The Punter: Benny’s bargain worth a bet
Ebadiyan is a certainty for tomorrow’s Triumph Hurdle according to trainer extraordinaire Oliver ‘Up Monaghan’ Brady.
And who would deny this ebullient, loquacious storyteller his moment of glory and tale of romance?
For the past few weeks, he has been regaling all those who care to listen, that it will be a grey day at Cheltenham when Ebadiyan lands this prize in memory of Oliver’s brother Benny who died of cancer.
And it is that charity which will benefit as Oliver himself has had to battle against the disease.
The Cheltenham audience and the Queen – if she is present for the Gold Cup – will see nothing like it as Oliver indefatigable spirit will take over proceedings.
Oliver was told by his business partner Rita Shah to “Go and buy a grey in Benny’s memory.”
Benny loved greys and bet on nothing else and he must have been playing a part when Oliver bought the horse for £18,000 when it went into the ring at more than £100,000 but was turned down twice by a vet.
Oliver is never one to miss a bargain and he believes in fate and “whatever is for you, won’t go past you!”
And he has had his punt with €250 each-way at 100-1, with all winnings go to charity. The horse is currently 10-1.
He simply won’t hear of defeat and has already prepared his victory speech.
The four-year-old is by former classy Flat star Daylami and was given to Oliver by none other than John Oxx who felt that the horse was ideal for Brady and “He could do something with him.”.
So far Oliver has done just that and the grey won well at Leopardstown.
He was beaten last time out by both Jumbo Rio and Mourad who oppose Ebadiyan again.
However, Cheltenham will suit the grey much better especially the uphill finish.
It is not an easy race to win and Nicky Henderson who won the Champion Hurdle with Punjabi, is very sweet on Zaynar - another grey who has speed to burn.
Let’s hope it is a real grey day but for all the right reasons.
Meanwhile, David Pipe junior will be all out to win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and will have Big Eared Fran who warmed up for the race with a neat win last time out, cherry ripe.
He will be around 6-1 and should be a bet to nothing as each-way will ensure a small profit.
Bensalem must have a good chance for Alan King in the Alan Barlett Novices Hurdle over three miles.
He came close to lowering the colours of Diamond Harry last time out and the latter ran well to be third in the Ballymore Hurdle yesterday behind the Irish favourite Mikael D'Haguenet.
Now for Master hat-trick
Master Minded may not have been as visually impressive as in 2008 but the Paul Nicholls-trained chaser retained his Champion Chase crown in effortless fashion by seven lengths yesterday and is now quoted at 4-6 by Stan James to complete the hat-trick next year.
And that looks more than likely as there is not another two-miler anywhere who can get near him.
Earlier, Willie Mullins had a double courtesy of the brilliant Mikael D'Haguenet in the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle (who has now earned a quote of 7-1 for the 2010 RSA Chase) and Cooldine who ran out a most impressive winner of the RSA Chase and earned a quote of 6-1 for the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Mikael D’Haguenet showed himself to be a horse with a very big future.
This is the same race Istabraq and Hardy Eustace won before going onto Champion Hurdle glory but it is likely that D’Haguenet will go chasing sooner rather than later.
A Gold Cup awaits two years down the road, all being well.
Nicholls can get Gold Star again
Paul Nicholls dominated the Gold Cup last year training the first three home headed by that magnificent display by Denman.
Whether the champion can retain his crown is open to question and the critics are lining up after his failure at Kempton.
But that run is best forgotten and in hindsight it was not so bad for a horse who hates running right-handed and had not seen action since that Gold Cup victory.
If he is in the same form as 12 months ago, he will definitely win and at 11-2 is certainly worth an each-way interest.
However, he may have reached his peak with that victory which could just have taken the sap out of him and hence the defibrillating heart problems which came later.
No horse has come back to regain the Gold Cup after being beaten in the race and that is one stat Kauto Star has to overcome.
But statistics are there to be ridiculed and Kauto, who has top class form that really should see him starting at odds-on, has to be the one to knock down.
Everyone thought that he would not come back from his defeat in 2008 but of course, he has with another King George victory. And that race is a good guide to Gold Cup success, having produced six of the last nine winners.
With Ruby Walsh on board and at 2-1, a Gold Star can rise in racing’s firmament for a second time.
In fact, search out a bookie who will give you odds about Nicholls having the 1-2-3 once more.
The grey Neptune Collonges would have caught Kauto for second last years and he cannot be ruled out of calculations (5-1).
Totesport Gold Cup betting: 2-1 Kauto Star, 5-1 Neptune Collonges, 11-2 Denman, 8-1 Madison Du Berlais, 10-1 Exotic Dancer, 14-1 bar.