Roy’s Wonders ….. The Chosen Ones !!!

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The key thing about picking horses you think have a good chance of winning ,and sharing your final picks with the rest of the universe, is to ensure you have a good enough excuse when it all goes tits up. Last year was a prime example of when it all goes wrong, and the reason it all went wrong is that the horses I picked didn’t like the cold weather, and to say last years at the festival was cold would be the understatement of the year….it was f*cking freezing, and I can definitely say that the horses I selected last year were fair weather animals, they’d only perform with the sun shining brightly and with the temperature well in to double figures. There you go … perfect excuse for not picking any winners last year !!!!

So this year, I’m getting my excuses in early. As I mentioned when I went through the horses I’d wanted to put in the 2014 version of the Million Pound Punt in my last post, things haven’t quite fallen right this year and although I’m sitting pretty with the five horses highlighted already, I haven’t managed to combine them in anything like a seven figure returning bet, so I’ve had to turn Plan B and come up with some nice juicy priced selections that will have the bookies quaking in their rather expensive boots (probably bought courtesy of the proceeds from last years selections !). I’d already got a couple lined up, after studying some of the big field handicaps earlier in the week, they’re already carrying my cash and thankfully are still just about holding their price. So all I’ve needed to do is find another 3 or 4 decent priced certainties and we’d be sitting pretty. Now here’s where the early excuse comes in …………………

Most of my studying over the last 48 hours has been done whilst impersonating Roy Orbison !!!!!!!!!!! The last seven days has seen my body gradually fall to bits culminating in a case of conjunctivitis last Friday. This is where the problem really started as conjunctivitis is not good for a wearer of contact lenses so I had to search for a spare pair of glasses which only come out in emergencies. Said glasses were nowhere to be found – not that I could see anything anyway – instead all I could put my hands on were a ten year old pair of prescription sunglasses ….. cue Roy Orbison look alike !!!!!!

Now I know the sun has come out over the last couple of days but this is no excuse for me to sit around in a pair of Roy goggles inside my own home…the fact that these were ten years old and therefore half the strength of my current contact lenses only added to the problem.

So there you have it, my excuse, Roy Orbison, as far as I’m aware, was no top horse racing tipster, Roy Orbison never made a Million Pounds from punting horses at the Cheltenham Festival and Roy Orbison most definitely never did his ‘Travelling Wilburys’ whilst freezing his nuts off at Prestbury Park like I did last year !

I’ve done my best to come up with some lovely juicy priced selections that will make that seven figure sum, and if I’m really honest, I’m quite happy with what I’ve come up with. I’ve actually come up with more horses than I’d originally planned and this afternoon placed a series of bets that will net me nearer Three million than just One … but that’s just plain greedy , however I figured that there’s no harm in looking and thinking big so here goes with firstly five selections that could land us the first million, and then some further selections that you can do what you want with. Don’t worry, there’s no long write up on every selection, I’m keeping it nice and simple …. Eyes down …. Read on …..

Five Horses To Win Us A Million

Buthelezi (Novice Handicap Chase – Tuesday) – Currently 20/1

Trained by John Ferguson, who incidentally has never had a winner at the Cheltenham Festival (although he hasn’t been training that long, so we’ll forgive him that !), this 6 year old novice chaser has all the right credentials to land the last race on Tuesday and get THE Million Pound Punt off to a flyer. I’m pretty certain 20/1 won’t be available come Tuesday, it’s too big a price, so if you’re going to back it, get on as soon as you can !

 

Sea Beat (Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle – Wednesday) – Currently 14/1

This Irish challenger, trained by Arthur Moore, gave a favourable impression when he won at Naas in early Feb. Before that, he’d looked like a completely un-genuine bag of shite, however the way he finished his race last time give me the impression that the penny has finally dropped and he knows he’s supposed to run quickly and in front of the other horses. He’s only Four, so has a lot to learn still but the good thing is, so have all the other horses in the race.

 

Une Artiste (Byrne Group Plate – Thursday) – Currently 33/1

Why this mare is 33/1 I’m not quite sure…she might not actually run in this race however as most bookies are Non Runner / No Bet then if it doesn’t run you get your dosh back…so nothing to lose…apart from if it does run and it runs like a drain. The thing is, I think it’ll run ok, in fact I hope it’ll run a lot better than alright. Une Artiste is no stranger to running well at the festival at a big price, she won the Fred Winter two years ago when she was a 40/1 shot and overall has a decent record at Cheltenham. She’ll carry a pretty low weight, which is ideal in this race however the one question mark is the ground..if it dries out too much then we might be snookered but I’m willing to take the risk. 33/1 is too big to pass up …. Here’s hoping this mare doesn’t have a mare come Thursday !

 

Buddy Bolero (Kim Muir – Thursday) – Currently 25/1

I make no apologies for having a feeling …. And with this horse, I gotta feeling ! Trained by David Pipe who has Red Sherlock & Kings Palace in his trust (see original selections from last post !), I just have this feeling that everything is right with Buddy Bolero when it comes to this race. Well almost everything, as Buddy does like a little bit of juice in the ground, so if it’s bone dry then we might have a little problem. He ran ok at the festival last year, so has a little bit of form around the course, but for an 8 year old he’s pretty lightly raced with only 11 career starts so must be open to some improvement. He’s my ‘feeling’ horse ….. try not to get caught feeling a horse … unless it’s a winner !!!

 

Anay Turge (Grand Annual – Friday …. The last race of the festival) – Currently 20/1

I’ve seen Anay Turge win already twice at Cheltenham over the last year…and I like what I saw. I’m pretty sure he’ll get into this race, although he’s entered in to one of the tin pot hurdle races too but I’m certain this is where he’ll end up. No pressure Anay, but by 5.15 on Friday, when the other four selections have p*ssed their relevant races then it’s all down to you to bring home the bacon….all Million Pounds worth of it. 20/1 won’t be the price either, he’ll be shorter on the day and I actually think he’s about the best value of any of the five horses…get stuck in now !!!

 

There you have it, five little gems, all at big prices, stick them all in the same bet,  and you’ve got a 5,847,659/1 accumulator …… F*CK ME …. Did you just see that, I’m going to have to re-name it again …. THE FIVE MILLION POUND PUNT !!!!!!! Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll find a bookie who’ll happily write you a winning cheque for £5mil, so set you sights a bit lower, stick the five in doubles, trebles, 4-folds and an accumulator for small stakes and you’ll probably manage a million pound payout….you just inherited an Uncle Bob !

 

Whilst impersonating Roy O over the last couple of days,  I also came up with one or two other interesting little nuggets for the four days of sporting mayhem that await this coming week…so below are a list of some of the likely mules that’ll be carrying one or two of my very hard earned pound coins –

 

Twirling Magnet – 2.40 Tuesday …. Around 20/1 … I’m hopeful it will run here !

Time For Rupert – 2.40 Tuesday …. Around 20/1 … If the one above doesn’t run, then I’ll back this one.

Present View – 5.15 Tuesday …. 10/1 … In the same race as Buthelezi, I’m going to back them both !

Morning Assembly – 2.05 Wednesday … 7/1 … Value in a race where a couple are way too short.

Zamoyski – 4.40 Wednesday … 25/1 … Same race as Sea Beat but this price is too big….each way value.

Oscar Whisky – 1.30 Thursday ..Screaming to run over this trip at the festival for 3 years..todays the day.

If In Doubt – 2.05 Thursday … 8/1 … One of three I fancy in the race … you can back them all you know !

Thunder & Roses – 2.05 Thursday … 20/1 … Big price … the second of the three !

Seventh Sign – 2.05 Thursday … 25/1 … Bigger price … the third of the three !!!!!!!!

Knock A Hand – 4.40 Thursday … 25/1 … Same race as Buddy Bolero but price is too big if it runs.

 

So there you have it, you have now been enlightened with all my pearls of wisdom for the next week…. If you decide to follow me on this quest for untold riches, then best of luck…you don’t need to invest a fortune to win a fortune, which is great because if they all run like donkeys then you won’t lose a fortune either ! If you make your own selections may they all run really quickly however if they’re running against any of mine, then not that quickly !

 

Thanks for reading and share this with anyone you think might be bored and have five minutes of their lives they don’t mind wasting. I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to update during the week however I’m sure I’ll manage to fire out the occasional Tweet to anyone that might be interested to see if I’m managing to survive, so feel free to follow me @GrahameLetts

Good Luck …. Here’s to winning a million !!!!

 

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Cheltenham 2014 – Million Pound Punt …. Crystal Ball Anyone ????

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Now I’m no fortune teller, in fact the only thing I can tell you about fortunes is that currently I haven’t got one. The thing is, this year more than any before when it comes to dipping my toe in to the Cheltenham Ante Post markets from an early stage to put together the latest version of the million pound punt, it would appear the pre-requisite is a large shiny spherical object that allows you to mystically see in to the future and an equally large pair a boy danglers made of iron alloy, because without either of these you can guarantee that  the direction you’re pissing is most definitely in to the proverbial wind.

I reckon all punters at some time have to be a little fearless if they want to land a decent punt, therefore  balls of steel  I can sometimes do, but I haven’t ever been in possession of Gypsy Rose’s crystal version. For this reason only, my quest to get the 2014 Cheltenham Million Pound Punt up and running has somewhat stumbled to failure before it’s even started. Now there may be one or two of the million Pound Punt disciples from last year that will be over the moon to hear that news, after all from the five original selections, a narrow second place was as good as it got, one of them didn’t even make it to the festival and the other three might have finished their respective races by the time we arrive back at Prestbury Park next week !!!

