No need to skive off work (much) we’re bringing you all the latest updates from Prestbury Park.
Good afternoon and welcome to our live, minute-by-minute coverage of Cheltenham Thursday.
The first race of the day is still 40 odd minutes away so be sure to nose around Mark your Card where Mark Hobbs has assessed the form.
Your other option is to download our very convenient sweepstakes kit for the World Hurdle.
Close your eyes when picking from the hat, we don’t want any unseemly allegations of cheating when you pull out Big Bucks.
Any tips going, lads? Not from Ted Walsh he told Channel four:
“I’ve had three tips all week and they’ve all lost, so I’m very clever.”
Ah now, Ted. Come on, who do you like?
“I would like to see Big Bucks win – to get the four in a row.”
And of course, some lad called Ruby is in the saddle too.
The Jewson novices chase is coming up, the first race of the third day. We’re in the thick of it now.
Mark Hobbs has called Solix for this one, a very strong shout at 8/1 considering it’s that wining combination of Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson together again.
The favourite going out is Donald McCain’s Peddlers Cross at 5/2.
Mist is still hanging low over the track so the runners will need decent eyesight. So keep an eye out for empty boxes of carrots around the stables (*taps nose).
Willie Mullins has Davy Russell riding Sir des Champs (7/2) and Ruby Walsh is on Cristal Bonus (6/1) for Paul Nicholls.
The Journal have gone under the radar somewhat (a cheeky tip from trackside we reckon) with the 8/1 shot Champion Court.
We here at The Score think Geraghty’s week is showing no signs of tapering off, so it’s Solix for us, also 8/1.
Remember, it’s four points for picking the winner, two for second and a point for any other place. And at the starting bell the tipster mini-league looks like this:
The Score: 20
The journal: 11
The Jewson Novices Chase is under way. Who is your money on?
Halfway there and Champion Court leads from Zaynar. Peddlers Cross is a good five lengths back in the field.
Sir Des Champs wins the Jewson Novices Chase
Another really good finish to that race, Champions Court travelled well throughout, but Sir Des Champs – owned by Michael O’Leary, trained by Willie Mullins – really turned on the gas going into the last and accelerated up the hill.
‘A Gold Cup horse of the future’ he’s being touted on C4.
And Mullins has just backed that up. When asked ‘Gold Cup next year’:
“Oh, definitely yes.”
O’Leary meanwhile was just happy to claim some bragging rights in his own house.
“My children always say ‘Daddy why are all your horses crap?’ Well, Matt and Luke, there you go.”
The weather is dull, but we are delighted to see John McCririck has brought back the white stetson and paired it beautifully with what looks like a grey throw-over for his dogs couch.
We’ll endeavour to bring you a screenshot.
The good people at Betfair have been in touch with a quick summary of that race, plenty of value available if you called it right:
Winner: Sir Des Champs
Betfair Starting Price: 4.7
Antepost High of Winner: 30.0
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Sir Des Champs matched at 5.52; Champion Court matched at 2.0
Yes, yes, I’m doing it…. The Journal have urged me to update the mini-league standings, post haste.
The Score: 20
The Journal: 13
Next up is the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.
Will you be saying your prayers after betting on TJ Murphy on the favourite Our Father? The Journal are.
This is a quick three miler and David Pipe has a second horse in the top three favourites: Buena Vista is at 9/1.
The Score have plumped for Catch Me with AP McCoy on board, but this could get very interesting.
Ruby Walsh is on Sergent Guibs (8/1) second favourite for Mullins. Barry Geraghty is on Thehillofuisneach…
Palace Jester leads from Buena Vista as they enter the back straight.
Cape Tribulation wins
Somebody, made some serious cash off that result. Here’s that Betfair recap.
Winner: Cape Tribulation
Betfair Starting Price: 21.86
Antepost High of Winner: 50
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Cape Tribulation backed at 29, Cantlow traded at 2.12 in-running and Catch Me at 3
PING! we hit the bar again, two points for The Journal, two for The Score after two races on day three.
All these numbers are making me dizzy.
Next up is the big one, the Ryanair Chase which leads us right up to the bigger one 3.20
Riverside Theatre was the favourite here even before Barry and the Henderson’s hit form. He missed last years race, but you can get him in or around 7/2 today.
Albertas Run is aiming for a Ryanair hat-trick, but isn’t fancied to do so after drifting out to 8/1.
Medermit is also 8/1, slightly longer odds than another horse who is well backed – Noble Prince with Davy Russell on board is 15/2.
The Journal have gone for the favourite, Riverside Theatre, The Score are desperately looking for good omens and found some in Captain Cris.
Now lads, put the tea-leaves away before ya get burnt!
A bit of blood in the mouth of Poquelin, he has withdrawn.
12 runners remain and they are….. off!
Ruby Light leads from Albertas Run with eight to jump.
