18 Dec 2018

Early Hopes and Headaches for Cheltenham 2019

We are just about reaching the halfway point between the start of the national hunt season and the start of the Cheltenham Festival (12th-15th March). In some senses, the early part of the season has seen some continuity from the last spring, with several big names pulling out big wins to reinforce their credentials going into Cheltenham. However, there has been plenty of disappointments too. Here’s a look at what has been interesting and what has been impacting the ante-post markets. 

Altior and Buveur D’Air Haven’t Missed a Beat

Nicky Henderson had two of the best horses at Cheltenham 2018 and it looks like he is going to have two of the stars of the 2019 Festival. Buveur D’Air, in particular, was excellent in his season debut at in the Fighting Fifth, beating the highly rated Samcro by 8 lengths and was a further 15 lengths ahead of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy. Altior was in his usual imperious form, just going up a gear at the last to take the Tingle Creek Chase ahead of a gutsy Un De Sceaux. Both horses are found at very low odds, with the best price looking like Bet365’s evens for Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle and 8/11 from William Hill for Altior in the Champion Chase.



If Only the Festival was at Haydock Park 

Bristol De Mai, the sometimes mesmerising, sometimes infuriating grey, has had pulled out some cracking results at Haydock over the last few years. A couple of weeks ago, it was the turn of Native River, Might Bite and Thistlecrack to feel to see Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 7-year-old finish a considerable distance ahead of them at Haydock. Might Bite, in particular, looked out of sorts. The Gold Cup markets weren’t rattled too much, with Presenting Percy slipping in to replace Might Bite as a general 9/2 favourite. It is Bristol De Mai, however, that might interest value-hunting punters. 20/1 now with Betfair to win the Gold Cup ahead of several horses he beat a few weeks ago. You can get insane Cheltenham free bets from top bookies at the moment. Is the Haydock specialist worth using one on as a shot to nothing? 

Morgiana Mediocrity for Faugheen 

What to make of Faugheen’s first run of the season at the Morgiana Hurdle? After last April’s Irish Champion Stayers’ Hurdle win, where he left Penhill trailing in his wake, there was a lot of talk of Faugheen reinventing himself as a long-distance hurdler. He spent the summer months as the favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle, but Faugheen has tumbled down the odds since that limp performance saw him finish second amongst a weak field in the Morgiana Hurdle. He stands at 12/1 now with William Hill for the Stayers’, although some bookies have put him significantly lower. He will be 11 by the time Cheltenham comes around, making the case for one last great race difficult to make.

Something extra from Thistlecrack? 

Returning to that Betfair Chase, Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack, a horse who has looked far from his best since injury in early 2017 ruled out a Gold Cup tilt, certainly did not embarrass himself, finishing right behind Native River and over 20 lengths ahead of Might Bite. Like Faugheen, he will be 11-years-old when Cheltenham gets underway. He will be aiming to be the first horse of 11 years or older to win the Gold Cup since What a Myth in 1969. Tizzard has been very upbeat about Thistlecrack. But his 25/1 general price suggests the bookies think it unlikely.

16 Dec 2018

Horse Racing: The Different Types of Races that You Need to Know About

Horse racing happens to be one of the most entertaining and exciting events that sports have to offer, but unfortunately, it is often misunderstood. It tends to get lumped together with other activities which makes it harder to be identified. Even some of the casual sports bettor often doesn’t know that there are different events and types of horse racing. 

Starting your journey in one of the oldest sports-betting game? Then, you definitely need to know the ins and out of this sport! Let’s first identify the different types of races this noble sport offers so that you could easily identify where to start and plan your way out to success. 

Flat Racing

Typically deals with Thoroughbred horses, the flat racing is by far the most popular type of horse racing which is held on a flat leveled surface. The Triple Crown events which are Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Preakness Stakes, at the 2018 Pegasus World Cup are easily the most popular. However, you should know that any race which is run on a flat surface without obstacles or other hurdles for the horses qualifies as a flat race. 