I’m not saying I’ve not got any fancy selections, far from it, however last year I managed to get all my picks on one slip nice and early and continually backed them all in multiple bets until the seven figure return was guaranteed (or not as the case eventually was !!), this year, the horses I’ve backed have gradually appeared over a few months and by the time each has elevated itself to Million Pound Punt status, the odds on the ones that have already been selected have massively diminished. So, at the moment, in the midst of a punting quandary…does the Million Pound Punt change its name by statistical deed poll and become the Twenty Thousand Pound Punt ??? … or do I draw some more battle lines and come up with some new lively selections that will without doubt net me (and of course you … my disciples !!!) a seven figure payout ???

The answer …. Ah, f*ck It ….. I’m a pretty generous kind of person (mainly to the bookies !) … Let’s do both !!!!

Due to time, I’m not going to go into too much detail about each individual horse I’ve picked, however today I’ll give you the good things I’ve already backed – most at pretty fancy prices, but unfortunately not all in the same bet – these will give you a guaranteed return of at least four figures for just one pound if they all win (and f*ck all if they all lose…remember, the value of your return can go down as well as up should any of my selections decide it doesn’t want to be a racehorse !) Then tomorrow is the big one, proper balls of steel time, no crystal ball required for these bad boys (there might be a girl in there actually…I better check)…I’ll come up with five selections of undoubted equine quality that will make us all filthy rich with bookies money (*disclaimer – I do suffer from moments of dilusion). The ones that appear today WOULD have been the Million Pound Punt selections had I been in possession of the said crystal ball, if I’d realised the qualities of these great animals at the same time, and if I’d known which races they were definitely going to run in at an early stage then we’d have been sitting pretty, but the old punting brain just couldn’t work it all out quick enough, but that’s life and I’m still sitting pretty on some decent horses at cracking prices as you’ll see. So it’s eyes down for a full house for the slightly less than a Million Pound Punt.

My Tent of Yours

Familiar to Million Pound Punt disciples from last year, many would have thought that my ‘unhealthy’ obsession with the Mighty Tent would have diminished after last years disappointment when he was the first selection and came within half a length of getting us off to a flyer in the very first race. It was not to be and unfortunately rather set the tone for the rest of the week. Every time I watch the race again – and I am very sad because I do watch re-runs of horse races….just in case the result is different – I am certain the Mighty Tent is going to win coming over the last flight, it’s not even in doubt, however the eventual winner, Champagne Fever, wearing the ‘girly’ Pink silks of his money bags owner Rich Ricci, received a masterful front running ride from Ruby Walsh to deny my selection and thus prevent us from getting off to a flyer. Far from being put off, and willing to argue the merits of what is undoubtedly my favorite racehorse due to the fact that I’m not sure he’s actually got all his marbles – I like horses that are slightly mad – I began to wade in with my punting boots on, shortly after last years race for the Mighty Tent to win this years Champion Hurdle. My first bet was at the end of March when I backed him at 10/1, and between then and November I’d been scooping up all prices down to 7/1 to ensure I’d got a decent lump on him. I’m currently sitting pretty in terms of the prices I’d backed him at however I was close to chucking myself head first off the nearest high rise block of flats earlier this week when it was announced that the poor animal had a puncture wound in one of his feet (should I say hooves or are they technically feet…whatever, he had a hole somewhere at the bottom of his leg !) and there were rumours abound that he may not line up next week – F*CK OFF, I’m not having it, Not my beloved Mighty Tent who I have dreamt about, Who I have proper horsey love for, The one animal (not including my dog, Monty) who I’d do anything for … ok, it’s getting scary now … let’s just say, I like him, quite a lot, but the thought of him not running in the Champion Hurdle was something I couldn’t begin to contemplate. However, it looks like everything is now rosy in the My Tent or Yours garden as subsequent reports are that he’s looking good and showing no ill effects from the little injury scare. These kids eh, they do put us through hell !!!!!

So, the basis for backing My Tent or Yours, apart from blind faith, is that despite several astute judges commenting that he didn’t get up the hill at Cheltenham and got beat because he bottled it in the fight to the line, I saw it differently. He got beat by a superior ride by Ruby Walsh, on a pretty decent animal in Champagne Fever, who nicked a few lengths early on and dictated the race from start to finish, coupled with the fact that, due to the earlier point I mentioned, he’s not quite got all his horsey marbles in his horsey head, also he’d never raced on a track like Cheltenham before. This year, he’s a stronger, more grown up horse, granted he’s still not quite got the full ticket up top, but I think he settles a little better in his races…only a little, but when he won at Kempton on Boxing Day he showed proper fight in the finish and if you look at the race again (I’ve told you, watching re-runs of horse races is fun !) the last 20 or so metres are what you need to concentrate on. He starts to lengthen and pull away again just at the line, which in my mind bodes well for Cheltenham. Add in the fact that he has now had a run at Cheltenham, a decent run too in finishing second, he only got beaten by half a length, not 20 lengths, so he obviously doesn’t mind the course that much and finally the ground. The ground should play right in to his hands, for a horse with so much natural speed, he doesn’t want to be running in a bog, and it sure won’t be that next Tuesday – Good to Soft at worse….Perfect !!!

So there we go, my very first bet for Cheltenham 2014 was My Tent or Yours at prices between 10/1 & 7/1…..He’s currently available in plenty of places at around 9/2.

Champagne Fever

So why would I want to back the horse that lowered the colours of the Mighty Tent at last years festival ? For that exact reason, he beat the greatest horse in the world !!!!

That’s not strictly the only reason, but to keep it brief…Champagne Fever loves Cheltenham, Champagne Fever is trained by a master, Champagne Fever is ridden by a genius…one slight problem though, will Champagne Fever jump a fence at Cheltenham ?

To explain it for the non-horsey readers, Two years ago, he won the Champion Bumper – the flat race at the festival in case you didn’t know – last year as you’ll know he won the Supreme Novice Hurdle, which is over the smaller obstacles, this year he’s going for the Arkle, which is over the big jumps. The concern though is that shortly after Christmas he made a right old hash of a jump in a race over in Ireland, granted it is about the only time he’s made any major mistake in his jumping, but if he does that at Cheltenham then he’ll be arse over tit on the Prestbury Park turf.  He’s not been seen in a race since, despite having several entries, but without doubt his trainer Willie Mullins knows the time of day, he’s no fool and I’m led to believe that Ruby Walsh is as confident as he’s ever been that  he’s on the winner of the Arkle. One other key thing is that to win the Arkle you need to have been a top notch hurdler, not a nearly but not quite hurdler, but right up there with the big boys. For this fact, I make the race between Champagne Fever and Rock on Ruby. I like Rock on Ruby as he’s also got cracking form around Cheltenham, in fact on paper, probably better than Champagne Fever however he’s  9 years old and horses of that age don’t win this race. In my eyes, Champagne Fever is open to so much improvement being just a 7 year old, if he keeps his jumping together, he’ll win …. I think !

So, my second bet on Cheltenham 2014 was on Champagne Fever at 6/1 …. He’s currently around 3/1.

Red Sherlock

Another horse I have a little bit of an unhealthy liking for, not quite on the scale of the My Tent or Yours obsession but none the less he’s a proper race horse that does everything right in my eyes. From a punting point of view he’s made me a few quid this year, he run at Cheltenham twice, and won twice and carried my cash both times. What do I like about him ???? Hard as nails, a proper battler and he does it the hard way by racing right up with the pace and he’ll stay all day. I don’t think I’ve seen many horses as game as him on a race course and for that reason alone he’s good enough for me to invest in. If I’d have known which Novice race he was heading for at the festival then I’d have backed him last year at really fancy prices, as it is I’m still sitting pretty as I had a small investment on him at 17.5/1 on Betfair for the Neptune Novice Hurdle in January before he won at Cheltenham and luckily that’s where he’s heading. He’s up against a reasonable (that could be a bit of an understatement) Willie Mullins novice in the form of Faugheen, and in my book it’s a match between the two horses but what I will say is Red Sherlock has been to Cheltenham, done the business and got the f*cking t-shirt. Enough said …. Believe me, Sherlock won’t let you down my dear Watson !

Backed in January at just over 17/1, Red Sherlock is around the 9/2 mark to win the Neptune Novices Hurdle

 

Benefficient

Benefficient, or Benny for short due to the fact I keep on spelling his name wrong, is a classic case of a hot and cold horse. Generally, he’s either great, or he’s shit, there’s rarely anything in between however I have a feeling he’s about to change that and embark of a run of greatness. That makes it sound like he’s not done anything too impressive so far, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Benny won at the festival last year as a shock 20/1 winner of the Jewson, and like the previously mentioned Red Sherlock, he did it the hard way. He led most of the way, got challenged and headed but fought back and stayed on better than anything else to win going away….another hard as nails battler…I like hard as nails battlers !

Performances like that stick long in my mind, I didn’t back him last year, of course I didn’t back him last year because he won a race, I didn’t like backing winners last year !!!! To confirm the horse well being, he turned up at Leopardstown just after Christmas and gave a tonking (is that a real word ?) to a decent enough field over a shorter than ideal distance……all seemed good in the Benny Camp !!!!

