A losing start yesterday but Quevega limited the damage. It was disappointing to see Khyber Kim beaten by Binocular – it was hard to go with Binocular with question marks over his wellbeing.
I travelled up early with Bob, a co-owner in my horses with Nick Gifford. We arrived in Cheltenham at around 12. Bob refused to take me to the course in the trousers I was wearing – there was a bit of curry on one of the pockets and another brown stain across the front. He virtually frogmarched me into a tailors in Cheltenham High Street and stood over me while I bought a new pair. It was a strange start to the week.
At the course Betfair had again excelled themselves with the Marquee – racing for change could look at the work we are doing as compared to the sit down lunch options. The panel (Nevison, Packman, Cunningham, Hoiles chaired by Sean Boyce) put up a great show.
I only left the tent once, to see the Champion Hurdle live from the stands. Lots of chat, a few beers and a fairly early night as Swindon were playing and I wanted to follow the action. Amazingly we won 1-0 despiite missing a few key players through injury. Most of the team are coming to the races today.
I’ll be looking for speed over stamina again today, and ignoring most recent form as the ground is so very different now. I’m looking at the hurdles form for chasers and flat form for hurdlers.
In the first I’ll take Pettifour, who was the best hurdler in this field. Rite of Passage is my dull choice in the second – maybe he’ll thrive on this faster ground. I’ll go with Punchestowns in the RSA Chase, again on the basis of his hurdles form.
In the Queen Mother I’ll take Twist Magic to beat his illustrious stablemate. He has a lot of class on his day, and conditions look good for him to show his best.
In the Coral Cup I’m sweet on On Raglan Road, who is coming back from injury. He has a real touch of class about him and might be able to make a nonsense of his handicap mark – something the winner of this race needs to do.
In the Fred Winter the best flat form on offer appears to be with Stormy Weather and Loch Long. I’ll back both, probably favouring Stormy Weather.
In the bumper I’m struggling to get away from Shot from the Hip, who is superbly bred and has shown ability. If his jockey fails him then Bishopsfurze might be the one for the saver – he’ll like this ground more than some.