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Charlie’s Thursday Super Seven - Racing Preview.
Despite parts of Taunton still reportedly being only accessible via a submarine racing looks set to go ahead Thursday for a cracking seven race card.

Paul Nicholls’ local track has been a happy hunting ground this season but I think a number of his runners could bump into a couple of good ones, starting with Tim Vaughan’s Fayette County (2.40) taken to turn over Nicholls’ Vicente.

Fayette County won a warm bumper at Down Royal before arriving in England and made a pleasing debut over hurdles splitting the pair of Milan Bound and Blakemount at Carlisle. The latter is a 140 rated novice and Cheltenham bound, whilst the winner has subsequently won since and his form looks the strongest in the race.

Nicholls should be able to make amends with Ceaser Milan (4.10) however who was a course and distance winner when scoring on handicap debut here last week. He was well punted and readily drew clear winning by 23 lengths and a steering job under a penalty, fingers crossed the price won’t be too skinny.

Tornado In Milan (3.10) came roaring back to form at the track two starts ago and loves it when the mud is flying, he looks to given trainer Evan Williams another success here after winning at the track last month.

That win came as part of a four-timer for Williams on the day and he came back here earlier in the month to take advantage of a 2lb lower mark over hurdles, unlucky to bump into Paul Nicholls’ highly touted Virak.

He is better over fences and despite Sound Investment re-opposing on 5lb better terms, Tornado In Milan loves the track and will be better suited to the testing ground more than most. Massena is respected for Venetia Williams but it could be a case of going to the well once too often with him.

David Pipe’s The Darling Boy (5.10) should be able to go one better than his second on his seasonal beau at Bangor, running the well backed Brian Ellison favourite Kayfrou to within a short head. A 2lb rise seems fair and further improvement is expected with the cobwebs blown away after the 9-y-o’s first run for 510 years, Tom Scudamore replaces Kieron Edgar in the plate.

There’s an interesting card at Ludlow with the feature handicap chase over three miles attracting a strong field including last year’s winner Ballyoliver, again for Venetia.

He’s lost his way as of late however and with more questions than answers looking through the runners, a chance can be taken on Tom George’s Forgotten Gold (3.30). Paddy Brennan takes the ride with the George/Brennan partnership in good form, combining for four winners and a further five seconds from 19 runners so far this month.

Forgotten Gold unseated at Fakenham on his seasonal beau when looking a likely winner and made a similar error when falling last month at Wincanton but remains of great interest, providing his jumping improves.

Pure Science (5.00) runs in the finale and looks well-treated from a mark of 116 and Ryan Hatch taking a further 5lb off the 6-y-o. He was touted as being a potential superstar when finishing 6th in the Champion Bumper last year and has taken time to come to hand and looks to have little to beat in the conditionals handicap hurdle that rounds off the card.

Godolphin’s Ihtimal (4.25) is the star attraction at Meydan running in the UAE Oaks and is the one to beat, providing she handles the step up in trip. The filly beat a host of rivals that re-oppose last time out and is the one to beat.

Be lucky

Charlie
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Grand National 2014 preview.
Former Talksport man Charlie McCann takes a good look at the #2014GrandNational and gives us his antepost tips. View his Grand National preview & selections below.

The weights were announced in London on Tuesday for the greatest horse race in the world the 2014 Crabbie’s #GrandNational to be held on Saturday April 5th.

Despite carrying top-weight of 11st 10lbs Tidal Bay has been given a great chance by the handicapper having stayed on into second over a now, seemingly, inadequate 3 miles at Leopardstown at the weekend in the Grade One Irish Hennessy. This will be the teenager’s 43rd and final race of an extraordinary career which has included a win at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2008 in the Arkle Trophy.

Tidal Bay is trained by Paul Nicholls, who saddled the winner of the race a couple of years ago with Neptune Collonges, and it should be noted that four of the last five winners of the race have carried 11 stone or more with only Auroras Encore 12-months ago bucking that trend.

No teenager has won the race since Sergeant Murphy back in 1923 but Tidal Bay is an exceptional horse although he did unseat Brian Hughes in this race back in 2011 when in the care of Howard Johnson. He is a must for any shortlist given he will bypass Cheltenham in order to be freshened up for his swansong.

The yard of Rebecca Curtis have not had the greatest of winters and there has not been a Welsh-trained winner of the race since Kirkland back in 1905, but my goodness they have come close in recent years and I take TEAFORTHREE to go two better than last year.

A winner of the 4m National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham a couple of years ago he subsequently finished runner up to Monbeg Dude (13lbs worse off at Aintree) in the Welsh National and he is entitled to come on for his reappearance when back in mid-division at Chepstow over Xmas. He has a bit to find with Tidal Bay on that effort but the yard were quiet at the time and handicapper Phil Smith has given him a chance.