For punting purposes, I wasn’t sure what to do as there was a chance Benny could end up in the Champion Chase, which over 2 miles is not the right trip for him, he needs the 2m 5f of the Ryanair Chase to show his staying quality and thankfully that looks like the race he’ll end up in. I took a bit of a gamble in late January when I decided to invest, that he would go for the Ryanair, but it was a toss up between not backing him and missing the price, or taking the plunge and hopefully getting some value….I think I’ve pulled off the latter. Backed at just over 8/1 and then also again at 7’s when he was put up by one or two ‘shrewdies’ as a likely winner of the race his price is a whole lot shorter now. His trainer is no mug, he’s no stranger  to a laying a dark horse out to win a handicap and having a few quid /euros on at the same time, however next week I reckon that Grade 1 Festival glory awaits for Benny !

So I’m on Benefficient at around 8/1 & 7/1 ….. he’s currently trading at 4/1 in most places.

Kings Palace

 

If one horse has impressed me more than any other this season, then it’s this one…Kings Palace. In some ways I could say exactly the same about him as I have about Red Sherlock, after all they are both trained by the same man, David Pipe, and have both won twice at Cheltenham this season. However, there is something about this horse that screams out one word …. Class !

I’m not sure what has caused the transformation from decent animal before he first appeared at Cheltenham in October, into uber-impressive performer in both his runs there pre Christmas last year, but whatever it is I’d say to Mr Pipe, keep on doing it. I’m putting it down to three things, firstly he seems to love Cheltenham, he just flies off round there, he’s fast and fluent over his hurdles and nothing has got close to him. Secondly, the penny has dropped. In that I mean that I think he’s realised he’s good at what he does…sounds a bit daft I know, but I honestly think that he’s got that “f*ck you, I’m better than you” attitude and has become a horse who wants to win, and win well. Finally, his dad has a lot to do with it. You think I’ve gone barmy, but I loved his sire, Kings Theatre as a racehorse, he raced on the flat and essentially was a horse with staying quality, and without boring everyone to death about breeding and pedigree, his dad (sire !) was Sadler’s Wells and one of the first things I look at when perusing a racecard is look at the breeding to see if the horse is any relation to Sadler’s Wells. Plenty are, but around Cheltenham you’ll find that this breeding line is relevant as they invariably have staying qualities needed to get up the hill to the winning line. If, sorry when, I own a racehorse, it will be related, somewhere down the line, to Sadler’s Wells. Ok, l think I’ve sent you to sleep with lessons in breeding, but my case for Kings Palace is a strong one.  I think, as with his stable mate Red Sherlock, there is an Irish challenger from the Willie Mullins stable to overcome, in the form of last years Champion Bumper winner (that bloody flat race again !) Briar Hill. Again, on paper I it looks like a match between the two and having backed Kings Palace for the Albert Bartlett in December before he won his second race at Cheltenham at 12’s then I’m pretty happy with my current position. This might be the kiss of death, and I apologies to any connections of the horse now if I put the mockers on it, however I make Kings Palace my best bet of the meeting, I just wish I’d got more on at 12’s !

Backed at 12/1 in December, Kings Palace is currently around a 3/1 shot to win the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle next Friday – which co-incidentally is the day before Kings Palace’s birthday…..I can see him now, hammered in his stable celebrating next weekend !!!!

So these are the five that I’ve already backed and if I’d have got them all at the right time and had them in multiples together I’d be laughing all the way to the Million Pound Punt bank, but unfortunately as I’ve already said, my timing has been less than impeccable and the lack of the Crystal Ball to see into the future means it’s a case of playing them all together at their current odds. So we’ve got 9/2, 3/1, 9/2, 4/1 & 3/1 shots at the prices as I write this, which will give you a 2419/1 accumulator. Nearly 2.5k for a pound…it’s got to be worth it…and if you’ve got  a spare £413.39 sitting around then you could just turn these five into that million pound punt profit !!!

Of course, it isn’t all roses and champagne in the ante post punting garden, I’ve backed some right bags of sh*t too, but luckily not too many. Out of my early fancies for the festival, I think the only major failure has been a horse called African Gold. I had a nice little bet on him at 16/1 to win the RSA Chase and unfortunately his season hasn’t quite gone to plan, in fact he’d be lucky to win a one runner egg and spoon race at the moment as he’s had his injury problems and we’ll not see him again until next season. He’s a lovely horse and as long as he comes back fit and well then I’m not that bothered about lending the bookies a few of my hard earned pounds ! Other not so great bets are At Fishers Cross at 4/1 for the World Hurdle, I think as soon as he’d heard I’d backed him he decided he didn’t want to be a race horse anymore. The poor thing is, by all accounts, held together with Blu tak and Sellotape – not sure that’s a bad thing, they are the standard required items for most of my DIY tasks, although having said that, just like At Fishers Cross this season, most of my DIY masterpieces end up collapsed on the floor after a couple of minutes. He’ll still run in the World Hurlde, but a first place finish is very unlikely !

There is one other ‘dark horse’ I backed earlier in the season that is carrying my 50p. I’d given it up as a lost cause but maybe, just maybe there is still a glimmer of hope. Royal Irish Hussar runs in the Triumph Hurdle next Friday. He won when I was at Market Rasen at the end of September, he jumped like a one legged pig and only just scrambled home however the next time he appeared he destroyed an ok field at Wetherby and then scooted home quite impressively at Cheltenham in November. I thought that was top juvenile hurdling form and invested at 16’s …. He then subsequently got stuffed out of sight at Doncaster in December and I thought the dream was over. It would appear all was not well with him however vibes have been a little better recently and he’s now in to around 14’s in what could be a pretty open race. The ground will suit him so I wouldn’t put anyone off taking a bit of the current price for a sporting bet.

So for part one of the Million Pound Punt, these are the trusty mules that are carrying my cash….not to win a million unfortunately but I’d still end up with a nice healthy profit if My Tent or Yours, Champagne Fever, Red Sherlock, Benefficient & Kings Palace did the business.

I’m afraid you’re going to have to suffer more of my ramblings if you can take it as I’m about to embark on a mammoth studying session for the next 24 hours to try and unearth some value in the big handicaps at the festival which could net that elusive seven figure payout. I’ve already got three in the bag that I’ve already backed, I’ve got at least another couple in mind too so hopefully we’ll be all systems go to the day when those lovely bookies are loading up our wheelbarrow with bundles of the folding stuff !!

Pop back some time tomorrow (Sunday if you’re reading this on Saturday !) and I’ll put up the final selections ….. I’m off to try and find a crystal ball !

Feel free to share the above incoherent rambling with anyone you might think is interested…..you’re of course welcome to share the rollercoaster ride and back any of my selections too, however you have to realsie that I have a day job for a reason and that invariably, the horses I back don’t run very well …. That’s my disclaimer !

Also, follow me on twitter if you really want – @grahameletts  I can guarantee even more useless tweets of complete and utter drivel !!!!

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Anybody Got A Greek Island For Sale ?

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Dmitry Rybolovlev is a name that not so much slips off the tongue, but more like twists it in knots. For those that aren’t familiar with the man whose surname would win any game of scrabble, he’s a proper minted Russian who has recently chucked fistfuls of Rubles in to Monaco Football Club. Now I’m not one to question where he made his millions, no hold that, Billions, although I doubt he’s ever had the Scoop Six up on a Saturday, let alone won the bonus the following week.

So what has old Rybo’ got to do with the return of ‘The Million Pound Punt’ then ? Well, believe it or not, as well as his investments in the afore mentioned Monaco, he’s also treated his daughter to an Island, not any old Island, but the Island that sit’s just a pedalo ride away from my holiday destination this summer. The island in question is Skorpios, and for the educated reading this, you may be familiar with the place. Shipping tycoon and all round Greek Good Guy, Aristotle Onassis bought it for his Mrs, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis back in the ‘60’s, it’s got a bit of history to it, however the fact is he paid a few grand for it and our mate Rybo’ parted wit over £100million. So whilst I’m laying around sweating my plums off in the 40 degrees Greek heat in Mid August, my mind is thinking about freezing cold winters days spent on the great racecourse of the UK spurred on by the thought that when (not IF !) I get my selections right, then I too can buy a little Greek island. Ok, so the good lady will settle for a Greek Villa, that’s always been top of the shopping list, however you need somewhere to put the Greek Villa, so why not a Greek island. Now, as the Greeks are in so much σκατά (google translate it !) financially, I reckon there must be an Island they’ll flog me for a small sum as I’m not willing to change the name of this blog to the ‘One Hundred Million Pound Punt’.  And so, thanks to the glaring riches so openly flaunted right in front of my eyes by Comrade Rybolovlev (did I mention the daughters 54 million euro yacht too !) I’m determined that come March 14th next year, which is Gold Cup Day at the Cheltenham festival, that the Million Pound Punt will be landed and with it that little bit of Greek paradise !

