On this page, dear reader, from 13:00 GMT, I'll be live blogging throughout the afternoon's Cheltenham action. Hitting your refresh button periodically will ensure you catch all the news, views and abuse from yours truly on what should be a sensational afternoon of horse racing.
NOTE: If you're reading this after the events, welcome, and you might like to scroll to the bottom of the page and read upwards, if that makes sense...
1748 Post Script: I've just worked out that I am now officially 'it' when it comes to backing runners up. My 2nd place list now includes Somersby 4/1, The Package at 13/2, Reve De Sivola at 14/1, Burton Port, Forpadydeplasterer, Notus De La Tour at 13/2, and Al Ferof at 9.5/1.
Plus Iâ€™ve had 'fell when in contention' bets on Wishfull Thinking at 12/1 and Citizen Vic at 75 (!) on Betfair.
Feck! (as Father Jack might have said)
1728 Right, that's me for the afternoon.I've had great fun sharing my ups and (mostly) downs with you this afternoon, and the live blog is certainly something I'll consider doing again in the future, perhaps for one of the days at Aintree.
Hope you've done better than me. It's been a serial seconditis day, and that's not good. The only saving grace (and a decent one at that) was that I had a fair bet on Forpadydeplasterer to place in the QM Champion Chase.
Remember, we're only half way. There is much still to come! In the meantime, I'm off for a Guinness!
1725 Bombshell. A 4yo wins the bumper, I think, for the first time ever. At 40/1. I back yet another second place, and put the wrong one in the 'idiot bet'. The winner is clearly a VERY smart horse, looking at how far back to Al Ferof and how far back from that one to the rest.
This race is normally an excellent race to follow. For instance, last year's race - prior to the Tuesday here at the Festival - yielded 32 winners from 93 runners for a profit of Â£21.75
Note Caught By Witness, who finished second to Cue Card last time, and won next time out. The form looks rock solid, with Voltigger Hill having been a winner prior to finishing third behind the two mentioned above.
1715 They're off for the 'lucky last'. 10/3 now on Shot From The Hip! Big punt. Good luck to your fancy here, whichever it might be.
1713 News of other Nicholls horses to follow: Poquelin in the Ryanair, and the Tricky Trickster each way in the Gold Cup. Time will tell on both. For now though, it's all eyes on the flat ones.
1711 Willie Mullins bidding for his seventh Champion Bumper, from only the eighteenth time it's been run. Ireland bidding for number 15 of 18! (Al Ferof started out in Ireland as well...)
1709 I want to finish on a winner, so I've backed two more in the race!
|Ref: Bet matched:|
|Day Of A Lifetime||11||Â£15.00||Â£150.00|
|Ref: Bet matched:|
|Ref: Bet matched:|
|Ref: Bet matched:|
1707 7/2 Shot From The Hip!
1705 Apparently my 'timeless classic', TrainerTrackStats 2007/8 is still finding the winners. Shipla earlier at Huntingdon 9/1 and Sanctuaire at Chelters, available at 13/2, returned at 4/1.
Right, back to the Bumper, and the Irish are SMASHING into Eddie O'Grady's Shot From The Hip: it's 11/2 all rates into 4/1.
Al Ferof and Bishopsfurze for me (slight preference for the latter).
1703 Six down, one to go, on what has been a thoroughly enjoyable - if extremely tough winner-finding - afternoon. The Bumper is next, and it might be a case of 'which of the Irish will we side with?'
Trying to interpret whose '1' in the form column is the best has never been my speciality, so I've got Timeform (first two home in the previous race were first and second top-rated) on hand here:
Al Ferof 134 (trained by Paul Nicholls)
Dare Me 132
Day Of A Lifetime 129p
Made In Time 129
and special mention to Bishopsfurze 118P (rare large P, meaning capable of significant improvement)
1653 Two bits of fallout from the Fred Winter, courtesy of Racing UK (who, incidentally, have had a right result with their guarantee of free subscriptions of MM, BB and KS all won - Master Minded stops them paying out big time!).
