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 Good going will suit ‘the Captain’, who has been withdrawn in Ireland when the going became soft.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.
Mick thinks Kauto Star is the most versatile horse in his lifetime and he has ridden him…he doesn’t say when?? He says he has speed and stamina. He thinks KS won’t be bothered if Denman hammers away up front….in fact he says Denman will set the race up for him! He thinks 6/1 is good value for Nicholls to train 1st 3. Likes Halcon Generaladais also and says he deserves his chance. He now bigs up Denman somewhat but thinks KS is better. King says tremendous performance by HG in Welsh National and goes there in very good form. He thinks KS is in a different league. Interestingly he is not sure Denman will even finish 2nd. Tom disagrees with everyone so far and likes Denman more than KS stating GS is sort of race that will suit the type Denman is eg a grinder. Thinks it’s between the big two and will be a fantastic race. No mention of my fancy Exotic Dancer yet! Paul says the Irish one (Fistfullofdollars?) will be supplemented but won’t win. He’s backed HC without the first two. Audience asked for a vote…about 60/40 in favour of KS. Still no mention of Exotic Dancer! Paul – World Shift won good point to point owned by Harry Findlay at weekend and could be future GC contender! An interesting tip. Exotic Dancer still not mentioned.
Mike points out it’s a Grade 1 for the first time this year. Paul thinks Mossbank has every chance. Worried that Old Vic will get too far behind. The Listener could go well as has good record over trip shorter than 3 miles. Thinks Mossbank might go off around 2/1. Tom has tipped him up at 5/1 so is sticking with him. More talk of Tsunami! They needn’t worry. Tom doesn’t like Our Vic. Mick drifted off so but is back online now….thinks Mossbank the banker. Kingy will run Howle Hill in Grand Annual and not here. He likes The Listener and wouldn’t write off Our Vic.
VPU is in very good form according to Alan and points out he likes Cheltenham. To see him at very best he needs good ground. Won’t give up crown without fight. He sounds quite bullish. Stronger the pace the better. Will run over 2 and a half next year. Fitzy says you need a 2 and a half mile horse to win this race. He thinks VPU has been outspeeded away from Cheltenham but could be the one on the day. Thinks Twist Magic will travel well and like good fast pace but not sure about hill. Points out that question marks about Master Minder…things have fallen his way and his jumping in France was not good. Tom likes Tamarinbleu and says form at Ascot was best 2 mile form this year but comes down on VPU. Thinks MM won’t jump and Twist won’t stay. Interesting that no one seems to like the 2 Nicholls favs. Paul thinks Irish have no chance in this race even if they started earlier than the others. Thinks VPU will go off favourite on the day. He’s backed MM though and won’t jump ship.
Ryanair next then Gold Cup to finish the evening.
Paul Ryan not sure that Pomme Tiepe could enough to win. Silberburn – horse box joke getting boring now. Doesn’t commit to anything as usual having skimmed through runners. Tom liked Ruby on Albertas at Ascot but thinks Air Force One will reverse form. Likes Silverburn and thinks he should be raced more forcefully…he has no doubts about him staying. Lots of contrasting opinions in this race as he can’t have Air Force One. He likes Ornais if he runs in this….likes his jumping and ability to stay. Also like Oscar Park. Mr King thinks AFO is OK and would like to see Charlie Mann have a winner. Prefers Silverburn but disagrees with Tom re riding style and he likes Oscar Park as well as does Tom who chips in again. Appatently ‘jumping is vitally important’ – thanks for that Tom.
After the longest draw in history – the poor MC was booed of stage – the panel are back on, roll VT, it’s the Arkle next up…Mick likes Noland’s jumping but isn’t sure he’s quick enough (I agree!). Having said that he says he’ll fly up the hill. Not many other English challengers…Tidal Bay doesn’t jump well enough. Segal not sure Noland’s a 2 miler. Tom originally liked Mahogany Blaise but didn’t like performance in Game Spirit. Tom likes Thyne Again at a nice price so that could be his Pricewise poke on the day. Paul Ryan thinks Arkle might be a bridge too far for Clopf. Doesn’t like Tidal Bay’s or Scotsirish jumping – even schools badly apparently. Kingy impressed by anything! Thinks Mahogany Blaise will give Noland most to do. Tom chips in again with Ring The Boss so maybe that’s could be his selection? Mike mentions that Irish horses will have problems getting to Cheltenham because of the forecast Tsunami…he must be on medication too! Sun Alliance next….
John Oaksey appears briefly on stage to accept a cheque for the IJF. He says Carruthers is well but thinks it’ll be the most formidable opposition he has faced. A question of wait and see he says. A draw now…not sure what chase comes first but back soon.
Just watched the Sizing Europe VT of last race…very very impressive. The more I see it the more I think this could be a serious horse. Whoops….you want the panel’s views not mine 🙂
Mick says Afsoun in good form and trained for the race but he can have an off day. Mick likes Katchit and thinks he is a live contender. He thought Sublimity was fat before the Cheltenham race this season so thinks he might take the beating if back to best. Mick thinks Sizing Europe will be found out as doesn’t like his jumping style. King says Katchit wasn’t at best in Bula. Will get closer to Osana this time. Vibes are good for Sublimity according to Paul Ryan so thinks major player. He likes Sizing Europe and Osana too plus mentions Katchit and Harchibald. Mr Ryan likes lots of horses in every race! Thinks unfair to blame Carberry for Harchibald losing races. Mick likes Harchi too. Ryan mentions yet another – De Valira and like this one too! Tom likes Osana best of all and thinks he’s been trained for race and will be difficult to catch.
Summary – when asked for one horse – (please note Paul)
Mick – Harchibald
Paul – Osana and Sublimity
King – Harchibald
Mike – Sizing Europe
Tom – Osana