Since the last post back in April, I’ll have to admit, my enthusiasm for the summer racing, especially that on the flat, has been somewhat minimal. The hangover from Cheltenham does seem to last longer each year, not the one caused by copious amounts of Guinness, that’s usually gone within a week, the one where you try and take in all that has just happened, and then the thought that it’s another year until it happens again. That said, in reality it’s only a wait of around 6 months until you can actually start getting really excited again about the new jumps season (proper) getting under way. Yes, I know that one jumps season ends in April and the next one starts just 24 hours later, however jumps racing when you don’t need to put fifteen layers on to avoid hypothermia just doesn’t do it for me. Visits to Newmarket for the 2000 Guineas, Epsom for the Derby, York for one of the Saturday cards and two trips to my local track at Leicester (note – these two trips resulted in 14 losing bets in a row….I hate that course !) were enjoyable,  but the atmosphere and sport on offer just doesn’t quite match that of the winter jumps, not for me anyway. It had been my intention to update my quest for untold racing riches a few weeks ago however the fact I still have to work for a living has somewhat got in the way, but trips to Market Rasen and Cheltenham (both profitable) and Aintree (not at all profitable…but then nobody comes away from Liverpool with any money in their pockets, let alone wheels on the car … Sorry, stereotyping …. Only joking !) means that the new jumps season is well and truly in full swing and the ‘notebook’ is being updated with comments about some mighty beasts that will form the selections in my million pound punt come mid March in the Cotswolds.

The great thing about this time of the year is that everybody has their own idea of the likely candidates when it comes to the showpiece races at the Cheltenham Festival. I’m no different, and of course I’ve got my idea of what is going to be there or thereabouts in the biggies at Prestbury Park, I’ve already got the winner of the Champion Hurdle sorted as my complete and utter ridiculous infatuation behind one of last years Million Pound Punt Horses – My Tent of Yours – continues into this season. Pure and simple, I love that horse and by the fact that I’ve been steadily piling a few quid here and there on to the ‘Mighty’ Tent for the last 7 months, I’m convinced that 2014 will see the Green & Gold colours pouncing fast and late to claim the Champion Hurdle (unlike this years Supreme Novice Hurdle when he didn’t quite appear fast enough…I still feel the pain !). The next few weeks will see the leading contenders, the pretenders and the new kids on the block all appear and I expect that my first serious Cheltenham bet as part of my Million Pound Punt will be on placed before the end of November, however I’m relying on the nice bookie chaps to price up some of the supporting races so I can at least try and sneak a bit of value.

Below is a list of horses that I’m keen to keep on the right side of this jumps season, and which could well appear in the 2014 Million Pound Punt …. Some are obvious ones, some maybe not so…but time will tell –

My Tent of Yours … Champion Hurdle … Unhealthy obsession from yours truly with this beast !

Kings Palace … Ultra impressive at Cheltenham in October, destroyed the opposition .. looks quality

Champagne Fever … If he takes to fences then I can’t see anything to beat him in the Arkle

African Gold … Good Horse … RSA Chase I think for this one at the Festival

The New One … Another horse I really like but will clash with My Tent or Yours unfortunately

Tiger Cliff … Class on the flat, hopefully will take to Hurdles and one for the Supreme Novices … maybe !

Annie Power … No idea where she’ll end up but full of class

Katenko … If over last season slight injury then could develop into a high class contender

Red Sherlock … Again, no idea where he’ll end up, but one I can’t wait to see run

At Fishers Cross … the pretender to Big Bucks crown

Un De Sceaux … Without doubt, this one IS top notch. A future superstar in my eyes

 

There will be others to add as the days go by, my short list is usually longer than a Dickens novel by the time we get to the Festival in March, but these are the ones I’m sweet on and will keep the right side of. Just for the record, at this early stage, I could back My Tent or Yours for the Champion Hurdle at 6’s, Kings Palace for the Albert Bartlett at 16’s, Champagne Fever at  6’s for the Arkle, African Gold for the RSA at 16’s, Tiger Cliff at 20’s for the Supreme Novice Hurdle and At Fishers Cross for the World Hurdle at 4’s …. The accumulator pays 1,486,905/1 … Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm interesting !!!

 

So there we go, we’re off and running for another tilt at winning a million and I’m sure it’ll be full of ups  and downs …or should I say full or empty pockets, but I hope that come summer next year, I’ll be lazing around on my own rocky bit of Greek Island paradise, plum scratching and all, waving across the way at my nice friendly Russian neighbors safe in the knowledge that my mass wealth came from Messers Laddies, Hills, Power & James rather than a brown envelope full of Rubles from the Siberian Oil fields*

Hope you enjoyed the read …. As I’ve always said, feel free to leave a comment … good or bad … feedback (and banter) is always appreciated and I’ll post regular updates over the next 5 or so months in the run up to the festival.

Thanks  for taking the time to read this and feel free to follow me on twitter @grahameletts

*disclaimer … I was only joking about where rich Russians get their dosh from and in no way was implying Mr Rybolovlev or any other wealthy person from that neck of the woods made their fortune by ‘questionable’ means !!

 

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John, Paul, George & Ringo…Forget Beatle Mania…The Grand National Review

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As I mentioned in my previous blog about the Grand National, there’s always a story that comes out of the race that people will remember and talk about for years to come and this year it was going to be all about the first lady jockey to ride the winner of the great race. The press seemed to whip half the country up into some sort of punting fervor that Katie Walsh, sister of master horseman Ruby (he may have girls name, but he’s a bloke !) was going to ride Seabass, trained by her dad Ted , to victory. Now call me a cynic, however I have a feeling those bookie chaps were well and truly behind the creation of  this ‘good news story to be’ as it meant that the once a year punters would all jump upon the ‘Seabass Express’ and part with their hard earned £1 each way. So you ask, why would the bookies want to promote this story so the whole world and his mother would back Ms Walsh and Seabass for victory ? …. Well it’s simple, it’s because Young Katie, and even younger Seabass couldn’t possibly win the race. I know that’s a very brave thing to say after the race but all you needed to do was look at the facts, Seabass finished third in 2012, a good run yes, but he just didn’t quite last home, the two that finished in front pulled away up the long run in whereas Seabass was somewhat one paced. Fast forward to this year’s race, and Seabass was expected to carry even more weight than last year, and against arguably against better opposition….and to top it off, Seabass didn’t even appear in the top 16 when I looked at the race trends, and of course if those once a year punters Doris, Daisy and Dotty had known that, then the pension money would have been invested elsewhere. As it happens, Seabass was sent off at ridiculous short odds of 11/2, 5 and a Half to One for those not up on the nuances of betting odds, and promptly finished an unlucky for many 13th, beaten some 86 lengths. Yes, I could have told you that before the race ……. If you’d only asked !!!!!

The Grand National meeting started on Thursday, and the scene was somewhat set when the days winners included a 100/1 shot, with the highlight of the first day being the Aintree Hurdle where some familiar animals were on show. The race was won by Zarkander, ridden by Ruby Walsh (he rode the finish like a Man …. Not a Girl !!!) who beat one of the Cheltenham winners, The New One by just half a length. The one thing I took from this race was the confirmation that The New One is a seriously good horse. Some have questioned if he was worried out of it when it mattered having just about hit the front just after the last hurdle, some questioned the ride given to the runner up by his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, however what I’ll say is that for a 5 year old, The New One is a horse I will follow all next season as he’ll improve again and despite the defeat on Thursday, he’s a proper battler. If this horse doesn’t win another very good prize next year I’d be amazed.

Friday was all about TWO horses, both MIGHTY in their very own way however they both gave stunning performances. Of course, My Tent or Yours, or ‘The Mighty Tent’ as he SHOULD be known gave a performance of brilliance by winning the Novice Hurdle although he didn’t beat an awful lot it proved that he is some machine…..The winner of the Champion Hurdle next year at the festival, oh I think so !!!! (that is unless Mr Henderson, Ap & JP decide he’s going chasing ….. Please don’t do it …. Save it until the year after …. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE … I have some money to recover !!!). Incidentally, The ‘Mighty’ Tent was the first of the ‘Famous Five’ Million Pound Punt selections to come out and win since Cheltenham.

The second horse was of course Sprinter Sacre. What can you say about this proper freak of equine nature….He is pure brilliance. He dispatched two very good animals in Cue Card & Flemenstar as if they weren’t even there. This is the first time he’s raced over 2m 4f over fences, some questioned whether he would be as good ….. Fools ….. if he had fingers, he’d be sticking two of them up at all the doubters as he was simply pure class. Now I need to boast about something else here…I said immediately after Sprinter Sacre won the Arkle at Cheltenham in 2012 that he struck me as a horse that would easily stay 3miles and further and that he should be aimed at the Gold Cup, and I’m telling you again, I’m right, without doubt I am right…This horse would, I am certain win the Gold Cup, and if Nicky Henderson came out and said he was being aimed for the ‘big one’ at next year’s Festival then without doubt he’d be around 6/4 at best in the betting. One comment sticks in my mind that his illustrious trainer came out with a couple of weeks ago when he announced he’d be stepping up in distance at Aintree. He said the only reason he’d not done it so far is because he’d be lapping all the other horses. Go on Nicky, be brave, aim him for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham next year, you know you want to, don’t wait until 2015, he might as well start winning them in 2014 as he’ll keep on winning them for the next five years he’s that good….plus I’ve had a couple of quid on at 28/1 !!!!

