Here is a review of events at Mondays Cheltenham Preview evening at Maghull Town Hall.
The evening was hosted by the jovial John Morris with John Parrott, Matt Williams and Ken Pitterson giving their respective take on things.
Well the Town Hall certainly lived up to a venue befitting that name as when the PA System was turned on to commence proceedings we had to endure "Push and push, step forward and back" the PA system had somehow got mixed up with the downstairs aerobics class ! and we had the delights of the panel doing their Mr Motivator routines to the repetitive thumping beat. That was funny for the first 5 minutes but 30 minutes later the joke had well and truly worn a bit thin and someone was despatched to try and pull the plug...... literally !. Unfortunately the bloke that went wasnt quite man enough as we heard him being kicked out of the room over the PA by the burly keep fit woman Instructor !!
Eventually however calm was restored and it all came to an end and the aerobics lesson finished and the 200 or so people packing the hall could get what they had paid for, some hot tips for Cheltenham ??
First up on Day 1 was the Supreme Novices and most of the panel agreed that Cue Card was the way forward for this. Similarly in the Arkle only 1 horse dominated the conversation and that was Medermit ( 2 favs...... were not getting told much here, can we have the aerobics back please !).
Next was the Festival Handicap Chase and John Parrott made a big case for Pipe's Great Endeavour and there were negatives for Bensalem. Ken Pitterson thinks Weird Al is a big ew player for this, if he runs and he also mentioned Nicholls Definity which got nods of approval. The Champion Hurdle next and no surprises here as most seemed keen on Binocular with the horse having been primed for this race alone, Khyber Kim was given as a solid ew alternative, Peddlers Cross didnt have much support and it was felt that Binocular should have the measure of him.
Day 2 starts with the Neptune Novices Hurdle and Matt W was keen on Rock on Ruby ew for this and if it turned up soft then Oscars Well, whereas John P and Ken P were both for So Young with the latter saying the Irish have a strong hand and he expects this to go their way. The RSA Chase had Matt W saying that Time for Rupert was a banker for him, he pointed to his 17 length beating of Quinz at Cheltenham and that horses subsequent Racing Post Chase win. Ken P said that Wymott was a good ew and John M Magnanimity also ew. The Queen Mother and all seemed to side with Big Zeb as the one to win this and the only other horse mentioned was the ew alternative of Woolcombe Folly by Ken P. Next was the Coral Cup which Matt W ducked and John P selected Call the Police and also said Dynaste could be a Pipe handicap plot for this and suggested an ew. Ken P went for Aegean Dawn and John M For Non Stop. The Fred Winter there were a few mentioned, John P suggested Celtus and Kumbeshwar and the shrewd Charles Byrnes Domination, all ew. Matt W came up with O' Grady's Sailors Warn EW who finished 2nd to Unaccompanied in Ireland. Ken P also went with Kumbeshwar and Celtus and John M went for Whitby Jack which was strange as he doesnt even mention it for the race in his cheltenham preview book. Last but not least the Cheltenham bumper and Matt W said he could not better anything Ken P could say about Bumpers and Novices, and that he was the man for this. Ken P then put forward Knights Pass to be another home winner for this race and was complimentary about his chances.
Day 3 The Jewson Novices Chase and Matt W and John P think whichever Hobbs horse turns up between Wishful Thinking and Captain Chris should be respected, both are owned by the same person so probably wont run in the same race although Hobbs has said they will. Ken P was pretty certain Wishful Thinking would run in this race and he also mentioned Loosen My Load and Mr Gardner EW, a bold jumper, John M also went for Mr Gardner. The Pertemps Final and John P thinks this could be another for the Pipe team and put up Chartreux and or Dynaste to do the business, Matt P went for Benbane Head EW, Ken P Alfie Spinner and Kilcrea Kim and John M Barafundle. The Ryanair Chase and Matt W said he had good reports about Tranquil Sea and if it was to come up softish he would be very keen on him, John P picked Poquelin if the going was Good and referred to his 4 wins at the track, he also mentioned Kalahari King at 8/1. Ken P went for Alberta's Run last years winner to maintain the previous winners at Cheltenham hold on this race. John M suggested Weird Al if running. The World Hurdle brought about the best argument of the night with Matt and Ken P siding with Grand Crus and John P Big Bucks, John M mentioned Zaynar and the rest of the panel were bemused by this selection.
The final day and the Triumph kicked off proceedings with Matt W being keen on Unaccompanied, Ken P was also keen and gave mentions to Third Intention EW and Zarkander who he thinks will win. The County Hurdle and Matt W put forward Gordon Elliotts Dirar who won the Ebor last summer and he thinks he will be in on a light weight for this, Ken P went for Snap Tie EW and John P sided with Mullins Final Approach. John M suggested Tito Bustillo. The Albert Bartlett next and Matt gave this a miss and both John P and Ken P went for Champion Court with John P also suggesting Nicholls Join Together and Ken P also suggesting Hendersons Mossley and John M Spirit of Adjisa. Last but not least the Gold Cup itself and Matt W thinks Imperial Commander for this, Ken P put a dampener on it though saying he had heard rumours that the horse just wasnt the same this year and he and John P put forward the 6yo Long Run. Matt said that he thought Midnight Chase had an EW chance as did John M.
Well thats it, you can look back in 2 weeks time and see who was right and who was wrong, I myself have not bothered with jumps racing this winter and I have watched less than 10 races, however I'm going to challenge myself to see how my selections compare with the professionals above with only 1 weeks preparation and you can keep watch of how I get on right here on the blog.
Good luck to everyone !