Cheltenham Festival 2021
Cheltenham Festival 2021 Ante-Post Portfolio
Triumph Hurdle: Paros 20-1 Zanahiyr 5-2 NRNB
Champion Hurdle: Epatante 6-4
Arkle: Shiskin 5-4
Champion Chase: Altior 6-1
Gold Cup: Champ 12-1
Brown Advisory Novices Chase: Next Destination 12-1 e/w NRNB
Cross Country: Easysland 7-4 NRNB
Champion Bumper: Kilcruit 13-8 NRNB
The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle: Concertista 11-10 NRNB
Ballymore Novices Hurdle: Bravemansgame 9-2 NRNB
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase: Embittered 15-2 NRNB
Marsh Novices' Chase:
Shan Blue 17-2 e/w NRNB
Novices' Hurdle: Barbados Bucks 15-2 NRNB
Update: A strange week ends with a loss for me as I finish -9.75 to level stakes. It was fun, nice to have little to think about but horse racing for a few days, but I cannot wait for next year when we all, fingers crossed, can get back to Cheltenham and do the Festival proper.
As I have said before, no need for silly gimmicks or names for today it is simply Gold Cup day! I awoke a lot fresher than usual for day four, I really have missed the usual hustle and bustle of Festival week this year, it’s been fun but just not the same. Anyway, it is what it is in 2021, and hopefully I have a winner or two yet up my sleeve yet. I start the last day –8.25 to level stakes after another frustrating day on Thursday - the second count is now up to 8! My fancies for the final day can be found below and fingers crossed there is a winner or seven to be had. Here we go again…………
1.20 Grade One JBB Triumph Hurdle 2m1f
The opener is a pretty competitive affair but I am happy enough with my ante-post punt Zanahiyr at 5-2 NRNB – my original bet on Paros literally not worth the paper it was written on. You have to be impressed visually by what we have seen of him and the clock-watchers are all purring about his chances too. His win at Fairyhouse in November was eye-catching to say the least and by all accounts fast. The victory at Leopardstwon in December just as impressive, if not more so, as it was a slowly run affair and he still got the job done in a race that probably didn't suit his style with little bother. Generally 5-4 now I have the price if nothing else. Quilixios is the obvious danger.
1.55 Grade Three McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle 2m1f
I have been over and over the form here as it is a real headache but have found one I hope can get the job done. Ganapathi has been running in Graded company in his limited number of starts to date and will surely appreciate this drop in both class and the step back down in trip I think. Potentially very well treated off a mark of 140 with Gaillard Du Mesnil who he was fifth behind last time, second here in the Ballymore earlier this week. I took a bit of the 11-2 overnight. You Raised Me Up heads the dangers.
2.30 Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 3m
I am on Barbados Bucks 15-2 NRNB here and though a little worried about Nicholls not having a winner yet and the number of non-runners he has had still fell fairly confident. Owner Andy Stewart has been talking him up along with the trainer in the build-up, as mentioned on here, and hopefully he can sprinkle some sparkle on a relatively dark Festival for the Nicholls yard thus far. He completed a hat-trick over hurdles in eye catching style in a 3m Kempton novice in January and surely has more to come yet.
3.05 Grade One WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase 3m2½f
I have been on Champ for this for some time now at 12-1 so firstly thankfully he is here and secondly, I have a great price. This isn’t perhaps the greatest Gold Cup ever and the Henderson trained nine-year-old has a great chance. I just can’t have Al Boum Photo as one of the greats, even though he has two wins in this, and A Plus Tard, though good, for me has a lot to prove, not least that he gets the trip! Allaho may have given his last run form a boast, but Melon didn’t!
3.40 St. James's Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase 3m2½f
My old mate Hazel Hill lines up again having won this for me at a very nice ante-post price back in 2019. He aint getting any younger at thirteen but 20-1 is surely too big a price for a horse than won nicely enough at Ludlow last time and he has been backed each-way four-places. Billaway and last years winner It Came To Pass both have chances.
4.15 Grade Two Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase 2m4½f
Elimay looks the banker of the day based on the fact she's three out of four over fences and has the beating of Shattered Love at Naas last time despite giving her 5lb. Her only defeat over the bigger obstacles thus far came at the hands of Allaho who franked that form and then some in the G.1 Ryanair Chase yesterday. 4-5 was the best on offer last night and I have that.
