Gold Cup Preview + Mid Point review

Wow – what a first couple of days it has been. I could write a novel but I will try to be as succinct as possible.


Day 1 and 2 Ponderings

No one is a bigger fan than I of Tony McCoy and I certainly don’t like to criticise the 16 time Champion Jockey, but I have to say, in my honest opinion, he gave Binocular a shockingly bad ride in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.

He made the, frankly, amateurish mistake of racing one horse rather than the field. He was so intent on tracking Hurricane Fly that by the time he realised The Fly was the wrong one,  the birds had flown. He had far too much ground to make up and, as a direct result, clouted the last and failed even to place.

I’m not convinced he’d have won had he been ridden closer to the pace but I’m damn sure he would have finished at least 2nd. Great jockey but a very, very poor ride.


I really don’t know where to start with the tragic debacle of the Cross Country Chase. Both Scotsirish and Garde Champetre lost their lives needlessly. I’ve always thought that it’s a farce of a race which has no place at the premier jumps meeting of the season. The tragedies on Tuesday have only confirmed that opinion.

The going on that Cross Country course was patently unsafe and I’m amazed that it wasn’t picked up by the safety inspection teams or the trainers. Willie Mullins has gone right down in my estimation after his comment about having “no complaints about the ground.” How many horses would have needed to be injured for him to think it unsuitable?

This was an entirely preventable tragedy and the tired old cliches really aren’t good enough. I cringe when I hear commentators spouting about the horses “doing the thing they love” or that they “couldn’t be better looked after.” I’m sure the Romans said much the same thing about the gladiators. Would they feel it was alright to make such trite statements if a jockey had been killed? Those kind of justifications are simply not good enough

I love National Hunt racing, it has an irresistible draw for me and I’m no lily liberal in these matters  but races like that make me very uncomfortable indeed. Uncomfortable enough to seriously wonder if the games worth the candle.


On to happier things.

After a shockingly bad first day for me on the betting front (Binocular unplaced, Montbazon unplaced), and the ludicrous end of Cotton Mill, my big bet in the 2nd race on Wednesday, I have to say I was very glad ( for that read relieved!) to see Finians Rainbow land the spoils in the Queen Mother.

It was my biggest bet of the festival and the race played out pretty much as I hoped it would. There was slight drama at the final fence but he comfortably polished off Sizing Europe going up the hill. I had to laugh when Henry de Bromhead said “who knows what would have happened if it wasn’t for that (the final fence incident)” and Andrew Lynch said “the final fence cost him the race”

If it hadn’t been for the final fence incident, Finians would have won even further. Anybody who thinks that Sizing Europe was more inconvenienced than Finians, needs to take another hard look at the race and then, maybe, get their eyes tested.


Tuesday wasn’t a complete wash out for me though.

I must admit to being cheered enormously by the thought of Charlie brooks (The Louche of Lambourn) languishing in police cells somewhere after being arrested in relation to the phone hacking scandal. It was particularly pleasing after having read his Telegraph column in which he waxed lyrical about the festival being the highlight of his year.

Cheers for that Charlie – made my day!

Nothing could have pleased me more (except perhaps the arrest and imprisonment of Sam Whaley-Cohen)


The Make Your Betting Pay tipping league is galloping along nicely and we currently have a runaway leader, in the shape of Mark Shepherd who,as well as sitting atop our league, is in the top 200 players in the country.

Well done Mark!

It also speaks volumes for the betting knowledge of blog readers that our league is 22nd overall in the league of leagues. Well done to everybody.

All still to play for.


Readers of my earlier feature race previews will already know that I like Dynaste each way for the World Hurdle but I thought I had better pass on a piece of gossip I picked up yesterday.

Apparently MOURAD has had a long term problem with his feet which was fixed last week. The word I heard is that he is expected to be 20 lengths better than at the Festival last year. That being the case, he would be very hard to keep out of the frame. It remains to be seen if the effect is that dramatic, but I’ve had a small each way saver at 33/1.


Gold Cup

I would love to be able to say I fancied KAUTO STAR to land his 3rd Gold Cup. It would be a fitting, crowning achievement to an already glittering career and I can’t think of a horse who deserves it more.

Unfortunately, I can’t.

I’m very wary of the Nicholl’s runners at the moment and I’m pretty sure that they are still not right. So far he’s had only one winner (trained at a satellite yard) and a second from a host of runners.

Taking that into account, along with the scare last week over the schooling fall, I’d want an awful lot bigger price than the 7/2 generally available about Kauto.  At that price I’m a layer, I’m afraid.

I think LONG RUN is about right in the betting and if he would just drift a little more – say to 5/2 – I would have to back him. As things stand, I won’t be, despite him being the most likely winner of the race.

MIDNIGHT CHASE is the horse that interests me most, as I mentioned in previous posts. I backed him a while ago at 16/1 and he’s shortened considerably since then.  He absolutely loves Cheltenham (5th in this last year and an all the way winner here since). He’s got a fair amount to find obviously but I’m hopeful of a bold showing.

I also think BURTON PORT has a reasonable chance based on his fast closing 2nd to Long Run at Newbury last time. The extra distance should suit him down to the ground. Henderson will have had him very fit for his return that day but I still think he might strip a bit fitter for the run.

The only other one I will get involved on is SYNCHRONISED – particularly if there is any money for him in the morning. A straight value call for me.