1. First two home were both brought over from France, and were precocious as a result.
2. Sanctuaire being taken out of the Triumph in favour of this race hopefully pays a big compliment to my bet in that latter race, Advisor, who is the stable's only representative there.
1648 I believe that is what's known as a 'blot on the handicap'. Santuaire sluiced up, having been well backed (though not be me). I back yet another second placed horse, as Notus De La Tour quickened past beaten horses but had no chance whatsoever with the facile winner. Guess I must be doing something mostly right.
Apparently this was Paul Nicholls' horse to back at the Festival, when asked at a recent preview night. Nobody told me!
1640 Just had word from Gary that if George Nympton wins, he'll be upgrading the hot tub to a hot springs lake... and we're all invited!
Fin Vin De Leu has just been dismounted, and the vet is checking to see whether the horse can carry my couple of quid. Hopefully, he'll be okay and we'll get underway momentarily for this sixth of seven races today.
Fin Vin De Leu is running on three shoes. Didn't stop the second horse in the opener today.
1634 To Jason, who's using the Weatherby's trends guide, 10/1 was Weapon's Amnesty (recommended at 14's). This is the second season in a row that Gavin's guide has / is currently outperforming Paul's admittedly fine publication.
Regarding the Fred Winter, Sanctuaire and Notus look booked to run well. Others to note are topweights Stars Du Granit (owned by a Geegeez reader) and Open Day, who was impressive at Sandown; Fin Vin De Leu and Diktalina.
Gary's big priced tip in the race is George Nympton from the excellent Nick Williams stable.
Ruby struggling to settle Sanctuaire on the way down to post.
1630 Its onwards and upwards (I hope!) for us as, no sooner have we had the first handicap hurdle of the week, we get our second one straight after. The babies step up here, in the Fred Winter, and I've long held a candle for Notus De La Tour. However, it must be the case that he's not expected to like the fast ground as he's drifting like the proverbial barge.
1620 Some admin to catch up on. Here are the results of the RSA and Queen Mum Chases:
|1||Weapon's Amnesty (IRE)||10/1|
|2||7||Burton Port (IRE)||9/1|
|3||s.h||Long Run (FR)||11/4|
|4||Â½||Knockara Beau (IRE)||16/1|
|5||16||Punchestowns (FR)||2/1 f|
|6||15||Little Josh (IRE)||28/1|
|7||5||Chasing Cars (IRE)||50/1|
|F||Citizen Vic (IRE)||12/1|
Queen Mother Champion Chase
|1||Big Zeb (IRE)||10/1|
|3||3Â¼||Kalahari King (FR)||9/2|
|4||Â½||Master Minded (FR)||4/5 f|
|5||2Â¾||Oh Crick (FR)||66/1|
|6||22||Golden Silver (FR)||33/1|
|7||Â¾||Well Chief (GER)||33/1|
|PU||Twist Magic (FR)||8/1|
|F||Mahogany Blaze (FR)||66/1|
1612 To Jason, re stats getting turned over. I don't really think so. Gavin's Festival Trends have already put up 7/1 and 10/1 winners today, and his each way ante-post selection for FT was Big Zeb. So it's fair to say stats backers are sitting pretty. That said, the Coral Cup was a blow for us number bashers.
1606 Gutted. Had a good bet on Wishfull Thinking. Fell at second last when bang there. And I had a good bet on the winner here, Spirit River, when he finished nowhere in the totesport Trophy. An awful race for me, alas. It's a good job I get to say the expletives, then not write them!
Tullamore Dew ran an absolute belter in second. And Michael Flips has run a blinder from the front too.
But Wishfull Thinking would have surely made the first four, no?!
1555 More stats from Gavin's Statto toolkit:
6 of the last 7 winners of the Coral Cup won their last race
All 10 British trained winners of the Coral Cup carried less than 11-00
1545 Right, down to business. The first handicap hurdle of the week, and just the 28 of them going to post. Do we really only get paid on the first four home each way?!
