After a bizarre and hugely eventful first day of the Open meeting, dear reader, there is much to look back on and much to look forward to...
Today's curious goings on started when Hoopy's jockey, having made a typical amateur rider blunder and dropped his whip, nicked another 'persuader' from an ailing competitor as he passed him. He gave Hoopy a couple of cracks and the Irish raider bolted forwards on an unstoppable run that took him to the front on the run-in. There's no doubt he wouldn't have won without the stick, and the rule is grey on such matters.
Funnily enough, I'd watched a similar manoevre unfold in the Velka Pardubicka, a recording of which was shown on attheraces earlier in the week. Bizarre.
But it was to get curiouser, said Alice. I'd backed Garde Champetre with confidence in the Cross Country Chase, and even though the horse finished second, I was certain that I'd get paid out as the 'winner' had taken the wrong course, skirting inside some of the marker bushes.
But, would you credit it, winning jock, Davy Russell, had discussed with stewards beforehand and studied the course. It was a legit move that nicked him half a dozen lengths. He won by a couple, so it must have been material. Fair play to him for his enterprise, though it cost me a few quid!
Then, final insult to injury, I got stuck into Herecomesthetruth in the last. He was upsides the winner coming to the last, then inexplicably decided to run out! In fairness, the winner may well have beaten the 'truth anyway, but I'd have liked the chance to see that.
Just another day on Cleeve Hill...!
Tomorrow and Sunday sees more great action at the home of jumps racing. I've looked at the Paddy Power already, and now let's take a peek at some of the supporting races.
The opening juvenile novices' hurdle will throw up the favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, so if you fancy one to win the latter race, now might be the time to wager.
The last two winners were Katchit and Franchoek, so it invariably throws up a good'un.
Tomorrow, I like the look of Giorgio Quercus, whose form in France entitles him to win this. Expect Saticon to improve hugely from what he's achieved thus far, and he may take this. His brilliant trainer, Alan King, has won the last two runnings and clearly brings his top gun here each season.
Most of these will demonstrate more than they have done to date, so it may be a race to watch and make notes on, rather than bet on.
The novice chase is a hard race to call too. Won last season by Albertas Run, I reckon McCoy's mount Gone To Lunch may show improved form to come home in front. He lost little in defeat to Exmoor Ranger, a horse I like, on seasonal debut and last time out was just worn down by The Tother One. I don't think Nicholls has his toppest notch chaser in here, so AP may well bring home the bacon for Lunch.
Halcon Genelardais has it to do in the Grade 3 handicap chase, and the National winner, Comply or Die will likely need the run (and has obvious bigger targets in April next year). So let's look lower down the weights: Joe Lively has a decent mark and, with a warm up run under his belt, might be the one. It's pretty competitive though.
In the Listed handicap hurdle, its interesting to note that only one of the last ten winners was sent off bigger than 9/1, and even Maid Equal was only a 12/1 shot. Only one winner has carried more than 10-10, so look to the low end of the weights.
I reckon this might be one for the Pipe stable, courtesy of The Sliotar. No match for Ocean du Moulins over fences on debut, that will have awoken his interest for the season, and he was pretty progressive last season in the hurdling sphere.
Good luck if you're playing in the 3.25. 20 novices going hammer and tongs is not my idea of a punting proposition, but if you must play, my token selection is Hernando Royal for Dr Newland. The Good Doctor does well with his tiny string, and he loves a Cheltenham winner.
Also make careful note of Pipe (dad won four of the six runnings of this race) / McCoy (ridden three of the six winners for two different trainers), who team up with Qanta de Thaix. Ostensibly this one has a lot to find, but these are the shrewdest and most capable of connections, so mammoth improvement is far from out of the question (though it should be accompanied by a trip to the stewards room to explain, in my opinion!).
On Sunday, we have the Greatwood Hurdle amongst other competitive races.
Trends for the Greatwood are:
9 from last 11 winners were 5 or 6 years old. Five who can't win statistically, including my form selection, Ashkazar.
8 of last 10 winners had been placed 1st or 2nd last time out.
Remarkably this leaves us with three!
They are Silver Jaro, Mudslinger and King's Revenge.
The Jaro was a huge shout for us at the Festival when he popped up for our trends at 50/1, and I'm loathe to leave him now. King's Revenge features in my ten to follow, so I'm hoping he's there or thereabouts, as I reckon he will be. The Mudslinger ought not to be good enough on the evidence to date.
Chuck in the fact that 6 of 10 winners lugged a pound shy of 11 stone or more to victory, and you're looking for a horse with a touch of class. Silver Jaro is the only one of the trio that fits this somewhat tenuous bill.
He has course form and comes from a progressive stable. He's the one for me. Look out for Ashkazar as well though. Top weight for the 4yo, but he might end up being a Champion Hurdle contender...
Good luck as always with your weekend wagers.