Yay! The big day is finally here, the Cheltenham Festival has arrived and more importantly, so has a sarcastic blog to keep you up to date with events in the Cotswolds. It’s going to be the same as always with a few minor changes. First of all, the Hell Of A Horse Count will now be known as the Hell Of A Horse Total due to the previous name being only one typo away from an immediate sacking.
Hell Of A Horse Total: 2
Sightings Of Paddy Enjoying Corporate Hospitality At Cheltenham: 2
5.10pm: PS … Ganguly wasn’t top Kolkata Runscorer, so our Pun v Pundit competition rolls on to this evening’s football from the Champions League and the Championship.
5.04pm:: And with that victory, Ruby becomes the joint most successful jockey at the Festival of all time. It’s a title that doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but he looks certain to lose the ‘joint’ part of it tomorrow with another strong book of rides.
Will he take the title in his own right on Day 2?
How far beyond this mark can he go?
And will we ever get a taste of that delicious lasagne he probably learned how to make years ago in home economics class?
We’ll get the answer to some of these questions on Paddy’s Day.
4.50pm: It feels like applying a Bandaid after your foot’s been chopped off (I’m imagining – it’s not like I’m familiar with the sensation), but the punters will take it. Quevega justifies favouritism to defend her David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle crown.
Mares’ Hurdle Result
1st Quevega @ 6/4
2nd Carol’s Legacy
3rd Voler La Veddette
4.25pm So we’ve reached that point in the day and there’s only one question on everyone’s mind? How on earth is Day 1 of the Pun v Punter contest going? Well, I’m glad you asked. Neither pun nor punter prevailed in the Cross Country Chase as Freney’s Well and L’Ami came up short – although in fairness, Freney’s Well came up a lot shorter than the second placed L’Ami. Our punter, Kevin Hughes could take the led with the Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings IPL game currently in progress. The punnery tip of Matthew Hayden to be Top Runscorer hasn’t worked out, amassing as he did the grand total of one. Still though, Sourav Ganguly needs to told score for the Knight Riders for Kevin to win and it’s still very much alive heading into tonight’s Champions League and Championship games.
If you fancy pitting your tipping skills against our punning/tipping skills for Day 2 of Cheltenham, email email@example.com and you might be draw out of the hat.
4.15pm: That’s the Channel 4 coverage wrapped up for the day. We’ve seen some shocking results and even more shocking hats. It’s over to Racing UK for the Mares Hurdle and for those you bet £5/€5 or more on the race, you can watch live on our Bet And Watch service, which is so self-explanatory I should have just said the name.
4.10pm: Cross Country Chase honours stay in Ireland, but not with Enda Bolger for a change. A New Story avoids the trouble turning for home and stays on impressively to deny L’Ami.
Cross Country Chase Result
1st A New Story 25/1
4th Another Jewel
3.48pm: With the kicking the favourites are getting today, Garde Champetre will probably be granted the immediate freedom of Ireland if he can claim the Cross Country Chase. There’s been lots of money for him, but the story of the betting market is his stablemate, Freney’s Well who was 25/1 to earlier in the day, but has been trimmed to 14/1 with ten minutes to go before the off.
3.30pm: Coming up we’ve got the wonderful craziness of the Cross Country Chase and JP McManus is in a strong position to claim a quick fire double. The problem is picking which of the Bolger/McManus is likely to oblige for him. Garde Champetre and Nina have done it before and they top weight shouldn’t matter quite so much on ground like this. L’Ami also has claims while Henry De Bromhead could be in line for a double of his own with Sizing Australia on good terms at the weights with the defending champion. It’s another tough call, but as always it promises to be a wonderful spectacle.
3.25pm: There’s no doubts about Binocular getting his neck in front at Cheltenham now! His neck was well and truly clear of the field in the Champion Hurdle. Go Native found nothing when asked for his effort and there’s a young man out there who won’t be getting season tickets for Old Trafford, but he can console himself he’s helping with the plan to get rid of the Glazers, which probably isn’t much comfort when you’re nine.
