Yes, it’s that time of the year when the Irish, English, Welsh and Scottish trainers and jockeys do battle for honours at the annual Cheltenham racing festival. I have been there just once for two days and the memory of the wonderful atmosphere that prevails there is still strong.
The first race I ever saw from Cheltenham was on the TV and it was the race for the Gold Cup in 1964. I was at boarding school in Limerick at the time and, amazingly, we were allowed to watch it live. The fact that racing greats like John Magnier, David Nagle and the famous horse vet, John Hyde, and many more racing fans were also at school at the time prompted the Monks to allow us to watch it. Maybe, just maybe, they too had a few bob on Arkle because there was certainly a few shouts of encouragement from them as Arkle raced away from Mill House up the finishing straight.
I did a piece for the Irish Times recently on a meeting I had subsequently with Arkle’s owner, The Duchess of Westminster (https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/remembering-the-duchess-of-westminster-my-dad-and-their-hunting-days-in-cork-1.3405884)
In March 2017, I did a blog on my fancies for last year’s festival and picked out four horses that I felt had a chance. They were:
- Ballyandy (who was unplaced)
- Brain Power (also unplaced)
- Fayonagh – in the bumper on the Wednesday. He went from last to first up the straight and won going away at 7 to 1. Very sadly during the year he got injured and had to be put down. This was a very sad end to a very talented racehorse.
- My final pick was Sizing John in the Gold Cup and he also won at 7 to 1. Jessica Harrington announced last Thursday that Sizing John is injured and unfortunately will miss this year’s race.
My general advice for this year is definitely to be wary of my selections from last year as lightening probably will not strike twice! Over the four days of the Cheltenham Festival this year there are 28 races so if you want to have a bet on every race, then the best of luck to you, and yes, the bookies will probably love you and your money by the end of the week!
There are two types of races at Cheltenham – the championship ones, like the Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle, the Arkle Chase, the Champion Chase, and the Weathersby’s Bumper. These races are the cream. The best horses race against one another on level weights so that the best horse on the day wins the race, unless they fall or meet with an accident.
The other races are handicaps where the best horses carry the most weight. The job of the handicapper is to give every horse in the race an equal chance of winning. So, it is not necessarily the best horse who wins these races, it is often the horse who is best handicapped. Where possible, the big open handicap races should be avoided like the plague! Watch them with interest but keep your money in your pocket if you want to make a profit.
So, for 2018 I will select just three horses over the 4 days:
- In the Bumper, which is the last race on Wednesday, Rhinestone (current price 8 to 1)
- On Thursday in the 4th race, the Stayer’s hurdle, Supasundae (currently 4 to 1)
- Lastly, in the Gold Cup on Friday, Edwulf (who is priced at 16 to 1). Edwulf is ridden by the wonderful amateur point to point jockey, Derek O’Connor.
So that’s it for Cheltenham 2018, best of luck! Hopefully, come Saturday, we also might claim the rugby Grand Slam to top off what will surely be a week of wonderful sport. The anticipation is mighty!
Ted Dwyer Family Business