It is at this point that everyone hopes I am about to unveil a list of all the winners at the Cheltenham Festival but a) that has never happened in the past and if it had I would still be on a tropical island with my winnings and b) the snow and rain has turned the going at Prestbury Park to the worst it has been in twenty years or more. The only thing I can be confident of is plenty of shock results.
Naturally, that will not stop me trying, it is Cheltenham, and it is the best race meeting of the entire year after all, but each day will be written more in hope than confidence and if I can find a single winner I will be delighted and shocked.
All my trainer visits have become obsolete as we were convinced at that time that good to soft was as bad as it was going to get, and the horses we discussed were those who would handle the expected conditions, but we go to war regardless though this is fun, and as I remind myself every year, the only way to leave Cheltenham with a small fortune is to start with a large fortune.
Race by race here we go:
1.30pm – the roar from the crowd will start the meeting as usual and will send a shiver down my spine as it does every year. GETABIRD is far too short for my liking but he does tick each and every box. He has won on heavy going, over this trip, represents an in-form stable, and can be ridden from the front or off the pace. He should start us all off with a winner (hopefully).
2.10pm – Footpad is hard to oppose but is another at a poor price and Nicky Henderson was very sweet at the media day on the chances of BRAIN POWER, who has had a win operation since he was last seen. He has worked and schooled brilliantly since and has a chance though this heavy going is an unknown quantity, and bets should be reduced accordingly.
2.50pm – The first of the fiercely competitive handicaps over the course of the Festival and time for the lucky pin to be broken out of storage. After looking at recent form I came out with COO STAR SIVOLA only to find the Nick Williams’ gelding is forecast to go off favourite, but you can’t change your mind as we all know and if he handles the going as well as he did the soft at Exeter last time out he will take a lot of stopping here even with an added seven pounds from the handicapper.
3.30pm – BUVEUR D’AIR versus Faugheen perhaps, with preference for Nicky Henderson’s star hurdler. He handles this going and arrives at the top of his game while his market rival has a lot to prove and if he hurdles as smoothly as he can he should prove too good for his now ten-year-old rival who may sadly have his best days behind him now.
4.10pm – The Irish are adamant the Apple’s Jade is their banker of the meeting but at odds on she can run without the added weight of my money here. Although not a certainty I get the feeling the going may suit LA BAGUE AU ROI more than it will the jolly, and with enough runners to back her each way at 7/1 or so, that will be the way that I play this contest.
4.50pm – I admit it, I am totally horrified by the overnight prices for a race this competitive with six of the sixteen runners quoted at single figures and very little value to be had. I won’t be betting myself but a promise is a promise so SIZING TENNESSEE will do for me but this may be a chance to make a cuppa or grab a beverage.
5.30pm – And so we end Day One and if I have any money left then I will prove to the World how mad I can be with a very small each way bet on MARKOV at 50/1 or bigger. He has been in good form all season barring a fall and if he handles the going he does look overpriced for a stable that will have him ready to do himself justice, though he is a fun bet and should be treated accordingly.