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 2m4f
The lucky last of the week, the four days go by in a blur every year! I have a bit of the 11-2 about Galopin Des Champs overnight and annoyingly he has drifted a bit. Sixth to Appreciate It in the G.1 Chanelle Pharma Novices' Hurdle at Leopardstown last time the step up in trip should suit. Numerous others have a chance including Gentleman De Mee and Langer Dan who won the Imperial Cup at Sandown last weekend.
Into day three we go and at the halfway point I am currently running at -5.75 To level stakes after a frustrating first two days with seven seconds backed so far! Usually marketed as St Patrick’s Thursday the Guinness village will be a lot quieter than usual this year! We switch to the New Course on Thursday
1.20 Grade One Marsh Novices' Chase 2m4f
Envoi Allen has been odds-on for this for weeks and will be many peoples idea of a banker for the week. I am still not utterly convinced he is as good as some think but he obviously has some talent. I backed Shan Blue each-way at 17-2 a few days ago and I am confident of finishing in the places. The best jumper in the field without doubt in my eyes if there are any chinks in the favourites armour, and there just might be, he looks the most likely to take full advantage.
1.55 Grade Three Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle 3m
The big difference between the New Course (being used today) and the Old Course at Cheltenham is the fact that that the hurdles track has just two flights in the last six furlongs and this is the first race that becomes a consideration in. The Leopardstown qualifier provides a clue or two so to the challenge from the Emerald Isle, with Dandy Mag (first), The Bosses Oscar (second) and Mrs Milner (fourth) all here. The home team might be able to nick a race here though. Imperial Alcazar won as he liked at Warwick in January and has to be considered. Champagne Platinum never looked totally happy over the bigger obstacles and has looked much happier back hurdling this season. Second to Bushypark last time, left with plenty to do late and staying on strongly after the last, he might be cherry ripe for this now. On his best form he will be right there and I have the 15-2 BOG.
2.30 Grade One Ryanair Chase 2m4½f
This has been a wide-open betting market in the build-up. Last year's winner Min has to be on the shortlist but the ten-year-old was pulled-up in the Dublin Chase last month which was far from the perfect dress rehearsal for this. Kalashnikov is one I have backed before but he looks up against it here. Melon always seems to run well here and is perhaps unlucky not to have at least one Festival win to his name and dropping back to what I think is a more suitable trip is in his favour. At 13-2 BOG he is the pick in a wide-open contest.
3.05 Grade One Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle 3m
With Thyme ruled out having pulled a muscle Paisley Park is fairly short for this now. He has an obvious chance but I am looking elsewhere. Sire Du Berlais won the Pertemps Network Final last year and in 2019, I tipped him both years I am glad to say, so he certainly has track and trip form. He clearly likes it here and has surely been trained with this race in mind, albeit only for a few days by Denise Foster. Got his season underway winning a G.2 over 2m4f he was then far from disgraced when third in the G.1 Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle last time. The old satchel swingers are taking making chances at the 11-2 BOG but
3.40 Grade Three Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase 2m4½f
Pretty competitive as you would expect but I quite fancy one. The Shunter has looked a different horse recently winning over the sticks and the larger obstacles. Arrives here looking to take home a £100,000 bonus after winning the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso and he is fancied to do it. I have the 7-2 BOG; mate of mine has flashier prices. Young Jordan Gainford rides who has been riding for all the big Irish stables recently and appears to be very well thought of – he takes off a very handy 7lb.
4.15 2m1f Grade 2 Parnell Properties Mares' Novices' Hurdle
Tough little race on paper, though many will simply be backing a Willie Mullins runner the Irish maestro having won all five previous running's of this race! I though am taking on his runners with Roseys Hollow at 6-1 BOG. Having watched it back I liked her win in the in Grade 3 Solerina with Royal Kahala and Gauloise behind. She is worse off at the weights here with those two but not by bundles and hopefully being so lightly raced she has more to come yet anyway.
4.50 3m2f Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
The lucky last is a huge headache for us punters as ever. Plan Of Attack has been out of form this year but was fourth last season and if back to his best would go close off a fair mark. Shantou Flyer often goes well here and is another for the shortlist along with Mount Ida. The beast burdened with the GGG cash though is Deise Aba who was fifth last season. At 10-1 BOG he is worth an each-way punt having won the Masters Handicap at Sandown (3m) last time as his warm-up as he did last year. An out and out stayer he will be plodding on when others are crying enough and with Johnson in the saddle might just be in front where it matters.Wednesday:
Day two dawns and though a little slouchy, I did sip a couple of shandies yesterday, the usual banging hangover is missing; this is a really strange year. Ladies' day as it is now marketed is one of my favourite days, not for girls is daft hats, but because the main event is the two-mile Queen Mother Champion Chase, I do love the race, there is something about a great two-miler that sets the pulse racing.
