A top-up to my Festival tips with Sam Thomas to be top jockey at 12/1 which is generally available. Sam has terrific prospects on Denman and Twist Magic plus will have the pick of Paul Nicholls horses after Ruby Walsh has decided his mount. OK, so he gets what could appear to be the second string but such is the strength in depth of the Ditcheat yard that he’ll have some terrific rides, especially in the handicaps. He is certainly not 12 times less likely to be top jockey than Ruby who is trading at around evens so this is definetely a value bet.
Great news this lunchtime regarding my selection for the Gold Cup, Exotic Dancer who went well in a crucial gallop this morning and remains on target for the big race. Exotic Dancer, ridden by Tony McCoy, who hopes to return to race riding next Saturday, worked up the grass gallops at Jackdaws Castle with stablemates Don’t Push It and Mountain. Owner Sir Robert Ogden’s racing manager Barry Simpson, said: ‘The horse has gone up the gallops and seems to be enjoying himself. He will keep to his normal routine and, if we get a good run through and there are no reactions, he will take his place in the Gold Cup line-up.’
For the second weekend in a row the racecourse are watering. It’s a very breezy morning with some cloud in the sky but also some sunshine.
As well as being the first of the big four bookmakers to sign up to Turf TV, this afternoon Coral beat Hills, Ladbrokes and the Tote in becoming the first to go NR-NB. Blue Square joined the party later in the afternoon.
The latest news on Exotic Dancer from Barry Simpson, Racing Manager for Sir Robert Ogden is ‘On a routine visit on Tuesday, it was found the horse was sore in his lumbar region.’ A pity that Jonjo O’Neill was not quite so forthcoming with his quote last night when he said the horse was ‘perfectly alright’! This obviously races serious doubts about Exotic Dancer’s participation in the big race. Let’s hope he makes it! At the very least it also shows very poor communication skills from the stable and connections.
BetFred have joined Bet 365 in offering the Non-runner, No bet concession on all races at the Festival.
Tony is back! At The Races have reported that AP McCoy will be fit to ride at the Festival. He was injured when falling from Arnold Layne in the Classi Chase at Warwick on 12 January. It will be great to see one of the best ever jockeys back in action. He will be on board my fancies Captain Cee Bee in the Supreme and Exotic Dancer in the Gold Cup.
Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham racecourse confirmed this afternoon that the racecourse is now being watered with a view to having going on the soft side of good for the Festival. If it’s dry in the few days before I think the Official Going is likely to be Good as they will stop watering at least 7 days before the meeting starts.