Well, two days down and we’ve hit the post on both days with our Placepot selections. On Day 1 we were out of the running after the first race but our selections made the frame in each of the subsequent five races, while Day 2 saw us again hit the mark in five races and Cockney Trucker – the 66/1 shot run out of fourth by a neck in the Coral Cup – coming close to nailing us a share of the pot.
We took on some of the shorter priced favourites on the day but with only Grands Crus finishing out of the frame the dividend was less than €100 for the second day running so we won’t shed too may tears at missing out. Instead, we’ll turn to Thursday’s card with renewed hope – and with three big handicaps in the six Placepot races, there is every chance of a typically hefty Cheltenham dividend today.
The day kicks off with the Jewson Chase, a race which would appear to revolve around Peddlers Cross. The only horse who has given Sprinter Sacre, Tuesday’s scintillating Arkle hero, a race this season, Peddlers Cross swerved a rematch with that rival in favour of the easier task of the Jewson. He won the Neptune Novices Hurdle at this meeting two years ago and chased home Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle last year, so he’s much the best horse in the race and trainer Donald McCain’s team is flying, with Cinders and Ashes and Son of Flicka already winners at Cheltenham this week.
The vibes have not been great about Peddlers Cross, however, and we’ll reluctantly leave him be and instead bring For Non Stop on our side. He’ll like the good ground, won a Grade 1 last time out and has a good record at Cheltenham, including last year’s Coral Cup when he looked like being a clear second to the well-handicapped Carlito Brigante but for making an exit at the last.
Into Race 2, the 24-runner Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle over three miles. We’ll go for two here in the shape of Buena Vista, who is aiming for an amazing third straight win in this handicap hurdle. David Pipe’s horse is at the veteran stage now but he invariably runs to form around here and a place in the first four is well within his remit. We’ll also side with Bellflower Boy right down the bottom, who’s on the upgrade this season and with talented jockey Jack Quinlan taking off five pounds he runs off a featherweight.
The Ryanair Chase is up next and while it looks very competitive there are question marks over a few of them. Riverside Theatre represents the all-conquering Nicky Henderson stable but there’s a suspicion he may not be as good on a track like Cheltenham while the Irish pair Noble Prince and Rubi Light have concerns over form and ground conditions respectively. So we’ll go for the ones who look the safest bets: Somersby, who stayed on well to beat subsequent Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow last time, and Medermit, who was our ante-post fancy a while back.
To keep stakes at an affordable level – we have to keep some cash in the wallet for the longest weekend of the year, after all, with the Gold Cup on the Friday, St Patrick’s Day on Saturday and a Bank Holiday on Monday – we’ll pick just one in the World Hurdle. Big Buck’s is the hot favourite and it’s impossible to see him finishing out of the first three so he’s Placepot banker material.
The Placepot finishes with two ball-achingly – we can say stuff like that, we’re a men’s website – tough handicaps, the Byrne Group Plate and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase (for amateur riders).
We’ll have to have three selections in the first of those as this is a race that often causes a shock and contributes to handsome Placepot pay-outs. Six of the eight placed horses over the past two years have been priced 18/1 or bigger, so we’ll go with Notus De La Tour, who has been running in better races than this, lively outsider Fine Parchment and the consistent The Cockney Mackem.
Into the last and for some reason Start Me Up, the Rolling Stones song, has been in our heads all morning, so that’s good enough reason to select him. The owner/trainer/jockey combination of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House stud, Charlie Swan and Nina Carberry offers three more compelling reasons. And Your Busy, who had a sighter of the Cheltenham fences when finishing second in a novice chase earlier in the season, completes the set.
So that’s our lot. It comes to 24 units, or a total outlay of €24 for a €1 stake, but if that’s too much to invest you can always choose a 50c stake, in which case the bet will cost €12.
Besta luck everyone, and don't forget if you're stuck in work, and even if you're not, you can follow all the latest from Cheltenham with our sneaky live blog with Sean Nolan from 12 noon.
Cheltenham, Day 3: JOE’s Tote Placepot selections:
Race 1: 5
Race 2: 13, 24
Race 3: 7, 13
Race 4: 1
Race 5: 6, 16, 21
Race 6: 10, 11
Total: 24 units (Cost: €24 to €1 stake, or €12 to 50c stake)
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