Martin Malone

my home on the web

Coronavirus – how are we doing on the Wirral and the rest of Merseyside?

We remain in Tier 2 for the moment and there’s no reason to assume that this will change when the review is announced on 16 December (those who do change will do so on 19 December).

So, how is the Wirral doing? Here is the resource to find out:

My area (Claughton South and Oxton North) has increased by 60 % to 98.1 per 100,000. Noctorum South is at 109.3 and Woodchurch is up to 247.5. Pensby and Thingwall remains low but Neston and Parkgate is up by 43% to 125.8. The worst local area is Upton West & Heath (near Chester) which has increased by 47.4% to 545.9 which is among the highest nationwide.

Over the water, Albert Dock and Queen’s Dock is up by 80% to 105.4. Toxteth is at 129.9, Wavertree South is up 36.4% to 134.8 and Huyton West and Roby is up by 50% to 246.5.

For reference, these are the nations rates as at 10 December:

  • Wales: 381.8 (+50.9%)
  • England: 165.3 (+9.8%)
  • Northern Ireland: 157.9 (+14.6%)
  • Scotland: 102.2 (+0.9%)

The highest local authority rate is Swale (Kent) with 624.3. Manchester is 96th (170.2), St Helens is 158th (129.6), West Lancs is 180th (120.7), Cheshire West and Chester is 218th (100.9), Knowsley is 229th (93.5), Liverpool is 239th (88.1) and Wirral is 291st (57.1) from a total of 315.

So, overall, Wirral and most of Merseyside is doing very well. If you are a Wirral resident, you can now take advantage of asymptomatic testing by going to:

You should take at least one and perhaps two tests over the next fortnight, particularly if you are planning on visiting elderly or vulnerable relatives or friends in a Christmas bubble.

Although the news about the Pfizer vaccine has been very welcome, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the GlaxoSmithCline/Sanofi vaccine (which would have got round the the low temperature problem) has been delayed and may not roll out until late 2021 so testing remains critical.

Let’s hope that all the Merseyside areas can remain in the lower tiers. However, the reality is that coronavirus and its effects going to stay with us well into 2021 so the focus must be on minimising its impact on our day to day lives.

Cheltenham Saturday 12 December

Well, after careful analysis, Friday turned out to be a complete blank:

11:30 Lucky One – ran well for 2/3rds of the race and then faded

12:05 L’Air Du Vent – never featured and pulled up before two out

12:40 Tegerk – withdrawn – tried to reverse him on to the racecourse but wouldn’t have it.

13:15 Jubilympics – non runner (unsuitable ground)

13:50 Fanion D’Estruval – running well when fell 3 out

14:25 Black Corton – ran an uncharacteristic shocker – pulled up 4 out

15:00 Kingswell Theatre – tailed off 7th

15:35 Mohaayed – never threatening 3rd

Oh well, undeterred and on to Saturday with a different approach – quick selections:

12:05 Triumph Hurdle Trial

Adagio (5/4)

12:40 Novices’ Chase

Chantry House (8/13) AND Quel Destin (4/1) (latter will be the bet).

13:15 Handicap Chase

Zanza (9/2)

13:50 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3)

Coole Cody (9/1)

14:25 Albert Bartlett Hurdle (Grade 2)

Danny Kirwan (4/1)

15:00 International Hurdle (Grade 2)

Goshen (11/5)

15:35 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

The White Mouse (7/2)

Based on Friday you might want to strike these from your list but, whatever your choices, good luck!

The Cheltenham December meeting

This is the very best time of the year for National Hunt enthusiasts. We haven’t seen enough (or many) of the Festival candidates, and by that I mean Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown and, arguably, Dublin on 6 and 7 February 2021.

We lost racing in the early part of the pandemic but, with or without crowds, it’s been an enormous boost to be able to watch some of our greatest equine athletes, quite often at a betting price to attract.

Over the Christmas break, we will find that the racing channels will fill the gaps with what are called “half time reports” but what are, in reality, Cheltenham Festival guesses. Well, I’m happy to sign in to that so, as matters stand, here are my views for the big races:

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle: Ballyadam (8/1) (Ferny Hollow is rumoured to be injured – broken pelvis – but yet to be confirmed).

Arkle: Shishkin (6/4) (the next Sprinter Sacre and therefore comes with the plus and minus baggage). Allmankind (10/1) might turn out to be good value.

