POSTED Mar 18, 2011
    While the Grand National may be more popular for betting, in sporting terms, the Gold Cup is the biggest race in England. In fact, you can make a good case that the Gold Cup is the greatest race in the world. My fourth appearance at the Cheltenham Festival came in 2006 and the Gold Cup was run on St. Patrick's Day. The winner was the Irish-trained WAR OF ATTRITION. I took a little money out of the race and afterwards, the party was on.

    Speaking of parties, the Tuesday night scene at the Plough was happening. It's an amazingly small place, with low ceilings, a couple of nooks, two french-door type drink stations instead of a traditional bar, and a large beer garden out back. There were people everywhere, all of them racing fans, many over from Ireland. The plan was to have a pint (or two) of real ale there, then to move on to somwhere for dinner. But there was a wrench in the works: no taxis for hours and the one restaurant in walking distance was fully booked.

    Enter a nice, very familiar looking Irish guy behind me in line waiting to get a drink. He offered me use of his personal driver and then refused to allow me to pay for the round. As I waited for the car, his identity started to dawn on me. He told me he'd ridden in America for Miles Valentine, and had broken his leg at Camden. I still couldn't quite connect the dots. The car arrived, I got in, and Frank the Driver solved the mystery for me. My benefactor was none other than Mouse Morris, trainer of War of Attrition.

    On to today's tips. As I mentioned before, the card looks a little tricky but I have a couple of bets I'll put on this morning and then I'll adjust and come up with a few more things via twitter (@loomsboldly) based on paddock ideas, the ground etc.

    In Race 3, the Albert Novices' Hurdle (run at 3 miles), I like the looks of #3 BOB'S WORTH. He is undefeated over hurdles, loves it around Cheltenham, and the form of his last is looking good with Rock On Ruby running a strong second to Mouse Morris' First Lieutenant in the shorter Novice Hurdle Grade 1 on Wednesday.

    In the big one, Race 4, the Gold Cup (a 3 mile, 2.5 furlong steeplechase), my main bet will be on #5 IMPERIAL COMMANDER. He won this race last year, goes really well fresh, and is a bona fide member of the Cheltenham horse-for-course club (have you figured out yet that that's a big deal to me?). Denman and Kauto Star (both past Gold Cup winners) are incredibly cool horses and I'll be thrilled to cheer them on if they're in with shots, but I feel like they'll both be short enough relative to their chances.

    If you're looking for a longshot flyer in the Gold Cup, take a long look at #3 CHINA ROCK. He could still be improving, should like the ground, will be an big price. Did I mention he was trained by Mouse Morris?
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