It’s Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham. I’ll bring you all the news, views and sarcastic summaries of all the interviews with jockeys and trainers via my Live Festival Blog. Your tips and snide comments are more than welcome in the comments section below.
We’ll also have the Hell of a Horse Count despite the fact typing ‘count’ repeatedly means I’m only ever one typo away from an instant P45. I’m also doing the Mildly Condescending National Stereotype Count.
– HELL OF A HORSE COUNT: 3
– MILDLY CONDESCENDING NATIONAL STEREOTYPE COUNT: 3
5.35pm: That’s it from me for the Festival. We have new a Champion Chaser, a new Champion Hurdler and a new Gold Cup winner, Nicky Henderson claims Top Jockey and Barry Geraghty, who we had in Power Tower last week wins Top Festival Jockey honours for the second time in his career. The home team dominated the trans-Irish Sea rivalry, but a couple of last day winners boosted the Irish tally of winners.
It was sad to see Kauto Star bow out of his last Gold Cup in such disappointing fashion, but more painful for punters will have been the run of results on the final day. It’s swings and roundabouts and I’m sure better punting days lay ahead. Hopefully better days are also coming for the ‘Hell Of A Horse’ count which averaged less than one a day over the four days of the Festival.
I hope you enjoyed the mix of news and mindless insulting of people I’m tried over the last few days, I certainly enjoyed writing it. From a very relieved Power Tower, good night and good luck.
5.24pm: Nicky Henderson claims the race named in honour of his Dad to put a stylish fedora an amazing week for the trainer. That’s seven winners in total although this certainly wasn’t one to please the punters. Paul Carberry delivers Bellvano late to deny stable-mate, Tanks For That in the shadow of the post. Kumbeshwar claims third with Anquetta holding on for fourth.
Grand Annual Chase Betting
1st Bellvano 20/1
2nd Tanks For That
5.17pm: The Getting Out Stakes is underway … best of luck if you need it.
5pm: 15 minutes to go until the last race of the Festival. I would say they’ve saved the best until last, but that would be a bare-faced lie. It’ll be exciting, but not the highest quality race you’re ever likely to see. It’s the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, it’s going to be a nightmare trying to pick a winner, but The Kid Cassidy is the one being backed to make it a treble on Gold Cup day for Tony McCoy.
4.46pm: A thrilling race, but another result for the bookies as Attaglance pips Toner D’Oudairies. Oscar Nominee claims third and Make A Track claims 4th.
Martin Pipe Hurdle Result
1st Attaglance 20/1
2nd Toner D’Oudairies
3rd Oscar Nominee
4th Make A Track
4.40pm: They’re away in the David Pipe Hurdle …
4.36pm: For a horse that’s supposedly retiring, Paul Nicholls has a pretty concrete plan in mind for Kauto next season. He’s already talking about races next autumn, qualifying it ever so slightly by adding “we’ll wait and see what Clive [Smith] says.” He was full of praise for Ruby’s decision to pull Kauto up not far into the race.
4.29pm: That was Tony McCoy’s second Gold Cup victory after winning on board Mr. Mulligan in 1997 and he’s grateful to a horse who lacks the size of your typical Gold Cup winner. “He doesn’t look like a Gold Cup horse, but as I’ve been told often enough in life, looks aren’t everything. He has the heart at that’s why he won,” he told Racing UK, possibly digging up some painful childhood memories. The idea that he’s merely a muck-savage who needs the bottomless ground has been blown out of the water, not that McCoy is to surprised by that; “I never saw him as being a slow horse who needed soft ground.”
4.18pm: The sight of Noel Edmonds’ garrish shirts tells me it’s about time to switch back to Racing UK. You can catch the last couple of races on paddypower.com by having a small £/€1 bet on each of the last couple of races.
4.11pm: That was one hell of a cool ride from Colman Sweeney. He kept Salisfy out the back most of the way around before pressing go at just about the right time. The heavily backed Chapoturgeon wasn’t far back in second with Oscar Delta in third and our super extra bonus place fourth place went to My Flora.
