TOP racing tipster Kevan Minter, known as The Colonel, gives Mercury readers his top tips for the weekend ahead. Kevan, who lives in Stamford, is trackside most days, is regularly seen on TV and runs his own website www.betwiththecolonel.co.uk.
CHELTENHAM Racecourse announced last week that Jardine Lloyd Thompson and William Hill will both be sponsoring races on the opening day of the festival, Tuesday, March 13.
Jardine Lloyd Thompson will be putting their name to the JLT Specialty Chase (a handicap). This is the fiercely competitive open handicap chase, run over an extended three miles.
Five winners of the JLT Specialty Chase have gone on to claim the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the latest being Charter Party in 1988 and it is a contest that almost always produces a thrilling finish. Wichita Lineman’s last gasp victory in 2009 for owner JP McManus and trainer Jonjo O’Neill was nominated by multiple champion jockey AP McCoy as the best ride of his career.
William Hill has sponsored at the festival every year from 1998 to 2010, so will be making a welcome return to the event.
The William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the opening race of the meeting, signalling the moment when 12 months of waiting is over. The extended two-mile contest has been won by a string of top horses including Bula, Brave Inca, L’Escargot and Noland.
Last year’s winner, Al Ferof, is currently one of the favourites to win the two-mile Arkle Trophy Chase at the 2012 Festival.
* THE legendary Kauto Star (3-1) made it win number five in the King George at Kempton Park on Boxing Day giving him a tremendous tally of 16 Grade 1s and £2,232,611 in prize money.
Paul Nicholls’ star chaser beat the Nicky Henderson trained favourite Long Run by a length-and-half margin with Captain Chris back in third.
Kauto Star was cut from 12-1 to 9-2 for the Gold Cup with Ladbrokes and Coral’s for the Gold Cup at the festival in March and the trainer is confident of a bold bid even though Kauto Star turned 12 this week.
Master Minded has run his last race, I am told, after recovering from surgery as a result of a injury in the King George on Boxing Day.
Le Beau Bai won the Welsh National Handicap Chase at Chepstow on Tuesday at 10-1 for trainer Richard Lee and jockey Charlie Poste with a seven length victory from the game, front-running Giles Cross.
My note pad horse this week is Maybe I Wont, who chased home the promising Star In Flight in the Maiden Hurdle at Catterick on Wednesday. James Moffatt’s 6-year-old was doing all his best work in the closing stages of the race and should be capable of making his presence felt in this sphere. At Lingfield on Saturday the best bet on the all-weather track is Wreningham in the 2.45, Pat Eddery’s consistent six-year-old, a brave winner at Southwell last time out, comes here at the top of his game.