They’re off and running at Cheltenham

No surprises at Cheltenham’s opening Showcase meeting today, in terms of Festival prospects, with Snap Tie and Barizan both justifying hot favouritism. Snap Tie’s jumping was OK in the main although not spectacular and he pulled out a little more on the run in to hold his stablemate Safari Journey at bay. Barizan proved he can act around Cheltenham having won his four previous races this season on flat tracks, although his hurdling was somewhat novicey at times, particularly at the second last.

You have to say that Snap Tie and Barizan barely improved their Festival prospects and there is a long way to go. I would suggest they’ll both be minor players in the pecking order of Festival contenders by end January. You can’t help thinking that they won’t be good enough come March – year after year early contenders like these two fall by the wayside so neither are ante-post contenders for me.

The bookmakers tend to agree. Only Boylesports shortened Snap Tie (from 20/1 to 14/1) with Victor Chandler moving him out the other way (14/1 to 20/1). There was no change in Barizan’s odds and 33/1 is available with VC, but I won’t be beating down Victor’s door.

I came across three Irish lads in the Hall Of Fame who were all asleep! Clearly, they weren’t that enthused by the card. I thought it was OK and it’s a great idea to kick off the season over a weekend, rather than a sleepy weekday which was the case up until two years ago.

Earlier this week Sizing Europe won impressively at Punchestown but again he will probably be eclipsed by better performers as the season progresses.

I was sad to hear this morning of the death of Inglis Drever, triple winner of the World Hurdle. Always popular at Cheltenham he was retired last season.

Is that a monster coming over the hill? No! It’s Inglis Drever. RIP.