I've got a couple of angles in here. Firstly, in my weekly Irish Field column this week, I highlighted a little system for playing handicap hurdles at the Festival. It's done staggeringly well, with six winners from 34 qualifiers and a level stakes profit of Â£84! Rules are thus:
- Aged 6-9
- Last run 60 days ago or less
- No more than nine prior hurdles starts and twelve career starts (protecting the handicap mark!)
- Odds between 10/1 and 33/1
Funnily enough, for a system that throws up few selections, there are four here! They are: Sir Harry Ormesher, City Theatre, Hampshire Express, and Gold Award.
I've also backed Wishfull Thinking in my mad wager (see comment timed 1320).
1535 To Tony, agree with you 100%. Master Minded didn't ever look like winning. Ruby said the horse didn't let himself down on the ground, but it can't have been any/much worse than when he won here the last two years. I'd be surprised if something medical doesn't come to light in the next 24 hours. It's looking like another fair day for the layers...!
1528 Good grief! What do you make of that?! Firstly, Zeb is a proper horse when he jumps round. When. He. Jumps. Today he was impeccable, and had them all cooked at the second last.
Forpady looked beaten quite a way out, and stayed on gamely off what must have been a mighty pace, I'd say.Incidentally, despite all those 2's in his form, he is totally genuine.
Kalahari King might want further. He was never going the speed.
As for Master Minded, every chance, jumped well. The first three haven't all improved past him, so he might have been wrong today.
I'm pleased I didn't lump on Master Minded, and I'm pleased Forpady paid my place. Another 'Lazarus' horse at the Festival. We should stop listening to these trainers who say they're pulling horses out!
1519 OK, this is it. Let's hope they all come back safe, as they're seriously fast horses here. Good luck with yours, and good luck with mine!
1510 Thanks to Gavin for this stat, which almost certainly puts the final nail in my Forpadydeplaster's place wager 😉
The last 6 Arkle winners to run in the following years Queen Mother have finished 231121
p.s. Yes Paul, we're both on MM here...
1505 Time for the big race of the day, and my banker of the meeting. That almost always means one thing: kai-bosh! I love Master Minded, and I hope he wins as he's been an exceptionally precocious young chaser (he's still only seven and he's chasing a Champion Chase hat-trick!)
I can't row in at 5/6 on MM, and my wager in the race - placed long before the on-off injury scare - is Forpadydeplasterer for a place. Â£150 at 3.25, or 9/4 in old money.
Kalahari King was impressive at Donny the other week, and his trainer is going for a Cheltenham Day Two double after Poker de Sivola in the first. Ferdy is always a man to follow in the chases here.
Big Zeb still has to answer jumping questions for me, and Twist Magic doesn't seem to like it here. But, on a going day, either could make the frame.
Oh Crick might be the best of the outsiders.
What are you on?
1500 Here's where your money went in the second race. Note the excellent run from The Giant Bolster, who ran my Night Orbit out of a win earlier in the season...
|1||Peddlers Cross (IRE)||7/1|
|2||1Â½||Reve de Sivola (FR)||15/2|
|3||3Â¾||Rite Of Passage||7/2 f|
|5||Â¾||Finian's Rainbow (IRE)||11/2|
|6||nk||The Giant Bolster||200/1|
|8||11||Some Present (IRE)||14/1|
|9||12||Baily Rock (IRE)||100/1|
|11||13||Gus Macrae (IRE)||50/1|
|13||8||The Knoxs (IRE)||28/1|
|15||7||Hollo Ladies (IRE)||40/1|
|Also Ran: Quel Esprit (FR), Sleepy Hollow|
1457 Well done to all Festival Trends punters for that winner (and the 7/1 winner in the race before!). And well done to yesterday's massive price double man, Gary (Gavin's brother), who got a nice each way wager on Burton Port at 50's a while back. It's fair to say the winner did it nicely. Burton was always being pushed along to go the gallop, and looks like he'll stay further. Might be a Gold Cup horse next year...
1455 Unfortunately for me, Knockara Beau couldn't quite get up quick enough to run the Long Run out of a place, so my place lay costs me cash. And... my offer for Festival Trends looks in trouble, as Gavin put up Weapons Amnesty, but he returned 'only' 10/1.
