My preview for the Cheltenham Festival 2009 will be even earlier this year and is coming soon…watch this space!
A busy day tomorrow with 4 selections running. There are good vibes and positive noises from the connections of all 4. First up is Theatre Girl who runs in the 12.30pm curtain raiser of what should be a magnificent day’s racing. Choc Thornton rides for Alan King who would love to win the first running of this race which named after his former boss. Watch out for emotional scenes in the winners’s enclosure should this one take centre stage. Best price is 5/1 having been recommended at 7/1. In the next Forpadydeplasterer runs for the Goat Syndicate and this time there could be wild as well as emotional scenes – you won’t be able to miss the red and white colours of his many owners. Best price is 5/1 having been recommended at 8/1. His is ridden by leading Irish jockey, Davy Russell and trained by Thomas Cooper. Next up is Celestial Halo at 2.15pm, trained by Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls and who will be ridden by Ruby Walsh. I make him my best bet of Festival 2008. Finally, the main event and arguably the best steeplechase in the past 40 years, is the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup at 3.30pm, featuring what could be an epic duel between Kauto Star, the Maserati and Denman, the tank, two of the best horses in quite some time. However, I take the wonderfully named Exotic Dancer to upstage them both. Best price is now 12/1 having been recommended at 14/1. It’s still a massive each way price. Good luck and if you can’t watch the race live make sure you watch a recording – it’ll be a cracker.
This is my last Festival preview post but I’ll be doing a preview of each Saturday’s racing on a new blog. The address will be posted here this Saturday morning.
It’s all systems go today with a mild dry day in prospect and what is probably the greatest ever 2 days of National Hunt racing in front of us. Two selections running today. Air Force One goes in the second race and will be ridden by Charlie Mann’s stable jockey Noel Fehilly. He is currently vying for favouritism and having been advised at 8/1 is now trading at a best price of 11/2. Connections are confident and he looks a solid each way bet. In contrast, there seem to be negative vibes surrounding Blazing Bailey both from connections and in the betting market. Having been advised at 7/1 he can now be backed at a standout 9/1 with William Hill. The form is there in the book though so we’ll have to see what happens. Good luck and enjoy!
Not yet confirmed by Cheltenham racecourse but the revised schedule for Thursday and Friday is likely to be as follows. Note the early starts!
Thursday (Old course)
12.30 Peter O’Sullevan National Hunt Chase
1.05 Royal & SunAlliance Chase
1.40 Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase
2.20 Queen Mother Champion Chase
2.55 Ryanair Chase
3.30 Ladbrokes World Hurdle
4.05 Racing Post Plate Handicap Chase
4.40 Pertemps Final
5.15 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir
5.50 Weatherbys Champion Bumper
Friday (New course)
12.30 David Nicholson Mares Only Hurdle
1.05 Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle
1.40 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle)
2.15 Triumph Hurdle
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
3.30 Totesport Gold Cup
4.05 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
4.40 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup
5.20 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle
Shocking news this morning. The racing has been abandoned with the races due to be re-scheduled on tomorrow and Friday.
In a late jockey change Robert Thornton rides Captain Cee Bee. This is a big plus as arguably he is the best jockey around Prestbury Park. The ground should be OK although we could have done without the rain as he loves genuine good going. 9/1 is now generally available and the big Irish gamble has yet to materialise.
Moon Over Miami is ridden by regular jockey Noel Fehilly. Let’s hope he copes with the hustle and bustle of his big day. 16/1 is generally available. He’s won at Cheltenham on both good and soft so the ground won’t be a problem.
Osana, ridden by tom Scudamore, has been well backed today and as short as 4/1 although you can get 11/2 with Hills. The ground will be fine as he’s won on soft and it was good when he won at Cheltenham in December.
Strong winds and rains from about 2.00am this morning. Winds have now eased off a bit and there is light drizzle. Skies are very grey. Not sure what impact rain will have on the going…more news later.
Just back from town and no sign of the storm yet and there are clear skies, light winds and there is no rain. Maybe it’ll hit during the night but given the reliability of the weather people lately I wouldn’t bet on it. Update to follow in the morning.
With just over 48 hours to go below is a review of my selections with the latest news and betting updates. The great news is that touch wood all my fancies are on target to run and in the right races. Also, it’s encouraging to see that all the prices have shortened with the exception of Exotic Dancer who still trades at the recommeneded 14/1. Obviously, the hard bit is for them to go on and strut their stuff but half the battle is getting good odds so I hope you took my advice and are already on.
Sam Thomas – No additional news to report than in my original post recommending Sam. Betting wise 12/1 is available in a place – Ladbrokes – and a juicy 17/1 is available on Betfair.
