THE BOZmail – JANUARY JAMBOREE
Welcome to a nineteen day play in TheBozmail Penny Arcade. Some light hearted relief after the toils of the past 13 months. A breather before the 2020 cycle begins.
You only need a bank of around 5 points for the whole nineteen days and the standard back stake will be 0.1pt with a few 0.01pt acca bets (i.e. a quid if like me you play to a hundred quid per point). There will be occasional higher stake banker lays to balance things out and keep us in profit if the stabs at wild returns don’t fire. Strap yourself in to your seatbelts and away we go!! Let’s see what we can win!
I want to start with a traditional BOZmail feature that hasn’t overly fired in recent years about which I feel particularly bullish in 2020. The Cheltenham Festival Yankee. It was a cornerstone of early BOZmails and landed a couple of touches (after which several publications paid me to publish my fancies for following years – not least The Sporting Life,Betting @ Betfair.Com and the Betting School’s Insider magazine) but has largely failed to fire in recent times as I have failed to find the BestMate/Binocular/ Coneygree/ Sprinter Sacre of yesteryears i.e. The Blue Riband horse extraordinaire who stands above his or her peers at the greatest equine event of them all – The Cheltenham Gold Cup festival.
I’ve got a Champion Hurdle horse and a Gold Cup horse this year though. Plus a female entrant in the Arkle and a wild card fourth candidate who could go in any one of three races. Most importantly there isn’t a prohibitive price in sight and the combined odds of the four-timer currently stands at 55,692/1!
Got to be worth a quid of anybody’s money if you can find a bookmaker to accept the bet now. Like all ante-post bets, it comes with the risk of all runners making it to the starting line in March but if you like this sort of thing, I can hand on heart say I’m feeling like I haven’t felt for a few years about it. Knee trembly. What’s more, you’ll know the four horses if you’ve followed the BOZmail for any length of time now. They are – in order of bullishness ascendancy order:
1/ LOSTINTRANSLATION: 8/1 for the Gold Cup
That’s a price you wouldn’t have expected to see before Xmas. He was 11/4 fav before the King George but the market belted him out after his perceived Pulled Up flop. I wasn’t overly dispirited by his performance at Kempton and have watched it back a few times to understand what went on and see it very much differently to the market and even differently to what we are being told by trainer and jockey (never believe all you hear them say! They are often in the game of getting a better price!!).
Don’t forget that Colin Tizzard always told us he had a potential next Gold Cup star on his hands. And I agreed. That surge up the Cheltenham hill to beat Defi Du Seuil first time over two miles had future Gold Cup written all over it. So did this year’s Betfair Chase win over Bristol De Mai when he misjudged the second last after a serious cruise round and looked like he might have done his chance only to find that ‘finishing kick’ again at the death to overhaul the Haydock Park standing dish that is Bristol De Mai. Those are his top two performances to date and both to my mind qualified to justify him as favourite for this year’s Blue Riband. It is to our advantage not detriment that the King George didn’t work out. What went wrong?
Well jockey Robbie Power says the horse always wasn’t travelling like he had at Haydock and trainer Colin Tizzard is on record reporting awareness of a ‘flapping palate’ with suggestions that a wind op is imminent. Now don’t get me wrong, there are two people who know a whole load more about horses and Lostintranslation in particular than I could ever know. But they don’t always tell us the truth or at least the whole truth. Henderson is the master of that and Binocular his finest coup in that sphere. Wasn’t even running in the race when he won the Champion Hurdle so that his ante post price hit 1000/1 on the exchanges if you remember. But he turned up nevertheless and won in a procession. Never believe all you hear.
My version of the King George comes from a race reader’s perspective without the intimate knowledge that comes from training or riding the horse and with a healthy Journalist’s acknowledgement that I don’t necessarily believe all I hear and read knowing full well that no trainer worth his salt is going to tell the world his innermost secrets. Not lying necessarily of course. Just being economic with the truth in best politician’s mode.
I thought Lostintranslation ran exactly the sort of race I expected him to run in the King George with the possible caveat that I had hoped he would avoid the jumping blip at a crucial moment that has happened in a fair few of his defeats to date. Tizzard’s horses are always prone to that. Something in the way he schools perhaps?
They go for their fences so that when they get it right they win big races but only takes one error to lose the Championship races. Who could forget Cue Card’s Gold Cup?
Would have won in a canter but for the small matter of breasting the fence at the top of the hill. More like trying to plough straight through it!
Lostintranslation is a better jumper than that but has had a tendency to fiddle the odd fence often when the pace is upped and on. I think he was half inched at Kempton. Yes he had struggled out the back early but that was him just having to work to stay with the pace Cyrname set. That was always going to happen. Over two miles five, Cyrname would have beaten him like he beat Waiting Patiently. By a country mile.
