Friday, March 20, 2020

Eclectic thoughts after Cheltenham 2020

This time last week Al Boum Photo had just retained the Cheltenham Gold Cup; it seems like half a lifetime ago.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there is currently no racing in Britain while an announcement from Boris Johnson this evening means that all betting shops are set to close until further notice.

Racing goes ahead in Ireland tomorrow; ITV4 will cover the first five races from Thurles.

Some very brief personal thoughts after Cheltenham...

Best finish of the meet - Samcro beating Melon a nose, Faugheen third, in the Marsh Novices' Chase.

The two that came to grief in the Supreme - Captain Guinness and Elixir D'Ainay - both appeared to be travelling well enough coming to the penultimate flight. Given that front-runner Asterion Forlonges had persistently jumped out to his right during the race, I'm still at a loss to explain why Mark Walsh presented Elixir D'Ainay at that flight in the way he did.

As Cathal Gahan notes in the Weekender, Sire Du Berlais won the Pertemps Network Final in a time nearly three seconds faster than Lisnagar Oscar recorded in winning the Stayers' Hurdle.

To focus on the ten handicap races, as in 2019, Britain won five Ireland five; Column Of Fire (trained by Gordon Elliott) looked a serious threat to all when coming to grief at the last in the Martin Pipe.

Last year 19% of Irish runners achieved a first three finish in handicaps; on initial inspection this year I think 17 runners (from 73 starters) achieved a first three finish which equates to a comparative figure of 23.29%.

Given that last year Irish runners achieved even better results in handicap races at the Aintree Festival, I was working on this cunning Baldrick-like plan for this year's meet...

Stay safe.

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