Monday, 9 March 2015

The Festival - Day 1

The Cheltenham Festival is probably the most anticipated and talked about race meeting in the UK - we certainly don't get this much hype about Royal Ascot.

Day 1 sees the prospect of 4 horses from the Willie Mullins stable going off as favs(Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power) and no doubt that quartet will form an accumulator for many people both here in the UK and in Ireland. Can this feat be pulled off ?...well you have to remember this is racing at its most competitive and although possible the chances are at least one will fail and this could happen as early as the first race.

1.30 The Supreme Novices Hurdle
I have said previously that ideally I like to have witnessed a horse run in a race that resembles in some way what they will face at Cheltenham. Most races at the festival are run at a fast pace and that leads me to my selection Qewy who in being an ex flat horse for John Oxx has that aspect already on board. I thought he ran a good trial at Newbury last time out when he quickened from the field in impressive fashion to win going away. John Ferguson seems to have a good squad of runners at his disposal this week and I think this is his best season so far in terms of winners.
I'm not overly convinced by what L'Ami Serge has done on the racecourse and Douvan will probably get more problems from his own stablemates. Alvisio Ville is one that could outrun his odds - he was well backed for the festival after he won at Leopardstown over Christmas and on the back of that he went off the short priced fav in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle, at the same track but he could only finish a labouring third behind Nichols Canyon (runs tmw) and Mullins sheepishly put it down to lack of experience. David Casey takes the ride with McCoy not willing to give him a second chance switching to Harry Fry's Jollyallan.

2.05 Arkle Trophy
Un De Sceaux is at short odds to take this and I'm not going anywhere near those in a Novice Chase on what is a tricky track jumping wise. Paul Nicholls has had 2 winners of the race but not sure Vibrato Valtat's jockey is up to the job(he may prove me wrong) as he may try and keep tabs on the fav and if he does he will run himself out. If the fav were to fall or fail for some reason, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, it could leave the way open for something coming off the pace and David Pipe could get a bigger price winner of the race than he did last season with Sail By The Sea who is an unknown quantity, however it's not a race for me.

2.40 Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase
I have already backed Pendra and Ned Stark for this at decent odds and hopefully one or the other can win. The sponsors of the race sponsor Alan Kings yard so it would be fitting if Ned Stark won and King has been talking him up for a while in his Weekender column. J P McManus seems to like winning this race and that was the main reason I went for Pendra who ran well at the festival last year which is always a bonus. He has also had a wind op since he last ran and he seems to have been put away for this race.

3.20 The Champion Hurdle
I haven't really got anything in mind for this so it's a race I will just watch with a cuppa ! and I will probably have another one for the Mares Hurdle at 4.00 as it's a race that doesn't inspire me.

4.40 National Hunt Chase
This is more like it a 4m Novice Amateur race ! - Having studied were McManus might run his horses it wasn't hard to work out Cause Of Causes would be running in this as it was the owners only declaration and therefore I took the early odds for him. He ran well at the festival last year which puts him in the picture and his trainer has been doing increasingly well here. Very Wood's inclusion in the field was a surprise but that's probably more down to the owners placement of there vast array of runners at the meeting. Alan King has a good record in this so Sego Success should be thereabouts at the finish as will Cogry who could well be a Grand National contender next season.

5.15 Novices Handicap Chase
This is another race where I am going for the McManus runner in Bold Henry. He won the Paddy Power going away here in November after having made errors early on and no doubt his trainer will have him spot on for this.

As usual a difficult days racing and if you get one winner you are doing well.

Good Luck !

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