from chronic leg problems. Their victory captured so beautifully the feeling of hope, later made into a film starring John Hurt - Champions.

This great race brings equal measure of triumph & tears. Foinavon proved a surprise winner in 1967. Just about the whole field had been hampered or dismounted at the 23rd fence (in 1984 this fence was named in the memory of Foinavon) but this lucky horse, detached by at least half a furlong found space to jump and won a most unlikely victory at odds of 100/1.

Commentator Michael O'Hehir described the chaotic scene:

''And now, with all this mayhem, Foinavon has gone off on his own! He's about 50 to 100 yards in front of anything else!'' 

His owner had so little faith in winning that he traveled to Worcester instead.

One horse synonymous with the Grand National is the legendary Red Rum. This beautiful, bay gelding won three times (1973, 1974 & 1977) and finished second in the intervening years. Trained by Ginger McCain in the ownership of Noel le Mare, his victory in 1973 is considered the greatest Grand National in history after being some 30 lengths behind the leaders. Without question Red Rum loved to jump a fence. He was a master of all fences and never fell once in 100 races. His third win was voted in 2002 as the 24th greatest sporting moment of all time.  

Commentator Peter O'Sullevan said of his third win: 

''The crowd are willing him home now. The 12-year-old Red Rum, being preceded only by loose horses, being chased by Churchtown Boy... They're coming to the elbow, just a furlong now between Red Rum and his third Grand National triumph! It's hats off and a tremendous reception, you've never heard one like it at Liverpool... and Red Rum wins the National!''

 In addition, he won the Scottish National in 1974. 

He was a celebrity in his own right opening super markets, bookmakers shops and leading the annual Grand National parade. He switched on Blackpool illuminations in 1977. Along with merchandise, many books were written about Red Rum.  

Red Rum died of natural causes in 1995 at the age of 30. In a fitting tribute he was buried at the winning post of the Aintree Racecourse. His epitaph reads: Respect this place/ this hallowed ground/ a legend here/ his rest has found/ his feet would fly/ our spirits soar/ he earned our love for evermore. A life size statue of Red Rum stands at Aintree racecourse.

In the 1970s the future running of the Grand National was uncertain. However, Red Rum and his historic victories captured the heart of a nation and ensured huge public support for the fund to buy Aintree which is now ownership and protected by the Jockey Club.

Tony McCoy said of this National hero:

 ''Red Rum's feats, of three Nationals and two seconds, are legendary. They will never be equaled, let alone surpassed. They say records are there to be broken, but Red Rum's at Aintree is one which will stand the test of time.''        

The Grand National is so much more than just another horse race. Which story will be told this year?        

Horse Rugs: Keeping them warm this Winter

The winter months can be harsh for horses just the way that they can be harsh for people. People wear coats during the cold winter months and a horse should have a rug during those frosty, snowy and icy days and nights. Knowing when to use a rug on a horse can provide protection as well as comfort in order for the horse to stay healthy. 
Horse Rugs: Keeping Them Warm This Winter
There are many reasons to purchase a good quality horse rug for winter months. Watch for signs that the horse is cold such as shivering. If he is shivering, he could very well benefit from the use of a warm rug. It is important to keep horses warm in winter to help prevent illnesses with them. They can catch colds and other illness when they are too cold. 
Stable or Pastured Horses
Whether a horse is kept in a stable or in the pasture, he can still be cold. Just because he is kept in a stable or stall does not mean that he will always be warm during the winter months. When the weather produces snow, high winds or icy conditions it is safe to assume that a good rug will help him to be more comfortable. Horse Rugs: Keeping them warm this winter should be an important factor to every equine owner as well as those that care for them. 
Older Horses Need Rugs
Horses that are older are the best candidates for a rug. The food they they eat may not be enough to help their bodies generate the warmth that they need to endure the low temperatures that can arise during a heavy winter. The rug will help keep the direct rain, wind and snow from making them cold and possibly ill. 
Pay Attention to the Weather
When a horses coat gets wet it looses its value of warmth to the horse. This is no different than a human wearing a wet coat, it is not going to provide the warmth and protection that they need. Wind can blow a horses body heat away leaving him cold and shivering. Rain and windchill can make the difference in the horse being in need of a quality rug. 
Choosing The Best Rug
When choosing a rug for a horse making sure that the rug the perfect fit is important. A good fit allows the horse to move about freely. A poor fitting rug can cause discomfort and lead to the horse chewing on the rug as well as chaffing. Rugs should be made of material that allows the horses skin to breath and to prevent sweating. Purchasing more than one rug is often a great idea as it will allow a wet blanket to be removed and a dry one placed on the horse for comfort. 
When considering Horse Rugs: Keeping them warm this winter will be much easier if purchased from Ride 4 Less, they offer a large variety of rugs to choose from in a great selection of styles and thickness. Affordable prices are always available making it easy to provide all horses with the comfort that they deserve during those long winter months that can seem to last forever. Provide all horses with the best protection possible by choosing rugs for them that fit properly and make the winter months much easier for them to withstand. Good rugs can save on vet cost as well as keep the horse healthy through winter. 

