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Cheltenham Day 3 as it happened

by Aidan Elder | March 14, 2013

Last night we heard the words ‘Habemus Papam’ and today we’ll ‘habemus new champion staying hurdler‘ – which is far more important. It’s day three of the Cheltenham Festival and with Big Buck’s not around to record another cakewalk to victory, we’re left with one of the most competitive renewals we’ve since the days when Justin Bieber was some twat who uploaded videos of himself to YouTube as opposed to now being just some twat.

Despite Sprinter Sacre’s rout in the Champion Chase, yesterday was one for the bookies and that was evident this morning when Paddy Power buttered his toast with caviar and the tears of the dodo for breakfast. Plus he washed it down with a bucket of champagne made from dolphin wee. Which, in fairness probably tastes better than most champagnes.

It’ll be another tricky day for finding winners and indeed good jokes, but I’m nothing if not a prick and I can mask my lack of wit and winners by slagging some people off. 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: 1

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

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6.06pm: Well that’s your lot for the day. Best wishes, of course, to JT McNamara who was airlifted to hospital. Aidan will be back at it first thing tomorrow morning.

Cross Country Handicap Chase Result
1st Big Shu 14/1
2nd Shakervilz 20/1
3rd Arabella Boy 6/1
4th Bostons Angel 9/1

5.59pm: After a long, long wait Big Shu wins the Cross Country Handicap Chase.

5.50pm: And they’re off!

5.49pm: After an interminable wait we have a false start. Of course we do.

5.47pm: The Cross Country awaits medical cover after two bad falls today. Davy Russell is definitely off Sir Deschamp in the Gold Cup, rumours abound that AP McCoy will take the ride. 

5.41pm: Aidan had to go so I, Rob, am here to let you know when the last race goes off.  I’ve been warned not to do anything else like trying and be funny or clever.

5.32pm: You may have noticed some artwork on Hunt Ball’s hindquarters in the Byrne Group Plate at 4pm, and if you didn’t, here it is:

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Yeah, well it turns out the BHA isn’t as mad about it as we thought they’d be:

We’ll update when we know more…

5.30pm: The Cross Country Chase will start at 5.40pm.

5.21pm: There’s worrying scenes as an air ambulance arrives at the racecourse for JT McNamara. Our best wishes and prayers go out to him. We can often get complacent about the contribution the jockeys make to the Festival, especially after a few results don’t go our way, but these people put themselves in the line of immense danger every time they get into the saddle. They make the sport what it is and it’s should be impossible to overstate the enormous gratitude we owe them for their bravery.

5.16pm: There’s time to kill and what better way to kill it than with a non-committal interview with Henry de Bromhead. Sizing Europe is fine after watching Sprinter Sacre’s arse disappear into the distance and Punchestown is the plan. Now he’s talking tactics for the Cross Country Chase which is kind of like making plans for a trashing around a bouncy castle.

5.07pm: We’ve had to wait a while for the Cross Country Chase and we’ll have to wait a little longer. There’s a delay for an unspecified reason.
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In the betting, it’s all about Arabella Boy who has been backed in to 5/2. Pricewise picked Sacree Tiepy on Tuesday and that horse is in to 9/1.

5.01pm: An interesting rumour from the BBC’s Cornelius Lysaght about tomorrow’s Gold Cup jockey arrangements:

4.55pm: There’s a bit of confusion, but I’ve been told to tell you that we’re refunding on Mad Moose who ran in the Byrne Group Plate. Well, technically he didn’t run, he refused to race, but some Scrooge McBookmakers are counting it as a loser rather than refunding.

Obviously we’re nice people and generally all round heroes, so we’re refunding.

4.54pm: Hull comes in for a bit of a battering on Racing UK for some unknown reason. Oh wait – it’s crap – that’s the reason.

4.48pm: And you’re in clover if you back horses based on the name of shit X Factor bands who are probably back working in McDonald’s at this stage. Same Difference gets his nose in front in a thrilling battle up the hill with Super Duty. Nina Carberry got Romanesco close, but not close enough for third and Alfie Sherrin was fourth. The top three in the betting finished in the top four, but as the outsider held on, it’s another one for the bookies. It’s also another Festival win for Nigel Twiston-Davies who hopefully didn’t miss it due to a badly timed toilet break.

