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Romford's racing preview - Royal Ascot 2019 - Day 3
at 11:21 20 Jun 2019

I hate rain. New Graduate will win next time out on good ground. But unfortunately the first big bet of the week simply did not take to the conditions. He wasn’t helped by being drawn in stall one which turned out to be on the wrong side to be on anyway. Today I am expecting a big day for one owner in particular. Hopefully, today can be an improvement on a tough Royal Ascot for the punters so far. Still... plenty of big bets still to come across the remaining three days. We march on…

2:30 – Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
I’m actually relatively confident here. SUNDAY SOVEREIGN (5/2) has both looked very good and the form is stacking up. The horse he beat on his second start (Arizona) came out and won the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday. Sunday Sovereign has won on soft ground easily so if it doesn’t dry out in time, it won’t hurt his chances and he is taken to get favourite backers off to a good start on Gold Cup day. I’m on at 5/1 but I have gone in again at 5/2 since. I think he may be too classy for the British and Irish contingent in a weak looking renewal. His chances have been made easier by his two biggest rivals antepost having to miss the race and I expect him to just be too fast and too good here. A relatively confident NAP to start the day. The danger for me, and worth a few quid each way at a tasty 14/1, is the American raider MAVEN (14/1). I love backing Wesley Ward’s horses in this and cannot ignore him at that price when he’s rumoured to be working very well of late. Misty Grey may be best of the rest based on the speed he showed at Epsom in the Woodcote dropping back in trip but the ground may not be fast enough for him. The lump may be down on Sunday Sovereign but Maven is a tidy bet each way too at huge odds. A huge start to day three in prospect.

3:05 – Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
As group threes go, this contest is as good as it gets with multiple capable of going on to bigger and better things. King Ottaker beat a good field at Newbury before tiring late in the Chester Vase. FOX CHAIRMAN (4/1) was another who was beaten at Chester but he was unlucky in running that day and the winner franked the form on Tuesday when winning the St James’ Palace. He looked useful when winning on his debut and has major potential. Cape of Good Hope represents Aiden O’Brien and was fourth in the French Derby last time. The form of Sangarius and Roseman was given a boost when their victor at Sandown was a close second in a group 1 earlier this week. Kick On may be bets of the rest as one who will appreciate this slower ground than that of his run.

3:40 – Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
Plenty of these are unknown on the likely softer ground with Fleeting the market favourite after a good run when stepped up in trip in the Oaks. She rattled home that day and looked every inch a stayer so she should go well. Frankellina is said to be improving with every run but will need to in order to overturn that form with Fleeting. Star Catcher and Sparkle Roll both disappointed somewhat in the Musidora behind Frankellina and Fanny Logan doesn’t look good enough for this. Shambolic has run two solid races in listed contests this season and could go well at a big price. QUEEN POWER (3/1) instead gets the vote making it three King Power Racing horses for me in the first three races. She has looked like a staying type and ought to have won this season here already but came too late. If she handles that step up in trip as expected, and is fine on the ground, she must go very close.

4:20 – Ascot Gold Cup (Group 1)
STRADIVARIUS (5/4) goes in search of back to back Gold Cups after his thrilling win in the race last year during his unbeaten campaign. He won at this meeting in 2017 and is the best stayer on the planet. However, the task this year is on both slower ground and against younger unexposed horses in Dee Ex Bee and Cross Counter. The former was a good three year old but has excelled this season as a stayer whilst the latter oozes class and won the Melbourne and Meydan Gold Cup over the winter break. Both are talented stayers but may just fail to the champion who has a perfect blend of talent and determination. His ability to quicken when needed is good but his gutsy nature to stay in front up the run-in is better and he gets the vote. Flag of Honour and Capri go for Aiden O’Brien but neither have won this season in five starts between the pair of them and it’s hard to see them beating the favourite here. Master Of Reality may be best of the rest at huge odds.

5:00 – Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap)
By complete chance, based on the form, I fancy another King Power Racing horse here in HERO HERO (14/1) who won easily at Chester last time. He will handle any cut in the ground and is my first selection in an open-looking handicap. Beatboxer soared home late last time but is inconsistent whilst Dubai Legacy is one of few who has run well on soft if the going remains that way. Velorum ha slooked good this season on a sound surface and Eclipse Storm looked likely to enjoy this step up in trip when finishing strongly last time at the Curragh. The second selection though is for MOTAFAAWIT (12/1) who beat the reopposing Awe. That form was boosted when that rival won last time and he should go well in an intriguing renewal of the Britannia.

