Horse Racing

Tom Bellamy’s Blog

Tom Bellamy - horse racing ambassador

To enhance our horse racing content, has teamed up with national hunt jockey Tom Bellamy, who will be our horse racing ambassador.

Tom will bring you his thoughts on national hunt racing throughout the calendar year, with an additional focus on the big meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree Grand National meeting.

Look out for Tom’s written blogs, audio appearances on our podcast and YouTube videos, offering vital insight and content through the eyes of a jockey.

Tom Bellamy’s Latest Horse Racing Blog

Saturday, January 27 - Cheltenham

I head to Cheltenham on Saturday, where I have three rides on the card for Emma Lavelle and Alan King.

To begin the day, I ride Tightenourbelts in the 12:40pm, a horse who got run off his feet last time in the Kauto Star.

I imagine the form of that is going to turn out and show it was an unbelievably good race, the French horse won ever so well.

It was his first try over three miles, and I think they probably ran quicker than he’s ever gone before, over two and a half miles, which was crazy. In the end, I was left on my own and had to just school him around.

I’m looking for him to bounce back, he’s in handicap company again, and I really love the horse. He’s an each-way price, and he’s got an each-way chance.

Next up, I’m on Grandeur D’Ame in the 1:15pm, and I thought he ran a brilliant race in the December Gold Cup.

He was out of the handicap that day, and he’s in it today, so therefore should have a better chance this time around.

I think the race should be run to suit, and there’s no reason why he can’t build on his last run and go well again.

Lastly, I take the mount on Paisley Park in the 3:35pm, the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle. You never really know what you’re going to get with him, but he always runs his race.

I thought last time was a really good run, especially at his age. He loves Cheltenham, it’s my first time riding him there.

He’s won this race three times before and breaks the record if he can win it again.

We go in there with every chance, and I’m excited to ride him again.

National Hunt Horses to Follow - Tom’s Five for the 2023/24 Season

We’ve caught up with Freebets brand ambassador to preview the new national hunt season, with five horses to follow, and Tom’s views on the biggest stories in racing.

Here are my five horses to follow for the new national hunt season.

Tightenourbelts - Emma Lavelle

This horse got beaten by two Paul Nicholls horses in novice hurdles last year before eventually winning a race at Ludlow, which wasn’t the strongest, but I was really impressed with him in the way he did it. Whatever he did as a hurdler was always going to be a stepping stone to being a chaser for the future.

He had his first school over fences recently, and he was good, so he’s certainly one to look forward to, and I think he will turn out to be an above-average chaser.

Insanity - Alan King

He’s only had three runs on the flat so far, looking green on debut before staying on late to lose by a neck. He disappointed next time but was then upped to a mile and a half and beat an odds-on shot from the William Haggas yard in good style.

After that, he’s got a rating in the mid-80s, which is often the right place for a flat horse to go jumping, a lot of the better ones often disappoint, while those rated lower aren’t quite good enough, so we are hoping he is in the right bracket. Touch wood, his schooling has been electric.

Girls In Skirts - Alan King

She’s a filly in the Alan King yard who had just one run last season, which came in the sales bumper at Newbury. I rode her that day, and she was as green as grass and took a long time to get her rolling.

The last two furlongs were her best, and she stayed on really well to finish third, beaten by two geldings. I’m not sure if she will have another bumper run before going over hurdles, but it could be the latter because so far, her schooling has been really natural - she’s taken to it like a duck to water, and she’s one to get excited about with a bit of luck.

Casa No Mento - Nigel Twiston Davies

She is a really nice horse who had black-type form last year and was unlucky not to win a Listed race at Sandown when it was soft ground, and she was probably caught out by the hill but ran really well. She then had one too many runs when she ran in the Aintree Bumper, where she was disappointing.

Her schooling has been excellent, and she shows a lot of speed at home, so I imagine she will stick to shorter trips for the time being, and she’s another I like.

Lively Citizen - DJ Jeffreys

He’s been a brilliant horse, winning twice at Cheltenham over hurdles during his career and then winning his first chase at Perth at the start of this season, where I rode him.

Whatever he’s done over hurdles, I think he will be a better chaser, and that sets him up to have a nice season moving forward, he begins the year rated 111 over fences and hurdles.

Season Hopes & Expectations

Going into the 23/24 season, I got to 50 winners in a season for the first time two years ago. I didn’t manage it last year, but I would love to get back to riding 50 winners again this season.

I started well, but the end of the summer wasn’t great, so I need to get going. Hopefully, the trainers I ride for have horses healthy throughout the year to help me with that.

Of course, whether it’s this year, next year or beyond, I’d love to get a Cheltenham Festival winner, and I’ve also not ridden a Grade One winner yet. I’m realistic with that - it’s a long-term target, but that’s the dream.

Early Cheltenham Gold Cup Fancy

It’s too early to start looking at the Gold Cup seriously, but I thought the interesting one at this stage because connections have started talking about trying to switch him to a run at this race is Corach Rambler.

The way he’s won at the last two Cheltenham Festivals was really impressive, and the way he won the Grand National was incredible, picking up like that after four miles, I thought he showed a lot of class. Whether he’s good enough is a question mark, being a Grand National horse and a Gold Cup horse is not the same, they are very different races.

But the Grand National is getting better every year, and connections seem keen to go down that route, so I thought he was interesting.

Constitution Hill to Stay Over Hurdles

I thought the interesting quote from Nicky Henderson was that Nico de Boinville wasn’t convinced he was going to stay the Gold Cup trip. And if he doesn’t, what’s the point in going over fences to win the Champion Chase when you can stay over hurdles and win the Champion Hurdle, which you know you can do already?

I think if he can go and win three of those, which we’ve not seen since Istabraq, or four to break the record, then he’ll go down in history if he’s not already cemented his position to do that already.

They know the horse best and know what they’re doing with him, and the proof will be in the pudding further down the line.

I’d never say never, though - you find horses sometimes step up in trip later in their career, so they may revisit this in a year or two from now.

About Tom Bellamy

Having ridden over 250 winners in his career so far, Tom Bellamy is one of the top jockeys in the National Hunt weighing room.

Tom rides predominantly for Alan King & Emma Lavelle and is no stranger to success at the highest level of National Hunt racing.

In recent years, Tom has showcased his talent in winning top handicaps, including the BetVictor Gold Cup (Splash Of Ginge), SkyBet Chase (Go Conquer) & Greatwood Hurdle (Harambe).

Tom posted a personal best for winners in a season in 2021/22 when riding 51 winners to victory, smashing his previous personal best of 37, which he achieved in 2020/21.

Grade 2 Victories

  • 25/02/2017 - Master Blueyes - Adonis Juvenile Hurdle
  • 03/02/2018 – Ballyoptic – Towton Novices’ Chase
  • 14/04/2021 – Manofthemountain – Silver Trophy Handicap Chase
  • 05/11/2022 – Hang In There – ‘Rising Star’ Novices’ Chase

Grade 3 Victories

  • 18/11/2017 – Splash Of Ginger - Gold Cup Handicap Chase
  • 19/01/2019 – Ballymoy – Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle
  • 17/11/2019 – Harambe – Greatwood Handicap Hurdle
  • 15/01/2022 – Eclair Surf - Classic Handicap Chase

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Tom  Bellamy

Tom Bellamy

Freebets ambassador and national hunt jockey Tom Bellamy writes his thoughts down for us, giving you the views of a jockey in the weighing room on all the big events