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Cheltenham Festival Day 2 – as it happened

by Aidan Elder | March 13, 2013

Well, the bookies took a beating yesterday. ‘Naomi Campbell’s personal assistant’ levels of a beating. Rumours emerged that Paddy Power spent the night on the sofa, eating sausage rolls, drinking Sunny D and singing ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ to himself. They are of course untrue. They were jambons and bottle of Cadet red lemonade.

Yes, our leader took a bit of a pounding yesterday, but today is a different story. At about dawn this morning, he kicked down the office door (which is wholly unnecessary as Power Tower has the most annoying revolving door in the world), tore open his shirt and shouted ‘HEY MUGGLEFACES! THE BITCH IS BACK! Forbes didn’t call me the 114th most savvy businessman named Paddy in the Greater Dublin area for no reason. Today I’m going to get all that money back. NOW GO OUT THERE AND GIVE IT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!! And someone replace that door’.

It remains to be seen if Paddy gets his wish, but we’re poised for a fascinating and possibly trickier Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival. I’ll be here all day to keep you up to date on all the news, views and snide remarks you need for the day. Feel free to contribute via the comments section or if you’re too fancy for that, give me a shout on Twitter where I’m @MinistryOfGlove.

‘HELL OF A HORSE’ COUNT: 4

‘RANDOM CELEBRITY WITH A TENUOUS LINK TO RACING’ COUNT: 1

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5.30pm: Ha ha! I wish I was too mature to laugh at this. But I really am not.

5.24pm: Willie Mullins tries to break away from his interview with Lydia. He’s clearly in a hurry to get somewhere. To a big pile of money, cocaine and hookers I’m in no way suggesting. I’m sure he’ll celebrate another day of Festival success in his own way, almost certainly without narcotics or prostitutes.

It was a good day for the Irish, but not necessarily one for the punters. Pont Alexandre’s defeat looks like the turning point and after the wipeout of the first day, it’s pretty much level at the halfway point. So rest up tonight and join me back here tomorrow where I’ll be bringing you live text commentary of Day Three of the Festival. Adios.

5.21pm: More success for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins, but this time it’s of the variety that the punters weren’t expecting. Briar Hill wins convincingly and the 25/1 looks huge considering the trainer and jockey’s record of success in the race. Regal Encore is second, Golantilla is third and anyone who backed The Liquidator with Paddy Power gets paid out on him.

Champion Bumper Result
1st Briar Hill 25/1
2nd Regal Encore
3rd Golantilla
Super Extra Bonus Place 4th The Liquidator

5.16pm: They’re off in the lucky last …

5.14pm: Le Vent Dantan has gone 7/1 joint favourite.

5.10pm: Five minutes until the start of the Champion Bumper. Regal Encore is currently favourite at 7/1, but Sgt Reckless, Union Dues, Golantilla and Le Vent Dantan are all 8/1 and any of them could join him at the head of the market. They’re on the way down. The horses, not the prices.

5.05pm: Nicky Henderson in on talking about Sprinter Sacre again. He tells us:

He’s very good looking, but that doesn’t always mean he’s going to win

True, but it does put him in with a good chance of winning Miss Horsey Universe.

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5.02pm: Oh yeah, I nearly forgot about the SHAMELESS PLUG for the Champion Bumper. We’re paying four places in the Champion Bumper and here’s some snazzy artwork confirming that fact.

5pm: CHAMPION BUMPER PREVIEW-ish
I’ve never ever had the winner of the Champion Bumper. I won’t let that put me off. As Beckett said, ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’ That’s apt because I almost certainly will fail again.

I’m a fan of my Cheltenham course form, even when there’s hardly any of it on show and it’s never actually worked out for me. Foolishly ignoring those omens, I’m sticking to my futile guns and going for The Liquidator.

4.52pm: Here’s Ruby Walsh’s preview of the Champion Bumper and his opinion is probably more important than mine.

4.48pm: Ha ha! It’s hard not the like Gordon Elliot. In his interview, he tells Lydia that he wasn’t overly confident when jockey Davy Condon hit the front. And he would have let his jockey know all about it.

