Monday, March 09, 2015
Cheltenham Day 1 - Thoughts and Strategies
The first day is my favourite with the Supreme Novices, the Arkle and the Champion Hurdle to relish. This year it's all about Willie Mullins and his short-priced favourites for all three of these. I rarely back favourites, especially short-priced ones, so I shall be looking elsewhere. Paddy Power has encouraged this strategy by offering your money back on all losing bets if the favourites win in the Supreme and in the Arkle. So I'll be backing L'Ami Serge in the Supreme and Vibrato Valtat in the Arkle. The odds around Sizing John (33-1) are too good to resist so I'll also be having a saver on him in the Supreme - remember money back if Douvan wins.
The third race (2.40) is a three mile, one furlong handicap chase - a race type I would usually steer well clear of. But it's Cheltenham so I'll probably back Ned Stark because he's trained by the classy Alan King for the company that sponsors the race. These big-field handicap chases at Cheltenham generate serious attrition so even finishing in one is an achievement.
Next up is the Champion Hurdle - with the great Hurricane Fly relegated to a supporting role by most pundits. Too old, ground too fast, doesn't like Cheltenham are amongst the various reasons for his neglect. And of course Ruby Walsh has chosen his stable companion and hot favourite Faugheen. I'm looking elsewhere again. I feel Faugheen hasn't beaten much in his prep races and could be found out on the day. Jezki won it last year and thrives in the spring on good ground so I'm going for him at a generous 9-2. Also, Jessica Harrington is making encouraging noises.
The Mares Hurdle has been farmed by Willie Mullins for the past 5 years and this year he's got Annie Power whose at odds on (8/13) - prohibitive for most folk. Also, she hasn't raced since last May having been injured. I like the look of Nicky Henderson's Polly Peachum. She can be backed each way at 9-1.
The last two races are novice chases - not a medium for any serious betting. In the 4.40 there's a horse called Theatre Queen who's made a habit of refusing at the start, or at best taking off tardily. She's 33-1 and stays forever, when she does start, so I will risk a minor punt on the fickle jade.
In the last race (5.15) Thomas Crapper has the right kind of profile but then so do half the field. I will tempt fate and rely on him to get me out of the mire in which my previous bets have almost certainly deposited me.
Cheltenham is one of the few race meetings where the quality of the racing can compensate for the inevitable financial disappointments - to an extent.