Champion Hurdle: Take Epatante now because the 7/4 will turn into heavy odds on after the Christmas Hurdle and there are no serious opponents.

RSA Chase: Monkfish (100/30) is a monster horse (in all senses) and is, so far, the outstanding candidate.

Champion Chase: Chacun Pour Soi (7/2) will blow away the field. The others have too many problems or, against him, not enough class.

Cross Country: Easysland (9/4) – it’s a shame that he’s a no show this Friday but he’s a shoe-in for this. Definitely not Tiger Roll who, for those of us who watch lots of races, has lost his enthusiasm for the game.,

Marsh Novices Chase: Envoi Allen (13/10) – bet of the meeting. I can’t believe that this horse (the best in training) isn’t heavily odds on. The only reason can be that he might be in the RSA. Take the odds NOW!

Ryanair Chase: We couldn’t see it in the fog but apparently Min (15/2) made a very good return in the John Durkan, under Patrick Mullins, who was effusive. The main point here is that there is no obvious opposition.

Stayers’ Hurdle: I’m going with a longer odds option here with Dame De Compagnie (20/1). A hardy handicapper is just what’s needed here, in the absence of a star.

Triumph Hurdle: As matters stand this is between Zanahiyr (4/1) and Nassalam (14/1), both of whom could be superstars. No doubt others will emerge but, at the prices and based on their performances, I’m happy to back both of them.

Gold Cup: Assuming that he has a good prep, there’s no reason to assume that Al Boum Photo (6/1!!) shouldn’t repeat his victory in 2020. The biggest threat, as matters stand, is Champ (12/1).

Foxhunters: OK, this is before the season and random but… Billaway is a perfectly acceptable 7/1.

Friday 11 December – Cheltenham

Going report: good to soft

So, on to more immediate fare on Friday.

11:30 Novices’ Hurdle (Class 3) 2m 1/2f

Any News (15/8) is perfectly entitled to win this after his easy Bangor win in an auction maiden hurdle at Bangor on 11 November. However, he beat a Venetia Williams novicey jumper in a time that was over 30 seconds slower than standard on soft ground in a four runner race. Although I love Bangor, this Class 4 win wasn’t anything special and this is much tougher.

I’m therefore with the current favourite Lucky One (13/8) for the one with the big connections (Nicholls/Cobden/Sullivan) and I think that the odds may have significantly contracted by race time. This one was a commanding winner last time out in a more challenging 13 runner Class 4 maiden hurdle at Southwell (for those who ask “Suthell” not “Sowthwell”) on 1 December (slow by 12 seconds on good to soft) after pulling hard when second at Uttoxeter in a Class 4 maiden hurdle on 14 November. There is clear scope for improvement.

12:05 Novices’ Chase (Class 2) 3m 1f

This is a great race with all runners within an official rating bracket of 137 to 143. The current favourite is Hold The Note at 9/4. A well bred horse (Jeremy) he was 4th of 5 last time out in the Grade 2 John Francome Novices Chase at Newbury on 28 November and, before that, 4th of 4 in a Class 4 Novices’ Chase at Wetherby on 30 October when he blundered 2 out. Mick Channon has a record of 1 from 7 in the last 14 days and I can’t have this one.

Second favourite is Fabulous Saga, with the same connections as Lucky One in the previous race. This one was last out in the Albert Bartlett in 2018 when with W P Mullins and was seventh when he faded badly from 2nd in the run in. Before that he was 7th and last in the 2m 6f Novices’ Hurdle at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival, again fading badly in the run in. Clearly highly thought of but surely one to watch, based on his form to date.

The Mighty Don (7/2) was beaten into 3rd place behind L’Air Du Vent in a Class 3 novices’ chase at Exeter on 22 November and I see no reason why the form should be reversed. I think that the support comes from his prior defeat of a Paul Nicholls “good thing” (Enrilo 10/11f) in a Class 3 at Chepstow on 9 October, but that was, in my view, an unreliable four runner race.

So, as you’ve no doubt gathered by now, my selection is L’Air Du Vent at an appealing 6/1. In the Brocade colours (Tizzard/Power) the previously mentioned win at Exeter (which I’ve just watched again) suggested that he stays at least 3 miles and that should have set him up nicely. It’s also worth noting that he ran well enough when beaten (5th) by Henderson star Chantry House in a novices’ hurdle last February. The signs are that he is a much better chaser.

