Saturday Tipping Competition

The final week of this month's tipping competition. It's been a close call but Capt Heathcliffe holds the lead with 28pts (free). The pro ranks have been very competitive. Clint found a nice winner to be top of the tree with 20pts. Rawnsley holds second spot (pro) with 17.5pts, Pam 14pts, Shukman 13pts, Stephenson 12pts (free), and a bevy of beauties on 11pts Winter (pro), Mark & Uncle Keith/Paul (free). Glueythepig has 8pts & Jodonovan 7pts are the only other  significant scorers in the professional ranks. Still all to play for - a juicy-priced winner will grab the cash or perhaps a tactical odds-on tips. That's the joy of our little competition there are many ways to play. 12:30 O'Clock deadline.     

Tipster selections:

1:40 Chelmsford Racing Tips (28th January) TOTEPLACEPOT MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 5)

A Maiden Stakes race over 5f on standard going. Decent prize money on offer with just five runners taking part. In many respects a tricky race. 

One horse is worth a closer look after disappointing last time out when favourite - Tavener. This March foal has been fancied on both starts to date but floundered quite badly. I'm pretty sure Phantom House Stables hold this son of Exceed And Excel in some regard. And considering this bay colt was purchased at Tattersalls' Craven Breeze-Up Sales 2014 for 70,000gns, he's proven ring-rusty and inexperienced. Most juveniles which go through this sales route are forward and ready to race, so connections must be frustrated by those formative outings. 

A slow start at Lingfield created a problem, but inexperience compounded that issue, being niggled along, then slightly short of room, turning into the straight any semblance of hope had been extinguished to the point Graham Gibbons eased down to finish second from last. 

There was good reason to expect a big run that day from Clive Washbourn's horse and a more professional race will be expected today. El Che was ahead of William Jarvis' colt on that occasion, after making a bold bid from the front and she likely to do the same. It could well be the case that Tavener would be better suited by an extra furlong - if only to give more time to find his stride. 

At the odds, I would have to take a watching brief because there isn't too much meat on the bone. However, if this three-year-old has finally got his act together he could quite easily win in style.  

Upstart kicks off Kentucky Derby trials in style

The Kentucky Derby on May 2nd is firmly on the minds of connections of Upstart after his impressive return to action in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream.


Upstart is by Flatter out of Party Silks and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November for Rick Violette and Jose Ortiz. He finished six and a half lengths and a nose behind Texas Red and Carpe Diem at Santa Anita but seems to have improved from two to three.

He drew right away from the Godolphin-owned favourite Frosted to win by five and a half lengths on his seasonal debut. He recorded a time of 1m 43.61s to land the $400,000 prize and earn 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby, putting him third overall on the list*. He was cut to 20-1 by bookmakers for the big race behind 10-1 favourite American Pharaoh with Texas Red next best at 12-1 and Dortmund at 16-1.

American Pharaoh

Trainer Bob Baffert won the Kentucky Derby in 1997 and 1998 with Silver Charm and Real Quiet. He has two leading contenders this year with American Pharoah and Dortmund.

American Pharoah was set to start one of the shortest priced favourites at the Breeders’ Cup but was forced to miss the Juvenile due to a bruised foot. He had won his previous two races, the Grade 1 Frontrunner Stakes and Del Mar Futurity. Many pundits felt that he was a certainty for the Juvenile and they may well have been right. Juvenile winner Texas Red had been beaten nearly five lengths by American Pharoah in the Frontrunner.

The son of Pioneerof The Nile swept into the lead early on and was kicked clear to beat Calculator by three and a quarter lengths in a time of 1m 44.95s. He made all the running to beat the same horse by a similar margin in the Futurity on his previous start and remains an exciting prospect.

American Pharoah’s sire was runner-up in the Kentucky Derby in 2009 for Zayat Racing. Their blue and yellow colours would also finish second with Nehro in 2011, beaten by Animal Kingdom. Pioneerof The Nile is a son of 2003 Derby runner-up Empire Maker and a grandson of 1990 Derby winner Unbridled.


Stable companion Dortmund had to work much harder to win the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in a three-way photo. Baffert was winning the race, formerly held at the now defunct Hollywood Park, for a record seventh time.