Olympia Horse Show 2014

Fans  come  from  all over  Europe to behold  this  grand  event  that occurs  annually at the Olympia London International Horse show. Even though the event takes place in late December, ticket booking starts as early as May. This includes bookings for accommodation and sitting. With its continued popularity, each year, it gets better.
In 2014, the seven-day show included not  only  dressage  shows, but also  the Shetland pony Grand  National, The  metropolitan Police activity  Ride, Show  jumping  and the  kennel Club Dog  agility  performance. Clearly, there was something for everyone in attendance.
Olympia Dressage Star
Decked in a dark colored tailed coat, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro went ahead to break another record with their breathtaking grand prix, breaking the 87.46% former record and also the 94.3% points for the freestyle. Dressage training helps a horse  to acquire technique crucial  to either  racing  or  other  sport  activity as it  learns  to  be  keen  and  attentive  to the  rider. The routine movements, when done with precision and with fluidity score points for the overall performance. A  rider and his or her animal communicate with ease such that it  almost  seems  that  the horse  is moving  at  will and  not  under  subtle  guidance. The end result is a safe, comfortable horse for future riders.
The side shows
Different spectators  who came for the Olympia Horse Show 2014, come in for  different  shows, and it  really  does  no  harm  to  check  the  schedule  in advance  to  know which show is most  appealing. Show jumping is a sport favored by those that are particular about horse agility and athleticism. Jumping is creatively designed to appeal to the eye, with colorful displays elaborately packaged. The rider and his ride jump over obstacles that vary from water, stone walls and bars. There is  the Oxer bar which is composed  of  two verticals close  together, a triple bar and  even the hogs back which  is a  spread  fence with  three rails. The  penalties pop  when  a horse  refuses  to jump and obstacle, exceeds  the  time  limit  or  knocking  down a rail. Ben Maher riding Diva made a spectacular show of jumping, maintaining his former position.
Some  have argued  that  the metropolitan police  activity ride  is  a bit  over  the  top, but  a consideration  of the  purpose  of the  show can shed  light  to the  whole  idea. Since  it  involves jumping fire  and  other hair  raising actions, it  is no  different  from  what the  police  go   through  during  normal   training, and  is  in fact  quite  appropriate when  performed  in  controlled   environment.
Riders of 9-14 years of age participate in the Shetland Pony Grand National show. Which  is a fast  paced  race to  show  off  the  young  one’s  abilities. It is also a great reservoir for future jockeys and racers. Young ones are also thrilled about the display of canine agility by the Kennel Club Dog show.
The Olympia Shop
Such a celebrated event  require at  least a souvenir, and  the International Equestrian Displays Shopping village  is a  home  to  all that  and  more. Guests were able to bring home beautiful art, key chains and stuffed animals. The beauty  of  this  is  that  is  even a  luggage  drop  of  point  so  one  need  not  cart  around the  items  bought. Hotels  bookings  can  be  made  online, even  specifying  the  requirement  for  maybe, a walking  distance  to the event  venue. Disabled visitors have their own sitting areas, completed with toilets fitted for the disabled. In the coming years, it is expected that the show will keep getting more competitive, with even more participants. If you want your equine to participate in such a prestigious show, then start grooming your loving horse with best quality equestrian equipment from a store like Robinsons Equestrian where the superior products are available at competitive prices.

