Cheltenham Festival 2013 Day Four: Crockford’s Dead Cert and Whisper

Yesterday Crockford gave punters three big priced winner; Benefficient WON 20/1, Holywell WON 25/1 (via Twitter) and Solwhit WON 17/2 and Crockford’s Whisper Shakervilz finished second at 20/1. Who will be Crockford’s Dead Cert and Whisper be on the final day of Cheltenham Festival 2013?

The Triumph Hurdle will kick off the final day of the Festival and will provide another Irish banker with the Dessie Hughes trained Our Connor.  Far West and Rolling Star go to the race unbeaten and with big reputations, but Bryan Cooper’s mount has a turn of foot that exudes exceptional talent.

In the second (The County Hurdle) John Ferguson’s Cotton Mill will look to make up for running out at the 2012 Festival. His return run at Newbury showed that all the talent remained and he looks well placed to pick up the valuable prize today. In the same race Punjabi is an interesting entry especially given his low weight.  Being priced at 25/1 an each way punt is suggested by Crockford. At Fishers Cross will be a warm order in the Albert Bartlett after the withdrawal of Ballycasey.

The Irish have a strong hand in the Foxhunters with Backstage, Oscar Delta and the favourite Salsify. Amongst the British contenders Paul Nicholls has Tricky Trickster who is favoured over the Barber’s grey Chapoturgeon. Gevrey Chambertin held many entries in the run up for the Festival but the Pipe’s have gambled on him winning the race named after Martin Pipe. In what is a competitive renewal he will face stiff oppostition from the Irish horse Edeymi and the highly regarded Village Vic.

Benefficient after his 20/1 victory in the Jewson yesterday lines up today in the final Festival contest, the Grand Annual. It would take some feat for him to do the double especially given the array of Henderson horses who will be determined to stop him. Out of the Henderson team Crockford prefers the value available with Petit Robin who has done nothing wrong this season over hurdles and looks primed for this now returning to fences.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Our Connor (Triumph Hurdle 1.30)

Impressive this season Ireland and with an excellent turn off foot, many Irish punters believe this horse to be the banker of the Festival. The rumours from the course over the last two days have made Crockford certain that this Dessie Hughes horse is a Dead Cert for the winners enclosure.

Crockford’s Whisper – Petit Robin e/w (Grand Annual 5.15)

Revived over hurdles this season in competitive handicaps (including an excellent run in the Betfair at Newbury). The booking of Nico de Boinville who claims seven pounds off his back makes this each way Whisper even more attractive. Expect a big run in a race that means so much to the Hendersons.

Village Vic
Village Vic (pictured right) has each way claims

Crockford’s gambles on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival 2013:

Truimph (1.30) – Our Connor, Gassin Golf e/w and Swynmor e/w

County Hurdle (2.05) – Cotton Mill, Punjabi e/w and Hisaabaat e/w

Albert Bartlett (2.40) – At Fishers Cross, Our Vinnie e/w and Utopie Des Bordes e/w

Gold Cup (3.20) – Long Run and Captain Chris e/w

Foxhunters (4.00) – Tricky Trickster e/w and Backstage e/w

Martin Pipe (4.40) – Gevrey Chambertin, Edeymi e/w and Village Vic e/w

Grand Annual (5.15) – Petit Robin e/w and Viva Colonia e/w

 

(Featured Photograph – Cotton Mill at Newbury by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Swing Bowler and Village Vic at Newbury by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Cheltenham Gold Cup

Crockford considers if Sam Waley-Cohen and Long Run can reclaim their Gold Cup crown at the Cheltenham Festival 2013

With Hurricane Fly regaining his title on Tuesday in the Stan James Champion Hurdle punters now ask if Nicky Henderson’s Long Run can do the same in the Festival’s feature race. Long Run appears to have drifted under the radar of many punters and pundits with the more fashionable Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Sir Des Champs taking the limelight. The withdrawal of Bog Warrior (who ran yesterday in the World Hurdle) and Sunnyhillboy (who scoped badly this morning) the rivals to the former Gold Cup winner are down to eight.

Crockford considers the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013 contenders:

Bobs Worth – Brilliant Hennessy winner and twice victorious at the Cheltenham Festival, he loves the track but may well have benefitted from a further run before taking on his rivals today. An obvious contender and not to be under-rated.