5:35 – King George V Stakes (Handicap)
King Power Racing have two more runners hereto end the day and I fancy one of them to go well at a nice each way price. Fox Premier and GOOD BIRTHDAY (12/1) represent the cash-splashing ownership with the latter holding a big chance if seeing out the new trip – which admittedly is an unknown. Fox Premier is on a hat-trick but this is tougher. Sir Ron Priestley is another on a winning run but cannot afford to lose ground at the start again as he did last time at Haydock. Sinjaari is bred to stay so might go one better that his recent second whilst CONSTANTINOPLE (9/2) has always looked like a staying type. He has shown glimpses of class and is my second dart in another tough betting heat on a day I’m hoping will be memorable for the King Power Racing ownership.

Day 3 bets:
2:30 – Sunday Sovereign (NAP) (5/1 antepost & 5/2) & Maven (14/1 each way)
3:05 – Fox Chairman (4/1)
3:40 – Queen Power (3/1)
4:20 – Stradivarius (5/4)
5:00 – Hero Hero (14/1 each way) & Motafaawit (12/1 each way)
5:35 – Good Birthday (12/1 each way) & Constantinople (9/2 each way)
Romford's racing preview - Royal Ascot 2019 - Day 2
at 13:18 19 Jun 2019

Circus Maximus! Who would have predicted that? It really highlights how utterly brilliant Aiden O’Brien is though to get the colt to win a group 1 on the biggest stage just weeks after running half a mile further in the Derby. Incredible feat from an incredible trainer! Betting wise, Phoenix of Spain was beaten as was hoped for. Always good to see the lays beaten. Drifted out from the 2.68 laid at out to 3.3 at the off. Blue Point was an antepost winner and Battaash got in for the reverse forecast. Magic Wand was a placer but asides from that, no luck on the opening card of the week. Onto Wednesday now and hopefully plenty of winners…

2:30 – Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)
The absence of long-term antepost favourites Lady Pauline and Chasing Dream is a blow to this contest which now looks wide open. Anna’s Fast and KIMARI (15/2) represent US raider Wesley Ward who has an excellent record with his juvenile fillies at this meeting. I have her antepost at 10/1 each way but feel she’s still a fair price at the time of writing. Godolphin saddles four with DIVINE SPIRIT (11/1) and FINAL SONG (11/2) likely the best of them. The former won well at Windsor in the style of a useful filly (her Timespeed figure was high for a debutant) whereas the latter won on soft ground over course and distance which bodes well for her chances. Theory Of Time was the pick for James Doyle ahead of the selection but has been drifting markedly since the rain began to fall. Final Song showed a liking for the soft ground on her only start with a fine turn of foot and that form has been franked since. Flippa The Strippa and Shadn may be the best of the rest at bigger prices. It’s undoubtedly a tough race to choose from but my main fancy would have beeen Kimari if the ground was faster. Her run at Keeneland was good on the clock and, like most, is full of potential in an intriguing opener where I’m happy to throw three darts.

3:05 - Queen's Vase (Group 2)
This is a fascinating renewal of this group 2 which last year served as Kew Gardens’ breakthrough moment before going on to win the St Leger. Aiden O’Brien runs four here and two have similar profiles to last year’s winner – Western Australia and NORWAY (10/3). Western Australia won last time at Naas in a listed race but this is much tougher whereas Norway comes here after two promising runs at Chester and then in the Derby. This steep up in trip looks likely to suit and he is the first of my two plays in this race. The second, JALMOUD (NAP at 7/1), is an each way bet to nothing at four places with Skybet. In fact, on the likely ground, I would be very surprised if there are four horses better than him here so he’s each way thievery. He’s full of potential and looked classy last time when winning at Longchamp in a group 2. That win came on soft ground and he finished strongly so this step up in trip will surely suit. I really fancy him to run a big race here and the extra place with Skybet is the way to go. Nate The Great and Eminent Authority may be suited by this stiff test.

3:40 - Prince Of Wales's Stakes (Group 1)
Assuming that all of the trainer’s allow theirs to run here today (I’m looking at you here William Haggas), this looks to be the race of the week. Magical vs SEA OF CLASS (4/1) vs Crystal Ocean vs Waldgeist. Enable asides, it doesn’t get much better than that for European older middle-distance racing. Let’s start with Magical… she’s probably the one to beat. She’s race-fit after three wins from three this season; she’s got classy form here at Ascot based on her win in the Fillies’ and Mares’ last season; and she is trained by the master Aiden O’Brien with this a long-term target. There aren’t many things to knock her with other than price. She’s 13/8 for beating Flag Of Honour twice this season – albeit easily. For that reason, I just have to take her on. My selection at the time of writing (12:04pm for anyone wondering) isn’t even confirmed to run but is the William Haggas trained Sea Of Class. She was brilliant last season with her flying finishes and picked up and Irish Oaks among her haul. She was desperately unlucky in the Arc to go down a nose to Enable despite a troublesome passage and that is her main target this year. Assuming Haggas lets her take her chance on the softened ground today, I still think she may have the talent to win. If she doesn’t run, I’d be having a late bet at around 7/2 (I would expect) on Crystal Ocean who has run well here previously and has looked better than ever this season in his two early warm-up races. He’s deserving of a group 1 so goes here rather than the Hardwicke which would’ve been a penalty kick for him on Saturday. Waldgeist has bundles of talent and is a massive danger at his best but seems to run his worst races when asked to travel abroad and that nagging doubt is enough to steer clear of him. Zabeel Prince won a group 1 last time and is in the form of his life whilst the other three need huge improvement to figure in a race to saviour.

