March 2015
Horse race betting is fun and exciting. For those that know the rules of the game and have a good instinct for picking winners, there is also potential for great profit. Using free betting strategies, many betters can do extremely well. 

To get started, you will want to start with a free betting platform. For free information try www.bobbyzen.com. Bobby Zen has been making bets for decades and sharing them with his followers. Bookmaker free bets are very difficult to find but Bobby Zen is was one of the few who has done so.

Bookmaker free bets can provide information online that would not be available as easily just by visiting the track. In addition, horse racing has many more factors to consider than other types of betting such as slots or poker.

For that reason, free betting information is extremely important. What is the weather at the track? What will it be like during the race you want to bet? How are the horses or jockeys felling? Have any of them been sick? Is the track muddy, dry or slick? All of these factors are important when making a bet. In contrast, a slot machine has no outside factors. All of these considerations make horse betting more fun and exciting than almost any other type of betting.

Handicapping a horse race can be very tricky. But there are several key metrics to keep in mind. Firstly, identify the pace match-up in each race. In other words, find out which horses use which paces such as fast starters, strong finishers etc. Then match that to the track conditions and the competition in each race.

Secondly, be willing to pass on a race when you're not sure or the potential winner is not clear. Sometimes the best decision a gambler makes is to not make a bet.

Thirdly, choose value plays where you expect your return on investment is greater than your bet. In other words, don't bet the favourites all the time that have bad odds or the extreme long shots that have no chance of winning.

Lastly, make sure that you are consistently using the same strategy. As soon as you change strategies, your old strategy will be working. If you keep the same strategy over time, you are more likely to win. 

Another way to make money is using a parlay bet. Parlay bets mean that you are selecting more than one winner at a time. In football, you might make bet on two or three teams to cover the spread on the same bet card. That would increase your odds and potential payout, especially on games that you are sure will be winners. However, you must win on every bet to receive the payout.

The same applies for horse racing. You may choose several horses in different races to bet on in the same race. Even though this will cost more, your chances of winning will increase. 

The show parlay is a popular concept in horse racing as well. Also known as "letting it ride", the show parlay is when a better starts with a small bet, wins the first race and uses the winnings to continue to bet larger and larger sums. Even if your pot grows from $10 to $1,000 by the third bet, your maximum loss from your original net worth is just $10. Everything else is "house money" that was not yours at the beginning of the day.
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                                                   Do you know when to bet?

There could be lot of answers to this question, but since you’re here, I’ll give you mine.

The first thing you must do is have an opinion. In the racing game, that means you have a horse, or horses, that you like well enough to bet on. If you are at the track, you are probably looking at the upcoming race. If you are at simulcast or on your computer betting, then you have a particular race at a particular track that you are going to bet.

The opinion I am talking about means you have gone through your handicapping process; in my prejudiced concept that would be a scientific process. But, you might pick your runners by numbers, breeding, jockey, trainer, or any number of ways. You may even be using a picking (tip) service that you know and trust. The point being that you have firmly decided who, and how, you are going to bet. 

This is a key step because you do not want to make a ‘racetrack flub’, which is to get to the betting window and start second-guessing your bet because of any number of reasons. The odds, the ‘inside info’ you just heard, the fact that your horse just crapped on the track, the jockeys silks are the wrong color, and so on and so forth.

The next thing to do is write down that bet in the proper form which is typically the track name, race #, dollar amount, type of bet (win, place, show, exacta box, etc) and your number, or numbers. Many fans are making multiple bets at the same time, so you can reduce your error factor by having it written down. This will also enable you to know how much your total dollar amount will be.

Finally, be aware of your surroundings; if you are at the track or simulcast, how long are the lines? You may be wagering through one of our online choices, which is a great and convenient way to bet. Allow ample time so you don’t get shut out, this could be as much as 8 to 12 minutes before post. Your choice usually wins when you don’t get the bet down. This can blow your mental state for the rest of the day if it happens. Been there, done that!
​August 2015
                        Evaluating Different Handicapping Systems or Methods
When wagering on sports, betting strategies and the best sports betting systems can play an important role in helping you become a profit-maker. The same is true for horse players. If someone was to sit down and interview all of the top handicappers in the world, they would find the handicappers all use some type of handicapping and money management system. In many cases, they have even developed and perhaps published their own systems.

Time Investment
Very few are the number of people who have the time to invest to sit down and come up with a viable handicapping system or method. It takes years of research plus trial and error to come up with something that creates consistent profits year over year. With that in mind, many handicappers like to read books or listen to videos from the "experts" and then put their own little twist on the system or method, Sometimes, this works out fine, but it begs the question: "Why would you want to make adjustments to a system that is supposed to already work?" If someone is going to invest the time to learn a handicapping system or method, then they should learn and let it work its magic.