12:40 Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) 2m 1/2f

I have no interest in this race. I will merely observe that Tegerek (5/1) is the forecast favourite.

13:15 Mares’ Handicap Chase (Class 3) 2m 4 1/2f

Now this is a much better proposition. Arian (Hobbs/Johnson) is 5lbs clear and an obvious candidate (currently 5/1). She won a Class 4 at Warwick on 18 November but didn’t beat very much and this followed up a weak Class 3 at Newton Abbot on heavy ground on 29 October.

The current favourite is Agent Valdez (4/1) for Fergal O’Brien who has a 22% strike rate in the last 14 days. She was a comfortable winner of a Class 5 at Leicester on 3 December but there were only two finishers (1 fell, 9 PU, 1 UR) so make of that what you will. The race was over 34 seconds slower than standard on good to soft.

So, again, we need to look further down the field. I really like Jubilympics (by Kapgarde) (9/1) for Emma Lavelle. She has a strong “back catalogue” and although no match for the winner when last out at Kempton on 9 November ran on really well to take second when the commentator described her as a distant third (another replay that I’ve watched). When last out at Cheltenham (April 2018) she was a very creditable 4th in a Class 1 and I think that the course will suit her well.

13:50 The Peterborough Chase (Grade 2) 2m 3 1/2f

All credit to those who have enabled this race to be relocated from last Sunday at waterlogged Huntingdon. There was a suggestion that Altior might have been rerouted here but we will have to wait for the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on 27 December for that.

It’s still a great renewal and an opportunity for a bit of value (hopefully!). The forecast has Top Notch and Mister Fisher as joint favourites (4/1). I dislike both of them. Top Notch weakened when last out in the Silviniaco Conti (what a favourite) Chase at Kempton last January (won by Frodon) and has form for that when push comes to shove. Mister Fisher was pulled up last time when 3 out in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on 14 November. The trainer (Henderson) said that he was not suited by the ground (soft, but only just!) although, to be fair, the horse was reported to have lost his left fore shoe. Having said that, he was 4th in the Marsh at the Festival last March (behind Samcro, Melon and Faugheen) so credit where due.

Fanion D’Estruval for Venetia is next in the market at 9/2. This is a decent horse and ran very well when second to Magic Saint in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase (Class 2) here on 13 November. I’ve watched that replay and he nodded at the last although I don’t think that this was enough to alter the outcome. The ground was good to soft, good in places so no problem in that regard. He previously beat highly regarded Sully D’Oc in the Class 3 Ladbrokes Chase at Newbury in November 19 and is my idea of the winner.

Unibet Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 2f

For me, this is between Black Corton (the wonder horse) and Court Maid (so consistent).

So, why is Black Corton the wonder horse? It’s a good question because he was regarded as a “summer jumper” (i.e. in lower company) who “made good”. So, let’s take a look at the record. He’s been with Paul Nicholls since being bought from France and has career earnings of over £349,000. In September 2015 he was 2nd to French superstar Bipolaire in a hurdle race at Auteuil (“kept on well under pressure”). Having moved to Nicholls he won an Exeter maiden hurdle and followed that with a third to West Approach. In November 2016 he was beaten in a match with Altior and then had his amazing summer in 2017. He beat Sizing Tennessee and Frodon in an intermediate chase at Newton Abbot in October 2017 and beat Ballyoptic and West Approach at Cheltenham a month later. The Grade 1 was at Kempton on Boxing Day in the Kauto Star novices’ chase in December 2017.

In April 2019 he won the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown. Although not having won subsequently, he’s been campaigned at the highest level and this race is ideal for him to resume his winning ways.

Court Maid is, with the best will in the world, not a “name horse” from Ireland and I can’t help but think that the purpose of this outing is to see how she goes (again) at Cheltenham. She was 12th of 22 in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in March 2019, behind Eglantine Du Seuil, Concertista, Posh Trish, Epatante(9th!), Buildmeupbuttercup and others. Won a beginners’ chase at Galway in July, a minor novices’ chase at Fairyhouse and a substandard Porterstown Grade B Chase on 29 November (1F, 12PU).