Depending on the event, flat races tend to be run on between 1-3 miles which can also be passed as a test of the horse’s speed and stamina. The leading running surface for horses across the world is the Turf but there are the dirt tracks that are also used in some countries, especially in the United States. 

Jump Racing (National Hunt)

Also referred to as Steeplechasing, jump racing, or also known as National Hunt as its official name overseas, is the type of racing wherein the horses are given obstacles to overcome beyond the track length or the surrounding competition. The horses in this kind of race avoid fences, ditches, and other obstacles in order to win. This type of race is incredibly popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France. 


In terms of betting, jump races are a bit difficult to bet on since bettors need to consider a lot of different variables, with the horse’s jockey control and hurdling ability being the most important. 

Endurance Racing 

The third main type of horse racing, the endurance racing. This is a challenge where horses run for longer periods of time thus the tracks are much longer than the usual. Unlike the popular jump and flat racing events, this type of racing tests the endurance and longevity of a horse on a track. 

Now, if you’re thinking that endurance racing is about speed then you got it all wrong. The bettor's main focus here is the horses’ ability to be consistent on track and not fade over large courses. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t a hugely-popular horse race since as you know it, it can go on for a long duration which isn’t necessarily ideal for horses and jockeys. However, there is the current longest endurance race going on which is the Mongol Derby which stretches for 1,000 kilometres. 

Lastly, all breeds are welcomed to join in this race but the Arabian horse is the most popular breed for this competition due to their known stamina and endurance. 

Harness Racing

Harness racing is where the horses trot or pace at a predetermined speed without breaking its stride then the horses are penalized for galloping by being forced to slow down behind the competition. The top harness race in the world is the prestigious Prix d’Amerique which is held yearly in Paris and is event based on lifetime earnings with a prize competition worth of 1 million euros upwards. 

Quarter Horse Racing

Quarter horse racing is a less popular type of horse racing wherein it puts an extreme emphasis on speed. This horse race refers to a quarter of a mile or less, thus its name, and challenges the horses to compete and win on very short tracks. This can also be an exciting horse racing event due to the speed and talent involved however it doesn’t last that long. 


Takeaway 

Knowing the different types of races is an important factor when you delve into this sport. Because contrary to popular belief, the Triple Crown — which is an award for winning a group of the three important events: Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Preakness— are not the only important horse racing events in a whole year and definitely not the only types of horse racing either. 

So, why’s it really important? Some races put an emphasis on speed and others might track endurance or some specific skills. In addition, there are also horse races which feature specific types of horses that compete at a certain level. 

Lastly, since this is a sport-betting game, thus you should know which is which before you place any money on a wager since there are types of horse racing that are far more worthy of your time.

13 Dec 2018

Might Bite: What went wrong in Betfair Chase? Can he return?

Might Bite Betfair Chase
Nicky Henderson is looking to restore the confidence in Might Bite before he next runs at the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. 

The nine-year-old remains the bookmakers’ favourite despite being beaten as the favourite in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month. Might Bite saw his odds drop to odds-on to win the first leg of jump racing’s Triple Crown just days before the event. 

It was the first hurdle event that Might Bite had failed to win in his lifetime, in what was its fourth race. Might Bite had won six of its seven races prior to a 226-day break since beating Bristol De Mai by seven lengths at Aintree back in April. 

However, trainer Henderson said after the Betfair Chase that his horse couldn’t get in any rhythm as the fences were unusually very big and very solid. His words were backed up as only 18 of the 25 horses finished that day, compared to 24 of 28 on the same card 12 months earlier. 

Might Bite finished the Betfair Chase in last place, some 29 lengths behind the winner, Bristol De Mai. 

Henderson added that his horse lost his own belief and confidence as a result of the Haydock race and has had his trainer schooling his prized asset prior to the King George VI Chase in less than three weeks’ time. He told Racing UK:

“I think he just lost his own belief and lost his confidence a little bit. Talking to Yogi, he said you could see that he just wasn’t as fluent, he was having to work it out, and you take out a lot of mental and physical energy. He wasn’t tired. I just think his game had gone to pieces a little bit. He’s such a good jumper, but it’s all about confidence and I just think he lost it.” 

