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 !!