Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Tipster Isn't Wearing Any Clothes

One of the things that I enjoy most about sport is that everyone has an opinion. In horseracing it is traditional to put your money where your mouth is; you back your opinions by placing bets, which is far better than arguing with colleagues by the water-cooler.

Or at least I think so. Those of you that followed my tip for What A Friend at Kempton last week might be forgiven for thinking that, like the fairytale emperor, this particular tipster is self-deceiving and deluded – he is not wearing any clothes. In addition to losing his shirt, he has lost his trousers, socks and pants; possibly even his marbles.

Well you might. But those of you that have taken my advice about Ballabriggs (who is likely to run at Kelso on Saturday) may be patting the betting slip in your back pocket and dreaming of the holiday you’ll take when he wins the Grand National next month. That’s the other thing I love about horseracing – the eternal optimism of punters.

If you come to the Cheltenham Festival Preview Night at Cartmel Racecourse next Thursday evening, 7th March, you’ll find no shortage of opinions or optimism. If you don’t like what top trainer Ferdy Murphy has to say about the Gold Cup, then you can always adopt the view of local trainer Jimmy Moffatt instead.

If you think that the form expert Marten Julian has gone off his rocker (and some of his theories can sound pretty wacky), then you might prefer to side with the straight-talking jockey Brian Harding.

All four of the panellists will have an opinion and the whole audience will be optimistic that they are right. Personally, I’m hoping that Ferdy will tell us that Divers is a certainty for the Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase, perhaps Poker De Sivola in the Cross-Country Chase too.

I’m hoping that Marten will have picked out another handicap snip like Salut Flo, the David Pipe trained steamer that he gave us all last year. Jimmy is the only one on the panel to have both ridden and trained a winner at the Festival and he was good enough to recommend Chief Dan George to everyone at 33/1 in 2010. Brian is new to us and has a tough act to follow - last year’s jockey-on-the-panel was Harry Haynes who subsequently steered home Attaglance in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle at 20/1.

You’ll hear theories, counter-theories, statistics and gossip. The question is: How do you sort the wheat from the chaff? Who should you listen to? Do all those tipsters know what they are talking about, or is it possible that one of them isn’t wearing any clothes?

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