Cheltenham Preview Evening 1

Published On February 17, 2012 | By dominic | Latest news, Star Spreads, Tony

I attended my first Cheltenham preview evening last night in the Templemore Arms Hotel in County Tipperary. Star will be sponsoring many more of these previews over the next month, both in the UK and in Ireland, as punters look to get an edge on us lowly bookmakers come Gold Cup time.

We had a brilliant panel lined up last night in the form of Davy Russell, Robbie Power, Andrew Lynch, Shark Hanlon and Robert Hall of RTE, Dave Keenan and our very own Donal McCarthy. The MC of the night was Denis Kirwan who did a great job on the night. Davy Russell is notoriously good value on nights like this and I was very much looking forward to his war of words with the very entertaining Shark Hanlon.

We sat and had a bit of grub and a cheeky drink with the jockeys and trainers, and then it was down to business; the paying customers wanted to get in the inside info for Cheltenham!

Both Davy and Andrew came on to say that they feel Peddlers Cross will outstay Sprinter Sacre in the arkle, and unsurprisingly there was resounding support for Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle (We were generous enough to offer evens about Hurricane Fly to all in attendance – Best industry price!)

After all of the Hurricane mull had ended, the jockeys gave us all an indication of which horses they would be riding at the festival. Robbie “Puppy” Power stated that he would more than likely be on Big Zeb, who was demolished by Sizing Europe in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown two weeks ago. Sizing Europe is the clear favourite for this year’s Queen Mother Champion chase at 11/10 with Big Zeb at 13/2.

As far as the Ryanair Chase was concerned, much of the focus was on Rubi Light, who most believed was a massive price given its ability. Shark Hanlon made the point that if Paul Nicholls or Willie Mullins had Rubi Light he’d be 2/1 for the Ryanair – notepads were out in an instant for that one, you can get 15/2 in places… Value!

The long-awaited debate between Shark and Davy came as we approached the Triumph Hurdle, much to the delight of the audience. Shark stated that Minsk was the Irish banker of the festival and after a win at Fairyhouse it would shorten dramatically. Davy then pitched in and said that he knew “for a fact” that Minsk was lame this year and had no chance at Cheltenham. Interestingly, a couple of members of the panel put up Daroun of Mullins’ camp as a bit of value at 20’s.

It was then time for the biggun’, the Gold Cup, and everyone sat up in their chairs. Shark, who is never one to sit on the fence, ruled out Quel Esprit from the outset. The general consensus was that Long Run will get the win, as Kauto had had too tough a season to beat it. But based on Long Run’s narrow victory at Newbury on Friday, opinions may have changed now. Power feels that this year’s race could well be won by a 25/1 shot and that an upset is long overdue. He tipped 25/1 shot Burton Port as the ante-post value, after performing well at Henderson’s yard.

As far as the charity bets were concerned, Russell backed Midnight Chase for the Gold Cup at 16’s, Power backed Steps to Freedom in the Supreme Novices at 9’s, and Andrew Lynch backed Salcify in the Foxhunter at 10’s.

Shark, of no surprise to us, took a different approach. He backed a treble of Hurricane Fly, Long Run, and Minsk, much to the bemusement of Davy Russell!

A very enjoyable evening with the entire panel, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing a lot more of the lads over the coming month as we attend many more Cheltenham previews.

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