Gold Cup Preview + Mid Point review
Day 1 and 2 Ponderings
No one is a bigger fan than I of Tony McCoy and I certainly don't like to criticise the 16 time Champion Jockey, but I have to say, in my honest opinion, he gave Binocular a shockingly bad ride in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.
He made the, frankly, amateurish mistake of racing one horse rather than the field. He was so intent on tracking Hurricane Fly that by the time he realised The Fly was the wrong one, the birds had flown. He had far too much ground to make up and, as a direct result, clouted the last and failed even to place.
I'm not convinced he'd have won had he been ridden closer to the pace but I'm damn sure he would have finished at least 2nd. Great jockey but a very, very poor ride.
I really don't know where to start with the tragic debacle of the Cross Country Chase. Both Scotsirish and Garde Champetre lost their lives needlessly. I've always thought that it's a farce of a race which has no place at the premier jumps meeting of the season. The tragedies on Tuesday have only confirmed that opinion.
The going on that Cross Country course was patently unsafe and I'm amazed that it wasn't picked up by the safety inspection teams or the trainers. Willie Mullins has gone right down in my estimation after his comment about having "no complaints about the ground." How many horses would have needed to be injured for him to think it unsuitable?
This was an entirely preventable tragedy and the tired old cliches really aren't good enough. I cringe when I hear commentators spouting about the horses "doing the thing they love" or that they "couldn't be better looked after." I'm sure the Romans said much the same thing about the gladiators. Would they feel it was alright to make such trite statements if a jockey had been killed? Those kind of justifications are simply not good enough
I love National Hunt racing, it has an irresistible draw for me and I'm no lily liberal in these matters but races like that make me very uncomfortable indeed. Uncomfortable enough to seriously wonder if the games worth the candle.
On to happier things.
After a shockingly bad first day for me on the betting front (Binocular unplaced, Montbazon unplaced), and the ludicrous end of Cotton Mill, my big bet in the 2nd race on Wednesday, I have to say I was very glad ( for that read relieved!) to see Finians Rainbow land the spoils in the Queen Mother.
It was my biggest bet of the festival and the race played out pretty much as I hoped it would. There was slight drama at the final fence but he comfortably polished off Sizing Europe going up the hill. I had to laugh when Henry de Bromhead said "who knows what would have happened if it wasn't for that (the final fence incident)" and Andrew Lynch said "the final fence cost him the race"
If it hadn't been for the final fence incident, Finians would have won even further. Anybody who thinks that Sizing Europe was more inconvenienced than Finians, needs to take another hard look at the race and then, maybe, get their eyes tested.
Tuesday wasn't a complete wash out for me though.
I must admit to being cheered enormously by the thought of Charlie brooks (The Louche of Lambourn) languishing in police cells somewhere after being arrested in relation to the phone hacking scandal. It was particularly pleasing after having read his Telegraph column in which he waxed lyrical about the festival being the highlight of his year.
Cheers for that Charlie - made my day!
Nothing could have pleased me more (except perhaps the arrest and imprisonment of Sam Whaley-Cohen)
The Make Your Betting Pay tipping league is galloping along nicely and we currently have a runaway leader, in the shape of Mark Shepherd who,as well as sitting atop our league, is in the top 200 players in the country.
Well done Mark!
It also speaks volumes for the betting knowledge of blog readers that our league is 22nd overall in the league of leagues. Well done to everybody.
All still to play for.
Readers of my earlier feature race previews will already know that I like Dynaste each way for the World Hurdle but I thought I had better pass on a piece of gossip I picked up yesterday.
Apparently MOURAD has had a long term problem with his feet which was fixed last week. The word I heard is that he is expected to be 20 lengths better than at the Festival last year. That being the case, he would be very hard to keep out of the frame. It remains to be seen if the effect is that dramatic, but I've had a small each way saver at 33/1.
I would love to be able to say I fancied KAUTO STAR to land his 3rd Gold Cup. It would be a fitting, crowning achievement to an already glittering career and I can't think of a horse who deserves it more.
Unfortunately, I can't.
I'm very wary of the Nicholl's runners at the moment and I'm pretty sure that they are still not right. So far he's had only one winner (trained at a satellite yard) and a second from a host of runners.
Taking that into account, along with the scare last week over the schooling fall, I'd want an awful lot bigger price than the 7/2 generally available about Kauto. At that price I'm a layer, I'm afraid.
I think LONG RUN is about right in the betting and if he would just drift a little more - say to 5/2 - I would have to back him. As things stand, I won't be, despite him being the most likely winner of the race.
MIDNIGHT CHASE is the horse that interests me most, as I mentioned in previous posts. I backed him a while ago at 16/1 and he's shortened considerably since then. He absolutely loves Cheltenham (5th in this last year and an all the way winner here since). He's got a fair amount to find obviously but I'm hopeful of a bold showing.
I also think BURTON PORT has a reasonable chance based on his fast closing 2nd to Long Run at Newbury last time. The extra distance should suit him down to the ground. Henderson will have had him very fit for his return that day but I still think he might strip a bit fitter for the run.
The only other one I will get involved on is SYNCHRONISED - particularly if there is any money for him in the morning. A straight value call for me.
Reasonable each way bet on MIDNIGHT CHASE at 12/1 with Paddy Power
Small each way bets on BURTON PORT (15/2 Skybet) and Synchronised (12/1 generally)
That's it from me today. Be lucky, whatever you are backing
PS Anyone thinking of plunging on Big Bucks today should think VERY HARD about the form of the Nicholls horses at the moment. I'm not saying he won't win. I just don't think that Nicholls's difficulties are being fully factored into his price.