Friday Preview

Friday Preview

After a good first two days, the Thursday curse reappeared, with two seconds and a third, none of which I'd had the sense to back each way. Despite that, we’re playing with the bookies money on the final day, and whilst I’m keen to get my hands on more of it, I’m not keen to throw a load back at them recklessly either.

Looking at the Specials bets, it had looked like Rawnaq might be coming to win the Plate approaching the last before crashing through it. To make thinks worse, Darna won at 33/1 despite being put up by Pricewise. That scuppered the 20/1 bet for the Fred Winter to provide the longest SP of the week. It was also a bad day for the 9/1 15+ Irish winners bet as the British won 5 of the 6 races, leaving Ireland on 9 winners. It would be asking a lot for a repeat of last year's 6 Irish winners on the last day.

The final day's betting is complicated by the fact that it is due to rain for much of the day. The ground was basically riding good on Thursday but if the rain comes it'll soon soften. In particular, rain falling on chewed up ground later in the day would make it really testing.

This isn't great for some of my ante-post bets. In the County Rich Coast wants good ground and that would be the ideal surface for Smad Place in the Gold Cup and Current Event in the Foxhunter. I'm seeking solace from the fact that Ted Veale and Salsify were hugely inconvenienced by the rain on the final day 2 years ago, but still managed to win for the column.

The one race where the likely rain is less of a concern is the Albert Bartlett. I backed Shantou Bob ante-post at 25/1 and Martello Tower at 12/1 so that covers a lot of angles in that race. Both ought to handle testing ground but given how much of a slog the Albert Bartlett becomes on soft going, that would make me even sweeter on Martello Tower's chances. If you're not already on, he's the bet of the day, (available at 10/1.)

If you are able to wait until Friday afternoon to bet then you'll have a big advantage in terms of a much better understanding of the ground. At this stage it doesn't seem a good strategy to put up soft ground horses against those already in the column, given the rain might not arrive.

I'd sooner look at the later races where I've not yet had a bet and which could be run on really bad ground. I'm focussing on the Grand Annual, which as a cavalry charge 2m chase, is the perfect way to end the Festival.

Hats off to the Cheltenham establishment for naming it after the great AP McCoy, to celebrate his last Cheltenham Festival ride. His mount, last year's 2nd Ned Buntline, is already pretty short at 5/1 and it's likely sentimental money will shorten him further. There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house if he were to win but it is not a betting proposition under the circumstances.

There are a few in here I like for whom a lot of rain would be a major concern - Next Sensation (14/1) and Grumeti (20/1) in particular, and it probably isn't ideal for Eastlake (14/1) or Ted Veale (16/1) either.

However, the one obvious one that would like soft ground is Blood Cotil (9/1). He handles soft ground really well and also stays further which is an ideal combination for this race. He was seen as a novice for the Grade 1s earlier in the season. He ran into the classy Gilgamboa on his chasing debut and then might have got outstayed by Wounded Warrior over 2m4f. Taken out at the first fence in his next start, he then bolted up last time. He looks to have a great chance to provide an ironic end to AP's Festival career by providing his great friend and rival Ruby Walsh with a winner in AP's last race. He could be really well handicapped off 141.

There are others to consider and it would be even more ironic if JP's other runner Festive Affair (33/1) won this off 10-3, (below McCoy's lowest riding weight now.) He's not been in form this season but looks really well handicapped on his old form.

The other one I like is Brick Red (25/1). He looked a good novice on bad ground last year and arrives here in good form having chased home Mr Mole twice before winning off 144 last time. The problem is he is up to 150 now, a 3lb higher mark than any conventional handicap chase has been won off this century. It'll be tough to give that weight away if the ground gets soft.

There are loads with chances but if the forecast rain arrives it'll really play into Blood Cotil's hands and the Mullins/Walsh/Ricci axis can end the Festival as it began - with a winner.

1pt Blood Cotil to win the Grand Annual @ 9/1

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Cheltenham Countdown

The best Cheltenham Festival blog on the planet returns for 2015!

Over the past three years our National Hunt expert Matt Tombs has held our hands on the road to the Cheltenham Festival, with analysis and bets through the season, but the main focus being on the four days in March that brings the racing world together.

Matt has turned a profit every year, and in 2014 ante-post bets on Jezki (12/1) and Balthazar King (33/1) ensured it was another successful Festival. View the archive of years past at 2014, 2013 and 2012.

You can also follow and contact Matt on Twitter.

