Cheltenham Festival Day Three (Thursday) Live Blog

17:05 Right, well done to the favourite backers. It’s been your day of days this afternoon. Tomorrow surely can’t be more of the same, and I’m expecting a correction in favour of those of us who generally look deeper down the betting lists.

I’ve very much enjoyed your contributions, and blogging in real time. It’s always reassuring to know it’s not just me!

Have a great night, and I’ll be back in the morning with my Day Four ‘get out’ mission.

17:00 Further salt in my punting wounds was applied by the fact that the placepot looks like it will be around £370, and I would otherwise have had it for £3.20. Alas, I missed the Pertemps.

Regarding this race and high weighted horses, and non-claiming amateurs… the first four home were weighted 1, 2, 3, and 6 and were all ridden by non-claiming amateurs.

16:51 Sunnyhillboy was the Pricewise selection, and it looks as though there will be some bookies re-mortgaging their second homes after today.

Becauseicouldntsee was second, Exmoor Ranger third, and Up The Beat fourth.

Brilliant rides – and runs – from the second and third. The fourth came from a mile back but couldn’t quick like the winner.

Benbane Head ran out of gas on the softer ground, and would surely have gone close on faster ground.

My cheeky tenner at 65 on Exmoor Ranger looked promising for a moment, but the winner was very well handicapped.

16:50 Another favourite wins the races! At 13/2!!!! Amazing. Carnage in the ring, as the punters are slayers of the layers.

16:43 Comedy start to a comedy race, with Sona Sasta planted and setting off about twenty lengths behind the rest.

He has caught them up but will have to pass the lot.

16:40 Expect this to be frenetic, and lots of thrills and spills.

Best of luck to punters, horses and riders.

They’re not yet away and running for the ‘lucky last’ (how ironic that statement generally is!).

All jammed against the tape… hmm.

16:37 7/1 the field here. Sunnyhillboy is that horse, followed in by 8/1 Up The Beat, and then 10/1 bar, which brings in Brackloon High, Midnight Appeal and Start Me Up.

Lively outsiders are Exmoor Ranger, Benbane Head and The Hollinwell.

Now 15/2 the field. As Run DMC once noted, It’s tricky!!!

16:33 OK, tips coming in now. Jim wants Benbane Head for a very nice e/w Lucky 15

Champion Court (2nd 8/1) cape Trib (W at 16/1) The Cockney Machem (2nd at 18/1) has the last leg of Benbane Head @ 25/1.

Chris W is going with the top two in the market, whilst Will fancies Midnight Appeal and Your Busy.

Good luck all.

16:31 I need a winner! Anybody got a good thing for me here?

16:26 Somewhat mercifully, perhaps, it’s the last race of the day upcoming. Amateur riders, three and a quarter miles, and lots of pesky fences.

Here’s the stat attack:

History offers us little in the way of clues, aside from the fact that the last twelve winners were aged 7-10 years, with eleven of them between seven and nine years old.

It is material to note that – aside from seasonal debutant, Royal Predica – all of the remaining eleven had a podium finish already that season (and ten finished first or second already).

The Irish have failed to win this for the last 29 years!

And in recent times, the better horses have performed best, especially those ridden by non-claiming amateurs. Best horses, best jockeys: it makes sense, right?

Benbane Head is the horse that best fits my trends. It’s a horse I’ve backed, and so has Jim. Good luck to both of us!

16:19 Back to those favourite stats, and that’s 62% of jollies (13 from 21) which have made the frame this week. That does take the edge off my placepot disappointment, as it’s very difficult for the ‘pot to pay when the results are so market aligned…

16:16 Salut Flo takes the remarkable record of French-bred’s in the race to seven winners and four runners up from the last thirteen renewals of the Byrne Group Plate.

16:13 Last year, eight favourites obliged. In 2003, ten favourites obliged. With eight races left in 2012, we’ve already had eight favourites win.

A proper pasting for the layers. I hope you’ve been making them pay, because I sure haven’t!

16:10 Salut Flo, the Pipe punt, lands the gamble. Well done if you were on. These are the kind of horses I simply can’t have, and when they beat me, I just have to wear it.

Unfortunately for me, and anyone unlucky enough to be following me today, I’m having a mare… 🙁

16:07 Good grief! Another favourite obliges! Can you remember a year like it for jollies?

16:00 Sorry about that, had to make a cup of tea for Mrs Matt, who’s just returned from a busy day working.

They’re lining up… and they’re away! Pretty much on time.

Best of luck here – you’ll need it!! 😉

15:53 Crack Away Jack and Niceonefrankie well backed. Salut Flo easy to back, having been hammered by connections long since!

15:52 Ferdy and Venetia, those wiliest of wily handicap trainers at the Festival, are the fancies of the comment crew.

That’s Divers and Niceonefrankie. Easy to see why in both cases, so good luck boys!

15:43 After the brilliance and bravery of Big Buck’s, we’re greeted with the conundrum of the Byrne Group Plate.

With its intermediate distance of 2m5f, this has come to be a race which favours French-bred horses. To wit, a French-bred has been in the first two in ten of the last twelve runnings (six winners, four runners up).

