Weblog: Straight from the sofa
Cheltenham SoFastival - Day Four, Part One
3.13pm Hutton Chops - The Gold Cup
Long Run has looked to be nowt but a stayer this season, and probably wasn't at his peak when making hard work of beating Burton Port last time. Expect him to be much sharper over this ideal course and distance, over which he can turn the tables on the speedier Kauto Star. £100 at 9-4
The best of the rest title is an interesting one, because if anything tries to go with the big two they could end up knackered.
Those who could find themselves scuppered on this score, ie front running or challenging three out, are Burton Port, Midnight Chase, Weird Al, Diamond Harry, The Giant Bolster and Carruthers.
Synchronised will be ridden more conservatively and could stay on into a place, but whether he'll run so well on good ground again is another matter.
Therefore I fancy Knockara Beau to snap up a distant third. He'll probably be ridden to place, as opposed to ridden to win, and this could be crucial. £25 each way without the big two at 50-1, and £10 each at 22-1 on the same terms about Time For Rupert.
Trifectas have been placed as well, and we'll hopefully be celebrating them, and a vintage Gold Cup, in Day Four, Part Two.
3.05pm @Claims' three
@ClaimsFive (Chris Cook of the Guardian) is providing some amusing tweets from the pre-parade ring...
"Weird All is first into pre-parade area for the Gold Cup"
"Next in, The Midnight Club, looking the sort of yak who'd be a beaten Grand National fav"
"China Rock is with us now, looking like a non-stayer"
3.00pm Unbelievable scenes in the #twitpot
@Lynne_Lyons has only gone and done it. Her system of picking horses trained in Scotland or Ireland has paid off, and she should be even better at the #royaltwitpot come Ascot in June.
Other winners this week were @AdrianBeaumont (a winner on the Tuesday in 2011) on Wednesday and @keitthpunter, who won a marathon 13-race #twitpot on the Tuesday.
That's the result of the big one out of the way. What's next. On yeah, the Gold Cup.
2.54pm Breeze up for Gillies and Russell
Brindisi Breeze has been beaten just once under rules, and that was by the Donald Whillans-trained Nodda High Kid in a bumper at Musselburgh in November.
The winner was 80-1 that day, when I was doing a Live Reporter shift from the track, and I have never seen a horse look more like the definition of a small hairy goat than Nodda High Kid.
Remember the name, he could be a quiz question of the future if Brindisi Breeze's career continues along these lines.
It was a great ride from the superb Campbell Gillies, who was handy throughout and kicked at just the right time to put the race to bed. He's asking for a Scottish flag to take to the parade ring with him. Eight points to him in the SoFastival Superstar competition, and five to the lovely Lucinda Russell.
Grand Vision ran a belter in third having not got into the Pertemps - he would have been something of a cert if he had made the cut off 136!
That race has thrown up a remarkable three Festival winners in Cape Tribulation, Alfie Sherrin and Sunnyhillboy, and Grand Vision and Houblon Des Obleaux have both placed at big odds.
Tamarinbleu finished third and is declared for tomorrow's Midlands National, while more immediately the 11th-placed Tornado Bob is running in the Martin Pipe.
2.35pm Hutton Chops - Albert Bartlett
I've been keen on Sea Of Thunder ever since he was stepped up to 3m at Cheltenham in December, when he had the race comfortably in the bag before falling at the last.
He was going to annihilate some decent yardsticks on that occasion and with the ground once again in his favour, my £50 at 9-1 has topped up an ante-post £50 each-way at 16-1.
Lovcen won a handicap by six lengths off 130 last time, should appreciate the return to further and will also handle this quicker ground. £20 at 27.
Finally, Martin Keighley went close with Champion Court and has another promising sort in Hard To Swallow, who should adore this test of stamina. £20 each way at 50.
2.25pm History beckons in the #twitpot
@Lynne_Lyons has helped to boost the #twitpot profile by getting husband and trainer Ger Lyons involved and, having won yesterday, she's involved in a head-to-head with @OtfordPond for an unprecedented success in today's contest.
Don't worry, I've called Bruce Millington, and tomorrow's front page is being held in case she triumphs.
2.17pm Champ off the mark
And it's with 20-1 shot Alderwood. There'll be any number of hard-luck stories from that race, and how nothing came down on the final bend is anyone's guess.
Have just watched the replay from the blimp and Alderwood actually came off worst, which is huge testament to the horse and jockey. Three points to McCoy in the SoFastival Superstar of Cheltenham award.
1.55pm Hutton Chops - The County Hurdle
Have just realised that's the first time in five years I haven't backed the winner of the Triumph Hurdle, and the County Hurdle has also traditionally been a lucky race for me through the likes of Borora, Thousand Stars and a Sporazene/Hawadeth Exacta.
Citizenship shaped like a really smart horse when winning the red-hot Boylesports.com Hurdle last time out and can defy the hike in the weights. £50 at 8-1.
After a break, Redera bounced back to form at Leopardstown last month off a mark of 130, and based on this third, and how the Irish handicappers are usually hammered when they come over here, he stands out off just 4lb higher. £50 each way at 22-1 (27 currently available on Betfair).
