Blog – Cheltenham, Pendleton. Thistlecrack and Formula 1

Roy The Boy weekly blog where he discusses the Victoria Pendleton Foxhunters ride at the Cheltenham Festival, Thistlecrack in the World  Hurdle and Sebastian Vettel in 2016 Formula 1 Season.

Pendleton’s a Story, the 1992 Gold Cup is the Stuff of Legend

I was delighted to see Victoria Pendleton ride a winner at Wincanton recently, booking her place in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in the process.

The negative press the Olympic cyclist was receiving from certain factions of the press and former jockeys was grossly unfair.  A consequence of her sponsor’s, Betfair, well-orchestrated PR offensive I suppose.

What these journalists and former jockeys need to know is race riding is not that difficult – I’m one of thousand’s that recognise this having ridden-out countless finishes aboard a betting shop stool or on a reversed front-room chair!

In all seriousness there is riding and there is race riding and last week I watched, courtesy of Youtube, a re-run of the 1992 Gold Cup.  For me this is the most controversial Cheltenham race of all time, won by the unconsidered Toby Balding trained Cool Ground.  It was all about the race riding.

The controversy involved Irish import Carvill’s Hill, the even-money favourite who was an awesome winner of the Welsh National for his new trainer Martin Pipe, and the Jenny Pitman-trained 150/1 outsider Golden Freeze.

With Golden Freeze’ credentials showing him someway short of Gold Cup class, many believed his job was to act as a ‘spoiler’ for Carvill’s Hill who had shown jumping frailties in his native Ireland especially when his lead was contested.

Such cynics were proven correct as 150/1 shot Golden Freeze harried the favourite from tape-rise which led to a mistake by Carvill’s Hill at the very first fence. The harassment was relentless as were Carvill’s Hill’s attempts to demolish the fences.

But only part of the plan came to fruition as Golden Freeze’ stablemate, the 15/2 shot Toby Tobias, played no part in the finish which was a desperately tight tussle between the French-trained The Fellow, ridden by Adam Kondrat who, as John McCririck later declared “gave the outside away to no one”, and Cool Ground ridden by a young Adrian Maguire who, in this modern era, would be facing jail time for his ferocious and relentless use of the whip.

It is a race well worth reviewing.  And the history books show, like 1990 Gold Cup winner Norton’s Coin, Cool Ground only ever won one more race.  He contested another 23!

Crack in the Stats

My Cheltenham 2016 nap of the week is Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle.  He has almost every stat in the book going for him.  Lay of the week, is Un De Sceax in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.  He has almost every stat in the book going against him!

Free-Bet Bonanza at Betfair and SKY Bet

If you are a mid to low-range punter planning to have some craic on this week’s Cheltenham Festival I have to say Betfair and SKY Bet are the places to shop.  They both boast some tremendous promotional offers.

SkyBet are offering stakes returned (as a free bet) on the opening race of the Festival on each of the four days and Betfair are giving out free-bets galore for every 3/1+ winner you back with them.  In fact, on Day 1 of the Festival, if you back a 3/1 winner they will give you three free bets to the value of your stake (capped at £25 apiece).

Throw in the additional free bets both companies give to new customers and it is going to be pretty much impossible to not make money as a new punter at either site.

Reliable Vettel is the Early Value in Australia

The Formula 1 season gets underway next weekend and, according to the bookmakers, the 2015 form is going to translate into 2016 results meaning a Hamilton/Rosberg battle for races and the title with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel picking up the pieces when these falter.

There have been some regulation changes this season.  Cars will be noisier and there will no longer be TV cameras in the noses of the cars.  That is not going to affect things too much albeit the introduction of a new ‘super-soft’ tyre and some wacky alterations to qualifying may.

Traditionally this race has a high rate of attrition, understandable as it sees new rules, regulation and equipment used in a race situation for the first time.

Nevertheless I’m backing Sebastian Vettel each-way at Paddy Power’s 6/1.  The German has finished on the podium in four of the last five Australian Grand Prix, succumbing to engine failure on the other occasion.

He also finished first or second six times from 2015’s 19 races underlining the capabilities of his Ferrari which has done nothing but improve since the back-end of 2014.

This Week’s Best Bets

Thistlecrack to win the World Hurdle at 6/5 with William Hill

Sebastian Vettel to win Australian GP at 6/1 each way with Paddy Power