Martin Malone

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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

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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!

Cheltenham 2020 – Tuesday and Wednesday

The featured image this year is of former Arkle winner Footpad, a regular in this post in recent years, having won £650,000 in his career to date, and now sold to race in the United States.

As was the case last year, the going is of more interest this year than the standard good to soft. According to the latest Turftrax going report (14:00 on Monday) it is soft, good to soft in places on both the chase and hurdle courses and soft, heavy in places on the cross country. However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of the main courses are soft, with the good to soft confined to the end of the back straight. This should suit most horses but the preferences will be for those with winning form on similar ground, while disfavouring those who want properly good ground. 5mm of rain is forecast on Monday afternoon which should mean that it will be unchanged for Tuesday. It’s expected to dry out during the week.

19.30 Monday update. There has been much more rain than forecast, with more predicted for tomorrow morning. It must now be likely to be soft all over on Tuesday.

This year I’m delighted that my very good friend, racing sage and former Quatre Heures co-owner Gerry Rooney has kindly allowed me to add his day one selections. As usual, he’s picked a few at long odds (he’s got some very good form at this!).


13:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Asterion Forlonges (11/4f) is unbeaten, including his only two hurdle races, and is the current Timeform top rated (167p). He has a tendency to jump right, which obviously isn’t ideal, but he seems to be able to correct himself quickly and obviously has abundant talent.

Shishkin (in the same ownership) is second favourite at 100/30 and has not looked back since falling on his hurdles debut. He’s a fast finisher, ideally placed to pick off runners up the hill.

Abacadabras (13/2) is the most highly tried of the leading contenders and impressed when second to Envoi Allen, before winning a Grade 1 at Leopardstown.

Chantry House (7/1) has also impressed, winning over course and distance on his hurdles debut, before winning again in a decent novices’ hurdle at Newbury. This one could easily improve further to be in the mix.

Of the remainder, Fiddlerontheroof (7/1) and Elixir D’ainay (25/1) are of interest but probably not quite up to the standard of the market leaders.

My selections: Asterion Forlonges** (now 3/1) win and Chantry House* (7/1) each way (look out for the offers – as many as the first seven!)

Gerry’s selection: Chantry House (7/1)

14:10 Arkle Novices’ Chase

This is the first race in which I have a firm view. Current favourite and winner of the Irish Arkle, Notebook (3/1) is headstrong and could find things a bit too consistently fast for him. Cash Back (7/1) was second in that race. He has a tendency to jump to the right. Of the British runners I prefer Maire Banrigh (12/1) to Brewin’upastorm (11/2). The former does not have the likely profile of an Arkle winner but is unbeaten over fences (Huntingdon, Doncaster, Warwick and Stratford) and will definitely stay.

My idea of the winner is Fakir D’oudairies (9/2) (167p). Another who will be suited by the ground, he won the Grade 1 Drinmore over 2m 4f at Fairyhouse and was second to Notebook at the Dublin Racing Festival. I think that this one is the most talented in the field and, as a 5-y-o experienced chaser, has room for rapid improvement.

My selections: Fakir D’oudairies*** (9/2) win and Maire Banrigh** (12/1) each way.

Gerry’s selection: Fakir D’oudairies (9/2)

14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase

I don’t have a strong view about this race. I think that Vinndication is the right favourite at 13/2 and should relish both ground and trip. However, he’s carrying top weight and was only 5th of 10 in his only previous outing at Cheltenham (in last year’s JLT).

A lot of people like The Conditional (8/1) off only 10st 6lbs, mainly because of his second in the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury but that wasn’t a top class renewal and I’m not convinced.

My very marginal preference is for Kildisart (10/1) who has been campaigned at a high level, runs off 11st 3lbs, and won well in a similar race at last year’s Grand National meeting. First time cheekpieces may help.

My selection: Kildisart* (10/1) each way

Gerry’s selection: Cogry (28/1)

15:30 Champion Hurdle

There has been much discussion about how this is a below par renewal and it’s fair to say that the field would not look out of place in a decent handicap. However, that makes for a very interesting race with lots of cases to be made.