1:20 Grade One Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m5f
Bravemansgame at 9-2 ante-post is the one for me here, a bet I placed last month. As I said in the build-up, I have been impressed with what he has done this season and the form of the races he has been winning looks pretty solid. He won the G.1 Challow Hurdle in December in the style of a very good horse and had many a pundit, and his connections, purring. Harry Cobden rates him as his best chance this week and I am very happy with my bet and the price I have; I hope you got on back in February as well.
1:55 Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase 3m
I was on Next Destination each-way at 12-1 for this thankfully NRNB. I cannot bring myself to back Monkfish odds-on and there are plenty of judges who believe he isn’t perhaps the strongest stayer. I know he has won over the trip but there is, just maybe, a chink in the armour. Luckily another Novice Chaser I have had an eye on lines-up. I have said before I think The Big Breakaway could go on to reach the highest level as a Chaser and he has a big chance to prove me right here now. He can’t afford any jumping errors here but if he gets it all right, I honestly think he can give the Irish raider a race. I have the 6-1 taken on Monday.
2.30 Grade Three Coral Cup Hurdle 2m5f
More open than Billy Bunters fridge as usual this is a real headache for us punters once again this year. Koshari won well at Cork over 2m4f in January and his sixth place at Leopardstown last month we perhaps a better effort than looks at first glance. He did best of those held-up that day and was making up places without Paul Townend giving him too much of a hard time after his chance had clearly gone. Craigneiche has looked decent in his limited starts to date and won well at Ascot, a 12lb rise is plenty mind you. Nicky Henderson certainly knows what it takes to win this though so that one has to be shortlist material, as does Birchdale the choice of stable jockey De Boinville. Grand Roi steps back up in trip having been running at two-mile recently and will be fancied by many. Guard Your Dreams caught my eye last time out when he stayed on late in the 2m G.3 Betfair Hurdle like a horse crying out for a stiffer test. The five-year-old gets in here off the same mark as that day of 135. He was also entered in the Martin Pipe but goes for this prize. At 10-1 with Power paying the first seven he is the each-way punt.
3.05 Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m
I was on Altior ante-post and I am truly gutted he aint here. As soon as the absence of Altior was announced on Monday Chacun Pour Soi went odds-on. The gelding might not be the soundest of beasts but he has been winning big races in Ireland proving that when right he is very very good. It’s his first trip here, which is surprising for a nine-year-old, so how he travelled over was perhaps the biggest concern for those on ante-post. Nube Negra beat Altior in the G.2 Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase in December and the seven-year-old naturally may have more to come yet. Far from top of the class as a Novice he has clearly come on over the winter looking at that victory and has every chance of placing up here and if the favourite falters who knows. I have the 8-1 each-way.
3.40 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m6f
I had a slight worry about this race a few days back when a moody Twitter account announced Easysland was not going to come – thankfully it turned out to be a hoax. I am on at 7-4 ante-post and I am pretty confident.
4.15 Grade Three Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 2m
The sort of race that usually gives me sleepless nights but I took an ante-post punt on Embittered for this at 15-2 and I am as confident as you can be in this race. He has been competing at G.1 level and this drop in class gives him a big chance in my eyes. Sky Pirate and Entoucas are just two of the dangers.
4.50 Grade One Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m
I jumped on Kilcruit at 13-8 ante-post a while back and he has drifted a little with some cash coming for Sir Gerhard. The six-year-old destroyed the opposition at Leopardstown and I remain confident he is the better of the two – both of course now in the care of Willie Mullins Sir Gerhard having moved from Gordon Elliott.
Day one of a somewhat strange Cheltenham Festival. It’s the Cheltenham Festival but not as we know it. For the first time since the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001, and only the second time in more years than I care to remember, on Champion Hurdle day I will be sat at home rather than stood at Prestbury Park. I would usually be sipping a beer in the Old Restoration down the High Street with the usual suspects Mr Wilson and Mr Griffiths before making our way to the track, this year I will be on my sofa. These are strange times in which we live.
