Well, we’re into a single-figure countdown from here.
That means you can almost smell the Joop. You can almost taste the watered-down booze. You can almost hear the roar. You can sense the final fields. You can imagine Paul Nicholls’ book of excuses. You can read the short-term weather forecasts.
And realistically, you can almost begin the walk from the train station to the racecourse because the horrific journey is notoriously uphill. But one thing you simply must do is nail down your best bets for each day and hang your hat on them.
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I’ve news for you – we all have fancies in 28 races and you’ll be having an incredible Festival if five of them end in your favour. So remove all the noise.
Forget your P+L, your WhatsApp boasts, your on-the-fence takes – right now, it’s about focusing your mind on the four good things you believe will be your cornerstones for the four days.
And in true segmented fashion, I’ve got one for each day for you.
Avengers Assemble! Or whatever the Cotswold equivalent of that is? Gloucestershire Gather! Cheltenham Congregate! You get the drift.
As Joseph O’Brien’s Race Planner Kevin Blake rightly pointed out, High Definition only saw a hurdle for the first time just six weeks before his debut over obstacles.
And for all that we like to say he’s not up to the standard to win this, I would just point out that he put Jetara to bed quite comfortably in his maiden victory – a horse who ran leading Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle fancy Ashroe Diamond very close thereafter. But I digress.
Coming for the Flat, he has speed to burn and you’ll have horses in here wanting to cover any move Facile Vega makes. Which is fine. But Willie already mentioned there’ll be a change of tactics on him which could see him race mid-pack at very best.
Marine Nationale may track him but is generally held up. Il Etait Temps will obviously be ridden handy but won’t go with a front-runner, while Tahmuras will need to settle so can’t go from the front.
With the pack in behind trying to cover each’s other’s moves, don’t be surprised to see High Definition him get a freebie up front. He was a 9/4 favourite to win the Irish Derby in 2021, so he can string them up and slow it mid-race before going for a final kick at the bend into the straight.
The best horse in the race may catch him, but I’d be surprised to see the lot of them emerge to go past him.
Just because people don’t like the notion of a horse not winning in his seasonal reappearance does not mean they’re also rans come Cheltenham time. Please begin to comprehend this.
Gentleman De Mee has run seven times between the months of February and April and won five times. He put Edwardstone to bed at Aintree when they last clashed and hammered Blue Lord at Leopardstown since then. The lack of respect shown to him in the betting is strange.
The only two runs he lost in those months were in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle in 2021, where he pulled way too hard and took himself out of a race won by the now Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs, and a handicap hurdle where he ran loose before the start.
I understand carrying a reputation of doing it on the biggest of days that’s being afforded to Edwardstone and Energumene but if you simply dig a touch deeper, you begin to see which horse’s preparation lands them in best stead come March.
There’s uncertainty in the market between the likely contenders and that’s largely due to the fact that neither is spectacular anymore. If you’re taking a short price about anyone in this race, I think you’re miles off the mark.
Talk about a horse who’s constantly being under-bet. So much confidence have I in Mighty Potter bolting up here that the only form line I’m interested in, is the one tying everyone to him.
Adamantly Chosen was eight lengths second to him at Leopardstown and that will do for me.
I know everyone will look towards the Irish Arkle for the Banbridge angle, but you have to remember he’s simply just outstayed real two-milers that went to win that race. Banbridge didn’t and the result may have flattered him.
You have to remember that, when meeting in the Drinmore Chase there was 19 lengths between them two over the 2m 4f trip they’ll be racing over in a week’s time.
Speaking of the Irish Arkle, too – anyone backing Appreciate It at nine years of age to finish anywhere near Mighty Potter, especially after that effort at the Dublin Racing Festival, is bordering on lunacy.
No nine-year-old has ever won this race, and in fact, the only horse older than eight to ever even finish in the first three was Faugheen. Stage Star? Won a two-runner jaunt around Plumpton and a middling handicap off 142.
Adamantly Chosen, chose adamantly.
There was a theory a few years ago that people often over-bet unlucky losers because of what they potentially could have done and overlooked what the clear winner has done.
I’d make the argument that the money coming from Gala Marceau is just a counter-movement against this line of thought. Lossiemouth is comfortably the best horse in this race based on not only her two wins but also her second to the horse in question at the DRF.
The seven-and-a-half-length defeat to Lossiemouth in December was actually flattering to Gala Marceau and if you think that, with a clear run, Lossiemouth wouldn’t have gone on to make it three wins on the spin, you’ve never watched racing in your life.
As for Blood Destiny? A talking horse. The second of his two runs came on heavy ground, with the three previous winners of that race going on to achieve absolutely nothing of note.
Autumn Evening failed to win any of his next five starts, Wolf Prince won none of his next 10 while Surin went into mares company immediately after and failed miserably on her return to graded races.
It’s also finally worth noting that Lossiemouth has had three starts compared to just two for the market principles – that’s so crucial for four-year-olds.
I can’t see anything getting next nor near her.
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