1451 Weapons Amnesty wins for Ryanair boss, Michael O'Leary. There will be free flights to all those remote European outposts tonight!
Long Run every chance, doesn't stay three miles. Won't win a Gold Cup.
Punchestowns short of work, and better than this.
Burton Port got my place cash.
I hope Citizen Vic is ok - he looked hurt when he came down.
1441 Should be a great race - here we go! Don't expect them all to finish. I have to say, Long Run seems to have settled much better than I expected / hoped.
1438 To Jason, Little Josh seems to need softer ground, and his jumping will be under a stern test here. Moreover, I have a slight doubt about the stable form. In other words, he wouldn't be for more. Good luck though, if you're on.
1428 Next up is the RSA Chase, and Long Run is on the skids. It is a tough ask for Sam Waley-Cohen to manage this horse's temperament and his own in a very hot race like this.
If he does, fair play to him. Both Long Run and Punchestowns are nags of massive potential, but their hard pulling and jumping inexperience respectively could find them out.
I've sided with Burton Port in the place market (got 7/2), and small bets on Citizen Vic (fiver at 75 on Betfair, when he was a questionable runner), and Knockara Beau (fiver at 32, not much shorter now).
If one of the front two stay upright and don't shoot their bolts early, they'll probably win. But I won't be betting less than 3/1 they do. In fact, I've laid Long Run for a place (win Â£100 to lose Â£61), which might prove careless.
1419 Full result from the first race below. Funnily enough, in my head to head with SkyBlueKangaroo's Paul Whelan, he went one up there, with his Massasoit finishing tenth of eleven finishers, and my Pennek finishing eleventh of eleven finishers. Oh dear...
|1||Poker De Sivola (FR)||Ms K Walsh||14/1|
|2||2Â¼||Becauseicouldntsee (IRE)||Miss N Carberry||13/2|
|3||2Â¼||Prudent Honour (IRE)||Mr M J O'Connor||40/1|
|4||hd||Any Currency (IRE)||Mr Derek O'Connor||7/1|
|5||17||Mobaasher (USA)||Mr Harry Challoner||6/1 f|
|6||10||Fabalu (IRE)||Mr R O Harding||14/1|
|7||3||Far More Serious (IRE)||Mr S Waley-Cohen||22/1|
|8||2Â¾||Presenting Forever (IRE)||Mr O Greenall||14/1|
|9||5||Noakarad De Verzee (FR)||Mr D Maxwell||20/1|
|10||5||Massasoit (IRE)||Mr R Mahon||12/1|
|11||1Â½||Pennek (FR)||Mr Joshua Moore||16/1|
1415 Wow! That was a great race. Two Northern winners to start the day - how often has that happened in recent years at the Festival? (I can't remember it ever).
Disappointing for me, as I had 2nd and 3rd... Just seen that I got matched at evens on RoP! He went to 1.52 in running. Should have traded out on Reve as well. He hit a low of 1.13. For Â£900. Painful for someone, somewhere.
At least I've got one place leg on the 'idiot bet' I did...
Anyone back Peddlers?!
1406 Quel Esprit early casualty, and amazing recovery from Manyriverstocross!
1404 OK, RoP touched 5.5 on Betfair and I nicked in for forty quid. I'll try to lay it back at evens in running.
Poor old Nina Carberry - not only did she get done up badly last night on Garde Champetre, but then she got beaten on the run in in the four miler. And now, to top that off, she's picked up a five day whip ban for her extreme brutality (kidding!) on Becauseicouldntsee.
What price she bags a winner before the end of the week?
1357 By the way, a post script to that last race. I got some stick this morning, possibly rightly, for the dismissive tone I take with amateurs. I've just watched the close up of that finish, and I have to say those two ladies - Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh - rode excellent finishes at the end of a tough four miles, and would have given their more illustrious brothers (Paul and Ruby, respectively) a serious race there. Well done ladies, excellent show. (Right, kettle on time)
1350 Oh well, with the placepot down and that trebles and fivefolds wager looking more ridiculous by the minute, at least there's plenty of time to go through the runners for the 2.05. I've backed Reve De Sivola, and I really liked the way he sticks on. But this looks a classy race, and there are any number with chances.