It is though still the Cheltenham Festival and we might not be able to be there trackside this year but we do have some fantastic horse racing to look forward to. There will be little sleep from now until Friday evening; four days, twenty-eight races, bets, bets and more bets, let’s have it!
1.20 Grade One Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2m½f
There will be no Cheltenham Roar, well there will be at Triple G Towers as I am bound to get over excited, but they will still get underway at 1.30 with the traditional curtain raiser of the four days, always a good race to have the winner for if you can. I mentioned in the build-up that I wanted to back Appreciate It as wondered of you may get a bigger price waiting rather than punting ante-post. He hasn't really moved other than shortening slightly so I am on at 6-5 overnight. Metier is the danger but has a bit too find and the yard is out of form.
1.55 Grade One Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase 2m
Winner of the opener last year, tipped in here I am happy to day, Shishkin has been all the rage for this for a while and I am on ante-post at 5-4. All being well it will be a flying start to the day for punters with the first two jollys going in. The task for Shishkin is made somewhat easier, at least on paper, with Energumene missing the race.
2.30 Grade Three Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase 3m1f
A wide-open affair yet again with several in with chances. It is likely to be a real test of stamina so I am looking for one that will get the trip. Lieutenant Rocco was on that list as you had to be impressed with the win over 3m at Ffos Las but he aint here. Happygolucky won a 3m1½f Novices' Chase on the New Course in December and has gone well here as a hurdler in the past so deserves to be top of the market. He ticks a lot of the boxes for me and though short enough at 7-2 has been backed.
3.05 Grade One Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2m½f
Epatante won for me last year and I have been on for a few weeks now ante-post at 6-4. She has drifted in the Market with Honeysuckle and Goshen both coming in for support but Henderson reports her back to her best after some back issues and stiffness and I expect a bold defence of her title. Honeysuckle coming for this was always a concern and she has an obvious chance.
3.40 Grade One Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race 2m4f
I am on another short-priced one here in the shape of Concertista at 11-10 ante-post. With Honeysuckle going for the Champion this looks a very good opportunity for the seven-year-old now and I feel pretty confident. If this turns into a real test Roksana has a chance but I think the jolly will have too much speed for her.
4.15 Grade Three Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m½f
This is a real headscratcher again this year and I have gone through the form countless times. Houx Gris has his sights lowered having run third in a G.1 at Chepstow on his UK debut. Adagio won that race and he has an each-way shout in the G.1 Triumph later in the week so the form looks pretty strong. Nassalam was second at Chepstow but has to give the jolly nearly a stone here which surely, he can’t do. The French import gets in off a light weight and has a big chance. Saint Sam has been chasing home big hopes in the Triumph for Ireland Zanahiyr and Quilixios across the Irish Sea so his form figures of 2,4,2 are actually pretty decent form. At 11-2 he is the pick for me. Hood goes on and I am hopeful there is more to come from him and the ease in grade is an obvious bonus. Busselton, third behind Quilixios and he selection at Leopardstown, is getting 4lb from the Willie Mullins-trained runner and is one to consider for the places.
4.50 Grade Two National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) 3m6f
No amateur riders of course this year due to Covid restrictions so the racecard has an unusual look to it with the likes of Paul Townend riding. Royal Pagaille was one I was talking about in the build-up but the running plans were always fluid with a potential tilt at the Gold Cup under consideration. One that runs here now that I thought wouldn't is Next Destination and he has to be the bet. Luckily I was on NRNB in the Brown Advisory Novices Chase so that cash will be coming back and has been reinvested here at 7-2. The Paul Nicholls trained nine-year-old has shown himself to be a decent chaser already, 2-2 over fences, and should be suited by this longer trip and this is considerably calmer waters than the Brown Advisory.
So it appears that any runners from
Cullentra House Stables next week at the Festival will be under the care of
Denise 'Sneezy' Foster
with Gordon Elliott serving his ban. As it stands the BHA seem to be okay with everything, though apparently talks are ongoing with the IHRB, but all being well the likes of Zanahiyr and Grand Roi will be running for all intents and purposes trained by Foster.