Kim Muir Chase Result
1st Same Difference 16/1
2nd Super Duty
3rd Romanesco
4th Alfie Sherrin

4.40pm: They’re off in the Kim Muir …

4.30pm: My computer is playing up so here’s my slightly abridged preview of the Kim Muir Chase:

The Kim Muir is on in about 10 minutes.

4.22pm: Venetia is on TV again *swoon*

4.19pm: It’s over to Racing UK for me as the alternative is Noel Edmonds acting like a ‘cosmic ordering’ tit.

4.15pm: LOLZ and all that crap! Brilliant stuff from Venetia Williams! She takes the chance to remind Clare of her comments after Treadwell won the Grand National on board Mon Mome (which seems to have been removed from YouTube for some suspicious reason).

It’s because of you Clare. Now he’s got his model looks

*SILENCE*
*INTERVIEW ENDS ABRUPTLY*

I think I’m getting the first stirrings of a Mrs. Robinson style crush.
On Venetia, not Liam I should point out.

4.13pm: Alice Plunket’s choice of hats all week has been as suspect as my tipping, but she’s surpassed herself with this one. It’s like there’s a morris dancing hedgehog stuck to it FFS.
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4.08pm: Another one for the bookies on what is turning into to bloodbath for punters. Great news for fans of an awkward interview. however as Liam ‘now you’ll be able to get your teeth fixed’ Treadwell will go head to head with his dental nemesis, Clare Balding. Carrickboy wins, Vino Griego is second, Tartak finishes third and Hunt Ball runs admirably under top weight to get a place.

Byrne Group Plate Result
1st Carrickboy 50/1
2nd Vino Griego
3rd Tartak
4th Hunt Ball

4.01pm: They get away at the second attempt …
Mad Moose proves to be accurately named and refuses to race.

4pm: False start in the Byrne Group Plate. Still though, it could be worse. You could be bleeding from the nose.

3.58pm: Cantlow is confirmed as a non-runner.

3.56pm: Apparently bleeding from the nose is ‘no biggie’, which I assume is a veterinary term I’m not familiar with. Ted Walsh is the voice of reason saying:

I might be a bit of a coward, but if I saw blood coming from my horse’s nose, I’d pull him out

3.54pm: Cantlow is bleeding from the nose apparently. I’m no horse whisperer, but that’s not a good sign to me.

3.51pm: Asking Anthony Knott ‘what have you been doing today?’ – dangerous.

3.48pm: It’s revealed that Paul Carberry’s nickname is Alice due to his karaoke party piece being the infamous Alice by Smokie. Given his love for on-air swearing, Ted is about to launch into the chorus, but he’s stopped moment before the Broadcasting Standards people pull the plug on Channel 4 Racing forever. If you’re too young, ask your parents or alternatively watch this video:


3.45pm: 15 minutes to go until the Byrne Group Plate. Ballynagour has been well backed all day long as has Cantlow as AP McCoy tries to break his 2013 Festival duck. Hunt Ball is in to 8/1 and some other stuff has happened, but it’s not that interesting so carry on living your life.

3.35pm: HA HA! Ted gives us a lovely bit of on-air swearing in his effusive praise of Paul Carberry’s horsemanship.

Paul Carberry is the most naturally talented jockey of his generation. I don’t give a shit what anyone says

Clare mumbles awkwardly and apologies for the ‘fruity language’. Ted doesn’t really give a shit.

3.31pm: And the debate about Oscar Whisky’s stamina will rage on – although he was so disappointing, the debate will now be if he stays two miles, let alone three. He never looked to be travelling and it would be no surprise to hear something has gone amiss with him.

3.28pm: Great stuff from Solwhit to win the World Hurdle as Oscar Whisky disappoints dramatically. It was a strange race and Celestial Halo ran a blinder to claim second and Smad Place – who was widely tipped up as a banker for a place – does the business to finish third.