4:20 - Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2)
This fillies’ group 2 really doesn’t look like a betting proposition but the one I have fallen on is PRETTY BABY (11/) who looked very game when holding on last time. The step up in mile will be fine and she may hold them all off the front. She’s susceptible to something classier getting up late such as likely favourite I Can Fly but is a good each way bet with four places on offer. It’s not a race that hugely excites me but I think the smartest gable in the race is to go with the rock solid each way bet rather than the unreliable but classy favourite and so Pretty Baby gets the tentative nod. Agretera won a handicap at this meeting last year whereas Rawdaa comes here after giving Lah Ti Dar a fright at York.

5:00 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap)
The first of the antepost bigger bets is upon us. Cards on the table… I’m worried by the rain for NEW GRADUATE (7/1) who was into 4/1 earlier this week. I’m on each way at 10s as I do feel he’s a group horse in a handicap. However, will he cope with soft ground? His latest run at Ripon is very smart form with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th all winning decent races after and he beat them eased down by five lengths. He’s up 15lbs for that but that may not stop him if he’s as good as I think he is. The ground is the only worry. My other antepst bet on the race (albeit smaller) was RAISING SANDS (7/1) at 14/1 which looks nice now in hindsight. The straight mile at Ascot suits and the rain is perfect for him. He ought to go very close. Chief Ironside was an eyecatcher at Epsom when third in a group 3 on Derby Day. Mordin gets his ground but may lack the class to win outright but should give a good account of himself whilst Robin of Navan is a previous group 1 winner which is remarkable for a horse back in a handicap.

5:35 – Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
A nightmare final race for punters closes the show on day two with Temple of Heaven one of many who are unbeaten and could be anything. Things didn’t go swimmingly last time for him with a troubled run as well as the horse losing a shoe so it was a gutsy effort to win. Platinum Star was beaten by subsequent Woodcote winner Pinatubo before winning well at Leicester and may be above average. Summer Sands ran well in a race at York earlier this season that many believe was the best race of the season for two year olds so far. Karak and Foolish Humor shouldn’t be ignored for American raider Wesley Ward but the rain dents their hopes somewhat. On the likely soft ground, the surprise vote goes for IFFRAAZ (14/1) who won well on heavy ground at Carlisle and Frankie Dettori takes the mount. If they go too fast early on, as is likely with the two American horses in the field, it will take a horse who is strong in the conditions to last home and Iffraaz could be the one.

Day 2 bets:
2:30 – Kimari (10/1 each way antepost), Final Song (11/2) & Divine Spirit (10/1 each way)
3:05 – Jalmoud (NAP at 13/2 each way 4-places Skybet) & Norway (10/3)
3:40 – Sea Of Class (antepost at 4.6)
4:20 – Pretty Baby (11/1 each way 4-places)
5:00 – New Graduate (10/1 each way antepost) & Raising Sands (14/1 each way antepost)
5:35 – Iffraaz (14/1 each way)
Romford's racing preview - Royal Ascot 2019 - Day 1
at 10:43 18 Jun 2019

Here we go again! I am back. Another big meeting, another preview to get stuck into and another chance for plenty of winners. With five days of high quality racing, hopes are high for a great week of punting - starting with a fantastic Tuesday card with three tasty group ones on the menu.

2:30 – Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1)
The extravaganza kicks off in style with a group one for older horses on the straight mile with the look of a wide-open contest. As is often the case, the Lockinge at Newbury has acted as a decent trial for this with plenty of the field again reappearing here. Mustashry was the winner that day for Sir Michael Stoute and a similar performance would be a tough act to beat. However, a repeat of his clear career-best is not guaranteed here and is surely a favourite worth taking on. BARNEY ROY (6/1) was narrowly beaten on his return to racing after proving infertile at stud but showed a good turn of foot to win at Longchamp last month. If he’s back to the form that made him a St James’ Palace winner two years ago at this meeting, he would undoubtedly be the one to beat. He’s taken to have retained enough class to win this weak-looking renewal and start the week on a high for Godolphin. Le Brivido comes here after being well-supported for this antepost after a promising run in the aforementioned Lockinge and has high-class course form. LAURENS (6/1) finished a good second that day and she will be spot-on for this. She’s worth a bet at a very fair 6/1 and I have taken two to go against the field. Last year’s winner Accidental Agent goes for the double but will need luck in running whilst Lord Glitters ran flat at Newbury. Hazapour is two for two at this trip and is a lively contender to a fascinating start to Royal Ascot 2019.

