RACING AHEAD: The latest tips, trends and racing news

Racing pundit Tony McCormick from presents his weekly column, highlighting a looming crisis and looking forward to the renewals of two grand old races.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 27th November 2015, 8:01 am
RACING AHEAD with Tony McCormick

Our trainers to watch in November continued in a rich vein of form, going in to the final week of the month.

Paul Nicholls secured his seventh and eighth wins for our angle.

The criteria for following Nicholls for the last few days of the month are chasers, beginners chasers, novice chasers and handicap chasers, aged between four and eight, with an starting price no bigger than 10/1.

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Venetia Williams had two winners from nine runners in the week at 9/2 and 9/4.

The angle though is still in profit with a healthy 30% strike rate.

Handicap chasers and handicap novice chasers, with an SP up to 16/1 are still to be given a second glance.

Cheltenham’s most prestigious races are under threat of losing sponsorship, following the news that Betfred are ending their backing of the Gold Cup.

The story is that in October, Britain’s most powerful racecourse groups said that they will adopt a range of measures, including a ban on new sponsorships by bookmakers that make no contribution to the sport from offshore earnings, as part of a concerted effort with the British Horseracing Authority to address a “haemorrhage” in funding from the Levy system.

All racing turnover on offshore internet sites is beyond the reach of the statutory Levy system, which has returned money to the sport from high-street betting shops for half a century.

As more betting turnover moves online, the BHA estimates that the sport is currently losing £30m annually as a result, a figure that can be expected to increase in future years.

In an attempt to collect some or all of the missing millions, the BHA said in October that it will award authorised betting partner status to bookmakers who have “a fair and mutually sustainable funding relationship” with the sport.

At present, the online firms Betfair, Bet365 – which recently moved its operation offshore – and 32Red voluntarily contribute 10.75% of gross profits, the current rate of the Levy, on their British business and will qualify for authorised betting partner status from January 1, 2016.

BetFred, Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill have collectively made additional, voluntary payments to the Levy of £4.5m over the last year, but this is well short of the 10.75% paid via Levy on their onshore cash business.

It’s a double header of top-class races this weekend as Newbury host the Hennessey Gold Cup and the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle takes place at Newcastle.

The Hennessey should be between second season chaser Saphir Du Rheu and Gold Cup winner Coneygree, while The Young Master (12/1) should come on for his seasonal debut.

For big price followers, Emma Lavelle’s Fox Appeal could grab a place at around 50/1, though William Hill have the eight-year-old at half that price.

Willie Mullins-trained Arctic Fire deserves a Grade One victory to his name.

In 2015, the six-year-old has finished second to Hurricane Fly in the Irish Champion Hurdle, second to Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and second to the same horse at the Punchestown Festival.

Arctic Fire has improved 19lb since finishing third of six in last term’s Fighting Fifth behind Irving, who again lines up to defend his crown, who has himself gone up 13lbs to a mark of 162 since winning in 2014.

For more details on the Cheltenham ‘Insiders’ insight Pack go to