Good morning from the Major who writes from a darkened Worcestershire where the sky carries a grey heaviness, dripping in uncertainty.
The dampness is omnipresent, seeping into everything, forming an unholy alliance with the chill air. So pervasive are conditions, it is hard to imagine the whole world is not enveloped in the same. How we long for the sun to burn through.
The fact I feel unsettled is amplified by the weather based Cheltenham worries. Temperatures are forecast to be -5 degrees overnight on Monday as the Russian Eastern front rolls in, enough to have the course scrambling to get the covers down. At the moment they are on the take offs and landings but the whole course might be covered if needs be.
Is the festival in danger? I have known Cheltenham survive minus seven overnight. To do so, the daytime recovery is vital. Should we only be looking at 1/2 degrees on Tuesday by mid morning then we all might be in for a mighty disappointment, damn you weather front.
A lot of the enjoyment of any event is in the waiting. Like the holiday you have booked, the pleasant thoughts that precede it can lighten your mood from a cold gloomy Saturday and 19 miles of marathon training that you are due to put in. With the thing itself at risk, the impact is on the anticipation too.
The Major has posted a couple of antepost tips but I shall spill my Cheltenham festival thoughts out here instead and then invite you all followers to take part in my free Cheltenham charity tipping competition (might cost you!). As usual I shall be your eminent guide as to where you might lose your money today. Let’s be honest, it is not a day to be bold.
I will write up a daily blog next week but here are my thoughts on Cheltenham.
My Tent or Yours will win the Supreme, load the cannons now because there is not a lot else to back at the top of the market, now AP is booked, Jezki is not going to shorten at the same rate and I see MTOY going off very short. Load the Cannons at 7/4 and be in a position where the Supreme dictates your week!
I am a Simonsig rather than an Overturn man for the Arkle. The former looks unstoppable.
Zarkander looks a bet in the Champion Hurdle. What has he done wrong? Arabella Boy for the Cross Country and Quevega in the Mares.
The Neptune carries my biggest Antepost exposure in Taquin du Seuil. I have been putting this horse about to friends and anyone daft enough to listen – If it goes in, you will hear me.
Of course Sprinter Sacre wins… I cannot wait for that. I have a 40/1 ticket on Son of Flicka in the Coral Cup but he needs decent ground. I like Regal Encore in the bumper although blimey… you are comparing the incomparable.
Dynaste turning up in the Jewson is going to be my biggest antepost disappointment. I have some investments on him storming up the hill as the winner of the RSA… damn you Pipe.
The Ryanair looks unbelievably good as horses flee the Aeroplane. Cue Card really looks like he is fulfilling his promise and I take him.
Everyone thinks Oscar Whiskey is a non stayer but not me. I think he stayed well up the hill at Cheltenham in January and he will have needed that run. We are missing Big Bucks, Monksland and Reve de Sivola so the World Hurdle is not the strongest anyway. Despite me thinking Oscar Whiskey is the best bet, my biggest bets are going to be on the horse that I love to watch, Bog Warrior, he has a chance too… Just bear in mind that I would back him to beat Gary Kasparov at chess too.
In the Triumph I like Rolling Star, the defeat of Irish Saint shows he handles the rolling countryside of Cheltenham and as a debut goes, that was very very good!
In the Gold Cup, Sir Des Champs is the one I am ducking. The value has been sapped from Long Run who has most of my antepost money. Silviniaco Conti is the bet for me right now.
Tanks for That at 16s finishes the antepost position.
The Martin Hill Cheltenham Lucky 15 is Arabella Boy, My Tent or Yours, Cue Card and Oscar Whiskey.
The Cheltenham Contest
I want to raise some money for a charity that is close to my heart…. Footsteps Foundation. I want to raise a few quid over Cheltenham and thus challenge any followers to take on the mighty tipster that is my four year old son Matthew (pictured).
All bets will be at SP. Submit yours in the comments. You have to cover… The Champion Hurdle, The Champion Chase, The World Hurdle, The Gold Cup, The Neptune, The Supreme, The Ryanair, The Champion Bumper, the RSA and the Jewson.
I will publish a list of the tips, including the ones that Matthew picks. His method will be simple, I will show him the horses, read out their names and a combination of name and colours will guide his selection. I won’t guide him, all selections will be his and his alone…
The Charity Bit…
I think Matthew can beat a few of you and so I will publish the results and will donate a fiver to the charity for each of you that beats him. As a condition of entry, I ask you to donate a tenner in the unlikely event that you lose to him! What say thee… dare to take on the mighty tipster!
All you need to do is post your tips for the selected races in the comments. No money is required until the result and then it will be done on trust. After all, the Major has readers that are sound of heart and of unquestionable integrity.
Tips for Saturday | Imperial Cup
Can you have a stronger smell of a horse plotted for a gamble than Mr Mole. A JP horse with Nicholls who is put away for the Imperial… C’mon kids, take the hint and have a slice at 9/2. There are good reasons to like many of the others including Tominator who will relish the bustle of the big field and Tanerko Emery representing the Pipe operation that have really made hay in this race (5 winners in the last 12 years). Let us not forget though that Mr Mole also beat Melodic Rendevouz and that is top class form… Load a cannon, in fact smash a massive cannon into the 9/2 with Paddy Power who give you 5 places.
The earlier race is the EBF Final (2.05) and a wide open novice awaits. I can’t believe Many Clouds is 11/1. The last race he won was impressive, not spectacular at first glance but beat a good Ditcheat yardstick and the two had pulled well clear.
Swatow Typhoon in the opening novice at Ayr is a backable evens prospect. Have a small slice.
I also like Current Event in the 3.40 at Chepstow but am struggling to raise the energy to tell you why.
In the football, QPR at home at 13/10 versus a poor Sunderland needs your urgent attention. Swansea at 11/5 to beat WBA will upset Mr Hill but I think they are a team that do not get enough credit. The Watford money train that has served us so well at 5/6 needs to be backed again.
The Martin Hill Lucky 15 for today is Watford, Mr Mole, Current Event and QPR.
May your dinner be most pleasant, an uncomfortable feeling in your pocket as you Cheltenham roll, large enough to choke a donkey digs into those ribs. Hold your ground young man, we do not break the line until we see the whites of their eyes.
Courage, roll those dice.