I thought he got him to the front too soon. If he got him beaten, Davy would have got a bollocking

4.43pm: And that muted response to the winner of the Fred Winter is partially down to the fact everyone has gone inside for a hot whiskey and partially because that result was about as popular as a kick in the testicles for punters. 25/1 outsider, Flaxen Flare wins it well, Caid Du Berlais gets second, Ptit Zig is third and Milord completes the places. Gordon Elliot gets on the board for this year’s Festival.

Fred Winter Hurdle Result
1st Flaxen Flare 25/1
2nd Caid Bu Berlais
3rd Ptit Zig
4th Milord

4.40pm: They’re away in the Fred Winter …

4.32pm: Great photo of Barry Geraghty guiding Sprinter Sacre over the last in the Champion Chase. You can’t see anyone else in the background because at this point the other horses were roughly wheezing their way over the fourth last.
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4.21pm: FRED WINTER HURDLE PREVIEW-ISH
It’s always a nightmare to pick the winner of the Fred Winter Hurdle. I’m going for Counsel because former Celtic striker, Chris Sutton once shouted ‘go back to your council house’ at me in the street. That’s not a great reason, but it is a true story. Best of luck with whichever horse your dart lands on.

4.15pm: NOEL EDMONDS ALERT! Channel 4 Racing is wrapping up for the day and Deal Or No Deal is coming up. Viewer caution is advised as the show contains scenes of moronic optimism and disturbing images of Noel Edmonds’ beard. I’m switching over to Racing UK to avoid the risk.

4.11pm: Alice Plunkett interviews Medinas’s owners and the husband either tells her ‘you’re better looking on the telly’ or ‘you’re better looking than when you’re on the telly’. It’s a question of which particular version of the back-handed compliment she wants to take.

4.06pm: It was a typically competitive Coral Cup and the near silence as Medinas crossed the finish line should tell you all you need to know about how many people backed Alan King’s outsider. Meister Eckhardt finished second and after nearly two years away from the track Fiveforthree was eye-catching in his valiant third. Master Of The Sea was fourth and our Super Extra Bonus Placed fifth goes to Ericht

Coral Cup Result
1st Medinas 33/1
2nd Meister Eckhardt
3rd Fiveforthree
4th Master Of The Sea
Super Extra Bonus Place 5th Ericht

4pm: They’re off in the Coral Cup …

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3.57pm: CRAP! Forgot my SHAMELESS PLUG for this race.

5 places on the Coral Cup with Paddy Power. Bet now. Betting is brilliant. Paddy Power is great. Do whatever we say etc., etc.

3.54pm: Just over five minutes to go until the Coral Cup. Pendra is the well-backed 6/1 favourite. Abbey Lane is out to 8/1 and there’s been a bit of money for Paul Nicholls’ Black Thunder, even though the Ditcheat team are yet to even place at this year’s Festival.

3.49pm: A horse kicks out and smacks the fence behind Clare Balding and Zara Phillips mid-interview. I’m assuming that he, like me, was just reacting to actually having to listen to the interview.

3.45pm: Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary gets a taste of his own medicine.

O’Leary: Why couldn’t you get Rule The World to the winning post first?
Davy Russell: I said ‘close enough‘ to the winning post. It might require a bus transfer.
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3.39pm: Horses are a lot like humans in many ways. Apart from the extra two legs and all that. Sprinter Sacre’s groomsman throw a bucket of cold water on the horse’s genitals and the horse reacts exactly like you’d expect someone to react when they’ve had cold water thrown on their genitals.

3.35pm: Nicky Henderson seems to rule out the option of going to the Punchestown Festival in April with Sprinter Sacre, but before he gets to the end of his sentence, performs an about turn and decides it’s happening.

3.32pm: Nicky Henderson sounds understandably emotional in the post-race obligatory interview, but even that’s an improvement on the macabre exchange we were just treated to.

3.28pm: Things take a turn for the awkward as the Channel 4 pay a weird sort of tribute to Sprinter Sacre via morbid street. Basically it went:

Ted Walsh: I hope I don’t die soon.
Clare Balding: We hope you don’t die too, Ted.
Ted Walsh: You might die soon, Clare.
Everyone: Errrr …. mumble something about horse racing.

