The Betway Bet & Watch at Handicap (6.45) at Newcastle on Wednesday is the type of race that put the ‘egg’ in ‘egg and spoon’, but something has to win it and, with winning form in short supply, a shock result could be on the cards. Prisom has had plenty of chances since making a winning debut over 6 furlongs at Wolverhampton two years ago, but returns to Tapeta for the first time since going down by a short head over 7 furlongs at the West Midlands track last January. Gay Kelleway’s 4-year-old can race off a handicap mark 8lb lower – in fact, her lowest ever – which just gets her into this lowly 0-50 contest so, if she’s ever to add to her winning tally, she will surely have few better opportunities. She comes with risks attached, of course, but that comment applies equally to anything else in the field and her wily trainer usually knows the time of day.


Selection: Newcastle 6.45 Prisom to win  8/1


The Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock will be the first opportunity for us to see some of the leading chasers in the three-mile division making their return to action after having the summer off. This race also kicks off the opening leg of the Chase Triple Crown, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton and Cheltenham Gold Cup then set to follow.

Credit: Racing UK via Twitter


On the evidence of what we saw at the back end of last season in this division, the horse that really stood out was Sizing John as, not only did he prevail in the biggest race of the campaign, the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival, he proved that his success was no fluke and that he was entirely comfortable with this distance when he landed the Punchestown Gold Cup in Ireland.


Jessica Harrington’s runner often had to settle for second or third place in some of the leading 2m races over fences, largely due to the fact he kept running into Douvan, who was just in a different league. Since stepping up 3m and beyond, though, his rating has gone up sharply and there could be a lot more to come. Some punters are confident that he could complete the Chase Triple Crown this season. He is available at 5/4 in the horse racing betting at Haydock for the Betfair Chase and if he does succeed at the Lancashire track, his odds will be slashed to follow it up with victories at Kempton and Cheltenham.


Outlander is a horse who generally shows his best form when fresh early in the season. That was evident earlier this month when he claimed the Grade One Chase at Down Royal where he beat some good Irish horses including Our Duke and Road to Respect. Gordon Elliott’s runner showed his class in the Grade One Lexus Chase last season during the Festive meeting at Leopardstown, therefore, he has proven himself at this top level on more than one occasion. The only concern is that his form in the UK is not as good as Ireland; however, at odds of 10/1, he is worth taking a chance with against the market leaders.


Credit: Racing Post via Twitter


Tea for Two caused an upset last season at the Grand National meeting at Aintree when he scored in the Grade One Bowl Chase, where he beat the red-hot favourite Cue Card. The former winner of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton was fresh at the Merseyside track as he unseated his regular pilot Lizzie Kelly at the first fence of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nick Williams’ runner may be able to take advantage if some of the big guns in the Betfair Chase fail to produce their best for their seasonal reappearance. The eight-year-old has been consistent over the last couple of years since switching to fences. At 14/1, he is an excellent each-way proposition and one in which he is not without a chance of landing the first place prize money.


Likeliest Winner: Sizing John


Value Bets: Outlander @ 10/1 and Tea For Two @ 14/1


ruby walshIntroduction

As far as noteworthy names in racing go, few can come close to the honours list of Ruby Walsh. An incredibly talented jockey, Walsh has won just everything that one could hope to win as a jockey – and many honours more than once. Proving his staying power from the 90s where he was awarded the Irish amateur title at just 19 years of age, all the way to current day with his Australian Grand National Steeplechase win in 2015, he has more than earned his reputation and place in racing history. Add to that the incredible contribution that he makes to the sport in terms of his character and commitment, and it’s easy to see why Walsh has become such a beloved personality in the sport.

With 56 wins at the Cheltenham Festival alone, he has cemented himself as one of the most successful jockeys of all-time. Add in his dominance of the Irish National Hunt and Cheltenham Festival Best Jockey awards, and it’s easy to see why in the eyes of many that Ruby Walsh could be argued as the greatest of all-time.

Career Summary

Walsh’s career is illustrious to the point where it’s difficult to condense. He has been a consistent winner since he first appeared on the course in his teens. Having trained under his father and the likes of Maxwell Moran, his list of accolades are substantial and it’s easy to see why for many there are few in the industry who can match the quality and the class of Ruby Walsh. In addition to the aforementioned Cheltenham and Irish wins a highlight for the jockey has to be winning the Grand National on Papillon in 2000 aged just 20. There could be no doubting his abilities when he added a second Grand National win in 2005 on the Willie Mullins trained Hedgehunter. The very same season he won the Irish and Welsh national too. 

At just 38 years old now, there’s plenty of life left in his career. Already in recent times he’s won the 2016/17 INH Champion Jockey award – so he’s certainly not quite ready for the pipe and slippers yet. Injuries have been an issue at times, including a fractured wrist the day previous to the 2016 Grand National, but Walsh isn’t one to let these thing bring him down. In 2016-17 alone he’s had 371 runs (and 131 wins) in Irish Jump Racing and 24 runs (6 wins) in GB.  A busy man!

Career Highlights

Major Wins – Irish National Hunt Champion Jockey (12 times), Leading Cheltenham Festival Jockey (11 times), Grand National (2000, 2005), Irish Grand National (2000), Irish National (2005), Welsh National (2005), English (2005), Scottish National (2002), Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007, 2009), Queen Mother Championship Chase (2004, 2008, 2009), Tingle Creek Chase (2006), King George VI Chase (2006), Hennesy Gold Cup (2003, 2009), Whitbread Gold Cup (2001, 2003), Champion Hurdle (2011), Australian Grand National (2015).


