It is fingers crossed time from now until the Cheltenham Festival is over. The next few weeks will see almost all of the main contenders run their final preparation race before heading to the festival. Any fall or set back will in most cases rule them out from participating at the Cheltenham festival 2013 only 7 weeks away. That is before we even consider bugs and viruses that scupper many horses’ chances.

The breeding paddocks are not one of the main risks I consider when placing an ante post bet. Suffice to say I got quite the shock earlier this week when the news broke that trainer Colm Murphy’s charge Voler La Vedette is to be retired to the breeding paddocks. My ante post docket gone up in smoke!

The fact that Big Bucks was a non runner this year had left the door wide open for a new champion and who better to fill that gap than last years runner up. In reality I can understand the decision to retire this wonderful mare. The only way she could further enhance her reputation would be to go and win the World Hurdle. Obviously, connections know her best and did not fancy her chances following some below par efforts on unsuitable heavy ground.

Not to worry there is the Betvictor non runner free bet and other bookmaker’s non runner no bet offers available currently with more to come. No need to risk all or nothing betting ante post from here all in. Lesson learned for me, do not back ante post for Cheltenham in December but wait for the bookmakers specials!

Eye Catchers Report for Weekend 12th/13th January 2013

The New One – Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies – Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies

Warwick – Novices Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m5f

The New One had a very easy time of it last weekend at Warwick. His main challenger was just after creeping though into a nice position when he made a very bad mistake losing his hind legs. Tony McCoy understandably looked after his horse from there on. This allowed The New One to saunter home beating easily horses of modest ability. The New One proved he is in rude health and can jump his hurdles but that is all we learnt from this run. The bookies reaction of pushing him into favourite for the Neptune Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham was a big over reaction. There is no way he should have been shortened from 14/1 into 6/1 for this effort. If he wins his next target at Cheltenham last his Month in a proper trial race.

Rocky Creek – Trainer Paul Nichols – Jockey Darryl Jacob

Warick –  Novices Chase (Class 2) 3m1/2f

Rocky Creek jumped and travelled very well at Warwick last weekend. He won this race very comfortably without any challenge. Highland Lodge ran no race and surely something went amiss with him. Rocky Creek is a natural over fences and the four mile National Hunt Chase rather than the shorter RSA chase looks the right race for him in my opinion. The bookies have made him favourite for the 4 mile NH chase with Paddy Power best price at 10/1. Rocky Creek has done nothing wrong however the four mile chase is a race that Paul Nicholls has never won. Paul tends to prefer to target his better staying novice chasers at the more prestigious RSA chase. Therefore tread carefully if backing Rocky Creek for the 4 mile chase.

Cause of Causes – Trainer Gordon Elliot – Jockey Davy Condon

 Navan – Hurdle Race 2m

Cause of Causes wore down Midnight game well considering his mistake at the second last and the unsuitable slow early pace. This horse is tough out and is taking his races very well. He is rated 149 and that puts him in with a real shout of winning the Supreme Novices hurdle. Elliot is slow to commit to that race but with his rating it looks likely especially if the ground was soft on the day. He loves coming off the pace in a true run race and has loads of experience at this stage. The stiff uphill finish at Cheltenham will suit him much more that the speedsters. He is a big player. Elliot has mentioned the Betfair handicap as his next target. It will be a very informative race regarding the supreme novices hurdle as Nicky Henderson has already stated he hopes to run My Tent Or Yours in the same race!

Alderwood – Trainer Tom Mullins – Jockey Mark Walsh

Navan – Beginners Chase 2m1f

Alderwood had to battle to  a not too convincing win at Navan last Sunday. He jumped well but as his trainer and jockey mentioned did not really like the very testing conditions. He is eligible for a handicap mark following this Chase (his 3rd Chase). Tom mentioned that he will go for a handicap chase at the Cheltenham festival rather than the Arkle Chase. He was rated 143 over hurdles last season following wins in grade 2 & 1 novice hurdle races. If alderwood is giving a chase mark around the 140 level or below he surely has a huge chance of a repeat victory at the Cheltenham Festival.

All The Best,