Coneygree hoping for Gold Cup glee

The top stables are used to having good horses running in the biggest races, but the chances of dining at National Hunt racing’s top table are a little more fleeting when you are a smaller yard.
Perhaps that is why, when you do have a horse which looks like it can be top class, you should grasp every possible opportunity to go for gold.
That certainly seems to be the case for Mark Bradstock, who is set to let his stable star Coneygree take his chance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after scrapping a tilt at the RSA Chase instead.
As a novice, Coneygree certainly has it all to do in the Gold Cup after running just three times over fences in his career. Captain Christy was the last novice to win the Gold Cup in 1974, while Gloria Victis is a tragic reminder of what can happen after suffering a fatal fall when running in the 2000 race as a novice.
But, after Coneygree’s impressive win against more experienced chasers in the Denman Chase last time, you can understand why Bradstock has succumbed to the temptation of going for the Gold Cup. And if you fancy Coneygree’s chances just as much as the trainer by betting on Cheltenham Festival races then he is 9/1 with bet365.
The question now is whether Coneygree is capable of making an impact in the Gold Cup.
He is proven around Cheltenham, albeit over hurdles, which is a plus. He won Grade Two trials for both the Neptune and Albert Bartlett in 2012 before then finishing third in another trial for the Neptune behind At Fishers Cross and The New One, which is extremely solid form, in January 2013.
That proved to be Coneygree’s last run until his chasing debut at Newbury in November last year. He made all to beat Dell ‘Arca by a length-and-a-half in a Grade Two on soft ground over two-and-a-half miles.
Coneygree’s second start over fences was in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas when he beat Warden Hill by 40 lengths. Saphir Du Rheu, who unseated his rider at Newbury, fell in that race and is ante-post favourite for the World Hurdle. Carraig Mor and Sausalito Sunrise, who could also have given Coneygree a race, both failed to make it round as well.
But Coneygree showed back at Newbury in the Denman Chase that there is plenty of substance behind his ability after making all to beat Houblon Des Obeaux by seven lengths. Houblon Des Obeaux had finished second to Many Clouds in the Hennessy earlier in the season and was ninth in the Gold Cup last year. Unioniste, a leading contender for the Grand National, was third and 2014 JLT Novices’ Chase winner Taquin Du Seuil was fourth.
Still on the upgrade, Coneygree will line up for the Gold Cup with a solid chance, despite his lack of experience. He is tough, jumps well and could prove hard to overhaul if he is allowed his own way in front.
It would certainly be a remarkable training achievement if Bradstock can pull it off.

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2015: McCoy Last Time Lucky

With A P McCoy announcing his retirement from race riding all eyes will be on him for this year's Cheltenham Festival 2015. 

We have to go back to 1992 for his first victory. However, his performances have written the headlines with milestones which have become racing folklore. 

On 7th November 2013, he eclipsed all records when riding his 4000th winner on Mountain Tunes at Towcester. In fact this modest man has been champion jockey since turning professional: first championship in 1995/96 and 19 consecutive Champion jockey titles to date. His accolades include an OBE in 2010, along with Sports Personality of the Year to cement his status as all-time great. 

As of 18th February 2015 he has achieved career wins of 4,333.         

It would be fitting for this racing supremo to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, held at Prestbury Park, run over 3 miles 2 1/2 furlongs. In truth, this steeple chase has been elusive for A P McCoy. National Hunt fans will remember his first victory in 1997 when Mr Mulligan, trained by Noel Chance, proved a surprise. In 2012, Synchronised [pictured] proved a popular winner for Jonjo O'Neill in the familiar racing silks of legendary gambler J P McManus. 

Come 13th March, 2015 many punters will be interested in betting Tony McCoy for the Gold Cup if not taking a bet on Cheltenham's top jockeys because trainers will make this a Festival to remember for ''the champ''. 

