Well what a weekend that was, dear reader, for some people more than others. One lucky Geegeez reader posted a comment Saturday night to say that he'd had the best betting day of his life. He collected Â£30,906 for just a Â£3 bet!
Of course, I couldn't let that pass without asking him if he'd share how he did it, and Peter was gracious enough to say yes.
First, here's the comment from the blog:
Hi Matt, you wished me a good weekend in your e-mail and Iâ€™ve just had the best days racing of my life on Saturday at Cheltenham. I did a Â£3 treble on baccalaureate 100-1 , hey big spender 5-1 and taranis 16-1 which gave me Â£30,906. Itâ€™s a day which will live long in my memory. Isnâ€™t it wonderful when everything goes right for once.
Best wishes Pete.
A Â£3 treble with a 100-1 shot, a 5-1 and a 16-1, all of whom cruised to the front when winning their races, must have been sweeter than sweet. I mean, when did you ever see a 100-1 shot amble to the front? At Cheltenham! (I know, Norton's Coin...)
When I asked where the inspiration for this turbo-charged treble came from, Peter replied:
As to my picking method, I've noticed for some time that novice hurdles tend to throw up unexpected results, and pistolet noir was carrying a penalty which put me off of him. I had noticed that baccalaureate had run well on the flat in France and I had backed it twice before, so I wasn't going to miss it out of my bets. The price of 100-1 was crazy on it's flat form.
I picked hey big spender, ( very apt name don't you think) by reasoning that with soft ground at Cheltenham it was better if a horse had run over furthur than the race trip of 2m 5f, and he had run over 3m 1f last time out.
Taranis was the easiest horse to pick because it's a bad race for favourites and Taranis had won first time out for 4 seasons in a row.
I doubt that my picking will hit the mark as well again for a long time but I will never forget Taranis cruising home over the final fence.
Best wishes from Pete
PS. I'm getting a copy of my bet framed so I can hang it on my wall.
Wow! You've got to salute a man who says that the 16/1 shot was the easiest horse to pick! Seriously, I'm sure all Geegeez readers will join me in a hearty congratulations for what was a truly epic wager. (And if you fancy emailing me a picture of the betting slip, that'd be great! 😉 )
Catching our breath and moving on, what did the weekend's racing action tell us (aside from who the champion tipster is)?
Well, the action at Cheltenham was entitled 'Festival Trials Day', so we were looking for a few clues for the March puntathon. And we got them too.
Firstly, I was also pleased when Baccalaureate lowered the colours of the supposed Nicholls first string for the Triumph Hurdle. Why? Because on the blog here on Friday I'd advised, erm, Advisor for the race at 16-1. He's now down to 14's generally and as low as 12's in places. And, importantly, he'll probably be the choice of Ruby Walsh.
There appeared to be no fluke about the win of Baccalaureate, though the ground may have favoured him over Pistolet Noir, and it's unlikely to be as soft in March.
Hey Big Spender dotted up in the handicap chase and definitely appreciated the cut. Again, he may be less effective when the hooves hit the harder stuff in six weeks time. But for now, he's definitely one to keep on the right side of. Keep in mind that he's a novice and is entered in the RSA Chase. However, a more likely target would be one of the staying handicap chases (for novices or not). The Big Spender has wins at Cheltenham and Newbury to his name, so he clearly has a touch of class about him, and his trainer - Colin Tizzard - is nobody's mug.
The Sawyer broke a couple of key trends to win for the second year in a row in the Betfair Handicap Chase. He loves Cheltenham and will have peeved the handicapper somewhat by doubling up after last weekend's betting coup. Expect things to get tougher for this chap now. In behind, Mister McGoldrick ran another supremely gallant race from the front. He won at a fat price at the Festival last year and, though he's now a 13 year old with 83 runs under his belt (!), he still looks to love the game and may reward a place bet at a decent price.
In the big race, the Argento Chase (formerly the Cotswold Chase), Paul Nicholls vindicated his decision not to bring Denman here, as his second string in the race, Taranis, blew away the cobwebs of a two year absence with a very classy victory and, in doing so, made one reader extremely happy. (I can only imagine how you must have been feeling Peter, when Taranis cruised alongside Carruthers, your horse hard held, Mattie Bachelor's shoved along...!)
It can sometimes be the case that horses returning for their second start after a long lay-off fail to reproduce the level of form of their first run but, if Taranis could repeat that performance, he might just give his two eminent stable seniors a race. A lot of if's in the above, which is why he's still 33/1 with William Hill. But, in the betting without the first two market (a great market that gives you down to fifth place, if both Denman and Kauto do what they can do), he's an 8/1 shot, which might be tempting.
Personally, I'm sticking with Albertas Run in the 'without the first two' market, at around 25/1 (quarter the odds a place).
Carruthers ran a bold race and had all the rest bar the resurgent veteran Joe Lively beaten off, but it might be that this wasn't the strongest Festival trial.
In the staying novices' hurdle on the other hand, Restless Harry quickened away from them in the style of a very nice horse. It's obviously not going to be easy to dominate a field in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, but he'll give them all something to aim at if they're good enough.
By winning this contest in the style of a very able runner, he paid a handsome compliment to his Newbury vanquisher, Reve de Sivola, and I immediately snapped up the 11's available on Betfair about de Sivola winning the Baring Bingham / Neptune at the Festival. Immediately, that is, prior to him drifting back out to his current 14 on that exchange!
