The 2012 Cheltenham festival was an absolute belter. The Major managed to attend each day and it was a gruelling test of drinking and gambling.
My brother also stayed the course. Tuesday and Thursday were business invites and the Wednesday and Friday were spent in Best Mate. Thursday in the RSA box was superb but debauchery reached a new level on Gold Cup day in the Best Mate tent. Put simply, civilisation broke and all law and order collapsed.
The festival is celebration. Racing and Life.
The Racing was amazing too. Cinders and Ashes, a horse I remember that Keys got the better of in a Cheltenham bumper has forever been on the Majors ‘get’ list but it cost me in the Supreme. Watching Rock on Ruby stay on up the hill bought a smile to my face and some weight to my wallet (antepost 14/1). It was striking that horses seemed to be winning from the front and this dictated my betting for the first two days on the new course.
Highlight of Tuesday though was the arrival of a new star in Sprinter Sacre. He sailed over his fences and despite the gallant Cue Card trying to close, he won with plenty in hand. A star is born. So good to see renewal of talent, it is one of my favourite sensations of the festival.
I say that was Tuesdays highlight…. Hunt Balls incredible rise to glory continued – He started the year a 69 rated handicapper and finished it looking a serious Gold Cup horse. Although Anthony Knott did not jump on the horses back this time, he did give a cracking interview that really sums up what racing is about!
Sadly there was a cloud on the day as two horses were killed in the Cross Country. This bought questions about whether the race is safe to the fore, we shall see whether it returns in 2013. If not, may the Major suggest that the festival incorporates a veterans race. I think they are good ideas and a sort of classic chase over 3m open to 10 year olds and up, might be a popular race.
Wednesday was another great day of betting for the Major with the beautiful Rebecca Curtis sending out Teaforthree as a 13/2 winner. The Major had the winner in the next too with Simonsig advised 7/2 antepost. The Champion Chase was marred by a heavy fall (horse fine) for Wishfull Thinking, the last fence had to be avoided and it was only some superb work by Andrew Lynch aboard Sizing Europe that saved the day. Finians wore the Champion down on the climb to the line in an epic Champion Chase – Looks like a great 8/1 bet for next year.
Bobs Worth proved me all wrong in the RSA beating a disappointing Grand Crus and First Lieutenant.
Thursday was a third profitable day on the trot for the Major. Sir Des Champs took the Jewson and was pretty much the most impressive winner of the week in my book (bar possibly Sprinter Sacre and Hunt Ball!) – He was inch perfect at the fences and this was the second festival on the trot that the Major won with this one.
The Ryanair was a thriller with a blanket covering the first three home, well done Riverside Theatre.
Big Bucks took his fourth World Hurdle and showed why he was the champ. The Major was stood with his brother at the top end of tatts and as they cleared the last, it looked that Voler la Vedette had come with a winning late run but then the superstar that is Big Bucks showed why he is the best horse in training. Awesome.
Friday and the Major was tired. Birmingham had descended on the Major on Thursday night and a transport disaster almost stopped us. Thankfully the village publican managed to organise a replacement minibus and after a hearty champers and Guinness breakfast, we flew straight in.
The Gold Cup was a cracker. Kauto dropped out on the way out to country and the Major was moved by the rippling applause that broke out for the two time champion. Long Run failed to sparkle and show his great stamina reserves and McCoy after nearly 4 miles needed the last few hundred yards to see off massive outsider The Giant Bolster to get Synchronised up.
One other mention for the racing was Une Artiste who pocketed the Major a fortune. The horse was tipped up in the weeks running up to the festival but slightly disappointed. The Major followed her again with a little saver and no-one can stop smiling like a lunatic with a 40/1 winner in your pocket! the jockey did a great job just straightening her out after the final hurdle.
That’s it, a snapshot of the Majors 2012 Cheltenham Festival memory – Just 51 weeks to go eh?