The Business of Cheltenham

AP McCoy onboard Uxizandre celebrates 12/3/2015It’s Gold Cup day at Cheltenham today and the eyes of the Racing World will alight on the Cotswolds to see who will be crowned the king of the jumping game.

After opening his account at his final Festival yesterday 20 time Champion Jockey Tony McCoy even said he might shed a tear if victorious on Carlingford Lough.

The bookies but back yesterday after two days in the backers’ favour though one meath customer of Boylesports is reported to have won €168,000 in a combination bet linking four of yesterday’s winners.

Ireland won the big race with Lord Windermere last year who bids to retain his crown while the nation’s hopes also rest on the shoulders of the Willie Mullins trained trio of Boston Bob, On His Own and Djakadam, and Road to Riches trained in Meath by Noel Meade and owned by Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary.

If you thought it’s been hard so far to back a winner you will not take heart that there are 153 horses going in today’s 7 races. Still sport is nothing without optimism and here are a few speculative suggestions to keep our record going of having given at least one winner a day so far…

1330 – Hargam
1405 – Quick Jack
1520 – Hoywell
1715 – Ned Buntline

The last of these will be Tony McCoy’s last ride at the Festival. The horse has a winning chance on form but fate adds to his chance as retiring jockeys tend to have a bit of good fortune when they are bidding farewell..Michael O'Leary with his wife Anita and Rivage D'Or 11/3/2015Day two at the Cheltenham Festival produced another three winners for Ireland, two of them owned by Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. He is guaranteed a place in the winners enclosure today as well as the sponsor of the Ryanair Chase.

O’Leary’s love fort and investment in the sport is clear for all to see and with a Cheltenham Gold Cup already to his name, yesterday’s winner Don Poli will raise dreams of a repeat in years to come. He also owns one of the favourites for tomorrow’s renewal in Road to Riches.

The Cheltenham sponsorship has been in place since 2006 and the company extended it’s involvement with the sport at home when signing up as sponsors this month for the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday.

Announcing the sponsorship O’Leary said “Ryanair is delighted to celebrate its 30th birthday in 2015 by sponsoring this prestigious Grade 1 race at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday.”

“With a bit of luck, it will be won by AP McCoy and generate lots of PR for Ireland’s favourite airline.”

We have managed to find a winner on both days so far and this is where we think another will come from today:

  • 1330 – Vautour
    1440 – Hidden Cyclone
    1520 – Lieutenant Colonel
    1600 – Ataglance

Ruby Walsh and Annie Power fall at the final hurdle 10/3/2015
Willie Mullins, from a stable in County Carlow, rewrote history at Cheltenham yesterday when saddling four winners at the biggest horse race meeting of the year and producing a first ever 1-2-3 in the feature Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Douvan, Un de Sceaux and Faugheen brought up the first three legs of a Championship four timer that in advance of the meeting had been suggested as the gateway to a bettor’s paradise.

Estimates of between €50 million and €100 million were running on to Annie Power in the final leg and when she approached the final hurdle in full seeming command of the race bookmakers heads will have been in their collective hands.

Fate is a fickle beast though and a missed stride coming in to obstacle sent the horse and jockey scrambling to the ground. Neither were injured but the fall cost a fortune coming back across the counter and through the online channels of the relationship between bookie and backer.

There was a record crowd at the track of over 63,000, many having travelled from Ireland and while that fall may have taken the icing off the cake it was still a spectacular day with Ireland taking five of the seven races.

Can it continue today? Well here are our humble suggestions of where some of your Euros might be best invested…

  • 1330 – Outlander
    1405 – The Young Master
    1520 – Dodging Bullets
    1715 – Bordini

Hurricane Fly and Paul Townsend with Willie Mullins 9/3/2015
Cheltenham will be abuzz this morning ahead of the start of the 2015 National Hunt Festival.

Trainers, Jockeys, Owners, Bookies and Backers will be putting the finishing touches to their tactics for when the tapes rise at 1330 this afternoon.

There are 27 Irish Horses in action today, including five of the eight lining up for the day’s feature race the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh has chosen the young pretended in Faugheen but sometimes in sport the heart is allowed to rule the head and we will be one of millions cheering the roof off is Hurricane Fly crowns a wonderful season by becoming the first horse in history to regain his crown in this Championship race for the second time.

Five of the seven favourites in morning forecasts belong to Ireland and if the four shortest priced in the biggest races al win Paddy Power has estimated, perhaps with a touch of hyperbole that it will cost the betting industry over €100 million.

In all they expect that €125 million will be wagered over the next four days.

If you fancy having a flutter and joining the national obsession here are some of the horses which may be carrying a Euro or two of the Sport for Business petty cash…

  • 1330 Douvan
  • 1405 Vibrato Valtat
  • 1440 Monbeg Dude
  • 1520 Hurricane Fly
  • 1605 Annie Power
  • 1640 Very Wood
  • 1715 Horizontal Speed
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