PAT KEANE: Try a drop of Whisky

Oscar Whisky (right) looks good value at 4/1 in World Hurdle.

Last Tuesday you had to wonder whether Hurricane Fly continued to be blessed with four legs.

The manner in which he was drifting for the Champion Hurdle was quite alarming, as players on Betfair began to fall over themselves to lay the horse.

And then the high street bookmakers started to follow suit and we were left with offers of 5-2, something that would have been unthinkable a week earlier.

That price was available on Betfair and with two bookmakers across channel. On top of that he was a big drifter with most other firms as well and, of course, William Hill went 3-1 on Monday.

So what did the geniuses on Betfair and the smart lads who run off-course firms think they knew that had escaped us mere mortals.

I’ve been on a Cheltenham panel with Patrick Mullins and he could not have been more positive.

I’ve spoken to Willie Mullins and there was no disguising his quiet confidence in Hurricane Fly’s ability to regain the Champion Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh has been asked all sorts of questions — from many sources — of late and if there was a hint of pessimism in his responses then here’s one who failed to pick up on them.

Back in the 70’s, I came home from Cheltenham on a couple of occasions - on the boat — and, literally, didn’t have the price of a pint.

Valuable lessons were learnt, the main one being that there are far better places to go if you want to earn a few quid.

Personally, I have no great wish to back Hurricane Fly and, at his original odds of around 6-4, he was in no way an attractive proposition.

But there comes a time, even at Cheltenham, when a horse hits a bigger price than you think he should be. As long as the people who count — those closest to the horse — continue to believe in him then we may well be moved to shovel a bit in his direction. The real Hurricane Fly could destroy this opposition.

Next week promises so much, not least the battle between Simonsig and Overturn in the Arkle.

Overturn will go like a rocket at the front, but you have to think Simonsig, who won the Neptune here a year ago, will come sweeping past at some stage.

Quevega will bring the house down on Tuesday if she makes it five on the trot in the OLGB Mares’ Hurdle.

I know she only did a gentle canter after racing at Leopardstown last Sunday, but didn’t half look on good terms with herself.

Incidentally, Willie Mullins tells me there is “no possibility’’ of her turning out again on Thursday in the Ladbrokes’ World Hurdle.

Pont Alexandre, in Wednesday’s Neptune, is many people’s notion of the Irish banker of the meeting.

He’s been quite brilliant in his two wins in Ireland, but don’t fall for the theory that any price is a good price.

Pont Alexandre has a great chance, but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the price on offer could well be of the hold-up variety.

If that is the case then here’s one that will have no hesitation in letting him pass by without a financial involvement.

The Gold Cup looks a race to savour and that has not always been always the case.

Certainly, if Long Run wins then Sam Waley-Cohen can feel more than entitled to give two fingers to some of us. Long Run won the race in 2011 and was third last year, so has to be respected.

Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs and Silviniaco Conti, though, are three young horses rapidly on the upgrade, but something has to give and they can’t all be flying machines.

The name of the game at Cheltenham is value and keep in mind that the likes of 6-4, 7-4 and 2-1 will only return you the exact same amount of profit you will get at any track in Ireland, often when you are backing a horse with little or nothing to beat.

The likes of Hurricane Fly, My Tent Or Yours, Simonsig, Quevega, Pont Alexandre and Sprinter Sacre are easy enough to fancy, although you can bet the sweep that they all won’t win!

The key to these four days is finding a winner that is going to ensure we cannot possibly lose at the meeting, no matter what happens.

The best prices will always be in handicaps, but they hold no attraction whatsoever for this observer, so we must look elsewhere.

The nod falls on Oscar Whisky in the World Hurdle, notwithstanding that he shaped as if not getting three miles when fifth to Big Buck’s in the race last year.

He was, however, in trouble too far out to believe that is a reliable guide and Oscar Whisky seemed to get every yard of the trip at Cheltenham last time — on heavy ground — when beaten a neck into second Reve De Sivola.

There was no problem being accommodated at 4-1 this week and, even if he doesn’t win, it’s not the end of the world. I think he will.

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