World Hurdle Result
1st Solwhit 17/2
2nd Celestial Halo
3rd Smad Place
All 14 ran

3.21pm: The race has started, but no-one is actually moving …

Bizarre start due to nobody wanting to make the pace.

3.17pm: Spontaneous punctured lung, spontaneous combustion – does anything good ever happen spontaneously? What chance a ‘spontaneous Justin-Bieber-sucked-into-the-earth’s-core never to be seen again’?

3.15pm: The monkey keeps coming for Oscar Whisky. He’s in to 5/2 for the World Hurdle

3.11pm: Channel 4 Racing bringing you all the big stories from Cheltenham:

I really like horses

says one random blonde bombshell bookie.

3.10pm: Oscar Whisky now into 11/4 for the World Hurdle

3.05pm: With not long to go, there’s plenty of activity in the World Hurdle market.
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Despite the stamina concerns, Oscar Whisky is backed into 3/1 and some late money sees Smad Place trimmed to 8/1. Bog Warrior is also 8/1

3.01pm: Clare Balding is talking to former England rugby international, Mike Tindall and he resists the temptation to stick his head in her cleavage. Honest Zara – here’s the evidence:

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2.56pm: Oh! This is really embarrassing picture for your man. I’m sure he’s going to get slagged for many years to come for this. Imagine getting caught on camera taking your lunch into Cheltenham in a cheap plastic bag!
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2.51pm: Colin Tizzard gives a masterclass in humble celebration in conversation with Balding. It’s a very nice trait, but I think we’d all prefer if he started thumping his chest and shouting ‘WHO’S THE DADDY!! CHOKE ON THAT CUE CARD HATERS. MY BOY KICKED YOUR MOTHER FUNKIN ASSES’

2.47pm: Cue Card wins the Ryanair in style and yet again favourite backers are left more deflated than Davy Russell’s punctured lung. Some sketchy jumping from First Lieutenant made life difficult for the favourite, but it’s hard to know if he would have won with better jumping. For Non Stop finished third.

Ryanair Chase Result
1st Cue Card 7/2
2nd First Lieutenant
3rd For Non Stop
All 8 Ran

2.40pm: No-one has bothered to pay extra for Priority Starting, so they’re all off together …

2.36pm: “Two superstars” are the words Clare Balding uses to describe Leo McGarvey from Ballykissangel aka James Nesbitt and legendary football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

‘Two superstars’ she said. Two.

2.29pm: Davy Russell has been stood down for the day and will miss his plum ride on First Lieutenant in the Ryanair Chase. Bryan Cooper, who won the Jewson about an hour ago, takes the ride.

2.27pm: It’s a shame when a truly beautiful and picturesque scene is spoiled by an eyesore.

Like in this picture, where all those stupid hills and trees are ruining the scene as our majestic Lucky Pants balloon takes flight.

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2.12pm: The danger of pointless hype machine strikes again and it’s one for the bookies. From about two and seven eighths miles out Sam Winner never looked like winning that and Holywell takes full advantage. Captain Sunshine comes with a late burst to take second, Jetson was third and Shutthefrontdoor ran out of steam a bit up the hill, but held on for a place. If you followed my tip, we got a big run for our money from 40/1 shot, Bertie’s Dream, but he looked legless in the closing stages and got bumped out of the places.

The Pertemps Hurdle Result
1st Holywell 25/1
2nd Captain Sunshine
3rd Jetson
4th Shutthefrontdoor

2.06pm: They’re away in the Pertemps after some shouting from an angry starter …

2.02pm: Tom Scudamore has been handed a two day ban for using the whip with excessive force on Dynaste in the first. Fat lot of good it did him.

1.58pm: Sam Winner and American Trilogy trainer, Paul Nicholls is being interviewed by Alice and the Champion Trainer is exuding all the confidence you’d expect from a man wearing a magnificent tweed jacket. He thinks Sam Winner is quids in.

I think we’ve got a nice chance. You have to say he’s well handicapped.