Foxhunter Chase Result
3rd Oscar Delta
Super Extra Bonus Place 4th My Flora
4.03pm: Sorry, with all the drama I’ve completely ignored the Foxhunter Chase. Best of luck if you had a bet, it’s underway now …
3.50pm: It’s dejection central at the moment on Channel 4. After talking to Sam Waley-Cohen, Channel 4 talk to Clive Smith about Kauto Star. Via Ruby’s post-race assessment, Smith reported that the horse “stretched at the water jump and started to pull up straight away. It must have been from the tumble he had schooling.” Thommo tries to get the scoop on retiring Kauto, but Smith doesn’t bite, saying they were never going to make a decision today. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow so.
3.48pm: Sam-Waley Cohen offers no excuses for Long Run’s defeat. “He ran his race. We’re disappointed, but we have no hard luck story.”
3.40pm: There were more than a few people happy to see AP McCoy deliver Synchronised at the right time, but one Paddy Power customer was more delighted than most. He had Countryside Flame (33/1), Brindisi Breeze (10/1), Alderboork (25/1) and the new Gold Cup champion in a Lucky 15, bagging him a win of over €70,000. A fantastic bit of punting.
3.27pm: Well well well. Where to begin? To call that an eventful Gold Cup is putting it mildly. When Kauto went out early it looked like Long Run would stroll to the defence of his title, but as predicted by Pricewise, Synchronised stayed every inch of the race to upset the champion. It’s well deserved – he’s a true stayer and I hope AP enjoys Vegas. The Giant Bolster ran a big race to grab second with Long Run only getting third. The favourite backers are disappointed yet again, but there were plenty who listened to Pricewise. There’s disappointment for Sir Alex Ferguson as What A Friend went down like Didier Drogba under minimal contact early on.
It was a sad way for Kauto Star to limp out. Events a couple of weeks ago at that schooling session are sure to go under the microscope even further. It was no way to bring the curtain down on a stellar career and a sad footnote on a race that Synchronised would probably have won regardless.
Gold Cup Result
1st Synchronised 8/1
2nd The Giant Bolster
3rd Long Run
3.20pm: They’re away in the Gold Cup …
3.15pm: Long Run now 15/8, Kauto 4/1 for the Gold Cup
3.10pm: Ten minutes to go. Come on Kauto!!
3.03pm: Sure enough, Sir Alex Ferguson has turned up for What A Friend’s big day. He’s hanging around with co-owner, Jed Mason and for some reason, England rugby international and pisser-off of the Royal family, Mike Tindall. Without a referee to add copious amount of extra time to the race, Fergie doesn’t sound as confident as we’ve come to expect from him. He’s “hopeful of a good run” from his maturing horse, but acknowledges the market leaders “are both fantastic horses“.
2.55pm: The big one is nearly upon us. It’s the Gold Cup and the really awful Long Run will be going off as favourite. He’s available at 2/1, the brilliant an much-loved Kauto is a 9/2 shot at the moment and further down the field there has been money for the Pricewise selection, Synchronised who I’m largely indifferent about, even for comedy purposes.
2.51pm: The not-Scottish Thommo just said ‘aye’ whilst interviewing the horse’s actually Scottish owner, Sandy Seymour. That’s going towards the stereotype count.
2.46pm: It’s a bloodbath for favourite backers so far today. The heavily backed Boston Bob can only manage second as Brindisi Breeze makes all to claim the honours. Third was Grand Vision. Thommo asks winning trainer ‘Where are the bagpipes?” which is going down as a mildly condescending national stereotype, albeit not one that was Írish-based.
Albert Bartlett Hurdle Result
1st Brindisi Breeze 7/1
2nd Boston Bob
3rd Grand Vision
2.40pm: They’re away in the Albert Bartlett. After the first couple of result, the punters really need Boston Bob to deliver …
2.22pm: Our roving reporter, Sarah O’Flaherty has been busy at the race-course. She caught up with Mark Brewster and his buddies on Mark’s stag. He’s getting married to Lucy in September and the lads were lucky enough to get their photo taken with Madonna (centre).
