Sunday, November 14, 2010

A quick round-up

Three taking performances from the three days of Cheltenham's Open meeting...

Friday: Cue Card looks the real deal, rated 156 by Timeform. Ladbrokes quote 3/1 about Colin Tizzard's charge for the Supreme and 16/1 for the Champion.

Saturday: Sam Winner proved aptly-named, taking the juvenile hurdle in emphatic fashion, with some well-fancied types well-beaten behind. Now 7/1 favourite for the Triumph.

Sunday: Ghizao, the outsider in a field of five, jumped impeccably to take the novice chase; now 12/1 favourite for the Arkle.

A couple of incidents from last Wednesday had the commentators' tongues wagging. Conditional jockey Christopher Timmons seemed to have a handicap hurdle at Bangor in the bag on Jeanery (4/1) but he eased his mount down and mistook where the winning post was positioned with the result he was done on the line by 5/1 shot Monsieur. Over at Huntingdon Medermit was sent off 1/5 favourite for a novice chase but he refused at the sixth; jockey Wayne Hutchinson said the horse had been spooked by a fence attendant.

These days it's only on very rare occasions that I take my ageing burnt fingers into a betting shop but last Friday morning I'd had a bit of stinker with work so at dinner time I popped into the local Ladbrokes just as a beginners' chase from Newcastle was on screen. It was run-of-the-mill fare but the odds-on favourite crashed out at the fifth which left the race at the mercy of second favourite Lord Larsson; that one drew clear from the home turn to win as he liked. Richie McGrath had been hard at work on Mr Syntax trying to close down the leader but the gelding made a very bad mistake four out and the jock did well to keep the partnership intact. That's how I saw it but this elderly punter, who had just invaded my personal space, started to slate the rider, bemoaning the fact that he wasn't even trying on the second and denouncing the performance as 'an absolute disgrace'. On occasions such as this I find distraction a useful tool - 'What price was that winner?' I enquired. 'Dunno' came the reply. At which point I made a quick exit.

Now, there's race-riding and there's writing - I know nothing about the former and wouldn't claim to know very much about the latter. David Pipe's stable jockey Tom Scudamore knows an awful lot about race-riding but his column, which started up again in last Thursday's Times, isn't always the easiest of reads. Still, Tom concluded this week's effort with a telling piece of advice he once received: 'Some of the horses will disappoint, some break even and some exceed all expectations. As long as you meet somewhere in the middle you're doing OK.'

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