Friday, 15 March 2013

Jumping for Joy ..... but for Cheltenham 2014

Although in this blog I’ve been very critical of Cheltenham in terms of its very poor customer service and dreadful facilities, no-one can deny that as a racing festival there is nowhere that the National Hunt enthusiast would rather be in the second week of March. Knowing from bitter experience the toll that the Festival takes – total immersion in betting, Guinness and red wine, and that’s only during the day, never mind the evenings – I felt that discretion is definitely the better part of valour and that the blog should be written the previous weekend, which is what I’ve done.

So by 15th, we’ll know whether any of these amazing stats have been turned over:
  • No horse has regained the Champion Hurdle crown since Comedy Of Errors in 1975. Will Hurricane Fly have prevailed?
  • Only Golden Miller (1932-1936) has won at five successive Cheltenham Festivals. Will the gorgeous Quevega have equalled that record?
  • Over the last 40 years, the Champion Chase has only been won by two seven-year-olds. Come on, Sprinter Sacre.
  • No Feltham winner has ever gone on to win the RSA Chase. Odds stacked against Dynaste.
  • Thursday at the Festival has been a roller-coaster for the Irish. They may have done well in the Jewson, but other races have been a disaster. Will this year have been any different? They haven’t won the World Hurdle since 1995; they have never won the Ryanair; and it was 1983 with the gallant Greasepaint that they last won the Kim Muir. A great day to lay the Irish horses – or was it?
  • Will Long Run have been able to regain the Gold Cup? Only one other horse has ever done it – Kauto Star.
Time now to take off the anorak. The reason why I mention I’m jumping for joy is that we’ve had such a fantastic start in Owners for Owners with our four National Hunt horses, all bought over the Autumn. Houndscourt has come second on each of his two runs, and has earned a really positive Timeform comment and 115p rating; Shantou Magic came fourth in one of the hottest bumpers so far, at Ascot; Quick Decisson won on his first outing and then came third in his next bumper; and finally Lady Charisma came 6th in a hot mares’ bumper on her first outing. If I put the anorak back on again, then the question is which races might we be dreaming of for Cheltenham 2014? The Jewson or RSA Chase for Houndscourt? The Neptune or the Bartlett for Shantou Magic? The Pulteney or the Arkle for Quick Decisson? The Mares’ Hurdle for Lady Charisma?

I know in this game you should never look ahead, but wouldn’t it be absolutely fantastic if at least one of the horses managed one of the above engagements. May the dream live long through next season.


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