2.12pm: Tony McCoy lands his first winner of the week with an excellent ride on Alderwood. He got badly hampered turning into the straight, but he kept him going to provide the punters with another kick in the ass. Edgardo Sol takes second, Sailors Warn finished third, Plan A nabbed fourth and the super extra bonus place fifth goes to Via Galilei who I’m presuming is owned by a syndicate made up of Christian fundamentalists. Desert Cry was a major disappointment for David Moyes. It’s like James McFadden all over again.
Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle Result
2nd Edgardo Sol
3rd Sailors Warn
4th Plan A
Super Extra Bonus Place 5th Via Galilei
2.07pm: They’re away in the Vincent O’Brien Handicap Hurdle at the second attempt … best of luck
2.05pm: Lester Piggott has shown up today. He’s described by the Channel 4 as “a legend in the saddle.” Speaking of legends in the saddle, Russell Brand got arrested yesterday.
1.52pm: I didn’t know David Moyes bought a horse. I know he’s bought a few donkeys, but no horses. Boom boom! He’s part of the NYPD Partnership who have the Donald McCain Jr trained, Desert Cry in the County Hurdle. He’s a 25/1 shot, but there has been some money for him, possibly from footballers with more money than sense. We’ve got a Money-Back Special AND an Extra Place Special on the race which could go a long way to improving the finances at Goodison Park.
1.47pm: It’s hard to pull yourself away from this excellent safety equipment feature on Channel 4, but if you can, it’s worth having a look at the competition we’ve got going elsewhere on the blog. Name that hideous monstrosity for your chance to win a Free Bet.
1.36pm: It’s one for the bookies as Countrywide Flame claims the Triumph Hurdle to a sound as close to silence as your likely to get from a Gold Cup Day crowd. Hisaabaat takes second and the well-backed Grumeti ran out of steam but hung on for third.
Triumph Hurdle Result
1st Countryside Flame 33/1
1.32pm: The Triumph Hurdle gets underway after a messy first attempt …
1.28pm: Ha Ha! A dog wearing a scarf! Brilliant.
1.10pm: Not long to go until the beginning of the end.
Yep – that confirms it – when you say it like that it always sounds like you’re a lunatic predicting the end of the world. What I mean is there’s about 20 minutes to go until the first race of the final day at Cheltenham. The Triumph Hurdle kicks off events and we’re not far off having three-way co-favourites. Who doesn’t like a three-way of a Friday?
12.56pm: I was eating lunch there so I didn’t hear what Barry Geraghty was saying. I presume it was “I’m going to win pretty much every race again today! You can’t stop me, fools” or something to that effect.
12.38pm: There’s a load of bonus prizes and stuff for the final day of our Cheltenham NAPS competition. It’s free to play so forget about your lunchtime Facebook stalking and get picking your winners.
12.35pm: It’s over to Channel 4 for their mix of ‘Watch Out For Bowel Cancer’ ads and horse racing coverage. Do watch out for bowel cancer.
12.29pm: It has been a busy little morning in the Cheltenham markets. Citizenship has been well-backed County Hurdle and is in to 5/1 from 7/1. In the same race Olofi has been trimmed to 9/1 from 10/1. There’s plenty of activity in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Betting with Boston Bob now 5/4 from 6/4. Mount Benbulben is 8/1 from 13/2 which would suggest the public are saying ‘not tonight, mate’ to bouncer lookalike, Gordon Elliot. My suggestion that Sea Of Thunder might win isn’t looking like the shrewdest bit of business and he has drifted badly from 15/2 out to 10/1. Pricewise put up the Grandads Horse as his tip for the Martin Pipe Hurdle and punters have ignored the horse’s crap name and backed him in to 16/1 from 25/1.
12.16pm: Sports betting community site and Mares Hurdle sponsor OLBG.com are giving Paddy a firm ass-kicking. Their #toilettips, put up in the toilets at Cheltenham, have a 100% record – 8 from 8 (48,030/1), with 2 to go! There are so many punters are following their tips on Twitter that #ToiletTips is starting to trend, breaking up all the Justin Bieber and One Direction crap you normally get trending.