Choosing a Handicapping System or Method
By the time a horse player begins to consider themselves to be a handicapper, they have usually adopted a preference to a certain style of handicapping. They usually fall into one of three categories, class handicapper, speed handicapper or trip handicapper. Some people try to combine these categories, but frankly, it simply creates too much data to analyze without a computer. It's a far better idea to develop a persona in one of these categories and run with it. No matter which category is chosen, there are plenty of decent systems that match it.

Class Handicapping
The class of a horse is determined by the conditions of the races in which he has recently been running. If a horse has run five straight in high-level claiming races, it is no longer reasonable to consider that horse a stakes horse even if he has won stakes races in the past. Past performances are only relative to the level of recent competition for class handicappers. Generally, class handicappers are looking for horses that are moving up and down in class. A horse moving up in class might represent great value if his recent form is on an upward trend. Likewise, horses moving down in class might represent value if recent form against better appears weak, but class relief is all they might need to perform better. 

Speed Handicapping
Most horse players have some level of knowledge related to the speed figures provided by Equibase, Beyer and/or Timeform. In fact many people use these figures due in large part to the easy access provided by racing guides such as the Daily Racing Form. Speed handicappers are interested in the values assigned to the times of races after taking into account any track variants created by biases or track conditions. By looking at these final speed figures, speed handicappers feel they have a comparative basis to compare horses that have run at different tracks over different distances.

Trip Handicapping
Trip handicappers are willing to invest hours looking at video replays of past races. They are typically looking for horses that may have easy trips or perfect setups, which might account for a horse's recent success. They are also looking for horses that had rough trips that might have kept them from performing better. A good deal of money can be made betting on horses that have had a couple of recent rough trips and come into a race with a smaller field or a better setup. A clean trip might be all it takes to get the money.

Much like sports betting strategies or the best sports betting systems, the best handicapping method for horse players is the one that most closely aligns with the player's persona and provides the best results. One system is usually no better than another as long as they give the horse player a better opportunity to show a profit.

This article was written by equine sports enthusiast John Hawthorne who is a junior handicapper and is always looking to perfect his own system. His other contributions concerning handicapping and sports betting system knowledge comes in the form of providing analytical data regarding NFL, NBA and MLB betting strategies.
​November 2015

                                How Matched Betting Works at the Race Track

As you begin to delve into the concept of matched betting, you should immediately recognize it's a viable betting methodology for both sports and horse racing punters. In either case, you can actually lock in guaranteed profits by simply aligning yourself with online sports and race books that offer "stake returned" free bets on a frequent basis. 

What is Matched Betting?

From a function standpoint, matched betting has been around for centuries. In fact, many bookmakers will resort to some form of matched betting when they feel they are too heavily invested in a particular outcome. With the advent of open betting exchanges such as Betfair, you, as an ordinary punter, can now employ the matched betting methodology as a great way to create guaranteed profits. The only requirement is that you place equal sized bets on the outcome of an event, betting one side of the outcome with a bookmaker and the other side through a betting exchange. 

How Does Matched Betting Work?

Now that you have answered the question "what is matched betting," you need to understand how this betting methodology works. In a highly competitive online bookmaking industry, the only way a sports or race book can survive is to draw and retain customers with free bet offers. When betting exchanges became legal domains for regular punters, a group of highly motivated punters discovered a way to make bets with free money from bookmakers that would provide guaranteed profits. As long as the free bet offers include a return of the free bet stake as part of the winnings, the process works as follows. 


You begin by opening a new online sports/race book account as well as an account with a reputable betting exchange. Using your free bet, place a wager (called a back bet) on the outcome of an event. Then go to your exchange account and offer that same wager (called a lay bet) to other gamblers with you acting as the bookmaker. It's important that the odds or line you offer is as close as possible to the odds or line you received from your sports/race book. EXAMPLE: You receive a free bet offer of £100. You bet the £100 on the outcome of an event at 2-1 odds with your sports/race book. Now you go to the exchange and offer to accept £100 on the same outcome at 2-1 odds (or as close as possible) from another gambler. If the event has a positive outcome, you will win £300 from your sports/race book while losing £200 + 5% commission on original bet amount (to betting exchange) through the betting exchange for a net profit of £95. If the event has a negative outcome, you lose nothing with your sports/race book while winning £100 - 5% commission or the same £95. If you have to offer a little more than 2-1 odds at the exchange, it will simply lower the amount of guaranteed profits. If you are still unsure about how does match betting work? This article explains.