The Cleeve Hurdle was still to come, and this looked a good opportunity for a number of animals to book a return ticket to Cleeve Hill for the World Hurdle. As it turned out, it was a Festival favourite, Tidal Bay, who turned back his own recent tide of under-performing to win handsomely from the improving Time For Rupert and the tough, but maybe now a little limited, Katchit.
Any doubts about whether Tidal Bay would run in the Ryanair or Queen Mother Champion Chase were dispelled, as it now looks long odds on that he'll be taking on Big Buck's et al for the Stayers' crown. Considering Big Buck's himself and Inglis Drever mopped up this event en route to their World Hurdle crowns, and knowing TB's affection for Cheltenham (never out of the first four in eight starts, including four wins and two seconds), he's a definite contender in a race that lacks depth.
In the last race Aather should have won, and may well do next time, if produced later and by a more aggressive pilot.
Over the pond, there were a couple of Grade 2's at Punchestown, and THE trial for the Cross-country race at the Festival. The last mentioned, the PP Hogan Memorial, produced a real shock as Enda Bolger failed to win! In fact, the best of Bolger's quintet of runners could manage only sixth of the seven to complete (another seven failed to pass the post).
Take nothing away from the winner, Another Jewel, who is an up and coming sort but this looked a moderate renewal, and whether it can retain its stranglehold on providing the Cross Country winner at the Festival must be in more doubt than is usually the case.
Next up for Punchy punters was the Tied Cottage Chase, a Grade 2, featuring a match between Big Zeb and up-and-coming Golden Silver. I'd backed Zeb, fully expecting him to boss these slightly below top grade sorts, and - for once - I was proved spot on.
I've always felt that the Zeb is a bit of a choker in top class. His jumping seems to go to pot in the best races and, as here, he is much more fluent against anything below Grade 1 company. Funnily enough, he strikes me as the sort who might make a very dark horse for a race like the Champion Hurdle, but I'll probably never see that.
Golden Silver stuck to his task well, having been properly outpaced by the winner heading down the back straight and turning in. Whilst he wasn't getting any closer at the finish, he probably recorded a slight reduction on his previous level of form.
The big race from my perspective was the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, which featured a rematch between Hollo Ladies, Saludos and Luska Lad, the 1-2-4 from the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle over the Christmas holiday. As it transpired, they finished 1-2-4 again, only in the reverse order from that previous affair.
My money was on Saludos, not for yesterday's race but for the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the opener at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He again tried to run them off their feet, and he again found one too good. Despite jockey Robbie Power's protestations that he's "much happier going left-handed", I can't see me getting paid out on this ante-post voucher.
Oh well, I've still got Loosen My Load for that race!
The winner, Luska Lad, had looked relatively exposed, but is clearly better going right handed (funny how these horses improve or regress depending on which way round the clock face they race!), and the trainer doesn't think he'll run at Cheltenham, preferring - probably sensibly - to wait for the Punchestown Festival and a Grade 1 over course and distance.
So, for all those contending the weekend action, there was very little to really rattle the ante-post market cages. Perhaps the most notable exception would be Tidal Bay, who ran a stormer and - as I've said - I do believe that the places at least are there for the taking in the World Hurdle.
The Champion Chase looks like the race to play outsiders in, as the top three in the market are Master Minded (fractured rib when last seen); Twist Magic (can't jump, won't jump at Cheltenham); and, Big Zeb (capable but expected to fold like an origami black belt when put under pressure).
Given that sixth favourite Petit Robin's trainer (Nicky Henderson) has said the horse might well not run at the Festival, and that joint fourth favourite, Kalahari King, has yet to run this season (he's entered in the Blue Square Handicap Chase on Saturday), I make Forpadydeplasterer an each way banker. But then you knew that already, because I told you right here on the 21st December (http://www.geegeez.co.uk/3250/2010-queen-mother-champion-chase-preview-each-way-banker/ in case you missed it before).
The ante-post portfolio is actually looking pretty good at this stage (obviously, many armies have looked mightily impressive before the battle's begun!), and blog recommendations from here and horse-racing.ie are as follows (with prices from the time of writing):
Most Likely Winner: Celestial Halo (8/1, general)
Best Each Way (nap): Punjabi (14/1, William Hill)
Best Long Shot (e/w): Go Native (33/1, general)
Selection: Denman (9/4)
Best Each Way: Albertas Run (50/1)
Most Likely Winner: Master Minded (7/4, no bet)
Best Each Way (nap): Forpadydeplasterer (10/1, most firms)
Best Long Shot (e/w): Petit Robin (33/1, Stan James, Ladbrokes)
Selection: Big Buckâ€™s (4/6)
Best Each Way: Karabak (10/1)
Best Outsider: Katchit (25/1)
Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Most Likely Winner: Dunguib (6/4, no bet)
Best Each Way (nap): Loosen My Load (25/1, vcbet, Stan James, Coral, William Hill)
Best Long Shot (e/w): Saludos (33/1, Boylesports)
Selection: Advisor (16/1, general)
Alternative: Mille Chief (15/2, sportingbet.com)
Speculative each way: Olofi (33/1, general)
As you can tell, I'm already frothing at the mouth about the Festival, and I'll be taking a look at a few more races over the next few weeks.
That's it for today though. I hope your weekend betting was, if not as amazing as Peter's 10,301/1 treble, still pretty darned good.