Cheltenham Festival 2018

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What a great card at Cheltenham this afternoon, it wouldn't look out of place at the Festival in March!  The race I am most looking forward to is the 3.05pm which features a clash between Cue Card, Menorah and Silviniaco Conti - all three wouldn't look out of place in a Champion Hurdle and all have big reputations to uphold so something has to give here.  Don't forget that it's an early start too, with the action getting underway at 11.40am.  Allow plenty of time if you are going - the traffic is likely to be heavy as there hasn't been much racing and jumps fans will be getting withdrawal symptoms!

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It's good to have jump racing back this afternoon for the first time since last Sunday, and where better than our premier course Cheltenham?  It looks as though we are in for a cracking couple of days of action, although they are inspecting the cross-country course this morning - let's just hope that both days go ahead without any problems.  It was 6°c in Brixham this morning, although I understand that it hasn't been quite so warm at the Gloucester track.  The thing that amazes me though, is that I saw a gritting lorry going around the roads near my home - they are nowhere to be seen when we have ice and snow!  I guess the councils have God syndrome - they certainly work in mysterious ways!

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Sadly Huntingdon had to abandon today's meeting yesterday, but the good news is that they have taken a leaf out of Exeter's book and are going to try to reschedule the meeting for this Sunday.  Let's hope that it can go ahead - it would be a shame to lose the meeting, especially as they have the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase on the card.  The race is worth £65,000 to the winner, and even the bumper on the card is worth £2,000 - that's better than some of the all-weather flat races!

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Just when I thought that the snow and ice had done it's worst to affect the racing calendar, yesterday Mother Nature threw freezing fog into the mix to call a halt to Southwell's all-weather meeting.  Fortunately they managed to run the first three races which meant that one of my selections,  Love Delta was able to score at the rewarding odds of 4/1.  It was good to see the Mark Johnston runner bounding out of the fog to score by five lengths, although you could clearly see (or not!) that it was too dangerous to carry on racing.

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Well, England managed to win the second Test match against the Australians by an innings and 71 runs, and following his efforts with bat and ball I was amused to see Kevin Pietersen (tongue firmly in cheek) refer to himself as an all-rounder!  Remember, England only need to draw the series to retain the Ashes, but wouldn't it be great to win the series outright?  I have a few Aussie mates who have given me quite a lot of stick down the years, but funnily enough I haven't heard much from them recently.  Fortunately Ricky Ponting is going through a torrid time with the bat, but even so, Australia look to be a poor outfit...so now we have got them down, let's tread on them!

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There are two all-weather meetings on this afternoon at Southwell and Lingfield (Lingfield passed a 6am inspection).  Interestingly, Southwell plays host to three National Hunt Flat races on it's card and they have attracted fields of 14,10 and 9.  The three year old bumper has the most runners so it looks like these races are obviously needed.  I would think that if one of the all-weather tracks were to put on three or four races like this once a week they would be well supported.  Even champion jockey A P McCoy has a couple of rides, so this initiative should be something that the planning committee should consider doing on a regular basis.

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I was looking through the Racing Post yesterday at AP's ten best rides and four of them were aboard horses that were trained by MCP.  I hate to argue with the great man, but I have to say that I think the ride that he gave Deano's Beeno when he outsmarted Thierry Doumen aboard Baracouda had to be one of the best that I have seen - he stole a long lead and the French raider was never quite going to get back to him.  Although not his favourite success, AP picks out his ride aboard Pridwell as his best race ride.  The pair beat the mighty Istabraq at Aintree - now Pridwell was a real character, but he had masses of ability and on this day McCoy managed to coax it all out of him to deny the triple Champion Hurdle winner.

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