I’m against current favourite Epatante (3/1). She was an easy 5 lengths winner of the recognised trial, the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on soft ground, and gets the 7lbs mares’ allowance. However, she was 9th of 22 on her only previous outing at Cheltenham (Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle) when going off at 15/8f.

I’m even more against second favourite Pentland Hills (13/2). Although he won last year’s Triumph and Aintree 4-y-o hurdles, the transition from four to five can be problematic for some and he’s been underwhelming this season. He was fifth in the International Hurdle here last December and was beaten last time out by Ballyandy at Haydock. He’s had a wind operation since then but there are too many question marks for me.

Cilaos Emery (15/2) has reverted to hurdles after failing to shine as a chaser. He’s been supplemented for this race at a cost of 22,500 euros, is trained by Willie Mullins and definitely has the ability to win. I think that he’ll be a much shorter price before the off.

Supasundae (11/1) is now 10 years old but has consistently run well against the best, will definitely stay and has winning Grade 1 form. I see him running into a place.

Of the remainder, Darver Star (12/1) is a big improver, Sharjah (14/1) probably won’t like the ground, Coeur Sublime (16/1) is good but not top notch and Call Me Lord (20/1) is another that’s just below top grade.

Ballyandy (20/1) is an ultra reliable horse who, in my view, is seriously overpriced. Third to Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle, beat Pentland Hills in the Haydock trial, proven on soft, a strong finisher and has run well at Cheltenham, he ticks the boxes for me.

My selections: Cilaos Emery* (15/2) win and Ballyandy** (20/1) each way.

Gerry’s selection: Ballyandy (20/1)

16:10 Mares’ Hurdle

The banker of the day is Benie Des Dieux (3/5). She has won all eight completed starts for Willie Mullins with her only defeat coming in this race last year when falling at the last and looking all over the winner.

Honeysuckle (11/4) is her stiffest test yet against her own sex but has a sticky jumping style and lost serious ground over the hurdles, although to her credit overcoming that to win the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out.

My selection: Benie Des Dieux***** (3/5)

Gerry’s selection: Benie Des Dieux (3/5)

16:50 Novices’ Handicap Chase

This is a race that could easily turn up a long odds winner, but which one? Since I’ve no idea I’m just going to take a look at two towards the head of the market as possibles.

Galvin (8/1) runs for Gordon Elliott and is ridden by Davy Russell. He was sixth in last year’s Ballymore but was always likely to shape up more as a chaser. He’s been kept largely under the radar, performing creditably in a beginners’ and a novices’ chase when treated “gently” and has been kept away since his last outing in November. Regular followers of Gordon Elliott will recognise the profile!

Espoir De Guye (8/1) has progressed very nicely for Venetia Williams since moving from France. He’s on a three-timer and, unsurprisingly for the trainer, has winning form on soft and heavy ground.

My selection: Galvin* (8/1)

Gerry’s selection: Trainwreck (12/1)

17:30 National Hunt Amateurs’ Chase

Much discussed after last year’s attritional renewal which has led to changes in the conditions, this is an excellent way to finish day one.

Carefully Selected (9/4) has been aimed for this race by Willie Mullins and is, by some way, the classiest horse in the field. He was placed in Grade 1 bumpers and hurdles and has an unblemished record over fences, including a Grade 3 novices’ chase last time out at Naas. He’ll stay, will have no problem with the ground and has the significant benefit of Patrick Mullins on board. His only blemish is that he does have a tendency to clatter the odd one but he’s clever and it’s not stopped him so far.

I’d like to find some opposition but I can’t see past the favourite.

My selection: Carefully Selected**** (9/4)

Gerry’s selection: Lord Du Mesnil (13/2)


13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Many people’s idea of the banker of the week is Envoi Allen (11/8) and I’m one of them. There are no chinks in his armour. He won all four of his bumpers, including last year’s Champion Bumper, and all three hurdle races this season, including two Grade 1s. He’s running over his ideal distance of 2m 4f (having been considered for the Supreme) and is rated 168P by Timeform.

I expected him to be a much shorter price and he’s currently drifting slightly but, subject to any late news, that’s fine with me.

