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Mon Aug 21
Hexham
Tue Aug 22
Newton Abbot
Wed Aug 23
Worcester

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

Despite just getting touched off at Chepstow yesterday afternoon, I thought that Our Father still put up a creditable performance under his penalty in the novices' hurdle.  He is a lovely big, young horse and he still showed plenty of signs of inexperience when just getting touched off by Irish point winner Listen Look, the pair of them well clear.  He looks to be an embryonic chaser and certainly remains an exciting prospect for the future.

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It was a good day for the oldies yesterday as a couple of ten year old's won at Wincanton, while at Towcester there were races won by a nine year old and a thirteen year old.  The thirteen year old was the evergreen Victory Gunner who stayed the three miles extremely well.  A P McCoy had just the one ride on the card and it duly won - they say that you should always follow jockeys that have made the trip to the races for just one ride...I don't know who says it - I am sure the jockeys would get more rides if they could, especially AP!

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I see that not only will Henry Cecil be making his first visit to Cheltenham to attend the Festival in March, he will be saddling a runner as well!  Henry will have Plato (owned by the Niarchos family) in the St Patrick's Day Derby - a fun race designed to raise money for Cancer Research UK.  Plato will be ridden by Racing UK presenter Lorna Fowler (nee Bradburne), who has had over 100 rides on the flat and over jumps and I am told that she has been riding the four year old out on the Newmarket gallops.  It is a great idea to raise money for this most worthy cause as the riders must raise £5,000 each in order to participate - I am looking forward to seeing the it!

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I was pleased to see that many of our leading trainers are not making entries at next Monday's Lingfield meeting in which prizemoney falls below the standard set out by the Horsemen's Tariff Group.  David, Paul Nicholls, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Philip Hobbs are not represented in those races along with a number of other trainers and as a consequence the numbers in those races have halved.  It is just a shame that all the trainers have not refrained from making entries in these races - if they all stood firm together the tracks would have to do something about it.

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You really can bet on just about anything these days!  I see that a book has now opened on who is going to buy the Tote and Betfred have been installed as the 7/4 favourites - it is a shame that the Tote aren't running a book as there may be some clues in the prices!  If the sale of the Tote does go through for £200,000,000 racing will get about £50,000,000 - the problem is that while it is a substantial sum, it will not go very far in a nationwide industry.  The other problem is of course, when the Tote has been sold and once the racing industry gets it's cut, that's the end of it, no more handouts, nothing more to sell.

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What a performance from Grands Crus at Cheltenham on Saturday!  Our six year won a Grade 2 hurdle by 10 lengths without needing to come off the bridle.  He took a good hold under Tom Scudamore, but still found plenty when asked to go and win his race turning into the straight.  It seems that everyone who watched it is talking about his performance and it certainly seems like Big Buck's has a credible opponent in the World Hurdle.  You can still get 3/1 about "George" and I think that price will shorten up yet further by the Festival - don't forget...make sure that you get all your ante-post bets on with the "non runner, no bet" proviso.  That way if your selection doesn't make it to the Festival (and let's be honest, a lot can still happen with six weeks left to go), you will get your money back.

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This Wednesday Aintree will be revealing the entries for this year's John Smiths Grand National.  The weights will be out a couple of weeks later and I really do look forward to seeing them.  Obviously it is not like a normal handicap, with senior assessor Phil Smith taking previous course form into account, as well as trying to encourage some of the higher class entries to run by using his discretion to compress their usual rating.  This approach has certainly paid off in terms of quality as there are some very good horses that don't even get into the race anymore.

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