March 9, 2014 Leave a comment
Pen in hand, Racing Post website open in front of me, I found myself scratching my head this past week as I looked to mastermind my annual assault on bookmakers at the Cheltenham Festival. Sadly, in recent recent years, that attack has resembled a lame retreat by the end of day two, although for anybody willing to listen, I am always happy to talk about the time I took Skybet for £3,000 from a tenner having backed Zakandar to win the Adonis and Triumph Hurdle in a double in 2011. I also enjoy recalling the halcyon day that was March 13th 2003 when a £5 Yankee on Baracouda (Stayers Hurdle), Best Mate (Gold Cup), Kingscliff (Foxhunters Chase) and La Landiere (Cathcart) returned £2,700 thanks to Betfred’s generous 100% bonus on an all correct multi!
Meaty wins from small stakes have been few and far between but that doesn’t deter me from going in search of the big one ahead the Festival each year and as I tried to fathom my angle for 2014, I had a moment of sudden inspiration when I thought to myself, “is there a more aptly named person to base my Cheltenham ‘get rich quick’ plan around than multimillionaire banker and racehorse owner with Willie Mullins than Rich Ricci?”
The former Barclays executive has a string of top jumpers based at the the Irish champion trainer’s County Carlow stables and since moving to the UK from the USA just 10 years ago, Ricci has quickly established himself amongst the leading jumps owners. A quick glance at the ante post markets ahead of the Festival shows that Mullins has eight of the favourites in the meeting’s 27 races, four of which are owned by Ricci. They are Champagne Fever in the Arkle Chase, Faugheen in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, Ballycasey in the RSA Chase and Annie Power in the World Hurdle.
That quartet make up the first four selections of my multi along with Vautour, who is second favourite to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Arvika Ligeonniere will also carry the familiar pink silks (with green dots) and features prominently in the Queen Mother Champion chase market at 6/1 but is the one I feel least confident about given. That said, none of the five I’ve backed are certs but I am working off the theory that they all represent a powerhouse of a stable and an owner who is all too familiar with the Prestbury Park winners enclosure. Twelve months ago, Mullins landed the Cheltenham top trainer crown with five winners and his embarrassment of riches sees the 57-year-old the 2/5 favourite to retain that title and recording a quintuple of victories in 2014 should be more than achievable and if that proves correct, Ricci’s runners are sure to form the cornerstone of that success. I’ll save the 2,000 extra words and time that it would take me to justify the claims of all five but if you hadn’t realised already, they all boast mighty chances.
A purely speculative bet but one I feel is underpinned by sound logic. A profit of more than double my outlay is the return should just three of the five selections win, four winners will see me smiling and all five will see me on Expedia booking my next excursion to Las Vegas but only after I’ve had a small coronary prior to the conclusion of the World Hurdle!
This kind of bet is normally one I’d keep under my hat and going public sets me up for huge indiscretion should the Mullins challenge flop at Cheltenham but is that really likely? I just hope that I’m on the right runners and since I’m documenting my betting activity a bit more via this blog, any success always seems a bit diluted if bragging after the event so putting any thoughts of ‘jinx’ to one side, here you have it, my pink and green colours firmly nailed to the mast ahead of the Cheltenham Festival!
Best of luck to everyone over the four days…
The bet is the following five horses in trebles, fours and an e/w fivefold.