There is a train of thought that Nick Schofield went for glory too soon last year and he is likely to hang onto him longer if he gets the leg up although he might be claimed for one of the Nicholls-trained runners in the race. He is the antepost recommendation.

Monbeg Dude put up a career best performance when scoring at Cheltenham back in December and he could run in both the National Trial at Haydock on Saturday and the Gold Cup next month before taking his chance at Aintree. Trained by Michael Scudamore the horse already has one National (Welsh) to his name and it would cap a wonderful few months for former England Rugby Union international Mike Tindall, one of the Oydunow syndicate who own the horse, whose wife Zara Phillips, grand-daughter to the Queen, gave birth to baby Mia Grace 16th in line to the throne earlier in the year.

Monbeg Dude had been previously considered a soft ground horse before his latest success and he strikes me as an ideal candidate for the race despite the lack of experience over the larger obstacles. I wouldn’t want him to have too hard a race at either Haydock or Cheltenham in preparation for the National but he could easily run into a place in the Gold Cup. 

There will inevitably be a strong Irish challenge and Prince de Beauchene, in the same ownership as Tidal Bay, could be the pick having missed the race for the last couple of years through injury. Trainer Willie Mullins has long considered him an ideal type for the race and he is due to carry 10st 10lbs which looks, potentially, well treated on his best form.

Sunnyhillboy went down by the narrowest of margins in the race a couple of years ago, before unseating when well held 12-months ago. He showed he was no back number when scoring over timber at Cheltenham in December and could easily sneak into a place. The last two winners of the race have been 11-years-of-age and Sunnyhillboy is one of a number likely to carry the famous colours of JP McManus at Aintree on April 5th.

Crabbies’ Grand National Runners: 

Monbeg Dude
Tidal Bay 
Triolo D’Alene
Rocky Creek
Teaforthree
Long Run
Colbert Station
On His own 
Godsmejudge
Hawkes Point
Prince de Beauchene
33s bar

Recommendation: Teaforthree (each way 5 places).

Be lucky

Charlie McCann
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Moyes’ boys to bounce back.
Live on Sky Sports 1: Tuesday 19.45: #ManUtd should beat Sunderland in the Capital One Cup but they’re also set to concede.

There was more misery for #ManchesterUnited on Sunday as they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Swansea at Old Trafford and boss David Moyes’s has subsequently been cut to be the next Premier League manager out of a job.

The pressure on the Scot is certainly increasing but a trip to Wembley would help the ex-Everton man’s cause and his United have the chance to get there in the Capital One Cup as they take on Sunderland over two legs in the semi-final.

Moyes made changes against Swansea with the first-leg at the Stadium of Light in mind but even though he should field a stronger line-up plenty of punters sense a vulnerability in the United ranks and it would be no surprise about a Black Cats triumph attracted cash.

Nevertheless, the visitors look vulnerable enough at the back to concede, lending appeal for an away success combined with both teams finding the net and more specifically, a 2-1 triumph for United, who will be satisfied with that result knowing the second leg at home is to come.
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Charlie’s racing preview on Wednesday.
The booking of AP McCoy for Mister Philson (1.50), blinkered for the first time, would suggest connections mean business in the handicap chase at Hexham for Irish trainer Stuart Crawford who has already had a winner in Britain this week courtesy of Strongpoint at Musselburgh on Monday. A winning point-to-pointer the gelding won a chase at today’s track from a 1lb lower mark earlier in the year and his recent run at Haydock should have blown the cobwebs away.

Honest John looks very well handicapped on his hurdle form but he gave little encouragement that a return to form was imminent when unseating at Market Rasen last time and a bigger danger might come from The Thirsty Bricky who ran very well at Wetherby last time and this slightly stiffer test of stamina will suit.

McCoy, primarily, is at Hexham to ride Regal Encore (12.50) in the opener and the handicapper has given him a mark of 130 before his trip to the North East. The horse runs in the colours of JP McManus and might need to be raised a few pounds by the handicapper ahead of a possible tilt at races such as the valuable Newbury Handicap Hurdle run in February. Runner up in the Festival Bumper back in March he is surely going to be much better than a 130-rated animal and he is a fascinating horse for the future.

No guaranteed front-runner in the extended two-mile chase which tempers confidence in Pamak D’Airy (2.20) but he has run very well on both starts so far this season and this stiffer test will suit more than at Sedgefield last time. Young conditional Tony Kelly has ridden the horse on his last two starts, is good value for 5lbs and can make it third time lucky.

