The king is dead, long live the king! For Willie Mullins read Gordon Elliott, his rise to fame and success is about to be realised on the biggest stage.
And so to the final two days of the 2017 shindig, what and who can possibly stop baby-faced Elliott taking over the world from a handicapping perspective?
Well possibly me, because I have, at my peril, laid a huge match bet with a professional punter that FOR GOOD MEASURE will finish ahead of Elliott’s Jury Duty in Thursday’s Pertemps Hurdle Final (2.10pm).
This man is a huge shrewdie, having backed Labaik and Apples’s Jade in a very tasty double on the opening day. However, with Hobbsy’s cracking record in this staying handicap hurdle and the fact that Dickie Johnson has overlooked Golden Doyen for his younger stablemate, I am confident of a result with For Good Measure in this 3m test.
Elliott’s other big fancy on the card Diamond King will rightly be all the rage for the Brown Advisory Palte at 4.10pm.
Back on good ground I am hoping that the Nicholls’ festival winning machine will re-ignite with last year’s Close Brothers’ runner-up BOUVREUIL at tasty double-figure odds.
The Kim Muir (5.30pm) has long been one of my favourite Festival handicaps having backed four of the last five winners.
It used to be like watching some amateurs playing a cello on horseback, but the standard of jockeyship has improved immeasurably and on the drying ground the very well handicapped HADRIAN’S APPROACH and course winner WHATS HAPPENING will carry my each-way weight of expectation.
RATHER BE looked hugely unlucky not to land the hat-trick at Sandown last time out and Friday’s Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle (4.50pm) is his domain on Friday. If the ballot beats him, he also has an entry at Kempton the following day.
Bullet the blue sky
And so to the last race of the Festival, the Grand Annual (5.30pm) a race I have been pinning my bank statement too for weeks.
The current weather forecast makes for uncomfortable reading though as I really need a dry forecast overnight for my selection.
At a recent festival preview night, handicapper Phil Smith exclaimed my selection “had gone at the game.”
I have rarely agreed with the BHA head of weights and measures. As long as the ground is no slower than good to soft, a mark of 151 for the former champion chaser DODGING BULLETS looks well worth exploiting.
Gordon Elliot could well scupper that best-laid plan with The Game Changer IF that mercurial beast gets the run of the race, IF indeed.