3:05 – Coventry Stakes (Group 2)
Monoski looked imperious when winning easily at Pontefract and is a threat to all in this typically competitive renewal of the Coventry Stakes. Arizona heads the market for Aiden O’Brien after routing his rivals at the Curragh on his second start. He cost 260,000 Euros as a yearling and looked like a smart prospect on his latest start. If finding more improvement, he would be hard to beat but a chance is taken on THREAT (3/1) being above average. He’s clearly highly though of with Richard Hannon and if overcoming his inexperience, he surely goes close. Coase is another well thought of in his yard (Hugo Palmer) and his win last time at Carlisle has been franked. Guildsman looked good at Ascot but the ground was soft that day and this is a different kettle of fish. Makyon is one who looks hugely overpriced and has each way claims at 33/1.

3:40 – King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)
An absolute belter of a sprint to saviour now as the 1-2-3 from last year go head to head in a rematch to be the fastest sprinter in European racing. Either winning would be a fine result for me antepost but the nod on the day goes to BATTAASH (9/4) who is undoubtedly the best on his day. His temperament can be questioned and he has boiled over here previously. If handling the preliminaries, expect him to shorten dramatically before the race starts. He was second last year but was taken on for the lead early on and if settling better here, can get the revenge a horse of hi nature deserves. He is definitely a horse deserving of winning this huge prize as his talent is unquestionable. He did look at his brilliant best in his warm-up for this at Haydock in the Temple Stakes and is the one to beat. Blue Point bids to defend his crown and has had a productive winter in Dubai with a hat-trick of wins – the latter being a Group 1. If Battaash cannot settle early, Blue Point will look to pounce late and the stiff finish at the track will play to his strength of being able to stay further. Mabs Cross was third last year and the admirable filly never runs a bad race. She’s improved incredibly in the last year and a half but may lack the class of the big two. She could be the bet in the ‘without the big two’ market if that takes your fancy but will flash home late so might need luck in running. Imprimis goes for America and the international expert on At The Races reckons he’s the one for forecasts and tricasts with the big two and is a big fan of his. I have had a small play on this angle (forecasts and tricasts with Battash and Blue Point) as I was impressed in his win last time despite going wide as well as missing the break a fraction. He could certainly outrun his price. The rest are all held on form but Equilateral has often shaped like he has better to come and could run on for a place if Imprimis disappoints and Mabs Cross doesn’t get the clear passage she will need.

4:20 – St James’ Palace Stakes (Group 1)
Operation get the favourite (Phoenix of Spain) beaten! I have laid him at 2.6 and anything beating him would be a good result. I think that was far too short and I’m not surprised to see him drift slightly in the recent days. He was flattered by a good draw and a clear run at the Curragh when winning the Irish 2000 Guineas and must back up that clear personal best. I’m happy to take him on. King Of Comedy has trod the path of last year’s winner of this Without Parole with a minor win followed up in the Heron Stakes at Sandown. He will need to improve on those runs but has plenty of scope to do so and could be a danger. Shaman was a good second to Persian King in the French 2000 Guineas and looks classy but connections would’ve wanted rain for him. The vote instead goes for last year’s champion two year old TOO DARN HOT (9/4). John Gosden believes he should never have run in the Dante at York when second. He then came out quickly after and followed up that effort just 9 days later in the Irish 2000 Guineas. He was slightly unfortunate in running that day but wouldn’t have beat Phoenix of Spain anyway as the winner had gone. However, Too Darn Hot is expected to be back to his brilliant best here and if so, would win. He proved himself better than Phoenix of Spain last year and as long as he hasn’t plateaued, can reverse that form from The Curragh.

5:00 – Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
A change in tempo now as we go from the fast and the furious to a staying handicap. Willie Mullins has a great record in this race and relies solely on Buildmeupbuttercup who won two bumpers and a maiden hurdle so has some ability. However, she’s only that price as it’s a Ryan Moore ridden Willie Mullins horse. I’m happy to take her on at the head of the market. Fun Mac was second in this four years ago and warmed up for the race in a mud bath renewal of the Chester Cup in diabolical conditions when fifth. Coeur De Lion was ahead of him that day but he’s one who relishes the softer ground and connections will be disappointed the ground has dried out. Ulster is unexposed whilst Kerosin is an admirable sort but the nod goes to MENGLI KHAN (7/1). Gigginstown have few runners at Royal Ascot so this entry was more than suprising. He was an excellent novice hurdler in 2018 and set a good standard as a novice chaser this year too. He looked useful on the flat before his move to Ireland for jumping purposes and could be a huge price. If settling into a rhythm, he could really shorten in running and may be classy enough to win for Gordon Elliott. Batts Rock deserves a mention as a lively each way contender.

