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day 1 cheltenham my bets - tuesday 12th march


This is one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the year and this year we have a runner with a rating that is already 11 pounds higher than that achieved by the winner last year, so we are looking at a top class renewal of the event.

There are some significant statistics to consider. Firstly, 14 of the last 16 winners won last time out, secondly 9 of the last 11 winners had never finished out of the first 3 when completing over hurdles and thirdly five and six year olds have won all bar 2 of the renewals this century. It is also important to note that 9 of the last 11 winners had run in the last 40 days as you do not want your horse to run too fresh in a race like this. Another statistic that may prove valuable is that the last five British winners of this race had raced at least four times over hurdles.

MY TENT OR YOURS sets the standard and could prove hard to beat. He looked good on his debut over hurdles, comfortably defeating Taquin du Seuil, who went on to easily win the Grade one Challow Hurdle. He then ran well on his next two starts, but it was his easy win in the Betfair hurdle off a mark of 149 that makes him a serious contender in this. That was a special performance and a repeat of that sort of form will make him very hard to beat. A big danger is DODGING BULLETS who is rated 156 over hurdles. He was classy on the flat and ran very well in the Triumph Hurdle last year on only his second ever start over hurdles. He loves Cheltenham, having won twice at the course, including when giving weight to River Maigue and put up a good performance last time out, finishing third to Darlan at level weights at Kempton. He is not a pick for followers of the stats, but he is a very good horse who will be suited by the pace of this race. CHAMPAGNE FEVER should not be under-estimated. He was a good winner of the bumper last year and has a great attitude. He was a good winner of a Grade One last time out and gave weight to Jezki when second at Fairyhouse. The ground will be ideal for him and Ruby Walsh rides, so a big run is expected.



There are several key statistics to take into account for this race. Firstly only one winner since the 1980s had ever finished outside the first two on a completed start over fences, secondly 10 of the last 11 winners had run at least three times over fences, thirdly 9 of the last 11 winners had been placed in a Grade 1 or 2 race and finally, 7 of the last 11 winners had finished in the first two at Cheltenham before.

Two horses dominate the betting in this and it is hard to see the winner not being one of them. SIMONSIG is held in the highest regard at Seven Barrows and is up there with Sprinter Sacre, so although Overturn is greatly respected, it is Simonsig for me. He is a winning pointer and has looked electric so far over fences, winning both starts very easily. His defeat of the useful Hinterland reads very well and he has so far jumped well. He has plenty of pace so should be able to sit just behind Overturn, before kicking for home and it is battle that should excite all jumps fans.



Weight is important in this race as the last 11 winners carried 11-2 or less. Also the younger generation does well as we have not had a winner aged older than 10 this century. It is also common for the winner to enter the race in good form, as 10 of the 12 winners this century had finished in the first three last time out and as a result, 9 of them started at 8/1 or less. Also 10 of the last 12 winners had raced no more than 11 times over fences.

MERRY KING has progressed well over fences and the piece of form that stands out is his second behind Rolling Aces who is now rated 23 pounds higher and although Merry King has gone up 11 pounds he could still be on a fair mark. The soft ground will hold no fears to him and he looks very progressive. LOCH BA is an interesting runner. He has improved a lot this season and was a very easy winner last time out. He has gone up in the handicap again, but looks capable of running well and the ground will hold no fears to him.



It is important to have won last time out coming into this race as 8 of the last 11 winners had done so and that trend goes back much further. It is also important to have run in the same calendar year as 17 of the last 18 winners had done so. On a negative note, five year olds rarely win this race, but since the introduction of the Fred Winter Hurdle, their record has improved and several have made the frame.

HURRICANE FLY is an exceptional hurdler, having won 16 of his 19 starts and is clearly the one to beat. This season he is unbeaten in three starts, all in Grade One races and has looked not far off his best. He has proven ability at Cheltenham, having won the 2011 Champion Hurdle and sets a very high standard. ROCK ON RUBY looks the main danger. He has not been given enough credit for his win last season, where he had Hurricane Fly five and a half lengths back in third. He travelled strongly that day and was given a good ride, but I feel he may have improved this season and should not be under-estimated. First time out he travelled like the best horse against Zarkandar and Grandouet at Cheltenham until lack of race fitness cost him. Last time out he put in a much stronger performance, winning at Doncaster and it would have been a close finish if Darlan had not suffered a fatal fall. Rock On Ruby handles Cheltenham well, (placed on all five starts at the track) and comes into the race in good form, so is a serious player again this year.



There are several key statistics to take into account in this race. The one that jumps out is that only one winner has been trained outside of Ireland and only one winner was not aged between 9 and 12. It is also interesting to note that 7 of the 8 winners had already raced over the cross-country course at Cheltenham and that this usually goes to one of the favourites, as 7 of the 8 winners started at 13/2 or less.

BOSTONS ANGEL is an interesting runner here. Cheltenham plays to his strengths and in two starts at the track, he has won the RSA Chase and finished second over this course off a mark of 145, which is what he races off again today. He looked very much at home over this cross-country track and has also run a good race in Ireland over this sort of track, so a bold run is expected. ARABELLA BOY won a key trial for this at Punchestown last month and is trained by Enda Bolger, who has a fantastic record in this race. In the Punchestown race he beat Uncle Junior by over 20 lengths at level weights, yet receives a massive 18 pounds here, so assuming he jumps ok, he could prove hard to beat.



QUEVEGA is an outstanding mare and bids to make it five in a row in this race. Amazingly it is almost four years since she was last beaten, but she has only had six runs. She was impressive in this last year and although this is her first run of the season, that was the case last year and it did not stop her. It is also easy to forget that in France she was beaten just two lengths by Hurricane Fly in receipt of just four pounds – that shows just how good she is. When searching for who will finish second, I am keen on UNE ARTISTE. She stayed on strongly to win the Fred Winter last season and looks to have improved again this year. She has now won 6 of her 8 starts over hurdles and last time out gave weight and a beating to Kentford Grey Lady and Alasi at Sandown. That was a good run and she could give the favourite most to think about.

• UNE ARTISTE (Betting without the favourite)


Winners of this race have shown a consistent level of form over fences, with all 8 finishing in the first 2 on their most recent run. In fact in the history of this race the winners had run 37 times over fences going into the race and had finished out of the first three on a completed start just four times. From a handicapping point of view it could also be significant that every winner was beaten first time over fences and only one carried more than 11-4.

A horse that I am very keen on is CARLITO BRIGANTE. A winner over hurdles at this meeting off a rating of 140, he has taken well to fences, winning twice and last time out he finished a good fourth to Dynaste, Fingal Bay and Unioniste, despite giving them all weight. A rating of 137 for this looks lenient and he should run a big race. VULCANITE was travelling strongly turning for home last year in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and has taken well to fences. After impressing on his seasonal debut over hurdles, he made a successful start over fences, winning at Hereford and run well on his next two starts on ground softer than ideal. He is rated 145 over hurdles, but just 137 over fences and given that he jumps well, he could be well treated. Another well handicapped horse is THE DRUID’S NEPHEW who won well last time at Wincanton, easily beating Grandioso who went on to win a Grade Two Novice Chase on his last run. On his chase debut he split the useful pair of Hadrian’s Approach and Rolling Aces and the form of that race has been boosted again and again, so a mark of just 135 could prove very lenient.