First Bets of 2020

Happy New Year.

Another Venture (12.50) gets the first chance of the year to clock up a win and move us back toward profit.

He contests an open race if everything runs to form. Cogry and Singlefarmpayment are standing orders in these kind of races at Cheltenham. Cogry won last time, but if his record for the past 4 seasons holds, he will not win this, nor will he win again this season. A single victory is all he’s managed each season since 2014/15

Singlefarmpayment is chief cliff horse for many scarred punters. He was a hugely promising novice who ran some mighty races in defeat. It could well be that those early battles marked him – he’s entitled to be forgiven if that’s the case. The memory of those give-it-all finishes might have left him reluctant to go through that barrier once again. He has a change of headgear here – cheekpieces (usually hooded) – shows that connections are still seeking the key to this horse who hasn’t won for 3 years.

I think Another Venture might be improving. This will tell us whether he is. Last season he showed a generally progressive profile, though nothing startling. His first run this season (7 Dec) saw him top all last season’s runs on Racing Post Ratings. He’s normally claimer-ridden and Chester Williams has his first experience of the horse here claiming 5lbs.

I recommend backing him win only at 11/2.

Paint The Dream

Impossible to justify a bet on Paint The Dream on a form basis. But he has a fair bit of improvement in him after just 2 chase starts. He caught my eye on his seasonal debut under a very quiet ride and went into my notebook.

He has plenty on his plate here against the Champ, strongly fancied for the RSA, and Midnight Shadow, a classy horse who won The Relkeel Hurdle on this card last year. Champ’s jumping was a shade dodgy in places last time, although he had some poor luck in running, and Midnight Shadow has just seemed to find it hard to win at times.

Paint The Dream has a good speed figure and I’d be happier losing a small bet at 40/1 than not backing him and watching him win.

Magic Saint and Mister Whitaker

The 2.00 is a cracking race. Kalashnikov has been on my shortlist for a while but he’s quite skinny in the betting. Bar one fence he put in a marvellous round at Aintree on his seasonal debut, the omission of fences there because of a low sun not helping his cause. I backed him next time at Newbury where he was ‘nosed’ on the line by Old Grangewood to whom he was conceding 20lbs.

There are a couple in the race who seem better value and I will make each a 1* bet.

Magic Saint jumped and travelled superbly last time when beating Bun Doran in a photo. He’s won all three tight finishes he’s been involved in although at Newbury he didn’t look to battle in the conventional head down manner. If he’s one who just does enough, then he has it down to a fine art. Bun Doran went on to win a Grade 2 there at Kempton and he could prove hard to beat next time.

Mister Whitaker’s one I’ve watched but found hard to catch. He’s won three of his four completed races at Cheltenham and his last appearance was here; he won in first time cheekpieces which will be fitted again for this.

Beware The Bear

This is an interesting hurdles entry for Beware The Bear, who won the Ultima at the festival and looks like he is being prepped for that race again.

He showed promise in his early career only to lose his way in season 2017/18. Last season Henderson put blinkers on him and they worked well. Other than 1 pulled up in the Bet365 at Sandown (the ground would have been faster than he wanted) his formline reads (from 2018): 4th. in Ladbrokes Trophy (Hennessy): Won Betbright at Cheltenham: Won Ultima at Cheltenham Festival; 4th in Ladbrokes Trophy.

This has driven his ratings rise and he’s now 162 over fences (from 148 pre blinkers). But that review of his new found form doesn not apply over hurdles, where he is rated 155. That means he carries half a stone less here than he would were it a steeplechase. And if he brings his newfound resolution to the hurdles code he is no 12/1 chance.

Today he wears cheekpieces rather than blinkers, but I’ll take the chance that he will reproduce his fencing form and he’s the nap.

Summerville Boy Strong Value

The 3.10 is a fascinating race. The whole field has shown promise at one stage or the other and perhaps the most disappointing of all of them is Summerville Boy. In his early career he beat Kalashnikov in a Grade 2 at Sandown and did so again coming with a Buster Edwards run to win the Supreme Novices.

He lost his way the following season although hasn’t had that much racing. He won first time out this year after a wind op (beating Black Op) and then disappointed in the Henry VIII at Sandown when falling.

This return to hurdles might see him back for a hurdling campaign. He’s always looked to me like he’d benefit for stepping up in trip and this is his first attempt at 2m4f. That Cheltenham hill could well boost him too.


12.50: Another Venture 11/2 2*

1.25 Paint The Dream 40/1 1*

2.00 Magic Saint 7/1 1*

2.00 Mister Whitaker 10/1 1*

2.35 Beware The Bear 11/1 33.1. Summerville Boy 15/2 1*

Good luck. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.


One comment

  1. Paint the Dream was a real fillip at such long odds. True it benefitted from Champ’s misfortune, but he ran a true race. Sumerville Boy was a great selection, running with enthusiasm and jumping with a great assurance from start to finish. Many thanks, Joe.


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