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22nd April 2024 9:32 pm

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

CHELTENHAM DAY 1: No more chanting yogic Uummms, it’s make-your-mind-up time!

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

This past weekend I spotted and wrote about a 17/2 winner (Dubai Station) that had the form of a donkey seen in a charity advert for a Middle East animal sanctuary, but which also had the whiff of Eau de Plot. Did I suggest you back it? No – I didn’t. I simply mentioned it and then – embarrassed by my boldness – moved on. You will know by now that I had also picked six runners in The Players Championship, who all made the cut and lit up the board a lovely green colour by Saturday morning. I even spouted on about taking profits… but I didn’t. Congratulations to Scottie Scheffler, but two top-10 finishers wasn’t good enough.

These things hurt… they smack of over-thinking; they suggest the risk management button is set to “Tilt.”

This I suspect, is because, psychologically, I have two demons who sit in each ear. One is old Cornelius Kneesup, the voice of 1920s adventure and cut and thrust and who has more front than Brighton.  Get a grip Kneesup. Think back on the generations of Kneesups that have managed to stay alive by outflanking and outmanoeuvring their enemies. He says this in his basso profondo growl, which he thinks is sexy, but merely reminds people he used to smoke. Sitting in my less-forward but ever-cocked ear is Darcy Kneesup, the 18th-century boulevardier who lost his way in a bordello-cum-gin shop in Portsmouth in the 1770s, thus missing his passage with Captain Cook, who, whilst discovering Hawaii and breadfruit, also lost a lot of crew to scurvy and native savagery. We didn’t get where we are today by getting scurvy and dying of native savagery, says dead Darcy. We kept our heads down – let others shout about their clever coups. We’re made of wiser stuff.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is by way of an explanation for the tips for the next four days. Based on some sound reasoning, we’ve made up our minds, driven by algorithms of infinite complexity and occasional blood rushes of insight caused by an excess of very expensive alcohol.

Good Luck

PS: You will remember that I gave you a list of statistics/trends/patterns that have generated profits over the years. That list can be found HERE in a PDF with Tuesday’s qualifiers.

13:30 SKY BET SUPREME NOV’ HDL RACE (G1) 2m abt ½f

I have a short list based on some pretty strong trends of the following horses: FACILE VEGA – IL ETAIT TEMPS – INTHEPOCKET – MARINE NATIONALE – TAHMURAS. I know that isn’t saying much – given the betting market. Thanks to the Cheltenham hype surrounding anything trained on or near Mount Olympus, FACILE VEGA was talked down, then out, then back up, based on his 7th race in six years. As a matter of fact – the DRF Novice Hurdle was run 3 seconds faster than the Irish Champion Hurdle – so why did anyone think FACILE VEGA was capable of winning from the front off a blistering pace? The real question is whether he’s a better horse than IL ETAIT TEMPS, and most form lines suggest he is. However, pretty well everything on my list, when put under the microscope, has a flaw. FACILE VEGA, whatever I say, was beaten LTO. MARINE NATIONALE hasn’t raced for 100 days, and IL ETAIT TEMPS has more mileage than is normal for an SNH winner. TAHMURAS on the other hand, not only meets the profile, but his Tolworth victory saw the 3rd and 4th go on to come 1st and 2nd in a tough little G2 next time out. Still and all there is something about him that smacks of the untested. I’m going to have a punt on the favourite – but I’m also going to test our stat that says backing Willie Mullins’ second string can also be profitable.

FACILE VEGA 6 pts Win – DIVERGE 1 pt e/w –  DARK RAVEN ½ pt e/w – 2 x ½ pt SFC FACILE VEGA to beat another Mullins runner


It is very hard to see past EL FABIOLO and JONBON and their very similar career records: 3/3 chases, won a graded chase by more than 4l LTO, and both are rated 159+ (needed to win an Arkle). It will be a decent pace, one imagines, but the Raceweb stats eliminate almost everything ranked outside the top 5 in the betting, so those pace setters I don’t see winning. Given his Cheltenham record (3rd Champion Hurdle, won County Hurdle), you’d have to say SAINT ROI rates a threat – as does Davy Russell on the sole Elliott runner HOLLOW GAMES.