Cape Tribulation – After his battling victory in the Argento on Trials Day he became a lively each way contender for many punters. Connections share the same view and expect a big run from a horse who knows how to win at the Festival. However, Crockford feels he lacks the class to threaten the frame.

Captain Chris – Back to somewhere near his best this season and going well last time when blundering when looking to challenge Cue Card at Ascot. This race and its conditions will suit him, expect a big run.

Long Run – Former Champion and victorious in the King George at Christmas. The yard says that he comes here in fine form. Crockford believes that a double celebration will be on the cards for the Waley-Cohen’s after the birth of Sam’s son this week.

Monbeg Dude –  Paul Carberry gave this horse the ride of the season to win the Coral Welsh National in January and he ran again with some credit last time out when staying on. At 66/1 it would take a surprise for him to figure today.

Silviniaco Conti –  Winner of all three starts this season which have seen many of today’s rivals finish behind him. Paul Barber told ATR that he would certainly win this too. Crockford is unsure though and knows that horse can disappointing when expected to do well.

Sir Des Champs – Progressed with each race this season and has shaped like the race will suit him. Crockford is not sure that this horse will make the elevation from a good horse to a great horse but is certainly is on the short list.

The Giant Bolster – At the beginning of the season connections said that “it was all about this year”. The 2012 Gold Cup second appears to have returned to form with his run in the Denman Chase at Newbury behind Silviniaco Conti and may come on again.

Wayward Prince – Looked to have recaptured some of his earlier career form in his first two outings this year but now seems to have lost it again. Deserves the 100/1 odds available.

Silviniaco Conti
Silviniaco Conti at a misty Newbury

Crokford’s prediction for the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013:

1 Long Run

2 Bobs Worth

3 Captain Chris

Crockford predicts that The Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013 will be a battle between the two Henderson favourites which will help Nicky Henderson seal the 2012/13 Trainers Championship.

 

(Featured Photograph – The Waley-Cohens at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Silviniaco Conti before The Denman Chase 2013 by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013 Day Three: Crockford’s Dead Cert and Whisper

Yesterday Crockford’s Whisper Tofino Bay (8/1) was beaten on the line by Back In Focus. On what is a competitive day three of the Cheltenham Festival 2013, will the Irish dominate again?

The third day of Cheltenham Festival 2013 kicks off with what is an excellent renewal of the Jewson Novice Chase. Dynaste will be the favourite but Crockford believes that the grey will not have everything all his own way with the highly regarded Captain Conan being the danger to him. The Irish challenger Benefficient has crept under many radars and looks an attractive each way price in the race too.

Sam Winner and his stablemate American Trilogy have been talked up by their stable for the Pertemps Final. Crockford however favours Pipe’s Close House in the race, which could turn out be the first half a big handicap double on the day with the second half being the impressive Ballynagour in the Byrne Group Plate. Ballynagour entered many notebooks with his facile win at Warwick where he had Festival 2013 winner Golden Chieftain a country mile behind him.

The feature races of the day, the Ryanair Chase and World Hurdle look both to be fascinating contests. Crockford could imagine a scenario where if the Ryanair Chase was run eight times their could be eight winners. With that in mind Crockford will punt for value in the shape of For Non Stop who has had a strategically timed break in readiness for the race. The defection of Big Bucks due to injury has turned the World Hurdle into a hot contest which poses limitless questions including the infamous; will Oscar Whisky stay? Surely, the answer is yes but will he be good enough to beat the dangerous Irish contender Solwhit who has little wrong in his preparations for the 3m race.

Flaxen Flare provided the Elliott camp with another Irish winner yesterday in the Fred Winter and he may be well placed to follow up with Nina Carberry on the lowly weighted Romanesco in the Kim Muir. Unlucky to be run out at the finish in the National Hunt Chase, Nina may fair better today with Romanesco and her ride in the rescheduled Cross Country on Arabella Boy. The Irish look certain to pick up the Glenfarcas Cross Country  with the each way value appearing to be the Mullins horse Shakervilz.

Anthony Knott
Hunt Ball connections are confident, but will he beat Ballynagour?

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Ballynagour (Byrne Group Plate 4.00)

This ex-French horse was a handicap good thing at Warwick having Tuesday’s Festival winner Golden Chieftain way behind him in third that day. His danger Hunt Ball carries too much weight to get near this Festival good thing that surely is a Dead Cert.

