Cheltenham Day One

Here we go everyone! Strap yourselves in, the festival is upon us! Get your money down, your TV's on or set to record and bring on the buzz! As always Tuesday is a cracking day with lots of competitive racing and top horses to choose from. Will the Mullins yard destroy the bookmakers satchels on day one? Has Ruby made the right choice? Will McCoy get a winner on the first day? All these questions yet no answer! Personally I think the Mullins yard will have a couple, you can read these below. The twitter gamble guys have opted for the following tomorrow :
@DazGilbert1 – NED STARK 1440
@Tonythetyke – HORIZONTAL SPEED 1715
@Fernando_RFC2 – DOUVAN 1330
@LiamKenniford – SEGO SUCCESS 1640
Here are my selections race by race.
Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle 1330
As ever what a great race to start the day. DOUVAN has been touted as a good thing and has been stronlgy supported and could be very good from a yard who have won the last two runnings. He may prove me wrong but I don't think he'll stay up the hill in a race that is usually as quick as this one is run at. Plus I think the ground may be too quick for him. L'AMI SERGE has the potential but has he got the solid form in the book, not for me! I'm opting for an unexposed type however, on QEWY who I feel has the ability to improve again. He's well bred and despite also not having much form on the better surface I loved the way he went about beating the field at Newbury last time when beating CARDINAL WALTER by 6 lengths. He has gone on to frank the form since. BOUVREUIL was back in third and he has a decent form line through RAYVIN BLACK who was just pipped in the Imperial Cup on Saturday. The ground is my main concern but I think he has rhe ability to win. Interestingly when asked to pick a horse that he would like to ride in the week Sam Twiston-Davies replied Qewy!
The Bandit's selection – QEWY (Unplaced = -£5.00) My Dad's selection – JOLLYALLAN (unplaced -£5.00)
Racing Post Arkle Chase 1405
If UN DE SCEAUX can jump around at his break neck speed he has to have a cracking chance and is a worthy favourite, odds on though? Not for me! I have to go against an odds on horse in a race like this and he does have a question mark against his jumping. JOSSES HILL was well touted but has flattered to deceive this year and VIBRATO VALTAT could be the main challenger to the favourite with sime really eye catching perfomances along the way. CLARCAM has done nothing wrong this year but was put in his place by the favourite in a small field last time. However, I'm opting for COURT MINSTREL, he has always been a very smart horse on better ground and he travels so smoothly through his races. He is two from two over the bigger jumps this year with good in the title. He has also won 3 times with good to soft ground. He has a good record fresh and I think he is a cracking each way chance tomorrow and possibly better.
The Bandit's selection – COURT MINSTREL (unplaced = -£5.00) My Dad's selection CLARCAM (unplaced -£5.00)
Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase 1440
This is a cracking handicap and there are loads in with a shout. Firstly THE DRUIDS NEPHEW has caught my eye a few times this year and he could be well handicapped. MENDIP EXPRESS has looked consistent again this year and should be thereabouts. However, I've opted for one of my preview horses GEVREY CHAMBERTIN (treble). I've always thought he has a race like this in him and despite being dropped in class last time he won well from tne front and the blinkers really helped. I'm hoping the same tactics on ground he'll enjoy will pay divident. He's been raised 9lbs for that success but he's still pretty well in compered to his old hurdle form. Watch out for LOST LEGEND staying on late at the end!
The Bandit's selection – GEVREY CHAMBERTIN (treble) (unplaced = -£5.00)
My Dad's selection – BLACK THUNDER (unplaced -£5.00)
Stan James Champion Hurdle 1520
For me I cant see past FAUGHEEN here. He's yet to really break sweat but is top class and will take this. I hope HURRICANE FLY runs well too, but for me Ruby has made the right choice and the Machine will fly home!
The Bandit's selection – FAUGHEEN (WON – 4/5 = £2.50) My Dad's selection – THE NEW ONE (unplaced -£5.00)
OLBG Mare's Hurdle 1600
Everyone is harping on about how good Annie Power is and how she will win this easy. I beg to differ, firstly she has to show she has overcome her injury against a class field and secondly I think she is better over further! My selection in this is one of my best bets of the week – POLLY PEACHUM. She has gone from strength to strength and is a different animal on decent ground. She can be forgiven her last run as the ground was too soft and she's been given time to come back. She has form here at this level and I think there is more to come from her. I'm really confident of a big run!
The Bandit's selection – POLLY PEACHUM (nap) (2nd 9-1 = £5.62)
My Dad's selection –
Toby Balding National Hunt Chase 1640
PERFECT GENTLEMAN (nb) is my selection here and one of the Mullins string who I think has a great chance. He looks like a stayer and should come on even more for this extra distance. He's shown he gets 3 miles well and has won on ground similar to this. He should jump well despite a blunder a couple of runs ago. If THEATRE QUEEN starts the race well he has a good chance based on how much ground he made up last time to finish fourth.
The Bandit's selection – PERFECT GENTLEMAN (nb) (4th – 10-1 = £6.25)
My Dad's selection –
Novices Handicap Chase 1715
A cracking race to finish the day with a good few of these having very strong chances. THOMAS CRAPPER is one of these and is potentially another horse well treated on his hurdle form.KELTUS has some solid form in the book and this step up could see the improvement come out of him. BOLD HENRY ran really well here in November but has since flopped, he could run well. However, I think STELLAR NOTION is the answer here. He ran a couple of cracking races earlier this season at Leicester and Kempton. His last run here was disappointing but that was on pretty soft ground and I'm willing to overlook that as he looks a smart horse.
The Bandit's selection – STELLAR NOTION (unplaced = -£5.00)
My Dad's selection –

Cheltenham Festival 2013 Day 1

It's like Christmas Eve, being served your first legal pint and your first kiss all rolled into one. The excitement, the trepidation, the sheer buzz is enough to hook you in for ever! Cheltenham is here again! I can almost hear the roar as the tapes go up for the Supreme tomorrow. Disappointingly, as always, I'm at work – but Sky+ is set and I can't wait!
I thought I'd kick off the blog with the memory of two Cheltenham heroes of last year that are tragically no longer with us……..RIP Campbell and Brindisi.
Last year at the Festival this blog produced some great results, which are below. I've had a few naps come in in the past few days and weeks and am hopeful of another good week, but it's Cheltenham, so who knows.
Balthazar King 11-2
Brindisi Breeze 7-1
Synchronised 8-1
Salsify 7-1

So, onto the action and the first day.

