The Cheltenham Festival is seven weeks away and I’d like to give you some shrewd advice as to which horses to back now at a big ante-post price. I expect you’d like that too.
isn’t going to happen; not this week anyway. You see, a few years ago a very
dear friend of mine gave me a dreadful gift – it was a little black book in
which to record all of my bets. Of course I don’t actually write all of my
bets in its pages, that would be too depressing. Instead, I just put in the
major ones, the really important ones, I’m talking about the ones that I strike
ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
been taking a look through the pages and it’s become obvious that my ante-post
plunges are not what they could be. Last year I was very enthusiastic about
Silviniaco Conti in the Gold Cup, backing him at 7/2 several weeks beforehand. He started half a point
bigger at 4/1 and fell at the third last fence.
2012 the horse that I most wanted to win was Wishfull Thinking, who I backed in advance at
various prices for the Champion Chase. He started at 16/1 and fell at the
back to 2011, I had been confident about the chances of Wishfull Thinking in
the RSA Novices Chase. I backed him at 20/1 and instead he ran in the
Jewson over half a mile shorter distance. Fortunately I’d had a small saver on Quel
Esprit at 12/1. He started at the much bigger odds of 20/1 on the day and was actually in
front at the third last fence... when he also fell. Such is the record of my
ante-post Cheltenham selections, I suspect that if I were to tip a Festival
runner to you now, there’s a fair chance they wouldn’t be able to find a jockey
to ride it.
if you can wait until 6th March, we’ll have a panel of experts at
the Cartmel Grandstand to give you some proper advice. In recent years they’ve
napped some cracking winners including: Al Ferof (10/1), Divers (10/1) and Chief
Dan George (33/1). Tickets for the Cheltenham Festival Preview Night cost just
£15 and are available from the racecourse office now. The price includes a light supper.
the meantime, the Festival clues will keep on coming over the next four weeks
as most of the main protagonists have their final preparatory outings. The last
fixture at Cheltenham racecourse before the Festival is this weekend and
they’ll be a few runners getting in a bit of course practice including my old
favourites Wishfull Thinking (2½ mile chase) and Knockara Beau
who could face the returning Staying Hurdle Champion Big Bucks and At
Fishers Cross in the Cleeve Hurdle.
Nicholls’ improving chaser Unioniste seems likely to miss the Argento
Chase, a recognised Gold Cup trial at Cheltenham, in favour of the main handicap
chase at Doncaster. He’ll have to defy top weight, but is the selection for this