Alan King is concentrating his Cheltenham Festival efforts on the  novice events, and has a particularly strong showing with  juvenile hurdlers Grumeti, Balder Succes and Vendor.  Vendor leads the market for the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle Odds, with 4/1 at Bet365, Grumeti leads the JCB Triumph Hurdle at 6/1, Balder Succes follows shortly after at 9/1.

“We may lack a strong hand in any of the major championship races, but we are in a strong position in the novice events. We have a very exciting string of young horses and hopefully a few will progress to championship horses in years to come.” – Trainer Alan King.

The ground is coming along nicely at Cheltenham.

“We’ve achieved what we were hoping to achieve and it’s good ground all round, both over the hurdles and fences.” – Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse

And finally, let’s close with some racehorse track humor:

This one is from a humor magazine and has to do with the restrictive gambling laws in the US, which is not nearly as open and fun as it is in the UK, hence driving people to offshore gambling:

Riverboat Horseracing

This one you’re most likely aware of even though the ad has been banned.

Chav Tranqulizer

Of course, one does not need to deal with any such obnoxious behavior if you simply bet and watch online.


Baby Mix fully redeemed himself from his previous last place at the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham last month by winning the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton, a race which has evolved over the years into being the best trial for the Triumph.  Before the trial defeat, he had debuted as a winner at Cheltenham in December, and bookmakers have restored their confidence in him, making him the new favorite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, with William Hill going as far as making him their 5-1 favourite (from 20).

“I probably made mistakes and Paddy did as well last time but we went back to basics.  He was too keen that day. Today he was in front far too long but the most important thing was to let him enjoy himself. We were going to run somewhere else but we thought we’d come here as it’s nice ground. We’ll keep him ticking over for the next three weeks.” – Trainer Tom George

Baby Mix’s victory was not the only event to change the odds for the JCB Triumph Hurdle. Over at Fairyhouse the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle saw the hyped hurdle debut of Irish Cesarewitch winner Minsk end in his defeat at the hoofs of Burrenbridge Lodge.  So now William Hill has him eased to 7-1 (from 5-1f) as the third favorite after Sadler’s Risk.

“I was happy and disappointed. The only hurdle he missed was the last and I’d say it made the difference.  It was just his lack of experience that beat him and I thought he ran well and will come on a lot for that.” – Trainer Dessie Hughes

Back at Kempton, Grumeti held onto his place as a worthy JCB Triumph Hurdle competitor by winning the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle by a length and a half.  In addition to the other changes among JCB Triumph Hurdle odds, William Hill shortened Grumeti to 11-2 (from 8).

“That was perfect, and it was great for ‘Choc’ [Robert Thornton] to get a nice feel.  I love this horse. He’s very straightforward, and he jumped super.” – Trainer Alan King

The highly anticipated JCB Triumph Hurdle will be the opening race on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.  It was established in 1939 where Grey Talk marked the first win.  Many sponsors have participated over the years, and since 2002 it’s been held under the name of JCB (formally J C Bamford Excavators Limited).  The race is for promising novice hurdlers, runs 2 miles and 1 furlong and features eight hurdles.  Winners tend to then compete in the Champion Hurdle.

Stay tuned closely as events unfold.  The betting will be hot for this one.


10-1 joint favorite for the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Waaheb has been taken out of the Cheltenham Festival by trainer Dermot Weld.

“Unfortunately Waaheb has had a few minor hold-ups and it will not be possible to give him an ideal preparation or a race before Cheltenham. Consequently, he will not be running at the festival,” Weld said.

The Supreme would have been the first hurdle race for the five year old, who has won three bumpers in the last season.   There are now hopes he will be ready in time for the Punchestown festival.

While Sivola De Sivola is still entered for the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (where he is currently 14 for Bet365 and WilliamHill ), he will miss Saturday’s William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.

“We were thinking of giving him two runs before the Pertemps Final but will probably give him just the one now” – trainer Tom George.

The Pertemps is over 3 miles and tends to have a lot of changes and surprises leading up to the big day, so it might be worth holding off the betting until a little closer to the time, but checking the odds constantly.

The last ten winners of this race:

2011 Buena Vista David Pipe 20/1
2010 Buena Vista David Pipe 16/1
2009 Kayf Aramis Venetia Williams 16-1
2008 Ballyfitz 8 N A Twiston-Davies 18/1
2007 Oscar Park 8 D W P Arbuthnot 14/1
2006 Kadoun 9 M O´Brien 50/1
2005 Oulart 6 D Hughes 10/1
2004 Creon 9 Jonjo O’Neill 50/1
2003 Inching Closer 6 Jonjo O’Neill 6/1F
2002 Freetown 6 L Lungo 20/1
2000 Rubhahunish 9 N Twiston-Davies 8/1

However one horse that is not missing any trials is Baby Mix, who is all set to participate in the opener on Cheltenham trials day on January 28.

“I’ve been very happy with him, he does his work very easily, and he is where we want him really.” – Trainer Tom George.

Baby Mix is the ante-post favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at 8/1 with Ladbrokes or William Hill, and 7 with Bet365.   The January Trial will be a Grade 2, but the actual race is a Grade 1.  Generally the trial run has been a good guide to the Triumph Hurdle winners, so this would be one to watch closely.

Last Ten Winners of the JCB Triumph Hurdle:

2011 Zarkandar P Nicholls 13/2
2010 Soldatino N Henderson 6/1
2009 Zaynar N Henderson 6 11-2
2008 Celestial Halo 4 P F Nicholls 5/1
2007 Katchit 4 A King 11/2
2006 Detroit City 4 P J Hobbs 7/2F
2005 Penzance 4 A King 9/1
2004 Made In Japan 4 P Hobbs 20/1
2003 Spectroscope 4 Jonjo O’Neill 20/1
2002 Scolardy 4 W Mullins 16/1
2000 Snow Drop 4 F Doumen 7/1

And that’s all for today.  But tomarrow will undoubtedly bring yet more excitement.

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