Cunning plan finishes the week off nicely

Day Four. I started it with €110.51 in the kitty and a cunning plan. 

If delayed gratification is not your thing and you can’t wait to find out how the plan worked, scroll down to the end of the column. If you can, read on.

The cunning plan is not complicated. Being well up after three days of the meeting I do not propose to go mad. There will be no all-out assault on the bookies. I’ll have a few each-way bets alright, but metaphorically I’ll be operating with a spare man in front of the full-back line. Thanks to D Fitzgerald, Sixmilebridge, and D McGrath, De La Salle Waterford, for sowing the seed. The cheque is in the post, gentlemen.

Here are the horses I have a couple of euro each-way on. Deal D’Estruval, Stenrubin, On The Fringe for old times’ sake and because he’s trained by another member of the League of Endas, Ballyward, Bouvreuil. I’m not employing any particular rationale. If they win or are placed, grand. If not, the cake is already baked. It does not require icing.

The opener, the Triumph Hurdle, is distressingly low on runners. Apple’s Shakira, Nicky Henderson’s hotpot, has scared them off. After the glorious randomness of Thursday’s successes — did Pat Benatar ever dream during her mid-1980s MT USA heyday that she’d one day be employed as a divining rod at Cheltenham? — it’s back to something vaguely approaching scientific rigour.

I signed up to a professional betting tipster for the week and he has some interesting views on the race.

Apple’s Shakira he deems to be stepping up in class and much too short.

He directs his followers instead to the recent race at Leopardstown where Mr Adjudicator beat Farclas in a time that compared favourably to that of Samcro’s victory the same day — and we know what Samcro did on Wednesday.

Farclas he anticipates to have more room for improvement. I have a fiver each way at 9/1.

Lo and behold, Farclas duly turns the Leopardstown tables on Mr Adjudicator. The money I spent signing up to yer man for the week has been justified.

It is the 16th Irish winner of the meeting. The Cheltenham of the late 1980s, when Ireland had two winners in three years, both of them called Galmoy, is a different country in every way.

The next two races are won by a brace of 33/1 shots. You won’t have felt guilty for not backing them. Neither do I, although I do have a tenner at 3/1 on Santini in the 2.50 and while he never threatens to win he runs on to finish third and more or less saves my each-way money.

The overnight rain and flying mud mean the Gold Cup will be won by a stayer. Having been burnt by Djakadam in the past I’m not touching him with anything even vaguely related to a bargepole; if he was going to win a Gold Cup he’d have done so by now. Common sense says that nobody will be more suited by the conditions than Native River, but in view of the dominance of the maroon and white silks this week — Westmeath are clearly the next great world power — I stick my fiver on Road To Respect.

He does his best. It’s not good enough. No shame there, for this turns out to be a cracking Gold Cup. In any other year, on better ground, Might Bite would have won it. The rain, however, has made it a true Gold Cup rather than a souped-up King George and in the circumstances the eminently predictable unfolds: Native River gets every yard of the trip and ploughs on to win, with Road To Respect fourth. The capital of Ireland will not be relocating to Mullingar just yet.

And that’s that where your correspondent is concerned. The numerous each-way shots do not trouble the judges, with one exception. It’s not till much later, when I’m doing my sums, that I discover Ballyward finished fourth in the 2.50 at 20/1.

The cunning plan has worked. It’s been a successful day to round off a successful festival. Don’t knock these defensive strategies till you’ve tried them.

Kitty at meeting’s end: +€149.51




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