Of the remainder, Sporting John (7/2) is very progressive. Beware of the names in this race! The Big Getaway (Mullins/Townend) and The Big Breakaway (Tizzard/Power) are both next in the market at 13/2 and, of them, I prefer the latter.

Selection: Envoi Allen***** win.

14:10 RSA Novices’ Chase

Ante post favourite for this race at the start of the season, for me, Battleoverdoyen (12/1) has been slightly underwhelming in his recent outings, putting in workmanlike, albeit winning, performances, before falling last time out in the Grade 1 Flogas Novices’ Chase.

Another who fell last time out (here) is the highly touted Champ (7/2jf), second in last year’s Ballymore. He treats his fences with disdain and I’m far from confident that he’ll deliver a clear round at this highest level.

Last year’s winner of the Albert Bartlett is Minella Indo (7/2jf). Widely tipped at the preview nights, he’s been seen in two fairly low profile beginners’ chases (second and first) and this is a massive step up in chase company. He’s 14lbs behind Champ on Timeform ratings, albeit with “a big P”, but has it all to prove.

Although also in a beginners’ chase, Allaho (9/2) for Mullins and Townend was a really impressive winner last time out at Fairyhouse and looks to have loads of potential for improvement.

Copperhead for Colin Tizzard is another that has attracted tipster support and has recently shortened in the market to join Allaho at 9/2.

Selection: Allaho** win.

14:50 Coral Cup

Take your pick! Although I have no strong views, two to consider from the field are Birchdale (10/1) and Eglantine Du Seuil (20/1), the latter having won last year’s Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at 50/1, thereby demonstrating aptitude at the course.

Selection: Eglantine Du Seuil* each way.

15:30 Champion Chase

Will Altior (3/1) take part after his minor setback at the weekend? It doesn’t make a great deal of difference to me because he wasn’t going to be my selection in any event. From being the very best jumps horse in training I take the view that he peaked about 18 months ago, notwithstanding that that he’s seeking a hat-trick.

Defi Du Seuil (7/4f) is a grand horse and has a very strong chance of winning this race. He won last year’s JLT and has won all his subsequent races (two Grade 1s and a Grade 2) – except – when he was beaten by Chacun Pour Soi at last year’s Punchestown Festival. There’s everything to like about him.

So, on to Chacun Pour Soi (5/2). He’s been very lightly raced and had a 1219 days’ break when moving from Emmanuel Clayeux to Willie Mullins. However, perseverance has paid off and I think that he’s one of the very best National Hunt horses currently racing. I’m pleased to see that Timeform agrees and have him top rated at 187p. I could not have been more impressed with his last time out win, beating Min at the Dublin Racing Festival in a very fast time. All over the winner to me.

Outside the top three it’s 20/1 bar.

Selection: Chacun Pour Soi***** win

16:10 Cross Country Chase

There are some well-known names behind the market leaders in this race, including Might Bite (14/1) and Yanworth (16/1). However, if you’re not a keen follower of racing and you’re attracted by the familiarity of the names, beware, they’re here because connections have run out of other ideas.

Although it may seem like sacrilege, I’m opposing Tiger Roll (11/10), although heart over head I’d love to see him win easily as an ideal prep for the Grand National. There have been no negative vibes about him, quite the opposite, and his fifth in the Boyne Hurdle was a perfectly respectable return.

However… he faces a seriously good opponent in the shape of Easysland (100/30) for David Cottin and cross country specialist jockey Jonathan Plouganou. He’s on a seven-timer and comfortably won the cross country here last December. I watched his subsequent race at Pau (on TV) when he won as easily as you like. J P McManus was clearly also impressed because he bought him between those races, no doubt with this in mind.

Selection: Easysland*** win

16:50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

I’ve never been a fan of this race since it was introduced a few years ago and, to be honest, I’ve paid little attention to it. Subject to that, I think that current favourite Aramax (6/1) and Blacko (16/1) are quite closely matched so, on prices alone, I’ll opt for the latter.