Money has come for The Knoxs, Some Present and Manyriverstocross, leaving Rite Of Passage and Quel Esprit friendless. Nice prices on those now, if you fancy them! In fact, if Rite Of Passage goes 9/2, I might back him myself...
1343 The second horse lost a shoe at the start. I've no idea how important it is for a horse to be missing a shoe, but he wasn't beaten far at the end so it does make you wonder. That result any good for anyone?
1340 I hate amateur riders' races! Six in the placepot and not one in the first three. Established jockeys fill the first four places, just not the jocks I wanted! Reckon it might be a long way home today (even longer than that race).
1330 They're off and Mobaasher tries to drop his jockey off at the very first fence! He didn't though...
1325 All the 33s has gone on Pennek, and all the 25's. All the 20's has also gone, and 16's is being done now.
We've got the price if nothing else. I'll be looking to the experienced jockeys in this race and they'll still need lots of luck in running.
1320 In response to comments, I've laid Long Run for a place at 1.62 but might regret that. As for Gary's two big priced winners, I think he's reclining in his newly purchased hot tub (what's that all about?!)
Pennek was the tip in the first at 33/1, so I'll be cheering that one. He's also the first leg of a bizarre (and quite atrocious) multiple bet I've had. I've picked eight horses and have Â£1 e/w trebles and 50p e/w fivefolds. Staked Â£168, chance of a return? Next to nil.
For info, the other seven in the wager are:
Reve De Sivola 14/1 Weds 2.05
Wishfull Thinking 12/1 Weds 4.00 (how apt!)
Bishopsfurze 14/1 Weds 5.15
Bormo 33/1 Thurs 1.30
Smoking Aces 12/1 Thurs 2.05
Chapoturgeon 12/1 Thurs 4.00
Imoncloudnine 20/1 Thurs 4.40
1310 Placepot wager struck
1.Â 2, 5, 6, 12, 13, 15
2. 11, 12
3. 1, 3, 9
5. 5, 6, 8, 9, 26
6.Â 4, 7, 8, 11
720 x 10p
1300 Welcome everyone to my little live blogging experiment. Hopefully, we'll find a winner or two between us today, starting in the 1.30, the National Hunt Chase... Feel free to add your comments...!
Before I get underway later, a quick precis of yesterday's action...
1.30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
All eyes were on Dunguib, and it was clear that layers wanted to 'get' him, with Stan James going 11/10 in the morning before the horse was finally returned at 4/5, having been strongly supported on course.
Menorah had the best of the British form in the book, and a strong and enterprising ride from Richard Johnson did the biz, from the fast finishing Get Me Out Of Here. GMOOH probably improved again to just fail, but I'd want to be against him if he goes to Aintree. He's been on the boil for a loooong time now.
Dunguib didn't jump well enough, and was plenty far enough back and taking the widest course. He was ridden like a very good horse, and you'd have to think that AP McCoy or Johnson - who rode the first and second - might well have won on the highly-touted third.
That was a surprise for me, as I thought Dunguib would win and win well. He continued the abysmal run of Champion Bumper winners in the Supreme.
My only bet in the race - placepot aside - was a cheeky tenner on the winner at 14.5 on betfair.
2.05 Arkle Trophy
Captain Cee Bee was sent off the 5/2 jolly for this, and I'd been against him all along. As it turned out, he burst a blood vessel but wasn't really travelling like the winner at the time that happened.
Sizing Europe cost me a four hundred quid stake when finding nowt in the 2008 Champion Hurdle, and I ended up against him here. I didn't lay him, but I expected him to come up dry after the last again.
As it turned out, he ran to the line and it was the stamina of Somersby that got that one to within three quarters of a length at the death. Disappointing as I'd backed the second.