Applying Matched Betting for Horse Racing

As long as the answer to the question "how does matched betting work?" is clear, it should be equally clear that this methodology will work on when betting on horses. Here's an example: On March 18th, jumpers will be contesting the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham Racecourse. Your handicapping research lands you on a horse at 4-1 odds and you use a free bet of £100 with your online race book on your pick. Now you head to your betting exchange account and offer to accept the same £100 bet from another punter, but have to give 4.25-1 odds (betting on horses is more volatile than sports betting). If your horse wins, you win £500 from your race book while losing £425 + 5% commission for a net profit of £70. If the horse loses, you lose nothing with the race book while winning £95 (£100 - 5% commission). Effectively, you're guaranteed profit is £70 up to a max of £95.

Do not try this methodology with exotic wagers. It is only suitable for fixed odds wagering. 
​                                                                                           March 2016 
                                            ​Handicapping Information for International Races

If they don't know by now, US horse players need to come to the realization that horse racing in Australia and Europe is among some of the best horse racing in the world. While a great majority of the racing takes place on turf, these countries have time and again produced some of the best race horses in the world. 

As a racing fan, you may ask why the U.S doesn't see more Australian imports coming in for major races in the U.S. There are two viable reasons for this phenomenon. First, the Southern Hemisphere's breeding season falls later in the year as compared with US breeding season, which falls earlier in the year. This creates substantial issues related to race conditions and the ages of Australian horses. The second reason is easier to understand. Given the vast popularity of horse racing in Australia, the purses are typically higher than in the US, which makes traveling financially less rewarding for Australian connections. 

As far as European imports are concerned, US handicappers are much more familiar with many of that continent's major race venues, jockeys and trainers. That comes from the large number of European connections that are willing to ship horses in for major events. It should also be noted that European horses with bleeding problems will be sent to the US where the use of Lasix will help prolong their careers.

Based on the quality of racing in both these areas, let's take a look at some key handicapping factors that should be considered when betting on races from overseas.

Timeform Ratings

One the most challenging aspects of handicapping overseas races for US handicappers is trying to determine a horse's true class, speed and running style. In the US, handicappers have access to Equibase figures, Beyer speed figures and Ragozin sheets. In Europe, horses are assigned a "timeform" rating for each race and overall. The higher the timeform number, the better the horse is considered to be. While it's near impossible to translate timeform numbers into Beyer or Rag numbers, the numbers do provide some insight to a horse's true class level. As prescribed by timeform administrators, the following scale could be used to a determine a horse's competence.

140 and above - Elite Group 1 (Spectacular Bid, Frankel, Secretariat)
130-139 - Above average Group 1 (Cigar, Silver Charm, American Pharaoh))
125-129 - Average Group 1
115-124 - Average Group 2 (
110-114 - Average Group 3
100-109 - Allowance Level
under 100 - Claimers

Race Courses

Much like in the US, racing venues throughout each country have a pecking order. Horses running at the most prestigious venues are generally considered to be better than horses running at minor venues. Here is a list of the top racing venues in Europe and Australia. Note: This list is a sampling and does not include all top venues.

Australia - Caulfield, Flemington, Randwick, Rosehill

England - Newmarket, Royal Ascot, Goodwood, York

France - Longchamp, Chantilly, Saint-Cloud

Ireland - The Curragh, Leopardstown 

Running Styles

In the US, horses are bred for speed and shorter distances. In Europe and Australia, horses are bred for stamina. A typical race in the US generally favors horses that are on the lead or pressing the pace. European and Australian horses are taught to rate and use a good turn-of-foot to run through the stretch. In simple terms, US horses run fast early and slow late, while in other countries, they run slow early and fast late.

Breeding

In order for handicappers to be successful playing horses in areas like Europe and Australia, a certain amount of focus has to be put on learning about the breeding industry in those areas. At times, US sires pop up in the bloodlines of horses overseas. US handicappers usually have some knowledge about the strength and weaknesses of those horses. Without the same level of knowledge about breeding in foreign countries, US handicappers are at a bit of a disadvantage.

Race Courses

In the US, all races are run counterclockwise around an oval on dirt, synthetic surfaces or turf as long as conditions permit. In Europe and Australia, 95% of the races are run on turf. They run clockwise, counter-clockwise, on straightaways, uphill and downhill. Also, races are run on turf no matter what the course conditions might be, except in extreme situations. 

Racing Tips

Before wagering on international races, here are a few racing tips to help you pick a few winners. For more information about gambling at Australian race tracks look for a local form guide and get a hot tip on the next jump.

1. Purchase a Form Guide (Racing Form) and compare time form numbers to identify contenders.

2. Don't wager on maiden races without some knowledge of breeding.

3. On races where you are contemplating making a wager, look for horses that perform well on that course and under the applicable course conditions. 