I am not sure you can ever be confident about one in the Albert Bartlett but I really do fancy one this year. Barbados Bucks looks to me to be improving with every run and could have more to offer yet; he won last time at Kempton in January with what appeared to be bundles in hand. Connections seem as excited about his chances as me Paul Nicholls saying recently “He has won his last three and is a proper staying horse and will be right in there in the Albert Bartlett.” and owner Andy Stewart stated “I’m very much looking forward to seeing Barbados Buck’s run – I think he’ll run a big race in the Albert Bartlett. He’s been trained for the race and is shooting the lights out at the moment at home. Harry Cobden rode him the other day and tells me he’s improved a stone since he last rode him. The worry is I think the Albert Bartlett is the only race Paul hasn’t won at Cheltenham!” I have taken the 15-2 NRNB as if Nicholls get a few on the board early in the week that price will shrink.
The 2m4f Grade One Marsh Novices' Chase gets day three underway on the New Course and I have had an invest here. A couple at the head of the market as I write just under a week out probably have different targets but one that appears guaranteed to run is Shan Blue. Envoi Allen is odds-on and provided the move to his new trainer hasn’t disrupted preparation he is probably a worthy favourite though I do think he is too short; I know he is unbeaten but has he really taken your breath away with any performances this season? The Dan Skelton trained horse is arguably the best jumper of all the Novice Chasers this season and as we all know Cheltenham is as all about the jumping as any track in the UK. He looks a very solid each-way bet to me at 17-2 NRNB and if there are any chinks in the favourites armour, and there just might be, he looks the most likely to take full advantage.
With the ongoing Gordon Elliott palaver meaning a number of major runners are suddenly in the care of new trainers or possibly not coming over from Ireland at all confusion reigns on the running plans for many horses next week and I have not added to the Cheltenham Festival portfolio recently. I do want to back Appreciate It for the opener but have an idea one or two of the Bookies might take him on and a bigger price could be available on the day; then again they might not and and I could be kicking myself if he is shorter................... Equally Royale Pagaille looks a solid bet for the last on day one the National Hunt Chase but connections are mulling over where the seven-year-old may run saying recently “We haven’t made a decision on which race Royale Pagaille will run in and we’ve not spoken about it. We'll look at the five-day entries for the races he’s in and make a decision on where we go at that time.” Decisions, decisions, I have some serious thinking to do over the next couple of days. I have taken the plunge on Embittered for the Grade Three Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase on the Wednesday. Has an entry in the Arkle but this is surely the race to go for and trainer Joseph O'Brien said recently "He looks likely to run in the Grand Annual. He has run some lovely races over fences this season and obviously ran very well in the County Hurdle last year. The drier the ground, the better his chance." The yard has a few entered in this but the seven-year-old has been putting in some fair efforts in G.1 company in the build-up and the drop in class would give him every chance of a victory. I am on at 15-2 NRNB.
The BHA have announced that Gordon Elliott will not be allowed to have runners in Britain whilst the IHRB inquiry continues into the infamous photo; this of course means there is every chance he, and those horses stabled at his yard, will not be at the Festival. The only bet in my portfolio that affects is Zanahiyr - I might as well give up on the Triumph I have had two bets in the race and it's likely neither will now run!!! At least Zanahiyr is NRNB.
The Grade One Ballymore Novices Hurdle gets day two underway and I quite fancy one for this. It could be quite the competitive heat if they all show-up but a couple look likely to go for the shorter Supreme rather than this 2m5f test. One that is sure to go for this (well as sure as you can be) is the Paul Nicholls trained Bravemansgame. I have been impressed with what he has done this season and the form of the races he has been winning looks pretty solid. He won the G.1 Challow Hurdle in December in the style of a very good horse and had many a pundit, and his connections, purring.
Harry Cobden rates him as his best chance for the Festival and trainer Paul Nicholls said
"He's got it all, hasn't he?" going on to compare him to Denman adding
"Next year he'll make a super chaser and he's not unlike Denman in his physique, size and how he does things – he's probably got a bit more boot than Denman – but it's just nice to be talking about this horse in the same breath as him." First things first I think he can win this and have happily taken 9-2 NRNB as I am sure that price will shrink in the build-up, especially with one or two of the others at the top of the market almost guaranteed to run elsewhere; get on early, it is a brave mans game after all!