12.08pm: Gold Cup Betting Preview
The brains and beauty of the Over The Line team has previewed the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is great – firstly because he knows his stuff and secondly because I don’t have to do it! Here’s his look at the race. For me, the heart says Kauto, the head says Kauto will be very close, but it also says Long Run will be a better horse now than he was at Kempton or even Newbury. The pocket says Burton Port might be worth a bet. He wasn’t a bad horse before his long lay-off, but he looks a better horse after it. He looks like an improving type and he’ll need to improve a lot for this race, but I think he’s a decent each way option.
11.56am: Nicky Henderson and another peach from his fedora collection are on Racing UK. He says pretty much everything you’d expect to hear about Long Run and Burton Port for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. But that wasn’t the main topic of conversation after news that a lad in his yard has won over £1 million with a five horse accum that suggests he may be some sort of genius soothsayer. Cork-born, Conor Murphy placed the bet before Christmas on Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig, Bobs Worth, Finian’s Rainbow, and Riverside Theatre and as we all know now, all five bolted in to give Murphy a nice little boost to his pay packet. “There’ll be padlocks on the yard,” said Henderson before asking Murphy for the lend of a fiver.
11.45am: Ruby Walsh has had to field a lot of questions about the fall Kauto had whilst schooling in the build-up to the Cheltenham so naturally it’s a popular question on Gold Cup day. He says it’s “nothing to worry about. He has jumped brilliantly since.” He was then asked if there were any plans to change the tactics for the challenge presented by Long Run. “You don’t fix something that’s broken,” he replied, except of course that expression which he fixed almost immediately by adding “not broken.”
11.33am: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Betting Preview
Right you now the drill – shameless plug and then some lazy analysis of the race. If your horse finishes second to the SP Favourite in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, we will refund your losing win single stake (check the website sight for the minimal terms and conditions).
The lazy analysis centres around Boston Bob and any justification I can find for not backing him. There isn’t much. He looks like a class horse and he looks like a pretty solid favourite. Just because I think he’s too short a price, I’m going to look elsewhere and that look is in the direction of Sea Of Thunder. He’s only got a couple of pounds to find on the favourite according to the ratings, but he’s got some decent course and distance form. That’s always a big positive in my patented ‘entirely-made-up-and-inconsistent’ betting strategy. He’s ridden by Davy Russell who guided Sir Des Champs to an impressive victory for Team Ryanair yesterday. He’s the ill-advised bet for this the mini-World Hurdle.
11.05am: Quel Esprit has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is ironic because not many had ruled him in. His trainer Willie Mullins said: “Paul Townend wasn’t happy with Quel Esprit when he rode him on the gallops this morning. He said the horse didn’t feel right during routine exercise, so, unfortunately, he won’t be running in the Gold Cup.”
11am: Choc Lemon has been discussing to go for Grumeti instead of Balder Success in the Triumph Hurdle. From what I can tell, he asked the two of them to carry some heavy bags of shopping in from his car and Grumeti was more impressive. “I went for him purely on his physical strength. He’s in real good form and his experience on the flat means the race will suit him. He’s improved throughout the season,” said Choc. Now the horse racing crowd don’t tend to do ‘beefs’, but his comments on rival Pearl Swan were as close to a dig as you’re likely to get. Having beaten Grumeti here in January, he lost the race in the stewards room and Thornton said “Pearl Swan would want to travel better to have a chance in a Triumph Hurdle.’ Zing. Kind of.
10.45am: Tony McCoy is on Racing UK now and he’s talking up Synchronised for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I say ‘talking up Synchronised’, but mainly he’s just talking about how good the terrible Long Run is. “I wouldn’t have too many doubts about Long run. I watched him schooling last week and he looked in good shape to me,” said McCoy before realising he should probably say something nice about his own well-backed horse. “Synchronised is in good shape and he’ll run a big race. He stays very well and Gold Cups are always a huge test of stamina. He carried a big weight in the Welsh National, then won a better race in Leopardstown; he just keeps improving,” is the verdict from AP.
