Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Unsurprisingly there was a sell-out for Rod Stewart's concert at Newbury on Sunday with a crowd of 15,000 people in attendance.  Even A P McCoy was there, although I can't imagine him singing and swaying along to I Am Sailing!  It proves that with the right kind of event supporting the racemeetings, the courses can pull in big crowds.  I firmly believe that racecourses should be looking to stage more events than just racing - some of the courses even have a golf course on the inside of the track, so surely they could utilise that more.  Having said that, I once heard a great excuse from a jockey trying to explain his disappointing performance to connections - he stood on a golf ball!  As far as excuses go that was a good one - I still remember one jockey telling MCP that the sun had reflected in the water jump and blinded him!  I won't tell you his name, although he had "RA" painted on his skullcap!

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The big match on Saturday was a disappointment (and sorry i'm not talking about Manchester United versus Barcelona!) for many fans as Torquay lost and face another year in the bottom league.  In the Champions league final Man United looked very one paced and were completely outplayed by Barcelona and even Sir Alex agreed.  I now think it is about time that United need about four new players.  A few of the players look to have got old together and the midfield looks tired and even the defence does not look as good with Rio Ferdinand not looking the player he was before all his injuries.  Maybe the Premier League is not as good as we all think it is?!  Anyway the matter of the fact is that Barcelona were very good with three or four of thier players exceptional and that was the difference between the teams.  Sir Alex did get one good result over the weekend though as son Darren's team Peterborough won the League One division play off 3-0 against Huddersfield.

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There is going to be a testimonial cricket match at Cullompton Cricket Club on Friday evening for recovering jump jockey Rodi Greene.  A team of racing celebrities will play against a team from Otter Brewery - it sounds like it could get a bit rowdy to me!  After the match there will be an auction which will include star lot, a four night break in the luxury Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sha Tin, Hong Kong.  The match starts at 5pm and I am sure that all the participants would be grateful of support (probably literally if they are playing a brewery!) - anyway, if you are in the area drop in - it should make for an entertaining evening.  In the meantime, Rodi continues to make progress from the spinal injury he suffered in a horrific fall in March.

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I see that the boss at Wetherby has retorted to A P McCoy's observations about the poor prize money on offer at their meeting on Thursday.  The most valuable prize was worth a paltry £2602, so in my opinion A P was right - I just don't see how chief executive Jonjo Sanderson can justify it.  If the owners chose not to run their horses, the Mr Sanderson would be signing onto the dole, afterall it's the owners that keep these tracks in business.

Talking of AP, I see that the champ has taken 680 falls since he started racing...you would have thought that he would have learned how to ride properly by now!  I would be interested to know how that compares with his colleagues, but I reckon that is a fall about every nineteen rides.  Throughout his career A P has boasted an incredible 25% winning strikerate - I guess that means if he is riding for you, he is five times more likely to win than he is to fall off!  I had one go at schooling a horse years ago - predictably I fell off, so I can boast a 100% strikerate!

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Martin_Pipe_Day_CheltenhamFinally, did you get the clues to today's birthday boy in yesterday's story?

It wasn't exactly rocket science, so many happy returns to MCP!  Martin is 65 today and is now able to claim his pension!  We had a great night last night at the Hartnoll Hotel near Tiverton (even though I did miss the Champions League Final!).

I am sure that the viewing figures for tonight's football match at Wembley between Manchester United and Barcelona will be huge.  Hills still make Barcelona 11/10 shots to win it all in 90 minutes and if the match were played elsewhere in Europe I am sure they would be odds-on - I think the United fans are probably holding up the Spanish team's price.  I won't be able to see it live as I will be at a birthday party...there is only one person I know that would have a birthday party on the same night as the Champions League Final!

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Trainer Mark Johnston has never been shy about expressing his views and yesterday he launched a broadside at Redcar racecourse over the funding levels, branding it as a "flapping track".  Prize money for the seven race card is just £22,600 which is a disgrace and well below the tariff levels set out by the Horsemen's Group.  The only way things are going to change is if all trainers stick together, afterall if the tracks have no runners then they will have no spectators and the bookmakers will have nothing to bet on...I am sure someone would do something about it then!  However, as long as trainers continue to run for poor prize money the tracks will continue to provide poor prize money.

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There was a sizeable crowd on the watered gallop at Newmarket yesterday morning, even though it was before 6am!  Apparently Carlton House pleased in his work, hammering his work partner with the minimum of fuss under Ryan Moore.  I am sure that bookmakers will be shortening him yet further ahead of the Derby on Saturday week.  I hope that a few of you took my ante-post advice...the biggest worry now is if he will handle the track at Epsom - it is a funny course, but he does look to be a well balanced colt.

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David was busy at the sales yesterday afternoon as he finished underbidder to the day's top lot Alaivan, and was the successful purchaser of Enfant de Lune.  It will be interesting to see how this one fares as the last couple of purchases from Barbury Castle have yielded a Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival winner (Junior) and a Midlands National winner (Minella Four Star).  Enfant de Lune had shown some useful form on the flat in France and over hurdles in this country and is still a novice over fences.  The sales continue today so I will be keeping a close eye out to see if he David has unearthed any potential future stars.  Tom Scudamore is up at the sales too, and I understand that his snoring is largely responsible for the master of Pond House having a less than satisfactory night's sleep!

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