Day 4 – No more betting?
Day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival was suddenly upon me and I had the horrible realisation that due to the carnage of the past two days, I no longer had the appetite to bet.
I have heard that some companies who offer poker players entry into tournaments in exchange for a revenue share of their winnings, often give losing players a “cool down” period, so they don’t go on tilt and do their proverbial conkers because they are not in the right frame of mind.
I took the decision on day 4 of Cheltenham that I was on tilt, so I decided I would enjoy the racing for what it is, rather than adopting the old Skybet adage that “It matters more when there is money on it”. This is the pinnacle of jumps racing after all, I do not need betting to keep me interested in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the biggest race of the year.
So what will this “betting” diary be about you may ask? Well, I will still keep it betting focused, just not on my own punting, rather a look over all of the action, where the good money was and who won the big races.
The 2012 JCB Triumph Hurdle
The Alan King trained Grumeti went into this one as favourite at 5/1, though the 20 strong field looked highly competitive from the outset.
Quite why Countrywide Flame was not further towards the top end in the betting for the JCB Triumph Hurdle is a bit of a mystery to me, as the 4 year old bay has enjoyed a a strong juvenile season and looked a decent bet at 33/1 to be in amongst the prizes. The Quinn trained juvenile stayed on strongly up the hill to finish 3 lengths ahead of Irish export Hisaabaat, a 20/1 shot who ran a cracking race.
Grumeti finished in a respectable 3rd, but was not a match for Countrywide Flame, who enjoyed a 7th win in 12 months and a first at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 2012 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle
Most 26 runner handicaps are going to be hard to call and the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle proved no different. 11/2 favourite Citizenship finished nowhere and a tight race was eventually won by 3/4 of a length by the AP McCoy ridden Alderwood.
It is probably lucky that I had thrown in the towel for betting on the 4th day of the festival, as I don’t think I would have stood a chance in the opening two races. Maybe my decision was a good one. Or maybe I am just a boring individual who has lost his nerve after a couple of poor showings. To be fair, probably the latter.
The 2012 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Boston Bob began as favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle after a very promising 2011/2012 campaign that saw him notch up 2 class 1 victories in Navan and Leopardstown. Many of the bookmakers saw Boston Bob as a banker for the festival and although less high profile than the likes of Hurricane Fly or Sprinter Sacre, the 7 year old was to be highly respected on all known form.
Boston Bob opened at 6/5 but was available at 5/4 with most major bookmakers, including Stan James and Bet Victor. In fairness, Boston Bob ran a good race, but it was 7/1 chance Brindisi Breeze who lead from the start and stayed there, powering home to beat the favourite by 2 lengths to the delight of trainer Lucinda Russell.
Boston Bob ran a good race into second and Grand Vision finished in 3rd at 20/1.
Probably another lucky escape for my betting P & L, as I liked the look of Boston Bob, perhaps not at the SP of 6/5, but I thought he stood a good chance of landing a fifth successive victory. I get the feeling Boston Bob and Brindisi Breeze will be interesting prospects to keep an eye on in the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
The 2012 Betfred Chelteham Gold Cup
On to the big one, the mother load, the biggest jumps race in the whole wide world and the the prize that every trainer and jockey dreams about getting his/her hands on.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup was upon me and the irony is that I had chosen not to engage in betting on the race months ago, so my betting amnesty for day 4 of the festival was not really affected.
Most of you know the story, Long Run won the Gold Cup last year (2011) as 7/2 favourite at the tender age of 6, with chasing legends Denman (8/1 in the betting) and Kauto Star (5/1) finishing in second and third respectively.
Long run has endured a frustrating 2011/2012 season, being turned over twice by the phenomenal but ageing Kauto Star, both at Haydock in the Betfair Chase on November 19th and in the William Hill King George VI at Kempton on boxing day.
The big story of the race was could the old master again overturn his younger competitor? Long Run was available at 7/4 with most major bookmakers, including William Hill and Bet365. Kauto Star was second favourite in the betting and could be backed at 3/1 for Gold Cup glory.
There were a number of interesting outsiders in the race, with Burton Port being well backed from an initial price of 40/1 (As tipped up on Sportsbook Guardian with Sportingbet as an each way contender in January). The talented Henderson chaser was well supported and went off at an SP of 8/1. Other interesting contenders included Jonjo O’Neill‘s 9 year old Welsh Grand National winner Synchronised, who has immense staying power and is a good jumper. Synchronised opened up in the Gold Cup betting at 15/2 and drifted to an SP of 8/1.
