PJA and Personal Info set the early pace
January is not normally the most dynamic month of the racing season. All the big autumn and Christmas races have come and gone, and many candidates for Cheltenham Festival glory have been put back under wraps until March. There is also the weather to contend with. Many meetings are usually lost during the year’s first few weeks, and what survives is sometimes lowly stuff.
The Cheltenham Trials Day reminds us that better racing is coming, but it would be unfair to dismiss January so readily. Overall, the weather was kind with few lost meetings. Hurricane Rock and Big Bucks, two of the sports’ A-listers both scored facile victories. And Henrietta Knight’s return to form has been another pleasing feature of the month.
January also, of course, heralds the start of another year of the Besttipping tipster challenge.
PJA All Weather began 2011 with a flourish and they have started 2012 in the same vein, posting a four-week profit of 33.2 points. Early highlights include 12/1 Rosewood Lad (Wolverhampton, 5 January), 10/1 General Tufto (Southwell, 8 January) and Art Scholar, a 9/1 winner at Kempton on 15 January.
PJA National Hunt, who ended 2011 on a high with winning 16/1 advice, Celestial Halo, carried the good work on into the New Year. Double Dizzy became the second 16/1 advice to deliver inside three days when winning at Plumpton on 2 January. My Faithful Annie (14/1, Huntingdon, 4 January), Justazippy (8/1, Market Rasen, 22 January), Morgan Be (10/1, Newbury, 22 January) and Quicoyo (12/1, Doncaster, 28 January) all helped to ensure this was a bumper month.
Also hot of the blocks in 2012 were Personal Info, recording a 24.9 point gain. This was the 43rd profitable month in the last 51 months – an extraordinary achievement. Folie A Deux, a successful 7/1 advice at Taunton on 7 January, set the wheels in motion. Even more impressive was All Annalena, a winning 11/1 advice at Ludlow ten days later. Overall, Personal Info enjoyed a 56% strike-rate on singles bets in January.
For the seventh month out of eight, Steve Jones (CD Systems) recorded a profit. Jones, who topped the December table, had a tremendous spell between 13 and 21 January when, from just five advices, he found Dreamboat Lady, a 5/1 winner at Huntingdon, Swincombe Flame, the 8/1 winner of the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton and Reindeer Dippin, another successful 8/1 advice, this time at Haydock. These all helped towards a 12 point January profit.
January was similarly profitable for Richard Dunwoody, who scored a major success with Gores Island, the 14/1 winner of a Doncaster novices’ hurdle for Lambourn trainer Noel Chance on 11 January.
With little more than six weeks to go before the start of the Cheltenham Festival, there is a keen sense of anticipation. In the meantime, though, February offers some real treats including the Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Newbury, a race better known to those of a certain age as the Schweppes Gold Trophy. That race forms the centrepiece of Newbury’s 11 February card, while the following day in Ireland, Leopardstown stages the valuable Hennessy Gold Cup.
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