4. Read trouble comments in the Form Guide

5. Have fun                                                                                                                       April 2016

                                         Think, act, bet…..like a winner!
Does this look like a simple concept? It is. But wait, it’s easier said than done. There have been hundreds of discussions about money management and how you should only bet when you have a good chance of making money; but how do we do that? 
The elite winners at the track have what is known as ‘Professional betting principles’. The good news is that these principles can be learned and followed, if you apply yourself. So, let’s review these principles and see what the professionals do.
  • Discipline – This means the Pro bets logically and rationally, following a plan that is based on success. That plan might be win bets if odds are greater than 3 to 1, knowing how to spot an overlay, trifectas if there are 4 solid contenders, or pic 3 with one key horse. The point is to know how and when you are going to bet and stick to it.
  •  Incisive – Clear and sharp decisions that are made and supported by research.
  •  Fortitude – Having the strength and patience to follow your system and plan, possibly waiting several races and  even days before finding a great wager.
  • Impersonal – The Pro manages money as part of the business, having confidence that his plan will make money over the long haul.
  • Poise – Maintaining composure during the streaks that always come, whether winning or losing, they can throw you way off your game. 
You must be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘Which of these things do I do well?’ Grade yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, and start working on the weak spots. If you are ready to check out some great ways to bet, including getting some bonus money, check here. For more handicapping tips and news, go to this page.
See you at the windows!

Bobby Zen

May 2016
Stacking the Odds

Some individuals say good things in life occur to those who are lucky. But some individuals seem to get blessed over and over. Yes, some individuals may be actually creating somewhat of their own fortune. We all have been dealt a different set of cards, but what we do with them is up to us. And, from my simple life experience, stacking chances in your favor is a guaranteed way to create the most opportunity and be positioned to consider good things about opportunities when offered available.

Stacking the odds to your advantage is simple. The basic idea is to set up conditions that are conductive to success. Frequently, choosing your surroundings has as much of an impact as the actions you take. Should you be trying to lose weight and everything at your house is unhealthy - bad possibilities of being successful. In the event you are looking to stop smoking and you work in the restaurant industry in a spot where everyone else smokes - you are stacking chances against success. Consider where the odds give you favor and seek those positions out.

Careers tend to be the hot topic these days and nights and I'm surprised at how people plan their occupations and locations to maximize their possibilities. Think through jobs with the lens of source and demand. Nursing careers are currently in plethora everywhere expect small villages with nursing programs. Technical jobs seem to be to be a hot commodity but probably will not provide you with a great return in southern Alabama. Determining what is popular, then working to position you to ultimately take good thing about that demand keeps you flexible and employable. What can you do to make yourself competitive for where you want them to be? What will the ideal prospect for the job you want look like? 
Learning the Odds, Beating Probabilities
I used to fancy myself a poker player. For a time, I thought I was pretty good. A few outings to Vegas surely treated me of any over-confidence, but my lesson was simple: knowing the odds is pretty helpful when you are playing cards (or any games for your matter). Even if you don't want to be a professional, knowing simple probabilities can make you much more likely to achieve success. That only takes someone 20 minutes to learn enough about craps to be better than 90% of the people who play. But few even take the time for that. There are times in your life where a small amount of work will lead to large dividends. Just small changes in the possibilities can make you poor or rich.

Have you ever looked at your back of a scratch off lottery ticket? They will tell you how bad the odds are. Those people in Georgia tell you the payout is about 25%. That may be, every money you put in, you get a quarter back again. That may be some expensive entertainment. What are the odds for the game of life? What regions of life could use a little more research? Know the odds before you hop off the deep end.

Creating Luck
For many people, it might take twenty years to become an overnight success. Many writers and musicians have practiced their craft for years before anyone more than their friends commence to hear. Creating good luck is a process of learning, positioning, persistence, and patience. Position is important. Are you communicating with people who can instruct you the skills you require to succeed? Are you in an area or ornamented by people who are choosing a direction you would like to? If you would like to quit smoking, hanging out with your old smoking buddies every day will not help your odds of quitting.

Tenacity is often underrated. When you have established the odds and determined difficulties to your goal, simply staying with it is incredibly important. Frequently, results take time and life change does not happen overnight. Be prepared to be persistent if you expect to be in the right place at the right time. It’s likely that good you will spend a lot of time in the right place at an unacceptable time before the stars align in perfect timing. Finally, tolerance. Our time frame is often different from fact. Things often take a longer time than we wish or expect. Being patient is integral to success. Appreciate the inconsistencies of perfect timing. Try and adopt the unknown. Stacking chances in your favor, combined with patience, gives you an almost unfair benefit in life.                                                            February 2018

Excitement beginning to build over Ruby Walsh’s potential Cheltenham Festival return

Everyone loves Cheltenham Festival but there’s been worries over whether top class jockey Ruby Walsh would be able to feature in the upcoming event. Things were looking extremely dour in November, where Walsh broke his leg from a fall at a Punchestown race back in November, with it looking likely to rule out any chance of an appearance in The Festival just four months later.

