Could last weekâ€™s Cheltenham Festival have been any better? Sure, we all would have liked a double on Venetia Williamsâ€™ winners but for sheer excitement and drama I cannot remember a better race meeting.
Highlight for me was Tony McCoy guiding home Wichita Lineman in the William Hill Trophy. You will not see a greater ride outside Disneyland. McCoy, like the majority of his colleagues, has broken more bones than Humpty Dumpty but continues to ply his trade without fuss or ceremony. He is a credit to the sport and his profession.
My only slight grumble goes to the idiot who accosted me near the Arkle bar before the Gold Cup. He had obviously just returned from a â€˜Most Boisterous Trouserâ€™ convention and was sporting a ghastly checked pair once owned by Rupert the Bear.
â€˜Do you want to know who will win the Gold Cup?â€™ he inquired of me.
â€˜Yes pleaseâ€™, I answered.
â€˜Denman Starâ€™ offered back my new found Nostradamus. As the News of the World might say I quickly made my excuses and left.
Certainly, four days down at Cheltenham is one of the toughest and most demanding occasions in the racing calendar and many fail to stay the trip. The same could be said of next monthâ€™s John Smithâ€™s Grand National. Run over four and a half miles the winner needs to have confirmed stamina to see out the marathon distance. Last yearâ€™s victor Comply Or Die is a perfect case having won a Grade 2 over 3m2f as a four-year-old, before winning the 4m1f Eider Chase two months before triumphing at Liverpool.
It may seem obvious but oppose any classy horses that turn up with grand national form over shorter trips, and also be very wary of horses carrying more than 11 stone. In the last 20 years only Hedgehunter has managed this feat when victorious in 2005. For this reason I would look to take on present favourite My Will. Despite an eye catching fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he is set to carry 11st3lbs as a two pound weights rise looks almost certain with Snoopy Loopyâ€™s rumoured defection. Add to that Paul Nichollsâ€™ poor record in the race (only eight finishers from 40 runners) and he is far too short at 10/1.
At the prices two horses stand out. Rambling Minster won the 4 mile Scottish Border National on soft ground in December 2007 and has won his last two starts. Aimed specifically for the race he is set to carry 10st8lbs and looks value at 20/1 with Boylesports and Skybet.
At big odds Nicky Hendersonâ€™s Golden Flight also looks interesting. Sent over from France to run in the National, the 10-year-old ran a useful prep race at the Cheltenham Festival and has top class grand national form across the sea, including a noticeable 3m5f victory on soft ground. The 50/1 with William Hill and Betfred should be taken.