Although I enjoyed the season as a whole, I think the Jumps is getting more and more focussed on the Cheltenham Festival.
Yes the 4 days in March are the highlight of the season but trainers are preparing horses 5 months in advance for the festival and are ultimately turning down the chance to get a horse fit for a handicap early on in the season, so the horse peaks for one day and one day only.
I think it is taking the enjoyment of the jumps away as from a tipping point of view, you are 2nd guessing if a horse is actually fit or are they having a training day.
This year more than ever punters found the season difficult as you can do all the studying in the world and read the form perfectly but if connections have a different idea in ‘looking after the handicap mark’ it is totally out of your hands.
Personally I think the BHA need to look into this problem going forward and start looking to see if horses are running to their full potential.
As always the season was hit by unbelievable highs and some terrible lows.
First I would like to mention some horses who have now left us or have been retired. Many Clouds, Vautour, Simonsig were headlining losses and will be sorely missed in the game.
Spinter Sacre was retired and the likes of Thistlecrack, Faugheen and Annie Power were unfortunately injured. They will be welcomed back next season but maybe not the latter who will now surely be retired.
The season got underway with the Charlie Hall Chase where Cue Card was beaten convincingly by Irish Cavalier. Cue Card then bounced back in the Betfair Chase with a devastating performance and went to the head of the King George market.
We then had Native River win the Hennessy Gold Cup and also put in one of the performances of the season when winning the Welsh National.
The novice chaser Thistlecrack was making all the noises over fences and had a mouthwatering clash with Cue Card in the King George. What a race that was with Thistlecrack absolutely taking the field apart.
Thistlecrack was then beaten by Many Clouds who showed all the heart and guts to get up on the line. Sadly that was a performance which cost him his life, but what a way to go, winning at Cheltenham and beating Thistlecrack.
Altior continued to jump fences with real zest and looks a star in the making.
Over in Ireland Sizing John relished the step up to 3 miles with a win in the Irish Gold Cup, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham Festival was another amazing 4 days where JPW came away with 7 winners.
The highlights of the week for Racing Fans were Altior, Buveur D’ Air, Apples Jade, Might Bite, Special Tiara, Cause Of Causes, Yorkhill, Un Des Sceaux, Nichols Canyon, Defi De Seuil, Penhill and finally Gold Cup winner Sizing John.
From a personal point of view my favourite winner for the week was Arctic Fire. You put hours and hours of work and although we were already in profit we added a 28/1 winner to the portfolio. It gives you a bit of relieve that all those hours work were worthwhile and your job is done.
A brilliant winner and brilliant week keeping our Cheltenham Festival Special 8 from 8 over the last 8 years.
Up next was the Grand National meeting and One For Arthur was a terrific winner of the Grand National under an ice cool ride from Derek Fox.
Just last week saw the National Hunt season come to an end at Punchestown and Sandown.
Nicky Henderson came away with the trainers title in Britain and Willie Mullins came away the Irish version.
So What Do We Have In Stall Next Season?
Well is Altior the next Sprinter Sacre?
Can Buveur D’Air defend his Champion Hurdle crown?
Can Thistlecrack come back and take the Gold Cup crown from Sizing John?
All these questions are ones which will surely spice up the season once again.
For now though we are back to the flat and for the first time I am actually looking forward to it. I am happy to get away from the jumps and reflect on how we go about making a profit in National Hunt season.
Whatever happens we will be back, bigger stronger than ever.
JPW Racing Tipster
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