It would be a magical moment if his likely mount Holywell could make the headlines for horse trainer Jonjo O'Neill, riding in the colours of Mrs Gay Smith. This eight-year-old gelding, sired by Gold Well out of a Thatching mare, won well last time out at Kelso when 1/4f by twenty-five lengths. This bay horse has proved victorious on his two Cheltenham starts to date, both at double-figure odds. 

Holywell is presently priced at 10/1 to win the Gold Cup. 

Win or lose, the Cheltenham roar will be as much for one jockey as the occasion itself - the legend A P McCoy. 

Jockeys and trainers prepare for Cheltenham challenge

 Cheltenham Festival, which falls this year on March 10th - 13th, is an annual celebration of this country’s equine culture. Alongside the Grand National at Aintree it stands as the premier event in the National Hunt racing calendar - attracting only the finest racers to compete for some of the richest purses within the sport.

During the Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse at Prestbury Park will be overrun by trainers, owners and jockeys all frantically preparing for their big moments - which may only last a few minutes. Over the 4 day event there will be no less than 27 races each of which will bring lashings of drama to the final second.

For jockeys the run up to Cheltenham is an exciting and challenging time. The “big names” - like Tony McCoy, Ruby Walsh and Frankie Dettori will all have their pick of mounts for the big events and so use the run up to gauge ability and form. Everything learned during these lower key races will be stored and analysed before Cheltenham.

Owners, too, have some tough emotional and financial decisions to make. The large fields and challenging nature of the Cheltenham courses has cost several mounts their lives in recent years. Owners must weigh up the risk to their horses and riders against the chance of winning and also consider that a healthy, retired horse may be worth more at stud than on the course. Against all this weighs the considerable prestige of winning any Cheltenham event, let alone the Gold Cup which is possibly racing’s most sought after prize.

But it isn’t just those “in the business” that sweat the run up to Cheltenham Festival. Even now an operation of hundreds is preparing the track and readying the grandstand. During The Festival itself a huge operation involving thousands of caterers, security guards, marshals and plenty more will come together to give the 80,000 daily spectators a seamless experience. If the temperature dips below freezing in the run up (not unlikely, given this country’s climate) every inch of Cheltenham’s track will be covered in sheeting to mitigate damaging frosts that can cause delays and cancellations.

Bookmakers too will be busy studying every race run by Cheltenham contenders to adjust their prices on the thousands of markets they’ll be offering. As much as £600m will be wagered on Cheltenham and even fractional mistakes can take millions from the bottom line.

With just weeks to go until March 10th and another incredible installment of The Cheltenham Show the excitement is ramping up in all quarters. Nowhere else in the world will you such pivotal moments occur in such quickfire succession - the tiniest element the difference between glory and ignominy!

Kentucky Derby update

Texas Red beaten at Santa Anita

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red was beaten by Bob Baffert’s Lord Nelson in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes last weekend.

Kent Desormeaux settled the son of Afleet Alex at the rear of the six-runner field before launching his challenge up the rail. Rafael Bejarano delivered Lord Nelson on the outside and was briefly headed inside the final furlong before rallying to win by a neck.

Texas Red was among the outsiders at around 14-1 for the Kentucky Derby after the race with Lord Nelson at 25-1. It was a ninth win in the Vicente Stakes for Baffert but connections of the runner-up were not too disheartened. Their colt was giving 5lbs to the winner and was racing over an inadequate trip of seven furlongs.

When Texas Red won the Breeders’ Cup, he was detached in the early stages before his stamina came into play in the closing stages. Connections are optimistic that he will improve over a longer trip in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on February 21st.

Ocean Knight leaves it late at Tampa Bay

Ocean Knight remains a general 33-1 shot after arriving late to catch Divining Rod in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. There were no points on offer on Saturday but Kiaran McLaughlin’s Curlin colt will be chasing 50 points next time in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 7th.

The colt had to deliver his challenge on the outside and it was a big improvement on his debut victory at Aqueduct. Divining Rod is not nominated for the Triple Crown but battled on bravely when challenged and should win his fair share of races for Arnaud Delacour.