Slightly mental stuff all round.

3.25pm: In the words of the reinvented Kylie Minogue ‘Wow’. Sprinter Sacre does the business and in the process makes a top class horse look very ordinary. Sizing Europe pushed him momentarily, but he went clear. From the saddle, Barry Geraghty sends some pointed comments in the direction of Ted Walsh who hasn’t always been as awestruck as he should be about this absolute machine.

Champion Chase Result
1st Sprinter Sacre 1/4F
2nd Sizing Europe
All 7 ran

3.20pm: The cakewalk begins …

3.14pm: Mick Fitzgerald reminds us not to write off Sizing Europe by medium of clothing analogy.

He’s been here before and he’s got a couple of ‘Festival Winner’ t-shirts

That would only be my second favourite horse t-shirt ever behind this one:
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3.07pm: There’s prize money for the top six in the Champion Chase, meaning only one horse won’t get anything for today’s race. I don’t know if horses have much of a sense of self-esteem, but you’d feel like a pretty fecking useless nag if that was you.

3.01pm: This about the time I normally look ahead to the betting for the feature race of the day, but to be honest, the market for the Champion Chase about as busy as Michael Barrymore’s work schedule. Sprinter Sacre is now 1/4 to complete his expected cakewalk, Mail De Bievre is out to 20/1 and there’s been a bit of each way money for Sanctuaire that brings him into 20/1.

2.53pm: We’re offering 20/1 on Lord Windermere winning the 2014 Gold Cup. Initially I wouldn’t have backed him if you gave me a time machine, but the replays showed the horse wasn’t exactly flat out in the closing stages, so maybe there’s a lot more to come from him.

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2.48pm: It looked to be Boston Bob’s for the taking, but his attempt to walk through the last fence puts paid to his chances. Lord Windermere benefits and gets Jim Culloty his first Festival winner as a trainer. Lyreen Legend gets second and Hadrian’s Approach is third.

The favourite, Unioniste wasn’t that far behind, but he never looked like winning. It’s the horseburger van for him after disappointing so many punters.

RSA Chase Result
1st Lord Windermere 8/1
2nd Lyreen Legend
3rd Hadrian’s Approach
All 11 ran

2.41pm: Every time Simon Holt says ‘takes a tug’ I titter like a schoolboy.

2.40pm: They’re away and running in the RSA Chase …

2.38pm: Unioniste just clattered through the railings. Not a disaster, but not the most encouraging of signs.

2.32pm: I’ve really enjoyed the Festival so far, but you know what it’s missing? A large hot air balloon in the shape of some Paddy Power Lucky Pants. Ah, there we go …
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2.30pm:Ten minutes to go until the RSA Chase. Unioniste and Boston Bob have been vying for favouritism all day long, but it’s battle the Nicholls horse is about to win. Hadrian’s Approach is on the drift, but there’s also been money for Terminal further down the betting.

2.17pm: Sam Twiston-Davies looks far too tall to be a jockey – like he wouldn’t need a footstool to get something down off a high shelf or anything.

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2.11pm: It’s a disappointing defeat for Pont Alexandre and some relief for the bookies as The New One bounded up the hill in impressive fashion. Good news for the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard and my tips. Rule The World claims second for Mouse Morris. The Willie Mullins fairytale suffers a slight bump as the favourite looked beaten before the last.

The Neptune Result
1st The New One 7/2
2nd Rule The World
3rd Pont Alexandre
Non runners Puffin Billy, Sizing Gold

2.05pm: They’re away in the Neptune …

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2.02pm: Ted Walsh gives us a ‘Hell of a novice’ to describe Pont Alexandre. That’s soooooooo counting.

2pm: Jonjo O’Neill trains Taquin Du Seuil and his pre-race obligatory interview wouldn’t have you brimming with confidence about his chances.