However, the last two have been notable by their absence, though they were under-represented in 2010.

All bar two of the last two dozen horses rated higher than 141 were beaten in this race and, given that there are likely to be around ten horses with higher marks this year, I’ll be fielding against them.

Younger horses do better here than in other handicap chases at the Festival, with seven of the last twelve aged eight or younger. Those figures include six of the last eight winners.

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This lack of predictability is reflected in the starting prices, as every winner since the turn of the century returned at 12/1 or bigger. Majadou, in 1999, was the only winning favourite in nearly thirty years.

So good luck if you’re rowing in with Salut Flo at a deflating 9/2 as I write..!

Niceonefrankie is the trends horse, and also fits my little handicap system (less than eleven stone, won last time out, 33/1 or shorter).

15:38 Just watching the race again. So Young didn’t stay, Mikael d’Haguenet doesn’t have the bottle for a battle, Five Dream was ridden from the front for the first time ever!, Mourad and the rest just not good enough in a true run top class staying hurdle.

It will be very interesting to see what the ratings boys make of this Big Buck’s performance.

15:33 Oscar Whisky clearly didn’t stay, which doesn’t help me having backed him for the Champion Hurdle at 33/1 early in the season.

Smad Place, just a 5yo, ran a belter in third.

And then came the 2m4f horses, Thousand Stars and Oscar Whisky. They’ll likely cross swords again at Aintree over their right trip.

What was your take on the World Hurdle?

15:30 Voler La Vedette, who has run magnificently, looked set to cruise past BB up the hill. But when BB sees a rival trying to usurp his crown, he fights. This was a full field, and a high class field.

Any Big Buck’s knockers – not we’ll hear from them now – are firmly in their place. This fellow is ‘da man’!

15:28 Bloody hell! What a monster! He looked like he was going to get swamped, and Big Buck’s just kept finding more.

15:20 They’re off for the World Hurdle! Good luck Big Buck’s, and all of them. Race well and come home safely!

15:19 Almost post time, and they bet 5/6 Big Buck’s, 4/1 Oscar Whisky, 8/1 Thousand Stars. Rock solid market here.

15:17 An outbreak of common sense from Vasilis, who commented that we should probably make bigger bets at the smaller tracks, and just have fun wagers here at the toughest meeting of them all (with the exception of Royal Ascot).

You’re right, Vasilis, but where’s the fun in that?!

15:15 Lots of you (Ray, Chris, Will) trumpeting the each way chance of Dynaste. Seems like a considerably more sensible shout than my Five Dream place suggestion.

15:12 Tactics will be interesting here. I’m presuming that Dynaste will take it along, perhaps with one of the Mullins quartet.

Oscar Whisky normally races prominently, but will presumably be held up to get the trip. In that case, he’ll either come into the race stylishly or never get to the front… possible in running place lay?

So Young and Mikael d’Haguenet also can make the running, as can Mourad!

At a monster price, Five Dream might plug on into a place. He’s 28/1 on Betfair to do that, which implies I might be talking nonsense… Not for the first time!

15:05 OK, onwards and downwards! It’s time for the magnificent Big Buck’s to strut his stuff. And he’s 4/5 to do the job!

I nailed my colours to the So Young mast a long time ago, and have a wager in situ accordingly.

It’s a wide open race, and the recent trends are skewed somewhat by the multiple winners, Baracouda, Inglis Drever and Big Buck’s himself.

He’s nine now, but Inglis Drever won at that age, so no big problems there.

Oscar Whisky is 4/1, it’s then 8/1 Thousand Stars, and 16/1 bar, which brings in Dynaste and So Young.

What’s your bet against Big Buck’s?

15:00 Brilliant run from Albertas Run in the hat-trick bid. Game horse indeed, and I did him a disservice by suggesting he was too old and the break wouldn’t suit. His record suggests he’s best fresh.

The Irish are now 0 from 23 runners in the race. And didn’t manage a horse in the first four this time.

14:55 All in agreement that was a great race. Pity some ran well below form (mostly the ones I’d backed). Riverside Theatre allegedly a shocking result for William Hill.

After Sir Des Champs in the opener, it’s been a dark day for the Leeds firm so far. Big Buck’s winning will hardly lighten the mood…

And Councillor Jim is out of the placepot as well.

14:48 The Hendo magic potions strike again! Riverside Theatre was never in front until strides from the line.

Many ran stinkers. Albertas and Medermit were notable exceptions, as was Captain Chris and Forpadydeplasterer.

Personally, an absolute horror story for me.

14:41 Poquelin withdrawn, with a dribble of blood in his mouth. Not sure what caused it.

They’re off!

14:40 Best race of the meeting for me, this. Really deep and classy field. Excellent contest.

The best of luck to all who are playing in it. Noble Prince and Rubi Light if ground is softish, for me.

14:39 No horse aged older than ten have placed – bad news for Albertas Run fans…

14:36 Great news for Councillor Jim – he’s had 33/1 Cape Tribulation ante post, and got through the placepot with Catch Me. Well done that man.