Selection: Blacko* win

17:30 Champion Bumper

It’s the bumper and therefore time for another Willie Mullins hotpot, but this time I think that he’s the real deal. If you wanted to see the ideal prep race it was delivered in the shape of Appreciate It’s (2/1) mightily impressive win in the Future Stars Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival on 1 February (a race won last year by Envoi Allen). If you can, see if you can find a reply of the race finish and you’ll see what I mean. For the places, David Pipe has a strong hand with Panic Attack – a big money purchase from Willie Mullins’ yard – and Israel Champ (both 11/1).

Selection – Appreciate It***** win

Summary and a Lucky 31(!) (with updated prices)


  • Supreme – Asterion Forlonges** (3/1)
  • Arkle – Fakir D’oudairies*** (9/2)
  • Ultima – Kildisart* (10/1)
  • Champion Hurdle – Cilaos Emery* (15/2)
  • Mares’ Hurdle – Benie Des Dieux***** (3/5)
  • Novices’ Chase – Galvin* (8/1)
  • NH Chase – Carefully Selected**** (9/4)


  • Ballymore – Envoi Allen***** (11/8)
  • RSA – Allaho** (9/2)
  • Coral Cup – Eglantine Du Seuil* (20/1 each way)
  • Champion Chase – Chacun Pour Soi***** (5/2)
  • Cross Country – Easysland*** (100/30)
  • Fred Winter – Blacko* (16/1)
  • Champion Bumper – Appreciate It***** (2/1)

Lucky 31

So, not content with a Lucky 15, I’ve opted for a Lucky 31! Five selections, 31 bets at £1.00 each = £31 and they are:

  • Benie Des Dieux
  • Carefully Selected
  • Envoi Allen
  • Chacun Pour Soi
  • Appreciate It

…to deliver £468.17. (A Lucky 15 (£15) without Carefully Selected will currently deliver £120.18 with a full house.)

Good luck!

Racing Post tips for Cheltenham


13.30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – Abacadabras (5/1)

14:10 Arkle – Notebook (5/2)

14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase – Mister Malarky (10/1)

15:30 Champion Hurdle – Ballyandy (20/1)

16:10 Close Bros. Mares’ Hurdle – Benie Des Dieux (4/6)

16:50 Northern Trust Novices’ Handicap Chase – Imperial Aura (11/2)

17:30 National Hunt Chase (Amateurs) – Carefully Selected (7/4)


13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Envoi Allen (5/4)

14:10 RSA Novices’ Chase – Minella Indo (100/30)

14:50 Coral Cup – Kilfenora (20/1)

15:30 Champion Chase – Defi Du Seuil (2/1)

16:10 Cross Country Chase – Tiger Roll (10/11)

16:50 Boodles (Fred Winter) Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – Tronador (14/1)

17:30 Champion Bumper – Israel Champ (11/1)


13:30 Marsh Novices’ Chase – Faugheen (5/1)

14:10 Pertemps Final – Skandiburg (12/1)

14:50 Ryanair Chase – Frodon (5/1)

15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle – Paisley Park (4/6)

16:10 Brown Advisory Plate – Ben Dundee (10/1)

16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Minella Melody (11/4)

17:30 Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Amateurs) – No Comment (10/1)


13:30 Triumph Hurdle – Mick Pastor (12/1)

14:10 County Handicap Hurdle – Saglawy (25/1)

14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Thyme Hill (9/2)

15:30 Gold Cup – Kemboy (7/1)

16:10 Foxhunters’ Chase – Hazel Hill (9/2)

16:50 Grand Annual Handicap Chase – Lisp (9/1)

17:30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys) – The Bosses Oscar (12/1)

Beware when placing your Cheltenham bets

There have been suspensions of gambling companies in recent weeks, including high profile company Matchbook ( and lesser known MoPlay, which has declared that it is insolvent and has stopped account withdrawals with little prospect of any returns, including funds deposited, for users.

Mr Green (you’ve probably seen the TV adverts) is part of William Hill plc and was recently fined £3.9m for failing to prevent harm and in respect of money laundering.

The Horseracing Bettors Forum has provided helpful guidance about the level of protection available:

Proceed with care, particularly with those graded as “Not Protected” including, ironically “Betsafe”!

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