1.55pm: 10 minutes to go before the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle and the market tells us that Williemania 2013 is set to continue. Pont Alexandre is now 5/4 to make it a quickfire double and five wins for the Bagnelstown yard, but there’s also been money for The New One who is backed in to 9/2. Chatterbox and Rule The World have also been trimmed while Taquin De Seuil is heading in the other direction.

1.48pm: This was meant to be a pic of people enjoying our horseburgers outside Cheltenham, but it looks more like a ‘get your jacket, you’ve pulled’ scenario for whoever’s in the horse suit.
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1.40pm: The pummeling continues for the bookies as the heavily backed Back In Focus makes it four wins for Willie Mullins at the Festival. Nina Carberry did well to guide Tofino Bay around, but he ran out of juice up the hill and she had to settle for second. Godmejudge got up for third.

National Hunt Chase Result
1st Back In Focus 9/4F
2nd Tofino Bay
3rd Godsmejudge
All 16 ran

Bad luck if you listened to me and backed Rival D’Estruval. Jim McGrath described him as falling when looking tired. I’m less than convinced.

1.37pm: Paddy Power tweeted this about half a second before Scampi Boy hit the deck:

#BlamePaddy

1.30pm: And they’re off … Day 2 kicks off with what sounded like a louder roar than we had yesterday.

1.26pm: They’re down at the post and the jockeys are passing the time by reminding the horses what a fence looks like.

1.20pm: Ten minutes before Day Two gets underway with the National Hunt Chase. Back In Focus has been backed heavily all day long and will go off favourite, but there’s also been money for Highland Lodge, Rose of the Moon and Emperors Choice. Buddy Bolero, Rival D’Estruval and Hawkes Point are drifting like Cuban exiles looking for Florida.

1.13pm: It’s Silly Hat Ladies Day at Cheltenham.
This is an amazing piece of photography. It was taken milliseconds before the pizza base hit her in the head.
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12.55pm: Willie Mullins’ Back In Focus and Pont Alexandre have been all the rage this morning and trying to stop people betting on them is as pointless as telling Piers Morgan to be less of a smug, self-satisfied knob. They’re now 9/4 and 11/8 for the National Hunt Chase and
Neptune Novices’ Hurdle respectively.

12.50pm: BREAKING NEWS Willy Wonka has walked into the Cheltenham police station and reported that his hat has been stolen. Police would like to speak to this woman in connection to the incident.

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12.35pm: Time for Channel 4 Racing at Cheltenham where Clare Balding is making a valiant attempt at pretending she’s slightly less aristocratic than she really is.

12.32pm: Here’s who Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, John Parrott and Graham Chapman think will win on Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival wrapped up in an A4 sized slice of tipping heaven. Print it off, share it around your office, college or convent and enjoy the praise and admiration of your colleagues.

12.14pm: It’s our first random celebrity spot of the day. Jeremy Kyle is on Racing UK and chuckling away. Oh how he chuckles, but in his eyes you can see he’d rather be hurling abuse at a delinquent father. He tips up Nina Carberry’s ride, Tofino Bay in the National Hunt Chase.

12.01pm: CORAL CUP PREVIEW (AND SHAMELESS PLUG)
16/1, 16/1, 14/1, 14/1 – no, I’m not desperately trying to hit my word count by listing prices for no reason, they’re the SPs of the last four winners of the Coral Cup. Like trying to understand Nick Grimshaw’s bizarre popularity, this race is a real riddle.

I had written Fiveforthree off in my early morning look at the card, but Willie Mullins spoke very highly of him earlier on Racing UK and I’m a sucker for a polite middle aged man expressing a moderate level of optimism about a horse winning a race. You rarely see Willie being too forceful about any of his horses, but he’s convinced that after new two years off the track, his horse will be back to close to his best. I’m prepared to buy that for a dollar and if you add it to his course form, he’s hard to ignore. It’s a toughie, but here’s a SHAMELESS PLUG to help you out:

11.50am: Keep an eye out for this if you’re hungry and at Cheltenham today. If got a feeling they’ll be serving a few of my selections as the day goes on.

blog_horseburger-van

I asked our PR guy, Feilim where the van was set up so I could better direct you to its location and he told me:

Evesham Road or some shite like that!

