Play your Card right

Cue Card could defy his age and seemingly all expectations by claiming the Gold Cup this afternoon

Happy St Patrick's Day. I hope he has turned the stone to ensure good weather. The forecast here is the worst of the week but we can't really complain as I'm sure you have seen the coverage on TV. Wednesday was the best weather I have ever seen at Cheltenham.

In the not too distant past, in a pre-digital era, a report on yesterday's racing would have been easily compiled, so in the spirit of the past and the day that is in it, all I have to report is – Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby (apologies for the premature obituaries).

What a strange week. The bookies smirking at lunchtime and grimacing at teatime.

We met a boy in a bookies in town yesterday and he was only after lifting the guts of five grand off a bet.

I overheard his mate asking him what he was going to do with it. He thought for a minute and said: “Put it on Defi de Seuil and hope to get myself out of trouble."

Defi has been at the front of the Triumph betting since hacking up here in November. Two further wins have seen his price shorten up more and the lack of an outstanding opponent from Ireland (they keep beating each other) gives him the look of a good thing.

Lets hope he lives up to his billing and gets the day off to a winning start.

And so to the Gold Cup, the most talked about race in years. The consensus from the various previews and articles was that (a) Cue Card is too old, (b) Native River is only a handicapper and (c) Djakadam is therefore a certainty.

The folks on the hill would struggle to match this analysis.

Djakadam has run four times at Cheltenham and has had two falls and two seconds, hardly the record of a good thing.

Cue Card and Native River have by far and away the best form in the race, lead the prize money won table by miles, and have superior claims yet they have been friendless in the betting as all the money has been for Djakadam and Sizing John.

Sizing John was stepped up in trip last time as he has been runner-up to Douvan on seven occasions and while he was impressive enough, that was a muddling race and there must be serious doubts about him getting the trip.

More Of That might be more of a danger. He ran his best race for a while last time and would have placed behind Sizing John but for tipping up at the last.

I'll take Cue Card to win from More of That and land a nice punt for a friend who backed him at 10/1 when Thistlecrack was odds-on for the race.

The amateurs' Gold Cup, the Foxhunters, features last year's winner On the Fringe, ridden by Jamie Codd this year as regular partner Nina Carberry is on maternity leave.

On the Fringe is getting on a bit and needed all of Nina's brilliance to win last year and I will take a punt with Ask the Weatherman who is reputedly the best point-to-pointer seen in England in a long time.

Owned by the Barbers, who owned the mighty Denman, and ridden by top English amateur Will Biddick he will give us a good run.

Earlier on the card the Albert Bartlett sees a rematch between Death Duty, who was Gordon Elliott's nap at the Europa preview, and Augusta Kate who fell when challenging him last time at Naas.

The remaining three handicaps are on the impossible side of difficult to unravel.

I tipped up Dandridge earlier in the week in the 'get out stakes', the Grand Annual, and will stick with him despite being tipped Thienval by an owner in the Henderson yard in a restaurant the other night .

Thought for the day.

What are we going to do with ourselves for the next 360 odd days? Maybe watch the videos and get ready for Aintree and Punchestown.

It has been a blast. Enjoy St Patrick's Day and let everyone else do the same.

Happy punting



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