So, on to the big race on Saturday….and it was the first year that Channel Four have had the pleasure of broadcasting from Aintree. The BBC gave up the Horse Racing ghost last year, deciding that it wasn’t part of their ‘core sport offering’ … F*ck me Auntie, Fake Tanned C List celebs dancing on a Saturday night isn’t ‘core entertainment’ in my eyes but you still broadcast it. It’s a shame though that Big Mac was ditched by C4 at the end of last year as it would have been great entertainment seeing him surrounded by Tango looking Scouse Birds all bevvied up on Blue Nun whilst the local Scallies relieved him of his gold bracelets and rings (am I stereotyping ????). The advert for the National that had been aired for a couple of weeks prior to the race was very entertaining….horses running through the streets and back gardens of Liverpool was very impressive (makes a change from the ‘Huyton Youth’ running through the streets and back gardens from the Old Bill after nicking garden tools for their scrap metal ….. am I stereotyping again ?) The finest part of the trailer however, was the scene with the horses jumping over parked cars in a Liverpool street … this however was obviously not in Liverpool though, we’ve been ‘hoodwinked’ by the makers of this fine piece of visual trickery. How do I know this ??? … Look at the cars that the horses jump, they have wheels on and are not standing on bricks, so they’re quite obviously not in the streets of Merseyside !!! (Calm Down, Calm Down …. I just had to do it, I’m only joking !!!)

My selections then, Rare Bob was the main one, and Oscar Time was the second. And the result, Rare Bob finished 5th …. Oscar Time came 4th.  I’m taking that as a moral victory, in fact, scrap that, it was a victory…. If you backed them both each way with the right bookie who paid out on the first five places then you’d be quids in. I’m not going to declare I’m now a champion tipster, ‘cos I’m not, however I know one or two people that, for some strange reason, followed my two selections and made a bob or two, if you did, happy days and well done …. But whatever you do, don’t expect it to happen again in a hurry !!!

I had a short list of 16 horses before the race….Ok, I know, 16 is not a SHORT LIST, and as it was such a big list (these were all picked on trends alone) I only went with the two at the top of the list,Rare Bob and Oscar Time, the others I left alone as even I wouldn’t back 16 horse s in one race (honest, I wouldn’t !!!) After the race I looked at my ‘not so’ Short List, and the first six home were all on that list….and as it was pointed out to me, maybe I should have backed all 16 as I would have bagged the winner at 66/1 !

On to the race winner then, Auroras Encore, trained by Sue Smith, wife of the ‘oh so happy’ former top show jumper Harvey Smith. To be honest, for any students of form, you’d have put a line through this one pretty early. Ok, he was 2nd in last year’s Scottish Grand National, but apart from that he’d done sweet bugger all since. He wasn’t the best jumper by any means in the race and was being ridden by a Jockey who’d never had a ride in the Grand National before …. However despite all of that, he was still a reasonably ‘trendy horse’ for the race…..and of course he hosed up by 9 lengths, and did it impressively too.  You have to mention what a perfect ride Auroras Encores pilot for the day gave the horse, Ryan Mania is not one of the leading lights in the world of jump jockeys, the most winners he’s ever ridden in a season is 31 and a couple of years ago he packed the game in because he was frustrated at the lack of opportunities he had due to all the abandoned meetings thanks to the fine British weather. For a jockey, if you’re not race riding, you’re not earning a living. You have to take your hat off to the boy, he got back in the saddle and was rewarded on Saturday with the biggest day of his riding career to date, forget Beatle-Mania in Liverpool last Saturday, for those who backed the winner, it was a real case of Ryan-Mania !!!

With the highs of horse racing, you will, of course, get the lows, and not 24 hours after tasting victory in the world’s biggest horse race, the Grand National winning jockey was being flown to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle from Hexham Racecourse in the back of an Air Ambulance after being unseated and trampled on by his mount. Thankfully, what looked a very nasty incident, and with memories of recent tragic incidents at Cheltenham still fresh in many people’s minds, it would appear the injuries are not as bad as first thought and Ryan Mania could be back in the saddle riding sooner that we all expected…and good luck to him as that is certainly 24 hours he’ll never forget !

One other thing from the Grand National, only two horses fell in the race, no horse died in the race, and all jockeys returned in one piece (on Saturday anyway !) …. That’s a bonus after what happened over the last couple of years. I don’t want to be controversial, it not my style (?!?!) however I think the race has just slightly lost that little edge of the ‘ultimate challenge’ for horse and jockey. I may be a lone voice in thinking that, then again I might not be, I don’t want to see horses injured or being killed in any race however maybe the ‘Grand’ is slowly being removed from the Grand National and it is very slowly becoming just another ‘big handicap’ race in the National Hunt calendar.

 

Right, that’s the Grand National done with for another year, where do we head next then in our pursuit of punting riches ….. Well, coming up we’ve got the Scottish National, the Punchestown Festival (Irelands Cheltenham … sort of !), The 1000 & 2000 Guineas at Newmarket (Flat Racing …. Yaaaawwwwwwn !), then we’re heading into the summer meetings, Epsom, Ascot etc etc, so there’s plenty to get stuck into …. I suppose I better get studying !!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog, the support and feedback, both good and bad is really appreciated …. I’ll update over the next couple of weeks, however feel free to leave a comment or let me know if you hit your own personal jackpot at Aintree.

Follow me on Twitter if you want – @grahameletts

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Calm Down, Calm Down ……… The Grand National Punt !

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So the dust has just about settled from the Cheltenham Festival, I’ve got one or two horses that are in my mind for next year already – obviously the ‘Mighty Tent’ has already had a shilling of my money invested for next years Champion Hurdle, probably foolishly, as it’s still 350 odd days away and so much can happen in that time, however sentiment got the better of me. The others on the ‘radar’ are African Gold for the RSA Chase (currently available at 16/1), Champagne Fever for the Arkle (6/1 at the moment) and possibly At Fishers Cross for the World Hurdle (around 7’s) …. That said, I’m not going to be playing on any of these until the next National Hunt season is in full swing in October / November time.

Attention in the Jumps version of the sport now firmly turns to Aintree and the Grand National meeting which starts in a week, with the highlight of the meeting obviously the big one on Saturday, The Grand National. Even if you have no interest in horse racing, you’d know about the Grand National as it’s as much of an institution in this country’s calendar as the FA Cup Final, Wimbledon and Eurovision. Most people’s first memory of a horse race is gathering around the TV with the rest of the family to watch the drama of this great race unfold, holding on to the scrap of paper you’d drawn out of the family sweepstake. My first memory of the race that I can recall was Rubstic’s victory in 1979, and I can also remember that the three horses I’d picked out were pretty useless (nothing changes !!!), however I’m sure that my brother had the winner and collected the pot of about 20p….jammy git !!!!

Since that race, I can recall every contest since, as I became fascinated with the spectacle of these horses trying to negotiate the giant obstacles in the hope that my selections made it safely over the 30 fences of the 4 and a bit mile circuit. The lack of success in picking the winner should have been a clear message to me that this game was not for me, however I loved the race and looked forward to it every year. It wasn’t until 1988 that I bagged my first winner … Rhyme ‘N’ Reason was the superstar in question and the 50p e/w that I placed the week before the race at 14/1 was a right result. I remember being away at a College Sports Tournament in Lancaster for the weekend, and refusing to play in a hockey match because I wanted to sit and listen to the race on my Walkman (proper technology …. how cool !) …. And as my team mates took another pasting on the pitch, I was jumping around like a lunatic on speed  (not the drug of choice for a student  in the late 80’s, however you didn’t tend to jump around much after smoking dried banana skins !) cheering on Rhyme ‘N’ Reason to victory and my very nice return of £9.75…a small fortune for a skint student at the time !

Having worked in the betting industry for a number of years during the 90’s, Grand National day was always a mixed day of fun & stress …. The one day during the year when we opened up early, the one day when the shop was full literally from 9am until the race was under way, and the one day a less than orderly queue would form at the payout  the minute the result was in which stretched out of the shop door. It was funny watching all these once a year punters all lined up waiting to collect their winnings when we’d got about 6000 betting slips to try and settle.

National day did have its unexpected challenges though…The very first one I worked as a manager was in 1992. I’d set the shop up nice and neatly, copies of the Sporting Life adorning the walls, plenty of pens and blank betting slips for the once a year punters to throw around the shop floor. For a ‘back street’ bookies, it was looking fit for the day ahead. Next step was to flick the switch so that the screens with all the live info would be beamed into the shop….the switch was switched…..and the screens remained blank ….Fantastic, my first ever Grand National day running a betting shop and we had no screens, nothing at all to enlighten the masses as to the latest special offers (aka Mugs Bets !) The wonderful SIS engineers were called and we found out that the satellite dish had been interfered with, in fact the satellite dish had been positively demolished to the extent that instead of facing Aintree and receiving live pictures from the ‘Scouse Satellite’ , we were pointing more in the direction of Bangkok and were more likely to receive pictures of Naked Hermaphrodite Dwarf Jockeys firing Ping Pong balls out of various orifice. Although the regular clientele would more likely have enjoyed this show a little more than the usual Four Mile marathon around Aintree, the once a year punters may have found it a bit of a turn off ! The engineers did the job and fixed the dish, only for the micro film camera, that was used to take security copies of every bet we took , to break down about an hour before the race was due off, another emergency call, and another visit from the resident ‘camera mending man’ and we were finally sorted….of all days for things to go wrong, it had to happen on my first ever National Day in the bookies.