PR folks – this guy earns his living in PR.

11.36am: CHAMPION CHASE PREVIEW
Sprinter Sacre. Enough said.

If I’m feeling greedy a little later – and I probably will be – I’ll put him in a straight forecast with Sizing Europe grasping at his coat-tails at 11/8. The former Champion Chaser is still a top quality animal in good form, so he might get closer than many are expecting. I’m going to go for Sprinter Sacre to win by upto and including eight lengths at 15/8 (click on the ‘Distance’ tab).

11.33am: WTF!!!??? Did Brough Scott just describe Sprinter Sacre as ‘a very sexual horse’? I know he’s into his racing, but I don’t think he’d ever go that far. Maybe he said ‘exceptional horse’.

11.30am: If you’re wondering who to bet on for Day Two Cheltenham, why not watch this video and let Henry Kelly, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and a monkey be your guiding light.

11.19am: On a related note, could someone with Photoshop make David Pipe a better Twitter wallpaper please? Unless he’s deliberately going for the ‘mid-90s website’ look.

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11.14am: David Pipe is delighted about the warmer weather and no doubt my ill-logical endorsement of Goulanes.

11.05am: RSA CHASE BETTING PREVIEW
Most of the talk for the RSA Chase revolves around Boston Bob and Unioniste, but it’s really not that straightforward. Even the supposed no-hopers have snippets of form that make them have to completely write off. My short-list looks surprisingly like the race-card.

I like Houblon Des Obeaux, but this is his seventh run of the season and that’s a minor concern. I’ve a weird feeling in my stomach about Goulanes. That may because I had a dinner of Mega Meanies and tea for dinner at about midnight last night but it may also because I think David Pipe’s horse is a gutsy type who doesn’t know when he’s beaten. I reckon he’s one of those horses who’ll rarely look impressive, but tends to be involved in the closing stages. With just one racecourse run over fences, he’s open to improvement and that’s all the fuzzy logic I need to lump on.

10.50am: As a committed scarf-wearer (that sounds more like 1960s slang for being gay than I was intending) I’m always conscious of the dangers of the ‘groin area hang-down’ as it can look like you’re rather ‘unkempt’ around that general area, especially when you’re wearing light coloured pants. clearly it’s not something Willie Mullins is too bothered by.

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10.34am: Willie Mullins is getting an awkward interview on Racing UK right about now. He says pretty much what you’d expect about Back In Focus, Pont Alexandre before skilfully sidestepping a question about his best chance in the Champion Bumper. Perhaps his most interesting words were reserved for Fiveforthree who goes in the Coral Cup. Despite being off the track for two years, but Willie is surprisingly bullish about his chances of a winning return.

He’s done nothing wrong at home. He’s a little older than you’d expect a Coral Cup winner to be, but he’s got very few miles on the clock. When I saw his handicap rating, sending him to this race was a no-brainer

10.25am: We haven’t seen much of the charming Nina Carberry at this year’s Festival thanks to the postponement of the Cross Country Chase. She’s in action today however with a ride on Tofino Bay in the National Hunt Chase. From her pulpit in the Irish Daily Star, she tells us:

He’ll run a good race. His form is rock solid and he has a good each way shout

Without knowing her too well, I reckon that’s Nina-speak for ‘don’t count on it’.

10.18am: We’ve our second Non Runner in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. Puffin Billy was already missing out after running yesterday, but now Henry de Bromhead has withdrawn Sizing Gold.

10.14am: YAAY! We’ve got our first photo of Day Two at Cheltenham. It’s either a very elaborate shadow puppet or a very lame photo from someone trying to get ‘arty’.
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10.04am: Yes it’s a corporate plug, but it’s one that won’t cost you any money. Enter our NAPS competition – it’s free and there’s big prizes to be won.

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10am: It’s that time of the morning when I stick my e-finger in the a-air to see which way the wind is blowing when it comes to the early money.

Back In Focus has been strongly supported for the National Hunt Chase and he’s 11/4 now after we had him at 7/2 earlier. There’s been money for Hadrian’s Approach in the RSA Chase, with Boston Bob drifting out to 9/2 from 4/1. Counsel has got a few mentions already this morning and he’s now 12/1 for the Fred Winter Hurdle after being 16/1 earlier.