Riverside Theatre wins the Ryanair Chase.
Another favourite, and another superb ride from Geraghty.
In a tight race, Albertas Run and Great Endeavour swapped the lead numerous times, but Riverside held on in there.
“Every time I dug into him,” said Geraghty, “he found more.”
“It’s unbelievable for him to do it – at this level.”
Winner: Riverside Theatre
Betfair Starting Price: 4.39
Antepost High of Winner: 16
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Albertas Run was backed at 1.13 to win and Medermit at 2.02, Riverside Theatre traded at 12 in the run.
It’s been a hell of a day for The Journal (I hope they’ve money down too). That win in the Ryanair Chase has closed the gap right down to gap that can be closed within the hour.
The Score: 22
The Journal: 17
(left to right) Little Josh ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, Albertas Run ridden by Tony McCoy and Rubi Light ridden by Andrew Lynch jump the fence during the Ryanair Chase /Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport
We’re 15 minutes from the World Hurdle, ample time to get your money on Big Bucks (4/5) an absolutely class horse, nobody can see anyone beating him. Not The Journal, not The Score, nobody.
But Ruby Walsh hasn’t had a great festival, he had Hurricane Fly on Tuesday and failed to get it firing. Geraghty and Henderson will be lurking not far behind on Oscar Whisky (4/1).
Mullins and Townend enter the field on Thousand Stars (8/1) but maybe a good shout for each way is Voler la Vadette at 20/1.
Channel Four tipping value on Smad Place at 25/1, I defer to their greater knowledge.
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is under way. Can Big Bucks and Ruby Walsh please the punters?
Big Bucks must have this, sitting just behind the leaders: Cross Kennon and Five Dream.
Two to jump and Big Bucks leads the way from Mourad…
Big Bucks wins the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Paul Nicholls breaths a massive heaving sigh of relief after that one.
“I was getting a bit worried,” Nicholls admitted to Channel Four, “because we had been totally out of luck and out of form.”
The pressure’s off now, Paulie.
Winner: Big Buck’s
Betfair Starting Price: 1.87
Antepost High of Winner: 3.25
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Big Buck’s was backed at 2.1 when threatened at the finish by Voler La Vedette who traded at 1.9
Now, remember earlier on we promised you a gawk at John McCririck and his snazzy get up….
So winners all round from The Journal and The Score.
Actually, with Voler la Vadette in second, we feel we called that race pretty well, can we get extra points… pleeeeaasssse?
The Score: 26
The Journal: 21
A firm ‘no’ then.
Ain’t no stopping us now, as they say in the 70′s.
We still have three races to go and next up is the Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase.
Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls can put wins back to back with Crack Away Jack (7/1). Salut Flo is the 6/1 favourite with Tony Scudamore in the saddle.
The Journal have picked Divers with AP McCoy on board. Giorgio Quercus is the lucky horse to have the backing of Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson, though he is unfancied at 16/1.
A lot of money is finding it’s way onto Hectors Choice (10/1) too we hear.
Notus De La Tour is TheScore.ie’s educated guess, he’s come in from 12 to 9/1.
Notice De La Tour is down, B***s to that.
Salut Flo win the Byrne Group Plate handicap.
Salut Flo leads the way at the half. Tightly bunched just behind him.
Jockey, Tom Scudamore, hugely emotional in the winners enclosure there, his grandfather who was also a successful jockey, has been ill of late and Tom could add little more than, “we’re so so proud of him.”
The Journal just keep chipping away at our hard-earned lead. Here’s the current standings of our tipsters mini-league.
The Score: 26
The Journal: 22
The Kim Muir handicap chase is coming up at 4.40. This looks wide open with Sunnyhillboy at 13/2.
With over 20 riders, it could pave the way for a big shock.
In the last race of the day The Journal fancy a shock of sorts with Gurtacrue at 16/1.
The Score will go with Mark Hobbs’ choice, Brackloon High who is at 14/1.
It’s a hugely competitive race, though which hasn’t seen an Irish winner since 1983.
Mullins has the race’s second favourite, Up The Beat (8/1).
Charlie Swan’s Start Me Up is 10/1 with Nina Carberry on board.
The Kim Muir Handicap Chase is underway.
Becauseicouldntsee travelling well and leads from Benbane Head.
Sunnyhill Boy wins the Kim Muir Handicap Chase.
That’s it from me for today. hope you enjoyed the live coverage. it was a good day for the punters and one man inparticular who stuck a pound on Sunnyhill Boy at 159/1 as the race was in full flow.
Betfair Starting Price: 9.53
Antepost High of Winner: 26
Notable In-Running Highs and Lows: Sunnyhillyboy was backed at 160 (with £1 traded at 400), Becauseicouldntsee backed at 2.2
Tomorrow is going to be even better. Can Kauto Star overtake Long Run?
We’ll see you there to find out.