It has arrived. Most of the talking is done except for the final previews and selections. Cheltenham is the holy grail for most National Hunt racing enthusiasts and what a week is in prospect.

The Spring has arrived with the sun beaming down on the Costwolds and as usual the ground will be riding at worst, good to soft. In fact, I predict it will quicken up appreciably as the week unfolds and I am surprised that Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson called for no watering to be done. I would be concerned on soundness issues if the clerk of the course does not water as it could become lightning fast if the drying weather continues. Cheltenham drains too well , its saucer effect creates a huge drying phenomenon that is not seen at hardly any other track so I would urge caution and hope that not too many horses will lose their lives.

I am sure a lot of you are now familiar with the fact that our team purchased Irving who is favourite in the opener and it is very satisfying for us that such a cheap buy is market leader. It is what dreams are made of and I am only sorry that we didn’t keep him but it is great for Axom, his new owners. I for one feel proud that we spotted and bought him. Hope he does it.

I just want to add a note here about value. The bookmakers prices are the worst I have ever seen for a meeting of this nature. I am going to hunt for as much value as I can for you as well as tipping the ones I really rate but some of whom are just too short. I will not put up any price offered by Ladbrokes. Never.

The trainers to follow are obvious, Willie Mullins,Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, JJ O’Neill, David Pipe and Dessie Hughes. Willie will have the most winners but has somewhat shot himself in the foot with what I consider to be uncharacteristically poor placing of his top notchers. I will look at having a bet at the end of this piece re the leading trainer/winners for Willie etc.

Ireland are surprisingly sparsely represented in the two handicap chases today but we might still win one of them.

Anyway it is time to go through day one and you can scroll further down the site for my earlier previews for some races where I went into huge detail on each horse but I will recap just in case. I hope that we can be as successful as we were last year.

1 30 : I have already advised a 1 point win ante post on VAUTOUR at 20/1. He is the one to beat,make no mistake. Scroll down site for the preview on this event dated December 15th 2013 and February 10th this year. I would like to wish Paul Nicholls, Nick Scholfield and Axom the very best of luck with IRVING also. I am going to advise one outsider as I know a lot of punters, like me, are sickened by the short prices being put up by the bookmakers this year. This race should be 4/1 the field at least. WILD BLUE YONDER is a very talented individual and is actually overpriced and is value at the 25/1 offered by Bet 365 ,Bet Victor and some other firms. His form figures of 11FF this year are off putting but I think he will run huge. Those two falls should be two wins as he came down with at the last when about to win so his form should be 1111 instead and furthermore he has run some very big speed figures and I know that Nick Mordin really rates him as well so for a bit of value I will also have a half point each way on WILD BLUE YONDER at that price.

2 05. Previewed for ante post purposes on December 15th and February 11th, please look and read. This is already a costly affair for me and I have a pain in my groin region with a big four pointer gone astray on the re routed to the Jewson, FELIX YONGER. I further invested two points on CHAMPAGNE FEVER at 7//2 so that looks good now. I think he is one of the best bets of the meeting and is a nap here. Basically, he will demolish these if he does not take one of the fences at Prestbury Park home to Closutton as a souvenir.

2 40:
Cantglow : Ran well when close third in Pertemps Final in 2012 and will enjoy the good ground and can go well off welter burden of top weight.

Vino Griego: Has run well at this track before but needs soft ground and will not get that here. Unlikely.

Pacha Du Polder : Seasonal debut ,seems on a bit of a downward curve and has stamina issues. Unlikely.

Restless Harry : Fancied by many for this and having a great year but his record in big fields is poor. Unlikely.

Golden Chieftan : Won the JLT last year here but will not be repeating. Unlikely.

Hadrians Approach : Fancied by loads and could go off favourite, would have a great chance except for one huge strike against him, he hates traffic in big fields and I would have gone for him only for that but must rule out now.

Holywell : Won the Pertemps here last year pulling double and is favourite for this. Every chance for shrewd John Joe but I would have preferred to see him come into this fresh, which he is not so rather like Hadrians Approach I will reluctantly pass him over.

Vintage Star : Had a murderous slog in the swamp at Haydock on his last run and connections have wisely given him a 51 day break coming into this. Could be a player if his jumping holds together and Davy Russell is a great booking. Not impossible.