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Cheltenham Portfolio:

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Bentelimar - Supreme Novices - 0.5pts e/w 50/1 - U/P

Un De Sceaux - Arkle - 1pt 6/1 - WON


Smashing - Arkle w/o Un De Sceaux - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - Champion Hurdle - 1pt e/w 33/1 NRNB - 2nd

Polly Peachum - Mares Hurdle - 1pt e/w 10/1 NRNB - 2nd

Cause Of Causes - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 8/1 NRNB - WON

Wounded Warrior - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 10/1 - N/R

Vroum Vroum Mag - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Cocktails At Dawn - Novices Handicap Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - U/P

Jarry D'Honneur - Novices Handicap Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - N/R

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Nichols Canyon - Neptune Novices - 1pt 6/1 NRNB - 3rd

Arbre De Vie - Neptune Novices - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Champagne West - RSA Chase - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Valseur Lido - RSA Chase - 1pt 10/1 NRNB - N/R

Simply Ned - Champion Chase - 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P

Sire Collonges - Cross Country - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Moon Racer - Champion Bumper - 1pt 12/1 - WON

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Apache Stronghold - JLT - 1pt 16/1 - 2nd

Caid Du Berlais - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Un Temps Pour Tout - World Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Whisper - World Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

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Rich Coast - County Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

Shantou Bob - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Martello Tower - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Dynaste - Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Smad Place - Gold Cup - 1pt e/w 25/1 NRNB - U/P

Current Event - Foxhunter Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

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15 or more - Total Irish Winners - 1pt 9/1 - Lost

Mullins treble - Novice Hurdles - 1pt 20/1 - Lost

Fred Winter - Longest Winning SP Race - 1pt 20/1 - Lost

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Other bets:

Shanahan's Turn - Novice Handicap Chase - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Pearlysteps - Champion Hunters Chase - 1pt 9/1 - 3rd

Rivage D'Or - La Touche Cup - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Lots Of Memories - World Series Hurdle - 1pt e/w 40/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Punchestown Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

No More Heroes - Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - 1pt 10/3 - U/P

Ange D'Or Javilex - Martinstown Handicap Hurdle - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Modus - Champion INH Flat Race - 1pt 5/1 - 3rd

Valseur Lido - Growise Novice Chase - 1pt 9/1 - WON

Mallowney - Boylesports Champion Chase - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Saint Are - Grand National - 1pt 33/1 - 2nd

Corrin Wood - Grand National - 1pt 100/1 - U/P

Cole Harden - Liverpool Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - 2nd

Nichols Canyon - Mersey Novices Hurdle - 1pt 7/2 - WON

Sizing Granite - Maghull Novices Chase - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Simply Ned - Melling Chase - 1pt 22/1 - U/P

Carraig Mor - Mildmay Novices Chase - 1pt 14/1 - 2nd

Roi Des Francs - Sefton Novices Hurdle - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Blue Heron - Aintree Hurdle - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Silviniaco Conti - Aintree Bowl - 1pt 3/1 - WON

Dresden - Red Rum Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Neverownup - Fox Hunter Chase - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Wicklow Brave - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Houblon Des Obeaux - Denman Chase - 1pt 10/3 - 2nd

On His Own - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 7/2 - U/P

Apache Stronghold - Flogas Novice Chase - 1pt 5/1 - WON

Un Temps Pour Tout - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - 3rd

Robinsfirth - Classic Novice Hurdle - 1pt 8/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - Irish Champion Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - 2nd

Twinlight - Clarence House Chase - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Katie T - Boylesports Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Lord Windermere - Lexus Chase - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Dedigout - Leopardstown Xmas Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 - U/P

Le Vent d'Antan - Beginners' Chase - 1pt 3/1 - WON

Al Ferof - King George - 1pt 6/1 - 3rd

Purple Bay - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - 2nd

Simply Ned - Dial-a-Bet Chase - 1pt 10/1 - 3rd

Corrin Wood - Rowland Meyrick - 1pt 8/1 - 3rd

Ma Filleule - King George - 2pts 33/1 - N/R

Hello George - Ladbroke - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Caid Du Berlais - December Gold Cup - 1pt 7/2 - U/P

Zamdy Man - International Hurdle - 1pt e/w 12/1 - U/P

Dodging Bullets - Tingle Creek - 1pt 10/1 - WON

Irish Saint - Henry VIII - 1pt 13/8 - U/P

Ma Filleule - Betfred Chase - 1pt 9/4 - U/P

Benny's Mist - Grand Sefton - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Rocky Creek - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Aurore D'Estruval - Fighting Fifth - 1pt 4/1 - 2nd

Real Steel - Drinmore - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Tandem - Royal Bond - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Menorah - Betfair Chase - 1pt 9/1 - 2nd

Zamdy Man - Price Rush Hurdle - 1pt 25/1 - 2nd

Caid Du Berlais - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - WON

Sausalito Sunrise - Club Novices Chase - 1pt 3/1 - 2nd

Simply Ned - Shloer Chase - 1pt 9/4 - 2nd

Regal Encore - Greatwood Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Jezki - Morgiana Hurdle - 1pt 4/5 - 2nd