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 –
 
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Cheltenham Day One

It is here at last! The greatest week on Earth! Or so I think anyway! Time to sit back and watch a feast of racing over the next few days that will make you yearn for more once it's over! Whatever happens this week, lets hope all the horses return safe, jockeys too and we have a festival that will be talked about for years to come.
 
On to my selections :
 
Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle

What a race this is to kick the Festival off. I love this race as it signals the begininig of the week but it's also a bloody tough race to call the winner of. There are several of these that have really good chances. GILGAMBOA is an improver and he won the big Irish Handicap the other week and comes here as a horse that could really be anything, I'm not sure the ground will paly to his strengths though. VANITEUX has always been touted as a good thing but the thing that sticks in my mind is his defeat by AMORE ALATO, a reproduction of that would see him well beaten. I've backed WILDE BLUE YONDER every race this year and if he stays on four legs he has an each way sneak. VAUTOUR comes here with obvious credentials and looked good last time when defeated The Tullow Tank in the same race CHAMPAGNE FEVER won last year. My selection though has to be IRVING, he has been nothing but impressive in each race and looked very good last time when easing away with the race and having AMORE ALATO a distant second. He has form on better ground in Germany and for me looks to be a very decent horse. Hope he gets me off to a good start.
 
SELECTION – IRVING (nb) (unplaced)
DAD'S SELECTION – WICKLOW BRAVE (unplaced)

Racing Post Arkle Chase

God I love this race as well! I have had a few goods wins too, including CONTRABAND and of course who can forget the mighty TIDAL BAY trouncing NOLAND and the others in 2008. This is a tight little contest and a lot can be made for all the leading contenders. VALDEZ has impressed me with every run and he could run a big race at a decent price, he will surely go on to bigger things no matter what happens. We all saw what CHAMPAGNE FEVER did last year although his Boxing Day defeat sits badly with me and that's why I have written off his chances. For me TRIFOLIUM is the best Irish contender. He beat FELIX YONGER last time, on that horse's preferred ground and at level weights after previously being beaten by him giving him 4lbs. My selection also finished second behind DEFY LOGIC when they both beat CHAMPAGNE FEVER. DODGING BULLETS could run a big race with his Chletenham form in mind and he has really improved since the operation he had on his palate. I still havent mentioned ROCK ON RUBY who brings the best hurdle form to the table!! What a race, sit back and enjoy!
 
SELECTION – TRIFOLIUM (nap) (3rd – 11-4)
DAD'S SELECTION – ROCK ON RUBY (unplaced)
Baylis and Harding Handicap Chase

Jesus wept! This is a right old handicap with several horses close to my heart! This is what NH racing is all about, finding the winning horse in a race like this!
HOLYWELL, my star horse of last year, that I napped at 25-1 to win the Pertemps goes. I've got to put a little on him but I don't think he has the expereicne of a big, classy chase like this yet. He's getting better but will be one for next season for me. MA FILLEULE I backed last time when she won at Kempton, she is a decent horse and was due a race like that, however a 6lb rise and the slightly better grpound put me off her. Over recent years horses aged 8 or 7 have had a great record in this, and also horses with a light weight! I'm hoping my horse beats the weight voodoo. My selection is one of the horses I follow and for me two things make me opt for him. The better ground and a great record when fresh. My selection is PACHA DU POLDER, he's always had a bit of class, and finally showed it when winning at Newbury last year. He has rran over 3 miles before and that was on soft ground which he hated and he finished second. The extra distance I think will improve him further. He will bowl along near the front and with being fresh will be up with the pace and will hopefully stay up the hill. 33-1 is huge and Paul Nicholls reported him to have had an eye catching racecourse gallop! He could be my big handicap winner this year!
 
SELECTION – PACHA DU POLDER (unplaced)
DAD'S SELECTION – HOLYWELL (WON 10-1)
 
Stan James Champion Hurdle

These races just keep getting better and better! Right, I may get egg on my face but I'm saying the Fly will lose! Firstly no 10 year old has won this race since SEA PIGEON in 1980, secondly I think THE NEW ONE, MELODIC RENDEZVOUS and MYTENTORYOURS will run him out of it. I would be placing all of my money on MELODIC RENDEZVOUS if the ground were softer and despite his jockey claiming it won't matter, I think it will, especially when the other contenders will enjoy it more! MYTENTORYOURS is my selection and I thought he was impressive when beating THE NEW ONE at Kempton and despite everyone saying TNO will be better I don't think he will reverse the placings. I even think he may take this race after the last flight and up the run in, coming off the bridle neaer the finish! Although, that may be a fairytale! Regardless though it will be a cracker and I can't wait!
 
SELECTION – MYTENTORYOURS (2nd – 3-1)
DAD'S SELECTION – THE NEW ONE (3rd – 100/30)

OLBG Mares Hurdle

QUEVEGA has made a mockery of this over the past few years and there is strong evidence she may do it again! However, I'm going for an upset. HIGHLAND RETREAT may have what it takes to finally knock her off her perch! She has done nothing wrong this year and while she has not knocked any trees down she has gone about her business in a very classy way. Not much more to be said, QUEVEGA is the best mare on show but she may get turned over, hopefully by my selection.
 
SELECTION – HIGHLAND RETREAT (unplaced)
 
Terry Biddlecombe Amateur Rider Chase

Old Terry will be looking down ansd be honoured to have this race named afer him and I'm sure the amateurs will give him a good show! If the ground were softer I would be all over MERLIN'S WISH, unfortunately I think it's dried out too much for him. My selection is BEEVES he gave SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR 5lbs at Aintree in October for a 1/2 length defeat and then finished a gallant second to ELY BROWN at Leicester in December. He is now 8lbs lower in the ratings than that 1/2 length defeat and with better ground and level weights, he may well run a cracker!
 
SELECTION – BEEVES (unplaced)

Rewards4Racing Novice Chase

The first comes to a close with another cracker! PENDRA will probably be all the rage and rightly so judged on previous form. ERICHT has been put up as a big chance for the Henderson team by a few shrewdies. However, the way AHYAKNOWYERSELF won a Market Rasen in the summer really caught my eye, he then ran well in behind MELODIC RENDEZVOUS at Wincanton and that is smart form. He has doen pretty well over the bigger obstacles and he is effectively 5lb well in judged on his last suucess when beaing BIN END at Leicester. He's my main option in the race but I also have to have a little on GRANDADS HORSE, who will enjoy the better ground and you cannot rule out BABY MIX either.
 
SELECTION – AHYAKNOWYERSELF (4th – 33-1)
 

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)

2.40 TOUR DES CHAMPS (win) HEY BIG SPENDER (ew)

3.20 HURRICANE FLY (nb) (win)

4.00 SACREE TIEPY (win)

4.40 KENTFORD GREY LADY (ew)

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