10.35am: There’s already been a fair bit of movement in the Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting. The utterly hopeless Long Run was briefly in to 15/8 before everyone realised he’s a bit crap and moved him back out to 2/1 again. The legend that is Kauto Star, beloved by millions (this impartiality thing is going well, isn’t it?), had touched 7/2 from 9/2, but has eased slightly since and is now 4/1. Plenty of people are doing what Pricewise suggested so there’s money for Synchronised who’s now 10/1 from 14/1. Judging by how many people are willing to do what Pricewise says, it’s lucky he doesn’t set up his own cult. That could get very messy.
10.31am: Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle Betting Preview
There’s more shameless plugging to be done before looking at which ill-advised bet I’m going to do for the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle Betting. If your horse finishes second to the SP Favourite, we will refund your losing win single stake (check the website sight for the minimal terms and conditions). We’re also playing 1/4 ODDS 1-2-3-4-5 PLACES on the race just because we’re desperate for your approval.
Right, that’s my contractual obligation out of the way, so now it’s time to find something that looks like a winner. I was going through this race last night and I came to two conclusions. Firstly, any horse could win this race and secondly, Kat Dennings’ large boobs do not make up for the lack of jokes in the god-awful 2 Broke Girls. I’m going for Local Hero who is a useful horse and has the bonus of a course and distance win to his name. If he was with a more high profile trainer, I reckon he’d be a much shorter price. And if 2 Broke Girls was a horse, I’d send it to the big paddock in the sky at the first available opportunity.
10.15am: Jason Maguire was on board Peddlers Cross as he disappointed in the Jewson yesterday. He says that there was nothing wrong with the horse to explain the performance, he’s just not as good over fences as they thought. He’s got the ride on Weird Al in the Gold Cup today and if you’re thinking about backing him, he made some encouraging noises. “I schooled him the other day and he’s jumping brilliantly. He’s been given a break so he would be fresh coming here and he’ll run a big race,” he explained.
10.06am: I don’t know whether it’s the stamina taking it’s toll, but I always find that on the Friday morning of the Fesitval, there’s a lack of interviews for me to take the piss out of. In the absence of any jockeys mumbling their way through an uncomfortable interview, here’s a few words from Sam Waley-Cohen who rides the terrible Long Run against the brilliant Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
9.55am: Our roving reporter, Sarah O’Flaherty is out and about and she’s got as far as the car-park of the hotel she’s staying at. She has managed to sniff out some big news however and that news is Atomic Kitten are planning a comeback by playing an equine themed after-racing gig.
9.45am: Triumph Hurdle Betting Preview
First and foremost is the shameless plug for the Triumph Hurdle. If your horse finishes second to the SP Favourite, we will refund your losing win single stake (check the website for the minimal terms and conditions). Now to the race itself and the confession that I have absolutely no idea who’ll win it. A lot of the fancies look like they’ve the potential to be really classy horses. Grumeti has been getting a lot of love this week and Choc Lemon’s decision to opt for him over Alan King’s other entry, Balder Success was seen as being significant. There’s not much to separate the market leaders and the element of youth and possibility of sudden improvement brings some of the outsiders in to play. He may dress like a night-club bouncer, but despite his comparative youth, Gordon Elliot knows how to train a horse for Cheltenham and for that reason I’m going for Shadow Catcher in the opening event on Day 4.
9.30am: After masterminding Man Utd’s exit from the Europa League last night, Sir Alex Ferguson is expected at Cheltenham to see his horse, What A Friend not win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Paul Nicholls trained nine-year-old finished a creditable fourth behind Long Run in last year’s contest recorded a solid third-place finish behind today’s hot-favourite Long Run and the well-fancied Burton Port at Newbury. We’re sure our on-course reporter will be annoying him later and given his world-famous love of journalists, we’re expecting some high class grumpiness. It’s his second trip to Prestbury Park of the week after he turned up earlier in the week for a special Cheltenham edition of Ballcrack:
9.20am: Pricewise hasn’t quite been giving the bookies the kick in the ass he has in recent times, but he’s still well worth listening to, especially when someone most likely infringes copyright to give you his tips for free. On an unrelated note, here’s Pricewise’s tips for Day 4 – for free.
