Monday 28 May 2018

Betting ring

Wayne Bailey

'Hail glorious Saint Patrick, can you lend me ten bob? My father's not working; he's out of a job, He's been to the bookies, and just spent his dole, And now we've no dinner, no lights and no coal.'

St Patrick's Day and Cheltenham combined -- does it get any better than this? My late grandfather used to love annoying the locals in the long-gone Thatch Pub in Sallynoggin by singing a few bars of the above song back in the 1970s -- and my grandmother, who was a keen mass-goer, was convinced he'd go to hell for it.

I'm not quite sure where he is now, but if he can offer any divine intervention on St Patrick's Day 2011, I'll gladly take it.

I'm sure we'll hear loads of clichés today about the 'luck of the Irish', but there's one race where we don't have much hope today -- the Ladbrokes World Hurdle (3.20).

Unless you stretch it to include Iris's Gift from Jonjo O'Neill's yard, the last Irish-trained winner of this race was Michael Hourigan's Dorans Pride back in 1995, and it's highly doubtful that we'll have one today as Big Buck's attempts the treble.

He's trading around 11/10 at the moment, which seems quite big in comparison to the ante-post markets a few weeks ago in which he was down as low as 8/13.

That was before Grands Crus stormed on to the scene, almost out of nowhere. It's amazing to think that David Pipe's gelding was only rated in the mid-120s late last year, but is now considered one of the top staying hurdlers in training. He's classy, he's exciting; and he's going to put it up to Big Buck's today.

This could turn out to be the race of the Festival but as much as I admire Grands Crus, Big Buck's can draw on his experience to see this through. Paul Nicholls' nine-year-old has been brilliant since he was switched back to hurdles.

Grands Crus is a great pretender and I'm certain he'll become one of the best horses we've seen in some years -- but Big Buck's is far from the retirement home yet and I'm banking on him to match Inglis Drever by taking a third World Hurdle this afternoon.

Stat Attack

The Ryanair Chase (2.40) is a fairly new addition to the Festival (2005), but there's a strong course-form trend emerging, with all six winners to date having won at Cheltenham before. In fact, five of the six runner-ups also had a Cheltenham win under the belt.

Lay of the day

The Pertemps Final has become a minefield for backers in recent times -- the last seven winners went off at 16/1, 16/1, 18/1, 14/1, 50/1, 10/1 and 50/1. There are a couple of horses battling it out for favouritism including Chartreux and Sivota, but with the jolly having such a bad record in this race, I'm happy to click pink for whichever horse ends up shortest in the market at 2.05.

Watching Brief

Ferdy Murphy has a profitable record in handicaps at Cheltenham and he bagged a 10/1 winner on Tuesday with Divers. There's a few whispers going around for Galant Nuit in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase today (4.40), but he can be lazy and I'm not quite sure I'd trust him to finish the job. But he ran well in third last year, so it will be interesting to see if he can go one or two better in 2011.

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