Champion Hurdle Result
1st Binocular @ 9/1
2nd Khyber Kim
3pm: Twenty minutes to go before the start of the big one. Go Native tops the Champion Hurdle market, but there’s been money for Punjabi and Celestial Halo, while being tipped up by Pricewise has seen consistent support for Khyber Kim. Solwhit and Medermit are on the drift.
2.55pm: There’s another fiendish game of Cheltenham Katchphrase up and running.
2.50pm: The Package was finishing like a train, but like most trains it was late and he couldn’t collar Chief Dan George in another thrilling finish.
William Hill Chase result
1st Chief Dan George 33/1
2nd The Package
4th Offshore Account
2.25pm: It’s a Ruby love-in on Channel 4. His mum reveals that he did home economics at school. So not only is he an excellent jockey, but he can make a mean lasagne and balance a household budget as well. What a man.
2.20pm: The William Hill Chase is quite the riddle and The Package is getting sustained support in the betting. Choc Thorton tells Channel 4 he’s got confidence in his mount, Bensalem as you would expect. If only he’d tell us the secret of those voluminous blond locks.
2.09pm: Sizing Europe shows both style and steel to claim the Arkle. It was a wonderful display of jumping while Captain Cee Bee’s untidy round hampered his chances. An Irish win to boot.
Arkle Chase result
1st Sizing Europe 6/1
2.05pm: Wow, they’re not hanging around. The Arkle is off on time.
1.50pm: We’re locked in another epic game of Cheltenham Katchphrase. See if you can nip in to take the £50/€50 Free Bet after all the hard work’s been done.
1.45pm: So all the crazy Dunguib Money-Back Special cost Paddy are a few grey hairs and several sleepness nights. There’s barely time to catch your breath with the Arkle fast approaching. Nothing major to report in the market, but John McCririck’s hat looks spiffing.
1.35pm: There are gusts of relief around the Paddy Power offices because despite cruising up the outside in the closing stages, Dunguib can’t do it. Menorah takes full advantage, narrowly pipping Get Me Out Of Here.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle result
1st Menorah 12/1
2nd Get Me Out Of Here
1.30pm: And away they go! *Big roar*
1.26pm: If I was to draw any conclusions from watching the horses in the parade ring, it’s that they’re all depressed.
1.16pm Yaaayyyyy! Our first Hell Of A Horse of 2010! I knew good old Ted would come good. Dunguib is the Hell Of A Horse in question this time and it’s a doubler for added emphasis!!
1.10pm Twenty minutes to go before all the waiting is over! Dunguib is 10/11 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Some of the main rivals have drifted slightly, but it’s nothing dramatic.
12.52pm: Channel 4 have taken the rather risque step of interviewing Davy Russell in the weighing room. Well, it’s either the weighing room or a support group for anorexic men judging by the number of ribs on show.
12.50pm: Champion Hurdle €“ My Two Cents
Was Go Native easing up or emptying out when he won the Christmas Hurdle at Sandown? He hasn’t said anything either way, so it’s hard to tell with any degree of certainty. With course and distance form, a nice layoff before the big day, he looks like the one to beat. There’s every chance Punjabi will defend his title, but he’s got fishing net form €“ plenty of holes in it. He might well get it right on the day, but he’s a little too sporadic to be comfortable backing. Binocular is a quality horse, but he hasn’t got the knack of getting his neck in front at Cheltenham. It’s a tricky task coming to the unique track first time out and winning so I’d have my doubts about Solwhit. Khyber Kim has got his act together at Cheltenham just in time and it if maintains his recent progress, he's got a great chance. It’s between Go Native and Khyber Kim for me and I’m going to wait and see what the market has to say a bit closer to the race before I stick my neck out. Champion Hurdle Betting
12.39pm: It looks like John McCririck is in the middle of a breakdown on Channel 4.