Commodore emptied in the run in when last time out in the style of a horse that I would run a mile from at Cheltenham. Storm Control is here on the back of a win in the conditionals and amateurs’ race on 14 November. He won with a high head and unconvincing jumping and is up against much tougher opposition.

So, my nap of the day is Black Corton at a very appealing 7/2.

15:00 The Cross Country Chase 3m 6f

Well, none of the main protagonists are here so this is a side show. One of these might take to the course but, of those who have, the obvious choice is Kingswell Theatre (4/1). This is all over set up for a boil over so my advice is not to have a bet unless you need it for the placepot.

15:35 Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) 2m 3 1/2f

This is normally just a bit of padding but, this time, there are a few interesting candidates. I was really impressed by 12-y-o Unowhatimeanharrys’s win last time out just last week at Aintree. However, I have to be doubtful about whether sending a veteran out less than a week later is a good idea.

Lots of these are hardened campaigners but “nearly” horses so I’m going with what I believe to be the progressive one in the shape of Mohaayed (5/1) for Dan Skelton and Bridget Andrews. Beaten by Unowhatimeanharry at Aintree on 7 November, this is a former winner of the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle and County Hurdle and is still only an 8-y-o. Without doubt the second highest quality horse in the field.

Good luck!!

A little legal news about “The Wagatha Christie Trial” – a very 2020 story

So, it’s started today, in the High Court before Mr Justice Warby. I’m assuming that I don’t need to tell you who the protagonists are but, in the unlikely event that you are not aware, just visit any of the main UK media pages and you’ll find them very quickly.

I expect that you will also be be aware that Coleen Rooney claims that she had been slowly reducing the number of people who could see her Instagram updates (over five months) until there was only one account remaining, that of fellow “WAG” Rebekah Vardy. She then posted a completely fictitious announcement that the basement of her house had been flooded. When this appeared as a story in The Sun, Coleen posted her famous tweet which, notably, is still available:

The Guardian (more than somewhat tongue in cheek) called it “the best Tweet of all time”:

Well, we all had a bit of fun so how has it ended in the High Court? Rebekah has taken it very badly. In the opening statement her lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said:

“Mrs Rooney has something like 2 million followers. The post has been liked by something like half a million people. Given the sensational matter of the allegations, it has been re-published hundreds of thousands of times [in the media].

“The post accused Mrs Vardy of either leaking her Instagram posts or being reasonably suspected of having done so. Mrs Vardy has suffered very widespread hostility and abuse. She was seven months pregnant at the time, which increased the stress.”

In her statement of claim, it was contended that she has received vicious threats and abuse as a result of the allegations, thereby suffering “extreme distress, hurt, anxiety and embarrassment” and that the offensive insults made her “feel suicidal”. It has also been claimed that her children had to be driven to school and nursery with black bin liners over the windows to hide them from the press.

In his opening submissions Mr Tomlinson said that the media had treated the dramatic dénoument as entertainment but, for his client, it had not been that at all. He added:

“Whatever leaks there were did not come from her. As a last resort she has brought this action to vindicate her reputation.”

and that

“[in libel cases] the intention of the writer is irrelevant. What matters is what the ordinary reader understands it to mean on Twitter.”

So, what about the riposte? Well, Coleen has retained David Sherborne QC, who, according to The Tatler, fits this bill:

There’s only one lawyer that the A-list call upon when it comes to matters of defamation, privacy or confidentiality, and that’s David Sherborne. The dashing, floppy-haired lawyer was a prominent figure in the Leveson Inquiry, arguing the case for celebrities whose privacy had been violated via phone hacking orchestrated by newspapers including The News of the World. Indeed, he is so handsome, that the Evening Standard quipped at the time that he could even be mistaken for a celebrity himself.

But he’s on a bad run. Dropped by Meghan Markle (is that a bad thing?) and on the losing side in the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard case, he needs a break. Will this one provide it?

In his perhaps less than convincing opening address he said that the online post was not unequivocally blaming Vardy but “the account of Rebekah Vardy” ( Hmm. He continued:

“There are shades of meaning between [the respective positions] but not an enormous number of shades between those two positions…Mrs Rooney is defending the words as true.”

David Sherborne QC

On the other hand, this could be a master stroke, bearing in mind that it was noted that the accounts of celebrities were sometimes”curated or operated on their behalf by other people”.

