Another month of glory for Sprint Specialiser
Sprint Specialiser’s spectacular start to the year continued in March as a third consecutive table-topping yield propelled the 2019 profit beyond the 100pt mark. Steve Jones’ Daily Bargain claimed second spot with a 40pt gain – his best monthly return since May 2017 - while Mark Your Card also posted a healthy March return of 17.9pt.
For most, March’s focus was the Cheltenham Festival, but for Sprint Specialiser it was the workaday heroes of the All-Weather that earned March’s 56.4pt return. On the day that Willie Mullins was ending his Gold Cup hoodoo at Prestbury Park, Sprint Specialiser was cleaning up 135 miles away at Chelmsford City, thanks to the success of 20/1 advice Precious Plum (15 March). The Charlie Wallis-trained mare was one of eight winners from 34 selections last month (23.52% strike-rate, 70% return on investment). Other successes included two 15/2 shots, Ballyquin (Chelmsford City, 7 March) and George Bowen (Kempton, 30 March). And the other five successes all came in the 7/2 to 11/2 price-range.
As was the case in February, Daily Bargain had to settle for second spot, despite a massive return of 40pt. Beware The Bear, winner of the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day of Cheltenham (12 March) spearheaded another impressive campaign with six further winners including 12/1 Karawaan, winner of the Irish Lincolnshire at Naas (24 March), and two 15/2 advices, Jabulani (Newbury, 1 March) and Marmont (Taunton, 19 March). As noted earlier, March’s return was Daily Bargain’s best since May 2017, when a 63pt haul was earned.
After two losing months, Mark Your Card bounced back in March was a 17.9pt yield which has helped the four-time Besttipping champion to move into third place in this year’s race.
As is usually the case with Mark Your Card, there were a number of outrageously priced winners notably First Drift (33/1, Newbury, 2 March), Kiwi Myth (22/1, Exeter, 5 March), Foolaad (20/1, Doncaster, 31 March) and Socialites Red (16/1, Southwell, 27 March).
First Favourite and Personal Info’s Saturday Only Service narrowly missed out on March profits. Personal Info also just finished in the red, but had the satisfaction of showing a profit at Cheltenham thanks to the wins of 5/1 Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper (13 March) and 7/4 Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle (14 March).
Staying on the subject of Cheltenham, did anybody else think this year’s meeting was a curious affair? There were a series of upsets with a 66/1 and two 50/1 outsiders winning and a number of high-profile candidates in both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup failing to run up to expectations. But, on the other hand, there was an unprecedented sequence of six successive winning favourites, starting off with Altior in the Champion Chase. In all, nine favourites obliged, the most since 2016, when a record 11 jollies scored. Nevertheless, to these eyes at least, winner finding seemed more of a challenge than usual.
Moving onward, the Grand National this weekend is followed by top jumping action at Ayr, Fairyhouse, Sandown and Punchestown. Devotees of the Flat will also have much to savour over the next few weeks as the Guineas trials will lead us smoothly into May and the first classics of the season. Something for everyone.