1st race tomorrow is a 4 mile slog for amateur riders and with the ground set to be very soft, this really will be a huge test of stamina for the horses and the inexperienced or part-time jockeys.
The top rated horse is Back In Focus trained by Willie Mullins, who had 3 winners today, and is ridden by his son Patrick Mullins. PW Mullins unlike almost all of the other jockeys in the race is a professional in all but name. He rides regularly for his father and has rode 70 winners in the last year out of 211 rides. That's a brilliant strike rate for any jockey, but for an amateur is amazing.
It is the favourite at around 4-1, but the best horse, trained by the best trainer, with the best jockey? Can't see any reason why this won't win. The are only really 4 or 5 that have much of a chance in the race in my opinion so I will be backing Back In Focus to win and putting it in a combination forecast with Buddy Bolero and Hawkes Point.
The second race is a novice hurdle which has some really good young horses in it. The hot favourite is Pont Alexandre for Willie Mullins again and ridden by Ruby Walsh, who had a treble today. At 7-4 it could be something special but I prefer The New One at 5-1
who has won twice at Cheltenham on soft ground and I just think the experience of running up the steep hill finish might be crucial. There are a couple of other possibly top class horses running as well so a cracking race is on the cards.
The RSA Chase looks to be a really strong one this year, it's the Gold Cup for novice chasers really, with 4 horses standing out way above the others.
The favourite is another Willie Mullins horse Boston Bob at around 7-2, with Unioniste, Hadrians Approach and Goulanes next in the betting. All four could well win but Ruby Walsh has chosen not to ride the favourite and is instead on the Paul Nicholls horse Unioniste, that has to tell you he thinks it will beat Boston Bob.
Unioniste has already won at Cheltenham, and has beaten Hadrians Approach before as well as thrashing Golden Chieftan last time and Golden Chieftan won at Cheltenham today.
I'm backing Unioniste to win at 4-1
currently, a fair size bet, and another combination forecast with Goulanes and Hadrians Approach.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase next which has the superstar of NH racing at the moment, Sprinter Sacre the hottest favourite ever for this race. It's going to be around 1-3 or 1-4 favourite and it can't lose, honestly this could be the best jumper ever!
As I said the other day Coral are STILL offering Evens on Sprinter Sacre, maximum of £20 bet, and if you open a new account with them you get a £20 free bet! Get on before they stop the offer.
It is unbeaten in 7 chase races, winning by a combined total of 95 lengths! It strides along so quickly and jumps like a stag without breaking stride. It's won twice at Cheltenham already and it is so good that Sizing Europe who won this race in 2010 and 2011, also 2nd last year, is 7-1 second favourite. Next horse in the betting is 20-1.
The 4.00 is a 28 runner handicap! Best of luck with that but I won't be betting unless I've won a fortune already
Joint favourite is another Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh horse Abbey Lane at 8-1. Says a lot when the favourite is 8-1, a very difficult race to pick with the other joint favourite Pendra for AP McCoy also looking promising.
If Wille Mullins has had another couple of winners it maybe worth backing Abbey Lane, take the price though, and most bookies will give you 5 or even 6 places if you shop around.
The 4.40 is another nightmare to find the winner. 24 runner handicap for novices! So not only are there loads of runners but they are young improving horses as well.
Willie Mullins has 3 runners in this, but again Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride a Paul Nicholls horse, Saphir Du Rheu, which is 7-1 favourite.
Again I might leave this alone unless I'm already winning, and I can't make my mind up yet between the favourite, Bordoni, Counsel and Totalize.
Finally the Champion bumper race, a flat race for NH horses. Some of the best hurdlers have won this race and this year it looks like a particularly strong race.
There are several trainers who do really well with bumper horses like Willie Mullins(37% strike rate this year) with 3 runners, John Ferguson(32% in the last 3 years) 1 runner, David Pipe(38% this year) 3 runners Anthony Honeyball(£73 profit if you put £1 on every nh flat he has had a runner in) 1 runner.
There are also 2 great flat trainers with a runner in the race, Aiden O'Brien with Shield owned by his wife and ridden by his son, and Mick Channon who has Sgt Reckless with Richard Hughes on board. I watched an interview last week with Mick Channon who was saying Sgt. Reckless would win, very, very confident to say the least. So much so I've already had a £10 eachway bet on this at 12-1 with 4 places.
So I was going to leave it at that until I got a text from my mate who lives in Ireland earlier, and he has given me some great tips in the past including another runner in this race, Dr. Harper, who I also gave to Pilgrim Pete a couple of months ago
I expected it to be a text telling me how he had backed all 3 Ruby Walsh/ Willie Mullins horses, which he did, but he said the best bet tomorrow is Le Vent D'Antan which is trained in Ireland but not by the big stables like Mullins, Dessie Hughes or Tony Martin, but it's trained by Miss E Doyle?
Never heard of her but after looking at her more closely she is usually a bloodstock agent who bought two previous winners of this race, Al Ferof and Cheltenian, and sold them for big money after they won point to point races.
My mate says that JP McManus has offered her £500,000 for the horse after it won it's first and only race easily, and she has turned it down! Apparently they have backed it all winter for the race and it is now favouite at 7-1. He did say that there maybe a deal where she keeps it for tomorrow and then it goes to McManus for when it goes jumping.
So I now don't know. I have backed Sgt. Reckless, now 8-1,have been given a tip for the favourite, currently 7-1,I have a feeling John Ferguson's horse Purple Bay could be massive value, currently around 28-1, know that Pipe and Mullins with 6 runners are specialsts at these races and Mullins horses are really red hot, and Regal Encore, currently 9-1 for McCoy and A. Honeyball, was bought by JP McManus for silly money after it won it's first race
There are a couple of others like Golantilla and Fascino Rustico which have been bought for huge amounts of money, so all in all it really is a worse race to work out than the earlier handicaps.
One strange thing is that of the 3 Willie Mullins runners, Union Dues 8-1, Sizing Tennesee 16-1 and Briar Hill 28-1, Ruby Walsh rides the 28-1 shot and PW Mullins rides Union Dues. Nightmare!
Bit of a cop out I suppose me mentioning so many, but it really is that difficult again.
I'll stick my neck out and say the winner will come from Sgt. Reckless, Union Dues, Le Vent D'antan and Regal Encore, with preference going for my original bet Sgt. Reckless.
Good luck again.