5:35 – Wolferton Stakes (Listed)
MAGIC WAND (NAP at 5/1) ran her best race last season at this meeting and seemed to relish the faster surface that day. Things didn’t go to plan after but back at Ascot on good ground, I think she is a cracking bet at 5/1 to win this. It may be a listed contest but only in name as this is a good renewal with 2018 Irish Derby hero Latrobe in the field. Addeybb would have gone very well but prefers softer ground whilst Elaqam still has questions to answer on consistency. Riven Light is talented and deserves a crack at this whilst First Nation often shapes well. Mountain Angel done me a nice turn at Epsom last month but seems to run his bets races at that track and this is a tough ask up in class.

Day 1 bets:
2:30 – Barney Roy (6/1) and Laurens (6/1)
3:05 – Threat (3/1)
3:40 – Battaash (antepost) and Blue Point (antepost) and forecasts and tricasts with Imprimis
4:20 – LAY – Phoenix of Spain (2.6) and win bet Too Darn Hot (9/4)
5:00 – Mengli Khan (6/1 each way 6 places)
5:35 – Magic Wand (NAP at 5/1)
21 years on from my birth
at 20:41 15 Jun 2019

A blue at 3. On my birthday. Forever Blue

18 years on - Up the Town!

Lord Norwood is taking us up baby x
Whilst we’re throwing new chants out there..
at 08:13 12 Jun 2019

Lamberts at the wheel
Tell me how good does it feel
We’ve got Norwood who’ll tear you to shreds
And a midfield of Flynn Downes and Ted
De de do do do..
We’re the greatest that League 1 has seen
Oh what a team

A copycat of the Ole’s at the wheel chant that Man United sing but most chants are stolen anyway. If anyone miraculously hasn’t heard it, here’s their version..

I’ll get thy coat
Gareth Southgate
at 16:45 6 Jun 2019

Has me in love with the national team for the first time in about 10 years.

Absolutely buzzing for tonight. A load of us down the pub in Wycombe. All dayer. TWTD would be so proud of me - I’m drinking wine like a civilised human being as I type this.

It’s coming home! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿
Norwood just tweeted this..
at 18:27 27 May 2019

Not the words of someone who’s about to leave is it? I’m worried..
Anyone got a number to sort my Indian based problem? (n/t)
at 07:11 26 May 2019

Fair play to Rugby Australia
at 00:44 18 May 2019

His argument of being allowed to ‘spread God’s word with his freedom of speech’ is nonsense. No place for blatant homophobia like that - particularly from someone with the influence (apparently) he has in his position in Australia
No wonder everyone hates Leeds
at 13:33 28 Apr 2019

They’re a disgrace
This ‘cheeky’ penalty
at 09:49 26 Apr 2019

Looks a bit of a mishit to me
Line of Duty (contains spoilers from episode 3)
at 05:19 19 Apr 2019

It’s bl**dy superb isn’t it?

Started watching series 1 last week on me time off. Just caught up with everyone on series 5 episode 3.

What do we think then? Who is H?

Surely not Hastings? It can’t be. He’s a national treasure!

The one thing I’m not sure I like is the line of thought that ‘H’ will actually be someone with the surname ‘H’. Could Cotton not have perhaps made some sort of error there or something? There’s also not enough characters left beginning with H. The big reveal can only be Hastings atm which is too obvious I think.

Anyway.. what do we reckon TWTD?
First game of next season then - who do we want?
at 20:09 16 Apr 2019

I want an away trip. To somewhere I ain’t been before. With a decent away end preferably.

I’ll go for my local team at uni - Wycombe (10 minutes away from me)
Marcus Evans is to blame for the relegation
at 18:59 13 Apr 2019

I told you he’d take us down and instead got shouted down.

This has been coming for years and years and years. Criminal levels of underinvestment was always going to end one way.

I’m saddened by today but do you know what? I’m angry. He’s been allowed to take us down without even a chant against him ffs.
Tomorrow’s gonna be a sad one ain’t it
at 19:15 12 Apr 2019

Even though we’ve known we’re going down for months, having it mathematically confirmed tomorrow is gonna be a sad realisation at full time.

