Weblog: Straight from the sofa
Cheltenham SoFastival - Day One, Part One
3.05pm Hutton Chops - Champion Hurdle
Well Hurricane Fly should win shouldn't he? He's a similar price to Sprinter Sacre but there's a bit more strength in this race than there was in the Racing Post Arkle, so it's a no-bet race (other than wanting him to win for my acca with the shorties).
Oscars Well, Rock On Ruby and Zarkandar are unexposed and we don't know for absolute certain that Hurricane Fly is better than them, and a rejuvenated Binocular could be dangerous as well. Should be a belting race though.
I'll reappear in day one, part two by the way, as we'll be running out of room soon.
2.55pm Collateral Damage
Alfie Sherrin didn't have form of any sort entering the Festival so nothing is boosted by his win. Those who Fruity O'Rooney finished in amongst in the Sky Bet Chase aren't entered at the Festival, so nothing of note either.
Our Mick ran a good race in third though and Micheal Flips (Jewson and Byrne Group Plate) and For Non Stop (Jewson) beat him last time.
Pricewise followers may be smiling but Straight From The Sofa authors certainly aren't after Fruity O'Rooney was caught close home. He jumped tremendously for Jamie Moore, who gets three points in the SoFastival Superstar of Cheltenham Award for that breathtaking display, with four going to Richie McLernon for his cool ride on the winner.
2.31pm Hutton Chops - JLT Specialty Chase
Baile Anrai wasn't beaten in a race eventually fought out by Invictus and Bobs Worth last time when falling three out and could be very well handicapped off 133 as a result. He's relish a stiff 3m and a bit and £50 has gone his way at 16-1.
Fruity O'Rooney (£35 at 20-1) was an unlucky third in the Sky Bet Chase last time and might not get too much pressure up front, and Zarrafakt (£35 at 18.5) easily beat a useful yardstick in Aldertune last time and should have the talent to defy a 12lb higher mark.
£20 has gone on Riguez Dancer at 48 (now 70) on account of the Ferdy factor and the likelihood that this stiff test will suit. He's definitely unexposed as a stayer.
2.26pm Collateral Damage
Sprinter Sacre's win showed what a difficult task French Opera faced last time and he runs in the Grand Annual in the very last race of the week on Friday.
Cue Card ran a belter in second and the only other horse who has beaten him when he has completed this season is Bobs Worth, who runs in tomorrow's RSA Chase.
2.22pm Sacre bleu!
That was a bit good but I wouldn't have minded finding out a bit more. If he comes up against something better than Cue Card in the Champion Chase next year there'll still be the hill-under-pressure question mark.
Five points to the horse in the SoFastival Superstar of Cheltenham Award, and another two to Lesley Graham, who is doing sterling work in the winner's enclosure and just had to rugby tackle winning owner Caroline Mould to get her to do the interview.
Minus one point to Racing Post colleague @joyarborough who tweeted the result just after Sprinter Sacre had jumped the last on my TV screen. She's not one to watch a movie with, she'll tell you the ending as you're buying your popcorn.
I said to her I'd better get some blinkers so I concentrate on the TV and not the laptop, and she replied "blinkers for you, tongue-tie for me!"
1.58pm Hutton Chops - Racing Post Arkle
Based on how Sprinter Sacre weakened up the hill after cruising into the lead in the Supreme Novices', for a long time I very much wanted to take him on in the Arkle.
However, now Peddlers Cross isn't running, and now he only has five horses to beat, none of whom seem to be all that good, and it's clear that even with the worry about the hill he is the likeliest winner by absolutely miles.
I couldn't resist the even money this morning and £200 went his way. No other bets but Al Ferof is expected to be best of the rest for #twitpot purposes.
In sad news we have discovered that both @Lynne_Lyons (wife of trainer Ger Lyons) and @RacingGirlKaz both forgot about the #twitpot. That's like going to Cheltenham on Friday and staying in the loo when they're running the Gold Cup, although more serious.
Given that the favourites got placed I was going to let them place their #twitpot entries despite knowing the result, but I couldn't remember the name of the lady who used to do that when betting and I've only got 140 characters to explain it so thought I'd best leave it. They'll be back tomorrow though.
1.45pm Collateral Damage
Not much to be gleaned on lines through Cinders And Ashes, nor through Darlan, but third-placed Trifolium's only defeat in his last four has come at the hands of So Young, who has been declared in Thursday's World Hurdle.
The winning owners were delighted and mention that the late Ginger McCain found the horse and named him after something to do with Thomas The Tank Engine. I think so anyway, they were a bit excited, and Lesley Graham did well to cope with them all and gets two points in the SoFastival Superstar of Cheltenham Award.
Donald McCain gets five points for continuing to impress as one of the very best trainers around. Dare I say that I think Darlan would have won if he hadn't been chopped off by Trifolium turning in and then making a hash of the last? Cinders And Ashes did too but lost no momentum.
There'll be plenty left in the #twitpot, including me.
1.23pm We might not be there...
...but we can roar like we are!
1.05pm Hutton Chops - Supreme Novices'
If Prospect Wells can't win handicaps off 142/145 then I can't see him winning a Supreme Novices'. Steps Of Freedom only just beat him here in November so he's ruled out as well.
Galileo's Choice beat nowt last time, with the same going for Cinders And Ashes, and Montbazon hasn't had enough in hand to suggest he's going to be a world beater.
