Right, you know how it goes. Same deal every year. Fifty euro to punt each day - but no exceeding that sum (remember, people, only bet what you can comfortably afford to lose!) and no chasing of losses. This is supposed to be an exercise in fun, not an exercise in bringing on potential cardiac arrest.
Also, with one exception, there will be no following short-priced favourites. We want a run for our money but we also want value for said money. So, no Epatante in the Champion Hurdle and certainly no Carefully Selected in the last.
The “one exception”?
A tenner double on Notebook and Benie Des Dieux. Because I can. Because it makes sense. Because it’ll put money in the tank if both oblige.
Off we go with, as ever, the Supreme Novices Hurdle. There is much talk of how Shishkin is drifting because of the ground and how – foreshadowing ahoy! - Asterion Forlonge has a tendency to jump to his right. On the basis that Willie Mullins is as likely to win with one of his lesser fancies as he is with the favourite I stick a fiver each way on Elixir D’Ainay. His form is decent and at 16/1 he undeniably represents value.
At the third last Elixir D’Ainay is upsides Asterion Forlonge, his stable companion, when the latter duly jumps to his right. No harm done. No harm done for now, that is.
At the second last Elixir D’Ainay is upsides Asterion Forlonge when the latter jumps to his right. Again. Idiot. Lots of harm done: Elixir, who’s jumped the hurdle perfectly, flinches and comes down. Bah.
Would he have beaten Shishkin, who as it turned out wasn’t discomfited by the going? Would he even have got the better of Abracadabras for second place? I’ve no idea and I don’t care but there is at least a sliver of consolation. For the opening race of the meeting the betting firm I was on with were going Money Back If You Lose. I get my tenner returned and no harm done, except to poor innocent Elixir D’Ainay.
Notebook, trained by Henry De Bromhead, proves a bitter disappointment in the Arkle, failing to get a blow in. The race is won by Put The Kettle On, an animal with such a great and obvious moniker it’s amazing there’s never been one thus named before now. The suitably excited winning connections are, judging by their accents, denizens of south Kilkenny. The suitably excited winning trainer is… Henry De Bromhead.
Goodness me. Winning with the outsider of his pair? De Bromhead has really arrived.
I’ve no opinion on the 2.50 and sit it out. No law states that you have to have a bet on every race at Cheltenham and, having acquired a certain if debatable degree of wisdom over the years, it’s a law I’m happy to observe.
Champion Hurdle time and the weakest looking renewal of the race in a long time. Something will surely run into a place at decent odds, something that may well be trained in Closutton. Three quid each way on Sharjah at 16/1 it is, then.
My antipathy towards Epatante was misplaced; she wins snugly. Patrick Mullins plays a well judged waiting game on Sharjah, however, and beats the rest of the field by as much as he’s been beaten by the winner.
Mares’ hurdle time. Everyone – everyone– I’ve spoken to in recent days, not to mention the lads in my WhatsApp betting group, declared that no way was Benie Des Dieux going to be beaten by Honeysuckle. This is of no consequence to me now due to Notebook’s defeat. It is with equanimity, therefore, that I watch Benie Des Dieux get chinned, compliments of a brilliant ride by Rachael Blackmore on Honeysuckle.
The 4.50. No opinion again, a la the 2.50. Someone will win it without involvement from me and Imperial Aura is that someone. Whatever.
To the getting-out race for the day, the 5.30. Remember my mention of the importance of value for money? Remember my dissing of Carefully Selected?
The 5.30 is the National Hunt Challenge Cup, the “Grand National for amateurs” and an event that’s yielded such attrition in recent years that the authorities have been forced to knock two furlongs off it. It still entails three and three-quarter miles and 23 fences on soft ground – and Carefully Selected goes off the 10/11 hotpot. Huh?!
You’d have to be insane. In this instance I’m not. I put two euro each way on Lamanver Pippin – silly name but he was mentioned by one tipster I follow – and he plods on to finish third at 33/1 after the exhausted favourite unseats at the last.
Not a great day but it could have been worse. Tomorrow we go again.
Balance after Day One: €28