Friday, 6 March 2015

And Our Experts Say...

I've got some sheets of paper here with the names of all the winners, for the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, printed in plain black type. Every race - no exceptions.

There's just one problem: There are about 1,000 other names on the paper too, because the sheets have been removed from the entries-section of The Racing Post. Following the 5-day entry stages, the lists of names for Tuesday and Wednesday are considerably shorter than for Thursday and Friday, which helps, although there are still 110 horses listed under the title of the Coral Cup.

Fortunately we can rely on the services of John Sexton, Chairman of our panel of experts at the Star Sports Preview Night on Thursday evening, who tells me that he has never backed the winner of the Coral Cup - so it's his turn. He is confident that Dawalan will do the business. But... ahem, it seems that Dawalan is not one of the names left following the 5-day entry stage. Perhaps he will win the Pertemps Hurdle instead?

Marten Julian passed on a good word for Activial, in the Coral Cup, who has been rising up the weights having been placed in good races - but thought likely to improve for the increased trip. Marten is also keen that we should keep an eye out for Goodwood Mirage and Pearl Swan, both of whom are likely to turn up at a big price in a handicap hurdle soon.

Marten enjoys telling us about 33-1 shots that are likely to run well, possibly without winning. He likes Gods Own in the Arkle, Cole Harden in the World Hurdle, Western Rules in the Bumper, Boston Bob in the Gold Cup and Vosne Romanee in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle.

I'm glad Marten favours the chances of Vosne Romanee because this is the horse who won our juvenile race at Cartmel in August. If he follows in the hoof-prints of Countrywide Flame, who also became a Cheltenham Festival winner, the race could be listed within a year or two.

Marten gave us several other hot pieces of information too - but you really should have been there on the night. You can still find out what he thinks - by purchasing his excellent Cheltenham Bulletin book. Look it up on-line.

Mark Howard also writes a Cheltenham book, which is out any day now, so I don't know what it says yet. But he highlighted the chances of Alvisio Ville in the opening race of the Festival, who he believes could be ridden by Tony McCoy. The champion jockey will have the final race of the Festival named after him this year and whatever he rides, possible Ned Buntline, is likely to start a short priced favourite.

Apart from Mark, there wasn't much enthusiasm for Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle - no matter how much Terry from Star Sports bookmakers plugged their special offer of 11/8. I'm sure the Gentlemen's bookmaker is also a very generous bookmaker. Lucy Alexander felt that he could be a bit novice in his jumping and preferred the reigning champ Jezki. Jimmy Moffatt thinks Hurricane Fly will win, while John Sexton mentioned The New One. Marten didn't say who would win, but fancies Arctic Fire for a place.

Jimmy nominated Sire De Grugy as his tip of the meeting, while Lucy agreed that he was top of her list for the Champion Chase. Mark liked Champagne Fever and Marten fancies Special Tiara - but only for a place.

Ma Filleule was Mark Howards selection of the meeting - and Lucy had the same horse at the top of her list for the Ryanair Chase, all of which makes me think that Lucy might be a great punter if she weren't a jockey.

There were no unanimous selections for any of the races, although Annie Power came pretty close - only missing out because Marten was looking for each-way alternatives such as Carole's Spirit.

Moon Racer, from David Pipe's yard, was a popular selection in the Bumper while the Gold Cup is likely to go to Many Clouds, Holywell, Djakadam or Boston Bob, with Sam Winner having place chances at a big price.

Good Luck!

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