Crockford’s Whisper – Shakervilz e/w (Cross Country 5.15)

With Mullins taking races left, right and centre and at big prices too. The 20/1 on offer about this classy contender can not be overlooked. With Katie Walsh booked expect at least a placing from this horse in a race that the Irish are again set to dominate.

Crockford’s Cheltenham Festival 2013 day three gambles:

Jewson (1.30) – Captain Conan and Benefficient e/w

Pertemps Final (2.05) – Close House e/w and American Trilogy e/w

Ryanair (2.40) – For Non Stop e/w

World Hurdle (3.20) – Oscar Whisky and Solwhit e/w

Byrne Group Plate (4.00) – Ballynagour, Hunt Ball e/w and Vino Griego e/w

Kim Muir (4.40) – Romanesco e/w and Vesper Bell e/w

Cross Country (5.15) – Shakervilz e/w , Arabella Boy and Bostons Angel e/w

 

(Featured Photograph – Oscar Whisky at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Hunt Ball connections at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013 Day Two: Crockford’s Dead Cert & Whisper

Crockford’s first day Dead Cert Hurricane Fly WON at 13/8 and Crockford’s Whisper Tullamore Dew was placed at 33/1. Can Crockford follow up on day two of the Cheltenham Festival?

Follow Crockford today via Twitter at the Festival (Crockford@deadcerts)

The second day of the Festival opens up with one of its oldest races, The National Hunt Chase now named the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase in memory of the legendary rider, broadcaster and charity fundraiser;  Lord Oaksey. Once the centrepiece of the original festival this year’s renewal is both an exciting showcase of future talent and a competitive contest. The Irish again have a strong hand with the likes of Back In Focus and Tofino Bay.  Crockford favours Tofino Bay with Nina Carberry on board. He was impressive in his Troytown win earlier this season and beat the highly regarded Aupcharlie last time out.  From the home offering Godsmejudge is a strong contender with the outsider Our Island being overpriced as he stays all day, which will be needed on the ground for this 4m contest.

The Neptune sees the clash of two big reputations in Pont Alexandre and The New One. Pont Aexandre is Mullins’ best for the Festival and The New One is one of the best Nigel Twiston-Davies has ever trained, according to the respective yards. Henderson’s Chatterbox remains unbeaten, with the run of My Tent Or Yours yesterday giving that form another boost.

Unioniste has shown a liking for both the course and conditions and is due to run well again today in the RSA. Sprinter Sacre must be the banker of the meeting and looks unassailable unless Sizing Europe can get him off the bridle. The Coral Cup is as hot a race as ever with the classy novice Pendra making a lot of appeal to Crockford. Cash and Go with should go well too at a good each way price. John Ferguson is strongly represented in the Fred Winter with Ruacana the Chepstow winner looking value at double figure odds. The final race of the day The Champion Bumper is an excellent renewal which sees the champion flat jockeys O’Brien and Hughes make an appearance at the Festival.

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes rides Sgt Reckless in the Bumper

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Sgt Reckless (Champion Bumper 5.15)

With the masterful Richard Hughes booked and the very strong whispers that have surrounded this horse, he cannot be overlooked. The Champion Bumper is always a strong race but the confidence behind Sgt Reckless makes him a Dead Cert.

Crockford’s Whisper – Tofino Bay  e/w (National Hunt 1.30)

Having competed at a high level and beaten seasoned handicapers well this Dessie Hughes challenger has caught Crockford’s eye. He will stay all day and will have no problem with the conditions. With Nina Carberry up he has excellent each way claims at least.

Crockford’s day two gambles:

National Hunt (1.30) – Tofino Bay e/w and Our Island e/w

Neptune Novices (2.05) – Pont Alexandre and Chatterbox e/w

RSA Chase (2.40) – Unioniste

Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20) – Sprinter Sacre

Coral Cup (4.00) – Pendra e/w and Cash and Go e/w

Fred Winter (4.40) – Ruacana e/w

Champion Bumper (5.15) – Sgt Reckless

 

(Featured Photograph – Chatterbox and Barry Gerraghty at Newbury by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Richard Hughes heads to the Weighing Room at Goodwood by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Queen Mother Champion Chase

Crockford considers if the best horse in training Sprinter Sacre can possibly be beaten in the Queen Mother Champion Chase 

The superlatives about Sprinter Sacre have been endless from turf commentators and punters alike. For many he is the ultimate Festival banker and so much so the average punter may not even venture to bet in the race and simply decide to prepare to sit back and enjoy another brilliant performance.

