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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tied Up in Knotts Over Hunt Ball

Before I begin, Chance du Roy runs in the 4.25 at Haydock today – I’m on 1pt e/w at 4-1.

Now, If you haven’t already seen Matt Chapman’s interview with Anthony Knott on At The Races, I implore you to view it:

Knott: farmer, one-time winning jockey, and now an owner who backs his own horse Hunt Ball with rhetoric and roubles alike, is everything we love about racing here at Palphabet.  His boundless enthusiasm for the sport has seen him recently jump on board Hunt Ball after victory at Wincanton and he famously celebrated his only win as a rider by punching the air and gesticulating to onlookers.  This is all well and good, only Anthony chose to do it with a furlong and a half left to travel on Wise Men Say, with other horses just a length or two away and whilst adopting one of the most unconventional horse riding techniques I have ever seen...Well, it had taken him 28 years to get a winner.  Again, I implore you to watch this race (fast-forward to 4:00 into THIS clip and then watch Nick Luck try to make sense of it all in the post-race interview on RUK) - hilarious!
Going back to that ATR interview, Chapman failed in his attempts to coax out of Knott the race into which Hunt Ball will next be entered.  Seeing as I’m attending Ladies’ Day and the Grand National Saturday at Aintree in a few weekends time, I certainly hope we see him in the flesh there, so that I can follow Knott and “lump on” again:

I'm pleased to say I was on Hunt Ball on Day 1 of the Festival
As I type, sponsor’s spokesman Mark Pearson is on talkSPORT coyly mutering about HB’s chances in the Aintree Betfred Bowl - they haven't chalked up a market for it yet - whilst shows he is as short as 20-1 for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.  The handicapper has raised him over 70lbs, more than five stone since he started his winning spree and he continues to deliver.. only time will tell how long this can go on!
Eschewing a good think, and instead going with my gut again, I’ve put together my nominees for the Palphabet Alpha Moments of the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.   Please post your answers or alternatives in the comments box below - I did try to embed a proper poll, but I couldn't work out how to do it :-(

Ride of the Festival

1.     Barry Geraghty on Riverside Theatre – Ryanair Chase

2.     Ruby Walsh on Big Buck’s – Ladbrokes World Hurdle

3.     AP McCoy on Synchronised – Betfred Gold Cup

Shocker / Grimace of the Festival

1.     Cotton Mill’s refusal to jump the second-last Neptune hurdle

2.     The Cross Country Course Deaths

3.     The final-fence debacle in the Champion Chase

Greg Wood's Blog is worth a read on some of these matters - it wasn't a bad week so don't wish to overplay the dramas...

Man / Gelding of the Festival

1.     Nicky Henderson

2.     Barry Geraghty

3.     Synchronised

Woman / Mare / Filly of the Festival

1.     Quevega

2.     Alice Plunkett

3.     Eve McCoy (after telling her dad to "pull his finger out")

Moment of the Festival

1.     Anthony Knott’s celebration – “Bugger the cows!”

2.     Spontaneous applause for a champion – Kauto Star being pulled up in the Gold Cup

3.     Sprinter Sacre’s emergence as the most exciting chaser in racing

4.     Big Buck’s

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