Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader The Polytrack at Kempton Park, which was refurbished in 2015, 2016 and 2018, is a right-handed oval, consisting of an inner and an outer loop, measuring 10 furlongs and 8 furlongs respectively. The inner loop, over which races of the minimum distance are run, features a relatively short run to a tight, sweeping bend leading to a short home straight, less than a quarter of a mile in length.

Consequently, over 5 furlongs, horses trying to come from off the pace are at a disadvantage with those who race on, or close to, the pace, provided of course that the leaders do not go off too fast and ‘cut one another’s throats’ at the head of affairs. The latter situation is more likely to occur if there are two, or three, forward-racing types in opposition, so beware of any such race.

In fact, roughly one in three horses that makes the running over 5 furlongs at Kempton holds on to win. Unsurprisingly, the 5-furlong course record, 58.07 seconds, set in April, 2018, is held by A Momentofmadness, who made all the running from stall 3.

In terms of draw bias, the speedy, handy type who breaks quickly from a low draw is always likely to hold all the aces. Logically, horses drawn low are positioned next to the inside rail and, provided they run in a more or less straight line from start to finish, cover a shorter distance than those drawn middle or high.

Even so, a low draw is no longer a prerequisite for winning over 5 furlongs at Kempton.

Provided a horse drawn middle or high breaks quickly enough to lead, without expending too much energy in the early stages, its jockey can steer a course towards the inside rail and gain a similar advantage to a front-runner drawn low in the first place.

What Can We Learn From The 2019 Cheltenham November Meeting?

What Can We Learn From The 2019 Cheltenham November Meeting? A deluge of rain could not prevent Cheltenham’s fabled November Meeting from delivering its usual blend of excitement, drama and entertainment at the weekend. The course was besieged by downpours throughout the week and Friday’s card had to be abandoned due to flooding. However, the rain finally eased off and clerk of the course Simon Claisse decided that racing could go ahead on Saturday and Sunday. The bulk of the action was condensed into two bumper days and a host of runners assembled to battle it out for glory on an extremely sloppy course. Here is what we learned over the course of the weekend:

Runners That Love the Mud

The going was classed as soft, heavy in places, on Saturday and Sunday, and a number of runners positively relished the challenge. The Grade 3 BetVictor Smartcards Handicap Chase was a real endurance test on Saturday and Colin Tizzard’’s West Approach passed with flying colours. Much of the focus was on joint favourite Ranses De Teillee, a proven mudlark, but he finished fourth as West Approach delivered a commanding performance to seize the win. It ended a losing streak that stretched back almost two years and saw him emerge as a potential Grand National contender.

The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase on Sunday was another gruelling slog in the mud. The runners had to hang in there for 3m 6f 37y and it ultimately ended in a one-two for French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux, as Diesel D’Allier won from stablemate Urgent De Gregaine. The winner has great potential as a cross-country horse, while 11-year-old Urgent De Gregaine is being primed for one last hurrah at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

All of the winners at Cheltenham this weekend will be worthy of serious consideration when running on heavy ground in the future. The Met Office is forecasting a long, grim winter and we can expect many more gruelling races on sloppy courses, so these battled hardened victors will be on the radar of many punters whenever they appear throughout the rest of the season.

Defi Du Seuil Dazzles

A small but strong field lined up for the Grade 2 Shloer Chase on Sunday. It featured Paul Nicholls’ Politologue, a Grade 1 winner at Aintree last year, and former course winner Saint Calvados, along with Simply Ned, but they were no match for Defi Du Seuil. The six-year-old showed his potential with a thrilling victory in the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March, and he looked even stronger in overcoming tough conditions to beat the talented Politologue at the weekend.

Defi Du Seuil is fast becoming a course specialist, and he is now the outright favourite to win the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Some bookmakers are going as short as 4/1 on him, but others still have 7/1, and if you check out horse racing betting you can find attractive ante-post prices on Defi Du Seuil winning the big race. He is also the third favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and it will be interesting to see what direction Philip Hobbs steers him in.

It was never going to be ideal when the pace is that slow, so I’m delighted he’s won,” said Hobbs. He obviously stays very well, but he has loads of pace. “We’ll take it race by race, but I’d imagine he will go the Tingle Creek. Sandown is stiffer than here, so it will probably suit him.”

The Happiest Diva in Town

Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva was not an overwhelmingly popular pick among punters to win the BetVictor Gold Cup this weekend. No mare had won the race since Lady Cricket in 2000, and she was brought down in the same race last year, so she flew under the radar in the build-up to the meeting. There was a great deal of hype surrounding favourite Slate House, but he started poorly. He rallied and was among a group of four challengers when he fell at the penultimate fence. It ultimately boiled down to a thrilling scrap between 14/1 shot Happy Diva and 20/1 hopeful Brelan D’as, and Happy Diva snatched victory by a neck.