Over fences Henderson’s horse has never really come off the bridle but when challenged over hurdles he did on occasion find little when pushed by rivals. For Crockford the key question is can anyone truly challenge him enough to test his mettle under pressure?

Crockford considers his rivals:

Mail De Bievre – Fifth last time out when tiring after a front running performance at Newbury. There have been many whispers about how he will come on from that but surely he cannot trouble the others enough to be placed.

Sanctuaire – At the beginning of this season and the end of last he was touted as a potential rival to Sprinter Sacre with his impressive front running style. However, he has been comprehensively beaten since.

Sizing Europe – The former Champion and the horse that makes this a race rather than a crowning procession. Unbeaten this season and will have stamina in these conditions. At around 5/1 he does look an attractive price against the short odds on prices about the favourite if something goes amiss.

Somersby – A real contender for the crown in previous seasons but never quite good enough. For Crockford his chance at the title has now gone.

Sprinter Sacre – So impressive over fences that he is called the best horse in training. He is on the edge of being a racing superstar if not already. Surely a banker?

Tataniano – Outclassed by his rivals he will do well not to finish last in the race.

Wishfull Thinking –  On a going day he is a quality horse, but with his problems it is hard to tell when that will be. However, this season he has started to be more consistent again and may just have place claims (if small ones) everything going well.

 

Sprinter Sacre races up Cheltenham Hill
Surely the sight that Sprinter Sacre’s rivals will see tomorrow?

Crockford’s prediction:

Unless something goes wrong with the horse or Sizing Europe gets him off the bridle and he finds nothing Sprinter Sacre will win.

1 Sprinter Sacre

2 Sizing Europe

 

(Featured photograph – Sprinter Sacre on the way to the winners enclosure at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Sprinter races up Cheltenham Hill by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013 Day One: Crockford’s Dead Cert and Whisper

With the Cheltenham Festival 2013 about to start this afternoon Crockford gives his Dead Cert and Whispers for the first day

As the traditional roar goes up from the crowd for the first race who will be the first winner cheered home? My Tent Or Yours has been the hot favourite for the Supreme since his win at Newbury and is many punters idea of a Festival banker. But on this first day he will not be Crockford’s.  The Irish have a strong hand in the form of Jezki who is unbeaten over hurdles and also in the Mullins pair of Un Atout and Champagne Fever. Ruby Walsh has added fizz into the race by choosing Champagne Fever who Mullins believes is back to his best. Priced at each way odds Crockford believes that this horse is much more attractive as a betting proposition than the Henderson favourite. Another that seems to have slipped under the punters radar is Oliver Sherwood’s Puffin Billy who has only been beaten once and was proved to be not right that day. If he had come here unbeaten he would be certain to be at least half the odds offered for him now. Elliott’s Cause of Causes also looks overpriced given his performances this year in strong company.

Simonsig should be unstoppable in the Arkle especially given the soft ground not being in Overturn’s favour. The JLT Speciality Chase looks an open contest where Nick Gifford’s Tullamore Dew is overpriced and Fruity O’Rooney should go well. The Cross Country will again be dominated by the Irish with the favourably priced  Bostons Angel and Shakervilz catching Crockford’s eye.

Quevega looks to return again to the Festival on another winning seasonal debut hoping to claim a place with the greats in sealing a fifth win in the Mares Hurdle. This year it will not be straightforward for her with the Festival winner Une Artiste and the progressive Swing Bowler looking to spoil the party.

Swing Bowler
Swing Bowler (centre) looks a threat to Quevega

The final race on the card is a competitive affair where  Gordon Elliott’s Carlito Brigante looks thrown in at the weights for another big Festival performance. Vulcanite has also been the subject of many whispers in the lead up to this week and it could just be the day that Restless Harry provides a surprise by returning to form at a massive price.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Hurricane Fly (Stan James Champion Hurdle 3.20)

With the confidence as high as it is in the Mullins’ camp and the impressive performances this year he must be a Dead Cert to regain his hurdling crown.

Crockford’s Whisper – Tullamore Dew  e/w (JLT Speciality Chase 2.40)

Thrown in the weights this genuine horse stayed on into fourth last time out at Cheltenham in a competitive handicap. The 33/1 odds available for him is unmistakable value for a horse that there are strong whispers about.

