Shortest-priced Losers One of the ‘golden rules’ espoused by legendary racehorse trainer Barry Hills was, ‘Never bet odds-on. If you could buy money they would sell it at a shop down the road.’ Granted that Barry Hills funded the establishment of his first training yard, South Bank Stables in Lambourn, Berkshire, with his winnings from a bet on Frankincense in the Lincoln Handicap in 1968 and in his heyday, in the Nineties, fully expected to supplement his training fees by winning £50,000, or £60,000, a year from the bookmakers, his words are worth taking seriously.

What professional punter Clive Holt dubbed the ‘glorious uncertainty’ of horse racing is what keeps bookmakers in business and the history of the sport is awash with prohibitively long odds-on chances that could have, and perhaps should have, won, but did not. Even in the real show-piece events like the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup where prices are typically more generous due to the size of the field, favourites have been known to come a cropper. That’s why, in my view, it’s a wise move to use betting offer sites such as to scour through some bigger odds selections and free bet offers. It’s important to try to have as much going for you as possible when you’re gambling.

When it comes to short-priced losers, the notoriously fickle racing gods are no respecters of reputation. The shortest-priced loser in the history of British racing was Royal Forest, who finished second of four, at odds of 1/25, in the Clarence House Stakes at Ascot in September, 1948, and was ridden by none other than Sir Gordon Richards, arguably the greatest jockey of all time. The previous June, at Chepstow, Sir Gordon suffered another mishap when Glendower, sent off at 1/20 in a match for the Chepstow Stakes, whipped ‘round at the start, dumping the 26-time Champion Jockey on the ground and leaving his solitary opponent, Markwell, to finish alone.

In the sphere of National Hunt racing, Jerry M, better known for winning the 1912 Grand National under Ernest ‘Ernie’ Piggott, grandfather of Lester Piggott, had earlier suffered the ignominy of being ‘turned over’ at odds of 1/20. In another match, the Open Steeplechase, at Newbury in 1909, Jerry M fell and was remounted to complete the course. Over a century later, in 2018, Tree Of Liberty, trained by Kerry Lee, equalled that unenviable record when finishing second, beaten 2½ lengths, in the three-runner Alfa Aggregate Novices’ Chase at Ludlow.

So with all of this firmly in mind, don’t always see favourites as sure things. Instead take the time to seek out value bets and combine that with the numerous betting offers that are available right now. A good starting point for this fresh approach would be the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. ‘Sure things’, like only the other day, Native River being withdrawn from the Gold Cup, can’t escape physical limitations. So get your thinking cap on instead of going for the obvious options. In the long term your banking bank may well thank you for it.

Grand National 2020 - Ones to Watch! Can you believe that it’s already almost upon us? The clock is ticking down to the 2020 Grand National, and it barely seems 5 minutes since the previous one. Could it be that old(er) age is making the years feel shorter for me. Well existential crisis aside, let’s hope my mind and body can stand up to what’s bound to, once again, be a heart pounding and enthralling encounter. There is history in the making to be had this Grand National (with Tiger Roll going for his third Grand National victory in a row) and so that always adds an extra element of excitement into the mix. In the run up this year’s National, let’s take a look at the current favourites with bookmakers, and their claim to being up to the task.

Tiger Roll

Currently 6-1 favourite, and understandably so, this Irish bred thoroughbred takes the top table when it comes to Grand National tips. Tiger Rolls credentials go without saying and so many punters can’t see past him. Winner of the previous two Grand National races, it was inevitable that the Michael O’Leary owned horse would attempt a record breaking three in a row. It’s not often that records are broken in a race with so much history, and so it was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. The odds are justified based on the fact that we already know that Tiger Roll has what it takes, and its recent performances have given us no reason to believe otherwise. Trainer Gordon Elliot has now even confirmed that “all being well” the ten year old will remain in training after the Grand National, and so this may not be the Swansong that some viewed it to be. The National of course is never a formality so time will tell if it’s a record breaking effort, or a race too far.

Native River

A 12-1 shot in mid February, Native River has been there, done that and got the t-shirt (or at least the saddle!). Welsh Grand National winner in 2016, Denman Chase in 2017, 2018 and 2020 and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in 2018. The only prize missing from the endless list of accolades is however quite a notable one, The Aintree Grand National. Trained by Colin Tizzard and with £1,000,000 in earnings to his name, many had been willing Native River on to take the National. There are unknowns, he’s a great jumper but would he be able to take to the taxing National hurdles? Owner Garth Broom also sounded a word of warning recently, saying that the immediate priority for the chaser is a second Cheltenham Gold Cup win. Broom cautioned that if he pours everything into that performance, he may not have enough in the tank going forward.

As it turns out, he may have had a point about pushing his luck. As, hot off the press today, it emerged that Native River has been withdrawn from the Gold Cup due to injury (and hence the Grand National too). This season ending tendon injury is no doubt just one of the many twists and turns that we’ll see in the run up to the 2020 Grand National. This should shake up the markets.