12.08pm The interweb isn’t all lunatics and pronography. True, a lot of it is lunatics and pornography, but there’s also some useful stuff out there. Oh, to choose a completely random and not at all planned other thing that might be of interest, how about really good horse writer guy, Donn McLean talking about his tips for day 1 of the Festival?
11.57am: William Hill Trophy €“ My Two Cents
I’d like to see Ollie Magern win the William Hill Trophy, but he’s old €“ like Madonna old (although admittedly better looking). This race is really competitive and I’ve spotted about ten horses that have a real chance of winning such an open race. If I’m going to pick the winner in a 24 runner handicap, I’m going to need to get my money’s worth. Nenuphar Collonges was less than a length behind when finishing third in this race last year. He's only carrying three pounds more this time around and although the record shows he was a light year behind Denman on his last run, it earned the joint highest rating he’s ever had. The long break can’t have done much harm and all in all, the looks like a value bet. Famous last words.
11.35am: The first Katchphrase game of the 2010 Festival was a rip-roarer, but in the end it’s Gemma something or other who got it right, correctly telling us that the saying was Diamond In The Rough. Well done, Gemma. We’ll have more Katchphrase in the not too distant future, but if you can’t wait that long for a competition in which you’ve little or no chance of a reward, why not try our Really Difficult Cheltenham Day 1 Quiz?
11.20am Arkle Chase €“ My [self-contradictory] Two Cents
Because I’m in a forgiving mood, I think I’m going to go with Captain Cee Bee in the Arkle. There may be doubts about his jumping after a fall at Leopardstown, but on that occasion he didn’t have a problem with jumping, he had problem with landing. He’s got up the hill before, so we know he handles the course. He ticks all the boxes, which number two in my book. Sombersby did nothing wrong here in last year’s Supreme Novice Hurdle, nothing wrong except win. He was third on that day and I’d expect him to figure in the places this year, just not win. If I am really in a forgiving mood, then you’d think I’d forgive Sizing Europe for a poor display on his last trip to the Cotswolds, but I won’t. I’d keep an eye on Osana as on outside bet. Arkle Chase Betting
10.48am: The action’s hotting up the 1st game of Cheltenham Katchphrase. Hotting up as much as it’s possible for a game on the blog to heat up.
10.45am: Paul Carberry has a great chance of victory and a massive bonus in the Champion Hurdle on Go Native and his sister Nina will fancy partnering Garde Champetre to another win in the Cross Country Chase. There's a good documentary about the remarkable Carberry family on the RTE website which starts off brilliantly with Paul Carberry saying “They say you have to do something mad every day, don’t they. Frighten yourself.” Frighten yourself and the other passengers, eh Paul?
10.32am: And as far I can tell from a combination of the weather thingy on our recently facelifted Cheltenham microsite and the pictures form Cheltenham, the weather is … nice. Kind of sunny with a few of those fluflly clouds that I was supposed to know the name of from 6 years of geography class.
10.26am Rather than concoct outlandish theories, I should probably be doing something more useful, so here goes. The going at Cheltenham for Day 1 is good to soft pretty much everywhere. Well, hopefully not in the bars, that would make things very messy indeed.
10.16am If you touch your mouth or around the mouth area split seconds after you’ve said something, body language experts reckon it’s a sign that you don’t really believe what you’ve just said – i.e. it’s a lie. Paul Nicholls was on Racing UK earlier and he was talking about AP McCoy being a “good jockey”. Then briefly rubbed his nose. Ooooooo! Is it a sign that he doesn’t rate McCoy all that highly? Or a sign he has an itchy nose? I think we’ll go for the itchy nose hypothesis.
