If Cheltenham moves to five days, this is what this morning will feel like – except you’ll have to put your tweeds on, kick the empty bottles and the knackered spaniels aside and head for Cleeve Hill again. I don’t know how trainers do it… we were back home by 11:00 pm, but on our knees with exhaustion, hunger and liver failure. We were however entirely free of the worries that come with the protection of fat wallets. That also applied to the munchies – the food at Cheltenham is abysmal at worse and ordinary at best and everything seems processed and cheap. Except in the Roux suite, where a chum was rushed £900+ for cocktails and lunch. I might suggest to him next year, that we simply hop on a P&O ferry and go to Honfleur for some really decent grub and watch the racing on our betting apps. A plan with no obvious flaws surely?
Yesterday we were all thrilled for Rachel and Henry – of course – but upset for Venetia. We simply could not comprehend how Billaway got home, let alone won, and Stag Horn left us sadder and wiser. The week was full of “How the Hell”s and “What the Dickens” at the end of almost every race. For me, Facile Vega and Constitution Hill were the most impressive horses all week, to the extent that I have a £50 bet with Charlie Mann that the former will earn more prize money next season than the latter. Charlie wanted it just Grade 1 races, but time is on both their sides and with horses as good as those two, rushing will not be high on the cards.
You will have favourite moments too, and I would not gainsay any of them. However, my total delight of the week was Mrs George Baker’s Facebook page. Click on that link and go and read her description of her Cheltenham experience. If you don’t want to be part of the racing tribe afterwards, then you left your soul on the corner table in The Sad Cafe some time ago.
I’ll do the P&L and bring us right up to date sometime this week, but for the moment, here are the tips for this weekend. The sporting action also includes Six Nations action with England v France (with Mac N Cheese), the return of F1 after a decent Sunday lunch, (and the absence from the grid and Haas, thank the lord, of the extraordinarily arrogant and unsafe Temazapan or whatever his name was) and some decent racing (with a Cornish Pasty), the tips for which are below.
1:30 KEMPTON Virgin Bet Free Bets For Winners Hcap Chs Cl4 (5yo+ 0-120) 3m 6 run
CERTAINLY RED 2pts win
1:50 UTTOXETER Optimum Experience Hcap Hdl Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m7½f 12 run
NO WORD OF A LIE – GRACE A VOUS ENKI 5pts Dutch win for odds of approx 7/2
2:05 KEMPTON Virgin Bet Free Bets For Winners Novices’ Limited Hcap Chs Cl3 (5yo+ 0-135) 2m 5 run
SIROCO JOE 2 pts win
2:25 UTTOXETER Trinity Create Novices’ Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+) 3m 7 run
FUJI FLIGHT 3pts win
2:40 KEMPTON Virgin Bet Hcap Hdl Cl2 (5yo+ 0-145) 2m5f 17 run
There are 6 places with Sky bet
JAY JAY RILEY 1pt e/w – DORKING BOY 1½pts e/w
3:00 UTTOXETER Optimum Pay Hcap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m4f 12 run
LLANDINABO LAD e/w – TEESCOMPONENTS YES e/w
3:15 KEMPTON Virgin Bet Hcap Chs Cl2 (5yo+ 0-150) 2m4½f 10 run
DIEGO DU CHARMIL 2pts win
3:35 UTTOXETER Boulton Group Midlands Grand National Cl1 (5yo+) 4m2f
6 places with a number of bookies and 7 with Sky
Quite a long shortlist – however if I apply a few key trends (age – weight – experience) I reduce this to TIME TO GET UP – SUPREME ESCAPE – YOUNG DEV – CAPTAIN DRAKE – DE YOUNG WARRIOR. I’m tempted to ditch TIME TO GET UP on the grounds of no horse has won this twice etc, and YOUNG DEV who needs it bottomless. SUPREME ESCAPE is within 3lbs of his last winning mark and the other two are shy 7lbs. None of them has contested a Cl1 before. So I shall do the following
SUPREME ESCAPE 1 pt e/w – DE YOUNG WARRIOR 1pt e/w and both in a ¼pt RFC with TIME TO GET UP which should return approx 40/1
FORMULA 1 – BAHRAIN GP
It’s hard to forget that final Abu Dhabi race last season, where it all came unstuck for Lewis – a race surrounded by controversy, sackings, accusations and some bad blood. Pre-season testing and practice sessions, seem to suggest Ferrari are back in the mix, but that Red Bull remains the one to beat. I suspect Max will win and Charles Leclerc will get a podium, but both are odds on. Lewis however is 2/1 for a top 3 finish and unless the car is a total dud, I’m struggling to believe that the man who has won the last three runnings of the Bahrain GP won’t be standing with the other two on Sunday evening.
LEWIS HAMILTON podium finish 2/1
It’s France’s Grand Slam for the taking, bar one teeny problem. That problem is Les RosBifs, who despite playing with 14 men for 95% of the Irish game, managed to still be drawing at the start of the third quarter. Brave, tenacious, courageous were epithets that were liberally chucked around – but the bottom line is that England has been weak this season and there is a sense that Eddie Jones is struggling to find a solution. That sees another team formation experiment this week with the inclusion of George Furbank in the squad as Full Back, with Freddie Steward moved to Wing. Sam Underhill is back to replace Tom Curry who is out with injury and the scrum will have a new shape. But none of this matters if the team and more importantly the available talent, is simply being either taken for granted or lost along some bewildering road of constant (and often purposeless) change. You can get 11/10 France to win both halves, which seems fair. On the spreads, I’d be selling the time of the first French try at 26-29 and buying the time of the first English try 31-34. On the strength of that prediction, I’d be selling the first-half points 21.5 – 23.5. Wales and Ireland will both win their games by big margins. (PS: Those are opinions, not bets, as I’m not sure what access you have to spread betting accounts.)
What, as I said on Tuesday morning, can possibly go wrong?