The hearing was relatively short (less than an hour and a half) and Mr Justice Warby will give his judgment on the meaning of the claim that needs to be proved tomorrow (Friday).

OK, so here’s the boring but true bit. As a lawyer in a general practice in Merseyside I’ve lost count of the number of people who have approached me and asked about bringing a claim based on defamation, particularly on social media, and often with very good grounds for doing so. Some are based on truly horrible and unsubstantiated allegations. However the hard truth is that claims of this nature are beyond the means of the vast majority of people. The main reason for this is that, from April 2019, the Government decided that lawyers’ success fees under conditional fee agreements (“no win no fee”) were unrecoverable in defamation and privacy cases. This is a specialist area of law and an initial advice from a suitably experienced QC can cost in the region of £5000 before you even get going. There is some comfort to be sought from the ECJ decision in Campbell ( but this doesn’t solve the basic problem.

Well, I can’t deny that it’s an interesting case. You might take the view from this article that I have a view about the likely outcome. From a political perspective, when the Government was rumoured to be feeding false stories to the media to flush out the “ratty” leaker about the November lockdown, the obvious drawback was that it was…leaked!

I’ll look forward to reporting the outcome some time next year (probably).

Saturday racing – 14 November

This is not a full post, just a note to myself about some notable horses running tomorrow on what is an excellent day’s racing. Selections are in bold.


11:45 Beginners Chase

Asterion Forlonges – 4/9

12:15 Novice Chase

Darver Star (5/4)

Felix Desjy (5/4)

Sizing Pottsie (14/1)

12:50 Handicap Chase

Bapaume (12/1)

Tornado Flyer (7/2)

Salsaretta (5/1)

Farclas (11/1)

Voix Des Tiep (18/1)

14:35 Maiden Hurdle

Gaillard Du Mesnil (5/4)

King’s Vow (7/2)

15:45 Bumper

Letsbeclearaboutit (10/11)


12:03 Novices’ Hurdle

Jetaway Joey (4/7)

14:23 Introductory Hurdle

Hooligan (evens)

Mackenberg (11/10)


12:30 Triumph Hurdle Trial

Hell Red (5/6)

Duffle Coat (13/5)

Adagio (4/1)

13:05 Handicap Chase (Conditionals/Amateurs)

Equus Secretus (10/1)

Lamanver Pippin (4/1)

13:40 Novices’ Chase

All of them!

14:15 Paddy Power Gold Cup

Simply The Betts (5/1)

Mister Fisher (5/1)

Al Dancer (9/1)

Slate House (9/1)

Siruh Du Lac (8/1)

Saint Sonnet (11/2)

14:50 Handicap Hurdle

On The Blind Side (7/1)

Tea Clipper (4/1)

Dell’ Arca (8/1)

Mrs Milner (6/1)

15:55 Bumper

Elle Est Belle (7/4)

Ishkhara Lady (11/2)

Ucanaver (11/4)

Being a shielded person

Hi all,

Do you know, being stuck at home for me has not been the worst thing ever. Luckily, I have a beautiful back garden and I’ve spent lots of time there, occasionally with <<other people>>, at a suitable distance!

I know from my car app that I drove home from work on 18 March and I haven’t been out since then, apart from a drive on 1 June when the rules were relaxed. Also from the app I know that I had a little go on the M53 and then returned via the New Chester Road. I didn’t leave the car and felt that I wouldn’t want to do so for a while – why would I jeopardise all the effort made so far?

Shortly before the lockdown I lost a front tooth and was provided with a temporary denture, pending an implant. Of course, after the lockdown, that has been left into the very long grass. When you have nothing other to think about, it’s a massive annoyance!

I soon got into the new routine. I can’t say how important it was that I brought my laptop and monitor home on 18 March. For the first week or so I had my work laptop alongside my home old but super-reliable Macbook. Then, it just occurred to me than one was distracting me from the other. I moved the work laptop into my dining room (obviously unused) and I’ve never looked back. A defined work area which is the workplace for quite a while.

The next thing that has made a big difference is having a disciplined approach. I’ve kept the alarm on for working days at 06:58. Time for a shower and breakfast before a start at 08:30 on the dot. Lunch is taken between 13:00 and 14:00 with no work during that time and then a finish at 17:00 for the Government’s press conference. The reality is that I return to work emails after then and into the evening but I can then treat them as outside the work bracket.

