Showing posts from March, 2011

Festival cold turkey

Climbing off the Festival crazy train doesn’t mean I’m back to earth quite yet. Or that I’m done with funfair-ride metaphors. Just like blinking back into daylight after a twist on Disneyland’s Aerosmith Rock n Rollercoaster (the chair ride at Alton Towers wasn’t quite the imagery I was looking for…), re-acclimatisation is needed. The head has to stop spinning and the brain needs to recognise its surroundings. The sun was out on a beautiful post-Gold Cup Saturday morning. Time to pause for breath. For me, the relative success of a festival is judged by the interplay of a number of factors across the full four days: the ebb and flow of financial fortunes, the heart-stopping spectacle of the racing in the championship events, the mouth-watering illumination of potential in the novice events… and of course, the craic, the banter, and the company. Balancing all those criteria, I’ve never had a bad one. And this year was up there with the best. On the wider stage, however, I r

Champion Chase Day

Dank, grey, impenetrable. Never mind the weather. This was my mood today after the Champion Chase. A pall of low cloud hanging over Prestbury Park was obscuring Cleeve Hill and cloaking everything in cold mist. Cue clunky similie…. ! We were only two today. Dad’s leg is playing up and he’s decided against putting it through the rigours of another circuit of the racecouse. He’s sportingly driven me and Bruv over here through fog and rain, and will return to watch the action back at our Stow nerve centre. Betfair Biggles flying in Approaching the track from the town centre is a very different experience to the walk through car parks from the north yesterday. Then we wove through endless Range Rovers tail-gate picnics of champers and smoked salmon, hosted by country couples wearing enough acreage of tweed and corduroy to carpet the home straight. Today, we dodge groups of lairy pint-pot screamers, fancy-dress debs and busking children (I kid you not). Bruv was unable to resist ac

First Day Fever

The first day at the Festival is the best. Four days of fine racing lie ahead and the expectancy and optimism has not yet been punctured. It is a perfect scenario.   Alastair Down in this morning’s Racing Post captures the mood perfectly: “Over the next four days the tumult will build to a series of spectacular crescendos…..for sheer sustained ferocity of competition coupled with unbridled emotion, there isn’t a sport that can get within hailing distance of this cherished week”. Fills you up doesn’t it? We are up and about early. There are some last minute additions to opening day portfolios. Bruv is jabbering away about bets that can only hint at the chaos going on inside his brain. “If Cue Card wins the first, well that’s the key and sets everything up. And menorah. Just can’t see him out of the first three. I can see Banjaxed Girl bolting early and leading them all a merry dance. Need to get ‘em in a combination.” These are classic signs of Festival Virgin Rambling. I know becau

Festival Preface

We’ve been settling in to our base deep in the Cotswolds, readying ourselves for the onslaught tomorrow. Bruv has been hard at work, poring over the Racing Post to construct elaborate each-way Lucky 15s and accumulators.  Our Festival bunker is in the hamlet of Maugersbury, tacked on to a spur of Stow on the Wold, overlooking gentle hills and wooded valleys. We have wi-fi, which is a pre-requisite these days. Bruv was checking the decs earlier and says “Ooh, Sedgefield tomorrow. I’ll just have a look. “Sedgefield!” I decry. “On the eve of the very greatest jumps meeting in the World, you are checking out sellers at Sedgefield?” “There’s some good racing at Sedgefield, I’ll have you know”, Dad pipes up. “On a par with Catterick.” Hmm. Damning with faint praise as far as I'm concerned.   Stow is splendid. Handsome soft Cotswold stone buildings, pretty shops, fine pubs and restaurants. Looks like we’ll struggle for a greasy spoon first thing tomorrow! The town is enduring an invasi

Towcesting a birthday

I’ve mentioned my mate GC and his 50 th birthday in a previous post.  The birthday present was to be delivered separately and later. When the time came, we left the precise details a little hazy. His instructions were clear: to arrive at our house (accompanied by the fragrant Mrs GC – Bex - who was in the know), attired in smart casual, prepared for the elements, no passport needed, and packing swimming trunks, just in case. The budgie smugglers were, of course, a complete red-herring (now there’s an image to play with), but would GC know that? Subtle, eh? Much infantile mirth was to be had at GC’s expense about the likely birthday treat in store. This, er, hilariously, ranged from minding our girls for a day, to minding their Granny. The girls were with us and were to be collected by Granny. It has to be said that Granny is fearless. In her 80 th year she has tried her hand at both canoeing and horse-riding for the first time. So GC was quite warming to the idea of accompanying Gra

Festival ante-post update

Two weeks to go before the action rolls into Cheltenham town. Time to assess damage and report progress on the ante-post portfolio. Supreme I’m a virgin Supreme winner. I know not the sweet pleasure of bagging the festival opener. And February hasn’t been kind to my bedpost notching chances. Megastar fluffed his lines in an easy 2 mile novice hurdle at Sandown. I’m discounting his Supreme chances on the basis of that form, even if he does show up at Cheltenham. He’s clearly a talented animal and will go much better on good ground. But I can’t see that he’s done enough this season to justify any more faith. Almost the same can be said for my other punt in this race, Hidden Universe.  Stepped up in grade and trip last month, he ran well ‘til emptying on the home straight when beaten into 4 th by the hugely impressive Oscars Well. Zaidpour stayed on for a laboured 2 nd and I can’t see him being aimed at this race now.  I’d be more confident of HU’s chances over an even 2 miles, but t