I make no apologies for the fact that over the next month I will spend a lot of time looking forward to what I regard as Britain’s finest annual sporting event: the Cheltenham Festival. Yes, there will be groans from racegoers that Guinness is a rip-off at £7.50 a pint; yes, it can get overcrowded even if you pay more than £100 for a club enclosure ticket; yes, the Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott-trained horses will win more than their ‘fair share’ of the big races.
But the sheer quality of the racing, the exhilarating atmosphere and the beautiful setting of the course nestled beneath Cleeve Hill are all a joy to behold. Yet, as a punter, the enjoyment of the racing is always greatly enhanced by… a big-priced winner or two.
I have already put up a couple of horses for the first day of the Festival (14 March) and tipped a couple more outsiders for the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup. Today I am going to suggest bets on two more horses in Festival handicaps, even though the entries for these races have not yet been announced. Hence, both antepost bets must be placed on the Non Runner No Bet (NRNB) markets.
My first tip is a really strong fancy that I have for the so-called ‘boys’ race’, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. The horse I like is MIGHT I, who has plenty of ability but who is not an easy ride as he is sometimes too keen in his races.
This race is for horses rated up to 145 and so provided Harry Fry’s seven-year-old gelding stays on that mark (and he is very unlikely to run again before the Festival), he will be top weight in the race. With the Martin Pipe in mind, his handler put conditional rider Lorcan Murtagh in the saddle for Might I’s last race and that worked well: the duo were a close second at Cheltenham to Hacker Des Places over just further than two miles, a trip short of the horse’s best.