Over the next few years we had further fun and excitement to contend with, The National that never was in 1993 (my 2nd ever National running a shop) was a f*cking nightmare to put it mildly. How that ever happened I will never know, however what I do know is that we were still in the shop at about 9pm at night, settling bets and trying to get the tills to balance, whilst getting stuck into a case of Fosters. My other abiding memory of that day / night / following morning was being woken up by the cleaner in the toilets of the pub where we’d had our Grand National works p*ss up that night, as getting hammered whilst being on some mega strong pain killers and anti inflammatory tablets  which had been prescribed after a football injury a week before, which had DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL WHILST TAKING THESE TABLETS clearly marked on the bottle, resulted in me passing  out for about 6 hours whilst sitting on the throne !

1997 saw the ‘bomb threat national’, which resulted in the race not being run until the Monday …. Again, this caused major carnage within the betting shops. The punters wanted refunds, Then they didn’t want refunds, they wanted to change their selections, then they wanted to keep their selections….It was another nightmare, especially as sandwiched in between the Saturday and the Monday was a trip to Wembley to watch the mighty Leicester City in the League Cup (Coca Cola Heinz Baked Beans Milky Way Irn Bru Cup or whatever it was called at the time), which of course resulted in large amounts of alcohol being consumed, meaning the last thing I wanted on the Monday was another day of once a year vacant punters winding me up.

Nevertheless, these were all challenges at the time, but are now part of my very own bit of Grand National history, and in the years since Rhyme ‘N’ Reason gave me my very first National success as a punter, I’ve managed to land the winner of the race with Earth Summit in ’98, Numbersixvalverde in ’06 and the real icing on the Grand National cake was Mon Mome at 100/1 in 2009. In the last two years though it’s been a real case of second-itis …. 2011 saw Oscar Time outstayed by Ballabriggs and last year Sunnyhillboy got well and truly chinned right on the line by Neptune Collonges. Every time I watch a repeat of last years race I refuse to believe that my selection got beat, my horse was in front and without doubt the winner every inch of the run in apart from on the winning line (according to the judge – who I think was a relation of Stevie F*cking Wonder !)

When it comes to making my Grand National selection, I use the trends to try and come up with the successful horse, over the years the relevant trends have changed, in the late 80’s you had to make sure your selection wore a nice Fila Tracky top and a pair of Farahs, in the 90’s it was essential your horse dressed a little smarter, designer nags were the horses of choice so an Armani Noseband, Stone Island Saddle and Calvin Klein Horse Boxes were the order of the day. Into the 00’s and it was a bit of a free for all…..trends were all over the place however as long as your selection wasn’t a fatty that had to carry above 11stone come race day then all was good !

Seriously though, I chucked the form book almost out the window and now I just go on the ‘Trend Horses’ alone. With my recent success (and near misses) already listed this has been a source of reasonable success, especially with a 100/1 winner in Mon Mome a couple of years back topping up the coffers. It might not be a fool-proof, bomb-proof and any other proof you care to mention method, last years winner, Neptune Collonges, stuck two hooves up to just about every viable race trend going, however the real winner that finished second, Sunnyhillboy, was just about top of every trend for the likely winner of the race that was around. For me, the key criteria for any selection to hit are as follows –

Aged between 8 & 12, Run at least 10 times over fences (not hurdles), officially rated between 136 & 147, carrying 11st 5lb or less, won  a chase over 3m or more, last ran between 20 – 40 days, run between 4 – 6 times since August the previous year, only won a maximum of once that season, won a class 1 chase, run over the national fences at Aintree before and finally had been place in one of the nationals (Aintree, Irish, Welsh, Scottish or Midland) …. So not many trends to sift through !!!!

Luckily, I managed to sit down and go through every single one of the above for every single remaining entry last weekend. I have my eldest daughter to thank for this free time as I was sat waiting to become a Grandad for the very first time, and as every other member in my family was in a state of panic, I was cooly choosing this years Grand National winner (that is factually a lie …. I was sh*tting myself for the best part of 24 hours until ‘Grandpoppas Little Sossidge’ was born !!!) ….. The result of all this studying was as follows …..

The 2013 Grand National Winner is ……

RARE BOB

The 2nd Horse Will Be …..

OSCAR TIME

Select any of the following to fill the places …..

QUINZ, CHICAGO GREY, SWING B ILL, BALLABRIGGS

As for the rest of the runners …. Forget them, they will be ‘also rans’ !!!!

Now I’ve got to admit, this is not an exact science for selecting the winner of the years biggest race for ‘Joe Public’ however it’s as good as it gets when it comes to me selecting the winner. I managed to back Rare Bob on Betfair, once I’d settled on him as the winner, at odds 38 and 37/1 … then again at 33/1, however at the moment he is best price 28/1 with William Hills (25/1 everywhere else)….and if you want to back the 2nd selected horse, open an account with Batfair as Oscar Time trading at around 170/1 … and well over 20/1 just to be placed …. As opposed to around just 50/1 with the High Street bookie chaps.

We’re not going to win a million on the Grand National I’m afraid, but I’m seriously hoping that either RARE BOB or OSCAR TIME will prove to be proper ‘Trendy Horses’ come this time next week and will be added to my own Grand National history , joining Rhyme ‘N’ Reason, Earth Summit, Numbersixvalverde & Mon Mome as ‘my winners’ of the nations biggest race.  If they don’t, well whilst I was making my selection I emerged as the biggest winner in the world as I became a Grandad….No, scrap that, it’s Grandpoppa,  for the very first time, to a yet unnamed (and unraced) grandson who is very much the ‘apple’ of hiss Grandpoppa’s eye…..maybe he shouldn’t be named until after next weeks race as I reckon either BOB or OSCAR would be perfect !!!!

Good Luck with whatever you back in the Grand National …. As always, win or lose, as long as all the horses and jockeys return safe and sound then that is all that matters.

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for the next update

 

Follow me on Twitter if you want – @grahameletts

For more Grand National or General Horse Racing / Betting Chat, check out the following on Twitter –

@JSGrandNational

@HORSERACINGGB

@GrandNationalGB

@JPFestival

@MarketMoveTips

@CheltenhamFNews

@Cathrynfry

And for the very best in racing updates and chat, including quality analysis and blogs check out the following –

http://www.JP festival.com

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The Million Pound Punt … Cheltenham 2013 ……. THE POST MORTEM !!!!

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Wow … What a week that was …. In fact, it’s not just a week, what a last 12 months that’s been, because that’s when the Festival starts – As soon as the last one finishes !

Now it has to be said that there has obviously been a lack of entries on the blog over the last week or so, in fact this is the very first one since the action got under way. This is nothing to do with the lack of success (or otherwise) of my punting exploits during the festival, it is solely down to the fact that internet connection, in fact the majority of the time, mobile connection, has not quite made its way to the Cotswalds. The base for our week, in Bourton on The Water, is like the time that land forgot in terms of technology, however I hope it stays that way, as it’s always a delight to have none of the latest technology at your fingertips. Cheltenham is not much better, and try and get a signal at the racecourse during the festival and you’ve backed your first loser !

So let’s start ….. and where better place to begin than with the exploits of the Famous Five … Read On …

The Famous Five

So, how did the trusty five get one …. Well, we know that five became four due to Empiracle breaking a toe nail (or whatever it was) the weekend before the festival, so the fate of the fortunes were in the hands, no sorry, hooves, of the Fabulous Four.

First to appear was my very own personal favorite horse, My Tent or Yours. The ‘Mighty’ Tent as he’s come to be known was the starting point to my riches and I was becoming more and more confident of success. I was boring everyone stupid with my support and horsey love for this soon to be legend of an equine specimen. Come 1.30pm, and I had no doubt that the ‘Mighty Tent’ would be lining up to produce a performance of gee gee glory ! And so it did …… I tell you it definitely did …… I won’t hear anything different, the ‘Mighty Tent’ produced something that was amazing, brilliant, out of this world…just he finished second. Let’s get this right, Tuesday 12th March will go down in history as a day when it was officially ‘F*cking Freezing’, not just cold, oh no … not even chilly, oh no …. It was absolutely BALTIC !!! Had I been asked to perform in such ‘Arctic’ conditions then I would not have been able to come up with any sort of performance (this is sounding slightly rude … I’m talking athletic performance … that still sounds on the fruity side !) The ‘Mighty Tent’ got turned over by a specimen called Champagne Fever who was well ridden out in front all the way by Ruby Walsh. BUGGER !!!! The number one selection, the one to kick it all off had got turned over …. What did this mean ????? This meant no massive big payout, however all was not lost, this is a Snickers, Not a sprint !

Next up, enter the theatre one Fruity O’Rooney. Fruity was looking good, but this was one hell of a hot race. There was money coming in for several of the fancied horses in the race and Fruity was somewhat on the drift in betting market. The result …. Well, Fruity was up there for pretty much the whole race however it was clear from two fences out that he was never going to win. Fruity tried his massive heart out and ran on again towards the end to finish fifth. There’s not much more I can say really, he was up for the fight, but on the day, just not good enough. Fruity will win a race sooner rather than later before he gets to old, he’s too good not to, however on this occasion it was just not his day … but that day will come.

Shortly after Fruity came the big race of the first day and this was the chance for Binocular to show his true from and put all the others to the sword. The Champion Hurdle was a fascinating race, however not for Binocular, who never got into the action …. In fact all Binocular saw for the whole 2 miles was other horses backsides. I have to concede that he was just not good enough, in fact I’m afraid I think he’s well past his best and that there may not  be too many places for him to go now in terms of the big races. Of all the runners on day one, I got this one seriously wrong.