Crockford’s first day gambles at the Festival:

Supreme Novice Hurdle (1.30) –  Champagne Fever e/w, Puffin Billy e/w and Cause For Causes e/w

Arkle (2.05) –  Simonsig

JLT Speciality (2.40) – Tullamore Dew e/w and Fruity O’Rooney e/w

Stan James Champion Hurdle  (3.20) – Hurricane Fly

Cross Country (4.00) –  Shakervilz e/w and Bostons Angel e/w

OLBG Mares Hurdle (4.40) – Une Artiste e/w and Swing Bowler e/w

Rewards4Racing (5.15) – Carlito Brigante e/w, Vulcanite e/w and Restless Harry e/w

 

(Featured Photograph – Tullamore Dew after his run at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Swing Bowler before the Betfair Hurdle by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Stan James Champion Hurdle

Crockford considers if Hurricane Fly is a Dead Cert for the Stan James Champion Hurdle

If Hurricane Fly can win the Stan James Champion Hurdle tomorrow he will be the first horse to regain the hurdling crown having lost it  since Comedy Of Errors in the 1975. Impressive in all three wins this season including his last outing at Leopardstown, where he had one of tomorrow’s rivals Binocular back behind him in third, he is many punters idea of the winner. Connections feel that this year he is a different horse from the horse that finished third in last year’s race behind Rock On Ruby. As Patrick Mullins told ATR the yard will be “very disappointed if he can’t win”. But what about his rivals, Crockford considers if it is that certain?

Crockford’s assessment of the runners (Prices at 8pm on www.stanjames.com)

Balder Success (80/1) – Outclassed by this field  he has not been overly impressive in handicap company this year. Worthy of his long odds

Binocular (9/1) –  Former winner and not beyond providing a surprise to punters. With the ground the way it is and having been soundly defeated last time out (even if he needed the run) his chance seems to have gone

Cinders and Ashes (14/1) – Unable to show the form this year that made him a Festival winner last season. With the ground coming up soft and tacky tomorrow his chances have turned to ashes.

Countrywide Flame (16/1) – Impressive when winning at Newcastle first time out this season, the way the race developed at Kempton at Christmas did not suit him, but was not good enough last time out to win either

Grandouet (8/1) – Connections would have preferred to have another run before this race, but he equipped himself well in the Stan James International at Cheltenham on his seasonal reappearance against rivals he meets again today (Zarkandar and Rock On Ruby)

Hurricane Fly (9/4) – 2011 winner and unbeaten this season. Connections are bullish about his chances. He looks the one to beat if back to his imperious best

Khyber Kim (40/1) – Great come back run after a long period off the track. He just faded when finishing second behind Zarkandar at Wincanton and looks like he may come on from that. Each way claims at a massive price.

Rock On Ruby (9/2) – 2012 winner and back to winning ways at Doncaster when Darlan was fatally injured, he looks certain to be in the frame and one of the main contenders

Zarkandar (7/2) – Unbeaten this season and having the majority of his rivals finish behind him this year. He makes Crockford’s short-list but he did disappoint last year

Grandouet
Will Grandouet feature in the finish?

Crockford’s Prediction for first three in the Stan James Champion Hurdle

1 Hurricane Fly (Dead Cert)

2 Rock On Ruby

3 Grandouet

With the confidence from the Mullins yard Hurricane Fly has to be a Dead Cert to regain his crown.

 

(Featured Photograph – Zarkandar at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Grandouet at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival 2013 – Champion’s Bumper?

The Champion Flat Jockeys of the UK and Ireland, Richard Hughes and Joseph O’Brien are set to clash in the Champion Bumper at the Festival on Wednesday

Richard Hughes has been booked to ride Sgt Reckless in the championship race with Joseph O’Brien looking to ride for his father on recent winner Shield. Both champions have been busy plying their trade on the all weather over recent weeks with Hughes having ridden at Wolverhampton today and O’Brien at Dundalk over the Winter.

Connections of Sgt Reckless are bullish claiming that he a dead cert for Festival success, and given the style of his victories Crockford can understand why. This monster of a horse cruised past rivals winning by 8l at Wincanton and battled gamely to win by 1 1/2l on the all weather at Lingfield.  With Richard Hughes up the Channon yard could not ask for a better pilot on their 9/1 chance. 

Joseph O"Brien
Will Joseph be heading into the Winners Enclosure at the Festival on his father’s Shield?

