Entries debate continues to roar after the festival.
After four days of unbelievably exciting racing, many debates have been thrown up which look to make changes to entries before next year's showpiece. One of the big discussion points surrounds how many entries a single horse should be allowed (but how are we going to Play 'Willie Mullins bingo!?!?') . This year we saw some horses entered in as many as five races, connections do this for simple reasons; they don't want to limit their options with so many factors still to take in to consideration (i.e. ground, distance, opposition) but the big question is, "is it fair?"
It would be flippant of us to down play the importance that betting plays in supporting racing, and with many bookmakers, producing special offers and encouraging punters to bet antepost at all major festivals this multiple entry approach certainly confuses things and causes a drop in turnover. In regards to gossip and talking points, it's great to have the debate as to where a certain horse will run, but when it potentially costs punters money (when betting all in run or not), it undoubtedly puts punters off backing antepost. It's true that many bookmakers eventually offer non-runner no net, but this often only applies to as late as the week prior to a race, and by this point odds are shorter taking any value out of the bet anyway.
With regards to attracting increased numbers of racegoers, British racing is going through a project with the change of terrestrial television rights shifting to ITV. There's a big push to try and get racing to make the back pages more frequently and to increase the numbers who attend race days. If we treat racing as a product that we are trying to sell to the general public, then meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival should be one of the pinnacles of the sport when all eyes are focused on racing. Unfortunately this multi entry approach doesn't help as a general rule of thumb is that people want to know what they're paying for before parting with their money. Many racing fans have favourite horses, horses they have an affinity with and feel a connection too but if they have to guess which day of the festival to attend it can't help matters.
One further point that many people seem to be overlooking is that this multi-entry system sadly lends itself to what is in essence cheating. With millions being won on major festivals antepost, it's plain to see that many millions are also lost. It's easy for connections to pinpoint a certain race, enter the horse into various races, garner a decent price in the bookmakers whilst the question remains as to its final entry and bet accordingly. It's even easier for connections to allude to running in a certain race which in fact they have no interest in actually running in (despite its entry). It's happened many times before, even with some of the "bigger" and more prolific yards. A recent poll was conducted to see how many entries a horse should be allowed at a major festival. Answers included: "No more than two", "three to four" or "five plus". There was a clear and overwhelming winner as 78% voted for a maximum of two entries to be allowed.
Whether or not the BHA puts any amendments into place is hard to judge, but as a racing fan it's slightly comforting that they're at least having the discussion. What do you think, should there be amendments to the number of races a horse can enter at a major festival?
Bailey still convinced by Charbel's Arkle heroics.
One of the heroes of this years Cheltenham Festival was Nicky Henderson's Arkle Chase winner Altior. A huge antepost favourite, the long odds-on shot won as expected but not without some controversy.
Leading into the closing stages and jumping the penultimate fence Kim Bailey's Charbel was leading the race before crashing to the ground. Since the race was run Bailey has been bullish that Charbel would've won the race. Obviously we will never know, but many punters are eagerly awaiting Charbel's next target as his talent is now well and truly "out of the bag".
Looking towards the future Bailey has stated "He seems to have come out of Cheltenham absolutely fine. He cantered (on Tuesday) and again (on Wednesday morning) and we're happy with him.
I'm not sure whether he'll run again this season, I've thought plenty about it but I haven't made a decision and we've got another couple of weeks to decide." The talented six year old will no doubt will be a much shorter price than he was in the Arkle no matter where he lines up next!
Geraghty on the comeback trail with Aintree in mind.
One of jumps racing's favourite faces sadly wasn't on show at Cheltenham, as leading rider Barry Geraghty was ruled out of last week's festival for the first time in his glittering career after he suffered a collapsed lung and six broken ribs in a fall at Kempton at the end of February. Geraghty feels his condition has improved in the last couple of weeks and hopes to return to the saddle in time for Aintree's three day meeting. "I'll have a scan in the next week and I should get a better idea after that," the jockey told reporters. "Aintree is the target and it's definitely coming along. We'll see what the specialist says and go from there."
It's been announced that favourite for the Champion Hurdle; Yanworth could step up in trip at Aintree. He had to settle for seventh behind fellow JP McManus-owned runner Buveur D'Air, which on the face of it was mightily disappointing,Trainer Alan King said: "I think it looked as if he does want more of a trip. He travelled very well early on but they didn't go very quick and down the hill he was caught flat-footed, then stayed on up the hill. If we run him again, I would imagine we go two and a half at Aintree. If not, that would be him and he will go chasing next season. He was jumping big, which is why we put the cheekpieces on. He looked like he had run an awful race, but he stayed on well up the hill and with another few strides would have been sixth, I'm pretty pleased with the way he finished the race off." And connections are still excited about hi future as it's been confirmed he'll head over bigger obstacles next term.