Half time

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Dad and Sheila on their way home. Annie and Stella about to be on their way home. It’s about to be my Cheltenham again. I’ll see horses today.

Another classic day at Cheltenham yesterday as the father/son team of Gary and Jamie Moore combined to win the Queen Mother with Sire de Grugy. As we came over Cleeve Hill before the races, Cheltenham radio featured the Preston Family and Friends Ltd., owners, who put cash in an account to celebrate their father’s 50-year-old birthday – he always talked about buying a horse –  the money bought the Queen Mother winner. Dreams.

Today’s showdown, today’s public changing of the guard comes in the World Hurdle when Big Buck’s tries to win another World Hurdle while the undefeated Irish mare Annie Power tries to vanquish the senior steward from the front of the stand to the back of the stand. Ruby Walsh danced all the big dances with Big Buck’s, now he rides Annie Power. He has the key to two cities

Strong day yesterday, selecting three winners (Faugheen, Sire de Grugy and Balthazar King) and tabbing three big-priced horses in the first three (Bayan, Whisper, Joshua Lane) and just missed with Smad Place on top in the RSA. Keep it rolling.

The First. JLT Novices’ Chase. Grade I. $199,000. 2 ½-miles.

This is the Arkle with another half-mile. Oscar Whiskey has won his last three, Felix Yonger flies the Mullins/Walsh banner, Vukovar has been hyped all year.

The Picks: Wonderful Charm, Felix Yonger, Taquin du Seuil.

The Second. The Pertemps Network Final. Listed Handicap Hurdle. $133,000. 3 miles.

24 runners. Talented Fingal Bay returned to hurdles after an aborted chase career for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson.

The Picks: Fingal Bay, Jetson, Josies Orders.

The Third. The Ryanair Chase. Grade I. Handicap Chase. $456,500. 2 5/8-miles.

Veterans try to find their way. Hunt Ball flies the American fly in his return to Cheltenham. In a rarity at Cheltenham, just one horse Benefficient in the field won his most recent start.

The Picks: Al Ferof, Bennefficient, Rajdhani Express.

The Fourth. The Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Grade I. $456,500. 3 miles.

The clash. The changing of the guard? Big Buck’s aims for his 23rd career win. Annie Power goes for her 11th – of 11.

The Picks: Annie Power, Big Buck’s, Zarkandar.

The Fifth. Byrne Group Plate. Class 1 Hurdle. $149,500. 2 ½-miles.

Tap Night flies the flag for American breeding, bringing some Spring Hill Farm blood to the Festival. He’ll love the ground. 24 runners.

The Picks: Tap Night, Third Intention, Tatenen.

The Sixth. Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase. Amateurs. $99,500. 3 1/16-miles.

The Picks: Cause Of Causes, There’s No Panic, Indian Castle.

In the words of the immortal George Baker – Must dash.