Magnifique Etoile (£10 at 22-1) should relish the return to better ground and Dee Ee Williams (£10 each way at 95) loves these sort of cavalry charges.
1.43pm 66 rides without a winner...
...and then Dougie Costello bags the Triumph Hurdle on Countrywide Flame at 33-1. Even with hindsight it's hard to figure out how he won by it was a brilliant ride by Costello, and trainer John Quinn deserves plenty of credit as well. Four points to them both in the SoFastival Superstar of Cheltenham Award.
Quinn lost leading stable runner Palawi earlier in the week at Southwell so it's a timely boost for the yard to have another exciting hurdler on their hands.
And it's a boost for Costello's confidence before he takes the ride on Midnight Chase in the Gold Cup too.
The #twitpot generosity in allowing four places in the Triumph has been replicated by the Tote and their placepot, so thankfully I'm through to the second leg after Dodging Bullets finished fourth.
1.23pm Hutton Chops - The Triumph
It took me ages to get Meg to pose for that picture so I'm a bit late with this. After thorough analysis I think Baby Mix will win based on his defeats of Sadler's Risk and Hinterland, and £50 has gone on at 6-1.
Dodging Bullets should improve heaps for his hurdles debut and will have a chance of reversing form with Grumeti. £20 on at 25.
I've also had a tenner each-way on Arctic Reach at 510 as he's got a winning profile over hurdles and we haven't got to the bottom of him yet.
1.17pm Dog Walk Revelation
No dog walk yet today as it's wazzing it down (RSPCA crew should note I'll take her out after the Grand Annual.
There is a revelation though, as Meg's got pretty strong thoughts on the Gold Cup and says she will take over from her favourite horse if he's tired after jumping the last.
12.36pm If it's supposed to start at 12.30pm then why doesn't it?
Eric Lanlard's Baking Mad has once again overrun by three minutes. It's just as well his souffle rose otherwise the racing might not have been on Channel 4 by the time of the Triumph.
12.29pm Blogbuster and Blogbuster Gold Run
There's none of the professionalism of Nicky Henderson's head lad Conor Murphy here, if these bets come in there's every chance this blog will be bust through excitement or retirement.
Blogbuster: Each-way trixie on Sea Of Thunder, Bocciani and Renard
Blogbuster Gold Run: Trebles, each-way fourfolds and each-way five-timers on Baby Mix, Citizenship/Redera, Sea Of Thunder, Bocciani/Make A Track, Renard/Idarah
Rationale on these picks to follow just before each race. They're on with Bet365 by the way, lets hope they get stuffed twice in two days. Conor Murphy might not be qualified for the Channel 4-1+ offer any more...
11.58am Special offer on today's #twitpot
The day four #twitpot is officially open for business and as a concession to our customers, both old and new, we'll be settling on four places in the Triumph. Yes, that's right, FOUR WHOLE PLACES!
So you've got an even better chance of one of your two selections in the opener getting you through to the next stage, the County Hurdle. What have you got to lose, other than a bit of pride and dozens of followers who get sick of seeing you post about #twitpot all day.
Rules are towards the top right of this piece.
11.19am Keeping it together
There's an enormous amount of praise going Alistair Down's way for his preview of today's Gold Cup, and I thoroughly recommend that you read it in the Racing Post.
Not that I have yet, I'll be saving it until after the SoFastival has finished.
The reason being that I need to stay focused and there can never be a return to That Day, Saturday, March 19 2011, when I innocuously opened my Racing Post and was downgraded to a sobbing mess with three minutes thanks to Down's tremendous piece about Denman and Kauto Star fighting it out turning for home in the Gold Cup.
Here's the bit that really got me: "Imperial Commander was the first to crack and there they were - Kauto Star and Denman, the 11-year-old box neighbours, hammering away at each other for the lead; two marvellously irresponsible old men out for some mad last hurrah and damned if they were ready to admit that the days of youth were behind them."
MUST BE STRONG.
10.23am Pot of gold for Rainbow lad
What a story about the stable lad at Nicky Henderson's. It's understood that "single 31-year-old" Conor Murphy placed a £50 ante-post accumulator in November on five of the stable's Cheltenham runners, and they have all won, resulting in a £1 million payout.
The winners in question were Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig, Bobs Worth, Finian's Rainbow (who Murphy looks after) and Riverside Theatre. There are three immediate points to be made:
1. How long before some sort of controversy rears its head on account of Murphy backing Simonsig in the Neptune, as opposed to the Supreme Novices'?
2. Forget the amateur jockey and him struggling to regain his Gold Cup form this season, the biggest negative for Long Run's chance today is his non-appearance in the acca.
3. I wish he'd put Darlan in as well.
This amazing story has really caught the attention of the mainstream newspapers. Trainer's daughter Camilla Henderson (@camillohendo) has tweeted that the press have flocked to the stable this morning, and currently there are more photographers at 747 Barrows than Ken Barlow's had hot sinners.