Sykes a Value Each Way at 12/1

In the 3.45 at Cheltenham tomorrow Sykes will try to better his short head defeat last year in this. He’s up 8lbs since then, reflecting the improvement he made last season. He followed up that 2nd, after a 112 day break, with victory in a class 2 handicap at Haydock.  Connections must have thought he’d improved more than 8lbs because his next run was in the Grade 1 at Aintree in April. He was pulled up that day.

Sykes has gone well fresh more than once and that close second last year was his sole run on Cheltenham’s old course. He has run twice on the new course, a disappointing 3rd last at the festival last year, and a good 2nd at 33/1 in a decent handicap hurdle before that. He’s back on the old course tomorrow.

He’s top rated by Topspeed and 3rd top on Racing Post Ratings (by 2lbs). His trainer and jockey are comparatively unknown and that always helps boost the price.  He’s 10 years-old now and although unusual for a horse to improve at that age, it’s not unknown, especially in smaller yards. When Sykes won that Haydock race in February this year he topped his previous best Racing Post Rating by 5lbs.

He looks very good value EW in this at 12/1 to 4 places with Skybet and one or two others, and I make him a two-star bet*.

*My usual confidence classification on bets is:  worth a bet: I recommend you bet this: I strongly recommend a bet. This season I’ll allocate a star to each of these, three-stars indicating most confidence.

Good luck, and be careful. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile, no matter the source of the tip.

All the best.

Post-race summary

Sykes led at a slow pace for the first circuit although he never looked comfortable in the deep ground (going had changed overnight from good to soft to heavy). Although he has won on heavy, his best performance by quite some way was on good ground, and he couldn’t get into his normal enthusiastic mode on this ground.

Although he was third at 5/1 versus the 12/1 recommended, the Rule 4 deduction (this takes account of withdrawn horses after a market has been formed on the declared horses. It allows bookmakers to retro fit a set of prices that ‘should’ have been offered had the non runners been known at pricing-up time. It’s based on a standard table of prices, and in this case Skybet made a 35p in the £ deduction, reducing that 12/1 to about 15/2)

It gives a return of £25.60 to £10 EW. The updated figures for the season so far:

Seasonal bet record:

1* Bets

Stakes £30

Returns £0

Losses £30

2* Bets

Stakes. £40

Returns £53.60

Profit  £13.60

3* Bets






  1. Thanks very much, Joe. I have been scratching my head over the Cheltenham races tomorrow! All good wishes for the new NH “season of mists” – let’s hope it is also “mellow fruitfulness”, too (to misquote Keats).


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