Today's feature race focus comes from Ffos Las as we delve into another competitive Novice Chase in our race of the day section. The Welsh venue has a strong seven race card meeting for a Wednesday and is the sole jumps meeting on offer for punters, flanked by three all-weather meetings.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup, Ryanair and Champion Chase entries were revealed yesterday! It's worth having a quick glance at the notable absentees and those looking to take their chance.
Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.
15:05 Wolverhampton - Royal Heart 6/1 into 9/2
15:55 Kempton - Igotatext 22/1 into 14/1
16:00 Ffos Las - Captain Claude 12/1 into 8/1
The morning market drifters !
Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?
13:10 Ffos Las - Templier 15/8 OUT 5/2
Mark your card
The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!
At Kempton in the 16:30 Handicap, jockey Daniel Tudhope has a 67% strike rate when riding for owners Clipper Logistics, and they partner with Small Print 5.59/2.
Trainer Adam West has booked jockey Georgia Dobie for Noahthirtywored 67.066/1 in the 18:30 Novice Stakes at Kempton and the pair boast a 50% strike rate when teaming up.
Kempton's feature race is the 19:00 Handicap. Uzincso 6.511/2 represents trainer John Butler and has form figures of 111141132 in handicaps, and jockey Luke Morris has a 50% strike rate for these owners.
At Ffos Las in the 12:40 Mares' Novices' Hurdle, trainer Fergal O'Brien has the short-priced favourite Phillipa Sue 1.910/11, but he is zero for 23 over hurdles at this venue, although won't have many better opportunities than this.
In the 13:45 Handicap at Ffos Las, trainer Dr Richard Newland has a 29% strike rate with runners over hurdles and saddles Wicked West 3.55/2.
In the 14:55 Mares' Handicap Hurdle at Ffos Las, trainer David Bridgewater sends out just his second runner over hurdles. He scored with his other, and Gaia Vallis 5.59/2 will look to keep his 100% record intact.
Trainer Toby Lawes will have his first runner over fences at Ffos Las with Alkopop 4.57/2 in the 15:25 Handicap Chase. He has made the 205-mile journey for one runner on the card.
At Wolverhampton in the finale at 16:08, trainer Phillip Makin has a 20% strike rate with horses wearing a first-time tongue-tie. Tommy R 15.014/1 sports the headgear for the first time today.
Horses for courses
This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today's tracks and could be in with a chance today.
13:25 Wolverhampton - Dark Side Prince - Has won here twice (100%)
15:25 Ffos Las - Robin Of Sherwood - Has won here twice (22%)
15:55 Kempton - Airshow - Has won here twice (40%)
19:00 Kempton - Uzincso - Has won here six times (55%)
Weighted to go well
"Weighted to go well" highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.
12:20 Wolverhampton - It's A Love Thing - Has won of 70 runs off 60
13:10 Ffos Las - Glance Back - Has won off 107 runs off 86
13:25 Wolverhampton - Strong Power - Has won off 75 runs off 65
14:35 Wolverhampton - Sweet Bertie - Has won off 77 runs off 59
This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.
Trainer Toby Lawes has had two winners from his last three runners (67%), and although a smaller operation than many yards, he tends to target his horses well. Today he has one entry, Alkopop 5.59/2 in the 15:25 Ffos Las.
Today's furthest traveller is trainer Gary Moore with his runner at Ffos Las Natural History 3.55/2 in the 13:45 Handicap Hurdle. The trainer has made the 216-mile journey for his sole runner on the card.
Race of the day
After a successful Novice Chase raid on Hereford yesterday, today, we take a closer look at Ffos Las's 14:20 Limited Novice Handicap Chase. We have just the three runners and heavy ground to contend with today. The market leader Gustavian is rightfully top of the tree after being well-fancied at Exeter only to unseat his rider at the first flight (unfortunately for my box guests and me).
Gustavian has a rock-solid profile for this contest, and it's hard to suggest he won't have a future in this sphere after jumping well on seasonal return at Uttoxeter in arguably a stronger contest than this.
He is now three for four on heavy ground (his latest unseat the fourth attempt), and he is a very strong stayer with abundant stamina.
Aidan Coleman riding for this yard is always a positive with a 25% strike rate, and Anthony Honeyball has an 18% strike rate at Ffos Las.
The positives do stack up, but it's hard to suggest he has plenty in hand of the handicapper off of this mark of 135, and his consistent profile sees him seven pounds higher (less the jockey claim) than his victory at Uttoxeter over hurdles.
It would be no surprise to see him run out a comfortable winner of this contest with improvement likely in this sphere, and he must be feared if backing any of the other four runners. However, from a punting perspective, he has been well found in the market.