Captain Cee Bee – plenty of confidence from connections. Fairly positive in the market with some bookies cutting him to 7/1 although 8/1 is available having been advised at 9/1 here. He is currently 8.8 on Betfair and is vying for favouritism with Muirhead. As anticipated, I think the big Irish gamble will be on the former and not the latter. which will provide further encouragement. We’ll know by Tuesday lunchtime. I don’t think the ground will be worse than good to soft even if the much touted storm arrives. Good going will suit ‘the Captain’, who has been withdrawn in Ireland when the going became soft. It looks like Davy Russell, Irish Champion jockey will ride.
Moon Over Miami – Charlie Mann is happy with preparations which have involved trips to three racecourses to try and calm the horses nerves so he can deal with the big day. Encouraging to see some money lately with Bet365 cutting him to 11/1 this morning. 14/1 is the best price available having been recommended here at 16/1. 14.5/1 is the price to back on Betfair.
Osana – Positive noises are emanating from the Pipe stable and good to see them demonstrate the health of their string with the winner of the big race at Sandown yesterday. The overnight decs have just been made for the Champion Hurdle and Osana is the second favourite in a final field of 17. He is currently trading at a best price 11/2 having been recommended here at 6/1. The Betfair prices are currently suspended due to the recent declarations. I expect Osana to lead all the way and storm up the hill under Tom Scudamore.
Forpadydeplasterer – Preparations have gone smoothly and it seems that the anticipated Irish gamble has already started on this one thus cementing his position at the top of the market. He travelled over on Saturday so have avoided any storm issues. He’ll probably start favourite and holds that position on Betfair at 5/1 which is the best price on the books. Was recommended here at 8s so I hope my reader took the price.
Air Force One – Charlie Mann is happy and is confident of reversing the Ascot form with Albertas Run. There seems to be a feeling amongst pundits that he is a bit of a hype horse but he remains strong in the market. We’ll see on Wednesday. Best price is currently 11/2 having been recommended here at 6/1 although he is as short as 9/2 with Ladbrokes whilst trading on Betfair at 5.4/1.
Blazing Bailey – Slightly disconcerting to hear from trainer Alan King at the Official Preview that he prefers the chances of My Way De Solzen but I really can’t see that one finishing in front of my selection. He is probably my most solid each way selection – if he doesn’t place I’ll run naked down the lower high street! Best price is currently 6/1 having been tipped here at 8/1. He can be backed on Betfair at 7.4.
Celestial Halo – After much thought I nominate Celestial Halo as my banker of the meeting. The Nicholls camp – both owner, Andy Stewart and trainer, Paul Nicholls are very bullish for reasons already stated. In addition, his main – and possibly only danger – Franchoek may not get his ground as it it increasingly looking like the going by Friday will not be soft. Such conditions will be to the detriment of Franchoek but the benefit of Celestial Halo whose Flat speed can come into play over the last couple of hurdles where I can see him outspeeding Franchoek up the hill. Market confidence is also encouraging with the best price available now with Hills at a standout 11/2. He is short at 4/1 elsewhere and interesting trades below this price on Betfair at 5.4/1. If you haven’t yet backed him now is the time as the 11/2 will be gone by lunchtime. Those who took my advice at 10/1 are now in a great position and will have twice the best odds on the day. Could he even usurp Franchoek as favourite? I doubt it but he will shorten further.
Exotic Dancer – It’s been a roller coaster with this one with rumours, incorrect information from the stable and serious doubts about him taking part. However, all appears OK now and if he lines up on Friday he must have a terrific chance. He is the same price now, 14/1 as recommended last month and I can’t emphasis enough how much of a great each price this is. Basically, if he comes 2nd or 3rd you’ll win pretty the same as if you backed either of the big two and if he wins you’re laughing all the way to the bank. 14/1 for a horse with a terrific record at Cheltenham ,who is officially the second best horse in the race and is ridden by Tony McCoy is superb value. He is currently trading at 16.5/1 on Betfair.
Theatre Girl – Alan King, trainer, played his cards close to his chest at the Official Preview but I reckon he thinks he has the one to beat in the competitive Mares Race and he is happy with her preparation. Best price is currently 5/1 having been recommended here at 7/1. A couple of bookies have shortened her to 9/2 this morning and she trades at 4.7/1 on Betfair. Like, Celestial Halo this is below the bookies best price which usually indicates the odds will contract further.
Definite tip from King (reading between the lines!) – Prideus in Fred Winter. Says he is interesting 🙂 Mick is riding Boomshakalaka in Jewson.
Mick – Aigle D’Or. Chomba Womba
Paul – His best ride hasn’t turned up yet ;-). Openide each way. Inglis Drever.
Alan – Group Captain (interesting)
Tom – Osana
Mike – Mossbank
That’s all folks.