Dortmund is a son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown and just got the verdict over Firing Line and Mr Z. Out of Grade 3-placed sprinter Our Josephina, Dortmund is the best of Big Brown’s progeny to date. The most recent winner of the race to go on to glory in a Triple Crown race was Oxbow in 2012 who won the Preakness the following year. Although not as impressive on the racecourse as American Pharoah, Baffert insists that there is little between the two at home.

Texas Red

In winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by six and a half lengths, Texas Red paid a huge compliment to American Pharoah who had beaten him comprehensively in the Frontrunner Stakes. He provided trainer Keith Desormeaux with his first Breeders’ Cup winner, cutting through the field after they had gone a suicidal early pace. Carpe Diem plugged on to take second with Upstart third and Irish raider The Great War back in fourth.

El Kabeir

El Kabeir is a colt by Scat Daddy out of a mare by Unbridled’s Song. He landed the $200,000 Jerome at Aqueduct, the first recognised Derby prep race of 2015.

He had won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on his last start as a juvenile for trainer John Terranova. El Kabeir launched his bid three-wide under Chuck Lopez and drew four and three-quarter lengths clear of Nasa and Ostrolenka to earn 10 qualifying points for the Derby. He runs in the colours of Zayat Stables who also have early favourite American Pharoah and Mr Z in contention for the big race.

*The final field for the 141st Kentucky Derby will be determined by the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” eligibility system, as in the previous two seasons.

by Harvey Mayson

Saturday Tipping Competition

Most of you will have heard the sad news that one of our regular tipsters Tom Carrier [Tecbet] has passed away leaving a gap in our community. He was a good, kind man and will be sadly miss. I will make entries for Tom in his memory for this month and the annual Championship will be known as The Tecbet Champion Tipster Award so he isn't forgotten. It was good to see so many of the tipsters passing on their condolences to family and friends. The leading of this month's competition is Capt Heathcliffe (28pts) while Rawnsley (17pts) heads the pro ranks. Pam sits on 14pts, Shukman 13pts, Stephenson 12pts (free), Winter 11pts (pro), similarly on 11pts Mark & Uncle Keith/Paul (free), Clint & Glueythepig 8pts (pro), while Jodonovan 7pts (pro). I'm having internet problems so please make sure entries are forwarded on time. (12 O'Clock deadline). 

4:10 Lingfield Racing Tips (23rd January) 32RED MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 5) (3yo)

A Maiden Stakes over 1m 2f on Standard going. Fourteen runners, most lightly raced, three debutantes. A trio of fillies taking on the colts. This intriguing race affords one horse which may be worth a second glance, especially if supported in the betting. 

William Jarvis' Beau Knight wasn't fancied on debut, when finishing fourth over 8.5f at Wolverhampton. 

This son of Sir Percy was sent off a 20/1 shot and certainly needed the experience and most importantly this step up in trip.

Racing in the familiar silks of owner Dr J Walker, this horse hails from a decent family. 

William Jarvis isn't the type of trainer to run horses this time of year unless they have some hope of victory and his youngsters are noteworthy on their second start. 

This bay colt has a plum draw (1) but wouldn't want to be ring-rusty as seen on his debut. However, that experience, and further trip, is likely to inspire connections to make a bold show and perhaps, even, front run. 

The betting is very important to the chances of this January foal. The market will take time to settle and with a number of lightly-raced three-year-olds in the line-up it may be wise to wait for the cream to rise to the top. If weak in the market I would take a watching brief. However, if fancied and features a starting price of 8/1 and less, I'd give this stamina-bred horse decent each-way claims.         

Photo: Grzegorz Kmin “Wild horses”

Other websites: 
Horse Trainer Websites, Blogs, Twitter Links & Facebook Pages (Free resource)
Eric Winner - Sprint race analyst with reputation for big price winners (Free resource)

4:40 Chelmsford Racing Tips (22nd January) TOTEPLACEPOT MAIDEN AUCTION STAKES (CLASS 5) (3yo)

A Maiden Auction Stakes over 1m on standard going. Just over a handful of three-year-olds: four geldings and two colts, including a couple of debutantes. 

The last few days I've forwarded a brace of Phillip McBride tip selections and today we will see another in Virtual Reality. The tips finished respectably: runner-up and fourth place. I'm hopeful this bay gelding, a son of Virtual out of a winning mare, can go well after showing promise when fancied on debut at Wolverhampton over 7f. 

