What with running multiple tipping services and making my own living from betting, it’s been a long. long time since I was able to devote any time to this blog. I promise I will be giving it more attention in future and, thankfully, I have one of my all time favourite MYBP writers, Nick Hardman, willing to lend a hand for the biggest jumps meeting in the world
Nick will be casting his eye over every race at the festival and letting us know both where his money will be going and what happened to it when it got there!
Over to Nick:
After an enforced exile I am back and writing again for Make Your Betting Pay. Apologies to everyone (or indeed anyone!) that may have been following my weekly diary. I never intended to take such a lengthy break. It’s a long story and one best shared at a later date. Anyway, what better way to get back into the groove than the Cheltenham Festival? I’ll be bringing you my thoughts for each and every race, together with the selections I will be backing personally. These will by no means be “tips”, but they are simply the horses that will be carrying my “hard earned” for better or worse at the festival. Feel free to cheer them, laugh at them or deride them. Also feel free to leave a comment or two if you have your own strong fancies or you also fancy the horses I am backing. As always I will be trying to make the most of the various bookmaker special offers and concessions, so here goes……………
On to Day 1 and the opening race, the Supreme Novice Hurdle. It has to be a bet with Paddy Power for me as they are offering money back on 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. For me that means a decent priced outsider who can run into a place giving me a nice return and my win stake back (unless of course it happens to finish first!). I’ll take The Liquidator at 20/1 thank you very much and as I write this I’ve taken that price on Sunday evening. He was a decent 4th in the Champion Bumper last year and won over the course in November later that same year. He was a no-show at Kempton but I do like his course form so at 20/1 I’m hoping for a good run for my money.
The Arkle looks to be a cracking renewal compared to the penalty kicks for Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre in previous years. I have to go with Champagne Fever @11/4 with William Hill although dangers abound at the top of the market in Dodging Bullets and Rock On Ruby. I think Grandouet and Ted Veale offer some each-way value but it’s going to be a long 4 days so I will just back Champagne Fever knowing I will get a refund if he finishes second.
Onto the 3 mile Handicap Chase and I love these races as they can throw up big winners such as Golden Chieftain at 28/1 last year and Chief Dan George at 33/1 in 2010 . Only one winner in the last 10 years has carried more than 11 stone but with the ground having a decent chance of seeing the word “good” in the description we may see that trend bucked. With this is mind (and the fact I’m often wrong!) I’ll go for a light weight and one off a decent mark as my two against the field to small stakes. It looks like Golden Chieftain has been aimed at this again and had a nice pipe-opener about a month ago but he is stone heavier here so I’ll give him the swerve. King Massini has a lot to find but is a course winner and has just 10-02 to carry so I’ve had a small each-way at 33/1. I also like Sue Smith’s Vintage Star who I have backed @25/1 and I like the early booking of Davey Russell.
And so to the most anticipated race of the year, the Champion Hurdle. Hurricane Fly v The New One v My Tent Or Yours v Our Conor. This is a race I should really just to watch as any one from the big four could win on the day (apologies now to Jezki and Melodic Rendevous fans out there). I was impressed with Hurricane Fly when he out-battled Our Conor at Leopardstown. He has beaten him twice this year but the forecast faster ground could see that form reversed. The only time I backed Hurricane Fly he lost (this race in 2012). I get the feeling it might happen again, call it superstition if you will, but with William Hill offering refunds on 2nd place I will back him @5/2 although most bookmakers go 3/1 and 11/4 without this concession. I will also back My Tent Or Yours. I just think he’s a better horse than last year and his high cruising speed will be an asset if the ground is riding good. True, he doesn’t find much off the bridle but with McCoy in the plate he may just galvanise some improvement up that hill. I think he offers more value at 4/1 than current market leader The New One. I will back him with Ladbrokes as I will get a refund if he does not win but Hurricane Fly finishes 1st or 2nd.
The Mares’ Hurdle is a no bet race for me but I will be cheering on Quevega to make history, even if she is not carrying my money. Next up is the gruelling 4 mile National Hunt Chase. Shotgun Paddy has a touch of class and a serious chance here and I have taken the 7/1 win only (again with a firm offering a 2nd place refund). Wille Mullins held three entries on Sunday evening and as I expected, Ballycasey has defected to the RSA chase where he is the favourite. That has allowed me to back one of Mullins’ other entries Suntiep each-way at 16/1 who is now as low as 8/1 in places. I have read he thinks very highly of this 8 year old and that’s good enough for me at 16/1. That’s my two against the field.
Finally we have the Novice Handicap Chase and I’ve backed Attaglance with William Hill at 20/1. A previous festival winner back in 2012 there are plenty of well-respected bloggers and racing people saying this horse will outrun his current price and I’m happy to jump aboard, at a nice each-way price. Another one at a big price is Ohio Gold @25/1 and I have backed him each-way also. He is solid if unspectacular and has a good chance of making the frame, although I would be surprised if he won. He has plenty of course experience and was a good 3rd in this last year. I’m hopeful for a repeat again on Tuesday.
So there you have it. At those odds I may well draw a blank on Day 1 and eat my own words as Jezki romps home in the Champion Hurdle, but hey, this is Cheltenham and it’s not so much about making a packet as having a run for your money and enjoying the highlight of the sporting year. Best of luck whatever you’re backing.
Nick’s Day 1 Selections:
1.30 The Liquidator @20/1 each-way
2.05 Champagne Fever @11/4
2.40 King Massini @33/1 & Vintage Star @25/1 both each-way
3.20 Hurricane Fly @5/2 & My Tent Or Yours @4/1
4.00 No Bet
4.40 Shotgun Paddy @7/1 (win only) & Suntiep @16/1 each way
5.15 Attaglance @20/1 and Ohio Gold @25/1 both each-way