1.50pm: 15 minutes to go until the Pertemps Hurdle. Sam Winner is 4/1, Shutthefrontdoor has been backed in to 6/1, Jetson has been in-out-in-out shake it all about and is now 9/1. Captain Sunshine has been well supported as is 14/1 from 25/1 and Stonemaster is also 14/1.

1.39pm: Clare Balding is trying to interview winner trainer, Tony Martin, but the amount of hugging going on is making it difficult. A excitable older gentleman with a goatee takes control of the interview almost being audible. ‘Lucky’, ‘best’ and ‘heart’ are some of the words I can make out, but not much else.

1.36pm: The favourite gets chinned in the first. Dyanste looked to have the race at his mercy as they turned for home, but he didn’t have as much in the tank as his casual style suggested. Benefficient came strongly after the last, Dynaste was second and finishing third and best of them all was Changing Times.

The Jewson Chase Result
1st Benefficient 20/1
2nd Dynaste
3rd Changing Times
All 13 ran

1.30pm: They’re off in the Jewson …
Bit of a half-arsed roar from the crowd, but we’ll let them off this time.

1.27pm: They’re down at the start and reminding the horses what a fence looks like.

1.20pm: Ten minutes to go until the Jewson Novices’ Chase and Dynaste will go off the heavily backed favourite, but there’s also strong support for Captain Conan who is now 5/1 from 13/2. Marito has been backed to spring a shock is now 12/1 from 20/1.

1.17pm: Henry Kelly and the lads (and monkey) kind of mark your card for World Hurdle day:

1pm: Leprechaun flashers. Neither snazzily dressed nor good at remembering to get naked:
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12.53pm: WORLD HURDLE PREVIEWAND SHAMELESS PLUG
‘Oscar Whisky is the champion staying hurdler.’
Having watched him repeatedly prove himself to be a teeny, tiny bit below top class for the last few Festivals, there’s something about Nicky Henderson’s charge that doesn’t sit right with me. Kind of like the newly appointed head of the Catholic Church being called Pope Frank. It just doesn’t sound right.

I’m firmly in the Oscar Whisky doesn’t stay camp so I’ll be opposing him for the feature race of day three. The problem is figuring out who the best option to represent that opposition is. Reve De Sivola has obvious claims, but Bog Warrior has looked good since going bad to the hurdles. Officially the ground has gone against him, but some of the jockeys are saying the ground is ‘deader’ than the description suggests. Hmmmm – a questionable chaser suddenly showing the aptitude to become a top class staying hurdler – where have we heard that one before? There’s a bit of value in banking on a slice of history repeating itself.

On a separate note, I’m also thinking of going with Calor Gas. That’s quite the convincing ad.

12.46pm: IMPORTANT NEWS ALERT! The Cross Country Chase happening and the going has been changed to good to soft (good in places).

12.42pm: Barry Geraghty is talking to Clare and Mick Fitz and he’s still looking starry eyed after yesterday’s brilliant win on Sprinter Sacre. Today his big ride is Oscar Whisky in the World Hurdle and having spoken to him last week, he’s been banging the ‘he does stay’ drum so it’s no surprise to hear him stick to the script.

12.36pm: It’s over the Channel 4 for the afternoon’s coverage where Clare Balding is trying out what it feels like to be a homeless person by hanging out down at the train station.

12.32pm: Michael Owen has given his tips for today and he’s worth listening to as he’s a man with A LOT of spare time to study the form. It won’t surprise many to see he’s going where the money is.

12.14pm: Chris Kamara on Racing UK. Shamelessly promoting Guinness. That’s probably not the brand the bookmaker that pays him money wanted him to shamelessly promote.

I’m going for some what the Paddy Power canteen optimistically calls ‘food’. If I’m not back in 10 minutes, bring my laptop and a WiFi dongle to the toilet cubicle.

12.02pm: RYANAIR CHASE PREVIEW AND SHAMELESS PLUG
Unlike actually catching one of their flights, the Ryanair is one I’m really looking forward to. Pretty much all the runners have a squeak and some good Cheltenham form to go on. I have no logical reason for opposing First Lieutenant, but I’m going to look elsewhere just to make myself look like a loner maverick.

