This is a big week for Ireland in sporting terms. We play England in the men’s rugby to try to prevent them from winning the Grand Slam and in The Sport of Kings the battle for the bragging rights at Cheltenham takes place.
Both will I think be mighty battles and if we can win one of them, I think we will be quite content because this year in the rugby and the racing I think that England have very strong teams.
Cheltenham was always held over three days and I think that it was a much more enjoyable racing festival when it was over just the three days. You had the Queen Mother Chase on the Tuesday and then the Champion Hurdle and Champion Bumper on the Wednesday and the Gold Cup always the highlight on the concluding Thursday.
As an experiment they held another days racing on the Friday a few years ago. Similar to this year St Patrick’s Day happened to fall on the Friday. Unlike this year they ran the Gold Cup on the Thursday. It obviously worked for Cheltenham but they didn’t have huge numbers staying on till Friday. Then they decide in their wisdom to move the Gold Cup to the Friday so that more of the racegoers would stay on for the extra day. As a result Thursdays racing is now a little bit mediocre and many people are staying on for the Gold Cup who would really like to be home for Patricks Day.
I wrote to Edward Gillespie the then manager at Cheltenham, a few years ago to suggest they revert back to what was a much more enjoyable timetable but he really wasn’t interested in my comments. Unfortunately as it is in most walks of life it is all about the money.
Anyway that is my gripe out of the way and it’s now all about trying to pick a few winners. I haven’t been too successful in the past few years so if you decide to have a few quid on any of my tips please let the investments be small. We are in it for the fun rather than the profit!!!!
There are two types of races at Cheltenham. The championship races where all horses carry the same weight and as a result in nearly all these races it is the best horse in the race that wins.
Then there are the handicap races where the best handicapped horse wins. They are really two totally different types of races and as I have no idea as to which horses are the best handicapped and do not have the time to do the research, the few horses that I am going to mention all run in the championship races and I have kept away from the handicaps.
So for what they are worth;
Tuesday in the first race, the Supreme Novices Hurdle a horse called Ballyandy at around 5 to 1. I saw Ballyandy win his last race on TV and he also won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last year. In the Champion Hurdle later Brainpower at 7 to 1 is the tentative selection.
On Wednesday just one selection in the Champion Bumper a mare called Fayonagh. I saw her win her second bumper in Ireland at Fairyhouse and was very impressed with the way she finished. She also won a bumper at Naas which suggests she might get up that tough Cheltenham hill. Currently about 12 to 1
Thursday nothing suggested.
Friday just one Sizing John in the Gold Cup. He won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February and is trained by Jessica Harrington a wonderful Irish trainer. He is around 10 to 1.Will he stay the 3 miles 5 furlongs at Cheltenham? We will know Thursday.
Anyway best of luck and let’s hope we have a good week at the races and the rugby.
Ted Dwyer Family Business