‘Wow’ factor whets the appetite for next year’s festival

‘Wow’ factor whets appetite for 2017
‘Wow’ factor whets the appetite for next year’s festival

Anticipation for next year has already been sharpened by some of the performances witnessed this week.

It started in the very first race when Altior looked like a machine when beating Min and that was before Douvan, Annie Power and Vroum, Vroum Mag did their stuff.

Yorkhill and Ballyandy on the second day, Vautour, Limini and Thistlecrack on Thursday and the ‘wow’ factor was prominent again yesterday with Don Cossack and Ivanovich Gorbatov.

All of these are expected to be around next year and also joined by the absent stars such as Faugheen and Coneygree. Thankfully there are only 359 sleeps to go.

Ante Post Betting at risk

Ante Post is well known as a betting medium for the fellas in long trousers.

Committing months in advance on horses uncertain to start trades the risk of losing on non-runners with the reward of attractive prices.

However as a revenue stream for bookmakers it could be on life support after some of the events of the week.

The risk of injury is clear and always factored in to decisions but the last minute decisions on which race a horse shows up in is hugely frustrating.

Vautour got the headlines, but the novice races and handicaps were much worse and a lot less publicised.

Sometimes they do actually come back

It’s a long held truism in racing that race horses are fragile and any kind of serious injury effectively finishes them.

This year proved there are exceptions to the rule and what fine exceptions they were.

My Tent or Yours returned from a two year injury problem to run a fine second to Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle and then of course the marvellous Sprinter Sacre emotionally regained his Champion Chase title after a litany of problems starting with an irregular heart-beat over two years ago.

Both are trained by Nicky Henderson who deserves all the praise he is getting.

The declarations system is unfit for purpose

Mid-morning on Monday the declarations for Tuesday’s races at Cheltenham were made by the trainers and the fields were finally known.

Twenty four hours before the start of the season’s great extravaganza and we finally knew the participants on day one. But not for the rest of the week.

For most attendees and TV viewers it is a technicality that goes unnoticed, but for students of form, as well as professional and private handicappers it creates a minefield.

What can be done? Perhaps a 48 hour declaration rule could be implemented, maybe an entry fee forfeit system that penalises late withdrawals or a limit of two entries for any individual horse? All worth some consideration.

The Future looks safe

The week closes with the feeling that the future of national hunt training looks to be in safe hands.

In Britain, the two Harrys, Skelton and Fry are slowly building the expertise and strength in their strings and it suggests it won’t be too much longer before they are challenging the supremacy of Nicholls and Henderson.

Joseph O’Brien got the Cheltenham monkey off his back nice and early with the victory of Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph yesterday and with Patrick Mullins becoming ever more prominent by his father’s side the future looks bright.

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