Sunday, March 08, 2009

The final countdown...

Channel Four's racing coverage on Saturday was liberally interspersed with visits to Cheltenham and impromptu weather forecasts. At present the going on both courses is described as good to soft, good in places but a significant amount of rain is expected Monday evening / early Tuesday morning. If the rain arrives, the going on the first day could well be changed to soft. The advice from most pundits is if you haven't had a bet yet, you're better off waiting till the day.

A couple of weeks back I put up a few Festival fancies, so I thought it only fair to give an update in light of recent developments and the fact that rain is expected.

Arkle: Kalahari King is unlikely to get his ground and is discounted. Forpadydeplasterer will but this year's Arkle is looking increasingly hard to call.
Champion Hurdle: Binocular looks the class act. About two weeks ago Nicky Henderson indicated his charge had been held up in his work by the cold snap. Since then the trainer has said he has the horse where he wants him. As an each-way play against the favourite I don't think there's much between Osana and Celestial Halo - I'll stick with Osana. Connections have toyed with fitting blinkers to Katchit but decided against. In yesterday's Racing Post David Ashworth, reporting from a Festival preview evening in London , quoted Choc Thornton: " will be a minor miracle if Katchit is in the first four..."
Champion Chase: Still think Briareus each-way will be my bet on the day.
RSA Chase: I'm dithering about What A Friend. Ruby has chosen Cooldine - another quote at the aforementioned Festival preview evening, this time from John Francome: "Ruby Walsh told me that Cooldine was a much better horse than What A Friend."
World Hurdle: Kasbah Bliss looks solid; Punchestowns and/or Big Buck's appear, to use a phrase I've heard several times this weekend, 'an each-way bet to nothing'.
Triumph Hurdle: Still like Starluck and Walkon with preference for the former.
Gold Cup: Haven't hedged with Neptune and at this stage not in a rush to do so.

A couple more Festival snippets for you... Paddy Power will return losing win and each-way singles on the opening race if Cousin Vinny collects the spoils; I haven't done the work on that race but Torphichen is worth a second look. A lot of the value has been snapped up about Whiteoak in the Champion after the horse was recommended on a telephone tipster line. I'm still half tempted by Ladbrokes 20/1; a mare hasn't won the Champion Hurdle for fifteen years - Flakey Dove in 1994. If ever you were in doubt that the Festival was about selling, then a look at The Festival magazine (sent out free to ticketholders and given away with today's RP) should put your mind at rest...

Back to Sandown on Saturday... The phrase 'our very own' was used any number of times to describe Channel Four presenter Jim McGrath whose Fresh Air Amd Fun took the three mile handicap chase. The irony in it all was that winning jockey Tony McCoy had 'Timeform' emblazoned prominently on his silks yet Jim McGrath took the decision to leave the organisation at the beginning of the year.

Finally, a few football facts to finish off with. The Damned United is set to go on general release at cinemas on March 27th; the film, based on David Peace's novel, tells of Brian Clough's forty four day reign as manager of Leeds United. Son Nigel, currently manager at Derby County, won't be attending the premiere - Saturday's Times quotes Nigel as saying 'I don't want to see the film.' Fair enough. Last week Glasgow Celtic stuck seven past hapless St Mirren in the Scottish Premier League so the 8/1 bookmakers offered about St Mirren taking their revenge a week later didn't look particularly generous. The St Mirren players had different ideas though and upset the odds by beating the current champions 1-0 in the Scottish Cup. Football, eh? To conclude, here's a snip from Paul Merson's sixty second interiew in Saturday's Times:
'What's the most expensive thing you've bought?
A £50,000 straight forecast on the horses. It didn't come in.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Update on the Andy Murray situation: tests have shown that he does not have glandular fever, but is still unwell.