My Bets:

Reasonable each way bet on MIDNIGHT CHASE at 12/1 with Paddy Power

Small each way bets on BURTON PORT (15/2 Skybet) and Synchronised (12/1 generally)

That’s it from me today. Be lucky, whatever you are backing


PS Anyone thinking of plunging on Big Bucks today should think VERY HARD about the form of the Nicholls horses at the moment. I’m not saying he won’t win. I just don’t think that Nicholls’s difficulties are being fully factored into his price.


  1. hi kieran,
    re your comments about the cross country,i totally agree with every word,its high time this excuse of a n.h.race was put out to grass.along with the idiots who try to defend it its nothing but a debacle,and i’m sure all true jumps fans would like to see it banned.

    best regards

    geoff doran

    1. Hi Geoff

      Very glad to hear that quite a few people agree with me about the Cross Country race. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be ludicrous



  2. Hiya, I totally agree with the comments on the Cross country race its a farce and the fact that 2 horses died speaks for itself it should be binned. Funnily I agree with the comments on AP as well and I backed binocular. Thats where it ends though and cannot agree about the ridiculous situation re the Queen Mother, for me Sizing would have outjumped Finnians and kept his balance as it was he was bumped about and lost most of his momentum. its ok if its in the middle of the race but not the final fence. Also how much time did they need to sort something out with the unfortunate accident at that fence. If it had been AP he probably would have remounted and won the race!!! The fact I had a £50 double with Sacre and Sizing did’nt improve my mood, I don’t mind losing in a fair fight but to lose like that was hard to bear I should imagine a lot of money was lost on that race. I’m will Ted Walsh and someone should be held to account, jocks get banned for less. I’m having a terrible festival but won a couple of hundred quid on Chelsea last night, Chelsea to win(4/6) and John Terry to score at anytime(7/1) not bad for a Man Utd fan!!! Hopefully things will turn around today, keep up the good work

    1. Hi Dion

      Thanks for your comments.

      I realise that a lot of people will have the opposite view to me on the final fence incident – my own view is that Finians was pushed a lot wider (and very nearly lost his footing)going round the fence and had to travel at least 4 or 5 lengths further. They both lost momentum, agreed. it’s a real pity that such a great race was marred by such idiocy.

      Have a good one today!


  3. Re: Finians Rainbow/Sizing Europe…..i assume you got a new pair of glasses this morning Kieran! 🙂 The ground is riding much faster than advertised and i have to agree about the x country, that was more like ‘firm’ ground than good to firm and totally unexceptable. Have a great Day 3!

    1. Hi Nick

      lol – we shall have to agree to disagree on that one! Differing opinions is one of the things that make it all worthwhile



  4. never read such rubbish kieran,the queen mother was a total farce and the cheltenham hierarchy should be ashamed about the way they handled the last fence fiasco, no one could predict who would have won if the last had been jumped and i find your comments that finnians would have won by further had they jumped the last as laughable.

    1. Hi Paul

      I guess we will never know, Paul. I must admit though there’s a distinct whiff of burnt fingers about your comment.

      I hope you have better luck today


  5. Delighted to hear you don’t fancy Kauto Star for the Gold Cup! I’ve got 33/1 on a King George/Gold Cup double and now I’m even more confident!!

  6. Hi Kieran,

    I think we’ll never know about the Campion chase what ifs. Just a pity it had to end like that.
    On Binocular, (I backed what I thought was the near unbeateable Hurricane Fly), I think it is interesting and has been little commented on, that the champion Hurdle this year has been won by a horse who had shown top class form over two and a half miles.
    Second to First Lieutenant here last season over 2m 5f and second to Bob’s Worth over the C & D the time before, he simply outstayed the opposition having had the race set up for him by Jason Maguire who gave Overturn a great ride by riding him to his strengths.
    The only one I could see really flying at the end was Zarkander and if he shows up at Aintree for the G1 two and a half miler he will be well worth a look.


    1. Hi John

      I agree – Zarkandar is the one to take out of the race for me.
      I didn’t mean to decry Rock on Ruby’s performance – the race played to his strengths and he took full advantage. I would just have liked to see Binocular ridden up with pace a little more. Even with that, I really don’t know if he would have got to the winner.

      Good luck today


  7. Hi Kieron, could not agree more on mc.coys ride on binocular, did he actually get paid for that effort.? I knew that the writing was on the wall after jumping the third. Perhaps he thought he was riding Pegasus. I for one will certainly think hard before I back another Mc.coy runner. Regards, Gary.

  8. Hi Kieron, I think I was watching a different Champion Chase to you, how you can
    say Finian’s travelled 4or 5 lengths further than Sizing Europe is beyond me!
    According to the Post report they bumped passing the missed fence so they couldn’t
    have been too far apart. I didn’t have a bet so I’m not talking through my pocket in
    any way. Anyway, good luck on Friday.

    1. Hi Billy

      You’re right about differing views- the fact that we all see things differently and draw different conclusions is the one and only reason that it is possible to find an edge in this game. If everything was cast in stone and not open to interpretation we would all be backing the same horses and nobody would make money.

      Regarding Oscar Whisky, I don’t think you were far wrong in liking him – it was reasonable to think he might make the step up in distance – I just think the price was too short to take the risk.

      Have a great day today


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