I like Albertas Run. I know he’s 12 years old and in horsey years that’s old enough to remember when Madonna wasn’t a just a bag of bones. He hasn’t run since Aintree last year so it’s hard to know how he has aged, but based on his most recent rating, he’s one of the best horses in the race. He obviously handles Cheltenham and if he can run anywhere near to the mark he earned 11 months ago, he’ll be a factor in the race. I’m going for him as (a) I love a good old-fashioned fairytale that probably won’t happen and (b) he offers some each way value.

11.49am: If you need your fill of Cheltenham Day 3 Tips and grammatically suspect sentences, then check out our Thursday Cheat Sheet featuring Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh, John Parrott and Matt Chapman.

11.31am: Just a word of warning about a potential typo. If you happen to be typing out Shut The Front Door, be very careful. The ‘u’ key is dangerously close to the ‘i’ key and what may have been intended as a helpful tip, may in fact be received as an ominous threat to someone’s front porch.

11.29am: It’s great to see Toad from Mario Kart making it to the Festival today.
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11.11am: It’s a bit later than normal, but after checking Facebook, I’m ready to do this.
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Jewson Novices’ Chase
Money for Dynaste who is now 6/4. Aupcharlie (AY UP Charlie and not OOOPCharlie in a bad French accent as I was saying) is out to 6/1 from 11/2. At bigger prices, Marito is in to 16/1 from 25/1.

Pertemps Hurdle
It’s been busy so far and the money tells us Sam Winner is fancied. He’s now 9/2 from 5/1 earlier. Pricewise bigging up Stonemaster has seen the price get chopped from 22/1 to 16/1 and Captain Sunshine has been back in to 16/1 from 25/1, possibly because he has a cheerful name.

There’s not a whole lot happening in the Ryanair Chaseapart from a drift out to 12/1 from 9s for Albertas Run.

World Hurdle
At the top of the betting, both Oscar Whisky and Reve De Sivola have rifted alarmingly. They’re now 9/2 (from 7/2) and 6/1 (from 9/2) respectively. Get Me Out Of Here is also out, in his case from 7/1 to 9/1. There’s some money for Smad Place who was 11/1 earlier, but is now 9/1.

There’s nothing hugely significant happening yet in the other three races today and I’m not just saying that because my pencil-pusher fingers are getting tired from all this typing.

11.02am: It looks like Zara Phillips had the time of her life at Cheltenham yesterday. Guess which one of the group got to the fake tan first when they were getting ready.

(pic: Marie-Claire)

(pic: Marie-Claire)

10.48am: Not the most of encouraging words from Nicky Henderson if you were thinking Oscar Whisky was going to win the faint praise that will come from winning the Big Buck’s-less World Hurdle. There’s been a lot of discussion about the horse’s ability to stay and his trainer isn’t dismissing the concerns.

It’s a question of does he or doesn’t he stay. Two and a half miles is his optimum trip, there’s no doubt about it, but he has to try. We have to accept what happened last year, but he wouldn’t have won at two and a half that day.

10.33am: PERTEMPS HURDLE PREVIEW AND SHAMELESS PLUG
I’ve got a crazy theory. It’s not as crazy as my theory that if I only got to meet ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ Britney Spears once, I could charm her into marrying me (or at the very least get a handjob), but it’s not far off. Here it is in all it’s ‘getting to third base with a megastar’ glory.

Bertie’s Dream has a great chance in this race. Yes, you wouldn’t guess that from his odds of 40/1 or the fact he was beaten by a combined distance of 126 lengths in his last two races, but I’m conveniently reasserting my ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to Cheltenham form to suit my argument. He won the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at the Festival back in 2010 and followed that up by finishing just eight and three-quarter lengths behind Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle a year later. He’s generally been crap since and looks like his future lies as a Tesco burger, but every now and then, he puts in a performance that shows he retains his class. Sam Winner and Shut The Front Door look classy and it’s hard to oppose them. But oppose them I will by backing Bertie’s Dream each way.

10.30am: The Racing UK presenter tells us that John McCririck is still in hospital after being taken ill on day one. He’s improving, but doctors are struggling to treat his terrible fashion sense.

