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Thursday, 18 October, 2018

'Losing sleep punting and worrying about weather but I'm raving for it'

The latest update from Lil Rockerfeller's co-owner Andy Smith

Lil Rockerfeller wins at Ascot last November with a full complement of cheekpieces
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The only good thing about all the racing being snowed off is that it's given me plenty of time to get my Cheltenham work done. I went to the press day at the course earlier in the week to get a feel for what's going to be running where and I'm just finishing my form study. I did it for four hours from two o'clock to six o'clock this morning, then went back to bed for two hours and did another four hours when I got up.

This is strictly punting and it's a meeting that's been a happy hunting ground for me. The problem this year is all the different weather forecasts. I heard Simon Claisse say yesterday that John Kettley thinks we'll start on soft ground this year, not good to soft, which makes life interesting, and I'm a bit like a farmer at the moment: I want it dry in one field and raining in the next one, just to help my bets.

I wouldn't mind a bit of rain for Glenloe in the Pertemps but that would count against 'Rocky' in the Stayers'. I want it to be dry for my horse Doing Fine, who looks like he'll definitely get in the Kim Muir, but if it rains too much I'd hope we'll keep him fresh for the Scottish National.

Anyway, I'm on to the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual – I think it's quite significant that Nicky has said he'll be relying on just one in the race named after his father – and once I've finished that, I'm finished.

It's hard work but I love punting. It's the only thing I've ever done, even at school. My mum would give me my dinner money on a Monday and she'd ask me what I'd had for dinner, and I'd say three doubles and a treble. I was 12 and I'd give my maths teacher my money for the week and have a bet with it.

So I'm absolutely raving for Cheltenham. We're 45 minutes away in Bristol, so I'll get a lift in with my daughter Jessica, who works for Ladbrokes, and she'll bring me home again. I'm in the Unibet box on Tuesday, free rein on Wednesday, runner on Thursday and see how my liver is on Friday. It'll be a long week but it'll be great.

The trouble is, the more I look at our race, the Stayers' Hurdle, the more complicated it gets. I've been through it again and again and there are so many with chances, so we'll go there hoping for a good day and we'll probably go back to the cheekpieces because I don't think the blinkers gave us any real improvement at Fontwell. Let's hope it works better than at Wetherby this season, though, when one got loose at the start and he raced with only one cheekpiece on, which was quite funny to see.

My mum would give me my dinner money on a Monday and she'd ask me what I'd had for dinner, and I'd say three doubles and a treble
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