Festival tips, day 1
Here’s the short version if you can’t be bothered reading:
3.20 Jezki & Melodic Rendezvous (see below)
4.40 Shotgun Paddy
5.15 Baby Mix
I don’t know about you, but I feel all festivalled-out already. It’s a proper year-long build-up for me, as I tend to do much of my betting for the following year’s Festival during the current one. I feel that bookies are under such pressure to get a price for the Gold Cup/Champion Hurdle/QM etc in front of the TV folks quickly that they can make mistakes.
So I go into this week with a decent bet on Bobs Worth at 9/2 (from a year ago) and The New One at 25/1 (that was a price taken before he won last year’s Neptune – no aftertiming, either!) The ones that got away were Cue Card (25s for The Gold Cup and 16s for the QM, but he’s out injured). I also did my dough on Activial for whom all the talk was about the Triumph until he won at Kempton, then they said he was doubtful! Still that’s the downside of ante-post which makes up 80% to 90% of my punting.
Those watching my twitter account will know I spent much of late January trying to talk people in to backing Jezki at 14s for the Champion Hurdle. In the last week or so I’ve been pushing the value case for Melodic Rendezvous and I still believe these two remain the best value in the race. Jezki wears a hood for the first time (Festival runners wearing headgear for the first time have a much better record than headgear debutants elsewhere). But it’s not just the hood that persuades me Jezki is a sound bet. His last two races should be ignored as he was ridden wrongly last time – held up, pulling, he’d run his race by three out yet still finished within 3 lengths or so of Hurricane Fly. The time before that, young Mullins on Our Conor put AP in his place when the champ tried to barge through on Jezki coming to the last. AP persevered for too long before deciding to pull Jezki out and try to come again on the outside. He’s much better than he showed the last twice and the faster ground will suit.
I make Jezki the outstanding bet of day one with Betvictor who offer 7/1 about him betting without The New One – a great each way bet. And have a couple of quid on Melodic Rendezvous too. Everyone is asuming he needs very soft ground. I believe he might just need a stamina test which he should get tomorrow. He has plenty speed too, though has hit a flat spot in his last two races before powering back to win. If you’re an in-running better, Melodic Rendezvous could trade at real big odds on Betfair if that flat spot slows him again. I’ll bet nothing will be coming up the hill quicker than he will.
A year ago, I also backed Our Conor for this. But I’ve come to the conclusion that he finds little off the bit. He’s one who will trade very short, I think – like My Tent or Yours – but will find just one-pace wen asked for that final crucial effort. I’m confident The New One will reverse placings with MTOY from Kempton. TNO’s last-flight error there, cost him enough momentum and balance to give MTOY what I thought was a failry soft victory. I’m not having it that he proved in that race he was a real battler.
I’ve never been a backer of The Fly, although he’s an admirable horse and I wish him well.
But I’ll stick with Jezki and Melodic Rendezvous.
Of the others I’ve tipped, I have no strong fancies. Valdez is probably the best value of the remainder.
Above all – above profit, bragging rights, prestige – let’s hope that every horse and jockey travels home tomorrow night safe and well.
Good luck, and if you are going to the meeting remember, Gloucester in March is No County for Old Men.