Emir Sacre represents a powerful yard with an excellent 37% strike rate here, and he looks on a workable mark of 132 with one for such an unexposed profile.
His jumping will need to improve after an abysmal display at Doncaster on his latest start, but his penultimate effort at Carlisle is fresh in the memory, and it would be no surprise to see him bounce back.
He is the likely pace angle in this contest and could take some catching if let loose on the lead.
New Age Dawning returned from a 1000 day absence at Exeter over three miles 20 days ago and ran well for a long way before pulling up at the fourth last.
The handicapper has been quick to react, dropping him five pounds for that run, and he is the horse in the field that could have upwards of ten pounds in hand off of this lowly mark of 122.
He shaped with considerable promise before his absence and is entitled to improve for his latest outing with this drop back in trip a positive to his chances.
He is a riskier option in this contest but is open to improvement.
Big race verdict
Gustavian looks the obvious option in this contest, and he ticks plenty of boxes. Still, it could pay to take a chance with NEW AGE DAWNING, who should strip fitter for his latest effort and is interesting on the back of the handicapper's decision to drop him five pounds. The return to a smaller field could suit, and there are good reasons to think a better showing will be seen today.
Jump in bed with Timeform at Kempton
Timeform's Andrew Asquith highlights a Nap, Next Best and Each-Way selection at Kempton on Wednesday.
Read Timeform tips here.
Gold Cup, Ryanair and Champion Chase get the juices flowing
The initial entries came in yesterday for the Gold Cup, Ryanair and Champion Chase, making for some interesting reading.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Gold Cup had 30 entries, the smallest field since 2010. The Irish make up more than half of those with 16, including last years big three Minella Indo, A Plus Tard and Al Boum Photo. The Irish runners fill the top six in the betting, and according to the Betfair Sportsbook, Protektorat 14/1 for Dan Skelton leads the British hopes.
Some interesting entries include recent Long Walk Hurdle winner Champ trained by Nicky Henderson, whose Gold Cup run last year was surely too bad to be true. Angles Breath 66/1, who hasn't been seen since December 2019, is a surprising entry from the same stable, while Lucinda Russell has entered Novice Chaser Ahoy Senor.
The Ryanair saw a field of 36 entered with two British runners in the top ten of the betting, Shan Blue 12/1 and King George third Saint Calvados 12/1 lead the chances for the home side. Allaho 2/1 remains firm at the top of the market for a repeat victory in the race he dominated in excellent style last season.
The Champion Chase saw 22 stand their ground. There are no major surprises here with Shishkin and Energumene dominating the betting, but Envoi Allen 20/1 has been given the option along with owner mate Allaho 16/1.
Go West on Wednesday
Wicked West took a good step back in the right direction when third at Lingfield last time and is fancied to build on that performance in Ffos Las's 13:45 Handicap Hurdle.
Dr Richard Newland's runner was unfavourably positioned at the rear of the field in a slowly run race at Lingfield when he gave the winner and runner-up first run, but the way he stuck to the task at the death marked him down as one to follow.
The handicapper has been quick to relent by dropping him eight pounds in three runs, and he can easily be forgiven his reappearance run. He took two runs to hit full stride last term before bolting up in his Maiden Hurdle at this venue by 14 lengths, and on the balance of his form, he looks ready to punish the handicapper returned to this venue today.
He is versatile in terms of ground, looks on a very workable handicap mark, and this track saw him produce a career-best effort on his last visit.
Nothing in here looks well-handicapped enough to trouble him, and he must go close with improvement likely still to come.
There are plenty of punters that bet at the top of the market, but only a handful that is betting at odds-on, so it begs the question why do racing platforms continue to suggest that an odds-on favourite getting beat is a punishment for punters?
I would imagine that most casual punters are in the £5 - £20 per bet range and plenty smaller who look to take on shorties at the top of the market. That demographic will make up a significant portion of the social media platforms where stories and news gain their highest volume of views, so more than me must get bored of these types of stereotype headlines.
If I am having a punt in a race with an odds-on favourite, 99.9% of the time, I am trying to get it beat, and if I can't, it's a no bet race. I can imagine that is the same for most of you reading this and the population of the Twittersphere.
Obviously, for these horses to go off an SP of odds-on, someone must be backing them or inevitably, they will drift to odds against - in most cases.
Very few people can make it pay odds-on backing. You only have to listen to the latest Harry Findlay interview - a renowned odds-on backer - to hear how the value in these horses has decreased over the years.
It's time to move away from the stereotypical headline that the odds-on shot is the punter's friend. It's not.
Until tomorrow, be lucky.
Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7