Darlan could be though based on the way he was travelling in the Betfair Hurdle before falling two out. Based on what Get Me Out Of Here and Recession Proof have done in this after winning the same race, off much lower marks, he's hugely appealing and £100 has been invested at 7-1.
Decent Flat sort Distant Memories should be better suited by this drier ground and £25 each-way has gone his way at 50-1. The vibes about Midnight Game aren't great but his form is some of the strongest of the Irish so £20 has been invested at 21. There's no ceiling on Agent Archie's potential yet so a £5 saver has been placed at 46. As well as the usual Exactas and Trifectas.
12.55pm Blogbuster and Blogbuster Gold Run
Remember, these are the bets that could bust the blog on account of me being far too excited to carry on typing if they come in.
Blogbuster: A Trifecta on Baile Anrai, Zarrafakt and Fruity O'Rooney in the 2.40.
Blogbuster Gold Run: Doubles and each-way trebles on Darlan (1.30), Baile Anrai (2.40) and Hunt Ball/Going Wrong (5.15).
Rationale for all these selections will appear in the Hutton Chops analysis just before each race.
12.37pm If you can't beat 'em...
You know when you feel out of place at a party? Well that's just what tends to happen to me when the favourites start going in. If the favourites are winning, usually I'm not.
However, there have been some really tempting prices on offer about the supposed good things today, particularly with William Hill, and if you can stick these in an acca then your marginal amount of individual value is multiplied with each successful leg.
Therefore I've had a £200 treble on Sprinter Sacre, Hurricane Fly, Quevega (and a £50 four-timer featuring Darlan), and a £200 five-timer on the above three with Sizing Europe and Big Buck's (and a £50 six-timer with Darlan).
I reckon I've got some good value bets in race I otherwise wouldn't be punting in, particularly as nothing stands out in the without Sprinter Sacre and Hurricane Fly markets. It could prove to be an expensive tactic if Darlan and Sprinter Sacre get turned over in the first two races though!
11.57am #twitpot launch
It's the one you've been waiting for. Yes, the #twitpot is back and there are already nine entries, so get ready for records to be broken.
If you want to play just have a read of the rules via the link towards the top right of this piece, follow me on Twitter @benhutt and get #twitpottering! And get retweeting as well to get fellow SoFastival-goers involved.
11.36am The Dog Walk Revelation
The revelation wasn't that the postlady picked up five pieces of mail out of the postbox. Nor was it the incredible transit van driver who managed to reverse both hefty van and rickety trailer round a tight corner. Nor was it's Meg's one number two and one number one (I'm glad that's out of the way, she'd have had to hold it in if she'd got up at 1.29pm and 50 seconds.
It was the delivery driver who asked me if I knew where Camelot was. I didn't have the heart to tell him it didn't exist. If I had to give him a percentage probability of finding it, I'd give him Arthur chance. Wahey!
#twitpot launch to follow at noon.
10.30am Let's get this meeting underway
Let me tell you where I'm at in the Dragon's Den world of ante-post punting on Cheltenham. I had £50 win on Captain Chris at 25-1 for the Gold Cup last March, and I've still got high hopes if he's had his jumping sorted out.
The next bet placed came in November, when I placed £100 at 3-1 that a Festival winner would run in the Paddy Power or the Greatwood at Cheltenham that month. Needless to say I'll be cheering dozens of them home this week.
The third and final wager came on February 1 when I was finally persuaded to part with £50 each-way on Sea Of Thunder in the Albert Bartlett at 16-1.
Could be worse I suppose. I'm off to walk the dog, I'll be back with the Dog Walk Revelation and the official launch of the #twitpot in around an hour.
9.37am Coming up today and every day this week on the Straight From The Sofa blog
~ The Cliches Really Are Pants Attack - the lazy reliance on tired, overused phrases on the telly will be scathingly exposed in this very blog. CRAP Attack will have a significant bearing on the standings in the SoFastival Superstar Of Cheltenham Award (see below) #CRAPAttack
~ The SoFastival Superstar Of Cheltenham Award - do something good at Cheltenham? You get handed some points. Do something bad? They get taken away. At the end of the week they get tallied up and the standout performer receives the mythical trophy that will be named by the winner of the #twitpot (see below) #SoCCA
~ #twitpot - get involved in the fun competition to find out who is Twitter's Ultimate Racing Deity. Rules are available via the link towards the top right of this piece #twitpot
~ The Dog Walk Revelation - as if the SoFastival excitement could step up a notch further! I'll be bringing you the latest from the mean streets of Tallentire as I take retired greyhound Meg for a swift stroll around the village sometime every morning #dwr
~ The Blogbuster - the hugely ambitious bet that will result in this blog breaking if it cops #blogbuster
~ The Blogbuster Gold Run - the more genteel version of Steve Palmer's facespitter. Not only will this bet bust the blog but retirement could also beckon #blogbustergoldrun
~ Hutton Chops - Want a swift guide to each race which ruthlessly rules out many runners to leave you with the best bets? As Roy Orbison said, you got it. BAAAAYYYYYYBBBEEEEE! #huttonchops
~ Collateral Damage - I might have to give myself negative points in the SoFastival Superstar of Cheltenham Award on account of this mediocre cliche and arguable example of CRAP Attack, but we'll be first to point out the improved or lessened chances of horses later in the week based on the performances we have just seen #collateraldamage
~ The Montage Music Guessing Game - I've never got one right but that won't stop me trying. Join me in predicting what cheesy/obscure music Channel 4 will choose to play over the closing highlights each day #montagemusicguessinggame
Erm, think that's about it.