There’s an array of free horse racing super tips available throughout the internet, and Ruby Walsh is one of the most backed racers in the whole sport based on his immense track record, something that The Winners Enclosure are more than aware of in their array of regularly updated tips, bets and enhanced specials. Check out their latest run-down for everything on their dedicated page by following the link.

Reports surrounding the two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner have implied that he’d always set out in his mind that he’d be back in time for The Festival, regardless of how long his leg break had put him out for. Some have seen that level of ambition as being admirable, if not a little unrealistic, but he’d originally said that he’d hoped to be back in time for the Red Mills Chase Day at Gowran in February, which was something he eventually had to categorically rule out due to the natural time it’s taking for his arm to heal.

Even the most positive thinking of horse racing fans and tipsters alike were beginning to assume that Rupert ‘Ruby’ Walsh’s return would come inches late of Cheltenham, but the Irishman is on track to compete as ever in the event, with a view to adding to his already exceptional 2000+ career wins.

Competing at the highest level and having more than enough to show for it has come with its sacrifices, most of all the sheer amount of injures he’s had to endure. His leg break back in 1999 was easily the worst, as he damaged his leg at the Great Pardubice Steeplechase in Czech Republic, later finding further bad luck through breaking the same leg in the same racing season, only recovering in the finest of margins six months later to ride Papillon to victory in the Grand National.

The racing world would be devastated to see Cheltenham Festival come and go without Ruby Walsh being rightfully involved, so it’s hoped he can play his usual part, and continue what has been an illustrious career by one of the true sporting greats.                                    February 2018

Grand National 2018 – Here’s who bookies think will feature

The Grand National – a race that stops a nation. Aintree will be packed out as ever for the renewal of Europe’s richest jump race. The prize money isn’t earned easily, with over four miles and 30 fences between the field and an eventual champion. We love it.
First contested in 1839, its popularity has soared over the years and the pot now stands at a cool £1m for the jockey and horse combo that can keep their head amidst the chaos. Scottish representative One For Arthur got home in front last year but injury means he won’t make the trip to Liverpool on April 14th.
We’ll have a new champion – finding it will be a different matter. Form, figures, health, inside tips, or sharing a name with your nephew; there are a number of ways you can beat the bookies on race day. You’ll see from tips at Timeform that there’s already quite a difference of opinion. The early betting offers some clues though.
Total Recall
Race favourite before the Cheltenham Festival in March, we find the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall as the shortest price of the pack with 12/1 the general feeling. The fact the jolly is double-figure odds is another example of how open this year’s contest promises to be. Won each of his last three including the 3m Munster National late last year. Form alone makes him difficult to ignore.
Blaklion
Cream of the crop for team Twiston-Davies and connections will have high hopes of living up to expectations and joining the exclusive list of Grand National winners. He has won nine of his 25 career runs, placing nine times in competitive action. This horse has not finished outside of the top-two in any of his last three goes, including a victory in the Becher Handicap Chase over 3m 1f – a race that’s always a good indicator for the big one. 14/1 – he deserves our respect.
Cause Of Causes
Gordon Elliott has won this before and was runner-up last year with Cause Of Causes. The experienced 10-year-old encountered plenty of trouble during the race, bumped and barged by lesser horses, but still had enough about him to claim the silver medal. With a clearer run, he’ll be in with a real shot of bettering that this time and we expect his fitness to have improved since. 20/1 will ensure he’s popular.
The Last Samuri
We’re getting into the thick of the bigger prices now and are only four into the field. This is the race for you if you like big fields, big prices and big entertainment. The Last Samuri is a 20/1 poke and that’ll catch the attention of value hunters everywhere. The Paul and Clare Rooney owned hopeful has finished no higher than fourth in his last three, including a second behind Blaklion in the Becher. Has improvement to find on that performance.
Gold Present
There’s plenty of 20/1 going about for this horse a month before the off and he holds his place near the front of the queue on merit. Nicky Henderson’s main weapon of attack on a place in the history books, he fell in last year’s race but dusted himself off to win two comeback tests, the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase at Newbury and the Silver Cup at Ascot just before Christmas. Beat runner-up Frodon that day by three lengths over 2m 7f but had plenty about him at the end.
Definitly Red
One of the more popular picks from further down the list, Definitly Red carries all of 20/1 and that’s the kind of price you want about a Grand National winner. Pulled-up in the National last year but held no grudge against the course and proved it when appearing in the winner’s enclosure here in December following the Many Clouds Chase. Run over three miles, he was favourite and looked it too when towing the field home by seven lengths, Cloudy Dream in second. Stamina to burn.
​Minella Rocco
As big as 25/1, Minella Rocco will find friends in the ante-post betting until he shortens. Jonjo O’Neill has been in charge of this horse’s preparation and he couldn’t have wished to be guided by a better pair of hands. Fell in the Irish Gold Cup in February at Leopardstown and some might hold that against him, but it would be harsh. Was competing at the right end of the field when disaster struck.
Ucello Conti 
33/1 and we’re beginning to get into deep water. Will Ucello Conti sink or swim? The lightly raced 10-year-old gelding was second behind Anibale Fly in the Paddy Power Chase around Leopardstown - well beaten that day too – and did nothing for his reputation when being pulled-up in the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase after making a blunder. Has a lot to learn. Will the penny drop in time?
Seeyouatmidnight
Team Thomson would love a national winner to thrust their name back into the limelight just as it did for Lucinda Russell 12 months ago. Is Seeyouatmidnight good enough to do that for them? We’ll need to see a career-best performance just to be in with a shout but it’s certainly possible. No higher than third in three of his last four - pulled-up the other - but we doubt the trip would be beyond him.
Regal Encore
The name of a winner but will this 10-year-old gelding trained by Anthony Honeyball live up to the billing? He blew the cobwebs off for the year when making a winning start to 2018 in the Keltbray Swinley Chase at Ascot over 2m 7f and that went as a bit of a surprise after going to post with a 6/1 price tag attached. Shown he has no problem hurting the bookies but at 33/1 this is a different game entirely.
​March 2018
5 Fancied Contenders For 2018 Grand National

