Abandon Hope All Punters Who Enter Here
Shall I just leave the shirt on my back here, Mr.Bookmaker? I also have the kids' college fund, will you be needing that also? Yes? No problem, really, I insist. And my dignity? Well....right you are, it's a fair price....
Christmas for grown-ups? Or an almighty scam cooked-up by the gambling industry to fleece the completely ignorant but eminently excitable out of their hard-earned?
Being completely ignorant but eminently excitable myself I am all for the Cheltenham Festival, which for four days every year manages to trick me into believing my knowledges of horses stretches further than Mr.Ed's christian name.
This week I will be starting with 30 shiny euros, and, after carefully studying the form, will probably place them on whoever Ruby Walsh is riding. By the end of the week, all going well, I will only have one or two men with baseball bats outside my door.
Today is Champion Hurdle day, arguably the race of the week given the withdrawals from the Gold Cup field. In the 2.00 Supreme Novices Hurdle I will be ignoring the mean odds on Amaretto Rose and plumping for Granit Jack at around tens. The French horse is from Paul Nicholls' stable, Ruby has elected to ride him instead of Kicks for Free, and he likes the softish ground. EUR 5 e/w, it's a lock!
Another one who supposedly fancies the softer stuff is My Way de Solzen in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at 2.35, whose connections apparently plumped for this race rather than the other, longer contests he is entered for. With the ground drying, that might yet prove unwise, but we'll stick a fiver on the nose at around 3-1.
And now for the big one, the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle (3.15) to give it the full hoo-ha. Brave Inca (defending champion), Hardy Eustace (2004 & 2005) winner, and Detroit City (highly fancied young buck). Two Irish heroes of yore versus an English upstart.
But don't bet with your Gaelic heart folks! Detroit City's record is phenomenal and includes three wins at Cheltenham, including beating out Hardy into second in December. Tenner on the nose at around 2-1.
We're ignoring the last two races of the day. The Cross country at 4.40 is a daft novelty race and the last race of the day at Cheltenham is always to be avoided, a novices affair designed to separate any foolish winners from their earlier gains in an unpredictable field.
So the rest of our stake is for some long odds fun in the William Hill Trophy Handicap at 4.00. EUR 2.50 e/w on D'Argent at 20/1 - he won here on soft ground in December, although he's absolutely ancient. Another horse in this field might be more appropriate though, Heez a Dreamer at 18/1....