But Lostintranslation – the Gold Cup stayer if ever you saw one – had worked to stay in touch and over the fourth last, with Cyrname’s stamina just starting to wobble – he came away from his landing in the style of a quickening stayer. Gained on Clan Des Obeaux who was his danger in the race read anyways and a proven course and distance Championship stayer so that they approached the third last just a head apart with Cyrname seriously starting to come back to them. Lostintranslation took off same time as Clan Des Obeaux as horses often do even when a tad behind and he was consequently overreaching at it and crashed his hind legs through losing serious momentum and a vital couple of lengths in the process. Jockeys job to try to avoid the half inch. All in the timing at certain points of a race. I suspect a totally truthful Robbie Power (who is often in the business of blaming himself for a horse’s defeat but there was a million quid on the line here and maybe it was prudent to keep schtum) might have took the blame but he did also pull up pretty quick after as he felt the stuffing going out of his mount’s run.
Would he have won without that error? 50-50 for me. First or second anyways. He had Cyrname covered so it qualifies for me as a decent prep for the Gold Cup given that we know he is a Cheltenham horse where the race gallop will be less about speed and the winner will be the one that stays the course. Yes, he’ll have to jump better but he won’t have to do that early work he had to do here just to stay in touch.
Leastways I suspect not. It depends who the Irish send and they do have Delta Work who looks a speedy sort.
But the King George changes nothing for me. Yes, his failure to win it takes him out from 11/4 fav but in my book to around 4 or 5 to one. He’s on at 8/1 and I’ve seen some nine. Keep your ear to the ground about whether that wind op takes place. I have my doubts personally. But if they are really hearing a flapping palate then a quick op will sort that. I just think he was outpaced early though as you’d expect him to be in a race containing Cyrname. Just my perspective! And when it comes with gift wrapping on it, often worth a punt!
2/ VERDANA BLUE: 33/1 for the Champion Hurdle
If Leg 1 is outstanding value, leg 2 takes us through the roof although it is most certainly a ground dependant one. Soft ground on the day and Verdana won’t win.
That’s why I keep the stake of this bet for now at a quid (Four timer only. The Yankee is kept for the day before Festival starts when likely ground and entrants are known).
We bet now because of the prices. And because this is Henderson. Who has the 3/1 favourite for the race now in Xmas hurdle winner Epatante. On my figures, Verdana beats him on goodish ground just like she beat Buveur D’Air in last year’s Xmas hurdle. And no doubting Henderson has always seen Verdana as a potential Champion Hurdle winner if the ground comes up right as it did at Kempton 2018 and afterwards for the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr. She was entered at early stage this year after running fifth in last years (on soft ground). That race was same as this year’s Xmas hurdle which was Verdana’s first spin of the year and both races were marked by how brilliantly she travelled into contention only for the last two furlongs, when quickening up speed was required,to turn into a flattening out. Soft ground blunts the acceleration in the pace of a race finish for many horses. Definitely applies to Verdana. When ground is soft her speed is hampered (same on the flat. She’ll be the first Champion hurdler for an age to have done prep by winning flat races!). She still runs ok though as she did in both last year’s Champion hurdle and this year’s Xmas hurdle. On good or good to soft ground, this is my nap bet of the year. She has the current fav covered plus last year’s winner. The danger is in fact Silver Streak who has headed her in both those races she lost on soft mentioned above but also has times to challenge on better ground.
I won’t have Verdana beat in a true race on good ground though. Nor I suspect will Henderson. 3 or 4 to one favourite in my book in that scenario. 33/1 is a chance not to be missed!
3/ MAIRE BANRIGH: 25/1 for The Arkle
Legs 3 and 4 are more speculative at this stage. The Arkle is a target race for the Irish and thus won’t be an easy one for the Skelton’s to pick up as their first Blue Riband crown. And Maire Banrigh hasn’t beaten much so far (Baddesley Knight was backed off the boards to beat her on Sunday though after seriously impressing at Wincanton. Maire batted her away like an annoying wasp!) and has perhaps a few more prep races to come when we’ll know more. She’s in though because 25/1 is massive for a horse that jumps like she does. In the Sprinter Sacre mold. Flawless and although I was rude about her jockey in the run up, there is perhaps an aspect of this being the horse Harry Skelton has been waiting for. He does have supreme confidence in himself and likes horses who attack their fences and if nothing else is required, he’ll presumably have the nerve to stay on board and let the mare win her Blue Riband the way he did on Sunday. What you might call an armchair ride. Harry is good at getting horses jumping mind. And he’s strong. Just when things get tight and a decision needs to be made that he shows his middle ranking quality. Maire did all the thinking for him on Sunday. She’s that good. Not the cert of the bet because the opposition will be strong and the stable/jockey combo do have question marks. But head and shoulders the most exciting horse in the bet. Maire Banrigh has the potential to sky rocket. Of course the Skelton’s have another live Arkle contender in Nube Negra. There may yet be more to unfold on this one. But Maire Banrigh is out and out my candidate for horse of the year.
