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Greetings from Malta. I have my nose in front in the casino thanks to a third place in last night’s poker tournament and five lucky hands on the spin on the Ultimate Poker table and will be making sure that I keep it that way before I return on Tuesday in time to write Wednesday’s Ante-Post Focus on the BetVictor Gold Cup where we may well witness a four-year-old start favourite in Frodon. The next Race Previews will be uploaded on Thursday featuring the Friday card of the three-day Open Meeting at Cheltenham and the official start of my Jumps Season Service.
I’ve been watching the best of the racing whilst away and was obviously delighted that Valseur Lido kept my and Gigginstown’s good record going in the JNWine.com Champion Chase having trumped him up in last week’s Ante-Post Focus and it was a classy performance that has thrust him into the Gold Cup picture. Actually, he would have been right in last season’s Gold Cup picture too if it wasn’t for Michael O’Leary’s ego as Willie Mullins had long openly considered him as a stayer but was overruled twice with regards to Festival targets with his owner sending him down the shorter route of the JLT and Ryanair rather than RSA and Gold Cup.
In fairness to O’Leary, he did actually win those two staying chases with other horses racing in his silks but surely Valseur Lido has already booked his ticket to this season’s Gold Cup if all remains well between now and the Festival. It may well be that Gigginstown already have their ideal Ryanair candidate in Sub Lieutenant who Henry de Bromhead has turned around since he got his hands on him over the summer. More of this in the opening weekly edition of the Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post on Monday, November 14th.
Gordon Elliott had six winners at the two-day Down Royal Festival following on from five last season after which he commented that this is a meeting where he likes to have runners at – logged in the memory banks for next season and also in hard print in my dairy.
As for the Breeders’ Cup, I must remember to take heed of my notes that says don’t get too involved in these big international race days that attract horses from all over the world. Arrogate vs California Chrome was a great spectacle and right up with there with Ferdinand vs Alysheba in 1987 but they are such difficult meetings to attack with any confidence for a whole host of reasons; drugs, different surfaces, draw, luck in running, matching up international form lines etc. As such I usually find myself scratching around for some value that usually end up being ‘value losers’. I used to love the Breeders’ Cup in the 1980s and 1990s and then they starting inventing races for the likes of Tamarkuz to win.