Cheltenham Report

February 19th, 2016 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

The news on Wednesday that Faugheen sustained an injury and would miss the Champion Hurdle perfectly illustrates the importance of timing in the horseracing business. As I have said before, both in my published and online work and Cheltenham conferences, it is when trainers ask their Festival contenders to step up their work that things can go wrong. Faugheen has always been a delicate horse – he missed the Festival Bumper in his first season under Rules – and both trainer and owner have hinted that the horse has had back problems. An issue of this nature can lead to ‘referred pain’  as the horse puts greater emphasis on other parts of its body to compensate for the sensitive area, and this may have been a factor with Faugheen.

Having noted how stagnant the ante-post market has been in recent weeks, due to both the dominance of horses trained by Willie Mullins, and the uncertainty over their targets, I was staggered to read in Alastair Down’s piece in Thursday’s Racing Post that he was talking to someone on Tuesday who had backed a “shedload of Willie Mullins contenders” in multiples that stood to win him £486,000 – just shy of half-a-million pounds! Subsequent information from bookmakers reveals that there had been plenty of interest in the combination first-day bet on the four Mullins’ contenders, with Faugheen obviously the banker leg.

It is for this reason that we publish the Cheltenham Festival Bulletin Book on the Thursday before the meeting starts – as late as possible, but in time for clients to enjoy a good read over the weekend. After over four decades we have a finely-honed operation, with my copy at the printer on the Monday eight days before the start of the meeting. They then turn the book around in two days so it is back with us for despatch on Thursday – sometimes even a day earlier.

It is a remarkable team effort from everyone here and together with the Daily Communiques and Supplements, available to subscribers to the full package, our service ensures that our clients are privy to the very latest news on runners, targets and that all-important state of the going!

News is coming through on an hourly basis for this great meeting, notably for the handicaps which, as you know, are a favourite and specialist area of interest for me.

With the meeting less than four weeks away I will keep you updated with more thoughts as and when …

Bye for now

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