So the Cheltenham Festival 2013 is nearly here,all the prep work by the course has almost been done in the way of erecting portable stands for the racegoers,extra spaces for the various media outlets who turn up for the four days,Hospitality which brings in lots of revenue,Various food and drink outlets to keep the masses fed and watered,All hotels will ne full to bursting,Nightclubs and Pubs will be getting warehouses built to store the beer,Celebs shall be making sure they have enough Tweed to be seen in and in Ireland the airport and ferry terminals will be getting ready for the mass exodous.
The turf at this moment covered in frost covers to protect it from the elements that the current weather forecasters are predicting,I’m not really religious but please God keep the nasty elements away from Gloucestershire.
The festivals in racing are unlike anything else that you will see especially the big four which are Cheltenham,Aintree,Epsom and Royal Ascot, the true racing fans love these as it brings the best horses,jockeys and trainers from all over but it’s not just horses trained in the UK as Ireland also get ready to do battle and no more so over this next week will it be more fierce than at Cheltenham which is simply jump racings Olympics albeit without Opening and Closing Ceremonies and various music bands doing their latest album plugs.
Now most online previews will no doubt give you a few tips as what to back but I am not a fan of that as I much prefer to use my own judgement when I’m assessing each race when the decs come out and I can get ready to do my yearly traditions of phoning my bookmaker with whom I have an account with yet only use it for Cheltenham,another one is making sure my little digital radio is charged up so I can listen to 5Live at work and try not to go OTT if I back a winner.
The past few years I have made a profit,not much as I am not a big punter,for me £5 is my on course limit but maybe £10 if I am confident aka Moscow Flyer in his first Melling Chase at Aintree. Last year was horrendous for me as I only got one winner in Big Buck’s and during the week I won two tickets for the Midlands National at Uttoxeter but after the Friday I was not really keen to go after taking a pounding but managed to get to the course and flog them to a tout in the car park for £20 which I promptly used to watch Crewe v Swindon.
This years festival has a good look about it ,for me the 2012 one was not a vintage but the quality on show for 2013 is what this sport is all about as their are horses with huge reputations going in but will the old saying “Pride comes before a fall” be relevant after racing has been done.
Of course this year will have a few horses missing such as Kauto Star who has begun a new life in dressage,Denman now retired and the mighty Big Buck’s who would have lifted the stands from the foundations had he won a record Fifth World Hurdle but sadly this year is out injured.
Yet we now face new questions,Can Hurricane Fly regain his Champion Hurdle crown of Rock on Ruby?,is Simonsig going to fend off Overturn in the Arkle,Will you take the odds on Sprinter Sacre?or as i will be doing looking for good Each Way value,Can Cue Card fly home in the Ryanair Chase?,Who will be the new World Hurdle hero?,Is Long Run going to regain his Gold Cup or can Silviniaco Conti continue his huge rise through the ranks and will the North take it with Cape Tribulation?
This is one of the great things going into a big festival we simply do not know,The races are run on the course and not on paper and while the bookies could potentially take a real hiding from the punters they could also travel in First Class on their holidays if the so called “Dead Certs” get turned over and it is possible in racing,nothing is that simple in this sport.
Also the difference in the racing is noted from the opening roars of the Supreme Novices then the ins and outs of the Cross Country,The younger jockeys with their chance to shine In the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle and finally the true Corinthian spirit of the sport with the three races for amateur riders with the premier race being the Foxhunters which is straight after the Gold Cup over the same course and distance,this race will have a much bigger field and the finish will be amazing but it is one of the races that makes the festival and without it the meeting would be that little bit poorer.
So over this Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday and Friday lets enjoy this wonderful spectacle from one of sports most scenic settings and see the very best that National Hunt racing has to offer,It will be emotional and make you feel happy then sad and probably get you frustrated if your selection does not hack up as you were probably told it would do.
Spring is slowly arriving and this week is one of the best in the calendar yet while ITV will be showing Barcelona v AC Milan on Tuesday evening I will be concerned about what will win Wednesdays Four Miler, Yes it is Festival time so lets enjoy and wish all horses and jockeys a safe trip round and hope they all come home in one piece.