This youngster was bred by Cheveley Park Stud but went through the sales ring fetching 15,000gns when sold by Tattersalls December Yearling Sales 2013, purchase by Phillip McBride Racing. 

Virtual Reality ran pretty well on his first start when taking part in a restricted auction stakes in a small field. The form of that race is nothing out of the ordinary but on the other side of the coin this April foal was relatively fancied in the betting [4-1] and looked to need the run when starting slowly and then running on all too late to finish third. 

With just over one month on the sidelines, stepping up in distance, you can be sure this horse will be primed for a big run. 

It is interesting that McBride gives seven-pound apprentice Tom Marquand the ride. This young man has show form for the stable and looks good value for his allowance. I imagine they consider this horse is straightforward. 

It's difficult to tell what price this horse will be but if the price is big enough I'd back this horse each-way. If short, probably best watched although a bold show is expected. 

5:00 Kempton Racing Tips (21st January) 32RED.COM MAIDEN FILLIES´ STAKES (CLASS 5) (3yo+)

A Maiden Fillies Stakes over 7f on standard going. A large field of fourteen, most lightly raced with four debutantes. High Class Equine advised of P J McBride's three-year-olds the other day and we have another second-starter who could well figure. Anarchiste is a daughter of Archipenko out of a winning mare who was trained by Geoff Wragg. Anarchiste, like her mother, is owned and bred by Miss K Rausing. This chestnut filly ran over course and distance a couple of weeks ago when showing promise, finishing fourth, in what may turn out to be a fair race. Certainly, Sir Mark Prescott's winner Molly Dolly is likely to prove a talent. Phillip McBride's juveniles rarely win on debut and primed to go well second start. A wide draw (13) isn't ideal, but over this distance and with that formative experience it is hoped she will sit handy and finish in style. Must have decent each way claims. 

Each-way double:

4:30 Kempton - Littlecote Lady (7/1) 3rd
5:00 Kempton - Anarchiste (8/1) 4th

Grand National 2015 Ante-post preview

The Grand National at Aintree in April remains the highlight of the steeplechasing year and one of the most anticipated events of the whole sporting calendar. Currently, bookmakers are offering 20-1 the field in their ante-post betting lists.


The early favourite is last year’s Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor, owned by JP McManus and trained by Jonjo O’Neill. They enjoyed Aintree triumph with Don’t Push It in 2010 but suffered heartache in 2012 when the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner lost his life in a freak accident whilst attempting the big-race double.

Shutthefrontdoor had always promised to be a useful stayer and finished a close sixth in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham over four miles. He confirmed the promise of that run when winning at Fairyhouse and began his 2014-15 campaign with a comfortable victory at Carlisle.

O’Neill also has Merry King prominent in the ante-post lists after a fine run in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November. He is another dour stayer but proved disappointing last season after a similarly encouraging effort at Newbury.


Trainer Paul Nicholls ended his Grand National hoodoo with Neptune Collonges in 2012 and he looks to have an ideal candidate with Unioniste.

Like Neptune Collonges, he is a grey gelding racing in the colours of John Hales. He was trained with the Gold Cup in mind last year and although he fell short of that standard he remains a top quality handicapper, especially when the mud is flying.

Nicholls firmly believes that Rocky Creek has the class to win a Grand National and he will have benefitted from his run round in fifth place last season. Stable companion Sam Winner is also prominent in the early lists but may be handicapped out of it after some fine efforts at Grade 1 level.

Monbeg Dude

Last year’s race may be a useful guide in helping to find the 2015 Grand National winner. Pineau De Re is on course to attempt back-to-back victories in the race, a feat last achieved by Red Rum in 1973 and 1974. Runner-up Balthazar King is also being trained specifically for this race along with Alvarado and Monbeg Dude who both ran with credit in 2014.
Monbeg Dude won the Welsh National in 2013 and advertised his claims last year with a fine victory in a Grade 2 chase at Cheltenham. He survived a couple of mistakes to finish seventh in last year’s Grand National and connections will be hoping for softer ground this time.

He caught the eye when running on into fourth place in the Hennessy behind Many Clouds. He again ran well at Chepstow in December when finishing fourth behind Emperors Choice and is sure to be among the leading contenders in April.

