Carberry can reign in first-day deluge

Soft ground will benefit Cheltenham's leading lady as top-class jumps season begins

So there might be a drop of rain about? Big deal. It cannot possibly be as vile as the third day of the meeting, two years ago, when they abandoned the bumper after hours of relentless, horizontal sleet. And of course some among the tweedy throng at Cheltenham today would find perverse satisfaction in their very discomfort, on the principle that when the effete get going, they go to Santa Anita.

Be that as it may, heavy rain during the first top-class fixture of the jumps season will have practical consequences for those proposing a wager. Betting on its biggest prize, the Paddy Power Gold Cup tomorrow, has already been animated by gambles on mudslingers like Tranquil Sea and Ballyfitz, but conditions may already be deteriorating for the four races televised by Channel 4 this afternoon.

Hoopy and Alexanderthegreat – first and second last year, when the winning rider "borrowed" a whip from a startled rival after losing his own – are both back for the opener. The runner-up remains feasibly handicapped, while Hoopy remains entitled to further progress after a recent spin at Galway. But preference is for My Lord Oscar (1.15) who is ridden by the first lady of Cheltenham in Nina Carberry – more than a match for male amateurs – and whose strong-travelling style should be well suited by a good gallop round here.

Carberry and Enda Bolger would appear to have the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase sewn up with the track specialist Garde Champetre (3.0). "He knows his way round all right, had a run three weeks ago, and is cherry-ripe now," the trainer said yesterday, before confessing that his other runner, Heads On The Ground, "is starting to get a bit long in the tooth now."

The Irish also have a couple of formidable candidates for the Sharp Novices' Hurdle in Loosen My Load and Some Present. Punters need to be wary, however, none being tested in very soft ground and most capable of considerable improvement. Some Present (1.50) returns to the scene of his excellent run behind Dunguib in the Champion Bumper and Tom Mullins, his trainer, is happy to ignore his recent defeat in a ludicrous crawl round Punchestown. "He just spooked, I think it was probably at some hurdles stacked on the side, and it turned into a farce after that," Mullins said yesterday. "But he's a pretty good jumper and seems in great form. So we might as well test the water."

Incidentally, Mullins has already produced a bumper horse to make an even more impressive start to his career than did Some Present last season. Some Slam, who runs in the same colours, thrashed several subsequent winners at Listowel in September. "We'll probably run him in a bumper around Christmas," Mullins said. "And then we can take a view, whether he's good enough to go to the Festival. But the form looks very good, he's only a four-year-old and he's stronger again since. I'd be very hopeful for him."

Song of Songs (2.25) brings a touch of class to the other televised race and may prove fairly treated even with his big weight. Later on the card Tony McCoy wears the same silks on Aigle d'Or (4.05), probably the value against Ashkazar, who must prove his stamina in the conditions.

The first deluges have already swept Ireland, where waterlogging caused the loss of a good card at Clonmel yesterday. Officials at Punchestown are doing their best to keep an absorbing weekend fixture afloat, but more rain is expected. In principle the star turn will be Hurricane Fly, the outstanding novice hurdler of last season who is scheduled to make his reappearance on Sunday's card.

Unfortunately his trainer Willie Mullins has again been experiencing problems with another of his best horses, Fiveforthree. "He just hasn't taken his training well," Mullins explained. "There is no further damage or injury. We have just decided it would be prudent not to continue [this season]. He won't be in training but will have light exercise. Hopefully he will have a full campaign next season, and go chasing then."

Turf account: Chris McGrath


Rossbeigh (3.35 Cheltenham) Made an encouraging return at Wexford and could be value to confirm himself happier over hurdles than he was over fences.

Next best

Garde Champetre (3.0 Cheltenham) The undisputed class act will be short odds but his enthusiasm is such that they may not be short enough.

One to watch

Lepido (G Moore) would not be the only son of Montjeu to have his quirks but has more ability than his rating, judging by the way he travelled at Lingfield on Tuesday.

Where the money's going

The Ballyfitz gamble in the Paddy Power Gold Cup continues, the sponsors now 7-1 from 10-1 – having laid the trainer 16-1 in a charity bet on Wednesday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power