Burrows Saint

Also at odds of 12-1 is Burrows Saint. The Irish Grand National winner has had an impressive season and his display in Fairyhouse last April more than spoke for itself as did the recent Punchestown performance. The 7 year old looks to have plenty of gas in the tank and no shortage of ability. A versatile character racing off his Irish mark of 156, there’s plenty of reasons to think Burrows Saint should be in the running. It might, though, be worth keeping your powder dry in anticipation of a prep race over the fences. Depending on his performance that may inform your betting decisions.

Carlisle Racecourse Carlisle racecourse is a right-handed thoroughbred horse racing track located at the heart of beautiful Blackwell village in Carlisle, England. It is famous for holding flat racing in the summer and National Hunt races during winter. The 2.41 kilometer racecourse is owned and managed by the Jockey Club Racecourses. It was founded in the year 1904, after being moved from another venue to its present site. On the 2nd of July 1929, the racecourse made history when it became the first British racecourse for the Totalisator Board (a betting club) to operate their betting system.

The racetrack has been holding a series of races annually, and the most notable of them all include; Carlisle Bell, Eternal Stakes and ApolloBet Mares’ Chase. Carlisle Bell was inaugurated in the year 1599, making it one of the most ancient races. It was named in relation to the bells given to the winners of the race as an award during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. The race is run over a distance of 1,609 meters on a turf surface, and is only open to horses aged three years and above. The Eternal Stakes is scheduled for June of every year, and was first run in 2015 at Carlisle racecourse. It is open to fillies aged three years and above, racing over a total distance of 1,383 meters. Just like the Eternal Stakes, ApolloBet Mares’ Stakes was first run in the racecourse in the year 2015. It is the longest of them all, with horses covering a distance of 4,023 meters as they jump over a total of 16 fences. It takes place every November and horses aged four years and above take part in it.

Besides racing, Carlisle is also a venue for events such as conferences, seminars, exhibitions, parties and even weddings. It has a maximum capacity of 470 people with an ample parking space making it convenient and comfortable.

Faugheen Can Deliver Magical Farewell Over Fences at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins, especially in recent years, tends to be a lot more forthright when it comes to judging his horses and his own decisions. If he has made a mistake, he will say so. And, if there are doubts over whether a horse can perform well or not, Mullins will say it out loud. The trainer has achieved almost everything there is to desire in national hunt racing, and one would argue that he feels no pressure to hype his chances of success. In short, if Mullins has something to say, it’s worth listening to him. And recently, Mullins has been talking a lot about Faugheen.

The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner has had a glorious career, and while there has been talk of decline and retirement ever since Faugheen failed to defend the Champion Hurdle in 2016, it’s worth noting that he has won a Grade 1 race every year since he exploded onto the scene at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

Faugheen lit up Boxing Day races

Of course, his latest Grade 1 victory came over fences, unfamiliar territory for a horse that will always be synonymous with modern hurdling. And, that’s where Mullins believes he made the mistake, with the Carlow-based trainer lamenting the fact that he did not send Faugheen chasing at least a year earlier.

Still, Faugheen seems to be making up for lost time fairly quickly, winning his chasing debut last November and then bringing the house down in Limerick on Boxing Day with a thrilling victory in the Grade 1 Greenmount Park Novices’ Chase. That victory, where Faugheen put Samcro to the sword, really set tongues wagging on the chances of Faugheen doing something as a 12yo chaser.

As we mentioned, Mullins will not oversell the chances of Faugheen. So, when he says things like, “He still looks to be able to put it up to the top ones and it’s extraordinary that he doesn’t seem to have lost his spark at this stage of his career. I’d say he was as good at home as he ever was in the last few weeks.” Punters should take that at face value.

Faugheen favourite for Marsh Novices’ Chase

The upshot of all this is that Faugheen has been made the favourite for the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase – formerly the JLT Novices’ Chase – at the 2020 Festival. As you can bet on Cheltenham online with ease, it’s not difficult to find price fluctuations, but Faugheen is as high as 8/1 with Unibet and as low as 5/1 with Ladbrokes and Sky Bet. Others getting a mention include Fakir D’Oudairies 10/1, Samcro 12/1 and Champ 14/1.

Have bookies and punters jumped the gun too quickly on Faugheen? Are they backing the name rather than the evidence? One suspects the Dublin Festival next week, in which Faugheen is set to appear, will be pivotal to the betting markets surrounding the hugely popular horse. If Faugheen runs well at Leopardstown, then the odds will tumble. If not, then you will likely see a cooling of the market, and perhaps a decision by Mullins to use him elsewhere at the Festival. Faugheen has entries for the RSA Chase (16/1), the Stayers’ Hurdle (25/1) and National Hunt Chase (20/1).

Faugheen Can Deliver Magical Farewell Over Fences at Cheltenham

But, as it stands, the Marsh Novices’ Chase seems to be the likely route. If all goes well in Dublin next weekend, it will be one of the most scrutinised races of the Festival. Even for Mullins’ incredibly successful operation, Faugheen was a once-in-a-generation horse. You can hear keen affection in the trainer’s voice when he talks about him, and the same could be said for Ruby Walsh when he rode “The Machine” in his peak years. That affection for Faugheen has also found a home in the Cheltenham crowds. There will be no more popular winner at Cheltenham 2020 than “The Machine”.