Failing to win the Betfair Chase means Nicky Henderson missed out on potentially winning the £1 million bonus that is paid out to any horse that wins the treble – the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

Should Nicky Henderson and his team return the confidence in Might Bite then there’s no reason why he won’t live up to expectations on Boxing Day by winning the King George VI Chase. Henderson’s horse is currently the 7/2 favourite with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, followed by Waiting Patiently at 11/2 and Native River at 7/1. The Betfair Chase winner last month, Bristol De Mai, is currently back at 15/2 to win in the King George betting

Might Bite won the King George VI Chase last year – the third time Nicky Henderson had trained a horse to victory as this prestigious event, and the first win for jockey Nico de Boinville, who will be riding the same horse again this year. 

Native River beat Might Bite to first place by four-and-a-half-lengths back at Cheltenham back in March when Nick Henderson’s horse had been the 4/1 favourite. Revenge may be on course against his arch-rival on Boxing Day.

10 Dec 2018

Who will win the 2018 King George VI Chase?

First run in 1937, the King George VI Chase, which is named in honour of the former British monarch King George VI, is one of the highlights of the racing season. Taking place on Boxing Day every year, the Grade 1 National Hunt race is run over a distance of 3 miles at Kempton Park Racecourse and is designed for horses aged four years old and above. This race challenges the very best horses around, and is arguably the second most prestigious chase in England, just behind the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

According to the King George race betting odds, last year’s winner ‘Might Bite’ is the favourite to win the race for the second year running. At 2/1, it seems like everyone is expecting the Irish trained horse to dominate the race and secure an easy victory. The thoroughbred is used to racing on tracks which are just as long as the one at Kempton, and should adapt to it fairly easily. If it does, it’s hard seeing past anything other than a Might Bite win.

Might Bite might be the overwhelming favourite to secure victory, but there are plenty of other horses which have a good chance of snatching victory. As things stand, ‘Waiting Patiently’ has odds of around 6/1. The seven-year-old won all but two of his races since he started racing in 2015, finishing second in the races that he failed to win. With a 100% win ratio in chases, backing the thoroughbred seems like a fairly good bet. However, there are a couple of things that could give Waiting Patiently a slight disadvantage.


The main thing that you need to take into consideration is that this will be the longest race which he has raced in. If the trainer doesn’t take care of the horse’s stamina, it is likely that he’ll struggle towards the end of the race. It’s also worth mentioning that this race will be his first in over 300 days. There is a chance that this long rest might give him a slight advantage over this competitor who has recently raced, but it is more likely that his lack of competitive racing will put him at a disadvantage.

‘Native River’ rounds out the top three when it comes to the favourites on the odds market. With odds of around 8/1, it is only the second race in the past few years where the thoroughbred isn’t the favourite. Despite this, Native River proved earlier this year that he is able to compete with the best horses on the racecourse. In the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he managed to beat Might Bite by 4 ½ lengths. Could he do it again at Kempton?




Although these three might be the bookmakers favourite, there are plenty of horses racing that still have a good chance of securing a victory. ‘Altior’, who currently has odds of 15/1, is on a 14 race win streak which started all the way back in 2015. There’s no doubt that he’s fast, but there are huge question marks surrounding his stamina. The Irish trained horse has run no further than around 2 miles during his career which could be his downfall in the three-mile long King George Chase.

Other horses such as ‘Footpad, ‘Politologue’ and ‘Bellshill’ are also considered outside favourites, but are unlikely to come close to winning the race outright. Their odds vary from 12/1 to 14/1 and could be worth a shot with the decent form that they’ve been in over the past year or so.


A win for Might Bite seems the most likely scenario but, as we all know, anything can happen on the day and we could see a shock winner.

29 Nov 2018

Could Too Darn Hot be the Next John Gosden Superstar?