Calculator out of Triple Crown

One horse that will not be lining up in the Triple Crown is the Peter Miller-trained Calculator. The son of Summation won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes and was also runner-up in the Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes. The grey had worked brilliantly over five furlongs at San Luis Rey Downs on New Year’s Eve but has been side-lined by an injury that will keep him off the track for six months.

The Great War off to a winning start

Former Aidan O’Brien colt The Great War started the season with an impressive victory in the 96Rock Stakes at Turfway Park. The son of War Front stormed to a seven and a quarter lengths victory over the six and a half furlong trip.

The Great War raced seven times in the UK and Ireland last season before finishing a creditable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He won over five furlongs at Tipperary and the Curragh before proving a disappointing favourite in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. He won the Listed Blenheim Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh in September to earn a trip to Santa Anita.

The Coolmore team decided to leave him in the capable hands of Wesley Ward over the winter. Ward is familiar to British racing fans for his successful raids on the two-year-old races at Royal Ascot, including Hootenanny in the Windsor Castle Stakes last summer. The Great War was given a tentative quote of 40-1 for the Kentucky Derby.

El Kabeir and Dortmund set to return

The Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct could provide some early Derby clues this weekend. The Lewis sees the return of Dortmund who is set for a re-match with Los Alamitos Futurity runner-up Firing Line. Kentucky Jockey Club winner El Kabeir is long odds-on favourite to continue his progress in the Withers.

The grey faces six maiden stakes winners in the $250,000 contest at Aqueduct as he bids to follow up his victory in the Jerome Stakes at the same track. El Kabeir goes into the weekend at equal-first in the list of Derby contenders with 21 points alongside International Star.

Triple Crown entries

There are 429 horses entered for the Triple Crown this year, just fifteen more than last year and the highest since 2008. Aidan O’Brien has entered five colts led by Racing Post Trophy runner-up Aloft. He chased home the impressive Elm Park at Doncaster in October and is joined by Battle Of Marathon, War Envoy, Smuggler's Cove and Royal Navy Ship.

Dermot Weld, who won the 1990 Belmont Stakes with Go And Go, is represented by Don Camillo, Sight Hound, Time To Inspire and Tombelaine. John Oxx has entered an unnamed Kamarinskaya colt while Godolphin’s entries include recent all-weather winner Tempus Temporis and Somerville Tattersall Stakes winner Maftool.

The Triple Crown begins with the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2nd. The Preakness at Pimlico Downs follows on May 16th with the Belmont making up the final leg on June 6th. The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978.

2015 Grand National: Clash of the Titans

As National Hunt fans wave goodbye to the Cheltenham Festival, anticipation rises for the Crabbie's Grand National Festival from 9th - 11th April 2015. Aintree, Liverpool, is the venue for the greatest steeplechase of them all - the Grand National 11th April. 

This Class 1 handicap raced over 4m 3f 110y which is open to horses aged seven years and older with a rating of 120 or more by the British Horseracing Authority and placed in a recognised chase over 3 miles or more. 

This is the most valuable jumps race in Europe features total win prize money of almost £1000,000. 

William Lynn founded this race after setting out a course, building a grandstand, and Lord Sefton laid the foundation stone on 7th February 1829.  The record books detailed that this race was inaugurated in 1839. It was promoted as unique race with much larger fences than conventional courses. The first race was won by a horse aptly named Lottery, ridden by Jem Mason. 

Today the Grand National is a global phenomenon broadcast on terrestrial television to an estimated audience of 600 million viewers over 140 countries. The 2014 Grand National was won by Pineau De Re, ridden by Leighton Aspell, trained by Dr Richard Newland at odds of 25/1. 

Betting is very much a part of this race which sees punters taking an interest in the Grand National Odds. Leading bookmaker Titanbet are presently offering last year's winner Pineau De Re at odds of 25/1. Shutthefrontdoor, trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by legendary gambler J P McManus, is 16/1 favourite. Other major fancies include Balthazar King 20/1, Unioniste 20/1, Merry King 25/1 & Teaforthree 25/1. It is often wise to bet ante-post because odds are often much shorter price come the day of the race.       

