Thursday, 17 March 2016

Cheltenham 2016 – Up for the cup

The thrills keep coming. Another wonderful day at Prestbury Park. I don’t know whether Thistlecrack didn’t impress just as much as Vautour. Scintillating performances, the both of them. A joy to watch. Hard to disagree with Rich Ricci’s perplexed comments in the post race interview that suggested he remained baffled about Vautour not running in the Gold Cup. When Mullins revealed that Vautour’s ‘poor’ work was alongside Djakadam, that one was quickly backed in to favouritism for the race. Thistlecrack was quoted at 10/1 for the 2017 renewal, such was the power and poise of his performance.

On a personal level, this was an average punting day that saw me trying to give back plenty of the hard won profit of the first 14 races. The starter didn’t help me. Snapping up the tapes whilst Zabana was side on ensured jockey Davey Russell was dumped on the ground. He was furious. I was despondent. But then Russell was aboard the winner of the next – the Pertemps Final. Mine was only 2nd.

The final day punts are looking like this, with a few blanks to be filled in during what will be a frenetic stretch back in the Barley Mow:

Triumph

Sceau Royal, 16/1, 0.5pt win (ante-post)
Zubayr, 16/1, 0.5pt win (ante-post)

Decent ante-post bets, but this is a really open renewal and I couldn’t be over-confident about either of them.

County Hurdle

Blue Hell, 10/1, 1pt win

Gutted that Desoto County has come out of this. I really fancied him.  Blue Hell is hard to ignore after his defeat of Diamond King. Even though that was on bad ground, there is some form on sounder surfaces from France (although I was not sure that such a situation even existed on that side of the Channel).

Albert Bartlett

Bleu Et Rouge, 20/1 1.5pts e-w (ante-post)

Backed after he beat Tombstone in the Deloitte Hurdle in February, but only once there had been a hint from Mullins that the horse would be stepped up. In fact the master of Clossuton is seven-handed here. I’m happy with the price and the relative chances of my pick. I think he’s improving rapidly. This now looks a very tough race though, and one I am anticipating with relish. Shantou Village who has very strong form on good ground has joined Barters Hill at the head of the market. I have him in a covering combi with Thistlecrack and Don Poli.

Gold Cup

Don Cossack, 5/1, 3pts win (ante-post)
O’Faolains Boy, 33/1, 0.5pt e-w (antepost)

I’ve blogged elsewhere about the chances of Don Cossack. I remain bullish. O’Faolains Boy has next to no chance after two shockers since I plunged into the ante-post markets on the back of a good win over Sausalito Sunrise in December. No Vautour, of course, but this will still be a real spectacle. Licking my lips.

Foxhunters

No bet yet.  

Martin Pipe Conditionals Hurdle

No bet yet

Grand Annual

Red Spinner, 20/1 0.5pt e-w
Croco Bay, 20/1 0.5pt e-w

Nightmare race. Two at big prices against the field: one solid handicapper with form in this race off 2lb lower (Croco Bay); and one improver who needs to put a below par run last time out behind him (Red Spinner).



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