Gordon Elliott has a plan for Zanahiyr to run in the Triumph Hurdle and recently poured cold water on the idea of switching to the Supreme Novices'. Ellliott said earlier this week "Zanahiyr will run in the Triumph. He's favourite for it, and that's where he will go." Gordon wouldn't lie to us would he? You have to be impressed visually by what we have seen of him and the clock-watchers are all purring about his chances too. His win at Fairyhouse in November was eye-catching to say the least and by all accounts fast. The victory at Leopardstwon in December just as impressive, if not more so, as it was a slowly run affair and he still got the job done in a race that probably didn't suit his style with little bother. The Triumph will almost certainly be run at a quick pace which suits him, but he has also shown if it gets a bit tactical and messy, he can deal with that. At 5-2 NRNB I am on. My initial punt Paros has drifted after a disappointing UK debut at Sandown in December but he may still run, possibly will have a warm-up outing next week, and you never know.........................
The problem with the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle is perhaps as much who is going to run as who to fancy. I am convinced it will be the target of Concertista (been certain about Mullins running plans before though) so I have taken the 11-10 with the NRNB safety net. Honeysuckle will surely go for the Champion earlier on day one and that leaves this race at the mercy of the seven-year-old and I can see her going off odds-on.
In the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival thus far no horse has been as impressive in his sphere as Kilcruit surely. The six-year-old destroyed the opposition at Leopardstwon. A line through Letsbeclearaboutit suggests he has the beating of danger Sir Gerhard and I have the 13-8 NRNB about the Willie Mullins jolly in the Champion Bumper.
I tipped Easysland for the Cross Country last year at 3-1 ante-post and I am on again for a repeat victory this year at the 7-4 NRNB. He looked ring rusty at the November meeting but has won over the unusual track twice and even when running below par a she did in November giving the opposition a stone-and-a-half he stilled finished fourth. Main danger Tiger Roll pulled up in the aforementioned cross-country at Cheltenham in November and isn’t even guaranteed to run with the National clearly the main aim at least as far as Gordon Elliott is concerned.
Paddy Power are NRNB for the Festival and I have taken a bit of the 12-1 each-way about Next Destination for the
Brown Advisory Novices Chase (RSA Chase). He is due to run this weekend at Warwick (16th January) and if he wins the Grade Two there, as I fully expect him to, he will surely go to single figures. He is slightly bigger in some places that aren't NRNB but with his history I thought it safer to bet with the safety net. If Paul Nicholls can keep him improving, Saturday will be only his second Chase start, and get him to the Festival in one-piece, I honestly think he will be a big player.
Paros didn't set the world alight on his UK debut at Sandown earlier this month and that bet is already looking a bit wobblily. Have I taken a backward step you ask? Have I bollocks, four more bets are on for the Festival. Three of Nicky Henderson's big hopes for March are running at Kempton over the Festive period and I have taken the plunge on the three as I expect them to all win well at Sunbury-on-Thames and the prices will no doubt shorten afterwards. I have backed Epatante for the Champion Hurdle at 6-4, Shiskin in the Arkle at 5- 4 and old favourite of mine Altior for the Champion Chase at 6-1. Talking of Henderson, the four bets thus far are all housed at Seven Barrows, I keep coming back to Champ for the Gold Cup. He of course produced the finish of the year in the RSA last season and the big one is the obvious target for 2021. The stable are making all the right noises about him, as you would expect, and if has has learnt to jump that bit better, again as you would expect and reportedly schooled very well the other day, he has an obvious chance in what looks an open year. As and when he runs, they chose not to go to Ireland, if he wins and puts in a fluent display of jumping the price will be cut in half at least. I have 12's and all my fingers crossed.
Five bets on for the Cheltenham Festival before Christmas, I must need my bumps felt, I am off for a lay down in a darkened room - NURSE!
I think I may have a bit of cabin fever having been locked up for so many weeks but the first Cheltenham Festival 2021 bet has been placed, and it is in one of the hardest races to pick the winner!! I have taken 20-1 about a Nicky Henderson trained horse called Paros for the Triumph Hurdle. He won his sole start at Dieppe, France before being purchased by the Bloodstock agents Peter and Toby Jones for Middleham Park Racing; take a look at the video if you can he is towards to front throughout, pinging the hurdles and oozing class. Described as a future Champion Hurdle horse, well before the horse even set foot on a racecourse, he looks a talent and his original owners turned down several six-figure offers reportedly before finally selling. The horse he beat at Dieppe, Jeu De Paume, has since placed in Listed and Grade Three company. Henderson might have a potential star on his hands with this one and reportedly he has told the owners ‘He looks just like the type you would want for the Triumph!’ All being well he will make is UK debut at Sandown on Saturday (5th December), win like a good thing and the 20-1 for March will disappear. Don't miss out, get on now - you have been warned!