10.02am Supreme Novices Hurdle €“ My Two Cents
Dunguib is undoubtedly the star of this generation, but his jumping looks about as solid as a John Terry alibi. Considering the pace the race is likely to be run at and the unforgiving Cheltenham track, I’d be concerned a major blip would give him too much to do. I am expecting a blip and quite possibly one of the major variety. It might have more to do with regular binge drinking, but my memories of horses making a mistake and getting away with it at Cheltenham are few and far between. Equally though €“ and this renders much of what I've written pointless €“ there's no other horse in the race I'd be more confident about being flawless enough to win. Oscar Whiskey hasn't done much wrong so far and I'm sticking my hopes on the admittedly shoddy logic that Cheltenham might bring enough of an improvement out of him to bridge the gulf in class. He looks like the value bet, but Dunguib still looks like the winning bet. Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Betting
9.45am Noel Meade makes an appearance on Racing UK sporting a fetching navy jumper and shirt combination. He also said something about his horses, but I was too busy thinking where I could get such a fetching combo to listen to what he had to say about Go Native in the Champion Hurdle. We’ll just presume everything’s ok because the interviewer didn’t seem all that fussed afterwards.
9.32am: We’ve started our first game of Cheltenham Katchphrase of the day. If trying to figure out who’s going to win the races needs a bit too much logic for your liking, then it’s the perfect antidote.
9.25am: The Morning Line team have left us without opening the Hell Of A Horse account, but they have left us with their bets for the opening day of the Festival:
The Female: Somersby in the Arkle
Jim: Go Native in the Champion Hurdle
Ted: Garde Champetre in the Cross Country Chase
John: Voler La Vedette in the Mares Hurdle
The guy off the Yellow Pages ads: The Package in the William Hill Trophy
Nick: I’m Delilah each way in the Arkle
9.11am Paddy, fresh from raiding an army memorabilia shop, has a few words with John McCririck on the Morning Line. He’s discussing our Dunguib Money-Back Special in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. I think I can hear fried eggs sizzling in the background so it’s also getting chalked up as a Hospitality Sighting.
8.54am: Without wanting to be too harsh on the Morning Line team, they haven’t done much to clear up the picture for the Champion Hurdle. They did manage to find several ways to say ‘it’s a very open race‘, but little that was decisive. Bringing some welcome conclusiveness, Pricewise has gone for Khyber Kim.
8.46am: And in sad news, the world of jockeys has lost one of their own.
8.40am: In keeping with the strange punditry, Jeremy Kyle has written about the Festival in the Sun apparently. Doesn’t seem to be in the Irish version however, but they do seem to have a topless glamour model at Noel Meade’s yard – like you do.
8.29am: And James Nesbitt’s on the panel too?? Sadly I saw The Most Fertile Man in Ireland. He’s clearly not a man to with a flawless record of sound judgement.
8.25am: After a miscalculation that resulted in taking in 20 minutes of the god-awful Everybody Loves Raymond, the Morning Line starts on Channel 4. It looks like a lovely day at Prestbury Park. The show start with a montage of last year’s action with the now legal requirement of a Florence and the Machine song to soundtrack it. Good news for the Hell Of A Horse Total as Ted Walsh is on the panel.
8.12am: We’re going to have our usual range of tomfoolery on the blog over Cheltenham, starting first and foremost with our clearly stolen game, Cheltenham Katchphrase. We’ll have a £/€50 Free Bet for the winner, so hone your skills by looking at last year’s comp. The first game should be kicking off this morning – sorry I can’t be more specific, but I’d say before noon, which is by no means a guarantee.
7.55am: Paddy makes his first appearance on TV of the day, popping up on Sky Sports News. He’s breaking the shocking news that during the day, some people will back one horse, will other people will back other horses. Oddly enough, it’s the most groundbreaking news they’ve ever had on the 24 ad for Sky Sports that is SSN. It’s going down as a Paddy Enjoying Corporate Hospitality Sighting because he’s surely just doing the interview while he’s waiting for his eggs to be scrambled. OHHHHHH matron!