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CFI-preview-2017March 8th, 2017, Cheltenham Festival Info Preview – Panellist Thoughts and Selections:

TC = Tony Calvin. LD = Liam Dye. AH = Adrian Heskin. RD = Rory Delargy

After an enjoyable night we're happy to say at least someone was paying attention and managed to record the thoughts of the panel throughout the night (thanks Sally!). Our thanks to everyone who attended and especially the panel for their pearls of wisdom throughout the night.

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Posted by on in Cheltenham Festival 2017

b2ap3_thumbnail_Unowhatimeanharry.jpg Knock yourself out with Unowhatimeanharry

It was very warming at the weekend to see Frank Bruno ringside for the Haye v Bellew fight, looking a figure of health after his recent problems. It was this gladiator that coined the phrase, in response to questions posed by the late great commentator Harry Carpenter, which is shared with the name of the horse that holds all the answers for this year’s Stayers hurdle.

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Feast on potatoes and put on Wholestone

The last novice race of the festival is the Albert Bartlett, a 3 mile slog around the new course that has broken many a promising horse. The race is actually only 12 years old and surprisingly only a few horses have won it and gone on to greater achievements, Bobs Worth being the most notable exception going on to win both the RSA, Hennessey, Gold Cup and Lexus. 

This year’s renewal is dominated in the betting by Gordon Elliott’s sure thing Death Duty, which is currently trading at best price 5/2 NRNB. You can’t take anything away from the horse this season as he has won all 4 of his races very comfortably, however these have all been over 2 and a half miles. Elliott is convinced that he is crying out for a the longer trip, but 3 miles around Cheltenham is more than an extra 4 furlongs and I do find it curious why they wouldn’t have tried the trip prior to taking up his chance in the Potato race. I don’t profess to being an expert on the Irish racing scene, but I question whether he has beaten much this season, being left in front in his last race when Ruby did his last fence falling routine on Augusta Kate when things were getting interesting. The stronger form for me is last year when he was beaten by Blow by Blow in a bumper at Fairyhouse and when he beat Our Duke in a bumper at Navan. He may be a very good horse but at 5/2 I’d rather seek out more value.

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Posted by on in Cheltenham Festival 2017

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The JLT Novices Chase looks a particularly strong renewal this year with a number of promising horses looking to have valid claims for landing the spoils. The ante-post market has been dominated by the will be/won’t he presence of the very smart Yorkhill. An impressive winner of the Neptune hurdle last year, Mullins and Walsh have not held back in their admiration for the horse declaring him a superstar for the future. A lot of good judges seemed to have him routed to either the Arkle or the Champion Hurdle in the absence of Mullins top two (despite needing to be supplemented), but Willie has stated strongly this week in his stable tour that Yorkhill goes for the JLT and he holds very strong claims at the top of the market. Having won two fairly uncompetitive novice races this season at long odds on it’s difficult to know how good he is as a chaser, but I have my concerns over his jumping and at contracted odds I will certainly be taking the jolly on.

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Posted by on in Cheltenham Festival 2017

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Fairy tales really do come true

National Hunt racing does have the habit of shaking one’s emotional core and over the years it has served up some of the most amazing stories that for me places this sport above all others. One of the truly heart wrenching moments was when the fragile Aldaniti and his cancer recovered jockey Bob Champion won the 1981 Grand National. As a wet behind the ears four year old, the enormity of the feat was perhaps a little lost on me, but maybe that was because my first ever bet had been on the second placed Spartan Missile!

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Posted by on in Jump Racing
There's a Tingle in the Air

Willie Mullins Playing Games?

This week saw punters once again love or loathe Willie Mullins as bookmakers got themselves in a muddle over which of his machines would turn up in Sandown's Tingle Creek this afternoon. Douvan had been as long as 5/1 for the race based on him not running (so trying to catch a few speculative punters) but he shortened into 4/7 as whispers and rumour suggested he'd line up. The ever truculent Ted Walsh junior castigated bookies for pricing him at 5s, which seemed to add weight to his participation. Cried of foul play were mocked from Closutton and in fairness to Mullins, he always said he'd make the decision on Thursday. Another day passed and Douvan drifted out again until Un De Sceaux was confirmed. As I said, Mullins did little wrong but bookies took a lot of money for Douvan and the wounded punter may look at Douvan's owner, Rich Ricci's position as chairman of Betbright in a cynical light. 