So after day one, I’d had three of the  Million Pound Punt horses run … I’d managed a 2nd, 5th and a distant 5th … and in effect the Million Pound dream (even the discounted version) was dead and buried !!! …… Oh well, not to worry this is the festival, it’s not all about the winners …. There was a town full of Guinness to get stuck into …. Time to drown the sorrows !!! (more on that later…..)

Empiracle had ducked out of the challenge in the Bumper on Wednesday so it was fast forward to Thursday and time to watch Get Me Out Of Here romp home in the World Hurdle. What a brilliant selection this would turn out to be…without doubt I knew I’d saved the best ‘til last. After a week of worrying, the ground had come right for him, perfect, what could go wrong, this was the time I’d show everybody that I know what I’m on about when it comes to horses…. And so it proved….well in fact it proved one thing, I know f*ck all about horses as Get Me Out Of Here briefly threatened to look like a racehorse for all of about 15 seconds before fading completely out of the race and being pulled up before jumping the last flight. Perfect … who said save the best ‘til last … I managed to save the worst !!!

And that was it …. The Million Pound Punt horses were not quite what I had in mind when I decided they would carry my hard earned cash …. However alls fair in love and gambling, at least someone else would have backed the winners in the races my horses ran in, so I’m sure somewhere in the world some lucky f*cker is sitting in wads of cash….am I bitter, nah not at all …. Lucky b*stards !!!

 

My Punting Week …. The Famous Five Aside

I’ll keep this brief as to be honest, I don’t want to bore you with all the blood and guts of every race. That said, day one was sh*t …… If it hadn’t been for the decision to back the Festival Standing Dish – Quevega  – who has won at the previous four festival (now five !) then it would have been a complete wipeout. Even this amazing animal made us suffer, I glanced around at one of my fellow racing party (who also backed her) three flights from home and pulled that face that says ‘F*ck … We’re in trouble here !’ …. The result however was never in doubt and at least we managed a bit of a return from our first days gambling.

Day two – and I could have packed up and gone home after the first race. I’d backed a horse called Rival D’Estruval in the first, and as this mighty beast from the North pulled clear with a another horse, Tofino B ay, I thought that a return was in the bag …. And then the horse that carried my hard earned pounds decided to fall …. Thanks a million …. In fact not quite a million, but thanks anyway. The one crumb of consolation was that as my horse fell, the group to our right were cheering the demise of Rival D’Estruval as they were on the ‘other’ one, Tofino Bay. As I’d said in a previous post, you don’t cheer a horse when it falls, it’s bad taste, it’s not what the sport is all about, horses can die when they fall so to cheer one that tips over is not big and it’s not clever….and so Karma comes into play. Those who cheered when my horse fell thought they were on a winner, only for Tofino Bay to get ‘chinned’ on the line by the favorite. Unlucky …. But let that be a lesson to you !!! The highlight of the afternoon though was a winner …yes a real winner, that I backed at 4/1. This horse, called The New One, was actually the first horse I’d backed for a race at this years Cheltenham Festival however it just happened to be the wrong race, therefore I had to make do with a little investment on the day which brought a very welcome winner…..and that was about as good as it got on Wednesday.

Thursday – and St Paddy’s day started with me auditioning for a part in the next Ladbrokes commercial  …. I just couldn’t resist moving in on the the un-assuming Chris Kamara in the Guinness Village and shouting “Kammy, No …. Football is On” ….. A winning audition if ever there was one ! As the for the days punting …. It started with me declaring the following to one of my racing colleagues “According to Trev & Captain Sunshine in the first, Champion Court in the second, Both of Venetia Williams horses in the Byrne Group Plate, and then Galaxy Rock & No Secrets” … They were my bets for the afternoon …. And the results were as follows – According To Trev (Unplaced), Captain Sunshine (2nd), Champion Court (Unplaced) Both of Venetia Williams Horses in the Byrne Group Plate – Kappa Du Cerisy (Unplaced), Carrickboy (WON AT 50/1), Galaxy Rock (Fell at the 1st), No Secrets (unplaced). Did you see that, eh eh, did you see that, come one look…look what it says …. Carrickboy WON AT 50/1 ! Now it doesn’t take a lot for your fortunes to change in the world of horse racing, and a 50/1 winner usually does the trick…unfortunately, it was probably my smallest bet of the week so didn’t cover all my previous poor investments and also the investments made in the local licensed premises over the previous couple of days, however a 50/1 winner is always welcome and Carrickboy was duly shouted home from my vantage position on top of Pippa Middleton (not literally…she was in a posh peoples box below where I was !) …. And so ended the punting on Thursday.

Friday arrived, and Gold Cup day.  As is usual with Cheltenham, the final day is usually the day I’ve done the least amount of ‘studying’ for…in fact I’d done pretty much bugger all for this years races on the final day. All I knew is that in all likelihood I’d have a small bet on Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup and then play the rest by ear …. And as usual when I use the power of guesswork, it paid off. Ted Veale obliged in the second race at 10/1, Bobs Worth did the business in the big race at 11/4 and to round it off, Salubrious won at 16/1 …. That was more like it ….and a quick total up of the funds at the end of the day meant that it would be dinner in the ‘Posh’ eatery in Bourton on the Water on Friday night and not left over curry from the night before !

So over the whole four days, there had been 27 Races and I’d managed to back the winners of 6 of them … that’s a 22.22% strike rate …. I’m amazing …. Or not as the case may be. Most people would be happy with 6 winners, especially with a nice 50/1 shot and also a 16/1 shot in there and had my bets all been to level stakes then I’d have shown a handsome profit for my investments. Of course, my main selections were the Famous Five (or Fabulous Four) who all showed varying degrees of ability which resulted in abject failure when it came to the Million Pound Punt. Take the Million Pound Punt out of the weeks gambling equation and it finished a half decent week. So I’m taking the positives out of the weeks punting …. What started off as I nightmare, actually didn’t finish that bad ….. as I said, at the Festival, it’s a Marathon, not a Sprint !

Of the other bets I put on before the Festival started, I had an amazing number of non-runners….i’d suggested one or two last minute selections of which the majority either didn’t run at all or ran in other races…these were mostly non runner – no bet (means you get your dosh back if they don’t run) so there was no great damage done there either.

So what else happened at the Festival ……..

F … Ff…..Fffff……Fffffffffff*cking Freezing ……. And Ffffffff*cking Yorkshiremen !!!!!

Ask me a simple question ….. Grahame – What is the coldest you have ever been on a racecourse ?

I would answer, without doubt, Tuesday March 12th 2013 …… It was absolutely bloomin’ BALTIC !!! Ask anyone who was there, if they tell you it wasn’t cold in Cheltenham last Tuesday, they are a bloody liar. The spring wardrobe which had been carefully put together over the months to reflect the latest high fashion cuts and tailoring had been cast aside to be replaced by anything I could find to keep me warm. The wind was simply evil, it cut right through you and how none of us died through hypothermia I will never know. We arrived in Cheltenham at 09:30 on Tuesday morning, with the knowledge that there was a danger the days racing may not take place as the course was still frozen in some areas, and with temperatures struggling to break freezing then it was looking a little iffy to say the least. I was warmed by the thought that we may end up stuck in a pub all day sinking many a pint of Guinness, away from the cold wind (this really appealed after I was ‘forced’ to stay up drinking until 03:30am that morning anyway). The news filtered through though that racing was on although a later start time of 2:00pm was announced – this 30 minute delay was the contributing factor in the ‘Mighty Tent’ being defeated. You see it was such a perfect training performance by Nicky Henderson that he was primed to peak in terms of fitness at exactly 1.30pm on Tuesday March 12th … the extra 30 minutes meant he was half an hour past his best …. Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it !!!

The walk from our early morning drinking hole up to the course was more like the walk of the penguins…in fact penguins and polar bears would have died of frost bite on that walk up the hill to the course …. Seriously, it was Ffffffffffff*cking Frrrrrreeeezzzziiiiing, even with a gallon of Guinness inside from our pre-racing drink. There was a wind blowing in from Iceland or somewhere of a similar cold climate (in fact scrub that …. Cheltenham is way too posh to do Iceland, it would be more like a chill blowing in from the M&S Freezer Section !) The wind cut across every bloody road on that walk up to the course, and on arrival at the course continued to freeze the living sh*t out of everybody who’d come to watch the polar bear, I mean horse racing !

Yep, Tuesday March 12th will for me go down as THE coldest day ever on a racecourse.

Now drinking is very much a festival custom, and it has to be said that one or two of the participants in the Cheltenham Festival Festivities over indulge slightly …. Slightly being a bit of an understatement ! Our ‘racing party’ on the other hand, I like to think, are a little more sensible. I’m pretty sure this must come with age, we used to get a little silly in our younger days … we’re all old enough to know better now, so we do everything in moderation, however my interpretation of moderation may not be the same as that which appears in the dictionary. In brief it went a little like this –

Arrive in Bourton on the Water on Monday night – 4 Pints each, then a couple of nightcaps – Sleep at 03:30am …… Arrive into Cheltenham on Tuesday Morning at 09:30 – 5 or 6 pints before racing, 5 or 6 pints during racing, Champagne in the ‘Swingers Hotel’ on the way back in to Cheltenham, 3 or 4 more pints in Cheltenham, then we headed up to Montpellier (even ‘posher’ area of Cheltenham) for the recovery drink of choice – Vodka & Orange – because vitamin C is good for you, and continued to drink the said recovery drink of choice in such wonderful accommodating venues as All Bar One, The Queens Hotel and some random underground bar who’s name escapes me … the estimate is that around 10 – 15 recovery drinks of choice were consumed. I wonder if we exceed our recommended daily allowance on that first day ???