Of the 92 league teams, only 11 haven’t played at the new Wembley
at 17:10 9 Apr 2019

Us being one of them obviously

Fascinating that the Geordies have only played there’s because of Spurs away being at Wembley in recent years. Surprised at that for a big club like them. Bournemouth less so.
[Post edited 9 Apr 17:13]
at 15:42 9 Apr 2019

Do you want them to go up or stay down? I’m not sure really with us playing them. I think it’ll be somewhat amusing if we denied them promotion but also abit hairy afterwards if there’s thousands of Leeds everywhere.

I assume they can’t catch the Scum so it’s really them or Sheffield United.

Maybe it’s silly but..
at 15:37 9 Apr 2019

I can’t wait for next season. Not looked forward to one this much in years.

Seeing the youths, the football we are playing, having judge, all the new stadiums to visit and the atmosphere at games this season going into next, I just think it’s going to be great.

Sunderland are loving this year and they’re a far bigger club than us. So why can’t we?
Brentford Wednesday then - who’s going?
at 01:25 9 Apr 2019

Some good pubs please people?

Me and my mate are doing an all day sesh as the last championship away game for (at least) a year.

Should be a cracking day
Romford's racing preview - THE 2019 GRAND NATIONAL
at 13:19 6 Apr 2019

Friday’s racing was one I will look back on with huge fondness at the end of the season. It started with a 28/1 placer (Sternrubin) and peaked with back to back winners at 20/1 (Cadmium) and 5/2 (Champ). Cadmium’s win will certainly be a highlight of this season for me as he jumped round in front travelling powerfully before putting the race to bed before the famous Aintree Elbow. On to the National day now and I’ll emulate to follow the trend of the last three years with my horse finishing third, first and second. One For Arthur’s win is my favourite horse race and a rare four figure winner. Good luck to everyone playing today and let’s hope all 40 horses get round safely in the big one for the seventh year in succession.

1:45 - Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
SIRE DU BERLAIS (4/1) landed the gamble for me and many others in the Pertemps at Cheltenham hen remarkably getting up on the line when looking beaten at the top of the hill. He’s up 8lb but the claim of Jonjo O’Neill takes a chunk of that off and he has low mileage on the clock. If avoiding traffic in running after getting his customary flat spot, he should go very close with the long run after the last hurdle likely to suit. Aux Ptit Soins goes back handicapping and has a touch of class whilst Coolanly always had a reputation of one better than a handicapper. Burrows Park is a dour stayer and could run a huge race at a price for Charlie Deutsch. MIA’S STORM (16/1) oozes class but won’t appreciate any rain and comes here after a break of five months. She may need the run but must go close if the ground keeps drying and does have a good record when fresh. I can’t ignore her here at a whopping price with Skybet paying six places.

2:25 - Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)
Angels Breath was beaten a long way out in the Supreme after appearing to be outpaced previously at Kempton. The step up in trip for him will help but the suspicion for me is that he was beaten so far out at Cheltenham that an extra four furlongs will need to aid him significantly. One For Rosie has been consistent all season and will appreciate any ease in the going. BREWINUPASTORM (11/4) was a good fourth over this trip in the Ballymore and has improved with racing. He will cope with the ground and is mightily consistent. The 11/4 about him is very fair in an open renewal of this grade 1. Umbrigado might be three from three this season but this is the hardest task he has faced by a distance.

3:00 - Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
Aintree’s renewal of the Arkle for two mile novices has a very open look. Lalor cannot be trusted after two poor runs but has run very well here previously. He won a grade 1 at the meeting a year ago but was pulled up quickly after never travelling at Cheltenham. US AND THEM (3/1) picked off Clondaw castle for second in that race after the latter chased after the winner from a long way out and was left a sitting duck. Us And Them may have failed to win his last four races but those seconds have all come at a high level. He’s given the nod to win a weak grade 1 here with an each way saver bet to nothing on Clondaw Castle at 4/1 with Paddy Power offering an extremely generous 3 places.

3:40 - Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) (Grade 1)
If The Cap Fits steps up to three miles here and this has looked likely to suit as he’d been lacking the pace in sharper contests. He was kept fresh for this when swerving Cheltenham and must go well. The flat track will play to his strengths and I could see myself having a few quid on him if APPLES JADE (13/8) drifted. Gordon Elliott’s supermare ran poorly at Cheltenham but is said to have scoped dirty and looked imperious in her other starts this season. Arguably her best performance came here as a juvenile at this meeting many years ago and she could simply be far too good for them if back to her brilliant best. The money for her from 2/1 into 13/8 suggests there is some confidence in her returning to anywhere near her best which ought to win this. William Henry caused a shock when winning the Coral Cup at 40/1 but that was a handicap and he’d need to do more. Sam Spinner looked like his old self at Cheltenham but was disappointing in this race last season and I couldn’t back him with his quirks. Roksana won the Mares grade 1 at Cheltenham when Benie Des Dieux fell at the last when clear (breaking my heart in the process) and she was prepped for a big Spring campaign so should be wound up for this. Agrapart, Kilbricken Storm and Uknowhatimeanharry haven’t shown their form of old this season whilst Sykes faces a massive rise in class.

