Friday March 10th

11am @aftertimeansell may no longer be plying his trade but in his memory I will give it a go. Had a brief look last night at today’s three jumps cards and with Ayr and Leicester offering slim pickings I had pencilled in four possible selections at Sandown to make up Fridays Lucky 15, Ardkilly Witness, Kayf Adventure, Artifice Sivola and Sneaky Feeling. I just wanted to go through the form and check the prices. So imagine my shock when I opened the Racing Post this morning to find Racing Editor Paul Kealy had put up the first three named as his only selections of the day and I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting the Lucky 15 knowing that. So I would rather spend two hours on Part 2 of the Two Y’s Cheltenham feature. So sorry no Lucky 15 advised today.

I will make two observations connected to the upcoming Festival before I sign off. Firstly at the five day stage there are forty entries for Wednesdays opener, twenty of them are trained by Willie Mullins! What is that all about? Surely he doesn’t intend running all twenty? It just strikes me he’s showing off. However I will put all twenty in my tracker for two purposes. The first is the Punchestown Festival where I expect Mullins to run everything with a pulse (I expect Elliott to do the same) and secondly for handicap hurdling and novice chasing next season. The twenty are Al Baum Photo, Augustin, Bacardys, Battleford, Bon Papa, Bravissimo, Bunk Off Early, Chateau Conti, Cilaos Emery, Crack Mome, Invitation Only, Kemboy, Livelovelaugh, Melon, Montalbano, Pleasant Company (?), Turcagua and the mares Airlie Beach, Augusta Kate and Let’s Dance. Just a random thought but how many of those has Melon stuffed in those legendary schooling hurdles?

My second observation concerns Gordon Elliott. Back at the end of January Gordon Elliott made twelve entries for the handicaps  at Cheltenham’s Trials meeting. The twelve were Ball D’Arc OR146, Prince of Scars OR145, Tycoon Prince OR137 and Space Cadet OR136. Then Cause of Causes OR153, a mark which supposedly made their mind up that the Cross Country race was the way forward and has been backed accordingly since from 16/1 to a solid 4/1 second favourite. Next was Mega Fortune OR146 who made all the headlines and sent social media into a tizzy! Some smokescreen and of course he has run to that mark since and is the main danger to Defi du Seuil in the Triumph.

The other six make fascinating reading.

Diamond King OR150, now 6/1 favourite for the Brown Advisory Plate from 20/1!

Noble Endeavor OR154, at the head of the market for the Ultima at 8/1 from 16/1.

Tombstone OR150, 5/1 favourite for the Coral Cup having opened as big as 20/1 in places (also 6/1 second favourite for the County, 8/1 top price Coral from big prices as PP put him in at 25/1!).

Runfordave OR137, 16/1 for the Coral Cup (not moved) and 20/1 for the Martin Pipe from 25/1. Beware!

And finally the one they’ve really gone for. The Storyteller OR142, 25/1 into 4/1 favourite for the Martin Pipe and Elliott has put it up as his Charity bet at every Preview night he’s gone to! Indeed he told the one in Belfast “it WILL” win.

Somebody somewhere is holding some pretty multiples with that lot.

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