9.53am: Ha ha! Yep, this one doesn’t really live up to previous standards:

9.48am: If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a PR man with a questionable taste in denim at the Cheltenham Festival, then this is for you. Feilim Mc An Unpronounceable treats us to a day in the life (and several pints) at the Festival (pubs).

9.37am: NEPTUNE NOVICES’ HURDLE PREVIEW
It’s time to over analyse the shit out of some races on Racing UK, so as some sort of balance, it’s time for me to totally under-analyse some races. It’s the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle and apparently Pont Alexandre just needs to turn up to win it.

I normally rail against the stuff that gets spewed from the hype machine, but the way Ruby Walsh was raving about Pont Alexandre when we had him in Power Tower last week is making me lap it up. He looks the best horse in the race and I think he’ll win, but as I don’t get paid very much, I need a bigger price for my 50 cent each way. Luckily, with a course and distance win to his name, The New One ticks my deliberately argumentative boxes. The ratings say he only has two lengths to find on the market leader and I think the problems in the Twiston-Davies yard may be coming to an end. He gets the nod with a small interest in Chatterbox from last week when I drunkenly saw the 1-11 beside his name and thought the world was a bit mental for not raving about him.

9.31am: It’s over to Racing UK where they’ve stopped re-running yesterday’s racing and they’re live for Day Two.

9.26am: This is a truly shocking picture from Cheltenham yesterday.
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No, not because some random security guy seems to be telling a member of the Royal Family that she cannot pass, more because Mike Tindall doesn’t have his head buried in the cleavage of that fox in the left foreground.

9.07am: NATIONAL HUNT CHASE PREVIEW
Yeah, I get about four minutes into Frasier before I’m struck by the compulsion to start pulling out my fingernails. Time to badly preview some Cheltenham. First up, it’s the marathon four mile trip of the National Hunt Chase.

It’s more open than a ‘who hates Justin Bieber the most’ competition around the Paddy Power ofices. With so many doubts about horses staying the distance, I’m going for Rival Destruval, ridden by legendary amateur rider, Derek O’Connor. You couldn’t rule out too many in this one with any degree of confidence. If I was backing based on the most amusing name, I’d go for Scampi Boy. Amusing, but not a nickname that proves too popular with the ladies. Trust me.

9.02am: Ha ha! Frasier has to take his son on a camping trip in an attempt to bond with him. Oh – that’s not going to sit well with Frasier’s pampered ways. Classic ‘duck out of water’ stuff! Can’t wait to see how this one pans out.

8.50am: The Morning Line finishes properly this time and the team leave us with their tips for the day that probably won’t win.

Nick Luck
He had success with Hurricane Fly yesterday and he’s giving himself a good chance today by going for Rule The World in the National Hunt Chase and Crack Away Jack in the
Coral Cup.
Jim McGrath
Jim plumps for Back In Focus in the National Hunt Chase.
Tanya Stevenson
Two picks for Tanya – Houblon Des Obeaux in the RSA Chase and Orsippus in the Coral Cup.
Mick Fitz
Mick is banking on a Mullins double with Back In Focus in the National Hunt Chase and Pont Alexandre in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.

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8.40am: Time for my first contractual obligation of the day, but sit tight because I’ll be insulting somebody very shortly no doubt. At 7/2, we’re best price on Back In Focus for the National Hunt Chase. Get if while you can because the red hot Mullins yard is likely to get strong support this morning.

8.35am: And the Morning Line comes to a close and it’s over to Seattle for the middle class faffings of Frasier and his pernickity brother Niles. No wait, that’s Nico de Boinville.

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8.24am: Ruby Walsh talks to Sam Thomas briefly. He had to pick between Unioniste and Boston Bob in the RSA Chase. He opted for Paul Nicholls’ Unioniste, but he’s telling people not too read too much into that.