4/ THYME HILL: 6/1 for the Albert Bartlett – bigger prices for the Supreme Novices and the Ballymore.
Second in the horse of the year so far category is Defi Sacre but I can’t include him in this bet as he has no Cheltenham entry as I write. Watch that space. Thyme Hill is a seriously good stand in although he might make the bet hard to get accepted at this stage as his likely race is tough to predict. They have him 6/1 favourite for the three mile Albert Bartlett. His attitude in winning three from three so far this year has him up there. A novicey jumper still but a hardy battler and already Cheltenham proven from his second start this year and his third in Envoi Allen’s Champion Bumper. The entries in the Supreme and the Ballymore suggest they aren’t sure yet what optimum trip is but staying would be my guess too going on the way he ran at Newbury over the weekend. All the best work at the end including overcoming a horlicks at the last.
Gets a champion ride too and Hobbs a trainer meticulous at entering his charges in the right races ultimately. Maybe more prep runs to come on that score as they experiment with optimum distance. We shall see. All the vibes of a quality animal whatever and as good a fourth leg for the bet as I’ve had in many a year.
So just a quid on the four timer for now if you can get it accepted. Updates on it will come via the BOZmail in weeks ahead as things develop. The Yankee is deferred to the Sunday before the Festival. And whether you go each way is up to you. The Boz is playing this to win at this stage. That bullish and the prices are that good! It will get written up and published for various outlets in weeks ahead but you are first to receive. If it cops, I shall expect you to never forget the damage you did to the British economy!!
0.01pt FOUR TIMER for above four to all win at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival
Shortlist Exotic Bet of the Day:
I had intended to publish a full shortlist from Cheltenham on day one of the January jamboree. And if not from Cheltenham,then from Fakenham. But, as is not unusual in bank holiday racing, both cards stink as bookie’s benefits. Ultra competitive races with a plethora of losers on board and a couple of decent winners if you are lucky!
I may be doing a January Jamboree but Less Is More is still my blood now so I’ve selected just two races from Cheltenham to go at for day one. No carnage assured if I get them wrong! And no coincidence that either race might have made LIM bet of the day had that exercise not been rested for the month (the later January weeks are the main hassle).
I like this race because I’ve been working with a colleague on a new horse racing forecasts system for a few months now. We go live with it in 2020 when trials are complete. The Shortlist can be good at forecasts and in this race it narrows down to CHAMP & PAINT THE DREAM which looks worthy of a play to me. The odds on fav who should cream it if his win over Black Op is anything to go by and a 33/1 outsider with a live chance of a big run in second if his LTO at Sandown is anything to go by.
Form of that race working out ok with the Henderson horse finishing fifth winning since.
Two other horses in this also race read and market fancied. Midnight Shadow can have jumping issues however and is no value at 7/2 given that he has a wealth of improvement to find to beat Champ and only comes level on times with PAINT THE DREAM who I’d give more scope for improvement also. All the value is with O’Brien’s horse for second. Deyrann de Carjac was third in the Black Op race that Champ won and could finish second here giving his best. So at the prices, he’s in my saver.
My proposal for the play is:
0.1pt STRAIGHT FORECAST – CHAMP to beat PAINT THE DREAM
0.1pt STRAIGHT FORECAST – CHAMP to beat DEYRANN DE CARJAC
Those of you who prefer trading races and/or making markets on BETFAIR may have already seen that an alternative play is to back PAINT THE DREAM & DEYRANN DE CARJAC and cover the stakes with a lay on Midnight Shadow leaving Champ as just a small winner. His jumping is still novicey and Cheltenham might find him out so there is value in the LIM style alternative. As you know however, LIM is being rested so The BOZ plays the two value forecasts to small fixed odds stakes as his idea of the most likely outcome after race read!
To Follow Bet of the Day:
WELSH SAINT @ 2/1
Up in class and a serious test. Imperial Alcazar a big danger & Redford Road the class of the race if he can give the weight. Henderson the master trainer however believes in this horse and that Cat Tiger form has worked out splendidly as we know.
His subsequent 15 length win at Warwick was ridden by Nico in a manner suggesting he knew what sort of horse he was on. One who could win a race like this. Not all that attractive pricewise or as fav in such a potentially hot race. Also Cheltenham debut to overcome. So if you are used to trading these to follows by now, probably best as that. Take the best price you can get and hedge when offered preferential odds either before the off or in running.
On the other hand, this is the January Jamboree to small stakes. The BOZ is quite keen because of the trainer and the Cat Tiger formline. He might let it run!!
0.1pt WIN on WELSH SAINT @ 2/1