10.22am: It’s taken a few days, but finally we’ve got our first one of these of the Festival:
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The Racing UK presenter who looks like he’s about 14 talks to some racegoers dressed as leprechauns heading into the racecourse. They do the crappy Irish accents, have a ‘lucky potato’ and guess what – they’re going to the Guinness tent for some booze. The stereotype about all Irish drinking excessively during Cheltenham week is ridiculous. I haven’t had a drink in well over an hour.

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10.11am: Our favourite ever clerk of the course, Simon Claisse is back and happy that no-one is trying to make a pun out his name. He says ‘we remain optimistic’ for the Cross Country Chase course which is good news for fans of completely mental Wacky Races-style horse racing.

10.01am: I may have been too harsh on Jimmy Nesbitt’s acting earlier. Check this out. It’s a masterclass in the classic ‘head moving to indicate you’re somewhat perplexed’.

You can almost hear the ‘And the Oscar goes to … ‘ in the distance.

9.40am: JEWSON NOVICES’ CHASE PREVIEW AND SHAMELESS PLUG
‘It’s about time we got some tips from someone who lands a winner about as often as the Pope gets a ride’ no-one saying right about now, but I won’t let that put me off.

Dynaste is the hot favourite and the form in the book warrants that position. But just because I don’t like backing favourites – especially at those odds in a race packed with potential improvers – I’m going to look elsewhere. After the chat The Morning Line folks had with Noel Meade and his ever-so-slightly-bullish-but-not-really comments, I’m looking at Texas Jack whose form has got a bit of a boost through the performances of Boston Bob and Lord Windermere at the Festival. I normally stay away from horses without any Cheltenham form, but I’m fine with contradicting myself and the hypocrisy in this situation.

9.31am: In his Irish Daily Star column Davy Russell is understandably sweet on the chances First Lieutenant has of winning the Ryanair Chase. As Davy points out, such an outcome would leave us with quite the amusing scenario:

Wouldn’t it be gas craic to see Michael O’Leary present himself with the winning trophy?

It might be Davy, but judging by O’Leary’s history, I’d imagine he’d find all the attention mildly embarrassing and awkwardly shy away from his moment in the spotlight. You don’t want to be left looking foolish.
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9.28am: If you’re a fan of drunken typing, then our PR man’s review of Day 2 is like The Great Gatsby of its genre.

9.13am: Before leaving us in the pretentious hands of Frasier, the Morning Line team did leave us with their bets of the day and if that hasn’t made you roll your eyes in exaggerated disinterest, then they’re all here:

Nick Luck
First Lieutenant in the Ryanair Chase and Alfie Sherrin Kim Muir.

Ted ‘more foundation’ Walsh
Lapping up Ruby’s hype, Ted goes for Sam Winner in the Pertemps Hurdle

Graham Cunningham
First Lieutenant and For Non Stop in the Ryanair Chase. If they both win the same race, it’ll be the greatest tip of all time.

Tanya Stephenson
Stonemaster in Pertemps Hurdle and Get Me Out Of Here in the World Hurdle.

Jim McGrath
Dynaste in the Jewson Novices’ Chase

9.01am: Via the comments section Me ould segosha writes:

Get up. Walk across the office. Open the Racing Post and tell us the Pricewise tips.
What do you think we pay you for?

Sorry Segosha, good questions, well asked. I was really getting into Frasier. He’s really undergoing personal torment, but still maintaining his rapier like wit. It’s addictive.

Today, Pricewise is bigging up Jetson and Stonemaster in the Pertemps. He’s also going for Cantlow and Tartak in the Byrne Group Plate and Romanesco in the Kim Muir.

He’s already told us to stick the entire penny jar on Champion Court in the Ryanair Chase, Solwhit in the World Hurdle and Sacree Tiepy in the Cross Country Chase.

8.56am: The Morning Line is over and it’s time for Frasier where the title character is at a comic convention. Oh, another classic ‘duck out of water’ storyline for the pretentious doctor – they hardly ever do that. This is going to be high-larious.

