THE sound of bubbles being popped – some of them my own! – echoed around Cheltenham after Trials Day.
One major hope in Protektorat saw his Gold Cup hopes take a blow when beaten by Ahoy Senor in the Cotswold Chase.
But I am not losing faith in my each-way ticket for the big race just yet.
Trainer Dan Skelton insists he didn’t have his star fully tuned up and he’ll be a different horse next month.
Let’s hope so as his earlier form was strong enough to match last season’s Gold Cup third.
You may think I’m mad but I’ve had another little each-way nibble at the 16-1 on offer.
While Ahoy Senor came home in front, third home Noble Yeats is definitely the one to take out of the race.
The Grand National winner was giving weight to the winner and second home Sounds Russian and was definitely gaining on them up the run-in.
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He’ll reverse this form in March and that gives him a big chance of making the frame too.
We’ll have to see how Galopin Des Champs gets on this weekend at the Dublin Racing Festival as he leads the market at 13-8.
Il Ridoto managed to win over 2m4f in the Premier Handicap and it was a deserved victory after a couple of good runs here this season.
He did it nicely and jumped superbly but I think the stronger pace he’s likely to meet at the Festival could still find him out and I think the extra furlong of the Festival Plate just may be a little too much.
I know I’m like a cracked record but how good was Epatante when winning at Doncaster?
She didn’t come off the bridle in winning a Grade 2 without breaking sweat.
It does increasingly look like she’ll be going for the Mares’ Hurdle but, on the back of this effort, she is clearly the second-best hurdler on this side of the Irish Sea and I wouldn’t put it past owner JP McManus to go for the big one.
Come on JP, go for the glory!
Another horse I am backing each-way for the Festival is SAINT SEGAL in the Grand Annual Chase.
Jane Williams’ five-year-old has run just three times over fences, winning his first two, before an excellent second behind the talented Malystic in a hot handicap chase at Doncaster on Saturday.
He was a little unlucky in the run and had to make up a lot of ground from the last two fences, with the line coming half a length too soon.
Offers of 25-1 for the Grand Annual look more than fair and I’ve had a small interest.
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Saint Segal each-way in the Grand Annual at 25-1
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