It could prove to be a breakthrough win for 24-year-old jockey Richard Patrick. “It’s massive for me,” he said. “I’m coming to the end of my claim and you need to be seen on the big days winning these big races. I couldn’t have had a better run today.” It was his 20th run on Happy Diva and he praised the mare for her heart and determination. Lee called her “a gutsy mare”.

Ay, Harambe!

The Greatwood Handicap was arguably the most exciting race of the weekend. Lizzie Kelly, just back in action after breaking her arm at Exeter last month, made all the running aboard Monsieur Lecoq. The five-year-old began to tire and Hobbs’ 9/1 chance Gumball surged to the front of the field ahead of Quoi De Neuf with a terrific jump over the penultimate fence. Gumball was flying and he made a mockery of owner Terry Warner’s fears that he would not be suited to the heavy going, while Quoi De Neuf was also looking extremely strong.

Yet Kelly continued to drive Monsieur Lecoq on and it looked like developing into a three-horsed race, with 16/1 shot Harambe in back in fourth. A magnificent jump by Monsieur Lecoq over the final hurdle saw him regain the lead. Harambe made up a huge amount of ground as they soared up the hill, and Monsieur Lecoq was suddenly under immense pressure from three runners. They jostled for position and any one of the four could have won it. Monsieur Lecoq looked set to hold on, but Harambe agonisingly reeled him in and clinched it by a neck from Gumball and Monsieur Lecoq, with Quoi De Neuf a length and a quarter back in fourth. It was spine-tingling stuff.

Budding Stars Emerge

The November Meeting is the first big event of the National Hunt season and many punters cast an eagle eye over proceedings as they aim to identify superstars of the future. There were plenty of impressive performances on show in the Cheltenham bog. Allmankind secured an emphatic victory in the JCB Triumph Trial on Saturday, and Jatiluwih did well to score again for Hobbs in the BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.

There was a surprise in the Arkle Trial on Sunday as Put The Kettle On got the better of favourite Al Dancer. She led from the front throughout the entire race and she delivered a really brave performance to see off the chasing pack. She jumped beautifully and finished strong to finish two and a half lengths clear of Al Dancer. “Forget the kettle, get the Champagne, she’s won at Cheltenham!” said the announcer.

Great Week for the O’Neills

Conditional jockey Jonjo O’Neill Junior rode the heavily backed Duc De Beauchene to a fine victory in the first race of the card on Sunday. Trainer David Pipe, owner JP McManus and Sir AP McCoy were among the first to congratulate him following the win. It came just a few days after brother Anthony secured his first ever victory as an amateur, while their famous father won at Uttoxeter this weekend. “It has been a good week,” said the rider. “We are happy and grateful Mr McManus for supporting us. I’m very happy with the way it’s going at the moment, I just don’t want to rest on my laurels and keep going.”

How to bet on the football

How to bet on the football With the possible exception of horse racing, football is the most popular sport on which to place a wager. It certainly attracts the most amateur punters. These are people who are less interested in betting with the objective of winning than in simply placing a wager to “put their money where their mouth is” and backing their favourite team, regardless of the odds on offer or the chance of success.


Football betting has gathered new momentum in the internet age. No longer does placing a bet mean queueing up in a betting shop with your betting slip in hand. The ability to bet online has opened up the idea of football betting to more people, but it has also led to a wider variety of bets that can be placed. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular.


Full time result and the Asian Handicap


The obvious type of bet is on the full time result. This might sound self-explanatory, but even this has variations. Sure, you can simply bet on Sheffield United to beat Manchester City if you wish, but there is also the possibility of an Asian Handicap or a double chance bet.


The Asian Handicap concept is designed to eliminate the draw as an option and also to make seemingly one-sided match ups a little more interesting. So in the above example, a bookmaker might give Sheffield United a handicap of +1.5 goals. This will be added to their score at full time. Effectively, this means that if you back Sheffield United, then you need them to win, draw or lose by a single goal in order to collect your winnings. On the other hand, if you back City, they need to win by two goals or more.


A double chance bet does exactly what it says and doubles your chances of winning. Here, you bet on two of the possible three results, ie:


  • Sheffield United win or a draw
  • Manchester City win or a draw
  • Sheffield United win or Manchester City win


Just keep in mind that with a double chance bet, the odds are going to be significantly shorter.


Betting on the long game


It’s not just matches you can place a bet on. Before the season even gets underway, punters are fond of betting on who is going to finish top of the table. But that’s only one of the long term bets you can place. Here are some other popular ones:


  • Top goalscorer – last year, the Premier League golden boot was shared three ways – surely that can’t happen again. Right now, Sergio Aguero is front runner, but you can never rule out Harry Kane, who looks a good call at 4/1.


  • Relegation – will we see this year’s promoted teams yoyoing back down? Right now, Newcastle look in the biggest trouble, but there’s plenty of time for that to change.


  • Top Six finish – there’s a real possibility of a change at the top of the table, with some Big Six teams struggling this year. If you’d backed the likes of Bournemouth or Leicester to finish in the top six at the start of the season, you’d be laughing now!