The Grand National has a rich history. Did you know? In the three years during the First World War (1916-1918) the Grand National was run at Gatwick Racecourse, which is now owned by Gatwick airport. The later two races were named the War National Steeplechase. In 1928 Tipping Tim won at odds of 100/1 when 41 of the 42 field fell. Only two riders completed the course. This remains the record for the fewest number of finishers. 

The most bizarre incident happened in 1955 when Devon Loch, owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, jumped in the air and belly-flopped on the turf when going to win.

Foinavon was one of the luckiest winners in 1967 when a loose horse called Popham Down hampered the majority of the field at the 23rd fence. This Irish racehorse was so far behind the field that he was able to jump the fence on the outside and win at 100/1. His owner had so little faith he went to Worcester instead. 

In the 1970s one horse marked himself as a true champion and still recognised as the horse synonymous with the Grand National - Red Rum. Originally bought as a yearling for just 400 guineas he went on to win the race in 1973, 1974 and 1977. He finished second in the intervening years. Ginger McCain trained Red Rum (which backwards spells Murder) by trotting him on Southport beach as the sea water was considered therapeutic for his lameness. McCain had witnessed this remedy with many carthorses. Red Rum is the only horse to have won the Grand National three times. Amazingly he never fell in 100 races. He died at the age of 30 and is buried at the finishing post of Aintree racecourse. The epitaph reads "Respect this place / this hallowed ground / a legend here / his rest has found / his feet would fly / our spirits soar / he earned our love for evermore." 

One of the most emotional winners came in 1981 - Bob Champion and Aldaniti. Two years earlier Champion had been diagnosed with cancer and given months to live. His horse had suffered with chronic leg problems. After a slow start the pair went on to win by four-and-a-half lengths from Spartan Missile. Within two years their story was made into the film Champions, starring John Hurt. 

Other notable performances include Mr Frisk winning in the fastest time in 1990 in under nine minutes. The oldest winning horse was called Peter Simple. He was 15 when victorious in 1853.

Five horse have won aged five - the last of those in 1909 named Lutteur III. Five horses have won at odds of 100/1.

2:45 Kempton Racing Tips (3rd February) JOIN THE RACING UK CLUB MAIDEN AUCTION STAKES (CLASS 5) (3yo)

A Maiden Auction Stakes race over 1m on standard going. Six three-year-olds take part: one filly, two geldings and three colts. Three debutantes take on a trio of lightly-raced horses in what, by all accounts, is a low-class affair. 

Virtual Reality has been relatively fancied on both starts to date for Charlie McBride, but somewhat disappointing in ways. This son of Virtual was expected to run a big race second start but always looked to be struggling to go the pace and has a pronounced running action. The apprentice claim should have given some advantage but he was beaten by another of today's runners Vale Of Iron. McBride has Jamie Spencer booked to ride and that may help although John Best's runner-up that day at Chelmsford City was a touch keen in the first two furlong and there may not be much between the pair. 

In many respects I wasn't impressed by Virtual Reality who looked a flat-footed plodder. In that horse's defence, this race may be no better and most of these, including the debutantes, have something to prove. 

Oakley Star has proved limited on her first two starts, trained by Gay Kelleway. Connections of this Multiplex filly will be hoping a rest of nearly three months will find some improvement. A horse I would rather watch.

The debutantes wouldn't need to be anything special to figure here although experienced opposition will at least indicate these youngster will need to be fit and ready or a diamond in the sand. For the best bookmaker offers get up to £200 free at Bet365 using a promo code from this website

John Butler's horses have been in good form with a couple of decent winners of late. Three Times A Lord is a son of Three Valleys out of a Group-winning mare [Sesmen]. The mare, trained by Marco Botti, won the Prestige Stakes (Group 3) at two, proving victorious on her first three starts. In fact, she wasn't disgraces when running at Group 1 class at Longchamp at three, gaining an official rating of 105. She concluded her career by winning a Listed race. Considering Three Times A Lord has decent breeding is it surprising he was purchased as a foal for just 4,000gns at Tattersalls December Foals 2012. A half-brother was sold at the yearling sales for 100,000euros. Three Times A Lord is worth watching in the betting and if supported could well prove a danger in this restricted race type.