This was to be repeated over the next couple of days, and I completely agree, it’s not big and it’s not clever to drink so much …. Especially as nearly a week later the hangover is just kicking in !

Now there is one down side to drinking this much alcohol… it can cause you to have momentary loss of your sense of logic, especially the logic behind your betting … and this happened to all of us on the Tuesday night courtesy of a merry band of Ffffffff*cking Yorkshiremen !

It was in the Swingers Hotel where we were happily sipping Champagne to celebrate our first day losses when we engaged in conversation with this band of Yorkshiremen. I find it does help massively if you are slightly under the influence of alcohol when talking to anyone from the North, as it does help you understand their delightfully delicate dialect however this was one occasion when I really wish I hadn’t understood  a single word any of these inhabitants of Emmerdale had said. Everybody tends to be every ones friend at the festival and we were happily chatting away to our new friends from ‘tut narth’ when they happened to slip in the fact that they’d been to watch the horses workout that morning up at the course, on closer quizzing of Compo and pals they declared a couple of gems of information that could only result in wealth for anyone who would listen. First of all they told us they’d been speaking to Mouse Morris, an Irish trainer, who told them that a horse called Rule The World was THE best horse he’d ever trained. Now one thing here is that I’d already had a small amount on Rule The World in a couple of my ante post bets, and so had a couple of my racing colleagues, although I had my eye on another horse in the race which was the second race on the card the next day, however this admission of the trainers confidence certainly made us sit up and listen even more. The next comment had us all literally marching out of the Swingers hotel en masse heading toward the nearest bookies…the little gem of info was that Paul Nicholls (top trainer for those who don’t know – Kauto Star etc) wouldn’t hear of defeat for a horse called Saphir Du Rheu, he had personally told our boys from the White Rose County that this was his best chance of a winner all week and simply that defeat was out of the question…you usually have to pay for info like that but these lovely chaps had been given this top notch information for nothing and they were kind enough to share this detail with us….we couldn’t quite believe our luck, we had a winner before it had even run and those bookie chaps wouldn’t know what had hit them when we got stuck into this little superstar. We quickly finished off the shampoo and away we went to invest in this ‘dead cert’ which was due to run in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at 4.40 on Wednesday. We all lined up at the counter, smiling like Cheshire, no Yorkshire Cats (do they exist ?) and snapped up all the 7/1 that the kind lady at William Hills would let us have. That’s it … Simple, we couldn’t wait to pop back the next day to collect our winnings once this good thing had romped home, after all, these boys from Yorkshire had given us some proper genuine information, direct from the trainer, and a good trainer at that.

It took just 4 minutes and 1 second for the race to be over, and oh how we celebrated ……. Yes, we celebrated that fact that this superstar of the Paul Nicholls stable trailed in 20th out of 24. He was only beaten 55 lengths by the winner, a 25/1 shot called Flaxen Flare !!! What made the defeat of this ‘wonder horse’ even harder to swallow was that the trainer had two other horses in the race, potential no hopers called Caid Du Berlais and Ptit Zig who were sent off at odds of 20/1 & 22/1 respectively, and they finished 2nd and 3rd … oh what joy, how funny, we did laugh ….. NOT !

Let’s get this straight, we only have ourselves to blame, we all should know better than to take a drunken tip from f*cking Arthur Scargill and his merry mining men….I have nowt against these chaps, I’m sure they passed on this ‘top notch’ info with the best of intentions, but ‘By Eck’ & ‘Eeh Bah Gum’ next time we’ll all abstain from drinking that much that it means we can actually understand what these northerners are saying, it’s better for the pocket when you haven’t got a friggin’ clue what they’re on about !!!!!

As always, our festival was a laugh a minute … it doesn’t really matter if we win or lose (just as well really)  we always have a great time, simply because it’s ‘The Festival’ ….. Sub Zero Temperatures, Slow Horses & Dodgy Tips will never stop us having a good time. There are very few bad things about the Festival (apart from the gut wrenching injury to amateur jockey John Thomas McNamara – get well soon JT…for the record he took a fall from a horse I backed, Galaxy Rock,  so I feel partly responsible as my bad form probably rubbed off on him !)…..the other bad thing is we have to wait another year for the next one, however this may not be a bad thing as it might take 12 months for my liver to repair itself and for my betting fund to also look a little healthier.

My quest to pull off a million pound punt isn’t over and I’ll do it one day…..So the blog will continue. If you’ve enjoyed it, pop back from time to time to check out the updates, they may be few and far between, however I’ll share my story on my quest to relieve those nice bookie chaps of a few quid.

For the record, tonight I’ve placed my very first bet for the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 ………. I bet you can’t guess which horse I’ve steamed into to win the Champion Hurdle in 2014 …. A clue, it’s a ‘Mighty Horse ‘ !!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading …. And a word of warning for anyone who ever travels between Cheltenham and Bourton on the Water …. Watch out for vicious cats that masquerade as foxes !!!!!!!!

 

Twitter – @grahameletts

 

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Freezing The Way To A Fortune ……… It’s Cheltenham Eve !!!

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This will be the shortest & sweetest post yet ….

It’s Cheltenham Eve boys and girls, so make sure you are all tucked up in bed early tonight ….. In fact, scrap that, you’ll not be able to sleep anyway with the excitement.

The day is nearly here, so as we all put the finishing touches to our pre-Cheltenham selections remember one thing …….. Losing is not an option, So pick the Winners !!!!

The fabulous four are all primed and ready to deliver the goods over the next few days (well maybe, if they develop the hardy characteristics of a polar bear !) … so all there is left to do is shout the equine heroes up the Cheltenham hill.

Kicking us off tomorrow is my personal favourite, My Tent or Yours (or ‘The Mighty Tent’) and IF he wins, wherever you are in the world (do you know people from The Dominican Republic – I know who you are !!! – The US, Turkey – I know who you are too !!!, Austria & France to name but a few countries have read the blog) you will all hear my shouting, screaming and cheering as hopefully AP boots the beautiful beast up the hill to glory in the very first race.

If you’ve invested, whether it be on the Million Pound Punt Selections (Discounted by 90%), or on your own selections, I wish you the best of luck as we enter battle with those bookie chaps.

Remember, at the end of the day, this is a sport….and at the centre of the sport are these wonderful animals who run for our pleasure, and if your horse loses, don’t curse it, don’t call it names, don’t wish it any harm…they are animals and as long as they all come home safe and sound that’s all that matters…if we win a couple of shillings on the back of them, then that’s just a bonus !!

As I pack my thermals and head off to the ‘Battle Bunker In Bourton’ which will be home for the next few days, I’ll give you a full run down of the selections which may or may not prove to be profitable – there will be others backed on the day but at the moment I haven’t got a clue what they’ll be, so here goes –

The Fabulous Four

My Tent Or Yours – Supreme Novice Hurdle

Fruity O’Rooney – Festival Handicap Chase

Binocular – Champion Hurdle

Get Me Out Of Here – World Hurdle

Already Mentioned

Jezki @ 4/1 – Supreme Novices Hurdle

Overturn @ 8/1 & 7/1 – Arkle

Cinders & Ashes @ 16/1 – Champion Hurdle

Vesper Bell @ 16/1 & 14/1 – National Hunt Chase

Rule The World @ 11/1 – Neptune Novices Hurdle

Edeymi @ 16/1 – Coral Cup

Module @ 14/1 – Jewson Novices Chase

Hidden Justice @ 25/1 – Triumph Hurdle

Ballycasey @ 5/1 – Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

The Losers Before I Even Get To Cheltnham

The New One – Backed for the wrong race

Empiracle (the tears are rolling down my face !!!) – Poorly

Flemenstar – Also poorly

Taquin Du Seuil – Backed for the wrong race

New Selections To Waste Your Money On

Chartreux – 25/1 EW in the Festival Handicap Chase

Hawkes Point – 16/1 EW in the National Hunt Chase

La Vent Dantan – 7/1 …. Instead of the poorly Empiracle in the Bumper

Riverside Theatre – 7/1 – Ryanair Chase

Frisco Depot – 16/1 EW – Kim Muir

Diakali – 14/1 EW – Triumph Hurdle

Discoteca – 25/1 EW – County Hurdle

Edmund Kean – 16/1 EW – Conditional Jockeys Hurdle

Majala – 16/1 E/W – Grand Annual ….. this is the last race of the festival, so if all else have failed during the previous 26 races ….. Lump On and Cross Your Fingers !!!

 

So That’s it …. We’re all one our jolly journey to the Cotswold’s for the next 4 days …. If you’re going, I might see you there, if you’re not, enjoy it on the telly. I’ll try and update my fortunes over the next four days however the t’interweb connections in that neck of the woods are not great, so if anyone can point me in the direction of an internet café or something similar that would be great.

Enjoy the racing …… and Thanks again for reading !!!

 

Twitter – @grahameletts

 

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