I think Somersby is a very good horse and, when you consider that both Denman and Kauto Star will be eleven next year, Hills' offer of 25/1 about Somersby for the Gold Cup 2011 looked a decent bet to me, so I had some. That makes a lovely start to the 2011 portfolio!
Osana ran his race, and loves Cheltenham. Alas for him, he's just shy of top class.
Mad Max also ran a blinder before a blunder stopped him in his tracks. He did well to hold fourth and this was easily a career high.
2.40 William Hill Trophy
A competitive race, and I was sweet on The Package and also had piled into Cheltenham specialist, Nenuphar Collonges. The latter is lazy, and a slovenly jumper, but he has bags of talent.
Predictably, he was staying on when the race was over and finished a reasonable enough eighth. The Package was given a bad ride, plain and simple. Timmy Murphy is the Jamie Spencer of the jumping game, and gives too many horses too much to do.
There's no doubt that with a sensible ride, The Package would have won.
And yes, I am talking through my wallet.
Chief Dan George is a most likeable horse, and might not be done with winning for the season yet.
Honourable mention goes to Ollie Magern who surely deserves a drop in class to hunter chases. He finished a thoroughly game, battling and genuine seventh, and might have troubled the judge in the Foxhunters had the latter course been adopted.
3.20 Champion Hurdle
A madly competitive race, with nine horses trading at 14/1 or shorter. Betting turnover reflected punter uncertainty, as less than half the volume of cash changed hands on this race than did on the opener.
As it turned out, Binocular won in the manner of an odds on shot, cruising through the race and picking up, up and away from the valiant and equally well-traveling Khyber Kim.
Although the winner is clearly top notch, this is the first time he's proved it when it mattered and, with eight year old Khyber Kim following him home, I'd be looking to the young guns next year. Dunguib might get a top jockey for the job races now, and in that context, 10/1 looks fair if not generous.
Celestial Halo set quick fractions from the start, and both he and Zaynar did well to hang on for 4th and 3rd respectively.
Solwhit ran poorly, though he had his excuses ready-made, as a cough last week is hardly the prep you want for this affair. He might do better, but I'd still be tempted to oppose.
4.00 Cross Country Handicap Chase
An Irish benefit, and specifically in recent years, an Enda Bolger (note, not Edna, as I've seen in numerous articles this week - he's a fella!) benefit.
Mob handed again this time, including last year's 1-2, Bolger was unlucky not to continue his hot streak in the race.
L'Ami was runner up for the second year in a row, and looked to have every chance. He's frustrating and gave best this time to the rejuvenated A New Story. That one had placed form in the race, which is a massive plus, and the 40s in the morning was too big, and flagged up by Pricewise.
Although there's unlikely to have been too many big bets on the winner, I was one of many (many) smaller punters who gave the bookies one of the few licks they took all day, by siding with the big priced rag.
Garde Champetre was sent off the heavily punted 7/4 favourite, and would probably have won but for first battering the Aintree fence six out, and then getting clobbered in his run on the final bend. There was a lot of scrimmaging at that point, and Sizing Australia was also very badly hampered.
All of which is no consolation to those punters who lost Â£20,000, Â£8,000, Â£7,000 (e/w, horse finished a neck fifth, four places, ouch!) and Â£5,000.
4.40 Mares Hurdle
The day ended with the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle, and defending champion Quevega overcame a long lay-off to win in facile fashion. The missus, whose name is Carole, topped up her A New Story winnings with a nice each way on the second placed horse, Caroles Legacy.
My fancy, Voler La Vedette, was third and well enough beaten. She needs softer ground but still isn't as good as the winner.
One point of note here was the ride of Sam Waley-Cohen on Stravinsky Dance. The horse pulled hard, sure enough, but he was unable to restrain the beast and they were beaten six furlongs out after tearing off in front.
It's worthy of note on this Wednesday, that young Sam will be riding Long Run, another hard-pulling sort, in the RSA Chase. With apologies to those offended by my comments about amateur pilots (and Sam is one of the better ones, make no mistake about that), I would have preferred to see a pro aboard the French bullet today.