4:20 – Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
KILDISART (7/1) was a gallant fourth in the JLT and drops back to handicapping here carrying top weight. He may be classy but does step up in trip which will put some off. However, it could also bring out further improvement for him which would make him tough to beat and, at the prices, it’s worth the punt in my view. Debece is on a hat-trick and loves this track but is somewhat short on what he’s achieved although is held in high regard by those associated with the yard and the vibes around hi are good. Theatre Territory is surely overpriced as an each way proposition for one of his consistent nature (albeit failing to win each time) and Touch Kick needs to bounce back from a disappointing run when mid-field in the Kim Muir. Mister Malarky is a talent and likely won’t be handicapping next season.

5:15 - Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Here we go then! It’s the 2019 National and, like last year, I’m going to write a small bit about each horse before giving my prediction for the race. In card order:
1) Annibale Fly (16/1) – Has the burden of top weight but comes here after a running on second in the Gold Cup. Classy. Fourth in the race last year. Jumps. Stays. Bold bid expected. My rating out of 10 = 7.5
2) Valtor (100/1) – Pulled up last time after winning well on UK debut at Ascot. Failed to stay 3m 6f in France so tough ask here. 4
3) Tiger Roll (9/2) – Won this last year. Four time Cheltenham Festival winner. Good jumper for a small horse. Nearly caught on the line last year in this but looks a far better horse this season and he bids to emulate the great Red Rum. Must go close. 9
4) Outlander (100/1) – Sold on Thursday. Struggling in top class racing in Ireland. 11st 4lb for one on the downgrade like him makes him poorly handicapped unless bouncing back. Big ask. 3
5) Don Poli (125/1) – One time Gold Cup favourite in his heyday. Suspicion he’s gone at the game. Sold on Thurday to new connections for this. Be a surprise to see him bounce back here. 4
6) Go Conquer (50/1) – Admirable sort. Career best last time at Doncaster. Huge step up in trip. Will he stay? I think not. 5
7) Mala Beach (80/1) – Wants a downpour. Expected to stay by connnections but big step up in trip here and probably lacks a touch of class to win off 11st 2lb. 4
8) Minella Rocco (50/1) – Loves drying ground. Stays all day. Classy at his best. First time without cheekpieces or tongue tie today. Will it work? Lively outsider. 7.5
9) Lake View Lad (16/1) – Strong stayer this season with this marathon test likely to suit. Good prep at Cheltenham latest. Go well. 7
10) Pleasant Company (16/1) - Aimed at this since second last year. Shown nothing since. Will jump around in front and could run a big one again if getting into the same rhythm as last year. 6
11) Ballyoptic (50/1) – Flat track seems more up his street. Capable at his best. Should stay. Not a fluent jumper. Failed to get round in the Becher in December and his jumping frailties are a concern for this. 5
12) Dounikos (28/1) – Bounced back to his best last time. Stays strongly and this should suit. If jumping round, lively outsider. 6
13) Rathvinden (10/1) – Oozes class. Carries just 11st and is 5lb well in officially after winning a grade 3 as his prep for this. Travelled superbly and stayed every yard in the 2018 four miler. Jumping has improved this season. My winner. 10
14) One For Arthur (28/1) – Gave me my biggest ever win in this in 2017. Stayed strongly then. Injury worries since. Unseated both starts this season. Can’t ignore him at a huge price. 7
15) Rock The Kasbah (16/1) – Money coming for him this morning. Strong stayer with a touch of class at his best. Down the weights carrying 10st 13lb. Jumps soundly. 6
16) Warriors Tale (125/1) – Couldn’t fancy him over this trip. Surely won’t stay and probably not good enough anyway. Ignore. 2
17) Regal Encore (80/1) – Inconsistent. Goes well when having a good day but not a reliable betting proposition and up another 4lbs here. 5
18) Magic Of light (125/1) – Decent Mare. Has a good turn of foot but never looked like a stayer and this is a different proposition entirely. Hard to fancy. 4
19) A Toi Phil (80/1) – Ran on well for fifth in the Pertemps. Major step up in trip and career best needed to figure. 5
20) Jury Duty (16/1) – Won the USA Grand National last year over shorter. Stays all day. Big race trainer and has been aimed at this. 7
21) Noble Endeavor (66/1) – Consistent horse who should stay. Not had a lot of racing in recent years and entitled to improve again from his last run. 6
22) Monbeg Notorious (80/1) – Talented at his best but doubtful stayer here. Wants rain. 4
23) Ramses De Teilee (28/1) – 5lb well in. Good jumper off the front. Somewhat one paced but stays all day and this could be right up his street. Each way chances. 7.5
24) Tea For Two (40/1) – Down the handicap. Won a grade 1 at this meeting in 2017 at his best but poor this season. Hard to fancy. 5
25) Just A Par (150/1) – Ran well for a long way after an absence last time over these fences in December. 12 year old may be past his bets but deserves his crack at National Glory. Seen worse 100/1 shots. 5
26) Step Back (28/1) – Well thought of by connections. Roued a decent field at Sandown. Well held since. Mark blown? 5
27) Ultragold (66/1) – Likes these fences. Should go well for long way. Stamina doubts. 5
28) Blow By Blow (125/1) – Looked a good novice hurdler last season but has been poor this season. Needs to improve on even his best form. 3
29) Up For Review (50/1) – Travelled powerfully at Cheltenham before fading. Massive step up in trip. Needs more. 5
30) Singlefarmpayment (66/1) – Rogue. Hates winning. The Aintree elbow won’t suit as he will need to be played very late if in contention. Not for me. 3
31) Vieux Lion Rouge (66/1) – Two dissapointments latest. Does tend to go well over these obstacles. Ninth last year. 5
32) Valsuer Lido (100/1) – Past his best. Unlikely to stay. Very classy in his pomp but that was three years ago and he’s thoroughly exposed. 3
33) Vintage Clouds (16/1) – Lively off just 10st 4lb. Will stay better than most. Jumps well. Big chance. 7
34) General Principle (50/1) – Still slightly unknown. Gets a chance here and has a decent weight to go well. Interesting. 6
35) Livelovelaugh (33/1) – Significant money for this outsider overnight. Hope is that the trip will eek out more improvement. Others have more obvious chances. 4
36) Walk in the Mill (28/1) – Looked a decent stayer when winning the Becher. 7lb rise for that. Back up in trip here after two small events. Can go well. 5
37) Folsom Blue (80/1) – Stays all day. Placed in this before. Surely won’t win but could place again if getting a clear round. 6
38) Captain Redbeard (80/1) – Needs to improve. Not at his best over these fences previously and fell early last year. Still an interesting one at a huge price. 5
39) Bless The Wings (80/1) – Admirable 14 year old with his own following. Third last year. Made an error at Cheltenham last time to effectively end his chance but ran well enough here in December. 5
40) Joe Farrell (20/1) – Scottish National winner. Will stay this trip. Due to go up 3lb. Good reappearance latest. Big chance. 8