1.30 William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle

What a cracker to start the festival off again, although the field isn't as big as recent years. This could help MY TENT OR YOURS as favourite's have a terrible record in this. However, justified favourite he is after his demolition job last time. But I can't have him a that price. I have backed JEZKI (treble) (3rd – 5-1) all year and he is four from four over hurdles including 2 Grade 1's to boot. That is enough for me and with the covers on it will be testing and whilst this one needs pace, he also has form on soft ground and that may play to his strengths up the hill. I am also having an each way flutter on CHAMPAGNE FEVER (WON – 5-1) who won well last time, won the bumper here last year and Ruby has opted for him over DODGING BULLETS. To me that is significant enough seen as the Nicholls inmate has a superior rating.

2.05 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy

The race centres around the potential brilliance of SIMONSIG and you cannot argue with how impressive he is. I'm not sure really if anything at these level weights can beat him. OVERTURN hasn't won on soft ground since 2009 and he may use up his stamina with a too bold approach. So, my each way option for the race is MAJALA (unplaced) who has steadily improved all year and may well have defeated FAGO even if that one hadn't have fallen at Warwick. Any horse who gallops away up the Haydock straight on heavy as he did in defeating OHIO GOLD should relish the Cheltenham hill.

2.40 JLT Speciality Handicap Chase

One of the Festival's many trappy handicaps, but to be honest I love trying to find the winner of these. It is pretty wide open to be fair, and the stats lean towards something younger than 11 and rated no more than 143-ish.
I like the chances of THE PACKAGE, who has a decent record in this and now has a tongue tie fitted after disappointing last time. I have also backed HEY BIG SPENDER (PU) all year and he has the class and the form to win this and is huge at 33-1, so he's my each way option and even though he is rated 145 he is on a very dangerous mark considering his illustrious past. My win option in the race if I have have to select one though is TOUR DES CHAMPS (unplaced) he has youth on his side and whilst he has serious risks in terms of his jumping, boy he has a right chance if he jumps well. A mistake last time cost him dearly against ROCKY CREEK at Ascot. He has ran in and against some very good horses in the past and this may be his day!

3.20 Stam James Champion Hurdle

What a tactical affair this could be. I have won well with ZARKANDAR this year and been thoroughly impressed with his attitude and form. GRANDOUET has appeared to be a damn smart horse, but BRIDLE and MONKEY come to mind. ROCK ON RUBY has a real chance again and has done nothing wrong, but I have to go against all the doubters as I think HURRICANE FLY (nb) (WON – 15-8) will take this. Ruby and the stable are very bullish about his chances, with preperation being its best. With little pace in the race forecast I think Ruby will bring the Fly upsides at the last and kick him on.

4.00 Cross Country Chase – postponed

I don't really like or pay much attention to these races so am just looking at form briefly for this and suggest taking a chance with the French one, especially if the ground is tacky. So for me SACREE TIEPY is the selection.

4.40 OLBG Mares' Hurdle

QUEVEGA is going for a five timer in this and looking to equal GOLDEN MILLER's record and go down in Festival Folklore. Who would argue, supremely talented and unbeaten. So my money is each way and it goes on KENTFORD GREY LADY, she has been impressive this year and whilst three miles seems to have brought the best out of her, including a good third to REVE DE SIVOLA, she does however have the pace for this distance too. Whilst she has the same five pounds pull with QUEVEGA she is rated 8lbs better this year off 142 and that could take her closer than the four lengths she lost by last year. The negative is the form of the stable!

5.15 Rewards4Racing Novices Handicap

Again another really close affair. I have got it down to two in my opinion. You can't get away from the strength of HAZY TOM's form in his Warwick defeat of CANTLOW, who went on to defeat both DARE ME and OSCARA DARA since that defeat. He has always been highly regarded and rated by his trainer, and if he has the stamina for this trip he has a great chance, so I'm on him each way. OHIO GOLD could also go well at a big price and I may also back him if MAJALA runs well in the Arkle. My selection of the winner may make me look very stupid, however, I can't get away from the fact that COLOUR SQUADRON (nap) is a handicap snip on his hurdle form of last year. His jumping is sketchy, but judging on his last few runs I reckon the JP bookie bashing hat was played to ensure this very appealing handicap debut mark (139). Especially when you consider CAPTAIN CONAN, who beat him in last year's Tolworth by a short head is rated 152. On those figures, if he jumps, he wins!

In summary, bloody enjoy this first day and here are my selections in black and white. COME ON THE GREATEST SPORTING SPECTACLE ON EARTH!!

1.30 JEZKI (treble) (win) CHAMPAGNE FEVER (ew)

2.05 MAJALA (ew)


3.20 HURRICANE FLY (nb) (win)

4.00 SACREE TIEPY (win)


5.15 COLOUR SQUADRON (nap) (win) HAZY TOM (ew)