At Leicester Balbriggan did us a favour over today’s C&D ten days ago but I think this is a tougher test and just favour Little Chip and The Musical Guy (2.10) with marginal preference for the latter in a cracking little race. The selection remains a maiden after 15 career starts but todays conditions look ideal and he can, belatedly, get his head in front.

If Bertie’s Desire (2.40) jumps better than he did at Huntingdon last time he must have a leading chance but the waters are muddied by the fact that The Last Night runs in the same colours trained by Emma Lavelle who can certainly get them ready following a lay-off. The Last Night is a brother of Tocco Ferro and if the market spoke in his favour, returning from a 421-day break, I suggest we follow the money.

Foxclub has been raised 8lbs despite coming down two out when looking to hold every chance at Wincanton and lurking near the foot of the weights is the juvenile Garde Ville (3.10) bought by connections for 42,000 Guineas in July after showing some promise at Auteuil in his native France earlier in the year.

Lady Rosamunde is a fascinating runner in the two-mile handicap at Kempton for Marcus Tregoning stepping up to the trip for the first time; she ran very well on this surface on her racecourse debut and must go close if fully tuned up after a 152-day break. Almost half of the nine-runner field are last time out winners but I hope Clerk’s Choice (6.10) can turn back the clock back with his first trainer William Jarvis. The selection ran a cracker back on the level here over a mile-and-a-half three weeks ago and, granted a decent pace, he can gain his first win on the flat since June 2009.

Be lucky

Charlie
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Olivier opener shot.
Live on ITV: Tuesday 19.45: Olivier Giroud is likely to net first as #Arsenal tackle #Marseille in the Champions League.

Buoyant Arsenal moved four points clear the top of the Premier League on Saturday and they also lead their #ChampionsLeague group, albeit on goal difference, with just two matches remaining.

The good news for the Gunners is that their penultimate fixture is at home to Marseille, who have lost all four matches to date and make Arsene Wenger’s troops odds on to collect a three points that could take them to the knockout stage depending on the outcome in the pool’s other clash between Borussia Dortmund and Napoli.

Arsenal of course, will take nothing for granted against the French visitors but Marseille already have a host of injury worries and could also make several changes with qualification now beyond them.

Subsequently, the Gunners should register a relatively comfortable success and bookies make them a generous even money to prevail ‘to nil’ at the Emirates Stadium.
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Shutout a shoo-in.
Live on Sky Sports 2: Tuesday 19.45: Chelsea are tempting  to beat Basel ‘to nil’ in their crucial #ChampionsLeague clash.

After a shock home defeat to #Basel in their Champions League opener, #Chelsea have won three on the spin to top Group E and they know that victory in the return fixture against the Swiss outfit will propel them into the knockout stages.

The Londoners should grab a share of the spoils, which would also see them progress but buoyed by an emphatic victory at West Ham on Saturday, the visitors won’t be happy to settle for a draw.

Chelsea haven’t conceded a European goal since that loss to Basel and the bookies post generous odds against them combining victory with a clean sheet in this one.
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Charlie’s Weekend Whispers.
Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with seven to follow on Saturday at Down Royal, Newmarket, Santa Anita and Wetherby. 

It is hard to know where to start with such a magnificent weekend of racing including the Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita, the Bet 365 Charlie Hall Chase from Wetherby and the Grade 1 JnWine Chase from Down Royal.

Let’s start with tonight’s Breeders Cup and in the Classic due off at 12.35 I can’t see past Game On Dude, runner up in the corresponding race back in 2011 but a disappointing favourite 12-months ago, who can make it third time lucky.  Trainer Bob Baffert wasn’t happy with the ride his gelding was given last year and jockey Mike Smith is unbeaten on the horse this year when he has carried all before him. As with all dirt races the start will be important and Baffert insisted his horse lost

Planteur and Declaration Of War are the British interest with the latter having his first start since landing the Juddmonte International at York back in August; Aidan O’Brien has never saddled the winner of the Classic, although Giant’s Causeway was only beaten a neck by Tiznow at Churchill Downs, and the concern with the British horses is they get too far back but there is sure to be a speed duel up front and Declaration Of War oozes class. He is a fascinating contender but I thought Game ON Dude looked really well when he worked at the track earlier in the week.

The Europeans really should have a couple of winners on the card though with Dank (7.43) in the fillies’ and mares’ turf and The Fugue (10.22) in the 1m 4f Turf; the former put up a career best performance when easily winning the Beverly D Stakes at Arlington back in August and she will bounce off the forecast firm ground with Ryan Moore keeping the mount.

