Triskaidekaphobia is not just a retired racehorse!
Since this week so far I've had about as much luck as a sandwich at a seagull convention, the fact that it's Friday the 13th holds no fear for me today.
Hargam is my selection for this first race to give AP another Festival win. Peace and Co is the antepost and SP favourite but only 2 have won in the past 10 years and AP riding for Nicky Henderson this year has resulted in 10 wins from 14 runs. Hargam is a CD winners on good to soft and (naturally being McManus owned) AP was up for both his GB wins. Such strong stats cannot be ignored and at the current 7/1, this is a super each way bet
14:05 Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle
This race tends to go to an Irish trained winner (there's a surprise!) and it is quite possible that we might see a McManus 1-2-3 over the line here. Princely Conn (AP) probably could have done without the rain but otherwise would be a very strong contender. The second McManus runner, Waxies Dargle loves rain but his fall last time out isn't what you want to see before a Cheltenham race as his confidence may well have take a knock. Sort It Out is my selection. If anything, he'd like more rain still and has an abundance of stamina to tackle the hill with ......and he sneaks in at the bottom of the weights.
I've looked for a progressive horse for my selection in this race (highest RPR on the last two starts) and plenty of proven stamina. My shortlist comprises of Black Hercules, Caracci Apache, Martello Tower and Thomas Brown. All four will be perfectly happy on the ground. Thomas Brown is probably not classy enough when the chips are down. Martello Tower looks to be short on grit in a finish and possibly needs 2-3lb off before winning again. Caracci Apache was doing his best work at the finish when winning his trial at Doncaster and showed he is as game as you like to win that. Black Hercules has been targeted for this and Ruby will likely ride him like he stole him and if he can handle the 11-7 has the best chance here. The big Q is if he can handle the extra 7lb so I'm hedging here with Black Hercules to win and Carraci Apache each way.
My best boy Silviniaco Conti is mature enough this year to do himself justice. I saw him run at Haydock beating Long Run in the 2012 Betfair Chase and immediately marked him down as a Gold Cup horse. I think he will win! However, the stats say that the chances of a horse losing one year then going on the win the next is rare so I have taken a look aroundy for insurance. It would be a dream result for AP to win aboard Carlingford Lough but he isn't the most natural jumper which is doesn't help here! Many Clouds and Road To Riches both have decent claims with some graded race wins under their belts. So if Silviniaco Conti doesn't do himself justice today then Many Clouds with his course form slightly edges it for me
The amateur riders Gold Cup!
Ex Paul Nicholls horse Current Event is my selection for his race. He's a 8yo who was rated 141 at his peak and has been running around the country collection P2P wins recently. Bryony Frost (Hadden's sister and Jimmy's daughter) is an accomplished and experienced rider so it would be wonderful to see a female jockey win this cup.
16:40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle
The stats suggest looking for a 5 or 6 year old carrying 11-2 or more....so a relatively inexperienced horse as well as rider! That man Mullins has won this twice in the past four years and he runs three in this race - two for Gigginstown. I am bypassing Roi Des Frances (fav) in favour of Grade 1 winner McKinley who has far classier credentials and is apparently happy on any ground.
17:15 A.P. McCoy Grand Annual Chase
I think AP has chosen wrong here! There was some chat earlier in the week that he may jump ship and get on Eastlake. AP has ridden hold up horse Ned Buntline four times and the best he could get out of him was a couple of 3rds. Paul Carberry who is an excellent hold up rider is riding Eastlake who needs to be ridden prominently. Makes no sense!
Meanwhile, course form is hugely important at this distance and Triumph winner Grumeti certainly has that. It's a big ask for such a young horse but he has taken to chasing and Alan King will have made certain of plenty of schooling after his iffy jumping at Sandown in January. The first time blinkers can help long time partner Wayne Hutchinson over the line in front.
Same time next year folks and be lucky x