8.50am: Oh the banter is flowing like non-committal answers from trainers on the Morning Line! One Twitterer asks James Nesbitt if he gets more nervous watching Riverside Theatre or when he’s up to win an acting award. He says Riverside Theatre by a mile, mainly because I can’t imagine winning awards for his acting is an experience he’s had to contend with too often in his career. #zing

Sorry J-Neb – that’s was just unnecessarily mean.

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8.47am: Ted opens the Hell of a Horse account talking about Bog Warrior.

8.45am: Ted Walsh makes it look so effortless on The Morning Line, you’d think he just rolls out of bed each morning and it happens naturally. On Twitter, Clare Balding reveals the hard work that goes on behind the scenes:

8.40am: ‘Can you ever have too much information?’ asks Stephen Fry in his authoritative voice-over to the latest Racing Post ad. And the answer is ‘Yes. Yes you can have too much information’.

“Oh look, you can still see the bits of corn,” said Robbie Coltraine seconds before he flushed.

8.28am: Noel Meade is busy trying to avoid saying anything remotely confident when chatting to Graham Cuinningham, but he does let it slip that the form of Texas Jack has taken a boost from Boston Bob’s strong showing (until he ate a turf sandwich) and Lord Windermere’s victory. He goes for the Jewson Novices’ Chase and Meade says:

I’m hopeful

That’s about as cheat-beatingly confident as he gets.

8.20am: It looks like Tanya has tracked down Eddie Hitler from Bottom fame. Apparently after the TV show ended, he set himself up as a bookmaker at Cheltenham:
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8.12am: Jimmy isn’t too confident about Riverside Theatre chances of defending the Ryanair Chase. Like a criminal undone by the unconventional and uncompromising ways of Detective Sergeant Tommy Murphy, his owner admits:

He does have some questions to answer

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Excellent mo and moody stare into the middle distance.

8.08am: Being the owner of Riverside Theatre, James Nesbitt is clearly a big fan of the turf, but one of the biggest signs of his commitment to the sport is his expanding collection of tweed jackets, as evidenced by this rather unflattering picture.

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8.02am: Clerk of the course, Simon Claisse is back and looks unimpressed as Graham makes a very lame pun on his name. Ever the professional, he masks his disdain for the poor word play and tells us the going at Cheltenham is good to soft (soft in places).

7.58am: Sam Thomas looks really uncomfortable on camera. In fairness, it’s only marginally more uncomfortable than he looks on a horse.

7.55am: And that overly dramatic theme song tells us it’s time for The Morning Line over on Channel 4 where J-Neb joins the team.

7.53am: Clerk of the course, Simon Claisse is on Sky Sports News. He describes the ground at Cheltenham as:

Absolutely lovely

I’m not sure where that fits in on the more traditional soft/good/firm scale, but I’ll find out shortly.

7.48am: Paddy Power is glaring at me from across the office, which means only one of two things – either I need to go to the executive toilet and get the seat up to room temperature for his use later or else I need to start shamelessly plugging some of super-dooper-mega-fantastic offers from Paddy Power today.
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In fairness, it is pretty super-dooper-mega-fantastic offer and you’ll find out by looking about two centimetres below this sentence.

7.46am: James Nesbitt is the guest on the Morning Line shortly. It’s from a few years back, but this is still his best work:

Doesn’t say a whole lot about his movie career, does it?

7.30am: There’s not really anything happening at Cheltenham at the moment, so much so that not even the Sky Sports News reporters are being asked to fill ten minutes of television by pretending they know what they’re talking about.

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It’s about time for a weather report and that report says it’s -3 at the course at the moment, but that should rise to a balmy 6 degrees Celsius by around lunchtime. It’s sunny, but the clouds will arrive later. Yes, that’s a map of Mexico, but trust me, no-one’s really going to notice.

7.08am: They were due to inspect at 8am this morning. but again they’ve decided that’s unnecessary and they can stay in the warm drinking tea instead. Day three has been given the go ahead, although there will be an inspection of the Cross Country Chase at 11am. I think God is trying to send us a message – he doesn’t like the cheese wedges.

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