When a horse surges to a famous victory it is typically the trainer that earns all the acclaim, but it is worth sparing a thought for the jockey. They are out there in the thick of the action, putting their bodies on the line in a bid to achieve sporting greatness, and without their mastery of the form there would be no horse racing. Over the years there have been countless examples of jockeys getting their tactics spot on and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with their heroics. Here are five of the very best performances from jockeys:

AP McCoy, 2002 Feast of St Raymond Novices Chase

Sir Tony is the most successful jockey in history and is fully deserving of all the accolades that have come his way. He spent plenty of time on hospital beds en route to winning 20 consecutive Champion Jockey titles and more than 4,000 races, and his body is now a patchwork of metal plates and scars.

He put in many stupendous performances throughout his long and distinguished career, soaring to victory in the Grand National and the Gold Cup, but one performance that stands out for sheer opportunism was the Feast of St Raymond Novices Chase back in 2002. McCoy was riding the favourite, Family Business, but was unseated with more than a circuit left to race. Five runners went on, but they too started to fall or refuse to jump, so McCoy remounted and came home alone, to the amazement of the crowd and punters up and down the country. Hundreds of thousands of pounds had been staked in betting shops across Britain on Family Business, so it was a tough day for the bookies.

Tom Cannon, 2012 Plumpton

Cannon has ridden plenty of winners during his illustrious career, but none will live in the memory quite like his ride at Plumpton in 2012.

He was unseated clearing a fence on In the Jungle and found himself clinging on for dear life. The overwhelming majority of jockeys would have tumbled to the turf and seen their dreams of victory go up in smoke. But Cannon is made of sterner stuff and he performed a Herculean feat of acrobatics, pirouetting in mid-air, clutching his mount’s neck and swivelling back onto his seat. He rallied and went on to win the race in sensational fashion.


Ruby Walsh, 2000 Grand National

Walsh is another jockey that has regularly battled back from horrendous injuries and emerged stronger each time. He had his spleen removed after a bad fall at Cheltenham in 2008 and four months later he was back in the saddle and landed seven winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

When you check out all the latest horse racing spread betting markets for the big meetings you will see that Walsh is regularly aboard the favourites, but he really does make a difference.

Arguably his greatest ride came in 2000, when he had been out with a broken leg but returned to win the Grand National for his father, Ted, on Papillon. The horse started the day at 33/1 but was heavily backed by punters and went all the way into 10/1. Walsh did not disappoint and produced a flawless performance to win it by a length and a half.


Frankie Detorri, 1996 Ascot

The most famous day in horse racing history saw Detorri pull off his Magnificent Seven and take the bookmakers to the cleaners. The day became known as the Mug Punters’ Revenge as the effusive Italian was backed heavily and made several spectators very rich. At such a competitive meeting, riding a single winner is a huge success, but for Detorri to land all seven winners on the card was positively flabbergasting.

He got off to a flying start on Wall Street, who won the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at 2/1, and then followed it up on 12/1 shot Diffident in the Diadem. Alarm bells started ringing when he claimed the feature race, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, on Mark of Esteem. By the time Decorated Hero won the fourth race of the day, punters were getting really excited and lumped on his final three runners of the day.

The bookmakers panicked and the odds on his runners plummeted, but they were still annihilated as Fatefully won at 7/4, Lochangel took the Blue Seal Stakes at 5/4 and then Detorri had the opportunity to make it a perfect seven on Fujiyama Crest. “I thought Frankie would be absolutely knackered and this old bugger takes a bit of riding over two miles,” said the horse’s trainer, Sir Michael Stoute. But Detorri produced one final heroic effort and rode Fujiyama Crest to victory, completing a 25,051/1 accumulator and sparking joy among thousands of punters.

Bob Champion, 1981 Grand National

This story has all the key elements of a heroic underdog tale. Chestnut gelding Aldaniti suffered a terrible leg injury in 1979 and was out for more than a year, but returned in time for the most famous race in the British calendar.

Champion had been struck down by testicular cancer and had only just recovered from an extensive bout of treatment and surgery sessions in time for the National. The duo was given little chance of victory, but both performed stupendously to win it by four lengths.

They walked off with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team award and the story warmed the hearts of millions.

Author bio

Martin Green is an experienced horse racing correspondent and tipster.

In the Equine Productions Handicap (4.00) at Newbury on Friday, Areen Heart was the apple of Richard Fahey’s eye at one point in his career, but became disappointing and left the yard in September to join David O’Meara. Any revival in his fortunes has not been immediately forthcoming, although he did run a little better – albeit ultimately disqualified and placed last – when third of eight, beaten 6 lengths, behind The Grape Escape in a 0-95 contest at Pontefract earlier this month. The son of Exceed And Excel has just a lowly Beverley maiden win to his name but, if David O’Meara can work the oracle, as he’s prone to doing with other trainers’ castoffs, he doesn’t look badly handicapped on the pick of his from for his previous trainer. Obviously, he comes with risks attached, but that should be reflected in his price and, if he is to fulfil at least some of his earlier potential, he needs to start winning races like this.

Selection: Newbury 4.00 Areen Heart to win  10-1