The greatest racing show on earth – the Cheltenham Festival 2014 – is closing in fast, and no one is more excited than me. I’m bursting with Yeeehaaas!
People say a 2-1 winner is the same anywhere, and of course financially it is, but we all know a 2-1 winner at Cheltenham feels different to a 2-1 winner at Southwell.
And of course taking money of Paddy adds further spice. You hear me Paddy?
Champion Hurdle, Tuesday, March 12, (3.20pm)
We get pumped for the Champion Hurdle on the first day and what a cracker it will be. Annie Power has been confirmed for the World Hurdle so THE NEW ONE has to be the pick for me now. He is proven at the track and the better the field the better he will perform.
Hurricane Fly is superb, but he can’t be getting any faster. While he’s still the best in Ireland, he’s only just the best. If he proves 5lb less good than he currently performs at Leopardstown and the others improve 5lb he is worth taking on.
If there is a danger to Annie Power,
As I have said the top end of the sport is weak in terms of numbers of horses who have the ability to score without fallers causing a major shock, and that helps us as we bid to take Paddy to the cleaners. Boom!
Champion Chase, Wednesday, March 12, (3.20pm)
With the withdrawal of Sprinter Sacre, the Champion Chase has become wide open and much more open in my opinion than the odds suggest with Sire de Grugy now the big-race favourite.
On ratings Sire de Grugy is the one to beat, but he has been to Cheltenham twice before and has failed on both occasions. So while he obviously can win, at the odds he is one to take on.
The two I like against the favourite are Captain Conan and Arvika Ligeonniere. The latter is real classy, but probably prefers going right-handed, so lets take a chance with Captain Conan.
He has been to Cheltenham twice, beating Sire de Grugy on one occasion and running very well behind Benefficient in the Jewson when he didn’t get home over two and a half miles. This might just be his race and we need one to go in at a price to boost winning.
The irony, of course, is that Captain Conan’s trainer Nicky Henderson is also the handler of Sprinter Sacre!
World Hurdle, Thursday, March 13, (3.20pm)
This is a tricky contest now a Annie Power has been given the green light. Rich Richi, her owner, has told me how special the team think she is and I was all over her for the Champion Hurdle to destroy Paddy’s bank account. For me though, the four-time winner Big Buck’s is very much still the one to beat.
I am sure if less use had been made of him on his return to action in the Cleeve Hurdle he would have won under new jock Sam Twiston-Davies. He gave every indication that he still had plenty of talent left.
Cheltenham Gold Cup, Friday, March 14, (3.20pm)
I see this year’s Blue Riband as a match between Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti. Reigning champion BOBS WORTH is the one to be with once again.
The Giant Bolster will also push forward. I expect Bobs Worth to come flying through as the end for another famous success.
So here we have it, a tasty Lucky 15 to get us in the groove nice and early for Cheltenham 2014. Yeeehaaa!