Entries & Recent Form

You really can bet on just about anything these days!  I see that a book has now opened on who is going to buy the Tote and Betfred have been installed as the 7/4 favourites - it is a shame that the Tote aren't running a book as there may be some clues in the prices!  If the sale of the Tote does go through for £200,000,000 racing will get about £50,000,000 - the problem is that while it is a substantial sum, it will not go very far in a nationwide industry.  The other problem is of course, when the Tote has been sold and once the racing industry gets it's cut, that's the end of it, no more handouts, nothing more to sell.

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Grands_Crus_Cheltenham2
What a performance from Grands Crus at Cheltenham on Saturday!  Our six year won a Grade 2 hurdle by 10 lengths without needing to come off the bridle.  He took a good hold under Tom Scudamore, but still found plenty when asked to go and win his race turning into the straight.  It seems that everyone who watched it is talking about his performance and it certainly seems like Big Buck's has a credible opponent in the World Hurdle.  You can still get 3/1 about "George" and I think that price will shorten up yet further by the Festival - don't forget...make sure that you get all your ante-post bets on with the "non runner, no bet" proviso.  That way if your selection doesn't make it to the Festival (and let's be honest, a lot can still happen with six weeks left to go), you will get your money back.

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This Wednesday Aintree will be revealing the entries for this year's John Smiths Grand National.  The weights will be out a couple of weeks later and I really do look forward to seeing them.  Obviously it is not like a normal handicap, with senior assessor Phil Smith taking previous course form into account, as well as trying to encourage some of the higher class entries to run by using his discretion to compress their usual rating.  This approach has certainly paid off in terms of quality as there are some very good horses that don't even get into the race anymore.

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As soon as racing had drawn to a close at Doncaster yesterday the course staff started to cover the track.  Hopefully the six hours they spent applying fleeces to the ground will reap dividends by allowing this afternoon's meeting to go ahead.  If you were watching any of the racing from their meeting yesterday, I am sure you will have noticed that the 4.10pm race was a bit of a farce - the sun was low in the sky and so all of the hurdles were removed in the home straight and only four flights were jumped in total!

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Shaking_Hands_Warwick_Jan_11

We had another winner yesterday afternoon when Shaking Hands won the staying handicap chase at Warwick.  It was a really gruelling test over 3m2f on pretty soft ground and stamina was certainly at a premium.  Fortunately our runner has that in spades and having briefly looked in trouble for a moment, once Tom Scudamore got after him he stayed on strongly to record a ten length victory.  It was hard work, but he looks capable of winning again over extreme distances.

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I was hoping for an early birthday present yesterday evening when watching West Ham playing Birmingham in the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final.  Sadly it was not to be as the Mighty Hammers lost in extra time - now at least they can concentrate on trying to stay in the Premiership and winning the FA Cup.  Unfortunately their squad just isn't big enough to win three trophies!...who am I kidding?

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There is a fascinating article in the Racing Post today all about the Piggott family.  It's like the bloodline of who's who in racing that goes right back to John Day in 1767 - there are great jockeys and trainers right the way through the generations.  It is quite clear that Lester was born to be a jockey, speaking of which, did you know that he rode a Triumph Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham Festival in 1954 aboard Prince Charlemagne.  He had the best record of any of the National Hunt jockeys before it was realised that he was far too valuable to risk over hurdles and instead started competing on the flat where he was to land eleven championships and countless Classics.  It is well worth picking up a copy of today's paper just for this article alone.

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