Ackertac : Was very unlucky not to get up to win over shorter here last year but is six pounds higher now. Will like the sun on his back and could come to life now at a time of year he likes. Could outrun his price.

Ma Filleule : Badly handicapped in my view and really needs soft ground as she has a big pounding action and I also feel she might struggle with the undulations and the field size. Unlikely.

Green Flag : A prolific winner on all types of tracks and ground but again I feel is badly handicapped. Genuine and will give all but unlikely.

Renard : Another one poorly handicapped and has a disastrous course record. Unlikely.

The Package : Off the course since this meeting last year where he ran badly but has an otherwise excellent record at this venue and has dropped in the weights. Is pushing on but very dangerous when fresh. Entirely possible.

Shakalakaboomboom : Nice name and once decent but no.

Relax : Won’t come home first or be placed.

Time For Rupert : One time very smart form and ran with the best of them, handicap mark sliding but I still feel he will struggle.

Muldoons Picnic : His jumping will come under severe scrutiny here and might not enjoy the hustle and bustle. Unlikely.

Alfie Sherrin : Lightly raced 11 y old and former winner here. Laid out for this feasibly weighted he has every chance.

Fruity O’Rooney : Second in this to Alfie Sherrin in 2012 but I find it hard to see him involved this time out.

Wrong Turn : Only Irish candidate and is improving fast and could run big but will need to avoid mistakes as he lacks experience.

Standing Ovation : Prolific winner earlier this season but has gone off the boil and likes to dominate which is unlikely in this big field.

King Massini : Lightly raced and inexperienced but improving and is at the right end of the handicap. One of the likelier ones if he avoids mistakes.

Tour Des Champs : Dropping in the handicap and likes to force the pace but hard to envisage him winning.

Solix : Impossible to see him winning.

Summary : I have this down to Alfie Sherrin 8/1, Vintage Star 20/1, Holywell 8/1, The Package 25/1 and King Massini 25/1. I am going to have a half point win on VINTAGE STAR at 20/1 Bet Victor and a half point win on KING MASSINI at 22/1 generally.

3 20 : I have written more column inches than most on this Champion Hurdle and as you scroll down the site you will come across it and then the preview itself which was done on the February 13th edition. As it was a non runner no bet race at the time we will get our stake back on Annie Power and I think they will finish in this order , 1st. The New One, 2nd Jezki, 3rd Melodic Rendevouz. I now rate THE NEW ONE a nap and cannot see him getting beat on this faster ground. I recommend a 2 points win at 3/1 with Paddy Power.

4 00 : Ruby nearly got the great QUEVEGA beaten in this last year and only an even worse ride could see her beaten this time in her quest for immortality. She is a wonder mare and will love the good ground. Impossible to oppose. For betting purposes I suggest a one point win on her stablemate GLENS MELODY at 6/1 with Paddy Power in the betting without the favourite market.

4 40 : Lots of runners but only three to concentrate on, Shotgun Paddy , Shutthefrontdoor and Foxrock.

Foxrock : Is the banker of the week for many Irish punters and they will get a much bigger price as he is on a serious drift as we speak. The thinking behind the slide in the market is the ever quickening ground as it is thought he needs it softer. I worry on this score to as he is a big horse and the quick gallop could also put his jumping under pressure.

Shutthefrontdoor : Can be a bit of a monkey but has won seven of his eleven races and has had a good preparation and moreover has been laid out for this. Nina takes the ride and the horse is equipped with first time cheekpieces to help him concentrate. Leading chance.

Shotgun Paddy : Is the highest rated horse in this field on BHA ratings and deserves it. Thorough stayer who is lightly raced also but is so progressive. Derek O’ Connor is another eye catching jockey booking and he has had a perfect preparation like his biggest danger.

Summary : This will be a battle royal between Shutthefrontdoor and SHOTGUN PADDY. PADDY can come out on top. 1 pt win at 5/1 with most firms.

5 15 : I have this narrowed down to Pendra and Art Of Logistics. I prefer the former and suggest a 1 point win on PENDRA at 8/1 with Paddy Power.

I think a 1 pt win on John Joe O’Neill in the betting without market with Paddy Power at 8/1 is a value bet.That betting is of course w/o Willie Mullins who could equal or better last years five winners.

May the Lord be with you……………..


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