The start of the fourth and final day of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival is half an hour away. Whatever happens, even if by some chance we were to have a miraculously profitable day, I will be glad to see the back of it. This year has been a real eye opener. I love the spectacle and the sport itself is all that sport should be - dramatic, intense, deeply competitive, and honest. But as a gambler, I haven't enjoyed it. It is not the poor performance so far. That is a part and parcel of the game. No, what I feel fundamentally uncomfortable about is having four or five horses in the same competitive races, throughout each day. I do feel that tipsters, whether successful or unsuccessful, do change their style when it comes to Cheltenham. And as an "investor", such changes in approach are not what I particularly want to see. Qudos to Chasemaster this week, who have stuck to what they are good at and not been sucked in to the glamour of the Festival.
Moving forwards, this week may ultimately have some profound impact on the way I bet. Changes won't be immediate, but if I have six horses in the Gold Cup of 2012, as I have in the race this year, I would be surprised. Obviously I hope today is successful, but whether it is or if today is a blow out, there are implications to what I have seen over the last four days. You may be wondering if it was not the same at last year's Festival. It wasn't, simply because I wasn't following the number of services I am now.
So, whatever the future ramifications, let's hope for a great day today...
1.30: Triumph Hurdle
If I ever came to rely on gambling proceeds for my living, there is just no way I could watch the races. I am trembling like a leaf.
The best possible result in that race was Zarkandar. 1pt to win and half a point to place antepost at 8/1 from 4PA, and an each way antepost selection from The Sportsman at 7/1, plus a win only bet from OTN. It simply powered up the hill to win easily, and believe me, there was no greater sight!
4PA also played the other Nicholls horse Sam Winner each way at 7/1 this morning, and after coming off the bridle with a good mile to go and looking like it was running backwards, it came through with a storming late run to grab fourth place, paid out by the bookies on each way bets in this race.
The only loser was a small bet on A.Media Luz, OTN's second selection in the race.
What a great start! Plenty of time for it all to go wrong of course, but the adrenalin is not so much coursing through the veins as streaming through with no respect for the health of my heart.
2.05: County Handicap Hurdle
Back to earth with a bit of a bump. No horse staked big in the race but no returns from the four horses backed. Dirar was the choice of both PJA and OTN and finished the closest but still out of the frame. The other PJA tip - Alarazi - and the other OTN selection, the 50/1 Bellvano never threatened, and finally the NMP punt, Notus De La Tour raced prominently but faded in the closing stages. All feels a bit of an anticlimax to be honest. And of course, the psychology of it all kicks in and you start to think of getting no more returns today after such a fantastic start.
Quiet one, the next. Just the one horse with my money on it...
2.40: Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
Not a lot to say at all. OTN's Moonlight Driver was never in it.
Now for the biggie.
3.20: The Gold Cup
You know I don't really get emotionally attached to horses, but watching Kauto Star and Denman taking each other on from the bottom of the hill was quite spectacular stuff. OTN had Denman each way at 17/2 but momentarily, I can honestly say I forgot I had quite a bit of cash riding on this race, such was the enthralling nature of the action. However, as Long Run (5/1) loomed over them both, I remembered that this horse winning would be the best possible result and another great pick by 4PA to follow Zakarandar in the opener.
A truly great race, living up to hype and expectations, and profitable to boot.
NMP's two selections - Tidal Bay and Neptune Collonges were never in it, and Midnight Chase, the each way stab by Winning Racing Tips failed to ever really get competitive.
At only six years of age, 6/1 against Long Run for next year's Gold Cup strikes me as being a fair bet. Can't see anything else at this stage that could compete. Still, a year's a long time.
Am I being greedy? Can't help but think that one more good winner could make this a day to remember.
4.00: The Foxhunter's
4PA went for On The Fringe (4/1) here and although finishing in the frame, never threatened to win. OTN's tip, Jaunty Flight (20/1) was never in it.
Not long left now. One bet in the next and then perhaps a last hurrah in the 5.15.
4.40: Martin Pipe's Conditional Handicap Hurdle
Solitary OTN tip, Karasenir, is never in with a chance.
Just one to go, and it's a biggie. Get a result in this and it will have been a fantastic day.
5.15: Grand Annual Handicap Chase
Oh well, wasn't to be. 4PA had two in this and they happened to be the same two as identified by OTN - Shoreacres (8/1) and De Boitron (10/1). Either of those would have been very nice. PJA also had two in Oh Crick (10/1) and Tanks For That, but like so may of theirs at the moment, they were never in with a chance.
To be honest, I'm glad it's all over. It's been a good last day, but what I said at the top still applies. The Festival itself has been superb as it always seems to be. The Gold Cup today will be a race that lives very long in the memory and in time I think it will go down as one of the all time great races.
Just as a sidenote, there is a lot of tension in the air still. Graeme Dand (The Football Analyst) is very much in the running for the Racing Post's 'Select A Stable' competition. After Sir Des Champs won, he has a very real possibility of picking up the jackpot, which is not an inconsiderable amount. This could be the result of the week... I'll let you know what happens tomorrow.
4PA: Staked 7pts, +13.375pts.
PJA NH: Staked 3pts, -3pts.
Northern Monkey Punter: Staked 1.5pts, -1.5pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 0.3pts, -0.3pts.
On The Nose: Staked 7.25pts, -1.687pts.
The Sportsman: Staked 0.1pt, +0.438pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.25pts, -0.25pts.
Total financial profit on the racing of £599.52.
Friday 18th March: Staked £638, +£599.52.
Week to date: Staked £2,366, +£161.80.
Month to date: Staked £9,333, +£735.02, roi 7.87%.
It's been an interesting week, full of downs and then ups. There are a few issues to examine though once the dust has settled. More on these next week.
I'm off to get an early night.