The world’s greatest steeplechase will soon be upon us once again as the 2018 Grand National take centre stage at Aintree racecourse on Saturday, 14 April.
This extended 4m 2f slog remains the ultimate test for National Hunt horses’ endurance and one of the most difficult events to win in racing. It’s the one day of the year where the wider British public get on and take a punt.  
A glance at the 2018 Grand National betting highlights how this season’s renewal looks as wide open as ever. While you can expect the bookies to provide enticing offers and extra places galore, which horses are fancied for the Aintree showpiece this time around?
We take a look at five who feature prominently in the market and explain to you why. All hold entries at the Cheltenham Festival and could race at both events because there is an unprecedented 29-day gap between the Gold Cup and Grand National.
Blaklion
Whatever else he has taken in en route, another crack at the Aintree marathon has always been the plan for connections of 2016 RSA Chase winner Blaklion.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, who saddled previous Grand National winners Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002), the nine-year-old was fourth in the 2017 running. His jockey in last year’s contest, Noel Fehily, arguably took up the running too early and lost third towards the line.
In three starts this season, however, Blaklion hasn’t finished outside the first two. A runner-up to Bristol De Mai on reappearance in the 3m Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, he then earned victory over the Grand National fences with a course win in the 3m 2f Becher Chase back in December.
There is no substitute for Aintree experience, especially tackling those unique obstacles, but to prevent any winter rust from forming, connections gave Blaklion a further prep run. That came in the Grand National Trial at the other Merseyside jumps track Haydock in February.
Although well-beaten, Blaklion was one of just three to complete this stern test over three-and-a-half miles on bottomless ground. It would’ve felt like further on heavy Haydock going. Bookmakers pushed his price out slightly for the Grand National after that 54 lengths defeat by Yala Enki, but conditions ought to be decidedly better underfoot at Aintree come mid-April.
Total Recall
Top Irish trainer Willie Mullins has also landed the Grand National before with Hedgehunter in 2005 and his best chance this year, according to the betting, is Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall.
Like Blaklion this fellow nine-year-old holds a Cheltenham Gold Cup entry, yet is unbeaten in three starts since joining Mullins. Total Recall took the Munster National on debut for the yard back in October before snatching that valuable Newbury handicap formerly known as the Hennessy from the grasp of Nicky Henderson’s Whisper.
A winning spin over hurdles at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in early February blew away any winter cobwebs that Total Recall may have had. Mullins has never won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, believe it or not, so it’s not completely clear whether that or the Grand National is the priority.
Racing off a career high mark and official BHA chase rating of 156 reflects both the great strides this horse has made since leaving Sandra Hughes, and how the British handicapper fears Irish raiders of his profile. Total Recall is also the same age as Hedgehunter was when he won the Grand National.
Mullins look unlikely to turn up at Aintree single-handed though. Total Recall’s stablemates Acapella Bourgeois, Bellshill, Pleasant Company and Rathvinden are all guaranteed to get in to the 40-runner Grand National field if taking up their engagement.
Definitly Red
We had a Scottish trained winner of the Grand National in 2017, but if there’s to be a British victor from north of Birmingham this time, Definitly Red looks the most likely.
Trained by Brian Ellison near Malton in North Yorkshire, the nine-year-old endured nothing but bad luck in last year’s race. Definitly Red got badly hampered at the sixth of 30 fences and never recovered from it, as jockey Danny Cook pulled him up less than a third of the way round Aintree because his saddle had slipped.
He was a ready winner of the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby and Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster en route to the 2017 Grand National. This season, meanwhile, Definitly Red was a distant third behind Bristol De Mai and Blaklion on his return to action in the Charlie Hall, but then landed consecutive Grade 2 contests at Aintree and Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.
That latter success in the Cotswold Chase has prompted connections to seriously consider going for the Cheltenham Gold Cup before the Grand National. It’s a tall order and Definitly Red looks more likely to take up both engagements than Blaklion.
In order to defeat that re-opposing rival in a race that saps stamina like no other, Definitly Red has to find something. He will also have to carry top weight at Aintree, but has shown he can deliver in elite company and is 2lb well in there off 165 when his official rating is 167.
Cause Of Causes
Last year’s runner-up Cause Of Causes inevitably commands respect from a betting perspective. His trainer Gordon Elliott took the 2007 renewal when saddling Silver Birch to Grand National glory.
Owned by legendary Irish gambler JP McManus, 10-year-old Cause Of Causes is something of a Cheltenham Festival expert. He won the Cross Country Chase before going on to Aintree last year and scored previous Prestbury Park plaudits in the 2016 Kim Muir and 2015 National Hunt Chase over a gruelling 4m.
All three of his Cheltenham victories have come with top Irish amateur jockey Jamie Codd aboard, so expect them to reprise the partnership first at this year’s Festival. Cause Of Causes is set to defend his Cross Country crown over 3m 6f before a third crack at the Grand National in four seasons.
He has completed the course on both previous occasions at Aintree, which isn’t surprising, given his obvious staying credentials. Cause Of Causes could well make it third time lucky as he races off just 3lb higher than last year, but it looks like translating to a very similar weight.
Doubling up at Cheltenham and then the Grand National didn’t prove too demanding 12 months ago, though it will be interesting to see how he comes out of the Cross Country contest. An extra few days more of rest between assignments than last year may be all Cause Of Causes needs. And, with the leading bookies providing so many free offers, such as Paddy Power's £20 risk-free bet, he may well be worth a gamble. A look at Oddschecker's ante post betting comparisons confirms that, should he win, backers could be looking at a favourable return.
The Last Samuri
And finally, another one-time Grand National runner-up in The Last Samuri cannot be discounted, because of his vast course experience. This 10-year-old has placed in two runnings of the Becher Chase besides his 2016 second in the big race.
Owned by Paul and Clare Rooney and trained by Kim Bailey, The Last Samuri is aimed at the Grand National for a third time in his career to date. Last year, he had to shoulder top weight but still completed the course.
Providing higher rated rivals stand their ground, he will get into this season’s renewal more favourably. In the meantime, The Last Samuri has Cross County and Cheltenham Gold Cup entries for connections to choose between.
As he is much more fancied in the betting for the former that may indicate where he will go before Aintree if anywhere. The Last Samuri has had just one career run at Cheltenham, which was last time out when finishing fourth to Definitly Red in the Cotswold, so he could swerve the Festival altogether and focus solely on Grand National glory at the third time of asking.
There is a last chance saloon feel about this attempt for The Last Samuri. He is certainly capable of making the frame, as his previous Aintree form when not under a welter burden suggests. Grand National betting is also about finding each-way value, and The Last Samuri is certainly that.
March 2018