Not such great news for Anton, who needs Noble Prince here or he’s going to have to go back to work. That’s really awful news, Anton!

Best news of all is that Sonofvic got up after that slithering fall in the last race, and lives to race another day.

14:30 Trends for the Ryanair. It’s a relatively new race, but there are some good trends.

All seven winners had previously won at Cheltenham… and so had five of the second-placed horses.

Course form very important.

This has been a poor race for the Irish, who have yet to register a winner from nineteen attempted runners. They do have a couple of really strong chances this time, with Rubi Light and Noble Prince.

Personally, I have marks against the following:

Albertas Run – off a long time and eleven now
Captain Chris – can’t jump, won’t jump?
Forpadydeplasterer – getting on now (10yo) but likes it here, half an each way squeak
Great Endeavour – out of form? (Respect the Pipe’s though)
Kalahari King – too old and off a long time
Little Josh – not good enough
Medermit – fancied to run well without winning. A very unlucky horse.
Poquelin – been beaten in two less competitive renewals, so can’t fancy him here.
Riverside Theatre – bounce bounce bounce? Or has he been at the magic Henderson juice?
Rubi Light – I was worried about the ground, but with all the watering they’ve done, it might be ok for him. Interesting.
Somersby – not convinced this is the right trip for him. We’ll see.
Blazing Tempo – she might not be good enough, but she will try and she’s in great form.

Right, that’s cleared things up then…. not!

What are you on in this one?

14:22 Right lads, listen up! Bookies William Hill are gloating about barely laying a penny on Cape Tribulation.

In the next race, they went 7/1 this morning about Noble Prince, and I didn’t get on alas.

I really like Noble Prince here, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Blazing Tempo runs a blinder with her allowance.

What are your Ryanair fancies?

14:18 Malcolm Jefferson was interviewed before the race and seem extremely unnerved to have been caught by the cameras. He seems a lot happier now.

14:15 Seven deep in the placepot, and down. 🙁

Terrible result for me personally. Can’t believe I didn’t have the winner in the placepot. Too many have run badly there.

It’s a hard, hard race. Well done for CT backers.

14:12 The trials and Tribulations of Cheltenham handicap hurdles! Gavin’s Festival Trends top rated the winner and had Cantlow on joint second top-rated. He’s here gloating, as I didn’t back the winner…

14:05 Outsider shouts for Houblon Des Obeaux and Reindeer Dippin and Prince Erik.

Expect Buena Vista to try to make it. here we go!

13:58 A fair few like Sir Kezbaah at a decent price. I’ve heard whispers for Barwell Bridge, Buena Vista (of course), Sonofvic… and about a dozen others.

Money for Buena Vista, Thehillofuisneach, Cape Tribulation, and top weight Restless Harry.

13:53 Right, as Will F said in the comments, this is MUCH tougher!

Trends for the Pertemps Final are as follows:

Aged six to nine (like eleven of the last twelve winners);

Weighted 11-02 or less; rated below 142;

Win or second place in last three starts (as did eight of the last twelve winners; two of the failers were both Buena Vista).

Finally, nine of the last sixteen winners also won last time out, and Buena Vista was responsible for two of the non-winning seven.

The shortlist is one horse deep! Bellflower Boy

13:46 My placepot tickets – created with the brilliant bet builder tool – are below:

Click the image to actually SEE the numbers I went with..! 😉

13:40 Ed Crompton from William Hill tells us it wasn’t a good race for them.

They offered 5/1 this morning and many – including me! – took advantage. Thanks Jerry for putting the bet on for me. 🙂

I’ll be back with my placepot tickets in a minute.

13:39 Travelled brilliantly, jumped brilliantly, and he has a great chance of being the first Jewson winner to win the Gold Cup next year.

Champion Court ran a blinder, and was a most deserving silver medallist.

For Non Stop ran a very honest race, having not travelled well early in the contest. That’s as good as he is, I’d say.

Good start for you? How are you doing? (I backed the winner and the third…)

13:35 Sir Des! Quite easy in the end, for Sir Des Champs, who was much the best.

Peddlers ran a shocker.

13:29 Lots of you like Sir Des Champs and For Non Stop. Let’s hope you’re right! Champion Court also got a mention, and is for local trainer Martin Keighley. His owner was just on the box in a very, erm, fetching suit formed from the horse’s colours!

They’ll be lining up here in a second. Good luck whatever you’ve backed.

13:24 No trends for the opener, as it was first run last year. I’m against Peddlers Cross, after his last race wobble, time off the track, and bad vibes from the yard.

Personally, I think For Non Stop’s win in the Scilly Isles Novices Chase at Newbury (Grade 1) is the best form in UK; and Sir Des Champs has the best Irish form.

What are your fancies? Leave a comment, or tweet me @MattBisogno

13:20 WELCOME to the 2012 Cheltenham Festival Live Blog!

Apologies for late arrival. London Transport, normally so reliable, had a few minor mishaps. I’m literally just in the door, and raring to go…

…starting with the Jewson Novices Chase at 1.30pm.


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