Soap opera over, we have some splendid racing ahead of us this afternoon and these are my fancies for the big races...

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Posted by on in Jump Racing
The Smad King to Down the Hennessy

A good card at Newbury on Friday was lifted by two impressive performances in the best races of the day. A difficult looking Long Distance Hurdle (Grade 2) was simplified by Harry Fry’s Unowhatimeanharry who made it six in a row and showed the Albert Bartlett in March to be something of a stepping stone. The World Hurdle market got a good shake as the manner of today’s victory marks him out as a serious player in March, where he is 6/1 best price from 14s (9/2 joint favourite with a couple of firms). When we look at what he beat, the form looks very strong and the relative ease with which he swatted Ballyoptic and Menorah aside has encouraged me to take an ante post position given current rivals may not all line up. It’s never a bad thing to give JP McManus a Festival horse and it would give new life to the warm admiration that racing fans relish for the legendary gambler, indeed you’d like to think JP was taking a strong position in anticipation of a fun Thursday afternoon. 

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Posted by on in Jump Racing
Harry Knows What I Mean

Bar the Hennessy itself, today's card at Newbury is every bit as good as Saturday and we have the four best races now available for selection. The richest race on the card is a class two handicap worth £31k to the winner but it is pipped by the slightly impoverished Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle for quality.  Won by Thistlecrack in 2015, this race has been a regular jaunt for the best long distance hurdlers and has seen Inglis Drever scoring a hat-trick before Big Bucks pulled the strings and landed four on the bounce. 

The big previewed...

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Smad PlaceIt’s important in life to celebrate the victories and contemplate the losses. I’m old enough to acknowledge most of my foibles and this weekend wasn’t a good one as far as judgement goes. The weekend served to remind me that race fitness counts for a lot and seasonality is a tough trend to buck. 

Cue Card put a puzzling seasonal reappearance at Wetherby well behind him as he sauntered to his third victory at Haydock. Clive Tizzard now has the enviable prospect of perhaps saddling the front two in the Gold Cup market, and if Cue card can add to his King George tally (currently 7/4 favourite) then he will line up in March for another crack at the £1 million pound bonus. If he trained out of Closutton it might be doubtful both would line up, but you fancy Tizzard would run ten in the Gold Cup if he could. 

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A Day Of Intrigueb2ap3_thumbnail_gods-own-19112016.jpg

Ascot and Haydock present us with some fascinating racing and a serious opportunity inflict a little damage on the bookmaking brotherhood. Top class racing should be your happiest hunting ground unless you have friends on the inside - which many seem to have when sharing a tip. Regrettably my selections are from my own analysis so treat with caution. 

Yesterday I stuck my colours to the masts of Coneygree, Rigadin De Beauchene, Coastal Tiep and Zarkander. There are two more races that ignite the interest today and both take place at Ascot. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_cue-card-18112016.jpgLast weekend, Cheltenham put on a show that had everything, including tragedy. As the big retailers spend millions on disingenuous Christmas adverts that show their soft, cuddly side, top quality racing continues to light up our weekends and tomorrow is mouthwatering. The Betfair Chase tops Haydock's top class card, and with strong support from Ascot, it's going to be a very busy day. 

 

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Posted by on in Jump Racing
Sprinter Sacre: Thanks for the Memories

I began writing this tribute to Sprinter Sacre as he said goodbye to fans in front of the Cheltenham Grand Stand, ahead of the start of today’s Schloer Chase. A race which himself took in fine style on his way to the comebacks of comebacks last season.  This morning Nicky Henderson broke the news that our generation’s Arkle would race no more. Visibly upset, the trainer, who so often embodies the emotion, the passion and the romance of this sport, paid tribute to his enduring horse: “He was a horse of an absolute lifetime.” At this point, the script writers have tragedy in their quills as stablemate Simonsig falls early, breaking a leg and losing his life. These two horses are linked by more than just accommodation, with Simonsig taking the Neptune then Arkle when Sprinter won the Arkle then Champion Chase. It’s impossible to understand how much love and care was lavished on both horses on a daily basis and whilst Sprinter’s lad mirrored his bosses emotions when interviewed by Alice Plunkett in the parade ring, our hearts go out to the connections and stable staff of Simonsig. A prodigious horse, beset by injury and nursed back to health and form to ultimately a tragic end. A poignant reminder, as Clive Tizzard acknowledged after Fox Norton announced his arrival in the Champion Chase sphere, “in racing you’re never more than an inch away from disaster”.

