Cheltenham Day 4 – Staying alive, staying alive

It’s getting increasingly difficult to tell between exhaustion, alcohol poisoning, and some ghastly virus passed on by an itinerant back-slapping, celebrating Irishman. I was, on Thursday, surrounded, (trapped would be a better word), in just a situation. Sat in the confines of The Cheltenham Automobile Society’s on-course HQ, one chap had bought a “lucky dip” Tote pouch for £20, which gives a number of randomly selected Tote bets. Freddy – for it was he – had among his tickets, a winning Tote exacta worth considerably more than he paid for the whole wallet! On another table, a “proper” lady won a Trifecta AND an exacta worth over £200. Nobody minds a bit of luck, but absolutely none of it was sticking to me.

Worse still, I was surrounded by that most irritating of human traits, smugness. Two winners on my table, bags of cash floating around and some unwarranted sympathy for what was being portrayed as some sort of illness. “Never mind, you’ll get better soon…” sort of thing. My day’s misery was finally compounded by an emailed note from a friend, which if an email can honk of smugness, positively hooted. He had quite probably, (for the second time), just won a four grand prize in a tipping competition, by simply selecting Rebecca Curtis to provide the goods at odds better than 25/1. This she did with Lisnagar Oscar, a horse whose positive Raceform comments I had failed to read, but which chummy had obviously done!

No, I’m not grumpy, “I want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…” etc, and indeed I had given one or two people something to sing about, with CONCERTISTA and SAMCRO as winners and a very close 16/1 2nd in KILFILUM CROSS. However, I also know that all of us are looking for our own Lisnagar Oscar…. and so the search goes on.

Friday 13 March 2020
13:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4YO only) 2m 1f

Assuming that he likes Cheltenham, SOLO who won the Kempton Adonis easily, might overcome his inexperience, improve and take this. Talking of Ifs’, if there is a race that Ms Blackmore can win, this could be it, with ASPIRE TOWER – if he has recovered from his LTO fall and if he has the ability to take this from the front. GOSHEN could easily win as the favourite if he doesn’t get involved in a scrap upfront and doesn’t overplay his habit of jumping right – a trait we saw defeat Asterion Forlonge on Tuesday. I think from all I’ve heard SIR PSCHO is good for a place.

SOLO wins – SIR PYSCHO e/w or place only on the Tote.

14:10 – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5YO plus) 2m 1f

BUILDMEUPBUTTERCUP is rated 6lbs higher than her Irish mark by the English handicapper, and I’m not sure she is a fluent jumper. Also, she is A She and it’s been 16 years since a mare took this. THATSY is highly regarded and has been widely supported. However, as I write you can still get 12/1 for 6 places in several places. There are simply too many stats to ignore on this one – including all five of Davy Russell’s handicap rides this week have been placed. My views on German-bred hurdlers at Cheltenham under certain conditions appears to be considered passe, and one can’t help but notice that ADJALI has had a wind-op and this is the first run since. Nicky’s runners on their first start following a wind-op have a 31% strike rate. Get outta here!

THATSY e/w – ADJALI e/w – BUILDMEUPUTTERCUP for exotics

14:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 3m

Several likeable types here and I favour JANADIL, FURY ROAD and CAT TIGER (you won’t read this everywhere, but he was 4th in a French G1) all e/w.

15:30 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5YO plus) 3m 2½f

MONALEE was runner-up to Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase two years ago, was 2nd Kemboy, has beaten Anibale Fly and LTO ran Delta Work to a head in the Irish Gold Cup – which would have been closer had Rachel Blackmore, not lost an iron. 25.1 is a ludicrous price. You can get 5 places at 20/1 with SKybet…. bonkers. Otherwise, the winner is AL BOUM PHOTO who must surely become the first horse since Best Mate in 2004 to win successive Cheltenham Gold Cups.  LOSTINTRANSLATION for places.

16:10 – St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase (Class 2) (5YO plus) 3m 2½f

ALCALA e/w – HAZEL HILL e/w

16:50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5YO plus) 2m ½f

LISP wins – ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU e/w – THE BAY BIRCH very small e/w

17:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m 4½f

FIVE O’CLOCK wins – FLASH THE STEEL e/w

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