Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Cheltenham 2011: The Aftermath

It’s hard to believe that a little over a week ago the 2011 Cheltenham Festival had only just begun.

Seven days on and here I am suffering some serious Cheltenham withdrawals after what many are calling the greatest festival in years.

Without a shadow of a doubt this was the best Cheltenham I’ve experienced in my limited time as a racing fan and not just because of the modest financial gains made during the week.

This year’s national hunt season had been marred by the extreme weather conditions the UK was pummelled by for much of the winter and some tragic losses on and off the track but as I wished for in my preview, Cheltenham shone a blinding light on everything that makes Horse Racing such an incredible sport.

The festival had it all: joy, pain, sentiment and in the end the best horse won jump racing’s most coveted prize; which whether we care to admit it or not is what we all want.

Greater writers and aficionados of the sport have already eulogised the 2011 festival far more eloquently and emotively than I ever could, so I won’t bore you with an overdue account of the week’s events; as anyone with more than a passing interest in what went on last week at Prestbury Park will already be well aware of happenings on and off the track.

What I will do though is just let those of you who may have read my preview know some of the success my tips and fancies had last week, although I will warn you now some of these claims to success are very tenuous!

On day 1 my decision to lay Cue Card was proven right as the well fancied favourite was well-beaten. Captain Chris winning the Arkle was also a result for this blog as I had tipped him up in my preview (albeit for the wrong race!) and then another one of my tips got home in front as Bensalem (advised @ 11/2) won the third.

I can’t really claim success in the Champion Hurdle as I had waxed lyrical about the first four in the betting, but that proved to be the right tactic as
Hurricane Fly (11/2 when the preview went up) and Peddlers Cross (7/1) finished 1-2. Quevega rounded out the day by proving that my banker was a sound one (advised @ 6/5)

On day 2 I rightly called Time for Rupert being one to avoid and Wayward Prince (advised @ 12/1) ran a blinder for a place for all you each-way backers in the RSA.

Bothy (advised @ 20/1) then ran a cracker in the ultra-competitive Coral Cup to make it a good day for place fans. Another horse I liked for the Coral Cup, Get Me Out of Here, didn’t end up going in that race but finished a very unlucky second on the final day in the closet finish of the week.

On day 3, although I didn’t fancy him myself, my point about the odds being far too long on a repeat of 2010 was vindicated as Alberta’s Run (12/1 when the preview went up) retained his Ryanair crown.

And although Grands Crus couldn’t get the better of Big Buck’s, my each-way tip Cross Kennon (advised @ 50/1) almost snuck into a place after running a blinder in the World Hurdle, missing out by a very unlucky neck or so to Mourad. Cross Kennon is definitely a horse to follow next season, especially during the winter months when the ground will be more to his liking.

On the final day, Paul Nicholls’ blue-blooded Zarkandar (advised @ 7/1) got the day off to a flyer by hosing up in the Triumph Hurdle and although the Gold Cup seemed to indicate the passing of the torch, my old heroes Kauto Star and Denman left me with tears in my eyes as the ‘veterans’ finished a brave 2nd and 3rd in the Gold Cup, both were flagged up in the preview at 7-1 – Denman I especially went to bat for as an each way certainty so I hope you listened… even if I didn’t always follow my own advice!

So after that bit of shameless self-promotion there’s nothing much else to say other than bring on Aintree in a little under three weeks!


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