Assessing the 4 JP McManus Horses in the 2018 Grand National
Legendary gambler and one of the leading Irish racehorse owners, JP McManus, likes nothing better than plundering a big handicap prize. There’s scarcely one bigger than the Grand National at Aintree.
McManus’ famous green and gold hoops silks were notably carried to victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase back in 2010 when AP McCoy partnered Don’t Push It for trainer Jonjo O’Neill. Some eight years on from that triumph, the owner is set to have four runners in the latest renewal of the stamina-sapping extended 4m 2f contest on April 14.
What chances do the latest brigade of McManus horses have in the 2018 Grand National? Let’s take a look…

Minella Rocco
Former National Hunt Chase winner and 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco will have to shoulder the welter burden of 11st 10lb at Aintree. The eight-year-old is the highest rated in this year’s Grand National after being allotted an official British Horseracing Authority (BHA) mark of 162.
Trained by O’Neill, Minella Rocco was the antepost favourite 12 months ago but connections withdrew him from Aintree because the race came much sooner after the Cheltenham Festival then than now and he missed the Gold Cup this year due to unsuitable ground.
Carrying top-weight is a big ask of Minella Rocco who hasn’t really impressed in four starts this season. Despite that, he remains prominent in the ante post-Grand National betting with William Hill and is a top-price 16/1.

