Monday, March 15, 2010

Cheltenham Festival 2010 - Tuesday

The waiting is nearly over... The first race of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, kicks off this year's extravaganza at 1.30 - listen for the roar as the starter lets them go. Over the years I've adopted a cautious approach on the first day and, on balance, it has proved the correct approach.

This year Dunguib will be sent off odds-on in the opener; his victory in last year's bumper was generally regarded as exceptional. Having said that, the last time he ran he didn't jump the hurdles particularly well. Those looking to oppose will have to consider Get Me Out Of Here who won the totesport Trophy in the manner of a very good horse - Oldrik, fifth in that race, franked the form with a battling second in the Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday. However GMOOH returned from that race with a nasty gash in the leg and will have missed some work. I've seen the odd word for David Pipe's Dan Breen at a price but this is a race I'll watch from the sidelines. Fiulin, a son of Galileo, is an interesting runner having been bought out of Marco Botti's yard for £280,000. He won a listed race on the Flat and also beat The Betchworth Kid so quotes of 150/1 about his chances are perhaps a little unkind.

The Arkle is a tough race and one I always avoid. For those braver than me, Somersby is the selection. If you fancy Captain Cee Bee, note that only two nine-year-olds have won this since the war and only one favourite in the last decade.

There are plenty with chances in the ultra-competitive William Hill Trophy. Alan King's Bensalem has a nice racing weight while Ferdy Murphy's New Alco is very talented but has been off the track a long time - his target is next month's Grand National. The tentative suggestion for those who can't resist is Character Building each-way.

This year's Champion Hurdle looks wide open - a case can be made for the majority of the twelve runners. Go Native sets the standard and will land the WBX Triple Crown (with the accompaying £1 million bonus likely to be of some interest to connections) if he wins here, having already taken the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. I'm avoiding Binocular and Solwhit as they've had an interrupted preparation and the three five-year-olds (Starluck, Zaynar and Jumbo Rio) as horses from that age bracket generally have a poor record in the race. Punjabi did this blog a favour last year at odds of 22/1 - he'll be a lot shorter tomorrow but I'm going to stick by him, with Khyber Kim a live threat. Should KK collect the spoils, I'd imagine Nicky Henderson will have mixed feelings as he used to handle that one...

In the Cross Country Chase I take Garde Champetre, ridden by Nina Carberry, to continue Enda Bolger's fine record in the race while the market tells us the finale is between Voler La Vedette and Quevega. Preference is for the former but I shall watch from the sidelines.

Before the first day, it's worth recalling - half the fun of horse racing is in the anticipation.

Good luck to one and all!


GeeDee said...

Mrs Tips has asked me to thank 'The Times' for the little pin-up of Ruby Walsh published in yesterday's paper. She has cut it out and stuck it up on the kitchen wall - should I be worried?

Anonymous said...

Something for Mrs. Tips??