Good evening from the Major who writes from a mild Worcestershire evening where the air bites a little into the cheek and I am glad to shut the door to such horrors and relax in the comfort of home.
We are half way there. Today, I was glad to watch the action from home. I have done the ‘4 day’ festival before and you end up spat out the other end, dazed confused and damned.
Today, after fixing my guests the finest Worcestershire cooked breakfast, I sauntered into town for a haircut and to visit my turf accountant. Then to home, warm tea and able to focus on the racing in detail with the up close TV angles but none of the intimacy of yesterday. I am also shattered. I have a bad cold and fear the usual service is diminished. If the product does not meet your requirements, you are entitled to a full refund, let me know.
I am back at course tomorrow and health permitting, will take champagne and whisky, confident in their medicinal qualities.
I spent most of the time before racing this morning still mulling over Annie and Tuesday. One thought rested with me. In the maelstrom, did Un de Sceaux not quite get the credit he was due?
Early in the season, I suggested that God’s Own would be a horse to follow and possibly a Champion Chase horse. I did this after his Exeter exploits. What an experienced novice he was and in a race that was falling apart. He did not carry any of my money on Tuesday but 33/1 2nd in the Arkle…. My theory was correct but my application poor.
Today’s racing seemed a come down at times. The Neptune saw Windsor Park assert on better ground and last nights sermon followed straight up with another win, Don Poli who while not always travelling sweetly, showed his heart at the business end. We were on. That was the last on my success.
You need to get lucky in some of the handicaps where so many avenues of possibility create a mile wide river of doubt. Those unfortunate guesses I don’t mind but I was unhappy to be so far off in the Champion Chase.
I am not sure what to make of the race. It seems to crass to say so but I thought that Sprinter Sacre was going to end up with a P next to his name. Please disassociate the thought that he would from the desire to see that. When he bled after his return race, I was concerned and now I wonder whether retirement might soon be a consideration.
Anyway, the race and the day was a little short of top draw. Now Major, are you being a little sore because you won two races and then drew blanks? Perhaps.
That Champion Chase though, I do not think will last long in the memory. I put Special Tiara up as my next best at 25/1 each way because I could see this as a possibility but I did not wish it. No, I would rather have seen four or five top two mile chasers bursting past at the bottom of the hill.
Instead we got the improved but not brilliant Dodging Bullets being chased down by old man Somersby with Special Tiara kept up to the work by Noel Fehily.
Sire de Grugy looked niggly early to me, not quite as poetic at the fences. Sprinter, well, I don’t want to get into trouble with his legions of mega-fans so shall keep my counsel.
Not every year can be vintage.
Cheltenham Thursday – World Hurdle Day Tips
After a flying start, the day paled away. I kept most of the powder dry but overall, came away with the silver for war intact.
We switch to the old course, longer run ins – perhaps more action from the back of the pack (although Moon Racer enjoyed picking them off!).
Business starts with the JLT and Vautour. Many of you will have read the piece I wrote at the start of the week covering my main interests and Vautour is one of the lynch pins of the week.
I had tickets for the Champion Chase with his name on and then when my theories seemed unfounded, started backing him for the JLT at around 5/1. I am not gloating, there are plenty of slips in the bin already too.
Anyway, bar one inexplicably poor run, he has been solid high-grade winner and although Don Poli is all the rage for the 2016 Gold Cup. This boy might enter calculations with a decisive win today.
Ptit Zig does concern me. He has improved but if you want to come out of the festival on top, you have to take a view. Mullins bandwagon rolls on. 2/1. Top me up!
Most of this week, I have been guessing at the handicaps but on Thursday, I think the favourites in two of them have a superb chance.
When Edeymi managed to qualify for the race with a 4th at Musselburgh at the start of February, every shrewdie in Britain and Ireland got their mythical notebooks out. Not only did the horse stay on well without, to be polite, perhaps being ridden as prominently as possible; the trainers name stood off the race card in bold capital letters. Tony Martin, knows how to get them ready, a phrase that really means, knows how to only show the horses full ability on the day.
I will be topping up. 9/1 Paddy Power.
The the Ryanair. In God’s Own I picked a horse that has done well but got the target wrong. I managed the same trick with Ma Filleuele who was in my Gold Cup book at 50s and 66s.
Her run at Aintree was very good, she has a lovely fluidity at her fences, a bit like Hurricane Fly, looks very economical at getting across. She travels very nicely as well but looks, well slow. It might not be a problem but they need to go quick enough. I must confess that I have some tickets on her in this too but on the eve of the race, she is not my pick. You see, I am not sure the better ground is what she wants.
This week, my readership has blossomed as the racing tourists join the regulars. For those without the benefit of some history to my style, I ask forgiveness for what is about to happen.
Taquin du Seuil has ability. He is leggy, he is awkward, he is not quite a stayer, not quite a speedster. He likes better ground and this is probably the right trip. The form of his JLT is not brilliant and well, he clearly has not gone forwards but surely Jonjo can bring him to the boil for me and I think Noel Fehily is an excellent pilot for the job. Keep the faith, 12/1 in a place.
I accept this is now a problem, a cry for help and so I offer a second more reasoned judgement. Johns Spirit at 10/1 is a steal. He thrives at the course and run very well here under heavy weights previously, A Jonjo 1-2?
The World Hurdle does not look a classic. When you consider that Zarkander is favourite and was beaten resoundly by Annie Power, you wonder whether Annie would have won this championship race. Not that I am admonishing her been entered in the mares.
Anyway, the Nicholls yard are flying again, which is restoring some British pride to the leaderboard. Sapphire de Rheu and Zarkander will be the two that most folk concentrate on and why not? Sapphire gave a tough display to edge out Reve de Sivola and the latter is a tough nut to crack.
Well there are other options. Tiger Roll is not the craziest 66/1 shot I have seen, although he’d be the youngest ever winner. Whisper holds some merit and Cole Harden almost might feature.
11/2 the field. The biggest field for nearly ten years. A wide open World Hurdle.
Lieutenant Colonel looks the best of the Irish contingent and I am tempted. He is unexposed and improving at staying trips. I have a concern on the ground though which is a positive factor in considering Whisper. He came close to getting the nod.
Instead, I go for Saphir de Rheu. The form of his last run here is franked and franked again. Cole Harden and Reve de Sivola are solid yardsticks to beat and down the field was The Druids Nephew who did his bit on Tuesday. Progressive and with Nicholls and Sam flying, 6/1 Paddy Power and Stan James. Have some of that.
I wrote a piece for a racing community on the Plate and won’t reiterate it all here but the highlights are that the profile I seek is a 135-145 rated chaser wither on the way up or having had former glories. Pipe, Henderson and Venetia have good track records, with Pipe’s being excellent.
Champion Court would be intensely popular and fits my profile. Un Ace does too and I prefer that one. Yet, Monetaire ticks every box bar being proven on the ground and I think, after the bumper win today for Pipe, there will be more money so get the 7/1 as soon as you can. More confident than most handicaps.
God, the Kim Muir. If you need this, you are in a world of trouble. My guess is Bless The Wings. Nina would have had the choicest rides to pick from and she has gone for Gordon Elliott’s runner. He inherited the horse from Alan King and after a few OK runs, it has not been seen for some time. There is a record of big runs when fresh so…. Well look, you could pick nearly any of them. 22/1.
Courage friends, roll the dice.