Anibale Fly
One horse that did contest the Cheltenham Gold Cup was the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly and he finished best of the rest in third behind frontrunning one-two Native River and Might Bite. McManus retained rider Barry Geraghty to partner this eight-year-old then, so may do so again.
As the Grand National weights and ratings are announced in February, Anibale Fly is able to race in it off the same mark as the Gold Cup. The handicapper has subsequently put his official rating up 9lb since, leaving him well-in at Aintree – something punters have already picked up on with Anibale Fly receiving plenty of antepost support and now 12/1 in the betting.

Regal Encore
Last year’s Grand National eighth Regal Encore returns to Merseyside for another crack. Given how the first two past the post at Aintree 12 months ago don’t re-oppose due to injury and others that finished ahead of the 10-year-old are now coming to the end of their careers, he surely has some sort of chance of improving on his finishing position.
Trained by Anthony Honeyball, Regal Encore was third in the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) behind ante post-Grand National favourite Total Recall and has been laid out for the big race since landing a 3m Listed handicap chase at Ascot in January. A 33/1 price represents each-way value.

Carlingford Lough
Veteran John Kiely inmate Carlingford Lough completes the McManus quartet heading to the Aintree marathon, but you have to say his best days are behind him. Now aged 12, he’s been disappointing since landing two Grade 1 staying chases in Ireland at Leopardstown and Punchestown during the 2015/16 season.
A best-price 66/1 for Aintree success on what could be his retirement run suggests Carlingford Lough has it all to do, yet there’s no doubting he’s been a good servant of his owner. Disappointment on all four starts this season mean he’s one to avoid betting on, however.
​April 2018
Mendelssohn Tops Kentucky Derby Betting For O’Brien
Irish Trainer Aidan O’Brien had a record-breaking year in 2017 as he recorded 26 Group One victories around the world, beating the legendary US-based trainer Bobby Frankel’s previous best of 25, which was set in 2003.
O’Brien will be hoping for more success in 2018 and it could come early into the flat season as he already has the favourite for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, with Mendelssohn, who recently won the UAE Derby at Meydan.
No European horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby, therefore, the Irish based runner could be to set to make history in 2018. The colt ended his campaign last year with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, so he has proved he has no problems travelling across to North America to take on his counterparts here.
O’Brien’s runner made his seasonal reappearance at Dundalk where he landed the Patton Stakes, a Listed contest over 1600 metres. He then travelled out to Dubai for the UAE Derby in which he produced an empathic performance to score by over 18 lengths.
Mendelssohn is 5/1 in the horse racing betting for the Kentucky Derby and if he produces the kind of display he did at the Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup meetings, he may prove difficult to beat. The Irish horse is not the only European-based runner set to make it across to the United States for the race as Gronkowski has qualified to line up in what is known as the ‘fastest two minutes in sports’. Jeremy Noseda’s runner has won all three of his starts in the UK this season and qualified following a Listed race success at Newcastle on his latest outing.
Audible Leads Home Challengers At Churchill Downs
Todd Pletcher is bidding for his third Kentucky Derby victory in 2018 with his unbeaten colt Audible who is 13/2 to scoop the first leg of the Triple Crown. The lightly-raced horse recently won the Grade One Florida Derby where he justified favouritism to score by three lengths.
Audible only just made his racecourse debut in February, in which he showed a nice turn of foot to win a Grade Two contest over 1600 metres. If successful at Churchill Downs, he will follow in the footsteps of his stablemate Always Dreaming who stayed on strongly to land the 2017 running of the American Classic.
Bolt D’Oro Warms Up For Kentucky Derby With Santa Anita Win
Bolt D’Oro was the ante-post favourite for the 2018 Kentucky Derby for a large part of 2017 as the colt, who is trained by Mark Ruis, made an impressive start to his racecourse career, winning his opening three races, including the Grade One Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes.
The Ruis Racing Club horse recently returned to the track for 2018 with victory coming at Santa Anita in the Grade Two San Felipe Stakes. He initially finished a head behind McKinzie when crossing the line, however, was awarded the contest in the steward’s room.
This year’s Kentucky Derby takes place on April 28 in what will be the 144th renewal of the major international race.

​April 2018