He’s going for Olofi in the County Hurdle, Synchronised in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Toner Doudairies and Grandads Horse in the Martin Pipe Hurdle and Slieveardagh. He previously suggested you back Darroun and Dodging Bullets in the Triumph Hurdle
8.54am: I was too busy playing air guitar to type out the Morning Line’s selections for the day. Thankfully the sight of Ray Romano’s moany face has well and truly burst my enthusiastic bubble and calmed me down. The tips are as follows:
Buzz from Home Alone: Chapoturgeon in the Foxhunter Chase
John Francome: Sailors Warn in the County Hurdle and Synchronised in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Ted Walsh: Citizenship in the County Hurdle.
Jim McGrath: Shadow Catcher in the Triumph Hurdle and Lovcen in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
Tanya Stevenson: Fox Appeal in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
Nick Luck: Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
8.51am: Mark Boylan, a true powerhouse in the world of National Hunt-themed songwriting, brings the curtain down on the Morning Line with his latest effort, called Kauto Star. It’s easily the best song about Kauto Star I’ve ever heard.
8.42am: I thought that ‘Where I Stand’ feature was going to be about where some influential people in racing stood on some of the major contests for the day, but no, it was just talking about where someone actually stands to watch the racing. I haven’t been that disappointed since I discovered Peep Show was actually just an off-beat sitcom.
8.39am: Uh-oo – it looks like someone has pissed in Ruby’s cornflakes again. He’s looking angry again, but before he kicked our camera-man in the groin, he gave us his tips for Day 4 of Cheltenham:
8.35am: Trainer, Gordon Elliot, still rocking the ‘club bouncer’ look is briefly interviewed. He says Mountbenbulben in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Shadow Catcher in the Triumph Hurdle are his best chances of having an excuse to crack open the champers later.
8.25am: Dan Skelton reassures everyone over doubts about Kauto Star’s jumping. He admits that it’s normally spot on, but he does occasionally get one wrong – “it’s the law of averages”. That would be reassuring, if it weren’t for the fact there is no such thing as a ‘law of averages’.
8.18am: After an outstanding few days, Barry Geraghty leads the jockey standings and with a few plum rides today, it’s going to take something incredible/impossible for him to be denied the Top Festival Jockey.
8.11am: Lesley Graham is out on the track talking to Clerk of the Cheltenham Course and crap weatherman, Simon Claisse, He gives the going as Good (Good To Soft in places), but with dry weather, he says it could be close to Good all over by the time racing starts. The little slice of the Bahamas never arrived yesterday and today it’s meant to be cloudy, but dry and around 10 degrees.
8.01am: Actually, I’ve been told it’s Dan Skelton, assistant trainer to Paul Nicholls. But you can’t really blame me:
8am: It’s over to the Morning Line where Buzz, the annoying older brother from Home Alone, joins the usual panel.
7.55am: Alex Hammond from Sky Sports News has given her kisses of death for the final day at Cheltenham. She tips up Boston Bob in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Street Entertainer in the Martin Pipe Hurdle.
In my tip for throwing your money away, I would get a mild acid, pour it on some cash and watch as it disintegrates to nothing.
7.44am: Good morning everyone. Thank Crunchie it’s Gold Cup day and in a few hours we’ll know if Kauto Star has completed his remarkable comeback by regaining the Cheltenham Gold Cup for a second time. I’m well and truly on Team Kauto, but hopefully that won’t come across in my live blogging and hopefully I’m remain impartial throughout the day. That useless hairy goat, Long Run is looking to defend the title he was so lucky to have won last year, but with the Nicky Henderson struggling this week, I’d be surprised if he finished within an hour of Kauto.
Er … I might have to work on this ‘impartiality’ thing.
It was pretty straightforward commute this morning – no signs of incest or faint whiff of bodily fluids. That’s as good a start to the day as I’ve had this week so I’m hopeful of having a good day – or at least have slightly less losers than I’ve had on other days.
Feel free to stick your tips, comments and general observations in the comments section and I’ll reply to the best ones and really highlight the shameless compliments ; )