It's interesting to see Rae Guest fields a colt and gelding, both debutantes. This stable can ready a horse to win first start although most are priced 10/1 & less. With such a small field there is a slight concern they may be forced into this betting guide. 

Silversmith is an Irish bred son of Mastercraftsman, owned by Miss Emma O'Gorman, who isn't the type to keep a horse unless it has some hope of winning. He was purchase for 40,000euors as a yearling and not sold for 38,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sales. Clearly connections were hoping for more money, which suggests this grey gelding has something about him.Chris Catlin rides most of the stable's horses. 

Tell Me Another was a cheap yearling purchase at just 3,000gns and part owned by Rae Guest. David Probert rides infrequently for the yard but holds fair statistics. The Guest pair are difficult to assess but the betting is likely to tell the story.   

Summary: A tricky race to assess. There doesn't look much between the two form horses: Vale Of Iron and Virtual Reality. They will be fit and primed to go well but is the level of form good enough to win? Virtual Reality may go better for Jamie Spencer but he looks an awkward type. Vale Of Iron must have a fighting chance of beating him once more. The debutantes could prove the ace up the sleeve. Three Times A Lord is a very cheap buy but well bred. I can only imagine he was an ugly duckling. If backed I would take note. The betting is worth noting for Rae Guest's duo. If priced 10/1 & less they hold fair claims. 

Usual suspects to fight for Festival trainers' title

The leading trainer title at the Cheltenham Festival has been dominated by three men over the past decade – Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls.
And it’s fair to say that the leading trainer at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival is likely to be one of the trio again. The likes of David Pipe, Jonjo O’Neill and Philip Hobbs are all expected to have fancied runners come March, but those stables lack the strength in depth of their contemporaries.
Here, we take a look at the firepower which Henderson, Mullins and Nicholls can aim at this year’s Festival.

Leading trainer at the Festival on 10 occasions, Henderson sent out only one winner 12 months ago when Whisper landed the Coral Cup. He has suffered a couple of setbacks already in the build-up to this year’s Festival. My Tent Or Yours, runner-up in last season’s Champion Hurdle, is out for the season and Simonsig, who has not run since winning the 2013 Arkle and could have been a Ryanair Chase contender, is also still absent. However, dual Festival winner Sprinter Sacre returned from over 12 months on the casualty list to finish second at Ascot in mid-January. Henderson is confident Sprinter Sacre will benefit greatly from the run and the nine-year-old has a solid chance of regaining his Champion Chase crown. Peace And Co [pictured] is a warm favourite for the Triumph Hurdle and showed his versatility with a win at Cheltenham on trials day. L’Ami Serge will go to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with a live chance and, if Josses Hill can brush up the jumping, then the Arkle is no forlorn hope. Then there is Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup. The 2013 winner of the race floundered in the conditions at Leopardstown over Christmas, but a return to Cheltenham in the spring gives him a chance of landing a blow in a relatively open renewal. Also keep an eye on whatever Henderson runs in the Grand Annual.
The leading trainer at the Festival for the past two years, Mullins will be the favourite to take that title again. He followed up his seven wins in 2013 with four last year as Faugheen, Vautour, Quevega and Don Poli struck. Faugheen will go into this year’s Festival as a warm favourite for the Champion Hurdle, for which Mullins also has two-time winner Hurricane Fly. Don Poli has to be feared in either the RSA Chase or the National Hunt Chase, while Vautour is favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase. Annie Power, who was second in last year’s World Hurdle, will be very hard to beat in the Mares’ Hurdle as well. And Mullins has an enviable batch of hopefuls in the novice hurdles, with Douvan, Outlander and Black Hercules all to be respected. Un De Sceaux could be his banker of the week in the Arkle Chase and Champagne Fever will go into his fourth Festival with a chance of a third win when he contests the Champion Chase. Mullins has yet to win the Gold Cup and he is likely to send last year’s narrow runner-up On His Own and the progressive Djakadam into battle.
It has been a relatively barren couple of years at the Festival for Nicholls, who was leading trainer for four years in a row from 2006 to 2009. He won just one race in 2013 and the same again last year when Lac Fontana took the County Hurdle on the last day. It is still too early to say who Nicholls will be aiming at the handicaps and his novice hurdlers look to have a bit to find at present, especially compared to those at Mullins’ disposal. However, Nicholls does have the Gold Cup favourite in Silviniaco Conti, who is expected to see out the trip much better than when fourth to Lord Windermere last year. Silviniaco Conti will not run again before the Gold Cup, like Nicholls’ other possible for the race Sam Winner. In the Champion Chase, which Nicholls has won with Call Equiname, Azertyuiop and Master Minded, he has the improving Dodging Bullets. Already a dual Grade One winner this season, Dodging Bullets has to be feared. Big Buck’s gave Nicholls four successive wins in the World Hurdle, and Saphir Du Rheu and Zarkandar will both head to the race with solid chances. Al Ferof will merit respect if he goes for the Ryanair Chase and Ptit Zig is a strong contender for the JLT Novices’ Chase.

