Mug’s Game: Once more this week (like Liverpool) I hit the woodwork

Mug’s Game: Once more this week (like Liverpool) I hit the woodwork
Ferny Hollow ridden by Paul Townen. Picture: PA Wire

Willie Mullins finished Wednesday on a high note, likening Ferny Hollow’s win in the bumper to scoring a goal just before half-time. I take heart from this. The second half is about to begin and I’m still in the game.

No matter that Thursday’s is traditionally the weakest card of the week. I’m looking for winners, not quality.

Also, it sounds like I had better make today count. A guy in my WhatsApp betting group who’s in Cheltenham says that a rumour is doing the rounds to the effect that tomorrow’s card will be cancelled. Hmm.

One thing I’ve learned from my festival viewing over the past decade is to watch out in subsequent years for horses placed in the opening race of the meeting.

Twelve months ago Itchy Feet finished a running-on third in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. No need to look any further in the opener, then.

Perhaps I should have. Itchy Feet’s feet turn out to be more than merely itchy. He makes a mistake early on and gets away with it. He makes a mistake at the fence in front of the stands and doesn’t get away with it. Curses.

Not that he’d have won had he stood up. Faugheen, Melon and Samcro fight out a cracking finish with the latter winning by the proverbial, and in this case actual, a nose. So it goes.

For the cavalry charge that is the Pertemps Final I want something that represents each-way value.

Gavin Sheehan falls from Itchy Feet. Picture: Inpho
Gavin Sheehan falls from Itchy Feet. Picture: Inpho

Tout Est Permis has been mentioned here and there. Grand: the default three euro twice. Once more this week I hit the woodwork; Tout Est Permis finishes third. At least I’m on at 16/1 rather than the 12/1 he’s returned at.

Being a handicap hurdle the race is naturally won by one of JP McManus’ horses. JP is collared for a few words and mentions his pair in the last race.

“Back one and have a saver on the other,” he suggests. Coming straight from the owner’s mouth, here is advice there’s no way I’m going to ignore.

On the basis that Rachael Blackmore and A Plus Tard did me a favour at Leopardstown over Christmas, loyalty demands I cleave to them for the Ryanair.

A tenner on the nose like the high flier I am. Min and Saint Calvados prove a little too much for my duo. So it goes. Again.

The Stayers Hurdle with Paisley Park, the defending champion, at 4/6? No thanks. I watch as yet another hotpot gets chinned at Cheltenham 2020, this one by a 50/1 shot. There’s a hush. This, one imagines, is what it sounds like when doves cry.

The 4.10. Blah. What little remaining money I have will not be wasted here. There’s still time to turn things around for the day — and just to take you out of your misery, reader, things will be turned around.

For which abundant thanks go to the aforementioned WP Mullins.

It has to be Willie in the mares novice hurdle, hasn’t it? Yes, of course it does.

Like the bumper on Wednesday it’s the kind of race he farms. Concertista and Dolcita are his two leading representatives. Which will it be? Seeing that a couple of reliable pundits are touting her I plump for Concertista. Here goes with another high flier’s tenner (at this stage they’re running worryingly low) at 9/2.

Rounding the home turn the pair make their way into contention. Approaching the final flight Dolcita, in red, looks to be cantering. Damn.

But lo, who and what is this in green on the right of the picture? Yes, it’s Concertista and she — echoes of the commentary on the 1984 Derby — is absolutely cruising.

Fortunately, and unlike El Gran Senor all those years ago, she doesn’t fold on the run-in. Au contraire, the further they go the further she’s winning. At the post she has 12 lengths to spare. What a shame the bookies don’t give extra money for style.

My pockets now bulging, comparatively speaking, I decide to take JP’s advice for the Kim Muir. In fact I bring it a little further: I back both the Paul Nolan-trained Fitzhenry — me and half of Wexford, presumably — and Champagne Platinum.

It doesn’t quite happen for either of them and they finish sixth and seventh respectively. Fitzhenry clearly lacking the brilliance of his Duffry Rovers namesake from 1996. However…I’ve taken my own advice from yesterday, shopped around and got him at 8/1 with a crowd who are paying six places. Yay. Kinda.

A quarter of the match left and I’m back on level terms, even slightly ahead. Plan for tomorrow, assuming there is a tomorrow? Simples: hit the net early doors and kick on from there.

If Willie Mullins can give me another assist, so much the better.

Balance after Day Three: €64

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