EL FABIOLO 5 pts Win – 2 x ½ pt SFC to beat SAINT ROI or HOLLOW GAMES

14:50 ULTIMA HCAP CHS (G3) 3m abt 1f

I had been relying in my mind on Lord Accord, who now goes for the Kim Muir, but I’m happy to fall back on OSCAR ELITE, who is almost as familiar here as the Ladies with the “Lucky Heather”. He has a strong trends profile and was third in this last year – reportedly bleeding from the nose – and then had a trapped epiglottis at Aintree, which took, not unreasonably, some time to recover from. However, he hosed up at Ascot last month in The Reynoldstown, and he looks like his mark is at least 11 lbs shy of correct. THE GOFFER meets the key “Won a G1 Leopardstown LTO” and is thus backable, but I am also concerned by Jonjo’s removal from next weekend’s Midland’s Grand National of  MONBEG GENIUS who is rated 140. Whilst he hasn’t run at Cheltenham before, he handles Chepstow  (3/3), and Jonjo has won this three times, including twice with novices (Wichita Lineman (2009) & Holywell (2014)). Novices have won 5 of the last nine renewals, too.

OSCAR ELITE 3 pts Win – THE GOFFER 1½ pts e/w – MONBEG GENIUS 1 pt e/w


No horse has won the Champion Hurdle, having won the Supreme Novices Hurdle the previous year since Bula in 1971! Heavy odds on favourite Constitution Hill will have to overcome that particular stat if he is to win the hurdling crown this year. There is another, really simple, proposition which is, that if the ground goes Good to Soft, good in places, then NTD will run I LIKE TO MOVE IT who needs good ground AND only if you’re offered three places by some bookmaker trying to drum up business, do you  back I LIKR TO MOVE IT e/w. This horse’s overall form has been underestimated, but I really can’t see past the favourite who is unbackable. With another 23 races to, I think I can afford to call this – except under the above conditions



This might well turn out to be quite a hot race. Ruby Walsh mentioned ECHOES IN RAIN as the likely winner of this the other day while I was trying to work out the entries Nicky had forgotten and the supplements he’d made. I try to care about the HONEYSUCKLE fall from grace, but it all feels a bit… desperate. Shades of Frank Sinatra. If she wins it, good for her and I apologise and my apologies tend to be big-ticket events! Both EPATANTE and THEATRE GLORY were added to the card to run alongside MARIE’S ROCK, who won this last year and is a major contender this year. Much tosh was talked about her running in the Stayers, but really…. You might guess from this delayed infomercial that I am sort of confused. When in doubt, look to Mullins, but not ECHOES IN RAIN, who might not get the trip, but SHEWEARSITWELL, who ran a blinder LTO at Leopardstown in a Grade , LTO



I’m beginning to worry at how often the name Mullins is coming up in my selections. First to load is SIR ALLEN, whose debut saw him second to the current Triumph favourite. Since then, he was won a brace, including a Naas race, of which the last five runnings have produced three winners. Second in that race was MORNING SOLDIER, who meets SIR ALLEN on 9 lbs better terms for a length after jockey claims, which does worry me, but I think SIR ALLEN has been underestimated.

SIR ALLEN 2 pts e/w – MORNING SOLDIER 2 pts e/w


Willie Mullins’ GAILLARD DU MESNIL is a very classy G1 individual rated 155. He was 3rd in last year’s Festival Chase, he’s twice chased Mighty Potter home in G1s and this might almost be considered a drop-down in class. That said, there have been some interesting moves, as I’m told that MINELLA CROONER has been bought by the same team who won the Kim Muir in 2021 with Mount Ida. They have then pinched Barry O’Neill, who is a very decent amateur, from the John McConnell-trained MAHLER MISSION. Also on our stats that one should blindly follow, Jamie Codd rides the second favourite CHEMICAL ENERGY. Probably unwisely I’m swerving Mr Codd on the grounds that his horse won’t like the going, and suggesting we dutch the grudge match as well as having a pop at a tricast. Crikey!

MINELLA CROONER  – MAHLER MISSION dutch for 6 pts. (approx 11/4 return) Plus the pair and GAILLARD DU MESNIL  in a 6 x ¼ pt Combination Tricast



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