Good evening from the Major who writes from a Worcestershire scene of peaceful spring – The Major is returned from Cheltenham, a little bruised and wondering just how I finished the day so poor.
Proceedings started so well, Vautour was simply barnstorming – Ruby set the fractions and kicking off the turn, showed the field a clean set of heels. I have not read Paul Nicholls comments and so am uncertain if anything was amiss with Irving but he ran no sort of race.
The Arkle was taken by an outsider, as Ruby sailed over the last the crowd rose, like a wolf showing hackles, you could feel the energy about to go into roaring Ruby home, but then the last actor joined the stage, Western Warhorse under a maximum effort from Tom Scudamore to press a slight advantage at the line, ah he had not read the script, like a balloon slowly relieving itself of its contents, the masses calmed. A sea of slightly confused punters punctuated by the odd small stakes backer of the winner jumping for joy with their fingers clutching at a 33/1 ticket.
The Champion Hurdle demonstrated the sheer triumph and disaster our sport allows. Travelling up the inside on the back straight, Our Conor, such an effective hurdler, crumpled quickly on the landing side and suffered such injuries that it was deemed that the best course of action was to put him down. He gave me an inspirational moment last year and having followed him all season, it sobered me up alright. Christ, it is a magnificent sport but there is a grave price. It has not rightly sunk in, it is a terrible thing and while we move on, I shall not forget that great moment.
Contrast was provided within moments. I watched the race from a spot I frequent, knowing that Nicky Henderson is there. At some point just before the race, I realised that Jessica Harrington was alongside me in a smart red coat, class act I can tell you. As Jezki battled on with Geraghty using all of his guile to repel McCoy on My Tent or Yours, she burst into tears of joy – You could see what it meant. Afterwards, in a touch of class, Henderson went and embraced her… I regaled this to a table of serious Irish betting fraternity who tell me that they are the best of friends.
What a contrast. That is Cheltenham in a nutshell. I managed to suggest another horse that fell and with the screens up, looked like it might be serious but thankfully for the connections of Gardefort and the Williams yard, it seems as though it was tiredness and being winded. Yet I also saw with my eyes people will Quevega on, they helped her, does that sound ridiculous? Yes, it does, doesn’t it… Well I know, I was there.
In gambling, your investment returns may go up as well as down. The Major is down, yet, this is not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning, I can see the light. Vautour and Quevega are in a number of multiples I have – This is good. Plus, I feel like I have come on for the run today.
Wednesday Cheltenham Tips
Now, should you be a newcomer, you might not realise that I have already written up my thoughts for the Grade 1 races on the Wednesday card. I may refer to that page and so you can use the link to go to it if you want and read the earlier thoughts. That is how the internet works!
The day starts with the Neptune and another key plank of the Majors antepost week plots runs and we need at least a place and hopefully one better from Faugheen. The Red Sherlock and Rathvinden tied form is good but we get Ruby and since I am (and for the more infrequent / novice gamblers amongst you) going to use the technical term… I am ‘balls deep’ in this position my friends – Cheltenham depends on him and Annie Power.
As a footnote, if Lieutenant Colonel wins, consider the emotions, Dessie Hughes lost his stable star today in tragic circumstances, what god send the next to arrive on the scene and lift the spirit.
Then the RSA – Again, more substantial notes are available on the link above but I think this is a weak RSA (cannot remember that many strong ones!) and all those at the head of the market have question marks. As such, I stand by my selection, now drifted to 25/1 in Annacotty. He was giving weight to Indian Castle when running with credit in defeat, this drying ground will be fine and he has been targeted clearly at this race all season…. Have faith and courage my friends.
The Coral Cup is an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle and then smashed over your head time and time again. What can I tell you… Trends… In the last 15 years a horse has won 15/15. It had a jockey 15/15. I was not on it 15/15. You have been warned.
For what it is worth, I have looked at the card until my head hurts. Dunguib fits none of the usual profile but he is hardly a usual horse having been the great Irish hope until injury made him miss his best days. He is eleven, he will not want this rattling ground playing havoc with his joints! No.
There are plenty I can make some sort of case for. It also plagues me that the winner of this race has not returned at huge prices in recent years. In the end, I am betting Indevan at 20/1. Ruby again, Ricci again. Long absence to overcome but in excellent hands to do so.
Then the big race of the day, again something I have covered at length and I am most happy to continue to suggest backing the favourite Sire de Grugy makes sense. This is a weak Champion Chase and he has done everything right. I am surprised he is 11/4, load a cannon!
The Cross Country is a unique race for the festival and I like it, I know it has its detractors but if you are on course, I suggest you make your way to the centre of the course and enjoy watching the action up close.
As for the winner, I am a big fan of Big Shu, a horse I think should be much much shorter than 4/1. He was superb in this race last year and while a stone rise in the weights is a leveler, I think he is likely to go again. He has been laid out for this race and my only concern is that the ground might not be ideal. At huge price, Diamond Harry is no forlorn hope. Get stuck into my boy though!
The Fred Winter is another head scratcher. So many improvers, so much to like! I am swayed that the drying ground might be quite an issue for those with proven form in the book this winter. This is the tenth running of the race and it has had two 40/1 winners to date, one of which I had the pleasure of a bet on in Une Artiste…. Sweet memories.
I cannot find a profile I particularly like and so am siding with Katgary who we know so little about. Good hands, reasonably expensive and nearer the bottom of the weights which is the slightly more normal profile of a Fred Winter winner. Tread with care.
I have already covered the Champion Bumper in the link above. I am happy enough with Black Hercules but this is the bumper! Alternatives? Izzini with her mares allowance looks interesting at 50/1 (Boyles) and so does Our Kaempfer at 28/1 with BetVictor – They are longer priced darts and this is not a race I suggest you stake your dignity on.
Courage and roll the dice.