How could I not write a blog when lucky enough to be at the opening Cheltenham meeting of the new season? Rarely has there been a better work place. There were rumblings of other new beginnings with ITV’s new betting ring man, a certain Matt Chapman going thorough what looked to be a dress rehearsal complete with camera crew down in the betting ring. Judging by the way he was darting about his team are going to earn their money trying to keep up with him. He certainly has the energy to do the betting ring justice there’s no doubting that, I look forward to seeing more of him down amongst the bookies.
Those bookies will be hoping for better results than they got in the opening Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle when Paul Nicholls’ 6/5 shot El Bandit won the race despite drifting in the betting. One early punter should have hung in there before pulling up £6600 and having it on at 10/11 early doors.
It didn’t take long for the Nicholls yard and the jollies to make it two from two when 3/1f Marracudja won the squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase from the staying on Presenting Arms, holding on by just a neck. There was plenty of lumpy support for the winner but also a £5000-£700 bet on the runner-up. That was with the fractions on a prominent front row pitch – ditch betting at home on your computer and come racing, there’s value to be had.
16 runners went to post for the Join The Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Handicap Hurdle, a bookies nighmare paying four places. It wasn’t easy for the punters to solve either. Roger at Westcountry Racing had put up Colin Tizzard’s Valhalla as a strong bet. He wasn’t wrong, the gelding beat 14 of the field home by six lengths but sadly for Roger’s followers, of which I am a number, the selection found one too good in Charlie Longsdon’s winning 8/1 chance Midnight Shot. Curses. There weren’t really many big bets to report but that front row pitch did lay a punter £5000-£400 each-way Powersbomb (that’s 12/1 with the fractions). If you are confused about fractions please click here Ask For Fractions and learn how to bag yourself some on-course, and if you have a decent independent, off-course value.
There was salvation from Roger’s bad luck (though he is over 200 points up this year) when the other tipster (and very good friend) I follow religiously Andy Mount found a 33/1 winner over at Doncaster. Here’s today’s message from two bets found in his free columns Andrew Mount FREE GG.com column
There was a bit of cheer at last for the bookmakers when 6/1 Heron Heights won the six-runner Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase. There had been decent money for Gordon Elliot’s Tiger Roll at 6/4 but those backers left it behind when their fancy could finish only third. Nicky Henderson enjoyed a 1-2 in the race before the penultimate, the Harrison James & Hardie Maiden Hurdle. The SP got it slightly wrong with winner Thomas Campbell returning 11/4 from 5/2 favourite Khezerabad. It didn’t tell the full story though, the winner having been backed from 10/3. There had been money for several horses in what had been a good betting heat.
The penultimate Ryman Stationery Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase was another hard looking race to solve with 17-runners and a 9/2 favourite. It went to the bookies way to a certain extent with a 14/1 winner, the Fergal O’Brien trained Troika Steppes. Roger Bush’s followers were curing their luck running into another tartar when selection Azure Fly had to settle for runner-up slot. Each-way bets were landed though, daft not to in a 17-runner handicap, the boomakers’ each-way Achilles Heel. One punter bagged a £4500-£360 each-way on the rails, that’s fractions once again, don’t be afraid to ask.
For those that don’t know I write a long-standing monthly column along these same lines in Racing Ahead Magazine please support the racing monthly that supports me.
Between races a lady approached me and asked in a lovely Irish accent if I was ‘that Matt Chapman?’ Of course I replied sadly not but added that I was quite flattered she might think so as I imagine I have some years on the clock more than him. I usually go for the Barney Curley look myself, but forwent the fedora today, maybe I should leave it at home from now on if I look younger sans titfer.
Philip Hobbs’ Wishful Dreaming was an uneasy favourite in the concluding Racing UK Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle despite some three-figure bets seen for it early. The market proved spot on as the gelding could only manage fifth eventually going off at 5/2 but still jolly. The ring must have dared think it had come up for them at one point when 50/1 shot What A Scorcher blazed off and was still six lengths clear three out and in front over the last. Sadly for the layers he was reeled in on the run-in but still managed third behind Paul Nicholls’ 7/2 winner Cliffs Of Dover (one bet of £2100-£600 spotted on the rail). That was a treble up for the yard which has no doubt given the bookies the collywobbles for the forthcoming season.
Ahh it was great to be back.
(c) Simon Nott
I had a lot more photos to post but for some reason wordpress is playing silly buggers – I’ll post them at a later date when it’s sorted.