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Day Two of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival will replayed and enjoyed by generations; for those of us present witnessed greatness. From the moment Sprinter announced himself as a chaser of mouthwatering ability when winning the 2012 Arkle Trophy, he was jump racing's Frankel. The roar of the crowd almost took the roof off as fifty odd thousand cheered him home in rapturous disbelief. Read Michael's preview of the Champion Chase, written a few weeks ago. Sometimes, it just goes the way it should.

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We're tracking how our Editor, Michael Elders, our Preview articles and any tips from the 2016 Preview Night are doing throughout this years' Festival

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Yesterday saw spectacular racing, records broken and a winning day for CFI. Michael looks at today's handicaps and looks to follow up yesterdays success.

Annie Power stamped her class on the Champion Hurdle to win at the Festival at her third attempt and in a record time. My Tent Or Yours ran a mighty race in his first appearance in over two years and our selection Nichols Canyon ran well for third. Altior won the Supreme in tremendous fashion, less than a second outside Annie Power's time. Sizing John landed the w/o Douvan race, which Michael put up at 7/2 a few weeks ago. Ballyalton won at 14/1 in the lucky last to give CFI a very opening day, and it could have been better with Vicente and Double Ross running promisingly until just slipping out of the places at the finish. 


 

Four Daily Champions Crowned with Festival Tickets

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Welcome to Day One of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, it has finally arrived. Have you looked at today's handicaps? We have, and there are some interesting angles that provide something of a panacea  to the short priced Mullins machines that dominate the three Grade Ones. Scroll down for today's handicap selections. All seven races on Day One are live on http://www.horsepredictor.com so log in now to make your selections. You can win prizes fit for a Champion Tipster and bragging rights by creating a private league for you and your mates. Each race over the four days is included so it is a true test of your judgement. Log in, create your private league and send your mates the league pin; simple.


 

Four Daily Champions Crowned with Festival Tickets

(The Daily comps)

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queen_mother_preview.jpgThis year’s Champion Chase has a list of famous names but looks to be a low quality renewal because the majority of these have big questions to answer or are past their best. 

The favourite is Un De Sceaux for Willie Mullins and like several horses from the yard, he has not been short of hype and hyperbole over recent years. Like those other horses, he has backed up the strong proclamations of his trainer and band of supporters by looking a top class two mile chaser when completing. There is no doubt he deserves to be favourite for Wednesday’s race but as his price drifts towards even money, the confidence is perhaps not as strong as you’d expect. I say this is largely down to the opposition, who are bit of a rogues gallery of past Champions and Champion Chase stalwarts. I do not think UDS is an absolute lock and given he has thrown in a couple of absolute howlers, he is not for me at the odds. That being said, I have opened up a Betfair account for the wife and put ten of her hard earned shillings on their big acca of the week: Min, Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Thistlecrack at 25/1 (13/1 currently), so there’s a small interest should Min back up his own hype. 

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CFI_Preview_Night_2016_20160313-122644_1.pngThe guys from betjuno.com attended the Cheltenham Festival Info Preview Evening 2016 and have kindly allowed us to use their write up of the night for the site.

"The Cheltenham preview evening was fascinating. The event was hosted by CFI (@cheltofestival) with a star studded panel comprised of Channel 4 Racing’s Rishi Persad, Racing journalist Lydia Hislop (please take a look at her Road to Cheltenham articles for Sportinglife), Betting guru Tony Calvin and Independent Bookmaker Geoff Banks. They gave detailed analysis on all the big races along with some fancied tips from the handicaps and bumpers. Here’s our full write up of the evening’s info along with our own take on the best betting combinations.

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Ah, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, a race that is very much close to my heart. Not from a purist angle you’ll understand, in what is effectively the amateurs version of the Gold Cup, but instead one that has been very kind to me in the pocket down the years. Memories of Junior sauntering away to bolt up by a mere 23 lengths and The Package cruising around the bend in last year’s renewal and still vivid in my mind, unlike the celebrations in the bar afterwards.

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Here is a list of the audio files with the Panel's thoughts on the races discussed at the Cheltenham Festival Info Preview Night 2016

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