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MACHINE? YOU DIDN’T EVEN GET A RUN: It happens to the best and it happens to the rest. But that doesn’t stop Daqman gritting his teeth at the fate of his sensational naps sequence: spoiled on Saturday when Grey Diamond slithered and fell after jumping to lead at the last; spoiled yesterday when 2-1 favourite Demachine stumbled and unseated after the very first fence.

CHELTENHAM RED FLAGS: Press and bookie are tempting you to Cheltenham Festival punts but Daqman checks out the stats and waves some red flags today and tomorrow.


REMEMBER IT’S AN OLD PHOTO..

See how they won. The stats are a vital clue to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where the trends are to younger horses.

There have been no winners of a double-figure age this century. The last one was Cool Dawn (1998); otherwise you have to go back 30 years. Only Kauto Star (2007 and 2009) has lost the crown and won it back.

Add these two stats together and Al Boum Photo, the winner for Willie Mullins in 2019 and 2020 when aged seven and eight, has a massive task to regain the title, now 10.

More red flags. Though the Irish have won it six times in the last eight years, Willie Mullins has had no other Gold Cup winner; Al Boum Photo apart, it’s not his race.

His next best in the renewal in March, Tornado Flyer, is only 1-10 over fences in more than two years, and has already finished behind Allaho (twice), A Plus Tard and Melon.

Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon, who were ‘in the four’ behind him in the King George, are not Gold Cup acceptors, so sole support for his King George form lies with third-placed Saint Calvados, who is unfancied at 40-1 for Cheltenham.

Champ is another 10-year-old featuring in the market but he is a much shorter price for the Stayers Hurdle.

Last year’s Gold Cup one-two, Minella Indo and A Plus Tard (Al Boum Photo third) have both been beaten since and Protektorat is the young pretender at age seven, the time of their lives when the truly great winners began their reign: Arkle, L’Escargot, Captain Christy, Best Mate and Kauto Star.

I have Protektorat (at 14-1) running for me from the Fortune Cookies column, where I’ve already written about his chances and had a 4-1 win from him in the Cookies list.


BOY BACK IN BEST CONDITIONS

⭕ 1.20 Exeter Breffniboy landed a hat-trick just over a year ago on soft ground but has been unable to step up in grade or trip since then on a sounder surface.

Back to a shorter trip and on the soft after a run back, he could get a good tow today from Honneur d’Aljonc (made all at Taunton in a low-grade novice hurdle).

Esprit Du Large would win it on 2019 form of four wins, hurdles and fences, but has failed to finish in five of his last six starts.

Kissesforkatie scored over the Exeter CD the last day but that was a mares-only hurdle and she is 7lb higher.

I prefer another Venetia Williams mudlark, Georges Saint, winner twice on heavy in France and promising over shorter when making his English debut. This is the grey’s handicap debut.

BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE 3.6 Georges Saint, 11.5 Breffniboy


POWER FORM HAS BEEN FRANKED

⭕ 1.40 Doncaster Sam Thomas, Welsh Grand National winning trainer over Christmas but unlucky when Grey Diamond fell when taking the lead at Wincanton on Saturday, has a big chance here with Our Power, joint-top rated for this 2m 4f handicap chase.

Both Our Power and The Golden Rebel, his equal off 134, are both winners on the last day.

Our Power, only an 81 on the Flat (class 4), shot up the hurdle rankings when he won the Silver Plate at Kempton in March 2020, on the same kind of surface he is likely to meet today (good to soft).

His first two chases brought him a game success at Wincanton from Jacamar, who franked the form by beating the useful Mister Coffey at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The Golden Rebel beat a Nicky Henderson favourite when scoring here at Doncaster earlier in December.

🤔 LAYS LOGIC The handicapper has dropped Sam Barton 9lb, unwilling to take on board a myriad of excuses for his two autumn defeats by a total of 67 lengths.

Morning-market punters say the 9lb is a gift but favourite backers have to assume that wind surgery, a tongue-tie and cheekpieces will combine to lift him to the £11,000 prize.

My Fortune Cookies ‘one for next time’ list includes Beakstown, surprisingly well backed for the Winter Gold Cup at Cheltenham and, after his good run at Aintree, he should go well back on a conventional track today.

Erne River has been making the running over hurdles and, as an Irish Point winner over 3m, cannot be ignored, unexposed in his first chase on a top track here. He’s not yet been out of the frame.

Gallyhill has to bounce back and the rest must improve, so I’m going with Beakstown and Our Power, though Erne River could be anything.

BETDAQ value 6.9 Beakstown, 7.3 Our Power


LUCK TO BE AN ANGEL TONIGHT

⭕ 7.20 Southwell Four recent winners clash in this class-3 sprint on the Tapeta at Southwell.

🤔 LAYS LOGIC The morning favourite, Harry Three, goes for a hat-trick but his Kempton double doesn’t stand up well; all four horses placed behind him have been beaten in class-5 races.

Similarly, those placed behind Spring Is Sprung at Windsor have managed one lowly success from 13 starts between them.

Apache Star also beat nothing well the last day. That leaves Fearless Angel and Kodias Sangarius (doubtful runner).

Fearless Angel (BETDAQ 3.15) won in class 5 at Wolver but the second franked the form next time out and Fearless Angel herself wasn’t beaten far (fifth) in a big-field Listed at Newbury.

DAQMAN’S BETS

1.20 Exeter (win 10 each)
BET 4pts win GEORGES SAINT
BET 1pt win BREFFNIBOY

1.40 Doncaster (win 12 each)
BET 2pts win BEAKSTOWN
BET 2pts win OUR POWER

7.20 Southwell (win 10 nap)
BET 5pts win FEARLESS ANGEL


What are points? Points facilitate a staking plan, which is the secret to creating profit. One point is whatever you choose: a pound, a euro, or whatever ….

Start with a bank and decide how much you can afford to lose over a period of time, and determine the size of your bets accordingly. Daqman makes this variation every day.