Midnight Chase made all of the running early on and looked in good spririts, whilst Kauto Star and Long Run began in handy positions and jumped the first few fences well. Unfortunately, with well over 1 circuit left to go, Kauto Star was being niggled along and the second favourite in the betting and Cheltenham favourite had to be pulled up.
Ruby Walsh later reported the 2011 King George VI winnner to be fine after the race, but that Kauto Star was not travelling at all properly and was pulled up as a precaution. So much for the Long Run vs Kauto Star show down. This was definitely a sad and unfitting way for Kauto Star to bow out of the Cheltenham Festival, however the crowd still gave the two times Gold Cup winner a rapturous applause upon pulling up, which was great to see and a measure of what a legend he really is.
Back to the action of the race. Long Run travelled strongly throughout, but did not jump at all well, a trait which may have cost the 2011 winner the race.
Interestingly, Synchronised was being ridden along as early as the first circuit, so for the Welsh Grand National winner to eventually win the Gold Cup was quite astonishing. In reality, Synchronised was always going to be outpaced at some stage and 3 furlongs from home it was 50/1 shot The Giant Bolster, Long Run and 33/1 chance Time For Rupert who looked like pulling away from the pack.
Just as it looked like there would be a huge upset and we would see a 50/1 winner in the 2012 Gold Cup, Synchronised rallied about 2 furlongs out and powered past both the Giant Bolster and Long Run up the Cheltenham Hill.
Nowadays, do you really need pace to win the Gold Cup? Perhaps this goes to show that true stayers can also compete in 3 mile races at this level. Well done to Synchronised for winning a very interesting renewal of the Gold Cup.
Interestingly, Synchronised has been priced up as joint 3rd favourite for the 2013 Gold Cup, as a 10/1 shot with Bet Victor, Paddy Power and Stan James. If you fancy getting in there early, you can bet on the Gold Cup and any other 2013 Cheltenham Festival races and also claim an exclusive free bet via Sportsbook Guardian.
The 2012 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
Onward with the action and the final few races of the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. The Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup was won by the 7/1 shot Salsify, with Chapoturgeon the 3/1 favourite finsishing a length behind in second.
The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle went off at 16:40. This was a very competitive handicap hurdle with 24 runners and the finish ended up being enthralling. Attaglance, a 20/1 chance survived a stewards enquiry for interfering with two runners who finished outside of the top 3. Attaglance pipped second place Toner D’Oudairies by a neck, who in turn beat the 10/1 and Henderson trained third place Oscar Nominees by a neck.
Exciting stuff and a bit of scandal, whcih we all love to see at the Cheltenham Festival.
The 2012 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup
Alas, the last race of the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, the Grand Annual Chase. Dreams have been made, in the case of the Henderson stable boy who won a million pounds on a five time multiple, and also shattered, in the case of my own betting and in particular Sizing Europe in the Champion Chase.
Could the favourite backers end Cheltenham on a high? No was the answer to that, as Kid Cassidy finished in 12th place to disappoint both favourite and AP McCoy backers alike. The race was won by the 20/1 Henderson trained Bellvano, with another Henderson horse (9/1) Tanks for that in second and Kumbeshwar (16/1) in third.
My word, Nicky Henderson had a cracking Cheltenham 2012.
The Final Thoughts On My 2012 Cheltenham Betting Blog
My betting P & L was drastically down for the 2012 festival. The two main problems were:
1) Sizing Europe being beaten in the Sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase.
2) Oscar Whisky not placing in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
I really thought that the bookies were going to get hit this year, with some very strong looking favourites contesting the major races. As with most years at Cheltenham, it is so highly competitive and many horses are improving so quickly, that inevitably some of the “good things” for us punters are regularly turned over.
I guess that is racing really.
I started off well on day one, getting my betting off to a winning start. But days 2 and 3 were so dire, I restrained from betting on the final day of the festival, thinking that I was almost definiteluy on tilt by this stage.
I also didn’t have any ante post bets on the final day, so I was free for a day to simply enjoy the sport. I have to say that betting on the racing does add an extra element of excitement for me personally, however I really enjoyed watching the 2012 Gold Cup as a neutral.
In a sadistic way, I hope some of you enjoyed reading parts of my trials and trivulations over the four day festival. If anyone had any better luck in the betting than I did, then please feel free to contribute.
I have not had a bet since day 3, so I am about ready to put my punting boots back on this weekend. I think the pressure of betting on the Cheltenham Festival got to me a little. Perhaps I should leave the festival to the big boys and concentrate on the all weather. Actually, maybe not.
Over and out…for this year. Roll on Cheltenham 2013.