William Buick does the steering on The Fugue who was an unlucky loser in the fillies’ race last season but takes on the boys stepping up in trip 12-months later. Ballydoyle’s Irish Guineas winner Magician is a fascinating contender stepping up in trip; he looked a Derby horse when scoring at Chester in the BetVictor Dee Stakes in May but then sluiced up at the Curragh back at a mile. He has not been seen since finishing last of nine in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and there are mixed messages from his breeding as to whether he will stay 12f.

At Wetherby At Fishers Cross (3.00) is hard to oppose for Rebecca Curtis and AP McCoy who, at the time of writing, is eight short of 8000 winners; the selection may want softer ground going forward but you don’t ride 3992 winners and counting without knowing the time of day and it is sure to be a decent test.

I would have been very keen on Harry Topper (3.35) if the ground was testing in the Charlie Hall but little rain is forecast and former Gold Cup winner Long Run is difficult to oppose for Nicky Henderson and Sam Waley-Cohen.

If normal service is resumed at Wetherby I am hoping there is a changing of the guard in Ireland as I am sweet on the chances of Mount Benbulben who I have backed at a big price for the King George and for today’s JN Wine Chase at Down Royal at 2.30.

The selection has always had stacks of ability but was incredibly frustrating last season until everything fell right at Punchestown when he ran away with a Grade 1 chase; yes he was helped by a number of fancied runners failing to complete the course but he must go right-handed and trainer Gordon Elliot has said this horse will be his flag-bearer this season.

The brilliant Sizing Europe has never won over 3m and he will be 12 at the end of the year but he is obviously the main danger having made a winning reappearance at Gowran Park (2m 4f) last month.

There is a fascinating mile handicap at Newmarket and like the look of Buckstay (2.20) trained locally by Peter Chapple-Hyam; 3-y-olds have won the race three times in the last four years and think the selection and John Gosden’s Magistral can fight out the finish.

I shall be at Ascot where I hope to see a winning hurdling debut.

Be lucky

Charlie
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Five horses to follow on Saturday.
Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at #Newmarket, Santa Anita and Wetherby on Saturday.

LONG RUN (3.35) has Wetherby’s feature bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at his mercy after the decision to keep top Irish challenger First Lieutenant on home soil. Nicky Henderson has altered the dual King George and 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero’s early-season schedule, opting to come here rather than Haydock’s Betfair Chase later this month. Long Run has failed to win first time up for the past three years but has run into the likes of Kauto Star and Silviniaco Conti at Haydock. There is nothing of that calibre in opposition here, although Unioniste and course and distance winner Cape Tribulation are capable of making it an exciting spectacle.

At Fishers Cross is many people’s idea of a future World Hurdle winner following last year’s heroics, principally when defeating The New One in Cheltenham’s Classic Hurdle, winning the Albert Bartlett at the Festival then mopping up the John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. Striking a cautionary note, trainer Rebecca Curtis has warned her stable star may just need this run. Of course, that qualification could equally apply to chief rival TIDAL BAY (3.00), but there was no sign of cobwebs 12 months ago when Paul Nicholls’ veteran chopped down Crack Away Jack on the run-in to score by almost five lengths. Tidal Bay chased home subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup victor Bobs Worth in the Hennessy Gold Cup trying to concede 6lb, then won an epic Lexus Chase at Leopardstown. He sets a lofty standard for At Fishers Cross to pass.

The concluding handicap hurdle will ensure a more open market and ARDLUI (4.05) can continue Alan King’s fine start to the new campaign. His dual-purpose stayer probably ran his best race over hurdles at Newbury last autumn when third behind At Fishers Cross and another subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner, Salubrious.

At Newmarket, FRENCH NAVY (3.30) should make a bold bid to repeat last year’s comfortable success in the Ben Marshall Stakes, a Listed one-mile contest. He was always travelling well that day, readily pulling three lengths clear of Red Jazz, and this looks easier than his latest venture in the Group 3 Darley Stakes when fourth to Highland Knight. The extra furlong just seemed to find him out and this mile is ideal.

The Breeders’ Cup seems to be losing some of its lustre and it will be interesting to see how betting turnover stands up. There is still plenty to absorb trans-Atlantic punters and Sir Michael Stoute’s Dank is all the rage in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Turf over 10f. She was particularly impressive in the Beverly D Stakes at Arlington and is clearly a good traveller. She will go off at short odds, however, and ROMANTICA (7.43) appeals from an each-way angle at around 5-1 with most firms. The Santa Anita track will be riding slick and the French raider possesses a decisive turn of foot on fast ground.

Tally Ho

Alan
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Rugby League World Cup day 7.
Live on Premier: Friday 20.00: #NewZealand meet #France in Avignon on Friday in the #RugbyLeagueWorldCup
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