I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to rely on supplies from a combination of my milkman and my friends Paula and Sophie who have kept me well served. I suspect that my shielding is going to carry on for some time.

So, why am I shielding? I don’t fit any of the obvious categories but I have what is known as uncontrolled diabetes. I do blood tests each morning and they seem to bear little relation to my diet and drink. I might have a bit of a blast one evening and then have a good reading the following morning and then go for days eating all the right things and not drinking and nonetheless get very high readings – very frustrating.

I’m about to take delivery of an exercise bike. I know, but the downtime has made me think that I have to do something about it! I have the idea that I’ll be taking exercise while watching Royal Ascot and other racing. We’ll see!

So what has prompted me to write this post? Well, when I got my letter from the GP surgery advising me that I was in the “extreme” category I got absolutely no support. No priority for supermarkets or anything else. I got another message this evening, advising me to register again. I did so and, within moments, I got an email and text confirming that I have been prioritised for services. I suspect that this means that my isolation is going to go on for a while but at least there will be some proper support. I’ll be interested to see what the next few days bring!

Proper racing at last

I’m really looking forward to some proper racing tomorrow and over the weekend. This (displaced) weekend always reminds me of a visit a few years to the environs of Newmarket and a house called “The Guineas”, a very good name.

Had things been “normal” we would have been looking forward to the “Grand Steep” this weekend at Auteuil. Not to be but there is a decent replacement card with several of the support races relocated to Compiegne, with stars including L’autonomie and Carriacou.

Back in the UK the Coronation Cup is the highlight on Friday. I can’t have Ghaiyyath (current 13/8 favourite) and I fancy Stradivarius (3/1) to take this on the way to a repeat win in the Ascot Gold Cup (must be fit with the top flat trainer). It may seem remarkable that last year’s Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck, is 13/2 but the remainder of the season was a bit of a disaster, particularly the run at Sha Tin.

On Saturday I like Magic Lily (9/4) in the Dahlia (2.25 Newmarket) and, of course, Pinatubo (4/5) in the 2000 Guineas. That looks like incredibly good value to me and I might just break my rule to have an odds-on bet.

On Sunday Fanny Logan is surely a shoe-in for the 2.05 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock. Space Blues is also of interest in the 3.15. The current 3/1 looks like very good value for a well-travelled international horse that has been campaigned at the highest level.

Of course, the 1000 Guineas is the highlight on Sunday and I’m much more equivocal about this. On balance I’m going to go with Love (7/2) (the horse, not a philosophical position) for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, to beat Quadrilateral (a mathematical position).

Lucky 15


Magic Lily

Space Blues or Fanny Logan


Add Pinatubo if you want to go into big money. Potential return on the four selected – £585

Good luck!

Virtual Grand National Sweepstake

Just for CLB employees

Hi everyone. The Grand National is not happening but the “Virtual Grand National” is going to be broadcast live on Saturday on ITV when the National would have taken place, with the broadcast starting at 5.00 p.m. The powers that be have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that only those who made the programme know the outcome, such that most of the major bookmakers are accepting bets. You can bet with most of them to a maximum of £10 win and £10 each way and all proceeds will go to the NHS.

So, here is our free to enter and no cash prizes(!) sweepstake. I’ll check with Adam and, if you’re lucky, you might get one of our tiny plastic trophies from the social nights (if he’s got any left!). If successful you will have the glory of winning or being placed (1-2-3-4-5-6) and I’ll let everyone know on Facebook and Twitter! (as long as you’re happy with that).

So here are the entries

And here is the selector:

So, how does it work? I’ve downloaded a random number generator from 1-40 which will choose your number below. Please give the number shown. Because I’m making this up as I go along I’ll have to re-run it for numbers that have already been selected! So here it is. Have a go, you’ve got nothing to lose and you could be featured on our social media (only if you want to be!). To enter, you’ll need to email me your number to

[arandomnumber min=1 max=40]

Let’s generate a bit of social media interest! Let me know your horse and I’ll put it on our social media pages. I’ll keep you updated with the selections.

Good luck! I’ll update this page with the winners just after the race.

