With all the bookies now No Runner No Bet (you’ll get your money back if your horse doesn’t run), mainstream punters are arming themselves to the teeth with all the latest facts, stats, tips and information they can get their hands on in a desperate bid to make this be their year – their best yet, or simply the one where they don’t lose their bollocks (again!). Either way, fun will be had, and that’s the main thing, as brothers, mothers, squirrels and pissheads converge across the nation to shout at screens and crumple up pieces of paper in rage for a wonderful four-days of feckin’ bliss!
I posted a piece back in November with my Ante-Post Cheltenham betting picks, which went largely unnoticed, so I’m hoping there’s a bit better banter this time ‘round now that we’re all foaming at the mouth for the off on Tuesday. It’s interesting to note how many of the horses backed then are not listed in the declarations (money already down the swanny!) but the ones that are running all have their odds slashed since then so I’m hoping the early bird caught at least one feckin’ worm, preferably six!
Not just any auld worm!
I had originally planned to do an all-in-one ‘Mega-post’ thingy but quickly realised that that would take the guts of an entire day to churn out, which I simply can’t manage during the busiest week of the year, so I’ll just do these on a day-by-day basis, hopefully not getting too lazy to continue as the week progresses.
Good luck to ye all, have a blast and hopefully clean up – be sure to take these tips with a healthy pinch of salt, dose of scepticism and generally disbelief, much of the feedback from last year indicated that my tipping was a valuable source of enabling punters to scratch horses off their list, so I’m just happy to be of service in any way possible!
Cheltenham Day One – Tuesday, March 12th
Let the games begin..
13.30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The much-anticipated opener to each year’s festival, all eyes are on form here as only two of the last sixteen winners of this race have failed to win their previous outing before the event – seems a solid weeding strategy for trying to bag a winner from the off, although as I mentioned in the intro, many have come to use Lukey15 tipping as a weeding strategy in itself in recent times so I wouldn’t read too much into the stats! Another notable stat is the seven of the last eight winners were outside the top three favourites in the betting. Food for thought.
With My Tent Or Yours the heavy fave at time of writing at around 7/4 with most bookies, I’m keen to look farther afield in search of value. Jezki at 5’s and Champagne fever at 12’s stand out as serious contenders but I like the look of Willie Mullins’ nags Pique Sous and Mozoltov both currently trading at 16/1. There’s not much between them so a fiver each way on either (or both!) of them to open up the betting should get us off to a nice clean start – with my Ante-Post pick Rock Critic drifting out to 20s since that post I need to cover my arse a bit!
14.05 Arkle Chase
The ‘killer stat’ stat for this race is that eight of the last nine winners had finished in the first four in a novice hurdle in the previous year’s Cheltenham Festival. Not surprisingly, the two red-hot faves Simonsig (4/6) and Overturn (5/2) fit the bill and have a pretty strong edge over the rest of the field which include Nicky Henderson’s Captain Conan at 9s His Excellency at 33/1.
Henderson has trained four winners of this race, and it’s hard to lay Simonsig on his current form, but having watch Overturn come back from the dead at Naas a fortnight ago, I’m happy to wager on his stamina causing a minor upset to the here and get the Irish off the mark with a win.
14.40 JLT Specialty Handicap Chase
Has been a bit of a ‘meh’ in terms of build-up excitement in recent times but is usually where the JP McManus bandwagon hits full swing along with some tri-colour flying from steadily-getting-tipsy Irish racing fans in the background of the winner’s enclosure TV footage.
The hideous Leprechauns descend upon the Tattersalls
Competition looks tight this year and I’m actually quite looking forward to the race, which includes Our Mick as 6/1 favourite and The Package at 14s. I’m gonna go with last year’s winner Alfie Sherrin to edge ahead of a tight field and perk up the Irish booze brigade for what may well be a year to remember for us, or forget, if you’ve successfully sneaked your naggins of whisky in with you!
15.20 Champion Hurdle
As the centrepiece of Day One hits centre stage, most of us have already built up a sense of impending doom / joyous optimism (delete as appropriate) as to how their day, and ultimately, week is unfolding on the back of their early-stage failures or success. Always a belter of a race, this one promises not to disappoint (like last year!) with Hurricane Fly polarising opinion like that horrible Bovril alternative.. notable mentions go to pretty much the entire field, with some fine names including Zarkander (4/1), Grandouet (6/1), Cinders and Ashes (10/1) Binocular (10/1) and good auld Khyber Kim further afield at 40s.
I’m sticking with Ruby on the hurricane for this one, but if I had to shop around I’d probably go for Rock on Ruby, but without any real conviction. Paddy Power have a pretty savage offer on the race, saving their annual opening day special for the fourth race of the day as opposed to their usual first race special. It’s certainly worth the wait however, with Money Back on all losers if Hurricane Fly does the business, click below for details.
What I’d do is lump on Hurricane Fly and then put a few smaller bets on a couple of others, notably Rock on Ruby and Grandouet for a pretty-much nailed on guarantee of returns – if he wins, you’ve trebled you money (less what you’ve put on the others, obviously), and if he loses, there’s a pretty good chance your other selection comes in – let’s just hope some back marker doesn’t romp home after a he collision or something similarly catastrophic!. Choose wisely obviously, and ‘do the math’ as the yanks say, as it’s an offer not to be sniffed at!
16.00 Cross Country Chase
Two horses currently share the top of the betting as joint-favourites; Balthazar King and Enda Bolger’s Arabella Boy, both at 5s. If I had to choose between them, I’d go for Balthazar King if Richard Johnson’s at the helm, as the two have developed a fine partnership in the past twelve months since winning this race in 2012.
I wouldn’t be quick to write-off the field in this one, however, with 2011 champ Sizing Australia (12/1) and Freneys Well at 33s representing decent each-way value in my view. It’s unlikely a longshot will win this one, given that fourteen of the last sixteen winners have been within the bookies’ top three so I’m gonna stick with the King for the win, with an e/w punt on Freneys Well.
16.40 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle
One Word – Quevega!
(It’d be pretty terrible blogging if I left it at that, so I suppose I’ll add some filler..)
Delighted to have him at Evens, as he may well represent my only hope of salvation if all the above bets turn to shite! Currently at 8/15, I’d imagine this’ll be even shorter on the day.
Should something terrible happen this legendary monster of a horse, Une Artiste and Tarla would be my natural selections, based on form. I’m sorry though, I just haven’t bothered studying this field given my sheer sense of hubris on the back of this killer Ruby/Mullins/Quevega combo! Tricolours at the ready!
17.15 PLI Novices Handicap Chase
As tough a race to call as I can imagine over the entire week, it could realistically go to around twenty of this huge field, so take your pick! I’m opting for a familiar favourite Carlito Brigante at 7s in the hope that Ruby’s on him. Six of the last winners here have won no more than once over the fences, which simply serves to compound the predicament punters find themselves in over this one, seven-year-old also have the advantage, according to the history books. Read into that as you will, I’m going with a paltry each-way punt on White Star Line at 14s on the back of these revelations.
Looking forward to hearing your own tips, views and opinions on all-things-Cheltenham over the coming days, feel free to drop me a comment in praise, awe, rage or discontent over any of the things written above as you deem necessary.
Let’s bag a few winners!