I haven’t figured out a way to ride two horses at once, so I had to make the choice

Come on Ruby – two horses at once: it’s not THAT difficult. You could even set a hurdle on fire;


8.20am: Tanya Stevenson of the Morning Line team tells us that her former colleague, John McCririck is doing well and wishes him all the best for his recovery. That’s a nice touch. Not as nice a touch as actually let him keep his job, but nice nonetheless.

8.14am: Mick Fitz is talking to Sizing Europe’s trainer, Henry de Bromhead who looks about as comfortable with a microphone in his face as Ricky Martin is with a pair of boobs in his face. He says some of the following about his Champion Chase hope:

He’s better than ever. We know he stays, he goes on anything. He’s effective whatever the ground. Who is this strange man and why is he asking me questions?

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8.10am: OH WOW! Ten past eight and we’re already on three ‘Hell of a Horses’. Ted is really going for it, using his go-to phrase to describe Cheltenham absentee, Flemenstar.

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8.08am: Quiet everyone – an old man is talking. Ted Walsh walks us down Memory Lane and gives us a double ‘Hell of a Horse’ – first talking about the great Flyingbolt and then about former Champion Chaser, Sizing Europe.

8.04am: Simon Claisse is motoring through his media duties, telling Mick Fitz exactly what he told Alex Hammond about ten minutes ago – it’s Good to Soft (Soft in places). Mick also provides us with our first amusing ‘Carry On’ moment of the day, asking the clerk of the course

Were you pleased with what you saw when you got up this morning?

7.58am: It’s over to the Morning Line on Channel 4 where Mick Fitzgerald is standing on the bin bags.

7.54am: In more weather stuff, we’re hoping for a better day at Prestbury Park. Or at least get no snow. It promises to be slight better today. We’ll hit the heights of six degrees Celsius today. Toasty. Yes, I know that’s a map of Germany in the background of the below picture, but you’d be surprised how many people won’t even notice there’s any map at all in the picture.

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7.52am: Clerk of the course, Simon Claisse is on Sky Sports News, he gives the going at Cheltenham as Good to Soft (Soft in places).

7.45am: It’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘how much will they crush them by?’ in the Champion Chase. Sprinter Sacre is currently 2/7 to win the race, so it’s worth looking at the winning distances betting. Mark ‘The Couch’ Winstanley’ says Nicky Henderson’s star ‘will win by the length of Cheltenham High Street’. I’ve not been to Cheltenham High Street, but I’m guessing that’s by 30 Lengths or More, which is a 12/1 shot.

Mouse Morris looking unexcited (pic: Inpho)

Mouse Morris looking unexcited (pic: Inpho)

7.33am: In his Irish Daily Star column, Davy Russell has been waxing lyrical about his ride in a wide open National Hunt Chase, Rule The World. “Mouse has been telling me all year he’s a little bit special and after partnering him on four occasions, I’m beginning to agree,” he said, before sharing perhaps slightly too much information:

Mouse Morris is not a man that gets excited easily

Well, after all these years, I’m sure his wife knows precisely what she needs to do to get the ball rolling.

7.22am: Time to save you precisely €2.70/GB£2.00. He didn’t have the best of days yesterday, but Pricewise is never out of form for too long. For today’s selections, he’s going for Un Beau Martin and Abbey Lane in the Coral Cup. He’s selected Rose of the Moon as the value bet in the National Hunt Chase. Bordoni and Flaxen Flare are the picks in the Fred Winter Hurdle and Shield is his choice in the ever tricky Champion Bumper.

7.17am: ‘QUICK NURSE – I NEED A SILLY HAT – STAT’
I missed this yesterday, but apparently John McCririck was taken to hospital yesterday after falling ill at the racecourse. The cause was later revealed to be ‘catching a glimpse of what he was wearing in the mirror’. Maybe. He’s not my favourite badly dressed racing pundit, but get well soon.

John McCririck taken ill at Cheltenham (pic: Daily Mail)

John McCririck taken ill at Cheltenham (pic: Daily Mail)

7.08am: They’ve had the inspection at Cheltenham this morning and racing goes ahead. YAAAYYY! That’s news to me because I didn’t think they were inspecting for another hour or so.

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