Joe Farrell sneaks in here off bottom weight and is due to go up 3lb. He will stay all day and should run a big race after a nice reappearance. Tiger Roll looks to emulate Red Rum and win back to back Nationals. He was superb previously at Cheltenham and is capable of winning this again. Jury Duty should relish this test of stamina whilst Lake View Lad and Vintage Clouds placed in the Ultima last time and are closely matched. Step Back is improving and will enjoy this type of race whilst previous winner One For Arthur tries to complete for the first time since winning this two years ago. Rock The Kasbah and Annibale Fly are respected with a small bet for myself o the former. My main bet for this is RATHVINDEN (10/1) who is a certain stayer after winning the four miler impressively last season. He’s well in with the handicapper and has an obvious chance. I fancy him to dethrone the Tiger in a fascinating renewal of 2019 Grand National.
1 – Rathvinden 10/1
2 – Tiger Roll 9/2
3 – Rock The Kasbah 16/1
4 – Joe Farrell 20/1
5 – One For Arthur 28/1

6:20 - Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys And Amateur Riders)
This race is wide open to end the meeting. Scheau Time has been backed overnight into favourite but was last of nine last time and I don’t fancy him at all. Flashing Glance is consistent but this is his toughest test to date. The nod instead goes to smart flat performer LORD YEATS (15/2) who hasn’t done a lot wrong since switching to hurdling and deserves a crack at this bigger prize.

1:45 – Sire Du Berlais 4/1 & Mia’s Strom 16/1 (each way)
2:25 – Brewinupastorm 11/4
3:00 – Us And Them 3/1 & Clondaw Castle 4/1 (each way saver bet)
3:40 – Apples Jade 13/8
4:20 – Kildisart 7/1
- Rathvinden 14/1 (each way antepost)
- Tiger Roll 5/1
- Joe Farrell 20/1 (each way)
- Rock The Kasbah 28/1 (small each way bet)
- One For Arthur (small each way bet)
6:20 – Lord Yeats 15/2
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