Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Post festival flat spot

Every season around this time, I free-wheel out of the Cheltenham Festival mayhem like Lance Armstrong down the Alpe D'Huez, before gently coming to rest in a flat spot wider than the Nevada Salt Lakes. Becalmed in the doldrums in between the festival, Aintree and the start of the flat season proper. No mans land.

This usually means it's time to over-analyse my festival punting.


Surprisingly, the first batch of Cheltenham ante-posts published here in January stood up reasonably well. This is not always the case. Not that they got off to a flyer on the first day. Silverburn never made it to the Arkle, so that long shot hope was dead long before the tapes went up: but maybe I can take crumb of a moral victory from the fact that he ran in the SunAlliance chase over a mile further AND PATENTLY DID NOT STAY! Ergo, he should have turned up in the Arkle! Marodima, from the same Paul Nicholls stable did turn up, though one would have been hard pushed to notice. He ran very freely in the early stages and went out like a light. Amaretto Rose was retired to brood mare duties before the festival after a single very below par run in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton behind eventual Champion Hurdler Katchit. This bet proved to be a second-guess too far.


The bets for Wednesday showed a little more promise. Trafford Lad was a game third in the renamed SunAlliance Hurdle (now the Ballymore), but backing Lead On for the Sun Alliance Chase proved to be a mistake. I had him down as a three-miler, and his trainer Philip Hobbs begged to differ! He was campaigned over 2 1/2 miles and never really had this race on his agenda. As it happened he jumped pretty poorly in the Scilly Isles novice chase, a recognised festival trial, and would have struggled to make his mark.


So where are those ante-post successes? Nothing on Thursday. Friday was pay day though. Nenuphar Collonges proved to be my best bet of the festival, particularly as I topped up at the still-attractive prices a couple of days before the race. After Black Jack Ketchum and Wichita Lineman in previous years, the Spa Hurdle is fast becoming my most successfully punted race at the Festival.



Subsequent ante-posts had a distinctly mixed flavour. I seemed to do much better on place bets this year than in other years. Snap Tie broke my duck in the Supreme when he stayed on for 3rd, but this is the festival curtain-raiser and I'm desperate to win it and not to be bleedin' bridesmaid. I also got place returns on Junior (Coral Cup - well pleased with that) and Kazal (World Hurdle); but shocking ante-posts on Special Envoy (flattered to deceive in the Autumn), Harchibald (primadonna), Ring The Boss (inexperienced), Twist Magic (hates the track) and Kicking King (sentimental bet) crashed and burned big time. 


This pegged pegged me back to a modest overall profit for the festival, taking into account day of race and other assorted bets (such as an outrageous Lucky 15 that would have grabbed shed loads had it come in and was worth the stake simply for the ridiculous grin that adorned my chops as I struck this ridiculous bet!). Ultimately, I'll settle for that.

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