The Herald - Herald Sport - - Final Say -

EE Fiver and Big Ten­ner headed home (to Belfast) ear­lier this week. There was the usual to­ing and fro­ing as­so­ci­ated with such jour­neys: are the nap­pies packed? Where’s ma dumma, dad? Where’s ma jammies, Mrs Ten­ner Bet?

The com­plex­i­ties of man­ag­ing a two-year-old on an over­seas trip are mi­nor in con­trast to at­tempt­ing to place bets on the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val while in tran­sit.

Those who have at­tempted to deal with the foibles of an unco-op­er­a­tive mo­bile phone op­er­at­ing sys­tem, a lag­ging bookie’s web­site and a wrig­gling tod­dler will un­der­stand where I’m com­ing from. The rest can do one . . . for the time be­ing.

De­spite the ob­sta­cles placed in the Ten­ner Bet’s path, I man­aged to ne­go­ti­ate these fig­u­ra­tive fences with aplomb. So much so that punts on this week’s Fes­ti­val have been rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful with a 10/1 win­ner, an 8/1 win­ner and two 5/1 win­ners in the bank and a cou­ple of horses that placed but that, ad­mit­tedly, were backed to win.

Hav­ing wit­nessed at first hand the power of proper anal­y­sis of big fields at Chel­tenham (these came in the form of some rather en­light­en­ing emails), I feel con­fi­dent of pick­ing a win­ner in this af­ter­noon’s fea­ture race at Ut­tox­eter, The Mid­lands Na­tional. Hav­ing been spoiled with the Olympics of horse rac­ing in re­cent days, it feels a bit uned­i­fy­ing to talk up the mer­its of a race which is more park run than marathon.

Nev­er­the­less, there are def­i­nite trends that can be used to split the field into live con­tenders and no hop­ers. For ex­am­ple, I have read ex­perts claim that Ta­mar­in­bleu is wor­thy of re­spect given the David Pipe-tom Bel­lamy con­nec­tion.

How­ever, if we take age, form, weight and of­fi­cial rat­ing trends then the French-bred horse has no chance. In­deed, it ticks just one trend box: that of hav­ing raced four or more times this sea­son up to a max­i­mum of eight runs.

In ef­fect, what we are look­ing for is a horse aged be­tween 7 and 9. car­ry­ing less than 11st, first or sec­ond last time out and with an of­fi­cial rat­ing of 134 or less. Oh, of course, and one which has had be­tween four and eight runs this sea­son.

When all of those com­pa­ra­bles are ap­plied, we’re left with five con­tenders that tick ev­ery one of the statis­tic boxes. This race has tended to favour horses at the up­per end of the bet­ting but that trend went out of the win­dow last year when Pipe’s Minella Four Star took the hon­ours at 25/1.

The five are Roalco De Farges, Clash Duff, Mr Moss, Posh Bird and Jaunty Jour­ney. It will es­cape the at­ten­tion of no-one who has re­mained alert this far to learn that Clash Duff is the favourite and that Posh Bird, who will be part­nered by Scot­tish fe­male Lucy Alexan­der, is sec­ond favourite. The French horse is also in the reck­on­ing with Mr Moss and Jaunty Jour­ney the out­siders.

The pref­er­ence, though, is for the favourite who al­ready has the Devon Na­tional to his name with Jaunty Jour­ney the each-way pick. Se­lec­tions Clash Duff (8/1, gen­eral), Jaunty Jour­ney (16/1, gen­eral) Sea­son’s to­tal -£19.63

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