Alvarado maintained an incredible sequence for owners Angela and William Rucker when finishing fourth last year. The Rucker family have now had a horse placed in each of the last six Grand Nationals dating back to State Of Play in 2009.

Spring Heeled

Cheltenham festival winner Spring Heeled could also be aimed at Aintree this year. Jim Culloty’s eight-year-old held off the challenge of Cause Of Causes to win the Kim Muir in March. He has since finished fifth in the Gold Cup at Sandown and fourth in the Galway Plate. Culloty may run Spring Heeled over hurdles until the weights are published for Aintree in an effort to protect his handicap mark. Good ground is the preferred surface for the son of Old Vic.

Mendip Express may just have booked his Aintree ticket when running on late to finish second to Oscar Time in the Becher Handicap Chase in December. Harry Fry’s nine-year-old has won four of his eight races under rules with his only disappointment coming when pulled up in the Scottish National last year.

The Grand National takes place at Aintree on Saturday 11th April 2015 with a TV audience expected to be in advance of 600 million people.

By Harvey Mayson

4:10 Wolverhampton Racing Tips (19th January) CORAL CONNECT MAIDEN AUCTION STAKES (TAPETA) (CLASS 5)

A Maiden Auction Stakes over 1m1f103y on Standard going. A small field of just six runners: three gelding against three fillies. It's interesting to see how Grey's Angel fairs on her second start with P J McBride. This grey daughter of Notnowcato out of a multiple-placed mare who enjoyed a trip was a cheap yearling purchase at just 4,000GNS. She was relatively fancied on debut but a slow start made life difficult and by all accounts she needed the race. McBride usually places his juveniles well on their second start and this April foal will appreciate stepping up in distance with talented apprentice Danny Brock in the saddle once more. It wouldn't be a surprise to see this horse backed and that would be a sign of confidence. It is a shame there are only two places for each-way backers but if well supported I would be hopeful Ian Pattle's charge can run well.  

Bet I Can Throw A Six

I know it's illogical but I've cracked it! After hours of practice I am confident I have increased my chance of throwing double six. It's a great little system: the harder I throw the dice the higher the score; slower then lower numbers appear. It works like magic. I can't wait to get down the casino & clean up. Well, that's what some people would have you believe and for all of its madness is it a 
phenomenon which many a bettor may use in their assessment when gambling.

Ellen Langer named this psychological effect as the illusion of control. It is a tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events even when it can be demonstrated they have no influence at all. It is a behaviour often seen in gambling and known as one of the positive illusions. This cognitive bias can also be seen within illusory superiority with regard to intelligence, performance on tasks and tests, and the possession of desirable personality traits. This phenomenon is studied in social psychology.

The illusion is more common in familiar situations where the person knows the desired outcome. If a player of craps is initially successful this feedback is likely to increase the effect, while failure may decrease or reverse it. This resembles irrational primacy effect in which people give greater influence to information that occurs earlier in a series. In stressful or competitive situation the illusion strengthens control especially when there is an emotional need to an outcome. Intriguingly, this confidence is overestimated in games determined by chance but individuals often underestimate their control when they hold an advantage. Langer's research demonstrated that participants are more likely to throw a dice harder when they need a higher number and softer for lower numbers. This study has been replicated with lottery tickets. Participants who had chosen their lottery ticket were more reluctant to part with it even when they could trade it for another with a higher chance of paying out. They were also less likely to swap tickets if they had familiar symbols ( lucky numbers, birthdays etc). It is important to remember that these tickets - although random - were instrumental in the  behaviour affecting their win chance.

Langer explained her findings in terms of confusion between skill and chance situations. In essence, participants' judgements were based on ''skill cues'' and made all the stronger when associated with games of skill. However, Suzanne Thompson proposed that judgements about control were based on an intention to create an outcome and a relationship between the action and outcome. This can be seen with playing slot machine where there is an intention to win but also an action by pressing a button. This control heuristic could be seen with the old-style one armed bandits which a player would change their style with regard to a given ''need'' (I'm always lucky when I do this behaviour...) The self-regulatory theory suggests we cope with a lack of control by falsely attributing self control of the situation.

Taylor and Brown argue that positive illusions are adaptive as they help motivate people to persist at a task when they might give up. In fact, optimistic self-appraisals of our capability can be advantageous but only in situations where control is possible.