Oh, the times they are a’changing

I’ve stayed at home since last Wednesday. Going a bit spare – yes! I looked up to the sky at various times today when I wandered around in the garden, lonely as a cloud. So, with that in mind, here’s the Flightradar map of our area just now:

The only flights that are happening are emergency ones to get people to Ireland. Who needs a tunnel from the Isle of Skye?

If you saw the normal map for this area you would appreciate how different this is.

There is no limit to my respect for the people who are enabling these flights to take place. It’s a crap time for everyone but some of our greatest people are doing what needs to be done to get people to where they need to be!

Cheltenham 2020 – Thursday and Friday

It’s been a frustrating couple of days with four 2nds on Tuesday and just two winners on Wednesday. Very much a case, as is so often at Cheltenham, of what might have been! Nonetheless it’s been a decent couple of days’ racing, notwithstanding the absence of two of the main protagonists in the Champion Chase. The first two in the Champion Bumper (Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It) are no doubt destined for great things if they remain sound. My highlight of the week so far was Easysland’s win in the Cross Country.

Onwards and upwards!


13:30 Marsh Novices’ Chase

I’m really surprised that Itchy Feet*** (9/2) is such a short priced favourite. I tipped him last time out at 8/1 and I hope that he goes on to win this well. Equally, I hope that Faugheen (5/1) puts in a clear round, regardless of where he finishes. If he wins then that will be the highlight of the week and a genuinely momentous performance at the age of 12.

14:10 Pertemps Final

Embed from Getty Images

The Storyteller* (11/2) won the Plate at the Festival in 2018 on soft to heavy ground and I back him to follow up here. Another favourite but he’s obviously been laid out for this. Of the remainder I might have a little each way on Jatiluwih* at 20/1 for Corinthian amateur (but prolific winner) Mr David Maxwell. The jockey will have to be at his very best in a race like this but the field should have sorted itself out after two circuits in the home straight.

14:50 Ryanair Chase

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Earlier in the season I thought that I would be backing Frodon (5/1) to repeat his victory in this race last year. However, he’s not been quite the same horse this time round. There are many people who just will not see past A Plus Tard but I think that this ideal for Min*** (11/4) who is comfortably the top rated horse in this field (Timeform 185), who ran Chacun Pour Soi close last time out and for whom I think that this 2m 4 1/2f should be ideal at this stage of his career.

15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle

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There is absolutely no reason to look beyond defending champion Paisley Park***** (4/6) who has absolutely dominated this division and may very well be better than last year. One to watch and enjoy.

16:10 Brown Advisory Plate

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I don’t have a strong view about this race so, after deliberation and having decided that the favourite (Simply The Betts – 100/30) is much too short, I’m going to take a plunge and side with Siruh Du Lac* (18/1) notwithstanding that he was pulled up in his only outing this season. He won this race last year and is another who is likely to have been saved for the big day.

16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

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I think that this is a head to head between the front two in the market and, having been passed on a good word (at least three times removed!) I’ve opted for the favourite Minella Melody** (3/1).

17:30 Kim Muir Amateurs’ Chase

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I really have no idea at all about this one and won’t be having a bet. As a random selection I’ll choose Cloth Cap* (20/1 e/w) as an improver.


13:30 Triumph Hurdle

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Unlike the last race I have a very firm view about this one and one of my bets of the week is Goshen***** (7/2) who I think is a prodigious talent. Unbeaten over hurdles and on a seven-timer, he can jump right (like Asterion Forlonges!) but has top class in abundance. Likely to follow up on Envoi Allen and Easysland as one of the stars of the week.

14:10 County Hurdle

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Another favourite I’m afraid but I think that Ciel De Neige** (7/1) had the ideal prep in the Betfair Hurdle, coming second to Pic D’orhy, who would have been my choice had he run in the Champion Hurdle. However, it’s notable that of the J P McManus runners, Barry Geraghty is riding another inexperienced but potentially very good Willie Mullins horse, Saint Roi (currently 14/1), so watch out for a market move for that one.

