On many occasions this past year I’ve found myself singing the theme tune to early 1990s American sitcom Hangin’ with Mr Cooper. Whilst that show, however, centres on zany NBA player-turned-substitute-teacher/gym coach Mark Cooper, my singing of the catchy number (which I didn’t realise until now was recorded by hot quartet En Vogue) has been precipitated by a Bryan Cooper win over the sticks. I think he may well have two or three today and, despite the cough, I’ve been warming up the vocal chords.
Another one who has two solid chances this afternoon is Richard Johnson. In the era of AP McCoy, Johnson has never had the opportunity to be champion jockey but has consistently performed, has over 2000 winners in the bag and, along with Barry Geraghty is one of only two active riders who have claimed all four championship races at the Cheltenham Festival. The perfect, patient, peach of a ride he gave Pateese a couple of weeks ago at Ffos Las illustrated his talent for horsemanship and I've had my eyes peeled for a Dicky J opportunity to get stuck into ever since. So with that in mind...
4.20 - Gassin Golf - Johnson's horse is in receipt of 7lbs from market leaders Call me Bubble and Viconte du Noyer, Mullins's double-handed attack on the 2m hurdle. Gassin Golf's trainer, Richard Lee has not entered a nag over jumps in Ireland for more than a decade. Jockey booking and trainer decision adds significance to this one.
4.55 - Seefood - Cooper's first booking of the afternoon on board Aintree Mersey Novices' Hurdle placer who finished behind Gary Moore's 22/1 outsider that day, Ubak. Dropping back in trip here, if the ground quickens up I think he might be worth an each-way bet.
5.30 - First Lieutenant - this is a really difficult one to fathom out. Following his Ryanair runner-up finish and subsequent Aintree Betfred Bowl victory, I don't want to abandon Cooper's horse now. Without Bob's Worth, this race could be won by pretty much everyone (apart, perhaps, from Chicago Grey and Quito de la Roque, but even he is C&D here after novice win two terms ago). Will also be each way on Kauto Stone who, with 88 days' rest, is the freshest contender going in at a big price. Tom Segal has picked Richard Johnson's massive opportunity of the day: Captain Chris. He's also recommended backing Riverside Theatre, both of these selections seem to like it flat and right-handed. Long Run has still never finished outside the top 3, but he's a bit short in the betting isn't he? Might just lay Sir Des Champs, who laboured over the finishing line up the Cheltenham hill, and get the rest of the field on side.... but all the trends say Sir Des will win! So tricky... Paddy Power will refund bets if you come second to Sir Des Champs though.. could be an option.
6.40 - Much easier! Rubi Light I like, but gives a lot of weight to the rest of the field. I'll be backing Mr Cooper's Canaly and having a saver on Nadiya de la Vega.
7.15 - sentimental one in the bumper really - Overwater - half-sister to Soll and the trainer expects more from her, although the jockey booking of Miss K Walsh adds a little bit of more serious anticipation.
Finally, I also like Donald McCain's Kie, who's running in the four-horse 4.35 race at Perth this afternoon,
Yesterday was OK. I got a bit carried away after Zest for Life’s victory, using the profit to weigh in on Champagne Fever in-running after Rule the World was ruled unable to continue (reports subsequently emerged of a non-critical pelvic fracture). The Spinter Sacre / Sizing Europe exacta provided an inevitable boost and simply added to Henderson’s beast’s untouchable spectre. My £82.50 Lucky 15 gave back £30.
Champagne Fever is owned by recently “retired” Barclays banking boss Rich Ricci, an appropriately-named chap some of whose horses seem to have appropriated names, like cork-popping Fever himself and Fatcatinthehat. He owns the favourite in today’s 4.55: Ballycasey. Searching a winner yesterday, I backed Ricci’s Moyle Park, who brought back £80 of winnings for me and £15,447 for him. He’ll be able to buy a new cat and a new hat with that. Happy retirement Rich!