It’s time to get the Obeaux out for Cheltenham!
Temperatures dropped throughout the day at Cheltenham on Thursday. Sitting in the press room was little protection from the cold as when the breeze blew and the door gently moved ajar it felt like the fridge door was being opened.
Who would have thought we may have seen next year’s Gold Cup winner? But the 15-length JLT Novice victor Vautour shoulders that responsibility with aplomb. It took just a few minutes for the 8-1 quote to disappear. A couple of hours later, the 7-1 was swallowed up and come late afternoon he was 6-1 best price joint-favourite with Don Poli.
It’s the second time in as many years that he has emptied the bookmakers satchels and the monetary reserves in the big firms were almost being broached as the 5-2, 2-1, 15-8, 7-4 were all gone before he was priced up on course. He was returned 6-4 and the bookmakers after two days and one race were on a bigger back foot that the England cricket team.
After Call The Cops landed the Pertemps Hurdle you felt the layers were almost dialling 999 themselves to be rescued, but whether it was the temperature that dropped or the punters, who hadn’t entered AP into the calculations come 2.40pm, the tide turned.
What a majestic ride by the champ on Uxizandre, and one of maturity by Gavin Sheehan on Cole Harden. The latter had been available and backed at fancy prices in the weeks before the race. Some had kept the faith.
On to the final day with the score Punters 2, Bookmakers 1. The heavens have opened so who will that favour? In the Triumph Hurdle Beltor has already gained many followers but come post time, if there has been considerable rainfall, he’ll be the Pied Piper of Cheltenham. He scythed through his opposition at Kempton and the worse the ground the better he will flow.
Race two and the ground worries me for Quick Jack. I did glance at Orgilgo Bay but I might be tempted to have the tiniest of interests on Forced Family Fun each-way.
I’m out of form, have lost my confidence and yet I have funds invested on Thomas Brown in the Albert Bartlett. Here’s hoping he runs a big race.
The same applies to Djakadam and I see all through the day he is closing in on Gold Cup favouritism as Silviniaco Conti is pushed out to 5-1. The value in the race if the rain is relentless throughout the afternoon could well be Houblon Des Obeaux who won’t have to concede weight to everyone and can deal with heavy underfoot conditions.
Just as an interest I’ve done Jollys Cracked It and Ted Veale in the last two but I’ll be cheering just as loudly for AP McCoy if he leads over the last in the closing contest. If you are coming to Cheltenham wrap up warm and bring a brolly!
Tanya Stevenson's Friday Cheltenham selections:
2.40 Cheltenham: Thomas Brown at 16-1.
3.20 Cheltenham: Houblon Des Obeaux each-way at 40-1.
Tanya Stevenson's big-race pointers:
1.30 Cheltenham - JCB Triumph Hurdle:
Nicky Henderson has won the race five times.
Barry Geraghty is attempting to win the race for a fourth time on Peace And Co.
Only eight favourites have won in 49 runnings.
Detroit City was the last winning favourite in 2006.
Nine Irish-trained winners since 1965.
Five of the last fifteen Adonis winners to run in the Triumph have won – Beltor.
Seven of the last ten winners won last time out.
All of the last twenty winners had finished no worse than third on their most recent run.
Nine of the last ten winners had finished no worse than third in their career.
The last three winners all ran at Leopardstown last time out.
Eight of the last 10 winners were in the first four in the betting.
2.05 Cheltenham - Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle Handicap Chase:
The winner has been Irish-trained six of the last eight years
Only two of the last ten winners were aged older than six.
Eight of the last ten started 10-1 or bigger.
Ruby Walsh has won four County Hurdles.
Paul Nicholls has won four County Hurdles, including Lac Fontana last year.
Since 2002 four winners have been grey, Thousand Stars, American Trilogy, Sporazene and Rooster Booster.
Desert Quest was the last winning favourite back in 2006.
Eighteen of the last 20 winners had run at least four times in the season.
Nineteen of the last 25 winners finished placed at worst last time out.
Eight of the last 10 winners carried 10-13 or less.
Fifteen of the last 18 winners had run in the previous five weeks.
2.40 Cheltenham - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle:
Eight of the ten had finished in the first two last time out.
Eight of the ten winners were priced in single figures.
Jonjo O’Neill is two from two in the race.
Eight of the ten winners were aged six or seven.
Four of the ten favourites have won.
AP McCoy has ridden the winner three times.
Willie Mullins 13 runners have all been beaten.
Paul Nicholls nine runners have all been beaten.
Nigel Twiston-Davies nine runners have all been beaten.
Seven of the ten winners had run at Cheltenham earlier in the season.
3.20 Cheltenham - Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup:
Twelve of the last 15 winners had been previously placed at the Festival.
Seventeen of the last 19 winners were aged between seven and nine.
Five of the last ten favourites have won.
Seven of the last ten winners won last time out.
Horses aged ten or over are 0 from 46 in the last ten years.
Bobs Worth is five from six at Cheltenham.
Fourteen of the last 15 winners had run in either the King George or Lexus Chase.
Eleven horses priced 33-1 or bigger have been placed since 1997.
In the last 30 years six horses have won the King George and Gold Cup in the same season, Burrough Hill Lad 84, Desert Orchid 89, See More Business 99, Best Mate 2002, Kicking King 2005 and Kauto Star did it twice in 2007 & 2009.
Kauto Star, Best Mate, L’Escargot, Arkle, Cottage Rake, Golden Miller and Easter Hero have all won the Gold Cup more than once.
All of Willie Mullins eleven runners have been beaten, he has had four seconds and a third.