A hot Brocklesby…..and general Grand National betting thoughts

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You only needed to watch the Brocklesby – the first turf two-year-old race of the season at Doncaster on March 26th – to leave with the feeling that it was something special.

The winner – PERSIAN FORCE – was utterly majestic, showing thorough professionalism on his debut to win by an easy 4 3/4 lengths. He clearly has Royal Ascot as a medium-term ambition this season and trainer Richard Hannon has a wealth of experience when it comes to maximising returns on his two-year-olds for his owners.

The key issue for punters though is weighing up the value of the form of the runners in behind the winner – cogitation that was made somewhat easier when Brocklesby third JIFFY BOY came out and won a Leicester maiden last Friday with Brocklesby fifth EVOLICATT taking second in the Leicester race. Now okay, it’s early days and you’d expect young horses to improve from their first race having learned a bit about what the game is all about, but nonetheless, I will be following (though not blindly backing) the other runners in the Brocklesby when they next hit the racecourse; Brocklesby second PRIMROSE RIDGE will be of real interest.

It’s also worth a second look at those juveniles entered for the Brocklesby at the five day stage but who didn’t actually race at Doncaster, since they must have been showing their trainers something at home in order for them to have been entered in the race. DUCHRAY trained by Charlie and Mark Johnston may be of particular note in this respect.

Update: DUCHRAY entered at the Five-Day declaration stage for the 1.30 at Thirsk on 9th April

The Grand National

Work (the kind that pays the bills) and, I’ll admit it, a general feeling of ennui about what The Grand National has become – The Eider Chase with a degree basically – means my thoughts on the (once-great) race are minimal.

The only advice I can give is generic therefore and that is if you do have a fancy in the race, place your bet early!


Because bookies are sharks and are fully aware that the once-a-year punters who bet in the national are prepared to accept any old price just to have an interest in the race. Bookies will begin shortening prices (and therefore reducing their liabilities) on virtually all the fancied runners early on Saturday and then viciously so in the half-hour or so leading up to the race.

How early is ‘early’? Well by Wednesday evening the bulk of the intended runners will be known so I would say at that point, but if you want to be doubly sure you are backing an intended runner then get your bets on as soon after the final declarations on Thursday as possible.

I freely admit that my reading of markets, and the direction they move in prior to a race, is one of my punting weak spots and I’m frequently guilty of accepting a shorter price about a horse, than what it goes off at, so this advice does not come with a definite guarantee covering the price fluctuations on every horse in the National. Nonetheless, across the piece, it should at least ensure you get a decent price about your fancy than what it will be returned at post-race.

Oh all right then – I’ve backed SANTINI for buttons at 50/1 because he should stay the distance and has the back class of old to potentially make him a player if he takes to the (still unique) test of the National fences

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