I always love the quotes from connections following a sensational victory in a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival:
That was always the plan, he has never been better at home and we thought he was well handicapped, but I am not sure where all that money came from, it wasn’t from the yard.
Every time you hear that on your TV screen next week – take it with a huge pinch of salt. About the size of the Shifto Salt Mine in Ontario, Canada!
Of course connections lay horses out to win at the Cheltenham Festival, it’s what every owner and trainer wants on their CV isn’t it? Although I would contend that the bigger players don’t always play by the rules; but that debate is for another day, probably the week before I retire!
My friend Marc Huglin is the most enthusiastic horse racing owner/breeder I have known. We go way back to our teenage years, growing up together in suburban Liverpool, and there is nothing more I would like than for the handsome VALUE AT RISK to win the day one finale, the Close Brothers Handicap Chase.
This now eight-year-old traded at odds-on when free-wheeling down the hill in the Albert Bartlett two years ago, only to fade up the final climb and thus contradicting his stout breeding lines that suggested he would stay longer than your aunt Joan.
He is simply too exuberant during his races to see out a ‘trip’, but he has enough class to go close here off 138, as he’s rated significantly higher over timber. I think he will play a huge role, but going right-handed on a flatter track is, in my opinion, more his domain.
I will have a saver on him because he is so prominent on my private ratings, but my main wager will be on SIZING TENNESSEE who is currently trading at 16/1.
Colin Tizzard’s charge has shown a liking for the track, but hasn’t had a race run to suit. An end to end gallop over this trip will be perfect and a double-figure price will be even better.
However, if he doesn’t, then the 2015 winner THE DRUIDS NEPHEW, who will run off exactly the same mark as that previous victory, fits the betting bill.
Talking of the Wednesday cavalry charge, what price Team Elliot landing this prestigious handicap hurdle with nine of the top 40 entries?
But if Gavin Cromwell, and more to the point Mr McManus, decide to run JER’S GIRL here as opposed to the mares or County Hurdle, I think she would relish this intermediate staying spectacle.
Set some tough tasks earlier this season behind Nichols Canyon and Petit Mouchoir in Grade 1 events. I think she is crying out for this test and has solid claims off a mark of 144 to thwart what’s turning into a wholesale gamble on Tombstone, who has dodged the Champion Hurdle for a crack at this.
Thursday’s Pertemps Hurdle is one of my favourite festival past times with my greatest punting memory being 50/1 shot Creole landing the 2004 edition…..and no don’t even try to ask me how I found him as to this day I simply have no idea!
I will wait on the ground before having a definitive punt in this staying event, an update blog will appear next Wednesday, but Golden Doyen (laid out for this) and thorough stayer Theo’s Charm both catch the eye.
As for the getting out Grand Annual on Friday week, I do have a 33/1 shot slowly making its way up my punting sleeve. The going will be all important for this charge, but if everything falls into place then the final battle of Prestbury Park 2017 could be the most crucial one. I’ll report back on Wednesday.