Horse Racing Enable
There is no doubting the fact that John Gosden has had a tremendous couple of seasons recently and 2019 could be just as good for him. We have heard the news recently that his star filly Enable will return to training as a five-year-old next season, with the long-term aim of winning a third Arc at Longchamp, while Stradivarius will also come back looking to dominate the staying division once more. Roaring Lion has gone to the breeding barn after a hugely successful three-year-old campaign, but Too Darn Hot could be the horse to come along and replicate that, he looks to be another hugely impressive animal in the Gosden yard.

The two-year-old has been seen four times this season and has now been put away with next season in the campaign. He has been impressive in all four starts, winning them all, including at the highest level on his last run when he beat a solid looking Group One field by nearly three lengths. He is impeccably bred by Dubawi out of Dar Re Mi, and looks sure to provide owner Andrew Lloyd Weber with many fun days out just like his mother did in these colours.

The main aims for next season are very logical steps forward for a horse of this ability. In the early part of the season, he will be aimed at the 2000 Guineas, which takes place in May at Newmarket. Then, after that, the Derby has been mentioned, which means a further step up in trip. However, John Gosden has already said he may not develop into a Derby horse - we will have to wait and see on that front. Either way, it seems incredibly likely that after taking in the 2000 Guineas, Too Darn Hot will be seen in all of the top races throughout the season, whether that is over a mile, ten furlongs or a mile and a half. 



He is already a very warm order for the 2000 Guineas, which is no surprise as this is the one target he has been confirmed for. The latest sports betting shows him as the 6/4 favourite to take that race, despite a whole winter ahead of us yet. That shows just how much the punters respect this horse, and how good the bookmakers think he could be. 

There appears to be a conveyor belt at the John Gosden yard that has the ability to churn out superstar after superstar and just as they lost Roaring Lion to the breeding barn, another has emerged to take his place. Roaring Lion had a fantastic three-year-old campaign, winning some of the biggest prizes in racing and don't be surprised to see Too Darn Hot follow in his footsteps next summer. We have seen some exceptional performances from the two-year-old, but he is set to be at his peak next season, and there could be even more to come from this special animal.

6 Nov 2018

Who Have Been The Leading Horses In The UK In 2018?

The flat season in the UK is coming to a close and, when you look back at the year we have had, it is very difficult to pinpoint moments which stand out more than others. That said, there are a handful of horses who deserve a special mention for the campaigns they have had. Here are three runners which can stake a claim for being one of the leading horses of 2018 in the UK.

Roaring Lion
Three-year-old Roaring Lion can have strong claims to be regarded as the horse of the year in 2018 as John Gosden’s runner won four Group One races and got better as the campaign unfolded. After winning the Dante Stakes at York back in May, he was regarded as one of the leading contenders in the Derby. Although he could only finish third in the British Classic, he more than made up for it with victories following in the Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day. The colt proved his durability at the highest level over a range of trips between 1m and 1m4f. Unfortunately, he was unable to end the season on a high in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Connections of their horse will be very proud of his achievements this year, however.

Enable 

It’s not been a straightforward year for Enable, who did not see a racecourse until September. However, the filly has finished the campaign so strongly she has to be listed amongst the best horses of 2018. Gosden’s runner returned to France to defend her crown in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on just her second start where she held off the challenge of Sea of Class in the closing stages of the race. Just weeks later, the four-year-old travelled across to the United States where she became the first horse in history to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Arc in the same season. It remains to be seen if Enable will remain in training next year but the temptation has to be there to try to win a third straight Arc, where she has horse racing odds of 3/1 for the Longchamp contest.

Stradivarius 
Stradivarius has won all five of his starts in 2018 to end the campaign with a perfect record. The four-year-old started the season with victory coming in the Yorkshire Cup where he shook off any cobwebs to score by three lengths. Gosden’s stayer then needed to be at his best for the Group One Ascot Gold Cup in June and he stepped up to that challenge to outbattle the French-trained Vazirabad by half a length. Stradivarius had no issues adding the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup to his name on his next two runs, while he still was at his best in October to claim the Long Distance Cup to his roll on honour this season. The chestnut colt has dominated his division and deserves full recognition for the way he has proved consistent throughout the year. With a number of two-year-old colts and fillies also shining in 2018, the future looks bright for another big season in 2019.