Shield booked his place at the Festival after beating the highly regarded Dermot Weld horse Grecian Tiger last Sunday at Leopardstown. The two horses pulled clear of the third in impressive fashion earning the O’Brien trained horse a 16/1 quote for the Weatherby’s Champion Bumper. The father and son combination have pulled off many a big race success together, punters now ask will the last race on Wednesday be another. In what is always a very competitive affair  Crockford believes that others should have the edge including Sgt Reckless with Hughes on board.

 

Champion trainer Willie Mullins is as ever well represented  with a an excellent pair of chances in the form of Union Dues and Sizing Tennessee.

In addition to champions of the racing world a champion of another sport played on the turf will also be present. Sir Alex Ferguson has entered his aptly named I’m Fraam Govan who is trained by George Baker. The 33/1 outsider disappointed last time out when being an odds on loser on the all weather at Lingfield. However, Crockford thinks that race did not represent his true form and that the Manchester United supremo still has a shot with this one.

So all in all it truly is a Champion Bumper this year. One which if you listen to the whispers will be won by a Mr Hughes

 

(Featured Photograph – Richard Hughes at Goodwood by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Joseph O’Brien and Excelebration in the Winners Enclosure on QIPCO Champions Day by Stuart Rice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperial Cup & Cheltenham Festival Double for Pipe?

The Pipes plan another Imperial Cup and Cheltenham Festival double with Tanerko Emery and Kazlian

Successful in the past with Blowing Wind and Olympian, the Pipe’s look well placed for another attempt at an Imperial Cup and Cheltenham Festival double coup. Tanerko Emery is quoted around 12/1 for win in today’s race whilst holding engagements in the Coral Cup, County Hurdle and Martin Pipe’s Conditional Hurdle at the Festival. Having travelled well last time out in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las when just being tapped for toe to finish third  he seems certain of another big run today. Pipe also saddles Kazlian at Sandown this afternoon (who is highly regarded and slightly favoured by punters at around 9/1) and also holds entries at the Festival next week. However, with such a large bonus fund on offer the temptation of a double has attracted others.  Mr Mole for Nicholls is quoted as the short priced favourite and clearly has ability. The chance of the double would certainly not be missed on connections. Crockford fears for the inexperience of Mr Mole as well as that of the once classy French flat performer Pine Creek for Ferguson who has also been highly touted this week.

Super Saturday in Dubai and its Group Ones have landed a stella cast of runners. The pick of which is probably the Breeders Cup winner Little Mike (4.00). There is a whole host of talent on show including Crockford’s gallops whisper  Stasio (1.05) who the Simcock yard can not speak more highly of.

Wolverhampton hold their biggest day of the year with the listed sprint and Lincoln Trial being the main features. Marco Botti could be set for a five minute international double with Guest Of Honour in the Trial (2.55) and the globetrotting Jakkalberry at Meydan (2.50).

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Free Thinking (Sandown 3.50)

Sam Waley-Cohen
Sam Waley-Cohen rides Free Thinking

Trained by Nicky Henderson this bumper performer was impressive on her first outing when winning at Kempton and then following up at Fakenham. Crockford rarely looks to bumpers for certainties but the style by which this horse quickened first time and the subsequent win makes this a Dead Cert.

Crockford’s Whisper – Whisper e/w (Sandown 2.05)

The aptly named novice is such a strong Whisper for Crockford that he is almost a Dead Cert. Winning easily last time out at Ffos Las, he was fourth in one of the hottest novice contests of the season finishing behind Festival fancies At Fishers Cross, The New One and Coneygree. With form like that Crockford is certain that he will finish in at least the places today.

Archer’s Selection – Guest Of Honour (2.55 Wolverhampton)

Archer would have noticed that this Botti horse was unlucky not to have won last time at Kempton. Progressive and running for a form stable, the master of the turf would have fought to have been booked for this ride.