14:50 Albert Bartlett Hurdle

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I thought all season that I would back current favourite Thyme Hill (7/2) whose preparation has been exemplary. However, I can’t resist being drawn to two other contenders, Harry Senior (8/1) and Ramses De Teillee (10/1). I was very taken with Harry Senior’s win on this course over 2m 4f in January. He was staying on to win well and the step up in trip should be ideal. I am concerned about Colin Tizzard’s form so far this week but I’ve been caught out by that in the past so I’m going to overlook it. Ramses De Teillee has an unusual profile for a race like this, having previously run in the Welsh and Aintree Nationals. He was fourth in a Grade 3 chase at Cheltenham last November but is a hardened campaigner who should be in the mix if, as is entirely possible, this turns out to be a bit of a slog. However, on balance, I’m siding with Harry Senior* who I think represents decent value at 8/1.

15:30 Gold Cup

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There are so many different ways to approach this race, so I’ve decided to apply a process of elimination. There are doubts about Colin Tizzard’s horses at the moment and Lostintranslation would have to bounce back from a very disappointing performance in the King George. I’ve never been a fan of Santini or Presenting Percy. I’ve decided that Kemboy isn’t quite good enough. So, at the head of the market, that leaves Al Boum Photo, Delta Work and Clan Des Obeaux.

Al Boum Photo (7/2)

The defending champion who could very well follow up. He’s had the same prep, with a nice rest before this race, and deserves to be 7/2 favourite.

Delta Work (9/2)

This admirable horse has a great CV. In his last five outings (in order) he beat Kemboy and Presenting Percy at the Dublin Racing Festival, Monalee in the Savills Chase, was fourth of five in the Down Royal Champion Chase, beat Discorama and A Plus Tard in the Punchestown Champion Novice Chase and was third to Topofthegame in last year’s RSA Chase. On balance I’ve decided that he’s just a tad below the very top level.

Clan Des Obeaux (7/1)

As an 8-y-o, he comes here direct from his easy victory over Cyrname in the King George. I think that the decent break is ideal for him. He was second to Road To Respect in the Down Royal Champion Chase but it’s reasonable to assume that this was nothing more than a pipe opener. People used to criticise Henrietta Knight for limiting Best Mate’s outings but the record speaks for itself. It was widely suggested that he didn’t stay in last year’s Gold Cup (“Looked well; tracked leaders, close 3rd 2 out, soon ridden, no extra from last”) but I think that the extra year will make all the difference.

Well, I’m sure that you’ve worked it out by now. I think that Clan Des Obeaux *** at 7/1 represents excellent value for Paul Nicholls (after having had no runners on day one) to take both of the major chases of the week. I recommend taking the price now because I think that he’ll be much shorter on the day.

16:10 Foxhunters’ Chase

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I think that this is much easier. I’ve watched all of Hazel Hill‘s**** (5/1) races this season, including the point at Sheriff Hutton, and I think that the defeat by Minella Rocco at Wetherby was no more than a blip, when outrun at the death. He won this well last year and followed up with a course and distance victory in the Mixed Open Gold Cup Final Hunters’ Chase two months later. A confident selection.

16:50 Grand Annual Chase

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I have a nasty habit of overlooking the last two races after what has preceded them. However, as I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I had an early selection for this one, current favourite Greaneteen** (5/1), another for Paul Nicholls. It’s odd for a Cheltenham favourite to have been last seen at Fakenham but he comfortably beat a Nicky Henderson/Trevor Hemmings horse, having previously won the generously named Scottish Champion Chase at Musselburgh. This is by far his stiffest test but Nicholls made clear in his pre-Cheltenham stable visit that he holds him in very high regard and, for what it’s worth, I agree. By the way, he’s unbeaten this season and definitively fits the bill as “progressive”.

17:30 Martin Pipe Conditionals’ Hurdle

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I flagged this one up a few weeks ago and, for once, I do have a keen selection for the Festival closer in the shape of Column Of Fire** (6/1 – initially advised at 9/1). He ran very well when third at the Dublin Racing Festival and, quite simply, fits the bill.


So, here they are:


  • 13:30 Itchy Feet
  • 14:10 The Storyteller (win) / Jatiluwih (e/w)
  • 14:50 Min
  • 15:30 Paisley Park
  • 16:10 Siruh Du Lac
  • 16:50 Minella Melody
  • 17:30 Cloth Cap


  • 13:30 Goshen (nap)
  • 14:10 Ciel De Neige
  • 14:50 Harry Senior
  • 15:30 Clan Des Obeaux
  • 16:10 Hazel Hill
  • 16:50 Greaneteen
  • 17:30 Column Of Fire

Good luck!

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