12/1 tip Warthog won for subscribers to my VG Tips selections service and did so in an admirably brave manner.
Up with the leaders for so much of the Class 1 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham, the gorgeous looking grey gelding trained by David Pipe came to the final fence the clear leader. Understandably tired after a stamina sapping run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, Warthog began to run out of steam and was overtaken by 40/1 shot, Spiritofthegames.
Just when defeat seemed inevitable, and each way placed returns the only profit we would receive, back came Warthog. Determined not to be beaten, the 7 year old found a little extra in the tank and he and jockey David Noonan got back up on the line to win by a head. What a performance! It’s fairly rare for a horse to do that. To have the lead, lose it and yet regain it close to the winning post. Especially after such a tough race.
He was one of four profitable punts for members on a Saturday for which I analysed five races on the Cheltenham card. The day began well with 9/4 tip Botox Has winning the Triumph Hurdle Juvenile Trial.
Late on the card, my win only NAP selection Dame de Compagnie won, as I expected, the Class 2 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. A 5/2 tip when offered to subscribers the night before racing, here’s what I told them about that race in general, and about the eventual winner:-
“The mare drops in grade here and could be leniently handicapped. Fifth in a Class 1, Grade 3 handicap hurdle at this racecourse last month, that was her first race for a whopping 577 days. Inevitably, she was ring rusty but, come the closing stages of that race over two miles, she doing her best work at the finish and staying on in a fashion that caught the eye. One of those races where, in the latter stages, I looked and thought ‘what’s that coming out of the telly?’
“With the benefit of that race to blow away the cobwebs, Dame De Compagnie could turn out to be too good for the useful opposition.
“Queens Cave looks nicely handicapped for trainer David Pipe. Beaten four lengths by subsequent Class 2 Novice Hurdle winner Silver Forever in October, the third horse that day has since won a maiden hurdle. Last month, Queens Cave won a Class 4 Mares’ Novice Hurdle by a little under four lengths.
“The Alan King trained Midnight Referendum impressed when winning at Warwick last season. Her seasonal debut was a poor performance over a distance King said was too far. A talented claiming jockey, Alexander Thorne, takes off seven pounds in the saddle which is a plus and Midnight Referendum has previously won on ground with cut in it. The Met Office is predicting rain overnight Friday and on Saturday morning.”
Where possible, I try to cater for all tastes of punting. Those who simply want to back the most likely winner, regardless of price. And those who, like me, also want to bet on something at a bigger price that has a chance of winning, but a greater chance of being placed and returning some profit that way. In that race, bookies were returning each way bets about the first four and five past the post. So I suggested each way backers consider Midnight Referendum at odds of 25/1 and Queens Cave at 13/2.
Midnight Referendum ran well, defying those odds, to finish third. While Queens Cave, up with the leaders for most of the race, came past the post in fifth. So a win-win-win situation for myself and anyone else backing all three in that big field race.
I love such competitive races. Ones you can get your teeth into. Races that get my little grey cells working and require plenty of research. The years have proved I do best as a punter in larger field handicaps and Group class races than in races comprising only a handful of runners.