Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cheltenham Agonistes

Such hopes abandoned, such cups from lips dashed: that's Cheltenham for you. I love the first day, especially the Supreme Novices Hurdle (for future stars), and the Champion Hurdle (for established stars). I never back favourites so I'm always looking for good each way value for money.

In the first race I back Copper Bleu from the Philip Hobbs stable, more mature than most in the field having won point-to-points and just the kind to come up the hill past the more fancy bred flat horse types. He's good value at 16-1. He does nothing wrong, stays to the inside the whole way around and challenges for the lead coming to the last, but he's come too soon and is run out of it by one, two, three other horse, just losing third place by a head. Dear oh dear.

Next comes the Arkle Chase and I back Kalahari King to win at 10-1. He bides his time at the back of the field until two out and then he makes up a huge amount of ground to challenge Forpaddytheplasterer after the last - he makes up length after agonising length and the post arrives with him a short head to the bad. Shit.

Next comes the Champion Hurdle. All romantics meet the same fate sang Joni Mitchel and I really should have known better than to back Brave Inca with the ground so good - he's too old and needs heavy ground to be effective. The result is inevitable - a younger horse with a course and fast ground profile prevails. Stupidity.

I avoid the chases although fancied horses win both and concentrate of the Mares Hurdle - the last race, the getting out stakes. Alan King has a good record with staying hurdlers and I latch onto his Over Sixty as a good each way prospect at a fancy price - I back him at 33-1. You know the rest. He is up with the pace most of the way - loses position as they speed up two flights out but finishes strongly after the last. Fifty yards from the post he's in second place but is caught on the line by two others and finishes a tragic fourth - beaten by a head for third. Fuck me sideways.

But did I have fun?