Crockford’s gambles around the courses today:

Sandown –  Calculated Risk (1.30), Whisper e/w (2.05), Soll e/w (2.40), Tanerko Emery e/w (3.15), Free Thinking (3.50) and Arbeo (5.00)

Meydan – Stasio e/w and Deauville Prince e/w (1.05), Spirit Quartz (1.40), Krypton Factor (2.15), Jakkalberry (2.50), Red Jazz e/w (3.25), Little Mike (4.00) and Side Glance e/w (4.35)

Wolverhampton – Regal Parade (2.20), Guest of Honour (2.55), Spic N’Span (3.30), Tarooq and Barnet Fair e/w (4.05) and Speed Boogie e/w (5.45)

Ayr – Isla Pearl Fisher (1.45), Jonny Delta e/w (2.15), Little Glenshee (2.50) and Do It For Dalkey (3.25)

Chepstow – Cheat The Cheater (1.55), Mauricetheathlete (3.05), Hell’s Bay (3.40), Come on Annie e/w and Kozmina Bay e/w (4.15)

Gowran –  Lancing (2.00), Lead Kindly Light (3.10), Glam Gerry (3.55) and Are Ya Right Chief (4.30)

 

(Featured photograph – Tanerko Emery by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – The Waley-Cohens at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

Nicky Henderson’s Dead Certs for the Festival?

With Nicky Henderson being short priced favourite to be leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival next week, Crockford casts his eye over his yard’s leading fancies and considers if they really are the Dead Certs that the markets suggest

William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle – My Tent Or Yours (11/8)

Since his imperious win in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury he has been many punters idea of a certainty in the first race of the Festival. However, Crockford would caution punters to be not overly impressed with his win in a slowly run race. Remember he could not beat stablemate Chatterbox the outing before and  who may reoppose him again.  11/8 looks far too short for a horse that has the likes of the very useful Irish challengers of Jezki, Champagne Fever and Un Atout to beat. Perhaps punters should not also overlook the progressive Melodic Rendevous or experienced and highly thought of Dodging Bullets either.

Verdict – Lay   

Racing Post Arkle Trophy- Simonsig (4/6)

Spoken now in the same breath as Sprinter Sacre this grey looks a chasing natural with the potential speed to be a real contender in a Champion Hurdle. His wins so far have been facile and he has yet to be tested. The front running versatile Overturn will test him and can match him for speed. If Arvika Ligeonniere’s jumping holds up and he is not  too phased by the fact he will not be able to so easily dominate he could serve it up to Simonsig too.

Verdict – Dead Cert

Sprinter Sacre
Sprinter Sacre – the Dead Cert of the festival

 

Queen Mother Champion Chase – Sprinter Sacre (1/4)

“Awesome, magnificent, an equine machine and the best horse in training” are the superlatives that have been used to describe Henderson’s charge. Crockford can not help but agree. Will any of his rivals get him off the bridle? If Sizing Europe and Cue Card do not swerve the race then they may just do that. But are they really in the same league?

Verdict – Dead Cert

 

Jewson Novices Chase – Captain Conan (4/1)

Captain Conan is highly regarded and has stepped up another gear this season over fences. Connections joked that he added 20mph to his speed. His last outing saw him almost beat, but that margin may well have been deceiving. Crockford believes that his chances are very much bound up in who his rivals are. Aupcharlie would certainly have to be respected but if Boston Bob, Arvika Legeonneire  or Dynaste  are present they would be feared.

Verdict – Wait 

Oscar Whisky
Oscar Whisky World beater?

 

Ladbrokes World Hurdle – Oscar Whisky (7/2)

If there was to be a Ryanair Hurdle over 2m4f Oscar Whisky would be a certainty for that race. Well as there is not the debate has raged on between pundits on whether the Champion or the World Hurdle is his race. Evidence more than suggests he stays the 3m at Cheltenham especially if the surface is not bottomless. With the defection of Big Bucks Crockford feels that this may be his year. Those to watch would be his rival Reve De Sivola, the underrated Peddlers Cross and the highly thought of Irish raiders Monksland and Solwhit.

Verdict – Dead Cert

 

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup – Bobs Worth  (3/1)

Winner of the Hennessy in impressive style and a two time Festival winner Crockford can understand the punters attraction to this Henderson horse.  However, the talk around this favourite seems to overshadow the facts that the other Henderson fancy and previous Gold Cup winner Long Run has to be a significant danger. Sir Des Champs has got back to winning ways too and has proven Festival form. If things go right for Captain Chris and Silviniaco Conti they may be too much for him too. 3/1 is certainly not value.

Verdict – Lay

 

(Featured Photograph – Nicky Henderson by Stuart Rice)

(First Photograph – Sprinter Sacre races up the Cheltenham Hill by Stuart Rice)

(Second Photograph – Oscar Whisky in the paddock at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)