Paul Cole - Horses For 2015

It looks like we have some nice horses to go to war with this year. Most of the older horses look like they might win and we have some good looking, good moving two year olds. Most of our horses are trotting at the moment and I have given you a short summary of the three year olds and the older horses. The yearlings have all cantered before Christmas and we always give them time to grow during January so they just trot.

Older Horses

Berkshire: is trotting at the moment and he will head to the Prix Ganay, he has really grown up and we could not be more happy with him.

Bluegrass Blue: He will run this month but there is a shortage of races as he is quite high in the handicap rated 87. There is an open handicap at Lingfield over 7 furlongs on the 21st Jan, this may be to hot. 

Complicit: Heads to the Winter Derby, he has had a short break and seems in good terms with himself. I think he is a big improver.

Dutch Art Dealer: He had quite a hard champagne last year and will probably come out in May.

Dark Days: Ran very well last time out and should improve again. He has definitely got bigger and stronger.

Elysian Prince: He seems to have grown and strengthened and is well capable of winning and we think he will improve.

Meritocracy: the closest he came last year was second by a length. He will probably go to St Moritz on February 22nd.

Silverheels: He may run in the same race as Bluegrass Blues he does appreciate 7f and Lingfield.

Silviniaco Conti to Win the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious of all National Hunt steeple chases in the horse racing calendar, and although it’s a long off, 2015’s event is already well-anticipated by riders, trainers and punters alike. 

This Grade 1 National Hunt race was inaugurated in 1924 when a horse called Red Splash won for trainer Fred Withington, ridden by Dick Rees. It is run over a distance of 3 miles 2 1/2 furlongs with 22 fences.

According to Paddy Powers' latest Cheltenham Gold Cup odds one name immediately stands out. Silviniaco Conti, recent winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton is now clear favourite at 3/1. 

But is now the right time to back him?

In short, the answer is yes. This French-bred gelding, trained by Paul Nicholls, racing in the familiar colours of Chris Giles & Potensis Bloodstock Ltd has done well winning four of his last six races, holding Dynaste on two occasions and proving better than Menorah after suffering a surprise defeat at Wetherby. All looks good for his best performance come the big day.  

In last years Gold Cup this nine-year-old chestnut looked the winner, when wandering right under pressure, tiring in the last 100yds, when not recovering from that errant maneuver. He held Bob's Hope, one place behind in fifth, in a race where the outsiders prevailed. 

In 2013 he traveled like a winner when falling three out.

Other major rivals include last year's winner Lord Windermere & previous Gold Cup stalwart Bob's Worth. 

From a historic perspective this event has seen exceptional winners include household names such at Arkle, Best Mate, Mill House and Paul Nicholls' wonder horse Kauto Star who won the race twice. Golden Miller won this race no less than five consecutive times  (1932 - 1936). 

In truth, Silviniaco Conti [pictured] is a consistent horse who has proven his class. Come (3:20) Cheltenham Gold Cup day, 13th March 2015, lady luck may shine on a horse which has proved disappointing twice before.